Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Healthcare Bill

I got a couple of emails from friends that read my stuff asking where I have been, what with the Healthcare Bill and all.

As for the Healthcare Bill... YAAAAAWWWWNNNN!!

This was a disgusting display of politics on the part of the Congressional Democrats (not that the Republicans have not been equally as guilty - if you will recall the Medicare/Drug give away that the Republicans crafted a few years ago...), and a bald attempt by the really screwy folks on the Far Left to usurp Capitalism and the U.S. Constitution.

And it will not survive the coming Constitutional challenges.

And we don't have the money to pay for any of the non-sense coming out of Washington.

So, my personal answer is to go work outside (its a lovely day) and get a little exercise, eat well, brush my teeth, floss, and have a glass of wine everyday with dinner - that's my answer to my own "healthcare" questions. Worry about yourself, because there is not a soul on the Left NOR the Right that cares about your well being.

That's just me. For those of you that want something you can put your teeth in...

The following is a guest post by Congressman Dr. Ron Paul, MD:

Following months of heated public debate and aggressive closed-door negotiations, Congress finally cast a historic vote on healthcare late Sunday evening. It was truly a sad weekend on the House floor as we witnessed further dismantling of the Constitution, disregard of the will of the people, explosive expansion of the reach of government, unprecedented corporate favoritism, and the impending end of quality healthcare as we know it.

Those in favor of this bill touted their good intentions of ensuring quality healthcare for all Americans, as if those of us against the bill are against good medical care. They cite fanciful statistics of deficit reduction, while simultaneously planning to expand the already struggling medical welfare programs we currently have. They somehow think that healthcare in this country will be improved by swelling our welfare rolls and cutting reimbursement payments to doctors who are already losing money. It is estimated that thousands of doctors will be economically forced out of the profession should this government fuzzy math actually try to become healthcare reality. No one has thought to ask what good mandatory health insurance will be if people can’t find a doctor.

Legislative hopes and dreams don’t always stand up well against economic realities.

Frustratingly, this legislation does not deal at all with the real reasons access to healthcare is a struggle for so many – the astronomical costs. If tort reform was seriously discussed, if the massive regulatory burden on healthcare was reduced and reformed, if the free market was allowed to function and apply downward pressure on healthcare costs as it does with everything else, perhaps people wouldn’t be so beholden to insurance companies in the first place. If costs were lowered, more people could simply pay for what they need out of pocket, as they were able to do before government got so involved. Instead, in the name of going after greedy insurance companies, the federal government is going to make people even more beholden to them by mandating that everyone buy their product! Hefty fines are due from anyone found to have committed the heinous crime of not being a customer of a health insurance company. We will need to hire some 16,500 new IRS agents to police compliance with all these new mandates and administer various fines. So in government terms, this is also a jobs bill. Never mind that this program is also likely to cost the private sector some 5 million jobs.

Of course, the most troubling aspect of this bill is that it is so blatantly unconstitutional and contrary to the ideals of liberty. Nowhere in the constitution is there anything approaching authority for the Federal government to do any of this. The founders would have been horrified at the idea of government forcing citizens to become consumers of a particular product from certain government approved companies. 38 states are said to already be preparing legal and constitutional challenges to this legislation, and if the courts stand by their oaths, they will win. Protecting the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, should be the court’s responsibility. Citizens have a responsibility over their own life, but they also have the liberty to choose how they will live and protect their lives. Healthcare choices are a part of liberty, another part that is being stripped away. Government interference in healthcare has already infringed on choices available to people, but rather than getting out of the way, it is entrenching itself, and its corporatist cronies, even more deeply.
I think that that sums it up better than I could have.

On another note... you remember "Wilber" the hog... the pig we contracted to clear our garden over the winter? Well, "Wilber" went off to his eternal reward, but before doing so he tipped the scales at 498 lbs. Not a bad weight gain from a 12 pound piglet last March 20 to 498 lbs today. For the most part "Wilber" will be going to some folks that will really appreciate him with a portion coming home for a BBQ with the neighbors and the folks that help keep the farm running during the winter.



