Hoping the president does well tonight

Getting ready to watch the president’s address, and hoping he does well — because the country needs for him to do well. I know my family does, but so does the whole country. Not just the uninsured, but the insured who increasingly find their insurance unaffordable and a constant battle to get the private insurance companies to pay up. And especially for American business, which really doesn’t need this financial millstone around its neck any more.

One thing that gets me is that the advance hype is that the president will advocate a “public option.” Well, duh. A “public option” is health care reform. Without a public element there is no health care reform. The “private option” is what we have now, and it ain’t working.

Anyway, it’s going to start in a few moments. Your impressions will be welcome here as comments….

I’m going to try watching it on the NYT site. One nice thing about watching it on a newspaper’s Web site is that you don’t have to listen to all that superfluous commentary you get on TV…

50 thoughts on “Hoping the president does well tonight

  1. Brad Warthen

    I like what he’s saying about those irresponsible young “healthy” (for the moment) people who opt out of affordable insurance. Amen again. I like the communitarian direction in which he’s going.

    The advantage of a NATIONAL system, such as single-payer, is that everyone is in it, thereby reducing the risk for all. Sounds like he’s trying to tap into that effect, which is good…

  2. Brad Warthen

    He’s dismissing the idea this is “a government takeover of the entire health care system.” If only.

    Now he’s touting the virtues of competition. And it could be a virtue, if it makes the public option good enough that people will prefer it to the private. Which should be our goal…

  3. doug_ross

    Because it is a lie.

    Or will Obama support a strong id check component to get access to his healthcare welfare program?

    That would take one line in the 1000 page bill. All you need is an ID and a Social Security number to get into the system. Too much to ask for?

  4. Brad Warthen

    “We believe that less than 5 percent” of the country would sign up. I expect that, whatever my future employment picture, I would be among that 5 percent — if only Congress will provide us with that option, and craft it so that it’s viable…

  5. Brad Warthen

    Doug, the overhead of Medicare is considerably less than private insurance. And while a lot of old folks at town meetings don’t seem to realize it, that’s a gummint program…

  6. doug_ross

    And the fraud of Medicare dwarfs the overhead many time over because there is no incentive to worry about spending taxpayer money.

  7. Brad Warthen

    Oh, and Doug, if you think it’s a lie that private insurance companies depend upon denying coverage, come to my house and listen to some of the phone conversations we have with them on a more or less monthly basis. My wife has to fight the same battles over and over.

    Just today, she learned from our pharmacist that medication that is essential to keeping her cancer from returning (Aromasin) just made a list that means our insurer will require more hoops to jump through to get her refills. Not because she doesn’t need it, but because it’s expensive… And to think some of the paranoids at town meetings worry about “bureaucrats… rationing” health care. Now, it’s being rationed by entities that make more profit for every medical bill they refuse to pay…

  8. doug_ross

    Hundreds of billions of waste and fraud in Medicare, Brad. Obama just said it. How did that happen? Maybe too little overhead… or too little concern for spending other people’s money wisely.

    If he knows where the fraud is, why has he waited all summer to do something about it?

  9. doug_ross

    I was talking about the lie regarding healthcare for illegals. That IS a lie.

    I agree that insurance companies deny coverage. I have repeatedly agreed that that should be fixed first. And could be if the Democrats didn’t feel it was necessary to throw everything into the kitchen sink into the bill.

  10. doug_ross

    And now the Democrats sit on their hands when Obama mentions malpractice tort reform.

    What a bunch of self-interested millionaires. On both sides.

    I keep staring at the screen wondering what skills Nancy Pelosi could possibly have that would put her in the position she is in.

  11. Brad Warthen

    A mystery — the NYT feed I’m following started out several seconds AHEAD of the TV version my wife is listening to in the other room. Now it’s several seconds BEHIND… How did that happen?

  12. doug_ross

    Here comes the Ted Kennedy act. At least it’s not as inappropriate as the priest talking graveside about Ted’s letter to the Pope regarding healthcare reform. Ugh.

