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In Colorado, a Sizable Schism on Health-Care Reform

By Dan Balz
WINDSOR, Colo. -- The town hall meeting began with angry protests over an absent congresswoman and a near-confrontation between two men sharply divided over the state of the nation's health-care system. It ended nearly two hours later, with nothing close to a consensus and the challenges for President Obama all the more evident.

The meeting came just as the White House was announcing that Obama will speak to a joint session of Congress next week. The speech is an effort to seize control of a debate that has been sliding away from the president for the past two months. White House officials hope the address will mark a turning point in the debate and act as a spur to Congress to pass a bill by the end of year.

Had the White House sent emissaries to the Windsor Recreation Center on Wednesday afternoon, they would have come away with a deeper belief that the American system of health care is badly in need of repair. From the stories told by those in the audience, there is nothing equitable in the capricious way the current insurance system treats people with similar diseases.

But those White House officials, had they been in Windsor, might also have emerged with something bordering on despair at the schism that now exists over an issue that touches everyone as personally as health care. As one man in the audience put it, without any hyperbole, health care is "probably the most divisive issue in this country since the Vietnam War."

In Windsor, as at many of the town halls this summer, opponents of the bills in Congress far outnumbered supporters. Their criticisms combined opposition to Obama's agenda, worry about how changes might affect their own health care, confusion over exactly what is in the legislation and hostility toward what they see as government encroachment on their freedoms.

A registered nurse charged that there would be "legal genocide" if health care passes -- and questioned whether Obama was born in America. Other opponents complained of the loss of individual freedom inherent in the reforms. There were angry denunciations of the drain on the system from "illegal aliens." There was criticism of Obama as a president who has brought communists into his administration. And throughout the nearly two hours there were repeated expressions of distrust of the government.

Rep. Betsy Markey, a first-term Democrat in what has been a reliably Republican district, was supposed to be at the meeting, but at that last minute was unable to attend. In her place, two aides acted as spear catchers as they skillfully guided the discussion and kept the conversation generally civil, if not always calm.

When one member of the audience asked Markey's district director, Ken Bennett, what he would report back from the meeting, he said, among other things, the sense of fear people have about changes in the system.

"It's not fear that we have," Nancy Winters told him. "It's mistrust. Don't tell her we're afraid. We don't trust them. There is an agenda with this administration."

But supporters of reforming the system, while outnumbered, were not shy in arguing for change. Paul Hill said his wife is a breast cancer survivor, but told the others she was fired from her job at a small business because the premiums for her insurance became more than the company could bear. "You're being conned by the insurance industry," he said.

Ellen Wheeler told the audience her daughter suffers from a disease and that if her daughter's husband loses his health insurance, "They will be destitute. It won't take any time at all. She needs something. Do you want them to be on welfare? That's not what any of us want. Talk about a government run program."

The long public debate over the legislation has hardened the lines between Democrats and Republicans, legislators and citizens alike. But two Colorado Democrats say they will return to Washington with an even greater determination to pass health care this year.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who was appointed to the Senate last January and who faces a difficult election in 2010, said, "I was committed going in but I feel more compelled on it because I've heard story after story after story of families having to endure a set of choices that nobody should have to."

Bennet favors a bill that is a "substantial departure from the status quo," not incremental change. But that bill, he said, must recognize the public's legitimate concerns about the deficit and national debt and must include provisions that will control rising health-care costs. "We need to be enormously careful about how we do it," he said.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who represents a suburban Denver district, found himself caught between two neighbors with differing views while pumping gas one morning a few weeks ago. One neighbor said he worried that Obama is trying to do too much too soon and warned against doing anything that isn't financially sound. The other, who told Perlmutter he would like to start a new business but can't move from his current job because his wife has a disease and they might not be able to afford insurance, urged rapid action.

Perlmutter said August has given him a chance to reflect on the legitimate criticisms of the pending bills. But with a daughter who has epilepsy and faces either getting no insurance or paying prohibitively high rates, he said the August break has generated a passion to act. "There is an urgency here that is a real urgency," he said, "but there is a legitimate point: if we do all this, where are the savings, how do we finance it?"

When the meeting in Windsor ended, Paul Hill came over to make one more point. "We've been too wimpy," he said of those who favor major changes in the health care system. "We've got to pump up the volume. I'm an old Sixties radical, I know how this works. And I'm raising my voice. My wife and I happen to be by circumstance kind of victimized by the void in the system. And I'm speaking out just like I used to speak out about Vietnam. Call it self-interest if you will but there has to be a lot of people in our situation."

What should the president do now? "He made a big mistake by inviting Congress to figure out how to do this," Hill said. "Take it back. Take it back and do what he did to get elected. Do the same thing for health care. The same dynamics. Take it back." But Hill sounded skeptical about where things now stand. "It's probably dead on arrival as we speak," he said, adding that what Obama should do is regroup and start over.

That is the purpose behind Obama's decision to deliver a prime-time speech next week. The president hopes to put his own imprint on the debate, which has been lacking as multiple committees in the House and Senate work on conflicting versions of the legislation. But words alone may not resolve the conflicts he faces as he enters the fall.

The Windsor meeting showed that Obama can do little at this point to mollify his harshest critics. To win this battle, he now must satisfy proponents, many of them liberal Democratic activists who are increasingly energized and hungry for him to make good on his promise of real change. But he also must reassure those in the middle, who see flaws in the current system but who worry about the cost and scale of government involvement in the changes that might be coming.

That is how August changed the health care debate.

Posted at 1:36 PM ET on Sep 3, 2009  | Category:  Dan Balz's Take
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It's not about communism; it's not about socialism; it's not about the right vs. the left, or even Democrats against Republicans. They are just spouting dogma knowing you'll bite. And, why is it Americans have such a short memory? Bush II was handed a budget surplus, a big one. He looted Social Security to pay for his deficits. How is that Obama's fault? Start thinking before you say something foolish. We will all be better off for it.

Posted by: gusnicholson
===========================================
You should take your own advice and do some research before making foolish statements.
Bill Clinton added 1.5 Trillion dollars to the deficit, not a surplus, a deficit. If you can't even get that simple fact strait why should anyone take anything you say seriously?
What gives the federal govt. the right to dictate to me what I can and can't do with my healthcare?
If you want a public option fine, the govt. should be able to offer coverage for next to nothing once you get rid of the evil insurance companys. Don't subsidize it and don't under compensate for services and the insurance companys will have little to fear, all who want it can pay cheap premiums and be happy. The rest of us will continue to pay the evil insurance company's.
With your magical abilities to transform a 1.5 Trillion deficit into a huge surplus perhaps you could become Obama's Healthcare CFO, that would take care of paying for it.

Posted by: saw1 | September 7, 2009 6:20 PM

What a disgrace that hysterics should have any influence in this debate.

This nurse is typical of the paranoiacs who riddle the right. Obama is foreign-born; Obama has an "agenda"...

Mindless, frightened, angry followers.

Posted by: dfc102 | September 6, 2009 12:32 PM

That nurse must have good healthcare already. If she does not have healthcare, I could not imagine how she could think it would be genocide if the government provided her access to one.

Posted by: Cris3 | September 6, 2009 2:04 AM

Dear President Obama,
Please forget the Right and the Far Out Right. Their stated goal is to oppose ANYTHING you do for this Country. The Silent Majority voted for you and still supports you.
Please pass Health Care Reform NOW.

Posted by: JoeNTx | September 5, 2009 11:14 PM

"In the end, you are led back to the government as the cause of the problem. If those funds taken from me for SS, MC and the like, had been invested, instead of spent...... Posted by: PDStar1"

By the way, they were invested, in about the only concern that idiots in upper level management can't put out of business or sell off without your consent, the federal Government.

Unless we let your Republicans default on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on, you will get more than every penney coming to you. Its YOUR Republican Party that has been looking for an excuse to default on the insurance policies you have been part of. The Democrats just want to make sure you get paid what you have coming. Look It UP!

