Letters to the Editor

Reform peril

March 5, 2010


To the editor:

We need health care reform, not a health care revolution.

Supporters of the proposed health care legislation believe they will have good coverage and costs will be affordable over time. False! My experience with government-run Medicare is “he who giveth also taketh away.” Just two examples: First, each year Medicare reduces reimbursements to the medical profession; second, the current legislation takes $500 billion from “Medicare Advantage” that primarily covers retirees with limited incomes.

This means Medicare recipients must buy supplemental insurance to cover gaps in Medicare coverage. Medicare Advantage customers are in danger of losing coverage or some benefits. Additionally, reductions in Medicare reimbursements increase premiums for supplemental insurance. Medicare Part B premiums increase annually. Government involvement in health care reduces coverage and increases costs to us.

President Obama admitted at the health care summit his plan increases premiums and fails to reduce costs, missing his critical goal. President Obama is proposing a panel to control health care costs. Nothing good comes from price controls. History teaches us product shortages occur in an industry under price controls in addition to diverting investment away from that industry, stifling innovation.

If the proposed health care legislation is so wonderful, ask yourself why Democrats could not pass health care with majorities in Congress and why it takes bribes of congressional members to secure votes. Washington knows this legislation is not about helping you and me. It is about expanding dependence on Washington!

At their peril Washington uses parliamentary tricks to pass health care legislation and imperils us in the process.


Brent Garner 8 years ago

It is not about reform. It is about control. Control of you and everything about you.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

First off IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All will be designed quite differently. Medicare will be the template that is true. Why do that? Because it prevents reinventing the wheel thus saving millions upon millions upon millions of big government tax dollars = a fiscal conservative approach.

In the past 8 years during the Bush admin some problems have developed in medicare but that was because of the medical insurance giants and elected officials = corruption. This is one big reason why the big government tax dollar supported medical insurance giants/industry need to go away.

Bringing all people in America under one umbrella known as IMPROVED Medicare for All will save big bucks for taxpayers because it would reduce health insurance costs to school districts, local,state and federal governments by a minimum of 30%-50%. Isn't reducing the cost of government an admirable goal? WE need to reduce the cost of government do we not? Private industry has just increased rates substantially.

Since when has the insurance industry reduced the cost of government? As of 2009 taxpayers were shelling out $1.2 trillion big government tax dollars to cover the cost of government employees. Of course some of this money is going to medical insurance golden parachutes like a $73 million retirement bonus to CIGNA CEO. Then some of those $1.2 trillion big government tax dollars are going to shareholders who no doubt are writing letters to the editor, are Teabaggers, are insurance employees or all four.

It has been estimated that IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL will create 2.6 million new jobs for the USA and reduce substantially the cost of medical insurance = the bargain of the century.

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

Dear Leader's having to give away federal judge gigs to get Democrats to vote for this mess.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

In reality people in America are paying the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world obviously more. Yes more even in Kansas. However the the people with Cadillac plans,elected officials for instance, are paying more for the same coverage.

The greater majority of americans without cadillac plans are also paying more for decreased coverage and/or paying higher deductibles for less coverage. This group is known as UNDER INSURED = candidates for bankruptcy. Why have medical insurance? Most people never come close to paying out what they pay for medical insurance so why pay for insurance that will NOT protect you from bankruptcy? This type of coverage is likely NOT saving money for anyone who is UNDERINSURED.

No doubt so many would be money ahead using the cost of premiums for paying out of pocket the same day service is rendered. Or open up a savings account of some type for medical needs,make a little money and save money at he same time.

Local clinics should offer 40% reduction in fees for those who pay up the day service is rendered( this is about what insurance giants pay). Far less paperwork and time for the clinic.

Paying More Yet Getting Less How much is the sick U.S. health care system costing you? http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2008/0508harrison.html

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

What do medical insurance giants do with your money?

Provide health care? Absolutely NOT

Make billions in profit using YOUR money like all other Wall Street ventures? Absolutely!!!

Do medical insurance giant love those $1.2 trillion big government socialism tax dollars so they can have even more investing and making billions upon billions? I would think so?

