News & Views from 465 California Street

Obama’s Health Crisis

Clint Reilly
Aug
18
2009

Why are so many health insurance companies and Republican power brokers trying to kill health care reform on its way to the operating table?
They’re hoping history will repeat itself.

When Bill and Hillary Clinton tackled health care reform in 1993, Republicans and their insurance industry allies demonized the effort and rode the negative public sentiment to unprecedented electoral gains in the next election.

I experienced the electoral tsunami first-hand while managing Kathleen Brown’s ill fated 1994 campaign for California governor. She, along with every other Democratic gubernatorial challenger, went down in defeat.

The Republicans racked up 54 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of the chamber for the first time in four decades. They also claimed the Senate, taking eight Democratic seats. Out of 177 incumbent Republican governors, senators or members of Congress, none lost. To top it off, the GOP also took control of 15 state legislative chambers.

The seeds of the Democrats’ 1994 defeat were planted during the health care battle of 1993, when a huge TV campaign financed by the Health Insurance Association of America frightened middle-class policyholders into believing that President Clinton’s reform proposals would raise taxes, increase bureaucracy and reduce patient choice.

Sound familiar?

At the time, I knew the political consultants Ben Goddard and Rick Claussen who created the now infamous “Harry and Louise” ads that helped derail the reform effort. I doubt that Goddard or Claussen realized the impact that their devastating commercials would have on the 1994 election a year later.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2009. After 16 years, our health care system is in far worse shape. There are now 47 million uninsured Americans. The United States is the only major industrialized nation that does not have universal health care. The cost of care has cascaded out of control. Fifteen percent of the country’s GDP is spent on health care while large countries with universal care spend only eight to 11 percent.

The number one agenda item for President Obama and the Democratic Congress is health care reform. Is it any surprise that the same forces who destroyed it in 1993 are hoping for a repeat victory?

This time they have focused on organizing crowds to attend town halls and publicly attack “socialized medicine” – trying to silence the voices of the millions without health care or the tens of millions who have insurance at the expense of their kids’ college educations or other necessities.

The tired “socialized medicine” attack is the red herring that insurers trot out at every available opportunity. No matter that Medicare is a highly effective government program that already insures citizens over 65. Or that all other industrialized nations spend an average of between $2,350 and $3,700 per year, per citizen and the United States spends $6,400. The World Health Organization ranks France – a country with universal coverage – as the country with the best health care. The United States is ranked an appalling 37th.

The best argument for government provided care being made available to Americans under age 65 – both as an affordable alternative for uninsured and hard pressed consumers and a check against out of control rates and denials by insurers – is the dysfunctional system now exclusively managed by the health insurance industry itself.

Defeating health care reform would be a twofer. Heath insurers could maintain their profitable stranglehold over America’s ineffective and inefficient employer financed system, and the Republican Party can halt the momentum of recent Democratic routs and turn the country against the popular Democratic President Barack Obama.

The plan is to capitalize on the defeat of health care in the 2010 mid-term congressional elections and maybe to make a real run at beating Obama in 2012.

It is precisely because an unholy alliance between Republican leaders and health insurers may accomplish these objectives that not only must health care reform pass, but the campaign against it must be discredited and destroyed.

Comments (30)

  • I have been upset and angry over the Health Care issue, I agree with you about the intentions of the Republicans and I want our President to stand up to them.
    I am mailing your article to him, whether he will ever see it or not. I do not have money to send, what other means can we help? I am 80yrs old and I am really pissed!!!!

    Posted by: Rena d. Jacques | August 18th, 2009 at 10:09 am

  • Add your voice in support of the Public Option through the following links:

    http://www.healthreform.gov/
    http://www.democracyforamerica.com/
    http://www.change.org/
    http://act.credoaction.com/
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/

    Posted by: melinda maginn | August 18th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

  • I dont believe it is a Republican/Democrat issue; but rather an
    American issue. It disturbs me Congress exempts themselves from a 1K
    page plan loaded with pork. It bothers me you say 47M Americans have
    no insurance coverage, implying no medical coverage. It bothers me you
    use the word Americans where near half are in this great country
    illegally. It bothers me when you say town meetings are being
    disrupted by organized Republicans, how about American citizens
    wanting simple straight answers. I agree our medical system needs
    tuning, but replacing it is not the answer.

