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Obama Won't Take No for an Answer

When it comes to reforming the health care system, President Obama told a gathering of 150 experts in the field today that he's willing to listen to any idea but one. "The status quo is the one option that is not on the table," he said. "And those who seek to block any reform at any cost will not prevail this time around....

"[T]oday, there are those who say we should defer health care reform once again – that at a time of economic crisis, we simply cannot afford to fix our health care system as well.

"Well, let's be clear: the same soaring costs that are straining our families' budgets are sinking our businesses and eating up our government's budget too. Too many small businesses can't insure their employees. Major American corporations are struggling to compete with their foreign counterparts. And companies of all sizes are shipping their jobs overseas or shutting their doors for good....

"[H]ealth care reform is no longer just a moral imperative, it is a fiscal imperative. If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy, then we must address the crushing cost of health care this year, in this Administration. Making investments in reform now, investments that will dramatically lower costs, won't add to our budget deficits in the long-term – rather, it is one of the best ways to reduce them."

As for all the obstacles that have blocked reform in the past, Obama said: "I believe that this time is different. This time, the call for reform is coming from the bottom up, from all across the spectrum – from doctors, nurses and patients; unions and businesses; hospitals, health care providers and community groups. It's coming from mayors, governors and legislatures – Democrats and Republicans – who are racing ahead of Washington to pass bold health care initiatives on their own. This time, there is no debate about whether all Americans should have quality, affordable health care – the only question is, how?"

Obama spoke before participants in the summit broke out into several discussion groups -- much like at the fiscal responsibility summit Obama held last week.

Johanna Neuman blogs for the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama hosts a forum on healthcare reform today that is intended to open the door to all the groups -- like insurers -- who say they were left out in the cold 15 years ago when then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton met in private with a few wonks to craft a bill she then tried to sell as a fait accompli to Congress....

"[U]nlike the mind-numbing details in what was dubbed the Hillarycare proposal, Obama plans to articulate broad principles and leave the details to Congress...

"Today's White House summit will include 150 people -- far more than the small circle convened in private by President Clinton 15 years ago. Even Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, a key Senate voice on healthcare issues for decades who is now battling brain cancer, plans to attend."

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar writes for the Associated Press: "Among the invitees are some who helped kill the Clinton administration's health care overhaul in the 1990s. Everyone is supposed to be on his best behavior, but will that last?"

Dan Eggen and Ceci Connolly write in The Washington Post that Obama's plan "to dramatically expand the health-care system has attracted surprising notes of support from insurers, hospitals and other players in the powerful medical lobby who are set to participate in an unusual White House summit on the issue this afternoon. The lure for the industry is the prospect of tens of millions of new customers: If Obama succeeds in fulfilling his pledge to cover many more Americans, those newly insured people will get checkups, purchase medicine, undergo physical therapy and get surgeries they cannot afford today....

"The unstated intention of Obama's approach is to dole out the pain in small, easier-to-swallow bites to minimize opposition, White House aides say. Under the president's plan, hospitals, doctors, drugmakers, insurance companies and wealthy seniors -- all of whom will be represented at today's summit -- would sacrifice. But if the system was calibrated properly, no one would lose too much.

"Not everyone is happy, of course, and lobbyists and health-care experts warn that major obstacles lie ahead. The seniors lobby AARP, for example, opposes Obama's recommendation to raise Medicare prescription premiums on wealthy retirees. Major insurers also dislike his proposed overhaul of the Medicare Advantage program, which markets managed-care plans to seniors, while home-care providers object to cuts to their Medicare reimbursements....

"Drew Altman, head of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said the debate 'will get a lot tougher' in the months ahead. 'We're still more in the happy-talk stage of health reform,' he said, adding: 'In Washington, there is a machine set up to fight every fight. No battle goes unfought.'"

David Alexander writes for Reuters: "Battle lines already are being drawn, with some Republicans opposing any move to let the government act as an insurer of last resort in competition with private insurers.

"'If the government is one of the competitors, eventually there are no competitors left,' Representative Roy Blunt, who is leading Republican healthcare efforts, said this week."