Posted by: ceflynline | September 5, 2009 5:54 PM

"But let's look at this reasonably. First off, you know throwing VA into that mix is bogus. But, then again, why should someone who spent 2 years in the military, reading comic books, be entitled to VA coverage for the rest of his life." Posted by: PDStar1

We aren't, and I spent a lot more than two years, and it wasn't reading comic books. VA treats veterans with service connected disabilities, and certain other conditions. Believe me, had I had access to VA based health insurance, even if I had to pay premiums, I would have been there from the day I got my second Honorable discharge.

But you really haven't got your facts straight, or you wouldn't have written:
"Think of SS as a government run Ponzi scheme. It is legal only because it is run by the government. "

ALL insurance policies operate in a manner that permits them to pay most claims out of current receipts. The Premiums are set so that absent abnormal claims rates the company takes in sufficient extra money to pay operating expenses, pay share holders a profit, and have surplus to invest to cover those times when claims are abnormally high that they CAN'T be paid from ordinary receipts.

Social Security is different from other insurance policies in that it has a much lower overhead, a bureaucracy that doesn't have to worry about corporate profits, AND the ability to create money in those rare times (perhaps twenty five years out of its first one hundred fifty) when claims exceed receipts.

Then again:
"Then, let's talk about those other payroll deductions. Can you imagine what I could have done with all that money government took away from me, for these entitlements, and didn't even invest in something that earned interest."

Yeah, you would now be broke like all those other people who thought that the Stock Market couldn't ever LOSE money. You would have been at the mercy of the Bernie Madhoffs of this world, and recent experience shows that there are LOTS of them. So now, you’ve been putting those payments into the stock market for forty-five years and your portfolio is full of GM, CHRYSLER, WORLDCOM, ENRON, QWEST, PHARMORE and such stocks, and it would cost you a thousand dollars just to haul off your waste paper. WHAT would your response be then? You could spend the rest of your life as a WALMART greeter, and of course you wouldn't have medical insurance either.

It's a fraud that has been around since RR tried to give SS the bum's rush when he had a Republican Senate to work with. And there isn't anymore truth to it now than there was then.


But other than that your claims are just more Republican BS.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 5, 2009 5:49 PM

"Saelij, If you don't personally have a desire to enroll in the public option, then keep the healthcare you have. But, a major emphasis on Obama's plan is that your daughter should not be screened for pre exisiting conditions. Posted by: bjerome"

AND, if we have some form of competition from an Insurance company with the expenses of MEDICARE, 9an order of magnitude or so less expensive that private insurance) it benefits you since YOUR insurance company can't look around, see that it is the only game in town, and jack up your rates and/or cancel your insurance because you became too bid a risk for them. (Meaning that you are older now and more likely to file a claim.)

Still, expect Obama's speech to say that he has tried as hard as he can, but he simply cannot get the far right to come to the table in cooperation, so he intends to keep the majority of Americans happy and let the loud thirty percent of the electorate that will never assent to scream themselves (Blue or red, which is more appropriate) in the face.

The point, that a supposed protester who doubts that Obama is legally president isn't a reasonable person says it all. The primary, unprincipled, opposition to Health care reform is purely political in nature. It cares not for the truth, and cares not for the country. It only cares for the Conservative platform of the republican party.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 5, 2009 5:23 PM

The United States has the highest per capita cost (including the uninsured) for health care in the world, despite the fact that a quarter of the population is effectively without any real insurance, and another quarter would lose it immediately if they ever had to use it (since they would no longer be profitable). That situation is not going to get any better if for-profit, means-based health care remains a part of any solution. That is the real (unspoken) reason why the current health care bill, even with a public option, is expensive.

If national consensus cannot be reached, perhaps we should look again at Senator Feingold's earlier proposal to allow the states to pursue their own health care initiatives. This is the course Canada took before they went to their current system. The province of Saskatchewan was the first to try public funding of privately-run health care, and that model was so successful, it was ultimately adopted nationwide.

Despite what you might have heard, Canada does *not* have nationalized health care...rather, they have a system of private doctors and hospitals with public single payer funding. Not only that, each province runs its own universal health care system, optimized to the needs and preferences of each province. Such an approach could help the United States get past the logjam of what should or shouldn't be funded, by letting each state decide for itself.

Posted by: ZygoteSyzygy | September 4, 2009 6:31 PM

To the individual who said, "Now it's health insurance reform," instead of health care reform, it has always been about insurance. Coverage needs to be portable, non-descriminatory and reasonably available to all Americans. Right now, it's not. It's that simple. It's not about communism; it's not about socialism; it's not about the right vs. the left, or even Democrats against Republicans. They are just spouting dogma knowing you'll bite. And, why is it Americans have such a short memory? Bush II was handed a budget surplus, a big one. He looted Social Security to pay for his deficits. How is that Obama's fault? Start thinking before you say something foolish. We will all be better off for it.

Posted by: gusnicholson | September 4, 2009 6:19 PM

This administration was elected for the number one National priority of fixing a faltering economy, rising unemployment, enact policies to promote business and job growth (hello, high tech green jobs + industries where are you?), stimulate consumer confidence and spending, restore the nation to wealth and surplus.

Instead, its veered of course and entangled itself in an issue that it has NO insight and expertise in (aside from having watched the poorly researched 'SICKO' and being infatuated with foreign systems of socialized medicine).

Then hastily drawing up a 'Bill' that would do little to fix the root cause of escalating healthcare cost while adding to an already crushing national deficit; all while whipping up the media and the public into a frenzied, finger-bitting, witch-hunt of the health insurance industry. Pitting the 46 million uninsured against the 253 million insured Americans in an oversimplified, exaggerated war of 'Good vs Evil'.

Meanwhile, the same administration has shown little concern or impetus to control the cost of THREE of its existing entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which continues to hemorrhage the nation's collective savings and has been quietly acknowledged, even by the President's health secretary, to go broke by 2017.

That's quite an achievement! Swing voters like me are ready to show Democrats and their cavalier attitude about Government spending the door in 2010.

Posted by: joktu71 | September 4, 2009 3:24 PM

You are right, StevefromSacto. Obamacare (as “public option,” “co-op,” or whatever names they use to manipulate us) has NOTHING to do with improving our health care system. It's just another power grab that would further destroy our health care, destroy our economy, steal money from our children and grandchildren, multiply our deficit, and enslave us through lies, manipulation, intimidation and coercion.

Imitating Hugo Chavez, Obama wants to nationalize everything, including our health care system! "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama!" Chavez cheered on Venezuelan TV. He added that he and Cuba's Fidel Castro would now have to work harder just to keep up.
http://www.hacer.org/report/2009/06/us-obamas-red-chorus-investors-business.html

Posted by: AntonioSosa | September 4, 2009 2:57 PM

The last thing we need is another speech by Obama! The last thing we need is more of Obama's lies, manipulation, intimidation and coercion!

We know Obama LIES. Of course, in communist doublespeak, he would call his death panels, "life panels," or his government-takeover of health care "public option," but that does not change the fact that, as per the House bill http://www.jeffhead.com/HC-HouseII.pdf (pages 425-430), we would be asked to receive end-of-life (death) counseling when we turn 65.

Lies do not change Obama's pro-abortion and pro-infanticide (late-term abortion) stand, nor the aberrant eugenic stands of Obama's Health Care Czar Ezekiel Emanuel and Science Czar John Holdren.

