A.J. DiCintio
Healthcare reform: the good, the bad, the ugly
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By A.J. DiCintio
August 29, 2009

Regarding the current healthcare debate, it is inarguable that to cover the entirety of The Bad and The Ugly alone, one needs to write more pages than those that make up the bill Obama et al. have been incubating in congressional backrooms where something else having to do with chickens is produced by the tons every day.

What to do, then, except to conscientiously limit this piece, an endeavor that not only gives emphasis to a few very important details but also displays a keen sensitivity to politicians so brutally overworked that they can't find time to read bills they insist are absolutely essential for the nation's well being.

The Good

Recently, I wrote about former treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who recommends that before doing anything else regarding healthcare, we need to alleviate a great deal of suffering and save a trillion dollars annually by implementing known procedures to eliminate infections and pneumonia acquired in hospitals, falls that occur in hospitals, and medication errors that number in the hundreds of millions.

Now, what can possibly be the objection to Mr. O'Neill's plan to eliminate these and other "process failures"? That the suffering is insignificant? That the savings turn out to be "only" $100 billion a year?

In the same article, I mentioned Dr. Atul Gawande, who has investigated the shameful waste in Medicare resulting from unnecessary medical procedures that common sense tells us can be attributed only to (1) doctors putting their checkbooks first (2) doctors protecting themselves from lawsuits (3) blatant fraud and (4) incompetence.

Here, again, sensible reform will create huge savings, without the need for any pharmacological or technological advances.

To those common sense concepts, it is essential that any accounting of The Good mention ideas advanced by Doctors Gawande, Donald Berwick, Elliott Fisher and Mark McClellan, who opened a New York Times op-ed earlier this month with this statement:

Americans have recognized that our health system is bankrupting us and that we have dealt with this by letting the system price more and more people out of health care.

Having begun with the simple truth that healthcare inflation cannot continually outstrip the growth of GDP, the doctors observe that current healthcare reform speaks only of "raising taxes or rationing care," with the result that "The public is understandably alarmed."

However, they argue, what we are hearing from politicians in Washington doesn't represent the whole truth because "There is a far more desirable alternative" which is "to change how care is delivered so that it is both less expensive and more effective."

The evidence that this alternative exists and is practicable?

The doctors enumerate not just the admirable accomplishments of institutions such as the highly respected Mayo and Cleveland clinics (where, among other innovations, doctors "work on salary") but of creative "[healthcare] communities all over America. . . [found in] towns big and small, urban and rural, North and South, East and West."

Each of "these successful communities," they report, "[tell] the same simple story: better, safer, lower-cost care is within reach."

Better, safer, lower-cost health care already being delivered And the doctors don't even delve into how reforming anti-trust and tort law can save huge sums annually in health insurance premiums, drug costs, and other medical costs, thereby allowing us to "[banish] the phrase pre-existing condition" as well as "[find] ways to pay for coverage for those who can't afford it without help."

Yes, this is the kind of reform the American people ought to be discussing at town hall meetings instead of being forced to attend them to defend themselves, their families, and their neighbors from the idiocies of politicians madly in love with power and money.

The Bad

As alluded to at the outset, it would be cruel and unusual punishment to inundate readers with a complete listing of the dangerous, wasteful, self-serving proposals Democrats have stuffed into the idea they call healthcare "reform."

Fortunately, however, the following brief observations suffice to make the point about the perversity of the Democratic plan:

Barack Obama and congressional Democrats could have approached reform by listening to ordinary Americans, leaders such as O'Neill and Whole Foods' John Mackey, as well as to doctors such as those mentioned above.

However, in a frighteningly megalomaniacal, astonishingly stupid act that calls to mind Melville's Ahab, they proposed, under the guise of "reform," to fundamentally change, in a period of two mere months, the entire healthcare system (16% of the economy) through a thousand page bill that contains a provision for massive government intervention based upon the slogan, "The more, the better!"

For an example of the insulting political shenanigans Obama & Friends are willing to engage in to secure an Everest-sized addition to federal power, consider this:

The pharmaceutical industry will spend $150 million to run television ads in support of Obamacare.

Why? Well, in talks with the White House and Congress, the industry agreed to produce $80 billion in savings over 10 years in exchange for a promise that it would otherwise be allowed to conduct its business as usual.

With whom exactly did Obama, Emanuel, Pelosi, Reid, Baucus, & Company "negotiate" this "fantastic" deal?

Who else but Billy Tauzin, the head of PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America).

. . . The Billy Tauzin who was a Blue Dog congressman from Louisiana

. . . who metamorphosed himself into a Republican congressman

. . . who smoothed the congressional path for Bush's (unpaid for) Medicare prescription bill (a bill that meant huge new sales for drug makers but prohibited Medicare from negotiating discounts on drugs)

. . . who less than a month after the bill's passage announced he would not run for re-election

. . . who began working for PhRMA at a salary reported to be $2 million a year the very day his congressional term ended

. . . whose PhRMA and coalition partners "somehow" learned about and then hired AKPD (David Axelrod's former company) and GMMB to produce ads for Obamacare

(Those two media companies did hundreds of millions in business with the Obama campaign.)

Politician Barack Obama and a former pol turned lobbyist working like blood brothers in the nation's biggest, most powerful, most perverse family business.

It's a fact, but it's also a metaphor for what's going on regarding healthcare "reform" in Washington.

How's that for "Change we can believe in"?

The Ugly

Nancy Pelosi has characterized the entirety of the town hall protest movement with the slur, "They're [emphasis added] carrying swastikas and symbols like that."

Harry Reid has also resorted to ugly name-calling, condemning protestors as "evil-mongers" who spread "lies, innuendo, and rumor."

Now, Pelosi and Reid deserve credit for saying what they believe in clear, precise language thereby rising above the cowardice of the ordinary, doublespeaking politician.

But honesty and directness don't change the nature of vile, arrogant, anti-intellectual venom spewed from two of the nation's most powerful politicians, one just "two heartbeats away" from becoming president.

Unfortunately, the odious name-calling doesn't end there; for a number of the president's supporters have denounced opponents of Obamacare as racists thereby revealing, as they play what is too gently called the "race card," their eager willingness to engage in behavior as contemptible as that of the race-baiter.

To his shameful discredit, Chris Matthews of "Hardball" earned his stripes as a race-carding fraud when, upon interviewing Governor Ed Rendell (PA) and Stephen Moore (WSJ), he accused opponents of Obamacare of racism while conveniently forgetting to ask the governor a few questions about race.

But then it must have occurred to the MSNBC host with a thrilled-leg man-crush on Obama that during the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Governor Rendell said this about the state's Democratic voters:

I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.

Matthews also forgot to ask the governor what his fellow Pennsylvanian and Democratic VIP John Murtha thinks about racism.

But then Matthews surely recalled that Murtha said this about his own constituents:

There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.

Of course, because he draws his slime from the same cesspool, Matthews remained quiet about how many Democratic leaders regularly fill buckets with reeking race cards, dipping from them to spit filth against those, even members of their own party, who oppose their ideology or policies.

And like the rest of the incestuous, self-professed moral and intellectual giants of the American left, he remains oblivious of his contemptibly ironic, disgustingly hypocritical, repulsively pretentious behavior.

Fortunately, as polling shows, the public is aware that the anything goes ugliness spewing from the mouths of Pelosi, Reid, Matthews, and their ilk has nothing to do with an honest debate about healthcare reform but everything to do with what liberals are really up to.

As usual, it's all about arrogance and transferring power to the level of government most remote from the people.

© A.J. DiCintio

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.

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