Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Health care reform gonna kill your grandma.

Here's a WTF story from TPM that outlines the new GOP tack in opposing any and all health care reform.

So far, GOP opposition has centered on government taking over 1/6 of the economy, bureaucrats deciding your treatment, it'll bankrupt us, etc. All worthwhile debates. As long as you're talking theoretically about some unimagined Eden and not the insurance-plagued present we have now.

But, the truth has never held back a Republican hell-bent on winning an argument, so here we have John Boehner (R-ManTan) getting all weepy over a section of the mean ole Demoncrats' bill that says we'll have to off granny because she's using up too much health care.

This has been repeated by reliable spokespeople like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, the same people who repeated the story that the health care bill would make private health insurance illegal until it was pointed out that it didn't.

Here's their concern, as voiced by Mr. Boehner:

"Section 1233 of the House-drafted legislation encourages health care providers to provide their Medicare patients with counseling on ‘the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration’ and other end of life treatments."

"This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government-encouraged euthanasia if enacted into law."

Except that it won't, any more than current doctor/patient discussions about heroic measures, living wills and DNR directives do under our present, for-profit system.

Let's leave aside the startling news for Boehner and Limbaugh that granny is already covered by a government subsidy to the insurance companies called Medicare and consider that, if granny does have private insurance, she's far more likely to be dropped or denied coverage, meaning that she'll still die, but now she'll be leaving her family bankrupt in the bargain.

I'm all for honest and open debate on what shape our healthcare reform should take, but when assholes like these start tossing up boogeymen to scare the masses, then I despair that any progress will ever be made.

Weasels. Fucking weasels.

To be fair, there is more thoughtful opposition to national healthcare, as voiced by Megan McArdle in the Atlantic.

I find her logic skewed and her assumptions wrong, but at least she tries.
For instance, she weighs in sarcastically on the granny question:
"Of course, the obese aren't the only troublesome bunch. The elderly are also wasting a lot of our hard earned money with their stupid "last six months" end-of-life care. Eliminating this waste is almost entirely the concern of men under 45 or 50, and women under 25. On the other hand, that describes a lot of the healthcare bureaucracy, especially in public health."

Except that she's wrong. Old men like me are concerned about how much money we spend on that last six months. And young people have moms and dads. To snarkily dismiss people who have dedicated their lives to health care as being less sensitive than say, Rush Limbaugh, is to do them a gross disservice.

McArdle concludes:

"Once the government gets into the business of providing our health care, the government gets into the business of deciding whose life matters, and how much."

Of course, right now it's a for-profit insurance company deciding whose life matters and how much and they're making those decisions by how much you can pay and what your illness might cost.

Ms. McArdle, like all the opposition to health care reform, doesn't offer any solutions to our dilemma except to shrug and accept the status quo.

This casual default to what we have now consigns a great number of Americans to being uninsured, and those who are insured are vulnerable to the shifting whims of a company that answers only to its stockholders. This status quo means that more people will face medical bankruptcy and this great and imaginative nation will continue to pay the most and get the least.

And that's a status quo that a lot of us find unacceptable.


JD Rhoades said...

"This provision may start us down a treacherous path

Translation: "What I am about to say next is stuff that has fuck-all to do with the actual bill, but is instead shit I completely made up to scare you."

Beneath the Carolina Moon said...

I know its scary, but the truth is, I'm from the government and I'm here to help. Honest!


Charlieopera said...

It's pretty a rank attempt to scare, but I'm finding the "cost" arguments more upsetting. We've given away hundreds of billions to Wall Street (so much so, we've allowed Goldman Sachs to post record profits after paying off their TARP loans with the money we gave to AIG), we seem to have accepted the fact that we were totally lied into a war with Iraq (and remain there) and god only knows WTF we're doing in Afghanistan (I sure don't--is it to spread democracy?) and the costs for those two fiasco wars doesn't seem to end, but when it comes to giving something to the little guys (like basic health insurance), it's just too expensive?

Dave, me thinks sweet Jesus just jumped off his vespa ...

Joe Saundercook said...

