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.

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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.