Courtney Press Conference: LIVE

Rep. Joe Courtney, other members of Congress, AARP, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are holding a press conference today at 10:00am to emphasize the importance of including language that protects patients by ending the practice of pre-existing condition exclusions in any final healthcare reform package. Rep. Courtney introduced a bill this year that would provide individuals with pre-existing conditions with access to health insurance.

We’re hoping to carry that press conference live using Livestream. You should be able to see the press conference in the embedded feed below.

NOTE: A short ad will play before the feed begins. The ad may or may not be disabled at some point today.

You can also watch at http://courtney.house.gov/live/

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25 responses to “Courtney Press Conference: LIVE

  1. So if we don’t allow insurance companies to price policies differently for preëxisting conditions, then why would anyone without a preëxisitng condition buy insurance? They could just wait until they got sick, then buy the insurance.

    The whole point of insurance is to price risk. If you don’t allow companies to price people differently based on preëxisting conditions, it’s no longer insurance. It’s just wealth redistribution.

    The only way that could enforce such a provision would be to also force everyone to buy insurance, healthy or not. Because if you don’t, only the sick people would buy insurance. That’ll of course benefit no one, as the policy prices will skyrocket.

    (If you could buy automobile insurance that would cover a wreck that you had yesterday, would you ever really buy automotive insurance, or would you just plan on buying it if you needed it and save the money until then?)

  2. You’re right, gmr. It doesn’t make sense.

    The insurance model simply doesn’t work for health care. Maybe we should stop trying to bang a square peg into a round hole and start over.

  3. (If you could buy automobile insurance that would cover a wreck that you had yesterday, would you ever really buy automotive insurance, or would you just plan on buying it if you needed it and save the money until then?)

    Yes — because the government compels you to in order to register your vehicle.

  4. Got this e-mail today from an author friend of mine, after we got into a discussion on a listserv about getting health insurance when another author’s wife who had a part-time job with health insurance found out it was going to be terminated as of the end of the school year.

    “I’m also on the health insurance merry-go-round. My husband retired at 55 last year, and despite being in very good health, both of us, we’re having a very difficult time finding insurance to buy at any price. It’s going to be very expensive when we obtain it in the end. But again, you cannot afford to NOT have it. We know we’re not alone in the leaky boat here….”

    So these are people without pre-existing conditions and they are still having a hard time finding insurance. The private only insurance model simply isn’t working. End of story.

  5. “I’m also on the health insurance merry-go-round. My husband retired at 55 last year, and despite being in very good health, both of us, we’re having a very difficult time finding insurance to buy at any price. It’s going to be very expensive when we obtain it in the end. But again, you cannot afford to NOT have it. We know we’re not alone in the leaky boat here….”

    Talk about choice: he retired at 55 and in good health. He can (a) go back to work, (b) self-insure, or (c) choose to go without insurance for the next ten years until Medicare kicks in.

    It’s stupid to re-shape public policy based on one guy, but even if it wasn’t — we shouldn’t make changes based on THAT guy.

  6. Talk about choice: he retired at 55 and in good health. He can (a) go back to work, (b) self-insure, or (c) choose to go without insurance for the next ten years until Medicare kicks in.

    I don’t know all the facts ie/ if he was given the retirement option as part of downsizing at his company. And in this economy getting another job with health insurance isn’t so easy. They are trying to self insure and are having a hard time finding anyone to insure them at any price. And would any SANE person choose option c? I don’t think so. You were criticizing the people with massive credit card debt. Hell, that’s one way to lose your entire life savings and get yourself in major debt. Go uninsured and be unfortunate enough to contract a major medical condition.

    The point is, it’s not just THAT guy. It’s people like me, who are self-employed, it’s small businesses, it’s part-time workers who don’t get health insurance benefits, it’s freelancers (and in this economy, a lot of companies want to employ people freelancers precisely because they DON’T HAVE TO PAY THEM BENEFITS).

  7. Obviously, Sarah, the fault lies with you and your husband! How dare he try to retire! 🙂

  8. The point is, it’s not just THAT guy. It’s people like me, who are self-employed, it’s small businesses, it’s part-time workers who don’t get health insurance benefits, it’s freelancers (and in this economy, a lot of companies want to employ people freelancers precisely because they DON’T HAVE TO PAY THEM BENEFITS).

