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Sen. Lamar Alexander explains why there'll be no compromise

Much of Sen. Lamar Alexander's statement this morning was a reprise of the argument he made in this interview earlier in the month: Congress can't do comprehensive, and shouldn't try. Put aside whether you think that's true (Republicans certainly weren't modest when constructing the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, or No Child Left Behind, or Paul Ryan's budget, or John McCain's health-care plan). It's a theory of what Congress should be doing, not a position on how a comprehensive health-care bill should look. And it's a theory that says Congress shouldn't be attempting to solve the health-care crisis.

A wag might look at this and say a traditional Washington compromise would be to just solve some of the problem. Democrats have already made that compromise: Their bill covers two-thirds of the uninsured and leaves most of the insurance system alone. They're not fixing the old system so much as building the foundation for a new system off to the side somewhere. Letting go of that is letting go of the last vestiges of reform left in the bill.

At best, what you can say today is demonstrating is that there's a sharp contrast in the philosophies on display: Democrats believe the federal government is capable of writing and implementing legislation that will take a big step forward on a hard problem. Republicans believe government doesn't have that capability, and shouldn't try. There's no real compromise available between those two position, but they're philosophies that the American people can choose between.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 25, 2010; 12:02 PM ET
 
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Comments

Of course, if Americans want to choose one of those philosophies, they must do so by a supermajority, otherwise it doesn't count.

Posted by: etdean1 | February 25, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Do you really think Republicans believe, "Congress can't do comprehensive, and shouldn't try." Nothing in their history points toward this.

This is a GOP talking point, nothing more.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse


this summit is a spiritual exercise.
there is more to be learned here from barack obama, than just a debate on health care.
he is a study in right action.
and i am grateful for it.
there is much to learn from watching him.


5. Very difficult to train
Bodhisattvas who attain this bhumi strive to help sentient beings attain maturity, and do not become emotionally involved when such beings respond negatively, both of which are difficult to do. The emphasized virtue is meditative concentration (dhyāna).

Posted by: jkaren | February 25, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

nisleib, of course it's a talking point, but it's one that many conservatives (can't speak for Republican legislators themselves) believe in. What I want to know is this: What if there's a problem and the market doesn't solve it? Is the problem unsolvable? Does that mean it's not worth solving? Is it a situation where anything which the market doesn't solve can't be a real problem, because the market will solve all real problems, so the "problem" is either completely fictional or being mischaracterized?

Also, if the market will solve all problems, where's the experimental data? Where has this been tried and shown to succeed the way conservatives talk about it?

Posted by: MosBen | February 25, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

If the Republican's really believe so strongly that their plan will cause substantive change, than they should pass a bill that provides their plan to states with Republican senators and the Democratic bill to states with Democratic senators (divided states could be split by House Districts). Both on the revenue side and policy side.

Besides being history's largest economics experiment, it would force policy to have some impact on politics, rather than only the other way around.

Posted by: NickM2 | February 25, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

can we get off your bashing of Lamar Alexander. I think 90% of us agree he knows not what he speaks of. how about a nice little comparison of the Republican idea AHP (Association Health Plans) vs the Democratic idea of the Exchange?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

This whole thing is a mess. I wish you were there to explain HCR to some of these fools. I love Rep Miller, but really, explain what needs to happen globally to incorporate those with preexisting conditions into insurance.

Posted by: jwb81 | February 25, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

MosBen,

insurers have the data. Just pass a law that requires them to share it. another benefit to the anti trust exemption removal. just remember the unintended consequences and we'll be the ones saying "I told you so"

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

If the repubs think government sux so much... then why are they trying to be part of it? It sux because they are there and believe it should. Fock em all and anyone who looks like em.

Posted by: ukangitmynutz | February 25, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Lets face the FACT: Republicans are utter complete lying lunatics, that is they say they want to "reduce the Deficits", "they are worried about the debt bomb..", etc. But if you really want to really reduce the Deficits then you would be for greatly reducing health care costs which means then you would be for Universal single payer health care.

Because in every European country, Canada, Israel, etc. whom have single payer health care, health care on average is taking about 9% of the GDP, while the US for profit health care is taking 18% of the GDP, here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada

How is it that Universal nationalized single payer health care will SAVE us about 50% compared to the current for profit health care system WHILE giving every American free or very affordable health care like $59 per month as in Canada, for the Taxes that we (already) PAY? Answers:

1st- The way Universal Nationalized Health Care is operated in Europe, Canada, Israel, etc. is the same way we operate the Military, Police, Fire Department, Courts of Law, etc. etc. in US. That is these important services are paid for mainly from our Taxes, and the salaries of people involved in them is set by our Government (Federal or State). So the same way that our Government sets the salaries of a 4 Star General or an Admiral or a Federal Judge is the same way that the Governments in UK, Israel , etc. sets the salaries of Doctors, Nurses, etc. working in their Universal Nationalized Health Care system.

2nd- No one working in the Universal Nationalized Health Care system will be able to get paid $50Mill per year and fly in $100Mill private Jets as is the case with the top brass of the Big Pharma, Big Insurance, etc. in the US. And equally as important, No Health care provider can go public and thus generate 100s of Millions of Dollars in listing fees for the Wall Street bankers and pay 100s of Millions of Dollars per quarter to the Wall Street gang in the form of dividends, preferred shares, etc.

Much more here:
http://anoox.com/blog/UHC.38349

Posted by: RealNews1 | February 25, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

This whole thing is a mess. I wish you were there to explain HCR to some of these fools. I love Rep Miller, but really, explain what needs to happen globally to incorporate those with preexisting conditions into insurance.

Posted by: jwb81 | February 25, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse


Six words:

"The healthy pay for the sick"

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

@MosBen: It means you didn't market hard enough. Clap louder.

I once considered myself a hardcore conservative. Over the Bush years, I drifted independent and finally toward the Democrats because it became apparent to me that one party -- whether I agreed with their solutions or not -- sought to actually acknowledge and address problems. The other, when confronted with unfortunate reality, chose to either ignore the problems or imagine others.

It's clear that nothing has changed.

Posted by: cog145 | February 25, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Democrats believe the federal government is capable of writing and implementing legislation that will take a big step forward on a hard problem. Republicans believe government doesn't have that capability, and shouldn't try."

That's it? That's all you've got? "Dems good, Pubs bad"?

Your smug is showing.

Posted by: JamesMeager1 | February 25, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm struck again by what a dolt Pelosi sounds like. She should not be the public face of healcare reform. All she provided were sob stories worthy of Oprah. Obama was peevish, rude, and childish (I'm president..). The really impressive democrat is always Steny Hoyer.

Posted by: truck1 | February 25, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Truth be told, once John McCain started lecturing, I had to turn it off. His self-indulgent fauxtrages are really beyond tiresome at this point. As if CSpan doesn't have a hundred sq miles of footage of the Senate and House healthcare debates. His persistent reversals of his own past positions have made it clear that the wonders of video recording technology have eluded him all these years. We get it.

But keep watching, Ezra. Those of us with other stuff to do are relying on you for the details.

Posted by: slag | February 25, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"All she provided were sob stories worthy of Oprah."

Well, maybe her problem is that she's just not enough of an elitist for you.

Posted by: slag | February 25, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Wonder what would happen if WAPO challenged the GOP talking points instead of repeating them as if they made sense...wait, that would make you a newspaper again...

Posted by: LABC | February 25, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are right about congress: when a GOP president wants to go on the warpath, he just bypasses congress anyway. Hell, he just bypasses Tonkin Gulf too.

They don't like Big Government to be sure. They like Big Dictatorship

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | February 25, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

McCain correct:

Obama "screwed the health care pooch" with his PhRMA deal.

The BIGGEST driver of premium increases in California and Maine----was higher drug costs (Anthem Blue Cross execs testified yesterday).

And, thanks to Obama, PhRMA gets to rip off US patients, now and forever. Future health care costs will soar because of this Obama deal with PhRMA.

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

definition of "screwed the pooch"
To make a major mistake, particularly one that will have serious ramifications, a catastrophic
error.

Posted by: johnowl | February 25, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Annoyingly, the Republicans are right, though the problem is only unsolvable because they insist they won't allow us to solve it. So, basically, we're utterly doomed.

Posted by: adamiani | February 25, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Every single one of those Republican (and Democratic) congresspeople enjoy socialist, almost comeplete tax-payer subsidized health care (not to mention free haircuts and gym) and they have the audacity to deny that to everyone else? The hypocracy of the Republicans (most of that subsidied stuff was put in place during their control) is unbelievable. "It's good for me to loot the treasury but you get squat."

Posted by: rlcjr | February 25, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who trusts what Anthem had to say ought be whipped.

Drug prices have been high for many years, and all of a sudden it's Obama's fault?

You people are poor excuses of human beings.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

In fact, by extension, Republicans are the most dire challenge facing this country.

Posted by: adamiani | February 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"Wonder what would happen if WAPO challenged the GOP talking points instead of repeating them as if they made sense...wait, that would make you a newspaper again...

Posted by: LABC "

The Washington Post hasn't existed since September 12, 2001. It's the Bushington Post now.

Posted by: solsticebelle | February 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

This is a good article. You don't see many of these in the WaPo. Not the usual propaganda.

Posted by: jdonner2 | February 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

THE lobbyists for the GOP want things the way they are the GOP will let the rich lobbyists and PAC's have what they want at the expense of the taxpayer. Go figure. Politicians get rich in office. perhaps the politicians should change and then politicians will vote for taxpayers agains instead of their rich friends.

Posted by: patmatthews | February 25, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

There is no disagreement. Both Republicans and Democrats support governmet run healthcare sometimes called Medicare and both believe that increasing medical costs will bankrupt the country under the current system.

The difference is the Democrats want to fix the problems while Republicans are a bunch of scum bags who will destroy America for their personal political gain.

Posted by: chucky-el | February 25, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Barry the incompetent boob Obama has utterly failed at his dog and pony show. This headless chicken in the White House is opposed by 3/4 of Americans on Obmacare: Just 1/4 of Americans in a new CNN poll want Obamacare to pass. Another 1/4 would rather have Congress do nothing at all. The other half wants Congress to start over from a clean sheet of paper.

Barry squandered his entire first year in office on this mess.

Miserable failure Obama

Posted by: screwjob2 | February 25, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad this "debate" isn't just a PR session - seems at least some participants have actually read the 2200 page bill, and are raising serious issues about it.

