SEIU Blueshirts Attack Health Care Protestor

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

SEIU Blueshirts

[Updates at the bottom of this posting.  Most recent update at 7:41 pm CST]

On Thursday, August 6, the White House call to arms by Deputy Chief of Staff David Axelrod, “punch back twice as hard“, at the growing grass roots movement opposing government single-payer health care produced the first violent incident later in the day.  During a Town Hall Meeting with U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan at Bernard Middle School gym in south St. Louis County, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members dressed in dark purple shirts, though they look blue in the video below, attacked a black American protester by savagely beating him.  The protester ended up in the Emergency Room of St. John’s Mercy Medical Center.

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13 Responses to SEIU Blueshirts Attack Health Care Protestor

  • I just realized that Donald had posted about this incident earlier on one of his updates, but it goes without saying that these protests are drawing violent reactions from proponents of government intrusion.

  • It’s an important event Tito and it needs all the exposure it can get. Great post!

  • Just flat-out disgusted.

    No less because I’ve already seen folks blaming… dum dum dum… opponents of the healthcare boondoggle for the violence. (How dare that fellow violently attack the union members’ shoes?)

  • I rather be called an American, but for the sake of argument…

    Latinos are predominantly more conservative, traditional, and orthodox in their Catholic faith than liberals lead on. Once we find someone who can break this liberal stereotype, the floodgates will open when Latino’s realize that there are more platforms within the GOP than in the Democratic Party that reflects their own values.

  • This whole health reform mess gets uglier by the day.

    At what point do the Democrats back off?

    Mr. H
    http://www.allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/

  • At what point can any Catholic in good conscience and of good-will be associated with the party of death?

    At first I was outraged by the barbaric violence found on this video but on further reflection this is a predictable natural outcome for a party that accepts abortion as the paramount plank in its platform. If you accept murder, then on what grounds would you object to anything that amounts to less?

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  • Marlene,

    Please be more careful in stating your opinions and refrain from what may be perceived as racist remarks.

  • Wait, I’m confused. Gladney is the black guy lying on the ground where the white guy is trying to kick him, right? Why is Gladney wearing a “Health Care 09: We Can’t Wait” t-shirt? That’s an SEIU shirt.

    Or is Gladney the guy who gets knocked down right after, while he’s rushing over to the downed SEIU guy? Because that guy gets right back up and is walking around throughout the rest of the video. Did he get some sort of delayed-onset injury, where you can walk around, chat with a cameraman, flag down the cops, and speak just fine on Fox News the next day, but then the day after that you can hardly move?

  • Gladney is the *skinny* black guy wearing a tan polo shirt; the one that purple-shirt-blue-jeans-hat on the right throws to the ground again at about 0:05, while the camera guy is trying to get what the heck is up.

    Can’t see who you think is rushing over, because you can see Gladney being pulled to his feet (and swaying) by the guy who looks like retired military, the one that directs a lady to pick up the button-boards.

    The fat guy in the purple shirt is the one that called him a n****r and first attacked him, if I understand it correctly– he’s on the ground because folks pulled him off Gladney. (and if that’s an attempt to kick, they suck– cheap shot would be dead easy there)

    I’m wondering– have you ever been hurt? It often takes at least five minutes after an attack before you realize how hurt you are. I know that when I got bucked off and dislocated my shoulder, I didn’t know it was damaged until I couldn’t lift it to climb the fence.

    Unless you’re going to claim that the hospital treated him for imaginary injuries….

  • Update on the guy mistaken for Gladney:
    Elston K. McCowan is a former organizer – now the Public Service Director of SEIU Local 2000 – and board member of the Walbridge Community Education Center, and is a Baptist minister, has been a community organizer for more than 23 years, and now, he is running for Mayor of the City of St. Louis under the Green Party.

    He’s…kind of known for nutty behavior, since he accused the mayor of setting fire to his/church/Green campaign van….

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Townhalls Out of Control! The Unions to the Rescue!

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

Lots of videos of townhalls here where members of Congress face outraged constituents.

Liberals can relax however.  The AFL-CIO is going to send out union members to restore order at the townhalls.  I look forward to the footage when a union leg breaker decides to take a swing at someone who is not enamored of ObamaCare.  In the age of cell phone videos nothing will escape being placed on video.   Conservative union members, your dues money at work.   My late father was a member of Allied Industrial Workers for 30 years, and it used to anger him intensely that his dues were used to support political causes he adamantly opposed.  If you don’t like this and you are a member of a union, you might want to attend a townhall meeting!  Although maybe they won’t let you in.  At the Russ Carnahan town meeting in Saint Louis over a thousand protesters were locked out and only Carnahan supporters were allowed in. Similar tactics were used at a townhall in Tampa.  That will solve the problem!  Lock people out who disagree with the person purporting to represent them in Congress!

The Left  is completely misreading this situation.  This isn’t a matter of just Republicans and Conservatives.  There is a prairie fire of anger burning in this country, and it is not going to be stopped by biased media, attempts at intimidation, White House calls for informants or locking citizens out of townhall meetings.

Update: An  update here from Gateway Pundit on the violence at the Carnahan town meeting.

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14 Responses to Townhalls Out of Control! The Unions to the Rescue!

  • That’ll be interesting to see Obama’s goons try and strong-arm red-blooded Americans into silence.

    Technology will reveal the true colors of these Government Health Care ‘enthusiasts’.

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  • Just finished reading the ‘prairie fire’ article by the insightful Victor Davis Hanson. What a damning report on left-wing elitism that is demonizing hard working Americans and stoking class-warfare in order to push what is essentially socialism in all disguises upon the American public.

  • Stongarm I deleted your comment. Come back when you have something intelligent to contribute.

  • To quote the SEIU member in the video: “We didn’t attack him for nothing . . . He attacked America.”

  • While I am not a fan of Obama or his health plan by any means, after reading a variety of articles and opinions on this subject (not just the ones I tend to agree with) it seems to me that some of the more dangerous aspects of the healthcare reform plan have been blown out of proportion by their opponents — most notably, the “end of life” care clause.

    From what I gather, it does NOT mandate or encourage euthanasia but provides a mechanism (government funded of course) by which seniors are kept informed of their rights concerning advance directives and are given the opportunity to communicate their wishes regarding end of life care (whether via living will or by granting healthcare power of attorney to a trusted relative or friend). Most hospitals do this already for people having surgery or other procedures. There are also differences of opinion regarding whether the current reform plan will actually force the government or any private insurer to pay for abortions. All these things need to be monitored carefully, of course, and any healthcare plan that includes explicitly anti-life measures must be defeated.

    That being said, it seems to me that the Dems are throwing gasoline on a “prairie fire” that could be contained simply by slowing down the process of passing these bills — so that the Congresscritters and public could actually have a chance to read and debate them — and by EXPLAINING, carefully, 50 or 100 times if they have to, what is really in the most controversial parts of the healthcare bill. Why does it HAVE to be passed in the next 30 or 60 days? If a timetable for passage must be set, why not make it January, or next spring, or next summer? (Worried about reelection prospects perhaps?) Instead they just insist on shoving it even harder down everyone’s throat. No wonder people are so upset — and the sad thing is, it MIGHT turn out to be over

  • issues that were’nt really there in the first place.

  • As shown by the “we won’t pay for treatment, but we’ll pay to kill you” examples out of Oregon, it’s amazing how quickly a relatively inexpensive “option” becomes the only funded option…that’s why mandatory counseling by the bureaucracy paying for treatment to discuss “options” is such a bad idea.

    As for not explicitly funding abortion– do you hear the pro-abortion folks complaining about the bill? No? Pretty clear they think it’ll fund it just fine, then….

  • If it takes the health care issue to force Americans to realize just how much control over their individual lives, their money and their government they’ve lost, so be it.

    I’m personally hoping for a massive backlash against the Democrats… however, its also likely that any Republicans that win in ’10 will be of the statist variety. The struggle will be far from over…

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  • Elaine,
    From what I gather, it does NOT mandate or encourage euthanasia but provides a mechanism (government funded of course) by which seniors are kept informed of their rights concerning advance directives and are given the opportunity to communicate their wishes regarding end of life care (whether via living will or by granting healthcare power of attorney to a trusted relative or friend). Most hospitals do this already for people having surgery or other procedures.

    Have you read the language? It REQUIRES seniors to meet with a end-of-life counselors every 5 years or if they go downhill. After the session a “DIRECTIVE” will be issued, it is not at all clear whether the victim, er patient will have the authority to dictate the directive or it will be simply imposed upon them. When asked about this Obama dodges it shamelessly, why? Because it does exactly what we fear it does.

    All these things need to be monitored carefully, of course, and any healthcare plan that includes explicitly anti-life measures must be defeated.

