Friday, August 21, 2009

Take Me Down to the Market

Posted by BigDog

Ironically, I would never have read the article by John Mackey about health care in the WSJ if it were not for the liberal outrage and boycott of Whole Foods. For the record, leftists are free to boycott Whole Foods, just as Mackey is entitled to his opinion. I don't shop at Whole Foods although I am told their steaks are really good.

Mackey's list of reforms is similar in some ways to mine in a previous post. Portability, being able to purchase across state lines, tort reform. He has a couple ideas that I am adding to my own list: Repealing gov't mandates on what is covered and voluntary tax deductable donations to help those who can't afford coveage.

What really strikes me is this one:

"Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair."
I was very impressed when I read this because Mackey makes it clear that Whole Foods has a good medical plan itself. Such a plan is a competitive advantage and by advocating equalizing tax laws, he is nullifying his own advantage for the sake of principle and fairness.


via Freedom's lighthouse:

Here is video of a confrontation between LaRaza members and anti-ObamaCare protesters outside Democrat Rep. Gene Green's Town Hall Meeting in the Houston, Texas area on August 18, 2009.

The video shows some of the Town Hall Meeting inside in the first couple of minutes, but then moves outside where a young LaRaza member wrapped in what appears to be a Mexican flag begins swearing at anti-ObamaCare protesters. It eventually escalates to where he begins pushing and shoving at them and is arrested by the police and carried away.

This is completely horrifying to me on about 10 different levels.

First and foremost, I don't believe that those men represent the feelings of the Hispanic community in Houston. They clearly care more about their home country, Mexico, than they do America. I don't believe most Hispanics feel that way.

Secondly I am appalled at the lack of manners and simple decent human behavior. We can disagree without nasty slurs and nasty language.

Third, no one wins in arguments like these. Does the anti illegal immigration protesters imagine that this will endear them to the LEGAL immigrants in this country? We need to think about HOW we say things and the manner in which we protest. That's what I don't like about much of the anti illegal immigrant rhetoric. It's usually done in such a way that alienates the entire Hispanic community, and that is just foolish. We need to be reaching out to the Hispanic community, not alienating them in any way.

Our stance against illegal immigration should focus on how it hurts the LEGAL Hispanic community, and how it takes jobs away from them, while forcing illegals from Mexico to live a life of fear. We should focus on the fact that millions of illegal Hispanic immigrants are used and abused by employers. We should focus on how much illegals suffer here. It is best for EVERYONE to have a better, safe, legal way for immigrants to come here. Personally and among other things, I'm for a guest worker program much like Canada has. Immigrants can come here to work temporarily, they aren't taken advantage of, and everyone wins.

In the video above, no one wins.

Extreme positions have gotten us NO WHERE. It's time to address this issue in a more responsible way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

While we are on the subject....

Posted by BigDog

What can be done to improve the lives and longevity of all Americans? For the most part, I think the solutions involve LESS gov't involvement and interference in our lives. Lets make a list...

Irradiate food. Irradiating food would significantly reduce food poisoning. While some ignorant people oppose irradiation for superstitious reasons, there is no rational reason to not allow more of it. Food borne illnesses cause 76 million illnesses a year, with 325,000 people seeking medical treatment and 5000 people die. Those numbers would plummet if we irradiated most or all of our food.

Omaha Steaks (yum!) irradiates their food. Good stuff.

Get rid of CAFE standards. CAFE standards mandate that car companies have an average fuel consumption set and determined by the gov't. This means smaller, less safe cars. Thousands of Americans have died because of CAFE. Shouldn't individuals choose their own level of risk vs fuel economy instead of having it imposed on them?

Speed up drug approval. The FDA is a necessary agency, but even they admit that if aspirin were invented now, they wouldn't approve it. The drug approval process is excessively cumbersome, expensive and takes far too long. People die waiting for drugs that could have saved them.

What other sensible steps that don't involve creating new government agencies do you suggest?

How to actually improve Health Care in the US

Posted by BigDog

Largely, the US medical system is second to none in terms of service, responsiveness, ease of access, and advanced medical technique. There are some issues particularly in very rural areas that lack enough doctors. However, the main problem is cost - rising costs, who pays for it and how.

So what do we do about it?

1 - Tort reform. Two factors are in play here. First is the cost of 'defensive medicine' - the practice of ordering a lot of expensive tests and treatments just to avoid any possible lawsuit. This adds up to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Second the cost of outrageous lawsuit awards directly drives up medical costs by making liability insurance expensive - not to mention opportunity costs associated with the suits themselves. We all pay because some lawyer got rich.

