Posts Tagged ‘Health Care’

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Healthcare: Another Snowe Job

September 8, 2009

Another Snowe Job

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY |  8 September 2009

The leftist supporters of radical health care reform are so crazed about its growing unpopularity that last week one of them bit the pinky off of a senior citizen for disagreeing with him at a MoveOn.org rally in Southern California.

Republicans can rightly rejoice at seeing Americans practice assertive, effective citizenship. Angry crowds at this summer’s town halls recognized the government-run “public option” that Democrats push is a grave threat to the best health care system in the world.

Republican Snowe of Maine seems to realize just how dangerous the public option is — even as she puts forward a plan that endorses it.

From taxes to moral issues, Snowe has long been a thorn in the GOP’s side.

It’s actually highly insulting to try to scare Americans into a socialistic health revolution they have resoundingly rejected.

One in four want some version of Congress’ government-centered health care proposals to become law. It’s that unpopular.

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Cartoon: Obama’s health Care Car

August 12, 2009

IBD      31 July 09

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Our Lyin’ Eyes

August 12, 2009

IBD     6 Aug 09

Chicanery: On health care, taxes and grass-roots protests, the White House seems to be echoing Chico Marx’s famous line in the film “Duck Soup”: “Who you gonna believe — me or your own eyes?”

We may see the video of President Obama telling one labor union that he wants to eliminate private health insurance, and telling another that he is “a proponent of single-payer universal health care coverage . . . that’s what I’d like to see.”

We may hear liberal economists inside and outside the administration warn of the president having to break his middle-class tax pledge. We may behold angry voters hounding Democratic lawmakers about impending socialism.

But according to the White House, it’s all just our lyin’ eyes.

The administration, for instance, put together a three-minute video hosted by former ABC News correspondent Linda Douglass, who claimed that the enemies of government expansion of medical insurance are “taking sentences and phrases out of context and cobbling them together to leave a very false impression.”

According to Douglass, “they simply cherry-pick and put it together and make it sound like he’s saying something that he didn’t really say.”

The problem for Douglass is that the president did say what it sounds like he said. And her video never provided the “context” that allegedly refutes his “sentences and phrases” — because the context does no such thing.

The president did tell the AFL-CIO he was for single payer, and he did tell the Service Employees International Union that it would take time “to eliminate employer coverage” — perhaps 10, 15 or 20 years.

In light of those statements, consider the obvious effect the White House-proposed, government-run alternative would have, with its artificially low premiums sucking away the customers of private health insurance firms.

It’s hard not to view the Obama plan as exactly what Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., has called it: “the best way to reach single payer.”

The Orwellian doublespeak continues when it comes to the populist “town hell” protests that have plagued Democratic members of Congress in Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin and other spots. 

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at “the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying.” Citizens rising up? That’s just an illusion.

Gibbs also tried to downplay statements from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers suggesting the president may have to break his promise not to increase middle-class taxes by even “one single dime.”

“I don’t think any economist would believe that, in the environment that we’re in, that raising taxes on middle-class families would make any sense,” Gibbs said Monday.

But Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration, proceeded to say that raising taxes to fund “these great extra expenditures” that will “make our economy more productive in the future” made great sense.

In the aftermath of the worst economic calamity since the early 1980s, and the election of the most left-leaning president in American history, we should not be deluded into doubting what we clearly see happening.

The president is indeed on record as supporting a Euro-style, socialistic, single-payer medical insurance system. He did indeed speak favorably of the incremental demise of private health insurance in America.

The American people, in their wisdom, are indeed waking up to the gravity of what is happening to this country.  And they are only beginning to let their elected representatives know that they want the brakes applied.

Finally, you can bet that your taxes will be raised to pay for Uncle Sam’s unprecedented new spending.

When a politician asks, “Who you gonna believe — me or your own eyes?” the people of this country, who revolted against the might of a faraway king rather than suffer “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” know the answer only too well.

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Are We In America Or Amerika?

August 12, 2009

IBD

10 Aug 09

Public Debate: Democrats, bloodied over their attempt to force health care “reform” on Americans, are looking more unreasonable and hysterical by the day. This isn’t healthy for the republic.

Their increasing anxiety and fear of failure are typified in the words of the leader of their party, who wants Republicans to keep their mouths shut while he “fixes” health care.

“I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking,” the president said Thursday at a political rally in Virginia. “I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.”

