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Frist and Dean on Health Care
Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, left, and former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, right. Both are doctors. Both have strong views on health care reform. (Photos: AP)

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, left, and former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, right. Both are doctors. Both have strong views on health care reform. (Photos: AP)

Republican Bill Frist, former Senate majority leader, is a heart surgeon, lung surgeon, and heir to the biggest hospital company in the world.

On Friday, Bill Frist said what not a single Republican now sitting in Congress has said — that he would vote for emerging health care reform.

Today we’ll ask him why.

Democrat and doctor Howard Dean is an internist and champion of the “public option” missing from the latest Senate bill. We’ll ask where his support goes now.

This hour, On Point: Bill Frist, Howard Dean, and the showdown ahead on health care reform.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Julie Rovner, health policy correspondent for NPR.

Bill Frist, former Republican Senate majority leader from Tennessee, served for 12 years in the U.S. Senate. A renowned surgeon, he practiced medicine for twenty years. His new book is “A Heart to Serve: The Passion to Bring Health, Hope, and Healing.”

Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and 2004 presidential candidate. He is also a medical doctor and a prominent voice in the health care debate. His most recent book is “Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform.”

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  • Cory

    A conservative take on improving health care… This’ll be rich. (no pun intended)

    Give’m hell Howard Dean! Yeeaaaahhhh!

  • Lilya Lopekha

    If I were a Doctor (meaning helping people) and also were a Republican (in this day and age)….

    … I would either denounce my Party or would commit suicide. If Frist has not done any of these two, there is something with his integrity.

    If WBUR is asking him to be the anchor host, then there is something wrong with WBUR.

    These people are just talk and on the wrong side of the issues. Why do we constantly and continiously and relentlessly, day after day, give airtime and legitimacy to these corrupt clowns who are doing what the interest jerk groups feeds them.

  • JP

    Frist was one of the worst of the worst from the “Republican Devolution.”

    What the hell is WBUR thinking?!!
    They might as well invite Tom Delay on next for more “informed” discussion.

    Didn’t this idiot do enough to harm health care in this country during the last attempt at reform under Clinton?

    Come on WBUR! How about some real Health Care experts who are non-partisan and can present a few facts?

    Americans need to be educated, not further brain-washed and/or confused by mis-information and more partisan “point/counter-point” pointlessness.

    Give America a break, for Pete’s sake!

  • Cory

    Although neither is desirable, I prefer seeing Republicans on “Dancing with the Stars” over hearing their “ideas” on health care reform. I’m sure it will include Tort reform, charity, the free market, and something about boot strap pulling. Stay tuned!

  • Alex

    I’ve heard Frist speak on the XM Radio on this topic. Why is he doing these rounds, all of a sudden? Is he about to publish a book of his memoirs, or something?

    Incidentally, I wonder how much of his family’s fortune came from payments from Medicare and other government funds? Also, whatever happened to that insider trading investigation?

  • Brett

    People should just keep a savings account for when they get sick. Maybe some freeloaders think that insurance companies should pay their bills for them, especially if they have chronic illnesses. And maybe if we took some responsibility for our health and didn’t get sick we wouldn’t be spending money we don’t have on doctor bills! Hey, if you get cancer and can’t pay your medical bills, it’s not anybody’s fault but your own that you didn’t plan properly. Get your neighbors, churches and local girl scout troop to have bake sales and car washes to raise money for your cause if you need to, but my tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on you! That’s what neighbors, churches and girl scout troops are for, anyway!

    And what’s up with people suing doctors and hospitals just because they got the wrong leg amputated? Mistakes happen! Are you perfect at your job? Is that worth tens of thousands of dollars?

    I don’t want to be forced to pay for health insurance; it’s bad enough I have to pay for schools that other people’s kids go to! I don’t have kids going to school, why should I pay for their schools? And if I can’t pay for health insurance, is it right to send me to prison for the rest of my life? Maybe I should just rob a bank, then I can go to prison and my health care will be free! I don’t have to wait for the government to come and put me away!

    And finally, doesn’t Congress have other things to do than talk about health care? Don’t we have countries to invade? How are we going to have enough money to protect our freedom if we are spending it on health care? Being healthy won’t matter very much when al-Qaeda comes, boots you out of your house and herds you down a hole!

  • Felipe

    OnPoint …..

    Day after day, you are inviting THE WRONG GUESTS.

    These *^%&#$%^$#@ know one thing: Money, money, money.
    Please cancel Fritz, say…. the show is canceled for good due to lack of members revolt.

    He wouldn’t know the difference. He never listens to NPR anyway.

    Invite Architect Richard Gage instead. He is going to Boston on Friday and he will be staying there until Monday night.

  • Christopher M.

    The above comments suggest to me that people want to be preached to, not challenged (factually or philosophically). That’s too bad given the large number of ‘liberal’ guests Tom invites on the show. On another note, it will be interesting to hear which one of Frist’s orientations prevails – his doctoral oath or his republican one. Same with Dean.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I heard Baucus say his job was to produce a bill that could get 60 votes. I say forget the political advantage of the 60, and go for 50 senate votes, whatever the procedure is, and go for a real solution.
    The problem, Brett, with using a savings account and going uninsured, is that insurers fleece the uninsured, charging rates that are way above those negotiated for those insured (especially those in large groups). This way they create a of medical/financial roadkill along the way, but also profits.
    I remember in the mid-’90s, when my insurer started to boast that they would pay for reconstructive breast surgery. I thought that was the turning point. Whether Massachusetts had legislated that they must cover that I don’t know, but to me, they crossed the line.
    Now, the seniors are talking about losing the dental and vision care in Medicare Advantage, maybe hearing aids too.
    I guess rather than going after insurance company overhead/manpower/profits, the bills in Congress are starting by chipping away at senior benefits (but boosting prescription coverage). I guess seniors are going to have to find other gap insurance for those extras. It could be worse.
    Personally, I couldn’t care less if a “robust” public option drove the insurers into an entirely new (reduced) model. And I think the legal issues around costly new care options (driving doctors away from old cheap options) have to be squared/confronted in the public arena at some point.

  • http://rossfalzone.com ross falzone

    I think it should be noted. That Dr Frist’s Family buisness HCA, pleaded no contest and paid a 900 million dollar judgment after the F.B.I raided the H.C.A office.
    The charge was defrauding medicare and extorting Doctors.
    His Dad is the founder his brother the CEO and the family the largest stock holders of H.C.A
    Those are the facts.
    Sujectivly a case could be made that his wealth and rise to power was through the fleecing of the the health care system.

    At the very least it should be noted that as Senate Majority leader, he never challanged the exceutive branch Thought it was a good idea no intervien on the Terri Schivo case and helped stiffle stem cell reshearch

    What has he done that counters the position that he is a HMO front man. I am interested in hearing that argument

  • Alex

    “which one of Frist’s orientations prevails – his doctoral oath or his republican one.”

    Or, considering that most of his fortune comes from the Hospital Corporation of America, perhaps his healthcare investor’s side will prevail? Or maybe there is a chance he will remember that HCA had to pay back $1.7 billion in criminal restitution for Medicare fraud? Sounds like he directly benefited from government “socialist” programs. Then, I would expect, his socialist colors would show.

  • MIchael

    haha Brett most likely nailed Senator Frist comments on the show. Brett forgot to add less regulations for the insurance companies by states so there can find the state (like credit cards) with the least about of regulations and move all there bussiness there(race to the bottom that is ).

    NPR had a show (to bad onpoint didn’t) on why people are debating on taking the fine and going without the health insurance because of the cost or having insurance and not being able to use what your paying for.

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113340361

    I always hear from the people pushing mandatory insurance coverage that everyone needs to pay there fair share but what i often don’t here is the people who have insurance and can’t use it and why they should keep it and keep paying. Mass doctors, politicians touts it all the time yet when people call them on the cost and not being able to receive care they are paying for they dismiss them and go on and on about how great it is 97 percent covered.

    Can you ask your guess what happens if i move to a different state when the mandatory law comes in place do i still get fined while i’m looking for a job? what if someone can’t pay the fines do there go to jail? loss there house? garishness wages? since the money will be owed to the IRS instead of insurance companies. Or why can there not be in the bill a guarantee that insurance companies allow without co-pays so many doctors visits for people to keep healthy? or at the end of the end the insurance companies say give you back 1 percent of the total cost you paid?

    If your from Mass beware the governors race. The republican running is Charlie Baker a head of one of the insurance companies gauging the public and touts the ability to make record profits for this company.

    If there is no cost curving along with profit curving, or more biting regulations maybe something i heard requiring them to pay 85 cents to the dollar in care (still giving them 69 billion in profit instead of 400 plus billions)then the insurance companies are going to make even more money, and i’m pretty sure wall street will get in on this and profit greatly as well most likely creating a bubble in the insurance market evidently requiring it to get bailed out.

  • Bob

    Ask Bill, the evangelical multi-millionaire, this question.

    What do you plan on saying at your judgment day when asked about all the riches you have received from a service that people can’t go without (a guaranteed cash flow for your business) while there are people lining up outside of animal stalls waiting for free health care because they can’t afford your private health care?

    And what about this?

    Bill said this:
    “Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a “persistent vegetative state.”

