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GUEST POST Chris Dodd: A Strong Public Option

by: Scarce

Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 22:17:45 PM EDT

A guest blog post by Chris Dodd.

Fighting to improve health care for people in my state of Connecticut and across the country has been a crusade of mine for the last 25 years. The ability to care for yourself and your loved ones and to live a long and healthy life shouldn't be a privilege. In this country, particularly in 2009, it must be a right.  You shouldn't have to be well-off to get well.

Because you and millions more across the country worked for change, we have the votes to pass a bill that expands coverage to millions of Americans, improves quality, protects patient choice, cuts costs, and averts disaster for our economy and our families.

But, as frustrating as it is to you and to me, I don't know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option.  What I do know is that whether we can get there or not is still an open question.  What I do know is that I plan to fight hard to convince my colleagues on the committee and in the full Senate that we need a public option.  What I do know is that I'm going to need your help.

When my friend, Senator Ted Kennedy, asked me to take the reins on this historic legislation, I did so with the full knowledge and understanding that it wouldn't be an easy task.  All of us involved in this legislation are under an immense amount of pressure from all sides.  That's why Congress has historically failed to reform health care.  After all, Presidents since Harry Truman have tried to do it.  And here we are in 2009.

I really do believe that this time will be different.  Many who once opposed our efforts are now sitting at the table with us as we work on these complex issues.  The forces of reform are stronger than ever, thanks to so many grassroots activists fighting for change.  And I am committed to passing a bill - this year. You and I are both committed to fighting for that bill to contain a strong public option so that we can keep costs down and offer more and better choices to American families.

As I said, it remains to be seen whether we can pull together the votes to make that happen. But I've learned in my time in Washington that compromise is important, but it's always worthwhile to stand your ground on the issues that matter most.  That's how we passed the Family and Medical Leave Act, credit card reform, FDA regulation of tobacco, and many other issues I've worked on over the years. We can't give up on a public option even if it is an uphill battle.  And so I won't. And I know you won't, either.

Scarce :: GUEST POST Chris Dodd: A Strong Public Option
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Senator Dodd... (4.00 / 2)

You say that you don't know if we have the votes to pass a strong public option. Maybe not in the Senate, but if we conducted a plebiscite, you would find plenty of votes. Poll after poll shows strong support,( some as high as 76%), in favor of a strong public option.

The fact that the battle for Universal Health Care goes back to the days of Harry Truman says more about the state of our democracy than about anything else.

Many of us feel  that Single Payer is by far the best option, but as President Obama has said, we must at least have a strong public option to claim reform.

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

The Senate should use the reconciliation process for (4.00 / 1)
maintaining the public option and obtaining substantive healthcare reform.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

Reconciliation is a legislative process of the United States Senate intended to allow a contentious budget bill to be considered without being subject to filibuster.  Reconciliation also applies in the United States House of Representatives, but since the House regularly passes rules that constrain debate and amendment, the reconciliation process represented less of a change in that body.

I don't want to hear that they don't have the votes.  

Without a Very Strong Public Option (4.00 / 3)
any bill the Senate passes will be a Sham.

I was very happy and encouraged to watch you finally get pissed off enough to scream with frustration yesterday during the Senate Banking Committee Hearing you chaired.This country and this state needs to see that side of you more because your frustration yesterday matched that which the American people are feeling every day.

We all know the only way for a Public Option to pass the Senate is through the Reconciliation process and we not only expect that you use that,we demand it.

Hey Bro (4.00 / 1)
I agree, but do you really think the Democrats in the Senate (Dodd included) would ever do anything to piss off their owners in the Insurance and Pharma industies? Dodd is giving us lip service and claiming he's for a public option but in the same sentence saying that they don't have the votes. WTF: 75% of the population wants it and yet the Senate Dems can't find a backbone to whip their own caucus as well as fight the Republicans who have reached third party status in this country?
Dodds saying "see , I want a public option, but those nasty Republicans and Conservative Dems are in the way."

He's trying to cover his ass because he knows without strong grassroots democratic support in CT, he is toast next year. If he can't the get job done, what use is he?

[ Parent ]
Bernie Sanders is still fighting for single payer (4.00 / 2)
and is a member of the HELP Committee.  You can sign his petition here

If you don't have the votes, go out and fight for them!!!! (4.00 / 2)
Don't tell us you can't do it.  If you can't do it, then retire and we'll hire Ned Lamont to go out and do it.  He's a fighter!  

No excuses.  Without the government-run health insurance option, "health care reform" is a great big crock of crap.  

Again, no excuses.  With the president 60 Democrats in the Senate, and an overwhelming majority in the House, it would be an absolute disgrace if you don't get this passed.

