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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Math check

One does not need 80 votes in the United States Senate to pass fundamental health care reform.

One needs 50, plus guts.

The Democratic Party has 60.

Comments (32)

Do they? Because they sure don't act like they do. The Dems act like they don't have a clue what being the majority party means.

But no guts.


Disheartening is a word that comes to mind.

Five yrs ago the right wing had Frist, DeLay, Cheney, etc., to push through whatever they wanted.

And we get, what?

It takes 50 who don't have to worry about their re-election chances. This proposal is not popular with the majority of people out there who vote, something you seem to want to glide over. Let me remind you, this is exactly how Hillary, et. al., managed to lose the Congress in 1994.

This proposal is not popular with the majority of people out there who vote

Really? You shouldn't believe everything that Hannity tells you. Democrats will be in more trouble if nothing happens than they will if something serious gets passed.

This proposal is not popular with the majority of people out there who vote

Exactly what is the proposal?

They need 51 to pass it but 60 to be filibuster proof. The issue is there are quite a few dems who so far look like they wont vote yes on this which means they don't have a filibuster proof majority.

FYI, the latest polls now show 51% of the people are against what's been put out there so far. I think a truly bi partisan bill could pass but the far lefts wet dream of a bill wont pass.

I think a truly bi partisan bill could pass but the far lefts wet dream of a bill wont pass.

I don't think you understand what is being proposed or what the left (far or near) wants. The left's dream bill would be single-payer. Barring that, a strong public option. Barring that, measures that would at least hold out a hope of extending coverage to the uninsured, encouraging competition and bringing a little humanity to health insurance in this country. But except for PA Arlen and the gals from Maine, Republicans won't go for anything.

Darrin, is it a wet dream to want affordable health insurance that's not in the business of selectively denying and rationing care, based on how its going to impact the profit column? That's how it's done currently with the for profit healthcare providers. Their death panels decide who is going to live, be left with huge debts and even die...and yet the corporate media who has many people from the insurance agencies sitting on the boards of the media groups, don't seem to see it that way... Do you wonder why? Do you see any conflicts there?

Which patients should die because it makes the balance sheet look good every quarter? Im not even including the uninsured in my comments, Im referring to the people who pay monthly premiums only to find out when push comes to shove, their claims are denied, severely cut in the reimbursement rates and often times their policy's are retro-actively cancelled when big dollars disease care is the diagnosis...

The polls Im hearing about have stated between 77% and 82% of the people want healthcare reform..

So, Im just curious, which one of the people you know and care about should be the first to die because their healthcare provider "death panel" rationed or denied their claims?

I have high deductible healthcare, $5000 and with no doctors visits.. and even at that, I still have concerns that any claim I may make will still leave me with a huge amount of debt... the outs that today's insurance providers use is the "of covered benefit" clause.. that saves them lots of money.. I asked my provider what the covered benefits are and the clerk says they can't tell me, or they won't..They said I have to file a claim and then they can tell me... is that because they want to be selective when reviewing claims, thus ensuring they get the better half of the deal...

PS - did you know that FOX News went to court to win the right to lie? It's considered a 1st amendment freedom now.. that case stemmed from 2 FOX journalists who were told to lie about the effects of hormones in milk if I recall correctly... Sean, Oreilly, Beck are all brands of FOX...

Does it strike you as odd that senior citizens get up in these rallies and speak out against socialized care while they are living off the benefits of social security and medicare? Doesn't it strike you as odd how people sucking off the tit of the federal treasury can be so mistaken about just where their benefits are coming from? And then there was that guy who claims he was assaulted at one of those rallies and now he's asking for donations to help pay for his hospital bill.. and he was there at that rally standing on the side against healthcare reform..

And you want me and 10's and 20's of millions of others like me, to have our futures evaluated by people who you claim in polls want everything to stay as it is? Do you want all of us who say something is terribly wrong in the way healthcare insurance is offered to have to die because a significant amount of people (approx 20 to 30%) in our country are just shilling for the corporations and consistently vote againsts their own best economic interests? They vote that way because the corporate media hacks have learned that these same people are highly prejudiced and by appealing to those prejudices and fears of anything labeled liberal or progressive, they can get them to act in ways that make them error againsts their own benefit? Why should I and 10s and 20s of millions like me, have to respect that kind of irrational thinking?

Five yrs ago the right wing had Frist, DeLay, Cheney, etc., to push through whatever they wanted.

