Area Democrats laud 'historic' health care bill Around Town, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:50 am
A bill reforming America's health care system, what one Bay Area congressman said was "one of the most important bills in the past 40 years," was approved Sunday night by the U.S. House of Representatives, with seven votes to spare. After expected Senate approval of House changes, it will go to President Obama to be signed.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 22, 2010, 10:37 AM
Posted by dsoldit, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm
As an historic health care reform bill got passed just yesterday. There are very strong opinions both pro and con. It is our health that is being affected after all. Health, that which makes us able to get up in the morning, function at any type of level, and be able to be. If we were not passionate about it, I would wonder more about our condition.
Posted by Angelgroove, a resident of the Willowgate neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm
At last we have come full circle demanding the wealthy to once again pay their way. Since Ronald Reagan erased the Kennedy era tax on the rich we have gone up and slid way down. NASA stumbled and has not gotten anywhere lately with the tax levels turned off. So now you millionaires pay another paltry 3.5%, big deal and we all for the most part get health insurance that is equitable. I can only hope this also will help the wicked evil of the homeless's health.
As in the 60's you all did so well and the country went to the moon. Now we finally have a level playing field with the other G8 countries and now finally the medical benefit cannot be a noose around the employed necks wanting to change companies because fearing losing their coverage.
Posted by Gumdrop, a resident of the Jackson Park neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Right, wrong, or indifferent, a change had to happen. We will never progress if we refuse to change. Even if the healthcare bill isn't right, we have taken the important steps to start incorporating change into our lives, which is necessary to grow. New ideas can be tweaked, redefined, or scrapped altogether, but at least the change happened and maybe we'll all be less fearful when more change occurs. If fear can be less of an obstacle, then I feel we can make more progress without all the waste of time.
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm
Thom - I guess you mean ask your doctor if you can afford health insurance and have a doctor, don't have a pre-exisiting condition that prevents you from having health insurance (from the original rationers), etc.
If you don't have a doctor (yet) to ask then you can see what the AMA thinks:
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:15 pm
"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money to spend." - Margaret Thatcher
Everything the Fed gov puts its hands on is a fiscal disaster. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Department of Defense, and The Post Office are all poster children for one or more of waste, cost overruns, or outright fraud.
For some odd reason our naive liberal friends, along with believing that money somehow grows on trees, seem to think that this time things will be different. It won't, and it will be grossly inefficient and far more expensive than any CBO estimates.
In the words of Karl Marx, I guess it's "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"
Posted by Red, a resident of another community, on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:15 pm
You’re all delusional. There are those who I expect to demonstrate disappointing intellect and then there are those who believe this is a real change. Take a breath, take a look, grow-up, and read the damn thing. You obviously have access to the internet go to the U.S. Congressional website; you can find it posted there. You aren’t getting anything unless you’re an insurance or pharmaceutical company CEO. Why do you idiots think healthcare and insurance industry stock values went up today?
As far as the “rich” footing the bill:
A) we should all pay our fair share,
B) the “rich” aren’t going to pay diddly ,
C) the bill simply accelerates the transfer of wealth from the middle (working class) to the uber-rich that began under Reagan.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:48 pm
@angelgroove: Those reporting adjusted gross income of more than $250,000 to the IRS make up about 2 percent of households. Those folks earn 24.1 percent of all income, and pay 43.6 percent of all personal federal income taxes, according to Tax Policy Center figures
So 2% of the population is paying 43.6 percent of all personal federal income taxes. And that is not paying their fair share? (Personally I'm favor of a flat tax. That way everyone pays their "fair share")
But why do we have to penalize people for being wealthy? While it is true that there are those folks who made their millions by questionable means, it is equally true that most people who have become wealthy have done so through hard work, personal risk, and innovation. They have also created business' that hire people and add economic value to the country. Many of them are also very philanthropic and give freely of their wealth to charitable causes. These are not bad or evil people
That should be applauded and celebrated not resented and punished. It is what makes this country great and so different from the mediocrity that effects many European countries (which I lived in for many years before moving to the US)
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 8:42 am
Red, and others:
It's not nearly everything we may have wanted or needed, but it is a big step in the right direction. Given the current polarized dysfunctional political environment, the best we could get. ( Republican strategy partially worked - legislation was passed but it is watered down.) Hopefully more comes later after people appreciate the incremental improvement and get rid of the obstructionist in office.
