Farr, Eshoo remain committed to public insurance option

Both congressional representatives from the Monterey Bay Area remain convinced any health care reform must include a public insurance option. Full Story
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James Anderson Merritt

Fairfield, CA

#1 Aug 20, 2009
The so-called "public option" is just "government insurance" (soon to become "government health care") by another name.

The government would do the people a service to grease the skids for true competition and innovation in health care. Instead, the "preferred approach" is to make the poor dependent on the government for health care, and to compete with private sector unfairly (since governments can and do run at deficits for indefinite periods). Opposition to this power grab is criticized as disloyalty to the President, his party, or even America.

People fear the high cost of health care, and being without insurance to mitigate personal expense. In a true free-market approach, you wouldn't necessarily have or need insurance, because the aforementioned market forces would push prices down as low as they could go, so that average people could afford health care in cash, or at least finance that as they do other pricey things in their lives.

People often express a desire to see prices hold steady. But in fact, the normal workings of the market are to push prices ever lower. If they hold steady, it is because there just isn't any way to make them go lower, or because someone is inflating the money supply. The personal computer market is an astounding example of the phenomenon. It manages to consistently push prices lower DESPITE some pretty healthy inflation over the years. The $300 laptop you can buy today wasn't even possible in the late 1970s, but it it were, you would have paid only $97 for it. The original (pre-Mac) Apple computer sold for $700 in late 1970s dollars. For one seventh the price, you get thousands or MILLIONS of times the computing resources today than you got back then. Health care is a different field, of course, but it also can use technological innovation and marketplace competition to improve outcomes and lower costs. If the market forces won't work as spectacularly well with health care as they have with computers and other high-tech goods, they will nevertheless work to a greater extent than longstanding regulation and government interference have allowed them to do so far.
Frank

Brentwood, CA

#2 Aug 20, 2009
Of course Farr and Eshoo remain committed to the public option. Their near future political careers depend on it. Their personal beliefs are probably very different.
Realistic

Fairfield, CA

#4 Aug 20, 2009
A government run insurance plan will be a disaster. I agree the government can't run a program of this size. It will be very costly and poorly ran.Please do not fall for this. Where is all the money going to come from? Who will pay for it, I guarantee it won't be people making over $250K. The middle class will be paying not only higher deductibles, if they have private insurance and higher taxes to pay for the government program.
Arrogance of Power

Santa Cruz, CA

#5 Aug 20, 2009
These career politicians are the epitome of arrogance.

If you write to them, they respond that you are "opposed" to health care reform, even if you aren't fully opposed to reform. They send canned letters, and they launch into a sales pitch that demeans the employer/constituent.

I am never going to vote for Eshoo again. Farr is from the same mold, and when I lived in his district learned that he was part of the problem as well.

Eshoo is such a coward, she is not even having any public town hall meetings. What a tool she is.
skeptical

Watsonville, CA

#7 Aug 20, 2009
If a public option were put in it would dump about million people into the market. Where would the doctors come from to treat these people? Who is going to pay? What is it going to do to the public debt.

Come on Sam and Anna. Get your heads screwed on straight. Your old my way or the highway isn't going to work this time. People have been paying attention and they are not happy with what they have been seeing.
skeptical

Watsonville, CA

#8 Aug 20, 2009
Make that 45 million people.

Since: Feb 08

Santa Cruz

#9 Aug 20, 2009
In this case it is all too obvious that the emperor doesn't have any clothes on even though Omamba and his minions want us to believe that this is actually going to give us better health care while costing less. Can he turn water into wine as well?
John

Santa Cruz, CA

#10 Aug 20, 2009
Grrr Farr and Eshoo you two make me so angry! How DARE you voice opinions in line with a clear majority of your constituents! How DARE you vouch for the benefits of a public health insurance option like Medicare with lower overhead costs and higher satisfaction!

FARR

ESHOO

I REFUSE TO GO ALONG WITH YOUR LIES. You two have not heard the last from me and my BOLD WICKED FURY.

