Friday, March 26, 2010

Thieves And Whores

US House Approves Historic Overhaul of Health Care System


Instead of eliminating the root of the problem - the profit-driven, private health insurance industry - this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers' defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.


What this bill does is not only permit the commercial insurance industry to remain in place, but it actually expands and cements their position as the linchpin of health care reform...Not only does it keep them in place, it pours about $500 billion of public money into these companies over 10 years...and it mandates that people buy these companies' products for whatever they charge.

former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal Of Medicine


Health care stocks are up. What more do you need to know about this bill? For all their hand-wringing, the insurance companies are still in charge and they are about to get millions of new "customers" to purchase their products. Along with billions of dollars from the government.

Our President and Congress have set back the course of real health care reform immeasurably. They have given away the store to the very industry that was to be reformed. Health care stocks are up. What more do you need to know?

Excuse me for not celebrating.

Democrats, when you get through congratulating yourselves, may you be damned to hell. Yes, even you Mr. Kucinich. You should have known, and probably did know, better. There is a clear difference between health insurance and health care. People want health care. People need health care. Nobody except an insurance company needs health insurance.

The only difference between a Democrat and a Republican is that the Democrat says he will still respect you in the morning.

Very Truly Yours,




Andy said...

Porcupine, this is an honest and sincere question. Considering that health insurance companies only net roughly a 3% profit (some years 2, some as much as 4) on average, while pharmaceutical companies net as much as 20%, medical equipment companies nearly that much, and physicians even more...

What would you do? What would be the very best way to assure that no one made any profit from the illnesses of others, and that everyone received health care?

At the same time, how would you ensure that research and development, new/better/safer drugs, and medical technologies reach the public?

I'm seriously curious.

Cricket said...

Hello Andy-

Welcome to Cricket and Porcupine.

I am not suggesting that no one should make any profit at all from health care. I would think that a doctor, who actually provides the care in question, should certainly be able to do more than recoup costs.

Pharmaceutical and DME companies are more problematic, yet I still would not say their profit should be zero.

Health insurance, however, goes beyond mere profit. The entire cost of such a system, both overhead and profit is a waste. It is essentially parasitic.

I would advocate a single-payer system, such as that recommended by the PNHP. Their site is linked in the post.

Certainly, single-payer systems have problems. However, so do we, and ours are greater. It is easy to find Canadians critical of their system. However, I have yet to see one who suggests that ours would be an improvement.

As far as R & D and new drugs go, we already subsidize most research through the NIH. Most of the rest is done at Universities. Corporations buy in at the very end for bargain prices, and sell the results back to us at great profit.

It is cheaper to import our own drugs from Canada than to buy them directly. This is just an example of the absurd situation we have. Among other things, it seems to me that the fruits of NIH research could be licensed to a company to be produced at a substantially more moderate profit.

A few more of my own thoughts can be found in the post Another Nutshell.

I also recommend Marcia Angell's The Truth About The Drug Companies

The PNHP website is clear and informative on the subject of single-payer healthcare.

I trust these sources more than any politician, industry spokesman, or lobbyist. At least as a place to begin.

When our President was still Senator Obama, he too realized that single-payer was "the way to go." Evidently, he's forgotten. It reminds me of when then V.P. George H. W. Bush called supply-side theory "voo-doo economics." Of course, he was right. He "forgot" later.

We all know how that turned out.

Andy said...

Cricket, first of all, thank you for the "Welcome." However, I am not really "new" to your site. I have been reading for a very long time. I have just never commented before.

Thank you for taking the time to tell me your solution. It helps me understand where you are coming from.

You truly do believe that the Government can do this better, cheaper, and more comprehensively than the private sector.


"It is easy to find Canadians critical of their system. However, I have yet to see one who suggests that ours would be an improvement."

If you're interested, I can provide you with a long list of Canadian bloggers that are weeping over the fact that we've moved a step closer to their system.

Regardless, thanks for taking the time to clue me in on your thoughts.

Cricket said...

"I can provide you with a long list of Canadian bloggers that are weeping over the fact that we've moved a step closer to their system."

I am sure this is true. On the other hand, would they like our system in its stead? Most of the Canadian critics I have seen would like to see their own system become more like that of France or Austria... also socialized systems.

