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Health Care Hubbub

Written by Rick Garner - ObamaPrayers.blogspot.com

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All this talk about health care reform is exhausting. Literally. Everyday, there's a new conservative or liberal report addressing some angle of it. Every other day, I receive an email from the White House attempting to dispel myths and proclaim why we must have reform. Almost as often there's video of the President, Senators, or Representatives reacting to or trying to explain the reform.

Now, the debate has heated up because people are mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore! Senators and Representatives across the country are hearing passionate pleas at town hall meetings.

townhall_090812There's a lot of emotions at the meetings and it's rather comical how lawmakers have reacted. While they've had their heads in the sand, basking in the new administration's warmth and a Democrat-controlled Congress, the people who elected them to their positions have been fuming.

To worsen matters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opens her gaping maw to insult grassroots efforts by labeling them "AstroTurf," claims that protesters are "carrying swastikas," and stereotypes those who shout over their Representatives at town halls "un-American." Nancy, please refrain from flapping your gums in public and just be Speaker of the House, because every time you speak elsewhere you are an embarrassment. People are confused and angry and therefore have a right to express themselves. However, shouting over speakers at town hall meetings...tisk, tisk. Be vocal, be direct, and be passionate. But be respectful and show some class! I applaud how Senator Ben Cardin (Dem.- Maryland) handled a recent town hall meeting in Towson, MD, on August 10. The event is summed up in the email below:

Senator Cardin's Town Hall Meeting - Towson - August 10, 2009

Inside the meeting there were 500 people -- the hall was filled to capacity. Outside, I and others estimated there were between 2000 and 3000 (thousand) people. The entire crowd could have been accommodated in the gymnasium across the street, and I believe this would have been better than having so many left outside in the heat.

The "organized" group of anti health care reform bill protesters well outnumbered the supporters. They came disguised as ordinary people. Many made themselves appear old, and many made themselves appear young. They intentionally wore clothing that would make them not seem to be an organized group. Their most ingenious ploy was to carry home-made, rather than professionally made signs.

The "unorganized" pro-Obamacare group, which numbered between 100 and 200, curiously all wore the same shirts, and somehow all managed to accidentally used the same sign shop to have their professionally printed signs made.

Both groups were loud and spirited. I personally witnessed no inappropriate behavior, especially from such a large group of people.

Now for what occurred at the meeting. The first speaker was a young lady who has a young child with medical disorders. While all the attendees respectfully listened to her and her family's plight, it was seen as a ploy by Sen. Cardin to jerk at people's heartstrings and to eat up time before taking questions. The good news about the young lady is that her family's medical problems were fixed -- without health care reform. Mr. Cardin then presented a slide show on the health care bill. For the most part the crowd attempted to pay attention, but as the presentation went on, it seemed clear to the majority that the information was not wholly truthful, and was seen as another attempt to burn up time before the question and answer portion.

While the crowd was spirited and boisterous, their responses were directed not at Mr. Cardin personally, but at the misinformation they believed he was giving. Mr. Cardin constantly talked about things not being in the Senate bill, but my understanding is that there is no official version of a Senate bill at this time. There are at least three House versions, which Mr. Cardin danced around, not having read them, as he admitted.

One question from the audience that got loud applause was "Why not support tort reform [civil lawsuits against doctors] before changing health care as we know it?" Mr. Cardin, a life-long trial lawyer, had absolutely no answer. Is it a coincidence that 80% of the elected officials in Washington are lawyers, including Barack Obama? (I wonder what this bill would look like if 80% of Congress were doctors and nurses.)

Another question was, would Mr. Cardin put in and vote for an amendment requiring Congress to be on the government plan. This yes-or-no question was not answered yes or no. He said, "I'm already on a government plan." But as you and I know, Congress has the best plan anyone could have, but it is available only to Congress and high-ranking government officials.

Mr. Cardin praised Medicaid and Medicare as examples of how efficiently government can run health care programs. He failed to mention that these programs are subsidized by the taxpayers and by those having private insurance, or that the government has done a horrible job of monitoring and prosecuting fraud in those systems. He avoided all questions on specifics in the bill, including questions of death counseling. He said that illegal aliens will not be eligible under this new program, but every attempt to put language in the bill to exclude illegal aliens has been blocked. He said that no additional money will be spent on abortions by the government, whereas sections of the bill clearly state otherwise.