Posted by: pgr88 | February 25, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

This is just fundamental partisan nonsense. George Bush introduced a $1.3 trillion prescription drug program in 2003: Medicare, socialist, government run, paid by deficit. The essence of Obama's program is to cut $500 billion out of Bush's progam (entitlement reduction) and postpone benefits to the point where a Congress facing inflation will change them. He has just filled in the doughnut (the zero coverage around $2000) in the prescription drug--but for the year 2020. It is ludricrous. Small wonder that whites over 30 approve this plan by about 25%.

Posted by: jhough1 | February 25, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

It's not like these philosophies are some bold new revelation. They date back to the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians, more commonly called Federalists and Anti-federalists. Big Government vs Small Government.

Me personally, I'm more for the hands-off approach, but understand that balance is necessary.

Posted by: smmckenzie | February 25, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Small wonder that whites over 30 approve this plan by about 25%."

Small wonder that those are the only opinions that matter to you.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

You're not a reporter, I hope.

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | February 25, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

This is a BIG F’ING JOKE! All that I see is Republicans stalling by whining about stuff like “sending people undercover to seek out fraud…”, are you Sh!#ing me! John McCain should have just stayed home because wasn’t he the one who wanted to “make people famous” when he was running to be President? And the Democrats… these dudes need to reach down , find a pair and squeeze them… somebody needs to stand up and say… “are we going to do this or not, because you’re just wasting my time.” I mean, these Democrats act like the Republicans are bullying them and they need the President to fight for them.

I saw RNC Chairman Michael Steele answer a question from Chuck Todd this morning by saying that Health Care is like a drivers license, it’s a privilege not a right… spoken like someone with money. And now this (R) Mike Pence wants to insinuate that “the Republicans speak for the people…” really, only if they can have things their way and only their way. This is BS, the President should just tell them to use reconciliation and “git ‘er done”.

Posted by: oda155 | February 25, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Go, Louise Slaughter! Democrats should be using her as the prime spokesperson for health insurance reform. She's got the moral and practical arguments rolled together in a very effective package.

Posted by: RachelM2 | February 25, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

People like the Republicans "have got theirs" and they simply don't care about those who do the vast majority of day-to-day work in this country, who can't write their own medical plans and who don't make $160,000+ annually. Their philosophy is to let giant corporations run the country--it has nothing to do with Hamilton, Jefferson or others of the Founders. It has to do with taking care of their own and lining their pockets. Let me repeat: they don't care about the average working person.

Posted by: stuck_in_Lodi | February 25, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

GOP says they want "smaller government" - but OPPOSE financial regulatory reforms!! - KNOWING taxpayers will be forced to bail out the banks again, if necessary.

There are so many Republican contradictions of their OWN philosophies, that they have little credibility.

Posted by: angie12106 | February 25, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Can't you see that the current healthcare crisis is directly related to past Government interventions in healthcare?

They should fix their old mistakes and step away. That would be real reform. The only thing this legislation will create is another crisis and more calls for increased political influence in our everyday lives from the zombie crowd.

Charities should help people and the Government should Govern them. Politicians from both parties need to stop exploiting charitable causes to increase their own power. All of the money and time being devoted to this political farce should be directly contributed to charities dedicated to actually helping people with healthcare problems. If millions of dollars can be voluntarily raised for polar bears then surely billions could be voluntarily raised for humans in need of healthcare financing. It time to stop wasting time and money on Government solutions.

Posted by: fallsmeadjc | February 25, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who trusts what Anthem had to say ought be whipped.

Drug prices have been high for many years, and all of a sudden it's Obama's fault?

You people are poor excuses of human beings.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse


other than whipping up a fury of hatred do you have ANYTHING to say that is able to be proven? I expect you back here eating your words when Anthem's increase is attributed to costs. Why don't you just come out and say that you want people to pay for your costs because you have a pre-existing condition. its what we do here in NJ and i'm fine with that. Its the fact that California doesn't have a mandate for coverage that is admitted by the administration (when they're not making talking points) that drives the costs, not profits.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Very good, Ezra. Now hurry over to Blair House to give Obama the blow job you have been dying to give him.

Posted by: FridayKnight | February 25, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

kind of makes you wonder why republicans even bothering running for office if they feel that government can't/shouldn't do anything. are they just in it so they can get paid for doing nothing?

Posted by: freaktown | February 25, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Have you noticed that the Republican Congressmen can only talk about items when they are at the news podium with notes written by someone else, but when in a open room session they are speachless .... they really CAN'T think for themselves. They are puppets for the corporations and big money. They only walk and talk when the strings are pulled!

Posted by: lunetrick | February 25, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Wrong. This isn't about philosophies. The Republicans believe in one thing -- the rest of us be damned: sink Obama, regain power. That's it. Do they really "believe" government can't bring about effective reform, and "shouldn't even try." Please.

That's their talking point. They "believe" whatever will get them back in power.

And if they do "believe," then they're the biggest dopes on the planet. Why? Because EVERY OTHER INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY HAS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE -- and it costs less than half per capita what ours does. Duh.

Posted by: monk4hall | February 25, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Repubs SAY they want "smaller government" but OPPOSE financial regulatory reforms - KNOWING taxpayers will just bail out the banks AGAIN, if necessary, to prevent another economic collapse!

There are so many Republican contradictions of their OWN philosophies, that it's difficult to find the Repubs credible.

Posted by: angie12106 | February 25, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

*The way Universal Nationalized Health Care is operated in Europe, Canada, Israel, etc. is the same way we operate the Military, Police, Fire Department, Courts of Law, etc. etc. in US*

No, you have no idea what you are talking about. With the military, police,and fire department, the people who work there are government employees. With the exception of the UK, industrialized countries keep doctors as private workers compensated by some combination of public and private insurance companies and/or hospitals, not as government employees.

Posted by: constans | February 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans offer ideas and compromise, there'll be a health bill. If Republicans don't offer ideas and won't compromise, there'll be a health bill. Obama's bill will be passed by the solid Democratic majority, using reconciliation if need be. Millions of Americans will benefit, now and in the future. Cost controls over the health insurance industry will benefit millions more.

Posted by: dudh | February 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

If Republicans offer ideas and compromise, there'll be a health bill. If Republicans don't offer ideas and won't compromise, there'll be a health bill. Obama's bill will be passed by the solid Democratic majority, using reconciliation if need be. Millions of Americans will benefit, now and in the future. Cost controls over the health insurance industry will benefit millions more.

Posted by: dudh | February 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Who cares what LAMAR! Thinks?

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 25, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Anthem's rate hike is because too many healthy people in California lost jobs and dropped their Individual health insurance. The sick people stayed, but their premiums couldn't cover the skyrocketing cost of claims. There is no evil plot; its simple business.

When will Obama, Pelosi and the Repubs address the 800 lb. gorilla that "comprehensive" means addressing tort reform and controlling costs that hospitals and doctors are passing on to us healthy people who don't live on twinkies, marlboros and mcDonalds? Maybe malpractice lawyers just have better lobbyists?

Posted by: BKDenver | February 25, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

With the exception of the UK, industrialized countries keep doctors as private workers compensated by some combination of public and private insurance companies and/or hospitals, not as government employees.

Posted by: constans | February 25, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes but other countries DO tell doctors what they can make and from time to time doctors in other countries "go on strike". WHy don't liberals reveal this inconvenient truth???

Do you think we can tell doctors what they can earn and keep a small portion of the doctors we have today? I don't think so.

If you're going to tell us the truth, tell us the WHOLE truth, not just the part that suits your argument.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Do you really think Republicans believe, "Congress can't do comprehensive, and shouldn't try." Nothing in their history points toward this.

This is a GOP talking point, nothing more.

Posted by: nisleib

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

I would say that this is a mere talking point for the George Bush/neo-con wing of the Republican Party. For genuine conservatives, they really mean it when they say that government cannot solve the problem and will only make it worse, and they spent much of the Bush presidency confused, stunned, and feeling betrayed at No Child, Medicare D, and other federal expansions.

Many conservatives went along with Bush on these pieces of legislation out of a mistaken belief that Bush was one of them, but in retrospect they have realized that Bush was no more a small-government conservative than Obama now is. Bush could be small-government when it came to business regulation, but he really wasn't in any other respect. Having realized the folly of the path that Bush led them down, the ideological conservatives now want to get back to their roots, which is a lot easier to do with a liberal president in the White House.

Posted by: blert | February 25, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,
I really want to know what your role is supposed to be on this blog. I thought it was supposed to be "Economic and Domestic Policy Issues", but it looks like it should be titled "Shill for the Democrats" or "Matt Yglesias, CBPP, The New Republic Retread".

Posted by: novalfter | February 25, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

BKDenver,

stop that. you know the truth. You know insurance in CA went up because Republicans are wholly owned subsidiaries of the health insurance industry. Oh and they kill puppies and kittens daily.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Well AMERICA, hereeee We go again. Both sides Talk-Talk and who wants to bet, will get next to NO Where. ha! -- Right off the bat, both sides Yap about Prevention. What a JOKE! -- i (jward52) have repeatedly, for 2+ years been outlaying the Fact that the #1,- #1 most needed, and Important PREVENTATIVE Is proper "DENTAL & ORAL" Health Care!! - EACH $1 WILL RETURN- at a Minimum $3-4!! -- So this is a 'NO-BRAINER'.-- Except, those discussing 'Prevention', are still proposing No-Brainer DEAD Do-Little Band-aid preventions!! -- Still, both Reds & Blues,- in bed with INSURANCE & $SPECAIL INTERESTS!! -- wITHOUT ""DENTAL"" then this so-called Health Reform Bill,- IS STILL the 'SAME-OL' SAME-OL' DISEASE & SICKNESS PLAN!! -- Right off the bat, WE-the-People listening to this so-called Health Summit, right NOW, - are hearing the same CRAP again!! -- $$WASTE, FRAUD, and still NO Real PREVENTATIVES at all!!! -- The ittsy-bittsy preventaives the REDs & BLUEs are offering are still the 'Same-Ol' --JOKE of continuing DISEASE & SICKNESS, -- and Nothing to treat and/or stop the CAUSE!!! -- Why aren't some of us WE-the-People (jward52) at this so-called Health Reform Summit??- Easy Answer-- We/I might suggest something that WILL WORK,-- and that Will $Save Money,- and that Will PREVENT DISEASE, - and definately end some of the $FRAUD, WASTE, ABUSE, and INSURANCE GREED SICKNESS POLICIES!!! -- Just a word from a Citizen whom cares. CONGRESS needs to grow up, and start honoring their' OATHs-of-Office!!! --- CONGRESS does NOT work for the $Special Interests! - NO WHERE in My/Your CONSTITUTION does it read:- 'we-the-TOOO-$BIG-Insurance-companies', nor 'we-the-corporations', nor 'we-the-WALLsters', nor 'we-the-$BANKsters', nor 'we-the-toooo-Big-PHARMAS!!!!! --- jward52

Posted by: jward52 | February 25, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

It is a good thing that America is in decline since it is clear we no longer have the stomach for great things. At least a majority of the Senate seems not to have the stomach for it.