I really wish you would stop using (0.00 / 0)
Ned Lamonts name as a threat.It's not useful at all and in my opinion it diminishes his stature.

[ Parent ]
It's not a threat (4.00 / 1)
Ned Lamont is very much an active person in Connecticut politics, he chaired Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Connecticut- after campaigning for Chris Dodd around the country, including Iowa and New Hampshire.  Ned Lamont has also seriously considered and still is considering running for governor of the state.

My point is that Democrats need to show guts, they need to come through for us in this once in a generation issue.  And if Democrats in there now won't stand up for us, we'll find other who will.  Have we forgotten that Ned Lamont did the right thing for Connecticut and this country by challenging Lieberman?  Is there any doubt that Ned Lamont is highly respected among Connecticut Democrats?

My point is that our elected officials need to start fighting this fight, and not just cave in before the struggle has even been joined.

[ Parent ]
The Public Needs to Scream From the Rooftops! (4.00 / 4)
If citizens can protest in Iran, why aren't they doing it here -- now?  Many in Congress have forgotten their constituents; DC lobbyists had a seat at Baucus' health care table because his pocket, like that of so many other law makers, is lined with campaign contributions from pharmaceutical and insurance interests. These two industries represent the largest influx of campaign contributors over the last ten years -- totaling $2.8B -- with $108M already reported in 2009.

A system that ought to be designed to keep people healthy instead is constructed to protect bloated for-profit interests -- costing taxpayers more while also producing poorer outcomes. It is shameful that health care in all other Western countries compares favorably to ours.

Pay to Play continues to threaten our chances that  Americans will get the new public health care plan,
available to everyone, that recent polls say 76% of Americans favor.

Eating our own dog food (4.00 / 4)
I wonder why the crowd that asserts the superior efficiency of the free market is so skittish about allowing a strong public plan to pass. Isn't this the chance to prove once and for all that industry can do the job better than the government?

I would like to see single payer, but the public plan is an acceptable compromise. We're willing to eat our own dog food around here -- we think a government-run system would be better on a lot of fronts, and we're not afraid to have it running alongside the private plan to prove the point.

But now, we have to compromise on the compromise? That's both not cool... and entirely predictable. The Senate bid low when they should have bid high, so even if we "win" it's looking like the conservatives will be walking away from the table with more than half the chips (if I can extend a metaphor here.)

Really, if there's no public plan, don't bother.  

tell us then (4.00 / 4)
But, as frustrating as it is to you and to me, I don't know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option.

Make sure that whoever is against the public plan has to leave fingerprints when they try to take it down. No voice votes. Whoever "the Senator who Killed Health Reform" is will be taken care of by Democratic primary voters in their state.

Swimming In Big Pharma Money (0.00 / 0)
I have to wonder how serious he really is about this considering all the bucks his wife makes off of the very corporations fighting to make these reforms fail.

"Dodd's wife serves on health care company boards"


WASHINGTON (AP) - The wife of a senator playing a lead role on a national health care overhaul sits on the boards of four health care companies, one of several examples of lawmakers with ties to the medical industry. Jackie Clegg Dodd, wife of Sen. Chris Dodd, serves on the boards of Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardiome Pharma Corp., Brookdale Senior Living, and Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals, a financial disclosure report the senator released Friday shows.

Other publicly available documents show Mrs. Dodd last year was one of the most highly compensated non-employee members of the Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc. board, on which she has served since 2004. She earned $32,000 in fees and $109,587 in stock option awards last year, according to the company's SEC filings.
Mrs. Dodd earned $79,063 in fees from Cardiome in its last fiscal year, while Brookdale Senior Living gave her $122,231 in stock awards in 2008, their SEC filings show. She earned no income from her post as a director for Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals but holds up to $15,000 in stock in Pear Tree, which describes itself as a development-stage pharmaceutical company focused on the needs of aging women.

Anything you would like to say about that, senator?

"If those in charge of our society...can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." ~~Howard Zinn

. (0.00 / 0)
Well, he's on the record as supporting a strong public plan -- it's the 55 who won't commit whose seriousness I'd question.  

[ Parent ]
I Hope So (0.00 / 0)
But those connections do invite skepticism. And his response so far has just been to declare the questions "offensive".

"If those in charge of our society...can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." ~~Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
well (4.00 / 3)
He took money from the banks, punched them in the face with the bankruptcy bill, and then took some more money from them after. It's that middle part that's of interest to me.

I might knock the Senator for seemingly not being a real strategic powerhouse, but there aren't more than one or two who vote better on any issue that I can name.  

