Prescribing Cake to Cure the Health Care Crisis

Marie Antoinette, contrary to popular opinion, never said a solution for the starving masses of revolutionary France in the late 18th century was, “Let them eat cake.” But, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) apparently said something close to it.

At a public meeting, one of Grassley’s constituents asked him, “Why is your insurance so much cheaper than my insurance and so much better than my insurance?” He then asked, “How come I can’t have the same thing you have?” Grassley’s response was a flip, “You can. Just go work for the federal government.” Grassley, who opposes universal health care, is happy with health care programs paid for with tax dollars and available for every member of Congress, all Congressional staffers, everyone in the executive and judicial branches, and the military and their families. He doesn’t even oppose Social Security and Medicare. He just doesn’t want the masses to have the same quality of medical care that Senators have.

In response, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who has led the fight for universal health care for more than four decades, writing for the July 27 issue of Newsweek, argues that “quality care shouldn’t depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.”

The liberals, and most Democrats, are outraged that 46–48 million American citizens still don’t have health care coverage, and millions more have such minimal coverage that they often decline to get medical help when necessary. About 62 percent of all bankruptcies are the result of extraordinary medical costs, according to a report to be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine. Of those who declared bankruptcy because of medical bills, “78 percent of them had health insurance, but many of them were bankrupted anyway because there were gaps in their coverage like co-payments and deductibles and uncovered services,” Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, the study’s senior author, told CNN. “Other people had private insurance but got so sick that they lost their job and lost their insurance,” she said.

Liberals complain that the problem has become even more acute during the Recession when every day about 12,000 workers are losing health insurance, either because of forced layoffs or because a company cuts back on its insurance coverage for its workers. They question why the same drugs sold in Canada are significantly less expensive than ones sold in the U.S., and why the conservatives have blocked all attempts for Americans to go to Canada to buy the less expensive drugs. The liberals also point to a scientific study by the Commonwealth Fund that concluded, “Despite having the most costly health system in the world, the United States consistently underperforms on most dimensions of performance, relative to other countries.” That study also concluded that the U.S. “fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries [Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom], and as shown in the earlier [studies], the U.S. is last on dimensions of access, patient safety, efficiency, and equity.” Of the top 50 economies in the world, only the U.S. doesn’t have universal health coverage.

Two major competing plans—Single Payer and Public Option— are proposed to alleviate the problems of health care coverage. Under the Single Payer health care system, there would be one program, similar to Medicare but with all citizens covered. Although President Obama, as a senator, advocated the Single Payer system, he now believes the best proposal is the Public Option. The Public Option plan allows more than 80 million workers to keep or change their insurance coverage, buy into the government-run public plan, or go uninsured. The Public Option plan would protect the insurance industry, while reducing costs; the Single Payer system would threaten the industry, and relegate it to providing only supplemental or special needs insurance. The Public Option plan allows workers and employers to keep their own insurance or to enroll in the government insurance; there would be no choice in Single Payer system. Advocates of the Single Payer system argue that by enrolling all citizens into one system, costs would be significantly less because of the ability to negotiate with the health care industry and the probable reduction in administrative costs. The Public Option would also influence drug companies and health care providers, but the result could be less reduction than under the Single Payer system. Both Single Payer and Public Option plans eliminate or significantly reduce deductibles and co-pays.

The conservatives, and most Republicans, don’t buy into either plan. Sen. Jim DeMint (R–S.C.) explained one of the major reasons why conservatives will do everything they can to block health care reform. DeMint told about 100 leaders of Conservatives for Patients Rights, July 17, “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Of course, DeMint may be an unofficial paid puppet for the parts of the health care industry that doesn’t want reform. During the past five years, DeMint received $2,917,870 in campaign contributions from the health care industry, according official campaign reports published by Michael Steele, chair of the Republican National Committee, agrees with DeMint’s “analysis” of what defeating health care reform can do to the Obama presidency. “I think that’s a good way to put it,” he told reporters at the National Press Club, July 20. For his part, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and possible Republican candidate for president, gleefully claimed on talk radio that health care reform “could be the bill that drags his whole presidency down and they look back on it and suddenly the whole thing is unraveled.”

Disregarding the absurdity of Republican statements that place partisan politics above health care reform, the conservatives have other issues. They complain they don’t want government running any part of anything, especially health care. They ignore provisions of proposed Single Payer legislation that remove the middle-men insurance companies. They claim that no bureaucrat should step between a physician and a patient. Of course, they don’t mind that private enterprise, in the guise of the megagoliath insurance and drug industries, do that all the time.