As with his stimulus package, Obama is planning to set broad goals, but leave the details to Congress. Is that wise? Or should he tell Congress exactly what to do? Discuss that in my White House Watchers group.

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 5, 2009; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care  
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Comments

I've always found it hard to figure out why rich people draw Social Security and Medicare at all. Obviously they do it because they can. But I still find it unseemly for people of means to draw on welfare.

Posted by: fletc3her | March 5, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Number 1. Social Security and Medicare are not welfare.

Number 2. Rich people pay into the system, just like everyone else.

That being said, it is disingenuous at best for rich people to rail against "socialism" while still taking these benefits.

Posted by: waltej1 | March 5, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Also, the reason Medicare was set up is because private insurers would not cover older Americans since they generally require more health care.

Posted by: troyd2009 | March 5, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I've always found it hard to figure out why rich people draw Social Security and Medicare at all. Obviously they do it because they can. But I still find it unseemly for people of means to draw on welfare.

Posted by: fletc3her | March 5, 2009 1:56 PM

I agree. I believe both of these programs should be means tested. Otherwise we are clearly favoring the rich over the poor. The weaker in the US should be taken care of first. That is how you create an equal society.

Posted by: kengelhart | March 5, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Does everyone here want the achievers brought down to the same mediocre level that "the weak" are on?

Rich people probably pay more into the system because they earn more. But who cares about fairness? - unless it's unfair to those who worked hard and achieved.

If you want to give your share of SS to someone who has never contributed, go right ahead. But you can't have mine.

Posted by: washerwoman | March 5, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"'If the government is one of the competitors, eventually there are no competitors left,' Representative Roy Blunt, who is leading Republican healthcare efforts, said this week."

Well Roy, there's a fair amount of competition in the private insurance field right now, and half the people who file bankruptcy in the United States HAD HEALTH INSURANCE.

So frankly, from a former Republican to a current one, your argument is meaningless. Competition is overrated and should only be one factor to be considered as part of a greater debate. The narrow focus on a handful of unbendable principles is what's killing your party. That and hubris.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 5, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Should Barack Obama be dining on $100 per pound Japanese Kobi beef while the stock market is tanking?

Posted by: hz9604 | March 5, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

"Rich people probably pay more into the system because they earn more. But who cares about fairness? - unless it's unfair to those who worked hard and achieved."

While I believe that the rich deserve social security as much as the poor (they paid into it after all), the myth you're perpetrating that rich people work hard and earn what they have is laughable. The proportion of the rich who fit that description is roughly the same as the proportion of the poor who are classic Reaganesque "welfare queens".

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 5, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Everybody that actually works for a living pays Social Security taxes. It is a mandated contribution to a retirement account. Why would any "fairminded" person begrudge anyone else for drawing out what they paid into Social Security? And where exactly do you set the bar to seize people's SS accounts? $250K? What about the person who earns $250,100 is he/she less deserving than the person who made $249K? WHO EXACTLY GETS TO CHOOSE THE WINNERS AND LOSERS? In the "name of social justice" someone who has been a loser all of his/her life at retirement becomes a winner, and lifelong winners become losers. Somehow that fails the smell test of justice.

Posted by: griffdiver | March 5, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

"That being said, it is disingenuous at best for rich people to rail against "socialism" while still taking these benefits."


You are contradicting what you said earlier with this statement. Social Security, is setting aside your money now, that will then be available later in your life when you retire. Why is it wrong to get back what you put into the system?? Not receiving any payments, or a substantially reduced amount is wealth redistribution.

Posted by: alutz08 | March 5, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

We all hear the healthcare system is broken, doctors and hospitals charge too much, drugs are too expensive, etc. The one thing missing in the healthcare debate is tort reform. Why don't we try capping what the trial lawyers can receive from the proceeds of malpractice suits? Perhaps if we make it less profitable for the ambulance chasers, malpractice insurance rates would come down. Doctors and hospitals then could lower their charges to patients and healthcare becomes affordable. Face it, the people becoming truly rich from the healthcare industry are the lawyers. Of course Obama (a lawyer) and his croneys(lawyers) don't mention that major factor of the total equation.

