Category Archives: Op-ed

Updated: Sebelius Misspoke, Either Way It’s All Gov. Health Care; Health Care: Semantics and ‘Fear’

UPDATE:

A spokesperson for the administration stated that the media misplayed Sebelius’ statement, but others are stating that she misspoke when she said the government option portion of the bill was not essential.  The backlash this statement caused across the blogosphere and twitter from Obama’s base could be felt far and wide.  Either the administration never intended to change it’s stance or the semantics of the bill, or they flip-flopped. 

Whether we call it a co-op or a public option, it’s all the same.  Let me also add, I find it strange that the administration has stated that the media misplayed all of this…

A second official, Linda Douglass, director of health reform communications for the administration, said that President Obama believed that a public option was the best way to reduce costs and promote competition among insurance companies, that he had not backed away from that belief, and that he still wanted to see a public option in the final bill.

“Nothing has changed.,” she said. “The President has always said that what is essential that health insurance reform lower costs, ensure that there are affordable options for all Americans and increase choice and competition in the health insurance market. He believes that the public option is the best way to achieve these goals.”

A third White House official, via e-mail, said that Sebelius didn’t misspeak. “The media misplayed it,” the third official said.

ORIGINAL:

The White House appears ready to drop the government option in the health care bill.  At least this is what is being reported in many of the newspapers today.  It would be nice if I felt as though I could trust my government or my president, but as we have seen thus far, even over the last couple of years, no matter what side you are on, that’s not the case.  I am  incredibly skeptical of what the government is waving around in one hand, but doing behind the scenes in the other.

If President Obama dumped the government option from the bill what would be the point?  This is something that the progressives in this country, including himself, and almost everyone in his cabinet are proponents of, at the very least.  The government option didn’t even seem to cut the cake for some, who technically see a single-payer plan for everybody in America, as evidenced through various speeches that officials have given over the last decade. 

People on the right need to be wary and not believe we have ‘reached’ some type of victory in this debate.  It doesn’t make much sense to me that they would be willing to just dump a major liberal policy, one that their base has desperately wanted for a very long time.  That’s why when you read further into what they are saying, it’s just a change of semantics, which is typical from this administration.  Remember how the health care reform bill was changed from just that, to health insurance reform?  When liberals are losing the debate on one issue they change the name to make the policy sound less intimidating and brand new. This truly is Houdini as president. 

Obama has been pressing for the government to run a health insurance organization to help cover the nation’s almost 50 million uninsured, but Republicans remain steadfast in arguing against it.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that government alternative to private health insurance is “not the essential element” of the administration’s health care overhaul. The White House would be open to co-ops, she said, a sign that Democrats want a compromise so they can declare a victory on the showdown.

“I think there will be a competitor to private insurers,” Sebelius said. “That’s really the essential part, is you don’t turn over the whole new marketplace to private insurance companies and trust them to do the right thing.”

Obama’s top spokesman refused to say a public option was a make-or-break choice for the administration.

[…]

“It’s not government-run and government-controlled,” he said. “It’s membership-run and membership-controlled. But it does provide a nonprofit competitor for the for-profit insurance companies, and that’s why it has appeal on both sides.”

As proposed by Conrad, the co-ops would receive federal startup money, but then would operate independently of the government. They would have to maintain the same financial reserves that private companies are required to keep to handle unexpectedly high claims.

The new term being launched by the administration is a Co-op, not a government run health system.

So what exactly is a co-op?  I wanted to look up the historical meaning of the term and what political system it stems from.  Without any shock and surprise it arose from the Democratic socialist party and also split off during the Marxist era in Russia.  Co-ops are socialist programs whereby there are certain types of co-ops that exist.  The technical definition of a co-op is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.

The rise of Marxism at the end of the 19th century accelerated the political split between different forms of socialism: anarchists were committed to libertarian socialism and advocated locally managed cooperatives, linked through confederations of unions, cooperatives and communities; Marxists were committed to state socialism, and the goal of political hegemony through the state, either through democratic socialism, or through what came to be know as Leninism.  Both Marxism and anarchism sprang from utopian socialism, which is based on voluntary cooperation, without the emphasis on bitter class struggle. With the collapse of state socialism in the USSR, other forms of socialism have reasserted their importance and influence.