The conservatives argue that competition between insurance companies keeps costs low, but they ignore a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine that concluded that about 30 percent of all health care costs are for overhead expenses, including executive bonuses and aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns by drug and insurance companies. They disregard the reality that patients and their physicians, dentists, optometrists, and other health care providers will determine the best treatments, and not an insurance clerk reading myriad pages of rules and regulations established by—who else?—insurance companies. They ignore the fact that universal health care coverage would reduce “cherry picking,” the enrollment of only healthy persons in order to “maximize profits.” The Public Option plan allows insurance companies to continue to “cherry pick,” but has provisions for those who are denied coverage to enroll in the Public Option plan. Under the Single Payer system, there would be no denial because of pre-existing conditions.

Conservatives falsely claim there won’t be any choice when government takes over health care, but disregard the reality that under both plans Americans can still choose whoever they wish to be their health care providers. But if the conservatives want to push what they call the terror of “no choice,” let them realize that even with excellent private insurance, patients currently have no choice in some situations. Those who go to an emergency room already have no choice of personnel. Except in the smaller hospitals, hospitalized patients, no matter how admitted, usually receive care from anonymous residents and hospitalists who are neither the patient’s primary care physician nor the patient’s own specialists.

In yet another attempt to scare the working class, the conservatives tell the masses that government-run health care will be as much a boondoggle as the Post Office. But, while every organization has myriad problems, six days a week a member of the working class, a letter carrier, comes to almost every house or business in America and cheerfully delivers the mail on time, stopping occasionally from 10-mile routes to chat.

Conservatives claim that a universal health care system will cost $1 trillion, overlooking a reality that health care costs are currently about $2.2 trillion a year. They conveniently forget that George W. Bush, with the approval of a lame Congress, ran up far more than $1 trillion in debt during his two terms and that the cost of the unnecessary war in Iraq, begun by a jingoistic president and vice-president who lied to the people, will easily cost more than $1 trillion.

Nevertheless, the conservatives are right about two issues. They are right that the proposed Public Option plan doesn’t specify which taxes are to be raised or what would be required for both individuals or businesses to become part of a national insurance plan. However, proposals for the Single Payer system, such as one proposed in Pennsylvania, will impose a 3 percent personal income tax; each business would pay 10%, significantly lower than what most businesses that insure their workers currently pay. Additional revenue would be from existing programs, including Medicaid.

Conservatives also are right that there will be some fraud and the cost will probably be far greater than the projections, something that is part of almost every large private business and government-run programs. However, the conservatives conveniently ignore the reality that the Bush–Cheney Administration, again with little Congressional concern, handed out innumerable multi-million dollar no-bid contracts, often to their friends and business associates, and did little to investigate cost over-runs, wasteful spending, and fraud.

Although President Obama is firm that there would be no additional tax for persons making less than $250,000 a year, conservatives are worried that the government will increase taxes for anyone making a net of $1 million a year or more. Apparently, impoverished conservatives and their conservative representatives must protect millionaires from harm.

About six of every ten Americans, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll in February 2009 say they want the government to provide universal health care coverage. Groups as diverse as the AFL–CIO, the AARP, and the American College of Physicians want universal health care coverage. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, only one-third of physicians oppose universal health care coverage.

“America’s health care system,” said Walter Cronkite in 1993, “is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” Nothing has changed since then.

Sen. Grassley has no worries about health care coverage. Under a quasi-socialist system for all three branches of government, including the military, he gets the best medical, dental, and optometric care in the country. As for the rest, like his conservative colleagues, Sen. Grassley believes that cake is the best medicine for those without adequate coverage.

Walter Brasch, during a 40-year work career in mass communications, has been a member of several unions, in both the private and public sectors. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the author of 16 books, including With Just Cause: Unionization of the American Journalist, Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution, and his latest Fracking Pennsylvania. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Walter, or visit Walter's website.

32 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on July 22nd, 2009 at 9:46am #

    access to a doctor or hospital is a basic panhuman right. This right is not far behind the basic right to having bread and bed. These rights are our rightfull inheritance.
    of course, right to live, is our dearest panhuman right. It is not respected by US and many other lands, or rather, the ruling classes of those lands. tnx

  2. Tomas' said on July 22nd, 2009 at 11:09am #

    From which of the founding documents do you find a mandate for health care? Will Ted “Chappaquddick” Kennedy trade his healthcare for what he wants to push on America?


  3. B99 said on July 22nd, 2009 at 2:10pm #

    From the Declaration of Independence – ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ There is no happiness without health – and we the governed are consenting the government to follow through on the self-evident truths obvious to our founding fathers.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

  4. Danny Ray said on July 22nd, 2009 at 2:31pm #

    You are right of course B99 But now I need to ask where it says that the Government should pay for that right. No one has taken the right for health care from you. You can go to a doctor anytime you need to but No where does it say the Government should pay for it. After all, you have the right to bear arms but the government is not going to give you a firearm. You have the right to free speech but the government will not pay for air time to espouse your opinion. You have to right to freedom of religion but the government will not build you a church, so why do you think the government should pay for your medical treatment?

