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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Health Care Summit Live Part 1

February 25th, 2010

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D- New York) brings some interesting facts to the table. "Eight states are allowed to declare domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition." She has returned the discussion to fear of health care costs limiting innovation. Very smart.

Obama: "Let's not pretend that any regulation of the insurance industry is some onerous burden."
Cantor: "In a perfect world everyone would have everything they want." He has used the words "mandate" or "mandated" six times.

Obama rebuts Cantor roughly: "We could set up a system where food was less expensive if we eliminated meat inspectors."

Cantor "most people in this country have insurance." "it's just too expensive." He alleges that more than 10 million people could lose their insurance if the bill passes. He is trying to scare people with the fear of mandates (without specifics). He rings the alarm bill over "regulation."

Rep. Eric Cantor (R- Virginia) is grandstanding. He is using the 2400 page bill as a prop while conceding the discussion is really about the 11 page proposal from Obama.

Kathleen Sebelius (H&HS Secretary) is discussing her experience of having run a high "risk pool" as Governor of Kansas. She is highly opposed to them due to the lack of consumer protections. She describes problems such as "drive by deliveries" of babies and other too early discharges from hospital environments that then result in complications.

A sneering McCain presses the procedural grudge. Another Smackdown. Obama to McCain "We can have a debate over process or we can have a debate on healthcare reform."

Obama to McCain : "We're not campaigning anymore." Smack down. Thank you, Mr. President.

McCain is clearly running for office rather than working on health care. He should retire before he shames himself further.

Enter Sen. John McCain (R- Arizona) is lashing out at previous lack of transparency. He says the process was "behind closed" doors as if most committees ever meet openly. The process was "unsavory" but he "says that with all respect." He is rude and stumbling. He makes sure to reach out to the Tea Partiers by mentioning his town meetings. He appears to be accusing Pharma and the White House of having some secret deal. Unbelievable.

Miller describes "risk pools" as a "trap."

Rep. George Miller (D- California) is stressing common ground with Republicans on removal of annual and lifetime insurance caps. Proposes children being able to stay on parents plans into their twenties. Pre-existing conditions "are a real trap for families." He has a number of conditions and says "I'm dead" if he was to have to find a new policy in the private market.

Boustany : "We all agree prohibiting insurance companies from arbitrarily cancelling policies... is a no brainer." He is proposing "risk pools" for patients with pre-existing conditions. He alleges that the bill will radically raise taxes on families.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R- Louisiana) is a practicing surgeon. Again, the dominance of "small business" references is on overload.

Obama shot down Sen. Kyl's attempt to use the old "does Washington know better?" trope.

Rep. James Clyburn (D- South Carolina) is discussing the funneling of people through emergency rooms for basic rather than emergency care. Many of them are insured but he stipulates that unreasonably high deductibles are preventing them from receiving regular preventive care. He says his fight is for "people who can't navigate the system." It's smart to stress that the proposals for small businesses "won't be negotiated by the employees" and that they are "at the mercy" of the employer.

Sen. John Kyl (R- Arizona) is bridling at "government control." He has the audacity to cite a study by Oliver Wyman to stipulate that increased costs will be far higher than the CBO report. Wyman is a partisan shill as was exposed in The New Republic.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D- New York) is lashing out at medical industry representatives that offer equipment financing which encourages increased use of potentially unnecessary procedures. He is also endorsing the "undercover patients" idea which I oppose.

Obama has used the example of minimum auto insurance to make the argument that just having coverage is not enough. How much should government set a "baseline" for standards. Again, he is stressing exchanges and pooling.

The sad devotion of the Right to a so-called "free market" to drive down costs is almost unbearable. Rep. Paul Ryan (R- Wisconsin) is one to watch, though. very smart and gracious. Even though he's wrong.

Rep. Rob Andrews (D- New Jersey) and Sen. Kline have just argued over doctor versus insurance company decision making. Kline was unable to simply side with the doctor. Very telling.

Camp and Obama are actually speaking to each other in real terms. This is a positive. Even though Camp is wrong. There is strong disagreement over the substance of the CBO analysis of the bill. Facts are stubborn things and they are both reading page 4 of the report very differently.

Rep. Dave Camp (R- Michigan) is dropping the same anti-reform talking points we've been hearing for six months. He's trying to scare seniors with the thret of cutting Medicare.

The obsession with employer provided options is very disappointing. Most employers that don't already provide insurance won't do so without a mandate and that sort of mandate will kill the bill.

Sen Max Baucus (D- Montana) is speaking. I am surprised he even calls himself a Dem. He's currying center-right favor by focusing on health savings accounts and more "small business." Tax incentives.

Rep. John Kline (R- Minnesota) is focused on small business cost containment. Not very specific.

Hoyer has addressed the obscene "doughnut hole" that costs seniors so much out of pocket.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (Dem-Maryland) : " I think we have agreement on conflict of interest in delivery of medicine." I am not sure what conflicts they are referring to but I would like to see over-prescription of drugs supplied by companies that host things like golf-trips heavily monitored.

Coburn has at least addressed the "conflicts of interest" in the medical industry. And then he blames lack of oversight in the food-stamp and school lunch programs for diabetes. No really. He also states that private sector financial fraud is "one percent" as opposed to the rampant Medicare fraud. I'd like to see sources. Now he is proposing "undercover patients." That's great. Let's make doctors not just nervous about malpractice but afraid of their patients altogether.

Coburn : "We are risk averse to the tort system and the extortion system." Italics mine.

Coburn is glib. He blames government regulations for cost. He is a doctor and the Republicans have mis-stepped with him. Would you want this guy to be your doctor
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- Kentucky)made sure to bring up reconciliation in introducing Sen. Tom Coburn (R- Oklahoma)

Obama continues to stress cost containment. Lamar looks shifty as he has tried to be the "gotcha guy" and failed.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R- Tennessee)interrupted the President and got smacked down over the CBO report on cost containment.

Obama: "How do we control costs?" He has just re-proposed the usually Republican ideas of insurance "exchanges." Very smart and an essential component of reform.

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