The hospital of you.

What are we doing back in Hampton Roads, twice in one week? Today, checking on the future of health care:

Amanda Rooker doesn’t pay for health insurance. Instead, she pays a monthly share to cover other people’s health bills.

It’s part of a medical bill sharing program called Medi-Share, which claims an exemption from federal health reform’s individual mandate. Under the exemption, members of healthcare sharing ministries — organizations where members share financial resources to pay one another’s medical costs — are not required to carry insurance by 2014 or face penalties, according to Medi-Share.

I was a member of a similar organization when I owned my first horse, as a way of refilling the pot if my appaloosa went hooves-up some day, a trick horses are too well known for. The group was 1,000 strong or so, and when anyone’s animal died, everyone paid $5 and the owner collected $5,000. It’s a crude form of insurance, as is Medi-Share, which works the same way. Rooker joined because she can’t afford to join her husband’s employer-provided plan. The photo with the article was instructive, with dad sitting at one end of the couch with the couple’s two little boys on his lap (safe on the insurance ship) and mom at the other end (paddling her tippy little canoe alongside).

But she’s cool with Medi-Save, because she’s now far more motivated to practice “self-care and natural remedies,” and has only had to submit one bill to the group. Of course, she’s also 35. Barring an unlucky accident, family history or other catastrophe, most people are in the best health of their lives at 35. Medi-Save is also overtly Christian, and has a few stipulations:

Members must sign a statement of faith professing faith in Jesus Christ and agree not to engage in sex outside of traditional Christian marriage, use tobacco or illegal drugs or abuse legal drugs or alcohol.

They also can’t use the service for birth control, abortions or boob jobs. And Rooker also acknowledges it’s not for everyone:

“I don’t think it would work well for people who have babies or small children who want to have their immunizations and well checks,” she added.

No, I guess not. In general, it sounds like it wouldn’t work very well for anyone other than an essentially healthy Christian married woman who doesn’t want new breasts. I wonder what the group assessment would be for, say, breast cancer. Story doesn’t say. Rooker thinks more people should look into groups like Medi-Save, because it’s such a good idea.

Mark my words: As we divide into two countries, haves and have-nots, we’re going to see more of this sort of thing. I’m simultaneously heartened that at least someone is looking at an alternative to outrageously expensive health insurance and depressed that this is what it’s come to in the wealthiest nation in the world. I once had a boss who wore a large scar on his jawline, the result, he said, of having a childhood laceration repaired by a veterinarian. Which was all his parents could afford when he was young. I’ve actually read conservative commentators saying this is as it should be, that we should be prepared to handle most non-traumatic health-care at home, the way the early settlers did. I look forward to learning basic suturing and bone-setting skills at a for-profit do-it-yourself school, maybe part of the Halliburton family of companies. Or maybe my vet can show me a few tricks.

So, a little bloggage on a morning when the sun is late to work but winter is right behind:

Jay Rosen, speaking the dang truth about Andrew Breitbart, and why news organizations need to stop being so goddamn stupid.

Meet the people who will be keeping Jon Stewart in high cotton for the next few years.

I need an OID palate-cleanser…OK, here’s one: We have the world’s stupidest criminals.

No, wait, a real one, from Coozledad:

We were fortunate she never walked in on us during a waxing October moon, but she did crash our marijuana-enhanced viewing of Around the World in Eighty Days- a fairly long movie, which she stayed for- and talked ceaselessly throughout.

Her speech was a hybrid of Southern Virginia glottal vowels and a unique fetal-alcoholic disregard of consonants that made me wish David Niven would leap out of the screen and throttle her for murdering his tongue.

Coozledad, the universe is telling you something, and it’s this: WRITE A BOOK.

And with that, I’m going to the gym, and then I’m going to write something I want to write. Dunno what, yet. Just going to turn off the modem and see what comes up.

Posted at 9:54 am in Current events |

63 responses to “The hospital of you.”

  1. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I love the phrase in Rosen’s piece “the children of Agnew.” It resonates because good, old corrupt Spiro really got the press bashing going 40 years ago and it has escalated into a cottage industry on the right ever since. The right has been “working the refs” for decades now and this is what we get. . .a major network offering a commentator’s position to a rabid race-baiter and political polemicist like Andrew Breitbart. . .just to show how even-handed the liberal media can be.

    There is no equal pretense of fairness on the right. Fox is clearly the propaganda wing of the GOP and the conservative movement, but they felt no need to invite, say, Markos Moulitasis of Daily Kos, to be a left-leaning commentator. The rules are different over there on the right-wing.

    I’ve accepted the verdict of Tuesday’s elections, but fear both parties will take the wrong message. Polls show voters hold the Republicans and Democrats in equally low esteem, but the GOP is framing this as a repudiation (or is it refudiation, lol) of Obama’s policies, but that’s not really correct. Voters were pissed off and there were more of us than there were of them to be ousted. The Democrats will mull whether they have gone too far to the left, when the damage done to the Blue Dogs shows Democrats have a better shot at winning when they are Democrats.

    I suppose one good thing is that the meddling of SheWho cost the GOP the Senate. Ken Buck, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were so batshit insane they terrified moderates and minorities and in Nevada and Delaware they literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Way to go, Moosezilla!