I'm as frustrated as the next lib at what's happening now in Washington, but where does this idea that the right got everything they wanted under Bush come from? In fact, their domestic legislative agenda went almost nowhere beyond tax cuts. They wanted to kill the Endangered Species Act; didn't happen. They wanted to open ANWR to drilling; didn't happen. They wanted to destroy the Clean Air Act with the "Clear Skies Act"; never made it out of committee. They wanted to dismantle the social safety net, starting with privatizing Social Security (went nowhere), and instead got the biggest new benefit program in a generation, the prescription drug program. Oh, and ask some right-wingers what they think of McCain-Feingold!

BoJack et al.: I think you guys are all overreacting. This issue really elicits intense feelings on both sides.

Obama has been in office for a little over half a year and we haven't really focused on health care reform this term until the last several of months. Here are some hopeful comments and some positive spin, from last Thursday's Washington Post, which might add some perspective:

"Meanwhile, Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking Democrat in the House, said he has been reminding his party colleagues that Congress passed multiple, piecemeal civil rights bills in the 1960s and that activists had to put off demands for voting rights until 1965 to win a landmark ban on employment discrimination in 1964.

"'LBJ made it very clear a half a loaf is better than no loaf at all,' Clyburn said Wednesday. 'We should do what can be done immediately and use the time between now and 2013 to figure out how to do the rest.'"

I'll settle for a half a loaf if it offers a public option to those 50 and older to begin with and its available in 2010, not 2013... Can't say Im unreasonable...

"'LBJ made it very clear a half a loaf is better than no loaf at all,' Clyburn said Wednesday.

We've already got about half a loaf. It's not working for about 80 million Americans. Guess how many of those are kids and elderly? no "death panel" necessary, folks--the very old and very young die all the time due to lack of health care access.

Whenever I'm curious what's going on, I look at who's spending money. the health care industry has spent, by some estimates, over a quarter *billion* dollars in the past six months working every possible angle to weaken any health care proposal that isn't basically what we have now.

And yet, private citizens and congressmen say all that effort is to "keep health care affordable"? raid town halls with signs proclaiming everything from "Obama is a nazi sympathesizer" to "you want to kill my grandma"? claim that the intent of the government's health care efforts is to abandon the entire system of government and convert it to a different one (socialism)?

uh huh.

It's all a reminder that despite the outcome of the last elections, by and large we Americans are selfish, stupid, lazy, or some combination of the above.

I'd be curious to see how much lobbyist money and campaign contributions were received by the 60 in the majority. If you want to see which 50 or 51 have "the guts," let's see who isn't on the take.

"Democrats will be in more trouble if nothing happens than they will if something serious gets passed." [My emphasis.]

This other guy Greenwald is really rockin the house, spot on, and so happens to endorse exactly Jack's perception. As follows, (best read), in which Greenwald quotes Krugman, Digby, Singiser (who?), BTD, Sargent, and more:
Has Obama lost the trust of progressives, as Krugman says?, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Friday Aug. 21, 2009

Saying: "Obama's approval ratings have taken a dive (as have the Demorcratic Party's) due to increasing dissatisfaction with him on the part of Democrats ... The Obama/Emanuel approach not only produces awful policy but is also self-destructive politically."

(Blessed be, Greenwald even includes a glancing reference covering my point (earlier) claiming to see the emergence of the MassMedia political party: "... how our political culture works generally. Our politics have become entirely celebretized. Political discussions typically resemble junior high chatter about one's most adored and despised actors: filled with adolescent declarations of whether someone "likes" and "trusts" this politician or "dislikes" that one.")

Instead of refusing to push the process forward until there are 60 votes in the Senate, why not allow the opposition to actually stage a filibuster? Let the public see the Repubs bring in the cots, read from the phone book, etc. People under the age of 50 have probably never seen a real filibuster.

Let's see what the public thinks of the delaying tactics. Let's see how many Dems are willing to join the Republicans. In the long run, it would help the Dems put a spotlight on the real goals of health care opponents. It might even help them in the next election.

Let Republican political theater begin!

The lack of success in passing a reckless and misguided national health care bill is no more demonstrative of a "selfish, stupid, lazy, or some combination of the above" populous than the inability to pass amnesty or cap and trade/global warming legislation.

IMO, if those damanding this sweeping change really thought it as such a good idea they would be more careful and prudent by gaining credibility.
Find the so-called Medicare cuts first, find a successful State pilot program first, pilot the system with all public employees in a fully funded universal coverage and stop trying to get it passed by insulting opponents with charges they are too stupid to understand it or duped by corporations.

