Saturday, September 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

John McCain on banking and health-New York Times Blog
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

That's right, folks, they want to do for your health insurance what they did for banking.

Maybe we will actually get national health insurance, but only after the government has to step in and take over to prevent massive failures across the entire industry that jeopardize the fat bonus packages of big insurance industry contributors. Because Republicans don't believe in government intervention unless there's a complete disaster, and unless not intervening might hurt their buddies. Then they get "socialist" as all hell.


Anonymous said...

But it's not socialism Jerry. Socialists nationalize the good businesses.


Anonymous said...

These rapacious motherfuckers never quit do they? They also have no shame: none.

Jacky B.

Anonymous said...

That one needs to be hammered home. Is there video of him saying that?

John Dishon said...

Consider this: Healthcare in America is pretty dismal right now. Healthcare is also the most regulated industry in America, according to a study by the Cato group (

So, government intervention is responsible for healthcare's dismal state (after all, as far back as 25 years ago, healthcare in America was good and insurance was a measure of risk instead of being used for even routine checkups.)

And the solution is to give government more control (Universal healthcare) and force everyone to participate in it? No thanks.

I say just go back to the way it was 30 years ago, or maybe just tax employer-provided health benefits.

I certainly don't want to be forced into a program; that's un-American. And the lack of choice will make it harder to get away from anything that doesn't work.

And finally, how is the government's track record in handling money and programs? Has it ever really done a good job? Education, for example, is a mess too, and the government controls that. Government wastes money and is generally inefficient.

Whatever your beliefs, I think these issues are worth individual research rather than just grabbing onto a quote and dismissing and entire issue because of it.

Banking is also regulated by the government as well. Maybe not well, but let's not pretend there's a free market when there isn't.

Tom said...

John, beware the one-note samba.

Humans come in two flavors, ethical and not. We all are various mixtures of that frailty and others. We tend to care less about people we don't know.

The reason government got more involved in healthcare is that there were substantial systemic financial and care-delivery abuses. A writer-producer friend from St. Louis days is dead because of them. Her story was not unique.

I work in the healthcare insurance industry. My experience tells me that many companies work to game the system to maximize earnings on the backs - and lives - of the customers.

John Dishon said...

Plenty of people have died also because either Medicare or an insurance company wouldn't cover a certain prescription or procedure, and the cost was too high for the patient to pay it.

Now, doctors have to wrestle with insurance people rather than going directly to the patient, and doctors end up charging the maximum they can get rather than charging the minimum and be competitive like every other industry.

My point is that the government doesn't function very well in many cases, and I think a free market where companies have to compete with each other will not only keep costs down, but also keep quality up.

John McFetridge said...

There are some examples in the world of nationalized health care systems working well (though expensively, it's true, but presumably those people feel they - and their neighbours and fellow citizens - are worth it, like the hair dye ads say).

There are some examples in the world of public-private partnerships - many of these are new and we'll see, but so far they're pretty highly regulated.

Regulation is like the referees - no game is any good with bad refs, and no game works at all with no refs (I've played in enough men's leagues to know how that goes). Better referees tend to be more expensive.

It seems health care is something for which people should demand the best possible service, regardless of ideology. If it's run by the government standards should be high and if it's private companies the refs better be damned good.

I think most of us over 30 think everything was better 30 years ago. It was sure different - there were a lot fewer people for one thing.

By the way, I live in Canada and we have provincial health care systems (not a national plan as people often think) - so we have ten different systems. There are more and more public-private partnerships coming as this stuff gets worked out, but there are plenty of airports and highways so people who want to pay for health services can easily do that by going somewhere else - the USA, India, the Carribean - there are lots of clinics in the world that now specialize in foreign business.

When we have the argument about private health care in Canada, for someone like me it's pretty much irrelevant because I won't be able to afford it any more than I can now afford one of the foreign clinics so I'd like to make sure there is some workable public system.

When some of my friends complain about the crappy health care in Canada and how long they have to wait for an MRI, I say, well, why didn't you just go to Buffalo, you could've gotten it today, they always say, sure, for a thousand bucks.

One of my friends did fly to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery because the wait here was too long - or the service was better, they do it a lot more often in Thailand than they do here.

I know the theory is that in a competitive marketplace someone will offer a service I can afford in order to get my business, but private companies have no obligation at all to service the entire marketplace.

Personally I have no preferred ideology - I've seen good and bad from both government and private companies in lots of different fields. People are people. Maybe profit is the best motivator (though that's going to make it very tough to compete with China) maybe not - plenty of people do lots of good work in many areas for less money than they could make doing something else.

So, people argue the problem is too much government or not enough government or the wrong kind of government. Or too much private company or not enough or the wrong kind... It sure looks like in the foreseeable future it's going to be some kind of compromise.

And because of that, I think the toughest part of this is trying to get everybody thinking that we're all in it together.

Bride of Winter :) said...

Wonder if we could get their health care coverage to include medicinal marijuana hee hee

Smoke 'em if you got 'em!

Bride of Winter

Tom said...

Said John Dishon, " . . . doctors end up charging the maximum they can get rather than charging the minimum and be competitive like every other industry. "

Umm, no. That's not how it works. You may wish to slap your source of information upside the head.

The physician may have a standard price list for services. However, through contracts with the insurer, who decides what fees will be deemed 'usual and customary,' fees to the physician will in fact be drastically smaller.

My wife's surgeon was paid one fifth his billed fee under terms of his contract with our insurer. This included eight office visits as well as daily visits while my wife was in the hospital.

The complexities of medical billing and reporting today are, in fact, among the leading problems killing the system. That complexity exists no matter what part of the health care system you care to examine. And there is much more to the issue besides.

Think about the incredible cost of educating a physician. Think about the amazing costs to hospitals of treating the uninsured, and then hoping for some repayment.

A talking-points commentary will not cover all of the story. A single-issue solution is no solution.

It's the costs to manufacturers, who are required here in the US to provide insurance, which are driving profitable operations overseas to nations with universal coverage. If the damn furriners can figger out how to do it, surely 'Murrikan know-how can do it some better.

I don't say this to be snide, and I hope you'll believe me when I say so, but you're speaking as if ex cathedra, Your facts, however, are not in order. I suspect someone resentful has sold you a line of free-market hooey.

Deregulation hasn't worked for the industries where it's been tried. The airlines and electric utilities, and the financial industries . . . none have fared well once deregulated. The Invisible Hand has crushed them all. We don't want the rapacious bozos to get their fingers in our medical records.