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Sen. Kamala Harris committed a most unusual gaffe at her CNN town hall the other night — not by misspeaking about one of her central policy proposals, but by describing it accurately.

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

Asked on Monday night if the “Medicare-for-all” plan that she’s co-sponsoring with Sen. Bernie Sanders eliminates private health insurance, she said that it most certainly does. Citing insurance company paperwork and delays, she waved her hand: “Let’s eliminate all of that. Let’s move on.”

She met with approbation from the friendly audience in Des Moines, Iowa, but the reaction elsewhere was swift and negative.

“As the furor grew,” CNN reported the next day, “a Harris adviser on Tuesday signaled that the candidate would also be open to the more moderate health reform plans, which would preserve the industry, being floated by other congressional Democrats.”

This was a leading Democrat wobbling on one of her top priorities 48 hours after the kickoff of her presidential campaign, which has been praised for its early acumen. It is sure to be the first of many unpleasant encounters between the new Democratic agenda and political reality.

Democrats are now moving from the hothouse phase of jockeying for the nomination, when all they had to do was get on board the party’s orthodoxy as defined by Bernie Sanders, to defending these ideas in the context of possibly signing them into law as president of the United States.

The Harris flap shows that insufficient thought has been given to how these proposals will strike people not already favorably disposed to the new socialism. It’s one thing for Sanders to favor eliminating private health insurance; no one has ever believed that he is likely to become president. It’s another for Harris, deemed a possible front-runner, to say it.

Her position is jaw-droppingly radical. It flips the script of the (dishonest) Barack Obama pledge so essential to passing Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

That was a very 2009 sentiment. Ten years later, Harris indeed wants to take away your health plan, not in a stealthy operation, not as an unfortunate byproduct of the rest of her plan, but as a defining plank of her agenda.

This is a far more disruptive idea than Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax. The affected population isn’t a limited group of highly affluent people. It is half the population, roughly 180 million people who aren’t eager for the government to swoop in and nullify their current health care arrangements.

They may not like the current system, but they like their own health care — about three-quarters tell Gallup that their own health care is excellent or good. This is why the relatively minor interruption of private plans as part of the rollout of Obamacare was so radioactive.

How is a President Harris going to overcome this kind of resistance absent Depression-era Democratic supermajorities in Congress? Not to mention pay for a program that might well cost $30 trillion during 10 years and beat back fierce opposition from key players in the health-care industry?

She obviously won’t. “Medicare-for-all” is a wish and a talking point rather than a realistic policy. When her aides say she is willing to accept another “path” to “Medicare-for-all,” what they mean is that Harris is willing to accept something short of true “Medicare-for-all.”

There is always something to be said for shifting the Overton window on policy. But it’s better if that is done by think tanks and gadflies rather than plausible presidential candidates who aren’t even trying to hold down the left flank of the party.

If it’s uncomfortable for Kamala Harris to defend eliminating private health insurance now, imagine what it will be like when the entire apparatus of the Republican Party — including the president’s Twitter feed — is aimed at her in a general election.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(72) comments

Rick Czeczok

When was the last time any of you heard of anyone being turned away at the doors of a hospital? HHMMMM......

martian2

oh ricky boy, going to the emergency room to get healthcare is the most expensive and time consuming way to do so. You do not get comprehensive care, only a quick fix maybe and then sent on your way. That is what the poor and desperate have to do many times when they wait for many hours to see a doctor while they suffer. I have been blessed with insurance most of my adult life and am able to make appointments to see a doctor when needed. Even after a high deductible and co pay I still consider myself lucky to have insurance. Those that don't have insurance suffer needlessly, and I don't think anyone in this country should have to go through that.

DMoney

You haven't been blessed. You made good decisions.

martian2

no I was blessed D. I was lucky enough to have an employer or my wife's employer provide health insurance to employees. Simple as that, I did nothing extraordinary to deserve it.

oldhomey

Dang it, martian, quit destroying D's high opinion of you! I SO diminishes his opinion of himself! He had all these job offers from prospective employers, and he cannily sorted through them until he found one that offered health insurance benefits, while so many others went after those jobs with low pay, bad hours and no benefits at all. HE mad the good decision, it turned out.

DMoney

God/Jesus made these employers offer decent health insurance?

oldhomey

Where would you get the idea that God/Jesus made employers offer decent health insurance, D? They used to offer it because it was a benefit that attracted and held good employees. Now, with healthcare costs so out of control and businesses deciding the only audience they must please is shareholders, most places are trying to get out of offering healthcare benefits. I would wager that most employers would welcome a national healthcare plan just to get that monkey off their backs. But you made an excellent decision, going with an employer who still has a healthcare benefit. What is wrong with all these people who are taking part-time and minimal wage jobs without healthcare? They certainly make careless decisions, don't they? Even PhD college teachers who now are denied tenure on a massive scale, smart people working dumbly without healthcare benefits, I guess. Cripes. Who needs affordable healthcare when you can make good decisions like you did?

martian2

yes D, Jesus/God created whatever circumstances needed to be created in order for my family to have insurance. He/she is a lot smarter than you, I know that is hard to accept for you. Why did God/Jesus allow some families not to have insurance? Maybe so people like you and I could have the opportunity to be compassionate enough to come up with a solution and insist that all people have healthcare. Sometimes that is how God/Jesus helps solve problems, by giving us one another.

