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« Michael Winship: The Gorilla Dust of Health Care | Main | Michael Winship: Tom DeLay and the Woodstock Nation »

Towards a Healthier Debate on Health Reform

(Photos by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers asked three veteran observers for their perspectives on the health care debate playing out across the country. Each suggested that media coverage has presented unhelpful and misleading narratives that have not adequately informed the public about important issues.

Media analyst Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, argued that raucous town hall meetings have not allowed for constructive dialogue, and that media coverage has further obscured the complexity of the issues:

“[The town hall meetings are] not creating context in which misinformation on both sides can be corrected, and that’s the problem. We don’t have a deliberative process here taking place in public to inform public opinion. Instead, we’re potentially distorting it... You’d like people to attend, raise legitimate and important questions, give the other side a chance to respond, and then engage in a dialogue about it because then everyone learns. We ought to applaud that. That’s the way democracy should work. And that the attacks are coming from left and right is an important realization. There’s been a tendency in news to feature those that are coming from the right without indicating there’s substantial dissatisfaction from some on the left about the fact that this isn’t single payer.”

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on health care issues, suggested that both would-be reformers and the media have confused the public by focusing more on Washington jargon than the human stories of our dysfunctional health system:

“The debate drifted for a while and the message drifted for a while. It wasn’t defined in terms that average people could understand... People just couldn’t answer the question, ‘What does this mean for me and my family?’ And so they didn’t know what they had to lose if this didn’t happen. But more importantly, that left the field open for the critics and the opposition to define it the way they wanted to and even scare people a little bit that this might be a government takeover of the healthcare sytem... In a sense, what happened was the media and the debate focused on the issues which were in contention on Capitol Hill, that they were debating on Capitol Hill, because media coverage follows the controversies instead of the people issues that brought us this debate in the first place.”

Republican author David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, says that his fellow conservatives have focused too much on opposing Democrats’ proposals at the expense of offering proactive plans for reform:

“I think what happens for a lot of these political fighters [is] they’re like racehorses. The bugle goes and the blood stirs and there’s a fight and you have to join the fight – and I think there are some tactical opportunities the Republicans see... But if the Republicans win, this is not going to be a great victory for individual liberty. It’s going to be a victory for the status quo... What I am concerned about is in the desire to defeat President Obama, the Republicans are going to fossilize a status quo that is unacceptable to them... If you want to hold the line on the growth of government over the next two decades, this system has to be reformed.”

What do you think?

  • How well do you think the media has informed the public about the complex issues of health reform? Are the important issues being discussed?

  • In your view, what dimensions of health reform deserve more scrutiny than they’ve received in the media?


    Click here for resources to help fact-check the health care debate.


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    artikel yang menarik untuk tugas kuliah saya
    thanks and good luck with the surgery, Mr Howard.

    Kevin Costner: When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.

    First, I want to thank Bill Moyers and PBS for being the only true journalistic and free speech platform worth listening to in the USA. YES, access to Health care is not only a right, it is what any "civilized" state as opposed to barbaric, feodal ...must provide to its citizens. Let us deserve the "democracy" label, let us value the decency and integrity of a human being, that is his/her own health. My family was cured 40 years ago from tuberculosis from a serum that is not yet available today. Strange! aren't millions of dollars spent in research for that cure ? Best wishes of good health for 2010

    One by one, people are figuring it out that it was NEVER about "health care reform" - it's about using the IRS to make everyone pay into the war chest via health insurance premiums...

    Jack Martin, you wrote, in part, "I think we contracted his resentment at having had his pituitary and pineal glands burned out in a 1964 experiment sponsored by Howard Hughes, presented as a toncillectomy."

    This is WHY I go on about no value added DATA. Who on earth thought to experiment like that on people?!!! I don't give a sh-t if it is Howard Hughes or the King of Siam who "funds" Frankenstein experiements! If it's a self-proclimed "god" because of $$$, it makes them smarter about "health"? Really? Or just greedier about more $$$. Profit-driven health care is a SICK business with simple math formula - "more misery for others + more money for ME ME ME"

    And I, and maybe others reading along, did NOT know whether all options were considered in Grady's case. Radical Surgery should always be the LAST option. How much aditional space is needed to uncrowd his organs...? Pregnancy is an organ-crowding condition, ask any 8 month pregnant lady, so WHY are there no new insights about organ crowding? Because it's only one more month of suffering so shut up and put up?

    So instead of tugging on heart strings to make a point about "universal" health care, I focus on what politicians AND economists are so good at ignoring...by doing the "unearned wealth" shuffle, or the rich-man-with-dumb-ideas funding of UNDOABLE Frankenstein human experiements we ALL lose more than you can possibly know. Well, maybe you DO know since Grady is an experiment gone bad that we all know about because its somehow a heart string tugger that can go either way.

    Thanks for filling in addition details about him and I certainly DO hope he finds an end to UNNATURAL suffering. I am not a cold monster. There might even be a person or two who could write something about my "heart" and why I deserve not to be thrown under a bus. It's just that rigth now, I can still do the tossing out of trash on my own.

    WHAT VALUE-ADDED DATA CAN BE COLLECTED IN A PROFIT DRIVEN HEALTH CARE "SYSTEM"?

    correct answer - NONE.

    Since it seems like everyone is looking for one all-encompassing "theory" or philosophy for living to guide their lives, I offer one that I use when solving problems in a way that doesn't create more problems - ready? Here it is the BIG SECRET:

    "Pain and suffering is NOT an option".

    Anna et al: When Grady came to us discarded and broke 4 years ago our institute (folk school) members raised his YMCA membership fee so he could swim and have water therapy. Alternative practitioners we know in the area provided a variety of treatments gratis to ameliorate his conditions. He had no income and no insurance. We sponsored his training as an "Awaken in the Dream" (pachmama alliance) presenter and he was deployed as a facilitator in Dallas, Texas when he nearly died of strangulated and gangrenous intestines.
    My wife Coley and I think of Grady as an adopted son though he is only a few years younger than we. I think we contracted his resentment at having had his pituitary and pineal glands burned out in a 1964 experiment sponsored by Howard Hughes, presented as a toncillectomy. With little formal childhood education Grady forced his way into college, succeeded in the entertainment business and politics, and even borrowed money for a European doctorate in media analysis: All because he was a driven person, insecure in his uniqueness and obsessed with obtaining the means to overcome injustices. We hope we have helped him restore some equillibrium to his chaotic life and find a little happiness. We strongly approve of his marriage to Gladdie somewhat late in life. As a fellow "little person" she provides understanding we cannot, and a stable caring sexual relationship. Grady's "condition" has disrupted his entire being in many ways, and he deserves any reparations surgery can offer, whether he has insurance or not. Grady is one of the main reasons we support Medicare for all.
    We hope to enjoy several more years of his generous but testy friendship.

    I know this is going to come off as "cold", but answer me this, Grady, if you can - do you think that if you were not in that elite stream of having other people's money to use for "surgery" you might actually come up with something that works for "organ crowding" (basically "pregnancy" as experienced by women) better than surgery?

    Shoot, gravity gets us all - hanging upside down to stretch out the spine is yoga-lishus fun and let's not forget how nicely being in water loosens the grip of "gravity"...your own yellow submarine..?

    If you still go for surgery because you have the bucks, good luck! I'm sure the operation will be published for peer review and we can all read about it at PubMed.

    good luck with the surgery, Mr Howard.

    Grady Lee Howard;


    You have my best wishes for good luck and good health.

    "I feel stupid, and contagious. Here we are now, entertain us." Cobain

    Lee, your level of wisdom indicates you may have out-lived your era. Jesus said to love and pray for your opponent. As I undergo the knife, if you have any pull with the "Big Guy Upstairs" (not Lebron James), I wish you'd put in a good word for me. My only unions have been SAG and AFTRA. I get some small royalties and am eligible for the retired actors' home. (My furthurest south medical care was an emergency in Texas two years ago- so close to Mexico and so far from God.) I would be startled and surprised if you have not seen some of my films and commercials, since I've been on the big and little screens for 48 years now. (Recently was a wrangler in a Burger King piece, as a favor to a friend.Stand-in for cousin Clint in "Frost-Nixon".) My greatest shames are my Arlen Specter years and my Conestoga Life Insurance (fraudulent enterprise) endorsement (Agents are idiots). But a wise person learns from his mistakes. I realize you were a rank and file peon with the steelworkers, but you should learn from that. A good workers' organization would not be modeled on the predatory corporation but be more consensus controlled. I did go down to Venezuela to see a subway car factory run by the workers (still state owned). Maybe it was all for show but they seemed happy and made a good product that was being exported. My friend Jack told me about his experiences with worker self-management and worker owned enterprises in the former Yugoslavia, but you do know these were the first things Wesley Clarke was ordered to destroy (while avoiding American corporate investments. see Michael Parenti's work.) The Canadian couple Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein report sometimes on worker takeovers in Argentina-good stuff! Anyway, Lee, "fool me once... fool me twice... how does that go?" as Shrub Bush said, you need to hope for the best while stomping out the worst. (And I ain't it.)

    Your enemy, the people who own and control our welfare queen corporations,own 99% of everything and get as much of the income. No person is worth more than about $50 an hour in today's dollar, so why is that, Lee? You need to be asking yourself, "Did he fire 6 shots, or 5." Feel lucky? I think they'll be back for another big bite, and another and another, as long as we let them. A worker-owned plant would be unlikely to go overseas, and because it is a community good (like national parks) it would enjoy popular governmental incentives.

    See you Thanksgiving if I survive the organ de-crowding surgery.

    Grady Lee Howard;

    Thank you for the free psychoanalysis.How would you bring about a fairer distribution of income?Experience is a great teacher.Many years ago,when I was a member of the Steelworkers Union,we went on strike,the company settled,and we got the best contract in our industry in Kansas City.Two months later the company laid off all nine hundred of us,and simply moved the production to other states.It's a much more difficult atmosphere for unions now than it was then.These days you don't get very far just demanding things.It's too easy for companies to tell you to just go to hell,and move your job to India.I have first hand experience with medical care in Mexico,I don't think you know what you are talking about there,as a matter of fact ,that seems to be the common theme in your comments on just about everything.It sounds as though you think you are the first person ever to have any of your ideas(most of which have been tried and failed).I don't suppose you would want to elaborate on"popular control of media".That sounds like a good one.You might check those manners(lack of)too.Keep on entertaining us.

    Wipey...: Cough in your elbow, baby! If you are correct about all the allegations you make; then tell us what you're doing about it. (Nuttin' Honey!)

    So, people still need medical care even if we live in chickenhouse conditions. Say you were in a non-union, runover, underpaid job, with no help from the government. Organizing a union might be a good first step. Even if they went to Honduras you'd hardly be any worse off. (By the way, Mexicans, both illegal and citizens, are returning "home" because things are so bad here. Some go to get medical care.)

    People would be fools to freeze in terror at conspiracy theories. They would need to resist and fight. Since it is too late technologically for productive armed rebellion, passive resistance is all humanity has left. A good first step would be to demand affordable medical services for all. That would give us leverage to halt arms production and business-minded wars, to demand fairer distribution of income, to regain popular control of media and to question corporate personhood, great wealth and elite contract.

    The government may be sinister but it is at the behest of big business and the wealthiest persons who own and control corporations. If you can't understand those basics maybe you need help wiping.

    Lee: In Revealations there is a clause about the "mark of the beast" and reference to "666." Frito-Lay says to mail them the bag for a complete refund if the "chips" are not fresh. So which is it you're obsessed with; corporate sovereignty or "end times"?
    Your dwelling upon the byzantine language in a bill that 80% of Americans oppose is unhealthy and betrays psychosis. Are you hearing child psychologist James Dobson's voice when you are alone?
    Single payer cures all by cutting profits and paperwork. Let's get on with Medicare for all. Everyone in; no one out. (even endtimers)

    What is wrong in America? Health care is not a right, but it is a necessity. I need health care and so do you. A yard sale doesn't = coverage or make a dent in any illness cost. What church can support heart surgery for 1 of it's members? i've watched GOP Senators suggest these options to people who explained they had no coverage. Interesting, they did not donate, but suggested charity.

    Thank you Wipemysmile; Here is just one of the great number of things I don't like about HR3200.Starting on page 1003 it provides establishing a national registry for electronic medical devices.Some of these are described as implantable.It goes on to say that data from these devices may be used for survellance among other things as determined by the Secretary.I don't know what you think,but I really don't like the sound of that.Verichip Corporation,the manufacturer of these RFID implantables I am told uses an eighteen digit unique identifier for each individual device as three seperated groups of six digits (666).I just don't think this kind of thing has any business in a healthcare bill.

    America needs to wake up and realize her government has been hi-jacked by a privately owned bank called the Federal Reserve. Our leaders are all puppets dancing for the agenda of the Fed and this health care or insurance reform is indeed government take over. Since Obama took office they've been very busy taking over things and our health care is no exception. Next will come Cap and Trade. A piece of legislation designed to cripple the united states economy through emission taxes and energy costs. Read between the lines. They leave the borders open and welcome immigrants to help accelerate americas transformation into a third world country. And once the super power has been brought to her knees she will be forced into the New World Order to save her broken economy securing the Feds world domination. Wake up america. Our founding fathers left us all we need to know in the constitution. We need to take our government back from the Fed and Wall street and fight ALL tyranny.

    Anna is correct: They say a 10 month old baby or an obedient dog will search behind screen A for the "toy", after Big Nanny has hidden it behind screen B. Babies grow out of this obedient deception by age 1, and wolves are never susceptible. It seems like the wolves would want to arrest humanity as infants.
    Media is doing a pretty good job. "How about 'dem Redskins! Dat Mike Vick he so fierce! Where dey get him?" (From behind screen B, maybe.) And the cruelty intensifies, even at the hospital.

    D wrote, in part, "Health Care is certainly not one of them and may just be a smoke screen to keep Americans occupied and looking in one direction and squabbling over it while something else goes on."

    Wall Street got a lot of its new age "math" from the statisticians in big pharma inventing contortionist formulas calculating "risk". And then come this forgive-me-jesus statement from the big cheese people claiming to be worth tax payer billions in bonuses, "...We did not really know what they were talking about...".

    In regards to the FED and the money it dropped, take a look at the Federal Reserve... take a look at how it got its authorization, and what it really is. Then maybe you can guage the Fed's motives. Health Care is certainly not one of them and may just be a smoke screen to keep Americans occupied and looking in one direction and squabbling over it while something else goes on. What that is, I don't know, but I'm sure it's not that great.

    And the FED's motives go way beyond Obama... The ppor guy might be really trying to do something ernest, but it's the other players that we have to maybe worry about.

    Don't take my word for anything, that's why I'm not really saying anything about the FED... do the research yourself and look at the facts and come to your own conclusions.

    HR3200 is an insult to the people of this country,and anyone who supports it is an idiot.What more can I say?


    Lee -

    The FED funneled over 3 TRILLION dollars (or was it 4 trillion?)into the banking system in 2008.

    If you check your calendar you will note that Obama wasnt even in office yet.


    Chris's fears, while not completely succinct, are well-founded. With all the bailout in progress (for the bruised big banks and speculators) why are we not expecting a bad health care bill not to be just another big bite out of our apple? If profit were excluded with universal single-payer (like Medicare for all HR676) then maybe we could expect what we pay as premiums to buy more and better medical services when converted to a payroll deduction, but that may be "off the table." Maybe, since Bushites poisoned Medicare with a bad pharmaceutical solution, this industry written monstrosity will be another nail in the coffin of Medicare, Medicaid and eventually Social Security. There are a number of the privileged who can never be satisfied until slavery returns under death camp conditions. Sadism intensifies over time like drug addiction, and gets more perverse in the process. (Moderate your magnate and celebrity worship.) The capitalist heart and respiration may cease under this cocktail a la the King of Pop.

