Archive for Saturday, January 13, 2007

Health officials say universal coverage plan not pie in sky

January 13, 2007


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius raised some eyebrows when she proposed health insurance coverage for all Kansans during her State of the State address.

But health care officials on Friday said the goal should come as no surprise, and, in fact, state policymakers have been looking at the issue for months.

The Kansas Health Policy Authority, a creation of the Republican-controlled Legislature and Sebelius, a Democrat, was formed July 1, 2005, with the mission of coordinating an efficient, statewide health system.

One of its guiding principles states: "Every Kansan should have access to patient-centered health care and public health services ensuring the right care, at the right place, and the right price."

The Legislature directed the Health Policy Authority to study the Massachusetts plan for universal coverage and present a report to lawmakers next month.

"Other states have made great strides in health care reform," said Megan Ingmire, a spokeswoman for the authority. "There are lot of things we can learn from them, but we need to have a plan that works well for Kansas."

For Nikki King, executive director of Health Care Access, which is a Lawrence clinic that provides services for the uninsured, the state can't expand coverage soon enough.

"The time is here that health care is becoming more of a crisis," King said. "We're really at a tipping point in the health care system. Something radical needs to happen."

Approximately 300,000 Kansans, more than one in 10, have no health insurance.

After Sebelius' call for a universal coverage plan, some Republicans responded that she was proposing socialized medicine.

But King said a costly, inefficient system of universal health coverage already exists.

"Everybody does have health care. It's called the emergency room for those who don't have coverage, and that is the most expensive door to go through. Everyone pays for that," she said.

Sebelius also has been criticized for making the proposal, but providing no details, unlike California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who unveiled a detailed universal health care plan.

But Sebelius told the Legislature any progress on the issue will require input from all sides.

"That's why I challenge you to work with me, the Health Policy Authority and stakeholders to develop a plan - this year - to achieve universal coverage," she said.

Her proposed budget includes $4 million in state funds to guarantee coverage for uninsured children up to age 5, but that recommendation was stopped last year by Republican lawmakers.

For King, whose agency provided services to more than 1,350 people last year, any expansion of health care would be welcome.


KS 11 years, 5 months ago

This is the same old, same old. I can read anywhere about how inefficient and terrible our existing system is (for which I disagree) and how wonderful a new program could be (for which I also disagree), but I have never heard from anyone, from the Governor on down tell us as to how this would be paid for? If you love government waste now, you will love government healthcare. Don't sign on to a universal health care program just because you think it is free. It won't be. I can hear it now, just dial 1-800-FREEHEALTH. You will be asked to enter your 21,000 digit medical ID number. Press one for a headache, two for a backache, three for heart surgery, etc. Please hold, your call is important to us and the next available doctor will be with you in, let's see now, three years, 10 months, 14 days, etc. and by the way, your call may be recorded so we may pass on your private medical information to the same folks we sell your driver's license info to. Need I say more? Have you ever had to wait in an emergency room? Same thing, but you will do it on the phone. Oh and by the way, please re-enter your 21,000 digit number, along with the expiration date again. The number you entered is incorrect! Have a nice day. It's cold outside. :)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 5 months ago

"the Governor on down tell us as to how this would be paid for?"

We're already paying far more for healthcare than any other country in the world-- under a single-payer plan overall expenditures on healthcare would almost certainly go down-- way down. So paying for it really is not a problem. Paying for our current corrupt system is a very real problem.

Your fearmongering over potential delays in services has very little basis in reality. The very current present reality is that easily 1/3 of Americans are either not insured at all, or seriously underinsured, and a huge percentage of the 2/3 who have "adequate" insurance face the possibility of financial ruin if they encounter serious medical problems. If they happen to survive their illness, insurance providers will almost certainly cancel their coverage if they can.

The current system is seriously broken, and none of your mindless fearmongering will fix it.

ksknowall 11 years, 5 months ago

"with the mission of coordinating an efficient, statewide health system"

This is a contradiction in terms - efficent and statewide cannot work well together. (reality is a bitch)

Hey Bozo - please tell me what government system has ever worked well?

