In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Do you like Big or Little government?

This is the question that most affects how I look at the new health care reform bill.

Yesterday I read that the 16,000 member Christian Medical Association came out with a statement that the 2,000 page healthcare overhaul bill (HR 3962) introduced in the House of Representatives last week far exceeds the need for targeted reforms. Dr. David Stevens, CEO of this association stated that “With this massive legislation, we are getting much more than is actually needed to fix our health care system,” . Basically the group feels that HR 3962 is an “overdose” in reform that injects massive government intervention in the system.

There are certainly lots of problems in healthcare, and I do not think there are any simple solutions out there. But I've never seen more government (which always translates into more bureaucracy) make anything better.

What about you, do you think the solution is to overhaul the healthcare system to have more government intervention? What do you think are the important issues in the healthcare reform debate?

16 comments:

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey Tracy, thanks for commenting on my blog!

To answer your question, I just wrote about this Monday! Can you tell I'm a bit of a 'less is more' kind of guy when it comes to government intervention? :)

RCUBEs said...

To know that it has 2,000 pages is already scary because who will have the patience to read all those pages carefully? That's when we'll be vulnerable to not understand some as the readers start to get tired...I don't know but I'm not supportive of the liberals from the get go.

Tracy said...

Matt - I did get the idea that you think less government intervention is better.

A lot of us are thinking about healthcare right now since our president has proposed this plan. I found the fact that the CMA (Christian Medical Association) felt the same way that I do about too much government intervention of interest.

Laughed when I read what you wrote Rcube since anything to do with health insurance is always massive (although of course not that long) and overwhelming.

photogr said...

Tracy. From what I hear and read, Medicare benefits will be cut and reduced to put more funds into Medicaid even though Medicare enrollees will pay higher premiums. You know what that means? The plan will offer free medical service to illegal immigrants at the expense of lost benefits to Medicare enrollees who have paid into the plans for years.

I fail to see the parity in this socialized medicine plan. Although the liberals say one thing, the facts says another and it means what all the right wingers are saying is true to a point.

We need less government intervention but neither party has a clue of what is needed. All they will do is destroy quality health care for Americans.

GCT said...

I'm a liberal...very liberal, and I see a need for better health care in this country. Yes, we should offer universal health care. Virtually all European countries do so, and they are doing quite well (and, yes, I'm aware of the false reports that are used to scare Americans into thinking that their health care is a mess).

I think it's shameful that in the richest country in the world we have people who have to pray every night that they don't get sick because they won't be able to afford it and they have no medical coverage. I think it's shameful that we have a system set up where the health insurance companies are incentivized not to help people (every time they pay out, it hurts profits). I think it's shameful that people have to wait for hours in the emergency room because there are tons of people in front of them who have to go there for small stuff since they can't afford to go to the regular doctor - and yes, this is part of the reason why emergency room visits take so long.

Look, we all pay for the health care of everyone already, one way or the other. Because of the cost of the uninsured, the insured pay higher premiums, higher taxes, etc. Our cost of health care is well above most other nations, and the level of health care is ranked lower than most of those other nations. This spiralling cost to obtain health insurance is pricing more and more people out of the chance of actually obtaining health care, increasing the ranks of the uninsured and increasing the strain on the rest of us.

RCUBE,
The reason that the bill is 2000 pages long is twofold. First, the bill is comprehensive, so once you put in all the legalese, it's going to be long. Second, on top of that, the way our system works engenders long, complicated bills because congresspeople look to see what they can get out of it for their constituents and look to add riders. It's not anything to do with liberals, it's to do with how our system is instituted (in fact, there's a higher chance for conservatives to add riders during a liberal administration in order to be swayed to vote for the opposing party's bills). And, this isn't about the size of the government (which BTW, increases under both Rep. and Dem. leadership) but how those in government operate.

Tracy said...

Photogr - From everything I've read I come up with the same concern about Medicare premiums increasing for the elderly while the services decrease -that is one of my huge concerns.

GCT - I adore your heart of concern for those who don't have coverage and agree with your observation that big government is produced on both sides of the isle.

You make really valid points about the travesty of health insurance companies being incentivized not to help people, that the spiraling costs of health insurance are resulting in more people becoming uninsured, long emergency room waits because people are there for things that should be handled in office visits, people suffering without access to healthcare - these are big issues. I believe that the healthcare reform bill we're now discussing all over on blogs, newsites, etc was produced because of these very concerns.

But I do not see it solving all these problems and I see it creating more.


From what I've read, and the few friends (who admittedly I can count on one hand) I have in Europe, tell a different story than what you're saying about it working well. I hear that taxes are so high that no one is incentivized to go out on a limb and make money since you lose so much anyway and that the healthcare itself is not competitive and not of the highest quality.

I have worked closely with government agencies for years, and I've repeatedly observed ineffective bureaucratic red tape, a slow pace, and difficult systems to navigate. If you in any way doubt this analysis - spend a day at the DMV, or work with someone to obtain social security disability benefits, or deal at length with the CA dept of public health, explore the world of AFDC benefits - they're a mess!! Healthcare is riddled with enough problems now - I do not see the government taking over and fixing it. I have a deep held belief that competitive, business is way more effective than big government.

