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Will Health Care Reform Pass?

Posted by Jane Akre
Saturday, November 07, 2009 9:42 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Health Care Reform, Democrats, GOP, Pelosi, Tort Reform, Caps, Uninsured, Insurance, GOP, Dingell

The basics of health care reform on this rare Saturday House session to pass reform.

Rare Saturday Session


IMAGE SOURCE: Gavel/ iStockphoto

President Obama plans to visit Pennsylvania Avenue today to do some last minute rallying in support of the Democratic bill that will reform health care, H.R. 3962.

The reforms require everyone to have insurance, subsidies will help 36 million uninsured obtain insurance with the goal of covering 96 percent of those who are in the country legally. Illegal immigrants won’t be able to obtain coverage.

The bill ends denial and pre-existing conditions as a reason for insurance industry to deny you coverage. And it will not allow insurers to charge women more for their coverage, as they seek out health care more often than men.

The legislation would pay for itself, says the Congressional Budget Office and would tax high income earners, those making $500,000.

The bill has gone through three different committees and needs 218 to pass among the 258 Democrats in the House. As of yesterday, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md) said he wasn’t sure all the votes were there.

The sticking issues of abortion and immigration have brought the most vocal protests. Opponents don’t want those here illegally to have insurance, though they could use their own money to buy into exchanges. Democrats say that the legislation is neutral on the abortion issue though there is division on how to use public funds for abortion.

Friday’s House floor discussion largely included facts and figures about cost and little about health, how to protect patients from medial errors, or insurance reform.

83-year-old Rep. John Dingell’s (D-Mi) is the leading sponsor of the bill and his name is at the top of the bill. He presided over the House when it passed Medicare in 1965. #


Anonymous User
Posted by Bob Wolfe
Saturday, November 07, 2009 11:27 AM EST

Excellent summation of what's happening. The time for health care reform is here despite what the Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Tea Party, Insurance Lobby wing of the republican party screams.

Anonymous User
Posted by Blake W
Saturday, November 07, 2009 1:00 PM EST

You Americans will live to regret this Bill!
Bob Wolfe is a typical naive Democrat who follows the party line. Note. I am a Canadian, and I am telling you: Universal Government run health care SUCKS!
Obama is lying to you about how great the Canadian system is. You Americans will regret this.

Anonymous User
Posted by ice cream socialist
Saturday, November 07, 2009 1:11 PM EST

the stimulus bill did not create jobs...and this bill will not make health care better or affordable... if it does pass .. it will give the Republicans power for the next 20yrs

Anonymous User
Posted by Bud
Saturday, November 07, 2009 1:54 PM EST

The dems are out for one thing - themselves. America needs healthcare reform but a total takeover is Stalin like. We need to focus on cost control (not out of control), providing insurance to Americans (not the illegals like Pelosi wants) and reduce lawsuites (not increase them). This healthcare plan is the second concern of America's downfall. The first concern is Big O. New elections are coming soon. Out with the old and in with the new. Vote for the change we need. Not what is being forced on the American people. Amen.

Posted by Jane Akre
Saturday, November 07, 2009 4:22 PM EST

BlakeW - Tell us where you live in Canada and your experiences?

May people throw the Canadian references around and I always ask them if they have personal experience! Share please. And thank you.

Anonymous User
Posted by Blake Wittenberg
Saturday, November 07, 2009 5:14 PM EST

