A Nonpartisan Guide to Healthcare Reform

A Nonpartisan Guide to Healthcare Reform

Healthcare has become the hot button issue of the day. Both sides of the political spectrum are crying out to be heard. The left is pointing to the 46.7 million Americans that are uninsured and the millions more who are underinsured and the right is expressing fears that the bill still has serious problems, provisions that would allow the government to mandate care, and no clear plan on how it will be paid for.

We believe in the importance of clear, public debate, especially around an issue that so obviously effects the entire population. As it stands, much of the discussion surrounding these issues has been mired in political grandstanding, stunts, simplifications and pandering to all of our basest hopes, fears and misgivings.

If we still believe in a system where people make choices based on understanding both sides of an issue, and policy decisions based on facts, we need to take some time to understand this situation and only then make up our minds about it.

This guide will provide you with some information about Healthcare, HR 3200, public sentiment around the bill and some thoughts on piecing it all together.

Basic Facts About Healthcare in America

No matter what happens with Healthcare Reform, as the Baby Boomers grow older we will be spending more and more to continue to provide them with adequate Healthcare. As it stands, Medicare is not sustainable without serious restructuring.

As it stands, in the next three years Medicare and Medicaid will make up 50% of all national health spending, still 62% of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were due to medical expenses that were not adequately covered. Small businesses are suffering as well, they will be paying out over $2.4 trillion in expenses health care expenses for their employees over the next ten years.

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  • National health spending is expected to reach $2.5 trillion in 2009, accounting for 17.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). By 2018, national health care expenditures are expected to reach $4.4 trillion—more than double 2007 spending.
  • In just three years, the Medicare and Medicaid programs will account for 50 percent of all national health spending.
  • Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is expected to pay out more in hospital benefits and other expenditures this year than it receives in taxes and other dedicated revenues. In addition, the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund that pays for physician services and the prescription drug benefit will continue to require general revenue financing and charges on beneficiaries that will grow substantially faster than the economy and beneficiary incomes over time.
  • National surveys show that the primary reason people are uninsured is due to the escalating cost of health care.
  • 62% of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were related to health care expenses. Most (80%) of those who filed had some form of insurance.
  • 1.5 million families are forced into foreclosure every year due to the burdens of medical costs that are not adequately covered.
  • Without health care reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in health care costs for their workers, 178,000 small business jobs will be lost by 2018 as a result of health care costs, $834 billion in small business wages will be lost due to high health care costs over the next ten years, small businesses will lose $52.1 billion in profits to high health care costs and 1.6 million small business workers will suffer “job lock“— roughly one in 16 people currently insured by their employers.

[source]

Despite the fact that it is extraordinarily clear the Healthcare needs reform it’s economically unsustainable, let’s not forget that there are many areas that we have been quite successful at maintaining high standards of care.

For common forms of Cancer, for instance, we have much higher survival rates than in European countries and Canada. We typically have “shorter lines” to see a specialist, we have greater access to high end medical equipment than many other countries in the developed world and a large portion of the innovations in Health care come out of the United States.

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  • Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the U.K. and 457 percent higher in Norway.
  • 56 percent of Americans who could benefit are taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them.
  • All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada. In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.
  • The United States has 34 CT scanners per million Americans, compared to 12 in Canada and eight in Britain. The United States has nearly 27 MRI machines per million compared to about 6 per million in Canada and Britain.
  • Since the mid-1970s, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to American residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined. In only five of the past 34 years did a scientist living in America not win or share in the prize. Most important recent medical innovations were developed in the United States.

[source]

To get a clearer view on how Health Care functions in the United States, Wikipedia offers a clear (albeit not concise) perspective.

HR 3200: Fact and Fiction

Now that we have a slightly better understanding about Health Care itself, let’s look at the reform bill that has found its way into the news most often: HR 3200. Just what does this bill try to accomplish. Well, that depends on who you ask of course but if you are really interested I would suggest brewing yourself a cup of coffee and sitting down with the document.

