Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Changes... are they needed?.... are they a good thing?

Tomorrow I'll post my analysis of the health care bill, but for today I wanted to ask a few broad questions. First - is reform needed? My thoughts - yes. For sure.

I want to be brief, so let me just quote James Fallows from the Atlantic:

That is how the entire rest of the developed world operates, as noted yesterday. It is the way the United States operates in most realms other than health coverage. Of course all older people are eligible for Medicare. Of course all drivers must have auto insurance. Of course all children must have a public school they can attend. Etc. Such "of course" rules offer protection for individuals but even more important, they reduce the overall costs to society, compared with one in which extreme risks are uncontained. The simplest proof is, again, Medicare: Does anyone think American life would be better now, on an individual or a collective level, if we were in an environment in which older people might have to beg for treatment as charity cases when they ran out of cash? And in which everyone had to spend the preceding years worried about that fate?


If reform is needed, is this bill that needed reform? Will it be helpful or harmful? 


I appreciate the perspective of the Economist, which is a British news source that is usually fiscally conservative and socially moderate to liberal. Their editorial had this to say:

The latest version of health reform which Democratic leaders hope to vote on in a matter of days is, to put it mildly, a terrible disappointment. Despite that, the Democrats must summon up their courage and vote for reform. This poor bill is still better than no bill at all for two reasons.  The first has to do with coverage. This newspaper loathes needless government intervention. But it also thinks that it is wrong for a country as rich as America to have tens of millions of people without health insurance. Beyond them is the much larger number of people who fear falling into that position through losing their jobs; and the larger number again who cannot get affordable insurance because they have an existing medical condition, or because they are too old, or because they have exhausted the “lifetime caps” imposed by insurance companies.

The second somewhat paradoxical reason is that this bill will have to be improved on after it is passed—especially when it comes to costs. America’s health-care system is a nightmare of perverse incentives. Because employer-provided health insurance is not considered to be a taxable benefit, people feel insulated from the real cost of their coverage and consequently over-consume. Because hospitals and medical practices in many areas face too little competition, they charge absurdly too much even for simple procedures. Because of the rapacity of America’s lawyers, the fear of lawsuits encourages doctors to practise “defensive” medicine, again driving up costs.

The current bill chips away at all of these problems. Gold-plated insurance policies will in effect lose their tax-exempt status, though not for a while, and not in full. An independent presidential commission will have some power to force down the rates paid to medical-service providers—though, insanely, hospitals are exempted. Tiny steps in the direction of tort reform are also provided for. All these things could be expanded in due course. For instance Republicans elected in November may well return to the issue of malpractice costs.

Some health-reform purists will scoff at such incrementalism. They argue that it would be better to do nothing now, wait for an old-fashioned fiscal crisis to force the issue, and then start again. That is an alternative we think most Americans would rather not experience. Mr Obama’s bill does a morally desirable thing in expanding health coverage, and it does a bit on costs. That is, on balance, enough for it to deserve to pass.

23 comments:

Lily said...

Hi Kacie,

I am one of your non-commenting readers, but in light of this post, may I suggest that you read these articles about the passage of the healthcare bill:

Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-hamsher/fact-sheet-the-truth-abou_b_506026.html

Investor's Business Daily
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=528099

The Atlantic
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/03/8-predictions-for-health-care/37826

Young Mom said...

After living as an American in Canada I was excited at the prospect of a universal plan. I was very disapointed to see Obama's plan doesn't reform healthcare costs at all. The one good thing about the bill is that the health care companies are required to insure people regardless of pre-existing conditions. I am still unable to wrap my mind around how a government can require their citizens to buy a private service? Especially when most of the people who don't have it can't afford it but are now required to get it anyways?

Kacie said...

We are already required to buy car insurance and no one objects to that!

Lily said...

Kacie,

The problem with your comparison to health care is that no is required to have a car or drive a car. It's like comparing apples to oranges.