Dear Jane,

Thank-you for expressing interest in my experiences with the Canadian Public Option. Please note that I concur with the Obama Administration that Health care reform is the order of the day, however, I am baffled that Public Option/Government Run is their idea of reform.
First I would like to uncover one of the greatest misconceptions about Canadian Health Care. Firstly, it is not free! With the exception of a few Canadian provinces (or as what you would refer to as: States), all Canadians are obligated to pay a premium for the subsidized health care. What is more - their is not equal preference and coverage. For example, citizens who work for the government, a corporation, or a Union there is better coverage. There is a reduction in waiting ofr procedures.
On a more personal level ... my daughter was born with a Turner's Syndrome. This was discovered while she was in the womb. This means that my daughter has special needs, has kidney problems and will require a plethora of hormones in order to lead a normal life. When the doctors discovered this they suggested that we consider aborting our baby. That's right - on more than one occasion they asked us if we wanted to abort for the sake of the quality of life. In other words, death panels are not a falacy. The implications of their request undoubtibly had ramifications of the cost that a special needs human would burden the public option.
Regardless of their inappropriate request (i.e. abortion), my wife and I kept our baby. But the direct consequences of rationed health care had only began.
Due to the nature of the complicated pregnancy, my wife was required to remain in the hospital. The ward which she was committed to was horrific. Imagine 20 women with new born babies and only three nurses to meet their needs. It was appalling, they simply could not meet the demands and as consequence my wife received a defunct intervenes which was inserted incorrectly in her left arm. It swelled up and brought her great pain.

I, myself, am a Canadian. I have a sleeping disorder. Went I went to a doctor I was told to try to not watch TV before I went to bed. I was told that the wait list for a surgical procedure to aid in my breathing would take at least 6 months ...

Jane, I could tell you story after story about the travesties. I will close with another true story. One my professors from graduate school told me that his wife (who is in her 70's) had to wait three years for knee surgery that she might be able to go for daily walks. After 3 years she got her surgery.

Jane, my wife is an American and is appalled that her fellow Americans will be under such a incompetent health coverage if Pelosi's Bill passes. Currently we reside in Vancouver, BC. Our government was recently busted for trying to cut more surgery's in a 'back-room' deal. It was leaked to the press by the opposition party. Other areas of Canada are trying to move back to private health care.

With best regards,

~Blake & Angie Wittenberg.

Anonymous User
Posted by JILL PAUL RN
Saturday, November 07, 2009 7:02 PM EST

Jane, I am well informed about Canadian Health Care since I have many relatives including a Sister who has MS who has experienced this abominable care offered in Canada. She waited 4 months to get an MRI

Anonymous User
Posted by JILL PAUL RN
Saturday, November 07, 2009 7:16 PM EST

Jane, unfortunately I could not complete my sentence. My Sister waited 4 months to travel 100 miles to get her MRI to diagnose her problem - Multiple Sclerosis. BAD ENOUGH DIAGNOSIS. Not only that, she got up to Ottawa from Kingston, Ontario, only to find that she was claustrophic and had to reschedule for 2 months down the road with sedation. Here in the US, we could have rescheduled here a couple of days later. You people have no idea what the Canadians go through regarding scheduling elective surgeries. They are canceled all the time. You have no idea what you have just voted on. Good luck. You are going to see the repercussions of all of this like you cannot believe.

Posted by Jane Akre
Saturday, November 07, 2009 8:02 PM EST

I thought the Netherlands was the system everyone thought should serve as the model for U.S. health care?


Thanks for your additions and personal experiences. It's very enlightning. I'll get some other Canadian friends to add their comments here as I've heard from them the system works fine.

Anonymous User
Posted by Blake Wittenberg
Saturday, November 07, 2009 8:45 PM EST

Dear Jane-

With all due respect. Why would you point us in the direction of a European style health care system which models the Netherlands as described by PBS? It is common knowledge that PBS is a left-leaning Liberal perspective. Furthermore, a co-worker of mine is from the Netherlands. In like manner she was appalled by the Health Care system in the Netherlands which was weighed down by bureaucracy.
In spite of my personal experiences, and those of Jill, it is obvious that you still need to hear from Canadians who think the Canadian system is "just fine." This suggests, to me, that you are not convinced that Obama (with all his good intentions) is pointing America in the wrong direction.

It would seem that you are in fact sympathetic to a Universal health care system. I agree that the United States needs reform, but I warn you that Public Option is not the answer. Forgive me if I have come to a wrong conclusion. Nevertheless, thank you for your time and reading my perspective. I leave you with one final thought. There are only 40 million people in Canada. There are only 16 million residing in the Netherlands. But can you imagine 300+ million people in the United States clamoring for Universal Health Care?

With kind regards,

~Blake Wittenberg.

