Are We Really That Stupid?

If we want to be charitable, about the best we can say is that we are uninformed. A huge majority of Americans, whether they are for it or against it, cannot describe what is actually in the health care reform bill now being considered by the congress. Most Americans, who are fortunate enough to have a health care plan, cannot describe what it covers and does not cover. But many of them are certain that, whatever it is, Obama and the Democratic socialists in Washington want to take it away from them.

Many Americans, who currently receive some form of government subsidized or administered health care, and seem to be very happy with it, don’t want the government involved in any way with their health care program. A surprising percentage of Americans don’t know that Medicare and Medicaid are government run health care programs.

Add to this the fact that a huge number of Americans also believe that health care reform, under the Democrats, will include provisions for euthanizing our elderly. Again, all anyone has to do to find the truth is read the amendment in question which, by the way, was authored and introduced by a Republican. It simply includes payment to physicians for consultation regarding a living will, and end of life care. Medicare does not currently pay for this consultation. The amendment’s only purpose is to enable more people to have this conversation with their doctors if they choose to.

So, we as a nation have whipped ourselves into a frenzy, assailing and defending a health care reform bill that we don’t know anything about, except what we have chosen to accept from the rumor mill, and from the all-too-partisan cheerleaders on both sides, as truth. Are we really that stupid?

Maybe. But it smells a lot like lazy to me.

You may read  Sec. 1233. Advance Care Planning Consultation, as well as the rest of the health care bill by clicking HERE.

But you probably won’t.

David Perkins

Join the Conversation


  1. Are people really that dumb?

    Do people really believe that Pres. Bush was behind Sept. 11?

    Do people really believe that everyone that participated in the Tea Parties are racist and hate Pres. Obama?

    Do people really believe that the healthcare reform will not evolve into a one payer healthcare system? (government run and taxpayer funded)

    Nobody has any idea what the Healthcare Reform act will look like in a month or two, but what the House has passed will not be it. What some people are concerned about is that “end of life consulting” could turn in to something else, such as, putting pressure on the elderly (meaning me) to end their life prematurely, to save healthcare dollars. I’m not saying this is the intent, I’m just saying that it could turn into that.

    What I am most concerned about is how do we pay for it and how do we not let it turn into socialized medicine. We have already socialized the banks and the automotive industry.

  2. Nick, no one is suggesting that the right has a monopoly on wingnuts. The extreme left is just like the extreme right; it’s extreme. And the conspiracy theories from the left are no more valid than those espoused by Rush, and Glenn Beck, and Matt Drudge.

    Do I think Bush knew about, and allowed the attacks of 9/11 to happen? Of course not. I DO believe that he immediately used it to capitalize politically, and then completely bungled almost everything he did about it.

    Do I think that everyone who participated in the “Tea Parties” are racist haters of Barack Obama? No. I don’t. I think many were genuinely worried, and were expressing their concerns about our multiple dilemmas. But, I do believe that much of the anger and vitriol is stoked by a substantial number of people who just cannot come to grips with the fact that our president is a black man, and they will never accept that as legitimate, no matter what kind of ludicrous theory they have to latch onto.

    Nick, the status quo is not sustainable. You may have great heath care now, but it will only get more and more expensive for less and less coverage as time goes on. Corporate administrators are already “rationing” your care, and looking for reasons why they don’t have to pay your claim. Now, it may remain acceptable for the rest of your life, but I know you are concerned for your children and grandchildren.

    If we never passed legislation in this country for fear of what it might become, rather than what it is, nothing would ever get done. If anyone is going to try to knock you off early to save a few bucks, I think its going to be Blue Cross, and Aetna, and Kaiser Permanente. Too much testimony from inside their industry has proven that they routinely allow people to die without intervention simply because the cost is too high. If you want someone to distrust, try the people who stand to lose several hundred billion dollars if health care reform is successful.

    Besides, Advance Care Planning Consultation is a provision to pay for a consultation with your doctor. If you don’t trust your doctor not to talk you into offing yourself for the good of the community, then you have larger issues than who’s going to pay for the appointment. I’d start by finding a new doctor.

