Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Why Doesn’t Walmart Sell Health Insurance?

April 1, 2010

Now that the HCR bill has been passed and signed into law, I want to bring something up that I have been thinking about for a long time and something my dad raised with me this weekend:  Given its buying power, why doesn’t Walmart sell health insurance?  Currently, Walmart to sells many drugs for $4/30 day supply.  If any seller could drive down the cost of a product, it is Walmart.



Calling “This Childish Behavior Would Be An Insult To Children Everywhere”

March 24, 2010

That was Kevin Drum of Mother Jones describing the Republican antics today in the Senate.  Here is what happened:  During multiple Senate committee meetings being conducted today, Democratic Chairmen had to suspend the meeting, sometimes mid-sentence during a witnesses testimony.  Why might you ask?  Well it seems there is an obscure Senate Rule, (5(a)), which states:


Glad to See The New Republic Agrees with My Take

February 26, 2010

Today, in two blog posts, TNR writer Jonathan Cohn writes essentially the same I did yesterday:


The Truth on Reconciliation

February 26, 2010

In my previous post, I described how almost all of our health care legislation in the past 30 years has been through reconciliation.  I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that health care reform this year is being passed through that process.  Health Care Reform has passed the senate on Christmas Eve 2009 with 60 votes .  It got passed a filibuster and received a super majority.  What will be passed through the house and senate with simple majorities, will be fixes to the bill, such as removing a provision which says that only Nebraska will get extra funding to expand Medicaid or only Florida will be exempt from the repeal of Medicare Advantage.  What is not being passed through reconciliation with a simple majority is the entire health care bill.  It is only these small fixes that Republicans will not let through for an up or down vote.  So when you hear Republicans complain that Democrats are “jamming health care through with a bare majority” pay no attention to them.  They are flat out lying.  The Republicans required a 60 vote majority to pass HCR and the Democrats got the required votes.  Only these minor fixes are being passed through on a majority vote.

Verdict from the Health Care Summitt: No Chance of Compromise or Agreement

February 26, 2010

Having watched or listened to about half of today’s health care summit, one thing is painfully obvious:  there is no chance of compromise.  And there is a simple reason:  the two sides do not want the same thing.  It is one thing to compromise and give and take if the goal of two negotiating parties is the same.  But here, what Democrats want and what Republicans want is drastically different.  What you heard from Republicans is they want incremental change so that may be an additional 3 million people will get coverage.  The Democrats, on the other hand, have had enough with incremental change, and aim to cover more than 30 million people.  Since both parties do not want universal coverage or incremental change to bring down some people’s premium and give a few more people coverage, there is nothing really to compromise.  Given that the Republicans do not aim to cover most, if not all, of the uninsured, there is nothing that Democrats can given them.


In Case You Missed It Yesterday, Watch President Obama School House Republicans in a 68 Minute, Televised Q&A

January 31, 2010

While this type of Q&A happens frequently in England, it never occurs here (C-SPAN used to run it every Sunday night from the House of Commons).  President Obama took 68 minutes worth of questions from House Republicans and it was televised.  It got so bad for Republicans that they later told reporters that it was a big mistake to “let the cameras in”.  Furthermore, instead of televising the end of this bloodbath, FoxNews cut away with 22 minutes left.

These 68 minutes show how out of touch with facts and reality Republicans really are. The last question, from a so-called rising start, Jeb Henserling, who sits on the Budget Committee accused, Obama of running $1.3 trillion deficits A MONTH. A MONTH!! I do not know if he knows how to add, but that would be a yearly deficit of $15.6 trillion, which is more than our national debt. As Senator Moynihan (I think) used to say: you are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts. This forum was great for the President because he got to confront his opponents at the same time they made they ridiculous charges. If they are dumb enough to agree to it, Obama should do this more often.

When did our democracy go so far off the rails?

January 27, 2010

Why I am still hopeful that House Democrats will do what I suggested last week and simply pass the Senate’s bill and fix it through reconciliation, Senate Democrats (at least some of them) are making it difficult to believe that reconciliation will be a viable option.  For those who do not know, reconciliation is a procedure by which the Senate can pass certain measure (that have an impact on the budget and revenues) by a simple majority, without the possibility of a filibuster.  You know, the way a democracy is supposed to work.


Earth to House Democrats: Just Pass the Senate Health Care Bill

January 20, 2010

After last night’s debacle in Massachusetts, the House Democrats have only one thing to do: pass the health care bill the Senate passed last year. This will mean that the Senate does not have to vote again and Brown’s vote on the issue won’t matter. Is the Senate bill a great bill? No. But it is better than nothing. And more importantly, most of the bad parts of it can be amended later this year or next through reconciliation, which only requires 50 votes.


