Kucinich a “Yea” on HCR

After what must have been an epic arm-twisting session earlier this week, the obstinately progressive Democratic congressman from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich, has decided to support the Obama administration’s healthcare bill:

The Obama administration won a small victory for its healthcare reform on Wednesday when an outspoken Democratic critic said he would now vote for the bill.

Dennis Kucinich, the liberal Congressman from Ohio, has opposed the bill for not going far enough, voting against it when it first came to the floor of the House of Representatives in November. His change of heart will give the White House a last-minute boost.

Kucinich has relentlessly opposed the bill because it doesn’t include a public option, so in his view, doesn’t go far enough.

Kucinich is correct:  in spite everything the right-wing keeps barfing up about “a government takeover of healthcare”, there is no public option in the bill, let alone a “government takeover”.   (Let alone Death Panels.)  All it appears to do is provide assistance to those who can’t afford healthcare and hold the health insurance industry at least a wee tiny bit accountable for the buttslammings it gives consumers in the form of 39% rate hikes and refusals to pay for treatment of “pre-existing conditions”.   In return, the insurance companies are gifted with millions of new policies by the mandating of health insurance.

Of course, it’s not over til it’s over, which might be Saturday night.   (Why do all these really important votes take place on Saturday night??)

UPDATE: Oh, boo hoo hoo.  It looks like Bart Stupak’s 15 minutes of fetus fetishizing fame might finally be coming to a long-overdue end.  No Bartie, you can’t use the healthcare bill as a sneaky way to further restrict abortion.   Nice try, though.  Enjoy the primary challenge, fuckface.

19 Responses to “Kucinich a “Yea” on HCR”


  1. 1 Brian Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm

        “All it appears to do is provide assistance to those who
        can’t afford health care…”

    I thought that was what medicaid (or medicare; I can’t keep those two straight) is supposed to do?

     

     

        “and hold the health insurance industry at least a wee tiny bit
        accountable for the buttslammings it gives consumers in the
        form of 39% rate hikes”

    What with more and better (and more expensive) test and such, don’t you think health care costs per person per year are probably rising? I mean, more exhaustive work costs more, right? It costs more to tune up a car with electronic fuel injection and computer controls than a ’68 VW Beetle, right? Cars are more sophisticated, they cost more / health care is more sophisticated, it costs more…

     

     

        “…and refusals to pay for treatment of ‘pre-existing
        conditions.’”

    How do you propose to keep people from deliberately having no insurance, then purchasing it just as they get sick? (I know; see the following…)

     

     

        “In return, the insurance companies are gifted with millions of
        new policies by the mandating of health insurance.”

    The fine for not having insurance is way less than the cost of the insurance would be. So healthy youths will skip the policy, and pay the fine. So this bill—in reality—becomes more revenue for the government in the way of fines (what a shock; NOT!), not more people carrying insurance. And that “gifts” the insurance companies how, again? They get no premiums from people until those people actually get sick, and then they have to cover them to the tune of thousands and thousands. Brilliant.

     

     

    It’s good to see that Kucinich is as principled as he is; his sell-out price is higher than most Democrats.

  2. 2 JJ Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Brian – Dude, I think it’s a crappy bill too. It’s ridiculous to have a mandate, for one thing.

    What with more and better (and more expensive) test and such, don’t you think health care costs per person per year are probably rising?

    😆 I see you’re well-trained. Bend over, this won’t hurt a bit.

  3. 3 Brian Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Look, in the 60s, for some conditions they now treat they gave you aspirin, or morphine if it was really bad, and that was all they could do.

    Alzheimer s was unknown. Fibromyalgia was unknown. I mean, that’s just two examples. There are hundreds of conditions they can now diagnose, that then they did not even know existed.

    So with more of what ails you now know, diagnosable and treatable, the cost per person per year has to go up, right? If you think that saying that is only a manifestation of training, then tell me why that line of reasoning is invalid. I am NOT saying that that is the whole of the rise in medical costs per capita, but it ain’t nothin’ neither. And that cost is borne by the insurance companies. Is there some business reason that the cost to insure people in general should go up, but the premium cost must not?

    Sorry: I like you—but I don’t bend over for no one.

