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Obama: 'You'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot'

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I've long felt the administration has done a poor job explaining that its health-care bill is an incremental, centrist compromise that resembles nothing so much as the Republican health-care bills proposed in the 1990s. But during today's Q&A, Obama did a nice job hitting this point.

The component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker and Tom -- and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much ...

(LAUGHTER)

... but that's not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot.

(LAUGHTER)

No, I mean, that's how you guys -- that's how you guys presented it.

And so I'm thinking to myself, "Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist ..."

No, look, I mean, I'm just saying -- I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- it -- it's similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I'm saying is we've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.

I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is, "This guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America."

And I -- I would just say that we have to think about tone.

It's not just on your side, by the way. It's -- it's on our side as well. This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

As he points out, the problem is not just that the bill is being misrepresented. That's all in the game. But it's being misrepresented in a way that makes it impossible for the GOP to later turn around and compromise on it. As Obama said later in the session, "our constituents start believing us. They don't know sometimes this is just politics." And if they don't know it's just politics, then legislators can't act as it's just politics.

The line on Obama is that he needs a teleprompter to speak clearly. But his messaging in today's back-and-forth was far better and far clearer than in any recent speech I've seen him give.

Photo credit: Charles Dharapak/AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 29, 2010; 4:58 PM ET
 
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Comments

I'm glad this is viewable on C-Span. If only ALL partisans, both sides, would watch and listen.

Given that it's a "GOP" Conference, perhaps some of their constituents will be seduced to watch ... at least until they figure out it's not just another Obama-bashing op for their guys.

Your take on Obama's performance is right on.

Posted by: onewing1 | January 29, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

This is exactly the sort of thing I was calling for in the comments section here a week ago. It is really healthy to have televised conversations between the president and the opposition. If nothing else, the format forces a more civil dialogue; it's harder to demagogue an issue in front of an audience of knowledgeable people.

I was actually struck, though, at the extent to which Republican frustrations seemed to be aimed at Pelosi more than at Obama. They clearly perceive Obama as misguided but acting in good faith, whereas they perceive Pelosi as being genuinely uninterested in what they have to say. I have had the same feeling about Pelosi, and, much as I admire her ability to pass legislation that I like (cap and trade, health reform, etc.), I wonder if the country wouldn't be better off with a different Speaker.

Posted by: jeffwacker | January 29, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I am somewhat heartened by this interaction between Obama and the Republicans today. I wish MORE of it would take place, and I, for the most part, agree with your take on it.

Seriously though, I do not understand comments regarding Obama's "overuse", or need for teleprompters.

All the Presidents have used them. Bush used them everywhere too. Why pick on Obama for using them? I think it's one of those things the Right-wingers had to nitpick about, because - well, they needed something...

Posted by: MrSmartyPants | January 29, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Obama is absolutely right. And this is the same bill that was supposed to rally progressives into collective action. Liberals were supposed to storm the Capitol and go all anti-teabagger for this bill. How could that possibly happen?

Posted by: slag | January 29, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"Liberals were supposed to storm the Capitol and go all anti-teabagger for this bill."

Not sure where you were hearing that - not from this blog. Here I think the message was (and is) correctly: this bill, though flawed, is a huge step forward in a progressive direction, and solves a lot of real problems. In this political climate, there is a near nil chance of anything better getting through congress, and if it fails to we'll be seeing the status quo for years. Least that was my takeaway.

Posted by: jeirvine | January 29, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama was brilliant today and the Democrats need to use the momentum of this week to pass the damn bill. No one is completely satisfied with it but no one with any sense thinks it is not better than the status quo. The House needs to go ahead and vote on the bill next week with or without a specific agreement with the Senate.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | January 29, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

""Seriously though, I do not understand comments regarding Obama's "overuse", or need for teleprompters.""

