August 4, 2014

Bad Day for Liberty

The reality is the price to society is now too high to offer a blank check to anyone. The entire country has a stake in finding the pricing levels that support innovation without threatening the affordability and accessibility of the U.S. health-care system. That's the solution that health plans are working with drug manufacturers and health-care providers every day to deliver.
The author is Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, a trade association with 1,300 member companies. The "blank check" is intellectual property protection for a firm that discovers a cure for a gruesome disease and can jump through all the government's gruesome hoops to offer it. Ms. Ignagni sees a different role:
The challenge here is that drug makers are given years of exclusivity for their innovation. With some of these new treatments, there is no competition, only monopolies protected by the government.

With this amount of government protection, it is reasonable to ask for transparency in the relationship between the price of a drug and the cost of its development


If the government is protecting your property rights, surely it can set your prices.

In energy news, Rep. Jared Polis (Bazillionaire, CO-2) has come to agreement with Governor John Hickenlooper. Instead of a statewide plebiscite to decide whether the property rights of mineral holders would be eviscerated, a Congressman and a Governor have agreed to a back room deal to see whether the property rights of mineral holders will be eviscerated. Jon Caldara points out that this is a big step forward for the industry which can manage a compromise but was not comfortable putting all its chips on a single vote.

But for liberty lovers, it's a bad deal.

UPDATE: Denver Post story

Posted by John Kranz at 5:30 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Your Polis/Hickenlooper news reminds me of a definition of democracy I heard once: two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 4, 2014 7:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"With some of these new treatments, there is no competition, only monopolies protected by the government."

But my dear Ms. Ignagni, without government protecting the right of drug makers to profit from their innovation, THERE WOULD BE NO NEW TREATMENTS. Is this, in your mind, a preferred sort of monopoly? The monopoly of nothingness?

--

This whole business of deals, compromises and pulling ballot measures seems to contain a metric shitton of smoke and mirrors. While the sponsors of ballot measures claim they withdraw their support, ballot organizers proceeded to submit all their petitions to the Secretary of State for validation yesterday. So are they pulling the measures or not? We may not know for another month or so. In the meantime, it's looking like an old fashioned game of high-stakes "chicken."

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2014 3:50 PM

July 12, 2014

You guys laughed....

I long ago suggested a concierge clinic in Puerto Vallarta where physicians could escape the ravages of ObamaCare® and patients could escape the FDA. The political and security situation in Mexico has improved considerably since then and it might be time.

Meanwhile, Need an MRI? Get it in Mexico

Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2014

Great Idea on Health Care!

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Steve House has just jumped into first place. In the polls, I think he is seventh or eighth -- have not looked today -- but this singularly awesome idea shows that he is the candidate for me.

I had the good fortune of meeting him at Liberty on the Rocks Flatirons (and you required another data point?) and knew he was from the Heath Care industry.

I had suggested, many moons ago on these pages, that I should open a clinic in Puerto Vallarta to hire mal-effected medical personnel and offer patients freedom from ObamaCare and the FDA within a short plane ride. This was at a height of violence in that area and it seemed ill advised.

House suggests the same could be done in sovereign nations on Indian reservations.

Patients wouldn't go to such facilities for a sore throat -- most Colorado residents live hours away from the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in the southwest corner of the state. But House said reservations everywhere might benefit from "medical tourism" involving some procedures that constitute a fast-growing industry overseas.

House said patients seeking care at the unregulated facilities would likely need to sign a liability waiver before seeking care. He plans to engage people with knowledge of Indian reservations business and protocols.


Genius! I considered a flippant line like "They could pick up some untaxed cigarettes and do a bit of gambling while they wait for lab results," but thought better of it. This is a serious and very good idea.

UPDATE:
steve_house.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Nice try. Thanks for playing 'We're from the government and we're here to help.' Better luck next time.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2014 6:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The "sovereign nations on Indian reservations" don't fare any better down Constitution Avenue at the IRS, thus scuttling my personal idea for a "free-trade zone" on the Rez.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2014 7:08 PM
But AndyN thinks:

The FDA considers Indian Reservations to be possessions of the United States...

I have no idea whether it's ever been tested in court, but I have a feeling that if the law actually said that reservations are possessions of the US for FDA purposes, the FDA would have said so explicitly instead of telling us what they consider them to be.

Posted by: AndyN at April 8, 2014 10:06 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That's all well and good AndyN, but I think our friend and gubernatorial candidate may as well advocate that Colorado establish a colony on the moon.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2014 6:56 PM

March 25, 2014

Have I told you the wonders of beer?

One of the most memorable stops during my 2001 trip to the Austria and Southern Germany was Andechs Monastery, not far from Munich. Occasionally I visit their web site and on a previous visit I found this page on the health benefits of beer. A few highlights:

According to studies in Finland and Italy, the moderate and regular consumption of beer (0.5 l/day) reduces the risk of kidney stones by 40%.

Beer, by the way, is not the cause of the so called beer belly. The beer’s constituents of hops, alcohol, and carbonic acid whet the appetite. Pils itself contains fewer calories than orange and other fruit juices.

Beer has also proved an effective preventive against osteoporosis.

Beer is also important in the fight against cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks).

Beer also has preventive effects on ischaemic strokes because alcohol, as described above, apparently thins the blood.

According to yearlong studies, moderate and regular beer consumption enhances life expectancy.

These studies have confirmed that a moderate beer consumption reduces the risk of senile dementia by up to 50%.

And of course there's the added benefit, it's delicious!

And, I learned something else this visit - several Andechs beers are now available in the U.S.! I'll be contacting S&H Independent Premium Brands soon to inquire about my favorite brew, Special Hell (basically the helles or pils.) They are, wait for it - on Wynkoop Street in Denver. Pinch me!

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:30 PM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Prosst!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 25, 2014 6:02 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee has a former colleague, an English gentleman some years his senior, who told the story of growing up in wartime England near a tire factory. About 20 years after the war, workers in tire factory experienced a high incidence of bladder cancer from exposure to some of the tire-making materials. However, they found that workers who had consumed 2+ pints of beer per day had a very low incidence of bladder cancer. Which mainly serves to tell wives to get off their husband's backs for stopping by the pub after work.

The Refugee is planning to conduct a similar experiment to ward off any potential harmful effects from long-term exposure to horse manure. He'll let you know in 20 years.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 25, 2014 6:13 PM
But jk thinks:

I remarked in the UK that one of my favorite things was everyone's bringing their dogs into the pub.

My host, incredulous, said "that's why everybody in England has a dog -- time for a walk!"

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2014 7:30 PM
But loni thinks:


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Posted by: loni at April 3, 2014 5:13 AM

February 7, 2014

'Why Government Healthcare Sucks' For Dummies

From ObamaCare Disaster May Deliver Mortal Blow To Liberalism by Scott S. Powell in IBD.

What the Democratic Party's effort to remake one-sixth of the economy in restructuring health care delivery has totally ignored is the vital role of entrepreneurial input, individual choice and the free flow of information, which are at the heart of delivering quality and low cost in every industry.

It turns out that it is the entrepreneurial drive and the pursuit of excellence, rather than government mandates, that compel doctors to deliver quality care to their patients.

And most of the treatment breakthroughs and cost-efficient solutions in health care come not from government but from medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies driven by entrepreneurs.

What motivates medical professionals to deliver better care?

A - More income derived from more satisfied patients
B - Accolades from a grateful public
C - Knowledge that the lives you save may well be those of friends or loved ones
D - Because the HHS Director says to do so, while cutting your compensation in the process

Pencils down.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2014

Mickey Kaus vs. The Irish Model

Mickey Kaus is a bright guy. He was one of the first bloggers I regularly read. I sent him a few bucks in his quixotic primary campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer (Satanic Minions - CA). Insty still links to his populist immigration rants; both the articles and the approbational linking sadden me. But I am learning to live with it.

He has a guest editorial in the WSJ today that exposes a populism which extends beyond immigration policy. He seeks an equality more of stature than of income. He seems -- mostly -- ready to ignore big CEO salaries and larger Gini coefficients as long as we do not truly become a two--tiered society.

The parts I'm accusing of populism include a resignation to diminished opportunity for much of the population. The smartypantses will be Google billionaires, but the hoi polloi will not find meaningful work. What many propagate as the New Normal becomes New Dickensian in Kaus's capable prose. I call shenanigans, but we're both predicting the future -- aside from a Seahawks victory in #SBLXVIII I offer wide latitude in the art of prognosticating.

He ends with a striking comment, suggesting that ObamaCare "fixes" will usher in a new disparity.

The draft isn't coming back anytime soon. But the great social egalitarian hope--mine, anyway--was that Mr. Obama's health plan might perform a similar function, offering the poor and middle class the same care, in the same hospitals, with the same doctors--and the same respect--that the affluent get (much as Medicare already does).

The tragedy is that the Democrats readily abandoned this goal. In order to save money and extend maximum coverage and subsidy to the maximum number of the uninsured, Democrats signed off on a system in which affluent Americans sign up for totally different medical networks than people who have less to spend, while the poorest get shunted to Medicaid and the richest bail completely into a private world of concierge medicine.


In this, Kaus and I agree on the outcome; we will have a two-tiered health care system. While it is not what I would have chosen, it is the least worst option. If I can audition for a spot in Tarantro's column today: "now that Pandora has got the toothpaste out of the tube, the Irish model represents our best hope for a soft landing."

Ireland has a full-blown social medicine system. Nobody is denied care. But the care sucks, so Eiyërses (or whatever they call themselves) purchase private insurance to escape. This happens in the UK as well, but private care is considered a luxury. My understanding of Ireland is that it is a middle-class good.

Left-of-center blog friend Silence Dogood, whom we seem to have chased away, told me early on that the sky-boxes subsidize ticket prices for the nosebleed seats and that HOT lanes absorb traffic from the non payers -- why would we not let rich folks buy a better health care experience and siphon some of that money off to treat others?

This discussion transpired long before the PPACAo2010. But I think it has much to offer. Let's provide universal coverage (Larry Kudlow and I would prefer a voucher to ObamaCare). The newfound creation of concierge medicine might be a great free market model. (Thanks, Mister President! Your signature achievement was so awful, it sprouted a creative workaround that might improve the world. Yay team!)

Medicare-plus for everybody. Concierge medicine, which is market priced and transparent for the rest. Let a million surgical centers bloom!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

We used to have "concierge medicine" in this country too. Doctors provided the services they judged appropriate and billed patients directly. They even made house calls! It worked great until govenment decided it was necessary to make care more "equal."

Might O-care fail severely enough to go back to the future? Sure! But it's a cryin' shame so many have needlessly suffered and died while we labored through the torturous "progress" of this failed social experiment.

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2014 2:20 PM

January 21, 2014

A Lawyer Would Not Make This Mistake

#epickrugmanfail

Posted by John Kranz at 1:47 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"Of those of you who are not ThreeSourcers who voted for Barack Obama, how many of you think that you have a terrible President?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2014 6:33 PM
But jk thinks:

"Bad. Bad move on my part..."

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2014 7:20 PM

January 2, 2014

World Ends -- Sandra Fluke Hardest Hit

A "Hitch" in ObamaCare? Mai Non!

wapo140102.gif

WaPo: Supreme Court temporarily allows religious groups not to cover birth control By Sandhya Somashekhar, Robert Barnes and Michelle Boorstein The Obama administration faced a fresh challenge to its health-care law just as many of its key provisions took effect Wednesday, after an eleventh-hour Supreme Court ruling temporarily allowed some Catholic groups not to cover birth control in their employee health plans.
Posted by John Kranz at 4:01 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

My headline: "Nuns' Win Latest Battle in Their War on Women"

Posted by: johngalt at January 2, 2014 5:12 PM
But jk thinks:

...with help of Justice Sotomayor. You can't write this stuff!

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2014 6:14 PM

December 1, 2013

Review Corner

Hmm. Now that I have possibly facilitated the enrollment of a human being in Medicare, what better time to review Avik Roy's How Medicaid Fails the Poor?

We should make one thing clear: while Medicaid costs too much, its principal problem is that it doesn't make Medicaid patients healthier. It's not wrong to spend a large sum of money on health care for the poor. It is wrong to waste large sums of money on health care for the poor. There are so many market-based alternatives to Medicaid, alternatives that would offer uninsured, low-income Americans the opportunity to see the doctor of their choice and gain access to high-quality, private-sector health care.
[...]
That's the dirty secret of Medicaid. You might have heard the rumor that uninsured people are clogging emergency rooms because the law allows them to get free care there. But the unreported story is that it is Medicaid patients who clog the emergency rooms because they can't persuade regular doctors to see them.

Roy (people in Montreal and Denver struggle to pronounce it like Mr. Rogers's first name and not Evelyn Waugh's last -- to compound it, the author's first name is pronounced OH-vick) highlights studies that show Medicaid patients' outcomes statistically below those of the uninsured. While it would be easy to think that anomalistic, Roy details several good reasons why this could be.

The book opens with the heartbreaking story of Deamonte Driver, a seventh grader in Maryland who died of a toothache. His indigent mother was unable to find a dentist to accepted a new Medicaid patient, and over time -- government programs excel at eating time -- the infection spread to his brain. Much as I rail against government, I hesitate to pin this single tragedy on them. But we are -- courtesy of ObamaCare and my facilitatorship -- adding to the Medicaid rolls without addressing the physician shortage on the other side.

Medicaid was a statistically significant predictor of death three years after transplantation, even after controlling for other clinical factors. Overall, Medicaid patients faced a 29 percent greater risk of death. You'd think that Medicaid’s poor health outcomes would be a scandal on the left. You'd be wrong. After all, Obamacare puts 17 million more Americans into the Medicaid program.

The difference between insurance and care matters not to the left. The difference between a card and a doctor seem to elude them as well. An Oregon program to expand membership held a lottery where the lucky winners could enroll under relaxed qualifications.
Finally, on May 1, 2013 -- 10 months late -- the New England Journal of Medicine published the second-year findings. Did Medicaid save lives? No. It "generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes," including death, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. What's almost as striking as this nonresult is how few Oregonians felt the need to sign up for this allegedly lifesaving program. The authors report that of the 35,169 individuals who "won" the lottery to enroll in Medicaid, only 60 percent actually bothered to fill out the application. In the end, only half of those who applied ended up enrolling.

But, what about the security of coverage?
Nonetheless, Medicaid's cheerleaders seized on this qualified bit of good news. "This is an astounding finding ... a huge improvement in mental health," said economist Gruber. To which conservative blogger Ben Domenech responded, "I wonder whether we'd be better off replacing the [Medicaid] expansion with a program that hands out $ 500 in cold hard cash and a free puppy."

Roy suggests a replacement, not with the puppy, but with a catastrophic plan and a voucher for concierge medicine. We could provide the poor with coverage chosen by many well-off Americans (well, until ObamaCare makes it illegal) for the same amount, and get more predictable and controlled spending rates as well.

This is a "Broadside" (very short book by Encounter Books). Five bucks on your Kindle and an hour before Kickoff. Five stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)
But T. Greer thinks:

I like his plan.

I would think it is a good model for getting rid of most all ss type benefits.

Posted by: T. Greer at December 2, 2013 6:11 PM

November 20, 2013

"I will happily pay you today, for a free lunch I don't eat before tomorrow"

In an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from the federal exchange portion of O-care, just as we are learning that the entire functionality of the system is not even built, much less tested, numerous democrats have cheered that the state-run exchanges are working well.

More than 55,000 people in Washington state enrolled in health coverage in October - most in Medicaid - and around 40,000 more applied for coverage, making the Evergreen State one of the brightest success stories in the rocky national rollout of the federal health law. Here in the home of online shopping giant Amazon.com, officials credit the exchange’s success in part to the Pacific Northwest's high-tech bent.

Colorado enrolled just more than 37,500 in the period. New York state - with a population nearly three times the size of Washington's - had enrolled just over 48,000 in health plans as of Tuesday, state officials announced. Kentucky enrolled more than 32,000 in its first month.

All are among the states that embraced Obamacare and crafted their own insurance exchanges rather than rely on the federal site, which has been riddled with breakdowns.

Wawazat? "most in medicaid?" Yup.

Mansfield and Rodriguez huddled together over a shiny new laptop in the busy trailer, setting up the older woman’s account. Rodriguez led Mansfield through a series of questions, typing in the necessary information about citizenship, tax filing status, family makeup.

Mansfield pulled out a letter from the Social Security Administration to prove how much money she makes each month. Rodriguez tapped a few more keys, then looked up, smiling.

"You qualify for Washington Apple Health," she told the uninsured woman, referring to the state’s expanded Medicaid program. And then she shared the best part: "At no cost."

"That’s it?" Mansfield asked, relieved and incredulous that the process was so fast and easy, and the result so comforting. "Wonderful."

And Colorado's metrics are very similar, with most enrollees being in Medicaid - 47,306 versus 6,001 in "private health insurance" through the first six weeks.

I don't know about you but I sure am relieved that, under O-care, no insurance company can interrogate me about my medical history. Now I only have to answer questions about "citizenship, tax filing status, family makeup" and "prove how much money [I make] each month."

But the LA Times story says nothing about website security on the state exchanges, which is what I was researching when I found that Connect for Health Colorado was so forward thinking on the issue that they sought a third party security review for the 2011 startup's flagship, nay, only ship, website way way back in ... June. The proposals were due in less than 3 weeks after the date of RFP and would be reviewed for a full week before awarding a contract, possibly not to the lowest bidder, or at all, before work could begin on July 22, leaving ten weeks and a day for the third party to "Provide additional inputs to the C4HCO team for risk management activities as the system Go Live date of 1 October 2013 approaches."

What could go wrong? No matter, since the result is so comforting. Wonderful! At least, until you try to see your, or any, doctor.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2013

ACA Overreach "is Freedom"

It's one thing when a dyed-in-the-wool pure capitalist like me says it, but now the respected centrist Lawrence Kudlow says the "Affordable Care Act" is anti-freedom, unfair, unaffordable, and "well on its way to collapsing of its own weight" before concluding:

But here's the bigger point: All this is the inevitable result of massive central-planning exercises to control the economy. That's not freedom.

No amount of rescue legislation is going to change this. It's the elections of 2014 and 2016 that will allow the American people to reject this Soviet-style planning.

But I'll reference Krauthammer once again:

ObamaCare represents the greatest-ever expansion of the liberal entitlement-state dream. And you know what? That dream is crumbling and dissolving before our very eyes.

And that is freedom.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:21 PM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2013

Google is Evil

For those who didn't already believe it, consider this: Google, Oracle Workers Enlisted for Obamacare 'Tech Surge'

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2013

ACA ad Hominem

This post is filed under television, et. al, because I'm going to rip on a television column in the L.A. Times, which in turn rips on former television star Suzanne Somers because she Calls Obamacare 'Ponzi Scheme' in Error Ridden Article.

The column never rebuts the characterization. Instead it attacks her accuracy on tangential issues, but not until highlighting her sex life, alternative health practices and past infomercial gigs.

"An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin ('Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state') that has been widely disputed," the Journal wrote in an addendum to the original piece. "And it included a quotation attributed to Churchill ('Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens') that the Journal has been unable to confirm."

That wasn't all. Somers pointed to a Canadian magazine article that criticized that country's nationalized health care system by arguing that animals could get better care than human beings. But in her original post, Somers mistakenly recalled which animal was pictured on the cover: It was a dog, not a horse.

Gasp! Well then, that's that I guess - Obamacare is clearly not a Socialist Ponzi scheme. Here's what she said, according to the (L.A.) Times:

"Boomers are smart," Somers wrote in a Monday opinion piece for the online version of the Wall Street Journal. "They see the train wreck coming… most I speak with think the Affordable Care Act is a greater Ponzi scheme than that pulled off by Bernie Madoff."

"And don't forget, dear reader, that the Wall Street Journal is owned by the same multimegabillionaire who owns FOX NEWS!!!" But what Somers wrote is that others whom she speaks with have called it that.

And then there was the Nuclear Option for discrediting a Hollywood Starlet, at any stage of her career - the mug shot. Try to figure out which of these headed the WSJ article and which one ran in the Times.

OB-YV315_expert_C_20130909095823.jpg

la-et-st-suzanne-somers-calls-obamacare-ponzi--001.jpg

What? Oh, of course I read about her sex life. But the sex was, yawn, with her husband.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:24 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2013

Don't Take Away the Rope!

I really enjoyed reading this Investor's editorial and leaned toward posting. Then I saw who wrote it and couldn't get to the login page too quickly.

The mainstream media have in large part turned against ObamaCare, and all these factoids are going to be reported. So that raises the question regarding 2014: Do Republicans really want to bail out Obama by handing him a year's delay? If all the flaws in ObamaCare do pan out, they may well overshadow the shutdown negatives suffered by the GOP.

I think I am lining up on Chris Ruddy's side. There's an old political adage: If your opponent is determined to hang himself, for heaven's sake, don't take away the rope.

The "I" the author refers to is Lawrence Kudlow. And I agree.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:05 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Dude should get his own tv show . . .

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2013 5:15 PM

October 24, 2013

Now it's our turn

I must admit, not every ACA horror story is all that horrible.

For some time now I've been trying to explain that democrats in general, and President Obama in particular, have become Health Insurance salesmen instead of politicians. Meaning, that their popularity now depends on voters being happy about the cost benefit ratio of their health insurance plans. For most of my lifetime Republicans have never had a better cudgel with which to bludgeon their opponent. But now my point is being made in the "On the left" column at IBD Ed page by Dana Milbank:

This is perhaps the biggest problem facing ObamaCare and probably will haunt it long after the technical problems at HealthCare.gov are fixed.

Because of all the noise and disinformation, President Obama and the Democrats don't just own ObamaCare as a political issue. They own health care. Anytime something bad happens -- premiums rise, or employers change plans or pare coverage -- ObamaCare will be blamed, even if the new law had nothing to do with the change.

"It's one of the most frustrating things," says Brad Woodhouse, the former Democratic National Committee official who runs Americans United for Change. "If anybody has a problem with health care, Republicans say it has to be a problem with ObamaCare."

Does Woodhouse believe Democrats now own health care? "In some ways we probably do, which is unfair," he said. "Nobody said ObamaCare was a panacea for everything."

Rilly? That's sure what it sounded like when he was campaigning for President. Other than that though, I agree! (Who says we can't compromise.) It's Obamacare's fault!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:27 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The needle to be threaded is dissatisfaction with the status quo ante which will be revised down. "Yeah, he broke it, but it was so terrible -- and those damnëd Republicans wouldn't let us have single payer!"

I am tempted to defend it -- there were enough free market parts that people came from all over the world to have what we had until last week. And, it saved my life and my wife's without financial ruin.

But the nonsense of employer tax breaks leaves many with a bad memories. And I think the left's current play is to foment and magnify those.

On whose side will the media cheerleaders be?

Posted by: jk at October 24, 2013 7:17 PM

October 23, 2013

Vote for Me, I canceled your health insurance!

I don't think there would be any debate that this constitutes an "Affordable Care Act" horror story - Millions of Americans Are Losing Their Health Plans Because of Obamacare. Sixteen million, for starters.


Kaiser Health News called up a few insurers around the country and found that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already received cancellation notices.

"[T]he cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama’s promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them," according to Kaiser Health News reporters Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby.

And that doesn't include small groups or, after their 1 year delay, large group plans.

You'll love it! Trust us!

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:00 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Got to break some eggs to make an omelet!

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2013 5:48 PM
But AndyN thinks:

A lot of detractors have been focusing on the mandate and people getting fined, um, taxed come April if they don't have insurance, but I think this is the part that's really going to bite the Democrats in the butt. It's one thing to tell people that you'll probably have the web site glitches ironed out well before the end of the 6 month open enrollment, and if you don't you'll put off the mandate. It's another thing entirely to tell people who are insured right now that come January they'll either have to go without insurance or buy at increased rates without the potential government subsidies they were promised to ease the pain.

Posted by: AndyN at October 23, 2013 9:35 PM
But Jk thinks:

A Kudlow guest discusses a popular loophole where insurers offer to change the renewal date to December to avoid Obamacare mandates. Those offered are choosing this 15:1.

Like the President said: if you like your plan, you can keep it for another 11 months.

Posted by: Jk at October 23, 2013 10:29 PM

Obamacare Rollout Could Hurt Dems in 2014

Don't take my word for it. Here is the spin from NPR:

For the congressional Democrats whose votes made the Affordable Care Act a reality and who will have to defend their support for the law in the 2014 midterm elections, the problems with the federal website are a political nightmare.

Not only do the website's problems embolden the Republican opposition to the law; they place Democrats on the defensive at a time when the party appears to have the advantage coming out of the shutdown/debt default crises.

Several recent polls suggest that Republicans greatly damaged themselves by forcing the crisis, a self-inflicted wound Democrats are eager to exploit. Some of the more ebullient Democrats even claimed that their chances for retaking the House had improved significantly.

But now there's a chance 2014 could find Democrats conducting their own version of damage control, as a result of the disastrous digital rollout.

We may yet learn which profession is most reviled by the American public: politicians, or insurance salesmen.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2013

Marlin Perkins has met Obamacare and boy, is he pissed

Okay, not Mutual of Omaha's 'Wild Kingdom' host, but Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini. And not pissed but at least, a Whole Lotta questions.

Asked if he would have delayed the launch of the exchange given its earlier problems, Bertolini said, "I would have, if I'd been in their seat." But, he added, "the politics got in the way of a good business decision."

However, Bertolini also said, "it's the law of the land, number one. Number two, public exchanges are going to be here to stay, so we need to make them work somehow. ... The question is: How do we get from here to there?" He said it could take three years or so before the marketplace's problems are fully sorted out.

But those are just the procedural issues. There's also the issue of fiscal sustainability [dared he to question "this administration's signature 'accomplishment."]

"I think the bigger issue is, will enough people sign up to make it work?" said Bertolini. Aetna, like other insurers, is counting on enough young and healthy people enrolling in the plans to offset the costs that come from providing benefits to older, sicker Americans.

Don't worry Mr. CEO, the government is always there to help you. When your profitablity disappears and your stock is delisted by the NYSE and you are either fired or go out of business, at least you'll be able to sign up for health care on the public exchanges. Who knows, you may even qualify for government subsided premiums, copays or maximum out-of-pocket limits!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2013

JIHADIST


Posted by JohnGalt at 6:43 PM | Comments (0)

Otequay of the Ayday

Wobbly Republicans should remember why they got into this fight in the first place: to stop ObamaCare. If they cave now, they'll have given up their best chance to spare the country this monumental disaster. -IBD Editorial: Is GOP Caving With Victory at Hand?
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:59 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2013

Quote of the Day

But how do you really feel?

"It wasn't designed well, it wasn't implemented well, and it looks like nobody tested it," Luke Chung, an online database programmer, told CBS News.

"It's not even close. It's not even ready for beta testing for my book. I would be ashamed and embarrassed if my organization delivered something like that," he said.


UPDATE: Video at 11:00!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Aimin' at Misbehavin'

I cannot imagine anyone's not clicking a link that Brother Keith provides, but in case you were on an IV all day yesterday and almost missed it, I wanted to promote it to a post. Matthew May at American Thinker:

Like most members of the Congress that passed it and, undoubtedly, the president of the United States who signed it, I have not read the entirety of the ill-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet there is one aspect concerning that legislation of which I am certain: I will not comply.

I will not comply because I am a free citizen of the United States, not a subject of its government. I consider non-compliance with this monstrosity and the tens of thousands of pages of regulations that are to be enforced by an unelected bureaucracy, and that have left a gigantic carbon footprint on our environment and the United States Constitution, a duty.

Non-compliance is my executive order, and that order reads in part that I do not recognize any government's claim on my action or inaction in the marketplace, nor upon any personal information I am unwilling to divulge.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Hear hear. And if I happen to come across any federal government "we're closed to Republicans" barriers, I shall cross them.

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2013 3:04 PM

October 7, 2013

Quote of the Day

Gotta steal it from Insty. Too. Damnnëd. Good:

Of course, I want people to have health care. I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally. -- Two time Obama voter and ACA supporter Cindy Vinson

Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Why, my dear Ms. Vinson, it is only what is neccessary for the common good. Nothing more.

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2013 3:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Alas, she still doesn't get it.

Those explanations, however, don't completely satisfy Waschura and Vinson.

"I'm not against Obamacare," Waschura said. "It's just the initial shock. I'm holding out hope that there will be a correction over a handful of years."

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2013 3:18 PM

October 5, 2013

Same old insurance rules

So supposedly the new health care law eliminates pre-existing condition restrictions. And you can stay on your parents' plan until you are 26 or some such. But there's still an "open-enrollment" period, which of course means that there's a closed enrollment period.

March 31, 2014

Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance coverage closes on March 31, 2014. Be sure to visit the Marketplace and enroll in a plan before this date.

After March 31, 2014, you can get new private health insurance for 2014 only through a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event like a job loss, birth, or divorce.

Government - Making life better since 1930.

UPDATE: Are we worried yet? What could possibly go wrong?

"You are allowing Connect for Health Colorado and the Department to use Social Security numbers and other information from your application to request and receive information or records to confirm the information in your application. You release Connect for Health Colorado and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing from all liability for sharing this information with other agencies for this purpose. For example, Connect for Health Colorado and the Department may get and share your information with any of the following agencies: Social Security Administration; Internal Revenue Service; United States Customs and Immigration Services; Department of Homeland Security; Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; Financial institutions (banks, savings and loans, credit unions, insurance companies, etc.); child support enforcement agencies; employers; courts; and other federal or state agencies. We need this information to check your eligibility for health insurance or help paying for health insurance, if you choose to apply, and give you the best service possible."
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 4, 2013

That one guy who bought ObamaCare®?

Didn't.

This is not say that Henderson is not still valuable to the press. On Thursday, his story provided Mediaite readers with entertainment after reading the comically absurd deluge of press interest he was exposed to for simply being able to complete the reportedly three hour process of signing up for a health care exchange. On Friday, Henderson provided the nation with another service: exposing the media's interest in painting the ACA in a positive light regardless of the facts.
[...]
According to Reason, that's all bunk. But it was a story too good to check out. And it was exactly the story the media needed at precisely the time they needed it.

I wish I were smart enough to come up with this story:
Henderson's tale is a blistering critique of how the press operates today. If you invented Henderson and the story of how his actions stripped the media naked, you would be accused of making up a wild fabrication that no one could possibly believe. It’s all too fantastic, the media too credulous, the principal subject too sloppy to be believed.

In fact, as it appears now, how Chad exposed the media is the only part of his story that's true.


[Puts dollar in the jar...] Imagine the press if one of President George W. Bush's initiatives had seen similar "glitches.' I don't think they would fabricate the single success story.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Oh, it gets better. He's a paid shill for leftist causes: http://is.gd/nr1Sqd

Are you guys getting your quarterly check from Halliburton? 'Cause mine seems to be late...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 4, 2013 6:25 PM
But Jk thinks:

I switched over to the Koch brothers last year, Keith. Much more efficient accounts payable.

Posted by: Jk at October 4, 2013 9:07 PM

Obummercare Quote of the Day

"Are you F'ing kidding me????" she wrote on the government's Obamacare Facebook page. "Where the HELL am I supposed to get $3,000 more a year to pay for this 'bronze' health insurance plan!?!??? And I DO NOT EVEN WANT INSURANCE to begin with!! This is frightening," -"Single mother of two" commenting on Healthcare.gov Facebook page

Ummm ... told ya.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:48 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Audit for her!

Posted by: jk at October 4, 2013 5:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Audits are much more cost-effective than re-education camps, since the prisoners wind up paying for their imprisonment.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 11, 2013 1:16 PM

Quote of the Day

You know, if all these government services can be shut down whenever a President wants to score political points, why are we even thinking about getting the government into healthcare? -- Prof Glenn Reynolds
Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 2, 2013

"Fixing" Health Care

This chart from another federalist.com article - 8 Charts That Explain the Explosive Growth of U.S. Health Care Costs, shows how government medical spending, originally promised to help Americans afford care, has had the opposite effect.

Healthcare%20costs1965-vs_-2011-Icon.png

Gosh, maybe we really do need another huge new federal health care program like Obamacare to "fix things."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Obamacare fixes the American healthcare system in the same sense that my two dogs were "fixed." The veterinary sense.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 2, 2013 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Do you suppose that is how, somewhere within the 2000 plus pages of the ACA that we are still "finding out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy" costs will ultimately be contained? Not just "fixing" the American healthcare system, but "fixing" Americans?

Wouldn't put it past them.

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2013 5:59 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Gives a whole new meaning to "gird your loins," doesn't it - and in this case, with a cast-iron codpiece...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 2, 2013 6:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2013 9:19 PM

October 1, 2013

Bottom Story of the Day

Twitchy: "Surprise! Obamacare health insurance exchange websites don’t work; HealthCare.gov a total mess."

Of course, nobody is paying attention to the #epicobamafail -- we've a government shutdown! Republicans scaring old ladies and ruining your family vacation.

I will be a team player on Facebook and defend the valid reasons for getting where we has gotten to be. But I have to share my discontent with ThreeSourcers: we provided the Democrats with their escape pass.

An interesting nugget. We talked some of courage yesterday. The brave Republicans versus the Sir-Rodney-not-so-brave-as-Ted-Cruz Republicans. On Kudlow, it was mentioned that most GOP house members are in very safe seats thanks to gerrymandering. The real fear of most is a Tea-Party primary challenger. Ergo, supporting the shutdown was in many instances the craven and cowardly course. I don't like to guess what is in a representative's cold, cold heart. But I repeat this because the People's Front of Judea was pretty quick to call my side cowardly.

[Editor's note: two Monty Python references in one paragraph is prohibited by the ThreeSources Style Guide and should have been expunged. However, due to the government shutdown...]

Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm, trying to keep up here... It is cowardly to not be cowardly?

I suggest we just circle the wagons as, regardless of how we got here, here we are.

I speculated to my dear dagny this morning that the Cruz strategy and the Boehner strategy were linked from the start, with the latter intended as the "moderate" and "reasonable" compromise in stark contrast to the "wacko bird" defund it effort. Cruz has endorsed the house effort, after all. Did the president and congressional democrats just get good cop, bad copped?

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2013 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

You credit Republicans with more "game" than I have seen before, but there is a first time for everything.

Yessir, I'm firmly entrenched in the wagon circle and will fight as long as ammunition holds out.

Posted by: jk at October 2, 2013 9:16 AM
But johngalt thinks:

On second thought, in light of the editorial I just linked, perhaps the "circle the wagons" analogy only makes sense if those on the inside of the circle comprise "non-essential government." They are the ones who await a cavalry charge that, if house Republicans have the necessary spine, will never come.

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2013 12:47 PM

September 27, 2013

Senator McCain's "Democratic Response" to Cruz's Filibuster

Did anyone else hear John McCain's weak-kneed floor speech after Ted Cruz finished his filibuster? I was dubstruck by the praise he gave to Obamacare and the Democrats, juxtaposed with his derision of Cruz et al and the principles and ideas of which they spoke for 21 hours. Investors' editorial page shared my disgust.

Cruz wasn't long off the floor before Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a war hero, raised a white flag in one of the most disgraceful Senate speeches ever delivered.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., aptly called it "the Democratic response" to Cruz. It can be summed up in two of McCain's own defeatist words: "We lost."

There's more on McCain's fecklessness but the editorial closes with a look at the GOPs future:

Aged elephants like McCain make a Tea Party-based third party likely. That would cinch long-term Democratic dominance in D.C. McCain's 2008 running mate, Sarah Palin, told Fox's Neil Cavuto there already are three parties: the liberal Democrats, the GOP establishment, and Republican "good guys" like Cruz.

But this week, Ted Cruz gave America a look at the GOP future, in all its boldness and common sense. We hear Arizona has many fine retirement homes, Sen. McCain. Time to pass the torch.

Don't let the door hit yer ass.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Sen. McCain wants to hear from you! Your Opinion Matters!

http://countryfirstpac.com/congressional-issues/

I hope you will also forward it to your family and friends so I can get their input on the issues facing our nation as well. Upon completing your survey, please consider making a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to Country First. Your donation will ensure we have the funds necessary to fight back and have our voices heard.
Posted by: jk at September 27, 2013 5:07 PM
But jk thinks:

He's pretty bashful about it, but I am sure ThreeSourcers who wanted could give more than $250. The web page seems to allow it.

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2013 5:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Upon reflection, I was crass and disrespectful to the senior senator from Arizona. I'll rephrase:

Americans respect and appreciate your service to our nation, Senator McCain. Few in our country's history have given faithful service for so long and in so many ways. It is long past time for us to repay your dedication and so, with our most sincere blessings, we invite you to take the rest of your life off, in peace and solitude, far from the chattering and partisan bickering of our nation's capital. Happy retirement, American hero. Go now. Please.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2013 10:44 AM
But jk thinks:

To be continued in Review Corner tomorrow. I, the GOP, and ThreeSources need to come to terms with neoconservatism and national greatness conservatism.

C. Bradley Thompson and Yaron Brook have a book, "Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea" that traces it to its Straussian roots and finds it philosophically dangerous. Brother Bryan recommend this book. I mistakenly purchased the CATO roundtable discussion where several CATO scholars respond to the book and Thompson responds/rebuts.

Very satisfying, but I need -- as a neocon in recovery as it were -- to go back and read the entire book. Those piqued can view a video discussion.

In a life-or-death struggle between modernity and radical Islam, which I am not convinced does not exist, Senator McCain is a good Republican. In a life-or-death struggle with Progressives and Luddites and collectivists at home: Not. So. Much.

Your updated phraseology is spot on.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2013 12:31 PM

An Anthem for our Times!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

You gotta hand it to Miley Cyrus for her success increasing her, um, "visibility."

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2013 1:40 PM

September 26, 2013

Rilly?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:50 PM | Comments (3)
But AndyN thinks:

Aside from the obvious, desperate, if you're resorting to cute anthropomorphized animals to sell your program you don't have a rational argument to make in its favor aspect of all this, something else struck me. It's easy to promise lifetime benefits if your subject's lifetime is maybe 3 years. Do you really want to suggest that you're only making that promise because you know nobody's going to survive the program long enough for it to cost you?

Posted by: AndyN at September 27, 2013 9:57 AM
But jk thinks:

I LOL-ed this morning reading Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt. He says that we should recognize how effective this is and sends pictures of a Tarantula, shark, and a snake biting a man in the face with captions like "The exchanges are almost open!"

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2013 10:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

To make the slogan factual, replace "on" with "and."

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2013 1:41 PM

September 25, 2013

Dear Senator Udall

Well, if we must truly try everything... I have been shamed by a less-political-than-me Facebook friend. She likely voted for both our Democratic Senators, but has contacted both to ask them to defund.

We're really trying everything:

Senator:

I appreciate your position as a Democratic Senator, but I have been very impressed with your independence and your ability to choose constituents over party politics.

And I boldly ask you to do it one more time.

I have MS and my wife is recovering from a severe stroke. We both require quality care and technological innovation -- both of which suffer under the ACA.

I also have privacy concerns -- again I applaud your devotion to privacy even in times uncomfortable by your party. I cannot imagine handing this most personal information over to the Federal government.

Please put your Colorado constituents over party pressure and vote to at least allow amendments to this out-of-control legislation.

Thank you for your time,
<jk & the loveley bride>


& the same to Sen. Bennett with the bipartisan praise toned down substantively.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:18 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Perfect. I was thinking of trying this myself and will take your effort as inspiration.

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2013 12:47 PM

September 24, 2013

Political Heresy

Ted Cruz's "rule breaking" fillibuster begins.

"Each day I learn what a scoundrel I am," Cruz said of reading media reports that quote Republican lawmakers and aides critical of him. "Most Americans could not give a flying flip about politicians in Washington. Who cares? Most of us are in cheap suits with bad haircuts. Who cares?"
Posted by JohnGalt at 4:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2013

I Did Not Know That!

When media bias even gets through to me, the Democratic Operatives journalists in the MSM are keepin' rockin'! The IBD Ed Page shares something I didn't know:

Bias: Heard the one about how House Republicans have passed 40-plus bills to repeal or defund ObamaCare, all of which went nowhere? It's not true. Yet the mainstream press continues to peddle this blatant falsehood.

I keep hearing how they cannot do this anymore, now that we have FOX News and blogs. Yet, there is still an "official," "real" record that comes from the NYTimes and echoes through Jon Stewart.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | Comments (3)
But T. Greer thinks:

The problem with the 'fox news' strategy of balancing the news is that it really doesn't do anything of the sort - it just divides the media and their viewership into two channels of communication. The right leaning side then gets marginalized out of the main conversation. If only conservatives are watching Fox News, then the best they can do is preach to the choir. Which is useless.

In order to contest mainstream narratives you must have conservative voices in the (non-Fox) mainstream media. Indeed. If Fox News offers conservative voices the best bang for their buck (be it actual bucks or simply in prominence) and gets them all to switch to Fox (ala Glenn Beck) then they actually hurt conservatives ability to push back.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 22, 2013 1:17 AM
But jk thinks:

I agree but . . . there are no classic liberal voices in the MSM (I dislike the term, but have not found another).

The major networks, big dailies, and incestuous J-Schools have been able to keep activism elevated over rational self interest at least since Watergate. One of the few things that make me doubt capitalism is watching countless media organizations fail rather than try the FOX formula.

There are four TV news organizations in Denver on five stations (NBC, ABC, CBS, with the FOX and WB Affiliates teamed together). It is hyper-competitive and a key part of station revenues. It staggers me that nobody ever says let's try to appeal to the 50% that are being completely ignored. Exact cookie-cutter shows are on each evening: only the hair changes.

If you read John Stossel's books or Bernard Goldberg's "Bias" and "Arrogance," you see how deep this goes. Brian Williams would not return Stossel's greetings in the hallway. Goldberg has developed into a something of a FOX-News crank, but the first two books are serious and compelling. Goldberg was excommunicated for questioning a hit piece on Steve Forbes's flat tax. Thou shalt not suggest that "other" ideas be taken seriously.

So, yeah, I think we say the same thing. But it ain't gonna happen. It is disturbing that half get their news from FOX and half from Jon Stewart and neither believe a word the other says. Before FOX (and Instapundit) the ABC-NBC-CBS-NYTimes axis could completely squash a story. I do not want to revert to that. A bifurcated media beats a monopoly.

But I am all ears for any way to blend them.

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2013 10:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Despite what information we are spoon-fed, and by whom, there remains an insatiable thirst for news, information and connectedness. I expect social media to play an ever growing part in the de-spinning of information.

Here's something I never thought I'd ever read, until it happened this morning: "Kenyan Police Tweeted ..." Twitter can make the truth of a shot heard round the world travel as fast as the lies.

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2013 2:48 PM

September 13, 2013

Look for Da Yoonion Label...

Ezra Klein: Obama administration denies labor's request for health care waiver

Wow! Unions gotta be in ObamaCare® -- harsh!

Now if the Congressional Republicans can be principled and (stop laughing in the back!!!) make Congress have to live with it, we'll have some powerful allies.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2013

Quote of the Day

The Quote Maestro:

All third-party systems are crappy and inefficient. But socialized health care has at least the great clarifying simplicity of equality of crappiness: liberté, égalité, merde. It requires a perverse genius to construct a "health" "care" "reform" that destroys everything from religious liberty to full-time employment, while requiring multitudes of new tax collectors and other bureaucrats and ever fewer doctors and nurses. The parallel public/private systems of Continental Europe cost about 10 percent of GDP. The Obamacare monstrosity blends all the worst aspects of a private system (bureaucracy, restricted access, co-pays) with all the worst aspects of a government system (bureaucracy, restricted access, IRS agents) and sucks up twice as much GDP, ever less of which is spent on "health care" and ever more on the intervening layers of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth parties. -- Mark Steyn

Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

And who is surprised, as the third, fourth, fifth and sixth parties WROTE it.

There's a great T-shirt idea:

Obamacare: Liberte Egalite Merde
Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2013 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll take a red one in LT if you have it.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2013 3:49 PM

August 5, 2013

They Found Out What's in It!

So I was overly sanguine in thinking that Congress exempting itself would be significant. But it doesn't mean we can't have fun (and occasionally remind the bill's supporters).

The WSJ Ed Page leads with it today, detailing the history of Sen. Grassley's eat-our-own-dog-food" amendment. It was thought that Sen. Reid had obfuscated it enough that they could avoid their own bad legislation. But you know how it is when you're ramming a 2000 bill through on Christmas Eve: I mean which one of us hasn't left out some important language?

But the statute means that about 11,000 Members and Congressional staff will lose the generous coverage they now have as part of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Instead they will get the lower-quality, low-choice "Medicaid Plus" of the exchanges. The Members--annual salary: $174,000--and their better paid aides also wouldn't qualify for ObamaCare subsidies. That means they could be exposed to thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket insurance costs.

Ruh Roh!
How OPM will pull this off is worth watching. Is OPM simply going to cut checks, akin to "cashing out" fringe benefits and increasing wages? Or will OPM cover 75% of the cost of the ObamaCare plan the worker chooses--which could well be costlier than what the feds now contribute via current FEHBP plans? In any case the carve-out for Congress creates a two-tier exchange system, one for the great unwashed and another for the politically connected.

This latest White House night at the improv is also illegal. OPM has no authority to pay for insurance plans that lack FEHBP contracts, nor does the Affordable Care Act permit either exchange contributions or a unilateral bump in congressional pay in return for less overall compensation. Those things require appropriations bills passed by Congress and signed by the President.

But the White House rejected a legislative fix because Republicans might insist on other changes, and Mr. Obama feared that Democrats would go along because they're looking out for number one. So the White House is once again rewriting the law unilaterally, much as it did by suspending ObamaCare's employer mandate for a year. For this White House, the law it wrote is a mere suggestion.

The lesson for Americans is that Democrats who passed ObamaCare didn't even understand what they were doing to themselves, much less to everyone else. But you can bet Democrats will never extend to ordinary Americans the same fixes that they are now claiming for themselves. The real class divide in President Obama's America is between the political class and everyone else.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:42 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"Some animals are more equal than others." But if that doesn't include public sector unions this time, maybe you weren't too sanguine after all.

I find it completely appropriate that the acronym for the government's Office of Personnel Managment, OPM, also represents "other people's money."

(The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of Office of Personnel Management.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2013 2:24 PM
But jk thinks:

*Like*

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2013 5:02 PM

August 2, 2013

This Might be the End

I frequently counsel caution on these pages. No matter how discredited a bad idea or faulty premise, they always come back like a good horror movie monster.

But this could actually kill ObamaCare®:

Congress passed the Obamacare law but won't have to live under it. My thoughts at this turn of events are unprintable.
Lawmakers and staff can breathe easy -- their health care tab is not going to soar next year.

The Office of Personnel Management, under heavy pressure from Capitol Hill, will issue regulations saying that the government can continue to make the employer contribution to the health plans of members and aides, according to several Hill sources.


The Republicans could still muff it, mind you (I think that is Caldera's First Law) but this could be parlayed into even more substantial opposition.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | Comments (4)
But AndyN thinks:

The problem with hoping for inciting even more substantial opposition is that aside from the first House election after PPACA passed, none of the opposition seems to turn into votes. Opinion polls have pretty consistently shown substantial opposition from the get go, but in the only poll that matters, voters routinely demonstrate that the law doesn't bother them all that much.

Add to that the fact that all informed people know that congress members regularly exempts themselves from the laws they pass for the rest of us, and I think most voters will just shrug this off as business as usual.

Posted by: AndyN at August 2, 2013 11:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Way to harsh my mellow, man... :)

I fear you're likely right, but would say that 2010 saw substantive opposition to ACA as that was a rather large bee in the Tea Partyiers' bonnets.

What happened to the Tea Party in 2012? Lois Lerner is good for some non-zero percent. Low info voters come out quadrennially, thinking it is their patriotic duty (thanks, guys!) The next midterms could be another 2010.

And just because it is expected doesn't mean that Leno & his ilk (maybe Jon Stewart if his Lithium does is right) cannot remind viewers that Congress has constructed something so crappy for all of us that they needed special exemption to avoid it.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2013 12:37 PM
But AndyN thinks:

I've barely gotten started harshing your mellow. :-p

Let's say 2014 is another 2010, on steroids even. Let's say the GOP keeps the House, adds seats, and even takes a clear majority in the Senate. Do you think there's any chance at all they'll command 2/3 of the seats? If not, even if they can pass something that would roll back their preferential treatment under PPACA (and it's an open question whether establishment Republicans are any more interested in removing their hands from my pockets than the Democrats are) is there any reason to believe Obama wouldn't veto a bill taking a bite out of his signature legislative accomplishment? And even if they do come up with a veto-proof majority, is there any reason to believe that Obama will feel himself any more constrained by restrictions in whatever law they pass than he has by laws that have been passed in the past? He won't even follow the letter of the law when it's passed with nothing but Democrat votes, there's no way he'll follow a law he doesn't like that's forced through by the GOP.

Posted by: AndyN at August 2, 2013 5:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Where did I put those rose colored glasses?

No, I have no expectation of great electoral success. I'd hope to extend a majority in the House and trim theirs in the Senate. And you're quite right that an ObamaCare extirpation is unlikely.

I thought that this could be an inflection point. Perhaps the law becomes so unpopular that moderate Democrats run against it in 2014. Or enough lose in 2014 that they won't risk their seat on a lame duck's signature unpopular legislation.

Yet I admit it has attracted less attention than I expected (a couple memes from Facebook). Maybe it's a dud. But I will mention it now and then...

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2013 6:24 PM

July 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

Hence, Operation Oprah, to get young people on the hook so they can subsidize the older and sicker. To be fair, people like Kanye can get young people to buy $120 plain white T-shirts, so maybe he can get them to make this bad financial calculation, too. But will it work for the moderate and conservative Democrats that keep the party viable? -- Mary Katharine Ham
Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2013

One Cheer for ObamaCare®!

Anything the Unions hate this much cannot be all bad...

What Mr. Hoffa and the other union reps don't mention amid their cold sweats is that less employer-provided insurance means less of a role for unions as middle men in contract negotiations. Then again, all of the harm they are now discovering was obvious during the ObamaCare debate. It's another reminder that Big Labor now exists mainly for the benefit of unions and their leaders, rather than the workers they supposedly represent.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2013

On ObamaCare®

Dan Henninger at the WSJ Ed Page sees more universal and fundamental laws at opposition to the ACA. I fear I may have given QOTD honors away too hastily.

Maybe we have been listening to the wrong experts. Philosophers and pundits aren't going to tell us anything new about government. The one-year rollover of ObamaCare because of its "complexity" suggests it's time to call in the physicists, the people who study black holes and death stars. That's what the federal government looks like after expanding ever outward for the past 224 years.

Even if you are a liberal and support the goals of the Affordable Care Act, there has to be an emerging sense that maybe the law's theorists missed a signal from life outside the castle walls. While they troweled brick after brick into a 2,000-page law, the rest of the world was reshaping itself into smaller, more nimble units whose defining metaphor is the 140-character Twitter message.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:51 AM | Comments (0)

July 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

President Obama's decision last week to suspend the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act may be welcome relief to businesses affected by this provision, but it raises grave concerns about his understanding of the role of the executive in our system of government.

Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.

This matter--the limits of executive power--has deep historical roots. During the period of royal absolutism, English monarchs asserted a right to dispense with parliamentary statutes they disliked. King James II's use of the prerogative was a key grievance that lead to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The very first provision of the English Bill of Rights of 1689--the most important precursor to the U.S. Constitution--declared that "the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal." -- Michael McConnell

Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Rube! :)

"How" or "whether"... tomato, tomahto. Very well, I use my substantial discretion to proclaim that I shall enforce my law using the 5-second rule, except that 5-seconds shall, for the purposes of Obamacare, be 12-months... for now.

Posted by: johngalt at July 9, 2013 2:31 PM

July 7, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

"It's a fascinating transformation for Obama," said Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has become one of the administration's chief legal critics. "He rightfully criticized President Bush for violating the separation of powers and using signing statements to rewrite legislation, but Obama has been far more aggressive in circumventing Congress and far more successful in creating an imperial presidency," he said. --Obama Skips Past Congress Again With Health Mandate Delay
Posted by JohnGalt at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

RUBE!!!

I mean, better late than never and all, but still (In retrospect, it seems possible that there may have been some wagering at Rick's Cafe...)

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2013 1:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Turley, and those of us who ever viewed the president charitably, may well be rubes but the way he has conducted his office may well also be the downfall of his precious "comprehensive immigration reform." John Fund sez:

The growing belief that the Obama administration can't be trusted to respect the rule of law may prove to be one of the biggest obstacles it faces in passing the immigration reform it so powerfully desires.
Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2013 2:58 PM

July 3, 2013

If Only Someone Had Foreseen...

[California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones ] this week bemoaned UnitedHealth Group's decision to flee California's individual insurance market and thus strand 8,000 policyholders. "I don't think this is a good result for consumers," said Mr. Jones. "It means less choice, less competition and even more consolidation of the individual market with three big carriers." -- Allysia Finley WSJ
I thought I read something about more choices...
Posted by John Kranz at 7:08 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

"Keep what you have" yada yada yada...

No, Mr. Jones, there will be NO choice and NO competition. There will be - single payer. Do you not.freaking.get.it? How many other idiots did Mama Jones raise?

Posted by: johngalt at July 3, 2013 8:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Awfully sporting of them to delay ObamaCare® until after the midterm elections; else, the awesomeness of it would guarantee a Democrat sweep.

Posted by: jk at July 4, 2013 10:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Imagine delaying implementation of the Civil Rights Act or the Emancipation Proclaimation. "Well, this is a complicated change to our society and implementation of it will take longer than first anticipated." Complete horse shit. Obamacare (R) is specific on requirements and deadlines for the private sector but deliberately non-commital on performance by government. It's naught but a collection of new authorizations for executive agencies, for them to exercise how and when the "czars" see fit. It is big government at its worst.

And its critics should demand its implementation be accelerated, not retarded. Then maybe more of the idiots will get the idea.

Posted by: johngalt at July 4, 2013 10:54 AM

June 20, 2013

ObamaCare®:Worst Idea Ever?

Nothing new here. Those of you with work you're not trying to procrastinate can skip to the next post. But Elizabeth P Foley and David Rivkin have an interesting guest ed in today's WSJ.

In light of the IRS, NSA, Benghazi, and suggested expansion of inter-league play, Death Panels truly have a corporeal context:

The board, which will control more than a half-trillion dollars of federal spending annually, is directed to "develop detailed and specific proposals related to the Medicare program," including proposals cutting Medicare spending below a statutorily prescribed level. In addition, the board is encouraged to make rules "related to" Medicare.

Or, "...only providers and developers with good lobbyists will provide services..."
The ObamaCare law also stipulates that there "shall be no administrative or judicial review" of the board's decisions. Its members will be nearly untouchable, too. They will be presidentially nominated and Senate-confirmed, but after that they can only be fired for "neglect of duty or malfeasance in office."

Once the board acts, its decisions can be overruled only by Congress, and only through unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures--featuring restricted debate, short deadlines for actions by congressional committees and other steps of the process, and supermajoritarian voting requirements.


Hey, Lois Lerner is looking for satisfying work!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

"Supermajoritarian" as in "it ain't happening."

"Neglect of duty" to what? The Constitution, or Obamacare? (R)

Dagny was telling me yesterday just how bad this is going to be for small businesses. "The worse, the better, said I. The more people get pissed off, the sooner it will be changed.

Posted by: johngalt at June 20, 2013 2:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I join you in millenarianism on this. The Train Wreck option might be the best blow for liberty. I read a good article encouraging opponents not to count on it -- the likely first solution will be more dirigisme -- but it is what we have with the current layout of Congress and the Executive Branch.

Let the skies fall. Let there be blood.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2013 3:22 PM
But dagny thinks:

I think you two had better be careful what you wish for. Employees take home pay will take a massive whack. Employees will be forced to pay for something they don't want at a price the government deems, "affordable," but they disagree. YET the massive collectivist propaganda machine will still convince them this problem was CAUSED by, business owners and nasty insurance companies and not by the government.

Posted by: dagny at June 20, 2013 6:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fortunately there's a one word answer to that propaganda: Obamacare.

Posted by: johngalt at June 20, 2013 6:34 PM

June 13, 2013

ObamaCare®? I Quit!

Lawmakers and their aides are running for the exits! Term Limits? Scandal? Nope, it's ObamaCare. Those who retire before Jan 1, 2014 get to keep their groovy government health plan. After that "It's Crucifixion ObamaCare for You, pal!"

Democratic and Republican leaders are taking the issue seriously, but first they need more specifics from the Office of Personnel Management on how the new rule should take effect -- a decision that Capitol Hill sources expect by fall, at the latest. The administration has clammed up in advance of a ruling, sources on both sides of the aisle said.

If the issue isn't resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain [drip, drip -- jk] just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues -- like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform.

The problem is far more acute in the House, where lawmakers and aides are generally younger and less wealthy. Sources said several aides have already given lawmakers notice that they’ll be leaving over concerns about ObamaCare. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said the chatter about retiring now, to remain on the current health care plan, is constant.


If only these people had had some political power to prevent this issue before...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Merely because the reactions are so obvious is no reason to not state them:

The government health care exchanges "could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive?" No it couldn't, Obamacare will LOWER COSTS FOR EVERYONE. Furthermore, if you like your current plan, YOU CAN KEEP IT.

Rep. Larson (D-CT) says, "this is simply not fair to these [federal] employees." But what of the private employees? It's fair to them? Really?

"The uncertainty has created a growing furor on Capitol Hill with aides young and old worried about skyrocketing health care premiums cutting deeply into their already small paychecks. (...) The problem is most acutely felt at the staff level, where aides make between $35,000 and roughly $170,000..."

Maybe they will be so displeased that they'll march on their government buildings with handwritten signs - Subsidized Too Little Already! Careful though, if you become too influential the IRS may target you.

Posted by: johngalt at June 13, 2013 3:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One more thought on that "brain drain" consequence. Does that mean our "best and brightest" who now attempt to centrally plan our economy will be replaced by garden-variety ideologues? Heaven help our Republic.

Posted by: johngalt at June 13, 2013 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

My sympathy for the staffers certainly splits on party lines -- as did the ACA. (Used to be that "ObamaCare" was pejorative; now I envision hostile conservatives will smarmily call it "The Affordable Care Act.")

Posted by: jk at June 13, 2013 4:01 PM

June 4, 2013

Wait, you mean health insurance is going up?

If only somebody had been able to predict this before the law was passed...

The WSJ pounces on the leftes' walkback from the discredited California report on insurance prices.

They now concede that individual costs will rise but claim that it is unfair to compare today's market to ObamaCare because ObamaCare mandates much richer benefits. Another liberal rationalization is that the cost-increasing regulations are meant to help people with pre-existing conditions, so they're worth it.

So they're finally admitting what some of us predicted from the start, but that's also the policy point. Americans are being forced to buy more expensive coverage than what they willingly buy today. Liberals also argue that some of the new costs will be offset by subsidies, which is great news unless you happen to be a taxpayer or aren't eligible for ObamaCare dollars and wake up to find your current coverage is illegal.

The Affordable Care Act was sold as a tool to lower health costs. In case you missed it, the claim is right there in the law's title. The new Democratic position is that the entitlement will do the opposite but never mind, which is at least more honest.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2013

QOTD II

On Friday, May 10, President Obama ventured into Ohio to give a Mother's Day defense of the sagging fortunes of his signal achievement, the misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law, the President assures us, "is here to stay"--a comment that is best regarded as a threat and not a promise. His conclusion was not coincidental; support for the ACA has dropped from 42 percent to 35 percent between November 2012 and April 2013. -- Richard Epstein

UPDATE: QOTD2 -- that is some lazy-ass blogging!

This is an exceptional and important article. Epstein clearly, concisely -- and fairly -- demolishes ObamaCare's implementation. It would be easy to ignore this during the administration's multi-scandal defensive. But don't -- this one is a keeper.

Hat-tip: Insty.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

The piece includes further analysis of the "free-riding on others" guilt play floated by Ezekiel Emanuel, which we discussed earlier.

Emanuel's expansive view of civic duty plays the game both ways when he accuses individuals who don't purchase health insurance of "freeriding"ť on the public. But their purchase of insurance will allow the preferred plan recipients to free ride on them. Let young people buy their own coverage at market rates, and both forms of freeriding will vanish without the public relations campaign.

But, of course, the president has no intention or desire to eradicate "free-riding" as long as it entails his voters free-riding on his opponents'.

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2013 2:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"A whopping 26 states have defaulted on their option" to create health insurance exchanges.

Unfortunately, Colorado isn't one of them.

www.connectforhealthco.com "the entity that will run the exchange, and cost taxpayers more than $180 million to set up, is slated to start with 39 full time employees collecting an average salary of $85,505. This does not even count the consultants who are lining up to collect more than $11 million (as budgeted now) during the development phase of the exchange." From: Boondoggle: CO Healthcare Exchange Triples Start-up Costs to More Than $180 Million"

Posted by: johngalt at May 14, 2013 5:46 PM
But jk thinks:

That could have bought miles of light rail that nobody uses.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2013 5:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Maybe only a fraction of a mile.

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2013 12:58 PM

May 7, 2013

Insurance Salesman-in-Chief

The President can still stop the train wreck that is his signature piece of legislation and legacy. All he has to do is -- make a speech! He's awesome at that!

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, "senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania and a former health-care adviser to President Obama." And today's guest editorialist at the WSJ. Emmanuel concedes that enrolling "young invincibles" is required to keep this monstrous ship afloat. A less charitable blogger than me would point out that the plan's fiducial framework is built on those who will pay for services they do not use. But Dr. Emmanuel is undaunted:

Fortunately, there are solutions. First, young people believe in President Obama. They overwhelmingly voted for him. He won by a 23% margin among voters 18-29--just the people who need to enroll. The president connects with young people, too, so he needs to use that bond and get out there to convince them to sign up for health insurance to help this central part of his legacy. Every commencement address by an administration official should encourage young graduates to get health insurance.

Second, we need to make clear as a society that buying insurance is part of individual responsibility. If you don't have insurance and you need to go to the emergency room or unexpectedly get diagnosed with cancer, you are free- riding on others. Insured Americans will have to pay more to hospitals and doctors to make up for your nonpayment. The social norm of individual responsibility must be equated with purchasing health insurance.


I sure feel better -- you? No doubt this addresses all of Cato's concerns.

UPDATE: Heh.
taranto130507.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | Comments (4)
But AndyN thinks:

You know, I keep hearing variations on the "young people believe in President Obama" theme, based on the percentage of the vote he got from probably the lowest of the low information voters. I always wonder, has there been a single example other than their presidential votes that that demographic will do anything that's obviously and immediately counter to their own self-interest just because of Obama's personal appeal?

Posted by: AndyN at May 7, 2013 2:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Convince" them to sign up? It's the law! Doesn't making something "the law" make it magically happen?

And they're supposed to participate in Obamacare (R) to avoid the stigma of "free-riding on others?" Bwaa ha ha haaaa!

Enrolling more "young invincibles" eh? Too bad so many are aborted each year.

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2013 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

@AndyN: well said, man -- I'm going to go out on a limb and answer "no."

@jg: "He won by a 23% margin among voters 18-29 --just the people who need to enroll" And they now get to free ride on their parents' health care until they're 26. They only need to avoid the stigma for three years. C'mon -- for President Obama?

Posted by: jk at May 7, 2013 3:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think you're missing the "directive" to the hipsters, jk. They're supposed to avoid the stigma by NOT free-riding.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2013 12:30 PM

May 6, 2013

Quote of the Day

Which brings me to another belief I should update. Three years ago, after Obamacare passed, I predicted that Obamacare would not result in significant reductions in mortality. I now think that this is more likely to be right than I did before. A number of people have been out there saying that the study vindicates their belief in the health benefits of insurance. I would like to hear them say, in clear and simple language, "After seeing the results from Oregon, I now believe that the US mortality rate will fall even farther than I expected, to . . . " with a number, not a hedge about statistically significant studies, attached. -- Megan McArdle
UPDATE: Same topic, from Robert Tracinski:
Jonathan Chait responds by dismissing the significance of the Oregon study--based not on facts but on an emotional appeal which leads off with a bizarre and unintelligible comparison about "throwing puppies out of skyscraper windows."
If a study found that puppies survive steep falls at a higher rate than expected, then you could say the case for throwing puppies out of skyscraper windows has marginally weakened, but would remain extremely strong. Indeed, data notwithstanding, either throwing puppies out of skyscrapers or throwing people off Medicaid are both acts of sadism.
Take that, Republicans, you puppy-killing sadists!
Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2013

Tweetstorm of the day.