    The truth is this:
    A subsequent autopsy after Ms. Schiavo’s death showed long-term and irreversible brain damage that laid to rest any argument that Ms. Schiavo had retained any higher brain function. The autopsy also showed Terri Schiavo to have been blind. Subsequently the senator backpedaled, even going so far as to say “I never said ‘She responded.’”

    Too bad Wendell Potter isn’t on this show with Bill.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Someone might want to research what part the son of Ted Kennedy plays in health insurance. I heard an interview — it sounded like maybe I didn’t want to know!
    Ways to insurers could save. Don’t offer free gym memberships. People can do yoga, buy bikes, do isometrics, work standing up, all sorts of things. I don’t want my premiums to go to that. As to breast implants, use Kleenex inside a bra, or foam. Modern gizmos do also help bring down costs. Ultrasound toothbrushes come to mind, which remove plaque. Let’s put our minds together. We could tax sugary and fatty and salty foods, get them off school menus.

  • Ellen DIbble

    Here is another insurance excess. I quote the October 2009 AARP Bulletin, last page, “The 50 Most Prescribed Drugs.”
    number 7. Lipitor. 49 million prescriptions, $5.88 billion dollars (source SDI/Ve rispan.vdna, it says.)
    That’s a figure for 2008. The next highest cost is Nexium for ulcers and reflux, 4.79 billion.
    People I know who take Lipitor use it to enable the continuance of their potato chip and chocolate habits. I believe reflux is controllable by diet too.
    I would feel better that doctors use good discretion except that obviously someone is making huge profits — “someone” where my premiums (and someday my taxes) are subsidizing their chocolate habit, at huge cost.

  • Reginald Green

    I find the Republican approach to healthcare darwinian; It’s very much a case of survival of the fittest and/or the richest. Eric Cantor, the Whip in the House, made the comment that if you can’t afford healthcare, you should seek charity. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough charity to cover 47 million people. Does Mr Frist rebuke Mr Cantor’s comments?

  • word2thewyz

    As a card-carrying Democrat, I am embarrassed by some of the comments on this page. We bellow about how we want people to agree with us, and then when they do, we beat them up or offer constructive alternatives such as “denounce his party or commit suicide.” If we only want to hear from people who agree with us on every single issue, we’re no better than the Bushites.

  • david taft

    Why is it that no matter who’s in office we can’t drop the excessive and unnecessary crop subsidies. If we did away with food subsidies we’d have a less obese society which would reduce healthcare costs and free up billions every year which could be applied towards health care.

  • Todd

    The sad state of health care—or “sick care” to be more accurate—is just one symptom of a deeper disease which ails America. Any health care reform enacted will surely fail, as long as the profiteers of corporate-controlled government are calling the shots.

  • Alec

    Could a plan like Vermont”s Catamount health where your health insurance premium is linked to you income level, work at the national level? Alec in Vermont

  • Will

    It drives me crazy when opponents of reform talk about rationing in a government run system. Wake up! We have rationing today. The people who can afford care get it. The people who can’t afford care don’t get it. That’s rationing. For those with insurance, the insurance company does the rationing. Health care is a limited resource. No matter what sort of system you have, there is going to be some degree of rationing.

  • Putney Swope

    Brett, a family of four would need to have at least 500k in that savings account if I am to understand your comments fully. For instance a compound fracture of the femur could set you back anywhere from several thousand dollars 30k depending on the kind of break.

    Cancer can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    The real issue for me is what is good for the public at large. The common good as they say.

    As for the Republicans, well their record speaks for themselves. It’s lousy.

  • Professor Linda Gray

    I appreciate the discussion of how to curb the cost of medical care, now and in the future. Certain options really are not “insurance programs” — such as those which would charge older people more than younger ones, or those which would not cover catastrophic care.

    Do any of the plans now being considered include a “health savings account” in addition to (but not instead of) universal health care? Americans might be interested in seeing some of their health insurance premiums go into a health flex plan, to cover other medical and health and wellness expenses, not covered by the insurance program.

    Such an “account” would not be “use it or lose it”, and could accummulate year to year, and be inheritable or could be given to charity upon one’s death.

    One of the many ironies of the current economic crisis is that Americans were chastised for at least two decades for NOT saving, and now are being told to STOP saving and go out to spend…. (It’s good for the economy, right?)Let us do both — spend on health care and wellness and fitness, and save for our children.

  • Professor Linda Gray in Vermont

    Another benefit of such “health savings accounts” (in addition to, but not instead of, universal health care) could be that family members could pool them in case of emergencies.

    The accounts could build slowly, as a person pays his or her premium or fee — as a percentage of that fee.

  • John G

    I’d like to hear what Frist/Dean have to say about the fact that I am loosing my “cadillac” plan and getting moved into a high deductible/80-20 system versus my previous $20 co-pay plan (no deductible)… Seems to me that the insurance companies are doing just like the banks, and going ahead and getting all the profits before any laws get passed…

    It’s going to be a major revolt if everyone is forced into these sort of plan (mandates), and there is no public option to compete with these profit whores.

  • BHA

    I would ask Dylan if he thinks he should not pay property taxes (either on his house or through his rent) because:
    - they support public schools and he CURRENTLY has no children
    - because they support the fire department but he has not had to call the fire department YET

    Gov Dean just alluded to this with his motorcycle helmet analogy.

  • Diane in Western Massachusetts

    The Senate and the House members need to get off their high horses, get the insurance companies’ hands out of their pockets, and WORK for the average American’s well-being. Pass the reform and stop being stubborn, short-sighted mules about it, for Pete’s sake!

    What kills me is the fact that Massachusetts’ health insurance requirement is being held up as a shining example. It is NOT a shining example. We were told that the requirement would bring down health insurance costs to the individual and it didn’t happen. On a national scale, this would be a catastrophe for the average middle class or lower middle class family.

    My husband and I are self-employed, we don’t make a lot of money, but it’s too much to qualify for a subsidy here in MA. When we approached the health care connector with our dilemma, we were told we could have a waiver and not be required to have health insurance. HOW is that a proper solution for a family with a child, as ours is???? At this point, we pay for high-deductible health insurance, it’s very expensive, and we consider it a catastrophic plan only. So much for the wonderfulness of the required health insurance.

    The House and the Senate members need to HELP US, not help the insurance companies perpetuate the plundering of Americans that has gone on far too long.

  • Cory

    85% of Americans have health insurance, 15% have none. The question is, can the citizens of the world’s wealthiest nation do the OBVIOUS ethical thing? Can the 85% make a SMALL sacrifice and insure the last 15%? I just heard Bill Frist say we cannot afford to insure everyone… How the hell does the rest of the civilized world do it?! Are we just stupid, or horrendously selfish?

  • Todd

    The core problem with health care is affordability; and insurance is the main reason that it’s become “out-of-pocket” unaffordable. As long as health care delivery is contingent upon people having insurance, then its cost will only continue to increase and it will remain unaffordable.

  • Mark

    If you want to stick it to the “Evil Insurance Profiteers”, why not allow companies or individuls to purchase health insurance across state lines? If you truely want to introduce competition into the industry, what better and easier way than to have over 13,000 health insurance providers compete for your business? This would be easy for the Federal Gov’t to do due to the Commerce clause. Right now, the providers are protected by state regulators. They are able to carve out there own protected territory without fear of competition. The Commerce Clause is there to make sure that commerce proceeds in a mormal way. Since this does not happen now, the Feds should excercise their rightful and constitutional power.

  • http://wdetfm.org Dennis

    If there is only a “bare bones” castastrophic plan as Senator Frist proposes, we will continue to have people show up at the ER for routine care, or not get it at all. Our costs for health care will continue to rise, so I don’t see this approach working.

  • Lilya Lopekha

    We should stop begging for blessing of the corrupt repulicans. Howard Dean keeps saying, we have common areas where we can work with, etc.

    We are not in Sicilia. In order to open up a shop and do business with public, we don’t have to pay some to the this healthcareless Mafia.

    This is what democracy is for. You put out a law that is best for us, the citizens. If people side with the money and with some interest groups, instead of We, The People, you kick them out of the office.

    No to Fritz (who represents the Mafia/parasites).

  • David

    Brett’s comments, I believe, sum up the true Republican or perhaps Libertarian healthcare plan; NONE! Savings are great when you have money, but when you are living a subsistence existence as so many are, you can barely afford food and rent, let alone save up for healthcare. This is truly the most selfish and uncaring perspective I have ever heard. I’ve got mine; screw you!! Too many think this way, but hopefully not a majority. Brett, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    The only way the Republicans will understand is if they lose their healthcare benefits. Take away their benefits and see how they will survive. They are only doing this because the want our President to fail. They are extreme idiots and they need to be voted out!

  • Putney Swope

    Linda I’m already maxed out financially. I don’t have any money to put into a “health savings account”. If I had extra money I would be putting towards retirement.

    Also the very notion that one can build up this account for emergencies is absurd. What happens if you have an emergency and you don’t have enough in the account?

    What happens if your in a car accident?

    The account idea is not going to work, why, most Americans can hardly afford to pay there bills let alone a premium plus a case of health savings account.

