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Open letter to President Obama on Health Care Reform
Posted: 22 July 2009 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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An Open Letter to President Obama on Health Care Reform

Dear Mr. President,


I am writing to you as a health care professional concerned about your proposed health care reform. Some people will accuse me of having been paid to write this letter. On the contrary, I work for a health care institution that is looking forward to the added financing your plan is likely to provide for our industry. I am simply a concerned citizen who knows something about this industry, and economics in general.

My question to you is this: How is your plan going to increase my productivity so that the work I do serves more patients? This is the critical issue which will determine whether or not your plan will work. There is a limited supply of healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians like me. If your plan is meant to reduce the cost of health care while making it more available to everyone, then it must help all these professionals accomplish more with the time they have. It may also be necessary to increase the supply of these professionals by training more people to become skilled doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians.

However, every health care plan coming from a politician seems to be, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, more concerned with the movement of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, since it is not the small, green pieces of paper that need health care, or will provide it. Don’t get me wrong. Money is important, especially in such a complex economy as ours. Money serves, among other things, as a store of wealth, allowing people to make long-range plans, and is in fact a means of communication, allowing consumers to express their needs and desires to producers, and for producers to communicate some of the conditions of production to consumers. The big problem comes when the government attempts to solve problems by moving money around. It distorts these signals, causing more problems than it solves, getting in the way of the people who are actually working to solve the problem.

Here is an example of improving the productivity of labor, as I described before: In the laboratory where I work, we have a machine that incubates blood cultures. It does more than that, it tells us when it detects bacterial growth for us. All we need to do is scan in a bar code label, slip the bottle into the slot, and let the machine do the rest of the work. A day or two later, it tells us which bottles failed to grow any pathogens, and we can simply throw those bottles away. The machine is networked with our computer system and generates negative reports automatically. All we need to deal with is identifying pathogens that grow in the positive cultures, which are a small minority. This leaves us free to do other work. In Histology, we have an automatic slide stainer which I often refer to as R2-D2. Our chemistry department looks more like a computer and robotics lab with machines that process many specimens at once. This allows us to serve the needs of many patients with the same number or fewer employees.

How will your plan accomplish anything comparable to this?

At our lab, we and our supervisors know when we are overworked and need more help, or when an employee doesn’t have enough to do, so we can either cross-train someone to work in multiple departments and help out when necessary, or let someone go when their services are not needed.

You ask why such practices haven’t brought down the cost of health care?

For that, one need only look at the history of government attempts to provide health care. Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid inject vast amounts of money into the industry. This only creates inflation. If you go to an auction of fine art, hoping to help people buy more art, and give each person an extra thousand dollars, all that will happen is that the price of each piece or artwork will cost a thousand dollars more. Chances are, the same people will still win the auctions. They will simply pay more.

There is nothing that government is capable of doing that can both reduce the cost of health care and make it more available to everyone. In England, the government responded to rising costs by laying off doctors and other health care providers. The quality of health care in England suffered. The socialized systems of countless other countries suffer the same kinds of problems, including waiting lists and denied care.

What will your plan do to provide more and better health care to more people, other than throw more money at the problem?

The only proper way to solve the problems of health care is to allow the professionals who provide it the freedom to find the solutions themselves. Freedom allows individuals to experiment with many different kinds of solutions, and to tailor them to different situations. Your plan would push all such experimentation aside and impose one or a very few solutions on everyone, solutions that may not be appropriate to specific individuals.

The only solution we need from you is freedom. Freedom from overburdening regulation, freedom from high taxes, and freedom from armies of bureaucrats, all offering to help us by taking away our ability to help ourselves.

Give us freedom. We will do the rest.

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Posted: 22 July 2009 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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An Open Letter to President Obama on Health Care Reform

Dear Mr. President,

This writing is, in part, a response to the missives that you have recently received from the fringe wing of the extreme right of the radical part of the worst of the libertarian nutbags that have, so far, successfully escaped the strong men, dressed in all white, who are tirelessly searching for these disturbed individuals so that they can be properly placed in padded rooms where they can’t harm themselves or the denizens of our fine polis.

No doubt you have filed their disjointed ululations under S for “Shit-that-Dumb-ass-True-Believers-came-up-with-after-waking-up-at-3 AM-open-mouthed-with-a-puddle-of-drool-drying-on-a-well-worn-copy-of-Ayn-Rand’s(the ugly bitch)-Drivel-Volume-3”.

