Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Small Taste of the "Public Option"

On yesterday's Rush Limbaugh Show, Rush featured a letter to the editor that was sent to the Southeast Missourian. If you wish to read it for yourself, go to the original here. In the letter, a reader describes their experience with trying to get the H1N1 vaccine. This is very instructive because this is an example of what a government run health care plan, or "public option" might look like. From the letter:

The new era of government control over our lives and freedoms has begun. This week, it got personal, and I felt helpless.

The doctor overseeing my health care advised me to get an H1N1 flu shot. I've been under a six-year treatment program for a chronic infection, plus I have heart and lung problems. Therefore, I am considered a high risk. Fortunately, my doctor had three shots available, but I would have to get approval from my county health department. Much to my surprise, the woman at the health department apologized and told me that even though I was a senior citizen at high risk, the health department had been instructed to approve shots only for children and pregnant mothers. I asked when a shot for my situation might be available. "We really don't know. Check back with us sometime in December."

What? The terrorist detainees in Gitmo are getting shots this month. Why not a high-risk senior citizen?

Mr. Obama, this is what we call health care rationing, which you claim won't happen under a government-run health care program.

Here is a case where a high risk senior citizen was denied a H1N1 vaccine because the county health board employee hadn't been instructed to make them available to high risk individuals yet. In a government bureaucracy, employees follow their instructions and don't typically question the wisdom of these instructions. If you are upset with the layers of bureaucracy in your current plan, just imagine when you add to that plan the government' s bureaucracy.

To continue this example of poor government health care, the Pentagon said earlier this month that H1N1 vaccines would be given to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Press Secretary Bryan Gibbs quickly said there were no vaccines at the base, and there were none heading there. To further muddy the waters, the Pentagon confirmed this week that 300 doses of the vaccine had arrived at "Gitmo" (regardless of what Mr. Gibbs said). The current speculation is that 300 doses is too small of a quantity for any to go to detainees. I suspect in a month or so there may be an article quietly stating that more vaccines had arrived at Gitmo.

Whether you personally believe the detainees should get vaccinated or not, this is an example of the federal government making a health care decision based purely on politics. The Pentagon believed it,"...[had] an obligation to care for persons in its custody..." The White House didn't like the political fallout of taxpayer money providing flu vaccines to terrorists. The policy appears to have been changed. This took about a week and a half.

Now I ask you: if the Federal government was in charge of a much larger portion of the nations health care and they made a decision that got poor coverage in the press, do you think they might change that decision based purely on politics or polling data? Or do you really think they would stick to their guns and make the decision purely on medical reasoning?


pack04 said...

I went to the post office yesterday to get a PO Box. I had to take time off to do so because it was only open from 10 to 4 on Monday to Friday. I prepaid over the internet for it. The directions on the form and the internet said take two forms of ID that show a picture and verify your address. I take my drivers license (picture and address) and my passport. The lady after telling me I could not get the keys because the computer was down, then realizing it was not, told me that my drivers license did not verify my address. I said that is not the directions on the form. She said that is what she was told.
I began to wonder about government option health care. Basically I was denied a service because I had filled out a form wrong. I waited in a long line too. All things this new plan is too fix. Now you might say "well that is just the post office." I would say think about the lines at the DMV, how effective the DOT is, HUD, IRS, judicial system, etc.
But hey this could be the one thing they do effectively.
Damn I almost was able to click publish without laughing...

Seattle Dave said...

I don't understand what you are saying here Packe04.

On one hand, you're arguing that the government can't get anything right.

On the other hand, you openly admitted that you filled out a form wrong, and were denied service (which, is how it should be right?) which means that the lady at the post office got it right.

"And I waited in a long line, too"

Sorry, but what does that have to do with anything? Do you not sometimes wait in lines at the supermarket? Or the barbershop? Or the bank?

Andy D said...

I think Pack is worried that if the government runs health care, he could be turned away just because he filled out a form incorrectly, or because someone in the waiting area was told to do it that way.

The Democrats claim a public option will be better. That won't be better.

Seattle Dave said...

So under the current, FREE MARKET, system, that hasn't been yet touched by government, you are a) waiting in lines and b) being told that you filled out paperwork incorrectly.

Again, by admittance, the current system is broken. And you equate that to the public option??? How does that logic work?

Likewise, to equate health care and the DMV is an utterly ridiculous comparison. The DMV is a state, and in some cases, county ran agency. Not federal.

I'd also like to know why the DOT, HUD and Judicial system are included in this context?

These arguments are getting old. I still have not seen yet one cohesive argument as to why we shouldn't have a public option for the 40mil people in this country who are not currently covered.