  • Steve

    The problem with public option Health Care is this constant complaint of what’s in it for me because it might affect me. The Gov’t officials who are Republican need to listen more to the people and not just the MDs. First, every Veteran should be covered at least in a public option plan. 2nd, every US Citizen facing catastrophic medical emergency should be covered in a public option plan. Third, we should find a way to broker medical solutions with Mexico for their citizens caught in a situation while here, like any civilized country would do maybe using UN guidelines somehow.

  • http://www.iamdark.com Jeanette Michelle

    With this country now in a recession and people are loosing their jobs by the thousands, public healthcare is very much needed. These people will never understand this until the day they’re faced with this problem.

  • Cory

    Mark,

    I see your point, but would that represent a solution or some sort of sad half-measure bandaid? Is it simply another example of American Exceptionalism to say that everyone except us is using the wrong healthcare model? Single payer is the only rational option, a legitimate public option is a step in the right direction. Anything else is “lipstick on a pig”.

  • Andrea Vergara

    I completely agree with the last caller. The republican party has decided that the best tactic is to mislead the American people. Short of lynching the president they organize tea parties and sabotage town hall meetings, lead by pathetic “thinkers” such as Limbaugh and the likes. That show of violence, including shouting “you lie” at the president as a clear sign of weakness and desperation.
    Since they cannot come up with new ideas their only option is to say no to whatever the democrats propose.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Diane, in Western Mass, I too am self-employed, tried the Connector that provides the “menu” that seems to be the objective in Congress, and I too found myself still with costly insurance that I consider catastrophic, too expensive to use, too expensive period. I would have been a lot healthier the last 15 years if I didn’t have to run the rat-race to pay the premiums. The Darwinian solution, as someone pointed out above, is to hamstring myself, declare myself a charity case, carefully suppress my business till I end up on MassHealth. Unfortunately, my business can’t survive like that; see Nietzsche; what isn’t going up is going down.
    Linda Gray brought up health savings accounts. I went to a presentation of such an offering a few years ago, and was totally shocked that the company managed to make it even worse than standard plans, just a lot more paperwork, and the plan I heard had a lot of the sort of riders credit cards offer. For instance, free movie tickets if you join a gym. It assumes you have time for movies, need for a gym. And it cost as much up front; I think the insurer came out as much ahead, and as I calculated, I would under that plan avoid medical care as much as I do with high deductibles. I forget how they did it. But I never pursued that again.

  • Mark

    Cory,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “half measure”. This seems to me the best way to accomplish both stated goals of bringing down costs and insuring more people. One would certainly follow the other. I was in the shipping business for many years. There was a time when the freight companies were as protected as the insurance providers are now. Once their state protection was eliminated, costs were dramatically reduced and service increased to level never before seen. Average transit times were reduced by 50% (6 days to 3 days). This is only logical when companies must compete for others for your business.

  • ESPOB

    Doesn’t anyone think that this debate is generally disingenuous on both sides? Regarding the so-called “public option,” none of the amendments to any of these bills that have a remote chance of ending up in any final bill on Obama’s desc is really what people think a “public option” is. Instead of being an actual option that anyone could choose to take, only people in specific income ranges who work for businesses of a certain size without employer insurance and who are not eligible for various other things will have the choice… and in those cases, it won’t be an “option” because it will be only for the people who don’t have other options.

    On the “free market” side, we don’t have anything even close to a free market because most people who have employer-sponsored coverage have only one or two choices of plans, so insurance companies have no reason to compete with each other. And it’s also a problem, both for consumers and for the “free market” argument when people have to choose jobs based on employer plans or switch insurance plans for employment reasons. But none of the so-called free market advocates want to rock the employer-sponsored boat. And for that matter, they don’t have contingency plans for what happens if we institute an individual mandate but premiums don’t come down (whether because the market fails or because we fail to set up the right conditions for it to succeed).

    Personally, I would be all in favor of a single-payer system. But failing that, let’s at least take market competition seriously. Tying health care to employment is a problem for both sides of this debate; it’s a problem for small businesses who can’t offer the health benefits to employees that big companies can; it’s a problem for anyone who wants to take a risk on an entrepreneurial venture; it’s a problem for the self-employed, independent contractors, etc; and of course for anyone who gets too sick to keep their job. It means that consumers have no choices that make the market a free one. And a “public option” that is only available to those who can’t get employer-sponsored health plans doesn’t solve anything for most people, either.

  • Kenny McLemore

    I’m from Nashville, and have been a Bill Frist observer since then-Gov. McWherter appointed him to the task force that preceeded the creation of TennCare in the early 1990′s. I’ve always wanted to ask him to detail where his family’s millions came from exactly. It is so ironic to me when I hear that big changes *could result* in rationing. I’ve been unemployed for nine months, and thus, have no access to any health care professionals at all (unless I beg). What do you call that? And there are thousands of people just like me right here in Nashville. The health care industry has been very, very good to people like Bill Frist. And his family is so GENEROUS, because their name is on so many philanthropic efforts. I’m so glad I have benefited along with the masses from their largesse and their sense of *noblesse oblige* But when it comes to what the Frist millions have done for folks like me, right here in their home town, in terms of actually getting in to see even a nurse when I’m sick or hurt – not so much!

  • Rick Evans

    Does anyone really believe Bill Frist would vote for a bill if he was still majority leader. This is the same physician who quackishly claimed he could diagnose Terry Schiavo’s brain condition by looking at amateurish video. I wonder if he accepts the autopsy results today.

    And we should also believe the guy whose family business was involved in “LARGEST HEALTH CARE FRAUD CASE IN U.S. HISTORY” and whose blind investment trust may not have been so blind … http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/23/AR2005102301201.html
    … and who may have been involved in illegal insider trading http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9450770/.

    Oh and regarding the British Health Service. I tend to trust Stephen Hawking more than Bill (all of the above)Frist.

  • Rick Evans

    oops: my post should have including the following link

    “LARGEST HEALTH CARE FRAUD CASE IN U.S. HISTORY” http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2003/June/03_civ_386.htm

  • azima

    First of all, Frist used that tired old excuse against a public option: who wants a “government bureaucrat” standing between the patient and doctor? Well, who wants an insurance executive, who is very well paid to find obscure ways to deny claims, between that same doctor & patient? I also get tired of hearing that mandates are a problem because “Americans don’t like being told what to do.” MY problem with mandates is that it gives for-profit insurance companies a motive for increasing premiums on its captive populace! It’s my understanding that premiums increased in Mass when coverage became mandated, and it was working, middle class families who experienced the most hardship paying because they’re not eligible for subsidies. If “cherry picking” is eliminated by mandates, why do premiums increase, and, if insurance companies promise us that mandates will lower costs, why do we even need subsidies (which the public pays for, by the way)? I agree with Dean: no mandates without a public option. Finally, when I lived in Ohio I could afford to buy my own insurance, but when I moved to Rhode Island I found that the premiums were at least double for the same coverage and I could no longer afford it. Hence, Americans MUST be able to buy insurance on the national market.

  • Sam

    @ Brett
    “Hey, if you get cancer and can’t pay your medical bills, it’s not anybody’s fault but your own that you didn’t plan properly.”

    Which Health Insurance co. you work for sir?

    Could you please explain how on earth can someone plan for a sickness like Cancer?

    Lets be practical, Do you even know that how much it costs to get Health Insurance in Individual Market? And since most people get their Health Insurance from Employer can you please suggest how would it work out if someone losses his/her job?

    Ah, tell someone who has MS or Cancer to get a job when he/she is in his later stages.. and please dont tell me about Cobra!

    Above, all, what about a Car Wreck? Can someone plan these things?

    Agreed, I dont want anyone to taking a free ride, but, this isnt just about free ride, its about lives of people, human beings, not just some animals, for goodness sake!!

  • Zinovy Vayman

    Why public option for the management of health care and no public option for the management of condominium “associations” within cities?
    The owners and tenants are mightily abused just to create windfall profits for managers, lawyers and “trustees”.

  • Dr. Diana Arezzo

    Frist catagorically stated, “That’s why the public option is so unpopular..” and neither Ashbrook, nor Dean challenged him. The latest poll said 65% of the public supports a public option — despite all the corporate-fueled lies, fear-mongering, and threats. How is that “so unpopular” ?!?! I joined tens of thousands of energized vocal supporters of real reform and the public option (most of us supported single payer) on Labor Day in Boston. Four other cities held coordinated huge demonstrations. We chanted, we sang, we marched, we cheered, we listened to inspired speakers, including real victims of our disgraceful failed system. But, since no one threatened violence, and no one brought a gun, WE GOT NO NATIONAL COVERAGE. Only the New England Cable News station covered us briefly. Five hateful people screaming lies and threats at town halls, or carrying guns, are shown over and over and over on network and especially cable channels. Even Michael Moore stated in a recent interview that no one has been organizing the pro health reform movement. There has been organization and protest. Just no coverage. The public option is still widely supported, and had much greater support before the profit-driven campaign of lies to destroy it. Ashbrook, stand up to lies like Frist’s. Yes, reform will cost money. But not as much as the catastrophic economic loss to our economy from runaway health care costs — which line the pockets of the insurance/health profiteers, and give us one of the very worst systems in the industrialized world (at twice the cost for any other country). I made a sign for the rally that said PUBLIC OPTION NOW on one side (like many thousands of others), and INSURANCE PARASITES SUCK BLOOD FROM AMERICANS on the other side. Current Republicans and Blue Dog Dems, after pocketing their insurance payola, have come up with bills that benefit the insurance companies far more than health care consumers (all of us). We must stand up and shout our outrage and support for real health care reform. What does democracy mean if we can’t do it now, with the White House and this kind of margin in Congress?

