The Intermittent Kevin

As rarely and randomly updated as most blogs

Health care: My response to Carter’s response

with 2 comments

…In response to the previous email, I just sent my Congressman the following email. It built on the research I’ve conducted so far (and required a couple hours’ additional reading) but I’m relatively proud of it.

Congressman Carter,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my email, in which I expressed my support for health-care reform proposals currently being discussed. I hope you don’t mind if I offer a point-by-point response.

First, you stated that “America has the highest quality health care in the world.” In support of this assertion, you quoted some impressive-sounding statistics about cancer survival rates in this country versus some in Europe. However, cancer mortality is actually almost identical across most developed countries; a much more aggressive push for cancer screening leads to a much higher diagnosis of cancer in the US population, even though the number of deaths is not sizably different. For more context, I encourage you to read this insightful New York Times article that discusses the issue in detail; or, if I could be so bold, I discussed the same topic in this blog post.

Setting aside this topic, though, I should mention that cancer is almost the only metric in which American health-care results compare favorably to other developed nations. In other important measures like average life span and infant mortality, I’m sure you’re aware that the United States ranks extremely low, and the disparity is even greater when you consider our exaggerated health-care spending. And this is not to mention the fact that 14 percent of US citizens are without health-care coverage.

Second, you agreed with me that health care costs too much; “Lawsuit abuse, government regulations, and abuse of our programs by illegal aliens have caused health care costs to spiral out of control,” you said, “and these costs increased the financial burden on American families.”

Of course health care in our country costs too much—15 percent of our GDP—but the factors you cite are not major contributors to this problem. I too am in favor of malpractice tort reform, but the CBO estimates that it caps on damages will reduce health-care spending by less than half a percent (cite). The same is true for abuse of health-care programs by illegal aliens; though I wasn’t able to find recent data for Texas, the costs of illegal immigrants to California in 2004 amounted to $1.4 billion, less than one percent of its total—and even that percentage appears to be relatively high (cite).

What are contributing to the spiraling costs of health care much more significantly are, primarily, increases in Medicare and Medicaid spending. This CBO report from June of this year outlines the problem quite clearly; as it says, if we can simply cut the rate of spending growth by one percent per year, it would be more than enough to pay for a public-option health-care plan (or any number of other health care overhauls). The CBO believes this is patently achievable, since even establishing equitable Medicare treatment across different regions could cut its spending by up to thirty percent.

Your third point is that you are opposed to any form of government-run health-care plan, such as the public option which I support. You cite two reasons for doing so:

Cost: the Democratic proposals do indeed amount to about $900 billion, which represents an increase of almost 10 percent per year over current spending. I share your concerns that such a plan might not be deficit-neutral, but the CBO’s estimate of a $239 billion deficit increase over 10 years would amount to less than one percent of the estimated gross debt for 2019. I consider a potential one-percent increase in total debt to be an acceptable risk, if the benefit is a better and lower-cost insurance option for uninsured (or underinsured) Americans. Perhaps you feel differently.

Competition: It is certain that many small businesses and individuals would switch from private insurance to a public plan, and it’s just as certain that the public option would put pressure on private companies to lower costs. Indeed, this is its intent. Whether it would have the eventual effect of driving private insurance completely out of business is quite debatable—different experts have reached different conclusions. But the numbers you quote are very questionable.

The so-called “independent” Lewin Group, which predicted 114 million Americans would be “forced” out of their current coverage, is fully owned by United Healthcare Group, which obviously has a vested interest in the debate. This number is almost certainly inflated. Meanwhile, the CBO report that estimated 23 million Americans would lose their current plans made no mention of the fact that those same Americans would simply be transitioning to different coverage, like that offered by the insurance exchange or the public option. It’s a misrepresentation to suggest that this number represents uninsured Americans.

Fourth, you spoke against the proposed insurance exchange, because it would “mandate what procedures are covered and how much physicians are reimbursed.” (Here you repeat another inflated claim, that 120 million Americans could lose their coverage.) I can only agree with you, since that’s exactly what the exchange is for—to standardize insurance benefits and ensure basic coverage. I view this as a good thing for insurance shoppers, and I’d refer you to the list of benefits described by the Ways and Means committee here.