    Posted by: D. Black | August 18th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

  • Anyone who wants to pass health care reform has to address two issues:

    1. How to finance it. Many of us who already enjoy health care pay
    high taxes in addition to our high premiums and we just don’t want to pay any more.

    2. How to handle the millions more of illegals who will cross our
    borders to get in on the gravy train. Until we get a handle on immigration, our system can not afford to take on this kind of problem.

    In addition, President Obama is creating another problem for us. He was
    the man who was going to use bipartisanship to pull this country together and so far I have seen ZERO effort to use the talents and convictions of even those in his own party let alone the opposition to solve our problems.

    RC

    Posted by: RC | August 18th, 2009 at 4:05 pm

  • Read your article today in the SJ Mercury. Thoughtful and so I wanted to ask you a question/make a comment for your feedback. I agree that most people believe Medicare works well and use it as the model for why single payer can work. However, what nobody discusses is the fact that MANY doctors do not accept Medicare thus limiting choices. If many more people were on a single payer plan like Medicare I believe it would result in rationing (not to mention less choice in providers) unless you propose that the government force doctors to accept the single payer payments as payment in full or lose heir right to practice medicine (which does not seem like something you would support).

    So, how do you reconcile this?

    Posted by: Mitch | August 18th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

  • I have sent you an article that lists what is in the House healthcare bill. IT IS TRULY FRIGHTENING! • Page 253: Government sets value of doctors’ time, their professional judgment, etc. So now the government will make medical decisions for us and determine what the doctor’s time is worth?

    Ex• Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer – they say in order to allow automated reconciliation with the related health care payment and remittance. Do you really want the government having direct ACCESS to your checking out for premium withdrawls?

    I could go on and on but read the list of whats really in the Obama Care Bill and it will make your hair stand on end. This is why the public opposes this bill. They don’t want anymore government control over their lives than they already have.

    Posted by: Renea T. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

  • Whenever I read something you’ve written, I always feel like you have
    done your homework, assessed the situation from every angle, and come
    to some natural and sane and uncomplicated conclusions. Your editorial
    on the current state of the health care debate is, so-to-speak, right
    on the money. I appreciate your putting the political angle out there
    so clearly. Like you, it appalls me when I hear of places like France
    or Sweden or England where everyone is covered by health care without
    question, period, and we are left wallowing under the yoke of
    insurance companies that are simply in the health care business to
    make a profit, general “health” be damned.

    So, thanks for your continued efforts to keep the rest of us informed
    and for continuing to forge ahead with the social justice issues you
    began so many years ago with the Little Kerner Report.

    Posted by: P.F.P | August 18th, 2009 at 4:11 pm

  • Please read this on what happened in Tennessee and what is happening in Massachusetts.

    Posted by: Erich K. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:14 pm

  • That was a commendable piece on Obama’s health crisis. We go to France
    a lot and I usually buy my mother’s dementia drugs there for 70% – 50%
    less. I spend $75. for 10 Ambien (sleep medication) here. In France, we
    get it for 3 Euros ($4.50) for 10. That’s more than 16 times the cost
    in the USA.

    Personally, I think someone should do a report on how the higher French
    taxes come out compared to ours if we were to factor in our outrageous
    health premiums as “taxes.” I don’t think the insurance/ pharmaceutical
    industry would like that one!

    Chuck B

    Posted by: Chuck B. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:14 pm

  • I think Clint Reilly got it just right when he said in his “Public Service Message” (page A4 of today’s Argus) “Is it any surprise that the same forces who destroyed health care reform in 1993 are hoping for a repeat victory?”

    Thanks to Mr. Reilly for taking a scalpel to this issue and separating the facts from the fiction. What is going on in the media and at town hall meetings makes a mockery of health care reform. These dog and pony antics, funded by major health care lobbying firms, are really about the Republican Party trying to regain power after losing the White House and the Congress last November. Never mind that Americans spend more for health care than in any other country on the planet, and yet, U.S. health care is ranked 37th among industrialized nations in the world by the World Health Organization. We still have 47 million citizens without health coverage and the drain on our present system cannot be sustained. Other countries, less well off than our own, manage to deliver health care to all of their citizens in a fair and timely fashion. We could do that too if all interested parties wanted such an outcome.

    One has to ask oneself, why do Republicans and their administrations refuse to fix this problem? Who benefits most from the status quo? One need look no further than the mega health care industry in America. These corporations pour money and political poison into this debate every day. Reform is not a dirty word. This is what our government should be doing on our behalf – reforming a system to make it more comprehensive, more affordable and more equitable for every citizen. I am glad that the Democrats and the Obama administration have not been afraid to take on this important issue. I only wish that the Republican Party would have the same moral courage and political will to do the same. I urge every person to read Mr. Reilly’s article and make your voice be heard.

