Friday, April 04, 2008

Feel Good Health Care

Paul Krugman, one of the few honest analysts remaining on the left, writes today about the candidates' stances on health care:

Yet the McCain health plan — actually a set of bullet points on the campaign’s Web site — is entirely based on blind faith that competition among private insurers will solve all problems.

As I’ve mentioned in past columns, the Veterans Health Administration is one of the few clear American success stories in the struggle to contain health care costs. Since it was reformed during the Clinton years, the V.A. has used the fact that it’s an integrated system — a system that takes long-term responsibility for its clients’ health — to deliver an impressive combination of high-quality care and low costs. It has also taken the lead in the use of information technology, which has both saved money and reduced medical errors.

Sure enough, Mr. McCain wants to privatize and, in effect, dismantle the V.A. Naturally, this destructive agenda comes wrapped in the flag: “America’s veterans have fought for our freedom,” says the McCain Web site. “We should give them freedom to choose to carry their V.A. dollars to a provider that gives them the timely care at high quality and in the best location.”

That’s a recipe for having healthy veterans drop out of the system, undermining its integrated nature and draining away resources.

Mr. McCain, then, is offering a completely wrongheaded approach to health care. But the way the campaign for the Democratic nomination has unfolded raises questions about how effective his eventual opponent will be in making that point.

Indeed, while Mrs. Edwards focused her criticism on Mr. McCain, she also made it clear that she prefers Hillary Clinton’s approach — “Sen. Clinton’s plan is a great plan” — to Barack Obama’s. The Clinton plan closely resembles the plan for universal coverage that John Edwards laid out more than a year ago. By contrast, Mr. Obama offers a watered-down plan that falls short of universality, and it would have higher costs per person covered.

Worse yet, Mr. Obama attacked his Democratic rivals’ health plans using conservative talking points about choice and the evil of having the government tell you what to do. That’s going to make it hard — if he is the nominee — to refute Mr. McCain when he makes similar arguments on behalf of such things as privatizing veterans’ care.

Voodoo Health Economics

The two key points here are that the current VA health system, which is both efficient and effective, came out of Bill Clinton's administration, and that Hillary Clinton's proposals for universal coverage is the best, most detailed one of any remaining candidate. We can call this the "Be Good" health care approach because it is focused on getting everyone cared for. Hillary actually wants you, personally, to stay healthy.

In contrast, both McCain and Obama offer a "Feel Good" health care approach, because they really don't give a shit about you. They want their constituents to feel good about some bullshit they call plans that we can only hope won't be enacted. McCain wants to feel good that he has kept the free market going and Obama wants to wave his hands in the direction of the idea of maybe possibly someday getting to the point where his "experts" can sit down and discuss the potential for something that could turn out to be health care for people who want coverage, can afford it, and are willing to pay for it. Which doesn't sound a fuck of a lot different than McCain's holy grail of free competition to me.

I walked around with a low grade infection in my lungs for four years, struggling to get through each flu season, playing a waiting game with the insurance companies so that they would treat my pre-existing condition. They would pay kinda sorta for stop-gap measures to treat the symptoms - like sinking a shunt in my chest and infusing me with bags of liquid anti-biotics to stop a blood infection - but would not agree to the surgery that would remove the damaged portion of lung. I have permanent damage as the constant infections and bouts of bronchitis left much of my right lung scarred. It's like having untreatable asthma. I wheeze and choke and cough, but there's nothing to treat, it's all just torn up air passages.

Good health insurance would have gotten me a faster diagnosis and helped put together a treatment plan that included treatment of symptoms before they became life threatening, lung surgery, and rehab.

My parents right now both have chronic health issues that require treatment, with my mother in the worst shape. I have a sibling who needs mental health care counseling and drug therapy to manage depression. My husband's family has similar stories.

One of the reason we older, less "hip" folks aren't impressed with The Precious is because of the aches in our hips, the deteriorating condition of our once youthful forms, and the frustration of dealing with an insurance system whose only desire seems to be to insure that our family's care is too little and comes too late. These are things that affect us materially every day.

We trust Hillary, who cares for her elderly mother and has supported her husband through major heart surgery. She is right there in the middle of all this with us. She has fought these battles before and returns, undaunted, to make it happen for us. She knows what she's talking about, has staked out significant ground, and is determined to add health insurance to the New Deal foundation.

I already live in Obama's world of health care for the lucky to be insured, and I don't feel good about it at all. I want a system where quality insurance is a matter of law, not luck.



