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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Howard Dean: Fight Health Care Bureaucracy with Fair Public Coverage Option

Hat tip to SouthDacola!

Quote of the day from Dr. Howard Dean:

Right now there is a bureaucrat between you and your doctor, and it's that private health insurance bureaucrat.

Watch the full MSNBC interview, wherein Dr. Dean demolishes Republican baloney points on the public option for health coverage.


  1. Dean is right. When I worked at BCBS of Colorado (shortly after becoming a for-profit company) we had a staff of RNs that actually began visiting hospitals to make sure patients met criteria for care. Of course it was even more managed on the HMO side. Don't be fooled. This tug of war is mainly about money, not quality of care.

    Just the other day someone was telling me Canadian friends are very satisfied with their system.

  2. As a health insurance agent, it bothers all of us to see health insurance and health care costs continue to climb at four times the rate of inflation. There's no way it can continue at that pace.

    I don't believe the government can operate its own health insurance plan after seeing what happened with the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) that is now government controlled. Rates were reasonable for flood insurance until the government took over. Now those rates are much higher.

    Most would say the Medicare Prescription Part D plans are complex, also a government-created plan. That plan has only been around for about three years and rates have been all over the board.

    Our problem with government control is that the government always wants more money, so rather than operate a system similar to a non-profit with benefits to the taxpayer, government sees these programs as a revenue source and starts moving costs higher to pay for other things. Sort of like the Social Security Trust Fund, taking money out of that system for other needs.

    The only way to make the system better is to have all parties represented and hammer out some controls so people can afford their health coverage.

  3. I had a health appointment today. Before my prescription was written, I was asked how much medication my insurance company would pay for, and that's how much I was prescribed. No discussion of how much I needed. So yeah, we already have bureaucrats in between us and our medical providers.

    Someone very close to me told me yesterday about the time he had no health insurance, although he was working full time, and thought he had broken a bone in his foot. He couldn't afford to go to a doctor, so wore heavy boots for two weeks. The pain finally went away. That is the kind of medical care that people who are against changing our current system are helping to achieve, whether they know it or not.

  4. The only thing that Dean was able to show me was just how little he knows about health care, especially medicare. The figure that medicare reimburses hosptials for services of 80 % is greatly inflated. It is more in the neighbor hood of 51 - 52 % and for some services, particularly ancillary services (Lab, X-ray) the rate can go as low as 35 %.

    Obama stated that one way he intends to pay for socialized medicine is by lowering reimbursment to hospitals and physicians. Lowering the already low rate? If this happens you will see hospitals cutting back on services and when this happens guess what, quality of care will suffer.

    For the people who want socialized medicine, be careful what you wish for......

    Tim Higgins

  5. One other point I would like to mention, is just how expensive it is to run a health care facility. All new medical technology and diagnostice equipment is very expensive, and necessary to provide the best care possible. The public demands it.

    As in the laboratory not only is the equipment expensive so are the supplies necessary to run them. There are several unfunded federal mandates that must be met by all health care facilities to continue to receive the ever shrinking medicare dollar. These mandates are not cheap in terms of initial costs to companies that supply needed product, but the time required by staff to process, report and review results. As I said all of this is unfunded and nation wide although I have no data on this I am guessing it would be several hundred million dollars.

    I have a physician friend who practices in the state of Washington. He is in a group practice with 9 or 10 other physicians. This clinic sees anywhere from 200 to 250 patients a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Of the total office call billed to the patient $65.00 from each patient goes to pay their mal practice insurance. Put a pencil to this the amount is staggering. This is why tort reform is needed, something that Obama opposes.

    I know this is getting long, one last point, Electonic Medical Record (EMR). This is the new buzz word, a universal EMR. Corey I don't need to tell you just how expensive computer hardware, software is. This will be a major undertaking and costs will skyrocket. All the different Information systems in hospitals and clinics will need to communicate with each other, the IT costs will be staggering. You will have to be able to pass through fire walls, content filters etc...

    The content filter? Google breast feeding and see what the search returns.

    All this, and Obama wants to reduce medicare reimbursment

    Tim Higgins

  6. Rod: "Our problem with government control is that the government always wants more money"—and this differs from the private system how? And remember, the government is us: rate hikes have to go through people we elect.

    Flood insurance: why did the rates go up? Could it be the government simply has an interest in ensuring that folks don't build in flood-prone areas? Would rates have gone up even under a privately controlled system due to higher population density and higher property values?

    Tim, how does your scenario differ from the scenario Kelly/PH describes, where people don't get the health care they need because of high costs? You are right about the proposed cost reductions: there's more on that from Obama's CBO chief in today's WashPost. We spend twice as much on health care as other countries, yet we get worse health outcomes. There's a lot of waste to be trimmed all around. And the way things work right now, Kelly and her friend with the heavy boots and my family can hardly afford basic care, let alone the best hi-tech care on the market. Even under the bad scenario you present, wouldn't it be better for folks to have guaranteed access to 50% of the services available now than to have them afraid to access any of the services available now for fear of bankruptcy?

  7. If folks don't like what Obama is proposing, what do they propose instead?

    Protesting a possbile change but not proposing one of your own is advocating that things stay the same. A lot of people don't realize the intense, needless human suffering that is occuring.

    Here in farm country, we've got families who grow our nation's food going without health care and health insurance. (They're not employees of a company, so don't have employer provided insurance.)

    Should the people who grow our food go without health insurance and health care? That's what folks who don't want the system changed are adovcating for.

  8. PrairieHighway: you want a solution to the health care mess? Get the federal government out of health care. Corey is right when he states there is a lot of waste, and much of the waste is caused by government programs, rules and regulations. It seems to me that several of you think that this will be an easy transition, wave a magic wade and all health care woes go away. It is not that simple and never will be with the layers of bureaucracy that this will create.

    Avera McKennen wrote off almost 50 million in bad debt last year, they will write off over that amount this year, so I don't by the argument that people are not getting the health care they need.

    I have stated this several times on this blog, so one more time will not hurt, NO ONE CAN BE REFUSED HEALTH CARE BASED ON ABILITY TO PAY. If a health care facility receives federal money they can not for any reason deny you health care.

    PH I followed the link Corey provided to your web site. I guess now I will do a search on the farm subsidy database to see if you receive payment from the federal government and if so how much. Then I will be able to tell if you can afford health insurance.

    Tim Higgins

  9. Ask anyone in Canada if they would trade what they have for the way that we run things here.

    I'm really feeling some anxiety, the route to go was Single Payer. The American People should be entitled to what our elected Senators and Representatives are getting.

    This article is certainly eye opening.


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