DMoney

When someone implies that they have something because they were "blessed", it removes responsibility. I do not believe God micro-manages your health care choices Martian. Pretty sure he delegates that to us to decide.

DMoney

Oldhomey you are not following along again. Read preceding comments. Usually when someone asks a question it's in response to a previous post. You'd save yourself a lot of time.

oldhomey

Gosh, D, you caused me to waste my time by scrolling backward to see if you were right and I didn't pay proper attention to what I was responding to. Once again, you were wrong.

oldhomey

Here we go again with end-of-Earth-and life-as-we-know-it from radical right-wingers who used this tactic to try to block Obamacare, a plan that most Americans, including those who said they didn't want it or like it, now want to protect, improve and extend.

Mr. Lowry tells us: Her position is jaw-droppingly radical. It flips the script of the (dishonest) Barack Obama pledge so essential to passing Obamacare: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

The mistaken pledge Obama made did affect some people, but not catastrophically. It was unfortunate, and I am sure some people lost the ability of seeing doctors they knew and trusted. But they were NOT EVER denied service by the new plan, they continued to see doctors, just new ones. Is this an unacceptably radical idea that went wrong?

Mr. Lowry continues: That was a very 2009 sentiment. Ten years later, Harris indeed wants to take away your health plan, not in a stealthy operation, not as an unfortunate byproduct of the rest of her plan, but as a defining plank of her agenda.

I am not sure yet what her plan is, but if it changes your health care plan and mine, it STILL will keep us all on a healthcare plan, but a new one that will not deny coverage to anybody and assure that every citizen has healthcare, allowing tens of millions who do not have it to now be able to see doctors and receive medications. THIS is a radical idea? I would posit that opposing giving tens of millions of fellow citizens medical care is a dangerously radical and immoral idea. But that is Mr. Lowry's stance, so he can live with that reputation.

DMoney

The federal government taking away the healthcare if private citizens and replacing it with a federally mandated choice. Removal of our choice in the very care that allows us to be healthy. You don't see that as radical?

martian2

There s no removal of choice under medicare, there is no federally mandated choice under medicare. No one is talking of taking healthcare away from private citizens on the left, only right wingers want that option if the citizen cannot afford private insurance. I am helping take care of a relative diagnosed with metastatic cancer. fortunately he is in his 70's with medicare and a supplement for insurance. Without the federal medicare program there is no way he could afford the treatment he is getting now. And there are no restrictions on what doctor he can see by medicare, only by his private supplement insurance company. Gradually reducing the age for medicare eligibility would be a god send to the working class. The rich don't want it cause that would mean they would have to continue paying taxes and they don't need medicare. There is nothing radical about medicare for all, only question is how to do it responsibly.

DMoney

Ok, so you are agreeing that this opinion is correct and the Harris proposal is not feasible. Is there an existing proposal that you support? I'll read into it.

oldhomey

That is one of your problems, D. You "read into" everything on these boards whatever you want to read into them, ignoring the facts. You should instead find credible sources on these issues and "read up" on them.

DMoney

That's what I am requesting. Is there a solution that you/Martian supports? Provide a source and I'll "read up" on it.

oldhomey

Good, we got that straightened out, D. Gosh. Whoever thought health insurance could be so complicated, as one brilliant president once asked? Let's get somebody in charge who will weigh the options, apply them to the realities and differences in the U.S., and use the components of national healthcare from other big industrial nations that would be most appropriate for our country. We probably won't get it right at first, but soon enough we will be in business with it, and nobody will ever want to look back at what we have today.

crank

"The mistaken pledge Obama made did affect some people, but not catastrophically. It was unfortunate, and I am sure some people lost the ability of seeing doctors they knew and trusted. But they were NOT EVER denied service by the new plan, they continued to see doctors, just new ones. Is this an unacceptably radical idea that went wrong?

Unless you were impacted by this, clearly you don't understand the impact of being forced to change your healthcare, switch providers, transferring records, etc. You seem to be one of the "I got mine, skrew the rest of you crowd..."

The replacement coverages under ACA often didn't cover as much and cost more. You wrote, "But they were NOT EVER denied service by the new plan"... Actually, this isn't precisely true. Though nobody was 'denied' service, some treatments were not covered (or covered as much, e.g. drug formularies) under the new plans. Patients were forced to alter or pay out of pocket to continue their treatment plan rather than altering their treatment. The approved plans forced patients to switch doctors in some cases. I suppose it isn't a big deal because "you got yours...", oldhomey. To others who had conditions and chronic diseases and treatment plans established under the care of a doctor you trust, being forced to switch and go elsewhere IS a big deal. The personal experiences of my own brother being treated at Mayo for stage 4 cancer would indicate your conclusion of "not catastrophically" is terribly mistaken. Perhaps, this wasn't the case for you. You're happy...Skrew everyone else. His employer's plan did not meet ACA criteria and was forced to switch to a qualified plan. Doctors at Mayo in Rochester (some of the best doctors anywhere) was not covered. His treatment was altered because the aggressive treatments they were using were not available at his provider in Chicago. His surgery was delayed then cancelled while he waded through paperwork. The new doctors determined he was in remission while they played 'catch-up' reviewing his chart and his progress. The latest scans from Mayo had not made it into his chart with the new doctor. He died...

His treatment and doctors at Mayo were covered by his old plan. They weren't part of the new plan they were forced to purchase. Of course, he had the option to pay out-of-pocket to continue seeing the Mayo doctors who I believe could have saved or at least extended his life. He and his family couldn't afford the expense. The stress of all of this did not help.

You will no-doubt troll and insult me personally in response to my comment. Perhaps you'll even ask for a link to his obit. Suffice to say, we disagree on whether government mandate should determine ones doctor or treatment plan or coverage as a direct result of ACA/Obamacare because he still had a healthcare plan. He didn't need a new plan but was forced to take one.

oldhomey

crank, I am sorry for your loss. I have no way of knowing if your account is accurate or not, even if your brother's prognosis of continued treatment at Mayo was promising, or if it was an experimental, last-ditch trial of something new, which doctors sometimes offer to people, not just at Mayo, but other experimental clinics, as well. But I will accept your description and understand your grief.

Our entire healthcare system has been in turmoil for the last 40 years. In my last 30 years of employment, my employer was switching plans I would guess every two to three years, trying to shave costs. Several times we had to completely switch doctors because the new insurance plan didn't have the old ones in their system. I know the terrible inconvenience and frustration of that process. My wife had to have total shoulder replacement -- artificial ball and sockets -- in both shoulders. The surgeon who did her first shoulder was top notch. Before she could get the second one done, our company switched plans. She had to go to another surgeon, which really upset her. But it turned out she liked the second one even better -- I don't know if he was even more skilled, but in that time period between her surgeries, barely two years, big improvements also had been made on the technical aspects of the procedure.

The thing is, we had insurance (this was before I retired), and instead of being crippled for the rest of her life, because we had insurance and healthcare, she is as good as new. If I had been unemployed or in a job with no health insurance, she would have been out of luck. That is no choice. That is not bad luck. That is a societal breakdown that we would allow that to happen.

crank

The bottom line.... He had coverage. It didn't meet the government's criteria for 'qualified plan'. The treatments he was receiving were covered by it. The doctors he was seeing, were covered by it. The treatments he was getting were working. They were not experimental. Those same treatment options weren't available at the new provider because they were not equipped nor staffed to provide those treatments.

But....none of those details matter. What matters is (again), "...we disagree on whether government mandate should determine ones doctor or treatment plan or coverage..." The government interfered with his treatment. Your earlier comment indicated it was no big deal to switch doctors and health plans. I disagree... The example I gave highlights the fact that this is a big deal.

When ACA was rolled out by a former president, the promise was, keep your plan, keep your doctor, it will cost less. Those things were and are clearly not true. Therefore, it isn't surprising when I'm skeptical of further promises by those who assure us Medicare for all will fix everything. I do not believe it will aid in delivering health care more efficiently or for less money. In my experience, the rules for Federal/Medicare compliance have made delivering healthcare more complicated and expensive.

In my own case, I have old injuries and arthritis which is helped by physical therapy. Under Medicare/Insurance rules, I cannot see a PT without a referral from a physician or they will not pay for the PT treatment. My PPO plan will not pay PT claims unless I also see a doctor. They won't even make an appointment because they know they won't get paid. With insurance, getting PT requires getting a referral first, it costs 4 times as much and my out of pocket is higher than if I go directly to the PT with no referral and pay cash. If I pay cash, it's $75. If I go through insurance, the provider bills over $400 to Insurance /Medicare. After insurance is done with it, my co-pay, out of pocket, etc is ~$130. It more money and more complicated.

I asked about it... The provider said they bill insurance the way they bill Medicare. Medicare requires a referral or the feds won't pay. The apply the same process to insurance billing because doing it any other way would make the process too complicated. They standardize on Medicare's stringent billing and coding rules.

If you don't believe me, call Gundersen Sports Med/PT folks to make an appointment. They want a referral or they won't make the appointment. Ask how much your insurance will be billed for the visit. They won't be able to tell you and you'll wait for days for a vague answer. Then ask, "How much if I pay cash?" They'll tell you it's a hundred bucks. They will make your PT appointment without requiring a referral.

