Health Care Bill A Bit Wordy?

October 31, 2009 at 7:46 pm (News & Politics)

 

Ya think?

The entire Declaration of Independence, including all 56 signatures, is contained on a single hand-written sheet of paper.
The full and complete original Constitution of the United States of America is printed on six pages. The first four pages contain the basic text of the founding document. Page five is the letter of transmittal to the British government. And the sixth and final page contains all ten of the initial amendments, known as the Bill of Rights.
Karl Marx laid out The Communist Manifesto in a mere 23 pages.
The English translation of Dostoevski’s Crime and Punishment is 718 pages, while Tolstoy’s War and Peace weighs in at 1,225 pages.
And try as she might, even Ayn Rand could manage only 1,069 pages in her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged.
My personal, large-print New King James copy of the Bible contains 1,426 pages of text, a 64-page concordance and six pages of maps.
What do these momentous documents have in common with each other? They all contain fewer pages than the bloated Senate health care bill, S. 1796, which totals a ridiculous 1,502 pages.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Ralph Zig Tyko said,

    My friend, Scott Gilpin, responds:
    I approach the health care issue as someone grateful for my own good fortune. I benefit greatly from a very happy circumstance. In 2003 I was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (“AML”). The premier health care I received as a cancer patient was made available to me only because I also had a premier health insurance plan, which paid about a half million dollars in medical bills on my behalf; I paid nothing. Without my particluar insurance I might easily have died in a county hospital or some other lesser facility; perhaps sharing a room with other unfortunates too poor to afford anything better. What saved me is what I want for everyone, because everyone deserves it… as a birthright! I am alive today due to the collective efforts and resources of thousands, even millions, of others who paid into the fund I tapped for about $500,000 in medical treatments. However, I lost access to that fund when I stopped working for the public water district to become a private attorney. But by then my wife Diane was herself a water district employee at EBMUD, and that’s how I regained access to that same pool of insurance benefit funds as her spouse. For that I am eternally grateful.
    Our union predecessors negotiated health insurance as a contracted benefit of employment. Our wages may have once been less than the wages paid by comparable private industries, but our benefits were top notch for our income range. Reverses for unionized private sector workers over time now mean that wages paid in private industry no longer always lead those paid to public employees, but many contracted public employee health care benefits are still better than those available to comparable private sector workers. In a sense it was a trade off during better times, and it’s no coincidence that we are now seeing a coordinated assault on public employee health care benefits. To the extent this attack succeeds, both private and public sector workers and their dependants lose. This assault is unfair and morally wrong.
    It’s also unfair to assail a piece of legislation like the proposed health care reform bill, solely based on the number of pages it contains, as the authors have done in the text below. Besides, have you seen the size of those pages used to create the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? That wasn’t 8 1/2″ x 11″ envelope sized paper, ya know! Those pages were HUGE! So, in today’s terms, more paper was consumed than one might believe from the authors of that Internet hit piece behing sent to our in-boxes. (Granted, in their elegant simplicity those 2 founding documents were simply elegant.)
    Nevertheless, if you’re worried about the corrupt “horse trading” that goes into creating any piece of corporate legislation, there is good cause for concern this time too. Industry lobbyists are at work. I think it was German Chancellor Otto von Bismark who said something like, “Those who love legislation or sausage should never see either being created.”
    The “single payer” option was the first to be eliminated in this legislative horse trade. Early on, at the insistence of vested money interests, it was gone; even though it is the only proposed alternative that even purports to reach the goal of universal coverage (i.e., 100% of the population). It was promptly jettisoned because, with this idea, there is no room (and no need) for a private medical insurance industry. This idea touts health care as financed like other public utilities; the cost being spread among an entire population of ratepayers, citizens and other consumers. This is the so-called ’socialized medicine’ idea that the ‘tea-baggers’ and some well paid pundits abhor. Yet even most liberal politicians bailed out on this option long ago; never mind that polls indicate a majority of Americans do not oppose this alternative (a.k.a. “Medicare for All”).
