Weekly Walk of Shame: Partisan Posturing on Health-Care Reform

This Motley Fool series examines things that just aren't right in the world of finance and investing. Here's what's got us riled up this week. If something's bugging you, too -- and we suspect it is -- go ahead and unload in the comments section below.

Today's subject: Remember the "Gang of Six?" Three Democratic and three Republican senators who were supposed to lead us to the promised land of health-care reform? You're excused if you've forgotten -- a lot has happened since last summer, the last time you heard anything constructive about a bipartisan compromise to health-care reform.

Instead the Gang never reached a consensus. Democrats pressed on by themselves. Only one Republican voted for the bill in the House and none in the Senate. Then Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy's death, and suddenly Republicans were in the driver's seat with a caucus large enough to launch a filibuster in the Senate. President Obama called for a bipartisan public meeting to find a compromise -- to which I cheer -- and then proceeded to propose a plan without any input from Republicans. The newest proposal is pitched as a jumping off point, but it seems more like a threat: Agree to this or we'll ram it through Congress using the filibuster-proof reconciliation procedure.

I'm calling out the shameful partisan posturing on both sides of the aisle.

Why you should be indignant
We all have different ideas -- in fact, here's one -- on the best ways to solve the health-care problem, but hopefully we can all agree that health-care reform is needed.

There are tens of millions of uninsured Americans and that number could hit 65 million in another decade if nothing is done. Even if you ignore any moral ramifications -- as Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI  ) CEO John Mackey would like us to do -- there's still a financial cost for everyone who carries insurance. Because hospitals can't deny care due to lack of insurance, the insured ultimately pick up the tab through higher charges that make up for the writeoffs from caring for the uninsured.

Covering the uninsured isn't the only cost that's affecting us, either. The entire health-care system is spiraling out of control. It's estimated that health care made up 18% of our GDP last year. Without reform that could potentially rise to 28% in 2030, and to 34% in 2040.

It's not just your pocketbook that will be hurt by spiraling prices -- the companies you invest in will be hampered by increasingly higher health-care costs. Large companies with a large number of employees like General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) , Ford (NYSE: F  ) , and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) will be left with the distasteful choice of either footing the bill themselves or passing the cost on to their employees. Either choice is likely to stifle the growth of the economy.

And let's not forget about startups. Will a company be able to grow into the next Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , or Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) if it's unable to attract talent because it can't afford health insurance for them?

What now?
Democrats and Republicans are scheduled to meet today, but does anyone have confidence that anything useful will come from it? They'll be on TV, so maybe there will be more pandering to constituents than they've done in the past, but I doubt much, if anything, will be achieved. It might be more productive to watch General Hospital instead.

Maybe the Gang of Six needs to get back together. Or maybe we should extend it to a Gang of 100. While we're at it, we might as well throw the 435 representatives and the President in there as well. The Gang of Six reportedly spent hours on end in a conference room to try and reach a compromise. Let's put all 536 bickering children into timeout chairs and lock them in a room until they can work it out on their own.

There are a lot of good ideas out there. In order to get this issue resolved, politicians, investors, and everyone else are going to have to learn to live with changes they might not agree with. Or else nothing will get done… and, as we've seen above, that just isn't an option.

Are politicians acting like childish babies or do you like seeing them stick up for their ideas at any cost? Let us know in the comments box below.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Amazon.com, Ford, and Whole Foods are Stock Advisor picks. Microsoft is an Inside Value selection and the Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on the stock. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (50) | Recommend This Article (20)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 9:26 AM, demonslayar wrote:

    Want a solution? Go back tot he future. When America's hospitals where run as "not for profit" orgs. We didn't have any health care problems. The problem began when we gave them to wall street. Those of us who are old enough to remember the 60s know that hospitals where owned by cities, counties, states and charitable orgs. Republicans said by privatizing the hospitals they would run more efficiently. ha

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 9:26 AM, demonslayar wrote:

    Want a solution? Go back tot he future. When America's hospitals where run as "not for profit" orgs. We didn't have any health care problems. The problem began when we gave them to wall street. Those of us who are old enough to remember the 60s know that hospitals where owned by cities, counties, states and charitable orgs. Republicans said by privatizing the hospitals they would run more efficiently. ha

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 11:15 AM, pgyorgy wrote:

    I do agree that for profit health care systems have had a strong negative impact on health care costs, as witnessed by the wellpoint CEO's comments on Capitol Hill yesterday ($10 million annual compensation? Come on!). I worked there when it was just plain old Blue Cross of California, and the CEO and COO were likely more competent and far less well compensated!

    The second issue which is the BIG elephant in the living room is pharmaceuticals - the industry has a stranglehold on Congress and apparently our president, so much so that controlling rx costs is off the table.