The fact is, almost every other industrialized nation has some form of universal health care that is not profit driven. There are many models that could be examined. Frontline: Sick Around The World, from PBS looks at a number of them.

We do not technically have a health care system. We have a health care market and naturally, have a few winners and many losers. I think it will always be this way as long as the primary incentive is to maximize profit.

I chose Canada as a familiar example. We would not have to adopt their system wholesale. All systems have problems. However, despite their problems, most industrial nations cover everyone at less expense and, in general, health care is good.

The Canadians and Europeans do not appear to have a low standard of living to me. Yes, their health care systems also have problems. I would be surprised if these are any worse than ours, though. Everyone is covered and you can't personally go bankrupt due to medical costs.

I think it's worth considering. Single-payer was off the table from the beginning, thanks largely to industry money. Health care stocks are up, now. The money is happy with this so-called reform.

That alone suggests to me that this "reform", isn't.

Andy said...

Cricket, I believe that there is one thing you and I share in agreement.

This is certainly not "reform."

"We do not technically have a health care system. We have a health care market and naturally, have a few winners and many losers."

I agree that we do not have a "system," rather a "market." I'm just one of those boneheads that believes that market forces will always provide a better outcome. Just my experience...

As to the few winners, and many losers. I'm not going to disagree that there are many losers. But life is not fair. There will always be those that have the misfortune of some physical calamity that they can not afford to treat. (Until Jesus comes again).

If Congress wanted to address those situations, then that would have been a good place to start. If polls can be believed, the vast majority of the public is completely happy with their own health care. It's hard to square that with there only being a few winners. And the vast majority of those oppose what Congress has done. (Obviously for different reasons than you do).

Costs are truly out of control. There is no doubt about that. But I truly find it hard to believe that the costs/overhead/3% profit of health insurance companies will be any less if administered by our government.

They don't do anything efficiently. They have no reason to. Private companies do. Well look, this is obviously where our ways part.

Our local news outlets are reporting that dozens of local physicians are throwing in the towel because of this. Access is going to become a problem in the not too distant future.

Look, I know you've heard all of these arguments before. And, I'm certainly not going to change your mind.

Not to beat a dead horse here, but evidently we know different Canadians. ;)

Thanks for your time, Cricket! I'll be reading. I always do. I have your blog in my feed reader, and read every post.

Cricket said...

One last thought:

In a civilized and rich country like the United States, it is reasonable for society to accept an obligation to ensure that all residents have affordable access to at least basic health care...

The obligation on individuals does not have to be a "hard" mandate, in the sense that failure to obtain coverage would be illegal. It could be a "soft" mandate, meaning that failure to obtain coverage could result in the loss of tax benefits...

An important step towards that would be to overhaul the tax treatment of health care, gradually ending the regressive tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance and replacing it with a more progressive subsidy...

It is also important to de-link financial support from household work status. In other words assistance for health care coverage should not be based on employment or retirement status, and it should be available for the cost of coverage from any reasonable source...

Congress would provide an amount of funding. This would be for two purposes. Part of the money would help states fund certain approaches. The other part would "reward" states according to how successful they were in meeting the goals...

The goal of universal coverage is likely to remain elusive under our current health care system. Today we provide help to people to afford coverage in such an inefficient and inequitable way that it is impossible to help all those who need it to afford coverage. In addition, we have a patchwork of programs and subsidy systems with a multitude of complex eligibility requirements that guarantees people will fall through the cracks...

Reaching the goal of universal coverage will be difficult. But it will be much easier if we rationalize subsidies for health coverage, enable people to pick the form of coverage that is best for them, and encourage state-federal experiments to explore innovative ways of organizing health care coverage.

Sound too liberal? Sounds a lot like some of the things that just passed, no? Let's look at the opening sentence...

My name is Stuart Butler. I am Vice President of Domestic and Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Interesting what those "socialists" over at The Heritage Foundation had to say on health care back in 2003. Full text here:

It gives me pause. Can an idea be "liberal" or "conservative" based solely upon its source? I wonder. I suppose what this really shows is that industry has Congress so far in its pocket that it doesn't matter. It will buy what it wants from one side of the aisle or the other.

As Frank Zappa said: "Politics is the entertainment branch of industry." It was true in the 80's and even more so now.

