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President Obama's letter to Sen. (s) Kennedy and Baucus


By lizbethie - Posted on 08 June 2009

A lot of people are asking "how can we afford this?" That's a reasonable question. The fact is that we have the most inefficient health care system in the world. Enormous amounts of resources are spent figuring out "who is going to pay for this"? And passing the buck around. Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman estimates that we will SAVE $150 BILLION annually by switching to a single-payer system... eliminating the high overhead & profits of the insurance industry.

Program Podcast: Building Bridges: Paul Krugman-Medicare for All: A Prescription for U.S. Healthcare

Free market doesn't work when it comes to health insurance. - Krugman

(link to MP3 lecture)

My question is....How can we afford not to?  I can think of little, besides national defense, that is more important than health care when it comes to spending my tax dollars.
And, no one should die for lack of it, no one should lose their home for lack of it, no one should have to file bankruptcy for lack of it, our businesses should not be put on uncompetitive footing because of it, and the list continues. It always amazes me Suzi how easy it is to get the middle class to fight with the middle class.
That will be comforting news in 35 years when the American Electorate is ready for single payer...Because as right as Paul Krugman might be, that has a zero chance of happening in the current political environment...for now, I will be thrilled, if we just get the public option at all.

This was my favorite part:

"None of these plans should deny coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition, and all of these plans should include an affordable basic benefit package that includes prevention, and protection against catastrophic costs.  I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans.  This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest."

That put a smile on my face :) I actually think having both options is the best way to go. It's like forced competition. If the private insurers get too choosy they'll lose out of the public option. If the public option becomes sloppy they'd lose out to the private sector. The only similarity I can think of is USPS on one side and FedEx, UPS, and the rest on the other side.

Problem with that is that USPS is hemorraging money due to inefficiencies and reduction of use due to electronic competition for mailing bills, cards, etc.

I certainly hope the public option doesn't meet that kind of fate :\

No it's not.

 

It's hemorraging money due to the internet (email and facebook anyone?).

It's still an awesome deal.

and reduction of use due to electronic competition for mailing bills, cards, etc.

It's losing billions.  6 billion last year and 2.3 billion year to date.  I am not sure what kind of awesome this is....... It can't compete in the form it is in now and has to change to meet today's world.

 

My take on "awesome deal" was the low cost of using the USPS services.  It is an awesome deal for the consumers.

with whose money does the post office use to fund its losing business?

The price we pay at window is not the cost of this service to us.  It's just hidden.

Reread what I wrote...I said the low cost of using the USPS is a good deal for consumers.  I understand your point clearly, but that was not what I was talking about.  Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, and everything is not about a bottom line.  John Q. Public does not stop to think about the funding of the post office when they are looking for the cheapest way to mail a package, letter, etc.

Fair enough - misunderstood you but there's a bottom line for everything :) 

 It just maybe in different places for different people ;)

Mary, Mary, Mary....lol   I may not be one who sees everything through the same lens as you, but remember that I ran a very successful business for many years, so am well versed in the subject.  I was referring to the bottom line on a P & L,  as you know.  I also know from life experiences that there are many things in life that are more important...and I guess that is my personal bottom line. ;-)
Isn't that Mary's point with electronic competition?

I actually think having both options is the best way to go. It's like forced competition. If the private insurers get too choosy they'll lose out of the public option. If the public option becomes sloppy they'd lose out to the private sector.

EXCELLENT POINT!

Why wait for a formal debate/negotiating? From MSNBC: The GOP Senators have already said "no" (their favorite word) to a public option. The only one not signing on was Olympia Snowe. I guess they really want to protect the insurance industry from competition. Remind me: will Obama need 51 votes or 60 to pass something by October?

In a letter President Obama, key Senate Republicans say they're unwilling to support one of Obama's pillars for health-care reform: a public/government insurance program to compete against private plans. The letter was signed by all but one of the Republicans on the powerful Finance Committee, one of the panels writing the health-care bill. (The one Finance Republican who didn't sign: Olympia Snowe.)

Citing the looming financial crisis for Medicare and Medicaid, the senators said that "creating a brand new government program will not only worsen our long term financial outlook but also negatively impact American families who enjoy the private coverage of their choice."

Their primary concern is that a government program available to all Americans would be cheaper, and as a result Republicans say, employers would drop their more expensive plans and put their employees on the government plan. They also fear people would take their own initiative and shift their coverage to the public option.

 

"Their primary concern is that a government program available to all Americans would be cheaper, and as a result Republicans say, employers would drop their more expensive plans and put their employees on the government plan. They also fear people would take their own initiative and shift their coverage to the public option."

Oh, the horror. The people will want affordable health care that won't make them homeless or otherwise buried in debt to GOP-friendly businesses. Surely this is a horrible, horrible idea.

(insert Misty's dripping sarcasm graphic here)

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It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I think the rhetoric needs to change a bit. Arguments like "we can't support it because it would be cheaper" or "it would save employers money and we can't have that" are so weak I'm even surprised they dared to utter them in public. If more and more people will start calling them on it they'll have to either change gears, and then explain their current position, or change course which would hurt their wallets. In a way this may turn out to be a very shrewd tactic by the administration: let them voice their opinions first, we'll keep quiet and vague, and then hold their -- heavily lobbied -- positions against them.

1)  I thought the whole idea for the GOP was to sever it from employment and make it available across state lines.  Would truly become competitive then as insurers would have to be transparent in pricing.

2) If Medicare and Medicaid are going bankrupt - how will the public option not meet the same fate?  What will be so different?

