Category: health care

(Health Care) The Party of No Ideas

So I was reading the Proj article titled “GOP calls for loud crowd at health-care forum”

They lead in with this gem from Republican Party chair Giovanni Cicione:

State Republican Party Chairman Giovanni Cicione said he hopes angry protesters will flood Wednesday night’s town hall meeting hosted by Rep. James R. Langevin.

He further goes on to say:

“This is the clearest example in decades of the government exceeding its authority. I think this should make people really angry,” Cicione said, noting that he would be out of town, but that conservative groups — such as the Rhode Island Young Republicans and Rhode Island Tea Party movement — are mobilizing their forces to attend.

“This is America, we have First Amendment rights to protest,” Cicione continued. “The citizenry has the right to go out and shout at the top of their lungs.”

Every Republican thus far has railed against any form of nationalized health care. But the common theme is that they haven’t offered anything substantive to address the problem, namely that we’re being slowly bankrupted by the current health care system.

But remember too, even the national Republicans play the same game. When Boehner got up and said the Republicans had a budget proposal and then produced a document so sketchy on details, you knew they were truly turning into an opposition party which has now morphed to the “Party of No”.

Shame on the likes of Cicione, Boehner, and the entire cadre of Republican scum for misleading the people. You’ll never see a Republican tell you that Medicare runs on a 3% overhead whereas private insurance runs at 20% and more. The reason for that high overhead is so they can pay out dividends to investors as well as executive salaries.

You will however hear from Fox News, that Republican party communication instrument, that x number of illegal aliens would be covered by a public plan, or that people in the age group 18 to 25 would just use that instead of getting insurance, etc.

You’ll also hear Fox pundits calling it the Obama Death Care plan, or Obamacare, etc. It’s to the point of ridicule or at least to the point where the pundits and politicians who oppose a true public option should be ridiculed.

There is hope though. I’m noting that corporations in general are getting very nervous about citizen activism. Case in point is the most recent pullout of Tim Horton’s from a NOM event here in RI. I also heard another about Miller donating $30,000 to a group who threatened a boycott of their product.

Here is my message to those who would compare Obama to Hitler or calling Obama a fascist and the like. Stop for a moment and verify the facts if you will. And then I ask, where have you been for the last eight years when George W. Bush, your treasured Republican, was President. We had widespread abuses of our civil rights, we watched as corporations like communications companies, banks, et al became more rapacious and while the Fed kept lowering interest rates, or allowing the credit default swap insurance industry to run unregulated.

Yes people, that was fascism, well more like despotism. Is it any wonder the reaction was to elect a Democrat as President and to hand the Democratic party a supermajority in the senate and a simple majority in the house?

The Republican party is destined for the dustbin of history. Here in RI we can see the rumblings already since the Moderate Party of RI has now been certified for the ballot as an official party. Hell, I’d like to see the Greens and the Socialists get party certification too. The more the merrier, that’s my motto. Because then you’d have to form coalitions in government. More variables means less money to each individual legislator.

Of course I hope the Moderate Party has a slate of candidates. That was where the once Cool Moose Party failed, it only had the one gubernatorial candidate.

And Mr. Cicione, you’d be wise to hear these words.

Now for the Democrats. Stop catering to Republican demands. They lost, and there’s a damn good reason they lost as outlined above. Put your foot down and stand for something instead of being a god damned weasel.

And the real reason why we don’t have universal health care in the U.S.

The insurance industry has really sold this one. Watch Wendell Potter, a former insurance company executive (Most recently with CIGNA) explain what the industry did to try and discredit Michael Moore’s film Sicko (Full film at this link)

The fact that they go after the politicians not only withholding campaign funds, but to actively run ads targeting those politicians smacks of the ultimate in tyrannical tactics. Corporations should not be allowed to run ads for or against politicians period. They shouldn’t be allowed to form PACs, and most of all the 1st amendment shouldn’t apply to corporate lobbyists.

If you have iTunes on your machine you can get the full broadcast in Bill Moyers video podcasts . In fact once you subcribe, download the episode with Mr. Potter. He lays it all out in the open, shows how the insurance companies destroy their opponents, how they confuse the public, and how they optimize profit. Potter even says a public option (E.g. Medicare/Medicaid) runs administrative costs of about 3% while the insurance industry currently runs around the 20% mark and most of that satisfies investor demand for profit.

Then get good and angry and find your federal representatives and senators, write them, email them, and call them and demand universal health care in the United States.

I don’t care if it means a 10% increase in the tax rate so long as every single one of us is covered by this plan.

And just for your amusement I give you Roy Zimmerman with “Dear Number 1036924053887”

Single Payer Health Care Now!

Bill Moyer has been doing several interviews with medical professionals about health care in the United States. More specifically he tries to play devils advocate which really draws out the professionals.

Part of the argument is based on the equation of socialism with communism.
Merriam Webster gets it very wrong, in essence saying government controls all means of production and distribution. There are some things governments are very good at when properly regulated and with ample oversight. Banking is one industry and health care another.


1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

The U.S. already has a form of socialism if you really want to get down to brass tacks. Fire Departments, Police Departments, Public Schools, Public Works Medicare, Medicaid and the list goes on and on. I have no objection to our form of socialism. The only issue I have is that there seems to be a lack of oversight.

We the people are the actual owners of all those services which is why I object to Merriam-Websters definition of socialism.

Anyhow the video linked above is interesting because it exposes the prime reason that we don’t have single payer health care. Our congressional representative are afraid to push anything that would be disruptive to their prime campaign financiers.

There is nothing wrong with disruptive change. Ask the telecom and cable companies. They know.

Single Payer health care on Bill Moyers Journal

Check out Bill Moyers Journal on health care in the U.S.

