Sunday, August 05, 2007

GOP Healthcare Reform

I didn't catch it all, but tuned in when the Republican candidates were talking about healthcare and it all became so clear. I have Mitt and Rudy to thank for bringing it into focus. Tax credits for insurance payments and health savings accounts are a beautiful thing for their donors. Think about it - let's have the government subsidize the medical/pharmaceutical industry and then throw some money to the banking industry as well.

Until we get the GOP out of play the people are but pawns paid to spend as industry wishes. The government is in the hands, still, of the lobbyists and among the greatest contributors to campaigns are Pharma and banking.

Three words - single payer healthcare.

It is not the responsibility of government to protect business, but to protect and serve the people.

Protect us from the consortiums that contribute so heavily, please.

There is an assembly coming up in Los Angeles that I have been made aware of: Saturday, August 11th, from 1-3pm at Los Angeles City Hall. This is in support of State Senator Sheila Kuehl's bill SB840. I'll be there. Join me, please!


Anonymous Tim said...

Tax credits for insurance payments and health savings accounts are a beautiful thing for their donors.

But the more important question we should be asking is: Does it help the people it's supposed to help?

I don't notice any analysis of that sort in your article, here.

This is akin to the liberal/conservative debate on taxes. Progressives often insist that tax cuts help the wealthy. I expect they do, but it's far more relevant for me to ask whether they help the middle class and poor.

Until we get the GOP out of play the people are but pawns paid to spend as industry wishes. The government is in the hands, still, of the lobbyists...

I wish I could live in a world where only one party responded to lobbyists. In my world, both parties seem about equally beholden to lobbyists.

And, in real life, sometimes lobbyists advocate things I agree with, sometimes not. I'm sure, if you took a look at the details, you'd find the same picture.

Finally, it's just not that simple: As a conservative in many areas, I can tell you that we don't fear universal healthcare because some lobbyist paid us to hold that view.

We oppose it because we've looked into the subject, at whatever depth, and feel that, in the end, it will make healthcare in the US worse, including and especially for society's most vulnerable people. (Since the rich always seem to find some way around the system.)

It's not helpful to just dismiss everyone who disagrees with you as being craven, greedy, or immoral. Sometimes we just think you are wrong on the facts and disagree about policy -- and elect people who promise to uphold those views.

8/18/2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Yeah, but tim (and I really wonder about that lower case thing, but anyway...)

I can't imagine why someone with such well scripted opposing views such as yours would come to this obscure section of the web and spend the time to rant when nobody hear is listening.

Peace be with you, brother, you really need it.

And please, go away. I'll be deleting your comments from now on.

8/18/2007 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Yeah, but tim (and I really wonder about that lower case thing, but anyway...)

I type in my name in upper case, but it seem to post it as lower case.

I can't imagine why someone with such well scripted opposing views such as yours...

But I'm not working from a script. That's what I actually believe, CD. As best I can see, we share the same concerns. I just wondered if you'd be open to the evidence which changed my mind.

And I'm sorry if I'm reasonably intelligent (albeit verbose) and well-written. That's God's fault, not mine.

...would come to this obscure section of the web and spend the time to rant when nobody hear is listening.

I thought you were somebody worth talking to, "ChristianDemocrat".

And I thought, since you claim to be a fellow Christian (a conviction I associate with a devotion to truth, and brotherhood even in disagreement), you'd be willing to do or adopt whatever policy whatever helped people most, regardless of the source of the policy.

Or that you would be interested in bothering to persuade one mistaken person as to why your suggestion solutions are better for our country.

And please, go away. I'll be deleting your comments from now on.

I respect your request and will do so. I'm sorry I bothered you.

8/19/2007 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...