Social cooperation or co-ops is another term to reach a type of social Utopia as a utilitarian belief for the good of all.  This particular co-op would be considered a Type A Social Co-op because it has a particular social purpose to provide health insurance for individuals, working in cooperation with the government, insurance companies, and the people. 

The Cato Institute also provided more information on what a co-op is, and in this case, what our government intends to do in a brief write-up that it made today:

It is suggested that the “co-ops” would be nonprofits, and therefore would offer better service and lower costs. But many insurance companies, including “mutual” insurers and many “Blues,” are already nonprofit companies. Furthermore, states already have the power to charter co-ops, including health insurance co-ops. In fact, health care co-ops already exist. Health Partners, Inc. in Minneapolis has 660,000 members and provides health care, health insurance, and HMO coverage. The Group Health Cooperative in Seattle provides health coverage for 10 percent of Washington State residents.

If the new co-ops operate under the same rules as other nonprofit insurers, why bother?

And there’s the rub. Supporters of government-run health care have no intention of letting the co-ops be independent enterprises. In fact, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) makes it clear, for example, that the co-op’s officers and directors would be appointed by the president and Congress. He insists that there be a single national co-op. And Congress would set the rules under which it operates.  As Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) says, “It’s got to be written in a way that accomplishes the objectives of a public option.”

If a “co-op” is run by the federal government under rules imposed by the federal government with funding provided by the federal government, that is government-run health insurance by another name.

Historically speaking, the term co-op originated in England so I was therefore, curious, since England is in fact a democratic socialist country, what exactly would be an example of a co-op?  Well, low and behold, the NHS, or their government-run health system, is in fact utilizing co-op values within NHS

I don’t have much faith in NHS although there was a massive twitter campaign called #weloveNHS to interject on behalf of the US political debate.  The campaign itself was started by the man who created the character, Father Ted.  This campaign  consisted of a lot of spam, repeating the same exact mantra – I was surprised any real individuals for NHS actually existed, but found about 5 who did.  It’s hard to believe that their opinions aren’t biased when many work for NHS since they have now become one of, if not the, largest employer of the UK.  I find it amusing that recent economic reports, including this one from the National Center for Policy Analysis has stated that NHS is putting the patient last or the recent statistics that show nearly 46% of women diagnosed with breast cancer die in the UK as opposed to only a 25% death rate in the US.  Mammograms are required and insurance companies here cover them 1/year, where the government in the UK, who holds the purse strings, only allow mammograms 1/2 years.

It is incredibly disingenuous for a President in an op-ed of the NYT, no less, to write that people are using fear to politicize and change the debate on health reform.  There is plenty of fear when the government involves itself in the lives of individuals.  Nowhere in our constitution is health care a right, in 1776 and not until the 20th century, was health care an option. It has only been through the capitalist structure of our society that pharmaceuticals and operating procedures have thrived and been on the cutting edge.  Incentivized systems, such as our own, have driven innovation for years, it would be a disaster if all of that was taken away to pay for the supposed 46M who do not currently have health care.  Those 46M by the way, have never been explained to the American public.  The number of illegal aliens included in that number are nearly half, there are those who can also afford health care but elect to pay for it out of pocket because they can, children are also included in that number, and no, they do not have their own health care because their parents cover them, and we also have those who qualify for federal programs but refuse to use them.

I tend to find fear emanating from both sides of the debate, but given my skepticism of government and the convoluted legalese within the bill, I err on the side of caution.  The fear-mongering of the left is making it appear that a crisis will ensue if we do not pass this bill NOW.  If  85% of people like their insurance and over 50% do not want government interference what does this tell us?

Obama warned of us “not acting;” well some may beg to differ on that sentiment and actually feel that doing nothing would be better than rushing a bill that most representatives haven’t even read all the way through.  Mr. Obama also chose to use his op-ed pulpit to bash those evil insurance companies again.  I am finding it funny, yet at the same time very frustrating, hearing the same insurance company demonization, but no mention of trial lawyers, tort reform, or the fact that Obama just made a back-door deal with those very same insurance entities. 