What you should not do, however, is rely on sources like this one that have been floating around. Your political leanings notwithstanding, it should seem a little fishy to you how convenient a document like this is. Not only does it add a huge amount of fuel to the anti-reform fire but it does so without providing clear citations from the document that it “analyzed.” If you read the comments section on the post we linked to you’ll understand what we’re pointing out.

Since we don’t have the space or the hundreds of hours it would take to properly analyze every line of this document, instead we’ll touch on some key points.

Is this plan paid for?

Probably not. The party line is that the program will be paid for by removing inefficiencies from the current system. Much of the conversation has been, at best, theoretical. It is still unclear whether the bill can be paid for without significantly increasing the deficit. Though keep in mind that the increase would be a small fraction of the economic impact Health Care will have without reform.

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President Obama has repeatedly said that a health care overhaul “will be paid for” and that he won’t sign a bill that isn’t deficit-neutral. But neither the House bill nor the Senate HELP Committee bill meets that criteria. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, the House bill as introduced would add a net $239 billion over 10 years to the deficit, while the HELP Committee bill racks up more, $597 billion over 10 years.

[source]

Will Private Insurance Be Outlawed?

No. This is an instance of selective quoting by Investor Business Daily. The bill will in no way outlaw private insurance. If you have insurance and you like it and your insurance provider continues to offer it you will be allowed to keep it.

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  • The proposed health care model would indeed encourage individuals not already covered by employer-provided health policies to buy coverage through the nationwide insurance exchange. The choices would include a range of private plans meeting the new standards, as well as a new federal plan, as the House bill is currently written. People with individually purchased insurance who wish (or need) to change their grandfathered plans will have to purchase insurance through the exchange. If an individual would rather keep his plan, he can do so for as long as the insurance company keeps offering it. At any rate, nobody will be forced into the federal health insurance option – they’ll have their pick of private ones.

[source]

Will Families Save $2500 Because of This Bill?

Probably not. Obama promises mostly involve cutting the rate of growth of spending. As we saw in the statistics earlier, that is necessary in order for Health Care to remain solvent at all. If the growth of Health Care costs isn’t cut, the economy will not be able to sustain it in the long run. Achieving these kinds of savings would require a fundamental and politically unpopular shift in the way the Health Care is run in this country. The likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

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  • As for saving $2,500 for families, as opposed to saving money for the government, the CBO’s letter, signed by Director Douglas W. Elmendorf, said:

    CBO: [E]xperts generally agree that changes in government policy have the potential to significantly reduce health care spending—for the nation as a whole and for the federal government in particular—without harming people’s health. However, achieving large reductions in projected spending would require fundamental changes in the financing and delivery of health care.

    As an example of the “fundamental” changes that might do the trick: CBO suggested moving away from the current system of paying doctors and hospitals for performing medical procedures and paying them instead a fixed fee per patient or some other payment based on “value.” Another CBO suggestion: “higher cost-sharing requirements.” So far we don’t see those ideas in the bills being considered.

[source]

Do Democrats Want To Cut $500 Billion From Medicare?

No. From a 30,000 view that would be political suicide even if Medicare were running itself into the ground (which it is). Politicans don’t often commit Hari-Kari. More to the point, the bill proposes a series of savings and cuts but none of them are going to come from current or future medicare benefits. According to the AARP, “None of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.”

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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the House bill would result in “savings” of $219 billion after all increases and decreases are netted out. The House bill would trim projected increases in payments for hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and others, including home health care providers and suppliers of motor-driven wheelchairs. But it also proposes what CBO estimates is a $245 billion increase in spending for doctors, by canceling a scheduled 21 percent cut in physician payments. None of the “savings” or “cuts” (whichever you prefer) come from reducing current or future benefit levels for seniors.

[source]

Will Health Care Reform Cover Illegal Immigrants?