Lamar Alexander is a very small man who only serves the purtpose of a brake. When the US is outstripped in renewable energy by the Chinese and in fusion by the Europeans, and many of us have no health care as the climate grows more hostile and disease increases, we will have no one to blame but ourselves and the craven politicians who brought us there.

Posted by: Mimikatz | February 25, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

symptom of narcissistic personality (straight from diagnostic manual) : always bring the topic back to yourself, always make it about you. As in, "when Malia had to go to the emergency room, when Sasha was sick...." Has there ever been a president who spoke this way? Doubtful. The verbal gaffe "..we want to lower our families.." bears some resemblance to the famous Bush gaffe of "...put food on our families.." Both involve elisions that someone fluent in English would not normally make.

Posted by: truck1 | February 25, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

There can be no balance on any issue when Obama is involved...because he is a grandstanding demogogue who condescendingly insults anyone with a different view.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 25, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

vision

Do you have ANY IDEA of what INSURANCE is?

It is share costs among a group.

YOU are a poor excuse of a human being. You and all republicans who fight for nothing but corporate profits are going to hell when you die.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans had eight years, and they didn't do anything to help the hurting middle class. Jobs stagnated and millions of middle class people lost health care coverage, homes, employment and retirement income.

There are fundamental differences. One of the major differences is illustrated by Bush's tax cut for the rich in the midst of two wars. It created a massive addition to the deficit in those eight years. Their hope was to leave no money to do things like health care reform which might help ordinary people.

There are fundamental differences between the two parties and the role of government. And it is not "no-government" which is at stake (that's Ron Paul). It is whether government money will be thrown at people like Halliburton and big health insurance companies, or whether it will be used to try to help the hurting middle class.

Posted by: tinyjab40 | February 25, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Of course, if Americans want to choose one of those philosophies, they must do so by a supermajority, otherwise it doesn't count.
***
Are you kidding? You can even elect the president with less total votes than the runnerup!!

Posted by: tarang_72 | February 25, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

blert - Are you saying that Republicans never tried to pass "comprehensive legislation" before Dubya? Because I don't think that is correct.

As to your larger point, I agree that Conservatives probably feel betrayed by Bush. But keep in mind, many liberals fealt betrayed by Clinton.

My point was not about how the ideological extremes/ideologues on both sides tend to feel betrayed by the Presidents they help elect (heck, Reagan raised taxes a lot). My point was that Republicans are lying when they say they don't "do comprehensive."

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Where is a mandated health insurance model that works?

Massachusetts is the only state that has one at present, and it is a FAILURE.

Why? They could not predict the number of LEGAL IMMIGRANTS who signed up for the state plan for the "poor"...and the numbers threw them into the red. A federal infusion of money is keeping them afloat.

The numbers don't even address the 12-20 million of illegal immigrants who use the E.R. to gain FREE MEDICAL CARE.

So how can we have a discussion about covering all Americans - when our borders allow MILLIONS of illegals to come into our country and access FREE medical care - legally?

Until we address IMMIGRATION and NOT covering illegal aliens...our numbers are off-the-charts illogical and low.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | February 25, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe that anyone actually puts any credence in what the Republicans say about health care reform. Their explanations, philosophies and excuses are really just a smoke screen for the fact that they've made a partisan, political decision to prevent Obama and the Democrats from achieving anything, so the Republicans can then scream and demagogue about how the Democrats can't get anything done. Seems pretty blatant and obvious, but if Ezra Klein puts any credence in what the Republicans say, then the average American, who doesn't folllow this stuff very carefully, may also buy it. Of course, the average American's job doesn't depend on placating and humoring the Republicans, lest he be accused of being part of the "liberal media."

Posted by: ejs2 | February 25, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

vision

Do you have health insurance or any kind?

Why do you think you have it? To save your life and health and keep from going bankrupt?

If you get seriously ill, are you going to pay for your costs or will you expect your insurance to pay for it?

If you expect your insurance to pay for it, then why are you complaining about me wanting insurance so my insurance will provide me the same benefits you currently have?

What a greedy loser you are.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"At best, what you can say today is demonstrating is that there's a sharp contrast in the philosophies on display: Democrats believe the federal government is capable of writing and implementing legislation that will take a big step forward on a hard problem. Republicans believe government doesn't have that capability, and shouldn't try. There's no real compromise available between those two position, but they're philosophies that the American people can choose between."

Hey Einstein - look at the polls. The people have decided and they aren't siding with you and the Democrats.

Posted by: gorams1 | February 25, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

WITH TYPICAL ARROGANCE, NARCISSISM, SMUGNESS AND CLOSED-MINDEDNESS AND WITH HUBRIS BRIMMING OVER, THE PRESIDENT ATTEMPTS TO CON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
Republican Senator John McCain charged correctly on that the Democrats' healthcare plan was drafted "behind closed-doors" despite President Barack Obama's eight campaign vows of openness on the issue and those were on video tape.

"Both of us ... promised 'change in Washington,'" McCain, who challenged Obama for president in the 2008 election, reminded him at the White House healthcare summit.

"Eight times you said negotiations on healthcare reform would be conducted before C-Span cameras," McCain said. "I'm glad, more than a year later, that they are here."

"Unfortunately this product was not produced in that fashion," McCain said. "It was produced behind doors. It was produced with unsavory -- I say that with respect -- deal making."

That is why the plan conceived in bribery and extortion should not be the model to work from. It should be scrapped and a foundation of insurance reforms of competition, across state lines, anti trust waivers gone, portability and pools for pre existing coverage bills passed easily and without any cost to the taxpayers. The competition for our business would begin at once, and we would be given choices as we are now in automobile insurance ads that we see on TV and on line every day.

Competition brings down costs. Think McDonalds v. Burger King, Target v. WalMart.
Auto insurance is something that is tailored to the needs of those who buy insurance. Cadillac plans or minimum plans, everyone can choose for themselves. No government mandate here. If one doesn't want to buy auto insurance they need not as long as they have decided not to own and drive a vehicle. They can rent one with rental insurance provided. They can ride a bike or a subway. Millions in New York City do not drive cars and need not pay for my insurance.

Posted by: mharwick | February 25, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

It's pointless talking to conservatives about health care reform. They think it works just fine except for lawsuites. (Why those aren't part of the free market they aren't saying.) I can only presume none of them pay for their own insurance. Mine now costs 13% of my gross pay. If I had to pay for all of it it would be 26%. Doesn't that seem a little excessive to anyone? It's broken and needs fixing. Conservatives aren't going to fix it. They think it's just fine.

Posted by: kchses1 | February 25, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

What's he mean - Congress can't do Comprehensive?

We won the war on poverty, didn't we?

We won the war on drugs, didn't we?

We've eliminated crime, haven't we?

We've eliminated racism, haven't we?

What can Alexander be thinking?

Posted by: RobertAJonesJr | February 25, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Any law with built on mandates, requirements, penalties etc is doomed to fail. Citizens will only participate if it is their interest. This bill is not. Are we going to make all healthy people criminals? But of course, Obama knows best: one size fits all. The guy wouldnt know reality if it hit him in the face

And for all of you who think single payer is a panacea. Its great until you have cancer or a heart attack and get to wait in line for months before you get your free healthcare. Good way to keep costs down is let half the people die before they get any service. Also means we will only spend our healthcare dollars on the healthiest people. Good for me until I actually get sick, then sayonara

Posted by: bruce18 | February 25, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Do you think we can tell doctors what they can earn and keep a small portion of the doctors we have today? I don't think so"

Uhm, yes, since all those countries you discuss do it, and don't lose the bulk of their physicians either. I guess some of the doctors who left the UK and Canada to make more $$ in the US might return to their home countries, but where else would this flood of US doctors go to make the 7 figure salaries?

Anyway, none of this is relevant to the HCR bill at hand. There's nothing in here that limits doctor income, if anything, they'll make more since there will be more patients to treat.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Another way to put it is that Republicans don't think that government works, and prove it whenever they govern. Now they are intent on preventing everyone else from governing.

They did such a wonderful job, what with 2 wars off budget, and driving the economy to a free-fall, that they insist on repeating it.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Sen. Alexander that Washington does not have the ability to solve the economic problems involved in Health Care or any free market issue. The Democrats have individual ideologies about how to control instead of how to punish the criminal aspects that provide the goods and services.

When government refuses to recognize socialist corruption because it is so wide spread and fully interwoven into both parties, there is no reform that will or can take place. To transform Health Care as Barry chooses is detrimental to any economic model but that does not deter the agenda driven individual from pursuing his end, which in Barry’s case is a form of communism. The private sector is the only place where reform can be achieved. Government can not and has never produced or economically provided any goods or services to date. Why does he think it would work better with his deranged intellect at the helm.

Posted by: longbow651 | February 25, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The core of the health care problem isn't the uninsured. That needs to be dealt with, preferably by not screwing me to do it, but coverage for the uninsured is mostly an ideological grail of the Democratic party going back decades. Heck, most of them probably don't even know why they're for it anymore. The real problem is costs and the disconnect between consumers of health care and payers. The Obama plan is truly lame on that score--it simply picks different pockets and when that fails, as it inevitably will, they will impose cost and regulatory controls and create even more arbitrary economic disarray. What's on the table is
just dumb public policy and I defy anyone to find a contrary consensus among people who really understand health care policy.

Posted by: LHS2 | February 25, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama was talking respectfully enough that finally Eric Cantor just blurted out the *nub of the issue*:

"We just can't afford it."

Since reform would subsidize premiums for lower and many middle class households, and only wealthy households would pay on net for reform at about $100 billion per year, this has to be about the entire Federal Budget.

