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Obama at Health Care Town Hall: “I’m not in favor of death”

Obama at Health Care Town Hall: “I’m not in favor of death”

I’m not in favor of death,” said President Obama during New Hampshire’s Health Care Town Hall Meeting. That he had to say it speaks volumes about the misunderstandings and misconceptions of the hotly debated health care reform bills currently working their way through Congress.

The false rumor that the House of Representatives voted for death panels that will pull the plug on the elderly because it’s too expensive to let them live, or variations around that theme, arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allows Medicare to reimburse seniors for consultations for end-of-life care. There is nothing in the bill that speaks to forcing such consultations, or forcing anyone to choose death. There are no death panels, no death squads, no Nazi death marches involved. No, none of the bills favors enforced death.

The President also addressed another hot button issue — Medicare. Many seniors are worried that their Medicare benefits will be slashed. Instead of slashing benefits, the goal is to eliminate insurance subsidies (insurance companies get billions of dollars of taxpayer money for services Medicare already provides right now) and work with hospitals’ reimbursement practices in order to be more efficient and save money. That exactly why the AARP has endorsed reform and made it a priority.

What about the public option? There is some confusion about a universal plan versus a single-payer plan. A single-payer plan would be like Medicare for all — similar to Canada’s system, in which the government is the only entity that pays for all health care, and all citizens are covered. That’s not currently in play.

A universal plan is one which offers every single person insurance at an affordable price. Those happy with their employer-based coverage or private insurance plans would be able to keep them. Those who do not have such plans, or are not satisfied with their plans, would be able to buy from a public plan or exchange, a big pool of private companies, which will drive down costs. It’s a viable option for small businesses and individuals who do not have access to affordable coverage.

Universal coverage in this case won’t amount to 100 percent coverage, though. Estimates are that under the plans currently in Congress, 37 – 38 million additional Americans will be covered — considerably less than the estimated 46 million uninsured.

President Obama acknowledged that tensions are high. “I recognize there is an underlying fear that people won’t get the care they need.” That’s exactly why there is a need for comprehensive reform

Saying that he “won’t sign a bill that adds to the deficit or the national debt,” the President noted that 2/3 of the expense would be covered by eliminating the inefficiencies we now endure and that different ideas regarding funding are still being explored in Congress.

A self-described skeptic asked why the President has not used his bully pulpit to chastise congress — after all, they have one health care system for themselves, and another for the rest of us. Obama responded that if we don’t tackle reform, that gap will only get bigger. The goal is that all Americans have the same kinds of options as Congress. That’s what the health care exchange is all about. 

And one more time… there are no “death panels.”

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11:03AM PDT on Aug 27, 2009

I would not want to refuse anyone medical care if they are taken to the ER for a life threatening situation. It's been suggested by some that illegals pay a small fee for care in the ER, perhaps $25 or less, and that would cut down on using the ER for minor problems. Illegals should not get US driver's licenses, in-state tuition (which out-of-state US citizens, of course, can't take advantage of) and other freebies. I'm happy to have any immigrants come here and become legal citizens. I'm not anti-Hispanic. And how is giving amnesty to illegals and having open borders going to help the situation? I've lived on the El Paso-Juarez border for 6 years and the situation there only gets worse & worse with the passage of time. Drugs & crime are a huge problem there. I've never been to CA. I can only imagine the problems faced there. We cannot afford to support illegals.

12:37PM PDT on Aug 23, 2009

As a resident of CA who is usually living in ERs because of my disability, I have heard and seen more evidence of Sandra's contention than Ray's. Somehow the issue illegals must be resolved. I mean our governor wants to give CA driver licenses to these people who may have come over to get a better start or have been great contributors to society, but got here wrong OR IT COULD BE people who came over here for thrills and are causing problems. They all get equal benefits?

10:37AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

"[They] are very careful about not getting in trouble with the law." Illegals are just that...illegals. They are already in violation of the law.

"Although in all fairness they are better at paying their exorbitant ER bills than ANYONE else without insurance in this country." According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in 2004 California's estimated cost of unreimbursed medical care was $1.4 billion. Texas estimated its cost at $850 million annually, and Arizona at $400 million.

Non-border states shoulder heavy burdens as well. Virginia's annual cost of providing health care for undocumented workers is approximately $100 million per year, FAIR reports, while Florida's health care cost is about $300 million annually. Doesn't sound like they're doing such a good job of paying for all those ER costs. It may be contended that undocumented workers who are gainfully employed and receiving benefits such as health insurance are contributing to society. But the fact remains that, once equipped with a fake ID, a person in the United States illegally can obtain both a job and the benefits that go with it. Most uninsured illegals who need medical attention obtain it from hospital emergency rooms. And several states are already straining under the huge burden of paying for the health costs of illegal aliens.