    Lee (Oswald? I knew you and Elvis still lived.) Where was you outrage during the Bush-Cheney war crimes, torture, rendition and general erosion of human rights and privacy. 3 more years you say! No one could have lived up to the hype under which BHO came in. The problem may be that he fears violent ones like yourself as well as being deferential to Capitalist Royalty. With what would you replace Obedient? You seem to like dick-taters when the variety is Cheney (you eat 'em up!). What's your auto tag number? I want to see if you were in Greensboro Saturday August 29th, Lee.

    Americans! Where is your decency?You have placed the futures of your children and their children in the hands of a bunch of tax cheats,thugs,and liars.Are you all blind and stupid?Look at the unprecedented gross damage they have done to our country and its future in only eight months and we are going to allow this for another three years? This is nothing short of an emergency.We should be deeply ashamed for allowing our great nation to be so easily subverted and destroied from within.How sad.

    Mal Russell asks, "Just what are we being asked to pay for? "
    The Health care "HB-3200" states, "Applicable level specified is...$5000.00 for an individual
    and $10,000.00 for a family per year." For "each subsequent year the increase will be $100.00."
    The HB-3200 contains 1017 pages. The media, as usual, has turn blind eye on the health care issue.
    The most of the legislators did not even read the "BILL!" It does not provide for
    a "single payer!" With 35 millions out of work, millions working at a minimum - poverty wages,
    and millions of senior citizens - retired people living on a fixed income, it is hard to
    even think that this is a "BILL" for the benefits of "ALL Americans!"
    The whole is even bigger than the "DONUT WHOLE" for "the prescription drugs!"
    The subsequent increases will be based on the "cost of living index" while they would
    cut the "cost... increases for the social securities benefits for the next 2 (two) years."
    The conditions and preconditions far exceed those of the "DONUT WHOLE!"
    This is the corrupt system that they "want to build on it!"
    They had trillions dollars to "bail out over 102 banks, and bonuses" but no funds for
    Katrina, health care etc.

    I'm country folk and I like my taters fried,mashed,boiled,baked,just about any way except when they are dick taters.Nope,don't care much for them dick taters.

    The healthcare bill sounds wonderful.I don't want old people around.They are a drag.I'm so glad to be alive in a time when we have finally progressed to electing our first black communist president.

    nick: Never forget the "boxed" dilemma of Moyers-type journalism. Some call it the Reasoner effect, after Harry Reasoner, a pioneer of issues documentaries for CBS. Harry would deconstruct an injustice, show the suffering, even sometimes highlight the powerlessness of activists and government to rectify injustice. He could never offer practical solutions because that would not be "journalistic." Everything was stuck by being part of the larger structural problems created by our self-interest and our economic dynamic. The viewer automatically came to the conclusion that trying to help correct matters is futile. (lulled to quiessance and complacency: inaction) The content was subsequently accepted as lurid tabloid infotainment because of such a condition. That is how the road was paved for Don Hewitt and 60 Minutes, and all the other now defunct investigative shows. Now we just look at Brittany Spears bottom and ask, "How does it fe-e-e-el?
    Moyers is not Entertainment Tonight, but there is a barrier to action as apparent as the sound barrier. Right wing operators (see Rev. John Hagee, on this site) have no problem breaking it with impunity because they suit elite agendas. Moyers stops well before insurgency because he knows the consequences. It is up to us to drag him over the line and to protect his press freedom. He cannot yet trust us.

    Manners are a luxury for the wealthy and connected. Tell Moyers the truth.

    I did forget my manners in my previous message, by not giving you the thanks you deserve Mr. Moyers. As many here have stated. You've offered us a much more lucid and indepth conversation with regards to the healthcare issue. That and related issues as well. Also an alternative voice to the "in your face" nihlist slant of network news. I always look forward to watching your journal. Thankyou.

    Dear Bill Moyers,

    Yesterday I saw you on Real Time being interviewed (yes you!). Sir, it truly was as if a breath of fresh air had finally come to the health-care issue. Might this not be your time to shine, dear friend?We need you to bring common-sense and humanity to this issue at a critical time; specifically I hope America gets the chance to listen to you interview President Obama, as I think you would help him frame the discussion as it best suits him, in humane and clear terms. I have great faith that this could put the debate back on a terrain where it might thrive, let's hope it happens.

    "It is not the voice that commands the story: it is the ear." -Italo Calvino

    Sincerely,
    Scott Tully

    I believe a major issue is being overlooked in this healthcare debate. That issue is the main source of our uneasiness, and a pointer to the first step in reform. Just what are we being asked to pay for? If we can't answer that question, we are giving a blank check to an industry notorious for draining funds.
    The health industry lacks standard procedures for caring for patient conditions. It's not that the industry has no standards. There are many, standards for radiologists to produce MRIs, for operating room prep, for drug administration, and so on. What we are lacking is comprehensive standard procedures for treatment of health problems under specific circumstances. That is, what we need are published public, comprehensive, continuously improving procedural standards for medical treatment. Then we'll know what we're being asked to pay for. And establishing such standards is probably the least expensive and most immediately necessary element of health reform.

    There’re other benefits to such standards.
    1. With such standards, much of healthcare treatment can easily monitored using standard techniques such as computer tracking. Did the patient get the shot? The food? The glucose drip? Did the doctor make the standard checks, observe procedure, remember or forget something, take a necessary shortcut? Such monitoring would greatly reduce error, or claims of error, thereby reducing medical malpractice insurance.
    2. With such standards, medical personnel challenged with locally unusual circumstances (e.g. uncommon disease or other patient condition, failed equipment) could have computer aids for walking them thru standard or alternative procedures. This could improve health and save lives worldwide.
    The kind of standards I mention here are available in many industries. There are many software “packages” available for producing and tracking such standards. And we need to have such standards; we must have such standards, if we really want reform.

    I have several disorders. both physical and mental.

    I am poor. I am poorer now than I was. I live on disability.

    I now get healthcare. I didnt get healthcare before (Igot only what
    I could afford and I couldnt afford to see proper doctors). I didnt
    ever use the ER as a source of medical care.

    I couldnt get private insurance becuase it was way too expensive
    and it didnt cover my medical conditions. My 'pre existing' conditions
    are why they wanted so mch money.

    I was fired for having a seizure on thejob. actually it was 'laid off'
    but either way I was out of a job. The company went through a
    number of creative steps including giving everyone a new title and
    reassigning people to different locations and this effectively turned
    me into 'themost recent hire at my location with my title' and so they
    laid me off. I had been there ten months. i wasnt themost recent hire.

    Manic deppression made maintaining employment impossble.
    Epilepsy was something I couldnt tell employers about because they
    wouldnt hire me if I told them and if I had a seizure they would get rid of me.

    Im now on disability. My income is about $7,000 per year but I do finally
    get healthcare.

    When I first needed help there was no one who knew where to turn.
    Ive heard that some of the uninsured could have coverage if they
    applied for it. Part of the problem with that is that when you need help,
    there isnt anyone who will tell you how to get help. Even some government
    agencies will tell you their is no help. they want to save money. In Texas
    they try to discourage you from getting help. just call up the 'manic depression
    hotline' and see how far you get.

    I finally found out about our counties hospital for poor people. I went
    there and its much worse than the DMV. I spent all day waiting just to
    be given an appointment for the nex day where I again spent all day waiting
    and again was told to come back. They did do quick medical checks on me
    to make sure it wasnt an emergency. All i needed was some Dilantin so I
    wouldnt start having seizures. On the third day I was able to get my prescription.
    I had also caught some illness that had been floating around.

    Some people think government run health care will be like theDMV.
    They are wrong. The public insurance option is nothing more than a payment
    scheme. Like I said, Im now on disability and Im on Medciare. I sit in the
    same doctors offices and I wait the same way that anybody else with private
    insurance does. Medicare is a God send. It would be very nice if it included
    dental and better eyeglass coverage. At the very least it should include
    basic dental care.

    But in my entire adult life, I have only been able to see neurologists
    becasue of Medicare. When I was a kid, I was on my parents insurance
    and I got care that way. thats how I knew what meds I could take.

    something needs to be done. I have just found out that as far back as
    Richard Nixon, theRepublican idea is that taxpayer money should be funneled
    into private insurance company pockets so that they can 'treat the sick'.

    guess what...IT AINT WORKIN!!!

    CHANGE IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    a public insurance option is a good start. less money ...more care.

    Steve G wrote, in part, "Since the idea of government-run universal healthcare should not be a part of any serious debate on healthcare reform..."

    What is UNIVERSAL to the human species is the care and maintenence of our bodies. If you inhabit a human body, it NEEDS to be taken care of...simple.

    Since the idea of government-run universal healthcare should not be a part of any serious debate on healthcare reform it is safe to assume that the media are presenting their usual professional wrestling coverage of the lunatic liberals versus the crazy conservatives in the never-ending grudge match of the extremists.

    Information is everywhere these days and available around the clock. That information abundance has had an evolutionary influence on the media, transforming news sources into theatrical production companies that dramatize events. That dramatization process tends to strip away the reasonable discussions and shifts the focus to the drama of the extremes.

    To survive in the modern world most news organizations have to make emotional connections with their viewers, readers or listeners. It isn’t enough to present information; the information has to be put into an emotional context in a way that engages people. Modern media are presenters of emotionally engaging fantasy dramas and the media don’t get too involved in presenting intellectually engaging discussions. So informing the public about complex issues or discussing important issues are not parts of the media presentation.

    Early on in this healthcare “debate” it should have been quite clear to the informed, rational people that government-run universal healthcare had no chance of passage. There was no viable way to get it written into law and, in the government, universal healthcare wasn’t under serious consideration as a solution to the healthcare problem. Yet it continues to be part of the “debate” because it simplifies the dramatization process and makes the dramatization more emotionally engaging.

    Liberals get to glorify universal healthcare and conservatives get to demonize it even though it is already known, beyond any reasonable doubt, that government-run universal healthcare has been ruled out of the serious discussions. Even the Brits got caught up in this fictional dramatization; twittering in defense of their healthcare system.

    Liberals glorify, conservatives demonize and the British defend something that isn’t even a part of the serious discussion of healthcare reform.

    Are the important issues being discussed in the media?

    No.

    That would make for boring theater.

    1) The third sentence in my (BVA) August 19, 2009 5:39 PM post [at this same web page, http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2009/08/towards_a_healthier_debate_on.html] should have read "Most of the MG panel appear to be entirely ignorant of the work of the Dartmouth Group and Dr. John Wennberg in documenting that almost 'one third' of the medical care provided in the US is unnecessary, does not improve health, wastes enormous amounts of money, and slightly increases the rate of mortality." I apologize for the omission and any confusion. It is a confusing post anyway because most of it was originally posted on the Mclaughlin Group website, (but I've already apologized for that at 'August 20, 2009 3:59 PM').

    2) I appreciate the 'Journal' website maintenance staff for truncating my original post [August 21, 2009 11:06 PM, "Ask Maggie Mahar" web page] of the entire text of George Lakoff's most recent HuffingtonPost blog "The PolicySpeak Disaster for Health Care" (criticizing the administration's political mistakes in promoting healthcare reform from a cognitive science point of view) [at the "Ask Maggie Mahar" web page, http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/blog/2009/08/ask_maggie_mahar.html]. It was way too long. Thank you very much.

    I apologize to other commenters and readers for the length of that post. It was silly as you can read it all on the HuffingtonPost website especially in the print view mode [at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/the-policyspeak-disaster_b_264043.html?view=print or at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/the-policyspeak-disaster_b_264043.html if you prefer]. (What was I thinking!) (It is worth reading the entire text of it if you have never read any of Lakoff's more recent books and/or Drew Westen's most recent book on cognitive science and political campaigning 'The Political Brain'.)

    I keep hearing about finding the money to pay for this. If your employer is paying for your health insurance currently would it not be good business to switch to the government plan that cost less for the same coverage? The money we (Americans) are paying currently will more than pay for a new Government system that will provide more coverage. One of the reasons there is such a big fight from the insurance companies is because a government system would put them out of business and they are making Billions collectively.

    Single payer advocates you have an opportunity. A historic vote will take place this September. For the first time there will be an up or down vote on single payer in the form of HR676. Mail, email, fax, or call your representative and tell him/her to vote YES on HR676. Tell your Senators to support and co-sponsor S703. For further information visit any of the following websites for further information:

    Healthcare-Now.org

    PNHP.org (Physicians for a National Health Plan)

    1payer.net

    Healthjustice.org

    ADA.org

    PDA.org

    While you are at it urge your congress people to enact public financing of elections

    How about facts? How much is spent on health care**the total amount: include health insurance, liability insurance, law suits, out of pocket money, ER non recoverable cost, medical personnel,etc.
    THEN:
    How much health care is provided to all in this country;
    THEN:
    What is the short fall?

    Can insurance compaies and lawyers be cut out of the formula & make a big difference?

    NO one discusses the NUTS & BOLTS, is that it is not known,
    OR:
    Do only the really SMART people understand how "IT" works?

    Worked for Wall Street.

    Billy Bob, Florida

    did I hear someone mention education?

    Textbooks being written for Texas students would teach about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority — but nothing about liberals — under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks.
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/6581189.html

    Paul wrote, in part, "And on and on and on. Let me ask it this way: What hasn't the government lied about?....Sorry, Ms. Jamieson, but Americans are PO'd right now, justifiably so. And it's about time. Many more Americans need to get angrier still, ugly and unruly and unconducive to civil discourse though that anger may be."

    Hi Paul,

    Indeed, with all this DOCUMENTED LYING, we have a paucity of real information about HEALTH CARE, don't we?

    We have no idea what the optimum treatment IS, we have no idea how to stay ahead of evolving viruses and bacteria and even where parasitic amoebas still reside in nature! If we continue to bs about health care, we will lose, ever more quickly, a way to increase our knowledge about care. The amount of "mistakes" happening in hopsitals and clinics is INCREASING, not decreasing, and everyone trying to really provide care will tell you that INSURANCE COMPANIES are creating a warped pool of medical DATA. And everyone is talking about making that data e-data? Yeah, that'll help. Not.

    It's not just a "moral" issue with for-profit, it's also a basic SCIENCE issue - the data is crap!

    Isn't the bottom line here that people are INCOMPETANT to provide "health care" at ANY price?!

    What's next? Bartering? Let me have my viagra, zetia, and high bp drugs for free for the next ten years in exchange for one of my kidneys?

    When you look at which countries have a line of immigrants still interested in coming here, it says it all about WHAT we have become.

    More people died in the Civil War in the USA than even in WWII. There is nothing that says that another round two against "slavery" is not within the realm of possibility.

    What kind of "civil discussion" are the jewish-mother types expecting from innocent people who have been mercilessly tortured with disrespect? I know thousands of people and none of them have ever been cavalier about their own health and well being, much less of their families! When some surgeon was ready to chop off grandpa's leg which had become infected at the rehad/nursing home, the family took him home and the WOMEN tended to the wound day and night and cured the infection.

    Not only do we not NEED the kind of "health care" that has been "sold", we are absolutely correct in OUR judgement that "government" IS the source of force and fraud against the best people in our country.

    I'm with you, Paul. Enough.

    Anger is a self preservation chemical brew and by the time I "feel" it, the saving of my life and everything I HONESTYLY labored for IS at stake.

    I'm NOT for another civil war, god knows that the fringes would only make out the most if that happened, but PEACEFUL civil disobedience in these circumstances is a TRUE indication of a normal and sane mind. We need to stick together on this one.

    It cuts too close to the bone of basic human dignity, doesn't it?