    And - as someone who has been in the health care industry for 27 years - I believe that if we increase taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and ban handguns, we will begin to address the health related illnesses and uncompensated emergency room care that cause so much of our medical cost inflation. Of course it will never happen - but the hard decisions are what would bring about cost management. I watch the debate with a jaded eye, to be sure.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 12:36 PM, tonyd14 wrote:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you pgyorgy with the exception of the last sentence. What will increasing taxes on tobacco and alcohol do? the addicts will still get their fix somehow. It amazes me how the non- smokers and drinkers (of which I am one) are always quick to raise taxes on something that doesn't affect them, as for banning handguns no, no a million times no.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 12:47 PM, langco1 wrote:

    the US is in its second year of a depression with over 20% of the workforce already unemployed and obama is wasting time with his ridiculous healthcare plan no one wants or needs.either obama starts trying to be a president or he needs to be replaced.the US is out of time....

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 1:06 PM, wannaberich102 wrote:

    "President Obama called for a bipartisan public meeting to find a compromise -- to which I cheer -- and then proceeded to propose a plan without any input from Republicans. The newest proposal is pitched as a jumping off point, but it seems more like a threat: Agree to this or we'll ram it through Congress using the filibuster-proof reconciliation procedure."

    IMHO President Obama is being way too concerned about what the republicans want. Elections have consequences. The party in power needs to lead. In poll after poll it's clear that the vast majority of Americans want real healthcare reform with a strong public option. It's the only way to put meaningful competition into the system and keep for-profit companies from arbitrarily raising their premiums whenever they want, which we're already seeing.

    When Bush was president and republicans controlled congress, they repeatedly used reconciliation to pass policy that they wanted.

    It's really a stretch to think that republicans want any real reform when all we've heard from them latley is "NO" and they did nothing with the 8-10 years they were in power to address this issue.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 2:45 PM, kapplerr wrote:

    The best way to lower health care costs is to prevent problems in the first place. If we weren't the most obese developed country in the world we wouldn't have the worst health care system in the developed world.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 2:52 PM, militauro wrote:

    This article nailed it right on the money. There are several ideas out there, but I feel like the Republican party refuses anything that isn't theirs. Compromises from both sides are needed, but I don't think the "bickering children" can get anything done.

    Democrats shouldn't have to shove this down their throats, it should be a discussion and passed by both parties. However, some concessions Democrats have already made didn't even earn them one republican vote. Today's discussion already sounds like a lot of bickering and jabs at one another. We're screwed, seriously.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 2:58 PM, ocddave wrote:

    "In poll after poll it's clear that the vast majority of Americans want real healthcare reform with a strong public option."

    ???????

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 3:58 PM, UrbanJackBag wrote:

    wannaberich, dems had the opportunity to do what they wanted. Sorry Senate and House couldn't get their @--t together fast enough.

    Obama is worried about what Republicans want because HE IS NOT A LEADER. My gosh, what if he is WRONG?!?!? He needs validation and a way to cover his arse.....

    truthisntstupid, you are right - why vote Democratic? They keep letting you down.....

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 3:58 PM, UrbanJackBag wrote:

    ocddave,

    Exactly :-) good point.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 3:58 PM, noryakerson wrote:

    I remember being sick as a kid. The family doctor made house calls, distributed medicine needed on site. My parents paid in cash or wrote him a check for services rendered. And I got healthier. I honestly don't think politicians are going to fix health care--or much of anything else. I think it's up to the people now. I think the only way out is a new wave of commitment to personal health, to caring for others, to turning off the tv's and tuning out the political bull crap, and remembering we have it in our power to take care of each other.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 4:13 PM, ETFsRule wrote:

    "The newest proposal is pitched as a jumping off point, but it seems more like a threat: Agree to this or we'll ram it through Congress using the filibuster-proof reconciliation procedure."

    What's wrong with that?

    I don't think the Dems are as wimpy as we have been led to believe. Sure, they have wasted a lot of time trying to gain bipartisan support. But I think they have known all along that they would push healthcare through, whether the Republicans like it or not. That's why Obama wanted to get started on healthcare so early in his presidency... He knew there might be resistance and obstructionism from the other side. But in the end, I think he will get his way.

    So, have the Dems really been rolling over and dying... or just playing possum?

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 4:18 PM, dbassett12 wrote:

    I agree with ocddave. I own a business and the public option will only drive me down to the lowest common demonimator to stay competitive. We already have the best health care in the world. Let's fix the broken parts and not "throw the baby out with the bathwater,"

    And what about prescription drug reform?