    Then there was talk about a Kaiser Permanente HMO style of system, on a national level, with a place for corporate insurance shareholders at the table. Never mind that public insurance is nearly always & everywhere cheaper, just as publicly owned utilities are less expensive for consumers than are most privately owned utilities. For awhile it appeared there was some movement (at least among ‘blue dog’ Democrats) towards this alternative, and multiple congressional subcommittees took it up for consideration. But recent news stories are glum, and prospects are dim even for this much diluted compromise with private interests. This model is not expected to emerge whole at the other end of a dark legislative tunnel. The resulting product will likely be unsatisfactory to all but the major corporate insurance shareholders and the politicians they sponsor. These guys will still be around to suck the life blood of any valuable social service or natural resource they can get their greedy hands on, for as long as we allow it. And in the end both sides of ‘the aisle’ in Congress will blame each other for having failed to save capitalism from cannibalizing itself; while millions of people will still be left without adequate provisions for good health care.
    The goal of universal coverage is realizable, and it can be made cost effective relative to the private medical system that predominates in the United States presently. Excited voices point to presumed delays obtaining some forms of treatment in the “nationalized” health care systems of Canada and elsewhere. They are mostly ignorant of the realities, or deliberately exaggerating the difficulties for most patients in Britain, Canada and elsewhere. The Swedes, the Dutch, the Germans, the French and many others are living longer, healthier lives than are most Americans. We must face facts: each of their systems is better at delivering health care than the system we’re stuck with. Sure, everything from modern diagnostics to cosmetic surgery may be more readily available here than elsewhere; that is, if you can pay for it! The rest of us suck hind tit with medicine, just as we do with everything from Nike tennis shoes, to new BMW’s, to college educations; Here you get as much as you can buy, and not one bit more. It’s a system of “medicine as merchandise”… and it is morally wrong.
    We see how such immoral systems end up in many arenas. Take the executive job market as just one example: Hard working “A+” students from good colleges are routinely passed over for the likes of George Bush or John Kerry, whose families buy spots for their own kind at premier private schools like Yale or “HAHvahd.” Here we see that even ‘honor roll’ public school grads have to watch as admittedly “C-” guys pull rank and use class privilege to go about running the country… into a ditch.
    In general, the real glaring disparity in promptness and quality of health care is between all of the poor countries on the planet and the few really rich ones. The precise type of health care system in each country is probably secondary to that primary determining factor. Yet in most countries around the world the rich are getting richer (and healthier) while the poor still get sick and die, often in staggering numbers, from very preventable diseases. This is probably most pronounced with babies & little children, and there is something horrible with this picture. In the world’s richest and largest self-styled “Christian” nation the biblical example of The Good Samaritan, who rendered medical and finanical aid to a foreigner in his time of need without even thinking of reward or compensation, is totally ignored or explained away, rationalized with feeble alibis.
    As with all generalities, there are exceptions to the general rule that the wealth of a nation is the primary determining factor of any given health care delivery system: Cuba, for instance, is still a very poor country. However, despite shortages of so much else and regardless of its demonstrable shortcomings, the Cubans manage a health care system that is the envy of much of the rest of the world. Cuba has a “single payer” system that is publicly funded, managed and operated. It was designed without a ‘profit motive’ in mind. Yet the Cubans beat by-a-long-shot the quality of health care available to other comparably poor countries; In some vital categories their socialized delivery system equals or beats that provided to many citizens in much wealthier nations saddled with private “market driven” medical systems. Whatever else may be said about Fidel Castro and the lack of “democracy” in Cuba, there are some good things to be learned from that poor island’s health care system.
    My gripe isn’t with the number of words in this health care bill. My gripe is that the final reform won’t resemble, or even have as a goal, anything like the universal coverage that so many thought was coming when Barack Obama smooth-talked voters into helping him pummel his opponent in the presidential election by the wide margin of 58% to 40%.
    I also note: Those who most loudly tout “freedom of choice” as a fundamental liberty are frequently those who also most stridently oppose an increase in the number of choices for medical patients in this country; an increase in choices made available to patients by allowing for a so-called “public option.”
    My self allotted time time limit of five minutes is about up. I’ll close now.
    SG

  2. dick berk said,

    Zig (and scott):
    A most informative and well thought out “5 minutes” which covered many of the issues, including personal, of our Health care System. From an insider’s view I can only appreciate your luck in receiving great medical care and surviving a diease which, with lesser treatments, would be catastrophic.