One reason healthcare in this country costs so much more per capita than in other countries is the Medicare system you claim is SO much more efficient. They cannot deliver Medicare for all using the current system and make it cost less. I disagree with you. I believe you're wrong. The roll-out of ACA failed to deliver on what was promised in almost every way. The one thing I hear cited most often is X million more people have access to healthcare. The thing is, they've always had access to healthcare. It hasn't become more affordable. It costs more.

If you don't believe me, make some calls, ask some questions. Compare the costs of Mayo's and Gundersen's services to those of La Crosse Neighborhood Family Clinic, for example.

DMoney

You guys made good decisions.

oldhomey

Sorry, crank, both for your tribulations and your opinion. We have this cumbersome hybrid system that is causing your problems because insurance companies are doing everything they can to complicate the system to their benefit. Insurance companies can and do have the power of denying coverage of the sort your brother relied on. The same result could have happened had his plan been transferred to another company because of a decision by his employer, as happens constantly now for the diminishing number of people who enjoy employer-based insurance benefits. For those who have no benefits at all, there is no meaningful treatment whatsoever in the pipeline for them should they have serious cancer issues. That is not humane. That is not Christian. That should not be the American way. If modern medicine is offering life-saving treatment, it should be available to all who need it, not just the insured. I would guess that a very significant part of the $400 that gets billed for your physical therapy gets paid for "administrative costs", not services, and that means it is going to middleman insurance company services that are no service at all. Why does healthcare per capita in Europe, where all nations are on some sort of universal healthcare, cost half of what it costs in this country, where we leave tens of millions uninsured, and tens of millions more under-insured?

crank

Actually, your guesses and assumptions are both incorrect. The insurance companies did not create this hybrid which requires me to see a physician for a referral before a PT visit is covered. This is 100% a Medicare rule.

The Feds have established a system of coding diagnostic and procedural codes (CPT and ICD-10). In the case of physical therapy, there is a specific CPT code. If there is no accompanying referral for that CPT code when the feds are billed, they'll deny it.

Since it would be very costly and complicated to create the special 'hybrid' system you assume exists to enrich insurance companies, the provider standardizes on the more complicated Medicare billing and coding guidelines. Medicare, in this case, is making my healthcare more costly; not the evil insurance provider. I asked because the whole scenario seemed inefficient and senseless; i.e. Why do I need to see a physician to get PT? My would an insurance company encourage me to incur additional expense when just a PT visit is needed? That policy forces them to pay MORE... The answer: The insurance company doesn't require this; Medicare does. Feds have established these rules, I suppose, to prevent fraud.

Those Medicare standards and inefficient practices are used for non-Medicare patients to bill private insurance.

To further prove this, I paid cash for a PT visit. I had no referral from a physician. I then submitted a claim for that service/expense directly to my insurance company with proof I had paid the provider in cash. The insurance company paid the claim. They did not require the referral. The insurance company did not line their pockets with layers of admin fees at my expense. These are facts, not assumptions as you have offered.

If you doubt ANY of this, oldhomey, I encourage you to investigate yourself and speak to someone about it as I have done.

crank

To further illustrate the absurd inefficiencies the Feds created, there's this. It will likely make you laugh but should make us all cry when we realize this is what our government bureaucracies do. A friend who works in the field provided this absurdity.

ICD-10 is a federal mandate that applies to all parties covered by HIPAA, not just providers who bill Medicare or Medicaid. The ICD documents the diagnosis. A CPT code is the procedure or treatment. They're both required and ridiculously specific. If things are coded incorrectly, claims don't get paid. This system was created by the Feds, not by insurance companies.

Who else besides the federal government could come up with a system which included this ridiculous ICD diagnosis code?

Code V91.07 - Burn due to water-skis on fire

Look it up if you don't believe me. [huh]

oldhomey

I looked it up, crank, and I see it is all over on the internet, a huge talking point with right-wing talk sites. I have no idea what it is all about, nor can I find any sites that I would trust that have tackled this "issue". If it is as bad as it is portrayed, the medical community needs to be ridiculed into getting rid of the absurdities. If there are reasonable explanations that are behind this, they need to be expressed. I will withhold my judgment until I learn more.

crank

If you have no idea what it is all about, perhaps you should do as I've suggested and educate yourself rather than blaming insurance companies and right-wing web sites for things you admit you do not understand.

I spelled out in detail my own example of inefficiency regarding the needless hoops and cost associated with seeing a physical therapist. This, I was told by my provider (not some right-wing web site), is because of Medicare billing rules.

As I pointed out, I bypassed all of it by paying cash and submitted my own claim. The insurance company paid it without requiring the referral and without a diagnostic code. The CPT code for the treatment was listed on the receipt. I called the insurance company before I sent the claim to ask what they required to process and pay the claim.
My info, my plan id, the name of the provider, date of service, CPT code and proof I had paid the bill already (cash receipt). They did not add a greedy insurance company admin fee surcharge and they sent a check promptly. The red tape and inefficiency is largely a product of the Federal Bureaucracy you STILL blame on the insurance companies.