It is not supposed to be understood as a rational argument. It is something to be said between republicans to reassure themselves that Obama isn't "really" that smart and give them more reasons to dislike him. And it was meant to be given to them so they would have a ready reply the next time it was pointed out how intelligent sounding Obama is compared to their wish-you-wouldn't-mention-it previous republican hero George w bush.

Posted by: tyromania | January 29, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

From my standpoint as a Republican, I think it was a good day too. I take it as a sign that Obama now knows his party will be unable to shove their agenda down the throats of the majority of Americans, and he is signalling that he will finally step up to the plate and broker a deal that will garner the support of centrists and moderates of both parties and the majority of Americans.

Posted by: bgmma50 | January 29, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

This is very good, and shows a path into the future. The State of the Union presented a man unafraid to call-out everybody (and call-out himself too,) and who reminded everyone of the full narrative of events over the last year.

But this address to the House Republican conference is something new.

The President has found a practical rhetorical path to make the Republicans meet him halfway, and to call them out, if they ask for too much. If they don't comply, some of them are going to face the voters' wrath. This is exactly what most people want -- a functioning government.

Along the way, voters get an education in the facts.

The mIssing ingredient was right there in front of everyone, yet almost no one saw it: We don't need townhalls with the citizens, at least until campaign-time. And we surely don't need the Sunday talking heads with their own scheduled agendas.

What we need is unmoderated discussions between lawmakers and the President -- televised.

The President ought to try an hour of this, every month or so. That is a lot of work, but it will pay enormous dividends to the country, and be a rousing political success.

(Note that if they meet him half-way on healthcare, the Congress will pass a reform pretty much like the existing bills. It is already bipartisan, of course. Maybe with a public option. Just discussing it in detail will bring almost any voter to that conclusion. And it will end all phony protestations about "transparency.")

The Republicans are unlikely to make this mistake again, however. Indeed the report is that the Fox Propaganda Network ended the broadcast early.

So? In another month, invite Reps. Pence, Ryan, Chaffetz, Blackburn, Price, Roskam, Hensarling to the White House for cookies and coffee and a roundtable discussion, ON CAMERA. Not only are these politicians unlikely to resist, you could also start to drive a wedge between them and their leadership. It could get interesting.

And from there on out, keep changing the venues and the circumstances. Keep it fresh and unusual.

In just two speeches the President has taken the initiative, has reminded everybody of the full story, and has now invented a way to start to use "bipartisanship" to be a leader and to put lawmakers on the spot where they have to get things done. This is a remarkable turn, and it shows a strong strategy for the way forward.

Obama not only has Reagan's narrative ability and Clinton's command of the facts. In addition he is a teacher, and he is entertaining. He may become one of the great Presidents.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 30, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

@bgmma50 - ummm did you watch any of the video or read a transcript? Your team got PWNED...Independent fact checkers have largely backed what Obama said, particularly with regards to health care reform (a large exception being the transparency with which negotiations were conducted, but in fairness, he did own up to that being a mistake). YOUR News channel (Fox) cut away from this debate with 20 mins spare. Would they have done that if Republicans were actually winning points? Nope. It wasn't a good day for the elephants and they know that - aides privately said it was a mistake to agree to cameras in the room.

This all said, I think ALL presidents should engage in these kinds of Q&As with both the opposition and their own parties (I'm sure Obama wouldn't get it easy from progressive Dems). Unfortunately, your hero GW Bush couldn't have lasted 5 min with a Q&A like this. But glad you enjoyed it so much!

Posted by: CTgirl3 | January 30, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

The Party of NO has made a very bad move, because they've also insisted that they have proposed better policies. But when you start to look at them, as Obama said in his astonishing performance before the Repub House conference, the good ideas already have been incorporated in the legislation, while a lot of the other stuff is campaign boilerplate without thinking it through -- AND you can't expect to get the full loaf, you must compromise.

