Tag Archives: Lewin Group

What is in a headline: dance puppets dance..

I know it’s ‘en vogue’  to wish the downfall of your country these days, but is there some reason why people want to rush it to such a catastrophic  end?

Look at Drudge recently.. I know he’s a hack whose only concern is President Obama’s failure and how much he can hasten the end of the free world, but really? how is this a good thing?

KISS THE DOLLAR GOODBYE

His apocalyptic story today, like his equally frightening story last week

ARAB STATES LAUNCH SECRET MOVES WITH CHINA, RUSSIA, FRANCE TO STOP USING DOLLAR FOR OIL TRADING-

Drudge report

which I admit, I fell for..can cause some serious damages to the people who live in this country. I am OK with putting this stuff out there if it’s true because I believe information is a good thing, but when it’s  been proven if not completely false,  then exquisitely tainted and still being used as news, news reporting is no longer the goal.

Since the 1st story’s headline and reaction, it has been learned that everyone from head of the Saudi central bank to U.S. officials have been scrambling to get the word out that it is not true. The source for the original is a unknown, the reason for the original story is unknown… but the effects of the story that even Glenn Beck latched on to.. are known.

But one thing is for certain: With the price of gold jumping to $1,048.20 per ounce, traders who moved early enough stood to make millions.-

Politco

Ironically enough, the jump in gold prices was also a major Drudge headline “GOLD HIGH! *” just one day after his siren-waling headline ARAB PLOT TO DROP DOLLAR headline. I would hope ‘greed’ isn’t the only reason for what is going on here. I know there is money to be made in the failure of an empire but please don’t tell me that is what this is really about.  At least tell me this is more ‘pure'( if there is such a thing) than just simple greed. The Politico story refers to man who wrote the original, unsourced claim as a British journalist who has lived in Beirut for over 30 years and is the one of a few people to have interviewed Osama Bin Laden,  but it also saysthat he is  “increasingly associated with more radical theories thus weakening the credibility of the story.” Please tell me good old fashion foreign hatred of America is behind this, not domestic greed.

I mentioned Glenn Beck. He did a scare-tactic.. I mean “show” a few days after the Drudge line on the sinking dollar and rising gold prices.. what exactly is his reason for this ‘dollar dropping- woe is me’ story?

Goldline is Glenn Beck’s Choice for Gold

Before I started turning you on to Goldline, I wanted to look them in the eye. This is a top notch organization thats been in business since 1960. Glenn Beck

"Before I started turning you on to Goldline, I wanted to look them in the eye. This is a top notch organization that's been in business since 1960." Glenn Beck

Do these others, like Beck , also have a stake in the gold market? Is that where this need comes from…  Greed? I don’t know where all this will end up, where the country will be 20 years from now, but I do hope we can regain some of the pride in America that we seem have lost when a black man was elected President. I do hope that one day we will rejoice when an American President wins a Nobel Peace Prize, when Americans almost sweep all the other Nobel categories, and I hope that we will rejoice that we have won an Olympic venue instead of rejoicing our loss to another country.
We spent 8 years calling anyone who did not fall in goose-step with the Bush Administration either a terrorist, a terrorist sympathizer, or just plain unpatriotic. I don’t know what kind of patriotism is being shown these days, but it’ s not the kind I grew up with, the kind where even if you didn’t like the quarterback you still rooted for the home team if you were sitting in the home-team stands. I understand the greed in the healthcare debate because I can see it, I can point to who is paying for the bullshit, who is hocking the bullshit and who is benefiting from it. But I can’t see how any one in this country benefits from the destruction of it. Can you?
Maybe the FTC has the right idea in forcing blogs to inform readers if they have received compensation for their opinion and for advertisers to disclose  studies by research institutes they help fund.  That regulation sure would have made a difference in the use of the “Lewin Groups” data on healthcare reform had they been forced to disclose that they are owned  by the largest health insurance company in the US.  Is there a free speech issue here? I don’t know. What I do know is that we can’t continue allowing a recluse to dictate world events like he is the marionette puppet master, having  faux newscaster crying the ‘dollar’ is falling when they have an investment in gold prices, a research group reporting the dangers of health reform owned by the insurance company fighting against all reform and an un-sourced suggestion from a slightly questionable journalist turn this country into their playground to ruin.  We are in a precarious situation as it is, there is no need to hasten a pre-ordained ending just because it amuses you to do so.