So much for the promises of bipartisan lawmaking. So much for open discussion. So much for understanding who really caused the “mess” in the first place. Like Al Gore claiming the debate about global warming is over, the White House simply wants to shut down dialogue over who controls more than one-seventh of the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to come out in favor of repressing speech. But she’s inclined to ignore it. The San Francisco Democrat vowed Thursday in Denver that the swelling public opposition to government-run health care would not persuade party leaders to back down.

“The plan for August is to have a discussion, to listen carefully to what people are saying, what ideas they may have to improve the legislation as it affects them,” Pelosi said. In other words, Americans can suggest changes, but the elitists in Washington will not withdraw plans to take over the best health care system in the world.

Earlier in the week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid walked the same line as Pelosi, making it clear that the Democratic leadership had no intention of listening to fed-up voters.

“In spite of the loud, shrill voices trying to interrupt town hall meetings and just throw a monkey wrench into everything,” he said, “we’re going to continue to be positive and work hard.”

By Thursday, Reid was saying that protesters were trying to “sabotage” the democratic process, which apparently in his world is a place where there is no opposition to the Democrats’ process of invading every corner of private life.

On the same day, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, said she thought the protests against government health care at lawmakers’ town hall meetings were “un-American and disrespectful.” Hours later, she retracted the statement, probably less concerned about the inaccuracy of her statement than mindful of the fact that she had just insulted a large group of voters who can unseat her.

Truth is, there’s nothing more American than revolting against heavy-handed authority, be it a long train of abuses from a king or the lawmaking of elected officials with strong authoritarian urges. This is a nation founded on independence, and there is a large portion of it that wants to retain that priceless heritage.

This seems to confuse some lawmakers. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., can’t understand that what he’s watching is a freedom movement. In his eyes, the protesters are Nazis — or almost.

“What we’re seeing right now is close to brownshirt tactics,” Baird said Wednesday, by way of explaining why he was refusing to face his constituents directly in town hall meetings and would instead hold telephone town halls.

Voters’ deep anger is justifiable. They have every right to disrupt and shout down public figures who, as the protesters can be heard chanting, work for them. At dispute is not a mere difference of opinion that can and should be discussed in a civil manner, but a fundamental question of who is in charge of peoples’ lives.

We are not advocating violence, though coercive government is at its core violent as the state is required to resort to force to ensure that its directives aren’t violated.

But we do support our fellow citizens’ right to express their rage at an injustice, particularly if it makes lawmakers uncomfortable. Shouldn’t Americans bristle when their independence is threatened, when a federal official, in this case White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, says party leaders “will punch back twice as hard” when voters merely show their displeasure?

The freedom the protesters are defending can sometimes be messy and imperfect. A lack of freedom, however, is eternally oppressive. It is an unrelenting prison that poisons the human spirit, even when cloaked in allegedly humane programs such as government-run health care.

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Geezers With Pitchforks Vs. The AARP

August 12, 2009

IBD

10 Aug 09

Discourse: At a town hall last week in Dallas, an elderly “mob” with “manufactured” outrage questioned AARP’s support for nationalized health care, asking: “Do you work for us or do we work for you?”

There were no swastika-wearing grannies at Tuesday’s meeting, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might claim. Nor were they “taking their cues from talk show hosts, Internet rumor-mongers … and insurance rackets,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said.

But they were mad as hell at the perception that AARP was selling them out in the name of government-run medical insurance. That perception was not helped when the AARP town hall on the subject was shut down by the seniors outfit once the members dared to ask questions. The AARP representatives did not want to hear from the members at all. Just send in your dues, granny, and be quiet.

AARP denies being in league with the administration in pushing its medical insurance agenda. But as Mark Tapscott, editorial page editor for the Washington Examiner reports, that claim may be bogus despite a statement by AARP CEO Barry Rand in the July 31 issue that “AARP has not endorsed any of the bills currently being debated in Congress.”

On Monday, Connie Hair of Human Events reported on a memo from Pelosi in which the speaker described the Democrats’ plan to “partner” with AARP as part of a planned August recess PR blitz for government expansion of medical insurance. The fiasco in Dallas was an example of that partnership.

The memo said: “The leadership is working in close coordination with the White House and outside groups (including but not limited to HCAN, Families USA, AFSCME, SEIU, AARP, etc.) to ensure complementary efforts during August.” How can the AARP claim to have not endorsed the administration’s health care agenda as it works to get its member to embrace it?

