Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Keeping Insurance Workers Employed in Tough Times

Universal Healthcare Is the Way of the Future, but the Democrats want to transition in a way that will save hundreds of thousands of insurance-worker jobs. Leave it to President Obama and the Democratic members of Congress to think of more than just the tremendous damage done to the country under our longstanding, for-profit system of excessive costs for mediocre access to the world's best healthcare.

Today, the Austin American-Statesman Reports that Iowa Republican Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley called the public option a “slow walk towards government-controlled, single-payer health care.”

Well, At Least Senator Grassley Finally Gets It:

Universal Healthcare Coverage Is the Way of the Future. But the Democrats want to transition in a way that will save hundreds of thousands of insurance-worker jobs.

One Thing America Doesn’t Need is another industry going belly up. We’ve already bailed out the investment banks and the debt insurers and the automakers. We can’t afford to put all of the insurance companies out of business, too.

Fortunately the “Public Option” of the Post Office has shown that the government-run plan and the private competitors such as FedEX and UPS can both survive. We have a road map before us, for putting a government-run unit in competition with the private sector, so that both sides win. The millions of Americans who want to get their insurance where they work, and pay $6.00 or $12.00 to send a letter, can do so. The millons of Americans who want to get their healthcare coverage through the government’s public option, and pay just 44¢ to mail a letter, can do it that way.

It’s Time to Apply the Post Office/FedEX Model to Keeping Americans Alive. And we can do it at a “slow walk” that doesn’t put more Americans on the unemployment lines. It’s a win/win/win situation where everybody gets what they want—at a cost that all of America can afford.

But the Republicans Will Have None of It. After all those years of hidden health-insurance taxes to pay for prisoners, Senior Citizens, illegal immigrants, the military, and the poor, the Republicans would rather fight for the status quo.

You Might Think That Republicans Would Rather Not Put Any More Americans out of Work. Despite the economic damage of the past years, you would think that all of America—Republicans and Democrats alike—would want to keep more Americans working.

So What Does Senator Grassley Really Have against a job-saving, cost-saving healthcare reform plan—that stops the hemorrhaging of the insurance industry—with a “public option” that keeps the insurance industry in business for as long as possible? Is it the same thing as the way that Senator Grassley disdains the Post Office for charging just 44¢ to mail a $12.00 letter?

Go Figure....


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

If the “Public Option” Post Office....

.... Was Good Enough for the Founding Fathers, how come “public option” healthcare coverage isn’t good enough for us?

Do Today’s Conservative Democrats and Republicans in Congress really think that they can do better for America than Benjamin Franklin did? (Franklin, you may remember, became America’s first Postmaster General back in 1775.)

Previously, I took Iowa’s U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley to task for preferring that Americans pay $6.87, or even $12.16, to mail a letter anywhere in the country, when USPS—the United States Postal Service—will deliver the same piece of mail for just 44¢.

The Original Public Option, the United States Postal System, did eventually give way to something else—something that clearly serves a valuable role. In the wake of government domination of the postal delivery system, changes were made that spawned UPS and FedEX. And if these companies did not exist and thrive now, then the vital purposes of free-market Capitalism might go unserved.

So Why Not Test This Process Again? How about if Congress once again gives America what it gave us with the establishment of the Post Office? How about another “public option,” to give those of us who want it, the healthcare coverage that we want this way, while the rest of America can continue to freely support the private-sector insurance?

Many Americans Currently Use FedEX and UPS in addition to, or instead of, the United States Post Office. And that is as it should be. Free-market enterprise is the backbone of the American economic system. But we still rely on that Post Office “public option,” too.

It’s Not Clear Why So Many in Congress believe that they know better for us, than we do ourselves. Why so many in Congress feel compelled to protect us from the kind of healthcare protection we believe we need, is a real mystery. Why so many in Congress might even fight old Ben Franklin, if he were pushing his government post-office option today.

Many Americans Believe That Government can’t do anything right—whether it’s to Medicare, the VA, the Post Office, or the Internet.

But the Rest of Us Have Faith that a government—of the people, by the people, and for the people—has the best chance on the planet of making things work for everybody.

Americans Want Congress to Put These Theories to the Test. If the public sector wastes too much money, and can’t get it right, the private sector will prevail and thrive.

All Americans Should Be Allowed to Test this Out. The private sector can continue using the free-market system to provide millions of Americans the valuable doctor/patient interface that they have given us for decades. While the “public option” demonstrates whether it can offer something better.

It’s a Fair Test. It’s a True Test. It’s FedEX and UPS versus the United States Government, all over again. In the original version, the private sector and the public sector both have survived. Let’s see what happens this time around.