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  2. Peter said on November 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I still can’t decide if Sharron Angle losing was a good or bad thing. I think she would have been so bad most rational people would have come to their senses and realized that they have elected the inmates to run the asylum. On the other hand, her potential mishaps might have only succeeded in making the true believers howl all the more.

    I did like Tina Fey’s comments on Letterman – Fox News calling Moosezilla Governor Palin was the same as calling her Dairy Queen Employee Fey – they both quit those jobs a long time ago.

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  3. Mark P. said on November 4, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I would say that Americans are barbarians, but I think most barbarians actually take care of their own. So what does that make us?

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  4. Sue said on November 4, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I know I’ve caught some flack here for being too critical of Obama, but… did anyone see his press conference yesterday? I was happy that he seemed to acknowledge that maybe some of his supporters had just possibly become disaffected (union voters going increasingly Republican and younger voter turnout down by millions, I’m assuming he meant for starters), but that was about it in terms of reaching out to his own side. There seemed to be a lot of conciliatory messages in his comments, already signalling that tax cuts and changes to health care reform are on the table. But what got me more than anything else, and I sure could be reading this wrong, was his physical demeanor. Was he going for quiet and introspective? Because all I could think of was that he looked like a target. I don’t know how else to express this – he reminded me of a target. Even though he wasn’t actually, physically doing this, he seemed hunched and tentative.
    This is the same guy that faced a roomful of House Republicans awhile back and quietly schooled them, without a teleprompter or notes, responding instantly to everything they threw at him. Now he appears at a press conference after several Republicans have made it clear that they expect to focus on defeating both him and his agenda, (assuming they’re not too busy appointing special prosecutors), and he spends more time sending warm fuzzies to them than stating clearly that he intends to preserve what he has accomplished.
    I just don’t get what’s going on with this behavior. I really don’t.

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  5. brian stouder said on November 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

    In my opinion, there’s time enough for political fireworks later.

    I think President Obama’s challenge, for the day after the election, was to navigate around anything that provides the stock footage for the next election cycle – “Angry and out of touch!”; “Dismissive of the common citizen/voter”; “Small-minded and clueless”

    I think the president struck the right tone. Let the loyal opposition have their day in the sun, and look forward to the work that needs done – by all the governmental leaders – and express recognition of the people’s voice, and confidence in the future.

    The GOP is rightly gleeful, and very much in danger of an over-reach, not to mention rhetorical over-kill (Their orange speaker is sounding more than a little vindictive, which won’t play well).

    When they go over the cliff (as they almost surely will), the president wants to remain on the high ground, the better to wave goodbye

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  6. Deborah said on November 4, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Sue, it’s puzzling, I’ll admit but I still think we need to collectively back Obama with gusto. If ever there was a time for us to rise up in solidarity it is now. The NYTimes had a piece yesterday about how the republicans came from chaos to power and it is truly something we can learn from. Although the article claimed that they studied Rahm Immanuels tactics to know how to do it.

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  7. Sue said on November 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Brian, how does a group who are publicly stating that they intend to bring down the President through the destruction of his accomplishments qualify as “loyal opposition”?
    And Deborah, I agree we have to back Obama, but there has to be something to back. I am absolutely not advocating the Ed Schultz-style nonsense about reciprocal aggression, but really, publicly stating the day after a demoralizing defeat that the Republicans are welcome to come to him with more changes to Health care reform? After they have stated they plan to KILL it? What does he think this will accomplish?

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  8. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I’m not throwing in the towel on Obama, but like you all, I’ve been perplexed at where his eloquence went to hide after his election. This is a guy who when faced with the ravings of his former minister at a critical juncture in the race responded with one of the most brilliant and compelling conversations on race and religion I’ve heard. Yeah, he’s a wonk and always has been, but he’s also shown us what a tremendous motivator he can be when he ratchets up his game. Why he and his team have allowed themselves to be defined by the other side is not simply puzzling, but quite dangerous as the results of Tuesday underscore. Our taxes are lower. People denied health care for scores of reasons are now in line to receive it. We avoided a second Great Depression. The American automobile industry is recovering. And he got this done in the face of constant resistance from the other side. Yet the nimrods who voted R will tell you they are paying higher taxes, health care is going to take their doctors away from them, ad nauseum.

    I firmly believe Brian is correct. The Republicans are idiots if they think the public wants to embrace them and their Wall Street cronies, but the teabagging wads who won election Tuesday are going to start insisting on the kinds of ideological purity that will turn John Boehner’s face from orange to green. And just wait until little Darrell Issa starts issuing his subpoenas. . .a very smart use of money, btw, right-wingers. . .to tie the whole House in knots.

    The Chinese, Indians, Brazilians who are building their 21st century economies while we still give each other patriotism purity tests must be laughing their asses off today. They get another two years of America sitting on the sidelines. I’m sure they greatly appreciate that.

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  9. Catherine said on November 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Robert Reich (who is another in my list of unusual crushes) said on Marketplace that what Obama needs is a little less Clinton-style conciliation, and a little more FDR-style cojones. FDR in 1936: “They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred!” You can listen to the whole thing, including the FDR quote, at

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  10. Scout said on November 4, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    The rhetoric coming from the Weepy Orange Boner is definitely edging into over-reach territory, especially coming on the heels of what the voters were actually saying about the Republicans during exit polling.

