Healthcare and the big senate race

by

Well by the time you read this we’ll know who won the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat.

I don’t get it.  Healthcare is broke.  Maybe not healthcare, but the way it is administered and paid for.  Personally, I believe that at a minimum we should have a public option.  I would really like to see universal coverage.  I think it would save money.  Imagine if all the the capital being drained out of the system by for-profit providers was instead funneled into patient care.

I hate insurance companies.  Do you think that a for-profit insurance company’s interests and your interests are congruent? I’d propose that they are not.  I’d like to see the profits used for care.  That’s just me though, evidently, as every time the Democrats try to address the issue, the other side, Republicans, are able to put the scare of change into American voters and derail change.

So I saw that Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown may pull out an upset victory for Ted Kennedy’s old seat over his rival  Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.  I don’t like either one of them.  I don’t think he is bright enough to be one of 100 in charge of such things as the tax code, making law and treaties and judicial appointments.  I think he is way over his head and not ready for prime time.  I also don’t like his stance on pot.  Brown thinks it should remain a Class D.  I think it should be legalized.  He is against gay marriage.  I couldn’t care less who gets married.  He doesn’t believe in providing basic human rights to those detained by the US Government.  I don’t like the precedent it sets and think everyone should have the right to confrontation, putting the burden on the state and  against cruel and unusual punishment.  As for Coakley I also see her as a lightweight, plus I didn’t like her involvement with a notorious Massachusetts court case that may have imprisoned an innocent man and sent a family through hell.

If Coakley, the Dem, wins the Dems retain control of the senate and Obama’s platform rolls on, for what that is worth.  If the Repub Brown wins than the Dems lose their filibuster proof majority and Obama’s healthcare plan has a tougher row to hoe.  Because this is an election with national implications, and I live in Massachusetts, I have received no fewer than 30 phone calls in the past few days.  Now I know how folks in Iowa and New Hampshire must feel.

So anyways, they expect the Republican to win.  Guess how the stock of health insurers reacted.  They went up.

Rising health care stocks led the market higher as the prospect of a logjam in Washington eased concerns that profits at companies like insurers and drug makers would suffer. Among health stocks, insurers Aetna Inc. rose $1.30, or 4.2 percent, to $32.66 and UnitedHealth Group Inc. rose $1.38, or 4.1 percent, to $35.13. Pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. advanced $1.15, or 2.9 percent, to $40.62 and was the biggest advancer among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials.

So if I was writing copy, which I do no longer, I think I’d write something like: A vote for Republicans is a vote for Humana or Don’t let Cigna down vote for Brown . Do you like?  Can someone tell me what the Republican healthcare plan is?

Don’t be a tool for the health insurers.  They are middle men standing between providers of services and consumers of services.  Think for yourself.

And most of all GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!! I don’t care who you are, you have 15 minutes to spare to take a walk outside or sit under a tree and watch the clouds move across the sky.

Another abandoned ski area not too far from my house.  Massachusetts has hundreds of abandoned ski areas.  This one was called Cat Rock.  We already had a coating of snow and the other night we received an additional few inches.  A fresh coating means fresh tracks so I had to get out for an hour or two.  I grabbed my 30 year old Kniessel Red Stars and headed out.  To paraphrase Bob Marley, ‘my feet are my only chairlift.’  Yup, hike up, ski down, hike up, ski down, hike up, ski down.  Like chopping your own wood, hiking to make your own turns seems to feel better.  At least to me.

This is the main trail looking up.  I’d guess it’s maybe a few hundred yards long with a couple hundred feet of vertical.  It’s actually fairly steep.  Like I always say, much steeper than it looks.  You can see I got first tracks.  And uhh no it’s never groomed – rocks, grass, shrubs grow where they may.

