Matthew Holt

Apparently the public perceives a problem

I think health care reform is dead. And the proposed reform was relatively inconsequential anyway, as it would have left in place Medicare as is, Medicaid as is but bigger, employment-based health insurance, and fee-for-service medicine. And with Scotty Brown winning in Massachusetts, and harsh political winds stripping off the Blue Dog votes from the House Democratic majority, it seems that there’s no hope. In that context Obama’s not entirely spirited defense and offer to have a parlay on TV in a couple of weeks doesn’t sound like a recipe for action.

But apparently the public is less happy with nothing than it might appear are politicians. Today’s Washington Post/ABC Poll claims that two-thirds of the population think that we should keep trying—including 56% of the independents who the Dems feared they had lost and even a sizable minority of those claiming to be from the do-nothing party.


Will this poll make any difference? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. And it does confirm that although Americans may not like the bill or agree on any solution, they know that the health care system is a big problem.

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  1. It really is amazing to me how Obama can continue to shove along his health care reform as we continue to resist it, in numbers which increase steadily each day. Obamacare=socialized medicine, a HUGE step backward for the United States. What is it about the word “no” that the Democratic Party and its supporters don’t get or fail to heed? The founding fathers of this country wrote the Constitution “for” and “by” the people of the United States, in direct opposition to the way that Obama is leading the United States. Like many of us, and I am able to say this without shame because my opinion on the man and his “medicine” has changed- I voted Democrat, force fed and in blissful denial of the direction that Obama is taking the United States. Now that I know better, because I’ve studied the man and the issues, listened to the videos and researched the numbers on the page, I won’t make the same mistake. Below are a few reasons responsible for my change of opinion on Universal Healthcare in our United States:
    1. Health care will be rationed and waits will increase. A lot of us will die as we wait, just like in Canada and the U.K. Single payer and socialized medicine = a much higher death rate.
    Just a few examples of how long we will have to wait for this wonderful care once the government implements it:
    17.3 weeks: The average time in 2008 that a Canadian had to wait to be seen on a referral from his G.P.
    9.7 weeks: The average wait to have an M.R.I. exam in Canada.
    31.7 weeks: The average wait to see a neurosurgeon in Canada.
    Nine MONTHs (36 weeks) average wait to see an orthopedic surgeon or specialist.
    Reasons that should make the proponents of Universal Health Care under Obama quake. Yes, there’s more, so please feel free to read on for some harrowing statistics on death rates:
    2. In the United States, breast cancer kills 25% of those diagnosed. In the U.K., the rate of death from the disease is 46%. On chance that there might be a lone supporter of the heralded Obamacare in the forum- Still hungry for a slice of Obama cake?
    One more statistic for your plate:
    In the United States, prostate cancer is fatal to 19% of those diagnosed, but in the U.K. the rate of fatality from the disease is 57%.
    Is this what we want for the United States? A democracy beneath the Obama cake?
    No scare tactics here, just cold, hard facts meant for anyone out there who might still be trying to wipe up all the crumbs or slow the spoil of their cake.

  2. read any poll margalit, they might not know what it means but they want it 10 times more then they want liberal reform

