Friday, July 24, 2009

Eva: Amen.

Amen to that.....I do agree what Fred had to say about the representatives 100%


Michael: Let's Do the Right Thing.

In a world that with the exception of a few small segments of zealously religious extremists, I think we can all agree 99% of us are for humanitarian rights and equitable treatment of human beings, (I have nothing against animals, don’t want to offend any PETA folks; but let’s stay on topic and just focus on people), that being said; federalizing health care is a wonderful idea. Citizenship in our advanced civilization is a very difficult thing. Protecting the framework of constitutional rights developed for a dramatically simpler society has proven to be daunting and becomes more and more challenging. We as a society have a tendency to overlook the key concept and the operative word as introduced above; “citizenship”.

None of us want to live in a socialist society, but are we too full of ourselves to recognize that we do want some aspects of that type of governing? We want a free society and the ability to make our own choices but we also we want the likes of an Energy Secretary that would stand up to oil conglomerates and regulate fuel prices to prevent gouging and price fixing… Let me know when we find that Energy Secretary. We do a great job regulating things like trans-fat and equine methane gas emissions, when do we focus our efforts adopting some federalization of basic needs staples; health care and energy. Socialism is not the answer but many aspects of it work when you can apply them without corruption. A tall order when you consider that with paid access; big business lobbyists already corrupt our system, but back to the point. We decided some time ago we needed to protect ourselves from ourselves. We can’t fix any of this until we have the 800 lb gorilla removed from the room. That’s fine, let’s just be a little selfish in the beginning and smart about it. Re-align taxes, stop talking about all the tax breaks being for the wealthy, of course they are; the wealthy are those already paying all the taxes in our country, how can we truly provide tax breaks to folks that don’t pay any taxes to begin with? Beyond the easy cost saving fixes like no longer absorbing the cost of policing the entire globe with our Military and providing continued economic assistance to countries like Mexico, (I have nothing against Mexico, not singling them out…), but they are a border country and one of wealthiest countries in the world, (in the top ten), and they do not provide any public assistance to their own people while accepting 13-15 million from the USA annually for just that purpose; where do their sick, poor, huddled masses go? They are forced to immigrate to the US and illegally most of the time. We as tax payers pay twice to assist these immigrants. The USAID provides globally in excess of 3.5 billion of your tax dollars via their EFS and TRTA programs to other countries for a myriad of reasons, regional political stability, public assistance, industrial development; you can see their budget and the individual break down online; you may agree with much of the assistance and the recipients but I believe you will disagree with many of the recipients and huge portions thereof. (North Korea was on that list) If we simply maintained and put first American tax paying citizens, (there’s that group of folks we keep forgetting about) the ones who pay in all the monies to provide all the worldwide benefits to non-American, non- taxpaying individuals, if we kept even 30% of this at home we could not only pay to nationalize and have the best healthcare in the world; but also restore that other severely crippled fund, social security. I believe myself to be charitable, I believe as a society we are by nature charitable, but its amazing how quickly a circumstance will change. I’ll give you the shirt off my back, but when you try and take it from me; I’ll fight you for it. Let’s do the right thing. Stop asking American citizens to pay more when our government has already borrowed from the same tax paying base; loans it will/can never repay. I personally will have been paying taxes and contributing to social security for 50 years at time of my own retirement, based upon early estimates I will be able to enjoy the benefit of SS payments for almost 21 months before social security bankrupts.

Thanks all, just shy of two years is probably all I should need after paying in for half a decade. Provide me the rights guaranteed to me by my forefathers; develop a flat tax so that everyone is equally effected and doing their part big or small, stop excessive global distribution of our tax dollars, and you will have the ability to pay for and regulate health care and provide many other services to tax paying American citizens without stripping them of their rights. Do this, and watch the monies continue to flow globally to those in need. You will be proud and impressed about how charitable American tax paying citizens can/will be when you allow them to give their shirt rather than taking it from them. Sorry I was all over the board, not really a blogger and multi tasking at work while writing this…


Bruce: I'm For Less Government

Good point, but one problem. By limiting someone's right to spend money as they wish violates our right to free speech. Once public financing is the only option in place, then government controls both access and content of any speech or campaign.