    That’s not a the right test at all, we as Catholics must work towards defeating any policy which explicitly OR implicitly contains anti-life measures. Good heavens, what do you think “reproductive health care” means?

    We need to be clever as serpents here and look for the evil in this man’s policies because we know his nature. Time to drop the politics and get ALL CATHOLICS to oppose this expansion of the abortion and euthanasia regime.

  • Don’t forget “women’s healthcare” and “healthcare education.” Oh, and “dignity.”

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Hey Pelosi, Are Senior Citizens Well Dressed Nazis?

Thursday, August 6, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this story]

While the Democrats continue to dig holes big enough for their smarter-than-thou heads to plant in and ignore the rising public outrage of government intrusion, regular Americans continue to raise their voices of displeasure to President Obama’s health care “reform”.

On August 4, 2009, an A.A.R.P. Town Hall meeting was being conducted for members when a group of well-dressed Nazi’s carrying swastika banners sabotaged the meeting.

That’s the Nancy Pelosi/CNN version of events, here is what actually happened:

Here are some highlights from the above video:

1.  Spokesperson: “I think we can agree that health care is in need of reform…“.

AARP Attendee’s: “No, we don’t agree!”

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6 Responses to Hey Pelosi, Are Senior Citizens Well Dressed Nazis?

Lying Worthless Political Hack Calls Opponents of ObamaCare Nazis

Thursday, August 6, AD 2009

I must say, although I have never been a fan of the Lying Worthless Political Hack, I was surprised at this latest example of the depths of her political ineptitude and detachment from reality.  As to her comment about “astroturfing” ( creating a fake, rather than a real, grassroots movement), David Axlerod, the campaign manager of Obama, built a large fortune by mastering the techniques of astroturfing as this article here relates.  Alas for the Lying Worthless Political Hack, as the polls amply indicate, the opposition to ObamaCare is real and growing.

Update: The indispensable Iowahawk has the White House Under Minister for Truth, former ABC and CBS reporter Linda Douglass, explaining here all about those evil townhall mob agitators!

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22 Responses to Lying Worthless Political Hack Calls Opponents of ObamaCare Nazis

Sebelius and Specter Respond

Wednesday, August 5, AD 2009

Save_Freedom_of_Speech

Hattip to the ever reticent Lads and Lasses at the Lair of the Catholic Cavemen. Yesterday I had a post celebrating the warm reception that Secretary Sebelius and Senator Specter received at a town hall meeting.  Now the indispensable Iowahawk has thoughtfully penned here, a response to the voters for Secretary Sebelius and Senator Specter.  No doubt they will be duly appreciative of his efforts, and Iowahawk will probably enjoy his time on the no-fly list.

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2 Responses to Sebelius and Specter Respond

Well, at Least Spell my Name Right

Tuesday, August 4, AD 2009

Inform

Hattip to DrewM at Ace of Spades HQ.  This from the White House Blog:

“There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.  These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation.  Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to [email protected].”

I trust that some of the Obama supporters who frequent our site will draw the attention of the White House to a few of my posts regarding ObamaCare on this blog.  When you do please remember that the last name is spelled McClarey, not McCleery, McClaren, McClary, etc.  Thank you!

Update I: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has some pointed comments here about the sheer political stupidity of the White House making this public call for informants.

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10 Responses to Well, at Least Spell my Name Right

  • Hey, maybe the Obama admin will revise the Homeland Security alerts, now that we know we have nothing to fear from terrorists. Maybe something along these lines:

    Level Red: The Great Leader is more popular than Jesus, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson combined. This is how it should be.

    Level Green: A few grumblings are heard from disgruntled rednecks in fly-over country. Nothing to worry about, really, but keep your eyes open.

    Level Orange: Uh, oh. The peons are doing a lot of grumbling and booing at town hall meetings and there’s a quite a bit of seemingly fishy information (cunningly planted by Fox News) out there on the Net. Couric, CNN, HuffPo, you know what to do.

    Level Purple: Lord, the fish is now a great big dead rotting whale on the WH lawn. Comrades Dowd and Krugman, fire photon torpedoes!

    Level Gray: We’re screwed. We have now crossed the River Styx and are in Jimmy Carter territory.

  • Thank you Donna! That was the funniest bit I’ve read on the net today!

  • There will be some who quickly point out that Bush did the same thing at times. He DID, for instance, ask that truckers keep an eye out for the unusual in their cross country treks.

    But theres a whale of a difference between trying to stop terrorist acts and trying to ferret out political dissenters.

  • Huh… wonder if I can do a diving expedition to the KOS kids’ playground and send in some of their defenses….

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  • I have an idea: who wants to join me in flooding that email address with “flags” about the fishy positions Obama’s been taking with regards to abortion’s role in this health care plan?

    If we flood it, we can take it and Obama’s Big Brother mentality down.

  • It’s been almost 24 hours since you posted this and I’m disappointed. I was hoping to see a trackback saying, “Dan McCleary at the Catholic American has a good post about…”

  • Don’t know about anyone else, but this was about the 15th post on my RSS feed about the snitch program.

  • And I’m reporting them all to my Staatssicherheit commander!

  • When you do please remember that the last name is spelled McClarey, not McCleery, McClaren, McClary, etc.  Thank you!

    Isn’t one “Mc” the same as any other? *wink*

It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy and Gal

Tuesday, August 4, AD 2009

Ah, it does my heart good to see Senator Arlen Specter (D.Pa) and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services exposed to the verbal anger of the public!  Now why is that?

Well as to Snarlin’ Arlen, he was for decades a pro-abort Republican and now is a pro-abort Democrat.  My reaction when he jumped parties earlier this year was good riddance.  He jumped parties of course because he was an almost certain loser to pro-life Pat Toomey in the Republican primary.  The hilarious thing is that Specter will face a Democrat primary challenge from Congressman Joe Sestak who announced his candidacy yesterday.  If he survives the primary challenge he faces an up-hill fight against Toomey.  In a Quinnipiac poll on July 22, Specter leads Toomey by a single percentage point 45%-44%.  This is a devastating poll for an incumbent facing a well-known challenger.

As for Sebelius, she is a fanatic pro-abort, as I detailed here, and a close political ally of the late Tiller the Killer.  Just before her confirmation it came out that she had received three times the donations from Tiller than she had claimed.    Of course this is only the tip of a large ice berg of campaign funds that Tiller used to aid Sebelius as this letter here from Tiller indicates.  Her ties to Tiller were outlined by Bob Novak last year here. When confronted about Tiller she was always in full ” Tiller?” mode:

Yep, I can watch these two being booed with a fine enjoyment!  Schadenfreude?  Indeed!

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36 Responses to It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy and Gal

  • I too take some comfort in knowing the likes of Specter and Sebelius are being challenged. However, my real delight was in the substance of those two clips from the town hall meeting. They demonstrate the common sense of the common man, and the futility of trying to stump it. The common man may not be slick or sophisticated like those who desire to lord over them, but he is far wiser because he chooses to deal with reality rather than delude himself.

  • Agreed Rick. This was the classic case of two con artists suddenly learning to their dismay that “the marks” of their con weren’t quite the rubes they thought!

  • Like Hitler watching the Reichstag.

  • I’m confused… Your theory is that Donald will burn down the administration and then get himself elected chancellor of the US in a tight three way election?

    Or is it some sort of vague aspersion that although the Democrats may be bad, the Republicans are infinitely worse?

  • It’s funny that MZ is getting his “talking points” from a website where the main contributor (Marshall) in 2005 openly stated that the social security reform package should be “demagogued” to death. So now it’s four years later and suddenly the left is upset about passionate rhetoric and instilling fear as a method of squashing reform. Convenient.

  • That being said, the comparison to Hitler in this context is revolting, but it’s MZ so it’s not surprising that he said something intentionally inflammatory. His hair shirt has to be chafing.

  • I could be wrong, but didn’t M.Z. vote for Obama?

    Also remember that when people start comparing Republicans or Conservatives to anything Nazi or Hitler, that’s a strong indication that they are losing (or have lost) the argument.

  • Oh, I get it… The point is supposed to be that the booing is orchestrated and therefore doesn’t count. (And the Nazis are simply thrown in for extra rhetorical spice.)

    Of course, the booing could be orchestrated. These things happen. Goodness knowns, given the much greater preponderance of bored students on the liberal side of the aisle we’ve been dealing with this for decades. But given that support for the health plan has dropped solidly in the polls, it’s hardly surprising if adverse reactions are seen regardless of whether they’re orchestrated or not.

  • Does that mean we can call liberals communists when they use the same tactics?

  • I thought that’s how you say communist in American?