  4. 4 Dr. Prole Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    “Is there some business reason that the cost to insure people in general should go up, but the premium cost must not?”

    Yeah, spa junkets and obscene bonuses for executives.

  5. 5 Brian Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    riiiiiiighttttt And I’m the one who’s “well trained”…

  6. 6 Cornelius T.Zen Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Good morrow, all!
    I find it most passing strange, perhaps even ironic, that in countries, such as Canada, with evil socialized medicine, people tend to live longer and be healthier than in the God-blessed Excited States of Merka.
    When one can consult a doctor sooner and get better quicker, without having to sweat the cost (something which affects one’s health anyway) perhaps this contributes to the overall trend.
    Insurance companies are not in the business of mitigating risk for their customers; they are in the business of maximiziing returns for their shareholders. Those rates are going up in anticipation of a bleaker future for those parasites. Stiffer regulation is on its way, greater accountability will be called for. Payback is a bitch, and she’s sporting a fourteen-inch strap-on. Lube up, gentlemen, this won’t be pleasant.
    Brian, you like the idea of unrestricted corporate operations. Good for you, maybe not so good for the rest of society. The robber barons of the late 19th century never really went away, did they? Why are lobbyists necessary, except to make sure that politicians stay bought?
    Don’t expect much sympathy on this blog, Brian. If you must plead the case for the rich and ruthless, you are not likely to find friends here.
    Either one loves people and uses money, or one loves money and uses people. There’s your choice – CTZen

  7. 7 JJ Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

    CTZen – I have no problem with getting rich, or capitalism in general; it’s been good to me. This is what I have a problem with: predatory health insurance companies that are all too happy to take their policyholders’ money, but go out of their way to avoid living up to their end of the deal.

    When people stop buying my product or my horse trips coming out of the gate or I make a bad trade or the economy goes sideways and annihilates my RRSP, I take the hit, spank myself and move on. That’s capitalism, and risk is part of it. What is practiced by predatory health insurance companies who try to maximize profit by fraudulently eliminating risk is something more akin to pillage & plunder.

  8. 8 Brian Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I find it most passing strange, perhaps even ironic, that in countries, such as Canada, with evil socialized medicine, people tend to live longer and be healthier than in the God-blessed Excited States of Merka.

    You are comparing disparate items. People in the US live much more unhealthy lives than people in Canada. We smoke more, over eat more, and engage in more dangerous “recreation.” We have a higher crime rate, too, and some of that crime kills people (fortunately, sometimes the criminal is the one who dies!).

    This is not a measure of health care systems, but of behavior of the population, demographically speaking.

    When one can consult a doctor sooner…

    There is no delay seeing a Dr here… Plus, I hear about waiting in Canada. Granted, I’m not there, but then, you’re not here; same/same.

    Insurance companies are not in the business of mitigating risk for their customers; they are in the business of maximizing returns for their shareholders.

    As a universal, this is untrue (and contradictory). Reducing outlay increases profit. So saying they are not in the business of mitigating risk while saying that they are in the business of getting the kind of benefit that mitigation would yield is contradictory.

    My insurer sends me a lot of mail about programs designed to extend my health.

    Maximizing the profit for shareholders has at least two benefits. 1, those whose retirement packages hold stock in those companies are better able to retire without being poor. 2, the company, having more profit, is in a better position to absorb something like a 9-11 attack, or a swine flu epidemic without going under, leaving their customers with no care at all.

    Profit is not evil, a priori. And I have heard that if you eliminated 100% of the profit the companies make, and 100% of the CEO’s pay, the dollar amount would provide something far less than a few months of payouts to those using the benefits. And that’s a big problem why, again?

    Those rates are going up in anticipation of a bleaker future for those parasites.

    If they don’t increase rates in anticipation of a bleak future, and they go out of business, how are their clients helped? I mean really, seriously.

    The robber barons of the late 19th century never really went away, did they?

    Yes, they did. No one but the robber barons retired in those days. No one but the robber barons owned property then. The robber barons could only exist in a monopolistic environment. The competition that exists today makes them relegated to the past, as does the rise of recognized, God-given, unalienable rights, and a court system to support their protection. It isn’t perfect, but it eliminates the chance for robber barons to arise.

