Dispelling The Health Care Rumors

April 8, 2010

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Dispelling the Health Care Rumors

I’ve seen a lot of arguments on both sides of the health care debate in the past few months. A lot of smart things have been said, and a lot of flat-out untruths have been spread. I’m here to take on the ones that bother me the most.

1) The government is just intruding on your freedom

The Truth: The mayor of East Podunk, Kentucky could sneeze and someone out there would see it as a governmental invasion of your freedom. The fact is, the government isn’t forcing you to buy health care any more than they’re forcing you to buy auto insurance if you own and drive a car, but you will pay a tax if you don’t have health care come 2014. Right now the majority of Americans have health care through their job, so if you’re reading this odds are you fall in that category. If you’re not one of those people, don’t have health insurance, and don’t want health insurance then you’re a liability on us all: if you get sick or injured to the point where you have to go to the ER, you’re a burden on everyone’s taxes, including your own.

2) This is just one more step toward socialism!

The Truth: The average person who says that has no clue what socialism really is. The US has, and has had for many years, socialist systems in place: Unemployment, social security, police forces, fire departments, and even the military. The military is like a little socialist bubble society within American society. Beyond that we already have socialist systems in place, you’re going to pay a tax if you’re not already receiving health care from your capitalistic job so that if you should be injured or get sick to the point of needing emergency medical services you won’t be an undue burden on the government. Gee, that tax kind of sounds like … insurance, doesn’t it?

3) This is government takeover of health care.

The Truth: No. Private insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals will still exist as private, for-profit businesses. The government is already in the health care business from Medicare and Medicaid, programs which millions of people are very happy with. Here’s two typical right-wing talking points that don’t logically work when combined: the government can’t run anything right, and health care companies are afraid the government will run them out of business. If these companies are so successful why should they be afraid of an inept and bumbling government?

4) The US already has the best health care system in the world, we don’t need any new laws or to change anything.

The Truth: The US, according to the WHO in 2000, ranked 37th in the world as far as health care goes; slightly above Slovenia and Cuba (you know, Cuba, that socialist, communist, pinko country to the south of Florida). This ranking was based on number of preventable deaths, healthy life expectancy, health performance rank, and total expenditure of percentage of GDP for health care. I know, if Canada has such good health care, why do their leaders come here to see our doctors? They don’t. The only positive proof of this I was able to find was a Canadian Parliament minister coming to the US to see a specialist for a very specific issue. I can even counter that with a personal anecdote: I had a friend go to Germany for experimental cancer treatment when his US insurance was unwilling to pay for expensive treatment that might have saved his life. Sadly, he died a few years ago because of that cancer. Yay capitalism.

5) “Death Panels” will decide when your grandma dies.

The Truth: That is so outrageously false I’m shocked that anyone actually believes it, but then I’m shocked people believe half the things that come out of Glenn Beck’s mouth. The best I could come up with is the term “Death Panel” was made up by Sarah Palin in an attempt to sensationalize end-of-life counseling and use it as a scare tactic. When people get old, they sometimes need more help from medical professionals than when they were younger. This can get expensive. To help best plan for this time often their children consult with a doctor on what to do. This is called end-of-life counseling. Here, I’ll re-label it. Let’s call it … Elderly Living Assistance Planning.

6) Non-jailed sex offenders will be able to get viagra on this plan!

The Truth: What? Are you serious? Senator Coburn of Oklahoma brought this up in yet another attempt to scare people away from the idea of health care reform. A convicted sex offender not in jail could get viagra on this new health care reform law in the same way a convicted murderer not in jail could get a gun – through someone willing to give it to them. The outrage at this issue is misplaced, as that scenario is no less or more likely 2 years ago than it is 2 years from now.

7) Costs will go up with the new health care law.

