Sunday, August 23, 2009

National Pull the Plug (on ObamaCare) Day

I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago that looked at the performance of the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector and how it is a predictor of what would come of a national plan based on the same principles. I won’t go back over any of that ground, but I want to address an aspect of the health insurance debate that has me crawling out of my skin.

The White House apparently has adopted a strategy of saying whatever they think will satisfy the objector of the week. Just this last week, President Obama pronounced the “public option” to be only a “sliver” of the entire health care proposal and not really necessary to be successful.


His foot soldiers, including Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank, Russ Feingold and Jan Schakowsky have stated unequivocally that the public option is a critical component of health care reform and that reform without it would be hardly worth the effort.

We also know that Mr. Obama feels the same way when, in March of 2007, he said this:

“My commitment is to make sure that we’ve got universal health care for all Americans by the end of my first term as president. I would hope that we set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool [aka a public option] of some sort, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately [and move to a single-payer system, aka the public option]. There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out, or fifteen years out, or twenty years out.”

How does this square up with what he has said over the past week? It doesn’t, of course. And that’s the aspect of this health care debate that has me so upset. I can’t stand people who lie and deceive to achieve an end. Okay, you say, “Isn’t that what politicians do?” Yes, admittedly, they often do, but what is being pushed onto us now is Round One of a series of legislative changes that will achieve the ultimate goal of converting to a European-style single payer health care system.

The only one of the lot who’ll tell it like it is, is Barney Frank. You may love him or hate him, but he said on camera that the only way to get to a single payer health care system is to do it incrementally. He is correct about this and will do everything he can to keep the Democrats focused on this step-by-step plan.

The president, on the other hand, will deny that that is what’s going on to the general public, while telling target audiences, like the AFL-CIO, that the end game is a single payer system. I’d much rather have the proponents stick with their message and plans rather than have them claim positions today that are 180 degrees out of sync with what they claimed just a few months ago. Don’t like the deviousness in that.

Out of this frustration and because of our views against conversion to a socialistic system for health care delivery, a half dozen of us pitched in and started promoting National Pull the Plug (on ObamaCare) Day. See a number of truth-revealing videos and how to participate in National Pull the Plug Day at

Copyright 2009 Randy Hunt


  1. Hi Randy
    Sorry to disagree with your statement that the President was disingenuous with his statements. I watched his coments live. In FULL context he was reiterating that Health Insurance Reform is a monumental task and has many moving parts. Part of the overall package is a robust competitive market to in effect "break the oligarchies" the Insurance Companies have on our citizens.(my words not his). The Commonwealth Plan is in disarray as far as cost controls go because the legislature "caved" to the powerful Insurance Lobby and did not alter their virtual monopoly of health care control in Massachusetts. I have a personal family scenario that is ongoing that points out this glaring "oversight."
    The public option is but one approach and the Senate finance committee is due to report this month on their proposals. The President is due to provide more guidance as to their direction Wednesday.

    As far as I can see this President has been above board in his desire to allow Congress (our Legislative body) to have a vigorous debate on this issue. They have certainly done so in a debate that has gone to the American People.

    After hearing the debate He now will give clearer direction as to where he would like to see Health Insurance Reform proceed to help Congress further refine their proposals through Conference Committee.

    I ask you again to look at the Health Care system that Germany/France most Continental Eurpoe and Japan has -called the "Bismark" system. For you review I have cut/paste some of my comments to your article two weeks ago summarizing this and the other major models other nations have globally.


    There are 4 major types of health care systems in the world today & U.S. has aspects of each:
    1) “William Beveridge” model =England’s NHS. (Spain, Italy, New Zealand). Closest to our term “socialized medicine” = Government owns hospitals, buys the pills and pays the bills.
    a) U.S. =If you are a veteran or Native American this is you.
    2) “Bismarck” Model – France, Germany and most continental Europe plus Japan. Private Doctors, hospitals, insurance (many choices- of non-profit); Note: France rated #1 by World Health Organization. a) U.S. -If you are an employed person sharing your health insurance premium with your employer-this is you. The major difference is cost. Corporate monopoly in U.S. vs. reasonable non-profit in these nations.
    3) Canada- blend of both types: private Doctors and hospitals and Government pays the bills. Does have long lines for non acute care. a) U.S. - If you are a senior and buy Medicare from the Gov’t and go to private doctors –this is you without the waiting.
    4) “Out-of-Pocket” system = the remainder of the 150 or so nations. No money no care. a) U.S.- if you are one of the 45 million uninsured this is you. (Hospitals are primarily for acute care only…)


  2. Shawn, you say:

    "As far as I can see this President has been above board in his desire to allow Congress (our Legislative body) to have a vigorous debate on this issue. They have certainly done so in a debate that has gone to the American People.

    After hearing the debate He now will give clearer direction as to where he would like to see Health Insurance Reform proceed to help Congress further refine their proposals through Conference Committee."

    Two things about this:

    1) The House leadership was doing everything they could to get HR 3200 to a floor vote BEFORE the August recess in order to stop the American people from having these town hall debates. They didn't get that done and now have to pause and plan for their next end run.