Posted by Jane Akre
Saturday, November 07, 2009 9:03 PM EST

Thank you for your kind regards. A Democracy requires everyone to tolerate other opinions, even when they dont watch the same networks or listen to the same radio.

I happen to like NPR, for example this report by Alix Spiegel really put a face on how we all drive health care costs. Julie Rovner covers medical issues very well, even handed, non-partisan, informative.

I've been a reporter since 1978 and I think I can spot good informative reporting that encourages you to think, doesn't tell you what to think. Just my opinion based on my experience. Listen to the report and see what you think. Thanks!


Anonymous User
Posted by Blake Wittenberg
Saturday, November 07, 2009 9:30 PM EST

Dear Jane-

Indeed, thank goodness for Democracy ...

It can not be overstated that Health Care Reform is the order for the day. Please note that my 'strong opinion' is subjective, obviously.
From what you have told me in your last post, Alix Spiegel and Julie Rovner have built a sturdy case for introspection which implies reform. So I will listen to the report and tell you what I think.
Finally, if you don't mind me saying that I maintain that the Democrats in your Congress are on the right track, but I fear they have chosen the wrong train.

again ... I will check out your source and comment again.



Anonymous User
Posted by shirleygrobbel
Sunday, November 08, 2009 7:15 AM EST

I hope ALL you Democrats that vote for this bill
ROT in Hell,
It is sad Your Mothers did not think of abortion when she cariedd You.
Obama and Polisi are the Most terrible Our Country ever had
Dingel it is time You go home and stay in Your rocking chair.
You sure did nothing to Hel[a GREAT PRESIDENT
Like George Bush He will always be the BEST.

Anonymous User
Posted by Blake Wittenberg
Sunday, November 08, 2009 2:56 PM EST


your comments are very wicked. I think you might be a devious fraud posing as a 'bitter right-wing nut'. By the way, Bush was also a moderate. There was more to his presidency than Iraq.

(Jane, I have listened to the NPR radio. I will listen to it again and give my thoughts).

The Democrats are addressing a long overdue issue in the United States. But I think that they have chosen the wrong tool to fix the problem.


Anonymous User
Posted by Woody
Sunday, November 08, 2009 9:04 PM EST

The most frustrating part of this whole government take over of health care is the complete lack of veracity on the left. Look, we all know this is about getting to a single-payer system. Why can't the left just own up to it, rather than slinking aroung, trying to convice people they want an inpossible combination of governmet/private system? You don't want choice....you want the government to issue you some kind of health id card to put in your wallet, thinking that will provide you with some sense of security. Look, I'm all for having a saftey net for those who can't do for themselves. But, since I CAN do for myself, I want government to step aside, and let me achieve that which I know I can. What does it say about a government that cannot make do on the one-third it takes in taxes from every working American? My God, at what point will the left finally say, "enough already".

Posted by Mike Bryant
Sunday, November 08, 2009 9:08 PM EST

Woody, there isn't single payer because the votes aren't there. There are many people that have said they would rather have it, and were saying that during the debate yesturday. In fact a couple voted against the bill because of that deisire. No idea where you are getting your information from.

Posted by Mike Bryant
Sunday, November 08, 2009 9:08 PM EST

Woody, there isn't single payer because the votes aren't there. There are many people that have said they would rather have it, and were saying that during the debate yesturday. In fact a couple voted against the bill because of that deisire. No idea where you are getting your information from.

Anonymous User
Posted by Woody
Sunday, November 08, 2009 9:34 PM EST

Mike Bryant - Please share that names of the two Democrats who voted nay on HR3962 because they wanted a single payer system instead...Otherwise, please take your seat.

Anonymous User
Posted by Woody
Sunday, November 08, 2009 9:54 PM EST

Like I said, there is a palpable lack of veracity on the left with regard to this issue. The notion that private insurance companies will servive alongside a non-profit, government run "exchange" (or whatever we're calling it today), is unworkable. I have a degree in economics, but I need not draw on that to arrive at such an intuitive conclusion. The model doesn't work over time. Hence, when the smoke clears, we're left with what remains...a single payer scheme.