  • Rick Evans

    Yesterday’s WESUN profiled small biz owner Lyn Robinson who goes uninsured voluntarily. She’s 52 and it would cost her $6000 per year for coverage. She prefers to spend that $6000 on actual care. A few years ago she broke her wrist and was billed $14000; it’s not clear is that’s a negotiated price*. Despite that setback she still goes naked.

    At the end of the story she confessed she was shopping for a catastrophic policy. The problem is all the bills are based on the Massachusetts Medical Industrial complex guaranteed income and profits law which requires we buy comprehensive insurance because the industry should not have to give up any of its $8000 per person per year revenue.

    i.e. If you prefer to reserve $20000 of your own money each year, just in case, and pay lower premiums to protect yourself from the BIG-C or some other $1 million ailment you’re told NO.

    * Promoters of the individual mandate love to claim that uninsureds are subsidized by those with insurance which is why we must force them into the shark pool. However one need only look at this Allan Sloan Marketplace Morning report story to see it’s not quite that simple. http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/09/14/am-sloan/. For that matter people like Lyn Robinson pay higher taxes than those who get their tax free premium income from their bosses. So who is REALLY subsidizing whom.

  • gina

    Folks (Ellen, Putney and others), Brett’s comments were tongue-in-cheek. He was parodying the usual right-wing “solutions” for this country’s healthcare problems.

    Frist being on this program nauseates me. His family’s company, Hospital Corporation of America, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, paid the largest fraud settlement in history, $1.7 billion, for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid. His fortune from stock in the corporation bought his Senate seat, spending over $3 million of his own money on the campaign. (His run for the Senate apparently refected a newfound interest in politics; it has been widely reported that Frist himself cast his first ballot only a few years earlier, at the age of thirty-six.) Despite a a near-decadelong federal investigation, no criminal charges were brought against HCA execs by the Bush Justice Department, including then-CEO Rick Scott, who went on to create “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights”, the astroturfing group behind many of the anti-reform protests of the last few months. Frist’s brother Thomas, the current director of HCA, is today among the wealthiest people in America. No restrictions were ever placed on HCA’s ability to bill Medicare or Medicaid as part of the settlement. And today we’re treated to Senator Frist’s grand pronouncements on how we should reform healthcare. No thanks.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Rick, maybe I’m not following (maybe others too), but tax-free premiums are also available to self-employed people. Every year I deduct about $8,000 along with deducting half of what I pay in taxes for Social Security. So those are two big deductions. But the insurance premiums and the Social Security tax (15.3%) are huge outlays in my parameters.
    I think a lot of the budgetary wiggle room in the bills in Congress relate to that part of the tax code. Equalize the tax break for insureds. How?
    If I were in a higher tax bracket, the $8,000 deduction (more or less) that I take would be more of a deduction, because at a higher tax bracket/rate than where I am (well under $50,000).
    One proposal I heard about on NPR says something to the effect that the premium deduction would be at the same bracket/rate for all, regardless of income, so people in higher brackets wouldn’t get quite as much deduction for health insurance as before. That way the government could get some of the money for making sure all are covered.

  • Todd

    “I made a sign for the rally that said PUBLIC OPTION NOW on one side (like many thousands of others), and INSURANCE PARASITES SUCK BLOOD FROM AMERICANS on the other side.”
    Posted by Dr. Diana Arezzo

    So, do you refuse to file and accept your patient’s insurance coverage as payment for your services? If not, then you’re position is hypocritical, not hippocratical.
    I agree, insurance companies are bloodsuckers; insurance has industrialized a profession service which, by its very nature, is meant to be personalized. So, why would you support a public option reform which makes it mandatory (under penalty!) for everyone to be ensnared by the scam that is insurance? Unless we get back to “out-of-pocket” affordable health care delivery, we will continue to have the insurance bloodsuckers attached to our bodies.

  • Rick Evans

    @ Ellen “maybe I’m not following (maybe others too), but tax-free premiums are also available to self-employed people.” — I was referring to the higher taxes she pays for not paying premiums and should have been more explicit. But your point is well taken.

  • David Sherwin

    Reform is clearly the main focus of this issue.

    The proof?

    Healthcare is consistently hiring during this recession.

  • LinP

    Frist quickly made the comment that we “can’t afford” to provide everyone with the same kind of coverage that Congress gets. Oooo, way to make my blood boil. If we can’t afford it, then Congress needs to step down to the least-common-denominator insurance that the poorest will have to settle for.

    Way to keep the “haves” protected, Frist, and not even question that assumption. When you meet your maker, you are going to be so surprised at what direction you’re sent in. I hope there is, in fact, a hell that the likes of you can burn in for eternity.

  • Andrew

    Republicans may be a convenient target but I question whether the DEmocratic party is any cleaner on health care “reform.”

    I listened recently to Dr Steffie Woolhandler on the current legislation and her critiques were totally “on point.”

    Above all, Obama (whom i respect and support) & our entire political apparatus seems oblivious to the political and economic impact of an insurance mandate on the struggling classes. Woolhandler’s point, and the thrust of many comments above, is that reforming health care by forcing people to buy defective products (health insurance) is no reform.

  • JP

    I’m surprised some people didn’t get that Brett was being facetious in his post.

    He is obviously mocking the typical right-wing nutcase’s arguments about health care…

    “A real American should take their 30,000 or less/year salary and save the 500,000 or so he/she might need to pay wealthy corporations for treating a catastrophic illness, so that we’ll have money to invade other countries and protect more corproate profits.”

    HA HA HA!

    Good one Brett!
    Keep up the good work making fun of right-wing America!

  • Michael

    haha gina, i was suprised that noone else got that.

    It gets very frustrating hearing how great the mass health care is.

    Its not, I’m in my mid 20′s and almost all my friends co-pays, and prems have went up, along with fighting with there insurance coverage taking away care.

    A few now dropped there care because of the high cost and not being able to even use it or be covered.

    The force mandatory health care they placed on people like myself has not even reduced the cost, better the care at all, and now Mass elites are finally trying to debate on how to lower cost without affecting the insurance companies profits cause hey there may have to lay people off(can’t have that).

    The health care accounts are plain dumb, my insurance companies has that. It has tons of ifs, buts, whens, and many hidden costs so a dollar in is not reflected as a dollar but far less.

    Frist saying that the republicans are trying to work bi-partisian is laughable and anyone following this whole debate knows that the only republican actually going to or may vote is snow not the others.

    The republicans idea is to waterdown the bill as much as they can and get what they want than rail against it once passed. The same is down against wall street regs.

    Far pretty for dems to go for the 50 take the heat and the hit on congrees and the senate passing a good bill(agian good bill) not the crap pushed as such and mirroring the Mass idea. Than when years go by and its shows it helps all americans dems are back in power for a long period(which republicans fear).

  • Lilya Lopekha

    Republicans are right….. we do NOT need insurance reform because the existing system (Form 1040A) is working perfectly.

    Most people who couldn’t afford health insurance are also too poor to owe taxes.

    But… if you give them a doduction from their taxes that they don’t owe, they can use the money they are not getting back from what they haven’t given to buy the health care they can’t afford.

    Problem solved!

  • http://facebook ANA

    Bret is another exaple of someone who lives in his own little world, and is only capable of withholding selfish thoughts, because he is too afraid of confronting the truth of this corrupt world in which we live in. Don’t worry Bret there is millions of peopel just like you who would rather be blind folded this way they don’t have to worry about feelings of compassion or anger because no one those anything to improve where we live. Even pareting is becoming a part time job. I trully hope that some day this people could stick their heads out and read non-currupted books and try to underatnd what surrounds us and maybe try to make a change starting with ourselfs!

  • Brett

    Thanks, gina!!!

    Ellen Dibble/Putney Swope/Sam/David,
    You’ve missed the satirical tone of my previous comments (they parody what I’ve heard from opposition to health-care reform and are about as diametrically opposite of my views as one could imagine), but you’re right about the problem that uninsured people create and about the fact that some people think they can solve the problem of covering medical expenses by having a separate savings account. They don’t realize the cost of an extended hospital stay or long-term treatment of certain medical conditions. The caller named Dylan is a good example of someone not understanding what would happen should he develop cancer or become involved in a terrible accident; that would not only affect him but contribute to raising costs for others. David, this would indeed be a garden-variety, Neo-Con/Neo-Libertarian perspective.

    ESPOB,
    All of your points are right on the mark!

    Todd,
    I think your sentiments to Dr. Diana Arezzo were a tad harsh. Also, the “out-of-pocket” approach you espouse would have worked better years ago when medical procedures were simpler and required less technology. A lot of costs for doctors and hospitals beyond insurance/reimbursement issues have to do with paying for modern equipment. Those, and the costs of pharmaceuticals, would not be brought down by your “out-of-pocket” idea. What you propose clinicians do in boycotting reimbursements and purchasing medical equipment would effectively put them out of business and reduce access to modern care.