[ Parent ]
Senator, you're NOT doing YOUR part! (4.00 / 2)
You haven't even released a draft of a Senate bill containing the public option you claim to be in favor of.  I suspect you know that it's hard to rally people behind a mere concept -- "public option" --that means different things to different people.  Just look at Sen. Conrad's concept, for example.

Your decision to release a draft bill that did NOT contain a public option was a major blunder, and it caused a major setback to the effort to get a public option.  The CBO analyzed the draft bill and came to very harmful conclusions regarding cost, number of people taken off the uninsured rolls, etc.  That analysis was worthless, since it could not factor in the effects of a strong public option, but the those against the publlic option are using the CBO analysis to kill it before it sees the light of day out of your committee.

Two questions for you:

When will we see your committee's draft bill with a strong public option?

Are you trying to kill effective health care reform by blundering and delaying it to death?

Or maybe (0.00 / 0)
 introducing the bill in the Senate without the public action was a strategic decision?

Why do some people who know very little always think they know it all.

Please go study the Tax Cut Bill that passed the Senate by one vote 51-50 with Cheney breaking the tie.

[ Parent ]
51-50 won't cut it this time, (0.00 / 0)
what with all the talk of "bipartisanship" and even Obama talking about getting 70 votes in the Senate. If you really want 70 votes, all you'll get is a law throwing money at the insurance companies, which is, of course, the Senate's strong suit. I'm sure Sen. Dodd can be counted on not to put any restictions on using the money to pay bonuses to the insurance execs.

In any event, you can't rally people behind a bill that the responsible committee won't even put on the table, as demonstrated by the news that telephone calls to Senators' offices are running heavily AGAINST the public option.  And, while we wait for our bill, the commercials with this go-around's version of "Harry and Louise" are already on the tube.  

So, forget about why we haven't seen it yet.  I'll just ask again:  "When will we see the Senate version of public option?"

[ Parent ]
You still don't get it (0.00 / 0)
Either the Semnate Republicans give Pres. Obama what he wants or the Health Care Bill gets passed through reconciliation.

I'm sorry if you don't understand how this works.

[ Parent ]
There's only one thing I don't "get," (0.00 / 0)
and that's any sense of confidence that Sen. Dodd knows what the hell he's doing.  I just hope that, now that he's wasted his time writing this blog piece (something it should not have been necessary for him to do unless there was some considerable doubt as to where he really stood on the public option) he will be spending his weekend getting the draft of his public option bill out.

I understand "reconciliation," and if you understand it you understand that there are (i) many Senators who won't go for it, and (ii) many people who believe it won't work.  Obviously, it's a last resort, at best, and I'm glad that it's been preserved.  But to say, don't worry, reconciliation will save out asses by a 51-50 vote because Biden is the president of the Senate, as you do, seems to be conceding that that's the absolute best we can do.  

If we can get a bill out, we'll see how much support we can get for it.  Until we do, the Repubs will continue to build the case against us, and at some point it will be too late -- once again.

[ Parent ]
The battle for the public option.... (4.00 / 2)

All health care reform advocates recognize that the "public option" is core element of any successful program.  Dodd has taken a very strong position on the issue - in the statement above and in a variety of other settings.

Considering how important this battle is and how hard the opponents will push to destroy the bill and the effort, I'm a bit mystified by the critics here who are so quick to question or undermine Dodd's support.

The whole Obama message is to work for, defend and validate our friends --- while winning over converts to the cause.

Maybe the nay-sayers can explain their "strategy" here but it certainly seems to be a short-sighted one.

I have know Dodd for nearly 35 years and I my attitude is now is the time to cheer him on.  He is playing a key role in this battle and if he fails - the effort fails.

Many of us... (3.50 / 2)

would like nothing better than to cheer our senior Senator on in the battle for real health care reform. If I have sounded harsh, it is because for me and for other Progressives this an issue of paramount importance. We feel it slipping away and are being set up for the old, "well I tried, but didn't have the votes" routine. When the opponents of reform spend millions and resort to distorted propoganda to have their way, and Senator Dodd merely says he favors a public option, we sense where it all is heading.

Health Care reform is for many a profoundly moral issue and just going on the record in favor of it doesn't seem sufficient given the resources of the opposition. In other words; where is the passion?  

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
Obama can address the public and ACTIVELY ASK THE PUBLIC to pressure for the votes (4.00 / 3)

"...But, as frustrating as it is to you and to me, I don't know if we have the votes to pass a strong public health care option. "...

Thank you Chris for at least phrasing it as "I don't know..."

Everytime i hear "we don't have the votes" it immediately galvanizes the awareness of the likelihood that once the President SPEAKS directly to the People about this matter- and DIRECTLY REQUESTS us to bring the weight of the public to bear, THE VOTES WILL SHIFT.