Do medical insurance giants ever make their clients pay for charges that the insurance giants should have paid for? Do they ever!!! Where in the world is the refund? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/24/AR2009062401636.html

The question becomes are medical insurance giants a good investment for consumers? Not for the huge majority in america. NO!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

"We need health care reform, not a health care revolution."

Not that we'll get either, from either R's or D's.

"If the proposed health care legislation is so wonderful, ask yourself why Democrats could not pass health care with majorities in Congress and why it takes bribes of congressional members to secure votes."

It certainly couldn't have anything to do with the $hundreds of millions in bribes that Big Health doles out, to Republicans and Democrats, could it?

Flap Doodle 8 years ago

We only needed a few more copy/pasted posts about HB 676 & everything would have been fine. Somebody let the team down.

BrianR 8 years ago

We need a health care delivery system that can be tweaked until it is able to do what we need it to do. We are not going to come up with the perfect system, we're not even going to be close to the perfect system, but we have to do something. The best free-market example I can think of is the automobile. If we stood around arguing about what the perfect conveyance is, we'd still be waiting for the first car. The time is past for doing nothing.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago


If you’ve been watching the Senate Finance Committee’s markup sessions, maybe you’ve noticed a woman sitting behind Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Her name is Liz Fowler.

Fowler used to work for WellPoint, the largest health insurer in the country. She was its vice president of public policy. Baucus’ office failed to mention this in the press release announcing her appointment as senior counsel in February 2008, even though it went on at length about her expertise in “health care policy.”

Now she’s working for the very committee with the most power to give her old company and the entire industry exactly what they want – higher profits – and no competition from alternative non-profit coverage that could lower costs and premiums.

A veteran of the revolving door, Fowler had a previous stint working for Senator Baucus – before her time at WellPoint. But wait, there’s more. The person who was Baucus top health advisor before he brought back Liz Fowler? Her name is Michelle Easton. And why did she leave the staff of the committee? To go to work – surprise – at a firm representing the same company for which Liz Fowler worked – WellPoint. As a lobbyist.

You can’t tell the players without a scorecard in the old Washington shell game. Lobbyist out, lobbyist in. It’s why they always win. They’ve been plowing this ground for years, but with the broad legislative agenda of the Obama White House – health care, energy, financial reform, the Employee Free Choice Act and more – the soil has never been so fertile.

The health care industry alone has six lobbyists for every member of Congress and more than 500 of them are former Congressional staff members, according to the Public Accountability Initiative’s LittleSis database.

Just to be certain Congress sticks with the program, the industry has been showering megabucks all over Capitol Hill. From the beginning, they wanted to make sure that whatever bill comes out of the Finance Committee puts for-profit insurance companies first -- by forcing the uninsured to buy medical policies from them. Money not only talks, it writes the prescriptions.

In just the last few months, the health care industry has spent $380 million on lobbying, advertising and campaign contributions. And -- don’t bother holding onto your socks -- a million and a half of it went to Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, the man who said he saw “a lot to like” in the two public option amendments proposed by Senators Rockefeller and Schumer, but voted no anyway.

The people in favor of a public alternative can’t scrape up the millions of dollars Baucus has received from the health sector during his political career. In fact, over the last two decades, the current members of the entire finance committee have collected nearly $50 million from the health sector, a long-term investment that’s now paying off like a busted slot machine.

Ryan Neuhofel 8 years ago

Unfortunately, the public - including these message boards - are generally focused on assigning bogeymen with evil motives. The politicians have fed that fire on behalf of their special interest groups. As a physician (or patient), I don't want to be a pawn in a high-stakes game for power and profit, nor am I going to wait for some magical solutions from Washington. If history is any indicator, the Beltway blow-hards will probably only make things worse. We must come up with tangible, local solutions where doctors and patients can 'opt out' of the current managed-care system and form a independent alternative to the status quo - hopefully a true patient-centered medical home that will lower costs, improve access and improve quality.

