Tag Archives: healthcare debate

The Inevitability Of An American Single-Payer Health System

Supporters of President Obama's push to overhaul health care rallied September 7, 2009 on Boston Common.

Supporters of President Obama's push to overhaul health care rallied September 7, on Boston Common shouting slogans and holding aloft banners demanding "reform now."

Amidst the ideological back and forth that is the health care reform debate of 2009, recent studies reveal a growing reality that each of us can easily understand, no matter what our ideological point of view.

It will not be long until the private health insurance model will no longer work –for anybody.

It’s got nothing to do with public options or single payer advocates just as  it will have nothing to do with those prepared to defend America from socialism at all costs.

The simple fact is that single-payer, government controlled health care is inevitable because the trajectory of the private health insurance system reveals that it is doomed to fail – and sooner than we might realize.

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Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint Should Take Lessons from Ronald Reagan

Judging from conservative rhetoric, the debate over health-care reform is in truth a fight over the future of American democracy and capitalism. Stopping the health-care bill is being described as an essential step toward restoring America to its rightful owners and rightful course.

“Friends, this is a critical battle for the heart and soul of America, and for freedom itself,” Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina told a rally in Washington over the weekend. “Freedom fighters are outnumbered in Congress, but not in America. If you continue to stand up and speak out, we will save freedom in America.”

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, made a more personal contribution to the hysteria. Health care reform would not merely threaten the foundations of America, she warned, it would lead to government-mandated abandonment of our loved ones and family.

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’whether they are worthy of health care,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page. “Such a system is downright evil.”

While that’s some pretty impressive demagoguery, Palin, DeMint and others are mere pikers compared to the master of the genre. To appreciate true genius in explaining how government health care will destroy all that is good and Godly about this country, you can’t do better than the Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan.

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Sick and Wrong

How Washington is screwing up health care reform – and why it may take a revolt to fix it

President Obama vs. the GOP on Health Care Reform.

President Obama vs. the GOP on Health Care Reform.

Let’s start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It’s become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment — a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn’t be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

The system doesn’t work for anyone. It cheats patients and leaves them to die, denies insurance to 47 million Americans, forces hospitals to spend billions haggling over claims, and systematically bleeds and harasses doctors with the specter of catastrophic litigation. Even as a mechanism for delivering bonuses to insurance-company fat cats, it’s a miserable failure: Greedy insurance bosses who spent a generation denying preventive care to patients now see their profits sapped by millions of customers who enter the system only when they’re sick with incurably expensive illnesses.

The cost of all of this to society, in illness and death and lost productivity and a soaring federal deficit and plain old anxiety and anger, is incalculable — and that’s the good news. The bad news is our failed health care system won’t get fixed, because it exists entirely within the confines of yet another failed system: the political entity known as the United States of America.

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Sarah Palin’s New Death Panel

The GOP is slowing down healthcare reform to a snail's pace.

The GOP is slowing down healthcare reform to a snail's pace.

Sarah Palin popped up again today on the Wall Street Journal’s Op-Ed page to renew her accusation that President Obama was advocating “death panels.” Never mind that lawmakers have already abandoned the proposal that gave rise to the original “death panel” hysteria, namely, a provision allowing Medicare to pay doctors no more than once every five years to counsel patients about their options for “end of life” care. (Some top geriatricians think such counseling would actually give the elderly more control by encouraging them to declare their preferences while they’re still capable of doing so. But I digress.) This time, Palin attacked Obama’s proposal to beef up MedPAC — the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. The 17-member MedPAC makes recommendations to Congress about how much doctors and hospitals should be paid for the services they provide. To insulate these decisions from political pressure, Obama has proposed giving a new version of MedPAC the power to set reimbursement levels, with Congress retaining the power to veto those decisions before they take effect. To Palin, though, this amounted to giving “an unelected, largely unaccountable group of experts” the power to make life-and-death decisions about care.

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Will The Media Take the Sarah Palin Bait?

Sarah Palin at the Republican Governors Association conference on November 13, 2008.

Sarah Palin speaking at the Republican Governors Association conference.

Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate, has every right to submit an opinion piece on health care to the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, and they’ve got every right to print it. But Palin’s existence in this debate does not (a) lend her voice any credibility and, beyond that, even if you believe that her experience as a state governor does give her at least a modicum of credibility, it does not follow that, because her voice is credible, it ought to be influential. Newt Gingrich is influential by rights; he’s done the work, come up with original ideas, and been in the trenches. (Replacing Medicare with vouchers…not new or remotely plausible, even if GOPers do well in the next two elections. Quoting Ronald Reagan talking about that type of proposal…not new. Etc.) Continue reading

California’s Real ‘Death Panels’: Insurers Deny 21% of Claims

Nataline Sarkisyan died while awaiting a life-saving liver transplant recommended by doctors that her health insurance company CIGNA denied.

Nataline Sarkisyan died while awaiting a life-saving liver transplant recommended by doctors that her health insurance company CIGNA denied.

More than one of every five requests for medical claims for insured patients, even when recommended by a patient’s physician, are rejected by California’s largest private insurers, amounting to very real death panels in practice daily in the nation’s biggest state, according to data released today by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

CNA/NNOC researchers analyzed data reported by the insurers to the California Department of Managed Care. From 2002 through June 30, 2009, the six largest insurers operating in California rejected 31.2 million claims for care – 21 percent of all claims.

The data will be presented by Don DeMoro, director of CNA/NNOC’s research arm, the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, at CNA/NNOC’s biennial convention next Tuesday, Sept. 8 in San Francisco. The convention will also feature a panel presentation from nurse leaders in Canada, Great Britain, and Australia exploding the myths about their national healthcare systems.

“With all the dishonest claims made by some politicians about alleged ‘death panels’ in proposed national legislation, the reality for patients today is a daily, cold-hearted rejection of desperately needed medical care by the nation’s biggest and wealthiest insurance companies simply because they don’t want to pay for it,” said Deborah Burger, RN, CNA/NNOC co-president.

For the first half of 2009, as the national debate over healthcare reform was escalating, the rejection rates are even more striking.

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Sarah Palin, Meet Hippocrates

Palin on Obama's Death Panels

Palin on Obama's Death Panels

As if you hadn’t heard, a gaggle of American conservatives is stridently charging that pending health care reform legislation will institute a mechanism for euthanizing selected members of the handicapped and elderly populations–that it would, in Sarah Palin’s formulation, establish “death panels.” It’s true that H.R. 3200, the bill that will eventually come before the House of Representatives, is still a work in progress. It has already been amended by three separate House committees, while two Senate committees are working on drafts of their own. All of the provisions to be included in the final bill are not yet known, but one thing is certain: There is not a single statement in the voluminous number of pages under study that contains the slightest consideration, no matter its remoteness, of death panels, euthanasia, or any such fearsome concept.

In reality, the legislation simply calls for the reimbursement of physicians who counsel patients on end-of-life decision-making–counseling that is already required by a 1990 law and that is now covered by many insurance plans. But the specifics of the present bill are irrelevant to the loony conversation the right has sparked during the August recess. After all, even if there were some provision before Congress that could conceivably be interpreted as establishing a “death panel,” centuries, if not millennia, of established medical ethics (in addition to existing U.S. law) would prevent its actualization. In the midst of this crucial debate on the future of health care, somehow, the proponents of the euthanasia talking point seem to have forgotten everything we know about the practice of medicine in America.

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