Letters to the Editor

Letter: Political malpractice

November 9, 2013


To the editor:

It is interesting to note that states like Kentucky, which set up their own Obamacare health care insurance exchanges, are generally successful. Those states, like Kansas under Gov Brownback, which turned down over $30 million to set up an exchange, are still struggling. 

Brownback in my opinion was rooting for the health plan to fail. I call that political malpractice, and our citizens are poorer for it.


Sam Crow 5 months ago

For Dick Sengpiehl:

The information you posted earlier on this thread is incorrect.

First, “administrative costs of Medicare are much less than privately run insurance companies”. This is a liberal myth resulting from partial information. Of course Medicare is administered by privately run insurance companies. The costs of the federal bureaucracy of HHS and CMS are not calculated in the costs of medicare, as those costs are impossible to separate from all else. Therefore, the resulting “costs” are strictly the costs of the carriers.

Additionally, the erroneous lower “costs” you refer to are not due to lack of profit motive by medicare. Another liberal myth. Once again, Medicare is administered by many companies across the country. Many of those carriers are for profit companies. For example, one Medicare carrier, CIGNA, is a stock company traded on the NYSE. Wisconsin Physician Services is the carrier in this area, and is not for profit.

Further, regarding insurance companies not affiliated with Medicare: Of the 154 health plans in the United States with at least 100,000 enrollees, 97(or 63%) are nonprofit, 41 are for-profit (27%), and 16 (10%) are government i.e. Tri Care. For example, BCBS in Topeka and Kansas City, who dominate the local market are not for profit entities. BCBS Topeka is actually the 39th largest insurer in the country.

Second, the VA does not take bids on drugs. Rather, federal law requires that they get the best price that is given to any health entity in the country. Pharmaceutical companies must report that pricing on a quarterly basis. For budget purposes, the VA formulary begins a new patient on the least expensive drug available in the class, and escalates up if it is not effective. Therefore the products available to the VA patients are very limited.

Third, regarding WHO outcomes, your statement is another liberal myth. Each country defines its own standard of statistical information. For example, the United States defines infant mortality differently than many European countries. Therefore, the WHO comparison is invalid.

Take it from someone with the specific education and 25 years experience in the business.


Steve King 5 months ago

John, the last thing I would ever consider you as is an idiot. And I would poke anybody in the eye with a shapr stick that says different.

Both sides deserve blame. And us as voters ( and non-voters) as well.


John Graham 5 months ago

By the way the 18-24 year old age group of eligible voters had a turnout of less than 45%, substantially less than middle age and elderly. As people get older they tend to get more conservative particularly about financial issues. So raises in taxes to keep the entitlement engine running does not sit well with the aging population. Remember the elderly do not see Medicare and social security as entitlement programs. If you don't believe me go as an elderly person if they are getting a gov't subsidy. You better be swift on your feet because they are likely to try to hit you with their cane because many of them would be insulted to think they are getting any sort of subsidy(charity). They see all the other programs the democrats favor as entitlement programs.


Cait McKnelly 5 months ago

For proof that the ACA can work one need look no further than the state where it originated, Massachusetts, under then Governor Mitt Romney.
The ACA WAS the compromise. The left wanted single payer. If it's having a rocky start because of the obstructionist efforts of Tea Partiers like Sam Brownback and the attempts of insurance companies to game the system (just in the six weeks since rollout, several have already been charged with fraud, including, unbelievably, a subsidiary of Blue Cross), it's not going to do anything but make the case for single payer.
It may be hard to see from the ivory tower of the Tea Party that is Kansas but their day is waning. The GOP has become the party of old white men and more and more of their demographic are dying off every year. See that 16 year old kid next to you in the grocery store line, texting at the checkout? In two years that kid will be eligible to vote. That kid will also be dealing with student loans and wanting birth control. Who do YOU think she will vote for?


Steve King 5 months ago

Uh well, it's Lawrence John. Had you written in the Wichita paper the responses would have been 180 degrees in the opposite direction. I agree there are some good ideas from the right, but the bad ones are much too dangerous. More so than ever before.

I too enjoy stirring things up. Getting people motivated one way or the other is important. Way too much apathy. Half the people know nothing but the opposing talking points. And the other half don't have a clue. They don't pay attention. I loved the LJW street poll where 50% of the interviewees admitted they didn't know anything about what was going on politically in the county. You have to give Jimmy Kimmel (sp?) credit for showing the bias (and ignorance) from the man on the street.

My insurance experience is also 180 degrees from yours. I stand to reduce my group costs 2/3's when I convert.

And I was thinking; my policy is canceled every year. Every year. I have the same company insuring me year after year. The prior year policy is always canceled. You must renew your policy once a year. And always under different terms. Mostly higher premiums, occasionally a higher deductible, and in a blue moon a bit better coverage. So it's my choice if I want to keep my Insurance.

