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The Rolling Stones, Matt Taibbi on Healthcare;

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September 06, 2009 – Comments (14)

Link to the scathing article  rated NWW (Naughty Word Warning).

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....

...In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $350 billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system — more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so....

....It's a joke, the whole thing, a parody of Solomonic governance. By the time all the various bills are combined, health care will be a baby not split in half but in fourths and eighths and fractions of eighths. It's what happens when a government accustomed to dealing on the level of perception tries to take on a profound emergency that exists in reality. No matter how hard Congress may try, though, it simply is not possible to paper over a crisis this vast.

Then again, some of the blame has to go to all of us. It's more than a little conspicuous that the same electorate that poured its heart out last year for the Hallmark-card story line of the Obama campaign has not been seen much in this health care debate. The handful of legislators — the Weiners, Kuciniches, Wydens and Sanderses — who are fighting for something real should be doing so with armies at their back. Instead, all the noise is being made on the other side. Not so stupid after all — they, at least, understand that politics is a fight that does not end with the wearing of a T-shirt in November

Congressional switchboard:  202 224 3121

14 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On September 06, 2009 at 2:23 PM, kaskoosek (69.02) wrote:

Kucinich is one of the very few congressmen who has any shred of morality in this corrupt sesspool that is congress.

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#2) On September 06, 2009 at 8:22 PM, RonChapmanJr (81.15) wrote:

This article tripped coming out of the gate - "denies insurance to 47 million Americans" - as that is not an accurate number.  As soon as someone throws out that incorrect number, it is already clear they have not done the necessary research to actually understand the healthcare system in this country.

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#3) On September 06, 2009 at 11:00 PM, devoish (98.44) wrote:

RonChapmanjr,

The number changes daily, is higher than the 47mil from 2007 with the increased unemployment, and counts the number of people who were without insurance for some time during the year. It is also much, much higher if you include people who paid for insurance and then did not have it when they were rescinded, or denied treatment because they failed to make sure their sickness was included in the coverage they bought. Medicaid is not insurance.

Your number is harder to assess.

The article is pretty damning, and accurate in its event timeline.

 

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#4) On September 07, 2009 at 1:55 AM, tonylogan1 (28.14) wrote:

Break down the "47,000,000" who are "denied coverage"

The group is comprised of at least 10,000,000 illegal immigrants (who get medical coverage anyway (by the way)

The group includes at least 10,000,000 people that earn over $75,000 a year and could buy insurance, but CHOOSE not to. They instead spend their money on whatever they want, and if they get sick... they still get medical care as well because they have ery few assets, so bankrputcy is no big whoop.

The group includes at least 10,000,000 people who are eligble for some existing government provided health plan based on their age or income, but for whatever reason have not signed up for coverage.

The healthcare system, like all systems, could be and should be improved. But Ronchapman is right. When someone starts the argument saying "47 million are DENIED coverage" they DO NOT UNDERSTAND the issue, OR they are using propaganda to inflate their belief.

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#5) On September 07, 2009 at 4:12 AM, jester112358 (28.81) wrote:

Tonylogan1's numbers are very correct.  The 47 million number is a canard repeated so often that it is often taken for the truth.  It is a deliberate falsehood on the part of US healthcare critics.   We have the best system in the world for difficult-to-treat disease (cancer, heart disease) but the best health care system doesn't ensure the best health.  This is why hundreds of thousands of Canadians and Europeans travel to the US for healthcare treatment, not the other way around!

 Similar misleading statistics on infant mortality are often cited by US heathcare critics who fail to report that European (and Canadian) single-payer systems don't include premature births in their mortality statistics.  The US does!  When premies are excluded we suddenly aren't 37th in the world anymore but near the lowest infant mortality (now as measured by European standards and reporting methods)

When corrected for obesity as measured by body mass index (BDI) the US system on overall mortality also moves up to the top as Europeans simply take better take of themselves than Americans and thus live longer.  (Obesity is strongly correlated to the three highest mortality and largest cost chronic illnesses, diabetes, heart failure, and cancer). 

