Protesters rally outside office of Anna Eshoo Issues Beyond Palo Alto, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:24 am
Carrying American flags, picket signs and at times bugling patriotic songs, members of the grassroots group the Tea Party Patriots picketed outside U.S. Assemblywoman Anna Eshoo's office Friday as part of a nationwide campaign against health care reform.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, July 20, 2009, 9:09 AM
Posted by Hugh, a member of the Terman Middle School community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:24 am
How clueless is our representative?
This is the Wikipedia definition of a "Developing country", obviously the one Ms. Eshoo refers to when describing the USA.
"A developing country is a country that has low standards of democratic governments, civil service, industrialization, social programs, and/or human rights guarantees that are yet to "develop" to those met in the developed world. or alternative goals of material progress (not necessarily a clone of those of the West). It is often[when?] a term used to describe a nation with a low level of material well being. Despite this definition,[clarification needed] the levels of development may vary, with some developing countries having higher average standards of living."
Posted by ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:33 am
And how biased is this newspaper? "Campaign against healthcare reform." No, this is not a campaign against healthcare reform, it is a campaign against government run health care, which is a frightening prospect. We need healthcare reform, but we don't need Obamacare. I for one do not believe anything Obama says - he will say anything to reach his ultimate goal, which is socialized medicine. He claims that private insurers will be allowed to exist, but that the government will participate to create competition. Once the goverment is in the game, everyone else loses. Lower quality, long waits, rationing - is that what everyone wants? I love my current healthcare. I consider myself very fortunate and blessed to have it.
Posted by Hugh, a member of the Terman Middle School community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:01 am
I won't argue definitions, I just happened to cite Wikipedia's definition of a "developing country."
Since you have a computer, feel free to correct the definition if you have a better one, the WTO has a similar definition but I'll leave that to people who have the capacity to think for themselves.
Since you "Pay Dearly for .. Healthcare" I'm sure you will have no problem paying dearly for the new government employees that will no doubt, efficiently run the new healthcare branch of our government.
Now where exactly does the government get the authority to determine healthcare benefits?
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:02 am Marie is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
What I want is for every American to have the same access to the health care plan offered to Congress. Without a public option to healthcare, people will not have a true choice. No one is proposing that people will be forced to use a government run plan - only that they have that option - rather than private insurance plans where 25% of their premiums go for administration & overhead instead of a medicare-type plan that typically spends 4-5% on administration. Instead of comparing current health care reform plans to Britain and Canada, compare them to Australia, France and Germany, where outcomes and satisfaction are so much better than in the U.S. - and costs are so much lower.
Posted by Not brain dead, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:16 am
I find it funny that tea baggers want to keep our current healthcare system when they care the most about taxes. Our nation spends more on healthcare per capita than any other nation, but we cover the least amount of people. Talk about a waste of taxpayer money. This article also has tea baggers only citing anectodal evidence. So what if the guy's wife was able to get knee replacements. What would he say to the 17 year old girl who died waiting for an organ transplant denied by her health insurer? Why is it that every other industrialized nation can provide healthcare except ours?
Posted by Richard Placone, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:43 am
It will take several iterations for this country to develop the "perfect" health care plan. Meanwhile, we as a nation need to move forward to begin to provide coverage for the nearly 50 million of us who do not have access to proper medical care. All this talk about socialized medicine is nothing but a paper tiger. We already have a so called government run health care program - its called Medicare and it is a program that is being imitated by some developing countries as they move into the roster of developed countries. Does it work? Ask any Medicare recipient. I'm 76 and I've had two major knee surgeries paid for by my Medicare and AARP coverage. Didn't cost me a dime, and I had to wait only as long as my personal schedule required, and this was not a life threatening procedure. My late mother, who died recently at age 97 was a regular at Stanford Medical Center and the PAMF. She got superb care at both facilites, never had to wait, and had almost instant access to whatever specialist she needed. And not once in the last ten years of her life did she ever have to pay for anything except her shingles vacination. Medicare and AARP covered everything. Granted it is not free, Medicare and AARP coverage and the new drug plan costs my wife and me about $6,000 a year. Knowing it will never be taken from us gives us great comfort - we live without fear of losing everything should one of us have a catastrophic illness. Lets not short change ourselves as a nation by backing away form a better health care program. If every other develped nation can do it, with high level medical care, universal coverage at a lower cost per capita, then why shouldn't we opt for the same.
Posted by Hugh, a member of the Terman Middle School community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:45 am
You seem to not understand the current state of healthcare if you think that there is a connection between our nation spending more per capita on healthcare and it being a "waste of taxpayer money" the majority of the waste occurs in the portion of healthcare that is currently administered by the government, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm
Marie: "What I want is for every American to have the same access to the health care plan offered to Congress" ...Right..what about the same access to houses, cars, pay, time off, travel, ..after all, everyone should have the same outcome, right? "To each his need, from each what he can give"? Do you agree with Marx on this one?
And, I gotta say, if you really believe that there is any way to make "the same access to a health care plan offered to Congress" available to 300 million people, after Russia, Cuba, China, and all of Europe, Australia, and England, as well as Massachusetts, have tried for 80 years to figure out how to do this and failed, you gotta be kidding me.
