Notes on Last Night’s Presidential Address to Congress

Without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month. Credit was frozen. And our financial system was on the verge of collapse.

Holy smokes, the president actually started off this 45-minute odyssey into the farcical with a real fact. Yes, indeed, we were losing jobs at the rate of about 700,000 per month. And yes, some indicators show that joblessness is starting to even out a bit.

The problem? The mandatory nature of health coverage as detailed in the president’s plan would rip apart small business in particular, and could chase away millions in entry-level and other low-income positions, thus increasing the overall number of jobless in America.

As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them; until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. That is our ultimate goal. But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.

Pulled the economy back from the brink? Pulled the economy back from the brink?!?

I knew that, at some point, he would argue that the economy is better than it already is. Health care represents one-sixth of the American economy, and the president and his party simply cannot pass something as monumental as health care reform unless the American public have some confidence in the economy as a whole. Still, I didn’t expect his language to be so overt.

I read civil lawsuits for a living. Occasionally, I’ll see a class action securities complaint filed on behalf of all purchasers of stock in XYZ Corporation within a certain time period, arguing that fraudulent misrepresentations made by the corporate officers regarding the true financial condition of the company induced class members into investing where they otherwise would not have, had they known the unstable nature of XYZ Corp.

The way I look at it, the lies and misrepresentations being spewed by the White House and disseminated by an obedient mainstream press is no different — the American people are being fed false information with regard to the true financial condition of the United States of America, and are being induced into investing the future of the nation itself into the far-left agenda of this president, an investment they might not otherwise make if they knew the unstable nature of our economy.

I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.

I can’t say anything one way or another about John Dingell’s father, but I have no doubt that the primary bill currently working its way through the House has been sitting alongside the cap-and-trade nightmare in Henry Waxman’s desk drawer for decades now, just waiting for a chance to make an entrance and destroy the free market economy this nation was built upon.

And there are reasons that it has never passed. First, the American people don’t want it — they never have, and when it comes to giving up freedoms as such plans require, they never will. Second, fiscally such proposals are unsustainable. Even the president’s own goofy budget guru, Peter Orszag, admits that the president’s own cost-cutting measures would be ineffective.

Furthermore, the comment that Obama is “determined to be the last” president to take up the cause of health care reform is merely irresponsible rhetorical garbage. If the Democrats pass the proposals they’re weighing now, every president is going to be required to deal with the downhill consequences.

Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or expensive to cover.

Fine. So there are about 15 million people truly uninsured in this country. I’ve been there myself, and I don’t like it either. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Let’s not destroy everything that is the envy of the world with regard to our current system in order to cover 15 million more people.

Heck, the Congressional Budget Office pointed out a few weeks ago that, even after 10 years, 17 million people would still be without health insurance.

There are free market-friendly options. We can make health insurance more affordable by opening up interstate competition, by enacting some modicum of tort reform, and for those who still cannot afford even the most basic catastrophic care coverage, providing government assistance in some form resembling food stamps would be a viable–albeit undesireable–option. Better yet would be the establishment of charities that could work together with private insurers to provide for the few million uninsured Americans. Combine that with tax measures offering greater incentive for charitable donations, and everybody wins.

We are the only advanced democracy on Earth–the only wealthy nation–that allows such hardships for millions of its people. There are now more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage.

Wrong. A good portion of that number are here illegally. Another portion can afford it but choose not to. And yet another portion are young people who simply prefer to spend their money on beer. I know I used to.

But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too.

That’s absolutely right. And that’s something that does in fact need reform.

I think it’s important for fence-sitters to realize that those of us on the right aren’t simply looking to say “no.” It’s about the Doctrine of Constructive Obstructionism. We say “no,” but we offer alternatives. One of those alternatives would be the removal of the link between employment and health coverage. Another, as I mentioned before would be opening up the insurance industry to interstate competition would also provide for more portability. These two simple measures would take care of rising costs and portability issues without saddling our children’s children with inhibited freedoms and burdensome costs.

One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it. Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne. By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer more than doubled in size. That is heart-breaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America.

