Dodd on healthcare – "must include a public option in addition to private options"

Senator Dodd has an interesting op-ed on healthcare reform in today’s New London Day. As a self-employed writer with two kids with health issues (Type 1 diabetes, etc.) I’m one of those people that the Senator refers to in his op-ed who pays as much for health insurance each month as I do for my mortgage, and who lives in fear each year at renewal time that my carrier is going to say, “Sorry, we’re not going to insure you anymore” and then I’ll end up in the state’s “loser’s pool” where I’ll pay even MORE for insurance and get even LESS coverage. (Been there before, when I moved back here from the UK, and it sucked, big time.)

So am I hot under the collar about health care reform? As that other Sarah would say, “You betcha!” I also have the benefit of having lived under a system of socialized medicine (shock! horror!) in the UK for fifteen years and you know what? Overall, it’s a heck of a lot better than what we have here PLUS you still have the option of carrying private insurance.

But enough about me. Let’s look at what’s happening here in Connecticut under the current system:

Health care costs are rising faster than our economy is growing, crushing family budgets and businesses alike. Already Americans spend 18 cents of every dollar on health care. If we continue down this path, that figure will double by 2040. This week, we learned that 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies were caused by medical problems. And today, nearly half of all home foreclosures are attributable, in part, to financial issues stemming from medical costs.
We’ve clearly reached a tipping point. Today, some 46 million Americans are without health insurance – including more than 322,000 in Connecticut; millions more have insurance that costs too much and covers too little. Meanwhile, premiums and out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families alike continue to skyrocket. Here in Connecticut, they’re up 42 percent over the last eight years alone.

My insurance premium went up 16% just in the last year, well over the rate of inflation. The year before it was close to 20%. But from Senator Dodd’s op-ed, it sounds like help might be on the way:

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will put forward a historic health care reform proposal…For me, the bottom line is that we need to preserve the ability for people to choose their own doctors, hospitals, and insurance plans. If you like what you have, you can keep it; if you don’t, you’ll finally have affordable options available to you. In my view, that must include a public health insurance option in addition to private options.
Almost equally as important, the bill must drive down costs for families, businesses and government alike. The Council of Economic Advisers just found that if we shave a mere 1.5 percent off the growth of health care costs each year, families will have thousands of extra dollars in their pockets to spend on a down payment for a first home or to send a child to college. Small businesses, which pay higher premiums than larger businesses, will have more affordable choices they need to compete and innovate. Reducing costs is absolutely essential to getting our economy back on track. Thirdly, we need to expand coverage. Eighty-six million Americans go without coverage at some point every year; millions more live in fear that they may lose their job and with it their health insurance. Failing to cover everyone costs the average family in Connecticut $700 every year…A top priority for me will be putting an end to unfair practices that make insurance unaffordable or unattainable for American families. No longer will people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition such as a heart attack, cancer, or because they were a victim of domestic violence. And the days of rescinding a policy after it has already been issued will be over.

I can only hope that there is the bipartisan political will to tackle this issue, because health care costs are crippling Democrats and Republicans alike.

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37 responses to “Dodd on healthcare – "must include a public option in addition to private options"

  1. Mr. Reality

    It’s too bad you couldn’t have gotten a sweetheart mortgae deal… that would have helped you out.

  2. Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw had a post on his blog regarding the “public option” in healthcare reform. In his opinion, the entire thing is just a dishonest method of moving the country towards a single-payer system. I would strongly recommend CTLP readers check it out.

  3. Bruce Rubenstein

    Americans should have the widest choice available for their health options and this addition of a public option provides americans a wider choice then just the private options that the Republican Party is pushing. Why do consevatives like Edpie want to limit our options? What happened to limitless freedom of choices and options so inherent in the American existance? Why must conservatives insist on a totalitarian big brother private plan limiting our freedom to choose our health options?

  4. A real health care plan, like the ones in the rest of the western industrialized nations, would be catastrophic for the GOPers. Once it is shown that government can succeed here, as it has elsewhere, their entire party platform would be blown out of the water. All they would have left would be racial attacks and those just don’t work that well anymore.
    oldswede

  5. A real health care plan, like the ones in the rest of the western industrialized nations, would be catastrophic for the GOPers. Once it is shown that government can succeed here, as it has elsewhere, their entire party platform would be blown out of the water. All they would have left would be racial attacks and those just don’t work that well anymore.oldswede

    Old— if minorities had the opportunity to a quality education and government stopped playing the victim card and allowed and encouraged people to be successful, I believe the Democrat platform would be blown out of the water.