    Ms. Jamieson misses a significant point of the anger expressed in Town Hall meetings about health-care reform: People are mad as hell because they are scared. They don't know who or what to believe anymore because they have been lied to over and over again about nearly everything. Even if Obama and crew are seriously and sincerely attempting to "do the right thing" for working people of this country (and not just fleecing them for corporate gain), on what grounds can we trust them? None that I can see. Measured, deliberative, civil debate about health-care reform -- indeed, about any public-policy issue -- requires a modicum of a priori trust among the participants. The problem is, the political establishment has no credibility left. Zero. It has squandered what was once an ocean of public trust and goodwill to the last, evaporated drop.

    * We were lied to about the bank bailouts.
    * We were lied to about the "credit crisis".
    * We are being lied to about the solvency of the banking system.
    * We were lied to about Iraq.
    * We are being lied to about Afghanistan.
    * We were lied to about torture and extraordinary rendition.
    * We are being lied to about illegal immigration.
    * We were lied to about the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.
    * We were lied to about the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act.
    * We were lied to about 9/11.
    * We were lied to about NAFTA.
    * We were lied to about deregulation of the energy and financial-services industries.
    * We were lied to about globalization.
    * We were lied to about Social Security.
    * We are being lied to about Social Security.
    * We were lied to about the assassination of JFK.
    * We were lied to about Vietnam.

    And on and on and on. Let me ask it this way: What hasn't the government lied about? All I can think of is the EPA's fight in years past to demand lower automobile emissions and stop egregious corporate polluters. Perhaps there are other examples, but if there are, you can count them on one hand.

    Sorry, Ms. Jamieson, but Americans are PO'd right now, justifiably so. And it's about time. Many more Americans need to get angrier still, ugly and unruly and unconducive to civil discourse though that anger may be.

    Paul

    Dear Bill,

    Excellent program as usual. At the end of Critical Condition, you said: "When all the flash and fury have turned to ash, here's what remains: our present system treats medicine as a profit center instead of a human need and public service."

    From what I can gather, America is based on profit. Nothing else seems to matter. You will have to educate your viewers that they pay taxes to obtain essential public services. The quality of these services may be questionable, but key public services include education, immigration, justice and defence. You can see some of these services becoming 'two-tiered" for the rich if you look closely enough. On the other hand, services for Energy, Water, Transportation and Health Care are not included as a key public services. Until the public becomes better educated on what is a human need and a public service, they will not elect the right politicians to make the necessary changes. Education is a cornerstone human need and public service. If people are better educated, eventually they will put better decision makers in public office. I don't see this happening soon.

    I was so moved by this body of work until it brought tears to my eyes. No american citizenneed to suffer do the lack of affordable health Insurance coverage. Thank god for our president and his party. " It's been a long time coming but a change is about to come".

    Thank you Bill Moyers and PBS. Moyers weekly production with out exception, week after week is excellent. So in formative and so needs to be said. I just wish the show was compulsary for all the citizens of the country Please keep up the great work. Murray

    Lately it seems to me that we are avoiding our responsililities as Human beings by our single minded obsession with the symptoms of the underlying fundamental problems. My intuition tells me that one of the reasons for this is that we know somewhere deep down that we have neglected these fundamental problems for so long that they are now gorillas or trex. So, we just continue to throw money at symptoms in order to make ourselves feel like we are actually doing something real.
    Some of the results of this neglect are rearing their ugly heads now in our times. An educational system that is essentially a social, political and economic indoctrination system. We don't question the relavance and appropriatness of our capitalistic and other systems in order to determine if they are still as relavant as they were when we were a young developing country and why haven't we modified or made any changes to them in light of the knowledge that the dynamics of time bring about changes. Insurance companies are allowed to exist and thrive as parasites that do not benefit the best interests of the general population. Adolescents masquerading as grown adults allowed to come into power and hold positions that can effect the world.
    No, we would rather address the symptoms like a man pouring water into a radiator without first plugging the hole at the bottom and thinking that he is taking care of the situation. I wouldn't mind joining a debate if the debaters were grown up enough to stay focused on the real problems and not get sidetracked by personalities, and if everyone brought the courage to ask the really tough questions about the fundamental causes of the problems that are the consequences of our complacency and indifference which are the fruit of fear and ignorance. Are we really ready to slowly inch our way back to the dark ages and the decay of our civilization because we were too afraid to ask the right questions? Uncontrolled money and power can be deadly to any society and only intelligent citizens can exercize their social responsibilities appropriately. But after decades of not paying attention to such things as our education system, where might we find those intelligent citizens?

    So, NLF you went in for dehydration. Maybe the reason that they checked you out is most people know how to rehydrate and don't go to the emergency room so they were probably checking to make sure everything was functioning correctly. As to not paying for it i don't follow. Do you not have health insurance do you have health insurance that you and/or somebody else is paying for, what?. Would you rather they had just kicked you out and said don't bother us with trivial stuff. Oh, and why did you go in the first place if as you seem to suggest it was only dehydration?

    Proposal for Health Care Insurance Reform

    1. Slowly and steadily expand Medicare so that each year the eligibility age decreases by one year; i. e., in 2011 all over 64 are covered, in 2012 all over 63 are covered, etc. for essentially all reasonable care. Some rationing undoubtedly will be necessary, but the health insurance industry already rations care, severely in many cases.
    2. Pay for the expansion by charging all participants a suitable annual fee.
    3. Begin taxing all purchases of health insurance.
    4. Provide reasonable subsidy, in a sliding scale arrangement, for the poor.
    5. Subsidize the entire system by gradually drawing funds from our excessive defense funding.
    6. Readily allow continuing private health care insurance for those who want super-expensive elective procedures.

    Bill and Judy Parr
    Holland, Michigan

    Dear Bill Moyers I was talking to my mother the other day and she brought up the healthcare debate. She very dramatically told me that if Obama passes any legislation she can thank her children who voted for him, for killing her. (thankyou Princess Palin) Well usually I take what she says in that tone with a grain of salt. But I can't help remembering the impassioned way in which you spoke on your show with regards to the name calling towards the president. I share your feelings about it. I have to inform you this kinda hostility and misinformation skyrocketed in the factories I worked in all through the 80's and 90's. So its been around a long time it was just waiting for a tipping point for someone to exploit it. Also this has little or nothing to do with the healthcare issue at all. If it did then the message that its healthcare insurance reform and not healthcare reform would have worked itself out months ago. This is fear, anger and ignorance stoked by corporations and conservatives. In the case of health insurance providers its just plain greed. There is nothing president Obama can say or do that is all right with hardcore republicans. If you've talked to any bluecollar republicans I have'nt met one to this day that can see past his color first of all and they start chanting Socialism socialism the minute his name is mentioned on the radio at my job or someone mentions him. In that kind of environment no constructive debate can flourish. Your republican guest with all due respect is a devil in disguise. The first thing you should have asked him was "Where was your descent in 94?" It is'nt health insurance that has ruined wages for workers, its greed entitlement and what they can get away with. What happened to pensions, holidays and personal days overtime pay etc. That had to cost companies more money?? I worked for a company for 17 yrs and no I was'nt paid alot for the first 12 years and I had to learn every kind of machine in that plant before I got a decent paying job. Then I was let go so one of the many newly hired highly paid corporate elites could look like he saved the company money at the end of a quarter. The fact that they recently found out I was a homosexual only made it even sweeter to pick me instead of some of the others who were less skilled and far less productive. but because conservative politicians have gutted laws to protect me, or most anyone else for that matter, they made no secret about why they let me go. Your republican guest was just trying to cloud the truth, perhaps to sauve his corrupt conscience but most likely to help his corporatist cronies. He just wants you to believe the wealthy are holy lot, besieged from all sides by a godless anti free market american government and decadent overpaid employees. No, this is just a game being played by elitist bussiness men and women across the country and it has some ominous implications other then finacial. To them its a sport. Just as the misinformation they're spreading about health insurance reform. Pit americans against eachother and a house divided will fall. The healthcare insurance problem is easy. Just allow nonprofit companies to exist and give them massive tax breaks if they keep health costs way down and honor thier coverage. Allow them to be national so anyone in any state can aquire it. And allow foreign companies to compete like they allow foreign manufacturers to compete in the market. If the republicans object to tax breaks then publicly ask them about tax breaks for thier pet industries like oil. If they object to foreign competition then ask them to put up or shut up about Nafta and other overseas manufacturers competing in our market. I'm afraid Mr. Moyers that mr. Frum's perspective is like that of a Roman conqueror's after he's subdued the enemy. We americans in the middle are'nt in much of a position to bargain now. And he knows that. His party has stripped away our ability for recourse and with all the squeezing banks are doing to americans right now his republican buddies stand to make Hundreds of millions more from squeezing people alittle more. I know, I'm one of them being squeezed

    See George Lakoff's article "The Policy Speak Disaster for Healthcare." On the same lines, below is a flyer I created a couple of weeks ago for a town hall in which we were surrounded by flailing people with arms moving like those air dancers you see at car lots and store openings. Turns out, I think, if they were told first that the bureaucracy they depise is actually the insurance companies not the government, we and they would actually agree on the same kinds of reform. (Sigh)

    F ull A ffordable I nsurance R eform - C osts, A ccess, R ules E xplained

    If You Already Have Health Insurance
    F ewer feet of red tape
    A ccess to any doctor as currently allowed by your plan
    I nsurer can’t deny procedures
    R educed costs of co-pays

    C atastrophic coverage now included instead of denied
    A bility to choose the public option if you prefer
    R ecordkeeping computerized to cut down costs
    E xactly what you have now, with changes only for the better

    If You Don't Have Health Insurance
    F inally, you’ll be covered
    A ffordable (Government subsidy if you can’t now afford it)
    I nsurer can’t deny you coverage
    R egulation of profit manipulators are for you, not against you

    C hoice of doctors and plans
    A cceptance of previous conditions
    R easonable not “rationed”
    E mployers who don’t give you coverage now, don’t have to pay for it

    If You Are Young
    F lexible health coverage for a flexible lifestyle
    A ccident coverage all over America
    I n and out of school, wherever you are
    R eady in case anything happens to you

    C hildren’s health care covered for any condition, treatment, health training
    A ll
    R
    Eligible

    If You Are Middle-Aged
    F ull family coverage of every condition
    A nnual checkups covered, as well as reasonable procedures
    I nsurers are not allowed to profit at your expense unless you want them to
    R educed costs for you and your employer

    C ompetition from public option keeps insurance companies honest
    A dministrative costs do not need to be extra high just to include profit
    R ecords kept electronically to keep prices down
    E xchange allows you to choose best care based on price and outcomes

    If You Are Older
    F ees will not go up; they’ll likely even go down
    A lready on Medicare? You’ll stay on it, fully covered
    I nstitutional care is covered not denied
    R easonable prescriptions available easier

    C overs everyone including those not yet covered
    A ccess to care and health tips expanded
    R eal choice of doctors, your choice, not the government’s
    E veryone is valued and helped to live longer

    Lies from the other side

    What They Say - What the Truth Is

    P ublic Option is mandatory! No, it isn’t. It’s a choice. Everyone’s choice.
    R ed tape prevents care! There is less red tape, more care.
    O ld people will be made to die! No, they won’t – Nothing like this in the plan.
    F eds get between you and docs! No they don’t. Insurers are in your way now
    I ndividual choice is better! A public option IS individual choice
    T axes will go sky high! You pay more for health care now than you will

    L ess care in other countries! Wrong. The US is 37th in healthcare now.
    I nsurance companies know best! They profit by taking in $$, won't give it out
    E veryone gets only equal care At least, but wealthy can buy more if they want
    S ocialism! Like Medicare, VA care, & congress’s own plan?

    To BVA
    Dave
    Maurer
    Dr. Elkins

    I spent so much time writing this blog, I forgot to look up and insert my name and e-mail address, and the whole thing was blanked out.

    I am writing this again - I am so feedup. I will only say one thing.

    I think Dr. Elkins summed it up. But my experience in the Emergency center:

    I went in for Dyhydration. The next day they had the hospital staff wheel me out for a CT Scan. On asking for what, back came the reply "A CT Scan of the Brain" on asking "Why" - back came the reply, "It is ordered".

    Glad I was not paying for it.

    I quit accepting insurance twenty years ago... I am a fringe element. I provide health care for people who want to be healthy.. not for those who want to be fixed.
    The insurance scam is much like the oil scam. (there is plenty of oil, we simply need new energy.) Medicine/insurance has allowed the public cheap insurance for long enough to have the public believe it needs it. Add to that the constant mis-information about cancer, AIDS and others and we have a public hopeless and helpless.
    There are no incurable diseases... there is created or "Designer" fear, terror and the insanely expensive procedures designed to make even the very strong cringe in terror. When some one says they survived cancer through the medical model I am impressed... to say they survived cancer or aids through alternative ... REAL alternatives I am happy, not impressed... it is and should be normal.
    We think or believe we "need" insurance because that is what we have been told and that is what the price tag implies...this is crap. No one deserves to be paid those wages (yes, not even CEO's)..
    When health care, and hospitals become corporations they loose the humanity of healing. We need the "country doctor" who cared for the family from start to finish... knew everyone from birth through marriage and yes, was there to support the now mom, having a baby.
    These days are not gone... they simply have been gotten rid of because the Corporation made sure there was no competition. Quoting a Med. journal ... CEO of a major hospital... "We're like a whore house, if the beds aren't full we aren't making any money"... and that is insanity.
    We do not need insurance... we need a health care system that provides care for everyone... (without the government) brought to us by physicians who want to be health care providers not because they can drive mercedes or pilot a luxury yacht... But because they care about people...not the dollar.
    America no longer has health care... we have programs for the rich... and programs for the poor. One gets health care the other gets crapped on. It is that simple.
    We need to eliminate insurance, put a cap on health care procedures and drugs, dismantle the med corporations and the pharmaceutical corporations... which by the way are entirely unnecessary... and teach young men and women to be health care physicians... not corporate robots...

    To DAVE and others -

    No, I'm not!

    I would argue that [your words] "the rate of increase of healthcare services is so massive that the government would surely go broke trying to keep up with it" should be the reason for all those on Medicare to see that their complacency (and hence their opposition) is the wrong response. Obama is already making the argument that healthcare costs are on a trendline to disaster for the federal government. This may not be an effective political argument for popular consumption (yet?), but it is certainly one of the most powerful arguments for reform of the healthcare system among those who have studied the the current problem we face. This dovetails exactly with what Mr Frum said in his interview with BM. Those who want to fend off future tax increases (Conservatives) will be hurt more by the defeat of healthcare reform than those who are less fearful of that policy option.

    That the 'public option' would be modeled on Medicare should allay their (Medicare recipients) fears about government intervention in the healthcare insurance market, since Medicare is the prototypical 'good' (and therefore popular) government program. My real point (to the McLaughlin Group) was that the enemies of healthcare reform take 'cheap shots' that just don't make sense and are laughably ignorant.

    Obama was pointing out with a practical examples (that may or may not have worked) that there is plenty of money to be saved throughout the whole healthcare system to pay for insuring the currently uninsured without a tax hike. [30% by current estimates of unnecessary, and sometimes lethal extra healthcare.]

    Sorry for the confusion. I will try to be clearer next time. [I guess my mistake was reusing a post out of the context of the original website.]

    But we have bigger strategic challenges to worry about given the analysis of Sharon Begley's recent article in NewsWeek about the failure of the White House to effectively counter powerful and predictable propaganda effort by the opponents of healthcare reform. If you haven't read it it's at http://www.newsweek.com/id/212131 or at http://www.newsweek.com/id/212131/output/print.

