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in 2009 there is no bigger issue

Move Forward MoveOn.org

The liberal website and online force in the Obama campaign had some words about the lies in the current town hall crisis or confrontations, in an email on Aug 11, 2009.  I could not help myself and had to add some answers to their email communication points below, under the label Editor. 

The statements that MoveOn.org (MO) indicates are lies are not addressing the points that were intended in each issue, but rather MO is further engaging in polemics.  It is easier to argue a lie is a lie, if the you make the construct easy to refute, but the issues remain, and so read and follow the reasoning and logic, and see for yourself.

There are many good ideas out there as to what to do, so we should look hard at all of them.

I would only ask that the MoveOn followers and editors do a better job of stacking up their list of lies and their facts.  Let's move forward, MoveOn!

MO:   Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandma!!!

The truth: These accusations—of "death panels" and forced euthanasia—are, of course, flatly untrue. As an article from the Associated Press puts it: "No 'death panel' in health care bill."4 What's the real deal? Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.5

Editor (me) - Truth:  Clearly there are not going to be death squads that go around and round up Grand mothers and take them to camps.  The criticism of having the government enter into decisions of funding or not funding care is a real concern in the House Bill.   The details of which are found on this page.  Having looked over the actual wording of this Bill, there are some items that do raise some concerns about care for seniors and funding decisions that will affect end of life processes.  An example:  "PG 425 Lines 4-12 Gov't mandates Advance Care Planning Consult.   Seniors will be interviewed every five years for health issues and decisions made as to what care they can or can't receive." 

There are other line items as well.  The basic issue is that you have the number of Medicare patients increasing by 2x over time, and the dollars being reduced by a noticeable amount, $500+B over the next 10 years.  This is the case in England for instance as well.  NICE makes decisions on care, and places a dollar value limit on what care will be given a senior.  Daschle and other Obama advisers have indicated that they favor cutting off funding near the end of life, rather than investing more money.

So healthcare reform, which should be about cost reduction, is about cost decisions made in many cases by the government, resulting in rationing care.  There is no other way Obamacare is workable or the numbers or policy statements make sense.

MO:  Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!!

The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options.6 Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option—a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers—that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down.7

If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them.8  But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

Editor - Truth:   The above is simply not the case.  It is apparent in the eyes of the Administration that the the insurance companies are the bad guy here, but that is not the real issue.   The crowding out by the public option has been well analyzed and not answered by the supporters of Obamacare.  In addition, the notion that government can increase competition is simply without precedent.  Competition does have to be increased, but in a systematic manner, and not by inserting more government into the healthcare industry. 

The healthcare industry is the most regulated and interfered with by the government of any other industry.  Competition is replaced with lobbying due to this growing centrist control. There are various motivations for having a public option and that appears to be single payer

The current House Bill does have a public option and insurance exchanges, and it also has requirements for the government to approve your healthcare insurance, that it has to meet various requirements.  There are other provisions for doctor payments and approvals that are quite egregious, so if that means you might be able to maintain your current condition, you might, but not likely.  I would hope that the actual details of the Bill would count for something.  The campaigning on the public option has been filled with items that are simply not true.

One other thought, do you think that the government has done a good job with education, or even the Post Office?  I think this analogy is a powerful on for governments in general do a poor job in aggregate and at best at providing a service.  Since the House bill has a good deal of services called out as being done by the government, one has to consider this analogy very carefully, for there is no existence proof that government can make anything run better or be more competitive.

Lie #3: President Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing!!!

The truth: Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Right now, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered—that is rationed care. And a big part of reform is to stop that.

Health care reform will do away with some of the most nefarious aspects of this rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.9   And outside of that, as noted above, reform will increase insurance options, not force anyone into a rationed situation. 

Editor - Truth:  Obama has clearly stated he prefers a single payer, socialized medical system.   His advisors and leading democrats have so stated as well.  Congressman Franks stated recently that the public option was the precursor to a single payer system. 

An example of a single payer system is Canada, and their difficulties are detailed in several articles elsewhere in this website.  A single payer system, with a public option as the lead-in,  will lead to rationing. There is no way out, as England, Canada, Massachusetts, Oregon have found out.

To state that the "discrimination of pre-existing conditions" is rationing is like saying driving habits should have no bearing on the cost of insurance.  This is not logical, and causes serious problems in the overall cost of insurance, as has been proven in 5 States.  Also Obamacare supporters want to see life style choices not be included in the cost of insurance, despite the high cost of life style related decisions.  This makes no sense and penalizes those who have made good choices. 

Is there a better way to have insurance?  Absolutely, see Proposal for some specifics, and as well, see an article by the CEO of Whole Foods.  We should be increasing the competition rather than making it more expensive.  There is some innovation going out there in insurance, and we need to see more of it, as well as more rational insurance approaches.

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens' Medicare benefits!!!

