Why The Health Care Debate Is So Contentious

Even prior to the abortion issue being pointlessly dragged into the debate over health care reform the issue has been one of the most contentious debates I have ever seen in politics.

The question quickly becomes: Why?

I feel I have an answer, and it mirrors the matter of the abortion debate as well.

It is simple:

Both sides view the other as disingenuous and downright evil.

From the perspective of the anti-reformists all support for this bill is a disguised effort to destroy capitalism and / or expand the federal government to an unreasonable size.

From the perspective of the pro-reformists all rejection of this bill is a disguised effort to spread hatred, intolerance, racism and violence under the banner of a “tea party” and / or purely strategic politics of conservatives seeking to undermine all bills proposed under President Obama.

(There is, of course, a great deal more complexity at play here in both positions.)

In a situation where both groups view the other as “liars” there is no debate to be had. No discussion that will bare fruits. None.

The fear and lies surrounding this health bill entirely native to the rightwing has no bartering point from which to start from. There is no common ground to find with a person who lies about the record and rejects all evidence that does not compliment their existing preconceptions.

Throughout this year long national debate I have strived to pull the emotions out and put the facts in their place, but such actions only serve a purpose when there remains holdouts on both sides. In the course of this I have seen new levels of hostility directed at me personally more so then ever before in my experience.

I have never “unfriended” and “blocked” so many people in my entire ten-plus years on the Internet.

The incitement toward violence, the death threats, the partisan hate; all existed prior to the matter becoming national in the death threats against Democrats post-HCR. All of this existed in the venom directed at health reform advocates on a daily basis from individuals of a very low moral fiber and very poor understanding of democracy.

In matters discussing life and death, I’d rather not see so many and myself give in to fear; but it truly doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this country explode in mindless paranoia. Big changes equates to big fears, bad economy equates to paranoia on the rise.

In the solid matter of facts, this health bill is a net-positive for America.

But this issue will not lose any of it’s contentious nature no matter how many facts are interjected in the mass spreading of paranoid myths. For too many Americans it is simply easier to believe the worst, and the biased conservative media is sure to provide them endless piles of red meat.

Yes We Can Have Health Care!

We have talked about it.

We have fought about it.

We have gotten upset about it.

But now it’s over, and I called this shot from months back.

Some said I was counting my chickens before they hatched, others believed in my crystal ball.

But here we have it! Health Care Reform in the U.S. has passed!

And not a moment too soon.

The Coffee Party Inspires Me

If you are anything like me then the recent lapse in any kind of reasonable or civil debate in our politics has you feeling frustrated and uncertain of what to do.

I fall back upon my classic standards of political partisanship and playing to the left-base, but in truth I am not satisfied by this in the least.

We don’t need word-wars over labeling and branding, we need solutions for America that work.

We don’t need more spin and more talking points, we need honest debate and informed decision making.

What Coffee Party USA offers is civility and a place for democracy to take place in a honest fashion.

I encourage any person who has formed an opinion of me that is one of “ultra-left” to understand I was most moved by U.S. Army veteran Alan P. Alborn’s words that anything I have seen in a very long time.

I understand far more about what motives are behind conservatives and libertarians than I let on and ultimately my views are no different from Alborn’s views in regards to the matter of the free market or the size of government.

This is one element that was always part of what makes me “independent,” and I am tired of being brought nearly to tears dealing with these Tea Party activists who seek to do nothing more than rewrite history and stop all rational debate while neglecting the more important issues of health care and insurance reform.

The Coffee Party is the answer we have been looking for to send the message to Washington that we sent them there to get something done, not just play procedural games while Americans suffer.

We’ll see if they even want me around, they have a statement about “no pundits and partisans and strategists” … that’s me three for three. But punditry can be declared, partisanship can be avoided and they will want my strategies if they ever give me a chance to share them … so maybe I am reading too much into that statement.

I encourage you to join the Coffee Party, too!

We are a group of concerned Americans who want government “that responds to the needs of the majority of its citizens as expressed by our votes and by our voices; NOT corporate interests as expressed by misleading advertisements and campaign contributions.”

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Official Websites:

http://www.coffeepartyUSA.org

http://facebook.com/coffeeparty

http://www.youtube.com/user/coffeepartyusa

(other “dupe” web-groups have already begun to spawn in response to the Coffee Party, only these websites are Coffee Party Movement)

Obamacare Revealed!

We have heard a right-wing meme that some in the middle or left have been mistakenly using since to first days of the U.S. Health Care Debate: “Obamacare

No such thing existed, until today.