Watch the video following the one linked with Public Citizen’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe and Physicians for a National Health Program’s Dr. David Himmelstein. They make a good point, while the insurance industry would have you believe that a nationalized single payer system would limit choice, the reverse is actually true. In Canada for example there are more single doctor practices than anywhere in the U.S.

There are other lies and fibs told by the insurance industry too. For example, that care would be rationed, or that there would be long waiting lines. Been to a hospital ER lately, or tried to book an appointment with a new doctor? That’s right, you wait and wait, and wait some more.

It isn’t just the greed of the insurance industry either, but a whole new class of company that sprung up to handle the complicated billing for doctors and practitioners. I found out just how greedy and complicit the billing companies were when I helped out a bit in the case of the State of Rhode Island v. Dr. Judge. I recall a meeting with the billing company representatives about obtaining data about the doctors billing practices. The company swore up and down that they didn’t have the data, that they only kept a small window of data (3 months) on billing. You could smell the rat from a mile away.

They’re brought along their I.T. guy. One of the thing I learned years ago is that I can tell when someone is lying to me, I get a good read on people right away. And I could tell this guy was telling a lie but wasn’t comfortable with it.

Couple years later I’m in a new state agency and we’re hiring a system support guy. Whose resume comes in but the guy who was the I.T. director for the billing company. He had all the qualifications so we brought him in for an interview. At one point he and I got to talking about the Judge case. He of course was being told to lie by the management of the billing company. The billing company knew full well what the doctor was doing yet never said a word because they were making a profit!

One thing that is a constant in the video though. Any industry be it banking, health care, etc. cannot be allowed to self-regulate. That’s sort of akin to the fox guarding the chicken coop. There are some things governments are very good at, regulation being one of them.

The question remains though. What do we do with all the people that would lose their jobs if we dismantled the insurance and billing systems we have now? Not really my concern but that’s got to be a significant number of people.

But don’t get me wrong, I support single payer health care. It’ll be a hard and disruptive change but it is something we nee to do in order to avoid the ultimate end of total and complete economic bankruptcy. We’re barely surviving the bank debacle, we won’t survive the health care debacle.

Health Care Stories

This evening I attended a Spaghetti Dinner sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Met up with a couple of people on Sheldon’s staff that I had worked with when we were all at the RI Secretary of State’s office. Overall all about 130 people showed up for the event.

The event was MC’d by Providence Mayor David Ciciline:

Mayor Ciciline MCs Health Care Dinner
Mayor Ciciline MC's Health Care Dinner

And then Sheldon got up to say a few words before handing microphones out to the crowd:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

It was a bit of a political who’s who, what with city councilmen John Lombardi (Ward, 13) , Nick Narducci (Ward 4), Peter Mancini (Ward 14), Terry Hasset (Ward 12), and Michael Solomon (Ward 5) and Rep. Grace Diaz. Also in attendance was Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman. One commonality among the politicians that attended, they all represent areas with a large number of elderly and economically disadvantaged.

There were some compelling stories. I didn’t tell mine but I’ve gone without treatment for this inner ear condition because I don’t even have coverage at this point. And the nerve sectioning in the inner ear won’t be cheap I’m sure. Other people were talking about the $15,000 for this, $7,000 for that, etc. The time and money wasted because we don’t have a viable public health care solution yet.

Sheldon did talk about a public insurance program. And he alluded to something that I should have asked but didn’t. He says that the public system will cause the private system to shape up. I suspect the public system would drain off the more expensive cases from the private insurers. In order to balance the system strong regulation would need to be put in place. Perhaps a fair system for those with expensive chronic conditions would be to create a pool of insurers including the public and assign people to those insurers by random lottery. This way all plans would share in the care for chronic conditions.

Sheldon did touch on efficiencies in health care delivery which is encouraging. But the idea of a for-profit insurer or a for-profit health provider runs counter to my beliefs. I don’t mean doctors and nurses should be taking a lower rate of pay, but that hospitals and insurers need to change the focus form providing for the shareholders to providing for the insured.

More on Moore’s Sicko

Seems Michael Moore gave a special showing of Sicko to members of Congress. In the attached video he also laid out the basis for us to go to a national health insurance system. I support that idea. It would make my life easier. I could basically work anywhere I wanted without having to worry about cost of health care for myself and Keyron.

When I think about it, I’d be more likely to take my small business up a notch if that came to pass.

The bill is only twenty six pages in pdf format. It’s a little bit on the light side, but I can tell you now that I don’t see H676 ever seeing the light of day. I say that because there’s an entrenched system of insurers and billing companies out there that would simply have to be dissolved were such a bill to pass both houses and then be signed by the president.

Lots of jobs would be lost though most of those losing their jobs would be low skilled people. All the folks with more advanced degrees and such would be covered, and probably absorbed into the new system. But the nice thing is, even those low skilled people would have health coverage under a national system.

But the biggest dog is the insurance industry. When you think about insurance you see that it is a game. They won’t insure you if you’re any type of risk at all, which is why I find the linking of credit rating to insurance prices to be ridiculous. But health insurers are the worst since they can deny you for the most ludicrous reasons, like calling a newly found cancer a pre-existing condition. The health care insurance system should be dismantled since in its current form it does not serve the people, only the shareholders.

And if you’re one of those people who believes the myths about nationalized health systems I suggest you watch the movie. You might be surprised about how our own government screws us over in the United States.

The bill sponsored by Conyers, Kucinich, et al goes a way toward resolving that. So write or call your representatives and ask them to support h676. Granted, your voice or letter might not carry the same weight as the promise of campaign dollars, but if enough of us lift our voices in outrage maybe they’ll realize that they serve us, not corporations.