Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and Cost Cutting

Some days, the President actually makes my brain hurt. I'm not talking simple headache here. I'm talking full-on, forehead clutching agony. Let me give you an example.

George W. Bush on Health Savings Accounts, January 26, 2005:

"A health savings account enables a person to be in charge of his or her own health care decisions.... Our view is, is that if you're a consumer of health care and you're in the marketplace making health care decisions, it is more likely that there be more cost control in health care..."

George W. Bush on Record Oil Company Profits, February 1, 2006:

"I think that basically the price is determined by the marketplace and that's the way it should be.... There is a marketplace in American society."

So let me see if I've got Bush's economics lesson straight. Health Savings Accounts will help control the cost of healthcare because that's the way "the marketplace" works. But record high fuel prices coupled with record high oil industry profits shouldn't get anybody down because that's the way "the marketplace" works. In other words, leaving the cost of anything -- like healthcare -- to "the marketplace" is in no way, shape, or form a guarantee that prices will actually come down.

Anybody have any Excedrin?

Tags: Healthcare, HSA, Republicans (all tags)



HSA's don't work

The real issue is totally un-addressed. You're right to have a headache.

Oil companies pay to have lobbyists like Abramoff arrange deals like having the oil and energy policy written behind closed doors in Dick Cheney's office.

Then, the bills become so cumbersome and packed with so many other articles that the average person  - someone , who, like the people who suddenly appeared during the filibuster - and rose up against these crooks - people who would otherwise act - are held down. We're talking 10,000 pages of a bill.

So the politicians, who , by the way , in such a system, always decide that its better to just advertise themselves into the next election rather than actually do anything - end up being able to say what they want. Again, the lobbyists move in, pay people off, get votes. The "party" system becomes a shade of what it once was - basically loose coalitions of people with six degrees of separation between themselves, all centering on either pay-off money for the legislation, or even better, special purpose entities that hide the payoffs.  And then the parties spend all this time and effort worrying about slogans like "A stronger America" or "We are your party" or what ever.

How does all of this tie into HSA? Well, the pricing problem in the Health industry is a microcosm of the same mechanism.

Plug in variables: the pharmas are the lobbyists, the insurance companies are the legislators, and the patients are the voters left in the cold.

There is a very true story about a doctor in San Diego who realized that his hiked malpractice insurance premiums directly correlated to record profits - and the insurance company paid him millions to keep his mouth shut so that they could tell everyone that they are just reacting to the harsh realities of the marketplace.

But , here is a transaction: so much paperwork, like so many 10,000 page bills - gets filled out that doctors can set costs for their lab work - then, once they do that, they farm out the lab work to the lowest bidder. And then pocket the difference when they bill the insurer.

American's  go in, and they get pumped up with all kinds of drugs like Vioxx and whatever. The pharmas pay big money to advertise, just like lobbyists, about these drugs. And the costs go up again when the doctors do the same thing.

Basically, once you check yourself in, the costs just go up. ER care can cost as much as 950.00 a visit just because of all the corruption - and thats if you have absolutely nothing wrong with you.

So, now , enter HSAs. Well, those things are proven that the administrative costs are a nice slice of pork.  Think about it - who will administer them? The patients? Suppose they have this savings acct - can they, then go into the system and get better costs? No. Because they don't have bargaining power.

A national healthcare system, by contrast, especially one empowered with that great, conservative philosophy of getting the best price, as a home-depot class buy - well, let me tell you. thats a different story.

Federal grants don't have much cheating. The evaluation process is strong. Administration of govt. funds is much, much better than the enron economics of the current system - who opposes it?

Well, Pharma - they want to pay millions - witness california proposition where they PAID LEGISLATORS TO WRITE LEGISLATION - for them. So they will lobby.. the insurance companies - who get to push around ... the DOCTORS and lo and behold, the American medical lobby gets to pushing the paperwork that scares doc into thinking his salary will drop.

The cold reality: there are now 45 million uninsured inthe united states as a result of premiums.

Small businesses can no longer afford coverage, in many cases. It is a Bush tax of huge proportion.

The number is higher each day. Then add to that, illegal immigrants coming across northbound from juarez with momma in tow, and the baby rotated into position and you've got a genuine crisis.

A crisis that Doctor Andrew Weil says, will only correct itself with a great crash.

My wish list.

1. FDA steps in and regulates supplements.

  1. National Healthcare - which covers +wellness+
  2. Actual, competitive pricing -
  3. Rollback that boondoggle Medicare thing, nobody fell for it - make certain the fed can bargain for lower prices.

It seems, though, that just taking a pill... if you read me carefully - isn't quite it. I wrote this after biking 10 and running a half mile.
It felt good, to get it off my chest.

But then, my V02 level didn't leave much of a chance of a headache. Just a cool mellow glow.

Go for a run!