Perhaps under pressure by the grassroots push for Senate reconciliation, the president has moved in the direction that I and others urged him toward near to the beginning of the health care debate surrounding the congressional reform bills.

If there is a bipartisan support for the president’s proposal then Senate reconciliation measures may prove ultimately avoidable. As all rational people advocating for reconciliation understand the underlying drawback to using the process.

Still reading…

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Image: Alan.com

Urban Institute Overviews The Public Option

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post has called this the “best overview of the public option” he has read so far, and I concur:

Getting to a Public Option that Contains Costs: Negotiations, Opt-Outs and Triggers

The debate over a public option has essentially become a debate over the size and role of government in the health care system. The central argument, as we see it, should be one of fiscal conservatism—that a public option should play a role in addressing the very serious problem of health care cost containment. The current debate between the left and the right on this issue is obscuring the fact that consolidation in both the insurance and provider markets is propelling a higher rate of growth in health care costs. The consolidation of power, particularly in provider markets, makes it extremely difficult for insurers to negotiate rates for their services and contributes to rapid growth in health care costs. A strong public option is one that ties provider rates in some way to Medicare rates (though set at likely higher levels), and that is open to any individual or firm regardless of firm size. It would thus provide countervailing power to providers and help control cost growth.

We argue that a strong version is necessary because there is little else in health reform that can be counted on to contribute significantly to cost containment in the short term. Capping tax-exempt employer contributions to health insurance has great support among many analysts (including us), but it faces considerable political opposition. Proposals such as comparative effectiveness research, new payment approaches, medical homes and accountable care organizations, all offer promise but could take years to provide savings. Thus, the use of a strong public option to reduce government subsidy costs and as a cost containment device should be an essential part of the health reform debate.

We recognize that there is opposition to a strong public option. Both the House and Senate proposals are considering relatively weak versions to make the public option more acceptable. Both proposals would have the public option negotiate rates with physicians and hospitals. We see two problems with this. One is that negotiating rates is not simple and it raises difficult implementation issues; for example, with whom would the government negotiate? Further, negotiations are most likely to be unsuccessful with providers who have substantial market power. Since this is at the heart of the cost problem, a strategy of negotiations seems unlikely to be effective, as has been affirmed by cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

The Senate has proposed a public option with an opt-out provision. This has the advantage of recognizing regional diversity in political philosophy by allowing states to pass legislation to keep it from being offered in their states. A disadvantage of this proposal is that it would exclude many who would potentially benefit from a public option. The states likely to opt out are likely to be those with high shares of low-income people and many uninsured.

The other alternative is to establish a strong public option but not implement it unless a triggering event occurred. The goal would be to allow the private insurance system to prove that it can control costs with a new set of insurance rules and state exchanges. The triggering events could be the level of premiums exceeding a certain percentage of family incomes or the growth in health care spending exceeding certain benchmarks. Since the public option would only be triggered because of excessive costs, however measured, we assume that a relatively strong version of a public option would come into play.

We recognize that taking a strong public option off the table may be necessary to enact reform legislation. But this will mean, at a minimum, higher government subsidy costs by not permitting a payer with substantial market power to bring cost containment pressure on the system. The outcome is likely to be that costs will continue to spiral upward. In effect, the nation would be relying on the range of promising pilot approaches to cost containment that would take some time to be successful. If they are not, we may be left with increasingly regulatory approaches, such as rate setting or utilization controls that apply to all payers. This would mean much more government involvement than giving people a choice of a low-cost public option that would be required to compete with private insurers.

(Read entire paper in PDF)

My Internet-Rhetoric Gone Too Far? You Decide.

Joel Morton of Alan.com deserves my apology.

I will not re-post it here but I made a very rude joke at his expense when this little piece of blow-back hit me after loosing my cool while commenting on the blog of another. I am very sorry about such shameful behavior on my part and have since apologized via email to Joel.

My point is not that I won’t continue to confront the opposition via the internet, my point is that in the future when I have some ultra-radical, edgy, hyperbolic, partisan rhetoric to share I will do it here and not on the original posting.

Here is the piece of internet that has sparked this:

John Galt:

does he [Joe Lieberman] really want to stand in the way of reform?

Most likely he doesn’t wanna sign on to the biggest financial disaster we have yet seen.

EricG Reply:
October 27th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

You mean the Iraq War?

Oh wait, you mean saving thousands of American lives that die every year from lack of care.

You disgusting monster.