Posted by: griffdiver | March 5, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"'If the government is one of the competitors, eventually there are no competitors left,' Representative Roy Blunt, who is leading Republican healthcare efforts, said this week."

Why is that? Because the government supplies a better plan at lower cost. Republicans really hate it when the government does better than no-bid contracts.

Posted by: dickdata | March 5, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

"This time, the call for reform is coming from the bottom up, from all across the spectrum – from doctors, nurses and patients; unions and businesses; hospitals, health care providers and community groups. It's coming from mayors, governors and legislatures – Democrats and Republicans – who are racing ahead of Washington to pass bold health care initiatives on their own."

Obama's Freudian slip: why, he left out the insurance companies!

Posted by: fzdybel | March 5, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"Why is that? Because the government supplies a better plan at lower cost. Republicans really hate it when the government does better than no-bid contracts."

I would disagree with your assertion. Government doesn't supply a better plan at lower cost. Government just spreads out the cost to the entire American population through increased tax burdens.
Before Obama, when the media actually performed their watchdog role on the government, the news was rife with stories of government waste, fraud, and abuse. It didn't matter what government agency, they were all inept at being good stewards of the American tax dollar, and it is the GOVERNMENT that issues the "no bid" contracts because the bureaucrats are too lazy to actually do their job. So let's have more government bureaucrats?

Posted by: griffdiver | March 5, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

bammie is a retard.

libs - give up the pretense this drone 'says' anything.

He is a soros puppet.

A blow-up doll would be better.

Then we wouldn't have to put up with the hideous wife:

"President Barack Obama doesn’t go anywhere without his TelePrompter.

The textbook-sized panes of glass holding the president’s prepared remarks follow him wherever he speaks.

Resting on top of a tall, narrow pole, they flank his podium during speeches in the White House’s stately parlors. They stood next to him on the floor of a manufacturing plant in Indiana as he pitched his economic stimulus plan. They traveled to the Department of Transportation this week and were in the Capitol Rotunda last month when he paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln in six-minute prepared remarks.

Obama’s reliance on the teleprompter is unusual — not only because he is famous for his oratory, but because no other president has used one so consistently and at so many events, large and small.

After the teleprompter malfunctioned a few times last summer and Obama delivered some less-than-soaring speeches, reports surfaced that he was training to wean himself off of the device while on vacation in Hawaii. But no such luck." http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19663.html

Posted by: 2xy4k9 | March 5, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

"The one thing missing in the healthcare debate is tort reform. Why don't we try capping what the trial lawyers can receive from the proceeds of malpractice suits?"

Why don't we just tell the victims of malpractice that they are SOL? You're confusing tort reform with communism. You're also confusing malpractice litigation with liability litigation ("ambulance chasers"). Finally, your faith in the "free market" for malpractice insurance is quite touching. These premiums already bear no noticeable relationship to liabilities. Your hatred of lawyers is conventional enough, but your love of insurance companies surpasses understanding.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 5, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

obama discredited himself before the end of his opening statement.

he claimed "there are no sacred cows"...except for, of course, government run health care, the ultimate liberal sacred cow.

in other words, it doesnt matter how obama gets his way, as long as he does in the end.

well thats open-minded and refreshing isnt it?

Posted by: dummypants | March 5, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"Government doesn't supply a better plan at lower cost."

BZZZZT! No Rushbo for you for two whole weeks. The fact is, Medicare is the most cost efficient health care alternative we have operating in this country at the moment.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 5, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

If I have the choice between dealing with a government bureaucrat who at least is nominally committed to public service and an insurance company bureaucrat who is committed to profit, I'll take the former any day.

And I don't mind paying taxes when I get something back (rather than lining the coffers of KBR, say). As it is, I'm on Medicare and just getting to the age when I am needing more health care, and so far it has worked very well.

I've been abroad many times, and although I've never had to use the French or German systems, colleagues traveling with me have and were completely satisfied. My Canadian friends as well, and some of them have had long term health problems. So what's the big deal? Someone goes "Boo, socialism" and some you start screaming "Stalin!" Bunch of wimps! I see Bernie Sanders and Norman Thomas.

