Bioethics, government medicine

Obama/Kennedy Health Care Reform in the works

(This is a cross post from the Comal County GOP blog. I believe the report is relevant to LifeEthics.org.)


(As you read this, remember that this is the same group who gave us No Child Left Behind and “accidentally” released a nearly-300 page report on the “site, location, facility, and activity” of all the civilian nuclear sites that the Obama Administration plans to report to the International oversite agency, with pretty little tables. That’s the picture above.

And note that no one seemed to blink an eye at the claim that Germany has had government single payer health insurance “since the ’20’s. The President toured one of the medical facilities from the 30’s just before D-day.)

Today, across the US, the Democratic National Committee sponsored small group meetings on Health Care Reform, called “Organizing for America.” See this news report and this one, that shows the Daily Kos group is not happy.

Here in New Braunfels (at the public library, as announced in the News), our host and an “advocate planner” – see this definition here and this usage hereDona Evans, told us that the purpose of the meeting was to support President Obama’s “plan” – she passed out copies of this outline and showed us video from this press conference – or maybe it was the three principles of health care reform.

The meeting was very tightly planned. The paperwork and agenda were available to the hosts before the meeting, on line.

It also appears that our little meeting in New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas was worthy of one man who told us he met with Obama planners on the health care reform last November and December, and another man who said he was trained by Saul Alinski himself in Chicago in the ’60’s. I believe I identified a core of about 7 people who were DNC/OfA plants and who remained behind for over 30 minutes after the meeting broke up.

BTW, as I said at the beginning of the meeting, I’m not an opponent of “reform.” As I said, I believe that every problem we mentioned today is a result of government interference. The President said that we’ve talked about the problem but haven’t had reform for 60 years. I say that we had government interference that increased costs and hurt our chances of meeting the President’s goals. Medicare in the 60’s, HMO’s in the ’70’s, HIPPA, DRG’s, and now, the cover-from-first-penny drug benefit that caused many retirees to lose good private subsidies and leaves them responsible for the whole bill for much of the year.

Although no one at the meeting today seemed aware, Senator Edward Kennedy’s staff released a “draft of a draft” of his Bill, a 177 page piece to be called “America Health Choices Act.” The pdf is here.


Addendum (June 7, at 1:20 PM)
– Actually, our agreement was that we do not believe that this is an emergency, that we do not want Congress to pass any bill before they go home for recess at the end of July, and we do not want to send our Health Care money to Washington or have our Health Care decisions made in Washington, at all. While some mentioned the fear of government (one young man quoted Jefferson), most spoke of experience and the history of Government interference.

Below, find the report that Ms. Evans sent out to all of us who attended the meeting, along with a few more – among them are the names of local docs who I assume is her daughter and son-in-law. (All of our email addresses were visible – I sometimes forget the “blind copy to” function, also, so I won’t copy all the email addresses, here.)

26 people at our event plus an unknown number of protestors outside marching with signs.
0# of calls made at your event
3 service projects planned for Saturday, June 27th, again at 2:00 p.m. in the library: individual volunteers, blood drive and food drive

We had excellent support and publicity from the local newspaper.
An account of our event follows:

WOW! Democracy in action!

First let me express my appreciation to everyone who attended the Organizing for America kickoff meeting Saturday, June 6th, at the New Braunfels library. Also, thank you for the lively discussion and sometimes heated debate. We even appreciate those who showed up to march in protest of our meeting – that’s what free speech is all about.

When I volunteered to host the meeting, it is because I support what President Obama is attempting to do for our country, and because of my background and experience, I know firsthand that the current health care system is broken and needs to be fixed. I am not a Republican or a Democrat, I am an American who is a concerned citizen, mother of four, grandmother of two.

When I signed up to host the kickoff to organize support for President Obama’s plan, I naively thought everyone would want to improve the current system. What’s not to like about “improvement”?

Surprise! Surprise! Some folks are downright passionate about not supporting President Obama’s proposed health care reform. It’s a good thing that I truly believe, “The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.”