Also, we don't have the full costs of the health care bill yet. A lot of the bill's implementation has been passed on to HHS. A couple of things we do know is that 15,500 new IRS agents are going to be hired to enforce the mandated health insurance. We also know that around 150+ new agencies are going to be set up to run the programs.

Another problem I see with this bill is that congress put in specific language exempting them and the executive branch (Obama etal) from the health care bill. If it's so wonderful and if we were supposed to get insurance just like congress, why did they exempt themselves?

Student loans were all given to the government in the health care bill also. Conservative estimates are that this will raise the costs of loans to students $1700-1800 because of the new fees imposed by the government.

Accountants wiser than I have shown the math doesn't work. The healthcare bill will put the USA into bankruptcy. In the meantime there will be new higher Federal taxes including a VAT tax. On the state side, they will have to raise state income, property, and sales taxes to cover the mandated medicare and etc costs put on them by the bill.

None of this helps the poor. These taxes will be passed on in the forms of higher rents, food, utility, and etc. taxes. It is an odious bill that was not thought through for the consequences both those that are obvious and those that are latent.

Please start reading the opponents articles. The main stream media is not reporting the opposing views. Polls done on the reporters show that they favor ObamaCare. Their articles are not objective.

May God richly bless you.

SyrianCatholic said...

Hi Kacie,
The *States* require us to carry car insurance not the Federal Government. The States can regulate us in this way, because of public safety, and the fact that we use public roads to drive on.

On the other hand, the Fed Gov. has no constitutional authority to force, and that is the correct word, Force citizens to buy a service. There is simply nothing in the constitution that allows the Fed. Gov. to do this. In fact the 10th amendment forbids it.

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." -10th Amendment.

The power in question(to force citizens to buy a service) is not "delegated to the United Sates by the Constitution", and therefore is the domain of the States, and not the Federal Government.

My two centavos.

Lily said...

I don't mean to sound like a meanie, but Accountants crunch numbers and read the fine print. The math simply won't work without tremendous increases in taxes - Fed, State, and Municipal. Even with crippling taxes, we will still end up bankrupting our future because the gap is too large.

Please Check out the articles I posted above and these new ones below. The Health Care bill is a financial disaster:

Washington Examiner
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/How-Obamacare-hits-industry-and-threatens-jobs-88860652.html

The Weekly Standard
http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/real-cost-health-care-legislation

Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ajwSWE6H1kHM

Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aEhggnpXWFT4

Kacie said...

FYI - I do read opposing sides and articles. I simply don't quote them because I disagree with them.

Lily said...

Ooops! I didn't explain the car insurance difference well. Car insurance is not mandated apart from driving a car on public roads. To opt out of car insurance... one can choose to not drive. There is no way to opt out of ObamaCare.

With car insurance, you can insure only one member (designated driver) in a family if you choose (eg: you don't have to insure your kids or one spouse unless you choose to have everyone drive a car). No one forces you to insure your entire family to drive and no one taxes your income and car insurance so they can offer subsidies to pay for others' car insurance.

Kacie said...

Lily, have you read the CBO's formal presentation to congress about estimated costs and savings of the bill?

SyrianCatholic said...

CBO double counted billions of dollars. Below is a video of Rep. Paul Ryan on the floor of Congress pointing out these troublesome facts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WOLkfnIlXI


The information in this video, if watched from begining to end is truly horrific!

Lily said...

No, Kacie, I have not read the CBO report in it's entirety - only portions of it. There are horrendous problems with the assumptions the CBO is forced to use when assessing the costs of the health care bill. The Democrats gamed the system. Think Enron accounting schemes and the Madoff ponzi scheme and you will begin to have a better idea of how serious this situation is. The methods they used are so dishonest it more than makes me cringe. I've been an accountant and tax preparer for small businesses for several decades and if I pulled these stunts, I would end not only getting sued in the civil courts, but in jail.