    Several things have been discussed since the Tuesday Democratic Drubbing. The people who were most motivated to vote this cycle were the over 65ers. The number of younger voters, 18-30, was half what it was in ’08. Midterms tend to favor the party out of power anyway, but these demographics created the bloodbath that ensued. What will it take to bring these younger voters back to the polls?

    Messaging is such a problem for Democrats. Possibly because they spend all their time actually doing what they were elected to do: governing. Elected Repubs generally can’t be bothered with that pesky mundane stuff, they are constantly occupied with perpetual campaigning, bitching about the opposition and spending as much time as they can in front of “liberal-media” cameras making shit up. The “liberal-media” sometimes, much after the fact, “refudiates” the made up shit, but by then the rubes and blue haired FOX-ites have already filed away in their reptilian brains the original lie as stuff-they-heard-on-the-teevee-so-it-must-be-true.

    MSNBC is a start, but we need our own noise machine. That is the bottom line. Because as a friend of mine wrote this morning:

    The Republicans caused the deficit with their tax cuts and war.

    But they blamed the Dems and got away with it.

    The Republicans caused the bank and economy collapse with their deregulation.

    But they blamed the Dems and got away with it.

    The Republicans caused the destruction of this country with their illegal wars and torture.

    But no one seems to care.

    Facts don’t seem to matter.

    coozledad, I second Nancy’s challenge. Write that book!!!

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  11. Mark P. said on November 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I agree totally that Obama should come out swinging. The new Republicans have said that they want the Democrats to cooperate with them, but everyone knows that that means simply do it the teabag way (which, I believe, is to cut everything that goes to everyone else while keeping all the spending that goes to them). Obama needs to get mad and let people know it. He needs to call the Republicans out as what they are – liars, obstructionists, tools of big money, enemies of the ordinary people. He has the bully pulpit. Let him use it.

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  12. Linda said on November 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Two thoughts on this:
    1) the Bre­it­bart affair. You don’t even need to be political to figure this out. ABC wants to have a good name for telling the truth. Breitbart is a slanderer and liar–and enough of a sociopath to lay the blame on other people. Case closed. If you air a liar and slanderer on your network, people shouldn’t trust you, any more than parents would trust you to host a sleepover of their kids if you boarded with a child molester.
    2) clean-living Christian alternatives to health insurance. I keep my BMI at 22, work out 5 days a week, but I’m 52, and my arthritis and cardiac arrythmia don’t know anything about my clean living. Those conditions don’t know anything about the smugness or self-righteousness of the person holding them, either. Good luck to all the participants.

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  13. Rana said on November 4, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I agree, cooz needs to write a book. Or a collection of short stories. Something!

    On the do-it-yourself-health-care front, I’ve seen similar things operating in a quiet way here. We’re basically a one-hospital city – and it’s been recruiting local doctors left and right with promises of insurance-handling staff in exchange for being on salary – and even though it works mightily with patients to get the bills paid, it’s still beyond the means of a lot of folks. The walk-in clinic does a solid business (we’ve used it a few times ourselves), operating on a cash-only, no-insurance basis. The thing that I think offers the clearest window on the alternative world of no-insurance health care, though, is the local natural foods store. It’s one of those ones that has tons of vitamins and detox products alongside the organic grains and free-trade tampons. Just about every single time I’ve been in there, there has been at least one person, usually with that look people get when they live on the margins of desperation for a long time, asking the owners for medical advice. The concerns range from everything to low libidos to more serious issues like heart disease and migraines. Given that these customers are not your usual hippy-crystal types, I suspect strongly that this is not about the appeal of nontraditional medicine, but about fixing chronic problems without going broke.

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  14. nancy said on November 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Rana, the first time I talked to a midwife, that was my biggest surprise — how many people seek her out to avoid not the experience of a hospital birth (your basic dirty hippie demographic), but the expense of one.

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  15. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Once the Republican overlords repeal Obamacare, perhaps I’ll sell one of my kidneys to finance health care. I mean, that’s the capitalist way to do, right? I’m pretty sure my kidneys are in great shape after decades of filtering beer through them. The liver? Not so much.

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  16. Sue said on November 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Michael Moore was on MSNBC last night and offered an interesting scenario:
    Everyone expects the Tea Party to refuse to be good little Republicans now that the election is over, and the infighting should start early, with challenges to leadership positions like Michelle Bachmann is thinking of doing, as well as serious pressure on non-Tea Party Republicans to do the bidding of a segment of the party that now thinks it’s running the show. If the Tea Partiers don’t get what they want they may break and run their own candidate in 2012. Meantime, the far left, angry at what they perceive as the Administration’s constant caving to Republicans, field their own candidate, Nader style.
    Four candidates for president in 2012.
    I think I just heard Prospero’s head explode.

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  17. Judybusy said on November 4, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    During the 2008 primaries, I voted for Clinton, because I believed she would have known how to deal with the right. Obama just didn’t seem to get how vituperative they are, how focused on destroying him and any agenda remotely progressive. He still doesn’t get it. He has absolutely nothing to lose by coming out more forcefully, and defending everything he’s done. No matter how much he has reached out, the right has attacked his efforts. I would repeat critique this for most Democrats!