What we will get is everyone having access to the same care as MedicAid ( Medi-Cal here) patients currently have, and 30% of us paying for private insurance to help us get out of the lines and options available to "all", with ever continued complaining by those who now pay more out of pocket taxes in order to have their MediCal, who don't realize it would have been better care and cheaper if they had simply paid for their own health insurance in the first place!
Remember: out of 47 million "uninsured" so mythically bandied about,roughly 10 million aren't citizens, 10 million already qualify for MediCal, MedicAid, Schip or Medicare and haven't signed up, 10 million make more than $50,000 per year and can afford to buy health insurance but make poor choices.
So, you want a solution that destroys businesses and health care choices for the 95% of us who have private insurance or are already eligible for Govt insurance, for the 5% of us who truly can't pay for health insurance?
Wouldn't it be better to 1) make health insurance more truly competitive by letting us buy health insurance that isn't forced to cover stuff we don't want to pay for ( like language translation, chiropractic, abortions, end of life options I don't want etc for example)? That would lower everybody's payments, and make it more accessible to the "working poor". 2) Giving us with private plans the ability to deduct our premiums like the businesses do? 3) Changing legal extortion so that provider insurance isn't so exorbitant, which adds to the cost of health care ( wait until you have NO legal options since every health care provider will be a "govt employee"..when was the last time you saw anyone able to sue a govt employee??)
Whatever, I am tired of the same old arguments. Let's just do it, turn ourselves into Canada or France, then try to figure out where we can go for our health care when our system collapses of its own weight. And cry when we see that our death rate from cancer and heart attacks has doubled, we have to wait 6 months minimum for a painful hip to be repaired, and there aren't any spaces in the nursing homes for us.
( Hasn't anyone wondered why we never read of stories about our population escaping to Canada and paying for their great health care since we can't get it here?)
Posted by Libery, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm
The administration of Medicare is much cheaper because they spend absolutely no time trying to reduce costs for treatment. Most of the so called “administrative costs” of the health insurance companies go towards driving down prices for testing and treatment. These “administrative costs” are more than covered by the amount of savings they produce.
Posted by Dave, a resident of another community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:13 pm
We are already paying for public health care through our emergency rooms and for illegal aliens which drives up the costs of private health care. My premiums go up every year. I live in pain 24/7 and my private health provider won't even respond to my requests for surgery because they don't want to pay for it. I was told my daily injection to control pain was coating my arteries and I am going to die from a heart attack or stoke yet they just keep prescribing it. So I pay for health care I don't receive with premiums that go up every year just to get the drugs to kill the pain which is killing me. THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN!!! STOP THE PROFIT MOTIVE AND GIVE US REAL HEALTH CARE!!!!!! Medicare has been very successfull and we shouldn't have to wait until we are 65 years old. I won't be around!!!
Posted by Anna, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:17 pm
Mr. Placone praises the care he and his mother get at Stanford and at PAMF through Medicare for no (or small) cost, and then - in a complete non-sequitur - demands that we move to a system "like all other developed countries".
Perhaps Mr. Placone has not read the many pieces in the newspapers detailing the months long waiting lists that people in other countries undergo waiting for routine care of the sort that Mr. Placone says he is able to schedule at his leisure here. Perhaps he doesn't realize that he and his mother would be barred from treatments like kidney dialysis in other countries because health care rationing bureaucrats there don't think it's worth spending money on them. (You can't get dialysis if you're over 55 in Great Britain.)
Perhaps Mr. Placone's biggest blind spot is not to recognize that as a Medicare recipient, he's a free rider on the private system as private insurance pays doctors and hospitals more to offset the underpayment by Medicare. (and if Obamacare passes, he may find that doctors are unwilling to see him at all since part of the Obama scheme is to cut Medicare payments to even lower levels than they now are.)
Those commenters suggesting that we need Obama's health reforms because we spend so much on health care need to ask yourselves why, if it "saves" so much money, the Obamacare health bills raise taxes by over half a trillion dollars to pay for it, and why the CBO says Obama's plan will actually raise, not lower spending on health care over time.
We do need healthcare reform. But Obama's plan will make things worse, not better. He's only rushing to get it through Congress now because he fears that as more people find out about it, public outrage will doom it to a rightful death.
Posted by SP, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm
> Didn't cost me a dime
Nothing is free. It cost you and everyone else in this country 1.45% of all of our lifetime income, and all employers 1.45% of all of their lifetime payroll. See the "Medicare" line on your pay stub.
On top of that, you pay Medicare premiums and deductibles. You paid a deductible for your replacement surgeries and hospital stays. See Web Link
Medicare covers about 10% of the country. What would it cost to cover 100% at lower deductibles and no premiums? 20%? 30%?
The government has been in the business of providing health care for over 40 years for 10% of the country. They should be able to come up with a very good estimate of what they will charge to cover 100% of us for the new plan.
We need to see those numbers so we can have a reasonable debate on the issue. My worry with the current administration is the ramrodding of hugely expensive programs through the system. This is a broken campaign promise to provide good information, and reasonable time to debate issues.
Posted by Hugh, a member of the Terman Middle School community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm
Some of us actually work for a living and pay taxes.
