President Bush on Healthcare

OK, in my last post, I supported what George Dubyah Bush proposed doing about Global Warming and Energy Independence.

Now let us take out the magnifying glass and look closely at what our President proposes we do about the health care problem.

(See here) George Dubyahs 2007 State of the Union address where he briefly mentions the issue.

My first impression? Nope, nope, nope. No way. Nothing doing. Over my dead body.

George Dubyah Bush is going to solve this problem with another round of tax cuts. Evidently Dubyah has never had a tax cut suggested that he didn't like. Dubyah thinks about the problem and decides cutting taxes is sure to be the solution once again.

Did anyone notice that Dubyah had as a goal balancing the budget in 5 years? He claims he can do this while still saving Social Security (he actually said this). So how does he propose going about doing this? Is it any surprise he points to another tax cut?

Let us examine this. Let us examine your own household budget. You have to pay the rent (or mortgage), pay the heating bill, pay for water, food, etc etc. Is the answer to your problem to work fewer hours and come up with less income?

I am not quite sure, but Dubyah seemed to be proposing limiting taxes on the first $15,000 of all American families(for single income families or singles, $7,500) from income and payroll taxes to pay for health coverage. Go read it for yourself. In other words, he is going to rob Peter to pay Paul. "Payroll taxes" is that portion of the taxes you pay that go towards Social Security benefits for the elderly. We are already facing the "Baby Boom" generation problem and Dubyah seems to think by making the problem worse (less income to meet increasing outgo) we can somehow solve the problem. George Dubyah Bush proposes "saving" Social Security by cutting off the funding for it.

I am dead set against Dubyah's proposal for dealing with the health care issue. I am in favor of coming up with a health care solution. Some aspects of what our President proposes is interesting and might actually work. However, our President, to get his way, would have to come up with real TAX INCREASES to pay for what he proposes. He can't just once again plop down the charge card to solve his problem.

No free lunch. Solving the health care problem is going to be expensive. Someone needs to slap Dubyah upside the head and tell him to wake up. Tax cuts might win him a few votes, but most of us are starting to catch on.


Blogger Lethal_Poison said...

In reality, solving the healthcare problem would be no more expensive then what we are spending now.

The US spends 134% more on healthcare then the average industrial country, yet has pitiful results to show for it.

The fat is in the system, it just needs to be cut out.

2/01/2007 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Lethal_Poison said...

134% per person that is.

2/01/2007 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Little David said...

I do not know what the answer is to the health care problem is.

I do know that our present answer, which is that the wealthy get everything and the poor get little or nothing, is not the answer.

My real concern is that once we open the floodgates to healthcare through socialized medicine, all the poor will demand the same level of care that the wealthy receive. We can not afford that.

At one point or another, those who are afflicted with terminable diseases whether through old age or otherwise, are going to have to accept they are going to die. Nobody wants to accept death and everyone expects society to expend every last dime to save them.

Look, wealthy people are willing to squander large portions of their wealth when afflicted with life threatening diseases to give themselves one additional gasp of life. They are willing to expend their own wealth in this pursuit. If we open the flood gates to every poor person to the same rights, one additional gasp no matter what the cost, we are going to be overcome with the costs.

Somewhere along the line we are going to have to tell these people we can no longer, as a society, afford to continue their life support. Medical science keeps on coming up with new and more expensive ways to prolong lives. However we as a society can not continue to foot the bill for all the ways medical science dreams up to prolong life.

This is indeed a complicated issue. But unrestrained medical costs for every citizen is not the answer to the ballooning medical costs we as a society experience.

2/01/2007 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I think that at the end of the day, the US will need to have universal health care like every other industrialised country (the US and South Africa are the only outliers and neither have a particularly good / efficient / equitable health care system).

It will be expensive up front, but I think that the US as a nation must consider it as an investment. The savings just from administrative costs from the current multi-headed hydra that is your private health insurance system would make it worthwhile.

The thing to understand is that with health care socialised (that is, where the government "pays the bill"), the government (i.e., the people) also has much greater say on how health care should be run.

At the present, I believe that your government has an interesting conflict of interest. At one level, it wants to provide quality health to its citizens. At the other level, it is extensively lobbied by industrial groups (i.e., big-pharma, private health insurance industry, etc.) On any number of policies, it is clear on who has more influence.

When it is the government who pays for a large proportion of the nations health, a number of innate changes occur. It is now in the government's direct financial interests to lobby for cheaper drugs and cheaper medical equipment from the industry. It is now in the government's direct financial interests to streamline health administration. It is now in the government's direct financial interests to reduce duplication and redundancy. It is now in the government's direct financial interests to provide quality and accessible primary health care (so to avoid people going to ED or presenting late when their therapy will be much more expensive).

