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Letters to the Editor

Fair debate

May 14, 2009

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To the editor:

A fair and balanced debate of all possible options for the resolution of our national health care issues is the least the American people deserve. There are many fully functioning examples of single-payer health care programs in the world, and we would do well to consider a system similar.

That said, the real issue here is the outright refusal of a Senate committee to hear the voices of activists and their views on the subject and their refusal to discuss a single-payer plan of their own volition. Please make sure that a fair and balanced debate is what the American people get, rather than a consideration of the best interests for special interests.

Nance is from Lawrence

Comments

Rex Russell 4 years, 11 months ago

I've never been too fond of government programs of a large scale, but Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security have been a reasonable success since their inception. If there were more pharmacutical price controls and negotiation/fixed rates for doctors (negotiated by doctors and constantly reviewed), we would go a long way to reducing costs. Problem is, between the lobbyists for the insurance industry and the pharmacutical industry, this concept will never happen. Our members of Congress do not have the testicular fortitude to stand up to them either. The other half of the equation, the political party hacks , will deem anything that is for the common good of all Americans, as Socialist.

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grammaddy 4 years, 11 months ago

Whatever!!! This is why the American public is confused, no one can agree on anything and everyone has their own "facts" to support his/her argument.

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lucky_guy 4 years, 11 months ago

Funny how spending money over the costs on a project for the public sector is called waste and fraud, and then when that happens in the private sector it is job-creating profit.

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jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

How any sane person can look at private sector corporations and say,......

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jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Liberty,

Many of the problem mortgages were issued by mortgage companies - where do they get the money?

Without the "junk" about bundling and securitizing mortgages, banks and mortgage companies would have had a vested interest in being sure the borrowers could pay the loans, and that the homes were worth the appraisals.

Even if they had access to easy money, they wouldn't have been so quick to lend it, since they might have suffered negative consequences.

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Kawatchi 4 years, 11 months ago

How any sane person can look at the government's track record and say that they are the best organization to be in charge of something like healthcare boggles my mind.

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Liberty_One 4 years, 11 months ago

jafs, you completely disregard what caused the problem in the first place: the issuing of the loans. You can't ignore the fact that lenders were giving money to people who, in a free market, would not qualify for a loan. Why did the lenders have so much money to lend? Where are they getting all this money? That's the real problem. Your entire answer turns upon the phrase "when the bank can make a loan." In a free market, the banks would not have been able to make these loans because the money would not have been there. All the junk about bundling mortgages and selling them as securities has nothing to do with actually causing the problem. That only spread the problem.

We do not have free market banking, not when the interest rate is controlled by the government and lending is based on credit from the government and not upon private savings. The money for the bad loans would not have been there, home prices would not have been driven upwards because the demand would not have been as high. The entire problem was caused by cheap and easy government money.

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jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Liberty,

I completely disagree.

The reason that so many operated in what would seem to be against their basic interests has to do with the bundling and securitizing of mortgages.

When a bank can make a loan, then turn around and bundle and sell the loan to others, they don't particularly care about the basic fundamentals, like whether the mortgagees can pay the loan, etc.

Then, when the bundles are securitized, rated highly by the rating agencies (incorrectly) who are paid by the issuers, the folks who buy them think they are a good investment (but they're not).

If the credit rating agencies were regulated by the government, and not paid by the issuers, it would be much less possible for the agencies to rate the securities incorrectly.

If the issuers couldn't make a profit so easily, they might not buy the bundles. If the banks couldn't bundle and sell the mortgages so easily, they might not make mortgages that were so basically flawed.

The fact that securities issuers are the ones that pay the credit rating agencies' fees is an obvious conflict of interest which should be prevented.

lt is abundantly clear that the private sector failed miserably here.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

'How is the government going to regulate itself by setting rules for the private sector?'

Good question. The answer is: They don't. I think you'll find that public insirers such as Medicaid are not bound by insurance regulations set by the states. (Which might also explain, at least in part, why their overhead is lower.)

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Liberty_One 4 years, 11 months ago

jafs, it has nothing to do with not enough regulation--the government is where these problems originate. How is the government going to regulate itself by setting rules for the private sector?

It's because the government controls interest rates and the supply of money. What do you think happens when interest rates are artificially low? Too much lending, too many mortgages for people who otherwise would not have gotten one. The lending mess is entirely a creation of the government's monetary policy.

Your opinion about lack of oversight causing the mess is wholly unfounded. Why would businesses buy worthless assets? Why would banks make loans to people who couldn't afford them on houses that weren't worth what they were paying for it? It isn't a lack of oversight, it's bad information--artificially low interest rates. Thanks Alan Greenspan, thanks George Bush--you got an artificial boom in the economy which helped Bush get reelected in 2004, but screwed us today. Regulation won't help prevent this from happening again. Only letting the free market set interest rates will do that.