I'm for less government.


Fred: Public Financing vs. Lobbyist Power

Thanks again, Cal, for your characteristically perceptive and concise observations. And for starting this whole discussion, which has been most illuminating.

I'd like to comment briefly only on your last remark: about how the discussion of the health care crisis seems not to involve "us," the citizens, but is done by the government and that reform is going to be imposed on us from above. I think there is much truth to what you say, but I think the reason has less to do with Obama or with the arrogance of our governing class than with the realities of our democracy today--which is totally corrupted by money. Congressmen and senators now must spend so much time raising money to run a competitive campaign that they don't have time to pay attention to legislation, which is increasingly drafted by lobbyists who then tell the people who are supposed to represent us how they should vote--if they want that big campaign donation. So "our" reps are increasingly shills for the various lobbies: energy, pharmeceutical, hospital, auto, etc. It's not just solutions to the health care crisis that are being rammed down our throats, it's also policy on banking and finance, the environment, defense and foreign wars, and everything else. I commend to your collective attention the following Washington Post article by former Senator Fritz Hollings that tells it as it is: Stop the Money Chase.

The only way to break this disastrous situation is to insist on complete public financing of all elections, so that private contributions to candidates are illegal and all candidates have the same amount to spend on an election. Maybe it will only be then that we can have sane policies that make sense for all Americans, not just those interest groups that can throw tens of millions at our representatives.

Best to you all!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cal: We the People

Hi Christa and all.

I’m so glad to hear you chime in. Yours is the most compelling argument for reform. In your case (and in probably most cases of the “working poor”, sorry for that) part time employers are usually exempt by state law from extending coverage. That’s the way it is in Maryland. There should be an accommodation developed to prevent this. Right now it would be on a state by state basis because it is each state’s insurance board that determines what is covered and what is not as well as the rules of coverage. Medicare and Medicaid are different because they are Federally mandated programs administered by the states.(Like Highway dollars and Emissions Testing). This is all in the realm of state regulated private health insurance. If we stay with that then the states will have to make the changes. I’d welcome those changes and possibly a contribution from each part time employer to cover you and those in your predicament.

I don’t believe anyone in this discussion wants anyone to be without. I know I don’t. I would like one outcome of this discussion to be the rejection of a rushed- through national single payer health plan. I don’t trust the Federal government. I want to demand of all of our congressional leaders (a pox on both their houses!) that they cut the crap and do their jobs. Making changes to create conformity to the state plans is not that hard. But the elected ne’er do wells insist on injecting political gain (read votes) into the process. It is a disgrace. Let them talk about tort reform so premiums don’t keep rising; negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to shorten the patent period for their drugs so generics can be brought in sooner (determined by the Feds—and here we must recognize that this could impact research on drugs for the “orphan diseases” and “third world” diseases); mitigate end of life invasive treatments ( but no euthanasia, thank you-that’s for you Bob); and more. But I have no gripe with corporations making profits, no matter how huge, as long as they are regulated for efficacy and do the job.

A great physician should make as much money as he or she does (if that is indeed the goal; though one would hope not). Nor Bill Gates, nor Rupert Murdock, nor Stephan Spielberg, nor Michael Jackson, nor Bill Clinton, nor Horatio Alger. It’s a great country!

Now to do away with some anecdotes:

-I have a primary care doctor. It usually takes a week or so to see him for a non-emergency, a month for a check-up, but same day if I am sick or need something urgently. He will refer me to specialist of my choice in my plan. Specialists do take longer. So be it. A specialist is not an emergency room doctor except in the emergency room.
-I have had specialists bend the rules (put words in my mouth) to get me tests or procedures that probably wouldn’t have been approved as necessary. They know how to play this game. They were necessary. A gastroenterologist who be permitted to do a sigmoidoscopy and not a colonoscopy when he knows it is called for because there is family history, knows what will trigger approval. To me this a great doctor.
-I approved minor skin cancer removal for my mother Lucy when she was 96. She died 6 months later. Why that wasn’t rejected by Medicare I don’t know. I regret approving it, though. It was an emotional consideration.
-A number of our family doctors have left their practices over the years. Our obstetrician because of his opposition to REQUIRED CAESARIAN TO LIMIT LAWSUITS!!; our pediatrician because of the red tape when he was forced to join an HMO because of insurance costs; my orthapaedic surgeon because too many of his patients were denied surgeries he recommended. Just some of the Pre-existing conditions of privatized insurance which must be corrected. These doctors were all at the top of their careers, Who’s Who doctors,who simply walked away. I fear much more of this under national healthcare.