    I'm losing faith in both parties to do the right thing.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 4:48 PM, money4eds wrote:

    There is no Health Care Reform in the bill. They talk about robbing an under funded government program to help pay. Why is the cost of medical plus the new program not the real number. They don't want us to connect those dots. The cost savings are really under paying the current medical providers for services. No reform just slight of hand. Tax insurance companies or limit their profit or both. Would you stay in business if it became unprofitable. Does everyone want to subsidize another state because it cost more for insurance in that state. The goverment option is alive and sick in MA. That is our future under the current bill. Slight of hand, take higher taxes and give it back to you in Health coverage. Ration care with a goverment panel, do we really want someone else to make our life and death choice?

    Real health reform would reduce cost, change when health care is delivered (prevention) and would foster free enterprise.

    Real ideas->

    sell insurance across state lines

    fully fund medicare so the other insured members are not subsidizing medicare

    tort reform

    create a central medical record to share information-don't pay for duplicate tests, share facility & provider & drug cost and success data-then you can shop for a cost effective services

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 4:52 PM, dbassett12 wrote:

    to money 4eds -- great ideas. please run for congress!

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 6:16 PM, qualguy wrote:

    To me the explanation for the lack of progress in healt care reform is obvious - it's named Mitch McConnel, US Senate Republican Leader. He's made it Republican strategy, to attempt to foil any and all Democratic initiatives so that he can stand back and say we have a "Do Nothing" admisistration. With Mitch it's Part First, Party Second", "Party Everytime, All-The-Time". How else do you explain that only 6 of the 41 Senate Republicans could bring themselves to vote for a small $15B Jobs Bill? The Republicans who keep shooting about the big spending of the Democrats wanted an $85B Jobs Bill full of pork for their supporters. Mitch also constantly plays loose with the truth. On Fox he said "No party have ever used the Reconcilliation Process for a bill like the Health Care Bill". Well that's an outright lie. Reconcilliation has been used more by Republicans than Democrats, and has been virtually the only process that has worked for any and all health care reform in the last 30 years. Regan used it for his tax cuts, Newt Gingrich used it for his Contrac With America, and on and on.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 6:19 PM, puckjohnl wrote:

    Money4eds, you've got great ideas. There is a substantial difference between "Healthcare Reform" and screwing Health Insurance Companies because they are the perfect whipping boy. Insurance company profit margins are razor thin and easily in line with other major industries. High profits (like with oil companies, on occasion) are a function of HIGH Volumes not price gouging. For example, a major portion of Wellpoint's recent profits are the result of the mega-billion sale of it Pharmacy Benefits Management unit. Leading Democrats, including the moron HHS Secretary are fully aware of this but need "hearings" to grandstand for the ignorant general public. How can anyone believe that adding 30-40 million uninsured (many indigent) with no caps and coverage for pre-existing conditions will "lower costs over ten years" due to Medicare cost savings by addressing fraud and abuse (which should have been done already through "excellent Govt management and oversight." Let's start slow! Fix and adequately fund the timebomb that is Medicare and then extend Medicare benefits to 55+ age group.

    It would be interesting to see how many of the currently uninsured would vanish with just this measure alone (especially since this a demographic that probably truly needs health assistance.)

    Finally, healthcare is an entity that doesn't even understand the true modality of its existence. If you described any system that requires universal access, existing state regulation (generally through state insurance commissions), 24/7 coverage, analyzed rate increases, etc., it would be and IS called a "PUBLIC UTILITY." I don't know too many of these that are perpetually insolvent. Perhaps there are a great many lessons to be learned if, as Peter Drucker has often eloquently written, the Healthcare Industry actually new what BUSINESS it was in. Just a thought ...

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 6:22 PM, eldetorre wrote:

    Yes tort reform is a good idea, but it only helps the insurance companies bottom line. No way will they pass savings on to consumers.

    Ultimately I think the problem in this country goes beyond just health care. The problem is that in our economy the only way it seems to make huge profits is on wall street where you produce nothing, speculate on everything, and hand the bill to the tax payer when things go wrong. Investors seek comparable profits in all industries including the healthcare industry which is why we are where we are. Of course when your dealing with really tangible things like life and death it's more difficult to do things with smoke and mirrors. Maybe if someone came up with some arcane financial instrument to leverage personal health which could be speculated upon and repackaged a dozen times over we'd get someplace.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 6:34 PM, WyattJunker wrote:

    president B.O. hasn't conceded a damn thing to the other side on any of his 'healthcare reform' cramdowns.

    Its the same crappy public option every time. Every once in awhile he'll drape some new verbiage over the public option, but its still there.

    Never once does he endorse national competition among the various state insurers.

    Its always more entitlements. More spending. More taxes. More help for the freeloaders. Spread the wealth around.

    What about nationalized foodcare? I will die quicker without a balanced diet than I will without Lipitor or a checkup. But that's right, the gov.t already does. Its called food stamps, ahem, excuse me, I mean nutritional assistance programs. Don't want to hurt any feelings.