  3. Wow,
    Patty Zevallos’ proposal sounds pretty darn good.
    Even more, look at the spirit of it. Simplify. There should affordable primary care clinics easily available in every major city. You wouldn’t need any single payer, you would just need to force all the private provided to provide a simple, reliable product at a reasonable price.
    Congress is full of smart people. No, I’m serious. Why haven’t THEY come up with some equivalent thing?
    Well, I am terribly impressed by the intelligence of the posters to board. In fact, you all together are an amazing portrait of America in slow collapse. Even twist and turn, every scheme and contradiction can be found here.
    We know that “health care is a growth industry” – how fucked up is *that*? Suppose there were gangs of murders wandering the streets and you couldn’t stop them because “funnel homes are growth industry”.
    But there you are. Health care is growth. Developing cancer drugs to prolong a person’s life for months for thousands of dollars per month is a terribly profitable approach.
    So anyway, the point that a simple, cheap health care program, public, private or coop just wouldn’t give our wonderful “entrepreneurs” the opportunities to offer various sufferers the “perverse” opportunities which come out of the research labs or whatever other convenient ways they can find to game the system (over-building hospitals, unnecessary procedures, over-bought medical equipment, etc).
    Yes, neither insurance companies nor drug companies nor doctors nor medical equipment companies are rackets by themselves but altogether, by tossing costs and paradoxical choices around, they form together the largest scam the world has seen (and congress together are the most sophisticated, intelligent and well-meaning possible shills for this racket). Uh and the consumers are not innocent – like every racket, you can’t cheap an honest man. But I pity whole sh*t-heap, the whole vortex, especially I know so many people start in this road wanting to do good. You see, no one is innocent but it is sad to see each person’s greed, each person’s laziness, each person’s pride be teased out into a series of evil, “perverse” choices. Should I buy that unnecessary machine? Do that unneeded procedure? Keep Aunt Bertha on the respirator for that extra three month? Treat this condition or that condition?
    Well, I suppose I could just as easily push for no reform to the system at all and hope it falls from it’s own weight sooner than later…

  4. This is a poll done by two very liberal organizations. Need I say more? For those of you seeking more power and more money within healthcare, haven’t you gotten enough under ARRA? How about we see how the expense of $200 billion pans out before giving Congress the authority to continue to write thousand page documents defining every aspect of healthcare and spending the rest of our GDP.

  5. Generic ‘News’ Pundit: What’s your prediction for comprehensive health care reform?
    Clubber Lang: My prediction?
    Generic ‘News’ Pundit: Yes, your prediction.
    [Clubber looks into camera]
    Clubber Lang: Pain!
    I would take Clubber Lang’s prediction as much as I would anybody’s in Congress or the White House now.
    Too many other things on the domestic and foreign policy agendas are that are already here or looming in the very near future to deal with (e.g., commercial real estate loans which are going to really crater in 2012; showdown with Iran including real likelihood Israelis push the US hand).

  6. It looks like what is left of any momentum for health care reform has all but died in both the House and Senate. With a super majority and the presidency, the Democrats were unable to get anything passed.
    The truth is that we are left with a broken system. People are still being denied coverage, costs continue to skyrocket and “socialized” medicine is becoming a reality as government spending on health care is now surpassing the private sector.

  7. These kinds of questions & polls are generally less than useless. What exactly does ‘comprehensive health reform’ mean anyways?

  8. This is not dead yet. I don’t know what new set of compromises will emerge or what will get hacked-off, but Democratic politicians know they have to pass something or they are the ones who are dead in November.
    And everyone should take with a grain of salt the advice and gleeful predictions of failure from Democrats’ conservative “friends.” Sometimes predictions are performative acts: they are meant to make what is wished come true by making it be perceived as inevitable. And sometimes advice, of course, is not given to help but instead to undermine.

  9. “People” want tort reform, Nate?? I don’t think most people know what that means.

  10. “people want tort reform, more choice, less government, and Medicare fixed”
    They want fixes with no pain. Isn’t that what Republicans are selling?

  11. “Insurance is for automobiles, where claims are rare”
    There were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States in 2005
    There were an estimated 956,846 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2008
    that doesn’t include other property claims like being broken into. So I guess it is 7-10 million times per year rare only afecting 1 in 4 people I think I heard.
    “which is an ongoing and untransparent, surprise and unlimited expense.”
    Insurance for such things would never work, how do you insure death for example. or a cell phone for example?
    The answer to your statement Yana is you eliminate the laws forcing insureres to finance healthcare and allow them to sell insurance, i.e. protection from an unknown or untimed event. The problem isn’tinsurance it is what politicians forced it to become.
    Peter you are aware that the screamers and fine people of MA are not against HCR, they are against the mess the liberals peoposed which would have increased cost, raised taxes, and limited access with no benefits in return.
    people want tort reform, more choice, less government, and Medicare fixed, the only problem is that isnot what the liberals want to sell, they rather pass no bill then give the public what they want.