The only way to get better health is to restore the direct patient-doctor relationships, individual responsibility (weight reduction and exercise regularly or pay higher fees) and eliminate most insurance, both private and government, which only conceals costs and removes price discovery and competition.  Direct payments from patient to doctor with full costs of procedures known beforehand, coupled with truly free competition for places in medical training programs would greatly constrain medical costs with no costs in overall health.   And of course, tort reform to reduce malpractice costs and defensive medical costs. 

 

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#6) On September 07, 2009 at 5:10 AM, devoish (98.44) wrote:

tonylogan1,

Thanks for replying.

The number of insured are those people who are without insurance at any time during the last year. The more accurate dedicated health insurance survey from 2005 put that figure at 66 million. The more recent 2007 census survey of household income puts the figure at 45.7 million, but is considered less accurate as many people respond based upon their insurance coverage at the time of the survey, not the last year.

The number of uninsured in America is likely higher, not lower.

The first group you list of at least 10 million uninsured (actually 9.5mil according to the census) are immigrants. NOT illegal immigrants. Any assumptions about the percentage that are illegal are purely estimates, the best available is 5.6 mil. They ARE as Matt Taibbi accurately says, in America, real people, and uninsured. There are also a lot of perfectly legal, perfectly low paid immigrants who do not have insurance (and "rub some dirt in it" is not really medical coverage, by the way).

This group is accurately described as DENIED coverage.

The second group you list is people who earn over $75k who could buy insurance but CHOOSE not to. First, this group is familys, not people, and family coverage can be prohibitively expensive. Second, this group includes people with pre-existing conditions who cannot buy insurance, not by CHOICE, but by exclusion through outright denial or prohibitive cost because they are considered to be in a high risk group. It is far more likely that INSURERS choose not to insure this group. Let's pretend for a moment that when Don Hamm, Assurant CEO claimed that "less than one half of one percent of people we cover" have their policy rescinded each year is true of all the insurers. In four years over half this group have become uninsured, but NOT by their own choice.

This group is accurately described as DENIED coverage.

In your last group of those eligible for some existing gov't program, some States cap the numbers in such programs, excluding a few. Six million are children, dependent upon their parents to enrole them so "whatever reason" might need further definition especially since you want to be more specific.

The six million kids are accurately described as DENIED coverage, even if it is only because their parents cannot help them.

Finally, since you are demanding more detail, what part of these people are being counted twice in your groupings. How many are being counted as eligible for Gov't help and also are counted as being immigrants? How many are immigrants and making more than $75k? How many are immigrants and kids?

Matt Taibbi is far more accurate describing the uninsured as DENIED coverage than Senator Fred Thompson was in claiming 30 million of them can get insurance. And the Senator got his speech and information delivered to him from the insurance industry propaganda department. Which is exactly the problem Matt Taibbi is writing about.

 

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#7) On September 07, 2009 at 6:54 AM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

I don't believe the 66 or the 47.  A great saying goes as "figures lie and liars figure."

 To have a crisis you need a crisis and that is what is going on.

I believe most of our high costs have everything to do with Gov't involvement.  I feel bad for people with pre-existing conditions and I am not sure what the answer is, but I know from logic that the Gov't, however altruistic we think it might be, is never good at quality or cost. 

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#8) On September 07, 2009 at 8:44 AM, fmahnke (90.19) wrote:

"Kucinich is one of the very few congressmen who has any shred of morality in this corrupt sesspool that is congress."

He is my congressman and was mayor of my city.  He may not be corrupt but he does support a very corrupt County Gov't (when the highest ranking officals will soon be indicted) He continues to oppose reforms, which I believe is designed to maintain the democratic stranglehold on Cuyahoga County/ Cleveland,

I read all the intellectual arguments for Public option/single payer healthcare and cannot deny their logic.  However, I never hear their advocates discuss the deficet or how inneffective our gov't is in fiscal management,  Do we forget that everyone agrees Medicare is bankrupct ?  How can the answer involve giving the gov't more power over our lives and our money.  This is the same congress that just voted for a 6.5% increase in their own administrative expenses ?  Doesn't this feel like FNMA?

I am an independent voter who supported this president.  However, since I am not a member of a union, or a gov't employee and do not work for a bank,  I cannot support more gov't takeovers or budget busting entitlements.  I don't see how anyone who doesn't fall into these categories can honestly say that this admisnistration is anything but a tainwreck. 

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#9) On September 07, 2009 at 9:56 AM, devoish (98.44) wrote:

dbjella,

No 47, no 66, I guess whatever you believe is based upon something. It is possible Remote Area Medical rounded up everyone in the country who is so underpaid or underinsured they have trouble paying for healthcare.

fmhanke,

You are connecting Kucinich to a corruption probe which began in 2006 and after a three year wiretap has gotten guilty pleas from Payne and Kelley, a couple of local engineering department employees who accepted 6 figures in bribes and are now claiming they also bribed a Democrats with a $1000 dollar plane ticket? They accepted the bribes from former Republican Senator Sinagra who has also pleaded guilty to bribery charges.

If you want better Government, don't elect Republicans. And if you do elect them, blame them when they cut taxes and bankrupt Medicare.

What 6.5% increase are you talking about?

If you read "all" the arguments for single payer you would know how single payer (HR676) advocates including Kucinnich, show it will save you money, and why I agree that the bill (HR3200) described by Taibbi is as pathetic as he describes it.

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#10) On September 07, 2009 at 11:09 AM, Option1307 (29.69) wrote:

If you want better Government, don't elect Republicans

Yep it's all those dirty Rebulicans fault. Down with Bush and his friends!

Nevermind the fact that Obama is just as big an Industry whore as Bush. Taibbi correctly asserts in his article that Obama basically buckled under the pressure from Big Insurance. Wow this Democrat is going to save us!

What about Obama and his continued reckless spending? Yes Bush started it, but he is only expanding these flawed ideas. Lets spend money we don't have and party like nobosy is watching. Bailouts, oh we have plenty of those!

Can Obama pick an advisor/nomination who doesn't at the very least have a sketchy past? Geither can't pay his taxes, Van Jones is a 911 Truther, etc. How is this incompetence any different than Republicans?

Rebuplicans started stupid wars in the Middle East, Obama is expanding them and sending more trrops to Afghanistan. Perfect, change we can blieve in!

Do you honestly believe your own statement If you want better Government, don't elect Republicans? How can you believe this? Has Obama not demonstrated that he is equally as worthless as his predecessor, I think so.

I normally don't agree with your Healthcare reform points/ideas, but I usually find them interesting. However, this is borderline ridiculous Devoish. Stick to the point, prove why your Healthcare reform is worthwhile. Quit going off topic and trying to bash Republicans as if everything is their fault. You loose credibility when you bring this into the discussion.

I did enjoy the article btw, it was an interesting read, so thank you for posting it.

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#11) On September 07, 2009 at 1:01 PM, devoish (98.44) wrote:

Do you honestly believe your own statement If you want better Government, don't elect Republicans?

Yes, it is definitely the first and best place to start.

Make sure you listen long enoough for the solution...

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#12) On September 07, 2009 at 2:10 PM, Option1307 (29.69) wrote:

Yes, it is definitely the first and best place to start.

This makes no sense if you think about it. The article you posted basically says, Obama is a wuss and is giving into Industry pressure, similarily to Bush etc.

"The president and the Democrats decided not to press for the only plan that makes sense for everyone, in order to preserve an industry that is not only cruel and stupid and dysfunctional, but through its rank inefficiency has necessitated the very reforms now being debated."

Obama is essentially not going to make any sort of real reform, simply play the freaking PR game in order save his political career. Wow what a guy, I'm sure glad we elected an awesome, non-republican, person to get things done this time around.

While I'm sure you disagree with me, I don't see how this game is any different, or better, than what the idiotic Republicans played the last 8 yrs. Ya, it's not. More of the same crap, woo!