Shainzona said...

Typical Obama!

"Obama wants to wave his hands in the direction of the idea of maybe possibly someday getting to the point where his "experts" can sit down and discuss the potential for something that could turn out to be health care for people who want coverage, can afford it, and are willing to pay for it."

There's a new report out that one of his key Iraq advisors has said we will have 60,000-80,000 troops in Iraq now through 2010...quite the contrast to BO's main claim to fame...out of Iraq on day one with everyone gone in 16 months.

This guy is unbelievable. And the fact that anyone actually believes him is, well, also unbelievable.

Obama is a front man to people who will pull the strings behind the scenes (sound familiar?). He knows nothing or very little about important issues that we face and it shows in his attempt to hoodwink and bamboozle the voters.

And the man behind Obama on health care is the same guy who killed Clintons plan in the 90's.

Hey, BO...we are known by the company we keep!

gendergappers said...

Typical indeed! Many of BO's plans are near carbon copies of those already put forth by HRC, but not health care - he is way off base on that. PA and the other states should hear this 24/7 because health matters.

BTW can anyone tell me why, when BO rakes in at least 2X as much cash as HRC, the MSM lays it to his popularity? Surely someone besides me knows that we are Hillary contributers - MOSTLY women [lower paid], working class men and women and us older retired voters who barely get by but still squeeze out something every month for Hillary.

By contrast BO is MOSTLY supported by males [higher paid], young, rich, old money misogynist and suck-up fembots.

Unknown said...

I'm always amazed at the collective amnesia of our society that enables the right wing to manipulate the masses through the MSM currently under the guise of for lack of a better term OBAMEDIA. If we as voters only make a decision based on which candidate has the abilities needed to enact the changes required to overhaul our government so that economic and healthcare are balanced for all instead of the priveledged few the choice is clear and that choice is The New Democrat Clinton. Why is that? Because she is a New Democrat. Because the New Democrats suceeded economically during the 90's With the Clinton/Gore administrations. The times have caught up with the idea of Universal Healthcare and one of the chief lobbying opponents to this the AMA is now for Universal Healthcare as is most of the American Public.Obama's plan is a non-plan as it requires no federal mandate. and caters to the special interests. Real progress actully takes real courage and innovative leadership. Bill Clinton reformed Welfare not by eliminating it but by creating opportunities in job training for those that could and should work. The progressive platform started by the New Democrats was interrupted in 2000 with the regressive Bush/Cheney regime. None of Obama's platform is detailed and strong enough to legislate reforms that were begun by the New Democrats. Obama is a cypher pandering to his base and to the current Democratic leadership more concerned with retaining their seats then sustaining real long lasting changes. Any Progressive in the tradition of FDR knows that the New Democrats are the ideological evolution to the New Deal and the Great Society. Reform in order to be lasting must respond to the times and the government must act responsibly. This is why we need a mandate in healthcare. Pure and simple.
I remember well the emergence of the New Democrats and how the left bemoaned the end of Liberalism. What in fact hapened is that our country experienced more peace time economic prosperitynd broad social reform then since the time of FDR. The party focused on the long road. Progressives actually made progress when they redefined and broadened what progress is and Obama and his base benefitted from it. It's particlarly discouraging to watch much of the current party leadership work with the Obama campaign to trash the real accomplishments of the New Democrats. Why has Al Gore not endorsed Obama? Because he is not a New Democrat. If Obama becomes the nominee, Al Gore and other New Democrats will probably be good servants to the party, but because even alot of young democrats and independents don't understand or know the history of the prty they keep chanting about HRC " She's not Bill... Why vote for her? " HRC is a new democrat plain and simple as was Al Gore and most of those in the Clinton/Gore administration. A vote for Clinton is a vote to continue the reform started by the New Democrats, a focus on broadening the platform and a rational and pragmatic response to extremism. I encourage voters to research FDR, and the New Democrats and see if they come to the same conclusions that I have. Either we stay stuck in the radicalism of identity politics or we pragmatically redirect and wisely use liberalism to fight the larger battles of reform. This is the third way of the New Democrats. This is what the GOP could not philosophically argue against. This is the natural evolution of the progressive movement. This is what worked and with the refinement of strategies is what HRC offers. The only difference is that she is even more capable than she was before and has the toughness ala FDR to accomplish it. This is what Krugman knows. If we think about it weren't we all better off when the New Democrats started the reformation ? Even the GOP made money, but then again they always do no matter who's in charge.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Serious question for yall:

I've seen the videos demonstrating that Obama was strongly in favor of universal health care when he was running for his current Senate seat. What happened? Seriously, what was it that so radically changed him around on this issue?