Negotiating Lower Drug Prices

December 11, 2009

The Senate is currently debating an amendment that would allow for the importation of prescription drugs from Canada to the U.S.  The reason that this amendment is being pushed is that drugs prices are much lower in Canada than they are here.  There is a simple reason for that—the Canadian government negotiates directly with the drug companies to purchase drugs for the whole country (Canada has a single-payer health system where the Government provides health care for all citizens).  This is in contrast with individual insurance companies, pharmaceutical buying cooperatives and individuals here negotiating with the drug companies.  The Canadian government has much more leverage and buying power than do these individual groups, which leads to lower prices for Canadians.

But instead of simply allowing our Government to negotiate directly with the drug companies, our esteemed Senate thinks it is a better idea to just allow our citizens to reimport the drugs from Canada and other places.  Even leaving aside the health risks of reimporting drugs, there is simply no sound economic reason why we need this convoluted system to get cheaper drugs.  Furthermore, there is no reason why American citizens need to pay higher prices for drugs than the rest of the world.  Most other industrialized countries allow their governments to negotiate directly with drug companies.  Like the Canadians, this allows them to get lower prices than the US, which bans the practice.  Why should Americans have to subsidize lower prices around the world.  JUST ALLOW OUR GOVERNMENT TO NEGOTIATE BETTER PRICES.

Why Not Open Up Medicare to Everyone?

December 8, 2009

In the latest effort to get a “public option” in the health care reform bill, 10 senators are negotiating to open Medicare up to some people who are 55-64, but require them to “buy-in” to the system.  In this proposal, certain people from the ages of 55-64 would be able to purchase insurance through the Medicare system that currently insures our seniors.  (It is unclear if this program would be available to all people ages 55 to 64 or only those who cannot get insurance now).  This will give all of the benefits of Medicare to a larger pool of people without the government having to set-up a whole new “public” insurance program.  This will alleviate the federal government from having to set-up a new public insurance program because the infrastructure already exists.  And from all of the polling data, Medicare seems to be extremely popular with its beneficiaries.


Health Care: Co-Payments and the Internet

December 8, 2009

As the debate about health care reform has unfolded, at least one thing has emerged that almost everyone has agreed upon:  we are spending too much on health care.  Currently, we spend about 1 out every 6 dollars on health care or 16% of GDP.  On a per capita basis, we spend almost double what the next highest country spends.  And yet, on almost every important indicator from infant mortality to life expectancy to doctors per capita, we lag significantly behind most other OECD countries.  Therefore, it is certainly possible to get better outcomes while spending less money.


Alternate Universe

December 3, 2009

Over the past year, I have been following the health care debate closely. But only recently have I realized how ridiculous parts of the debate are. Well, that is not exactly true. It has just gotten more ridiculous since August.


One of the Reasons Supply-Side Economics Does Not Make Sense To Me

November 3, 2009

In his column in the Sunday NYTimes, former GW Bush economic advisor and current Harvard Economics Professor, N. Greg Mankiw argues against the Health Care bill because of the way that the insurance subsidies are structured.  He contends that it would discourage workers from working to their full potential.



May 14, 2009

Since President Obama proposed his stimulus, conservatives have been shrieking at the top of their lungs that President Obama is seeking to ration health care. There primary piece of evidence is inclusion of funding ($700mm) for what is known as Comparative Effectiveness Research (“CER”). What CER seeks to do is study the costs and benefits of certain medical treatments, procedures or drugs. For example, it would study whether physical therapy is more effective than shoulder surgery for healing an ailing shoulder. What people like Betsy McCaughey, author of the Bloomberg Op-Ed cited above, argue is that this is will lead to the Government deciding which treatments your doctor will be able to prescribe, and not you and your doctor. For example, if the Government believes that therapy is more cost effective for a certain amount of benefits as compared to surgery, you will not be able to choose surgery. In the end, according to Ms. McCaughey, the Government will simply ration health care as it sees fit. As will come as no surprise, I find many problems with the position advocated by these conservatives.


Question for the Readers of This Blog: Obligation to Deal with Unions

May 1, 2009

I am no expert on labor law.  As we watch Chrysler go into bankruptcy, many on the Right blame the unions for the American car companies’ problems.  They say that the American car companies are at competitive disadvantage to their foreign competitor (even those with plants in the U.S., mainly in the South) because the U.S. companies have unionized workers (and very high health care costs as a result) and the foreign ones don’t (needless to say this leaves out the fact that the Southern states have given generous tax breaks to the foreign car companies).

But is there any legal requirement that the U.S. companies negotiate with the unions?  Why isn’t all of the blame on the management of these firms?  The unions and their leaders have a responsibility to their members, not to the car companies.  There obligation is to get the best deal for their members.   Management and the Big 3’s Directors have the responsibility to get the best deal for their company, not the unions.  Unless there is a legal requirement to bargain AND come to an agreement with the unions, no one forced the Big 3 to sign the deals that gave the unions their CBAs and the health care coverage and other benefits.  I understand that they may have signed these deals for business or political reasons, but that is thierere decision and problem.

Any insight in the comments would be greatly appreciated.