Tuesday, May 29, 2007

1993-1994 IS NOT 2009-2010

Several times on this blog I have posited that, after the war strategy is defined by all accounts this fall, Health Care Reform will be the domestic issue that will elect the next President of the United States of America.

I have been called naive by highly respected experts from government,academia, and the non-profit "think tank" sectors. Even some close intelligent friends said I was dreaming? I have been called naive for "not understanding the political process". (Did I not witness the failure of the Clintons in 1993-1994?)Called naive for "not understanding that not enough of the US middle class is dissatisfied with our current Health Care system?"-an apparent prerequisite for change.Called naive for "not understanding that one cannot mess easily with the $2 trillion dollar plus US disease care sector without major economic dislocations to the US economy". That this MUST be very incremental?

Yet here is my answer. As I say in my blog title 1993-1994 IS NOT 2009-2010. Much has changed in the intervening 15 years- and for the worse-much worse! While the well intentioned but mismanaged Clinton plan failed,the collective rage against Big Insurance and Big PhRMA is growing rapidly as are legal actions against them. Credible polls consistently report Health Care Reform as a priority for most Americans. All the Democratic Presidential candidates have spoken often individually and when assembled in forums or debates on health care.

Furthermore "three stars recently aligned" for me (no-I am not an advocate of astrology) to make me believe that perhaps I just might be correct about the ripeness of this health care issue.

First the head of the US GAO Comptroller General David Walker appeared on 60 Minutes recently predicting an economic "tsunami" if politicians did not act on Medicare "yesterday"!

Secondly a sober and intelligent yet muckraking filmaker Michael Moore appeared on comedic but smart pundit Bill Mahar's popular TV show just last week to talk about his new movie SICKO which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival a few weeks ago. Mahar who viewed the entire movie said that the it could very well be the tipping point for the Health Care Reform issue after it is released this late June in the US. And get this- Moore said his movie was well received in Cannes by both Democrats and Republican types.(Moore even had some preventive medicine advice for his mid-western type couch potatoe brothers and sisters as it relates to advocating "any mild exercise and discovering fruits and vegetables" which has personally helped Moore himself lose weight)

Finally the too long awaited details of the "electric presidential candidate" Senator Barack Obama's Health Care Reform plan were released today in Iowa City,Iowa as reported by THE NEW YORK TIMES. Obama did not mince words when he laid the blame for our failed US health care system at the feet of Big Insurance and Big PhRMA-deservedly so I would personally add. Obama said that similar efforts to create universal coverage were "crushed under the weight of Washington politics and drug and insurance industry lobbying". Obama then went on to say "This cannot be one of those years" GO BARACK!

But if you disagree with me you can listen to the Republican Presidential candidates who are almost embarassingly and tragically silent on this issue with the exception of former Sec.of HHS Tommy Thomson whose incompetence contributed to the problem in the first place. Or you can listen to those phoney TV ads about the "success" of Medicare part D -enhanced drug coverage for US seniors-which by some other accounts ranks up there as one of the worst pieces of legislation passed by Congress in decades-Passed literally in the middle of the night only after intense -some say unethical- swarms of lobbying by the Pharmaceutical Industry. PhRMA CEO, former Louisiana Congressman, Billy Tauzin (current salary at $2 million/year)gloated and boasted of this venal victory calling it "the way politics works" (some are calling for investigations)

So I ask -Am I naive? or not? Let me know? I need and value your input.

Dr. Rick Lippin


Blogger Ben said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:02 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Are you being naive? Yes and no, yes your being naive but it isn't about the seriousness of this matter. Yes, health-care is without a doubt the biggest problem facing America now and into the future. So if your being naive about anything its your faith in politicians to serve the people.

I have no doubt that the Democrats can win 08 just by mentioning health-care (or just by being democrats for that matter). The problem is whether they actually do anything about it, and when they do whether its just another stop-gap. I seriously doubt that anyone in Washington, republican or Democrat posses the political will to actually tackle this issue. Of course if we had people who actually gave a damn and had guts in Washington we wouldn't be in the mess in the first place.

More or less, this is a problem that has been building for a long time coming and will build some more before anything is done. If anyone is to blame its the American people for standing by as politicians do as they please with only enough public service to look good. We've tolerated incompetence or simply turned a blind eye to it, favoring one party over what they're suppose to stand for than what they actually do, and just because we don't like the other guys. Indeed the only true accountability we have for these people is voting them out of office, though that really isn't much if the next bunch of jokers isn't much better because they don't have to be (to win that is). Not that I'm saying we should all just give up, because we still have no right to complain if we don't intend to do anything about it. Its just that there is a definitive reason why we've ended up like this, and why a solution to such a problem wont be soon.