It’s Time for Conservative America to Prove that the kite-flying inventor of bifocals was wrong. It’s time to let the rest of America access the healtcare coverage that we want.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Healthcare “Reform” Is Really About.....

Sometimes It’s Hard to Know Who’s Really Smarter: The leaders or the followers. Take the biggest current political issue, for example:

It’s Not About Healthcare Reform at all. It’s about reforming healthcare insurance.

The Whole Purpose of the Debate is to find a way to remove the rationing, the bureaucratic rationing that stands between us and our doctors. At the same time, we don’t want to put the tens of thousands of insurance company employees out of work.

The Last Thing America Needs Right Now is to kill off another industry—or to make taxpayers foot the bill for another bailout. And so Congress and the White House are working  to see if we can’t find a middle way.

The Thing Is, We No Longer Have a “Middle” Way in America. It’s right or left, blue or red, “my way or the highway,” with not much agreement on anything between.

Meanwhile, the “Tea-Bag” Party-Goers are out there, complaining that our government can’t seem to get much of anything right. On the one hand, it’s hard to argue with the evidence of congressional and presidential failure. On the other hand, this business of government is clearly a lot harder than it looks....

We’d All Like Somebody to Take Charge—like a CEO, a dictator, or a king. If only we could do it without giving up our “inalienable rights.” Such as the right to more services and entitlements, with lower and lower taxes.

But When Government Tries to Transition from the inefficient insurance mess that we have now, to something that puts capitalism’s “profit motive” back in the medical industry where it belongs, and people throw tantrums about it all—

What Can We Expect?

Do Any of Us Really Want Our Insurance Company deciding that our doctors’ care costs too much? Do we really believe that insurance companies should decide when to pull the plug on the medical care that’s keeping our loved ones alive?

But What’s the Alternative? How many of us have any real idea about the universal coverage programs that the rest of the developed world has? All I hear about is Canadians crossing the border to get cosmetic surgery without having to wait three months. And how good Japan's healthcare is, and how bad England's is. And how they all cost too much.

Thinking in terms that Adam Smith, the founder of capitalism through The Wealth of Nations might use:
  • Doctors provide the labor, in exchange for wages.
  • Investors provide the capital stock, for the development of new drugs and equipment, as well as for hospitals and clinics.
  • Patients provide the profit through their self-interest in purchasing the medical-care products.
  • Insurance companies provide.......What?
Call Me an Old-Fashioned Capitalist Without His Tea Bag. But I don’t see what insurance companies add to the mix. I do see the profit that they remove from our ability to pay for needed medical care. And I see the government insuring our costliest, least-profitable patients—through Medicare and the VA and the prison systems—and doing a fine job.

So Go Ahead and Have the Tea Parties. Go ahead and protest to defend the current rationing of medical care that is killing millions of Americans, with stress and with denied coverage, because you can’t tell the difference between the world’s finest “healthcare system,” and the worst “healthcare delivery-system” currently dysfunctioning in the developed world.

Pride in America Ought to Be Based on Something besides the belief that my ability to be angry makes me better and more-right than you.

It’s Time to Reform Health Insurance. After that, we can wave signs and complain about government in Washington all we want. Maybe we’ll shake up Congress a little bit after all. Lord knows they can use it.

But Come On, Citizens!

At Least Lets Try Not to Be Too-Stupid about It....


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fiscal Conservative Challenges Obama to a “Big Government” Bet

As an Unwavering Fiscal Conservative, I want America’s fiscal house put back in order. The question seems to be how we do it. For some good reasons, free-market competition in the health-insurance industry actually interferes with competition in the medical field. Our access to medical treatment continues to get worse, as the price continues to skyrocket, and our private insurance companies, despite their best efforts to squeeze down the cost of our dollars going to doctors and hospitals, instead just get in the middle and keep the profits for themselves.

The "Bet" in the Old Life Insurance Joke goes something like this:
Life insurance is where the insurance company bets you that you’ll live forever.
You bet them that you’ll die first.
You put up the money in advance.
Somebody else collects when you die.
Either way—you lose!

Competition Makes Our Free-Market System Work. But for too long in the world of catastrophic-health insurance, competition has gone missing. Texas, where I live, has a population of about 24-million swaggering cowboys and cowgirls, but that's clearly not a big-enough market for insurance competition to flourish. And tort reform—which was passed here quite a few years ago—hasn't done the trick of stopping unnecessary tests or high medical costs.

Insurance Companies Earn the Profits that they need to stay in business, while everyday Americans suffer from exorbitant premiums that keep salaries low, from policies that are withdrawn or used up just when they are needed most, and from policies that ration the care that the medical profession delivers—by demanding too little care in many cases, and encouraging too much waste in others. The medical profession gets shorted, the American people get shorted, and the insurance companies manage to eke out an immodest, but necessary profit.