As one gentleman so eloquently stated, "Mr. Cardin, I have never heard so many mistruths and out-and-out lies being told by an elected official," and he proceeded to explain the provisions in the bill concerning pre-existing conditions. Mr. Cardin then asked the gentleman whether he would hear him out. The gentleman replied, "That would be fine, Senator, if you stop lying." Mr. Cardin finally admitted that the gentleman was much more informed on the issue than he was, and asked if the gentleman would agree to sit down with him and help him understand the issues (the very issues that Cardin was at the meeting to explain!).

All in all, I don't believe that Mr. Cardin swayed anyone to his side. Having spoken to some of his supporters afterwards, they came in supporting the idea of free health care for all, not understanding the overall ramifications of Obamacare. But they left feeling that they needed to not merely support the general concept of health care, but to understand what the bill would do before supporting it.

I must hand it to Mr. Cardin. He stood up to the firing squad, and was always polite and respectful to the audience. The attendees, while very spirited, did not indulge in personal attacks on Sen. Cardin or Pres. Obama, but attacked the policies they proposed. It was a wonderful exercise of free speech.

Link to HR 3200 http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090714/aahca.pdf

P.S. Also in attendance were Delegates McDonough, Boteler, Frank, Aumann, Lafferty, and Speaker Pro Tem Jones. Delegate Warren Miller was present outside but was unable to get into the meeting room.

Rick Impallaria
Delegate, District 7

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

So, this isn't about who can shout the loudest, what's more liberal, what's more conservative, or how quickly a bill can be drafted. Why are citizens in an uproar?

There's several websites and campaigns touting they have the facts about health care reform. For example, the White House has "8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage" and "8 common myths about health insurance reform" and "8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now" which I know about courtesy of two emails from the White House.

One of the myths the White House claims to bust:

Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It's a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.

However, John David Lewis breaks it down:

This is what the bill says, pages 284-288, SEC. 1151. REDUCING POTENTIALLY PREVENTABLE HOSPITAL READMISSIONS:

'(ii) EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN READMISSIONS.-For purposes of clause (i), with respect to a hospital, excess readmissions shall not include readmissions for an applicable condition for which there are fewer than a minimum number (as determined by the Secretary) of discharges for such applicable condition for the applicable period and such hospital.

and, under "Definitions":

'(A) APPLICABLE CONDITION.-The term 'applicable condition' means, subject to subparagraph (B), a condition or procedure selected by the Secretary . . .

and:

''(E) READMISSION.-The term 'readmission' means, in the case of an individual who is discharged from an applicable hospital, the admission of the individual to the same or another applicable hospital within a time period specified by the Secretary from the date of such discharge.

and:

''(6) LIMITATIONS ON REVIEW.-There shall be no administrative or judicial review under section 1869, section 1878, or otherwise of- . . .

''(C) the measures of readmissions . . .

EVALUATION OF THE PASSAGES:

This section amends the Social Security Act

The government has the power to determine what constitutes an "applicable [medical] condition."

The government has the power to determine who is allowed readmission into a hospital.

This determination will be made by statistics: when enough people have been discharged for the same condition, an individual may be readmitted.

This is government rationing, pure, simple, and straight up.

There can be no judicial review of decisions made here. The Secretary is above the courts.

The plan also allows the government to prohibit hospitals from expanding without federal permission: page 317-318.

The Wall Street Journal has this to say:

While claims about euthanasia and "death panels" are over the top, senior fears have exposed a fundamental truth about what Mr. Obama is proposing: Namely, once health care is nationalized, or mostly nationalized, rationing care is inevitable, and those who have lived the longest will find their care the most restricted.

Far from being a scare tactic, this is a logical conclusion based on experience and common-sense. Once health care is a "free good" that government pays for, demand will soar and government costs will soar too. When the public finally reaches its taxing limit, something will have to give on the care and spending side. In a word, care will be rationed by politics.