  • We have no idea whether or not the lady in the audience who spoke up was there to be a disruption or was there due to her own concern. Nothing in what she said would indicate that she was trying to be a trouble maker – unless of course, one considers challenging the wisdom of the ruling elite as being such.

    Oddly enough it was Specter’s own words, voluntarily given, that were damning. Anyone who thinks it is good or appropriate to ram through legislation of such magnitude without studying what effects it may have or to do it so it can’t be scrutinized really has no business making such decisions. Alas, I know we elected them, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to keep them in check.

    Personally, I’m suspect of any decision made by someone who would classify abortion as health care. Even if the proposed reform was mostly a good and workable idea, I’d be against it because of the inclusion of abortion. One absolute mandate of the justification of the state is to defend innocent life – not take it. While the state has a duty to the common good, properly understood, forcing people to buy health insurance and creating alternative insurance organizations is not mandatory – especially when the state considers abortion health care and a right and starving the infirm to be a private matter. These moral and intellectual faults make for horrible foundation to build “health care” upon. It is easy to see how euthanasia and the disabled could easily become marginalized by these people.

  • Hey, what ever happened to dissent being patriotic?

  • Phillip,

    It’s ok to dissent if you’re an extremist liberal. It’s not ok if you’re an ordinary American.

  • I encourage people on the Left to engage in the fantasy that these eruptions of citizen rage taking place at townhall meetings are simply the work of some grand right-wing conspiracy. Reassure yourselves that all is well, that Obama and the Democrats in Congress are on the right course, and that there is absolutely no chance that in 2010 angry voters will be clambering over each other to register their displeasure at the polls.

  • I seem to remember that just last week at VN they were claiming that conspiracy theories are a characteristic of the right but not the left. Huh.

  • Like Hitler watching the Reichstag.

    It’s a bit early in the day for the sauce, MZ.

  • Art Deco,

    M.Z.’s a teetoler, he drinks only Kool-Ade.

  • Donald,

    There is absolutely no chance of any change™ occurring in 2010.

    For example, ACORN at this time are combing cemetery’s to register new voters in order to prevent change™ from happening.

    They’ve even began discrediting Tea Party protesters as ‘right-wing-tea-baggers’ with Janeane Garofalo leading the cheers.

    What next? Cow-towing to dictatorships that imprison innocent Americans such as the two journalists in North Korea or the three hikers in Iran? So we can be sensitive to our enemies, but damn American voters for voicing their disagreement with government run health care?

  • It was a stupid comment, but let’s not go overboard on the inside baseball jibes.

  • I’m actually enjoying all the comments. True, I’m saddened for our nation and what’s left of the right.

  • Darwin,

    This gentleman’s explanation you may find more persuasive.

  • Consider it community organizing.

  • True, I’m saddened for our nation and what’s left of the right.

    We know, MZ. All those uppity people speaking back to their superiors. They should know better.

  • MZ,

    Not really.

    All,

    My apologies. Resume pummelling.

  • On a side note, I’m amused that some on the progressive side are claiming to be shocked (shocked!) that criticisms voiced at “town hall meetings” are not sufficiently learned from their point of view.

    Does anyone really imagine that getting a bunch of random voters to ask politicians questions about a complex and contentious topic will produce learned questions — or answers for that matter? “Town hall” meetings to discuss anything other than how to run a local town are unlikely to result in deep analysis from either the citizens or the politicians involved. To get upset that it’s not your pat and simplistic arguments being aired seems odd.

  • Are you pawning yourself off Paul as the everyman?

  • MZ:

    Yes, MZ. Clearly walking by the SEIU headquarters every day on my lunch break is finally getting to me.

  • The rift between the common people and the know-it-all’s widens…

  • From the comment MZ linked to:

    “These town hall shut downs have been orchestrated by the same Washington lobbying firm that was behind the tea parties. I assume those of who who don’t depend on Fox know that by now.”

    I rejoice that such a complete misreading of the current situation is what passes for analysis on the Left. Of course the proposals of Obama and the Democrats in Congress can’t really be unpopular with the public; this all has to be orchestrated by a sinister right wing cabal.

  • Hillary Clinton nailed it over 15 years ago as a “vast right-wing conspiracy” Donald.

    Why people are incapable of making up their own minds without help from “others”.

    Frankly, if this is what the White House offers as an objective analysis, then President Obama is in for a real awakening come 2010.

  • Hmmm Republicans lead by 5 points on the Rasmussen generic Congressional ballot:

    “Support for Republican congressional candidates has risen to its highest level in recent years, giving the GOP a five-point lead over Democrats in the latest Congressional Ballot and stretching the out-of-power party’s lead to six weeks in a row.
    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate while 38% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent.

    Democrats held a six- or seven-point lead on the ballot for the first few weeks of 2009. That began to slip in early February, and from mid-April through June the two political parties were roughly even. Republicans have held a lead on the ballot since the last week in June, the first time they’d been on top in well over a year.

    Women who have consistently favored Democrats now prefer the GOP by a 40% to 39% margin. Men continue to favor Republicans over Democrats 47% to 36%.

    Voters not affiliated with either party prefer Republicans two-to-one – 43% to 22%.”

    Well Rasmussen must obviously be in the pay of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Of course that doesn’t explain why NPR shows Republicans ahead on their generic Congressional ballot poll by one point. Even the full mooners of the Left will have some difficulty portraying National Public Radio as in any sense right-wing.

    There is a long way to go of course until November 2010, but this is a crucial time for recruiting candidates and raising war chests, and this type of news gives a big boost to the GOP and a big problem for the Democrats.

  • Oh, I’m sure Toomey’s campaign manager danced a jig around the office when he (or she) saw that clip. PA voters are going to see the sound bite helpfully provided by Arlen “I don’t actually read the bills” Spector over and over in the fall.

    Look, in your own personal life you know you’re a darn fool if you don’t bother to read important documents you put your name to, whether they’re mortgages, leases, wills, insurance policies or what have you. Every responsible adult understands that what’s in the fine print might come back to bite you. And yet we have the surreal spectacle of our lawmakers pushing for a momentous change – and yet they haven’t even read the bill (or else it hasn’t been written yet, so they don’t know the specifics.) And yet we’re just supposed to trust them to do the right thing? This is ridiculous.

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So….What About the Other 10 Million?

Monday, August 3, AD 2009

By this stage in the health care debates, most people are aware that roughly 47 million individuals in America do not have health insurance. And many people are further aware that the 47 million statistic is misleading, because roughly 14 million of these individuals are already eligible for (but have not enrolled in) existing government programs, 9 million have incomes over $75,000 and choose not to purchase private insurance, 3-5 million are only temporarily uninsured between jobs, and roughly 10 million do not have the legal right to reside in the country. In the end, this means roughly 10 million U.S. citizens lack meaningful access to health insurance.  It has been noted elsewhere that insuring these individuals would cost a lot less than the $1 trillion proposal currently under consideration in Congress, and further that it would not require a dramatic (and costly) restructuring of the U.S. health care system.

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11 Responses to So….What About the Other 10 Million?

  • If you could come up with some alternative to ObamaCare that would really stay limited to that ten million or so people in question then I would support it. Even within that ten million, however, there are a lot of people who could afford health care without undergoing serious hardship but who don’t do so because they would rather spend the money on something else (i.e. people who are young and healthy). As to that group my thoughts are similar to those of Megan McArdle: “If you could reasonably afford health insurance by dropping down to a lower-priced cell phone plan and cutting back on your bar tab, you are not a national emergency.”

  • If we’re talking something fairly heavily means-tested, I have nothing in particular against putting something out there to cover that “other ten million”.

    If that could be packaged with means-testing medicare and social security, I’d become downright enthusiastic.

    For me, at least, the big objection is when you start trying to use the predicament of a small number of people to justify putting _everyone_ into some big program.

  • I would suggest a subsidy of some sort, probably tagged on to the earned income tax credit, to allow people who simply can’t afford health insurance to purchase it. I, like Blackadder, do agree with Ms. McArdle however. In my bankruptcy practice I do find quite a few debtors, most without much in the way of medical bills, who have run up high tabs on self phones and drive far more expensive vehicles than I drive, and who could easily afford health insurance but simply prefer to spend their funds in other ways.

  • Health care is a basic human right? Health care is something I’m owed simply by virtue of being a human being? Who’s responsibility is it to see that this “basic” right is not denied to me? Where is that person’s obligation in the natural law? What kind of health care am I owed? What is it’s extent? What does the term even mean?

  • Please delete my brief rant if you think it’s not sufficiently related to, or will only distract from, the point of the post.

