Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Good News on Healthcare!

UPDATE: If the House bill is used, universal healthcare will create a $5 billion SURPLUS!.  We can afford this. We can’t afford to put it off. We can’t afford the status quo and we can’t afford 2 wars, a military budget higher than the next 25 nations combined, and constant multi-trillion dollar bailouts for Wall Street.  There is a moral dimension. Healthcare is a right. Failure to provide this because of fears that rich people will pay more taxes (or, as rightwing radio is trying to convince elderly whites in Appalachia, fear that Medicare will be taken away from poor whites to give to “undeserving” African-Americans and Latinos in the cities–or whatever fear is given) is an utter moral failure as a society:  on the level of slavery, child labor, segregation,  denial of workers’ rights to organize, etc.


1) The mainstream media (whose real biases are laziness, love of conflict, love of the sensational, and a bias toward corporate interests) and the Conservadems joined forces yesterday to claim that the Congressional Budget Office had just pronounced healthcare reform “too expensive.” As if the current system isn’t too expensive. But they were using an incomplete report on an incomplete bill. The final CBO report on the House healthcare bill finds it at least revenue neutral and may even generate a surplus! [Update:  New info. shows that the link may be wrong. The original figure of $1 trillion over 10 years may be right. Thanks to K Gray for calling to my attention that the link was wrong. Unlike the mainstream media, I’m always ready to correct myself.  But don’t panic–the military budget costs more than $1 trillion EVERY YEAR. And a universal healthcare system would save more American lives than the military.  We could pay for universal healthcare by cutting the military budget (get rid of the nukes and “missile defense”), cutting out agricultural supports for commercial farmers [our biggest form of welfare and it doesn’t go to family farms but to agribusiness], adding a nickle surtax to every all fast food and an additional quarter on every pack of cigarettes.  Plus once cost controls are put in for drugs, and we push hard on preventive medicine, those healthcare costs start dropping dramatically.)

2) The final House bill not only includes a robust public option, but an amendment that allows individual states to be laboratories in democracy by  adopting single payer systems! Canada’s excellent single payer system (socialized health insurance, not socialized medicine–government funded but privately delivered) began in one province and then spread.  I expect the large states, CA, NY to adopt single payer first (provided we can get this amendment in the final version that the president signs). When it proves successful, others will follow. States where health insurance companies have large presences (NE, KY) will be last to adopt this.

Since both the House and Senate versions have actually gotten out of committee, we are closer to success than ever before.  We may actually cease to be the only industrial democracy that thinks treating sick people should be a way to make a  profit and that sick people who are poor should just die already! 72% of the nation wants a public option (90% of Democrats and even 50% of Republicans) and we are ONLY facing an insurance industry spending a million dollars per day to stop it! 

People power! Call your Representatives and Senators and tell them to pass universal healthcare!

P.S.  In Bush’s first year of office, he passed a tax cut (aimed mostly at the upper 1%) which cut over $1.5 trillion in revenue over 10 years time. (Then he cut taxes for the rich again in 2002 and again in 2003.) So, even if the “healthcare will cost $1 trillion over 10 years” meme is accurate, we can pay for it by ending the Bush tax giveaways. Oh, and of the 6  Senators begging Obama to “slow down healthcare reform”(code for “keep the status quo”), 4 of them: Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Ben Insurance-Companies-Own-Me Nelson (D-NE), VOTED FOR THAT 1.5 trillion tax giveaway.

July 18, 2009 - Posted by | healthcare


  1. Link indicates this may be a hoax….?

    CBO’s actual letter, dated yesterday, says that “enacting HR 3200 would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period.”

    That conclusion is based on estimates, including projected revenues and cost savings; it also excludes all administrative costs, as well as effects on other programs and “off budget” items.

    The analysis (done by CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation) shows that current-HR 3200 fails Pres. Obama’s condition of not adding to the deficit. So the committees will need to find more revenue (taxes), more cost savings, or less coverage.

    Comment by K Gray | July 18, 2009

  2. One more thing: the White House will be updating it’s deficit numbers next month (so says the Council of Economic Advisors). The actual deficit will be bigger than currently stated — recession is deeper, revenue is lower, and recovery hasn’t happened as quickly as the White House expected.

    Is it better to enact health care reform before we know an updated deficit figure, or after?

    Comment by K Gray | July 18, 2009

  3. It’ll need to be enacted one way or the other. If we don’t fix our broken healthcare system within a decade it will absolutely kill the rest of our economy. It is one of the keys to recovery.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 18, 2009

  4. I just skimmed the CBO’s major report, “Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Care Insurance Proposals” released earlier this year.

    It is based on scientific and sociological studies cited throughout the report.

    Guess what are the two major cost-increase drivers?
    1. Advances in medical technology – new treatments made widely available for more ailments and conditions; and
    2. Aging population, which CBO says will account up to 1/3 of future rise in health care spending.

