Obama’s Health Care Summit

When you’re sick, you have a lot of free time to sit and do nothing.  Instead of doing nothing, I spend some time watching all SIX hours of the Bipartisan Photo Op for Elected Officials to Hear Themselves Talk Health Care Summit that President Obama held a few weeks ago.

If you are bored, it’s located at www.whitehouse.gov.

It was really interesting to watch, although my wife’s eyes are still rolled back into her head four days later.

A few things I took away:

I genuinely believe that President Obama has the best intentions in trying wrangle an indomitable congress into passing this legislation.  You can disagree with his personal beliefs, political party platform, or his philosophical idea of the role of government, but really think it’s unfair to characterize him as personally trying to really pull an evil “socialist plot” or “government takeover” of Health Care.

His motives seem pure and are driving by an indisputable crisis of numbers and facts.  In a few years, with the rate of growth of Health Care costs, the amount of money that the US spends on Health Care will exceed our entire Gross Domestic Product.

This is not debatable, like climate change or the effectiveness of Hillary’s pantsuit combinations.  The fact that the health care industry is single-handedly breaking our entire economy and threatening our future is indisputable.

You should really take the time to see that man work the room.  He was really trying trying to negotiate by finding common ground, pointing out areas where they had fundamental differences, and areas where they had negotiable differences.  Everyone in the room acknowledged how much the legislation has already morphed from the single-payer government run plan that Pelosi wanted to a market-based approach that still safeguards from a “race to the bottom.”

He sat there patiently as people from both sides used their allotted time to grandstand to the CSPAN camera, adding nothing to the discourse in the room and just blabbing on with meaningless and counterproductive rhetoric to try to bolster their own radical argument.

In the end he tried to summarize.  We agree that:

  • Health Insurance needs reform and the insurance market should be regulated.
  • Allowing small businesses and individuals to pool and purchase group insurance together in an insurance exchange is a great idea (and a Republican idea that the bills have adopted).  (This is how Wal-Mart does it… drive cost down by being the biggest elephant in the room)
  • We should allow the purchase of insurance across state lines.  (With the noted exception that some baseline, mandatory standard of coverage would be required to prevent a race to the bottom, and to prevent insurance companies from offering junk plans that didn’t cover anything and shifted most of the cost back to the government and tax payer anyway.)
  • Continue to work on Medical malpractice, acknowledging the facts and figures cited that malpractice reform actually only represents a fraction of 1% of the cost of medicine today, and that malpractice claims have actually gone down by 50% in the last decade.

The place where there is absolutely no agreement is on coverage: whether the government should mandate coverage and what types of coverages should be required.

Without reform, Republicans will GET exactly what they think they are fighting against: a government-run, single payer system.  This will come to pass as more Americans rely on the government medicare and medicaid systems than ever before.  At a startling rate, Americans are being priced out of the medical insurance market, especially as they lose jobs or change jobs, and the government is absorbing them at an alarming rate.  Add to that the already anticipated burden of the aging baby boomer children, and we have a perfect storm.

Without significant medial reform that focuses on cost containment and universal coverage, America will continue down the current path of more and more Americans who are part of the CURRENT government-run, single payer system.

Is that what we want for our country?

5 thoughts on “Obama’s Health Care Summit”

  1. Hmm…this was very interesting and informative.

    It may be a little pointless to mention, but I think health insurance should be underwritten. No? Every other kind of insurance we buy is.

    Its frustrating to see people come into our clinic who actually take care of themselves and they are paying the same astronomical amount of money per month as the guy who smokes a pack-a-day, eats fast food every meal, and never works out. Plus, their insurance usually doesn’t cover chiropractic care, even when study after study has shown that people who see a chiropractor regularly are healtheir and use their insurance less. It just doesn’t make sense to me. We’re not really talking about health-care anyway…it’s sick-care.

    Had enough soap box? Me too.

    Thanks for writing about this. 🙂

  2. I couldn’t disagree more…”The fact that the health care industry is single-handedly breaking our entire economy and threatening our future is indisputable.” when you talk to people about the economy, especially people that have lost their jobs or are loosing customers. no-one says “If only health care were fixed…” for our economy DEBT is the problem! And lack of personal responsibility for actions taken by people in power. (both governmental and private). We have a societal problem causing our health care problems, too many people EXPECT the “system” to take care of them. (our gov’t loves to hand out fish, and not teach how to fish.) they get more votes that way.

    “The place where there is absolutely no agreement is on coverage: whether the government should mandate coverage and what types of coverages should be required.” -Are you kidding me I cannot see how people can believe that it is a right for health care coverage. All the rights the founders wrote about did not cost money. they are “unalienable.” If no doctors are around then you are “alienated”.

    The progressive direction our country has been going for the past 100 years has been a large cause of many our societal problems.

  3. Hmm… so you are saying “debt” is currently the problem with our economy? And that’s why unemployment is rising?

    I’m not sure you can say the EXISTENCE of debt is what has caused unemployment and a recession. You could say that individuals and businesses who lived lives funded entirely by debt contributed to the recent financial collapse and has made our economy weak. I can get behind that.

    But now it’s the LACK of available credit (debt) that is exacerbating the unemployment problem. Small businesses, the supposed ‘engine’ of our economy, especially can’t get loans, and you don’t get much rev in your engine if you don’t give it a little gas.