You would do well to answer the honest questions of an intelligent writer. There are those of us who have not come to conclusions about politics yet and nothing can help better than a well reasoned discussion between too people of opposing views. As a Christian, I yearn to find such a Christian debate – one where love and grace pervade and ideas are intelligently discussed. You never know who might be listening and your refusal to answer Tim’s points make you appear to have no answers. Your ungracious behavior make your words of peace anything but. Praise God you pray before posting, and God knows we will sometimes fail and become angry and regret it, but then why not remove the places that you’ve failed to ‘curb the anger’ or simply post an apology? Repenting of our sins cannot include leaving our angry words on the web for all to read. What would a non Christians learn about Christian forgiveness from that? This is a wonderful opportunity to extend peace to a brother in Christ whom you think doesn’t deserve it. Well, none of us deserves forgiveness and if we don’t forgive our brother God won’t forgive us. If you won’t make peace for Christ then maybe you can answer his questions so as to convince someone such as me that your political position is indeed the correct one!

8/20/2007 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with Janet!!

8/21/2007 7:52 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

I'll tell you where I am coming from:

1. I have found it best to not discuss politics with my Christian friends that happen to be Republican. We disagree, strongly, about many issues. That leads to a problem in discussing other things, and excluding each other to varying degree.

2. tim still hasn't said that he isn't allied with lobbyists or healthcare in some way. He has alluded to it in the politicspeak manner, but he hasn't said it outright.

3. Two people taking the time to support tim at this point really leads me to believe that you are here only because he sent you. Tell me, as Christians please, that you aren't here for that reason.

4. This blog is here to reach people looking to find an understanding that fits Christian and Democratic party ideals. There are many brought up in the GOP camp that begin to wonder at some point, "Am I really going to Hell because I am gay?" or "What about the poor, shouldn't we help them out a bit more, and why don't we?" Those people are the target of this blog. People that have already made up their mind should venture elsewhere.

5. My sense is that tim has no intention of considering an alternative view from that which he currently holds. Too many times I have been in discussions with GOP faithful and realized that they have no intention of changing their mind - much as is my case. It is not a fruitful use of time.

6. And my time is short these days. The new school year is starting up and my duties at church have multiplied. My work is, thankfully, getting busy again, and my time is better spent on anything other than debating points with someone I sense is only here to spar.

8/21/2007 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...

Dear Christian Democrat,

Thank you for responding with grace. As a Christian I will continue to tell the truth, and as a Christian I ask that you believe me.

Following Christ is more important than politics but I realize that I need to know something about politics to follow Christ in all of my life. I have searched a long time to find reasoned discussions on all sides and I’ve mostly come up empty handed. I have found precious few places where people speak reasonably and with grace. Tim’s blog is one of those places. I don’t know Tim, but I happened upon his blog and am only an observer (my only comment to him was that I appreciate his intelligent and respectful discussions). If he is shown to be wrong he publishes his change of mind with an apology – and I’m not just talking the little stuff. He may be quite wordy (I agree it takes more time to write more succinctly) but he is honest and intelligent and I meant it when I wrote that “nothing could help better than a reasoned discussion between two people of opposing views.” If you have no hope of convincing Tim, consider winning a reader who is looking for intelligent rebuttals to Tim’s points. He is no doubt a formidable opponent because he is well researched and has thought long and hard about many issues, but he is not an unfair opponent and from what I can see seeks to love the Lord with all his heart and so love his fellow man.

In summary according to your points . . .

1. Yes, political discussions among Christians are usually dividing, but then think about what progress could be made by a grace-filled discussion between Christians! If the aim is for truth not political faithfulness it can be a beautiful witness and great help to many people.

2. Tim’s indirect response to your indirect question was meant to say: he is not a lobbyist.

3. I was not sent by Tim (he does not know who “Janet” is). I followed a link from his blog in hopes of finding an intelligent, Christ-filled blog supporting Democratic politics.

4. I’m one of those questioning people.

5. Tim has changed his mind before and honestly wants to understand the beliefs of others as he holds them to be intelligent and caring as they claim to be. Otherwise I would not follow his blog.

6. Doing the work God has given you to do in your community is most important, but from observation I can say with confidence that Tim was not here simply to spar and your attention to Tim might well turn out to be quite productive.

8/21/2007 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Playtah said...

"Three words - single payer healthcare."

Amen, brother! Have you seen "SiCKO"? Fantastic movie that really shows some of the great points about a single payer system, unlike the typical socialized-medicine-means-we'll-all-be-communists type of thing we've been fed in the past.

