Doug Lerner reports from Tokyo and St. Louis, and points beyond…

Posts tagged ‘Health Care’

Obamacare, the mandate, the Commerce clause and the single-payer option

I agree with Eugene Robinson’s column. If Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional the only real alternative is a single-payer system. That is clearly constitutional (see Medicare).

But I hope the argument which was made at the end of the 2nd day of Supreme Court deliberations, that health insurance is inseparable from health care and everybody does use health care, is sufficient to convince the course that the insurance mandate falls well within the Commerce clause.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/supreme-court-could-open-door-for-single-payer-health-care/2012/03/29/gIQAyNJtjS_story.html?hpid=z2

doug

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Mitt Romney haunted by past of trying to help uninsured sick people

http://www.theonion.com/articles/mitt-romney-haunted-by-past-of-trying-to-hel…

doug

Polls turn in favor of new health care bill

Republicans who thought health care reform was going to be Obama’s Waterloo and are hoping to make repeal their big campaign issue in the fall are going to have to think twice. The Democrats designed it to front load with lots of positive features that people just aren’t going to want to give back once they give it some logical thought.

And opinion polls already show more people in favor of the new law than opposed:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-03-23-health-poll-favorable_N.htm?csp=usat.me

doug

New dieters social network Diet Harbor

Please also visit my new social network for dieters, Diet Harbor (a safe harbor for dieting mutual support).

http://dietharbor.com

doug

Clinton or Obama — On Health Care the Difference is Big

From the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-mcentee/clinton-or-obama-on-he_b_85144.html

by Gerald McEntee

Clinton or Obama — On Health Care the Difference is Big

There has been extensive coverage in the mainstream media and blogosphere about the health care proposals of Senators Clinton and Obama. This issue is important to me because I am a passionate advocate of health care for all and because the way the candidates deal with it points to a major reason I’m supporting Hillary Clinton for President: She’ll get results.

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Paul Krugman closed his Monday column about the political and economic differences between the two Democratic candidate’s health care plans by explaining that, “If you combine the economic analysis with these political realities, here’s what I think it says: If Mrs. Clinton gets the Democratic nomination, there is some chance — nobody knows how big — that we’ll get universal health care in the next administration. If Mr. Obama gets the nomination, it just won’t happen.”

Krugman makes a strong statement and it’s based on two points: the first is that Clinton’s plan provides universal coverage (through an individual mandate), and Obama’s plan does not cover everyone and does not include an individual mandate (except he does have one for children, which suggests he understands its usefulness). On this the experts agree — Obama’s plan leaves 15 million people uninsured while Clinton’s plan leaves no patients behind. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Outside experts agree that number is in the ballpark.” Obama has acknowledged this fact, saying that “Fifteen million sounds like a lot … I’ll have 97 percent covered.” The Washington Post notes that the “Obama plan could leave a third of those currently uninsured lacking coverage.”

Krugman’s second point is that Obama uses campaign rhetoric — straight from the pages of the right-wing, anti-government playbook — that demonizes mandates to the point where he would have a difficult time as president accepting a proposal that has one. The ideological intensity of Obama’s critique is a serious problem because an individual mandate is an effective mechanism for covering everyone. It’s far from the only way — but it is one way and it has lots of political support. If you’re trying to bring people together around a solution, ruling out something as big as this may well rule out your chance of success. In this way, says Krugman, “Mr. Obama’s campaigning on the health care issue has sabotaged his own prospects” of winning reform as president.

The case in point is Obama’s recent direct mail piece (PDF), which is misleading about Clinton’s plan and his own. Ezra Klein of the American Prospect says that Obama is “fear-mongering” and “demagoguing universal health care.” For example, Obama fails to mention that Clinton’s plan guarantees coverage for all. And while he says that affordability is the key issue, he neglects to note that her affordability provisions are stronger and more specific than his. Obama also fails to note that his own plan has an individual mandate.

The nonpartisan factcheck.org has done a thorough analysis of Obama’s mail piece that you can read on their site. Krugman and others note that Obama’s mailer is also reminiscent of the infamous “Harry and Louise” ads that the insurance industry spent millions on to kill national health care reform in 1993.

Jonathan Cohn from the New Republic, commenting on Obama’s mail piece, explains that “a presidential candidate who believes in a reform has to avoid making statements that could undermine that reform down the road. And that’s precisely what Obama has done here. Even he has admitted, in some instances, that a mandate might be necessary in order to get everybody into a universal health care system. (And he already has one for kids.) But this mailer — with all of its unmistakable echoes of Harry and Louise — makes that task much harder.”

“In the end,” says Klein, Obama’s “plan is not universal, does not attempt to be, and is probably less generous in its affordability provisions than Clinton’s. And even so, I wouldn’t really care, as it’s still a pretty good plan, except that he’s decided to respond to the inadequacies of his own policy by fear-mongering against not only a better policy, but the type of policy he’s probably going to have to eventually adopt. It’s very, very short-sighted.”

The substantive difference between Clinton and Obama on health care is that Clinton will cover everyone and Obama will not. There’s no reason to hope that every man, woman and child in our country will be covered under Obama’s plan because that’s not what he intends to do. When it comes to health care, the difference is clear: Obama’s plan sets us back. Clinton’s plan moves us forward.