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Rick Lippin said...


We certainly have been burned before. I am amazed at the breadth of the coaltions forming to act on health care from consumer groups, to politicians on both sides of the aisle and big business is also joining the chorus.

Everyone seems to be ganging up on Big Insurance in particular. I see rough sledding for them very soon.

Also I see Big PhRMA on the ropes too with some CEOs ending up in jail.

Rick Lippin

7:34 PM  
Blogger Jack Lohman said...

Rick, excellent blog. FYI here is a piece I recently wrote on the issue....

Who Needs Terrorists When We Have Politicians?

By Jack E. Lohman

How many more uninsured Wisconsinites must die before our politicians get out of the pockets of the insurance industry and fix our health care crisis?

Sorry to be so blunt, but that is exactly what is happening today. Over $1.4 million per year in campaign contributions flows from the health care and insurance industries that want to keep the status quo. Inefficiency breeds profits, and they want the profits to continue.

Hundreds of thousands in campaign dollars come from the banking and credit card industries that benefit from health savings accounts -- that incidentally are great for wealthy investors but terrible for patients and families in need of care. Worse, HSAs will ultimately help drive up health care costs as they keep patients away from care until it is more expensive to treat or becomes untreatable. Be careful of what you wish for.

A million more in campaign dollars from the bankruptcy attorneys that also like things just as they are, with over half of all bankruptcies involving exorbitant health care debt.

And all of this because campaign contributors are willing to share their profits with the politicians that make it all happen, and the Pols that are willing to oblige. What a wonderful world.

Will it ever end?

Not just the deadly health care crisis, but also the political corruption that sustains it. When are politicians going to say enough is enough, and do what is right for the public?

A single-payer health care system would be a windfall for businesses, the state's economy and our citizens. Perhaps the insurance companies will have to make their profits elsewhere, as will the bankruptcy attorneys, bankers and credit card companies. But with a stronger Wisconsin economy there will be plenty of opportunity for that.

We now have three health care proposals, all designed to satisfy a certain constituency. But only one is aimed toward all citizens and away from the insurance bureaucracy that is consuming 31% of health care dollars without ever spending a penny on direct health care.

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and that's exactly what Sen. Mark Miller and Rep. Chuck Benedict do with the Health Security Act (SB51/AB94). A small additional payroll tax for employers eliminates the 10-15% they currently spend on healthcare benefits, and a small additional payroll tax for employees eliminates costs of co-pays, deductibles, dental, vision, and scores of other expenses.

This should be called the Improved Medicare-for-all system, because it's modeled after Medicare, the only part of our health care system that does function efficiently. Yes, Medicare currently costs more per capita, because it covers almost exclusively seniors and end-of-lifers. But fold in the younger, healthier population and the average becomes lower than our current system. U.S. Rep. John Conyers' proposed HR676 at the federal level does the same.

If you are hung up over the government's involvement, get over it. There are some things best left to the government to fund. Fire and police protection, building public roads, and funding health care are just a few. Political campaigns are another, but that's a story for a different day.

Or maybe not. If you pay taxes you experience on a daily basis the costs of privately funded campaigns. Outrageous health care is just one of them.

Where are the non-healthcare business leaders on this? Many with their heads in the sand. They are trying to reduce costs in this so-called "free market" system, all while turning their heads when their fellow healthcare businesses pick their pocket. Their business associations that claim both as members, are siding with the insurers and actually selling their insurance to members.

Where's Business Ethics 101 when you really need it?

-- Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate and operates for www.ThrowTheRascalOut.org. He authored "Politicians - Owned and Operated by Corporate America" and can be reached at jlohman@execpc.com.

source: http://wisopinion.com/index.iml?mdl=article.mdl&article=8177

7:00 AM  
Anonymous IndieRN said...

You are neither crazy nor naive.Let's throw this out: On midnight 1/1/2011 Boomers will begin to turn 65 at a rate of 1 person every 7.1 SECONDS. That will continue for 13 years and reach 75.8 million new seniors. No one has legacy employer health care in the boomer gen. They will all go on Medicare with or without a supplement. As Jack pointed out Medicare is already paying out more than it takes in due to the age bracket it serves.
I don't pretend to know exactly what will happen, but the system will overload by 2013 or so. The only short way around the dilemma would be, as Jack suggests, to open Medicare up to healthy, younger Americans and balance the pool.
Will that happen? Will Obama get elected? Will we be visited by Aliens that have miracle technology to cure all of our societal woes?? Stay tuned for next week's exciting adventure!!!!

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Rick Lippin said...

Thanks Jack and IndieRN

I hope you visit here and comment often

The release of Moore's movie SICKO on 29 June will be real boost for us!

Rick Lippin

3:31 PM  

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