Try looking Sweden (which has a king!), or Denmark...which BTW has the highest index of personal, well-being and satisfaction in the developed world.

And also, why does someone like 2xy think that he, she, or it, is anything but disgusting. I think many people here would actually like to have a discussion, and the stupid, unimaginative personal slanders only reveal this person's meanness and rage. It may be therapeutic for him to vent his bile (although it's so easy to rant when hiding behind the anonymity of a screen-name --- mine BTW is Jerome Rosen and I live in Jersey City). Of course it is his right to say whatever he wants, but it's also mine to tell him that he is revolting and I wish he would go away.

Posted by: jprfrog | March 5, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Should Barack Obama be dining on $100 per pound Japanese Kobi beef while the stock market is tanking?
Posted by: hz9604
===================================
AHH switched Posting Names again!!

WHY NOT...hz??
Have a problem with his eating what he wants? If you can eat it why can he not?

Jealous??

OHH..I get it

YES...I forgot

You are a Pro Slavery Republican

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | March 5, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

So this is what I believe. Obama is no better than Bush. I'm sorry but saying that you're going to do something while also saying that George W, Bush was right? So what is wrong with this picture?

I'll tell you, Barrack H. Obama is no different than the last war criminal. End of dicussion.

Posted by: sailorflat | March 5, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

jpfrog. Some foreign governmental health plans don't let aliens (incl. US citizens) access their health care unless they can pay cash. An acquaintance broke a leg skiing in Switzerland and had she not had cash she would not have received treatment. How is that for compassionate government care? You get great service anywhere in the world for cash.

On the other hand Illegal Aliens in the US get mandated care the hospital and doctor must provide whether paid for or not. Almost always it is not.

What is so superior about systems that only take care of strangers if they have cash?

As to DickData, government does not supply a better product at a lower cost either in Medicare or Medicaid. Government's role as far as the average citizen is as a payer not a provider of care except in areas you and I cannot access like Military health, Native American health care and the VA hospitals which cover fewer and fewer vets each year to try to control costs.

Government is such a large payer that they dictate what they will pay and tell providers to take it or else. Invariably what they will pay is less than the cost of delivering the care. I know. I spent 20 plus years in hospital management. Guess why private pay and insurance-paid bills are so high? Because the hospitals have to get their costs covered from somewhere. I doubt that Medicare pays 80% of the cost of the provision of care and Medicaid pays about 40%.

There is nothing magic about the provision of health care in an economic sense. The cost of delivery and supplies has to be paid as does the cost of depreciation/replacement of equipment and facilities. If government can't be forced to pay at least cost then guess who the hospitals and doctors turn to?

What is magic about healthcare in the USA and likely elsewhere is the compassionate an caring people who deliver it. It was my great privilege to be a manager in such a setting.

Posted by: jerome1140 | March 5, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Froomy - why has Gupta withdrawn? Shouldn't Gupta have been a key piece of the health care discussion? What is wrong with the vetting process? Shouldn't Rahm Emanuel be more concerned with vetting these people than trying to smear private citizens and manipulate the Illinois Senate appointment?

Posted by: hz9604 | March 5, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I absolutely love it when the hypocrite Republicans scream about SOCIALISM. Then, when you bring up the VA, Social Security, Medicare, the police, fire department, the military, and any other government department that keeps this country going or provides for the our elderly and disabled, they all shut up.

Republicans are so transparent...so utterly hypocritical and absolutely devoid of any ethics.

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | March 5, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Should Barack Obama be dining on $100 per pound Japanese Kobi beef while the stock market is tanking?

Posted by: hz9604 | March 5, 2009 4:27 PM

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If he's paying for it out of his own packet, then he has every right to dine on whatever he wants to.

Should Bush have been taking 1/5 of his time in office on vacation while the country was being torn apart by his stupidity?

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | March 5, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

2xy4k9, would you like some cheese with your whine?