The truth: Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits.10 Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care—in fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.11

Editor - Truth:    This position from MO that Medicare benefits are not going to be reduced with Obamacare requires a massive improvement in the Medicare program, something that has not been detailed nor is a part of the House Bill.  So the wave of the hand is not as meaningful as that which is stated in the Bill.   There are also hidden victims of this Bill, which also need to be acknowledged.

The details of the House Bill funding plan is that there will be a about a $500B reduction in Medicare expenditures over the 10 year period.  Given that the number of Medicare recipients will increase dramatically in the future, this has to mean a per person reduction in expenditures, even when the cost increases in Obamacare will permeate the healthcare cost structure and technology will also progress foreword, further driving up cost.  This must translate into a sizeable reduction of benefits allowed per person.  The only answer is to improve efficiency of healthcare in affecting the basic decisions on cost at the patient-doctor level. 

Lie #5: Obama's health care plan will bankrupt America!!!

The truth: We need health care reform now in order to prevent bankruptcy—to control spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy.

Right now, we spend more than $2 trillion dollars a year on health care.12 The average family premium is projected to rise to over $22,000 in the next decade13—and each year, nearly a million people face bankruptcy because of medical expenses.14  Reform, with an affordable, high-quality public option that can spur competition, is necessary to bring down skyrocketing costs. Also, President Obama's reform plans would be fully paid for over 10 years and not add a penny to the deficit.15

We're closer to real health care reform than we've ever been—and the next few weeks will decide whether it happens. We need to make sure the truth about health care reform is spread far and wide to combat right wing lies.

Editor - Truth:  If one considers the huge forecasted Medicare deficit of $36T a trifle exaggerated, then I am not sure how to analyze the statement above, and this is before Obamacare increases the sense of entitlement and mandates increased coverage and care.  There is at least no cost savings in Obamacare, and most assuredly a cost increase.

The true cost of Obamacare is becoming more clear.  The economics are quite revealing actually.  The potential for increased cost is unpredictable as it has been with Medicare.  Some other credible estimates of the total cost of Obamacare over just a 10 year period have been $4T, so there is a great risk that Obamacare will drive up the cost of healthcare significantly.  It is simply not a good idea, and does not achieve the original objectives.  If you are still wavering on the benefits of Obamacare, then perhaps you might want to study a flowchart of what is in the House Bill. 

As the need for reform began in an attempt to make healthcare more viable financially and to cover the uninsured, and to a long the way do some cost reduction.  It has taken on the life of a large social program with proponents all driving their special interests.  It now threatens to be adding a large tax on the middle class, something Obamacare advocates have been ignoring.  Our marginal tax rates could also be very large, not a good sign for the economic recovery.  The effect on doctors could also be quite debilitating.

One has to look objectively at the history of how we arrived at the current situation in healthcare.  the history is filled with anti-competitive policies in Washington DC and in State Capitals, including the high cost of regulation.  What we need to do now is systematically make the healthcare industry more competitive, to undo 40+ years of bad practices, and to install best practice as an outcome of market forces and not federal policies.

Obamacare might not bankrupt America by itself, but along with Medicare and other federal programs, it most certainly will lead us much closer, and it make the society a public driven society rather than a private one, changing the real fabric of this great country.

 

Sources:(for MO)

1. "More 'Town Halls Gone Wild': Angry Far Right Protesters Disrupt Events With 'Incomprehensible' Yelling," Think Progress, August 4, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51733&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=2

2. "Fight the smears," Health Care for America NOW, accessed August 10, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51729&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=3

3. "Palin Paints Picture of 'Obama Death Panel' Giving Thumbs Down to Trig," ABC News, August 7, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51728&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=4

4. "No 'death panel' in health care bill," The Associated Press, August 10, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51747&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=5

5. "Stop Distorting the Truth about End of Life Care," The Huffington Post, July 24, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51730&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=6

6. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 11, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq#i1

7. "Why We Need a Public Health-Care Plan," The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51737&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=7

8. "Obama: 'If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Keep Your Doctor,'" The Wall Street Journal, 15, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51736&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=8

9. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq#r1

10. "Obama: No reduced Medicare benefits in health care reform," CNN, July 28, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51748&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=9

11. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq#s1

12. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq#c1

13. "Premiums Run Amok," Center for American Progress, July 24, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51667&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=10

14. "Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies," CNN, June 5, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51735&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=11

15. "Reality Check FAQs," WhiteHouse.gov, accessed August 10, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/faq#c1

Sources for the Five Lies:

#1: "A euthanasia mandate," The Washington Times, July 29, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51732&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=12

#2: "It's Not An Option," Investor's Business Daily, July 15, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51743&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=13

#3: "Rationing Health Care," The Washington Times, April 21, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51742&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=14

#4: "60 Plus Ad Is Chock Full Of Misinformation," Media Matters for America, August 8, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51734&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=15

#5: "Obama's 'Public' Health Plan Will Bankrupt the Nation," The National Review, May 13, 2009. http://www.moveon.org/r?r=51744&id=16782-17150510-4LOFbdx&t=16