The answer is none. There is yet to be a government program that works for what was intended.

When are you going to learn all the government can do is screw it up worse. Health care is screwed up today thanks to too much government involvement now. (regs on the docs, regs on the nurses, regs on the drugs, regs on the insurance, regs, regs and more regs now are the problem - not the solution.

More Government is the worst thing we can do and universal health (like the taxachussetts plan) will cause our medical care quality to drop just like what has happened in Canada. The first poster on this thread is accurate in what will happen if we try to play this game.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 5 months ago

"Hey Bozo - please tell me what government system has ever worked well? The answer is none."

Sorry, but that is utterly simplistic, and utterly wrong. Sure, any large bureaucratic system is difficult to implement, but that's true whether it's run by the government or not.

The simple fact is that universal healthcare systems elsewhere in the world deliver better care for more people at a lower cost than the incredibly screwed-up and horribly expensive system we now have.

"universal health (like the taxachussetts plan) will cause our medical care quality to drop just like what has happened in Canada"

Didn't happen. More baseless propaganda trying to make up for the lack of any supportable evidence for your position.

BTW, there is nothing that says that improving our system means we have to adopt anyone else's system lock, stock and barrel. But pretending that our system isn't broke for strictly ideological reasons is just stupid.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 5 months ago

A national or state healthcare insurance program would produce economic growth across the nation or state. New industry would certainly be taking a look at Kansas.

There is plenty of fraud within the current system for which the Sen Bill Frist family took in billions before they were caught.Of course tax dollars would be used to fund it as it is now to some degree. Average cost now for family coverage is $11,000 - $12,000 with premium costs on the increase or co-pay increased covering fewer services.

The services most being discussed is the same as today with only change is who pays the bills. There are many many employed people who cannot afford health insurance yet who still need and use services. It stands to reason office calls etc etc will increase to cover the costs of those who cannot afford to pay thus increases somehow across the board.

Considering all employed, which is far greater than than the number of unemployed, will be paying into the fund should actually reduce the amount paid by everyone. Bottom line more are paying for the services rendered. Not only that it should reduce cost of prescriptions because of buying power.

Who are the most against it? Health insurance and pharmaceutical industry who will say anything including "socialized medicine" that which it is not because taxpayers/patients are footing the bill. The two industries mentioned above also throw big bucks into politcal campaigns at state and federal levels.

Kathleen Sebelius and Sandy Praeger likely know more about this than most other elected politicians. They both know that at least 30% of medical expense is due to forms generated by so many insurance companies aka paper work. Not to mention trying to keep up with who will pay for what. One medical card + identical forms across the state = reduced cost almost immediately.

A national or state healthcare insurance program would produce economic growth across the nation or state.

KS 11 years, 5 months ago

Like abortion, I don't want the Government tellling me what I can or can't have for heatlhcare and how I am going to live my life. Stay out of it. They screw it up now. BTW, will someone show me a healthcare plan of other countries that is sooooo great? Don't just tell me, show me. No, I am not from Missouri. NOBODY has said how this is going to be paid for. Will we all pay the same or will someone suggest that because someone has more, they should pay more? What if you are sick more? If you want government healthcare, go to Canada. Their drugs are cheaper, but only because the Canadian taxpayer helps pay for it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 5 months ago

"Don't just tell me, show me."

The information is readily available, since you obviously have an internet connection. Seek it out if you want it, but it'll be a pointless exercise if you can't let loose of your addiction to ideology long enough to objectively consider that information.

Patrick Wilbur 11 years, 5 months ago

The current system is a mess. An expansion of the government controlled system would likely be even worse. The future unfunded obligations of Medicare are now $68.4 trillion. Future generations are going to pay dearly for our fiscal orgy. Government has already screwed this up enough.

The best place to start is to offer regulatory relief to small business. Most of the uninsured/underinsured are employed. Unfortunately many work for businesses that are getting creamed by federal and state regs. Offering health insurance is not an option for these business owners. Sebelius deals in pronouncements - not hard core solutions. So far the KHPA has simply regurgitated the same stuff we have heard from politicians for past couple decades.

Michael Throop 11 years, 5 months ago

What has happened in "universal" health care is: captiation reduces payments to providers, so the providers decide 1. Do I take less money to serve the same number of people,2. Do I take fewer patients (which happens now with Medicare and Medicaid), 3. Do I leave the area or lease the profession(as has happened in Canada, where health care professionals have left in droves to work in the United States. The provence of Ontario has a bounty on ex pat nurses to try and lure them back-that was highlighted last year in the Toronto Star). Care will NOT improve, in fact, it will deteriorate, under single payer "universal" health care. I can only imagine that government officials that toy with this either don't see the problems inherent in a forced government health plan, or, due to the worship of the State, ignore the risks for the goal of ending privatization of as much of the economy as possible.

Jamesaust 11 years, 5 months ago

In general, I think Bozo gives a fairly accurate description of the problem. (Although I note the qualifier 'lower cost' on everything - U.S. healthcare is as good or better than all these other countries overall. My god, no one would want to be sitting around in a place like Britain with a non-life-threatening illness.)

I would also add that the cumulative costs already paid by government via Medicare, Medicaid, military benefits and other government employee benefits, means that "government" (broadly defined) ALREADY covers half of health care expenses in this country.

That said, perhaps Bozo has noticed that the existing social programs in this country face a looming fiscal crisis that by themselves make additional obligations NOT POSSIBLE. Unfortunately, each passing year of head in the sand politics make the fix more painful and delays any significant new programs like health care reform. (I didn't think all that much of W's proposed reforms but I also note the SILENCE on the subject from the Dems when they aren't spewing forth DENIAL.)

Bang the drum for social security and medicare reform first Boz ... and afterward we'll talk about new obligations.

Tom McCune 11 years, 5 months ago

I have lived in both England and Canada. The national health systems in those countries have problems, but our system (or patchwork of uncoordinated systems) has worse problems, in my opinion.

KS: you are paying for healthcare now, partly through co-pays, partly premiums, partly taxes (Medicare, Medicade, VA, other public health systems), and maybe partly through premiums paid by your employer that could be going into your paycheck. As others have posted, the total cost of all that is higher in the US than in other countries.

Our system works fairly well if you are affluent (like me), know how to work the system, and don't have any pre-existing condition problems. However, our system is a mess for the working poor. Also, if you ever lose your coverage and get sick you are in big trouble. You may never get good coverage ever again.

Also, in our system, you never know what you are really going to pay for anything. About a year ago, I had to go in for some testing and minor procedures which fortunately turned out to be no big deal. For nine months thereafter I got bills like the following from people I had never heard of for things I never bought: "XYZ Medical, Diagnosis 720.02, $1,250, pay in 14 days or we'll sue you." (And I have fairly good insurance.) This would have never happened in England or Canada.

In my career, I have worked at various time in private business and for the government. Through a strange combination of circumstances, I also served on the board of directors of a small insurance company. Having seen both worlds from the inside, I would much rather trust the government than an investor-owned insurance company. Do you know what your insurance company calls you when you are not around? They don't talk about "our customer KS" or "our insured KS". They call you "our risk KS." You are purely a financial equation to them. If it looks like your indemnity payments could exceed your premiums, they will drop you ASAP. My company did it all the time. (Although we were not in medical lines.) When my grandmother was dieing of lung cancer (adamant non-smoker), her big-name insurance company just abruptly cancelled her coverage with no notice. The State Insurance Commissioner at the time was no help and probably on the payroll of the insurance industry. That was a few yeare ago and maybe they couldn't legally do that today, but they certainly would if the laws changed just a little bit. And with the lobbying budgets the HMOs have, they get a lot of laws changed.