You get what you pay for, the 3% administrative costs for medicare are so low because the fraud and corruption is so high the figures are skewed, The reason private healthcare has proportionally higher costs is that they refuse to pay for corruption and actually review the records rather than rubber stamping them blindly like your typical government bureaucrat.
But hey, if you're not inclined to be personally accountable, it sounds pretty good for someone else to pay your bills. After all, isn't that what this is really all about?
Posted by PAmoderate, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm
Obamacare doesn't address the real issue -- lack of market incentives to offer quality care at a competitive price. Just giving more insurance coverage to everyone will simply inject more money into the system.
And when supply remains constant (doctors take years to graduate) and demand goes up because of more money from individuals seeking "inexpensive" healthcare, THE PRICES RISE. It's a big duh, and taught in Econ 101. But of course no one remembers that. More government intervention in this manner will simply cause healthcare costs to soar.
And you know how that works out -- the result will be to enforce price controls, which will cause a market distortion that will result in healthcare rationing. Price controls always restrict supply. Also taught in Econ 101.
Right now, because we are in an employer-driven healthcare coverage system, individuals or families have no incentive to shop around for different coverage or, more importantly, a cheaper price. And companies can supply it tax free!
Until we connect the use of healthcare with the cost of delivering it, we'll always be screwed up. Connect the two, and individuals will make the appropriate trade-off for coverage vs. cost themselves.
Posted by Hugh, a member of the Terman Middle School community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:12 pm
Most people don't defraud "healthcare providers", what would they do steal a tongue depressor?
The fraud takes place when "healthcare providers" submit falsified bills to Medicare or Insurance companies, the former which tends to pay them, the latter which tend to refuse to pay for falsified claims.
I also suggest that if Obamacare is going to be so great, the Congress would subscribe to the same plan (they have a "special" plan reserved for them.) I submit that if Congress is willing to use the same healthcare that they propose for the Unwashed Public, then it may be worth considering, until that time (never) be suspicious!
Posted by Sally, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm
I am for a public plan as one option. Also, I want to propose that we all write our congresspeople and tell them that if they don't support a public option, then they should be willing to change from their own public health coverage to a private plan. Seems simple.
Posted by Harris, a resident of another community, on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm
This is the second time I have seen Mr Jackman's comments, first in the Mercury two weeks ago
"Look at the DMV," said Dirck Jackman, a Democrat, who approves of tax incentives to small businesses and free-market health care.
Jackman's 78-year-old mother had two knees and one hip replaced and was treated for glaucoma under the present health system.
"And she hit the ground running. Her whole quality of life has improved with this health care," he said.
Well Mr Jackman since your mother is 78 and most probably covered by the single payer government program Medicare I don't get your point. Why not allow everyone below 65 to enjoy such a medical program? We would all "hit the ground running" PS I'm retired and on Medicare.
Posted by ten18, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 3:19 pm
"Pursuit of happiness" - please - that could be construed as applying to anything. It would make me happy if I had a bigger house and a nicer car - should the government be obligated to provide that? There is an ignorance of reality (or a deliberate denial) reflected in some of your statements.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 3:31 pm
"The government is constitutionally obligated to protect us via military spending. There is no such obligation to provide health care."
My question is why you trust government with a machine gun but not a tongue depressor.
The Constitution can be amended, you know. Where's your faith in the free market? Why your fixation on a socialized military?
Why don't you think that competition between private-sector armies would give us a better defense at lower cost? Why wouldn't you rather pay voluntary dues to the navy of your pick than mandatory taxes for a monopolistic navy run by a tax and spend government? Why don't you think it would be better to choose between United Air Force and American Air Force based on cost and service?
Posted by Nose for News, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm
Wake up folks.
Health insurance is a wildly profitable business.
And it gets more and more profitable as more and more claims are denied. If you take the profit out of the system health care becomes vastly more affordable. The health insurance companies are spending millions of dollars to protect that profit by producing and disseminating dis-information about publicly funded health care because they know they cannot compete with a non profit alternative - except by drastically cutting their own profit. And, hey, what would be the point of doing that?
Posted by cieboy, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 4:17 pm
I fail to understand the previous "NASA" comment and I don't understand these "tea-baggers",...Anna Eshoo is an excellent representative. I support her and the Obama administration working on a solution on health care for all. Glad that fellows mother got such good care. Now how about all the other people's mothers who don't have any care.
Wake up tea-bag people and start thinking of other folks rather than just yourself.
Posted by big picture conservative, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:09 pm
It's interesting that people hold up hip replacements as why our system works -- the majority of hip and knee replacements happen under Medicare, our government run insurance.
No one is proposing government-run healthcare, only removing the corrupt, greedy and inefficient middleman, the insurers. We would continue to have private health delivery as we do now.
Well, ideally we would be removing the useless and costly middlemen, but the Obama plan doesn't do that. It leaves far too many systemic failures in place, mainly this enormous private insurance bureaucracy that will not change and which exists to extract profits for the insurance industry. (Because those profits end up so egregiously inflating the cost of medical care, Medicare for one, is and will continue to subsidize pernicious private insurance as a result.)
Marie, I have the same plan as Obama yet I do not have the same coverage, for the simple reason that insurance companies know the difference between my members of Congress and the rest of us. The FEHBP can no longer be used to reform our system because insurers have been aware of this potential and have been quietly rigging that system for the last dozen or so years.
