Online News

Below are links to online articles – some opinion and some factual – which were (for some reason) remarkable during the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The links are generally presented in chronological order and will be annotated as time permits. Please note inactive links via the “discussion” tab at the top of this page.

Hospital Census

Census data was collected for many years prior to the sart of the H.R. 3590 debate. During debate, much of the collected data was ignored in favor of numbers produced by so-called “think tanks” which favored the position of the Obama Administration.

During Debate

Treviño, Julissa. “Senate Public Option Reconciliation Scoreboard”. The Washington Independent. November 12, 2009, 4:23 PM. Available online as of 2010-04-04. The article provides a list of 36 likely Senators who support the “Public Option”, along with the names of 19 Senators “on the fence” and 45 Senators in opposition. The article states that “The prospects for a public option — a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers — appeared dim after Senate Democrats decided they could not muster the necessary 60 votes and passed a health care reform bill without one. But recently, the public option has shown signs of life, as an increasing number of Democratic senators have pledged to support passage of a bill with a public option through budget reconciliation rules, which would require only 50 votes.”

Moomaw, Greg. “Scenes from the Super Bowl of Freedom”. Personal Website. November 13, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Contains pictures from Rep. Michele Bachmann’s “House Call” rally at the Capitol, which Bachman dubbed “the super bowl of freedom.”

Murray, Shailagh. “Reid's recipe for getting health-care deal done”. Washington Post. December 4, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. “For Reid, success means emerging from the marathon debate with a bill backed by the 60 senators needed for final passage, something he hopes will come to pass as soon as late next week. Democrats' concerns will be addressed in individual amendments, but many others will be crowded into an omnibus 'manager's amendment,' a package Reid is expected to offer at the end of the process that will include many of the perks and fixes that members of his caucus are requesting.” The article also discusses opposition to the “public option”.

Tumulty, Karen. “Economists Growing More Wary of the Senate Health Bill”. Time (blog). December 7, 2009, 5:22 pm. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Excellent report which summarizes the contents of a cautious letter sent by a group of economists to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A few weeks back, the White House was jubilant when 23 prominent economists sent a letter to President Obama endorsing key elements of the Senate health care bill. Today, nearly all of those same economists and a few others–among this group, Nobel prize winners, former presidents of the American Economic Association and former directors of the Congressional Budget Office–sent another letter.

[…]

But set against the context of the way politics are being practiced with regard to health care policy, it carries an unmistakable warning: The legislative process is grinding away some of the most important promised reforms in the health care system–and the promise that this legislation will deliver better health care to Americans at lower cost.

[…]

The letter does not directly chastise Reid, but asks that he “strengthen” the bill by undoing some of those changes. First off, it asks him to put the teeth back into a proposed independent commission to oversee Medicare spending. Under the current version of the bill, doctors, hospitals and hospices would be exempt from commission recommendations until 2019.

Even worse, in the view of many health economists, is a more recent revision by Reid that would allow the commission to act only when Medicare spending growth exceeds the rate at which overall health spending is rising. That is something that rarely happens–which means the commission would effectively be put out of business before it even begins. (The Finance Committee's original language would have required the commission to act whenever Medicare spending per capita rises faster than overall economic growth, which has been happening every year.)

[…]

The economists also expressed concern that the bill does little more than give lip service to the idea that hospitals must do better on lowering their rates of readmission and the largely avoidable infections that are estimated to kill as many as 20,000 people a year:

[…]

Finally, the economists expressed concern that the bill is rigged so that some of the most important reforms (and ones that are likely to draw the most opposition from the health care industry) will never make it beyond the “pilot project” stage. (This has been a problem with pilot projects in the past; even the ones that show promise end up going nowhere.) The economists are concerned that these pilot projects are too limited in scope, and would require congressional authorization before being rolled out nationally. They recommended that the approval process be reversed. Instead of requiring an act of Congress to okay the expansion of pilot projects once the HHS Secretary determines they have proven their value, lawmakers should instead be required to block the ones they don't like.

Young, Jeffrey. “Senate Dems betting big on CBO score”. The Hill. December 12, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Report discusses the compromises necessary to assure Senate passage of H.R. 3950.