Does anyone have direct experience with the national health system of New Zealand? I am told it is pretty good, but have no direct experience.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

Bozo wrote: "Your fearmongering over potential delays in services has very little basis in reality. The very current present reality is that easily 1/3 of Americans are either not insured at all, or seriously underinsured, and a huge percentage of the 2/3 who have "adequate" insurance face the possibility of financial ruin if they encounter serious medical problems. If they happen to survive their illness, insurance providers will almost certainly cancel their coverage if they can.


Bozo is at it again with misinformation and, yes, considerable fearmongering of her own. She has a bad case of sorositis.

100,000,000 are without insurance? Where does Bozo get that bogus figure? Many people, including the wealthy, are without insurance by choice. It is a matter of priorities.

Most people with insurance face financial ruin if they have a serious illness? Perhaps, but that is more likely because of loss of income, or need for custodial care. Another bogus claim made to support the fashionable argument for universal health care.

"If they happen to survive their illness, insurance providers will almost certainly cancel their coverage if they can. " Ummmm, there are laws against that, Bozo.

Jamesaust, your suggestion that Bozo bang the drum for social security reform is on target.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

Today we learn that Cap Fed donated another $100,000 to transform our once-affordable community hospital into a luxury destination hospital/retreat. How does that help solve the problem of affordable healthcare?

Jamesaust 11 years, 5 months ago

Newell_Post, Why don't you email KU_Kiwi (who seems to follow the KU sports)?

My understanding of the health system in NZ is that it delivers results similarly bad as those in the U.S. with the advantage of costing less but the disadvantage of limiting drug development and 'cutting edge' medical advances.

Besides, NZ is a small, isolated country of no real usefulness in providing a model for the U.S. or for serious comparison.

Jamesaust 11 years, 5 months ago

Godot -

In some defense of Bozo:

A) those who could but choose not to purchase health insurance are at the center of any funding plan for broader insurance. Witness Cali, where buying insurance is mandatory (in their plan) and by itself probably pays for 20-25% of the plan's cost. Requiring such persons to stop gambling at PUBLIC cost will be part of any scheme. (As Bob Dole once put it regarding mandatory helmet laws: 'They can do anything they want up to the point that I, Mr. Taxpayer, has to pay to scrape their brains off my road.')

B) I believe the difference between Bozo's overhyped example and your underhyped is illnesses that are persistent and not subject to "cure." For a single, catastrophic illness, yes, typical health insurance is adequate. But many have open-ended, multiple year illness and yes, health insurers can and do refuse to renew coverage for these persons forcing them upon the taxpayers. (If nothing else, you, as a taxpayer, should be upset about that.)

However, C) politics also interferes in this process by mandating health insurance be broader than is defensible for medical or financial or moral reasons. Bozo would call this under-insurance, which is a misnomer since no insurance scheme, including public financing, could ever afford to pay for any and all health expenses without limit. How do we know this? Because limits to service, denial of service, and open rationing of service are all hallmarks of all socialized medicine schemes (yes, even the cradle-to-grave citizens of Sweden, Iceland, Canada, France, U.K., etc. CAN be taxed TOO MUCH) and are rarely made for medical, rather than political, reasons.

kg52 11 years, 5 months ago

I certainly don't have all the answers but after working in the health care field for 35+ years I can tell you that what we have now is not working. And all working people do not have health insurance and what they have for the most part stinks. If an average person is lucky enough to have insurance now I can tell you, if they happen to lose their job and have health issues, up until they acquire another job with decent insurance benefits, if they should be so lucky, they are in deep do-do. If they are unemployed and are eligible for COPA benefits that last only a maximum of 18 months the cost is prohibitive - a diabetic friend of mine (a single woman) paid $700.00 until her COPA benefits ran out (money that she didn't have and completed depleted her savings) and then the only job she was able to find afforded no health insurance. She has been uninsurable since with the only coverage available costing over $1,000 a month with a $7,500 deductible - completely out of the question. Now she is facing no savings and no retirement and health problems. What is the answer for her? Her pride prohibits her from not working and going on welfare and if there is another option for a 55+ year old wonderful lady who has worked hard all her life, puts almost everyone before herself, and is one of the most kind and caring people on this earth, my best friend for neary 50 years, please tell me what that is. She also cared for her elderly parents until they died and at the same time held down a job, saving them from being in a nursing home and a drain on the system. Just one example. I can come up with many others. What is the answer??

