Joe: No Go On “Public Option”

by Paul Bass | July 1, 2009 7:10 AM | | Comments (46)

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has a bipartisan group of senators ready to help pass health care reform — minus a government-run insurance plan.

During a New Haven stop to support overall reform, Connecticut’s independent fourth-term senator gave his strongest statement to date opposing Democrats’ and President Obama’s call for a “public option” health care plan.

“Public option” is shorthand for a Medicare-like government plan that would compete with private companies to cover many of the 47 million Americans who don’t get private health insurance through their employers or elsewhere.

“If we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it,” Lieberman said following an hour-long confab with public-health experts at the Ashmun Street community center of the Monterey Homes public housing complex. “That’s a cost we can’t take on.”

The “public option” proposal has proved the most controversial aspect of the sweeping health care reform bills currently being debated in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Lieberman said Tuesday he considers it a stumbling block to passing a reform package to cover millions of uninsured Americans and lower health care costs — something he said he’s working hard to do along with a coalition of Republican and centrist Democratic senators.

The public option question comes to a head in coming weeks. House and Senate leaders hope to have health care reform bills come out of committee next week and pass their respective chambers by the August recess. They hope to produce a reconciled final version for Obama to sign in the fall.

The public option plan aims to cover 95 percent of the uninsured; require all Americans to have insurance; cut costs; and tax companies that don’t provide insurance to employees. The idea has met with public approval in opinion polling, but resistance from Republican lawmakers, some conservative Democrats, and insurance companies.

Connecticut’s other U.S. senator, Chris Dodd, supports the public option. So do all five U.S. representatives; click here to watch and read about Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s stand.

The Congressional Budget Office has pegged the cost of the overall health care package as originally proposed at $1 trillion over 10 years. But many people — including Lieberman during his New Haven visit Tuesday — contest the number because it doesn’t include cost savings from better preventive care and wellness programs.

President Obama publicly backs the public option, but his chief aide has signaled he may be willing to drop it as part of a compromise package.

That’s the kind of compromise Lieberman is looking to forge.

Bipartisan Maneuvering

Lieberman hopes to help do that through the work of an informal, but busy, bipartisan group he formed last year with Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander.

The group meets every Tuesday out of the view of the press or staff members. It includes 15-20 centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans. They invite speakers on pressing issues to shmooze with them.

Since June the group has focused exclusively on finding common ground to pass health reform, Lieberman said Tuesday. It will continue to do so through July. Its invited guest next week is Sen. Dodd, who is overseeing Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearings on the bill to fill in for the ailing chairman, Ted Kennedy. The following week’s guest is Finance Chairman Max Baucus.

That common ground, in Lieberman’s view, has no room for the public option. (Click on the play arrow at the top of the story to watch him discuss the subject at length.)

DSCN3856.JPGSome “80 percent” of the evolving health care reform enjoys broad bipartisan support, he said. That includes changing the incentives in the current system to reimburse people for more “staying well,” through preventive check-ups and wellness programs.

“We’re not going to get the votes to pass the overall bill if [the public option] becomes a condition of it,” Lieberman claimed.

He said he also has philosophical objections to a public option. He said he doesn’t have an opinion on the most popular criticism, that insurance companies wouldn’t be able to compete with a public plan. Rather, he said he fears both the cost as well as the impact on doctors. A public plan could drive down reimbursements to the levels paid by Medicaid, he claimed, which pays doctors only “70 percent of their costs.”

Take-Aways

DSCN3864.JPGLieberman made the comments following his session with health experts convened by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. Eight panelists took turns of five minutes or so apiece to tell the senator what they’d like to see included in the health bill.

A passionate request came from Jeanette DeJesus (pictured) to make community-based organizations like hers more of a part of any reform effort in order to help black and Latino communities deal with top killers like heart disease and diabetes.

DeJesus runs Connecticut’s Hispanic Health Council. Among its programs, it sends outreach workers to counsel Latinos with diabetes on how to manage their disease. The people they’ve reached have had to go to the doctor less often as a result, while they exercised more, felt less depressed, and generally saw their health improve. That saves the system money, DeJesus pointed out.

Some 40 percent of Connecticut Latinos lack health insurance, she said. Latino children in the state are five times more likely than other children to be seen in emergency rooms.

