Free Markets, Free People

Health Care

Apparently Community Organizing Is A Bad Thing Now

To hear the left talk about these protests that are springing up and townhalls held by various Representatives and Senators, you’d think that such protests are just unAmerican.

And, of course, the usual raft of “astro-turf” allegations are being thrown around.  I’ve watched a few of the videos though and these folks doing the protesting seem pretty darn dedicated to stopping the big health care grab.

In fact, what I see happening is the right using the same sorts of tactics and methods that the left seemed so comfortable with during the Bush administration. Web 2.0 communications that networks protesting groups and keeps them updated and mobilized. I guess there are those out there that can’t imagine that happening at a grass-roots level anymore, although that is the MO the left developed previously while denying the astro-turf allegations.

In fact, I’m somewhat surprised because the right is less likely to run in packs like the left is, so a tip of the hat to the righties – good community organizing guys.

As for the left, suck it up and have the good grace to suffer in silence, recognizing that what you’re seeing now is what you defended as the highest form of patriotism during the previous 8 years.


Send Your Fishy Links To The White House

The Obama administration’s health care czar, Macon Phillips, has put up a blog post on the White House blog entitled “Facts Are Stubborn Things”. He warns readers that there are a lot of “scary chain emails” and videos that “percolate” through the ether, but he has the “truth” which may be a little “inconvenient” to those opposing “health insurance reform” (the reconstructed “reform” after it became apparent “health care reform” was going nowhere).

In this video, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, addresses one example that makes it look like the President intends to “eliminate” private coverage, when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

The video essentially tries to tar the opposition with a broad brush, implying anyone who opposes “health insurance reform” is dealing in bad faith and broadcasting disinformation. Watch it for a lesson in pure propaganda.

After the video Phillips says:

For the record, the President has consistently said that if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them. He has even proposed eight consumer protections relating specifically to the health insurance industry.

Here’s a dirty little truth which may be inconvenient to the “truth” Dr. Phillips is peddling – it doesn’t matter what the President has “consistently said”, he’s not writing the legislation. And the legislation in question doesn’t support what the President has “consistently said”. So the claim by Phillips is a red herring. Unless the President continues to say that and promises to veto any legislation that doesn’t support what he’s said, what he is saying is meaningless.

Phillips ends his post with:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

I wonder if I ought to send him a link to his own fishy blog post?


The Unread Health Care Bill

HR3200, the House’s version of health care reform, can be found here, at the GPO’s web site, in PDF format.  All 1017 pages of it. You’ll need some time to read it.  It’s dense.  Too dense, in fact, for Congressmen to read, apparently.

Or, you can read this PDF file instead, which is a summary of the high points provided by Liberty Counsel, a conservative, pro-life legal firm, which apparently did read it. They reference the GPO’s file directly, so you can quickly track down the references they cite.  A randon selection from the critique:

• Sec. 205, Pg. 102, Lines 12-18 – Medicaid-eligible individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No freedom to choose.

• Sec. 223, Pg. 124, Lines 24-25 – No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No “administrative of judicial review” against a government monopoly.

• Sec. 225, Pg. 127, Lines 1-16 – Doctors – the government will tell YOU what you can make. “The Secretary shall provide for the annual participation of physicians under the public health insurance option, for which payment may be made for services furnished during the year.”

• Sec. 312, Pg. 145, Lines 15-17 – Employers MUST auto-enroll employees into public option plan.

• Sec. 313, Pg. 149, Lines 16-23 – ANY employer with payroll $400,000 and above who does not provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.

• Sec. 313, Pg. 150, Lines 9-13 – Businesses with payroll between $251,000 and $400,000 who do not provide public option pay 2-6% tax on all payroll.

• Sec. 401.59B, Pg. 167, Lines 18-23 – ANY individual who does not have acceptable care, according to government, will be taxed 2.5% of income.

• Sec. 59B, Pg. 170, Line 1 – Any NONRESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay for their health care.)

• Sec. 431, Pg. 195, Lines 1-3 – Officers and employees of HC Administration (government) will have access to ALL Americans’ financial and personal records.

• Sec. 441, Pg. 203, Lines 14-15 – “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax.” Yes, it says that.

It’s actually quite an interesting read, even minus Liberty Counsels alarmist tone and worst-case-scenario suppositions.

The scary thing is…maybe they aren’t being alarmist.