    I cannot agree with you more regarding a universal health care system in whiuch everyone is covered and there are no worries for those wjho currently would be denied care because of the expense, the lack of insurance, or their inability to pay for the services.

    Years ago, when my father was a physician and had his office on the groundf floor of out house, medicine was a practiced art. Antibiotics did not exist, radiation was unusable for cure, Blue Cross and Blue Shield were just a figment, and the art of diagnosis and treatment of disease was just that… an art. As time progressed, however, the explosion of medical and technological advances made the “art” of medicine less improtant since there were now antibiotics, better surgical techniques, new and imnproved radiation, and finally real chemotherapy for cancer treatment. I possess an original vial of penicillin given to me by my father in law , containing 100,000 units, a killing dose then but now a spit in the ocean. With the introduction of medicare in the 60’s, the whoile scheme of medical care changed because now there was a government option which reimbursed adequately and physicians were happy to see. The reimbursement, of course, came from taxes (what, the tooth fairy brought the money??), but we were willing to pay this becaue so mnay people benefitted. Oh, and one more thing…malpractice lawyers hadn’t been invented yet.

    Some of the most sucessful universal covereage systems (or single poarty payers as they are called) accomplish their goals of coverage in different ways. Rationing of health care is one way, limiting access to, let’s say CT scans or dialysis either by volume or by age. Or taxing the population extremely high so that there is venerable cradle to grave coverage with physician working 40 hour weeks and having a life and a family, Or having a 2 tiered system so that if you can afford your own insurance you can have the care you want when it is needed, not when your number in line comes up.

    The problem with all public options, or govenmrnt funded healthcare (see medicare or public aid) is that they are dependent upon taxation for funding. The Scandanavian system carried a tax rate which is extreme…but they have the best medical documentation around as well as the desired cradle to grave coverage. The malpractice mess we have here doesn’t exist there because the suit is against the government. i.e. the population, whereas here a suit is filed at th drop of a hat, or sought out on the internet, or radio, or TV, or any other media outlet. Changing to a universal health care system is staunchly opposed by the legal community because it mitigates their ability to garner huge settlement or even small settlement with nuisance suits.

    I don’t doubt for a second that a public option is needed, tho, becaue so mant people are unable to obtain the excellent care Scott received if they are unable to pay. However, cutting the waste from these plans could start with 2 items:
    tort reform-the need to stop defensive medicine as well to have data against law suits
    shared costs – the patient being reponsible for a portion of their care after an initial coverage by the government and then a catastrophic coverage after that.

    In the state of Illinois there are no neurosurgeons in the southern half of the state – malpractice premiums are 6 figures plus and for minimal coverage. Cutting medicare reimbursements will eventually force physicians to stop acepting new patients since ot costs more to see the patient than is being received. And will also cause a shift away from the best and the brightest from medicane to another field where how you practice (Law, dentistry, engineer, architecht) will not be dictated by a governmental body (see IRS codes ad nauseum) but by the :art: of that area of expertise.

  3. Derrick said,

    My opinion on Health Care we should have been had this done, it’s coming to were we are going to have to take some matters and reconsider who really is running America no one wants to really face the matter seriously we have people from all over the world in America everyone is getting a piece of the pie but the ones who have been slaves here and consumers here.

    We are pretty much not looking to well in the reality of it.

    we need a change but no more leaders who make promises and rethink the idea and decide to send more troops this is a mess, this is why we are going to need health care because we are at war with a countries and have done so much wrong to them that many of them are our doctors and lawyers whom service us everyday. Most of them own the stores we walk into everyday so were are we going to go when we are eating the food they are preparing for us and going to the doctors and they are in the medical field as well we are doomed!

    All we can accept is health care because we are going to need it now.

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