    Let's see. The government is already into nationalized foodcare. They just got their bubble burst with nationalized housing(Fannie and Freddie) which we'll be feeling for the next decade. And now they want to go into the boo boo and band aid business too.

    This isn't America. Its Venezuela.

    And pretty soon, with our debt load... Argentina.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 6:52 PM, jomueller1 wrote:

    The idea of bipartisan support for a law is so nice. I watched this morning part of the meeting and a senator had such nice words, This posturing says at the end: "kiss my %^&*(("

    As a commentator said earlier, the Republicans get it their way, no matter who is in power. It seems to me that the Rs are so much better sales people. I guess that's why they like private enterprises so much.

    The president tries to be so nice instead of asking: "Why do you not want everyone to have the same health care that you and I have?" he lets the obstructionists get away with their smooth talk. This gives the general public the feeling the White House is not really serious and therefor the support for Mr. Obama is down.

    Let's take a different angle. As the cost of health care grows we see the point where public debt and cost of health care eat up all the money that the lower 90% of the population earn. With other words, there is no money for food, housing, services, and so on. The businesses solved one part of the problem with outsourcing to other countries. Another part is solved by bringing in illegal immigrants who have no entitlements. The last and unsolved part is how to get rid of all the people who believe they have rights. Oops, something is wrong here - where did the market go? No consumers any more? The last one please turn off the lights.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 7:07 PM, Emmidy wrote:

    EVERYTHING that's wrong with our economy, etc. is the result of our culture forgetting it's roots - self-reliance, independence, integrity and decency.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 7:45 PM, tbones94589 wrote:

    As I sit here and read all these comments on this hot-topic, I'm seeing a lot of people saying things against this "reform". Well most of these people are usually the same people that have "provided health-care"; whether self paid through their employer at a discounted rate or government provided. If you are an employee of a state or county government, or even a worker at a hospital, your insurance is paid for by the taxpayer, even executives of companies have provided health-care, in the forms of tax-breaks and tax write-offs.

    If we were all on a level playing field of no one having health insurance, and having to pay for it out of pocket, I know there would be a public outcry for reform or even government subsidised plans.

    What is going to have to happen is the people of this country are going to have to stand up together and force legilsators to give up their insurance and stop taking corporate donations from the healthcare and pharmacutical industries, among others. Then you'll see a well organized plan that would give the best coverage to ALL people not just a select few like we have now. As long as the people are adimately against favoritism of the select few who think they have to have priviledged health-care plans, the bill would be written for a benefit of all persons involved.

    Until that day happens, I bid you all a good day, but dont forget to call your congressman and senators and tell them what you think should be included in the current bill!!

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 8:37 PM, Research1st wrote:

    We have a huge debt hanging over our country. The government has wasted, mismanaged, and redirected funds behind closed doors. I am 57 and worried about my Social Security. Let's work on that. This HSA they talk about, is that going to be managed by them too? If I managed my household and credit the way they have managed the money American Citizens have paid in taxes, I would be held accountable. And now they want me to trust them with my healtcare !! I don't think so. I think I can manage my own healthcare better than they can.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 9:39 PM, DDHv wrote:

    If better health care costs were really wanted: 1) they wouldn't refuse tort reform; 2) they wouldn't insist on government abortion payments; 3) they would insist on interstate insurance competition; 4) they would work out a way to cut costs for people who use simple methods of improving their health.

    After my 2002 heart attack, I searched the net on ("heart attack" AND prevention). Did you know that people who take 500 mg/day supplemental vitamin C have a 40% lower heart attack rate? Did you know that an even higher supplemental vitamin C rate produces a 71% reduction? I certainly wasn't told about this BEFORE I had my heart attack! These and some other health preventive means are cheap!!! BTW, our current health system produces better survival rates for heart attacks, cancer, & some other things. But they should be encouraged to prevention.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 10:08 PM, markymarknyv wrote:

    Friends, Americans, Countrypersons, lend me your ear.

    I'm a Brit entrepreneur, living in NYC. I'm currently "back home" working on the launch of my latest attempt in this desperate economy to get something going. I'm far from lazy, spending 14 hours a day most days moving things forward.

    Over the last 9 months my personal healthcare spending has represented about 15% of my total costs of living. My business partner, another Brit back home pays marginally higher tax and health care spend for her is a miserly 0.4% of her monthly spending.

    I don't know what the total cost of health is as a proportion of GDP, but I'm pretty certain it is significantly less than 18%. A months prescription drugs per unit is less than $10. Cancer screening is guaranteed within 14 days of any concern and many trusts are now managing 7 days. Emergency care doesn't require any form of plastic. Insurance card, or credit card. Care is free at the point of delivery.