Since Competition Is What We Want, let’s put health-care insurance to the free-market test of capitalism. President Barack Obama has proposed a tiny bubble of an insurance product, expected to cover less than 5% of the population. This “public option” will receive no tax dollars and will add not a dime to the national budget, but give those Americans who believe that government does some things best a chance to have their ideology tested.

Can Government Deliver Healthcare? Affordable healthcare? Without going broke? Or is this another foolish Liberal fantasy? 

Let’s Let the Free Markets Decide:

President Obama, America Issues You a Challenge. Either your “public option” can do the job of insuring Americans directly or of stimulating better competition throughout the country, or else you shut it down.

America Can Give You Five Years. We can afford this test, when the lives of so many Americans are at stake, but we can only afford so much. Whether the question is an ideology of entitlement or an ideology of greed, you’ve got five years from Day One of the passage of the healthcare reform bill.

But Then When This “Public Option” Fails, or blows through its budget, you owe it to the American people to shut it down.

The Clock on the “Public Option” Starts Ticking Soon.

You Have Five Years.....


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What Did the Post Office Ever Do to Senator Grassley?

In a Phone-in Town Hall Meeting about healthcare reform yesterday on C-SPAN, Iowa Republican Senator  Charles “Chuck” Grassley made an odd comment about Democratic efforts at instituting some form of “Public Option” as part of the reform bills pending before Congress. Said Senator Grassley:
 [T]heir goal is to have the government run everything. And I don’t think the government does a very good job of running the post office, for instance. So should they be running healthcare?”

Some Quick Research on the United Parcel Service (UPS) Web Site shows that you can mail a letter by UPS, from one American residence to another, for $12.16. And UPS's biggest competitor, FedEX, will pick up and deliver the same letter for about half that: just $6.87.

I’m Embarrassed to Tell You what Senator Grassley's whipping boy, the United States Postal Service—the government-run program that has delivered mail to every address in the United States since 1775—charges:


Given the Incomparable Differences between the government rates and those of the private sector, Senator Grassley’s comment is highly suspect. To say nothing of the denigration it delivered to your neighborhood USPS delivery person. 
The Government-run USPS will deliver your letter for about 
6.5% of the FedEX® cost. and about 3.62% of the UPS® cost.

If Opponents of Government-Insured Health Care want higher standards than those of the United States Postal Service, it’s fair to say that their demands are unreasonable. One might say that their perspective is ideologically blinded.

Senator Grassley Is the Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. But his understanding of the role that the Federal Government plays in the daily lives of the American people raises some concerns. One wonders if the senator has any idea what it costs these days to mail a letter.

It’s a Mystery Why So Many Americans are convinced that we need private industry such as FedEX® and UPS® to make profits, while the Postal Service delivers everybody’s mail, with outstanding service, at a cheap price—and America gets to keep the profits....

Medicare and the Veterans Administration both deliver low-cost, affordable insurance to many of America's most-expensive citizens. And we don't hear the kind of complaints about Medicare that Senator Grassley just leveled at the Post Office.

I Bet You That Neither UPS® nor FedEX® Could Deliver all your letters for 44¢ a piece and come anywhere close to doing it as cheaply as the USPS does.

It’s All in How You Look at It. And ideology clearly plays a tremendous role in clouding many people's judgment.

But When It Comes to My Own Health Insurance, I’d rather go the 44¢ route—for United States Postal Service quality, at a United States Postal Service cost.

Ideology Aside, of course.....

[For a video recording of Senator Grassley's call-in Town Hall meeting on C-Span, go to this link:


Friday, September 4, 2009

Democrats Want Health Care That’s Affordable:

Republicans Want Medicare to Die

The most expensive citizens to insure are America’s Senior Citizens. Whatever conditions they acquire—such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer—have had a lifetime to develop. And these conditions, once acquired, will usually be present until the time that they die.

And yet America has covered each and every one of our Senior Citizens from the time that they turn 65 until the very end. With Americans living longer and longer lives, many Seniors now live well into their 80s and beyond. Even to 100 and beyond. And we are glad to have them, our grandparents and our great-grandparents, and even our great-great-grandparents with us.

It is an expense that most Americans gladly pay, in order to keep our loved ones alive. But of course it is a large expense.

And yet we pay the expense as a nation, because we would not see our loved ones suffer and die.

America Insures Only the Most Expensive Americans

Insuring the most-expensive segment of the population has been a costly endeavor. The Democrats put this in place, back in 1965. It took them twenty years, from the time that President Harry Truman proposed it until the time that the Democrats managed to put it in place. This was in the first half of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s tenure. Medicare was put through for our Senior Citizens during that time, and the Civil Rights Act was put through for all Americans in the same era, and the Conservatives turned away from the Democratic Party, as LBJ had foreseen, for the next 40 years.

