I am sick of speeches, I am sick of promises, I am sick of hearing the same old rhetoric: The State of the Union with all the applause and heads nodding in agreement or disagreement -- the ping pong of politics, the white noise that drones on until we're numbed and anesthetized with everything but the truth... Then there's the opposition's rebuttal -- which is about as exciting as eating hot watermelon. I watch the good-old slaps on the back and think, "How can they all forget about Fannie and Freddie? The CRA
? That THEIR policies created this mess!?!"
For too long the American people have been bamboozled and lulled into a false sense of This Is The Greatest Nation On Earth.
Don't get me wrong, I think it is, but my mother used to tell me as a kid, "Self-praise stinks." When I asked her why, she explained that it can intoxicate you into laziness. I'm not saying the American people are lazy, but our elected officials get up, give a speech, and somewhere say, "Greatest Nation On Earth" and we all feel better and go on about our day not paying attention, enough attention, to what's going on, and trusting that the latest line of shit we've been fed is the truth -- no matter what side of the political spectrum you're on.
Then the marketing machine starts selling to the public ... a pile of dung. Haven't you heard for years the same old issues over and over and over ad infinitum? Well, the patient is bleeding to death
and we do not need a tourniquet, we need amputations: Get everyone out of office who does not have America's and the American people's best interests at heart.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at a dinner hosted by my good friends Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer and Jay Hoffman. I had been a fan of hers and what she stood for since first hearing her on the talk circuit and most recently on "Hannity" -- and, of course when she called for people to gather on the steps of the Capital when it looked like the current health-care bill would pass. But what she said this evening should have been recorded for all to hear. Now I understand that at a dinner one is basically talking to the converted, but had this conversation been broadcast to the public conversions would have gone through the roof; much like when one hears Congressman Thaddeus McCotter go at it.
Let me just say that Bachmann is terrific! One of the dinner topics was health care and she and McCotter have great ideas, as I'm sure others do, as well (much better than the Pelosi- Reid Socialist Bankrupt America Bill). But one of the best ideas I've heard yet came from a plain 'ole American citizen, my friend Jack Kavanaugh.
When I had dinner with Jack and his lovely wife Leslie, Jack told me that before
the Presidential election he was contacting various politicians about a proposed health-care plan of his. He was shut out, not given a voice, and I know how frustrating it is to have something you feel strongly about and have none of our elected civil-servant officials listen. What happened to government of the people, by the people and for the people?!?
Our politicians act like feudal lords or movie stars who cannot be approached (I understand safety but not arrogance). Jack was a dentist, a doctor, a surgeon at UCLA, and an entrepreneur. He knows about health care and business. So I asked him to write down what he shared with me at dinner because it deserves to be heard.
I think this is a very interesting idea.
So read on my friends,
I very much appreciated your views on the health-care problem and health-care bill. Per our discussion, the following are some of my thoughts on the matter.
Firstly, there is no question that we as a nation can and need to do much better on the issue of health care. Debates can continue ad infinitum as to whether there are 12 million people or 50 million people in this country without health-care coverage. The 12 million number is calculated by including only those who are legal, are not eligible for health care but have not applied, or have selected not to have health care coverage because they can well afford the costs. The 40 to 50 million number we have heard includes all of the categories including illegals. Nevertheless, even though the United States has available, by far, the best health care in the world and emergency rooms treat patients even without health care, the current situation does require change.
Change needs to provide full health-care coverage, not just emergency treatment, for those uninsured and very importantly, the change must not lower the standard of care for everyone else. Unfortunately, the current health care bill would destroy the high quality of health care in this country and burden the country with immense health-care costs far beyond the projections of the budget office. In its inimitable way, Congress has taken the most complex road possible, based on politics and not on that which is best for this country. Unless Congress refocuses its efforts, the result will either be no action taken or a complete disaster for health care in this country.
Just one example of the absurdity of the bill is the assumption that Medicare reimbursements can be significantly reduced while providing care for more patients. Many doctors are already leaving the system. Further reductions will devastate the number of providers available, and make the provision of anything but cursory care impossible. Ezekiel Manuel, President Obama's chief advisor for health care, has made statements directly indicative of the administration's thoughts that health care for seniors needs to be controlled, which actually means limited. Does anyone really want to turn over their health-care decisions or those of their parents to government agencies who know that they control costs by limiting care?
Would it not be refreshingly simple to pass a single provision bill that clearly states its purpose. For example, one that would open state borders for competition among insurance providers? Just a simple bill, nothing more, no politics, just a yes or no vote - the passing of such a bill would result in billions of dollars saved in health insurance costs.
Let's continue in that constructive mode. How simple - a single provision bill that revamps the medical malpractice issues and reduces the high cost of malpractice insurance as well as the overly defensive mode that the specter of malpractice has imposed on doctors and the resulting additional costly diagnostic procedures that would otherwise not be ordered. Those two bills alone would significantly reduce health-care costs.
What about two other single provision bills without any tag-ons or Nebraska type of bribes - one to eliminate “pre-existing conditions” limitations, and the other one that places a $1 tax on every pack of cigarettes and taxes every bottle and can of alcohol?
Alcohol and tobacco are directly responsible for highly significant health care costs both for insured patients as well as for uninsured patients that hospitals cannot turn away. If there are no tag-ons and special interest allocations, there would be two great direct benefits. Firstly, increasing the costs of alcohol and tobacco via a "health care tax" will reduce the consumption of both and therefore, in the long term, health-care costs resulting directly from their use. Secondly, the alcohol and tobacco tax revenue should be applied to independent health-care insurance for the uninsured population.
The above four measures taken together can fully address the health-care issues in this country. Any one of the four can have a direct and major positive impact. The President called for bipartisanship, clarity and openness in Washington, no tag-ons, no closed door sessions, no bribes, not increasing deficits. The terms and manner in which the current health care proposal has been conducted belie the President's "comments."
Let's have clarity - four simple direct ways to resolve the health-care issues in this country; Let's have openness -- no confusing language buried in over 2000 pages subject to interpretation; Let's have no tag-ons; Let's have no closed door sessions; Let's have no Nebraska, Florida or other type bribes; and let's not increase the deficit. And, not the least of important of all, let's not do two things -- let's not destroy the best quality health care in the world, and let's not let the government encroach further and further into controlling the lives of private citizens and make decisions on who will and who will not receive health-care treatment.
Jack Kavanaugh, M.D., D.D.S., M.B.A.