Obama’s Health Care Czar Ezekiel Emanuel, rightfully called “Doctor Death,” would make Dr. Kervorkian proud. Dr. Emanuel has said that “Medical care should not be given to those who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.” As per Dr. Emanuel, your mother suffering from Alzheimer’s or your child diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome SHOULD NOT receive medical care. http://freedomedium.com/2009/07/barack-obama-appoints-doctor-death-as-health-care-czar/

And Obama’s "Science Czar" John Holdren has called for population-control policies such as forced abortions, mass sterilizations, and mandatory population controls. http://www.prisonplanet.com/john-holdren-obamas-science-czar-forced-abortions-and-mass-sterilization-needed-to-save-the-planet.html

Lies and manipulation do not change the fact that Obamacare is a scam that will further destroy the economy and enslave us.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | September 4, 2009 2:53 PM

If you watch cable news at all, you've seen the ads for “health care reform”, now being called “health insurance reform”. “It is an interesting subtle switch in language”. Mike Oliphant runs a small Utah health insurance website http://www.benefitsmanager.net/SelectHealth.html whom deals with people day to day struggling to find affordable coverage. “I think it’s important to not understate the huge difference in meaning between “health insurance reform” and “health care reform”. Let’s not lose focus on the need to reform a broken health care system which includes not only health insurance carriers but also billing practices of medical providers. Why isn’t TORT reform part of the national discussion? Studies show that alone could lower costs by 15% for both the medical professionals and health insurance carriers (Humana). Perhaps the federal government should take notice of what Utah has accomplished with first step of health insurance reform and promises for reform in the medical provider arena. Several interesting changes took place with the passage of H.B. 188. House Speaker Clark has championed the need for change while recognizing the experience of the private health insurance sector. To see more about this visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/utah_health_insurance/health_care_reform/prweb2614544.htm

Posted by: mikeoliphant1 | September 4, 2009 1:58 PM

If you watch cable news at all, you've seen the ads for “health care reform”, now being called “health insurance reform”. “It is an interesting subtle switch in language”. Mike Oliphant runs a small Utah health insurance website http://www.benefitsmanager.net/SelectHealth.html whom deals with people day to day struggling to find affordable coverage. “I think it’s important to not understate the huge difference in meaning between “health insurance reform” and “health care reform”. Let’s not lose focus on the need to reform a broken health care system which includes not only health insurance carriers but also billing practices of medical providers. Why isn’t TORT reform part of the national discussion? Studies show that alone could lower costs by 15% for both the medical professionals and health insurance carriers (Humana). Perhaps the federal government should take notice of what Utah has accomplished with first step of health insurance reform and promises for reform in the medical provider arena. Several interesting changes took place with the passage of H.B. 188. House Speaker Clark has championed the need for change while recognizing the experience of the private health insurance sector. To see more about this visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/utah_health_insurance/health_care_reform/prweb2614544.htm

Posted by: mikeoliphant1 | September 4, 2009 1:56 PM

Circa 1990, I attended a conference where one of the speakers, the President of the Texas Medical Center (Houston) told of a recent patient they "treated." A 16 year old girl delivered a baby who was several weeks early and severely underweight. Both mother and child were addicted to cocaine. The child required several weeks of neonatal intensive care.

As a teaching hospital, the TMC had to do all that they could to treat both mother and child. The cost to the hospital ... $1,000,000. Of course there was no insurance coverage. So guess who pays?

The president pleaded with the audience that there has to be a better way. His hospital cannot continue to expend resources in this manner.

I wonder how many other patients received lesser care because of the attention that this one case received?

Posted by: onehanded | September 4, 2009 1:32 PM

HaHaHaHa - mikem1,
Nice try guy!!
==============
"""The real problem is that Obama isn't a Republican. If he'd just change his party affiliation all would be well."""

Posted by: mikem1 | September 3, 2009 4:32 PM

Posted by: annlawler26 | September 4, 2009 2:03 AM

StevefromSacto,
Please note:

The ""least of my brothers"" include the following - elderly, handicapped, poor, my neighbor and every other law abiding american citizen....This verse was not meant to be used by you or the present socialist government officials to manipulate and bully.

You are not interested in fixing you are interested in a TAKEOVER.
=================================
“Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” Jesus, 21 A.D.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | September 3, 2009 6:23 PM

Posted by: annlawler26 | September 3, 2009 11:20 PM

1. The total of all malpractice insurance premiums amounts to 0.56% of health care costs.
2. The CBO has examined the idea of defensive medicine. They found no difference in practice between states with limits on tort settlements and those with no limits.
3. There is no correlation between the price of malpractice premiums and the amount given out in malpractice settlements.
4. The price of premiums does (anti) correlate with interests rates.
5. If you take all the money given out in malpractice settlements over $250,000 in NJ ( a state without caps) in a year and give it to physicians, each doctor would get $15.

These come from the book The Malpractice Myth by Tom Baker (U of Chicago Press)

Thus the doctors are wrong on almost every count. Malpractice premiums are not a significant factor in health costs. Physicians order unnecessary tests and treatments even when there are draconian limits on lawsuits as in Texas. Caps would save us nothing. The price they pay for insurance has nothing to do with the large settlements given out, and the total amount of money involved in these settlements is trivial. What they believe is a fantasy.

Posted by: lensch | September 3, 2009 10:29 PM

Obama's address to Congress and the nation next week will be a brazen attempt to seize the moral high ground in the health care debate.

Why?

Obama will play the “Morality Card” (and possibly the "Jesus Card" and most certainly the "Kennedy Card") because he is losing several key arguments for health care reform.

The American people are coming to the realization that PelosiObamaReidCare (PORC) would result in increased rather than decreased costs (CBO estimates are staggering); bring about lower rather than higher quality of care (“government” does not connote “quality” or “care”); limit rather than increase choice and competition; threaten rather than strengthen our foundering economy; violate rather than protect our personal privacy; raid rather than remedy Medicare; and violate rather than protect our unalienable rights.

The American people are not stupid. We are witnessing the loss of home values, frozen credit lines, the loss of savings for retirement and college education, rising unemployment, exploding deficits, mounting debt, problems at Freddie and Fannie, looming insolvencies in Medicare and Social Security, the duel threat of hyperinflation and higher interest rate to tame it, and, last but not least, our nation’s rapidly declining creditworthiness, which will inexorably hand our national security gonads to the Chinese when push comes to shove in the not too distant future.

We are all affected by some of these disturbances in our economic and national security.

The historically low approval ratings for the Congress and the President reflect a cynical distrust of government that is rooted in these dismal facts of reality.

To add insult to injury: We are all too familiar for all too long with the incompetence and uncaring attitudes of government bureaucrats.

We are reluctant to trust a government that mismanages so many things (e.g., “cash for clunkers”) to handle medical matters of life or death.

Yes, Mr. Balz, there is a schism in this country because Liberals have not convinced Conservatives, Libertarians, Independents, and many Moderates that the government can be trusted to take care of our health — much less anything else!

We must make sure that any donkeys and pink elephants who try to ram PORC down our throats have their collectivist arses larded and grassed in 2010!

When Obama tries to seize the moral high ground during his address next week, we the American people -- and hopefully a majority of our legislators in Congress -- will see right through this Alinsy-inspired effort to clothe PORC in moral terms.

Putting glossy pink or red lipstick on it won't hide this fact:

PORC is a fat, flatulent, fascist pig.

Dr. Gregory Garamoni
Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine
http://www.doctorsonstrike.com

Posted by: GLGPHD | September 3, 2009 8:23 PM

When it comes to individual health care, it seems to me that three simple concepts should be in play and taken under advisement by our lawmakers:

1. An individual's health should not be a source of profit. Why should the overall health of a society (through its individuals) be subject to market forces? I can understand the free market in things like electronics and appliances -- and I believe there should be strong, thriving, free and open markets in every kind of consumer good, from soup to nuts and cars to clothing -- but should this really be the case when it comes to health care?

2. An individual should not go broke trying to maintain their health. This ties in closely with the first concept. Why should hard working Americans go broke in staggering numbers -- estimated by some at up to 700,000 bankruptcies from health care a year -- trying to get or stay healthy?

3. An individual's health should not necessarily be tied to their employment. Why should an even more staggering number of Americans -- a lowball estimate is 45 million; keep in mind the population of the United States is currently estimated at over 300 million -- go without basic health insurance because they are unemployed or under-employed? 15 percent seems like a small number, but when it comes to health and health care, one person without coverage is one too many.

A number of people worry about "socialized medicine" coming to the United States. Those people neglect to consider that three significant groups of Americans -- the military (active duty and retired), our legislators, and seniors -- are extensive consumers of government-provided health care, through such organizations as the Veterans Administration and Medicare. Also worth consideration is the fact that, under our Constitution, our government is responsible to "promote the general welfare" of its citizens, as stated in the Preamble.