    FWIW, if universal coverage is really the goal, then I think the best way to achieve that is to make it affordable for everyone. Because of the way our economy works, the only way this is really possible is through competition and deregulation. This is obviously a very general prescription, but it’s all I’m really capable of:)

  • Well, there seems to be general agreement (Zach excepted) that an expansion of government-provided health care is desirable here (even if not the best of all possible solutions). Apologies for the caricature in the post if that’s how it came across. I have a few more thoughts I’ll throw out just to be contrary:

    BA – Since we agree on the larger point here, I suppose it’s just quibbling, but I think Ms. McArdle’s ‘unsympathetic recipient’ illustration is somewhat beside the point, both because a hypothetical (or actual) ‘sympathetic recipient’ could just as easily be produced, and because over and under-inclusiveness are a necessary consequence of every expansion or reduction in government services. The relevant question to my mind is: “what is the best way to serve the common good here?” A substantial over-inclusiveness problem obviously harms the common good because it is a wasteful use of resources, but we don’t have evidence of substantially over-inclusive public health care benefits with regard to these individuals. If anything, the data suggests we have the opposite problem.

    DC – I think we’re in basic agreement. It still amazes me that Social security and Medicaid aren’t means-tested. Everyone seems to agree it should be done, but politicians in both parties seem to be terrified of the political consequences. At some point, hopefully, sanity will prevail, but I’m not holding my breath. As they say in finance, the market (and politicians) can stay irrational longer than you (or the government) can stay solvent.

    Zach – I left your comments undisturbed (although you are certainly free as a contributor to modify or delete them if you would like). I think your underlying concern about the ambiguities of rights language has some validity, particularly when the ‘right’ involved is, more properly speaking, a duty imposed on other citizens that evolves and takes different forms as a society becomes more prosperous. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the underlying concept of the preferential option for the poor is soundly rooted in the teachings of the Church throughout the centuries and the Gospels.

  • I think it would be best to forego this until the banking system is arighted and the public sector deficit extinguished. For flusher times, i’ll offer the following suggestions; those of you more sophisticated about the technics of tax collection and accounting and who have consulted some academic literature on insurance and medical economics can tell me where I have gone astray:

    1. Equalitarian tax reform:

    a. Abolition of property taxes and general sales taxes.

    b. Generous use of tolls and fees on public services.

    c. Conversion of corporate taxes to a flat rate on net profits, without deductions exemptions allowances, &c.

    d. Abolition of the current portfolio of payroll taxes

    e. Replacement of estate taxes with a tax on gifts and bequests received over and above a lifetime deductable. The deductable should be calculated such that these sort of taxes are limited to about 4% of the population with serious assets.

    f. Establishment of a policy that imposts and excises are to be used as instruments of trade negotiations and to change relative prices and induce ‘substitution effects’, not raise revenue. This can be done by distributing the receivables on a roughly per capita basis as a credit against one’s income tax liability.

    g. Define ‘capital gains’ as any increase over and above the increase in the GNP deflator since the base year.

    h. Rely on completely unadorned income taxes for about nine-tenths of public revenue. Calculate them as follows:

    (r x income in cash and kind from ALL sources) – (sum of credits)
    [a dollar value credit for yourself and each dependant]

    Fix the rate and the dollar value of the various credits such that revenues meet expenditures and that about 20% or 25% of the public pays no taxes but receives a net rebate. The net rebate for each head of household would, however, be constrained by a ceiling calculated as a percentage of his earned income; the ceiling could be relaxed for the elderly and disabled.

    2. Scrap public subsidies and provision for commodities for which household expenditures are regular, predictable, and subject to adjustment for amenity (food, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, etc). Turn interstitial social services (the Office for the Aging, the midnight basketball, &c. over to philanthropies).

    3. Incorporate philanthropic foundations to assume ownership and management of all public hospitals, clinics, and homes. Members of the foundation would include those on the attending lists of the hospitals, donors, members of the local chapters of the American Legion and the VFW, those on tribal rolls, &c.

    4. Gradually discontinue state funding of medical research, bar that in the realm of public health.

    5. Consider removing the adjudication of malpractice claims to administrative tribunals who issue awards from a stereotyped compensation schedule, derived from a state fund collected from an annual assessment on practitioners.

    6. Systematize extant schemes in place for extending services to undesirable loci by creating an ROTC-like program for medical students and residents at the end of which they would put in five years with the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, accepting deployments to Indian reservations, &c.

    7. Enforced savings: each family would have two bequeathable savings accounts, one devoted to medical care and the other devoted to custodial care. The state would make a flat monthly assessment of one’s income with a portion destined for each account. One would be permitted to draw on one or the other to pay for care, and would be permitted each quarter to withdraw for use at one’s discretion any amount over legislated minimum balances. (These minimum balances I would think be fairly high).

    8. Public insurance:

    a. Each state government defines by legislation a standard insurance contract. The contract would provide for the re-imbursement of providers once the individual has exhausted the contents of his savings account (or exhausted the legislated minimum balance, whichever is lesser). The state government would divide the territory of the state into catchments on which demographic information would be available and with regard to which insurers could do their own research. The state would then assemble qualified insurers every few years to submit sealed bids to be the insurer for the catchment. Low bid wins, and the state government acts as the bag man for the insurance company in question, collecting the community premium by assessing a surcharge of a certain percentage on the state income tax bill of each family in the catchment.

    b. The state government would do the same for the provision of insurance for custodial care.

    c. The federal government would enact a parallel plans much like the above to cover medical benefits and custodial care of certain clientele (e.g. military families and others in itinerant occupations) and those who have moved into a state in the last three years.

    9. Grandfather clauses:

    The federal government would add balances to the medical and custodial savings of the elderly, the disabled, and in-theater war veterans for some decades to hold harmless people whose financial planning was dependent on a certain benefits configuration.

    10. Private insurance could be purchased at the discretion of the head of household to supplement or supplant benefits in the state’s standard contract. He still has to pay his surcharges, though.

    11. State insurance funds derived from assessments on private insurers, to compensate hospitals for emergency care delivered to patients who use insurers with which that particular hospital does not do business.

    12. Philanthropy of the formal and informal sort.

  • On McArdle’s unsympathetic recipient — if one was willing to come up with some reasonable means-testing and stick to it, I think that could mostly alleviate that problem. Assign a subsidy or possibly public coverage ala Medicare to those in that ten million, but only to those who meet a certain threshold of need.

    If people don’t have the stomach to leave those who can cover themselves but refuse to out in the cold, one could allow them use of the same program as those who meet the means test, but then dun them for payment via the IRS.

    Now, I’ll say, I’m not crazy about public subsidies (for people or enterprise) in general, but I think given the society we find ourselves in at this time we’re probably stuck with using that as a way out of certain problem. I admire groups like the Amish who accept neither social security nor medicare nor insurance because they believe in relying on one another — but we clearly don’t have that kind of community cohesion so there’s no point in cutting our legs out from under us based on the ideal.

  • I do not care for subsidies for private goods, either. What is (among other things) characteristic of medical care, custodial care, and legal counsel is that over the course of your life you suffer somewhat unpredictable spikes in your demand for these services. If we are being admonished to place the interests of the poor front-and-center it ought be acknowledged that the information deficits in the purchase of these sorts of services tend to be more acute the more impecunious the recipient and that trouble with time horizons is inversely correllated with income. Legal counsel and common schooling are also a facility for taking your place as a citizen and common schooling and mass transit are a facility for entering the workforce. Ergo, there is a case to be made for redistribution taking the form of common provision of a modest selection of purchasable services. What is mad about our current welfare system is that policy is generally to subsidize the purchase of frequently replenished goods of which consumption varies according to consideration of amenity. We can ‘pay’ for the collective consumption of certain services in part by erasing the unnecessary subsidies as well as certain baleful income transfer programs (TANF, for example), as well as targeting the role of public agencies in heath to public health measures and the provision of care, not to academic pork barrel. Concern about ‘cost control’ is somewhat misplaced. What should concern us is that public expenditure not be put on autopilot, which we can accomplish by adjusting a deductable upward every few years in order to maintain the committment of the state in the realm of medical and custodial care somewhere in the neighborhood of 8% of GDP.

  • John,

    Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the underlying concept of the preferential option for the poor is soundly rooted in the teachings of the Church throughout the centuries and the Gospels.

    Does the preferential option for the poor entail a right to health care? What does the option entail? I don’t believe this has ever been spelled out in any specifics in terms of policies. I think it means political leaders and leaders of communities should consider the poor in all that they do.

  • Based on Darwin’s estimate of $4-6K for 1yr of insurance, I’d think that we could just buy ordinary insurance for those folks at a cost of $50B/yr. (And I assume that merely adding those people to medicaid would be less expensive than $5K/yr.)