Unknown said...

He has been carefully groomed and packaged to broaden his appeal. By the way, I haven't been able to go to a doctor in since1999. I expect to die in some completely stupid way because I cannot afford health insurance and still eat and pay rent. The last time I went to a dentist it was because he was the friend of a friend and bartered with me for art. He was a kind soul. I've been to the dept. of health and human services and was at least able to get food stamps. My daughter was covered by her father but since she has turned 18 and he doesn't have to cover her because of the divorce orders, my only hope is student coverage for her should she attend college. Obama's plan won't cover me. I'm not whining, I work hard but there is discrimination in govt. services and it is not always directed at non-whites. The working poor is an ever growing class that the libeal elite would rather ignore. The working poor are not distinguished by education or race. Poverty makes no distinction.

Shainzona said...

God bless you and your family workingclass.

And God bless this country with Hillary Clinton as our next POTUS.


(PS: What "kind" of art do you do? Do you have a website or someplace for us to see it?)

Unknown said...

Thanks Shainzona it's always nice to hear encouragement. For a living I am decorative artist to the rich helping them dress up their corporate homes to impress each other. I love working for them because it's their silly values that keep me employed, I also like to play up my working class roots which especially baffles them because of my Ivy league MFA. I am a conundrum they cannot solve. Highly educated, not a crack head and yet poor, hmmm what gives ? My real and true art is largely political with a wry sense of the riduculous.
This can currently be seen at deviant art .com and or my space .com under the name cblackartist. Commentary is surely welcome as in graduate school I was thoroughly schooled in properly recieving and using to my benefit criticism of all sorts. My daughter who I have to say puts me to shame in my own ambitions and can do advanced math, is also an artist. She is a film maker and playwrite and recently had a short at the AFI as part of a new student outreach program. I have high hopes and am relieved that this little democrat will use her art like the great film makers who are her ideological heroes. She just completed her first one act comedy called Politically Correct which was about the freedom of speech. Obam's elite would consider someone like me a failure if viewed by conventional standards. I look at my daughter and know that this is a truer measure of success, rearing a compassionate and smart voter, and responsible citizen. She will never drink anyone's Koolaid.

gendergappers said...

Cutepeachpanda and anyone else interested. I wrote the "I take back my vote" site [for BO] and got a response from Ming pasted below - my e-mail follows Ming's response.
"twanda, thanks,
we re launch the site. as obama hackers destoryed my software in the server. we have to move to different secure server.

comments have to wait to be posted now.

any suggestions? or if you found english errors please let me know.
please send the url to anyone you know.

twanda wrote:

twanda wrote:

Ming: re your site -

At first glance, it's a good idea but one criticism I read bares repeating:

"There are some grammatical errors and they need to do a better job of moderating the comments. There are already bogus and inappropriate comments on there that need to be taken down. I hope the person running it does a good job of taking care of these minor issues. If not, I hope someone else starts a better site where people can go and post their decision to no longer support Obama. I know there must be quite a few of those people out there after the Wright controversy."

Would you respond because people want to send the URL for this site around the Web? Thanks.

Jet said...

I'm a physician who worked both in the private industry and at the V.A., and I think that vets enrolled in the system overall now receive far better care than most Americans. I was working for the V.A. when they started implementing Clinton's reforms, and I hope that one day most Americans will enjoy the same high quality of health care under Hillary.

Common Sense Gram said...

I think we all have an insurance company/health care disaster story. Mine is posted over at my blog, the short story is - becuase of a $500 yearly preventative care limit by our ins. Co I have not had a PAP in 2 years, no physical, nothing.( I have already had a bout with severe dysplasia (sp?) caused by the human pappiloma virus.) My husband did not go for a physical either. Our $500 this past year went for my daughter to get the HPV vaccine, meningitis vaccine, and her physical for college.
I had to fight the ins company to get them to pay for the HPV shots. I told them I would blow it up in every media outlet I could find that they pay for recreational drugs for men (Viagra) so the men can spread around the virus that causes HPV and refuse to pay for the vaccine that could save untold numbers of women from cancer.

God we need Hillary!

Anonymous said...

gendergappers: Maybe Ming should ask a regular poster on or Taylor Marsh to help him with the site. English isn't his first language so it would be better to get a native to help him set this up.