Opinion Checking One Journalist’s Fact Checking Of ObamaCare

Posted by Jason | Posted in Health Care | Posted on 25-03-2010

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A friend of mine sent me this article yesterday that purports to be objective and fact checking on the health care bill. Since the author is supposedly only using facts, although selective facts, I figured I’d throw my opinions up. After all, facts are pretty useless without some context.

The tumultuous health care debate that brought you death panels and socialism has spun off a catalog of popular myths that will keep growing as President Barack Obama and all sides battle toward the midterm elections this fall.

OK, the cats out of the bag as to where the author stands already. I would call panels who decide what gets what care, which can ultimately be who lives and dies, death panels. While the name may not be the one that matches Obama’s PR push, it pretty much nails it. Also, the bills that were being pushed by the house, which would have obviously been part of the debate included the public option. What is the public option other than socialism. Granted, the bill that passed didn’t have it, so it’s technically not socialism. It’s more like fascism. I guess the President and the author think that is better.

At a White House signing ceremony Tuesday, Obama ventured the hope that Americans on all sides will judge the legislation for what it actually says and does. “When I sign this bill,” he declared, “all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”

Of course, Obama is only talking about the oppositions’ rhetoric. I hope he realizes his rhetoric will be confronted with the reality as well. Oh, but don’t forget. Most of the bill doesn’t take place until after the next election. Obama won’t have to worry about being elected again after the bill finally takes effect. If he was really sure of the results, it would have went into effect right away, so his re-election would have hinged on the results.

Wishful thinking, Mr. President.

Facts are stubborn, the saying goes. But myths about the legislation are likely to persist as well. And a lot of people don’t agree on which is which.

“People have taken away from the debate a number of beliefs about the bill that are very difficult to shake based on objective reports,” said Robert Blendon, a Harvard public health professor who follows opinion trends. “There is enough skepticism out there that questions about how it’s going to help the country are likely to continue.”

If you wanted to find the best way to deal with ..ah. let’s say Iran, and you asked a military specialist, what type of answers do you think you’d get? If you asked a peace studies professor, what kind of answer do you think you’d get? The point I’m making is if the author of this article wants to tilt it in favor of ObamaCare, he would pose as objective and bring in a “specialist”, but the specialist would be someone who is inherently for the bill. Someone who studies “public health” for a living is going to see everything through pro-government lenses. Also, being a professor of public health or a so-called objective journalist does not mean you can even comment on the real economic results of the bill. For that you would need an economist, and even then it would depend if the economist is a state suckup or not.

Here’s a look at some of the myths and realities, from both sides of the issue:

Obama has put the nation on a slippery slope toward socialism.

Hello? Government’s role in health care has been steadily growing since Medicare and Medicaid were established 45 years ago. Even if Republicans were to take control of Washington and repeal this bill, government would still be on track to pick up more than half the nation’s health care tab by 2012, according to a report last month from Medicare.

“The Republican myth is that the government is for the first time going to take over the health care sector,” said economist Joe Antos of the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute. “The takeover was probably largely accomplished in 1965 with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Since the early days, Medicare has called the shots on a lot of policy issues that private insurance fell in line with.”

Still, the new law will undoubtedly expand the government’s influence. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., warned Tuesday it will lead to the “quasi-nationalization of the health industry.”

Underline “quasi.” Democrats dropped their idea of a government insurance plan to compete with private carriers. So any “socialization” will be channeled through Wellpoint, UnitedHealthcare and other private insurance giants.

Ok, not too bad so far. I agree that the government has been heavily involved in health care, and actually it accounts for 50% of health spending already. The author is correct. Unfortunately, his objectivism leaves out what the economic result of that involvement has been. Since the government involvement in health care has steadily increased since 1965, so has prices. Is that a shocker? Not to anyone who knows the economic effects of throwing billions of dollars of government money at the same amount of resources. Of course, the result is going to be huge price inflation.

Also, the argument by government is and always has been that health insurance equals health care. They even use the terms interchangeably. The end result of that is everyone thinks they have to have total care insurance instead of catastrophic insurance. The introduction of third party payer in health care all the way down to checkups has also heavily inflated prices. Read my post on root causes of the health care crisis to see why health care costs are so high.