But in the Federal Budget we are paying about $700 billion right now, in one year, on defense, while our active enemies number in the thousands...

5% of GDP.

Contrast: China, which has upped it's defense spending greatly is gauged by experts to be spending about 2% of GDP (which is more than their official number).

That 3% of GDP difference could actually sink the American future.

http://findingourdream.blogspot.com/2010/02/eric-cantor-fingers-key-sticking-point.html

Posted by: HalHorvath | February 25, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

Yes thank you, I know what insurance is. And I've said I'm fine with the senate bill as it is (with a stronger mandate, with stronger cost controls with a stronger employer responsibility, with no pre-ex). Its when those like you take it too far or don't tell the truth about it is where I have a problem.


I don't fight for corporate profits. I fight for MLR's to hold insurers accountable but I'd want to hold pharma and doctors accountable too as well as patients of which SOME have made poor health choices that have CAUSED their pre-existing conditions (see obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc). I fight for cost control. Maybe I'm just going to purgatory instead.

Why should I pay forever for someone making poor choices IF I make the right ones and scrimp and save for myself and my family? If someone, through no fault of their own, has a pre-existing condition then they should be taken care of. Because we can't seperate those out realistically I approve of the Senate plan with additional cost controls on all.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

My view of these proceedings

Republicans ask detailed questions, from the bill itelf, about costs, coverage, etc...

Democrats/Obama reply with campaign sound bites, or cherry-picked examples "there was a guy in Kansas who had XXX disease..."

Posted by: pgr88 | February 25, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

ezra, you can't compromise with reality - you have to come to grips with it. we dont have the money to do this. whats the point in passing a bill that is going to cost $2.5 trillion in its first 10 years of full implementation and raising over a trillion dollars to do it when the president is telling us that we have to cut spend and raise all the revenues we can to cut the deficit? you cant claim all the credit by throwing money around like it grows on trees and then shirk responsibility for budgeting by leaving it to a "deficit commission".

any number of things can be popular and desirable in the abstract but if progressives cant own up to the fact that they are presiding over a government which doesnt even have enough money to pay its existing bills, let alone incur new ones, you just blew your chance to prove the american people that you can be in charge of the federal purse.

Posted by: dummypants | February 25, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans are like the TERROIST, they want to destroy America.
Bring on the TEA Party NUTS.

Posted by: llevario2 | February 25, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

bruce18:

"Any law with built on mandates, requirements, penalties etc is doomed to fail."

I wasn't aware that the income tax failed. A law based on mandates, requirements and penalties somehow soldiers on.

"And for all of you who think single payer is a panacea. Its great until you have cancer or a heart attack and get to wait in line for months before you get your free healthcare."

Why is every right winger just programmed to believe these lies? Do you think people in Canada and the UK are so heartless as to put heart attack patients on waiting lists? As for cancer, for every socialized medicine waiting list horror story, I can quote an "insurance company denied life saving treatment" equally horrific story right back. Anecdotes are useless. Canadians and Brits pay less for health care and get better results.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr @ February 25, 2010 12:24 PM wrote "can we get off your bashing of Lamar Alexander. I think 90% of us agree he knows not what he speaks of."

Unfortunately apparently the Republicans consider him important, otherwise he would not have been invited there. So the nonsense he spouts by default represents their views.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"Whether government has the capability to design and implement a comprehensive legislation" is not a philosophical question, but rather an empirical one. The empirical answer to the question can come from the experience of governments in other countries - other developed countries. To me, the evidence seems to indicate that the answer is overwhelmingly yes.

Posted by: arifmamun | February 25, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
25 February 2010

After today's Summit on Health-Care reform, it should be quite obvious to the American people that Republicans are in reality against comprehensive reform of a system which is already judged to be financially unsustainable--meaning it's going bankrpt.

They are in favor of merely "nibling at the edges" to give the American people the deceptive impression that they are for reform.

But it happens that Barack Obama won the presidency on a pledge to reform health care so as to put it on a financially stable basis, to cover most of the 47 million Americans who are without health insurance, and to introduce the kind of competition which would bring health-care costs down nationally.

President Obama and his Democratic administration are now trying their best to deliver on that promise to the American people--with or without Republican cooperation.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | February 25, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Where is a mandated health insurance model that works?

Massachusetts is the only state that has one at present, and it is a FAILURE.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky

How about Germany, Switzerland, and Japan for starters?

Now, where is this utopian hands-off free market healthcare system that works?

Posted by: leftcoaster | February 25, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

I have an insurance plan that HONESTLY you wouldn't understand (IMO). i have an HSA. I have $13,000 SAVED of my own money in my HSA. My family and I live very healthy lifestyles so that we don't need to use our healthcare unless I have a serious illness. In my state the maximum costs out of my pocket are limited and capped. Sure they should do that in every state. As I've said (BUT YOU DON"T LISTEN) I'm FOR the senate plan.

I don't complain to you or begrudge you insurance, I"M FOR THE SENATE PLAN. Just not all the fixes that destroy costs that are in the House plan and all of these reconciliation fixes.

WHy doesn't Ezra speak to how antagonistic Harry Reid has been? A Republican brought up the fear that the American public has that they're STILL trying to jam their plan's more liberal components through reconciliation and Reid in a partisan tone blasted him? Harry, that won't help your approval rating in NV.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

My view of these proceedings

Republicans ask detailed questions, from the bill itelf, about costs, coverage, etc...

Democrats/Obama reply with campaign sound bites, or cherry-picked examples "there was a guy in Kansas who had XXX disease..."

******

yes, and obama's favorite response is "well you want to cut cost? good, because so we do. so it looks like we agree on that, so we can move on."

its embarassing that the president, after a year of shoveling the american people his far left crap, is coming back to the table with his tail between his legs and trying to pretend everything is hunky dory.

republicans need to argue their points so democrats can no longer lie to the american people about their not being any alternatives. and then at the end, they have to say, "we can anything of these free market reforms immediately and anything that will cost the government a dime needs to be put off for a second term mr. president"

Posted by: dummypants | February 25, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"ezra, you can't compromise with reality - you have to come to grips with it. we dont have the money to do this. whats the point in passing a bill that is going to cost $2.5 trillion in its first 10 years"

Suddenly $900B over 10 years becomes $2.5T. Where does this magical figure come from? Who knows. It sounds scary though! Just like the eleventy-nine klegillion America overspends on the military! Unaffordable!

Hey conservatives, quoting scary imaginary budget figures is just more incentive to raise taxes. Yes, taxes can be much much higher without bringing on a Mad Max thunderdome. Like under that Socialist Ronald Reagan - 70% at the top end.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The gvmt defeated hitler.

The gvmt puts out fires across the nation everyday.

The gvmt created the Internet, which has created tens millions of private jobs.

The entire economy is based on a framework created by the gvmt.

Every day you drive on roads created by the gvmt in cars that are safe because of the gvmt.

Every day you eat healthy food because of the gvmt.

Every day murderers are put in jail because of the gvmt.

Men landed on the moon because of gvmt.

Electricity and water are in your home ON-DEMAND because of the gvmt.

Toxins and pollution are minimized because of the gvmt.

When you sell or buy a home, or invest money, or let ANY contract, you are afforded numerous and significant protections (that no sane person would refuse) because of gvmt.

The failings of gvmt, which indeed exist, are primarily due, not to gvmt, but to those in gvmt who err or sabotage gvmt. Dems and Repubs both err, but only Republicans sabotage. And that is why I, a USAF verteran, am no longer a Republican.

Only idiots truly believe gvmt can't do anything right.

Only idiots truly believe private enterprise can't engage in predatory practices.

The constitution assigns many powers and responsibilities to gvmt because our forefather knew that gvmt was essential. They also knew gvmt could be abused and sabotaged, or that gvmt could abuse sabotage, and that is why there are checks and balances and the bill of rights (etc).

I am no more a friend or enemy of gvmt as I am of private enterprise. They each have their virtues and faults. I am one who recognizes they both have roles to play. Republicans, and many commenters here, want you to believe we are better off by abandoning what has worked since 1776 (a balance of gvmt and free-enterprise). Indeed, a non-bartering type of modern free-enterprise can not even begin to function without a gvmt-provided framework.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - You are correct in saying this is a battle of philosophies, but battles of philosophy are won AFTER the votes are taken.

We can say decades later that Social Security and Medicare have worked BECAUSE THEY PASSED THE BILLS! They allowed the bills to become law and then the American people then were able to evaluate how those laws affected their lives. And the consensus was, on those two issues as examples, the programs worked. Democrats need to push through a bill to get it into that workable phase, where people have to live with the consequences of the bill to make long-term judgments about a program's effectiveness. It can take years for that consensus to come about, or for the raw emotions displayed during the debate to pass those laws to be tempered by time and fade.

But you can't win a war on competing philosophies by not passing a bill. You have to test the law in practice.

Posted by: pk2031 | February 25, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

leftcoaster,


So are you going to tell doctors what they can make or should I? Are you going to tell pharma they can't make profits or should I?


ANViennaVA,

unfortunately the Republicans (as always) are short-sighted. They should have more doctors there like Boustany and Coburn and less politicians. Same for Democrats.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

Please get Obamas balls out of your mouth.

Posted by: mwesty11 | February 25, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

For an interesting take on *why R's and D's have such difficulty "compromising", or even communicating*, check out this article re: what science tells us about the "political brain", i.e., how we (R's & D's)are hard-wired differently and the impact of that in the realm of politics (and life in general).

It certainly gives new meaning to all we have observed to date, and continue to observe right now, on this blog and in today's Summit.

Here's the link:

http://www.truthout.org/obama-tea-parties-and-battle-our-brains57089

Posted by: onewing1 | February 25, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

truck1 says:

“…symptom of narcissistic personality (straight from diagnostic manual) : always bring the topic back to yourself, always make it about you. As in, "when Malia had to go to the emergency room, when Sasha was sick...." Has there ever been a president who spoke this way? Doubtful.”…

No, truck, I daresay there hasn’t. No other US president has ever made such an honest attempt to bring himself down to the level of the common man, to exhibit some humility and display that he genuinely understands what many of us are enduring in this crisis.

(When will you people get over the fact that a black man is just smarter than you are, and realize that your constant carping about teleprompters and other niggling stuff just reveals your own inadequacies, not his.)