*angrily types message on the internet, then goes to bed*
John

Santa Cruz, CA

#11 Aug 20, 2009
"Omamba". Really? "Omamba"?

Do you actively try to sound racist or is that just how it works out for you.
vote buying

Santa Rosa, CA

#12 Aug 20, 2009
It's all it's about. The public option or whatever they end up calling it is just a way to get more people dependent on government freebies. The democrats have successfully carried the elderly vote for some time by scaring them into thinking the Republicans are going to "cut" their Social Security. Even when the cuts are only really smaller increases than the Dems propose. If they get health care "reform" through, they will have a new and larger set of people they can scare into voting for them.

Since: May 08

Danville, CA

#13 Aug 21, 2009
So there aren't enough doctors to go around if this goes through, let them suffer...? Are you kidding! Go back to where you came from! All those going postal at the town halls are grey haired recipients of government health care..HYPOCRITES!!!! Half the money spent on health care goes to cover the medically indigent that clog our emergency rooms-but hey, it aint broke. Seniors jump the border to save on prescriptions-but hey, it aint broke! Monterey and Santa Cruz don't even have a trauma center but hey, it aint broke! You can't even be a member of an HMO if you reside in Monterey County but hey, it aint broke. If the government returned all the monies they misappropriated plus interest, Social Security would be solvent. SS is a public mandate that was stolen from!
Obombi

Santa Cruz, CA

#14 Aug 21, 2009
John wrote:
"Omamba". Really? "Omamba"?
Do you actively try to sound racist or is that just how it works out for you.
It's really "Obombi" then you make a couple of guttural clicks with your throat and smack your lips together. One must be ethnically sensitive and proper.

SOCIALISM
Mans Man

Santa Cruz, CA

#15 Aug 21, 2009
Soylent Green wrote:
So there aren't enough doctors to go around if this goes through, let them suffer...? Are you kidding! Go back to where you came from! All those going postal at the town halls are grey haired recipients of government health care..HYPOCRITES!!!! Half the money spent on health care goes to cover the medically indigent that clog our emergency rooms-but hey, it aint broke. Seniors jump the border to save on prescriptions-but hey, it aint broke! Monterey and Santa Cruz don't even have a trauma center but hey, it aint broke! You can't even be a member of an HMO if you reside in Monterey County but hey, it aint broke. If the government returned all the monies they misappropriated plus interest, Social Security would be solvent. SS is a public mandate that was stolen from!
Very well stated! For all you other idiots, just remember that private industry does not give a squat about your health. With any luck, many of you will be on the flip side some day and I just can't wait to hear your whining then.

“Where Did All the Money Go?”

Since: Sep 08

Ben Lomond, CA

#17 Aug 21, 2009
(Part 2 of 2)

The plan is supposedly self-sustaining (although Iím highly skeptical given the historical performance of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) with half the costs coming from new-found efficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid and the other half coming from a surtax on wealthy individuals making over $350,000. Iím skeptical of these new cost savings and why, if this is a nation-wide issue, are we taxing only wealthy taxpayers and corporations to cover the uninsured (other than they have more money and are a small enough minority that they cannot win in a fair election or, as corporations, cannot vote at all)? Is this $350,000 limit indexed to inflation or with this become another Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) that originally targeted at 155 taxpayers but ended up affecting a large percentage of taxpayers?

The "public option" will supposedly compete on an "even playing field" with private insurers. So where does the billions in start-up money come from to create this new, nation-wide public option, lease buildings, and hire new employees? Will the public option insurer pay state, local, and federal taxes? Are there effective "firewalls" in place so that taxpayers do not ultimately provide subsidies? Is there an expiration/renewal date on this experiment based on its success or failure or will this be a nationwide funding requirement into perpetuity?