10 THINGS EVERY AMERICAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HEALTH CARE REFORM
1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.2
2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.3
3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.4
4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.5
5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.6
6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.7
7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.8
8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.9
9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.10
10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.11
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:26 am
@digger: moveon.org is not exactly an unbiased organization. For example, the cost of Medicaid is being pushed onto the states, many of whom simply cannot afford it. Moreover, Medicaid recipients have a very difficult time finding physicians who will accept patients from tha program. Not to mention that Medicaid is just about bankrupt as it is.
Additionally the savings you mention are from preliminary CBO numbers and are predicated on 500M cuts in Medicare, as well congress has conveniently left a very expensive "doctors fix" out of the bill.
These are just a couple of examples. Remember nothing in life is fir free, and I something sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Posted by Mr. NWO, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 12:18 pm
I am i favor of health care reform but not so much of the idea that i will be forced to buy it or else. Whenever someone threatens you to do something, it is obviously a sign that that person or thing is way out of line.
I tend to be in the middle of politics but I have noticed many outcry's of government overreach and that is a very real threat that we face as a country. America is a beacon of hope and prosperity but it certainly lacks visual appearance in places like Oakland, several neighborhoods in sf, East Palo Alto and many more. My question that i want to pose to Liberal democrats that basically run CA, is why not actually try and live in one of these neighborhoods. When you actually live in the "ghetto" you'll notice a different set of mind set that people use to survive on a day to day basis.
When either Republicans finally learn to accept other people in their conservative circles or Democrats finally learn to fully integrate their noble causes with noticeable minorities, then we will have some change to political structure. The way i see it now, the same old Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans still run our country without having real people input in to the political machine.
Posted by USA, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm USA is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Digger, the problem is this effort is that is has been supported by misrepresentations, cherry-picked stats, and vilification of the insurance industry starting with the idea that peoples’ concern over healthcare is a mandate for the Democrat’s particular solution.
The CBO numbers are just the latest misrepresentations. The press has been repeatedly pointing out that the CBO is non-partisan which is largely true, but they leave the critical details. The CBO is an idiot savant that given a piece of legislation and assumptions will dutifully calculate the budget impact of that legislation regardless of how twisted the legislation or how unlikely the assumptions are to actually occur.
If you scratch the surface, you will see that the CBO’s health care numbers are a house of cards built on ridiculous assumptions.
Example 1: The Democrats were looking into taxing high-end health care plans which would affect unions, who surprise, surprise sounded a lot like Republicans when faced with have to pay more taxes. Last week, the Democrats bought the AFL-CIO’s endorsement by pushing off that tax until 2018. By no coincidence, 2018 will be the first election cycle after Obama is out of office (assuming he is re-elected in 2012), so his administration will not have to deal with the issue. The unions are happy because eight years is plenty of time for them to water down or eliminate that tax. Could you imagine the Teamsters in 2018 saying – golly gee, we have had a free ride for eight years, so it’s high time we start paying lots of money to the government!
Example 2: The government just took over much of the student loan industry. They claim there will be a $60 billion savings, which is beyond silly, but that is a whole other discussion The student loan takeover was included in the health care bill. What do student loans have to do with health care? Not much. The student load takeover was included to help bulk-up the heath care “savings” numbers. If their cause was just, why did they resort to such tricks of financial legerdemain?
For eight years, we had to listen to the Liberals pick apart every little issue with the Bush administration and blow everything up in to a major conspiracy and constitutional crisis. Now, after Obama has already made a huge increase in the deficit on top of Bush’s deficit, he is adding add almost a trillion dollars in new spending and is telling us that the deficit will go down. What disturbs me the most about this whole thing is that that these same Liberals are not even questioning these ridiculous numbers. They are sheep.