This is the same trail looking down.  At least here it looks a little steeper.  Not ideal conditions because we did get some rain and than it froze. The snow was crusty.  Still I was able to carve huge beautiful arcing turns.  Great fun.  A couple of snowboarders did show up after a while.  There’s a little trail on the side of the main trail where the rope tow used to be.  If you don’t know what a rope tow is it is a loop of rope that runs up the hill.  These things used to run over car wheels hung from trees and were powered by old tractors or Chevrolets.  You grab onto the rope snaking up the hill at 15mph and it yanks your arm out of your socket and pulls you up the hill.  Due to liability issues, you don’t see rope tows any longer.   It used to be the ride up could be more fun than the ski down.  This trail where the rope tow was is maybe five feet wide.  That is a good ski down!!  If there ain’t trees and ice it ain’t New England.    New England skiing the way it was meant to be!!

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8 Responses to “Healthcare and the big senate race”

  1. catherine lowe Says:

    Hi! Great post!

    Love the photos. I miss snow here.

    Cathy

  2. The Urban Survivalist Says:

    Our healthcare system isn’t broken. It’s the best healthcare system in the world. It could be better. Everyone wants more people to have access. I don’t think that anyone who needs healtchare should get whatever healthcare that they need at no cost, though. The government doesn’t do a whole lot of things right. I don’t understand how anyone can possibly trust government to run healthcare. Government run healthcare has failed or is failing in every other country in the world. It’s expensive. It removes incentive to succeed and excel. It creates bloated buerocracies that lower the quality of patient care, makes medical decisions for individuals and increases waiting lists. What we need to do is improve competition. Competition lowers costs. Government involvement doesn’t. If the government gets involved and the cost goes down then you can bet that it’s an artificial reduction and your costs have gone up somewhere else to make up for it or they have just printed the money for it which isn’t good for any of us long term.

    I don’t trust politicians. With something this big they need to present us with something that’s easy to understand. Something that is actually TRANSPARENT and HONEST. Something that can be scrutanized by anyone. Just because they’re doing SOMETHING doesn’t mean that it will be better than whatever we have. Another guarantee with government is that once they get involved then they’ll never give any ground back that they take. If it aint broke…fix it till it is. That’s government’s motto. How about staying the hell out of it and letting the private market fix it? Give them the tools to do it instead of making it impossible for them to.

    Oh and it’s good to see you posting again. 🙂

  3. Abraham Says:

    Urban-

    I figure insurance companies are middle-men so I want to cut em out. It really isn’t the best healthcare system. We spend more than any other country. That’s for sure, but we aren’t near the top of the list in a bunch of areas like life expectancy and infant mortality. For minorities it’s even worse. We need to decouple health insurance from employment. Sorry to sound Marxist, but I believe in healthcare based upon need not ability to pay. Medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0765165020080108
    http://dll.umaine.edu/ble/U.S.%20HCweb.pdf
    http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/opinion/12sun1.html

    “The truth is out there.”
    X-Files

    I don’t trust politicians either. I voted for Coakley last night grudgingly. Can’t stand her, but dislike Brown. She was the first Democrat I’ve voted for in years. Not a one politician I like, maybe Ron Paul or Kuccinich. No I really don’t like them either.

    Thanks It’s nice to put up a few more posts. Just been so busy working three jobs. Not complaining though!! Lucky!!

  4. Bryce Says:

    Before you villainize insurance companies for having profits, keep in mind that even with the profits counted, private insurance still is more efficient in getting care to people than the government’s current Medicare program.
    To see how I can make a claim like that, check out: http://www.peoplespresscollective.org/2009/08/taking-apart-the-medicare-efficiency-myth/

    If we want to drive health care costs back down, we should take care of the real causes. One cause is our reliance on third party payers for the majority of medical expenses. Any third party system is going to insert extra costs into the system.

    And a for-profit insurance company has far better motivation for providing good services than a government run “insurance” would have.

    If a for profit company provides bad service, the insured just switch companies. You can take your business elsewhere.

    If a govt. run insurance doesn’t run right or provides bad service – you have no choice, you must pay for it anyway.