    And if you really want to bump the queue, you are welcome to buy health insurance yourself, and yes you will get seen quicker, but at a price... And not much quicker.

    SO how does that tie together. Well the fact is, we'll be recruiting our tech an marketing guys out for the UK as we grow and a big reason is health care, Only essential local sales staff will be in the US. How many other entrepreneurs will do the same... At 18% of GDP? At 25% of GDP. At 30%??

    Is the UK's universal scheme perfect? No, but neither is a scheme anywhere that lets 10% of the population be without coverage. That is immoral and you are mostly a good people.

    Don't decry the public option. If the insurance companies are so great and efficient, then they'll work out how to compete. And if they are not, then you'll know that they've been profiteering for years.

    Humbly.. A legal alien.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2010, at 10:18 PM, 26yrstogo wrote:

    Here's a crazy thought... what if we made traditional Health insurance, government subsidies and health care mandates illegal. If we all had to pay the bills for our own health care... we might tend to ask questions like how much does this cost and how can I pay for it? If the hospitals and the Docs were not forced to care for patients with out means, I would venture to say we would lower the cost of health care dramatically. How did the population survive before insurance became so popular in the 50s and 60s?

    Insurance dulls our sense of what medical services cost the consumer. When we don't care what the bill is...is it any wonder why the cost would continue to rise.

    When our Government got into Medicare the cost of health care soared. If you think I'm off track on this take a look at another government sponsored service... higher education... it rises twice the cost of inflation and has done so ever since easy student loan money became available in the 80's. Why control our costs if we can just increase our tuition to meet the increase in Government sponsored student loans.

    The more government spends the higher the price...so maybe we ban government spending and eliminate health insurance and see how quickly the cost of health care plummets. Yeah... just a crazy thought...

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 1:40 AM, PigletOctopi wrote:

    When I owned and operated a business, I purchased my own health insurance. I did so by giving up cable TV, cell phones, a newer car, etc. I was well able to afford the payments. To me my health insurance was more important than these other things.

    Now that my health insurance is provided to me through my husband's employment, we opted for the basic plan after having the premium plan for several years. By making a few phone calls, I have lowered my prescription bills on just two medications by almost $2,000/year under this new plan. There are always alternatives. But it is our responsibility to look for them and not to depend on our government to supply them.

    My point is I am the only person responsible for my well being, no one else. I have gone through some terrible medical problems, but because I depended on myself I came out of it all with flying colors. I do not want government interfering with my medical decisions. I do not want any doctor having the last word on my condition. I want that responsibility, because if I hadn't had that opportunity I would not be here today.

    And one last thought, does anyone here really think that any plan passed through the government is going to give you coverage equal to what the president or congress has at their disposal? And when the money runs thin, and it will, who will have to give up their coverage first?

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 1:49 AM, donbcms wrote:

    Here's an even crazier idea! Put all 536 of these bickering children (Congress/Senate) on Social Security AND Medicare, then see how fast THEY Could FIX IT! ! And It can be done! They did it to one million Postal Workers back in the '90's, when they wanted the Postal Civil Service dollars. Bring those bickering children back down to earth. IT CAN BE DONE! !

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 3:23 AM, john795806 wrote:

    Here's a solution: Copy a system that actually works. Every industrialized democracy (except the USA) has a universal health care system that costs less than what we pay, and by objective measures of health care (lower infant mortality, longer lifespan for example) delivers more. The French system has incentives for doctors that encourage positive outcomes; they are rewarded for keeping patients healthy (not pumping them full of drugs and subjecting them to unnecessary procedures, and encourages preventive care (an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and costs less too!). Are we too proud to do what works the world over?

    Of course--to do that, you have to get our unruly Congress in tow. Obama is right to do an end-run around the filibuster, which is a worthless and abused procedure. And some campaign finance reform would help long-term so congressmen and women could concentrate on their jobs instead of spending time in endless posturing and fund-raising.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 5:53 AM, vebb wrote:

    Nothing politicians do will change the state of health in the US. Entitlement programs have caused a shift of responsibility from the person to the government . Those of us who pay for our own health care have a vested interest in being healthy and we try to stay that way. In my humble opinion , the government should stay out of the health care business expand medicaid to absorb the uninsured, (crack down on FRAUD......est @ $150 billiion/yr) take employers out of the loop( employees pay for this anyway-Hello!), and let the free market adjust. Having said this I do believe the Feds can implement regulations ,ie.,Ins companies cannot drop those who get catastrophic illnesses,pre existing conditions cannot be denied, AND tort reform ,etc.

    I think the MF commentary offered some constructive ideas as well.

