Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Today, with President Obama's signature, health care reform became the law of the land. It’s not perfect but it’s a significant improvement over the mess we have now. The United States has taken a big step toward joining the industrialized world when it comes to insuring that the basic needs of its citizens are met.

It is a shame that thousands of Americans had to die on the way to this day because they couldn't afford insurance or because their insurance provider found a reason to drop them when they got sick or refused to cover preexisting conditions.

Despite their crocodile tears, Republicans did nothing when they controlled Congress and the White House to address those issues, not even basic matters of fairness that most reasonable people would agree upon. Now they have gone off the deep end, embracing all manner of wingnuttery.   

A new Harris Poll of Republicans shows that 67% believe that President Obama is a socialist, 57% believe he is a Muslim, 45% agree with the Birthers that Obama was "not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president," 38% say the president is "doing many of the things that Hitler did," and 24% believe that Obama "may be the Antichrist."

And these people think they know better when it comes to health care?

Republican pols, of course, are running around like headless chickens pandering to the rightest of the right wing, squawking "repeal" and saying that Americans are against health care reform. Today's USA Today/Gallup Poll shows Americans supporting the measure by 49% to 40%. As Taegan Goddard of Political Wire pointed out on Monday, analyzing a CNN poll: “Parsing the numbers shows that many of those against the plan actually oppose it because 'it is not liberal enough.' In fact, 52% of Americans either support the current legislation or think it should be more liberal, while only 43% oppose the plan saying it is 'too liberal.' "

At some point in the future, people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. And more people will be alive to wonder, thanks to this legislation.


Anonymous said...

Good grief David Arenson! Can't you just feel the budget deficit growing, taxes on everyone's income over $350,000/year rising, and the "loss of liberty" we all suffered today? The government is telling us we have to buy health insurance,subsidizing that purchase, and providing a market for us! The horror! "Armageddon"!

Anyway, before you know it, we'll have mandatory auto insurance requirements, mandatory liability insurance requirements for bar owners, and "rationing" of health care by insurance companies insisting on pre-authorization for certain procedures, drugs, and hospital stays. If that happens, I just might have to start frothing at the mouth, make a silly looking flag and a funny hat,hurl racial epithets at Congressmen, join an organization which borrowed it's name from one protesting taxation without representation, and move to Costa Rica. Who's with me?

(I can afford the move because my stock portfolio has done incredibly well since the bill was passed and signed, thanks to those conservative fat cats on Wall Street who, based upon the stock market's reaction, obviously aren't aware of the damage this bill will do to the country).


Doug in NM

Tom said...

I really respect everything you write.

I do not agree with you on this topic. As a CLLer, I understand many of the issues you brought up. I just have some fear that when the day comes when I need my BMT (I just turned 42)I might not get the best treatment I can.

I really hope my fear is unfounded. I really hope everything works out for America.

I don't think this is a slam dunk. I'm also afraid when people say "just approve it and we'll fix it later"... I've never seen that work.


Anonymous said...

Too many people have dropped too many balls on this very important endeavor.

It seems sad that politicians on both sides of the aisle failed to act reform healthcare in any meaningful way.

Instead the same poor system of allowing tax advantaged healthcare plans (which are effectively subsidized by everyone, especially those who are not working or not enrolled) was allowed to expand while a mere pittance was handed out to a few who were "outside" the system.

I hope that you really don't believe that many people died for lack of coverage. As a physician I categorically assure you that that has not been the case.

I also hope that you don't believe that this plan will save even one dollar. The way that it's set up costs will rapidly overwhelm the system leading only to higher taxes coupled with diminished availability of care...costly rationing as it were.

Healthcare providers will either grow wealthier, or they will leave the system further diminishing availability of care.

Medicaid....unless radical "surgery" is applied will not provide the type of "quality" healthcare for the 50% or so of the newly enfranchised by this plan. Medicaid reimbursents in some states ate so absurd that many physicians opt to avoid dealing with Medicaid.

When my state farmed out Medicaid coverage to "private" HMOs (think of organizations like ACORN) some years ago our group stopped providing care other than for in hospital emergencies and a limited (one afternoon a month) outpatient clinic) because the harasent, added to the lack of reimbursement made the situation untenable.

Attention to providing care was abandoned for a multiplicity of political reasons. What we've been left with will be a real disappointment.

A concerned physician with CLL

Anonymous said...

One thing that I forgot to clarify above (grammer and mispellings aside)...for those of you who don't care about increased taxes on so-called high income earners...nothing is indexed and I can almost guarantee that the ultimate plan is to introduce a VAT to cover the increased costs that will surely come. So David...you will ultimately pay a lot for this plan, likely much more than you have ever imagined.

Concerned physician with CLl

madge said...