More established health care institutions need grassroots help in reaching them, DeJesus said. But “community-based organizations are not being included enough in the debate.”

Lieberman said he agrees. Other suggestions the panel gave him to bring back to D.C. included making sure health insurance covers nutritional counseling; and planting wellness and health education programs in the schools.







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Comments

Posted by: NH | July 1, 2009 7:54 AM

OMG a Democrat who's not an out and out commmunist! My gosh a Democrat with a brain... how refreshing.

His primary concern is they don't say, hey Joe, you're over 60 so you won't get treated for that condition and you should just live with the pain and die when it's time.

Posted by: Jim Jones | July 1, 2009 7:57 AM

Medicare only reimburses 70%? My private insurance plan (Blue Cross) reimburses 70-75%. Doctors know that insurance companies will negotiate the price down when billed, so the doctors simply raise their "costs" to ensure that their hard cost + handsome profit is left in tact. If you're a cash patient, you'll usually be given an adjustment to pay the negotiated rate.

Is it really plausible to believe that all doctors in this country who take Medicare do so at a 30% loss? Liberman's statement is misleading. It makes no sense to bankrupt all doctors with a reform package. The goal is to get something that is sustainable.

And what is Liberman's alternative? A non-profit co-op controlled by the very private insurance companies it is supposed to force competition onto? Or a "trigger" that creates the reform only if the private insurers fail to meet cost reduction and coverage targets... these same insurers who have already had 40 years to clean up their act?

We spend 17% of our GDP on health care each year. Most western nations spend at or under 10% of their GDP.

US Citizens paid a total of $2.4 trillion in health care costs in 2008. Our 2008 federal budget was $2.66 trillion... So many people were up in arms with the TARP/Bailouts... with our rate of spending we give hundreds of billions in bailouts to the private insurers every single year.

I do not want nationalized health care, but as a small business owner I definitely want a public option that will guarantee my family and me a choice year after year. Try getting insurance when self-employed and you'll know why so many people want a public option.

Posted by: robn | July 1, 2009 9:00 AM

The formula is pretty simple...whether or not CT has a big insurance industry and jobs are at risk...the majority of americans don't want for profit entities managing their healthcare becuase the profit motive and healthcare middlemen industries are incompatible.

I'd rather have our hardworking doctors and nurses keep what they've earned rather than padding the coffers of non-value adding middlemen.

Posted by: Bill Mainor | July 1, 2009 9:03 AM

Lieberman is correct re: public option. Its biggest problem is that it would drive down reimbursements to providers far below cost and ultimately destabilize the system. That is what Medicaid has done (it pays around 70% of actual cost to Connecticut hospitals) and Medicare has done (I believe it pays around 80% now of actual cost to Connecticut hospitals). Private insurance pays above actual cost to Connecticut hospitals to keep the system afloat. There is no reason for the public option if we properly regulate private insurance.

Posted by: iBlogWestHartford | July 1, 2009 9:13 AM

Without a strong public option, it's not health care reform. It's just a con to avoid reform and to keep dollars flowing into the pockets of the insurance and pharmaceutical executives who fund Senatorial campaigns.

And it's an obvious con, which the research and numbers say will fail even in its extremely limited goals. More of us will be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions; more of us will see new gaps in our coverage; more of will see skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs drive us into debt, foreclosure, and bankruptcy.

Anthem just announced it would be increasing premiums for its individual plans by a crushing 23 percent this fall.

The health care status quo means that, insured or not, we will never have peace of mind.

Lose your job, lose your health care, lose your health.

Lieberman's defense of a health insurance sector that cannot provide Americans with quality, affordable products is an embarrassment to him and to Connecticut.

In DC, push for a strong public option.

In CT, push for the SustiNet universal health care bill.

Posted by: pdh | July 1, 2009 9:52 AM

If, as American political folklore tells us, an honest politician is a politician who stays bought, then Senator Lieberman certainly qualifies as an honest politician. He's been owned by the insurance industry for decades -- as his continuing efforts to cripple health care reform suggest.

When will we be rid of this creep!

Posted by: lance | July 1, 2009 9:52 AM

we definitely need government health care. this way the self-employed liberal bloggers can keep blogging while the suckers working less relaxing jobs can bust their butt to subsidize the bloggers medical coverage.

