Monday, November 02, 2009

Health Care News Round-Up

Bunches of interesting stuffs here.

--Nancy Pelosi pushes for vote on Pelosicare Thursday. I call it "Pelosicare," since it doesn't really seem to be what we will end up with, other than taxpayer-funded abortions, huge tax increases, and cuts in the care you can get. This is even taking into account the CBO estimates that the bill would cut the deficit (by not providing any benefits for the first three years, then steamrolling in the costs for the last seven), a dubious claim, at best.

--William Kristol argues that Pelosi may fail.

First of all, the new Rasmussen survey finds 42 percent favoring the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats -- down a bit from a week ago. 54 percent of the public is opposed. 23 percent of all voters strongly support the plan, with 44 percent strongly opposed.

Second, there are elections tomorrow. In Virginia and New Jersey, the Democratic candidates for governor will run 15 to 20 points behind Obama’s showing a year ago (in 2008 Obama won Virginia by six, New Jersey by 16). This is a pretty stunning one-year swing in two not-insignificant states. And many of the voters who are swinging are similar to voters who live in the competitive congressional districts Democrats picked up in 2006 and 2008.

So Virginia and New Jersey alone could give a fair number of Democratic congressmen reason to pause before they walk the plank in the House for Nancy Pelosi's health care plan.

Elections tomorrow play a big role in how moderate Democrats will approach Pelosi's plan. If Republicans (and I'm including Hoffman in that) win all three races, I can't imagine moderate Dems jumping into Pelosi's meat grinder. The writing on the wall will be plain to them.

--Ezra Klein points out that the difference in health care costs between the U.S. and other countries is because we pay more per unit. But Klein doesn't go into an important component of why our care costs so much more: consumers rarely know what the cost of each treatment, drug or procedure is. Why? Because the doctor or hospital talks to the insurer (be it private or government) and then patients get the bill for what the insurer doesn't pay. So the patient never sees the actual cost.

Here's a real world example. My husband attended a company meeting today where the CEO discussed a variety of things, including the fact that health care reform is necessary. At this company, which is pretty large, the costs of insurance have risen 10% for several years. And why are the prices going up? Because, as the CEO put it, we demand more and never check the prices. He said he'd had some numbness in his hand and went to the doctor, who did an electrical pulse procedure on it. When he went to pay for the visit, the person at the desk said, "That will be $25."

"How much does that procedure really cost?" he asked.


"No, really. Not my co-pay. What is the cost of that procedure?"


The man was astounded. He said if he'd known it would cost $2,300 for the procedure, he would have lived with the numbness. But how many procedures do we all have done without knowing the costs or, really, having much choice in what we pay?

--Orrin Hatch says Obamacare will destroy the two-party system.
Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes represent a "step-by-step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,' " Hatch said during an interview with the conservative

"That's their goal," Hatch added. "That's what keeps Democrats in power."

Hatch is correct that handing out the goodies is what keeps Democrats in power. That's why they like pointing to popular programs like school lunches, Social Security and Medicare. What they don't want to point to is that dependence on the government is no more freedom than any other tyranny. It's a soft boot on your face as opposed to a spiked one.

--More food for thought about closing the deficit. Top earners would pay 95.2%. Even the bottom sixth would pay more than a quarter of their earnings in wages. I don't see anyone proposing this any time soon.

--Even if Obamacare fails--and the closer we get to 2010 without a law, the better that prospect looks-- Democrats can cheer each other for enacting important legislation that makes killing a person for being a woman less of a hate crime than killing the same woman for being a lesbian.