Tom McCune 11 years, 5 months ago

kg52: thank you for a better example than anyone else could have offered. I am sorry for your friend and her condition. I used to agree with KS and others that socialized medicine was anathema to a free society. But after seeing several different systems and examples like your friend, I now think that some IMPROVED VERSION of a British-type NHS (National Health System) is the only answer. Others herein have described some of the shortcomings of that system and their objections are all true and valid. But NHS avoids the problem of having lives destroyed by very treatable conditions like diabetes.

My personal experience in England was that the quality of care is equally bad as that in the US. However, the waiting time for minor matters was actually shorter than in the US. (At least for me.) Fortunately, I never had any major medical problems while there. I understand from friends that it was a hassle if you ever had to deal with NHS for same. But our system isn't a hassle and you don't have to wait? Ours is a huge hassle and you always have to wait.

Jamesaust has a good point in that lots of major medical advances have come from the US, because the potential profits from new drugs and inventions are so huge here. Those profits and the attendant incentives for investment in research would be reduced by a NHS.

We need to find some way to have a SIMPLE, RESPONSIVE system that provides VERY basic coverage for everybody and allows more fortunate people to buy optional "upgrades" for more choices, nicer facilities, etc. Unfortunately, everything I see being proposed these days just dumps a major burden onto employers and creates bureaucratic nightmares. The NHS systems are bureaucratic, but nothing compared to the recent Medicare drug benefit debacle. That is truly a cluster that could only have been devised by a bunch of DC lobbyists for the enrichment of their clients and without regard for the best interests of elderly people.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

Sorry, Jamesaust, I disagree with you on the following

"For a single, catastrophic illness, yes, typical health insurance is adequate. But many have open-ended, multiple year illness and yes, health insurers can and do refuse to renew coverage for these persons forcing them upon the taxpayers"

Health insurers cannot, I repeat, cannot cancel policies because a person has claims. The insurer cannot even raise the rates for that person, alone; the insurer can raise the rates for everyone in the same rate class as that person. The insurer can choose to stop doing business in the state where the person who has high claims resides. In that case, a person with claims could lose coverage, but so would everyone else who had insurance with that company.

The only other option an insurer has to cancel coverage is if the insured does not pay the required premium - and even then, there is a 30 day grace period.

I agree with Newell_Post that we need to have a simple system that provides basic coverage for everybody; however, we also need to have a medical providers who are willing to provide basic services for everybody at an affordable cost.

Insurance is expensive because health care services are expensive. If all hospitals did not feel the need to provide all health care options, and if hospitals did not try to compete, but rather filled a need for their communities, if providers did not feel that they have the right to be wealthy simply because they are who they are, if it did not cost so much to educate health care providers, AND, if health insurance were not provided by employers as a benefit, but rather, each person purchased his or her own policy, we would have this problem solved.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

kg52 has a compelling story, but reveals that he/she is simply a sorosite.

If kg52 were a sincere poster, he/she would know that there is no such thing as COPA with regard to the continuation of health benefits.

kg52 11 years, 5 months ago

I beg to differer with you Godot, in fact my husband and I are on COPA right now - he has a new employer and their benefits don't kick in for a year, therefore we have contination of health insurance benefits through his previous employer which in fact IS CALLED COPA. We pay the employer's portion as well as our own (over $500.00 per month) for the contuination of the same coverage we had when he was employed with the previous eimployer (the law says they have to guarantee that) which we have done since May 2006 and will continue until the new employer kicks in with their insurance in June 2007. I am not sure where you got your information but you are wrong. And yes, I am a sincere poster and I am not sure what that makes you other than wrong.

kg52 11 years, 5 months ago

And one more thing, what the heck is a Sarosite - it is not in my Webster's dictionary, unless I just have an old one!

budwhysir 11 years, 5 months ago

Pie in the sky, tear in my eye. The only help we will get on increased medical costs, is an extension and added on interest rates for borrowing money for unforseen accidents.