I love how the author tries painting Judd Gregg as if he’s being dramatic. Would you call a government take over that says what type of insurance you must have and regulates every aspect of how care will be given “quasi-nationalization”? I’d say Gregg isn’t being dramatic enough. Also, the last part of that sentence really highlights what this is. “So any ‘socialization’ will be channeled through Wellpoint, UnitedHealthcare and other private insurance giants.” Hmmm, if it looks like fascism, smells like fascism, and quacks like fascism, could it be?

• Health care overhaul is going to lower your health insurance premiums.

Obama says that once new competitive insurance markets open for business, in 2014, individuals buying coverage comparable to what they have today will pay 14-20 percent less. Family coverage costs about $13,400 a year, so that could be real money.

But the president’s assurance is based on a selective reading of a Congressional Budget Office report that found most individuals would probably buy better, more expensive coverage than what’s available today.

And Obama skips over an important caveat: The budget office didn’t say premiums would be lower than currently. It said premiums for some people would be lower than they would have been without the bill. Premiums for others would be higher.

With the U.S. population getting older, and medical science pushing the technological envelope, there’s very little reason to think premiums will go down. The best Obama can hope for is to slow the pace of increases.

Well, the author gave it a try. I must say this was pretty close to objective. The fact is you will not see premiums going down. The only way you will see premiums going down is if the government subsidizes premiums, which wouldnt’ mean they went down. It would just mean someone else is paying. Also, this bill does absolutely zero to address health care costs, so if health care costs keep rising, so will insurance. Until we address the root causes of health care inflation, we will never see insurance premiums decrease. As I’ve stated in previous posts, the only way to drive costs down is to increase supply or decrease demand in relation to each other. Does this bill increase supply? I doubt it. Considering how many doctors aren’t taking mediacare patients anymore, if everyone basically becomes a medicare patient, doctors will flee the field. Drug companies and medical device companies are going to pay over $100 billion in new taxes. Does that increase supply? On the demand side, we are supposedly adding 30 million new people to the insurance system. Is that decreasing demand?

• You will be forced to pay for other people’s abortions.

Only if you join a health insurance plan that covers abortion. In that case, the costs of paying for abortions would be spread over all the enrollees in the plan — no differently from how other medical procedures are handled, except a policyholder would have to write a separate check for it.

Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, said people who don’t want to pay for abortion could simply pick a plan that doesn’t offer it.

There would definitely be a demand for such plans, and not just from people with moral objections. Single men and older women would have no reason to pay an extra premium for abortion coverage.

The debate on abortion was on the federal dollars being spent on this bill. The author talks about it in the terms of the private insurance market, so I really question his objectivity on this. In his last statement, he actually sounds like he’s starting to understand how the free market works. It allows people to choose their coverage. The problem that he seems to ignore is government mandates. Government mandates tons of coverage that many people don’t want or need, but they are forced to pay for it because government says so. Do you think abortion will be any different, especially if the pro-abortion groups have their way?

• The Democratic bill will lead to government health care rationing.

The legislation sets up a research center to compare the effectiveness of medical treatments, and critics fear that bureaucrats will start issuing justifications for denying patients access to the latest medical technology.

Republicans as well as Democrats had previously called for a major investment in such research to help make sense of which kinds of treatments, medications and technologies are worth the cost.

The legislation specifies that the research findings cannot be used to impose mandates, guidelines or recommendations for payment, coverage, or treatment — or used to deny coverage.

Acceptance of the research is likely to be slow in coming, and the medical community — not government and insurance companies — will probably take the lead in vetting it.

The government has no role or need in deciding what health care technologies are worth their cost. That should be handled by the free market and consumers. We don’t need government telling IT companies how to invest their money. Can you imagine how much the innovation of the internet would have been stifled if a government panel decided what technologies were worth the cost.

