Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Healthcare Debate

We're so excited to give you guys the first real post on politics!  This is a transcript of a week-long conversation the two of us had on Facebook, about the Senate healthcare bill.  It's a bit disjointed in the beginning, but we decided to put it up so you could see how our thoughts evolved as we learned more and amendments were voted on.  We'll have a nice, neat summary of the Senate bill up once it's passed, as well as a summary of the House bill and musings on what we'd like to see in the final bill (expect some differences :D)

Anya: progress:

p.s. I just went thru CSPAN's list of senators on twitter & followed all of them o____O
Ashley: Stalker! No, just kidding. One has to be careful around certain Senators (if you catch my drift).
Ashley: So, what would this amendment do exactly? (Sorry, on iPhone and pages take a long time to load.
Anya: that’s so cool! I just updated my blog from my dad's iTouch :P anyway, to quote directly from the bill (since I suck at summarizing): "Nothing in this subsection shall [...] prohibit a plan or issuer from providing coverage for services in addition to those recommended by United States Preventive Services Task Force or to deny coverage for services that are not recommended by such Task Force"
Basically aimed at making sure there's more women's-health coverage.
Ashley:  Oh, ok. Well, sounds good in theory. However, every additional thing we add that's more money we're adding to the debt. Just putting that out there.
Anya: I know, I know, I’m cluttering up your wall with all sorts of stuff, but this is from a rather interesting article that I read on the healthcare debate: 

"There is no sane explanation for all this other than crass political calculation. On Thursday, Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who’s up for election next year, introduced an amendment specifically promising that Medicare recipients would not lose any of their current guaranteed benefits. It passed 100 to 0. Meanwhile, Colorado voters were getting robocalls from John McCain warning that the health care bill was going to cut their “vital Medicare coverage.”

what. the. heck. Why must politicians resort to flat-out LYING?
Ashley: No, thanks for all the info. So, who's right?
Anya: well, the amendment says that Medicare coverage won't change. So I suppose the challenge now is to write the bill so that Medicare coverage doesn't change. I don't think either of them are right . . . YET. agree/disagree?
Ashley: I don't think Medicare should be cut, unless a perfect or better than perfect substitute is being offered. And cutting Medicare won't pay for Healthcare; it would be shifting funds from one area to another
Anya: EXACTLY. You’re still spending the EXACT same amount of money. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier if we just thought of healthcare reform as "expanding Medicare to cover all Americans". I have no idea how expensive that would be/how feasible it is, but it would eliminate one HUGE area of difference.
Anya: by the way, sweetie, you should read this:
Ashley: I don't know how much that would cost either, but if it's less than the current proposed bill than I say go for it.
Ashley: Just read the website. I don't see how you can keep women from having an abortion if they're paying for their own healthcare! That seems unconstitutional to me, and I'm serious about that. I call upon the majestic and awesome powers of the Supreme Court to review this law.
Anya: I think we covered the Stupak amendment at school, yeah? Any other comments? To me, it basically comes down to the government restricting access to abortion if it passes. Unacceptable.
Ashley: couldn't find the results of the abortion vote yet...but I got to do some more reading on it. A senator from Mo. said, "You can't use private money in the private market ... and frankly I think that goes too far." That's just what I was thinking, but couldn't say correctly. This seems like it would be a Republican viewpoint, doesn't it?
Anya: anyway, from they tabled the nelson (abortion) amendment 54-45. "The Motion to Table is used to kill a legislative matter. An Aye vote in favor of the motion is a vote against the bill or amendment.” so YAY. My two fav republicans voted to table ... knew I loved them for a reason.

I’m a bit confused. Was the senator saying that the amendment was saying "you can't use private funds in the private market?". And was that mccaskill or the republican guy?

Anyway, I was looking at it more from a standpoint of, "that's too much gov't interference in my life". If u want a plan that doesn't let u have an abortion, there's private insurers that do that. If the gov't wants to provide the best plans to the most Americans, they'll leave as many options open as possible. This has pretty much already been decided ... roe v. wade / right to privacy & all that.
Ashley: Oh, sorry. Yeah, she was saying it's wrong that the amendment would say you couldn't use private funds in a private market. Who are your two fav. Republicans? (Olympia Snowe and...) And yay! I'm glad that was the outcome.
Anya: haha Susan Collins .... Maine has smart republican women :)

YES. Okay. that's what I thought. yeah, that's why she's the senator NOW and we're still the students. but just you wait 20 years .....

