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Obama's Full Court Press on Health Care

Health care is Obama's Moby Dick. It's his ultimate prize because once he has that, he has everything. Today at American Issues Project I discuss the lengths to which Obama will go to get his way on health care. Here's a portion:

President Barack Obama is promoting a health care plan that would dismantle private insurance. Of course, he denies his plan would have this effect, but that would be the result nevertheless. Many people will abandon their private plans for the "free" public insurance, and businesses will look to unload health care costs by canceling their private health care plans, which will naturally force their employees to exercise the public option. 


The president also made it clear that if his health care reform is not achieved this year that it will not happen any time during his presidency. This has put him on a mission to make sure his government-run plan is approved by both houses of Congress and as quickly as possible, before the American people have an opportunity to find out what is in it. 


Many in congress, though, are not enthusiastic about Obama's idea of a public option and are voicing their dissent. According to a report in The Hill, many of Obama's supporters are "reeling" from the cost of the Kennedy-Dodd plan, which the CBO puts at $1 trillion. However, Philip Klein at The American Spectator writes that this plan would more likely cost $4 trillion when you factor in all the bill's various parts, such as Medicare expansion, subsidies, and ensuring 99 percent of Americans are covered. As one would expect, nearly everyone is scrambling to distance him or herself from the bill. 


In order to accomplish this, once again Barack Obama is pulling a Veruca Salt and is going to excessive and unprecedented measures to make sure he gets his way. With the president's supporters retreating from a public option plan due to the massive costs associated with it, the president is feeling the need to rally public support, so he is resorting to the same tactics that he used to push his $787 billion stimulus bill through Congress. In a style that rivaled the warnings of fire and brimstone preachers, President Obama warned of dire economic circumstances if the stimulus bill did not pass. In an echo of his earlier rhetoric, the President has declared that his health care plan must pass in the form he has proposed because health care costs are "a ticking time bomb." 


Read the rest. This is a gravely important issue. Bill Whittle discusses it at Afterburner, and I highly recommend you watch his latest video.

And, if you think you may get sick in the future, you better do it now and not wait until Obama gets his health care plan:

If you have any sense that you may be getting sick in the years ahead, I suggest you get sick immediately. If you will need of surgery or any medical procedure, do it now! If not immediately, be certain that you hand yourself over to the health care professionals before Oct. 15. That is the date on which President Obama hopes to sign his health care bill once it has gone through the congressional baloney grinder.

At the heart of Mr. Obama's plan is his stated goal to cut medical costs. That might sound good to you, but it means cutting services, nurses, technicians, medical tests and, most prominently, the use of expensive technology. The president's top medical advisers are quite frank about this.

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and a health-policy adviser in the Office of Management and Budget, has chided Americans for the expense of their "being enamored with technology." Dr. David Blumenthal, another key Obama adviser, charges medical innovations as being responsible for fully two-thirds of the annual increase in health care spending. Their solution is to limit expensive innovations. A 2008 Congressional Budget Office report agrees with their cost analysis but concludes happily that such innovations "permit the treatment of previously untreatable conditions." As I shall show, there are more humane ways to cut health care costs.

Also at the heart of Mr. Obama's plan is the restriction of services for older people, people 65 and older who, by virtue of modern medicine, may actually be 10 and 15 years younger in terms of good health than they would have been a generation ago. Alas, they still have higher health risks and costs than younger people. Thus, they are going to bear the brunt of the Obama administration's cost cuts, for 27 percent to 30 percent of Medicaid spending is spent for caring for people at the end of their lives.

Read the rest.

Update: Bruce Kessler at Maggie's Farm has a call to arms for all Americans. Here's a portion:

Update II: Michelle Malkin's column today is about the patient-dumping scheme she came up with for her employer, the University of Chicago Medical Center, to help them save money:

The White House, Democrats, and MoveOn liberals are spreading health care sob stories to sell a government takeover. But there's one health care policy nightmare you won't hear the Obamas hyping. It's a tale of poor, minority patient-dumping in Chicago -- with First Lady Michelle Obama's fingerprints all over it.

Both Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Democrat Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago have raised red flags about the outsourcing program, run by the University of Chicago Medical Center. The hospital has non-profit status and receives lucrative tax breaks in exchange for providing charity care. Yet, it spent a measly $10 million on charity care for the poor in fiscal 2007 when Mrs. Obama was employed there--1.3 percent of its total hospital expenses, according to an analysis performed for The Washington Post by the non-partisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. The figure is below the 2.1 percent average for nonprofit hospitals in surrounding Cook County.

Rep. Rush called for a House investigation last week in response to months of patient-dumping complaints, noting: "Congress has a duty to expend its power to mitigate and prevent this despicable practice from continuing in centers that receive federal funds."

And how did this outsourcing work? Poor, minority Chicagoans who were on Medicaid were sent to clinics in other locations around the city, under the guise that they would receive better care in those facilities instead of at the hospital. Malkin provides an example of how it went down for one little boy:

In February 2009, outrage in the Obamas' community exploded after a young boy covered by Medicaid was turned away from the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dontae Adams' mother, Angela, had sought emergency treatment for him after a pit bull tore off his upper lip. Mrs. Obama's hospital gave the boy a tetanus shot, antibiotics, and Tylenol and shoved him out the door. The mother and son took an hour-long bus ride to another hospital for surgery.

Read all of it.

Update III: Commenter Travis asks:

Why do Medicare and Medicaid cost so much less to operate than private plans?

They don't cost less. The US government just refuses to pay doctors and hospitals decent fees for service. In fact, it's so bad that Dr. Howard Dean's wife, Judith Steinberg, dropped Medicaid patients back in 1998 because the payouts were so low.