You now admit you don't understand how it works. On what, then, do you base your conclusion that Medicare is much more efficient?

I'd say one giant variable in the US versus the rest of the world per capita cost you're ignoring is the fact our Federal Government and our politicians are not meddling in the delivery of health care in those other countries.

oldhomey

Well, Crank, I don't know how to make it more clear. You are right, I am not a deeply informed person on the insurance/healthcare standards and codification system. I will never be. I don't expect you will be, either. I rely on good interpretation and reporting on issues like this from a variety of sources, largely reputable newspapers and magazines, but certainly not echo chamber, agenda-driven websites. I have not encountered in them these issues that you bring forth about insurance rules for people burned while water skiing or whatever the hell it is. I doubt that they are trying to keep it hidden from the public. If it is an issue that we all must confront, I trust we will be reading about it soon in the legitimate media, and perhaps I will feel then that the problem is correctly described to my satisfaction. The sites I found on the internet certainly did not do that for me. I am a patient man. I will wait for better information.

I have no reason to doubt that you have encountered some convoluted issue with your payments for physical therapy. I from time to time have run up against bureaucratic rules that I simply could not fathom, too, and it is frustrating and maddening. My extend my sympathy, but what you describe certainly does not seem to have anything to offer in terms of considering creating a national healthcare plan for this country. And no, I do not think on the whole that politicians and civil servants in this country are inferior to those found in Europe, though we do presently have some loony tunes running the show. I hope they will all be gone after 2020.

crank

"I rely on good interpretation and reporting on issues like this from a variety of sources, largely reputable newspapers and magazines, but certainly not echo chamber, agenda-driven websites. I have not encountered in them these issues that you bring forth about insurance rules for people burned while water skiing or whatever the hell it is. "

You consider The Washington Post an agenda-driven web site? They wrote about it and brought up the cumbersome coding system also. Here are some they picked out:
Crushed by alligator: W58.03 which they pointed out is a distinct code from Crushed by crocodile: W58.13
Struck by Orca: W56.22 (Bitten by dolphin is a separate code)
Injured in a prison swimming pool: Y92.146

An ER doctor in that Washington Post article commented on the codes for car crashes which require them to specify whether the car hit another car, a truck a van or other type of vehicle.

They are definitely not trying to hide the existence of the ridiculous number of ICD-10 codes. There is a reference which lists all of them. Doctors, their staff, coding/billing specialists have to use them. Try this out for size... Look up the number of ICD codes for car crashes. https://www.icd10data.com/search?s=car

I have no doubt you'll continue covering your ears muttering "LA LA LA LA LA LA...." creating your own echo chamber rather than dealing with facts. Most of my knowledge and the tip about the ridiculous water skiing code didn't come from Google or a right-wing web site. It came during a lively dinner conversation with a number of healthcare professionals who spoke about what a mess tings are and how expensive it is to comply with the federal regulations for electronic medical records, coding, billing, insurance, etc. The topic started with me asking about my insurance stuff and grew into a discussion of the IT requirements of constantly changing regulatory issues and the stupid sums of money Epic Systems in Madison must haul in annually selling the software to Gundersen and Mayo while they try to keep up. The changes are constant and the system you know nothing about but insist on defending is, by their definition, an F-ed up mess.

crank

It occurred to me to mention another issue I discussed with a friend who is a dentist. He has his own practice. He has stopped accepting new Badgercare (Medical Assistance) patients because the government programs are such a pain to deal with. He felt bad because many area dentists have stopped.

Those patients require more of his time and care because they generally have not gone to the dentist as often as they should. Yet, Badgercare reimbursement rates are much lower than insurance. On top of that, MA often denies claims. This has required him to dedicate additional staff to deal with the denials and to try to collect from patients. It isn't worth the trouble and expense for his small practice to deal with that. The result is a portion of the population most in need of dental care is underserved because the screwed up government bureaucracy that is supposed to provide for their care has forced him to stop serving them. He has a small pracice, a staff to pay and overhead costs. Though he refuses to take new patients on Badgercare he continues to see his existing patients on MA. He's taken too many losses to bother. (No, I don't think he's a Republican.)

oldhomey

crank, I don't have access to dinner parties with doctors to do the original research as you do, so I have to resort to reports of such research by reputable people in the news business and academia, resulting in me reading good newspapers and relying on looking up things in books and on the internet through Google.

As a gesture of good faith that I am listening hard to what you are saying, I Googled: "washington post Crushed by alligator: W58.03 which they pointed out is a distinct code from Crushed by crocodile: W58.13". I came up with zilch. No story by them. Can you direct me to a site where I will find it, or are you relying on word of mouth from one of your doctor friends who said he saw it in the Post? I'd love to read the Post story or stories.

crank

Ah yes.... the grand dinner parties. You know, that night my wife and I went to Coulee Golf Bowl for fish fry and ran into friends there. They invited us to join them. We felt underdressed because they were all wearing tuxedos and such...you know...being rich doctors. They had to ask the string quartet they had hired to move to make room for us at their table.