The Truth: What’s to prevent costs from going up now, say … the way they have the past 10 years? Since 2000 there has been a 100% increase in the cost of health care to the average individual while the average wage increase is a fraction of that. Yet, health insurance companies have been reporting record profits and your average health insurance company officer makes tens of millions of dollars a year. At least with an open market system we’d have a chance at real capitalistic price wars. Right now the CEO’s paycheck is padded each time a pencil-pusher gets a pat on the pack for denying you coverage on something. I’d rather have a complete government takeover – I trust the “inept, bumbling” government with my health more than I trust someone to pick my health over greed.

Civility Lost

March 28, 2010

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Usually at the end of my post each month I list the three “bad nuts” of the month.  This month’s posting will basically be nothing but the bad nuts of the past few days.

Health Care reform has now become law of the land and despite my own questions on whether it is actually enough done, it is a big effing deal to quote the Vice President, and a step in the right direction for the country that has been a long time coming.  However, it is now abundantly clear if it was not before that conservatives completely lack any sense of dignity, humanity or civility within their course of actions and the words they use. There will be many examples I leave out, as there are far too many to put into the space I really want to take up here.

Tea Party protesters on Capitol Hill last weekend repeatedly shout the n word at members of the Black Caucus as they walked by the protest and shouted other obscenity laced rants as well.  They also threw out homophobic slurs at openly gay congressman Barney Frank. This is the least threatening example of the loss of control the right has made a turn towards in the final days and aftermath of healthcare reform, but is still a shiny example of the ignorance and intolerance on the right.

At a Rochester, NY Democratic Party office a brick with a note with this quote attached, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,”  was thrown through a window. No one was harmed other than the window in this instance, but it is another quite fitting example of what conservatives really are looking for these days as many other offices across the state of New York and around the county have had bricks with such revolution inciting quotes attached to them.

While House Republican leader “Hell No You Can’t” John Boehner passively spoke out that the climate needs to change to a positive to get his party back in power as that will get the real job they want done. It’s is a little too late for his change of heart over the flames he and his party has stoked for well over a year now. In the past few days he has also made countless references to many Representatives in congress who have been getting death threats as being a dead man for how they voted. More than likely he was hopefully meaning politically speaking, but it is the passive aggressive stoking the flames of hate in his masses to get them to seek violent action over civil discourse over issues. So in reality his actions in the recent pass fully outweigh the passive rebuking of threats of violence in the aftermath of the bill passing.

Congressman Bart Stupak hasn’t just had to deal with Congressman Randy Neugebauer shouting “baby killer” as he spoke on the house floor, but has become the poster child for the right wing nuttery’s rage. Here’s a sampling of what he has had to go through. Endless voicemail messages to his office and home many simply stating, “I hope you die.” others with a more prophetic viewpoint. “There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill and all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that’s not very good for you.” 

Also his office received a fax depicting him on a noose with the caption “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”  All this for deciding to vote for healthcare because he got his exact wording put through in an executive order instead of holding up the process any further by having it inserted into the text of the bill. Despite the fact that in reality the wording did not need to be there in the first place because well it was already law and nothing done was changing that anyways, but I digress.

Never to be absent from stoking the flames of anger, the queen of the nutjob right, Sarah Palin, continues to be her usual self. The two main instances of note of the past few days have been commenting that Republicans don’t need to regroup after healthcare had passed, but need to reload the gun and take more shots at Democrats. There must be some continual obsession with guns for Sister Sarah as she also depicted the pictures of 20 House Democrats and the states they represent with crosshairs of a gun and mentioned that these seats in states won by her (i guess she forgets that McCain was the head of the ticket) as targets to dispose of in the next election. I get the cute play with guns and everything, but when your supporters obviously aren’t playing with a full deck then you probably do not need to continue to put this kind of imagery.

Even though his network now only allows about two minutes a day of actual coverage of the passing of the healthcare reform bill, Glenn Beck has not been absent from the fanning the flames on the right. He has now referred to the passing of healthcare reform as a mother spanking a child. And now our decision as a is whether we love our mother and want to hug them or to we want to pick up guns against them. Beck was more for the guns approach to getting back at “mother” approach. So if you hear any news of tea party people shooting their mothers in the next week or so you know who to blame on that one.