Fifth, you express concern over health-care rationing. Rationing is a scary word that brings to mind “death panels” and other government nightmares, but of course it is necessary to any functioning health-care system, and is employed daily by profit-motivated insurance companies in the form of refusing coverage for any number of questionable reasons. Rationing would of course be a part of a government-run plan as well; it could not be otherwise. I encourage you to read this New York Times Magazine article for a perspective on why rationing should not be a dirty word. In short, if one supports a public option, then one supports rationing—and I do. I fail to see why the specter of “government bureaucrats” is a scarier proposition than insurance corporations that (by their very nature) care more about profit margins than peoples’ health. I welcome your further comments.

There are many more topics to discuss that you brought up—I thank you again for your lengthy email. But my response has already grown long and I should come around to a conclusion. My conclusion is this: of course the health-care issue is complex and lacking in perfectly clear answers. But some of your concerns about the current proposals are inflated; some are unfounded; and about some, we simply disagree.

We do, however, agree that dramatic action is required to improve the health-care situation in this country. I hope you’ll look into bold proposals, including those brought by the Democrats, and above all focus on facts and accurate data—not talking points and the party line—when making your decisions.

Thanks one final time, and have a great weekend.

-Kevin

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Written by Kevin Miller

September 25, 2009 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. Our government panders to the 20 to 30 plus (?) illegal immigrants allowing them free subsidies from taxpayers in the US. California–a Sanctuary State has one of the worst records that currently languish under the immense burden of near bankruptcy, instead of –ATTRACTING–ICE to illegal business operations. Certain legislators in Sacramento, led by Gilbert Cedillo-D has authored a lame brain resolution condemning any interference in immigration enforcement. Congressman Brian Bilbray-R Calif. reminds Sen. Cedillo that this resolution breaks the laws of the Constitution. “He should look up the separation of powers section and this resolution is nothing more than political posturing.” Cedillo urges President Obama to declare an immediate moratorium on immigration policies and practices until a comprehensive reform of immigration is enacted. The resolution states ” The State of California values all of its residents, whether they be citizens, legal residents, or undocumented immigrants, and strives to enable all residents to work and live free from discrimination, exploitation, and repressive federal immigration enforcement.” This man certainly has no love for the legal American worker and should be immediately discarded from office as his words are a form of treachery to the jobless people hurting.

    Why wouldn’t certain legislators want health care for foreign labor, because they have an over abundance of illegal immigrant families to financially support? Our own government is so absorbed in protecting every other countries border? They remain unconcerned to our poor replica border fence that should have been a two-tier periphery, with border patrol surveillance lanes in between, as originally planned by Rep. Duncan Hunter. Every time a good enforcement plan is written, it’s methodically cut to pieces by pro-illegal worker politicians and open border fanatics. Though we spend billions on our armed forces in foreign lands, the rich countries in Europe just forward token troops and little money: while our nation is literary falling apart at the seams–or its rivets?

    Any moment now I expect to hear of yet another collapsing ailing city bridge, deteriorating waterworks, the underground pipes and eroding highway. Our cities are already exhibiting inward decay, but years of neglect by the very people who’s supposed to protect us do nothing? I have reiterated watch “The Crumbling of America” on the History (International) channel in the next few weeks and learn? This is where your tax dollars should be going? We must not allow the Administration as in previous times keep sending our precious tax dollars to other countries. These politicians are deaf, dumb and intentionally blind to the rigors our industrial nation is going through. Not just Democrats, but the Republicans have had their sticky fingers in the bad apple–SPECIAL INTEREST–barrel, where money is plentiful. It’s like they are intentionally trying to turn our magnificent country into a third world nation, while making other cheap labor countries, on an even par with our sovereign society as US wages tumble? Then Again the Council of Foreign Relations have been amplifying its agenda of free movement of cheap labor through North America for years?