40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank God for people like Ron Paul. Can't help but feel like we lost a lot of freedom today. But I agree that there is no money to pay for this abortion of a bill. It seems it will fail like the rest of the welfare state.

bureaucrat said...

While I was hoping someone was going to summarize what was in that 2,400 page bill, it is not all negative. Something had to be done about the 30-40 million uninsured in this country, using emergency rooms for everything, with 30-50% of bankruptcies being caused by health-related expenses.

Every other country that matters has single-payer, which is what we should have had. At least we have something now, maybe. The Supreme Court might strike it down, but in Illinois we have required auto insurance, and the courts didn't strike that, so we'll see.

Having the lawyers watching over the health care industry is NOT a bad thing. Lawyers aren't going to waste their time with non-issues. There are very few multi-million dollar court decisions against doctors (only 2% of all court cases go to jury trial anyway).

Medical care costs a lot because someone else (the insurers & the government) are paying for it, instead of people out of their own pockets.

How we pay for it is a reasonable issue, though given the under-taxing of the wealthy the last 30 years (with the Federal and state deficits and debt now dumped on the children), I bet there is lots of money out there that can be found for taxes/fees for health care.

When was the BEST time in America, baby boomers? The 1950s, when the top Federal tax bracket was 90%.

Dextred1 said...

I don't think the details matter. The bill is full of lies and distortions. Plus I don't think that every other country that matters has single payer. India and china being the two most important. I actually think adding anymore liabilities on the back of the tax payers will at mininum cost millions of more jobs and at the worst bankrupt every state with unfunded mandates and then go cascading into washington as a tidal wave of debt. Don't see this going to good with the loss of oil production or even a stangnant to little growth scenario.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Bureaucrat:

It seems that the misinformation and propaganda campaign he the desired effect on you.

Anonymous said...

Greg,

You can not beat the hog's contrabution to the farm; eats all the weeds and seeds,fertilizes all the while,works the soil,keep insects at bay, and you can eat or sell him in the Spring. Great investment. We alway utilized one on our farm.

As the health bill,(not nearly as interesting to me), keep one's self in good shape and enjoy this place while you can.

peace

Anonymous said...

I hope you git your share of the rendered hog fat off of Wilbur. Best pie crust in the world, pure pork lard...beats butter any day. Good for frying up all the potatoes and grits. A good lard sandwich is probably something you neighbors know something about. Slather a slab of white bread with about 1/2" of lard, sprinkle a little sugar on it and you've got one heck of a country sandwich there.
Don't believe all the propaganda about it being bad for you...it's goooood!

Stephen B. said...
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Stephen B. said...
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Stephen B. said...

Bur, I too thought of the similarity of compulsory automobile insurance such as we have in MA, but quickly realized that there is a critical difference: driving a car on public roads is not a right. Rather, it is a privilege as, by definition, that's what licenses convey, privileges, not rights. The state can require insurance if you want to drive a car on the public roads. If you don't agree, you are still free to walk, ride a bike, or use a horse (interstates excepted.)

On the other hand, with this compulsory health insurance purchase, there is no opting out at all, unlike putting a car on a public road.

Bur also said: "When was the BEST time in America, baby boomers? The 1950s, when the top Federal tax bracket was 90%." Yes, but that also was the time that oil and natural gas use was growing by leaps and bounds. THAT is what caused the prosperity - all those new-found energy slaves we set to working for us, not high-rate progressive taxation. Besides, the overall tax burden on Americans was still much lower then. On the other hand, just try high taxation NOW, with tighter, shrinking energy supplies killing all the economic growth, and see if THAT kind of crazy taxation leads to more 1950s-style prosperity under these new energy conditions.

Sheesh.

Dan said...

Bur,
Oklahomans are required to carry Auto insurance too. I remember when that law passed, four months later my semiannual policy expired and the rates doubled. Methinks my ridiculously overpriced health “insurance” policy will become a ludicrously overpriced policy. I put insurance in scare quotes because it is actually a service agreement, risk pooling to protect against catastrophic loss it ain’t.

The bottom line is the government passed a law to “help the poor,” so if you ain’t among the uberwealthy - ya better bring your own Vaseline.

Dan said...