I hate to be the one tell let the cat out of the bag but there is realy no such thing as health benefits. Benefits are something that help us. Costs hurt us. So if health care costs it hurts. Not a benefit I realy am thrilled about.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 5 months ago

Godot is convinced that everyone who disagrees with him must be under the direct control of George Soros, hence, sorosites.

Pretty stupid idea, yes, but consider the source.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

COBRA - look it up.

sorosite: a person paid by, or some other organization dedicated to furthering the politics of billionaire convicted criminal, George Soros, to disseminate disinformation necessary to promote Soros' political agenda; or, someone stupid enough to believe the Soros propoganda to the point that he/she will take it upon himself or herself to spread the Soros BS, without pay.

I hereby take credit for coining the phrase that is so much more targeted, and accurate, than "liberal."

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

Actually, kg52, COBRA law specifies that an employee can only be charged the full employer cost, plus 1.5%. If you are paying the full employer cost for the employee, (not family) plus $500, per month, your husband's employer was providing one heck of a benefit. Or, perhaps you are not aware that your employer had been contributing a large portion of the cost of family care, as well, and the "extra $500" was simply the family portion that you did not realize your employer was paying as part of your husband's wage.

Employer provided health benefits are a major contributor to the breakdown in the health care system in the US. Thank you, Democrats!

budwhysir 11 years, 5 months ago

COBRA: A large a fearsome snake, causing a vinum type bite and puncture wounds. Capable of paralyzing a full grown human. Sneaky, cleaver, and deadly

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

and created by a congress and senate controlled by Democrats.

kg52 11 years, 5 months ago

My understanding is that we are paying what the insurance cost the employer for my husband's portion plus what we were paying for me to be covered. We are actually paying about $200.00 more per month that we were when he was employed by that company. I just reread my previous message and I said COPA instead of COBRA, sorry! Now I know why that bugged you so much Godot - there is a reason for my mistake but I won't go into it here. I should have proofread better. And I have never heard of George Soros so I guess my next move is to try to find out who he is. However, every word of my first posting was the truth. And this is just the tip of the ice berg as far as the lack of adequate health care for the normal everyday working person. Changes need to happen and they need to happen NOW! What do you think the answer is Godot? You sound like a wise person so let's hear it.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

kg52: ROFLMAO!!! You qualify for a bonus for that one!!!

Tom McCune 11 years, 5 months ago

Consolidated OmniBus Reconciliation Act, not that it matters much. I must say that some of you guys sure seem to have a lot of faith and confidence in the magnanimity of investor-owned insurance companies in the absence of strict regulation. I sure don't. I've seen from the inside how they actually operate.

Tom McCune 11 years, 5 months ago

Sorry. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.

You know all the sleazy lawyer jokes? Lawyers are saints compared to insurance executives. You can actually get a lawyer to work for you if you just pay him enough money. Insurance executives work only for themselves. It doesn't matter how many premiums you paid or what promises they made.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

Good, Newell, for re-reading your googles. Takes time, and patience.

-----or experience.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

_or just time on earth, paying attention.

kg52 11 years, 5 months ago

OK Godot - you did it again (I am learning so much tonight - knowledge is a good thing, right? ) So what is ROFLMAO? I guess I just don't speak the language. And I am sure you are not insulting me again, right? But seriously, do you have any suggestions on how to help solve the problems of the un-insured or under-insured.
Oh and it is venom - I just re-read your E-mail defining COBRA (not an insult, just fact).

Tom McCune 11 years, 5 months ago

I didn't Google it. I own a business and I have to deal with it for former employees.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

NP equals new person. do not fret, you, too, will learn, with time.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

NP, I made my suggestions in this thread.

Godot 11 years, 5 months ago

sorosites are so confused by facts, let us all pity their plight.

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