PosseComitatus 8 years ago

The Military Health System (MHS) is a global medical network within the Department of Defense that provides cutting-edge health care to all U.S. military personnel worldwide. Equipped with 59 hospitals, 364 health clinics and a $50 billion budget, the MHS delivers the highest quality health care in the world to a beneficiary population of 9.6 million service members, veterans, and family members. Yet the MHS is more than a large network of health care providers; it is an elegant synergy of Army, Navy, and Air Force capabilities that serve, protect and treat the service members who defend our country.

Being that the US Military is not what I would consider a for profit agency, this is best real world model of raw health care delivery cost in the US. This equates to $434 per person per month.

Now if you can get all health care providers to sign 4 year contracts, provide them with public housing, food and eliminate all competition you might be able to pull this off on the public side. This is the best that can be done for us by the Federal Government and it would require a retooling of our constitution to make it possible.

If you add an insurance company to that mix it adds to the cost, it doesn't make it cheaper.

This needs to be a creature that is built from the ground up. Build a health care COOP around one hospital first. Get what it costs to run LMH for a year to include outside specialists, take 70% of that dollar amount and divide it by the number of prospective members to set an annual membership fee and you have a local solution. Any COOP member gets whatever they need. Non-members pay cash or equivalent. This allows for the current system to stay running during the transition.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

The debate is about insurance... NOT about health care.

The military is the only example of US government health care.

PosseComitatus 8 years ago

Merrill, That is exactly my point here. We are labeling this a health care crisis, but discussing insurance. Since when has your insurance agent delivered health care to you.

It's a smoke and mirrors power play for the insurance industry the same as TARP was for Goldman Sachs. The boom economy is dead and we are in a transition to a centralized, micromanaged economy. This is reason behind all of the chaos associated with all of our current events. Crisis after crisis with the net result of the consolidation of power in the hands of a few.

The only option that we have against these big campaign contributors is to keep this at a local level where the voice of the masses can still sway the politicians.

I would support just about any solution that stays within the scope of the State.

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

Since when have the insurance giants provided health care? NEVER! Why pay them anything?

In reality it is the doctors,nurses,clinics and hospitals providing health care.

The medical insurance giants discovered a way to guaranteed income by way of human necessity/misfortune then offered this plan up to shareholders now all love the profits from the pain of others.

YES IMPROVED Medicare for All would eliminate the insurance giants that which are screwing consumers in a big way. YES we can live without these insurance profiteers because our health care should never be decided by insurance companies nor looked upon like a can of beans on the shelf.

Face it the supporters of the insurance industry are profiteers at some level.

David Reynolds 8 years ago

A history lesson being as our schools & colleges and progressives do not teach it to all of us. Back in the 60's President Lyndon Johnson did not want for re-election with a budget defecit. So he pulled all medicare premiums paid into the general fund. Thus creating the budget crises of today.

You see originally all Medicare & Social Security premiums paid by individuals and companies were originally deposited into secure investments. The idea being premiums earning interest would protect future benefits,

Be VERY AFRAID of the current health care legislation it will economically ruin our country.

Congress & the Obama administration are actually lying when they say the current healthcare legistlation is defecit neutral. Look at Obamacare over 14 years and you find $2 trillion in defecits. Progressives always want to talk about "sustainability"...what is sustainable about Obamacare???

notajayhawk 8 years ago

merrill (anonymous) says…

"The debate is about insurance... NOT about health care."

And that's the problem, isn't it?

Take away the 3.4% profit margin of private insurers, and you still have $8,000 worth of medical bills to pay for, per person, per year. Until something is done about that, changing how we pay for it is pointless. If we do something about that, then how we pay for it becomes irrelevant.

yourworstnightmare 8 years ago

Smells like little barrypampers made a poopy in his nappy. Needs a change.

Ooooo.... Who's a stinky boy? Who's my little guy? Who's my little barrypampers?

yourworstnightmare 8 years ago

This letter writer is so R-word.

He is such a republican. So republican.

jafs 8 years ago


Half the nation doesn't pay a dime in federal income tax?

Any sources for that outrageous claim?

The poverty level is quite low - if half the nation falls below that, we've got a bigger problem than the taxes!

