A fundamental right

The health care debate rages on, even though the most conservative members of Congress acknowledge that the nation's health care system is broken and must be changed. Nevertheless, their intransigence continues as they only look to defeat President Barack Obama and ignore the sufferings of their constituents.

A public option, similar to Medicare and stringent regulation of the insurance industry, an entity that is only beholden to profit and its shareholders, is critical to any meaningful reform.

I urge the public to support regulation and a strong public option. The bloated, inefficient, inequitable system must be changed. Health care must be acknowledged as a fundamental right of the people and not a commodity to be purchased by those who can afford it.

"If not now, when?"

Stephen A. Sokol, M.D., Lewiston

Gerda Neu-Sokol, Lewiston

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 's picture

Hello fellow commenters,

Hello fellow commenters, particularly those of you like Gil and Sirmel who do not understand complex issues. Read this and study it and then think about why it is imperative health care is reformed now:

Successful health care reform is vital to the nation's fiscal and economic future. The legislation the House will vote on in the coming days will guarantee security of coverage, limit the costs of care, create incentives for improved quality of care, and set us on the path towards sustainable economic growth. In short, the House health reform legislation takes the steps necessary to promote our economic health.

Specifically, the bill:
* Reduces the deficit by over $100 billion in the first 10 years, and continues to reduce the deficit in subsequent years, as judged by the Congressional Budget Office.
* Takes initial steps to "bend the cost curve," and thus might lead to even larger cost savings than official estimates suggest.
* Covers nearly all American citizens and legal residents.
We urge House passage of the legislation, which provides a historic opportunity to realize the long-delayed goal of significant health care reform.

Dr. Henry J. Aaron, The Brookings Institution
Dr. Mike Chernew, Harvard University Medical School
Dr. David Cutler, Harvard University
Dr. Judy Feder, Georgetown University, Center for American Progress Action Fund
Dr. Dana Goldman, University of Southern California
Dr. Jonathan Gruber, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Len Nichols, The New America Foundation
Dr. Alice Rivlin, The Brookings Institution
Dr. Meredith Rosenthal, Harvard University School of Public Health
Dr. Jonathan Skinner, Dartmouth College
Dr. Katherine Swartz, Harvard University School of Public Health

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

The last report from the CBO

The last report from the CBO that I saw on Thursday said that only 96% will be covered. This will cost $1.05 Trillion over 10 years. This cost is offset by an estimated $161 billion over ten years from penalties to individuals, who do not purchase insurance and employer, who do not provide insurance to their employees. These fines brings the cost down to $894 billion over ten years. This estimate does not include $245 billion to stop Medicare payments to doctors from decreasing.

So how are they going to pay for this $894 billion. The bill is paid for by $426 billion in cuts for existing programs, such as Medicare Advantage. The difference of $572 billion would be made up by tax increases over a 10 year period of time. When you the cuts and tax increases, you get $998 billion. Subtract the $894 billion from $998 billion you get $104 billion. The decrease in the deficit is reduced not by savings, but by an increase in taxes. Now if you add back in the $245 billion in Medicare payments to doctors, you now add $141 billion over the same period to the deficit.

 's picture

You obviously are not paying

You obviously are not paying attention to what you are reading. Medicare Advantage is government funded private health insurance program designed to compete with Medicare. If the government defunds it, it is not a cut to any Medicare provided services. Medicare Advantage costs 14% more than traditional Medicare, so getting rid of it makes complete sense.

As for the CBO - their most recent estimate projects the House Democrats' health care plan would cost $871 billion over 10 years. The CBO
also found that the Democrats' bill reduces the deficit in the first 10 years. This CBO estimate is way less than the $1.1 trillion price tag of the original House bill that passed out of three committees over the summer and it comes under the $900 billion cap set by President Obama. In other words you read the CBO report wrongly - as it clearly states the deficit will be cut!

As to your suggestion taxes might be raised - the sooner the better for the richest amongst us. Taxes being raised on the top 5 percent of Americans, who own more than half of all wealth, for the benefit of the 50 million Americans who lack health insurance, is a very good thing.