Obama has also been espousing plenty of lies and other scare tactics.  The hypocrisy from the left during these current debates is laughable.  Obama continues the mantra that doctors are cutting out tonsils for money, amputating feet, and now he is using Otto Raddatz as an example.  First and foremost, let me bring up tonsils – I get tonsillitis nearly 5-7 times/year and I will be 28 years old soon, but none of the doctors I have had, either in Connecticut, Virginia, or Maryland, have let me get surgery; why? because I do not have tonsils that swell across my throat and therefore, are not life-threatening.  In fact, the greatest threat is surgery, as you get older, every surgery becomes tougher to recover from.  Obama’s big lie in all of this is his story surrounding Otto Raddatz, the man cited as having died in the midst of chemotherapy due to gall stones that were not disclosed to his insurance company, however, here is what really happened:

In President Obama’s recent speeches and in his editorial in the New York Times today, he has continued to mention the sad case of a man who lost his health coverage during life saving chemotherapy and consequently died because he did not disclose a previous condition of gall stones.  Quoting his editorial in the New York Times, “A man lost his health coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because the insurance discovered that he had gall stones, which he hadn’t known about when he applied for his policy. Because his treatment was delayed, he died.”

Unfortunately for the president, the story is not true. The man received his life saving operation and lived an additional three years. The man in question is Otto Raddatz, an Illinois businessman. He became a central focus in a hearing on June 16th entitled “Terminations of Individual Health Policies by Insurance Companies” held by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in the Energy and Commerce committee. His sister, Peggy Radditz, testified on his behalf. She testified that the insurance company Fortis dropped his coverage right before a life saving stem cell transplant because he failed to notify the company of pre-existing gallstones and an aneurysm.  Soon after, he was mentioned all over the left blogosphere as having perished because he did not receive this treatment.

For instance a blogger on Slate states“Otto Raddatz, a restaurant owner in Illinois, was rescinded in 2004 by FortisInsurance Co. after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Fortis said this was because Raddatz had failed to disclose that a CT scan four years earlier had revealed that he had an aneurysm and gall stones. Raddatz replied—and his doctor confirmed—that he had never been told about these conditions (the doctor said they were “very minor” and didn’t require treatment), but Fortis nonetheless refused a payout until the state attorney general intervened. The delay in treatment eliminated Raddatz’s chances of recovery, and he died.”

The president was quick to pick up this meme and it has become part of his healthcare reform stump speech and at his town halls. The only problem with his narrative is that Otto Raddatz received his treatment and lived another 3 years. According to the meeting transcripts found here.

[…]starting on page 4, “… Otto Raddatzwas a 59-year-old restaurant owner from Illinois who was diagnosed withan aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. He underwent intensive chemotherapy and was told that he had to have a stem cell transplant in order to survive. With coverage provided by his individual insurance policy, he was scheduled to have the procedure performed. But then his insurance company suddenly told him it was going to cancel his insurance coverage. Otto could not pay for the transplant without healthinsurance.  The stem cell transplant surgery was cancelled.  The insurance company told him that it found when he applied for his insurance, he had not told the company about a test that had shown that he might have gall stones and an aneurysm, or weakness of the blood vessel wall. In fact, Otto’s doctor had never told him about these test results. He didn’t have any symptoms, and these conditions did not have anything to do with his cancer, but the insurance company was going to rescind his policy, effectively tearing up the contract as if it never happened and it would not pay for his stem cell transplant. Otto made a desperate plea to the Illinois Attorney General’sOffice seeking help to get his insurance company to reverse its decision.  He told them, and I quote, “I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It is a matter of extreme urgency that I receive my transplant in 3 weeks. This is an urgent matter. Please help me so I can have my transplant scheduled.  Any delay could threaten my life.”

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation, confirmed that Otto’s doctor had never even told him about the test findings and sent two letters to press the insurance company to reinstate his policy. The company relented and Otto received his stem cell transplant. He was able to live 3 more years before passing away earlier this year.”