No. This one comes straight from the bill itself,

H.R. 3200: Sec 246 — NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS

Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

Certainly an argument can be made for what “lawfully present” means, but an argument can be made for just about anything if you choose to split hairs. This does not deny the fact that the bill states that undocumented aliens would not receive federal funds.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel Wants To Sacrifice the Weak For the Strong

One of the biggest tangential arguments is that health adviser to President Obama, Dr. Ezekiel Emanual thinks that, “the elderly with dementia and the young who have neurological disorders should be sacrificed for the common good.”

This is another case of selective quoting by Betsy McCaughey (who also believes strongly in Death Panels). The truth is that Dr. Emanual wrote a paper 15 years ago discussing a philosophical and academic trend in how people think about organ transplants in a world where there is a limited supply. It had nothing to do with prescribing policy. Dr. Emanual has also gone on record as stating he in no way endorses anything remotely close to selective euthanasia.

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McCaughey cites an article Emanuel wrote nearly 15 years ago in the Hastings Center Report, a journal devoted to discussion of ethical issues in medicine. There Emanuel discusses possible philosophical justifications to “distinguish basic from discretionary health care services.” Emanuel argued that thinkers on both the left and right were beginning to converge on a single answer when it comes to allocating medical resources. Here’s the quote in full context:

Emanuel, Hastings Center Report, 1996: Communitarians endorse civic republicanism and a growing number of liberals endorse some version of deliberative democracy. … This civic republican or deliberative democratic conception of the good provides both procedural and substantive insights for developing a just allocation of health care resources. … Substantively, it suggests services that promote the continuation of the polity – those that ensure healthy future generations, ensure development of practical reasoning skills, and ensure full and active participation by citizens in public deliberations – are to be socially guaranteed as basic. Conversely, services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia. A less obvious example is guaranteeing neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason.

Emanuel conceded that the article is “pretty abstract” and may be difficult to follow for those who are not academics, but he said that one should not then “take two sentences out of context.”

“This is clearly not written in my own voice,” he said. “I am not advocating this.”

[sources]

Death Panels

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Betsy McCaughey Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Healthcare Protests

We honestly had a hard time with this one because there is so much proof that Death Panels simply will not exist, and there doesn’t even seem to be a reason (based on fact and not politics) why this has spent so much time in the public consciousness.

This entire mess was started by Sarah Palin who coined the term on her Facebook page. She was afraid that government Health Care reform would mean rationed care for the elderly and her disabled child. She didn’t want the government deciding who was fit to live or die. All legitimate concerns based on her misinterpretation of the bill. This sentiment was wrapped in the term “death panels” and it took off from there,

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  • Sarah Palin: The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care.

Enter Betsy McCaughey, former Lt. Governor of New York and until recently member of the board of directors of the Cantel Medical Corporation. She claimed that the bill contained provisions for euthanasia of the elderly. In any reading of the sections cited (Section 1233 of H.R. 3200), what you will find is that it compensates people if they choose to have end-of-life counseling. If they then decide its a great idea to be maintained on life support for the next 100 years, they would still receive identical compensation.

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  • Obama, Aug. 11: The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for “death panels” that will basically pull the plug on grandma … this arose out of a provision in one of the House bills that allowed Medicare to reimburse people for consultations about end-of-life care, setting up living wills, the availability of hospice, et cetera. So the intention of the members of Congress was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. It wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything. This is I guess where the rumor came from.

[source]

The bill will neither requires nor endorse end-of-life counseling, all it does is modify Section 1861(s)2 of the Social Security Act to cover it. That is to say, nothing changes except that you can get reimbursed if you decide to go for counseling.

Public Reaction

The public reaction to Health Care reform has been a mixed bag. Here are a few videos to give you some differing opinions on how we are reacting to reform.

Con: San Fransisco Protest of “Obamacare”

Pro: Does Obama Want To Kill Sarah Palin’s Baby?