The example to follow here is... Texas! Texas capped non-economic damages and put a time limit on when one could file suit. The results are spectacular! Not only has liability insurance dropped by double digits, but the result is that more doctors are moving to Texas and into underserved rural areas.

This is a great example of consequence. The consequences of unjust tort law doesn't just effect lawyers and insurance companies, there is a chain reaction of poorer services, higher costs and inconvenience for everyone. We all suffer so guys like John Edwards can get rich.

2 - Allow insurance policies to be accessed and sold across state lines. This means that someone in New Jersey can buy a policy in Pennsylvania or elsewhere subject to the oversight of the state in which it is sold. This reform would simplify and modernize our insurance markets. If another state has a better insurance policy, why shouldn't you be able to buy it?

Each of these reforms would save the American people hundreds of billions of dollars a year and would cost nothing to implement.

Other useful reforms that don't cost much if anything:

Make insurance policies personal property. This goes along with insurance policy portability. The insurance policy is owned by the individual who takes it with him/her when he moves or changes jobs.

Freeing up occupational licensing. There are a lot of petty rules which govern who can do what with a medical license. While some regulation is needed, the rules are increasingly byzantine. Many simple procedures can be done by nurses, nurse-practitioners and other medical professionals without bringing in more expensive professionals.

Make medical providers to post their prices. Every other business has open, transparent pricing. When you walk into a restaurant there is a menu. Prices of groceries is on the shelf or on the item. Auto mechanics give you an estimate before they start work. My veterinary surgeon gave me a high and low end cost estimate BEFORE she did surgery on my dog - and she signed it. But if you go to a hospital, they hand you a bill afterward. This is wrong. They don't want you to know that they charge one thing to one person and another to the next. In part this is because Medicare and insurance companies won't pay the full amount - in medicare's case only a fraction. Up front pricing would help, allowing consumers to compare prices for services.

Get rid of the Medicare, Medicaid and VA bureaucracies, instead simply buy a private policy for those groups. I have mentioned this in a previous thread. The idea is that instead of a gov't run 'insurance' system, the gov't simply takes the money it spends and buys a private insurance policy for people over 65 or the poor. End of gov't involvement. It would be better to give them a voucher to go buy their own policy or even pay for the one they had when they were working, see above. In the case of VA hospitals, instead of running hospitals, the gov't would buy their former servicemen a policy or give them a voucher for same. Note that I am NOT saying 'get rid of medicare, which of course would be the first claim by critics.

Sarbanes-Oxley is killing so many businesses including insurance and medical services companies. Getting rid of Sarbanes Oxley would have a general effect in improving the business climate, which in turn would help the health care industry.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ObamaCare, the NHS and Socialism, oh my!

Posted by BigDog

Britain Dragged into ObamaCare Fight: NHS Under Fire

There’s a great deal of misinformation on both sides of the Atlantic. Anyone watching the TV news in Britain would think that opposition to ObamaCare was limited to a few swastika-waving crazies, led by Sarah Palin and funded by sinister “special interests.” There is little mention of “Blue Dog” Democrats, tort reform, Obama’s deal with the drug companies, or the fact that most Americans are happy with their health care. And the figure of “47 million uninsured” is trotted out daily, when the actual number of U.S. citizens who are long-term uninsured and who are genuinely unable to get coverage is probably closer to eight million.
That last really needs to made clear to more people. Its one of those facts that makes clear who in the debate are deceptive or ignorant. That is a lot of people, come to think of it.
The simple fact is that while neither system is as terrible as their detractors claim, both have undeniable flaws. And while we can trade facts, figures, and anecdotes all day, a couple of things are clear. The first is that the poor enjoy a generally better standard of care in the UK than in the U.S. The second is that Americans with decent insurance enjoy a better standard of care than most Brits — survival rates for all the major cancers are considerably better than in the UK, and screening and treatment for heart disease and other chronic conditions is more widely available.
Well, that is diplomatic.

Most of my information on the British medical system comes from British sources. To be fair, its hard to judge things from afar, but I am certain I don't want anything to do with either the Canadian or British or for that matter Japanese, European, or any other system. The problem in the US is not the medical care itself, but the methods we use to pay for it all.

Aside note: I have heard Daniel Hannan speak on a few occasions. He is articulate, well-informed and incisive. If only we had men of his caliber in the US congress. Its amusing that he would be on vacation - that is 'on holiday' for our British friends - when this 'row' kicked up.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tens of thousands quit AARP

The wisdom of the elderly:

"CBS News has learned that up to 60,000 people have cancelled their AARP membership since July 1 angered over the group's position on health care. ... Many are switching to the American Seniors Association, a group that calls itself the conservative alternative."