At the very least, if you're going to make up arguments off the top of your heads, make sure you're information doesn't conflict with the very essence of what you are arguing?

Andy D said...

Dave, he went to the Post Office. The Post Office is run by the Federal Government and is not representative of the Free Market.

Here are the problems with a Public Option:

1) It will not cover everyone who currently doesn't have insurance. All of the plans proposed by Congress will only cover a portion of those who don't have insurance.

2) It will drive private insurance out of business. If the government doesn't have to make a profit, then it really isn't competing against private insurance. In the current bill, companies have a financial incentive to dump their insurance and force their employees to take the public option.

3) The public Option would be run by the government. The government doesn't do anything efficiently. There will be waste.

4) There will be rationing. There is no way you can cover more people for less money and provide the same level of service. It doesn't work that way. The current bill provides the "Health Commissioner" with tools to ration health care with.

Seattle Dave said...

You're right, about the post office. When I was writing that, I had it in my head that pack04 was at a DR's office.

On a couple of your points:

1) On bankrupting private insurance. Ridiculous assertion. How can creating a product for a segment of the population that doesn't currently have a product offered by private insurance, affect them adversely? Makes no sense.

2) Name me ten businesses in this country that don't have ANY waste at all? You can't. Now, I won't defend how amazing the government is in running programs, but medicare has seemingly kept people alive all these years. And there is no reason to believe that a public option would be any worse off than medicare.

3) Please find and post exact numbers as to how anyone has come to the conclusion that there will be rationing. You can't. And why? Because it's a false premise based off magical numbers that people have pulled out of the air.

Off topic:

Are you going to make a post criticizing the GOP, including conservatives, for denouncing abortion all these years, then finding out that abortions are covered in their policy?

Likewise, will you publicly denounce conservatives who are currently on the attack in regards to the movement of the 911 terrorists into a court of law?

I'm really interested in your viewpoint on those 2 subjects.

Andy D said...

The public option will kill private insurance in two ways. First, the bill passed last Saturday provides financial incentives for business to stop providing their employees with health care and to more them into the public option. Second, how can any private firm (which must make a profit) stay in business if it has to compete with a firm that doesn't need to make a profit?

2) I am not saying there is no waste in private companies. However, the government is really good at two things: making war and wasting money. Surely you and I can agree that there will be more waste in the public option than there will be in any major private endeavor.

3)Try this exercise: If you cover more people than today, the cost of providing health insurance will go up. If, at the same time, you put more restrictions on doctors(including when they can work, and how many hours they can work in a given week), and lower the amount they can charge for a procedure, you would expect less people to find the profession worth going into. The government can't do both of these things, and keep your health coverage at the same level it is today. It is just impossible. The President has even said that we will need to re-evaluate our treatment as we get older. Procedures that may extend life by only a few years, or only improve the quality of life, shouldn't be done. If the government forces that on members of the public option it is rationing. I just don't say anyway for the government to provide health insurance and not include rationing.

On the off topic issues:

If abortion is covered in the GOP's version of health care reform then I think it is a bad idea and needs to be changed before it becomes law. The majority of Americans do not approve of tax payer money paying for abortions. I don't know that "denouncing" the GOP for it is appropriate, but it is a bad idea.

I won't criticize conservatives for being outraged at the President for trying 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court. It's a terrible idea and shows a lack of understanding of Al-Queda and the terrorists we fight. More on this topic to come...

Seattle Dave said...

You misunderstood my first question.

Abortion is, and has been, covered in the GOP's actually current insurance policies.

So, a GOP member can go out, right now, and get an abortion paid for by taxpayer money.

And you floated around my point about private insurance and a public option competing for a market that private insurance won't cover.

Andy D said...


I don't understand your questions here. Can you elaborate a little?

pack04 said...

Okay, a little confusion from what I said. I did not in fact fill out the paperwork wrong, the lady was told something different. Of course the line that I stood in is indeed common at many different places, but one for sure is the post office.

As I understand a few of the goals of this new health care bill is to cut down on people losing insurance because they did not fill out paperwork correctly. Also to help address the long lines that have to be waited in to get care. I was merely pointing out that I have absolutely no faith or trust that the government can pass a law that will effectively solve this these issues. My reason for mistrust is my post office experiences, my dealings with the DOT, the judicial system and the HUD. All things the government has control over and uses to try and make our life better. However each and every government agency is filled with waste, inefficient actions and generally lack the ability to do everything that they need to accomplish while doing lots of things they don't.

I think something needs to be done with health care but I don't think adding an additional government program to accomplish those goals is going to be an effective way to solve the problem. I think a fundamental change in the way our government works, the way people think and the way people expect our government to work all need to happen to truly make our lives better from a health care, transportation, judicial etc point of view.