Conservative Republicans get it all wrong on health care facts again

From the NY Times

October 10, 2007
POLITICAL MEMO
Capitol Feud: A 12-Year-Old Is the Fodder

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 — There have been moments when the fight between Congressional Democrats and President Bush over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program seemed to devolve into a shouting match about who loves children more.

So when Democrats enlisted 12-year-old Graeme Frost, who along with a younger sister relied on the program for treatment of severe brain injuries suffered in a car crash, to give the response to Mr. Bush’s weekly radio address on Sept. 29, Republican opponents quickly accused them of exploiting the boy to score political points.

Then, they wasted little time in going after him to score their own.

In recent days, Graeme and his family have been attacked by conservative bloggers and other critics of the Democrats’ plan to expand the insurance program, known as S-chip. They scrutinized the family’s income and assets — even alleged the counters in their kitchen to be granite — and declared that the Frosts did not seem needy enough for government benefits.

But what on the surface appears to be yet another partisan feud, all the nastier because a child is at the center of it, actually cuts to the most substantive debate around S-chip. Democrats say it is crucially needed to help the working poor — Medicaid already helps the impoverished — but many Republicans say it now helps too many people with the means to help themselves.

The feud also illustrates what can happen when politicians showcase real people to make a point, a popular but often perilous technique. And in this case, the discourse has been anything but polite.

The critics accused Graeme’s father, Halsey, a self-employed woodworker, of choosing not to provide insurance for his family of six, even though he owned his own business. They pointed out that Graeme attends an expensive private school. And they asserted that the family’s home had undergone extensive remodeling, and that its market value could exceed $400,000.

One critic, in an e-mail message to Graeme’s mother, Bonnie, warned: “Lie down with dogs, and expect to get fleas.” As it turns out, the Frosts say, Graeme attends the private school on scholarship. The business that the critics said Mr. Frost owned was dissolved in 1999. The family’s home, in the modest Butchers Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, was bought for $55,000 in 1990 and is now worth about $260,000, according to public records. And, for the record, the Frosts say, their kitchen counters are concrete.

Certainly the Frosts are not destitute. They also own a commercial property, valued at about $160,000, that provides rental income. Mr. Frost works intermittently in woodworking and as a welder, while Mrs. Frost has a part-time job at a firm that provides services to publishers of medical journals. Her job does not provide health coverage.

Under the Maryland child health program, a family of six must earn less than $55,220 a year for children to qualify. The program does not require applicants to list their assets, which do not affect eligibility.

In a telephone interview, the Frosts said they had recently been rejected by three private insurance companies because of pre-existing medical conditions. “We stood up in the first place because S-chip really helped our family and we wanted to help other families,” Mrs. Frost said.

“We work hard, we’re honest, we pay our taxes,” Mr. Frost said, adding, “There are hard-working families that really need affordable health insurance.”

Democrats, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, have risen to the Frosts’ defense, saying they earn about $45,000 a year and are precisely the type of working-poor Americans that the program was intended to help.

Ms. Pelosi on Tuesday said, “I think it’s really a sad statement about how bankrupt some of these people are in their arguments against S-chip that they would attack a 12-year-old boy.”

The House and Senate approved legislation to expand the child health program by $35 billion over five years. President Bush, who proposed a lower increase, vetoed the bill last week. Mr. Bush said the Democrats’ plan was fiscally unsound and would raise taxes; the Democrats say he is willing to spend billions on the Iraq war but not on health care for American children.

Mr. Bush’s plan could force states to tighten eligibility limits, but it seemed likely that the Frost children would still be covered.

Republicans on Capitol Hill, who were gearing up to use Graeme as evidence that Democrats have overexpanded the health program to include families wealthy enough to afford private insurance, have backed off.

An aide to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, expressed relief that his office had not issued a press release criticizing the Frosts.

But Michelle Malkin, one of the bloggers who have strongly criticized the Frosts, insisted Republicans should hold their ground and not pull punches.

“The bottom line here is that this family has considerable assets,” Ms. Malkin wrote in an e-mail message. “Maryland’s S-chip program does not means-test. The refusal to do assets tests on federal health insurance programs is why federal entitlements are exploding and government keeps expanding. If Republicans don’t have the guts to hold the line, they deserve to lose their seats.”

As for accusations that bloggers were unfairly attacking a 12-year-old, Ms. Malkin wrote on her blog, “If you don’t want questions, don’t foist these children onto the public stage.”

Mr. and Mrs. Frost said they were bothered by the assertion that they lacked health coverage by their own choice.

“That is not true at all,” Mrs. Frost said. “Basically all these naysayers need to lay the facts out on the page, and say, ‘How could a family be able to do this?’ S-chip is a stopgap.”

Republicans offer no health care solutions

The Republican candidates all talk about “tax credits” for getting personal health insurance.

I never understood how this would make private health insurance, which would cost like $6,000 – $9,000 a year for comprehensive coverage for a family of four affordable to an average family who can’t make ends meet already.

Also, I haven’t heard any Republican candidate address the elephant in the room – pre-existing conditions. Unless that is part of the overall solution it isn’t a solution at all as far as I can see.

I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat by any means. But I don’t see how anybody with the slightest interest in solving the health care issue in the U.S. can even consider voting for a Republican.

doug

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