The Repub strategy has clearly been to cause discontent, in order to get control in the next election. But the President has just found a new strategy to make them put-up or shut-up BEFORE the next election. How can the Repubs avoid getting called-out on this? Will they refuse to say anything, altogether? Their support will shrivel down to the Palin wing.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 30, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do."

****************
It might have been nice for the President to confess that he was (and is) guilty of this same tactic, in refocusing the debate from "health care" reform to "health insurance" reform last August. It might have been nice for the President to state that he will start with himself, in removing any ad hominem attacks on opponents, or those he views as opponents.

Never happen in this world, because (again), the other guy's always at fault.

If insurers are the entire problem, then how do you explain out of control Medicare and Medicaid costs? How do you explain the ever-increasing health care costs for employers that self-fund their health care plans (meaning, no insurance involved)?

Posted by: Policywonky | January 30, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Policywonk:
Insurance companies controlling costs: Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland do that.

We can do it, too.

Posted by: grat_is | January 30, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Policywonk, I think he confessed to it in BOTH the State of the Union and in the speech to the House Republican conference.

NO one ever said the insurers are the entire problem in costs, certainly not the President, but the insurers became the sole problem in getting a healthcare reform. You see, they don't DO anything for their profits. And they drive administrative costs by hospitals and doctors, so in addition to their own uselessness they are cost drivers in the system. The extra spending in the U.S. system is attributed to: higher prices for health goods and services, higher administrative overhead, more advanced technology, and "defensive medicine."

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 30, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

I see what you did there. You praise Obama's eloquence. Then you rather undo the effect by saying what he said in 20% of the space, but at the same time you make yourself look smarter than Obama.

Posted by: MrDo64 | January 30, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Obama not only has Reagan's narrative ability and Clinton's command of the facts. In addition he is a teacher, and he is entertaining. He may become one of the great Presidents.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 30, 2010 1:25 AM

One good day. I think over the last 100, the score is about Rs 97, BO 3. You have Nobel disease - annointing or awarding him prior to him actually doing anything.

Ezra - "But it's being misrepresented in a way that makes it impossible for the GOP to later turn around and compromise on it."

That is the point. Progressives seem to think they have the monopoly on ideas and are completely unwilling to compromise, Rs think it too. They don't want to compromise because even if they were brought in in good faith (something Rahn would never allow), the whole approach goes against what conservatives believe. Think of it like you would if Rs were pushing through a privatized Social Security bill and asking the Ds for their input. Where is the compromise?

The president and Ds have been talking about the so called merits of the heavy gov involvment in HC for a couple years and these particular bill(s) since at least August. If the most gifted communicator in the country can't sway public opinion (or in your vernacular, educate those idiot Rs), then maybe either the bill is a piece of crap, Obama is not the second coming of The Great Communicator or the majority of Americans are just too stupid to understand. If you really think all that's needed is to basically come up with a new marketing gimmick, you are delusional.

Posted by: amaranthpa | January 30, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Spare me. The bill is what it is. It's a big accounting gimmick to hide the true ten-year cost. It's a mandate. It's double counting of the savings from cuts in Medicare coverage. It's an unfunded doctor fix. It's tax hikes. It's more welfare.

It is everything the right says it is, and that is why it is dying. As it should.

Come back when you've got a bill that lowers costs instead of subsidizing a ripoff.

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | January 30, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Obama was very good--in fact better than in his State of the Union address. Whether he can change the tone in Washington or foster more bipartisan cooperation remains to be seen, but a few days ago I would have confidently predicted that he couldn't. Now I'm not so sure.

Posted by: KennethAlmquist | January 31, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Policywonk:
Insurance companies controlling costs: Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland do that. We can do it, too.

Posted by: grat_is | January 30, 2010 12:42 PM
*****************************

Insurers attempt to control costs in several ways -- e.g., by managing care (cutting down on unnecessary care) and negotiating rates with providers.