  1. Then the GOP is doing a horrible job of communicating that by pledging a "no" vote under any circumstance for the public option.
  2. That's largely up to the lawmakers (I know, they don't inspire much confidence at all), who will have to look at the examples of VA, Medicare, etc. to devise a public plan. If they bother with a public plan.
----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

I would love to see what the financing of the plan would be.  I thought it would be a prorated program, but I haven't really seen anything detail wise.

The GOP has a big problem, I believe, in saying under no circumstances would a public option be acceptable to them. What is to prevent the Obama administration from putting out the word "Republicans want to stick to their ideology over the public good." Obama has always been good at playing chess, and I would bet he would frame this as "GOP prevented health care reform," if the public option is blocked, and no meaningful reform can be agreed to, or "Democrats in Congress supported your right to have health care for your family, over the objections of Republicans" if reform passes-- a decent campaign issue for 2010 and possibly beyond.

Why is it that the GOP representatives in Congress apparently believe that, if it is a Democrat initiative, and supported by a Democratic president, that it must be opposed, no matter what. I do not think that is going to be a winning strategy.

 

I think we need to write to the GOP leaders and ask why it is okay that we as taxpayers, pay their benefits but we as those voters who put them in do not have the same type of benefits as they do after all we are their employers.

51 votes Kelly...and might I add that I saw Howard Dean on Olbermann tonight and he said about trying to get a bypartisan deal that, bypartisanship is good, but doing what is right is most important!  How true it is!

Policies and the results of those policies are more important to people than how many D's or R's voted for the bill. I mean, who remembers or cares how many Democrats or Republicans voted for the Medicare Act in 1965?   

Can you imagine what would happen if we tried to enact Medicare today???
Being a young whippersnapper, I'm not sure about the history of that.  What's the story there?
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over. Medicare operates as a single-payer health care system.

Reading the letter itself, I am, of course, in agreement with the President. No surprise there.

And I do think that it is important to get major bipartisan agreement, otherwise you are disenfranchising tens of millions of people if you force plans through dictator-like. 

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

Well, that's refreshing to know it only needs 51 votes. I hope none of the Dem's halt it (they can be chummy with insurance companies, too.) It's ironic that the Republicans talk so much about giving Americans more choices, but suddenly it's a bad thing..they are giving new meaning to the term "Anti-Choice." I think Pres. Obama will just put it this way to the GOP "Health Care reform will happen. Either you fight it and say no from the start or you really roll up your sleeves and help get it done so you can get some credit, too!"

Health care reform will likely get done, Kelly. The problem is, whether or not the end result will be meaningful, or just hot air.

 

Just to add...

I think Newt is actually talking about Hillary's plan from ages ago (and hoping nobody will notice) when he debates healthcare. It sounds nothing like the current discussion/things actually on the table. Typical, living in the past.

Newt wonders if he has a message to unify the country. Let's all help him out here friends ......... NO!
NO!!  The only word the party understands these days.  I'll say it again Newt...NO!!

Dear GOP,

As a Republican, I have a couple of questions about your position on President Obama's plan for healthcare reform....well, three actually.

As previously mentioned, it would be cheaper, and would save businesses money.  What's wrong with that?

Why is it so important to protect the insurance industry, but not the American people?

I thought our party was a big believer in competition, yet you want a "level playing field" for the insurance companies, or they can't compete.  Why is that?

Sincerely,

A barely hanging on Republican

Hey! That was MY letter!

I love that they are afraid that people, if given the "choice," would pick the government option.

Um.

Free market? 

If the insurers can't compete, then you know what they need to do, right?

My point exactly!!  Of course, there's the saying that ends with...or get off the pot. lol

Well, you could say that for almost any good or service really. Government has certain powers not available to the private sector.

To me, a better method is to equate health care to other "essential public services" or "public goods" such as police and fire protection, both of which were once upon a time much more privatized but are obviously public goods which are subject to the problem of the commons.  

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

That's my point.

They decry the lack of fair competition in this option, but don't do it regarding all the other government "public goods."

Well, actually in a sense that's not entirely true. They have been for years trying to destroy by any means possible the public services, by either starving them of money or crippling them with bad leadership, so that they can dismantle government from the inside out and then turn everything over to the private sector.

 

Here is a great piece by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), outlining the state of healthcare in America, and why we need to change.  For some reason, I loved this piece more than anything I've read.  It gets right to the heart of the matter.

See, my problem with that is the initial premise -- health care is not a right. It is most definitely a privilege by any definition of the terms.

 By trying to define it as a right will immediately turn off many people (including me). Especially since "health care" requires active participation by other people, and therefore by defining it as a right inherently impedes upon the rights of others to provide or not provide a service.

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

And on this we completely disagree.

To me the pursuit of "life, liberty and happiness" is the fundamental part of the constitution that makes adequate health care a "right" for all Americans.

When people are dying or living crippled lives that they needn't live because of lack of access, then, just sayin'.

It sure as he** is more of a "right" than an education, and we managed to turn that into a fundamental "right" for all Americans.

"Life, Liberty, and Happiness" is not in the Constitution.

And education is not a fundamental right either, although it is an essential public service. 

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

The original triad upon which Jefferson's famous "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is based (life, liberty and property) is in the Bill of Rights-- not germane to this discussion, but there ya go.
----

It's sad that we've reached a point where 'government service' is a dirty word... If we're the greatest country on earth, maybe we can have the greatest government.

Lewis Black

By what definition is it not a right and education, police, or fire protection is?

Exactly.

Ditto. (Again... *Alina joins peterdang fan club*)

They're not rights. They're just essential public services. There's a difference.

I don't have an inherent right to any of those things. 

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." -- Douglas Adams

ok then Health care needs to be an "essential public service"
Yes it does. 

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