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My reply to lil mike

ekg here…what you’re about to read is  what lil Mike and I do, this is where we are in our comfort zone and where we excel. It’s long, it’s tedious, but the final result is an all out information explosive.. We have done this kind of exchange for years on muchedumbre.com. When we started ‘blogging’, we forgot that which made us great… the quote/reply debate, because it’s hard to get into that sort of debate in a ‘blog-comment’ section..

well, not anymore…

Here is my rebuttal to Lil Mike’s

Public Option? -> Only Option

Feel free to join in the debate in the comment sections.

..

” But one thing is clear, if it’s going to be reform in any way that Obama and the far left of the Democratic Party care about, it’s got to have the “Public Option.”  Right now the administration is having it both ways.  On the one hand it’s saying that it has no intention of driving private insurers out of business, but on the other hand, reassuring Congressional Democrats that the President is still committed to having a public option as part of his vision of health care reform.

Why the Public Option?  The formal answer was included in Obama’s letter to Senators Kennedy and Baucus:

“I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.”

Competition?  There are approximately 1300 health insurance providers in the US.  Really, will 1301 really make the difference and suddenly lead to “a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest?”  That’s all it would take, just one more provider?  The idea is so ridiculous that you would have to be a White House journalist to buy it.”

Ok, will one more provider really make a difference? Absofuckinglutley!  Yes, 1300 companies offering the same shitty product would actually have to offer a better option if a bigger and better player came on to the scene. Your debate isn’t whether the Government can offer a product that will make the other companies provide a better choice, your argument is… Should the Government offer that product at all.. So let’s not play games with throwing in all this other stuff..

“What makes the public option the crown jewel of any health care reform plan?  It’s the camel’s nose under the tent for single payer government healthcare.  No, this isn’t just Republican scare-mongering.  I can hardly imagine any other conclusion for the insistence on a government healthcare plan.  And it’s easy to see how it would happen.  The logic is this:  One of the keys of health care reform is an individual mandate, but you can’t very well have one if people cannot afford to buy health insurance, so you have to provide an option for people too poor to pay.  Enter the public option.  An analysis of several public option scenarios shows that premiums could be 30 to 40 percent less than comparable private plans.  That of course hinges on the government paying reimbursement rates comparable to Medicare, which are 70-80 percent of what private insurers pay.”

I read your Lewin Group PDF analysis it was interesting.. until I Googled them and found out that..

Lewin Group is) part of Ingenix, which is owned by United Healthcare Group, the insurance behemoth that has been buying up insurance companies left and right, expanding its reach into just about every segment of the health-insurance market. Its flagship, UnitedHealthcare, helps make it the largest health insurer in the country. It’s a safe bet that United is not too keen on a public plan that might shrink its business.

Now I don’t find them credible in this discussion..Sorry about that but seriously, you wouldn’t allow me to use Rahm’s notes as actual unbiased data would you?But let’s address this ‘fear-mongering’ warpath scream of “Single Payer Healthcare-Oh My”..  Why is it that every time a Democrat tries to do anything you Pub’s start screaming ‘Government take-over!” “Government Control” “States Right!” and“Give me Liberty” , when after 8 years of massive Government abuse, Lenin-ish intrustion, insane Government spending,  and obscene Government entitlements there was nothing but the sound-bite of “If you’re not with the President, you are with the terrorists” to anyone who raised a fart of a question?

But now, Oh My God! We’re killing health care…!! We’re taxing people too much..!! Businesses will crumble..!!

really?