Now certainly the insurance company looks bad in this instance and should not have rescinded the policy, but the doctor looks even worse since Otto was left in the dark. But why does our President need to embellish and outright lie to try to bolster his case. His arguments should stand on their own merit.

I find the accusation of scare tactics and fear-mongering offensive.  Take for example Sarah Palin’s statement that the end-of-life counseling and p. 354 section 1177 of the bill would ensure that bureaucrats would decide the futures of the elderly and that of her disabled child, equating them to death panels, was a lie and a right-wing tactic.  But I ask, then, why did the House Financial Services Committee take that section out of the bill last week, if it wasn’t in fact true or at least vague enough to be used as such? 

Lies exist on both sides, some perpetrated on purpose and others because of confusion, misinformation, and convoluted legalese. It’s important to understand the current game in DC.  It is a game and a competition “to the victor goes the spoils”, or as Obama likes to say “I won.” It’s silly to take one person’s word over another when politics as usual are a dirty, dirty game.

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Filed under Congress, Constitution, Czars, DeathCare, Double Standards, Health Care, Hypocrisy, Obama, Obama Administration, ObamaCare, Op-ed, Progressivism, Sarah Palin, Tea Party

Why I’m a 27 Year Old Conservative

I grew up in the liberally elite state of Connecticut, inundated with yacht clubs, country clubs, and various people suffering from the chronic condition of cranial rectal disorder.  Connecticut was a cross between the cinematic masterpieces of Pretty in Pink, Mean Girls, and the Stepford wives.  I never lived on the right side of the tracks, like Molly Ringwald, was never popular, nor did I want to conform to the rest of the “wives” living in the neighborhood.  I was dead set to go against the grain, remaining true to my morals and beliefs.  Growing up in Connecticut allowed me to see the superficial hollowness that becomes so prevalent in elite society. 

To this day I’m still incredibly surprised that I made it out of that state with a wonderful education that didn’t turn me into a raging liberal, just a mild one.  I was also fortunate enough to have a couple of teachers who had a significant impact on my life.  I remember camping in the woods during a high school elective English class, studying poetry by Robert Frost, reading about Henry David Thoreau, analyzing short stories and human nature.  Our opinions were never formulated for us, rather our teacher continuously asked questions of us when describing our own personal interpretation of what we had read or experienced.  Through my experiences I became enamored by the human condition and sought to read literature that provided deeper insight into our humanness.  One flattering moment, that should have clued me in, came later in the evening my Sophomore year in High School, where my English teacher called my Mother to let her know that he had never met anybody at such a young age who was so sensitive to the outside world and who was as insightful as friends of his in their early 60’s.  As great as that moment was, there is only so much one can learn from books and listening to what others have to say, the greatest learning experience for me was real life. 

I went onto college in Virginia, originally hoping to play soccer at a DII or DIII school, but “fell for” a larger one in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley; James Madison University.  I tried out for the club soccer team, because there was too much I would miss, if I weren’t playing a team sport.  I had a competitive edge, a drive, and a determination that needed to be squelched, and soccer was my outlet.  As I studied and did well in school, I felt a deep nagging within me.  There was something different, something missing, but within my first two years at JMU I wasn’t able to put my finger on it.  

The first time I was able to vote, I was a Sophomore in college, leave it to a Utopian seeking, one-issue voter, who doesn’t know any better, to cast their ballot for Al Gore – believe me I’m still making amends for it today. 

The second half of that year I spent a semester living abroad.  I lived in Spain with a family for close to four months, unable to speak English with them, only the group of 25 that I went with.  I was always an independent young woman – I was the only one from my high school graduating class to go to my college and didn’t know anybody when I left for Europe.  I was immersed in a completely different culture, and don’t get me wrong, I had fun, probably too much fun, but I began becoming homesick more often than not.  I started to realize what it was I had taken for granted in the United States, like having a computer in my dorm room.  In Spain I had to walk a mile or so to an Internet café and pay to use an Internet connection that sometimes would not work.  I had a roommate and our beds were so close together that I could reach my hand towards her and touch her arm.  Showers could only be taken every other day and my jeans were always stiff after they came out of the wash, as if a box of starch was dumped on them.  I lived on a small narrow floor in a tiny flat with 5 other people, no TV, no phone calls, unless they were made in the street via a payphone, and we couldn’t leave lights on for long periods of time.  I took classes that were in a different language, had my wallet stolen, and stayed up all hours of the night.  I slowly became more patriotic, even if it was very subtle.   

