Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Time for Editorializing - Presidential Debacle

John McCain and Barack Obama glittering comment from

I try not to get too political here though I reserve the right to do so. I do believe this is my place to vent at times so here goes.

In the current presidential race - I have to agree with the news commentator who said, (I quote but it is actually paraphrase) "Who won the debates? At least we know who lost - the American people."

I'm sorry but we do not have a good option right now. And neither candidate is really saying HOW they will do what they claim they will do. Or, if they are, I don't like what they are saying.Health care of course is my major area of interest here (for this debate - of course I worry about foreign policy, economics, families, and terrorism).

They're both wimps on this one. Obama has flip-flopped - which may be somewhat good in that it would be a big mistake to put it into the hands of the government to run inefficiently like they do everything else. They can't run Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and other programs without tons of red tape and hassles. Is it any wonder we don't want government running all of our insurance programs? But, that doesn't mean we can't have universal coverage where it is paid through taxes just as our postal service, education, utilities, etc. are. It can be run privately but paid and benefits received by all. It needs to be simplified. This government doesn't know the meaning of "simplify" and so his program will cost us way too much because they couldn't get outside the box enough to realize the real savings. You can't half do this.

That brings us to his next problem. The watered down version he presents now removes the very advantages that universal coverage has - that everyone has the same basic coverage and you don't have to deal with pre-authorizations, specifics of plans, deductibles, copays, billing, insurance paperwork and regulation compliance, billing specialists in every provider office to sort out the boondoggle, etc., etc., etc. And his plan adds FEES for noncompliance. "Everyone wants to provide insurance for their children - it just needs to be affordable." So how will it be affordable if he doesn't cut where it could be cut (in the unnecessary paperwork and red-tape)? Keep the employer plan if you like it, but if not (or if it is not available) buy another and we will penalize you if you don't.

I don't want any punitive fees! The reason for this of course is because his plan is not truly universal - if you try to kind-of-do-it you have to find ways to get people to sign up. If everyone gets the same coverage you don't have this problem. Do we get charged a fee if we don't sign up for public education or public sewer systems? They think by keeping some competition there between public and private we will not really feel like it's "socialized medicine" - the big, bad word for universal health care coined by the insurance lobbyists. We now have "socialized education" and we can't even get people and leaders to support vouchers for parent choice to make that competitive. Why do we think we need to keep health care optional. The competition comes with which hospital you choose to use for your care but the coverage goes with you and doesn't even remotely look like an HMO or PPO. We could have more choice than we have presently.

Then there's McCain. The Republicans are notorious for keeping their heads in the sand on health care. This is because politicians are all being bought and the mafia that runs this country (and funds all their campaigns - Rs& Ds alike) with their big money guns convinces us that to have universal coverage would be like unto communism at its worst. Tell that to the countries where it is working. Are we really so stupid as a country that we could not put together a system that works, even though Japan, Germany, Canada, Sweden, France, Great Britain, Taiwan, etc. can do it?

So, McCain will give us a tax credit. Oh, great. Isn't that what everyone loves? Rebate time again! You spend the money and then we'll rebate some of it back to you next year (after the red-tape process of collecting it i.e. IRS tax returns). Meanwhile he says, "go out and buy insurance where ever you want to." Again, "we want to have insurance for our children, we just need to be able to afford it." Surely if we give the family a rebate next year that will solve all affordability issues. AND, meanwhile, good luck buying "whatever insurance you want" (assuming you can come up with the cash to do it and with escalating costs the fixed amount rebate may not even touch it). They still can deny anyone they want on pre-existing conditions, questionnaires they create and design to only cover healthy people who don't really NEED benefits. No problem, "let them eat cake." And we continue to pay for the uninsured anyway through higher health care costs.