Con: Is This the Right Kind of Change?

Pro: Guns At Townhall Meetings

Con: Obama On Health Care and Death Panels

Pro: A Touch of Satire

Summary

We’ve gone through a lot in this piece, so here is a brief summary of some of what we’ve learned.

  • Healthcare with or without reform is becoming too expensive for the economy to mange.
  • 46.7 million Americans are uninsured.
  • Our Healthcare system has advantages of speed of care that come from it not being government run.
  • There has not been an adequate discussion on how HR 3200 will be paid for.
  • HR 3200 will not take away your right to private insurance coverage.
  • No one is trying to cut or reduce the benefits of Medicare.
  • Families will not be getting checks for $2500 because of HR 3200.
  • Illegal Immigrants will not be covered by this plan.
  • Death Panels do not exist, never have existed and are in fact quite ludicrous.

Whether or not you will support or rebuke HR 3200 has a lot to do with your political leanings. That’s OK, to deny the fact that opinion is colored by politics would be a gross simplification for the human condition. What we wanted to present you with is information to help make your decision in a more informed, rational manner.

Understand that the job of media is as much to polarize as it is to inform. The reason that you typically agree with your news station of choice is because they “know you” and craft the news to fit neatly into your biases. The next time you hear something that seems a little off-the-wall, that doesn’t make sense, look into it. Trust that everyone has an agenda and that until you fully understand that agenda you can’t hope to make the sort of decisions that we pride ourselves on as a society.

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  • mike

    Thanks for giving it a good shot! Complex issue, highly charged. We need more rational discussion.

  • sbspalding

    Thanks mate. I am pretty convinced there is no perfect way a post like this could be put together, especially not without skewing it wildly. All I really hoped to do was touch on most of the points and provide some kind of context.

  • mike

    Thanks for giving it a good shot! Complex issue, highly charged. We need more rational discussion.

  • sbspalding

    Thanks mate. I am pretty convinced there is no perfect way a post like this could be put together, especially not without skewing it wildly. All I really hoped to do was touch on most of the points and provide some kind of context.

  • http://www.floridaventureblog.com/ danrua

    Much of the debate about this or other politically-charged issues have roots in near-term vs. long-term thinking/pandering. The party that highlights near-term candy over larger long-term poison often wins the debate because the average voter doesn't “do the math” for net long-term consequences. This is just a specific example of the risks of society's growing “sound bite” debate trend.

    Even this post focuses largely on near-term risks instead of combining near-term and long-term risks. For example, your conclusions about private insurance and rationing focus on whether this single legislative step accomplishes the risks being highlighted by those opposing government healthcare. However, the President has specifically stated his goal of single payer:
    “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program…. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.” via http://www.breitbart.tv/obama-in-03-id-like-to-

    On the topic of near-term vs. long-term, note the President's use of “we may not get there immediately.” That puts today's legislation in its appropriate context, as a step towards an ultimate goal.

    Even without knowing the President's stated long-term goal, economics can help predict the long-term consequences of a “public option” that has the ability to sustain losses, supported by higher taxation or future generation deficits. A government competitor that isn't subject to profit/loss/market forces ultimately puts private insurers out of business, resulting in higher taxes and/or fewer choices for all. If that government competitor succeeds in putting all others out of business (via economics or politics), healthcare rationing of the sort Rahm Emmanuel's brother outlines is a very real risk.

    Therefore, your summation that private insurers will not be driven of out business and government-driven rationing will not occur lacks a time frame for full analysis. Although today's language may not achieve those outcomes immediately, they are very real long-term risks of today's legislation for government healthcare.

  • sbspalding

    What you describe in reference to the “public option” is a systemic problem with any government facilitated healthcare system including Medicare parts A-”D”. Namely, it becomes a question of who is paying for any of this.

    The answer is unquestionably “future generations.” Which is a convenient scapegoat that both parties rely on to keep near-term thinkers at bay. If you look at the most recent conflict in Iraq you will see a serious long-term economic boondoggle that was justified as a necessary expense for a variety of political reasons that aren't worth going over again here.