Medicare Covers All Seniors....But Republicans Wanted to Kill It

During all this time that Medicare has made health care affordable for our Senior Citizens, Republicans have argued against it. Republicans argue against Medicare primarily on ideological grounds:

“It’s too expensive!” they cry.

“We can’t afford Medicare!” they shout.

“We don’t want big government running our health care!” they say.

Well, of course it’s expensive:

What do you think you get when you only buy the most-expensive things, without budgeting for all the rest?

We Insure More Than Just Seniors

On top of insuring Senior Citizens, already the costliest segment of society for health care, we also pay insurance costs for other expensive groups.

We Insure the Military

Our military—the soldiers, sailors, marines, and fliers who keep America safe—come back from war with myriad serious and costly medical conditions, both physical and emotional. And we pay for them all. Because our military—perhaps even more than our Seniors—deserve it. Our military suffers on our behalf, and the very least we can do is provide for their health care.

But it is expensive.

We Insure Prisoners

Our prisoners are another expensive group. And we pay their health care, too.

This segment of the population often leads lives riddled with drug addiction and other abuses. From tattoos (including those acquired with dirty pen points in prison) that lead to Hepatitis C and other practices that lead to AIDS, America pays for them all.

We Insure the Impoverished

The poor, too, we pay healthcare for.

We provide neighborhood health clinics in the poorer parts of our cities, and those not served in this fashion go to our hospital emergency rooms. And there in the ER, whether it’s a sore throat or a diabetic coma or a gunshot wound, America pays for it all.

We Pay for the Most Expensive: Why Not for the Least?

If we are already sharing the cost of health care for America’s costliest populations, it only makes sense to level out the field a bit more, and put everybody under the same reimbursement umbrella.

If cost is the issue—as the Republicans currently proclaim—then what better way to get those costs under control than to put the cheapest in the same tent with the most-exorbitant, and level out the costs for us all?

Republicans Work to Keep Medicare Too Expensive

But since 1965, for almost 45 years, the Republicans have worked to keep it so that the most-expensive health care to be paid for—is paid for out of the taxpayer’s your pocket.

The Republicans have made sure that Medicare is almost impossible for America to afford, so they can keep hollering out, “It doesn’t work! Socialized medicine doesn’t work! It’s too expensive! We can’t afford it! Medicare is going broke!”

Of course it’s going broke:

You Can’t Afford Steak and Lobster on a Hamburger Budget

The Republicans insist on serving up steak and lobster for dinner every night—while the rest of America eats low-cost, high-fat hamburger meat to pay for that steak and lobster (which, by the way, the members of Congress also get to eat, through their government-paid healthcare).

And then they keep fussing at Democrats for blowing the food budget.

If America is already paying for the most-costly patients—the poor, the prisoners, the military, the Seniors—and also paying its own insurance through employer-paid policies—and on top of that, we are paying the insurance companies bigger and bigger and bigger profits every year, then cutting out the insurance company profits, and using that money to pay for Medicare and the VA and the rest of us, can only cost less.

Why Not Keep Healthcare Profits Where They Belong?

A single-payer insurance system that covers all Americans, while paying the bills of the private sector, is the best way to encourage the private sector—doctors, hospitals, drug companies, medical-equipment companies—to continue providing the best possible health care, at the affordable costs that the free-enterprise system and free-market capitalism provides.

Let’s keep medical profits where they belong: in the medical industry. Not in the pockets of private insurance companies.

Republicans Argue Ideology.....
While Americans Without Insurance Die

Now, Republicans can argue with this all that they want. They can talk about the threat of Big Government—but you can ask any Senior how he or she feels about Medicare, and you’ll know that Big Government isn’t really the issue.

The real issue is insurance companies. It's not that they're evil. But businesses need profits in order to survive. And it's just the profits that they have to take out of society that make insurance too-expensive. It's just the profits that require denials of coverage, whether for preexisting conditions or from loss of your job.

Republicans Cry “Choice!” But There Is No Choice.....

Republicans can argue about “choice” all they want. But under our current system of private insurance, there is no real choice.

When all the products available are supported by a broken system—
—that squeezes profits out of the misfortunes of patients and the dedicated service of doctors—
—and no available insurance policy will afford you complete coverage—
—without any rationing of preexisting conditions and illness-caused loss of employment—
—adding zero value to our health care—
—that leaves every single American taxpayer at risk of financial ruin—
—then you know that it’s time to give Medicare to everyone.

Republicans Are Determined to Bankrupt Medicare

The Republicans have worked for almost 45 years to kill Medicare. It’s time to put this destructive Republican ideology aside.

Now Let’s Work to Keep All Americans Alive...