    Of course you’re concerned about how we will pay for this. But the cost of doing nothing is even higher. We’re already paying for the uninsured in this country. Every time a person walks into an ER and doesn’t have insurance, we pay the bill. The cost of insuring these people, in the long run, will be less than paying for their health care one ER visit, and one doctor visit, at a time.

    As for socializing the banks and the auto industry, it is certainly legitimate to question whether or not we should have loaned billions to these industries. But the same cries were heard when the federal government bailed out Chrysler and New York City in the 1970s. Those loans were paid back, with interest, and proved to have been a good thing for the country. Its my opinion that the same will happen in this case. I don’t believe that the taxpayers will be permanent stockholders in General Motors or AIG. I understand that others disagree.

    And finally, I am also skeptical of the clamor over “socialized medicine.” This has been the battle cry for those against any kind of universal health coverage since Harry Truman first tried to do something in 1947. Those who scream the loudest, and spend the billions to frighten us, are those who stand to lose the most money if they are forced to play by a few rules of decency. Not everything should be the domain of the free market. Corporations should not be allowed to play with people’s health care, and their lives, as if they were just another commodity, like soybeans. These companies make life and death decisions based solely on the bottom line. Is that the health care you want?

    I don’t think the federal government wants to run your healthcare. I just think they want to make the guys who do give us a little more bang for our buck, and maybe not play roulette with our lives in the process.

  3. The main problem with health care in this country is that standing between you and your actual health-care providers are three incredibly powerful groups: insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and malpractice attorneys. All three of these entities share two things in common: they skim the lion’s share of health-care costs into their own pockets, and none of them has a vested interested in you getting well.

    Health insurance companies have slowly become a monolithic block of power in Washington that nobody dares cross. They have transformed from a network of small businesses into an almost completely unregulated oligopoly that is gradually destroying virtually every sector of the American economy while they fatten their own wallets. When Ford declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago, one of the most interesting points (which nobody talked about) was that Ford’s two main expenses were payroll and health insurance. Ford couldn’t turn a profit primarily because it spends more on health insurance premiums than it does on steel. Insurance companies operate with no fear of retribution or reprisal from any other sector. If your insurance company wants to cut your benefits and double your premiums, your only recourse is to go to another provider, where you will quickly be confronted by how little competition exists in the health insurance marketplace.

    Personally, I am astounded that the health care reform bill has gotten this far, given the obscenely large contributions that the insurance companies give to the election funds of all 535 members of Congress.

    The pharmaceutical industry has one mantra these days: the FDA is such an intrusive force that their R&D costs are virtually impossible to ever recoup. This is the argument why any drug developed in the last 30 years costs more than $200 per pill. Drugs used to be expensive the first 5 years they were on the market, but then supply and demand would drive their price down. This no longer happens. The price for a drug no longer falls after generic equivalents are introduced. Instead, the pharmaceutical companies spend extra marketing dollars to educate doctors and patients as to why generic drugs aren’t as effective as their chemically-identical name-brand version. Another little observation of the pharmaceutical industry: when was the last time you ever heard the word “cure” used in a press release? Pharmaceutical companies have come to realize that curing a disease stops their revenue stream, but mitigating symptoms means you’ve made a customer for life. When people started dying from AIDS in the 1980’s, a public outcry went out to the drug companies to find a cure. What we got was AZT, which simply prevents HIV from getting any worse, as long as you take it FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Two things of note in this story: the first is that the other drug companies have quietly all but abandoned finding a cure for AIDS, and that AZT, even though it’s been on the market for almost 20 years, is still close to $100 per pill. Btw, the main reason that nobody complains about the cost of drugs in this country is because every time you do, the drug companies in a single voice proclaim that the only way to lower their prices is to quit trying to find cures for cancer and diabetes.

    That and the fact that pharmaceutical companies hand out almost as much in political contributions as the insurance companies.

    The good news about the drug companies is that their marketing people like to give away stuff to doctors in obscene amounts. This is good news because without a lot of free stuff, doctors would never be able to offset the forever-increasing cost of malpractice insurance premiums. If Ben Franklin were alive today, he’d tell doctors that there are 4 certainties in this world: Death, taxes, you’re going to get sued, and your malpractice insurance will go up.