Ophthalmologists from across the country walked out of a session on Obamacare Sunday during a national conference being held in San Francisco. Twitchy reported ophthalmologist Dr. Kris Held sent live-tweets from the "Government relations" session on "implementing and complying with Obamacare," saying virtually all the physicians walked out of the speech in disgust.
Click, scroll, repeat. Follow @Kris Held,MD
Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2013

Democrats Against ObamaCare

First the Unions jump ship. Now, "a key architect" dares to caution against the impending "train wreck."

[Sen. Max] Baucus, the chairman of the chamber's powerful Finance Committee and a key architect of the healthcare reform law, said he fears people do not understand how the law will work.

"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," he told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a Wednesday hearing. "You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet."

Baucus pressed Sebelius for details about how the Health Department will explain the law and raise awareness of its provisions, which are supposed to take effect in just a matter of months.

"I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far -- very concerned," Baucus said.


This underreported story is a key element of Michal Cannon's "50 Vetoes" [Review Corner]: the law is buckling under its own bureaucratic weight, and implementing the less popular and more difficult portions affords many opportunities to trim it back or clamor for its repeal.

UPDATE: Karl "Darth" Rove is on the case in today's WSJ Ed Page:

In congressional testimony last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blamed Republican governors for her department's failure to create a "model exchange" where consumers could shop for health-insurance coverage in states that don't set up their own exchange.

Nice try, but GOP governors aren't the problem. Team Obama's tendency to blame someone else for its shortcomings is tiresome. The Affordable Care Act requires HHS to operate exchanges in states that won't operate their own. Since the act became law in March 2010, it has been abundantly clear that the agency would have to deploy a model exchange. It is Ms. Sebelius's fault there isn't one.

There is more to this failure. Even exchanges organized by Democratic and Republican governors may not be functioning by the health-law's Oct. 1 deadline, because HHS has been slow with guidance and approvals.


Almost as if the whole thing was not completely thought through...

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt includes this pic:

obamacare_tommy.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 9:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

First Colorado's first truly Progressive governor, now this:

"I am therefore calling for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act to protect our employers, our industry, and our most important asset: our members and their families."

- United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey M. Robinson

It's almost as if things that can't go on forever, won't.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2013

Review Corner

I'm slacking on you yet again. This week's "book" is a white paper. You can download "50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop the Obama Health Care Law" from Cato, or you can get it all pretty and packaged up for Kindle® from Amazon for $3.49. Spendthrift that I am, I dropped the $3,49 like it was nothin' and enjoyed it on the couch.

A few pages in and one asks "I wonder if this ObamaCare® was really a good idea?" Cannon enumerates the flaws and consequences -- intended and unintended -- of what he dutifully calls PPACA. Because the law diverted some control to the states to get the famous 60 votes, and because the Feds are woefully behind and outclassed in its implementation, Cannon says that the States have a real opportunity to upend the law -- and that they should.

Collectively, states have the power to block that spending and to reduce federal deficits by $ 1.7 trillion by refusing to implement Exchanges and the Medicaid expansion. So far, 34 states, accounting for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population, have refused to establish an Exchange, while 16 have refused to implement the Medicaid expansion. Those states have reduced federal deficits by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Cannon destroys the concept that the state exchanges are actually autonomous examples of Federalism:
The Act thus empowers the secretary to require state-funded Exchanges to operate exactly as she would operate a federal Exchange. One example is the Act's "navigator" program, in which groups that help consumers select an insurance plan-- a role traditionally performed by insurance agents and brokers-- receive funding from Exchanges. Some states have enacted laws requiring navigators to obtain a license. Yet the secretary has prohibited states from requiring navigators to be licensed agents or brokers, or to carry insurance typically carried by agents and brokers. She has also prohibited navigators from receiving any compensation from health plans either inside or outside an Exchange. If the secretary later decides to prohibit insurance agents and brokers from serving as navigators, or likewise to require state-funded Exchanges to exclude certain health plans, state-funded Exchanges will have to obey. What the secretary declares bound in Washington shall be bound in the states; what she declares loosed in Washington shall be loosed in the states.

Even states expecting to proceed with creating exchanges find that the Feds have no plan, no documentation -- not even a Web site.
"We have gotten little bits of information here and there about how the federal exchange might operate," said Linda J. Sheppard, a senior official at the Kansas Insurance Department. "I was on a panel at Rockhurst University here, and I was asked, 'Where is the Web site for the federal exchange?' I chuckled. There really isn’t any federal exchange Web site."
[...]
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of HHS, has repeatedly emphasized that "states have to meet a standard of transparency and accountability." A state exchange must have "a clearly defined governing board,” and the board must hold regular public meetings. . . . By contrast, federal officials have disclosed little about their plans, are vague about the financing of the federal exchanges and have refused even to divulge the "request for proposals" circulated to advertising agencies.

I know. The ThreeSources community is shocked at government opacity, arrogance, and incompetence. Most of the arguments will be familiar to ThreeSourcers: "The Act's 'community rating' price controls force insurers to sell coverage to the sick far below cost, and to the healthy far above cost. In that environment, an insurer that provides the highest-quality care to the sick will attract all the sickest patients, and will quickly go bankrupt, as healthy people avoid that carrier's higher premiums. In this way, the Act's community-rating price controls literally punish health plans that provide the most attractive coverage to the sick."

But the enumeration, collection, and strict documentation of the arguments is well worth your three-fifty. I do not suppose there is much chance in the newly Communist People's Republic of Colorado -- but there are real opportunities to avoid and perhaps repeal this wicked law.

A critical mass of states could force Congress to repeal the law. To some, it is unimaginable that Congress and President Obama would do so-- just as it was once unimaginable that 34 states would refuse to establish Exchanges, or that 16 states would refuse to expand Medicaid, or that congressional Republicans and President Obama would join together to repeal the CLASS Act. The PPACA is weaker, and the path to repeal is clearer, than it has ever been.

Four stars. Dry but informative and short.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:42 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

If the ideologues behind Obamacare and other efforts to promote "equality" such as capping the size of private retirement accounts were to actually go "all in" on that principle they would have to infect every one of us with every disease and sickness known to man. Otherwise, "some animals are more well than others."

Assignment to reader: Look up and post (or just post) your favorite quote on the evils of "equality." My first search will be H.L. Mencken. (Or maybe Eric Hoffer.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 15, 2013 7:24 PM

April 11, 2013

News you can use

Counsel & Heal Magazine:

The study found that women who took off their bras for good experienced a 7mm lift in their nipples each year they didn't wear a bra. Researchers also found that bra-less women developed firmer breasts and saw their stretch marks fade.

For the metrically-challenged, that's over a quarter inch.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

After years of often bitter debate, health care reform--a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act, or if you prefer, Obamacare--will take full effect January 1, 2014. How will it affect your company? Good question. Like Tolstoy's unhappy families, every business will be made unhappy in a different way by the new law. -- Adam Bluestein, Inc Magazine
Hat-tip to Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2013

Coming Soon...

Free Gub'mint Health Care!

The report, which examined conditions at Stafford Hospital in Staffordshire over a 50-month period between 2005 and 2009, cites example after example of horrific treatment: patients left unbathed and lying in their own urine and excrement; patients left so thirsty that they drank water from vases; patients denied medication, pain relief and food by callous and overworked staff members; patients who contracted infections due to filthy conditions; and patients sent home to die after being given the wrong diagnoses.

The NYTimes, that right wing rag, is clearly printing these lies to try and discredit the president's agenda.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2013

What're ya in for, kid?

"I mislabeled a sandwich, but with good behavior, I might be out in three to five..."

Citizens or subjects? One must admit ObamaCare® moves the dial toward the latter.

The proposed regulation would require store owners to label prepared, unpackaged foods found in salad bars and food bars, soups and bakery items. Erik Lieberman, regulatory counsel at the Food Marketing Institute, said testing foods for nutritional data will require either expensive software or even more costly off-site laboratory assessments.

Lieberman said failure to get it right comes with stiff penalties: "If you get it wrong, it's a federal crime, and you could face jail time and thousands of dollars' worth of fines."

Supermarket managers could go to jail if they accidentally mislabel a rotisserie chicken or a salad or a sandwich..

I know, that's FOX News so it's probably completely made up. I won't bother sharing it with my Facebook friends until it is confirmed on MSNBC, Al-Jazeera or some other actual news outlet.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

There must be a new Home Arrest provision in Obamacare somewhere, for incarcerating all of the new "criminals" found guilty of violating all of the new "laws." I know, you think I'm kidding.

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2013 11:59 AM

February 7, 2013

Media: "Move Along, Nothing to See"

President Obama attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast this morning and heard a "surprise guest speaker" deliver the keynote address. Yahoo Finance quoted the speaker, Reknowned pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, in this article.

"I wanted to emphasize the roles faith, values and principles have played in the success of our nation."

(...)

"E pluribus unum means 'out of many one,'" said Carson. "At this critical time in our nation's history, we must remember that 'a house divided against itself cannot stand'. If we learn from the past, we can stand tall in the future."

America the Beautiful calls citizens to use their "God-given talents to improve our lives, our communities, our nation and our world," said Carson. "And I pray that God used my opportunity to reach our entire government for His glory."

But I am not a media mouthpiece so I have no reluctance to cite alternative sources to PR Newswire. Glenn Beck's The Blaze, for example.

The speech took an interesting turn when the doctor cautioned that moral decay and fiscal irresponsibility can have dire consequences — even for powerful countries like America. Here, he became even more pointed and impassioned.

“I think particularly about ancient Rome. Very powerful — nobody could even challenge them militarily…they destroyed themselves from within,” Carson continued. “Moral decay. Fiscal irresponsibility.”

While he said America’s issues are dire, he was positive that the nation can fix its ways, as there are bright and innovative people who simply need to come together to address the problems at hand.

“And one of our big problems right now…our deficit is a big problem,” he said, as Obama watched him intently. ”Think about it — and our national debt — $16 and a half trillion dollars.”

But even this doesn't do it justice. You just have to watch it yourself.

UPDATE: Here is the entire event, running some 82 minutes in length. Dr. Carson begins at 35:00, with an introduction starting 1 minute prior.

I have not yet done so but I encourage a full viewing. 26 minutes. But the bit I want to highlight begins around 16:30, and gets really interesting around 19:00. Don't stop before you reach 22:00. (And don't forget to watch the President's reactions.)

On the original flat tax, the tithe:

"He didn't say if your crops fail, don't give me any tithe. He didn't say if you have a bumper crop give me triple tithe. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make ten billion dollars, you put in a billion. You make ten dollars, you put in one. (...) Now some people say, 'Now that's not fair because it doesn't hurt the guy who made ten billion dollars as much as it hurts the guy who made ten.' Where does it say you have to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot! You know, we don't need to hurt him."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:31 PM | Comments (2)
But dagny thinks:

Hate to quibble here but the tithe, although it may be an appropriate example to follow was NOT a flat tax as described here. It was a flat RATE tax. That distinction is important for our current tax happy government to remember.

Posted by: dagny at February 7, 2013 7:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think that erroneous description is all mine, not the good doctor's. But the reader will have to watch to find out! Good catch.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2013 7:47 PM

January 14, 2013

Quote of the Day

Health-insurance premiums have been rising--and consumers will experience another series of price shocks later this year when some see their premiums skyrocket thanks to the Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare.

The reason: The congressional Democrats who crafted the legislation ignored virtually every actuarial principle governing rational insurance pricing. Premiums will soon reflect that disregard--indeed, premiums are already reflecting it. -- Merrill Matthews and Mark E Litow

Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh, who could've seen this coming?

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, really, it is not as though there were demonstrations in the streets or anything.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If we'll just wait to see what's in the bill, after it's passed, we'll learn that health insurance costs will go down for most Americans because the cost burden will be shifted to the rich.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2013 2:47 PM

December 20, 2012

Coming soon...leeches!

Justin Binik-Thomas talks about his daughter's life-altering surgery, which will soon no longer be available because of ObamaCare. Instead of reconstruction, they'll be doing amputations. . .

As the Professor would say: FORWARD!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2012

Reminder: Obamacare is Bad

Dr. Peter Weiss has a superb column on the "free annual exam" we all get thanks to ObamaCare®.

Obama won, Obamacare is the law, and, as my wife says, I will just have to learn to dance to a new song.

Now, don't get me wrong, Obamacare is awful. Forget all the "free stuff" it provides. Children covered on their parents' plan until 26 years of age? A scam, making young adults -- excuse me, children -- pay for complete, comprehensive health insurance when all they need and should pay for is major catastrophe insurance. Then there is the "annual " or "preventative" exam, which according to Obamacare is "free."

You gotta love this stuff. I wish I had the chutzpah of the people who wrote Obamacare. What they did not tell you, and I am, is that it covers absolutely nothing more than the bare minimum.


(Some) Folks thought Doctor/Senator Rand Paul over the top when he pointed out that "if you have a right to health care, you have the right to enter my home and force me to care for you." Are we very far from that, when the government gets to give away "free" stuff that others have to produce?

I'll save you the search, ThreeSourcers, I read it an hour before I read Weiss's column. Here is the quote you are looking for:

"I quit when medicine was placed under State control, some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything-- except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it." -- Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 744). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:48 AM | Comments (4)
But dagny thinks:

I figure I am preaching to the choir at 3srces but I have more than 300 Facebook friends. Probably the majority are too young to vote as I mostly discuss horses on Facebook. But I decided after we lost the election to see if I could spread a free market message a little wider. So here is my first attempt, posted on Facebook on just this subject:

I have seen here on Facebook a number of individual stories of individuals benefiting from Obamacare. I am very glad these few individuals have gotten what they need. However, I just need to ask a few questions about the bigger picture. If these individuals have gotten what they need at the expense of many others, is that a good thing?
I am the accounting manager and HR director for a small manufacturing company. We just finished our annual insurance renewal process. Surprise! Our insurance premiums are going up AGAIN! The premiums are partially paid by the employees so employee costs are going up AGAIN.
Also, I attended a meeting about the changes to our business due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.) This meeting was run by the Colorado State Health Care Exchange Coordinator (or some such title) and her small army of assistants. So I wondered, who is paying for this meeting, this lady (and her assistants), and the infrastructure (buildings, computers, pencils) to support her brand new government department? This lady (and her assistants) produce no actual health care. However, she must be supported out of the dollars we all spend on health care. Presumably similar meetings are occurring in every state and at every level.
So how can the ACA possibly make Health Care cheaper for all if a whole bunch more people who are not producing care need to be supported with the same health care dollars?
Now, the increases in premiums were not a huge deal for me. But for those here at the company like the receptionist and the janitor, those increases are more problematic. We had several employees elect not to renew coverage due to the increase in premiums. How can the ACA help those who need it most if cost increases affect them the most?
Suppose instead of this lady from the government negotiating for the Exchange, I were allowed to negotiate what my employees need directly with the Insurance companies?? Suppose, if I were not happy with the 3 (count them 3) choices I have in Colorado, I could get my Health Insurance from any company anywhere in the country. Suppose my employees were not required to pay for coverages that WE DON’T WANT? I bet that I could lower costs for myself and my employees and get better coverage for more people with no, “help,” from the government at all.
A very good friend of mine noted on a post a while back, that while the ACA may not be ideal, the issue needs to be, “WORKED ON.” I agree completely! However, the ACA is worse than, “not ideal” It is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. It makes care more expensive and less available despite the title.
I would love to chat with someone who disagrees with me on this out in the Facebook world.

Posted by: dagny at November 27, 2012 9:27 PM
But dagny thinks:

Hopefully I don't get unfriended by everyone I know and my vaulting business doesn't collapse due to un-PC ideas.

Posted by: dagny at November 27, 2012 9:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I saw that on FB and figured that mine was not the opinion you were soliciting...

Good luck, and I'll happily lend you some FB friends who would respond. But the responses would tend toward the thin on rationality and facts. It's interesting to reach out but, as I may have mentioned, it can be unsatisfying to deal with a low information crowd.

I wish I could find the left's ThreeSources -- I'd even let them call me names.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2012 10:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"Jazz, guitars and right-wing politics?"

"Reason and consistency in defense of capitalism and individual rights?"

By what definition can a leftist version of ThreeSources even exist?

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2012 4:56 PM

September 28, 2012

Tax Something More, Get Less of It

Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana was my favorite Democrat for a while. May still be. He has a guest editorial in the WSJ today opposing the medical device tax provision on ObamaCare. The former senator is eloquent, unequivocal, and correct. This industry creates jobs and wealth by improving lives.

The adverse effect of this confiscatory level of taxation on traditional device makers is already clear. In my state of Indiana alone, Cook Medical has canceled plans to build one new U.S. facility annually in each of the next several years, and Zimmer plans to lay off 450 workers, while Hill-Rom expects to lay off 200. Stryker, based in Michigan, anticipates having to lay off 1,000 workers.

As a result of the looming device tax, production is moving overseas, good jobs are going to Europe and Asia, and cutting-edge medical devices will now be produced elsewhere for import into the U.S.

Meanwhile, the impact on the quality of care is incalculable but no less real. Thirty billion dollars must be taken out of operations or R&D. Who knows what lifesaving devices that might have been developed will fall victim to this tax?


Here is the part of the blog post where I wish that Sen. Bayh more consistently used these principles on other industries -- maybe even some not prevalent in the Hoosier State.

But good doggy, going outside!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

This dovetails nicely with an article dagny sent me yesterday, reporting that Beer's Most Expensive Ingredient is Taxes."

According to a recent analysis by the Beer Institute, a national beer trade association that represents beer brewers and importers, 45 percent of what consumers pay for a beer goes to taxes.

But most of this comes from the universal corporate tax that all businesses pay.

Federal and state business taxes: Brewers, distributors and retailers are subject to the same taxes every other business pays. This accounts for 36 cents for every dollar spent on beer.

So Senator Good Doggy must think a full one-third of every company's profit is not "confiscatory." Let's see him run a successful business where, for every two employees he hires he must also hire a government bureaucrat - whose job is then to make his job harder through regulation.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2012 12:04 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It is perhaps no small irony that Pat Stryker, the granddaughter heiress to the Styker fortune and resident of Ft. Collins, CO, is a huge Obama supporter. She also bankrolls may liberal candidates here in the Centennial State and funds "issues ads" attacking Republicans.

So, any buyer's remorse, Ms. Stryker? (The Refugee doubts it - she's probably not that cognizant and would figure that 1000 workers is a small price to pay for the "greater good" - since she's already inherited her wealth anyway.)

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 28, 2012 12:38 PM
But jk thinks:

One is proscribed from generalizing individuals into collectives at ThreeSources, but I will risk it to claim that producers' heirs form the backbone of the mooching community. The grandkids running Carnegie and Ford endowments use the producers' fortunes to eradicate all the conditions that made their creations possible.

The one good consequentialist argument for estate taxes...

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2012 12:46 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I know the Starnes heirs were fictional, so I can generalize away. Atlas Shrugged is so amazingly prescient that sometimes my jaw just drops. Ivy and her healthful soybean diet! It will save the planet and end aggressive behaviors!

Doesn't remind you of anyone real, right? :)

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 28, 2012 6:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I had forgotten that one, Ellis, I had forgotten that...

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2012 9:11 PM

September 10, 2012

Obamacare -- in one sentence!

Hat-tip: IBD

It's by Dr. Barbara Bellar, a motor-scooter-riding animal lover, Army veteran and Republican attorney who's taking on a massive challenge of the Chicago political machine for a state Senate seat to combat the fiscal insanity in Barack Obama's adopted home state, which isn't an easy job, as you might imagine, so she made this hilarious homemade video that captures the colossal stupidity of ObamaCare in one (very long) sentence, like this one.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:10 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Everyone laughs. It's not meant to be funny, it's the facts!

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2012 6:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahaha!

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2012 7:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Everyone but me I s'pose.

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2012 11:17 AM
But jk thinks:

Concatenate the phrase "to keep from cryin'" on the end...

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2012 11:21 AM

August 28, 2012

Pot Smokers' IQ 8 Points Lower - Permanently

With all the usual caveats about the reliability of "scientific studies" here is another datapoint in the marijuana debate.

Prof Moffitt said adolescent brains appeared "more vulnerable to damage and disruption" from cannabis than those of fully mature adults.

Reliable figures on cannabis usage among today's British teens and twentysomethings are hard to come by.

But Prof Moffitt said there was growing concern in the US that cannabis was increasingly being seen as a safe alternative to tobacco.

"This is the first year that more secondary school students in the US are using cannabis than tobacco, according to the Monitoring the Future project at the University of Michigan," she noted.

"Fewer now think cannabis is [more] damaging than tobacco. But cannabis is harmful for the very young."

The news article, by UK Telegraph medical correspondent Stephen Adams, quotes study contributor Professor Terrie Moffitt on the cascading effects of an 8-point IQ diminishment:

"Research has shown that IQ is a strong determinant of a person's access to a college education, their lifelong total income, their access to a good job, their performance on the job, their tendency to develop heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and even early death," she said.

"Individuals who lose eight IQ points in their teens and 20s may be disadvantaged, relative to their same-age peers, in most of the important aspects of life and for years to come."


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:48 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! This is absolutely not a datapoint in the debate.

The debate is not: should you smoke weed? The debate is: do you own yourself? If not, then every "study" is a datapoint in the debate to restrict soft drink sizes, outlaw trans fats, ban cheeseburgers, &c.

If you want a real point in the debate -- I will share a Facebook post here. Lundy Khoy escaped Pol Pot's year zero when she was one. She has lived here her entire life. Now, she faces deportation for an ecstasy charge (and horrifically stupid perhaps criminally negligent candor).

We surrender our liberties, endure violence, lose billions of dollars to both crime and enforcement. But when we start deporting attractive young Cambodian women -- it's just got to stop!

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2012 3:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Apologies for treading so closely to a hot-button without a better disclaimer. Prior to posting I changed the first draft from "drug legalization debate" to "marijuana debate" but left the "War on Drugs" categorization because I thought it germane.

I completely agree that adult marijuana use should not be prohibited by law. I do, however, oppose the prevalent notion that marijuana use is harmless - either completely so or at least virtually.

A reading of the story reveals that harm is permanent among adolescent onset users, temporary for college and later onset. Perhaps an age restriction could be debated.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2012 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I may apologize someday for the vicious energy-drink attack.

But I feel disappointed, saddened, and surprised that the liberty argument finds no purchase at ThreeSources. On your age restriction, if you mean adults-only, by all means. If you suggest 25 or older to escape damage, then you really do not get what I am saying and deserve the rebarbative energy drink post. Grown ups can make their own decisions.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2012 4:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"No purchase?" None? Oh, you mean those other guys.

But if I may, I do see a parallel here to 'Libertario delenda est.' Complete legalization of drugs, like complete free-market capitalism, is pragmatically a bridge too far in the political sphere, which necessarily requires consensus amongst "the folks."

Maybe in our lifetimes. We can both hope.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2012 4:45 PM

August 27, 2012

"And they claim Paul Ryan's proposal is radical?"

The WSJ has a comprehensive editorial on "Cheesecake Factory Medicine." One could not do better for an intelligent comparison of free markets versus top-down bureaucracy in any field. In something as important as health care, it is damming.

"Fifteen unelected bureaucrats" has become a GOP talking point. Maybe people get what the IPAB is, but I suspect most do not.

The longer-run danger is that Mr. Orszag's cost board starts to decide what types of care "work" for society at large and thus what individual patients are allowed to receive. One way or another, health costs must come down. And if Mr. Ryan's market proposal is rejected, then government a la Orszag will do it by brute political force.

A murderer's row of liberal health-care gurus--Zeke Emanuel, Neera Tanden, Don Berwick, David Cutler, Uwe Reinhardt, Steve Shortell, Mr. Orszag, many others--recently acknowledged as much in the New England Journal of Medicine. They conceded that "health costs remain a major challenge" despite ObamaCare. That would have been nice to know in, oh, 2009 or 2010.

Anyhow, their big idea is the very old idea of price controls that are "binding on all payers and providers," much as post-RomneyCare Massachusetts is already doing. When that strategy fails as it always has, and the public denies further tax increases, the Orszag payment board will then start to ration or prohibit access to medical resources that it decides aren't worth the expense.


Yeah, price controls. That'll work.

The entire piece is superb This link should work for seven days without respecting Rupert's property rights.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:31 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Your FB friends will read this as, "WSJ calls those who want to end corporate welfare 'murderers."

But this is ThreeSources and we may speak substantively. FOO [Friends Of Obamacare] are scrambling to find a way to defend the PPACA's raiding of Medicare funds. It need not be substantive mind you, it merely needs to blunt the attack when it comes from candidate Romney. Therefore, anything that suggests Obamacare will work like Romneycare will suit their purpose. After all, candidate Romney said as recently as yesterday in a Fox News Sunday interview that he is still "proud of what we did in Massachusetts."

All right, that was political and not substantive. One of our Austrian fathers (or was it that Russian immigrant woman) taught us that scarce resources are always rationed - the choice is whether they are rationed by cost or by force. But of course if FB denizens ever figured that out there would no longer be a thriving marketplace for politicians.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2012 11:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Or, 'breathe from the diaphragm, Porky!"

The best shot to share with the lefties is the end, where they make a great point that degradation of middle class care will lead to a two-tier system, with the rich and connected getting much better health care relative to us plebes than they do now.

Now a bifurcated system might actually be a good idea. I call it "The Irish Model." In Ireland they have free, public, but terrible health care (compassion, check!) But everyone buys private insurance to escape it -- and it is arguably more free market than ours. But, I don't think that will fly with the left. Unless you labeled it "ObamaCare…"

Posted by: jk at August 27, 2012 12:20 PM

August 13, 2012

Otequay of the Ayday

Such explosive growth in debt can't go on forever, and it won't. Yet our current leaders and their apologists insist that the problem will magically solve itself. Last year's deficit came in slightly below forecasts, and we've had one quarter of good economic growth -- see, we'll grow out of the deficit!

(...)

Let's hope that works -- but hope is not a plan.

Just as the federal government is in no immediate danger of running out of money, our forces in Iraq are in no danger of outright defeat. But in both cases, current policies appear to be unsustainable: we can't go on like this indefinitely. And things that can't go on forever, don't.

Paul Krugman (2003)

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:46 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Would that be "Nobel Laureate, Dr. Paul Krugman?"

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2012 5:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh, not in 2003! :) And the "Dr." wasn't on his byline.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2012 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

The Times Style Guide eschews honorifics.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2012 6:13 PM
But AndyN thinks:

He may not have been "Nobel Laureate, Dr. Paul Krugman" at that point, but I'm pretty sure he was already "former paid Enron economic adviser Paul Krugman" by then. A point that everyone who ever has to face off against him in public needs to remind their audience early and often.

Posted by: AndyN at August 13, 2012 9:46 PM

July 6, 2012

Massachusetts Experiment - The Verdict

As a leading expert on the Massachusetts health care system, candidate Romney is in an excellent position to explain why the health plan he helped create for Massachusetts (quite different from what he would have done without his "partners" in the Democrat-controlled state legislature) was a failure. Here's the message:

So "Obamacare" is not only now "Obamatax" it's also "Obamasityourassdownandshutup."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:41 PM | Comments (0)

Solutions

Anybody can just get on a blog and whine. I like to fix things!

Paul Caron @ TaxProfBlog brings news that IRS Goes on 'Hiring Frenzy' After Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Affordable Care Act

I think it's a superb job opportunity for all the doctors who are quitting medicine to escape ObamaCare®

Posted by John Kranz at 9:31 AM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2012

Struggling to find the Losers

Jonah Goldberg steps in to help an NPR journalist with a difficult question:

Someone in the audience asked NPR health-policy correspondent Julie Rovner this question: "Today’s decision is a positive decision for the estimated 50 million uninsured Americans. Who are the losers today?"

Rovner seemed to struggle to find losers. She came up with insurance companies that want the so-called individual mandate -- now a punitive tax, according to the Supreme Court -- to be much more punitive. After thinking through her answer, she later added that another group of losers might be the citizens of states whose governors opt to not participate in the law's expansion of Medicaid.

So, Obamacare creates no losers except where it fails to tax people sufficiently and where GOP governors fail to accept the wisdom of the law. In short, the only thing wrong with Obamacare is that it isn't even more punitive, more mandatory, and more intrusive.


After that, it starts to get good...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

For those of us who oppose the Affordable Care Act as a policy matter, this is a bad day. For those of us in this fight to preserve the limits of constitutional government, this is not a bad day. -- Randy Barnett
The quote is pulled out of an Ezra Klein piece of all things. The juicebox mafiosi has the unfortunate task of explaining to the left that Chief Roberts is an evil genius and that they have all been had.

I'd give it more credence if he did not make two errors in the lead paragraph. It's Charles EvanS Hughes -- and I don't know that being called a politician would be such an affront to the 1916 Republican Presidential Nominee.

Hat-tip: Paul Rahe who brings an interesting point I heard in passing on Kudlow last night.

There, let me add, is one other possibility. The version of Obamacare that became law originated in the Senate. The Constitution stipulates that all tax bills must originate in the House. Were I Randy Barnett, I would file another suit arguing that the mandate is unconstitutional because the Senate cannot originate tax bills.


Posted by John Kranz at 9:47 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The first page of the Rahe piece is very good and I look forward to the rest, but I remind that the ACA was transparently inserted as wholesale replacment for an unrelated house bill thus, in technicality only, meaning it "originated" in the house. At least that is the way I remember it.

Posted by: johngalt at June 29, 2012 12:46 PM

The Non-Ideological Roberts Court

In 'Don't Squat With Yer Spurs On' Texas Bix Bender wrote, "When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." But I'm gonna interrupt.

This morning I wrote, "So my conclusion is that Roberts just didn't want to be villified as an "unelected emperor" who "took away America's free [unearned] health care."

This afternoon Charles Krauthammer wrote,

Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with ObamaCare. Hence his straining in his ObamaCare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5-4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.

National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts' concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

I left the detailed explanation to the professional.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:01 AM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

I enjoy Krauthammer's decisiveness and clarity. But he is a professional in that he is trained in Psychiatry and makes his living as a pundit.

If we're to appeal to authority, I am a lot more comfortable with legal bloggers like Glenn Reynolds, Ann Althouse, William Jacobson and the lads at PowerLine. These four sites can be mined for a diversity of opinion from "Roberts the Cunning Genius" to "Losing is losing, kids -- put the saccharine away."

I fight because it's my nature but more importantly because the Roberts Court is supremely worthy of defense. It is difficult enough to navigate the legal complexities of the decision without imagining that we have some window to the Chief Justice's soul.

The charge you and DoctorKraut make is pretty serious. The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court chose popularity over jurisprudence. I have seen no empirical evidence nor suggestions in the Pirate -- I mean Chief -- Roberts's history or character to support it.

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2012 9:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I can see that I wasn't effusive enough in my thanks for your help in changing my perspective on Roberts' ruling. I, and I think Krauthammer, do not criticize the Chief Justice for strategically protecting the court's prestige. To the contrary, Dr. K concluded that in addition to "Commerce Clause contained and "constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed" Roberts also achieved "Supreme Court's reputation for neutrality maintained." Krauthammer said he wouldn't have ruled that way but he also didn't disparage Roberts' ruling. And neither do I, thanks to you and Lawrence Solum, as I expressed in a comment here last night.

I posted the Krauthammer piece because of its insight, and because it supported my original premise for why a conservative would uphold this ridiculous law - not for vanity, but for objectivity. Yes, I was bragging. But no "impeach Roberts" sentiment was intended.

The 24-hour old image of my premise has President Obama as Emperor Hirohito, Justice Roberts as President Franklin Roosevelt, and the newly legitimized Obamacare law as Pearl Harbor. Whether Roberts or Roosevelt intentionally allowed the slaughter is irrelevant. A rallying point is made.

To complete the picture I will recite the reflection attributed to Admiral Yamamoto: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." I can confirm that my friends and family are spitting mad over this. The Liberty Movement is reanimating all across the country. Roberts has awakened it to the reality that, in my brother's words, "the Constitution is in the toilet." And I'm not inclined to talk any of them down until after November 6th.

Posted by: johngalt at June 29, 2012 12:36 PM
But Robert thinks:

Althouse has another good post that speculates Roberts is, in essence saying:

"People need to stay alert and pay attention. Be skeptical of labels. Did somebody say nobody considers this a tax increase? And you believed it? You are not sophisticated enough to live in a democracy!"

Or, shorter version: Sharpen up. Bitches.

Posted by: Robert at June 29, 2012 1:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I retract. If not you and not the good Doctor, there is plenty to go around. Et tu Jonah Goldberg:

Roberts didn't hide it at all. Instead he all but declared that the Today Show and Meet the Press chatter about polarization and partisanship on the Court got to him. This is an error of Aesopian proportions. If you think you can appease the Doris Kearns Goodwin Caucus you don't understand how liberalism works. I guarantee it: The next time there's an important case before the Court, liberals and "moderates" will insist that Roberts capitulate again if he wants to keep his hard-earned reputation as a reasonable man. Indeed, all he's done is fuel the notion that a reasonable conservative is one who surrenders to liberals while offering interesting explanations for their surrender.

I cannot of course prove that this is not true. And I don't mean to be in full jump up and down mode. But I -- and Jonah -- ask our friends on the other side to discuss facts and ideas.

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2012 2:25 PM

June 28, 2012

Agree

Mrs. Obama:

"Change absolutely starts with each of us, as individuals, taking responsibility for ourselves and our families because we know that our kids won't grow up healthy until our families start eating right and exercising more. That's on us," she said. "We know that we won't close that education gap until we turn off the TV, and supervise homework, attend those parent-teacher conferences, and serve as good role models for our own children."

Taken entirely as a stand-alone, without ad hominem: I agree.

Now let's apply this standard to everyone, all the time. I think if you're on government assistance, they should shut your television down.

Take responsibility. Bitches.

Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 8:55 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Oh sweet NED, I do sense a fresh entry into the ThreeSources style guide. Thank you Patrick Gaspard, from the bottom of my heart!

And while I agree with FLOTUS' "take responsibility" theme it rings hollow on the very day her husband's "we'll take care of you" law escaped the guillotine. Ironically, her simple advice, if followed, would do more to advance the prosperity of "poorly-educated obese black children" than all of President Obama's policies laid end to end.

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 10:14 PM

Another Sunny View

Our Marbury v Madison? Daniel Epps finds parallels. In Health Care Ruling, Roberts Steals a Move From John Marshall's Playbook

So the president was ready for the Court to break right or break left. But instead, Chief Justice Roberts juked. He agreed with the challengers that the mandate couldn't be justified under the Commerce Clause or even the Necessary and Proper Clause -- thereby reinforcing the narrative that the Democratic Congress overreached in passing the bill. His opinion -- though not the result -- may provide much help in the future to judicial conservatives, as it suggests that, with the dissent, five justices are in favor of a more aggressive role for the Court in policing the bounds of the Commerce Clause (and the Spending Clause, which was at issue in the Medicaid legislation). And while Roberts ultimately voted to uphold the Act, he did so on a ground that, for Obama, plays terribly: that it's a tax.

UPDATE: Taranto: We Blame George W. Bush:
His decision was a disappointment to those, including this columnist, who are anxious to be rid of this monstrous law. That will require legislative action. But on the most important question of constitutional doctrine, Roberts handed a big defeat to the legal left.

UPDATE II: Yet William Jacobson @ Legal Insurrection is not feelin' the love!
To paraphrase Joe Biden, I have just four words for you:

BIG —— DEAL

If this were some other more narrow law, if this was not a monumental takeover of the most private aspects of our lives, if this monstrosity would not cause such long term damage to our health care system, if this law was not Obamacare ….

I might be inclined to agree with you.

But it is Obamacare, it is the takeover of a substantial portion of our economy which empowers the federal government to write tens of thousands of pages of regulations telling us how to live and how to die.

This was the hill to fight on for any conservative Justice of the Supreme Court.

Yet because the conservative Chief Justice sided with the liberal Justices on the result, we have Obamacare.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:51 PM | Comments (2)
But Terri thinks:

Ann Althouse sees the sunny side too.

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2012/06/chief-justice-roberts-writes-opinion.html

I'm starting to get out of my funk for the day and proactively sent money to the candidate vowing repeal.

Posted by: Terri at June 28, 2012 6:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The broken-record refrain on talk radio is "they just invented a new government power to tax people for not buying things." I sang from the same echo-chamber this morning but now being enlightened as to what is meant by the phrase "the Constitution is what Supreme Court precedent says it is" I understand we're supposed to rejoice in this ruling because it openly asserts what has been understood only by legal scholars up til now:

"Congress [has] unlimited authority to regulate any activity that was economic in nature."

Any Constitutional restrictions on this existed only in the legal climate that existed prior to 1913, and in the idealistic imaginations of people like myself. But now, thanks to Chief Justice Roberts, even NASCAR retards know this. Finally they may see a real difference between a country governed by Democrats and one governed by Republicans. Electoral politics is not just about guns and abortions anymore. The debate will finally be about whether or not our government can make its citizens do things whether they want to or not.

Thank you Justice Roberts for ripping off the Band-aid of liberty. Our polity may now either heal or bleed to death.

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 9:36 PM

Maybe the World IS ThreeSources

A good friend of this blog sends a link, suggesting "You asked for this type of debate. Here it is:"

This presidential election is "a choice," Romney said. "You can choose whether you want to have a larger and larger government, more and more intrusive in your life -- separating you and your doctor -- whether you're comfortable with more deficits, higher debt that we pass onto the coming generations. Whether you're willing to have the government put in place a plan that potentially causes you to lose the insurance that you like or whether instead you want to return to a time when the American people will have their own choice in healthcare. Where consumers will be able to make their choices as to what kind of health insurance they want."

"This is the time of choice for the American people," Romney said.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:24 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Game on. "Bitches."

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 3:45 PM

More Silver Lining...

Before mine. ThreeSourcers now have $650 to fight over.

UPDATE:

Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

Constitution 1 - Taxpayers 0

Fellow freedom advocates, do not panic. Step back from the ledge. By a single vote the Supreme Court has avoided a catastrophic expansion of the Commerce Clause. The rest, as they say, is politics. Including Chief Justice Roberts' ruling:

"If an individual does not maintain health insurance, the only consequence is that he must make an additional payment to the IRS when he pays his taxes," Roberts writes. He adds that this means "the mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance. Rather, it makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning an income."

Hmmm, that's pretty thin Jim. The minority counters:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the court's swing vote, dissented, reading from the bench that he and three conservative justices believe "the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety." In a 65-page dissent, he and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dismissed Roberts' arguments, writing that there is a "mountain of evidence" that the mandate is not a tax. "To say that the Individual Mandate merely imposes a tax is not to interpret the statute but to rewrite it," they write.

Very persuasive. So my conclusion is that Roberts just didn't want to be villified as an "unelected emperor" who "took away America's free [unearned] health care." I agree with Yahoo News' Oliver Knox who writes-

But while Obama initially kept quiet, the early response from the law's main supporters and detractors showed that the court's ruling had essentially offered the Affordable Care Act only a reprieve, and that the law's fate was entwined with the results of the presidential election.

Finally, does anyone suppose that news outlets are falling all over themselves to get the "Obamacare Constitutional" message out as quickly as possible?

Individual%20mandate%206-4.jpg

No mention of the name of that tenth justice.

UPDATE: As of 11:57 am EDT that headline has been changed to: Individual mandate survives a 5-4 vote with Roberts voting to keep it

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:36 AM | Comments (11)
But Robert thinks:

Even better! Salon dude suddenly realizes that the crafty Roberts has lost a battle to win the war: Link.

Posted by: Robert at June 28, 2012 2:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I admit the motive I attribute to Roberts is pure speculation but I stand by it. I think he did it not for vanity but for what he perceives to be best for the national polity. The matter can only be justly resolved, he may believe, through democratic election. This is a fair opinion to hold, for any individual NOT a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America as Constituted.

Further thought has me spoiling for a fight over the notion that Roberts' position is defensible under the law- Prior to the inequity of the Sixteenth Amendment the Constitution prohibited unequal taxation, and even after that amendment it allows inequity only in taxation on incomes. The Obamacare "tax" applies only to the class of persons who are uninsured and is therefore not a uniform tax, but punishment for a personal act contravening the wishes of the Legislature. It summarily declares such persons guilty of some crime and punishes them without benefit of a judicial trial. It is effectively a bill of attainder, expressly prohibited under Article I. Section 9.

I submit that this line of reasoning is, at the very least, as defensible as Chief Justice Roberts'.

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

@Robert: YES! I was just going to post that -- must read!

And most closely resembles my personal early opinion. Getting rid of Wickard would be even better for liberty than getting rid of the ACA.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2012 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

@jg: Book me passage for two to your world, bro -- it would be a great place to live.

Seriously, while you are correct, 'round these parts, Congress's taxing authority is limitless. Much better examples of bills of attainder have passed with little scrutiny. Let me say "defensible" in the context of Solum's gestalt.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2012 3:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Slate guy: "Roberts' genius was in pushing this health care decision through without attaching it to the coattails of an ugly, narrow partisan victory. Obama wins on policy, this time. And Roberts rewrites Congress' power to regulate, opening the door for countless future challenges. In the long term, supporters of curtailing the federal government should be glad to have made that trade."

i.e. To benefit the "national polity." I still think interpreting it as a tax was incorrect but can now forgive Roberts for the error. Especially given Sarah Palin's latest Tweet: "Thank you, SCOTUS. This Obamacare ruling fires up the troops as America's eyes are opened!"

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 3:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The Solum piece is very instructive brother. Thank you. Mine was certainly "a pre-New-Deal vision of real and substantial limits on Congress's enumerated powers" along with Justice Thomas. But as an agreeable sort I can be persuaded to join forces with the "alternative gestalt." [Fourth from last paragraph.]

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 3:42 PM

Tweet of the Day

From the DNC -- so good it had to be retracted! Politico:


Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2012

Did I mention "Go to Hell!"?

I've been a shill and a stooge for Big Pharma since I started blogging. Sad to see that I was also a rube.

I did a smaller post on this a couple weeks back, but the WSJ Ed Page has exposed the cronyism to a larger extent than I feared.

On Friday House Republicans released more documents that expose the collusion between the health-care industry and the White House that produced ObamaCare, and what a story of crony capitalism it is. If the trove of emails proves anything, it's that the Tea Party isn't angry enough.

Over the last year, the Energy and Commerce Committee has taken Nancy Pelosi's advice to see what's in the Affordable Care Act and how it passed. The White House refused to cooperate beyond printing out old press releases, but a dozen trade groups turned over thousands of emails and other files. A particular focus is the drug lobby, President Obama's most loyal corporate ally in 2009 and 2010.

The business refrain in those days was that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu. But it turns out Big Pharma was also serving as head chef, maitre d'hotel and dishwasher. Though some parts of the story have been reported before, the emails make clear that ObamaCare might never have passed without the drug companies. Thank you, Pfizer.


After that, the gloves come off and they get a bit angry. It is a lengthy column that will anger a sentient reader several times but it should be read. In full.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:34 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

"Outrage over this kind of cronyism is what animates the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, whose members aren't powerful enough to get special dispensations from the government—or even a fair hearing from their putative representatives."

A-flippin-men.

Also noteworty, 4th and 5th from the last paragraph.

Posted by: johngalt at June 12, 2012 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup. The whole thing is a fine excuse to subscribe, but for those on the wrong side of Rupert's paywall, my blog brother refers to:

The lesson for Republicans if they do end up running the country next year is that their job is to restore the free and fair market that creates broad-based economic growth. The temptation will be to return for the sake of power to the methods of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff. If they do, voters will return the GOP to private life as surely as they did the Democrats in 2010.

The warning to business is also fundamental. Crony capitalism undermines public trust in capitalism itself and risks blowback that erodes the free market that private companies need to prosper and that underlies the productivity and competitiveness of the U.S. economy. The political benefits of cronyism are inherently temporary, but the damage it does is far more lasting.

Posted by: jk at June 12, 2012 4:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I find it noteworthy that I was able to read the entire article on the WSJ site, and I'm currently not a subscriber.

Posted by: johngalt at June 13, 2012 1:13 PM

June 4, 2012

Proud of my Party Today

If you want less of something, tax it. So who ordered fewer innovative medical devices?

So though it is destined to die in the Democratic-run Senate, GOP leaders plan to push legislation through the House this week to repeal an excise tax on the makers of medical devices sold in the U.S. sales.

Democrats say the growing medical device industry can afford the 2.3 percent tax due to take effect next January. They describe the tax as part of the price device manufacturers and other providers agreed to pay in exchange for the tens of millions of new customers they will get through the sweeping 2010 health care law’s expansion of health insurance coverage.

That's not the view of Republicans or the medical device industry, which has lobbied Congress heavily to kill the tax before it takes hold. GOP lawmakers have named their legislation the Protect Medical Innovation Act, and insist it is not aimed at dismantling Obama's health care law.

"That’s not part of my agenda," said chief sponsor Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., whose state is one of the centers of the nation's $130 billion-a-year medical device industry. He said the tax would eat up dollars that otherwise might go toward research and development -- and jobs.


Yo! Crony capitalist Democrats! It was not innovators and creators of tomorrow's life saving devices that "agreed to pay in exchange for the tens of millions of new customers they will get." That was the existing manufacturers who like the status quo.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

We have GOT to figure out a way to tax government.

Posted by: johngalt at June 4, 2012 3:12 PM

June 1, 2012

What Crony Capitalism Looks Like

I have spent a lot of typing defending Big Pharma from those who do not understand innovation nor property rights.

But they can pretty much go to hell!

Newly released emails give an inside look at how the White House struck a deal with the pharmaceutical industry in 2009 to get support for the health bill that ultimately passed the next year.

Drug makers and their lobbyists believed they got a good bargain, the emails show. As The Wall Street Journal and others reported at the time, the companies escaped price controls and forced the president to back down on his 2008 campaign promise to allow the reimportation of cheaper drugs from other countries.

In May 2009, after the administration was hit by negative stories about the rising costs of its proposed health care overhaul, a drug industry lobbyist emailed colleagues, "Perfect timing to cut our deal w the White House as this is swirling."


Adam Smith nailed it in 1776.
[Interest] in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public...The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.

And Milton Friedman -- centuries later -- reminds that the interest of the corporation is to increase its asset value. And yet, this deal with the devil seems rather short-sighted. Even wicked guitar skills last a lifetime once bestowed. Government regulation will pull this "industry benefit" away the first chance it gets.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:31 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

James Taggart, call your office.

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2012 1:10 PM
But jk thinks:

A Mr. Mouch on line one. . .

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2012 1:25 PM

May 31, 2012

Otequay of the Ayday

Obama also has made the dubious claim that preventive care "saves money for families, for businesses, for government, for everybody." Problem: It's not true. Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf warned in 2009, "Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall." Elmendorf cited a 2008 New England Journal of Medicine article that reported that less than 20 percent of preventive services save money, whereas the rest drive up costs.

-- Right-wing nutjob Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle, via RCP


Posted by JohnGalt at 11:55 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

WSJ's ObamaCare in reverse is awesome today. The State of Maine deregulated health insurance and premiums went down. Mirabile freakin' dictu!

Holler if anybody wants a version emailed through the paywall.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2012 12:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Small comfort: Things that can't go on forever, don't.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2012 5:10 PM

May 30, 2012

Three Cheers for my Senator!

Politicians will disappoint, yet there are also surprises to the upside. My Junior Senator, Michael Bennet, and neighboring Utah's Orrin Hatch (leans-RINO UT), don't enjoy many fulsome huzzahs from ThreeSources. And yet they are taking on the FDA on an important incursion into a new field they aim to destroy, viz., medical tracking software.

Something as simple as an iPhone app to record your glucose readings is not too small for the great thinkers at the FDA to spend ten years approving. After all, people might die!

A handful of mobile apps read data streams transmitted by medical devices implanted in patients, but one that tracks your pacemaker or blood sugar isn't the same as software embedded in medical devices that are cut into your body and then generate data. In its regulatory grab, the FDA is pretending not to be able to tell the difference.

The result could be the worst regulatory mismatch possible. An FDA process that takes years cannot possibly be applied to technologies that run on our phones or iPads and get updated on a regular basis.

Sens. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) and Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) have introduced an amendment that puts a moratorium on the FDA's power grab while Congress studies how to build a modern regulatory framework suited to these new software tools. There's good reason why apps that support doctor and patient decisions might merely need to meet certain specifications (regarding ease of use, for example, or reproducibility of performance) to earn government approval, rather than undergo the time-consuming and costly premarket clearance that the FDA demands for other kinds of products.

The Bennet-Hatch amendment--which a bipartisan group of senators is trying to insert into a bill expected to pass Congress this week (the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which helps fund the FDA's operations)--asks for the different government agencies that already have a stake in this software technology to work together on developing proposals for regulating these new tools.


Well done, lads!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2012

If I wanted America to Fail

Here we see that Francisco d'Anconia now has a contemporary counterpart with his own YouTube channel.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2012

All Hail Harsanyi!

I'd seen something on this, but my pal Harsanyi explodes it. The Administration proposes a "pilot" program to delay the budget-cut side of ObamaCare® until next year.

If the law had been followed as written, Obamacare should have slashed the popular market-oriented Medicare Advantage program this year. The cuts are needed to divert funding to a Medicaid expansion that will provide coverage to millions of uninsured -- the central case for the creation of Obamacare.

It's no surprise that Medicare's most market-focused program pushes down premiums and enrollment up. So rather than allow millions of enrollees in vital swing states, such as Florida, to experience a major benefit cut right before an election, the administration founded an $8.3 billion pilot program. This year, for example, the program offsets about 70 percent of the cuts in Advantage. The cost will be paid from the Medicare trust fund (which had a $288.3 billion shortfall this year). The consequences will be put off, conveniently, until after the election.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2012

Quote of the Day

The Obamacratic Party's raison d'ètre is to expand the Welfare State. Obamacrats do not believe markets work for healthcare. Obamacrats believe making a profit in the healthcare sector is immoral. -- James Pethokoukis, The Tao of Obamacare in just 30 Words
Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

But the health care law's troubles shed some further light on the crisis of American progressivism and the blue social model it has built. Those who believe in the blue model and want to extend it have lost their touch; the dream machines of the blue social engineers don't sail serenely across the azure sky anymore. Think of the various carbon exchanges and environmental planetary schemes; think of high speed rail proposals like California's $100 billion train to bankruptcy; think of Obamacare. These days the experts, "social entrepreneurs" and smart young blue twenty somethings fresh out of the Ivy League whomp up social programs with as much verve and dedication as their New Deal and Great Society predecessors, but the new Dreamliners don't take off. At most they roll around the runway, emitting clouds of noxious smoke; wings fall off, windows pop out, turbines misfire and the tires go flat. -- Walter Russell Mead (Whole thing read must!)
Hat-tip Insty. In an Instavision interview, Professor Mead admits he voted for President Obama, which surprised me because he has been consistently critical.

Oh well, even "our Margaret" has wiped the scales from her eyes

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I posted this article on Facebook as well. It will be interesting to see what my lefty friends will say. (The first critique was stylistic and perhaps correct: the good professor might have stepped too deeply into the metaphor pool.)

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2012 12:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of "the crisis of American progressivism..." Keith Olberman fired today by Current TV.

In his forty weeks on Current TV, Mr. Olbermann had an average of 177,000 viewers at 8 p.m., down from the roughly one million that he had each night on MSNBC. Just 57,000 of those viewers on any given night were between the ages of 25 and 54, the coveted advertising demographic for cable news. Still, Mr. Olbermann ranked as the highest-rated program on Current, as Mr. Hyatt acknowledged earlier this month.
Posted by: johngalt at March 30, 2012 6:18 PM
But jk thinks:

The cruel vicissitudes of the free market.

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2012 6:49 PM

March 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

The Affordable Care Act is not merely a "law" that the Supreme Court argued over this week. It is a massive Rube Goldberg contraption. Its 2,700 pages include every pipe, whistle and valve that the nation's academic health-care economists and doctors have soldered together from infinite studies of hospital data. The new machine even has its own boiler-room crew, the 15 health-care academics of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, who will monitor and adjust the flow of medicine through the national health-care pipelines.

They say their magnificent machine will work for everyone in America only if everyone in America is inside of it. This was Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's argument before the Supreme Court on behalf of the law's mandate. This is what the Catholic hospitals discovered when the ACA's designers pulled the sheet off the new machine. -- Dan Henninger. We're not France, Yet!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:12 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2012

America's Healthcare Future?

It could be, if victory in the sport of Constitution Deconstitution goes in favor of the Progressives. Then we Yanks could also find ourselves having to make rationing choices between septuagenarians and "obese 30-somethings." The UK Telegraph's Christina Odone concludes, "Age should not be a barrier to optimum care; but bad habits should be."

I have a different perspective. Neither group deserves such blanket discrimination. Instead, everyone deserves the quality and quantity of healthcare he is willing to prioritize high enough in his budget to be able to purchase. Those who spend their healthcare insurance premiums on cigarettes and Mars bars deserve a different fate than those who do the opposite.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:28 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Just scored the Kindle sample -- looks interesting.

Four years old, but Arnold Kling's Crisis of Abindance is very good as well.

Posted by: jk at March 28, 2012 4:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One of the authors had an hour-long segment on Mike Rosen today. A good summary and prelude to reading the book.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2012 6:01 PM

Quote of the Day

You do not often see the word "massacre" in headlines about oral arguments before the Supremes. -- Jim Geraghty [subscribe]
Color me cautiously optimistic. I don't think this game is over yet, but I am glad ObamaCare® had a bad day.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Surreal: The fate of Constitutional limits on America's federal government hangs in the balance and all we can do is watch, comment and cheer, like it is a sports contest.

Meanwhile, a market-based (read: sustainable) solution to healthcare can be found in this book authored by members of the Pioneer Institute public policy research group in, Massachusetts.

Posted by: johngalt at March 28, 2012 3:18 PM

March 26, 2012

Pre-Review Corner

I doubt there was advanced planning, but the 2012 release date of James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin Raeder Gutzman is fortuitous at the very least.

I'm drawn to Madison for his powerful intellect and his understanding that the exact structure of government defines it and suggests consequences both intended and not. Knowing him more from his essays in the Federalist, I was surprised by Gutzman's account of the Philadelphia Convention, from Madison's notes -- and others -- on how many significant Constitutional issues in which "The Father" of the Constitution did not get his way. Yet he took the challenge up to pen the Federalist essays -- as a New Yorker, no less -- providing a full-throated, fulsome defense of each clause.

The timing is propitious [I thought you said fortuitous...?] for me because of the opening of oral arguments in the ObamaCare suit. Even though my man Madison seeks a much stronger Federal (all but National) government, I am confident from his strong devotion to enumerated powers would carry the day, had we not strayed so far from the concept of limited government. Gutzman includes his assertion that the General Welfare Clause does not open the door wider that the gents in Philadelphia wanted:

"For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted," he asks, "if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural or common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars." To read the section in the critics' way, he says, "is an absurdity."

I'm about halfway through and find it very enlightening.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)
But Kevin R. C. Gutzman thinks:

Actually, the book was ready for release nearly a year ago, but we held it until last month precisely to coincide with the presidential campaign season.

Posted by: Kevin R. C. Gutzman at March 26, 2012 4:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the comment -- the book is great!

Posted by: jk at March 26, 2012 7:38 PM

March 14, 2012

JG agrees with Boulder DA

Like myself, Boulder's [Democrat] District Attorney Stan Garnett doesn't understand why the Obama Justice Department is so tough on the medical marijuana business. After all, aren't Democrats and weed activists fellow travelers? And, perhaps because I had dinner with the man 12 days ago (well, actually, different tables in the same Boulder burger joint) I agree verbatim with General Garnett on this sentence from his letter to United States Attorney John Walsh:

"The people of Boulder County do not need Washington, D.C., or the federal government dictating ..." WAIT! Stop right there.

But he continued, "how far dispensaries should be from schools or other fine points of local land use law," Garnett wrote.

I don't think Garnett helped his effort by suggesting what the US Attorney's priorities should be, but that probably won't be what makes or breaks the G-Men's "prosecutorial discretion."

In the "things that make you say, hmmm" department: The article also says that Boulder has an estimated 12 dispensaries within 1000 feet of a school.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I think it is part of the First Lady's initiative to make schoolchildren walk more.

Flippancy aside, yaay DA Garnett for asserting our rights -- maybe he'll join The Filburn Society. (Do follow that link if you have not seen it!)

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2012 4:23 PM
But Bryan thinks:

It’s wonderful to see the Boulder DA standing up to the Feds on what really is a 10th Amendment issue.

It’s too bad that he and other Democrats (and some Republicans), don't apply this principal consistently on all of the issues that the Federal Government should not be meddling in.

Posted by: Bryan at March 15, 2012 12:52 PM

March 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

For the purpose of this analysis, let's assume that Limbaugh did in fact "impute" to Fluke "a want of chastity." -- James Taranto
Posted by John Kranz at 8:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2012

Faust, Call Your Office!

Politics breaks hearts. But when the "Big Pharma" firms lined up to support ObamaCare against what I thought was their long-term interests, it was particularly upsetting.

Peter Schweitzer of the Hoover Institute has an eye-opening piece in The Daily Beast today. He suggests the contraception debate should be viewed under the Crony Capitalism lens, more than religious liberty or morality. I think he nails it:

Completely ignored is the more fundamental problem: this mandate is not only about the bedroom, it's about the boardroom. You've heard of crony capitalism? Well this is America's first example of crony contraceptives. Forget for a minute the religious question and look at who wins big here: Big Pharma. This mandate is not really about condoms or generic versions of "the pill," which are available free or cheap in lots of places. This is about brand-name birth control drugs and other devices that some consumers swear off because they are too expensive. The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requires health-insurance companies provide contraceptive coverage for all "FDA approved contraceptive methods." It does not insist on generics. And it does not offer any cost containment. . . . It's important to point out that among President Obama's biggest financial backers are precisely the Big Pharma companies who benefit from the mandate.

I fired this broadside at my infamous FacebookFriends™ today. I have had to sit through a hundred stupid MoveOn.org and "We Survived Bush, You'll Survive Obama" photos pushing this debate as a GOP plot to return to a pre-Griswold America. I think it makes quite a bit more sense in this context.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

A good point that I, for one, hadn't thought of ... at least not yet.

This is almost exactly the 50-state version of what Rick Perry did with the HPV vaccine in Texas.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2012 3:56 PM

February 28, 2012

MS Society Delenda Est!

I'm too political, I tell myself. I need to capture the spirit of Matt Welch and The Jacket's superb "Declaration of Independents" that I touted. I need to back off a little.

For instance, The National MS Society. These guys are in my corner, n'est ce pas? Helping families, funding research, sharing information, raising awareness, advocating for socialism... Yes, I was going to let it go and be casually supporting of other endeavors and forgiving of their misguided but probably good hearted support for health care initiatives.

Then I got the Colorado-Wyoming chapter's email newsletter. Fourth item:


MS and Healthcare--Tell Us Your Stories!

In order to educate legislators, policy-makers, funders, consumer advocates, the media and others, we're hoping you will tell us about issues which directly affect you--before MS and with MS. Our Chapter is a member of Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and we are gathering information for education and outreach related to the health benefits exchange. Therefore, we want to get real stories about people impacted by healthcare reform. Are you/have you:

  • Been unable to receive preventative care because Medicare did/does not cover it?
  • Saving money by the shrinking of the "donut hole" in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage?
  • Impacted by annual and/or lifetime coverage limits in private insurance?
  • Filed for personal bankruptcy due to medical costs?
  • Had a negative experience(s) with Cover Colorado insurance?
  • Involved in another issue which is important for others to know?

Please contact Matt Pfeifer at [number] or [email] to share your issue(s). You may remain anonymous if you'd like.

So, share your stories -- providing that your story reinforces our agenda for more and more government involvement in health care! Was it just me, or did none of the story suggestions include "How was your life enriched by a private Pharma company's developing an effective treatment?" "Did you ever get good care from a provider paid for by private insurance?"

I'm foolish to think those people would write in (though I will). The folks who want and expect more from the government certainly will. But what MS patients need is a gorram cure -- and that will be less likely if their society's crusade is successful.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:56 AM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2012

Quote of the Day

Monsieur Bastiat, call your office:

Here's a good mandate: Let's mandate that every time a government official says that the government is going to "help" some category of voter, he or she has to say who they are going to hurt in the same sentence. Because it has to be someone. -- John Cochrane

Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

You highjacked my post for a related tangent so ...

Yesterday morning I followed a young man driving a late-model Toyonda something or other sporting a single bumper sticker:

A Democrat thinks the glass is half-full. A Republican thinks the glass is his.

I oh so much wanted to pull him over and say, "Hey buddy, it's someone else's turn to drive this car you're in."

Posted by: johngalt at February 9, 2012 2:30 PM

February 8, 2012

Ann, we thought we knew ye

I hope I shall not be thought less of for posting this Ann Coulter takedown from American Spectator, so long as I don't suggest Newt Gingrich as the best Romney antidote (which, I'm learning, he is not.)

Yet Coulter, once the scourge of such malleable "moderates," has gone through some sort of transformation that has rendered her blind to Romney's cheap opportunism. And if the primary voters are foolish enough to follow her advice, they will rue the day they listened to her and the establishment Republicans with whom she has now made common cause. As Coulter herself pointed out last year when she spoke at CPAC, Barack Obama will be reelected in 2012 if the Republican Party nominates Mitt Romney for President.
Posted by JohnGalt at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 6, 2012

Coulter: "Three Cheers for Romneycare!"

[Exclamation point hers.]

I linked this previously in a comment but I've repeated it so often to so many folks it deserves a post of its own.

If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, Romneycare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles -- as it was at the time.

Yeah, like that "conservative free-market principle" that says if someone can't afford something the government will give it to them free of charge, just as long as it's really really important, like a house or something.

Sorry Ann, you're so in the tank for Romney you're misleading even yourself.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:50 AM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Make that three Bronx cheers.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 6, 2012 12:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Next thing, Sean Hannity or Pat Robertson might say something stupid. These are fascinating times! [Exclamation mark mine.]

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2012 1:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think I'd better start using the "internecine" category label again. At least while I still have a working password on the blog.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2012 1:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I might change it to "eye-patch" but I would never remove it.

I'm all for holding the Governor responsible for Romneycare; I just don't think he is responsible for Ann Coulter. Donald Trump maybe...

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2012 2:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Did I imply that?

Romney is responsible for Romneycare. (Unapologetically I should add.)

Coulter is responsible for telling America there's nothing for the Governor to apologize for.

Fair?

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2012 2:33 PM

November 29, 2011

Some Colorado Parents to Stay out of Las Vegas

The Denver Post reports that Colorado ranks #2 in vaccination "opt outs" for vaccines among kindergartners. Seven percent of Centennial State parents of kindergartners chose not to vaccinate their children for common diseases. According to the article, most such parents site the risk of serious complications from vaccines or a philosophy toward "natural" immunization. (i.e., Let them catch the disease and hope they don't die).

However, according to the Center for Disease Control (if you can believe those guys), only one death between 1990 and 1992 can possibly be related to a vaccination. The chances of complications from a vaccination range from 1:1000 to 1:1,000,000 or more. Most "complications" are sore arms or fever. The study linking autism to vaccinations has been largely discredited. Furthermore, 10 children died in 2010 in California alone from pertussis (whooping cough).

So here's the analogy: you go to Las Vegas and approach the table. There is a 99.9% chance that the next roll will be red and .1% chance that it will be black. Which color do you bet on? Let's just say that 7 percent of Colorado parents should stay the hell out of Las Vegas.

Rep. Bachmann, please call your office.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 5:52 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:
Renee Chalfant of Boulder refused many vaccinations for her children, now grown, and would do it again. She said she has read hundreds of studies and is convinced it's better for children to be exposed to disease and develop natural immunity if they live in a nation where health care is available.
Renee, I'm going to flip the coin three times. If all three are heads, I will give you three dollars; if not, you give me three dollars. Posted by: jk at November 29, 2011 6:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And along with "Progressive" Colorado, the other states with the highest refusal rates are Alaska, Minnesota, Washington and Vermont. The least likely to refuse vaccinations: Them "backward" folk in the South. Perhaps Progressives rationalize this as being consistent with nationalized health care - they're proactively complying with government rationing of vaccines. But this falls apart when one considers the results of the Post's online poll (via the "reports" link) showing that the majority of those opposing vaccination cite "I don't fully trust federal health agencies" as their reason.

Posted by: johngalt at November 29, 2011 7:56 PM

November 8, 2011

John Maynard Keynes Writes to the President

On the other hand, even wise and necessary Reform may, in some respects, impede and complicate Recovery. For it will upset the confidence of the business world and weaken their existing motives to action, before you have had time to put other motives in their place. It may over-task your bureaucratic machine, which the traditional individualism of the United States and the old "spoils system" have left none too strong. And it will confuse the thought and aim of yourself and your administration by giving you too much to think about all at once.
Or, "for cryin' out loud, don't pass ObamaCare® in the middle of a recession, dude!"