So are these thousands of policy holders that are getting cancellation notices also getting options to renew, albeit at a higher premium, a higher deductible, and perhaps a bit better coverage? An Insurance Company is going to drop 10,000 potential customers without trying to hook them on another drug? If you do, you've never worked around the insurance industry.

And so they too have a choice to keep their insurance? Right?


Steve King 5 months ago

Well thank you John for a candid positive response. I'm glad we can agree to disagree amicably. And I do not discount that there are thousands skimming the system. And most do not pay Federal Income Taxes. And some don't make enough to pay taxes. The working poor. Walmart workers on food stamps? (They have a training/education program to tell their workers how to apply). Is that crazy? And those are the people on the non paying side of the equation. They are working, trying to make it. I'll bet everyone of them would love to make enough that they had to pay in.

But I also think if we have enough resources to spend a billion dollars a month in the middle east we can take car of our elderly and poor here at home.

And I appreciate your view you don't have the perfect answer, there might be one, or not. But if we don't try something we get nothing. Our history shows we've made a lot of mistakes. But it also shows we have the persevere to get it right. I hope it works. Something has to be better than what we have now.

Because personally I've heard nothing from anyone else outside of this is bad it must go. What is the alternative plan? Well I guess it is conspiracy week. Who killed Kennedy? And the ACA has been a scam from the beginning. It's also been torpedoed from the beginning.

There has to be standards. And only on a national level can that be implemented. The comment the States would be all over the page is correct. Right now you can get arrested and go to prison for what's legal in the next state over.

But times change. What we can do now was science fiction 30 years ago. And that costs more. And in my experience I've not found the problem with the Doctors and Nurses but with the Administration and Insurance Companies.

I hope it works. I need it to work. We need it to work.

And believe me when I say I am just as tired of the ultra left as I am of the ultra right. I've never seen so many kooks in class in my life.


Scott Burkhart 5 months ago

I don't doubt that all of you that favor the ACA truly care about their fellow citizens. Like all of us, you don't want anyone to go without access to proper, affordable healthcare. The canard that conservatives don't want affordable healthcare for all is a talking point from left that has been repeated to demonize those that would oppose total government control of the healthcare sector of our economy. You ask, "What is your alternative to ACA if you care so much?" Alternatives have been offered. Two huge private sector alternatives that have been offered are tort reform and opening up competition across state lines. I'm not going to get into the weeds over why you haven't heard of it or why it gets little if any support from the Democrat Caucus, but these have been offered. Instead we now have a law that by design will throw millions of people off of healthcare policies that they liked. The argument is that they will receive something better, is more comprehensive, and will be cheaper. Better by who's standards? Comprehensive because it covers birth control and maternity care for a 50 year old man? Cheaper? Not yet. The people that are telling us this are the same people that told us the bill needed to be passed so we could see what was in it. It is the same person that told us we misunderstood what he said when he said we could keep what we have. It is the same people that had 3 years to have a functioning website to roll out the ACA. Seriously, does it not give anyone pause, who knows how to design websites, that the Federal government couldn't come up with a website that would handle the necessary hits when it came online. President Obama went to Boston and gave a speech about how great their healthcare insurance is and reiterated it was Romney's plan. Well, I ask you, genius, why didn't you hire Romney if he's so darned smart? The reason is the website was never supposed to work properly and the ACA is designed to move us toward a total Government run, single payer healthcare system like western Europe. People were supposed to get so upset with it and then those in power would step in and say, "Well, it just isn't going to work this way and things are so messed up now, we're just going to have to have the government do it all." Then healthcare insurers are gone the way of the dinosaur and if your company is big enough and has the grease for the machine, you'll get the healthcare contracts.


John Graham 5 months, 1 week ago

The average senior receiving Medicare and social security is receiving more in benefits than they paid in with payroll deductions including adding interest to the deductions to account for what the total would be if invested. The numbers have been run multiple times. The difference between benefits paid and payroll deductions made is getting smaller over the years. Decades ago people received 2, 3 times more in benefits than they paid in. Currently the difference is often less than 2 times the benefits for the amount paid though the difference is still on average well over $100,000 more in benefits than what was paid in plus interest. So yes if you are receiving Medicare and social security you are receiving subsidies above what you paid in.

A bipartisan Congressional committee has reported that in 2007 prior to economic down turn that 40% of households paid no federal income taxes. In 2009 they reported the number grew to 51% that did not pay federal income tax. It is estimated in 2013 the number will be 43%. Yes those households paid other types of taxes but they did not pay federal income tax according to congress. If you wish to "debunk" those stats talk to congress.

I don't have the perfect answer to healthcare because there doesn't seem to be one. What I was pointing out in the original statement I made I feel is still correct as no one has offered proof to the contrary. The gov't may be well meaning when they start an entitlement program. The programs most likely help a portion of the society. Unfortunately the programs typically wind up mismanaged, bloated and over budget. I believe ACA is likely to wind up the same way. Can I prove it will, no. Just like you can't prove it won't.


Steve King 5 months, 1 week ago

Ok, I'll be your huckleberry.