    Either one loves people and uses money…

    How can one use money to support their love of people if there is no money to use? Of course, an extrapolation of that is that the more money there is available for use, the more it can be used for implementing your love-of-people behavior.

    There has never been any system that promoted WIDESPREAD increase in general prosperity like capitalism. Attacking capitalism (by which I do NOT mean greed and oppression) harms people. That is hardly a manifestation of “one loves people.”

    Either one loves people and uses money, or one loves money and uses people. There’s your choice

    False dilemae do not constitute valid points.

  9. 9 toujoursdan Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I thought that was what medicaid (or medicare; I can’t keep those two straight) is supposed to do?

    No. Medicaid/Medicare only helps certain groups of poor people (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicaid). This leaves out the vast majority of poor people and the middle class. But if they can’t get a plan through their job (where they employer generally picks up 50%-80% of the cost), they often can’t often afford the full cost for an individual insurance policy either.

    I am a healthy 40 year old male with no pre-existing conditions, yet my full cost for medical insurance would be about $650 a month. If I lost my job tomorrow my COBRA payment would be about $500 month. If I had a wife and kids, it could be double that. My job pays 2/3rd of that and I pay the other 1/3rd. If I had a pre-existing condition, I’d probably be S.O.L.

    How do you propose to keep people from deliberately having no insurance, then purchasing it just as they get sick? (I know; see the following…)

    Well. I am not sure how this is worse than now.

    Currently, those who have no insurance and get sick/injured enough to go to the hospital pass their costs onto the insured who have to pay for them through higher insurance payments. Or if the uninsured go to public hospital, everyone pays for their treatment through taxes. The problem now is that they often wait until their condition becomes serious to get help which escalates the cost of treatment.

    Under Obama’s plan everyone must get insurance or a pay a penalty which would cover them in case they got sick/injured and were not insured. This avoids forcing the insured to pay for the slackers.

    The fine for not having insurance is way less than the cost of the insurance would be. So healthy youths will skip the policy, and pay the fine. So this bill—in reality—becomes more revenue for the government in the way of fines (what a shock; NOT!), not more people carrying insurance. And that “gifts” the insurance companies how, again? They get no premiums from people until those people actually get sick, and then they have to cover them to the tune of thousands and thousands. Brilliant.

    You have this wrong. The uninsured are still guaranteed by law to be treated in public hospitals and emergency rooms. The fine ensures that their costs aren’t passed on to the insured. If we’re going to have a universal system, it must be universal.

    Also, there are very generous subsidies for middle class and poor people to get insurance under both the Senate and House Bills. So there isn’t going to be much net revenue going into government, if any.

    There is no delay seeing a Dr here… Plus, I hear about waiting in Canada. Granted, I’m not there, but then, you’re not here; same/same.

    False. Americans put off seeing a doctor at a far higher rate than people in other countries because of the costs involved. And there is waiting here too.

    See: Business Week: The Doctor will see you in 3 months

    My insurer sends me a lot of mail about programs designed to extend my health.

    Of course. They also raise your rates and/or cut back coverage. They want you to pay more into the system yet not draw anything out. Their concern isn’t for your health but their profits.

    I live in the States now too and I work in a human resources department for a major company. Every year, our company either raises premiums or cuts back coverage. At some point, new workers probably won’t be offered a real healthplan. The whole system is unsustainable and falling apart.

    I have no problem with capitalism insofar as it creates goods to sell to consumers who can make a free choice whether to buy or not to buy them. But healthcare isn’t a good and the healthcare consumer doesn’t have free choice in the matter. We can’t directly choose our insurance companies; they are chosen by our employers. We can’t directly negotiate our rates; they are negotiated by our employers. We can’t change insurance companies and keep our employer subsidy. And we have no free choice to take or leave treatment when we get sick/insured. It’s not like you’re going to put off getting a cast for a broken arm until you find a good price for care. Healthcare isn’t an area that lends itself to capitalism. It’s a service that needs to be delivered to everyone.

    I’d like to see a British NHS system or a French single payer system. But this is a good start.