    Maureen H

    Posted by: Maureen H. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  • You are describing democracy at work. Even if all you write is true, don’t you think the following would be a better way to pass the President’s health care plan: the President should say…”The plan will cover only the uninsured. Everyone else will be left alone. In addition, I and every member of Congress will give up our present private plan and be covered by the government plan.” That is leadership.
    Hank R

    Posted by: Hank R. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

  • Thank you for supplying a few giggles each day in the CCT.
    Today was especially rich….The great unifier can’t unify. What up wit dat? So many boogieman out there spoiling his legacy. Just can’t understand why he just doen’t …. ‘unify’.
    Oh, maybe that is because he is sooo busy creating and saving all those
    jobs……you know, with all that ‘shovel-ready’ stimulus.

    Posted by: Tommy | August 18th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

  • You had a lot to say about Obama’s health care reform, but I see no mention whatsoever about the fact that Congress and the Washington powers-that-be have their own beneficial health benefits program. Why don’t Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of that mob have the same one we taxpayers do? And, they do not participate in Social Security or Medicare with funding toward it and moreover have their very own ‘Social Security’ plan. I would like to see your comments regarding those facts in one of your columns.

    Posted by: Elisabeth P. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  • Your article refers to the high per person cost of our health care costs
    compared to other industrialized nations and our world ranking in results.

    First: The other industrialized nations have a far more homogeneous white population than we have and have a much smaller population. Could there be a culture and ethnic component to outcome?

    Second: Our K-12 per pupil spending is much more than the many countries that rank ahead of us in international testing. How is this explained?

    Third: Collage costs have increased at a faster rate than our medical
    costs. Why don’t we have a public and political rage about it? Why isn’t
    there a study of the cost per pupil of this problem and proposed solutions?

    Posted by: Dick | August 18th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

  • Hello Clint,

    I “was” like you and for government health care for all. I am a democrat and helped my Congressional District 11 Representative, Jerry McNerney get elected.

    Jerry McNerney is a member of the Congressional VA Committee. He lives in
    Pleasanton, as I do.

    I am a Vietnam Era Veteran and go to the VA (Livermore and Palo Alto -
    Livermore is under Palo Alto) for my health care. Palo Alto (VAPAHCS) is
    under VISN-21 in Martinez.

    I have changed my mind by my experience with the Federal Government and Congress run VA Health Care System and Jerry McNerney’s ignorance of VA matters and his and his staff’s unwillingness to assist veterans like me concerning our issues with VA.

    I have found the VA system to be corrupt, inept, blatantly breaking federal
    laws with impunity and the blessing of VA executives, stealing Veterans
    money by illegally using the Treasury Offset Program, and causing more
    health harm to Veterans than improving their health – Blinding seven (7)
    Veterans at VAPAHCS. Each facility is like a Fiefdom run by a king or queen
    who chops off heads if they disagree and promotes the yes men and women and somehow keeps the VA Office of Inspector General out of their Fiefdom.

    Some of the problems with VA recently have been,:

    1. VA Palo Alto (VAPAHCS) failing to follow policy, giving improper
    care, and costing seven (7) patients their vision – i.e., VAPAHCS caused
    their blindness.
    2. Dysfunctional Mental Health System hearing by the Ninth District
    Court in San Francisco where Judge Stephen Reinhardt said that when the
    government doesn’t follow the law, “it’s not novel for a court to tell an
    agency to comply.”
    3. The contract dispute between VA in California and Anthem Blue Cross that affects all California Veterans having Anthem Blue Cross and having their claims denied, thereby having the VA take the Veteran’s money instead of getting it from the third party provider, Anthem Blue Cross.
    4. By law, VA must file third party claims for Veterans, however, often
    they do not file the claims and they charge the Veteran.
    5. VA has been backlogged in filing of claims on Veteran’s behalf to
    third party insurers and has outsourced filing of claims. Even so, often
    claims are filed outside of the contractual time period and are denied.
    These claims are either charged to the Veteran or are written off, thereby,
    paid by the taxpayer instead of the third party insurer.