Actually, the president in question was FDR and, in the long run, Lord Keynes was still alive. But Professor Mankiw suggests it might apply.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2011

NO CLASS!

The Administration's Friday afternoon bad news dump this week had a toothsome tidbit. The CLASS Act is unsustainable:

But a central design flaw dogged CLASS. Unless large numbers of healthy people willingly sign up during their working years, soaring premiums driven by the needs of disabled beneficiaries would destabilize it, eventually requiring a taxpayer bailout.

After months insisting that could be fixed, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, finally admitted Friday she doesn't see how.

"Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time," Sebelius said in a letter to congressional leaders.


After months of insisting that it could be fixed...admitted she didn't see how. Now, that's a quote for our times.

Also of interest is that this little piece of subterfuge was part of the claim that ObamaCare® would lower the deficit.

The demise of CLASS immediately touched off speculation about its impact on the federal budget. Although no premiums are likely to be collected, the program still counts as reducing the federal deficit by about $80 billion over the next ten years. That's because of a rule that would have required workers to pay in for at least five years before they could collect any benefits.

The AARP, unsurprisingly, is displeased. We were well on the way to long-term nursing home and home care as a federal entitlement.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page is on it.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2011

On a Roll

James Pethokoukis is sharing quotes from the 11th Circuit opinion on Obamacare® via Twitter:

Good stuff!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2011

Dirty Hippies run the FDA

Last week JK wrote about the FDA's anti-prosperity ruling on the clinical use of Avastin to treat breast cancer. Two days later, American Spectator's Robert M. Goldberg wrote in FDA Decision Dooms Cancer Patients some background on the individuals at FDA who were responsible.

Goozner -- who has no medical background -- was appointed to an FDA advisory committee on pharmaceutical science. Two senior Public Citizen operatives, Peter Lurie and Larry Sasich, now set policy for the FDA. Fran Visco, the head of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, applauded the FDA decision after lobbying for it over the past year. Visco, a Democrat, is also on Experts Advisory Panel for the Universal Health Insurance Program at the New America Foundation, a left-wing think tank supporting Obamacare. The NBBC also supported the administration's decision not to cover mammograms for women under 50 though many breast cancers grow faster and earlier in African-American women.

Goldberg goes on to predict that Medicare and some other health plans will try to stop paying for Avastin, but he also makes this prediction:

To these groups, the FDA decision was a triumph. But their effort to manipulate the FDA will backfire. The EMA and every major group of cancer providers support Avastin's use. Cancer patients moblilized spontaneously to keep Avastin's label. They will take on the anti-innovation establishment and the FDA with greater intensity and vigor.

Related: Medicare Won't Drop Avastin for Breast Cancer

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2011

We Have to Pass the Bill to See What's In It

Medicaid for everybody!!! AP:

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.

The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.

Up to 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That's because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps.

Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster says the situation keeps him up at night.

"I don't generally comment on the pros or cons of policy, but that just doesn't make sense," Foster said during a question-and-answer session at a recent professional society meeting.


Oops.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2011

Almost as if Central Planning Were Flawed...

John Goodman at Health Affairs Blog (his picture does not look like the beloved comedic actor who plays Walter in "The Big Lebowski") has some bad news and some bad news about the epidemic of drug shortages.

First the bad news:

  • Doctors at the Johns Hopkins cancer center are rationing cytarabine, a drug used to treat leukemia and lymphoma. They are literally deciding who will live and who will die.
  • About 90 percent of all the anesthesiologists in the country report they are experiencing a shortage of at least one anesthetic
  • Currently, there are about 246 drugs that are in short supply and as the chart shows, the number has been growing for some time.
  • Hospitals are scrambling to make up the shortfall, in some cases rationing medications, postponing surgeries and using alternative drugs.

What's the problem? Supply-chain? We can fix that. Shortages in transportation or labor? That can be fixed. The FDA? Oh crap. And that's the bad news:
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been stepping up its quality enforcement efforts -- levying fines and forcing manufacturers to retool their facilities both here and abroad. Not only has this more rigorous regulatory oversight slowed down production, the FDA's "zero tolerance" regime is forcing manufacturers to abide by rules that are rigid, inflexible and unforgiving. For example, a drug manufacturer must get approval for how much of a drug it plans to produce, as well as the timeframe. If a shortage develops (because, say, the FDA shuts down a competitor's plant), a drug manufacturer cannot increase its output of that drug without another round of approvals. Nor can it alter its timetable production (producing a shortage drug earlier than planned) without FDA approval.

Emphasis added, which I rarely do, but the emphasized statement is utterly gobsmacking.

Why doesn't the Administration simply outlaw shortages?

Posted by John Kranz at 3:30 PM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

First of all, Senator McCain is not a candidate so we're that much further ahead.

Secondly, the next GOP president, whoever and whenever, will only be as good as the constituents demand. Like the public outcry that derailed immigration amnesty (and should have stopped Obamacare) an engaged electorate will help shape the administration's policy. (And so will the make up of Congress but that's another story.)

Thirdly, I heard every person on that stage talk about cutting spending, cutting regulations, reducing tax rates and empowering the free market. They did so in both general and specific terms.

Jeepers brothers, whaddaya want?

Okay, I cringed at the obligatory "marriage is between a man and a woman" and "I support life, at birth and at death" posturing. Repeat after me: The world is not Three Sources. But I would trust any of those candidates in Manchester last night to follow through on their economic promises. Call me a rube if you must, but I will support any of those candidates - even Santorum - in a general election.

I submit that our perspective has changed so much that we don't really perceive the radical evolution reflected by some of the statements made last night. Just try to imagine candidate John McCain saying in 2000, "the EPA should be called the job killing organization of America." And compare our choices today to the GOP hopefuls of 2000: Bush, McCain and Alan Keyes. Criminey, it's a veritable THANKSGIVING FEAST this time!

That's all for now. We're all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2011 2:53 AM
But jk thinks:

You have to come down to Thanksgiving with my lovely bride's family next year. I don't think you guys are doing it right.

The change in tone is appreciated: good point. And I'm tougher to please in 2012, I'll concede that. Mainstream GOPism used to work for me: hold the sign, wave the flag, denounce the Democrat.

As for a quality differential, I am not certain that I am onboard. You left out John Kasich and Dan Quayle (and Ambassador Keyes had not really gone completely nuts yet). I was missing Phil Gramm in 2000, but thought at the time that that was a great field. Then Governor Bush campaigned on modesty in foreign policy and "tollbooths to the middle class."

If I'm down, it's seems clear that it's Governor Romney's for the taking. He did not whack at the EPA and he supports ethanol. Even worse as he is eschewing the Iowa straw poll. He's supporting ethanol on principle!

Better than President Obama? O Yeah! A principled defender of less government and more liberty? No way.

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2011 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From the how full is the Romney glass department:

You can tell how -- how to get jobs going in this country, and President Obama has done it wrong. And the ideas Tim described, those are in the right wheelhouse.

[Tim's ideas: "We need to fix regulation. We need to have a pro-American energy policy. We need to fix health care policy. And if you do those things, as I've proposed, including cut spending, you'll get this economy moving and growing the private economy by shrinking government."]

...we can't afford more federal spending.

(...)

It's a huge power grab by the federal government.

(...)

There is a perception in this country that government knows better than the private sector, that Washington and President Obama have a better view for how an industry ought to be run. Well, they're wrong. The right way for America to create jobs is to -- is to keep government in its place and to allow the private sector and the -- and the energy and passion of the American people create a brighter future for our kids and for ourselves. ... That's the wrong way to go. Use the process of law. Use the process of American ingenuity. Don't have government try and guide this economy.

(...)

I think fundamentally there are some people -- and most of them are Democrats, but not all -- who really believe that the government knows how to do things better than the private sector. And they happen to be wrong.

(...)

Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.

And there's more. It's only fair to recognize that, at the very least, he's reading from the right hymnal.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2011 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah, this week's Romney is great...

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2011 3:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Seems we've swapped roles: Pragmatist/Idealist

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2011 4:06 PM
But jk thinks:

A pragmatist can be dejected by a lack of idealism. My biggest objection is that we are supposed to be in the idealism phase. Vote your heart in the early primaries. You will eventually have to get to work for the candidate for whom you are forced to settle, but not 19 months out.

Taranto suggests a Romney-Bachmann ticket today. I have to confess to liking that. Their virtues and vices seem complementary.

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2011 6:34 PM

June 8, 2011

A Great Day for Liberty

Ilya Shapiro reports from the ObamaCare Constitutional challenge. And the news is pretty good:

ATLANTA -- In the most important appeal of the Obamacare constitutional saga, today was the best day yet for individual freedom. The government's lawyer, Neal Katyal, spent most of the hearing on the ropes, with the judicial panel extremely cautious not to extend federal power beyond its present outer limits of regulating economic activity that has a substantial aggregate effect on interstate commerce.

As the lawyer representing 26 states against the federal government said, "The whole reason we do this is to protect liberty." With those words, former solicitor general Paul Clement reached the essence of the Obamacare lawsuits. With apologies to Joe Biden, this is a big deal not because we're dealing with a huge reorganization of the health care industry, but because our most fundamental first principle is at stake: we limit government power so people can live their lives the way they want.

The whole is not much longer and worth a read.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:26 PM | Comments (0)

June 6, 2011

You guys think I make this stuff up

Try to cure a deadly disease, go to jail:

In 2002, InterMune ran a large trial to seek Food and Drug Administration approval to sell the drug explicitly for this second disease. That study didn't meet its primary goal: showing that the drug slowed progression of lung fibrosis. But the results did suggest that patients with "mild to moderate" fibrosis lived longer.

There were plausible reasons why the drug might work only in patients with mild disease and not those with advanced fibrosis. Yet some of the analysis that led to this conclusion was nonetheless "retrospective"--meaning statisticians had selectively mined the data to find that positive benefit.

Since the study didn't set out to test the drug in only mild patients, the finding wasn't firm enough to satisfy FDA. So when Dr. Harkonen subsequently issued a press release that publicized the study's findings, the Justice Department says he committed the crime of wire fraud.


These abstractions of liberty stories are also starting to hit home. I am researching travel to Costa Rica to continue the effective experimental MS treatment I have been on. It has drastically slowed progression of symptoms with negligible side effects. I'd like to stay on it, but I don't want anybody to go to jail. (Yeah, six months of home confinement and a $20,000 fine for this guy, but Dr. Waksal went to jail for curing Cancer.)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Al Gore certainly promoted his mockumentary "An Inconvenient Truth" on his internet more than once. Wire Fraud!

Posted by: johngalt at June 6, 2011 2:17 PM

May 25, 2011

Keeping Score at the Animal Farm

IBD's editorial page has been hitting it out of the park this week, considering the prior Rick Perry piece and the not-newsworthy-enough-for-its-own-post Bibi Schools Obama on Mideast Reality. Then this from Big Surprise: AARP Joins Waiver-gate:

Although not specifically mentioned by name in the rate review rules finalized last Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the rule that exempts Medigap insurance providers is clearly designed to benefit the largest seller of such policies and the biggest lobbyist for ObamaCare -- the American Association of Retired Persons.

So you can add AARP to the list of favored unions, corporations, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's constituents and even entire states such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Nevada that have received exemptions or waivers from various requirements of ObamaCare.

(...)

The amount AARP will gain from ObamaCare, with cost-effectiveness mandates that will lead to rationed care, less medical innovation and health care decisions made by bureaucrats rather than doctors and patients, is staggering.

Equally staggering is the brazenness exhibited by the Obama administration and the beneficiaries of what can only be called crony health care.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Waiver-gate, that's awesome. I think this might be underappreciated as a good theme for GOP Candidates in 2012.

-- If it is so swell, why do we have to exempt thousands of organizations?
-- Why are all those organizations friends of the Administration?
-- Is it fair to the smaller and less connected organizations that they cannot compete for a waiver?

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2011 7:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Watch out for the converse: "Vote at one of our special "Democrat Ballot Only" polling places and get an automatic PPAA waiver!"

Posted by: johngalt at May 25, 2011 9:03 PM

Chairman Ryan Explains Medicare

And, as Jennifer Rubin notes, "He's remarkably effective."

Rubin closes with "The debate is just beginning. Ryan will mount his offensive in the days ahead. And his belief that voters will listen to reasoned arguments on the merits will be put to the test."

There's the exact spot I start to worry. Who's going to watch this but the choir?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Ryan- "Medicare is a critical program which helps seniors achieve health security."

Sowell- "If the wealthiest segment of the population cannot pay their own medical bills, who can? The country as a whole is not any richer because the government pays our medical bills — with money that it takes from us."

Fortunately, Ryan goes on to explain his market-based reform plan that subsidizes wealthy seniors less. But still...

Posted by: johngalt at May 25, 2011 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeeeeeah, I just caught a glimpse of that guy in the "Life is NOT ThreeSources" T-Shirt. He scurried away before I could make any inquiries.

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2011 3:43 PM

May 19, 2011

Sure Glad I don't know any Republicans!

They're just plain mean!

Posted by John Kranz at 9:10 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

A few counterpoints:

Nearly half of Medicare recipients have incomes GREATER than $28,000 per year.

(The national debt per citizen is over $46,000.)

In 2006 the median income for all Americans, regardless of Medicare beneficence, was $32,000. Median income of Medicare recipients is therefore $4,000 less than non-recipients. Since they're more likely to own their homes this hardly seems a hardship.

Finally, the actress in this demagogic video is clearly over 55. The Ryan plan has NO EFFECT on her.

Shut up hippies. Obama sucks. (Reid too.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2011 2:12 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Nice to know that the Democrats don't go for any of those mean-spirited scare tactics like the evil Republicans.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 19, 2011 10:11 AM

April 25, 2011

Toolbooths to the Middle Class

I don't wish to rekindle the Quantum Theory debate, but it is interesting to speculate on counterfactuals and how the world would have been if... The BBC Show Red Dwarf suggested that if Quantum Theory holds true, there would be a universe "where Ringo was a really good drummer."

And there might be one where President George Bush pursued his domestic agenda without the exigencies of 9/11. This, admittedly, could be a utopian or dystopian tale...

But lost for all time was the campaign coinage "tollbooths to the middle class." I don't know if a domestic W would have fixed them, but it is an important concept that is ignored in progressive politics. It is swell to give $1,000 to everybody who makes less than 10,000, but the marginal rate on a worker making 9,999 is roughly, negative-eleven-billiondy-one per cent. Which is what economists call "a lot."

Professor Daniel P. Kessler details the effects of ObamaCare® on this:

Fixing the notch is not so easy. To phase out the subsidy smoothly for families with incomes of 134% to 400% of poverty, the law would have to take away $22,700 in subsidies as a family's income rose to $93,700 from $31,389. In other words, for every dollar earned in this income range, a family's subsidy would have to decline by 36 cents. On top of 25% federal income taxes, 5% state income taxes, and 15% Social Security taxes, this implies a reward to work of less than 20 cents on the dollar--in economists' language, an implicit marginal tax rate of over 80%. Although economists may differ on the effect of taxes on work effort, it is hard to fathom how anyone could argue that this will not reduce economic activity.

It gets worse. There are also subsidies to cover the deductibles and copayments of insurance policies purchased through an exchange--and like the premium subsidies, these subsidies also phase out with income. There is also the likelihood that federal and state income taxes on upper-middle income families will have to be raised above current levels to finance the cost of the subsidy, the Medicaid expansion, and other provisions of the new law. Both of these effects exacerbate the law's negative work incentives.


And this is just new legislation. These pernicious effects are layered on top of welfare, food support, housing subsidies, and all the other tollbooths Governor Bush highlighted in 1999.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

You and President "miss-me-yet?" call them toll booths. Democrats and the current POTUS call them "iron curtain" social safety nets. Like their namesake, whether these nets keep citizens inside or out (or both) has no bearing on their egaliatarian "goodness."

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2011 2:34 PM

April 20, 2011

First Comes Love, Then Comes . . . What?

I'm lazy tonight and just copying titles for my posts. This one answers the question:

What types of factors make it more likely a non-married couple will be together one year later?

a) A joint gym membership
b) Living together
c) Having a baby together
d) Making payments on each others credit cards

And the obvious answer is, a combination of a and d.

In one of these studies we have in the pipeline (accepted for publication) we found that all sorts of things make it more likely that a non-married couple will remain together. Things as serious as signing a lease together or sharing finance as well as less serious things like having vacation plans or a gym membership. But do you know what didn’t predict which couples would remain together? (Um, I just gave you a pretty huge clue, right?) Yes, having a baby together didn’t affect the odds of the relationships continuing. By the way, were talking about a very large national data set here of non-married people in serious romantic relationships who are generally in their 20s and early 30s. Yes, having a baby together is not one of the things that is associated with being together a year later (and we’ll be checking in the future out to two and three and four years later).

Yet another reason why so many young people want the government to provide free health care for them and their families, since their family can't even commit to being a family.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

I Don't Care, Obama is Awesome

I cannot imagine another response to the WSJ Ed Page's devastation of President Obama's Independent Payment Advisory Board.

It sounds absurd, but there the President was last week, gravely conceding Mr. Ryan's analysis of Medicare's balance sheet and then claiming that the solution is to give a lot more political power to an unelected board to control health costs. Democrats believe this board will play doctor and actuary and allocate health resources better than markets, so allow us to fill in some of the details of this government-planned future.
[...]
Mr. Ryan has been lambasted for linking his "premium support" Medicare subsidies to inflation, not the rate of health cost growth. But if that's as unrealistic as the liberal wise men claim, then Mr. Obama's goals are even more so. Medicare grew 2.1 percentage points faster between 1985 and 2009 than Mr. Obama's new GDP target. At least Mr. Ryan is proposing a workable model for bringing costs down over time by changing incentives.

Mr. Obama, by contrast, is relying on the so far unidentified technocratic reforms of 15 so far unidentified geniuses who are supposed to give up medical practice or academic research for the privilege of a government salary. Since the board is not allowed by law to restrict treatments, ask seniors to pay more, or raise taxes or the retirement age, it can mean only one thing: arbitrarily paying less for the services seniors receive, via fiat pricing.


Other than that, Mr. President, the idea is awesome.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Obama will have no trouble identifying 15 "geniuses" for his Independent Payment Advisory Board. Hell, I can nominate two hands-down experts off the top of my head: Gerald and Ivy Starnes.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2011 3:31 PM

April 5, 2011

So Sweet!

Striking NFL athletes under 26 can get on their parents' insurance, thanks to ObamaCare®:

I said, "Man, this is awesome. I'm a professional athlete and I am getting on my parent's insurance." I got lucky on that, but some of the guys have families and children, and they are having to pay for their own health insurance now. It's just the little small things that you are having to pick up now in this uncertainty that you wouldn't have had to worry about before.

Really coming through for America's less fortunate! I'm reconsidering my opposition. Hat-tip: Taranto

UPDATE: This is also WSJ's Notable & Quotable today.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:15 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

This quote from Chicago back-up defensive safety Craig Steltz, whose contract for 2011 was to pay him $555,000, and who is eligible to become a free agent in 2012. And he thinks it's "awesome" to be able to piggyback on his parents' coverage. He'd best be volunteering to wash dishes, mow the lawn, and write the check for the premium. Otherwise, Surfer Boy is a mooch in my book.

If you're reading this and you work for the Steltz family's medical insurer, call me. I'll do the underwriting calculations of his coverage for free. Lessee, how much wear and tear on that body? How many open-field tackles did he have last year? Anyone have his sack numbers?

Seriously, though - if his insurer were voluntarily offering to add him to the policy, and charge premium fairly based on the risk, I've got no problem with this - free men have a right to enter into contracts just like this subject to the mutual agreement of the two parties. It's when the guv'mint tells me that I have no choice but to extend coverage, and to do it at a loss...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 5, 2011 7:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Steltz et. al. don't even have to demand the unearned, the government coerces it on their behalf!

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2011 7:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Just as long as the American voter understands ObamaCare's complicity in extending the strike next September...

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2011 12:27 PM

April 1, 2011

Heckuva Job, Romney...

As we prepare to add 32 million members to Medicaid or to a similarly reimbursing program, John Goodman wonders Is Medicaid Real Insurance? At the risk of a spoiler, enrollment rates show it to be "not worth the effort it takes to fill out the enrollment papers" to one in six eligible.

Both anecdotal and scholarly reports from Massachusetts are consistent with this prediction. The wait to see a family doctor in Boston is now longer than in any other US city. More people are going to emergency rooms for their care in the state than before Massachusetts enacted its health reform. A Boston cab driver went through a list of twenty doctors (a list Medicaid gave her!) before she found a doctor who would see her. A preliminary report on the state as a whole found that nearly a quarter of adults who were in fair or poor health reported being unable to see a doctor because of cost during the implementation of the reforms. Further, state residents earning less than $25,000 per year were much less likely than higher earners to receive screening for cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Hat-tip: The Everyday Economist, who highlights the sentence: "Here's my bottom line: after we get through spending our $1 trillion under ObamaCare, there is no convincing reason to believe that the bottom half of the income distribution will have more care, better care, or better access to care than they have today."

Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM | Comments (0)

Do Not Drive or Operate Heavy Machinery...

Hat-tip: LisaM

Posted by John Kranz at 1:19 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Delayed clicking until today. Shouldn't have. 2.5 minutes of pointed humor.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2011 2:54 PM

March 23, 2011

Too Close to Home

As ObamaCare turns one, Freshman Senator Ron Johnson (Total Hoss - WI) pens a heartfelt guest editorial in the WSJ today:

Some years ago, a little girl was born with a serious heart defect: Her aorta and pulmonary artery were reversed. Without immediate intervention, she would not have survived.

The infant was rushed to another hospital where a surgeon performed a procedure at 1 a.m. that saved her life. Eight months later, when her heart was the size of a small plum, an incredibly dedicated and skilled team of medical professionals surgically reconstructed it. Twenty-seven years later, the young woman is now a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit where she is studying to become a nurse practitioner.

She wasn't saved by a bureaucrat, and no government mandate forced her parents to purchase the coverage that saved her. Instead, her care was provided under a run-of-the-mill plan available to every employee of an Oshkosh, Wis., plastics plant.


I don't think it's the height of spoilerdom if I tell you the girl is his daughter.

I like to argue facts and philosophy. And it bothers me to no end that, in the House debates, every Democrat's speech started with a story. "Old Mamie Rodgerpickle, of Asbury Heights can't get insurance and has a terminal hangnail..." But sometimes you have to bring it home to people.

Johnson's daughter, my darling bride. Saturday will be six years since her stroke. I have always been amazed, like Johnson, at the full tilt boogie, failure is not an option care that a middle class couple in a small city in Colorado received. And, like Johnson, neither of us has ever had a doubt that she would not have survived in a socialist medical system.

The first hospital could not save her. It would have been easy to say that nothing could be done. Instead, a helicopter took her to a different hospital. There, it would have been easy to say that the damage was too extensive. But three and a half hours of surgery, twelve weeks of ICU and rehab hospitalization, and -- mostly -- six years of determined dignity, have brought her back.

Perhaps little good is served from personalizing the debate. But I vow to do what I can to leave that particular blessing of liberty to posterity.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)
But Terri thinks:

If personalizing the debate makes it winnable, and when your personal stories are as nice as these.....I say personalize. Thanks for sharing and YAY!

Posted by: Terri at March 23, 2011 12:32 PM

March 21, 2011

Dems Make False Health Care Claims

STOP THE PRESSES!! The WaPo fact checker harshes the mellow of the 112th House minority:

House Democrats held a birthday party last week for passage of the health-care law. Just as we looked at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's floor speech noting the milestone, we will now examine some of the claims made by Democrats.

McConnell framed his speech in negative terms, citing data to back up his language. Both Democrats and Republicans can pick and choose numbers and studies to make their case, but we found that generally McConnell did not exaggerate or use bogus figures. In fact, he correctly described a Congressional Budget Office analysis suggesting a potential reduction in employment of 800,000 jobs (technically, one-half of 1 percent of household employment in 2021) that other Republicans have misrepresented.

By contrast, House Democrats appear to show little hesitation about repeating claims that previously have found to be false or exaggerated. So let’s take a tour through the numbers.
[...]


Ow! That's gotta sting a bit.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2011

Accepting a Level of Government Intrusion

It's a Health Care Edition of the Internet Segue Machine...

I almost linked young Ezra Klein on his own yesterday. He is concerned that Dems' capitulation on an obscure clause of ObamaCare® could "undermine the Affordable Care Act." You should read the whole thing, not as an example of uplifting prose, but to experience the level of nonsense Klein is willing to tolerate before admitting that there's a problem. In the bill to repeal the bipartisanly-hated 1099 provision, eeevil Republicans are tweaking the prorating of partial years' poverty:

Under their proposed policy, a family with income at 225 percent of the poverty line who needed subsidies for the first half of the year but canceled them mid-year when the husband got a better job could get a bill for more than $4,500 at the end of the year.

A more worrying example goes the other way: Imagine a family where the breadwinner makes much more than 400 percent of poverty, but loses his job late in the year. He tries to apply for subsidies so the family can keep getting health insurance but is told that he shouldn’t bother -- because his total income that year will still be above 400 percent of poverty, he'll get a bill at the end of the year forcing him to pay back the money.

The Affordable Care Act, unfortunately, already includes a "payback" policy along these lines -- the House Republicans are just proposing to make it much, much worse.


Klein cannot see how ludicrous this new "tollbooth to the middle class" is. His concern is that it will "make people hate the Affordable Care Act for bait-and-switching them, and keep people from entering the exchanges because they've heard horror stories of huge bills."

Lemme get this straight, Ezra, other than this, you see no problem with the complexity and perverse incentives of the underlying program? If we make people from Louisiana and Nebraska exempt from these paybacks, it's okay?

A segue you were promised, and a segue you shall have. On a more reasonable side of the debate we have Professor Bainbridge and the WSJ Ed Page. Again they're, if I may mix metaphors, picking at a mote in somebody's eye when the house is on fire.

The concern is the new rules of flex reimbursements. Because those have been cut back, patients are exploiting a loophole, viz., if you get a prescription for that hangover medicine you can get reimbursed.

The result is that Americans are visiting their doctors before making a trip to the drugstore, hoping their physician will help them out by writing the prescription. The new requirements create not only an added burden for doctors, but also new complications for retailers and pharmacies.

"It drives up the cost of health care as opposed to reducing it," says Dr. Chung, who rejected much of a 10-item request from a mother of four that included pain relievers and children's cold medicine. ...


I cannot quibble with Bainbridge who closes with "It's clear that Obamacare was seriously botched. We need to repeal the damned thing and start over with a more modest, incremental, and carefully vetted alternative." I quibble with the flex account.

I have one of these and it makes the mohair subsidy look well thought out. I predict my outside of insurance medical bills at the start of the benefit year, and 1/26th is deducted from each paycheck. I then apply for reimbursement from the program manager, submitting receipts and filling out the form. In return, that sum escapes Federal income taxation.

That makes it worthwhile, but I cannot help see VP Albert A. Gore's face every time I fill out the form. He and President Clinton loved to talk about "targeted tax cuts." Chopping the marginal rate would take they and their cohorts out of power -- but I would not have to fill out a form and my company pay an administering firm so that I could get my own money back.

Yet all of this nonsense is accepted as the price of having government, or in lieu of a plague of boils, or something. The entire scheme (one of VP Gore's favorite words, if memory serves) of social control through the tax code must be undone.

UPDATE: WSJ OpinionJournal video discussion

Posted by John Kranz at 1:54 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

An even bigger failure of your flexible spending account is that whatever remains unspent of your yearly paycheck deductions at the end of the year is FORFEITED. Lobby your employer to add an HSA option instead. Your unspent contributions not only remain in your account (and I do mean your account, in a bank of your choosing) they can accumulate from year to year until you have enough to cover your high deductible. And beyond that, they are available as retirement funds.

At least this is how it was in the days before Obamacare.

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2011 3:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, that is the worst part. I guess I was tired of typing. I lost a couple hundred bucks the first year and have dramatically under contributed ever since.

This is also the foundation of a spending binge (eyeglass retailers advertise it) at the end of your benefit year. Waste what you have before it goes away. Did I mention something about perverse incentives?

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2011 3:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And I should also mention... with the HSA there's no prescription required. They give you a debit card. Could you buy booze and porn with it? Seems possible. I still haven't found where the controls are. (The account is administered by, as I said, a bank or credit union of your choosing.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 9, 2011 6:23 PM
But jk thinks:

I generally just deduct my booze and porn under "Other Miscellaneous" on Schedule C...

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2011 6:34 PM

Quote of the Day

The program in question, the CLASS Act or Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is a massive long-term elderly care entitlement program that was quietly tucked into Obamacare and never got anywhere near the attention it deserves.

Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, called the CLASS Act "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of." And then he voted for it. I suspect Bernie Madoff would be proud of Kent Conrad. -- Milton R. Wolf, M.D.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 3, 2011

Obamacare now "entirely invalid"

... at least until a court higher than Vinson's says otherwise.

Here's something that I missed on the day of the ruling, and that JK and even the Washington Examiner missed when the former declared Judge Clyde Roger Vinson "our hero." (I agree, by the way. If his ruling survives higher court scrutiny he could be as great a hero to individual self-government as was George Washington in his day.)

The Examiner concluded: "Ultimately, these issues will likely be decided by the nine justices of the Supreme Court -- unless the 112th Congress beats them to it."

But Vinson himself has already beaten them to it. The media makes much of the fact that in its short life the Obamacare law has been ruled in favor of by two judges (Democrats) and against by two others (Republicans.) But the judiciary is not a democracy (usually.) It only takes one court to invalidate a law (ask California voters) if its ruling is sufficiently broad. With the severability issue, the wizards of smart who wrote Obamacare behind closed doors gave Vinson the power to do exactly that.

Professor William A. Jacobsen wrote on his Legal Insurrection blog Monday:

Judge Vinson found that there was no need for an injunction, since the declaratory judgment that the entire law was invalid was sufficient. In effect, there is nothing left to enjoin, since no part of the law survived. By contrast, in the ruling in Virginia last year invalidating the mandate, the Judge severed the mandate from the rest of the law (but denied an injunction preventing the rest of the law from taking effect).

Here is the key language from the Order showing that Judge Vinson expects the federal government to obey the declaration that the law is unenforceable in its entirety:

"...there is a long-standing presumption “that officials of the Executive Branch will adhere to the law as declared by the court. As a result, the declaratory judgment is the functional equivalent of an injunction.” See Comm. on Judiciary of U.S. House of Representatives v. Miers, 542 F.3d 909, 911 (D.C. Cir. 2008); accord Sanchez-Espinoza v. Reagan, 770 F.2d 202, 208 n.8 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (“declaratory judgment is, in a context such as this where federal officers are defendants, the practical equivalent of specific relief such as an injunction . . . since it must be presumed that federal officers will adhere to the law as declared by the court”) (Scalia, J.) (emphasis added).

There is no reason to conclude that this presumption should not apply here. Thus, the award of declaratory relief is adequate and separate injunctive relief is not necessary."

In this sense, this decision is far more sweeping than the Virginia case, and presents a greater problem for the Obama administration which arguably does not have authority to implement any aspect of Obamacare.

JK was correct: "Hoss" indeed.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 1, 2011

Our Hero!

judge_vinson.jpg U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson (AP Photo) From an excellent Washington Examiner Editorial: A judicial drubbing for Obamacare
Vinson said the government even conceded that its interpretation of the Commerce Clause to support the individual mandate "breaks new legal ground" and is "unprecedented." He concluded, "If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party ... it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted. It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place."
HOSS!
Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2011

Mandate Struck Down!

YEAAAY! The individual mandate is struck down and Reason clucks that this video is referenced in the opinion:

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Judge Vinson just became one of my heroes as a result of this. If he visits California, I want to buy him a drink. Or two. Or more.

And Erwin Chemerinsky is a hack.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 31, 2011 5:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe we'll get rid of ObamaCare®, Wickard, and Raich all in one fell swoop!

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2011 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Is he one of THE Vinsons? I have not been able to find out whether he was related to Carl or Fred.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2011 5:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That would be one heckuva judicial grand-slam! FDR would roll over in his grave.

Posted by: johngalt at February 1, 2011 3:20 PM

January 21, 2011

The Wonders of Socialized Medicine

The Wall Street Journal Europe Edition has a great editorial on The Myth of Free Health Care

More fundamentally, the resources available for caring for the sick or injured will still be treated as a commons, in the tragic sense. Every consortium will be obligated not to exceed its budgets in the course of a fiscal year, and it's all too easy to imagine the rush of procedures as doctors kick off the period in April flush with cash, along with the anxious moments in midwinter as budgets run low. "Don't get sick in March" could be the gallows humor coming to a doctor's office near you.

Nice. Perhaps there is some lesson we can learn from the cradle of liberty?
More than anything else, the Cameron government's reforms reflect an acknowledgment that only price signals of some sort can act as a check on the demand for, and cost of, supposedly free health care. The reformed NHS would put a price on almost everything the NHS offers or does—while maintaining the myth for consumers themselves that, when it comes to their health, money is no object.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2011

Now He Thinks He's Taranto

WaPo:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged Tuesday that his party has not succeeded in selling the public on the benefits of the national health care overhaul, noting that polls indicate that opinion remains divided on the law.

"Apparently, none of us did a good enough job," Hoyer, the number-two House Democrat, said at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing when asked whether the White House had succeeded in selling one of its signature legislative agenda items.


If only they had a rilly rilly good speaker in the White House. Then, he could have made a few rilly rilly good speeches.

It boggles the mind that they still blame the packaging. But that is not why I excerpted. I just thought ThreeSourcers would enjoy the phrase "House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer."

Posted by John Kranz at 4:58 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh. Yes, THANK you.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2011 7:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

After clicking through...

Hoyer did more than just blame the packaging, he blamed "angry" and "disrespectful" rhetoric from Obamacare opponents. And even tied it to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting by saying "This is unrelated to Arizona, but certainly Arizona has brought this into focus." WTF?

Sure Congressman Hoyer, the job you did in "selling" Obamacare to the public wasn't as good as that of its opponents. Its unpopularity couldn't possibly be related to it being a bad idea in the first place.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2011 7:49 PM

January 7, 2011

236 - 118

If you're not enjoying the 112th Congress, you're not paying attention!

Providing for consideration of H.R. 2, to repeal the job-killing health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010; and providing for consideration of H.Res. 9, instructing certain committees to report legislation replacing the job-killing health care law

UPDATE: Felecia Sonmez of the WaPo calls it "a mostly party line vote" while Jim Hoft @ Gateway Pundit is dancing in the streets to get four D's.

UPDATE II: Two Republicans vote "present."

The rule passed 236-181-2, a key test vote of next Wednesday's scheduled vote to repeal President Obama's bill.

Update, 12:06 p.m.: It turns out that the pair to vote present were the two lawmakers who missed their own swearings-in on Wednesday: Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).


No need to be married to your work I guess.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2010

All Hail Harsanyi!

Not all my Facebook friends are Communists. One posts a link to David Harsanyi today:

To this point, we've authorized Washington to micromanage our "economic activity" per the commerce clause -- which, technically speaking, means everything. We've permitted government to set up elaborate bureaucracies to keep us safe from drop-side cribs and artificial sweeteners. From our investment decisions to the snacks we're allowed to feed our kids in the schools we're forced to enroll them in, government makes choices for us in the name of the public good. What we haven't done is force people to buy stuff.

NOTE: The Denver Post has been involved in some Righthaven suits of late. The Post helpfully provides a link to Terms of Use which this post clearly constitutes. If not, I trust you'll bake me a cake with a file in it. Still, I don't want to over-excerpt. Read the whole thing. At the Post.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2010

ALI II

This should be a comment to Brother jg's scoop on the Virginia challenge to ObamaCare®, but I am posting to enjoy better links and blockquotes...

Richard Epstein says that this decision will be tough to wish away, and details how it got around every freedom lover's bete noire, Wickard:

The key successful move for Virginia was that it found a way to sidestep the well known 1942 decision of the Supreme Court in Wickard v. Filburn, which held in effect that the power to regulate commerce among the several states extended to decisions of farmers to feed their own grain to their own cows. Wickard does not pass the laugh test if the issue is whether it bears any fidelity to the original constitutional design. It was put into place for the rather ignoble purpose of making sure that the federally sponsored cartel arrangements for agriculture could be properly administered.

At this point, no District Court judge dare turn his back on the ignoble and unprincipled decision in Wickard. But Virginia did not ask for radical therapy. It rather insisted that "all" Wickard stands for is the proposition that if a farmer decides to grow wheat, he cannot feed it to his own cows if a law of Congress says otherwise. It does not say that the farmer must grow wheat in order that the federal government will have something to regulate.

It is just that line that controls this case. The opponents of the individual mandate say that they do not have to purchase insurance against their will. The federal government may regulate how people participate in the market, but it cannot make them participate in the market. For if it could be done in this case it could be done in all others.


He even ends with a boxing metaphor:
So how does it stand? If you know which way Justice Kennedy will vote, you have a pretty good shot of getting the final outcome. But if one plays the odds, this is a 12 round fight. As of today, ObamaCare is losing on rounds.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM | Comments (0)

Ali lands a solid right on the jaw of Frazier

No, we can't yet quip, "Down goes Frazier!" but today's federal ruling in the Virginia Obamacare case was a necessary foundation for the defense of western civilization.

In his 42-page opinion, Judge Hudson wrote that "at its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance -- or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage -- it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."

To this obvious conclusion the statists reply like Washington and Lee University Law Professor Timothy Jost:

Washington and Lee University law professor Timothy Jost, an expert on the health-care law, said other judges who have upheld the law interpreted the Commerce Clause more broadly to cover economic decisions that are more passive -- namely, the refusal to buy insurance. Jost said that when people choose not to buy health insurance they are still making an economic decision and affecting the nation's commerce.

Yes, just like my decision not to purchase a new car every year affects the nation's commerce.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2010

Law by Fiat

Starting to wonder whether this big health care reform package was a good idea...

The WSJ digs into the waivers that HHS has been handing out. The President said "if you like your plan, you can keep it." The legislation did not comply, so for "some" employers, exemption waivers (papal indulgences?) have been disbursed. We discussed that.

Over the last several weeks the Health and Human Services Department has granted dozens of temporary waivers to certain ObamaCare mandates so that insurers and businesses won't drop or cancel coverage. The most conspicuous went to McDonald's to protect the "mini-med" plans for some 30,000 hourly workers from a rule that prohibits annual restrictions on benefits. Mini-med policies offer modest coverage at low premiums and other low-wage fast-food chains like Jack in the Box and Denny's have been granted waivers as well.

Cigna, Aetna and a few other insurers have been given hall passes to continue selling mini-meds. Another went to the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund. The New York union offers city teachers supplemental drug coverage that would have been banned under the new rules.

At least this sudden regulatory flexibility is protecting the coverage that people have today, as President Obama promised. But it isn't much of an improvement if HHS retreats only after a national political blow-up. After all, the essential point of the regulations was to destroy mini-med plans and other types of coverage that Democrats claim are insufficiently generous. Democrats from Mr. Obama on down call these rules "the patients' bill of rights," but people don't regularly need exemptions from a bill of rights.


In short, if you've got a Senator on speed-dial, or gave a pile to the Democrats, you don't need to follow the rules.

And. of course, these exemptions will make the Administration's already iffy figures less likely to balance. And McDonalds employees will be tempted to quit and get gub'mint care that covers more.

But that's just numbers. The real problem is that we've taken another step to Venezuelan rule: freedom for the connected.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

COEXIST: Don't demand the unearned.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2010 3:15 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

We need our own bumper sticker, jg. Like this: ¢o£¥i$t

Best I could do on short notice - I'll bet someone who knows currency better than I do could improve on it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 20, 2010 3:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Agreed. Did you follow the link in my comment? I'd have ordered them by now if I could find a way to add the blog address at the bottom. I'm going to have to contact them about that.

I was thinking COEXI$T was best. The international currency symbols will just confuse some people.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2010 5:45 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

jg: Yes, I did - and I think I prefer your version, for the reason you give - don't want to go over the heads of the viewing public. For an alternative subtitle: "Chapter 20: The Sign Of The Dollar."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 20, 2010 6:38 PM

October 2, 2010

We Misheard the President

Actually, what the President said was "If WE like your current health insurance plan, you can keep it."

Joseph Antos suggests, in the American, that the government is regulating a business that it does not understand (viz. "Duh!") and will take away the limited care option that is the only plan some workers at McDonalds, Home Depot and Disney can afford.

McDonald’s warned that it might have to drop its health insurance plan for some 30,000 restaurant workers because of new rules imposed by ObamaCare. McDonald’s insurer spends too much money on administrative costs and not enough on health services to fit the federal standard. So in the name of consumer protection, thousands of low-wage hamburger cooks are likely to lose their health insurance starting next year. That’s the genius of healthcare reform

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

Having the temerity to give it to myself today:

Spent the morning at the Doctor's (drug trial maintenance, no worries) and the afternoon at the DMV. Lawdy, I fear the result of the upcoming merger.

I paid my dues...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Add a trip to the Post Office for stamps and a visit to the IRS, and you'll have completed the Grand Slam Four-Bagger of Governmental Doom.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 13, 2010 5:23 PM

August 25, 2010

Obama Prevaricated, Seniors Got Unmedicated!

Three Rabbis and an Eskimo walk into a gay bar. The ostrich says "If you like your current health care plan -- you can keep it!" Ha! That one gets me everytime. AP:

WASHINGTON -- A plan by Medicare to try to make it simpler for consumers to pick drug coverage could force 3 million seniors to switch plans next year whether they like it or not, says an independent analysis.

That risks undercutting President Barack Obama's promise that people can keep their health plans if they like them.

And it could be an unwelcome surprise for many seniors who hadn't intended to make a change during Medicare's open enrollment season this fall.

To be fair, they are trying to make it easier to pick coverage. If there's only one plan...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Dang, I thought I had a winner with the headline. I tweeted and did a bit of link whoring. Blogging does feed one's humility. If my Mom were here...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 3:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Got unmedicated" is one two many syllables. Mabye "de-medicated" would have done the trick.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2010 2:43 PM

August 19, 2010

Power Corrupts. Power Point Corrupts Absolutely

Politico has the slide show developed to help the Democrats "sell" ObamaCare® I thought hopes for GOP Midterm Tsunamis were overblown. Until I saw this presentation.

Slide 19:
It is critical to reassure seniors that Medicare will not be cut
[Don't mention the $500 Billion cut in Medicare]

Slide 20:
Tell non college educated women that the health care law passed, Explain what is in the law and how it will affect them. Let them know they can keep the coverage they have now.
[If they didn't want to be lied to, they should have gone to college.]

Slide 21:
Tell latinos that the health care law passed, explain what is in the law by using a personal story...
[Say Jennifer Lopez is injured on the way to pick up some tortillas...that's a good one]

Slide 22:
For Voters Under 40...Do not make grand claims about the law. Use 'improve it' language.

Slide 24 (penultimate):
Do Nots:
-- list benefits outside of personal context;
-- say the law will reduce costs and deficit.
[Ooops.]


Hat-tip: @JimPethokoukis, who summarizes "Dem strategy to change healthcare opinion by public: anecdotes, lots of anecdotes "

Posted by John Kranz at 6:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2010

Death Panels in Session

Shhh! Don't call them death panels, people will think you're stupid. No, it's just an occasion where a government bureaucrat not approved by the Senate decides whether the government will pay for FDA approved treatments to extend lives. Or not. Washington Examiner:

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance explains the problem: "Medicare must cover therapies that are 'reasonable and necessary,' while the FDA is instructed to approve drugs that are 'safe and effective.' Because of the conflicting federal coverage and approval requirements, there are some non-FDA approved drugs (called off-label drugs) that are paid for by CMS. However, with respect to Provenge, it appears that CMS is arguing that while the treatment is safe and effective, it may not be reasonable and necessary. For the first time, an FDA approved anti-cancer therapy may not be covered by Medicare."

The same problem has developed on Avastin, according to the Susan G. Komen Fund, which has joined with OCNA advocating for Medicare coverage of both drugs. With respect to Avastin, Komen's founder and, CEO, Ambassador Nancy Brinker, said "We recognize the benefits of Avastin overall are modest for women with metastatic breast cancer. However, we do know that for some women, Avastin offers a greater than modest benefit. We hope that this decision will not restrict access to Avastin to all patients."


Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

August 5, 2010

Are Grits Groceries?

There's an old blues song that has always baffled me:

If I don't love you baby, then,
Grits ain't groceries,
Eggs ain't poultry,
And Mona Lisa was a man.

I grew up on brain teasers and tried to deconstruct these lyrics a little more than Little Milton probably intended. Though not demonstrably false, none of the negatives struck me as "2 + 2 = 4" true. Was I dissembling, or was Diminutive Milt a little less committed than he wanted to let on?

Perhaps the Obama Administration will set up an agency to tackle the grits-groceries conundrum. But by law, they will have to decide "What is Health Care?"

There will be more such what-have-they-done ObamaCare moments. Wait until the public discovers the government is now literally determining what qualifies as "health care" in America.

That isn't a typo. ObamaCare mandates that insurers spend a certain percentage of premium dollars on benefits, but Democrats never got around to writing the fine print of what counts as a benefit. So a handful of regulators are now choosing among the tens of thousands of services that doctors, hospitals and insurers offer. Few other government decisions will do more to shape tomorrow's health market, or what's left of it.

This command-and-control mechanism is the bill's mandate for insurance "medical loss ratios" (MLR) of 85% for large employers and 80% for small businesses and individuals. The MLR is an accounting statistic that measures the share of premiums paid out in patient claims ("losses"). In the individual market, MLRs typically run between 65% and 75%, and Democrats like Jay Rockefeller and Al Franken think this is evidence of excessive profits, executive pay, marketing and other supposedly wasteful overhead.

The same mentality prevails in the Administration, so it may well adopt a narrow definition of medical expenses when it issues final regulations by early fall. The insurance industry is lobbying for a less rigid standard: It will be easier to run a business and turn a profit if more of the costs are considered truly medical in nature.


Looking at other bureaucracies, I think I'd be more willing to trust Little Milton.

UPDATE: From the same editorial: "Even North Dakota's Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who voted for the bill, argues that tight MLR regulation 'could have a chilling effect on future innovative programs.' " Not that he ever considered -- for one second -- not voting for the innovation-chilling legislation. Thanks, Earl!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2010

Never. Another. Dime.

Got my National MS Society Newsletter in my inbox. Usually, I delete it before it has the opportunity to anger me, but there are a few interesting things. There have been a few new drugs approved lately, and this letter brings news of a new FDA Fast Track. Fast Track is where the FDA behaves as it should. They only do this in extreme circumstances, mind you, but I guess it's better than never.

But the second item was "Changes in access to health insurance and new health insurance rules are starting now with more to come this fall and next January. What does this mean to you? Our Health Care Reform team has created concise answers to the FAQs of people affected by MS."

Against my better judgment, I clicked. It's not awful, but it is a press release from the White House, repeating every lie and not questioning anything.

Q: I have MS and am uninsured. Can I now buy an individual health insurance policy?
A: Yes, if you have been without insurance for six months or more Uninsured people with pre-existing conditions will be able to buy a health plan through temporary high risk pools. In most states, they opened July 1, 2010. These pools will provide insurance until 2014. Although the temporary high risk pools are government financed, the premiums may still be high until more significant federal subsidies take effect through the National Health Benefit Exchanges in 2014. Still, these temporary pools mean no one can be refused insurance because of MS or any other condition.

Yup, it's got a lot more government -- which is better -- but over time we'll add more and more government and it will be better still.

I will plug, again, a non-Communist organization that raises money to help get equipment and care to patients that need it:The 2010 Wild West MS Walkabout.

Sadly, it is the last year they will be doing this but it is a pretty good crew. A few nurses associated with my drug trial are walking. I'll suggest supporting the "Advanced Neurology of Colorado" team. If you wanna.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I've been tossing away the paper mag they have been dumping in my snail-mail box for years now. They habitually take the path of least resistance.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 15, 2010 11:58 AM

Career Advice

Professor Reynolds links to "ANOTHER DOCTOR running for Congress in response to ObamaCare."

I don't know. Maybe some ThreeSourcers or their spouses are looking for cheap laughs. If so, I'm all in.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

A: "Yes ma'am."
Q: "The one who's gonna cut the spending and cut the debt and repeal Obamacare, right?"

The doctor, not the mustard. Well done! A name recognition amplifier.

Posted by: johngalt at July 15, 2010 2:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Another thing: There is a recurring theme for Republicans to label themselves Conservative Republican. This has become necessary in the age of "Progressive" Republicans.

Posted by: johngalt at July 15, 2010 2:31 PM

June 3, 2010

Why copy Europe now?

Much as this June 1 post made one ponder why America is so eager to emulate Canadian-style health care, Victor Davis Hanson muses about the example of Europe...

In short, as a reaction to the self-destruction of Europe in World War II and the twin monsters of fascism and communism, Europeans thought they could change human nature itself through the creation of an all-caring, all-wise European Union uber-citizen. Instead of dealing with human sins, European wise men of the last half-century would simply declare them passé.

But human-driven history is now roaring back with a fury in Europe -- from Mediterranean insolvency, to the threat of radical Islam, to demographic decline, to new international dangers on the horizon.

Only one question remains: At a time when Europe is discovering that its democratic socialism does not work, why in the world is the United States doing its best to copy it?

Both are good questions, and I have a single answer for both of them: If America doesn't follow suit quickly enough the "utopian" Euro-centric systems may crumble of their own weight before we get there.

The Progressives/Marxists/Euro-socialists will, of course, tell us that once America is integrated into the collective it will suddenly become sustainable. How, exactly, they never say. Nor do they explain our lack of recourse if, once the "bill is passed," we find it undesirable.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:12 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Or the explanation for why communism failed in the USSR: "It wasn't done right, but here we'll make it work! We won't make the same mistakes." This ignores that the entire collectivist "experiment" is one big gigantic mistake.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 4, 2010 10:57 AM

June 1, 2010

Another Winning Appointment

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defends the President's choice of Dr. Donald Berwick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees Medicare.

Have some compassion for the poor Secretary. I don't think I could defend him either:

  • The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly.

  • ...any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, MUST redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is, by definition, redistributional."

  • I am romantic about the [British] National Health Service; I love it.

  • You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices you need to make to keep affordability within reach. You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; you prefer slightly too little of a technology or a service to too much; then you search for care bottlenecks and try to relieve them.

Clearly, the "Absolutely Right Leader At This Time."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:17 PM | Comments (0)

I Found Us a Spot!

For our new hospital! It's close, has a modern infrastructure, good security, banking system. Canada!

TORONTO (Reuters) – Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada's provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, kicked off a fierce battle with drug companies and pharmacies when it said earlier this year it would halve generic drug prices and eliminate "incentive fees" to generic drug manufacturers.

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments and Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit -- an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee.

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.


None of their hockey teams are very good, but we will have to make sacrifices to keep the lamps of freedom and medical innovation alive.

eh?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

"...illegal user fee." ILLEGAL USER FEE?! Yeah, Obama Motors, aka 'GM' keeps insisting I pay one of those when I go in to get my next new car. Fascists!

(Challenge to reader: Spot the parts of this comment that are sarcasm and those that are not.)

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2010 2:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's examine this interesting story more closely.

"There's got to be some change to the status quo whether it happens in three years or 10 years," said Derek Burleton, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank. You mean, "change" to the "status quo" that was brought to you courtesy of the Progressive Movement decades ago?

Other problems include trying to control independently set salaries for top hospital executives and doctors and rein in spiraling costs for new medical technologies and drugs. The problem couldn't possibly be related to the lack of any "illegal user fees."

"Our objective is to preserve the quality healthcare system we have and indeed to enhance it. But there are difficult decisions ahead and we will continue to make them," Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told Reuters. Look for existing rationing regimes to become more severe.

"If it's absolutely free with no information on the cost and the information of an alternative that would be have been more practical, then how can we expect the public to wisely use the service?"

But change may come slowly. Universal healthcare is central to Canada's national identity, and decisions are made as much on politics as economics. There, in two sentences, is proof that altruism with democracy is a deadly mixture.

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2010 3:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is fun! OK, one more to share an anecdote.

Just got off the phone with the medical insurer about the payment of a hospital bill for my daughter's broken leg last year. "Amount billed" was $1375 with "amount not payable" totaling $848.20. The "allowable amount" of $526.80 seems reasonable for the procedure - an x-ray and a plaster walking cast - delivered with excellent care and attention. So why not just bill that amount instead of starting with a 161% overcharge? Within the details of that explanation can be found a big portion of rising healthcare costs. (Most of the rest is in the aforementioned "illegal user fees.")

To make matters worse, the insurance company classified the procedure as "surgery" and charged us an additional "illegal user fee" (co-pay for us gringos.) Never mind the details of the procedure, say the provider and the insurer, the billing codes say it was surgery, so QED.

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2010 3:19 PM

May 18, 2010

More Doctor Galts

Sadly, I am souring on all my Central American locations for our new hospital.

But word comes of potential staff. As they are already in Texas, they won't have as far to relocate.

Texas doctors are opting out of Medicare at alarming rates, frustrated by reimbursement cuts they say make participation in government-funded care of seniors unaffordable.

Two years after a survey found nearly half of Texas doctors weren't taking some new Medicare patients, new data shows 100 to 200 a year are now ending all involvement with the program. Before 2007, the number of doctors opting out averaged less than a handful a year.

“This new data shows the Medicare system is beginning to implode,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the Texas Medical Association. “If Congress doesn't fix Medicare soon, there'll be more and more doctors dropping out and Congress' promise to provide medical care to seniors will be broken.”


But, jk, they aren't leaving medicine -- just government medicine. Check your calendar.

Hat-tip: @Heritage

Posted by John Kranz at 5:03 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Who is John Galt?"

"This famous rhetorical question rings through Ayn Rand's best-selling novel as the people's anthem of despair in depressed economic times. Set in the future, the novel follows capitalist magnates as they battle looters, strikers, and the impending ruin of the United States' economy. The romantic and intellectual relationship between Dagny Taggart, the heroine, and John Galt, whose identity as the leader of the strike is eventually revealed, carries the novel to its climax.

This novel, controversial when it first appeared in 1957, purports Rand's objectivist philosophy that the individual is free to pursue his or her own happiness without bowing to God or society. Objectivism in action upholds full laissez-faire capitalism as the only philosophy that can protect humankind's freedom to think, to be inventive, and to live productively."

One correction: No longer set in the future.

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2010 2:57 PM

May 17, 2010

More on White Castle

I added this as an update to the post below, but that wasn't cathartic enough.

Let me get this straight -- you're assessing an extra fine if I give a job to a poor person? I guess if you accept that it's okay to fine an employer for providing a job to anybody, that only makes it a bit weirder.

More from NRO

UPDATE: Unintended consequence of side effect: Now you have to tell your employer your family income! Privacy anyone?

Under the new law, health insurance premiums charged by employers to employees must not exceed 9.5% of their household income. As many as 38% of employers may be at risk of violating the unaffordable coverage provision, [a Mercer] study concluded…

Mercer partner Tracy Watts said, “Lawmakers did not take into account that employers don’t have access to information on employee household income. Employers question how they are going to get that information and…what happens if an employee’s total family income changes during the course of a plan year?”

Posted by John Kranz at 4:14 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Before we offer you this job, how much is your family household income?"

I've got four words for you: DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 17, 2010 6:28 PM
But jk thinks:

They have to know, to see whether they need to pay the extra fine for hiring a poor person. And a new hire at White Castle is rarely in a strong position to exert his inner Lysander Spooner.

We have discussed some dumb gub'mint things on these pages, but this is quickly climbing to the top for me. Astonishing.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2010 6:44 PM

Quote of all Eternity

We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi
I'm confidant in the timelessness because this quote opens two stories today. Both James Taranto and the Washington Examiner Editorial Page see fit to open columns reminding readers of this curious phrase.

Taranto references Senator Patty Murray's concern that "An obscure part" of the law restricts abortion.

"Implementation of this reform should be about increasing access to health care and increasing choices, not taking them away," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate leadership. "Health care reform is not an excuse to take rights away from women."

Taranto provides the inconvenient truth that her vote for cloture cleared the biggest hurdle to enact this bill as law. Dang.

And the Examiner uses to the Speaker's words to highlight what happens when you read Section 1334, pages 97-100,

That section gives the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — which presently manages the federal civil service — new responsibilities: establishing and running two entirely new government health insurance programs to compete directly with private insurance companies in every state with coverage for people outside of government.

Quoting the new law, former OPM director Donald Devine notes that it makes the OPM boss a health care czar, with power to set “‘profit margin premiums and other such terms and conditions of coverage as are in the interest of enrollees in such plans.’ That’s open-ended. You can do anything.” Dan Blair, another former OPM director, calls the new program “nothing but a placeholder for the public option.” Indeed, the OPM head is also given the authority to “appoint as many employees” as needed to run the program, and to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to establish and administer it.


Huh. Public option, abortion restrictions -- if only there were some way to find out what was in a bill without enacting it into law! You'd think Madison would have thought of that.

UPDATE: Don't tell Harold and Kumar! White Castle analyst points out perverse mechanism against hiring poor people. You really can't make this stuff up!

On second thought, I think "Kumar" (Kal Penn) should be told after all.

The actor will be part of the White House Office of Public Liaison, which is run by Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Penn will be primarily involved in dealing with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the arts community.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2010

Liberty and Privacy

Woot.

A new lawsuit against ObamaCare® takes a more expansive view of its unconstitutionality.

In the complaint, the material about the interstate commerce power and the tax power is fairly standard. What makes the lawsuit significance is a well-developed argument (subject, of course, to the caveat that a complaint is not a brief) on medical privacy issues. Primarily, that the compelled disclosure to insurance corporations and insurance agents of private medical information (as well as urine or DNA samples and so on) is a violation of Fifth Amendment liberty, and of the constitutional right of privacy. Further, coercing individuals to associate with insurance companies and insurance agencies is a violation of the right of association, a right derivative of the First Amendment, but, as developed in later case law, not at all limited to classic First Amendment associations such as political or expressive organizations.

Hat-tip Volkh via Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

When the high court of the land has decreed that homeowners must sell to private companies as the government mandates, is there any hope it will rule we don't have to buy things from private companies as the government mandates?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2010 3:10 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, and I'd also advise these folks that if they want to argue by the Constitution, they're better off arguing about the 9th and 10th Amendments, rather than "derivative" rights that a court could very well reject.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 13, 2010 3:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A new line of argument is warmly received, given the revelation on the Stossel page you linked above that Intrade.com has "chance that Obamacare will be ruled unconstitutional because of the individual mandate" running about 10 percent right now.

But what about this "constitutional right of privacy?"

Who are you, and what have you done with my good friend and blog brother JK?!

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2010 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

"Emanations and Penumbra," Brother jg, it's very complicated... heh.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll join with Perry and the well deserved tease on 'privacy" but I think that a Fifth Amendment challenge could be strong. They cannot decide whether it is a tax or a penalty. Force then to choose and then explain how I am not "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 3:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Lemme just bang my gavel here. There, now you've had your due process. It's the law, so give the government its due.

There are just so many legalistic ways to defeat court challenges that I have absolutely no hope there. Republicans for the most part don't have even have the guts to campaign on the one thing: "I will work tirelessly to have this bad law repealed!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 14, 2010 10:31 AM

May 11, 2010

Sarcasm Alert!

Maybe there is too much sarcasm around ThreeSources lately. But when you see this, how can you avoid it?

Health overhaul law potentially costs $115B more

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's new health care law could potentially add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending over the next 10 years, congressional budget referees said Tuesday.

If Congress approves all the additional spending called for in the legislation, it would push the ten-year cost of the overhaul above $1 trillion — an unofficial limit the Obama administration set early on.

The Congressional Budget Office said the added spending includes $10 billion to $20 billion in administrative costs to federal agencies carrying out the law, as well as $34 billion for community health centers and $39 billion for Indian health care.

The costs were not reflected in earlier estimates by the budget office, although Republican lawmakers strenuously argued that they should have been. Part of the reason is technical: the additional spending is not mandatory, leaving Congress with discretion to provide the funds in follow-on legislation — or not.


"Tooth Fairy May be Mom & Dad -- DEVELOPING..."

Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM | Comments (4)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Unfortunately, the debt will be rolled over and over, so the Tooth Fairy will also be our children, grandchildren and beyond.

As I told a friend who renewed his auto insurance with AIG, it's his daughters who aren't yet of working age, and all his future descendants, who are backing his policy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 12, 2010 4:04 PM
But Jon Green thinks:

Ya i bet the congressional budget office has no idea what it's talking about when they said the policy will save us dozens of billions of a decade. Clearly letting americans get sick and treating when people are in critical condition is how adam smith and god want this country to be. and darn tootin' isn't that comic hilarious!! I mean dinosaurs?? excellent, you really captured the anachronistic b.s. of those hippie-dippie liberals, what the hell do they want progress for?? I've got it sweet right now and I want it staying that way, thank-you very much mr. fix society- hussein- obama!!! Where does he get off?? Helping people is the job of wandering prophets like our lord jesus christ, not some big government jerks! I mean ya jesus said we should treat each other how we would treat ourselves, but come on, i just work harder than poor people - and so i deserve more. It's not my fault their culture and way of life is inferior to mine?

No i don't think government should do anything! why do they keep doing social programs!! just drop all the taxes switch us to a theocracy and await the rapture! it's clearly coming, and guess who won't ascend? I'll give you one guess, it rhymes with Antsy Selosi!

Posted by: Jon Green at May 13, 2010 12:09 AM
But jk thinks:

@Jon: style points for the "rhymes with" ending. Nicely done. Considering the title, I guess style points all around.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2010 10:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I've cited conservativism's tendency to rely on "from God" as an ultimate defense of its moral code as a major flaw. And that morality should be advanced as a secular principle rooted in our nature as reasoning beings. Something tells me this guy is too far removed from reality for even that to bring him around.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2010 2:51 PM

April 29, 2010

Quote of the Day

In addition to the cost, states are worried about the strings attached to the program. In a conference call with state officials last week, HHS officials weren't able to answer specific questions about federal mandates that will be placed on participating states. That's discomforting because HHS will draft the program's rules only after states decide whether to sign up. -- Grace Marie Turner
From a great editorial in the WSJ, looking at States' decision to sign up for high-risk pools that are scheduled to run out of money "next year or in 2012."

Senator Levin, that is one s****y deal.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:17 PM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And to think I've been accusing Goldman and Paulson of improper disclosure!

I'm hard-pressed to think of a time when the federal government was more hypocritical. We've seen it bad, but every new day has a new thing exceeding the ones before. Congress wants to regulate derivatives because it claims people aren't smart enough to understand everything in there -- investors need government's "protection." Yet the states are being told, "Sign here, we'll tell you the terms later."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 29, 2010 1:43 PM
But jk thinks:

One becomes bored with pointing out that a private business would be jailed for half the stuff Congress does.

But after the mau-mauing we saw in the Senate the other day for 1/1000th of this, one has to mention it again. These guys want to regulate systemic risk.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2010 1:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the subject of playing by different rules, in yet another discussion about public employee pension programs and their UNSUSTAINABLE (hear that liberals?) defined benefit plans a guest expert on the Rosen show informed listeners that while the government has to adhere to GAAP accounting principles they have their very own advisory board to interpret them. Where the private sector has FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) the (state and local) public sector has GASB (Government Accounting Standards Board.) A quick Wikipedia search revealed that GASB "is a private, non-governmental organization." Okay, I guess, but I still suspect governments get far more lattitude than corporations.

I also learned that a similar effort was initiated in 1990 for the federal government. That version of GAAP is defined by the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. This is distinctly NOT a private organization. And something tells me they'll let federal agencies get away with just about anything.

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2010 3:21 PM

April 23, 2010

Hold the Presses!

ObamaCare® might cost more:

But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president's twin goal of controlling runaway costs, raising projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years. That increase could get bigger, since Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable, the report warned.

It's a worrisome assessment for Democrats.

In particular, concerns about Medicare could become a major political liability in the midterm elections. The report projected that Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors.


Hat-tip: Megan McArdle who asks Who could possibly have predicted this shocking and totally unexpected turn of events?

In other news, gambling at Rick's? DEVELOPING...

UPDATE: Matt Welch at Reason:

Now that the world is belatedly waking up to the fact that President Obama lied his face off about the fiscal impacts of health care reform, maybe it's an appropriate time to point out that he's lying his face off about financial reform as well:

Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2010

Port Wine Stain Removal?