Did you know that Bush’s medicare proposal was…

…aimed to inject market forces into Medicare by encouraging beneficiaries to enroll in government-subsidized private health plans that would compete directly with the traditional government-run, fee-for-service program. The drug benefit would be the chief inducement for seniors to make the switch to private plans.

Maybe I missed it, but were there Fox News sponsored Tea-parties for that?

Something else I just found out (by the way, this is why Mike and I do this so well… during our hunt for facts we often find other facts that come in handy in other debates) “The Patriot Act and Department of Homeland Security was the brainchild of one William Jefferson Clinton.” Sure the website is a little nutty and over the top in it’s ‘doomsday’ opinions, and in all seriousness I shouldn’t link it because you will use it against me, but what the hell.. it pretty much spells out everything I’m saying about what the Pubs were happy to do with a Pub leader and shit themselves when it’s a Democrat doing the same thing. Best of all, it does it with the same chicken-little hyperbole you guys are using now..

In short, Bush’s encouragement to beneficiaries to enroll out of their private plans and into the government plan didn’t bring about “Single-Payer Storm troopers” and neither will President Obama’s. But if… if it did, once again you can thank Bush for that ummm…camel nose under the tent… since he started the ball rolling… 😉

Of course I loathe the ‘It’s Bush’s fault” argument.. It was fun for a few years there, but now it’s just old,crusty and only garners a slight roll of the eyes… The problem is, there are just so many fucking things that are his fault and you Pubs are just now finding that out because Obama is following in his footsteps on alot of them. So as loathsome as it is to say.. it’s still applicable.

Moving on…


“So one of the ways the Obama plan controls costs is just by paying the doctors and hospitals less.  I’m sure that will make a great incentive for people to go into the medical field.  And who wouldn’t want to be taxed to subsidize their competitor?”

President Obama will pay doctors less and therefore who would ever go into the med field.. An addendum to this argument is the.. “we will become a 3rd world health care system because there will be no incentives (money) for research”… OK 1st, we already are below many 3rd world countries when it comes to our health care and as for the rest? Well,  I can think of one disease that if it wasn’t for the French, not only would we still be calling it GRID, who knows when someone would have been able to isolate the AIDS retrovirus. Hell, it was a German who discovered that HPV was the leading cause in cervical cancer…

As for being paid less? When did we lose that ‘country doctor’ mentality of people becoming a doctor to help people? Was it around the same time insurance companies first started popping up? I’d really love to see a study on the correlation of the emergence of insurance companies and their control and doctors treating people less because it’s what they dream of doing and more to try and become a million by the time they are 30.

In short, I don’t know what President Obama’s plans on the pay scale for doctors and hospitals is. I know that right now we spend more money on administration costs than just about anything else. Medicare proves that you only need to spend 2% on admin costs and still function admirably.. $230 billion a year is spent in California alone on administration costs, Obama’s plan cost less than 1/2 that for the entire country.. so why those  massive saving would not trickle down throughout the system is beyond me.  To me, it would seem that if $25 from every $100 doctor visit that went to insurance administration now, was cut to $2, the doctor would be seeing a hell of alot better of a return.

“First, the same analysis shows that depending on the premium rate for the public option, 119 million people could lose their private health insurance…If the public plan has lower premiums, what do they care what rate their doctor gets paid at?  Others would find themselves dumped.  Why would companies want the expense of maintaining their own health insurance coverage when a public plan can offer lower premiums?”


I addressed this somewhat above when I brought Bush’s plan to get people off the private rolls and onto the public ones  to your attention already, but that’s not my argument against it, a bad plan is a bad plan no matter who the President is, something the Republican  religion doesn’t like to admit..My argument is this… I believe you are wrong.. those insurance companies will be forced to compete with the new plan.. they will have to offer something else, whether it be a lower premium or more coverage or an annual trip to Bermuda..whatever.. I mean do you seriously think they’ll just keel over and die? Hell no, they’ll find something that their competitor doesn’t have and offer it..