"It is not the responsibility of government to protect business, but to protect and serve the people."

This is so true. This seems to be where we've really gotten off track. Greed seems to be at the heart of so many of our governments flaws. Money over people is the order of the day, unfortunately.

Great points!

8/21/2007 1:51 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Thanks Playtah, and Janet, and Tim, too.

Playtah - always nice to have someone at my back! Isn't that really the agape love that Jesus spoke of?

and Janet - I actually wrote most of this during lunch but then got a call, went to another site, closed it out and lost it all before posting. Darn! But here goes again -

You speak highly of Tim. I should be more considerate but it would be unprecedented in my experience for someone of his thinking to come around to my side of thinking. Still, I'll give it a shot here.

America spends about 17.9% of it's gross, or $2 trillion, on healthcare while leaving about 39% without coverage. Great Britain, France and Germany each spend about 8% of their gross on healthcare and cover everyone.

Where does that extra money we spend go and what does it get us?

That extra money goes into excessive profits, huge salaries, multiple times over in both cases for the # of companies in on the take, and for bribes in the form of campaign donations. All but the first are tax deductible!

What that extra money gets us is the single highest cause of bankruptcy in the nation. Not just for the uncovered, but for those that are covered as well. In fact, most of those bankruptcies triggered by medical bills were with people that had health insurance.

While most of us on the fortunate side of life do get pretty decent coverage and wonder aloud - "How can we rank 37th in the world in health care!?!" we haven't been to an emergency room lately, especially in the less white-bread part of town. Here in L.A. King-Drew was closed for good reason. It was horrible I've heard and read. Problem is that now there is one less emergency room for those that live around there to go to. By having our emergency rooms tapped out and overextended, giving shoddy care at a snail's pace, we drag our ranking downward.

My thinking is that this nation could save about $1 trillion a year by going to a government run single payer health care system. That is the calculation of half of what we currently spend as that is the difference between what we spend and the UK et al spend.

Amazingly, that would cover ALL Americans and yes, all visitors, too. That isn't the plan for SB840, where this topic started, as only registered Californians would be covered, but on a national plan in the vein of the other national examples even visitors, too, would be covered.

So let's see, we now have an additional trillion dollars a year. What good could we do with that! I say pay off the debt, but call me foolish thinking of our kids.

I was going to say this is the single most important issue in America right now, but that may be a bit of a stretch. It is possibly, though, the most important issue that has an easy solution.

Single Payer Government Run Healthcare.

Why would it work? Well, it would have it's problems getting going, I imagine. Greed would still be in the way as it comes together, I am sure. Dennis Kucinich mentioned at Sunday's debate that Humana Healthcare (I think) stood to make a killing if they get control as some preliminary plans show. I don't know the basis of that statement, but believe in my heart of hearts that there can be no place for current corporations, or any corporation, in this new system.

Government run. Yeah, I know, all the worries about corruption are valid, but we have to move forward believing in the human good while punishing, severely, those that take advantage of their position. This is something that both parties need to look at and work on together. I think the Dems have a better handle on it, but they aren't all pure, for sure.

I forget the other points I got to previously except this one -

Tim - if you will say that you have no connection to the medical/insurance industry whatsoever I offer the greatest of apologies and invite your return. I worry that should this conversation continue we may wind up in a shouting match that personifies the separation of the parties currently, and I want to avoid that. Truly it is that divisiveness that allows the American people to be played by the corporate players. It is up to us to rise above it and get what America really needs: a government by the people and for the people.

Oh, yes! One other remaining thought - ask your doctor how they feel about having Blue Cross and the like replaced by a government run single payer health care plan. Odds are they will say one replaces the other and not much would change. If that is the case, wouldn't you like to save $1 trillion per year AND cover everyone with equal quality care?

8/21/2007 3:27 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Two more thoughts -

Yes. Saw "Sicko." Not as good as "Farenheit 9/11" but still several points very clearly made. For those that can't stand Michael Moore, get over it and see the movie. It is that important to an equal footing of understanding the issues.