  13. Brad Warthen

    He just threw a big bone to you Jeffersonians, calling suspicion of big gummint legitimate…

    I like what he’s doing with explaining how Ted Kennedy gained the friendship and trust of key Republicans on this and other issues. Don’t know how well that’s playing, though, with those who go ballistic at the mention of the man’s name…

  14. Brad Warthen

    That’s too bad, Doug, because you missed when he explained how suspicion of gummint — which he had just said is a healthy American impulse — can be taken to the point that it’s harmful and antisocial. Again, amen.

    Y’all think I’m so pro-gummint. I’m not. I sound that way because I think the visceral HATRED of our getting together and doing things as a community has gotten to the point in this country that it is a cancer, and must be resisted. So I do.

  15. Brad Warthen

    Well, the speech is over. It sounded pretty good. But the petulant response of the GOP, which so badly wants the president to LOSE on this that they little care what it does to the country, does not bode well…

    The sad fact is that NO speech, no matter how eloquent or sincere or well-presented, or how just the cause, can do any good with people who have decided they want you to fail no matter what…

    What did y’all think?

  16. Brad Warthen

    Just heard the GOP response. I always hate listening to those things. I hated them when Bush was president, and Clinton before him. Always just a pointless, nonconstructive exercise in perpetual partisan polarization.

    Rather than having the opposition statement, the networks should just run the Groucho Marx clip, which says the same thing more honestly and more entertainingly: “I don’t know what they have to say; it makes no difference anyway: Whatever it is, I’m against it!”

  17. Burl Burlingame

    Or the Ramones song:

    Well I’m against it
    I’m against it
    Well I’m against it
    I’m against it
    I don’t like politics
    I don’t like communists
    I don’t like games and fun
    I don’t like anyone
    And I’m against…
    I don’t like Jesus freaks
    I don’t like circus geeks
    I don’t like summer and spring
    I don’t like anything
    I don’t like sex and drugs
    I don’t like waterbugs
    I don’t care about poverty
    All I care about is me
    And I’m against…
    I don’t like playing ping pong
    I don’t like the Viet Cong
    I don’t like Burger King
    I don’t like anything
    And I’m against…
    Well I’m against it
    I’m against it

  18. Maude Lebowski



    Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”

  19. kbfenner

    I was at the Columbia Museum of Art event. I figure que sera sera.

    I want single payer. I have close to bullet-proof health insurance and I still want single payer. I agree with Brad. If there is a government option, it will prevail in a fair fight.

    That’s what DenialCare is afraid of.

  20. Bart

    Randy, I didn’t watch the speech but did read about Joe Wilson’s shout out. I agree with you, pathetic and shameless.

    I might not agree with Obama but he is still president and deserves public respect, especially when he is addressing a joint session of congress.

    Republicans need to take heed of their actions and understand that behavior like Wilson’s brings nothing to the table and can trigger a major backlash.

    As usual, some Republicans remind me of the Keystone Cops at times and continue to shoot themselves in the foot that is stuck in their mouth.

  21. doug_ross


    “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.””

    That’s just one reference to one part of the bill (affordability credits). That doesn’t cover all aspects.

    Why don’t they put a line in the bill that says any access to Federal dollars REQUIRES a verified Social Security number?

    The bottom line for me is that there is already enough money in the Federal budget to provide health insurance to everyone. Our lawmakers choose to spend the money on other things. Cut the Department of Education… cut the aid to foreign countries… cut the military budget.

    Prove what our priorities are by making expenditures on healthcare for everyone come first, not last.

  22. Birch Barlow

    Why the current health care reform does not bother me:

    1. Similar healthcare programs in other countries do not have significantly higher costs than our current health care expenditures

    2. The overall satisfaction with similar healthcare plans in other countries seems to be more positive
    than negative

    3. Current costs of healthcare are already trending upward

    Why it does bother me:

    1. Given Medicare, I have a fear of unfunded gov’t programs which amount to generational income shifting. Perhaps this program is different (I’m genuinely uncertain) and my fears are completely unwarranted on this issue.

    2. Given the importance of the issue, lives and money involved and uncertainty of the outcome, I’d hoped to see government health care emerge at the state level. The whole laboratories of democracy idea and all…

    3. I still think that using a third-payer (insurance company or government) for routine health care as we do today and as we will continue to do makes no sense and drives up the cost of health care.

    Besides, there’s so much untruth and spin coming from both directions, what’s the point of trying to have a rational discussion.