Oldhomey, there must be literally ten thousand people who work in health care or health insurance in this area. You must know some people. I think you're lying. Perhap they none of them like you enough to invite you to join them for fish fry. [shrug]

"As a gesture of good faith that I am listening hard to what you are saying, I Googled: ... I came up with zilch. No story by them."

"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." --Stephen R. Covey As usual, oldhomey, I think you are not listening, only arguing.

Earlier, you wrote, "I looked it up, crank, and I see it is all over on the internet, a huge talking point with right-wing talk sites." Hmmmm

When I searched "Flaming Water Skis" in Google after recalling that conversation at the 'dinner party', the very first result was this Washington Post article. I think you're being disingenuous. This is why I asked whether you considered WaPo right-wing. This is why I believe you have your hands over your ears yelling "LA LA LA LA LA LA" creating your own echo chamber.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/09/30/burned-by-flaming-water-skis-bitten-by-a-macaw-theres-a-medical-code-for-that/

Scroll to the last sentence in that article and you'll find "Crushed by Crocodile" (as well as alligator.

crank

It would seem that our old windbag is out of hot air.

DMoney

What evidence do you have that our government can efficiently and fairly operate a national healthcare system? At least with the current setup, those who do have coverage normally receive high quality, prompt care. I think there's a disconnect between what we "should" do (theory) and what we're capable of (reality).

oldhomey

I see that you, sir, belong to the school of: "I got mine, skrew the rest of you that don't." The federal government has a pretty good running start at operating a pretty efficient national healthcare system with decades of experience with Medicare and Medicaid. If that is not enough evidence for you, look to every other industrialized democracy in the world. EVERY ONE of them has been using some form of national healthcare for more than 50 years, not just because the "could", but because the "should". Are those plans perfect? No, they are constantly being tweaked and refined. But compared to what we have, in which we as a nation spend more than twice per capita on health care than any of those other nations, they look like nirvana, with better health and healthcare outcomes than the U.S., and no citizen without healthcare and the ability to see a doctor and receive the medications and hospital care that they might need.

That, sir, is a reality.

DMoney

"It's not I've got mine, skrew the rest." Its more like "I've got mine through smart decisions. My family has coverage through smart decisions. Many other people have it through being careful and responsible. For those who don't have some coverage, sorry but should have made better decisions ".

martian2

oh get off your high horse there Dmoney. You pat yourself on the back for being so smart, and calling people who don't have insurance not as smart as you. that is so presumptuous and condescending. People lose health insurance for all kinds of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with being smarter, like you. Time you have a little compassion for those less fortunate, and quit boasting about how great you are. Geesh, you are sounding like Trump now, all hot air and no substance.

oldhomey

Thank you, martian, for that excellent, accurate and totally deserved putdown of D. What D said about his superior intelligence is like saying boomers and and older gen-Xers had superior intelligence to those born after them because boomers and older gen-Xers joined the workforce when company-paid health insurance was still standard operating procedure.

DMoney

Seriously, who goes through life not getting insurance coverage? You two didn't. I'm not. Nobody I know does. If you lose it, work for someone who offers. Can't get hired by CenturyLink? If not, sorry, healthcare costs going to be high. Laid off at old age but not retirement age? Get a job with insurance. Go under spouses insurance. Could never keep a spouse? Sorry, medical care going to be higher. Seriously, who doesn't get insurance coverage? Gotta make good decisions. If you do, in this country, you'll be fine.

oldhomey

Brilliant, D. We live in an age when corporations are shedding insurance responsibilities for their employees like the plague. Now we (not me personally, as I am retired) must base our entire career plans on a desperate search for a job that has insurance, which is even more paramount than the idea that you find work that you are suited for and happy in.

I grew up and went into the workforce at a golden time, in the 1960s. My good fortune was making a good choice for me for a job that I loved, and it worked out. I did not have to pursue insurance as the object of my employment. You are suggesting that in 2019 that is how things are, and that is okay, because that is what is offered by society. Well, it is not okay, and while we can not legislate the 1950s/60s economy back into existence, we can legislate a new approach to healthcare that takes care of everybody.

Whomever your employer is would dump your health insurance in a blink if it could. Don't be so smug about your good choices.

DMoney

With regards to your first paragraph--agree. Must adapt to current realities. Can change/influence future possibilities but as that's not guaranteed, it's wise to adapt to environment.

In 2019, the situation "is what it is". Is it "okay?" I don't know. I certainly never implied any emotional response to it. Adaptation is key to survival and success. Gotta change with the times.

My current employer does not offer health insurance. I have my own insurance. I spent a lot of time and spend a lot of money on this insurance. It was important for me and my family--so we got it done. I am not "lucky" or "blessed"--I am simply a responsible adult. Not special in any way. I would expect other adults to be responsible and if they choose other routes--face the consequences. I don't care how you or anyone feels about that.

