seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

health care

Future of Health Care ... Maybe

As long as we have gutless elected officials and a general population that doesn't mind having the worst health care system in the developed world (unless you happen to have an income greater than $1 million/year), we probably should not expect a rational solution that will ensure we all have access to at least the basic care available to anyone in Cuba.

I have finally paid off the medical debt I incurred despite what is supposed a "pretty good" insurance plan, showing what that is worth in the U.S.

But there is some hope from a private provider in the southwest, as detailed in this article from the Atlantic:

CareMore, through its unique approach to caring for the elderly, is routinely achieving patient outcomes that other providers can only dream about: a hospitalization rate 24 percent below average; hospital stays 38 percent shorter; an amputation rate among diabetics 60 percent lower than average. Perhaps most remarkable of all, these improved outcomes have come without increased total cost. Though they may seem expensive, CareMore’s “upstream” interventions—the wireless scales, the free rides to medical appointments, etc.—save money in the long run by preventing vastly more costly “downstream” outcomes such as hospitalizations and surgeries. As a result, CareMore’s overall member costs are actually 18 percent below the industry average.

Good stuff, and a pretty short article for this mag - give it a go.

Science Done Poorly

Those of us who regularly defend science and get pissed at those who don't understand science should beware the pitfalls of _bad_ science. As in, when big pharma is perverting science in the holier name of profits. Mother Jones has an article that hits close to home -- the University of Minnesota's dark side.

Update: I encourage readers to also see my medical "science." post.

Is Health Insurance Itself Socialism? Perhaps.

The economics of insurance are poorly understood by most people -- especially politicians the media folks. Although, some politicians almost certainly understand it well, but play on the misunderstandings of others for political gain. Jonathan Chait has an insightful piece in a recent TNR article that looks at the differences between how Republicans have approached health care and how Democrats have.

Though I come down squarely on the philosophical approach of the Dems -- one of fairness and equal opportunity -- I like that Chait explains pretty fairly how Republicans approach it -- they prefer not to take from the winners to compensate the "losers."

Health insurance, if you think about it, is a redistribution scheme. It transfers money from the winners (people who don’t need much medical care) to the losers (people who do). It differs from other redistribution schemes because, unlike programs that redistribute from rich to poor, the winners and losers can’t be sure in advance which category they’ll be in. That’s why people enter into it voluntarily--today I might be healthy, tomorrow I may contract some horrible disease.

If you want to have a better idea of why Republicans are freaking out at an almost entirely private sector solution to a problem that would be better solved by greater public sector involvement (says me), read this article.

Maddow Explains Health Care System

Rachel Maddow has a really powerful video - starting at about the half way point. I think the entire video fun, but a little long and not everyone may be as entertained by the US House Penalty Box and Robert's Rules of Withdrawing Insults.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Republicans Have No Credibility on Health Care

Jacob Weisberg's recent piece on asked, "Are Republicans Serious About Fixing Health Care?" The answer, unsurprisingly, is "no." What is more important about the article is that it reminds us who created the massive deficits and debt that the Republican cannot stop talking about (and blaming Dems for it, of course).

Jacob discusses the last time the Republicans tinkered with health care - changing the prescription-drug coverage under Medicare when Republicans controlled the Executive and Legislative branches. Republicans used so many low-down dirty tricks in getting that legislation through that they have absolutely no credibility when it comes to accusing the Dems of abusing their power currently.

Remember that they were also greatly cutting taxes on the rich at this point - so not only were the Republicans reducing revenue to the government, they were greatly increasing its expenditures while also still not providing quality health care reform! Weisberg sums it up nicely:

Thanks to something called the "doughnut hole," drug coverage disappears when out-of-pocket costs reach $2,400, returning only when they hit $3,850. Simply stated, the bill cost a fortune, wasn't paid for, is complicated as hell, and doesn't do all that much—though it does include coverage for end-of life-counseling, or what Grassley now calls "pulling the plug on grandma."

Read the rest of the article for more helpful context on just how much damage the Republican health care reform has done to the federal fiscal future.