JK just highlighted the press "discovery" of the impending doctor shortage and treatment delays and degradation under Obamacare. But Obamacare's big selling points were affordability and accessibility. We'll get improvements in those areas by mandating that everyone have coverage, right? Wrong.

In June 2002, Washington Policy Center published a study showing how state-imposed mandates add to the cost of health insurance. Since then state lawmakers have added new mandates, and the cost of insurance has continued to rise.

Yes I realize that the verb 'mandate' acts on different objects in the comparative cases, but the idea is that when government interferes in the marketplace only bad things happen.

Taken together, however, mandates impose significant cost on the health insurance market. State-imposed mandates carry the force of law, and they interfere directly in the voluntary relationship between buyer and seller. Mandates mean people are forced to pay for coverage they may not otherwise choose. This leads to a “crowding out” effect – coverage customers prefer is not available because insurers must offer the mandated benefits instead.

In Washington state, where this report was produced, the state mandates some 57 different conditions, providers, and beneficiaries be included in every health insurance policy. Included among these is "port wine stain removal." Imagine that not being covered. Oh, the humanity!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:41 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I had a pre-existing port wine stain and was denied coverage...

Posted by: jk at April 14, 2010 5:22 PM

Is This That Supply and Demand Thingy Again?

I don't think they're even factoring in Doctor Galts (Henderson, was it?) But "experts" on the WSJ News pages are discovering what real experts on the WSJ Editorial Page were screaming for months: we won't have enough doctors without ObamaCare®, ObamaCare® makes it worse, and ObamaCare® does nothing positive to alleviate the shortage.

The new federal health-care law has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors.

Experts warn there won't be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.


This is so weird. Government controls the price. And then there's a shortage. Somebody should do a study and see if there is some correlation...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You're just an evil, racist right-winger. Stop clinging to your guns and religion!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 14, 2010 1:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not Henderson but Hendricks, Doctor Hendricks.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2010 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

When did Obamacare partisans ever claim their bill would result in more doctors, better care or shorter wait times? They said it would make health insurance affordable and undeniable.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2010 3:18 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Of course, what good is the insurance if you have no one to provide the services it's supposed to pay for.

Posted by: Lisa M at April 14, 2010 5:22 PM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

If only someone had written about the problems with the supply-side of health care:

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=050107B

(Warning: Shameless self-promotion)

Posted by: Everyday Economist at April 14, 2010 9:44 PM
But jk thinks:

@EE: Shameless Self Promotion is a feature not a bug around here. It's a great article and well worth a(nother) read.

The reference to substitution is interesting. Walgreen's has added nurse practitioners in in-store clinics. I think that CVS and Walmart* have done the same. In anything resembling a free market, this would be an effective solution for much of what ails health care.

Yet I worry that the perpetuation of a top-down, command-and-control model will impede the growth of these services, which would help alleviate the upcoming shortage.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2010 10:34 AM

April 13, 2010

Quote of the Day

If you like your plan, you can keep it: Whoops - Congress Eliminates Own Health Care Plan via Obamacare http://bit.ly/c2W08d #tcot #hcr -- @bdomenech (Ben Domenech)

UPDATE: Same topic, diff'rent pundit:

Good luck with that, guys. Are congressmen really going to pass legislation to rectify the harm ObamaCare did to them, while continuing to subject everyone else to this awful, hated law? Leaving the law in place isn't a politically attractive option either, for the reason National Review's Yuval Levin points out: "If you had your own research service to help you figure out what the law will do to your insurance, the answer would likely be just as confusing and discouraging." The CRS's findings are a powerful reminder that ObamaCare likely holds horrible surprises for everyone. -- James Taranto

Posted by John Kranz at 1:46 PM | Comments (0)

April 8, 2010

America's "Unusual Bargain"

In the 25th comment under JK's "That's Not Me" post lamenting the "God and Values and Country" flavor of the organized TEA Party Express bus tour JK expressed that "giving" a right to individuals which, in turn, takes away the rights of other individuals to "define my own law" is an unusual bargain. Maybe I'm being too cavalier but I believe that's what America has always been about. In the 26th comment I made a layman's case for a supportive Constitutional interpretation:

I contend that our difference of opinion arises from two different interpretations of the Ninth Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

I submit that these unenumerated rights are those of individual people. I read you as insisting that what is not explicitly prohibited by the Constitution any majority of people may impose upon all individual people. I say the latter interpretation de facto turns the ninth amendment on its head.

It's an interesting topic worthy of its own post. And the original thread rolled off the page today. Something tells me that commenters aren't yet finished.

UPDATE: An extension of the excerpt from my own comment (in response to jk's first comment below).

The ninth amendment is to protect the rights of individuals, of minorities, from all levels of government, not of states from the Feds. By my reading the tenth amendment does not give the states power to abrogate the right of individual people "to be secure in their persons..."

This is the nature of my "parasite" argument. That clinical term does not imply benefit or harm, but the state of being conjoined as one person in the eyes of the Constitution. No, you won't find this in the text. But you will find numerous prohibitions that threaten Obamacare or "the right to receive uncompensated medical care from my neighbor."

(Emphasis added.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:32 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

So there is indeed a right to health care (nowhere does it say there isn't). And any law which allows any provider to refrain from providing any treatment for any reason will be struck down.

This will save us a lot of debate on ObamaCare and I won't have to endure another one of those "God and Values and Country" TEA parties.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2010 4:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Funny, I haven't seen any legislatures passing such laws ... telling doctors they don't have to treat someone.

I don't understand why it's so hard to recognize that a document acknowledging unenumerated individual liberties doesn't imply unenumerated government powers. Specifically enumerating the latter is the way to protect the former.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2010 7:49 PM

April 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

If you say to an average person: "What would you rather have: Free health care or an un-trampled Constitution," people are going to pick free health care because people like free stuff. They also like rainbows, puppies and therapeutic massage and, one day, we will all have a right to those too — I hope. Which is why we had the Constitution to begin with: To protect us from ourselves. -- Greg Gutfield.
Gutfield is respecting Rep Phil Hare's candor "I give him credit for saying what no one else on his side is saying: This entitlement means more to us than the principles on which our country was founded." We're stupefied hearing him say he doesn't care about the Constitution (and them of course, conflating it with the Declaration -- the depredating that.

But Gutfield is sadly right. My newfound Facebook Communists don't see why some old piece of paper should keep them from getting free stuff.

UPDATE: Heh. Blog Brother ac posts Gutfield's "politically-incorrect" iPad review.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

With apologies to Robert Heinlein: "TANSTAFHC"

(Tahn-stahf-hic?)

From the original manuscript: "Means 'There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.' And isn't" I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, "or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless."

Magister dixit.

Means same for Health Care.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2010 2:24 PM

April 4, 2010

Quote of the Day

Obamacare was supposed to provide unicorns and rainbows: How can it possibly be hurting companies and killing jobs? Surely there's some sort of Republican conspiracy going on here!

More like a confederacy of dunces. Waxman and his colleagues in Congress can't possibly understand the health care market well enough to fix it. But what's more striking is that Waxman's outraged reaction revealed that they don't even understand their own area of responsibility - regulation -- well enough to predict the effect of changes in legislation. -- Glenn Reynolds in an Examiner editorial with bonus Hayek references,

Posted by John Kranz at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2010

Denver TEA Party III

I don't yet have firm plans to attend tomorrow's Denver TEA Party [4pm at the State Capitol] but if I go, these will be my signs:

And...

Are any of the Colorado brothers interested in going? I have two blank poster boards and need someone to carry the second sign.

UPDATE: 3/31 0850 MDT - According to People's Press Collective the scheduled 4pm start time is unlikely. Travel delays from Grand Junction mean the start time will probably be 5pm instead.

Also, I had assumed that Palin and other headliners were on board for the entire tour. Not so.

In the event that none of us go to the event I invite others to contribute their sign ideas in the comments.

UPDATE II (jk): Blog friend Sugarchuck sends a pic:
trustme.jpg

Posted by JohnGalt at 8:44 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

Not out of line at all. Besides not having to walk from a parking spot we'll also be livin' the green life in the carpool lane!

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Posted before update -- whatever you decide. I'm not sure Palin's absence isn't a plus. With all respect to the guv, I'd rather attend a freedom rally than a "Sarah Palin rally."

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2010 10:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

More signs:

WHAT PART OF "ENUMERATED POWERS" DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?


ENEMY OF THE STATIST
|
V


(A couple of these would make good 3Srcs T-shirts!)

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 11:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

News of Ms. Palin's absence serves mostly to explain the dearth of local advertising for the event.

jk: I emailed you to discuss logistics. [@3srcsdotcom]

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 1:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Got your email, thanks. $50 seems a bit excessive for gas but we're thinking it over...

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2010 1:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What did you expect in the "new energy economy?"

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 2:56 PM

Obama: Health Care Bill is "All Sorts of Republican Ideas"

Did anyone else catch this Matt Lauer interview of Obama this morning?

The president is "frustrated" that Republicans did not support these ideas that they had actually proposed in the past.

Mister president, have you forgotten that the Republicans were VOTED OUT OF OFFICE FOR THE POLICIES THEY PROPOSED IN THE PAST? Instead of trying to please congressional Republicans, try pleasing the voters.

TEA anyone?

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:41 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Clearly he recognizes the unpolularity of ObamaCare® -- he's trying to blame Republicans!

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2010 5:14 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

You mean that interview where he said that the Tea Party's core is a bunch of birthers? The flat out lies in that interview were too many to count, including his claim that his NCAA brackets blew up because he was too busy concentrating on health care.

Posted by: Lisa M at March 30, 2010 6:47 PM
But jk thinks:

If only the President had payed more attention to his NCAA bracket, the country could have saved Trillions!

Posted by: jk at March 30, 2010 7:13 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

"Mister president, have you forgotten that the Republicans were VOTED OUT OF OFFICE FOR THE POLICIES THEY PROPOSED IN THE PAST? Instead of trying to please congressional Republicans, try pleasing the voters."

I do not understand this.

Republicans are in office for eight years. Voters do not like them - perhaps for what they proposed, perhaps for what they (or did not) accomplish. It does not matter really - the voters chose to kick them out.

But they also chose to put someone else in. That someone was a person, described by yourself, as 'the most radical leftist President' in America's history.

Doesn't the election of such a man imply the implicit endorsement of radical leftism by the voting public? Or at least, the rejection of conservatism writ-large?

You say Obama should stop trying to please congressional Republicans and start trying to please voters. Forgive me, but that sounds like an invitation for an even more socialistic set of policies than we have got.

TEA is fine and all, but lets not fool ourselves into thinking we have attained greater heights. We have a long way upwards yet.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 31, 2010 7:49 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll let brother jg defend his own words; I'm guessing that we're all gobsmacked that this single-party cramdown that gathered zero GOP votes is presented as being jam-packed with Republican Ideas®

I will speak up on the suggestion that President Obama's election proves "endorsement of radical leftism." President Obama cleverly ran away from his leftist record. He beat up Senator Clinton for insurance mandates and wasn't going to raise taxes "one dime" on earners below 250K. Post-partisan, post-racial, and Post Toasties, a new era of government bla bla bla.

It worked and I won't blame him for trying it. You're correct that the GOP left the door wide open and he walked through it. But it is unfair to the poor American voter to say that he asked for this.

Posted by: jk at March 31, 2010 10:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

My best effort at explaining how a center-right country elected the most radical leftist president in history is here.

It took the happy, not-paying-attention public six to eight years to recognize that Republicans were ripping them off. It hasn't taken that long with the Bolshecrats.

Posted by: johngalt at March 31, 2010 10:43 AM

March 26, 2010

Repeal is Real

Investors.com editorial page explains how national health bills have been repealed in the past and can be again.

Then:

Once before there were "angry mobs" reacting to government expansion of and into health care. They once greeted former House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski over the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988, which expanded Medicare benefits and funded it with a supplemental tax.

Unlike the current legislation, which was barely passed through a combination of deals such as the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase (along with a worthless executive order on federal funding of abortion services), the earlier bill passed the House in June 1988 by a vote of 328-72. It passed the Senate by 86-11.

In a precursor to the Tea Party movement, the natives, particularly seniors, rebelled over its provisions and the supplemental tax.

(...)

Legislation to repeal was introduced in the House on Nov. 7, 1989, and passed by a voice vote.

Now:

There's still time for repeal. House Minority Leader John Boehner says the election of a Republican House and Senate in 2010 would make possible the de-funding of ObamaCare. A victory at the presidential level in 2012 would seal the deal.

It can be done. It has been done. It must be done. To paraphrase Joe Biden, it's a big deal.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

I thought 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday night in Washington was the Republican Party's finest hour in a long time. When the voting stopped, the screen said the number of Republicans voting for Mr. Obama's bill was zero. Not one. Nobody. -- Dan Henninger
Posted by John Kranz at 5:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2010

Health Care

I'm going to try and take the advice of two very smart people. Nicholas Nassim Taleb suggested, in The Black Swan, that everybody [jk] should read more books and less news. A good friend of mine and this blog sent a private email suggesting that my jest of "putting down the keyboard" was actually a pretty good idea.

My work has me wired in and using three Internet connected computers, so I won't stop hitting F5 on ThreeSources, but in that spirit I did decide that the best reaction to my liberty-ignoring friends was no reaction.

Another good friend who has right to be far more disappointed than me pointed out the folly of repeal. "We're gonna take away your free stuff" is not really a campaign winner. ObamaCare is here to stay, All we can do [close your ears ThreeSourcers, he's gonna say it again] is fight at the margins.

It's a Brave, New, Darkly Dystopian world -- and Soma® isn't even legal.

AND YET, I still have to link to Holman Jenkins's outstanding editorial today "Now Can We Have Health Care Reform?"

We'll let Angela Braly, CEO of insurer WellPoint, take the story from here. She was recently hauled before Congress to justify her company's proposed 39% rate hike in California. She explained the source was two-fold: rising medical costs and healthier customers dropping their coverage, forcing the sick to pick up the tab.

Now this sounds like two problems, but for WellPoint and other insurers it's really only one problem. Once everyone is required by government mandate to buy insurance, the industry's survival is no longer threatened: It can just pass its skyrocketing costs along to customers.
Once customers can no longer refuse to buy the industry's product, the problem of costs won't be fixed, but it no longer is the insurance industry's problem.

There, in that one sentence, we give you the failure of ObamaCare, the failure of the congressional health-care debate, the failure of health-care politics in this country.


He ends with a dare for us to open our hospital. Judging from my email, a lot of health professionals are ready to join us:
A world-class hospital in India does heart surgery the equal of any heart surgery in America, but does so at one-tenth the cost (and increasingly attracts a world-wide clientele). The reason is not what you think: low-paid doctors and nurses. The reason is that competition works in medicine as it does in everything else when the patient cares about getting value for money. This is the great low-hanging fruit of health-care reform. It continues to hang.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2010

Why Health Care is so expensive

Just as the housing bubble can be traced to the Community Reinvestment Act, the American health care 'crisis' can be traced to EMTALA. This act, part of the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is the origin of the treatment-on-demand mandate on American hospitals. The stick that makes hospitals comply is continued receipt of Medicare reimbursements. So why can't a private hospital choose to stop treating Medicare patients and, as an added bonus, indigent patients?

As with the CRA, EMTALA was made worse by subsequent amendments. Like this one:

"Though patients treated under EMTALA may or may not be able to pay or have insurance or other programs pay for the associated costs, they are legally responsible for any costs incurred as a result of their care under civil law. Patients whose advance intention it is to receive medical care and fail to pay cannot be held criminally liable unless they intentionally and knowingly provide false identifying information to dodge billing."

And yet, as amended...

"The patient cannot receive a negative credit mark for failure to pay the hospital or any related services, or any third-party agent collecting on their behalf."

Cockamamie.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:47 PM | Comments (0)

Defend Colorado from ObamaCare

Jon Caldera is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution to protect health care choice.

We at the Independence Institute refuse to watch this atrocity corrode the quality of healthcare in Colorado. For months we have been at work bringing forward an amendment to the Colorado Constitution to preserve as a basic human right our “Right to Health Care Choice.” It is my goal to make Colorado a sanctuary state for quality healthcare.

This citizens’ initiative is very close to the petition stage. Soon we will need as many volunteer petition gatherers as possible. We will also need funding to wage this battle. I ask you, right now, to donate to our fight. I desperately need your talents, your time, and your resources to protect Colorado from this affront coming from DC. We can stop Washington.


Follow the links to read the amendment (in lovely, non-selectable PDF...)

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

'Sanctuary State for quality health care.' Ingenious.

I support this amendment. I've signed up as a signature gatherer. BUT-

I'm convinced that SCOTUS precedent allowing federal law to trump state law would ultimately overcome even this constitutional amendment. Our only real, legitimate hope to defend the Republic is that same Supreme Court.

Damn, am I glad the president used his latest State of the Union address to piss off Justice Alito!

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2010 3:37 PM

March 22, 2010

Colorado to Join ObamaCare Suit

Two great things about health care:

-- I am proud of the GOP
-- I am proud of my State:

DENVER (AP) — Colorado is joining at least nine other states in suing to block federal health care legislation.

Republican Attorney General John Suthers said Monday he will join the suit, despite the objections of Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter.

Suthers said the bill's requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or be subject to fines is an unconstitutional expansion of the federal government's powers. He says Congress has the right to control interstate commerce but can't force people to participate in commerce.

Suthers said his decision isn't politically motivated. Republican state lawmakers urged him to join the lawsuit earlier in the day but Suthers said he didn't meet with them to reach his decision.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:51 PM | Comments (2)
But Bilbe thinks:

Good story. True. I'm concerned about the GOP though: they need to proceed on several fronts: I believe most Americans would be horrified to realize that this changes the most basic agreement between the gov't & the governed; WHO NOW OWNS AND DIRECTS WHOM? So, education/clarification, probably through private ads. They need to broaden their views on potential cand's (who's that guy from FL? I think it's Marco Rubio? And Thune (or is it Thane?) So, Diversity & careful choice of the right cand @ the right time. 3rd: & have already shown signs of beginning to do: growing a set: knowing who & what they are & speaking the truth continually and clearly without rancor. So, know their ground & STAND UP for it. 4th (& final for now) better involvement by & coordination of Volunteers, who, aware of their danger too late (perhaps) are eagerly scrambling to find a way out of this affront to every man, woman, child and beast who ever died to keep us a free people.

Posted by: Bilbe at March 23, 2010 10:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Being an advocate of free speech, I leave one copy of the above comment -- it's moderately on-topic for blogspam.

I removed the duplicate and the link to a cellphone plan.

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2010 12:13 PM

QoTD II

Brother Keith admits to a fondness for Latin:

The editors of National Review sensibly counsel conservatives, in the wake of last night’s victory for Obamacare: “‘Nil desperandum’--never despair.” I agree, though I’m more inclined to the mock-Latin motto of the Harvard band: “Illegitimi non carborundum”--don't let the bastards get you down. -- Bill Kristol

Posted by John Kranz at 7:11 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

If only the Preznit's motto weren't "oderint, dum metuant."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 23, 2010 11:33 AM
But jk thinks:

I think that one sounds better in the original Klingon...

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2010 12:07 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Touche, jk. Nicely played.

I've never heard it in the original Klingon, though; if I e-mail Michelle Obama for the quote, do you suppose she'll reply?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 23, 2010 12:19 PM

"Free" Health Care

"Hey buddy, what're ya in for?"

"I refused to practice medicine under duress."

"I quit when medicine was placed under State control some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun.

I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward. I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything - except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, but 'to serve.'

That a man who's willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards - never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy. I have often wondered at the smugness at which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind - yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn. Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce.

Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it - and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."

-- Ayn Rand, from Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:05 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Superb, timely, germane and all that. I tried to post it as my Facebook status but it's about 5000 characters too long.

Not sure what to say on this sad day, but this passage nails it. I went with the shorter "Our fathers and grandfathers fought wars in distant lands to preserve freedom for the next generations. We gave it away because we won't pay our doctors' bills."

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2010 12:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let me help you choose:

- Paragraph 1, last sentence.

- Paragraph 2, sentence 2, 3, or 4.

- Paragraph 3, sentence 1, 2 or 3-5.

- Closing paragraph.

Any one of those 8 selections would make a powerful, stand-alone statement. Magister dixit.

(Rand was oft criticized for repetition - usually by those whose "fraudulent generalities" she railed against.)

Anyone know the latin for "fraudulent generalities?"

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2010 7:59 PM

March 21, 2010

219

Not with a bang, but a whimper

Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 PM | Comments (4)
But dagny thinks:

Nothing makes me shout at the television in frustration more than Nancy Pelosi sounding smug. She just sets my teeth on edge.

She says, "Being a woman will no longer be considered a pre-existing condition."

Really???? I can't think of too much more, "pre-existing," than my gender.

Further, it makes total sense that women would cost more to insure as they bear children and have longer life spans. I would not trade my child-bearing (as a mother of of three) or my life expectancy for slightly lower premiums.

Men pay more for life insurance.

WHY is this so obvious to me and not obvious to everyone???

Posted by: dagny at March 22, 2010 10:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, Dagny, I was trying to think of some biological condition that women were more susceptible to, that might make their health care more expensive. In the end I could not think of anything and decided that the Speaker was right -- it must be pure, patriarchical sexism. Childbirth, yeah, that's it.

But I can help with the second part: They don't see it because they don't want to.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2010 12:38 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The pre-existing condition under socialized medicine is age. When you get too old, you're not worth covering any more and are denied care on that basis.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 22, 2010 1:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actually, br, the pre-existing condition under socialized medicine - the condition for which swift and efficacious care may generally be denied - is illness or injury.

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2010 8:02 PM

Quote of the Day

I've never been prouder to be a Republican. The party's Congressional leaders have fought this battle to the end on behalf of the American people--with intelligence, toughness, persistence and good humor. The contrast between the parties has never been starker than in today's debate. If any intelligent Democrats were watching--there must be some left--they had to be embarrassed for their party.--John Hinderocker, looking for silver linings on a day of dark-ass clouds.
Posted by John Kranz at 9:35 PM | Comments (0)

Couldn't She Find a Bigger Gavel?

Just asking.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2010

ObamaCare Won't Cost Dems Their Jobs

That's the thesis of Dana Milbank in tomorrow's Washington Post column.

Beyond that, it's doubtful that opposition to the measure will ever again be as high as it is now. Fox News polling found that 45 percent of voters would favor repeal, while 47 percent say leave the reforms alone or add to them. With the big insurance subsidies years away, the initial changes stemming from the legislation would be relatively modest -- and that should come as a surprise to an American public told by Republican foes of the legislation to expect a socialist takeover of the United States.

(...)

There will certainly be ads this fall saying Republican Congressman X voted against tax breaks for small business and voted to deny Junior his life-saving treatments. These modest changes to the health system probably wouldn't be widespread and noticeable enough to limit Democratic losses at a time of 10 percent unemployment. But, at the very least, voters would see nothing to justify the Republicans' apocalyptic predictions.

Yet repeal still holds appeal, even to the likes of Mitt Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts created what the New Republic's Jonathan Chait calls "the closest thing to Obamacare in the United States." A poll by the Boston Globe and Harvard last fall found that only one in 10 Massachusetts residents favors a repeal of that program.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:58 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Yup, me and Dana -- two peas in a pod.

I think it will add to troubles in an already tough year, but our [who's this "we" kimosabe?] belief that this is a coupon for 100 seats is potentially misguided. I will give them my favorite joke, mutatis mutandis: "Hey guys, I hear we're going to get to run against the Republicans again this year."

Not guided by my cautious tactical pragmatism and cool head, many TEA partiers will go to third parties or stay home because the People's Front of Judea candidate isn't pure enough.

A quote of my father's wafts back as well: "Great is the power of incumbency." The man was ahead of his time.

Posted by: jk at March 21, 2010 10:49 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"Mutatis mutandis" - I always appreciate Latin. And my compliments to your father, jk... though I trust Tom Daschle was relying on that one. If you wake up enough voters, incumbency's power may be great, but not absolute. I am hoping that enough people have been awakened, and there are polls indicating that may be the case. I'm also hoping that as some Democrats cast their votes today, they'll be remembering a little Latin of their own: "Ave, Imperator! Morituri te salutant!"

I have, hoping against hope, called my Congressman's office, politely expressed my position, and was told that Adam Schiff is firmly committed to voting in favor of passing health care "reform" in every vote that takes place today. I expressed my sincere disappointment and thanked the staffer.

I will vote for whoever runs against Schiff, even if I have to run against the sumbich myself.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 21, 2010 12:08 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Milbank's analysis and optimism not withstanding, the math is not on the side of Republicans. There is no conceivable scenario in which the Republicans pick up a veto-proof majority in both houses - not enough net-seats in play even if they ran the table. Any alternations will be quickly vetoed and sustained even by a Democrat minority, who will suddenly rail against the tyranny of a simple majority. This leaves any hope for meaningful reform to 2014, and The Refugee is not sure the fire can be kept burning that long.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 22, 2010 3:07 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

BR: you've taken away my hope for optimism. That leaves only secession, armed resistance, or living with it.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 22, 2010 4:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not anticipating a veto-proof majority soon (or ever, that is a pretty rare incident), I want a house majority in 2010 -- that stops it from getting worse. Picking up either the Senate or WH in 2012. That would be the start of making things better.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2010 5:37 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Sorry to be a splash of cold water, KA. My hope lies in the new post above about fighting this thing state-to-state. We may also need to adopt the Left's strategy of challenging everything in the courts. Nevertheless, any serious modifications are a long shot. Government cheese is more addictive than crack.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 23, 2010 12:07 PM

AP/OBAMA Newswire - "Medicare fix would push health care into the red"

Betsy Markey based her vote on the CBO deficit reduction number. Now AP (not the Washington Times, not the Heritage Foundation ... the 'in-the-tank, Associated Press) reports:

The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that rolling back a programmed cut in Medicare fees to doctors would cost $208 billion over 10 years. If added back to the health care overhaul bill, it would wipe out all the deficit reduction, leaving the legislation $59 billion in the red.

Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Markey and the entire Subvert Constitutional Procedure Caucus have been hailing deficit reduction as the justification for destroying the best part of Canada's health care system - the American system. Now this AP report, citing CBO blows that claim out of the water.

What say you, Markey?

I'm really curious why our more liberal blog brothers been completely silent through all of this. Do they believe ObamaCare will cut the deficit, or do they think it's "benefits" are worth a bit more deficit spending?

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

CODE RED Rally in D.C. via Cell Phone Vid

This is cool! Tania Gail of PAWaterCooler.com is going to the Capitol rally today and she's posting live video clips to her website via cell phone. If you click on the image it links to her qik.com page which shows a google map of her location when the video was recorded.

11 minutes ago she posted this clip. "Holy cow, people are coming!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

Graphic of the Day

Professor Mankiw suggests a warning label for CBO scores:

warninglabel.jpg

In the discussion of out and out lies and gimmickry used to game the CBO numbers, both Larry Kudlow and Mankiw remind that the CBO by definition scores statically (their Laffer Curve is flat). They can score an increase in taxes to 110% as revenue and not account for any loss from people who would prefer not to pay to go to work every day.

Indeed, to be very wonkish about it, these tax changes could have especially large GDP effects. Some people like to argue that taxes have small GDP effects because income and substitution effects offset each other. But if you give someone a subsidy and then phase it out, both the income and substitution effects work in the direction of reducing work effort.

Why does CBO assume no change in GDP? It is not because the CBO staffers necessarily believe that result. Rather, it is just one of the conventions of budget scoring.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2010

"We're Going to Control The Insurance Companies!"

Hat-tip: Weasel Zippers via Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 6:04 PM | Comments (5)
But dagny thinks:

Those nasty insurance companies and their 2% profit margins.

WOW 2 comments for me in one day, must be record. Comes from being laid off. Anyone want an accountant?

Posted by: dagny at March 19, 2010 7:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And what a fortune will be saved as a result!

Biden - "We really got a great number back from the Congressional Budget Office. (...) Indicates we're gonna save billions of dollars over ten years, over a trillion in the next ten. That's great news and I think that frees up a lot of guys who were goin' 'Wait a minute, I don't know about if there's really gonna be savings here."

With promises of "billions" and "trillions" in savings it's clear that insurance companies aren't the only ones they're controlling.

And yet if we call him a complete @#$#ing liar the approbation will be heaped on ... us.

Posted by: johngalt at March 19, 2010 9:36 PM
But jk thinks:

He's the Guerilla Pedant, you never know where or when he will strike next!

I think you may mean "disapprobation," bro. I heap approbation on you every day.

Posted by: jk at March 20, 2010 11:21 AM
But jk thinks:

That is, we all heap something on each other around here...

Posted by: jk at March 20, 2010 11:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, yeah. What he said!

I could claim that I used the wrong word intentionally, just to see if anyone was watching. But that would be Bidenesque.

Posted by: johngalt at March 20, 2010 12:54 PM

"Doc-Fix Gate"

Those of us paying attention knew it was true, but now someone within the Democrat ranks has leaked proof:

“As most health staff knows, leadership and the White House are working with the AMA to rally physicians for a full SGR ["sustainable growth rate" for medicare reimbursements to doctors] repeal later this spring. However, both health and communications staff should understand we do not want that policy discussion discussed at this time, lest (it) complicate the last critical push to pass health reform,” according to the memo.

The memo helps explains why the American Medical Association has supported reform even though their top legislative priority, the doc fix, was left out. The group is working behind the scenes with Democratic leadership and the White House to fix the cuts later this year.

And in the prior paragraph of the memo was this astonishingly honest statement:

"The inclusion of a full SGR repeal would undermine reform's budget neutrality."

According to the Politico piece, SGR repeal would increase the deficit another $371 ba-billion.

Gee, it's a good thing Rep. Betsy Markey made sure that the CBO scored the legislation as "deficit reducing." I guess she didn't get the memo, addressed to "Democratic Health and Communications Staff."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:37 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Rep. Altmire (D - PA4) got the memo and will reprise his no vote with an encore.

Posted by: jk at March 19, 2010 6:01 PM

He Claims to Believe in Property Rights...

Yet, as a service to ThreeSourcers who do not subscribe to the WSJ (Heretics!), I provide the full text of their ObamaCare Editorial today.

Gotta go now, Rupert's jack-booted thugs are at the door...

March Madness

Has there ever been a political spectacle like the final throes of ObamaCare? We can't recall one outside of a banana republic, or, more accurately, Woody Allen's 1971 classic "Bananas." Capitol Hill resembles nothing so much as that movie's farcical coup d'etat in San Marcos as Democrats try to assemble the partisan minimum of 216 House votes—if only for an hour or so at some point on Sunday—and no bribe is too costly, no deal too cynical, no last-minute rewrite too blatant.

Yesterday, Democrats defeated 222 to 203 a GOP resolution that would have required them to vote up-or-down on the text of the Senate's Christmas Eve bill. Big Labor hates that bill's tax on high-cost health coverage, and rank-and-file Members are so embarrassed by its kickbacks that Democrats are resorting to the procedural trick of "deeming" it passed instead. Speaker Nancy Pelosi actually told reporters this week that "nobody wants to vote for the Senate bill," but she'll do what it takes to impose it anyway.

The Commander in Chief even felt obliged to cancel his overseas trip so he could personally explain to Members why this Presidential legacy project is worth their defeat in November. Four separate workout sessions, including an Air Force One trip to hometown Cleveland, were enough to convert Dennis Kucinich. The supposedly principled Ohio liberal had opposed ObamaCare in the House's November vote because it still preserves a vestige of a private health-care industry. But a vast expansion of the welfare state as a consolation prize is now good enough for his government work.

That's only the start of the logrolling, if that's not an insult to logs. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced on Tuesday that central California would get extra public water allocations. This was apparently the price for Democrats Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa to vote something other than their consciences. We will hear about many more in the coming days.

Also yesterday the white smoke rose up from the Congressional Budget Office, which released its cost estimates for the "reconciliation" bill and the sundry fixes without which Mrs. Pelosi can't deem the Senate bill passed. Democrats pre-emptively released the topline numbers, which by themselves took weeks of tweaking to game the CBO's accounting conventions and officially stay under $1 trillion in spending for 10 years. (The real cost over a decade once all the spending kicks in: $2.4 trillion.)

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf was thus obliged to release a "preliminary estimate," having "not thoroughly examined the legislative language." Mr. Elmendorf said at a hearing that his health-care staff members were close to burning out under "the almost round-the-clock schedule" of unrelenting Democratic demands about the budgetary effects of this or that provision. And all for a bill whose subsidies don't begin until 2014.

By the way, to make the deficit numbers "work," Democrats decided at the 11th hour to increase their new tax on investment income to 3.8% from 2.9%. Congratulations.

White House budget director Peter Orszag quickly declared that "The CBO score today should leave no doubt that we are operating in a new fiscal era," and no kidding. One thing the score also made clear, however, is that Mrs. Pelosi's reconciliation fixes could easily be blown to pieces in the Senate. While the Democratic strategy is already a wholesale abuse of the traditional reconciliation process, it now bids to violate the actual rules of reconciliation as well.

In a carom shot if there ever was one, the excise tax on gold-plated health coverage has received one last tweak. It is expected to fund ObamaCare as employees take more of their compensation in wages rather than health insurance, thus exposing more income to ordinary taxes. The House demand to delay that tax until 2018 from 2013 in the Senate bill—to appease the likes of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who met one-on-one with Mr. Obama on Wednesday—therefore reduces Social Security payroll tax revenues. But reconciliation expressly forbids such changes to Social Security, and CBO says this change will drain some $53 billion from the program's trust fund.

Senate Republicans will therefore be entitled to raise a budget "point of order" against the entire reconciliation bill if it does arrive in the upper chamber. That will let them strip out the offending provision—which will offend the labor movement, to say the least—or even send the entire bill back to the House, forcing another round of agony on the gullible rank-and-file.

North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad admitted the risks yesterday, asking rhetorically if he expected that some GOP "challenges will be upheld? Yeah. I do." By the way, Mr. Conrad and his House North Dakota colleague Earl Pomeroy are getting a special provision that exempts a state-owned North Dakota bank from the unrelated private student loan takeover that Democrats have included as part of ObamaCare. That multibillion-dollar baby was added to further rig the budget numbers and win over conflicted Members.

***
Even the political panic over the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program, amid an incipient financial collapse and a Presidential election, looks like regular order compared to this ObamaCare mayhem. That the White House and Mrs. Pelosi are still running into such resistance after a year of pleading reveals what an historic blunder ObamaCare really is.

This is what happens when a willful President and his party try to govern America from the ideological left, imposing a reckless expansion of the entitlement state that most Americans, and even dozens of Democrats in Congress, clearly despise.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Words fail...

Instead, are you in the mood for a little more optimism?

We've discussed before that if the Obama Administration had not thrown the American electorate into boiling water, or if Democrat-Lite John McCain had been elected, the voters likely would never notice the ever forward creep toward American socialism. So why do Obama and Pelosi keep the rolling boil going? Why not back off the pressure and accept a slightly faster pace of creep instead of a wholesale leap into their egalitarian "paradise?" The answer, in my opinion, is that they know the veil has already been lifted and Americans don't like the looks of the new bride Democrats are walking down the aisle for them. For them, it's shotgun wedding time.

Resist with dignity now. Don't pucker up when she kisses us. Take it like a man. Make sure all the relatives and the local papers know, over the next seven months, what an abomination was forced upon us. November 2nd is the filing date for divorce court and we need to be the first in line.


P.S. It seems that WSJ made the entire editorial visible without subscription. And who said they're not charitable!

Posted by: johngalt at March 19, 2010 11:44 AM
But dagny thinks:

I am furious and this the most public forum I can easily get to express this so I will. Unfortunately here at Threesources I am mostly preaching to the choir. I did as stated below call Betsy Markey, lot of good that did.

I am also an accountant and so this is what I see. The supporters of Obamacare are telling me repeatedly that we are going to provide health care to millions more people and to people with pre-existing conditions and it is not going to cost more and quality will not suffer. I don't believe them. I don't believe in the tooth fairy either.

That is the heart of my objection. This health care reform will necessarily raise taxes or reduce care and more likely both. There is no alternative.

"The worst kind of tyranny is to make a man pay for what he doesn't want merely because you think it would be good for him."

R.A.H.

Posted by: dagny at March 19, 2010 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

My presidential reading tour has brought me to TR. I'm starting with his autobiography, which does nothing to reverse my philosophical impression of #26, even though it is impossible not to appreciate him personally.

He makes a great quote, though. Entering the NY Legislature in the full heat of the Stalwart-Half-breed wars, he says of the "Silk Stockings" Republicans:

They were apt vociferously to demand "reform" as if it were some concrete substance, like cake, which could be handed out at will, in tangible masses, if only the demand were urgent enough. These parlor reformers made up for inefficiency in action by zeal in criticising; and they delighted in criticising the men who really were doing the things which they said ought to be done, but which they lacked the sinewy power to do.

Bully!

Posted by: jk at March 19, 2010 5:54 PM

March 18, 2010

Will She Even Bother to Run Again?

Despite what meager effort I and my family and those I emailed in CO-4 could make, today's fake CBO report gave Betsy Markey the cover she wanted to commit political suicide in this traditionally conservative district. I hope voters remember the "Markey Mistake" for a long, long time.

Markey's decision to vote in favor of the bill will almost certainly become a dominant issue for Republicans as they try to oust her in November. Markey in 2008 became the first Democrat in 36 years to win the 4th Congressional District seat, and national Republicans have made ousting her a top priority this year.

Two recent polls released by business groups opposed to the Democrats' health care bill showed a majority of district residents were against the bill.

Markey said her decision to support the bill was about policy, not politics.
"I'm not a career politician and I've said this before, this is not a stepping stone for another career. I'm not here as a place to retire," she said.

Ironically, I think she just did exactly that.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:15 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

She shoulda held out for the plane ride.

I've seen many TV commercials lately asking me to "call Betsy Markey and tell her to keep up the fight."

I think we lost, boys. I got overconfident less than one month ago. But today it feels very much over. Most have given up on stopping it and are choosing to revel in November's gains. Small damn comfort.

Posted by: jk at March 18, 2010 6:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I've been overconfident before. I don't know if my pessimism now is a reaction to that or just to the Markey disappointment. You do realize that if they pass Healthcare with this unsavory process there's no reason for them not to pass every other leftist wet-dream on their wish list too. Perhaps the spectre of that will be enough to stiffen the resolve of the less progressive Dems.

Laura Ingraham told Bill O'Reilly today that Bart Stupak told her for every vote Pelosi switches to a yes, his guys are switching a no. Sounds like Stupak might really be all in after all.

Might there be, dare I say it - Hope?

Posted by: johngalt at March 19, 2010 1:02 AM
But jk thinks:

My pessimism has the same source. Kucinich covers the left, Markey covers the middle, game over. I see that it is still a fight, but the bogus CBO score and the Speaker's calling for a vote portend bad things.

Posted by: jk at March 19, 2010 10:37 AM

More Patients - Fewer Doctors

First, I don't believe that Obamacare would lead to 31 million more patients. I believe they're all receiving care when they need it already but I went with it for a snappy title. Investor's Business Daily surveyed some 25,000 doctors last summer (about 1400 of whom responded) and reported that 45% said they'd close their practice or retire early if Obamacare passed. And they opposed the measure two to one. The left-stream media slammed this as "ludicrous."

Yesterday IBD reported a similar survey by a physician's job placement firm, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, with similar findings:

This poll, conducted by the Medicus Firm, a physician search and consulting outfit, found that 29.2% of the nearly 1,200 doctors it queried said they would quit or retire early if a health overhaul were passed into law. That number jumped to 45.7% — nearly identical to our own — if a public option were included.

(...)

In the end, it's clear: A health care overhaul, as it's now being pushed, could lead to a precipitous drop in the number of doctors.

"Many physicians feel that they cannot continue to practice if patient loads increase while pay decreases," wrote Kevin Perpetua, managing partner of the Medicus Firm, summing up his findings.

*Ahem* - Duh. (This is John Galt speaking.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:45 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

South of the Border, Down Mexico Way.
That's where I fell in love, when the atars above came out to play.
'Cause it was fiesta, and we were so
[happy, frivolous, carefree]
South of the Border, Down Mexico Way...

Posted by: jk at March 18, 2010 5:11 PM

March 17, 2010

Destroy America or Become a National Hero?

I just called my congressperson, U.S. Representative Betsy Markey of CO-4. Her website touts a report that she is one of the most centrist and independent members of congress. The House Switchboard number was busy so I called her office directly and got right through.

I asked if the congresswoman had decided how she intends to vote on the Health Care bill. Her staffer told me that she is waiting for a cost analysis by the CBO and has not yet made a decision. I said, "I am her constituent, residing near Fort Lupton, and I would like to encourage her to vote NO. I think if she votes yes then this won't be the United States of America any more and if she votes no she will become one of a handful of national heroes."

I was asked for my name and contact information, which I gave. (Not that they couldn't have guessed I'm a registered Republican anyway.)

Her D.C. office number is: 202.225.4676

UPDATE: 3/18 4:25pm MDT

The verdict is in: GUILTY

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:49 PM | Comments (0)

Salsa Clinic Staffing

Things are looking up for our Mexican Health Care venture! Insty links to this NEJM Survey of physicians who might "Go Galt" if ObamaCare® passes. There's some up and down and the leftist slant of NEJM's readership shows through in spots ("0.8% feel income will 'improve dramatically' with a public option." -- kinda hope that's not my doctor...)

But the money quote for us is:

Health Reform and Primary Care Physicians
* 46.3% of primary care physicians (family medicine and internal medicine) feel that the passing of health reform will either force them out of medicine or make them want to leave medicine.

To which I say "Don't Go Galt, Go Kranz!" Join us in sunny Puerto Viarta at a free market hospital serving North America and the world.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Perfect - just as US citizens are being evacuated from six cities in Mexico, and a travel advisory is being issues warning of travel in three Mexican states. The US consulate in Juarez still has chalk outlines and blood on the carpets.

The timing is conspiring against you. It's not to late for Costa Rica...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 17, 2010 11:25 AM
But jk thinks:

We're going to bid Costa Rica against Mexico. Each will have to make a convincing case for security.

In defernce to your opinions, brother ka, I can assure you that Juarez is out. No, really, Keith has spoken!

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2010 11:40 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Think of bullets and death threats as part of the working environment, which is a legitimate market force (cost of doing business). It's not me - the market has spoken.

Fair competition between Costa Rica and Mexico - I do love free market solutions!

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 17, 2010 1:12 PM
But jk thinks:

I have no proof but still suspect that the violence is in the sleazy border towns (the only part of the country I frequent, curiously) and that higher-end, more modern tourist locations are fairly safe.

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2010 1:48 PM

March 16, 2010

Grame Frost, Call Your Office

We all have a favorite kind of story or blog post. I'll readily confess mine is exposing the huckster prop in a Democratic "feel their pain" pitch.

I suppose it goes back farther, but it all started for me with Grame Frost the 12-year-old poster boy for SCHIP. Way back in 2007, mean ol' President George W Bush vetoed the expansion of SCHIP (I do enjoy reminding right-wing Bush haters of this). So the Democrats chose young Grame to deliver their radio response. He pulled the heartstrings as he was recovering from a serious accident and his medical bills were affecting his parents.

Well, Dad turns out to be a hyper-partisan and a loser. He quit a good job to start his own woodworking business. The more one looked, the less sympathetic the family appeared.

I invoked their name on these pages in July of 2008. The Nunez family, in George Bush's Evil Amerikkka, could not afford meat. They were highlighted on an NPR story. But the 'R' is for radio, and once people saw the extremely obese family, sympathy rolled off a bit.

Today, FOXNews via Gateway Pundit brings us Natoma Canfield. She was President Obama's prop in Ohio -- follow the link to hear the President say "I am here for Natoma."

Natoma has cancer and is dying in the street without care after being kicked out of her home for failure to pay her medical bills and has nothing to eat or wear or...no....wait a minute, this just in: No, it appears she is in a top flight cancer center receiving care after 12 years of not working and dropping her insurance. She will get financial aid and will not lose her house:

Lyman Sornberger, executive director of patient financial services at the Cleveland Clinic, said "all indications" at the outset are that she will be considered for assistance.

"She may be eligible for state Medicaid … and/or she will be eligible for charity (care) of some form or type. … In my personal opinion, she will be eligible for something," he said, adding that Canfield should not be worried about losing her home.

"Cleveland Clinic will not put a lien on her home," he said.


Well, I'm glad that ended so well, aren't you?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

"Yeah, it's a good thing the president went there to pressure the CC to do the right thing" say Obamacare apologists.

You love to write 'em and I love to read 'em.

Posted by: johngalt at March 16, 2010 2:51 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Thanks for the link, man. I had heard about her last night, in a naturally sympathetic segment on CBS radio news. Knowing only that she appealed to Obama to force others to pay for her care, I expressed my feelings thusly to a friend: "She can f------ die, for all I care."

My sentiment has not lessened. She was paying $5000 annually for insurance? For crying out loud, she had cancer, so that was quite a reasonable rate. And her insurance, presumably, is privately bought and therefore higher than group insurance. My high-deductible policy, between what my employer and I pay, is more expensive!

Even $8000 annually, considering her cancer could have returned -- and did -- is not bad at all, considering her health history and what she could cost the insurer. Cancer can be so managable these days that her insurer could easily spend half a million dollars for the rest of her life on all the drugs and treatment to keep her alive.

There were some excellent comments. "This is just a Henrietta Hughes redeux."

Indeed. It sounds like her real problem is (1) not working a steady job, and (2) refinancing a house that should have been paid off years ago.

"Obama has reinvented the Potemkin village. It used to be that Communists would create fake prosperous villages to deceive gullible Westerners into thinking Communism was a success. Now we have Comrade creating fake suffering in order to persuade gullible liberals that free markets are a failure."

We can call them "Obama's Nikmetop victims."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 16, 2010 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

"Nikmetop" -- I like it.

At my brother-in-law's suggestion, I watched some of the "one-minute speeches" on CSPAN today. The Republicans seemed to have facts or procedural arguments, but the Democrats all had a letter from a constituent.

Ms. Canfield did everything wrong and is still receiving care in a top-notch institution. Her bills will be paid (thanks, Perry!) and she will keep her house. I love it.

I'm thinking I need to write one of those heart-tugging letters. How a middle-class family in a small town in flyover country received amazing, truly life-saving care, ran up more than a half-million in bills, and then kept their home and lifestyle thanks to insurance that was anything but "Gold-plated" or "Cadillac."

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2010 4:43 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Here's another one for you in a bit of a different vein:

Lance Lewis was paralyzed 20 years ago from falling down the stairs backwards. His employer, Core States Bank, kept up his insurance which provided him with in-home 24/7 nursing care. That care has been uninterrupted for 20 years, through no less than 5 bank mergers. With the last merger, from FU to Wells Fargo, Wells says they no nothing about the nursing and insurnace care deal that Lewis has. Lewis, of course, has nothing documenting this deal he cut with a bank five mergers ago.

Not to lessen the plight of Mr. Lewis, but in the volitile banking industry, shouldn't it be his responsibility to make sure that his insurance follows through the merger? Furthermore, I don't think that any of the Banks, from Core Staes on through Wells, has a legal obligation to conitue Lewis' insurance and it was damned genreous that they did for so long.

Besides being a poor case to illustrate the need for Obamacare (which was, make no mistake, the intent of the article) it highlights the need for separating health insurance from the emplooyer--a conservative idea, if I'm not mistaken, and one that makes no appearance in the 2,700 page abomination that our president is currently campaigning for.

Posted by: Lisa M at March 16, 2010 7:22 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

Wow--I apologize for the horrid typos. I guess I shouldn't post while I'm in class.

Posted by: Lisa M at March 16, 2010 7:31 PM
But jk thinks:

U typ bettr n me. I did convert the long url to a link. You can always email me anything you'd like changed -- or just give up and accept an author's login around here already.

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2010 7:39 PM

March 15, 2010

In Markets We Trust II

Last Friday, Jack Calfee asked if health insurance profits are so healthy, why weren't large firms like Walmart, Microsoft and the like diving in. I mean, who would miss a chance to bilk an unsuspecting public out of -- wait for it -- $66?

Mark Perry at The American links to the Calfee piece and adds the $66 figure to the discussion:

Using the industry profit margin of 2.2 percent last year, it means that insurance companies make only about $66 on average per policy in profits for individual coverage, and less than $140 in profits for each family policy.

Wow! Two-point-two percent profit! Man, why doesn't every business give up the stupid things they do and hop into this lucrative pool?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

A related statistic I heard is that the total profits of health insurance companies would pay the health care costs of Americans for 4 days out of each year.

- I think I heard this on Mike McConnell's radio show last Sunday night. (It's a mediocre show that KOA switched to as a cost-cutting measure, IMHO.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 16, 2010 11:12 AM
But jk thinks:

That's what you get when you put heartless capitalist corporations in charge of programming. Jeez, NPR has great stuff on the weekends...

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2010 11:28 AM

Quote of the Day

Dear choir, today's sermon:

America has the finest health care delivery system in the world. Let's not forget that and put it at risk in the name of reform. Desperate souls across the globe flock to our shores and cross our borders every day to seek our care. Why? Our system provides cures while the government-run systems from which they flee do not. Compare Europe's common cancer mortality rates to America's: breast cancer - 52 percent higher in Germany and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom; prostate cancer - a staggering 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway; colon cancer - 40 percent higher in the United Kingdom.

Look closer at the United Kingdom. Britain's higher cancer mortality rate results in 25,000 more cancer deaths per year compared to a similar population size in the United States. But because the U.S. population is roughly five times larger than the United Kingdom's, that would translate into 125,000 unnecessary American cancer deaths every year. This is more than all the mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, cousins and children in Topeka, Kan. And keep in mind, these numbers are for cancer alone. America also has better survival rates for other major killers, such as heart attacks and strokes. Whatever we do, let us not surrender the great gains we have made. First, do no harm. Lives are at stake. -- Dr. Milton R. Wolf, Barack Obama's second cousin once removed.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Analysis above is, of course, predicated on the notion that extending longevity and quality of life are the intended goal of the health care system.

Posted by: johngalt at March 15, 2010 3:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Ow! You're sadly correct. Silly cousin that went into medicine instead of politics probably assumed that.

Posted by: jk at March 15, 2010 3:51 PM

Give Thanks for What Divides Us

I have been meaning to ask whether any reproductive-rights ThreeSourcers had found new respect for pro-life legislators since they became the best chance to kill ObamaCare® and keep the last vestige of freedom in these United States.

But then I saw this, and I am laughing too hard to type:

That's especially true given yesterday's report indicating that at least seven of Stupak's faction have confirmed they will not vote for a reform bill without a change in the abortion language.

Another single-issue conflict with a different House faction also reared its head: The Hispanic Caucus is now publicly threatening to torpedo reform because of the Senate bill's ultra-restrictive language prohibiting illegal immigrants from buying health insurance through the state-run insurances exchanges that would be set up. At least one high-profile former yes vote, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, has said that he'll switch his vote to no if the immigrant restrictions aren't changed. (For more detail on this conflict, see the Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia.)


Strange bedfellows indeed.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2010

Napolitano on Obamacare

I hadn't seen this before. It's from last October and even if you've seen it, watch it again. Among other things the judge explains how federal government lawyers act to prevent unconstitutional laws from being judged so in court.

Hat tip: Home page of the Bill Cunningham Show

UPDATE (3/15): For those who didn't listen, and just because I want to see it in print, here is one of those other things the judge said: [closing minute]

"These gatherings are more important than anything you can imagine. Because in the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its maximum hour of danger. You are that generation! This is your role! Now is that time! Freedom must be defended from every assailant in every corner of this country, from outside the country, from inside the country, and especially from the government that wants to take it away from us. [applause] God bless you."
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 8, 2010

An End to Rationing!

President Obama decries insurance companies that "freely ration health care based on ... who can pay and who can't."

John Stossel highlights Don Boudreaux's reply:

Not only insurers, but all producers who greedily refuse to supply persons who don't pay should be set aright. Now I'm sure that YOU don't ration the supply of the books you write according to any criteria as sordid as requiring people actually to pay for them. But our society is full of people less enlightened than you.

For example, the typical worker rations his labor services according to who pays and who doesn't. That must stop. Oh, and supermarkets! Every single one rations groceries according to who pays. Likewise with restaurants, clothing stores, home-builders, furniture makers, even lawyers! You name it, rationing is done according to who pays. Indeed, my own county government has been corrupted by this greedy attitude: if I don't pay my taxes, the sheriff takes my house ... Preposterous!

I look forward to your changing this selfish and unfair system of rationing that for too long now has kept Americans impoverished.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This is classic. However, it is also worth noting that Obama wants to ration healthcare based on those who can't pay.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 9, 2010 4:40 PM

Quote of the Day

Liberals don't think the middle-class insurance subsidies are large enough. Big Labor hates the "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health coverage because extremely generous benefits typically come out of collective bargaining. The pro-life Democrats led by Michigan's Bart Stupak can't abide federal funding for abortion. Everyone detests the enveloping corruption, such as the Nebraska Medicaid bribe for Ben Nelson, which has become so politically toxic that the opponents now include Ben Nelson. -- WSJ Ed Page
Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2010

Umm, Not Exactly

C. L. Gray is not an investment banker, but he is "an internist based in Hickory, N.C." and "president of Physicians for Reform" whatever that means, and he's written an editorial for Investors.com that purports to explain "Why Obama Can't Give Up On Reform."

Gray's thesis is this: "It may be that the president believes the inalienable rights of "We the People" come from government, not from God. Driven by this worldview, the attempt to place health care under government control will continually re-emerge."

This is likely correct, but it better explains why Obama won't give upon reform, not why he can't. The latter reason, it seems to me, is that he expects large numbers of Democrats to be flushed down the electoral toilet at every opportunity given voters to pull the chain. They may as well have something consequential to show for it when their 60-vote majority is a distant and infamous memory.

But looking deeper into Gray's analysis I couldn't ignore the following passage.

Sen. Harkin's statement reflects the worldview behind the French Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789, not the American Declaration of Independence of 1776.

The last sentence of the opening paragraph of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man reads: "Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen."

By appealing to an unknowable, deistic Supreme Being, the rights of man rested on the generosity of the State. A change in political power opens the door to a change in the rights of man. Man cannot confer inalienable rights.

In stark contrast, the American Declaration of Independence appealed to a knowable, personal God — the Creator of life itself. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

According to the Declaration of Independence, inalienable rights do not arise from men, but from God.

Maybe it takes a non-theist to notice this but what exactly is the difference between "the Supreme Being" and "God?" According to Gray's analysis, the entire defense of an individual's right to his own life rests on this difference. If it arises from the "knowable" and "personal" God the question becomes, knowable and personal to whom? This is no more concrete and objective than the French Rights of Man he rightly criticizes, for it rests on the opinion of the democratic majority and gives no defense to heterodox individuals.

But where in the Declaration of Independence does the word "God" appear? The word I see is "Creator." The beauty of that word is that it makes no difference whatsoever who or what an individual's creator is because the fact of his existence is de facto proof that he has one. In essence, "I am, therefore I have rights." Magister dixit.


Posted by JohnGalt at 9:23 PM | Comments (10)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"howcum the anti-theist French and Russian revolutions made such a hash of things, when the relatively devout American succeeded?"

Francis Schaeffer probed that very question in his book "How Should We Then Live?" and makes a strong case for the difference being explained by the dominant views in each case of the nature and value of man. Oddly enough, I don't have a copy of it with me at the moment.

I bow to no man in my respect for Locke - whose work I trust is highly valued among ThreeSourcers - but consider how heavily Locke draws on the foundational work of Samuel Rutherford. While it oversimplifies to say that Locke secularizes the principles Rutherford found in theologic terms, that's a workable thumbnail sketch.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 4, 2010 1:19 PM
But jk thinks:

No more posts like this, jg, clearly nobody around here is very interested or has deep feelings bout this. Nice try, though.

Interesting book, ka, and available on Kindle for $9.99. Reading the reviews, I am clearly not their target demographic, but is good, no? A good friend of this blog turned me onto Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democracy which I adored." Recommend I hit [OK] ?

Posted by: jk at March 4, 2010 3:49 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

jk: I'm a firm believer in test-drives. I'll bring it tomorrow, violate a few copyright laws by scanning a sample (gaaaah! Anarchist!), and you can decide for yourself. Truth in advertising: I will confess to having read it while at Berkeley (see adjacent post, and I read it for pleasure, not as an assigned text), thirty-some-odd years ago.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 4, 2010 4:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Might lead to some interesting discusion -- but as far as protecting my $9.99, don't worry. Its being a Kindle book, one can order a free sample and usually get TOC and the first chapter or so. The sample is on the way.

Posted by: jk at March 4, 2010 5:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"howcum the anti-theist French and Russian revolutions made such a hash of things, when the relatively devout American succeeded?"

The outcomes were different because the cultures were different. It wasn't really that one group believed in God while the other two didn't, but that one believed in unalienable rights from God while the other two were based on rights from the state.

The American "revolutionaries" were colonials who, by the time of the revolution, had become accustomed to 150 years of being left alone. This was enough time for notions like the divine right of kings to dissipate while people earnestly believed new ideas, revolutionary ideas, such as "A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."

The French and Russians had no such desire to be left alone as individuals, no tradition of liberty. It's a romantic notion that the poor masses forced the rulers to abdicate, but it's not the entire story. The masses were rightfully angry at their respective aristocracies for centuries of abuses and oppression, but the anger of the former was focused by self-serving tyrants who seized the opportunity for power.

The French masses were pleased with the idea of a strong government to give them the "rights" that they needed to recognize they already had. The Russians weren't quite sure, and the Bolsheviks happened to have enough force to turn the second revolution into a lasting government.

I haven't read Schaeffer's book and probably won't, but this is my answer.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 4, 2010 10:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

In answer to jk's question, pe is right. It's a case of correlation and not causation. First, the statist revolutions in France and Russia were not merely "anti-theist" they were anti-individual in every respect. Second, the American government isn't at all "devout" but her citizens are free to be so, or not. The key distinction between the revolutions you set out to compare and contrast is not theism but statism - the first two started out with statism while we've only just come 'round to it in the postmodern era.

Incidentally, this is why I distrust and oppose statists (secular or devout) far more than the theists per se.

Posted by: johngalt at March 8, 2010 3:11 PM

March 2, 2010

Otequay of the Ayday

The author of 'A Simple Solution to Many of Our Problems' dropped by to defend the reputation of his intellect in our comments section. CA invited us to peruse his essay on Health Care Mythology, which I did, and found this comment on the pre-tax treatment of employer provided health insurance:

I certainly agree that this structure raises costs, but if you have a simple problem like this, you fix it, you do not say "hey, let's try communism."

Did anyone watch Obama's Health Care Summit? Did any of the geniuses there point this out? Didn't think so. Not in so many words, anyway.

CA's 'Health Care Mythology' is well structured for emailing to our "innumerate" (good word CA) relatives but I couldn't find a direct link to the individual essay. Maybe someone can help me here. In closing, I enjoyed the hockey references and erudite humor but alas, found it sadly lacking in Heinlein quotes. [Be patient -it's in there.]

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:04 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Centennial State ThreeSourcers now have to login before 1AM (MST) to get a shot at QOTD. Wow.

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2010 12:30 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Pretty soon it's going to be Quote of Tomorrow!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 2, 2010 12:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I suppose I should have titled it 'Otequay of Esterdayay.'

Posted by: johngalt at March 2, 2010 2:37 PM

March 1, 2010

Mexican Mayo

"I think they call it 'Salsa, jk...'"

Nope, I am thinking of a Mexican Mayo Clinic (or perhaps Costa Rica) that will be an Atlas Shrugged facility for health care. We'll take money and we'll sell real Clifford Asness insurance. We'll hire providers who did not go to Med school to be GS-7 Government employees, or who don't want to join AFSCME.

Whatever happens up here it's gonna be bad. The full brunt of ObamaCare may or may not be avoided but look at Massachusetts:

Last month, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick landed a neutron bomb, proposing hard price controls across almost all Massachusetts health care. State regulators already have the power to cap insurance premiums, which Mr. Patrick is activating. He also filed a bill that would give state regulators the power to review the rates of hospitals, physician groups and some specialty providers. Those that are deemed too high "shall be presumptively disapproved."

Mr. Patrick ad-libbed that he had "a whole bunch of pals here who are in the health-care field, and I saw the color drain out of their faces." Little wonder. The administered prices of Medicare and Medicaid already shift costs to private patients while below-cost reimbursement creates balance-sheet havoc among providers. Now the governor wants to import these distortions to save the state's heavily subsidized insurance program as costs explode.


The feds will enact some pieces, more states will do more. And pretty soon -- if not now -- you'll be able to staff a whole hospital in a sunny modern hotspot with disaffected staff. I am guessing, like Atlas, that you will attract the best in every category.

Affluent Canadians go south to avoid the privations of socialism. I wondered where Americans would go. Why not South? I believe there is already quite a bit of medical tourism in Costa Rica for specialty items like dental reconstruction and joint replacements. Why not a whole hospital?

Vamanos muchachos?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Sounds like the beginnings of an excellent business plan. You didn't mention drug testing, however. What's your prescription there, pardon the pun?

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2010 3:01 PM
But jk thinks:

We'd be subject to the stringent drug regulations of our host country.

I think India and Costa Rica do a lot of trials, that could be a good revenue source.

Posted by: jk at March 1, 2010 3:42 PM

February 27, 2010

The Summit in Four Minutes

ThreeSources and Heritage.org have just saved you SEVEN HOURS! Now you can catch up on all that Curling footage you Tivoed...

Senator Grassley has an awesome sound bite in there that opponents should pick up on. "Unconstitutional" doesn't mean anything to anybody who doesn’t read ThreeSources. His explanation of the unprecedented nature of government forcing you to buy something is very strong.

Lookit me, cheering on Sen. Grassley, I guess I am a pragmatist!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2010

"A simple solution to many of our problems"

... is how Clifford Asness summarizes his ideas for health insurance reform.

Ignoring pre-existing conditions might sound compassionate, but it is equivalent to declaring that a fire-insurance company must charge the same amount for a modern house with smoke detectors and interior fireproofing as for a century-old, wooden-frame former stable, complete with some hay left over, and a basement full of painting supplies.

(...)

The desire to help those with pre-existing conditions is laudable. The way to do this is to help. If someone needs more medical care than he or she can pay for, direct state subsidy is far more efficient than making insurance companies pretend that the patient isn’t ill or at high risk of becoming ill. We can separately debate the degree of generosity of this subsidy, but it is efficient and honest. Making insurance companies play “don’t ask, don’t tell” with health status is neither.

Wait a doggone minnit - this Asness character is an investment banker! Never mind. Say, how much was HIS bonus last year?!

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:57 PM | Comments (10)
But johngalt thinks:

Very pleased to read your comment CA, and I'll check out your website soon. I take the blame for "labeling" you an investment banker. I made the leap from "capital management" to "investment" to "investment banker." I mostly used it as an opportunity for sarcastic TARP humor.

I'll not speak for brother Perry (and I'm sure he'll speak for himself) but as I said above, "Good play!" (Since you wouldn't know, that was a reference to one of our contributors' excellent football analogy for the American experiment in self-government.

And, if you have a moment, are you interested in commenting on our discussion of the Mount Vernon Statement?

Cheers, [not the] johngalt

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2010 3:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
We have to move minds on who pays and how it is taxed. If the let's-not-have-socialism side of the discussion is wrapped in a pretty red ribbon of "let the bastards who didn't prepare die in the street in agony" then I think we're going to get ObamaCare.
No, JK, we do not have to compromise here. You're just allowing the temperature to turn up a little bit more each time. The line must be drawn somewhere and kept there, not moved every time a political fight brews.

Liberty can finally win when you stop compromising and point out the collectivists' lies. Just because I oppose socialized medicine does not mean I advocate people dying in the street, and anyone who claims that about me is a damned liar.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 3, 2010 11:31 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

No, JG, it's not a first down. It's making an onside kick on the first down and bumbling it badly.

Read his tripe again: he talks a good line about people overusing insurance and not realizing costs, but he's advocating further collectivism as the cure.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 3, 2010 11:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
I think I am a capitalist.
Asness, I don't know how old you are, but here's a free wake-up call: you're no capitalist. You may work with capital, you may base your business on turning capital into ever-increasing amounts of capital, but you're not a capitalist.

A real capitalist operates his business and lives his life by the principle that your transactions are always voluntary for both sides. A real capitalist does not advocate the taking of someone's money (even through "taxation") and redistributing it to others. You talked a good line at the start, but in the end you're talking about taking my property so that other people can be "subsidized" in their health care costs.