In Vermont, one of those physicians whom Medicaid beneficiaries couldn't visit was Judith Steinberg--Howard Dean's wife. In 1998, low reimbursement rates--coupled with the impact of additional regulations her husband signed into law--prompted Dr. Steinberg to end participation in the state's largest Medicaid-managed care program. As a result, the residents of Shelburne in Vermont's largest Medicaid plan lost access to the only primary care provider in town who would accept their insurance.

I don't fault Dr. Steinberg for her decision--it may well have been the only rational business decision for her to make. But for Governor Dean to claim that a government-run plan won't be "inferior" is to ignore his wife's experience, and that of the many beneficiaries who lost access to their physician due to Medicaid bureaucracy and poor coverage. My fear is that creating a government-run health insurance plan wouldn't guarantee quality care by physicians--in fact, it will not guarantee care at all.


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Comments (9)

More and more it seems like... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

More and more it seems like the 'progressive' way to handle anything is to take a somewhat working system, and with the best of intentions 'improve' it to a point where costs are astronomical and the results negligible, then declare a moral victory and walk away from the wreckage everyone else has to live with - and then scream bloody murder when anyone attempts to make it actually functional.

Also - have you noticed the folks pushing this idea in Washington are completely insulated from it? They will NEVER have to live under what they want to force on the rest of us.

Big damn surprise THAT, isn't it?

Why do Medicare and Medicai... (Below threshold)
Travis:

Why do Medicare and Medicaid cost so much less to operate than private plans?

I disagree with the partisan way the Obama administration is proceeding with this, for sure. It will deserve to fail if it does not comprommise or take into account some Republican provisions. However, I strongly hope the two parties can work together to complete meaningful reform, because there is no excuse for much of the soaring cost of healthcare. This truly is damaging our economy and crippling families, and something needs to be done.

Why do Medicare an... (Below threshold)
Why do Medicare and Medicaid cost so much less to operate than private plans?

They don't cost less to operate than private plans. The government pays less than what services cost to provide. In fact, the government pays so little that more and more doctors are dropping their Medicare and Medicaid doctors because it costs them more to see the patients and filling out the paperwork than the government pays them. Doctors lose money.

Destroying the private 'ins... (Below threshold)
AC:

Destroying the private 'insurance' industry can't happen soon enough. We need a National Health Service for the United States.

Why do Medicare and Medicaid cost so much less to operate than private plans?

Efficiency. The UK spends about US$2500 per person per year to actually provide health care. The US wastes about $7400 per person per year - on a system that provides no care to 40% of the people, assisted-suicide-class care to most of the rest, and fantastic care to only the very wealthy.

Kim Priestap wrote "They don't cost less to operate than private plans. The government pays less than what services cost to provide." Stop lying Kim, nobody with an IQ above room temperature believes this anymore.

AC, you're wrong. There are... (Below threshold)

AC, you're wrong. There are fewer Americans who interested in universal health care today than there were in 1993 when Clinton tried it. The UK spends less and it's obvious in the quality of care Britons receive. Read this:

http://www.americanissuesproject.org/blogs/columns/archive/2009/05/22/the-looming-fight-over-health-care-rationing.aspx

Also watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KI6uyhRcZLY&feature=player_embedded

If you're a healthy person, UK's and Canada's systems would probably be fine. If you have a chronic illness or disorder, you will suffer. Socialized health care is Darwin's survival of the fittest in practice. If you have bad genes and are prone to diseases such as cancers, heart disease, strokes, your chances of surviving a socialized health care program are diminished.

AC, If you're so wil... (Below threshold)

AC,
If you're so wild about a socialized health
system, move to Canada or to the UK.
I've posted this before, 3 immediate members of
my family died because of socialized medicine in
the UK. It's for crap.

I suppose some common sense... (Below threshold)
hsr0601:

I suppose some common sense and cool head can solve this cost problem.
As we know, the public option currently being discussed is modeled after Massachusetts Plan, under which about 97% of all Massachusetts residents are now covered.
According to the approach of CBO, its rate of the uninsured in Massachusetts should be far greater than the present one at the moment.
Moreover, in case the strong public option, medical IT, increased efforts in prevention, and a broader array of cost-saving plans and beyond add to the Massachusetts Plan, the cost containment does not matter at all. And most importantly, the promising stem cell research is making its way.
To date, private insurers have coexisted profitably with Medicare and Medicaid for many years.
Basically, healthy society leads to better productivity and better performance.

re: 7How are the c... (Below threshold)
epador:

re: 7

How are the cost going for that taxachusucks program, anyway?
And what kind of coverage are those 97% experiencing?
Please show me all the peer-reviewed studies that show cost-savings and health improvement that medical IT, preventive medicine (outside of childhood immunizations, nutrition and fluoride treatment), and cost-saving plans make cost containment not matter.
Private insurers have followed the "profitable" (for insurers, hospitals and providers) patterns established by first Medicare, then Medicaid, that have led to the spiraling costs of health care in the US. since the 1960's. The AMA, which had a ghost of an ethical conscience back then, originally opposed Medicare vigorously. Then when folks began to see the $$$$'s that the government would be throwing at the health care industry, they were bought and supported it. The rest is history.
So just how is the productivity in, say, Norway or Sweden, France or Germany, these days? I mean in then the annual sense per total population, not in productivity per hour worked.

Another problem that no one... (Below threshold)
Bj:

Another problem that no one seems to be addressing is the outrageous cost of malpractice insurance. The american public is sue happy, looking for any and all opportunities to sue in order to "get rich quick". Doctors are forced to pass these costs on to patients, and do a lot of unnecessary testing to cover themselves from these predatory lawsuits.
I've personally lost 2 Primary care physicians in the last 3 years who have quit practicing medicine because they could no longer afford the malpractice insurance, and neither of these doctors had ever had a lawsuit brought against them.




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