    According to this story,

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/10/business/moneywatch/main5230656.shtml

    the reform plan will cost $90-100B/yr over the next ten years. According to the same story, we could make up that amount either by raising taxes for individuals making over $280,000 and families with income over $350,000 or by taxing employer provided health insurance as income. I think that either of these would be fair ways to pay the tab for the extra 10M uninsured.

    QUESTION: What is the source of the 10M figure? I’ve seen George Will’s column…

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/19/AR2009061902334.html

    but that gives 9.7M illegals and 9.1 over $75K income, for a total of 18.8M not to include so far.
    Then he says that there are AS MANY AS 14M who are already eligible (which implies that there are likely <14M) and that there are many who are uninsured for 6 months or less (but states no figure). He ends up suggesting that there may be 20M remaining, not 10M. In other words he is sure that at least 25.7M can be excluded. That would mean that the figure for the already eligible plus the 6 monthers may add up to as little as 6.9M Moreover, his starting figure was 45.7M and not 47M, which would mean adding a possible 1.3M

    To me, that implies that there may be as many as 21.3M chronically uninsured, unless there is another source for the 14M which does not use it as an upper limit and another source for the 3-5M figure. (Daylightsmark gives no sources, and the 3-5M seems to come from there.)

    The two sources of funding I mentioned above, when combined, would still accommodate the larger estimate of uninsured.

Canada Has Its Own Health Care Debate

Monday, August 3, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. John Stossel is an anomaly:  he is a libertarian in a profession, journalism, dominated by liberal democrats.  Here is a column he wrote which summarizes the video, which spent quite a bit of time discussing the shortcomings of Canadian health care.

The experience of Canada under national health care is intriguing.  A battle is raging over the net with opponents of ObamaCare pointing out its shortcomings and proponents rallying to the defense of  the Canadian system.  One often overlooked feature is the role of private medical clinics in Canada.   Recently such clinics have been made legal based upon a Canadian Supreme Court decision and are becoming increasingly popular.  A good article on the subject is here Here is another article on the clinics.

I found this quote from the last article linked to curious.

“It’s obviously extra billing and queue jumping,” says David Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “If this goes on unregulated, it’ll spread like wildfire and we can see it, even in a recession, starting to expand here in Alberta.”

Now why would these clinics spread like wildfire if the Canadians are as enamored of their national health care system as the proponents of ObamaCare say they are?  Here is a story from 2006 on the subject which appeared in that notorious right-wing rag The New York Times.   As we debate changing our health care system to something approaching that of the Canadian system, we should also understand that there is a debate in Canada about broadening the availability of private pay health care.

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5 Responses to Canada Has Its Own Health Care Debate

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  • But..but..you’re just pointing out the inefficiencies and poor care because you’re already against government control of health care. Just like when you railed against GovMed because it will cover abortion and most likely euthanasia. These are small things, the important thing is that we have the honorable and intelligent people in congress give everyone free health care. Where’s the hope, people?!?

  • I also found this interesting. I wonder why this is happening?

    “While proponents of private clinics say they will shorten waiting lists and quicken service at public institutions, critics warn that they will drain the public system of doctors and nurses. Canada has a national doctor shortage already, with 1.4 million people in the province of Ontario alone without the services of a family doctor.

    “If anesthetists go to work in a private clinic,” Manitoba’s health minister, Tim Sale, argued recently, “the work that they were doing in the public sector is spread among fewer and fewer people.”

    But most Canadians agree that current wait times are not acceptable.

    The median wait time between a referral by a family doctor and an appointment with a specialist has increased to 8.3 weeks last year from 3.7 weeks in 1993, according to a recent study by The Fraser Institute, a conservative research group. Meanwhile the median wait between an appointment with a specialist and treatment has increased to 9.4 weeks from 5.6 weeks over the same period.

    Average wait times between referral by a family doctor and treatment range from 5.5 weeks for oncology to 40 weeks for orthopedic surgery, according to the study.”

  • Rick,
    You invoke the virtue of Hope in the same paragraph you call Abortion and Euthanasia “small things”. In our creators eyes abortion is the modern day Holocaust. Hope is the virtue that makes the Christian Crave for the Kingdom of God and to place his trust in the promises of Jesus to get us there. Your insensitivity, to the point of trivialization, of the dignity of life clearly reflects your lack of Hope. Whenever a virtue whether Hope, Charity, Justice, etc are invoked without regard for it’s origin in divinity you have Nothing.

  • Sorry, Ray. I was being sarcastic and mocking a type of argument that is offered by some in these parts. The really sad thing about it is that I didn’t need to take much creative license to do it. Nevertheless, I should have written something at the end to indicate that I was being snarky.

ObamaCare: A Pre-Mortem

Wednesday, July 29, AD 2009

ObamaCareChart

Barring some political miracle, National Health Care is dead. Many  current polls indicate that a majority of the public is now against it.  There is no chance of having a vote in either chamber of Congress before the August recess.  Considering the high popularity numbers that Obama had coming into office, and the wide majorities that the Democrats enjoy in Congress this is astounding.  What caused this debacle?  A few thoughts.

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31 Responses to ObamaCare: A Pre-Mortem

  • You mention the “stimulus” bill and the budget, but I think this needs to be emphasized:

    By essentially wasting $ 1 trillion on a pork bill that did absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy and put no money in the pockets of most voters (at least our family got $2400 under Bush, which helped pay for my kids’ Catholic school), the Democrats completely blew up the budget and used up what little political (and actual) capital there might have been for enacting a health care plan.

  • Technically, we are getting up to $800 per couple under the so-called stimulus package.

    But IIRC it’s being done through a remittance of payroll taxes in each paycheck, so I can’t blame you for not missing it.

    However, you nailed it on the source of the skepticism: the administration shredded its credibility by pushing through an ineffective spending bill that has come nowhere near to doing what its proponents asserted it would.

    Had there been a lot more infrastructure spending and a lot less wish-listing, I think there would still be a reservoir of good will. Instead, we have revelations like this, which make skeptics out of anyone who isn’t a daily pom-pon shaker for the administration:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090728/ap_on_re_us/us_stimulus_counting_jobs

  • Leaving aside a prudent distrust of politicians and a party that are beholden to special interests, love power, harbor contempt for the common man, and have no sense of fiscal sanity, why would any sane person want people who consider killing societies weakest “health care”?

    A link to a bigger version of that chart.

    http://www.rollcall.com/pdfs/healthchart072309.pdf

  • Ugh, should have been “society’s”. Combat illiteracy – it’s killing me. 😉

  • It strikes me that ObamaCare (like ClintonCare and Bush’s attempted reform of social security) is suffering from the fact that it either could not be or simply was not explained in a manner such as to gain the support of a significant portion of the population.

    One thing that is hard to get used to in the corporate world is that it doesn’t matter how good your ideas are if you can’t present them to decision makers in a way that convinces them to let you act on them. What political parties seem to have some difficulty grasping is that on a sufficiently big change in civic structures, the entire voting population counts as the decison makers. So if they can’t package something in a way that voters can understand its benefits, it will run aground unless the politician has enough capital to pull off the “trust me on this one” approach.

  • Jay simply asserts without argument. Well, here is the argument for the stimulus: we have seen an enormous decline in private demand. the only reason why we have not seen a similar collapse in overall economic activity is because it was cushioned by a large increase in public demand. See Krugman: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/deficits-saved-the-world/

    Much of this has been through automatic stabilizers, not stimulus, but automatic stabilizers are far lower in the US than in Europe (income tax is less progressive, social safety nets are smaller), meaning that discretionary stimulus needs to be larger. Of course, given capacity constraints, much of the money hasn’t been spent yet. But in countries where it has been spent quickly, and where automatic stabilizers are similarly small, fiscal stimulus has been a huge boon for growth. I’m talking mainly about China.

    Now, on the composition. As any economist will tell you, multipliers are larger for spending than for taxes. The tax cut component of the US stimulus was, I believe, too large. If you want the most bang-for-back, you’ll go where the multipliers are largest, and that’s on the spending side, espcially capital spending.

    The economic illiteracy on display in public circles is simply staggering. Quite aside from the laissez-faire small government ideology (stop exempting the military, and we’ll talk), you have pundits railing against “pork”. Well, sorry, but that is precisely the point. When you have a major across-the-board collapse in aggregate demand, and when monetary policy has reached its limits (interest rates at the lower bound), then you need government spending. It is an extreme response to extreme circumstances. You are *supposed* to spend more in times like this, and spend less when times are good. But the pundits just don’t get this.

  • Complexity? what this chart fails to note is that the current system is even more complex. What I find highly frustrating, as somebody who has been following healthcare wonkery for years, is the sheer ignorance out there about what this reform does and does not do. I would actually fault its timidity, for not doing enough to curb the bad behavior of the private insurance companies. It changes too little, not too much.