Buck said...

Interesting back and forth between you and Andy, Cricket. Andy is too modest to mention this, but he linked you a couple of weeks ago... specifically your take on "screw the billionaires." Check out his archives.

It's also interesting (to me) that we both think this "healthcare" bill that was just shoved down our throats is an abomination. Nothing was "fixed" and things are arguably MUCH worse. But we think that for entirely different reasons, of course. I'm with Andy. :-)

Cricket said...

Hi Buck -

Well, what I think this really shows is the "center" of Congress is bought and paid for. Just as with the bank bailouts, when Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell agree something's bad - you can bet it's probably bad.

I do think all the fuss over "mandated" insurance is a little funny, since it was proposed in that paper from the Heritage Foundation, of all places. Now it's an infringement on personal liberty? But not in 2003? Can this be true?

A man cannot serve two masters, for he will love one and hate the other. Well, the Congress can't serve both the people and the corporations either. This definitely seems true.

The poor will be with you always I often hear this one, yet Mark 14:7 goes on: and you may be generous with them whenever you wish.

Some take this as a call to personal charity alone. I don't. I think it inconsistent find political activity ok on some issues, but not on others. Most countries with socialized medicine aren't even socialist countries; they're capitalist countries with socialized medicine. Germany, France, Austria, Canada &c. Not exactly the Red menace. If they can manage, why can't we?

I suppose you and Andy can take heart in that I doubt we'll ever find out. Thanks for weighing in.

Andy said...

Cricket, I know this is beating a dead horse, but I want to address a thing or two.

First of all, I don't see what some guy at the Heritage Foundation said about this as relevant to my own thoughts on it. I really do not look to organizations for my views (either secular, or religious organizations).

You quote the rest of Mark 14:7.

"...and you may be generous with them whenever you wish."

I understand what you are saying. In the context of the scripture, Jesus is not ONLY saying that we will have poor always. He is certainly speaking to the broader situation at hand...the fact that He would soon be leaving His disciples. But, it's still the truth...we're always going to have poor folks.

You write, "I think it inconsistent find political activity ok on some issues, but not on others."

You are correct. God has called His people to speak prophetically to the nations on EVERY issue. But Cricket, I can not find one teaching of Christ that encourages His people to petition Governments to take the possessions of one man against his will (or under threat of force) in order to provide for another man's needs.

Nor can I find any time that Christ taught us to petition governments to force others to make wise choices. (Which compulsory health insurance may, or may not be).

I just don't see it. I am willing to be corrected, as I am not a true Biblical scholar.

You write: "A man cannot serve two masters, for he will love one and hate the other. Well, the Congress can't serve both the people and the corporations either. This definitely seems true."

Ummm...Corporations are people. Corporations are nothing more than a conglomeration of people that rely on the success of the whole for their own personal well being.

Now, if by "the people," you mean "people that don't rely on a 'corporation' for their survival"...well...I can't think of anyone that would apply to. Without corporations, there would be no tax social nothing!

Everyone relies on "corporations" for provision ( Christians rely on God for it, but He sends the checks through them).

At the end of your comment, you mention Canada, Germany, France, etc. and ask why we can't "manage" if they can.

There are some good lessons to be learned from other countries. The Germans have a very interesting system (I'll have to look back into my blog archives to find a post I did about it. When I find it, I'll drop you a link).

I actually did run across a Canadian blogger yesterday that echoed a few things you wrote in your post originally. I'll look it up, and drop it to you.

Cricket, I am 50 years old. My wife and I have managed to raise four sons (3 are on their own now...I only have one 13 year old left here at home), without having health insurance. Oh, I did have it once in my 20s when I worked for a "corporation."

Over those years, we have many times had to go to a, etc. On each of those occasions, we were NEVER denied treatment because we didn't have health insurance. NEVER.

That is not what happens in America. Treatment is guaranteed. Sometimes we were flush with cash, and paid on the spot. There have been times that we were short on the "long green," and we paid monthly until the debt was settled.

But, we were NEVER DENIED medical care. And, we got it right away...when we needed it. Not months down the line such as happens in Canada, England, etc.

Aaaaahhhh! I realize that I just spent 20 minutes typing a comment that is not going to change your mind one whit! HA! I'm laughing at myself...