    I don’t disagree with you — but nothing suggests that government is the answer, or that it could do a better job. Small businesses should be able to pool together to provide coverage as a larger group solely for insurance purposes, but there’s no need whatsoever to have the government get involved except to authorize it, and get the heck out of the way.

  9. I don’t disagree with you — but nothing suggests that government is the answer, or that it could do a better job. Small businesses should be able to pool together to provide coverage as a larger group solely for insurance purposes, but there’s no need whatsoever to have the government get involved except to authorize it, and get the heck out of the way.

    Government getting out of the way is fine for businesses, but health care, like education and roads, doesn’t work all that well as a business. It’s not a commodity, it’s a service.

    Besides, you’re telling me that the byzantine, frustrating bureaucracy of insurance companies is any better than government bureaucracy? At least we have a hope of changing the government by electing new representatives. Good luck changing an insurance company.

    The insurance system doesn’t work.

  10. Thomas Hooker

    The whole point of insurance is to price risk. If you don’t allow companies to price people differently based on preëxisting conditions, it’s no longer insurance. It’s just wealth redistribution.

    In fact, this is the core reason why we cannot continue with a health insurance system that works on this premise. What if the health companies can look into our genes and determine who will get cancer? Will the companies simply decide not to insure that person? Then will we as a society simply let that person die without treatment? Or will we force that person to spend every cent he has hoping for a cure?

    That situation is not far from our current predicament. If you’ve had a serious medical condition and lose your job, or go to another job and don’t retain your health insurance, you could be on the hook for every penny of coverage as long as you live, even if it bankrupts you. Is that civilized?

    We are the only industrialized society in the world, and one of the only industrializing countries in the world, to price health care on a for-profit basis. No one else does. Yet the WHO ranks us 38th in the world in terms of our system.

    We don’t run our military on a for-profit basis, or our police forces, or our public schools, or our flight controllers, food inspectors, or border guards. Isn’t health insurance (not doctors and medical device producers) one of those areas in which operation purely for profit just doesn’t work?

    And why can’t we apply simple economics, i.e., using economies of scale to negotiate bulk prices through the government in order to obtain reasonalble drug prices? Every other country in the industrialized world does that, and pays a fraction of the price that we pay. If the Canadian government can sit down with Pfizer and obtain prices for prescription drugs that are a third what Americans are paying, why can’t Medicare do the same?

    The writer points out that this is just “wealth distribution”. But so, too, is our entire system of government in which we all pay to support our military, police, interstate transportation system, government-run schools, border guards, air traffic control, food and drug inspection, our parks and any number of other worthy functions. And for over a century, we’ve done it with a system of graduated taxation.

    Isn’t it time to create a humane, effective system of health care?

  11. Thomas Hooker

    Obviously, Sarah, the fault lies with you and your husband! How dare he try to retire!

    Genghis, I know you meant this as a tongue in cheek comment. But I think it cuts deeper than you realize. I would recommend a quick apology to Sarah.

  12. Genghis, I know you meant this as a tongue in cheek comment. But I think it cuts deeper than you realize. I would recommend a quick apology to Sarah.

    Obviously, I meant no offense at all. Sorry if it caused any!

  13. Thomas Hooker

    The only way that could enforce such a provision would be to also force everyone to buy insurance, healthy or not. Because if you don’t, only the sick people would buy insurance. That’ll of course benefit no one, as the policy prices will skyrocket.

    Indeed, that is precisely what the rest of the world does: it forces everyone to pay his share of insurance for the society. Most of the health care dollars are spent on the elderly, not on children or young adults. So the logic is for everyone to pay in when they are healthy so that when they are sick, especially when they are frequently sick when they grow old, the young and healthy subsidize their care. That’s just the moral, humane thing to do. And it doesn’t cost much either. In today’s NYT, there is an oped about Canada’s system, which points out that the average Canadian pays just $450 per month for health insurance. Of course, those with low incomes pay less, and some who are unemployed don’t have to pay at all.

    Again, it’s fair and humane. That’s the system we need, not one that cuts out the sick, gouges the potentially sick, and rewards the young and healthy- until they become sick.

  14. Government getting out of the way is fine for businesses, but health care, like education and roads, doesn’t work all that well as a business. It’s not a commodity, it’s a service.

    Show me where, in the Constitution, it says that either education or health care are services. I’ll tell you where it talks about roads (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7). Health care isn’t a service just because Hillary Clinton says so.