    Most of these other lands have been at each others throats for centuries, so why do we expect any metamorphism into something any different? Only change can come from within, not by our nation expending billions of dollars, American lives? We must build our own borders fences, tall and strong and meant to keep out drug dealers, criminal aliens, terrorists and the never ending tracks of illegal aliens. Our politician’s noses are involved in too much foreign policy, while our aging infrastructure implodes. Trillions of dollars are spirited out the country, while we gain little in return. Washington–MUST–start giving back to the jobless American worker by placing a 5 year moratorium on all immigration, even legal? The next politicians should deliver us from any new sinister path to citizenship or better referred to as BLANKET AMNESTY? Follow the “Rule of Law” and not twist it into something else for their own convenience, as it will come back to haunt them at the voting booth. Unless ACORN steps-in with another fed contract and handles sign-ups for the ballot box? In that case will still see absentee ballots for the deceased people, pets and anybody who has learned that you need no government picture ID to sign on to vote.

    The 1986 immigration reform bill dismally failed last time and all we inherited was 5 million illegal immigrants that still keep on coming with their impoverished hands out. Anti-Illegal immigrant forces are growing in numbers to stop another travesty. They acknowledge it could end up costing billions, perhaps even trillions of dollars. Nationwide we have seen the advent of closing hospitals and emergency rooms that have been submerged everyday by swarms by penniless foreigners and their families. Yes! We need health care reform. Americans are dying, going bankrupt , falling under the spell of debt collectors. The special interest lobbyists are causing mass hysteria by lying to the people. Many insurance companies are under this bombardment in television, radio and mass media. Their Status quo wants no change to their profits or high flying CEO’s making millions of dollars. on patients backs? I want health care reform, for the sake of my step daughter who died of Cancer, because the insurers said it was a pre-existing condition and they couldn’t continue to insure her?

    It has become an enigma–THAT THE EMPLOYERS WHO HIRE THEM-LEAVE THE MAJORITY OF SICK PEOPLE ON THE STEPS OF EMERGENCY ROOMS. SO THAT THEIR RESPONSIBILITY ENDS THERE? THEY DRIVE AWAY WITH A CLEAR CONSCIOUS? THEN IS LEFT FOR THE TAXPAYERS CHECK BOOK TO PAY THE BILL? THOSE EMPLOYERS SHOULD BE HUNTED DOWN AND HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR EVERY CENT. We have already been warned by the census bureau of overpopulation in the not too distant future. WE now have a very unique deterrent called E-Verify, that is a part of the SAVE ACT and our lawmakers should stop procrastinating and make it permanent for every worker? Washington knows their walking on quicksand, if the try to under fund or spirit away E-Verify this time around? The corrupting influences from the special interest lobby, have failed to induce many lawmakers to table E-Verify. In our future it could have many other uses other than extracting unauthorized labor from the workplace. Once fully installed it could check state drivers license applicants, insurance, school and higher education registrations and hospital admittances.
    Americans have been unknowingly paying taxes to underwrite subsidies for the illegal population for decades. This is the biggest draw to American jobs, because the employers who hire them are sentient that taxpayers will foot the bills for education, health food stamps, housing and other government benefit consignments that even as citizens are denied. Keep the phone calls coming at 202-224-3121 LOOK FOR ANSWERS AT NUMBERSUSA, JUDICIAL WATCH & OVERPOPULATION AT CAPSWEB? These websites can identity politicians who actually work for the American people and others whose immigration grading level is unsatisfactory to stay in office? Have you heard about any large ICE raids lately? ICE got the order to cease and desist from the motley Democratic leadership. They are also using their influence to either weaken the federal training program 287 G that gives local police federal right to hold for questioning suspicious individual’s immigration status and to rescind the no-match-letter capability in determining a person’s right to work?

    brittanicus

    September 29, 2009 at 7:57 pm

  2. That’s a rather rambling comment you left, there. As far as I could tell, though, it didn’t say anything to counter the single point I made: illegal immigrants are not a major drain on health-care spending in this country. Feel free to clarify with me if I missed it.

    Kevin Miller

    September 30, 2009 at 11:20 am


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