    2) A Freudian slip possibly, but your capitalization of the word He in reference to our president offends me. I hope it was simply a typo.

    The objective of these health care reform proposals is to take as big a step as is currently possible towards socialization of our health care system in the form of installing a single-payer system.

    So let's have THAT debate, as you are trying to do here in this blog (and I appreciate that, by the way). Instead, the debate being had in Washington is not about installing a single-payer system, but supposedly about this health insurance mandate accompanied by a mini-single-payer system (the "public option").

    Since the health insurance mandate has no chance of success, as we're proving in Massachusetts, the Democrats in Congress are simply attempting to take that first big step towards a single-payer system while claiming not to be doing that. It's insincere and insulting to anyone who has a head on his shoulders.

  3. Hi Randy
    No offense intended. ..Known you too long and respect you too much to do that…
    I have travelled extensively throughout Europe and have had two specific experiences in Germany where I have utilized their health care. One was an ear infection that was thoroughly diagnosed and treated another was an injury I had while travelling. In both cases the treatment was certainly on par with what I would have received in the States. It is a competitive not-for-profit system I have detailed in my previous blogs – the “Bismarck” system. Folks there are very satisfied with their health care. They deliver a quality product at far less cost. They spend far less per capita and as a percentage of GDP. They have better outcomes and live longer.
    HR3200 I call the “Pelosi Bill”. It is detailed and thorough but many aspects like mandated care are troubling. This is a very complex and personal issue and the bill attempts to address it in a balanced manner. The major piece that should be in there is tort reform. I hope the Republicans can push this through.
    There is Bipartisan agreement on many of the issues which the President has outlined:
    • Reduce long-term growth of health care costs for businesses and government
    • Protect families from bankruptcy or debt because of health care costs
    • Guarantee choice of doctors and health plans
    • Invest in prevention and wellness
    • Improve patient safety and quality of care
    • Assure affordable, quality health coverage for all Americans
    • Maintain coverage when you change or lose your job
    • End barriers to coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions
    The term “socialized medicine” started with a PR firm hired by the AMA back during the Truman administration to combat a “universal health care proposal” he was advocating.
    As I detailed in my previous posts to truly go to this extent would require the government to do like the Brit’s have done in Owning the hospitals, clinics, doctors and staff, buy the pills and pay the bills. This is not on the table.
    One major obstacle is how to reign in the insurance monopolies. The “public option’ is one approach and the Senate Finance committee has discussed the “Cooperatives” which I would like to see more detail on. Whatever the vehicle will be it must be well capitalized to drive market forces to control costs. We must also alter the current “Fee for service” medical system and go for a “fee for outcome”. Doctors today have little desire to become GP’s. It’s all about specializing –that’s where the big money is. Many fine Hospitals – like the Mayo Clinic operate on this “fee for outcome” principle and they are a model for all to behold.
    All agree that the current path is unsustainable. Are we moving inevitably towards a single payer system? Maybe yes/Maybe no. Whatever the outcome there will be many revisions before and after any final bill is passed. It will be a long and winding road.
    As for the insincerity and insulting nature of Washington politics – what else is new? Both parties are equally guilty of this practice. It is about time they all put our country first; stop excluding themselves from the same laws the American People abide by; get rid of their elitism; and get back to doing the People’s work.

  4. Good post, Shawn. All good points.

  5. Shawn and Randy, good discussion and many valid points. Let me weigh in on several topics mentioned. Shawn, I too would agree with all the broad points made relative to the bipartisan agreement as outlined by the president. The problem is how to address each of those and for me, some of the suggestions from HR 3200 are intolerable.
    I for one do not fear a public option because even with the advantage that the government would have in setting low reimbursement rates to providers, especially primary care and most especially to specialists, I can tell you the outcome. Many of these doctors will play the game, taking a few of the covered gov. option patients. Suddenly, when others go to make appointments the office will say sorry we are not taking additional patients, which will anger these individuals, creating an uproar.This is the issueof not being able to see my own doctor.
    Shawn you also indicate the insurance lobby in Mass has dictated to the legislature what they whated as a plan in the state. Remember, the Blues organization, which is non profit, has 80% of the market in Massachusetts, not the commercial carriers. This is also true across the country. There is no monopoly in the health insurance industry when there are close to 1,000 companies of different sizes that offer health coverages. This has been a red herring tossed out by the proponents a singlepayer system.
    On the point of foreign countries who have "socialized " medicine costs being lower, the comparison is apples to oranges. Doctors in many of these countries work for a fixed salary. I suspect if we went this route the brightests would not be going into medicine but some other profession which hopefully isn't controlled by our government. What happens to quality care then? Secondly, these other countries have enacted tort reform providing protection to the medical profession against large judgements. This however is only the tip of the iceberg, as the elimination of unnecessary lab, diagnostic and other expensive service do not need to be done for doctor to "protect" themselves. This cost in the US is estimated to be approximately 25% of our total health care bill annually. I am interested in the details of Sen. Baucus' plan for tort reform,which was schedule to come out today. Still plenty to think about. Frank


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