    But , this is a bad time to be ramping up expenses anyway , lets focus on the economy.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 7:43 AM, xetn wrote:

    What vebb said. That is right on. Besides, where in the constitution does it say there is a right to health care? Oh, yeah, we don't care about any stinkin constitution. All we really care about is Socialism writ large.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 8:05 AM, jfrankh57 wrote:

    Both sides have their own agenda. I believe that anything that impacts the productive in society for the benefit of the non-productive as proposed since the 1960s backfires. People who are "given" things such as health care are likely to take it for granted and abuse it.

    Yes, we need reform. Let everyone work to receive basic needs care if otherwise uncovered. Work on tort reform as well as other cost controls. If a doctor is guilty of extreme malfeasants (sp?), then don't punish hospitals with punitive damages. Give a person healthcare to manage resulting issues, fine the doctors and bar them from being certified in the USA or even anywhere else in the world. If a doctor makes an honest accident, don't crucify that doctor, but keep and eye on the doc to ensure there is no pattern of repeat behavior and make sure the person hurt by the accident has enough access to cover attendant health care needs. No one needs to go to the poor house over an honest mistake and no one should become rich at the expense of everybody else trying to use the same hospital. If a hospital has a track record of bad care, hit the people responsible, such as the administrators with punitive fines, jail terms and whatever else necessary to ensure they do their jobs. I could fill several ledgers on what we should, could and couldn't do, but in the end, it is a direct result of the society and its behavior, such as that which leads us to obesity, that ultimately leads us to excessive healthcare needs and costs.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 9:56 AM, jfenlon wrote:

    Two years ago a member of my family underwent a bypass that cost over $200K. This person smoked heavily for 30 years, drank Scotch every day before dinner, and led a sedentary lifestyle. Had a full time job that required little movement. On the day she was hospitalized was in denial that her condition had anything to do with her behavior. All of you paid for her obstinacy because the cost of her care was included in your premiums. Still denies that her lifestyle had anything to do with her condition, but now she walks three times a week at the mall or elsewhere and has quit smoking. Don't know what was said in the doctor's office, but it apparently had an effect that years of entreaties by her family did not.

    Individual responsibility isn't mandated by this entitlement society we live in. The only effective way to controlling health costs is to subsidize only those treatments that are required for genetically caused disorders or accidents. It will never happen because the Democratic party has successfully created a welfare state that now includes the middle class. What passes for an educational system in this country does not require critical thinking so the lemmings will continue their march to the cliff edge.

    Since employers are not saddled with the requirement to provide automoble, home, or life insurance, why is it a given that they must bear the cost of health insurance?

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 10:31 AM, FLHX wrote:

    This is probably the most profound and complicated issue facing our country. As a business owner providing healthcare for my employees is becoming a larger and larger portion of my budget, and without some type of reform, doing so will become cost prohibitive in the near future. I am a conservative, a firm believer in capitalism and an optimist. Irregardless of my philosophies, I want to see reform, however, I lack confidence in our lawmakers as our country and its citizens take a backseat to party affiliation & politics. This is too complex an issue for Washington to tackle operating the way it currently does. There will be some type of reform passed, but until leaders with integrity and fortitude emerge, we the people will not get the best of what our system has to offer in terms of healthcare or anything else for that matter.

    I think in the end, it will take a few real leaders, both lawmakers and private sector leaders in the industry to sit down and work this out. It will also involve changes for all of us that won't be easy and will be painful, in one manner or another. For lack of a better way of putting it, this country as a whole needs to surrender the me for the we, without changing our roots in capitalism and a small, efficient government for the people and by the people.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 11:24 AM, UKIAHED wrote:

    xetn wrote:

    Besides, where in the constitution does it say there is a right to health care? Oh, yeah, we don't care about any stinkin constitution.

    Well – maybe the first line?

    "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    Yes, XETN that line reads “promote the general Welfare”

    Welfare

    welfare n. 1. health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being. [<ME wel faren, to fare well] Source: AHD

    So, the constitution would have the country promote – wait for it – health! Not just for a few but “general welfare” which I take to mean all of us…

    /Sarcasm on

    So XTEN – some of us do care about the “stinkin constitution”. In fact, we read it and try our best to understand the words as they were used by the founding fathers.

    Sarcasm off/

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 3:52 PM, donbcms wrote:

    vebb & XTEN are WRONG ! ! Get the "government " involved by putting those 536 "bickering children" on Medicare & Social Security. Bet that would give them incentive to fix the problems. Get the Senators & Congressmen out of their rarified atmosphere and down to Earth with the rest of us real people! ! Forget "Parties" and think "People"

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 4:22 PM, donbcms wrote:

    vebb & extn: Is it wrong for those 536 "bickering children to start thinking, "People" instead of "Parties"? ? If those Senators & Congressmen all had Medicare & Social Security, they surely would find ways to FIX its problems. Let them come dowm from that rarified atmosphere and live with us.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 11:09 PM, Superheater wrote:

    First, the article is horrible. Consensus and compromise is great for grade school disputes; but not when our liberty is in peril.

