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Ear to the Ground

Day 2 in the Health Care Showdown

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Posted on Mar 27, 2012
latimes.com

The scene outside the Supreme Court building in Washington from the Los Angeles Times’ coverage of Tuesday’s hearings on the health care law.

Tuesday marked the second day of arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court over key aspects of President Obama’s health care reform law, and the top court’s conservative justices were at the ready with pointed questions for the Obama administration’s lawyer about the stipulation that would require all Americans to have health insurance.  —KA

The New York Times:

“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked the lawyer, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., only minutes into the argument.

Justice Antonin Scalia soon joined in. “May failure to purchase something subject me to regulation?” he asked.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked if the government could compel the purchase of cellphones. And Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked about forcing people to buy burial insurance.

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By Miko, March 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The phrase “the top court’s conservative justices
were at the ready with pointed questions for the
Obama administration’s lawyer about the stipulation
that would require all Americans to have health
insurance” is misleading, as it’s worded to suggest
that the ‘conservative justices’ were doing something
improper, which they weren’t: the point of the
hearings is to determine the legality of this
program, so they’re supposed to be asking pointed
questions about it.  If you really believe that the
conservative justices were asking pointed questions
and the progressive justices weren’t, a better
summary would be “the top court’s progressive
justices weren’t doing their job.”

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By Jeff N., March 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

“You’re an interesting sort.  I give you that.  You assume if you string together more than 50 words readers will forget you were unwilling, or unable, to answer a direct question.  It’s cute. “

Unlike you, I’m not interested in putting a show on for “readers” and showing off my endless unyielding ability to disagree on all things without supporting fact. It’s just you and me, having a discussion.  And I’m genuinely not understanding what you’re talking about, thus my comment saying I am confused.  Very difficult to grasp, I know.

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By Jeff N., March 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

“You’ve only heard the positives from people who, you believe, look like you.”  lol.. uhh, what? 

I’ve read empirical studies and seen obvious statistics that tell me that countries with single-payer systems have better results and lower costs for their health care.  Thats it.  That’s all I’ve been saying this entire time.

If you want to talk about avoiding direct questions, how bout the several attempts I’ve made at getting you to explain this “Single-payer will make sing the hearts of the 1%” type comments.  You keep reinforcing the comment by wording it differently, but the explanation of HOW this would be the result is not apparent in your comments, so I’m assuming you have no support for this.. which unfortunately appears to be the crux of your argument.  Earlier your comments made it seem as though you were in support of a single-payer system, and I have yet to hear your alternative solutions to the problem.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, March 28, 2012 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment

Jeff N.,

You’re an interesting sort.  I give you that.  You assume if you string together more than 50 words readers will forget you were unwilling, or unable, to answer a direct question.  It’s cute. wink

-

Back to the topic:  I’ll assume you’ve never considered the far-reaching effects of what you propose.  You’ve only heard the positives from people who, you believe, look like you.  You trust their wisdom.

What you propose to do is place even more control at the feet of the 1% who, you yourself feel, already control the Congress, banking, commerce (health-care) and the military.  Single-payer will make sing the hearts of the 1%.  Their collective grip will be codified in the halls of Congress and every State House across the nation.

Needless to say, we have a difference of opinion.

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By Jeff N., March 28, 2012 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

IMax - I’m somewhat pleased that you’ve progressed from utterly boring me with your comments to utterly confusing me…  Look at the discussions that most people have on these columns, then look at your comments.  Look at theirs, look at yours.. you never have any point to your comments, never any solutions, just agonizingly banal arguments that don’t lead anywhere.  Unless you start engaging me with useful comments I’m not going to bother with the discussion in the first place.

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IMax's avatar

By IMax, March 28, 2012 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

Jeff N., - “I’m not getting the connection between single-payer health care and solidifying the power of the 1%.”

-

Who, in your mind, controls industry, the legislative process and the Military Industrial Complex?

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By Jeff N., March 28, 2012 at 4:36 am Link to this comment

IMax - I’m not getting the connection between single-payer health care and solidifying the power of the 1%, please explain.

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By Marian Griffith, March 28, 2012 at 4:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Imax
It is true that few countries have a full single payer system. Most opt for a hybrid solution where basic healthcare is mandated and where additional (non essential) healthcare is subject to additional insurance policies.
Some countries have the payment of basic healthcare handled directly by the state, but most have a mandated coverage of every citizen and an annual negotiation between hospitals and other primary care givers, insurance companies and government officials regarding the maximum premium that can be asked for this basic insurance.

@Everybody
What I find particularly worrying in this editorial is the questions asked by the justices. They either seem incapable or unwilling to understand the concept behind insurance policies. The questions that were asked and the similarities they inferred between purchasing small luxury items and financially crippling medical bills strongly hint that at least part of the supreme court is aiming to take another step towards a Randian (Collectivist) distopia.

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By IMax, March 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

Jeff N., - “Given your penchant for endlessly debating impertinent details, I should have expected this reply.”

-

Cute.  I was responding to your details.

It’s not a matter of simply “showing you some studies” on how the world’s largest government managed health-care systems like China, India, Britain, Germany, France, Canada, Australia etc., have been legislating more privatizations into their systems as a mechanism toward bringing down costs.  This one will take some effort on your part.  I was as surprised to learn this as you are now.

Why solidify the power of the 1%?