Posted by: ctkeith | July 1, 2009 10:28 AM

President Obama doesn't need Lieberman,McCain or any other of Republican or Dino votes to get the Public Option passed.

The public option will be passed in the Budget Reconciliation process which means it only needs 50 votes plus VP Bidens vote to pass.

The average American is 1000 times more likely to be killed by a health insurance companies denial of benefits than any terrorist attack yet this fear and war monger can't spend enough on wasteful and corrupt "Homeland Security" projects that do nothing but line the pockets of his corperate donors.


Posted by: Two2Three [TypeKey Profile Page] | July 1, 2009 10:35 AM

Lieberman's main interest is to ensure the care and feeding of the Health Insurance Industry.

Spending money that we don't have has never been a problem for Joe - he supports the $3-5 Trillion being thrown at the wars on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and the funding of a $1 Trillion military budget each year. The enormous and ballooning federal debt depends on Joe's solid support.

Ensuring that his constituents get comprehensive health care, however, is too costly.

Behind that wooden smile is $10 million dollars in campaign contributions from the insurance, finance and real estate industries. Joe won't let them down.

Everyone should get the same quality health care coverage that Joe gets as a Senator, or that is provided by Medicare, or the VA, or the Air Force.

Just don't expect it from Joe Lieberman.

Posted by: J | July 1, 2009 11:26 AM

How can he say this after the stunt Anthem just pulled today.....


http://www.courant.com/business/hc-anthem-rates.artjul01,0,1022396.story

Posted by: No rationing | July 1, 2009 11:46 AM

Yay Senator Lieberman! Stay strong. We don't need Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi making healthcare decisions for my family. If this is so easy help us all by fixing Medicare first!

Posted by: Fact Guy | July 1, 2009 12:09 PM

The "47 million Americans who don't get private health insurance" stated in the article includes about 15 million people who are not Americans - they are citizens of other countries, most in the US illegally. Another 10-15 million of these could afford insurance (incomes over $50K), but choose not to buy it.

Health insurance should not pay for routine care cna costs, just as car insurance doesn't pay for new wiper blades, or tires.

Posted by: jacksmith | July 1, 2009 12:13 PM

AMERICA'S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY!

It's official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.

STAND READY AMERICA TO SEIZE CONTROL OF YOUR NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don't even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He's doing a brilliant job.

THIS IS THE BIG ONE!

THE BATTLE OF GOOD Vs EVIL!

Join the fight.

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You

Jacksmith - WORKING CLASS

Posted by: iBlogWestHartford | July 1, 2009 12:25 PM

NO RATIONING:

Rationing of health care is wrong.

Imagine if, when food was rationed during WW2, one-sixth of all Americans were told "Sorry, you don't even GET a ration card." That's how it is with health care today. For one-sixth of us, no card, no health care at all. That's un-American.

Millions of other Americans can only afford insurance so inadequate that entire treatments are "rationed" right out of their lives. No coverage for pre-existing conditions. No mental health coverage. No coverage if you've exceeded your annual dollar limit.

These people don't have to wait in short lines OR long lines to get the care they need. There ARE no lines for them. There IS no treatment.

And we don't want bureaucrats coming between us and our doctors and the treatments we need. The massive insurance industry bureaucracies with their thousands of claims-deniers who override our doctor's orders have no place in a free society. We must be free to choose the treatment and care that we need to get healthy!

If the private insurance companies can't offer us quality, affordable health care, then how can we NOT reform the health care system? They deny us care, make us sicker, and drive us into medical debt and personal bankruptcy. They've had decades to create a system that works - and they have failed.

It's time for real reform

Posted by: Jonathan Knisely | July 1, 2009 12:37 PM

Not that Joe Lieberman would ever be subject to a conflict of interest, but his wife is a shill for big pharmaceutical interests. Her salary has been, in part, paid by institutions that don't want anyone to disturb them at the trough. I, for one, can imagine a conflict of interest.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadassah_Lieberman

Posted by: A. Harold Datz | July 1, 2009 12:49 PM

Joe Lieberman has been a shill for the insurance companies for so long that his middle name should be "Aetna."