Posted by: pennyhutchinson | February 25, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

There is no way that Mr. Klein has ever worked in politics. The GOP does not want any changes, because the insurance industry wants this killed. The top CEO's and the lobbyists are talking to the Republican leadership EVERYDAY. They want this dead and will spend whatever it takes. Compromise won't happen, because the insurance corporations want it dead. The GOP sees that as the only goal.

Posted by: davidbrowne | February 25, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

pk2031 is right. It's amusing to go back and read the eregious nonsense spouted by conservatives opposing all the cherished programs of the American welfare state. Ronald Reagan even recorded an album scare mongering about Medicare.

None of it comes true, but each new generation of gullible or cynical conservatives spouts or believes the same absurd paranoid rhetoric. Death panels is just another in a long history of right wing pants wetting terror over banal and moderate improvements to the welfare state.

Which reminds me, does the HCR include better coverage for psychiatric disorders? Free psyche screenings and subsidized anti-paranoia drugs. Something to look into, there's plenty of need out there.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyway, WHERE IS THE REPUBLICANS' PLAN!!!!! I don't care what they do not like. I want to know what they will vote YES on!!!!

Governing is not a littany of what you don't like. It is a statement of what you can accept.

So, whre is their plan!?!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

How about Germany, Switzerland, and Japan for starters?

Now, where is this utopian hands-off free market healthcare system that works?
*********

sorry, wrong again. all those system fail the sustainability test. isnt that a big buzz word among democrats? "sustainability"?

we need to go back to a system where we can spend anymore than we can afford. thats PRIVATE insurance. if you cant pay the premiums you dont get coverage although you would no longer having blue state legislators enjoying their own lobbying game by forcing to by a certain level of insurance or go without any at all. what state legislature has the right to tell you you have to get x, y and z in your insurance plan when you can only afford a, b, and c and would like to pay for just that coverage? NONE

and if you cant afford coverage and you go without it, yeah some people will die earlier than they would otherwise, but its not like this is a problem that ANY healh care reform will solve because having "coverage" doesnt mean everything is covered or the thing you need to save your life is covered.

democrats are just plain stupid or are the most dishonest group of socialists ever to walk the face of the earth. have the courage of your convinctions. i do. if you cant afford a doctor and a doctor wll not treat you for free and your neighbor wont pay for your proecedure then you may very well die for lack of health care insurance.

i would rather spend a trillion dollars on making sure people dont die of MURDER or get RAPED than in trying to make sure no one dies because they dont have health care isnurance.

dems have FUNNY priorities


Posted by: dummypants | February 25, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Anyway, WHERE IS THE REPUBLICANS' PLAN!!!!! I don't care what they do not like. I want to know what they will vote YES on!!!!

Governing is not a littany of what you don't like. It is a statement of what you can accept.

So, whre is their plan!?!
******

god, you're an idiot. its people like you who just believe every word that comes out of obama's thin little lying lips that have wasted the last year in this country.

its on the house republican website. it has been SINCE OCTOBER!!!

god

Posted by: dummypants | February 25, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

AMViennaVA,

if you watched the summit you'd see that Republicans want to allow individuals and companies to group togheter into associations by themselves, not into some forced govenrment bureaucracy.

I'd love to see Ezra do a comparison of AHP's and the Exchanges but I'm afraid he's afraid of the result of the comparison so I'm guessing we'll just have to stick with the "Republicans KILL puppies" schtick.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

vision

If all you have is a HSA with $13,000 in it, then no matter how healthy of a lifestyle you have, if you get seriously ill or in an accident you caused, you will go bankrupt and maybe even die.

You are an idiot if you think your HSA is going to save you.

You are also an idiot if you think you will not become seriously ill just because you practice a healthy lifetsyle.

Last year my brother, very healthy, caught a staff infection from an unknown source and only after a half dozen surgeries and a two week stay in a hospital did they finally manage to save his thumb, which had mysteriously become blackened with infection. This is a common occurrence across the nation. The cost was well over $50,000, paid for by his insurance.

A friend of mine broke her wrist in December when she fell. She too was healthy and active. Her surgeries and therapy cost well over $20,000. She is only now able to regain some function in her right fingers and hand.

Many 100,000s Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical related issues. About half have health insurance.

You may not realize this, but a million dollar policy is NOT ENOUGH to guarantee your life or your financial well-being.

Anyone who has insurance and who tries to stop others from getting theirs because of vague ideological claims that gvmt is ineffective (or whatever) are no better than Arab terrorists. In fact, more Americans die each year because of lack of insurance than at the hands of terrorists.

You people make me sick.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The entire discourse about health care is really about the next election. Each side is more concerned about their 'base' than what is best for the country. Our republic was established with the intent that it would take compromise to govern--a House,a Senate and an Executive. It worked very well for 200 years but apparently no more and it is the fault of both parties.

Posted by: jslivesay | February 25, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Obviously there are deep philospophical diferences between left and right that cannot be bridged. That's why we have elections. The left, now led by Obama and Pelosi et el., won the last election decisively and should have been able to pass any plan they wanted. Unfortunately for them but fortunately for rational Americans, there are also deep philosphical differences between left and not-so-left Democrats and Obamaites couldn't perform as they promised. Western European countries have bigger welfare programs than the US and they all are struggling to finance them- with great
difficulty. Why Democrats want the Americans to be saddled with even more debt than Obama has amassed is beyond rational understanding.

Posted by: mhr614 | February 25, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Healthcare costs (including healthcare insurance costs) have doubled for Americans over the past decade. The 'do nothing' or even the 'do very little' approach strikes me as an approach which will have those costs double yet again over the next decade.

Can Americans afford this? My wife and I are self employed and in our late 50's. Even with the high deductable HSA health insurance coverage we currently have the insurance cost alone is over $15,000 a year. Add to that the out of pocket costs and we are easily out over $20K a year.

Unlike my Republican friends, I REALLY don't want to see that DOUBLE over the next 10 years. That is not a 'let the market solve it' approach that is viable.

I have also been annoyed by the talk of 'rationing' -- we have rationing today -- if you can't afford insurance, or are denied coverage and don't have a LARGE stash of cash, you don't get medical care (going to the ER with the flu doesn't constitute care -- and only results in excessive transfer costs all thru the system).

Posted by: Barry8 | February 25, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey dummypants:

"sorry, wrong again. all those system fail the sustainability test. isnt that a big buzz word among democrats? "sustainability"?"

Are you going to even try and back any of that up, or do you think you can just wave your hands and declare that the less expensive and universal health care systems of numerous wealthy democracies are unsustainable and we'll all just accept that?

It is as if you guys do not have a filter that says: "someone else might not see this claim as self-evident, I should show my work."

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"Any law with built on mandates, requirements, penalties etc is doomed to fail."

Hmm ... Income tax; Social Security; Medicare; Selective Service ...

I believe that these are all madated and required; and there are sever penalties associated with most of them, too.

So, are the Republicans and their supporters proposing to do away with them because they failed? If so, how does one expalin all those who protested against federal govenment intrusion in health care, and demanded that it stay off Medicare?

A little reason would be useful, would it not?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I didn't think I would find this interesting but I have. One thing that I found most telling was when Pres. Obama summarized and said we agree on this, this, this & this, etc. It shows that a lot of what has been taking place is talking points and "just saying no".

Posted by: rlj1 | February 25, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Only an idiot would imagine that any government can sustain an undertaking is insurmountable as health care when they have no ability to actually produce or provide the actual services. When they demand a service be manufactured for X dollars but because of logistics or actual cost how is it provided?

The only difference between government policing itself and government policing the private sector is the government gets payola twice. Socialism works until other peopl's money runs out.

Posted by: longbow651 | February 25, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Scrap the current bill, propose "Medicare as an Option for All", and let the GOP (being such champions of Medicare) try to run against that. It's a plan that's popular with the public, and most importantly, is easy to understand. Stop being Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, Dems, and tell Lucy to shove it...

Posted by: jps78 | February 25, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

If you knew what you were talking about, you'd be scary. But since you don't, eh, not so bad. As i've said before AD NAUSEUM I'm FOR THE SENATE BILL. I'M FOR AN END TO PRE-EX. I'm just against having NO cost containment or too little cost containment is.


You do know what cost containment is, right? oh forget it.

And I only have $13,000 in an HSA because I just started it 3 years ago. I put in the maximum allowed every year so this figure will continue to grow over time and when and if I don't use it, I'll have a supplemental retirement plan, you know to supplement wonderful social security.

As I've said i have no problem subsidizing coverage through an end to pre-ex as is basically done in my state (and I'm assuming not in yours) although I'd just prefer you'd not be so obnoxious about my gifts to you. Just say thank you, that's all.

If you're asking WHAT my gifts are, my premium goes up when normally uninsurable people are in the risk pool. I'm fine with that since its the right thing to do but keep spouting off with your nonsense (because you don't know what you're talking about) and you'll honestly make yourself look silly. Well, I guess sillier.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Hmm ... Income tax; Social Security; Medicare; Selective Service ...
I believe that these are all madated and required; and there are sever penalties associated with most of them, too.
So, are the Republicans and their supporters proposing to do away with them because they failed? If so, how does one expalin all those who protested against federal govenment intrusion in health care, and demanded that it stay off Medicare?
A little reason would be useful, would it not?
=============================

All well written simple legislation. Why did they all fail?

Posted by: longbow651 | February 25, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Anyway, WHERE IS THE REPUBLICANS' PLAN!!!!! I don't care what they do not like. I want to know what they will vote YES on!!!!

So, where is their plan!?!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010
///////////////////////////////////////////
The above Poster is right.
Whats wrong with these Republicans?

We have a Republican plan all worked out. Its been on the shelves since 1974 waiting to be implemented?

What kind of Republicans are you that ignore this plan? It was NIXONS PLAN. Eisenhower's vice president, the two Greatest republicans of the last 140 years.
Are these really Republicans? Maybe they should be removed and some people with correct views appointed to replace them.

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2009/September/03/nixon-proposal.aspx

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"...leaves most of the insurance system alone"? The Federal price controls on all insurance? Federal manadate to purchase insurance otherwise get fined or go to jail? Federal command of insurance policy terms? What on earth are you talking about?

Mr. Klein...please don't insult us.