The public and providers hate and resist managed care with a passion, even when managing care results in better health outcomes. For example, overuse of imaging studies exposes patients to excess radiation, which increases cancer risk. Managing the patient's care can to some extent prevent that overuse of imaging.

And due to market clout there's only so much negotiating with providers that can be done.

Of interest on the latter point is a new report out of Massachusetts indicating that providers' market clout is a main driver of the greatly increasing health care costs in Massachusetts.

http://www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/healthcare/Investigation_HCCT&CD.pdf

Posted by: Policywonky | January 31, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Policywonk, I think he confessed to it in BOTH the State of the Union and in the speech to the House Republican conference.

NO one ever said the insurers are the entire problem in costs, certainly not the President, but the insurers became the sole problem in getting a healthcare reform. You see, they don't DO anything for their profits. And they drive administrative costs by hospitals and doctors, so in addition to their own uselessness they are cost drivers in the system. The extra spending in the U.S. system is attributed to: higher prices for health goods and services, higher administrative overhead, more advanced technology, and "defensive medicine."

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 30, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Lee,

please tell us your credentials that tell us that YOU know what insurers do. Please don't bother with the regular talking points. Please give ME specific examples.

And the head Democrats at every single turn (from Obama to Pelosi to Hoyer to Reid" ALL pointed first to demonize insurers. Please don't try to step back from THAT truth. And they aren' the SOLE problem in getting reform. In comparison to reforms past they've remained relatively quiet. Pharma was bought and paid for but when even the hint was given that their payoffs could be taken back they jumped squarely back on the fence. Same for docs, same for hospitals etc. You can continue to make insurers the bad guy but you don't realize how far from the truth it is simply because you don't have a clue. Again I ask, "Please give me your credentials to speak on such an issue". And credentials are not "I pay a lot in premium".

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 31, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Policywonk,

you also forgot "case management" that insurers do but I don't believe Medicare or medicaid do. That hits right at the heart of the liberal/progressive arguemnt that insurers are the "bad guy" and proves it 100% untrue but since it doesn't work into their talking points it gets NO play around here.

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 31, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

He was quite different without the teleprompter. Not as smooth, and far more dependent on the gesture he often uses when challenged: arm out, hand up, palm forward. The gesture of a grade school crossing guard. Proceed no further, it says, halt. This accompanied by the admonition, "now wait a minute, wait a minute, wait just a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute." Give and take is just not possible with him.

Posted by: truck1 | January 31, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, wouldn't you have to give your credentials to ask? I have asked in dozens of comments threads for anyone to name one insurers' innovation that was necessarily wrought from market competition, or to name one objective value-added function that the insurers perform to justify their profits. The best I got (from a health economist working in the industry) was that any value-added is "subjective." The health insurers basically perform an accounting function, don't they? I mean they're not actually healing anyone. You think because Obamacare lets them compete across state lines in fully-listed exchanges, that they'll become any less of a useless oligopoly? Why do you think 70% of the people (more or less) want a public option?

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | January 31, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Lee,

Well I guess you don't remember me. That's fine. I'm the one you had a conversation with (this past summer I believe it was). We discussed the fact that Rep. Pallone (one of the main writers of the legislation) had not a clue how insurance in NJ worked. He claimed that insurers could "change rates" in NJ based upon learning of pre-existing conditions. You asked if people could "pay extra" if it was determined that they have a pre-existing condition to cover said pre-existing condition. I said that was ludicrous becuase no one would be able to correctly understand what that cost would be.

I've named innovations that either came directly from insurers or they have used them to make themselves well worth their now 2-3% profits.

1-medical management (both disease based and non disease based (maternity).
2-fraud prevention (something Medicare should learn something from)
3-preventative care
4-utilization review
5-step-therapy for medication
6-network utilization discounting
7-global payment of charges


and that's just off the top of my head from a basic non-insider.


I'd love to know what "friend" you have is a healthcare economist and what industry he works in because I would have hoped he had been able to explain to you the concept of "modified community rating" as in my example that proved Rep. Pallone 100% wrong and you kept trying to explain his ignorance away.


