Healthcare Reform Update

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Luke Mitchell, senior editor for Harper's Magazine, gives us an update on healthcare reform. His recent articles "Understanding Obamacare," and "Sick in the Head: Why America Won't Get the Health-Care System It Needs," look at why the United States has arguably the worst healthcare system in the developed world, why we pay twice the Western average to maintain that system, and why it is such a struggle to fundamentally change it.


Luke Mitchell

Comments [27]

J.C. from Minneapolis

#26: Baloney. The pro-life movement does not say it wants equal care for everyone.

Pro-lifers want to talk about abortion only (on which issue I believe I'm rather moderate), but, dang, they're more than willing to bring out the Bibles and the flag to protest universal health insurance for the already born (just think of Rep. Michele Bachmann).

Dec. 17 2009 09:13 AM
Ed from Larchmont, NY

Well, the pro-life movement tries to say that we need to care for everyone equally, the unborn and the born. But the unborn have no protection at this time.

Dec. 16 2009 04:58 PM
Resident Alien from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Liebermann with his cadillac health plan disgusts me!

There should be a law that policy makers are granted the WORST health plan that is offered to citizens, not the best.
in this case, this would be NONE!

Dec. 16 2009 01:59 PM
joe from LI


Dec. 16 2009 01:21 PM

democracy can be its own worst enemy.

Dec. 16 2009 01:02 PM
kai from NJ-NYC

Tom - Be precise: Luke Mitchell said that Republicans will say no ONLY on the current health care bill. That statement is objectively demonstrably true. They don't want the bill, right? Politics as usual from all sides.

Do you feel that the private health insurance regime in its current form is running the health care system effectively?

It seem that the US government has been in debt for generations now, so by your reasoning, any business conducted by government under debt should be ineffective.

Do you think that the US government effectively carries out war? What about the way government paves roadways?

Dec. 16 2009 12:58 PM
Tom from NYC

Your guest is obviously biased. Republicans can only say "no"? And Democrats didn't do that? I seem to recall the Democrat minority that wouldn't allow up or down votes on a regular basis.
Also, can someone please explain how a government that is trillions of dollars in debt can effectively run our health care system?

Dec. 16 2009 12:38 PM
Sabrina from Manhattan

Will this bill make things WORSE for citizens - in terms of cost, coverage, choice, etc.

Dec. 16 2009 12:35 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

These” visions’ are predicated on the American economy producing, employment, and high paying jobs.
An economy that has a near majority getting low wage or no wages will not be able to buy any insurance nor have any data of interest.

Dec. 16 2009 12:35 PM
CJ from NY

I wonder if this Health Insurance mandate idea is just to bolster up one of the top industries in the United States. Since we don't make anything most things here, we have to buy "services." Now, industry is getting the government to force us to buy services that we may or may not need.

Dec. 16 2009 12:31 PM
Donna from Bloomfield, NJ

This legislation has been hijacked by special interests. I work for big pharma as a contractor. No insurance. They lay people off and replace them with people like me, to improve profits. The government then puts them on unemployment. They close down factories here and ship those jobs to Canada. If this legislation passes, it will do nothing to hold down costs, it will just put more money in corporate coffers.

Dec. 16 2009 12:27 PM
Laura from Murray Hill

I never hear enough about the problem of the profit motive. As long as insurance companies are selling insurance for profit, they have no incentive to deliver services and every incentive to increase premiums, cut services and keep profits. If I'm not mistaken, in Switzerland, where health insurance is from privste companies, the insurers are required to provide a complete basic health plan to everyone that is not-for profit. They make profits on premium plans and other products.

Dec. 16 2009 12:23 PM
Phil from Brooklyn

Obama has pledged not to sign a bill that doesn't bend the cost curve, if the CBO reports moderate to no savings for the American people, does the public option then become a necessity?

I also don't understand why senators don't bring up the polling in favor of the pulic option and single payer system more often!

Dec. 16 2009 12:22 PM
David from Brooklyn, NY

Doesn't increasing competition among insurance companies reduce their bargaining power with providers, such as for-profit hospital chains, which are really the ones driving up costs?

Dec. 16 2009 12:21 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Lets face it America has become a lunatic, suicidal, and self-destructive society.

Dec. 16 2009 12:20 PM
Scott Diggs from New York

Does anyone want to deal with the fraud in the system?

Any special interests for that?

Dec. 16 2009 12:19 PM
Janet Jaidi from Bronxville, NY

Why don't you call lobbying what it is - bribery of public officials! Our entire congress is bought and paid for by
special interests - in this case, the insurance industry and
big pharma. Joe Lieberman is owned by the Connecticut
insurance mafia.

Dec. 16 2009 12:19 PM
Scott Diggs from New York

Right on.

And change will not happen.

Dec. 16 2009 12:17 PM
Tom from UWS

MY physician - a midtown Manhattan private office - prefers Medicare to the insurance companies he deals with. Period. The expense and hassle of dealing with insurers effectively erases any higher payments (the fact of which which is debatable) that they may provide over Medicare.

Dec. 16 2009 12:13 PM
Betty Anne from UES

Isn't it true that Obama made a deal with the drug industry -- promising not to import cheaper drugs from Canada and Europe – promising not to use the government to negotiate for better prices? This was back in August. This was a horse and pony show.

Dec. 16 2009 12:12 PM
John P. MacKenzie from Long Island City

Yesterday's debate and votes on the Dorgan drug reimportation amendment was ugly and under-reported. New Jersey's senators dutifully expressed the highly funded interests of a few constituents --- pharma companies --- rather than many consumer constituents. McCain and Dorgan called the opposition a rigging. The voting patterns were screwy, with many liberals, especially in leadership positions, voting against Dorgan. Complaints about the rigging prompted Senator Menendez to threaten citing supporters for impugning his character! What a scene.

Dec. 16 2009 11:45 AM
Al Fabrizio from London

Is it a violation of interstate commerce provisions that states can regulate the insurance industry in a way that impedes competition? One would think this is the case. Why hasn't there been an interest in increasing the competetiveness of the market. It works in other areas where competition is allowed.

Dec. 16 2009 11:17 AM
Bobby G from East Village

How much does big pharma and the insurance companies spend on lobbying, marketing and advertising?

Dec. 16 2009 10:56 AM
sophia canellos from new rochelle

Howard Dean backed the public option from early in the summer (as Obama failed to do), and was still willing to back various compromises, even willing to give up the public option in exchange for Medicare buy-in.

A major reason for opposing it is that this is merely a bail-out for the insurance companies. Bailing out the banks was supposed to cause them to lend to small businessess. Mandating that people buy insurance without price-control and meantingful reform is the same bad deal for citizens and taxpayers.

Dec. 16 2009 10:18 AM
jtt from jackson heights


How come "pro life" people seem in general to care so little about how many peoople get sick and die once they've been born?

Dec. 16 2009 09:20 AM
Ed from Larchmont, NY

The Obama administration hasn't strong armed Congress because it can't: there are people who just won't vote 'for this dog' (Mitch McConnell). Despite the dilutions, opponents suspect that the Democrats plan to pass something, which will give hem control, and then will add other things later. And the pro-life people are standing on principle, and could cause the bill to fail. This would be the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

Dec. 16 2009 08:17 AM
George from Bay Ridge

Why hasn't the Obama administration strong armed Congress into a more forceful system?

Why have the Republicans been so opposed despite numerous dilutions by the Democrats?

Dec. 16 2009 05:44 AM

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