    My argument “about” Health Care Reform as a principle is that it is necessary. Without any reform, Health Care costs will -still- require most (if not all) of the GDP to sustain in the next 15-20 years (by some estimates). Everyone paying attention knows that this is not a system that can continue. It would be political suicide for either side to admit that.

    Where I think this particular plan offers a step in a positive direction is that it seeks to identify inefficiency in the current system and resolve it. I wouldn't put money on that working out as the cheerleaders would say it would, but it is a proactive government step towards change. The odds of the entire thing changing 500 times before it actually becomes law are so high I'd leave it at that for now.

    My conclusion to all of this is that we are on a train heading towards a brick wall. Half of the country wants to stay on the train, the other half wants to switch to a track that will potentially head towards yet another brick wall. Most people neither know they are on a train nor see the wall that they are running into. Those who see both aren't talking about it because it would put the fear of god into the constituency.

    This entire exercise is designed to put information out there and allow others to make decisions based on it. I tried to pick -reasonable- elements to describe both sides opinions on the matter.

  • http://www.floridaventureblog.com/ danrua

    Much of the debate about this or other politically-charged issues have roots in near-term vs. long-term thinking/pandering. The party that highlights near-term candy over larger long-term poison often wins the debate because the average voter doesn't “do the math” for net long-term consequences. This is just a specific example of the risks of society's growing “sound bite” debate trend.

    Even this post focuses largely on near-term risks instead of combining near-term and long-term risks. For example, your conclusions about private insurance and rationing focus on whether this single legislative step accomplishes the risks being highlighted by those opposing government healthcare. However, the President has specifically stated his goal of single payer:
    “I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program…. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.” via http://www.breitbart.tv/obama-in-03-id-like-to-

    On the topic of near-term vs. long-term, note the President's use of “we may not get there immediately.” That puts today's legislation in its appropriate context, as a step towards an ultimate goal.

    Even without knowing the President's stated long-term goal, economics can help predict the long-term consequences of a “public option” that has the ability to sustain losses, supported by higher taxation or future generation deficits. A government competitor that isn't subject to profit/loss/market forces ultimately puts private insurers out of business, resulting in higher taxes and/or fewer choices for all. If that government competitor succeeds in putting all others out of business (via economics or politics), healthcare rationing of the sort Rahm Emmanuel's brother outlines is a very real risk.

    Therefore, your summation that private insurers will not be driven of out business and government-driven rationing will not occur lacks a time frame for full analysis. Although today's language may not achieve those outcomes immediately, they are very real long-term risks of today's legislation for government healthcare.

  • sbspalding

    What you describe in reference to the “public option” is a systemic problem with any government facilitated healthcare system including Medicare parts A-”D”. Namely, it becomes a question of who is paying for any of this.

    The answer is unquestionably “future generations.” Which is a convenient scapegoat that both parties rely on to keep near-term thinkers at bay. If you look at the most recent conflict in Iraq you will see a serious long-term economic boondoggle that was justified as a necessary expense for a variety of political reasons that aren't worth going over again here.

    My argument “about” Health Care Reform as a principle is that it is necessary. Without any reform, Health Care costs will -still- require most (if not all) of the GDP to sustain in the next 15-20 years (by some estimates). Everyone paying attention knows that this is not a system that can continue. It would be political suicide for either side to admit that.

    Where I think this particular plan offers a step in a positive direction is that it seeks to identify inefficiency in the current system and resolve it. I wouldn't put money on that working out as the cheerleaders would say it would, but it is a proactive government step towards change. The odds of the entire thing changing 500 times before it actually becomes law are so high I'd leave it at that for now.