I also want to add that I've observed that everyone, be it big business or government, has to care about costs - sometimes that has ended up for me with me being parts of discussions where I can not get someone something that they NEED that is not cost effective. I think it is incredibly naive to think that when government takes over it will somehow stop those discussions that take place behind closed doors that end up with services being denied due to fiscal reasons. I've worked for years in the healthcare industry managing facilities and dealing with both private health insurance companies and government agencies - everyone considers money, it's unavoidable.

photogr said...

Tracy:

Might I also add a few other opinions.

On people with out medical coverage.

Two years ago, we had no medical insurance because my employer failed to provide group coverage and we could not get private insurance due to age, pre existing condition, and health issues.

I had to have prostate surgery and it couldn't wait till I was able to go on medicare coverage. I had the surgery any way. No hospital funded by the state or Federal Gov. cannot deny any needed procedure. This means yo do not have to have insurance but you have to apply for assistance.

This is where I was able to get the charges dropped to what the insured persons insurance normally pays for these services which as you might know is quite a bit lower over what an uninsured person would pay had they not applied. This is an area that most seem to get gouged if the have no insurance which is wrong.

I was able to have the best service with top quality Doctors and accomodations during my issues. After a bit of price haggling, I was able to pay the same amount an insured person's insurance would pay.

The hospitals and doctors agreed to a repayment plan that would fit into my budget comfortably.

This episode does shoot holes into the theory the uninsured cannot get hospital services or Doctor services at the same rate the insured enjoy. If your income is low enough, many can get free health care.

The problem with the current health care plan is it does not address the price gouging by the health care industry nor does it address the inflated rates now charged by the insurance industry. The other factor is the ambulance chasing lawyers who seem to get rich in filing frivilous law suits totaling millions of dollars on a malpractice claim. There has to be a price limit on this.

There in lies the current problem that Washington seems to fail to understand. Their plan only offers more waste and less coverage which in some cases no coverage at all depending on your age.

JD Curtis said...

Giving money and power to Government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

PJ O'Rourke

JD Curtis said...

Insofar as healthcare, why can't we have malpractice reform coupled with an emphasis on Health Savings Accounts?

Because Obama would sooner throw his dead, typical white person grandmother under the bus than the trial lawyers.

Tracy said...

Gee JD, you're so politically correct that I can never figure out what you really think!

I'm glad you made those 2 important points photogr about price gouging by the health care industry & "frivolous law suits totaling millions of dollars on a malpractice claim"

Simon said...

As a Briton who has grown up with free universal healthcare I feel for those Americans who are dis- enfranchised purely because they are poor.It's bad enough being sick,but to have the added burden of financial worry seems to me heartless in a Christian Society.

JD Curtis said...

I feel for those Americans who are dis- enfranchised purely because they are poor.It's bad enough being sick,but to have the added burden of financial worry seems to me heartless in a Christian Society.

Simon, hospitals are required to treat patients here. Nobody is turned away. There are government programs and charitable organizations to help the poor. But yes, often times the hospital unfairly gets stuck with the bill.

I wouldnt trade our system for yours in any way. Cancer survivor rates in the US are much higher than over there among other factors.

Tony C said...

Our forefathers never intended for the federal government to be as big and intrusive as it has become...

'When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.' Thomas Jefferson

Which do we resemble today?

GCT said...

I had a post that got swallowed by network problems. I'll try to summarize:

Apart from the warnings about Medicare and the misgivings about government in general, are there any substantive arguments against this health care bill that deal with the specifics? Also, I find it interesting that supposedly Medicare will suffer, but the AARP backs the health bill.

Photogr,
You were rather lucky that things turned out as they did, as many others are not so lucky.

Tracy,
Yes, government can be wasteful, but private companies will always be motivated by profit, while the government is not. I know of no other entities that can solve our issues in terms of scale and getting disincentivizing of not paying for treatment out of the equation.

JD,
Hospitals are required to treat patients, but that's not how it works in reality. Also, the hospital doesn't always get stuck with the bill, especially since the cost essentially gets transferred to us who are insured. Either we pay for the uninsured in a wasteful way, or we set up a system where we can get people the help and preventive care they need.

Tony C,
I suppose then that you are for abolishing the military?

Tracy said...

GTC - I read that you think that government is not motivated by money; and it's not, in the same way. But when it comes down to patient care and cost issues, I have repeatedly seen government agencies be absolutely as motivated to save money as private insurance. Everyone is trying to save money and make themselves a hero with their boss.

I do however, find your thoughts that we are paying for these uninsured folks anyway (since we do not deny healthcare in America) an interesting one. I would love to see some type of program where these types of services (medical care for the uninsured) are bid out to private companies to manage since I believe that competition tends to breed the best.

GCT said...

Tracy,
"But when it comes down to patient care and cost issues, I have repeatedly seen government agencies be absolutely as motivated to save money as private insurance. Everyone is trying to save money and make themselves a hero with their boss."

Because we've gotten into the trap of trying to run the government like a business. No, we don't want to waste money. But, similarly, we do want to set up a system that makes sense, even when it seems to cost more in the short run (because it'll usually end up costing less in the long run). Still, it's less likely that we'll see the same type of loophole coverage denials that we see now.

"I do however, find your thoughts that we are paying for these uninsured folks anyway (since we do not deny healthcare in America) an interesting one. I would love to see some type of program where these types of services (medical care for the uninsured) are bid out to private companies to manage since I believe that competition tends to breed the best."

No one wants to take that on, because the people who can't afford insurance also can't afford the treatment. There's no money to be made in treating people who can't pay you. This is why no one wants to do it and why we need an entity that is not driven by profits to pick up the slack.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin