Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reform Rx - Snowestorm

Following up on this morning's post; people really can cut through the fog and see who Senator Snowe is concerned about with her "trigger" happy talk.

This cross-country sample contains a good deal of frankness we need to add to our efforts in demanding that Senator Snowe works on behalf of citizen constituents not the insurance corporate constituents she now favors.

Reform Rx: Senator, pull the trigger today!

In an AP interview in Portland, Olympia Snowe outlines her preference for the so called “trigger” option that would introduce a public plan into health care reform that only takes effect if private insurance fails to deliver affordable coverage. Yes, it is a bit foggy on the Maine coast this summer but it ought to be clear that private insurance has failed already. We need the fix now. We need Maine citizens served now with substantive and effective health care reform. Senator Snowe, pull the trigger today!

The Senator is very concerned about the financial health of private insurers and being fair to them. The unfettered market that they have enjoyed in the last decades already gave them their chance. The health of Maine citizens needs to be Olympia’s focus. Senator Snowe, pull the trigger today!

Olympia even recognizes the problem by stating: “I don’t think we can entirely depend on the private insurance market to deliver. They haven’t delivered thus far, and that’s why we’re in the predicament we’re in today.” We expect that seeing a problem would result in firm action by our elected representatives. Senator Snowe, pull the trigger today!

Olympia touts getting a bipartisan bill and preaches compromise to get the broadest support possible. That lack of broad support seems to exist only in the United States Senate. There is broad reform support in the public as indicated by the 72% in a recent New York Times/CBS poll. And whether we like it or not, democrats have supported the Senator, so she has bi-partisan support here in Maine. Senator Snowe, pull the trigger today!

Olympia is concerned that “…the public option will have significant price advantages.” Of course that is the very advantage consumers want! The “trigger” option is designed to postpone publically funded options in favor of trusting private insurance to control costs. This delaying tactic allows special interests to eventually defeat true reform. It places trust where it ought not. Senator Snowe, pull the trigger today!

Contact Olympia Snowe’s office; use the above points and your own concerns. Tell her you support a public option. And if like me your original preference was for a single-payer plan, tell her the public option now is the compromise, no compelling reasons exist for further concessions. It’s time to represent, not equivocate.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Reform Rx – Rational vs. Rationing

This weekend the “rationing” chatter seemed to go up a notch. This key fear tactic is one we will hear a great deal about. Those opposing reform are trying to get us to conjure up a black and white image of a dozen hacking and sniffing older patients first wallowing in a waiting room on hard back chairs in the summer heat before being called into a harshly lit metallic looking closet to be told by a unfeeling and faceless bureaucratic doctor that they can’t get the procedure for a few years.

The argument is purposely misleading and rationing of health care isn’t reform’s basic tool. The approach is about being rational not rationing.

Reorienting how we spend health care dollars efficiently does involve choices that the opposition will do everything possible to twist into a rationing nightmare. However very rational informed choices about what tests when, what drugs why and similar sound evaluations can help target heath care drive cost efficiency. When this rational approach uses information from well managed complete heath care personal records and navigates reasonably through the waters of defensive medicine, good medical outcomes can result. And positive outcomes are a critical goal to pursue. More focus on preventative medicine may well result in a decline of some procedures or prescriptions. Of course those rational declines will be cited as evidence of rationing!

This morning’s KJ had an interesting piece from the Washington Post by Michael Kinsley. It makes some rational observations on the myths about rationing.

The greatest myth ignored in this argument is that we already have severe rationing and that is what reform can help reduce. Having a profit focused system has rationed out to Americans as a whole an inferior, unequal, and inadequate system. HMOs feature rationing. Small businesses unable to offer health care plans represents a form of rationing. Pre-existing conditions discrimination and unfair claim denials are a form of rationing. Cherry picking and choosing who is insured is rationing. Large deductibles ensure rationing health care based on income. And non-universal access to reasonable care is definitely rationing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reform Rx - Adding Voices

During this summer as the battle for real health care reform heats up, I hope to add some perspective on this critical issue. I’ll post a couple to a few times per week with several aims.

