Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inadvertantly Correct Headline: Sacrifice Jobs for Obamacare

In a most inadvertantly correct Headline award:

"Pelosi: Lawmakers Should Sacrifice Jobs for Health Care"

Because it is certain that if we pass Obamacare, we will sacrifice a LOT of jobs in this country. Not just the democrats in congress who should be fired for their incompetence.

But for Pelosi and the democrats, it's all about them, not about what havoc they will wreak on the rest of us:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged her colleagues to back a major overhaul of U.S. health care even if it threatens their political careers, a call to arms that underscores the issue's massive role in this election year.

Lawmakers sometimes must enact policies that, even if unpopular at the moment, will help the public, Pelosi said in an interview being broadcast Sunday the ABC News program "This Week.""We're not here just to self-perpetuate our service in Congress," she said. "We're here to do the job for the American people."

More like doing A JOB on the American people. But if we are lucky, they'll fail to pass this monstrosity, and still lose their jobs in November.

Bipartisans agree, Pelosi is an idiot.

At least, by her definition of bipartisan, which apparently has nothing to do with two parties working together. From the Hill:

"Bipartisanship is a two-way street. A bill can be bipartisan without bipartisan votes. Republicans have left their imprint."

The public option, for example, has been stripped from the bill because Republicans were so adamantly against it, she said.

Actually, the public option was never in Reid's Senate bill, because the 60 DEMOCRATS in the Senate didn't want it. The house has never removed a single thing from a bill because of the objection of republicans only -- there's no need, unless the republicans get democrats to join them in bipartisan DISAGREEMENT.

But for Pelosi, the mere fact that Republicans have said they hate the bill would make the bill "bipartisan". Of course, she lives in a fantasy world were people will LOVE health care once it is passed:

"When the public sees what is in this bill...when we show them what the priorities are and what it's been boiled down to, what it means to them sitting around their kitchen table rather than us sitting around a table at Blair House, the response will be positive," Pelosi said.

In other words, the problem is that the great communicator, having made 400+ speeches, simply hasn't done enough to let people know what is in the bill. Or more accurately, that the american people are just too stupid to know what is good for them. John McCain rightly denounces that belief:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on "Meet the Press" that Americans are much better informed about the healthcare plan and reiterated the GOP platform that the process should be started from scratch.

To show how deluded Pelosi is, here is what she claims the health bill is about:

Pelosi outlined the top priorities for the legislation: affordability for the middle class, accountability of insurance companies and accessibility for more people.

But the bill will raise health care spending, raise the cost of health care coverage for individuals in the middle class, and will require huge government subsidies for people to pay for their own care. It forces everybody to buy insurance, making insurers LESS accountable because they won't have to compete for business. After taxing people for all sorts of health care purchases, and for having too much insurance, accessability will be the least of our problems.

THere is bipartisan opposition in the house to this bill. There is widespread bipartisan public opposition to this bill. Polls show americans of all political persuasions want congress to stop the charade, and put together a bill that will actually help people get better health care.

ObamaCare in a nutshell

Obamacare is all about forcing people to pay more for insurance they don't need, so the government can tell everybody what health care they should get.

Nothing is better at illustrating this principle of Obamacare than Obama's own bizarre story of his ignorance over car insurance. From the Thursday Health Care Obama-Talk-Fest:

When I was young, just got out of college, I had to buy auto insurance. I had a beat-up old car. And I won’t name the name of the insurance company, but there was a company — let’s call it Acme Insurance in Illinois. And I was paying my premiums every month. After about six months I got rear-ended and I called up Acme and said, I’d like to see if I can get my car repaired, and they laughed at me over the phone because really this was set up not to actually provide insurance; what it was set up was to meet the legal requirements. But it really wasn’t serious insurance.

Now, it’s one thing if you’ve got an old beat-up car that you can’t get fixed. It’s another thing if your kid is sick, or you’ve got breast cancer.

Now, there's all sorts of lessons here. Like why was Obama paying monthly payments for insurance, instead of 6 month or yearly payments? Or why he would buy insurance that wasn't really insurance, or why he didn't know that the legal requirements would only be for liability coverage. Or that if someone hits your car, you are supposed to call THEIR insurance company.

But the real lesson is this. The guy bought what, by his own admission, was a "beat up old car". No doubt, if he had bought collision, his deductable would be higher than the value of the car. Probably he was lucky not to have collision insurance, since it would never pay off on his clunker.