  5. brasch said on July 22nd, 2009 at 3:31pm #

    The government is NOT paying for all the health care. Individuals and businesses will still pay–but the government will coordinate and negotiate better costs in all facets of health care. Right now, we are paying for many of the uninsurred. They wait until sometyhing critical happens because they don’t have good health care, and then go to an ER, and the hospital bills Medicare (that’s us!). By time they get to an ER, the costs would normally be extremely high because there was no treatment when there wasn’t a crisis.

  6. bozh said on July 22nd, 2009 at 3:43pm #

    danny danilowitz [or is danilovitch?]
    What have you forgotten to include in your comparisons?
    you forgot to include the most important fact: Our common genetic pool that produces short, tall, smart, less smart, extremely smart, healthy, less healthy, energetic, strong, weak, extremely energetic, etc. people.
    my wife’s sister received from our genetic pool parkinson’s, cancer, and heart problems all at the same time.
    she did not get all that by wishing. Did u know that tesla’s father and mother were two small town dummies in croatia but nevertheless gave birth to one of the greeatest scientists.
    mind u, he was not a croatian but croatian serb.
    so, when two dummies give birth to a genius and he invents alternating current etc., we all shld be paying tesla’s descendants for our use of his invention- and, forever and quite fatly?
    tesla did not demand that! Why? Because it takes one mn + people to give birth to a genius and not just two people or two idiots.
    so why shldn’t the two idiots get their healthcare.
    regarding having and buying guns one cld say that owning guns is not a necessity for most people; it is optional; nothing optional ab. treating a broken leg, heart ailment, cancer, etc.
    wanna rethink, danilovitch? spasibo

  7. Danny Ray said on July 22nd, 2009 at 3:52pm #

    Bozh ste mudri stari djed, ali ja još uvijek ne vidim zašto bi trebao platiti za princa svog liječnika

    Bozh , You are a wise old gentleman but I still do not see why the goverment should pay for your doctor.

  8. B99 said on July 22nd, 2009 at 3:53pm #

    Danny Ray – Well, the government won’t be paying for it – the taxpayer will be paying for it like all social programs. The costs are spread over all tax payers with the wealthy paying according to their ability to do so – which is considerable.

    We, of course, cannot go to a doctor anytime we need to – millions of people don’t go at all, because they have no insurance or they don’t want to drive up their premiums. People pay taxes on firearms and taxes pay for public TV and radio (at least in theory). With regard to churches, they are exempt from taxes – that amounts to a subsidy enabling them to build the haunted house of their dreams.

    So the taxpayer is the source of funding for a national health care plan that will save us all money by eliminating the middleman that provides absolutely no health care at all – the insurance companies. They make their money denying health coverage – no matter how much you’ve paid into the system.

  9. Danny Ray said on July 22nd, 2009 at 4:29pm #

    Well, the government will not be paying for it – the taxpayer will be

    In Ms Nortons 11th grade social studies we learned that the Taxpayers are the Government. Perhaps that is the problem we have forgotten that we are the government we have let a group of professional con men take over the operation of our country. we have abdicated our responsibility for ourselves to a nanny government.

    If you wish to lower the cost of health care get the freakin lawyers out of it, let doctors heal and not have to keep looking over their shoulders for a supeona.

  10. Danny Ray said on July 22nd, 2009 at 4:34pm #

    Bozh, maybe I was Bohdan Khmelnytsky in a past life, well I wish I ws anyway

  11. B99 said on July 22nd, 2009 at 4:51pm #

    No Danny Ray – the operative word on paying for social programs is the ‘taxpayer’ – calling it the government is to pretend it’s some office building somewhere in DC rather than us. Our job is to take our government back from the corporations – the lobbyists – who run it, and return it to the taxpayer – the citizen. You do realize don’t you, that the committee to determine our health ‘care’ was composed of insurance companies, Big Pharma, the AMA – but not citizens who supported ‘single-payer. This last groups was actually physically driven from the room and arrested. The insurance, medical, and drug execs were not driven from the room – the citizens were. Nanny state – we can only wish! It is the nanny state for the corporations, however, that’s why the banks and insurance companies were fed taxpayer money by both Bush and Obama.

    It’s fine with me if we get the lawyers out of it – them and the other middlemen (actually middle-corporate leaches) who keeps us 36th in world health care.

  12. Danny Ray said on July 22nd, 2009 at 5:05pm #

    B99 I agree with you with all my heart. We the people need no Have to take our “government “ ( for lack of a better term) away from the buildings and give it back to the people . With that, you will have no argument from me,

    Good ol Sir John Falstaff was absolutely right the first thing we need to do is line up all the lawyers by the wall and say goodbye to them and the lobbyist.

    But that still doesn’t mean that anywhere in the constitution does it say we have to have government funded health care.

    By accepting that we are handing one more liberty to the freaking paper pushers and we are losing liberty now at an alarming rate. .