And apologies for my verbosity. It IS easier to just write and be done with it!

8/21/2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger wiserd911 said...

First, full disclosure. I found this blog through Tim's blog, though he certainly didn't "send" me here. While I've argued with Tim on quite a few occasions, I can attest that he's pretty thorough and willing to change his mind if proven wrong. If you think your beliefs can hold up to contrary evidence, and you're willing to consider evidence based on its merits, he's worth your scarce time talking to.

I have found it best to not discuss politics with my Christian friends that happen to be Republican. We disagree, strongly, about many issues.

The nice thing about the web is that you don't have much to lose.

It's a terrible pity that people can't even talk about things anymore. I worry about this society's growing inability to debate important issues, or even
discuss them in the presence of those who disagree with them.

"What about the poor, shouldn't we help them out a bit more, and why don't we?"

This seems to be an unfair framing of the issues. Many conservatives ( I consider myself a political moderate, but want each side to be represented fairly) believe that private charities are more effective than public welfare. This may be true or false. It may be that people will pay more towards welfare if they're forced to by the government than they would pay to voluntary charities if they were allowed to keep their money through tax cuts, and this justifies forcible welfare funding through taxation. Or not. Or tax cuts might lead to increased investment and thus increased salaries (there's some evidence for this) ... or not. But these things are assumed, not proved.

"How can we rank 37th in the world in health care!?!"

I would be suspicious of this figure for a variety of reasons. The statistics from country to country vary wildly. Many European countries record a baby who dies a particular number of hours after birth as 'stillborn' wheras US figures would record such a baby as a live birth with a very short lifespan. Differences like this impact statistics and "rank".

Also, it's worth considering that lifestyle is far more important to lifespan than healthcare (Asian Americans have health problems and lifespan more similar to Asians than other Americans. Drugs and STDs have a far greater role in health problems than a simple lack of doctors and rehab centers. Poor diet and exercise causes more cases of diabetes than lack of medical care, etc.

Given that we have limited resources, would our money be better spent on cheap prevention or expensive treatment once people have the disease?

Given how poorly the US Government has regulated the insurance industry, why should I believe they'd do a better job with healthcare? Granted, there are many problems with healthcare currently.
What I don't get is how you can, on the one hand, acknowledge government corruption and on the other hand assume that rent-seeking behavior will stop if we give the government more power.

Having government run an institution does not eliminate human self interest, though it may change the focus of that self-interest.

A local big box store was able to get itself voted some heavy tax breaks to put in a store local residents were strongly opposed to.

If there was a way to punish such people for their rent seeking behavior, I'd happily use it. So far as I can see, there isn't.

My thinking is that this nation could save about $1 trillion a year by going to a government run single payer health care system.

I'll agree that standardization of what is and is not covered as care under a particular plan could remove a lot of the expensive (though currently necessecary) litigation which increases healthcare costs. (Assuming that's what you're looking to for the cost savings) I'm not sure that government run healthcare is the only way to achieve these savings, however.

Best of luck to you,

Ryan W.

8/26/2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Hi Ryan -

And thanks for your comments. Yes, it is the division of the people into separate warring camps that the two parties love. It keeps us on either side rather than voting for third parties. It also rallies the troops when an enemy is perceived. I'll admit to being a moderate and in search of the first party that could control the federal government and keep it clean. As I've said before, the Dems are closer to this, but far from perfect.

Your comment "Given that we have limited resources, would our money be better spent on cheap prevention or expensive treatment once people have the disease?" leads me to two thoughts - our resources are not so limited, they are just poorly spent and yes, of course, prevention is better. The question for this becomes, "How do we get people to stop eating so much and start exercising more?"

And I will disagree with your concept of denying whatever treatments may be denied in an attempt to control costs. My sense of things is that everyone could be covered for all accepted treatments and we would still save that trillion dollars, give or take a few hundred million.

Government Run Single Payer Healthcare for all!

8/27/2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger wiserd911 said...

Hey CD. Thanks for the forum. :)

The question for this becomes, "How do we get people to stop eating so much and start exercising more?"