What we really want to stress for you is a true scenario. The aforementioned right-wing idiots would like to not mention these as they involve real people and as we all know in their ‘system’ real human concerns are a nuisance that get in the way of the ‘system’ working properly.

Columnist and essayist Barbara Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer some years ago and thankfully her insurance covered her medical expenses and she has recovered from this dreadful decease.

There is only one snag.

Now she can not find a company who wants to insure her for future medical expenses because she has a ‘pre-existing’ condition.

She tried to explain this phenomenon to a European friend who, unversed as she was in the details of our superior American logic proclaimed; “But when you are sick that’s when you need health insurance the most, right ?”.

So, Mr. President, please consider whether you want our healthcare system to be run by folks who care about profit or by those, like our doctors and elected leaders,who care about people.

BR

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Posted: 22 July 2009 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Dear Mr. President,

Please listen to reason and logic, as well as evidence, not the shitslinging of liberal nutballs.

Bad Rabbit:

You clearly didn’t read the letter. It is calling for free market medicine, not the system we have now, which is corrupted by government regulation and inflated by government spending.

How can you blame Barbara Ehrenreich’s problems on a free market, when we DON’T HAVE A FREE MARKET?

Please actually read what you are responding to.

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Posted: 22 July 2009 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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What? No mention of your philosophical heroine, Ayn Rand, in your scattershot attempt to prevent poor people from receiving anything approaching appropriate health care?

Have you been busy lately, Saul, or perhaps hiding under a rock? As you may have heard, under-regulated capitalism that had been tragically allowed in certain areas of our economy have blown things to bits. Shame you haven’t been around to comment on these matters lately. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed your apparent borderline-personality take on economic matters.

[Edited to fix format mistake.]

[ Edited: 22 July 2009 05:41 PM by nv]
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Posted: 22 July 2009 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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unknown zone - 22 July 2009 09:01 PM

As you may have heard, under-regulated capitalism that had been tragically allowed in certain areas of our economy have blown things to bits. Shame you haven’t been around to comment on these matters lately. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed your apparent borderline-personality take on economic matters.

Underregulated? This economy was more regulated than ever before just before the crisis hit.

Ever heard of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? GOVERNEMNT SPONSORED ENTERPRISES which used government money to guaruntee housing loans. The CRA, Clinton’s National Homeownership Strategy and Bush’s American Dream Downpayment Act, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Reserve reducing its prime rate to 1%, thus pumping vast amounts of money into the housing market all contributed to this crisis.

What deregulation? This GRAPH shows a pretty steady growth in the number of pages in the Federal Register. The only time there was a real drop was during the Reagan years. You are blaming this crisis on deregulation that happened 30 years ago?

Blaming the free market and deregulation for this economic crisis is scapegoating, pure and simple.

The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Financial Crisis by George Reisman

We Told You So by Mark Thornton

As for socialized medicine, is what happened to Lindsay McCreith any better than what happened to Barbara Ehrenreich?:

A Short Course in Brain Surgery

[ Edited: 22 July 2009 05:38 PM by SaulOhio]
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Posted: 22 July 2009 05:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Glass-Steagall was too much of a luxury for the U.S.? What’s the result, Saul?

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 22 July 2009 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Canada did not have any Glass-Steagall act, separating commercial and investment banking, and didn’t have these problems. The complex derivative products that were supposedly the result of the repeal were the market’s response to the high risk lending imposed by the three pro-housing measures I named (CRA, Clinton’s National Homeownership Strategy and Bush’s American Dream Downpayment Act), and the high risk banks were willing to accept under the FDIC and the glut of money provided by the Fed.

And you did not at all address the causes I blamed for the crisis.

What do you think happens to a market when you inject about a trillion new dollars into it, created out of thin air?

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Posted: 22 July 2009 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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SaulOhio - 22 July 2009 09:54 PM

. . .
And you did not at all address the causes I blamed for the crisis. . . .

I was happy to see that you had everything figured out, Saul. By the way, what do you think of Greenspan’s recent equivocation of philosophical stance?

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 22 July 2009 06:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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unknown zone - 22 July 2009 10:02 PM

I was happy to see that you had everything figured out, Saul. By the way, what do you think of Greenspan’s recent equivocation of philosophical stance?