    My conclusion to all of this is that we are on a train heading towards a brick wall. Half of the country wants to stay on the train, the other half wants to switch to a track that will potentially head towards yet another brick wall. Most people neither know they are on a train nor see the wall that they are running into. Those who see both aren't talking about it because it would put the fear of god into the constituency.

    This entire exercise is designed to put information out there and allow others to make decisions based on it. I tried to pick -reasonable- elements to describe both sides opinions on the matter.

  • stephenKaaaa

    Sorry, this is just more partisan postings under the guise of “nonpartisanship”. Just look at the youtube videos you chose. They unnecessarily denigrate people by trying to cast individuals opposed to some of the healthcare reforms being proposed as being hicks/rednecks. This is just more hate-mongering.

  • sbspalding

    I'm sorry you interpreted it like that but I think you might be misunderstanding the point of that section of the guide, and that's my fault for not explaining it well enough.

    Nonpartisan does not mean devoid of emotional content. Both sides of this debate have strong opinions that are colored in large part by politics.

    Video 1 shows a group of people fighting for what they believe to be unnecessary or poorly structured reform. Some of the statements they make might be considered -highly- inflammatory if you happened to be on the other side. Video 6 shows a very similar thing except the makers of the video are on the other side and are using satire to make their point.

    Videos 2 and 3 show what I consider very reasoned arguments from both sides of the debate.

    Videos 4 and 5 (the videos on bringing guns to town hall meetings and Obama's take on the reform respectively) are highly interpretative. Video 4 is seen through the lens of someone who is pro reform talking to someone who is against it. Video 5 is seen through the lens of someone who is against reform commenting on someone who is (obviously) for it.

    The point here is that section was designed to give a cross-section of public opinion in this debate after presenting the facts. Public opinion has been, for the most part, highly partisan. If you look at some of the videos out there you'll see that the ones I picked are no where near as one-sided as the vast majority of the material available. Not only that but they explore both sides of the issue.

    Again, I don't know where you stand on healthcare reform and I'm not about to guess but I'd say look at the entire “guide” again as compared to the public debate on the issue. What I hope you see is that it is as close to a measured response as you can really hope to write about an issue this partisan.

    If you have any videos, links or other materials that you think would “balance” it I'd love to see them.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Cheers,

  • stephenKaaaa

    I sincerely appreciate what you are trying to do. It is not easy for
    a whole host of reasons not the least of which because it is
    incredibly complicated. I am looking for sites that put forth
    articulate viewpoints – even if they are not what I agree with – so
    that I may at least understand others' perspective is and their
    reasoning.

    My primary issues with your site

    - This discourse is already far too emotional. You can't possibly
    make it devoid of emotion. By taking a satirical approach –
    especially a mean-spirited one – only throws gasoline on a fire.
    - I think there is pretty universal acknowledgement that healthcare in
    America needs to be reformed, the issue is the type of reforms. An
    enumeration on the points of (general) agreement and disagreement
    would be helpful. Especially if the areas of disagreement were (non-
    emotionally) articulated taking into account the general
    perspectives. This is NOT an easy task, but would likely be the most
    beneficial (which is why I was hoping that someone had already done it).

    Some sites that are helpful? A couple of suggestions: http://www.cato.org
    (a libertarian perspective with a long history of having strong points
    of agreement and disagreement on major political issues and
    politicians from both sides of the aisle) and factcheck.org.

    Cheers

  • sbspalding

    I think you're right and upon reflection I can see how video six might do more harm than good if only because it serves as a distraction.

    I am a big fan of factcheck and I cited them in several parts of this guide, I feel they go a great job of cutting through the cruft.

    I also like Cato's approach to discussing politics even if I don't entirely agree with them on some issues. Typically, they try to raise the level of discourse which is something I appreciate.

    If nothing else, I'm glad we were able to discuss this reasonably. I admit that this isn't a perfect guide, there is too much information for a single person to parse even given the amount of time I spent working through it. The issue is complicated further by all the misinformation that is floating around.