DMoney

And your good fortune had nothing to do with it. You made a good choice, afforded to you by I'm sure a good education or family or support system or values or something that helped shape the young old homey. You know what's worse than being "smug"? Being falsely humble. It's patronizing. Sure, some people probably do have extremely limited options and hope. That sucks. That will also never change in any political or economic system. If I were in that position, with nothing to lose, I'd act accordingly.

capedcrusader

What evidence do you have that they can't?

DMoney

Literally any federal/public agency with a private sector competior. Literally any one.

PhysicsIsFun

Wow! I know of several extremely talented and careful people who have been without health insurance. Things happen in life that are out of our control. Sometimes the best laid plans go up in smoke. I hope you never find out personally. Get off your high horse. You sound like a total jerk.

DMoney

BS. They chose a path that didn't offer insurance. You don't even need talent to get decent insurance. Look at the classified any given day, you'll find even most entry level positions with healthcare after probationary period. Might you have to make a sacrifice like a long commute or less hourly pay or non-fulfillig work? Very likely. But if lower medical costs are a priority, then you do what you need to do. Comes down to priorities and anything else is absolute hogwash. Insult me all you want but it's totally true. The only people who CAN'T get insurance are those who are physically or mentally incapable--and I'm sure they are receiving some sort of state/federal care.

DMoney

I'm not on a high horse because I have insurance. If I am, I'm up on that horse with the majority of Americans and nearly 100% of Americans who take health costs seriously. And there's plenty of room on this horse for anyone who wants to make it a priority.

Jobaba

It is also in smaller less powerful countries than ours. Little Taiwan did it. Getting rid of insurance companies is not radical. It is the only way to proceed. How can people be so afraid to give up the crumbs that they have? And they complain everyday about rising healthcare costs, yet they are afraid of the "New", and "Change". Start being informed instead of afraid like Lowry.

DMoney

You lost me with supporting the idea of eliminating insurance and current healthcare plans. Many people are very happy with what they have. The government has no right to interfere.

oldhomey

We, sir, are the government, lest you have forgotten, and we as the government can step in and regulate business as needed.

DMoney

Using that idea, we the government in our infinite and united wisdom elected a reality show character as president.

DMoney

That said, we're most definitely not the government. This is a republic. Only powerful as we allow it to be.

capedcrusader

Reality show President. You at least got that one right.

oldhomey

Yes, with democracy you have to roll with the punches when the voters make bad choices. In this case, the election of Trump was not even my the majority of votes, which went to his opponent. Now Trump is trying to seed distrust in the public for the very government itself as he desperately tries to evade oversight of his past and present behavior and protect his future. We, the people, are the government, however, and we can monkey wrench his plans with our votes in 2020 as we did in 2018. I hope we do, but of course there is no guarantee it will turn out that way.

capedcrusader

Some people believe we are a plutocracy.

martian2

no Dmoney, wrong again, we did not vote for the reality tv idiot. The electoral college voted him in. the majority of the people's vote went to Hillary. Just a little fact you right wingers often ignore.

DMoney

Precisely why we the people are not the government. This isn't a democracy it's a republic. And in this republic, there won't be any state run healthcare. It will not happen. Too much money involved and votes are not going to change that.

PhysicsIsFun

How is it that every other country comparable to the USA has some version of a National Health Plan? What happened to "American Exceptionalism"? Maybe if we had a rational discussion on what is really important for our country and its future we could start heading in the right direction. If our government was about solutions rather than controversy. Well we can dream can't we.

DMoney

Throughout history, and with no exceptions, private industry has performed better than government when offering comparative services. For me, it's about the federal government running such a massive, important, and expensive program. They've never proven they can handle it. If we ARE going to have some form of universal program, it must be driven by the private sector.

PhysicsIsFun

Well I hate to disagree with you, but when you say there are no exceptions I think that is a stretch. I am not going to list the many things that government does better than private industry. I have worked in industry as an engineer and as a public school teacher. I think that public schools in general do much better than for profit schools. As a teacher I was far more concerned with the outcomes and the inputs than I ever was as an engineer. Capitalism is fine if it is properly regulated by government. I think that your bias is showing.

DMoney

Public schools in no way whatsoever perform better than private schools.

Name a single service with public and private presence in which public outperforms?

PhysicsIsFun

There is no evidence to support your contention that private schools do better than public schools. Also notice I said "for profit schools" not private schools, but I stand by the broader statement. You can cherry pick the data but if you eliminate variables such as family income and zip code public schools do better.

oldhomey

Hmm. Has private industry done a better job of providing basic safety nets for the elderly than private business? Would you think things like traffic control on our streets and operating the sewage removal under them would be better served to opening those services to bidding by private enterprise? How about doing away with municipal police and fire protection and let private companies replace them, perhaps with a "fee for service" system of payment? The possibilities are probably endless, D, and I invite you and other posters here to think of other private enterprise efficiency improvements we could look forward to if only market forces could replace most of our government functions.