Same old tired talking points huh? They don't pay what? Insurance premiums? You're paying subsidies? For what? Their insurance? Then you should want everyone to have insurance and support the efforts to get them insured.

I paid into Social Security. I paid into Medicare. And if I take a benefit, you think you're subsidizing me? I got news for you. You're wrong.

And enough of the 47% line. It's been debunked over and over and over. Come on we're not that dumb. What percent are retired? They paid their Federal Taxes while you were still in diapers and they paid for the most of the roads you're driving on. I just hear the same old ultra right wing double speak. And what percentage pay sales tax? 100%? And what percentage pay property taxes? Or Excise Taxes, Use Taxes, ad nauseam.

And again I ask you. What's your solution? Getting on line and blogging all the negative, spouting all the right "talking points" and never being part of the solution is being a roadblock.

Is the current healthcare system working?


So instead of burning down the house how about you tell us what we should do to save it?


Steve King 5 months, 1 week ago

Not to name names, but the problem as I see it is are too many people like some of you here who offer nothing constructive but critique everything. You've all been very active and precise in placing the blame on a particular person or party but I have not yet read one positive solution offered. And yes, Health Insurance is a big part of Health Care. "You ain't got it, you don't get it."

We need a solution. Drop the complaining and become part of the solution not the roadblock.


John Graham 5 months, 1 week ago

You prove my point. First Medicare is an over budget program only to grow as the baby boomers reach retirement age. Recent estimates indicate the Medicare trust fund will be depleted by 2024. The number of people on Medicare is expected to grow from the current 50M to 80M as the boomers reach retirement age. Second they run a drug program that as you point out is inefficient by the very nature of it. There are serious problems to the ongoing survival of Medicare that congress is well aware of but refuses to address. If the gov't can't or won't address problems in a program of 50M people how will they handle ACA that involves significantly more people than Medicare? Once the gov't starts an entitlement program they are required to manage it, which they are failing to do with Medicare.


Dick Sengpiehl 5 months, 1 week ago

For those who comment about the Federal government not being able to do anything right, I will mention these two facts. The first concerns Medicare. Are you aware that the administrative costs of Medicare are much less than privately run insurance companies? Has to do with for profit motive which includes salaries and advertising, staffing. MUCH less. Check it out if interested. That is why those who have insurance under the AFA are refunded premiums when the insuring company exceeds 20% admin costs, which is still very high.

Secondly, under prescription D in medicare, the GOP plan passed by Congress does not allow the government to bid for drugs like the VA does, resulting in overcharges for prescriptions. I have had Medicare for some time now and am very happy with the coverage. Being a Marine veteran, I get my prescriptions through the VA, which is able to buy the drugs for much less money than prescription D plans.

Obviously, something needed to be done concerning the uninsured in this country and at least the President has made the effort. Of course, its not perfect but if both sides of the aisle will improve it that's great. We have been ranked 38th by the World Health Organization among industrialized countries in health care outcomes. We can and must do better.


Grégoire Guillaume 5 months, 1 week ago

If both parties would work together they could of forged a much better health care plan than the ACA. However, when you have one party that refuses to be constructive, and you have the special interest that own the congress what do you expect to come out of Washington? It's embarrassing to see the childish immature antics from our nations' capital. That being said, to refuse to expand Medicaid makes no sense. Without proper health care the 10% that make up 80% of the cost keep going back to the emergency rooms and the bill is passed on to the taxpayers. If these high-risk patients were on a routine health program that was managed it would cost us less in the long run and oh yes, we would be helping are fellow Kansans'.


Keith Richards 5 months, 1 week ago

Obama has apologized for the bad technology. Obama has also admitted he misled the people about being able to keep their current plans. Why can't Obama supporters admit the mistakes and move on with fixing them instead of trying to place blame elsewhere? It seems Obama has admitted fault and moved on. Maybe his supporters should follow suit.


John Graham 5 months, 1 week ago

Come on now. Keep in mind all the gov't entitlement programs that are efficient, well managed, within budget and carrying out the original mission they promised. Oh, that's my mistake, there aren't any. Given time ACA will wind up like all other gov't run entitlement programs, a bloated over budget program beyond repair. Obama and the Democrats have already bowed to special interests with all the exemptions that have been granted and the "delayed" start for aspects of ACA. Obama and the democrats can't get the roll out right, why would anyone believe the typically inept gov't will actually improve healthcare. I admit the current system is far from perfect, but with the track record the gov't has in running any entitlement program that has existed, I have absolute faith healthcare will not be improved by Obamacare.

Brownback may not like Obamacare, but he doesn't have to "root" for its failure, he just has to give it time to fail like all the preceding entitlement programs.


Brock Masters 5 months, 1 week ago

Interesting to consider it is a federal program but it is dependent on the states to make it work. I think Brownback was right in turning down the funds.

Some may disagree with me on that point and they'd be just as right in their opinion as I am in mine. However, what is not opinion is that Obama lied to us when he said we can keep our insurance plan and our doctors.


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