70% who in the past had favored a public option want it because of how liberals explain it to be. Explained differently the numbers dramatically change. I especially like the polls in this non biased poll by KFF. I could have showed you biased Rasmussen reports towards the right or biased HCAN reports from the left but purposefully chose this set of polling.

http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/upload/7945.pdf

While insurers are hated, the government is still hated more and as I've said around here many a time, "insurers profits are much less than Medicare and Medicaid's waste fraud and abuse."

Posted by: visionbrkr | January 31, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I remember the discussion. You didn't prove your case. Anyone may read it:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2009/09/the_town_halls_the_media_didnt.html#comments

Meanwhile, there is nothing in your list of things here for which private insurers are a necessary ingredient -- as opposed to an unnecessary but expensive transaction-cost that is inserted between provider and patient. The costs and outcomes in the countries with universal coverage should make that abundantly clear.

Of course polls differ by how things are explained! The Republicans have been relying on this for a year!

Medicare fraud can be reduced by better enforcement (it has been increased by Obama) and stiffer penalties. We don't have good fraud figures for the private insurers; much of it is perhaps hidden for the mutual benefit of provider and insurer.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

what I proved is that you understand the concepts about as well as Rep. Pallone understands the laws in his own state.

The necessary ingredient is innovation. Sure anyone can now copy-cat those ideas but its private industry's innovation that spurred those ideas that would be lost in your utopian single payer government run system that you were posting about on every comments section a week or two ago that California could pass. All this while the current single payer system (medicare) is falling apart around us all.

The fact that you think Medicare fraud can be reduced by better enforcement is honestly laughable. I'm guessing you missed this:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-01-28-health-care-insurance-fraud_N.htm


I gave this hint last week. You know a BIG step towards fighting medicare fraud that they won't talk about? Actually contracting with medicare providers instead of letting ANYONE submit claims to medicare for reimbursement. Pay for someone to go out BEFORE a claim is paid to actually make sure its an actual business, an actual patient, an actual claimant. Medicare does not do that. If they spent a little more than 3% on this administrative cost they would save billions on the back end. But again government is too short-sighted and doesn't necessarily care. Its not their money, its yours and mine.

Again what is it you do that makes you qualified to speak on insurance companies because in your last statement it seems like you're accusing insurers and providers of working together to hide fraud??


Cost and outcomes as well can be explained (but you conveniently forget) also by the US' high level of obesity. Is your explanation part of the answer, YES but only part.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

"as Obama said in his astonishing performance before the Repub House conference, the good ideas already have been incorporated in the legislation"

Tort reform is in there? Selling insurance across state lines is in there? Getting the government (federal and state) out of hyper-regulating insurance policies in a manner that restricts what kind of customized policies an insurer can offer to cover a particular persons individual needs? That's in there? Where?

And healthcare savings accounts? As I understand, those are only in there as being repealed as an option.

He struck a very conciliatory tone, and made some good points, but let's not be silly. The ideas the Republicans and their constituents feel are their best ideas are not in any of the Democratic-authored healthcare bills.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 1, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, come off it. Most of your list was talked-up by healthcare people long before insurers ever adopted them.

Google "fraud in private healthcare insurance" and read through some of the articles. From university studies and the AMA, no less. Anybody can play this game.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Selling insurance across state lines is in there, via the exchanges and OMB approved plans. The federal government doesn't "hyper regulate" insurance, since it doesn't regulate at all, so I have no idea what you're talking about there. And tort reform isn't in there because the GOP refused to make a deal. No GOP senators decided to trade their votes for it, so it didn't happen. The way that concessions work is that if you're not willing to provide a vote, you don't get your ideas included. And health savings accounts still exist, they aren't repealed.

Plus, lets not forget the actual ideas incorporated (exchanges, MEDPAC, etc.) that were proffered by the GOP post-1994 that have been covered ad-nauseum here.