I really like the concept of the "health insurance exchange" in HR 3200. I would love to see a portable policy with guaranteed coverage, uniform coverage requirements and limits, and uniform paperwork requirements where insurance companies from around the country (and the world?) can compete for customers. You want competition right? Well let the free-enterprise system work for you! Remove some of the interstate commerce restrictions on private insurance companies while maintaining firm oversight.

Do we need intelligent, thoughtful action on health care? YES! Is HR 3200, in its current form, the right answer? I donít think so.

Also, as full disclosure, here is a list of major contributors to Representatives Farr and Eshoo.

Sam Farr
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contri...

Anna Eshoo
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contri...

“Where Did All the Money Go?”

Since: Sep 08

Ben Lomond, CA

#20 Aug 21, 2009
Mans Man wrote:
<quoted text>
Very well stated! For all you other idiots, just remember that private industry does not give a squat about your health. With any luck, many of you will be on the flip side some day and I just can't wait to hear your whining then.
You're absolutely right. I never get casual letters from my insurance company--only bills. They never call, they never write. My elected officials however, who apparently love me very, very much, call and write all the time (although they're always asking for money).

Do you really think that self-interest is the sole domain of private business?
Inquiring mind

United States

#21 Aug 21, 2009
I demand my free taxpayer supported government socialist health care! It's my right and I am entitled to free health care paid for by rich greedy people and corporations! Obama said it is the greedy insurance companies. Last month it was the greedy financial institutions and the month befor it was AIG! I'v been educated in the university indoctrination of Marxist Socialism and Sal Alinsky and Karl Marx are my idols! I demand my free rationed government controlled health care. Obama promised!

“Where Did All the Money Go?”

Since: Sep 08

Ben Lomond, CA

#23 Aug 21, 2009
(Part 2)

QUESTION: What is the Exchange?

ANSWER: The Exchange is an online clearinghouse for all insurance plans. To be part of it and compete for customers, an insurance plan must contain a basic minimum of benefits as determined by the Health Choices Commission, established in the legislation. Information on coverage and benefits must be clearly listed beside each plan in easy-to-understand language. The Exchange will bring together information that is currently scattered, giving consumers the opportunity to make informed decisions about what plan works best for them.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: This is a good idea. I hope that it also includes removing barriers to interstate commerce now imposed by the federal and state governments, allowing free-enterprise to bring about positive change.

========

QUESTION: Will the legislation require me to join the public plan if I lose my private coverage?

ANSWER: No one will be required to join the public plan. If you lose your insurance, you will be able to shop for a new plan in the Exchange and determine which plan best suits you and your familyís needs.

========

QUESTION: Are Members of Congress exempt from changes that are being proposed for the rest of the country?

ANSWER: No. Members of Congress receive the same healthcare options as all federal employees, with a choice of private plans that vary by benefits and cost, as well as the public option.

========

QUESTION: What if I canít afford to purchase health insurance? Wonít it be mandatory under H.R. 3200?

ANSWER: Every American will be required to have health coverage. Medicare recipients will continue to receive Medicare benefits, as will those receiving TRICARE and VA benefits. The lowest income Americans will continue to receive Medicaid benefits. Those Americans who earn up to 400% of the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of 4) will receive affordability credits to help them purchase insurance on a sliding scale. Those closest to the poverty level will earn the most, while those closest to 400% will earn the least.

========

QUESTION: Will the proposed legislation provide free healthcare to illegal immigrants?

ANSWER: No. Section 246 of H.R. 3200 explicitly prohibits the payment of affordability credits to anyone who is not lawfully in the United States.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: Technically true. However, the native-born children of illegal immigrants automatically become U.S. citizens and are eligible for coverage. There are an estimated 4 million U.S. citizen children (about 1% of the population) born to an undocumented parent. Similarly, undocumented immigrants will continue to receive federally-mandated but unreimbursed care under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Hispanic Center, there are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.(about 4% of the population) and 2.7 million in California alone (about 7-8% of the population).
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/d...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Medica...