Also, never ever, ever, ever, ever believe there is such a thing as a government panel that does not have power to decide what happens. The government is the gun in the room. They provide a ton of funding for research. Do you think for a second this panel will not dictate where that money goes? Seriously though. You must always think of the government as the gun in the room. That is what it is. Imagine you are sitting around debating on where to go to dinner with a few people. There is one strange guy, Mr. State, in the group who always seems to get his way. There are stories about this guy that scare the crap out of you. Supposedly, he’s killed people before and got away with it. Everyone is putting out their opinions, and then the strange guy speaks up. He says, “I’m just going to throw my opinion out there. You guys can choose where we go, so don’t let me be the one to decide.” Then as he’s telling you where he thinks everyone should go, he pulls his jacket back a little to show his gun. Everyone immediately, nervously says, “Well, that’s a brilliant idea Mr. State. Why didn’t we think of that. Let’s go there.” Mr. State smiles grimly and says, “Ok, if that’s what you guys want to do. Fine by me.”

The government is Mr. State. Do not ever believe that those who decide the rules and ultimately back up their opinion of how each of us should act with deadly force is going to be just a measly side show. They will be THE SHOW.

• The American people have already rejected Obamacare.

Although some polls show a majority oppose the bill, most surveys find the public about evenly divided. Blendon, the public opinion expert, believes it’s premature to say that the public has rejected it. Curiously, many individual components — doing away with insurance denials for pre-existing conditions, tax credits to help pay premiums, insurance purchasing pools — are widely popular.

Obama reads those findings to mean that Democrats have a chance to turn around public opinion, and he’s embarking on a campaign to sell the bill.

Don’t you feel better now about this whole thing? The country is evenly divided according to our objective journalist. What he should have said is half the country is having a gun stuck to their head by the other half. This is why democracy is a horrible system. One part of the population holds the other captive, against their will.

It shouldn’t matter if it’s 75% of the population in favor of the bill. This country was not setup as a democracy for a reason. It was setup to be limited in what the federal government can do in order to make sure that individual rights are protected. That means protected from the majority. In democracy, the majority can enslave the minority, which is basically what you see happening now.

Also, who gives a rat ass if “insurance denials for pre-existing conditions, tax credits to help pay premiums, insurance purchasing pools — are widely popular”. So is free booze. Anything that purports to be a free lunch is going to be popular.

Do you think it would be widely popular if I asked people if they were in favor of being robbed to pay for someone else’s health problems, who chooses to eat at McDonald’s every day?

How about, do you have a problem with me stealing your money to help someone else pay for their insurance premiums, because they’d rather spend their money on something else like their $100 cable bill, several hundred a month eating out, etc?

How about, you go to the gym and ask the person who works out religiously, makes the hard eating decisions, etc if they mind paying higher premiums, even though he or she still has impeccable health, because the obese guy down the street doesn’t want to make the same hard decisions and also doesn’t want to pay for health insurance, because the cost of his health care insurance is way too high because of his weight? What do you think the popular opinion would be?

Now, ask everyone if they want a free car. I’m sure that would be widely popular too. Does that make it great policy? Does that mean we should force someone else to pay for the cars against their will, which basically makes them slaves?

• The legislation will save Medicare from bankruptcy.

Democrats say the bill — even as it cuts Medicare to pay for expanded coverage for working families — will add at least nine years of solvency to the program’s giant hospital insurance trust fund, now projected to be exhausted in 2017.

Technically that’s true — but only on paper.

Savings from the Medicare cuts will be invested in government IOUs, like any other trust fund surplus. The special Treasury securities count as an asset on Medicare’s books — making the program’s precarious financial situation seem more reassuring. But the government will spend the actual money. And when time comes for Medicare to redeem the IOUs, lawmakers will have to scramble to come up with the cash.

The key point is that the Medicare savings will be received by the government only once, the Congressional Budget Office said, “so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending … on other programs.”

via Health care fact check: Some myths about legislation likely to persist | NewsChannel 36 | Charlotte Health & Medical News, Nutrition and Fitness | WCNC.com | News for Charlotte, North Carolina.

This last one isn’t even worth a comment. If what the lying Democrats say is true, that medicare is saved from bankruptcy, it’s at the expense of bankrupting the entire country. What a joke. We are going to save ourselves from bankruptcy by spending and borrowing more. Eff it. Let the whole system implode, and let’s hope we have more intelligent people rebuilding. Maybe the liberals can pass a law to change reality again, and we can all be rich and have a unicorn when this all falls apart.

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