    In addition, studies (e.g. Canada and Taiwan’s experiences) show that previously uninsured people seek health services 70% more after becoming covered. That is good, obviously, but it raises costs and stresses systems. Waiting times for to get appointments “roughly doubled.”

    Both Canada and Taiwan raised reimbursment rates to hospitals and doctors in order to recruit more service providers. We, on the other hand, plan to cut rates. Studies show this may cause rural hospitals to fold and a decrease in providers, e.g., long drives.

    On preventative care measures: these help people but “it is not clear they would also reduce overall spending or federal costs.” Put simply, preventative care itself is costly and leads to more years of care, Medicare and SS payments. So preventative care improves quality of life but is not a source of cost savings.

    At least so say the studies in CBO’s report.

    Comment by K Gray | July 18, 2009

  5. On your P.S. – aren’t the Bush tax cuts already set to expire in 2010? If so, that projected revenue may already be figured into to deficit estimates.

    I don’t know; someone else might.

    Comment by K Gray | July 19, 2009

  6. The 2001 tax giveaway will run out in 2011. The 2002 tax giveaway is scheduled to lapse in 2012. The 2003 tax giveaway is scheduled to lapse in 2013. Congress may repeal the ’02 and ’03 robberies of the public treasure before then–especially restoring the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax–but I doubt this has been factored into the deficit estimates. (And there are still conflicting reports about those estimates.) They may, however, have factored in the lapse of the first tax giveaway.

    Preventive care does cut costs. That’s been shown.

    The fact is that we don’t have a money problem, but a priority problem. We always have enough money for crop supports for big agribusiness (even much of our “foreign aid” is just subsidies to big Agra). We always have enough for another war or another weapon or another tax giveaway to the wealthy. We subsidize Big Pharma’s research then let them charge whatever they want for 10 years before anyone can make generics and reduce drug costs.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 19, 2009

  7. Tax robbery! Love that one.

    Comment by K Gray | July 20, 2009

  8. I agree with President Obama that health care needs to be revamped; however,it would take Solomon in all of his wisdom to come up with a viable plan that partisan politicians can agree upon.
    I give Obama credit for addressing this issue when so many before him ignored or obfuscated it.

    Comment by Paul | July 20, 2009

  9. This will cost America the future. The plan that is envisioned will allow for more Insurance Companies – Not government ran health care – government paid for health care. This plan is idiocracy at its finest.

    Just like in Canada, England, Germany, and the list goes on and on – if it passes the government will decide who lives and dies, who gets care and who doesn’t. It will be ran on a basis to save money and not to make money. This in the end will equate a broken hospital system. Families who really want treatment will go to private pay clinics and pay to get the needed treatment, instead of waiting for months for government paid healthcare.

    It has been proposed to save money to lessen the burden, buy govenment regulation of Health Care companies. Which will in turn lessen the amount of staff needed at an office to file insurance claims and make it almost unnecessary for an office to buy expensive programming to file insurance claims. This in itself would reduce the overall cost by 40%. In addition to that put limits on certain malpractice suits – reducing again by almost 10%.

    Lets fix healthcare, but fix it in the right way.

    Comment by Eric | July 20, 2009

  10. SO you are say that profit driven health care is better Eric?It seems to me that insurance companies and hospitals are making a lot of money as is and we still have millions of Americans who have no health care. I wonder what the average Canadian, German or Englishman really feels about their health care systems.

    Comment by Paul | July 20, 2009

  11. But a significant portion of hospitals are losing money, not making a profit.

    California’s report on its hospitals (two years ago when its economy was better) showed that 1/3 of California hospitals were in the red. “The hospitals that are struggling have payer mixes that are very heavily weighted toward Medi-Cal, Medicare and indigent programs” they said.

    The overall average profit margin of Cal. hospitals was 2.6% back then, probably lower now. (And just yesterday California balanced it’s state budget by borrowing from their local economies’ property taxes!).

    Healthcare dollars probably won’t come from hospitals.

    Comment by K Gray | July 21, 2009

  12. Wow I did not read the whole article. I don’t usually block quote but here is what they said: government programs can’t survive w/o private, profit programs.

    “Medi-Cal and Medicare have a reputation for paying hospitals less than what it costs to care for a patient. That forces hospitals to make up the difference by charging higher rates for care given to patients covered by private insurers.

    “It’s not a surprise,” Scripps Health Chief Executive Chris Van Gorder said of the report’s findings. “This underlines the poor performance of government in compensating fairly for their patients.”

    “Struggling hospitals such as Scripps Memorial in Chula Vista [caring for poorer patients] continue to survive because they are subsidized by more profitable hospitals within health care systems, Van Gorder said.

    “People shouldn’t go, ‘My god, look how much money they are making at Scripps Green or at La Jolla,’ because if we weren’t making those profit margins, then Scripps Chula Vista would be closed,” he said.”

    Comment by K Gray | July 21, 2009

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