So the broad question, which is easy to ask and hard to answer, but one that needs to be asked in light of the current debate: Is America's "general welfare" being promoted under our current hodgepodge health-care system?

If your answer is "yes," then the question arises: Why are so many Americans being driven to insolvency because of health care costs, and why are so many more unemployed and underemployed without affordable health care?

If your answer is "no," then that raises another question: How do we get there from here. and what needs to be done? Our health, and our future, depends on this answer.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | September 3, 2009 8:20 PM

HEY dwdave67.....get your mouth off the bong and read.

Section 1233 (beginning on Page 424) in H.R. 3200 deals with end-of-life committees and "counseling."

This section does the following:

*

Encourages physicians to discuss end-of-life issues with their elderly patients. This includes advance directives, living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc.
*

Encourages physicians to discuss their roles as a health care proxy.
*

Encourages doctors to explain end-of-life services and supports, including palliative care and hospice.
*

Doctors must explain orders regarding life sustaining treatment, including who will be responsible for functioning as a surrogate decision-maker.
*

Requires training for health professionals on use of orders of life sustaining treatment.
*

Life-sustaining treatment can be determined by a physician, a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, as well as other health care professionals.
*

Life-sustaining treatment will be determined by: "the intensity of medical intervention if the patient is pulseless, apneic, or has serious cardiac or pulmonary problems; '(ii) the individual's desire regarding transfer to a hospital or remaining at the current care setting;'(iii) the use of antibiotics; and'(iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.'.

Posted by: ANTILIB | September 3, 2009 8:02 PM

Debate is a good thing. But the idiot who says there will be "legal genocide" and questions Obama's origin of birth is the kind of idiot leading the charge to derail reform to the delight of doctors and hospitals who forgot they duty to people long ago and the insurance and drug companies who are squeezing people dry. If someone can come up with a system that doesn't deny people coverage, not employer based, no deductables and co-pays and resists industry consolidation I will listen. Right now insurance companies are the end user of healthcare in this country and that puts ZERO pressure on prices to go down. In effect, it is a monopoly. We have no choice, we must go with whatever the employer offers us as insurance. Doctors and hospitals overcharge for care that in many cases are not needed and that has caused our healthcare costs to go through the roof. I have no trouble with the gov running our care system with competition from private companies for cures, equipment etc and have the system be centered on the relationship between the doctor and the patient and giving people the choice to use the doctor of their choice while freeing companies from the burden of paying for part of an employee's helathcare that makes US companies less competitive in the marketplace.
Lets stop the ignorance from the right and have the real debate.

Posted by: dwdave67 | September 3, 2009 7:38 PM

So the men who lead the Alternative Lifestyle with HIV/AIDS will be deprived of medicine if Obama has his way.... did you think the death panels were just for old people? HOW'S THAT HOPE AND CHANGE?!

Posted by: ANTILIB | September 3, 2009 7:30 PM

We need to stand tall and strong now for real Health Care Reform. Make the Public Option #1 denmand. It has to be critical because the Right would not be so aggressive to kill it. We can not let the small minority of Blue Dog Senators over rule the majority. We can not let Republicans dictate anything because all they want to do is kill the Health Care Reform or pressure the Democrats to wash down the bill until it is in effective. The rich keep getting richer and poor keep getting sicker. America has said no to special interest with the election of President Barack Obama and yes to the people. The Republicans are not voting for any kind of Health Care Reform so remove them from the debate. Press forward and do what is best for the people and the country pass a strong Health Care Reform Bill that has Strong Public Option, decrease costs for all everyone, decrease cost for the Government and insure every American with quality but less expensive health care. Now is the Time, this the moment to do something great for the people.

Posted by: kg4thepeople | September 3, 2009 6:54 PM

"Hitler had his brownshirt violent types, so who is suprised by Obama as another NPD Sociopathic dual profile's following ?

Posted by: dottydo "
-----
Please seek professional psychological counseling.

Posted by: JRM2 | September 3, 2009 6:53 PM


ANNUAL COMPENSATION OF HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY EXECS (2006, 2007, or 2008 figures):

• Ronald A. Williams, Chair/ CEO, Aetna Inc., $23,045,834; $24.3 million in 2008
• H. Edward Hanway, Chair/ CEO, Cigna Corp, $30.16 million
• David B. Snow, Jr, Chair/ CEO, Medco Health, $21.76 million
• Michael B. MCallister, CEO, Humana Inc, $20.06 million
• Stephen J. Hemsley, CEO, UnitedHealth Group, $13,164,529
• Angela F. Braly, President/ CEO, Wellpoint, $9,094,771; $9.8 million in 2008
• Dale B. Wolf, CEO, Coventry Health Care, $20.86 million
• Jay M. Gellert, President/ CEO, Health Net, $16.65 million
• William C. Van Faasen, Chairman, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, $3 million plus $16.4 million in retirement benefits
• Charlie Baker, President/ CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, $1.5 million
• James Roosevelt, Jr., CEO, Tufts Associated Health Plans, $1.3 million
• Raymond McCaskey, CEO, Health Care Service Corp (Blue Cross Blue Shield), $10.3 million
• Daniel P. McCartney, CEO, Healthcare Services Group, Inc, $ 1,061,513
• Daniel Loepp, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, $1,657,555
• Todd S. Farha, CEO, WellCare Health Plans, $5,270,825
• Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corp, $8,750,751
• Daniel Loepp, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, $1,657,555
• Todd S. Farha, CEO, WellCare Health Plans, $5,270,825
• Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corp, $8,750,751; $8.8 million in 2008
• James Carlson, AMERIGROUP, $5.3 million in 2008
=================================

In Las Vegas, they call this skimming...

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | September 3, 2009 6:46 PM

I have been watching and reading the cons and pros on the healthcare debates and have come away with this observation...the cons have irrational comments about communists/socialists/nazis, the Presidents hidden agenda and his birth record, killing the elderly and the infirm and the reduction of Medicare benefits. The people who advocate healthcare reform do so for compelling personal reasons. One is hypothetical and other other is realistic.

Posted by: Bonniel1 | September 3, 2009 6:35 PM

When Pres Obama admitted he did not know what was in this bill, did not know how much it would cost and then cut a secret back door deal with the major Pharma companies he lost my support.

Posted by: zendrell | September 3, 2009 6:35 PM

saelij
Just speak for yourself and those other idiots on the right.

72% of Americans want public option

YOU JUST MADE THAT CRAP UP BECAUSE EVERYONE OVER HERE IS SAYING THAT IT IS MORE HYPE THAN FACT THAT AMERICANS ARE DIVIDIED

IT'S IDIOTS LIKE YOU WHO COME WITH THOSE FANTASY STORIES

Posted by: danders5000 | September 3, 2009 6:27 PM


"Why should those who made wise choices be forced by government to carry those that didn't?" pdstar1 2009

“Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” Jesus, 21 A.D.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | September 3, 2009 6:23 PM

Bald-da-dash!
The country is not divided - The insurance company and rethugklans keep on putting this out there and the media is running away with it!

Posted by: danders5000 | September 3, 2009 6:22 PM

"Somehow I suppose America is going to socialize medicine and make it work where everyone else in the world failed. Nice dreaming."

Everyone else failed? Is that why the U.S. is 38th in infant mortality and way down in other categories, while these "failing" countries offer health care for all their citizens at half the cost of what we pay?

Total right wing b.s.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | September 3, 2009 6:15 PM

I have read and heard many misconceptions about health care reform. I was wondering about the cause based on psychology and behavior. I found some answers from Dr. Samuel Wang from Princeton. (Comments on Discover Magazine on the web.)
1. Our memory is not perfect. Its not like the hard drive on our computers.
2. Humans remember ideas and facts that reinforce our pre-conceived ideas. We tend to forget and discard facts that don't.
3. Humans have Source Amnesia. We remember facts but not where we heard it. So we don't remember whether the fact was from a credible source or not.

So we have all these facts and ideas about Health Care Reform floating around on the internet. Some are true. Some are false. People remember what they want to remember.
Also, people, in general, think that everything they read on the internet is true, which it is not.

