Country needs real health care solutions — now

If the Obama administration has a strategy for passing health care reform, we certainly don't understand it.

First, the president reaches across the partisan divide to invite Republicans to a health care summit, scheduled to begin later today, and says he wants to hear ideas from all sides.

That's cool. Let's put some Republican stuff in the bill.

Then, three days before the summit, he resurrects — in nearly exact detail — the same plan that dead-ended in the U.S. Senate the month before.

Republicans, meanwhile, say they have a plan and will present it Thursday.

We hope they do, and we hope it includes something beyond tort reform and allowing health care insurance to be sold across state lines.

While those are both laudable ideas, and should be included in a final plan, experts say they will only put a small dent in what ails the U.S. health care industry.

As we've said before, there is a health care cost and access crisis, and we need look no further than the daily headlines to see it.

Anthem Blue Cross has drawn fire for announcing more than 20 percent rate increases in several states, including Maine. The requests probably reflect two things:

First, that Anthem has become accustomed to getting half to two-thirds of what it requests.  In other words, its executives in California probably feel a 25 percent rate increase will be whittled down to 12-15 percent by regulators, who will then declare victory and move on.

The pattern in Maine has been much the same. In 2009, the insurer requested 18 percent and got about 11.

This year, it has requested a 23 percent increase. What do you think? End up with 12 or 13?

Second, the exhorbitant requests really do reflect that health care costs are out of control, increasing an estimated 10 percent last year alone.

And this has been happening year after year, decade upon decade.

In 1970, U.S. health care spending was $75 billion, or about $356 per U.S. resident, and was 7.2 percent of gross domestic product, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In 2009, we spent $2.5 trillion on health care, $8,160 per resident and it was 17.6 of GDP.

By 2018, if current trends continue, that will douple to $4.3 trillion, $13,100 per person and account for 20.3 percent of GDP. At that point, one in five dollars in our economy will go to health care.

Consider again our current 17.6 percent of GDP, then consider these numbers: Canada, 10 percent; France, 11 percent; Germany 10.6 percent; Japan 8.1 percent; United Kingdom, 8.4 percent.

Worse, research shows that these nations cover more of their people, have better overall health care outcomes and their citizens are happier with their care.

Can we afford a second-rate system that costs nearly twice as much?

Democrats may think they can ram an unpopular program through Congress. They could, but they shouldn't.

Republicans may think they can jam everything up until the next election. Again, they could, but they shouldn't.

The country needs leadership and solutions today, not posturing and bickering.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Can't you all see? It's just

Can't you all see? It's just a republican scam to divert our attention while, in the dark of night, they increase the price of postage stamps to 46 cents. Those conservatives are so shallow, aren't they, T? Hey, tell us about how the republicans almost lost WWII for us because they wanted to bomb Canada instead of Japan?

 's picture

Tron, I will agree with you

Tron, I will agree with you that the Republicans can now stop the Democrats in the Senate. Please explain how the Republicans could have stopped any of the Democrats ideas prior to the election of Senator Brown.

RONALD RIML's picture

John  "ReaganRepublican"

John  "ReaganRepublican" Pronovost writes: 

"The government has not shown any ability to manage anything responsibly and I should hand over the decisions about my health care treatment to them?"


I certainly had to hand over my 'Health Care' decisions, in addition to many others to the the government, when I enlisted in the military, John.

It appears you've never gone that route then, John - and wouldn't recommend anyone else enlist, for that matter.

So that's what 'Reagan Republicans' believe in?  Nice example you set.  That's all "ME, ME, ME"

Sounds more like a selfish little kid.

Or a hippie. 

- But I'll give you the fact that Reagan couldn't pull off "Iran-Contra" without getting caught.  He said he just couldn't remember it.


 's picture

And what's your point?  You

And what's your point?  You actually prove my point completely.  Enlisting  in the military is a VOLUNTARY act, something I also did from 1987-1991, surrendering yourself to the government for four years is understood in the package when I CHOSE to sign up (I am not quite sure I see the relevance in that relative to this discussion, but whatever).  I would never discourage anyone from enlisting in the military but I would also never force someone to do it, either.  The Obama health plan, as proposed by Pelosi and Reid et al. is MANDATORY.  All about me?  No.  It's all about freedom.  Freedom to choose my own health care or no health care if I choose.  Everyone should have that freedom, not just me.  Selfish?  Because I don't want a group of 538 people in Washington D.C., who have never met me or my family, make health care decisions for me with a plan they won't even take for themselves or their families?  Guilty.  Your reactionary labeling of me is funny but you are still avoiding the question, a great Saul Alinsky tactic.   And, by the way, you never answered my question...typical of you liberals.  So I will leave it again..."The government has not shown any ability to manage anything responsibly and I should hand over the decisions about my health care treatment to them?"  Would you like to answer that for me, Veritas?   