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By Jeff N., March 27, 2012 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

IMax- I don’t take a great deal of comfort in hypotheticals and how the system might work out someday.  I prefer concrete, proven methods when possible (as they are in this case).

The meaning of your second paragraph is completely lost to me.  “This, you believe, will lower costs and raise quality for everyone.”  It does do exactly that.  There is completely uncontroversial, empirical evidence that this is true on many reputable economic policy journals.

Given your penchant for endlessly debating impertinent details, I should have expected this reply.  Let me revise this comment to say that MOST developed countries provide some level of publicly funded, universal health care to their citizens.  Canada, Australia, almost all of Europe, Russia, much of South America.

“Most of those single payer systems have spent the last 6-14 years legislating more “privatizations” into health services”.  1) I would certainly appreciate some research backing up this claim, and 2) Even if it were true, it doesn’t contribute anything to your argument.  So, countries that have more efficient health-care systems are taking actions to becoming slightly less so?  Ok, sucks for them?

Your last paragraph may certainly be a valid concern, but again has little to do with our discussion.  What is it that you are trying to say on the whole here, are you in support of the system we have now?  What is the solution you’re looking for?

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By IMax, March 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Jeff N.,

I believe there’s a strong argument in that this particular piece of legislation is designed to move toward a single payer system over time.  In the legislation there is little incentive for employers to manage and maintain it’s own health liabilities and will simply opt-out by electing to pay proscribed fines instead.  At that point, with new sweeping powers over commerce, the government will effectively manage national health-care.  Or so the theory goes.


My problem with your particular solution is the effects.  As other developed nations have been doing for some time now, you would effectively collate and congeal the power of the existing 1% income earners over how the 99% receive services.  This, you believe, will lower costs and raise quality for everyone.

You cite that most developed countries use a single payer system.  That’s actually not true.  But the point I will make is that “Most”, and anyone can look this up themselves, most of those single payer systems have spent the last 6-14 years legislating more “privatizations” into health services as a means to curb out of control costs.  It’s an important piece of information, I think. 

The arguments of the past two days in the Supreme Court deal with far-reaching legislation which changes entirely how the U.S. government operates.  There’s been nothing like it since the New Deal.  It has never enjoyed a popular mandate.  Understandably divisive.

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By MeHere, March 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Dave Lindorff makes some good points in his CounterPunch article “Why the Supreme Court Should Kill Obamacare.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/26/why-the-supreme-court-should-kill-obamacare/

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By Jeff N., March 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm Link to this comment

“There is an argument being made in the U.S. Supreme Court which, in part, argues that the Affordable Care Act greatly expands that which is proven to have failed to produce desired results.”

IMax - Exactly.  I thought it was pretty clear from my statement that I was arguing for a single-payer system akin to most developed countries in the world besides the U.S., but yes, that would be my solution.  What the specific benefits and losses of Obamacare are, compared with our current system, is pretty hard for me to analyze considering the complexity of this legislation.  My (admittedly limited) grasp of the trade-off is that in return for a whole bunch of new customers, insurance companies will have to guarantee coverage (pre-existing conditions and the like) and the taxpayer will probably subsidize a whole lot more spending than they already are. 

Considering a single-payer system is not even on the table (think Kucinich had sponsored a long-forgotten ‘Medicare-for-all’ bill a ways back), I find any discussion concerning the specific in’s and out’s of a tried and failed system useless, and in fact detrimental to making real progress on the issue.

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By Marian Griffith, March 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Surfboy

First of all, buying food for children is the responsibility of the -parents- not of the mother alone.

Second, if parents neglect their children then childcare services will interfere.

Third, it is quite heroic leap you are making in your argument. I would even call it a straw man argument to be honest.

Fourth, the point of insurance is that as many people as possible pay into it so that the cost for the relatively few that need the money is not financially crippling for anybody. This has nothing to do with socialism, as the rabid right would have it, but with basic economics.

If basic healthcare is not mandatory it is not an insurance program but a savings program. Which means that it kills off the younger people who happen to have the bad luck to need major medical support before their investment grows to a sufficient fund to pay for it, and anybody who happens to need healthcare during a time that the 1pct cashes in on a couple of trillion and the stock exchange tanks as a result.
(as happened with the pensions of a lot of people these past few years ...)

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By IMax, March 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Jeff N.,

There is divisiveness in this issue for good cause.  While you argue most people are too stupid to see the solution, I argue you’re not quite grasping the issues.

I believe there’s been no “private” health-care in the United States in over 30 years.  The advent of the HMO was supposed to lower costs and heighten quality.  Most people believe this has not happened.  The quality of “managed care” has plummeted and costs have grown mountainous.

There is an argument being made in the U.S. Supreme Court which, in part, argues that the Affordable Care Act greatly expands that which is proven to have failed to produce desired results.

What is your solution?

I am more concerned with the mandates in this particular piece of legislation.  The ramifications are enormous.

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By it's only Scott, March 27, 2012 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

What health care strategy has been proposed by anyone on the Right, other than to continue to allow pillage and plunder by the insurance industry and Big Pharma?  Or to encourage those who can afford neither health insurance nor medical care to accept “personal responsibility” by quietly dying?

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By Jeff N., March 27, 2012 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

It’s pretty sad how much time and resources are spent debating between two health-care strategies, neither of which strike at the root of the problem: the grossly inefficient, horrendously expensive privatized health insurance industry.  It is a near-perfect representation of our political system today, distracting people from the real issues with ignorant, diversionary slogans like “keep government hands off my health-care”.

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