Posted by: etdean1 | February 1, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Kevin Willis, almost complete nonsense. "Selling insurance across state lines" won't work without "regulating insurance policies" (who knows what "hyper " means) because of a little thing called "risk selection." So that's the reason for the regulated exchanges, where all companies can sell: so one state's under-regulation can't destroy another state's market. Maybe Visionbrkr can explain it to ya. Obama explained it to the House Republicans but "let's not be silly" -- they don't really care. They already know there's a whole list of compromises in that bill. Their constituents know even less. "Tort reform" may be useful but it's "peanuts" to cost control.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

You're asking ME to come off it yet you're accusing providers and insurers of conspiring together to hide fraud in private insurance??


Please explaine to me exactly WHO these "healthcare people" were? That's nice and generic. You really can't give any credit to insurers can you???

I also never said insurers don't have any fraud. The point is that at least insurers take reasonable steps to stop fraud. The government puts on a show trotting out several high profile cases but again proving that its all glitz and no substance and they readily admit that they're failing miserably at it. And this isn't an Obama/Holder thing. this was an issue long before they came around. It details with a defect in the federal government system. Again its not THEIR money and if it was "THEIR" money then maybe they'd care a little more. It is insurers and their policyholders money. That's the key difference to me.

etdean,

you're right the federal government doesn't "HYPER" regulate insurers, state governments do. I agree it should be federalized and they should get rid of the state by state laws/guidelines as its too confusing and cumbersome for employers. When you do that though and trumpet the wonderful end to the insurers anti-trust exemption remember that you'll be forcing additional costs on low income and low mandate states while lowering benefits and standards for high income and high mandate states to find a reasonable middle ground.

The example I like to use is my state of NJ that has recently passed a badly needed requirement that autism treatment be covered. That's great coverage wise but costs a lot. in standardized national laws you'll either drop that (and NJ loses a needed benefit) or you'll include it and raise the costs of states that can't afford it and may not need it as much.

The idea is you need to watch for the unintended consequences of the legislation's action. This would be one.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Visionbrkr, sorry, if we're talking about experts, I think I'll go with the AMA on this one, not with you.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

its amazing you think I called myself an expert. I never did and I'm not. Again you don't tell me anything about what qualifies you on any of this? What do you do anyway???

I'm sure you're being honest but I'd love you to give a link to the AMA study.

The point is that insurers TRY to stop fraud. No one can stop it altogether and still function but Medicare and Medicare barely try. Sure they're doing more now with Obama than before and I commend him on that but before I'd entrust the healthcare sector to the government I'd want them to at least be as good as the private sector is.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

The logic isn't so difficult: IF fraud in private insurance is presumed to be as rampant as in Medicare (and you can google that anyway you like,) BUT it isn't being found or reported as much as Medicare, THEN some of it is hidden BECAUSE some insurers and some providers are in collusion.

Not so hard to believe. Some insurers have denied and rescinded coverage to people, condemning them to ruinous debt and even death, while hiding behind market principles.

This immoral behavior is hardly likely to always stop, just SHORT of conspiracy to commit fraud.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

the problem is with your presumption. Its not based in fact. Private insurance companies have companies that it pays to investigage and prosecute fraud. Private insurers have "credentialing departments" that actually go out and meet with doctors offices etc to ensure that they are doing what they say they are and aren't just shell corporations. medicare does not do that.

If you want to just end up with the talking point that "insurers are always bad" then you're making yourself look silly and ignoring facts. If you want to be that way go ahead and continue to have the wool pulled over your eyes by the left wing of your party.

Do some insurers do wrong things, absolutely. I'm not saying they don't. But by saying EVERY insurer is wrong and colluding with doctors it honestly sounds ridiculous.

Why would an insurance company lose its profit margins to fraud?? What's "in it for them?"