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

The House Bill is now

The House Bill is now totaling $1.2 Trillion and it still does not cover 36 million Americans.


 's picture

You must have dyslexia - the

You must have dyslexia - the Democratic plan covers 36 million more people.

Here's the stark reality from the CBO:

The CBO did an estimate of the Republican amendment to the House health care bill. There are now hard numbers to compare between the Democratic and Republican notions for health care and the Rpeublican plan can be described in one word: fail.

Democrats – 36 million more covered by 2019, 96% of US covered
Republicans – 3 million more covered by 2019, 83% of US covered

That’s pathetic. Because the population is expected to grow over time, under the Republican health care plan there would be 2 million MORE Americans uninsured in 2019 than there are today, according to the CBO (50 million today, 52 million in 2019). But let’s look at cost:

Democrats – $104 billion in deficit reduction by 2019
Republicans – $68 billion in deficit reduction by 2019

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

"government funded private

"government funded private health insurance program" what kind of oxymoron is that. If it is government funded it is not private.

 's picture

You have the internet right

You have the internet right strange? Use it and learn before you post. PS - Fox News is not a credible news source so if that is where you are coming up with your diatribes it would explain a lot.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, TRW, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil - all private companies that receive significant government support yet are still classified as private companies.

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

"How exactly can you get

"How exactly can you get behind an organization that endorses a plan that they haven't read yet?" Just because other people are more educated than you Gil and are not illiterate is no reason to castigate them. Your racism and idiot flag are flying high - you mother would be proud, no?

In case you hadn't noticed Gil we had an election last year and your ideas were put up against Democrats and guess what - you got clobbered. No one like Republican ideas, as they all have proven to be catastrophic failures. Why would anyone care what you have to say now, when you and your ilk have been so clearly thrown out of any position of influence?

Any problem that can't be solved with tax cuts, or bumper sticker slogans Gil pretends doesn't exist.

 's picture

"you have nothing to add. Go

"you have nothing to add. Go back to sleep and keep your head in the sand."

Oh poor Gil - projecting a little too much aren't you now. If you line of thinking is so "perfect" why has it been rejected by the vast majority of Americans? Go back to Faux News and keep letting Glenn Beck convince you that you are losing your country.

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

Right on pormanand Dr.s

Right on pormanand Dr.s Sokol! If the Republicans had stuck to tax cuts and not searched for non existant weapons of mass destructionourcountry would bea lot healthier fiscallyand morallyand health carewould have been paid for!

 's picture

Bob67, who claimed they had

Bob67, who claimed they had weapons of mass destruction? If Saddam had come clean instead of lying, President Bush would not have invaded.

 's picture

Great letter and so true.

Great letter and so true. The American Medical Association as well as the American Association of Retired Persons just fully endorsed the Democratic plans for reform. Medicare provides better health care to it's customers than any private insurer, and at 1/3 the cost. Wailing about Medicare fraud is a red herring as private insurers are victims of and perpetuate massive fraud.

The day health insurance companies are driven out of business will be a great day for America!

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

Sirmel you make yourself

Sirmel you make yourself look foolish on your own, but here is an article providing more proof of your foolishness. Fraud due to a hospital:

Hospital sends parents $29,000 bill after son is murdered

By Muriel Kane
Thursday, November 5th, 2009 -- 11:00 am
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Hospital sends parents $29,000 bill after son is murdered

Shortly after the funeral of California student Scott Hawkins, who was beaten to death by his college roommate on October 23, his parents received a second shock.

A bill for $29,186.50 arrived from the hospital where Hawkins had been taken after being found unconscious in his dorm room, along with a form letter telling "the patient" that he was considered indigent and should seek further treatment through county health services.

Gerald and Elizabeth Hawkins had been informed by Sacramento State College that their son was already dead when his body was discovered and were not aware that he had received level 5 trauma care for five minutes in the hospital emergency room.

