Thursday, June 25, 2009

Episode 65: The Scoop vol.5

Hello and welcome to the scoop, a recurring post where every 13 episodes, I write three mini posts on topics I find interesting in the news. Why every 13 episodes? Well The first scoop episode was written for episode 13, so I thought it’d be fun to have a recurring theme. We’ll be continuing with the “Road to the 21st Century” series in the next post.

Minding Your Own Beeswax

Obama has come under some heavy fire from the right and even from some on the left about his reaction to the Iranian government with regards to the protest on the recent election. I think Obama is 1000000000% correct on his approach to the situation. We are not the global police department, and the people of Iran should be free to exercise their revolt free of influence from any country. Who meddled with our affairs during the Civil Rights movement? No one. We were free to beat the crap out of each other, spray people down with fire hoses, boycott busses, shoot college students, assassinate the leader of the movement, and send out the attack dogs into big crowds, all in the sake of fighting for one’s civil liberties to recognized under law. And because we were free to do that, we were able to evolve to the point where we elected Barack Obama. The Middle East will NEVER be solved with militaries or political posturing, but with spirited revolt like we’re seeing now. The Iranian people need to fight this battle alone. Now of course, if this becomes a situation where they are putting citizens in gas chambers, well of course we have to step in. But it is Americans constantly sticking our noses in places where it doesn’t belong, all in the sake of moral superiority that really pisses off other nations. I’m glad Obama has the good sense to “see how it plays out.”

Yet Another Reason Why Public Health Options is a Good Idea

Brave Captain Sullenberger, used all the skills in his arsenal to safely land the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson river that fateful winter day. He is a true American hero, humble and incredible modest about his amazing feat. It was the feel good story to kick off 2009… until now. Some months after the event, it dawned on the people of that flight that “hey! Our luggage, wallets, laptops, important documents, and personal belongings were in that plane too and they are now at the bottom of the river!” In such a case, one would make a claim to the insurance company to reimburse their lost possessions. Not in this case. US Airways’ insurer AIG refuses to pay out insurance claims. Why? Because the insurance company claims that in order to pay claims, there has to be negligence on the part of the airlines. Captain Sullenberger was anything but negligent.

Here is a more relevant story, about how private health insurance companies screw over their customers. This is what big business does!!! It is not about your health, or providing you coverage, or insuring that an emergency surgery won’t send you to the poor house. It is 100% about making profit, using human life as commodities. It is absolutely disgusting. What big business does is horde money so they can increase the size of their wallets at other people’s expense. Insurance companies try like mad to pay as little money as they possibly can, your illness be damned. I am always up for debate on the particulars, but I stand firmly on my belief that there should be a national healthcare plan to avoid crap like this.

Proud to be an American!

USA beat the #1 ranked soccer (yes SOCCER!) team Spain to advance to the FIFA championship! I imagine that it must piss off countries when we win in sports Americans don’t even like that much! In America, soccer is one of those sports that’s awesome until senior year of high school. If you’re good, you play in college, but by then football and basketball is more fun to watch. So while I’m far removed from the sport now, I’m happy about the win because I played goalie on a championship team in 6th grade, and when I play the EA Sports FIFA 2010 demo for PlayStation 3, I can use USA as my team, since demos only give you the teams that go into the championship game. I have no reason to shell out $60 bucks for the game now!
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15 comments: on "Episode 65: The Scoop vol.5"

Nick said...

So a couple simple questions, for a proponent of government-run health care:

If the government adopted a public plan, which was essentially free, and to pay for it enacted new taxes on private plans, and as a result of that all private plans went away (because they could no longer be competitive), would you be comfortable with that?

If, in the above scenario, the government also imposed medicare-style payment amounts on the medical care facilities, and as a result no medical care facilities could be profitable, and the only ones remaining government-subsidized entities (universities, etc.), would you be comfortable with that?

Finally, following the above scenario, if the "below-market" mandated uniform payments for medical services made the medical profession unattractive for smart people, and certainly not worth the work and dedication currently necessary to become doctors, nurses, or medical researchers, and as a result all those jobs either went away, or became performed by minimally-educated government workers with no practical means or incentive to heal anyone, would you be comfortable with that?