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-02-01 06:17PM | 0 recs
Re: HSA's don't work

PS . I meant FDA regulates supplements, but sets up a special division to do it. Its not about restricting access as much as it is, guaranteeing quality.  Pop some fish liver oil caps, and its pure and good. Maybe... good for you, but since its a "vitamin" that will keep you from having a heart attack, its not regulated at all. People in that industry are getting away with flies flying into the batch, whatever.... I mean a special division. Just to clarify.

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-02-01 06:21PM | 0 recs

I have half a bottle that I'll sell you.
It's $65/pill plus shipping.
I live a long way from you.

Invoiced cost:  $742.34

Take two and call me in the morning.  

by The lurking ecologist 2006-02-01 06:29PM | 0 recs
Your Head Only Hurts Because You Think!

You are trying to do syllogisms with shibboleths.

"The market" is always right in GOPland.  

The problem may change, indeed it may be opposite in one case from the problem in another. But the solution always remains the same.  That's the way it goes with a shibboleth.

And so, if prices seem too high, the market justifies them. Because the problem is how to justify them.

But if controlling the costs is the problem, then the market will provide.  Because the problem is how to contain them.

I'm not just trying to be cute or glib here.  This fits right into what I've written about a number of times about sequential thinking (here, for example):

Sequential thinking involves conceptual relations that "are synthetic without being analytic.  They join events together but the union forged is not subject to any conceptual dissection." Because such relations are non-rational, there is nothing rational one can say or do to change them.

But they can change, based on changing appearances. These relationships "are mutable," they can either be extended, based on "share[d] recognized overlapping events" (connections provided by Limbaugh, O'Lielly, etc.) or changed, when the sequence does not play out as expected.  Because it is a pre-logical mode of thought, "the relations of sequential thought engender expectations, but do not create subjective standards of normal or necessary relations between events."  People who think this way can be quite unbothered by lack of consistency.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-01 06:58PM | 0 recs
Free market only works when it's actually free

In the world of constant blatant corporate welfare and widespread monopolistic/oligopolistic business it's hard to see how any free market actually exists outside of a very granular level.

More and more I see the GOP as standing specifically for the continued concentration of wealth among elites... I'd love to see some slogans from them to that effect: "The Rich should have all of your money, you wouldn't know what to do with it anyway"

Of course, if the democrats keep taking massive corporate contributions as well as keep forwarding independantly wealthy candidates (such as John Kerry) How am I to get behind them as a force for change?

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 05:35AM | 0 recs
There's No Such Thing As The Free Market

You're assuming the existence of something that can't possibly exist.  The free market is a theoretical model, nothing more. Markets are human creations. They require human rules in order to come into being.  Anything with rules is not free, it is constrained by the rules that govern it.

Once you recognize and acknowledge this basic fact, the next logical step is to realize that the question is, "What sort of rules should we have?"  We are hypnotized by the myth of the free market into thinking that the market's rules should serve the market.  In other words, it is not just a theoretical model, but a moral model: this is how the world should be.

But why should we believe that? Why shouldn't we craft markets in ways that encourage and support specific sorts of results?  Why shouldn't we prohibit the selling of people into slavery, for example?  That's a restriction on the free market.  What's wrong with that?

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-02 06:27AM | 0 recs
Re: There's No Such Thing As The Free Market

I agree and disagree. I agree absolutely that any market is a human creation (this is very much the point of another post of mine in this thread). I want to be sure to disabuse you of the notion that I believe in the 'free-market' as the cure for all ills of human kind. This wasn't entirely clear given the subject of my earlier post, but in the interest of brevity I omitted my thrust toward the ideas stated above in favor of my practical concerns with who represents my interests.

However I disagree that there is no such thing as a free market. It's called anarchy, total lawless trading of any goods all the time. However, this results in a brutish darwinian style society where the strong survive by preying on the weak. This of course begs the question; is this the kind of world we want to live in? What do we want?

I am not entirely sure I know the answer to that question in a general sense. It seems to me it's subtly different for every person you ask but generally bgins at maslovs hierarchy of needs: Food, shelter, health first, then opportunity.. the chance for success, but should it be equal and to what extent? These things have been debated for milennia by men smarter than I. My question for todays American is why would we forsake centuries of such discussion for BS spoonfed to us by people who say they are our betters?

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 07:03AM | 0 recs
Why Trade When You Can Just Steal???

However I disagree that there is no such thing as a free market. It's called anarchy, total lawless trading of any goods all the time.
The very fact that people are trading, not stealing, reveals a framework of rules, however minimal, even in theory.  In actual history, no such society or subsociety has ever come close to existing.  The realm of things off-limits to trading, or else highly restricted, has always been substantial.

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-02 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Why Trade When You Can Just Steal???

I disagree with this again, but only in degree. It depends on what you mean by society. There have always been lawless places in the world, the pirate enclaves of the carribean come to mind. I take your point that such a place can hardly be called a 'market', though trading does take place (dangerous trading) and are usually located on the fringe of what we might call civilized society.