"It was just devastating and insulting," Gerald Hawkins stated. It's just hard to grasp for words. My wife and I were near collapse."

"It was just awful," Elizabeth Hawkins told CBS13 News. "I don't think there's any civilized country, anywhere in the world that would allow the parents of a murdered boy to receive a bill like this. ... When you have barely enough energy to finish your sentences, having to sit down and deal with something like this out of the blue is extremely difficult."
Story continues below...

UC Davis Medical Center issued a statement apologizing for the "clerical error" and explaining that "the patient's death in the emergency department should have been flagged as a death in the outpatient record." That would have generated a letter of sympathy and a tactful inquiry about the family's insurance.

Hawkins was a transfer student who had only been rooming for a short time with his alleged attacker, Quran Jones, and it was not clear what prompted the attack. Death was attributed by a representative of the college to "blunt force trauma," and one police spokesperson said Hawkins had been beaten with a baseball bat, although this has not been confirmed.

When police responded to reports of the disturbance, they found Hawkins unconscious and Jones wielding an eight-inch knife. Jones was shot by police as he advanced with the knife and will be charged with murder when he recovers.
Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

Sirmel, I have to

Sirmel, I have to respectfully disagree with your answer of 501. First, they would blame the previous administration for burning it out, even though they new it was burnt out when they took office. Then they would second create a large government bureaucracy to study the bulb, come up with an estimate of $5.00 to change it. After it was changed, the actual cost would be more list $1,000. They would keep the bureaucracy around to make sure it doesn't burn out again. Oh, and how do they pay for it, they tax the rich.

 's picture

How many Republicans does it

How many Republicans does it take to change a light blub?

1. One to deny that the light bulb needs to be changed.

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed.

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb.

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either for changing the light bulb or for darkness.

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid/cost-plus contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb.

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a stepladder under the
banner: “Light Bulb Change Accomplished.”

7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark.

8. One to viciously smear #7.

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb changing policy all along.

10. Who needs a light blub when you can get all aglow just by thinking about Ronald Reagan?

Any problem that can't be solved with taxcuts, republicans pretend doesn't exist.

 's picture

name me one person in this

name me one person in this country who was denied health care because they couldn't afford it. just one.

 's picture


Nataline Sarkisyan

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 's picture

Lil, try telling the whole

Lil, try telling the whole story. The reason the insurance company refused to pay was because the procedure was considered experimental.

 's picture

You forgot the part about

You forgot the part about the hospital offering to do the surgery if they came up with a $75,000 down payment. But, they didn't have a spare $75,000 laying around, therefore she died because not only did Cigna deny the claim, they didn't have the $75,000 for the down payment. You should read a little more, you know, "the whole story".

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 's picture

they had insurance so

they had insurance so obviously they could afford it, they were originally denied the operation but cigna relented albeit a little late and she died. unfortunate? yes but she was not denied it because she had no insurance. with govt run health care she would still be dead. 14 years old, the cost-benefit analysis would not be in her favor to make it worthwhile for the operation.

 's picture

So, now you're all for

So, now you're all for rationing care?

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

 's picture

no that is what we will get

no that is what we will get with the public option. how about this: there are only 6 insurance companies allowed to sell health care in maine but there are about 1700 nation wide. open it up to all and the price of insurance comes down. same thing happened in the late 70's early 80's with the phone company, no one called the west coast until after 7 pm because it was so expensive, now with competion the price came down a lot. the came thing with lasik and plastic surgery, people shop around when it is their money on the line. cap claims on lawsuits and loser pays. if you want to sit there and let the government tell you what you are going to get and be happy with it then you are intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt. the rest of us want to take care of ourselves and our families.

RONALD RIML's picture

I'm familiar with many from

I'm familiar with many from my twenty years experience as a cop. You get initial stabilization, but not the lasting treatment that results in a cure.

Your ignorance is no excuse.

When I was a young Sailor - I drank like a Sailor, fought like a Sailor, and screwed like a Sailor. Now that I am old and wise - I have a few scars, but many fond memories.


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