  10. 10 Brian Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    But health care isn’t a good and the health care consumer doesn’t have free choice in the matter. We can’t directly choose our insurance companies; they are chosen by our employers. We can’t directly negotiate our rates; they are negotiated by our employers. We can’t change insurance companies and keep our employer subsidy. And we have no free choice to take or leave treatment when we get sick/insured. It’s not like you’re going to put off getting a cast for a broken arm until you find a good price for care. Health care isn’t an area that lends itself to capitalism. It’s a service that needs to be delivered to everyone.

    You said a lot of interesting things here.

    You are, of course, right that consumers don’t have a free choice in the matter. This, in my opinion, is a big part of the cause of all the trouble.

    It was after WWII that employers started getting involved in insurance. It is, to me, a BIG problem. people daren’t change jobs, lest they lose their insurance. This leaves people who might move to jobs they are better suited for staying where they are, harming the health of the economy.

    And it’s true: lose your job, lose your coverage. I am spending 530/month for COBRA myself.

    But if this was ended, and we COULD directly choose our provider — AND NEGOTIATE RATES! — cost might be lower. (Sorry about shouting; I’m just so steamed about the government prohibiting buying insurance across state lines, and other such none-of-their-businesses…)

    If employers weren’t subsidizing health insurance premiums, they would be able to give that cost of employing you to you instead, which would ameliorate the additional cost to you to find and negotiate your own insurance. I’m all for “de-enmeshing” these functions. I like pay for the work you do, handle your own health issues. Then if you change employers, your health insurance is no more at risk than your car insurance is now if you change jobs.

    You also are mostly right when you say, “It’s not like you’re going to put off getting a cast for a broken arm until you find a good price for care.”

    But you could, through networking with other parents, for example, be aware of one Dr who sets arms cheaper, while still doing a good job. This kind of price shopping is one part of what makes capitalism work, reducing or eliminating poor results for high cost, encouraging good services/products/etc. for reasonable cost. Plus, I would think the lion’s share of health services are non-emergent. Check-ups, therapy, course of treatment visits, scheduled surgeries, and so on. These lend themselves very well to price shopping, and the market pressure of that shopping would have an effect on the cost of having an arm set in an emergent mode.

    With people shopping for their own insurance rather than getting it from their employer, with higher deductibles so that consumers get involved in shopping around, I see no reason why the health care/health insurance domain couldn’t be much more capitalistic, to the vast benefit to the consumer.

    I will look at that link about medicaid; I would like to know more about it.

  11. 11 toujoursdan Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

    If employers weren’t subsidizing health insurance premiums, they would be able to give that cost of employing you to you instead, which would ameliorate the additional cost to you to find and negotiate your own insurance. I’m all for “de-enmeshing” these functions. I like pay for the work you do, handle your own health issues. Then if you change employers, your health insurance is no more at risk than your car insurance is now if you change jobs.

    Nice idea but completely naive. Employers aren’t going to pass the money along to you as a money sum. They are going to post jobs at the going rate. If someone with a similar skill level wants the job at a cheaper rate (which is very likely in recessions), they will hire that person instead. Secondly, our rates vary depending on the policy we choose and the number of dependents. You’re introducing an incentive for employer to discriminate against more expensive people. Thirdly, few of us can handle our own health issues. It’s far too expensive if we had to pick up the entire cost on our own, including future increases.

    (Sorry about shouting; I’m just so steamed about the government prohibiting buying insurance across state lines, and other such none-of-their-businesses…)

    Government prohibiting insurance companies from operating across state lines is a good thing.

    You’ll recall that the government used to prohibit banks from operating across state lines. Once that prohibition was lifted it didn’t lead to more choices, better service or lower rates. It led to a mergers and acquisitions until all we had an oligopoly of banks which have no interest in the communities they serve, provide poor service, play games with their customers and get away with it because every other bank is doing it.

    It would be no different in this case. All lifting the prohibition would do is lead to yet another national oligopoly. It certainly wouldn’t lead to more choices or better service. It never works that way in real life, just in right-wing rhetoric.

    But you could, through networking with other parents, for example, be aware of one Dr who sets arms cheaper, while still doing a good job.

    Maybe you have time to do this kind of research, but most of us don’t. Maybe you are willing to put up with the pain of a broken arm whilst waiting for a few days to a week for a specific cheaper doctor to see you, but most of us won’t. Maybe your heart attack will last long enough to get to a cheap clinic across town, but most of us will probably die first.