========

QUESTION: Will abortion be covered in the new insurance plans?

ANSWER: The legislation contains no language that includes or excludes coverage of an abortion. The Health Choices Commission will determine what will be included in a minimum benefits package. These services will become the minimum set of benefits allowed in a health plan. Consumers will be able to choose a plan with additional services if they wish to, at a different price point.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: Personally, I would not like public funds to cover abortion on demand. If the government insists upon abortion coverage, then I would like similar funding to be available to "crisis pregnancy" centers to offer alternative solutions.

(End Part 2, See Part 3)

“Where Did All the Money Go?”

Since: Sep 08

Ben Lomond, CA

#24 Aug 21, 2009
(Part 3)

QUESTION: Will all small businesses be forced to provide coverage to their employees?

ANSWER: The bill exempts small businesses with a payroll of less than $250,000 from the requirement to provide health insurance for their workers. Businesses with payrolls above $250,000 that do not provide coverage will be charged a payroll tax that will gradually increase with the size of their payroll. The tax will start at 2% for payrolls above $250,000 and increase to a maximum of 8% for payrolls above $400,000, however, there are currently discussions to raise this exemption to $500,000. Proceeds from this tax will go to offset the cost of affordability credits for use in the Exchange. Small businesses that choose to offer insurance will receive tax credits to offset the cost of insurance.

========

QUESTION: What does this bill do to stop fraud and abuse in Medicare?

ANSWER: The legislation strengthens existing compliance and enforcement tools for Medicare, increases funding to support these efforts and creates new, tougher penalties for individuals who submit false claims to Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that for every $1 we invest in fighting waste, fraud, and abuse we will produce $1.75 in savings.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: Excellent. Others estimate that every $1 in fraud prevention could yield up to $10 in savings (but I respect the CBO's analysis). Currently, Medicare spends 0.2 cents ($0.002) of every $1 on fraud prevention. Under the current Medicare/Medicaid systems, there is an estimated $60 billion in fraud.

========

QUESTION: Can our country afford health insurance reform?

ANSWER: The cost of healthcare is rising exponentially, far outpacing that of inflation. We simply cannot afford to maintain the status quo. If we do nothing to curb healthcare costs, by 2019 we will be spending one out of every $5 dollars on healthcare. The longer we wait, the more it will cost to fix our broken healthcare system.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: I agree that we need to mend our ways. We are quickly driving ourselves to insolvency, and not just from health care.

Medicare and Medicaid spending is increasing far faster than the economy (our ability to pay for it). UNSUSTAINABLE!
http://perotcharts.com/category/medicare-and-...

The U.S. population is aging.
http://perotcharts.com/category/medicare-and-...

Medicare has a massive $55 TRILLION structural deficit (and growing).
http://perotcharts.com/category/medicare-and-...

Even the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifies health-care (and all government) spending as "unsustainable" and identifies it as a danger to the long-term fiscal well-being of the country (i.e., a clear and present danger). See pages 7-9.
http://www.gao.gov/financial/citizensguide200...

See also the "The Long-Term Projection Assumptions for Medicare and Aggregate National Health Expenditures"
http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/down...

I do not see how adding 47 million more people to an already insolvent Medicare system will reduce costs. Please convince me.

At some point, the MUST be one or more of the following ...

* An increase in Medicare taxes.
* A limit placed on treatments paid for my Medicare.
* An increase on the minimum age of coverage.

(End Part 3, See Part 4)

“Where Did All the Money Go?”

Since: Sep 08

Ben Lomond, CA

#25 Aug 21, 2009
(Part 4)

QUESTION: How much will this bill cost?