Posted by: websmith77 | September 3, 2009 6:14 PM

Any bill that does not include tort reform is not serious about controlling medical costs.

There are a number of revenue neutral, bi-partisan bills out there. Let's call this one a dead horse and find one we can actually ride to the finish line.

1. Tort reform--show you're serious about cutting costs
2. Revenue neutral
3. "Social Usefulness" should not be defined solely on the basis of age.
4. Universal healthcare, through private insurance options with no refusal for pre-exisiting conditions or dumping of those who become ill.
5. No public option because I believe Barney Frank when he says it will lead to a single payer national option.

There are lots of special interests here. Tort lawyers, unions, those with Cadillac employer provided health care (I'm in those last two groups); plus this administration and the previous have raised the national debt to obscene levels. We cannot afford to believe the politicians when they say "Trust me." We've been burned too often by that one. In our hearts we know even the CBO certified neutral plans will cost far more than what is promised.

Posted by: Niamb | September 3, 2009 6:13 PM

Mr President,
We gave you a triple majority, i.e. presidency, senate and house. Please use those! Take on the leadership to give us a truly democratic health system bill based on universality and solidarity.

Posted by: Jacqmotte3675 | September 3, 2009 6:07 PM


ANNUAL COMPENSATION OF HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY EXECS (2006, 2007, or 2008 figures):

• Ronald A. Williams, Chair/ CEO, Aetna Inc., $23,045,834; $24.3 million in 2008
• H. Edward Hanway, Chair/ CEO, Cigna Corp, $30.16 million
• David B. Snow, Jr, Chair/ CEO, Medco Health, $21.76 million
• Michael B. MCallister, CEO, Humana Inc, $20.06 million
• Stephen J. Hemsley, CEO, UnitedHealth Group, $13,164,529
• Angela F. Braly, President/ CEO, Wellpoint, $9,094,771; $9.8 million in 2008
• Dale B. Wolf, CEO, Coventry Health Care, $20.86 million
• Jay M. Gellert, President/ CEO, Health Net, $16.65 million
• William C. Van Faasen, Chairman, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, $3 million plus $16.4 million in retirement benefits
• Charlie Baker, President/ CEO, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, $1.5 million
• James Roosevelt, Jr., CEO, Tufts Associated Health Plans, $1.3 million
• Raymond McCaskey, CEO, Health Care Service Corp (Blue Cross Blue Shield), $10.3 million
• Daniel P. McCartney, CEO, Healthcare Services Group, Inc, $ 1,061,513
• Daniel Loepp, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, $1,657,555
• Todd S. Farha, CEO, WellCare Health Plans, $5,270,825
• Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corp, $8,750,751
• Daniel Loepp, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, $1,657,555
• Todd S. Farha, CEO, WellCare Health Plans, $5,270,825
• Michael F. Neidorff, CEO, Centene Corp, $8,750,751; $8.8 million in 2008
• James Carlson, AMERIGROUP, $5.3 million in 2008
=================================

In Las Vegas, they call this skimming....

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | September 3, 2009 6:05 PM

Bush had a different approach to dissidents- he threw you out if he didn't like your tee shirt.

Posted by: steveconn1 | September 3, 2009 6:02 PM

Obamabots who are well funded and flown around the Country, via illegal use of the public dole, are not a majority.
They are however now known as CHUD-bots,as the legacy is left with their actions of actually eating people in public.

"Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller."

Hitler had his brownshirt violent types, so who is suprised by Obama as another NPD Sociopathic dual profile's following ?

Posted by: dottydo | September 3, 2009 6:02 PM

The problem with BO is that rather than focusing on problems he is focusing on enemies. Rather than treating all of us as participants/stakeholders who can help with the problem he is treating some of us as villians. Sorry but that's not the differrent tone in Washington that many centrists, such as myself, were looking for. He has completely villified an industry that employees millions of people and largely because he and the people around him either don't understand or more likely, don't caren what preexisting conditions mean for acturial, insurance or business purposes. If I wanted bravado I would have written in Dick Cheney. I thought I was getting someone smart; not someone manipulative. Millions like me will be voting a different way next time--that's probably why these silly people are in such a hurry--they know that the cat is out of the bag already for the centrists and the moderates and we will be "throwing the bums out."

Posted by: lovinliberty | September 3, 2009 6:00 PM

I have yet to see any reference to cost in terms for individual patients -- how will a new insurance plan (called anything) assist a customer / patient with the cost of health care goods and services? Doctors really do charge $500 for 10 minute (or less) conversations with client-patients. These aren't doctors to the stars, some peculiar elite group real people don't go to. This is what the middle class pays for health care. Having insurance does not make it affordable, and this is already the issue in this country.

This past week I've heard some disgruntled rumbling in the news about cardiologists who won't take any more medicare patients. Medicare patients aren't the only ones who go do cardiologists, however. Where I worked the most common need for emergency medical attention was a heart attack. No one was on medicare in this business.

The cost of prescription drugs is absurd, and so far I take only aspirin. I know this makes me an exception to the rule in this country, but this could change with age, illness, or injury. (A recent bottle of Bayer aspirin cost $10 bucks. I still think this is too high. Just plain, regular aspirin.) Medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, cancer, etc., can be quite expensive. It's really shocking. Some people take 3 prescriptions each day, and this is common with aging. Pain killers are another costly item. And they are too frequently prescribed.

We've had presidents who didn't know what something cost at the supermarket, what a bar code is, how to check out at the register. Don't be surprised if you've got a president who's never really handled medical care the way ordinary middle class Americans do. Does Barack Obama get it? No, I don't think he does, and even when told he's looking clueless, pointing out the obvious money issue (with insurance), he still remains obdurate.

Someone is taking care of Barack Obama for him. The ordinary people in this country don't have that luxury. I would like to see the cost issue addressed with health care reform. Right now this looks like a trillion-dollar efficiency package, government "make work." Nobody's really getting down to the nitty gritty here, and you'd have to wonder why.

Posted by: redd1 | September 3, 2009 6:00 PM

The mistake the Democrats made--and always make--is over estimating the intelligence of the American people. Republicans have knonw for years that the average American is an idiot and they've been successfully exploiting this ignorance for years. Someday, the Democrats will figure it out and DUMB DOWN THE MESSAGE!!

Posted by: PepperDr | September 3, 2009 5:53 PM

The democrats, their astroturfers that comment on this site and President Obama are misleading the public.

They keep referencing Medicare without mentioning the following.

1. Obama wants to cut $567 Billion from medicare.
2. Medicare is going broke to the tune of $37 Trillion. Obama and the democrats are only making it worse.

Posted by: robtr | September 3, 2009 5:50 PM

Lies and the sowing of fear will always win every argument about universal health care reform. The first effort for health care reform was in the first part of the 20th century in a bill introduced into Congress. The AMA and the Republicans were aghast and spread the lie that if health care passed, Kaiser Wilhelm would take over America. In the 1940's with President Truman's bill, the AMA and the Republicans told Americans they would get a health care system just like the Soviet Union's if Truman's bill passed. Of course, no one at that time knew anything about the Soviet Union's health care system except that it had to be bad. Clinton's attempt gave us Harry and Louise and filled Americans with a fear of big government taking over. Just like today.

These people know they're lying. And so many Americans once again believe the lies and half truths. History keeps repeating itself.

Posted by: flamingliberal | September 3, 2009 5:48 PM

Not another Prime time speech?

I know that is has been a few weeks since the last time Obama lectured the country, but I am tired of "Prime Time Barack".

Posted by: jdcw | September 3, 2009 5:47 PM

Funny that so many of those people who don't trust government to do the right thing, supported going to war (based on the flimsiest lies) as we were just starting a war with another country. They trusted government enough to not condemn torture and those who ordered it just like they trusted someone (who knows who) to wiretap citizens and mine all sorts of other private information without warrants, etc. Could it be pure partisanship that drives so many republicans to these extremes? Now they have a problem with providing health care for their fellow citizens because they don't trust government? (But don't touch Medicare or Social Security because those are somehow sacred)

Why do they hate people who are not just like them?