Public address- I'm sure is in the works, but this is what will shift it once and for all into the proper column- public plan.  We're losing time.

It's that simple- this is leadership, and this is what the country needs and why we voted him in.

Chris, PLEASE confirm that Mr. Obama WILL come to us and ASK for this critical help SOONER than later- (LIKE NOW!) so we stop gambling with and possibly losing this important ground in this epic yet quite resolvable struggle.

Remind him this is not Spending Political Capital- it's earning MORE.

And let us know.

Thank you for stating this resolve. - also- post this in the big papers as well- have your team circulate this, it will help. (you know this)

You are correct... (4.00 / 2)

President Obama needs to pull a "Reagan" and go over the head of Congress and speak directly to the American people. He has the skills to turn the tide.

But let justice roll down like waters...Amos 5:24a

[ Parent ]
Read What Robert Reich Is Suggesting the POTUS Should Do (0.00 / 0)
Here's the link from over at TPM, and the comments thread is fascinating too:


Memo to the President: What You Must Do To Save Universal Health Care

June 19, 2009, 6:39PM

Mr. President:

Momentum for universal health care is slowing dramatically on Capitol Hill. Moderates are worried, Republicans are digging in, and the medical-industrial complex is firing up its lobbying and propaganda machine.

But, as you know, the worst news came days ago when the Congressional Budget Office weighed in with awful projections about how much the leading healthcare plans would cost and how many Americans would still be left out in the cold. Yet these projections didn't include the savings that a public option would generate by negotiating lower drug prices, doctor fees, and hospital costs, and forcing private insurers to be more competitive. Projecting the future costs of universal health care without including the public option is like predicting the number of people who will get sunburns this summer if nobody is allowed to buy sun lotion. Of course the costs of universal health care will be huge if the most important way of controlling them is left out of the calculation.

If you want to save universal health care, you must do several things, and soon:

"If those in charge of our society...can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves." ~~Howard Zinn

[ Parent ]
What we have is a compromise...and it is not working (0.00 / 0)
Why Senator Dodd, do you accept the premise that healthcare is a partisan issue?  Talking about a "bipartisan" solution introduces partisanship where it doesn't belong.  We need a nonpartisan solution and proposals that deprive the citizenry of true reform to appease partisan interests are not acceptable.

I'm willing to believe that your heart is in the right place but you are on the wrong road.  As the recently published study about bankruptcy illustrates, insurance does not equal coverage and coverage does not equal either health or financial security.  Convoluted expansion of for-profit insurance will not solve to either of the problems we have today - inadequate coverage and escalating costs - because for-profit insurance lies at the heart of both problems.

You and your Democrat colleagues in Congress are doing the people who elected you a disservice by continuing on the same path that has put individuals, corporations, and soon the nation into bankruptcy.  Instead of bargaining away the only option that has any hope of getting us to a better place, you should be fighting back.  Get out ahead of the sham proposals with facts and stop this pursuit of faux bipartisanship.    All the economic analyses show that single-payer, while it might involve some initial investment, would be less expensive than either the sham proposals or the dysfunctional financing we have now.

Talking about a public "option" is not reform.  We should be talking about single-payer, universal healthcare for every U.S. citizen.  That sir, is the only real public option.  Your focus should be on the citizenry - not corporations.  We need someone to stand up and fight for what is right, not for some self-defeating, overpriced "compromise"  We who are paying for your healthcare want single-payer and we want it now.  

And as soon as Pres Kucinich is inaugurated (0.00 / 0)
I'm sure it will be his top priority right after world peace is acheived.

I'd love nothing more than Single Payer Universal Government run Healtcare for all BUT Last I looked Kucinich was still in the House.  

[ Parent ]
Curious (4.00 / 1)
I know it's now the weekend, so whichever staff was monitoring this post is probably off 'till Monday, but I'm wondering -- if the House "Tri-Committee" plan, with a robust public option, scores better than the HELP or Senate Finance drafts, what's the likelihood that HELP might just take up the House bill as written?

Dodd (0.00 / 0)
 I also know Dodd a very long time  and take  him at his  word that he is for a strong public option  ( hi john Pelto)..now is  the time  to rally around him and most importantly the public option,instead of questioning his tactics and strategy.He is well aware of his particular polling situation and what will get  his numbers back up is standing up  for solid progressive issues like  this.

Total Bullshit (4.00 / 1)
  • Guest Posts are not conversations.
  • Staffers monitoring a Message in a Bottle from Officeholders or Candidates is Bullshit.
  • This is only one toenail away from sockpuppetry.
  • Get Real.