ANSWER: The CBOís latest estimates the cost to be $1.042 trillion over ten years. To pay for this, we addressing inefficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid and cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse in these programs will save $465 billion over the next ten years,$583 billion will have to be raised to cover the rest of the cost. A proposed 1.2% tax on the wealthiest income earners would help to pay this cost. The Senate is considering other ways to raise funds, and I expect to review a number of proposals prior to voting on the final bill. In addition to the above, implementation of health information technology for electronic records will save billions of dollars, and moving to generic forms of biologics is projected to save $10 billion over ten years.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: The Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis also estimates that there will be no significant savings from the current proposed HR3200 legislation, despite spending a $1 billion per page.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Analysis
http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10464/hr3...

Historically, governments have a poor track record of projecting future costs for a variety of innocent and not-so-innocent reasons.
http://www.cato.org/pubs/tbb/tbb-0309-17.pdf
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php...

If this health-care issue is truly a burden to be shared by all Americans, then why will the entire taxpayer cost of this legislation be borne by less than 3-4% of taxpayers, the ones that already pay the largest amount of taxes in absolute dollars and as a percentage of their income? Why are 96-97% of taxpayers isolated from the cost of this program? Could it be because a 3-4% minority can never win in an election?

========

QUESTION: Will this plan lead to rationing of care?

ANSWER: No. Healthcare decisions should be between a doctor and their patient. The legislation specifically forbids any studies or research from being used to either mandate or deny care to a patient. The legislation significantly increases research funding to gather data about what procedures are most effective in order to give doctors the best possible information when treating their patients.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: At some point, however, we will be forced to put a practical, upper limit on what we are publicly willing to spend to keep someone "alive". We cannot continue spending as we are currently. However, there should be no cap on what a private individual or group is willing to spend.

(End Part 4, See Part 5)

“Where Did All the Money Go?”

Since: Sep 08

Ben Lomond, CA

#26 Aug 21, 2009
(Part 5)

QUESTION: Why is this legislation being rushed through Congress?

ANSWER: The bill is not being rushed. I think itís long overdue. Teddy Roosevelt first proposed universal healthcare in 1912. President Harry Truman called for it in 1945. Former Representative John Dingell Sr. introduced a bill to provide universal healthcare in 1947 and his son, Representative John Dingell Jr., has reintroduced a bill every Congress since 1955, and it was supported by both President Obama and Senator McCain in the presidential campaign of 2008. This particular legislation has been crafted, reviewed and revised repeatedly since the 111th Congress began, and it continues to be changed to reflect the considerable input from those in the healthcare community and my constituents. This bill is not being rushed--it is long overdue.

Soquel by the Creek's Comment: While I understand the President's need to set a timetable for action with Congress, I believe it is disingenuous to say that the bill isn't being rushed.

Unlike Cap-and-Trade, the Stimulus Plan, TARP, and other recent "emergency" Congressional actions, it is true that HR 3200 is allowing time for proper public discourse.

On another topic, I've often seen highly-respected Teddy Roosevelt quoted in relation to health-care reform. Sure, it's true. However, Roosevelt's time was different, when there was NO safety net and the federal government was a miniscule fraction of today. If you read his speeches, you will also immediately recognize that he in no way believed in government "entitlement" programs. I quote the following in complete context because it is STILL relevant to today's discussion, despite the obsolete word usage and direct, non politically-correct speech.
Teddy Roosevelt wrote:
<quoted text>Every man of us needs help at some time, and each of us should be glad to stretch out his hand to a brother who stumbles. But no man can afford to let himself be carried and it is worth no man's while to try thus to carry some one else. The man who lies down, who will not try to walk, has become a mere cumberer of the earth's surface. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that the passing of certain laws is going to upset the old law that a man's bread is to be eaten out of the sweat of his brow. For a man's own courage and individual capacity there is no substitute. There is no place in the body politic of American life for the man who does not work.

Under the conditions of modern life, we cannot allow an unlimited individualism which may work to harm the community; it is no less evident that the sphere of he State's action should be EXTENDED VERY CAUTIOUSLY, and, so far as possible, ONLY WHERE IT WILL NOT CRUSH OUT INDIVIDUAL INITIATIVE (emphasis added).
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf...

(End Part 5, See Part 6)

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