  23. Lee Muller

    Obama is pathetic. He has no plan; he just talks about “my plan”. Nothing in writing.

    I have been reading the bills and recording the points. The police powers Democrats want to give for warrantless spying on Americans makes the Patriot Act look like nothing. And gobs of taxes, to drive small businesses, independent contractors, and insurance companies out of business.

  24. Lee Muller

    In 2008, fraud in Medicare and Medicaid was $60.2 Billion.

    Total combined profits of all the 1,400 medical insurance companies was only $12.6 billion.

    Expanding coverage as Democrats propose, without controlling the fraud we have now, would scale up to over $400 billion annually in fraud alone.

  25. Mike Toreno

    Doug, first, malpractice “reform” has been repeatedly shown to have no effect on healthcare costs.

    Second, if healthcare costs are a general social problem, why is it the responsibility of people injured by incompetent doctors to bear the costs of correcting the problem?

  26. Randy E

    Toreno, those are great points.

    Senator McCaskill of Missouri asked the angry mob at her town hall meeting last month the following: “We’ve had aggressive tort reform in Missouri these past few years; how many of you saw your insurance rates drop?” NOBODY raised their hand.

    That 2nd point is new to me. It’s very insightful and articulate.

    I hope you’ll avoid the sniping at Brad and stick to these types of posts.

  27. Randy E

    Birch, I am impressed with your analysis as well. This is some of the best discussion I’ve found on a blog. I’ll have to mull over your points.

  28. Lee Muller

    In medicine, first do no wrong.

    Government wage controls were the motivation for companies to pay them with medical, disability, and life insurance.

    Government mandates are the primary cause of medical insurance premium increases.

    Government refusing to pay doctors and nurses in full for Medicare is a major reason the rest of us have to pick up the slack with higher premiums on our treatments and insurance.

  29. Lee Muller

    With the average physician paying almost 25% of their gross income in malpractice insurance, it is obvious that lawsuits are out of control, and a major contributor to increased costs to all of us.

  30. Bart

    If malpractice was covered under a federal law and incompetent doctors were held accountable nationwide, not allowed to lose their license in one state and move to another to continue, maybe tort reform would work and actually bring down costs. If the medical profession would do a better job of policing its own ranks, we would reduce the ranks of the incompetent practitioners.

    Missouri has been working on tort reform and according to varying reports, the cost of health insurance has not come down. Quite frankly, until there is a national tort reform, we won’t know if tort reform will work or not. Texas claims success but overall health care costs have not been reduced by any significant amount. What has happened is that more doctors have returned to the state and more jobs created as a result.

    I agree with Toreno that patients who are injured by an incompetent doctor should not have to bear the burden of correcting the problem. Not only is it morally wrong but a social and legal injustice. There are a couple of local doctors who shouldn’t be allowed to treat a rat, much less a human.

    I am on Medicare and will tell anyone who trashes the program to get a grip. I don’t consider it socialist at all and have paid into Medicare all of my working life and expect value in return for my investment. It is one program that if the fraud and waste were cleaned out, ran efficiently, and effective oversight and enforcement applied, would be a major success. I can tell you first hand there are more than enough private insurance companies vying for my premiun dollars and there ARE choices. PERIOD!

    However, as with almost all government run programs, it has become too much of a political tool. Without necessary oversight, it invites crooks and cheats to continue to steal the money we have been paying into the program.

    First, clean it up with hiring additional enforcement personnel. Go after the cheats with a vengeance, gloves off, no holds barred. If insurance companies are so adept at establishing actuarial tables to determine coverage and other critical information, they should be able to use the same evaluation technigues to spot Medicare and Medicaid cheating. When I was involved in writing evaluation programs, the same logic could be applied to other applications. Tendencies are tendencies and easily identifiable.

    None of this is rocket science. It only takes mature adults, willing to set ideological differences aside, look at what is best for the nation, not a political party, and do some meaningful research. Understand that we need to take it one step at a time, not try to close the chasm that exists in one giant leap. We have tried that approach too often and too often with little meaningful success.

    Frankly, I am tired of the rhetoric and immaturity displayed on both sides of the aisle. If we cannot come together on this issue, we are basically screwed.

    I have been around a lot longer than most on this blog and have witnessed too many well intentioned programs go askew with too much involvement from self-centered politicos.


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