    The government can limit your speed to 55 mph if you want to use their road. Can a government require you to be in good shape to join their health care system? Semi-annual workouts, no drugs/alcohol/smoking? Is that legal?

  15. Show me where, in the Constitution, it says that either education or health care are services. I’ll tell you where it talks about roads (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7). Health care isn’t a service just because Hillary Clinton says so.

    The Constitution says: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.”

    Health care = general welfare.

    The government can limit your speed to 55 mph if you want to use their road. Can a government require you to be in good shape to join their health care system? Semi-annual workouts, no drugs/alcohol/smoking? Is that legal?

    I would have thought that the whole idea of universal health care was that it’s universal. Everyone who is a citizen is a member. No exceptions.

  16. Thomas Hooker

    The government can limit your speed to 55 mph if you want to use their road. Can a government require you to be in good shape to join their health care system? Semi-annual workouts, no drugs/alcohol/smoking? Is that legal?

    That’s precisely the point: government can’t require you to be in “good shape” to join their health care system, but private insurance companies most certainly do. If you have diabetes, they won’t take you; if you’ve had a stroke, they won’t take you (read today’s NYT oped page or an example); if your child is born with a heart defect and you switch insurance, or didn’t have any to begin with, those companies won’t pay to save her life. Is that civilized?

    But the VA health care system does keep track of its patients and monitor their health and does coax them toward a healthier lifestyle and exercise and other health services that improve and prolong their lives. And the government does try to improve the nation’s health by taxing horribly deadly substances like cigarettes in order to reduce teen smoking and advertize how bad it is for you. That not only seems to make sense, but it is working- gradually.

  17. Obviously, I meant no offense at all. Sorry if it caused any!

    It might have caused offense if I HAD a husband who retired. But yeah, I supposed divorcing the guy was my bad. I shoulda stuck with the him for the health insurance! 😉

  18. And the government does try to improve the nation’s health by taxing horribly deadly substances like cigarettes in order to reduce teen smoking and advertize how bad it is for you.

    Cigarette taxes are solely intended to raise revenue from people like ACR, and they don’t work. People find a way around them, that’s how humans operate. It’s the primary principle behind the Laffer Curve: if taxes are too high, the revenue received from them will decline.

  19. And why can’t we apply simple economics, i.e., using economies of scale to negotiate bulk prices through the government in order to obtain reasonalble drug prices? Every other country in the industrialized world does that, and pays a fraction of the price that we pay. If the Canadian government can sit down with Pfizer and obtain prices for prescription drugs that are a third what Americans are paying, why can’t Medicare do the same?

    The Canadians, and other countries, free ride on the United States. For almost all medicines, once you figure out the formula, they are dirt cheap to produce (only a few medicines actually have expensive ingredients). The cost is in the R&D. Pfizer et al recover most of the money spent on R&D in the United States. When they sell to foreign countries, that’s really just gravy, so long as those pills don’t come back into the United States. Drugs have a very high fixed cost and a low variable cost. But if the US forced prices to be lower, the drug companies would not recoup their R&D expenditures, and they’d stop researching as much. This applies not only to US-based companies, but also the Swiss and other foreign companies: the US is where they make their profits from.

    Books are much the same way. We could force publishers to lower their prices. There’d still be a profit for every book sold, but authors would no longer write books…

    When Hillary Clinton wrote her book a few years ago, it retailed for over $20 in US stores. Yet it only cost $3 or $4 to print and bind. Obviously, the price difference was to pay the author. However, in India, where a lot of people speak English, a local publisher got the rights to publish the book in India. It sold the book there for about $10. That was ok with the publisher here, so long as the book was distributed only in India. If Barnes and Noble purchased books from the Indian publisher and decided to sell them in its stores for $12, I’m sure the US publisher would be in court with an injunction almost immediately.

  20. The Canadians, and other countries, free ride on the United States. For almost all medicines, once you figure out the formula, they are dirt cheap to produce (only a few medicines actually have expensive ingredients). The cost is in the R&D. Pfizer et al recover most of the money spent on R&D in the United States. When they sell to foreign countries, that’s really just gravy, so long as those pills don’t come back into the United States. Drugs have a very high fixed cost and a low variable cost. But if the US forced prices to be lower, the drug companies would not recoup their R&D expenditures, and they’d stop researching as much. This applies not only to US-based companies, but also the Swiss and other foreign companies: the US is where they make their profits from.

    This is actually a rather pernicious myth.

