Lo, I received a response to my email to Mary Landrieu on health care “reform.” Ah, it took a week, but hey, Congress is busy working weekends. Whether this is written to me or is the boiler plate is not known. However, in a spirit of public concern expressed by Ms. Landrieu, and a community activist spirit touted by the president and his fair lady, let me respond to each and every sentence in this missive to me. Ah, such wonders to behold. My comments in italics for your convenience.
I did not voice my “Concerns” — I voiced my opposition, my NO, my DON’T DO THIS! Concern is such a weak word given my adamant opposition to the health care taxation act masquerading as “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
The bill is currently being debated and amended on the Senate floor and your perspective is valuable as we move forward.
Our Advocate said that the bill is being discussed by 10 senators meeting behind closed doors into which Landrieu is locked. That is hardly “on the Senate Floor” as the term might be defined by a reasonable person. “And amended”? Each Amendment offered by the Republicans has been defeated. There are apparently no new amendments whatsoever being seriously considered, other than complete rewrites of the deals made behind locked doors.
After a thorough review, I believe there are significant reforms and safeguards in this bill that demonstrate some important progress in the right direction.
Well, yes, then Ms. Landrieu – the bill is not going in the right direction as I indicated to you in my plea for you to vote NO. There are no significant reforms, there is complete rewriting so as to further obfuscate the situation. “Safeguards” for whom? If the bill is passed the very country will be unguarded and unsafe. Who is being safeguarded? And how do We the People safeguard ourselves against this monster?
However, much more work needs to be done before I can support the bill.
First, allow me to elaborate on the components of the Senate bill that signal important and needed change.
Well, yes, please do.
To begin, small businesses would no longer be confronted with extreme and volatile cost increases.
Well, if small businesses were not involved in health care, about which they could no little, then there would be no “extreme and volatile cost increases” — and that, ma’am, is reform! But what other areas of small business operations does Congress now see itself so concerned about that it would prevent the confrontation of extreme and volatile costs? I wonder if the extreme increase in costs due to the taxation required to pay for the bill will also be addressed. Certainly they will not be volatile, for the taxes would be permanent, and I suppose that such certainty is a good thing to avoid volatility.
Given that health is both unstable by the logic of requiring it, and is unpredictable until it can be deduced what is the matter, it is impossible to create stable and predictable costs for health care. If you predict costs, and make them stable, that would require rationing of some sort, or perhaps it could be called ‘careful allocation’ to avoid the bad word of “rationing.” That would be to keep the costs stable and predictable to the penny.
Well, yes, perhaps. But I’m also sure that many entrepreneurs told her that their financial viability has been threatened by skyrocketing tax increases too, but she is not going to propose a “Taxpayer Protection and Affordable Tax Act, now is she? I doubt it. I would support it though, so hop to it M’lady.
This bill prevents insurance companies from hiking up rates or dropping coverage after an employee gets sick.
Well, that means that they would have the same income to cover more costs. That results in either rationing someone else’s care or in lowering the quality for all, or going bankrupt. But now, once again, suppose the insurance companies are the evil meanies implied. Wouldn’t it be best to just remove them from the equation by letting people keep their own money in their own accounts so they can buy their own healthcare as they need it? That would be a triple win: 1. small businesses no longer have to worry about any healthcare costs whatsoever. 2. No one would have to protect us from insurance companies. 3. If we did not need the amount of healthcare that we predicted we’d have our own money for other silly things in our life that we might like.
That crucial change will allow small businesses owners to do what they do best – plan smart investments, expand their businesses, and help us revive our economy – without incurring massive debt related to health costs.
How would preventing insurance companies from dropping employees possibly help “plan smart investments, expand their businesses and help us revive our economy”? The one is unrelated to the latter three. And if the healthcare is to be given, and not paid for by small business (which don’t, insurance does) without incurring debt, who will pay the costs? Why, the Federal Government. And do the Feds will incur the massive debt and pass that along to the small businesses in the form of new taxes and also in debased currency. Such wisdom of our times. If you move the debt fast enough from one sector of the economy to the next why you might lose it in the speed of things and never have to pay it. But if you merely shift it from one entity to another then the massive debt is still there. And if the Feds take it on they will merely get the money from the small businesses that have been freed from their own massive debt. However, if people kept their own money they would drive down costs because there would be no tax code compliance costs, and no insurance middle man profits, and once people see what they are spending they might be better able to predict what their costs will be and how they can make them stable as they see fit.