  13. Tennessee-With-Zelaya said on July 22nd, 2009 at 9:17pm #

    Obama’s health reform plan is a scam, but the problem is that most americans are too conformists. Don’t conform for reformed capitalism, what we need is 100% socialism with 100% free medical services and 100% free universities such as Harvard, and UCLA instead of cheapy, stingy community colleges with low standars. I demand a dictatorship of the proletariat and nothing less.

  14. Tennessee-With-Zelaya said on July 22nd, 2009 at 9:21pm #

    CAPITALISM IS HORROR WITHOUT END. THE CAPITALISTS ARE MASS MURDERING AMERICANS BY LAYING THEM OFF !!–_but_there_are_ways_to_cushion_the_severe_health_impact_of_job_loss/

    By Tom Jacobs, Posted July 1, 2009.

    Studies show that the current economic climate may be eroding months or even years from the lives of those on the bleeding edge of insecurity

    When you lose your job, with no prospect of finding another one quickly, you give up a lot more than income. You are deprived of a sense of security, a source of self-esteem, a certain status in the community. And, according to recent research, you also lose something even more precious: a year or more of your life.

    That’s the conclusion of two prominent economists, Daniel Sullivan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Till von Wachter of Columbia University. Matching death records with employment and earnings data of Pennsylvania workers from the 1970s and ’80s, they found mortality rates for high-seniority male workers spike sharply in the year following an involuntary job loss, and they remain surprisingly high two decades later.

    If this higher death rate persists into old age, it implies “a loss in life expectancy of 1 to 1.5 years for a worker displaced at age 40,” the researchers report. Or as von Wachter puts it more informally: “We were convincingly able to show that if you lose your job, you die earlier.”

    But the risk of premature death isn’t limited to those who have actually been let go. A growing body of research suggests a nagging, persistent fear of losing one’s job is also detrimental to one’s health. University of Michigan sociologist Sarah Burgard, who has extensively studied the relationship between job loss, job insecurity and health, calls this “the waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop problem.” Given the current state of the economy, many people are anxiously awaiting the thud of that falling footwear.

    In recent months, official Washington has been consumed by two issues: jobs and the economy, and the cost and availability of health care. But there has been surprisingly little discussion regarding the ways in which they intersect. A series of recent studies not only provide evidence these public-policy problems are interrelated: They also suggest that if, as many fear, long-term job security is largely a thing of the past, the public health consequences could be enormous.

    Let us start with the latest research on job loss and health, published just last month in the journal Demography. Kate Strully, a sociologist at the University at Albany, State University of New York, found herself struggling with a question often raised by economists (including von Wachter). The correlation between ill health and job loss has long been established, but how can we know which is the cause and which is the effect? Surely some sick people are laid off because they’re physically unable to meet the demands of the job. Does this skew the numbers and cause researchers to come to false conclusions?

    To find an answer, Strully examined data from the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a nationally representative longitudinal study of American families that includes detailed information on the participants’ health and employment. The surveys reported not only if the person had lost a job, but under what circumstances.

    This allowed Strully to focus her attention on what she calls “no-fault” job losses — that is, people who became unemployed when their entire workplace shut down. Examples included factory closings and companies that went out of business. In these cases, literally everyone was let go, making it highly unlikely poor health was a factor in any worker’s dismissal.

    The workers were interviewed approximately a year and a half following the layoffs. Of those who were still unemployed, close to 9 percent reported developing a new stress-related health condition such as diabetes or hypertension since parting ways with their former employer. This compares to a 5 percent rate among people who reported their job condition was stable. Those who found new employment also had above-average rates of new health problems, although not as high as the long-term unemployed.

    Given these figures, “I’m convinced that a large shock to one’s socioeconomic status, such as job loss, negatively impacts health,” she says.

    Burgard, who has done her own research along these lines, agrees. “Job instability is OK for some people, but not for others,” she says. “If you’re an IT guy and you have a high educational degree, part of being successful is jumping from firm to firm. That’s how you increase your income.

    “But the type of workers we tend to see here in Michigan, who aren’t necessarily highly educated, are facing a really tough road. I think people have been focused on the economic payoff (of a more flexible economy where jobs appear and disappear), but are less aware of the potential costs in terms of worker health.”

    Economists tend to argue that the flexibility to hire and fire workers as needed ultimately makes the economy more productive, and increases overall wealth. If that’s actually true, it would have public health benefits. As healthcare economist Jason Shafrin argued in 2007, the concept of “creative destruction” — that is, a dynamic economy where innovation leads new companies to rise and old ones to adapt or die — “has decreased average mortality for individuals all over the world due to rising living standards.”

    In their latest paper, published in the American Economic Review in May, Sullivan and von Wachter present evidence that cuts both ways. They report the association between income and mortality is far stronger than was thought earlier. If the ever-churning economy produces more higher-paying jobs, those able to land one of them likely will see a positive impact on their health.