Posted by: philly76 | September 3, 2009 5:47 PM

The thing is, people are not that sharply divided. Problem is that conservatives are lying to their constituents. In reality, this would be one of of the best things to happen to rural america in years. Finally, something that your taxes go to that would be useful on a regular basis.

I find it amusing, and really just amazing, to see people argue against their own well being. "Don't you give me free health care for pennies on the dollar! I'd rather go bankrupt!"

Posted by: wp1123 | September 3, 2009 5:46 PM

I'm a Republican who wants the issue discussed calmly by rational people. I hate "Town Hall Crazies" (even if they are members of my party) & think they should all be given the "Barney Frank" treatment.

Posted by: biermajw | September 3, 2009 5:35 PM

It seems to me that before giving credit to town hall comments that are against health care reform, the writer of this piece should have filtered out the claims that are false and the claims that represent paranoia.

I think it wise, too, to understand that disruption of a public event is what uniformed and ideologically fixed people do. They have nothing to debate with so they shout and disrupt. Some even bring guns.

Why, oh why, must you emphasize the sensational, Mr. Balz.

Posted by: pbarnett52 | September 3, 2009 5:34 PM

Windsor is not typical of Colorado, nor even of Markey's Congressional district as a whole. It's a little rural town, predictably right-wing. When Markey came to my city, also in her district, the crowd was overwhelmingly in favor of reform. So please do not take this as any sign of how sentiment goes in her district, much less the state as a whole.

Posted by: ircirc | September 3, 2009 5:11 PM

Take the best what what all agree on and pass it.

1. make it illegal to drop people with pre existing conditions.

2. make it illegal to drop people who get sick.

3. allow insurance companies to compete across state lines, which would drop prices dramatically when 1000 companies can provide insurance to all states, rather than a handfull.

4. tort reform.

5. i would even say expand the medicaid threshold slightly so that singly mothers who bring in a certain income could qualify.

This bill could be 20 pages long instead of 1000, but the liberals as usual, think that america is more liberal than they are.

Posted by: vrbjunk | September 3, 2009 5:07 PM

This first comment is a perfect example of the confusion and contradiction reigning among citizens who can't get the real facts because of the drive-by, sensationalist, 24-hour news cycle corporate media.

Contradiction: "No one should be without coverage, but I don't want a total government option."
Fact: The majority of the country empathises with the newly unemployed and long-term disadvantaged, and agrees that those that can't find insurance should be able to obtain it. Fact: Those people will be covered by the "government" option - no for-profit corporation could afford to provide coverage to so many. Fact: Those that have private insurance, will keep and continue to use it, and will see their premiums come down, due to new competition from this very large new provider.

Short answer: Everyone has coverage, and there is not a "total" government option. This is Obama's current plan, along with three of the House committee versions. Feel better?

Contradiction: "I don't want a total government option. Obama should appoint a commission that can come up with a health care policy that all can agree on that is best for the country."
Question: What type of commission appointed by the President would not be a part of the "government"? And if it is something all can agree on, how is that not "total"? Fact: A public option would be for the general public, not those who are employed, maintaining their own private insurance.

"However, if he persists with the present approach, then I and many others will oppose him."

The President has stated that he wants to have Congress develop a plan that provides *increased competition*, which will *lower costs* (resulting in lower premiums for everyone), and *provide coverage for the uninsured*. Reducing the healthcare burden would be one of the biggest stimulus packages possible, for both individuals and corporations.

Alas, we get soundbites of screaming Paulites, Larouchians, Minutemen, and secessionists who have come out of the woodwork because there is a black family in the White House. Most of the town halls this August have been quiet, with hundreds of people worried about another year of 50% premium increases, and who want to eliminate the phrases "preexisting condition", "catastrophic illness", and "recission" (cancelling your policy) from the American lexicon, because no other industrialized country has to deal with for-profit insurance corporations sucking the lifeblood out of our fellow countrymen.

That's not socialism - that's "caring for the least among us" - a (not exclusively) Christian tenet. Why aren't the churches speaking up and helping the downtrodden, and the poor, like Jesus did?

Posted by: mhitchc | September 3, 2009 5:04 PM

Off-topic:
Obama's speech to students: Another "non-troversy" brought to you by the radical lunatic right wing faction of the Republican Party.

Posted by: JRM2 | September 3, 2009 4:53 PM

Where were the protests when the socialist Medicare drug plan was pushed thru by Bush?

The real problem is that Obama isn't a Republican. If he'd just change his party affiliation all would be well.

Posted by: mikem1 | September 3, 2009 4:32 PM
----------------

there were tons of protests you idiot. Nobody wanted that failed program either.

And there is not a broken system for 30% of Americans.

Somehow I suppose America is going to socialize medicine and make it work where everyone else in the world failed. Nice dreaming.

Posted by: unreal3 | September 3, 2009 4:52 PM

This is a classic example of why the media is failing the country in its mission to educate the populace about issues. Yes, the town halls have in some cases been rowdy free-for-alls, because the GOP and the insurance industry chose to make them so. But to claim that this shows that the country is "evenly divided" on the health care issue is flat wrong.

Every poll and survey shows that about 70 percent of the public, and even a majority of Republicans, want health reform that includes a public option, because they realize that the public option is the only effective way to reign in the insurance companies. Without it, any "reforms" such as a mandate to require people to purchase insurance (especially if the taxpayers are going to subsidize the poor in doing so) is nothing but a multi-billion dollar giveaway to the same rapacious corporations that have shown they are unable to efficiently provide health care to the nation. (It they were, we wouldn't be having this conversation.)

Posted by: alert4jsw | September 3, 2009 4:52 PM

I don't think a majority of Americans distrust this administration. I think a vocal minority of Americans -- the same folks that voted for Palin -- distrust this administration and are scared to death they're dinosaurs and don't know it.

Obama didn't make a mistake in addressing healthcare. What we're seeing is why no prior President has effectively addressed healthcare. It's because so many Americans are crazy on the issue.

In the early part of the 20th Century, lung cancer was rare. A physician could practice for his whole career without seeing a case. Then the cigarette became the predominant tobacco product in the US, and lung cancer rates mysteriously began to rise. By 1940, you would have to search to find a physician who thought cigarettes weren't linked to lung cancer.

Yet physicians knew that America wasn't ready to ban smoking. They knew that death rates would continue to rise while people in the US 'debated' the issue. Ultimately, they knew that change would have to come, whether smokers liked it or not. But they would have to wait for it.

Same thing happens here, with healthcare reform. We have a system that doesn't work at all for about 30% of Americans, many of whom are our sons and daughters. We know what has to be done. We just lack the will to do it. Or at least many of us do.

Posted by: Samson151 | September 3, 2009 4:45 PM

MESSIAH WAS NEVER COMPETENT
----------

WEIRDO ALERT!
WEIRDO ALERT!

Posted by: hayden1 | September 3, 2009 4:43 PM

The problem is with ignorant people. Yes, more people need to have end of life plans. It is like a taboo to discuss death and dying. Most people are living for the day. No thought for tomarow. Now as far as death panel palin. She served her purpose, which was to frighten senior citizens. All false information. We need a public option, that can compete with all of the big insurance companies. When you have more competition, then the prices will be kept in check. Economiclly, we will thrive better, with healthcare reform. President Obama ran on changes for America, but the old diehards want to keep things as it is. Nobody should have to lose everything they own because of an illness. So people we need to start looking forward, and leave the past behind.

Posted by: melodymg | September 3, 2009 4:38 PM

Where were the protests when the socialist Medicare drug plan was pushed thru by Bush?

The real problem is that Obama isn't a Republican. If he'd just change his party affiliation all would be well.

Posted by: mikem1 | September 3, 2009 4:32 PM

I can't understand how anyone can stick up for companies that are not selling you a product, they are gambling with your life!

Posted by: AverageJane | September 3, 2009 4:22 PM

"It's not fear that we have," Nancy Winters told him. "It's mistrust. Don't tell her we're afraid. We don't trust them. There is an agenda with this administration."