Even if we ignore the immorality there, where's your practicality? How will people realize health care costs when someone else is helping pay for them? And where do you draw the line? You know, or should know, that politicians will dole out Other People's Money to people who don't necessarily need it. Recall that maximum income for SCHIP benefits is 300% of the poverty line. Because you do not realize the state monstrosity you are advocating, "moron" is a very applicable term to you.

If you want to help, then establish your charity to help poor families with health care costs and encourage others to donate. Or strike a deal with a doctor that if you give him $X, he'll give a certain number of hours each week for free treatment of poor families.

"I am an objectivist (on the board of TAS and decent size donor also to ARI if that counts for anything). I would vote for no subsidy. I do believe any redistribution that's not voluntary is theft. But I'm trying not to fight every battle in every place.
TAS being what? I know the ARI, in fact someone of some status there, and I can also say this: you are not an Objectivist. If you don't accept all of Rand's principles, including liberty without compromise because it's based on principles, then you have no right to call yourself an Objectivist.

"There is nothing wrong in using ideas, anybody's ideas. Provided that you give appropriate credit, you can make any mixture of ideas that you want; the contradiction will be yours. But why do you need the name of someone (or their philosophy) with whom you do not agree in order to spread your misunderstandings - or worse, your nonsense and falsehoods?"

You evidently have no principles. You're willing to sell them out because it's easier to do something this way.

What I suggest in this article would be a far better system with the growth of the state far smaller and clearer than what's being suggested by Dems or Republicans.
Read my first comment again, the last paragraph where I talk about "efficiency" not making something necessarily moral or just. You're talking about making criminal acts more efficient. You claim that you believe involuntary redistribution is theft, but why do you want to make that more efficient? You should want to stop it dead in its tracks.

Zyclone B was pretty damn efficient too, do you disagree?

We can argue how much of a subsidy (including our preferred zero) later. But first we need to get people to understand some of the basics (which my article tries to do).
Actually, we can argue "how much of a subsidy" now: zero.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 3, 2010 11:55 PM
But jk thinks:

No, Perry, I am not allowing them to turn up the heat a little -- It's about 170F in my pot and I am trying to get them to turn it down.

Equalization of the tax treatment for health plans, interstate purchase of insurance and expanded health savings accounts would have a huge effect on health care. Yet none of those explicitly changes the balance of subsidy or the distribution of payment between producers and leeches.

My point (and I'm guessing Asness's) is that we can concentrate of correcting those structural imbalances without at the same time perusing the reduction of subsidies that we'd all prefer.

Lastly, to be clear, I was not summarizing your position pejoratively, I was seeking to remove that arrow from the quiver of the collectivists.

Posted by: jk at March 4, 2010 11:33 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

How do you think you'll "get them to turn it down" when your compromises are only turning the temperature up? That's exactly what you're doing, you know. Every time you'll accept something "because the alternative is full-blown socialized medicine is another expansion. Smaller, yes, but it's still a few degrees hotter.

"Equalization of the tax treatment for health plans,"

But by that you've clearly stated that everyone should pay taxes on insurance -- why not the other way around? Should all rape victims be penetrated as the one most violated?

"interstate purchase of insurance and expanded health savings accounts would have a huge effect on health care."

These are a good start, I don't deny that, but they are not enough. The government needs to get the hell out -- completely.

"Yet none of those explicitly changes the balance of subsidy or the distribution of payment between producers and leeches."

And that is precisely why each compromise, even though it may appear to be on the side of individual liberty, will not work.

"My point (and I'm guessing Asness's) is that we can concentrate of correcting those structural imbalances without at the same time perusing the reduction of subsidies that we'd all prefer."

There was a great classic Trek episode about two warring planets. They set up a pretty efficient system of electronic warfare so that neither planet would experience infrastructural destruction. People just had to be good citizens and report for obliteration after the computers calculated their "deaths" from successful simulated attacks. Clearly this was more efficient than real war, but it still didn't make it better. People will get used so used to the "efficiency" that they'll forget and consequently stop demanding their God-given rights to something better.

Kirk's solution was to destroy the computers. Without the electronic "compromise," both sides realized that it was either peace or death. There was no in-between choice that would allow them to get accustomed to what they should abhor and therefore fight against.

"Lastly, to be clear, I was not summarizing your position pejoratively, I was seeking to remove that arrow from the quiver of the collectivists."

I know, and we both know you know me well enough that I know you wouldn't misrepresent me. But collectivists do deliberately misrepresent, using a hundred different strawmen, and we must start calling them out on it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 4, 2010 11:19 PM

February 24, 2010

Quote of the Day

Well, if Hitler, Hennessey and Hoyer are right, then in a couple of months the partisans on the left are going to be ramping it up from angry to screaming mad, after they are teased, led on, and frustrated all over again. -- Jim Glass at Scrivener.net
Posted by John Kranz at 7:29 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Rivaling Extreme Mortman's famous Send Hoyers, Guns and Money,

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2010 10:59 AM

The Master

Michael Barone: Obama's nanny care insults the American spirit

You are victims. You are helpless against the wiles of big corporations and insurance companies and you need protection. You need the government to take over and do things you cannot do for yourself.

That is the thinking of what David Brooks calls "the educated class" that favors the Democrats' health care bills. Members of this elite spout tales of woe of people denied coverage or care with the implication that there but for the grace of government go you. So sign on and the government will take care of everything.


We try to distill arguments down to their original essence around here. Michael Barone is good at this (as well as many other things). His "Hard Amerce, Soft America" is just such a distillation.

I'm glad to see him call out David Brooks in the second 'graph here. Many are looking for politicians to exhibit purer principle, I'd like to see some of the elitist establishment conservative pundits like George Will, David Brooks and Peggy Noonan take down a peg or 16.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2010

Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead

She's not only merely dead, she's really most sincerely dead!

With apologies to EY Harburg, who would have championed government health care, the lyrics seem apt: Rep Steny Hoyer is breaking the news.

AP: WASHINGTON – Democratic congressional leaders confronted the reality Tuesday that they may not be able to pass the comprehensive health care overhaul sought by President Barack Obama. Republican leaders prepared to do everything in their power to make sure they can't.

Democrats saw the sweeping health bill that Obama unveiled ahead of a bipartisan health care summit Thursday as their last, best chance at a top-to-bottom remake of the nation's health care system that would usher in near-universal health coverage. But some were clear-eyed about the difficulties after a year of corrosive debate and the loss of their filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:13 PM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Damn, I thought you meant perhaps breaking news about a California senator...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 23, 2010 9:36 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Don't get my hopes up, Perry - plus, you'd have to specify which one. And don't forget a California Speaker of the House.

Perhaps a list would be in order.

That being said, there's an order of magnitude between "may not be able to pass" and "the wooden stake has been driven through its heart and we've burned the dismembered remnants with fire." I've learned never to start carving names into tombstones 'till the body's in the ground...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 24, 2010 11:02 AM
But jk thinks:

I'd rather beat her at the polls!

Yes, Keith, this was meant to be a bold display of blogging bravado. I have been cautions up 'till yesterday (and I still don't for a second believe AGW is going away).

But my friend Perry would tell me to examine the source. And it's Steny Freakin' Hoyer! Ding Dong indeedy!

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2010 11:52 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'm not ready to uncross my fingers yet, JK. This is an idiological battle. If Obama/Reid/Pelosi can use a procedural trick to pass the bills, they will do it. I think they would all gladly lose control of both houses in the next election in trade for passage of a program that will forever cement socialized medicine, and therefore long-term Democrat advantage, into the fabric of our nation. If a few Blue Dogs get tossed in the street, well, they had it comin'.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 24, 2010 12:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Prob'ly right. I'm just walkin' on sunshine today.

John Fund calls it 15%:

The best health-care analysts I know say Democrats have perhaps a 15% chance of threading the needle and getting a comprehensive bill signed into law. But even that success could be costly politically if voters came to believe Democrats had ignored the public's feelings and rammed through a bill anyway. The most recent surveys show that 61% of the American people want Democrats to put aside the existing bills and start over.

Yes the Speaker is all in, but some of her caucus like their jobs.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2010 1:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

That's true, JK, there's a third I missed. Wouldn't matter much to me who -- merely hearing bad news about one would make my day.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 25, 2010 9:32 AM

Quote of the Day

"The President's Proposal," as the 11-page White House document is headlined, is in one sense a notable achievement: It manages to take the worst of both the House and Senate bills and combine them into something more destructive. It includes more taxes, more subsidies and even less cost control than the Senate bill. And it purports to fix the special-interest favors in the Senate bill not by eliminating them—but by expanding them to everyone. -- WSJ Ed Page
UPDATE: Professor Mankiw is not really on board either:
Very, very strange. You would think that all those future Nobel-prize-winning economists working for the President would explain to him the history and economics of government price controls. Imposing price controls certainly wasn't President Nixon's finest hour.

Maybe President Obama should instead follow in President Ford's footsteps and start wearing a WHINE button on his lapel, for Whip Healthcare Inflation Now, Egads!

Feckless would be one step better than counterproductive.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2010

Seen This Before

ObamaCare 2,0: Obama Unveils His Future Vision of Better Health Insurance Through Price Controls

Health%20Care%20Shortage.jpg

Heh. Hat-tip: John Stossel (Commenter, actually.)

Posted by John Kranz at 5:52 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2010

We're All Keynesians Now...

If you didn't have enough reasons to dislike President Nixon (EPA, anybody?) -- he had a peculiar take on the laws of supply and demand.

President Nixon signed the CON law because he thought America had too many hospitals. He thought decreasing the number would lower health care costs. But that was ridiculous economics. Limiting the number of suppliers raises costs.

This is from a nice John Stossel post explaining that we don't really have a free market in health care at all. To build a hospital, you have to prove need.

We're all complete morons now, more like it...

Posted by John Kranz at 7:47 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2010

Crisis Me This.

John Stossel points out that, while Reuters grimly intones "Heart disease 'will kill 400,000 Americans in 2010'" they don't mention:
.
heart-disease.jpg

Or:

cancer1.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2010

Speaking of Health Care...

Don't make the mistake of believing the Health Care Bill is dead. They're still trying to give us the same problems that Canadians have. But in Canada they're way ahead of us. They're already figuring out innovative ways around the socialized medicine scheme, with its 4 month waits for an MRI and 8 month waits to remove a brain tumor as shown in this YouTube video. KOA Radio's Jon Caldera, he of the Colorado Constitutional Reform Initiative, interviewed [audio link] Canadian Rick Baker of Canada's Timely Medical Alternatives and they discussed a specific case with the wait times I mentioned earlier. The conclusion they reached was that, while Canada has Universal Health Care Coverage the U.S. has Universal Health Care Treatment. This is because in Canada it is against the law to pay for private medical treatment - so many of them come here to spend their money. And it's damned affordable to boot. Baker quoted the customary price for a heart bypass procedure in the U.S. when billed to an insurer at $80,000 to $120,000. His cash client paid $16,000. Mister President! Mister President!

Here are the latest fees and wait times published on Timely's home page-

TMA07_General.gif

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the great segue. We have been trying to acquire an amazing new therapeutic device for my darling bride.

It has been eight weeks of forms and tough slogging: dispiriting as the treatment has shown such promise. The other day, it was formally denied by Insurance (enjoy it while you can, boys...)

I'm kidding, of course, but not kidding that as soon as I gave them a credit card number, this lethargic process sped up pretty quickly: "Can we FedEx it to Erie for Saturday delivery Mister Kranz?"

Too little attention is given to the empowerment that patients would feel if they were truly customers -- and how much less when the are, like UK and Canadian subjects, just tasks.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2010 3:49 PM

Try Googling It, Mr. President

John Stossel's suggestion. I would never speak to the President in such tones.

Stossel links to Peter Suderman's Reason piece with the less imperative headline:
"Here, Obama, Let Me Google Some Health-Care Reform Alternatives For You"

Suderman provides links to a few good alternative suggestions on health care reform. For a President who said "If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know."

Posted by John Kranz at 1:05 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, like you can really believe anything you read on the internet.

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2010 2:43 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

The devil will tell you a thousand truths to slip in one lie. Obama is so brazen that he'll say two nice things to imply that the next three are also good:

"bring down premiums"

How many times have we mentioned that the feds should stop infringing on the freedom of people to buy policies from across state lines?

"bring down the deficit"

Seriously, it's an easy thing to do after quadrupling it. You could keep it at 390% of previous levels and still claim you reduced it.

"cover the uninsured"

Why? When I was single, I was uninsured and wanted it that way. Like lots of younger people, it wasn't worth spending money on insurance I wouldn't use. I paid for doctor bills and prescriptions out of pocket.

"strengthen Medicare for seniors"

Why should I want to strengthen a program that is designed to make me pay for others?

"and stop insurance company abuses"

If you don't like what your insurance company is giving you, then stop f------ doing business with it. This is a lion chasing down a gazelle, but only with permission.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 31, 2010 9:39 PM

January 21, 2010

218 - N for Nonzero, Positive Values of N

Pelosi: House lacks votes to OK Senate health bill

WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she lacks the votes to quickly move the Senate's sweeping health overhaul bill through the House, a potentially devastating blow to President Barack Obama's signature issue.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

You're Next, Senator Bennet!

Senator Bennet:

I donated a small amount of money to Scott Brown's candidacy in Massachusetts and was extremely happy to see him win.

I respectfully suggest that you represent your constituency and vote against health care when it returns to the Senate from conference.

And I would also ask that you join Senator Webb in insisting that no significant vote takes place before Senator-elect Brown is seated.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2010

From the Rally

I busted into jg's post to add a link to Colorado rally videos. But this one needs an embed, Neurosurgeon Sanat Dixit:

Posted by John Kranz at 5:44 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2010

Constitutional Ban on Obamacare

On deck for Colorado: "A ballot initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution to exempt Colorado from Obama Care."

Thank you Independence Institute!

UPDATE (from jk): Interviews/videos from the rally!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:03 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I presume to speak for the bunch of us when I say, well, silly us for pointing out that trite part about "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution..." The name "United States" means, of course, the national government and not the nation.

GWB said it correctly, albeit for the wrong reason. The Constitution IS just a goddamn piece of paper, because it can be ignored. That's part of why I don't believe in it anymore.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 19, 2010 7:57 PM
But jk thinks:

When it is disregarded, it is hard to believe, Perry. And yet, for the first half of our country's existence, it protected liberties quite well -- at least liberties of those who it was written to protect. Even into the Early 20th, it guided Taft, Harding and Coolidge.

It put some brakes on FDR and provided a legal foundation to Loving v Virginia, Beck v Communication Workers, and most recently CD v Heller.

All of which encourages me to say that when we follow it, it is a very good system of governance. I don't know how we'd ever get that train back on the track (toothpaste and tube being a better comparison). But if I started a new nation today, I would happily take the US Constitution as a legal foundation. I have seen none better.

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2010 11:26 AM

January 17, 2010

Most Motivated Votahs. Evah.

Insty links to Boston Conservative Talk Show Host (and you thought you had a rough job!) Michael Graham's blog post "Brown Supporters: The Most Motivated Voters Ever?" I corrected the spelling in my title to provide regional flair.

I ran campaigns for six years, and I’ve been watching campaigns for years more, and I’ve never seen the “We’ve got to win this race” attitude from regular voters like I’m seeing for Scott Brown.

In a typical campaign, the hardest part is getting people to actually do things—show up at events, make phone calls, etc. They all talk a good game, but what you usually end up with is a hard core group of activists begging folks just to put a sign in their yards. That’s why money is so important—so campaigns can pay people to do the work. Even Obama had to use money to get his “community activist” campaign off the ground in early 2008.

Scott Brown is having the opposite problem. People are begging for stuff to do, and the campaign can’t keep up with the demand. On Saturday, driving between Ashland and Littleton, I saw more people displaying home made signs than printed ones.


I'm daring to believe. A squeaker, we must remember, is a strong signal to legislators with purpler constituencies. A win would be the biggest stand for freedom since they tore town the Berlin Wall.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2010

So, How's That Reconciliation Thingy Working Out?

Jimmy P suggests, not so well, lining to Igor Volsky:

- Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY): “Normally you’re just dealing with the Senate and they talk about 60 votes and you listen to them and cave in, but this is entirely different,” he said. “I’m telling you that never has 218 been so important to me in the House.”

- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): “We keep hearing them squeal like pigs in the Senate that they had a tough time getting to 60,” Weiner said. “Well, it wasn’t particularly a picnic for us to get to 218. Generally speaking, the Senate kabuki dance has lost its magic on those of us in the House.”

- Rep. Pete Defazio (D-OR): “They only got two votes to spare in the House. I think this will be a tougher negotiation than they think.”

Posted by John Kranz at 2:34 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

Well, I'll be. Satan's house* really is divided against itself and cannot stand. Warms the very cockles of my heart.

* With apologies to Matthew 12; I'm being liberal in applying this to both the House and the Senate.

Posted by: Keith at January 13, 2010 3:06 PM

January 7, 2010

Lost the Post, Lost CNN

The normally solidly Democratic Denver Post Ed Page:

Despite repeated promises of transparency by Obama and Democratic leaders, the House and Senate will forgo the usual approach of combining bills through a conference committee, which would allow for floor debate and television coverage, and instead craft a compromise behind closed doors.

Democrats say Republicans, who have rejected the plan, could otherwise filibuster the process, delaying negotiations and the legislation.

But Democratic leaders even rejected a request from C-SPAN to allow cameras to capture the important negotiations. That's an outrage


Et tu CNN?


Posted by John Kranz at 4:40 PM | Comments (4)
But Jim Glass thinks:

Jon Stewart is even better than Jack. 'nuff said!

Posted by: Jim Glass at January 8, 2010 6:20 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Jeez, Jim could you issue fainter praise?

The question is: if Obama's lost "Jack", has he lost the middle of the country? Even if he has, I'm afraid our Senators have all designed Daschle-parachutes for themselves, such that the money & the hours will be better once they're freed from elected office to become true, trough-feeders! As such, all this is for naught, and we're gonna get Ried's healthcare rammed down our throats, to the delight of the lawyers & lobbyists.

I really hope this genie can be mostly put back in it's bottle....

Posted by: nanobrewer at January 9, 2010 12:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Rammed down our throats" is right, but it's better than the alternative - shoved up our Barney Frank.

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2010 3:33 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

As maybe the only Obama voter around here I will say it, maybe not completely lost, but getting close. I am cynical enough to have not taken all his specific campaign pledges too seriously, but his track record is getting ridiculous, he can't even end the don't ask don't tell policy? The health care posturing (I refuse to call it a debate) pits Pelosi and Reid and cohorts who are more interested in appearing to be doing something grand than actually doing something useful against flamethrowers talking about killing granny. Really, how many of those pull the plug shouters actually have a DNR clause in their will? I do, and so do millions of Americans, many of us have already made our decisions about what we wish to define our end of life. Holding up support until regulations are put in place to prohibit use of federal health care funds for abortion? Really, in the huge issue that is health care and all its possible negative ramifications that is the best you could come up with?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 10, 2010 11:28 AM

January 6, 2010

Watch It Again

Yup, everybody's posting this, and yup, I did not bother to watch because I have seen it before. But Allahpundit says " Lies this shameless, especially from the lips of our modern-day Lincoln-Jesus, must be cherished." And he has got a point.

Bonus, web-only feature. Follow the Hot Air link to see Robert Gibbs actually face some tough questions on this.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:55 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It's a classic like "Gone with the Wind" or "Wizard of Oz." Who can get tired of watching it? Someday, it may get released in IMAX or 3D.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 6, 2010 7:18 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Empty promise of the first order, but who really thinks televising the grandstanding and posturing over small clauses in a 2000 page piece of junk legislation is really going to improve it? There has been 9 months in which to bring out real debate and we get "kill granny". Pardon me if I don't think 5 minutes of C-Span coverage allowed by Democrat controlled conference rules will be used to voice real issues versus party platitudes.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 10, 2010 11:50 AM

January 2, 2010

We're All Huskers Now!

"Call off the Dogs!" says the deeply deliberative Senator Ben Nelson. Who stood up to his own party in a matter of deep conscience until the Senate Bill made provisions about Federal funding of abortions gave his State $100 Million. You know the guy I'm talking about -- another Damn Webster if I ever saw one!

The "dogs" in this instance being 13 state attorneys general who were suing against the "Cornhusker Kickback." Senator Webst -- I mean Nelson, said that it would be fixed.

How would the kickback be fixed? The memo explains: "Senator Nelson said it would be 'fixed' by extending the Cornhusker Kickback (100% federal payment) on Medicaid to every state."

In no time, we'll all be drinking free bubble up and eatin' rainbow stew!

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2009

Elections Matter

Sprint showed us what it would look like "If Firefighters Ran the World."

Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin and Christopher Dodd show us what would happen "If the Mafia Ran the World."

Problem is, the Sprint ad was hypothetical and the Senate's actions are all too real. It can legitimately be argued that the Democrat party has become a full-fledged criminal syndicate. Just listen to Judge Napolitano.

Is what we are seeing today much different than if a majority of Mafioso had been elected to Congress?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:02 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith thinks:

jg: that's SO not true. If the Mafia ran the Federal legislature, they'd be running it at a profit.

Ha.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to mention that whatever you kick up would be far less than current taxes...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2009 2:54 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: great point. I hear that, since Red China is no longer buying our T-bills, one of the administrations went down to the docks last night to borrow a few trillion dollars from a guy. The guy turned him down, saying that Uncle Sam couldn't afford the vig.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You think congressmen aren't profiting from their activities? Why else you think they do this "thankless" job - benevolence?!

I know you were joshin' but all kidding aside, the analogy fits like a glove.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2009 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

If the analogy fits, you must aquits...

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2009 4:28 PM

Meet Your New Nurse!

Am I racist to post this because this particular, brain-dead, corrupt Union thug happens to be of African descent? You decide.

redcross-teamsters1.jpg

The teamsters are blockading blood donations at the Red Cross in Philadelphia (home to a certain football team). But, compassionate lot that dey is, dey did allow one shipment to go through to save the life of a two-year old. But the rest of youse? Dey got grievances!

I cannot even continue. Read Liberty Chick's post on BigGovernment (from whence I lifted the picture), then John Stossel's take.

When we have a union disgruntled over a pay freeze that has resorted to blocking a blood donation delivery, on its way to save the life of a 2-year old child, from reaching a hospital, we have a problem. When we have unions that control the majority of health care, home care, nursing home care, child care, pharmacy, radiology, and public workers in this country, we will have a catastrophe. -- Liberty Chick


Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

Are you racist to post this? If you'd said "At last it can be told where the 'Bloods' got their name; now explain the 'Crips,'" then maybe. (Blood bank - pretty funny what I did there, huh?)

Otherwise, I vote no.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:42 PM

December 24, 2009

Collectivism in the Heath Care Bill

I know you're all shocked. Stick with me a minute.

In a superb guest editorial in the WSJ, Dr, Scott Gottlieb provides a comprehensive enumeration of reasons that the current Senate bill is bad for physicians and providers. Most will not be a surprise, but I had not seen this little gem before:

Next, the plan creates financial incentives for doctors to consolidate their practices. The idea here is that Medicare can more easily apply its regulations to institutions that manage large groups of doctors than it can to individual physicians. So the Obama plan imposes new costs on doctors who remain solo, mostly by increasing their overhead requirements—such as requiring three years of medical records every time a doctor orders routine medical equipment like wheelchairs.

The plan also offers doctors financial carrots if they give up their small practices and consolidate into larger medical groups, or become salaried employees of large institutions such as hospitals or "staff model" medical plans like Kaiser Permanente. One provision, laid out in Section 3022, allows doctors to share with the government any savings to the government they achieve by delivering less care—but only if physicians are part of groups caring for more than 5,000 Medicare patients and "have in place a leadership and management structure, including with regard to clinical and administrative systems."


Round 'em all up so they are easier to control! These are Doctors we are talking about.

Consolidation has a great track record in business and is important. But no serious person ever claimed it improved innovation. Our new medical overlords are so considered somebody will discover a new treatment that costs money.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2009

Two More Months of Freedom?

Yes!

Politico’s Mike Allen and Alexander Trowbridge have some bad news for Democrats, especially in the Senate, where Harry Reid has kept the chamber locked in battle over ObamaCare for weeks in an attempt to hit the finish line by Christmas. Barack Obama plans to put the health-care overhaul on the back burner until after the State of the Union address, pushing any conference between the House and Senate off until February. Instead, Obama plans a “hard pivot” towards jobs and the economy.

Let him screw up jobs and teh economy for awhile, that sounds far less dangerous.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

Funny Gub'mint Account -- Mai Non!

James Pethokoukis points out: "On this double-counting issue, I dont know if this will pan out. But if it does, boom goes the dynamite."

The key point is that the savings to the HI trust fund under the PPACA would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs. Trust fund accounting shows the magnitude of the savings within the trust fund, and those savings indeed improve the solvency of that fund; however, that accounting ignores the burden that would be faced by the rest of the government later in redeeming the bonds held by the trust fund.

One tires of saying it but: if they did this at Enron, there'd be jail time...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

The FoxNews.com story is here.

Republicans, emboldened by a new letter from the Congressional Budget Office, accused Democrats on Wednesday of "Bernie Madoff accounting" for double counting the savings from Medicare as a means to pay for the Senate health care bill.

I took a quick look through "all 12,634 news articles" on the same subject and only this one referred to the "double-counting" letter. Said letter from CBO director Elmendorf, by the way, is linked at the bottom of the FNC article.

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2009 1:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Awesome quote, Keith -- I forwarded it to Jimi P.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2009 1:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Cut 'em some slack, jg, they had their whole staff fact checking Sarah Pain's political puff book. Can't do everything y'know.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2009 1:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And that's another thing - What does it say that with all those "fact checkers" reviewing her book the best attack the progressive media can mount against Palin is Visorgate?

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2009 1:27 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I thought the Social Security "trust fund" farce was bad enough. It's a form of double-counting because those bonds will also have to be redeemed eventually. Meanwhile, surpluses are used to mask the current deficit while future obligations are merely on another ledger (and so are not reckoned against any year's budget). Are we surprised the feds didn't stop there?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 23, 2009 1:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Ken Shepherd of Newsbusters.org tweets; "WaPo devoted 19 staffers to today's Style frontpager on the Salahis. Why not put that much energy into detailing crap in health care bill?"

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2009 2:39 PM

Quote of the Day

Duquesne Light carries extra weight here because health-insurance industries are far from natural monopolies, so that regulating their rates calls for an extra dollop of judicial scrutiny. At this point, the Reid bill is on a collision course with the Constitution. I take it for granted that, constitutionally, the federal government could not just require all private health insurers to liquidate tomorrow, without compensation. -- Richard Epstein
Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM | Comments (4)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Sigh, I've had the pleasure of meeting Epstein (and having a chance to talk about a paper of his that I discovered preceded an idea I had) and know he's brilliant, but he's so naive here, and also wrong.

Fine, so the federal government will compensate insurers (rather, their owners) for being driven out of business. How will that be done? The people, whether through taxation or the Federal Reserve monetizing more debt. This isn't, as Lenin said, capitalists selling the rope that will be used to hang them. This is Nazis making us dig our own graves.

It's such a lose-lose situation that the best we could hope for is that insurance company owners will be paid out based on crashed stock prices. That means, on top of all the destroyed wealth, our taxes will not have to increase as much, or the Fed won't print as many new dollars, to compensate us for any shares we might own. Lots of people, via 401Ks and regular mutual fund holdings, have shares of publicly traded insurance companies that they don't know about.

Now, Epstein mentions "the constitutional guarantee that all regulated industries have to a reasonable, risk-adjusted, rate of return on their invested capital." And where is that? None of that phrasing exists in the Constitution. The only argument toward such a notion is merely interpretation, based on the takings and equal protections clauses.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 23, 2009 2:08 PM
But jk thinks:

I did not read Epstein's position as being as benign toward this as you saw it. I will go through it again.

What interested me was the backdrop of precedent for such a takeover and how the current Health Care Bill seems far outside it.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2009 2:19 PM
But jk thinks:

I submit, for your approval, the closing line as an alternate QOTD:

The Supreme Court should apply the constitutional brakes to this foolhardy scheme if Congress doesn't come to its senses first.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2009 2:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I wasn't thinking he was "benign," just naive in the part about, "constitutionally, the federal government could not just require all private health insurers to liquidate tomorrow, without compensation." Even if that happened, what's the actual consequence? The people have to pony up the money.

I like your closing better, but I don't trust Kennedy to, you know, follow the document he's sworn to uphold. Remember his vote on the Kelo case? Yes, it's called a "decision," but it was still a vote like any other.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 23, 2009 4:02 PM

December 22, 2009

The Best Health Care Bill Money Can Buy

Lining up at the trough after the slop has been poured -- are they not?

Nelson Says More Senators Seeking Special Treatment in Light of Nebraska Deal

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who has faced a heap of criticism for appearing to trade his vote on health care for millions in federal Medicaid money, said he's considering asking that the Nebraska deal be stripped from the bill. But he said other senators are looking for special treatment in light of his success.


Hat-tip: @JimPethokoukis

Posted by John Kranz at 6:50 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I usually avoid FNC's Greta VanSustern. Her show is routinely the tabloid segment of the evening. But I give her credit for her guests, her commentary and her interviews during this healthcare debate. Last night she had Nebraska's governor on [video here] and they discussed how he had called Senator Nelson's bluff on removing the Nebraska Windfall from the bill:

Governor Dave Heineman joins us live. Governor, so will you be asking Senator Ben Nelson to tell the Senate that you guys don't -- Nebraska doesn't want that $100 million? Are you going to ask him to do that?

GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN, R - NEB.: Well, we've already made it clear, Greta, we want all these special deals removed. In fact, this afternoon, our other United States senator, Senator Mike Johanns, introduced an amendment to strip all of the special interest deals from this bill, and the Democrats objected! That is really unfortunate. All these special deals should be removed from the bill.

Posted by: johngalt at December 23, 2009 1:36 PM

AP Speaks Truth!

end_is_near.gif

The end is near.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:28 PM | Comments (0)

Constitutional? What's That?

Give the 111th Congress props for one very difficult feat: they are making GOP Senators look really, really good.

DeMint and Ensign have forced a new vote:

The Senate on Wednesday will have to take an unplanned vote on whether the Democratic health care proposal is constitutional.

Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and John Ensign, R-Nev., on Tuesday raised a point of order against the legislation on behalf of a caucus of conservative senators.

Ensign said the bill violates individual freedom of choice by requiring people to purchase health insurance or be subjected to fines and penalties


Well done guys and gals! Strictly procedural, but a good --nay, great -- marker to lay down.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM | Comments (0)

He Hate Me

govthatesme.jpg

Capturing my thoughts in the wake of the Nebraska (and Louisiana and Vermont and Massachusetts and Connecticut and NEVADA) windfalls.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:17 AM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

love it. nice XFL connection.

Posted by: AlexC at December 22, 2009 5:27 PM

December 21, 2009

A great WSJ Editorial

Coals to Newcastle. But I break my Facebook pledge against politics again with this comprehensive argument against the Health Care bill and current partisan tactics.

I highly recommend everybody's sharing it with a few people who will dislike it.

I'll even give them a Quote of the Day:

Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.

The rushed, secretive way that a bill this destructive and unpopular is being forced on the country shows that "reform" has devolved into the raw exercise of political power for the single purpose of permanently expanding the American entitlement state. An increasing roll of leaders in health care and business are looking on aghast at a bill that is so large and convoluted that no one can truly understand it, as Finance Chairman Max Baucus admitted on the floor last week. The only goal is to ram it into law while the political window is still open, and clean up the mess later.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:25 PM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

That is a great editorial, and reading it makes one wonder why every voice in the land is not screaming NOOO! Talk radio America is understandably pissed, of course. But in the gigantic gulf that is the most bitterly divided electorate in U.S. history, we have the likes of this from another newspaper in the same town: A Bill Well Worth Passing. No wonder only 51% of public opinion is against it.

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2009 8:07 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the link. I didn't realize this:

Despite all the exaggerated Republican rhetoric that the bill will lead to fiscal disaster, it has been carefully and responsibly drafted so that it is fully paid for without busting future budgets.

Hey, if it's good enough for the NY Times...

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2009 1:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

S'pose the NYT Ed page ever used the words "carefully" or "responsibly" during the eight years of the Bush administration? Me neither. But the current administration and congress are apparently now deserving of those adverbs because ...

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2009 2:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Statistically, the Giants have one great thing going for them -- the Broncos have a knack for beating the champs in the regular season, even when we have a miserable year. In '68, we beat Namath's Jets, we beat the Pats and Colts recently in their championship years. I'd say y'all are on the way!

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2009 3:22 PM

Militia Time!

Thanks to Senator Sheldon Whitehose for giving the opposition a viable plan:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today took shots at those who are not supporting the health care legislation. During a floor speech, he excoriated Senate GOP members for up holding the pending health care bill and accused their supporters of being birthers and fanatics in right-wing militia and Aryan support groups. He started off by citing an editorial from the Manchester Journal Inquirer, which used insults like "lunatic fringe.":

Looking like armed revolt may be our best plan...

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | Comments (4)
But Keith thinks:

I've been asking - how many times now? - at what point we're at the Concord Bridge. Perhaps in our next Constitution, we'll add some language about forbidding the involuntary redistribution of wealth by government, along with banning bills being written in secret and voted on during the dark of night.

Posted by: Keith at December 21, 2009 11:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"... in our next Constitution?" The present one forbids most of the evils of big government. And yet, here we are.

The reliance upon SCOTUS to render a Constitutionality judgement effectively absolves the congress from having to even consider the question. "Are you serious? Are you serious!?"

Just enact the thing and live with what the pragmatic Court will let you get away with, years and thousands of billable attorney hours later.

The only thing that kept past congresses and administrations from doing what we see today was conscience and honor.

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2009 3:17 PM
But Keith thinks:

johngalt, you capture my frame of mind full and proper. But for a few of the Amendments (regarding the direct election of Senators and direct Federal taxation, f'rinstance), I like our present Constitution a lot. The problem is, it's not obeyed.

Truth be told, I was also channeling the last few pages of Atlas Shrugged, which I had really hoped you would have caught - given your nom de plume.

What's becoming painfully clear to me is that there are multiple components necessary to preserving the Republic: a Constitution as good as ours, a Federal government that will govern in accord with that Constitution, and an educated voting populace willing to hold that Federal government accountable for governing the way thye Constitution says. Many have said that our Imperial Congress disregards the Constitution entirely, but we also have an electorate that keeps sending the Barney Franks and the Nancy Pelosis and the Ted Kennedys (well, okay, Ted Kennedy's not getting re-elected this go-round without a crystal ball and a ouija board) back to their annointed posts. Constitution be damned, the people have figured out how to vote themselves the public treasury. Thank the unwashed 52% for that one, though this goes back at least to FDR's days.

I'm out of solutions. I'm not convinced that the 2010 or 2012 elections will be honest. See this, for example:

http://nicedoggie.net/index.php/archives/3776

If the voters do not or cannot right this, then the sole remaining options become armed revolution, secession, or sitting back and accepting it. That last one is the least appealing.

Posted by: Keith at December 21, 2009 4:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Followed the link.

Heaven help the Republic.

Posted by: johngalt at December 22, 2009 3:24 PM

December 19, 2009

It's Time

Likely past time. But Senator Cornyn offers a site that allows you send an email to seven Senators -- including my illustrious Senator Bennet.

I sent the mails and made a small gift. If any ThreeSources felt they could join me:

Your message was sent to:

Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln Senator Michael F. Bennet Senator Evan Bayh Senator Byron L. Dorgan Senator Ben Nelson Senator Arlen Specter Senator Jim Webb

I have Multiple Sclerosis and my wife is recovering from a stroke.

Both of us need advances in treatment and therapy that will be severely impeded by this bill.

I would support interstate purchase of insurance, normalization of tax status between employers and individuals, and would consider a well structured plan to aid those who cannot acquire or afford insurance.

The current package does none of this. It will drive up government costs and taxes -- and make future health care worse.

Please vote NO! (I especially urge Senator Bennet because I live in Colorado).


Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2009

Why "Jump?"

Kim Strassel notes that "Barack Obama emerged from his meeting with Senate Democrats this week to claim Congress was on the 'precipice' of something historic." (Roger Kimball suggests "precipice" instead of "threshold" as a Freudian slip.)

The polls are bad and getting worse, but Strassel offers what I fear to be the real reason so many will jump:

So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party -- the Barney Franks, the David Obeys -- are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.


Should I congratulate them for principle? Strassel compliments my backbencher freshman Senator: "In Colorado, where 55% of voters oppose a health bill, appointed Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet told CNN he'd vote for a bill even if it "cost him his job." Give the freshman credit for honesty."

Yes, Senator, you've got to break some eggs to make an omelet, don't you?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | Comments (6)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Here's hoping the good citizens of Colorado break his eggs next November.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 18, 2009 12:10 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Good lord, I hate this ridiculous use of "historic." Every time some politician or spinmeister uses it, it's merely empty rhetoric to imply something is good.

Hitler invading various European countries was "historic." Russia and China starving millions of their people was "historic." Fourteen thousand French dying in a heat wave was "historic." Now hundreds of millions of Americans subjected to rationed socialized medicine will be "historic."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 18, 2009 12:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I like to make omelets with the "magic bullet," a small infomercial high speed blender that subjects eggs to 600,000,000 RPM rotating knives until fluffy.

Metaphorical image implanted? Good: Jane Norton 2010!

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2009 12:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Commenters appear to be missing the point of the article. Sure Bennet will lose his job. Dems expect him to be defeated in 2010. But once the insidious health care entitlement has worked its rotten magic on the will of the electorate the Democrat "party of government" can celebrate an even stronger urge to "vote for thems what took kare of usn's."

This is the looming gambit for 21st century America, and therefore the world: Do a plurality of Americans want to be sheeple, or the last best hope for man on Earth? It's clear what the Democrats think the answer is.

P.S. Here's the Kim Strassel missing link - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704238104574602232786471914.html

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2009 5:48 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Y'all are missing the point: the Dems are busy making themselves parachutes with D-A-S-C-H-L-E spelled across the tops! Who needs a job in the Senate when you can become a healthcare-civil-servant for life (or better: a lobbyist for same!). I feel verrrry badly for this....

It will take a true conservative landslide and some powerful leadership like we've not seen in a decade, to tear down what's being built into this bill.

Posted by: nanobrewer at December 20, 2009 12:18 AM
But jk thinks:

No, not missing the point (though I did have the link wrong - thanks, jg (since corrected).

I would prefer a "No" vote to an electoral landslide any day of the week, but a consolation prize is a consolation prize.

Dark. Damn. Days. And I don't mean the Solstice.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2009 12:02 PM

December 17, 2009

Evolution to Extinction

Sanctimonious progressives ridicule social conservatives for refusing to acknowledge the validity of the theory of evolution. Too bad they are too dense to see the obvious parallel with their refusal to acknowledge the lessons of history. But IBD's Michael Ramirez sees it.

ramirez%2015DEC09.jpg

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:50 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

I thought they all died in the Ice Age. These dinosaurs oughta stay away from the Gore Effect:

http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/03/gore-effect-strikes-again-giant-dc.html

Posted by: Keith at December 17, 2009 6:11 PM

December 16, 2009

Kill the Bill!

Tipping point? Status Quo was a pejorative term last week:
NBC/WSJ Poll:

As the Senate sprints to pass a health-care bill by Christmas, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that those believing President Obama's health-reform plan is a good idea has sunk to its lowest level.

Just 32 percent say it's a good idea, versus 47 percent who say it's a bad idea.

In addition, for the first time in the survey, a plurality prefers the status quo to reform. By a 44-41 percent margin, respondents say it would be better to keep the current system than to pass Obama's health plan.


Posted by John Kranz at 3:09 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

It's a shame that the federal legislature's job isn't to (a) carry out the will of the people and/or (b) legislate in accordance with the Constitution. Were it so, this choice would be easy.

Congressman Crockett, pick up line two; there's a Horatio Bunce who would like a word or two with you...

Posted by: Keith at December 16, 2009 3:39 PM

December 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

This last-minute, back-room ploy shows again that Democrats are simply winging it as they rush to pass something—anything—that can get 60 votes by Christmas. President Obama praised the proposal as "a creative new framework," while Finance Chairman Max Baucus told the Washington Post, "If there's 60 Senators who can reach agreement, I'm for it." Now there's a model standard to use for reordering 17% of the U.S. economy. --- WSJ Ed Page
Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2009

We're Certainly Not Nicer Than Canadians.

Hat-tip: Instpundit

Posted by John Kranz at 3:45 PM | Comments (0)

December 4, 2009

Quote of the Day

Indeed. My take: If healthcare is as important as they say, why would we trust Congress to run it? -- Professor Glenn Reynolds
Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2009

Gimme Thirteen Minutes

Health Care is a complex topic. But this Reason TV piece closely matches my views -- even citing my favorite example. It is a great thing to share with honest supporters of ObamaCare:

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2009

Do It Yourself Blog Post

Off to an appointment, so you'll have to do this blog post yourself:
Link: http://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2009/11/nicholas-kristoff-obamacare-and-the-broken-window-fallacy.html

Title: Nicholas Kristof, Obamacare, and the Broken Window Fallacy

Don't forget to hat-tip: Professor Reynolds...

UPDATE: If you don't have time, Michelle Malkin (jk links to Michelle Malkin -- mark the date!) does a great job, awarding Kristof the prize for "Quite possibly the crappiest NYTimes column for Obamacare ever."

Bainbridge gets points for the Bastiat reference, but what Malkin grabs is that the object of pity in this ObamaCare paean already qualifies for government healthcare, but (don't laugh, this gentleman is truly suffering) he cannot secure the services of a physician because the reimbursement rates are too low!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"Bastiat: He was one of those Ayn Rand disciples, wasn't he! She was an extremist nutjob and he is too!"

The preceding was a pre-enactment of a relativist's "counter-argument."

As for me (and Rand, and Heinlein): TANSTAAFL.

Posted by: johngalt at November 30, 2009 2:59 PM

November 24, 2009

May As Well Buy a Boat

I'm aware that not all ThreeSourcers share my appreciation of Megan McArdle. But she has written a gem that demands linkage. McArdle is unimpressed with the argument that we may as well do ObamaCare. because Medicare is going to bankrupt us anyway:

Anyone who has dated a manic-depressive has heard some version of this argument. "I can barely make ends meet now, so I might as well use my tax refund check to buy a boat! After all, if I can't figure out a way to fix my budget, I'm going to go bankrupt anyway."

The premise is fun. The serious treatment she gives to an American bankruptcy is a bit disturbing in its casualness.

Professor Reynolds suggested reading the whole thing. Do what you want.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2009

We Know What You Are, Senator...

On the wild chance somebody doesn't know this joke, here's the Cliff's Notes® version (best in a Groucho Marx voice...):

He: "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?"
She: "A million dollars, I'd have to think about that..."
He: "Would you sleep with me for $20?"
She: "No, you think I am some kind of whore?"
He: "We know what you are, now we're haggling over price!"

Punchline implanted? Segue to WSJ Editorial:
Take Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu, who claims to have grave concerns about the bill's cost. Those worries became less pressing when Majority Leader Harry Reid added language on page 432 of the 2,074-page opus that would raise the bill's cost by increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for "certain states recovering from a major disaster." Guess which state is the only one that would qualify under that wording?

This political gratuity was quickly reported as costing $100 million, but Senator Landrieu made clear after her floor speech that her vote couldn't be bought that cheaply. "I will correct something. It's not $100 million, it's $300 million, and I'm proud of it and will keep fighting for it," she told reporters.


My work here is done.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

We know what she is: a thief, and she's proud of it.

That's a great joke, and very illustrative of a point of logic that I've used before. On a friend's blog, some Brit was criticizing Bush for not doing enough to hunt down Osama. So I asked what it's worth. More than one dollar? Certainly. One hundred billion dollars? For one man who's hiding for his life and thus effectively contained, no, $100 bil isn't worth it. OK, so now we know that it's somewhere between the two numbers, and we can narrow it down from there.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 23, 2009 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Um, don't all 56 states qualify on the grounds that the election of Barack Obama was a "major disaster?"

Jus' askin.'

Posted by: johngalt at November 23, 2009 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's another gem I heard on the [highly recommended, 6pm on Denver's KHOW] Jason Lewis Show (some other Minnesnowtan guest-hosting):

Harry Reid's persuasion of Mary Landrieu (Democrat-Louisana) ((hey, where have we heard THAT title before?)) is the modern version of - The Louisiana Purchase.

Posted by: johngalt at November 24, 2009 2:52 PM

It's Disgusting!

The folks at Reason boil down most of the complexities of Pharmaceutical economics into a nice, watchable seven minute video.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2009

Perfect Description of Democracy!

AP:

WASHINGTON – When it comes to paying for a health care overhaul, Americans see just one way to go: Tax the rich.

That finding from a new Associated Press poll will be welcome news for House Democrats, who proposed doing just that in their sweeping remake of the U.S. medical system, which passed earlier this month and would extend coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

UPDATE: JammieWearingFool suggests that other results from the poll are not quite so encouraging (to the collectivists).

Posted by John Kranz at 10:11 AM | Comments (5)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Bleeping hell, the poll is pure horse excrement. JWF had some excellent points with what the MSM left out. Let me point out the BS in what they did:

conducted by Stanford University with the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Right there, you know it has no objectivity. The RWJF are "nonpartisan" socialists who advocate single-payer health care.

The poll tested views on an even more punitive taxation scheme that was under consideration earlier, when the tax would have hit people making more than $250,000 a year. Even at that level the poll showed majority support, with 57 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed.
In other words, 43% (flatly opposed and those "unsure") still didn't support that tax, which means a large minority still didn't believe in taxing a small percentage (
For example, 77 percent said the cost of health care in the United States was higher than it should be, and 74 percent favored the broad goal of reducing the amount of money paid by patients and their insurers. But 49 percent said any changes made by the government probably would cause them to pay more for health care. Thirty-two percent said it wouldn't change what they pay, and just 12 percent said they would end up paying less.For example, 77 percent said the cost of health care in the United States was higher than it should be, and 74 percent favored the broad goal of reducing the amount of money paid by patients and their insurers. But 49 percent said any changes made by the government probably would cause them to pay more for health care. Thirty-two percent said it wouldn't change what they pay, and just 12 percent said they would end up paying less.
The 23% who don't think health costs are higher than they should be are well-insured by their employers (government workers, current/former union labor). They're also the 26% of reducing costs, because they have no need to concern themselves.

Half of the polled think they'll pay more for health care. This means that of the minority who want to "soak the rich," at least 8% think they'll pay more even with soaking the rich.

The 44% who think they'll pay the same or less are clearly those who want others to pay for it, whether through tax hikes on "the rich" or because they already have government-supported plans. They don't need to care if total costs go up, only what they're paying.

Forty-eight percent in the poll were opposed to new taxes on insurance companies, and 42 percent were in support. Fifty-one percent opposed raising taxes on drug and device makers, while 41 percent supported that approach.

But 72 percent of people polled said insurance companies made too much profit, compared with 23 percent who said they made about the right amount of profit. And 74 percent said drug companies made too much profit, versus 21 percent who said they made about the right amount of profit.In other words, 30% of the polled think insurers make "too much profit" but understand it's a bad idea to tax someone who's providing a service you need. And 33% of the polled think drug makers make "too much profit" but don't want them taxed, either.

People who told pollsters they generally supported Congress' health care overhaul plan were also more receptive to new taxes to pay for it. Taxing health care companies, drug companies and equipment manufacturers eked out majority support from that group.
Even if this had hard numbers for "eked out majority support," this is all statistically meaningless. You can't quantify "generally support" when asking someone a question.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 17, 2009 11:56 AM
But jk thinks:

Nicely played, Perry. Superb analysis.

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2009 12:03 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, I forgot that the blockquote tag doesn't span across paragraphs. So above should read like this:

But 72 percent of people polled said insurance companies made too much profit, compared with 23 percent who said they made about the right amount of profit. And 74 percent said drug companies made too much profit, versus 21 percent who said they made about the right amount of profit.
In other words, 30% of the polled think insurers make "too much profit" but understand it's a bad idea to tax someone who's providing a service you need. And 33% of the polled think drug makers make "too much profit" but don't want them taxed, either.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 17, 2009 8:26 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: perhaps that poll should have two questions, like this:

"Q: Do you think health insurance companies make too much profit, not enough profit, or about the right amount of profit?"

"A: Definitely, way too much profit."

"Q: What was the health insurance industry's average profit margin last year?"

"A: Ummmmm... I dunno, but it was way too much."

Answer: 2.2 percent. Less than the government garnered from the health insurance companies.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091025/ap_on_go_co/us_fact_check_health_insurance

Posted by: Keith at November 18, 2009 11:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I remember that. Calvin Woodward has written some "fact checks" that poke holes in Republicans' claims, but more than a couple about Democrats' too. Clearly he must be sent to a re-education camp!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 18, 2009 3:54 PM

November 13, 2009

"Very Fair"

Hat-tip: Heritage

Posted by John Kranz at 8:02 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"We want to make sure that everyone has access to health care... We all have to do our part."

Yes, you will do your part to pay for everyone else, or she'll send you to jail.

To hell with that bitch. **** her.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 14, 2009 4:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Pelosi: "Do you think it's fair if somebody says, 'Well, I'm just not going to have it and if I get sick then I'll just go to the emergency room and send the bill, uh, to YOU.' That's my view on the subject."

Instead she wants ALL of us to send the bill to Robert "It's too expensive - we're gonna let you DIE" Reich.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2009 5:10 PM

November 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

So now the mandate is like a tax? Which is it? I'm not exactly sure what's untrue about Rep. [Dave] Camp's statement. If you don't pay your taxes, what exactly happens? You go to jail. You don’t get prosecuted “in theory.” Men with guns come to your home and take you away. -- John Stossel
Posted by John Kranz at 1:32 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2009

You Haven't Suffered Enough!

I don't know how many commercials are in this series; this is the second that Instapundit has posted. The first subject ended up coming to America for care, this woman got treatment after begging doctors for two years:

There's a BB King tune, he sings "Went down to the welfare office to get myself some grits and stuff. The woman said you ain't been around long enough! Everybody wants to know why I'm singin' the blues..." I cannot imagine hearing "you have not suffered long enough -- others have been on the list longer."

But of course that will not happen here: we Americans are so much kinder and more generous than Canadians and our government is so much more efficient than theirs -- no doubt our version of socialized medicine will rock!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

She deserved it! Single mom? What was she thinking? She should have had an abortion! Filthy breeders like this shouldn't get anything!

So let me get this straight - Canada's national health said she couldn't get treatment because "you aren't old enough." But Robert Reich said "if you're very old we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs ... it's too expensive so we're gonna let you die."

So you can be denied because you are too old OR because you're too young. Or too rich, poor, smart, dumb, white, black, fill-in-the-blank.

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2009 5:35 PM

November 9, 2009

Somebody has to say something

The lead editorial in the WSJ today captures it pretty well:

The bill is instead a breathtaking display of illiberal ambition, intended to make the middle class more dependent on government through the umbilical cord of "universal health care." It creates a vast new entitlement, financed by European levels of taxation on business and individuals. The 20% corner of Medicare open to private competition is slashed, while fiscally strapped states are saddled with new Medicaid burdens. The insurance industry will have to vet every policy with Washington, which will regulate who it must cover, what it can offer, and how much it can charge.

We've lost our liberty and privacy, we've demolished the greatest engine of innovation for improving quality-of-life ever created, and we've signed up for complete middle-class serfdom. But THANK GOD for the work of those brave blue dog Democrats who stood tough and stripped out abortions!

I guess I am still enough of a partisan hack that I can at least appreciate the possible bloodbath for the Democrats in 2010. But this has come one step closer than I thought. I figured something would pass the House (the old line was "you could pass a ham sandwich in the House") but I did not expect anything this bad to pass.

On to the Senate. I am thinking of writing Senator Bennet today with a pledge to donate $1000 to his opponent if he votes for it. Good idea?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | Comments (2)
But nanobrewer thinks:


Agreed here: not sure what to do, but just as sure that something needs doing. I wrote Polis hoping he'd be more conscientious than politically short sighted (he's on record as being a deficit hawk, yes?).

Also agreed there's no point in writing Udall; he put his brains into a gov't bailed-out hedge long ago.

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 10, 2009 12:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Is he? I'll take your word for it, nb. I guess I thought that Rep Polis was truly representing his constituency; I am guessing you and I are the only two people in his district that do not want gub'mint health care. I sat in on a telephone town hall and we are outliers.

Sen. Bennet would be the most vulnerable and the soonest up for election. I think that's a good place to put the screws.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2009 3:24 PM

November 7, 2009

What are You In For, Kid?

"Not having health care."

PELOSI: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail

JCT Confirms Failure to Comply with Democrats’ Mandate Can Lead to 5 Years in Jail
Friday, November 06, 2009

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.


No surprise to ThreeSources, all government mandates are ultimately enforced by guns and jail time. I wonder that some enterprising 527 could not make a good TV commercial by juxtaposing this with footage of Then-Senator Obama ridiculing rival candidate Clinton for mandates.

Hat-tip: Ann Althouse who asks "Is this what the Democrats mean to inflict on the unsuspecting public that believes it is getting health care? What chaos lies ahead?"

Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM | Comments (8)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Don't knock it, there is free health care in prison.

Sigh, will we ever see realistic discussion on what kind of health care should be provided IF we go down the path of supporting it with taxes? The $15K/year quoted is based upon a current health plan with coverage for doctor's visits and prescriptions. Again I look at my auto insurance (required by law) that includes $500K of bodily injury coverage for about $1K/year. I also pay for fire department coverage in my property taxes, but the fire department does not come out and trim my trees or apply a yearly fire retardant to my roof. Nor do they clean up or pay for water damage if they should have to extinguish a fire in my home.

Sadly this would require our wonderful members of Congress to stand up to the insurance industry, and I see two chances of this happening, fat and slim.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 8, 2009 10:41 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Sadly this would require our wonderful members of Congress to stand up to the insurance industry, and I see two chances of this happening, fat and slim."

Do you really think the insurance industry has power over Congress, not the other way around? The only "health insurance industry" we have right now is the state-by-state monopolies that Congress so graciously permits.

As has been stated here and on countless other blogs, no small part of the problem is that leftists want everything covered, effectively down to the tiniest sneeze. Couple that with massive pay reductions (the only way socialized medicine can "save costs"), and maybe we'll have our own when doctors and nurses quit.

It's been asked often, "Once we have socialized medicine, where will Canadians go?" And how will they get cheaper pharmaceuticals? A major part of the health care "reform" is that the feds will force down drug prices. But right now Americans subsidize Canadian prices, because of Canadian price controls. Americans are willing and able to pay extra for our medicines, even though a foreign government is screwing us, so Canadians are getting a free ride from us. However, when our own government "negotiates" the lower prices, oops: our pharmaceutical manufacturers won't make enough of a profit to sell the drugs, or create new ones. Game over.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 8, 2009 11:50 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Do I really think that health insurance companies have power over Congress? Yes. Money is power. You don't get to have congressional power without being in Congress. You don't get to be in Congress without getting elected, and you don't get elected without money. That money buys influence because it can be withheld. Legislation can be written to push more of that $15K/year into the coffers of private insurance companies. Those companies are not losing money by providing more coverage, on the contrary, the more elaborate the coverage they can supply, the more money they make. They have no interest in having mandated coverage if that means smaller coverage plans. More profitable to provide $15K plans or nothing.

Pharmaceutical research and manufacturing is actually worse than you indicate as US regulations are forcing R&D to Europe. We support the price controlled countries drug costs and lose the jobs and tax base provided by R&D.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 8, 2009 12:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You're confusing money and influence with actually having power. Lobbyists use money to influence legislators, but there is no guarantee it will get them anywhere. Think about it: Microsoft, sitting on tens of billions in cash reserves, couldn't stop the anti-trust investigations. Money is no guarantee of power.

Insurers, that is, existing insurers would like everyone to be forced to buy plans from someone, but that isn't going to happen. Why hasn't it happened already? Because the intent all along has been no less than the "public option," because leftists don't believe in private insurance. Leftists want the government to control health care.

"That money buys influence because it can be withheld."

Lobbyists don't withhold money; they try to spend more than the competition. What you're thinking about are endorsements, typically from union groups, and that money flows in the reverse: a teacher's union will support a candidate with the expectation of getting lucrative contracts.

And yes, I know the dire situation of pharmaceuticals. I was only making one small point about when pharmaceutical companies shrug with care-givers.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 8, 2009 8:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence finds the diamond: the trouble with health insurance is that it ain't insurance -- it's prepaid medical. I'd bend his analogy worse and say it's like if auto insurance covered gas and oil changes.

But I will argue with his (sorry, sd) "Democratic Talking Points" that big money insurance companies are the culprit. Sure, there's some rent-seeking behavior and most of the current players probably do not want the rollicking interstate competition that we do. But I have to think that some (rhymes with Lauren Stuff-it) could see the opportunity.

I am far more concerned about the nannies and the small time special interests that have ensured that every policy covers aromatherapy, acupuncture, chiropracty, &c. Without going into the merits of each, sensible people might pick a less expensive policy that covers, oh let's say, doctors and hospitals, with otehr treatments to be paid out-of-pocket.

The opposition to Geico health plans that we both want are not the evil, profit bound, heartless insurance companies. The roadblock is nannies who want to use health care to control our lives.

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2009 10:07 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Did I ever mention how safe I feel that New York State mandates that my health insurance cover uterine cancer and hysterectomies?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 9, 2009 1:07 PM

November 3, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

We have not had too much good news, I will make the most of it.

Blue Dogs would be dog-foolish to ignore the off year elections. Now, Leader Reid says they'll debate health care while looking down the barrel of midterms.

WASHINGTON – In a blow to the White House, the Senate's top Democrat signaled Tuesday that Congress may fail to meet a year-end deadline for passing health care legislation, leaving the measure's fate to the uncertainties of the 2010 election season.

UPDATE: James Pethokoukis 10 quick observations about Election Day, 2009

UPDATE II: Michael Barone underscores that the results imperil health care legislation:

I cannot imagine that Congressmen Nye, Perriello, Connally and Boucher have not already accessed the websites which have shown the position of their constituents in a contest which, while like all governorship contests has its own specific features, was also in its contrast on issue positions reasonably congruent with those prevailing on national issues. And I can certainly respond with sympathy if any or all of these incumbents responded to these numbers with a two-word comment of which I will relay only the first word which is, “Oh.”

The 2009 election results are certainly not going to make it easy for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to round up the needed 218 votes for Democrats’ health care bills.


He also mentions Westchester County, a race that brought a cautiously optimistic email from Perry.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:17 PM | Comments (5)
But Terri thinks:

Longmont, to me, was as big as VA and NJ as far as a ray of sunshine in this country! Tonight the grownups won and won in a big way here.

Posted by: Terri at November 4, 2009 12:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Longmont race news here:
http://www.timescall.com/news_story.asp?ID=19036

I don't know any of the Longmont candidates or positions but I did very much like this report:

"Boulder County voters also appear to be turning down the request to extend an open space tax."

Proving you can fool most Boulder County people only 19 out of 20 times.

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2009 1:18 AM
But nanobrewer thinks:


What was with Benker, and a lawsuit against Firestone?!? I've been out of the State for nearly half the year, so have no idea what's been going on to the town just north of "my town."

Posted by: nanobrewer at November 4, 2009 11:26 AM
But Terri thinks:

Short version:

A megachurch bought land east of Longmont and wanted to develop it and annex to Longmont. Longmont said yes. A petition was started to say no and elections held in 2008 ended up in a new council changing their minds and saying no.

The church said, "Ok" and convinced Firestone to annex the land.

Then there is something with multiple annexations and rights of ways, but bottom line, the old city council was suing to keep Firestone away from the Longmont border.

Posted by: Terri at November 4, 2009 1:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of good news, this 2-week old Karen Travers post on Jake Tapper's 'Political Punch' is the 2nd "most Dugg" story on ABCnews.com.

"Vice President Joe Biden said today that if Democrats were to lose 35 House seats they currently hold in traditionally Republican districts, it would mean doomsday for President Obama’s agenda.

Biden said Republicans are pinning their political strategy on flipping these seats.

“If they take them back, this the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do,” the vice president said at a fundraiser for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) today in Greenville, Delaware."

I hope they continue to push just as hard next year for climate change schemes and healthcare reforms, but with exactly the same degree of legislative success.

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2009 3:15 PM

November 2, 2009

A: Eleventy-One!

Q: Frodo, how many new bureaucracies would be created by Speaker Pelosi's new health care bill?

Hat-tip: @mkhammer

Posted by John Kranz at 4:14 PM | Comments (0)

Worst Bill Evah

"The health bill [Speaker Pelosi] unwrapped last Thursday, which President Obama hailed as a 'critical milestone,' may well be the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced." So begins a long and thoughtful editorial in the Wall Street Journal today -- and it does not let up from there.

The editors enumerate its flaws and suggest -- rightfully -- that the flaws are features, not bugs: the goal is to complete FDR's vision.

Mr. Obama rode into office on a wave of "change," but we doubt most voters realized that the change Democrats had in mind was making health care even more expensive and rigid than the status quo. Critics will say we are exaggerating, but we believe it is no stretch to say that Mrs. Pelosi's handiwork ranks with the Smoot-Hawley tariff and FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act as among the worst bills Congress has ever seriously contemplated.

Full of choir preachin' for ThreeSourcers, but if you are looking for a serious article to share with someone in the other side, this one is very very good.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

The health-care debate is part of a moral struggle currently being played out over the free enterprise system. It will be replayed in every major policy debate in the coming months, from financial regulatory reform to a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon emissions. The choices will ultimately always come down to competing visions of America's future. Will we strengthen freedom, individual opportunity and enterprise? Or will we expand the role of the state and its power? -- AEI Chief Arthur Brooks in a great guest editorial on health care in the WSJ
Posted by John Kranz at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2009

Paying for the Baucus Bill

And this or a future Congress would never revoke Medicare cuts...

baucus_pay_pie.jpg

Thanks to James Pethokoukis who adds "If those Medicare cuts don’t happen, forget about it, gang."

UPDATE: Also read the whole thing at Scrivener.net about off-budget accounting gimmicks and the SS trust fund.

UPDATE II: And the Andrew Biggs piece Scrivener links to.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2009

Healthcare Handgrenade

What if the entire healthcare reform debate rested on a false premise? (It does.) What if a prominent and respected thought leader on the "government option" side of the debate made a public statement that exposed the false premise and he was videotaped to prove it? (He has.) Alas, probably nothing but I'll shout it from the rooftop anyway.

The existing "treat on demand" mandate for American hospitals is based on the premise that "we can't let sick people die" just because they can't pay for their care. Somebody should remind Robert Reich, who said:

And by the way, we are going to have to, if you are very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for a couple of months. IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE SO WE'RE GONNA LET YOU DIE. [1:15]

"It's too expensive, so we're gonna let you die." These nine words are so important to the future of the free world that they mark my first EVER use of bold underlined italic all-caps. EVER!

So the obvious question for Mister Reich and every other hypocritical, disingenuous mouthpiece for healthcare "reform" and "compromise" is this:

"If we can let old people die then why can't we let sick people be sick? Even if it means they might die?"

If it is acceptable for the government to deny medical treatment to patients with no fault other than their advanced age (even if they would have had the means and the will to pay for their own care before you "fixed" the healthcare system) why isn't it acceptable for hospitals to deny medical treatment to patients who can't pay for it (even though the public and private means to be prepared for those costs are ubiquitous and could be made even more so?)

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:15 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The care of every man's soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or his estate, which would more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 9:48 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Not to worry, JG. That can all be solved with a sufficient donation to the DNC.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 22, 2009 3:32 PM

October 20, 2009

1502 Pages of Fun!

Don Surber adds a little perspective to the Baucus Health Care Bill:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: 1,216
Stephen King’s The Stand: 1,141
Atlas Shrugged: 1,192
War and Peace: 1,296
Complete Sherlock Holmes: 944
Ben Hur: 620

Posted by John Kranz at 6:44 PM | Comments (7)
But Keith thinks:

That should NOT be taken as a criticism of any of the fine books you cite, and should not engender any snide remarks about my epic-length comments, thankyouverymuch.

Posted by: Keith at October 20, 2009 6:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Us????

Posted by: jk at October 20, 2009 7:45 PM
But Keith thinks:

Think of it as pre-emptive confession - I know how long-winded I can be...

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2009 11:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heh, I know the feeling too, Keith. I've recently been accused of making people afraid to comment on another blog. The person said I was long-winded, blah blah. Since it came from a leftist, it means I'm doing my job to spread truth and debunk their lies.