It is my job to talk to patients everyday about their medical bills, because I am a medical billing and coding clerk in a busy doctor’s office who services both newborns and seniors, and all those ages in between. And I know, many people who live in the Comal Area cannot afford health care insurance, doctor’s visits, hospital care, and prescription drugs; and those who do have insurance are being impacted by increased premiums, co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles and reduced coverage and benefits. I know that what President Obama says about the current system is true – it needs to be fixed.

We had twenty-six concerned citizens show up to talk about health care reform at the meeting. I don’t how many protesters were outside the library. But, I am told that as we consulted, they marched carrying signs of protest.

About the only thing everyone at the meeting agreed on is that we – those who were present — don’t want an inefficient government health care system that lacks prudent oversight and necessary regulations and ends up costing taxpayers more than it should and delivering substandard services. More than once, the TARP bailout and lack of oversight, lax regulations, and abuse were mentioned.

Despite the fact that not everyone agreed on what should be done, or how it should be done, everyone had constructive and thoughtful comments and most shared their story about how the present health care system has impacted their lives.

The big question is how can we structure change around the three basic principles put forth by President Obama and his Vice President Joe Biden: 1) reduce costs, 2) guarantee choice, and 3) make sure quality health care is affordable and available to all Americans.

But how? That is the big question. I am an optimist; I truly believe that there is a solution for every problem. And I firmly believe that the American people, if informed, can make good decisions. I know that when informed passionate Americans unite around a cause they can make miracles happen.

Interestingly, I discovered, that most of the attendees who oppose President’s Obama’s health care proposal, have never read it. Their opposition seems to be based on one of two things: 1) what they heard on talk radio or network tv; and 2) their general fear of a nationalized health system. (Because everyone has heard that Canada’s system doesn’t work right either.)

Most of those who attended and voiced their opposition were unwilling to actually sit through a reading of the proposed plan – which we offered to do. Based on their reactions, I would say, their mind is made up; don’t confuse them with the facts. It was my hope that they would at least listen/read to what the plan actually contains, rather than what a radical radio talk show host claims it contains. I have listened to some of the radio talk shows and realized that they are more motivated by ratings than telling the truth.

What I got from those who were the most negative about health care reform is their fear. Many attendees agreed they fear governmental bureaucracy. Many are afraid that big government programs would waste money on inefficient administration and would end up providing substandard services. One lady said, “I love my country, but I fear my government.” Another man said he feared a dictatorship. Others just expressed concern that centralized services tend to be inefficient and wasteful.

Some attendees expressed fear of electronic medical records, where ones medical history would be accessible over the internet. Everyone agreed, that safeguards should be built into any national EMR system to ensure privacy. Some noted that an efficient, properly operating EMR system could save the government and private companies millions by eliminating the need for duplicate services, such as MRI’s, X-rays, and labs, being performed each time someone moves to a new locality and sees a new doctor or changes doctors.

Many of those who attended praised the U.S. Military health care service. One lady who was born in Germany touted the many benefits of its program (including dental care), which has successfully operated since the 1920’s, and where co-pays were recently raised to $10. I mentioned my own positive experience with the universal health care system operated in Hawaii. There was a consensus that it would be good to look at the countries and states that successfully insure all their residents and use those as an example on which the U.S. could model a new health care system for Americans.

One gentleman, who is a private contractor with a minority-owned company that bids on government contracts, suggested that insurance contracts be awarded to those companies that can provide the best services for the least amount of money on a regional basis – similar to construction contracts.

Several people shared stories of how their lives and the lives of their family had been negatively impacted as the result of a catastrophic illness or major surgery. They came to the meeting to genuinely see how they can support President Obama so that health care wouldn’t bankrupt families and cause them to have to choose between paying exorbitant doctors and hospitals bills or pay for food and rent.

However, most of the attendees had either had good experiences with U. S Medicare or the U.S. Military or reported they had received excellent services from both.