As Governor Zell Miller(R) said a the 2004 democratic convention about John Kerry’s voting record, “I could go on…” and then he did. But I won’t. Except…

I think the fact that there is this explosion of very rational and apparently pent up response illustrates that there has been very little discourse on this subject. That, I think, is the fault of the President. Most of us have this feeling of having this thing shoved down our throats, no matter our political persuasion. I, for one, can say honestly that no one has asked me for my opinion or what I want or need. Nor my permission. Nor even acknowledged that it is required. Am I alone here? Government has developed an arrogance that ignores the fact that it is WE THE PEOPLE who grant rights to the government, not the other way around. Hence, the Tea Parties. I wonder if today’s college age kids know that.


Fred: Lets Keep this Going

Wow. Thanks, Christa, for this amazing comment that brings the ugly realities of our present "system" into clearer focus. Gives us even more to think about. Seems like we should keep the discussion going on this, we are still a long way from a solution...

Best to all,

Christa: Health Care on Under $20k/Year

Hi all,

Ordinarily I'd stay out of this conversation, but as one of the younger generation some of you seem to be so worried about, I thought I should say something.

In the 10 years since I graduated from college I’ve worked really hard. I've worked as a Sales Associate, as an Exhibition and PR Coordinator for a nonprofit organization, and now as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at two colleges, all in addition to my fairly busy career as an artist. Never once has health insurance been offered or discounted through any of these jobs. I pay for those skyrocketing premiums myself, though I still make less than $20k a year. I'm extremely grateful to have amazing parents (ahem) who've helped me when I was really struggling to cover some of those bills.

I am an anomaly among my peers, who also work hard as part time professors, arts administrators, child care workers, and sales people. The vast majority of them don't have health insurance of any kind, and live in fear of getting sick or getting in an accident. I get to go to the doctor whenever something's wrong, though since my plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield doesn't cover medications, I don't always have the luxury of filling the prescription ($200 for six pills of migraine medication? That's almost a week's pay for me!)

I have no doubt that it's frightening for many people to see the health care system on the verge of such a big change when things seem have worked just fine for such a long time. But when things are running smoothly in your own community it's easy to take for granted that it's actually been really awful for 46 million or so Americans who haven't had the same privileges.

The fact is, health insurance in this country is a mess. Even for those of us who DO have it, it's often:

A. impossible to get an appointment with the doctor you want less than three months in advance (isn't that what everyone fears about socialized medicine? 'cause it happens to me here all the dang time).

B. a huge stressful tangle of calling and waiting and worrying when the bill comes and says that for some reason the $1,000 test you had to have will not be covered by your insurance after all.

C. only really helpful once you've already paid the $2,000 deductible per year, depending on your plan, which for some of us is 10% of our annual income.

Whether the government is involved or not -- as a person in the world, in fact I do think that your health care is my responsibility, and the responsibility of your community... and vice versa. It already is whether you like it or not. Dad, you've seen the impact that not having insurance had on the man who helped renovate your house, and you guys helped him out in any small way you could. I hope he'd do the same for you if you were the one who needed support instead.

In a country that happens to have such an incredible imbalance of wealth and power, it seems ridiculous to also have a system where one person can get the best health care there is to offer but in exchange 10 others have to suffer from infections and perhaps die because they make less money and can't afford the treatment. Why is that a good idea? I'm sure some of you will have answers to this.

Look. We're all at different stages in our lives, and I can see that some of you don't trust the younger generation to do right by you. But the fact is that most people do care about older generations a lot. We want our parents and grandparents to have good care, whether they've been able to save up lots of money or not. Some of us want for other Americans to have decent health care too, that's all.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bob: and Free Euthanasia for All...