  6. Dodd on healthcare – “must include a public option in addition to private options”

    Why? Tell us, Senator. Why must the government provide health care?

    Look what happens when you provide a public option:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,440561,00.html

    Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

    “People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”

  7. Does the Dodd supported plan have an escape hatch, an exit strategy, just in case some unforeseen consequence – deathly long waiting times for the elderly who have serious illnesses and who are more or less written off in counties that have single payer plans; in Canada the decision to operate is pretty much left in the hands of state insurance actuaries — pops up and frustrates Dodd’s purposes. Can people get their money back? If the whole noble experiment crashes, will there be a sound private insurance business to which people can return as a last resort? Or will free market insurance providers have been put out of business by federally sponsored insurance. We all recall what happened recently to the federally sponsored housing market under the Dodd-barney Frank administration. You betcha!

  8. The “public option” rhetoric is a clever reframing of the health care issue by Democrats, but it is just as intellectually dishonest as the old ones.

  9. government stopped playing the victim card and allowed and encouraged people to be successful,.

    When it comes to healthcare, I don’t think that has anything to do with it. Those charming private health insurance companies are just reaming successful self-employed people. My boyfriend – a successful self-employed entrepreneur – the kind of guy I’d think you GOPers would be courting – he just got his health insurance premium renewal today – up 18%. It’s a matter of who do you want to be more successful? The private health insurance companies or individuals and small businesses.

    The status quo is untenable.

  10. Those charming private health insurance companies are just reaming successful self-employed people.

    The government is causing much, much more financial harm to private entrepreneurs than an insurance company ever could — and if we pass “universal” health care, it will get even worse.

    Hope and change.

  11. I don’t see what the big deal is about healthcare. Dodd worked in tandem with Bernanke when the Federal Reserve printed $10 trillion for Dodd’s campaign contributors… er… uhhh… the banks.

    It seems to me that if Dodd doesn’t have the time to ask Bernanke for the names of the banks that got the $10 trillion… at least Dodd could just ask Bernanke to print $10 trillion for healthcare for everyone.

    Money grows on trees, right?

    Or… am I missing something?

  12. A real health care plan, like the ones in the rest of the western industrialized nations, …….. Once it is shown that government can succeed here, as it has elsewhere

    Oh yes, why over in the UK they simply love it!

    Hospitals infested with rats.

  13. A real health care plan, like the ones in the rest of the western industrialized nations, would be catastrophic for the GOPers.

    You mean, like, 96 percent of people in Connecticut have now? Yeah, that would really suck.

    Once it is shown that government can succeed here, as it has elsewhere, their entire party platform would be blown out of the water.

    Spend a little less time canoodling with Garrison Keillor and a little more at the Post Office, the DMV, the Social Security Administration, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Wiping Your Ass and Blowing Your Nose … and then tell me some more fables about how “government can succeed here.”

    All they would have left would be racial attacks and those just don’t work that well anymore.oldswede

    Huh?

    Unless you want to change your name to Old and Senile Swede, I think that one you can take back. No one mentioned race until you did, old timer.

  14. Bruce Rubenstein

    This move by Dodd will increase his poll numbers…..as Dodd does more of this type of sound legislation, expect his numbers to go back up….

  15. This move by Dodd will increase his poll numbers…..as Dodd does more of this type of sound legislation, expect his numbers to go back up….

    Dodd’s probem is, once you lose your credibility, it is difficult to get it back.

  16. When it comes to healthcare, I don’t think that has anything to do with it. Those charming private health insurance companies are just reaming successful self-employed people. My boyfriend – a successful self-employed entrepreneur – the kind of guy I’d think you GOPers would be courting – he just got his health insurance premium renewal today – up 18%. It’s a matter of who do you want to be more successful? The private health insurance companies or individuals and small businesses.

    Sara, you and I are in 100% agreement on private insurance jacking up their rates. 18% increases is absurd and unsustainable. How to fix it is another issue.