In 1950 we still had a national economy so the elites being taxed at 90% did not have an out. There was a global economy in 1900 but it didn’t survive the Great Depression and First World War. In 1950 we had a number of labor saving devices coming on line yet the country was still organized as though they did not exist. E.g. the government hadn’t inflated away the productivity gains yet. Finally in 1950 we had all our productive capacity intact while the rest of the world was struggling to rebuild theirs; the manufacturing centers of the rest of the world were being firebombed a scant five years prior.

Today, labor saving devices have reached the point of negative marginal utility. Most of the workforce is superfluous and has been or is in the process of being replaced with robotics, CNC, etc. instead of a massive workforce we now only need a handful of technicians to oil the machinery, tweak the software, etc. unfortunately, how they continue to be consumers without also being laborers hasn’t been worked out yet. Unfortunately, laborers that were displaced by advancements in farm machinery at the start of the twentieth century were largely killed off during the world wars, so the historical precedent is bleak. Hopefully we can avoid that this go round. On the other hand I expect us to revert to a national economy, save petroleum, in the not too distant future.

Dan said...

About those price increases…

Anonymous said...

Re:the 90% Fed tax rate of the 50s-

NOBODY every paid 90% tax rate. There were so many tax loopholes it would make your head spin.

Regards, Marshall

Anonymous said...

We lost a lot of freedom. It is a constitutional nightmare.

Single payer is where they are going. This first round will push the price of insurance through the roof. Government will "Have to do something" again and single payer will be it. At that point, you take what you're given and say thank you. Unless...

Most of the people that voted for this thing have enough money to not need insurance and can go anywhere in the world to get the treatment they want. This bill, like all things Left, is for the rest of us. F%$# 'em! They are doing it to you. Time to vote the whole pack out.

Further, the whole emergency room thing is a crock. If the emergency room costs so much, why haven't hospitals built cheaper-to-operate clinics next door for those with skinned knees and the sniffles? Baloney on the face of it.

Marshall is exactly right. At the VERY worst, people would buy assets to depreciate, and then sell them and take the capital gain at 45%. There were lots more escape hatches than that. Please, Bur, do your part. The federal government accepts gifts readily. Go first. If you feel under taxed, sign it all over.

Regards,

Coal Guy.

bureaucrat said...

Single payer should have been what we got. The U.S. spends 16% of our GDP on health care. The next biggest (single-payer) country, Canada I think, pays half of that. By including everyone, the risk pool is bigger and the economies of scale are greater. Plus doctors have lots of protections from all these supposed ambulance-chasing lawyers. It's a better system, and that's why everyone else that matters does it.

As far as the 90% tax goes, we haven't had such a gulf between rich and poor in this country since the 1920s, just before the "big headache" started. And that's probably just where we're headed all over again.

If anyone can point out a time and place where, like today, the top 20% of income earners owned 93% of the financial assets (stocks, real estate, business assets, etc.), and the middle class thrived, I'd be happy to entertain that information. Nigeria maybe has that kind of divide (actaully I think it is even worse there), but it does NOT have a middle class. In the 1950s, the gulf between rich and poor narrowed considerably, and we were better off. Maybe it was high taxes, maybe cheap energy, maybe it was the sock hop, maybe something else.

That empirical enough for you, Jeffers? :)

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Paretto's Law of the Trivial many and the critical Few holds in all things, including wealth distribution.

You could no more over turn that than pi or e.

But if you are on the Left, you will keep trying and letting it fail, so that the government will "have to do something".

Anonymous said...

Bur,

Do you understand that "Single Payer" means exactly that. Securing health care outside the system will become a crime. If the bureaucrats decide you are not worth treating, or you don't like the treatment you get, too bad. You either go untreated, become a criminal or leave the country.

I plan to eat right and stay fit. As much as I can avoid "healthcare," I will. Despite everything, I may have trouble sooner than later no matter what I do. It will go hard on the 300lb couch potatoes with clogged arteries and diabetes.

Regards,

Coal Guy

Donal Lang said...

Wecome to your entry into the civilised world, with ALL the other countries that look after the healthcare of ALL the population (even if 50% of you are kicking and screaming!).