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jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

jason,

It sounded as if you were claiming that the military is run efficiently - apparently that wasn't what you meant.

The financial meltdown was caused by a combination of greed and lack of oversight/regulation, imho.

When mortgages were bundled and then securitized and sold, they were rated highly even though they didn't deserve that rating.

The reason was that the issuers of the securities were the ones paying the rating companies (lack of adequate oversight/regulation).

Also, each entity involved was interested in short term gain without regard to consequences (greed), and in fact made money on the transactions.

Krugman allocates much of the blame to what he calls the world of "shadow banking", in which various entities act as banks without the regulations on banks.

And, I just heard on C-SPAN this morning that the mandated subprime loans were a very small part of the subprime mess - it appears that most of the companies involved in subprime lending were not, in fact, operating under the umbrella of the Community Reinvestment Act (I believe that's the right name).

Liberty, given the failure to oversee and regulate the entities involved in causing the meltdown, how can you be so blind as to think LESS regulation/oversight is what's called for?

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Pilgrim2 4 years, 11 months ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says…

Complete bologna. They are the two MOST regulated sectors of the economy.


You'll have to forgive Richard. He's never tried to become medically licensed nor securities licensed in his life. He has no idea. In fact, he'd probably have to find another line of work if the government decided lawn mowers needed a license.

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Liberty_One 4 years, 11 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"Finance and healthcare are all deregulated yet both receive huge numbers of our tax dollars for support."

Complete bologna. They are the two MOST regulated sectors of the economy.

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Finance and healthcare are all deregulated yet both receive huge numbers of our tax dollars for support. 60% of those insured are covered with tax dollars = $1.2 trillion aka the gravy train.

It's the loss of the $1.2 trillion gravy train that has the medical insurance groups and its' investors concerned. Our politicians have been playing along now for about 70 years. It's time to turn the choice over to tax paying citizens.

The insurance industry does not believe in allowing USA taxpayers to make the choice yet they consume $1.2 trillion of our tax dollars. I would be willing to be this group pays no taxes.

Demand choice of National Health Care Insurance(HR676) so as not to be forced into dealing with reckless spending,irresponsible,insensitive and incompetent insurance corporations.

Yes give taxpayers the choice of having their tax dollars spent on themselves for 24/7 health coverage. Let this be our choice.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

A family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

Health care costs and facts: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

If others want to support insurance companies fine let that be their choice.

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Liberty_One 4 years, 11 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says…

"But isn't it abundantly clear from our recent financial meltdown that an unregulated private sector leads to disaster?"

Haha! "Unregulated private sector"? Are you joking? The financial sector is one of the two most heavily regulated industries in our economy. The other: health care. How can you be so blind as to draw the conclusion that MORE regulations and intervention are what's called for?

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Jason Bailey 4 years, 11 months ago

Jafs: Your examples are dizzying to follow since they are not equal (private market fiasco does not equal government efficiency nor does military waste equal my overarching point, poorly made, that the govt's only job is to protect me and get out of my way)

A significant part of the financial meltdown was due to govt mandated subprime lending that started before Clinton. Those in power simply couldn't imagine an America where the poor were excluded from having a home...thus quotas were put in place in certain companies. The competition to those companies rolled out their own subprime programs in response and the cycle was self-propagating until the market started to collapse. Add to that toxic derivatives and that's the issue, not free-market capitalism. All you have to do is listen to NPR's Planet Money podcast to get this basic backgrounder.

The govt does nothing efficiently, including Military, but let me be clear that the Constitution is straightforward in that is really the Federal govt's only responsibility. That and keeping the skidway greased for me and others to make money in a fair and reasonable way. So, govt interventionism in healthcare clearly is unconstitutional at worse and a guarantee to ineffiency and waste at best.

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ibroke 4 years, 11 months ago

well i think first we have to buy california first then print so more money then we will talk ok?

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jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

jason,

Why would the military be an exception? I've read a number of stories about waste/inefficiency in the military.

With government programs, there's always the problem of bureaucracy.

With the private sector, there's always the problem of greed and corruption.

I guess we just have to sort of "pick our poison" and try to minimize the problems of either system.

But isn't it abundantly clear from our recent financial meltdown that an unregulated private sector leads to disaster?

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Michael Pollan: "Don't Buy Any Food You've Ever Seen Advertised" By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!. Posted May 15, 2009.

"The real food is not being advertised. And that's really all you need to know."

http://www.alternet.org/columnists/story/140029/michael_pollan%3A_%22don%27t_buy_any_food_you%27ve_ever_seen_advertised%22/

Whatever happened to broccoli,grapes,spinach,kiwi,swiss chard,kale and why aren't these foods more prevalent in school lunches for we are what we eat?

Has good health taken a back seat to high priced medical insurance?