And that’s awful, it really is. But I’ll see the president’s attempt at tugging at heartstrings and raise him the story of the British woman who begged a pediatrician to treat her premature baby, and was instead forced to watch her baby boy die without care because at 21 weeks and five days, he fell two days short of a government-imposed threshold for treatment of premature babies.

We can swap health care horror stories all day, Mr. President, but at the end of the day, people still come to America from all across the world to be treated in our hospitals, by our doctors, with technology created by our free market system. You lose.

Then there’s the problem of rising costs. We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it.

So, if there’s no direct correlation between money spent and results gleaned, why in the world should we spend another two trillion dollars?

This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages. It’s why so many employers – especially small businesses – are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely. It’s why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally – like our automakers – are at a huge disadvantage. And it’s why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it – about $1000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care.

I’m sorry, but such cost-shifting only accounts for a paltry 1.7 percent increase in private insurance premiums. For more, see a great piece entitled The Health Care Cost Shifting Myth by Austin Frakt over at The Health Care Blog.

Furthermore, I read elsewhere that such so-called “uncompensated care” only accounted for less than 2.5 percent of total health care spending in 2008. [It's 3:30am, I just finished studying Federal Income Taxation stuff for class tomorrow, and the source escapes me -- my apologies.]

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close.

So, the plan is to solve the problem created by an overreaching and incapable federal government by expanding the reach of that incapable federal government? I’m no genius, but that doesn’t make any sense at all.

These are the facts. Nobody disputes them. We know we must reform this system. The question is how.

There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada’s, where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everyone.

On the right, there are those who argue that we should end the employer-based system and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.

That’s right, and it would result in reduced costs, more private sector competition, and increased portability. All solutions to the limited problems with an otherwise excellent, world-beating health care system.

I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch. And that is precisely what those of you in Congress have tried to do over the past several months.

Let’s see — Medicare is going bankrupt quicker than Bill Clinton in a cigar shop, the VA system is well short of where it should be in terms of quality, and employment-based health coverage brings forth portability issues and other problems. It seems like “what works” doesn’t really work at all. Perhaps what we need is a “radical shift.” And they accuse us right-wing extremists of simply being obstructionist.

We have seen many in this chamber work tirelessly for the better part of this year to offer thoughtful ideas about how to achieve reform. Of the five committees asked to develop bills, four have completed their work, and the Senate Finance Committee announced today that it will move forward next week. That has never happened before. Our overall efforts have been supported by an unprecedented coalition of doctors and nurses; hospitals, seniors’ groups and even drug companies – many of whom opposed reform in the past. And there is agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done, putting us closer to the goal of reform than we have ever been.

I don’t know about that. His percentage seems to be off. Especially considering that, later on in the remarks, Obama admits that much of the details still need to be worked out.

Then again, numbers and stuff have never been this White House’s strong suit.

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government.

Wrong. Disdain for this government is born from elected representatives on Capitol Hill who refuse to listen to their constituents, who belittle those who dare ask topical questions, who compare concerned Americans to Nazis, and who deem anything but blind, deaf subservience to be un-American. That’s what brings about disdain toward government.

Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and counter-charges, confusion has reigned.

Yeah, Sarah Palin. Are you listening? How dare you point out that the House bill plans to provide end-of-life counseling to seniors not in the form of information, education or outreach, but in the context of cutting costs! How dare you, Sarah Palin?

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:

It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.

When has the federal government ever slowed the growth of costs in any industry it has injected itself into, either constitutionally or unconstitutionally?

When Medicare was first brought about in 1966, the entire program cost $3 billion. At the time, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated that it would only cost $12 billion by 1991, including an allowance for inflation. Whoops — they were only $95 billion off! In 1991, Medicare cost American taxpayers $107 billion. Last year, the budget for Medicare was $444 billion. So much for the government promises when it comes to slowing the growth of health care costs.

It’s a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge – not just government and insurance companies, but employers and individuals.

In other words, to pay for this monstrosity, the federal government will increase taxes on businesses and insurance providers, who will in turn pass that increased tax burden on to the average American. But don’t worry — to paraphrase what was said by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson at last year’s GOP convention, they won’t take too much water out of your side of the bucket.