I hope you get H1N1 and then lose your job and then have your insurance revoked.

then all of a sudden you’ll be “pro-reform”.

When you are getting screwed, you will change your tune.

just because of that, I wish that on you.

Joel Morton Reply:
October 27th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Eric, cut it out. If you can’t argue your point without name-calling or wishing harm on others who comment, perhaps you shouldn’t comment at all.

John Galt Reply:
October 28th, 2009 at 12:00 am

Hat tip
Posted by John Galt
October 27th, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I negligently did not search long enough with in the Alan Colmes website to notice my insane and downright inflammatory remarks had reached the response of an administrator.

My bad on that one.

But let’s examine this a little closer.

This user “John Galt” has personally attacked me several times prior to my degrading myself to his level on previous postings at the same website.

This name “John Galt” comes from an Ayn Rand novel (“Atlas Shrugged“) and I know Ayn Rand as a woman who spread intellectual-poison in the form of anti-compassion mentalities and narcissistic views of all not within this same selfish and frankly what I find to be a completely un-Christian mode of thought.

There is no doubt to anyone who is sane that wishing H1N1 on someone was downright low of me.

But look at what I’m saying.

because of that, I wish that on you.”

I was speaking in haste and un-Christian hate. I was wrong to attack this person with whom I do not hold a high opinion of.

But mark my words, there was truth in what I said.

Those who truly face these the crisis of a loved one falling ill and cannot pay the bills because one of the earners of the house is the one who is sick therefore cannot work.

Those who have insurance but only can barely afford it so they cannot save each month, better their living environment or pay for better schools for their children.

These people do not advocate this kind of anti-reformists screeds and illogical stances on the functions of government. They cannot afford such wild ignorance any longer, if they had it in the first place.

Nancy Reagan, wife of Ronald Reagan, was formerly against embryonic stem cell research until the time in which Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she was shown data that proves stem cell research could be an avenue to a cure.

Endless other cases like this are true.

My bitterness was wrong.

And I am beginning to see that name-calling only detracts from me arguments lately.

I see now why.

The McCarthy Era is upon us again and if nobody can ask: “Have you no sense of decency?” Then we are really in trouble.

I didn’t want to play that role, I’m a lot better at impersonating lunatics. But fine, okay, whatever.

I can’t be out here calling people monsters when they say monstrous things and wishing for intellect to win over vanity.

Things are so bad, that it’s hard to see the middle anymore.

I won’t make things any worse from here out.

Alan Grayson is my Hero


What we hear today in terms of conservative rhetoric is almost entirely defining the opposition in a extremely slanted and most frequently completely untrue fashion.
The claims of “Marxist leanings” and “communist affinity” and “non-nationalized citizen” and “secret Muslim” and “infanticidist” all originate solely in the minds of those who seek only to destroy and demean him not just as a politician but as a man. Some of these media jackals care nothing for liberty, and care only to tear a man down with lies to enhance their own career.
It is people like Tom Price who have to apologize to the dead. People like that who have to beg for forgiveness of the families who lost loved ones, all because Price had to let his friends make more money at the cost of people’s lives.

Truth About Lobbyists and Interest Groups

“One study of eighty-three (primarily liberal) public-interest groups found that one-third of them received half or more of all their funds from foundation grants; one-tenth received over 90 percent from such sources. In one ten year period the Ford Foundation alone contributed about $21 million to liberal public-interest groups. Many of these organizations were law firms that, other than staff members, had no members at all. The Environmental Defense Fund is supported almost entirely by grants from foundations such as the Rockefeller Family Fund. The more conservative Scaife foundations gave $1.8 million to a conservative public-interest group, the National Legal Center for the Public Interest.” [Wilson, DiIulio 2008]

The concept of using public interest groups to promote the agendas and ideals of a movement is, by this source, not exclusive to the liberal movement but heavily favored by it thus far.

President-elect Barack Obama may ultimately isolate himself from major liberal movement members if the proposed audit of Washington politics were to take a lasting toll on the liberal lobbies. The next four years will certainly answer just how far this coming administration is willing to go to remove corruption in public interest group finance and practice, but four years from now there will also once again be a national referendum on the highest office.

Should the effort ultimately take power from once strong lobbies for popular liberal agendas, the informed American Democratic Voter could potentially face a struggle at the polls when considering a vote for the incumbent President.

The power of an interest-group, in a classic design, should expand as the number of members and contributors expands. The ‘funded & unoccupied lobby’ described in quote above as a law firm is a critical element of what causes the real disruptions in Washington politics.