Ryan Neuhofel 8 years ago

jafs and beobachter,

Actually, TS's claim is fairly accurate. According to the CBO, the effective federal income tax rate for the following quintiles (1/5ths for the mathmatically declined) are

1st quintile (1-20%tile) is NEGATIVE 6.5% 2nd quintile (21-40%tile) is NEGATIVE 1.0% 3rd quintile (41-60%tile) is 3.0%


I believe the break-even point for federal income tax is somewhere near the 50%tile of income, but couldn't find a solid source because the IRS/CBO mostly reports statistics by quintiles.

But, I'm sure there is somebody named Beck and/or a druggie who does work at the CBO, so I would be very skeptical of those numbers.

notajayhawk 8 years ago

edjayhawk (anonymous) says…

"Shewmon must be in the top 10% of the people paying 70% of the taxes. He doesn't want to pay his fair share of taxes even though he makes more money then the general public."

And to you, it's "fair" that 10% pay 70% of the taxes? And that you want even more from them?

"The last time I checked the top 10% owned 90% of wealth in this country."

And other than your monumental sense of entitlement, what gives you any claim to their wealth? (By the way, you do know there's a difference between an asset such as 'wealth' and revenues such as 'income', didn't you?)

jafs (anonymous) says…

"Half the nation doesn't pay a dime in federal income tax?"

Actually, as neuhofel pointed out, the lower two quintiles have a negative effective tax rate, and it's not because they're below the poverty level; they get their taxes reduced by various deductions and credits, and get back more in refundable credits like the EIC and Additional Child Tax Credit than they pay in income taxes. I suggest the IRS's website if you want the numbers, but I share your belief that this is "outrageous".

Richard Heckler 8 years ago

How would IMPROVED Medicare Insurance For All help?

IMPROVED Medicare For All Insurance establishes an American-styled national health insurance program. The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care program that uses the already existing Medicare program by expanding and improving it to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories.

The goal of the legislation is to ensure that all Americans, guaranteed by law, will have access to the highest quality and cost effective health care services regardless of ones employment, income, or health care status. * With over 45-75 million uninsured Americans, and another 50 million who are under insured, it is time to change our inefficient and costly fragmented health care system. * Physicians For A National Health Program reports that under a Medicare For All plan, we could save over $286 billion dollars a year in total health care costs. * We would move away from our present system where annual family premiums have increased upwards to $9,068 this year. * Under IMPROVED Medicare For All Insurance, a family of three making $40,000 per year would spend approximately $1600 per year for health care coverage. * Medicare for All would allow the United States to reduce its almost $2 trillion health care expenditure per year while covering all of the uninsured and everybody else for more than they are getting under their current health care plans. * In 2005, without reform, the average employer who offers coverage will contribute $2,600 to health care per employee (for much skimpier benefits).

Under IMPROVED Medicare For All Insurance, the average costs to employers for an employee making $30,000 per year will be reduced to $1,155 per year; less than $100 per month.

This program will cover all medically-necessary services, including primary care, inpatient care, outpatient care, emergency care, prescription drugs, durable medical equipment, long term care, mental health services, dentistry, eye care, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment. Patients have their choice of physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics, and practices. Medicare will be improved and everybody will get it.

Private health insurers shall be prohibited under this act from selling coverage that duplicates thebenefits of the Medicare for All program.

Administration: The United States Congress will establish annual funding outlays for the Medicare for All program through an annual entitlement, to be administered by the Medicare program. A U. S. National Health Insurance Advisory Board will be established, comprised primarily of health care professionals and representatives of citizen health advocacy groups.

notajayhawk 8 years ago

"With over 45-75 million uninsured Americans"

Oh, are we up to 45-75 million now, merrill? How strange, when the Democrats are claiming they'll cover everyone by extending coverage to another 30 million. Perhaps you could give us the source of that marvelous statistic you cite?

"Private health insurers shall be prohibited under this act from selling coverage that duplicates thebenefits of the Medicare for All program."

Because that worked SO well in Canada. So well, in fact, that the Canadian populace rose up and, with the help of their Supreme Court, forced the government to change that position, since people were dying waiting for government-sponsored care.

Great plan, merrill - let's copy the things that have proven to NOT work.