And it’s a plan that incorporates ideas from Senators and Congressmen; from Democrats and Republicans – and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election.

Any more evidence needed that the fine people of Arizona need to send Sen. John McCain his pink slip? Come on, people.

Furthermore, aren’t the plans now being praised by this shallow president the very same proposals he dismissed as being “dangerous” back in the month leading up to the election?

Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

Nope. He’s lying. In fact, following similar promises made by President Obama at town hall meetings held across the country, the folks at FactCheck.org noted that, in fact, “under the House bill, some employers might have to modify plans after a five-year grace period if they don’t meet minimum benefits standards,” and that “[f]urthermore, some firms are likely to buy different coverage for their workers than they have now, or simply drop coverage and pay a penalty instead, leaving workers to buy their own private coverage or go on a new federal insurance plan.”

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

During the 1990s, congressional leaders forced lenders to relax lending standards in order to advance a liberal agenda which wrongly viewed homeownership as a right and not a privilege. We see where that got us. Now, Obama wants to force the private insurers to abandon the very checks and balances they have in place to counterbalance the risks inherent in the industry.

By being forced to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions–kind of like calling Allstate and asking for an automobile insurance policy as your Ford Taurus careens off a cliff–and being obligated to further artificially upset that risk balance, insurers will be forced to recoup that money elsewhere. What’s going to happen is that the cost of premiums will skyrocket.

But that’s exactly what this president wants. Remember that this isn’t about health care, but rather about control. Insurance companies bound by profit will never be able to compete with the federal government, which never needs to report a profit and which can set the rules as it goes along. That’s the idea. And that’s why a government option and even some types of co-ops will eventually descend into the same single-payer system as we see in Canada and England.

Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those – particularly the young and healthy – who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don’t sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people’s expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don’t provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek – especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions – just can’t be achieved.

That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. But we cannot have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees. Improving our health care system only works if everybody does their part.

In other words, if Americans are free to make their own decisions with regard to health care, the Democrats’ health care reform plan simply will not work.

And that’s where the employer mandate comes in, the same mandate which will cost millions of jobs. And, on an individual level, that’s where the $3,800 fine for those who refuse to obtain coverage, the one proposed by Max Baucus, comes into play.

Ahh. Nothing says “big government was here” like a mandatory option.

While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined: consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.

And I have no doubt that these reforms would greatly benefit Americans from all walks of life, as well as the economy as a whole. Still, given all the misinformation that’s been spread over the past few months, I realize that many Americans have grown nervous about reform. So tonight I’d like to address some of the key controversies that are still out there.

In other words: “Trust me.”

You wish, Mr. President. I can’t wait to see your poll numbers in coming days.

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

The president is lying again. End-of-life counseling provisions were included in the House bill as a measure intended to cut costs, not educate seniors. There is an enormous difference. We’ve covered this ad nauseum here at America’s Right. For more details, see Filling in the Blanks: Death Panels. Furthermore, the president himself has admitted to the existence of such decision-making entities.

There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

If the skin weren’t stretched so tightly across House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s empty skull, I think her head might have exploded right then and there.

I have a theory on this tidbit of “misinformation,” too. Wanna hear it? See, I think the president was telling the truth when he said that health care reform would not provide coverage to those who are here illegally — what he didn’t care to mention, though, was that after he provides amnesty to some 20 million illegal immigrants through a comprehensive immigration reform bill sure to come up soon, those folks won’t be here illegally anymore.

And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

Again: “Trust me,” says the man who argued against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

My health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a “government takeover” of the entire health care system. As proof, critics point to a provision in our plan that allows the uninsured and small businesses to choose a publicly-sponsored insurance option, administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare.

So let me set the record straight. My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75% of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90% is controlled by just one company. Without competition, the price of insurance goes up and the quality goes down. And it makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly – by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest; by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage; and by jacking up rates.

Insurance executives don’t do this because they are bad people. They do it because it’s profitable. As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill; they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called “Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations.”

Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable. The insurance reforms that I’ve already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear – it would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.

First of all, it’s not really even the whole “public option” thing that would constitute a “government takeover” of health care as much as it is the employer and individual mandates.

Secondly, the president is once again lying when he says his “guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition.” Take a look again at the first of the two videos above. Always has been?

It’s worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I’ve proposed tonight. But its impact shouldn’t be exaggerated – by the left, the right, or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles. To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end – and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another non-profit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.
Except, of course, for those bureaucrats I said, back in June on the ABC News health care special, would come between you and the care that you need.

Finally, let me discuss an issue that is a great concern to me, to members of this chamber, and to the public – and that is how we pay for this plan.

Here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period. And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize. Part of the reason I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for – from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy. I will not make that same mistake with health care.

Second, we’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system – a system that is currently full of waste and abuse. Right now, too much of the hard-earned savings and tax dollars we spend on health care doesn’t make us healthier. That’s not my judgment – it’s the judgment of medical professionals across this country. And this is also true when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, I want to speak directly to America’s seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue that’s been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate.

More than four decades ago, this nation stood up for the principle that after a lifetime of hard work, our seniors should not be left to struggle with a pile of medical bills in their later years. That is how Medicare was born. And it remains a sacred trust that must be passed down from one generation to the next. That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.

Wait — is there still a Medicare trust fund? I’ll bet it looks a whole lot like my savings account. Empty.

Also, if what I’m hearing is correct, the president is suggesting that we fund this brand new, exponentially bigger government program by finding and excising waste from other similar but smaller, nearly bankrupt government programs. Now, again, I’m no genius, but if this was so easy, wouldn’t it have been done by now?

The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies – subsidies that do everything to pad their profits and nothing to improve your care. And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.

These steps will ensure that you – America’s seniors – get the benefits you’ve been promised. They will ensure that Medicare is there for future generations. And we can use some of the savings to fill the gap in coverage that forces too many seniors to pay thousands of dollars a year out of their own pocket for prescription drugs. That’s what this plan will do for you. So don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut – especially since some of the same folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past, and just this year supported a budget that would have essentially turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program. That will never happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.

Essentially, this is the same thing as education. Just as the president will not permit parents to control where their own children attend school, he will not allow seniors to have any input whatsoever over their health care options.

And that, folks, was pretty much it. Sure, the president spoke for a little longer, but most of it was restating lies about not disrupting Medicare and shamelessly playing the Ted Kennedy card. If you’ve read The Inherent Hypocrisy of Kennedycare here at America’s Right, you know how we feel about that.

All in all, it was a restatement of the same arguments the White House and the Democrats have been making for months now. And in much the same way that the need to explain a joke means that the joke probably isn’t very funny in the first place, the president’s need to constantly manage and restate his arguments for health care reform suggest that the problem likely isn’t so much in the message as it is in the substance.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Brilliant, Jeff. Absolutely Brilliant.

  2. Jan says:

    Yeah, I want another government run health care option. Medicare and Medicaid are working so well. If there are so many problems within those two problems why on earth would we want another for them to screw up too? Sure, there are many things to fix in our current system. Let's fix them without destroying our future.

  3. Courtney says:

    Yes – brilliant! Hope you don't mind – I'm forwarding this one!

  4. DON'T SQUANDER A GIFT says:

    W O W
    This must go to the White House.
    Real Estate law Jeff? Come on.

  5. CONGRESS PEANUT GALLERY says:

    I tried, really, but couldn't take it… so I switched over to something very similar…. Americas Next Top Model…. take something run of the mill and slap a lot of lipstick on it, voila, the masses go ga-ga.

    Pelosis face tuck help up well. Kudos to her surgeon.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great analysis Jeff! Wake up America, we are being had by a phony and a radical left, shadow government!

  7. I am with the guy yelling says:

    On July 30 of this year, a House committee voted against a Republican amendment offered by Rep. Nathan Deal that would have required health care providers to use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program to prevent illegal aliens from receiving government health care services. All Republicans and five Democrats voted for it, but 29 Democrats voted against it, killing the amendment.