Someone needs to have Senator Dodd respond in person to these comments. And not next month...tomorrow!

"I am not a Blogger...But I play one on the internet."

come on people, look at the bill, read it in entirety (1.00 / 1)
Yes, people need healthcare. But you want a good healthcare plan that will save your life and the lives of your loved ones if needed? The bill that is on the table reads only managed care insurance will be allowed for everyone. That means if you enjoy a insurance plan right now that you like, a PPO for instance, it does not have the reguirements under Obama for managed care. So you won't be able to keep it.

And a exclusion in the bill for obama, dodd and congress. They will keep their coverage of go anywhere, get any treatment insurance paid for by taxpayers. If it is good for all America as Obama says, why not good enough for the government?

The bill reads that you have to be a legal resident or a illegal here rightfully. So another question, 15 to 20 million of the uninsured are illegals here now, why are they added to the total of 50 million uninsured? And if they have to be legal to get the insurance we go back to the mutli millions paid monthly per county for illegal healthcare? Los Angeles alone was 44 million for illegal's healthcare for one month.

Read the bill. Then read what Daschle's said in his book, don't tell them everything. If they know they will never pass it.In the bill several areas are not explained. They are going to pass it and then tell us the bad news.  "public option" only says, "Policy under discussion."

We have a 6 trillion deficit at this moment for social security, medicare and medicaid. A projected deficit of 60 trillion plus promised for these programs. Do you want to hand over your healthcare to a government than cannot control spending and will ration your healthcare?

No public option. Ask hospitals and physicians what medicaid does when they run out of money. They stop paying. A public option means private will be gone and we will all be under medicaid while we pay for the supreme care for congress and obama.

There is also money added into the bill for funding community organizers. Page 382. Is that healthcare? There are also fines if you do not pay for healthcare. They said the fines would be enough where everyone would make sure they have it next time.

"There's a reason why the president has said 'if we don't get this done soon, it's not going to happen,'" Kyl said. "Why? Why does he say that?

"Because he knows that momentum will inevitably slow for something that's extraordinarily costly, will deny people the coverage that they already have, will ration their health care, and could provide some kind of government insurance company that's going to drive out the private insurance companies that provide all these options," he said.

"It will impose new taxes, it will tell employers that they either have to pay a certain amount of money to cover people or they're going to be fined," Kyl added.

I am furious that Obama wants so much control over America's health. Daschle who says old people just need to get use to their illness and not look for treatment heads the GE healthyimagination registry for all health records where they will decide what to ration.

We can insure the uninsured and we can reform what is wrong with escalating medical costs without government rationing our care. For one thing once everyone is insured costs for medical care will go down for everyone. There will be no more one insured paying for 2 uninsured that are hospitalized. Enlarge medicaid for the uninsured. Leave everyone else alone. They can take a means test on how much they can afford to pay. They will have some skin in the game.

huh? (0.00 / 0)
The bill reads that you have to be a legal resident or a illegal here rightfully. So another question, 15 to 20 million of the uninsured are illegals here now, why are they added to the total of 50 million uninsured? And if they have to be legal to get the insurance we go back to the mutli millions paid monthly per county for illegal healthcare? Los Angeles alone was 44 million for illegal's healthcare for one month.

Can't really figure out what you're getting at here.

We can insure the uninsured and we can reform what is wrong with escalating medical costs without government rationing our care. For one thing once everyone is insured costs for medical care will go down for everyone. There will be no more one insured paying for 2 uninsured that are hospitalized. Enlarge medicaid for the uninsured. Leave everyone else alone. They can take a means test on how much they can afford to pay. They will have some skin in the game.

Not a bad approach -- though more expensive than what's being debated in Washington now.

[ Parent ]
Uh, you sound like an insurance company flak (0.00 / 0)
Not sure which bill you're talking about (you supply no links) but it's certainly not any one that represents either a single payer option or a public option.

Also, getting talking points from Republican Jon Kyl will never win you any arguments around here. Kyl is one of the many dumbasses in the Republican Party trying to prevent necessary health care reforms.

Good try, though.

[ Parent ]
We who are paying for your healthcare want single-payer and we want it now. (0.00 / 1)

No we don't. 50 million is not a majority with 20 million illegals they don't get a vote. The majority wants less government intervention. And Dodd with his corrupt background of sweetheart loans and gifts of property not disclosed? I do not trust him. Not many do.  

72% (0.00 / 0)
... want a public option, according to a NY Times poll.

Here's a link.

Stop trashing immigrants, too. It's totally unnecessary.  