Also, note the tax rates above very carefully for employers who don’t provide health insurance.  If you don’t think those rates are low enough to positively incentivize employers to dump private health coverage and turn it over to the government, then you just aren’t a very astute observer.  8% of payroll is nothing, compared to getting rid of the administrative headaches.

It’s not called “single-payer health care”.  But, objectively, that’s precisely what it is.  Private health insurance won’t be outlawed, of course.  It’ll still be perfectly legal to provide it, or acquire it.  It will just be starved to death under this plan, because employers will stop buying it.  It’ll be easier and cheaper just to push the employees over to the “public option”.

I wonder if our NHS ID cards will have our pictures on them.

Health Care: It Is Getting Hostile Out There

An interesting video here – you could entitle it “What The Hell Is The Rush?!”

It is Arlen Specter at a healthcare townhall meeting being given whatfor when he says that they have to rush on the health care bill. Also speaking is Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. It would be hard to characterize the crowd as “warm and welcoming”.

The one thing I think politicans will hear almost universally is the public demands they read and understand the bill they’re voting on – not their staffers. And until they do and can discuss it rationally and actually bring it to the floor and debate it – giving debate all the time it needs – they don’t want them voting on it.

Now, that’s not to say that some of those making this demand don’t want to see health care reform passed as a result. But I think even they understand that there is no crisis and their is no rush to pass such legislation quickly. That’s a self-imposed political desire – passing it quickly – because Democrats understand that not doing so risks getting nothing passed at all.

We’ll see if politicians heed this message or, when they head back into the atmosphere prevalent inside the beltway, again fall into line with party leadership and try to rush this turkey through.

If the video is any indication, doing so could end up being a very big electoral mistake.


Six months and counting: Team Obama looks pretty pitiful at this point

I have not posted much lately. Busy. Very busy. I don’t see how McQ does it. He’s a machine.

But I have been paying attention, and I must say Obama is as amusing during his first six months as I had hoped, and maybe more. Here’s a brief summary of where he’s at as far as I’m concerned, categorized into various types of success and failures on the political front.

Continue reading

Dodd, Cancer and Health Care “Reform” – Be Careful What You Wish For

First let me wish Sen. Chris Dodd a full recovery from the prostate surgery he will undergo soon to remove the cancer he’s been found to have.

But with all things personal, politicians try to turn them into “teachable moments” that support what they’re trying to do. And Dodd is no exception.

“I wanted to let you know that I’ve been diagnosed with an early stage of prostate cancer,” Dodd wrote. “Luckily, a routine test allowed my doctor to catch it at a very early stage, and my prognosis is excellent – we expect a full and speedy recovery. I want to assure you that I am feeling fine.”

“After the Senate adjourns at the end of next week, I’ll have surgery to remove the cancer,” Dodd wrote. “After a week or two of recuperation, I expect to be right back to work. After all, as a member of Congress, I have great health insurance. I was able to get screened, seek the opinions of highly skilled doctors, consider all the available options, and choose the treatment that was right for me.”

He added, in a reference to his current work to pass healthcare legislation, “I know you’ll agree that every American deserves the same ability. We have healthcare legislation to pass – and an election to win. And I can’t thank you enough for your support.”

The implication, of course, is that without universal health care or universal health insurance, detection and survival rates must be lower than they could be.

But a quick check of systems with universal care and insurance doesn’t at all back up the implication:

Survival was significantly higher in the United States for all solid tumors, except testicular, stomach, and soft-tissue cancer, the authors report. The greatest differences were seen in the major cancer sites: colon and rectum (56.2% in Europe vs 65.5% in the United States), breast (79.0% vs 90.1%), and prostate cancer (77.5% vs 99.3%), and this “probably represents differences in the timeliness of diagnosis,” they comment. That in turn stems from the more intensive screening for cancer carried out in the United States, where a reported 70% of women aged 50 to 70 years have undergone a mammogram in the past 2 years, one-third of people have had sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy in the past 5 years, and more than 80% of men aged 65 years or more have had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. In fact, it is this PSA testing that probably accounts for the very high survival from prostate cancer seen in the United States, the authors comment.

99.3% survival rate on prostate cancer in the US vs. 77.5% among the “universals”. How can that be, given Dodd’s indication that he’s just among the lucky ones? How in the world can the US, with such a badly broken system manage to save all but 0.7% of the prostate cancer patients, while the exemplar of universal care – Europe – loses 22.5% of theirs?