  12. Those are huge numbers Matthew. I wonder how many in the “Keep Trying” group were the screamers in the town hall meetings and the voters in MA. I’d like to see how the poll came out regionally.

  13. “Obviously, we need to encourage the “progressive” medicine men to dance and chant their incantations more furiously.”

  14. Healthcare reform can start now with no high price tag
    Obama and Congress are taking the entirely wrong approach to healthcare reform. We can be doing so much right now to improve healthcare without suspicious price tags. There is nothing wrong with carrying out reform in two phases: the immediate and low price-tag phase, and the longer-term, let’s-find-the-money-first phase.
    What can be done now, with little public opposition:
    One group plan
    Everyone would have access to insurance if all insurance companies were required to offer a plan to individuals as though they were all in one large company group plan, with the same rate and no exclusions. There is no cost to taxpayers; premiums are paid by the insured.
    Guaranteed coverage and insurance market reforms
    Few would argue with such provisions. The health insurance industry has been such a Wild West that companies could promise anything and provide nothing. They suffered no bad consequences when they blatantly breached contracts with subscribers. Other than enforcement, there would be no cost to taxpayers.
    Essential benefits
    An independent committee would define an “essential benefit package” as a minimum quality standard. It would include preventive services with no co-pays or deductibles, mental health services, and oral health and vision for children. It would cap the amount that consumers have to spend per year, and cost taxpayers nothing. Insurance companies could add features to this basic package. Now they can get away with not paying for basic services because most people do not have a choice of plans, and insurance plans are far too complicated to easily compare.
    Individual responsibility
    It is time for the government to be honest about the lifestyle factors that cause many of our healthcare problems. According to an article at that is based on research reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, “preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of the burden of illness and 90% of all healthcare costs,” and “preventable illnesses account for eight of the nine leading categories of death.” This is the single most important factor in lowering healthcare costs and making people healthier. But in most ways it is not a role for government. It is up to individuals to change their habits. However, the federal government certainly shouldn’t be making the situation worse. That means telling the truth about the fast food and prepared food industries. And it means requiring that government agencies and contractors use part-time and telecommuting work arrangements so people have time to exercise and prepare food at home. A national campaign aimed at employers, encouraging them to use flexible schedules for workers, such as part-time and telecommuting, could do a lot of good, with the government itself taking the lead. Cost to taxpayers: nothing. In fact, there are potentially huge savings in lowered healthcare costs.
    Pushing for results
    It is time for ratings. Netflix movies are rated. EBay sellers are rated. This is established technology. It is time for a central web site that shows us ratings for healthcare providers. Some sites do this now, but there are too many with too few ratings and it is chaotic. An insurance company doing ratings of its providers is not an unbiased source. How good is that doctor / hospital / radiology lab anyhow? How effective? How organized? How long a wait? How polite? How accurate a bill? This costs little and offers so much in savings and making healthcare very effective quickly. No more money is wasted on ineffective providers. People get well much sooner. Providers change their methods to get better ratings. Cost to taxpayers: very little. Such a site would also reveal the really bad eggs . . . moving on to . . .
    Making sure healthcare providers really do their job
    States are supposed to enforce this now, but often don’t. According to a press release from Public Citizen’s Sidney Wolfe, MD, “Most state medical boards are doing a dangerously lax job in enforcing their state medical practice acts and adequately disciplining physicians.” In another article, Dr. Wolfe said that from 1990 to 2002, just five percent of U.S. physicians caused 54 percent of the nation’s malpractice lawsuit payments, basing his numbers on information from the National Practitioner Data Bank. A constant stream of reports show that hospitals are covering up mistakes. If states were doing their job, there would be little or no malpractice lawsuits. This is far more important than tort reform. With ratings, state regulators, properly funded and monitored, could spot and check on providers who are doing a poor job before they do something really really wrong. Such a practice would eliminate payments to incompetent providers and lower malpractice cost. Cost to taxpayers: very little.
    Emphasizing primary care
    Healthcare reform needs to enhance the partnership between patient and primary care doctor. The primary care doctor is the one who needs to be on top of what is happening with a patient, with whatever record-keeping system works best for him or her (usually a hybrid of paper and database. All-electronic record-keeping is not reliable yet). Primary care doctors need to be paid as much or more than specialists and be paid for phone call and record-keeping time instead of just doctor visit time. Many doctors are forced to use a more expensive visit when a phone call will do because they don’t get paid for phone time. Cost to taxpayers: nothing
    Looking close at hospitals
    Hospitals need to be very closely audited. Not only are there often bogus charges on bills, but the charges are far far beyond costs. No one really checks this, so they keep doing it. Employees wander around hospitals that don’t seem to be doing anything. Hospitals charge for unnecessary tests, with no one making sure that tests are based on research. Anyone who complains is ignored. Medical institutions are roach motels for our hard-earned dollars. Dollars check in but they don’t check out. Cost to taxpayers: very little.
    A simple little thing
    Refrigerator magnets can save millions. Yes, you read that right. A magnet can list the phone numbers, hours, and locations of urgent care centers that can be used during weekends and evenings instead of much more expensive emergency rooms. We now waste millions on non-emergency problems being treated in emergency rooms simply because people don’t know where else to go. Cost to taxpayers: very little.
    Another simple little thing
    Money is wasted on mailed Explanation of Benefits forms from insurance companies when this information could be provided for free via a secured web site. Cost to taxpayers: nothing.
    These no- or low-cost changes would greatly improve care and save millions. They are the first step. There is no reason to delay them in order to get a “comprehensive” healthcare reform. No reform can possibly work without them in place first.
    Patty Zevallos
    media producer – web, video, print

