Health care debate calls for sober consideration

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's been a long time since we've had a leader with the charisma and eloquence of President Obama, but there's a vast gulf between delivering a good speech and delivering on the promises he made Wednesday night.

Consumers have little to argue with in most of the president's points, such as preventing insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, canceling or diluting coverage when people get very sick or ending lifetime caps on coverage.

And partisan Republicans should find a little comfort in Obama's decision to allow Bush-era "demonstration projects" in different states aimed at limiting medical malpractice lawsuits.

But the president will have a hard time proving that he can eliminate enough "waste and fraud" in the current medical system to pay for the universal health care plan, which he estimates, probably optimistically, will cost $900 billion over 10 years. We've heard promises of cutting "waste and fraud" before, with little to show for it.

Cuts in Medicare payments are of special concerns to small rural hospitals which already struggle under current reimbursement rates.

The "public option" will also be a hard sell, but the new "trigger" proposal could help put the plan through. Sen. Ben Nelson, one of the key swing votes, has said he may support a trigger concept, which would establish a government plan only after private insurers failed to meet coverage benchmarks in designated markets.

Such a system worked with the Medicare Part D drug coverage, which saw drug companies step up to the plate enough that the "trigger" was tripped in only one isolated instance, according to Nelson's office.

Critics say the trigger concept only moves the controversial public option plan far enough into the future to give current members of Congress plausible deniability.

Living in farm country, with our long history of cooperative ventures, the idea of a nonprofit co-op offering a competitive insurance plan is more attractive to us than an outright government-run insurance plan.

What shouldn't be lost in the heated debate is the fact that most of us have good health insurance, which brings us the best medical care in the world.

Yes, the system is not perfect, health care prices have been climbing too swiftly, and we can understand why the administration wants to act quickly.

But we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. Eloquence and charisma are no substitute for sober consideration.

Let's take the time to fix what's wrong and leave the rest alone.

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  • Dear Editor,

    FIRST -- President Obama did not make promises Wednesday night.

    After months of corrosive vitriol hurled at every mention of Health Care Reform, the President detailed what he is asking of Congress.



    For an country daily editor to twist his presentation into PROMISES, is blatantly irresponsible.

    Red Willow County and the remote high plains Hard Red Winter Wheat regions have not experienced the big dollar, intense propaganda and disinformation campaign conducted by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries since March.

    You've had a hint with the endless TV spots and the heavy presence on TV and with the uber-conservative talkers [Limbaugh, Beck, Savavge and Coulter, among others].

    People who are on the air because multi-national business and financial interests want thought control power in this country.

    Long after driving 5,000 miles monthly, reporting news and producing photos from the routine 17 counties, and sometimes from 21 counties around McCook, I contracted to reorganize a six-publication California group, only to encounter an ownership group composed primarily of Birch Society stalwarts.

    They did not want to serve the eight towns and communities within their circulation, were not greatly concerned with full news service, honest/accurate reporting or even business profits.

    They wanted to control all thought, in every area, within those communities.

    Please -- report FACTS.

    Don't twist the facts to serve any political goal.

    Report what the Administration's proposals are.

    Report where legislative efforts have progressed in both houses of Congress.

    Below -- the precise proposal of the President of the United States for MARKET DRIVEN, PEOPLE ORIENTED HEALTH CARE REFORM.


    If You Have Health Insurance,

    the President's Plan:

    Ends discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

    Limits premium discrimination based on gender and age.

    Prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick and need it most.

    Caps out-of-pocket expenses so people don't go broke when they get sick.

    Eliminates extra charges for preventive care like mammograms, flu shots and diabetes tests to improve health and save money.

    Protects Medicare for seniors.

    Eliminates the "donut-hole" gap in coverage for prescription drugs.


    If You Don't Have Insurance,

    the President's Plan:

    Creates a new insurance MARKETPLACE -- the Exchange -- that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices.

    Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance.

    Provides small businesses tax credits and affordable options for covering employees.

    Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can't find affordable coverage with a real choice.

    Immediately offers new, low-cost coverage through a national "high risk" pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created.


    For All Americans,

    the President's Plan:

    Won't add a dime to the deficit and is paid for upfront.

    Requires additional cuts if savings are not realized.

    Implements a number of delivery system reforms that begin to rein in health care costs and align incentives for hospitals, physicians, and others to improve quality.

    Creates an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system.

    Orders immediate medical malpractice reform projects that could help doctors focus on putting their patients first, not on practicing defensive medicine.

    Requires large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance so everyone shares in the responsibility of reform.

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 5:43 PM
  • Do we really need to have these arguements outside of Sam's and Mike's blogs? Really?

    -- Posted by npwinder on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 1:24 AM
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