Jefferson said something about never using two words when one will do. His writing exemplifies his advice and still remains beautiful.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 21, 2009 11:32 AM
But Keith thinks:

Jefferson's Health Care Bill would have looked like this:

"The right of the people to earn sufficiently to pay for their own medical care, obtain insurance to indemnify such care if they desire, select their own physicians, and make their own medical decisions, shall be neither infringed by the government, nor encumbered by taxation."

Forty-five words. Any improvements to be offered?

Posted by: Keith at October 21, 2009 11:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Four more words: "This means you, Pelosi."

Unfortunately it is now commonplace to ignore words, even those in the Constitution. The latest example was even lauded on these pages as "a step toward increasing liberty."

Rather than firing off memos that pick and choose which federal laws are to be enforced, change the effin' law!

Posted by: johngalt at October 21, 2009 12:12 PM

October 19, 2009

The Ultimate Public Option

I had a blog post brewing in my head when I woke up this morning. Curiously, Blogging God James Taranto has thieved it:

British health care, it seems, resembles American elementary and secondary education, in that the government has a monopoly but there is an expensive private opt-out--and many of those who run the monopoly avail themselves of the private system. If you like the public schools, you'll love ObamaCare!

Taranto is following up on a story that British Heath Care workers will be given taxpayer-financed private care. Else, socialized medicine will kill all the providers. Beautiful, isn't it?

But I had two thoughts on education (all my family members are teachers, I'm a dead man if one of them ever stumbles on ThreeSources). The first is the title: public education is the ultimate public option. No, there's no law to keep us from opening up the ThreeSources Academy of Reason and Civics and Advanced PE, but all of our students will have to pay for both public education and our inflated tuition. The government will regulate how many days are taught and have great influence on our curricula. Lastly, if we do well and attract attention, we can be denied building permits, accreditation, fire code clearances, &c.

We can swim but they completely own the pool. A serious person cannot help but see that health care would be just like that. Crappy substandard care for all, and an escape of quality and innovation that only the rich could afford. Progressive, indeed!

The other point is that innovation in a sector is frozen to the time government takes over. The highly subsidized and regulated passenger railways are frozen at WWII technology, British Health Care in 1975 all the time. And American education has not progressed an inch since Wilson was President (most would say it has fallen). In spite of communications, Internet, advances in access to books and information, and ubiquitous, inexpensive computers, schools have seen no improvement.

Medicine has made startling gains, but it might be 2009 forever. Shame

Posted by John Kranz at 3:49 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

It is no surprise that British medical providers - the creators - must be appeased else even these socially-minded Europeans would strike from the system they know to be a travesty on the public. My exhortation to them is, "Revolt brothers!"

The "reformers" even admit that medical innovation would cease under their guidance. Just listen to Reich: "But that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents. Thank you." [1:50]

Dear cousin writes today that she'd like to see everyone work together and "try to find a compromise on health care." Sigh. Where does one begin? The general public, as cousin writes, is "honestly just not that interested." They simply want an end to the dispute.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2009 5:30 PM

October 17, 2009

Pick a Side

Union Thug or "Ignorant" worker?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:44 PM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2009

Obama the forthright

Is President Obama disingenuous? I've been searching for evidence of this to share with a dear cousin who believes that Sarah Palin is, but Barack Obama is not. My handicap is that her chosen news sources are all on television: FOX, KERA, ABC, CBS.

I wonder if this editorial The Baucus Bill is a Tax Bill would make any impression on her?

Most astounding of all is what this Congress is willing to do to struggling middle-class families. The bill would impose nearly $400 billion in new taxes and fees. Nearly 90% of that burden will be shouldered by those making $200,000 or less.

Somewhere between $360,000,000,000 and "one dime" is a broken campaign promise. Unfortunately, it was in a newspaper. Worse yet, on the opinion page.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:26 PM | Comments (6)
But T. Greer thinks:

I would just mention Obama's big campaign pledge -- Anybody in the lowest 95% would have no tax increase. This has not proven to be true. The WSJ ran a nice Op-ed a month or so ago on the subject....

Posted by: T. Greer at October 17, 2009 2:58 AM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps it's in the eye of the beholder, but I see a large disconnect between the promises of post-partisanship and post-racial identity, &c. versus the reailty of bare-knuckle, Chicago, Democratic, we got the votes and don't need-you governance.

Posted by: jk at October 17, 2009 8:05 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Clearly the WSJ is run by right-wing extremists who bitterly cling to guns and religion. They will be the first to go to the Saint Obamus Re-Education Camps for the Economically Insensitive.

Saint Obamus hath promised much unto the 95%, and yea, do any of ye doubt him?

Indeed, the parable of the virgins is now thus:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto twenty virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom, Obamus.

And one was wise, but nineteen were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

But the one wise took oil in her vessel with her lamp.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for me and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And Obamus appeared and said, Verily I say unto you, unfair are you to the others, and I shall take of your oil and redistribute unto them. It mattereth not that you have been faithful and watching, for lo, thou hast been economically insensitive in not giving despite their foolishness.

And so Obamus took her oil, and it being insufficient for the needs of all, soon all their lamps went out and none had any light.

("Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher)

And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, for they realized that Obamus had no light of his own.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 18, 2009 10:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Verily I worry about thee, Brother Perry, but thou mak'st me laugh.

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2009 11:26 AM
But Keith thinks:

King James construction notwithstanding, Brother Perry, that was an outstanding and thoroughly appropriate use of that parable! I would call that positively... inspired...

Posted by: Keith at October 18, 2009 5:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes TG, the "no tax increases for those earning under $250,000" was the campaign pledge I intended to show was false. Although none of these new taxes are part of any legislation that's already passed and been signed by him, is it?

I'm reminded of another campaign pledge - that proposed legislation should be "posted on the internet" for four days prior to a vote to ensure "transparency" and to "hold the government to account." Yeah, right.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2009 1:37 PM

October 13, 2009

If We've Lost Senator Snowe

If we've lost Senator Snowe, we've lost the effete, New England elitist incumbent RINOs who are bent on self-preservation over principle!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091013/ap_on_go_co/us_health_care_overhaul

UPDATE: OH MY GOD! Now Senator Collins! Unbelievable! What a surprise!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

This was the biggest non-surprising story of the day. Who really thought she would NOT go along with this? (Other than people who were shocked at Arlen Specter becoming a Democrat.)

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 13, 2009 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

What's this??? Arlen Specter a Democrat???

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 5:34 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heh, well, let's say you were in a coma starting in 1964, and came out just before he made his announcement.

"What's this??? Arlen Specter was a Republican???"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 13, 2009 8:41 PM

Robert Reich Speaks Truth

Advisor to President Obama and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich describes ObamaCare in a 2007 speech:

Hat-tip: The Humble Libertarian Blog via Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

This is perfect. Are you certain it isn't doctored?

I was compelled to share the link with my family email group, along with this follow-up:

OK all of you pro-healthcare reform family members out there, which of these "realities" would you like to see?

- Health care for young, healthy people is going to cost more.

- No more "technology and drugs" for the very old in the last couple years of your life. "It's too expensive, so we're gonna let you die."

- Less innovation in pharmaceuticals so you won't live any longer than your parents.

That Robert Reich - he's such a hateful tea-bagging redneck!

(Can you believe the audience applause after "we're gonna let you die?" Simply stunning.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 1:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I was concerned as well. But watching Secretary Reich for a few years on Kudlow & Co., it has quite a bit of verisimilitude. It's part of the progressive conceit: you gotta break-some-eggs-to-make-an-omelet.

They cheer because they see life as zero-sum -- and they're not old. That's more life for me! Right?

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2009 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Two words: Logan's Run.

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2009 2:47 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Followed by Soylent Green.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 13, 2009 8:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This speech made it to Rush Limbaugh's show today. JK scooped 'im!

He highlighted the same line that made such an impression on me:

"WE are going to LET you die."

Crap. This means that I am just like Limbaugh... a "bigoted, hateful racist homophobe." How can I face myself after this?!

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2009 6:50 PM

Quote of the Day

Hard to pick from two choices in one WSJ Editorial. The Ed Page chides industry lobbying groups for trying to appease Congress and only now seeing that ObamaCare will not be a great deal for them. Choice one is "and we thought you had to be smart to get into med school," but I think I'll have to go with:

All of these lobbies should have known better. The insurers have been especially foolish, given that ObamaCare has all along been about converting them into public utilities. Washington will design benefits and set prices—and now there's even talk in the House of a windfall profits tax. The CEOs of Aetna, WellPoint, UnitedHealthcare and the rest deserve to be sued for destroying shareholder value through political malpractice. If nothing else, this exercise provides an object lesson in the wisdom of the Washington adage that "if you're not at the table, you're on the menu." The industry is "at the table"—as the main course.

UPDATE: A belated QOTD on the same topic yesterday:
The AMA goes to bed with the Obama administration, and predictably wakes up with fleas. -- Don Luskin

Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2009

Lunch Reform Initiative

Got this via email today. Two months old but still current.

Obama children's private school reforms its lunch policy to be more "fair."

She called the president a racist! HA.

Pretty interesting artsy blog here. iOwnTheWorld.com

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:20 PM | Comments (0)

October 8, 2009

Game Over

Halfway through our victory lap and the starter's gun puts a .38 into our thigh.

Sorry for the tortured metaphor, but I really believed that citizen activism had killed socialized medicine in the United States. We had a great August recess and I thought that reason was going to prevail.

We had August; President Obama has four years. And it's over. Rasmussen polls last week showed support for reform returning, and the new CBO numbers are a death knell. People who are watching Katie Couric instead of reading ThreeSources are hearing that we can cover the uninsured and cut the deficit. Damn, that Obama really is a wiz.

The WSJ headline (again news pages) took me aback: "New Math Boosts Health Plan." I thought that was "new math" as in "if math were a color..." or "how does this differential equation make you feel?" But no, they were talking about the new CBO numbers.

Crisis averted! Our brave legislators have found a way to tax us enough to give us all health care hooray!

UPDATE: Our friends at Heritage are not impressed:

Enter Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) who was determined to manipulate the CBO’s scoring system as best he could and deliver a deficit neutral version of Obamacare. After months of working directly with CBO staff, Baucus scored a victory for Obamacare yesterday when the CBO released a preliminary analysis purporting to show that the Baucus bill would reduce deficits by a total of $81 billion over the next decade. The New York Times awarded Baucus with the headline that the White House has been searching for since the debate first began: “Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis.” But this headline and the accompanying article are fundamentally dishonest. As the Politico reported yesterday: “While the media and lawmakers often shorthand a CBO letter as a “score” or “cost estimate,” today’s CBO letter is neither. Because the bill is still in “conceptual,” or layman’s terms, CBO’s letter today was a “preliminary analysis.” For it to be an official cost estimate, the bill has to be translated into legislative language.”

Okay, so now everybody who follows @Heritage (27,913) are against it and everybody who reads the New York Times...

UPDATE: Insty links to two polls that look much better for the side of liberty: Quinnipiac oppose 47-40 and Pew 47% oppose, 34% favor. Strange, I wonder why AP highlighted the more favorable polls. Probably an oversight.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:33 AM | Comments (5)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I knew it wasn't dead. Baucus said that the lack of a public option was a victory, because as he unequivocally stated, he just wanted something that will pass the Senate.

In other words, he didn't care that he got everything, just that he got something at this stage. The boiled frog doesn't notice the temperature gradually rising, remember?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 11:55 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

By the way, did you see the latest Big Lie? This is as egregious as anything in months.

The health care bill will still cost over $800 billion over the next decade, but it will actually be reducing the deficit!

They will be spending $82.9 billion a year for 10 years, but because there will supposedly be $81 billion total over those ten years cut here and there, they can claim it will "reduce the deficit."

Anyone who claims this is a liar condemned to hell, and anyone who believes this should follow.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 8, 2009 12:08 PM
But Keith thinks:

Bad day to wake up this morning.

Last week, we celebrated the revelation that the hockey stick was broken, and the foundational data for the entire climate-change theory was proved to have been cherry-picked. Armed with this inconvenient truth (sorry, guys, I just had to say it), the conservatives should have been able to drive a wooden stake through the heart of Cap-and-Tax once and for all. This morning, I read that Senate Republicans are caving.

Last week, we watched as the number of people opposed to socialized medicine grew daily, especially among the "strongly opposed" category. Republicans were suddenly in a position to stand their ground and forcefully dig their heels in which the public cheered. Now I read that, because the CBO has fudged the numbers and publicly pretended that Obamalamacare will ONLY cost $829 billion, some within the GOP are ready to once again snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory.

It makes me wonder: exactly at what point will we find ourselves standing on the Old North Bridge? What will it take for Americans to fight back?

Posted by: Keith at October 8, 2009 12:32 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I think what it will take to fight back is a better plan. Congress in the past two decades has simply become the for and the against with the party holding the chairmanships pushing their agenda and the minority railing against it. Competing ideas are crushed early in committee. I am strongly against a government health care plan, but equally strongly against the current system. The day is fast approaching where my only pay raise will be a slightly lower increase in my insurance deduction. If we could spend less time screaming about killing granny and a little more talking sense that would be great. Has the Republican health care plan really been reduced to the birth and death plan – we want you born (no abortion) and we will spare no expense to extend your death, the time in between you are on your own?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 10, 2009 9:19 AM
But jk thinks:

Silence, good to see you. We have devolved into some serious choir preaching because I don't think we have any internecine differences on health care.

Let me step back. I see nothing, nada, zip in the Baucus plan or HR3200 that would make things better. I know that's a bold assertion, but I'll stand by it.

If there were a big messy compromise where we shoveled more money at SCHIP and dictated terms to insurers but allowed interstate purchases, tort reform and a flattening of the tax imbalance between employers and individuals, then we could argue whether it was worth it.

Yet the Democratic advantage allows them to pass a bill that only transfers power to government. Holy cow, even Senator Susan Collins isn't in.

Don't know if I misread your comment about "The Republican Plan." I would say that it has been characterized the way you describe, reduced to that by the opposition but I think the GOP legislators have been pretty good about pushing tort reform, interstate purchases and tax equivalence.

With tort reform, the devil is in the details. It could help reduce defensive medicine. At the same time, suit for redress remains an important right; I am leery of tampering with it.

I'd love to talk less about death panels and abortion and illegal immigrants and I have said that many times on these pages. Yet you must admit that as the government takes over these decisions, all three of these rear their heads as unintended consequences. Gub'mint's buying: do we pick up the tab for Tina from TJ? Unprotected Eunice for Utah? Half a million in experimental surgery for Great grandma?

I'd prefer government made none of those choices and I consider it the least important part of the debate (We're going to give up our liberty as long as we don't pay for abortions?). But if government is going to decide, why can't people ask what the decisions would be?

The status quo has some serious flaws. But we've seen Congress break a million things as they rush to "do something!" And I feel we risk ruining one of the greatest most innovative and most important industries ever.

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2009 11:50 AM

October 7, 2009

Citizens vs. Subjects

Robert E. Moffit of the Heritage Foundation provides: a good look at the freedom implications of an individual mandate, versus its efficacy in "At What Cost To Freedom?: Obama's Individual Mandate Is a Bad Idea."

Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has unveiled a Senate Finance Committee draft that also has an individual mandate. It would levy a penalty of up to $3,800 on families for what the president calls "irresponsible behavior," by which he means health-care choices of which he disapproves. In Obama's usage, "personal responsibility" is selective; it doesn't extend to the question of taking responsibility for one's health care. That's the government's job. Of course, federal officials will have outside help in deciding for the rest of us. Powerful special-interest groups and health-industry lobbyists will do all they can to make sure that their favored medical treatments, procedures, drugs, and devices are part of the "bare minimum" that every plan must include.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2009

You're Ruining Health Care for This?

The only argument the left has for ObamaCare is the idea of near universal coverage. I would not trade quality, innovation and privacy for it, mind you, but it is compelling to suggest that most every American would be covered.

Well, except for 25 million. WSJ (News pages, not my wingnut buddies)

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that an earlier version of the Senate Finance bill would ensure health insurance for 91% of Americans -- leaving about 25 million people without coverage. The CBO's estimates for the latest version of the bill are due out this week; it is expected to cover fewer people. About 85% of Americans currently have health insurance.

The industry concerns illustrate one tension at the heart of the latest Senate bill. Key industries bought into the measure -- and agreed to absorb cuts in reimbursements -- on the expectation that millions of new customers would be brought into the health-care system. The weaker the mandate to buy insurance, the fewer the new customers.

In addition, if the bill leaves many Americans without coverage, that would undermine President Barack Obama's goal of bringing near-universal health insurance to the U.S.


The thesis of the article is that many of the industry players who went along because they stood to gain from universal coverage are now realizing that they get the full pro quo without so much of the quid.

I don't think any ThreeSourcer will cry as the rent-seekers are hoisted on their own petard (ow!). But I suggest that the supporters are losing their only convincing argument. We are going to go from 40 million to 25 million uninsured -- and this is worth destroying the whole system?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:06 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith thinks:

Jussaminnitt.

The new Obamalacare plan will cover all but 25 million Americans? The last number I heard, there were presently only 30 million Americans without coverage (43 million only if you include "persons-of-questionable-and-potentially-spurious-documentation*"). So we're supposed to be mortgaging our future and signing over our souls to the nannystate in return for the minor uptick of five million persons, who will join the rest of us in having crappy medical services rationed out to us by the Obamalacare czars.

Talk about the law of diminishing returns - with a vengeance!

* (Euphemism to avoid an undesired tangent working its way into this thread)

Posted by: Keith at October 6, 2009 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

* You mean we're not covering Linux users?

Posted by: jk at October 6, 2009 5:55 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Touche, JK! That would be referring to the Linuxem, who are here illegally from Linuxembourg.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 6, 2009 6:49 PM
But Keith thinks:

Score one for jk - I see I walked into that one, and I'm sure there's a joke out there whose syntax starts with:

man Obamalamacare

And I seriously doubt THAT man page would have undocumented placeholders or would be distributed to the community without first having been read by those responsible for its creation.

That being said, if I wanted Obamalamacare, I could compile it myself from the source code.

Posted by: Keith at October 6, 2009 6:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Like Global Warming the supposed goal has been redefined. In this case, from "insure everyone" to "affordable for everyone and no pre-existing condition limitations." (And all hospitals will smell like honey and roses from now on...)

But in the end, no, they're not destroying health care for any of these things. They're doing it because American health care must be destroyed because it makes all of the government systems of the world look so bad by comparison.

Posted by: johngalt at October 7, 2009 1:26 PM

Silly Ronnie's Revenge

Referencing Paul Krugman's astonishment that Ronald Reagan "was a fierce opponent of Medicare's creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.)" I would turn your attention to a WSJ Editorial today: The War on Specialists.

My friends continually tell me my fears are overblown and "nobody is talking about a government takeover." Umm, what do you call this then?

The chunks Team Obama took out of cardiology RVUs are especially drastic. The basic tools of heart specialists—echocardiograms (stress tests) and catheterizations—are slashed by 42% and 24%, respectively. Jack Lewin, who heads the American College of Cardiology, said in an interview that the crackdown will cause "a horrible disruption" that will force many community and independent practices to close their doors, lay off staff or make senior patients wait days or weeks for tests and services.

Cancer doctors get hit because the Administration believes specialists order too many MRIs and CT scans. Certain kinds of diagnostic imaging lose 24%.


These are Medicare changes right out of the Baucus bill. Senators will decide, and in the wisdom of the world's most deliberative body, Cancer and Heart Disease are clearly the best places to cut costs.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, if EPA is "wise" enough to discover that the gas which nourishes all plant life is a pollutant then why question the health care wisdom of Congress?

Do these folks have a PhD in Omnibenevolent Omniscience? I guess I chose the wrong subject in which to major.

Posted by: johngalt at October 6, 2009 1:34 PM

September 20, 2009

The Good News, the Bad News

The Good News: James Pethokoukis: Awful Healthcare Poll for the White House

– 37 percent understand the president’s plan
– 17 percent believe the plan is deficit neutral
– 20 percent believe funding will come from a fine on the wealthy.
– 32 percent actually support the president’s plan
– 40 percent have no idea how is being paid for
– 34 percent think everyone other than Congress will be pushed into public plan

Bad News: Megan McArdle, they're going to do it anyway, even though it will cost them the House.
I assume that the CBO is going to score all these largely imaginary savings, and that this will make it very hard to keep the bill from passing, because legislators are, natch, more concerned about the appearance of fiscal rectitude than actual conservative budgeting. Conservatives can, and should, raise the reasons to believe that hits bill will cost more than its CBO score allows. But frankly, the public is probably going to accept the CBO numbers.

I think that ramming through the bill on a party line vote makes it very likely that the Democrats will lose the house in 2010; the American public doesn't like uniparty votes, especially on something this controversial. A lot of liberals have gotten angry at me for saying this, but it's not a normative statement; it's an observation.

In the middle: Jude@HughHewitt.com is a bit more optimistic that legislators will save their own skin:

Rasmussen reports 56% of likely voters now oppose the reforms President Obama is threatening to push upon them, and when you look at the "Strongly Oppose"(44%) vs. "Strongly Favor"(24%) the picture is even bleaker in terms of public support for this broad, governmental takeover of the health sector. Still, this is not the time to get complacent, because His Royal Self is going to flood the weekend airwaves with his toothy smile and reassuring rhetoric, appearing on five Sunday morning network shows (excluding FOX) and then Letterman on Monday night

Me? I share McArdle's fear that the Democrats are completely "all in" and they have the votes. ObamaCare it is -- I just hope they pay the hefty price. I guess that makes your ThreeSources optimist more pessimistic than the other three. Of course, McArdle is not cheered by a 2010 House turnover. It would be a bad trade for ObamaCare, but it would be something.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Let's assume that the 37% who said they understand it actually do understand it.

Clearly, the next two lines, though they add up to the same 37%, cannot possibly be people who truly understand it.

However, the "34 percent [who] think everyone other than Congress will be pushed into public plan" are a subset of those who truly understand it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2009 2:53 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


> Democrats are completely "all in"

Lucky for us, they're dubiously being lead by Pelosi who can't maintain a clear course (witness 5, count'em FIVE proposals sloughing around). I think Blue Dogs have been lead astray a time too many (stimulus, budget...) and are just as likely to being their own set of howling.

Obam-UH (as my best friend calls him) is similarly sloppy with his diction, direction and decisions.

Fingers crossed, as many as I can wrap around one knuckle.

Posted by: nanobrewer at September 20, 2009 8:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Hope you're right, nb. If the Broncos are 2-0, I am starting to believe anything can happen. And like my beloved "Donks," we benefit from less-than-world-class opposition.

Perry, you made it farther than I did at subdivision. A lot of those numbers seem self-contradictory. But I agree with Jimmy P that they all sound pretty bad for the Administration.

Posted by: jk at September 21, 2009 10:25 AM

September 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

I have often wondered at the smugness at which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind -- yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? ... Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it -- and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't. -- Ayn Rand, in an obscure novel call Atlas Shrugged.
Hat-tip: Paul Hsieh: Is Your Doctor Getting Ready to Quit?
Posted by John Kranz at 5:48 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent companion to my prior post. Huzzah!

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 8:06 PM
But jk thinks:

I like the quote a lot, but will no doubt incur the wrath of my blog brothers when I admit that I do not remember the character of Dr. Thomas Hendricks in "Atlas." Was he the one who shot J.R.?

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2009 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

He's clearly not one of the more memorable ones. And there were so many you may be forgiven for remembering them only as "that doctor who went on strike" or "that bum that was almost kicked off the train." The names are too numerous and serve mostly to, in my opinion, give an insight into the character of the individual e.g. "Wesley Mouch." With a name like that he could have founded ACORN.

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2009 7:51 PM

Can we talk about healthcare reform?

In a family email dialog about healthcare reform my brother asked a first cousin once removed: "I can't believe that you would be supportive of socialized medicine - are you?"

The cousin replied,

"Generally speaking yes I am. Although I don't think any of the proposals on the table are perfect.

But you shouldn't be worried. Even if a perfect bill was drafted, it won't pass. Politicians are incapable of getting tough things done."

What follows is my contribution to the thread. It's important to first note that the cousin and his wife (the first cousin not-removed) both happen to work in the airline industry.

You know, it's interesting that you say that. I happen to support socialized air travel. I think that everyone should be able to get the same access to free jet trips whenever they need them, regardless of their ability to pay. I believe that air travel is a right and that people who provide it should not make such an obscene profit! I am sure that airfares would be much lower if there was a single payer system so that efficiencies and economies of scale could come into play. In addition, it is absolutely unconscionable that the super rich can fly in first-class comfort simply because they happen to have so much more money than anyone else. I think that first-class service should be abolished so that coach will be available for more flyers at the same total cost. And who on earth thinks that the elderly should be flying? Those people have lived full and rich lives already. We need to leave the thrill and growth opportunities that flying offers for younger people who will get more “adventure memory years” from each flight than those geriatrics would.

And before you ask, no, I don't support socialized engineering services. Engineers are highly trained professionals who have taken the individual initiative to learn the specialized skills and principles that they apply to important needs of society. By taking away the right of individual engineers to offer their services on a free market at the highest price that any customer is willing to pay him the excellent engineers will have no incentive to work harder and more ingeniously than the sad-sack chair-warming engineers do. The result would be that the engineering profession as a whole, and all of the productive enterprises that depend on engineering excellence would be crippled with mediocrity and malaise.

Fortunately I am quite certain that the politicians in Washington, responding to the clear and complete understanding of the distinctions between air travel and engineering, would never dream of applying the same centralized government control over the wages and careers of engineers that I am advocating for airline corporations and their money grubbing employees. Yeah, just them ... and the doctors. Leave us engineers - and the lawyers - alone.

I'm glad to hear you're on board!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Well, I laughed -- and bet that the ThreeSources choir gave up some halleluiahs.

But airlines are a tough sector, and if cuz is already predilected to accept ObamaCare, I bet your plan sounds pretty good.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2009 7:10 PM

The Innovation Tax

I posted last week that it was ingenious for the health care reform bill to stop innovation so that it would not have to pay for it when the bills are going to the people that passed it. A Wall Street Journal editorial shows "How Max Baucus knifed the medical devices industry."

Supposedly the Senate’s version of ObamaCare was written by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, but we’re beginning to wonder if the true authors were Abbott and Costello. The vaudeville logic of the plan is that Congress will tax health care to subsidize people to buy health care that new taxes and regulation make more expensive.

Look no further than the $40 billion "fee" that Mr. Baucus wants to impose on medical devices and diagnostic equipment. Device manufacturers would pay $4 billion a year in excise taxes, divvied up among them based on U.S. sales. This translates to an annual income tax surcharge anywhere from 10% to 30%, depending on the corporation.


I'll do something I criticize others for. I'm sick of the town hall criers who personalize every issue and cry on candidates' shoulders to get promises of help in (usually collectivist) policy.

But I will personalize this with some good news. I am in the early stages of trying a Bioness machine and early results are promising. This machine senses pressure in my heel and gives me a zap of current at the right time to walk. It might replace a clunky plastic Ankle Foot Orthotic (AFO) that I have worn since I was diagnosed with MS in 2003. Or I might wear it on my "good leg" to improve its function.

Time will tell -- but it was fun to see my foot moving on its power, even if Skynet was controlling it.

The political point is that this machine costs a kazillion dollars. My wife is looking at a hand version and, while they've been too chicken to give me a price yet, it's clear that if we both bought one it would bump up GDP a couple notches next quarter. It would be pretty tempting for government to give a guy a plastic AFO (only $600!) but it is the difference between real walking and umm, whatever it is I do. Let's not tax these guys out of existence.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:13 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Amen ditto.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 3:16 PM

Profoundly Unconstitutional

Can we start an adverb of the day feature? Here's a must read guest editorial from David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey

Federal legislation requiring that every American have health insurance is part of all the major health-care reform plans now being considered in Washington. Such a mandate, however, would expand the federal government’s authority over individual Americans to an unprecedented degree. It is also profoundly unconstitutional.
[...]
The elephant in the room is the Constitution. As every civics class once taught, the federal government is a government of limited, enumerated powers, with the states retaining broad regulatory authority. As James Madison explained in the Federalist Papers: "[I]n the first place it is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects." Congress, in other words, cannot regulate simply because it sees a problem to be fixed. Federal law must be grounded in one of the specific grants of authority found in the Constitution.

Amen.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, if the three branches of the federal government followed those rules we would see some real howls about their inability to "get things done." Those Constitutionalist guys must be crazy!

(tongue -> cheek)

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2009 3:14 PM
But outragedpeople thinks:

Rivkin is going to be on Fox and Friends weekend tomorrow, discussing this issue in the final half hour. Don't know if they're taking calls, but you might give it a try.

Posted by: outragedpeople at September 18, 2009 9:31 PM

September 17, 2009

Professor Mankiw Translates CBO-ese

The CBO scores the Baucus Plan favorably over the next decade (whereupon it spirals out of control). But the scheme of tax-for-ten to pay-for-seven fools the Congressional Budget Office.

Mankiw provides an excerpt from the text and adds this handy translation:

Let me try to put CBO's point in a more familiar setting:

Your friend Joe, who says he want to lose weight, asks you for an extra slice of pie after dinner. Naturally, you are doubtful about the wisdom of the request.

"Ahem, Joe," you whisper, "Aren't there a lot of calories in that?"

"Yes," he says, "but the pie is part of a larger plan. I am committed not only to eating that slice of pie but also to going to the gym every day for the next week and spending at least half a hour on the treadmill. The exercise will more than work off those extra calories."

"But that's what you said last week, when you asked for an extra piece of cake. And you never made it to the gym."

"Yes, I know," Joe replies ruefully, "but this time I really mean it....Can you please pass the pie?"


Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2009

John Galt MD

That's Professor Reynolds's headline for an IBD Editorial. (If I saw brother JG with a rubber glove, I would run for the hills.)

The link was also sent to me by a physician friend, who wishes retirement were an option. "In addition to the restrictions Obamacare will impose on the level care I can provide, the deleterious effect on medical innovation, and the decrease in salary, I am sure it will also bring an avalanche of new paperwork and busywork that will make me less productive and more frustrated. A mid-life career change is sounding more appealing every day."

Disturbing that the President got the AMA on board early -- the illusion is well set that the medical community is firmly behind him. But the IBD Ed Page begs to differ:

Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted, a new IBD/TIPP Poll has found.

The poll contradicts the claims of not only the White House, but also doctors' own lobby — the powerful American Medical Association — both of which suggest the medical profession is behind the proposed overhaul.

It also calls into question whether an overhaul is even doable; 72% of the doctors polled disagree with the administration's claim that the government can cover 47 million more people with better-quality care at lower cost.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Presently the citizens of Canada routinely travel to America to pay cash for medical treatment they can't get "for free" in their own country. I have a question for your physician friend: If our government starts rationing care and slashing provider reimbursements can't you envision a massive "back-alley" medical industry popping up, with physicians making house calls for cash using either a fee-for-service or subscription service payment plan?

I find it ironic that the procedure likely to be least rationed under the future "health care utopia" we're being tempted with is the safe, legal and "rare" abortion. They may not seem so rare when compared to, say, diagnostic MRI's or hernia repairs.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2009 5:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, and I DO have rubber gloves by the way. Fear not - I use them only for painting.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2009 5:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe ACORN could set up little illegal clinics staffed with young Guatemalan physicians.

The medical tourism thing might really take off though -- Costa Rican and Indian facilities.

Posted by: jk at September 16, 2009 6:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My question for your physician friend was 100% serious. It falls under the heading, "You can't elimnate the human yearning for liberty by making it illegal." Examples abound throughout history: Prohibition; Slavery; USSR.

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2009 12:21 PM

September 15, 2009

A Nepolitano Trifecta

Andrew Napolitano three-fers in the WSJ Ed Page today:

1) He questions whether ObamaCare is Constitutional. I have been driven crazy by the lack of time and space devoted to this in the commentary. But then again, with Representatives like Mister Clyburn...

Last week, I asked South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, where in the Constitution it authorizes the federal government to regulate the delivery of health care. He replied: "There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do." Then he shot back: "How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?"

[dramatic pause. Repeat. "How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?" ]

2) He preemptively demolishes the lame "Commerce Clause" response we are all expecting in the event any of them ever actually do have to defend it.

Applying these principles to President Barack Obama's health-care proposal, it's clear that his plan is unconstitutional at its core. The practice of medicine consists of the delivery of intimate services to the human body. In almost all instances, the delivery of medical services occurs in one place and does not move across interstate lines. One goes to a physician not to engage in commercial activity, as the Framers of the Constitution understood, but to improve one's health. And the practice of medicine, much like public school safety, has been regulated by states for the past century.

3) He answers my concern that I was undermining my belief in Federalism by seeking interstate trade in insurance
The same Congress that wants to tell family farmers what to grow in their backyards has declined "to keep regular" the commercial sale of insurance policies. It has permitted all 50 states to erect the type of barriers that the Commerce Clause was written precisely to tear down. Insurers are barred from selling policies to people in another state.

That's right: Congress refuses to keep commerce regular when the commercial activity is the sale of insurance, but claims it can regulate the removal of a person's appendix because that constitutes interstate commerce.


Not bad for a brief column.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:07 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Napolitano is a hero of mine. I nominate him for President Brother Keith's Attorney General.

Posted by: johngalt at September 15, 2009 1:34 PM
But Keith thinks:

He's already passed one of my litmus tests - a right proper smackdown of the abuse of the Commerce Clause.

"There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do." True enough - of course, were an honorable man to say that (a qualification which unfortunately eliminates most of Congress), his next words would be "... and therefore we need to stop doing those things."

"How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?" Answer: Amendment Ten, in case you've never bothered to read it, Congressman Nitwit.

Posted by: Keith at September 16, 2009 7:44 PM

September 14, 2009

Smarter Than I Thought

Really, I should give the Obama Administration more credit. Call it what you will (I choose "evil"), this goes beyond incompetence: paying for the new health care entitlement with a huge surtax on medical devices. You not only raise revenue, but you keep them from coming out with all those expensive new life-saving devices that cost so much. Tigerhawk:

This tax would be without regard to profitability, so it would amount to a capital tax on start-ups and a massive income tax surcharge on profitable companies, varying as net margins do. In the case of my own mid-sized company, the tax would be the equivalent of a roughly 20% surcharge on our net income (in all likelihood raising our economic tax rate well above 50%) or 50% of our research and development budget, depending on how you want to look at it.

Any way you look at it, the proposed tax is a calculated effort to divert capital from the medical technology industry to other uses in the economy, because new medical technology drives costs that are now going to be assumed by the government (or at least will be if the Senate leadership gets its way). Of course, innovative medtech also extends and saves lives, and makes them more comfortable and more productive. Which is, after all, the point of medicine.


No sir, the point of medicine is reelection and incumbency. You'd think a smart feller would figure that out...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Medicine operates under the Hippocratic Oath which states: "First, do no harm [to the patient.]"

Government operates under the Hypocritical Oath which states, "First, do no harm [to the established bureaucracy.]"

For the life of me I cannot imagine a beneficial way to combine the two - medicine and government - but Paul "The Troll" Krugman gives it a try.

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2009 2:36 PM

September 13, 2009

Brother's Keeper

In April I made a case for Sarah Palin to embrace her Christian morality but to denounce imposing it on everyone through the power of the state. Contemporaneously I commented on another blog, though I can't find it at present, to advise a fellow commenter that among the Christian principles she espoused, altruism is used by the statists to justify their athiestic brand of collectivism.

On the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, President Barack Obama took another step toward proving me right.

We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That "most simple of rules" will come in mighty handy during debates over publicly funded health care, won't it?

No, mister president, I don't agree. To every man I meet - in my town, in my country, in the world - I can tell him I am his brother, but not his keeper. Nor is he mine.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:09 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

And most people don't realize that Obama wants to make you your brother's keeper, without shouldering any of the responsibility himself.

He could inspire people, set an example, etc., but then again we don't need to elect a "president" for that.

"It is, indeed, important to notice that my argument so far supposes no evil intentions on the part of the Humanitarian and considers only what is involved in the logic of his position. My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be 'cured' against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we 'ought to have known better', is to be treated as a human person made in God's image." - C.S. Lewis

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 13, 2009 8:20 PM

September 12, 2009

At last, a long-term thinker!

I wondered about this remark in the President's speech last Wednesday:

If we can successfully slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.

"Can that be right," wonders I? Surely the POTUS has some figures to back that up. If that's true, than the Peter Orzag scenario has some foundation.

Ed Morrissey gets a little help from King Banaian, whom he describes as "everybody's favorite economist." With all die respect, I have lots of favorite economists. But Banaian concedes this is true. Providing that your idea of long term is more than 363 years.

In a ten-year window, even if Obama delivered what he promised twice this week, it would save a grand total of $33 billion dollars — and that’s for the whole industry. If the government covered a third of the costs, the total deficit reduction over ten years drops to a mere $11 billion dollars. At that rate, how long will the “long run” need to be to save $4 trillion dollars in deficit spending? It would have to be 363 years and five months.

As John Maynard Keynes said "in the long run we'll all be dead." But who cares as your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren cross that $4Trillion savings mark. It will be a proud day for the republic and will cement President Obama's legacy.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2009

What could Possibly Go Wrong?

A Don Surber reader:

Let me get this straight.

We’re going to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose head says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it but exempts themselves from it, signed by a president that also hasn’t read it, and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s nearly broke.

What possibly could go wrong?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:18 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2009

Dear Senators Udall and Bennet

Sent to both today. If the President is just going to repeat his position, I don't see why I shouldn't.

I watched the President's speech last night and remain unconvinced that the current proposals for reform will have positive outcomes.

The President claims that his opponents are lying or do not understand -- yet he never concedes there are several valid objections to current proposals.

Whether the government is going into the insurance business or dictating terms for current providers (or, my fear, both at the same time), this will retard innovation in both funding and treatment.

His assertion that it can be paid for out of waste seems contrary to the history of government projects and publicly run entities.

Medical records are my most private personal documents and I do not trust government to manage them properly. The news has lately been full of incidents of compromised access to government records in passports and elsewhere.

Lastly, President Madison famously asked a legislator to "lay his finger on the part of the Constitution" that allowed the government to undertake internal improvements.

This level of intervention in our most private affairs requires such a stretch of Constitutional purviews, that the document becomes only fit for defining the minimum ages of office-holders.

Please vote against any legislation that increases government involvement in health care.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | Comments (7)
But Terri thinks:

Did you see this?
http://blogs.dailymail.com/donsurber/2009/09/10/9948/

Bennett and Udall have been called to task for questioning current proposals.

Posted by: Terri at September 10, 2009 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Nice, Terri. My respect for them just doubled (from 3% to six, but they gotta love the slope!)

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2009 4:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I wonder how many people who tuned in last night exclaimed, "Gee, now that you lie to me that way I totally agree. Why didn't you lie to me that way in the firstplace? All those other lies were a complete waste of both of our time!"

SSDD (same "stuff" different day)

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2009 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Follwing up on Terri's link I'd ask my Colorado blog brothers and sisters to contact both of their Senators to support the actions that got them called into the principal's office.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2009 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Done and done.

Dear Senator [Udall or Bennet],

I just finished reading a report by Jake Tapper of ABC News that said you are one of sixteen Democratic senators who "have expressed concern about if not downright opposition to key elements of President Obama's health care proposals, particularly his push for a government-run public health care option..." and that you were "summoned to the White House" for a meeting with the president.

I am writing to commend you on your independence from the coercive threats of party leadership in their reckless and unconstitutional rush to turn so many of America's ideals upside down. You seem to know in your heart that despite the impressive and persuasive rhetoric of the president, many of his policy goals are just plain "wrong."

According to Edward S. Ellis in his book 'The Life of Colonel David Crockett' a farmer named Horatio Bunce in then Senator Crockett's home state of Tennessee expressed his displeasure with one of the senator's floor votes thusly:

"But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is."

Again, thank you for your independent thinking and please remember that like those of you who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, a majority of Americans hold that foundational document of our government higher than they do any particular political party.

Sincerely,
Eric Rinard
Fort Lupton, CO

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2009 12:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Awesome -- thanks!

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2009 4:36 PM

Quote of the Day

It's early yet, but this opening sentence of an Examiner Editorial is pretty solid:

President Obama’s address to Congress and the nation Wednesday evening was yet another illustration of his seemingly endless ability to soar to genuinely impressive rhetorical heights without ever landing back on truthful ground.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:43 AM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Sometimes the prevarications were so obvious that not even the president's most ardent supporters – like the news staff of The New York Times - had to concede that he was playing fast and loose with the facts.
Now that says a lot.
"That is technically true,” the Times carefully admitted, "but there is a real possibility that existing policies could change as a result of the legislation. The government, for instance, would set new standards, and employers that already offer insurance would have to bring their plans into compliance."
We already saw on the campaign trail that Obama has exceeded the singular characteristic of Soviet Russian rhetoric: lying by telling a truth. (Something that Star Trek TNG used well when modeling Romulans after Soviet Russia.)

You can keep your plan and your doctor, it's true -- Obama didn't say anything about not forcing changes to your plan, or restricting your doctor.

Obama said "no federal dollars" will fund abortions under his proposal and "the reforms I am proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."
And amnesty is on the table for next year, so it will have plenty of time before Obama's socialized destruction of our health care system begins in 2013. Redefining someone from "illegal" to "legal" is just a matter of new law.

But even without that, Hispanic advocacy groups like La Raza are so wholeheartedly for this plan (that won't cover illegals, remember) that they're saying if it passes, they won't push for amnesty. To clarify what they're saying, they won't bother to push for amnesty. Do you have to wonder why for more than a second?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 10, 2009 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

I am concerned, Perry, that a shift of focus to abortion or immigration shifts the focus to what the President can sell as "partisan objections."

The government is going to take over 17% of GDP, have unprecedented access to my private information, and will be in a position to make life or death decisions. If the discussion gets sidetracked to "will we fund abortion?" or "will we fund care for non-citizens?" then we have lost.

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2009 12:05 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Here here!

I have been saying that a lot lately, haven't I?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 10, 2009 8:55 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, you know me well enough that I see it as only part of the whole. I'm just saying it's another of the myriad lies being thrown at the American people, who are stupid enough to think "health care should be free, we're rich enough."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 10, 2009 9:47 PM
But jk thinks:

@tg: you're the scholar, is it "Here here!" or "Hear hear!"

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2009 12:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Hear, hear!" It's a reference to our auditory sense.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 11, 2009 6:28 PM

September 9, 2009

Obamacare: The Movie

This thought occurred to me last week, but I can't claim to be the first: The futuristic scenario painted by the Obamacare proposal, H.B. 3200 is remarkably similar to the 1972 sci-fi film 'Soylent Green.' Rick Carpenter at "Right Wing vs. The Wingnuts" blog posted his take last month:

What is interesting to me is that in the movie, the euthenasia of old people is a government-run program. Under ObamaCare, we are starting with 'death panels'.

What is discovered about the food product Soylent Green at the end of the movie seems far-fetched, in that they used the remains of the dead to produce the food wafers. I use the word 'seems' instead of 'is', because the Obama administration has already done some things that are so far-fetched and corrupt that I can't put anything outside the boundaries of their morals (lack), their conscience (lack), their defense of the Constitution (betrayal), or their love for the sovereignty of America (hatred).

Think Rick and I are just two of the strange ones? Jonah Goldberg is nearly with us.

Now, I don’t think Soylent Green-style solutions are coming down the pike. (...) But every nationalized health-care system to one degree or another rations care based on the quality of life and number of “life years” a procedure will yield. That’s perfectly reasonable. If you put me in charge of everyone’s health care, I would do that, too. That’s a really good argument for not giving me — or anyone else — that power.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:38 PM | Comments (0)

"Don't break things up in the name of progress..."

President Obama is scheduled to lecture congress this evening. First, let's watch Sgt. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon lecture him.

"Show me how to get rid of the unlimited capacity for human beings to make themselves believe that they're somehow right and justified in stealing from somebody."

Circa 1950?

Oh, and Happy 09/09/09. (It doesn't deserve its own post, but just so's everyone knows we noticed...)

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 6, 2009

Rep. Mike Rogers

A good politician in Michigan -- who knew? I am not familiar with Rep. Rogers, but there are some good parts in this speech:

Hat tip Right Minded Online, via an email link from a high school friend on Facebook. Mark A. Rose of Right Minded Online seems to Phillies fan. This may interest some ThreeSourcers.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

The reason cancer survival rates are lower in Canada and the UK than in the US is because their governments suffer from a philosophical cancer: altruism. Ours is also so afflicted, but not yet terminal. Obama represents the metastasis. Only the power of American individualism and our desire to sustain the Constitution can achieve the life-saving remission.

Three Sources fact check:

According to wikiquote the phrase, "You can't make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak" was misattributed to Lincoln in 1942 and no less than Ronald Reagan has repeated the misattribution. It comes from "The Ten Cannots" by William J. H. Boetcker (a German immigrant).

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Posted by: johngalt at September 7, 2009 10:12 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee doesn't care if he attributed the quote to Joe Biden. After a speech like that, Mike Rogers for President! Talk about clean and articulate...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 8, 2009 7:57 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

National Health Care - as in private insurance companies who can compete directly for our business at a national level. Who's with me! I'll even buy it from that annoying gecko.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 9, 2009 1:00 AM
But jk thinks:

As usual, Silence, in an odd-number year we agree completely. Mister Buffet and his little lizard are indeed the answer. You buy your own health insurance online and you visit the nurse practitioners in Walgreen’s, CVS and Walmart for routine care. To get the bill signed, I'll even go for refundable tax credits to help low income workers afford it.

Kum. Bay. A.

(I don't even mind the gecko, except that every one of his is one fewer of the Geico cavemen spots -- truly the best commercials of all time.)

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2009 10:51 AM

Dead Horse?

toon090409.gif

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:16 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I just fear this particular dead horse will rise up and bite us in the ass.

They'll pitch the public option and some of the more expensive items, this will give the blue dogs and moderate republicans cover to support a bill full of mandates and expanded government coverage.

They'll abandon their dream of getting there in one bill, but the "compromise" will put more people on public health care, make it harder for private insurers and take the crazy whacked hybrid system even further from the free market.

Victory laps all around -- and the next time the collectivists are in power it will be easier to kill off the last little bit of free market medicine.

Hsppy Labor Day from Mister Optimist!

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2009 11:32 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Pelosi said a few days ago that she could support a bill without a public option, as long as it's "mandated" in "the future."

A few weeks ago, I left this comment on someone's blog, when it first appeared that Obama was backing off:

Don't open the champagne just yet. Here's what will happen:

1. The public option will be dropped to make the bill more palatable, to gain "bipartisan support."

2. The new bill will regulate insurers so much that they'll be driven out of business by these "consumer-owned nonprofit cooperatives." Here is the Trojan horse. If these "cooperatives," which will be seeded by tax dollars, are not a "public option," then what are they?

3. VoilĂ , Obama & Co. will say, "Now we definitely need a public option to replace the lack of coverage that private insurers can no longer provide." The "cooperatives" will be expanded and given carte blanche with tax dollars.

It's not hard to foresee this. We know the tricks well enough.Nothing, and I mean nothing that Obama and his thugs do should surprise us. We've seen it all before, not from Obama, but in every bad thing ever done by any president. And he's only been in office for just over seven months!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 6, 2009 9:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ah blah, I forgot to put blockquote tags around 2, 3 and 4, and up to "We know the tricks well enough." You all can still understand what I'm saying, though.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 6, 2009 9:03 PM

September 2, 2009

Lee Marvin Health Care

A new study published today by the National Changing Diabetes Program deals another blow to the Obamacare myth that increased preventive medical care will lead to long-term health cost savings. From the Washington Post:

Using data from long-standing clinical trials, researchers projected the cost of caring for people with Type 2 diabetes as they progress from diagnosis to various complications and death. Enrolling federally-insured patients in a simple but aggressive program to control the disease would cost the government $1,024 per person per year -- money that largely would be recovered after 25 years through lower spending on dialysis, kidney transplants, amputations and other forms of treatment, the study found.

However, except for the youngest diabetics, the additional services would add to overall health spending, not decrease it, the study shows.

This is consistent with CBO findings reported earlier this month, says WaPo. "In its own analysis of preventive care, CBO said earlier this month that the cost of making cancer screening, cholesterol management and other services broadly available is likely to far outweigh any savings ultimately generated."

"There's no free lunch here" said Michael J. O'Grady, a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. [No kidding!]

I enjoyed the summation of this news by FNC's Stuart Varney this morning: "It's basically saying that if you drink a pint of vodka and three packs of cigarettes a day and die at 50 your medical care will cost less than if you take care of yourself and live to 85."

So if lawmakers really want to lower overall healthcare costs they should be mandating this, which I dub - the Lee Marvin * Healthcare Plan.

* An iconic and accomplished actor - one of my all time favorites. A man's man who, though he may have been more careful in life, did more than his share of drinkin' and smokin' on the screen.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:11 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I was bo-orn, under a wand'rin' star...

Yeah, I'm in.

Posted by: jk at September 3, 2009 12:22 PM

August 28, 2009

Quote of the Day

Brother Johngalt's representative, I believe:

"There's going to be some people who are going to have to give up some things, honestly, for all of this to work, but we have to do this because we're Americans." -- Rep Betsy Markey (D - CO)

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Correctamundo. We're so proud!!

Thanks for bringing me the quote. Now I can juxtapose it with this one from a campaign mailer before the election. And I quote:

"I promise... I'll always fight to protect your hard-earned money."

(That was so instantly recongnizable as complete bullcrap that I've saved the mailer to this day.)

There were two other pre-election promises there but neither one of them was "I promise I'll make sure that some Americans will have to give up some things."

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2009 3:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Don't you remember?

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good." - Hillary Clinton, 2004

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2009 9:14 PM

August 27, 2009

Showing ID at Townhalls

Awesome.

How dare you ask for ID at the polling place. How dare you. You racist.

But we have to show ID before asking a question of the !@#$!@ we voted for?


This whole townhall endeavor is not going well for the Democrats.

Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, for the record.

(tip to JWF)

Posted by AlexC at 11:15 PM | Comments (3)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Seeing that he wants us to prove that we have the freedom of speech and the right to redress, perhaps he in support of us showing ID at the voting booth too. Right?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 28, 2009 10:58 AM
But jk thinks:

I apologize for mdmh, I had no idea we had a racist here.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2009 11:12 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And I apologize for jk not recognizing that, like "climate change denier" the term "racist" is a badge of honor. But by racist I mean human racist.

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2009 3:07 PM

August 26, 2009

Eleventh Amendment As Tort Reform

This great, VA service is coming soon to a hospital near you:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease.

One of the leaders of a Gulf War veterans group says panicked veterans from Alabama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming have contacted the group about the error.

Denise Nichols, the vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, says the VA is blaming a coding error for the mistake.


From Don Luskin who pairs it with a Paul Krugman endorsement.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

And this is the government that they want to manage medical care for all the rest of us. Vote of "no confidence," anyone?

Posted by: Keith at August 26, 2009 1:20 PM

Dear Leader Reid

A good idea from Hugh Hewitt:


$25 to defeat you, Senator Reid. I have MS and cannot believe that the Federal Government will do better at innovation than the free market.

Thank you for your time,
John Kranz

-----------------------------------------
Danny Tarkanian for Senate

P.O. Box 751271
Las Vegas, NV 89136

Email : contribution@tark2010.org

Thanks for Your Payment


Payment Detail Item Name Price Quantity Total
My Donation $25.00 1 $25.00
Subtotal $25.00


Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2009

Soldiers defending the Constitution

After defending against foreign enemies those domestic threats are just so much tissue paper. Hoo RAH.

This one may have been posted here before, but just in case...

Jeez, what is it with these soldiers and their "talking points" about the Constitution?

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:56 PM | Comments (0)

Joe!

Senator Lieberman suggests that the President back off a bit.

WASHINGTON – An independent senator counted on by Democrats in the health care debate showed signs of wavering Sunday when he urged President Barack Obama to postpone many of his initiatives because of the economic downturn.

"I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy's out of recession," said Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. "There's no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started. And I think the place to start is cost health delivery reform and insurance market reforms."

Posted by John Kranz at 6:13 PM | Comments (3)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This drives me nuts. First, it is tacit admission that the "reform" is going to be unbelievably expensive; it won't be less expensive when the economy rebounds. Second, even if we wait until the economy is again strong, we will eventually have another recession. Can we suspend healthcare at that point? Of course not - which means that it will make recovery even more difficult just as it would now. Bad idea now, bad idea in the future.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 24, 2009 10:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, yes, yes, and hell yes, br -- you are absolutely right.

I was just so happy to see a nominally Democratic Senator peel off for any reason that I posted this excitedly (note the 'bang!')

Opoosing the plan for the wrong reasons is pretty useful this session.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2009 5:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes but it's precisely that kind of unprincipled opposition to the ideas borne of bad principles that gets a guy like Lieberman in hot water with the loudest members of the Democrat base. So much so that bad-principled progressive Alec Baldwin has said he will move to Connecticut and challenge Lieberman's senate seat. Oh wait, never mind.

By the way, if Baldwin moved to Connecticut it would be from France, would it not?

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2009 3:28 PM

Fair Weather Federalist?

University of Chicago professor Charles Lipon takes up the banner of enabling a national market for health insurance. This has been one of my biggest hopes -- and it even got an endorsement of sorts from ThreeSources friend Silence Dogood.

The easiest way to see how insurance competition benefits consumers is to look at auto insurance. That's a huge, nationwide market and companies compete intensively for a share of it. Some stress their low prices, others customer service, whatever gives them an edge in the marketplace. Geico and Progressive have been especially aggressive in touting cost savings. State Farm and Allstate certainly compete on price, but they stress service after an accident. That's why Allstate says "you're in good hands," and State Farm says it will be there "like a good neighbor." Other companies, like SafeAuto, focus on drivers who want only minimum coverage to meet state license requirements. In short, auto insurance companies compete vigorously to provide what different consumers want, and they tell them so in national advertisements. Life insurance companies do the same thing. There are even companies that specialize in comparing policies for customers. Competition drives down excess profits and means better, cheaper options for consumers.

Ever see an ad touting health insurance? They are rare because the markets are small and companies don't need to compete aggressively on price or service. Introducing such competition would be good for consumers, wouldn't require another Washington bureaucracy and could be done quickly.


I have been waiting for somebody to accuse me of being a fair weather Federalist. Everybody loves States' rights, bit about everybody always seems to have an exception or two in their pocket. Hypocrisy is too pejorative and I am not suggesting a purity test or a census of pinhead-resident-angels. But I love to quote Justice Brandeis's "Laboratories of Democracy." And I salute those who have suggested that some of the facets of ObamaCare should be tried in States, where they could be abandoned after failure.

I know it would be one of the top three changes to health care that would make it accessible and affordable. I'd put it right after employer-tax bias and way in front of tort reform. Am I discarding my Federalist principles? My Tenth Amendment bona fides? What right does the Fed have to tell Vermont that they may not mandate aromatherapy coverage?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:02 PM | Comments (5)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I believe this would fall cleanly within the Commerce Clause. The Feds can regulate interstate commerce for the purpose of forming a more efficient market, which is clearly needed here.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 24, 2009 10:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;"

Right now, the federal government is "restricting" my commerce across state lines, rather than just "regulating" it. This clause was not intended to give Congress supreme power over what goes across state lines, but rather to give Congress power in state-state disputes so that one state's government couldn't be a jackass. For example, California protectionists might get the legislature to pass a law prohibiting Florida oranges from coming in, or New Jersey might pass a law barring goods originating in New York just from passing through.

Yet no matter how well-intentioned it may have been, when has the federal government (or government at any level) ever made things "more efficient"? The only way government ever can is by staying the hell out.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 25, 2009 11:36 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes, br, I think it could pass Constitutional muster -- and I would love to see Wickard v Filburn used on my behalf for a change).

My question is more philosophical: why can't Vermont require aromatherapy coverage in its state? I want the Federal Government to dictate terms to a State, where there is clearly no Constitutional purview. That is fair weather Federalism and I criticize others for it.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2009 5:22 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

The heck with State's rights, (sorry JK)I see this as pragmatism pure and simple. People move among states, companies are likely to have employees in many states, it makes sense. The fact that insurance is a game of statistics means that it favors larger markets. I believe that a national market is a prime factor in other insurance industries ability to complete cost effectively. I want to own my insurance, I decide when to change and when not to and I don't want this limited by my zip code any more than my employer.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 25, 2009 10:49 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Silence, don't you want to look at it from a perspective of freedom?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 26, 2009 11:53 AM

August 22, 2009

Put Me Down as a No

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey in the WaPo:

President Obama has called for a serious and reasoned debate about his plans to overhaul the health-care system. Any such debate must include the question of whether it is constitutional for the federal government to adopt and implement the president's proposals. Consider one element known as the "individual mandate," which would require every American to have health insurance, if not through an employer then by individual purchase. This requirement would particularly affect young adults, who often choose to save the expense and go without coverage. Without the young to subsidize the old, a comprehensive national health system will not work. But can Congress require every American to buy health insurance?

The authors say that even by the most aggressive commerce clause precedents -- no way. After McConnell v. FEC, I gave up on the court's saving us. But there is a chance. There is a chance.

Then again, the authors point out that nationalizing health care would work -- just not the mandate.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Good article. But isn’t it already law (I don’t know if this is state or federal) that a hospital must treat a patient in need regardless of their ability to pay? So, the healthy young person who chooses not to carry health insurance gets in an auto accident and arrives via ambulance at the nearest hospital for care, possibly very expensive care. The cost of this care could easily exceed this person’s ability to pay, even with enforcing of bankruptcy laws. At this point, who pays? In the end, me, as an insured person through increases in my health insurance or out of pocket costs. The medical facility will use what means they have to recoup their losses on the uninsured, namely higher costs for their services. So, instead of redistributing the young person’s wealth to the old through forcing them to pay for health insurance they rarely use, we will redistribute the wealth of those who choose to have health insurance to those who choose not to. This is the reason I see for requiring auto insurance, so the insured do not have to pay for the uninsured. The cost of this is quite obvious because most auto insurance plans have a specific item for uninsured motorist protection. We really have the same thing through the method I just described for health insurance; the cost is just more hidden. I wonder how that might change our health care debate if we all had a line item on our health insurance premium that paid for the uninsured?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 22, 2009 12:36 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
But isn’t it already law (I don’t know if this is state or federal) that a hospital must treat a patient in need regardless of their ability to pay?
Yes, this has been the case since the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act was passed in 1986. This applies only to hospitals that receive government money, whether "support" or Medicare/Medicaid patients.

The solution, then, is to stop forcing hospitals to accept everyone. Or better yet, to stop giving public money to hospitals, and then EMTALA will be moot.

The solution is NOT requiring insurance, but it would certainly be better if people treated health insurance like auto insurance. Instead of a sensible catastrophic plan (which my wife and I have), people think it's their "right" to get a policy that covers all routine care.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 22, 2009 8:26 PM

August 21, 2009

'American Lie'

As in, "I lied, lied at every townhall in sight."

If you haven't heard this yet then you're missin' out.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:49 PM | Comments (0)

First Principles Health Care Reform Opposition

I am just goofy enough that I would try to plow through HB3200. Silence inquired about it, and a Facebook friend whom I consider fairly non-political told me she read it coast to coast.

I want my legislators to read it, but I confess I have no intention. Call me names, but my opposition is not to details or percentages or cost thresholds -- my objection is to Federal intrusion into the private sector. Perhaps if they had included some GOP softeners like tort reform or interstate purchases, I might be interested. But I don't think there's one thing in those thousand-plus pages that I'd like.

Heather Richardson Higgins nails it:

There are many legitimate concerns raised by these massive plans, and what you hear depends on who you ask. If you ask men, they tend to be most concerned about the legislation's cost and the long-term effect of government controlling such an enormous share of the economy.

If you ask women, they worry about the risks of delayed care and the intrusion on their choices. If you ask the elderly, it is the idea of being pushed to quietly accept the pains of old age and settle for the palliative pill rather than the new hip.

All these concerns are real and matter. But the larger point is that Democrats aren't proposing a subsidy to enable people to get the care they need. Rather they want to shift decision-making authority from the American citizen to the government bureaucrat.

These proposals are yet another manifestation of the no-growth, redistributionist mindset, combined with an elitist, authoritarian philosophy of government. To buy into them and ignore the reality they've produced elsewhere is to love humanity more than human beings, and value utopian ideals of equity over the tremendous individual costs they inflict.

In these proposals, human beings aren't individuals with freedom to contract as they see fit and make their own best judgments, but interchangeable widgets for whom rules should be fashioned and enforced based on age, or quality of life, or some other metric. Bureaucrats would evaluate whether one is young enough to warrant a pacemaker or a hip, or sufficiently long gone from a hospital to justify readmission. Medicine would become a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy, not an art, in which the physician would face real risks for deciding that the bureaucratically approved "effective treatment" isn't what works in a particular case.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | Comments (11)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

So spot-on, JG. But you don't necessarily have to have attended baseball games before to be denied future admittance. Lots of UK, uh, football fans are being denied just because of their age, even when they haven't attended games before (because of the long waits).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 22, 2009 8:29 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
I could get coverage for myself and my older daughter, but my younger daughter and wife have auto-immune disorders and were simply not insurable. I got so frustrated I offered to pay whatever king’s ransom they might demand, but the answer was simply no. This has put a large dent in my plan to eventually strike out on my own and be self-employed.
I sympathize with your plight. Now, it's understandable that insurers won't want to take the risk on your wife and daughter, nor should they be forced into it. So you could try to put aside as much as you can in preparation for problems, except that government eats so much of our substance that we run as fast as we can only to stay in place.

Even someone self-employed doesn't qualify. You need to be enrolled in a formal high-deductible insurance policy, which you must buy only from within your state. And Obama dares to tell us that insurance companies are the problem?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 22, 2009 8:34 PM
But jk thinks:

If your insurance were not through your employer Silence, you would stick with the same insurer you had before the condition was pre-existing, so there is a private sector solution.

I'm gonna get yelled at here, but like Arnold Kling, I suspect a government solution may be required for un-insurable.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2009 10:03 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Exactly JK, I would be perfectly happy with private insurance if I personally got to pick my level of insurance and the covering company. You are probably right on a government plan for the un-insurable, but the question then is what level of care does that plan provide? This is where health care borders on a "right" in this country. Going back to the baseball analogy, we accept the fact that the rich get luxury boxes and we get stadium seats, but when it comes to medical care too many want (even expect)the luxury box.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 23, 2009 12:36 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A free market is not just the freedom to buy, but the freedom not to sell.

Government, by definition, is force. If you apply a "government insurance" to the uninsurable, you are forcing people against their freedom not to participate. One or both of these will happen:

1. Insurers are forced to provide services to those they didn't want to. They didn't want to because they believe (and most often correctly) that they will lose money on the deal.

2. Everyone else is forced to pay (we use the euphemism "subsidize") for the costs of a few.

Either, and especially both, are immoral and an affront to liberty. They're theft, even if it's done under the guise of "government."

Again, "See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime." So it's no different than if neighbors ganged up on the local insurance agent: "Give insurance to M. ____ or we will imprison you!" or "We require that you give __% of your income to pay for M. ____'s medical costs."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 23, 2009 12:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A bit of friendly, if unsolicited, advice: The minute you begin to think "a government solution may be required" keep thinking. The only reason it may seem like only government can solve the problem is that it took government "solutions" to get things so f___ed up in the first place.

The reason that responsible people wouldn't dream of going without health insurance is that health care is so abominably expensive (despite advancements that should make medicine less costly.) The biggest reason for this is the excessive regulation and liability burdens placed on the industry by ... government. Yaron Brook writes about this in detail, and Ron Paul told CNN's Kieran Chetry about it too.

I too sympathize with Silence's plight but if you think the government is here to help him and his family you are mistaken. (cf. Reagan, Ronald)

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2009 6:52 PM

Dirigo

Today's Latin lesson: Dirigo, meaning "I lead." It is the state motto of Maine and the name of their 2003 universal health care plan was DirigoChoice. I'll confess I thought it read "DingoChoice" as in "Dingoes Ate My Baby," but the name is even more prescient than that.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page reports that Dingo --er DirigoChoice has very similar elements to ObamaCare and was sold under very similar promises.

Despite the giant expansions in Maine's Medicaid program and the new, subsidized public choice option, the number of uninsured in the state today is only slightly lower that in 2004 when the program began.

Why did this happen? Among the biggest reasons is a severe adverse selection problem: The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs. That made it unattractive for healthier and lower-risk enrollees. And as a result, few low-income Mainers have been able to afford the premiums, even at subsidized rates.