[ Parent ]
The Senate should use the reconciliation process for (4.00 / 1) (0.00 / 1)
reconciliation was legislation to keep the deficit DOWN. Not to vote in bills we cannot pay for. We are trillions in debt now. Your grandchildren will be slaves to your need for single payer healthcare? How can you want single payer government run healthcare when you see what has happened to this country with entitlements bankrupt?  

Public option would be CHEAPER in the long run! (0.00 / 0)
All those millions of people who show up in emergency rooms without health insurance get treated anyway, and we all pay for that.

Good preventative care, which millions of people don't have access to, would lower costs too.

Also, if you cut out the billions of profits raked in by insurance companies -- which go to CEOs and shareholders and not back into medicine -- we would save billions more.

Right now, we pay more and get less:

Americans pay more per capita for healthcare than people in any other country, yet have high rates of infant mortality, diabetes, untreated heart disease and other conditions. Americans are often dissatisfied with their access to care.

[ Parent ]
replies (0.00 / 1)
 Can't really figure out what you're getting at here.

We are needing health care reform to stop the outrageous costs and insure the uninsured? This bill will continue illegals getting care and raising costs. 44 million in one month for illegals care the government pays now will continue to pay after reform. There needs to be some border controls before any legislation is passed, and if illegal they need to go home. If we are fined for not having insurance why do they get a pass? I am saying without this being taken care of, a quarter of the costs of our healthcare will continue to skyrocket.

Not a bad approach -- though more expensive than what's being debated in Washington now.

The bill is based on medicaid for the public option. How can it more expensive if uninsured pay what they can afford? The estimates go as high as 3 trillion now for obama's plan that does not cover everyone.  

You are believing what dodd and media are telling you and it is not true. read the bill. read daschles book on healthcare reform.  

. (0.00 / 0)
First off, $44 million really is peanuts in the grand scheme of federal expenditures.

And I guess I don't get that hopped up at the possibility that somebody somewhere is getting something they don't really deserve -- because the whole goddamn world is full of people getting shit they don't deserve. Failed CEOs with golden parachutes. Ivy league legacies. George W Bush in the White House and Newt Gingrich on my television.

If I had the magical power to wave a wand fix grave injustices in this world, the fact that a little latino kid can get a broken leg patched up on the government nickel doesn't strike me as the very first thing I'd change.

I mean, there's the bigger picture of international migration, agricultural policy, world trade, labor costs, and everything else, and I want a more humane and logical system written into law. We should have the amount of immigration that we actually need, and people shouldn't be in a position where their kids are going to starve to death because they're on the wrong side of a political boundary line. But getting that right is going to take decades if it's even possible. In the meantime, we need a better healthcare system.

[ Parent ]
Affordable Health Choices Act (0.00 / 0)
In the bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act, community transformation plans would be carried out using federal money and be overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC would distribute the money as well as coordinate the various state, local, and "community" entities responsible for carrying out the plans.

According to the bill, both state and local governments are eligible for the grants, as are "national networks of community-based organizations," a group which is not defined in the bill.

Two days after President Barack Obama told the American Medical Association that in some countries a single-payer health care system "works pretty well," the White House reaffirmed that people in those countries liked their health care, but also said it did not know to which countries the president was referring.

"I don't know exactly the countries. I think if you talk to the people in the countries that have that system, they think their health care is pretty good," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during the daily press briefing.

Diane sawyer, "You know, in 1965, everyone was told that over 25 years, the cost of Medicare would be $12 billion. The actual cost, $107 billion." Sawyer added, "Ten-times what the estimate was. Can you know this cost? And can you guarantee it's not going to be more than the administration believes?"

Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez quizzed Romer, the Chairwoman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, on Obama's repeated insistence that he has no interest in meddling in the private sector. She wondered, "He sounds like he's being forced to do these things. If he believes that big government is actually a bad thing, why doesn't he at least try less intrusive options, which are certainly be offered up?"

After Romer responded about how the status quo "can't remain," Rodriguez pressed, "But why not start less aggressively?" Regarding the issue of new government regulatory reform for the credit card and mortgage industry, the CBS host queried, "How can the consumer feel confident in - in trusting such a controversial proposal when, for example, the President conceded yesterday that unemployment will hit 10 percent, when the administration had predicted that if we passed the stimulus, it wouldn't go over eight percent?"

CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor announced "there are growing concerns that President Obama lacks a realistic plan to pay for this sweeping reform." Reporter Wyatt Andrews related "how the nation really pays for health reform just got a shocking wake-up call. The Congressional Budget Office, CBO, said Senator Ted Kennedy's health care proposal could cost one trillion dollars over ten years, and 36 million Americans would still be uninsured." Andrews proceeded to note how Obama "claims he can achieve reform without raising the deficit," but, he asserted, "the fact is, this means raising taxes." Andrews also pointed out that Obama's "more than $600 billion worth of spending cuts" to Medicare and other programs don't comport with inevitable resistance from hospitals.  