    I am glad to see people didn’t buy Frist’s “expert-driven” dismissiveness. In the court of “public opinion” he is not considered a credible witness with all of the scandal surrounding him. He seemed to get in his plugs for his book, though! Good job Dr. Frist! He has that benevolent, pseudo-avuncular style that Mike Huckabee uses but if he’s kept talking long enough, his true colors show through. DId anyone pick up on his saying the “death panel” concern was ‘overblown’? I guess he thinks overblown and an out-and-out lie are one in the same. Frist threw out a number of Conservative scare tactics, A.K.A, “talking points.” One (of many) that stuck out was how a public option/government run health care would put a bureaucrat in between doctor and patient. Two points about that: NOW, we have a corporate bean counter in between doctor and patient! 2) My mother is eighty and going through stage 3 uterine cancer. She has both Medicare and TRICARE. My best friend has advanced-stage Parkinson’s and also TRICARE. In both situations their insurance has worked very well, and I’ve seen no second-guessing the doctors or interference in the doctor-patient relationships. Perhaps others may have had different experiences.

    I like Dean, and he was making nice with Frist, but neither will be participating in the Congress, so it seemed a bit glib to talk about bipartisanship. I don’t think it’s possible (and has become a bit of an excuse not to get anything done).

    The cost of health care and insurance has greatly contributed to burdens on our economy/society. It has caused industry to go out of country; it has caused businesses to lose control of their bottom line; it has caused businesses to not invest in their employees (from reducing hours to reducing benefits); it has caused considerable financial hardship for individuals and families–the number one reason houses get foreclosed on is because of catastrophic medical bills. (I could go on!)

    I am torn between taking the time to get this bill right and getting something passed. Although, why can’t we have both?! I don’t think the Baucus bill strikes the right chord, but looks like that will be the one.

  • Brett

    Also,
    Thanks to Michael and JP!

  • Brett

    Lilya, your comment is my favorite of the day!

  • jeff

    The public option failed in committee in a showing of bipartisanship; in contrast, support for it was entirely partisan. Seems like those calling for bipartisanship should be encouraged!

  • Anthony

    No wonder we can’t get a meeting of the minds in Washington. Their paralysis and lack of civility totally mirror the contributions of those here who criticized Frist before he even spoke, brought up issues unrelated to the topic, and ignored what was said so they could call people names. You guys get the health care you deserve.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Brett, I thought you were sort of calling us down from the woodwork with your remarks up top. I know I generally agree with you, so you were sort of prompting me — us. Your approach was much more effective to get certain points set forth than the sort of name-calling spree that can get occur.
    I’m tempted to approach Lilya’s post on taxes in the same vein, and rather literally do a counterpoint. I was hoping some tax attorney would instead.
    Massachusetts has a newly appointed Democrat Senator. I think the name is Kirk? He replaces Kennedy till we vote in January; Kennedy probably would not have voted. So is that vote number 60 or 61 maybe? I still think “reconciliation” with fewer votes would be a credit to all voters if they “get it right,” something that does not drown us all down the road a few years (a longish view is needed).

  • Michael Kelly

    Frist-another self dealing doctor like Coburn,Price,Barboroso ect. Public Option now ! Maybe Its still alive because Frist is stepping in to stop It. I’m pretty cynical about the existance of a “Rebel Priest”. The very fact that DR. Silvespoon supports Baucus’s Bill means that its a piece of crap. Remember Frist brought you the war in Irag,the repeal of Glass-Steagal act, the impeachment of Clinton,as well as our current depression. Should we trust this guy and his family of predators. The fact that that he operated on General Betrayus just points to the fact that we should ignore his opinions because he is part and parcel of this crony capitalism of which we are suffering now.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Single-payer, besides the savings in terms of not supporting all the personnel and profits of an industry with too much influence in Congress, would do a vast lot towards fairness in distributing the costs. The 1040 tax forms and tax code have their faults, but we ALL suffer from them, and can “attack” the faults with a unified front.
    Right now you’ll have people who do nothing but smoke illegal substances all day long whose care is totally provided by the state, along with that of their disabled children, and people who manage to bring in income end up paying over half their income in taxes and premiums, income that gets distributed to the needy. More and more people are in that squeezy middle, either getting successful enough to escape the squeeze, or struggling enough to become one of the needy. (The same dynamic does apply in housing.)
    With multiple competing insurers, multiple plans, risks high and low, it is very hard for a lone voice to say this is unfair, hear me, and then die. Hard to do effectively, I mean.
    If the single payer option were in effect, the distribution of unfairness would be more obvious, would be across-the-board. Form 1040 would be the villain, not the full menu of options, with risk factors all negotiated into premium cost by corporate types with an eye to profit. I mean, one can always opt for private insurance. The government would never prevent that. They should, I think, give an equivalent tax break if someone was using (or continuing to use) pre-single-payer insurance.
    But anyone filing a 1040 would be in the program.

  • Cory

    Anthony,

    Yeah, cuz we had no idea what Frist would say. We know where conservatives stand. 1. keep healthcare a
    “for profit” enterprise 2. If you dont’t have reasonable access, it is probably your fault. 3. Any government activity other than invading foreign countries is SOCIALISM 4. Healthcare is a commodity, not a right 5. The free market is the solution to all problems, and must not be impeded. 6. Victory in the next election cycle, and the lobbyist cash needed to do so supercede all other questions.

    Have I missed anything?

  • Putney Swope

    Brett are you just being ironic and sarcastic?
    Do you really believe in the stuff you wrote?
    Girl Scout troops and bake sales to pay for your chemo therapy?

    I suppose while we are at it we should bring back work houses, debtors prisons, and while we are at it lets remove all those pesky child labor laws.

  • Putney Swope

    Brett it’s hard to know when someone is being funny on this forum or not. Sorry I did not get it.

    By the way just having a minor illness and few days in the hospital can cost over 30k. This happened to a friend of mine who did not have insurance in Phoenix AZ after he came down with a bad intestinal ailment.

    Still I’m all for bringing back work houses and debtors prisons…(an aside)

  • Jack Huang

    There are just too buzz words in the health care debate. Public health insurance option is necessary. Prescribed medicine in this country is just too expensive. I got Baraclude (from Bristol-Myers Squibb, a New York based company) in Taiwan without insurance for around $300 for 30 tablets. And here in the States, the medicine cost almost $900. I don’t know the deal between my insurance company and Bristol-Myers Squibb, but they charge American $600 more than whatever they charge people in Taiwan.

    Just a note that Government in Taiwan offer public insurance, but I had no insurance because I was just traveling there.

    Personally I believe that insurance system here in the States now is just a very bad system. Yes, some say that the money is for develop better quality medicine and service, but I do not see any of those as a patient. Plus, why charge more to people in the States?

    In addition to all these, if the government require the citizens to do something, they better be part of the something; not just let some other group of people to make a profit out of the required actions.

    This just sounds not right to have the government to set some regulation to let small amount of people to make tons of money. It just sounds like the government purposely give money to these people.

    Socialism for public option? Those people should do more researching on what is happening outside of the US. This is not the only capitalism country in the world.

  • Marc

    I’m amazed by how many people say you shouldn’t invite Frist to the program. Seems like every time there’s someone with a conservative point of view, I hear the same thing. I have never heard people say this about a liberal guest. I think if there were comments on Limbaugh’s program and he invited guests, his listeners would be saying never invite people with a progressive view. My two cents – I thought the show was good, given you always get lots of spin from politicians.

    I don’t like Frist and I don’t like Dean. When Dean was in office, he demonized the other side as bad as the worst of the republicans. Frist I knew less about, but his role in the Schiavo case was close to evil. Funny, how they all get so reasonable when they’re out of office.

    Anyway, I’m for a single payer option. It will be more wasteful, bureaucratic and expensive than what we currently have. I’m still waiting to see the government program that’s competitive with the private sector. I include Medicare (where administration is largely outsourced and now I hear it’s a financial mess), the post office, social security, schools and the rest. It will be politicized like Fannie Mae. They will deny claims like everyone does today (otherwise, we’ve just amped up today’s problems). Essentially, health care will be rationed, just like everyone other country that has socialized medicine. And I don’t consider rationing bad – depends on what you ration. But even with all these negatives, the current system is a mess and makes us uncompetitive. It kills families and small businesses.

    I worry about giving health care to illegal immigrants. This may tip me over to the republican side. We do it now through emergency rooms, but the costs will escalate dramatically if they get the same health care as citizens. More importantly, it will encourage millions more to come over. I know Obama says we won’t, but I no longer believe him. It would be great if we could provide health care for the additional millions. It’d be great if we could rebuild Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and everywhere else people are suffering. But we are broke and can’t afford to be policeman or nation builders or unpaid health care providers for the 4 Billion that are in poverty.

  • Alex

    “Yeah, cuz we had no idea what Frist would say. We know where conservatives stand. 1. keep healthcare a
    “for profit” enterprise 2. If you dont’t have reasonable access, it is probably your fault. 3. Any government activity other than invading foreign countries is SOCIALISM 4. Healthcare is a commodity, not a right 5. The free market is the solution to all problems, and must not be impeded. 6. Victory in the next election cycle, and the lobbyist cash needed to do so supercede all other questions.”