What of those predictable and inevitable eventualities would you seek to avoid, if any, and how? If not any, do you think the rest of the country is aware of the eventual consequences of a public plan, and would accept them as preferable to the current status?

TRUTH 101 said...

If I could answer Nick; government health insurance is not "free" unless you're on public aid. Medicare premiums are deducted from Social Security checks and there are some hefty deductibles and copays. Thus the need for supplemental insurance.

I don't support the President's plan, whatever there is of it so far anyway, so I can't defend it. Sorry.

I support a single payer national health insurance system in which we ALL pay through a 4% income tax and appropriate copays and deductibles to protect the system from the "mooches."

Great blog TL. I wish you success.

The Law said...

thanks for your question nick. I'll try my best to answer them. Due to the length of my response it will be segmented into two parts.

#1) Would a public plan eliminate private plans?

Absolutely not. This argument is the one insurance companies are pushing hard, and I think it is very illogical. All we have to do is look at other government sponsored programs:

Post office – The government run post office has several options for shipping large packages (I use packages because believe sending letters is not an option through fed ex et al.), particularly, the flat rate box. If I’m sending smaller items, sometimes that option is better. Still more times than not I use the private business option of FedEx or UPS. They have better rates, faster service times, and better handle larger packages. Still nothing beats the simplicity of the post office for sending an old fashioned letter.

Education – This is a bit more analogous example of how government enterprises can coexist. Every single child in this country has a right to access education regardless of race, color, ethnicity, orientation, creed, financial status or anything else. Still, 11% of children attend private schools. Though overall education isn’t terribly different from public schooling, private school students do more often than not have access to better classroom resources, more enriched study, and more focus on cultivating a student’s interests, like the LaGuardia School of Performing Arts. Public education has not eliminated private schools, especially considering a large population of students attend private pre-school as opposed to public options, as they offer more individualized instruction and better resources.

Student loans – To pay for my master’s degree, I had to take out both government and private loans. The private loans offered far more money, but the government loan gave me better repayment options, and subsided half of my loan so I don’t pay interest on the whole thing. This is how I envisioned health care could work. For smaller things like checkups and medium things like child birth, the government could pay for those. For larger things like intensive surgeries, There could be a kind of repayment plan like the Stafford student loan, where one would have a longer time to pay off a loan, and a certain amount of it is subsidized.

#2) I will be perfectly honest in saying I’m not entirely sure how the medicare payment system works. However, see #1 for why that won’t eliminate private health care and also, the plan to create a far more efficient system for medicare and Medicaid would probably mitigate those problems with money management.

#3) This is a legitimate concern and I think we can debate on how to ensure that people are making money commensurate with their expertise, skills, or training. As I always argue, I believe the argument should not be whether we have a public option for healthcare, but rather how we should implement it. An amendment to the bill that calls for uniform payment for medical services is something I would not support.

The Law said...

Part 2:
Something that could work is every American is insured up to $50,000 in medical coverage per year. If I had to get a checkup at a local private clinic, the cost would still be about the same, maybe $750 bucks. However, that money would count against your $50,000 tab. For the average American, we’d never come close to needing to use all that money. But if we needed a surgery, say an appendectomy that cost $51,000, then we’d use up all the credit and would have to pay a loan, for which the terms can fit a person’s financial situation just like a Stafford loan. Let’s say interest up to $15,000 could be subsidized by the government, and the person can choose a 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, or 60 month payment plan. For larger surgeries, the payment plan could extend to 30 years. This ensures every person is covered and has a way to pay the money back. Now, a private insurer may have a better plan, like you pay a $1000 deductible and they cover your entire cost of an operation without needing to take out a loan. But there has to be a way public and private options can coexist because they already do in other businesses.

The Law said...

Turth101, thanks for the kind words, and for visiting!

Your proposal seems interesting, and I'm interested to learn more about your solution. Feel free to stop by anytime to offer your perspective on the this important debate, and I'll check out your blog as well =)


Grog said...