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  18. mark said on November 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    It’s always all or nothing here. If Amanda from the article linked to by Nancy professes concern for those who receive inadequate health care and a willingness to have government do more to adress the problem, then she must support Obamacare or she’s a liar. Or if she criticizes Obamacare, the criticism needs to be that it is not big enough, fast enough and government-controlled enough, or her criticism means she’s fooled, greedy and just trying to throw out the first black president.

    If she dares to say that she doesn’t want to be told by government that she must purchase a policy, that must contain the coverage government insists upon rather than the coverage she wants, or be fined and, if you don’t pay the fine, prosecuted, it can’t be because she has honestly held views about freedom, the role of government, the value of making critical life decisions for yourself, etc,. it is because she is greedy, wants sick people to die and doesn’t like Obama because he is black. After all, it is obvious that any real effort to help the people who need it requires that we first tell Amanda how to lead her life.

    The exemption from Obamacare that Amanda thinks she has is interesting, and could swallow up the government’s plans. Triple that 250 out of pocket to 750 and the premium would probably fall to far less than the $800 planned initial penalty for having no insurance at all, while providing some catastrophic coverage. And, like those who will choose to pay the penalty rather than buy much more expensive insurance, go get the insurance after you get sick.

    I can understand disagreeing with the criticisms of Obamacare, but the insistence on the left with mischaracterizing the criticism, and demonizing any and all critics, bodes well for further increases in conservative influence in the legislature. Calling everybody stupid isn’t the best way to win back that big independent vote that moved away from Obama, if not necessarily (and very reluctantly) to the Republicans.

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  19. Deborah said on November 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Did the right-wing go bat shit when they were required to buy car insurance? This is a real question not a rhetorical one. I don’t remember what went on then. When did that happen anyway?

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  20. Julie Robinson said on November 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Judybusy, I voted for Clinton too; I was concerned about Obama’s relative lack of experience. My ideal ticket would have been Clinton/Obama, with Obama then running for prez after Clinton’s two terms.

    The Carter comparisons are fair in two areas: Obama’s tendency to overthink and unwillingness to play hardball. This is understandable given the problems GWB created by underthinking combined with testosterone poisoning. But yes, he needs to grow a pair.

    Neither of my kids can afford health insurance right now so they are on the hope-nothing-happens-plan.

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  21. prospero said on November 4, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Obama and the “base”? I watched some weaselly little prick from on Sawrence O’Donnell last night. He actually said sniffProgressivesniff” voters stayed fucking home because the President ditched the public option. Three observations:

    Public option was a halfway good idea that was born in the run up to Congressional consideration of health care. It was never, never, in the mix during the campaign, so all of this whining about it amounts to manufactured crocodile of betrayal; because

    All of these navel-gazing onanist Naderites and Deanie-Babies would have raised snivelling alert to orange and whined that the public option was capitulation and nothing but single-payer would do, had Obama managed to wrangle the Blue Dog cats. Nothing is ever going to satisfy them.

    Cutting of ones nose to retain some self-justifying ideological purity that provides low self-esteem types with a feeling of superiority elects bigoted, preening aholes like Rand Paul.

    ROGirls Obama accomplishments link day before yesterday was close to mind-boggling, and Maddow and Olbermann ran similar litanies the night before. Well, thanks for nothing Keith and Rachel, back-biters in chief for at least 12 of the last 18 months. Name a President that ever took this kind of unreasonable shit from both sides. Logjam in front, so much resistance from behind.

    Sorry for the abrasive tone, but I just had to purge the last of my bile over how obnoxious this whole thing has been. Anyway, it’s funny how this is an unprecedented tsunami election when the last midterm lost the GOPlutocrats both Houses of Congress. More GD memes signifying nothing but a nation of semi-intelligent sheep.

    Here’s an anodyne:

    Strong dose of an incomparable American intellect is in order. An encomium from one dangerous anti-American to another.

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  22. Sue said on November 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    You know how there’s a merge area when road construction closes a lane? It usually starts pretty far out so people can take their time driving safely and still get into the mainstream. You know how there are always people who refuse to merge until they speed to the end of the merge lane, then expect to be let in RIGHT NOW? Sometimes even the merge lane isn’t enough and they take the shoulder until they cram their way in.
    They are the driver equivalent of the people who, if we do get health care reform, will wait until they’re sick to get insurance. Because technically it’s allowed and who cares if you’re not part of the greater good?
    I wouldn’t call them stupid. But I also don’t assume that the reason they’re doing this is because of their upright Americanism. Don’t try to convince me of either.

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  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Folks, there’s nothing wrong with President Obama that a good night’s sleep, followed by the same on a couple of succeeding nights, won’t cure.

    Sheesh, y’all are making me feel bad for him. And it’s not Boehner who’s sounding vindictive, it’s McConnell. Another tragic output of the seniority system . . . if you’ns had had Steny Hoyer driving the House shuttle bus for the last two years, you might have lost 35 seats.

    Prospero, nice link. I read much, skimmed rest, think he’s still confusing the Schwinn with the cataclysm in some ways, but he’s aware of the potential overreaction. Moyers is always worth a read. Thanks!

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  24. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    The car insurance requirement is a good one to note, Deborah. In Illinois, it is a requirement to carry automobile insurance. For most, that means policies with the big guys: Allstate, Geico, Progressive, etc. Those who cannot obtain insurance for the big players are served by niche companies specializing in high-risk drivers, so capitalism and the free market responds in an appropriate manner. I would guess similar kinds of companies would arise in the health insurance arena.