Can you answer the question?

What do you think happens to a market when you inject about a trillion new dollars into it, created out of thin air?

Of course I don’t claim to have figured everything out. An economy is such a complex system that NOBODY can figure it all out. Anyone who claims to is delusional. I have the virtue of admitting I don’t have all the answers.

As for Greenspan, he lost his integrity decades ago. How about talking about the facts instead of arguing about the opinions of talking heads? How about the affects of credit expansion and money inflation by the Fed? You can name ONE LAW that was repealed, Glass Steagal, but I can name dozens of government interventions imposed on the economy that had much more powerfull effects.

And how about actually discussing the topic, which is socialized medicine vs. free market medicine?

Government health care means rationing. The only way government knows to control costs is to restrict supply. Thats why you get waiting lists in Europe and the elderly are often denied care.

SOCIALIZED MEDICINE WILL BE DANGEROUS FOR THE ELDERLY

The perils of socialized health care can already be seen in Europe, where certain medical treatments or drugs are no longer available to Europeans above a certain age, says Paul Belien, editor of the Brussels Journal and an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute.

In Europe, says Belien:
“More expensive drugs and treatments with fewer side effects are set aside for younger patients, while less expensive drugs are given to the elderly because of budgetary constraints in a system providing “free” health care.
Studies of kidney dialysis show that more than a fifth of dialysis centers in Europe and almost half of those in England have refused to treat patients over 65 years of age.

]

So tell me how Obama’s plan is going to help increase the supply of medical services while controlling costs.

As I said, the only way to do this is to increase the productivity of medical professionals and those providing medical supplies. Things like MRI’s and other diagnostic equipment have to be manufactured with less labor. Lab techs need to be able to run tests on more patients without spending more time. All costs can be reduced to labor costs. How will ANY government plan do anything to increase the productivity of health care providers?

Is there something wrong with this theory about productivity?

Is throwing money at the problem really going to reduce costs?

As far as I know, its just going to add more bureaucracy, which is going to ADD costs.
Health Care Flowchart

[ Edited: 22 July 2009 06:59 PM by SaulOhio]
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Posted: 22 July 2009 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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If I’m not mistaken, SaulOhio used to post here under the name Champion, but eventually even good Christian re-enactors realize that free marketeers are far more batshit crazy, and therefore far more hilarious to parody, than the wibbliest fundie.

Free market health care.  Fucking hilarious, SaulOhio.  Keep up the good work.

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Posted: 22 July 2009 11:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Gee, as a resident of Canada since 1973 I have had universally good experiences with the Canadian health care system.  It’s not perfect, but sure as hell is a lot better than what is available to people with low and moderate incomes in the US (of course if you’ve got the big bucks you can buy the best care available).  Never had any problems with wait lists, lack of service, or any of the propaganda the US conservative groups spread about.

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Posted: 23 July 2009 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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A very common misperception of socialized health care (that’s right, I said “socialized”) is that private health care will be outlawed.  Saul, if you want to pay full retail for health care that’s your business, but forcing the rest of us to pay full retail by denying public health care just ain’t fair.

America has public health care, but usually one qualifies by being very young or very old and very poor.  I suppose you would like that eliminated, too?  If not then you’re willing to make exceptions based on ability to pay.  It’s obvious the real losers in public health will be those who profit the most from it now but it would be against their interest to admit it, so instead a campaign is created to transfer the fear of loss to those who would benefit the most from public health care.

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Posted: 23 July 2009 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Skipshot - 23 July 2009 04:22 AM

A very common misperception of socialized health care (that’s right, I said “socialized”) is that private health care will be outlawed.

Page 16 of the proposed bill would outlaw new private insurance policies. You will be allowed to keep any policy you now have, but insurance companies will not be allowed to issue new ones.

Page 16 of HR 3200:
“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.”

This is not a full ban on private health care, but it is a BIG step in that direction. The government paying for everything eventually means government taking over everything.

[ Edited: 23 July 2009 03:48 AM by SaulOhio]
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Posted: 23 July 2009 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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SaulOhio - 22 July 2009 10:56 PM

So tell me how Obama’s plan is going to help increase the supply of medical services while controlling costs.