    George Lakeoff also has a very disturbing blog at HuffingtonPost on the same subject of White House tactical and strategic ineffectualness in the battle for healthcare reform. It can be read at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/the-policyspeak-disaster_b_264043.html
    or at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/the-policyspeak-disaster_b_264043.html?view=print

    Big Advice Daddies: I am a grown-up, but also a humorist, like Mark Twain. (Moyers and Winship are not above a little political joking either.) I have been a regular on the Moyers blog for 3 years. During that time I had an extreme health scare and really got interested in the subject matter. It gets tiresome for me to write polite corporate copy 36 hours a week, and I break out when I get on here. I'll admit I use a proxy server, but if you drove around you could find me at either of my residences from the clues I've given. Right now there is a placard for Conyers' HR 676 right on my front fence and my neighbors are discussing the bills on the front porch with Gladdy. It's a little more tight-lipped down here in Dallas, but these working people are more repressed and have a history of being repeatedly betrayed. I, and they, are like Michael Vick's dog survivors, slowly regaining trust.

    I took my friend's mother to an oncolgic surgeon today and she unexpectedly cut a chunk out of the ols lady's arm, claiming without a biopsy it was cancer. Maybe that Medicare money is sweet enough already for the butchers. A kind-hearted doctor can't make ends meet. I stopped at an ols-timey ice cream parlor and bought the old Missus a banana split. She said, "Doctors come and go but this ice cream place has been here since I was a girl. I had my first job here but all the people I worked with are dead." If there is a death panel it is in the corporate boiler room and not in Dennis Kucinich's or Jesse Jackson, Jrs' office. The 94 year ols with her wheelchair in my hatchback wants everyone in and no one out. Why not, says Tony Benn- (see Democracy Now archives). These wise oldsters make me feel like a schoolkid.


    Michael LaB- didn't get your take on XE and Prince.

    The reason Healthcare Reform is failing is because it has still not been clearly defined - we can do that right now...

    Here's what our leaders ought to do in order to win the Healthcare reform battle:

    Define the reform initiative within 3 major points - something like:

    1. Healthcare is not a privilege - it is a fundamental constitutional right (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness). Any Healthcare reform must start and end with universal coverage - period, end of story.
    2. Healthcare is accountable to patients and patient outcomes - in other words "We the People," and not the providers. All incentives, systems and participants must be focused on one primary mission - improving patient outcomes.
    3. Healthcare Reform must ensure patients rights, freedoms - This means that access to all types of care is universally available - universal coverage is not enough. This is not unrealistic - other nations have been able to provide both coverage and access while still containing costs.
    There is still a major role for private industry in Healthcare, just as there is in every country now providing universal care - the difference is that the private industry which is inefficient, serving itself and driving up costs in those systems is controlled or removed.

    We consider National Defense important - we'd never recommend that the entire US military be privatized. Why, because it is vital to our survival as a nation - Healthcare is no different.

    Here's what else can be done to win the battle:

    • Reduce the complexity of the reform legislation immediately. The core reform legislation should be no more than 100 pages long - details can be worked out by designated agencies. Putting 1200 pages into legislation is a clear indication that all the loopholes are being built in up front, thereby wiping out the true intent of the legislation.
    • The President will need at least 3 nationally televised speeches to sell this - but those cannot occur until the message is clarified, simplified and conform to the 3 principles listed above.
    • Attack the disinformation - vigorously - let real citizens take control of the dialog once more.
    We have an opportunity to prevent our nation from slipping down towards a third world standard of living, a way to become competitive again - to help reverse the endless cost increases that are driving Healthcare to insane levels of our GDP, we can take back our system.

    This isn't about Democrats or Republicans because these folks are being denied care in equal numbers now, being rationed on care now and in many cases even dying right now - not because a death panel said so, but because no cares if they live or die. We are better than that - we are the United States, let's prove to the world that "We The People" still run this nation.

    Michael: I sincerely apologize for bringing up something you can't help. Have you ever read about how much trouble they had in the American Revolution with enlistees going home after a short contractual hitch? If they deserted Washington and Hamilton conducted firing squads.

    I consider myself a humorist as well as a cartoonist. Sometimes an outlying opinion gives me an easy joke. I am 54 and have never even been to Boy Scout camp, let alone the services. I think if you and I met in a Panera Bread or Duncan Donuts for a chat we'd both be saying completely different things than we write on this blog.

    Medical care is a serious issue in modern times where our Constitution never considered the perversion or power of multinational corporations, or medical schools that teach business, or phamaceutical firms allowed to market anything with the least effect and unproven harm. Our representatives are more like fictional celebrity characters than people we know. I dreamt about Barack with a laurel wreath on his head in Roman times last night. The Romans would start a war of empire, draft farmers and take their land and wives while they were deployed.It cost them in local food production.

    You'll get out, Michael, and I hope you're ready to try something new, not go into selling cars or exterminating termites. You'd make a good entrepreneur, maybe in the solar or wind industry. Write down this email: beretco.op@hotmail.com
    And feel free to contact me after this hitch. I don't think stubborn ideals should be any object to working on common interests. That is what is wrong now: People who have an overlap of interest and agreement alienated from one another. Frum almost understands it, but either is a deceitful player, or just doesn't get it. I guess you have read his columns: too much emphasis on demographics and Boomer-hating. You know how people approach by joking, and somehow friendship results?

    P.S.- Maybe I ran my mouth too much on crude oil futures. They haven't quite risen to my expectations. (But heating oil remains well above $2.25 here, in NC- cold tootsies this winter.) I'll probably return to Jersey just as a hurricane hits, and I can't ever start my chainsaw without a service charge....

    I listen to the Journal last night and was amazed at Mr. Frum wanting the government to take over health care from the states. I would like to know where in the Constitution gives the government the right to be involved in banks, automobile industry, and now health care?

    Also, with the plans being discussed is health care going to be provided to any one not a United States citizen?

    Thanks

    Thank you for providing a space for a level-headed voice to be heard from the conservative side of politics.

    You could have held Mr. Frum's feet more to the fire. He was a member of the George W. Bush administration, a Conservative administration that increased our national debt to alarming levels. Conservatives opposed to health insurance reform for "cost" reasons must be held to account for their responsibility in increasing our debt levels and overall insecurity as a nation to handle serious threats to our health and prosperity.

    There is an entreprenurial and competitive business advantage in the US de-linking health insurance and employment. Many more Americans would freelance and create more new businesses if they had insurance that stayed with them.

    What would media coverage be like if all of us who did not have health insurance were to strap guns to our legs and shout angrily at members of Congress like what we've seen recently?

    DC, think of it as a habit that has been established even if one knows they must change it still requires concerted effort and retraining to get finally be comfortable with it. This is called our Comfort Zone. Individuals, groups, businesses everyone has them. Moving out of a comfort zone is UNCOMFORTABLE and most will do everything in their power-even though it is limiting to themselves and /or others- to stay comfortable. Sadly, it usually takes a major shock(force) to the system to move us into new territory. Our elected officials are no different and since we do not all speak with the same voice and or power they usually make judgments based on how it will affect their comfort zone. Only when their is no way to avoid it will they "embrace" it! Except in a very few instances, we don't have- and haven't for quite some time- elected officials who statesmen and women that stand on principles based on what is the right thing to do rather than live life in the comfort zone. If this level of political process and discourse had existed 200+ years ago the United States of America would not exist- we would still be a colony of England.

    To whom it may concern,
    Why has the necessary life saving reform of the health care system turned into a freak show?
    Our law makers are responsible for the welfare of the people of this nation. We the people vote them into office and pay them to do that job not kowtow to vested interests.

    "If time imposes on us its evolution, place also imposes upon us its reality."
    Gamal Abdel Nasser

    Reality is a dynamic system of viable change to create a functional world system. Evolution is the expression of that reality.
    DE

    How well do [I] think the media has informed the public about the complex issues of health reform?

    Considering that a majority of people get a majority of their news from commercial television, it stands to reason that a majority of Americans are not very well informed about the complex issues of health reform. I'm sure information about complex health reform issues is out there somewhere, but you wouldn't know it from mainstream TV.

    Most mainstream TV reporting is hopelessly bogged down in the tit for tat disputes egged on by attendees of town hall meetings, who frankly seem to me to be adrenaline freaks seeking attention. Can anyone remember what issues were actually brought up at these outburst orgies other than wild accusations?

    As if that weren't enough, now mainstream TV reporting is telling us, in a virtual way by its focus, that an integral part of health reform has something to do with bringing guns to town hall meetings to express second ammendment issues. Aside from the obvious that guns and health are at least a non-sequitur, and at worst a conceptual contradiction, we should all consider two things; 1.)a weapon unused is a useless weapon, and 2.)when was the last time you personally had to bury the results of their use?

    Ah well, what else can we expect? After all, it is in fact the primary goal of any business to make a profit. For mainstream TV, that business happens to be selling their viewers as customers to advertisers. Considering that, is it any wonder that reaction generating images of gun toting idiots yelling 'Nazi health reform' at meetings, earns more advertising profit than a reasoned considered debate?

    We have met the enemy of health reform, and he is us.

    Meanwhile, what dimensions of health reform deserve more scrutiny? Three words: cost, quality and access. Sure everyone needs to make a living, but the existence of an insurance company in healthcare is inherently an unnecessary middle-man, with no other useful function than to siphon off money. Healthcare should be run along the lines of an efficient publicly owned utility.

    It is time to rethink what we have in common. A debate about how we can grant each other as much freedom as possible, while still holding all accountable.
    A truly PUBLIC forum where all who wish can attend, and for once, no one claiming to 'represent' anyone else.
    We have the technology for such an event.
    We have the will of enough people to do carry it through.
    We need a catalyst.

    Bill,
    thanks for doing a program series on health insurance reform. I am a currently unemployed 55yo, who has just lost Cobra "right to continue purchasing", my former health insurance plan. Have had to argue with my "carrier" to obtain a Hipaa certificate of elegibility, not to speak of endless calls to correct obtusely wrong billing statements (ie: I was sent a statement demonstrating I've been covered for 2years by an HMO with no operations in my area...). I very much need a "Public Option", or a very regulated and monitored, non-profit option.
    As someone stated in the excellent Frontline documentary on this subject quite some time ago: the only way to have enough money to provide healthcare for all is to take out the profit from health care.

    I largely agree with De Teodorus above.

    However, what the shouting matches in the media are proving is that our educational system has failed several generations in the lower economic classes: people are ignorant and easy prays for fear mongering.

    As to what I know of the 5 Bills pending in Congress: little to nothing.

    As to the role of the media currently: cheap sensationalism for ratings and profit, with rare exceptions. Most of the so-called media (newspapers and "cable" channels) are just another crappy product I've started to save money on by canceling one and tuning out the other.

    Until massive street demonstrations happen in favor of affordable universal coverage (different from free coverage), it will not happen I don't believe...


    Not to muzzle freedom of speech, but there really needs to be a word limit on this blog so it doesn't get hijacked....

    IS OBAMA FULL OF BUSH-IT? At a Conyers townhall for his single-payer bill some months back I pointed out that if the bill passes we would never get the universal health care we want because there are not enough physicians to do all the preventive care, the health care and the chronic care needed. Furthermore, doctors' offices and hospital are so swamped with the unmanageably large volume of patients needed to cover the overhead of their practices that they don't have time to update their knowledge to the cutting edge stuff on whose threshold we now stand....And it gets worse. HMOs in effect decide what tests and therapies patients get-- not the doctors and patients. Vendors for office supplies-- clerical and medical-- charge a fortune at high mark-up for everything that is "for medical use," including garbage disposal. I need not mention insurance. Between doctor and patient there are deep layers of "entrepreneurs" (French for the-taker-in-between) who produce nothing, just cannibalize you in your desperate and vulnerable moments needing health care for outrageous profits. So the best reform we can get, if providing universal access to health care is Obama's only goal, is 1950s medical care for all because we won't be able to afford the needed revolution in medicine required to make it up-to-date. A modern high-tech health-care system demands a big up front investment that eventually makes for amazing cut in expense due to prevention and modernization. Without that investment there can be NO AFFORDABLE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE because 1950s medicine is expensive, not preventive, and bureaucratically a nightmare open for fraud. That up front capital to modernize and reform, FOR PROFIT HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS *REFUSE* TO LAY OUT. Therefore, there can be only one healthcare provider able and willing to lay out the up front costs: THE FEDERAL UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. Of course, since it would allow no cherry-picking of patients, no varied bureaucracies each with its own policies and continued expensive proprietary price-fixing such as today's Bush-made Part D drug coverage for Medicare, nor will it protects the corporate monopoly interests of HMOs and PHARMA, it could soon provide costs decreases and high-quality health care in general far exceeding Canada's or Europe's. As doctors are better payed (a doctor gets per hour of patient care less than a plumber) and are given payed time to educate themselves in updating programs, they can bring genomics on line providing tailored to your genetic make-up medicine and can begin to pass beyond the current shooting blind of PHARMA. The 20% of the nation's dollars-pot for healthcare (12% of GDP) set aside for coporate dividends for investors in the for profit industry will be available for healthcare instead of for profits. Our Senators and Congressmen can be used by the same raging townhall ravers, keeping the feet of Congress in the fire, to make sure that what our national healthcare non-profit single-payer system provides us the best in the world. Unlike HMOs, the Gov can sent the FBI to catch cheats, be they at the top or the bottom of the healthcare food chain. No sane person can doubt that decisions made on the basis of proven medical science by the Federal single payer are worse than heartless decisions made by the many for-profit HMOs based on their profit margins. If Obama accepts some plan that allows for-profits to monopolize healthcare again, then, like many Democrats in Congress, he will prove to be, not for change, but just for the same old Bush-it!

    Could those of you without anything meaningful to say and who just want to "hear" yourself pontificate online without sticking to the topic please take it offline? Some of us are interested in meaningful feedback...

    I withdraw the desire to see people in the insurance industry suffer.
    That would be doing the same thing they do.
    I just want them to go away and find useful pursuits.

    Anyone else notice how casually Drew Altman tosses off the 'mandatory' aspect of Obama's plan?
    I wonder how much the insurance industry is paying him to pimp for them.
    I also wonder if the MANDATORY system will cover someone who refuses toxic vaccines.
    Here's another question:
    What purpose do Insurance Companies serve?
    They are parasites...considering how many people have suffered from insurance neglect, I would be overjoyed to watch them all go bankrupt and their boards destitute.

    BVA -

    I find your post odd.

    I'm wondering (forgive me if Im wrong), are you in fact working for the insurance industry?

    On the PBS Newshour shown on Aug 18 2009, there was an interview with Aetna CEO (remember Aetna? they are the ones that rescinded 8 million customers...to save money?)

    So anyway... on two occassions the CEO of Aetna, Ron williams said 'we have to slow down the rate of increase
    of healthcare services'. It seemed out of place to me.

    I think I get it though. this is a new strategy (probably one of many) which intends to argue against public option by declaring that the rate of increase of healthcare services is so massive that the government would surely go broke trying to keep up with it. and even more so because people having unfettered access to healthcare would take advantage of all services offered.

    and so Id like to point out once again that we the US spend by far the most on healthcare and we get much less for it.
    Even the Lewin Group says that a public private hybrid will be cheaper on nearly everyone than a private only system.

    Perhaps Im just being paranoid but Im suspicious of the CEO of Aetna and his motives.

    BVA -

    I find your post odd.

    I'm wondering (forgive me if Im wrong), are you in fact working for the insurance industry?

    On the PBS Newshour shown on Aug 18 2009, there was an interview with Aetna CEO (remember Aetna? they are the ones that rescinded 8 million customers...to save money?)

    So anyway... on two occassions the CEO of Aetna, Ron williams said 'we have to slow down the rate of increase
    of healthcare services'. It seemed out of place to me.

    I think I get it though. this is a new strategy (probably one of many) which intends to argue against public option by declaring that the rate of increase of healthcare services is so massive that the government would surely go broke trying to keep up with it. and even more so because people having unfettered access to healthcare would take advantage of all services offered.

    and so Id like to point out once again that we the US spend by far the most on healthcare and we get much less for it.
    Even the Lewin Group says that a public private hybrid will be cheaper on nearly everyone than a private only system.