    For the rest of the the fools (used as a pejorative here) that think that its the big, bad insurance companies, for profit hospitals or other leftist shibboleths that are routinely trotted out as causes of the "crisis" are actually the big bad wolf, I pity your inability to think critically.

    In fact, the know forgotten like-glue linkage of health-care finance is largely the result of federal wage and price controls in WW2. After the war, Sec 106 of the Tax Code made unlimited employer health insurance expenditures deductible, so employees insisted on as much as possible.

    Of course that put those not getting a paycheck in a bad way; so the feds gave us Medicare/Medicaid and costs really took off.

    Then there's the state mandates that insist of payment for stuff like sex changes (sorry, not the same thing as a radical mastectomy for a breast cancer victim).

    Government intervention that pushed the use of "other peoples money" to pay medical bills is the PROBLEM, not the solution, and as a former Medicare/Medicaid auditor; I've seen the bureaucracy, inefficiency, arbitrariness, and paperwork that government "help" brings.. if you saw it, you'd have a different perspective.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 11:10 PM, Superheater wrote:

    First, the article is horrible. Consensus and compromise is great for grade school disputes; but not when our liberty is in peril.

    For the rest of the the fools (used as a pejorative here) that think that its the big, bad insurance companies, for profit hospitals or other leftist shibboleths that are routinely trotted out as causes of the "crisis" are actually the big bad wolf, I pity your inability to think critically.

    In fact, the know forgotten like-glue linkage of health-care finance is largely the result of federal wage and price controls in WW2. After the war, Sec 106 of the Tax Code made unlimited employer health insurance expenditures deductible, so employees insisted on as much as possible.

    Of course that put those not getting a paycheck in a bad way; so the feds gave us Medicare/Medicaid and costs really took off.

    Then there's the state mandates that insist of payment for stuff like sex changes (sorry, not the same thing as a radical mastectomy for a breast cancer victim).

    Government intervention that pushed the use of "other peoples money" to pay medical bills is the PROBLEM, not the solution, and as a former Medicare/Medicaid auditor; I've seen the bureaucracy, inefficiency, arbitrariness, and paperwork that government "help" brings.. if you saw it, you'd have a different perspective.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2010, at 11:12 PM, Superheater wrote:

    As for UKIAHED, "promote" doesn't mean "provide" or "pay for". Good grief!

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2010, at 12:05 PM, none0such wrote:

    Everyone agrees that the costs of health care in America are going to bankrupt everyone (in nine years time, an average of 38,000 a year on health care?! Half of the average person's projected salary). Reform is necessary because we have a haphazard and ad-hoc insurance system. I have lived in Taiwan for the past 8 years and experienced the first rate health care here. The only thing I can tell you is that there has got to be a better way than what exists in the US today. The national health insurance here works very well (for a country of 23 million - I don't know about 300 million) although it is a system that can not be sustained for long without increasing premiums or reducing services at some point. Private health insurance has for some years begun to step in (the kind you go and buy yourself rather than offered or given by your employer).

    Perhaps the US Congress should give people travel vouchers to have routine medical procedures done in another country instead of trying to 'fix' US health care. They've outsourced everything else.

  • Report this Comment On February 27, 2010, at 5:41 PM, raiehausj wrote:

    lAs long as healthcare provders are for -profit monopolies healthare costs will rise as pointed out in the article. Most of the healthcare so called plans set forth by NOPers are not plans but concepts . You can't enact concepts into law, only plans. You develop plans by setting goals.Rhetoric and political gamesmensio gets you nowhere. Congress is not elected to impose personal ideology on other citizens, but as the Constitution states "to promote the common welfare of its citizens." Now isn't that an interesting concept.?

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2010, at 4:46 PM, Glycomix wrote:

    The heritage foundation says that the Obama’s new entitlements will cost $1.1 Trillion a year for the next ten years http://www.heritage.org/Research/Welfare/sr0067.cfm.

    Divide by 135 Million taxfilers in 2005, that comes out to an extra $8,148 per taxpayer.

    Can't the US buy comprehensive insurance for less than that?

    The most the IRS has ever collected was around $5,000 per taxpayer.

    To pay for this taxes will have to go up at least 150%, perhaps more because of the number of people who'll be put out of work because of the further contractions in the US economy.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2010, at 11:32 AM, Keal7 wrote:

    Please stop quoting Heritage. We have to quote from credible no-partisan groups or we start of making decisisons with tainted or slanted premises. Are we interested in solving a problem or WINNING a political argument or is there an intelligence complex on display on all sides (losing crushes our feelings of smartness and rightness)?