Though that doesn't stop people from romanticising the idea of totally free trade.. which is the heart of what I want to get at. People still romanticize the old west and it's lawlessness for example.. which when you think about it, was only good for people in the position to take advantage of others. People tend to think of themselves in 1850 as jesse james rather than the indentured chinese railworker.

This speaks to the attitudes I have gotten from some of the lower income republicans I have spoken to. They see themselves as being rich one day, or having the potential to be rich, and so they vote for tax breaks for the wealthy and the elimination of the dealth tax, not realizing they are undercutting their own chance to be rich by propping up those who already are.

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace...

Clearly you don't understand the first thing about how the free market works. With HSA's, each person is responsible for his/her own healthcare spending, and gets to make the important decisions about his/her healthcare. And why shouldn't he/she get to make those decisions?  After all, it's his/her own money being spent.  Thus, those who have large amounts of money will choose to spend large amounts on healthcare, those who have a moderate amount will choose moderate amounts of healthcare, those who have little money will spend little on healthcare, and those who have no money will buy no healthcare at all. Given that the current trend in distribution of wealth in the USA continues, more and more people will be spending less and less on healthcare, which will result both in a significant drop in per capita healthcare spending and in a significant drop in total healthcare spending.  That is, after all, the desired objective, isn't it?

by Yuletide 2006-02-02 03:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace...

Well heck, if you're going to have HSAs, why bother? Why not just drop taxes and cut all extant health care programs? HSAs are after all a step in that direction. Deregulation is only good for the people who have money, period. A rich person wouldn't have any problem paying through the nose for medical care in the future, because it's really a pittance for anyone in the top 10% of America. It's the poor who suffer, who go into massive debt because their child got sick, and now can't declare bankruptcy unless they earn less than the MEDIAN in their state (emphasis on purpose, using median is an excellent trick to screw the lower wage earners as much as possible). Do we really want a darwinian society where it's basically just survival of the fittest and the rest end up in debtors prisons or dead? Doesn't sound very much like progress to me.

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace...

Just wanted to add that I think The fans of eugenics would probably applaud such a society.

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and

Here is a Bush quote:   ...I remember growing up in Midland -- Gatlin grew up in Odessa, by the way, right down the road -- or the Gatlins did. I was white collar, he was blue collar.....
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060201/dcw07 1.html?.v=20

How can he make up this stuff and get away with it??

by Marie Smith 2006-02-02 05:31AM | 0 recs
At least he's consistent

Poor George.  The more sense he makes the worse he sounds.  Maybe he should revert to babbling "Jesus and freedom" because that worked pretty well in 2004.

by jcjcjc 2006-02-02 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and

These people just don't ever quit.  They will keep coming up with ways to trap ordinary Americans into schemes that will continue to redistribute wealth to the wealthy.

Healthcare today, more tax breaks for investors tomarrow, it will never end until the ruling elite lose their grip -- and it's all their "grip."

Still, like Social Security, healthcare is an issue that trailer-park Republicans can get their minds around.  Dems must provide a united front on the subject of nationalizing health care.  No more bull about "single payer" plans or anything that disguises what we're talking about.  Instead try: "Health care will be free, but we're going to have to do away with all Bush's tax cuts (maybe even add a little corporate tax on windfall oil profits) to pay for it -- and you can keep your guns too."

Nah, too honest and obvious.

by Salvelinus 2006-02-02 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and

I absolutely agree with you. simple platform:

-Free health care for all who want it
-Close corporate tax loopholes and repeal Bush's tax cut to pay for it
-Americans have rights/civil liberties guaranteed by the constitutions and bill of rights, Democrats stand for those principles and oppose government intervention in the bedroom/abortion clinic/etc.

I personally feel America should have a far more progressive taxing scheme than current.. The level of income that pays 0% should be far higher and the highest bracket should pay more. I'd also like to see a large portion of the deductions and credits that pepper/complicate the tax code removed. I doubt I'll see this in my lifetime though, if ever.

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and


Righto, we need to get into some seriously progressive taxation if we're going to undo what's happened since 1980.  The other side likes to talk about the "fairness" of a so-called "flat tax," but I doubt that it would take much education for people to grab onto the concept of "fair share."

They say ideas have to be made simple enough to be used as a slogan on a bumper sticker.  I like:
"Show me the dead Canadians!"

by Salvelinus 2006-02-02 08:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and

Oh, I despise the flat tax crud that is peddled so often. But if they really want one, sure, here it is:

Progressive flat tax: 30% for all taxable earners. No deductions, no gimicks, no stopping at Go and collecting 200$

Of course, those that earn less than 150,000/yr would be considered untaxable. ;)

by TimThe Terrible 2006-02-02 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Bush on The Marketplace, Oil, Healthcare, and

Works for me!

by Salvelinus 2006-02-02 09:47AM | 0 recs


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