Stupid Republitard, why don't you call a waaaaahmbulance!

Hey! Guess what! We've got smart people in the White House after 8 years of stupidity. We don't have to hear about gynecologists "practicing their love of women" and "being able to put food on your families".

Posted by: camera_eye_11 | March 5, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Many people say they don't want to pay "increased taxes" to the government for universal health care, but they don't consider that they would stop paying health insurance premiums to insurance companies.

Let's take a hypothetical example. A family of four pays $12,000 annually to an insurance company for health coverage. Under universal care, the same family pay s$8,000 or less in "taxes" for the same health coverage, and those "taxes" replace the insurance company premium. Any way you look at it, that's a net savings of at least $4,000 -- the only difference is that the payee changes from the insurance company to the government.

Posted by: 2D3D | March 5, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Want to reform it?

Do what every other first world nation has done.

Replace it with a system that works.

Easiest thing is to literally borrow the Canadian single payer health care system, including the software, which already can handle US zip codes, area codes, billing providers, every US state and possession, and has a US english add on dictionary.

Then we'd pay HALF AS MUCH as we do now and get TWICE AS MUCH HEALTH CARE.

And doctors and nurses would go from spending less than half their time providing actual health care to spending 98 percent of their time providing health care.

Oh, and they pay a lot less for drugs, because they don't let drug firms rip them off.

Posted by: WillSeattle | March 5, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

When politicians and media talking heads refer to "health care providers", they're not talking about the doctors, nurses, and other professionals who actually deliver the hands-on medical services sick people need....they're actually talking about insurance companies whose only purpose is to handle the money. The real question: Why should any American first have to prove themselves to be a viable and reliable profit stream to an otherwise disinterested third party....the insurance industry, that is....before having access to quality health care in the richest nation on earth? Moreover, how much does the insurance industry actually add to the overall cost of healthcare in the way of profits and administrative costs associated with the products they sell?

Posted by: dhomley | March 5, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't mind the wealthy getting Social Security if their entire salary were taxed. The cut-off is somewhere around $70,000, I believe. Everyone pays the tax on that amount of salary or less. If it were all taxed, SS would probably never run out of money.

Posted by: dottie_b | March 5, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin's switch to full-on cheerleader mode is pathetic.

So much for "speaking truth to power", eh Dan?

How about turning White House Watch over to a partisan conservative hack for a while?

Posted by: bobmoses | March 5, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

"I've always found it hard to figure out why rich people draw Social Security and Medicare at all. Obviously they do it because they can. But I still find it unseemly for people of means to draw on welfare."

Great. Let people opt out of these programs all together and let them put their money towards the retirement and health plans of their choice.

"If he's paying for it out of his own packet, then he has every right to dine on whatever he wants to."

He isn't paying for it out of his own pocket. It is being paid for with public funds. Get your facts straight for once. The blind ignorance of people on this board is pathetic.

Posted by: bobmoses | March 5, 2009 9:57 PM | Report abuse

President Obama should strongly suggest some of the principal ideas and policies which should be included in a comprehensive health care bill. He should then leave the details largely up to Congress, as long as key provisions are not changed in ways that would be too expensive for individuals or introduce bad policies.

Wealthy retired persons, with an annual income over $100,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples, should pay more for their prescription medications.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | March 5, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Over and over, I hear Republicans insist that those who are uninsured, or those in poverty, or those with health problems are "bad." They didn't work hard enough, they made bad decisions, or, that they simply do not deserve any basics. All this from their security that they themselves vainly perceive to be their entitlement by virtue of their birth, their inheritance, their schooling, or indeed their hard work.

No one seems able or willing to address the fact that we are not "all born equal" nor do we all have "equal opportunity." Intelligence is a bell shaped curve. Some health problems are inherited. We are damaged at work, or by carcinagins we have put in our environment. Many talk about survival of the fittest -- as if the rest were meant to suffer and die young, and thus deserve no sympathy at all.