Posted by: DR | July 1, 2009 12:50 PM

From TPM :


TPM Reader CM flags a couple of unequivocal statements on health care by Joe Lieberman during his 2006 campaign against Ned Lamont. They're pretty interesting in light of Joe's low profile on this issue of late -- well, until he announced his opposition to a public option yesterday:

July 6, 2006 primary debate:

And what I'm saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance, to make America energy independent, to save your jobs and create new ones. That's what the Democratic Party is all about.
Sept. 21, 2006, during the general election campaign:

After spending most of his Senate career advocating piecemeal health care reforms, Joseph I. Lieberman said Wednesday he strongly supports universal health care.
Lieberman devoted a conference call with reporters to an issue that his main rival in the U.S. Senate race, Democratic nominee Ned Lamont, has highlighted in recent days.

"I have long supported the goal of universal health care," Lieberman told reporters. "Ned Lamont can talk about it. I've been doing something about it all the time I've been here."

So Joe proves again that lying is his forte.

To No Rationing: Kind of moronic statement. Try arguing from facts not right-wing bugaboos. As for making health decisions, right now they are made by insurance company bureaucrats in order to maximize the insurance company profits. Give me a public option interested in health, not profits.

Posted by: Hansa Junchun | July 1, 2009 12:53 PM

I don't want health coverage at all! I just want something to make sure I won't bankrupt my family if I get seriously injured in a car accident. But none of the big insurers offer a simple catastrophic coverage plan at a lower cost.

Posted by: AA | July 1, 2009 1:14 PM

Yeah Joe. More of this please! "Anthem Blue Cross wants to raise rates by as much as 32 percent on Connecticut health insurance policies that consumers buy on their own -- an unusually large increase in the individual insurance market, which is already under attack in the national debate over reform."

Posted by: WeMustBeHeard | July 1, 2009 1:16 PM

What the heck happened to paying your own way in life? We spend untold trillions on food every year as Americans. Does this mean the government should now take over feeding everyone?

Food Stamps, Welfare, Section 8 Housing, Social Security for "so-called" learning challenged children, Checks for drunks, Checks for the homeless and the list goes on.

The majority of freaking liberals believe in evolution, which by definition is "only the strong survive". You kill babies with our tax dollars then want me to pay for all the lazy good for nothing welfare slobs too?? All these social programs do is buy votes, but when the money supply is so deluded by your insane spending and the printing of fiat money, what then?

Doesn't anyone realize the number of insurance company workers that will lose their jobs with a "public option"? What about those hard working people?

I hope this God forsaken nation collapses under the weight of these Marxist programs. Then you will have your freaking evolution, but the definition will change to "He with the most ammunition survives" as the cities turn to anarchy and those of us with farms will sit back and wait until all you liberal morons kill each other off over food scraps while I eat fat and happy of my land.

The government can't even manage the simple prospect of leasing forest land let alone a all-inclusive health care plan. How can you people be so stupid. Haven't you ever read a history book?
We took down the largest nation on earth, the USSR by simply waiting until they were over extended and cut their food supply, what makes you think the hard working farmers and 80 million rural guns owners can't do the same thing to you lazy slum dwelling city folk.

If you haven't figured out food is the only true currency on this planet by now, you don't deserve to live in this once great nation let alone health care, period.

You idiot have no idea how freaking close you are to a violent unrising. I only pity you abortion supporting, atheist, no gun owning, lazy, the government owe me a living liberals. Cuz when your stupid idealist "Hope and Change" turns the dollar to dust, you will become nothing more than target practice if you step foot on my corn fields looking for a handout.

Posted by: WeMustBeHeard | July 1, 2009 1:20 PM

HANSA: Clueless.. 40 states REQUIRE FULL insurance for auto related injuries by statue. If you live on one the ten that don't, then auto insurance reform is in order not a crippling "public option" government insurance plan designed to destroy the insurance comapnies and control the doctors and hospitals.

Posted by: WeMustBeHeard | July 1, 2009 1:28 PM

I knew this liberal rag wouldn't post my comments.
Just another Marxist propaganda machine. You ain't fooling anyone, especially those of us with acreage, food storage and enough common sense to realize their are no free lunches unless we grow them for you.

Posted by: j | July 1, 2009 2:03 PM

WEMUSTBEHEARD...Have you shot down any flying saucers this week???

Posted by: WeMustBeHeard | July 1, 2009 3:09 PM

J: Nice creative response. The 60 some odd million of you Obama voters who actually believed in no new taxes are the ones who must be wearing the tin foil hats. I hope you idiots pass the cap and trade and health care bills. It will insure the end of this DEM majority.