    I am pleased to hear that your boyfriend is a successful entrepreneur. GOPers like hearing success stories and want everyone to be able to reach their dreams and when they do, they don’t like when government steals their hard earned money.

    So Sara, perhaps your boyfriend will change your mind and you can come back home to the GOP? When you’re ready, I will have a big hug and a smile waiting for you 🙂

  17. Sara, you and I are in 100% agreement on private insurance jacking up their rates. 18% increases is absurd and unsustainable. How to fix it is another issue.

    So how do you fix it without some sort of govt regulation? I have health insurance horror stories that would curl your hair. Like when I was on the “losers plan” and didn’t have a prescription plan, so I’d have to pay for the prescriptions at the pharmacy and then send in the claim to get reimbursed.. At one point, United Frickin Healthcare owed me over $10,000 in prescription reimbursements. They kept “losing” my claims. Not kidding, there there some claims I had to send them FOUR times. It wasn’t until I wrote to the Chairman of UHC with copies to my Congressman and Senator that mysteriously I started getting checks back from these shysters.

    Oh yeah, and then there was the time when in their infinite wisdom they decided that my son with Aspergers, who had already shown signs of major depression and was coping with being seriously bullied at school and his parents going through a 3 1/2 year divorce NO LONGER REQUIRED THERAPY.

    Forgive me ACR, but I lived in the UK for 15 years and your one story about rats in one hospital is not going to persuade me that the care I received there is FAR superior to the system I have to fight here.

  18. Sara… maybe I missed something.

    Chris Dodd and his buddies printed $10 trillion for the banks. He should now do that for the healthcare industry.

    It seems simple to me.

    Am I missing something? Or maybe we’re just not supposed to talk about Dodd and his bankster buddies?

  19. Forgive me ACR, but I lived in the UK for 15 years and your one story about rats in one hospital is not going to persuade me that the care I received there is FAR superior to the system I have to fight here.

    I’m not saying that your story doesn’t suck. It does.

    I am saying that the United States Government cannot do health care better than United Health Care, and the Democrats who suggest otherwise are only setting up the general public for failure (as usual).

  20. So how do you fix it without some sort of govt regulation? I have health insurance horror stories that would curl your hair. Like when I was on the “losers plan” and didn’t have a prescription plan, so I’d have to pay for the prescriptions at the pharmacy and then send in the claim to get reimbursed.. At one point, United Frickin Healthcare owed me over $10,000 in prescription reimbursements. They kept “losing” my claims. Not kidding, there there some claims I had to send them FOUR times. It wasn’t until I wrote to the Chairman of UHC with copies to my Congressman and Senator that mysteriously I started getting checks back from these shysters.

    Sara, if I had the simple solution to healthcare, I would be the Republican nominee for President and you would probably be working for my campaign. Some obvious issues that run up the cost of healthcare imho:

    1.As long as somebody else pays for your insurance the price of healthcare will not go down. ex. A few sniffles and a run to the Doctor because what the hell, I have insurance. Maybe if I had to pay the first $25 out of pocket I would make sure I really needed to go.

    2. Trail lawyers run up the cost and force Doc’s to practice defensive medicine. For example, mom takes little Johnnie to the Doc and says he has a tummy ache. The Doc sends little Johnnie for some expensive testing procedure because they can’t risk the 1 in a billion chance the kid has a more serious problem and some trial lawyer will be ready to pull the Docs pants down and spank um in a court of law.

    Again, as long as somebody else pays, rates will go out of sight for the rest of us.

    Are there extreme cases in which doesn’t work for every single person ? Sure, but it would go a long way in bringing down the cost for most of us.

  21. Thomas Hooker

    I read the Mankiw comment and it doesn’t make sense. First, let’s keep in mind that Republicans have opposed national health insurance because they allege that it takes away choice from health care consumers. So the Democrats have called Republicans’ bluff: they’ve proposed giving Americans even more choice\- private sector and public sector insurance plans. Furthermore, they’ve also called the Republicans’ bluff on the charge that a government plan would result in inefficiencies and bad medical service. So the Democrats are proposing a competition between public and private. If the public plan is inefficient and results in bad service, Americans can go to the private insurance plans. But Republicans know darn well that the government plan will turn out to be cheaper, offer as much choice of doctors, if not more, and match health care outcomes. That’s why they’re up in arms. A competition will result in the driving out of the private plans that are destroying both doctors and Americans’ health.

    Furthermore, in opposing the Democrats’ plan to open up the state’s health insurance system to small businesses, Republican minority leader John McKinney dredged up what he called horror stories about the terrible health care system in Canada. His stories appear to have been bunk. Read this post that debunks the myths about Canada’s health care system. They operate with just 1% overhead, compared with over 30% for private insurance plans in the U.S. And though McKinney came up with a story about a cancer patient who couldn’t get treated for eight months, in fact cancer treatment and survival appears better in Canada than in America.

    It is important that we look at the facts and that we not rely on myths in this debate.

  22. 1.As long as somebody else pays for your insurance the price of healthcare will not go down. ex. A few sniffles and a run to the Doctor because what the hell, I have insurance. Maybe if I had to pay the first $25 out of pocket I would make sure I really needed to go.

    Wait, doesn’t that happen already? I wouldn’t know since I pay (through the fricking NOSE) for my insurance already. AND I pay anywhere from $20 – $40 per visit depending on if the doctor is in network or out of network on top of my exorbitant monthly premium. So yeah, I put off going to the doctor unless I think it’s really necessary. But don’t people who get their insurance through their jobs have to do that too?

    If not, maybe I should just give up this writing gig and go back to Wall Street, even though I hated it. Oh wait, but there probably aren’t any jobs. Damn.

  23. Sara, you are right about the Wall Street job market. I do have some friends there and it is not pretty. On healthcare, I am suggesting higher copays whether it be in prescription copays and or doctor visit copays. For example, state employees were paying $3 for generic drugs and $6 for brand name. That is going up to $5 & $10. What do you pay?

  24. Republicans have opposed national health insurance because they allege that it takes away choice from health care consumers. So the Democrats have called Republicans’ bluff: they’ve proposed giving Americans even more choice\- private sector and public sector insurance plans.

    No. That’s not true. You are dead wrong if you think that government health care adds choice. It takes away choice, which is exactly what happened in Hawaii. The system was overwhelmed by people who thought, “free health care!” and left the plans they could afford. The state’s plan went bankrupt, and it was dumped.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,440561,00.html

    This will happen on a national scale, and Americans will lose choice in their health care plans.

    Furthermore, they’ve also called the Republicans’ bluff on the charge that a government plan would result in inefficiencies and bad medical service. So the Democrats are proposing a competition between public and private. If the public plan is inefficient and results in bad service, Americans can go to the private insurance plans.

    Wrong again, for the reasons above, and take a look at Massachusetts, too.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/05/28/more_mass_residents_report_trouble_paying_medical_bills/

    “The survey of roughly 4,000 adults found that, after seeing initial gains in affordability, an increasing percentage of residents are now reporting problems paying medical bills. It also found that a rising number of residents, especially those with lower incomes, are reporting that they did not get needed care because of costs, which are rising faster than inflation.”

    But Republicans know darn well that the government plan will turn out to be cheaper, offer as much choice of doctors, if not more, and match health care outcomes.

    What, exactly, and with specific references, gives you faith that the federal government can run a health care system?

    That’s why they’re up in arms. A competition will result in the driving out of the private plans that are destroying both doctors and Americans’ health.

    How are private health care plans destroying “both doctors and Americans’ health”? Again, use facts, not Howard Dean’s screeching and moaning. It sounds like you’re just making this up.

    Once you’ve realized that public health care is a far worse option than private health care, I hope you also realize that there’s no way to pay for this, too.

  25. On healthcare, I am suggesting higher copays whether it be in prescription copays and or doctor visit copays. For example, state employees were paying $3 for generic drugs and $6 for brand name. That is going up to $5 & $10. What do you pay?

    Hah! My LOWEST copay on prescriptions for generic is $10. For regular prescriptions it’s $25. For the top tier meds it’s $40. Recently I started ordering from the mail order place (recommended by my insurer) where you get a three month supply for a two month copay, in order to save money. The problem then is that the schmuck UPS delivery guy delivered my daughter’s 3 month supply of insulin and just plonked it by the front door without bothering to ring the doorbell, so it sat on the front step in the heat for several hours even though I was home working all that time. But the time I went out later that afternoon, all the ice packs had melted. So now I have to worry if three months worth of insulin is denatured.