Ryan Neuhofel 8 years ago

nota, Actually, Canada took it one step further and banned direct purchasing of health care - not just private "insurance" - for any medical service the national system 'covered'. So in essense it was illegal for doctors to accept payment from people outside their governement system. Predictably, there were thousands of "black market doctors" who operated in semi-secrecy for many years until their recent 2005 supreme court ruling on the right to private health care and private health plans.

beatrice 8 years ago

"If the proposed health care legislation is so wonderful, ask yourself why Democrats could not pass health care with majorities in Congress..."

Because a majority isn't what is needed, but a super majority. They need 60 of 100 votes, and believe it or not, Democrats haven't walked lock-step behind the President, and they certainly have walked lock-step regarding health care reform in the way the Republicans have. Since they don't have the 60 votes is why it has passed yet, but they do have the majority of legislators approving the legislation. However, the Republicans will stop the process of just a majority.

Seriously, are people this clueless as to what is going on and the stonewalling tactics being played out by the Republicans? The Republicans can't stand the very thought of just a simple majority vote working in Congress ... oh no. Otherwise, this legislation would have been approved months ago and there would have been no need for the repugnant back room dealings that have taken place.

Isn't it ironic that a majority of votes puts people into political offices who then turn around and oppose the same principles of majority voting in Congress. Sad.

notajayhawk 8 years ago

edjayhawk (anonymous) says…

"Damn right its fair. The more money you make the more taxes you pay. Or is that too logical for you?"

"Logical" is someone making $10,000 paying $1,000, somone making $100,000 paying $10,000, someone making $1,000,000 paying $100,000. Anything beyond that is just taking money from someone else just because they have more than you, and it reflects nothing more than class jealousy and entitlement.

And BTW, if you don't want someone's "unsolicited" responses to your comments, might I suggest you ask someone to read the dictionary for you and find out what a public message board is, eddie?

jafs 8 years ago

It depends on how you think about it, nota.

A flat rate seems fair in some ways, but unfair in others. The percentage represents much more of a burden on low-middle income earners than high ones.

For example, your comment includes someone making $10,000 and paying $1,000 in taxes. I'm pretty sure that will be felt much more acutely than the $100,000 that the millionaire pays.

It's a lot easier to live on $900,000 than $9,000.

David Reynolds 8 years ago

There is no guaranteed right to healthcare in the US Constitution.

The argument is about wether the US government takes over our healthcare in violation of our constitutional rights.

How about Obama work on creating jobs so citizens can afford healthcare versus another entitlement we can not afford.

How about education and developing job skills so people can afford healthcare versus creating a broader dependency on government.

ilikestuff 8 years ago

Anyone thinking the government is rescuing us from evil corporate profiteering by passage of healthcare legislation hasn’t paid attention to the details or the motivation behind it. This legislation is “necessary” due to changing demographics. Industry & government are responding accordingly so that both may maintain a profitable partnership if not an even more profitable arrangement than previously.

The fed is most responsible for the increased cost of healthcare. All pricing from pharmaceuticals to doctor visits to procedures & length of hospital stays is relevant to a simple calculation, a % of what the fed will allow via Medicaid. Pharma, doctors, hospitals, all have been instrumental in writing this legislation as all will do nicely under a new paradigm where 30 million new patients are available to be subject to their wares.

Insurance companies, long the target of the President's vindictiveness &, perhaps, justified in some ways have an average annual profit of ~ 4%. Removing it covers about 2 days of his healthcare reform. Insurance is an easy target b/c, they are tasked w/paying for the growing demands of healthcare & insurance gets their money from we, the consumer/sucker. They’re an easy target b/c they’re usually our point of contact w/the whole greedy affair but they’re hardly the whole problem.

The cost of doing this brisk new business will be distributed amongst the entire population via steep new taxation, most likely a substantial sales tax so that, presumably, we’ll be little more the wiser. The end result will be yet more wealth stolen from the masses, the proletariat, placed in the hands of the wealthiest of the wealthy. If reformation were truly the goal, all could be covered more cheaply & easily than this… But then that was never the goal anyway.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.