Federal plan holders now have virtually no rights against misbehaving insurers. It didn't used to be so. The second-in-command at the government office in charge of negotiating healthcare contracts during this change is a former VP of AETNA. Major law firms hired by insurers have been actively changing rules and developing law to make it so FEHBP policyholders have virtually no recourse.
Posted by Kate, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:14 pm
Richard Place writes "'Im 76 and I've had two major knee surgeries paid for by my Medicare and AARP coverage. Didn't cost me a dime," Really?? How did you pull that off? Tell us how you did it. In 2008 my husband and I each paid $96.40 off the top of our monthly Social Security check = $1156.80 a year for each or $2,313.60 for us both in premiums. On top of that we paid close to $125-$150 a month each for our supplemental premiums . Medicare does not pay for glasses and hearing aids. It does not pay for dental care. Maybe you 'didn't see the bill' , but you did not get your knees for free. If you did, please let us all in on this one.
Posted by observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm
A friend from a foreign country commented to me yesterday that the healthcare system is the one way that America is now obviously inferior to the rest of the world, and everyone but us can see it. If we fixed that, he said, we would be the greatest country on earth again.
Our inability to fix this will impact our reputation and our competitiveness as a technological leader worldwide. It already is.
We should take a chapter from How the Mighty Fall: Why Some Companies Never Give In: (the five stages of corporate decline)
Posted by observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:22 pm
I had major Medical care in 2005 that the provider tried to extract $80,000 from me for three years for. When I was finally able to make the insurer cover it, they applied their payment schedule of $15,000 for the care. I was finally repaid the $42,000 the insurer extracted from me through less-than-above-board means, minus my considerable copay.
When I had the same medical care under Medicare, it was covered promptly, and frankly at a slightly higher rate to the provider than by the insurer. My portion was lower under Medicare.
Posted by Jonathan, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm
Many, many American doctors will not accept Medicare patients, or at least not more of them. Why? Because private insurance policies subsidzie Medicare, and those doctors need to balance their business or clinc balance sheets on the back of private payers.
A public payer (leading to single payer) system would automatically allow private business to switch to the public payer system. Those current employees, who like their current policies, will be forced to switch over to the public (single payer) system, because they will have no choice. The public payer "option" is a Trojan horse that will destroy our current system of real choice. It is interesting that Canadians, who have bought private isnurance policies in the US, would also be forced to live within the constraints of their own system, even they don't want to.
The arguments about administrative costs, Medicare vs private, are extremely overstated, including the fact that privates spend more money on fighting overcharges and fraud. However, the largest portion of the cost differential between Medicare and private insurance is the subsidy that private insurance provides to Medicare. It is not even close to being a level playing field.
At what point do we begin to discuss this issue with sober minds?
Posted by jb, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:43 pm
One point about the wait for health care. Government-sponsorship of some health system will be a cause of waits for medical care only because so many more people will be able to go in for care.
California will need 500,000 NEW nurses by 2025 to accomodate patient growth and nurse retirements. We don't have the school seats to produce those nurses at full enrollment until then. The supply of doctors moderates itself to serve those who can pay, and only a minimum of them. We don't have nearly the doctors to attend a serious epidemic or public health disaster. Every doctor's office could be booked into the distant future.
During the SARS and bird flu scares I remember our own city council throwing their aprons over their heads and assuring us that they wouldn't have time to help the community. They would be busy with commuunications and infrastructure (? during a flu epidemic). An article in one of the local media quoted someone saying that families would be on their own, they'd have to stay quarentined if any member was ill, keep their own medicine on hand, learn how to cope with illness and death, if necessary.
But we are cutting back on the students in the state schools and adding to the expense of an education. Result: fewer doctors and nurses. Score: one bullet to the great toe.
The second shortcoming of the current legislation is that it focuses only on the insurance companies. Insurance companies are the ones with the finger in the dike. Granted they are trying to protect their considerable corporate profits. But they are trying to cut prices to a formidable cadre of interests also protecting their own prodigious profits.
Among the drug companies there is the squabble over generic drugs versus namebrand, high-profit versions. Among Pharmacies there is the effort to substitute generics and charge a fortune anyway. There are the drug companies that patent the genome of something so that no other company can even do reseearch on it. And no other treatment for that malady may be offered on the open market.
Hospitals do the treatment they are licensed to do (a quad bypass, for instance) rather than send a patient to another hospital for the treatment he needs (a heart transplant.) They they send the patient for the transplant anyway. (My own personal experience.) And we haven't spoken about the infections, mistakes, and their repairs that need to be paid for. After all this, the hospitals would like to make a profit.
Makers of medical equipment regularly buy out inexpensive apparatus manufacturers in order to market their much more expensive version with no competition from the modestly priced apparatus. They also make minor changes and relicense an expensive monopoly holder so there will be no competition from less expensive versions. When you get an MRI, you pay for the use of the machine, the tech, the doctor who reads the test (in India or the Philippines, oten), the owner of the lab that did the test, your own doctor. And then you pay a royalty for the use of the machine to the manufacturer.
None of these expenses are addressed or effectively addressed in the legislation. And they are not problems that the open market is interested in remedying either. Investors in the medical sector expect to earn significantly higher profits than investors in other sectors of the economy—about four times those ordinary profits.