The PSA? It is a blood test. It is a test routinely run in the US when people have bloodwork done. And look at the testing for breast and colon cancer – isn’t that “preventive medicine”? So why aren’t the Europeans running all of these tests?

Good question. My guess would be cost. Here’s the result:

The age-adjusted 5-year survival rates for all cancers combined [Europe] was 47.3% for men and 55.8% for women, which is significantly lower than the estimates of 66.3% for men and 62.9% for women from the US Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program ( P < .001).

The point? Don’t buy into this “the system is broken” rhetoric in which politicians claim to have a better way of providing health care. My guess is a significant portion of Europeans diagnosed with various cancers would much rather be treated here than there.


[HT: Carly B.]

Dialing It Down On Health Care

Charles Krauthammer nails it today in an editorial in the Washington Post (and not just because he and I agree that something called “health care reform” is going to pass):

Yes, Obama’s aura has diminished, in part because of overweening overexposure. But by year’s end he will emerge with something he can call health-care reform. The Democrats in Congress will pass it because they must. Otherwise, they’ll have slain their own savior in his first year in office.

That’s party politics (which we’ve come to learn from both parties, usually means putting the party first and the country second). They are not going to be responsible for killing the presidency of a Democrat. But they’re also not going to pass anything like what they started out to pass.

So what will it be?

But that bill will look nothing like the massive reform Obama originally intended. The beginning of the retreat was signaled by Obama’s curious reference — made five times — to “health-insurance reform” during his July 22 news conference.

Thus the beginning of the campaign to demonize the insurance companies as “the villains”. And it is going to be a long and loud campaign until the “something” is passed.


Reforming the health-care system is dead. Cause of death? Blunt trauma administered not by Republicans, not even by Blue Dog Democrats, but by the green eyeshades at the Congressional Budget Office.

Krauthammer have a slight disagreement on this. Not that the CBO is the primary entity that put a lance through the heart of “health-care system” reform – and that is what Obama referenced repeatedly and, when you talk about type of care and changing the behavior of doctors, is obviously more than “insurance reform”.

Our disagreement stems from my belief that health-care system reformation isn’t at all dead, it’s just delayed. One things the Democrats are adept at is incrementalism. They’ve worked diligently for decades to expand relatively modest programs into huge, wasteful bureaucratic monstrosities that hand out money – at least that which finally works its way through the bureaucracy – like a political party handing out “walking around money”.

This, unfortunately will be no different. And even more unfortunately something on which the Democrats can begin their incremental construction will be law by this fall.


Demonization Time – Dems Target Insurance Companies

Why?  To take the heat off of them and to counter the Republican message about “government run health care”.

The message in the memo, though, won’t fit on a bumper sticker:

“Remove the insurance companies from between you and your doctor— capping what they can force you to pay in out of pocket expenses, co-pays and deductibles, and giving you the peace of mind you will be covered for the care you need, if get sick, or if you change or lose your job.”

Or, “replace the insurance companies with the government which is sure to do a much better job”.

Ye gods.

And the brains behind this message?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) brought out the new message in an exchange with reporters in the Capitol, when she said, “They are the villains in this.”

Ah demonization – one of Pelosi’s favorite tactics. Apparently she didn’t learn much when she did it to the CIA.


The Shape Of Things To Come

A short little blurb in the WSJ:

The medical costs of treating obesity-related diseases may have soared as high as $147 billion in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday, as its new director set a fresh tone in favor of more aggressively attacking obesity.

Fresh my rear end. The only thing “fresh” about it is another bureaucrat discovering a “fresh” new area in which to intrude.  A little reading between the lines is required.

Note the name of the agency. Is it a stretch, given what we’ve seen lately, to imagine this agency recommending that obesity be classified as a “disease”?

Why else would the director of the CDC even address the issue?

Of course once it has been declared a disease, all sorts of “prevention” can be legislated – for your own good, of course. And to “cut medical costs”.

The cost of treating obesity doubled over a decade, signaling the rising prevalence of excess weight and the toll it is taking on the health-care system. The medical costs of obesity were estimated to be $74 billion in 1998, according to a study by federal government researchers and RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Hmmm can taxes on food – sugary drinks, high calorie foods, etc – be far behind? Right now that may be a little more difficult and problematic because the government doesn’t have control of health care in this country. But, with that in the offiing, I think the new director of the CDC is just anticipating this “fresh” direction once said legislation is expelled from the bowels of Congress.

Just keeping you up to date.