All you need to do now is castrate the insurance, drug and medical companies who are screwing everyone in the USA. So that's how a 'free market' works!

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Donal:

Shame on you, professor!

For the most part, healthcare means DRUGS. That is the treatment modality, far and away in front of surgical interventions. Either they cut you or they chemical you.

DRUG COMPANIES, not Doctors or state run care, develop drugs. Guess where the VAST majority of the world's drugs are developed? IN AMERICA. That's right - a country with 4.5 % of the world's population develops more than 50% of the drugs, a lot more than 50%.

It was OUR SYSTEM which enable you guys to have socialized medicine!

Like it or not, the vast majority of these innovations have been made, the drugs will come off patent, and drugs will get cheap again.

Further, the "ridiculous drugs" those which extend the suffering period before death cause a very, very significant portion of our healthcare spending.

There are many here that have good reason to believe that the system of payment PRIOR to medicare is the best - a free market. Just because the ROW is out of their collective mind does not mean that we should follow.

But good luck with that in the UK. I am curious to see how your single payer system works with your currency vaporized and a significant shortage in NG. VERY curious.

bureaucrat said...

I'm a bureaucrat, Carbon, and I'd ALWAYS treat you. :)

And there are lots of other overpaid upper-level bureaucrats above me who would be glad to hear any valid complaint you have and shuffle you off to a different bureaucrat like me for reconsideration. I work for several upper-levels who'd LOVE to overturn me. Haha!

Greg T. Jeffers said...

I should give credit to the UK for what is probably the most important group of drugs EVER - anti-biotics (actually he was a Scotsman).

Donal Lang said...

I was interested by the process of finding other 'uses' for existing drugs, where arthritis drugs are 'tested' to see if they also work for, say, depression. Also that most drugs trials are fixed or results suppressed. And many drugs in blind independant tests do worse than the placebo comparisons. Or how drug companies 'create' illnesses, especially psychoses, to treat.

But hey! Thank you America for all those drugs!

Meanwhile in the UK the Health Service went over to generic drugs about 10 years ago and cut drug budgets by 1/3

But still, bottom line is we in the UK pay less than half per intervention than you guys. And the benefits of NOT losing workers, and families NOT going bankrupt over healthcare bills, has to count for something.

Personally I think you should have contracted-out your healthcare to Cuba; they're MUCH better at it than you guys! ;-)

Dextred1 said...

Bureaucrat, how do you decide what is fair. Why should I give up my life earnings to support welfare programs. Why should the government steal from me to pay for someone else. On what moral grounds do you stand. I recommend you should read witness by Whittaker chambers. The elite will decide why, when and where. There is no middle ground the government is there to enforce contracts not to make contracts. Every time they interfere in any aspect of a market they cause distortions. I do not see at what point the state will stop. Power begets power until it ends in ruin. All the good intentions in the world lead to a people willing to kill off the "rebels". Russia, china and Cambodia being the case study and obama being the student. He lets the cat out of the bag every time he opens his mouth. Community Organizing, Social Justice, Freedom for artist to pursue their dreams, hope and change. It is so obvious it is sick. The Guy hates this system that we call capitalism. The state will grow as parasite until it kills the federal government and replaces it with a socialist regime that will lead to in Marx words "global communism". That is what this is about. Or maybe I am just paranoid.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that insurance pays the last N dollars of a prescription or test or doctor's office visit, regardless of cost. The consumer pays a co-payment of some fixed amount. If insurance paid 80% of the average selling price for each group of drugs, people would shop and prices would tumble. I'm sure there is some government reg that prohibits this.

Bur,

You are singular among bureaucrats!!! In the "Civilised" world, heath care is rationed. When bad comes to worse, a bureaucrat or group of them does a cost benefit analysis on your sorry a$$ and determines if your worth the cost. If not, the pusillanimous tools don't even have the balls to tell you, They just string out the waits between Dr's visits until you croak. I'd rather be a barbarian. Not nearly so fetid nor slimy.

Regards,

Coal Guy

Anonymous said...

It is generally quoted that 30% of the US healthcare dollar is spent on paperwork and general bureaucratic nonsense.

