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Merry Christmas, from Uncle Sam (aka, your tax dollars)

In case you haven’t heard.

Anyway, there are several things that enrage me about this whole healthcare debate: its unConstitutional nature, the digusting way our “representatives” have responded to the will of the people, the accounting gimmicks being used to hide the true costs of these bills, etc., etc., so on and so forth, I could go on and on.

But what really gets my goat (Where did that expression originate, anyway?? What does that even mean? I don’t know but I like it!) is the fact that this isn’t even about healthcare reform. It’s about putting one-sixth of our country’s economy in the hands of our federal government.

When this whole debate really started heating up, I actually believed it was about the healthcare system. Silly me. I won’t go so far as to say that I believed our leaders had alturistic desires to help out the minority of Americans who don’t have coverage or can’t afford coverage–I knew deep down that their motives were purely political (Re-election? Desire to be part of a historical change? Who knows.), albeit completely misled and outside of their bounds of responsibility.

Now it’s easy to see the chain of events and how they add up: these Congressmen and Senators don’t give a lick about actually providing people with coverage that’s cheaper or better or more portable or what-have-you. They see the healthcare field as a vehicle for putting more government goons in power over the economy; a way to bring the entire population (eventually) under the control of a nanny state. Why? I’m not sure. Money? Idealogy? Ignorance? Hatred of the capitalist system? I have no idea, honestly. All I know is that they truly believe that we the American people can’t think for ourselves, can’t make our own decisions; that we aren’t smart enough or capable enough of governing ourselves; that we’d all be better off with them dictating (and taxing) the terms of our existence.

How far our leadership has come from the days of the Founding Fathers. The Declaration of Independence was the result of a revolt against much less grevious injustices than we’re seeing today. But our Founding Fathers had faith in We the People; they believed we could make this country work and become greater than any other country on Earth by doing things differently. By putting the power of the government into our own hands.

Maybe this Christmas, we can find that faith in ourselves again.


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Full circle

Not only are the Congressmen and Senators who favor Obamacare painfully out of touch with the American people they represent, they’reĀ  disastrously out of touch with the legislative processes they should employ. Which, I guess, is just further evidence of how painfully out of touch they are with the American people they represent:

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Pelosi & Reid: putting the “dic” in “ridiculous”

When the health care debate really started heating up this summer, I was enraged simply by the unConstitutional role the federal government was trying to play. I eventually came to terms with the reality that no matter how loudly I speak or how many times I call my representatives, this administration is hell-bent on forcing “reform” down our throats. (I guess it depends on your definition of “reform”…but doesn’t it connotate improving the existing system? Not overthrowing the economy and instituting another flawed system?)

So, I figured I’d eventually have to support the lesser of however-many evils would arise out of the whole debacle. But now that bills are finalized in the House and the Senate, I can’t find a lesser evil to support.

A few weeks ago I heard about a draft of a GOP bill (only 230 pages, vs the monstrosities put out by Pelosi and Reid) that actually contained elements of true reform that I could support (given no other option but gov’t involvement). Does anyone know what happened with that? I haven’t heard about it since.

But now? I only have one question: who’s going to pay for Obamacare when those of us who morally oppose federally funded abortions, mandated health insurance coverage, the creation of a mega-czar to oversee the whole mess, rationed care, and all that comes with the Democrats’ idea of “reform” are in jail because we refuse to buy it?


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I have no words

But I’m sure Obama will more than make up for my speechlessness when he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize.

For what?!?

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Empower Patients First Act

Rep. Tom Price introduces a new idea for a health care bill that has the potential to be a middle ground in the ongoing reform debate: the Empower Patients First Act, HR 3400.

On the surface, it sounds much more reasonable than HR3200. But I’ve just started to read through the summaries and have yet to get to the actual bill text. And, after this summer, we all know that words are easily manipulated to technically say what people want to hear to gain support, but actually have a completely different meaning underneath and a different result in the long run.

A few ideas I find interesting (keeping in mind that my ultimate support for this bill depends on the details, which I need to read):

1. I don’t hear any mention of a mandate with this bill. Instead, they’re suggesting an automatic enrollment in federal coverage (like Medicaid) with the choice to opt-out. On the surface, I think this is a smart approach to deliver on the “extend coverage to all Americans” promise: people rarely opt-out of things they’re automatically enrolled in. Think about it: you don’t have to do anything, you’re in. It’s on you to take the time and go through the process to unsubscribe. But it’s not mandated coverage. That’s the part I like…you might be enrolled, but you have a choice about whether or not to stay enrolled. Obviously, my support of this option hinges on their definition of “opt-out” and what that process entails, and whether you have the choice to opt-in again if you so desire, and what that means for your existing coverage, etc., etc., but the fact that a choice even exists is a positive step in my opinion.

2. It also provides vouchers to low-income Americans if they want to opt-out of federal coverage and buy their own. Also a nice idea, on the surface. Not sure where the money for the vouchers will come from, but giving low-income people a choice in their coverage as well? I’ll at least give them a point for effort.

3. It will extend tax credits/deductions to people who don’t have coverage through their employer, hopefully making it more affordable for those people who fall through the cracks right now (temporarily unemployed, self-employed and insurance costs too much for their budget but their income disqualifies them for federal programs, etc.) to purchase insurance on their own. I like this idea better than raising taxes on wealthier people to pay for everyone else’s coverage.

4. It allows people to buy insurance across state lines (but there is a stipulation: you can only buy from another state if plans in your state’s premium costs 10% more than the national average…), thus giving people more control over which coverage they want to buy. I think this would be great in terms of competition and provide better prices for premiums, but the stipulation makes me wonder if it would ever be a real possibility. On the flip-side, the stipulation might stimulate enough competition within your own state that crossing lines won’t be necessary because you find great prices at home.

5. There are proposed reforms to medical liability and caps on awards, which would (hopefully) reduce the practice of defensive medicine and thus, drive down some costs.

Again, I have to read the actual bill instead of just the summaries, but this sounds like what should have been proposed in the first place and then been subjected to negotiations and amendments and such. I’m not sure how the Republicans have proposed to pay for this plan, or whether it addresses other concerns– like federally funded abortions, HSAs, end-of-life procedures, what it means for small businesses, etc.–but it’s a much more “competitive” approach that gives more power and choice to the people and the market (instead of a committee of beaurocrats) than I’ve seen so far.

So, who knows? I, for one, am just glad to see another option on the table, instead of just status quo or HR 3200. And I’m glad to see the Republicans putting up instead of just shutting up. It’s starting to feel like an actual conversation now instead of a one-sided, elitist contempt-fest.

You can read about HR 3400 here and here, and the actual bill here (there’s a link to the full text at the bottom of the page).

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Doncaster, anyone?

I think I like this guy:

Maybe he can host a little ol’ Beer Summit of his own and give President Obama some tips. Or the whole Congress, for that matter. And they can pay for their own flights over there.

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how about behavior reform?

When I started this blog, I wanted to keep personal details out of it. Mostly so if random people happened to find it, they wouldn’t discount my opinions because of my background or experiences. But, let’s be honest: who we are shapes our opinions, world views, understanding and expectations. Right? So, if readers choose to discount my perspective because of any personal details I happen to share, I didn’t want them here anyway!

In 2007 I was working, my husband was in school, and our insurance was provided through my employer. Then I had a baby and chose not to return to work. But because we needed insurance for some medical issues, we chose to pay COBRA for the next 6 or 8 months. COBRA cost us around $850/month, as much as the rent on our apartment.

During that time, I needed to have a small procedure done. It came up just as we were considering ending our COBRA coverage, so we figured we’d see which was the more economical option: pay the $850 for another month of coverage or pay for the procedure in cash. I asked my doctor what the procedure would cost. She had no idea. I asked the front desk people what it would cost, they had no idea. I asked the billing people and all they could tell me was, “Oh honey, it’d cost a few thousand dollars at best.” No one could give me an exact figure. So, we paid for another month of COBRA.

But it’s hit me lately that, as consumers, it’s almost impossible for us to operate within the healthcare market the same way we operate within other markets. My husband, for example, is a huge deal hunter. He researches, he studies, he shops around, he gets the best deal he can find. I don’t think we pay full price for much of anything, and it’s great to be able to choose how we spend our money on the items we want or need.

With our healthcare, however, we don’t even question the cost. Why? Because “our insurance covers it.” Someone else is paying for it. We’ve even adopted the attitude that, “Well, I probably could just wait out this cold, but shoot, it’s only $5 to see the doctor, I might as well go in.” What does that doctor visit really cost? Who knows? $100? $10? If the healthcare market actually functioned like every other market in this country, I’d call around and see which doctor had the best rates (combined with the best quality of service) before going in and spending my money on a visit.

Before we blow trillions of dollars on sweeping healthcare reform, why don’t we focus on behavior reform? If consumers could understand comparison shopping and financial accountability, they’d force the market to become competitive, all without government involvement or mandates. How to achieve this, I have no idea, but letting the credit market crash would’ve been a good start.

This video demonstrates my point exactly! And I appreciate how he clarifies that insurance initially existed to cover huge expenses like cancer treatment, catastrophic emergencies, etc., not routine, day-to-day care. Can’t we get back to that way of thinking?

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