Sunday, July 19, 2009

Change the Terms

As an old debater, I remember well our Coach, Father Henry, telling us to "never allow the terms of the debate to be set by your opponent...challenge the premise!" Bob Berg picks up that theme in an excellent post over here. A snippet:

The next time someone presents the argument as the false choice of two, simply tell them (with no defensiveness): “We don’t have a free market healthcare system.”

They will say, “Of course we do; how can you say that we don’t?”

You respond: “There are 133,000 pages of health care regulation in the U.S. Federal Register. Please tell me why you would consider that to be free market.”

Here's a snippet of sanity for Washington: how about we do the following:

1) Determine what the top five problems are with the NUMBER ONE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD.

2) Discuss possible solutions to those problems...

3) Illustrate how the legislation being proposed SOLVES those five problems.

Once we've done that for the first five problems, we can move on the next five. Either way, it will prevent the total destruction of a system that actually works VERY well for the VAST majority of Americans. The other thing that is for DAMNED sure is the current legislation proposed doesn't fix anything - it merely takes America one giant leap towards full statism.


Anonymous said...

1) According to a ABC/Wash Post poll, 83% of Americans are satisfied with their healthcare and 81% are satisfied with their healthcare insurance.

2) The World Health Organization ranks the USA FIRST out of 191 countries based on responsiveness to patients needs--which includes TIMELY treatment and choice of doctors.

3)According to the Concord Five Continent Study, a cancer patient has a better chance of survival in the USA than ANYWHERE ELSE in the world.

4)Many of the uninsured in this country are uninsured by short term changes in jobs, by choice or are covered by Medicaid.

5)Even if you accept the premise that there is an huge "uninsured" problem, THE PRESENT LEGISLATION DOES NOT ADDRESS THE UNINSURED PROBLEM; it just pulls everyone's healthcare down to the lowest common denominator by legislating all private healthcare options out of existence over a 5 year period. No private plan will be able to compete with a government plan that can run in the red indefinitely. You WILL lose your present private healthcare plan no matter how much you like it.

6) The power structure in Washington sees this as the time to take over and run a huge section of your lives--giving them a permanent position to literally make LIFE AND DEATH DECISIONS for you.

7) Every thinking American who believes that this country was founded on, and flourishes because of, INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM needs to stand up and oppose this huge government takeover of our lives.

8) The free market and the innate charity and fairness of the Americans will answer this problem better than any government entity. It is when the government barges in that Americans sit back and think the problems of the poor are no longer theirs to deal with.

9) Basic government-based safety nets for extreme situations are great, but the government never knows how to limit itself and will always grow any program for power(i.e. welfare, Social Security)--thus the voters must insist on the limits.

10) Stand up and tell them to get out of your life.

Anonymous said...

I think there is an important distinction that you (and many, many others) are missing here:

No more pretending that the health care industry is 'free market'. Free markets are defined by equivalent information. Do we have access to the same data that the healthcare industry has? Can we, therefore, actually make any sort of informed decision, a la the Invisible Hand? We cannot. When one party (the producer/supplier) has information the the other side (the consumer) does not... look it up, guys.

This is just poorly understood in the great unwashed public. The current insurance industry is NOT free-market capitalism, it is old-school oligarchy. And essentially every member of congress gets $ from them, and is therefore more interested in maintaining the status quo than in actually improving the value-per-dollar of healthcare. Do we have the best fMRI machines and such? (we do). Do we spend FAR more money per capita than anyone else on health? (we do). Can we do better? (Yes, but only by forcing the insurance industry as it stands to change its business practice to ACTUAL free-market capitalism, removing the institutional information imbalance).

Not rocket science, but I wish people would think before voicing (surprisingly angry), ill-informed opinions.

Rumbler said...

The anger you are sensing is people feeling their freedom ebbing away.

Anonymous is correct about the current health insurance is not a completely free market. BUT, the solution is not to destroy it with a government option that would undercut the private plans because it would not have to make a profit. Furthermore, the current "reform" being offered includes provisions that would FORCE you to go on the government plan if you switch jobs, lose your current insurance etc. etc. This is not reform, it is a takeover to set up socialized medicine.