What sweeping change? We already have a single payer program in place.. its called Medicare.. We already have a socialized medical insurance program in place, its called the VA.... We've got enough models in place...

About that oft bandied talking point that Medicare is no longer self sustaining so a public option would result in a similar deficit. No one is suggesting the premium for a public option would be anywhere near the modest one collected by Medicare(96.00 per mo) It would be two to three times more. That would still be a great deal and force the privates to lower theirs. With a premium significantly higher than Medicare, but still very reasonable in contrast to private premiums, the public option would be self sustaining. C'mon, don't accept those talking points.


Come on. No sweeping change? Is that your Message? Do you honestly thinks that's credible? If so no wonder democrats are disturbed by the oppostion.

To suggest this proposed single payer/universal health care is just a simple and small step from the staus quo Medicare and VA programs is just pure bunk.
Providng free health insurance to an additional 50 million people while moving millions of others from private insurance to public insurance is no minor shift.
Paying for it is and enormous task seemingly ignored by you and yours.
Medicare isn't paid for now as it travels towards the fiscal abyss along with SS.

Yet your champions of universal health care are claiming massive saving will arrive from Medicare to pay for the new system. Something, massive savings, which have never happened in the history of US governance.
We're supposed to trust this will happen?

Now what is the credible reason we should accept this?


What an empty assurance.

"the public option would be self sustaining"??

OMG how can you possibly think that?

Talk about "talking points".

Politically, it seems to me that union money will have to be spent to overcome insurance company money to get significant reform to happen. Anyone have the figures on the comparison spending/donations to Congress lately?

Ben, who said a public type option would be free? I'd pay for it... By the way, what are you looking for from me, a detailed plan for conversion? That's not my job skill... there's plenty of people who have that background to upgrade the current Medicare program..

and I did state recently, I'd settle for a beginning plan for 50 and older in 2010...I do think re-imbursement rates need to be adjusted to the current market place.. I hear they are still based on mid 1960s formula's...

I and others are waiting for the opposition to make us an offer we can't refuse.. status quo won't do... we need relief now and an assurance that we get the coverage we thought we were buying..

I don't have a problem with accepting some portion of the balance owing, but when you have an 80/20 program but the insurance company denies payment on certain charges though their "of covered benefit" clause, those denials become the insured's responsibility thus changing what the insured is responsible for and any sense of an 80/20 responsibility assignment...and in my mind, that's fraud...

Ben, reality is tough to accept for some, but the reality of a public option is it will be paid for in part by premiums. Just like Medicare. Medicare premiums are too low to sustain the costs of claims, therefore we subsidize it. Would Medicare be less dependent on subsidies if you doubled the premium from 96 bucks to 192 bucks. Simple math reveals a doubling of the premium would reduce red ink by 1/2. Of course. 192 dollars per month would be a great premium under any calculus. 350 dollars per month would be a great premium for a public option. With enough participation a public option can be self sustaining at a much lower premium than private insurance. You see private insurance must collect a premium sufficient to not only cover claims but also produce a profit for company. The public option would not need to make a profit - just cover claims. The public option would profoundly influence the amount of profit private insurance seeks through premium increases. Bummer. Right now they net obscene profits. Why Ben is this acceptable?

"to pass fundamental health care reform."

How the heck do we even know if this thing Pelosi cobbled together in 3-4 months does that even. If this is the way things are run, without any public input (if you think what Congress wants is what the average person wants you are mistaken) we get something slpped together without any more input from Obama than more pushing - Are you sure you want this?

I understand that med insur has shortcomings today, but a little study, maybe an attempt to fix things one at a time like cost controls may be a lot better than some omnibus put together in the middle of the night.

Remember, we all thought Tom Potter was bad and it couldn't get worse . . .

Genop -
"... therefore we subsidize it. Would Medicare be less dependent on subsidies if you doubled the premium from 96 bucks to 192 bucks. Simple math reveals a doubling of the premium would reduce red ink by 1/2. Of course. 192 dollars per month would be a great premium under any calculus. 350 dollars per month would be a great premium for a public option."

Here are but a few of the problems that I see. First, you talked about how premiums (private health insurance I assume) will pay for/subsidize the public option. So when more and more employers drop the health insurance and 'just let the government take care of it' - what happens? Well, we get more people on the program and less people paying for it through the a private premium. Your fix for that? And please don't tell me that an employer paying 8% of payroll to dump his employees on the public program will take care of it; the math doesn't pencil out.