This problem was exacerbated because since the early 1990s Maine has required insurers to adhere to community rating and guaranteed issue, which requires that insurers cover anyone who applies, regardless of their health condition and at a uniform premium. These rules—which are in the Obama plan—have relentlessly driven up insurance costs in Maine, especially for healthy people.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which has tracked the plan closely, points out that largely because of these insurance rules, a healthy male in Maine who is 30 and single pays a monthly premium of $762 in the individual market; next door in New Hampshire he pays $222 a month. The Granite State doesn't have community rating and guaranteed issue.


Perhaps, Dirigante. (They lead? did I get it?) The good people of Maine seek to lead us into the same quagmire of unfulfilled promises, market disruptions and unending expense that they have incurred.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey: Remember the Maine! Oh, that's good.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs."

Wow, who'd have thought that would ever happen with a government program, that the people who pay the least will use it the most, while expecting The Rest Of Us (because we're "rich") to pay for them?

It's argued that private health insurance is the same kind of "racket," that it's still the healthy who pay for the sick. The difference is that you aren't forced into it. Fat chance with government-run programs.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 21, 2009 1:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And costs are controlled for the healthy by refusing to admit people who already have expensive *pre-existing* conditions.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2009 3:37 PM

August 19, 2009

Life Expectancy Reaches All Time High

In the midst of a health care crisis? MSNBC:

ATLANTA - U.S. life expectancy has risen to a new high, now standing at nearly 78 years, the government reported Wednesday.

The increase is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. The average life expectancy for babies born in 2007 is nearly three months greater than for children born in 2006.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2009

Privacy

The Internet is really one big segue machine. I wanted to blog about privacy of medical info with greater government involvement.

I took somebody to the doctor, and the patient was asked to provide a UA specimen for drug testing. It came with a questionnaire that was pretty intrusive. It turns out that neither the test nor questionnaire was required, but I couldn't help thinking that it contained several questions that I would be queaay answering.

Civil libertarians went apopleptc over a section of the Patriot Act that allowed government to snoop on library records. I can appreciate that's being problematic and feel I could take either side of that debate (I think it was pretty restricted). What I cannot accept is their telling me that library lists are unacceptable, but collecting drug use information is fine.

As they say, what could possibly go wrong? Breitbart::

WASHINGTON (AP) - A fifth State Department worker has been convicted of snooping into the passport files of famous Americans.
Kevin Young, a 22-year veteran of the State Department from Temple Hills, Md., pleaded guilty Monday to illegally accessing more than 125 confidential passport applications for celebrities, professional athletes and a politician.

An investigation began in March 2008 after officials discovered unauthorized access of the files for then-presidential candidates Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2009

At Last, Somebody Asks!

I saw MoveOn.org's "answers to five lies about health care" on Facebook last week. It should have been titled "Five fallacious answers to straw men," but I digress. It got me thinking, a few days before I attended a party that would be chock-full-o-progressives, what my five complaints about health care reform would be: a little elevator talk against HB3200 as it were.

I found it hard to get beyond limited government and enumerated powers. I know we have stretched the idea of enumerated powers around some egregious legislation in the past 100 years, but it got me to wondering whether any "four horsemen" would surface. It also made me wonder why we read so little about any Constitutionality of Federally run, Executive branch managed health care.

Well, Instapundit links to a good post: Is ObamaCare Constitutional? Author Rob Natelson compiles a good list of concerns.

A major goal of our Constitution and Bill of Rights is to limit government power, especially federal power. National health care proposals would increase that power greatly, so it is not surprising that those proposals have constitutional difficulties. Whatever the merits of federal control of health care, moving in that direction is (as former Justice David Souter might say) a change of “constitutional dimension.” The proper way to make such a change is not through an ordinary congressional bill. The proper way is by constitutional amendment.

It seems quaint to even discuss whether something is Constitutional any more (after McConnell v FEC, what could fail?) but, truly if we stretch the Constitution somehow to include this, it ceases to be a framework for limited government and becomes only a document that says how old our legislators must be to hold office.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:36 PM | Comments (3)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

JK, have you seen any good summaries of HR3200? I actually downloaded it last week and attempted to at least skim through to try to get some facts, but mostly ended up with eyeball whiplash trying to bounce around to all the sections referencing each other. Not to mention a lack of knowledge of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, the Public Health Service Act, and even the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2009 1:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Nope, maybe someone else has. All the summaries I have read are perhaps too agenda driven for your taste. It's funny that you use ERISA as an example, the WSJ Ed Page has done a great job on that. Erisa allows larger companies to offer the same plan across different states.

HR3.2K (sorry couldn't help it) dismantles Erisa but lets existing plans be grandfathered for five years.

So the true line the President should be using is: "if you like your plan and want to keep it, you can for five years, as long as you don't add or remove dependants, or change your name, or your employer doesn't immediately dump a plan it is precluded from adding any members to." Kinda loses its pithiness when you include this, I know. Maybe have one of those drug company guys read the fine print in the background while President Obama talks.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2009 9:56 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Of course it's unconstitutional. That hasn't stopped the federal government before. The Constitution IS "just a goddamn piece of paper," as is any law that is not enforced.

Check qando.net, whose team has been doing the best coverage I've seen of proposed health care reforms. Even then, they haven't and couldn't possibly cover it all, but you can see additional details in comments. (Anyone familiar with Hayek can understand why this is so.)

Yes, they have their own agenda, but there's nonetheless much truth they expose.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 18, 2009 11:56 AM

August 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

Harry Reid: Protesters are "Evil-Mongers." Remember how Democrats and media made fun of Bush for talking about "evildoers?" But those were just terrorists, not people who, you know, opposed the Obama Administration's agenda. -- Professor Glenn Reynolds
Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Republican axis of evil: Iran, North Korea, al-Qaeda
Democrat axis of evil: Republicans, Fox News and talk radio

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 14, 2009 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

-- and a certain former Governor of Alasks.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2009 5:32 PM

August 13, 2009

This is rich

After years of blocking legislation to require valid identification to vote and branding Republicans as "racists" for supporting it, some Democrats are apparently requiring photo ID to attend their town hall meetings.

In Texas, Rep. Gene Green's office is requiring town hall attendees to present a photo ID that proves they live in his district.

On his Web site, Green says "due to a coordinated effort to disrupt our town hall meetings, we will be restricting further attendance to residents ... and verifying residency by requiring photo identification."

Illegal aliens should be able to vote, but people angry with government should not be allowed to speak. Is this still America?

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:18 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

No big, br, they can just show their Union card.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2009 7:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Great IBD Editorial on this.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2009 12:29 PM

The Transportation Crisis

Shannon Love compares transportation costs to health care.

In 1900, most people walked to work, school, shopping and socializing. The percentage of the average household’s budget devoted to transportation was so low that the Census bureau didn’t even bother to collect data on it. Today, the average household spends 21% of its budget on transportation. It’s the second biggest single cost after housing yet people take such spending for granted and easily factor it in to their personal budgets. We do so because transportation costs rose slowly over the course of the last half century while other costs, such as food, decreased. Decade after decade we gradually became used to spending more and more for transportation till now the average middle-class family easily accepts spending several thousand dollars a year in transportation costs.

Love goes on to speculate about the governmnet action that would be required if your employer funded transportation was suddenly taken from you. Great stuff.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

She started off well. Very well. "In 1900, health care consumed only a couple of percentage points of the average families budget because medical science couldn’t actually do much." Exactly. What we have today is everyone wanting the health care equivalent of a Ferrari (U.S. health care is the best in the world and is the most expensive because it IS the best) without having to pay for it.

Unfortunately, Shannon doesn't understand the liberty issue. She wrote, "We should establish compulsory medical savings account for everyone that works. People should be required to deposit a fixed percentage of their paychecks into those accounts." This was indeed unfortunate. How can she then write a couple of paragraphs later, "Better, just like transportation, we would all have the power and freedom to chose our own health care ride"?

If you're forced into something, there's no "freedom" involved. She was on a roll until then.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 3:21 PM

Ms. McArdle Again

Lordy!

In this case, I think that the political logic of an expensive new health care plan will push us faster and further towards price controls on key inputs, and somewhat hamfisted "one-size-fits-all" standard-of-care recommendations. I am reinforced in this belief by the fact that many of the people pushing health care reform are also enthusiastic proponents of . . . price controls on key inputs, and national standard-of-care recommendations. I don't trust them when they ask me to focus on just this bill right here.

They shouldn't trust me either. Except they should, because I'm being right out front about this. I don't want this bill, and I don't want any other bill that increases the number of people for whom the government pays for care. I may point out why you shouldn't want this bill, and I will try to be intellectually honest about it--i.e. focus on things the bill actually is likely to do, rather than "death panels". But I wouldn't like it any more if it was more like something you want. In fact, I'd probably like it less.


I have a background thread with a family member that was launched by the McArdle post I highlighted last week. Maybe she knows my niece, but it is funny how well she has followed and countered the objections I have encountered: on time, in order.

At the end of the day, this is a first principle on which I won't budge. I do not want more government involvement, however it is structured.

UPDATE: Her rationing argument makes the WSJ "Notable & Quotable:"

Robert Wright notes that "we already ration health care; we just let the market do the rationing." This is a true point made by the proponents of health care reform. But I'm not sure why it's supposed to be so interesting. You could make this statement about any good:

"We already ration food; we just let the market do the rationing."

"We already ration gasoline; we just let the market do the rationing."

"We already ration cigarettes; we just let the market do the rationing."

And indeed, this was an argument that was made in favor of socialism. (No, okay, I'm not calling you socialists!) And yet, most of us realize that there are huge differences between price rationing and government rationing, and that the latter is usually much worse for everyone. This is one of the things that most puzzles me about the health care debate: statements that would strike almost anyone as stupid in the context of any other good suddenly become dazzling insights when they're applied to hip replacements and otitis media.

The rationing is, first of all, simply worse on a practical level: goods rationed by fiat rather than price have a tendency to disappear, decline in quality, etc. Government tends to prefer queues to prices. This makes most people worse off, since their time is worth much more than the price they would pay for the good. Providers of fiat-rationed goods have little incentive to innovate, or even produce adequate supplies. If other sectors are not controlled, the highest quality providers have a tendency to exit. If other sectors are controlled, well, you're a socialist.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:39 AM | Comments (8)
But T. Greer thinks:

Hear hear! I read some of the stuff I wrote three years ago and come away with the conclusion that I was a daft idiot. Holding onto things like this is not worth it. Better to change a person to your side than to hold a grudge against them because they were not in the past. And hey, to be honest, we need as many allies as we can get right now.

Posted by: T. Greer at August 13, 2009 2:53 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If McArdle will repudiate what she wrote before, then I'll change my attitude toward her. But that's the point: she has not, she's admitted she's no Randian, yet she has the brazen disingenuousness to use "Jane Galt."

"To want" something is fine, but you need to distinguish that from McArdle's "I want government to..." beliefs. Just because I don't trust government doesn't mean I don't want peace, freedom and justice for all -- I just don't believe that government is capable of providing those things without destroying them equally (or to a greater extent) elsewhere.

Jefferson's idea of "public education" and today's concept are entirely different. Jefferson was not promoting a government monopoly like today, but a supplement so that the poorest of the populace could still get educated. If you read his letter of 1813 to John Adams, it's true that his plan involved taxation, where the more successful are forced to pay for others' children, but recall that taxes then were so much lower than today. We fought a revolution partially over a few pence per pound of tea, you know. And his plan was, in fact, quite elitist in how it wanted to separate the very best. It also would be decried today by teachers' unions because control would be purely local: there was no such thing as a school board, a city council or a state legislature governing hundreds or thousands of different schools.

My opposition to SCHIP is that it subsidizes the middle class. I don't object to ensuring health care for truly indigent children (I'd prefer a State level program, but that's a bad place to make a stand).
My opposition to SCHIP is that it takes from one man and gives to someone else.

See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law—which may be an isolated case—is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

Liberty and libertarianism imply consequences, rights and responsibilities.
I'll refer only to liberty, because "libertarianism" has become ridiculously diluted these days. Now, you talk about responsibilities -- which, and to whom? The only "responsibility" in a truly free life is that you take care not to harm others.
I am not at all offended by her suggestion that children and fetuses do not and should not share equally as adults in these. We offer children many special protections. Like McArdle, I think that is either acceptable or would be so impolitic to oppose, that I will let it slide.
It's one thing to say that people under the age of majority do not have full rights. Someone under 18 cannot contract without parental or guardian permission, including marrying and getting a job. However, that is a far cry from saying my wife and I, who do not have children yet, should be taxed because our neighbors' children are "a special libertarian case."

Children can be considered a different "case" only because parents have the responsibility for their upkeep. A parent ignoring a child's needs for food and shelter is a criminal, for example. I, however, am not a criminal for ignoring the various vagrants I encounter in the city. In fact, it would not be criminal even if it were a homeless child (not my child, I should specify), because there I have no lawful obligation. Moral, yes, but morality is beyond the scope and ability of law.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 3:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

McArdle's "national standard-of-care recommendations" are the same thing as Palin's "death panels." Those who set the "standard" of care are making life and death decisions.

She portrays herself as reasonable and objective in contrast to Palin, but it seems that she objects to the same provisions as Palin for the same reasons. To me that says both of them are reasonable and objective.

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2009 3:15 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:
Hear hear! I read some of the stuff I wrote three years ago and come away with the conclusion that I was a daft idiot. Holding onto things like this is not worth it. Better to change a person to your side than to hold a grudge against them because they were not in the past.
As I said, McArdle has not repudiated what she wrote before. She gives every indication that she believes in a particular level of government redistribution, and she makes her arguments on the basis of "efficiency" and utilitarianism -- not on liberty, as I do.
And hey, to be honest, we need as many allies as we can get right now.
No, T, what we need now are principles.

Any "allies" we gain, who do not share the principles of liberty and not redistributing wealth, will be along the lines of allying with the dragon so he'll eat our enemies. It might be good when we "win," but it only means we'll be eaten last.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 13, 2009 3:26 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Perry- Principles are nice and all, but they do not get you any votes on the Senate floor. Come election season, and we can talk about getting guys with principles in there. At the moment my larger priority is killing this bill.

And if McArdle helps, all the better for us.


Posted by: T. Greer at August 17, 2009 3:06 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I didn't see your comment until now, T. The problem with your idea of "getting votes" is that you implicitly must abandon principles to give a majority of voters what they want. And that majority wants only one thing: to receive as much as they can from the minority.

McArdle is not helping. Do you see what's happening? This bill, this specific bill, will go down. But Republicans are now pressed to offer their own alternatives, their own "reform." Even Wal-Mart has bent over for the feds, hoping they'll be eaten last.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 21, 2009 1:45 PM

August 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

And these are just some of the falsehoods and misinformation peddled by President Obama yesterday. It doesn't even include his choice to sell Obamacare as The "Post Office" of Health Care Plans. No wonder so many Americans are skeptical. -- Heritage, in a blistering and comprehensive fact check of President Obama's "Pep Rally."
Hat-tip: Instapundit
Posted by John Kranz at 1:34 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Universal Heh.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:18 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Listening to Obama, it sounds like his latest definition of "universal" is available to all. Well, we have such a universal plan today. Pay the premium and the coverage is yours.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2009 3:57 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I know how to provide universal health care and keep our current private insurance system - preemptive bailout! President Obama announces now that the big health insurers are too big to fail. This allows them to lavish health insurance benefits on the high risk uninsured, keep making profit, and have no fear of huge losses.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 16, 2009 10:08 AM

August 11, 2009

Incentives Matter

I don't get it, somebody help me out.

Companies will not hire less, move operations overseas, or slow company growth because of Federal tax policy -- nope, incentives don't really matter.

But your evil, greedy bastard family physician is going to let your diabetes go because the amputation will pay off her Range Rover:

Hat-tip: @KOSMOSNET

Posted by John Kranz at 7:17 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Lies, damned lies, and Obama's town halls.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 12, 2009 11:53 AM

But, but, but...

From the transcript of Obama's "town hall" in Portsmouth, NH today, President Obama answers a question from Ben Hirschenson of Ogunquit, Maine and also Bonita Springs, Florida.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you've been quoted over the years when you were a senator, and perhaps even before then, that you were essentially a supporter of a universal plan.

I'm beginning to see that you're changing that. Do you honestly believe that? Because that is my concern. I'm on Medicare, but I still worry that if we go to a public option, period, that the private companies, the insurance companies, rather than competing, because who can compete with the government? The answer is nobody.

So my question is, do you still as a -- yourself now support a universal plan or are you open to the private industry still being maintained?

OBAMA: Well, I think it's an excellent question. So I appreciate the chance to respond. First of all, I want to make a distinction between a universal plan versus a single-payer plan, because those are two different things. A single-payer plan would be a plan like Medicare for all, or the kind of plan that they have in Canada, where basically government is the only person -- is the only entity that pays for all health care.

Everybody has a government paid-for plan, even though depending on which country, the doctors are still private or the hospitals might still be private. In some countries, the doctors work for the government and the hospitals are owned by the government.

But the point is, is that government pays for everything, like, Medicare for all. That is a single-payer plan. I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter, because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country, with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that, I believe, would be too disruptive.

So what would end up happening would be a lot of people who currently have employer-based health care would suddenly find themselves dropped, and they would have to go into an entirely new system that had not been fully set up yet, and I would be concerned about the potential destructiveness of that kind of transition. All right? [emphasis by jg]

So this is apparently some other fellow...

I am glad, however, to see him explain in the closing paragraph of the excerpt just what one consequence of single-payer healthcare would be. Bravo mister president!

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:40 PM | Comments (0)

Nazis Against ObamaCare

I hate Illinois Nazis -- even when they're in Georgia:

LEBANON, Pa. – Jeers and taunts drowned out Democrats calling for a health care overhaul at town halls Tuesday, and one lawmaker said a swastika was spray-painted at his office as debate turned to noisy confrontation over President Barack Obama's plan. The president himself was treated more respectfully.

Hmm, sounds pretty serious. What was that about the swastika again? Yes, paragraph 15:
In Georgia, Democratic Rep. David Scott's staff arrived at his Smyrna, Ga., office outside Atlanta on Tuesday morning to find a large, black swastika spray-painted on a sign out front bearing his name. The vandalism occurred roughly a week after Scott was involved in a contentious argument over health care at a community meeting.

Clearly the work of NAZIS AGAINST REFORM. I don't see how a thinking person could doubt it. I am no Nazi, and to prove it, I am going to support National(ist) Socialist Health C -- oh, wait...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:56 PM | Comments (0)

jk Turns in His Wife

Dear Ms. Douglass and President Obama:

It is with deep sadness and great regret that I alert you to a purveyor of "fishy" information on the Democratic Health Care plan: my wife of 26 years, Riza.

She suffered a severe stroke in 2005 and used quite a bit of medical resources. She was flown to a different hospital in a helicopter. There she underwent 3 1/2 hours of brain surgery, weeks of Intensive Care and then transfer to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, where she spent two months.

We are both quite pleased that the physicians, facilities, and funding were available to someone of middle class means in the small town of Lafayette, Colorado. But here's the problem. She tells people that those funds, facilities and physicians might not be available under ObamaCare. She has told friends and family that she would not have survived in most countries with socialized medicine and that the care she received is threatened by the current Democratic Health Care Reform Bills.

What a load of hogwash, eh Linda? The President has made it abundantly clear on several occasions that the quality and availability of care will go up and the costs will go down. Clearly, all that is needed is some of that legendary government efficiency and all these goals will be realized. I am sorry that my wife accepts historical precedent and empirical examples over politicians' promises. Perhaps your re-education team can help her out with this.

Anyway, thanks for your time and give my best to the Speaker and Leader Reid.

Your humble servant,...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Tell me you really sent this to them. Please.

My guess: They won't recognize the sarcasm.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2009 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup, flag@whitehouse.gov -- doing my part to keep the country safe!

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2009 11:54 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It's nice to know that you got your mind right, Luke. But I'm still betting you can't eat three dozen boiled eggs.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 11, 2009 12:15 PM

August 10, 2009

Woof!

A couple o' tales from the Mother Country, today. First up, Theodore Dalrymple's awesome Man vs. Mutt. Dalrymple (really British Physician and Adam Smith Institute contributor Anthony Daniels) takes up the case that John Stossel made in Canada: private veterinary care has a lot of advantages over a nationalised, public human health care system.

Selfishly, no doubt, I continue to measure the health-care system where I live by what I want for myself and those about me.

And what I want, at least for that part of my time that I spend in England, is to be a dog. I also want, wherever I am, the Americans to go on paying for the great majority of the world’s progress in medical research and technological innovation by the preposterous expense of their system: for it is a truth universally acknowledged that American clinical research has long reigned supreme, so overall, the American health-care system must have been doing something right. The rest of the world soon adopts the progress, without the pain of having had to pay for it.


The second story is not so light. It is the tale of a young woman who died in front of her 13 year old son because she could not get care in the NHS.
Debra Beavers, 39, phoned NHS 24 twice in two days before getting a hospital appointment. But a doctor gave what her family described as a cursory examination lasting 11 minutes, before advising her to buy over-the-counter medicine Ibuprofen.
[...]
She was suffering numbness in her toes, swelling around the ankle and leg pains. She contacted NHS 24, who took her details and said they would be in touch.

However, Debra's condition worsened and she began to suffer severe chest pains by the early hours of Sunday.

She rang NHS 24 again at 2am and requested a doctor. They instead booked an appointment for her at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, later that day.

Darlene, 44, said: "We now think Debra was actually having a heart attack around the time she telephoned NHS 24. I spoke to her on Sunday morning and she said the pains were so bad, she thought she was going to die.

"She went to the hospital as arranged at 1pm and was back out in minutes. The doctor told her to go home and take Ibuprofen.

"She said he was very rude and, as she clutched her chest, told her 'Your heart is on the other side'.


My niece, responding to the Megan McArdle piece I forwarded, replied with the New Yorker article that shames McAllen, Texas, for providing too much care to people, clearly to line their pocketbooks. (To be fair to the article, the McAllen patients don't display statistically better outcomes from the more expensive care.) But one part of the article sticks out, and I was reminded by the story of poor Ms. Beavers.
I gave the doctors around the table a scenario. A forty-year-old woman comes in with chest pain after a fight with her husband. An EKG is normal. The chest pain goes away. She has no family history of heart disease. What did McAllen doctors do fifteen years ago?

Send her home, they said. Maybe get a stress test to confirm that there’s no issue, but even that might be overkill.

And today? Today, the cardiologist said, she would get a stress test, an echocardiogram, a mobile Holter monitor, and maybe even a cardiac catheterization.

"Oh, she's definitely getting a cath," the internist said, laughing grimly.


I remember thinking when I read it, that "if it were your wife, buddy, you'd demand 'a cath.'"

Pity Ms. Beavers wasn't in McAllen. She could have driven up the cost of care and the hospital could have charged her insurance for a catheter evaluation of her artery. Oh, and she would have lived.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"If it would save just a single 39 year-old mother, wouldn't it be worth it?"

But seriously, does the McAllen takedown piece even consider the role that overzealous malpractice lawyers play in over-treatment?

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2009 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

To be fair, they did, pointing out that Texas passed very tough tort reform measures and that McAllen lives under the same rules as El Paso, which spends quite a bit less.

It's a ponderable question. My gripes were:

a) what makes you think government is better situated to make a Mayo out of McAllen that the market? Explain. Provide examples. Show your work.

b) It is all well and good to statistically laugh derisively at catheter treatment for a 40 (or 39) year old woman. When it's your wife/mom/daughter, most people would be glad to err on safety; most governments would be glad to err on the side of cost savings.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2009 3:11 PM

August 7, 2009

Underappreciated Effect of Heath Care on Wages

Keith Hennessey links to a paper that calculates the hit workers’ wages will take under different health care scenarios. Hennessey adds, "In July the health care reform debate looked at the effects of proposed legislation on the federal budget. Congress needs to focus on the effects of their proposed policies on workers’ future wages." Hint: they ain't good.

The post does not lend itself well to excerpting, so I lifted this from a comment:

This is a devastating study for many health reform options now under consideration, and there are troubling consequences beyond those you cite. For example, if health insurance costs continue to rise, effectively crowding out real wage increases, and if reform fails to address the income and payroll tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health care, then income and payroll tax revenues from most labor income will be flat or even falling for many years to come.

The split of labor compensation as between taxable cash wages and non-taxable forms is one of the most important economic assumptions CBO and the Administration make when putting together their revenue forecasts. While Members of Congress and the press quibble over a tenth of a point more or less GDP growth, the real action in the revenue forecast is often the allocation of the income generated in the economy, especially the labor compensation split.


UPDATE: Don Luskin has further analysis on this same paper.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

Every drug that's made is a gift from one generation to the next because, while it may be expensive now, it goes off patent and your kids will have it essentially for free.

Whatever the marketplace, if talented people are given resources they're going to keep driving us to having better, simpler, cheaper solutions to problems. And, by the way, if they come up with a better solution but it can't be cheaper—which, in the beginning, most things aren't—nobody says you have to buy it. -- Dean Kamen, holder of more than 400 medical patents (and inventer of the Segway), in a superb interview with Popular Mechanics


Hat-tip: Jimmy P

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

August 5, 2009

Dear Congressman

Said friend of ThreeSources also shared the IBD Editorial with congressional representation:

Dear Mr. Walz,

I am glad to hear you are worried about the spiraling cost of healthcare. In this context, I am sure you will be interested in reading the analysis published by one of your predecessors, former Congressman Tim Penny. He points out in this article from Investors Business Daily that the cost of healthcare in the segment covered by Medicare and Medicaid has far outstripped the rise in costs among those covered by private health insurance and has far outstripped rises in costs in other areas government spending.
"If in the 40-year span from 1968 through 2007 Social Security went up 25 times, Medicare 85.5 and Medicaid 105.9, why did the total federal budget increase overall only 15.3 times? What held the budget back?

It was largely defense. Defense outlays rose from $82.2 billion in 1968 (or 46.1% of the total budget) to $547.9 billion in 2007 (20.1% of the total budget). In dollars, that is an increase of a bit less than 6.7 times. "


He goes on to point out that not only would the proposed plan be fiscally irresponsible but it would inevitably slow progress in medicine and discourage the best and brightest from entering the field. As I pointed out in my previous letter, I am a physician who specializes in a rare treatable, but incurable form of cancer (multiple myeloma). Survival among patients with this cancer has doubled since 2000, but the new medicines are very expensive. I am worried that a system that will inevitably lead to government rationing will jeopardize the quality of care my patients receive. The most effective medicines for this cancer are not routinely available in Canada or Europe. I implore you to vote against any bill that includes a "public option" that will inevitably drive up costs, reduce quality and drive private health insurers out of business.

Sincerely,
...


Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM | Comments (0)

On Tippy-toe

I link to another Megan McArdle post. Not to antagonize any of my favorite commenters, but because she hits another home run. I mailed the other post of hers to several left-leaning friends and received a great response. As I expected, it forced some supporters of National Health Care to question different aspects.

A universal element in the response was criticism of pharma firms' "spending more on marketing than R & D." Take it away, Ms. McArdle:

This makes about as much sense as saying that Dr. Jerry Avorn cannot be that smart because his brain only weighs about three pounds. Presumably, you can't be really smart--really innovative--unless your brain is at least 30 percent of your body weight!

This is obviously ludicrous--so why would Dr. Avorn say it about an R&D department? Like your brain, the R&D department is part of a complex system that does a lot of important stuff. You can argue that the R&D department is the most important part of a company, not least because it couldn't survive long without it. I think the same thing about my brain--but I'd still be just as dead without my liver. You certainly can't prove anything about my effectiveness as a journalist by pointing out that it weighs less than my bones.

So how big should a "brain" be? Hard to say. But let's look at some companies that are generally recognized as pretty innovative, and their R&D as a percentage of revenue:

Apple: three cents out of every dollar

Google: ten cents out of every dollar

Intel: fifteen cents out of every dollar

Genzyme (innovative biotech startup!): sixteen cents of every dollar

US Government: three cents out of every dollar


I can assure Dr. Avorn that any venture capitalist would be happy to invest in these hidebound laggards who haven't had a new idea in centuries. The first few, anyway.

All great! Hat-tip, Prof Mankiw who was taken by the line " But the fact that he mistakes his ignorance for a fact about the universe makes me wonder if pharmacoeconomics is what my college boyfriend's roommate used to do with a few grams of cocaine and a copy of Mankiw's Principles."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2009

Stick it to the Middle Class!

Jeffrey Anderson takes to the IBD Editorial Page to wonder why, with all the rhetoric aimed from the Obama Administration toward the rich, why the brunt of the ObamaCare burden will be allowed to fall on the middle class:

A two-tiered system would then emerge: The very rich would take their spots like first-class passengers on the Titanic, paying for fine care and not asking the price. The rest of us would take our spots in steerage class, awaiting the inevitable collision between government-run health care and the iceberg of budgetary disaster.

White House budget director Peter Orszag recently opined that "the deficit impact of every other fiscal policy variable" is "swamped" by the deficit threat posed by Medicare and Medicaid. President Obama's solution? A massive new Medicare-like program!


Hat-tip: a friend of ThreeSources, via email

Posted by John Kranz at 6:51 PM | Comments (0)

Some Serious None of the Above

Professor Mankiw boils the health care debate down to a false bifurcation:

Why do these two smart commentators reach such opposite conclusions? The essence of the difference, I think, is that Paul [Krugman] is mainly concerned with universal coverage and is happy to put off discussion of the government budget constraint to another day, while Keith [Hennessey] is focused on how the reforms will be paid for and, in particular, on the administration's claim that a major goal of health reform is to put the government on a more sustainable fiscal path.

A large part of the policy debate boils down to this: Are you more worried about the problem of the uninsured or about the long-term fiscal imbalance?


If that is the choice, we've all lost. Surely Congress will be able to find some gimmick to "pay for" universal health care, as important as it is to cover the (how many is it today?) 54 million uninsured.

If however, you focus on freedom, or an environment that is conducive to innovation, the argument frames a little more favorably to freedom lovers:

A large part of the policy debate boils down to this: Are you more worried about losing the freedom to pursue your family's best health care strategies or about protecting long-term innovation?

That's an argument to have!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2009

The Arlen Specter Shoutdown

Senator Specter and Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had a town hall meeting at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Sunday.

It did not go well.

Enjoy.

Much more at Panzramic.

Posted by AlexC at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I saw that -- but I'll happily watch it again! I think the word I am looking for is "Woot!"

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2009 1:04 PM

I like the slope!

Jimmy P thinks this is a "handy way of summing up what a rough patch the Obamacrats have been going through, (via Intrade and Baseline Scenario):" I just like to look at it:

073009intrade.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 2, 2009

John Stossel on Health Care

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

McArdle Defended

Not from Perry, sadly, but from Ezra Klein and Ben Domenech. Dave @ Classical Values takes them to task and in the process makes some excellent comments that need to be made about free market health care. On Klein:

Finally, he invokes the left's gold standard non sequitur: "Pharmaceutical companies, for instance, spend less on drug research than on administration and marketing." What difference does that make? So do many, if not most, industries, and no one think the government should run them (this notion is discredited even in Communist China). As an argument for nationalization of health research, this is like saying "Mom spends more time watching TV than driving, so let's have the dog drive the kids home after soccer practice."

On Domenech:
They [private pharma companies] do productization research, and only for well-known medical conditions that have a lot of commercial value to solve.

This is like complaining that farmers only grow crops many people want to eat, or car manufacturers only make cars that many people want to buy. This is Free Markets 101. Yes, it's tragic there are rare conditions that affect only a small number of people; it would be stupid and even more tragic not to focus on treatments that will benefit more people. This is why free markets work and command economies fail: efficient allocation of resources.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2009

A Cancer Patient that Doesn't Want Free Health Care

A friend of ThreeSources sends me a link to a WSJ guest editorial on health care. She's right, it is superb:

I have been battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, an incurable blood cancer, for the past nine years. Last year, I was also diagnosed with uterine cancer.

I didn’t run to Canada for treatment. Medicare took care of my needs right here in New York City. To endure, I just need the freedom to choose my insurance, my doctors, and get the diagnostic scans and care I need. And one more thing: I need hope that a treatment will be developed that can control my diseases the way insulin controls diabetes.

Every cancer patient needs these things, especially hope. But the government's plan to reform the health-care system in this country threatens all of this—particularly the development of new treatments.


Whole thing gotta.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | Comments (4)
But HB thinks:

Am I the only one who noticed that she wrote, "Medicare took care of my needs right here in New York City." (Emphasis added.)

Posted by: HB at July 31, 2009 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Nope,

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2009 2:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ulrik writes, "But are we really expected to forgo new medical technology and return to the cancer care of the 1970s?"

Why not?

We're being asked to forego the most modern electrical generation technology in exchange for windmills and solar cells first popularized in the 1970's.

We're being asked to forego comfortable, powerful and safe autos and return to updated econo-boxes of the 1970's.

Our government is attempting to solve well-understood economic problems with the same policies that failed in the 1970's, albeit on a grander scale.

But why should anyone be surprised by any of this? The most substantive difference between the current congress and White House in comparison to those of the Carter era is that George McGovern thinks THIS crop is taking things too far.

Posted by: johngalt at July 31, 2009 2:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said. Arnold Kling in Crisis of Abundance points out that we can easily afford 1970s health care for everybody. If it was on the Dr. Welby show, you can have it!

Strangely, few are lining up for that plan. Except in countries that took over health care when the kindly Robert Young character was on.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2009 2:58 PM

July 30, 2009

Dear Senator Udall

Senator Udall:

First, thank you for the invitation to the "telephone town hall" on health care last night. I regret that I was unable to stay on the line but I appreciate that forum.

I contact you today because I have Multiple Sclerosis and am deeply concerned about current health care bills, both in detail and direction.

I am participating in my second clinical trial of experimental treatment and it is extremely clear that government is poorly situated, structured, and incentivized to take over the innovation and development provided by the free market.

I would like to point you toward Megan McArdle's post on the Atlantic website http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/a_long_long_post_about_my_reas.php I believe Ms. McArdle supported President Obama in the election and tends to vote Democratic. Yet she sees the opportunity to retard innovation with an augmented Federal presence.

Thank you for your time and attention,

John Kranz
Erie, CO


I sure hope he likes it better than Perry...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not sure it matters what Udall thinks of the McArdle post. According to Maxine Waters, Rahm only told the "conservative" Blue Dogs amongst the new senators that "they could vote the way they wanted to." That freedom might not extend to rabidly progressive new members such as Mark Udall.

Your effort to elicit representation is nonetheless laudable.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2009 2:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I have given up on my Rep (Polis, CO-2). He has a gerrymandered district and his constituents clearly want communism, as soon as possible. I sent a modified version of this to both Senators though. If you're too far left, you'll get pressure in Colorado (Hart and Wirth did okay). I'm just reminding.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2009 2:49 PM

July 29, 2009

Otequay of the ayday

I still contend that brother jk is missin' out by not having cable. FNC's 'America's Newsroom' regularly features US congressmen or senators commenting on affairs of the day and they tend to say the darnedest things. Just yesterday a congressman said, in essence, "these people who have gold plated health care coverage don't have the right to force everyone else to subsidize their coverage and that's why we should tax them." I wanted to give the verbatim quote with attribution but didn't think to record him. I didn't make that mistake today.

Representative Steven Lynch (D-MA) is chairman of the Postal Service Oversight Subcommittee. Commenting on the GAO report downgrading the USPS' credit worthiness in the wake of $2.8 B lost last year and $7 B projected to be lost this year he was asked by FNC's Bill Hemmer, "Fed-Ex is profitable. UPS is profitable. Is it time to start taking a serious look at making this government service private?"

"Well look, if Fed-Ex did what the post office did and if UPS did what the post office did they would not be profitable."

I'll leave the obvious conclusion to the reader, but there's more. In the very next breath he seemed to be channeling Jon Caldera on healthcare reform, but in reverse, and without even realizing it.

"They provide universal coverage six days a week to every business and home in America for forty-four cents, basically, for a letter. If you don't want that service then you could probably reduce the postal service's costs as well."

He even called it "universal coverage!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:26 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

We'll see how long I hold out. My lovely wife gets the eeeevil FOXNews on her phone. Curiously, my local-channels-only-in-analog cheapskate service includes CSPAN and much of the basic cable.

I hate to champion tax increases, but I think taxing gold plated coverage is an important step toward tax neutrality for individuals and corporations.

The Post Office quotes are awesome!

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2009 1:34 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"these people who have gold plated health care coverage don't have the right to force everyone else to subsidize their coverage and that's why we should tax them."

____ him and the horse he rode in on. This coming from someone in the one group whose health coverage is the very best in the world, whose health coverage by definition is paid for by others' labor.

I by stark contrast have an excellent health insurance policy, and I don't ask anyone to "subsidize" it in any way.

"You do what you want with your own scalp, and not be tellin' us what to do with ours!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 29, 2009 1:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not defending the quote, Perry. But it is true that your employer gets tax treatment on your coverage that is not available to the individual of the self employed.

I want to break the cursed (please pronounce as two syllables) relationship between employers and health care -- I don't lose my car insurance if I change jobs.

The solution is to provide tax breaks for the individual, but also to -- sorry -- tax the employer until they are equal.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2009 1:46 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I know you're not defending the quote. I'm just pointing out the utter hypocrisy of the SOB who said it.

I'm sure you agree that, once again, it's the state and its convoluted tax policies that skew markets and push us toward inefficiencies. But the only resolution should come from not taxing what people pay for private insurance, not by taxing businesses on insurance benefits they provide. Just because some rapes are more vicious than others doesn't mean we must "equalize" the victims by requiring all to be beaten to the worst extent.

Also, I don't expect that your car insurance pays for regular maintenance, or even failed parts outside of an accident (unless you have an extended warranty policy, a form of insurance). That's true insurance: you hope you never need it, but it's there "just in case" something unfortunate happens. No small problem with American health care is that too many people think health insurance is the way to pay for routine checkups, eye exams and dentist visits that they ought to be paying for out of pocket. An American family will consume, say, $10,000 worth of health care resources in a year, after paying $8000 in premiums, and then complain that their premiums are going up.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 30, 2009 12:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, despite the obviousness of what PE says there is little hope this congress will do anything to fix those real problems, and achieve actual cost savings in the process.

Senator Udall, ARE YOU LISTENING?!!!!!

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2009 2:39 PM

Megan McArdle Demolishes National Health Care

I love preaching-to-the-choir stuff and the wild rumpus technical, internecine philosophical arguments we get into around here make life worth living.

But I am always on the lookout for an article that might convince somebody "on the other side." And I think Megan McArdle's health care piece is awesome on stilts in platform shoes. It is a great, first principles, takedown that I think can be shared with anybody. Tell them she supported Obama. This is not some FOXNews piece that they can instantly discard.

I broke a longstanding rule and put this on Facebook today. I do my politics here and appreciate people's kids' pictures over there. But I hope for a lot of my left leaning friends to read this. I will be mailing it out as well.

Nope, not gonna excerpt. Read it. Send it to somebody.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM | Comments (9)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Mmmm, I dunno, Perry. I'll concede the purity and basic truth of your argument and I'll accept your assessment of McArdle since I have not followed her. But as an argument that can be understood by and potentially sway Joe Public, this is pretty darn good - the best I've seen in that category.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 29, 2009 3:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"who would not read, understand, or be suaded by Monsieur Bastiat."

Bastiat's arguments are as clear and incontestible today as when he first published his works. If people do not listen to him, it's their folly. If they listen to the likes of McArdle pseudo-libertarianism, that's even more to their folly.

My friend Billy Beck is right. People must be persuaded on the basis of principles, and that means arguing on the side of freedom. This utilitarianism crap doesn't cut it.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 29, 2009 3:57 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Let me put it more bluntly: if someone cannot understand an argument based on freedom, then that person doesn't deserve it. That person deserves to remain a slave to the state.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 29, 2009 3:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm with you on this PE but until the constitutional shackles are put back on our government we are, as Red Green says, "all in this together."

Posted by: johngalt at July 29, 2009 4:05 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

To come to jk's defense-

Bastiat is a hard read. I would not call his arguments clear- they are lengthy, theoretical, and written some 150 years past. Much like the words of James Madison or James Wilson, they are brilliant, but they are not an easy read.

Mcardle provides a piece that is understandable to those not familiar with intricacies of economic theory, accessible to every average Joe who picks up the Atlantic, short enough to read on the subway home from work, and directly relevant to the lives of every American today.

Posted by: T. Greer at July 29, 2009 8:00 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

T, are you serious? Bastiat is some of the easiest economic reading I've ever encountered, and his insights transcend time. Well, a lot of people didn't and still don't fully understand Jesus' parables either.

Maybe it's a bad translation you've read. The Foundation for Economic Education has sponsored some excellent translations of "The Law" and "What Is Seen," which are enough to give anyone a firm grounding on liberty and government intervention. Bastiat's other works like "Economic Harmonies" are a bit more theoretical but still understandable, if you started with his two most famous works.

I've been a heavy critic of McCardle and won't stop. Like Larry Kudlow, she's watering down what we need to be arguing: liberty. Throwing in politico-economic phrases like "public choice" weaken her arguments, not strengthen them.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 30, 2009 10:38 PM

July 28, 2009

ObamaCare II

Whew! I was afraid it was going to be complicated.

Hat-tip: Hugh Hewitt

Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM | Comments (0)

Can't Believe I Missed It

Denver Post:

Capitol rallygoers rail against 'Obamacare'
A few hundred people rallied outside the state Capitol today against what they dubbed socialist "Obamacare" — monster-size government change that they say would make America's health system worse.

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong

UPDATE: Mo' Better Photos at Slapstick Politics

Posted by John Kranz at 5:28 PM | Comments (0)

Obamacare

Hat-tip: @joncaldara

Posted by John Kranz at 5:03 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2009

Quote of the Day III

Damn that CBO! They keep killing all these great ideas with, like, analysis and numbers and all that stuff. Everything would work out just fine if only they would close their eyes, click their heels together three times, and say, "There is no policy like reform...there is no policy like reform...." -- N. Greg Mankiw
Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day II

Obama's stupidly uninformed comments on the arrest of his Harvard professor friend distracted us from his other ridiculous gaffe: the accusation that doctors are taking out kids' tonsils for no good reason. -- Jennifer Rubin
Posted by John Kranz at 1:25 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day

I have outsourced it to the WSJ Ed Page today. This is their "Notable & Quotable" (rather a cheap imitation of the 3SrcQOTD):

Myth #1 Health Care Costs Are Soaring:

No, they are not. The amount we spend on health care has indeed risen, in absolute terms, after inflation, and as a percentage of our incomes and GDP. That does not mean costs are soaring.

You cannot judge the “cost” of something by simply what you spend. You must also judge what you get. I’m reasonably certain the cost of 1950s level health care has dropped in real terms over the last 60 years (and you can probably have a barber from the year 1500 bleed you for almost nothing nowadays). Of course, with 1950s health care, lots of things will kill you that 2009 health care would prevent. Also, your quality of life, in many instances, would be far worse, but you will have a little bit more change in your pocket as the price will be lower. Want to take the deal? In fact, nobody in the US really wants 1950s health care (or even 1990s health care). They just want to pay 1950 prices for 2009 health care. They want the latest pills, techniques, therapies, general genius discoveries, and highly skilled labor that would make today’s health care seem like science fiction a few years ago. But alas, successful science fiction is expensive. . . .

Health care today is a combination of stuff that has existed for a while and a set of entirely new things that look like (and really are) miracles from the lens of even a few years ago. We spend more on health care because it’s better. Say it with me again, slowly—this is a good thing, not a bad thing. . . .

In summary, if one more person cites soaring health care costs as an indictment of the free market, when it is in fact a staggering achievement of the free market, I’m going to rupture their appendix and send them to a queue in the U.K. to get it fixed. Last we’ll see of them. -- Clifford Asness


Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

There are rational Americans who want things at cheap prices, but who understand that some things cost money. There are idiot Americans who think they're entitled to whatever they want at the cheap prices they want. And then there are the Americans in mental la-la-land who think we can have things beyond our technology at cheap prices.

I had the misfortune of knowing a nutcase who, after Christopher Reeve's accident, suggested on a BBS that someone invent a sort of neck airbag: it will sense when you're about to hit the ground, then automatically inflate to keep your neck rigid. Oh, and it will be small and comfortable enough not to inconvenience riders.

He finished, "I think this is an idea that should be researched and developed."

When you think about it, he's actually not much more of a loon than the birdbrains who think we can have "free universal health care."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 27, 2009 1:42 PM
But jk thinks:

But is there a plurality of rational Americans?

Hate to be down, but after watching President Obama's news conference where he promised the world to everybody if government took over health care -- and having just a few partisans question it -- I am pretty concerned.

It looks like we may have dodged a bullet, but we're way too close to passing a huge government intrusion with popular support.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2009 2:34 PM

Conyers: Lazy & Dangerous

Congressman John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan:

“I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Conyers.

“What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

Yeah, it's no good.

Posted by AlexC at 12:04 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Which of course leads to the next obvious suggestion: "Members of congress, WRITE the bills you pass." Enough of this staff committee bullcrap. You've invited lobbyists into the halls of congress to do the job you were elected to do and apparently now consider to be beneath your dignity. Let's shine the full light of day on whichever trolls are WRITING this crap.

"Too big to read?" Too big to pass into law.

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2009 3:05 PM

Healthcare as a Right

Letter to the Editor in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The time has not been better to finally stop a national disgrace. That health care for everyone be a right should not even be in question. No one or company should make a profit on the health, denial of service or death of a human being. Why is this even a discussion?

How many of our "rights" (scary air quotes intended) are granted to us by the government?

Regular readers would say "None. 'Constitutional Rights' (air quotes again) are not granted by anyone, they are defined so as to not be abridged by the government."

Governments do not grant rights, they only take them away. Like my right to have a wallet full of money that I earned.

That being said, no one is going untreated in this country. Can we please stop using that canard? Anyone walking into a medical facility with injuries will be helped. The debate, such that it exists, is about costs and who will pay them.

Let's focus on that.

I dont pretend to have the answer for how to cut costs in medicine, but I can say, "more free competition" is likely the correct one. When have price fixing and cost controls ever made anything cheaper?

It's all too easy to blame Big Pharma (as I've heard) or Doctors getting millions (as I've heard) or HMOs (as I've heard) or Big Insurance (as I've heard).... but we, as a people, never blame government for problems.

Let's look there first.

Posted by AlexC at 1:12 AM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

When government increases demand and restricts supply, who's surprised that prices go up?

Government "insurance" programs can only drive up costs by encouraging an increase in demand and discouraging supply. Millions of people on Medicare and Medicaid figure, why not, they'll go to a doctor every time they sneeze. I have a friend in medical billing who frequently deals with MediCal, and it's no wonder that state is going to hell. It's this whole cockamie idea of "medical insurance" for routine things like checkups, or low-cost procedures

On the supply side of the curve, we have an AMA, with the implicit backing of the federal government, that limits the number of licensed doctors. The feds also prevent us from buying policies from out of state, and that goddamn SOB in the White House bluntly said in the debates that it can't be allowed. You know, just in case people buy a policy that doesn't insure them enough -- notwithstanding that if a policy doesn't give the coverage they want, then they have the freedom to not buy it!

Classic liberalism emphasized the freedom of individuals to make their own choices. Modern liberalism rejects that.

Oh by the way, and I've been meaning to blog about this: did anyone notice a recent ranking of hospital appointment wait times? The city with the biggest increase: Boston. Who would have thought?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 27, 2009 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Thanks, Perry. I have occasionally felt doubt about my decision to McCain over Romney. I feel much better now.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2009 12:04 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I hate McCain as much, although for different reasons. But Romney, good lord...

If a Republican governor can do that much damage, how much can a Democratic president and Congress do?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 27, 2009 1:44 PM

July 22, 2009

Health Care Petition

I'm not a big fan of online petitions, but this one got me:

http://www.freeourhealthcarenow.com/

Hat-tip: Hugh Hewitt It's no secret I disagree with his Hughness on many things, but he is great at driving electronic responses to issues like this.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2009

Hold the Mayo

Credit ABC's Jake Tapper for the headline. (And what's with that guy anyway, doesn't he know he's not supposed to challenge The One?)

I do this with hesitation but I believe I can be tangential enough for comfort: Not long after the "Stimulus" bill was signed into law I seem to recall a certain Mayo Clinic honcho close to this blog who was contemplating radical action due to runaway government spending. It looks like she might have rallied a small raiding party amongst her peers at Mayo and pointed her cutlass at Obamacare. Of the legislation being raced through congress a Mayo Clinic blog says,

"... the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite."

You go girl!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:23 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Stunning that the AMA sold out its members so quickly. I was glad to hear the Mayo clinic was among the few taking a stand.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2009 3:53 PM

Pain Pill or Pacemaker?

Here's a high fast ball across the plate for the Randians. President Obama says "we'll have to decide 'as a society' whether 100 year olds will be given pacemakers -- or sedation a pain pill."


No, Mister President. This woman is an individual and happened to be very active and alive at 100. To decide "as a society" what care is to be provided to "a generic 100 year old woman" is wrong -- and in this instance would be criminal.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

Health Care Bill: Worse Than You Thought

What? There is a problem with the House health care reform bill? Really?

The WSJ Ed Page finds that it repeals "ERISA" that allows large employers to self insure and offer consistent plans across state lines. "A new analysis by the Lewin Group, prepared for the Heritage Foundation, finds that some 88.1 million people will be shifted out of private employer health insurance under the House bill. If those people preferred their prior plan, well, too bad again."

So when Mr. Obama says that “If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what,” he’s wrong. Period. What he’s not telling the American people is that the government will so dramatically change the rules of the insurance market that employers will find it impossible to maintain their current coverage, and many will drop it altogether. The more we inspect the House bill, the more it looks to be one of the worst pieces of legislation ever introduced in Congress.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Actually, it's worse than "Obama was wrong." Obama lied.

And to apply what liberals said about Bush, people will die because of him.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 21, 2009 1:38 PM

July 20, 2009

Quote of the Day III

Hey, can I play? I couldn't decide which of these Michael Steele lines I liked better. You choose:

For example, CBO stated, quote, "We have not yet estimated the administrative cost to the federal government of implementing the specified policies," end quote. In other words, the staggering cost estimated by CBO does not even include one of the biggest expenses in the bill.

Only Washington could make saving money more expensive.

And later in the speech:

Now, I know President Obama has some tough challenges. I get that. We understand that. And the president tells us he doesn't want to spend more than we have, he doesn't want the deficit to go up, he doesn't want to live off borrowed money. But he also told us he didn't want to run an auto industry.
Posted by JohnGalt at 1:26 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the Day II

Professor Mankiw suggests that "deficit neutral" is too low a bar for health care reform. In light of expected insolvency down the road for current entitlements, any new system should demonstrably reduce future shortfalls.

A reader suggests an analogy: An obese friend is told that he should exercise more. Instead, he adds an extra serving of cake after dinner. But don't worry: His cake-eating plan is calorie-neutral, as he promises to exercise more as well.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)

The Last Word on Socialized Medicine

Ronald Wilson Reagan in 1961:

Hat-tip: Don Luskin

Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2009

MS Society

Make that two wingnut cranks! A good friend of this blog just shared a nice comment after sending it to the MS Society -- signed M.D.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2009

CATO on Freedom in Health Care

It is easy to get lost in the minutia of Heath Care reform plans and their specific (de)merits. One should remind oneself, every day, about first principles. The folks at Cato are pretty good at that. Doug Bandow:

What people need is a medical system that allows them to make the basic rationing decisions: what kind of insurance to buy, what kind of coverage to choose, what kind of trade-offs to make between spending on medicine and spending on other goods and services.

Such decisions are complex and people with little means will need assistance. But the specific “rationing” decisions–i.e., the inevitable trade-offs–vary dramatically by individual and family preference and circumstance. Even today’s system allows many people some choice between plans and providers. The rise in consumer-directed care is a positive development which is expanding the choices available to Americans.

The worst strategy would be to increase the government’s authority. Washington already has to “ration” care through its own programs. Politicizing everyone’s care by increasing federal control would override the differences in preferences and circumstances which are so important for all of us. It doesn’t matter how bright or thoughtful or well-intentioned the legislators and regulators would be. They would end up getting it wrong for most Americans.

Is rationing inevitable? Yes. Is government rationing inevitable or desirable? Neither. The bottom line is: who should control people’s and families’ medical futures? Not Uncle Sam.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 3:00 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

When President Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984 many of us foolishly boasted, "America was smart enough to avoid the dismal future predicted in George Orwell's novel '1984." Now it is clear he merely erred on the book's title by 25 years.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2009 12:32 PM

Mankiw Was Wrong

And he is man enough to admit it:

A couple days ago I noted that under the House healthcare reform bill, marginal tax rates on top earners would go up substantially. Indeed, they would reach levels not seen in many years. That bill would institute a tax surcharge of 5.4 percent on top of normal income taxes, which under current law are already scheduled to revert back to Clinton-era levels.

This is no cause for alarm. A reader points out that the President would surely veto such a bill. After all, during the campaign, he promised us the following through two of his top economic advisers:

[Clinton level taxes, no hikes below 250K, &c., click through if you need remindin']

Posted by John Kranz at 1:09 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2009

By The Way, Private Insurance is Illegal

IBD Ed Page:

Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

So if you like your insurance, you can keep it. You just can't add a spouse or a kid, or change your middle initial...

Hat-tip: A great friend of this blog by email,

Posted by John Kranz at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

How to Kill the Public Plan

It's a health care trifecta today. John Fund takes to Political Diary to highlight Senator Tom Coburn's (R - OK) amendment that would force Congressfolk to actually enroll in the government plan:

"Let's demonstrate leadership -- and confidence in the system -- by requiring that every member of Congress go into it," Mr. Coburn told his colleagues as they were marking up the health care proposal championed by Senator Ted Kennedy. His idea wasn't exactly greeted warmly by many public plan supporters. Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat, responded: "I don't know why we should require ourselves to participate in a plan that no one else needs to participate in. This bill goes to great lengths to show that the choice is there for everybody."

Crazy talk. Before you know it, the Treasury Sec will be forced to pay taxes!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Congress has never eaten its own dog food. Members should be required to enroll in Social Security and Medicare just like the rest of us. Instead, they get full pension and fully-paid, gold-plated medical benefits for life after just six years in office.

Imperial Congress indeed. Mr. Adams must be doing summersaults.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 16, 2009 1:18 PM

MS Patient = Socialist

health_reform_now.jpg More spam from the MS Society. "Our demands" for healh care reform.
It is an exciting time in Washington, DC, as our nation moves to reform our ailing health care system. Health care reform is a top priority for Congress and the Obama Administration. The timeline is aggressive. Comprehensive, meaningful health care reform legislation is expected to move through Congress this year.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and MS activists are working with members of Congress and their staff to ensure that reform meets the needs of people living with MS.



Not another dime...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

That is rather pissifying.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 16, 2009 11:32 AM
But jk thinks:

The good news is that the newsletter has a link to a survey. They will have at least one wingut crank represented in their survey results.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2009 11:39 AM

Mickster on ObamaCare

There have been some very good anti-socialist-health-care pieces lately in the WSJ, IBD, and even the Washington Post. But whatever happens, do not allow yourself to miss Mickey Kaus: Obama as Health Care Salesman: He Sucks!

Kaus critiques -- roughly and amusingly -- President Obama's interview with NBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman:

Who knew we were electing a national mother-in-law? And get a chance to endure increased taxes for the privilege. Obama's supposed to be rallying support from voters, not castigating them. Outside the S& M parlor, most people do not enjoy paying to be disciplined.
[...]
The likelier possibility is that he is saying what he wants to say. He's been surrounded by Orszaggy wonks for so long he thinks talking about "trend lines" and "incentivizing" is red meat. Which brings us to a final point: 4) He doesn't seem to know that much.

Devastating. Fascinating, Enthralling.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2009

RomneyCare Post Mortem

After Senator McCain's disappointing campaign in 2008, I saw Gov. Romney on TV and wondered if I had made the wrong choice. Romney understood capitalism and did not seem to hate business. I passed on Romney because of RomneyCare. I figured that if he were rolled by the Democrats in the Commonwealth, he'd be sure to get rolled by the ones in Washington.

By then, there were not any good choices left, so I don't know if was right or wrong. But I was not wrong on RomneyCare. A big story in the Boston Globe yesterday highlighted its problems. Author Joan Vonnochi gets a mention in the WSJ's "Notable & Quotable" feature (their cheap imitation of the ThreeSources Quote of the Day):

The fuzzy math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up -- just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation.

Because of a recession-related drop in state revenues and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed, the truth is emerging at an inconvenient time. Massachusetts doesn't have enough money to pay for the coverage envisioned by the law.

In June, state officials announced they are cutting $100 million from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents. The poorest residents, along with the newest -- legal immigrants -- will take the hit.

This outcome is not surprising, but it is instructive as President Obama pushes for a national healthcare plan.

On the day that Republican Governor Mitt Romney, for once, made Bay State Democrats happy, by signing the sweeping new healthcare bill into law, the Globe headline said it all: "Joy, worries on healthcare. As Romney signs bill, doubts arise about revenues.''

In Massachusetts, the numbers never added up, as everyone involved in crafting the new law understood. But for a variety of reasons, ranging from Romney's presidential aspirations to Senator Edward M. Kennedy's longstanding commitment to healthcare reform, everyone smiled for the cameras and hoped for the best out of this noble experiment.

UPDATE: Don't pack up that moisturizer just yet:

Mitt Romney says publicly he's not considering another presidential campaign, most recently on Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." But many of his loyalists expect one and remain at the ready for 2012.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:46 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Really, what thinking person was surprised?

Show me one person who believed the projections about staying in the black, and I'll show you a goddamn dolt.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 29, 2009 4:11 PM

June 24, 2009

This a selling point?`

I do not understand, yet I accept, that phramaceutical firms are considered evil. "Bastards! Curing our diseases -- for money!" But I do not believe that people feel the same about physicians.

Derek Thompson at the Atlantic asks "Do Doctors Deserve to be Paid Less?"

physicianincome.png

It's a fair article but Thompson does not say "No;" I will. I think attracting the best and the brightest to the medical profession and then compensating them well for the stress and difficulty is pretty well accepted.

Yeah, I'll defend Tiger Woods's income and Dick Grasso's retirement package. But I think most Americans are pretty cool with thier doctor making money, and I do not think paying them less will poll well.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2009

Translation

The White is now admitting that many of the President's promises in his speech to the AMA on health care will not be possible. Jim Lindgren at Volkh has the details and this handy translation:

In other words, if you believed something closer to the opposite of what Obama promised, that would be closer to the truth. When Obama said he “will keep this promise”:

If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.

he actually meant:

If you like your doctor, many of you will NOT be able to keep your doctor. Period.

And when Obama said he “will keep this promise”:

If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.

Obama really meant:

If you like your health care plan, many – perhaps most – of you will NOT be able to keep your health care plan. Period. Someone – perhaps your employer – may take it away. It all depends on how things work out.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2009

The Rope to Hang Themselves

Major Garret tweets:

Roaring applause as Obama tells AMA "we need to get this done" on health care reform. Repeats if you like your doctor/plan, u will save $$

Enjoy being government workers, kids! Eight years of college and residency to staff the DMV.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2009

Stimulus!

New downtown Knoxville Mercy hospital shelved

Mercy Health Partners said Thursday it has shelved plans to build a new downtown hospital because of the economy and uncertainty over the national health care debate.

The unanimous decision made by Mercy's board of directors comes a year after the health system announced that it would build a $400 million replacement facility on the site of the former Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee if certain financial benchmarks were met.


But, but, they're just going to tax the rich!

Hat-tip: Instapundit -- your go-to source for Knoxville news!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 8, 2009

I Won!

Part of me is excited that the first draft on a health care bill looks so bad. The left could easily overreach on this topic and arouse a polity already antagonized by bailouts and deficit spending.

On the other hand, they have both houses of Congress and the White House -- how many of these awful provisions might pass? Keith Hennessey (quickly becoming a favorite of mine) provides "15 things to know about the Kennedy-Dodd Health Care Bill."

I'll not excerpt. All fifteen are pretty bad, Hennessey expresses them clearly and concisely. The sum is that no semblance of a private system would remain. Private plans would be so regulated as to become government plans. There will be no remnant of "insurance" as coverage will be guaranteed without allowance for any extra charges for risky behavior or existing condition. "Children" (I borrow Hennessey's scare quotes) up to age 26 would have to be covered on a parent's plan. People with up to 500% of the poverty line would qualify for a Federal subsidy.

Oh, and there will be both individual and employer mandates. Yes, this is just what a weak economy needs.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Welcome to the blogroll, Keith Hennessey (Mom will be so proud!) Hennessey has a knack for explaining the unintended consequences of stupid government behavior, but I repeat myself...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM | Comments (0)

June 2, 2009

Moonstruck Healthcare

Jimmy P. goes for a movie allusion from 1987's "Moonstruck."

There are three kinds of pipe. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where that’s gotten you. Then there’s bronze, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then there’s copper, which is the only pipe I use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

Or as Team Obama might put it:
There are three kinds of healthcare systems. There is what you have, which is garbage and you can see where that’s gotten you. Then there’s the GOP free market system, which is very good unless something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. And then there’s Obamacare, which is the system America should use. It costs money. It costs money because it saves money.

And then some good serious stuff...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What's said in the movie is truth, while what's said in the real world is fiction...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 2, 2009 12:58 PM

June 1, 2009

What's Phase Two Again?

Maya MacGuineas has a superb column in the WaPo today, exploding the myth that the problem with health care is that government is not buying enough of it.

"Health-care reform is entitlement reform" has become a mantra of the Obama administration. The idea is that Congress can add a massive health-care program this year -- covering the uninsured -- and use the same measures that pay for the health reform to fix the broader budget problems. If that sounds too good to be true, there's a reason.

She takes the proponents' arguments seriously enough to refute them. Yes, it would help some to broaden the risk pool; yes it would help some to move patients from the ER to scheduled office visits. But to think that marginal savings would cancel or seriously mitigate the cost of providing coverage for tens of millions of additional recipients is absurd.

Hat-tip: Professor Makiw

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2009

O'Sullivan's Law and Outrageous Ingratitude

Before I get to the bone-crunching ingratitude part, I would like to offer a shout out to many friends who have raised money for MS on my behalf. ThreeSources own Boulder Refugee walked, a long time reader is training for a 100+ mile bike ride in the Texas summer sun, and I think I heard something about some young ladies in Minnesota. I am humbled by your thoughts and it has been an honor to toss in a few dollars to sponsor you.

O'Sullivan's law states that "All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing." In a great column, John O'Sullivan provides the ACLU among other examples. Alert readers see where this is going.

I just received the following email from the MS Society. Your walking and biking and my money is buying this:


World MS Day GOAL:
50,000 letters to Congress
by midnight on
Wednesday, May 27th!

Demand quality, affordable health care for Americans living with MS.

Click here to send a letter to your elected officials:

Rep. Jared Polis
Sen. Mark Udall
Sen. Michael Bennet



Dear John,

May 27 marks the first-ever World MS Day and over 100 nations around the globe are joining together to build awareness for multiple sclerosis. One of the greatest overarching needs around the world is for quality, affordable health care to ensure all people with MS can lead a life of possibility, dignity and fulfillment.

Here in the United States, for the first time in nearly 17 years Washington leaders appear serious about fixing our broken health care system. Tell Congress that now is the time to fix health care. Help us reach our goal: 50,000 letters to Congress by midnight on May 27th!

We have an incredible opportunity to make our voices heard in support of accessible, affordable health care coverage for all. Our legislators need to know that it is time for the right reforms right now.

As I write this, National MS Society staff and volunteers are meeting with members of Congress about the Society's health care reforms principles. These principles need to be incorporated into new health care policies if people with MS are going to be able to move forward with their lives.

In honor of World MS Day, let us unite to support these efforts with a national wave of grassroots action. Will you help? Write your legislators and speak out for quality, affordable health care by midnight on World MS Day, May 27th.

Decisions your elected leaders are about to make will impact how we receive our health care for generations to come. We can't miss this opportunity!

Below is the set of health care reform principles developed by Society volunteers and activists. With your help, we can put these principles in front of our policymakers. They include:


Accessible health care coverage
Affordable health care services and coverage
Standards for coverage of specific treatments
Elimination of disparities in care
Comprehensive, quality health care available to all
Increased value of health care
Access to high-quality, long-term supports and services
Take action now - tell your legislators to create health care policies that work for people living with MS and their families.

If we can deliver 50,000 letters to Congress by midnight on World MS Day, we will send the message that we are united on behalf of all people affected by MS.