    One thing that is absolutely true is that a lot of research into really medically important drugs is partly or mostly taxpayer-funded anyway.

  21. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124458888993599879.html#mod=todays_us_opinion

    “But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.”

  22. wtfdnucsailor

    As we have learned in the past few years, the market is not perfect. It requires regulation, and watchdogs to make sure the regulations are followed.
    Doctors are afraid that if there is a government health plan, they will not be paid enough for their services to keep the office open much less continue to live in a style to which they have become accustomed.
    Insurance companies don’t want to lose the chance to make a profit on someone elses misfortune ( or more correctly, fortune since they make money on the healthy and not on the sick); Most of us just want to be able to see a doctor and get treated when we need it without losing our meager savings and our homes.
    I agree with GC that general welfare=healthcare.
    Opponents of universal health care say that it will ration health care and seniors will not get life saving treatment because it is not cost effective to treat them. Certainly from a cost saving point of view, it is worthwhile determining what treatments are effective and what treatments are not worth the time and money spent on them even if they have been used for decades.
    Is a government bureaucrat any worse than an insurance company bureaucrat? One system for all would certainly save $$$ and time since the local hospital and doctors office would not have to learn each company’s system as is currently the case.
    The time has come to solve the healthcare issue so that those costs can be reduced for consumers, small business and even large business.

  23. So these are people without pre-existing conditions and they are still having a hard time finding insurance. The private only insurance model simply isn’t working. End of story.

    A large part of the problem is that there isn’t much of a market for individuals to purchase insurance on their own. If insurance wasn’t tied to your employer and you purchased it individually like we do with car or home owners insurance you’d have more options at affordable prices.

    We should take the tax subsidies that employers receive to provide health insurance and transfer it to individuals to purchase insurance instead. Then you’d not only have more options, but you wouldn’t have to worry about losing insurance when you changed jobs or were without work.

  24. When my self-paid family plan approached, then exceeded my mortgage payment I sought other options and found one.

    I went from paying about 14K a year with all sorts of “perks” such as a low prescription co-pay to a catastrophic plan that paid NOTHING but kicked in once 5,000 had been spent and picked up pretty much everything from that point on up to a zillion dollars or so.

    It was 700 a year leaving me over 13K a year.
    Paying full price for everything became no big deal as I still came out way ahead.

    Further – “full price” to a cash customer I quickly learned was often a different figure than it previously had been as the industry adjusts their pricing to address the lousy percentages that insurance companies reimburse.

    Where people get the idea that all medical, every band-aid on up should be provided to them for free is beyond me.

    Don’t think I haven’t “been there” either.
    My late sister ran up over 10K a year in the 1950’s and my dad paid it all out of pocket.
    People thought, due his position with his employer that we were rich – they didn’t realize that over half his income (75% one year) was spoken for keeping my sister alive.

    With national health-care she would have died before 12, she didn’t and it was a fluke (with help from the FDA) that she did in 1971 at 26.
    The FDA’s refusal to approve the asthma inhaler for a full decade after it was in wide use everywhere else on the planet, killed my sister.

    Getting the government OUT of our health care entirely would strike me as a better idea than letting them loose so they can run amuck through the entire system and make an even bigger mess than they already have at the FDA.

    If you trust the government to do something right, and on a grand scale to boot; you’re probably in need of a mental health facility yourself!

    Britain’s largest employer is their bloated health care system, in fact the UK health care system is the 2nd largest employer in the world after the Chinese Army.

    It’s common there for cancer victims to be denied expensive treatment due to low (below 50%) odds and those citizens are instead issued pain meds only.

    If that sounds good to you – then by all means we should pursue a plan just like theirs and finish bankrupting the American taxpayer while destoying our current system.

  25. Is a government bureaucrat any worse than an insurance company bureaucrat?

    Insurance companies compete for business, albeit I would agree not hard enough – government bureaucrats don’t even answer their phones.

    It would result in a superior outcome were insurance companies to compete at the same level as cell phone providers where the battle is obvious and the results have been vastly improved coverage, service and price.

    How gov’t might impact health insurers so as to get that level of competitive battle going would seem a better question.

    hospital and doctors office would not have to learn each company’s system as is currently the case.

    Software addressed that issue some time ago, in fact several programs in Clipper, D-Base and FoxPro were on the market in the late 1980’s already, and it’s an area now ripe with competitive entries.

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