    Perhaps Im just being paranoid but Im suspicious of the CEO of Aetna and his motives.

    TREASON

    DEAR MR. MOYER, I AM WRITING YOU, TO BRING TO YOUR ATTENTION, 'THE ILLEGAL HUMAN EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH,' THAT IS ON GOING, HERE IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, PA., TODAY. IT INVOLVES INTEGRATED BIO-TECHNOLOGY, THAT HAS BEEN USED, TO 'BREACH SECURITY ON ALL LEVELS, OF GOVERNMENTAL POLICY MAKING, TO ANTI-TRUST ETHICS OF HISTORICAL PROPORTIONS AND CORPORATE ESPIONAGE, THAT HAS EVER BEEN REPORTED!' THERE ARE MANY WITHIN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, 'WHO HAVE CRISS CROSSED THE LINES OF TREASON, NUMEROUS TIMES!' YET, THIS DEVASTATING BIO-TECHNOLOGY IS UNDETECTABLE, UNLESS YOU ARE INFORMED, WHERE TO LOOK AND WHAT INSTRUMENTS/ DEVICES CAN BE DEPLOYED, TO IDENTIFY IT! 'THIS IS NOT A BLUE STATE OR A RED STATE ISSUE, NOR IS IT A DEMOCRAT VERSUS A REPUBLICAN ISSUE, ITS' A WORLD ISSUE, THAT AFFECTS, US ALL!' 'I AM PROOF,' OF THIS DEVASTATING BIO-TECHNOLOGY EXISTING AND WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS WITH YOU, WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, 'IMMEDIATELY, TO HINDER ITS' FURTHER GROWTH!' THIS HAS TO BE, 'THE NUMBER ONE HEALTH CARE ISSUE, THAT AMERICANS NEED TO BE DISCUSSING YESTERDAY!'

    APPRECIATIVELY, William W. Thomas - EL II. (www.ijustwanttobehuman@gmail.com)

    Criticisms of Aug 14, 2009 discussion of Obama's very practical and 'spot on' comments on medical economics by McLaughlin group.

    Ironically just before this week's BM Journal program the McLaughlin group had a most obtuse discussion I've heard so far on healthcare reform. Most of the MG panel appear to be entirely ignorant of the work of the Dartmouth Group and Dr. John Wennberg in documenting that almost of the medical care provided in the US is unnecessary, does not improve health, wastes enormous amounts of money, and slightly increases the rate of mortality. Their ignorance displaying comments were about two comments by Obama that were taken out of context and characterized by McLaughlin as 'cheap shots'.

    In response I posted the following comments on the MG website.

    [Selected MG comments at the end are from the MG transcript.]

    To the McLaughlin group:

    There is a large body of medical literature going back to the early 1970s that definitively demonstrates that the demand for services in the medical care market is what medical economists call "supply-driven demand". The scientific validity of these studies and their findings is unchallenged by any studies of comparable rigor. The findings of these studies have been replicated over and over. And the authors of subsequent studies have come to similar conclusions.

    There is a growing body of lay literature popularizing the findings and conclusions of this medical literature of "supply-driven demand". Apparently you and your panel are completely ignorant of the popular literature and these studies. One extrapolation of this literature is the conservative estimate that 30% of healthcare services delivered each year in America are unnecessary! I have included a small list of reading suggestions at the end of this email.

    There was a glimmer hope that Mort Zuckerman might actually move the conversation into a more productive direction when he mentioned "fee for service" as the main driver of escalating healthcare costs. But Mr. McLaughlin interrupted him and closed off that line of discussion. It is one thing to try to keep the discussion on the political dimensions of an issue, but when you do so at the expense of ignoring the real substance of that issue not only do you risk being irrelevant, but also appearing petty, simplistic, and ignorant at the same time. Your initial Aug 14th discussion succeeded magnificently at accomplishing all three of these goals at once.

    Doctors may do 'great favors' for Mr. Buchanan given his considerable net worth and his significant celebrity status, but the rest of us regular people are not getting any 'great favors' from anybody in the American medical market. Mr. Buchanan is always interesting whether it's for his absurd ideological conclusions or lucid professional political insight.

    I despair every time I hear Eleanor Clift try to get a word in edgewise. Even when she does temporarily get floor she sounds so desperate to make the playground bullies play fair that it is more annoying than enlightening. I preferred Jack Germond's confident style of waiting for the end of the mostly foolish commentary before calmly deflating the nonsense. I fancy that Jack would have said like 'if this panel does not realize how 'spot on' Obama's comments are about the current state of medical care in America, than you are way too ignorant for me to try to enlighten'.

    You guys all need to read a couple of books before it is worth anybody's time to try to dispute your attitudes (and that's all they are right now). You don't yet know enough about the substance of this issue for your statements to rise to the level of either sophistry or enlightenment.

    Reading list: 1) "Overtreated" by Shannon Brownlee, 2007, Bloomsbury books. 2) "More Harm than good" by Alan Zelicoff, M.D. and Michael Bellamo, 2008, AMACOM books. 3) "Money-Driven Medicine: the real reason health care costs so much" by Maggie Mahar, 2006, HarperCollins. 4) "Cost Conundrum, The" by Atul Gawande, June 1, 2009, The New Yorker (Annals of Medicine) [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande , or http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande?printable=true] 5) Anything you find on line by the "Dartmouth Team", John E. Wennberg, Elliot Fisher, or Jonathan Skinner. You could also visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wennberg, dartmouthatlas.com, and healthaffairs.org.

    Selected quotes from the transcript:
    MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A cheap shot? Tonsillectomies for a quick buck? Whatever. These words triggered this response from the American College of Surgeons, self-described as, quote, "a scientific and educational organization that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice," unquote. The college has more than 76,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

    What they said, quote: "That remark of President Obama was ill- informed and dangerous, and we were dismayed by this characterization of the work surgeons do. Surgeons make decisions about recommending operations based on what's right for the patient," unquote.

    Question: Was it a mistake for President Obama to suggest that a surgeon would remove a child's tonsils in order to make more money? Mort.

    MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. I mean, it's the kind of political charge in this environment that, in my judgment, is not going to get him anywhere. But what he is going for and is talking about is the fee- for-services program, whereby every single procedure, every single visit, every single prescription, is a part of the bill that is paid for by the federal government. And right now there are no incentives to keep that system under control. That's what he didn't introduce in his health-care program and what he should have done, because that's what's causing runaway health-care costs, which is what the country knows we have, and what we know we have to do --...............


    Question: Was it a mistake for President Obama to suggest that a surgeon would amputate a foot in order to make more money?............

    MR. BUCHANAN: John, this is an utterly shameful, contemptible thing to say about doctors. Many of us have had great favors done for us by doctors. But I'll tell you this. Him []keep coming back to that, that reflects who he is and where he comes from. Now, he ran a great campaign as a moderate. What is coming out is a hard leftist, anti- capitalist, socialist.

    [It is a further irony that the first research by Wennberg involved an investigation of almost 3 fold regional differences in the rate of tonsillectomies in the fairly homogeneous state of Vermont.]


    BVA

    nlf, as much as it pains me i will defend frumm and -oh my God- leiberman at least to a point. Seeing and/or agreeing with another person's/party's view on a particular issue is not treasonous it is the mark of a true statesperson. We have spent WAY to much time focused on party politics that could/should have been spent on governing that it makes my heartache. What if all the energy, time and money that is spent bashing the other side-from both sides- would have been put to solving real concerns. The possibility of what we could have accomplished is awesome and sad.

    Liberman is so lost he doesn't even seem to know why he is in office and should be retired either by self or by vote. To me he is a sad figure. I read an article by another Republican who also questioned why almost every vote on every issue is on party lines. Doesn't anybody from either party have any question/concern/idea that is not in line with "their party"? When did we become a country that worships at the feet of the PARTY!! That is very sad and very scary!

    David Frum, is this the same breed as Lieberman. These two, together with the "Blue Dogs" need to the tared with feathes and left in the sun.

    What right has these people to change parties from one to the other. They are traitors, looking for gain and nothing else. They should not be left in the media and should not be consulted.

    There doesn't seem to be a two party or three party system.

    This is why American cannot change. The only time it will change is when The 5% of the people who control this country come to their knees.

    LDW, you are correct-the difference between healthcare and other large ticket items is exactly as state and more-it is a LIFE decision. We need to think about babies and elderly, those with chronic conditions such as asthma, those with cancer and those needing transplants, those with colds and flu, ways to keep us healthy, those with special needs, aging and all that goes with it, hospice and end of life issues because and the list goes on. This could be you or a loved one or somebody that donated an organ to a friend of a friend of a friend. It could be someone who-had they lived- would have come up with synthetic blood or a cure for the common cold. These are the issues that need to be seriously thought about before giving and easy or soundbite response. It is a very tough job. As I posed the question I was thinking, "Geez, I know what I don't want but how do I articulate what I DO want and at this stage of my life know all that I will need in the future. And I don't want to be focused so much on me that I leave others needs and concerns-that are as important to them as mine are to me-out."

    In response to Mark Davis, we have already tried a similar project and it FAILED BIG TIME- it called the financial crisis we are currently in. Free marketers hollered about regulations so they were deregulated or worse-unregulated and look wat that produced and that was BEFORE public money was needed BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO BIG TO FAIL and would have had so much collateral damage that was deemed unacceptable. Now you are proposing a similar idea and throwing in PUBLIC money from the start. The disaster that will surely come from this will make the current situation look like a picnic. We don't run fire prevention- sorry your didn't pay your yearly premium so we won't put out the fire- that way because their is a GREATER PUBLIC INTEREST to not doing that-the fire can spread, cost lives etc. Same thing with the police and why have any standing army BECAUSE these issues are broad-based and not individual specific. The same is true for health-care. If someone has the flu or a cold or contracts a contagious disease it affects others. Medical issues ALWAYS affect others- in some way- whether as a parent needing to take off work to be with a sick or hurt child, spouse, elderly family neighbor etc. or after 3 sleepless nights in a row must return to work and gets into an accident and the list no on. These issues are with each and every day in some way-even if you don't want to admit it or can't see it-THEY DO affect all of us. If this doesn't make it a PUBLIC issue I'm not sure what does and just as has been demonstrated PUBLIC issues are better(notice I didn't say perfectly) solved with Public responses.

    "What do you want? Focus on that first! Isn't that what you do when buying a car/ house or any other large ticket item? You focus on what you want; then you decide how much you are wiling/able to spend and make the necessary-sometimes unhappy/distasteful/unavoidable etc. decisions/choices of how to bring the purchase in line with what we have to spend? So, what do you-I, me,we-want in our healthcare?

    Posted by: Carl maurer"

    What advocates of universal, single payer healthcare realize is that no healthy young person can purchase health insurance in the way the purchase any 'large ticket item', because no one really knows what their chances are of coming down with a major illness, or having a major injury. Also, under the present system, an insured person can lose their insurance if they change jobs, and even if they had adequate coverage at the previous job, 'pre-conditions' can make them permanently ineligible for coverage. One can also be denied coverage retroactively, because the insurance company finds some minor innaccuracy in the person's application. When making a claim on the house insurance because of a fire, one can't have the policy revoked because they didn't mention the ant infestation they had last summer.

    I'd like to see a return to basics with a thoughtful, carefully constructed 'Consumer's Report' style report regarding quantifiable features of various working models of healthcare systems so I can best make up my own mind about what is working and what needs to be changed.

    Selected important criteria such as percentage of people covered, numbers of tests/surgeries performed, average costs, etc. are objectively tested, results examined and printed out in a straightforward manner for comparison. And then I write my congressional representatives, and then I vote. All the political intrigue and intricacies, name calling and fact falsifying etc... creative energies which I, for one, would like to see better and more healthfully applied.

    Michael Labeit,
    Like maaann; profits are like what a famous prophet said, "What profit it a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul".

    My bad bro, sorry about the greed thing; maybe you prefer "insatiable appetite for money”.
    Bon appetite
    Personally, what irks me is when people are clueless and think they know it all.

    Susan Richardson,
    Maybe if you were one of the 22,000 who die each year under our current "health plan" you would be more concerned; or not.

    susan - you may not like it
    but an Urban Institue study at

    http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411588_uninsured_dying.pdf

    demonstrates 22,000 EXTRA deaths which can be tied to not having insurance (or since I think insurance is irrelevant - no access to healthcare due to lack of money)
    money money money.

    and Carl - I wasnt trying to 'trap' anybody. I simply need to find a language that Micheal understands. you seem to be doing much better though so enjoy the conversation. good luck.

    Carl, the existing system is a fascist system that benefits the well connected, including, perhaps especially, insurance companies. There is no reform to the existing system that can change this. I certainly don't like, accept or wish to defend this system and hope that you've followed me close enough to see that. Still, transforming a fascist system into a communist system is not an improvement for anybody.
    That Michael makes an exception to the rule (that free-markets provide goods and services better than government monopolies) with the use of retaliatory force (catching bad guys) is an inconsistency that I’ll let him explain. The arguments I’ve made stand on their own as do Michaels, so don’t let this peripheral disagreement distract you from them.

    Mrk I almost fortgot. HMO's the health insurances answer was a hoax from the very beginning. They used data collected from the healthist part of the population, extrapolated it to the entire population and told us they could deliver the SAME LEVEL of service WHILE lowering costs. Pure BS, and after a few years it became clear that they would actaully have to drastically increase premiums, decrase service or in some case both. And these are the types of companies we want ust to entrust our health to without any oversight trusting in the "wisdom of the free market"? That's some trance you are in!

    Mark, even you and Michael can't seem to agree on something this basic. Yet you support the same healthcare optiona and seem to sincerly think that this would be good for us. What do you think will happen when those who don't share your ideals coopt this system to line their pockets. We know where one payer systems are and their good and bad points. Please point me to one country, preferably a large and diverse one that currently uses it and has had any success it. All I see it as is taking away the best of what works now and enhancing what doesn't. How does taking tax money and giving it to insurance companies yield free market anything. A number of people have written and I agree insurance companies-especially as regards health-are middle men and PRODUCE NOTHING- other then INCREASING the cost of health-care. This is anything but free-market capitalism. It is however socialized income to private companies. You have made has convinced me that a single payer system is the best and most logical choice. I would be willing to temporaliy accept a public option so that this debate can be laid to rest once and for all. Thank you for your help

    I argue for limited government and against libertarian anarchism here:

    http://coroners-bureau.blogspot.com/2009/04/on-epistemological-problem-of-anarchy.html

    Michael, "limited government" is an oxymoron. Once you create a monopoly on the use of force, it will be taken over by those whom wish to control society. Even with good intentions those who would "wear the ring" will be corrupted. Justice and security are goods/services, just like healthcare, food, shelter, etc. Further coercion is used if people must pay for your justice system with money taken by force. Surely you see that the current government justice system is wrought with injustice, incompetence, and inefficiencies? These traits are inherent in state imposed monopolies, including justice.

    Since this is off topic here I would be happy to debate this issue at your website at another time.

    Carl, government interventions always increase costs whether or not they are "designed to lower costs" or not. That's just another lie that politicians tell. The FDA is a tool used by the Big Pharma cartel to squelch small competitors/new entries just like every other government regulatory agency. It is supposed to protect the consumer, but it ends up protecting the big corporations from competition by making it impossible for new companies to afford getting started.

    Insurance companies should not have to cover people for a pre-existing health condition any more than they should have to write fire insurance to a homeowner whose house is already on fire. Surely this is obvious.

    As for people in need that can't take care of themselves there is charity. The amount of charity people will provide is directly undermined by the belief that one's taxes already covers it. When the government steals from people to supposedly provide charity, then people give less to real charities.