I was a junior in college on 9/11.  I had just gotten out of the shower and was eating breakfast with my roommates getting ready to drive over to campus for our early economics class.  My hair was still wrapped in a towel when we sat on our couches watching the planes fly into the two towers and the pentagon.  We screamed as the first tower came crashing to the ground, soon followed by the second.  I tried to call my Mother to find out if anyone we knew or any family members working on Wall Street were injured, or worse yet, killed in the attack.  I also needed to find out if she was ok.  My mother worked in the Pentagon from time-to-time when on business travel to DC.  All phone lines were busy and the only people we were left with were each other.  That day was solemn, we wandered around like zombies, silent for hours, until it broke and the waters came cascading through.  I bonded with people I never had contact with, or those whom never interested me as friends.  Life had changed forever in that moment, that day, that year. 

The problem that surfaces is our apathetic nature, our requirement for immediate gratification and results.  The War on Terror dragged on and many forgot 9/11 – including myself. It’s not that I wasn’t patriotic and more so than I was previously, but that I became so consumed with me.  

I graduated from college with a 3.58 GPA, which got me to Cum Laude status.  I would be taking home a degree in International business, finance and a minor in Spanish.  I just wasn’t taking a degree in humility, character, and a minor in honesty, home with me. 

I left Virginia and headed to Baltimore for a job in the Defense Industry.  Through my encounters with real war heroes and patriots, I was able to ascertain what it means to believe and fight for the constitution and the country.  I tended to be a sponge of sorts when it came to one-on-one encounters; taking in not only my own experiences, but also others, and using them to form my opinions on life.  My opinions started to change, however, I still didn’t know all that much about politics besides what my coworkers and boyfriend would tell me.  

It was during this time in my early 20s that I faced some of the biggest struggles of my young life.  What wasn’t mentioned above was the fact that I had an Irish curse, but unfortunately had no Irish ancestry.  My life was clouded by drinking and partaking in things I was taught not to do.  I lived to excess and became a belligerent, miserable human being.  There came a point in time where my boyfriend of two years couldn’t deal with me, my family had cut me off, my job was in jeopardy, and I had several falling-outs with close friends.  I was the most self-centered, egotistical, victim that walked the face of the earth.  And I was alone in the world.  I hit rock bottom… I looked into a mirror for the first time in years and scared myself to death.  There was nothing looking back at me, just emptiness.   

Something happens to an individual when she is left alone to look inside herself.  After years of running from who I really was, and after years of blaming all my problems on everyone around me, I realized that I was the only common denominator in all them.  I spent two years reading a book that was quite large and had a bluish tint.  I spent two years being told to sit down, shut up, take the cotton out of my ears, and put it in my mouth from “old timers.”  I knew the value of tough love, and the value of taking an inventory, following principles, traditions, and realizing that most of my problems can summarily be pinned on one thing: ME.  

I, as much as I hated it, did not have control over everything.  God, a power greater than myself, was the captain of the ship I had boarded.  I had free will to roam around the vessel and make decisions upon which course I attempted to traverse, but ultimately the current was God’s.  I had finally found faith, and the above-mentioned feeling of absence was just a gaping hole inside of me that just so happened to fit God perfectly.

Through a life changing process I was able to see the significance of common sense and logic.  I had learned the definition of insanity a long time ago: “Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.”  What applies in our own personal lives, whether it’s attempting to relieve debt by creating more debt, or just repeating the same habits over again, hoping for a different outcome, all equates to insanity, and quite frankly makes no sense. In essence, I had lifted myself up by my bootstraps, been raised from the dead, and suddenly taken from the scrap heap of life to something better than I had known.  I live life by two mottos: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ The Little Prince; “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character, which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.  Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.  Amen.” ~ Bill W.

