Thursday, September 10, 2009
Looking forward to this:
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Bringing all the class and insight of a town hall back to Capital Hill. Way to go.
Some things never change
You can graduate and when you come back to campus some things might be different than how you remember them. There's a new scoreboard on campus, new residence halls, the Eddy Street Commons. But other things seemingly never change. The familiar crunch of fresh autumn leaves on the quad, the candles at the grotto, and, of course, intellectually dishonest hyperpartisan rants from Professor Emeritus Charles Rice.
In an era in which many media editorial rooms suffer from a lack of ideological diversity, the Observer Viewpoint continues to flaunt its open-mindedness with a biweekly column from a true wingnut. This provides Notre Dame students with exposure to ideas that rarely find their way into policy discourse outside of angry town hall mobs. After revealing himself this March as a supporter of the "birther" movement (See "Charles Rice Shows His True Colors"), Professor Rice has decided this week to step it up a few notches and come out as a "deather" as well.
I hadn't picked up an Observer since I graduated, and as luck would have it, I pick up one with another Charles Rice column in it. Woohoo.
In Tuesday's self-refuting "'Obamacare' raises problems" Rice throws in with the angry mob crowd using an argument held together with chewing gum and baling wire (or, more appropriately, held together by selective quoting and the word "could"). It's a fun read.
Rice kicks off his column boasting about how he has actually read H.R. 3200, one of the health care bills that hasn't come up for a vote yet. Subsequently his entire column is his own interpretation of Section 1233 of the bill which he quotes in pieces using his very...unique...and...reliable...quoting style that he's famous for. Section 1233 is the part of the bill that refers to non-mandatory end of life consultations to help patients come up with living wills to prevent a Terri Schiavo-type situation from occurring. This section, the crux of Rice's opposition to reform, is by Rice's own admission already irrelevant.
"Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says the Senate Finance Committee has removed 'the end-of-life provisions' from its bill because they would pay physicians to 'advise patients about end-of-life care and rate physician quality of care based on the creation of and adherence to orders for end-of-life care.' But that bill is only one of several on the subject. It is too early to count the end-of-life consultations out"So the Senate Finance Committee is going to stonewall on this issue and pretty much guarantee that end-of-life provisions will not make it into any health care reform bill passed by that committee, so whatever bill comes out of reconciliation and is enacted into law won't have those provisions. But hey, thanks for warning us about something that could happen, maybe. And of course if the end-of-life provisions that could make their way into law actually did do so, they also could turn from a helpful optional service into those dreaded death panels we've heard so much about.
"Regulations could, in effect, make the consultations mandatory, to be initiated by the individual or the practitioner with penalties on the individual who fails to initiate it."To sum up Charles Rice's argument:
1) Provisions in one of the health care bills in committee in the House would provide end-of-life consultations to the sick and dying, even though the Senate Finance Committee would never agree to any similar provision.
2) In the future, some similar provision could appear in the final bill that the President would sign, maybe
3) While that provision would in no way let anyone but the patient decide when the patient will stop receiving treatment, future regulations could change that.
4) Therefore, health care reform=death panels
"Obamacare" seeks to increase those who are covered and to reduce costs. The only way to achieve both objectives is to ration the health care provided to the elderly and the disabled"Really, Charles? Is that the only way?
Tonight, President Obama will be addressing both houses of Congress detailing his goals and intentions for health care reform. Hopefully tonight we will learn whether or not he is committed to a public option to go along with health care reform. If he chooses not to do so, health care reform will come in the form of subsidizing the health care industry with a government mandate that forces American citizens to all buy into private health insurance. Government subsidies would then provide private insurance to people who cannot afford coverage. This plan would also bar private insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. They'd be able to afford to do this because they would no longer have to worry about free-riders refusing to buy into health insurance plans until they need it, which costs them money, and they would make even more money from the government buying health care plans for the poor. This would also increase the amount of preventative care that would reduce the amount of costly procedures needed in the future. This is a cost-cutting measure that would work to stop "rationing".
If Obama does choose to go with a public option, then the government would be providing a tax-payer funded health insurance plan for the uninsured. Unlike a private insurance plan, the public plan would not have to turn out a profit to benefit its stockholders, pay executive salaries and bonuses, or pay for advertising or lobbying. Also, unlike private insurance, the public option, like other government programs, could operate at net losses indefinitely and just contribute to America's debt.
Whichever way Obama goes, it's clear that there are ways to cut costs without "pulling the plug on granny". If you're really concerned about rationed health care resulting in the denial of treatment for those who truly needed it, you should be in favor of health care reform, since that's exactly what private insurance already does without health care reform.
Believe it or not, there are legitimate concerns that people should have about health care reform (being forced to purchase health insurance, deficit spending, the possibility of higher taxes, etc.) You don't need to resort to pulling stuff out of thin air.