Another myth the White House claims to bust:

You can keep your own insurance: It's myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

Congressman John Sarbanes (3rd District Maryland) echoes this sentiment:

"It does not require anyone to enter into a government-run health care plan. If you like your doctor and your current plan, you can absolutely keep them if this proposal becomes law. For those who want to study other plans, it will give you more choices at lower rates than individuals can get in the current market."

The Enlighten Patriot even has it as Lie #2:

Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan!!! The truth: With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama's reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options. Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option-a nationwide plan with a broad network of providers-that will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down. If you're happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them. But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can't afford health care now.

However CNN Money disagrees on the freedom to keep your existing plan:

This is the freedom that the President keeps emphasizing. Yet the bills appear to say otherwise. It's worth diving into the weeds -- the territory where most pundits and politicians don't seem to have ventured.

The legislation divides the insured into two main groups, and those two groups are treated differently with respect to their current plans. The first are employees covered by the Employee Retirement Security Act of 1974. ERISA regulates companies that are self-insured, meaning they pay claims out of their cash flow, and don't have real insurance. Those are the GEs (GE, Fortune 500) and Time Warners (TWX, Fortune 500) and most other big companies.

The House bill states that employees covered by ERISA plans are "grandfathered." Under ERISA, the plans can do pretty much what they want -- they're exempt from standard packages and community rating and can reward employees for healthy lifestyles even in restrictive states.

But read on.

The bill gives ERISA employers a five-year grace period when they can keep offering plans free from the restrictions of the "qualified" policies offered on the exchanges. But after five years, they would have to offer only approved plans, with the myriad rules we've already discussed. So for Americans in large corporations, "keeping your own plan" has a strict deadline. In five years, like it or not, you'll get dumped into the exchange. As we'll see, it could happen a lot earlier.

The outlook is worse for the second group. It encompasses employees who aren't under ERISA but get actual insurance either on their own or through small businesses. After the legislation passes, all insurers that offer a wide range of plans to these employees will be forced to offer only "qualified" plans to new customers, via the exchanges.

The employees who got their coverage before the law goes into effect can keep their plans, but once again, there's a catch. If the plan changes in any way -- by altering co-pays, deductibles, or even switching coverage for this or that drug -- the employee must drop out and shop through the exchange. Since these plans generally change their policies every year, it's likely that millions of employees will lose their plans in 12 months.

Our health care may be flawed but we have freedoms and options that appear to be in jeopardy. For many of us, we don't understand the rush and the urgency because health care doesn't seem broken. I've had health insurance via my employers since 1997. The plans have worked well, my co-payments have been small, and I've always had options. Granted, this reform isn't about me...but it is. If the effort is to reform health care, it would seem - as mentioned at the Cardin town hall meeting - that tort reform is lower hanging fruit. Stop the ridiculous lawsuits. So, many of us shrug, "What gives?" Ah, but for doing that we're labeled ignorant, racist, right-wing, extremist, redneck, and more just for asking questions. Just for disagreeing. No politician deserves the right to have that free of a pass to put anything into place.

Which brings us here: should people of faith oppose or support health care reform?

Before rushing to one side or the other, pray for discernment and be certain your support aligns with Scripture. Also, educated yourself. Don't be spoon-fed from the media or the White House. Read. Read it, again. Ask questions. Make up you own mind. Lastly, Christians (Southern Baptist) should oppose health care reform if it allows for:

From this list, the current reform bill is questionable at best. Seek God's wisdom and seek answers.

Pray that President Obama is granted wisdom and insight into how best to handle the nation's healthcare reform.
James 1:5 "But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to all people, so he will give you wisdom."

1 Timothy 2:1-4 "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

Pray that President Obama seeks Godly counsel and encourages his administration to do the same.

1 Corinthians 3:18-21 "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." So then, no more boasting about men! "

Pray that President Obama will seek strength in the Lord and allow Him to the correct paths.

1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Pray that President Obama always speaks the truth to the American people regardless of the consequences.

Psalm 120:2 "Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues."

Pray that President Obama hears all concerns with wisdom and patience and acts upon that information in bold compassion.

Colossians 3:9 "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices."

Pray President Obama seeks true bi-partisan conversations, denies self and ego in speaking with others with differing opinions, and goes to Scriptures for counsel.

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

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