No one wants to determine who is "worthy" and who isn't. So we revert to Darwin - evolution and survival of the fittest. So, what does that mean? Class warfare? Guns on the streets -- without responsible education programs, and hope for a healthy life, it appears to me that a huge part of our country is already engaged in war -- all for the perks that money bring -- except now it is clear that the "haves" on Wall Street do not know when enough is enough -- they have robbed our seniors, our middle class, and even the poor.

Enough is enough -- there are intelligent answers, and Obama is giving everyone a shot at helping find those answers -- and a chance to be part of a team that can create the kind of country and opportunity that I believe most of us think our founders hoped for.

Posted by: arcvn | March 5, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is only going to respond with positions that advance the interests of the greedy. They can't be trusted at all to actually have concern for the general populace as anything other than a profit channel.

Posted by: timscanlon | March 5, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Again... we have a POTUS that lies to Americans, has an agenda that NO ONE KNOWS except himself, his wife and perhaps a couple of the enemies of America as we know it.

His idea of health care reform is based on models in Europe. When the rich and famous want the BEST HEALTH CARE in the world... they come to America.

Americans do not go to Spain, Germany, England, India, China for THE BEST HEALTH CARE.

It is expensive with the insurance companies. and Obama and his cronies are p-ssed because he wants HEALTH CARE for the poor, lazy, illegals and etc. Anyone that does not work SHOULD not be getting free medical... unless it is a life and death situation. By that statement... people can work part-time.. and be eligible for medical...but to sit at home and draw welfare, government payments and get better health care than those working... should be a no no.

He will do away with the welfare to work program, make it so that THE GOVERNMENT will allocate who gets medical treatment... with the majority going to those on welfare, or government assistance.

To sit and DECIDE what is the best for the country... is just LIKE GW BUSH.

Only Obama is doing it as if his life depended on getting it done.. NOW..

In sixty days on the job... he is ALREADY making a strong bid to be the WORST PRESIDENT in our HISTORY.

It took GWB EIGHT YEARS to accomplish... OBAMA is making his bid EARLY.

Posted by: miller51550 | March 5, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

1. The rich are not rich because they work harder than the poor. They are rich because either they made smart decisions, or had the right connections. I can mop floors all day and all night without making enough money to pay for my family's health coverage. So.. the rich should thank their stars that they got so lucky.. and be happy about sharing with the ones who didn't get so lucky.

2. Here is a story.. I lived in a small town. There is only one electricity provider - the city. There is only one plan - you pay what the city charges you.

Then I moved to the Houston. There are many different electricity providers to chose from, none of which is controlled by the government. There are hundreds of different plans to choose from. Each of these plans is much more expensive than what I was paying in the small town, even after taking into account the higher cost of living. Did competition bring cost down? Clearly, No.

There is no difference in the product - it is the same Centerpoint that actually provides the power. What these companies do is find innovative ways to charge for and bill the customer. How efficient are they really? Not very. I never had any problems with my small town city-run utility, but I have been on the phone for several hours with the Houston utility providers. Did competition improve service? Clearly, NO.

The utility companies are nothing but middlemen - they make the entire system of delivering power just a little more inefficient. What are they selling? Electricity plans. Nothing, but.. many sets of prices for the same electricity. Clearly.. there is no innovation in the product. The electricty that I get is the same regardless of which plan I choose.

What sense does it make to have several utility companies competing against each other and raising costs for the consumer?

Posted by: Striider | March 5, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

"If you want to give your share of SS to someone who has never contributed, go right ahead. But you can't have mine. "

I'm not aware this is possible. If so, sign my father up. He's 93 and collects no SS. Another point to be made about fixing health care is "global competetiveness". How can our companies thrive with an unlevel playing field ? How can small companies which drive our economy stay alive in the current environment when HC costs are so high. I have good insurance and if I have need of a CAT scan or other procedure it is still expensive to me. I can't concieve of how people with poor or no health insurance deal with this. Something needs to be done. I'd rather some type of team put together the plan. I don't think Congress, under pressure from all the usual sources, can make the tough decisions needed for an improvement. As for all the whining about the President. He should be given the time to succeed (or fail).