All we need is to be able to buy insurance from any company in the Nation no matter where you live, take it with you from employer to employer, and keep it during a reasonable periods of unemployment. 90% of the problem solved

Posted by: tom2 | February 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

for anyone whose nerves are being shattered by the summit, "a day at the races," with the marx brothers, is on turner classic movies. they must have done this intentionally for intermittent comic relief.

sending more light for barack obama.
"yes we can."
i still have my shepherd fairey picture of obama, that says, "progress."
what a painstaking, snail'scrawl of a journey it is, to make even an inch of progress in 2010.
we actually have elected officials, trying to obstruct government from working.
snails in the garden move faster than this obstructed, barnacled government.
at the end of the day, we will have a victory.
water can move a stone.
we must just get through this.

Posted by: jkaren | February 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

the state of tenn is a welfare state.....cut federal spending there.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | February 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Lomillialor,

Great post!

I don’t hear it said enough that the “govt is bad” meme was started by corporatists who (successfully as it turns out) wanted the poor and undereducated to do battle against government rules and regulations for them.

When will the poor, undereducated masses - who will swallow anything if it emanates out of a mouth reinforcing their own hate and prejudice – ever “get it” that they’ve been brainwashed to be against govt (their only protector) by the very folks out to get them.

The way the Republicans have mastered the art of successfully taking the part of the very evil they claim to expose is truly impressive. They are either very cunning, or we’re just dumb as hammers. (That’s rhetorical…btw..I know the answer).

Posted by: pennyhutchinson | February 25, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I work, so I don't have time to read ALL the entries, but in the 15 or so I actually read I noticed that not one mentioned that 25% of the medical procedures are done to avoid being sued. This translates to 650 billion in unnecesary tests/procedures. Even if those numbers are off by half, thats still a substantial amount of money that could be saved with the elephant solution in the room. Take on tort reform and the lawyers. If this is a repeat, I am sorry, but I have to go back to work.

Posted by: jay441 | February 25, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr @ February 25, 2010 1:54 PM: I appreciate what you are saying, but a statement of principles is NOT a plan. A plan has details and provisions. That is how you get to 1000 or 2000 pages.

For example, yesterday Orin Hatch publicshed an article in USA Today. It read great! It wanted stated to be left alone, and individuals free to shop plans in any state. That amounts to interstate commerce that falls under the purview of the federal government. So, Hatch proposed NOTHING! And there were no details on how to accomplish what he was proposing.

As for individuals coming together ... WONDERFUL. Who will keep an eye on things, etc.

That is 'nice' about statements: they are short. The problem is that it takes details to determine what is being proposed.

So, WHERE IS THE REPUBLICANS' PLAN!?! Personally I believe that their pockets have been lined very nicely, and will continue to delay and postpone. We have seen how wonderfully deregulation works, especially where money is at stake, haven't we? I mean Wall Street nd the ans gave us a great example of how deregulation fails. Even Greenspan has said so!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

longbow

America is the ONLY civilized country that doesn't sustain a national healthcare program. Only in America do you die or go bankrupt if you get seriously ill even with private insurance). I guess what you are saying is that America can no longer compete with the rest of the world. So much for what free-enterprise has done for us.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Mitt Romney summed up the Republican cognitive dissonance when he said that government shouldn't be involved in health care, and we shouldn't cut Medicare.

Romney clearly understands that Medicare is government-run health insurance. He also understands that Medicare is a highly popular program and that Republicans would lose millions of senior voters if they tried to cut Medicare and Social Security.

So, the Republican position is to publicly support the two biggest, most expensive and most socialistic government programs, while opposing government activity in smaller, less expensive areas.

Posted by: AxelDC | February 25, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

longbow651:

"Only an idiot would imagine that any government can sustain an undertaking is insurmountable as health care when they have no ability to actually produce or provide the actual services."

Only an idiot. And the 4 or 500 million people who currently live in countries with governents that do exactly what you assert is impossible.

Reaganism is a religion for you isn't it? From voodoo economics to just plain voodoo. Irish and Reality need not apply.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

vision

just stop it. You are humiliating yourself. If you don't like my responses to you, then stop provoking me with nonsense.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@Lom: "You and all republicans who fight for nothing but corporate profits are going to hell when you die."

Hah! Well, you just can't argue with that line of argument, can you?

Goodness.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

In reading Mr. Klein's column, it occurred to me that, if the conservative philosophy is that the market solves all things, then the three branches of government should not exist. The market would solve everything - including crime and war. For example, we would each purchase police protection to the best of our abilities. "So, Mr. Kantor, how many policemen do you want in your neighborhood this week? We have a special on SWAT teams. But, they don't respond to burglaries or car theft - just armed hostage situations and active shooters. You'd have to pay full price for a regular patrol car. Extra if the officer leaves the vehicle." The same would apply to national defense, contract law in the courts, drinking water quality, etc., etc., etc. Oh, and Mr. Boehner, that Air Force jet that you take on "familiarization tours" of Ireland and Italy is now run by US Air. Checked bags are extra.

Posted by: jfCua | February 25, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

This is bifurcation at its worst. Just because the Democrats are wrong doesn't mean the Republicans are right. Congress can solve problems -- it just that this bill will cause more problems than it solves.

The real key for liberals is that they don't care what problems the bill causes. As long as they extend medical coverage to the uninsured, they don't care about liberty, freedom, the cost, the constitution etc. etc. In their minds, those are just concepts invented by the rich to keep from giving the poor their deserved medical attention.

Posted by: scott3 | February 25, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr - You seem like a smart and responsible person, but do you know how much an overnight stay in the hospital can cost?

My mother recently had an overnight hospital stay. The hospital messed up and sent her the bill, not her insurance company. It was $7,500/night. Yeah, each and every night. Now the insurance company has pull, so I'm sure they had that amount lowered, but if she wasn't insured she would have been stuck with that huge bill.

This is the problem I have with HSAs. You can pay in for years (in your case three years equals 13K) and blow through it in days.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

jay441:

"Even if those numbers are off by half, thats still a substantial amount of money that could be saved with the elephant solution in the room. Take on tort reform and the lawyers. "

Why didn't tort reform work in the States that tried it then? Insurance is regaulated at the state level, malpractice suits are launched in State courts, and several states did big time tort reform. Where were the savings?

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Also, if the market will solve all problems, where's the experimental data? Where has this been tried and shown to succeed the way conservatives talk about it?

Posted by: MosBen | February 25, 2010
...........................................
That depends on how you define success.
Maybe it solves all problems for some but not all.

For example, keeping 6% or more of the working population ALWAYS unemployed and homeless as a side effect solves the inflation problems for the lending class.

Of course the working population then is saddled with all kinds of problems, but that's THEM. So if we just ignore them, its cool.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

you're right. I'll stop putting facts toghether to prove you wrong. Maybe I should just go back to killing puppies (like my republican friends).

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

So the senile old ba$tard McCain, like all the republijerks are making this all about anything but the issue. Typical $scumbag behavior. Republicans:

1. homophobic neanderthals
2. tax-phobic cockroaches
3. selfish cowards
4. religious hypocrites
5. mean spirited jackasses
6. hateful mamma's boys
7. sexually repressed perverts
8. anal retentive crybabies
9. self-righteous simpletons
10. misogynists
11. rednecks
12. anti-intellectuals
13. paranoid schizophrenics
13. callous slugs
14. greedy hogs
15. stupid, stupid, stupid

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | February 25, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

....Why didn't tort reform work in the States that tried it then? Insurance is regaulated at the state level, malpractice suits are launched in State courts, and several states did big time tort reform. Where were the savings?

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010
///////////////////////////////////
California had tort reform. Limits placed on malpractice suits. No noticeable savings.
What happened is the HMO's use the tort limits as their baseline. They will cut corners and fail to diagnose a person, to delay treatment, deliberately risking a malpractice suit when the cost of real treatment exceeds the potential malpractice penalty.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

nislieb,

thank you. And its not pull. Its called a network discount. Kind of like medicare does but medicare FORCES providers to accept their rates. They could do that for all people but then who could afford to be a doctor??

My HSA does work (no matter what Lomillalor says).

I have a $2500 deductible and then I am capped at $5000 per year to an unlimited lifetime maximum costs. If I'm in the hospital for 6 months i'm still not paying more than $5000 (unless it carries over into a second calendar year). Also i carry disability insurance to pay my expenses if i'm not able to work. Again, to me that's responsible.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

AMviennaVA asked: "WHERE IS THE REPUBLICANS PLAN!!!!"

Weren't you listening to Obama at about 1:15, where he said "I've Read Beohner's plan, I've read Cantor's plan, I've read the House Republican Plan..."

Seems Obama knows there are Republican plans out there. Why don't you stop being a sheep and spouting what you read in the WaPo editorial section??

Posted by: pgr88 | February 25, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Tort reform has been tried (notably, in Texas) and has had an average effect of lowering costs by 0.50%-1.0%. The only people who would benefit from tort reform are sloppy doctors.

It's a GOP talking point. The GOP, including GOP members with a "D" after their names, are only interested in preserving the status quo, and couldn't care less about those who can't get medical care.

If we're not going to set up any type of national single payer system (which we won't anytime soon, and that's a shame, since it seems to be the best system--ask a Canadian), the real solution is to remove the profit motive for providing basic care and emergency care from insurance, and only allowing it for supplementary things.

Switzerland has done this, and has provided universal coverage and lowered costs, and the insurance companies there can keep on existing and making profits, just not the obscene levels of profits they made beforehand.

Posted by: Dan78 | February 25, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

vision

I have been factually detailed with you, so stop pretending you have conveyed any useful facts to me.

Explain to me again how $13,000 is going to save your pathetic life if you get seriously ill?

You may not think Republican policies are dangerous, but 45,000 Americans die each year due to lack of insurance. 100,000s go bankrupt each year for medical issues.

Millions of Seniors DEMAND their SS and medicare, which was provided by Democrats. Republicans have until this year attempted to cut or limit entitlement spending. It is widely acknowledged that SS and medicare has save millions of lives and raised standards of living for elderly.

If you have nothing intelligent to say, and want to pretend that vague talk of "kittens" is a fact, then why not bother someone else?

If any of my statements or claims is not true, then quote me and challenge me. Otherwise, shutup.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

For example, keeping 6% or more of the working population ALWAYS unemployed and homeless as a side effect solves the inflation problems for the lending class.

Of course the working population then is saddled with all kinds of problems, but that's THEM. So if we just ignore them, its cool.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Do you have any idea what the unemployment rate in Spain is right now?

19%.

the argument you made is ludicrous.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr - You seem like a smart and responsible person, but do you know how much an overnight stay in the hospital can cost?