    Cory – I think it is much simpler than that. Your items #1 and #6 pretty much contain the explanation of the Republican stand on this issue. The rest of it (Items ## 3-5 are basically ideological propaganda points to dress up the #1 and #6).

  • Anthony

    Take the profit out of it and you’ll have one-tenth the docs and no new advancements in medical devices and drugs. Just cuz you can’t compete in a for-profit world doesn’t mean we all have to be relegated to your limited vision.

  • Tiger

    The hate speech and vituperation from the collectivist dreamers as their Obama fantasies evaporate shows how completely out of touch they have been from the start.

  • Peter Helenis

    does anybody at BUR remember that Frist’s family fortune is based on private ownership of HCA . This company paid over 800 million dollars to stop the state of Tennessee and the FBI’s investigation into Medicare fraud at HCA of which Bills daddy and brother owned about 2/3′s of no wonder he was so against the inheritance tax. Admitted to bilking government programs.!!! And my native state elects him senator!!! (Tears of pain here for the deceived hardworking loving people of Tennessee)

    Shame on BUR to give this robber baron a fourm and not explaining where the money and influence came from. Here’s the scoop from that leftist rag Forbes http://www.forbes.com/2000/12/15/1215disaster.html

    It reminds me of time magazine publishing a pic of Neil Bush in a nice suit when W was running and calling Neil a “businessman” No mention of Sliverado Bank but who needs political memory or context anyway. Comparing BUR to Time magazine? Is it apt? Prove me wrong!

  • Louise

    Polls show that most Americans are happy with the health care coverage that they have. It’s the left wing of the Democratic party which wants to create a system whereby every American will be dependent on the federal goverment for their health care which will lead to the rationing of health care and long waits for treatment. In addition, Obama will tax health care benefits after he promised during the election that he wouldn’t (how else is he going to pay for it?). I don’t want Obamacare or Deancare. Keep your hands off my health care benefits!! If others want to be dependent on the federal goverment,so let them be, but not me, hell no.

  • Michael Kelly

    I agree with Brett; Why don’t we put poor sick cancer patients on the front lines in afganistan; their children are already over there.

  • Brett

    Putney,
    Yeah, rather than simply criticize the conservative view, I thought I would feign the view as my own to show the absurd nature of that view. I based the whole thing on ridiculous comments I’ve heard from conservative politicians and from conservative folks around my local coffee shop/ in the op-ed of my local newspaper. I only exaggerated the language on a couple of points but not the stance. I decided to see how people would truly respond to an opinion from a person in opposition to health care reform (perhaps if the conservative person were speaking after being given truth serum). I was glad people were incensed enough to speak out against that position. I got the idea from gina, who wrote a satirical piece last week from a show on

    We all have a basic human right to health. Period. It is our personal responsibility to eat well, get plenty of rest, get plenty of exercise, engage our minds in meaningful activities, show care and mindfulness when engaging in physical activities, stay clear of cigarette smoking, show restraint when engaging in the consumption of alcohol, etc., and to prosper in our lives. But, as part of the human condition, accidents can sometimes occur through no one’s own negligence or no one’s negligence. Diseases can also occur despite our best efforts to stay healthy. At some point or other, we will all have a need for medical attention. And sometimes, circumstances beyond our control can render us unprosperous. Anyone who disagrees with what I’ve said so far is denying what it means to be human. Therefore, it is also a basic human right to have access to health care; specifically, health care that is well within our means to pay for. I am nonplussed when I hear folks who think this is NOT a basic human right but a privilege. For access to health care–and in essence health itself–to be assessed as a concept that assigns people to differing status, to categories of have’s and have-nots and imposes itself as a privilege, is immoral. Period. Ignorantly call it Socialism, if you want; call it whatever you want! I am thoroughly convinced the founding members of the convention that drew up the Constitution would whole-heartedly agree.

  • Brett

    I suppose Louise naively believes her health care is not rationed now. She also seems to naively believe her current health-care benefits are not subject to change under the current system.

  • Sam

    @Brett, Surely I didnt get your sarcasm in the first read. Sorry about that.

    On the other hand, I’m just curious, why is it that HealthCare has to be “profitable” ? We spend Billions as a “good will gesture” across the globe to boost our “PR” e.g. ~5 Billion alone goes to the UN and almost a fortune is spent in Defence and not even counting about Wars.

    When those things are considered Patriotism why does it become so Evil to spend some money on our own people in our own homeland for the Basic Needs like Healthcare?

    I mean, why cant we decide that anyone who has been diagnosed with MS, Diabetes, Cancer (all incurable diseases) would be taken care automatically?

    I know most people will say that “free riders” will take the system for a ride, however I fail to understand, if its going to rip their families apart and bring them to bankcruptcy (due to illness) then we are making more harm (thanks to the loss of education, torn families et al).

    Why should we even debate this?

    Just curious…

  • Alex

    “Just cuz you can’t compete in a for-profit world”

    Compete? Healthcare here is not a competitive business at all. Seniors are not allowed to cross the border to purchase medicine, health insurance is exempt from anti-trust laws, healthcare millionaires like Bill Frist got most of their fortune by milking Medicare. There is about as much competition in this area as there was among the five families in NYC. Tell this fairy tale to your grand kids someday, cuz.

  • rob

    Dean is right; a profit organization is not the best for health care giving. Profit taking and care-giving totally oppose each other; the ones in need a left alone because it is most profitable.

    I’m fine with the public “option”; although I think that in the long run, the single payer _base_ insurance would be best since it can leverage economies of scale to the fullest; not to mention it could provide a base platform to have all care givers to be on the same page (electronic records, etc).

    I keep hearing death panels. A cousin of mine was in the hospital and the insurance was trying to move her out of the hospital 2 days after brain surgery, because her coverage didn’t allow it. How’s that for a death panel?

    Finally, I am tired of employer sponsored insurance. I am not free anyway to choose my own provider; even when a provider is imposed, I am stuck to the few products my company provides me (it’s a pain to pay more for more, if possible at all?). Where’s the freedom?

  • david

    Come one, come all, the government needs more people hanging off the teats of big government. Remember that the bigger the government gets the bigger the appetite becomes. Do you really trust big government? If you do, then never ever complain when your taxes go up and they will,to pay for all this. You will sign on to a program that big government has promised will save the day. Have you forgotten what big government has done in the past. In regards to health-care reform, Sen. Thomas Carper(D-Del),”I don’t expect to read the legislative language because…the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life.” The bill was “incomprehensible” and “hard stuff to understand.” A fool signs a contract never having read it. Yet! we Americans once again, are putting our trust in the politicians who promise us the world but tax the crap out of us for it. So once again America, belly up to the government teat and give away your freedom.

  • Michael

    Breat,

    if what Louise said was true being in the USMC than she/he is most likely in the reserves paying at least in mass. 60 to 80 dollars a month for health care.So we could see why she is against health-care since the government would be providing it for her at your tax dollars expense.

    Maybe even cheaper now than before this year that was about the price and like 15 to 20 dollars extra for dental care.

    also even if some of these anti reform posters, commentators loss there coverage because of private insurance who ration health care or to make more profit they still blame the government and want those companies to get even more freedoms, less restriction than once it gets worst they blame the government for not protecting them. So there vote for people who will destroy the government from the inside and than cry when everything falls to crap, while voting for the same people who are the ones ruining it.

  • Cory

    David,

    I’ll take an elected bureaucrat over an unelected CEO who makes 20 million dollars a year to deny me coverage for this or that. We ARE the government, David. …Of the people, for the people, and by the people.

    Louise,

    As a veteran of the Marine Corp., will you ever consider using your V.A. benefits should you contract a terminal or chronic disease? I didn’t think so. That would make you a tool of a big government Socialist regime. It must be mighty nice to tell us you don’t want change when you are protected by the very same government you deride as a corrupt socialist cabal. By the way, I don’t see Obama as my messiah. My Messiah said “do unto the least of us as you would do unto me”. How do you like those apples?

  • Cory

    So I ask you Anthony, what should be the fate of those of us who “can’t compete”? Isn’t this really the underlying question?

  • Todd

    David is spot on correct!

    “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.” -Gerald Ford

    Perhaps the wisest words ever uttered by Ford during his presidency; even if he didn’t govern by them.

  • Todd

    “Todd,
    I think your sentiments to Dr. Diana Arezzo were a tad harsh. Also, the “out-of-pocket” approach you espouse would have worked better years ago when medical procedures were simpler and required less technology. A lot of costs for doctors and hospitals beyond insurance/reimbursement issues have to do with paying for modern equipment.”
    Posted by Brett

    I disagree. Regardless of the era of medicine you care to examine, the cost of any service will always follow in direct proportion to the maximum expense that is customarily expected to be covered—either by the patient or the patient’s insurance. The way medical innovators and the manufacturers of modern medical equipment operate are not unlike their cousins over at the pharmaceutical companies. They ALL play the numbers game. From the R&D to the marketing and delivery of the products of these companies, it is all structured to anticipate/calculate the maximum cost that they can charge based on the maximum the market will bear. As the average patient nowadays can no longer afford “out-of-pocket” health care, they MUST have insurance in order to cover the astronomical costs. The medical manufacturers and innovators and big pharmas know this, but are NOT concerned about the percentage of the population that are uninsured and can’t afford to pay “out-of-pocket” for treatment; because they’re still making money hand-over-Frist from the majority that are insured. I flat guarantee you, if absolutely nobody was insured as of tomorrow, the cost of health care would quickly come down to affordable levels. Why? Because, otherwise, these companies would be defunct. They would have to adjust their costs to an “out-of-pocket” affordable level, because that’s what the market would/could then bear. And if the refused to adjust and went bust? So what, there will always be another company waiting in the wings to come along and meet the price that the market will bear. This happens all the time in any other sector of the economy, and it’s a phenomenon that favors the consumer. Yes, I believe in major medical insurance for catastrophic illness; however, as long as insurance (be it private or government) is being used for anything less than that, then both health care AND health care insurance will remain unaffordable.