    It is the function and responsibility of the VA OIG to investigate
    allegations of criminal activity by VA officials. When they fail to do this,
    they become useless and should be disbanded and not funded by Jerry McNerney and his VA Committee.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg concerning how the Federal Government
    and Congress and my Congressman run the VA.

    If the Federal Government and Congress and my Congressman are unable to fix the systemic, insidious, illegal and criminal practices of the VA, the
    stealing of Veterans money, the blinding of seven (7) Veterans by VAPAHCS, and the dysfunctional VA mental health system the how can they have a functional national health care system?

    You are welcome to visit my home and look at the over 2 feet of documents, covering five years, I have to prove my point. I do not suggest you ask VAPAHCS Director Freeman or her boss, VISN-21 Director Cullen about these issues, as they are excellent at covering up for the alleged crimes they and their staff commit. You can see for yourself how good they are at covering up if you review my over 2 feet of documents.

    I could go on an on, but I think you get the picture.

    Please do a service to the Veterans who put their life on the line for the
    USA and write a column about this.

    Sincerely,

    M. Grossman

    Posted by: M. Grossman | August 18th, 2009 at 4:23 pm

  • Thanks for your opinion piece today in the Marin IJ. You raised many
    excellent points (which I agree with). Bottom line: health care reform must
    pass.

    Hopefully, there is enough common sense among Americans and politicians to see through the dishonesty and fear being put forth by the unholy alliance of conservatives and insurers and anti-Obama forces.

    Ben

    Posted by: Ben | August 18th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

  • I read your columns avidly and appreciate your insider’s perspective on our national politics. I agree totally with your column in today’s Mercury News (San Jose) and that is precisely what I find so dismaying. How could the democratic leadership have been so utterly blindsided by the viciousness and utter dishonestly of the Republican and Insurance industry counterattack on Obama’s health plan intentions? Democrats have had 30 years of experience with this behavior: you indicate you knew some of the architects of previous republican attacks of health plan overhauls, which means certainly other democratic planners and party officials knew of the planning and capability and definite intention to sabotage, demonize and disrupt in any way possible, health overhaul proposals. The Obama’s
    election campaign did a wonderful job of anticipating and neutralizing these kind of attacks during the presidential campaign, and yet every element of the democratic party seems stunned, immobilized, shocked, surprised, and completely and utterly caught off guard by the republican tactics now. Where are all the professional party regulars like yourself who should absolutely have anticipated this attack and been ready to respond immediately, and not let the whole thing be hijacked by the (completely predictable) tactics of the republicans? Any explanation for this disaster that seems to be unfolding? Thank you. Allan
    B

    Posted by: Allan B. | August 18th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

  • You called current health care “dysfunctional” and also an “inefficient
    employer-financed system”. How so? I have had both with 0 problems.
    When on my wife’s plan we had GREAT coverage and it was extremely
    affordable. This was a PPO plan. Now that she is out of work and I am
    an independent contractor we pay $260 per month to Blue Shield of
    California. Last July we had a baby girl, no problems, it was
    affordable, we were able to choose our OBGYN, etc…..What the fuck are
    you talking about? If you cannot afford $260 you are a fucking deadbeat
    and I don’t want to pay more taxes for your universal healthcare
    bullshit. Enough is enough. Has government not proved to you yet that
    they will fuck it all up? They cannot balance a state budget whose
    taxes are the highest in the land yet you want to give them more money
    to run healthcare? Seriously? Most people who live in Canada and can
    afford the best always come to the US for their healthcare.

    Have you ever been to France? Maybe they spend less GDP on healthcare
    because they are not a bunch of obese lard asses like 75% of our
    country. They eat smaller healthier portions throughout the day and
    enjoy a Mediterranean diet with red wines at night. They don’t eat
    Krispy Kreams and McDonalds all day and sit on their asses like us.
    They travel, enjoy the outdoors, and generally live a less stressful
    life. We would be better off taking the money you will eventually steal
    from us to fund this healthcare BS and spend it on nutritional and
    physical education. We also need to take away the TV and video games
    from our children. Wake up. Health Care is a privilege not a right.

    Posted by: Tyler | August 18th, 2009 at 4:26 pm

  • The link to article below will likely fuel some of the commenters above who express rage over Obama’s proposal.

    Racism? The topic too hot to address in this debate?