But Obama's message was this: "Now, it’s one thing if you’ve got an old beat-up car that you can’t get fixed. It’s another thing if your kid is sick, or you’ve got breast cancer." In other words, he is saying that he was stupid not to have collision insurance that wouldn't really pay off, and that someone should have forced him to buy useless insurance, just like they forced him to buy liability insurance.

And likewise, Obamacare will force us to buy insurance we don't need, like coverage for your sick child when you don't have children, or coverage for breast reconstruction for men.

House operations are "A Mystery"

Remember how the Democrats promised that they would run the House with such transparency that nobody would ever be surprised by something in a bill anymore? 72 hours of public viewing before they voted on anything? Remember the promises?

Thursday, the House was taking up what should have been a fairly routine intelligence bill (routine except that it was months late). Well, it shows up on the house floor, all ready to vote on, but with nobody apparently having read it yet. And what do we find in the bill? A provision to criminalize the intelligence service.

As told by the washington posts castoffs, the Politico:

“It’s a mystery how that language got in there,” Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said of the controversial intelligence bill provision backed by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). “I think there are a lot of issues about the drafting of the McDermott amendment.”

A Mystery? You send a bill through the committee, where there are public hearings, and a public vote on each item in the bill. When done, the committee holds a final vote, and the bill comes to the floor of the house.

On the floor of the house, members offer up amendments, each of which are read by the clerk, debated, and voted on. After all amendments are voted on, there is a final vote on the bill.

So how could any words in the bill be "a mystery"? How could the former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee have no idea how a clause criminalizing interrogation made it into an intelligence bill?

The answer is simple -- Under democratic rule, the house no longer works as a democratic body. Instead, backroom deals, ignoring the rules, bills written in secret and voted on without any public hearing -- that's the norm. I'm sure Pelosi would skip the whole voting thing if she could figure out whether the media would go along with it.

Hopefully, the people are getting tired of the dictatorial, elitist leadership of the house and senate. We will have to suffer for a few more months, but come November, the people can have their congress back. Our brief dark night can end, and a new day dawn.

Sure, we'll still be stuck with an incompetent socialist President, but he's pretty much demonstrated that, apart from lying, he's not really committed to anything.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pre-existing conditions in a nutshell

With all the talk about pre-existing conditions in health care, it's important to understand what exactly we are talking about.

There are actually two separate issues that are interchangeably discussed as "pre-existing conditions", and since they are very different, and have different solutions, it confuses a lot of people.

The first is an actual "pre-existing-condition". Meaning I have a chronic disease, for which there is a known cost of treatment. I then go to an insurance company, and ask to be insured. If they cover the condition I already have, and if my payments don't include the total cost of the known treatment for the chronic disease, the insurance company is being stupid. "I'll pay you $20 if you give me back $30" is not a viable business strategy.

Now, a lot of people want to be able to force insurance companies to cover such pre-existing conditions, because they don't think of insurance as insurance, but rather as a pre-paid medical debit card. Imagine though going to a car insurance company and asking for a policy for the car you just crashed. Or to State Farm to ask them for a homeowner's policy for your house that is underwater because of a flood?

Oh, sometimes people do this -- it's called insurance fraud, and we put people in jail for it. But for some reason, we want insurance companies to take less money than they KNOW it will cost to provide care. And the insurance companies are actually on board -- so long as we also force healthy people to pay the same insurance premiums. So under this new system, a person who the insurance company knows will cost $500,000 over the next 10 years pays $100,000, while 10 other people who are most certainly only going to cost $50,000 average also pay $100,000, and it all works out.

Except that the 10 people who don't need coverage are forced to get it, and are forced to pay way more than what that coverage is worth. We tax the healthy to treat the sick.

OK, the 2nd "pre-existing-condition" is not an actual illness, but rather the propensity for the need of treatment. Really, this is a "risk" issue. Maybe it's a genetic marker which indicates a greater risk of illness. Or you had one disease, which makes it likely you could get another. You had a heart attack, so you could have more heart attacks. You had a transplant, so now you are compromised and likely to get sick. You have high blood pressure, so it might lead to other problems.

In these cases, the insurance company doesn't have a known cost of putting you on their books, but they know that if they take 10 people like you, it will cost them say twice as much as 10 people who are NOT like you. In the real world of insurance, you and the other 9 like you would pay twice as much in premiums as the other 10, and you would still come out ahead if you got sick, because your cost of treatment would be spread across others with similar changes of illness.