I'm sorry but these people are both up in the night. Their silver spoons have prevented them from really understanding the plight of the middle class. No matter what their rhetoric, it's a joke. Health care needs to be removed from the employer. When a person loses his job this is no time for him to lose his insurance coverage. The stress is likely to contribute to poor health and if he has lost his job (and health insurance) because he is ill, how can he get well so he can return to the workplace and support his family? Smaller companies may even find ways to eliminate a person's position if that person's family is too big a financial drain (risk) than they want to absorb.

Another worry is, "if we provide coverage for the uninsured more employers will choose to abandon their employee coverage because they know they can get other insurance." Therein lies the problem of partial universal care (and the reason for the non-enrollment fees). Of course they would jump ship. The ship should have been eliminated to begin with by removing all basic coverage from the employer's hands along with power to give, take, restrict and eliminate through layoffs, firings, etc. If employers wanted to sweeten the pot with add-on or supplemental policies, fine - make it a perk. But, everyone needs to be able to get health care without the bureaucratic red-tape and active efforts on the part of the insurers to deny coverage. This coverage should not be a "perk" any more than clean water and sewer should be something we give and can take away.

The other problem with only half doing the job is it will cost way too much. We need to have everyone on the system if we are to eliminate the paperwork boondoggle and thus keep costs down. We need to have the young healthy people in the system too in order to share the risks. This is how insurance was intended to work before it became corrupt and "big business." The original fire insurance concept was that we all pull together to help everyone. Continuing to deal with "what is your insurance... what are the we need prior approval....oh, you have the purple card - we only take the blue card....we will need to submit've been dropped..." drives up the cost. Obama says we will take the money from the war efforts because if we pull out, suddenly the threats to our national security will disappear - NOT! The world sees that we won't finish what we start anyway and terrorists will once again invade our soil.

Health care can pay for itself if it is done right on all fronts. That is if we eliminate all the current federal health plans and incorporate them together along with making it truly universal - we are already spending the money it would take to make this happen. We just don't notice it because it comes through so many different avenues. We pay for the federal patchwork system already in place for the poor, the children, the crisis plans and the elderly. We pay through our own copays and premiums if we are insured. We pay through higher health care costs to cover the uninsured whose bills (in the millions) are not covered.

OK, so if I'm going to gripe, what is my idea for solution? Give up on the Feds and let's see Utah do it alone. Other states have begun to make strides in this way and Utah's Health Policy Project is trying. But, I say, hire Mitt Romney who did wonders for the Olympics, hails from Massachusetts (one of the states that has started on this trail with universal health care - unfortunately it is similar to Obama's plan - perhaps where B.O. got the idea). And he has an eye for business and finance. If the country can't handle him for president, even if he was more qualified than any of the others, Utah loves him and he could do this job.

Then, add IHC (Intermountain Health Care) to the equation. They already hold 75% of the market share of the insured in Utah and are posed in many ways to expand easily and be able to make this work. They have shown they can perform and they do it well. They care about quality even though they are large and they use their size to help the situation where ever it is - pool resources so even small hospitals can benefit from those resources that would otherwise be unavailable to them (or unaffordable) such as lactation committees that support the whole system, gather data and educate all.

If IHC were to combine with PEHP to come up with a do-able plan and Mitt at the helm to see it happen, we could lead the nation on this one. Pie in the sky? Only because too many people are afraid to actually take the bull by the horns. Yes, it takes guts but somebody has to do it and the two gutless candidates (one of which WILL be president as of next month) won't. Putting the focus on the states is the only answer for the foreseeable future. Maybe the states could manage it if it's not handled by the candidates needing the big bucks provided by insurance lobbyists for election purposes - actually, for crooked and corrupt politics if you ask me.

The bottom line in this country is that we will never have another Abe Lincoln because a poor country boy could never be elected president no matter how smart, courageous, loyal, brave, and honest. Only the wealthy can be elected now and in order to have money to campaign they end up being corrupted and manipulated. It's been years since we've been able to say to our children, "you could be president if you wanted to be." That is laughable!
I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and
report the facts.
Will Rogers

Ken suggested a couple of interesting sites. To see Massachussetts' plan in action click the post title.

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