    But look at the rhetoric. We are suddenly moving to “government” healthcare. Of course, if you actually looked at the proposals, you would see the public option limited to those who can participate in health insurance exchanges, which in turn is limited to the unemployed, the self-employed and small businesses. The CBO thinks that only 27 million would be in the exchange by 2019, and only a small portion of these would be in the public option. For everybody else, it’s old-style employer insurance.

    And then there are the people who rail against the *costs* of government healthcare, oblivious to the fact that costs are rising substantially more slowly in medicare and medicaid than in private insurance (7.3 percent verus 4.6 percent for the average annual increase in premiums). And then there is the widely circulating story at the guy at sme town hall meeting who yelled out “keep your government hands off my Medicare”. We might smile, but this kind of delusion is only mildly hyperbolic.

    Of course, this is what the opponents of reform want. They don’t want people actually trying to understand what is going on. They want slogans and scaremongering. Because there is a lot of financial interests at stake here. And God forbid we reduce the profitability of the private insurance companies.

    Ezra Klein sums up my feelings completely; “what has kept health-care reform at the forefront of liberal politics for decades is moral outrage that 47 million of our friends and neighbors are uninsured. That medical costs are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States. That an unemployed machinist gets screwed by fly-by-night insurance schemes while a comfortably employed banker need never worry. That the working class ends up in emergency rooms with crushing chest pains because they didn’t have health insurance and didn’t get prescribed cheap blood pressure medications five years before.”

    As the Church would say, health care is a human right. Let’s treat it that way.

  • Jay:

    Ten days ago, I posted Robert Samuelson’s very fine post-mortem on the stimulus bust in the Washington Post 10 days ago. He argues convincingly that there was a need for the stimulus, but notes that what was enacted was an underpowered failure, misconceived from the start:

    On humanitarian grounds, hardly anyone should object to parts of the stimulus package: longer and (slightly) higher unemployment benefits; subsidies for job losers to extend their health insurance; expanded food stamps. Obama was politically obligated to enact a campaign proposal providing tax cuts to most workers — up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples. But beyond these basics, the stimulus plan became an orgy of politically appealing spending increases and tax breaks.

    More than 50 million retirees and veterans got $250 checks (cost: $14 billion). Businesses received liberalized depreciation allowances ($5 billion). Health-care information technology was promoted ($19 billion). High-speed rail was encouraged ($8 billion). Whatever the virtues of these programs, the effects are diluted and delayed. The CBO estimated that nearly 30 percent of the economic effects would occur after 2010. Ignored was any concerted effort to improve consumer and business confidence by resuscitating the most distressed economic sectors.

    Vehicle sales are running 35 percent behind year-earlier levels; frightened consumers recoil from big-ticket purchases. Falling house prices deter home buying. Why buy today if the price will be lower tomorrow? States suffer from steep drops in tax revenue and face legal requirements to balance their budgets. This means raising taxes or cutting spending — precisely the wrong steps in a severe slump. Yet the stimulus package barely addressed these problems.

    To promote car sales and home buying, Congress could have provided temporary but generous tax breaks. It didn’t. The housing tax credit applied to a fraction of first-time buyers; the car tax break permitted federal tax deductions for state sales and excise taxes on vehicle purchases. The effects are trivial. The recently signed “cash for clunkers” tax credit is similarly stunted; Macroeconomic Advisers estimates it might advance a mere 130,000 vehicle sales. States fared better. They received $135 billion in largely unfettered funds. But even with this money, economists at Goldman Sachs estimate that states face up to a $100 billion budget gap in the next year. Already, 28 states have increased taxes and 40 have reduced spending, reports the Office of Management and Budget.

    There are growing demands for another Obama “stimulus” on the grounds that the first was too small. Wrong. The problem with the first stimulus was more its composition than its size. With budget deficits for 2009 and 2010 estimated by the CBO at $1.8 trillion and $1.4 trillion (respectively, 13 and 9.9 percent of gross domestic product), it’s hard to argue they’re too tiny. Obama and congressional Democrats sacrificed real economic stimulus to promote parochial political interests. Any new “stimulus” should be financed by culling some of the old.

    http://tinyurl.com/lebua3

    While I don’t think he’d agree that it does “absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy,” he’d certainly concur that what was enacted had no prospect of doing what its proponents said it would.

  • Did I mention that I posted it ten days ago?

    Sigh….

  • Minion:

    Jay did not say that we shouldn’t have spent the stimulus money; he said the way the stimulus money was spent was retarded. Considering most of the money won’t be spent yet, while France has spent most of theirs, that’s a fair argument.

    Second, current system = bad does not lead to proposed system = good.

    Third, how on earth is one supposed to what the reform does? It changes daily! I’ve tried to keep up and I’ve had no chance; I can’t imagine what most Americans think!

    And finally, health care = right. Obamacare, however, is not a right and Obamacare does NOT = Church envisioned health care.

  • No, seriously. Does anyone else hear that sound (like an annoying gnat that won’t go away)? If you listen close enough it sounds like “I luvzzzzzzz me sommmmmmme Obbbbbbammmmmmma.”

  • Jay:

    You need to be drinking more Kool-Aid so that the “annoying gnat noise” in your ear turns into a beautiful song that you sing loudly every day.

  • Guys,

    While I agree that MM’s mixture of bow-before-my-authority expert posing and loud moral indignation is very annoying, let’s try to tread the line of not stooping lower in responding to it.

    MM,

    Ezra Klein sums up my feelings completely; “what has kept health-care reform at the forefront of liberal politics for decades is moral outrage that 47 million of our friends and neighbors are uninsured. That medical costs are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States. That an unemployed machinist gets screwed by fly-by-night insurance schemes while a comfortably employed banker need never worry. That the working class ends up in emergency rooms with crushing chest pains because they didn’t have health insurance and didn’t get prescribed cheap blood pressure medications five years before.”

    As the Church would say, health care is a human right. Let’s treat it that way.

    See, here’s the thing, MM. I could take the moral indignation a lot more seriously if it didn’t seem to only be trotted out in efforts to come up with systems designed to bring the electoral gold of the middle class into a government run health care system. The interest in reducing costs in the current system, making incremental changes to allow primary care to be more affordable for the uninsured, or setting up more efficient programs specifically to help those who cannot afford coverage or care seems to be rather sparse in the liberal camp. The interest is almost exclusively in finding a way to work towards a large government run program which the vast majority of Americans would eventually participate in — something which would represent a significant power increase for the people pushing it.

    Why the lack of interest in attacking the real problem (high costs and inability of some people to afford health care they need) when not associated wish the large government solution which has been on the progressive wish list for so long? It seems to suggest that the motives are rather less sterling than you present.

  • My. I am surprised by the behavior of some commenters here, especially those who usually demoan the mean-spiritedness of their imagined ideological counterparts in commenr boxes.

    I guess it depends on what side you stand on on your imagined ideeological divide.

  • Was I responding to someone? What? Did somebody say something?

  • Jay is an example of everything I am talking about. If somebody comes along with facts and arguments that go against cherished talking points, lets just change the subject to taunts and slogans. Hmmmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?

  • Darwin,

    Moral indignation? That would be righteous moral indignation!

    “sytems designed to bring the electoral gold of the middle class into a government run health care system”. What in God’s name does this mean?

    Did you read what I wrote? Let’s start at the basics. “Government run” health care means precisely that – the governmment employs and pays the healthcare workers and owns the facilities. Think of the UK. I personally support single payer which is NOT THIS. Single payer basically means a single insurance agent to leverage economies of scale, cover everybody, don’t try to weed out people for profit purposes, and use monopsony power to get better deals from suppliers.

    I support single payer not on ideological grounds, but on pragmatic grounds — it seems emprically the best way to contain costs and deliver superior outcomes. It’s gives good bang for buck. Of course, this is not the only way to do it. As I said elsewhere, the core principles of reform include community rating and the individual mandate, and this can be done with regulated private markets.

    The proposed reforms are a mere timid step in this direction. For people with employer converage, nothing much will change. Others can join the regulated exchanges. To me, this is exactly the kind of “incremental change” we need. It’s far less radical than previous proposals, including Nixon’s. It represents the best way of increasing coverage and reducing costs. Unless of course, like the GOP, you have a vested interest in protecting the balance sheets of the insurance companies.

  • Unless of course, like the GOP, you have a vested interest in protecting the balance sheets of the insurance companies,

    One might argue that the absence of tort reform is due to the Democrats’ vested interest in protecting the balance sheets of plaintiff attorneys instead of actually cutting costs.

  • I support single payer not on ideological grounds, but on pragmatic grounds — it seems emprically the best way to contain costs and deliver superior outcomes.

