Friday, January 15, 2010

Lefty's Last Health Care Reform Bill?

Much of our attention is rightly focused on the disaster in Haiti at the moment, but lest we forget, there IS still a health care reform effort working its way through Congress and there IS still a chance to modify it.

So, here are a few ideas for modifying the HCR bill such that a) it still has a chance of passing, b) it actually does something useful and c) it does MORE useful things than the existing bill.
Looking for comments, questions, and additions.

First, keep most of what's in there, modulo the following things:

  • Add tort reform. Seriously, why the hell not? Why do the Democrats refuse to budge on this? What the hell do we care? Reform away! If there exists a system for ensuring that people always have care, do we really need to be extracting millions upon millions of dollars in punitive damages from doctors who tried their best? Do we really believe that most doctors DON'T try their best? I feel like this is a small concession to make on the Democratic side and a massive sop to throw to the Republicans who are mostly concerned with making sure med mal insurance companies that donate to their campaigns stay rich. Fine. Screw it.
  • Allow interstate insurance competition, WITH THE FOLLOWING CAVEAT: any insurance company wishing to do business in a state must follow the regulations of that state. This will prevent the race-to-the-bottom in standards the Republicans are so eager for that would result from unrestricted interstate competition -- that is, if they got their way, all insurance companies would immediately move to California, which has the worst medical insurance regulations in the country. There is, however, no reason not to allow interstate competition with that modification to it.
  • Listen to Dennis Kucinich and modify ERISA such that it permits states to enact their own single-payer health care systems, and furthermore pool their risk and funding together should they so choose.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Welcome Back, Lefties!

Today is the first day of classes for the spring semester at Notre Dame and I just wanted to say a quick hello and welcome back all of you lefties who returned to campus this weekend.  Two days ago I was enjoying beautiful southern Californian weather -- palm trees, sunshine, strong IPAs & beautiful women everywhere... 75 degrees of bliss.  Today I woke up and trudged through the brutal weather of the planet Hoth to make it to Waddick's before class to score a much needed caffeine fix.  While I initially miss SoCal, it dawned on me that I will soon look back on my time in this ice cube with the same adoration and nostalgia.

Today is the first day of the last semester of my undergraduate career.  It is a pretty exciting feeling to know that in a few short months I will be graduating from the school I dreamed of attending when I was a little kid.  Those of you who know me personally know that it hasn't been an easy journey.  I came a long way from humble beginnings, and it's made my brief experience here all the better.  So as I reflect on this, I just wanted to wish you all a good semester, whether it is also your "last, first day" or if you're a second-semester Freshman who will hopefully help to keep Lefty's going strong when Henry and I graduate this year.

So, welcome back, Lefties!!!  And hopefully your classes don't turn out to be as heavy as mine did: