The Healthfear Crisis

“This is nothing but a government takeover of health care!”  “They will be killing elderly people!”  “They will take away my Medicare!”  “I won’t get to keep my doctor!”  “My health care costs will go up!”  “My taxes will go up!”  “Quality of health care will go down!”  “I’ll have to wait a month to see a doctor!”

This New York Times article indicates that the Republican “Healthfear” blitz is having the desired effect.  The million-and-a-half-a-day the insurance industry is providing for the fight against the plan is certainly being well spent.  The Republicans have two excellent reasons to kill health care reform:

  1. If successful they get to deprive the Obama administration of a major piece of legislation, which they think will gain them huge political advantage in the next election cycle.
  2. They are being well-paid by the healthcare insurance industry who are only too happy to fill their campaign coffers in return for fighting for the status quo.

The so-called “Blue dog” Democrats, identified as representing districts which voted for McCain in the last election, seem to be working with the Republicans for the following reasons:

  1. They are being well-paid by the healthcare insurance industry who are only too happy to fill their campaign coffers in return for fighting for the status quo.
  2. They are scared-to-death of being replaced in the next cycle by either a more conservative Democrat, or a Republican.

So, those are the people fighting against healthcare reform, and you might notice that their reasons for being against reform have nothing whatsoever to do with hard-working Americans, many of whom are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy.  There are a couple of poll numbers in the article that indicate just how frightened Americans are about the future of healthcare.

“And despite Mr. Obama’s efforts to address public misgivings — in speeches, news conferences, town hall meetings and other forums — 69 percent of respondents in the poll said they were concerned that the quality of their own care would get worse if the government created a program that covers everyone….The poll found 66 percent of respondents were concerned that they might eventually lose their insurance if the government does not create a new health care system, and 80 percent said they were concerned the percentage of Americans without health care would continue to increase unless Congress acts.” (Emphasis mine)

69 percent were concerned that their own care would get worse if the government acted, and 66 percent were concerned that they would lose their insurance if the government did not overhaul the system.  Those numbers are hard to reconcile, aren’t they?  To me they indicate that Healthfear is working just like it was supposed to, and a majority of Americans are failing to see that they are being manipulated by powerful forces in the insurance industry working through their stooges in congress.

The latest on the negotiations, as I write this, indicate that an agreement has been reached in one of the committees, that waters down the public option by failing to tie costs on the option to Medicare costs, which means the public option must negotiate with providers to set costs.  What this means to you and me is that there will essentially be no competition with the insurance companies to keep them in line, so they can continue to rip us off as they have before.

Anything other then a full public option, with set costs is not health care reform at all, it is meaningless and not worth doing.  But that’s just what the insurance industry wants – it’s the best of both worlds for them.

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9 responses to “The Healthfear Crisis

  1. you might notice that their reasons for being against reform have nothing whatsoever to do with hard-working Americans,

    What I “notice” is that you only decided to list certain reasons that (says you) your opponents have for their position. Then you “noticed” that (presto!) those reasons – the ones you typed out and decided to list, yourself – were only bad ones.

    What you omit is that people who disagree with you can have sincere, principled reasons for doing so. I’ll have you know I personally oppose anything involving (yet more) government provision of/involvement in health care. It is not because I somehow get money from insurance companies.

    • Thank you for your comments, Mr. Charmer, and if you ever start a blog of your own, you might realize that the reason some people choose to start blogs is that they get to write about their own opinions, without having to be fair or balanced (like FOX news).

      I understand your feelings, I just disagree with you, and furthermore your reasoning is irrelevant as far as my piece is concerned, unless you are a member of congress, because that’s who I was writing about. Several Republicans are on record as to their political reasons for wanting to “break” Obama and “destroy” his presidency. There have also been several articles in the news detailing who is getting what from the insurance industry, and I’m sure if you look you will find them.

      If the health care insurance companies had not been so greedy, there would be no need for the government to rein them in with competition. Health plan costs have doubled in the last ten years, and will double again in the next ten years without some sort of meaningful reform. Many Americans can’t get insurance at all because the insurance companies cherry pick whom they accept and have a nasty habit of dropping anyone who looks like they are going to get expensive. This cannot continue, we cannot afford it!

      If you have reasonable solutions to these problems, please feel free to join the debate, your ideas would be welcome.

      Pete

      • Thank you for your comments, Mr. Charmer, and if you ever start a blog of your own,

        Which I have… 😉 (many times)

        they get to write about their own opinions

        Of course you “get” to write about your own opinions. You can also try to pretend that your opinions are facts. The reader doesn’t have to play along however.

        Again, you claimed that all opponents of health care reform had only bad reasons. This claim is supported only by a made-up list of two reasons you yourself created. I’m just pointing this out, which is what comments sections are for.

        unless you are a member of congress, because that’s who I was writing about.

        That’s who you were purporting to write about. In reality you were writing about a straw-man of your invention.