Now, in one sense, the 1st case is just the logical end-point of the 2nd, where the "risk probability" is 100 percent. most risks probabilities don't come close to certainty, and how we handle risk pools is a fundamentally different problem than how we handle known costs.

Of course, on Thursday the democrats attacked the idea of having "risk pools" for medical insurance. I'm betting though that they would be the first to say that smokers should have to pay more for coverage than non-smokers. I'm betting that because it isn't a "probability", it is a pre-existing condition.

Meaning: Democrats have already put large taxes on tobacco, to cover the "increased risk of medical treatment" needed by smokers. The state offers "health insurance", and they collect taxes to pay for it, and they add taxes to things that they think will make the health care the state pays for cost more. Democrats are also pushing to tax candy and soda, because those two lead to higher medical costs.

But apparently, if an insurance company wants to charge a person more because that person is likely to cost more, they are being evil.

Decent explanation of risk pools.

From a National Review post:

If your car gets vandalized, it’s not your fault, but your insurance company may suspect you’re parking in a neighborhood prone to crime. You thus might see your premium rise upon renewal. The same logic applies to home insurance. Undoubtedly, this can mean that people in lower-income neighborhoods face relatively higher risk premiums than those in posh suburbs. Life insurance applications ask dozens of questions designed to assess how great a risk you pose. This means a missionary who travels to poor countries to help the destitute is likely to be identified as a risk taker and pay a penalty for living a life of good works. It’s not existentially fair, perhaps, but it’s not discrimination based on malice either.

The reference also has a description of how the private markets are handling the pre-existing condition problem, and how government could help without taking over and destroying the health care system.

Stupid Argument for Using Reconciliation

Of all the arguments one could make for using reconciliation for the health care bill, the Democrat argument is the stupidest, most self-supporting argument one could make.

Realise that reconciliation itself is not a "nuclear option", or even a bad thing. Reconciliation is a specific part of the rules of the senate, and is perfectly valid to use in it's intended application. So saying that "Republicans used reconciliation" is a pretty stupid argument -- it's like claiming "Republicans passed bills with 50 votes, so we shouldn't be allowed to filibuster judges" -- it's apples and oranges.

Reconciliation is for passing bills that implement financial aspects of an already-passed budget agreement. The intention is for the senate to not get bogged down debating and blocking implementation of taxes or spending changes that have already been through the process during the budget debate.

So reconciliation is often used as an omnibus legislation, to implement the budget.

But the health care bill isn't a budget item. Sure, parts of it include budget items, like new taxes, and restricting money for medicare. But things like changing the rules for medicare advantage, creating new regulations, and the like are certainly not budget monetary items.

And what is more clear is that reconciliation has never before been suggested as a way to amend existing non-reconciliation legislation, before that legislation has been completed. In this case, they have competing bills between the house and senate, for which they can't find a common bill that gets a majority in the house and passes filibuster in the senate. This is hardly the first time this has happened -- in fact, it happens all the time.

The normal procedure is to go back to the drawing board, and find some other way to get everybody on board. Instead, since the democrats can't amend the current bill with the support of 60 senators, they want to pass the bill with a PROMISE that they will amend it by using budget rules. There were Senators like Webb who said they voted on the bill to MOVE THE PROCESS FORWARD, "knowing" that if the house democrats screwed around with the bill, they could vote against it when it came back and still stop it. Now they are being told "too bad, we lied to get your vote, and now we don't need it anymore".


But that isn't the stupidest argument. The stupidest argument is the one many democrats are using, that "reconciliation is a horrible way to do this, and it's only a 'last resort' if we can't pass the bill any other way".

That argument is essentially saying : If we can get 60 votes, that's what we will get, and we will only pass the bill with fewer than 60 votes if we get fewer than 60 votes".

Which I hope you can now see is a stupid argument. It's like saying "We'll go to the restaurant you choose, so long as you choose the one I like, otherwise we'll go to the one I like." Or, calling a coin flip by saying "you can have heads, unless the coin comes up heads, and then I get heads".

Here is an actual example, Ben Nelson: "[reconciliation is] my least favorite way to do something. It’s only after everything else fails, when there’s obstruction going on,” Nelson said.

Well, a filibuster is obstruction. And failing to break a filibuster is "everything else failing". So his argument is "reconciliation is to use if someone tries to filibuster and we can't break the filibuster". If true, then no filibuster would ever work against the majority.