Of course he doesn't, though I have related several examples to him (which he then ignored).

He thinks a $13,000 HSA and a healthy lifestyle is all he needs to live a long, happy, financially secure life. I sure hope he doesn't have genetic issues with his heart (for example). A simple bladder infection alone at the local ER can now cost well over $2000 if you don't have insurance.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

I'm going to ignore you from here on out because reading comprehension seems to be beyond you.

$13,000 in 2009 when I put in $6150 increases to $19150.

then when i add in more money next year it increases and so on and so on. Get it? Oh forget it, i'm sure you don't.

Also what about "NJ has NO CAPS on benefits and DOES have caps in costs to individuals" DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND???

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Dan78:

"If we're not going to set up any type of national single payer system (which we won't anytime soon, and that's a shame, since it seems to be the best system--ask a Canadian)"

I love my health care system, but I'm not disingenuous on this point: France and Japan seem to get slightly better results than Canada with their hybrid systems. However I'm not certain of exactly why so I don't want to speak more surely that their systems would work better if done in Canada.

One thing I always wonder about is the impact of Canadian doctors being lured to the US to make the big $$, and what that does to our system. I don't think French or Japanese medical professionals have the same incentive to go to the US.

Another thing is that our single payer is actually 13 single payer systems run by each province, something like medicaid. I don't really see what value having 14 health ministries (13 provinces plus a federal one) adds, and it might be better to have true national single payer, run by Ottawa. The provinces (and our Constitution) would never allow it, so it's a hypothetical, but it does seem to have some unnecessary duplication.

But hands down Canadian health care is better than American.

However, once you decide to go "universal, health care is a right of citizenship" then there are multiple ways to do that each with pros and minuses.

I'd also note the world's second most expensive system is the Swiss. They have something like Romneycare + regulated pricing. Still better than America, but still too much market reliance for no obvious benefit.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

pgr88

Lamar said today on TV they don't believe in a comprehensive gvmt plan. So stop pretending the Republicans have one. Their only plan is to block the Democrats from helping anyone. If you can't admit that, you are either a liar or an idiot. Which is it?

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

jay441

An answer to "tort reform" would be easier if more doctors weren’t greedy, bankrupt, immoral Republicans who amply demonstrate less than ideal concern for their fellow man. Who’s to say they won’t be tempted to increase their personal wealth or be coerced into demonstrating party loyalty by offering sub-standard healthcare, possibly even killing off some of the country’s poor and “entitled.”

But, I guess we should just “trust” in our Republican brethren, right? (Yeah, right....how's THAT work out for us in the past?)

Posted by: pennyhutchinson | February 25, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

vision : $13,000 in 2009 when I put in $6150 increases to $19150.

Oh, so you think $19,150 is sufficient to guarantee you a long, happy, ill-free, bankrupt-free life?

As I and others have tried to point out to you, that's not nearly enough. It may not even pay for the ambulance you fool.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: Here's how I read some of your posts (not that you care, but just in case)--

"If all you have is a HSA with $13,000 in it, then no matter how healthy of a lifestyle you have, if you get seriously ill or in an accident you caused, you will go bankrupt and maybe even die."

Well, I think to myself. That's a good point.

"You are an idiot if you think your HSA is going to save you."

Idiot? Oh, I though he was making a serious point. He just wants to call people names. Oh, hold on . . .

"Last year my brother, very healthy, caught a staff infection from an unknown source . . .The cost was well over $50,000, paid for by his insurance."

Wow. That's a good point. Anecdotal, but, sure that sort of thing could happen. I wonder if a public option would help protect people like Lomillialor.

"A friend of mine broke her wrist in December when she fell. She too was healthy and active. Her surgeries and therapy cost well over $20,000."

Man, another great example. People really do need insurance in this day and age. I wonder if government run healthcare is the answer?

And there's another good point. And another. Then . . .

"Anyone who has insurance and who tries to stop others from getting theirs because of vague ideological claims that gvmt is ineffective (or whatever) are no better than Arab terrorists."

Did that person just say that anyone who disagrees with their point of view is a terrorist? I'm now forgetting those good points.

"You people make me sick."

Oh. Phew. I thought I was going to have to think about those good points I thought that Lom had made, but they weren't serious. Because you don't end a serious discussion, where people have given any kind of actual thought to their assertions, with: "You people make me sick."

Thanks for letting me off the hook, there.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

pgr88 @ February 25, 2010 2:29 PM asked "Seems Obama knows there are Republican plans out there. Why don't you stop being a sheep and spouting what you read in the WaPo editorial section??"

Apparently many Republicans have ideas. That is truly great and superb. SO what plan is on the table? Are the Republicans ready to approve Boehner's plan, and Cantor's plan, etc as is?

I think we all know the answer, don't we?

Posted by: AMviennaVA | February 25, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Will tort reform include a way that new patients can check the medical history of a given doctor to see what complaints or lawsuits they caused? I seriously doubt it, and until something like that is included in tort reform (i.e. a way to weed out or identify bad doctors), then tort reform is a sham that will only hurt more people.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Repukes have no plan -- that's why no plan was introduced while the Repukes controlled Congress for seven years. They have no interest in healthcare reform.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | February 25, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

alright here goes. hopefully for the last time.

2011: $19150
2012: $25300
2013: $31450
2014: $37600
2015: $43750
2016: $49900
2017: $56050
2018: $62200
2019: $68350

I'm guessing you don't get what "and so on" means. That's ok.

And of course when and if I utilize more benefits in one year that number goes down and i'm also not factoring in government allowances to increase the $6150 figure but I'll be honest I didnt' want to complicate it much more for you for obvious reasons.

All the while my insurer caps my out of pocket costs at $5000.

Get it yet?

And actually you're the only one continuing to try to prove me wrong when I'm right.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Kevin : I thought I was going to have to think about those good points I thought that Lom had made

Don't worry, I never expected you to actually think about anything. If you want to join vision in believing a $20,000 HSA is a good insurance plan, then feel free to do so. But if you are going to try to block people like me who can't get insurance from getting what most people understand to be what we feel is real insurance, then be prepared for some attitude and activism.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

longbow651:
"Only an idiot would imagine that any government can sustain an undertaking is insurmountable as health care when they have no ability to actually produce or provide the actual services."
.....
Only an idiot. And the 4 or 500 million people who currently live in countries with governments that do exactly what you assert is impossible.

Reaganism is a religion for you isn't it? From voodoo economics to just plain voodoo. Irish and Reality need not apply.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010
...........................................
This "PHILOSOPHICAL" problems crosses both party lines. Libertarian aka Neoliberalism (rights of property) versus variations of social democracy (rights of people).
Reaganism is Jimmy Carters and Bill Clinton's Neoliberalism, it's the same as Thatcherism. Ditto in Australia, and New Zealand. Chile and Venezuela in '73 until the 'counter revolution'.

Nixon was a social democrat Republican. So was Eisenhower. LBJ and Roosevelt were social democrat Democrats.
Jimmy Carter, a Rockefeller trilateral, is a Neoliberal. So is Bill Clinton. Reagan is a Neoliberal,though not a trilateral member, so is both Bush's.

The Life and Times of Milton Friedman
Remembering the 20th century's most influential libertarian.
http://reason.com/archives/2007/02/21/the-life-and-times-of-milton-f

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I hesitate to step into this, but I think that it sounds like visionbrkr's combination of HSA and insurance work very well for visionbrkr, thanks in no small measure to the $5k out of pocket cap.

I would just point out that for many average income families, especially those without an employer-provided plan, being able to afford an insurance policy and an HSA within the family budget is simply out of reach.

So it always comes back to the costs (and to the subsidies), if we want to try and get some sort of decent health coverage for everyone.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr's health care insurance is good because he never had acne or caught a cold, so his insurer won't deny his bone-cancer coverage for not telling them about his "pre-existing condition."

He'll also never lose his job and be able to pay his premiums. Though he lives in a "right to work state" where his employer can fire him without cause, say because he called in sick too often while being treated for cancer, his employer is just an upright moral person who will decide not to maximize shareholder value as is his duty.

Also his insurer will just never decide to raise rates 30% during an economic downturn as they respond to the economic pressures of many healthy clients dropping coverage after being laid off, and are forced to raise rates precipitously to stay in business.

Nothing bad ever happens to good hard working Republicans.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

@Lomillialor: "Don't worry, I never expected you to actually think about anything."

Oh, Lom. There you go again.

"If you want to join vision in believing a $20,000 HSA is a good insurance plan, then feel free to do so."

I didn't say that. Didn't even imply that. What I was attempting to say is that I don't understand why you are trying to argue a point that you simply aren't serious about. Because you aren't.

"You people make me sick" is a blanket dismissal of your entire point. It suggest you just want to call people names, or flip people off. The rest is just padding, or your rationalization for flipping someone you don't like the bird in a public forum.

If you don't actually care about the point you seem to be trying to make when you're not calling people idiots or telling them they are terrorists, then fine. It just seems like you might, up until a certain point.

My apologies if I've missed a particular nuance in your correspondence.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 25, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Scientician,

I am my own employer so i'm thinking I'm not going to fire myself but hey who knows.

And Patrick,

I have no problem at all with subsidies so that people can afford it. As I've said (even though Lomillalor doesn't listen to me) and I've said for the last almost year on this site that I'm for the senate bill and I'd sign it today, I'd just want to hold insurers, pharma, doctors just a little more accountable to cost control. I don't see it as enough and able to sustain the system but I hope I'm wrong.

that's all.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

For example, keeping 6% or more of the working population ALWAYS unemployed and homeless as a side effect solves the inflation problems for the lending class.

Of course the working population then is saddled with all kinds of problems, but that's THEM. So if we just ignore them, its cool.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse
...................................

Do you have any idea what the unemployment rate in Spain is right now?

19%.

the argument you made is ludicrous.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010
........................................
Its 19% of the labor force out of work here in the USA too, NOW.
Your ludricus.
Empty houses, full shelters
More Spaniards have a second home than any other country in Western Europe; 15 per cent of housing in Spain is empty – but there are 273,000 homeless people on the streets. While rich districts and tourist resorts continue to be developed, the Government has cut council housing by eight per cent in the past decade. Eight out of ten homeless people are men, with unemployment being the main reason they hit the streets.
http://www.newint.org/columns/currents/1999/04/01/update4/

Like here, the women and children get welfare, the men get the streets.
http://www.aliciapatterson.org/APF1403/Marin/Marin.html


I was speaking of the GOOD TIMES since you neoliberals took over, we still had the NAIRU ensuring misery poverty and homelessness for millions.