  8. Anonymous says:

    How about an analysis of Maobama's involuntary left arm jerk when Rep. Wilson called him a liar?

  9. Still a Patriot says:

    Hi Jeff -

    Thanks for a brilliant analysis – I knew I could find one on AR. I cannot stand to listen to or to watch him – it makes my skin crawl. Lies, lies, hypocrisy & more lies.

    Susan

  10. Anonymous says:

    I couldn't watch the speech or post-comment reactions so I'm extremely thankful you took the time to write this commentary. Thanks a million!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    "By being forced to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions–kind of like calling Allstate and asking for an automobile insurance policy as your Ford Taurus careens off a cliff–and being obligated to further artificially upset that risk balance, insurers will be forced to recoup that money elsewhere. What's going to happen is that the cost of premiums will skyrocket."….except my child is NOT a Ford Taurus. I can't save up for another child! If he has a life threatening illness, I should not have to worry about his bills- but rather about saving his life. He should be guaranteed the same quality of care that any other child would get and if I can't get coverage for him he absolutely will not get that. Insurance premiums are already ridiculously high…give me a break! They are going to find a reason to raise them every year whether they cover someone dying of cancer or not! At least I will be saving a human beings life…not making sure you get a new Taurus…

  12. Gail B says:

    Jeff Schreiber said,

    "[It's 3:30am, I just finished studying Federal Income Taxation stuff for class tomorrow, and the source escapes me -- my apologies.]"

    It sounds like another textbook filled with a plot so thrilling as to put an entire army to sleep! You must have a killer wind-up program in place after studying in order to write this yet another excellent piece!

    Jeff, back in the 1980s, I worked as a temp for the GA Dept. of Medical Assistance (Medicaid) in Investigations and Compliance (I&C) Section. The folks there investigated and prosecuted Medicaid provider fraud. As the investigators were not a police department with power to arrest, I&C had to turn its findings over to the State Bureau of Investigation. In one case alone, I&C petitioned the court for $1.3 million that the state had seized via the I&C investigation, and we won it.

    (My boss gave me a couple of forms and a stack of documented evidence and told me to write it up to file in court. I reminded him that we had a legal department. He said they were busy and he knew I could do it. I was doing the work of their permanent employees in the legal department, yet they could not put me on as a permanent employee!)

    I had previously worked in Surveillance and Utilization Review (SUR Unit), where Medicaid recipient fraud was investigated and recouped.

    Fraud and waste is rampant in any state's program. Counterfeit Medicaid cards, use of Medicaid cards by someone else, substituting generic for brand name and billing for the higher-priced medication, billing for services not rendered, billing for dental work for someone with dentures, billing for durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc.) not provided–these are just examples of fraud that come immediately to mind.

    A pharmacy in Savannah was investigated. We sued for $42,000 in overpayments due to fraud. The letter demanding reimbursement was three pages, and the attachment listing the overpayments was 75 pages (of recipients' names, numbers, and dollar amounts)! It came as no surprise when the business burned to the ground, but the owners went to prison anyway, for fraud and arson.

    One of the analysts told me confidentially that someone had been coming in after hours to change case information stored on disks. I needed a code to identify each analyst's disk and assigned a nautical flag to each person to match the disks. The flags were initials but only one was put on the disk. Everybody thought I was just nuts anyway and thought nothing of the "decorations" on their nameplates! The intrusion stopped, however. Whoever it was could not read the nautical flag alphabet.

    I fear the hardships that Obama/Soetoro's regime's universal healthcare would place on providers and recipients will increase the likelihood of their trying to beat the system, if only in an attempt to make their lives simply livable, not because of basic dishonesty.

    So, if everybody is under this plan–and get caught just trying to make ends meet (albeit illegally), what will the SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT DO WITH THEM? Uh-oh! A mental picture of more people in prison than outside comes to mind! No one has mentioned that at all! Does this remind anyone of the empty FEMA camps? I just don't trust that man!