    Mark, it is fine by me to oppose the health care reform as a government intrusion or on some other deeply held political viewpoint. It is not fine to cloud the issue with bullshit about “death panels” or the government forcing you to give up your own doctor or any of the other numerous falsehoods voiced by detractors.

    The election was about the economy, about jobs, about fears of losing a home. It was not about Obamacare no matter how often Agent Orange or Mertle the Turtle say otherwise.

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  25. Joe Kobiela said on November 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Deb @ 18 you only have to buy car insurance to cover the person you hit. You don’t have to buy it to cover yourself.
    Pilot Joe

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  26. Judybusy said on November 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I recently read a brief comment on another blog containing a complaint that the healthcare bill would limit how much doctors get paid. Evidently the woman had never heard of HMOs…I am friends with my mom’s best friend on FB, and she recently denigrated the huge deficit, blaming it on “socialist medicine.” She will be eligible for Medicare in a few years, and I don’t think she’ll be turning it down. This misinformation about the bill is disheartening.

    Prospero, thanks for the link. Very few people are aware of the tansfer of wealth and wage flattening that has occured.

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  27. mark said on November 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm


    Yes, some did go bat shit. Some still do over things like mandatory helmet laws and seatbelt laws. Those are state laws and that makes a difference to some of us that believe in federalism, and federalism is why there are a wide variety of laws, from no-fault in Michigan to low mandatory limits in Indiana. And no state requires you to buy it simply as a condition of being born in the US, whether you are 2 years old with no ability to drive or 65 with no license living happily with public transportation in Manhattan. It is a condition attached to the state-granted privilege of car ownership and or a driver’s license.

    If you start from a premise that individual rights are merely an annoying concept that slows down the process by which government makes us better, and not a positive value to be balanced against the needs of living together peacefully, safely and, yes, even compassionately, then all concern for freedom is just a bat-shit reaction.

    And Julie, you should have your children price basic policies. They are inexpensive if you are young and healthy. They will be more expensive under Obamacare (when young healthy people will pay more than is actuarially necessary to fund the cost of everyone old or sick)and your children won’t get it for free, they will be ordered to purchase it or pay a fine. If they are poor, someone else will pay for it for them, but I don’t think the government will encourage European vacations for those who claim no money to contribute to their own health care.

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  28. coozledad said on November 4, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Ah the smell of freedom! Like a Brownback or Santorum sniffing at your cervix, or self-certified opthamologist/chiropractor/hair implantation model Rand Paul boning up on his craft in the wee hours, making up for all that shit he flunked in school.
    Ladies, I am a self-certified gynecologist, and perform mammography by palpation! No mashy-mashy.

    Well, maybe a little.

    I doubt I’ll write that book anytime soon, because 1.)I’d likely have to hire an attorney, and 2.)It might involve boarding a small plane.

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  29. brian stouder said on November 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    you should have your children price basic policies. They are inexpensive if you are young and healthy. They will be more expensive under Obamacare (when young healthy people will pay more than is actuarially necessary to fund the cost of everyone old or sick)

    This is the whole problem, Mark. Cheap when you don’t need it, and increasingly more expensive until you cannot afford it when you actually need it – and forget all about it if you have the Original Sin of a pre-existing condition. And speaking of cheap, your post concluded with an unnecessary cheap shot, in my opinion.

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  30. Little Bird said on November 4, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I would like the bare minimum of some kind of health care. Currently I pay out of pocket for doctors visits because NO ONE WILL COVER ME. I have a pre-existing condition. I have had to switch medication because it got too costly. And the medication I switched to caused more harm than good. I can’t not take medication. If there isn’t some sort of socialized health care, how do you propose the thousands of people like me merely survive?

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  31. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    A friend of mine long ago offered this succinct view of the way the two parties govern:

    Democrats want to mess with you at work. (workplace safety rules, non-discrimination laws, no smoking rules, zoning, etc.)

    Republicans want to mess with you at home. (abortion, contraceptives, porn, rap music, erotic and/or violent films and TV shows, etc.)

    Obviously, this is oversimplified, but there are more than a few grains of truth is his assessment.

    BTW, how many of the “God told me to run” folks lost? Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell are in the forefront, so I guess the Big Guy let them down, but who else wrapped themselves in the cloak of the Almighty and still got defeated?

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  32. Linda said on November 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Jeff: God may have well told them to run. He needs a laugh sometimes, too.

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  33. mark said on November 4, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    We can agree on the problem, brian, without agreeing that Obama care is the necessary solution. Obamacare will be funded on the backs of young people, most of whom demographics dictate will have moderate income. It is a major, hidden departure from our generally progressive system of taxation to pay for agreed social needs and a huge step forward in government dictating the personal choices of citizens.

    You are right, my comment was too much of a cheap shot and I should have found a better way to make the point. Of course, I don’t claim that every argument in favor of the legislation is a lie or that anyone who agrees with it is either a liar or a fool. The reality is, however, that basic health insurance for a young, healthy person costs about the same as a nice week visit to Chicago, and claims that it can’t be afforded often mean can’t be afforded without sacrificing other things that are deemed more important. From my perspective, those other things may be more important and it is not my decision to make for them.