The figures and organizations that form the American lobbies and public-interest groups of today are not necessarily the root of the problem so much as the agendas of the highest funded public interest groups overriding the highest agendas of the wills of the people.

If the National Legal Center for the Public Interest (a weak lobby) were to receive a large increase in both number of members and in contributions. they should rightly increase in the voice and recognition in Washington and receive foundation grants in turn.

If the Environmental Defense Fund (a strong lobby) were to lose both member and public support their voice as a lobby should rightly decrease and even though they do not receive a majority in foundation grants they should be kept from taking them if they lacked any significant support in the public domain.

This is all within a classic definition of how the public interest groups should work. Any number of factors can increase or decrease the power of a single lobby and for this reason most of us limit our discussion on public-interest groups, or lobbies, to the number of members that are well-known or outspoken and the money behind the group.

Lobbyists are not are always motivated by ill or by good, despite the fact the lobby they work for is focused on a critical social issue or an important national matter that concerns you–or perhaps for a group with which you disagree strongly.

To speak broadly, they are like salesmen of political stances a person in Washington should take.

They are not invested into the case they are making in every single case but rather deliver the best argument in favor of the lobby that they can devise.

Politicians and lobbyists are very much the same, in many ways.

Without means to search the hearts of others to know for sure if they really believe what they contend or if they are simply going with the popular ideology to gain your favor, we will never know for certain if they stand for the people or if they stand for their own private interests.
We can only judge their actions in office as solid statements of policy.

Eric Lightborn

http://americapress.wordpress.com/

December 2008

Mad as Hell about Health Care!

Mad as Hell Doctors

“This Fall, the rubber gloves meet the road.”

Find the MAHD on:

(Facebook)+(Twitter)+(YouTube)

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Dr. Paul Hochfeld on Ed Schultz.

Quoting from MadAsHellDoctors.com:

You CAN handle the Truth
There’s no nice way to say it. The financial cost of health care is killing our citizens, hobbling our economy, crushing small business, and threatening the solvency of our government. 
In the meantime, the Health Care Industry is spending almost two million dollars a day lobbying Congress and manipulating public opinion to accept “reform” legislation that leaves a vicious, for-profit system intact. The “public option” is a trap.  We need real reform that finds immediate savings, controls costs, and accomplishes the moral imperative of true Universal Access. 
A Single Payer plan is the only real path to a Health Care System that is socially, ethically and fiscally responsible. And yet, our elected officials refuse to even discuss the possibility of a Single Payer plan!
 
If that doesn’t make you mad, we recommend checking your pulse.

The “public option” is doomed.
Firstwe will still have a dysfunctional health care system designed around insurance companies.
Secondit will be impossible to cover everyone without raising taxes.
The Obama administration is already saying it is acceptable to leave out 15 million people. Which 15 million? Will you be one of them? Who gets to decide?
Third: in a “post-option” environment you can bet that the health insurance industry will manipulate the rules so that the sickest, most expensive patients will gravitate toward the public plan, which will cause it to fail. When it does, the opponents of real reform will point to the “public option” and scream: “See! Single Payer won’t work!”

There is a time for compromise – this isn’t one of them.
 
  
We believe there is only one way to control costs.
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This issue and it’s seriousness is severely under-reported or completely propagandized in some media outlets.

This is a map of the uninsured Americans and the percentage of those in your state who are uninsured.

 

Quoting Dr. Hochfeld from a radio-interview with Alan Colmes of FOX News:

“60% of doctors are in favor of government health insurance. The vast majority of primary care providers are in favor of it.”

“We are down to about 30% primary care providers in this country, we should be at about 50%. The more primary care providers you have, and the more resources you put into primary care, the better your health care outcomes and at a lower cost.”

“We are wasting 20% of our dollars on health care costs. It’s a threat to our security. We can’t afford to throw money at health care.”

“Once we get rid of the insurance companies we can have a health care system run by health care professionals.”

“The way ‘single-payer’ works is we take the money we are now spending on health care .. 60% of this 2.4 trillion dollars is already going through the government .. instead of calling it ‘insurance premiums’ it’s just called ‘health tax’. It’s not more money, it’s the same money. Because we cut out the insurance companies, we actually get more for our health care dollars.”

“I’m mad as hell about the political process.”

“I think he [Obama] learned that the industry is far more powerful than he could ever imagine and our political process is far more corrupt than he could ever have predicted.”