Thanks for letting me blather, Cricket. Keep the faith.

Andy said...

Cricket, I found the post. It was actually an e-mail that came from a friend. The e-mail had a letter attached from a Mormon physician working in Europe.

To clarify...I am not a Mormon, nor is the fellow that sent it to me. But, it is pretty interesting. I may post it again. It's right here:

And, I found the post from the Canadian blogger that I mentioned:

Later, Andy

btw: Is "Cricket your real name?" Just joshin'...

Ananda girl said...

Very interesting post and comments line.

I am likely not as informed as you and Andy... but I do have an opinion formed from my own experiences. I do agree with Cricket, Andy.

The only problem with a market system is that the more money you have, the better care you get. Our present system allows our insurance companies to decide what care we require. Our physicians bow to what the insurance will accept if we do not have our own funds to pay out of pocket what the insurance company turns down, despite how our doctor may feel is the best treatment.

Having said that... I am very fortunate to have a doctor who will treat me even if I do not have a cent and pay for medication if required or find funding through the drug company who makes what I require to supply the drug for free.

My point being... he is a good man. There are also a few drug companies who take obligation to community to heart... to give back.
If they can do it, why not others?

As for Jesus... I am not good at quotes. But I don't recall him charging anyone for a healing. I do recall the exchange in the temple with the tax collectors. What about love thy neighbor as you love yourself? Jesus gave up all he had to preach his message (including his life). I don't think that making money in the market was ever his issue. :-)

Perhaps my views are very simple. But I believe we all need to give back in some way and to care for each other as best we can.

Andy said...

Oh no, Amanda! Your views are not "simple" at all. We certainly all do need to give to others.

The point I've been trying to make here is that we MUST NOT require "others" to give. A forced contribution to the welfare of others is nothing more than robbery. That's all well and good for legends of old...but it's still taking the possessions of one man, and giving it to another. I don't know how to make it any more clear. If Christ Jesus EVER advocated such a thing, I'd like to be corrected.

Your own experience that you relate is evidence that health care is available now, regardless of whether one has the money to pay for it. And, it is available WHEN we require it. I guess I've just heard too many horror stories from other nations about long waiting lists. I've actually got a Canadian friend that almost died a couple of years ago because of a ruptured appendix. He had to go to three different hospitals (in his own car) to find one that could help him...of course it's all anecdotal, and I'm sure that it could happen here in the US.

But, it's not my experience. In the few times I've had to seek medical care for me, or my family, it seemed to work just fine.

And, you're right about Jesus not charging for healing. But Sister, there has only been ONE Jesus. Healing oozes from Him at no charge. But Doctors have bills to pay.

Cricket said...

Andy -

I sincerely apologize if I implied that the Heritage Foundation speaks for you or vice versa. That was not my intent.

My point is only that one of the loudest voices against "Obamacare" proposed almost the same thing as recently as 2003. The mandate that was once recommended now seems to be an infringement on personal liberty.

It seems we both hate the mandate, again for different reasons, but still....

Though you may disagree, I do not see attempting to change the tax structure as mandating charity, but rather an attempt to create a more just society. Charity is charity, taxes and government something else again.

For the record, I have never voted to cut my own taxes, and I have on occasion voted to increase them. Property tax especially in RI is quite high, yet I would willingly pay more to fund the services it provides, rather than cut the services.

My neighbors seem to disagree ;-)

Andy said...

Heh! No apology necessary, Cricket. Sorry if my tone made it seem that I was offended. That is impossible...I had my feelings surgically removed...nyuk!

It might surprise you to know that I, too, have voted for higher taxes on myself. And, in four days I will vote to renew a property tax that pays for police and fire department maintenance here in my city.

I'm not anti-tax. Just anti-control. Why should my 20-year-old, and 27 year old sons with ZERO physical problems be required to purchase health insurance...or pay a fine if they do not? I would bet their total medical bills in the last 10 years wouldn't be as much as a couple of months premiums.

I know that you're not an advocate of this particular bill (for the reasons you've laid out). The whole thing just smacks of more government control over the free-will, and decision making abilities of a free public.

Aaaaahhhh...well, we've got it anyway. Maybe the courts will throw it out, and you and I will both have a chance to go back and advocate for what we REALLY want. ;)