So if you are worried that you might go without medical care under government administration of the payment system, I suggest you wonder at the fact that you get any care at all under the current system.
Posted by healthnut, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jul 20, 2009 at 6:00 pm
Regarding the reference to health care in Canada, it is helpful to deal in specifics. Often incorrectly referred to as the "Canadian health care system", health care delivery in Canada is the responsibility of the provinces and territories, and 90% of Canadian doctors are self-employed.
This article helps with some common misunderstandings:
This page outlines the federal and provincial roles Web Link
I lived in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario for 18 and 21 years respectively before moving to the Bay area. Both my children were born in Canadian hospitals, and my family and I used the health systems of both provinces for a range of surgery, health maintenance and emergency services. I observed the cancer treatment my mother and sister each received over the past 2 years, and found it to be of high quality. In 39 years, I never saw a bill for health services (other than eye care and dental services, where I used private providers) or the dreaded, cryptic "explanation of benefits".
By contrast, I have had 4 different health care payers in the 12 years we've lived here, each with different coverages, authorized providers and ways of communicating. While a great way to create clerical jobs and enrich insurance companies and lawyers, the many to many relationships of providers to payers here create an enormous amount of cost and complexity for no incremental value. We have room for improvement.
While far from perfect, the provincial single-payer system is extremely efficient and suits the needs of the vast majority of Canadians.
This great country, which had the ingenuity put a man on the moon 40 years ago, deserves much more than a reallocation of work from private to public employees. We deserve a streamlined public-private health partnership that eliminates waste, promotes best practices and leap-frogs other Western countries in the per capita cost and quality of universal health care.
Posted by jerryl, a resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 12:01 am
Yeah. Jackman's 78 year old mother was able to get two knee replacements and hit the ground running. At 78 years old, she was on that GOVERNMENT RUN medical program called Medicare.
It really bugs me to hear Republicans chant their mantra over and over that the government can't do anything right, etc. etc.
I strongly suspect that the ones braying loudest are themselves benefiting from either VA, the Congressional Medical plan or Medicare--all pretty good and all Government run. So why are they TERRIFIED by the thought of the Government offering a voluntary plan to us peasants. I, for one, would like to see it.
Posted by socialize Medicine, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 9:50 am
1. The care and facilities are similar, but it was more timely in Europe.
2. In Europe I had no hassles and no (OK, minimal) expense.
Here the system is a mess. You have to fight to get adequate care in the first place. You also have to deal with choosing an insurer, picking a provider, jumping through hoops every time you need care, and then coping with the bureaucratic aftermath.
For instance, if I want to have an ear infection treated at PAMF, I have to schedule an appointment with my regular doctor, which takes a few days unless you fight with them. This doctor then has to refer me to the ear specialist. I call to make the appointment, and no one has a referral for me. More telephone calls. Finally, the ear people acknowledge they have a referral, however all the ear specialists are booked six weeks out, so I have to call repeatedly and bug the staff to wedge me into a doctor's schedule. This doctor then gives me a simple treatment. The bill is above 700 dollars and a day wasted on two appointments and arguing on the phone. If I have not reached my deductible for the year, I have to cough up this cash.
Note that this is just one example, but I think most people in this country are familiar with this experience.
They are not familiar with the mostly trouble-free, extremely competent European system.
Posted by PAmoderate, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm PAmoderate is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
It remains to be seen whether the new GM can even survive. With all the government meddling (cannot close dealerships now, forced production of "green" vehicles that people don't want to buy), I'm not betting on it.
In fact, GM should have gone bankrupt long ago -- it was kept on life support too long, thanks to *government* intervention. GM also had huge inefficiencies because of *government* intervention and mandates (not to mention being beholden to the UAW, but that's a different topic).
SocMed, that's interesting. I just took my child in today to PAMF for an issue. Scheduled something this morning and went right on in without a problem. No hassles.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 12:22 pm
"It remains to be seen whether the new GM can even survive."
The fact is GM did not survive. The government saved it. But if GM's good 'ol boy "management" team comes back in, it's a goner. Those guys were the epitome of the routine incompetence that comes to people who have been working only with each other for too long. GM's only innovation in the last 50 years was in response to EPA mandates for cleaner, more efficient vehicles. Else, it would still be making its old carburetored smog machines.
Posted by PAmoderate, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm PAmoderate is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
"GM's only innovation in the last 50 years was in response to EPA mandates for cleaner, more efficient vehicles. "
You're right to a certain extent. The fact that the government didn't include light trucks in CAFE is one of the reasons why SUVs were the bread and butter for American carmakers. The other side of it that you're not discussing is the fact that the cost structure for making GM vehicles was way out of whack due to labor costs and benefits. Only SUVs and trucks had the needed margins to cover the additional labor costs -- small cars (and their requisite small market price) couldn't be done profitably to match the likes of Honda and Toyota.
GM in the end was a benefits company that happened to manufacture vehicles.
But if GM's benefits were taxable like a salary, then the UAW wouldn't have tried to backload benefits into pensions that left GM open to financial ruin.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm
"The fact that the government didn't include light trucks in CAFE is one of the reasons why SUVs were the bread and butter for American carmakers."
SUVs were the bread and butter for American carmakers until Toyota and Honda decided to make them too, and that competition finally killed Detroit.