By controlling the health pursestrings of the nation, the government is in a much better position of controlling the cost of health in total.

There is no reason why people can't still have private health insurance in a socialised system (e.g., in Australia). However, it does mean that the private system must compete with the public system - i.e., a private insurer must convince the average person of WHY it is better to pay a premium for their health care.

Considering the expenses in the War in Iraq, a change for the US to a universal health care system would be a relative drop in the ocean. Furthermore, not only would it bring the US quality of health care back towards international parity, there are very likely significant health care savings over the medium to long term.


2/03/2007 05:04:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...


Pointing to the costs of the Iraq War is invalid. First, we are not actually currently paying for these costs, we just borrow additional money to cover the expense. Second, hopefully at least, the costs of the war will not continue into eternity.

I am intrigued by the Australian model, at least what little I know about it which all comes from comments from you.

What intrigues me most is that evidently the Australian model continues to motivate bright young individuals, such as yourself, to take up a medical career within such a system.

Do not think I am engaging in warrantless praise. One of my concerns is that whatever system America adopts (and we are going to have to do something) is going to have to continue to offer enough rewards to motivate promising individuals to go through the difficult process required to become Medical Doctors and even Registered Nurses.

Our system will still need to motivate some of the "best and brightest" to take up a medical occupation. We can not expect every Medical Doctor to be Mother Theresa, since most of them are going to be "simply human". If there is no economic reward at the end of the difficult course of study, why not just study for a career in Wall Street?

2/03/2007 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Even moving into a socialised system, I do not think that your concerns are a problem.

Look at the Scandanavia countries - socialism supreme, but also one of the best health care systems in the world.

In terms of costs and the Iraq war, there is nothing invalid about it. Regardless of where the money comes from, your country is spending it (and frankly, all Americans should be rather concerned at the moment at the size of your foreign debt). In any case, my point is that a radical overhaul to the US health system isn't actually that expensive when compared to the black hole that is the Iraq war and will SAVE money in the longer term.


2/03/2007 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Little David said...

I am going to quibble a little bit, I'll try to stick to the "little" adjective.

Norway, a Scandanavian country, only remains afloat due to its oil wealth. Analysis I have seen of the Norwegian model showed it would be awash in red ink if not for the oil revenue.

However, from what I do understand, Sweden does serve as a fine example of a socialist country.

However, I am not sure the Swedish model would work in America. For that matter, I am not sure the Swedish model can even continue successfully, longterm, in Sweden along with integration into the EU.

America has tried in the past to become more "benevolent" (such as with Lyndon B Johnson's Great Society) only to find it motivated people to get on the dole. Why bother and go out and get an actual job where you have to work if society is going to pay all your bills for you while you sit on your butt watching TV all day?

I am amazed at how well things seem to work in Sweden. From America's experience with things, Sweden should be falling flat on their face, however it is difficult to argue with success. Perhaps it is something in the water up there? Or - and please don't get too bent out of shape on this one as it is said at least half in jest - perhaps blonde haired, blue eyed people really are genetically superior?

2/05/2007 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Sweden is certainly heavily socialised but I think perhaps you have lived with the capitalist dogma and fatalism a little bit too long.

As before, the United States is not the norm when it comes to health care. It is the outlier. One can consider the US as the big privatised health care experiment, and it has failed.

Every other Western nation has basic universal coverage where the government is the payer. Depending on the country, there may or may not be a mix of privatised health care as well which provides "value added" services. It is no accident that just about every other Westernised nation has superior health care parameters to the United States AND does it with much less money.

As an outsider looking in, the US health system is seriously screwed up. In Australia, the very concept that you could become bankrupt from medical payments is absurd!


2/10/2007 06:18:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

I agree with you that the American system of medical care needs to change. I am not yet sure of where the changes need to take us.

I do know that one of the things that give socialized medicine such a bad name in America is our neighbor to the north's experience with it. Canada seems to be backtracking from a pure socialized system to where some additional private care might be allowed because supply can not keep up with demand. The opponents of socialized medicine point to this as proof that socialized medicine does not work.

However, from what I hear of the Australian model from you, it does sound extremely interesting. Perhaps the Canadian system is only maturing towards something closer to the Australian model.

Certainly I do wish that opponents of socialized medicine would examine the Australian medical care system with a critical eye and report back to the American people what they have found. While I find your description to be appealing, I would not want to make up my mind based only only a single source description.

I will state that you do seem to provide proof that socialized medicine can continue to attract bright individuals into medical care. This is one of my concerns about changes in our system. Our system already has trouble attracting enough people to take up medical related occupations such as becoming a registered nurse.

2/11/2007 05:44:00 PM  

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