    But the economists also found workers who lose their jobs — and cannot find another quickly — tend to suffer large earnings losses and go through a period of income instability. This is a big concern, since “higher variability of earnings is associated with increased mortality.”

    “You’re looking at two people, both with the same long-term earnings,” says von Wachter. “The one with the more volatile earnings dies earlier. Certainly, this is interesting evidence.”

    Like many economists, von Wachter isn’t certain that the public perception that jobs and incomes are less stable than they once were is accurate. But he has no doubt that “sweeping restructuring” is going on in a number of industries, and workers in those sectors are experiencing health-sapping stress.

    “This we can say: The large number of people being laid off in this recession will be subject to higher earnings volatility, and that will likely affect their mortality.”

    This is still more bad news for the former employees of General Motors and Chrysler, but what about workers at, say, Ford? Their company hasn’t gone bankrupt, but they’re fully aware that the industry is on shaky ground, and there are no guarantees their jobs will exist in a year. Using data from two nationally representative samples — the Americans’ Changing Lives and Midlife in the United States studies — Burgard and two colleagues looked at people in that precarious situation for a July 2008 Population Studies Center research report.

    Their study (to be published later this year in the journal Social Science and Medicine) concluded that “among people who are currently employed, those who have been persistently worried about losing their jobs have significantly worse self-rated overall health than those who haven’t been consistently worried.” Strikingly, these worried workers “are worse off than people who have had a job loss in the past few years, but are currently re-employed.”

    That makes perfect sense to psychologist Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University, one of the nation’s leading researchers on the relationship between stress and disease.

    “There is a fair amount of evidence that expecting a major stressor is often worse than the actual occurrence of the stressor,” he says. “My understanding is people who lose their jobs and get new ones pretty quickly don’t show many of these effects. That’s consistent with what we know about stress in general. Generally, the longer the stressor lasts, the greater the risk you are under for various diseases.”

    Cohen reports there are “two general pathways linking stress to disease-related outcomes. One is the behavioral pathway. We know that under stress, people smoke more, drink more. They don’t sleep as well. They don’t exercise. They have poorer diets. All of these things can put people at greater risk of disease.

    “The other is the physiological pathway. There is considerable evidence that under chronic stress, the immune system does not work the way it should. There’s evidence for underresponsivity, where the immune system does not respond adequately to challenges and also for overresponsivitity.”

    What’s the problem with an overly vigilant immune system? In many cases, the body’s response to a perceived threat is what causes the symptoms we associate with a disease. “In cold studies, we find people who are under chronic stress, when we expose them to a virus, they’re more likely to get sick,” Cohen says. “They’re producing much more pro-inflammatory cytokine, which is what produces the symptoms of colds.”

    So expect to hear a lot of sneezing in coming months. But Cohen counters that thought with some good news: The fact job anxiety is so widespread could actually dampen its destructive impact.

    “A lot of the experience of stress has to do with challenges to your self-esteem — that feeling you’re not accomplishing what you should be able to accomplish,” he says. “Being out of work is a stressful event, irrespective of the reason, but it is buffered a bit by the idea that it’s the economy that’s at fault — not the fact I’m incompetent.”

    Cohen doubts there are any simple public-policy solutions to this particular health facet of the current financial crisis. “There are interventions that can influence aspects of stress in people’s lives,” he says. “But I’m not sure how effective they’re going to be for people who are unemployed. The major stressors that put people at risk are the chronic, enduring problems that are engrained in their lives, and they’re the ones least susceptible to interventions.”

    One obvious response is being considered as part of current the health-care debate in Congress: Finding a way to ensure laid-off workers continue to have health insurance. Under the current system, where most people receive health benefits from their employer, laid-off workers are losing coverage precisely at a time when they are at increased risk of disease.

    On the other hand, Strully notes, “Making sure people have health insurance won’t negate or undo the health consequences of job loss. In my analysis, it doesn’t reduce the effect of job loss that much.

    “If people are developing health problems as a result of job loss, being able to continue their health care will certainly impact how well they can manage. So it’s definitely a good idea (to find a way to make sure the unemployed are covered). But any intervention is going to have to be more broad and holistic.”

    Meaning what? “Some combination of income protection and helping people cope with stress in a reasonably healthy way is probably the most practical intervention,” she says. “There’s a lot of research showing social support — access to supportive, healthy relationships — is really important in how people cope with stressful events.

    “I was exchanging e-mails with a union organizer. He was asking me what that kind of organization could do. I suggested a support group that offers really practical advice, like how to maintain a healthy diet on a budget, could be really helpful. Having a group in which people share and develop ties with people who have gone through similar experiences has the potential to be beneficial.”

    “All the research suggests the mental health costs are reduced substantially when people return to work,” adds Burgard. “You want (as a society) to give people help in finding another job, perhaps retraining, health coverage in the interim. Those are all things our current system doesn’t necessarily supply. So from a policy angle, there’s a lot we can do.