But you miss the point. Even SUVs have catalytic converters and digitally-controlled fuel-injected engines as a result of EPA (government, that is) pollution mandates. Those innovations make for far better reliability and efficiency than the Model-T era carburetors and mechanical ignition systems that were standard into the 1980s. Detroit's last major self-innovation, the automatic transmission, dates to the 1930s. Had the government not forced an ossified Detroit kicking and screaming into innovation in the 1970s, it would have kept on peddling its thirties-era technology into the 21st century. Or kept trying to.
Whining about unions doesn't make better cars, but it's a lot easier. It took the government, run by Democrats, to kick Detroit out of that rut.
Posted by PAmoderate, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm PAmoderate is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Feel free to believe what you want to believe, but when you are already $2K-$4K in the hole per vehicle for costs, it makes it very difficult to invest in new technology.
The government didn't drag Detroit into putting in new technology -- the market did. The oil shocks of 1973 spelled the end of Detroit. The government just continued to add additional mandates that Detroit couldn't move fast enough to address (cars != software). Add the labor hole compared to the Japanese, and now you have the mess that we have today.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:07 pm
Hmm...let's see..socialized medicine in Europe is so much better. Right.
1) 2 year wait for a nursing home for my 83 year old Cousin, while her 86 year old husband cares for a wife who no longer recognizes him, kicks him, spits, and wanders away. What is the longest any of you have known anyone to wait for a nursing facility bed?
2) 2 failed surgeries, each making the problem worse, on a birth defect on the face of my 30 year old cousin..no recourse to recovery by lawsuits, no recourse to a choice to a different, better doctor. How many of you know someone who failed to get a good fix on a facial defect, if not the first time, the second time, because of choices and lawsuits?
3)Twice the death rate within 5 years from cancer there from delayed and absent care..and my cousin, a physician, with cancer. He knows why he doesn't have as much chance..even as a doctor, the wait for the surgery was 3 months, and the wait for Chemo has already been 2 months more, and he can't get the cancer drugs we issue here. Never would happen here.
All of this in ONE family..a daughter, her father, and his mother. And the father is a physician..how much worse must it be if you have nobody in "the system".
If you don't like the personal stories, read the statistics on speed of access to health care, medicine development, surgeries, and procedures.
And you want us to have this lovely socialized medicine? No thank you. I am not willing for us to give up everything that works for the rest of us for 5% of the population. I am willing to make REAL reform changes that will allow all of us to be able to buy more affordable health insurance, including the 5% who truly can't afford health insurance now, but I am not willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
But, keep believing the guy who has broken every promise he has made so far when he says that this reform bill, that he hasn't even read, won't take away choices and will be affordable.Right. I will get you the link to the actual bill..you will be shocked.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:10 pm
Sorry, should have added in the "speed of access to quality care" sentence above that even the WHO places us as number 1 in speed of access to quality care..what places down to "37th" is primarily because we spend so much on having that number one spot.
So, if you want everything to "cost less", you are going to have to give up BMW health care and all the inherent choice we have, as well as legal recourse.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Don't blame the unions. GM, that shining paradigm of private enterprise, negotiated its labor contracts on the free market. Unfortunately its negotiating skills were as feckless as its other pursuits.
Maybe you can explain GM's dogged reluctance to build cars that stayed assembled. I could tell you stories about dragging my busted GM iron to repair shops in every state I drove it. Then I went over to Honda and have had only the routine maintenance ever since. Like lots of other people, I never went back.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:44 pm
Paul says "Don't blame the unions. GM, that shining paradigm of private enterprise, negotiated its labor contracts on the free market. Unfortunately its negotiating skills were as feckless as its other pursuits."
Which is why we should have let it go under...instead, given political powers, it stayed in business, with a strengthened union, will be forced to build cars people don't buy,...and with whose money? Ours ( those of us who pay fed taxes).
This is yet another shining example of why Eshoo was being picketed. It is the principle of the matter(s). Keep government out of the way of you and me. Let us each vote with our pocketbook for who succeeds and who fails, not leave it to a few politicians grabbing for power.
This is why the Constitution specifically enumerates the "negative powers" of the Feds, and why the ideological ilk represented by Obama wants to change our very fabric such that there is an assumption of "positive powers" of the Feds. Obama himself has said that he regrets that the Supreme Court never took it a step further into imbuing our Constitution with powers not enumerated in it. ( though he is now on his way to getting that wish)
If this ideological belief succeeds in taking over this nation, there would be( already is, in some people's minds) an assumption that the job of the Fed govt is to "take care" of the people, including "rescuing" businesses that should fail, (as only one of a long list of "rescues" presumed to be within the scope of the Federal govt), all paid for, of course, by the ever shrinking numbers of us who actually pay for the "rescues" of those who failed or should fail.
The taxed are becoming ever more angry at having money taken from us to be used for the promotion of failure. Leave us our money, and we will donate to causes that actually help people, causes we "vote" for through donations, not causes supported through political maneuvering.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2009 at 11:19 am
"The taxed are becoming ever more angry at having money taken from us to be used for the promotion of failure."