Previous to neoliberal/libertarians guys running our government and banks only 1 to 3% of the labor force was usully unemployed, and the homeless were a tiny invisible fraction and almost always mental problems.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Scientician,

You don't know me very well.

I had HORRIBLE acne as a child, but thanks for keeping this partisan with liberal lies. Your true colors ring true.

I've got just ONE question for you.

If insurers deny everyone with acne as you suppose then why do we pay 2.3 TRILLION per year in healthcare costs?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

vision:

And all the rest? Your insurer will never play dirty with you in order to maximize their shareholder value? Can you afford $100,000 in up front legal fees in case they try and cheat you? Assuming you live long enough while their lawyers file a series of dilatory motions hoping you will croak before the suit can go in front of a Judge of course.

Oh, and your company will never go bankrupt?

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Vision:

"I had HORRIBLE acne as a child, but thanks for keeping this partisan with liberal lies. Your true colors ring true."

Obviously it was a metaphor. Shall I google links to stories of people cut off from insurance for things as trivial as acne? Do you doubt they exist?

Why does America pay $2.3T in health care costs? Well obviously they don't cut everyone off. They also don't cut you off until you start making claims. Their investigators only look into your file once you come down with something costly. They'll keep, of course, all the money you've already paid them. All that counts in the $2.3T.

But you are gambling. Even your insurance is a gamble, and one that it is in their profit seeking interest to not pay off.

At least when you spin roulette, and your number comes up, the dealer pays up. Even the mafia know better than that. Big insurance will discover that you once won a game of poker, call you a cheater, throw you out and keep your bet. Then send you a bill for the drinks you consumed while at the table.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Scientician,

Define, play dirty? Do you mean by abiding by the rules of their contract? Then sure I expect them to do that. And no they can't. As I've said, I live in NJ. We have an MLR that is the strongest in the country (and some of the highest costs). Insurers in 2008 spent 85+% of premiums last year on healthcare costs in the individual and small employer markets. Maybe the costs are due to claims then, huh? Due to the lack of a mandate here?


Sure my company could go bankrupt but I could also get hit by a bus walking out of work today. So what?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr,

I hear you, and for me the downside of the Dems' approach is the failure to take on Pharma, and to set up more specific strategies to contain the inflation in provider fees.

I was just trying to point to Lomillialor, et al, that it is kind of pointless to try and pick apart any one person's coverage, when that person has the means to acquire coverage. The purpose of the reform (I hope) is 1). to help those WITHOUT the means to obtain decent affordable coverage get into the system, and 2). to tamp down the future inflation in costs that will certainly occur if nothing is done.

Posted by: Patrick_M | February 25, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Scientician,

I'd believe you if i didn't know HUNDREDS of people who have submitted claims in the $1 million + figure and had them covered without issue.

You're fearmongering and nothing less. You're as bad as Republicans that push the death panel crap.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Patrick,

well then you and I agree. insurance and subsidies for all to the level they can afford. Adjust it annually (if people do better financially in that year give them less subsidies, if they do worse give them more).

But as we agree, take pharma and docs to task.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Vision:

Oh, looky here:
http://www.healthinsuranceindepth.com/health-insurance-New-Jersey.html

"New Jersey has strict health insurance regulationswhich both protect and benefit policy holders, like you."

Big government, looking out for you there John Galt. You can trust your insurance company to pay up when the time comes because your liberal fellow New Jersians have banded together to apply their right to govern to make them do so.

RE: being hit by a bus. I guess your implication is that since there is a non-zero probability of death any time, it's pointless to prepare for well known risks? If so, why bother having health insurance at all? That's money that could be spent on fun things. I don't think you believe that, so you do prepare for well established risks, but have decided to simply ignore the well known risks to your health and livelihood that I am raising here, which can only be ameliorated by a social safety net.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry though Vision, once you can buy insurance over state lines, your insurance company can move to South Dakota or Carolina where a "voluntary self-regulation" law can quickly be passed, and they can improve on that 85% MLR that Wall Street must hate.

On the down side, you'll die of some treatable disease. On the bright side, the portion of your portfolio invested in your insurance company will see a healthy return. Not enough to pay for your medical needs at market rates of course, but hey, you can't have everything.

Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse


The Republican Plan
http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2009/September/03/nixon-proposal.aspx

COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN (CHIP)

Early last year, I directed the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to prepare a new and improved plan for comprehensive health insurance. That plan, as I indicated in my State of the Union message, has been developed and I am presenting it to the Congress today. I urge its enactment as soon as possible.

The plan is organized around seven principles:

First, it offers every American an opportunity to obtain a balanced, comprehensive range of health insurance benefits;

Second, it will cost no American more than he can afford to pay;
Third, it builds on the strength and diversity of our existing public and private systems of health financing and harmonizes them into an overall system;

Fourth, it uses public funds only where needed and requires no new Federal taxes;

Fifth, it would maintain freedom of choice by patients and ensure that doctors work for their patient, not for the Federal Government.

Sixth, it encourages more effective use of our health care resources;

And finally, it is organized so that all parties would have a direct stake in making the system work--consumer, provider, insurer, State governments and the Federal Government.

BROAD AND BALANCED PROTECTION FOR ALL AMERICANS

Upon adoption of appropriate Federal and State legislation, the Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan would offer to every American the same broad and balanced health protection through one of three major programs:

--Employee Health Insurance, covering most Americans and offered at their place of employment, with the cost to be shared by the employer and employee on a basis which would prevent excessive burdens on either;

--Assisted Health Insurance, covering low-income persons, and persons who would be ineligible for the other two programs, with Federal and State government paying those costs beyond the means of the individual who is insured; and,

--An improved Medicare Plan, covering those 65 and over and offered through a Medicare system that is modified to include additional, needed benefits.
One of these three plans would be available to every American, but for everyone, participation in the program would be voluntary.

Posted by: WilliamBlake | February 25, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Rhetorical question: Why do conservatives prefer to entrust their health care coverage to insurocrats who have a direct interest in denying them treatment, as opposed to state employed bureaucrats*, who are at worst merely indifferent?

* - actually this is not true, no bureaucrat ever gets involved in a treatment decision in Canada. Elected officials responsive to democracy make the decisions about what procedures are covered in broad terms, and doctors and patients carry on from there. But it's what conservatives believe happen in Single Payer systems, and even still their sham fiction scare mongering vision of single payer is still better than market driven health care.


Posted by: Scientician | February 25, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Scientician,

what about "I'm for the senate bill" don't you get?

And you don't think i PAY for all that regulation? For all those mandates that everything be covered? Is there some alternate liberal universe that its free? Oh wait, THE RICH PAY FOR IT.

you are pretty good with the talking points though. seems like that's all you are though.

You see you had to go to that website to understand that. i knew it all along.


Oh and that same NJ big government is bankrupting us through payola from the previous democratic adminsitrations. Pensions unfunded and union members and state government employees squawking about paying 1.5% of their income to healthcare. Ya we need MORE of that.

The point is, I know well enough what policies to get and what not to get AND I READ THEM so I can bypass your talking point of the ND or DE trap.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Scientician,

actually you're wrong AGAIN. I entrust my care to insurance companies because they care about controlling cost, theirs and mine. Government will just run a defecit or tax us more to pay for their comparatively lavish lifestyle. See how the truth works. Saw CNN last night and saw that the Capitol lunchroom or something like that had cost overruns that cost $627 Million dollars. Somehow my cafeteria isn't quite as glitzy but then again I can't charge people taxes so I can spruce it up a bit.

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I wish ya'all would stop with ther personal attacks. You are obviously not unintelligent, stooping to name calling takes away from that.

That said, FastEddie is a toolsack. Kidding!

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

BAM

that's a headshot

Posted by: theobserver4 | February 25, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

You know how insurance companies control costs?

They refuse payments/drugs to sick people, or dump them when they get sick.

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 25, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Republicans are so hamstrung by their ideology that they can't perform comprehensive warfare either; all they do is the "start" step.

Those weak kneed sissy Democrats have to come in after 7 years of flopping about to START beating up on the terrorists. If Bush and Cheney were so tough then how did they accomplish nothing with 6 more years than Obama?

Posted by: theobserver4 | February 25, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

nisleib - You made me laugh! Maybe this "bipartisan" summit wasn't a complete waste.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 25, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

FastEddie - Thanks. We tend to take ourselves too seriously sometimes. Laughing helps.

Posted by: nisleib | February 25, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

How about this possibility: We (conservatives) don't hold back because of a fear that we won't be very good at comprehensively changing huge swaths of society for dubious or false values.

We hold back because we don't WANT to accomplish such comprehensive change.

The problem of health care access is much smaller than you claim, in terms of numbers of people who want insurance but who truly cannot afford it. In many cases the problems are caused by an individual's choices in life and not by immutable or outside forces. Finally, getting to root causes, redistribution's goal is to equalize outcomes, and I think people need more incentive than that to get out of bed and make it to productive work every day.

Posted by: bobby_bb | February 26, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

You hit the nail on the head with this post, Ezra.

Republicans are the party of the oligarchs. Democrats are the party of the people.

The government IS we the people.

Posted by: theRealCalGal | February 26, 2010 4:05 AM | Report abuse

Thursday’s health care summit was what it was: an exercise in rhetoric. Republicans reprised their familiar routine of propaganda and political theater. Democrats dug in, sticking mostly to the same talking points they’ve been repeating for over a year now. And the President persistently attempted to bridge the gaps and break the deadlock between them, to no avail.

Unfortunately, it was obvious from Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) opening remarks onward that Republicans never intended to have a real conversation about health care. Rather than focusing on areas of potential agreement, like medical malpractice reform, the senator chose instead to misrepresent the facts about health insurance premiums.

Behind a facade of phony fiscal fortitude, the G.O.P. blindly obstructs legislation essential to our economic recovery, hoping that this cynical strategy will return them to power.

Moreover, by repeatedly refusing to engage in a serious exchange of ideas, Congressional Republicans fail to acknowledge the fundamental truth behind health care reform: that it is an economic and social necessity.

Read more @ http://armchairfirebrand.wordpress.com/

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | February 27, 2010 5:45 AM | Report abuse

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