    There are many good reasons for health care reform. The plight of young healthy people, who make up the biggest percentage of the uninsured, isn’t one of them, except as it relates to the need for a sensible form of catastrophic coverage.

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  34. Little Bird said on November 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    The one company that said they would cover me wanted $1000 a month. With a $5000 deductible. Have I mentioned that I can’t keep a job due to this condition? I can’t.

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  35. Snarkworth said on November 4, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Little Bird, I’ll bet that policy with the $5000 deductible has a $10,000 lifetime cap.

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  36. mark said on November 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    little bird, an off the cuff proposal from me would be that we collectively, through government program funded with income tax dollars, absorb the expense of health care costs for any person after those costs exceed 7 or 8 percent of adjusted gross income. Obviously that plan would require a lot of tinkering, and at some point the income is too low to require even that (which is currently Medicaid) but I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask most everyone to contribute a small but significant portion of their earned income to their own health care before making a claim on society.

    I also think this could avoid some of the stigma of medicaid and some of the unnecessary generosity of medicare, assisting everyone who needs it whether due to chronic condition, catastrophic incident or long-term poverty. I don’t think the solution begins with telling people what they have to buy and punishing them if they don’t.

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  37. beb said on November 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I heard two good ideas yesterday. One I think I heard here, which was to promote Alan Grayson for chairman of the DNC. This seems like a good idea. The DNHC is about wining political races and not policies in general so a good firebreather seems to be the right man for the position. Howard Dean was also a goof chairman because he pursued a 50-states policy, recruiting candidates for every seat in Congress.

    The other good idea, which I think I read on Digby’s site, is to asked the Speaker of the House to be one simple question, will he take impeachment off the table. In 2004 Speaker Pelosi did, promising that the house would not seek to impeach Bush, even when it was clear that he had committed War Crimes. I’d like to hear to Rep. Beohner is willing to announce that in the interest of bipartisanship, the Republicans will not attempt to impeach Obama. I doubt that Boehner would make that promise but of course that’s the point. Impeachment would never get through the Senate so publicly taking it off the table costs nothing and at least makes the appearance of reasonableness. And if Boenher can’t take it off the table then we know he has no plans for bipartisanship or reasonableness.

    Sop, folks, I have no idea how to spell Boehner’s name, but you know I mean the Great Orange Satan — oops, that’s KOS. Well, you know,,,

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  38. nancy said on November 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Mark, all health-care plans — hell, all insurance, period — takes from people who don’t need it much and spends it on those who do. I know there have been many, many years that we paid in far more than we took out. Eighty percent of lifetime health care spending comes in the last year or two of life. I don’t really see the injustice here.

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  39. Sue said on November 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    mark, if you are buying insurance as part of health care reform, you ARE con­tributing a small but sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of your earned income to your own health care. I don’t believe for an instant that it will be ‘affordable’ in the way it’s being advertised, and it will hit lower income people proportionately harder as always. That’s how it’s going to shake down by the time the tweaking is done. Nobody’s getting a cheap ride.

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  40. Mark P. said on November 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    The government makes me pay for lightbulbs in some building I’ll never even see a thousand miles from me. They make me pay for a highway in Alaska that I’ll never use. They make me pay for reams of paper in an office in Hawaii. I have to pay some guy to man a security desk in an office in Texas. I have to help pay for tanks they’ll use to kill people in Iraq. I have to pay for a hell of a lot of stuff that I’ll never use. But I’ll use health care. Why not make it so everyone can get healthcare?

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  41. Hattie said on November 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    We deserve what we get. I hate to say it, but Americans are Big Dopes.

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  42. dan_g said on November 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Our 35 year old friend with the Ponzi scheme insurance (everybody puts money into paying other people’s bills, with the promise of the big payoff when you put in your big hospitalization claim) shows us the reason that we have to get everybody into the insurance pool.

    If all her friends are 35 and in good health she’s saving a helluva lot of money because claims will be minimal. However as the group ages, you’ll get more and more claims and soon enough the group cannot cover them. (Typical Ponzi scheme — the early investors [claimants] get the big returns [their bills paid]). Most of the members of the group have to be people who are not putting in claims, but are paying the bills.

    Nationally, if all the young and/or healthy people don’t buy insurance and the only people who do buy it are people who need it, there isn’t enough money in the risk pool to pay the claims.

    I can’t wait until my house burns down to buy homeowner’s insurance. I can’t wait for a car accident to buy automobile insurance. You have to buy your policy before you need it. Insurance has everybody pay into a pool and protects everybody. You pay for years and you hope you never need it, but it is there when you do.

    Of course I can decide not to buy car insurance and if I total my car I have no car and will have to deal with it. If I don’t buy fire insurance and my house burns down I have no house and I will have to deal with it.

    If I don’t have health insurance and get sick enough to be hospitalized I AM GOING TO GET MEDICAL CARE. People can neglect their health all they want and people may need preventive care and can’t afford it. But if you get sick enough you will be treated whether you can pay or not. You will be liable for the enormous bill and can lose your house and go bankrupt.

    I don’t think that is a good plan, and the rest of us will end up paying your bills in that case. Doesn’t seem fair to the rest of us.