I think it's really funny that all the republicans who gripe about big government were supporting this amendment.

yeah BUT there's still the Stupak amendment in the House bill that will come back to haunt us when we start trying to merge the house/senate bills. AND there was an article in the LA times about how there's a possibility they're gonna drop the public plan from the final senate bill! that made me SO mad. you need a public plan. or a public plan with opt-out possibility for the state. or, if it comes to it & u really need votes, a trigger option like Snowe proposed for the finance committee bill would be okay (a start, at least)
Ashley: I know. How cold you complain about too much government and then tell people they can't choose what to do with their money. It just doesn't make sense. So, I guess I'm a real Republican and all those other people are just posers.

Yes, maybe someday we'll make it to the Senate, House, or even Presidency. I think we would have some endorsements from friends.

I am kinda okay with a public option if it can compete fairly with private insurers.
Anya: hypocrites. If all republicans were like you, I could TOTALLY deal with that :) in fact, I’d quite like it! 

haha yeah I think we'd make a pretty good president/vice president team, don't you? Either that, or we'll be the two insane old ladies on the Supreme Court bench in, like, 2080. or, by 2080, we'll have been the senators from California for like 20 years so no one even bothers to run against us anymore :P

hm, yeah, I think a public option could compete pretty fairly. I think that was the point of the part in the House bill, where the gov't would have to negotiate their rates with private insurers. I could see that working. But as far as I know, the senate doesn't have anything like that yet? Maybe I’ve just missed it.

oh, and an NPR article you might enjoy: 

as far as the abortion ammendment goes, there was this nytimes article here: it says "The Senate bill currently allows insurance plans to cover abortions but tries to separate private funds from federal money. It specifies that abortion coverage can only be paid for with private dollars."

i think that's how it should be. let there be the option of abortion, but keep the government out of it.

Anya: I know I just wrote to u like 5 mins ago but i found another article worth reading (because stalking senators on twitter is much more fun than my english essay)
That would be an interesting alternative, yeah?

  who called it?! ;)
Ashley: Yeah, I’m glad to bring some hope to you about the Republican Party. However, as you know, I am fiscally conservative. If I ever did run for office I don’t know who would vote for me. Republicans wouldn’t like me because of my views on abortion, gay rights, etc. But then Democrats wouldn’t like me because of my views on economics and things of that sort. What a bad place to be. I am definitely not black and white and people tend to shy away from grey areas.

Yes, I think that might keep competition fair, but the government has so much more power than private insurers, could it ever really be fair. Adam Smith would say let the entity that provides the best coverage at the best price win. However, he wasn’t much for government controlled anything. I wish I could just have a conversation with him, and with Keynes. That would be an amazing day! I agree with you. I don’t think the government should fund abortion, but if people are paying for it themselves then they should be able to do what they want. Isn’t that what Roe v. Wade is about…I mean, abortion is legal. So restricting people who can pay for it or pay for insurance and their insurance covers it from having an abortion is a complete violation of Roe v. Wade. Isn’t it? 