Like I said before there are too many examples as of late of incivility from conservatives, leaders and followers to list here. It is clear that the Republican Party has reaped what they have sown over the past year in these past few days as the climate has boiled over even more. They may shy away from it in public light passively now, but in reality it is what they have wanted all along. In the end it is clear that one thing for conservatives is, that civility has been lost and I don’t think they’ll find their way back to it any time soon.

Bah, Humbug to the Healthcare Bill

December 24, 2009

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Today, we welcome The Angry Squirrel to the staff of The Soap Boxers.  He will take a liberal stance as a writer for the Political Observers segment.

Christmas Eve is here and “Hooray!” the Republicans decided that they needed to beat the weather to get home to their families instead of continuing to stall the vote on a healthcare bill. Granted, the Senate version is now a whittled down piece of crap with other sweeteners added in to get the last few conserveadems on board for the “needed” 60 votes. The current bill passed by the Senate will now go into conference with the House when Congress resumes after the holiday break and will more than likely look similar to what the Senate is passing or look even worse than it does now.

I mean do we really need to cover costs in Nebraska, Louisiana, and so on just to get this piece of crap through? I think not, but that’s not what they decided to have done.

The only real piece of reform in the entire bill is not allowing insurance companies to deny or drop coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Granted they will be allowed to charge you a nice chunk of change more to be ale to have the privilege to be covered by them now, and guess what you’ll have to suck it up and pay whatever they want to charge you because you are required to.

That leads me to why this is really no reform at all, or more aptly put reform in name only. Mandating coverage without having a competitive mechanism in the system to keep costs down or in check is just asking for the situation to get worse, and it will. More people will go bankrupt because the costs of healthcare will go unchecked still under this bill. If you can’t afford to pay the premium which is required of you will be forced to pay a penalty right now of 2% of your income. Granted like everything else in the bill it won’t even go into effect until a year or two after the next presidential election, but still, just like everything else in the bill the only real benefactor of this is the health insurance industry. Because it is not the government that will pocket these fines it will be the health insurers that will get the penalty.

What really is needed is some sort of non-profit entity, privately owned but government regulated that provides coverage at cost to people. This would be an affordable option for those who would want it and would also keep the costs of premiums across the board in check if they wanted to keep people buying their own product as well. If such an entity would exist it would also be cheaper because it keeps things like profit, executive salaries, a large amount of overhead, advertising and lobbying costs out of your health insurance premium. Granted Washington is tied and likely will always will be to the almighty lobbying dollar of the insurance industry so this would never happen, heck they can;t even get a remotely salvageable “public option” together that passes by the in the insurance industry pocket congressman’s approval.

The health insurance industry makes out like a bandit in this bill, I really don’t see why they are so up in arms about it. Probably faux-outrage on “principle”, but still. They’ll be getting money from every single person in this country, whether you have the coverage you purchase on your own, the subsidy given to them by the government to help lower income families purchase coverage, or the fines you’ll have to pay if you still can’t afford to live and carry their product because the price is still too much and still rising with each passing breath. They also get to keep their antitrust exemptions, and also be allowed to sell policies wherever they want to from wherever they want to. So they could go to a state with extremely loose insurance regulations and sell that policy to a place that has more strict regulations. It’s no wonder why as soon as passage of the current leg of the reform bill in the Senate that health insurance stocks rose.

Then you have the side of the debate that goes into stuff not even in the health care reform bill in the first place. Abortion funding for one, was not a real issue in the bill in the first place, Republicans and Democrats from Republican leaning districts create a false outrage that abortion would be provided on demand on every street corner and the government would have to pay for it if we passed this healthcare bill. This is utterly false and had no place in this discussion.

Federal law already bars the federal funding for abortion, so the need to put wording in the bill for it was entirely unnecessary. However they didn’t feel this was so and went above and beyond their initial call to make wording was in there to not allow for federal dollars to go for abortion. This one of the places where the House and Senate have a difference and the conservatives actually like the House plan more. Under the House bill’s wording no insurer could provided coverage for abortion as part of any policy they offer to the public if they were to receive federal funds, and well since they will be getting a 2% penalty if you don’t purchase their product or receive the subsidy to provide insurance to lower incomes, then they are all going to be receiving federal funding. In the Senate however they have wording to allow for people to purchase entirely separate coverage for abortion, but on the other hand it also will allow states to block insurance companies from offering such plans.

Wholesalely denying something that is still a legal practice is just wrong. If people want to have that as a part of their coverage and insurers are offering it, then so be it. How are you going to say that such and such dollar of such and such premium went to pay for abortion coverage anyway. Hey I might be against people getting coverage for plastic surgery, maybe we should deny people from having that in the bill as well.

In the end tough the bill that looks to be passed in Congress whenever that may be will be a complete piece of crap that is a gift to the insurance companies and will actually lock out any chance of real reform for many years to come after that. I am all for healthcare but this bill is a piece of trash and should be scrapped until we have a group in Washington that actually will reform healthcare instead of making sure it continues to be a problem for generations to come.

On a lighter note, since this is Christmas Eve I would like to wish everyone celebrating it Merry Christmas and hope all is well with your family and friends. Safe travels and well wishes to everyone this holiday season.

Next month my column will be a little more structured than just a free-flowing rambling that it is here today, kind of ended up with less time to put things together than my “grand” plans I originally had thought. Well once again have a safe and happy holiday season.

The Things I am Thankful For

November 26, 2009

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Seeing as my column will appear on this site on Thanksgiving, I thought it would only be appropriate to write about things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my children. Two wonderful, healthy boys who were not “ruined” by my decision to breastfeed, delay solids until 6 months, baby wear and vaccinate. (I know, a crazy combination!)

I am thankful for my parents. They raised me as a Democrat and showed me how to be compassionate. They also gave me common sense and ethics. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure that they voted Republican the last few elections.

I am thankful for my husband. A man who served in Iraq for nine months saving others lives (he’s a medic) so they may count their blessings this day. And yes, he saved Iraqi civilians as well as our soldiers.

I am thankful I still have the right to say “Merry Christmas”. I figured I’d better get that in before it’s taken away from me.

I am thankful that the Nobel Peace Prize has finally shown its true colors as a sham organization. This award actually used to hold some meaning when it was given to people who contributed to society for the better (Mother Teresa, Theodore Roosevelt, Jean Henri Dunant, Martin Luther King Jr, Norman Borlaug). Now it is given to people who give speeches and “hope” that things change (Barack Obama, United Nations, Jimmy Carter). Oh, and a little additional piece of information. In 1990, it was awarded to Mikhail Gorbachev for “helping to bring an end to the cold war”. Really? Cause I’m pretty sure Reagan could have nuked the heck out of the USSR if he wanted to. Where’s his peace prize? Maybe I could get one for letting someone in front of me on the freeway…but I guess that means I actually DID something to earn it. Oh well, back to scouring the “Cracker Jack” boxes. Maybe I’ll find one in there.

I am thankful that “manbearpig” I mean “Global Warming/Climate Change” has been exposed as the “greatest scandal in modern science”. Don’t believe me? Google it.

I am thankful that there is still a little common sense in the US Senate. Liebermann has said that he would not vote for a healthcare bill that has a public option. I guess that makes 40 people with common sense in the Senate (39 Republicans and Liebermann).

I am thankful that the “Obamaworship” has died down and that many Independents and Democrats are now regretting their vote. The grass isn’t always greener, is it?

I am thankful for 2010. This way we can give a nice retirement party to those who will vote for the healthcare bill.

I am thankful that 2012 is only 3 years away. I think Barack needs to spend a little more time in Chicago … as the FORMER President.

See, even if we don’t hold the House, Senate or Presidency, I sure have a lot to be thankful for.