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  43. Deborah said on November 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I got the word from the Doc that I have to wear my boot for 2 more weeks. I had another X-ray and it showed some healing but not enough consolidation, whatever that means. I would have been lucky to get it off after only 6 weeks anyway, I kind of knew that, so now it will be 8. Speaking of irritating things about health care costs: when my ankle first started to hurt I looked it up on-line and it seemed exactly like a stress fracture. But when I went to the Doc and got my first x-ray nothing showed up (which they said on-line was very typical for stress fractures, that they often don’t show up on x-rays until they’re healing). But my Doc said it was something else, he shot some cortizone into it and told me to come back in two weeks. I was limping and in pretty bad pain for those two weeks. When I went back to the Doc he said I needed an MRI. Which is when the stress fracture showed up. So basically I walked on it for a total of 3 weeks before I got the boot. The MRI cost $3,000!!! I only had to pay $200, but Lordy that’s expensive, when I knew all along what it was from research I’d done. What did they do before MRIs were invented? People probably kept walking until the fracture broke clean through. Ouch.

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  44. MichaelG said on November 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    What a clusterfuck. They’ve sent out lay off notices to 1000 people here at DGS where I work and intend to actually can 500. Furloughs? Who knows. As now (2:18 PM) I don’t know if I am working tomorrow or if I will be furloughed. Your State of California – a jack leg operation.

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  45. Deborah said on November 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I’m going to add to Little Bird’s comments (since she’s my daughter). We pay her medical bills and for her medicine. And her doctor gives her a discounted rate because she knows Little BIrd has a pre-existing condition and no healthcare coverage. This probably happens a lot as many people go into medical practice partly because they have high ethical standards. So whether people know it or not they are already paying for the healthcare of others because Docs charge more across the board to make up for this just as all business people average out risks and unexpected circumstances into their pricing. Little Bird has a right wing aunt who has complained endlessly about paying for the healthcare of others without knowing that she’s already doing it to some degree.

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  46. Little Bird said on November 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    I really should send her a thank you card for that one of these days.

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  47. Jeff Borden said on November 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm


    There are large numbers of dopes among us and their number seems to be growing. Increasingly, our stupidity is self-inflicted as we shy from the business of being good citizens, whether by voting, attending local council meetings, seeking information and news from multiple sources, engaging the ideas of others. . .just generally taking the time to pay attention and study the issues. Too many of our fellow citizens allow a TV or radio blowhard to tell them what to think, what to do, how to act.

    Being informed takes time and effort. The number of citizens who will devote that time and effort seems to be dwindling and that is bad news for everyone except the blowhards.

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  48. Hattie said on November 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Yes, pretty much.

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  49. Jolene said on November 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    In healthcare, the ignorance intersects with American individualism and the idealization of individual choice. Twice in the past two days, I’ve heard John Boehner refer to our healthcare system as “the best healthcare system in the world.” Anyone who is even slightly knowledgeable about the issue knows that is not true. What it is is the most expensive healthcare system in the world.

    I cannot understand what is fiscally conservative about paying more as a percentage of GDP for healthcare while a large segment of the population has no health insurance and the health outcomes of those who are covered are less favorable than in other rich countries. But the idea that government would establish a system that would create a market for private players, which is what the health insurance exchanges are, is somehow a constraint on individual freedom and an unwarranted intervention in the free market.

    It is an unfortunate accident of history that we have an employer-based healthcare system. I mean, seriously, if you set up to design a healthcare system, why would you depend on people in the dry-cleaning business to administer it? Or, to take a higher-end industry, the telecommunications business? If we treated healthcare like education, there would still be lots to fight over. Our schools, after all, are hardly perfect. But there would be no question as to whether people deserve healthcare.

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  50. Jolene said on November 4, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    And, as others have said, the idea that healthcare is somehow different than roads, bridges, office supplies, janitorial services, the salaries of scientists at NIH, or the military weapons that we all pay for is a crock. I have no children, so public education, playgrounds, the school lunch program, childhood immunization campaigns, the children’s section of the public library, and the shallow end of the public pool are all irrelevant to me. Except, of course, that they aren’t because the future of the country–including their ability to pay taxes for Medicare–depends on the achievements of those children. It just doesn’t work to have systems that we can opt out of until we need them. We are linked throughout our lives whether we want to be or not.

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  51. nancy said on November 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Jolene, this election season I’ve seen at least two libertarians — fringey ones, granted, but not total loons — propose that all public services, including public education, should be pay-as-you-go, only for people who “use” it. So if you have no children, or they’re past school age, you don’t pay for your local schools. The fact these folks are willing to say this shit out in the open is appalling enough, but that they’re not immediately shouted down by other conservatives is appalling times two.

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  52. Jolene said on November 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I wonder how much each of us should pay for our “use” of the Marine Corps, the CDC, and Grand Canyon National Park. It’s just nuts that these ideas are given credibility. Sometime back, Mark Shields, the PBS commentator, said that there was no bigger insult to the intelligence of voters than politicians who say that they want to reduce taxes because it’s better for citizens to decide what to do with their money than the government. Certainly that’s true for many things, but there are some things that simply must be public goods, and our experience with employer-based healthcare is not that great.