I agree with Ms. McArdle's points, just like I agree with you, Dave, that she doesn't offer any solutions.

Somewhere along the way I got completely spun around and lost in this debate, so I am now turning to the Dark Planet Brain Trust (DPBT) for enlghtenment: Whatever happened to the debate on health care vouchers (That's where they tax people with extra cabbage, like me, and give vouchers to poor people so that they can buy their own insurance from a private source)? I'm okay with that. As, would be, I think, anybody who agrees that one of the true measures of a society is how it takes care of those members who can't take care of themselves.

My assumption is that it has lost steam because 1. It still means richer people give more of their money to poorer people, and 2. It's too easy to administrate, and thus, doesn't create enough jobs/money/influence for the folks who toil and lurk backstage of the legislative branch.

Am I wrong/uninformed/evil/crazy?

David Terrenoire said...


Off hand, the problem with the voucher system is that it doesn't give an option to the system that is now governed by for-profit insurance companies. The same companies who make a profit by denying rightful claims and coverage.

The biggest problem with our health care system is insurance companies. Any solution that doesn't take them out of the equation will not work.

Do me a favor. Go to Bill Moyers' Journal from 7/10 called Profits Before Patients. You can listen to the podcast and hear Congressional testimony that will illustrate what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

What sickens me most is I get yelled at every time Boehner opens his mouth and spews

Anonymous said...

Wow. That got cut off.

What I was trying to say was I get yelled at every time Boehner opens his mouth and spews forth his venom of fucktardery because he's from suburban Cincinnati and I'm from Cincinnati proper.

He's not even my congressman.

He is, however, a 20-minute drive away. I have a dog, which poops. I also shop at a store that offers paper bags. And I have several lighters, a charcoal lighter, and a box of wooden matches.

Dog poop. Paper bags. Matches. John Boehner's house 20 minutes away.

You do the math.

Joe Saundercook said...

Sorry, I wasn't clear on my voucher comment. Yes, I did see Bill Moyers' report and had already tried to find out how adult acne could be construed as a fraudulently unreported pre-existing condition (I never found out what subsequent serious medical condition acne could be an early indicator of, so I just assumed it was "General Ickiness").
And yes, I had thought through the problems inherent in ridding the system of insurers' unethical refusals to pay and/or canceling of policies. Interestingly, I was never able to get away from tighter legislation leading to insurers' ultimately requiring extensive medical screenings prior to issuing a policy -- which would drive up health costs -- and then suing the doctors who failed to diagnose any condition the insurers later decided was pre-existing -- which would also drive up costs but might provide some amusing circular legal buggery as the insurers then sold insurance policies to the doctors to protect them from those same lawsuits and had to start paying one other big settlements. The bar bills alone would probably kill somebody.
How would we fix that part? INDENTURED SERVITUDE. All lawyers on the losing side would have to provide, directly or by proxy, 6 months of indentured servitude to the losing side for every $1M they sued for. Eventually, these pending hours of servitude would be managed by national brokerage houses in publicly traded funds. (By this time, I will be living in our new pioneer settlement on Venus.)
And yet, I'm still not ready to give in to rationed health care, which is what my whole family has up in Canada. (I know every kook can find a horror story to support any viewpoint -- and I'm no different -- but mine is aat least somewhat personal.) A few years ago, they found a spot on my uncle's lung. He had to wait three months for the test that verified it was cancer and another 2-3 weeks to begin his treatment.
Did everything turn out okay? Yep.
Were they the longest, most peeing-his-pants terrifying 3 months of his life? Yep.
If he thought he could afford it, would he have jumped in the car, driven an hour south, gotten the test and begun treatment the next week in a New York hospital? You bet your sweet bippy.
I'm just not ready to let it ride on centralized government health care, but I want more info -- none of which is particularly easy to find and, once found, isn't particularly easy to understand or trust.
Why the hell did I presume to tackle a concept this complex by commenting on your blog? What the hell are you doing blogging about health care, anyway, Dave? Why don't you run something on where to get the best burger in Durham, or fantasy football or something? Damn it!