Yeah we beat Spain! I knew all we needed was a generation who grew up playing soccer like kids in the rest of the world.

and as to Iran, I must again put in a large quote:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

ps the US post office is a private company not associated with the government anymore and I hate them.

Carl Wicklander said...

I have to agree with you on Iran. It's tempting to want to get involved, but there would probably be no good to come out of it. If they're going to get reform in Iran, they need to do it themselves.

Nice post.

Nick said...

Education probably is the best analogy, and I don't think private medical payment would be entirely eliminated (as long as it remained legal). I think we'd likely see a large-scale shift to the public plan as private plans are taxed and unable to compete, and the people with financial resources to acquire good medical care will move to purchasing it directly, while they are healthy and financially able to do so. The medical facilities and profession will shift from one where people have relatively equal access (under large group insurance plans) to a have and have-not system, where people who could say would get good care, and the rest of the people would get whatever care the government could provide, as it will be impossible to private health care servers to stay solvent treating "public-plan" patients. Sorta like education in large cities, where you must pay high rates for private education, or your children effectively get no instruction.

As for the "saving money through efficiency" straw man argument, there's no plausible reason to believe a government-run program will be more, or even at least as, financially efficient as a private one, even in for-profit industries. The argument is ridiculous, whether it's being offered by you, pundits, or politicians.

I don't think there's a debate that there are ways, in theory, to reform the medical coverage and care system in America which would be beneficial overall. I think the disconnect is that your ideas, my ideas, and everyone else's ideas are not the Democrats' ideas, and the simple fact is that when you strip away the idealistic view of what might be a good plan, the Democrats' actual plan is horrible, and there's no confidence from myself or any of the other dissenters that they would be capable of producing a plan which was not horrible. It's not productive to discuss what might be a good plan, when the "full socialized medicine" plan is being rammed through.

On that note, you didn't really answer my questions. You may not think my hypothetical scenarios will come to pass, but they are valid potential outcomes which some might argue are inevitable (in general terms). As such, I don't want to know if you think they are likely; I want to know if you're comfortable with health care in America if/when they come to pass. If you stop reading your projection of what might be better provisions into Obama's actual plan, are you comfortable with what the real, actual, currently being rammed through partisan plan would do?

grog said...

Big Business sucks and we all know it because people come second when the bottom line is the profit line.

The government may or may not do a good job, we will see. They can oversee vast networks efficiently (the military) and others not so well (FEMA)

HUMBLE TRUTH 101 said...

When those in charge of government are anti government (Bush Administration) it is logical that government would be ineffective. I wouldn't generalize that "Big Business sucks" as Grog said. But I absolutly agree that there are some services vital to our national well being that the profit motive must not be a factor in making decisions.

Thanks for the invite TL. You may notice mine and some of my commenters can be kind of "colorful" at times. I will behave myself when visiting your site.

The Law said...

I'll try again Nick...

#1 Would I be comfortable with Public health care replacing private healthcare?

I think we both agreed that won't happen. That said, I am perfectly comfortable with a predominantly public option. I think we have a right to have access to healthcare, as I believe a nation's health is a measure of our standard of living. A Nation as powerful as ours should be able to provide a basic right to all its citizens.

#2 Would I be comfortable with only government subsidized entities providing healthcare?

I *strongly* doubt that would happen. If in my hypothetical (which is valid because the halthcare particulars have not been announced yet) senario, if every american had up to $50,000 of healthcare coverage per year, where that person goes to recieve there care is irrelevant. One of the major provisions of the healthcare plan is people would go to the doctor they want to go to. Because Obama beleives the medicare payment style is inefficient, it also stands to reason that method of payment will be cut out as a result of healthcare reform. Whether the government can be more efficient than big business (it can't) is not an issue here because that type of ineifficient is one of Obama's paramount concerns, and I think people on both sides of the aisle will be looking to make the payment method more efficient. Would I be comfortable with your senario? I suppose not because that hurts competition. Again, I stress tat I think that outcome is very unlikely.

#3 Am I comfortable with uniform payments?