Thanks for all the articles. These are such interesting times! 
Ashley: You go Anya!
Yeah, that seems fair because then it wouldn't be exactly like the government controlling insurance. It seems like it would be more fair and there would be competition. However, I don't quite understand why it has to be non-profit. I guess they don't want it to seem like the government's a business, because it's not. That would be my one contention besides fairness with any sort of public option. Why is the government acting like a business when it clearly isn't? In a perfect world the healthcare plan would look like this: The anti-trust laws or whatever is restricting competition between private insurers would be eliminated, therefore allowing competition. This would cause the prices of healthcare to go down and it would be more affordable. 
Ashley: We already have Medicare and Medicaid. Maybe the government in this plan could make these two programs more effective, but it seems like it would take care of all the problems. This way would also be way more cost-effective. How much is this healthcare bill costing? And we are in a recession? Is the timing really right for the economy right now? But, that is never going to happen and I have (somewhat) accepted it. So, as long as the government doesn't take over all of healthcare and private insurers are not put out of business then I am basically okay.
Anya: I think that's why we should run on a presidential ticket together. I could attract the liberal democrats, u can attract the moderate democrats and some republicans, and who needs the rest, anyway :P. I think we need more people (like us) who are willing to look at the gray and say, okay, the democrats have a good point here but are just dead wrong on that issue, and so on. And besides, who knows what the political parties will be like in 20, 30 years? Remember when the republicans were the liberals? I think it could be fair if there's maybe a kind of regulation board? Was that in one of the bills? I think (hope) that the gov't people would know better than to take advantage of their position, because they know the opposition party would jump on that.
Hm, I think that the gov't could get out of that problem by saying, "Well, then go buy a different plan". But maybe some ppl couldn't afford it ... and my understanding of the Nelson amendment in the senate was that if you were getting _any_ gov't help with your healthcare then even if u wanted to get an abortion, you couldn't. It says it would "ban any insurance plan getting taxpayer dollars from offering abortion coverage". Which is WAY too broad!
Ashley: I agree. I think it's cool to hang out in the gray areas; people should do it more often. 
Yeah, I suppose if it were regulated closely things would be better.  That argument does make some sense because the taxpayers shouldn't be paying for abortion because not everyone believes in it and it kinda goes against religious freedom. That's where this situation becomes tricky. Because the government would be, essentially, a private insurance company, however it's still the government and has to follow everything laid out in the Constitution, etc. I don't know how to solve that debate; I guess it shows us why the government shouldn't be a business.
Anya: Well, aren't some of those bills like 400 pages long? I know sen. mccaskill said something about the healthcare bill ... oh yeah "If we printed the health care bill in regular size font it would be same length as Sarah Palin's book, but with more meat on the bone."
I definitely agree they should have picked their targets better the first time. It just seemed too broad to me and too many things were being proposed at once. However, I suppose that’s the point of an economic stimulus; to put jobs and money back into the economy at an alarming rate. I suppose that’s where the President and I disagree on fiscal policy. I’m all about the tax cuts baby! No, but I’d be extremely happy if the stimulus was working, however, at this present moment, it doesn’t seem to be. I really wish it was, I don’t like a sick economy. Yeah, and if his party doesn’t like it…well, he should just stop beating a dead horse and try something else.
Yes, they are very long, however, how would they be 100% sure on how to vote and what’s best for their constituents if they didn’t read the whole thing? I just would feel better and would be able to sleep more soundly if they did read the whole thing.
Anya: ok so right now health insurance companies are EXEMPT from anti-trust laws. So that has to go ... _now_. And I think both house & senate bills have that provision in them, so YAY :) yeah more competition = less cost. So, I’m a bit worried about the senate bill because, correct me if I’m wrong, but it's cutting Medicare spending while making the minimum age for uninsured people 55? That seems way counterproductive to me...

I think the public option compromise from this article:,0,7688557.story
 is the best compromise. It has a lot of good stuff, while at the same time it's probably gonna pass with at least the Maine republicans (I’m still pleased with myself for calling the trigger option. I knew it was gonna be in the final bill as soon as snowe said she wanted it :P)

wow, I think medicare/medicaid reform is a whole other topic, almost. They’re okay, I suppose, but when they pay hospitals, it usually doesn't even come close to covering the hospital's costs. Which is def. something to keep in mind... and as for timing, I don’t think we can afford to wait on this....
Ashley: Yes, I totally agree with you on that. More competition is a good thing. So, basically they would be adding more people to Medicare and then also cut it. That makes no sense whatsoever! They would need to expand Medicare in order to add more people to it. I really don’t think they should be cutting Medicare at all, why not try and reform it? Or is that suicide? I don’t know, it seems to me the people who need healthcare the most (the older generation) should not be having their healthcare cut. However, if there was a replacement option for Medicare that was better than Medicare…well, that’s an equine of a diverse tincture. 
Yeah, well will this new healthcare plan cover the hospitals cost? It must if we want to keep competent doctors, better facilities, etc. In fact, we’ll even need more doctors than we do now because more people will be going to the doctor’s office. That’s another point of contention I have with this plan.
Anya:  Yeah, I think that is the point of the stimulus, to try to help as many parts of the economy as fast as u can, but the stimulus bill _isn't_ working fast enough. I agree with what they're trying to do, I just think the timeline isn't that great. As for tax cuts, well, the question becomes, tax cuts for whom? Business or individuals? The wealthy or the middle class? Bush tried targeting his tax cuts at the really wealthy and the big corporations, and see how well that turned out....
Haha I dunno, I wish they would read all the bills but that's when it would be nice to have a 45 hour long day, too... 
Since when does politics make sense? Well, I think the Medicare part is just way to complex ... I really wanna see how they can make that come out well, because it just looks like a black hole of DOOM to me right now, to be honest. Reforming it would take soooo much work. I wonder if it's finally outlived its usefulness. We need something to help the seniors, but I dunno if Medicare is still the right answer. 
Yeah I wonder sometimes how much the legislators are thinking about the hospitals/doctors/etc. they seem so focused on making it affordable & covering everyone, and taking the insurance companies down a peg. 
This whole debate has just made me even more certain I want to be involved in politics....

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