Dear David,
Wow! You sure stirred up some strong feelings with your Health Care blog. I feel compelled to add my two cents. My husband and I have Tri-Care for Life (government insurance) thanks to his 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. I thank God everyday for the coverage. My husband has CLL and is receiving excellent care. We know of others who either can't afford insurance or have been turned down. We know a 37 year old single mother of 3 who has been rejected by insurance companies in California because 2 years ago she had surgery for a melanoma. What is she to do if she has a recurrance? I guess those who are against universal coverage will say ,That's her problem. We live on a fixed income but I will gladly pay more taxes for universal care. There but for the grace of God and my husband's service, go I. Thanks David for your compassion, information, and for sharing your battle with Cll. I'm an avid reader. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Our healthcare system is a perverted mess. I don't know how anyone can disagree with that: much too much of Darwinian capitalism and much too little of social justice. This bill is a very compromised attempt to make our system more worthy of a very wealthy country. It may end up a very bumpy evolution, but it's a necessary one.


Randy Shannon said...

Well David, having a Simpson character image says it all...we are now truly in bizzaro land. Our legislators- both sides- have once again used smoke and mirrors to line their pockets and patrician politics to enflame and promote. Civil discourse has been displaced by rude behavior that displays the greed, lust for power, and elitism of both parties…
Health care is a mess. So is the national debt. Bank bailouts, czars running amuck, I am continually perplexed how we keep electing people who have so little regard for our true well being... Yet somehow these civil servants manage to become wealthy on a $175,000 salary living in DC...
Maybe they should hold seminars, so we could reduce the unemployment- but then we can’t all work for the government- or can we.
We as a people will survive.
God Bless us all...

Anonymous said...

You're way off base, and this post proves it.

You have slit your own throat. Don't you read Dr. Hamblin's posts on this? You might learn something.

I predict the first thing to go is IvIG, the IGg blood product that helps protect CLL patients from infection. Even though most insurance will cover it, Obama won't because it's expensive and doesn't prolong life. It 'just' leads to a better quality of life.

Thanks for helping destroy the best health care system in the world.

I would be charitable and say that you are just ill-informed. I'd hate to think that you are dumb or anything.

Your blog is increasingly less interesting.

Anonymous said...

No statistics I've seen point to our health system as being "the best health care system in the world." Not life span, not infant mortality, not hospital-acquired infections, etc., and meanwhile we spend more per capita for health care than any other country. So please enlighten the rest of us dummies as to the basis for your claim.


Anonymous said...

Denny... Statistics lie and liars use stastistics.

Our population is about as inhomogeneous as it could get so comparisons to smaller nations with more homogeneous popluations are of little value.

Dou you really believe that healthcare in Cuba is better than in the US?

What our liberal powergrabbers have done is simply to expand the grasp of government and exponentially increase the cost of government.

The Leviathan will grow, requiring more unionized government workers who will feed on the rest of us while they serve to provide and ration whatever services are made available.

Our Military strenghth made it possible for European nations to evolve into socialistic welfare states after 1945.

Now that we are headed down that path the availability of our resources to do much more than feed the entitlents will continue to diminish until a more powerful group (likely with a different set of values...think Iranians or Chinese) replaces us.

You cannot have guns & butter. You can have butter when you have freedom and are willing to work for it. The butter turns rancid when you must depend upon someone giving it to you.

You and I will be gone, but what are we doing to our children and their children?


Thank God I have Japan's market-based, reasonably priced, Universal Healthcare System to return to when I get fed up with life in the States:

I came back to the USA in the fall of 2005 after 15 years in Japan and after being diagnosed with CLL in February of that year (I am 46 now and am still untreated). I got a job I didn't like much but held on to it as it had health coverage and i knew that I would have to work my way up the ladder here. Then I got a better job, one I liked, but damn was the health insurance expensive. I left that job after a year and a half for one that paid better and had reasonably price health insurance. As that health insurance was about to kick in I got laid off (probably not a coincidence). Luckily I was still on COBRA from the previous job. I went a whole year unemployed while on COBRA. My COBRA coverage has now expired and I am working at a job with no coverage at all - jobs with health coverage are becoming harder to come by.

Really, I don't know what to do now. Luckily treatment seems to be way off in the future. My wife is Japanese so we can return there but I would like my daughter to get better at English first. What a mess this country's healthcare is. In Japan this never would have happened to me.

Back in the mid-1990's both Taiwan and Israel both created different healthcare systems that work effectively for their citizens. Sadly, the Medical-Industrial Complex in this country won't let that happen here.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I know to be true. For-profit health insurance companies exist for one reason - to make and maximize profits. How do you do this? By charging your customers as much as you can get away with, and limiting payouts as much as you can get away with. How can anyone think that that would be conducive to great healthcare for the customers?

Then you have doctors and hospitals who are in business for one reason - to make and increase profits. Same question applies.

Then we have drug companies. Same question.

It may have been the case a few decades ago that, if you were ill, you could give yourself up to the healthcare system and have a reasonable expectation that you would get appropriate treatment based on the then-current medical knowledge. Is there anyone who follows David's blog who feels that way today?