You’re obviously not paying attention, or just so biased that you are blocking out the possible short term and long term solutions being proposed. As is being discussed in the media (watch more PBS) by medical professionals, economists and the administration, a comprehensive plan is being hashed out with wide input from the effected participants of healthcare delivery. There are a few pockets (medical universities such as Mayo, states such as Mass., etc.) of innovative approaches around the country that have positive outcomes whose models need to be incorporated and tweaked for improvement (they have problems too). The market, if it were to be the lone solution, will have already come up with a ‘system’ for cost savings and more effective delivery for which a trend in the right direction would already be evident. It hasn’t and it’s not ... but for our form of rationing, (ie, cut out ever more numbers of uninsured and distribute the added costs of treatment for them across a wide spectrum of the economy). The status quo of health care in this country for which there are no current built in incentives to change is unacceptable. That a ‘system’ has to be developed, where none really exists now, is undeniable. Your way of thinking is part of the problem.

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Posted: 23 July 2009 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 23 July 2009 11:38 AM
SaulOhio - 22 July 2009 10:56 PM

So tell me how Obama’s plan is going to help increase the supply of medical services while controlling costs.

You’re obviously not paying attention, or just so biased that you are blocking out the possible short term and long term solutions being proposed. As is being discussed in the media (watch more PBS) by medical professionals, economists and the administration, a comprehensive plan is being hashed out with wide input from the effected participants of healthcare delivery. There are a few pockets (medical universities such as Mayo, states such as Mass., etc.) of innovative approaches around the country that have positive outcomes whose models need to be incorporated and tweaked for improvement (they have problems too). The market, if it were to be the lone solution, will have already come up with a ‘system’ for cost savings and more effective delivery for which a trend in the right direction would already be evident. It hasn’t and it’s not ... but for our form of rationing, (ie, cut out ever more numbers of uninsured and distribute the added costs of treatment for them across a wide spectrum of the economy). The status quo of health care in this country for which there are no current built in incentives to change is unacceptable. That a ‘system’ has to be developed, where none really exists now, is undeniable. Your way of thinking is part of the problem.

You meandered around a lot without answering the question.

What does the government have to bring to the table, other than the use of force? What is unique about government action that can help to reduce the cost of health care while making it available to everyone?

Because as far as I have seen, government intervention only prevents other solutions from being implemented, makes the whole system more complicated, and inflates prices.

As for my way of thinking being the problem, how can that be a cause of the problem is nobody is acting on it? I don’t see anybody in politics talking about free markets and actually IMPLEMENTING tham. Its like this nonsense I keep hearing about the present economic crisis being caused by free markets, when we didn’t HAVE free markets. I’ve even heard of libertarians being blamed for the crisis, when there are almost no libertarians in significant political office, and no libertarian policies have been implemented.

You are scapegoating again.

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Posted: 23 July 2009 03:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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SaulOhio - 23 July 2009 07:46 AM

Page 16 of the proposed bill would outlaw new private insurance policies. You will be allowed to keep any policy you now have, but insurance companies will not be allowed to issue new ones.

Page 16 of HR 3200:
“Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.”

Page 16 refers to which policies are grandfathered in with respect to Exchange Participating Health Benefits Plans.

Too bad you didn’t get to page 19, where the bill says:

Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.
(2) SEPARATE, EXCEPTED COVERAGE PERMITTED.—Excepted benefits (as defined in section 2791(c) of the Public Health Service Act) are not included within the definition of health insurance coverage. Nothing in paragraph (1) shall prevent the offering, other than through the Health Insurance
Exchange, of excepted benefits so long as it is offered and priced separately from health insurance coverage.

The bill is 1,017 pages long, and since you haven’t even got to page 19 yet, I’d better let you go.  Don’t expect to be hearing from you for quite awhile.  Happy reading.

Oh, and when you’re done ==

SaulOhio - 22 July 2009 10:56 PM

Government health care means rationing. The only way government knows to control costs is to restrict supply. Thats why you get waiting lists in Europe and the elderly are often denied care.

I already posted the stats somewhere else but it won’t take you long to look up the infant mortality rate, life expectancy and other indicators of the functioning of the health care systems of the various nations.  The US doesn’t look too good, a little third-worldish, if you know what I mean, whereas Europe and Asia do quite fine with their socialized medicine.  Canada is in the top few in every category.  Go figure!

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