    Per a prior conversation, did you ever look into Singapore’s health care system?

  • Blackadder, ever an optimist, seems to think that he’s talking to someone who has any interest in learning new facts and evidence, as opposed to cutting-and-pasting one of his four blogging scripts (“prolifers are bad,” “Americans are Calvinists,” “Obama is good,” “single-payer is good”) into every discussion.

  • Singapore — yes, has some good aspects, but does a lousy job dealing with tail risks. As I keep saying, my preference is based on pragmatism. A private system based on community rating, the universal mandate, and subsidies for the poor would be a very good start. It just not would be as efficient as a public system.

    Michael — I have no problem with tort reform. Unfortunately, the costs of insurance and defensive medicine represent an insignificant part of healthcare costs.

  • Did you read what I wrote? Let’s start at the basics. “Government run” health care means precisely that – the governmment employs and pays the healthcare workers and owns the facilities. Think of the UK. I personally support single payer which is NOT THIS.

    I did not think that you were talking about single provider health care, nor was I addressing the question. I’m not sure why you like to try to shoe-horn your oponents into positions they don’t hold, but it doesn’t get conversation far.

    I support single payer not on ideological grounds, but on pragmatic grounds — it seems emprically the best way to contain costs and deliver superior outcomes.

    So you keep saying — even when people point to non-single-payer systems which work better than the single payer ones. (Heck, even the much vaunted French system is not actually a true single payer system.)

    And although you say your support is non-ideological, I can’t help seeing it as awfully convenient that a statist technocrat cries foul at any suggestion, however helpful it might be, which does not increase the amount of statist technocrat control over health care in the US — and supports programs other than his preferred one so long as they expand the reach of government.

    I will agree with your later comments thus far, however: It’s true that the proposed reforms are a timid step, delivering much complication and little improvement by anyone’s standards. Of course, that leaves me wondering why you’re so fiercely supportive. Why not hold out for what you think would actually solve the problem? Or, should we perhaps take that as a sign that you see the currently proposed legislation as being a clear step in the direction of a single payer system?

  • If somebody comes along with facts and arguments that go against cherished talking points, lets just change the subject to taunts and slogans. Hmmmm, doesn’t that sound familiar?

    Indeed —

    His name, or rather alias, happens to be Morning’s Minion!

  • As any economist will tell you, multipliers are larger for spending than for taxes.

    The size of the multiplier is precisely what has been disputed by Casey Mulligan, Gregory Mankiw, among other ‘economic illiterates’

  • Art, my wise friend, why aren’t you following the sage advice you gave me just yesterday? 😉

  • Guess I can’t resist, sometimes.

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How to Get There from Here

Tuesday, July 28, AD 2009

There’s been much discussion of late about what other country’s health care apparatus the US should consider emulating, and in such discussions France is often mentioned. Now, all cheerful ribbing against the French aside, their health care system is not nearly as “socialized” or nearly as afflicted by treatment denials and waiting lists as those of the UK or Canada. It is also rather more like the system that the US already has, in that it is a hybrid public/private system, though in their case there is a guaranteed base level of coverage everyone has through the government (funded via a hefty payroll tax — not unlike Medicare) which most people supplement with private coverage. Most doctors are in private practice, and 25% do not even accept the public plan, just as some practices in the US do not accept Medicare. However, everyone does have that minimum level of coverage, and the French spend a lower percentage of their GDP on health care than the US (11% versus 16%) which when you take into account that France’s GDP per capita is a good deal smaller than that of the US (which is the polite, economist way of saying it’s a poorer country) works out to the US spending about twice as many dollars per person on health care, while still not having universal coverage.

So what are we waiting for? Why don’t we go enact the French system here right now? Why doesn’t Obama put on a jaunty beret, dangle a cigarette coolly from the corner of his mouth, hoist a glass of wine, and just say, “Oui, nous pouvons.”

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9 Responses to How to Get There from Here

  • Well done Darwin,

    Many factors in health care. One is physician salaries as pointed out in other posts. Many factors in physican salaries as you point out including the high cost of medical school and indirect malpractice costs. If those aren’t addressed while cutting physician salaries, problems will most certainly follow.

  • Dear God… someone finally stopped talking about British and Canadian health care and realized that are quite a number of schemes to reach universal coverage and single-payer systems aside (I don’t feel like having that go-round), France is a pretty good model.

    Moreover, I think if we attacked education (costs) and provided greater assistance to medical students (not just with public funds), we could slightly lessen doctor salaries — as health care costs go down and depending on their specialty.

  • And by ‘lessen’ I don’t mean put caps on it via legislation.

  • Related to this but in a more general sense: I think that dealing with a situation like this (in which it becomes necessary to drive a group of people’s income down for the common good) the impersonal nature of markets is generally more socially acceptable than government action. I don’t think anyone would tolerate reducing doctor pay 30-40% by fiat, even when they generally make a lot of money. But creating the conditions for it to gradually reduce due to market pressure doesn’t have the same antagonistic edge.

    Just had to get the market plug in. 🙂

  • 30 – 40% again seems not to take into account malpractice costs let alone medical school. Maybe your figures take into account malpractice costs. But if not, using your figures, a specialist in the US averages 230k vs 149k in France. Subtract the average 55k for malpractice and you get a difference of 175 vs 149. Excluding medical school costs you’re now talking about a 14% difference, not 30 – 40.

    What’s the average malpractic attorney’s pay?

  • Actually just Googled it. In 2006 it was 100k.

  • I guess, I’m not sure how stuff like malpractice insurance is usually accounted for. Do doctors always have to pay it out of pocket (thus out of their personal pay) or is it often payed by their practice as a business expense?

    Either way, significantly reducing the malpractice lottery would have a salient effect on health care prices — not just in allowing for health care providers to charge less, but also reducing the number of extra procedures which are done for tail covering purposes rather than medical effect.

  • Depends on the practice. Those that are stand alone pay out of their own pocket. Those in large practices or hospital based practices get it paid for. But that will be considered part of compensation and usually salaries are lower to reflect that. Either way, there is a cost to income from malpractice premiums.

  • The cost of malpractice insurance is inflated by insurance companies, just as insurance companies inflate the cost of medical insurance. But the big issue is that usa doctors and hospitals do not like to be held accountable for their bad medical practices and poor outcomes. Their private for profit medicine ranks 37th in outcomes compared to other countries, which rank muych better using national health programs. Malpractice costs would clearly go down if usa outcome rankings improved. The fact that france ranks number one, having the best outcomes, while paying their doctors much less, is all just a further indictment of our private medical system in the usa.

Obamacare: If Congress Passes It, Let Them Live Under It

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

Hattip to Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain.  Rep. John Fleming (R. LA.) is the sponsor of House Resolution 615 which states that in the event National Health Care passes, all members of Congress who vote for it are urged to receive their health insurance under it.  This sounds like a very good idea to me.  If it is good enough for voters it should be good enough for CongressCritters.  Of course urging isn’t enough.  They should be required to be subject to Obamacare if it passes.  Here is the text of the resolution.

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9 Responses to Obamacare: If Congress Passes It, Let Them Live Under It

  • I agree. why not? I suspect most people pushing this line really don’t understand the reforms.

  • Actually Tony I believe the opposite is true, and that those who truly understand this bill would be the last who would wish to have their own health care depend upon it, but I congratulate your willingness to have Congress live under what they create for others.

  • One of the things that I find striking is that the stealth inclusion of FOCA in some of the House drafts has received so little attention.

    I received an urgent Knights of Columbus e-mail alert about it and confirmed with my Congressman’s office that the inclusion is true but none of the media outlets, including Fox, are carrying anything about it. Even the Catholic websites and blogs have been largely silent.

    I suspect that, if FOCA had made it out of a committe on its own, we would have been up in arms… you know, as Catholics and all. Shoving into the text of an healthcare draft though warrants not even a remark.

    What gives?

  • I agree. why not? I suspect most people pushing this line really don’t understand the reforms.

    Bill’s only 1,000 pages long. What’s not to understand?

  • Is it even a bill yet?

    As best I can tell, there are at least 5 much smaller proposals that have yet to be incorporated into a single bill. I don’t know what the Speaker is expecting to vote on by Friday, but it doesn’t sound like they have gotten beyond the committee markup stage.

  • Nice idea, but the amendment has no chance of passage. Sort of like how congress will write workplace rules and then exempt themselves. Best analogy to this I can think of is food. Consider congress a pushy chef who is insisting you pay for and eat his new concoction but when you ask him how it tasted when he tried it the chef says “Are you nuts? I wouldn’t eat this crap and definitely won’t pay for it.”