    “Will it be expensive? Probably. Will it be more expensive to pay for medical care when they get sick down the road? That’s an open question. We need to think about preventive maintenance. Just telling people to sleep more and buy COBRA won’t do it.”

  15. bozh said on July 23rd, 2009 at 6:53am #

    danny, ja sam stvarno stari dida; 50% croat’n 23% illyrian, 24% roman, 0001% jewish, zulu, apache, shemitic, uganadan, etc.

    u do, however, have the right to say that that one must pay for own healthcare.
    may, i ask, on what principle(s) do u justify itÉ (my query mark dosn`t come on, instead i get an É)
    did u consider that “thou shall have healthcare paid by all USans“ was deliberately left out by US plutos“É.
    why wld they provide physicians to own slavesÉ. Weren`t some of these fatherly people also slave ownersÉ.
    what is that tell usÉ. hvala

  16. bozh said on July 23rd, 2009 at 7:07am #

    in short, we`ve always had work for everybody, we have work for everyone now, and we will always have work for all.

    however, sadly, work is owned by private profiteers; it is been hijacked by individuals along with constitution, governance, education, armed services, spy agencies, jurisprudence, senators and other politicos, etc.

  17. jacksmith said on July 23rd, 2009 at 9:00am #


    We have the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed world.

    I know that many of you are angry and frustrated that REPUBLICANS! In congress are dragging their feet and trying to block TRUE healthcare reform. What republicans want is just a taxpayer bailout of the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance industry, and the DISGRACEFUL GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare industry. An insurance bailout is all you really get without a robust government-run public option available on day one.

    These industries have been slaughtering you and your loved ones like cattle for decades for profit. Including members of congress and their families. These REPUBLICANS are FOOLS!

    Republicans and their traitorous allies have been trying to make it look like it’s President Obama’s fault for the delays, and foot dragging. But I think you all know better than that. President Obama inherited one of the worst government catastrophes in American history from these REPUBLICANS! And President Obama has done a brilliant job of turning things around, and working his heart out for all of us.

    But Republicans think you are just a bunch of stupid, idiot, cash cows with short memories. Just like they did under the Bush administration when they helped Bush and Cheney rape America and the rest of the World.

    But you don’t have to put up with that. And this is what you can do. The Republicans below will be up for reelection on November 2, 2010. Just a little over 13 months from now. And many of you will be able to vote early. So pick some names and tell their voters that their representatives (by name) are obstructing TRUE healthcare reform. And are sellouts to the insurance and medical lobbyist.

    Ask them to contact their representatives and tell them that they are going to work to throw them out of office on November 2, 2010, if not before by impeachment, or recall elections. Doing this will give you something more to do to make things better in America. And it will help you feel better too.

    There are many resources on the internet that can help you find people to call and contact. For example, many social networking sites can be searched by state, city, or University. Be inventive and creative. I can think of many ways to do this. But be nice. These are your neighbors. And most will want to help.

    I know there are a few democrats that have been trying to obstruct TRUE healthcare reform too. But the main problem is the Bush Republicans. Removing them is the best thing tactically to do. On the other hand. If you can easily replace a democrat obstructionist with a supportive democrat, DO IT!

    You have been AMAZING!!! my people. Don’t loose heart. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy saving the World. 🙂

    God Bless You

    jacksmith — Working Class

    Republican Senators up for re-election in 2010.

    * Richard Shelby of Alabama
    * Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    * John McCain of Arizona
    * Mel Martinez of Florida
    * Johnny Isakson of Georgia
    * Mike Crapo of Idaho
    * Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    * Sam Brownback of Kansas
    * Jim Bunning of Kentucky
    * David Vitter of Louisiana
    * Kit Bond of Missouri
    * Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
    * Richard Burr of North Carolina
    * George Voinovich of Ohio
    * Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
    * Jim DeMint of South Carolina
    * John Thune of South Dakota
    * Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas
    * Bob Bennett of Utah

  18. Harry Canary said on July 23rd, 2009 at 9:09am #

    In which of the founding documents do you find a requirement for preemptive war against a country which had nothing at all to do with any attack on us? When will georgie “inherited entitlement” bushjunior and ex president dick “satan” cheney give up their health care, pseudo presidential libraries and other perks paid for by us?

    It is all priorities, spend trillions on war but can’t afford health care, trillions on bailing out bankers who screwed up but can’t afford post offices or roads, million dollar salaries for car executives who screwed up but cut wages for workers who did their jobs.

  19. Harry Canary said on July 23rd, 2009 at 9:19am #

    Danny Ray
    My insurance has had double digit premium increases and significant reductions of coverage every year for over ten years. The insurance pool is self funded by the company. It is administered by Blue Cross. Even in years where the actual medical cost for the company has reduced, the premiums have seen double digit increases. This is all overhead for BC/BS.