C+P (0.00 / 0)
If you're going to copy commentary from other sites, please put it in blockquotes (click the "quote" button below the comment box and paste your material between the tags), so we know what we're responding to. Thanks.

[ Parent ]
sorry, (0.00 / 0)
 I didn't know to do that. Take them down if you want. I just the information out there so everyone can be informed. Have a nice evening.  

[ Parent ]
That's fine (0.00 / 0)
You can post what you like, just don't copy stuff without attribution.

[ Parent ]
wall street journal (0.00 / 0)
The president is barnstorming the nation, urging swift approval of legislation that is taking shape in Congress. This legislation -- the Affordable Health Choices Act that's being drafted by Sen. Edward Kennedy's staff and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee -- will push Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls. It specifically exempts members of Congress (along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116).

Members of Congress "enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country," according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. They "can choose from among consumer-driven and high deductible plans that offer catastrophic risk protection with higher deductibles, health saving/reimbursable accounts and lower premiums, or fee-for-service (FFS) plans, and their preferred provider organizations (PPO), or health maintenance organizations (HMO)." These choices would be nice for all of us, but they're not in the offing. Instead, if you don't enroll in a "qualified" health plan and submit proof of enrollment to the federal government, you'll be tracked down and fined (sections 3101 and 6055).

For a health plan to count as "qualified," it has to meet all the restrictions listed in the legislation and whatever criteria the Secretary of Health and Human Services imposes after the bill becomes law. You may think you're in a "qualified" plan, but the language suggests that only plans with managed-care controls such as the "medical home" will meet the definition (sections 3101 and 2707).

George Will during the panel discussion on ABC's "This Week," (0.00 / 0)
GEORGE WILL, ABC NEWS ANALYST: [T] this is now a single issue argument about whether or not we're on a slippery slope to a single-payer system. That is, it's about the so-called public option. And the president has said, "If you are starting from scratch" -- he said this very recently -- he would go to a single payer. That is, government as the single provider of health care.

Now, there are four arguments for the public option. One is, in the president's words, it will keep them honest. To try to preserve the government as a lagoon of honesty, you can argue, refuted by anybody who reads any budget of any administration.

Bullseye, for all one need do is look at the totally absurd economic assumptions in Obama's 2010 budget, and one would have to agree with Will. But I digress:

WILL: Second, he says, it will play by the same rules as the private insurers, and therefore, won't drive them out of business. If you play by the same rules, as you said to the secretary, what's the point?

Exactly. If the rules of the private insurers are sound enough to be adopted by government, why change things?

WILL: Third, it's necessary to give what Secretary Sebelius said a choice to the consumers. There are 1,300 entities offering healthcare plans in this country. Another one isn't going to change that.

Precisely. Taking this a step further, many of these 1,300 entities will likely cease to exist if government gets involved. As such, Americans will have far fewer options.

WILL: Finally, there's the argument that the American people are not smart enough to handle something as complicated as healthcare and have a competitive market. They've done rather well in computers.

Yes, but a common liberal meme is that people aren't smart enough to figure things out, and that's why government needs do it for them.

Fortunately, Will wasn't done, for he later dispelled another media myth about this issue:

WILL: Donna [Brazile], you talk about the 46, 47 million uninsured. Fourteen million of them are already eligible for other government programs and haven't signed up. Ten million are in households with household incomes of $75,000 a year and could afford it if they wanted to.

Furthermore, an enormous number in that 47 million are not American citizens. Sixty percent of the uninsured in San Francisco are not citizens.

Bingo. So, this 47 million uninsured number the media always throw around is totally disingenuous and largely irrelevant.

That said, it was awfully nice hearing somebody say it this morning.

"Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis, (0.00 / 0)
"Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis," in which the gracious former Senate leader lays out the policy he recommends and the tactics for how to pass it.

He proposes setting up a board to establish standards for health care delivery in the United States that would be modeled on how the Federal Reserve Board and Securities and Exchange Commission oversee banks and corporations. Technically, it only would oversee the public health systems (Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Health Administration, etc.), which provide about 32 percent of health care nationwide.

On Page 179, he writes, "The Federal Health Board wouldn't be a regulatory agency, but its recommendations would have teeth because all federal health programs would have to abide by them." But here is the kicker: Although his board technically would have no say on the 68 percent of health care that is provided through the private sector, at the bottom of Page 179, Daschle modestly adds: "Congress could opt to go further with the Board's recommendations. It could, for example, link the tax exclusion for health insurance to insurance that complies with the Board's recommendation."