If we do end up with government controlled health care I imagine euthanasia will be included (Hopefully as an option) for us old folks. It should be acceptable to all those who support "Choice"

By the way, "free" is an illusion if government is involved. I'm led to believe that when they buy a $10. hammer it costs taxpayers a bit more

I'm a hard case for I haven't considered the government capable of doing anything efficiently. However my generation is going quickly and the future is up to you younger folks.


Fred: Perspectives from a Spanish Physician

Hello, everyone! Thanks to George and Bob for their thoughts in response to mine (and to Cal for getting us all engaged in this important question!). No doubt about it, the health care issue is one of the great ones for our time, and it certainly isn't easy to understand (does anyone fully understand it?) or to solve. But, it is great to have exchanges like this, it helps me, for one, clarify my thinking a lot.

I am lucky today in that I have a house guest who is, as it happens, a physician in Spain. She's now in her residency phase and will specialize in ER care. So it was interesting to discuss some of these issues over dinner with her and her cousin (American, also staying with me now).

She was quite mystified by the American dilemma. In Spain, which has "socialized medicine," the government runs hospitals and clinics and pays doctors. If you are sick, or injured, or need nursing care, you go to a clinic, or a hospital, or wherever you need to go, and you are treated by the doctors. You don't have to pay anything because everyone in Spain is allowed to use the health care system as needed. The doctors are paid on a salary, presumably: generous enough (my visitor just bought herself a BMW--she's about 30 or 35, I would guess) but doctors there don't become millionaires. (Is that bad?). There's no question of "government bureaucrats deciding what health care you get," as the scare ads like to scream: the government collects taxes and uses them to pay for whatever health care costs the population as a whole incurs, and certainly this becomes a fairly predictable and steady kind of reimbursement because a city has a fairly stable population and its aggregate health care needs probably change little from year to year. Neither patients nor doctors have to worry about insurance claims, or filling out all kinds of forms: you go to the doctor and get treated, and that's it.

So it seems to me that the problem with our system, and with the proposed Obama solution too, is that it STILL focuses not on health care itself, which is what we need, but on health INSURANCE, which I increasingly think is just a parasitic growth that we should eliminate. Much of the screaming against any reform comes from the health insurance companies: but it's the insurance-based approach that has really created the crisis we now face. If we must keep the insurance companies (rather than move to a system like Spain's), perhaps we should make it illegal for insurers to write health insurance without also providing a death benefit/life insurance component. In other words, the insurer would, for your premium, agree to pay your health care costs and also, if you died, to pay your heirs the death benefit. This might make insurers more interested in helping the insured get the care they needed to get well, rather than in cutting costs by denying claims, because they'd be on the hook for the death benefit if you died. It would provide an incentive for the insurers to do a better job with health insurance.

But--I still think a fully socialized system of health care would be preferable. No payments, no forms, doctors get to concentrate on treating patients in what they think is the best way without worrying about cost constraints. Doctors wouldn't be tempted to take on hundreds of patients they hardly saw in order to get the per-patient reimbursements they now receive; they'd just draw their regular salary. I know many don't like the idea of a government-supported health system; you can't choose your doctor is one of the main gripes. But, I think one actually *could* choose one's doctor for routine care: if you lived in, say, Chicago, the doctors who worked in the local clinics and hospitals would probably be a fairly stable pool, and you could arrange to see a particular one you liked by appointment for anything that was not urgent: regular checkups, etc. If you had an emergency, of course, you'd have to go to the clinic/ER and take your chances on who was on duty, but that's just like what we have now anyway, so what's the difference?

Cal's concern about illegals getting health care they don't "deserve" also set me thinking. In our pay-as-you-go system of course it seems galling to have 12 million "illegals" who can get health coverage while we pay for it. But: some of these illegals actually work and pay taxes. So those people are not really cheating the system, they are helping to support it. Second: if you want to construct a system that keeps out the people who don't have the right paperwork, how do you do it? The only way is to have an elaborate system of regulations, and forms to fill out, and people to take care of that paperwork and inspect it for other words, you create a huge overhead of paperwork, in order to deny this small segment of the population (maybe 3% of our population) getting health care. I'm not sure it's worth it: it's probably cheaper just to let everyone come to the clinic to get their broken hand set, their throat culture for strep taken, etc. And it's much more compassionate, which I like to think is an important part of what America is all about: I, for one, would NOT want to live in a society where I would have to pass on the streets people with bad, but treatable, diseases or injuries. Can we turn the child with a broken arm away because his parents are "illegal"? Or an adult, for that matter? What would that say about us as a society, as individuals? ("Heartless" comes to mind.) Anyway, it's probably cheaper just to treat everyone than to try policing to keep out "illegals." It just isn't worth it.