    So if you figure this on top of the $20/$30 visit copays and over $2,000 per month premium for one woman and two kids, do you understand why I miss the good old National Health Service?

  26. Thomas Hooker

    No. That’s not true. You are dead wrong if you think that government health care adds choice. It takes away choice, which is exactly what happened in Hawaii. The system was overwhelmed by people who thought, “free health care!” and left the plans they could afford. The state’s plan went bankrupt, and it was dumped.

    Wait a minute! You just wrote that the people of Hawaii “chose” the public plan over the private plan! They exercised “choice”. Now I’m not sure what happened with Hawaii’s plan, or how it was financed. But if the people of that state opted for a public plan, isn’t that what “choice” is all about?

  27. Thomas Hooker

    What, exactly, and with specific references, gives you faith that the federal government can run a health care system?

    OK! Let’s look at the facts. Nearly every country in the developed world utilizes some form of government health insurance, covers every single one of its citizens, and does it for far less than we are paying to cover just 85% of our citizens. WHO rates the French health care system as the best in the world, and every single person there is covered under the state’s social security system of state-provided health insurance. A quarter of France’s health care expenditures come from health insurance plans from the “private sector” that give extras to those enrolled. But half of those “private plans” are in fact non-profit companies. Canada covers every single Canadian for 10% of GDP, while we provide coverage for only 85% at over 17% of GDP.

    And let me point out that every single American at the age of 65 and over is covered by- wait for it!- government-provided single-payer health insurance- Medicare! Every single American! Indeed, when Taiwan went scouring the world for the best system of health care, they adopted America’s Medicare system. But they adopted the original medicare system, not the perverted system that George Bush created, which pays private companies a 15% subsidy to siphon off the healthiest seniors from the system, leaving the sickest in the government-run Medicare system, thereby diverting premiums to private companies (and profits), while sticking the government with declining revenues and increasing costs. That is going to stop under Obama.

    Let’s also keep in mind that the Veterans’ Administration’s health care system has been named the best health care system in America! Again, a government-run system. Let’s also keep in mind a few more facts. Today barely three in five Americans under the age of 65 receive health insurance through their employers. And that percentage has been falling relentlessly for years. Another fact: today some two in five of all Americans receive their health insurance from a government entity, either Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, active duty military, S-CHIP, or some other public entity.

    One more thing to consider: Are the people of any other country in the world with government-run health care clamoring for their government to adopt America’s private-sector system? Absolutely not. People in other countries cannot understand why we insist on maintaining our current system, and are horrified at the thought of being thrown into a system like ours.

    One more point: Medicare spends barely 2% of its total expenditures on overhead. The figure for the private sector is estimated between 23% and 31%. Wouldn’t you want to a system that directs 98 cents of every dollar of premiums to actual health care, rather than admin and profits? Isn’t that common sense?

  28. Thomas Hooker

    How are private health care plans destroying “both doctors and Americans’ health”? Again, use facts, not Howard Dean’s screeching and moaning. It sounds like you’re just making this up.

    OK, let’s look at facts. A study by the Institute of Medicine found that in 2000 18,000 Americans had died due to complications resulting from a lack of health insurance. The study also found that “uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than adults with private health insurance.” Furthermore, the Urban Institute “reported that at least 22,000 adults died in 2006 due to a lack of health insurance.”

    Here’s another fact for you, which helps debunk the notion that government-run health insurance can’t work. A 2006 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that, on average, English people are much healthier than Americans are; they suffer from lower rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, lung disease, and cancer. According to the study’s press release, the differences are vast enough that “those in the top education and income level in the U.S. had similar rates of diabetes and heart disease as those in the bottom education and income level in Great Britain.” See how our current system is harming Americans, not helping Americans? Keep in mind that Britain’s is a system of socialized medicine. They cover 100% of all citizens, and do it for half of what we spend as a percentage of GDP.

    Now those are just a few facts, not “screeching and moaning”. And you can check those studies to see that I’m not “just making this up.” Please do check the sources. Again, if we look at the facts, this country will embrace a public health insurance option made available to all Americans.

  29. Thomas Hooker

    Once you’ve realized that public health care is a far worse option than private health care, I hope you also realize that there’s no way to pay for this, too.