RONALD RIML's picture

ReaganRepublican - So you did

ReaganRepublican - So you did hand over your health care decisions to the government after all.

After representing yourself as someone who would never do that.


And now you want me to answer the questions of someone who has exhibited the fact he doesn't act in the manner with which he reasons??

Now there's an exercise in futility - You must be nucking futz!!!



 's picture

You people have no idea how

You people have no idea how to reason logically...I said no such thing and you stating that I did doesn't make it so.  Yet you STILL avoid my question (name calling is all you folks are good at).  First of all, Obama's health care plan is nothing like military medical care and you know it.  Secondly, being in the military is in NO WAY like being forced to swallow this bilge water that the Democrats are serving up.  If I wasn't satisfied with my care with the military medical facilities, I could go to someone else (and sometimes did)...I didn't surrender anything.  That is not so under the Obama plan.  There is nothing unreasonable about that and your reactionary hyperbolic drivel doesn't make it so.  I most certainly act in the manner in which I reason.  So let me re-phrase this then...maybe you can answer it now..."Why should I surrender my health care decisions to someone who will then forbid me from going somewhere else if that care is inadequate, rationed, or denied?"  

RONALD RIML's picture

John Pronovost wrote: "The

John Pronovost wrote:

"The government has not shown any ability to manage anything responsibly and I should hand over the decisions about my health care treatment to them?"

When you joined the military you DID hand over decisions about your health care treatment to government.  If you refused to undergo a procedure or inoculation which you were ordered to do so, you were subject to discipline under the UCMJ.

Nothing so stringent in the proposed Health Care Bill.

That's reality, John.  You can't hide from it.  Your argument doesn't hold water.

 's picture

If by making sure you use my

If by making sure you use my name in every post you are going to intimidate me, forget it.  But, once again, you refuse to answer my question, choosing instead to superimpose my argument with what you would like to think I said, probably because you think it's makes it easier for you to say that I am wrong.  My argument does not hold water?  You haven't even spoken to my argument or even articulated anything that resembles a refutation.  My voluntary service in the military 20 years ago has nothing to do with entrusting my health care to the government today, I didn't join the military for the health was part of the deal; I was interested in serving my country.  And the fact that I served in the military has nothing to do with the quality of Obama's health care plan, or any other government run health care plan, either.  You can run down as many rabbit trails as you want, "veritas" (I put that in quotes because I question your self-anointing as a designator of truth).   So let me see if I understand you think that I should submit to the Obama health care plan because I once served in the military and if I don't then I am being contradictory?  You know, I have to tell you, you disappoint me.  I am a firm believer in mature reasoned debate so that people can learn from each other; no one side has a monoply on the truth.  I had perceived that you were one of those people, with whom I disagree, that can present a reasoned defense of a position that I oppose.  I have mentioned several things in these posts on this issue and you have spoken to none of them.  I have given you several opportunities to tell me why as, I assume, a supporter of the Obama health care plan, why I should.  You appear to only want to argue and attack the poster, avoiding what is a very fair question to ask.  Your only response is that I served in the military, therefore opposing it is contradictory logic.  Serving in the military has nothing to do with it.  And if that is the only thing you can give to support it, I am even more convinced of its flaws and the foundation for my resistance.  As someone who trumpets his resume as a solid foundation for his wisdom, I was hoping for something with a little more substance.  So, I will give one last chance to convince a skeptic...why should I support government run health care?  Surely you're capable of giving me an answer to that one simple question...  

RONALD RIML's picture

John; I argue with those who


I argue with those who reason.

You don't reason.

You made a statement which was completely inconsistant with the reality of your own actions.  I pointed that out.  Seeing how you don't even walk your own talk, to debate with you would make about as much logical sense as going down Louis Carroll's 'Rabbit Hole'

I've been around the block enough times to not walk into those traps.

You refer to intimidation when one addresses you by name; yet you think you're up for mature, reasoned debate?

You've got issues.

 's picture


Great non-answer...again.  You have no answers.  With all the keystrokes you spent telling me how wrong I am, you wasted countless opportunities to tell your side.  Another attack on the messenger, you can't reason, you're not mature, you're inconsistent, you've got issues...blah, blah, blah...  I have given you reasons for my views and I have asked you for yours.  Silence.  You reason, huh?  Where are your reasons?  You don't have any.  You haven't refuted mine and you haven't provided yours.  Vapid.   