This raises another thought, one that goes to Bob's comment "What business is it of yours what health insurance I have?" If you look at it solely from the perspective of insurance--which I think is the core of the problem-- then, of course, it's no business of mine. If you want to take big risks, have no coverage, get sick and die or pay a fortune out of pocket for treatment, that's your business and your bad luck I suppose. But we can't look at this only from the perspective of insurance and our personal money. We must also look at it from the perspective of public health/epidemiology in an increasingly dense society; if my neighbor comes down with a virulent flu or cholera, I damn well DO want him to get treatment, and quickly too, before it spreads to me and into the local schools and in the local supermarket. Even with noncommunicable ailments, I think we owe it to ourselves and our communities not to have people covered with painful oozing boils, or broken and deformed limbs, or other horrible conditions begging on our sidewalks or knocking at our doors asking for handouts; such conditions may not be medically communicable, but they're socially communicable, so to speak. On top of which, there's the broader matter that keeping the WHOLE population in a better state of health means, generally, fewer days lost to illness by businesses and a more productive economy. So, since we live in communities, I think we have to shoulder the burden of communal life to the extent that we try to guarantee that everyone has access to good medical care they can afford. The insurance approach simply doesn't provide that.

I agree completely with George that any plan that is proposed for the population at large should certainly be the one that the President and members of Congress and all public servants belong to as well. I also agree with him that tying health insurance to employment is the wrong approach, for the reasons he pointed out. But I'd go further: get not only the government out of the health insurance business, but also the health insurance companies out of the health insurance business, and just have a publicly-run health care system open to all. No insurance required. Like in Spain, tailored to our needs. Yes, we'd pay higher taxes I suppose--but maybe no higher, maybe quite a bit less, than our current health insurance premiums. It would sure take a big burden off business not to have to provide this any longer. And it would be so much simpler for everyone: patients, doctors, hospitals, who would no longer have to negotiate the current maze of paperwork.

As for the haste/waste question, which George also raised: in principle I agree. But I heard an interesting comment on the radio the other day--claiming that Obama's rush is based in his awareness that the longer the debate goes on, the more time the insurance lobby and the pharmaceutical lobby and others will have to pour money into "scare" ads to sway the population against any reform. So he wants to get something passed before these lobbyists with their billions really have time to get mobilized.

But then--this simply points out that the most basic problem we face as a country is the corrosion of democracy by money in politics. Until we have fully publicly-funded elections so senators and congressmen aren't beholden to interest groups and their campaign contributions (and hence to their lobbyists), any other kind of reform will be difficult. But...that's to open a whole new issue. Let's stick to health care for now!

Thanks again, everyone, for your comments!

Best to you all,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

George: Concerns and More Ideas

Cal and Fred,

Thanks for your thoughts on this most complicated question. I also don't like the idea of a government monopoly telling us what is going to be covered and what is not. And it is ridiculous for Mr. Obama, who never ran a lemonade stand or any other business, to tell us we must hurry up and pass this bill affecting about 15% of the US economy, which we haven't seen and which apparently hasn't been completely written yet. Haste makes waste, and I fear Washington will end up throwing out some things that DO work in our present system and ending up with something worse.....with higher costs, wrong incentives, and less individual choice. It needs to be discussed in depth, and not just rammed through sight unseen. Even some of the more thoughtful Democrats are getting nervous about this.

It is true there are people - unemployed or underemployed - who can't afford any insurance, and that isn't a good thing. Others could afford it but may choose not to. Some are in the U.S. illegally and should not be subsidized. Still others have a job with a good plan that they don't want messed with. So it's complicated and it needs careful thought.

It seems to me not a good thing to have health insurance tied to one's employer, because then if you lose your job you are in a double crisis: no income, and no insurance. I think it ought to be like life insurance, car insurance, or homeowner's insurance, which are completely separate from your employment. That ought to be possible.