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Jason Bailey 4 years, 11 months ago

supertrampofkansas wrote:

"Jason2007,

Perhaps you can elaborate on what your position is and what facts support your position. Under what scenario would the “kids' financial future be flushed down the drain”?"


Sure can. I'm a free-market capitalist who believes that anytime the government is involved, it leads to waste and inefficiency (the military is an exception). In 2007, Medicare wasted over $371 million dollars in overpayments to providers just in NY, CA, and FL! That from the RAC (link below). Imagine the overpayments to the other 47 states in total!

If the govt can't get Medicare right in half a century, why in the world would we think it could get a universal, single-payer system right? And don't think for a minute that the govt wouldn't demand complete control and oversight of this single-payer system. They can say all they want about "free-market based" blah, blah, blah but in the end, it's all about power and they will aggregate this power under a federal bureaucracy.

The flushing our kids' financial future down the drain comment refers to the ponzi scheme that is called Medicare. A similar approach will ultimately be needed for universal healthcare to be available to the masses. As Madoff proved, Ponzi schemes always end in collapse but I guess what's bad for Mr. Madoff is good for the federal government.

http://www.pedorthics.org/LatestNews/ArchivedNews/CMSProgramIdentifiesMedicareOverpayments/tabid/212/Default.aspx

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Andrew Stahmer 4 years, 11 months ago

OK, let's just say that's right. (It could be debated.)

obama very clearly and often promised change...seems like business as usual. Running up the deficit, pork, special interests..etc, etc.

Where is that "Change we can believe in!" Liberty_One?? Where?

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RedwoodCoast 4 years, 11 months ago

Man, for some reason, when I get to Tom's posts, my post becomes more about Tom's posts than they do the article. In this case, he actually said "this administration works for special interests on an unprecedented scale." Really, now. Seems like Obama's predecessor was dogged with plenty of reports about secret back-room no-bid contracts. Then you had his medicare drug plan. And I'm sure that folks who pay more attention to the business world than myself could show you the remainder of the iceberg.

Essentially, it seems to me that a top-down economic philosophy, by default, panders to special interests.

What's up pot, I'm kettle.

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Liberty_One 4 years, 11 months ago

Sure, let's have an open debate. But let's not kid ourselves by calling what our current system is a free market approach--it's anything but.

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Andrew Stahmer 4 years, 11 months ago

Can we just shut up and do this already??

Everyone on here knows that there is no more efficient and effective entity to run things than the United States government! Look at the outstanding example of the IRS. I don't know why Kennedy would have uttered something as stupid as "Ask not what your country can do for you......" Obviously the answer is that your country can do anything and everything better than you...or me! You need look no further than SRS. They can take MUCH better care of your kids than you can. (..and deep inside you know it!!)

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Pilgrim2 4 years, 11 months ago

Did Richard Heckler say something?

No?

OK, just checking.

"There are many fully functioning examples of single-payer health care programs in the world, and we would do well to consider a system similar."


Well, Ezekiel, according to one of the other health care "experts" here on the LJW board, there are actually only three single-payer systems; Medicare, Canada, and Australia. Everything else you refer to is some version of socialized, government-run health care. And in fact, that's ultimately what single-payer turns out to be, too, because when you control the financing, you control the industry. Putting the United States under a government-run single-payer system would put the government in control of, conservatively, one-seventh of the country's GDP. That's way, way, way too much control.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

jafs (Anonymous) says…

"Fact: The US spends more per capita on health care than other industrialized nations."

Fact: There are a multitdue of reasons for that which have nothing to do with who pays for it, and none of those costs would be reduced one iota with a nationalized healthcare system. Some of them as a matter of fact, would likely increase.

"Fact: Using the commonly accepted objective criteria, the quality of our health care system is lower."

Fact: There IS no commonly accepted objective criteria for comparing the quality of healthcare between systems. There are too many other factors involved in such indicators as mortality rates (for example) that have nothing to do with the cost of or access to healthcare.

"Fact: In my personal experiences with our health care system, it is clear that it could be substantially improved - I don't think we're getting the quality we should for what we're paying."

No argument there. However, believing that the same people that are responsible for the IRS and the Postal Service are going to 'fix' the problems is quite a leap of faith.

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notajayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Please make sure that a fair and balanced debate is what the American people get, rather than a consideration of the best interests for special interests.

Um, Ezekiel?

You ARE one of those special interests.

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jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

jason,

Fact: The US spends more per capita on health care than other industrialized nations.

Fact: Using the commonly accepted objective criteria, the quality of our health care system is lower.

Fact: In my personal experiences with our health care system, it is clear that it could be substantially improved - I don't think we're getting the quality we should for what we're paying.

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supertrampofkansas 4 years, 11 months ago

Jason2007,

Perhaps you can elaborate on what your position is and what facts support your position. Under what scenario would the "kids' financial future be flushed down the drain"?