  • Why stop at Congress – shouldn’t the President who signs it also be subjected to it? I would love to see in one of these O press conferences someone challenge the President to give his oath that if O’care passes, and he signs it, he will take the public option.

  • Sort of a “poison pill” provision, eh?

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Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

In light of Zach’s stellar posting which generated over 240 comments ranging from anarchism to Oscar Romero and which inspired a posting by Michael Denton.  These comments, although informative to a certain extent, may have detracted from the original intent of the posting.  Henceforth in regards to said activities being done on Zach’s posting concerning Representative Chris Smith, I am starting a new tradition here at American Catholic, the open thread.

So feel free to comment to your hearts delight that isn’t related to any other postings on this website.

The comments policy is still in place so don’t forget to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Enjoy.

Marxist Health Care

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12 Responses to Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

  • I do not oppose a health care bill that extends coverage beyond the narrow concerns protected under Medicaid, Medicare, and SSI. I object to bloated bills that have not been read. I object to rushing to publish a bill, any bill, for purely political reasons. I object to “stealth” measures to hide within larger bills truly controversial legislation like FOCA. I object to the blackmail that this process creates, diminishing debate and deliberation to little more than key points, without the detail necessary to analyze the effects. Most of all, I object to a President, ANY President, telling the legislature what kind of legislation to pass, what it should do and say, and when it shall be completed. This is bullying and strikes as the core of the Separation of Powers.

    In the instant debate, I am THRILLED to see this rush to cobble together a bill delayed. Now, maybe, we can come up with something that specifically addresses the issues as hand without delving into issues that should be addressed as separate bills.

  • G-Veg,

    I agree to most of your points except the need for government run health care. Which both violates subsidiarity and distributism.

  • I forget who pointed out. Appropos of your cartoon, it appears the right has an unhealthy obsession with anal penetration, specifically anal rape.

  • M.Z.,

    What gnostic class can I take to follow your line of thinking?

  • Tito,

    I love you, man, but you are better than a post with that cartoon as its header.

  • Frankly, the cartoon was a lot more innocuous than M.Z.’s rather inflammatory response to it.

  • Why does it violate subsidiarity?

  • The principle of subsidiarity is that matters should be handled at the most local level as possible and if it cannot adequately at that level be taken care of, it can move up to the next point. The problem is, I think most Democrats will argue, is that the states do not have the resources to address the matter sufficiently because it is fixing a regional problem within a intricately more complicated problem. So, I don’t think one can simply say it violates subsidiarity as if that is some obvious objective fact that cannot, rightly or wrongly, be disputed.

    All Democratic proposals aside. I have read criticism after criticism, but I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem. I have seen what I think are credible starting-points amending parts of the system, but nothing comprehensively to address the whole of health care in America, while restraining the government. If this were really a serious problem, I’d almost expect a solution. The closest thing I’ve seen is the Patients Choice Act which has earned about every stripe of Republican criticism and has incorporated by and large waves of Democratic ideas.

    I think the *structure* of the health care markets is deeply flawed and I don’t see them re-structuring unless it is via the legislative process. I’m sure we won’t agree on details. But it seems opposition to Democratic health care proposals almost always opposition (indirectly) to reform, which ends up not happening — to the total chagrin of the people who need it the most.

  • Eric,

    Were the Federal Government to provide a straightforward and unrestricted subsidy to state, county, and municipal government determined according to a formula taking into account population and per capita income, the principal structural impediment to state authorities acting as medical insurers would be removed. Why not leave general income redistribution, macroeconomic stabilization (e.g. unemployment compensation), and public works implicated in moving people and goods across state lines to the center and other services to the periphery?

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  • Eric,
    I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem.

    have you checked out the Republican proposals? John McCain’s policy is a great starting point. I believe it’s the brainchild of an actual physician.

    Here’s the key points without getting into the nitty gritty:

    1. Tort Reform – liability insurance and payouts for exorbitant claims account for 20% of healthcare costs.

    2. Equal Access – eliminate preferential tax treatment of employer sponsored plans vs. private plans. Accomplished by eliminating the employer’s deduction, and giving a tax credit to all Americans with which to purchase health care as they see fit.

    3. Open Market – allow individuals and employers to purchase any plan authorized by any state.

    4. Encourage Health savings and catastrophic INSURANCE coverage instead of pre-paid health care.

    These actions will drive down the cost of health care while maintaining the motivators for continued advancement and excellence.

    Now, you can never again say haven’t heard any alternatives.

8 Responses to Blue Dogs Bark

  • Bravo to these men and women! Let us pray that they have the courage and integrity to remain steadfast in their convictions.

    Bur where is Jason Altmire, Blue Dog from Western PA?

  • Yes, this is good news. Two items of pro-life good news in one day!

    The other to which I refer is my home state of AZ banning partial birth abortion and finally establishing a 24 hour waiting period wherein all alternatives to abortion are presented to pregnant women.

    A good day indeed.

  • I did note this the day after it happened, having been alerted via Democrats for Life. I, too, commend these Representatives.

    Though…

    Last month, I was alerted to the news that a primary — perhaps not anymore since a new bill was introduced today — House health care bill (852 pages that I’m sure that has not been read by anyone) that is the project of Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) contains mandatory “family planning” funding that would ensure tax dollars for abortion providers, namely Planned Parenthood. To my knowledge, this has not been changed — which further underscores the necessity of pro-life Democrats to threaten to abandon the bill. By most DFLA estimates, there were about 30-35 pro-life Democrats in the House prior to the November election and now it is in the same range, or approximately, 40 at the most liberal estimate. I hope that last number, or any number over 35, is accurate because it would mean an almost sure defeat of the bill as even the Democratic majority could not withstand such a loss of its own members, pro-life or even pro-choice Democrats that would rather not “play politics” and override the Hyde Amendment by calling abortion “health care.”

    What is even more alarming, considering that such provisions have not been removed, is the primary Senate health care bill being led by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MA), who is Catholic, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labors, and Pensions (HELP) Committee admitted that certain language in the bill that would force health insurance companies to contract with groups like Planned Parenthood.

    She was asked by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would the bill be inclusive to abortion providers and stumbled in her reply.

    “It would include women’s health clinics that provide comprehensive services and under the definition of a woman’s health clinic, it would include, uh, it would include, uh, Planned, uh, Parenthood clinics. It would, um, it does not expand in any way expand a service. In other words, it does not expand, um, uh, or mandate abortion service.”

    She only said the bill “would provide for any service deemed medically necessary or medically appropriate.” Inevitably, if the HHS Secretary in the Obama administration declared abortions “medically necessary or appropriate” then it would be the case.

    Sen. Hatch then asked if Sen. Mikulski if she would include language in the bill that is abortion-neutral, in exhange for some Republican support of the bill.

    He asked this way: “Madam Chairman, would you be willing to put some language in [about] not including abortion services? Then I think you would have more support.”

    She responded, “No, I would not, uh, be willing to do that at this time.”

    The HELP committee, after this issue was brought up, brought the matter up to a vote between the 23 Senators. A provision to include abortion in the Senate health care bill passed by 12-11 with 10 Republicans and 1 Democrat, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) opposing it, whom has been voting more consistently pro-life since being admonished by his Bishop.

    So, we have a problem of two bills (unless the new House bill has gone in the other direction) that have language inclusive of abortion services, which I think, will ultimately kill the legislation all together — which, as an advocate, of health care reform I think is both childish and imprudent on the part of Democratic leadership.

  • Interesting information Eric. I think national health care is in trouble currently due to fluctuating cost estimates. I suspect that the Blue Dogs will hang tough on abortion, mostly, I trust, out of principle, but also because I think 2010 may be shaping up as a good year for Republicans, and Blue Dogs in Republican leaning districts can garner some protection in those areas with a strong pro-life record.

  • Didn’t Altmire pull a Casey and support some pro-abort bill?

    Anyway, I don’t see my pro-life Dem congressman, Dan Lipinski, anywhere on that list, either…and he’s got a 100% NRTL rating, too. John Bochierri of OH isn’t on the list, either. Hmm…well, as long as they come through and vote “no” on the legislation if it contains abortion funding, no complaints on my end.

  • Well, I’m going to make a good pro-life news trifecta… an Illinois court has FINALLY allowed the state’s parental notification law to be enforced, 14 years after it originally was passed and signed into law — it’s been held up in court ever since. Don’t know if this is absolutely the last word on the subject, though, but it’s good news nonetheless.

  • Speaking of Democrats for Life, they have booted an Ohio Congressman from their board of directors for his insufficiently pro-life voting record:

    http://proecclesia.blogspot.com/2009/07/democrats-for-life-give-boot-to-ohio.html

    Kudos to the DFLA for taking a principled stand.

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