....former AARP member Elaine Guardani voicing her suspicions: "I feel that they’re supporting it through the back door and telling their members that they’re not through the front door."


Get this. THIS is how AARP reacts: "AARP says for a group with 40 million members that adds hundreds of thousands each month, losing 60 thousand is just a drop in the bucket."

I say we show them a flood in the bucket. Please pass this on and encourage any and all seniors you know to cancel their AARP membership and join the American Seniors Association.

Eating Their Own

Th Progressive Change Campaign is running this ad in Washington D.C. and Nebraska for the health care reform bill.

Why is this interesting?

The Senator they attack in this ad, Sen. Nelson, is a DEMOCRAT.

Eating their own. It's fun to watch.

Robert Novak R.I.P.

Robert Novak, nationally syndicated conservative columnist for 45 years, died today after a battle with cancer. Melissa and I were lucky enough to meet him and John Fund of the WSJ, last year at a blogger's conference (he was obviously thrilled to meet us...;-). Seriously, he was very nice and it was a thrill for me to meet him. More about him here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Power of Symbols

Bill Whittle is at his best explaining in concise terms the power and danger of iconography.

Posted by BigDog


Blogging will probably be light for me this week (BigDog may still post though) because my baby girl is coming home tomorrow from interning in D.C.! My wonderful mother and father in law are coming for the week as well, and then we are moving her back to college. I will be busy, but I'll try to post!

Palin Power

You gotta love how so many pundits tried to write off Palin for resigning as Governor. How could she possible be any influence with out the Governorship? The left keeps trying to dismiss her as a lightweight (of course that is the polite of putting it, and they are never polite), but who is the one who single-handedly, and with a facebook note at that, got everyone to calling the end of life counseling sessions in the health care bill, "death panels."

What happened then? Soon after the left hysterically wailed that there were no "death panels" in the bill, The Senate committee dropped the end-of-life provision from bill. Michael Steele didn't get them to do that. Rush Limbaugh didn't get them to do that. Even our own maverick, John McCain had no influence there. It was our own....Barracuda. She didn't need pundits. She didn't need a campaign. She didn't even need a political position. She just needed the passion to speak the truth. In Palin's resignation speech she said "My choice is to take a stand and effect change." And that is exactly what she is doing, and she obviously doesn't need a Governorship or a Senate seat to do it.

Just a facebook page.

You just have to love that.

If the provision didn't really call for so called, "death panels," then why drop them from the bill? If they were so innocent, why not fight for them to stay in there?

The truth is that is exactly what it was, despite being "de-bunked" by so called news organizations.

Many of you have already read about Obama's own look at his grandmother's situation where he wonders if it is wise to give hip replacements to someone who is terminally ill. This is where Obama points out that "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health- care bill out here.”

So, to reduce costs we must stop paying for pesky hip replacements when one is old and/or ill. How to do that? First make it "voluntary", then pay Doctors to "nudge" the elderly into the "right" decisions. Soon they will see it's better to just hobble on over to the local hospice and save us all a bunch of money.

Which I'm sure sounds fine to any liberal out there.....until it's his mother. Then those "consultants and experts" that decide that the pacemaker is too expensive for an 85 yr old that doesn't really have that many more years anyway, will seem a bit like...oh, what's the words I'm looking for....oh yes...."death panels."

Just admit the mistake and move on....

Instead the White House is just hoping no one notices:

Almost two weeks after the White House launched its Snitch Central in order to get reports on political dissent over ObamaCare, it appears that the Obama administration and its chief propagandist have quietly thrown in the towel. Matt Drudge reported this morning that all e-mails to have begun bouncing back as undeliverable.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Don't Believe It

Posted by BigDog

"ObamaCare" has apparently suffered two setbacks. First was the - promised - removal of the 'end of life provisions from the Senate version, the so-called Death Panels. The White House is now 'signaling' that that the "Public Option" - the imposition of government run insurance that lays the foundation of 'single payer' - is 'not essential'.

Don't believe it.

These are tactical withdrawals. There are bills in both the House and Senate, removing a provision from one doesn't mean removing it from the other. In addition, they can always put it back in quietly or just call it something else.

The people pressing these proposals which amount to government control of our medical system are radical ideologues who are the latest in a long line of leftists who have been pressing for government control of medical care for more than a century. Obama is fundamentally dishonest, and he and his people are schooled in the arts of deception and misdirection.