``I'm afraid of Obama!'' -- woman at a Town Hall meeting on health care reform
I have no opinion on H.R. 3200. Mainly because I haven't read it.
Pardon my presumption, but chances are beyond excellent that you haven't, either. Scott, I know you posted about it, but you got your information from the Free Republic and not the bill itself. Why? The PDF file of the bill, otherwise known as the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, clocks in at 1,017 pages of often-dense legalese and jargon. I'd like to read it, but I'd also like to have a life, and the two are incompatible.
So excuse me, beg pardon, but it would be really valuable to hear an explanation of the bill by those who presumably have read it, followed by vigorous questioning. Instead, the circus has come to town. And the circus isn't the one that is loved by children because of the wonders of human and animal extraordinary skills and excitement. This is a circus about the wonders of human idiocy.
I refer, of course, to the chaos that has erupted at townhall meetings as Democratic lawmakers try to sell the bill. The New York Times reports shouting matches, fistfights, threats, injuries and arrests. Georgia Congressman David Scott says he's had death threats and a visit from vandals who painted a swastika outside his office.
If you wonder what the Nazis have to do with this, join the club. It's an incoherent protest, and where there is incoherence, naturally, there is Sarah Palin. The former governor of Alaska weighed in on Facebook with a claim that Democrats were proposing a ``downright evil'' system in which the fate of the elderly and the disabled would be determined by ``death panels.''
She said she was referring to Sec. 1233 of the bill, so I read it. It would allow your doctor to regularly consult with you on the need for a living will and advanced-care directives, i.e., decide ahead of time if you'd want to be kept alive in a persistent vegetative state.
This is the exact same prodecure I went through with my Grandma towards in the end of her life. We sat down with her doctors and she turned over to me the power to make her end-of-life decisions. This is a process called "power of attorney." It is a common procedure and did not make me her executioner.
The provision may or may not be a good idea but it's hardly ``downright evil'' and it bears no resemblance to the image Palin conjures: granny forced to justify her continued existence before a panel of men in black hoods.
Conservatives would have you believe this pandemonium is spontaneous. Truth is, it's about as spontaneous as a shuttle launch. The Times account tells us a banner appeared on the web site of Fox News host Sean Hannity inviting people to ''Become a part of the mob!'' A group calling itself Tea Party Patriots advises its members to pack the hall and ``yell out.'' This is manufactured outrage.
And that's fine. If people choose to become part of a synchronized protest, they have every right to. Nor is there anything wrong with dissent. As many of us pointed out when George W. Bush's enablers sought to silence his critics, dissent is patriotic.
But shouting down those who disagree with you is not. Neither is threatening, shoving, hitting, painting swastikas or otherwise rendering reasoned debate impossible. That's not love of country, it's not dissent, it's not even civilized. It's boorish, oafish and crude, the rantings of people panicked beyond reason.
In other words, conservatives. OK, not all of them. But too many of them? Definitely.
By now, it has become reflex, this instinct of theirs to manipulate the debate and muddy the waters by stoking people's primal fears, whether of gays, Muslims, Hispanics or now, healthcare reform. ``I'm afraid of Obama!'' screams a woman. Scott, you argue that Obama is all about creating hysteria, yet I have a hard believing that you see these townhall fiascos orchestrated by the Right as the same thing.
And doesn't that just say it all? Doesn't that speak volumes about the intellectual bankruptcy and decayed moral authority of the political right? With apologies to Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing they have to sell is fear itself.
This is not patriotism. It is the cynical behavior of people who have little faith in their ability to win the debate. So they pick a fight and try to win that instead.
Most of the above post is from Leonard Pitt's article this past week. I added a few things that applied to my thoughts. I thought it would be a good start to my reply to Scott's health care misstatements.
So let's take Scott's fear tactics in a previous post, and apply reasoned logic to his claims...
Page 16: States that if you have insurance at the time of the bill becoming law and change, you will be required to take a similar plan. If that is not available, you will be required to take the gov option! Not quite accurate. The bill says that you will be required to have insurance that is at least equal to the public plan. If you can't find that plan, you are not looking hard enough. It will also allow for the minimum coverage to be competitive with the public plan.
Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure! This already occurs. For example, Ford Motor Company self-insures through various insurance companies. Both Ford and the insurance companies audit the fund to make sure the money is being spent according to the contract.
Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed. Hardly true, but the insurance companies already do this.
Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process). I would hardly consider the appeals process fair. When you appeal a denied claim, who do you appeal to? The Insurance Company itself. Good luck with that one. With the public plan, you will always have right to go to court and convince a judge to invoke an injunction to force care.
Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None. This only refers to the public plan and insurance companies already do this. My wife currently pays for maternity coverage despite the fact she has the same chance as the keyboard I am typing on of getting pregnant. Why do we pay this? Because all insurance companies force all women under the age of 45 to pay for maternity coverage. This would be true even after a hysterectomy.
Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services. While I will agree somewhat with illegals getting coverage, in an emergency situation we should worry about life and not legal details. If you were visiting England and were in a car accident, they would treat you before worrying about have an accepted passport. Awfully nice of them if you ask me.
Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard. It will be your social security card. Currently, insurance companies track care across the plans using your social security number. This is how they are able to know you have a pre-exisiting condition.
Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer. So does PayPal. So does the Social Security Administration. This will only apply to those who sign up for the public plan and will only be used for authorized payments.
Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (example: SEIU, UAW and ACORN). This is just a flat-out lie. I assume you also believe the taxpayers will also have to fund the audit that self-funded plans will be forced to have.
Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange. Okay, this only applies to meeting the minumum coverage requirements.
Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans). Okay, this only applies to meeting the minumum coverage requirements.
Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens. So someone comes with major brain trama, should the hospital check for their status before treating?
Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan. I truly see nothing wrong here. Maybe a few more organizations could take part, but nothing wrong with the idea.
Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter. Huh? I am assuming that you think we should keep Medicaid AND the public plan?
Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed. Oh, yeah, I forgot how good of a job they are currently doing.
Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages. Insurance companies already do this. Read an EOB.
Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives. Only if choosing the public plan.
Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families. Only if choosing the public plan, which will pay for the bills.
Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll. One thing left out. If they provide health insurance through a private plan, no tax.
Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll. One thing left out. If they provide health insurance through a private plan, no tax.
Page 167: Any individual who doesnt' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income. Acceptable covergage is the minimum coverage of the public plan. The tax will sign them up for the plan.
Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them). Same plan as the government run care. If you are tourist in England, they will cover you free of charge if you need service. Kind of nice of them if you ask me.
Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records. The IRS.
Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that. This is for budgetary purposes. The taxes collected for health care will be in a separate fund. This is to avoid the problems that has plagued the Social Security budget that is constantly borrowed against by Congress. Congress will not be able to do that with the health care funds.
Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected." Come on, you can't argue that this will cost too much and then complain about this. By the way, Medicaid is only for the poor.
Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!). Not at all true. This is a flat-out lie.
Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc. Insurance companies already do this.
Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries. Insurance companies already do this.
Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs. Medicare already does this and no one has been denied that actually needs one.
Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing! Another flat out lie.
Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions. AGAIN, insurance companies already do this.
Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government. Same thing.
Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies! Actually isn't a good idea to prevent conflicts of interest?
Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval. No problem with this. Why do hospitals need to spend $1,000,000 on a foyer (Barnes-Jewish) so that it looks pretty?
Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN. Another lie. Yes, input will be important, but I guess if the Federalist Society was getting money, then conservatives would shut up about ACORN.
Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing. Not rationing at all. All the government will ask is whether or not the treatment will result in a good outcome. No more tests for the sake of testing.
Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc. These plans will be uneccessary under the new system.
Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals. This is a scare tactic that is flat-out immorral. With proper documentation from qualified health-care providers, special needs individuals will still get the proper care they deserve.
Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone). Designed to control costs by allowing people who don't know whether they should consult with their physician or the emergency room.
Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia? Another scare tactic. See my comment above. And applies to each of the following pages that deals with end of life care.
Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.•
Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT. Super big scare tactic here and a lie.
Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life. Same as above, but insurance companies already do this.
Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN. I still don't see in the bill the word ACORN anywhere. If conservatives had actual community-based organizations, they would be eligible also.
Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage. No government public plan will cover therapy, not intervene.
Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services. See the special needs comment.
I didn't read the rest of the bill (OK, I didn't read it) like Scott. Wait, no Free Republic read it and Scott copied it into a post. We can debate the value of individual parts of the bill, but let's have a real debate and not a "made-for-tv" conservative created hysteria. Real ideas and not just a repeat of whatever talk-show host you listen to says for you to say.