The Individual Mandate And Congress’ Right To Tax

Considering the high profile nature of the health care debate this quote has my vote for quote of the year. Period. Game over. No more need to wait for the rest of the year:

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act respond that the minimum coverage provision somehow ceases to be a tax because the new law does not use the word “tax” to describe it, but this distinction is utterly meaningless. Nothing in the Constitution requires Congress to use certain magic words to invoke its enumerated powers. And no precedent exists suggesting that a fully valid law somehow ceases to be constitutional because Congress gave it the wrong name.


If you haven’t already, I would very highly recommend that you follow the Center For American Progress’ recent analysis of the health care debate. Of particular note is their extremely detailed and interactive rebuttal to Judge Vinson’s recent decision.


What Would Healthcare Be Like If Republicans Had Their Way?

Here’s the world under Sharon Angle…(But really, you can exchange Angle’s name with any Republican.)

In her world I get a job from an employer who tells me that I’ll be “covered” by insurance company x. I have no choice, but I’m just grateful to have “insurance”.  I say ” insurance” because my six year old was diagnosed with Asthma a year ago so the insurance company refuses to cover him because he has a “pre existing condition”. Because of this any medical care he needs, has to come out of my own pocket. They also refuse to pay for things like mammograms which would have likely caught my wife’s now advanced breast cancer at an early stage increasing her slim chance of survival.

Sharon Angle believes insurance companies have the right to determine the medical procedures they cover based on their profit margins. After all the free market will empower me to make choices. But in a depressed economy with high unemployment I don’t have the luxury of choosing a job with better insurance. So here I am stuck in a world where my employer and insurance company have freedom and choice while I am stuck with neither.

Think of that on election day…

In Case You Forgot How Private Insurers Destroy The US Health Care System

Senate Majority Leader Reid provides example 1,352:

“You see, one of the largest private insurance companies in America made a lot of money last year — more than a billion dollars, in fact. Its chairman and CEO took home at least $100 million of that money himself.

“This health care company is going to make a healthy profit again this year. But its executives decided the profit they’re making isn’t quite big enough. So this multibillion-dollar company found a clever way to make sure next year’s bottom line is even bigger: it’s raising its rates.

“As you might expect, those higher premiums are going to be too expensive for many. How many? It could be as many as 650,000 people.

“That’s more than the entire populations of North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. It’s more than the entire populations of Baltimore and Boston and Denver and Seattle. How many people is this one company willing to drop? You could count every man, woman and child in Las Vegas and still have almost 100,000 people left over.

“But here’s the worst part: That shocking estimate comes directly from the president of the company himself. The means the company devised this strategy, crunched the numbers and saw how many American families it was going to hurt. Then the bosses shrugged their shoulders and decided to go ahead with it anyway.”

And it’s not the first time:

American Medical News, which first reported the story, noted that this is not the first time the insurance giant has cut the rolls in an effort to boost profit margins. “As chronicled in a 2004 article in Health Affairs by health economist James C. Robinson, MD, PhD, Aetna completely overhauled its business between 2000 and 2003, going from 21 million members in 1999 down to 13 million in 2003, but boosting its profit margin from about 4% to higher than 7%.

Just a little food for thought to chew on the next time you ask yourself if, the very popular, public option is a necessary part of health care reform.

Health Care Reform And The Innovation Myth

For anyone who’s worried about the alleged drop in innovation that will occur in the pharmaceutical industry if the United States implements a universal health care system, this interview with with Dr. Jerry Avon is a must read.

This part is worth highlighting in particular:

But let’s go back to the basic economics for a second. How can it not be the case that if profits go down, incentives for innovation won’t follow? How can that be wrong?

It’s not true for a few reasons. One is that the amount of really good science you get for your drug dollar is even less than the 15 percent I mentioned before, because that 15 percent also includes the development of me-too drugs. That’s one aspect of the answer. We are not getting that much drug innovation for our dollar at present.

But perhaps a better answer is that if we want innovation and scientific discovery we should fund innovation and scientific discovery, not go after it bass-ackwards by paying too much for overpriced drugs and hoping that some of the excess profit will trickle down into innovative research. If I’m right that a lot of the important and useful innovation comes from NIH studies, then the way to get more innovation is to fund innovation. It frankly would be a far more interesting use of any given dollar one wanted to spend.

An even better question that should be asked is : Why should sick Americans subsidize artificially low drug prices for Europeans?

Seems kind of socialist if you ask me…

Politics Over People: The Republicans Playing Deadly Game on Health Care Reform

This is your modern day Republican party:

Conservative leaders will push delay any vote on health care reform until after the August recess to capitalize on what they say is a growing tide of opposition to reform measures, they said on a conference call with “tea party” participants today.

“I can almost guarantee you this thing won’t pass before August, and if we can hold it back until we go home for a month’s break in August,” members of Congress will hear from “outraged” constituents, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said on the call, which was organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights.

“Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people,” DeMint predicted, adding that “this health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America.”

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” he said.

Republicans delay health care reform meanwhile sick people die, children go without necessary treatment, and small businesses continue to crumble under the weight of rapidly growing health care costs. I wish this was hyperbole but sadly its a grim reality.

But I wish I could say that I’m surprised by the GOP’s usage of obscure political tricks to block health care reform. Despite popular support from the majority of Americans and their concession during last year’s election that health care reform was important, Conservatives are sticking to their bread and butter…not small government and free markets, no they don’t actually support those. I’m talking about shady tactics used to delay, hold, and filibuster any legislation looking to  address the need of the average American. (Instead of the special interests who pour millions dollars into Republican campaign coffers.)

Of course, a lot of people would will probably respond with some prepacked conservative talking point about how “socialized medicine” is horrible or the high costs of the democratic plan.  But that misses the point. Aside from the obvious facts those rhetorical musings  get wrong, democrats aren’t proposing a socialized health care reform and their plan is deficit neutral, the real focus of Republican’s demagoguery should be on the conservative alternative.

…oh wait… there isn’t one.

And therein lies the real problem with the Republican party’s strategy. It isn’t their policies or, and I emphasize, alleged support of  “conservative” principles. The problem is the fact that the Republican strategy on health care reform, like many other important issues, is to to avoid the issue altogether. In other words: 1) admit that the issue needs to be solved while emphasizing that it needs to be done “right” 2)  attack the proposals being offered by democrats 3) Demagogue, delay, and filibuster proposed bill in order to kill it 4) High five each other and pound their chests once the bill is killed and the issue has been tabled for future considerations, ie never.

That might be a good way of accomplishing short term political gains but its an even better way of sitting around and watching as American society crumbles.

If Socialized Medicine Is So Bad, Why Do Republicans Use It?

If you have any doubts about my previous post regarding the power of simplicity in politics, Congressman Sanders from Vermont nails the point home. “If socialized medicine and single payer health care are so bad, why aren’t Republicans trying to get rid of it?

Dear Senator McCain,

My name is Bernie Sanders. I’m a Congressman from Vermont.

And I now own your soul


Congressman Bernie Sanders

I’d add one more point. If socialized medicine is so bad, why do conservative politicians use the government provided health care benefits given to all members of Congress?