    This brings us to the third group of people sucking the life out of the health-care system: malpractice attorneys. Doctors make mistakes, and patients have a right to be compensated for their real suffering. But if you think that malpractice attorneys care about either part of that statement, you’ve been reading too many John Grisham novels. The truth is that about 71% of all malpractice suits filed in this country are thrown out of court for lack of merit, but the fact that they’re filed means two things: the attorney gets paid, and the doctor’s insurance goes up. That’s right. Malpractice insurance companies raise the premiums on good doctors who have the bad luck of treating overly-litigious patients. What this means is that many very good doctors in this country are leaving private practice because their premiums exceed their income, and many people are thinking twice about getting into the medical profession because they fear that they will never be able to make a living at it. New Jersey has some of the most liberal malpractice laws in the country, and the least regulation of insurance companies. It also has the lowest number of doctors per capita, because they’re all migrating to other states.

    Everyone screams these days about government regulation. The funniest part is that the people screaming the loudest are the Republican members of Congress responsible for regulation. Let’s look at the government’s track record on regulation, shall we? We de-regulated the airline industry in the 1980’s. Remember 4-across seating and a hot meal in coach? No one born after 1984 does either. California tried de-regulating the energy sector a few years ago, and everyone got to learn what the term “rolling blackout” means. Let’s not even talk about de-regulating the banking industry, and how well that turned out. But let’s look at some things that regulation helped. How about the Clean Water Act? The Endangered Species Protection Act? The National Park Service? Seat belts?

    The real truth is that the Republicans in Congress aren’t afraid that the Health Care Reform will be a big train-wreck. They’re all afraid it will work.

    And that will make their campaign contributors very angry.

  4. I will know Obama is serious about the health of all Americans, including himself, when he denounces cigarettes and quits smoking them.

    AlQuada killed 2700 people in 2001.

    Cigarette companies kill more than 500,000 Americans every year and they get subsidies from the government.

    Forget Bin Laden. Find and prosecute those assholes that run American Tobacco, R J Reynolds and P Lorilard.

    We can’t have meaningful health care for all until cigarettes are controlled like other dangerous substances and the public weened off them. My brother, a prominent physician in this area, once had 15 patients at Baylor Grapevine Hospital, and all 15 were there because of smoking, one way or another…

    When are we going to do something about America’s addiction to smoking, which unfairly burdens all of us with enormous costs to both insurance premiums and hospital care – – – something that’s very popular with poor folks…the very ones we will have to pay for out of our taxes and insurance premiums? And when will the media – – – much less the government – – – ever bring this up?

    The time for genuine, serious health care is now. Half a million corpses a year can’t be wrong.

  5. Kent, you never miss an opportunity to cloud the issue. Your right, smoking sucks, but do you really think Obama’s tobacco habit should delay meaningful discussion of health care? He has denounced smoking several times, and indicated that he’s trying to quit. Should we wait until he does before deciding that he’s serious about health care?

    And let’s try to imagine, just for a moment, if introducing tobacco legislation as a part of health care reform could possibly create any more angst and demagoguery than we’re already dealing with. Maybe increase taxes on tobacco products? Ah, but then Democrats would have to use the “T” word, and we know what a field day that would be on the right. It would be Christmas come early for the Republicans.

    But, I would never attribute your motives to something so devious.

  6. You misunderstand me, my friend. I think we need health care reform right now, and I also think we need to tax cigarettes even more heavily to help pay for it.

    Let those causing the most problems also contribute the most…

    …and how about a $500 special fine for every DUI conviction to help defray emergency room costs of accident victims?

    I want Obama to be successful in getting us to a place where poor kids and unemployed families can have decent health options.

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.

  7. Your beauty has nothing to do with it. (Or, at least, very little.)

    And I reiterate … just imagine the firestorm that would result if the Democrats decided to pay for even a small part of healthcare reform with new tobacco and alcohol taxes and fines.

    Or is it your position that the Republicans would say, “Hey, great idea. Why didn’t we think of that?”

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