Health care… why I don’t agree with what’s being done
about what needs to be done…


I’ve made some critical comments about the national health care reform efforts. Nothing personal… my primary criticisms have mostly been that I just don’t think any of it has been handled properly.

For the most part, I understand that politics is politics… a different beast that follows different rules.

Let’s start out with this opinion from me. Health care needs to be reformed.

In my mind, there’s no question about it. There are plenty of horror stories, and it seems like more people are experiencing more problems each year. That’s not just in getting coverage and treatment, but it also applies as what I’ve heard from doctors and nurses and other industry professionals that I know.

So understand… as clearly as I can say it… my problem is not with the idea of approaching the health care industry, asking questions, gathering information, doing the work, and then even potentially applying legislation to make things better.

As I said last summer, and continue to believe, one of my biggest problems was the speed this was pushed along at. It seemed at times like a breathtakingly quick pace, defined more by the personal interests that seemed to be involved than the ultimate goal of improving things for everyone. This thought includes political stature associated with winning and losing the fight… not the right and the wrong of the issue… and how it looks on a campaign flyer of a paid-for-by-the re-election commercial.

At times, it doesn’t even appear that they care about the facts.

For instance… the cost. Let’s strip this down to basics. 32 million people are going to get health care coverage they didn’t have before, but the government is going to save money? That’s the estimates?


How is that possible?

Did you hear about the give a day, get a day Disney volunteer program? The fundamental idea was that if you gave a day of work to an accepted charity, in turn you would get a one-day admission ticket to a Disney theme park. It was stated that giving back to the communities was the goal here.

And… maybe that was part of it.

But Disney is a business. And once they get you to those park gates…

Many people will tell you that theme parks don’t make vast revenues from you paying for admission. Sure… there’s profit there, especially at the rates they charge. But it’s the food and shirts and everything else you buy while visiting that really adds up.

You would think Disney had nothing to lose here. Give away tons of days. After all… they look great for the offer, and if people do use the tickets they get people on their property. Heck, people don’t just travel to Orlando for the day from New England. Maybe they even get us into their hotels on top of it… and, if you traveled there, you’d probably buy additional admission tickets on your own).

Yeah… well… Disney capped the offer at the first one million people to qualify and has already ended the program for additional requests. Took all of about 8 weeks to end what was basically a year-long promotion.

So even when there was money to be made, they capped the offer.

Back to health care.

This is 32 million… thirty-two million… 32,000,000… 32 million people getting health care coverage. 32 million people that aren’t traveling to Orlando and making winners of any company associated at getting you through the Disney gates. These are people with treatment costs attached to them. They’re not buying cheeseburgers and sweatshirts to remind them of their hospital visits.

Somehow though… our government tells us… we’re going to save a ton by adding roughly ten percent of the population to coverage.

Let’s pause here for a second. Basic math time.

If you have “x” dollars to spend on “y” care for “w” people, seldom do you get to spend “x” dollars for “y” care on “w + 32,000,000” people.

With me so far?

Ok. What that means is, if we are saying the number of people cannot be changed, we either have to increase the dollars spent or reduce the care given.


Interesting then that Massachusetts is talking about how universal health coverage may be destroying their state budget. A quote from the article: “‘It has been a fiscal train wreck,’ Cahill wrote in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Without federal assistance, ‘Massachusetts would be broke.’”

A simple, basic approach… without much digging or research… says that the money has to come from some place. It could be door number one… door number two… or door number three. The one thing that’s certain in my mind though is that the government… in claiming we’re going to save money doing this… simply hasn’t revealed which door involves us reaching for our wallets.

Now maybe the federal efforts are different than the Massachusetts ones that are losing money. Maybe the government ones will work. But don’t seriously tell me that you believe the budget estimates will be close to accurate.

You don’t… do you?

32 million people… and we save $138 billion dollars?

(Not a chance.)

Oh… wait… see… maybe on paper it will look like we saved $138 billion. But, ladies and gentlemen, that rabbit doesn’t just appear behind door number four in this game. It has to come from a wallet at some point. And that’s the kicker…

Because we the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are going to be asked to give more of what we don’t have.

Will it be higher co-pays for office visits?

Will it be reduced coverage percentages and more out of pocket expenses?

Will it be denied care for certain procedures or tests?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that 32 million people are not going to suddenly get health care and costs overall go down.

But that’s not the worst part of this whole mess.

(It’s not.)

Anyone recall the presidential election? See… to my memory… I had the television on one night and there was Senator Obama, during a debate, telling me that Senator McCain wanted to tax my health care benefits.

I saw that. I remember that.

He told me that if I had great health care from my employer, John McCain was going to tax it.

Umm… did I miss something? In one story, Consumer Reports points out how some plans, ones that meet certain conditions… will be taxed.

Someone is going to claim that Obama meant apples when debating and this current legislation is talking about oranges.

Apples… oranges… sure sounds like he’s doing what he accused the other guy of doing, while bending me over an exam table to perform a medical procedure.

On top of this… then we get the run around on Capitol Hill… with the Democrats losing a vote one way, so they push for passage of the bill another way.

There is plenty I don’t know about this health care plan. There may even be elements I like. And… heck… much of it may hit the wallets of others, earning significantly more than me, and not change my life all that much.

But I doubt it.

For every action, there is always a reaction. Simple physics. And seldom do people consider the reactions. Very little about the way this is being handled passes the sniff test to me. It’s not simply the Democrats… not just the Republicans… and it certainly isn’t a question of doing the right thing.

The current result just smells… bad.

Maybe this says it as well as anything: “(Congress… is) ‘stuck in an endless cycle of recrimination and revenge. The minority seeks to frustrate the majority, and when the majority is displaced it returns the favor. Power is constantly sought through the use of means which render its effective use, once acquired, impossible.’”

That quote is from this column, and is attributed to Evan Bayh.

I say it again… welcome to the new Washington, same as the old Washington.

I find myself agreeing with Ezra Kelin, so wonderfully summed up with this passage: “What we have learned instead is that even in those rare moments when bold action should be easy, little can be done. Consider the position of the Democrats over the last year: a popular new president, the largest majority either party has held in the Senate since the post-Watergate wave, a 40-seat majority in the House, and a financial crisis. Congress has managed to pass a lot of legislation, and some of it has been historic. But our financial system is not fixed and our health-care problems are not solved. Indeed, when it comes to the toughest decisions Congress must make, our representatives have passed them off to some other body or some future generation.”

This isn’t about individuals or political parties or my opinions about issues. It’s about ineffective leadership that seems more concerned about doing something than whether or not it should be done… the hell with the consequences of doing it.

It’s about hiding the costs by moving where the charges hit, and using slight of hand to prevent votes from being taken. It’s about name-calling and finger-pointing and chest-thumping.

Don’t kid yourself for a second… because one thing this isn’t about is health care.

Not really.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at