One of the things that really makes me sad is how many people do not understand basic business principles and that there are numerous ways one can cook the books and game the system. The Democrats have been more than dishonest with the American people about so much of what is in this bill and how it will affect us. It is heart-breaking that so many people have been duped and will continue to be deceived by their rhetoric. They remind me of the con man who says, "Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes." They play on people's goodwill and emotions in order to use them to reach their goals and people forget there is no such thing as a free lunch or that there are financial limits to what we can do.

( To be continued.. I will have to break up my comments into more than one comment since my comment is so long.)

Lily said...

Continued...

SyrianCatholic offered you a very good video that will help explain some of the problems. Even this video only touches on the tip of the iceberg. It goes much deeper. I wish politicians could be held to the same standards as the private sector. If we could, these people could be charged with their crimes and go to jail for fraud and racketeering. The government has so much power, that many are afraid to confront them for fear of repercussions. It took great courage for the Caterpillar company to announce that this bill would cost them $100 million dollars the first year of the bill's enactment. There are also many who stand to gain from this bill and thus don't care how bad the bill is. This bill will give the government so much power over the states, counties, municipalities, the private business sector, and individual lives that it takes my breath away.

We live in a fallen world and this is a good example of God's numerous warnings to beware of trusting men. Progressive ideology is not the same as classic liberal ideology and it is deeply flawed plus the progressives are displaying a thirst for power that is staggering. They are trumping good business practices, common sense, and honest service to the electorate with their ideology. They have openly shown that their ends justify their means. Many people will be deceived because the health care cookies are going to be handed out over the next 6-8 months in order to pacify the masses and enhance their chances in the 201o and 2012 elections.

There is also the danger of the government's actions usurping the Church's place in the public square and replacing Christian charitable organizations with the government dole. Catholic Services has already had to close their doors in several states because of the new laws that have been implemented this last year. The new health care bill will only expedite more and more Christian charities being unable to operate in this political climate and under the new laws. The new taxes will also make individuals and companies have less net income to donate to private charitable organizations that served our communities and it will take it's toll in tithes to churches.

We won't see the disastrous effects immediately since most of Obama's bill doesn't take effect until 2014, but there will not only be higher taxes, but new taxes and insolvency in the individual states will come fairly soon for some states because of the heavy burdens put on the states to pay for medicare. Did you know that almost 10,000 baby boomers will be joining Medicare and Social Security daily for the next couple of decades? Do the math and it is financially frightening.

As you can see, I more than concerned about the consequences of ObamaCare and I've barely begun to plumb my concerns not only for my nation but for my Lord's church.

Sturgmom said...

Personally, while I get the argument that "something is better than nothing," with regards to health care reform, I simply cannot see how requiring citizens to purchase private insurance of be fined, when many already can't afford it, is "reform."

And I don't even see how this plan is palatable to my more left-leaning friends with the complete exclusion of a public option.

I fully agree that we need something in terms of health care reform. The hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Americans without access to affordable heath CARE, not INSURANCE) is a travesty. I just don't think the provisions in this bill get us any closer to closing that gap.

V said...

Spend billions to reform healthcare (with the addition of it possibly saving in the long run) and people show a fury words can not contain.
Spend many times that much money on forign wars and many of the same people hardly make a peep.
I'm less concerned about whether or not people agree with this specific bill than I am by the implication that a large number of my fellow citizens may be happier to have their tax dollars fund taking rather than saving lives...

SyrianCatholic said...

I list the video below, to demonstrate the AMERICAN principles that militate against this horrid "Health Care" bill. So far no one posting on this blog has even mentioned the funding of Abortion that IS in this bill. Our Money, will be used to kill babies PERIOD

in response to this someone might say, "but, but, Mr. Obama signed an executive order against it."

The executive order is not worth the paper it is written on. The President CANNOT overturn Law. He cannot overturn any law passed in Congress by both Houses and then signed into law. His executive order will be thrown out of court so fast it will make your hear spin.