I'm not sure we can do better than education, here. If people can't represent their own self interest, I doubt someone else can do it for them. One strong correlation with obesity is lack of sleep. (you need sleep to produce HGH. Without HGH you'll feel tired.) I'm willing to bet people would exercise more if they got more sleep. They'd probably sleep more if they had more free time. Either we believe people are capable of doing what's best for them, and let the chips fall where they may, or we don't and start setting up the dictatorship of the intellectuals. And we could ban partially hydrogenated oils. I'd be all for that. Of course, all this will fail if people spend their extra money on immoral pursuits, I admit. But I'm not sure what government could do to change that.

Which would you rather have? $100,000 when you're 30 years old, or $800,000 in medical expenses when you're 75? Which could be better used to improve your health and quality of life?

And I will disagree with your concept of denying whatever treatments may be denied in an attempt to control costs. My sense of things is that everyone could be covered for all accepted treatments and we would still save that trillion dollars, give or take a few hundred million.

I'm sorry, I don't follow. How do we get this trillion, exactly? I'd be in favor of drug reimportation from countries which price-set so we get the same deals that they do. We're in economic competition, after all. It's not fair to put our citizens at an unfair disadvantage with no return. But drug development is already an economic roulette wheel, not a cash cow. Only the few most profitable companies survive. If you've looked at investing in pharmeceutical startups (my degree, which I'm not using, is in biotech, so I have looked at this a bit. No, I have no current economic interest in the medical/pharmaceutical industry outside of being a potential consumer... well, a little money in a S. American health fund but it doesn't influence my decision one way or another.) Pharmaceutical startups are a losing bet. The major companies are the lottery winners that are left after the majority of money-losing investments have been cleared away. I think increased competition in this area would be helpful, if we could manage it. Perhaps more gov't support for herbal medicine like Germany has.

To clarify, by "accepted" you mean FDA approved?

Everything is a cost benefit analysis. You can always give less care to one group and reallocate that money where it would be better used. Given that the vast majority of healthcare is spent at the end of life, increasing life by roughly a year or so requires funds which would probably be used much more effectively other places (better neonatal care, nutrition, etc.) Even the insurance industry agrees that the haggling over what can be billed and what can't be is so inefficient that it's returns are questionable. I'm opposed to republican attempts to cap lawsuits for this reason, though I'd like to see some incentive for protection in exchange for improved behavior (better reporting of adverse incidents, proactive offering of compensation, etc.) I'd be up for some government enforced clarification of insurance, and for government funding of emergency room visits (currently an unfunded mandate). I just don't think the government has done a good job of keeping the insurance agencies honest. Why would it do better with more power? It'll have to get supplies from somewhere (i.e. corporations.) And you can bet those corporations will be get their money's worth from their lobbyists. Some industries will find very profitable ways to work a socialized healthcare system, I'm sure.

But why single payer? Why not let a not for profit, non-taxpayer funded, gov't run insurance agency operate and compete with the for-profit agencies. Then let people and doctors choose which they like best.

There are a lot of problems with healthcare currently. I'm just not sure gov't run healthcare is the solution, or that it has the benefits promised. Is there a specific country you're looking to model the US after so I could see what kinds of problems that they have with their system?

8/28/2007 8:16 PM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

I find it amazing that this thread has the legs it has, and that all who contribute seem to try to obfuscate or deny the realities of the situation. Very simply, America is paying way more than we should for healthcare which is being legislated to protect the industry, and we need to change that.

I get my savings of $1 trillion from the simple math of taking the $2 trillion we spend on healthcare and cutting it in half because that is the difference of what we spend as a percentage of GDP as compared to industrialized countries that have a single-payer system in place. Many sources will confirm this information and some will actually show we are putting MORE than half our healthcare spending into corporate profits and "overhead" which includes vast salaries and bonuses.

The reason for a single-payer system rather than a government-run competitive organization is that the single-payer system only works when it covers everyone. If there are private companies involved they will cherry-pick the healthy ones and leave those patients with real problems to the government system.

8/29/2007 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christian democrat:

I can certainly appreciate and respect your point of view even if it is on the opposite side of the political spectrum as mine. I hope that you can do the same for my comments.