Total US healthcare $$ spent-

S2,500,000,000,000 or 2.5 trillion

30% of 2.5TrillionUS=

$800,000,000,000 or 800 billion bucks totally wasted.

Can we afford that much massive waste for total nonproductive activity? Of course we need to add in all the other non-productive activities w big tabs- top of the pile is litigation costs at $400,000,000,000/year and counting.

Regards, Marshall

bureaucrat said...

Dextred, you only mention communist countries like Russia, China and Cambodia. Is there anybody that isn't communist doing anything right?

Carbon,

Most burueacrats just follow what Congress tells us to do -- the Congress elected by the people. Everyday, tens of thousands of (old) people are killed by their doctors with the consent of the family (that's how my grandma was apparently let go -- they starved her essentially), cause these old peoples' bodies are failing and they can't go on any more. People die. To have 1/3rd of the Medicare budget spent on care in the last two months of a person's life is absolutely insane. They are gonna die anyway!

You can blame bureaucrats instead for doing the dirty work of killing your old family members, but in reality, doctors and families all agree to do it already, everyday.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Donal:

That Bankrupt story is BULL SH*T!!

The average bankruptcy is in the U.S. is for less than $35k. 35 fbombing K!!!!!!!!

The problem in the U.S. is a lack of savings (As well as discretion, fortitude, consistency, frugality, and moderation)!!!

These people GOT THE TREATMENT and then avoided paying for it by going bankrupt! They did not lose ANYTHING!

Remember those poor souls losing their house? They put NOTHING DOWN! What did they lose?

We have lost our collective minds.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

If Americans SAVED MONEY, and IF, IF, they were incentivized to SHOP, healthcare would be a very different story.

AND IF, IF people wanted to spend $500k of their families inheritance on the last 45 days of life, well, that's there business! Why do I have to get involved with that?

bureaucrat said...

As a person who had a $150,000 (Blue Cross cost) problem that landed me in the hospital off and on for three months, I can say for certain that "shopping for healthcare" is nonsense. You are trapped in a waiting room, then trapped on a bed somewhere, then trapped inside an MRI, you are dazed, you are distracted, you have no control over anything, and probably in pain. There is no time to go comparing hospitals and seeing who has the cheapest aspirins. I'm really surprised at Jeffers for not seeing/knowing that. You want to compare office visit fees in a calm manner, go ahead. But for the real money stuff, there's no time or ability in the real world to go "comparison shopping for healthcare."

Dan said...

Gregg;

Saving up 35K can be rather simple or darn near impossible for someone depending on their income. The constant inflation we endured for the last several decades, as the government siphoned off our productivity gains fell heaviest on the poor. The guy making $8 an hr is going to find it near impossible to scrounge up rent and groceries, savings is out of the question.

To top it off if they get sick and rack up say 20K in medical bills the moment they can’t pay it in full instead of converting it to a loan they may have a chance of paying; it immanently goes into default and starts racking up 18% penalty fees, ensuring bankruptcy.

Also I wouldn’t beat my chest about the RX advances, just watch the stinking commercials. They all seem to go something like: if you have minor annoyance X talk to your Dr about RX Y. Then about halfway through the commercial: possible side effects include bla, bla bla, stroke, myocardial infarction [heart attack], death, blab bla bla…

Anonymous said...

Hey Greg,
Is Bureaucrat like your cousin or something that you have put up to this so we can have target practice?

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Coal guy:

The working poor are never subjected to that scenario - they are eligible for Meidcaid.

I was not pounding my chest about drug advances - I WAS pointing out that there are 2 forms of treatment - slice or chemical (radiation is soooo small in us$ % not worth including in the discussion). That's it. Imaging is not treatment, its a source of revenue. No "test" treats anything. A test can tell you what you will most likely die from - and it can help determine what the treatment modality will be - but treatment is chemical or surgical - and the vast majority of the chemical treatments were developed under our system... not the single payor socialist systems that benefited and paid nothing...

BTW, I will be 50 my next birthday. I take no medications. I take my health and well being very seriously as I know you do. Healthcare is a very personal thing and most Americans just are not getting personal with it.

Donal Lang said...