I've also had the thought that when we were growing up 50 years ago, there were no HMO's involved with medicine; and also there was no government involved. Yet somehow we all got health care when we needed it. Are we making this too hard?

My three conditions for a government plan (fat chance of Washington paying any attention!) are these:

1. Whatever they want to impose upon the citizens, must also be adopted for all Federal employees including the President and all members of Congress. Let their families depend on the same plan as the rest of us.

2. First get Medicare, an existing government-run insurance plan which is currently headed for insolvency, straightened out financially and on a sound footing. If Washington cannot do that, then don't talk to us about extending its reach to the whole health-care system. Get the deficits out of Medicare first. Show us you can do it - if you can.

3. Before rolling out Obamacare and messing up the whole country, try a pilot program in one state only, to see how it works. Perhaps Massachusetts or California would like to volunteer, they have some experience via their own attempts to bring in universal health insurance. If the system works and you don't have doctors fleeing, medicine shortages, monstrous deficits etc, then we can consider it for the other states.

It was good to hear from you both.

Bob: Why is My Health Care Any of Your Responsibility?

Hi Fred,

My solution would be to ask Gov't to get out of business. Many from other countries come here for the best of care.

Why is my health care any of your responsibility?

I would like or Federal government to concentrate on national defense and foreign relations. Most of he balance of government should be returned to and left to the States. I admit that the millions of Federal employees would have to be added to the welfare rolls for many would find the transition to the private sector difficult.

If in the infinite wisdom of our public we decide to have some form of Universal Health card I would like to be sure that Congress is a participant.

I don't know what developed countries are. I still believe we were the best of all. The number of illegal people infiltrating our system seems to suggest much of the world still prefers to come here. I do admit I have no statistics on illegals sneaking in to European, African, Asian Countries. Fred, I suspect you are an expert on the subject as it relates to the Middle East.

Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin is a quick read that offers a bit on the conservative side of politics.


Fred: A Few Suggestions

But, Cal, what are we to do--nothing? The present health care "system" is completely broken. It's a scandal that the US is the ONLY developed country that doesn't have a public health care system.

It's not just 50 million people who have no coverage at all, and probably an equal number who have inadequate coverage; it's the fact that health care costs increase steeply every year and will soon bankrupt everyone--except, of course, those involved in the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital businesses. The first two, in particular, are making billions in profits every year, are among the most profitable of US industries. At present, from what I have heard, about 30 cents of every dollar we spend in the U.S. on health care goes to the health insurance companies--whose main goal is NOT to provide us with health care, but to maximize their profits by figuring out ways to avoid paying for tests, procedures, etc. It's a business, after all! In other words, this 30% of our health care costs is completely wasted. does go into the pockets of the armies of insurance bureaucrats and employees who decide what health care we get, or who can get insurance at all, etc., so it does keep them afloat financially. But, I think if we recaptured that 30cents on the dollar by closing down all the health insurance companies and using the money to provide actual health care, we could cover everyone. The former health insurance employees would be out of jobs, but could be offered jobs (or retraining and jobs) in the business of actual health care--now providing it, not denying it. There's a lot of need for nurses, people to help with rehab, etc., and they could be put to work doing that instead of studying someone's claim to see what they can weasle out of. A single-payer plan may be the only way to get costs, especially for drugs, down to realistic levels. Only it would have the clout to force pharmaceutical companies to charge something closer to the cost of production of the drugs, rather than gouging us ("your money or your life!").

There's a lot of talk about how Big Pharma needs all that extra gravy to support R&D for new drugs, but (1) there's a long history of Big Pharma pushing new drugs that aren't really needed just to make the killer profits they bring, (2) much research is done with NSF grants at NIH, universities, and at the pharmaceutical companies themselves. In the present miserable excuse for a proper health care system, I have pretty good insurance coverage--a group plan through my employer. It's not cheap; there are monthly premiums and a 10% copay provision; and the idea that I have some magical instant access to "my" doctor is a delusion--she is scheduled at least a month in advance, so for any quick treatment I must go to the emergency room, where costs are astronimical. A more clinic-oriented system for walk-in treatment of routine matters would be nice, but where is it? Certainly not in the present system, unless you can afford to join an elite group that is only for the rich. I think a public plan crafted to eliminate at least the largest defects of the existing public plans in other countries, which have been running for years and for which we have good data on effectiveness and cost, would be far preferable to the mess we have now. And, in the long run, probably much cheaper that what we will face in 10 years if the scare bulletins of Big Pharma, Health Insurers, etc. about "socialized medicine" sway enough people away from reforming the system now. Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Israel, and every other developed country has a public plan, and most work pretty well--so let's study those plans, eliminate the few glitches they contain, and tailor a system that will give us quality care at reasonable cost for every human who sets foot in the USA--citizen, illegal alien, tourist, it doesn't matter: we're all humans and now and then need health care. I'd much rather pay higher taxes for that, and lower correspondingly our outlays to the Pentagon; but we may not need to raise taxes, if we can eliminate the 30% insurance overhead and keep spiraling costs down.

Best, -Fred

Cal: Soylent Red and Health Care Reform

Dear Friends and Family,

Does anyone remember the Charlton Heston Sci-Fi movie "Soylent Green" in which the elderly were boiled down into a tasty and nutritious jell in order to feed the more deserving younger society? A little like "Brave New World". Well, here we are. Only now it's not food-it's health care. We stand at the precipice of the end of Medicare. Why? Because when 50,000,000 people have insurance there won't be enough health care professions to serve them. That means rationing. And with government bean counters calling the shots who do you think will get the hip replacement? The 45 year old injured in an accident, or an 80 year old suffering from arthritis? The elderly are going to suffer from this ill-thought out proposal. 10% of Medicare expenditures are made in the last month of life. Do you believe a government program cares at all what happens to a person struggling to hold on until loved ones have had a chance to say good-bye.

The elderly ( and this includes not just the currently elderly, but to soon to be elderly Baby Boomers. There's 60,000,00 of us. SOYLENT RED. The path to paying for nationalized single payer rationed health care. God help us all.

I'm sure you all are aware of the breakdown of that 50,000,000 uninsured. +- 12,000,000 illegal aliens; 8,000,000 working poor citizens who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but can't afford insurance premiums; 15,000,000 in families who make $50,000-$75,000 who say they can't afford health insurance (I have 10 of these folks working for me and they manage to buy company sponsored health insurance; presumably by not buying $6,000 TV's, boats, etc.); and finally 15,000,000 in the group of 18-25 year olds who can afford insurance but consider it a waste of money because they are healthy. Who among these should we help pay for unaffordable health care coverage? I suggest the 8,000,000 working poor. Wouldn't you agree?

Of course all the future national bailout and spending debt will be dumped on our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, won't it? Not our problem. Of course, they could tax Social Security and Medicare benefits to the elderly. Unthinkable, you say. Remember Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (the Franking Thief)? 1970's. He proposed and the House of Representatives PASSED!! a bill that would tax Social Security benefits. The old folks literally beat his car with their canes in the streets of Detroit and protested until the House was forced to rescind their vote. Take nothing for granted.

If you are elderly or if you are planning to be elderly I urge you to express your opposition to this insane socialist program. Not for ourselves, but for our descendants sake, for posterity, and for the greatness of our Nation. Let us turn the Baby Boomer generation (often characterized as lazy, selfish, self-absorbed, and apathetic since the 60's) inspired by the accomplishments of their elders (the original Greatest Generation) into the next Greatest Generation. This is our moment. We can not "duck and cover" anymore. It's time to take a stand!!! There are no excuses.

Join me in contacting your representatives and senators. Express your opposition politely. Then, join me and hundreds of thousands of main stream liberals, conservatives, and libertarians at the Capitol September 12 or at one of the hundreds of Tea Parties across the country. This tyranny must not stand!! Let's kick some political ass. The 60's are back Boomers. The 60's are back. (Once victorious we will calmly discuss changes to private insurance to cover the working poor, reduction of needless procedures, education of families about too-intrusive and unnecessary procedures on the infirm and dying, and yes my lawyer relatives, tort reform.)

Thank you for your time. Your generally not so incensed relative and friend.


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