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm
It's called politics. You wheel and deal, make compromises, etc. to get legislation through, and hopefully it's not too ugly. Are you shocked?
And are you serious in accusing the pro health-care side of misrepresentations - death panels anyone! Insurance industry vilification is pretty much self inflicted. Both sides cherry-pick stats - that's why we have the CBO.
Obviously our health care system is terribly broken; it's unsustainable, economically destructive, and unfair. From the sabotage of Clinton's proposal through 8 years of Bush's presidency, the Republican's only health-care mandate is to preserve the status quo as the situation gets worse.
Posted by reader, a resident of another community, on Mar 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm
"For eight years, we had to listen to the Liberals pick apart every little issue with the Bush administration and blow everything up in to a major conspiracy and constitutional crisis."
Only after the Obama administration lies our country into another gratuitous, avoidable and counterproductive war will I entertain a comparison between it and the Bush administration. To compare the nefarious activities of those guys ("little issues"?) with anything going on today in either party is dangerously amnesic.
As for the health care bill, I seriously don't think anyone on this forum (or, probably, in Washington) has any real idea of what it will do - it's just too big, thorny and complex. But that won't stop this country's foremost nutcases, the Glen Becks among us, from claiming the total annihilation of democracy, etc.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 3:03 pm
@digger. CBO is absolutely non-partisan; however they score bills based on the data they are provided. Think of them as a big calculator. Garbage in, garbage out
As an example, in the Health Care bill, congress is claiming that they will cut 500B from Medicare. You and I both know that this is highly unlikely to happen especially since it will fall to some future congress. Moreover, they are double counting this saving i.e the cuts will keep medicare solvent *and* at the same time uses the savings to pay for healthcare.
Congress also deliberately kept the doctors fix - a $210 billion plan to keep doctors who treat Medicare patients from experiencing severe cuts in their annual federal reimbursements - out of the healthcare bill.
How about the fact that we pay for the first 10 years of the program, but only receive 6 years of benefits i.e. we start paying into the program almost immediately, but the full "benefits" are not received for another four years.
The CBO itself has admitted that their initial scoring was preliminary and that the further out projections are quite tenuous. We tend to have a very bad track record of underestimating the cost of government spending. Did you know that Medicare was projected to cost 12billion by 1990 but it actually cost 107 billion?
But I tell you what concerns me most. It is the individual mandate provision of the bill. Never before have Americans been forced by the federal government to buy something merely for existing. Just by living you have to buy a product and if you don't you will be fined. This just gives so much power to the government. History shows us that once you give up freedom it is remarkably hard to get it back
Posted by reader, a resident of another community, on Mar 23, 2010 at 3:19 pm
Steve says, "Never before have Americans been forced by the federal government to buy something merely for existing."
I'm curious why the CA rules forcing us to buy car insurance don't raise an eyebrow in all this. I see two obvious differences - 1) this is a state and not a federal rule, and 2) you don't HAVE to drive - but really, setting those things aside the similarities seem much stronger to me. CA is where we live, and let's face it, you pretty much DO have to drive.
So is this fed health insurance move so much different? How so?
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm
steve - your points on the CBO estimates are well taken. It can't be clear how much this will save or cost down the road. As there can be some un-predicable costs, there can also be some unpredictable savings based on health care delivered earlier to more people, etc. There is at least some thought and work that went into trying to rationale costs.
In regards to the individual mandate - well the system only works if the risk can be spread around to everybody. If 'healthy' people choose not to purchase insurance and became unexpectedly sick - then what?? And let's face it, we're trying to patch together a solution that overlays our current not so optimal system. If we had a single-payer government sponsored system the premiums would be 'hidden' in your taxes.
Posted by American, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm
I doubt anybody is going to work hard and become successful just so they can be heavily taxed and villified. Most rich people actually deserve their money, and shouldn't have it stolen by the government so it can be given to those with less money.
Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:44 pm
digger, to get a better idea why some of us are concerned about the cost of this expansion of government involvement in health care you have to look at the history on estimates vs. actual cost of similar expansions. Take Medicare, for example, its actual costs have been 900% of the original estimate.
We already know, going out of the gate, that the "doc fix" was pulled out of this bill because it made it look bad in CBO analysis, and we also know that Congress plans to pass it soon.
Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 23, 2010 at 9:47 pm
MoveOn makes assumptions that aren't warranted. 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage ONLY IF the health insurance companies actually stay in business AND premiums don't skyrocket. Those unintended consequences are likely to happen.
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2010 at 9:04 am
mike - health insurances companies (and drug companies for that matter) will do just fine with this new legislation. The (stock) market has chimed in on that already. They are happy to get millions of new customers. Premiums may go down and pigs may fly.
And I don't think you can compare the costs of medicare with this new legislation. They are very different. the current plan is not a public option (which i support and hopefully we eventually get). It will subsidize premiums for those who fall below a certain income level, so they can buy private insurance - perhaps through an insurance exchange. Yes this is Glenn Becks/Sarah Palin's apocalyptic vision of a government takeover of health care!! .
Medicare costs is just a symptom of one of the real problems with the health system in America which is the soaring costs. It is well known how much more we pay for health care per person versus other developed countries. And how American companies are at a competitive disadvantage - a car made by GM in the US has more health care costs build into it ~2k per car - than steel. There is still alot of work to do.
Why business friendly Republicans don't realize that this is as much an economical issue that threatens our future, as it is a social issue - and engages in a sincere debate - is beyond me.
There were attempts at the beginning of the debate to incorporate some ideas regarding end of life counseling, attempts to limit over-treatment, educate consumers etc. but of course the fear mongers destroyed any civilized discussion regarding this.
Posted by Atziluth, a resident of the North Whisman neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2010 at 10:21 am
@digger - "Medicare costs is just a symptom of one of the real problems with the health system in America which is the soaring costs. It is well known how much more we pay for health care per person versus other developed countries."
Well, I am glad that we agree on this. But here is the thing - soaring costs are a very natural consequence of the way that our healthcare system is set up and of the incentives it is based on. Before you say that you disagree, please, please take a minute to read the following article which I had already posted above:
Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm
digger, reasons health insurance companies may do just fine:
* New subsidized customers, new customers from mandate
Reason they may not:
* People can get out of the mandate by paying a fine that will be much cheaper than paying insurance premiums.
* Have to accept people with pre-existing conditions. Probably innocuous on its own, but coupled with the first bullet, it allows people to wait until sick to get insurance.
* The bill dictates minimum coverage for insurance policies, killing the simpler, more affordable high-deductible catastrophic plans that a lot of self-insured people currently use.
* The basic way in which most medical bills are paid remains unchanged. The insurance company pays for you. No incentives in the system for the actual consumer to seek reduction in price.
Put those factors together, and you can't just wave your hands and say, "Oh, they'll do fine."
As for the rest of your comment, I think Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, etc. are all idiots. I'm not a Republican. I never brought up anything about death panels -- I thought that was a silly exaggeration.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 24, 2010 at 11:03 pm
@reader you said it best yourself. Driving is a choice. I don't have to drive. I can take the bus, a train, a taxi, a plane. With this healthcare bill I have no choice. I have to buy insurance.
This is a case of the camel getting its nose under the tent. Once the government can mandate you to buy something merely for existing it opens a huge can of worms. It is such a broad and unprecedented interpretation of the Constitution's commerce clause and it is ripe for abuse
Posted by reader, a resident of another community, on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:15 am
Actually though Steve, you are in fact taxed just for existing - or at least just for earning any kind of income as an adult American (which is not a choice- you have to do it). Bottom line is you get taxed, one way or another, sure as you die. And the reason youre taxed is that the gov't needs money (leaving aside how well or how poorly they spend it) to maintain itself as a gov't and to provide the services such as national security that we as a nation require.