    Health care and health insurance would be much more accessible to poor people if the free-market were allowed to operate and bring costs down. Check out how many poor people had good health care available prior to the 1960's when Medicare screwed it up, I think you'd be surprised.

    The utopian dream of "free" healthcare for everyone with no rationing is impossible. It is criminal for politicians to get people excited about such a childish idea. We already have subsidized health care and heavily regulated health insurance, which is the problem. More subsidies and more regulations will just make matters worse. The insanity of wanting Big Brother to take care of us must stop before it kills us.

    Grady,

    I enlisted at 17 *before* I became a free market advocate. Am I now prohibited from changing my convictions? And even if I really wanted to quit, I can't. Its called going "awol" and its prosecutable.

    Of course, anything to keep "Lebait" from the Bill Moyer's blog to counter my arguments.

    Second, my advocacy of the free-market does not prohibit me in anyway from simultaneously endorsing limited government: a court system, law enforcement, and military armed forces. A limited government is necessary in my mind to ensure that the administration of justice, a coercive undertaking, is done properly. Justice is different from other goods because it, unlike things like healthcare, involves coercion and therefore has the potential to be administered in a rights-violating way.

    Third, our government isn't going to be limited anytime soon so IF (conditional proposition now) we are going to pay taxes, I believe they ought to be primarily allocated towards financing our court system, our law enforcement, and our military.

    Big government or no government is a false alternative.

    You want to talk about contract murder:

    "Should he join XE for human trafficking, contract murder, arms dealing, profiteering and generalized rape? He's at least as badass as Eric Prince."

    You had better be careful and take D's advice because your character is about to commit suicide.

    if i hear one more time that 22,000 people die each year under our current "health" plan... I am going to get sick. 10,000 people ALONE die from the common Flu every year...it has NOTHING to do with our current health plan

    if i hear one more time that 22,000 people die each year under our current "health" plan... I am going to get sick. 10,000 people ALONE die from the common Flu every year...it has NOTHING to do with our current health plan

    Mark, I just went to the site AS SHOULD EVERONE THAT READS THIS! It is SCARY STUFF! Eliminate medical schools and have competing schools that insurance companies would decide if they would decide if the school should be accredited. NO "subsidized support" for the support for the sick. Insurance companies allowed to decide what their pool would include/exclude etc. No FDA or anything to stand between producer and consumer- "designed to lower costs" While this may look ok on the surface I have serious concerns that free of any and all regulations will lead to free market sale of good and bad with each person having to verify each and every product with companies roll in profits. As for insurance we have have seen what happens anytime home insurers try to collect for something. They create CLUE files. Little known outside the industry with formulas as convoluted and secret as credit scores. Score to high- may be dropped and very hard to find get insurance and may even effect your ability to sell. Apply this to health we have the makings of a system will only cover healthy people. You or a loved one develop health issues like asthma you might be in a different pool. You have a loved one with special needs you could see premiums skyrocket. The two most expensive health times are early in life and late in life. Now what do you think will happen if we have "free market" with the elderly. Can you say "death panels". Oh they won't show up like that they will just be priced so high that they are unaffordable and will die from like of insurance.

    To be fair this proposal does include a provision for tax credits and vouchers. But how is that than "free market". Just another football to kick around to get political points and I also go back to the homeowners and car insurance companies and how they currently operate. Is that really how we want our healthcare? I sure don't!

    D.C. Eddy

    Dude, what's profit??? Profit is a positive difference between an entreprenuer's gross revenue and costs of production. When an entrepreneur earns a profit, that means he has successfully satisfied consumer demand - *people are buying his stuff!* People tend to buy stuff they like. If an entrepreneur sells stuff to people, he is offering stuff they like, i.e., looking out for their welfare, their interests.

    What, do you think entrepreneurs make money in some vacuum? In a free-market, the more profits an entrepreneur makes, the more consumer demand he has saitisfied. Surely this is not difficult. I at the tender young age of 21 have managed to comprehend.

    Histeria over "windfall" profits and income inequality is squarely contingent upon erroneous notions of production and economics. People believe wealth takes the form of one big "pie" and they become concerned with divvying out portions to different people. Wealth however does not take the form of a "pie" or of an aggregate. Its is generated by assembling the factors of production and using them to manufacturing goods consumers want. As stated earlier, in a market economy people are paid in accordance with their productivity, their ability to satisfy the demands of the buying public. That's that.

    D.C. Eddy writes,

    "Without regulation greed sets in and then chaos and the nation goes to rack and ruin as it has at the present time"

    I have come to learn, through arguments with antagonists such as yourself, that the clincher that tells me my opponent does not know enough of economics is when he/she blames socio-economic problems on greed. Greed is always the scapegoat, always that convenient menace that laymen ultimately refer to when it comes to explaning social dilemmas. "Greed did it" is the poor man's argument. It doesn't say anything, nor does it pave the way for sensible public policies. And greed is always pushed a private sector phenomena, as if politicians are immune to it.

    Mark, thank you for responding. A follow-up question-and this is not intended as a trap or a trick- how would one go about making that affordable for the masses. Especially given the fact of high unemployment wide range in payscales family sizes need etc. Wouldn't that require additional monies from somewhere ie government subsidies, employers required to raise wages etc. At this point I don't see any other way for average people to purchase it otherwise. Would everyone be required to be covered and/or how would hospitals deal with anyone uninsured?

    My plan? Michael has already mentioned and I too endorse Dr. Hoppe's "plan" to dismantle the horrible system we have:

    "We have no capitalist healthcare system whatsoever. A genuine capitalist healthcare system would recognize private property rights and involve no sort of coercive intervention from the government. Read Hans Hermann Hoppe's perspective on the healthcare situation at http://mises.org/story/3643 ."

    Did any of you read it? Health care is like any other good or service. The free-market is the most efficient system to provide goods and services.

    My question is are you seeking a rational way to provide the best, most affordable healthcare to the most people or are you looking for a way to have somebody else pay for your healthcare? These are two totally different goals. The first goal is compatible with liberty while the second is not.

    Capitalism:

    controls the country. The Rich own the poor. There is no justice for the poor man who fights corporations.

    How in the world you call this a democratic society? Why is there no justice for the People that take civil cases and are overuled by the juddges?.

    All organizations that are supposed to help, turn the other cheek, I am surprised that this is worse than the Third-World Countries. This I experience, only in Arizona, I don't know if the other states are the same.

    Bill Moyers, why not go for the true problems that are happening in this country, instead of just lip serviceing, we don't need you.

    Grady,in your little rants-whether or not you know it- you are coming across as nutty as Michael and are only adding to fuel the extreme right and "prove their Point". For the sake of healthcare and all the other important issues that need attention please refrain-at least on this forum- from giving them ammunition to shoot back at the rest of us that are trying to hold it together.

    "Let us be lovers. We'll marry our fortunes together.." Get a room: Marry him!

    dark-haired wiggle: Captcha

    Dave, you are missing the bigger picture. Trying to set a trap for Michael will not work because -as he has demonstrated- he loves words and will always find a way to disprove whatever you say. All this playing with words takes distracts us from the troubling issues at hand. Michael, while good with words, is not so good when it comes to action as he presents no plan to accomplish what he suggests. This type of "dialogue" serves no useful purpose and should be relegated to the pile that contains other assorted silliness like, "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" or "If God really is God why can't He/She/It make a rock that He/She/It can't lift?" Let's get back to health care

    I'll throw something out to start the ball rolling. Along the lines of what I posted to Mark?Michael other than a single payer system what do you want, need, would like to see in a health plan? Since Congress seems to not know/care/understand-take your pick what to do let's start a dialogue on WHAT WE WANT. Just for a moment, forget about the hper-zealots on BOTH sides and focus on the overwhelming majority who aren't in front of the cameras? What do you want? Focus on that first! Isn't that what you do when buying a car/ house or any other large ticket item? You focus on what you want; then you decide how much you are wiling/able to spend and make the necessary-sometimes unhappy/distasteful/unavoidable etc. decisions/choices of how to bring the purchase in line with what we have to spend? So, what do you-I, me,we-want in our healthcare?

    I've always admired the work of Robert Crum and now I will emulate him. Thanks to inspiration of this blog I gave created and am illustrating a new comic: Sergeant Lebait.
    1. He is an indentured servant (soldier) with socialized government health care who pontificates on a liberty he has never known and tries to trash all his own benefits.
    2. While railing against taxes he serves corporate masters (on the side when not warring) who levy a heavier burden than the government ever conceived of. Doing this, he advances the interests of the very forces that would negate his cartoon libertarianism.
    3. He has no personal life (apparently) from which to theorize about a wife and kids, older parents, or other people around him in a community. Maybe he is soon to abandon the body for robocopdom?

    I could use some help with storylines. Should he go down Colombia for a big haul of coke to distribute to car dealers for dealer pick-up? Should he join XE for human trafficking, contract murder, arms dealing, profiteering and generalized rape? He's at least as badass as Eric Prince. Really, I'm serious. Send story ideas. But remember I have to draw all this stuff.

    Should he break down and admit that single payer is the only way (read HR 676) and that he just wants most people and civilization to die so he can ravage whatever is left in an adolescent teenaged rage? Send me your drawings too. He can vary in his misery just like American Spender.

    Micheal -

    The FED is not the only cause of inflation.

    The wealthy have much greater buying power than the poor. It is this buying power that causes an increase in the cost of goods and services.

    I gaurantee you that if people with ten times as much money as you move into your neighborhood, then you are going to see your prices rise.
    Any increase in consumption without and equal increase in supply will raise prices. even with an equal increase in supply, prices will seek the highest point that 'the average citizen' can pay.
    the problem is that when you average a rich mans income with a poor mans income, you come up with a number that is impossible for the poor man to afford and easy for the rich man to afford.

    The wealth of the wealthy causes a burden on the poor. thats why its OK to ask them to pay more in taxes.
    but apparently most hedge fund managers and most corporations dont even begin to pay a fair share.

    warren Buffet said his secretary paid a higher effective tax rate than he did.

    Dave - a deductive syllogism

    -Some wealthy individuals control the Fed

    -The Fed causes inflation

    -Therefore, some wealthy individuals cause inflation

    Central banking cause inflation, nothing else.

    Michael Labiet,
    Oi Vay, I would like to suggest that you take a logic class so that you know when your conclusions do not follow your premises.
    Capitalists are not concerned with human welfare; they are concerned with making a profit. The Government is responsible for the welfare of the people. It is up to the government to prevent capitalists from taking advantage of the people. Without regulation greed sets in and then chaos and the nation goes to rack and ruin as it has at the present time.
    Our government has been corrupted by capitalist lobbyists. What I propose is make the government responsible for an efficient system of economics based on equity and justice. Otherwise, we face disastrous times ahead. If you see a train coming and you are standing on the tracks; it is time to get off the tracks.
    While you are a smart person; you need a good dose of common sense.
    Your confusion is dangerous.
    Like I told my son who has a very high I.Q., a photographic memory and high comprehension, "It is nice to be smart but it is also smart to be nice".
    You could also use a whole lot more empathy for other people. A sociopath by any other name is still a sociopath. Just friendly advice.

    Thanks for taking on this issue, I wish Public TV and The Journal would do even more...Current developments with Town Hall meetings point to the need for Public media to engage citizens in dialogue directly. A citizens video forum is now emerging and it is a chaotic lowest-common-denominator situation – because no one offers the people a point of entry into this important discussion. Ironically, despite "public" media's reluctance to let people contribute their opinions on TV, the loudest disruptor's opinions are featured on TV news shows across the land, while elected reps run for cover, and the great majority is denied a voice.

    Mark Davis -

    do you oppose the public option?

    If so, why?
    Is it simply based on 'theft' (aka taxes)?

    many studies have shown that including a public option will lower overall healthcare costs for nearly everyone while providing care many more than now.

    22,000 Americans die each year under our current system.

    Correction. My last response was supposed to be directed to Mark. If Michael so chooses it might be interesting to hear his views on this as well

    Ok Michael I'm going to put my money were my mouth is AND to everyone else I ask that you BE RESPESCTFUL if you disagree! In an earlier post today you spoke about getting rid of the chains of tyranny. Getting back to health-care- how would you go about resolving this current and escalating crisis?On this subject what do you see as the current issues that are the sticking points? Are there important things that you see not being discussed? If so, what and why do you view them this way?

    Micheal - do the wealthy contribute to inflation? (or is it only the FED as you keep saying)

    and also: do you support what the FED did by injecting money into the banking system?

    Geez guys, is there anything we can find to agree on? How about, we ALL: live, love laugh, cry, hurt, feel etc. Regardless of what/how we choose to experience/use them we ALL have them BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS and as such- Democrat, Republican, Independent, Conservative, Liberal, Rich, Poor, Middle etc.- WE ALL DIE! While we are alive let's use our brains,intellects,feelings, resources to SOLVE the challenges we face not to divide us. Someone-I believe it was Einstein- said something to the effect of: Using the same level of thinking that got you into the problem will not get you out of it.Yet we continue to do exactly that use the same thought process that got us in trouble to get us out. In World War II we did the impossible because we came together as a nation. If our economy,life,health, retirement etc. was in peril from an outside intruder I have no doubt we would quickly put aside our differences and work TOGETHER to defend this country. I understand their are concerns on both sides but unless we remember why our Founding Fathers worked for and what our brave men and women have fought and died to protect we are in grave danger of imploding! Regardless of which "side" you are on I don't believe that is the outcome you wish. I know it is an outcome that I don't want to see!

    "Your main purpose in life appears to be serving the interests of the wealthy Howells."

    I don’t see how you could have read what I wrote below. The naive belief that the state serves poor people by restricting rich people from lording it over them is the exact opposite of the truth. It is also what the "interests of the wealthy" want you to believe. If you support the state, then you support the exploitation of the poor and middle class by the wealthy. I'm against all exploitation, violence and fraud (they go together). Thus I oppose the state which is used by the wealthy to exploit the rest of us. However, even if the state was used by the poor and middle class to exploit the rich (as many here obviously so desire), then I would be against that too. I have nothing against the wealthy per se; I just don't like being exploited by them. Further reading dupes and knaves who enable them in their exploitation by "working within the system" is frustrating. That in no way means that I "serve the interests of the wealthy."

    I can't be any clearer than that.

    Mark Davis: Rugged Individualist- Imagine yourself in Gilligan's worn sneakers on a desert island. (you seem the type!)Your main purpose in life appears to be serving the interests of the wealthy Howells. You are too busy staring at the suitcase of cash to notice the discrete charms of Maryann and Ginger. Sometimes the Skipper has to bully you to help him and the professor keep everyone alive. I think maybe you are sabotaging any rescue until you get that money. But the game is sort and Regis will soon send you on your way to a torturous afterlife; serving the immortal Howells incessantly. You Liberty suckers are the true leeches, never paying even your own way. Pomposity is not productive. Who died and made tapeworms patriots?

    Dear President Obama:

    Please stop ignoring and dissing the concerns of gay people. I doubt that Dr. King would stand for the disrespect against gays. Please stop appeasing Big Pharma.
    Please stop appeasing the Health Insurance Industry.
    Please stop trying to appease the people who called you "Hitler" and "Nazi."
    Please stop destroying your own presidency. Please show some backbone.
    Please show some respect and appreciation for the people who worked hard to get you elected.
    Please fire Rahm Emmanuel.
    Please stop punking us and playing us for fools.

    Sincerely,

    An Independent Voter.