I guess you just don't understand how easy it is for the self-employed to skirt under the radar and take advantage of the perverse tax codes to our benefit if we so choose. I have a stack of applications sitting right here from people with worthless pieces of paper you call "college diplomas" that would pick weeds for minimum wage just to keep there stinking Toyota running to go to there "real" job.

And all you liberal union mentality grunts are in for a rude awakening. You have already lost half you retirement under this Pelosi/Reid congress since the stock market highs brought in by Bush and the GOP congress.

I laugh at your ignorance as you eat your macoroni and cheeze that you spent more on than I did for the Filet Migon that am about 2 hours away from putting on the grill.

You see I don't depend on some damn upstream that you silly envronmentalists can shut down over a stinking minnow. I trade my FOOD and my internet services for health care. My 4 FORD trucks will never break down for long as I fish with a fellow who owns the local auto graveyard where you fools put out perfectly good vehicles, short maybe a fuel pump, in favor of borrowing thousands of dollars that goes overseas on that Toyota.

The primal intelligence this "redneck" has, finds no need for the yellow pages when a pipe breaks or the roof needs fixing.

And when you are paying 300% more for your electricity because of your "tin foil hat" global warming I'll just fire up that diesel generator that runs on used motor oil and ethanol from my silos. And if I feel so motivated I will just call a few friends and build a windmill over a couple bottles of homebrew.

...


Posted by: Roger | July 1, 2009 3:15 PM

...

Everyone in this planet does health care cheaper and more efficiently. Our senator prefers to protect his buddies than reform anything.

Posted by: lance | July 1, 2009 4:19 PM

we must be heard is right on the money. we know exactly what obama is trying to do. he wrote a book called"dreams from my father" that i'm sure all of you liberals read as a substitute for foreplay....... well a while back politico learned exactly what those dreams of obama's father were, which is take from the whites (including their land) and give it away to those who by their own lack of ambition and/or stupidity find themselves at the bottom of the food chain.

read for yourself exactly where the democrats are trying to take us if common sense didn't tell you already...
http://www.politico.com/static/PPM41_eastafrica.html

Posted by: HEMUSTBEHEARD | July 1, 2009 4:35 PM

WEMUSTBEHEARD,

Finally, a voice of reason on this blog!!

No.... not yours...

But still, I'm SURE I HEARD one!

XOXOXOXOXOXOXXO

Posted by: chemjeff | July 1, 2009 4:59 PM

Something that I think has been lost in the whole health care debate is: What if someone doesn't want health insurance at all? What if someone is wealthy and can afford to pay out-of-pocket for anything, or is young and healthy and for whom health insurance is a bad deal financially? Will the government force these people to buy health insurance against their will? That hardly seems like a model that "the land of the free" should emulate.

Posted by: Norton Street | July 1, 2009 5:50 PM

WeMustBeHeard,
you must have apple sauce for a brain.

The city dweller and the rural farmer are the only acceptable lifestyle's for this country. To live outside of a city/urban area and not farm promotes a lifestyle of wasted energy, greed, and over consumption. Farming in this country has been made less and less localized because of suburban sprawl that pushed farm land further from urban areas which then requires massive amounts of interstate truck shipping which gets more and more expensive each year to sustain. You should actually be mad at suburbanites who waste gas getting to work and home everyday, which makes farming that much more expensive (due to a rise in the cost of fertilizer, watering systems, etc.). Cities are places that promote mass transit and walking; you know, the built-in mode of human travel. The cost of suburban sprawl greatly outweighs any expense cities have caused. Suburbs caused a massive population explosion that increases the need for food while also decreasing the amount of land usable for growing the food. Suburbs, are the problem, buddy, not cities (although American cities in their current form do present many problems, they have the potential of being localized and therefore more efficient).

Also, I invite you to come to my street and spew some of that "lazy slum dwelling city folk" nonsense and you'd probably be surprised at the number of guns you see. Just sayin.

Posted by: Erich | July 1, 2009 5:52 PM

Hey chemjeff, I can protect myself so I don't want to pay for police protection. I also don't have any fires in my life so count me out of paying for the fire department. etc.

Posted by: Allen | July 1, 2009 6:16 PM

If there is a universal health care, EVERYONE WILL PAY FOR IT. There are not enough "wealthy" people to pay for everyone else. If the health insurance of employees is taxed as income, your taxes will increase but your take home money will not leaving you with less money. Furthermore, under a public option plan, employers would be hit with a penalty if they do not provide care equal to or greater than the government. Thus, employees will drop health coverage pushing more people to the public option.

For those of you railing against insurance companies as "non-value" middlemen, what do you think some government bureaucrat in charge of your health decisions will become? Did you not hear the president when he said that "we need to stop procedures that always don't work... instead of the surgery take the pain killer". Well, chemo treatments and radiation treatments do not always work. That is why the rate of death from cancer is 16% higher in Canada. Not all cancer treatments are approved forcing Canadians here.

The reason why we spend more money on health care here is due to fraud. More importantly, however, is the procedures developed in the United States are more advanced and more costly than other countries.

Finally, there was a comment that other countries (I am assuming the commentator meant Britain and Canada) are more efficient with there health care. Do you consider waiting more than one month for a simple MRI in Canada efficient? How about over 1 year for hip replacement surgery? What about being denied treatment because you are too old as in Britain? How about in Oregon where state paid health care advised a patient they would pay for her legally assisted suicide instead of a Cancer treatment? Yes, socialized medicine is more efficient when you advocate delaying procedures and letting older and terminally ill patients languish.

Health care costs have risen sharply ever since the Great Society. It is time to try a new approach and get government out of health care.

Posted by: Rita Eason | July 1, 2009 6:28 PM

Lieberman defends the big health insurance companies because they are bankrolling all his campaigns!

Posted by: markg8 | July 1, 2009 6:37 PM

...

To get costs down one thing we need to do is change the incentives for doctors and hospitals. Reward best practices that result in the best medical outcomes. End the fee for service structure that encourages providers to order as many drugs, therapies, tests and procedures as possible. No more paying hospitals just to keep beds filled. There are models across the US that work well, like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, those folks out in Colorado Springs. They get better results and do it cheaper.

The other part of the equation that we can fix immediately is competition for the for-profit insurance companies. We spend 31% of our health care dollars just on insurance. They spend a huge chunk of that 31% to generate shareholder profits, pay huge executive salaries, lobby congress, advertise to customers, and maintain a massive bureaucracy that is aimed at denying care to keep their own costs down. They're in business to make money, paying out claims is a necessary evil they try to minimize because that's how the financial incentives work. The Dutch have a private/public plan where the incentives are so different private insurers actually compete tooth and nail for diabetic customers. We need a public plan to keep them honest. You can't claim in one breath a government plan would be awful, denying care, have long lines, limit choice, produce a massive bureaucracy and then in the next claim it'll be such a sweet deal 119 million Americans will opt for it. You don't get to have it both ways folks.

Gingrich and Obama agree on electronic record keeping. Adopt the VA's system, it's about the best in the world. If you want to end fraud issue every American a smart health card like Taiwan does. It gets swiped every time you get care, and any treatment you get is recorded. Anyone trying to game the system is easily detected with it.

These are sensible, relatively easily implemented solutions. But from Republicans like Lieberman we get the same old scare tactics, "government bureaucrats are going to deny you coverage". I expect no better from the party who tried to manipulate the Terri Schaivo tragedy for political gain. A true conservative party, especially fiscal conservatives would be working hard to find ways to save us all money and fixing our broken system.

Until they stop using scare tactics and stop opposing everything the other side tries to do in a vain attempt to score political points and an adherence to failed ideology we ought to ignore them. Come to the table with good proposals and we'll listen. But if you keep using dishonest demagoguery to maintain the status quo and your political donor base we'll sideline you. We have no choice. American workers and business can't afford this system anymore. It's killing us. That goes for that creep Lieberman too.

Posted by: chemjeff | July 1, 2009 6:38 PM

Erich,
First, you'd be surprised how many people in rural areas don't have effective law enforcement or fire protection, because they live so far away from police & fire stations. They are, for all intents and purposes, on their own. So I would not fault them for wanting to opt out of paying for publicly-funded police & fire protection.