Btw, after watching that video I would agree with you that small steps are needed to reach any goal (inch by inch); however, my point is that we are side steping at best, and more likely moving backwards.

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#13) On September 07, 2009 at 2:34 PM, fmahnke (90.19) wrote:

devo,

Congress approved a 6.5% increase in office administration expenses to $1.5 million per year last month.  Approriate for a country where our citizens struggle to pay their mortgages. They were also about to buy new jets before the public outrage grew too loud.  I wrote to Kucinich asking him if he voted for these measures, he chose not to respond.  Remenber he is my congressman.

I did not connect Kucinch to any corruption.  My comment cleary states that he supports a corrupt county gov't and opposes efforts to reform it.  I live here and have lived here my whole life.  We are highly taxed without a corresponding level of service.  Its democrats like Kelley, ( and soon Dimora and Russo) who will go to jail.  and Kucinich who opposes efforts to give more local representation to our counties communities. (which is a proposal initiated by Democrat Bill Mason). I beleive his motives are partisan and aimed at keeping republicans out of the gov't.  I jusr want better gov't and a congressmen who answers letters from his constituants

I am non-partisan.  I have voted for members of both parties but believe we need a new system of gov't which is smaller, less burdensome and more responsive to the voters as a whole,  not only their repspective special interests

Your politics are clear. but like most Obama supporters, you blame Bush for the deficits ( and I agree with you) although you fail to adress the more impotant question of what our administration is doing to fix the problem.  So far, I think they are compounding the problem by growing govt. and making things tougher for small businessmen

I do have one question for you.  Can you support Obama's appt of someone like Van Jones or Pelosi's refusal to deal with Charlie the Corrupt.  I really don't get how any American can support these ideals regardless of there political affiliations,

 

 

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#14) On September 07, 2009 at 6:22 PM, tonylogan1 (28.14) wrote:

Devo -

I don't feel like getting in a long debate, so I'll try and keep this brief.

1. Good point on the 10 million also including legal immigrants. However, I believe there are over 20 million illegal immigrants currently in this country anyway.

2. I personally believe all illegal immigrants SHOULD be denied coverage. They are not entitled to healthcare any better than they would have received in their own countries, unless they have the means to PAY for what they WANT.

Therefore, these illegal immigrants should get basic care and subsequently be deported immediately. (i.e. why should they get better care than the people who stayed legally in their own country?)

3. The group with $75k income may have to pay a lot of money for policies, but if they do not WANT to WORK to PAY for the things they WANT, then they should not get them.

Why force some other group of people to pay for something that this group does not CHOOSE to buy.

I have a subset for ya.. How many of these people have NO savings for their kid’s college, can not SUPPOSEDLY afford health coverage, but also HAVE GRANITE COUNTERTOPS? 

If all people who want something would work and pay for it, we would all be better off. The more government subsidies, etc you get the more waste you get.

I agree with you Devo, the INSURANCE companies ration care now. The best way to get away from this is to shift the way we handle insurance to allow for much cheaper "catastrophic" type insurance policies.

Example: Food is at least as important as healthcare, but yet we do not require people to carry food insurance. If we did, I'll bet you an apple would cost a person $1.00, but the billed price would be much higher.

How much does a dental cleaning cost? I don't know... because it costs me nothing, and it gets billed to my insurance... If there was a sign outside the door that said cleanings $35.00. Then I would try them. If they did a good job I'd use them again... Until I saw the $25.0 cleanings sign.

If those guys did a good job I'd go back again and the price of care would go down.

The best way to get better care for everyone is to do things to actually drive down costs.

If you had Walmart and Target fighting each other to drive down the price of a basic checkup, I bet the price goes to $20 or less with ZERO decline in quality of care.

On the political side, clearly neither party is guiltier than the other. They both just pander to whoever is paying them.

That is why you see ZERO movement on issues like TORT REFORM, which would be a big step to DRIVING DOWN COSTS, which is actually helpful, but gives NO ONE MORE POWER...

oh well... this did get long. 

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