A second important component of the Senate bill is that it encourages employers to move away from high-cost benefit plans that overburden the healthcare system.
Ah yes, move away from high cost plans. To low cost plans. With the same services? If not, that’s just got to be less quality in health care. If so, then the principle of supply and demand would kick in and people making decisions with their own money would drive down costs through avoiding high priced services that could be obtained at a lower cost. That’s what Walmart does. Why we’d all be mini-Wally. But if people kept their own money imagine how much better we’d be able to institute the free market wonder of supply and demand, and drive down costs even lower. Why not encourage, then, to move employees away from high cost benefit systems to low costs benefit systems, as people who shop at Wal-Mart are very adept at doing.
As for “overburdening” the healthcare system, the only part that is overburdened is the publicly financed part which is financed by debt and a ponzi scheme. But there is no way to “overburden” a portion of the economy by buying the same amount at a lower cost. Or more at a lower cost. Or more at the same cost. In fact, more of the same at the same cost is called growth. Growth leads to better jobs, richer people, more money, — why, exactly what one would expect in an economy. Though, if you just let anyone go to get healthcare for “free” then you will indeed overburden healthcare. Let’s imagine, for second, that clothes are paid for by insurance through your employer. Then if the clothes are free, and no one can charge more for more clothes, why don’t you think that more people will get more free clothes, truly overburdening the system? Of course it would. Just look at a store when the 50% sale comes on – they are overburdening with shoppers seeking the best bargains. And that’s with their own money. Imagine if they got to shop with someone elses? Why, the overburden might be very unstable and unpredictable indeed.
By allowing employers to spend less on healthcare and more on employee wages, economists estimate that this change will directly result in a take-home wage increase for working American families- by as much as $700 per household in 2019.
Ah, the trick in this treat. Healthcare cost are not a part of taxable benefits. And employee wages are taxable. So if you cut the untaxed benefit and move that to the taxed wages, why, that would be a “tax hike.” A tax hike is certainly more affordable, right? Each household which would get this new $700 in 2019 – which is a quite piddly amount 10 years from now, hardly enough to buy a new energy saving fridge – and immediately be subject to the 25% to 35% taxes that $700 would be subject to. And that’s why it is not protecting patients, nor making anything more affordable, but is indeed Healthcare Taxation.
Now, suppose, for the sake of argument, that the $700 is not subject to taxes. How is moving $700 from healthcare costs in insurance and employee costs to $700 that will be spent on the healthcare no longer provided in the insurance and employee costs going to help? It will merely put the $700 in a new accounting column. It is still $700. The amount is, um, very stable and predictable, indeed. And if the $700 is not in shifted healthcare costs than presumably that is less healthcare, which is opposite to what the reform is for. Or the portion no longer covered by that $700 is now going to be rationed by whomever has less money to spend on it, which is less, which, Landrieu is saying here, is more. Yes, less is more when it comes to healthcare reform.
A third important change included in the Senate bill will strengthen Medicare for 653,000 Louisiana seniors, by providing free preventive treatment under Medicare.
Ah, Landrieu voted to cut 450 billion out of Medicare. So how is that going to offer more to all those seniors? Not to mention a new class of under-seniors, namely those older than 55 but less than the current eligibility age of 65. So more people will be served with less money. This is good. This is reform in our times. This is not rationing. And – it’s FREE! Yes, and all the while the insurance companies pay less in taxes due to the reduction of their business, and companies will pay less to cover this, and taxpayers will get another $700 in their pockets. So whose going to pay for this free stuff? Or will the Feds merely go more massively into debt, until they tax everything until the whole thing collapses? Hard to say.
Beneficiaries will receive free preventive procedures such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
Ah, so now there’s to be more healthcare without any increase in costs. Indeed, lowered costs, as it implied by Landrieu through out. So now more is less. More healthcare for less money. Right. Like more food at even the discounts at WalMart for less money. Yes, that’s the ticket.
Additionally, the Senate bill improves care for Medicare patients by incentivizing doctors to coordinate care with other doctors and hospitals.