The explanation for the memo was that it was just a “draft” composed by an “overzealous staffer.” Fact is, AARP has long worked to accumulate power in the hands of the government, with the organization’s hierarchy opening up its wallets to support Democrats and this administration in particular.

As we have written, the group opposed President Bush’s proposal to let workers choose to invest a portion of their contributions in private investment accounts. That might have lessened government control over our lives. AARP has nothing to say about our senators and congressmen exempting themselves from the plan they would force on the rest of us.

AARP CEO Rand maxed out for Obama in 2008, giving $4,600 to the president’s campaign committee and $4,300 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint effort between the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

AARP general counsel Joan Wise gave $1,000 to Obama, AARP project manager Beth Lazur gave $1,500, strategy consultant Joseph Liu gave $2,300, speechwriter Erica Nash-Thomas gave $2,350 and consultant Bryan Rawlings gave $1,000.

You get the idea. So too, apparently, do the seniors they profess to serve. They wonder how AARP can support a nationalized medical system like in Britain or Canada in which people die on waiting lists and where your quality of life is assessed to determine if you are worth treating at all.

They wonder why a system where cost-effectiveness is the final criterion should be supported, a system where a shortage of doctors, finite funding and increased demand leads to rationed care. They know that in a choice between a 20-something and themselves, they will lose out.

Having paid into the system all their lives and now AARP dues, they are upset that illegal aliens will be covered by legislation that eliminates any proof-of-citizenship requirement. And they are furious that AARP would support “reform” that includes “end-of-life counseling” as if they’re being encouraged to get out of the way.

They know that the administration’s plan is one big government “do not resuscitate” order for seniors, and they don’t want some government bureaucrat looking at some spreadsheet pulling their plug.

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Public Option To Cut Health Costs Medicare’s Record Says Dream On

July 21, 2009

IBD           22 June 09

by Jeffrey H. Anderson

‘First, the rising cost of health care must be brought down.” That’s what President Obama recently declared when outlining the basic principles of his health care plan.

His supporters have echoed his emphasis. The New York Times writes that, when it comes to health policy, “The president’s main focus is on starting to reduce the soaring cost of health care.”

Speaker Pelosi concurs: Health care reform “is about cost — taking down the cost of health care.”

But can the president’s plan succeed, even on his own terms? If history is any guide, it cannot — and will instead make matters much worse.

The centerpiece of President Obama’s plan is a “public option,” described by Tom Daschle as “a government-run insurance program, modeled after Medicare.” The president asserts that this new Medicare-like program would cut costs.

But there are nearly 40 years of experience to consult, and they offer a resounding rebuttal. Across the years, Medicare’s costs have risen far more than the costs of privately purchased care.

A new study I’ve completed, published by the Pacific Research Institute, takes all health-care spending in the United States and subtracts the costs of the two flagship government-run programs, Medicare and Medicaid. It then takes that remaining spending and compares its cost increases over time with Medicare’s cost increases over time.

The results are clear: Since 1970 — even without the prescription drug benefit — Medicare’s costs have risen 34% more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid, the vast majority of which is purchased through the private sector.

Since 1970, the per-patient costs of all health care apart from Medicare and Medicaid have risen from $364 to $7,119, while Medicare’s per-patient costs have risen from $368 to $9,634. Medicare’s costs have risen $2,511 more per patient.

These conclusions are true despite very generous treatment of Medicare. My study counts Medicare’s prescription drug expenditures as part of privately purchased care, rather than as part of Medicare. It counts health care purchased privately by Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries (including Medicare copayments and Medigap insurance) among the costs of private care, without counting its recipients among those receiving private care — thereby magnifying private care’s per-person costs. And it doesn’t adjust for cost-shifting from Medicare to private entities.

The New York Times and others have quoted studies claiming that private insurance has failed to contain costs as well as Medicare. Such studies are deeply misleading, for they omit any consideration of out-of-pocket spending, thereby neglecting a major shift in the private health care market.

From 1970 to 2007, out-of-pocket expenditures dropped from 62% of all private health care to just 26%. Correspondingly, insurance expenditures increased from 38% to 74%. These studies make no allowance for that change. That’s a lot like looking at LP or CD sales, ignoring MP3s, and concluding that Americans are no longer as fond of music.

The president himself says that “over the last decade” Americans “have seen their out-of-pocket expenses soar.” But, according to official government figures, per-patient out-of-pocket costs have risen only 35% since 2000, while Medicare’s per-patient costs have risen 59% — again, even without the prescription drug benefit.