    Health care premium costs are contributing to unemployment and impeding the economic recovery. The cost associated with giving an employee health benefits is one of the many reasons employers have to NOT to add full-time employees. Even if they can afford to pay them a salary, they often can’t afford to give them benefits. So they hire contract, part-time, and off shore employees – the kind that don’t cost them any money in benefits. Small businesses especially suffer from this.

    Whether you like it or not, our country ALREADY believes in providing health care to everyone. We mandate that emergency rooms care for everyone, whether or not they can pay, just like we’ll put out a fire or make an arrest to serve the public good – and none of those things are written in the constitution as “rights.” You’re right, they aren’t fundamental “unalienable” human rights like the ones stated in the Declaration of Independence or the ones defined in the Bill of Rights, but we have made a collective decision to offer those services as a public benefit based on the wealth and capability of our nation.

    The current debate isn’t whether or not heath care is a “right”… it’s a debate on how we’re going to pay for it all without bankrupting our country.

  4. Ok, on the subject of economy, debt is not the only problem, but excess debt is a huge factor. I don’t think available credit has really ever been that significant of a problem as many have said.
    Lay offs and no new hiring are happening because of lack of revenues from a scared customer base and scared business owners. … Why are they scared? I would like to start a business myself, I am not afraid of finding available credit, I am afraid of paying taxes and finding customers. I believe many people are afraid to spend like they used to due to many factors. But one to be considered is our outrageous government spending and new programs that may be coming which will assuredly cost more than predictions.
    Being closely involved with the difficulties of keeping small business afloat I can assure you that if there was hope of tax cuts, instead of fear of increased costs, (health care or other) things in the small business world would be a lot better.

    “Whether you like it or not, our country ALREADY believes in providing health care to everyone.” Well I don’t like it! and I don’t believe that thought is as widespread as you might think. Ask the people in the health care field.

    “…but we have made a collective decision to offer those services as a public benefit based on the wealth and capability of our nation.”
    This is somewhat true, I don’t know if it has been a “collective decision”. I would say more of a good-will/human nature of our system as we have had such a profitable health care industry. And it is a benefit of having the system be run by the PRIVATE sector.
    Businesses generally strive to have profits and make the world a better place using those profits. (think huntsman cancer institute, or many of the thousands of similar organizations founded by successful business people or organizations.)
    Our current administration now is trying to make people believe profits and businesses are bad.
    A prime example of the stark contrast is my experience in Russia, Decades of government control and no real ability to have independent business put them in a very different position from us as far as quality of life, goods, and services. Innovation was/is far behind. (I actually had to go to the hospitals in Russia, even in Moscow it was quite an eye opener.)

    “The current debate isn’t whether or not heath care is a “right”… it’s a debate on how we’re going to pay for it all without bankrupting our country.”
    It would be nice if there really was a debate, but it seems we have a party in power and especially the leaders who have a fundamental belief that they will not compromise on. They have no desire to include bi-partisan ideas. They have a specific agenda to “Fundamentally Change America”.
    This is the big problem I think a lot of people have a problem with. Although our government system has its flaws it works pretty well. The general public does not like to see the back room deals or “Air Force one deals” and pushing something so profoundly partison and trying to get it passed even if you have to use all the tricks in the book. That is going against the Democratic nature of our government.

  5. On the debt thing, you’re kind of making an argument against yourself. You’re saying that people are in too much debt, but then you turn around and fault them for not spending more money so you can start your own business. You can’t have it both ways. If debt is the cause of the recession, is more debt and overspending (so you can open your business) the solution? (It’s ironic, but that’s what the economists say is the easiest way out of the recession: to spend more)

    I think the truth is that many Americans will spend as much as someone will give them.

    You’re right that EXCESS of debt caused the financial crisis (people had loans they could never repay and it shocked the market to realize all this debt they thought they would make healthy interest on was actually useless). So the economy tanked and financial institutions were forced to shed the bad debt and build their bottom lines back up. They did this by selling off debt, going bankrupt, and raising the standards for new debt. The government is also playing a part with the new regulations they have put on credit card companies which forced many to give up predatory lending practices.

    So now, after the belt tightened, it IS the lack of debt that has exacerbated the recession. Individuals and businesses are being denied at the bank and credit card companies, and FORCED to not spend. If they had it to spend, most of them would spend it. But creditors and banks have drastically raised the requirements for loans, in an attempt to rebalance their own books and businesses to a more healthy state. This has left individuals and businesses with less credit to fuel our consumer economy.


    As far as health care goes

    You’re right. I don’t think people, nowadays, like the fact that the cost of their medical care and their premiums are rising because they are subsidizing the uninsured who receive free emergency care.

    As a side note: The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was passed in 1986 by a Republican Senate and signed into law by a Republican President. This law was passed with no federal funding, putting the onus back on the hospitals of how they will recover the cost of treating patients who could not pay. They do this by increasing the cost for the paying customers, which accounts partially for why costs and insurance premiums have gone up.

    So where do we go from here? Just keep letting people get priced out of the insurance market, driving cost up exponentially for those who still can afford it? Eventually everyone will be priced out of the insurance market and no one in this great nation will be able to afford basic care. We will all just crowd the free emergency rooms, and then we’ll be worse off than those who have government subsidized care.

    It’s simple. We are faced with the decision of whether we want a health care system that is a private service, offered on a market basis, only to those who can afford it, or whether we want to treat it as a public service that citizens should expect equal access to (like primary and secondary education). The problem is, we’re talking about human life, and while I can LIVE without an iPad, I can’t live without adequate health care and access to a doctor. We’re talking about people’s lives here.

    Anything is better than the catastrophe we have now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.