    I’m not a republican, so I can’t give you the republican plan. I do believe many of the libertarian-style plans would make a difference, though. For some of these solutions, check out: http://www.campaignforliberty.com/article.php?view=259

  5. Abraham Says:

    Sorry Bryce I looked at the stuff you posted and don’t buy any of it. One better way of measuring the administrative efficiency of third party payers i.e. insurance companies would be total cost divided by number of claims. You also have to remember that Medicaid and Medicare provide for the highest risk consumers and because of that private insurers get a bit of a free ride. There really is no competition. If you get employment through your job like most people than you take that insurance. It’s not really as if you can take your business elsewhere.

    So you want everyone to be responsible for his own care would you deny care to a hemorrhaging pregnant woman, a victim from a car accident or a shooting victim? Of course not, then who pays for the uninsured? The guy that gets laid off?

    I deal with insurers on both personal and professional levels. They suck. I have had claims denied and I know people who have had claims denied.

    We need a better way of covering everyone.

  6. Bryce Says:

    I have never had insurance through my employer, so I have always had to make my own choice.

    Now, you’ve painted my point of view as one of a heartless pregnant-mother killer. I think that’s a tad unfair. Would I deny care? Absolutely not. But we don’t deny emergency care now. And who is paying for it? Not insurance companies.

    Also, I think you are taking the huge assumption that a government universal healthcare system is actually going to take care of everyone’s needs. The fact of the matter is that if you rely on a government program, then your care is controlled by a legislator.

    A better way of covering everyone is to find ways to reduce costs for everyone.

    Again, our reliance on third party payers is a big part of the problem. You wouldn’t pay someone $150 dollars a month to pay your $100 a month utility bill, would you? But in large part, that’s what we do with our health care.

    Government regulation has killed off many free medical clinics.

    Government regulation already forces insurance plans to cover all sorts of things, things you or I may never want in a plan. That forces insurers to raise costs. If they were to deregulate, they could tailor plans a lot better to people’s individual wants and needs – it would drive down costs.

    Opening up the sale of insurance across state lines would introduce a lot more competition into the system, thus driving down costs.

    Allowing all health care expenses to be tax deductible would allow people to spend more of their own money on the care they want. Allowing donations for someone else’s health care to be tax deductible would give people and corporations much more incentive to be charitable, thus helping cover the costs for many of the poor and needy. This type of reform would be very cheap to implement, and would save the government a ton of administrative costs, rather than cause the government to reach into everyone’s pocket even more.

    Another major factor in the cost of healthcare is the number of frivolous malpractice lawsuits. I don’t have a great solution for this, but I know that there has to be a solution that doesn’t cost the taxpayers trillions.

    I appreciate the need to help more people. I just don’t think that government is they way to do that. I believe we need to get government out of the way so we can take care of ourselves and each other. I firmly believe that is the way to better cover everyone.

  7. Abraham Says:

    Bryce-
    Thanks for your civil discourse. We already have a private system. Some of the ideas are good and I agree with. I don’t think that health insurance should be based on ability to pay. There is a better way.

  8. Mark Says:

    OK, I’m 50/50 (or in the vicinity) with you on this one. The current health care system is a corrupt joke. My wife has worked in the medical field for the last 20 years and she could tell you thousands of insurance horror stories that would make you puke. Yes, something needs to be done, but I think it needs to start with the hospitals and doctors first. They are profiting millions on sickness, with the excuse that they must charge a lot because of malpractice insurance – bullcrap. Doesn’t stop them from buying two or three multi-million dollar homes for themselves and their ex-spouses on what’s left over. There is some serious gouging going on. Rep/Dem – doesn’t matter to me. What makes me fighting mad is a bunch of politicians coming up with a plan that FORCES everyone to buy their insurance plan or face a fine – seriously?? Oh, and THEY don’t even have to buy into it?? That’s the best they can come up with?? I’m glad that the current envisioned healthcare plan is stalled or dead, because they seriously need to come up with a better plan than “just passing something” to make Obama look good. My 2 cents – Peace!

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