To see promotion of failure go view any Chevy commercial of the past 50 years. The point is, the government was the solution for GM, plus Chrysler, plus AIG, plus Wachovia, plus BofA, plus... Now we see if even that solution was enough to prop up these rot-infested paragons of free market capitalism.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2009 at 2:41 pm
Paul, I am not sure if you are baiting or serious, but I will assume you are serious. The difference of opinion lies in whether or not taxpayers should have been part of any bail-out of any private industry. People like me believe not. We believe allowing business evolution, so to speak, lets the weak die out, the strong grow, which helps all of society.
To take it one step further, we have seen what happens when govt, funded by the taxpayers, intervenes even with simply regulations, not even in passing out taxpayer money. This happens when govt, in the form of regulations and bills, force private businesses to do business in a way that favors a political goal, versus the goal that is normally the goal of private businesses...to make a profit.
The goal of any government bureaucrat, whether elected or appointed, is to keep and grow his power and his wealth, ie profit, also.
In comparing which set of people we trust more to help our society grow in the right way, we tend to trust the democracy of millions of business owners and millions more of the consumers voting with their pocketbook over what businesses live or die, to the much smaller number of bureaucrats whose goal is to increase their own power and wealth at the expense of the consumer and taxpayer.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jul 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm
No baiting, just observing objectively.
"We believe allowing business evolution, so to speak, lets the weak die out, the strong grow, which helps all of society."
A salon fantasy. Those who depend on existing businesses for their living usually have a different point of view, and they vote it.
However, my point is that certain businesses benefit from periodic government protections, interventions, and spurs to innovation. In fact, the very existence of American industry owes much to protectionist tariffs of the 19-th and early 20-century, and its recent decline is due in large part to the fuzzy-head free market fantasies that became fashionable in the last 30 years.
I perceive you are perfectly comfortable with increasing America's dependence on foreign suppliers, notably Communist China, by letting its native industries die for an ideology. Either you are starry-eyed new at this conservatism thing and have not thought it through, or you are happy to sacrifice the USA for an ivory tower neocon notion.
Or, as I pointed out a few weeks ago, you're a leftie who's doing a very good job making the right look bad.
Posted by John, a resident of another community, on Jul 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm
A lot of you people, especially the ones who keep voting for her, need to wake up about what she is about.
"This month, a Senate committee approved 12 years of exclusivity. Attention shifts to the House, where a companion, 12-year bill sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., has 139 co-sponsors — compared with 14 lawmakers who back a competing measure that would allow generic competition after five years"
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 8, 2009 at 10:39 am
Sue B...hahahahahahhaa!!!!! I love it.
I wonder when our brave congresspeople and Senators are going to have their Town Hall meetings, and which unions are going to call out their biggest guys to intimidate all of us middle aged taxpayers?
Can anyone explain to us why, if this health care takeover bill is so great, not one of the Congress or Senate people voting for it will have to live with any of the consequences? Not one pushing it has actually read it?
I really hope this great uniter, this great orator, this cool dude we have for POTUS gets his wishes, and his supporters keep packing the town halls with union thugs, keep "getting in our faces", stay "angry", keep smearing all the taxpayers opposed to "his" plan, keep trying to shut us up and intimidate us, keep coming up with completely unconstitutional and unamerican schemes like "report to the white house whoever spreads disinformation"..and then I hope they pass it, as threatened, with not one Republican vote..I really, really hope it happens. I really hope the full arrogance stays of display of the Dem leaders, who seem to really think that the vote for Obama was not a vote of ignorance and hate, but a vote to turn us into the horrible European, British and Canadian economic and health care results ( are we there yet?)..
I really hope they shove this bill through when 85% of the nation's citizens say they don't want this stealth health takeover bill ( because we have read it), they don't want their health insurance threatened or touched, they don't want more government interference in their lives, and they don't want to put the care of the weakest, sickest and oldest into the hands of the politically powerful healthy 18-65 year old with the inevitable rationing that will incur ( as has happened in every other "universal health care" country)..
I wanna see the fall out. It is going to be a beauty. America is going to be more careful next time, maybe even electing congress/senate people and a president/vp who have some experience actually working as producers and taxpayers, who have actually donated time and money to charities, and who have a proven history of working for the love of America's Constitution and strengths, voting to improve her, not destroy her.
So, I will await the announcement of the Town Halls ( who is taking bets they won't have the courage?)
Posted by Frances Griffin, a resident of Menlo Park, on Aug 9, 2009 at 2:00 am
Medicare is a single payer plan, publicly financed plan, with government oversight and care delivered by private providers. You would call it a government-run plan. I have Medicare and it is way better than any employer-based insurance I ever had. No one gets between me and my doctor. I don't even have to play "Mother, may I" to get pre-approval before I see a specialist. And I have almost unlimited choice of doctor. I love it.
My only concern about the reforms being discussed is that they are shaping up to be not enough like Medicare. But I would never want to go back to dealing with a for-profit insurer and the "Delay and Denial Committee."
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2009 at 11:21 am
Ms. Griffin, though I appreciate your input, with all due respect I would like to explain the difference between what you are experiencing, and what the "public option" would result in after it has destroyed all the private options.
I think that you don't realize how it works that your private deliverers are ABLE to deliver your care to you. We supplement your care by taking private pay patients. The advances available to you were paid for by the research of companies and individuals..who have their risks and troubles reimbursed with high paying private pays to make up for all the failed attempts at innovation.
