Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama health insurance town hall: I’m not dissing surgeons here

Today Obama held a town hall on health insurance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

He reassured the town hallsters that under his plan, “You will not be waiting in any lines. We’re thinking more of a Thunderdome-type arrangement.” I may have made up the second sentence.

He went on, “This is not about putting the government in charge of your health insurance. I don’t believe anyone should be in charge of your health insurance decisions but you and your doctor. I don’t think government bureaucrats should be meddling, but I also don’t think insurance company bureaucrats should be meddling.” Both sides of this debate are pushing the same fantasy: that there is some possible system in which medical decisions are made only by “you and your doctor.”

WHY WE HAVE A DEMOCRACY: “That’s what America is about, is we have a vigorous debate. That’s why we have a democracy.” We have a vigorous debate, and then the lobbyists tell Congress what to do. Democracy!

UNICORNS ARE STEALING OUR JOBS! “Where we do disagree, let’s disagree over things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s actually been proposed.”

“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 because we’ve decided that we don’t -- it’s too expensive to let her live anymore. (Laughter.)” They’re laughing at pulling the plug on grandma. Laughing! What sort of heartless monsters are they in New Hampshire?

Another incredibly lame argument against single-payer: “I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that I believe would be too disruptive. So what would end up happening would be, a lot of people who currently have employer-based health care would suddenly find themselves dropped, and they would have to go into an entirely new system that had not been fully set up yet. And I would be concerned about the potential destructiveness of that kind of transition.”

SEE, IT’S NOT ONE UNIMAGINABLY HIGH NUMBER, IT’S ANOTHER UNIMAGINABLY HIGH NUMBER: “Now, it’s important that we’re talking about over 10 years because sometimes the number ‘trillion’ gets thrown out there and everybody think it’s a trillion dollars a year -- gosh, that -- how are we going to do that? So it’s about a hundred billion dollars a year to cover everybody and to implement some of the insurance reforms that we’re talking about.”

PODS, THE TERM IS PODS: “Okay, I’ve only got time for a couple more questions. Somebody here who has a concern about health care that has not been raised, or is skeptical and suspicious and wants to make sure that -- because I don’t want people thinking I just have a bunch of plants in here.”

HE WANTS SURGEONS: “Nothing against surgeons. I want surgeons -- I don’t want to be getting a bunch of letters from surgeons now. I’m not dissing surgeons here.”

WHO KNEW HACKSAWS WERE SO EXPENSIVE? “But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that’s $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 -- immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. Well, why not make sure that we’re also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation, right? That will save us money.”

TO BE FAIR, I’M NOT WORKING FOR IT EITHER: “But I want everybody to understand, though, the status quo is not working for you.”

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