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/8/17/768048/-Racism,-Right-Wing-Rage-and-the-Politics-of-White-Nostalgia

    Posted by: melinda maginn | August 18th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

  • The current U.S. Healthcare system for the most serious illnesses are IMHO, the best or one of the best in the world. The problem is, as Mr. Reilly pointed out, that 47 million Americans are uninsured. However, not all of those 47 million Americans are not covered. Somehow, some way, any American (or illegal non-American citizen) can get access to care. Someone has to pay for it. We, Joe B. Taxpayer, foots that bill. So, when the Repubs cry about Socialism, it’s more smoke politics than it is reality. ALL HEALTHCARE SYSTEMS are Socialist.

    The beauty of the American Healthcare system is that you can sell off a house, a car, or drain a savings account if you happen to God forbid, be stricken with the Big C (Cancer) or any other serious, life-threatening and/or life-taking illness. Let there be choices. I am for a mixed form of Healthcare that optimizes the greatest care to as many people that need it. Of course, without bankrupting the system and fostering a culture of entitlement.

    What do we as Americans need to do to hold up our end of the bargain?

    1) Obesity. We need to stop overeating and start eating right. As Tyler noted, the French lifestyle and eating habits contribute to less of these “death blow” illnesses which are costly and a drain on healthcare resources.

    2) Stress. We all need to try and chill out more often (with a glass of wine or a smoothie) and be less argumentative and combative. You see this in our work life, our home life, and in other areas of our societal life. We need a cultural renaissance to get us all back to the basics of what’s important. I think it’s happening with the Dems back in power.

    3) Medical malpractice frivolous lawsuits. Let’s limit or eliminate these schemes to manipulate the system and make money off of it. Let’s also limit middleman profiteering from selling health insurance. It just doesn’t belong in medicine.

    4) Exercise and education. America has become a TV, computer, video game, and fast food culture. Living a sedentary lifestyle nourished by a packaged food diet is very unhealthy. Americans do that more than any other country, so much so we do that for 3+ hours at ball games. Hot dogs, nachos, where’s the beef? Let’s exercise more. Laugh more. It will lower the healthcare cost coefficient per capita that is double (or more) than that of comparable countries.

    5) Get Toxics out of our neighborhoods and out of our homes. Simple as that. No doubt this will help many Americans avoid the “death blow” illnesses that are so costly and put a huge strain and drain on healthcare resources. There is no reason why we need all these chemicals in our food, our water, and our air.

    But i digress. The Republicans orchestrate all these schemes to curry public outrage and disapproval of Prez Obama’s and the Dems’ plans calling it a move toward Socialism or “rationed healthcare”. We all know Democratic free market and enterprise is a more effective and proven system, no one is debating that. But we also all know that we Socialize our roads, bridges, and even retirement (“social”) security system for the common health and welfare, and IMHO, Healthcare is one of those we need to tweak (even if it means a move toward “Socialized medicine”) to cover as many who need it…that we can afford to cover of course. Everyone should pay in something. There should be no free lunch. But we shouldn’t as a society walk away from those in need either.

    After all, a nation is as strong as her people. A nation is also as healthy as her people.

    BTW, California is the only State that can pull off what France does with respect to HealthCare.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/accounting/3600255-1.html

    The rest of the Nation can only realistically afford and most effectively be served by a Canadian model.

    http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm

    Insightful article. I didn’t know the Repubs can be that crafty and cunning.

    I don’t think anyone hates Republicans (they’re people too) or their silly antics, as hate is such as harsh word. I do think many of their unfettered policies are foolish and suck.

    The California model, as dysfunctional as it is, works pretty good. Can it be better?

    Posted by: Don Nguyen | August 18th, 2009 at 8:58 pm

  • While I agree with some of your points my biggest concern involves the
    following:

    When is the alleged proposal going to be published so we can read it
    ourselves?

    All I’ve seen are words and accusations of what the proposal will or won’t
    do. Why hasn’t the Obama administration published the plan? If they have where is it?

    I no longer want to hear any more of the government run health plan until I
    see something in writing, the pros and cons, hearing the debates and getting input from our local physicians. Is there anything wrong with this request?

    Thank you,

    Brent

    Posted by: brent | August 20th, 2009 at 7:47 am

  • Thank you for today’s column on health care. I am very
    disturbed by the way the “reform” effort is going and wonder why no
    one has calculated and publicized the amount of money that goes to
    insurance companies, hospitals, drug companies, advertising,
    investor’s profits, etc. instead of to actual health care. The
    widespread failure to understand where the health care dollar goes
    makes it possible for the profite(e)rs to manipulate the emotions of
    the protestors. It should not be too difficult to work out these
    numbers and would surely reveal why “health care” costs are so high. I
    would also hope it would be possible to show people who get insurance
    through their employer, how much money goes for insurance rather than
    for salary and how that cost is passed on to consumers as higher
    prices for goods and services.