Please. It's fear. America has been reduced to a group of whiney, entitled, fearful, overweight middle aged buffoons who yell and scream on both sides of the debate, particularly the right. They are afraid: afraid they'll lose a benefit, afraid to spend, afraid to fly, afraid of being inconvenienced, afraid of hard work, afriad of people who are different, afraid to confront problems, afraid of innovation, afraid of exploration, afraid of our shadows, afriad their tool bar won't come up. The root of it is consumerism and comfort. We are psycholoically, intellectually, physically, and spirtually soft.

Posted by: RadicalGlove | September 3, 2009 4:12 PM

MESSIAH WAS NEVER COMPETENT

We told you MESSIAH was a deceiver, a money-grabber, and a Chicago thug, BEFORE the election.

Told you so.

We're NOT paying for your stupidity. That's on you.

Posted by: russpoter | September 3, 2009 4:12 PM

The health care community has no soul...it is totally obvious that according to the current medical model not treating the illnesses of anyone affects the health of the entire community. But all I hear is profit motives and exclusionary tactics. The insurance company is no friend of good coverage spending on bonuses, lobbyists, campaign contibutions, advertising and lawyers before coverage. Public national healthcare is the best way to protect from bioterrorism of all kinds, natural and manmade...

Posted by: Wildthing1 | September 3, 2009 4:08 PM

jhpbriton: So what if those with employer-privided health insurance pay most federal taxes? They have most of the wealth and income. They would pay most of the taxes under either a flat or progressive tax system.

A subsidy is a subsidy is a subsidy. It doesn't matter whether it's direct, as with farm subsidies, or indirect, as with the tax exemption for employer-provided insurance.

As for "expanding gov't on the backs of the revenue producers" is concerned, they get most of the benefits of gov't. They get the corporate welfare, the tax subsidies, and other gov't subsidies. They used the Social Security surpluses to justify their income tax cuts, during the Reagan and W administrations, even though they didn't pay FICA tax on their investment income and on most of their salaries.

And as for being productive, just how productive were all those AIG bankers who made millions during the housing bubble? How productive were the boys at Bear, Lehman, Merrill, Countrywide, IndyMac, and Wachovia?

Merely making a lot of money doesn't make you productive.

Posted by: Garak | September 3, 2009 4:07 PM

It has been said over and over that if you don't want people concerned about illegals using the health care system simply insert a requirement that citizenship status will be checked and required. But, Congress will not write in that requirement. And so, people wonder why, and think that they know why.

Posted by: rusty3 | September 3, 2009 4:00 PM

No one goes untreated in this country, so you're already paying for "socialized" medicine. The problem is that you're also paying for the executives of health insurance companies to make $100k/hour in salary and bonus. There's just something wrong with profiting from sickness and disease.

Posted by: ccs4756 | September 3, 2009 3:57 PM

Sigh!
As usual, Congress and the Administration will do whatever the Pharmaceutical and Health Providers/Health Insurance big boys want.

Same goes for equitable tax codes, SEC oversight, AND watch the Ultra Conservative Supreme Court (who stole the 2000 election for Bush) rule on SEPTEMBER 9th THAT CORPORATIONS CAN GIVE ALL THE MONEY THEY DESIRE TO POLITICIANS’ CAMPAIGNS.
Geeze! A Republic owned by the Ultra-rich.

Posted by: lufrank1 | September 3, 2009 3:49 PM

My pet monkey (Bush) pukes every time he hears that dirty word .. Republican !!

Posted by: wasaUFO | September 3, 2009 3:47 PM

The right spread enough lies to cast doubt on Obama's plan. The republicans are minions of the corporations who fund their campaigns. If we could eliminate the corporate lobbyists from the equation, the American people would be much better off.

Posted by: blarsen1 | September 3, 2009 3:46 PM

Garak

Generally, those with commercial insurance pay the LION'S share of federal tax revenues collected.

Frankly, this is just another attempt to expand government on the backs of the revenue producers. It may be for a good cause - the people who will pay for it are middle income and above.

Posted by: jhpbriton | September 3, 2009 3:45 PM

The basic problem with the proposed health care bills seems to be the distrust of this administration by a majority of Americans.
Obama's rush to pass a totally irrational and unread health care bill, raised a red flag with most people, because something as complicated as this needs to implemented in steps.
People concerned with how these bills will be funded are legitimate concerns that everyone should question, and they showed up in droves to question their representatives.
Calling for 500 Billion dollars in cuts to medicare has created a huge problem for obama and his supporters. He must rethink that approach.
Seniors need the "Senior bill of rights" that the Republicans are backing to protect them from having their coverages reduced.
There is no reason for 1000+ pages of legislative jargon being thrust on Americans if no one understands what is in these bills to start.
Obama needs to rethink this program and offer a simple transition that most people understand and can support.
A complete government take over of health care will not fly.

Posted by: spiris333 | September 3, 2009 3:39 PM

How many of the opponents of health-care reform accept farm subsidies? How many of them work in the mining and extractive industries that depend on sweetheart royalty deals for minerals mined on taxpayer-owned lands? How many of them have their employer-provided health insurance excluded from their income, forcing all the other taxpayers to cover the bill?

Let he who is without Communist Bolshevik collectivist Marxist-Lennist-Stalinist-Maoist welfare cast the first stone.

God, the silence would be deafening.

Posted by: Garak | September 3, 2009 3:38 PM

This debate is not about HEALTH CARE. This debate IS about who pays, and how much. Everybody agrees the current system is broken, even the Republicans recognize this fact! The problem is not new, it's been around for 60 years.Now the Republicans are saying we need to go slow on reform. This after 60 years of during nothing!They also revert to that Republican staple; rule by fear. The saddest part of this entire episode, is to see how gullible too many people are. I hope the current administration RAM these nessecarry changes through if nothing else works. The status quo is bankrupting the whole country, and the cost just keep going up, up, up! Wake up people, the AIGs and other( insurance companies) don't care, as long as they are making a profit. Well, we as citizens need to care. The rest of the country also need to function. If other countries around the world can offer minimum health care to all their citizens, so can the USA! For god's sake, stop being so gullible and manipalated by those that only see you as a dollar sign $.

Posted by: idallasj11 | September 3, 2009 3:29 PM

It is astonishing, really. I was in Québec two weeks ago, and there was nothing in the papers about Death Panels run by Health Canada, or by the provincial insurance funds. You'd think they would have mentioned it, but they seem to be into human rights stories and the melting of the Arctic, as far as I could tell from CBC and the papers. They _do_ like to compare and complain about the pluses and minuses of the different provinces' insurance funds (each one has one), but that's as raucous as it gets. "So this is socialized medicine?" asks the American, "Yeah, that's aboout it," replies the Canadian with a smile.

It does not sound like the Apocalypse, or the Holocaust.

Then you look at this country. We became powerful because we became rich, perhaps because we cared more about it than we should have, were clever and resourceful about trade and profits. We tend to think that if you're rich, you must be smart.

But here we go, we try to discuss something as dull as Health Care and it's OK now for armed screaming fascist loons to act out their issues in public, and from a hotel room TV in Canada it looks like sheer madness--and if, by some mad impulse, the Tories in Canada were dumb enough to try repealing their Socialized Medicine up there (they call it Medicare, catchy name), Canadians would face not only the terror of being bored to death by another political campaign, the 4th since 2004, but this one involving something even more sinister than "employment insurance" or job training or the "oil sands": health care....!

Nooooooooooooo!

Now *that's* scary.

--Joe
Brooklyn

Posted by: joe023 | September 3, 2009 3:23 PM

If you would like to help pressure Congress to pass single payer health care reform in a democratic and constructive way please join our voting bloc at:

http://www.votingbloc.org/Health_Bloc.php

Posted by: letsgobuffalo | September 3, 2009 3:18 PM

Everyone wants to point out that smaller government means no SS, Medicare, VA or welfare. Good, but not after government forced me to contribute to them all these years without considering that I would want a return on my money.

But let's look at this reasonably. First off, you know throwing VA into that mix is bogus. But, then again, why should someone who spent 2 years in the military, reading comic books, be entitled to VA coverage for the rest of his life.