Regarding health care, why should this be the government's responsibility? Jesus commanded the church to help the poor, the tired, the sick. This is not the responsibility of the government. He did not command Herod or Caesar to help the poor. We as the church should be giving our abumdance to the poor and to help the sick. Unfortunately, too many of us don't.

You're right about one thing. The government should not be there to help big business. This is not the government's responsibility either. The market should be controlled by the "invisible hand". Unfortunately, too many conservatives have forgotten their ideology.

Back to my point....we as the church need to be doing more to help the poor and the sick. It's the responisbility of the people, of the church, and not the government to pay for such programs. It's just like these celebrities who demand that the government pay for certain things while they fly around in their jets and buy their Gucci suits and Prada bags. It's rather hypocritical isn't it?

Thank you for listening and I hope to hear back from you.

In Christ's Love,

Albert <><

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." -Gerald Ford

8/31/2007 8:14 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Albert -

First - awesome fish by your signature. Love that.

My sense of the government needing to be in on healthcare is simply because the market controls haven't worked, there is vast collusion amongst the vendors, and worse, they have bought off many of the elected officials as well. Only by eliminating those business interests can we find some sort of sanity in the pricing of healthcare services to Americans. I'll go a step further and say that there should be no outsourcing of the oversight and organization of this new governmental entity and that there needs to be very strict punishments set in place for those new employees that take advantage of the system. No lunches, no tickets, no gifts whatsoever from the companies that the government buys from.

As you so rightly point out, Jesus called for the church to help the poor, but too few of us do. As that is the case, to make the case for those that are active in the church to support a government run organization that does these things may be seen as an extension of the works of the church.

I'm not saying this is you, but why is it that many of the GOP faithful want the government to legislate God's law as they read it under the old covenant given to a select few, but not Jesus' Word that was given to the many?

By your logic, "It's the responsibility of the ... church pay for such programs," we would all need to kick in I-don't-know-how-much but a darned lot, to pay for the programs that could pay for themselves if we just got the greed out of the healthcare game. Also, going back to your point of not enough Christians (and other faithful) donating to such programs, I can look to the denomination I am aware of and state with surety that most have churches in wealthier areas already donate pretty heavily just to keep the church doors open in less fortunate areas. Aside from the Catholic church, I don't think many have deep pockets.

I stand to my number crunching of being able to cover everyone in America - and I mean everyone - while saving about a trillion dollars a year. What fiscal conservative wouldn't love that!

FWIW - I'm no fan of celebrities, or limousine liberals and conservatives for that matter, that speak but don't act. Raising awareness is a good thing, but when the result is what that poor Miss Teen of North Carolina came up with the other night, it is wasted effort.

And lastly, I am not a fan of big government either. I do, however, want one with enough guff to stand up for the people when it should. This is such a case.

Peace be with you.


8/31/2007 9:29 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

quick comment. Here's a good blog comment by Megan McArdle arguing against the study that claimed medical expenses were the #1 cause of bankruptcy.

9/04/2007 9:32 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

Hi Ryan -

It's dangerous to use the word "all" but I think it safe to say that all studies have flaws in them. It is the percentage of error frequently cited and often left unspoken. FWIW, the mortgage bankruptcies are probably too recent to show up in comparative studies but there was an interesting editorial in today's L.A. Times about the "mortgage crisis" that showed no empathy and you can count me among those with little care for those that got into bad mortgages. There is no way to prop this one up, we have to take our well-earned bruises here.

But that isn't what this forum is about!

I had a lengthy conversation with one of the few stout Republican friends I have and can speak at length with. Almost entirely about healthcare. The most interesting point that came out of it anew was the concept that most folks in favor of business-as-usual as regards healthcare in America (aside from those employed by said industry) are employees with insurance.

I would suggest that anyone with viable contacts in management talk to them about healthcare costs and what they have done to the bottom line. Aside from trimming benefits while raising costs and employee contributions, this is possibly the single quickest growing cost that many businesses have.

9/04/2007 10:03 AM  

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