  13. cher-pa says:

    Has anyone here tried to log onto Rep. Joe Wilson's government website.Last night I wanted to let him know that I screamed his exact thoughts to my tv.However his website pulled up these words WEBSITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION.Today I tried and was told due to high traffic website was not avaliable.
    Do you think Rhamm Emanuel has pulled his plug?
    My only hope is that Americans are trying to contact him to say thanks.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Really good analysis Jeff. When looking at the video and the Congressman couldn't contain himself any longer and shouted "liar", notice President Obama's left arm movement? Was he so mad that someone called him a "liar" that he temporarily lost bodily control of his arm? What will he do if another nation calls him a "liar"?

  15. sharon says:

    Terrific analysis – perfect..

    Boy, this guy really thinks were stupid, or he is hoping we are.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,
    This video was forwarded to me by a friend. I almost didn't watch it, but I am glad that I did. John C. Crawford, a senior citizen, makes some extremely good points, not made before. I hope that this can be posted on the blog, instead of just the comments, so it will get viewed and forwarded to many people. His message will touch people's hearts. Please take a few minutes and watch them. Forwarded message:

    The YouTube links below are Part 1 and 2 of a tape made by John C Crawford, and his wife from their ranch in south-central Texas.At their own expense, they made 1000 copies and sent one to every single congressman and senator and some media outlets. Let's hope that each and every one of them watched and LISTENED!!!

    Part 1
    http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=j7sQHunYdN8
    Part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MJsF11PsnQ

  17. Anonymous says:

    When Rep. Joe Wilson called Obama a "LIER" the look on Polosi plastic face "PRICELESS".

  18. CAN'T YELL 'LIAR' IN A CROWDED POLITICAL THEATER says:

    Clean House 2010
    434 NEW congressmen
    (leave the guy that yelled out in)

  19. COMRADES! says:

    I smell communism at 10:13

  20. Anonymous says:

    What about the Mexico City repeal which was "all over the news"

    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1873794,00.html

    Personally, I am beginning to think protocols no longer matter… (You LIE!)

  21. Bobby K. says:

    Again Jeff, right on, my wife and I sais the same thing rep Wilson said. Sending money to his re-election bid.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,
    I'm having another argument with my husband. He wonders why you keep calling the US healthcare system the best in the world. He says the US has one of the lowest life expentancy at birth (compared to other democracies) and the US spends more than any other nation. What criteria can I use to win him over and convince him that our system is the best. PLEASE help me. By the way, he is a Canadian and feels the health care he and his fanily recieve in Canada is superior to the US.

    Pam

  23. Anonymous says:

    How dare he call someone who hides all his lifes documentation a 'liar'….

  24. Anonymous says:

    Obama is a 'lefty' isn't he??? Was that arm twitch an involuntary reaction of going for his '9'?

  25. Anonymous says:

    My daddy always taught me you can't get something for nothing; now it looks like a great portion of the nation wants to get many somethings for nothing….. the whole house of cards has got to fall soon.

  26. Jan says:

    I already sent Wilson an email to say thanks for saying what I was at that and many other moments throughout his speech.

  27. Steve says:

    Jeff,
    Brilliant analysis, absolutely brilliant!! How do you find time to do this type of work and study for law school as well?
    I'm with you 99% on this; only disagree about preexisting conditions.
    I can appreciate the profit margin, but if someone is willing to pay for insurance, they should be allowed to have it and not be denied for having a preexisting condition.
    Your example of insuring a car after it has gone off the cliff is a bit of apples to oranges; property vs. a human life. I would not equate them at the same value.
    I am a cancer patient who is in remission and mostly likely cured. But I could be denied insurance because of this. Under that scenario, I would be a major financial burden to my family at best and financial ruin at the worst.
    Most people in an insurance pool actually remain healthy for the most part. The few with preexisting conditions would not impact the pool that much if the pool is large enough and being managed well.
    Fortunately, my jobs have provided insurance (although I pay a significant amount for it) and disregarded all preexisting conditions.
    Just food for thought and not meant to bust your chops. Still an awesome analysis. Keep up the great work!!