Then, let's talk about those other payroll deductions. Can you imagine what I could have done with all that money government took away from me, for these entitlements, and didn't even invest in something that earned interest. But, you say, what about those that spent the money and didn't take care of the future. What happens to them. THAT'S THE POINT OF THE WHOLE ARGUEMENT. FREEDOM. Life is a bunch of choices. Why should those who made wise choices be forced by government to carry those that didn't?

In the end, you are led back to the government as the cause of the problem. If those funds taken from me for SS, MC and the like, had been invested, instead of spent......

Think of SS as a government run Ponzi scheme. It is legal only because it is run by the government.

Posted by: PDStar1 | September 3, 2009 3:17 PM

The two cited issues by the "angry" town hall people, "legal genocide" and "illegal aliens" never has been part of the health care plan and there have been numerous very clear refutations of these lies (for the latest, see Sharon Begley's article in Newsweek). Having been to a town meeting, it's clear that these people are not to be reasoned with and have no desire to listen. The town meetings are one of their only outlets for their vitrole. That and singing along with Hannity, Beck and Limbaugh. The fact that this continues to be reported as if it's representative of anything except a small minority of Birthers and tea-baggers (the 20% fringe base - not even real Republicans) is disappointing. Ignore them.

Posted by: Doug28 | September 3, 2009 3:10 PM

Everyone agrees the healthcare system needs reform. However, what happened to regulation? what happened to competition?
Why can't we open up interstate commerce to
create more competition for insurance companies? Why can't we do torte reform?
Why does it have to be government-takeover
(public option)?. Americans do not trust
Obama and the liberals because they're not
reforming the health system --- they're turning it upside down. Americans know that Medicare and Medicaid are Not successful --they're going bankrupt. So why would we add another 40,000 uninsured to these unsuccessful programs? Anyone who has any common sense at all would not trust a bureaucracy like our government to
manage anything efficiently.
Inefficiency = higher taxes for Americans

Posted by: ohioan | September 3, 2009 3:10 PM

The nurse in the article is unnamed. Isn't that odd? If I had a nurse who was that dumb I wouldn't want her/him touching me.

The fact that right wing nuts are still using lies in this debate is more telling of how idiotic the media has become...that is, they're not correcting all the lies put out by the GOP.

Let the debate rage...but let truth come from these debate...not rants that are known lies. This article does nothing to put down those lies. It fails miserably and the author needs to learn how to be a real reporter.

The GOP and its supporters are lying. No one doubts that. They believe things that are not true. No on doubts this either.

What Reagan and Bush did to the GOP is they've made it popular to be dumb and the media puts their idiocy on display for all to see.

But, is it worth it...to see dumb people get upset over things that are not true?

Posted by: zzpat | September 3, 2009 3:09 PM

Interesting comments. We now have a consumer based economy which depends upon demand for crap like tv, extra computers, cable, toys, trucks, boats, etc. When the lower middle class succumbs to the constant barrage of advertising to buy buy BUY, we criticize their extravagance. How do you live in America without buying crap? We do not, as a country, value people unless they are pretty and wealthy. Poor people (with no health or dental care) are neither. The dual society of have and have not will further separate, as more people spend themselves out of homes, earnings, and social standing. We need a shift in attitude. Respect the poor, who do low wage jobs, for the work they do. Have a national health care system so that all may live a dignified life.

Posted by: rjbunny | September 3, 2009 3:03 PM

" I don't want a total government option"

What's a total option?

Posted by: scottilla | September 3, 2009 2:59 PM

As a first step the objective should be to obtain concensus that the health care system in this country requires reform from a cost and sercvice provided perspective. Our American Heathcare Industry has the unique distinction of costing twice that of those in other developed countries, but ranks 36th in terms of service provided.
Then there should be a debate about how to effect change.
The proposed legislation jumped the gun, resulting in a degeneration into a shouting match over drafting, placing at risk very necessary reform.

Posted by: geoffhawksworth | September 3, 2009 2:50 PM

Saelij,

See, you are the perfect person for the healthcare Obama is proposing. But, I fear that you have let some of the misinformation cloud your view of the proposed plan.

While, I will not say the plan is perfect it still beats what we have. And it is reasonable to have some mistrust of government I still am somewhat amused why people seem to trust insurance companies. I mean the government might be slow and somewhat inefficient, but the insurance companies are out to make a book. Profit is what drives them. And while I don't have a problem with them wanting to make a profit, it does create a problem when it comes to healthcare. Because their desire to make a profit is to limit care as much as possible. And in this case that care could mean the difference between life and death.

If you don't personally have a desire to enroll in the public option, then keep the healthcare you have. But, a major emphasis on Obama's plan is that your daughter should not be screened for pre exisiting conditions.

This is America. We take care of each other here.

Posted by: bjerome | September 3, 2009 2:47 PM

Not one mention of the media and it's roll in educating the public on these concepts.

Maybe if we could get the media to stop proliferating the fake dramas being written for them by opponents of health care reform, our leaders would be able to have time to actually work on reform and not just constantly having to dispel the propaganda.

As our cursory main stream media fights to create sensationalism comparing facts to opinions the mission of the healthcare profiteers slowly comes to fruition as the R’s and D’s become divided through propaganda displayed for profit, in spite of the facts.

Hey Republicans!!! Where was your opposition orientation when we were spending twice as much as this health bill, killing 4300 Americans, 100,000 Iraqi's and leave millions of Iraqi's homeless?

Oh yea, you were applauding it from your churches.

Having an opposition orientation based on tragedian political rhetoric fed to you by the dumbest yet highest paid radio talking heads does not create a government of, by and for the people.

How many of you fake conservatives are collecting SS? Medicare benefits, VA pension? Tax dollars fund it all and I'd bet no one could find a Grandma anywhere willing who isn't rich who would rip up those checks.

If you prefer a government that governs the least that's exactly what you are going to get. I don't believe there can be a intelligent debate with toe tapping Republican propagandists hacks. Hacks don't want to talk, they just want to be mad about something and government is an easy target. During the Bush days, the hacks were mad at Saddam, for the wrong reasons but it didn't stop them from supporting a two trillion dollar tax payer funded unjust war did it? Republican leaders said, "hey be mad at this", now they are saying, "hey be mad at this".

The fatalistic elderly of our nation fall in line. Real intelligent.

Posted by: ApostasyUSA | September 3, 2009 2:44 PM

Health care is expensive. Insurance is expensive. We wither pay in private premiums or in taxes. Nothing is free. Insurance companies or government run insurance plans always have to make decisions/ration out care. The big question: Do you really trust the government with your health care information? Remember Tuskeegee? That was a government-sponsored "experiment" which basically involved letting black men die of syphilis and observing their symptoms without treating them. The same people who freak out about voter ID cards (don't give the government my info!) think nothing of handing their health care files to the government. You may trust Obama, but do you trust Congress? Do you trust the next Presidential administration? Government or not, you can't get something for nothing. I prefer NOT government.

Posted by: sam38 | September 3, 2009 2:42 PM

Dear Mr. President: Forget about mollifying people who think you weren't born in the U.S. or that you recruit Communists -- those folks aren't even worth talking to. Most people with actual brain activity know something has to be done because the system is broken. Try to win as many of those as you can, and if you can't, ram it through.

Posted by: RIP-21 | September 3, 2009 2:41 PM

I tried to get a health care policy for my 22 year old daughter. I was told after the application was submitted, it would only take 7-10 days for approval. Then the phone calls started to my daughter asking more and more questions. Finallly, I was able to enroll my daughter in my family policy from work since she is still dependent on us. I can appreciate the horror and frustration of those who have lost jobs and/or coverage. No one should be without coverage, but I don't want a total government option. Obama should appoint a commission that can come up with a health care policy that all can agree on that is best for the country. This is what Reagan did for social security in the 80s. Sadly, I don't think this is what Obama wants or will do. However, if he persistswith the present approach, then I and many others will oppose him.

Posted by: saelij | September 3, 2009 2:27 PM

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