It has become harder to relate to friends my age who have never traveled outside the country, let alone their state.  It’s harder conversing or debating with those who have never lived in an inner city seeing liberal philosophy play out first hand.  It’s harder still finding common ground with those who have never known what it is like to suffer and overcome adversity, and recognize the value of life, and those intangible elements that fulfill each little moment of every day.    

There is more to life than college degrees, great grades, titles, money, power, material goods, or using empty rhetoric well when staring at a teleprompter.  I tend to believe that intellect may come from books and theories, but wisdom comes from life experience.  Wisdom far outweighs intellect on any given day.  I have come to realize in the last few years, that my personal strife and success has awakened me to things I would have been forever blinded to otherwise.

I believe that our values shape our political ideologies.  What is important to me in life shapes how I view the outside world, and those aspects of life and people that I deem most important. 

Values and traditions are imperative for a fruitful society and many of those traditions run in tandem with our morals and principals.  This is why the constitution needs to be upheld; not merely because of the blood, sweat, and tears of our founding fathers, although that should be enough, but because it’s what made this country great in the first place.  As they say, “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”  The Constitution was a lessons’ learned document much like businesses have standard operating procedures to make companies as efficient as possible.  Our founding fathers knew what they didn’t want after experiencing a soft tyranny first hand.  They knew that by making a government less centralized and more federalized that constituents could be better represented.  The founding fathers also felt that members of congress should hold real life jobs while working in the capitol so they would not lose sight of their peoples’ concerns and hardships.  Sadly, our country continues to move further and further away from the true intentions of our founding documents.  Lobbyists, special interests, “too-big-to-fail” corporations, media, political power, and elitism seep through the pores of our nation’s face, and there is no honest dermatologist in sight!

I am a skeptic of the highest order, and that is why I don’t give credence to either party.  Both are as progressive and as power hungry as the other.  I simply want regular people to wake up and realize who is supposed to be in charge, and who knows, maybe there is one honest politician on the horizon? One can hope. 

Common sense tells me that staying true to the Constitution will make this country tick, that keeping firearms is not about hunting, but about defending freedom and liberty, that using our own natural resources and nuclear power would make us energy independent much faster than alternative energy for a propagandized crisis that is non-existent in reality.  Common sense tells me that spending your way out of debt does not work, that saving, scrimping, and being fiscally responsible is what we should be doing in our own lives, so why not the government?  Common sense tells me that tax cuts and supply side economics make sense during a recession to relieve economic woes, and that trying to fix the symptoms rather than the underlying disease will make the patient sicker.  Common sense tells me that universal healthcare does not work, and there is no such thing as a free lunch, that cap and trade is just a power grab that will destroy many of our still thriving industries like coal, that big government equals big corruption, and that immigrants should come in the right and legal way, much like our ancestors.  Common sense tells me much, much more, but I could go on forever about the many issues that I see emanating from Washington, D.C.  

D.C. is making decisions for future generations and each and every American, rather than giving us that choice.  It kills me to know that so many my age cannot see what’s coming, nor do they care.  I have spent too much of my life pointing my finger blaming people for my wrongdoings and feeling entitled.  I care more about individuals and the content of character, rather than the color of one’s skin, their religion, or ethnicity.  If we were all created equal why don’t we start acting like it?  It’s time to wean ourselves off the government dope that the bureaucrats continue to push.  I would prefer to change my own diapers than have a nanny state change them for me. 

The people of the United States are the only arbiters of change.  It is up to us, as a society of regular folks to affect those around us and take up a cause that puts our country back on the right track.  It’s time to stand up and be counted, it’s time to bring common sense back to Capitol Hill, and it’s time to put country before ourselves. 

I am a 27 year-old conservative, and a federalist; I’m a believer in the constitution, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness, not the pursuit of a sub-prime loan.  I’m a believer in honesty, integrity, and character, and above all else, I’m a believer in the American people.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” ~ Helen Keller

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