So isn't this really just another kind of inevitable tax? For a service? So the question really is, do we require this service of health care, and if so, is this the best way to deliver it, why or why not.......
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:22 am
Mike - you seem very worried about the health insurance companies.
Under 'why they may not do fine' you forgot to mention that they won't be able to drop people who have coverage but get sick. That will put a nick in their profits.
Really, I think more compassion should be directed to the people who can't get insurance or lose their insurance, rather than the companies.
But in any case, check yahoo finance for AET (Aetna) and see how their stock price is doing. The 'market' is alot better at figuring this out than you or me.
The ideal of incentived HSA plans to get consumers more involved with their health care choices is interesting and should be a choice. however it certainly is not for everybody.
And there are other ways to manage costs and improve care - if only there could be a civilized discussion that doesn't veer into the government takeover hysteria. There are 'liberal' and 'conservative' ideas that can be combined to move forward.
Two of the best hospitals (Mayo and Cleveland Clinics) in the world manage to cut costs and improve care thru integrated care, IT, single payment per issue, doctors on salary, etc. And certainly patient involvement in paying costs is a part of it.
Posted by steve, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Mar 25, 2010 at 11:56 am
@reader You final sentence is the crux of the issue for sure
Strangely enough I would have actually preferred it if they had gone ahead and levied a tax as doing so is obviously and clearly within the powers of Congress - and this from a conservative! I really don't like the unprecedented overreach of the individual mandate, as I think it cedes much power to the federal government.
Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm
re: "Mike - you seem very worried about the health insurance companies."
That was just a cheap shot, digger. You think it might just be that I'm a little worried about health insurance companies staying in business because we all need insurance companies around in order to acquire insurance. Doesn't seem very compassionate to pass a bill that makes insurance even more expensive and harder to get because you didn't want to consider that maybe you don't know all the answers, maybe your pet ideas could have unintended consequences, and it doesn't always work to centrally dictate your good intentions.
And looking at insurance companies' stock prices, while a weak indicator, is hardly conclusive proof of any point. Investors get it wrong all the time.
re: "The ideal of incentived HSA plans to get consumers more involved with their health care choices is interesting and should be a choice. however it certainly is not for everybody."
Can the rest of us who would do just fine with something like that, have them please?
Posted by digger, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2010 at 11:33 am
Sorry for any cheap shots. But I guess we have reached an impasse when you claim that this legislation that will cover 20-30 million more people who can't get health insurance now, is not very compassionate. We will have to see how things play out. There are always unknowns and un-intended consequences. Some aspects of the health reform legislation will work out, others may not. Doing nothing is a choice also with a set of consequences and unknowns..
It is unfortunate that there are not more 'conservative' ideas in this legislation such as tort reform and HSA incentives (is that a conservative idea ??). I think that would have made it a better overall plan and more importantly gave everybody more ownership. But why that did not happen is another big discussion. I think the Republicans were mainly interested in having health care reform be Obama's Waterloo - a little too much catering to the tea-party wing of the party. But I know there is another side to that story. It's really a dysfunctional environment in Washington - both sides can take credit for that.
To quote the VP, this is a "big f***ing deal." And as they're saying, Obama and the democrats own 'health care' from now on. How this plays out over the next few years will be decisive in the political arena as it is for this country's overall future. I'm optimistic.
Posted by Mike Laursen, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Mar 26, 2010 at 9:39 pm
Health Savings Accounts were originally a libertarian idea. The first major party politician I heard take up the idea was Barbara Boxer, long before any Republican.
Too bad it wasn't considered. The combination of health care savings accounts, high-deductible insurance, and tax breaks to individuals equal to the tax breaks given to corporations who provide health insurance for employees would have been a much better basis for reform, respectful of citizens' freedom, individualism, and right to hold on to some of the wealth they earn.
Insurance is not going to be able to cover all the medical needs of an aging population. Perhaps nothing can at this point. In the long term, the only viable solution to providing health care for folks as they reach old age is to let us all accumulate some wealth over our lifetimes instead of spending it all for us on real wars, metaphorical wars, and bureaucracy.