    So instead of handing liberty to the paper pushers in the government you give it to the paper pushers at Blue Cross, Humana, etc.? Insurance companies are pure overhead. And they interfere in medical decisions. The cost of the insurance far, far outpaces rise in any other costs. It would not be necessary to consider a government program if the current system were working.

  20. Danny Ray said on July 23rd, 2009 at 3:00pm #

    Do you really think that a program run by the fxxxxxx gov. will be any better?

    hell they run the post office . do you really want those guys planning your open heart surgery.

    And the long and short of it is I pay for mine, you pay for your, so why do we have to pay for the roof squatters?

  21. B99 said on July 23rd, 2009 at 3:57pm #

    Danny Ray – Nor does it say in the constitution that we cannot have taxpayer funded health care, BUT Article one, section 8 says congress has the power to impose taxes. If the people want publicly funded health care – so be it. In fact, I trust the government to be more just, more efficient, and more effective than any corporation in the private sector. The present Bush Recession is what you get when the state gives the private sector free reign. Its a bull in the china shop and we are the china. We can import the Canadian medical system wholesale or expand medicare to the entire population. Why should I leave my health in the hands of pencil pushing clerk who gets paid to DENY coverage – and fired if s/he says yes to many times. Best to join the civilized world and provide national guarantees on health care. As far as liberty goes, what liberties do YOU take with Blue Cross/Blue Shield?

    The post office? I have not missed a bill (unfortunately) in decades. My netflix movies are mailed on Monday and I get them on Tuesday. I work for the government and because of asshole conservative Republican ideology much of the work is farmed out to contractors. And you know what? They suck bigtime. Because they are in it for the cash, not for the citizenry.

    Governments don’t plan open-heart surgery – the physician and patient do that. What the govt does is guarantee that you won’t be taken to the cleaners by surgery. (62% of US bankruptcies are due to medical bills and 78% of these people HAVE medical insurance).

    As for the long and short of it, the roof squatters are the insurance companies, as for the Latinos you refer to, they use medical services less than you do despite paying into the system.

    And you know why we need to have universal coverage? Because good people realize we live in a society, conservatives think we live in an economy.

  22. Danny Ray said on July 23rd, 2009 at 5:07pm #

    Sorry B I did not make any reference to the Latinos.
    I like latinos its yankees that give me the red ass

    As far as BC BS goes my whole medical service now is Kurdish guy with a big knife and a box of band aids.

    I work for the goverment also, ( well I have been told that I never actually work) and I do not trust them if they say the world is round.

  23. B99 said on July 23rd, 2009 at 6:11pm #

    So the Yankees are ‘roof squatters’?

    If you don’t trust the government and work for the govt. are you referring to your own work ethic? My co-workers are dedicated public health careerists – when we are forced by Republicans to hire contractors, the contractors pretty much make off with the money – because that’s what they are in it for – unlike my co-workers who believe in the mission of public health.

    So you’d rather trust a pencil pusher who works for a for-profit corporation answerable only to its stockholders rather than a govt employee that is answerable to the people. Boy, did you ever drink the Reagan kool-ade!

  24. Danny Ray said on July 23rd, 2009 at 6:28pm #

    Roof Squatters = The non productive members of society i,e, Those who my old grandmother said neither sow or reap. people who squat on the roof of a building and wait for others to come help them.

    Most Yankees are not roof squatters, the yankees thing was an attempt at humor. you should try that sometimes.

    so was the remark about my kurdish best friend, who says that he may not wash the knife if he needs to cut on me next time. He is reading over my shoulder.

    Yes I am a social darwinist. I thought I would get that out of the way before it becomes an issue.

    I do not beleive that the enemy is corporations. have you ever flown in an airplane made in Joe and Eddies garage?

  25. B99 said on July 23rd, 2009 at 7:01pm #

    Why should I try humor here? If I want humor I’ll put on the comedy channel. Humor on this venue is lost. I mean, it’s not as if there are true humorists here. Leave that to the pros.

    Corporations are not the enemy – it’s just a matter of who owns them.

    Just remember, it’s the US gov’t that landed people on the moon and brought them back. Private efforts can barely get off the ground without blowing themselves up.

  26. Harry Canary said on July 24th, 2009 at 1:59pm #

    roof squatters- do you mean like insurance salesboys and bureaucrats?

    Hey social darwinist how would like a society where the biggest badass with the biggest knife could walk up and take what you have? I thought not. So you believe in society and limits, you just do not want them to inconvenience you.