 ____________________________________

 

This last quote is vital for me to point out.

 

I find it distrubing those on the left would find it easy to throw the man we elected to change things for the better down the stairs just because the system is broken.

 

That’s why we elected him.

 

Let the man work!

 

This is called ‘incrementalism’ and in my view President Obama should have just gone for the whole-nine-yards of single-payer but it’s looking like that’s not going to happen. Mostly because they are all corrupt in Congress and hyper-corrupt in the GOP so it’s just plain outside of the list of options before Obama.

 

Or at least that’s my take.

 

I support Mad as Hell Doctors and all those fighting for Universal Health Care.

 

My heart is with you. Let’s keep making this case until the establishment will finally listen.

Obama Health Care Reform

(Entire speech @ Open Salon)

This was an excellent Address on Health Care by President Obama. All significant issues were cogently addressed, but I found the president should have expounded further upon the specifics of the budget and the concept of “deficit neutrality.”

Perhaps it is my own failure in understanding but I do not fully understand this notion as it pertains to health care.

I also think this clear explanation was needed much closer to the onset of the national debate instead of at this point in time and also hopefully prior to the town hall debate setting, but I see the issue of Health Care Reform as being underlined and placed in the foreground.

Those who chose not to listen and refute every word Obama speaks will most likely continue to do so.

The issue of a ‘failure to sell‘ Health Care Reform and explain the proposal is put to rest, in my view.

Republican Obstructionism in Health Care Reform

I see these God-forsaken ads running on my blog about how people are supposed to “Stop Obama-care Now!” and I would like to metaphorically spit on this nonsense once and for all. Anyone attaching the misnomer of “socialized medicine” or using the phrase “Obama-care” at this stage has already labeled themselves as part of the partisan agenda weakening this country from within everyday.

I contend that if we witnessed these same bills moving through Congress proposed by Republicans instead of Democrats that many of the same harsh opponents of reform would flip-flop their stance entirely. Almost anyone questioned on their position in the media or otherwise states that they think there should be “some kind” of reform.

I am left to think that a vast majority of the resistance to the passage of these measures is simply playing politics on behalf of Republicans, in that if President Obama passes a successful humanitarian bill that enhances the lives of so many American families the political consequences to their party will be too severe to manage.

At least the televised and media punditry are motivated by this end, if noting else.

This Party of No” mentality is dangerous to us all. If anyone has a valid objection or concern by all means they should make themselves known. But when a person simply stands on the legs of right wing talking points and shaky numbers I tend to think they would be a strong advocate for “McCain-care” if the universe where all flipped upside down.

Marble-Cake Federalism And Health Care Reform

health_care_providers_385x261

In the midst of civil and uncivil protests against any type of reformist action on the medical insurance corporations and their stranglehold over health care options in the United States there has been a proposed amendment to the bill that I feel best represents the embodiment of liberty and American Values.

The Kucinich Amendment proposes that the federal option remains intact but each state would be allowed to elect into a single-payer system if they chose to do so.

66332-marble-cake
We live in a system of government called Marble-cake Federalism where the federal government and state governments share powers over specific matters.

The best example being the issue of Gay-Marriage and the nature of how each state can decide for itself at this point if it is a legal practice or not, but if a federal law were to pass that either granted or denied the right to all citizens of the nation that would be nationwide legal practice from that point forward.

By granting a public option and in the same motion granting the state’s powers to establish a single-payer model is the best representation of Progressive Reformist action.

I would grant a lot more credit to the protestors of recent days to their commit to their cause and their willingness to do what it takes to heard, except for the facts that the values of non-violent protest seems to lost on far too many of their numbers and that the outright falsehoods coming from their mouths.

If there is a complete absence of logic and desired direction in any movement then ultimately there is one course in it’s direction: violence.

I understand a person if they speak about their fears about over reaching government powers into our lives. But I’m more interested to talk about The Patriot Act and The Homeland Security Department than I am to talk about a bill moving through Congress.

When the same group of people remained mute or even in support of expanding federalism when George W. Bush did it and then shout down their own representatives when they come to speak it becomes clear that some certain number of these people are just the most perverse of political partisans.

We the people do indeed need to find a way to take back the massive expanses in federal and executive powers but lacking a clear message beyond obstructionism of any government action regarding health care reform I am left to question the very motives of these protestors at their very core.

I also believe it to be true that a certain number of these people are paid-provocateurs working for the for-profit insurance agencies in order to make it appear that a vast majority of people support monopolies over the availability of health care in America.