Almost everyone agreed, that instituting a regional system based on contracts, similar to the present contracted administration of Medicare Jurisdiction 4 system by Trailblazer Health, of which Texas is part of along with Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas and Indian Health, might be a way to avoid an inefficient centralized system.

Many attendees expressed concern over what the future might hold for their children and grandchildren. From a personal standpoint, I am now concerned because my youngest daughter who is the mother of a five year old is going to enter the military, not only because she loves her country and feels passionately about its defense, but also because she will get health care for her daughter as one of the benefits. Despite working for twenty years, she is unable to afford health care insurance through her employer.

Many attendees advocated a “single payer system”. I have to admit, I didn’t know what a single payer system is, so I looked it up. “Single-payer health care is a term used in the United States to describe the payment of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers from a single fund. It is often mentioned as one way to deliver universal health care. The administrator of the fund is usually the government, but may be privately subcontracted similar to Medicare, the existing US system that is nearly a single-payer. Australia’s Medicare, Canada’s Medicare, and healthcare in Taiwan are examples of single-payer universal health care systems.”

Given the overwhelming positive comments about U.S. Medicare and the Military, that might be something to explore further.

One concern that came up more than once was the Medicare donut hole, which I recently experienced first hand. Here’s what Wikipedia says about that subject, The term “donut hole” (or “doughnut hole”) refers to a coverage gap within the defined standard benefit under the Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Under the defined standard benefit package, there is a gap in coverage between the initial coverage limit and the catastrophic coverage threshold. Within this gap, the beneficiary pays 100% of the cost of prescription drugs before catastrophic coverage kicks in. The term “coverage gap” is preferred by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and prescription drug plans, but “donut hole” has been more widely adopted in the popular media.[citation needed]

On a more personal note, one of medications costs over $500 a month. So, when combined with my other medications, I had reached the coverage gap – the donut hole — by May of this year. What that means very simply is, that those who are the most needy medically receive the least amount of help with their medicine.

On another topic, volunteerism, it was suggested and agreed that among other things, American volunteers are what make our nation great.

Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee, urged today’s attenders to return for a National Day of Community Service. Everyone was asked to take part in at least one of the following activities: 1) volunteer at some kind of health-related center, such as a clinic, hospital, or nursing home; 2) organize a blood drive; and/or 3) take part in a food drive, in support of the health care reform initiative.

It was agreed that we will meet again: Saturday, June 27th, at the New Braunfels public library to report in individual acts of volunteering in health-related centers. One opponent of healthcare reform suggested, involvement in Options for Women, the Pregnancy Assistance Center, or participation in the Texas Alliance for Life Walk in Seguin, June 20th.

Organizing for America will hold both a blood drive and food drive to be held at the New Braunfels library on June 27th, the National Day of Community Service, at 2:00 pm. Folks are urged to donate blood at that time, and to bring nutritious foods such as canned fruits and vegetables, juices, rice, beans, powdered milk, baby food, and diapers as a way of showing the group’s interest in and concern for the health of the local community.

During the coming weeks, everyone who supports President Obama’s health care reform plan is urged to share their personal story with their friends, neighbors, and coworkers as a way of increasing awareness and garnering support for change. That is what got President Obama elected, the promise of change. The status quo is not acceptable. The group unanimously recommends careful well thought out

If you haven’t read the plan put forth by President Obama and Vice President Biden, then please go to: http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/issues/HealthCareFullPlan.pdf download the entire nine page document, read it, and then decide for yourself. What do agree with? What do you disagree with? Would you like to hold an event that is expressly for debating the issues? We have well-informed advocates that are willing to do just that – advocate for President Obama’s proposed plan by going over the plan point by point to see where/if we can come to an agreement.

I have to confess, I am an Advocate Planner. I believe that the clash of differing opinions is not only healthy, it is imperative to generate the spark of truth. If you would like to attend the next meeting, or perhaps meet with members of OFA to discuss the merits of President Obama’s proposed plan for health care reform and support this initiative, please let me know: (email and phone at the link, above. BBN).

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)

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