One goal will be to discuss different ways of looking at the debate over universal health care legislation. An outcome of this might be some points you can use convincingly around water cooler and dinner table debates because it is vital that we grow our voice on reform. Also you can expect occasional references to websites or articles that oppose universal health care to increase exposure about what we are up against. And perhaps a reference to an item with a farcical twist will also be offered.

Your added comments, replies, and networking would be very welcome to build on the effort outlined above. Citizen participation is a key element in this battle and pulling in others who are silently supportive, sitting on the sidelines, undecided, or skeptical is essential. Again, we need to grow our voice. We have two United States Senators that we must influence. They will hear the message from activists but need to sense that there is a ground swell of new voices that they cannot easily dismiss.

Why am I concerned about health care reform and what are my views on the subject? Health care with true reform that includes universal access and medical outcomes that serve citizen needs effectively is key in my opinion. I do not think you achieve that goal with tinkering around the edges of our present health care mess to appease corporate lobbyists and insurance interests. I believe that a robust and empowered public plan is essential, especially since a preferable single-payer concept just won’t be in the mix. I’ll try to keep a strong focus on these concerns.

In closing there are many reasons for all of us to embrace health care reform. Many of us have our own personal situations that we need addressed. For some it is older parents who need help, for others it may be concern for adult children just starting out on careers, or perhaps it is friends facing overwhelming medical costs burdens. This minute list is a mere starter. I believe there is also an overarching factor to consider: It is morally right.

And Now It's Energy

I really get tired of Republican foot dragging tactics. I just watched Wall Street Journal editorial writer Stephen Moore on CNN's Your Money with Allie Velcher talking about this being the absolute worst time to implement the Waxman-Markey, or American Clean Energy and Security Act, because of the state of our economy. They (the Repugnicans) just don't get that they (their party) have been dragging their feet and and putting off action on this issue for nearly four decades now, even refusing to endorse the Kyoto accord by claiming that that would hurt the U.S. economy. Had they acted sometime earlier in that four decade period we would be much further ahead with our sustainable green economy, more energy self-sufficient and much less vulnerable to international terrorism and petro-blackmail. Hell, we probably would not even be in Iraq if we were less dependent on foreign oil, as we could have and should have been 25 or 30 years ago. Their resistance to change in our wasteful energy habits and inaction on the global warming issue have put us in the urgent situation we are now in. So if now is not the appropriate time, what time would they consider to be appropriate? The global threat of green house warming far supercedes the condition of the U.S. economy. We have been warned by legions of reputable climatologists and atmospheric scientists that further delay in reducing green house gas emissions could be catastrophic. It may even be already too late. This bill just passed in the house may cost U.S. consumers $10 to $15 per month in increased energy costs. A very small price indeed to pay for a sustainable green future!

Friday, June 26, 2009

On Taxes and the Grand Obstructionist Party

So how 'bout them republicans??? Rave for years and years about reducing taxes, and now we do it, and all they want to do is complain! It isn't enough - - - - it isn't what we wanted - - - - it isn't fair - - blah, blah. blah, blah, blah!!! So what do they want? Do away with all taxes? So who pays for schools, police, fire protection, highway construction, court system, etc., etc.? Do they want to eliminate taxes entirely? How do they expect to pay for public services, and who will pay? Do they expect that free will donations and charitable contributions will do the trick? Yeah, right! If that worked, then Catholic charities, the Salvation Army and United Way would pay for all our public services and we wouldn't need any publicly funded social services - - - - as if!!! Keep dreaming, Josh Tardy and crew! Here we have a tax bill that reduces income taxes for 90% or so for all Mainers, the total tax bill for more than 80% of all Mainers, and shifts some of the tax burden to tourists and visitors "from away", and they want to throw the whole deal out??? Get real!!! All they want to do is whine and complain that this is not the package that they wanted. So what would they change? When they had control they couldn't get it done so now they complain that we Dems did - - sounds like sour grapes to me.