    You write that a public health care option is far worse than private health care. I suggest that you take a look at this summary of the French system before you dismiss public health insurance”

    France

    “It’s a common lament among health-policy wonks that the world’s best health-care system resides in a country Americans are particularly loath to learn from. Yet France’s system is hard to beat. Where Canada’s system has a high floor and a low ceiling, France’s has a high floor and no ceiling. The government provides basic insurance for all citizens, albeit with relatively robust co-pays, and then encourages the population to also purchase supplementary insurance — which 86 percent do, most of them through employers, with the poor being subsidized by the state. This allows for as high a level of care as an individual is willing to pay for, and may help explain why waiting lines are nearly unknown in France.

    “France’s system is further prized for its high level of choice and responsiveness — attributes that led the World Health Organization to rank it the finest in the world (America’s system came in at No. 37, between Costa Rica and Slovenia). The French can see any doctor or specialist they want, at any time they want, as many times as they want, no referrals or permissions needed. The French hospital system is similarly open. About 65 percent of the nation’s hospital beds are public, but individuals can seek care at any hospital they want, public or private, and receive the same reimbursement rate no matter its status. Given all this, the French utilize more care than Americans do, averaging six physician visits a year to our 2.8, and they spend more time in the hospital as well. Yet they still manage to spend half per capita than we do, largely due to lower prices and a focus on preventive care.

    “That focus is abetted by the French system’s innovative response to one of the trickier problems bedeviling health-policy experts: an economic concept called “moral hazard.” Moral hazard describes people’s tendency to overuse goods or services that offer more marginal benefit without a proportionate marginal cost. Translated into English, you eat more at a buffet because the refills are free, and you use more health care because insurers generally make you pay up front in premiums, rather than at the point of care. The obvious solution is to shift more of the cost away from premiums and into co-pays or deductibles, thus increasing the sensitivity of consumers to the real cost of each unit of care they purchase.”

  30. Thomas Hooker

    Sorry, I cut off the part about co-pays and how the French deal with “moral hazard”. Here it is:

    “This has been the preferred solution of the right, which has argued for a move toward high-deductible care, in which individuals bear more financial risk and vulnerability. As the thinking goes, this increased exposure to the economic consequences of purchasing care will create savvier health-care consumers, and individuals will use less unnecessary care and demand better prices for what they do use.

    “Problem is, studies show that individuals are pretty bad at distinguishing necessary care from unnecessary care, and so they tend to cut down on mundane-but-important things like hypertension medicine, which leads to far costlier complications. Moreover, many health problems don’t lend themselves to bargain shopping. It’s a little tricky to try to negotiate prices from an ambulance gurney.

    “A wiser approach is to seek to separate cost-effective care from unproven treatments, and align the financial incentives to encourage the former and discourage the latter. The French have addressed this by creating what amounts to a tiered system for treatment reimbursement. As Jonathan Cohn explains in his new book, Sick:

    In order to prevent cost sharing from penalizing people with serious medical problems — the way Health Savings Accounts threaten to do — the [French] government limits every individual’s out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, the government has identified thirty chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, for which there is usually no cost sharing, in order to make sure people don’t skimp on preventive care that might head off future complications.

    “The French do the same for pharmaceuticals, which are grouped into one of three classes and reimbursed at 35 percent, 65 percent, or 100 percent of cost, depending on whether data show their use to be cost effective. It’s a wise straddle of a tricky problem, and one that other nations would do well to emulate. ”

    See? Time and again the facts show us that our system of private insurance falls woefully short of public systems in other countries. It’s time for a major change.

  31. Let’s also keep in mind that the Veterans’ Administration’s health care system has been named the best health care system in America! Again, a government-run system. Let’s also keep in mind a few more facts. Today barely three in five Americans under the age of 65 receive health insurance through their employers. And that percentage has been falling relentlessly for years. Another fact: today some two in five of all Americans receive their health insurance from a government entity, either Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, active duty military, S-CHIP, or some other public entity.

    I’m too busy to reject each of the silly things you’ve suggested, but I’ll say that if you think the Veterans Administration is the best health care system in America, you either (a) have never received VA health care, or (b) have never received anything other than VA health care. As a veteran, and someone who has received care under Socialized medicine from both the military and the VA, I can tell you without hesitation that you don’t know what on Earth you’re talking about, and if VA health care is the bag of crap you’re trying to sell the United States of America in the name of “improved” health care, God help us all.