    Carl, I've given up trying to educate the masses of people whom don't have an open mind. I do seek to put out wake-up calls to the remnant that are willing to see The Matrix for what it is. Discussing where the chairs should be re-arranged on the deck is silly when there is a hole in the ship and it is sinking. I'm telling those who can understand it that there is a hole in the ship and you can listen to those "in charge" and help arrange the deck chairs, or get off the ship ASAP. I have no doubt that most people will be ankle deep in water before even considering the fact that the US Fed Gov is bankrupt. It will dissolve just like the USSR did in 1989. What we should be discussing is not how to bankrupt the USFG faster (though I'm all for that and hope Obama continues speeding it up so that we don't leave this mess for our kids), but how we will emerge from this political upheaval. Do we reconstitute the state apparatus used to impose elite control over the masses, or do we evolve to the next level where society re-emerges without the chains of statehood?

    I prefer to Strike The Root of tyranny and let others trim the branches. I prefer liberty to pretty chains, some don't. There is no compromise on this issue.

    Editing Corrections:

    So, Mark,tell us how you really feel. Seriously how does this bring anybody any clarity or information. Debate means bringing differing points of view into play. That's what Bill is trying to do. To do this though one has to have an open mind and be willing to think about your "opponents" points. It seems to me that the extremes on both sides would rather shout down the other than try to work to resolution. I voted for Obama. Do I still support him YES. Do I agree how he has handled all the issues so far including healthcare NO. But you know what, he IS WORKING to involve the public rather then issue a decision like the previous administration did. When they felt strongly about something and they would do again in a heartbeat. So if you want to discuss/disagree and put forth cogent arguments I for one-even though we probably disagree- would love you to stay. If on the other hand you just want to rant there are plenty of other forums from which to choose.

    So, Mark,tell us how you really feel. Seriously how does this bring anybody any clarity or information. Debate means bringing differing points of view into play. That's what Bill is trying to do. To do this though one has to have an open mind and be willing to think about your "opponents" points. It seems to me that the extremes on both sides would rather shout down the other than try to work to resolution. I voted for Obama. Do I still support him YES. Do I agree how he has handled all the issues so far including healthcare NO. But you know what, he IS WORKING to involve the public rather then issue a decision like the previous issue did when they felt strongly about something and they would do again in a heartbeat. So if you want to discuss/disagree and put forth cogent arguments I for one-even though we probably agree- would love you to stay. If on the other hand you just want to rant there are plenty of other forums from which to choose.

    Some historical scholar there DC; I've never seen anybody confuse French history with Russian history. You seem confused about quite a bit though.

    This board operates on pretty much the same playbook that the show does. I like Bill Moyers because he is an honest lackey for the elite (i.e. he believes his own BS), but his statist agenda is still quite transparent.

    First, demonize those whom disagree with the statist "reforms". They are kooks, crazies, the fringe element and they are all worked up over lies! The opening shot focusing on the “people with guns” (well there was one guy with one gun, he was peaceful and broke no laws) was masterful propaganda. Well done Bill.

    Second, define success based on the desirability of the intentions of the pro-reformers and the anti-reformers. Thus, regardless of the viability of the reforms, simply wanting to "do-good" through “needed” reforms is the criteria for implementing said reforms. Something must be done by God! Oh, but don’t challenge the system itself; it just needs to be reformed. This is obviously a self-reinforcing circular "logic" that is fool proof to fools.

    Third, sit around and have a big circle-jerk alternating between rehashing the demonization of opponents and pumping out chests feeling so proud of having such "humane" good intentions. Ah, the smug feeling of superiority allows one to forget all about the use of force and theft to accomplish these wonderful goals. If an opponent’s argument appears to make a good point then counter it by pointing out that they don't have good intentions and are therefore evil demons to be ignored. Repeat as needed.

    Finally the climax is political victory over the evil opponents. Nothing was really accomplished by political success other than giving the state more power and society less power, but it feels like something good happened. The anti-reformers are bad people and we reformers are good people; well at least we want to do-good and they don't. So there, you evil capitalist pigs!

    This issue is just a distraction to keep the masses from recognizing the consolidation of power by the Central Bank owning elite. You could say it is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The divide and conquer strategy of the elite using the "democratic process" is too easy. No wonder the elite laugh at and could care less for the masses. But Bill Moyers "cares"…

    DC and Michael, you are both tight and both wrong! This country was built on the tightrope between public good and private gain. And maintaining that balance is the only thing that holds us together. When either side gets out of balance we- the people and the country as a whole fall. Yesterday, in Central Park a 10 year with her father in attendance- was issued a ticket for having a lemonade stand. Can you believe it? This is abuse just as rewarding corporate CEO's for failing. And every summer we hear of unscrupulous "contractors" who bilk people out of hard earned money. The only differences are, one first is in the public domain, the second public/private and the third private. other in the public private domain. No system totally in and of itself will stand for very long. Unless we get back to a balance of common good AND private gain this country will tear itself apart. And balance doesn't mean what's in it for me or quid pro quo. It is arrived at by thoughtful dialogue that takes into account the needs of all. To paraphrase Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one and Kirk later responds with. "Sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the few or the many." This has been and will continue to be the greatest challenge this country has and why it is-or at least was- so highly regarded throughout the rest of the world. Unbridled "anything" is dangerous and ripe for destruction and abuse be it in the public or private sector! Let's get back to what made this country great in the first place: a desire/determination for a better way of life AND concern for our fellow citizens.

    D.C. Eddy,

    AGAIN....(I'll dummy proof it for you)

    Liberty refers to the absence of instrusive coercion, of the initiation of disruptive physical force any others. Thus, in a free society, a society of liberty, people may do what they like with the exception of initiating the use of physical force against others, for this would contradict liberty. This is how I have been using liberty this entire time - no one else has misinterpreted me with the exception of you. If I thought that liberty sanctioned moral relativism or nihilism, then why would I have spent all this time arguing against government intervention? For goodness sake, you read the dictionary definition of liberty already! Enough - the sociopath smear is a strawman.

    Call sweat shop labour whatever you'd like, but you can't call it involuntary servitude. Neither can you equate "slave shops" with sweat shops; the former is coerced, the latter is not. Involuntary servitude is abusive, voluntary labour is not, for those subjected to the former have no say in the relationship while those in the latter do. If people don't like sweat shop labour, they can't quit. Slaves can't. But them know that according to economist Thomas DiLorzeno sweat shops in many places are the only economic outlets that provide wages for people.

    Yeah, and there's no difference between slavery and non-slavery...

    The poor earn low wages because their productivity is low due to the fact that they are unskilled and a dime a dozen. If you want the poor to make more, increase their productivity by investing in more efficient capital goods. Until then...

    Do *you* approve of torturing people? You must believe in aggressive force, as you believe the State can initiate the use of physical force to redistribute wealth and obstruct industry to save the planet from the evil, "sociopathic" capitalists. I, by constrast, don't believe that the government ultimately should have such authority.

    Where there's a destitute country, there's a despotic, interventionist government. Cuba, Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, Sudan - all are piss poor and all are repressed by socialist/fascist governments. Where there isn't capitalism (recognition of individual rights including private property rights) there isn't prosperity. Check the 2009 Economic Freedom Index to see this correlation (and it no coincidence).

    Your worried about inflation. Blame the Fed, another arm of the government that possesses a Congressionally granted monopoly on the production and issuance of currency. It has been expanding the money supply since its inception in 1913, causing our price inflation. Again, you cite another socio-economic problem caused by government.

    Marie A. was a politician, so executing her brings a smile to my face. Perhaps we should resume the execution of politicians today. China does, and perhaps rightfully so.

    Michael Labeit,
    On the subject of competition...
    Our present economic problem is not lack of competition; it is monopolies that fix prices so that they make obscene profits and both manufacturing and banking going out of our country.
    Another problem is the demand side of economics cannot support the supply side of economics due to inflation of prices and deflation of wages.
    Also, the exchange of goods and services is a dynamic system as population grows and demand increases. The present static economic system is designed to fail. When it does, the Chaos will cause much death and destruction. This happened in Russia and the people responsible went to the guillotene. One victim Marie Antwanette said,"If they cannot eat bread let them eat cake". She also said when she faced the guillotene, "But its such a small neck".
    There are a lot of naive people that are going to regret their
    maliciousness.

    Michael Labeit,
    I have no problem with the term liberty but I have a big problem with your assumption that liberty is the right to do what ever you want no matter how much death and destruction it causes.
    Liberty and freedom are terms limited by social contract that makes provisions for justice and equity.
    Only crazy people think that liberty and freedom means you can do what ever you want with no restrictions.
    Slave shops and sweat shops have the same affect; they abuse human beings.
    Axiom: things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
    Your whole argument ignores abuse.
    Do you approve of torturing people too?
    You and your sociopathic friends are turning our country into hell on earth. Maybe you should see a priest about exorcism.

    John Barker,

    Thanks to our Founders, the various Constitutional clauses are so vague and ambiguous that ambitious judges and legislators use them to justify anything. The New Deal, for instance, was a daring, and successful, attempt by bureaucrats to use general welfare, necessary and proper, and commerce to justify myriad coercive and destructive economic policies.

    Bushies in government have used the Constitution to justify "executive privilege" and other lovely notions supporting enhanced presidential authority.

    Yay for the common good!!!

    Ahem...taxation IS the coercive expropriation of monetary assets. That you as an obedient, servile citizen consider paying taxes as part of being a "good citizen" is an evaluation of taxation, not a definition. Taxing is still stealing. I learned in preschool that stealing was considered wrong - I hope that hasn't changed. If it has, I'll have to invoke ethics and economics.

    Well, what if the Constitution illegalized homosexuality, or "race-mixin," or abortion???

    Dave,

    If you don't support that type of government intervention, then welcome to the free-market dark side my friend.

    Now, as I stated earlier giving credit to god presupposes the existence of god. If someone can prove:

    -a god or divine consciousness exists

    and that...

    -such a being had a hand in supporting me,

    then I would gladly give him his (or her - I don't want to be sexist) credit. However, I'm not holding my breath for that formal proof. You see I don't accept claims without evidence.

    It would be a non-sequitor to conclude that I have an aversion to giving per se because I oppose government intervention. I don't like *coerced* giving. Voluntary giving is fine.

    You should be a psychiatrist. You could make a lot of money prescribing medication to people, given that negative psychological evaluations come so easily to you.

    Carl Mauret said it pretty well---we'll leave it at that except for one parting shot. Only the U. S. Government has the power to tax---but if it looks like a tax, it walks like a tax, it's a tax. The power of the government to tax is in the taxation and spending clause which has two components, the general welfare clause and the uniformity clause. The general welfare clause has a broad and a narrow interpretation. Fortunately, the broad interpretation has prevailed and Congress may exercise to promote the general welfare to assist national needs as it has in agriculture, education or in healthcare. Coersive expropriation of monetary assets---hmmm--I see it as personal responsibility to pay your taxes as a good citizen for the benefit of society and the country. It's there in the Constitution.

    Carl Mauret said it pretty well---we'll leave it at that except for one parting shot. Only the U. S. Government has the power to tax---but if it looks like a tax, it walks like a tax, it's a tax. The power of the government to tax is in the taxation and spending clause which has two components, the general welfare clause and the uniformity clause. The general welfare clause has a broad and a narrow interpretation. Fortunately, the broad interpretation has prevailed and Congress may exercise to promote the general welfare to assist national needs as it has in agriculture, education or in healthcare. Coersive expropriation of monetary assets---hmmm--I see it as personal responsibility to pay your taxes as a good citizen for the benefit of society and the country. It's there in the Constitution.

    Micheal -

    hardly. I dont state that people should be supported by their governemnt.

    I did however want to make clear that you give no credit to God. Your responses in this thread are those of a man without life or understanding. You see no benefit in giving.
    you see no benefit in anything that doesnt pay you in monetary form.
    thats really sad.


    Dave,

    Nope. Thanking a divine consciousness presupposes the existence of a divine consciousness. That's a lot to presuppose, yes?

    Yeah, I got hired for $15/hour as soon as I evacuated the womb. Silly questions get silly answers.

    That children must depend upon their parents in no way validates the further assertion that people must depend upon their government to support them, which is what your obviously getting at.

    Micheal Labeit -

    Do you give any credit to God for your current position in life?
    or is it all you and your efforts?

    What about your family? Did you have food, shelter, healthcare and education when you were being raised?
    Did you fully support all of your own needs from the time you were born?

    John Barker,

    Your response suggests you have a problem with high healthcare costs. I already addressed the problem of high healthcare costs. Again, here are excellent articles that explain why healthcare costs are high:

    On Health Insurance
    -http://theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2008-fall/mandatory-health-insurance.asp

    On Healthcare in General
    -http://theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2007-winter/moral-vs-universal-health-care.asp

    On Government Regulations in the Healthcare Industry
    -http://mises.org/story/3643

    On Government Regulations in the Healthcare Industry
    -http://mises.org/story/3428

    On Government Regulations in the Healthcare Industry
    -https://mises.org/story/3543

    John Barker writes,

    "What right have insurance companies to tax Americans to add to their bottom line?"

    Insurance companies engage in taxation now, the coercive expropriation of monetary assets? That's new.

    The only agency that taxes others is government brother.

    John Barker further writes,

    "Pharmaceutical companies should make a REASONABLE profit, they make a contribution, but they must be regulated. They do not have a right to willy nilly charge what ever they damn want."

    And what's your oh-so-erudite definition of "reasonable?" I'm guessing "that which corresponds with the sensibilities and wishes of Mr. John Barker. Now, if you had just an inkling as to the costs of production pharmaceutical companies incur in the process of producing medicinal products for the market, then you would understand a portion of the high price of drugs.

    -First, pharma companies have to seek financial capital in debt and equity markets in order - billions in financial capital

    -Second, pharma companies have to hire the Ph.Ds behind the R&D in developing drugs and pay them their wages

    -Third, pharma companies have to acquire innumerable high-tech and expensive capital goods in order to experiment and produce new drugs, from labs to computers to bio-chemical equipment, to special testing instruments, etc.

    -Fourth, pharma companies have to coordinate the co-operative employment of these productive factors to develop new medicinal goods. This takes years, while weathering the storm of government tax and regulatory harrassment.

    -Fifth, pharma companies must have their goods trialed by the bureaucrats at the FDA. The FDA routinely obstructs the introduction of new medical goods, which leads to the deaths of who knows how many Americans annually.

    After all this, their goods hit the market for sale. NATURALLY, the market price is going to be high. There is no way around high drug prices for the first few years of production. The process of development and testing cannot be made cheap with a magic legislative wand. If pharma companies are forced to charge less, a shortage will insue. A decrease in the price will cause an increase in the quantity demanded and a decrease in the quantity supplied. Expensive, available drugs are better than inexpensive, unavailable drugs.

    John Barker further writes,

    "You obviously have a distorted myopic ME view of public funding. It isn't only you who pays taxes and if paying taxes produces a result that SAVES ME and all Americans money in the long haul I am all for it!"

    You think!?! You get a gold medal for obviousness regarding taxes. But more taxes aren't going to help our economy as a whole, not nearly. As a matter of fact, Obama is going to end up paying for this bill (if it goes through) by borrowing more overseas money and by urging Bernanke to crank up the Fed printing press. So we will get taxed on debt plus interest and taxed through Fed monetary inflation. You will get robbed in both nominal and real terms.

    John, you got it right but Michael and company don't want to see, or listen to anyone other than themselves for them it's, "Damn the people full greed ahead!" I'm reminded of Scrooge,"Are there no prisons, are their no workhouses? oh and Michael, just for the record, I don't remember the multi-million dollar laborers who made the corporate decisions of what to produce and when so the company could produce aq LOSS but there sure seem to be a lot of upper management types still trying to blame labor for their troubles. oh and amazing how in less than8 months fuel efficiency has seen so many technological breakthroughs Secondly and most importantly never forget the mantra Capitalism(like greed) is good. But they never seem to say who it is good for!