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I wrote that the private insurers are useless, beyond the accounting function. I didn't write that every private insurer is involved in fraud. I wrote that most people who look at it think it's probably as big and bad as Medicare fraud. So your contention that insurers aren't completely useless because they prevent more fraud is worthless.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

We don't have good fraud figures for the private insurers; much of it is perhaps hidden for the mutual benefit of provider and insurer.


Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse


I didn't write that every private insurer is involved in fraud.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Well which Lee A Arnold should I believe? The one from early this morning or the one from an hour ago?

-----------------

Most people that look at it "think" its as big and as bad as Medicare fraud? Keep falling all over yourself with subjective platitudes to try to make your case. Its useless. You've been proven wrong AGAIN.

Actually my contention is that posters on websites such as this that don't have the foggiest clue as to what they're speaking about are useless and again my point is proven. Stick to what you know, whatever that is.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

oh and here's a company that I googled that works with the insurance industry to investigate fraud:

http://www.wileyrein.com/practices.cfm?sp=overview&id=24

I'm sure there are hundreds more. Need more proof or do you want to fall all over yourself more to prove government is the do all and end all?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The company that investigates Medicare fraud is called the FBI. Big deal.

Search for the George Washington University study, carried in the AMA newsletter last August or so. It won't surprise anyone but you.

It's very interesting that you think private industry is less fraudulent than government. I suppose that's the old libertarian hallucination.

Private insurers are eating 5 to 10 cents out of every healthcare dollar -- for no better outcomes than Singapore, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland...

Yes: You don't need good fraud statistics to believe that not every company is involved in fraud. The two sentences, combined. Only you see a contradiction.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 1, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

yes and even Eric Holder admits the FBI is failing miserably (due to a lack of resources because they wouldn't want to tarnish that 3% admin cost ratio that you liberals hold onto like a crutch).

I've seen that report. It lumps insurers and pharma together. Sorry but I seperate the two. The main insurer fraud they claim is related to deflated UCR charges? Do you know what UCR is? UCR is the average of what 90% (for example) charge patients. If United "deflated" the number as Attorney General Cuomo contended it LOWERED its and in turn its members costs. That's not the same type of fraud. United contends (and I agree because I've seen it first hand) that doctors inflate UCR levels so what United did was to "throw out" data that it felt was wrong and used to inflate provider charges. So basically what it did was attempt to keep its costs (and its policyholders costs) lower by not allowing FRAUD. Nice try to prove your point but you ended up proving mine. Here's the link where you don't understand AGAIN how this works.

http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/08/03/gvsd0804.htm


"It's very interesting that you think private industry is less fraudulent than government. I suppose that's the old libertarian hallucination."


You're actually the one hallucinating because I never said either private insurance or the government was complicit in fraud (you did). I simply said insurers actually try to attempt to stop fraud because they have a financial stake to gain and the government does very little (BY THEIR OWN ADMISSION) to stop fraud mainly because (IMO) its not their money. Its NEVER their money. If they don't have enough they just borrow, raise taxes etc.

You sit on here and argue that private insurance brings zero benefit. Exactly what benefit does the government bring? Or are they just the lesser of two evils in your mind?


Again what is it you do??? Why are you so afraid to share???

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 1, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Google "fraud by private health insurance" and you find over 14 million items. Refute the first million of them, and get back to us.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 2, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

its been fun. Really. You do understand how search engines work, right? oh forget it. By the above statement I realize you don't.

I did what you said and NOTHING CAME UP when it was in "quotes". but remove the quotes and you get your however many links but you do realize that it then links you to any website that uses the individual word "fraud", "private", "health",
"insurance" etc etc etc.

Again ANOTHER example that you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 2, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Try "conspiracy of health insurer and provider" -- more outrage per page.

Better yet -- "health insurance embezzlement" -- meet the crooks!

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | February 2, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

what comes up when i type in:

"idiot figures out how search engines work"

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 2, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

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