“Incentivizing”? What kind of verb is this? Incentivize? Why, we get new words with healthcare reform, too, so wondrous it is. And somehow this will improve care for Medicare patients by “made up word doctors to coordinate care with other doctors and hospitals.” Huh? What on earth does it even mean? I can divine the meaning of Incentivize, which is, of course, “offer incentives,” or “induce,” “cajole,” “force,” “make known to,” “encourage,” “help,” “assist,” and numerous others. But those are old words, worn out from overusage apparently. Far better to Incentivize. I was incentivized to write this because of the more words for less meaning provided for by the Word Protection and Affordable Neologism Act, no doubt.
Though one also wonders how one doctor saying “go to another doctor for a second opinion and let me know what he says so we don’t do the wrong thing” is going to cut costs. Nor does it address the fact that it seems the doctors are um, incentivized to coordinate care by the threat of healthcare litigation that we are not going to be protected from in this taxation bill.
Above all, the bill makes sure the Medicare program is around for generations to come by extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by at least 5 years and laying the groundwork for a more sustainable health system.
Giggle, laugh, chortle – what is the word? Hmm, Yes the word to describe: “around for generations to come by extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund” … FIVE YEARS! Five years is generations to come indeed, for fruit flies and Monarch Butterflies. Even glow worms and slugs. But people? Nah, a generation minimally is twenty years as said by genealogists. Mabye 15 if it is the generations of those on welfare in New Orleans, now three generations and a major hurricane removed from Landrieu’s father as mayor. Still, she’s got to be kidding no? Generations to come is five years? No wonder the budget of the United States is unfathomable, the lady in charge can’t count.
Not to mention that in 2000 pages of reform that is urgent to the point of weekend session interrupted only by fundraising jaunts to cities not in your own state is only “laying the groundwork for a more sustainable healthcare system.” Still, once again, M’lady doth confuse who has the problem with sustainability. The feds who can’t run the system, can’t pay for it, can’t conceive of how it works, don’t know what might be effective, and in general muck things up, is the one having problem with sustainability. The living, breathing, blood filled people requiring healthcare have no such problem with sustaining their healthcare, except to the degree that they are stripped of their wealth to pay for it by those who can’t fathom how to run it but still manage time to incentivize people.
Well, my, why this percentage? Why not ust 5%! Why not 1%? Hell, why not make it all Free! Nothing is so affordable as Free after all. And who on earth is Congress to decide that “the majority” of Louisiana’s families should pay this amount and no more? And what is the minority going to pay? More or less? And how can Congress who can’t figure out that a generation is more than five years possibly incentivize ensuring that this is the right amount. Suppose you needed to pay 20% of your income for healthcare, or wished to, are you to be prevented? Or taxed on the overusage? Are you to be incentivized to keep your costs to this amount? Through rationing? Through simply forgoing the healthcare all together? In fact, if no one got any healthcare services at all, why think of the sustainable, predictable, stable, lowered healthcare costs we’d have.
How does she know what people are spending on healthcare? Is Landrieu looking into our private healthcare files? And so what? The odd thing is, if we lower our healthcare spending we will get a boost in other spending. Say on housing. And now the peril will be that we are spending 50% on our housing, while before, when we paid 30% for healthcare and 30% for housing, now that is reversed. So will Congress then get all in a lather and decide that paying 50% of our income on the housing that we want is bad? And so we shall get the House Living Protection and Affordable Housing Act? By taking on the responsibility for something that is not its business, Congress is setting itself up to insinuate ourselves into every other aspect of our lives. Then it will come to pass that Congress shall incentivize us to not spend more than 10% on any aspect of our lives as we choose. To do so they can of course just tax our money away from overburdening and overusing the system.
If Congress does not act, economists estimate that total could climb to 60% of an average family’s income by 2016.
Which economists? My economist tells me that if Congress passes this bill the total cost for an average family’s income will go through the roof. In fact, it is Congress itself which has so skewed the system to create unnecessary costs that it is the cause of nearly all the increase in unsustainable spending. No one is really getting more healthcare than they ever got. It is Congress that was passing laws in great rushes of abandoned responsibility to make us spend all sorts of money on things which we neither need nor want. My economist is named Adam Smith, I think Landrieus is named Karl Marx, but I am not sure, for she does not provide. I wonder how I might incentivize her to do so?
This bill changes that trajectory.
Yes, well, it changes the trajectory like the Captain of the Titanic changed his, just before he hit the iceberg of reality.
I … can’t … go …. on, exhausted and deincentivized from commenting further on the mush to come… so just jump down to the last sentence in this paragraph.
Finally, I feel compelled to comment on an important provision which I included in the Senate bill in order help Governor Jindal address a serious budget shortfall confronting our state. The budget shortfall is related in part to an impending decrease in the Federal government’s share of the Louisiana’s Medicaid expenditures. The Federal share of Medicaid expenses is based on a formula that takes into account per capita income. Ordinarily, the formula works fairly well. But what the Federal government could not have foreseen were the massive changes to Louisiana’s economy caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Some of the necessary one-time recovery dollars, in addition to the increased economic activity from rebuilding, were calculated into our state’s income average. As a result, Louisiana’s average income level was abnormally inflated, and the state is now facing a bill for hundreds of millions. That is why I fought for the funding necessary to prevent our state budget from breaking. The fix was explicitly requested by Governor Jindal and unanimously supported by our congressional delegation, Democrat and Republican.
AH HA! So Vitter is not Tested, as the Advocate said he was just yesterday Dec 10th 2009, but instead is on board with Landrieu. Meaning that either Our Advocate the press or our Advocate the Senator is telling a fib of some sort. I cannot be sure. I’d say both of ‘em, but I’m biased.
I am proud to have fought for -and secured-the inclusion of the provision in this preliminary version of the Senate bill.
Nothing like securing the provision in preliminary things when the whole bill should be scrapped and started over. No, actually, not started over, just do nothing and get out of the way, until someone with a little bit more sense gets into office.
However, just because this fix was included, it does not guarantee that I can support the final bill.
Yes, well, like John Kerry on Iraq, you’ll vote for something you’ll vote against later on. Such incentives!
That decision will be based upon my assessment of whether this bill improves the healthcare system for Louisianians.
It cannot improve the system. You cannot craft a 2000 page melange of mangy bureaucrats upon a system and come up with anything better. It defies logic and reason.
The reforms I have outlined above were too important for the Senate to abandon its work.
No, the reforms outlined above is proof positive, and not even incentivizing, to indeed abandon this work, until you can all be replaced by someone with a clue.
Still, there is more work that needs to be done.
No, do nothing. Really, I insist. Take a seat. Relax. Sleep.
Let me be clear about my top priorities as we move forward:
Oh geez, so you still want to incentivize me to vote against you.
” Reducing costs for patients, small businesses, and the government.
Congress cannot reduce costs. It can merely shift them, hide them, make someone else pay for them, incur debt to pay them and in general only raise them. You guys proved it a zillion times already, why is this time different?
How can I incentivize you to do nothing?
Enhanced Aid for Small Businesses.
That is lowering taxes, M’lady, not increasing them.
Tax cuts should be made permanent. Tax elimination is sustainable.
Small businesses are leading the country out of this recession and I am committed to helping them in that effort. “
Ah, healthcare as recession buster. My my, great wonders of legislation. Lord knows what could be accomplished in 3000 pages of new laws.
Competitive Community Option. I remain concerned that the so called “public option” could shift significant risks to taxpayers over time.
Well, no, it “couldn’t” — it only “Would!” The public is the taxpayer, and if you shift the option to the public than the taxpayer has to take on the risks of the system you incentivize us with.
A better alternative would be a “Competitive Community Option” that would trigger only if insurance companies fail to provide a choice of affordable options.
And insurance companies will fail if you don’t let them charge what they need to cover their payouts. Well, so glad you cleared that up. And isn’t a “community” the same as “the people” or “the taxpayers.” Or is the community of taxpayers not to pay for what the taxpayers as a community will receive?
I am hopeful the Senate can make progress on each of these concerns.
I hope you all just resign and save the nation, but I’m cranky most of the time.
I am dedicated to fashioning a principled compromise to ensure that whatever Congress does will lower costs to families, small businesses and the nation.
No, you are not. The only principle that would ensure the outcome you claim you want is if you all just got the hell out of the way. But you do not propose that at all.
Sincerely, Jim Hlavac, United States Citizen