Monday, August 10, 2009


Continuing Thoughts on the Health Care Debacle Debate

Searching my blog, I came across an old post from 2005, The Politics of Polarization. Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report has written a review of a paper by Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck called "The Politics of Polarization." A few of the points caught my eye.
Of course, demographic numbers can change greatly over time, sometime over a short time.

I believe the myth of mobilization needs to be kept in mind by everyone. The tea party crowd is mobilized. The Democrat astroturfers are mobilized. (The Democrats really don't want any discussion on health care reform, quite the opposite.) What will settle the question are the votes of a few Democrats who are willing to take a longer, more careful look at the problem.

"Substance is the problem." At this point we have little substance on either side. Sure, we have a thousand plus page bill but few in Congress have read it. No substance there. The Republicans have tossed out a few ideas but they need more development.

The other two show why the larger party, Democrats, lose presidential elections and why they can easily lose the health care debate. One paragraph I wrote shows how much things have changed in the past three and a half years.
Although I have gone Republican most elections in the past 20 years, I would love to see a stronger, healthier Democratic Party. It would be healthier for the country as both parties would have to focus more strongly on serving the needs of the populace. Currently, The Democratic Party is so far "out there" it lacks the voter base to gain any significant power. If enough Democratic politicians could let go of the issues of gay marriage, quit race baiting, and show some respect for religion, they could gain popularity.
Obviously, the Democratic Party is stronger but I wouldn't say healthier.

Ann Althouse points out a couple of questions. First, she points out David Kurtz's question, "Where Are the Doctors?"
I did not envision that we could get this far down the road toward fundamental health care reform with so little input in the public discourse from physicians. Sure, the AMA has come out in favor of the House bill that includes public option. But where are voices of individual docs whose front line experience with the impediments to delivering quality health care offer invaluable instruction?
So where are the family practice docs, the public health docs, the rural practitioners, those who staff the inner city clinics? I'm not suggesting they're purposely sitting on the sidelines, but they do seem to have been sidelined in this debate. Can we hear more from them? Have I just missed it?
Next Ann asks,
...where are all the horror stories about people suffering and dying because of the current health care setup? You'd think there'd be all sorts of compelling anecdotes offered up to sway public opinion about the need for a big change. Quite aside from whether the proposed changes would solve the problems, I do think we should have been shown a vivid picture of the need for change.
Keep in mind that Ann voted for Obama.

Often the question is more important than the answer. Ask the wrong question and the answer is useless.

I'm wondering if a system based on the community mental health center model should be explored. Community mental health centers provide services to anyone and offer discounted fees based on income. Yet, private counseling and other private mental health services are thriving (for now). The mental health centers are private not-for-profit entities that receive significant government funding, private donations and collect fees for services. State and federal agencies evaluate the centers annually and approve them for continued operation.

The mental health center where I worked provided excellent services and care. In many instances better than a private therapist would because of the greater staff input regarding diagnosis and treatment options.

Additionally, we need tort reform which, from what I've read, is not addressed at all in the health care bill. Seems no one should get rich off of health care except lawyers like John Edwards.
But we'll know the president and congressional Democrats are serious about reform when they're willing to take on one of their most reliable interest groups -- plaintiff's lawyers.

Obama has said he is worried about physicians practicing "defensive medicine" to protect themselves against malpractice claims, but he also has ruled out what he has called "artificial caps" on jury awards in malpractice cases. The primary reason doctors order up all those tests Obama has questioned is to cover their backsides in case of a lawsuit. Real savings from the health care system will be difficult to achieve as long as doctors and hospitals are so vulnerable to the legal system.
Between 1997 and 2007, the cost of dealing with medical torts nearly doubled -- from $15.5 billion to $30.4 billion.
In Britain, the loser in a civil suit must pay the costs of the winner, which cuts down on the filing of risky lawsuits, including malpractice. In France, malpractice claims are settled by a special panel, similar to Michigan's Workers Compensation Commission.

If Democrats are determined to give Americans a European-style health system with heavy government involvement, they should also make the American tort law system more like the European model.
Now, a humorous look at the violent mobs via Instapundit.

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