Silver, Nate. “Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill”. Five Thirty Eight. December 15, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Opinion presents a chart and support predicting subsidies available to middle-class families under the Senate bill H.R. 3950.

Klein, Ezra. “Jane Hamsher's 10 reasons to kill the bill”. Washington Post (blog). December 21, 2009; 3:29 PM ET. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Opinion responds to Jane Hamsher's list (published in the Huffington Post) of 10 reasons to kill the Senate bill.

Whittle, Bill. “A VOICE FROM THE PAST”. Afterburner (from Pajamas Media). June 19th, 2009 2:47 pm. Available online in transcript and in video format as of 2010-04-04. Quotes a 1961 speech by Ronald Reagan, amplifies its message, and provides supporting charts, graphs, and data related to the H.R. 3950 debate.

Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.

Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We had an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.

Let’s take a look at social security itself. Again, very few of us disagree with the original premise that there should be some form of savings that would keep destitution from following unemployment by reason of death, disability or old age. And to this end, social security was adopted, but it was never intended to supplant private savings, private insurance, pension programs of unions and industries.

Now in our country under our free enterprise system we have seen medicine reach the greatest heights that it has in any country in the world. Today, the relationship between patient and doctor in this country is something to be envied any place. The privacy, the care that is given to a person, the right to chose a doctor, the right to go from one doctor to the other.

But let’s also look from the other side, at the freedom the doctor loses. A doctor would be reluctant to say this. Well, like you, I am only a patient, so I can say it in his behalf. The doctor begins to lose freedoms; it’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors aren’t equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go some place else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go.

This is a freedom that I wonder whether any of us have the right to take from any human being. All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man’s working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it is a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay and pretty soon your children won’t decide when they’re in school where they will go or what they will do for a living. They will wait for the government to tell them where they will go to work and what they will do.

What can we do about this? Well, you and I can do a great deal. We can write to our congressmen and our senators. We can say right now that we want no further encroachment on these individual liberties and freedoms. And at the moment, the key issue is, we do not want socialized medicine.

Former Representative Halleck of Indiana has said, “When the American people want something from Congress, regardless of its political complexion, if they make their wants known, Congress does what the people want.”

So write, and if your representative writes back to you and tells you that he or she too is for free enterprise, that we have these great services and so forth, that must be performed by government, don’t let them get away with it. Show that you have not been convinced. Write a letter right back and tell them that you believe ingovernment economy and fiscal responsibility; that you know governments don’t tax to get the money the need; governments will always find a need for the money they get and that you demand the continuation of our free enterprise system. You and I can do this. The only way we can do it is by writing to our congressmen even we believe that he is on our side to begin with. Write to strengthen his hand. Give him the ability to stand before his colleagues in Congress and say “I have heard from my constituents and this is what they want.”

Write those letters now; call your friends and them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country.

Rampell, Catherine. “Economists’ Letter to Obama on Health Care Reform”. New York Times (blog). November 17, 2009, 6:31 pm. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Recites a letter from a group of economists to President Obama. This letter is referenced in Tumulty's report cited above.

Morgan, Nancy. “Senator Max Baucus In A Drunken Tirade On Senate Floor”. David Horowitz's NewsReal Blog. December 26, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Provides video and comments regarding a Senate floor speech made by Senator Max Baucus in which Baucus slus his words and presents an argument – a tirade – which is difficult to follow.

Waldman, Paul. “Ten Things to Watch in the Health-Care Reform Conference”. The American Prospect (web only edition), December 29, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Article predicts the contents of the conference committee discussions regarding H.R. 3590. At the time the article was published, the Senate vote had taken place and, as a matter of public record, no conference committee was possible. No conference committee ever took place regarding H.R. 3590: the article is an example of propaganda.

Sullivan, Andrew. “If You Can't Get Ezra Klein”. The Atlantic (blog). January 3, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Offers a picture of a puppy.

Kate Steadman. “What To Expect In The First Six Months Of Health Reform”. Kaiser Health News. December 22, 2009. Available online as of 2010-04-04. Steadman was at the time a “journalist”; however, in 2010 she accepted a better-paying position at a lobby firm which had supported enactment of H.R. 3590.