  • Brett

    Todd,
    I was speaking about the effect of your “plan” on doctors and patients NOT insurance companies. Your argument in your last comment shows your focus is on some vast boycott of health insurance for everything other than catastrophic (which would hurt doctors and patients so much in the short-term, it would be they who are brought to their knees quicker than insurance companies). You’re confusing “health care” with “health insurance.”

    Also, catastrophic is not the only component of health “care” that has the potential to cost the patient more money than is reasonable to manage. Chronic illness/diseases also are beyond the means of “out-of-pocket” (for patients). Procedures well below what would be considered catastrophic can cost in the tens of thousands.

    How would patients boycott big pharma? It is very unwise and potentially deadly for patients with diabetes to stop taking insulin. Asthma sufferers could cause themselves harm by stopping their medication. Cancer patients, AIDS patients…it’s silly to think fingers could be snapped and everyone could start purchasing medicine and medical procedures out of pocket. I have asthma, my medicines cost over $300 a month if paid for out of pocket. They cost 10% of that through insurance. And meds for asthma are way cheaper than cancer or AIDS medication…

  • millard-fillmore

    ‘Never much of a fighter against abusive corporate power, Barack Obama is making it increasingly clear that right from his start as President, he wanted health insurance reform that received the approval of the giant drug and health insurance industries.

    Earlier this year he started inviting top bosses of these companies for intimate confabs in the White House. Business Week magazine, which proclaimed recently that “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” reported that the CEO of UnitedHealth, Stephen J. Hemsley, met with the President half a dozen times.

    These are the vendors. They and their campaign slush funds cannot be ignored in the power struggle over the legislation percolating in the Congress. One public result of these meetings was that the drug industry promised $80 billion in savings over ten years and the health insurance moguls promised $150 billion over the same decade. Mr. Obama trumpeted these declarations without indicating how these savings would be guaranteed, how the drug companies could navigate the antitrust laws and what was given to the health care industry by the White House in return.

    We have now learned that one Obama promise was to continue the prohibition on Uncle Sam from bargaining for volume discounts on drugs that you the taxpayer have been paying for in the drug benefit program enacted in 2003.

    Unknown is whether the health insurance companies were also promised continuation of Medicare Advantage with its 14% added taxpayer subsidy to induce the elderly to make the move out of public Medicare. Also unknown is whether the Medicare public option that Mr. Obama formerly espoused but since has wavered on has been put on the concession table.

    The whole secret process is seedy and demonstrates cruel disregard for the millions of American who, whether in dire need of medical services or not, voted in “change we can believe in.”’

    Read the rest of it here.

  • millard-fillmore

    “It is up to the people of our country to “make him do it” whether this year or next. A mere one million immediate calls to members of Congress by one million assertive citizens will start sobering up these legislators who think they can get away with another sale of our public trust.

    The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. The full Medicare, single payer bill (backed by nearly ninety legislators) is H.R. 676. The go-to citizen group for your sustained engagement is singlepayeraction.org. The rest is up to you, the majority, who want to put the people first.”

  • Chris glover

    I ask all of you, you think they’ll listen. They do only think of money. Its in their dreams, conversations and debates. Health care will eventually wear it self out. People will be homeless and dieing. Get used to it, its the world and people in its natural form, greedy.

  • Todd

    “Todd,
    I was speaking about the effect of your “plan” on doctors and patients NOT insurance companies. Your argument in your last comment shows your focus is on some vast boycott of health insurance for everything other than catastrophic (which would hurt doctors and patients so much in the short-term, it would be they who are brought to their knees quicker than insurance companies). You’re confusing “health care” with “health insurance.”” Posted by Brett

    The two are so closely related; an effect on one will affect the other. I didn’t even allude to the term “boycott”; so save the hyperbole for drama class. The current system could be gradually weaned from its dependence upon insurance. It would be rather difficult to confuse “health care” with “health insurance,” because under the current system they’ve become synonymous–health insurance has become a prerequisite for receiving health care! Insurance isn’t the solution, insurance is the problem.

  • Brett

    Todd,
    you essentially called the doctor a ‘hypocrite’ for taking insurance reimbursements, saying that if she does take reimbursements and supports a public option, she is a hypocrite, which is more than an allusion to a boycott mentality and far more dramatic. If the implementation of your idea is ‘gradual’ it will not keep pace enough to impact insurance companies. You also say there is no difference in “care” and “insurance” under the current system (talk about hyperbole), implying that the people who are paying out of pocket now haven’t any effect on the system. So, how would change occur, unless revolutionary, which you predicate on an “out-of-pocket” approach? One point we can agree on, though, is that the current system does not work and needs changing!

  • Todd

    The doctor holds a sign in one hand labeling the insurance industry “bloodsuckers,” yet plays along with the system and accepts their payments in the other hand. If you can’t see the hypocrisy in that, then either you’re refusing to look or you’re blind. It’s a blunt truth. A gradual implementation could be accomplished by reducing the percentage covered by insurance over time, until it is phased out. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t need to be a transition period, or that said transition period wouldn’t mean some sacrifices. You think it’s hyperbole to equate health care with health insurance? Ha! Try obtaining medical treatment without being able to present proof of insurance and see how much treatment you receive–and I am not referring to an ER visit for minimal treatment either. And, even WITH insurance you’re not guaranteed that the cost will be covered, due to policy exclusions and pre-approval requirements. Yes, we can agree that the current system needs changing, and soon. Maybe it will take a revolution. But, be mindful that revolutions are–by their very definition–not events that happen slowly. Take care mon ami! :)

  • Alex

    A relative of mine is a dentist and a staunch Republican. That does not prevent her from getting a large portion of her income from Medicare and MassHealth, both socialist type programs. Her father, may he rest in peace, came here from former U.S.S.R. and lived in a public subsidized housing and was a Medicare recipient. Incidentally, she did his teeth, too. Is she a hypocrite?

  • Todd

    “Is she a hypocrite?”
    Posted by Alex

    Strictly speaking—and assuming that you define being *Republican as being anti-socialist—yes she is. But, aren’t we all at one time or another? More often than not, it is when we choose to sacrifice long-term principle for the sake of short-term convenience and/or self-gain.

    *I don’t consider Republicans to be anti-socialistic; they are merely class-selective socialistic, adhering to a political philosophy of socialism exclusively for the rich.

  • david

    Cory, You can take your bureaucrat over the CEO. That shows you have no trouble hanging off the the teat of the government. Quess what? your bureacrats in Washington just gave themselves a 5.8% raise! They are really concerned about all us hurting, suffering Americans. Actions speak louder than words. You will not believe some other things they have passed behind our backs, let you all know later.

  • Ed Owens

    The real question is when are the Americans who do all the hard work in this county going to stand up and stop taking it in the hind end?

    Its simple. If your Senator and Representative vote against what you want then you vote against them until you get someone that is actually your representative and not a bought and paid for stooge for corporate America.

    Or better still everyone band together and company by company boycott them until they collapse. Not all at once. But pick one and kill it by starving it of your business.

    But most people would just rather gripe than do something useful.

  • dad

    Anyone opposed to a socially responsible option is clearly rich, ignorant, or inept. I think the government has to work on education as well.

    dad

  • Todd

    “Anyone opposed to a socially responsible option is clearly rich, ignorant, or inept. I think the government has to work on education as well.”
    Posted by dad

    Rich, ignorant, or inept? The latter two of those adjectives describe the government, and the remaining one it pretends to be by using other people’s money. And that’s who you want/expect to work out socially responsible solutions? By the way, the government HAS worked on education; that’s why it’s in shambles! Whatever part of health care that isn’t already in ruins is next on the government’s agenda for creating chaos.

  • Tim

    Anytime you get medical doctors, insurance companies, and republicans agreeing with true and meaningful healthcare reform you had better read the details carefully. Dean showed his stripes as a medical doctor when he didn’t challenge Frist on the boondogle of stifling innovation. Whenever republicans or medical doctors use the word or phrase stifle innovation, please substitute the word profit for innovation. Most true innovation that occurs domestically comes out of Universities funded by NIH. Tons of innovation is produced in other countries, in all manner of medicine.

    Tim

  • dad

    Education! Don’t get me started… public education sucks because it is not mandated by a central organization, instead it’s left to the towns and their measly budgets where they have to choose between education and fire/police department.

    However, don’t get me wrong – I guess I’m hoping that federal run organizations are better run than local ones. Trust me, the RMV sucks, Unemployment office sucks, etc, etc.