  28. Sundae5 says:

    Jeff:
    Okay, so I still can’t keep my mouth shut.
    “Then there’s the problem of rising costs. We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it.”
    I think there are two additional reasons for this that are kept quiet. One is the obvious elephant in the room of tort reform which was belatedly tossed in at the end of the speech in a half hearted manner. The other being the very strong insurance lobby who have worked hand in hand with the members of congress to maintain the very high profit margins that the President is now demonizing. Were congress not supportive of the monopolies built and the monies being generated by both malpractice cases and insurance companies, this skyrocketing of costs would not be such a large issue.
    “Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy” This is NOW, after this bill, how much of our economy will be dependent on HC? If it is as poorly run what happens then? And with the govt. track record?
    “agreement in this chamber on about eighty percent of what needs to be done” What needs to be done, not how to do it. Herein lies the problem…
    “The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals” What? Is there a NEW plan?? Or is he talking about HR 3200? He makes an effort to confuse mainstream America at every turn.
    “Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan” Just why are the American People always on a NEED TO KNOW basis with this guy? The HC bills out there contain so much that the average American would find repulsive is why! That is the reason for the vilification of right wing communicators out there, because of the reality that if America knew what was actually going on, there would be more than tea parties happening.
    “As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses…” This is sure to skyrocket costs as you said Jeff, or simply bankrupt insurance companies. It will be impossible to compete. I am not saying there is not a better way to do it, only that this way will ensure the on again off again govt. option will in the end be the only way.
    “Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business.” He had no interest in running car companies either did he?
    s

  29. Linda says:

    "And yet another portion are young people who simply prefer to spend their money on beer."

    Certainly our 'drinking buddy – solve everything over a beer' administrator should understand this. So why try to get them to change?

    More power to you, Jeff. I couldn't even stomach to see one second of his face, let alone listen to his lies. I say Bravo Joe Wilson!!

  30. Linda says:

    Sundae5: After he puts the insurance companies out of business (which this takeover will), how does he plan on handling the massively-increased unemployment that will spark? Oh wait – he doesn't care. The more unemployed there are, the more people will be dependent on the (I don't know what form it will be) government. Supress society – make them dependent on the government. Sound like any other countries anybody knows?

  31. Linda says:

    I'm sorry – I can't stay away.

    Why isn't anyone talking about the 53 (that's right 53!!!!) new government agencies/departments that will need to be created if this healthcare farce goes through??? Interesting how this has been swept beneath the carpet. That means if the government employees are covered by this farce, you and I (who have chosen to work in the private sector) will be paying for them – ALL of them!!!

    Okay – I'll try to calm down now.

  32. Dee says:

    I worked in the medical field as a social worker (not the bleeding heart kind, the closet Republican kind) for 30+ years. The last 9 years of my career, which ended last year, were in the Trauma and Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care Units in a very large metropolitan, teaching hospital. Our staff worked diligently to help those who needed coverage with either insurance or medications or both. We started our discharge planning on the day of admission. There were those who knew how to play the system and asked for everything, cab rides home, food vouchers, and sometimes clothing. Our department spent thousands of dollars a year providing transportation home for patients. It was amazing how many suddenly had no one to come and get them. Some would say that their doctor told them that we would pay for a ride home or the hospital that sent them to ours supposedly told them we would arrange for transportation home. We finally set more stringent guidelines to cut down on costs.
    The people that annoyed me most were the wealthy ones who wanted to know how they could hide their assests so they would be eligible for Medicaid. They did not want to spend their money on healthcare. Actually, very few people wanted to spend money on healthcare.
    If BO mandates that everyone get healthcare, will he include the Amish? They pay cash for their hospital bills. Of all the Amish families I dealth with, only 2 applied for welfare, after much discussion with their church elders, myself, and the hospital. One patient had a bill over a million dollars (the Amish patient had saved $5,000 and had to spend most of it first) and the other received medication that cost $1,200 a day. At the same time, a patient whose family was very wealthy was able to receive medicaid without spending anything because his parents had everything in their name.
    BO wants to pay doctors to discuss end of life issues. I worked with 10-15 families a month, out of the 45 beds I covered, who withdrew treatment on the patient. Our doctors were always willing to discuss end of life issues and work with the families. The only time they became frustrated was when the family did not do what the staff thought they should do WHEN the staff thought they should do it. Some needed more time to prepare for the end of the patient's life. Many hospitals and doctors offices will ask you upon admission if you have an Advance Directive or Living Will and if not do you want information on it. These things are not new and are becoming more prevelant. If our system is so bad, why do so many from other countries come here for treatment?
    Sorry for the long post but BO's plans are not about healthcare but about money.