        Several Republicans are on record as to their political reasons for wanting to “break” Obama and “destroy” his presidency.

        1. ‘several’ is actually quite substantively different from ‘most’ let alone all.

        2. who, exactly? feel free to put forth the links to back this up.

        3. even if some (R) said he wants to ‘break’ Obama and ‘destroy’ his Presidency, that doesn’t actually prove he can’t also have principled reasons for opposing (yet more) gov’t health care takeover. The two are simply not mutually exclusive.

        If the health care insurance companies had not been so greedy, there would be no need for the government to rein them in with competition.

        This is economic mumbo-jumbo that means zilch. What is your precise claim and on what actual facts is it based? How do you measure how “greedy” a company is? And what companies do you know of that aren’t “greedy”? And how will competition (from government, you mean to say?) “rein them in”? Do you mean “put them out of business”?

        Health plan costs have doubled in the last ten years, and will double again in the next ten years without some sort of meaningful reform.

        Perhaps. Is “Obama’s” plan such a reform? An argument of some sort, based on the actual details (not based on straw-manning its opponents), might help to convince. (I’m taking your word for it that “health care costs have doubled in the last ten years”, but that is vaguely-defined claim, BTW. Which health care costs? Whose? Which procedures? I can think of many procedures, and medicines, whose costs haven’t doubled…)

        Many Americans can’t get insurance at all because the insurance companies cherry pick whom they accept

        You mean, business don’t like to enter into contracts that are 99% certain to lose them money?

        How strange.

        Anyhow, if the problem is that many Americans “can’t” get insurance, it sounds like a good solution would be to target those Americans. The starting-point should be the families of such people. Shouldn’t families take care of their own? Don’t you take care of your own, or do you expect others to?

        Another approach would involve charities (which exist). A third approach might involve welfare programs at the state level (which exist). A fourth approach would involve welfare programs at the federal level (which exists – Medicaid). We also have a fifth approach, which is essentially mandated care via EMTALA – a federal law that requires all ERs to providal medical care based on need, without regard to payment.

        By one or more of the above methods, people who “can’t” get insurance still end up getting health care. (Do you claim otherwise?)

        So what is the problem exactly? It can’t just be that some people “don’t have health insurance”. Who cares about health insurance per se? Health insurance by itself is just a giant pamphlet of paperwork and signatures. Health insurance just for the sake of health insurance is not and cannot be any sort of goal. It’s health care that should be the goal. Health care is actually a different thing from health insurance.

        This cannot continue, we cannot afford it!

        What do you mean exactly? Who cannot afford what? And compared to what?

        “Obama’s” plan proposes to spend zillions more dollars. How can we afford that? What sort of zany comparison are you making where you use the phrase “we cannot afford it” as part of an argument for spending boatloads more money? We can’t afford X so let’s spend X plus 10 billion? I can’t follow that math.

        If you have reasonable solutions to these problems, please feel free to join the debate, your ideas would be welcome.

        What is the problem you think you have identified? Best I can tell, looks like you think the problem is “many Americans can’t get insurance”. But as you see, I don’t agree that’s a problem (in and of itself).

        Is the problem that health care costs have risen too fast for your liking (doubled in the last ten years, you say)? In that case, I suggest a tried-and-true method for lowering costs of goods and services for humans:

        A free(r) market. In health care, there is no such thing. And that is part and parcel of why costs are so high. But this would move in the precise opposite direction that Obama and much of Congress want to go.

        Best,

      • pwsoderman

        Again, I see no suggestions from you, merely more right-wing talking points. The thing is broken and needs fixing. Picking apart a few remarks and challenging facts that can be substantiated, and you know it, gets us no closer to solving the problems.

  2. LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. (Thomas Paine)

    We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 of you dies each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of healthcare means.

    I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. A trillion dollar taxpayer funded private health insurance bailout is all you really get without a robust government-run public option available on day one. Co-OP’s ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION. They are a fraud being pushed by the GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry that is KILLING YOU!

    YOU CANT HAVE AN INSURANCE MANDATE WITHOUT A ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION. MANDATING PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE AS YOUR ONLY CHOICE WOULD BE A DISASTER AND UNETHICAL, CORRUPT, AND MORALLY REPUGNANT. AND PROBABLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS WELL.

    These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

    Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

    But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

    But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

    Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will help you feel better too.

    There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

    I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

    You have been AMAZING!!! my people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. 🙂

    God Bless You

    jacksmith — Working Class

    I REST MY CASE (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

    * Richard Shelby of Alabama
    * Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    * John McCain of Arizona
    * Mel Martinez of Florida
    * Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    * Mike Crapo of Idaho
    * Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    * Sam Brownback of Kansas
    * Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    * David Vitter of Louisiana
    * Kit Bond of Missouri
    * Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    * Richard Burr of North Carolina
    * George Voinovich of Ohio
    * Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
    * Jim DeMint of South Carolina
    * John Thune of South Dakota
    * Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    * Bob Bennett of Utah

  3. My Left Nutmeg just published a similar post discussing the need for the framing of the debate to change. They make the point that this issue is not about reforming health care but about reforming health insurance. I agree. The focus needs to be on the health insurance industry.

    http://www.myleftnutmeg.com/diary/11620/enough-by-Met00

    Stop calling it health care reform!