    Again, capitalistic systems ONLY work if the consumer has a free choice to make or NOT make a purchase. Health issues are not free choice issues. Therefore the system will never be true capitalism.

    What you’re proposing won’t work in the real world either.

    With people shopping for their own insurance rather than getting it from their employer, with higher deductibles so that consumers get involved in shopping around, I see no reason why the health care/health insurance domain couldn’t be much more capitalistic, to the vast benefit to the consumer.

    LOL. Sure. Nothing here would benefit the consumer. Everything you mention would benefit corporations to the detriment of the consumer. More oligopoly. More bureaucracy. More expense out of pocket. Fewer consumer rights. It’s a disaster.

  12. 12 toujoursdan Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

    (And once all these mega-insurance companies swallow up the smaller state ones, take over and screw things up like the banks did, will they be too big to fail too?)

  13. 13 toujoursdan Friday, March 19, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I should also add that the big reason it is beneficial to get insurance through your employer is that they bargain for a discount GROUP rate. You’ll pay far far more on your own, particularly if all you have is an oligopoly of providers to choose from.

  14. 14 JJ Friday, March 19, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    toujoursdan – Good, I was hoping you’d weigh in since you’re on the front lines of this battle.

    I totally agree that health care isn’t something that lends itself to capitalism very well — health isn’t a product like a car. And when insurers start cutting corners to increase profits — which they have to do because their first responsibility is to their shareholders, not patients — they can only do it at the expense of the policyholders. Either by cutting them off or denying service or hiking rates astronomically.

    That said, I am not against a hybrid public/private system like some places in Europe, as long as every citizen is assured a basic level of health care and treatment like we have now in Canada.

    Unfortunately this isn’t what the Dems’ bill will do, but it is a baby step in the right direction. (I will never understand why they didn’t start their negotiations with Single Payer and settle on a public option, rather than starting with the public option and losing that.)

  15. 15 JJ Friday, March 19, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Brian

    I see no reason why the health care/health insurance domain couldn’t be much more capitalistic, to the vast benefit to the consumer.

    That works if you consider health to be a commodity like a car, but it isn’t. Anyway, the health insurance market in the US right now is not what I would call a truly free market anyway, because consumers have very little choice. It’s more of a monopoly by a consortium of profit-minded companies, none of whom is holding the others accountable or forcing them to be competitive. Ever notice how they all have rate hikes around the same time? The extent of competition is that one hikes up their rates by 39% and the other only goes up by 29%. Wow.

    As I said above, I have nothing against private clinics or insurance being available so consumers can choose. But unless you’re paying for top end insurance, you can’t count on these greedy bastards not cutting you off. People scream about death panels — that’s exactly how insurance companies function, cherry picking who they want to cover (the healthy & young) and who they try to get rid of (the sick).

    Having basic public health care for all, in tandem with private insurance, would keep the insurers more honest and competitive, and that is badly needed right now. The US is the last western country not to help its citizens take care of their health — pretty sad, IMO. If you’re willing to pay billions for homeland security, why not for a little personal security for your own health?

  16. 16 toujoursdan Friday, March 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I lived in New Zealand for 4 years and was fine with their system. There, you buy private, non-profit insurance that covers doctor visits and prescriptions. If you need tests, treatments or therapy, you can go to a public hospital which is paid for by taxpayers and managed by Health Districts which are elected. You can purchase health insurance and jump the queue by going to a private hospital but only for non-life threatening treatments.

    They do other things to keep costs down. It’s impossible to sue anyone for damages if you’re injured. A no-fault, tax supported, accident compensation scheme (called the ACC) pays any damages and 80% of any lost wages.

    I have no problem with a private role in healthcare. I do have serious moral problems with people/companies making a profit off of others’ illness/injury.

  17. 17 JJ Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

    toujoursdan – Something like NZ has sounds about perfect.

    I also have a moral issue with profiteering from peoples’ illnesses — there’s something really twisted about forcing people into bankruptcy to stay alive. That’s not what I call a free market solution — it’s more like mob enforcers demanding protection money.

  18. 18 JJ Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 9:34 am

    brian – I just noticed you mentioned you are on COBRA. I’m not too familiar with it, but isn’t it a government-mandated program?


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