Second, I think you are comparing apples and oranges. Police and fire protection are publicly-funded services designed to cover a single area. If I live in the area but don't pay, I'm still covered, and therefore a freeloader. Health insurance does not operate that way. If you have health insurance and I don't, but I pay for everything out-of-pocket, then I'm not freeloading off of anyone. Actually, in a sense, you'd be freeloading off of me because those with insurance get discounts!

I suppose I'm simply of the mindset that individuals are better able to know what's best for them instead of big bureaucracies. And yes that includes insurance bureaucracies as well as government bureaucracies. I see this desire to force everyone to have insurance as inimical to the spirit of personal liberty. Surely there must be a better way than to have the nanny state dictate to everyone how they should live their lives.

Posted by: Consti2amend | July 1, 2009 7:54 PM

WeMustBeHeard,
You have NOT been reading some of the "back to the Earth" magazines lately, have you? If you had, you would know about the government intrusion into the old fashioned "Victory Gardens"! How about those "RFID's"?

What! You people aren't aware of what the government is planning for us?

Part of the government's plan for the "VG's" is to limit you as to WHAT you may grow! That's right! You will NEED permission from your "government representative" {aka, "Party Official"}, for what you want to grow. Raise something NOT "approved", and risk having your whole garden tilled under! If the "GR/PO" find someone in your neighborhood lacking in food, and you have NOT shared with them, risk having your garden tilled over!
No, do not go and bring some of your "bounty" to them, go hungry with them! Remember, a citizenry that is hungry, is dependent on the government for their help.

As for those "silly little RFID's", try to own some animals {chickens, goat, cow, sheep, etc.} without them! You will NOT be allowed to purchase any feed for them, nor would you be able to get a Veterinarian to check on them! In fact the Vet will be "forced" into reporting you to the local "GR/PO"! Because you have violated the LAW, you will be found guilty, and as yet, there is no real "set" punishment. You see, they are leaving this up to a beauracrat to administer!
Oh, and this may not be a "law" passed in the House, but by the same Beauracrats over in the NOW Liberal controlled FDA! You see, the FDA can "make" their own laws that HAVE to be followed!
BTW, you will be asessed by the number of animals you own, for your RFID's. If you have 6 chickens, two goats, and a cow, then you will be "charged" for a total of 9 RFID's. Sounds fair? When in actuality, the Government sponsored farmer with 10,000 chickens will "only" be asessed for one RFID!

It gets REALLY complicated from here, because they, our benevolent government will tell ALL of us, to "fear" those people who have NOT registerred their animals. They will use the excuse that without the RFID's, they, the "GR/PO", cannot keep track of ANY potential "Bird flu, swine flu, mad cow" outbreak!

Should I be wearing a "tin foil" hat now to?

Also, Norton Street, want to know why I carry a .45? Because they don't make a .46!! {LOL}

Posted by: Bill in Newhallville | July 1, 2009 10:08 PM

Chemjeff- Good point to bring up, We need to get this right. The finer details are important; what could work for my 80-year-old neighbor isn't necessarily going to work for my 23-year-old nephew. Universal healthcare needs to be flexible!
WeMustBeHeard- You have been heard! for far too long you're voice has been the only one listened to. If you can't understand that healthcare in this country is in dire need of help then you have been on your land for too long. i suggest you take a walk in the shoes of the millions of Americans who work just as hard as you do, own plenty of property, are clean and productive citizens but still can't get affordable care. I believe just as much as you do that the work ethic in this country has gone to hell, and people believe they are entitled to far too much but that doesn't mean people should be ashamed to ask for help in many cases. When the system in question is fundamentally inaccessible it must be changed for the better! That is a founding idea of our nation.
And for your concerns of "Marxism", i think you should study up; Marx is rolling in his grave for you lumping him and any "Obama voters", as you call them, together. I know real socialists and they could teach you a thing or two!
SHAME ON YOU!

Posted by: jack | July 1, 2009 11:01 PM

Half my family lives under Euro-socialism,if government run health-care comes here,we will be standing in line at the clinic,with half our paychecks gone.

Posted by: iBlogWestHartford | July 2, 2009 9:35 AM

Jack is right.

My mechanic's uncle lives just outside Paris.

Once, when he needed an X-ray, he had to wait in a line that stretched all from central Paris to Sidney, Australia.

I'd rather have no insurance or health care at ALL than have to go through THAT!!