    I guess same goes to private organizations that have (had) a monopoly, such as Comcast.

    I guess this is more of a rant… something ought to be fixed. People dropped from insurances, or not accepted into them, or filing for bankrupcy because of an illness is simply unethical. Especially in the richest country of the world.

    dad

  • dad

    And don’t get me started with that guy who called stating that he didn’t want insurance!

  • mary lynn cramer

    Mary Lynn Cramer: Doublespeak on Health CareDoublespeak on Health Care. By MARY LYNN CRAMER. The tedious debate over healthcare reform blunders on. Radio talk shows like NPR’s “On Point” continue to …
    http://www.counterpunch.org/cramer10072009.html

    Massachusetts Quotes Page – USATODAY.com
    Mary Lynn Cramer : Doublespeak on Health Care. 1h 29m ago Counterpunch. The tedious debate over healthcare reform blunders on. Radio talk shows like NPR’s …
    content.usatoday.com/topics/quote/Places…/U…/1

    The tedious debate over healthcare reform blunders on. Radio talk shows like NPR’s “On Point” continue to present a narrow view of opinions on the subject, while trying to stir up excitement over so-called right-wing propaganda, and fabricated Democrat vs. Republican discord. I have several times attempted to call-in a comment to clarify the “doublespeak” going on with regard to the $500 billion cut in Medicare Advantage programs that the President and Congress agree is planned. Each time I call “On Point,” I have been told by the program telephone censor, “Those are very good points, but we just aren’t going to get to it this hour.”

    In a recent re-run of the same-old-same-old (10/05/09), “On Point” host Tom Ashbrook’s guests were Howard Dean, DNC chairman and former Vermont Governor, and Bill Frist, former GOP Senate Majority Leader and medical entrepreneur. As in past programs, we hear from two doctors who agree that the $500 billion cut in the Medicare Advantage program is necessary and will not have any impact on the services seniors receive!

    The Truth: $500 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage providers will result in increased premiums, as well as cuts in services and increased costs to Medicare Advantage patients. Seniors I know are happy with their Medicare Advantage programs that cover all the basic medical services not covered by Medicare. With the planned cuts in Medicare Advantage, many low-income seniors will be forced to revert to the Original Medicare (Parts A & B) that doesn’t even cover basic medical needs like annual physical exams, eye exams, eye glasses, hearing exams, hearing aids, or drugs. Yes, we will also need to pay for a separate, private drug insurance plan. In addition to Medicare (A&B) low-income patients in Massachusetts (creator of the model for national mandated health insurance) continue to rely on dwindling state government subsidies to meet their basic medical needs.

    Seniors need to speak out. Doctors who promote “Medicare For All,” as well as those who support cuts to Medicare Advantage, don’t know personally what it means to have Medicare or Medicare Advantage as the only affordable choices for covering our medical needs. And they certainly never talk publicly about the real differences between what the two programs cover and what they pay out to medical professionals. Seniors do know the difference. We need to make our voices heard! They think we have been wooed into complacency by their bedside manner.

    Don’t let them put our Medicare Advantage coverage on the chopping block without fighting back. Single-payer is not on the table…not even in the kitchen refrigerator. Cuts to Medicare Advantage have been prepared and are being served up with unanimous enthusiasm by our so-called elected representatives, with lots of support ($$$$$$$$$) from their friends in the private sector who know that sacrificing the cost-limited Medicare Advantage program is small ransom to pay in return for the billions of dollars to be gained by forcing every American to enroll in private insurance plans. That is what is on the table!

    We also need to beware of White House spectacles designed to intimidate us and distract us from serious questioning and debate. Witness today’s shameful display: Obama filled the Rose Garden with 150 doctors in their white medical coats, all of whom we are told support the President’s health care overhaul. In a clear indication of the President’s opinion of our inability to think for ourselves, he stated to the fawning physicians “nobody has more credibility with the American people on this issue than you do.” (AP10/05/09) BAAAAA! BAAAAA!

    Mary Lynn Cramer, MA, MSW, LICSW, Senior Citizen, has a background in economics and clinical social work, and considerable personal experience with Medicare. She can be reached at mllynn2@yahoo.com

  • Michael Kelly

    Mary Lynn Cramer is another obfucating member of the rich elite. Public option now- health care is a human right. To characterize a billionaire as a mere “entrepreneur” is very disingenuous. Frist was the Senate Majority Leader that instigated the Medicare Part D ( Medicare Advantage) boondoggle. To paraphrase the Republicans, Medicare part D is a trojan horse designed to destroy Medicare. Beware of conservatives defending Medicare!

  • mary lynn cramer

    Note to Michael Kelly: Yes, I am one of the “rich elite”… living in Hud housing for extremely low-income senior citizens, and whose income is social security and food stamps. Do you have any personal experience with Medicare? I am for Universal Single-Payer Healthcare; Not “Medicare For All”. Do you know the difference? I do. Due to ignorance, “Medicare for All” is what we all have to look forward to in the very near future. Hardly a conservative, but obviously “obfucating.” MLC
    PS: “entreprenuer” was meant sarcastically, as you know he is the owner of a hospital and insurance conglomerate.

  • mary lynn cramer

    Whether intentional or not, the liberal “single-payer” promoters have greatly confused the public by equating single-payer, universal health care coverage with “Medicare For All.” Ironically, it looks like they will get what they have called for; again, unintentionally.

    With the long predicted demise of any “public option” or government sponsored program that would compete with the private sector, plain vanilla Medicare-for-all is targeted to become the gold standard for coverage under the basic private policies to be offered to all Americans (whether you like what you have now or not). Take a good look at what that means in practice.

    As I have attempted to explain in previous articles (“The Myth of Medicare for All “, see counterpunch.org/cramer08052009.html)Medicare, by itself, does not cover annual physical exams, dental care, routine eye exams or eyeglasses. There is no coverage for hearing aids, annual physical exams, or foot care. Medicare participants must pay 50 per cent of an outpatient therapist’s charge for mental health services. Other services and supplies not provided by Medicare include acupuncture, chiropractic services, several laboratory tests, long-term care, orthopedic shoes, prescription drugs, shots to prevent illness, and some surgical procedures given in ambulatory surgical centers. (You can see the entire list of “What’s NOT Covered by Part A and Part B” in the US Department of Health and Human Services booklet entitled “Medicare & You.”) For those items that are covered, there is a charge of at least 20 per cent of the medical provider’s costs, and a deductible that must be met.

    This new bottom line for benefits, much lower than anything I ever had with my “employer-provided” insurance plans, will be this basic Medicare plan offered to all, served up with blarney that now all Americans have access to the same excellent Medicare that the elderly are so “happy” with. If that isn’t good enough for you, anyone who can afford it will be able to purchase additional coverage, at a much higher price than seniors now pay for the government-subsidized supplemental programs (sometimes called Medicare “Advantage”)…
    TO READ THE REST, SEE:
    Cramer: Progressives Abet Obama-Fraud
    Progressives Abet Obama-Fraud Don’t Confuse Medicare with Single-Payer. By MARY LYNN CRAMER. …www.counterpunch.org/cramer08182009.html

  • Putney Swope

    Excellent points Mary, my late father was on Medicare and I have to I was not impressed. Also when politicians go on about how good the VA is, well have you been in a VA hospital? Most are pretty dismal places.

    I want a robust single payer system like Canada’s or the Netherlands. Don’t tell me there is no money for this as all of us who pay for insurance pay a lot for crappy care, unless your in the Government or have a gold standard policy.

    The whole damn thing is corrupt and stinks, period.

  • Michael Kelly

    Sorry I spelled “obfuscating” wrong therefore my opinion should be disregarded. I don’t like people beating up on the VA though;their is alot more “dismal”places than the VA hospitals. A lot are Frist’s joints. It seems that when one VA Physician does a bad job the whole country knows about it; but bad stuff happens every day at other venues. The state boards with their medical cliques,crony journalist ect. cover it up.

  • Duncan

    I’d like to mention something nobody else has in this debate, AFAIK.

    The extra money we all spend on healthcare has another less obvious effect.

    If it costs us more, it affects either our, or our employers bottom line. When the happens by definition, the operating costs go up.

    When costs go up, industry goes overseas. We’ve all noticed industry packing up and going overseas, why hasn’t anyone figured that an extra 10 percent (give or take) of GDP for healthcare might just possibly maybe have had an effect on that?

    ANYTHING that raises our cost of living here makes it less affordable for businesses to use our labor.

  • Brett

    Duncan,
    ‘The cost of health care and insurance has greatly contributed to burdens on our economy/society. It has caused industry to go out of country; it has caused businesses to lose control of their bottom line; it has caused businesses to not invest in their employees (from reducing hours to reducing benefits); it has caused considerable financial hardship for individuals and families–the number one reason houses get foreclosed on is because of catastrophic medical bills. (I could go on!)’

    This was part of my comment from October 5th at 3:23pm.

    I agree, we need to separate health insurance from employment, which would help some of the economic woes of the business community.

  • Janet

    We should do away with the school breakfast, lunch programs, WIC and Earned Income Credit to pay for this new entitlement program.

  • David

    I like Dean’s way to pay for it. “Oh the government pays for it”…what a clown.

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