Back in the 90’s I was fired for being pregnant, lost my insurance(not that I had prenatal anyway), and was forced to go on Medicaid. HMO’s were exploding at that time and you were forced to pick either an HMO or straight medicaid. There was many HMO’s to chose from  and they all pretty much offered the same plans as each other and medicaid but since there was competition, the HMO’s decided to offer other incentives to get people to enroll in their plan. It was piddly shit like  children vitamins each month with this one, free contacts with that one, free vitamins,contacts and bubble gum with the other..(ok, not really on the bubble gum.. but you get the point).. the catch was you had to use their doctors,their hospitals and their pharmacies. Or you could stick with medicaid and go with pretty much whoever you wanted. I liked my doctor and she took medicaid so I chose that path. So when you tell me that a government sponsored plan will not only force people out of their private plan but will force private plans to close up shop and move away.. I laugh! These companies want to succeed today just as much as they want to succeed tomorrow and they will find a way to entice employers to keep paying them.. Whether that be free vitamins or a free trip to Bora-Bora for the employer who signs up the most employees onto their plan.Most, if not all, will adapt and  survive… and those that don’t? Well, you don’t mind when they fall in a full capitalistic society do you?

So why is a Public plan the only option? Because without it there is no change.. With it there is a crack in the monopoly-like hold insurance companies have on this country and it’s leaders. They have never had to worry about regulation and competition before and now they are throwing out all the buzz words that make  conservative hard.. “Socialism”..”Government sponsored”..”Government entitlement”… and to that I say Pshaw! Look what the debate has already done for health care… before a person was actually denied  treatment for her cancer because her insurance company said an outbreak of pimples in her past constituted a ‘pre-existing conditions’.Pimples!  But now all of a sudden insurance companies are screaming that sure,  they can get rid of the pre-existing conditions clause. The debate alone is forcing other companies to offer more benefits at a lower cost to women in some states.. The debate alone is changing health care for the better.. If the debate is cleaning up health care and the conglomerate-do-as-they-please  hold on health care that the insurance companies have.. then I am encouraged as to what an actual Public Plan will be able to do.

So, the cost factor? One state already pays 1 and 1/2 times more for just the administrative costs than the public plan for an entire country.

The reduction of doctor’s fee and hospital costs? The savings from the decrease in administration costs should increase what the medical providers see.

The loss of research and cutting edge medicine? You walk into the  Pasteur Institute and tell them they’re a 2nd tier institute.

Socialism? Please.. George Socialist Bush!

The loss of a free market? No, more like the opening of a closed market and forcing it to become competitive to survive..

Yes… Public Option? is the only Option

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Public Option? -> Only Option

It’s difficult to figure out amidst all of the swirling mess that makes up “health care reform” just what exactly is getting reformed.  President Obama learned the lesson of the Hillarycare debacle and has been pretty cagey on specifics, even when he is expecting to sign a bill on it by the end of the summer.  Of course, Hillarycare was a full blown plan that could be analyzed and picked apart.  Obama is not interested in having the same result so the few real details that have been leaked have been rather limited.  Of course, with this Congress, who needs details?  They’re more than willing to vote for a bill unread and fresh off the presses.  After all, as Congressperson Malibu Stacy might say, “Thinking too much gives you wrinkles.” 

 

But one thing is clear, if it’s going to be reform in any way that Obama and the far left of the Democratic Party care about, it’s got to have the “Public Option.”  Right now the administration is having it both ways.  On the one hand it’s saying that it has no intention of driving private insurers out of business, but on the other hand, reassuring Congressional Democrats that the President is still committed to having a public option as part of his vision of health care reform. 

 

Why the Public Option?  The formal answer was included in Obama’s letter to Senators Kennedy and Baucus:

 

“I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.”

 

 

Competition?  There are approximately 1300 health insurance providers in the US.  Really, will 1301 really make the difference and suddenly lead to “a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest?”  That’s all it would take, just one more provider?  The idea is so ridiculous that you would have to be a White House journalist to buy it.

