Uncle Max's Musings on Politics and Culture

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Pass the Healthcare Bill – NOW! March 14, 2010

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 2:27 am

OK – here is my post about why I think healthcare reform should pass.

1.) This bill contains many good measures.  From a pure moral perspective, we cannot continue to have 40+ million people to be without health insurance.  While I very much want to see health care cost reform in the future (and this bill does some things on this front), I don’t see how we can know what costs to control until more people are accessing the system.

2.) This bill ends many of the insurance company practices that are deplorable, namely pre-existing conditions and lifetime maximums.  Individually, these reforms are very popular.  If the Democrats sell these benefits appropriately, they have a winning package.

3.) As the current bill stands, it is deficit reducing.  Also, it is not the government taking over healthcare.  This takeover already happened with Medicare and Medicaid.     

Finally, here are some political realities:

1.) This bill is not about abortion – no matter how hard some people are trying.  In fact, the Catholic Health Group accepts the language in the healthcare reform bill

2.) Obama is not using “funny” legislative procedures to pass this bill.  He is attempting to have a simple majority to pass the bill (not 60+).  We have passed several bills in this country (Bush’s tax cuts, welfare reform – BOTH REPUBLICAN INITIATIVES) through reconciliation.  So, don’t believe this hyperbole.  If every law in this country required 60+ votes, we would have not had welfare reform or tax reform in the last few years.


Is Obama Keeping His Promises With Healthcare Reform? YES!

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 1:29 am

Some people are saying that Obama is not keeping his promises with healthcare reform.  Well, I think some of these people may need to refamiliarize themselves with his campaign white paper regarding healthcare reform.  As Esra Klein argues, Obama’s current plan is aligned with his initial campaign promises.  Here is the punchline:

The basic structure of the proposal is remarkably similar. Here’s how it was described in the campaign’s white paper.  The Obama-Biden plan provides new affordable health insurance options by: (1) guaranteeing eligibility for all health insurance plans; (2) creating a National Health Insurance Exchange to help Americans and businesses purchase private health insurance; (3) providing new tax credits to families who can’t afford health insurance and to small businesses with a new Small Business Health Tax Credit; (4) requiring all large employers to contribute towards health coverage for their employees or towards the cost of the public plan; (5) requiring all children have health care coverage; (5) expanding eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs; and (6) allowing flexibility for state health reform plans.



Republicans and Health Care Reform

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 1:22 am

Given that the Republicans are making a lot noise about the proposed health care reform, I felt it was important to document a few key items related to the Republicans participation in this debate.

1.) The current health care reform legislation has many Republican ideas.  First, it does not contain a public option and it is a private market plan.  Second, it also allows states the tools to create their own innovative reforms to lower costs.  See the rest of the linked article for more. 

2.) The Republican party believes that its future viability as a party rests on the healthcare legislation failing.  Therefore, it has been the party of NO when it comes this legislation.  Here is a money quote from Andrew Pavelyev:

“The only thing I can think of that does not violate any conservative principles articulated by various conservative spokesmen over the past couple of years is to do nothing (as far as the government is concerned) and hope that some private charity will pick up the tab. This approach might actually work (and in an ideal world I would in fact prefer it). But the inconvenient (for the purists) fact is that in the here and now we have to sell this (or any other) approach to the majority of voters. I’m afraid that as the number of people struggling with expensive chronic conditions grows, the “let them beg” answer is not only going to be unacceptable to a significant number of independents, but also even to significant segments of the Republican base, such as many evangelicals who are primarily motivated by social conservatism but are not very keen on free markets and are in fact quite sympathetic to “compassionate conservatism” (Exhibit A: Mike Huckabee). And, of course, if Republicans don’t offer convincing answers, the voters will turn to the Democrats.”


Does Health Reform Do Anything About Costs? December 7, 2009

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 5:29 am

See this article for the latest about what Obama is doing to push the healthcare legislation

Also, as many of you know, I have criticized the legislation for not doing enough with costs.  However, this article made me realize a few items about the legislation that I had not read.  This article is a great read about how the current legislation could curtail costs.  Here are a few key points:

 – The Senate bill “maintains the two powerful institutions the Finance legislation proposed to promote these reforms and develop new ones. The one that’s attracted the most attention is an independent “Medicare Advisory Board.” Under the Senate bill, that board would be required to offer cost-saving proposals when Medicare spending rises too fast; Congress could not reject its proposals without substituting equivalent savings. Since the board would be prohibited from offering changes that raise taxes or “ration care,” and since the legislation initially exempts hospitals from its recommendations, it could choose to promote the sort of payment reforms the bill establishes. (More prosaically it might also clear away some of the expensive coverage mandates that Congress imposes on Medicare under pressure from different elements of the medical industry).

 – The bill also creates “a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in the Health and Human Services Department. Though this center has received much less attention than the Medicare Commission, it could have a comparable effect. It would receive $1 billion annually to test payment reforms; in a little known provision, the bill authorizes the HHS Secretary to implement nationwide, without any congressional action, any reform that department actuaries certify will reduce long-term spending. While the House bill omitted the Medicare Commission (a top priority for Obama) it included the innovation center.”


Should We Recharacterize the Healthcare Debate? November 15, 2009

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 9:56 pm

One final item for this week’s posting . . . we keep talking about the most recent debate as healthcare reform.  I really think that it is time that we called this debate healthcare coverage/insurance reform.  This debate is doing very little to address healthcare waste (hat tip: NV).  Here are  a few key points:

1.) Unnecessary care such as the overuse of antibiotics and lab tests to protect against malpractice exposure makes up 37 percent of healthcare waste or $200 to $300 billion a year.

2.) Fraud makes up 22 percent of healthcare waste, or up to $200 billion a year in fraudulent Medicare claims, kickbacks for referrals for unnecessary services and other scams.

So, while I am encouraged by the fact that more people may have coverage, let’s not kid ourselves that this recent legislation will solve all things.


The Current State of the Healthcare Debate

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 9:30 pm

So – are you confused about the current state of the healthcare debate?  If you only read one link from this blog, read this one.  It summarizes the current state of the healthcare debate quite well.  Here are the key questions it answers:

1.) What does the Stupak amendment mean?  Does it affect abortion rights? (Note: I believe that it does.  I think the amendment was intended to keep the status quo, i.e. no federal funding for abortions.  However, it goes much farther (read #2 in the linked article above).  One other interesting note . . . the Republican National Committee’s insurance plan covers abortion – the hypocrisy! )

2.) What will the public option be (if anything)?

3.) What happens next?


Healthcare: The House Vote – The No Dems and The Yes Republican

Filed under: Healthcare Reform — Larry E. Stuckey II @ 9:15 pm

As I am sure many are aware by now, healthcare reform passed the House of Representatives.  One of the big pieces of political news with this passage was that 39 Democrats did not support the bill.  Here is an interesting fact about these Democrats – 31 of 39 are in districts where John McCain won in 2009.  See further analysis at the NY Times.

Now – let’s talk about this one Republican.  While it took me awhile to come to terms with the cost of this bill, I have ultimately been moved by the moral cause for healthcare reform.  See this listing of individual stories for where the current system is just failing.  Anyway, the lone Republican YES vote, I believe said it best:

“I read the versions of the House [health reform] bill.  I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding – if they are able to obtain health care at all.  Louisianans needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children.  I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people.  My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents.”