  33. Claudia says:

    The best part of the Speech was when Joe Wilson shouted "You're Lying" ….. all the rest of his speech was just re-hashed garbage with absolutely nothing NEW added and NOTHING that clarified any of the vexing positions this Bill is going to implement.

  34. Chuck in San Diego says:

    WHAT !?!?!? Planned Parenthood "outlets" in our kids' schools !?!?!?!?!!?

    It's true. H.R. 3200 will authorize Planned Parenthood, as a "sponsoring facility," to run a clinic during school hours on the grounds of public schools, with absolutely no accountability either to parents or school administrators.

    http://www.capwiz.com/afanet/issues/alert/?alertid=14010941

  35. Craig and Susie says:

    If he's determined to be the last US president to deal with healthcare reform, is it because he's determined to be the last US president?

  36. goddessdivine says:

    GREAT analysis. Glad I didn't waste my time watching the drivel….knowing I could come here for the synopsis. But apparently I missed someone shouting "Liar!" That alone would have been great to see.

  37. goddessdivine says:

    One more thing……

    That speech was full of absolute arrogance and conceit. Does he really think he is that wonderful that he can be the last president to deal with health care? (Never mind; I know the answer.) As if there won't ever be problems again.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Claudia noted "The best part of the Speech was when Joe Wilson shouted "You're Lying" ….. all the rest of his speech was just re-hashed garbage."

    Boy, ain't that the truth! Long after Dear Leader's angry, petulant speech has been forgotten, the clarion-call of Wilson's honest, gut-felt cry will ring in our ears still. Obama, You lie!

    Epic piece, Jeff. Absolutely awesome.

    JV

  39. Anonymous says:

    After reading your commentary, as well as the comments on your page I do have to say that I'm truly disappointed in my fellow Americans.

    We all need to wake up and realize that our President has Americas best interest at heart. Our President at least wants to help our country and return us to our former prosperity. This President will not sit in an school classroom while our citizens are under attack. This President will not turn a blind eye as our citizens starve on their own rooftops because they're city has not been flooded. Yet forgive me if I find rampant Bush supporters spewing vile and filth about a President who is trying to help the country petulant children screaming for their dying ideology. Sarah Palin and Rep. Wilson should learn to grow up and participate in activities that will help our fellow countrymen instead of making up lies about death panels or making fools out of themselves by screaming on national television. Should we throw our shoes at you Mr. Wilson?

    If we really want to bring down the cost of healthcare we need to first address the following four items. 1) Administrative costs in the insurance industry are out of control and should be contained. 2) Preventitive care and annual exams should be fully covered with no co-pay so as to ensure that people don't wait to the last minute to be checked/diagnosed. 3)Imposed severe nutritional restriction on food manufacturers and the FDA to ensure that our food source is one that promotes good health instead of promoting obesity and diabetes as it does now. 4) Employers should be required to give all employees more time off (at least a month of paid leave). We spend too much time at work, which adds to our stress levels, which causes stress related injuries and illnesses.

    We should all be addressing the real causes of poor health and poor health care before we begin breaking down our current system. However, I should leave you with this thought. Even Cuba has better health care system then we do.

  40. COMRADES! says:

    Communism at 12:40

  41. Gail B. says:

    Jeff, I think YOU should give the rebuttal of the State of the Union address! Gee, whiz! And to think that you just carry these words of wisdom around in your head as though they were your wife’s cell phone number!

    This is the second time I’ve read this piece, and I’m still blown away!

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