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2010, at 12:26 PM, NDSuperman wrote:

    Why is a company making a profit a bad thing? I understand that there are anecdotal instances where some one is denied coverage. However, it is my position that the government has no business in providing this service for it's citizens (at least on the federal level). The only constitutional function of the government is to provide court rooms in which to resolve disputes.

    How dare we forget what made the United States home of the best health care in the world.

    Are we really talking about healthcare? Or, rather, who PAYS for the healthcare?

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2010, at 5:05 AM, Acorn17 wrote:

    Who wants to commit political suicide by ticking off their key constituents and primary funding sources. There is no way for compromise to realistically be reached. The only realistic hope for "change' is for a super-majority to come to power and then we only get their "solution" which will create gross excesses for every issue that is solved (ie: Republicans will hang those who are poor and under / un-insured out to dry by completely ignoring a public option and allow insurance, pharma, and your hospital of choice to continue to eat our lunch at home and really crush the working class and Democrats would go after insurance -- but inevitably pile up immessurably more debt by allowing every bloated public option to hit the table and stay there with little accountability -- and they would also leave Pharma alone). To think that there is a reasonable compromise is nuts -- unless, unless, there were a referendum pushing for something like say mandating a health care system along the lines of the rest of the developed world. (Details to be worked out under a public mandate which would also be flawed, but at least moving in the right direction -- to get health care back under 10% of GDP and stop subsidizing the rest of the world's R&D).

    As an American living abroad, I run into numerous people from England, Austrailia, Western Europe, Canada etc. -- I have NEVER heard a single one of them complaining about the health care that they receive when they compare it to the states. No their systems aren't perfect and they have their gripes, but as soon as you ask them if they would rather go to anything resembling the US model, they shout "NO" and run in the other direction. The reality is that their care is fine (which is why the rest of the world -- non-charity cases -- go to get care under European doctors) and if you want to improve it and mitigate some of the gripes you can buy supplemental private insurance for a TINY fraction of the cost of any US plan.

    If it were as bad as people say, they would all be having the health care debate and not us. BTW, the third world country in which I live is aspiring to the European model that they hope to reach one day. There's a good reason for it.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2010, at 8:39 AM, FreedomTrader1 wrote:

    The 500 lb. gorilla in the room is why doesn't the present health care reform consider two major cost factors?

    1) Tort reform - to reduce the ACTUAL cost and to decrease doctors' propensity to practice defensive medicine. Remember, malpractice insurance at all levels - hospital staff, physicians, drug companies, diagnostic equipment manufacturers, etc. is required and this drives up costs together with additional tests and procedures performed to demonstrate "due care".

    2) Interstate insurance competition - insurance companies need the flexibility to compete ACROSS state line. There is no logical reason why they can't - only political.

    FT1

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2010, at 3:11 PM, pearlwhitson wrote:

    I am gladly and eagerly waiting for the Dems to grow a pair and do what they were sent to do. And reform healthcare in the manner currently being proposed by the Senate and the Presidents plan is what is needed. If we need to add a public option later then fine.

    There is no reason to suppose that the "market" has any interest in the American citizen's health.

    Finally, there simply is no evidence that tort reform does anything to reduce real costs. Check out healthcare costs in Texas. Do you think these have gone down since tort reform was passed. The answer is no.

    In addition, the "deal" was supposed to be that enforcement and dogging bad doctors would be increased to compensate for the limited capacity of harmed patients to get monetary compensation. Do you think that has happened? Or is the Medical Board under pressure to reduce their budget by 5% like all other departments. The answer here is yes.

    Universal care already exists. Let's start paying for it in a more sensible manner.

  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2010, at 6:23 PM, littlelamb3 wrote:

    Shame on anyone who does not think we need reform. Disgraceful. Just get a chronic medical condition and then lose everything because you have cancer and tell me again it is not needed.

    FOR SHAME on you all

Add your comment.

DocumentId: 1121076, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 7/29/2014 7:59:36 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 10 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,982.59 22.02 0.13%
S&P 500 1,978.91 0.57 0.03%
NASD 4,444.91 0.00 0.00%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

7/28/2014 4:00 PM
AMZN $320.41 Down -3.60 -1.11%
Amazon.com CAPS Rating: ***
F $17.64 Up +0.02 +0.11%
Ford CAPS Rating: ****
GE $25.59 Down -0.20 -0.78%
General Electric C… CAPS Rating: ****
GOOGL $599.02 Up +0.94 +0.16%
Google (A shares) CAPS Rating: ****
MSFT $43.97 Down -0.53 -1.19%
Microsoft CAPS Rating: ***
WFM $36.53 Down -0.35 -0.96%
Whole Foods Market CAPS Rating: ****
XOM $104.37 Up +1.19 +1.15%
ExxonMobil Corp CAPS Rating: ****

Advertisement