    I hope that you can either explore these matters or will direct them
    to a viable resource.

    Many thanks for the truths you tell.

    Ilene

    Posted by: Ilene | August 20th, 2009 at 7:49 am

  • The Clinton health care proposal didn’t pass in 1994 because the public, liberals and conservatives alike, had serious doubts about the government
    being able to devise a system that provided better care to more people at a lower price. Some will continually decry the “Harry and Louise” ads, the
    Republicans and the big bad insurance industry but those ads had very little impact – I never even saw one. That is about like saying that the reason that Bush I defeated Dukakis in 1988 was due to the Willie Horton ads. (I never saw one of those ads either). Nothing is that simple.

    What is simple is this: When Medicare was introduced in 1965 its projected cost by 1990 was supposed to be $7 billion. In 1990 it was over $90 billion.

    Anyone, on either side of the aisle, could point to just about any government program and see that it always costs more than projected, whether it’s fixing a bridge or the Iraq war of 2003. By the way, were you concerned about organized protests by Code Pink or MoveOn.org then like you are now with alleged “Astroturf” group?

    I used to live in Sweden and Germany. My sister has lived in France the last 25 years. I spent two weeks in the U.K. in June. I’ve lived in and know people in those systems. They don’t refer to their system as “free” like many here do. Just two months ago I heard many discussions on the BBC about cutting their costs and how they are going to continue to fund their systems. The grass always looks greener…

    Do we need reform? Yes, but please don’t condescend to us that dare question another expansion of government programs. We should have a long, serious debate about every aspect of this before we move forward. By the way, I’m self-employed, pay high taxes, pay for both of my employee’s health insurance and I voted for Obama.

    Dennis H

    Posted by: Dennis H. | August 20th, 2009 at 7:51 am

  • Your write up is pretty much preaching to the choir. I’m a registered independent (swing) voter, who is fiscally conservative, but otherwise rather libertarian in outlook. I very much resent your characterizing any opposition to the current legislation working its way through Congress as somehow orchestrated by the health
    insurance industry or the Republican Party. Any thinking person would be concerned about the trillions of dollars in new spending being considered.

    There are a myriad of reasons the cost of health care is going up; chief among them the obvious fact that new “procedures”, cures and medicines are being developed each year. If something is available and it will help treat a disease or ameliorate a chronic medical condition, people will want it.

    While there are obvious inefficiencies in the medical delivery system and insurance companies are in business to make money, it’s simplistic to argue that a change to a single payer system will somehow solve all the current problems with the uninsured and rising costs. Vilifying the insurance companies as Nancy Pelosi has recently
    done borders on the demagogic.

    In your next CC Times piece, I like you to answer some of the following questions:

    (1) Should health care be considered a basic human right? If so, does that imply that anyone who is in the country legally or otherwise should be covered? Does it also imply tax payer funding is mandatory?
    (2) Why is there no “tort reform” in the proposed legislation?
    (3) If the intent of the legislation is to cover the people who currently have no coverage, wouldn’t a more focused plan accomplish that limited goal? Why not streamline the legislation to to cover only catastrophic situations and tie that into a Medicare type plan with a low enough premium that all could pay?

    Regards,

    Harold M

    Posted by: Harold M. | August 20th, 2009 at 7:53 am

  • Thank You for your voice of reason. I have read your editorials and have always learned and been inspired by your dedication to integrity in journalism. Your thoughts and concerns touch our daily lives. I’m so tired of the Media Spin. I have lost faith in fair and unbiased reporting. It unfortunately only feeds into the
    Nation divide in ever increasing mistrust.

    Your Recent article on “Obama’s Health Crisis”. gave me a glimpse of hope again in honest reporting. To learn and remember, the 1993 efforts of reform was enlightening. How can facts and history such as these be ignored, disputed. I know we all have our colored opinions, but facts should stand alone. Why don’t they? Why
    does human nature lend to dispute?

    Thank you again for your constant appeal to the Good, and the desire to put the news in perspective to call on us all to dialect in reason. You have inspired me to hope again.