    Nurses aren’t fighting it….
    Doctors aren’t fighting it.

    It’s not about “reforming health care”.

    It is HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM

    The Insurance industry doesn’t want reform since it will kill their profits. It’s time the left start setting the frame. When we talk about it today we open the door to all the right-wing BS that allows them to talk about “socialized medicine” and Canada, etc. We have to use the terms that benefit us and change the focus. That begins by taking the frame away from the other side. When we talk on TV when we talk on radio, when we blog and post, we have to make this about the evil bastards that DENY COVERAGE to people. That raise rates, but shrink benefits. The refuse to cover risks based on “existing conditions.” That only want to cover healthy young people that will pay their money in, but if you actually need them, they drop you like a rock, They deny services, the ration your access to health care. That is why we need HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM.

    If we don’t take the frame back NOW, then this battle is LOST!

  4. I see no suggestions from you

    “A free(r) market.”

    Hard to see what you don’t read, perhaps?

  5. To be more specific, here are some suggestions:

    -End the tax credit for employer-provided health insurance. This is an anachronistic holdover from post-WW2. It creates an incentive to link employment and health packages and this is utterly silly: there aren’t incentives that link employment to how/whether you can buy food, or shelter, or clothing, or anything else. It makes people scared to leave jobs and it makes health insurance overvalued. Health insurance is a service that people need. They should be able to buy it on the open market like anything else. This should have nothing to do per se with whether/where they are employed. The bizarre, company-town link between employment and health care has got to end.

    -Eliminate well-meant but misguided laws that prescribe or set a floor on what health insurance must cover. It should be possible to buy a very basic, very cheap, catastrophe-only health insurance policy, that is ONLY for times of dire need. (Indeed, this is what ‘insurance’ is supposed to mean.) But this is impossible if my state lawmakers force insurance companies to only offer policies that cover wart removal and earwax-cleaning and artificial breasts and everything else on up the scale. What if I don’t want all that, what if I only want coverage for the big stuff? I’m not given that choice. Well, imagine if state lawmakers forbid car companies from selling (and people from buying) anything cheaper and less luxurious than a Mercedes? And you complain why health insurance costs so much?

    -The standard should be for health insurance to be true health insurance, not a weird sort of screwy payment plan. Why should health insurance cover regular doctor checkups with “copays” at all? Silly. Pay for doctor visits out of pocket (and reduce the monthly insurance bill accordingly). Does car insurance cover oil changes and windshield-wiper replacements? No. Car insurance is for serious damage to your car that would incur a high unexpected cost. Health insurance should be for serious damage to one’s health that would incur a high unexpected cost. (Now, if people WANT to buy a health-payment package that ‘covers’ all their regular doctor visits, then fine, but this shouldn’t be the norm, and wouldn’t be in a freer market.) Why should a healthy 22-year-old who probably won’t go to a doctor at all for the next 5 years be on any sort of payment plan that covers doctor visits? Catastrophic coverage, yes; ‘plan’ that covers doctor visits and aspirin, no. Again: let insurance be true insurance. That’s not what most people have, and it’s in large part because of misguided government policy.

    -Eliminate or reduce licensing requirements for basic medical care. Shouldn’t need an M.D. to test someone’s throat for strep with a cotton swab. Nurses can and should do a lot more of the health care most people get, as well. Medicine is a guild, it controls who gets “licenses”, and requires people to spend 7 years of college+ schooling, plus internship plus residency just to get in. People go into debt and spend 10 years of their 20s in college, of *course* the reward needs to be high, otherwise who would ever do such a thing? This situation is good for existing doctors’ salaries and vacation homes, not so much for patients who just need very basic stuff but have to pay for their doctors’ gold-plated degrees on the wall and student-loans.

    -At the same time reform tort law to rein in lawsuit sizes, thus reduce the malpractice insurance doctors have to carry. We are making it unnecessarily hard, and expensive, to become and be a doctor. And once again, then we complain about the cost of medicine!

    -Finally, enforce laws against illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants, because they don’t have legitimate status, can’t get jobs, are afraid to present ID, etc., are (understandably) using ER visits disproportionately for their medical care, which is a contributing factor to the high costs everyone complains about. But the people doing the complaining are the same people who support EMTALA and disapprove of cracking down on immigration. This is illogical at best.

    Ok, so, do those count as suggestions? Is Obama proposing to do any of these things? What is he proposing instead, and how exactly will it help the problems you say you want to fix?

    Best,

  6. Pingback: Healthfear Crisis II – The Rethuglicans « A Few Random Thoughts…

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