In my lifetime, the vast majority of federal debt comes from Republican Administrations whereas Democratic Administrations are more responsible and tend to legislate within their means. As my friend James wrote awhile back, the Republicans are like arsonists that bitch about the fire department wasting water.

Left unmentioned, but worth bringing up is that Republicans have always hated Medicare and would prefer to let old people fend for themselves in the market to a functioning government program that has greatly reduced poverty amongst the elderly as well as reducing the load on people my age who might otherwise be saddled with the massively greater debt if my parents became ill after retiring (I hope they get to retire!)

Health Care Disconnects

Tried to attend a town hall forum in Saint Paul today with my Rep, Betty McCollum at Macalester's chapel. It holds 400 people. I was about 15 people back in one of the three lines for residents when they ran out of tickets. Stuck around to listen to it for a bit anyone (on loudspeaker). Ran into Sarah Humpage, a friend from Mac and HHH, so it was extra worth going.

Some fun observations:

  • Ironic to see wildly obese man booing health care reform. Seriously short sighted...
  • Small business owner dude goes on and on about how there is too much government and we need less government... oh and there should be health care portability, so when you leave your job, you can take health care with you. Ironically, this would require.... government regulation! Anyone for a LESS GOVERNMENT - MORE REGULATION cheer?
  • Conservatives want to achieve universal health care with tax breaks for poor people. Poor people can't USE tax breaks because they don't have enough income!!! Perhaps we should solve the problem of quadriplegic mobility by buying them standard transmission cars.
  • People railing against the public option idea because the government probably wouldn't cover 'x' ... it's an OPTION! Don't freaking use it if you don't think it will cover your shit. Look up "option" in the dictionary.

Health Care and Reagan's Recession Tax Hike

History from the Daily Beast:

Conservatives delude themselves that the Bush tax cuts worked and that the best medicine for America’s economic woes is more tax cuts; at a minimum, any tax increase would be economic poison. They forget that Ronald Reagan worked hard to pass one of the largest tax increases in American history in September 1982, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, even though the nation was still in a recession that didn’t end until November of that year. Indeed, one could easily argue that the enactment of that legislation was a critical prerequisite to recovery because it led to a decline in interest rates. The same could be said of Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, which many conservatives predicted would cause a recession but led to one of the biggest economic booms in history.

Medicare - Socialist Threat?

I Remember Why G W Bush Was Elected in 2000

F the Dems. It has taken me almost 8 months now to remember why I couldn't care less whether Al Gore beat Bush back in 2000. Last year, it was more difficult to remember owing to the havoc the fiscally irresponsible Republicans wreaked on the economy and the stupid war they drug us into.

But now I remember - it was because the Democrats are incapable of getting things done. I was getting frustrated, but this week knocked me over the edge when it started to become clear that the Dems are going to fuck up health care reform (not because the Republicans put the wants of the rich above the desires of the rest of us, but because the Dems cannot keep their own members in line).

Then I saw that some so-called Blue-Dog Dems are spreading some shit about how they aren't sure whether they will vote on Sotomayor. Are you serious? This is such incredible bullshit. Sotomayor is about as centrist as you can get - Obama had no hope of actually pushing a progressive onto the court.

On the stimulus, they caved and gutted the package by making it half tax-cut based to get 3 frigging Republicans to sign onto it. Great - that was worth it. Let's slow the recovery so the President can have the high ground of reaching out to Republicans who overwhelmingly refuse to reach back. Fuck, the mullahs of Iran are probably more willing to work with Obama than the fucking Christian Mullahs of Alabama or Georgia.

Having the Dems in power makes me feel like I am watching a retarded child get slowly tortured to death by a posse of sadist preachers who insists it is all part of God's plan.

The only solace I have is hoping that things have always been this fucked up and we tend to forget just how bad everything was. The Republicans certainly have no conception of history - they revere Reagan, a man who would be crucified by his own party today because of his socialist tax policies and willingness to talk to our enemies. I wonder if Jesus and Reagan are watching this shit while swearing and scarfing jelly beans.

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