Posted by: Neoavatara | July 2, 2009 10:52 AM

For those that don't believe doctors and hospitals take a loss from Medicare...it is true. I am a physician, and at best I break even with Medicare. Generally, we make up the difference on private insurers. So, in a sense, the private insurance system subsidizes medicare. Already we are seeing increasing pressures on medicare, to the point that we will start losing money. It is that point that some doctors will simply have to drop medicare, not out of choice but because we simply cannot afford to treat patients at a loss.

Posted by: visitor | July 2, 2009 2:04 PM

To "No rationing"
You'd prefer corporate interests making your health care decisions? Their bottom line is profit--as much as possible--not what may be best for you or your family's life. So that is REALLY what you want?

Posted by: Consti2amend | July 2, 2009 5:09 PM

TO; Bill in Newhallville

"When the system in question is fundamentally inaccessible it must be changed for the better! That is a founding idea of our nation."

There is NOTHING in our Constitution that even comes close to your comment!

Nowhere is it written that everyone HAS to have health insurance!

You do, on the other hand, have the RIGHT to life, liberty, and the PURSUIT if happiness!! And your right to life does NOT include health insurance!

Why should I be burdened with YOUR insurance cost? If the Obamassiah wants ALL people to have health insurance, get rid of MOST of the other "Social Programs", i.e. welfare, food stamps, etc, for a start!! Maybe even Section 8 housing!
Hey, wait a minute! That could be where he can get the money for the Health Insurance for ALL! I meen, even those people listed above have health coverage! But then again, EVERYONE has health coverage! Go to the Hospital of your choice, and get "FREE" care!
My insurance company is already paying for you! My insurance company gets billed at a higher rate, just to pay for the "UN-insured".

Keep making us pay for those who "don't have". Is it OUR fault others don't have what I have? I have worked ALL of my life, sometimes at two OR more jobs! Just so I could provide more for MY family! I am "fed-up" with having to pay out more AND more for others, who are "laking"! Get ANOTHER job! Join a union!
As an adult, aside from my "regular" job, I have done yard work, garbage pick-up, painting, house cleaning, car repairs, bicycle repairs, house remodeling, wash/wax cars,trucks,motorcycles,and airplanes! I have even gone so far as to spend 5 weeks, altogether, in Mississippi and Louisianna, after Huricane Katrina. My time on the Gulf Coast, of course, was as a volunteer! But let me make this perfectly clear, I volunteered! I did not go looking for money there, and I did NOT get any either!
So any of you out there that "don't make enough money for health insurance", should: A, get a second job, B. get a third job, C. get a real job{!}, D. just use MY health insurance when you go to the hospital, E. ALL of the above, F. NONE of the above!
Just leave me with MY own money!! It may NOT buy me happiness, but let ME buy what I want, with MY own money!

Posted by: Esther Confino | July 3, 2009 9:13 AM

Senator Lieberman is still in the dark ages on the issue of health care. Where does he get his information? How much money has he received from the medical industrial complex that is going to banrupt our country. I hope he has a rival when he comes up for election again and is roundly defeated.

Posted by: nero | July 6, 2009 1:35 AM

The rest of the developed world has figured out universal health care, why is this such a wrenching decision for the U.S.? Don't believe the lies propagated by Joe Lieberman and other health insurance industry bloodsuckers.

Posted by: jacksmith | July 16, 2009 11:55 PM

THIS IS IT!

The healthcare reform bill released by the House Of Representatives is an excellent bill as I understand it. It's a bill with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. It is carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. This bill will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives.

This is the type of bill that all Americans can feel good about. And this is the type of bill that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. This bill has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bill should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind this healthcare reform bill released by the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

You should all now support this bill with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. This healthcare bill is a VERY, VERY GOOD! bill for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of this bill if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for this bill.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!

SPREAD THE WORD

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSM8t_cLZgk&feature=player_embedded)

God Bless You

Jack Smith -- Working Class

Posted by: Loren Boston | August 2, 2009 8:46 PM

Where is Joe Lieberman going to be during the August recess? I would like to go see him face-to-face and express my opinion regarding Obama's efforts to change our nation's healhcare system. Anyone who has an opinion should go see Joe Lieberman before it's too late.

Posted by: Mike | August 16, 2009 1:38 PM

Healthcare should be fixed, not destroyed by government-run insurance plan.

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