Thank you for standing with me at this important moment,

Scott Hanson
MS Activist, diagnosed in 1998


What a complete and utter crock! MS patients need the innovation from a robust pharmaceutical sector. This will come with property rights and reduced government interference. Every single one of Mister Hanson's goals would be counter-productive to MS patients.

Thundering ingratitude time. Thanks everybody and enjoy your current plans; next year, don't. I do not suspect that any other "disease" group is much better. By O'Sullivan's Law, they won't be for long. And, to be fair, they do help families who are caring for MS patients and I have little doubt much of the money is well spent. But, thanks-but-no-thanks boys, I am not giving another dime to promote socialized medicine.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | Comments (3)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Hmmm, that is a conundrum. I recall that my father had a similar dilemma with AARP. They offer great benefits for seniors, but are one of the most liberal organizations on the planet and actively work to elect Democrats. Perhaps a better solution would be for those of us who have/do support the MS Society to have a letter campaign of our own to Mr. Hanson?

Beyond that, I'm intrigued by your idea of having an NRA-like org for free market ideas. How do we get started?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 26, 2009 12:11 PM
But jk thinks:

On our freedom advocacy group, I was thinking that we apply for a government grant...

Glad you're still speaking to me, br. There are shades of gray in the MS Society but the AARP is evil incarnate. That discount hotel room requires too high a price in liberty -- you see their collectivist TV and magazine ads. One year from today I plan to mail them a shredded membership card and a very long letter.

I did have a thought of 500,000 letters to Hanson, but I have no doubt the sentiment runs through the entire organization. I surrender, sorry.

Perhaps I should start a "Gimps Against Government" group. I have what the media call "Moral Authority" on the issue. My single, non-joke, appearance on Best of the Web was on this topic.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2009 12:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I had a similar epiphany when I received an email from ConsumerReports.org asking me to write my congressman asking for credit card reform. (They want laws to regulate the revolving credit industry, thus diminishing market forces and competition.) This combined with my belief that Consumer Reports magazine is largely responsible for the false belief of the superior quality of Japanese cars to anything else on the planet may be enough for me to cancel my web membership with them.

Posted by: johngalt at May 26, 2009 1:42 PM

May 19, 2009

Graphic Metaphor

If Michael Steele cannot turn this into a good GOP commercial, he really does have to step down.

At issue are "virtual colonoscopies," or CT scans of the abdomen. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of U.S. cancer death but one of the most preventable. Found early, the cure rate is 93%, but only 8% at later stages. Virtual colonoscopies are likely to boost screenings because they are quicker, more comfortable and significantly cheaper than the standard "optical" procedure, which involves anesthesia and threading an endoscope through the lower intestine.

The WSJ Ed Page is making a serious point about allowing the government to ration health care. Once they decide that a it's cheaper to rotorooter everyone's ass (it's part of serious political commentary -- I don't say these things to be prurient!) than the less intrusive procedure will go away.

Chairman Steele, it's up to you, although a YouTube® contest inviting people to submit their own ads might be a start...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 9, 2009

Quote of the year

On FNC's 'Forbes on FOX' show this morning, in response to editor Bill Baldwin's question, "Listen David, I want an answer to this question: What do you do when somebody's got a twenty thousand dollar a month cancer problem, and the insurance companies and even the states are going to be playing hot potato. 'I don't want that, dump it on somebody else.' "

John Rutledge fired back:

"That's easy, Bill. If you have nationalized health care you make them stand in line until they die."

Snap!

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:35 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

Huzzah! The rejoinder from which there is just no coming back.

Posted by: Keith at May 10, 2009 1:07 AM

May 5, 2009

Regulation by Thuggery Department

"Do things our way or we will come after you!"

Insurers are trying to head off creation of a government insurance plan that would compete with them — something many Democrats favor but which private insurers say would drive them out of business.

Instead health insurers have offered to submit to a series of restrictions they contend would add up to a fairer marketplace and cut into the ranks of the 50 million uninsured.

The latest came Tuesday as the head of the leading private insurance group told senators that women should no longer be charged more than men in the individual market, as long as all Americans are required to get insurance coverage..


I wonder why "Health care costs for women tend to be higher during childbearing years." Obviously, it is pure discrimination. That damned patriarchy again. Somewhere, Helen Reddy is roaring.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith thinks:

jk: I just go crazy when I read stuff like this about health insurance.

First, let's admit that one of the biggest causes of the increasing cost of medical treatment is insurance, especially government insurance. Were medical care subject to the same constraints that everything else in the household budget already are, and the individual went from being a beneficiary to a consumer, demand would go down, and so would prices. But when the one using the service isn't the one paying for it, there is no incentive to curb overutilization.

Second, on those rare occasions I visit the doctor, I generally find there are (this isn't an exact count, just an impression) four women in the waiting room for every man. Actuarily speaking, any insurance carrier has to price risks based on expected losses. If women use more treatment (which is my assumption, and I would love someone to produce numbers on this), then of course their premiums should be higher than those of men.

Third, the masses simply do not understand the simple principle that any insurer, including a health insurer, has to take in in premiums and investment income at least as much as they pay out in losses and costs. If not, they would be fools to be in business, wouldn't they? Why would they voluntarily operate at a permanent loss? If the average American is going to use $3,600 in medical care a year, he's going to have to pay $300 a month in premiums to get it.

Fourth, this stuff about all these poor uninsured people makes me crosseyed. A little truth about all these millions of people is in order:

http://tinyurl.com/d7h8ld

Fine, I'm uncompassionate. So sue me. The above ought to be more than enough to ignite a healthy, market-based discussion.

One last bleat: "...as long as all Americans are required to get insurance coverage..." is a statement that ought to make you all cringe. When that happens, grab your wallets tightly, because it will drive all costs up, not down.

Posted by: Keith at May 5, 2009 6:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I heartily recommend Arnold Kling's Crisis of Abundance. Among its virtues are are a serious look at insulation from costs. The rest of the book is great as well. Kling sees a government role in providing care for both the very poor and the very sick, and I don't know that all ThreeSourcers would be on board. But his definition of the trade-offs is vital to the discussion.

My favorite examples are laser eye-correction and maternity care. Both of these fields which have market forces: Lasik is not covered by most insurance, and consumers of maternity care have a few months to plan and select. In both of these fields, the quality of care has increased while the costs have plummeted. It's almost as if that market thingy works or something.

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2009 6:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Uncompassionate?" Do you not wish the best for your fellow man?

No, you are not "uncompassionate" as the statists charge. To meet their test for "compassionate" you must be willing to enter certain of your neighbor's homes and commit theft, then use that stolen wealth to compensate bureaucrats who then enter certain of your neighbor's businesses and force them to give medical care to anyone who makes that demand upon them, regardless of their ability to remit compensation.

The name for the mindset that can condone this is not "compassion" but "resentment."

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2009 3:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Keith, +1. It's much of what I've been saying for ages.

A lot of things become self-evident once you apply a little thought. What clued me in on insurance driving up health care costs was overhearing some schmuck saying, "If you've got coverage, you might as well use it."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at May 6, 2009 3:26 PM

April 1, 2009

Wow, Obama Fixed Healthcare!

Walgreens Offers Free Healthcare For Those With Recent Job Loss

Walgreen will offer free clinic visits to the unemployed and uninsured for the rest of the year, providing tests and routine treatment for minor ailments through its walk-in clinics, though patients will still pay for prescriptions.

Walgreen said patients who lose their job and health insurance after March 31 will be able to get free treatment at its in-store Take Care clinics for respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments. Typically those treatments cost $59 or more for patients with no insurance.


Boom. They already offer a 90 day supply of generics for $12, and $59 nurse appointments for us poor folks who are employed and insured. Wal-Mart and CVS will probably pile on this as well. No gub'mint, no new taxes, no market distortions.

Hat-tip: Mamapundit via Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 1:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2009

Sad to see M&A?

I never thought the day would come when I would be sad to see a big corporate takeover. It generally brings out my inner Schumpeter. Especially in this economy, we need deals, deals, and deals.

Two great articles, however, have ruined my enthusiasm for Merck - Schering Plough. Derek Lowe, blogging at the Atlantic, doesn't see the move as friendly to R&D:

I have to say, I'm sorry to see the end of both. Drug discovery is risky and complicated, and it needs as many different viewpoints and shots on goal as possible. Big mergers like this don't help the industry's ecology much. Today's merger isn't as disturbing as the Blob-like growth of Pfizer, but it's still not happy news.

Even worse is the WSJ Ed Page's clear refutation of animal spirits in the deal. They see it as Big Pharma (boo! hiss! bastards!!!) retrenching in advance of a bad government climate disfavoring innovation.
These deals are good short-term news for shareholders of the target companies, some of whom have been beaten down for years. Merck's offer for Schering-Plough, for example, is a 34% premium over Friday's close. But the deals also come amid a worsening political (and hence economic) climate for drug makers and health-care stocks generally. Aside from the merger premiums of recent few days, health stocks have been hammered in 2009.
[...]
So it's no wonder that, this time, drug companies are looking to diversify both geographically and into biotechnology. Yet neither one is all that safe a haven. The U.S. is the last major pharmaceutical market without universal price controls, and as such has been the world's main financier of new drug discoveries. In a world of government-run and -priced health care, biotech innovation will also be as much at risk as traditional drug development. The biggest price we may pay for a health-care system run from Washington are the therapies we never get as a result.

For investors and the economy, the recent rout in health stocks is a case of wealth destruction. For the rest of us, it's also a sign of the health destruction that will result if Washington's current policy trajectory becomes law.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:53 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah. Try explaining that last bit to even an above average Obama voter.

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2009 3:04 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Agreed that Big Pharma is hunkering down and that removal of the profit motive will kill innovation and therefore new therapies. Assuming we avoid that pitfall (here's hoping), the consolidation is not a bad thing. Truth is, large companies, as a breed, are terrible at ground-breaking innovation. They tend to pursue low-risk courses and have bureaucratic proceeds that stifle rapid movement. Thus, Big Pharma tends to partner with Little Pharma. The little guys develop the promising compounds, but don't have the money to get them to market. Big Pharma has the ~$1 billion that it takes to bring a drug to market and that's where they step. Schumpeter lives, unless Obama kills him.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 11, 2009 12:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Normally, I'm with you, br, but this wave doesn't smell right. M&A activity in a less distorted market would do everything you say. I think Lowe and Gigot have valid concerns that these deals are only good in a distorted market and would not necessarily make sense without the shadow of government takeover.

My tireless (perhaps tiresome) drumbeat is that government controls scare private investment out of the sector (you gonna buy pharma today?) That being the case (how's my subjunctive, Keith?) the smaller, efficient, innovative firms will be starved of capital and will have to hide out as divisions of big firms.

Full disclosure: my current drug trial is a Genetech-developed compound but the trial is done by Roche. I guess their relationship is a little more formal now.

Posted by: jk at March 11, 2009 12:36 PM

February 24, 2009

"Obama Fixed It!"

Blog Brother Johngalt asked me to look for warning signs of socialized medicine. I am happy to address his concerns with a report that the nursing staff of Advanced Neurology is professional, compassionate and generally lovely in every way.

But all is not quiet. One staff member was discussing that she had brought in many of her favorite pens and she was protecting them from intra-office theft. I remarked that they should be exempt because they get all those cool pens from the drug companies' sales reps.

"Obama fixed that!" cried another staff member (who obviously has not gotten the message of hope and change) "They can't do that anymore." I restored a smile when I played along, saying "Now I can sleep at night -- I was so worried that my doctor would be bought out by a pen and a box of Kleenex."

I follow pharmaceutical regulation -- I thought -- closely and had missed this pearl. I need to do a little research but don't think he was making this up. I know that marketing costs are a real casus belli to the collectivists -- it is somehow evil to spend money educating your customers and wasteful to promote your product. I'm sure that's why Coke and Budweiser do it.

But this is the world that suffering businesses will have to navigate to grow in difficult times: the proverbial anvil thrown to a drowning man. It will hurt the pharmaceutical companies, pen manufacturers, and as my fellow doubter suggested "I think all the restaurants in the area will close; I never see any pens in there but pharma ones."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2009

Daschle's Revenge

Tom Daschle's sudden withdrawal as HHS Secretary nominee was a banner moment for American individual liberty. But perhaps we breathed too easily too soon.

Eight days ago JK wrote,

"As far as getting somebody worse, I've no doubt that there are worse ideologues than Senator Daschle. Yet his book about Health Care calls for an American equivalent to the NHS's NICE panel which would provide approval of all treatments and procedures based on government-decided efficacy and cost efficiency. Senator Daschle is radical enough to scare me and is a sophisticated enough player that he seems likely to be able to achieve many of his goals."

If only JK had known how prescient those words might be. The Hudson Institute's Betsy McCaughey quotes the former senator thusly:

A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

So we shouldn't be surprised to find (McCaughey link) a Daschle-like health care trojan horse in the "we can't afford to delay it" economic stimulus bill, H.R. 1:

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system. [Emphasis mine.]

The good news is that this was discovered, and is seeing the light of day on Fox News. The bad news? What the hell ELSE is in there??

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:31 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words, jg, and thanks for beating me to this post. I've had two people email it to me today.

I told my brother-in-law this weekend that "we can waste a trillion dollars and survive, but once we nationalize medicine, rewind welfare reform to LBJ levels, and prop up unions, it's game over."

Okay it's a rhetorical device to be flip about $1T -- and I was chastised for it. But I am serious, while we and Senator Collins look at the difference between $750B and $900B, we are missing -- as you say -- huge hunks of vanishing liberty.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2009 4:07 PM

February 3, 2009

Headline of the Day

Who says there's no good news?

Loss of Daschle clouds health reform prospects -- AP

In other administration news:

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the leading candidate for surgeon general, is CNN’s chief medical correspondent. His résumé as a practicing neurosurgeon — and one of People magazine’s “sexiest men alive” in 2003 — is not that of a traditional journalist. But he reported on the health records of the presidential candidates last year, along with their health care proposals.

I've no doubt that some considered C. Everett Koop real hot in an understated way -- but "sexiest man alive" for Surgeon General? Hope and Change, baby!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2008

Whom We Put In Charge

Quote of the Day? You decide. The following is from a WSJ news piece:

Rep. Stark also advocates giving the secretary of health and human services -- Mr. Obama's pick is former Sen. Tom Daschle -- the authority to negotiate prices of prescription drugs covered under Medicare and the new government program. "This idea that we just pay anything pharmaceutical companies are going to charge is ludicrous," Rep. Stark says of Medicare's current drug benefit.

Ludicrous. That private companies charge what they feel is appropriate for the products that they develop. It is so obvious to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's health panel that Government should be setting prices for pharmaceuticals.

I think there is much to be said for Charles Krauthammer's theory that President-elect Obama's centrist picks on economics and foreign policy -- which I have met with approbation -- represent a desire to make those things "go away" so he can remake the energy and health care sectors in a top-down, government model.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | Comments (5)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's this idea that one man decides what to pay pharmaceutical companies that's ridiculous.

Don't like the price, don't pay it. Companies ask prices because that's what they calculate enough people will pay to maximize profit.

Liberals say that our fears are overblown, because somehow -- they claim -- Obama isn't pushing for government-run health care. When government is dictating the price, how is it not government-run?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 25, 2008 11:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah. Government is going to compete with private business and dictate prices for the millions it provides for already -- but they say this is not a government takeover.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2008 11:07 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Apparently, The Refugee is going to have to take the dissenting viewpoint on this one.

It is certainly worth arguing whether or not the government should be in the medical insurance business in the first place. But that's not the issue here, and government is in the insurance business whether we like it or not.

Therefore, it is only prudent business that the government, as the payer of the claim, negotiate the best possible price. The government negotiates prices on every piece of business via competitive bid, why not negotiate on pharmaceuticals? Indeed, it is The Refugees money (and JK, and PE, etc. etc.) they darn well should negotiate the best possible deal! "List price" is often just a starting price for negotiations, with the seller calculating that the savvy buyer will negotiate down to a number more representative of the "market." If the government will pay whatever Big Pharma demands, then why should they not add another zero? And another? Rational businesspeople would do so.

The boys and girls at Big Pharma are grown-ups. If the price demanded is too low, they can always say, "Sorry, I can't sell it to you at that price."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 26, 2008 12:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot disagree more, spirit of the holidays notwithstanding.

Big Boys at Big Pharma can say no as long as a vibrant private market remains. I fear the government is soon on its way to monopsony power in pharmaceuticals. In addition, private firms can elect to peg their maximum cost to the government price.

Secretary Daschle will have outrageous bargaining power but he will not have good information. His prices will be based on politics -- a real bottom -up market would be priced on need.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2008 12:32 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If it were a case where the government said, "You'll sell it to us at this price - or else," The Refugee would be right with you. But that's not the case - yet.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 26, 2008 12:55 PM

December 10, 2008

On Health Insurances

... and here I was. The only one, I thought, who rants and raves to his co-workers about the employee-provided health insurance fetish that American workers are accustomed to.

There's much too much to excerpt here.

Why Tie Health Insurance to a Job?: One thing we can all agree on is that portable coverage is more secure.

I come at this topic from the 1099 perspective. As a sole-proprietor, I pay all those "benefits" out of pocket. Health insurance, retirement, "social security" benefits, etc. But I own those products, and they are portable to me, and I can select the level of coverage that suits me.

Your company doesn't pay your car or homeowner's insurance. Why should it cover a trip to the doctor?

Posted by AlexC at 11:20 AM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

It's not the heat, it's the demagoguery!

Both President Bush and Senator McCain had excellent proposals to make it tax-neutral to buy your own insurance, ending the bias that preserves the current system. President Bush even understood the plan.

"Senator McCain wants to tax your health benefits for the first time ever!" screamed the ads. I salute Wyden for coauthoring this piece (Maybe Sen. Salazar is not the least worst Democrat), but the American voters did not select tax neutrality; President-elect Obama and HHS Secretary Daschle are not looking for free-market reforms. Everybody relying on business or government is a nice foundation for the upcoming power grab.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2008 12:50 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Good piece all-around. He mentions that it's government tax policies that artificially cheapen company-subsidized health insurance, because buying your own insurance is with after-tax dollars. That's the chief point.

As I've pointed out before, Americans' typical thinking that "I might as well use the coverage I have" is a big factor in driving up health care costs. Supply and demand. Someone figures he's covered for $X a year, so he'll use every penny. The insurer then has to raise rates, and people stupidly wonder why they're paying higher premiums. They think they can get $X worth of health care per year when their premiums are lower.

I just signed up for my employer's new high-deductible plan, which is mostly what I've been waiting for. It makes me "eligible" for an HSA account. Yeah. "Eligible" to save my money, tax-free, by jumping through the hoops that government holds up.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 10, 2008 2:04 PM
But jk thinks:

The Ownership Society in action, Perry!

Actually, I would dig an HSA. I have a "flex-plan" which is the same deal, only there are more hoops and if I don't spend as much as I've saved in a single year (only a government program) I am penalized by losing the difference. Boom.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2008 2:17 PM
But AlexC thinks:

oh, i'm also for removing automatic withholding taxes from W-2 employees.

you should get a bill from your government, or be prepared to estimate your tax payment.

but the government fears that.

Posted by: AlexC at December 10, 2008 4:37 PM

December 9, 2008

Worse Than I Thought

I posted last week that President-elect Obama's apparent centrism on foreign policy and economics should not hide the leftward lurch of Senator Daschle at HHS and the drive for universal health care.

The WSJ Ed Page today reinforces that view. The lessons learned from HillaryCare were how to better push something though, not to inculcate any squeamishness about taking over 17% of GDP:

And since the lessons they learned from the HillaryCare fiasco are political, and not substantive, they are already moving full-speed ahead.

This mentality is nicely captured by Tom Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader who Barack Obama has tapped to run Health and Human Services. "I think that ideological differences and disputes over policy weren't really to blame," he writes of 1994 in his book "Critical," published earlier this year. Despite "a general agreement on basic reform principles," the Clintons botched the political timing by focusing on the budget, trade and other priorities before HillaryCare.


President Obama will not let the niceties of democratic process and people's representation get in the way this time. The editorial describes how sympathetic members are being installed in the Congressional Budget Office to give it a favorable score, and how a coalition of rent-seeking businesses has been allied with unions and AARP to clear the way.
Most disturbingly, Democrats are talking up "budget reconciliation" to pass a health overhaul. This process was created in 1974 and allows legislation dealing with government finances to be whisked through Congress on a simple majority after 20 hours of debate. In other words, it cuts out the minority by precluding a filibuster. Mr. Daschle writes that reform "is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol," and Mr. Baucus has said he's open to the option.

I'll end it with that to leave a little cheer in this dire post. Senator Tom Daschle says reform "is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol." You slay me, Tom.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

December 5, 2008

The Dark Side of the Elections

I've been full of good cheer. The holiday season, pride in my country's peaceful transfer of power, maybe a little hope and change running up my leg -- I don't know. President-elect Obama's early picks for his economic and foreign policy teams have been superb.

Thankfully, I've a couple of links to bring you down.

Senator Daschle is speaking in my hometown today. Our next Secretary of HHS isn't going to let a little Depression get in the way of spreading socialism:

WASHINGTON -- Former Sen. Tom Daschle, who is slated to oversee health-care policy in the Obama administration, is kicking off the effort to pass a comprehensive health-care plan.

In a speech to be delivered Friday in Denver, Mr. Daschle will say, "The president-elect made health-care reform one of his top priorities of his campaign, and I am here to tell you that his commitment to changing the health-care system remains strong and focused."

Mr. Daschle will emphasize the importance of moving forward even amid the economic crisis, noting that rising health-care costs put more pressure on businesses and must be addressed. The speech does not lay out any specific timetables for action on health care by the Obama administration.


There are some videos up at www.change.gov, and they have been getting all kind of good ideas from the public.

First, S.D. from Delaware tells a sad story of his mother who had bone cancer. She got her medication free from the Pharma companies on the Patient Assist Programs. But in a (admittedly horrible) mix-up, the free drugs stopped coming. S.D. knows when the government starts handing out free drugs, there will never be an interruption of service or paperwork run-around.

[A neonatologist who treats premature infants in Pennsylvania is] concerned about the curtailment of services for special needs children and hopes the new administration will be able to provide access to care for “ALL children regardless of the parents’ income.”

The strains on the current system are leading a lot of young people to question whether they can truly afford to pursue a career in health care. K.J. is in her second year of medical school in South Carolina.


Young K.J. hopes that government will take over health care so that she can look forward to living la vida loco as a public service bureaucrat after she has completed the rigors of Med School and Residency -- you go girl!

The company I work for will be a prime target for the new pay-or-play rules. We have 300 employees and the heath benefits are, let me say, less than spectacular. Many ThreeSourcers have worked or still work at the same place and I think I hear their screams as they read my understatement. No doubt 298 will applaud Secretary Daschle ordering the big bad Corporation to pay. Yet the next time they would like to hire somebody to help in their department, or feel they deserve a raise, they'll have less of a chance (Monsieur Bastiat, call you office!)

The jobs numbers are off 533,000 today. On what economic planet do they think mandating benefits will reverse this?

UPDATE: Adjusted the jobs number down from 575K. I don't want ThreeSources to be accused of peddling gloom-and-doom.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2008

The Chrysler Canary - Introducing A Whole New Hybrid

Numerous recent articles, including this one from the WSJ, have reported Chrysler's ongoing attempts to find someone - anyone - (GM, Renault, Nissan) to merge with. To date, the talks have failed for a variety of reasons. Certainly, the other US auto makers are equally frail. All of the articles cite the cost of retiree health care and worker benefits (e.g., "job banks") as barriers to any deal. The UAW is in a position to disrupt, if not quash, any merger deals. It is interesting to note, however, those parties not mentioned in any deals: major Japanese auto makers (Toyota, Honda). Neither of these companies have the burdensome union contract costs to build into their cars. And, it would appear, they are not anxious to add nearly $4,000 to the fixed cost of every car they make. Those companies considering any mergers already have "big labor" contracts. Of course, we've seen the Daimler-Chysler movie and we know how it ends.

Chrysler is the canary in the US economic coal mine. The UAW contracts are so ingrained that they have become entitlements. These entitlements, and that is the right word, have become so burdensome that the companies can no longer be competitive on a national scale, let alone globally. Even as private organizations, the car companies cannot shed them even when faced with almost certain death.

As the US moves toward a hybid economy in which the government assumes the obligations of private business including "universal healthcare," we should look in the bird cage where Chrysler is barely kicking. As we take the Michigan model to a national scale, how can anyone believe that burdening the entire economy with Detroit-style entitlements will do anything to help the economy grow and create jobs? We've seen this movie, too. It's called "Old Europe."

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2008

High Fructose Corn Syrup Meets Rodney Dangerfield

Having apparently concluded that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has gotten a bad rap, the Corn Refiners Association has initiated a multi-media campaign to soothe a nervous nation. According to the association, HFCS is "nutritionally the same as table sugar with the same number of calories."

Wow. The same nutritional value as processed granulated sugar. That's a relief.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:58 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

It's unpatriotic to eat any corn products. Corn is for fuel!

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2008 11:28 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Personally, jk, I prefer my corn to be fed to cows, which I then eat.

This union, like any other, is just a bunch of goddamn morons. Nutritional value. In other words, both will make you equally fat, so it again is a matter of *flavor* and nothing else.

Now, any freshman chemistry student could easily demonstrate why their claims are typical bull**** from state-worshipping rent-seekers.

"HFCS, table sugar, honey, and several fruit juices all contain the same simple sugars."

Chemically, sucrose is more complex, needing sucrase to be digested. A sucrose molecule is the joining of one glucose molecule with one fructose molecule. Cut off a hydrogen atom from the glucose molecule, cut off an oxygen-hydrogen arm from the sucrose molecule, and the former will have an oxygen atom ready to bond with a carbon atom of the latter.

"HFCS is safe and no different from other common sweeteners like table sugar and honey."

Um, who ever asserted it's NOT safe?

"HFCS has the same number of calories as table sugar."

Wrong. There's *roughly* the same energy contained in each, but not "the same":

Let's compare C12H22O11 with two molecules of C6H12O6. Glucose and fructose are isomers, meaning they have the same molecular formula. Compared to two molecules of fructose, a molecule of sucrose has one fewer C-O bond (85.5 kilocalories per mole) and two fewer O-H bonds (111 kilocalories per mole per bond). That comes out to 307.5 fewer kilocalories (what we call a "calorie") per 6.022x10^23 molecules of sucrose, which is approximately 0.755 pounds.

Well, 300 calories per 3/4ths pound of sugar is hardly significant, especially considering a banana or piece of chocolate alone can be ~100 calories. But it's scientifically dishonest to claim "the same" when the numbers prove otherwise.

Oh, and I didn't even have to come up with an entire press kit to bore anybody.

"HFCS is equal in sweetness to table sugar."

And strychnine is as deadly as arsenic. So what?

Actually, most Americans might believe that fructose and sucrose are equally sweet, but it's more accurate to say they're only *similarly* sweet. I invite anyone to a blind taste test of Pepsi, Coca Cola, what have you, sweetened with cane sugar versus U.S. corn sugar. It's like eating rump roast all your life and then trying filet mignon for the first time.

There's just no comparison. When I'm in the Philippines, I can't get enough Royal. Then I come home and lament the pathetic flavor of any American orange soda.

"HFCS keeps foods fresh. It enhances fruit and spice flavors. "It retains moisture in bran cereals and helps keep breakfast bars moist."

So what? The state-worshipping rent-seekers say this like it's a unique property.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 10, 2008 3:12 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

As the governor in "Blazing Saddles," played by Mel Brooks, said, "Men, we've got to do something to protect our phony-balony jobs!" In this case, it might be phony-balony subsidies, but no subsidies - no jobs in the refiners association.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 10, 2008 9:36 PM

August 6, 2008

Michael Moore, call your Office!

Gimme that old time socialized medicine. BBC:

The cleanliness of most NHS hospitals in England is threatened by frequent invasions of rats, fleas, bedbugs, flies and cockroaches, a report claims.

Figures released by the Conservatives show that 70% of NHS Trusts brought in pest controllers at least 50 times between January 2006 and March 2008.


Hat-tip: Samizdata

Posted by John Kranz at 6:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2008

Wi-Fi Allergy

Stop the earth - I want off.

Seriously, didn't most people have that same reaction to the 1970's nutjobs who wanted to outlaw drilling for oil in this country because it was "dirty?" Leave the idiots alone and look what it gets you - politicians who say things like "gasoline prices are not based on supply and demand, they're being driven up by reckless speculators and obscene oil company profits" and "we can't drill our way out of this problem" when, in fact, that is the ONLY way to bring gasoline prices down. And it makes us "less dependent on foreign oil" at the same time.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:33 PM

April 25, 2008

What Else Am I Guaranteed?

Senator Wyden has a new website: Stand Tall for America

Every American should be guaranteed health care that can never be taken away. Not by your boss, not by the government, not by an insurance company.

And Senator Ron Wyden's Healthy Americans Act will do just that.

Join the grassroots movement for universal health care.


The front page has a clever video about all the people staying in bad jobs for their health care -- kind of Monster-dot-com-ish but pretty clever by U. S. Senate standards.

I need not preach to the ThreeSources choir that health care coming from your employer comes from a surfeit of gub'mint intrusion, not paucity. Postwar price controls got us into this mess, yet Senator Wyden and "12 senators from both parties" think only government can get us out.

What else should Government guarantee me? I think I should have car insurance, whether I pay the premium, or drive drunk. I'M AN AMERICAN DAMMIT! And I don't think anybody should have to drink cheap beer. How 'bout it Ron, will you stand tall for us?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM

February 25, 2008

Socialized Medicine


That right wing rag, the New York Times, has published an article that is clearly designed to slow the adoption of universal health care. It seems that a 47 year old British Woman would like to purchase Avastin.

One such case was Debbie Hirst’s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.

By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.

“I said, ‘Where does that leave me?’ He said, ‘If you pay for Avastin, you’ll have to pay for everything’ ” — in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.

Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.


I remember the original HillaryCare's having a $1,000 fine to people who paid for private treatment. I watched the debate the other night and she still assures the Democrat faithful that her plan was killed by the HMOs and special interests. I seem to remember the $1000 fine.

Speaking of health care utopias, I hope everyone looks at Michael Stastny's pictures from Cuba.

Hat-tip: Mankiw for the NHS/Avastin patient and Megan McArdle guesting at Instapundit for the Cuba pix.

UPDATE: Samizdat Philip Chaston links to the Inter-Faith Gown. The NHS cannot provide or allow the purchase of modern medicine -- but they can cater to 7th Century sensibilities "to preserve the modesty of patients whose culture or religion requires them to be more modestly clothed."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:26 PM

January 30, 2008

Body Trafficking

Who knew there was a market? (well, I did)

A nurse admitted Wednesday he plucked body parts from 244 corpses in Philadelphia and helped forge paperwork so the parts, some of them diseased, could be used in unsuspecting patients.

Lee Cruceta, 35, of Monroe, N.Y., was the lead cutter in a group that trafficked in more than 1,000 stolen body parts for the lucrative transplant market, authorities say.

Cruceta pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy, taking part in a corrupt organization, abuse of a corpse and 244 counts each of theft and forgery.

Prosecutors also expect accused ringleader Michael Mastromarino, 44, of New York, to plead guilty, Assistant Philadelphia District Attorney Bruce Sagel told a judge.

Mastromarino, a former oral surgeon, paid funeral directors $1,000 per corpse, then sold the parts to tissue banks, Sagel said. The body parts fetched up to $10,000 apiece, though the tissue banks resold them to hospitals for many times that amount, he said.


Actually, I think if more people were allowed to sell the body parts (post-death, where applicable), there would be a lot more available for transplants etc.

Gruesome? Well... not as much as other "procedures" in medicine today. Certainly not as icky as the under-the-radar corpse trade.

Think about it.

You could sell a kidney, while you're still alive. Yes, the kidneys would go to the highest bidders. But as more kidneys came on the market (we've all got a spare), prices would fall.

Right now your drivers license says "ORGAN DONOR"... what if it said "ORGAN SELLER"?

Hospitals would then get a cut (heh) of the cost for handling fees. Brokers would be around to take care of the transaction. An entire on-the-up-and-up economy would be born.

Side benny is that people would take care of their gear to fetch the best price.

"Low cholesterol?" Clean bill of sale.

"Low weight?" Mo' money.

"No smoking?" Cough up the cash.

Altruism only gets you so far, that's why we have waiting lists... but people are dying all the time.

Posted by AlexC at 6:02 PM | Comments (1)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I don't believe the govt has thought about it, but by accident, it is prevented. You see, you REALLY want that flat screen tv. Mkay. That lazy spouse of yours without health insurance, a job or life insurance ... they'll be taking a ride down the stairs on their neck so you can harvest his 'net worth'.

Got a lot of kids? Remember that scene in Monty Python's 'The meaning of life' where the father tells the kids that he cannot afford to feed them so he is selling them to the Pharma Industry as test subjects? Yep.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 31, 2008 9:01 AM

January 14, 2008

RomneyCare: Coming to Colorado

Part of me worries about the Centennial State; the rest of me has given up. We have a Democrat Governor, both houses under Democratic rule, every tax increase passes easily, a massive light rail project passed in 2004.

Next is RomneyCare. Just because it is an abject failure in Massachusetts, why not have it here? (Justice Brandeis, call your office!)

Boulderite Brian T. Schwartz, Ph.D. calls it "Collective Punishment" in TCSDaily.

When government policies increase insurance costs, the first to drop coverage are the young and healthy. Those remaining in the insurance pool are at higher risk to incur medical expenses, so premiums rise again, which again drives out the healthiest remaining customers. It takes some nerve to support policies that make insurance prohibitively expensive and then make it a crime not to purchase insurance.

Compulsory insurance is based on collective punishment, a perverted form of justice found where troops patrol the streets and spitballs go splat. It punishes both the insured and uninsured for the misdeeds of politicians. Legislators should stop scapegoating the uninsured for the mess they've perpetuated. They should repeal legislation that inhibits the free market from delivering affordable high-quality medical care.


UPDATE: (Make lemonade Dept.) I found a good website: Colorado Freedom Report. Welcome to the blogroll.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Rendell's trying to pass the same thing in PA! Surprised Alex didn't jump on this.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at January 14, 2008 10:04 PM

December 4, 2007

Enforcement

Senator John Edwards is a fount of clarification for state coercion in Health Care. His primary opponents enjoy counting the uninsured that their plans will cover, and the number of children -- all of this polls well.

Coercion, however, is enforced at the point of a gun. Credit Sen. Edwards for bringing that up. He was the first to say that we'd have mandatory checkups, and ThreeSources readers are aware of his plan to use the IRS for enforcement (some tiny law blog from Tennessee may have mentioned it as well...) Now, blog hater Joseph Rago wonders, in the Political Diary, "Will There Be Health Care Prisons?"

Blame John Edwards for the health-care bickering between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In February, Mr. Edwards offered an elaborate "universal" insurance plan that pulled the triangulating Mrs. Clinton to the left; in September, she introduced a virtually identical me-too plan. Then Mr. Edwards moved still further left to put some daylight between himself and his rivals. Last week, he started talking up how he'd actually enforce the so-called "individual mandate." A law would require every American to sign up for health insurance. But what if a lot of people can't afford it or don't want to pay for it?

Most Democrats, with their gauzy promises, don't want to argue about such practicalities, least of all Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Edwards now says he'll turn the IRS into a quasi-police agency for health care. When individuals and families file their taxes, they'll have to provide proof of insurance. If not, they'll be financially penalized or have their wages garnished for "back premiums with interest and collection costs."

And Mrs. Clinton? Instead of responding by outlining her own version of an "or else" mechanism, she skillfully pivoted, deflecting Mr. Edwards's assault directly onto Barack Obama. In a withering speech in Iowa last week, she accused Mr. Obama of "betraying the Democratic Party's principles" by not backing an individual mandate in his own plan. In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle continued the assault, demanding that the Obama camp take down a "completely false" TV commercial claiming its plan would "cover everyone."

Amid the slashing attacks on Mr. Obama, of course, absent are any specifics about how a Clinton administration would enforce its individual mandate.

The problem is not a theoretical one. In Massachusetts, the only state with such a mandate in place, only about 10,000 of the 215,000 uninsured who aren't eligible for subsidies have enrolled so far. But Mrs. Clinton is not just trying to avoid discussing an unpleasant consequence of her plan. She's also manufacturing a "character" issue to use against the attractive Mr. Obama. Meanwhile, John Edwards is the only one giving voters fair warning about what Democratic health-care ambitions would mean in reality.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM

December 3, 2007

Rubber Glove Audit

Protein Wisdom suggests what the form will look like. I keep thinking this is a parody -- but they wouldn't parody Senator Edwards on abcnews, would they?

Under the Edwards plan, when Americans file their income taxes, they would be required to submit a letter from an insurance provider confirming coverage for themselves and their dependents.

If someone did not submit proof of coverage, the Internal Revenue Service would notify a newly established regional or state-based health-care agency (which Edwards has dubbed a Health Care Market).

Those regional agencies would then evaluate whether the uninsured individual was eligible for Medicare (which covers those over 65), Medicaid (which covers the indigent), or S-CHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program which targets the working poor).

If the individual was not eligible for either of those existing public programs, the regional-health care agency would enroll the individual into the lowest cost health-care plan available in that area. The lowest-cost option could be a new Medicare-like public option or a private insurance plan.


Wow.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM

November 5, 2007

Mankiw Tackles the "Sorta True"

Greg Mankiw has an article in the NYTimes Business section today on health care. The Harvard Prof says the problem with statistics is not so much the patently false ones, but the ones that are true but misleading. He then debunks without contradicting:

STATEMENT 1 The United States has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than Canada, which has national health insurance.

STATEMENT 2 Some 47 million Americans do not have health insurance.

-- and, my favorite --

STATEMENT 3 Health costs are eating up an ever increasing share of American incomes.

But increasing expenditures could just as well be a symptom of success. The reason that we spend more than our grandparents did is not waste, fraud and abuse, but advances in medical technology and growth in incomes. Science has consistently found new ways to extend and improve our lives. Wonderful as they are, they do not come cheap.

Fortunately, our incomes are growing, and it makes sense to spend this growing prosperity on better health. The rationality of this phenomenon is stressed in a recent article by the economists Charles I. Jones of the University of California, Berkeley, and Robert E. Hall of Stanford. They ask, “As we grow older and richer, which is more valuable: a third car, yet another television, more clothing — or an extra year of life?”

Mr. Hall and Mr. Jones forecast that the share of income devoted to health care will top 30 percent by 2050. But in their model, this is not a problem: It is the modern form of progress.


Joint hat-tip: Insty and Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM

October 18, 2007

SCHIP: Fighting Back (against poor childern)

A guest editorial (paid link) in the Wall Street Journal today offers a good, pragmatic response to the SCIHP imbroglio. This point has been made but not emphasized: we know the mean ol' Republicans hate poor kids and want to see them starved and denied health care and all that, but Grace-Marie Turner asks "Will this expansion help or hurt the poorer children the program was designed to serve?"

The answer isn't encouraging.

Already, two-thirds of children who do not have health insurance are eligible for federal help through either Schip or Medicaid. Congress's first priority should be to make sure these poorer, uninsured children are taken care of. Yet states have struggled to get these children enrolled, which means that if there is a stampede to add higher-income kids to Schip, the poorer kids will likely continue to get left behind.

This is why the administration wants states to first enroll 95% of the children now eligible (those in families living on wages that are under 200% of poverty) before they open the program to higher-income kids.

The bill Congress passed, and the president vetoed, overturns that requirement -- an implicit acknowledgment that higher-income children will be the focus of the expansion. Consider that the bill would allow New York to cover kids in families who make up to $83,000 a year, something that would pull federal dollars away from less affluent states so that New York could provide taxpayer-funded health insurance to children in middle-income families.


I suggest this as a good time to fly the pragmatism flag. Earlier Turner says "[T]his debate is not over whether to give poor kids health care, or even over whether this program should continue. Everyone agrees that it should." and I thought "she doesn't read ThreeSources."

Yet, I think the hard-liners are going to get their ideological asses kicked, if they are seen to deny health care to poor kids. Arguments about crowding our private insurance are compelling to me but it's a tough sell. The fact that President Bush wants to cover the poor kids before considering expansion up the income ladder is a good -- and salient -- point, when one is badly needed.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

JK champions pragmatism as the best strategy to stop government health care for the masses but misses the facts that a) we're already there to large degree and b) it's pragmatism that's made it possible.

"First enroll 95% of children now eligble instead of the 66% already enrolled." And then, I suppose, there's no objection to raising the eligiblity bar still higher?

And to be eligible now you need not be in poverty. Your family can have the resources of TWO impoverished families all to itself and still get the free ride. Not to mention the express escalator that the "Federal Poverty Level" has been on since the '70s.

Pragmatically, it won't be long before Jenna and Barbara Bush are "poor kids."

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2007 3:13 PM
But jk thinks:

I had a hunch that you might not be on board, jg.

Probably not worth rehashing every argument over the last few years around here, but I am seeing that:
-- The collectivists have the perfect demagoguery vehicle here.
-- It is up for renewal, presenting a perfect time to try and expand it.
-- You have zero, nada, zip chance of not renewing it with a small expansion.

Again, I am prepared to fight at the margins, knowing that it means conceding the ground already lost. Overriding the veto or giving today's Democratic party a filibuster proof majority would not help the cause of freedom. An attempt to scale this back will lead to one or both of those unfavorable outcomes.

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2007 4:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

After the Rockies won both games of a home double header versus the Dodgers on September 18th dagny asked me, "Do you think the Rockies will make the playoffs?" I said, "No. Their chances are slim squared."

That's not quite as bad as "zero, nada, zip chance" but they were still long odds that paid out. I've learned not to say "never."

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2007 2:48 PM

October 10, 2007

Now, That's Pragmatism!

Megan McArdle (talk about a blogger made good -- I once laughed at Atlantic for picking up Andrew Sullivan and Wonkette. Consider this august publication redeemed).

Before the parenthetical detour, I was saying McArdle has some good questions on SCHIP

That said, even if Graeme Frost is basically middle-class-ish, that wouldn't be a stunning indictment of S-Chip. No system is without error; all will let through some people who don't deserve benefits, and miss some people who do. That there has been one error, in either direction, is not necessarily an indictment of the system, but merely an indication that we live in an imperfect world. Moreover, in the case of children, I'm perfectly content to bias the system towards including too many undeserving children, rather than take the chance of missing too many deserving ones. I find S-Chip's practice of covering adults problematic, but frankly, the prospect that Graeme Frost might have gotten some undeserved healthcare ranks, on my list of things to worry about, somewhere between pandemic toe fungus, and finalizing the guest list for my Chicago Cubs World Series Victory Party.

Reading the comments on this, I have to ask conservatives and libertarians: is this really the hill you think we should die on? I do understand your objections to the program, but an informal survey of swing voters, in their current incarnation as my mother, indicates that this is killing you with the moderates. Save it for national health care next year, is what I'm saying. This debate is framing the issue in a way that is going to make things harder, not easier, when Hilarycare is on the table again.


I think she makes some large errors. The discussion is NOT about selling assets to qualify for a place on the Federal teat, it is about asking me to pay for the health care of a person who is clearly better off than I am.

But I must salute her donation to pragmatism. I have held, like Kimberly Strassel, that this is the place to draw the line, because the collectivist medical crowd can gradually move more onto public rolls. What Strassel calls "HillaryCare on the installment plan."

On the other hand Mr. Truman, perhaps the dozens of chicken GOP House members have a point. Maybe you cannot win this one, and if you want your seat to play another day, you can't come out directly against "poor children." This pragmatist is willing to die on this hill, but if McArdle is not on the team, how can we expect less involved and intelligent people to see the issue?

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM

October 9, 2007

The Frost Contretemps

I am really enjoying this story. It's not quite as good as Dan Rather's forged documents, but it s at least as good a blog story as Beauchamp's Bogus TNR pieces.

The Frosts are the folks who put their 12-year old child up to deliver the Democratic response to the President. First word came out that the parents might be well off: their house is twice the size of mine in a more affluent neighborhood, and the lad’s siblings attend a $20,000/yr private school. Yet I have to pay for his health care.

The rebound blogwave was an attack from lefty bloggers at mean righty bloggers who would have no compassion for a young accident victim or a family that was struggling. Michelle Malkin cruised by the house and admitted that $400,000 "seemed high" as an appraisal of the family abode. The left called her a stalker, et cetera, et cetera...

The rebound backlash is the best. Riehl World View digs a little deeper, and finds a typical liberal family. He went to Princeton, has a classic '56 T-bird, has a nice home that he has allowed to run down, and chooses to run a woodworking shop rather than more lucrative, but less pleasing work that his Princeton degree might provide.

Yes, the Frost children are victims, but not of conservatives. They look more like victims of a couple of mostly spoiled brats who became parents and never felt compelled to take responsibility for themselves when it came to the bottom line on that. There are poor people in America who need help, particularly as regards Health care. The point is, the family above shouldn't be and simply aren't among them. Call Dad next time you want some bucks FH. And kindly leave the rest of America's collective wallet the hell alone.

Or, hey, get a second job with benefits. I've done that more than once in my life when I needed the cash. And do it before you let Graeme tell the media how much you struggle to take care of him, because there are enough people in America who really do struggle with these issues. And when they take a look at your lot in life they are left far from impressed and unmoved to cough up one thin dime so you can enjoy afternoons playing with your lathe, or whatever the hell else it is you do in your factory.


This is a better story than being rich. Either way, it makes no sense why I should have to pay for this guy's family's health care.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM | Comments (2)
But Mike thinks:

You may want to clarify. Many of the facts from Riehl your hitting are actually about the Grandfather, not the father. Overall point remains, but people will hit you for the inaccuracy. Looks like Senior was $ucce$$ful, so Junior rejected that material wealth only to find out that material wealth is pretty nice to have when you have a family.

Posted by: Mike at October 10, 2007 7:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Point taken -- I thought that Dad had the T-bird, not Grandpa. I still think they didn't choose the best spokeskid. If they looked really hard, some Democrat might know a 12-year old who's folks did not have every advantage (maybe the pool boy, or one of the servants...)

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2007 7:52 PM

October 8, 2007

None Dare Call it Demagoguery III

This is unbelievable! Mark Steyn tells of a Freeper who does the Googling that American Journalists won't do. Remember that 12 year old who delivered the Democratic response to the President the weekend before last? The poor young lad was in an accident and needs the Federal Government to pay his health insurance.

If it ever occurred to Matthew Hay Brown, the Sun's "reporter", to look into just what kind of "woodworking" Mr Frost did, he managed to suppress the urge.

"icwhatudo" at Free Republic, however, showed rather more curiosity than the professional reporter paid to investigate the story and did a bit of Googling. Mr Frost, the "woodworker", owns his own design company and the commercial property it operates from, part of which space he also rents out; they have a 3,000-sq-ft home on a street where a 2,000-sq-ft home recently sold for half a million dollars; he was able to afford to send two children simultaneously to a $20,000-a-year private school; his father and grandfather were successful New York designers and architects; etc. This is apparently the new definition of "working families":


A bit more Googling found a health plan in that tony zip code for $482/month.

Standard disclaimer II: I'm sorry the lad was in an accident. I cannot say that the parents do not have financial problems, and I don't know if they were eligible for the $482 policy. But I do not see why I have to buy their insurance.

Hat-tip: Insty, who also links to a story on this by Don Surber.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM

October 7, 2007

None Dare Call it Demagoguery II


bushveto.jpgFred Barnes ridiculed the Democrats for having a 12-year old deliver the rebuttal to the President's radio address last week. As Barnes said, they go mad when a Republican tries to use the flag or a soldier to promote policy, but they think nothing of using children as props.

Shame on this child's parents (living in Boulder County, I know hundreds who would stoop this low). Are there no honest interlocutors left in the Democratic Party?

Photo credit: AP

Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM

October 4, 2007

None Dare Call It Demagoguery

Just kidding, everybody knows it's demagoguery, but when "the children" are at stake, the Democrats cannot stop. They're like moths demagoging to a flame. Joseph Rago writes in OpinionJournal's Political Diary:

The crocodile outrage flowed fast and deep yesterday after President Bush's promised veto of the Schip bill that would have vastly expanded a federal subsidy for children's health care.

Ted Kennedy called it "the most inexplicable veto in the history of the country." Barack Obama decried a "callousness of priorities." Nancy Pelosi flirted with the edges of self-parody, saying: "President Bush used his cruel veto pen to say 'I forbid 10 million children from getting the health benefits they deserve.'"

Of course, the veto will not actually deprive any current enrollees (10% of whom are adults) of medical care. President Bush made sure of that when he signed a continuing resolution funding the program until an accommodation is reached. Count on this fact remaining little noticed amid the current political circus.

Democrats believe they have a strong shot at overriding the veto, but will wait a week or two to continue milking the controversy and to solidify a campaign issue for 2008. Of the eight House Democrats who opposed the expansion and three others who didn't vote, the leadership has already rolled five of them. That means at least 14 Republicans need to turn over as well, out of 151 in the opposition.

To that end, lobbying groups including Families USA, MoveOn.org, AARP, SEIU and AFSCME, as well as the Democratic Party, are mounting an advertising campaign targeting vulnerable Republicans, mainly in swing districts. No doubt we'll see more of the same end-of-days hysteria.

Harry Reid in particular has been trying to shame Republicans by name, singling out Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, the only member of his delegation to vote nay. In response, Mr. Bartlett thanked Mr. Reid "for recognizing that I cast the only correct vote about Schip in the state of Maryland.... Democrats are demanding that Schip be expanded to have government-controlled, taxpayer-paid health care for millions of children who already have private health coverage."

In a soundbite, Mr. Bartlett has exactly described what the battle is all about.


Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM

September 28, 2007

With Republicans Like These...

The WSJ Ed Page dishes out a heapin' helpin' of disapprobation for feckless GOP legislators who are very quick to buckle on the Schip bill. The lead editorial (paid link, sorry!) points out that the Democrats' plan would have some families qualify for both Schip (the Democrats' plan for the poor) and the AMT (the Democrats' extra tax for the rich).

That's because the real Democratic game here is to turn Schip into a new middle-class entitlement. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton -- who goes out of her way to emphasize Schip as a key mechanism in her new "universal" health-care reform -- introduced Congressional legislation that would raise Schip eligibility to 400%, currently $82,600 for a family of four. That move would qualify no less than 71% of American children for public assistance.

This would also lead to the bizarre circumstance in which a family would be entitled to Schip benefits while also paying the Alternative Minimum Tax that is supposed to capture "the rich." According to a Heritage Foundation analysis, if Schip is extended nationally to 400%, about 70,000 families would be rich enough to pay the AMT while also on Schip. So what Democrats take away with higher taxes under the AMT, they would vouchsafe to return in government health care for all. The era of big government is back, and bigger than ever.


The Senate has already folded, thanks to "brave Sir Rodnies" Hatch (R Utah) and Grassley (R-Ethanol). The house holds a veto-proof opposition, so we will be spared passage if not demagoguery.

Where can we find a few more good, mean old Republicans who don't want to give health care to kids?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

F*** Hatch. Bluntly, he's one of the biggest GOP d***heads today, masquerading as a "conservative" when all he is, besides a pharmaceutical tool, is R-Big Government.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 28, 2007 1:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot argue with you on Sen. Hatch, but it is funny that I was cursing Grassley as I was posting this, thinking something roughly along the lines of "F*** Grassley. Bluntly, he's one of the biggest GOP d***heads today, masquerading as a "conservative" when all he is, besides an agribusiness tool, is R-Big Government."

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2007 4:12 PM

September 24, 2007

One Angry (at Hillary) Mother

My beloved dagny wrote this months ago and after viewing Hillary's historic appearance on Fox News Channel last Sunday was compelled to update it and demand placement in today's issue of Threesources.com (no, I did not give her the "standby rate.")

We watched Hillary on Fox News Sunday this morning and listened to her explain why “we” need to ensure that every American has health insurance. I found myself angry yet again that many Americans don’t seem to get the idea that if the government is providing something, ANYTHING, the taxpayers (like me) are footing the bill.

My first child was born when I was 36. I made good decisions relating to child-bearing. I waited until I had a husband worthy of fathering my children. I waited until we could afford to care for our children without relying on others. I waited until I could provide appropriate medical insurance for myself and my children without relying on others. I dealt with the issues related to, “advanced maternal age,” because I waited for these things.

Now let’s consider someone who has made different decisions. If the unwed, poor, uninsured, teenage mother comes into my house and steals $100, or even $5, she will be arrested and put in jail. If however, the government takes my $100 and gives it to her this is a good thing?

The unwed mother is rewarded by the government for her bad decision making while I am punished for my good decision making. Is this the incentive system we wish to encourage in this country? These things became particularly clear to me and my feelings in the matter became much stronger when we started a family. Dammit, it’s my money and I earned it, and I wish to spend it on MY children.

Why isn’t every mother in the country angry?

I realize, I’m probably preaching to the choir at threesources – maybe I should send this to Hillary.

Thanks to the Democrats it is no longer true that "It is best to prepare for the days of necessity." Now it is best to go on strike for free, lifetime healthcare.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:15 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I hate picking fights with Dagny. It's unseemly and I always lose. I think the ThreeSources choir (rehearsal this Thursday, don't be late) will appreciate your positions. They should -- they're right.

However...

Pragmatist-in-chief has to point out that your argument is a political loser. Do you really object to paying for health care for poor kids? Like President Reagan, I'm cool with using the Federal largess to provide a safety net. We can argue about moral hazard (and we might) but that train left the station in FDR's administration and it is not scheduled to pass through here.

President Bush is making a courageous stand against withering demagoguery to veto the Schip bill, and I do not know how many less courageous GOP legislators will hold.

Governor Corzine likes to hand out free health care to those above the median income; Senator Clinton wants Medicare to be a choice for every American, irrespective of age or income.

Against this fight, I find your hard line position to be politically ineffective. There is a real fight at the margins and those who want to re-argue the New Deal are not going to be effective on the new front lines.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2007 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

In the war against America's slide from the USA to the 'USSA' we must have strategic and tactical elements. While JK is correct that daily combat is necessary to hold budget growth and program expansion to 3.5% per year instead of the 4.0% (or more) that Democrats would have if unopposed, such a strategy is never going to result in an actual REDUCTION of the welfare state - not to mention its demise.

The value of dagny's rant is in the question "Why?"

"Why isn't EVERY mother in the country angry?"

Why is railing against government theft from individuals on behalf of other individuals "a political loser?"

Dagny knows, she just chose not to say: Altruism. Robin Hood. Failure to understand (or to acknowledge) basic accounting. Unprecedented national wealth that makes penny pinching obsolete and leaves the door wide open for governor Corzine and Senator Clinton to leverage the teachings of Pope Benedict and every single one of his forebears and their minions to siphon off "just a little" and "just a little more" for a "safety net."

Personally I'd like to see the "safety net" dismantled because it became unpopular and not because it became so onerous that it destroyed the wealth that made it possible. That's where the strategic weapon is required.

TEACH people that they are not their brother's keeper.

ADVISE them to sacrifice themselves for no man, nor accept any man's sacrifice for himself.

EMPOWER everyone with the knowledge that every grain of produce that he creates is rightly and morally his own, to do with as HE chooses, without a shred of guilt.

DISAMBIGUATE the ideas of voluntary charity and coerced "aid for the disaffected."

Then, and only then, may we banish the second "S" the philosophy of Socialism, that now effectively exists in the name and the soul of this, the greatest nation in the history of human kind. Make no mistake - America is great despite socialism, not because of it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2007 3:19 PM

The reviews come pouring in

Blog friend Perry chose not to suffer through any of the FIVE Sunday talk show appearances by Senator Clinton, but he effectively finds flaws in the health care plan that she touts.

I didn't see the interview, so I don't know if she repeated her claim that there would be no new bureaucracy necessary for her plan. [jk: I did. She did.] Who really believes that a plan costing $110 billion a year (meaning we can count on easily double that estimate) will require no new bureaucracy? Oh no, she says, no new bureaucracy, even though government will need a way to force you into the plan unless you want to work an underground job. Or is she technically speaking the truth, in the same way that Bill didn't create new taxes (or did he?). He merely increased them. So Hillary won't create a new bureaucracy -- she'll just expand the existing Department of Health and Human Services.

I did watch her Inevitableness on FOX News Sunday. As I emailed Perry, I don’t believe she’s picked up any policy or decency since she tried to nationalize 17% of GDP in 1993, but she has learned some politics – she says the right words to a compliant media and diffident public. This will be hard to stop.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM

September 18, 2007

Zero Tolerance, Zero Consequences

Ha!

Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that a mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance was the only way to achieve universal health care but she rejected the notion of punitive measures to force individuals into the health care system.

"At this point, we don't have anything punitive that we have proposed," the presidential candidate said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We're providing incentives and tax credits which we think will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans."


I wonder if that proof of insurance will be asked for before or after the proof of citizenship?

Posted by AlexC at 7:45 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Incentives, tax credits and avoidance of prison will be very attractive to the vast majority of Americans. Sounds like a winner.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2007 8:40 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Ah, but under her plan, you'll have to provide proof of insurance just to get a job (at least one the government knows about, otherwise you'll have to work underground like the illegals). And if you don't, boom, you'll be automatically enrolled.

Read her lips: no new bureaucracy!

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 1:16 PM

Hubris

I fear my free market brethren are getting a little cocky. We know we're gong to get massacred in the next election and that a raft of protectionist-socialists will be installed in Congress, we can see the darkness. Yet, there seems to be a confidence that the US will abjure government takeover of health care. I hope the confidence is well founded but would suggest a strong defense.

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute dresses down Senator Clinton's "HillaryCare 2.0" (Hat-tip: Everyday Economist)

Here we go again. HillaryCare is back, and it’s apparent that Sen. Clinton has learned little since the American people overwhelmingly rejected her last attempt to overhaul the U.S. health care system. Once again her plan, which would cost $110 billion per year in new taxes, calls for greater government control over American health care. If her plan were to pass this time, it would mean higher taxes, lost jobs, less patient choice, and poorer quality health care.

Tanner makes several substantive points -- I am not criticizing his critique. Nor Karl Rove's. Rove has a guest ed in the WSJ today (free link) that enumerates the reasons to avoid Senator Clinton’s plan.
In short, the best health reform proposals will be those that recognize and build on the virtues of our market-based medical system. Sick people around the world come here because they can't get quality care in their home countries. Many health-care professionals come here to practice, leaving behind well-meaning health-care systems where government is in charge, bureaucrats make the decisions, and where the patient doesn't have the choice he or she does in the U.S.

HillaryCare may not have changed much, but I fear that the electorate has. Fifteen years of NYTimes editorials, and the drumbeat of "40 million uninsured," "45 million uninsured," "47 million uninsured..." have inculcated a crisis mentality.

Those who want to keep private mechanisms will be labeled deniers and will be forced to defend the status quo. Rove and Tanner lay out good points, but I think that political moderates are about ready to have the government take it over. And it is likely that they'll have politicians in 2009 who will be glad to deliver.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

So tell me then, what does a political pragmatist do when "the art of the possible" leaves him with something completely unacceptable?

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2007 7:43 PM
But jk thinks:

If that is directed this pragmatist's way, you misread me. I am not counseling compromise. I am trying to rally the troops.

I hear an undertone in Rove, Tanner, and even Mayor Giuliani, that once you explain to the people that this is HillaryCare, they will again reject it.

I suggest that it is going to be a tough fight and that -- as usual -- all the emotional appeals and demagoguery will play into the hands of opponents. It will be tough to beat.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2007 8:36 PM

September 13, 2007

Must See TV

And it's not even Larry Kudlow.

John Stossel will interview Michael Moore and provide a (gasp!) free market view of health care on a 20/20 special this Friday night.

Government rationing health care in Canada is why when Karen Jepp went into labor with her quadruplets last month, she flew to Montana to have the babies. No nearby neonatal unit in Canada had room for her.

And everyone is complaining about the millions of Americans who are uninsured. But is health insurance such a good thing? What if you had grocery insurance? You wouldn't care what things cost. Why buy hamburger? I'll just buy steak. Why use coupons? Why look for sales? I'll just buy … everything. My insurance company's paying. That increases costs, because when bills are paid with "other people's money," costs skyrocket.

Don't worry, I have some good news about some different approaches — ones that reduce costs and still make medicine good for patients.


Stossel has a guest editorial (free link) in the WSJ today to whet your appetite.

Friday night -- it should be good.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM

August 27, 2007

WSJ Steals from Me

I'm not complaining. Without the good folks at Dow Jones, I would have posted less than a third over the years.

Today, the lead Editorial steals my headline, "RomneyCare 2.0," and my thesis (paid link).

So this is a step forward for Mr. Romney on health policy, largely because it doesn't take Massachusetts as its model. Though he still regards that state's 2006 "universal" health insurance program as one of his signal achievements as Governor, his new proposal drops the most coercive elements, such as the individual mandate and the "pay or play" sanctions on businesses. Perhaps this intellectual progress is due to the influence of new Romney advisers Glenn Hubbard and John Cogan, both respected health-care economists.
[...]
One key difference with Rudy Giuliani, who has also proposed similar changes to the tax code, is that the former New York Mayor would allow for interstate insurance and Mr. Romney would not. Mr. Romney says that the logistical difficulties would become a "camel's nose" for national insurance regulations. Maybe so, but that is always a risk with federalism. A far worse camel's nose is the "universal" plan Mr. Romney championed in Massachusetts. As Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards put it, "If universal health care was good enough for Massachusetts, why isn't it good enough for the rest of the country?"

It's not an unfair question. Mr. Romney's Bay State legacy is now praised by liberals as a prototype for national policy. That's done a great deal to set back the kind of tax reform that he now espouses. The issue for GOP primary voters to consider is why he went in such a different direction in Boston. Granted, a mere Governor couldn't restructure the federal tax code, and he was dealing with a far-left legislature. Yet his willingness to compromise in Massachusetts on core matters of principle, and then trumpet those statist policies as a "free-market" solution, raises questions about how far and easily he'd bend to a Democratic Congress.

Mr. Romney's conversion to free-market health-care thinking is nonetheless welcome -- assuming he believes it.


I hope they don't pick up my typographical errors...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (5)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm gonna be Billy Beck-style blunt here.

Romney, who the f*** are you to tell me that buying insurance from a company out-of-state has "logistical" problems? Where the f**** have you been for the last 12 years? Since the Internet really took off, it's proven that interstate commerce is as easy, if not easier, than driving down the street. I can use Esurance with far greater ease and speed than flipping through the Yellow Pages to find a new insurance agent (and wind up talking to some dumb rookie schmuck mangle my name).

Oh, that's right, Romney, the problem isn't for us, but for *you* and the rest of the government, because you just can't keep your grubby hands off our peaceful commerce. Congress has power to regulate interstate commerce, but that doesn't mean it *must* in every circumstance.

And why the f*** should we believe you, Romney, when you say you wouldn't coerce all Americans to buy health insurance, the same way you did to the people of Massachussetts?

And by the way, Romney, you can go f*** yourself, you goddamn maggot.

Also by the way, speaking of "logistical" problems in buying things across great distances: I'm waiting on two sizeable packages directly from Hong Kong. If I have any problems, I do returns via their Florida address. I could have easily spent three times what I did, yet I'm getting the same things. And to those who think I was "inefficient" or risked "logistical problems," they can shove it up their asses.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2007 2:03 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I should clarify: if there *are* any "logistical" problems on my end with buying things from Hong Kong or buying insurance from someone in Pocatello, then I'm perfectly capable of dealing with such problems. By making the purchase, aren't I accepting any risks, by definition?

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2007 2:06 PM
But jk thinks:

At the risk of being a little less colorful. I really do find it comports to the difference I see in the two candidates. Giuliani gets the free market thing. I know that's not a powerful campaign slogan but it works for me.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2007 3:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank NED for Perry. Our comments would be damned dry without him.

Now Perry, while you certainly have the right to *choose* to take risk in your life, all the other little comrade-Americans have the right to *choose* not to. After all, as I heard on NPR on this, the 2nd anniversary of the soon-to-be next federal holiday 'Katrina Day,' "Imagine how it must feel to be completely abandoned by *your own* government."

"It's *my* government, dammit! Take care of *me!*"

Posted by: johngalt at August 28, 2007 3:30 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Oh, I meant to say, I'm getting the same things as what could have been (in some cases, what used to be) domestically produced. Those amazing Chinese and their cheap electronics...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at August 28, 2007 5:25 PM

August 24, 2007

RomneyCare 2.0

Governor Romney (Mitt! 'round