Greg; again you talk as an intelligent, capable and ambitious man and assume that anyone who isn't as capable must be lazy, worthless or a shirker.
Similarly as someone blessed with good health and fitness, you feel anyone who isn't so blessed is somehow at fault.
I too am blessed with all the above, but I'm aware that 'there but for the grace of god...
Last week my 5 year old grand-daughter, who had been slightly 'under the weather' for a few weeks, was diagnosed with leukemia. She is now in a specialist childrens cancer hospital starting chemotherapy, at the National Health Service expense. It is one of the best hospitals in the world and I'm grateful for this service. I would not EVER want my daughter and her husband to be worrying about an insurance company withdrawing cover, or being unable to pay for treatment for her.
Would you?

bureaucrat said...

I've been watching the Jeffers blog for a couple of years now, and the comments on this blog since I started visiting and posting (2008 I think) are WAY UP. I can't tell how many viewers he gets per day, but from the increasing comments, Jeffers oughta be PAYING me for my visits. :)

I know you want to hear just what you want to hear. Sorry.

Dextred1 said...

The reason That I mention commie nations is because they are the utopia that the fabian socialists are pushing towards. The fabians here are people like no blink pelosi, obama and the such. They are different from the classical marxist because they choose to use "democracy" to push their agenda. The thing is that we are suppose to live under a constitutional republic. They should not be able to do what they are doing but they do. I do not think that all programs are bad. In fact i would say the church is suppose to do what the government does with charity. That is were most of the old hospitals came from. Truth is most do not give money to anything. Each has their own cause but It seems no one gives unless it is some hyped t.v. show. Honestly the world I want does not exist and never will I suppose.

Bureaucrat although i tend to disagree with you, I think that you are a well informed poster and I enjoy hearing your opinion.

bureaucrat said...

Gracias. :)

I don't know how many of you saw the 60 Minutes piece on that traveling medical group ("Remote Area Medical") that was supposed to do free medical and dental care in other countries and instead found too much need in THIS country, but the looks on some of those patients' faces, of defeated, desperate, helpless people with no money, nowhere else to go and too much pride, having to stand in line to see a dentist ... it is people like that, many of them God-fearing, gun-toting, conservative "I'm going to pull myself up by my own bootstraps" kind of people that hit a wall and now need help .. that's what makes me think being a Democrat is all about. Everyone needs help sometimes.

Dextred1 said...

That is my dad you are talking about. He just had a stroke and won't be able to work again it seems. I think that what people like me want is the ability to make money without being inhibitated by the government from supporting my family when times get rough. You think if the average family could take taxes and save that money till needed. Nevermind this country is the most saving averse nation on earth. I listen to dave ramsey all the time and the story is always the same. They bought car-house-crap on credit card-boat-r.v. that they could not afford and now need some advice and he is always like how did you get yourself into this mess. The people of this republic have done this to themselves and now have a government that looks just like them. We now need insurance because we have wasted all of our legacy assets from the 40's,50's, and 60's buying plasma tvs and plastic crap from china. Now we are broke, borrowing and heading for the big swirl to the bottom of the shitter.

Dextred1 said...

We are becoming a third world nation. I think you will see a lot more story's like that in the future. I wish i would of watched it. The economy fell down and won't get up. I would say more than 50% of my friends from school are either unemployed or laid off. It sucks being in late 20's at the end of the life cycle of your country. Back to the fields we go. I guess at least i know nothing will be there for me. A lot of people are counting on things that have a good chance of failing like ss, medicare and medicaid. Me and all my friends know we are going to have to fend for outselves.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the party here, but the new health care bill is completely worthless and this is why.

A study done at Harvard University indicates that this is the biggest cause of bankruptcy, representing 62% of all personal bankruptcies. One of the interesting caveats of this study shows that 78% of filers had some form of health insurance, thus bucking the myth that medical bills affect only the uninsured.

This is what happened to my wife and I. Some drunk bum plows the uninsured van he's been living in for the previous two years into my wife's car and we are talking about literally 2 million plus in medical bills and this was 10 years ago.

bureaucrat said...

I think 62% is a little high. More like a third? People also choose bankruptcy because of divorce and job loss. I don't know if divorce is up, but I know job loss definitely is. :)