  32. Thomas Hooker

    I’m too busy to reject each of the silly things you’ve suggested, but I’ll say that if you think the Veterans Administration is the best health care system in America, you either (a) have never received VA health care, or (b) have never received anything other than VA health care. As a veteran, and someone who has received care under Socialized medicine from both the military and the VA, I can tell you without hesitation that you don’t know what on Earth you’re talking about, and if VA health care is the bag of crap you’re trying to sell the United States of America in the name of “improved” health care, God help us all.

    Once again, let’s look at the facts and go to specific references. I am quoting an article by Phillip Longman. First, it makes sense to read Longman’s opening sentence, which suggests that things have changed dramatically since you received care from the VA:

    “Ten years ago, veterans hospitals were dangerous, dirty, and scandal-ridden. Today, they’re producing the highest quality care in the country. Their turnaround points the way toward solving America’s health-care crisis.”

    Here’s just a bit more explaining how things changed at the VA (under teh Clinton administration) and how the system ranks today. It’s a very long essay, which I think you will be very interested in reading. But please do read every word before you suggest that what I’ve written here is “silly”:

    “Yet here’s a curious fact that few conservatives or liberals know. Who do you think receives higher-quality health care. Medicare patients who are free to pick their own doctors and specialists? Or aging veterans stuck in those presumably filthy VA hospitals with their antiquated equipment, uncaring administrators, and incompetent staff? An answer came in 2003, when the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published a study that compared veterans health facilities on 11 measures of quality with fee-for-service Medicare. On all 11 measures, the quality of care in veterans facilities proved to be “significantly better.”

    “Here’s another curious fact. The Annals of Internal Medicine recently published a study that compared veterans health facilities with commercial managed-care systems in their treatment of diabetes patients. In seven out of seven measures of quality, the VA provided better care.

    “It gets stranger. Pushed by large employers who are eager to know what they are buying when they purchase health care for their employees, an outfit called the National Committee for Quality Assurance today ranks health-care plans on 17 different performance measures. These include how well the plans manage high blood pressure or how precisely they adhere to standard protocols of evidence-based medicine such as prescribing beta blockers for patients recovering from a heart attack. Winning NCQA’s seal of approval is the gold standard in the health-care industry. And who do you suppose this year’s winner is: Johns Hopkins? Mayo Clinic? Massachusetts General? Nope. In every single category, the VHA system outperforms the highest rated non-VHA hospitals.”

    Once again, prestigious journals, the WHO, and patients say that our system needs to change, and point to a publicly run system as far superior to our current private system.

  33. Thomas Hooker

    Sorry, Jack, but my long entries detailing just how efficient the VA now is have been flagged as “awaiting moderation”, though there’s nothing untoward in the language. I hope it gets listed soon and you can judge for yourself from the sources I’ve quoted just how much the VA has changed.

  34. Sorry, Jack, but my long entries detailing just how efficient the VA now is have been flagged as “awaiting moderation”, though there’s nothing untoward in the language. I hope it gets listed soon and you can judge for yourself from the sources I’ve quoted just how much the VA has changed.

    I promise I’ll read it. I also promise that no study could convince me, or any veteran who has had something other than military or VA healthcare, that the military or VA is better or “more efficient” (an adjective that can be twisted and turned in a variety of different ways) at providing private health care.

    Once again, let’s look at the facts and go to specific references. I am quoting an article by Phillip Longman. First, it makes sense to read Longman’s opening sentence, which suggests that things have changed dramatically since you received care from the VA:

    Once again, let’s look at the facts and go to specific references. I am quoting an article by Phillip Longman. First, it makes sense to read Longman’s opening sentence, which suggests that things have changed dramatically since you received care from the VA:

  35. Thomas Hooker

    I promise I’ll read it. I also promise that no study could convince me, or any veteran who has had something other than military or VA healthcare, that the military or VA is better or “more efficient” (an adjective that can be twisted and turned in a variety of different ways) at providing private health care.

    Sorry that the link didn’t work. I’m trying it again here. It’s worth the read, and it does detail how dramatically the system’s care has improved. But you’re probably a good judge of the care you’re receiving from them now, right?

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0501.longman.html

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