"... 192 dollars per month would be a great premium ..." Yes, that would be a great premium, but who does that cover and what kind of coverage is that? Right now I pay $200 a month, but it's for my wife and I (my kids are grown and gone); is that $192 per person? Per couple? Per family? What? Also, what kind of care do we get? Do we get 4 to 18 month waiting times like in Canada and Great Briton? Too many unanswered questions.

Finally, one of the last things that I want to do is give the government more money for it to mismanage. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all on track to run into the red within the next 20 years. So why should I believe that they will handle health care any differently? The government has stolen time and time again from the Social Security fund to cover a pet project here and a pet project there which has helped put Social Security in the hole. The Social Security has expanded way beyond it's original scope. The government has shown me time and time again what it does when there is money 'available' (meaning sitting out there intended for some other program) - I wouldn't trust it with the amount of money that this program would command (especially since Obama has more 'pet projects' than Carter as pills).

Yes, our health care system needs some reform, but this bill isn't just bad, it's horrible. It's another bill that got hastily put together (for a bill of it's magnitude and the sweeping changes it involves) and again is attempting to be shoved down our throats. Again, it is a bill that has so much pork in it that it oinks when they talk about it.

Bottom line (to me) - bad timing, bad bill (as written) - no deal.

I think native oregonian has summed it up quite nicely. There is a crowd of folks who seem to be hollering for "health care reform" whatever it is. I'm not even sure they now what they're asking for, it appears that they just want to see a "win" credited to Obama regardless of the details.

I haven't found anyone else who knows the answers to basic questions like those posted above. How does it all pencil out? What are the wait times? Who gets what coverage? What is the impact to the health care infrastructure? Do doctors start going away because they aren't paid enough? Does it all go broke in a few years because of too much demand?

In my line of work we run simulations and beta tests and beat on prototypes before we launch. But it appears the idiots in DC just want to cram 1000 pages of text into a bill and vote on it before anyone even reads the damn thing.

The Gov already controls a bunch of the medical delivery system in the country, why don't they try making that stuff work right first? At the moment every plan the government is running is heading for bankruptcy. If they really think they can improve these plans then what is stopping them from making some changes now? Once they get the existing plans working fine then maybe they'll get a little more backing on an expansion.

Andy, just curious, did you post the same opinion about Medicare Part D when it was rammed through? How about Medicare Advantage that pays private providers of Medicare type services with a guaranteed 12% premium to the provider...

I guess if they can come up with a 500+ page document called the Patriot Act within weeks of 911, how hard is it to put together 1000 pages in a matter of months? Unless it was sitting on a shelf just wiating to be dusted off for the right moment... oh, there I go getting conspiratorial...

Native OR, thanks for considering what I posited. Just want to clarify. The premium $192 is double what every senior now pays (automatically through Soc. Sec. reduction) for Medicare. Excellent coverage of 80% of discounted med exp. They buy a supplement from the private market for the balance. That is a per-person premium. How much longer would Medicare remain in the black if you doubled the premium?
Public option would likewise charge a premium. Undoubtedly the amount would be greater than Medicare. If employers dumped their plan, then that many more would pay the premium to keep the public option self sustaining. The big question is how much is the minimum per-person premium to keep a public option self sustaining?

Genop -
Nice try at answering the questions, but can't say they were complete answers. However, don't get negative on me, Obama hasn't read the bill and he can't answer the questions either (I did try to read it, and it is legaleze at it's finest). Then there is the problem that a real final bill hasn't actually been settled on and passed, so we are just arguing bits and pieces of bills that have yet to be reconciled.

Public option and health care for all. How does the bill propose to pay for health insurance for those who can't pay it? If you are out of work and getting $1200 a month (before taxes - and I was there very recently), where is THAT person going to find $192 a month? Where is the government going to find the money to subsidize him (I assume that is what the liberals want to do). I heard a story on the radio today from a 70 year old man who gets $550 a month for social security - that and food stamps is all he lives on each and every month, surely we won't expect him to cough up $192 a month for health care, he is paying for medicare presently - and you can do the math on that one. What about those aged 25 (or so) who don't think they need health insurance, are we going to FORCE them to buy?

I know you can't really answer all the questions (the wait times??), like I said, you aren't an expert on the bill. Like I also said, the bill isn't even a true bill yet. For me, too many unanswered questions.

BTW - heard the latest rumor? The bill passes barring illegal aliens from getting the care (beyond what we have now in life saving measures) even though there is no requirement in the bill that there is a method to prove they are citizens. The bill passes followed by amnesty for all illegal aliens.

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