I do not support uniform payments. Still, I think it is flaw in out culture if the only reason one became a doctor was to make money. Some people really love medicine because the love helping people, others for the mystery and puzzle solving of diagnostic medicine. I got my degree in education because I love teaching despite the paycheck that is far less than the work and preparation that goes into educating students. However, I think it is important to make money that is commensurate with ones skill set - a specilization that is in high demand should be worth more than an everyday practice. Again, I doubt that such a provision would make it into the bill.

Nick said...

L, I think the only really remaining disconnect between our opinions is the difference between what we both might independently hope a health care reform might be, and what is actually being proposed by the Obamanation, and what the actual effects of the eventual proposed plan will be. For example, I find no reason to believe the Obamanation plan will not include uniform payments (exactly like Medicare does, and for the same reasons: mainly to control costs). However, I have not read Obama's actual proposed bill, or any specific facts, so I cannot definitively say that his plan will include uniform payments (or any of the other provisions I expect), so it's hard to debate about exactly how bad the plan is going to be for health care in general in the US.

That being said, I will debate one particular statement about the Obamanation plan which is oft-repeated, yet blatantly preposterous: that of the assertion the people will be able to choose the doctor they want to go to under the public plan. This would require, among other things, that all doctors accepted the public plan. As the public plan will almost certainly under-pay compared to other plans, the only way all doctors will take the public plan is if it is mandated, directly or implicitly (in the case of all the other private plans going away). If you accept the uniform payments premise (which seems obvious), this will lead to many health care facilities going away, and doctors becoming unavailable. However, all of that aside, neither you, nor I, nor Obama and his cohorts, can say with any certainty that people will be able to retain their current doctor after socializing the entire medical care system: it's just not possible to guarantee that outcome. The idea that it's being sold with that as one of the promises, when it's not only not possible to ensure but also extremely unlikely given the nature of the proposed change, is just indicative of the massive lies and distortions which are so common in the plans and actions of the Obamanation.

I think both of us would be uncomfortable with most of the outcomes which I predict as inevitable from the Obamanation plan as I understand it; we just disagree on what specifics the plan will include and how probable the outcomes are. That's a good step, though, I think; if dissenters like myself can get more supporters of socialized medical care to acknowledge that some possible outcomes are undesirable, then it should be easier to muster opposition as the plan details are fleshed out, and the outcomes become easier to foresee. Progressive, indeed. :)

conservative generation said...


Wow, did I ever miss the debate.

Actually, I think the airplane company is an excellent reason why public health insurance is a bad idea. First and foremost, every passenger was paid $4,000 for the incident. whether they deserve more? I'll let the court decide. That's the trick right there. Our protection from unfair business practices are upheld by the courts. As evidenced by automaker bondholders we have no such protection from the government. If I hate the air service that is giving me the shaft, I can take my business elsewhere and convince others to do so as well. There is no alternative with the government. If they screw you over, you are out on the street. You need only look at your evolved Barak Obama for the proof.

As for Iran, I'm doing a post later.

The Law said...

When your car is hit in an accident, and it is the other person's fault, their insurance company reimburses you for the full damage that accident caused.

Likewise, if and airplane goes down, there should be an itemized list of passenger's belongings, and should be compsensated accordingly.

If I was on that plane, considering my carry-on cargo, I had a laptop worth $1700, and a clarinet worth $6000. I should get a check for $7600. Private insurance companies do everything in their power not to pay your claims. It is wrong, it is unfair, and it is unacceptable.

If private insurance companies had to compete against a public plan, that kind of behavior would send AIG out of business for good.

The Keeper Of Odd Knowledge (KOOK) said...

It is incredible that you used AIG as proof that big businesses screw people, from a standpoint of how GOVT can fix things.

AIG is at the epicenter of the whole economic fiasco which your boy Chairman Zero, that idiot Dubya, the Banking Queen Barney Frank, et. al. in the very government you want to put in charge of my health CREATED.

Yes AIG is a crap company, they were allowed to get too big...too big to fail, so Chairman Zero said. Why? Because the Bureacracies that were supposed to keep a Company from getting that large EPIC FAILED. Now they want to create more Govt topolice to Govt. And you are apparently in favor of that.

Pull toward the light, Man. The answer is LESS GOVT, More free market.

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