Posted by: Falmouth1 | March 6, 2009 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Do the rich really pay into social security? Currently the income limit on the social security tax is in the 80's that means a person earning $100,000.00 a year or 10 million a year contribute the same amount into social security as someone making $85,000.00. If they want to collect, then it would be a great idea to raise the limits of the social security tax, that might be one way to save social security for all of us, instead listening to the rhetoric that it is another social program destined to fail.

Posted by: vchiles1 | March 6, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

So many here feel that people that have paid throughout their lives into what is basically an insurance program, shouldn't collect on it when the time comes. What's really frightening is that these people actually see themselves as fair minded.

Posted by: thebink | March 6, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone that does not work SHOULD not be getting free medical"

Hands down, the stupidest comment on this whole page. And that's saying a lot given the red tide of ignorance that appears to have swept through here last night.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 6, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"Any way you look at it, that's a net savings of at least $4,000 -- the only difference is that the payee changes from the insurance company to the government."

...and one other important difference: a good doctor. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.

Posted by: blanco1 | March 6, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The ignorance here is mind numbing. Tort reform has been in place in many states for over a decade with a marginal impact on medical malpractice rates if any impact. Medical legal costs account for under 5% of total health care costs and even if you add "defensive medicine" you are talking around 10%.
Blanco- if the doctors everyone else are so poor, I wonder why a handful of "socialist" countries have a higher lifec expectancy and a lower infant mortality rate? Same goes to the posters who imply socialized medicine will leave us all to die in the hospital hallway or our homes as we wait to be seen by the doctor. You need to do better than anectdotal stories about rich people traveling here. Oh and lastly, Americans don't travel elsewhere to get health care at least in part because we pay so much for it, why would we pay more on top of that?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | March 6, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I think Jerry Rosen of Jersey City, NJ, had the best and most lucid comments today.
The sick narrow minded idiots he responded to will never get it, but we did.
PS Bayonne here!

Posted by: rosenfan1 | March 6, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Many people do not understand why the U.S. health care system needs to be reformed urgently.

First, this country health care system is not for everyone, but based on a commercial concept of business that influenced by the private industry. The private industry goals is to make profit. The cost will be very high for the federal government. This will benefit the private industry in long term and not the majority of the population without health care.

For to make the health care system more efficient, the federal government must take the responsibility to follow the WHO rules .This mean that eliminating the "delegation" to the private industry the health care. The federal government must deliver and manage through a specialized agency the health care for everyone and not by the private industry.

In the field of the education, the federal government will be more efficient by managing directly the student loans.

Please look any country member of the WHO on how their prevention, health care and rehabilitative services are organized at national, regional and local level.

This economic crisis, the health, social and education issues, only, the public authority as the federal government must provide and manage directly these issues and not delegating its to the private industry.

This is the way to save billion of our U.S. budget, and keep United States of America as a great and powerful nation in this global economy in recovery.

I hope the President Obama will take this wise way for the reforms of the health care and education issues so everyone can access to a high-quality prevention, health care and rehabilitative services in framework of the creation of the Health and Social District at county level.

Posted by: psawash | March 6, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

While building the hen-house, do we ever take advice from the fox? Why then do we have all these HMOs and health insurance companies flooding us with their wisdom?
Something is terribly wrong here.

Posted by: alzach | March 6, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I have worked hard all my life and did not get the breaks that some have. I am out of work and do not have any kind of health coverage. As a result, I don't go see a Doctor for anything, even preventive health care. If I were to get sick and require extensive medical attention, who would pay? The Government. If, instead, I was able to prevent problems through some kind of health care - paid by my taxes - then perhaps the total cost to my government would be substantially less.

I agree that part of this health care reform should also be tort reform. It is very easy to do this by simply changing the one rule that matters most to lawyers - their fee. Change the rule that lawyers get paid whether they lose or win the case. Admittedly, they get paid a lot more if they win. But make it so that if they lose, they pay the court costs. This will greatly reduce the number of cases that lawyers take on for fear of having to pay rather than get paid. The cases they take on will only be the ones that are winnable.

Posted by: Deano6 | March 7, 2009 5:34 AM | Report abuse

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