  15. “…the market can’t decide until everyone has to pay for necessary and desirable health care.”
    Necessary and desirable according to whom?

  16. I too think health care reform is dead. I believe it will happen in an unpleasant but natural way, but can’t be undertaken by choice in America. Insurance is for automobiles, where claims are rare – not for health care, which is an ongoing and untransparent, surprise and unlimited expense. There can’t be reform while health insurance companies are allowed to exist, and the market can’t decide until everyone has to pay for necessary and desirable health care.

  17. I think a significant plurality (perhaps a majority) of voters view both parties as corrupted. That is, not partially bought, partially corrupted, but instead fully bought. Perhaps this is one reason that “bipartisanship” seems good to many voters, since it would tend to pit interests against one another and make it more difficult for some interests to just buy the outcome, the details in reform. I think such a hope isn’t realistic — both medical organizations and drug makers can buy both sides of the aisle.
    Mostly, a majority wants Obama to stand up for what he said, and to adhere to principles he spoke of on the campaign trail. Obama’s seemingly pragmatic deal with drug makers at the outset hasn’t made reform easier. Instead, it has helped make more people skeptical.
    For all this, I expect we will have some reform, sooner or later, and probably even before the election, but certainly by 2011.

  18. Quit. They have wasted enough time and money. Now they can go back and focus on one thing at a time. When you go through and read this 1200 page “law” you find things that have little to nothing to do with health care. They haven’t listened to the people. They have their own agenda and it has nothing to do with fixing health care.
    Chris Martin

  19. People support health reform. And Kaiser polling shows that most people support most of the invidual policy proposals in the House and Senate bills. Most people just don’t understand what is in the legislation — all they hear about is process, not policy. And until there is a bill the focus on process will continue.
    People like fighters and winners. If the Dems pass a bill and then get out and explain it then the polls will improve.

  20. Obviously, we need to encourage the “progressive” medicine men to dance and chant their incantations more furiously.