    People chafe at regulation, but they forget that regulation is usually the result of abuse. We have mine safety laws because we had dead miners. We have food safety laws because of the threat to public health from contaminated food, and environmental laws to prevent pollution, and on and on. It’s the 21st century. There are more than 300 million of us, and we are all highly dependent on the actions of individuals we don’t know and who don’t care about us as individuals. We can’t depend on strangers to do their work in a way that’s in our interest without governmental frameworks to guide their activity.

    By the way, I noticed today that Mitch McConnell has invented some new poisonous terminology to go along w/ “death panels” and “government takeover of healthcare.” In a speech at the Heritage Society today, he referred to the PPACA (for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) as the “healthcare spending bill.” There is no end to their wickedness.

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  53. coozledad said on November 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    We are linked throughout our lives whether we want to be or not.
    Having tried to sever these links repeatedly, even going to the trouble of trying to relocate into a different century, I can second this as a fundamental, painful truth. And it’s why your neighbors, if they are unthinking, or unfeeling, can make your one little life a nightmare.
    Thank you, Jolene.

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  54. Rana said on November 4, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Jolene, yes. And I find it telling that the things that are apparently “opt-in” and “pay as you go” are always public goods like schools, libraries, roads, and fire departments. While things like paying for over-salaried assholes to take away my civil rights, or to maintain a war in a country that never attacked us, are taken as the immutable costs of being an American. If I’m to be put in control of my tax dollars (in a more direct way than by electing representatives to manage them), I want the right to not only pay for schools and safe food, but to refuse to pay for the military, subsidies of big oil, the salaries of Libertarian politicians, abusive sheriffs, homophobic governors, industrial solar and coal mines, and on and on.

    It’s all such bullshit, much in the same way that they claim that cutting back on something like the NEH – which accounts for maybe 1% of the national budget – will “fix the deficit” even though the sacred cows of the military and corporate subsidies must never, ever be touched.

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  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    If I get up to $250,000 a year income, I’ll talk to you about 50% total tax. But down in the $30 to $50,000 range for our household, I say that beyond 30% of gross income going to all local, state, and federal taxes is too much, and when we start pushing 40% for middle income folk, the Tax Is Too Dang High Party will have plenty more members than just the testy older folk in three-cornered hats.

    But I will never be able to wrap my mustaches around my head like that.

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  56. Jolene said on November 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Much less, actually, Rana. The NEH budget is approximately .00004% of the federal budget.

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  57. moe99 said on November 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I’ve been paying for health insurance all the years I’ve been employed–33 of them and in the early days, I didn’t use it. So I subsidized older, sicker folks’ health care as a result. That’s what insurance is: spreading the risk. And the best way to do that is to include every US citizen in the health insurance/health care pool.

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  58. Rana said on November 4, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Jolene, thanks for the correction. I knew it was small – clearly, though, I grossly overestimated!

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  59. Catherine said on November 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    MichaelG @44, that totally sucks. An agency I volunteer with lost 30% of its state contracts last month with absolutely no warning, so I know a little bit how you feel. We had one week to lay people off, and were only able to give a week’s severance. I really hope Gov Moonbeam II can get the state working better.

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  60. Mark P. said on November 4, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    The US healthcare system is the best in the world if you view it from the perspective of people who make money off of it. That includes most physicians, hospital administrators and private hospital owners, insurance company executives, and politicians who get contributions from all of those people. They are the people with the clout and they decide what kind of healthcare system we get and how we pay for it. The doctor’s office staff is not getting rich. Most of the hospital employees are not getting rich. Neither are the insurance salesmen and insurance company employees. But they have no say about the healthcare system.

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  61. DellaDash said on November 5, 2010 at 12:35 am

    A swing of the pendulum is not an unhealthy thing in this resilient democracy of ours. I’m so relieved I can unclench my stress-fractured teeth, now that the Bush ordeal is over, not too much can disturb me.

    Obama has already delivered on the yes-we-can rhetoric he somehow managed to pull out of himself; just by getting his young, gifted and black ass elected with an uber-savvy campaign. The election itself was the change, and it was a profound one. Some stains in our history that seemed indelible haven’t disappeared altogether, but have begun to fade. I continually feel the effects of that change in my everyday life.

    That our president has chosen not to malinger in the easy glory of being a figurehead; but has plunged into the excruciatingly tedious quicksand of super-power civil service – seeking solutions where there are none, only guesses – more than validates the vote I cast for him, not just with enthusiasm, but without the cynicism with which I’ve viewed politricks for many, many years.

    Maybe Obama’s policies will work. Maybe they won’t. I was raised in an ultra-conservative household where it was believed that Social Security was the harbinger of a national apocalypse…yet my parents ultimately benefited from the evil socialistic construct…and although I’m still a bit skeptical that there’ll be anything left when my time kicks in (sooner rather than later)…I hope I’ll benefit too.

    As for health care…insurance or not…we’re all flying by the seat-of-our-pants…

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  62. beb said on November 5, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Sparky Anderson, the manager of the Detroit Tigers, died last night. Following the death earlier this year of Ernie Harwell, this is the end of an era for baseball in Detroit. Both men were class acts, gentlemanly, humble and very, very good at what they did.

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  63. brian stouder said on November 5, 2010 at 8:10 am

    beb, I hadn’t heard that about Sparky.

    Detroit has a claim – but Cincinnati surely does, too!

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