If we had only one payment system, TAXES, so that all of us were battling for the use of the same health care dollars, and given that we are now facing a shrinking pool of taxpayers relative to the over 65 crowd as the Baby Boomers hit retirement, you would find that your needs would take a back seat to those who actually pay the taxes ..who would vote in more for themselves and less for you, the disabled and the young.
It is simply a reality that people will always do what is in their own best self-interest in a shrinking pie scenario. As long as the health care dollar pie is growing, such as it has for the last 30 years through private pay patients viz virtually unlimited health insurance benefits, then those who pay the tax bill feel fine about paying for those in govt care plans. ( though, in my experience, there really has been a phenomenal abuse of Medicare by a LOT of people..but that is a different story, and certainly one I wouldn't want to expand into a universal option)
But, when the pie stops growing, you end up with what happens in Canada, England, France etc, ( or even, locally, try looking at what has happened in Oregon). The aged, young and disabled..ie the ones with no political power..are the ones who lose.
It may be a moot discussion at this point. It looks like the private-killing public option is going to go into hibernation again for awhile, if it is true that the White House is dropping this part. This would be great..maybe then we can get reform, not destruction, of our unique system so that we keep all that is great.
With any luck, maybe there will be some great fall-out from this tremendous national awakening,..maybe now the Democrats will realize that they have the power to institute the kind of reforms that would make great gains for all Americans
1) prevent "pre-existings' from being denied, throwing all of us into a large private pool..AND
2)lower all health care insurance premiums by legalizing our ability to CHOOSE health insurance that doesn't force to pay for all kinds of stuff we don't want, mandated through State laws
3)Incentivize all those people who can afford to buy insurance, but don't, through linking proof of insurance to a privilege, like we used to do with car insurance and driver's license renewals
4) Both number 3 and number 4 above would lower all premiums so that some of the 12-15 million citizens who actually can't afford insurance COULD afford it. ( the 47 million number is a bogus number, discussed at length in many threads)
Then we assess who is left who truly can't afford health insurance..and fix the few that are left.
I have concluded that the best scenario for America is to have a Dem POTUS, with conservative, free-market economic ideas being put in place so that the Dems get the credit, the media is blissfully fooled into believing the progress is from the left-wing, and America wins. I hope this is about to happen. I don't care who gets the credit, as long as we make real AMERICAN-based, not European-based, progress.
Posted by Perspective, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2009 at 6:57 pm
I would dearly love all of us to have the kind of care that Medicare gives our patients, but that is utopian wish, doomed to failure when we run out of taxpayer money, as would be inevitable from an ever shrinking pie. Examples abound of this phenomena in history around the world, as well as here in Oregon and Massachussetts.
So, given the realities of life in Canada, France and England, accusations of being uninformed aside, I will continue to support the reforms I have stated.
If I am wrong, as you purport GS, I would dearly love for you to prove me wrong. Please show me the data about the outcomes of health care in Canada and England over our outcomes. If you can bring up anything that shows me that cancers and heart problem survival is actually better in those countries, waits for surgeries shorter, and availability of medicines and medical devices better than here, then I will HAPPILY jump ship and support a "public option" that destroys our private choices.
Even if you could show me any reliable data that you believe "proves" that any of those tax-funded and bureacrat controlled single option systems actually waste less money than private options, an oxymoron if ever I heard one ( has anyone ever heard of a govt program run more efficiently than a private one?), I would have to ask you how much you value your health care. If you don't value it as much as I do, if you wish to spend less and have fewer options and longer waits in your health care, you are free to simply buy into the cheapest HMO you can find, and still allow room in our country for me to prioritize my spending so that I spend more on higher quality choices and care. What is it about denying us the choice to buy what we wish that is so appealing to you? Why are you so intent on giving up your freedom of health care choices? Do you lack confidence in your ability to make your own choices? I simply don't understand what the drive is in folks to continually want to give up their freedoms for "security", esp when the security is just a false sense, doomed to collapse of its own weight.
Let's keep growing our private options, so that we don't create one big, vanishing money bag, pitting the powerful against the weak, the overwhelmingly healthy and young against the minority who are ill, or disabled.
I am feeling quite optimistic that with the power the Dems have right now, along with the slavish stenography of the media to propogandize whatever the Dems want, that the Dems can actually accomplish a lot of good with our health care...I look forward to being able to buy less expensive health insurance that doesn't cover stuff I don't want to ever have..
Posted by GS, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2009 at 9:37 pm
"If I am wrong, as you purport GS, I would dearly love for you to prove me wrong."
One simple example. We and Europe have similar access to technology and knowledge, we are richer. Yet, infant mortality is much higher here (look it up). We have chosen to have poor outcomes for infants in this country.
As for "shorter waits for surgery," you know that is simply deceptive. The "waits" here may be shorter, but only because not everyone gets to wait. You would have to add in all those permanent waits in this country to get a comparable figure. The real waits are certainly longer.
The plank has been extended, so go ahead and jump ship as promised.
You admit that evidence will not sway you, so I'll refrain from pointing to the proof that government systems are less wasteful than ours.
Thus, if you value your healthcare, want to spend less and have more options and shorter waits, the single payer system is the way to go.