Also, this bill, or Law, as it is now, is a work of slavery. Our freedoms as American citizens is eroded by this monster, and the Federal Government has usurped even more power it constitutionally should not have. The Federal Government commands you to buy a service, health care today....what tomorrow?

This bill scares the hell out of me, for myself and my children. Land of the Free.... where have you gone?


http://syriancatholic.blogspot.com/2010/03/roanld-w-reagan-on-socialized-health.html

Lily said...

SyrianCatholic,

I agree that the situation on abortion is abominable and that the bill does not bar taxpayer money being used for abortions. I also agree that the executive order is worthless and was a fig leaf for the Stupak group to flip their votes to yes.

I have read that Obama is signing the order today and it is closed to photos and only the pro-life Democrats who voted yes were invited to the signing. When one checks Obama's record, it's clear by his own words that he is pro partial birth abortion and against the Hyde amendment. Abortion will clearly be the norm. It is another consequence that it will take time for people to awaken to.

I did not mention the abortion provision earlier and focused on the financial and legal aspects because he who has those powers has the power to ban or implement abortion as the norm in America. There is such an enormous amount of things that Obama is affecting that I do not know where to start to begin the list. I feel like we've been blitzkrieged by all of the changes that threaten our nation's way of life over this last year. I hope we can elect as many conservative pro-life candidates into office this fall as possible to slow Obama down, but I think he is going to continue to be the slick salesman trying to hide the truth and sell his program. The health care debate is not over and it will continue to be a hot topic through this fall.

Another thing that bothers me is how Obama is promoting envy as good. Class envy is not only prohibited by the bible but it is a marxist tactic. In the Russian revolution the class envy tactic was used to vilify the bourgeoise (middle class) as greedy. But who was greedy? Those who took their property and wealth so that everyone was made equally poor - except the political elites, of course. Who are are new bourgeoise? Those who earn over $200k (small businesses (companies, dentists, doctors, etc). What people fail to realize is that the $200k ceiling is going to be lowered and continue to be lowered over time. People also don't seem to understand that their retirement/investments are going to be heavily taxed.

It is odious to envy those who have more wealth and think it's good to take from the rich in order to give to the poor. We are taught not to covet and envy. Charitable giving is portrayed as voluntary in the bible and the fruit of grace. Obama's redistribution of wealth per his vision does nothing but undermine America's ability to continue to be the most generous nation on the planet through charitable giving. Does anyone else recognize the cult of envy he is sowing?

Rachel H. Evans said...

You were brave to bring this up, friend! ;-)

Thanks for a thoughtful, well-reasoned piece.

Rae said...

I love the Economist. I am looking forward to your fuller analysis. I confess that I was disappointed that it was the Senate's version that won out rather than the House's, but I have mostly taken a wait-and-see approach since there is not anything that I can do either way.

Anonymous said...

You know you live in a bizarro political world when *The Economist* is seen as liberal (in the American sense)!

As they say, not a good bill, though status quo even worse.

Troy

SyrianCatholic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SyrianCatholic said...

Troy,
I would differ that it is indeed not better than the status quo, because among many other problems, the status quo, at least, was not an attack on the Constitutional freedoms of the States and the people, and a usurpation by the Federal Government.

This is the reason, Thanks be to God, that 13 States Attorney's General, have files Law suites against the Federal Government. If the Constitution may be breached with impunity, then the days of American Liberty are over, and it won't be long before the Federal Government is totally out of control. For myself, this is not about health care, instead it is about our Constitutional Government, it's system of Checks and Balances, and the Sovereignty of the individual citizen, to decide for himself what services he/she will buy, and the freedom to live our lives according to the dictates, not of Government, but our own conscience. This issue is much, much bigger than health care, and the unintended consequences are enormous.

Kacie said...

I hope the law suits are stopped cold and the health care bill goes through and is improved upon with time.

SyrianCatholic said...

Kacie,
What do you think needs to be improved?