    That being said, I hope more people like you will read this guide and point things like that out. It only serves to help people see that you can discuss a hot button issue like this without all the name calling and general insanity that I've seen in recent policy debates.

    Thanks again!

  • stephenKaaaa

    Sorry, this is just more partisan postings under the guise of “nonpartisanship”. Just look at the youtube videos you chose. They unnecessarily denigrate people by trying to cast individuals opposed to some of the healthcare reforms being proposed as being hicks/rednecks. This is just more hate-mongering.

  • sbspalding

    I'm sorry you interpreted it like that but I think you might be misunderstanding the point of that section of the guide, and that's my fault for not explaining it well enough.

    Nonpartisan does not mean devoid of emotional content. Both sides of this debate have strong opinions that are colored in large part by politics.

    Video 1 shows a group of people fighting for what they believe to be unnecessary or poorly structured reform. Some of the statements they make might be considered -highly- inflammatory if you happened to be on the other side. Video 6 shows a very similar thing except the makers of the video are on the other side and are using satire to make their point.

    Videos 2 and 3 show what I consider very reasoned arguments from both sides of the debate.

    Videos 4 and 5 (the videos on bringing guns to town hall meetings and Obama's take on the reform respectively) are highly interpretative. Video 4 is seen through the lens of someone who is pro reform talking to someone who is against it. Video 5 is seen through the lens of someone who is against reform commenting on someone who is (obviously) for it.

    The point here is that section was designed to give a cross-section of public opinion in this debate after presenting the facts. Public opinion has been, for the most part, highly partisan. If you look at some of the videos out there you'll see that the ones I picked are no where near as one-sided as the vast majority of the material available. Not only that but they explore both sides of the issue.

    Again, I don't know where you stand on healthcare reform and I'm not about to guess but I'd say look at the entire “guide” again as compared to the public debate on the issue. What I hope you see is that it is as close to a measured response as you can really hope to write about an issue this partisan.

    If you have any videos, links or other materials that you think would “balance” it I'd love to see them.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Cheers,

  • stephenKaaaa

    I sincerely appreciate what you are trying to do. It is not easy for
    a whole host of reasons not the least of which because it is
    incredibly complicated. I am looking for sites that put forth
    articulate viewpoints – even if they are not what I agree with – so
    that I may at least understand others' perspective is and their
    reasoning.

    My primary issues with your site

    - This discourse is already far too emotional. You can't possibly
    make it devoid of emotion. By taking a satirical approach –
    especially a mean-spirited one – only throws gasoline on a fire.
    - I think there is pretty universal acknowledgement that healthcare in
    America needs to be reformed, the issue is the type of reforms. An
    enumeration on the points of (general) agreement and disagreement
    would be helpful. Especially if the areas of disagreement were (non-
    emotionally) articulated taking into account the general
    perspectives. This is NOT an easy task, but would likely be the most
    beneficial (which is why I was hoping that someone had already done it).

    Some sites that are helpful? A couple of suggestions: http://www.cato.org
    (a libertarian perspective with a long history of having strong points
    of agreement and disagreement on major political issues and
    politicians from both sides of the aisle) and factcheck.org.

    Cheers

  • sbspalding

    I think you're right and upon reflection I can see how video six might do more harm than good if only because it serves as a distraction.

    I am a big fan of factcheck and I cited them in several parts of this guide, I feel they go a great job of cutting through the cruft.

    I also like Cato's approach to discussing politics even if I don't entirely agree with them on some issues. Typically, they try to raise the level of discourse which is something I appreciate.

    If nothing else, I'm glad we were able to discuss this reasonably. I admit that this isn't a perfect guide, there is too much information for a single person to parse even given the amount of time I spent working through it. The issue is complicated further by all the misinformation that is floating around.

    That being said, I hope more people like you will read this guide and point things like that out. It only serves to help people see that you can discuss a hot button issue like this without all the name calling and general insanity that I've seen in recent policy debates.

    Thanks again!

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