    Sincerely Valerie D. RN

    Posted by: Valerie D. | August 20th, 2009 at 7:54 am

  • An article of yours appeared in the Contra Costa Times newspaper on 8/18/09 entitled Obama’s Health Crisis. This was an excellent article explaining the health care crisis. It was so good I had to read twice. I agree with you 100%. Keep up the good work. Maureen D

    Posted by: Maureen D. | August 20th, 2009 at 7:55 am

  • I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the article entitled “Obama’s Health Crisis,” which appeared yesterday in the August 18, 2009, edition of the Marin Independent Journal. It seems like the health insurance
    companies have no difficulty cajolling the “me-people” into believing that they stand to lose if there is universal health care. Whereas, we all lose if we don’t have it.

    I’ve just returned from a 2-week trip to the Netherlands, Great Britain, Austria and Switzerland. The citizens of each of those countries have universal health care. They also do not have people sleeping in doorways.
    Yet in Los Angeles County alone, there are an estimated 90,000 homeless people.

    The “me-ism” philosophy that has ruled the USA has rendered it a Third World Country.

    Will enough people ever wake up and see that?

    It would be very good if your article could reach a wider audience.

    Sincerely yours,

    Cynthia H

    Posted by: Cynthia H. | August 20th, 2009 at 7:56 am

  • A few points of clarification on the Obama Healthcare proposal:

    1. There is no plan to cover illegal immigrants.
    2. The Trillion dollar price tag being bandied about is over 10 years. 2/3 of that cost is already accounted for leaving 1/3. The expectation is that wellness and prevention will reduce that actual cost. However if not than those earning over $250 k will be taxed higher. Let’s do remember that we are spending BILLIONS PER MONTH on current war efforts. Reordering of priorities is long overdue.
    3. In doing nothing even those who are very satisfied with their current health plans will suffer. Health care costs are rising and the burden of the uninsured will only increase your costs for health care. We don’t have the luxury of time to do nothing. The rate of inflation of health care costs is much higher than any other segment.
    4. The public option is just that an OPTION. It will help ensure competition within the health care industry. There is no Government Take Over in this proposal. If you are satisfied with your current plan, grand, keep it.
    5. Finally for those who say health care is not a right it is a privilege. I happen to philosophically and morally disagree. However, even if you feel this way it will ultimately affect your pocket book. The strain the uninsured place on our ERs is huge and we all ultimately pay for that.

    Posted by: melinda maginn | August 20th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

  • Mr. Reilly, Rather than discuss this socialist plan for American health care
    and granting absolutely that the current program needs a lot of work (lets
    start with weeding out the corruption and the lawyers) I think the vast
    majority of Americans would like to discuss the health care and retirement
    packages that our beloved congress has bestowed upon themselves. If, in
    fact,
    this Obama plan is so wonderful and grand lets see him and congress step up
    and transfer their coverage to this plan and while they are doing that,
    change their retirement plans to Social Security, cut their pay by 30-40%,
    cut the time they are in session down to six months (they actually work
    less
    than that now) and eliminate the vast array of other perks they have voted
    for themselves
    over the years.
    The democrats and the republicans have created an elitist congressional
    club that has alienated
    them from the average American they are supposed to serve. Their programs
    exists for the benefit of their special interest sponsors and the benefits
    they in turn derive from those special interests (Murtha and Frank, Pelosi
    and Byrd come immediately to mind.) Those interests quite frequently are
    directly opposed to the best interests of the tax paying citizens. No where
    in the Constitution is it stated that government owes any person health
    care. Being part of the Washington establishment and associated with the
    politicians you claim, no one could or should be surprised at your leftists
    sentiments. You and your ilk will not be satisfied until we have a Marxist
    country with everything (not just health care) completely controlled by
    government.
    H.K. F

    Posted by: H.K. F | August 24th, 2009 at 9:44 am

  • You’ve got to be kidding Clint. You actually used Social Security and Medicare as examples of government efficiency? I mean beside the fact that the unfunded obligations that have been incurred cannot possibly be paid the fact that Medicare has been rife with fraud for decades is common knowledge. Of course THIS TIME the government is going to fix it right? Totally LOL.

    And those “stimulus” packages that have “re-started” the economy. I guess your one of those who regards the last report of “only” 250K jobs lost as good news huh?

    I could go on and on but I’ve got a business to run. But don’t worry Clint that “massive government intervention” that you think we need so badly is coming at us like a freight train and it scares the hell out of me.

    Posted by: Regan Best | August 25th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

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