RONALD RIML's picture

 The Sun Journal

 The Sun Journal writes:

"Consider again our current 17.6 percent of GDP, then consider these numbers: Canada, 10 percent; France, 11 percent; Germany 10.6 percent; Japan 8.1 percent; United Kingdom, 8.4 percent."

Remember that our cost of Health Care includes "Insurance" - which those other Countries don't.

You know.  The 'Protection Racket'  - Guido and the Boys.  Buy it whether you need it or not.  The useless 'Money-Changers' who's azzes J.C. kicked out of the temple.....

Legalized extortion.  The American Way. 

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Really people would you trust

Really people would you trust the government during any administration in history to organize a cattle stampede and do it right. They would have the cattle running in all different directions. I personally want the government to do nothing absolutly nothing for me other that to protect our borders. That was originally it's sole purpose in life and it should return to that position and nothing more.

RONALD RIML's picture

Ernest: If you believe our


If you believe our government's sole purpose was to 'protect our borders' - then you obviously don't have the foggiest idea of what the Constitution is about.

Quit wasting your time here and take some decent courses on Constitutional History and Law.  It would be money and time well spent.

 's picture

"Let's put some Republican

"Let's put some Republican stuff in the bill." There are something like 190 Republican amendments in the bill. Ignore tort reform - states that tried it have not seen any cost containment. And ignore the whole Republican version of selling across state lines thing, too. Nothing but a race to the bottom like the credit card industry.

 's picture

Somebody needs to remind

Somebody needs to remind Olympia that COBRA was passed using reconciliation.

 's picture

Tron is usual. 

Tron is usual.  Republicans are most certainly solutions that don't place our medical care into the hands of bureaucrats in Washington.  The government has not shown any ability to manage anything responsibly and I should hand over the decisions about my health care treatment to them?  No, thanks...I am capable of thinking on my own and do not wish to be dependent on an incompetent bureaucrat, Republican or Democrat, especially government bureaucrats who have run this country into the trillions in red ink (and before Tron goes and blames Republicans for that he needs to remember that there is plenty of Democrat blame to go around, too).  That is the fundamental difference, of course, in this health care debate.  There are those of us who do not wish to be dependent on Uncle Sam and wish to have the freedom to purchase our health care on the open market at my own discretion (this is still a free country, right?).  If supporters of Obama's health care plan wish to be dependent on government, fine, they already have that option in Medicare and Medicaid.  Leave me alone to buy my own from the private sector if I want to.  And, believe it or not, there are those who don't want to have any...period.  I respectfully disagree with the SJ assessment that tort reform and over-the-state lines purchase options will only lead to a small dent in the nation's health care woes.  It would have a significant effect in a free-market economy.  The SJ should have added the Republican plan for tax deductible health savings accounts (HSA's) which allow citizens to save their own money for health care and shop around for the best price in their communities for treatment, forcing Dr.'s and hospitals to lower costs in an effort to compete for our health care business.  But, as government tends to do, and this is a notoriously famous position of the socialists (read Democrats), Washington does not believe that individuals in this country are smart enough to make those decisions and they are adamantly opposed to any industry that is independent of them.  And I don't want to hear the loud whine of how corrupt big business is, either.  No business in history has been run more corruptly than the U.S. government.  Why should we let them run health care, too?  This is an issue of trust.  Who do I trust to run my life?  Myself or the U.S. government?   

 's picture

I am in control.  Good grief,

I am in control.  Good grief, it's basic free market economics.  If I, as a private consumer, am unsatisfied with my health care coverage I am free to take my premium to another vendor...just like any other business in this country.  Don't like the quality of the Toyota you bought?  Buy a Chrysler next time.    And that's the point...I get to choose what is right for ME and my family.  That's what freedom is, or so I thought.  If the government plan stinks, guess what?  I am not only stuck with it but I am FORCED to buy it.  That is not freedom, my friend, that's socialism or, dare I say, tyranny.  Really?  The American people would rather have the federal government making their health care decisions?  Which poll did you get that info from?  The Daily Kos?  Wasted my time making this post?  I'll take my chances...but thanks for the public service announcement.

 's picture

I agree, awfully long winded

I agree, awfully long winded for somebody with nothing of substance to say.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Gee, you're right, T...I'll

Gee, you're right, T...I'll bet there isn't a single Republican in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting to defend your right to bloviate with your inane rants.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...