 

What makes the public option the crown jewel of any health care reform plan?  It’s the camel’s nose under the tent for single payer government healthcare.  No, this isn’t just Republican scare-mongering.  I can hardly imagine any other conclusion for the insistence on a government healthcare plan.  And it’s easy to see how it would happen.  The logic is this:  One of the keys of health care reform is an individual mandate, but you can’t very well have one if people cannot afford to buy health insurance, so you have to provide an option for people too poor to pay.  Enter the public option.  An analysis of several public option scenarios shows that premiums could be 30 to 40 percent less than comparable private plans.  That of course hinges on the government paying reimbursement rates comparable to Medicare, which are 70-80 percent of what private insurers pay. 

 

So one of the ways the Obama plan controls costs is just by paying the doctors and hospitals less.  I’m sure that will make a great incentive for people to go into the medical field.  And who wouldn’t want to be taxed to subsidize their competitor?

 

But that’s not the fiscal time bomb.  First, the same analysis shows that depending on the premium rate for the public option, 119 million people could lose their private health insurance.  Some of course, would voluntarily flee.  If the public plan has lower premiums, what do they care what rate their doctor gets paid at?  Others would find themselves dumped.  Why would companies want the expense of maintaining their own health insurance coverage when a public plan can offer lower premiums?  Private plans of course have to have doctors and facilities join their networks voluntarily. Not an issue for the government.

 

Another issue is that the Obama administration, in order to help finance their reform schemes, wants to make it more difficult for employers and employees to pay for health care benefits.  One plan is to tax the employee health care benefits by capping the employee health care exclusion.  That excludes company health care benefits from an employee’s taxable income.  Another actually violates one of Obama’s campaign promises, not to tax health care benefits.  Obama criticized John McCain’s plan to tax employer health care benefits during the campaign, but at least McCain was going to transfer the tax benefit to individuals to enable them to purchase health insurance with a tax credit.  Obama is just keeping the money for the federal trough. 

 

Driving Private health insurance out of the market has happened before.  TennCare was supposed to be Tennessee’s version of “the public option.”  The goal was to reduce health care costs by covering a larger group of lower income people than were normally covered by Medicaid guidelines.  Many features of TennCare mirrored some of the Obama health reform proposals.  The few remaining insurance companies have dumped their most expensive members onto the public plan, and the cost has far exceeded projections.  Closed hospitals, doctors fleeing the state, uncontrolled spiraling cost… that’s our future.

 

It’s fairly easy to see how this will play out if we get the public option.  First it will cover a few of the lower middle class, and then the taxes on both employers and employees will push some companies that are in marginal fiscal health (a rather large number since we are in a recession) to drop their plans.  Eventually, it will make no sense to provide a health insurance benefit when it no longer provides any tax benefit to the company or to the employee.  As the companies in Tennessee discovered, it was easier and less hassle to pay the extra penalty tax for not providing health insurance to it’s employees.  Eventually, a health insurance benefit will be as uncommon for the average American worker as a defined benefit pension plan now is.  The government will end up with the healthcare costs of most of the American workforce.

 

At that point, the rationing will begin, but that’s another story.

 

What I can’t figure out, is why the government would want to take up an open ended financial liability that it does not currently have, to provide a service that is currently being provided by the free market, and in doing so destroy large segments of the economy that is now providing that service?  Anyone?   Bueller?  If there is a better reason than just runaway statism that wants to make dependent charges of its citizens, I would love to hear it.

 

Now does President Obama know what he’s doing, or does he sincerely not see how his plans would destroy the private insurance market?  He gave a little clue during his June press conference on health care.  When asked by ABC’s Jake Tapper how he could guarantee that cheaper public plans wouldn’t drive out employer funded private care.

 

“When I say if you have your plan and you like it,…or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don’t have to change plans, what I’m saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform…”

 

 

That’s a change from earlier comments on the same issue:

 

“If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

 

 

OK now I guess you can lose your health plan.  Period.

 

At that point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if President Obama had turned to the camera and winked.

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