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flamingdragon 4 years, 11 months ago

Kathleen Sebelius was hot sexy-leg woman govenor. then she sold us out. It is time for single payer health care. Time for the end of the privatized-owned health care rape machine industry to die. Just like the typewriter.

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Jason Bailey 4 years, 11 months ago

@Merrill: Sorry...there's nothing "Honorable" about Kathleen Sebelius (as your gushing, love letter for the Communist Manifesto refers to her).

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Jason Bailey 4 years, 11 months ago

Somehow I get the feeling that your interpretation of "Fair and Balanced Debate" is basically, "anyone who opposes nationalized healthcare please bend over and grab the ankles."

I have yet to meet a socialist (or progressive) who can truly debate the issues with fact. They use emotionalism to sway opinion which is a great tactic with a nation of drooling morons who are more concerned about the next American Idol winner than with the flushing of their kids' financial future down the drain.

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Tom Shewmon 4 years, 11 months ago

Ummmm, Ezekiel, they've been debating this for more than 15 years--since HillaryCare. And what you say is not a bad idea, but A. This administration works for special interests on an unprecedented scale (see stimulus bill), and B. This administration does listen to activist groups (moveon, dailykos, NBC, NYT).

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Chris Ogle 4 years, 11 months ago

Where is merrill today? This is his favorite topic... he writes books you know. (the rest of us just comment)

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Bowhunter99 4 years, 11 months ago

Merril says:

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http://www.blahblahblah.com

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

http://www.blahblah.org/BS

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

Make HR 676 available to all taxpayers and let them make the choice.

HR 676 National Health Insurance makes americans more employable, opens doors for small business ventures.

HR 676 National Health Insurance protects families and business at the same time. No more large chunks from the paycheck for health insurance that sometimes is not worth the paper it’s written on. Business will not be forced to shell out large amounts for employees. Yet all citizens will receive identical coverage. Why should health insurance be treated like some retail object on a shelf in the business district?

Why HR676 National Health Insurance? • We’ll all receive identical health insurance coverage • Provides extraordinary leverage against suppliers • Protects families and business alike from being gouged by the health insurance industry • Treatment for serious illness such as cancer will not be cut off because a patient has reached the point insurance companies will pay no more…happens everyday • 60% of health insurance today is paid with tax dollars ($1.2 Trillion) so why not 100% that covers all who need treatment. • Citizens will not be forced to lose all of their assets or file bankruptcy due to serious illness as does happen somewhere everyday as we speak • Eliminates health insurance dollars going into special interest campaign cookie jars • Eliminates health insurance dollars from financing golden parachutes • Veterans receive care immediately for whatever symptoms war has imposed on their physical or mental health. No more waiting on the Dept. of Defense • National Health Insurance eliminates over 1500 different policies thus eliminating tons of wasteful administrative costs. That money could be included towards 100% coverage. It is estimated todays administrative costs runs at 33%…that is a lot of dough.

HR 676 National Health Insurance protects families and business at the same time. No more large chunks from the paycheck for health insurance that sometimes is not worth the paper it’s written on. Business will not be forced to shell out large amounts for employees. Yet all citizens will receive identical coverage. Why should health insurance be treated like some retail object on a shelf in the business district?

Health care costs and facts: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

Myth busters: http://www.pnhp.org/single_payer_resources/mythbusters_by_the_canadian_health_services_research_foundation.php

Again let taxpaying consumers make the choice. Don't force anyone to stay with the incompetent insurance industry and don't force anyone into HR 676. LET US MAKE THE CHOICE

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Richard Heckler 4 years, 11 months ago

RALLY FOR HEALTHCARE KANSAS STATE CAPITOL BUILDING 10th and Jackson, Topeka SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2009 1:00 to 3:00 PM

Tens of millions Americans lack access to healthcare! Over 20,000 people die each year due to lack of health insurance! Private health insurance industry denies coverage and gleans profits! The time has come to reform our health care system! Support HR 676 and other Single Payer Legislation in Congress! Support President Obama’s Public Plan Option to cover everyone! Join your fellow citizens for an afternoon of demonstration! Send a message to the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius,
Chairwoman of the Department of Health and Human Services!

SPEAKERS Dr. Bill Roy Former U.S. Congressman, 2nd District
Dr. Joshua Freeman Chairman, KUMC Dept of Family Practice
Julie Pierce Healthcare reform advocate Dr. David Goering Medical Director, Health Care Access Clinic

SPONSORS: Kansas Health Care For All, Heartland Healthcare For All, Sunflower Community Action, Kansas Action Network, League of Women Voters, Kansas AFL-CIO, Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, Health Care Access Clinic,
Marian Clinic, Physicians for a National Health Program, and Healthcare-NOW!

FOR MORE INFORMATION: GO TO WWW.KHCFA.ORG Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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