DMoney

Absolutely, to all. I'd love to pay for use of any services. I think privatization would be an improvement in any of those areas. IRS should be Privitized. EPA privatized. Can't think of much other than ground combat branch of military. But military logistics/support? Privatized.

oldhomey

My, it is so stirring to see a brilliant mind at work, like D's. I don't want to minimize what he has said here, but some of it represent ideas that have been around for many years, like privatizing military logistics and support. There is an excellent model of it in the novel Catch-22, when Milo Minderbinder applies free market thinking to supplying an actively engaged combat unit. It made tons of money!

Lets consider some other excellent options of privatizing government services: a private company wins the contract to build and maintain sewer services for the city. The nice neighborhoods pay their fair share, but the poor neighborhoods can't keep up with the costs. So the company lets the maintenance and installation of sewer services in those neighborhoods go to ruin, slowly, and slowly we begin to see a community-wide rise in water-born illnesses that know no boundaries of bad and good neighborhoods.

A for-profit company wins the contract to administer and run the Internal Revenue Service. Perhaps there should be an incentive clause in the contract to assure the private IRS agents will actively pursue uncollected tax income. Pretty soon we see a rise in the numbers of very small potatoes tax payers being referred to the criminal justice system for non-payment, late-payment or partial-payment issues, while extremely rich people never seem to get audited, or, if they do, always seem to avoid the noose after being visited by high end tax lawyers. Pretty soon the general public begins to wonder if the whole tax system is rigged, with good reason, a situation that certainly will contribute to political comity, right, D?

We already have seen what happens when you turn the Environmental Protection Agency into and adjunct of pollution industries, as Trump has done. You really have hit on something, D, that will engender even more faith and trust in a government that works for all people. At least for all people with money.

martian2

I think Dmoney has revealed his true died in the wool far right wing ideology. His talking points are straight from talk radio and the tea party republican platform, along with fox news channel. Your talking points bear little truth when stood along side with factual reality. Your statement of privatizing shows the extremism that only the uneducated and ill informed would spew. Our government does a fine job with everything from safe transportation to making our food and meds safe along with certifying professionals in many fields of science and health, to providing national security....the list goes on and on. I didn't say they are perfect, but they are something to be thankful for. I might say to you what many right wingers would say when they hear people whine and complain, if you don't like then move to another country. But I am not going to say that. this country belongs to all of us, and together and through a thoughtful dialogue, we can continue to make it better.

capedcrusader

Sure they can. They did just fine with Social Security, Medicare, and the United States Postal Service. The worst thing we could do is follow the Republicans advice and privatize any of that.

DMoney

What??? USPS? Dumpster fire. Social security? What social security if you are millennial or younger?

oldhomey

The postal service got caught by social media much like the news media did, D, knocking the skids of its most profitable business from under it, causing grievous harm not because of inefficiencies or ineptness, but lack of income. Fortunately for the postal service, online shopping has been its salvation, making it into a very viable, competitive delivery service, and it is doing just that.

You seem convinced that Social Security is doomed. I have said before it could be saved by two simple steps, taxing retirement income of relatively well-off middle class retirees such as myself, and eliminating the ceiling on income from which no more SS tax can be collected. I believe the ceiling is around $128,000 and above. But you bow to people who have big bucks, believing them to be unassailable in their powers, so I guess you do not want to exert political will to overcome these hurdles so that you can feel more secure in getting Social Security. By the way, it might help, too, if we adopted a sane, fair immigration policy that would allow immigrant workers to come here and work openly, contributing a share of their income into SS, too. But Donald Trump does not want that, and he is rich, powerful, and supports the one issue you care most about, anti-abortion. So I guess I know where you stand on that, too.

DMoney

The postal service has been getting absolutely routed by FedEx/UPS (and soon to be Amazon) for years. Because they are far more efficient, far more motivated, far more agile, far more dynamic and attract far more talent.

Regarding social security--so the only fixes are to skrew over the millions who fairly paid in their entire lives OR have other people pay disproportionately to what they will receive? I wonder how many other middle class retirees would feel about a new tax on their hard earned lifelong savings? Why can't opting out be an option? They can even keep the money I've paid in already.

martian2

Wonder how much Lowry got paid to write this column on behalf of insurance companies. He is one of those types who only looks at one side of a problem and looks for any negatives to stop any initiatives in solving it. He offers lots of criticisms, but not one idea to help solve our health insurance dilemma. Perhaps he is one of those die hard trumpsters who is willing to wait till h*ell freezes over for Trump's cheaper and better health care solution. As if that is gonna happen.

The Mouse of Death

[alien]It would behoove us to realize that corporate welfare for all is a pipe dream. We are indeed bemezzled by the trillions of corporate welfare dollars so brazenly stolen away from impoverished billionaires which is so unfair, covfefe and sad.

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