Private insurance and private out-of-pocket spending, in tandem, have controlled costs far better than Medicare. However, if Medicare has, in fact, fared comparatively well vs. private insurance — as the supporters of President Obama’s proposals claim — then that means it has fared particularly poorly vs. private out-of-pocket spending, thereby further strengthening the argument that private consumers, paying out-of-pocket, are the best bargain-shoppers and the keenest pursuers of value in health care.

From a policy perspective, this would suggest that the key to lowering costs is to let consumers control more of their own resources — that when they have the freedom and incentive to pursue value, they know how to keep costs down.

The most important comparison, in the context of the current debate over a Medicare-like “public option,” is between government-run health care and privately purchased health care on the whole.

Across nearly four decades, Medicare’s costs have risen more than one-third more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care nationwide apart from Medicare and Medicaid. This is true even when viewing Medicare’s costs in a charitable light.

President Obama asserts that creating a Medicare-like “public option” is the way to slow the rising costs of health care. Experience shows the opposite, that costs have risen faster under government-run care. As Benjamin Franklin and George Mason argued at the Constitutional Convention, let’s defer to “experience, the best of all tests.”

• Anderson is a senior fellow in health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute and was the senior speechwriter for Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Heeeere’s Barack!

June 30, 2009

IBD

26 June 09

Media Bias: ABC’s prime-time special starring President Obama was shameless journalistic favoritism. But as a promotional event, it backfired; the broadcast revealed no public demand for his vision of health reform.

After announcing that it would carve out a valuable evening slot for what might best be called “The Health Care Show Starring Barack Obama,” ABC assured the public it would be no glorified White House infomercial. But an analysis of the broadcast’s content indicates otherwise.

The program’s real name was “Questions for the President: Prescription for America.” But it was more like “Long Answers from the President.” Obama had plenty of time for monologues. An analysis by the Business and Media Institute found that some 60% of the 75 minutes of airtime was eaten up by the president talking.

Questions and comments from the pre-picked audience were a total of just 12% of the programming, well under 10 minutes — this on a show advertised as dialogue about the future of U.S. health care.

There were no real health care experts present to ask the president any tough, informed questions from a divergent viewpoint, no John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis or Dr. David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute. Unless, of course, you count ABC’s latest incarnation of Marcus Welby, M.D., the network’s “medical editor,” Dr. Tim Johnson.

John Sheils of the Lewin Group, which did a devastating analysis on the effects of establishing a government health care option, was nearly apologetic in his one brief chance to ask a question. He had no opportunity for a follow-up.

As for Republican members of Congress, who could have presented the TV-watching public with alternative reform plans, or made the case for keeping the status quo rather than embracing the path to socialized medicine, there were none to be seen.

With no chance to rebut, the Republican National Committee was justified in demanding through a letter to ABC that “the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime.”

ABC’s response to the RNC was: Don’t worry, “ABC News will have complete editorial control. To suggest otherwise is quite unfair to both our journalists and our audience.”

But America, after all, is a republic. We elect representatives who analyze policies and decide on our behalf. How can we have a televised “conversation” about a major issue featuring the president, but not elected officials from the opposing party who fundamentally disagree with his position? That’s just the president having a conversation with himself in the presence of a TV audience.

And speaking of those watching at home, if Americans are so anxious to change our health system, why is it that the Obama Show came in third among the top three networks in the ratings? How is it that even a rerun of CBS’ “CSI:NY” beat out this oh-so-important debate on the future of medicine?

The meager ratings should be particularly satisfying for those who wanted to buy ad time during the show to make the case against ObamaCare but were not allowed to by ABC. With so few watching, they wouldn’t have gotten their money’s worth anyway.

In the context of moderate congressional Democrats refusing to support the establishment of a government-run alternative health care plan, and the airwaves already filled with warnings of the consequences of ObamaCare, the president’s ABC infomercial can only be viewed as having backfired.

Viewer interest was poor as Obama tried to rally the public behind a program designed to make him the 21st-century FDR, and no one should wonder why. After spending hundreds of billions already — purportedly to “save” the world economy — the president’s insistence that we also have to transform a health care system, that though flawed remains the envy of the world, simply rings false.

We continue, however, to be in great danger of being subjected to “reform” that will yield socialized medicine. The only prescription that will protect the public from it: a large dose of information.