Those last 19 words would spell the end of independent private-sector health care in America. Obviously, no health insurance would be sold if it were denied the tax deduction. Thus, every policy, every standard decided by this board would be the law of the land for every drug company, every hospital, every doctor and every health insurance company.

Indeed, 20 pages later, in the section in which he identifies "losers" under his plan, Daschle is admirably candid. Among the explicit "losers," he includes: "Doctors and patients might resent any encroachment on their ability to choose certain treatments, even if they are expensive or ineffectual compared to alternatives. Some insurers might object to new rules that restrict their coverage decisions. And the health-care industry would have to reconsider its business plan (emphasis added)." That is to say, they can stay in business and deliver their services, but only as the government bureaucrats say they may. They no longer would be genuinely independent.

We have already seen Obama tell private corporations what they can or cannot do and with threats.

One of the things that Daschle says will have to change is the "technology arms race" he claims hospitals are engaging in "to attract aging baby boomers with the latest diagnostic imaging machines." Imagine that, offering customers the latest technology, which, as Daschle admits on Page 125, "help(s) doctors estimate the spread of cancer or the extent of cardiac disease without surgery."

Recent cost cutting measures announced by drug companies, hospitals, insurance companies, medical device manufacturers, labor unions.

1.  Cut diagnostic imaging tests like MRIs and CAT scans.

2.  Reduce the use of antibiotics.

3.  Perform fewer Caesarean sections.

4.  Cut care for management of chronic back pain

Of course, for Daschle, the problem with such high-tech diagnostics is that it leads to treatment. On pages 123-124, he cites a study approvingly for the proposition that there are too many angiograms being performed. By too many, he specifically cites a study of 828 angioplasties in which only a third were likely to benefit the patients. Another half might or might not, and 14 percent were not likely. Now I might conclude that if 85 percent of the patients receiving the treatment might benefit (the one-third who definitely would and the 50 percent who might) and if I were one of them, I might want the procedure. But for Daschle, that would be a waste of money, and "the imaging test that shows narrowing of the arteries was to blame (for the excessive treatment)."

What followed is my favorite line in the book: "When the test revealed a narrowing of the artery, however slight, cardiologists couldn't resist doing something about it." Imagine a doctor trying to cure his patient.

Cardiologists may have thought they were carrying out their responsibilities. But under the Daschle(/Obama?) plan, political hacks appointed to the Health board will decide whether your cardiologist is allowed to image your arteries and, if they find blockage, try to treat it successfully.

But that is not all he doesn't like about private-sector health care. On Page 174, he points out the dangers of letting drug companies advertise their products to the public: The public may want the drugs even if some Washington bureaucrat likes another drug instead.

He believes that Americans are not entitled to just any care that might do some good. Yep, Page 122: "Many patients with insurance want any care that might do some good, and plenty of doctors will oblige them."

Recognizing that some of these ideas may not be vastly popular, he recommends two basic legislative strategies. First, seek to pass the legislation early in the first year of the president's first term, when he is most popular and is least likely to be resisted. That is a valid analysis.

Quotes: We've got to get it done this year," Mr. Obama said, standing on the South Lawn of the White House, surrounded by House Democratic leaders. "We've got to get it done this year, both in the House and Senate. We don't have any excuses."

"This next 6-8 weeks is going to be critical," he told his audience, asking them to help pressure Congress to get it done. If the country puts off health care reform, he said, "it's never going to happen."

The other strategy, which is very smart, is to leave the nasty details out of the bill. He says that was one of Clinton's mistakes in 1993. Clinton put too many details in the bill, thus alerting those who disagreed to mount an opposition (pages 108-109). Daschle recommends passing a vague bill and then "a Federal Health Board should be charged with establishing the system's framework and filling in most of the details. This independent board would be insulated from political pressure."

By "political pressure," he means the democratic process of electing fellow citizens to Congress who then pass legislation about which the public is informed before final passage -- and about which they may wish to petition their government for redress of grievances. Apparently, we can end petty bickering and partisanship by not letting anyone know what the new laws will contain.

Obama Stimulus Plan

The bill's health rules will affect "every individual in the United States" (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis." According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners."

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not "meaningful users" of the new system will face penalties.  "Meaningful user" isn't defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose "more stringent measures of meaningful use over time" (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the "tough" decisions elected politicians won't make.

He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept "hopeless diagnoses" and "forgo experimental treatments," and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says health-care reform "will not be pain free." Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

I am (0.00 / 0)
sorry I got so angry. I don't like to be played and lied to as we are. If the healthcare is go wonderful then congress gets it too. Anything else and we are a totalitarian regime. The people serving the government.  

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