Anonymous User
Posted by Woody
Sunday, November 08, 2009 10:18 PM EST

Mike Bryant- I think Dennis Kucinich voted no because he wanted a single-payer system, so I guess I must take MY seat. Not-for-nothing, but there are times when I think Kucinich doesn't undertsand the real world. In any case, it seems he voted no, because he thinks 3962 is a poor substitute for single payer. I stand (sit) corrected.

Posted by Mike Bryant
Monday, November 09, 2009 1:24 AM EST

Reps. Brian Baird of Washington was the other surprise, although he did focus on the cost per person as being the main reason. Other got up and said they would support the bill, but wanted single payer. My point is that they weren't hiding the belief. There are so many people that are being insured now and the reality is that the companies that aren't insuring them , somehow argue that someone else (the government) insuring them will put them out of business. I still don't get that.
Beyond that, people miss the underlying deal with Insurance isn't for them to profit of the premiums. They are allowed to act like banks , take in money and are free to invest it to make money. In return they are supposed to collect enough to balance the liabilities. While there is regulation, they are free to make as much as they want off the investments.
Finally, seems that the Medicare, I heard about some where is single payer and run by the government. The same type of people shook their fists at it.

Anonymous User
Posted by Blake Wittenberg
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 3:37 PM EST

Dear Jane-

I listened to the NPR radio program. The thesis of the presentation was concise. Jane, the NPR message was very insightful and made some excellent points. In short, according to the journalist, three variables attribute to an ongoing spike in health care costs.
First, marketing campaigns by pharmaceutical companies (in the 1980's) which led to a presumptuous mentality in self-diagnosis. Second, exploitation of (theoretically well intentioned) HMO's. Lastly, fear of malpractice leading to a costly 'money pit' of administration and logistics. All this is true, however, I did have some reservations with their perspective. You asked me what I thought ... so read on.

By the time you read this you will be aware of the recent victory for Democratic Congress in your great nation. From what I understand, the Bill addresses the first two variables which contribute to the sky-rocketing health costs. Good work, however, the 'Bill' did not tackle the final variable (i.e. malpractice regulation, also known as TORT reform). To me this seems absurd.

According to the NPR piece, it is implied that the marketing strategies of the 1980's led to patients believing that they knew more than the doctors themselves (i.e. demanded certain drugs and threatened them if they were not appeased, ect). In like manner, the insurance agencies were robbing doctors (and patients)of both time and money as a result of endless administration, in order to stall payments and procedures. The logical implication is that the pharmacies and insurers were to blame and the mere mention of marketing suggests a motive of greed.

If this reckless greed ought be shunned and removed from insurers and pharmacies. Then why would the same not apply for the entities which carry out the malpractice suits? Why was TORT reform not also included in the Bill? Furthermore ... how is a Public Option going to solve these variables of waste within the current health system.

Jane, I respect your 21 years of journalism and I can only imagine the details you have observed. Also, I realize that I am a Canadian on the outside looking in. But, to me, the link you sent smacks of unforgivable resentment towards private health care. If 'the consumer mentality' has infiltrated the sacred space of human dignity, then why should the Government infiltrate this sacred space?

Trust me, I am not a Limbaugh right-wing disciple.
I do unforgivably resent the neglectful attitude of the many years the Republican's had control of Congress and Senate and did very little for health care reform. However,I am a Canadian who is experiencing what Americans might experience in the long run.
Is there greed and corruption in private health care? Yes, of course. Are there presumptuous and greedy people who exploit hard working doctors?
Certainly! But NPR failed to give certain objective details, and in the end it left it's listeners with a suppressed argument i.e. failure to comment on the exploitation by greedy lawyers.

Am I opposed to lawyers? No! Could you imagine the what our work sites, schools, and criminal justice system would look like without trained scholars to defend Law? One of my dear friends in Canada is a Federal Constitutional attorney in the Saskatchewan. He spends most of his time assisting minorities and working alongside with the Supreme court.
However, like some drug companies and insurers, some attorney's are also 'on the take'. Holistic health reform needs to tackle all the variables implied in the NRP story.

Thanks for helping me see more facts in this ongoing debate.

Best regards to you!

~Blake Wittenberg.

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