Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tim Walz Healthcare Town Hall

I went to the Tim Walz local healthcare town meeting Saturday. There were around 3000 folks there and it looked and sounded like about 2 to 1 against the current healthcare proposal. In some ways it was almost laughable -- ex Senator Durenberger was there, a big guy from Mayo, a guy from Blue Cross and Blue Shield and a business owner. All agreed that "the biggest problem is medicare" -- it sets the standards for forms, procedures, charges, etc. MN, WI, N&S Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming,, etc have an average cost of $6K a head for medicare and their results are the best in the nation. NY, California, TX, FL, IL, Michigan, etc cost greater than $13K per medicare recipient (adjusted for pop age, cost of living, etc), but their results are the worst in the nation.

Why? Medicare pays on "what you do", NOT on "what are your results" -- and since medicare is by far the largest single payer TODAY, the hospitals, insurance companies, etc have really no choice but to generally follow that lead -- it would increase their costs horribly if they did not. Mayo (and others in the the low cost states) buck that trend -- Mayo lost $800 million on medicare last year, but if they were to try to break even, they would have to spend LESS time with their patients and order more tests that would allow them to get more reimbursement, but would mean that elderly patients were transported, pricked and prodded more often with poorer results.

So why don't they fix it? Well, this is the funny part -- Walz essentially says "they can't" -- those high cost states are bigger and get a lot more money for the way they are doing business now, and they aren't about to admit that "MN / WI do it better" AND take a lot less money from the federal coffers. So the PRESSURE is to "do it worse" -- for Mayo and others to operate like medicare operates even though they know it is wrong. Walz is a Democrat though, so the ONLY thing he can think of to make things better is to pass is "a big new program -- NOT fix medicare, that can't be touched because folks PERCEIVE it to be what they want" -- since the Democrats hope in big government is boundless, even though everyone up there (all brought in by Walz) is in agreement that medicare is the root cause of our rising and inefficient medical costs, the only way to fix it is with ANOTHER government program, and HOPE that one somehow came out better.

Naturally, the 2 to 1 ratio kept trying to say "JUST FIX MEDICARE" !!! they know what to do, there is a big set of states doing it and getting cheaper and excellent results --- all Walz could keep doing was explaining that "CA and NY have more representatives than all the states that are doing it right combined" -- it is politically impossible to do the right thing!!! BUT, "we need to do something"!!! -- and the votes might be there for another Trillion dollar program, so we do a huge new program and HOPE that SOMEHOW whatever political greed, kickbacks and screw ups it was that made medicare into the gold plated albatross that it has turned out to be, "this is different".

I guess just keep repeating "Yes We Can" over and over and click your ruby red slippers together and maybe somehow it will all work out!!!

The highlight of the day was a Russiian immigrant that was lucky enough to get to speak and in broken english said "I grew up in the USSR, I've SEEN what government healthcare is, you people would be CRAZY to go that way! I came to America because I believed it is different, I can't believe that this discussion is even going on here in America!!" He got a standing ovation from the 2/3 of the people opposed to BOcare. The other 1/3 looked mighty unhappy that we allowed legal immigration from the old USSR.

Some closing thoughts:

  • Walz talked about "roads and schools" and made the comment "try driving home without roads". Certainly a specious argument in any case ("did you buy your clothes at a government store?" ... it ISN'T "all or nothing"). The idea that there isn't a difference between "federal and local" is especially stupid given the big chart he showed multiple times of the difference between MN and places like NY. Locality matters!!! ... that is a good reason to NOT have FEDERAL healthcare!!
  • The idea of "we HAVE to do SOMETHING ... so, it may as well be THIS" ... when "this" is nearly totally undefined borders on insanity. "First do no harm" is an INCREDIBLY good piece of advice. It was WAY easier to screw things up than to make them better -- and the fact that Medicare has screwed things up was very apparent.
  • Walz had the big show of hands on Social Security and Medicare -- how many are on it, how many want to give it up. Gee, people like "free stuff" -- BUT, when people get exposed to how much it is COSTING, how many TENS OF TRILLIONS we are in the hole with those programs with NO IDEAS on how to get us out, it is different. The fact that the masses like the stuff that they are given is EXACTLY what killed Democracy prior to the US, and exactly why we are killing ours!