Anonymous said...

If the insurance industry, in its current iteration, is unable to compete with a government plan then the response will be simple: someone will create a new, leaner, more efficient model for insurance (think JetBlue/Southwest versus United or American). The existing private plans are not truly efficient. They are only profitable by 'cheating'. As such, they are doomed to go the way of the dodo in a truly free market anyway. If a government option forces things to change, then I am all for it.

Pretending that somehow the deeply flawed current system does not need a shake-up is an interesting contention... I have a feeling that you are just anti-government in every situation. Therefore despite the fact that this may in fact be good for the future of America, you are willing to decry it just on vague anti-obama principles.

The economics of the new healthcare system are perfectly resonable and sound... but it must be what it says it is. A genuine public option that uses the law of large numbers to pool risk efficiently and save everyone money. While I dop not implicitly trust the government, I certainly do not trust the insurance industry as it currently exists, either. We know what they will do; they will change nothing, ever, unless forced to change by external factors.

It can work (it does in other countries - seriously, are we pretending to be proud that the FRENCH have a more efficient healthcare system than we do? im sure as hell not...) - no reason not to try it now.

(Well, no reason unless you work at an existing american insurance company, i suppose. if you get your check from Conseco or something... your opinion may have different weights on the variables....)

Rumbler said...

Nice thought, but it doesn't work that way. If the government becomes the sole provider, there is not competition. The bill states that you HAVE to go on the government plan if your private plan changes or you lose your JetBlue option.

I am not anti-government, I am pro-Constitution and I shudder when people will gladly trade their freedom for a little dose of security. They will end up with neither. The entitlement programs that the government currently runs - Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare etc. are ALL train wrecks. If the government takes over health care, the only way to make it feasible to where we don't end up with taxes at 80% + is to ration the care. Euthanasia clinics? Forced abortion? All part of the mix.

You are clearly overlooking the WHO's study which ranks the USA as #! - people don't leave the US to get healthcare elsewhere - a lot of people leave Canada and Britain to come here to get well.

As I asserted in the original post - let's not wreck the #1 system in the world when we can't even agree on what the "problems" are.

Anonymous said...

The government is not going to be the sole provider. You are extrapolating too far from what actually is being said. there are no barriers to industry-entry in the legislation as it stands, and in fact i imagine that a vast number of people would be delighted to go with a non-government option, all else equal. therefore... if the giant dinosaur companies are outcompeted and die off, the pioneer companies of the next generation will actually et a bolus of people like you who would rather be away from gov't control. that is an incvestment opportunity, not a problem...

and i have to point out that the WHO study is about technical capacities, not anything fiduciary. as the boomers get old and sick, who is getting the use of that one fMRI at the hospital? the rich guy. always will. no changing that. BUT... what about preventative care? (things that would save a vast furtune, if treated correctly, early)? this is exactly like social security. it did exactly what it was supposed to do: remove the oldest people in the population from abject poverty. that was the stated goal, and it worked effectively. Same thing here. if those who would otherwise have disregarded care get early treatment and save resources... then the spirit of the policy has been met. $ is saved and lives are improved.

and easy on teh conspiracy-theory stuff. forced euthanasia is hardly an outcome here, man... and that is the sort of stuff that marginalizes reasoned discourse.

Rumbler said...

I find it fascinating that there are still individuals out there who would actually WANT the government running their health care! As the old saw goes - health care with the efficiency of the Post Office and the compassion of the IRS.

As for the conspiracy theory charges - deal with the realities of Britain and Canada where seniors are denied heart and cancer treatments, where you are not allowed hip replacements. It's not health care, it's rationed care. The current House bill contains provisions for senior consultation every 5 years...the Germans didn't think it could happen to them either. Your wish for compassion does lead to the gas chamber.

Anonymous said...

wow. dark. im delighted that i dont live in your universe. seems creepy there.

Rumbler said...

Deep too.