    Yes sometimes I think corporations are the enemy because they are a tool of the real enemy. The real enemy are the inherited aristocracy. Those who talk of rising on merit but insure that their useless spawn is protected. And corporations are a tool to protect these people from liability and responsibility for their actions. If all corporations were sole proprietorships, there probably would not be a problem. And if the business owner who decided to cheapen up the product so it maims someone or who chiseled on the supports for the coal mine which collapsed were not able to hide behind his business there would not be a problem. If the business owner were not able to walk away scot free with a bankruptcy paying 20 cents on the dollar to creditors who behaved honestly there would not be a problem. If the bankster who screwed up royally were not able to call in politial favors and have his hind end bailed out while the auto worker has his wages cut and pension taken there would not be a problem.

    But corporations as they exist now are a huge problem.

  27. Danny Ray said on July 24th, 2009 at 2:59pm #


    I believe you have anarchy and societal Darwinism confused. Try Google it’s a wonder in these situations.

    What I do not wish to inconvenience me is the do-nothings we have bred over the past 50 years, the entitlement generation if you wish to call them that. You know who you are, the people who think the government owes you bread and circuses. Not to mention free health care. Who are too stupid to leave during a hurricane and then bitch when help takes to long to get there.

    You said, “The real enemy is the inherited aristocracy. Those who talk of rising on merit but insure that their useless spawn are protected. “

    (Sorry I corrected your grammar you seem to have a problem with tenses.)

    So harry, I will guess you were born nothing and have manager to remain the same. Congrats!!!

  28. Melissa said on July 24th, 2009 at 8:20pm #

    I sincerely do not have a problem with the taxpayers mandating socialized medicine.

    I have a problem with the fact that our current government is NOT going to give people what they think they are working for. The “reform” will be another favor . . . to someone else.

    I have a problem with the fact that as “reform” gets argued about and obfuscated, health freedom is going down the tubes. Make no mistake, this “reform” will come with strings of some kind, and it will enrich pharma, and starve the more sustainable, sane and truly healing alternatives. Pharma, with FDA and Judicial help, is killing and criminalizing natural medicine.

    I wish there were a balanced approach. But I will just prepare myself and others to deal with a jump in the percentage of people who like mind-bending pharma drugs to soothe the effects of not taking care of the real issues that plague all of us. Just take a pill . . . blech.


  29. B99 said on July 25th, 2009 at 9:38am #

    Danny Ray – By people who believe they are owed bread and circuses do you mean the subsidized industries, the subsidized individual corporations, or the home owning middle class receiving a subsidy for its mortgage interest and taxes? Which (if not all) would you like to see ended?

    Nothing is free – certainly not health care. So why should I turn my precious dollars over to an insurance company which provides no health care but instead extorts money from me to DENY me health care?

    People did not leave in the hurricane because they had no cars, or no money for gas, or no money for a motel or food, or they were old and infirm. And it WAS the elderly who were the most likely to die. And because the Bush Administration, advised as it was as to the storm’s tenacity, chose to play golf and shop. I think many days in the astrodome is sufficient time to say that help arrived late, shit, it did not arrive at all. That’s Conservatives for you. People pay taxes all their lives and when push comes to shove, the feds have dismantled your emergency management administration and given the money to Wall St. sharks.

    Danny Ray understands quite well what democracy is about – rule by, for, and of the lobbyists – just as it oughta be.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain said on July 27th, 2009 at 2:54am #

    The simplest manner in which to judge the decency of a society, the health of its collective ‘soul’, is to examine how it treats the most vulnerable of its citizens. And no-one is more vulnerable than the acutely or chronically unwell, who are staring death, disability, shortened life expectancy or a diminished life full of pain, right in the face. A society that turns its back on tens of millions of its own people is malignant. A society that does so in order to yet further enrich the already hyper-rich, is despicable. The excuse of ‘Social Darwinism’ is glib, contemptible and suggests the psychopath’s indifference to the fate of others. One almost wishes the arrogant dismissal of the suffering of others might build up enough bad karma to bring the smugly unsympathetic a dose of that medicine, the catastrophic illness, the suddenly inadequate insurance and the financial catastrophe that so many Americans suffer.
    Of course the state of US public health puts to shame the incessant blatherings of US exceptionalism and supremacy. The US is exceptional only in its ruling elites’ exceptional cruelty and bloodthirstiness, their insatiable greed, their arrogant self-regard and their manifestation of every one of the psychopath’s dark spiritual flaws. When, just on its doorstep, the Cubans, a poor, blockaded, but inventive, resilient and humane society can achieve results as good as the best of Yankee medicine, but at a fraction of the cost, and for all its people, without throwing them into poverty and despair, the US dystopia is revealed as what it truly is, a pathocratic state, with a ruling elite who hate other people, one and other, and themselves.

  31. Don Hawkins said on July 27th, 2009 at 3:32am #

    the US dystopia is revealed as what it truly is, a pathocratic state, with a ruling elite who hate other people, one and other, and themselves. Well put simple and to the point. Still time with a new way of thinking.

  32. B99 said on July 27th, 2009 at 8:01am #

    It’s time the United States was broken up.