10:25AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

Overall, the post office had revenue of $74.9 billion, operating expenses of $72.1 billion and a health benefit fund payment of $5.6 billion for a net loss of $2.8 billion. The fiscal year began Oct. 1.
"August 4, 2009: The postal service, like all government monopolies, is an inefficient sinkhole. Private companies like UPS and Federal Express give much better service. Consumer Reports found that, again and again, the private deliverers get it there faster.
The private competitors also make a profit doing it, so they don’t ask for taxpayer handouts. They outperform the post office, even though the post office has huge advantages. It pays no federal tax, no state tax, and no parking tickets. Often they don't even pay rent. They don't pay to register their vehicles. Check out a license plate spot on a post office truck -- nothing there.
The postal service always promises future solvency, but keeps losing your money: $7 billion this year despite a 2-cent rate increase."

10:23AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

The Post Office is losing money. It ended its fiscal year in '08 $2.8 billion in the red. It is planning on stopping delivery of mail on Saturdays and closing 700 P.O.'s, cutting hours and overtime to cut costs & offering early retirement. By cutting back on spending the post office had a net operating income of $2.7 billion in 2008, but still ended up in the red because of the requirement for a $5.6 billion payment to a health benefit fund for retirees.

The $2.8 billion loss was well short of the previous year's $5.1 billion postal deficit. UPS and FedEx are not allowed to deliver 1st Class mail. Only USPS.

10:03AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

As far as illegals receiving health care, they already do most of the time. Although in all fairness they are better at paying their exorbitant ER bills than ANYONE else without insurance in this country. This is because they hope to be able to normalize their migratory status one day, and believe they will have a better chance to do so if they have a good credit record, which is true for the most part. They usually avoid any sort of social services as well for the same reason and are very careful about not getting in trouble with the law. (Although there are exceptions as with any group of people.) I know these things to be true as I worked in Public Health Care.

However, despite the fact that a majority of Americans now believe that current proposals would include coverage for illegals as a result of the blatant lies propagated by republicants and lobbyists, this is simply untrue.

None of the proposed health care reform bills propose giving care to illegals. If future pieces of legislation propose this feel free to oppose them on those grounds, but it is absurd to oppose a bill for something it does not propose.

But then again, most things Republicants believe are pretty absurd and they will probably continue with their hatred and fear-mongering no matter what I say.

9:54AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

The Post Office has made over a Billion dollars in profit each year for the last 5 years, and has offered incredibly affordable and reliable service. That point is moot. The point President Obama was making was that there was still room for private enterprises to compete.

8:28AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

Obama and the Dems in Congress are doing more than a fine job of spending money all by themselves. Can we get past the blame Bush for all that is wrong with the planet? Was Bush perfect? Hardly, but he's not currently president. Let's concentrate on the here & now. Pres. Obama gave a great example himself of how well the gov't runs things by talking about the problems of the US P.O. and how well UPS and FedEx are doing. I really want improved health care, but I don't think the gov't is doing a great job managing things. Financially, the US is in a heap of trouble.

I disagree that the estimated 12 million illegals aren't potentially going to receive free health care. 17 July '09, Dems moved one step closer to giving free health insurance to our estimated 12 million illegal aliens when they successfully defeated a Republican-backed amendment, offered by Rep. Dean Heller, R-NV., that would have prevented illegal aliens from receiving government-subsidized health care under the proposed plan backed by House Democrats and President Barack Obama. The House Ways and Means Committee nixed the Heller amendment. None of the legislation under consideration actually requires any state, federal, or local agency to check the immigration status of those who apply for the program. Illegals already use the ER to receive medical care at a huge cost to taxpayers.
Even if illegals were to not benefit from H.C. reform, amnesty is next on the agenda.

12:26AM PDT on Aug 20, 2009

Jim, I wrote this earlier but it didn't take. When I said I had to get used to your irony, it was because of the 2 ironic comments I took seriously. I am grateful that you support Medicare. Maybe you'll be the one who saves my life. I'm too medically defunct to fight for myself much longer. Thanks .

1:51PM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for the facts. Truly. But as screwed up as everything else is; bailouts, government takeoverg, huge deficits, etc, it's amazing that Social Security and MediCare appear stable in the short to medium term. That renews my hope for the long term, if we can striaghten out the other messes Bush left behind.

Kudos to the New Deal and Great Society folks. Let's hope Obama can fix the larger problems of the economy.

Fingers crossed, yeah?


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