    Michael Labeit: By what stroke of illogic do you feel that profiteers in the healthcare industry have a right to rip off healthcare consumers? What right have they to take my hard earned income and use it for their excesses? What right have insurance companies to tax Americans to add to their bottom line? Insurance companies contribute ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to healthcare unlike pharmaceutical companies and doctors. Pharmaceutical companies should make a REASONABLE profit, they make a contribution, but they must be regulated. They do not have a right to willy nilly charge what ever they damn want. Their captive consumers have no choice--when consumers need a medication--they can't wait around until a cheaper product comes along.

    You obviously have a distorted myopic ME view of public funding. It isn't only you who pays taxes and if paying taxes produces a result that SAVES ME and all Americans money in the long haul I am all for it! Single payer is the most cost effective healthcare option. HR676 specifically, is comprehensive, covers everyone at a fraction of the cost of the current and the proposed Rube Goldberg systems.

    Terry wroye:

    "I see the rightist response as a profoundly selfish one, this in a country which I have always admired for its generosity."

    Very hard to make decisions without a choice divorced from need.

    Sure, people are all for their own health plan if it is a good one for them. But once they loose it and the job and are out on the street, socialized medicine becomes more palatable. Then if they hit the lottery with their last begged dollar they would be against socialized medicine again because of the 5% rich tax.

    I'd be the same way. If I was rich, I would not want to pay an extra 5% tax to pay for poor people's healthcare. But as a poor person and not being able to afford health insurance since 1986, I like socialized medicine.

    Carl Maurer writes,

    "If businesses had acted outside the bounds of get all the profit you can for as cheap as you can and dealt with the social consequences of their actions the government wouldn't have entered into it in the first place."

    That is capitalism at its best. What's your complaint?

    We live in a capitalist country, you must take the good with the bad Carl.

    Right now there is not enough pain in the US to switch to socialized medicine.

    After all this hoopla, nothing will change...expect the HMO's will see DC's failure as a free reign to raise the greed factor a notch or two and cut benefits even further.

    I like Bill Moyers, just disagree strongly with him.
    In a whole big wide big country, we are shown only the "wildest" meetings. There have been and are plenty of calm ones (incl. right in our area). I can't believe I'm almost lumped with them just because I agree with them.
    Refute this Obama untruth: "there will not be rationing." There is rationing now, and there ALWAYS will be. HOW ... can he say otherwise. It's just a matter of who decides. But it won't go away. We'll never see a 90 old get a heart transplant, even though they COULD live another 10 yrs.
    I am not misinformed, I've read the bill, and I see plenty to be against.
    There are plenty of us who calmly but strongly are against the bill as it is.
    I'm for reform but not THIS.

    In an op-ed piece, “The Swiss Menace” in today’s New York Times, Paul Krugman wrote that "At this point, all that stands in the way of universal health care in America are the greed of the medical-industrial complex, the lies of the right-wing propaganda machine, and the gullibility of voters who believe those lies."

    He should have added two other factors.

    The first is the spinelessness of the Democratic politicians who, despite being in control of the White House and both the House and Senate, now seem destined to cave in on the issue of the "public option." And our great leader Obama — who seems to have the spine of overcooked spaghetti — has neither the leadership ability nor the courage to "crack heads" to bring Democratic politicians onboard with his public plan option, especially the slugs in the Senate and the Blue Dogs in the House, to fight for what they were all elected to do, which is to serve the public interest and not the interests of the health care industry that are now swamping them with legal bribes in the form of "campaign contributions."

    The second factor that Krugman fails to mention is the media, especially the TV media stars and the talking heads and no-nothing pundits who dominate cable TV and the Sunday morning talk shows. In a display of stunningly clueless narcissism even for a member of the Beltway media elite, Mark Halperin flatly stated on June 18th that one reason "to bet AGAINST major health care reform passing this year" is that "Most journalists still have health insurance," the clear implication being that because most JOURNALISTS have health insurance, they don't see the NEED for healthcare reform — and that colors their reporting (or lack of it). Halperin clearly believes that because health care reform doesn't affect journalists personally, journalists simply don't care about health care reform (and, by implication, anything else that doesn’t affect them personally). Or, since they've "got theirs," they don't perceive any need for a healthcare system that works for those NOT in their and Halperin’s privileged class, and hence, they neither know about nor care about the CONSEQUENCES for anyone outside their privileged class of the passage or failure of health care reform.

    The vast bulk of "reporting" on the health care reform issue — like the coverage of most other major issues — focuses primarily on who's "up" and who's "down" and on the latest “conflict du jour.” My guess is that most “political” reporters" are as clueless about the actual bills now circulating in Congress and general healthcare policy issues as their readers and viewers. So they take the "lazy way out" and go with the “conflict du jour.” If Halperin is to be believed — and there’s no reason to question his assertion — most journalists are simply too narcissistic — and too lazy — to even THINK about, much less seriously research and report on, the CONSEQUENCES of the outcome of the latest health care reform debacle on average citizens, especially those who either can't afford to pay for health insurance (now averaging $12,000 annually for a couple with a child or children) or whose employer simply no longer can afford to pay the escalating premiums if they ever offered health insurance to their employees in the first place, or who are denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions. The print media political “reporters” and the TV media stars and talking heads have "got theirs," so why bother going beyond the latest Republican talking points that they inhale each morning as they hit the "Drudge Report" and the “Politico.com” — which feed off each other in an incestuous relationship that has been well documented — on the internet before they read anything else. And, for the most part, they end up feeding journalistic slop to their gullible, naive and uninformed viewers and readers who are, for the most part, totally uninformed about how the Republican and right-wing noise machines are a major driving force behind the town hall craziness that so dominates the "news" about healthcare reform.

    In eight months I will be eligible for Medicare. Right now I am uninsured because I can't get ANY insurance because of a major pre-existing condition. I get my healthcare via a community clinic, and I pray every day that I won't need to be hospitalized before my 65th birthday. How many “reporters” and the political hacks who dominate our Congress know or care about the millions of people like me who can't afford and/or can't get health insurance, . How many “reporters” and the political hacks who dominate our Congress know or care about the minimum-wage or unemployed father who lives in the sticks or in the rustbelt with a wife and a baby and who couldn’t even BEGIN to pay $12,000 per year for health insurance for his family if he had to buy insurance on the open market, or can’t afford to even pay his “employee share” on a policy offered by his employer if he is employed? Very few, if the "reporting" on health care reform and the spinelessness and avarice of members of Congress are any indications of their awareness. After all, they've "got theirs," and the “journalists” and media stars who have "got theirs" are driving the focus of all the "reporting" on this issue and the political hacks in Congress — recipients of huge legal bribes from the health care industry — who also have "got theirs" will determine the outcome of the latest attempt to provide universal health care for ALL citizens. This is just too pathetic for words.

    A little clarity: The US Fed Gov, like all other states before and since, was created by rich guys for rich guys. We have a government of the bankers, by the bankers and for the bankers in contrast to the popular narrative. This is not free-market capitalism, which does not require a monopoly on the use of force to exist. The state itself is the mechanism used to exploit people, not capitalism. This is why capitalism must be demonized by the state priesthood.

    Socialism is the "mixed system" where the bankers throw a few crumbs out to keep the peasants from getting too restless; but the primary purpose is to maintain their power by reinforcing the perception of state legitimacy. The use of democracy as a tool to pacify the naive masses has proven to be very successful.

    I don't have the time or the patience to point out all of the myths which provide the basis for supporting the modern state. If you want to take the red pill (only 53 pages and its free) and discover some truth read Albert J. Nocks' Our Enemy the State at this link:

    http://mises.org/etexts/ourenemy.pdf

    Or you can take the blue pill, keep going back into the voting booth and begging for crumbs from your masters.

    Hi, this was good coverage. I appreciated the remarks of Kathleen Hall Jamieson, especially her approach to this complex issue: "I'm not looking for what Congress does, but I'm looking for the signals that are sent to the public by groups the public trusts. If the final legislation comes forward and the AARP has actually endorsed it, then you have a powerful signal to seniors that there's nothing here that's going to hurt you."

    I have a different list of groups that I trust and whose endorsements are important to me. I pay attention to the opinions of the California Nurses Association (http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/) and Physicians for a National Health Reform Plan (http://pnhp.org). I am also paying attention to the response of Dennis Kucinich because he's one of the few members of Congress who has not sold out on this issue.

    Healthcare is a human right. That's the message our leaders need to send.

    One of the problems that comes up in cost of preventive care versus cost savings of overall health care is that much of the benefit is in improved quality of life, better prospects for employment, improvement in the overall economy, higher tax revenues without higher rates, .... Some of this would help reduce the deficit, but we have limited knowledge of how much.
    I look at the public option as the equivalent of a pilot plant study for a new manufacturing process: a step beyond laboratory studies, without building a whole new plant for which a mistake could be catastrophic. It is a chance to see what we can do with a public system. (Medicare is large, and public, but is highly skewed toward participants who are either not young or not healthy.) It is also a chance for private insurance companies to show what they can do on a level playing field.
    As for arguments about socialism versus capitalism, I would say this. I have worked for government, academia, private enterprise, and non-profits, in organizations ranging from Fortune 50 to Mom, Pop, and me. There is nothing inherent in any of these MODELS which either creates or destroys honesty, drive, creativity, greed, bureaucracy, hard work, ambition, communication, secrecy, .... One of the most bureaucratic organizations I have ever seen was a large manufacturing firm.
    Every group depends upon its people, and one of the checks to a shoddy product is a well-informed consumer. A better health care system will depend on good lifetime education and information for - and participation of - all of us.

    tom nesheim says "the US spends more than the rest of the world put together on the military budget."
    Actually, I believe it has been a while since the U.S. has been doing any real spending. Now, just borrowing...
    You can look up the current national debt online, but the numbers are too long to post here. It continues to increase an average of $3.88 billion per day since 2007.
    Money and blood for oil, consider the unlikely geographical efforts. So far, the money spent and blood shed is squandered on failed returns. But we still owe the money...
    Now we are trying to focus on possibly needing to use less oil. Could be we might have invested in developing clean hydrogen power, as the Japanese are now attempting. They will sell us hydrogen powered cars someday, as we try to figure out where to dump the tons upon tons of discarded toxic batteries from our shortsighted auto engineering attempts.
    More great leadership.

    The institution of government transcends both labour and anti-trust laws, but even THESE laws are excellent examples of government corruption.

    According to economist Dick Armentano, 90 to 95% of all anti-trust lawsuits are filed by failing or less competitive private businesses against their most suceessful private competitors, not by the "Justice" Department. Anti-trust laws are special interest laws. They are used by failing or less competitive firms to shield themselves from competition. Thus, anti-trust laws are a form of domestic protectionism.

    Labour laws cater to another racket: labour unions. Governments pass labour laws like general minimum wages, special industry-specific minimum wages, workplace regulations and, in turn, are given political support from labour unions and workers. Its a quid pro quo relationship. Governments also pass immigration restriction laws which are labour laws in disguise to reduce labour competition. The result:

    -Minimum wage laws help increase unemployment by increasing the price of labour and, therefore, reducing the quantity of labour demanded. With minimum wage laws, low-productivity labourers are priced out of the marketplace. This especially harms black Americans, Milton Friedman even saying that minimum wage laws are some of the most racist laws in existence by fomenting unemployment within black communities.

    -Immigration restrictions reduce competition and the supply of labour, thereby increasing the price of labour and, subsequently costs of production. This leaves entrepreneurs with less financial capital with which to purchase other productive factors and increase productive capacity.

    The tale of government intervention is an untold but nevertheless insidious story of socio-economic mal-effects.

    But the institution of government as an aggressive, maraudering agency predates "progressive" legislation. Big government is, first and foremost, a racket with independent objectives and goals incongruent with the individual rights of its citizens.

    "When politicians...by votes, promising rich entitlement - for themselves and the special interest groups, could have not look out for the good of the entire country" or "the health care for ALL!"

    "The safety nets for the poor and destitute must be available" - Is it?
    The fact are, "The role of the [conservatives] playing "God in deciding who gets to live and who must die!"
    This appears to be conservatives ideology base on "Hitlers fascist theories" that if you are a Jew,
    or poor "you must die!'
    It is shocking to even read, "Why spend lots of money to improve—or save — the life of someone who
    evolved from slime and has no special significance other than....?
    Is it being poor - "slime," justification to let an 11 year old die from tooth infection or left a women to bleed to death on the floor at a hospital!
    Being poor - a justification for the health care to be denied for ALL?
    "The nerve gas leak monitors at a major Kentucky chemical weapons depot did not work for nearly two years." Transporting highly radioactive material at night did not notifying the public of it danger. A practical excuse, a gas chamber for "who must die!" "Yes, they "do mean to say that person is equal in value to a carrot!"
    A reporter - commentator states,
    "It is important to understand...," - to understand what?!
    To understand which "rich entitlement?"
    "The Billions in bonuses..." the "TARP."
    "The Bank of America Corp., with 172 employees, each receiving at least $1 million; Merrill Lynch... out 696 each receive at least $1million... etc." of the
    tax-payers "TARP," or the
    "A.I.G.’s companies have been doing an unusual volume of business, ... borrowing from each other’s investment portfolios; and guaranteeing each other’s insurance policies" at the expenses of the taxpayers!
    "When they can vote and print themselves money, laws to fit their purpose and interest, will herald the end of the republic."
    Stand with a pitch fork -The DEMOCRACY is OVER.

    Carl Maurer,

    If there is a market for mail carrier services, than by definition people will be willing to pay for mail carrier services and entrepreneurs will swoop in with productive factors ready to satisfy that demand.

    If there isn't a market for mail carrier services, than too few people want them and entrepreneurs will not attempt to offer mail carrier services. That's how the market operates - no need for government to support "vital" services.

    In actuality, governments subsidize those firms and ventures that do not satisfy consumer demand. If they did satisfy consumer demand, then they wouldn't need government welfare to begin with. Thus government support is used to keep wasteful investments afloat.

    By your appeal to FedEx/union fights you suggest that only labourers are "people" while entrepreneurs and the capitalists who supply them with financial capital are scum. Your conception of "sharing" is the use of physical force to expropriate that which one has not produced or earned through productive mental/physical effort. People should be paid (and in a free-market are) in accordance with their productivity, their ability to satisfy the demands of others, not in accordance with lofty, altruistic criteria.

    You can't christen coercion by calling it "concern" or "equity" or "compassion" or "empathy." It is what it is and it violates rights to liberty and private property, regardless if its administered in a crude, violent way or in an elegant, legislative way.

    David Frumm leaves out the point that the US spends more than the rest of the world put together on the military budget. Even 5% off the top of that budget would pay for healthcare for everyone.
    Also both sides republicans and democrats are taking massive amounts of money from health care industry. Obama received 18 million from the health care industry last year alone. We need campaign finance reform so our elected officials start working for the American people again instead of these big corporations.

    Michael you seem to be an intelligent individual. You can't be serious this:

    Government has emerged regardless of the actions of corporations or businesses.

    Go back in history and start looking: labor laws-why, anti-trust,why etc etc. I am nor saying that government doesn't/hasn't at times overstepped it bounds but that's usually want happens when the elephant gets his nose under the tent. Laws came into being because somebody screwed something up. Period! As to the rest of your post I hope you were also writing this kind of rebuttal during the previous administration's actions regarding use and overreach of government's powers.

    Michael, you seem to miss the point that we are all human beings. let's take your post office analogy a step further. let's run it back then like Greyhound is running no. Cut the losses this town doesn't generate enough revenue from busses/stamps. You would be the first to holler if your business was asked to handle business that wasn't profitable without getting something in return. So the Feds decided that mail service was vital-if you think it wasn't read up on the Pony Express- to the nation and -just as insurance companies do- made the pool the country so that EVERYONE would be served. As to UPS and Fed EX, UPS recently lost a battle to unionize and FedEx is still fighting- the employees-PEOPLE- are asking these wonderfully PROFITABLE companies to share some of it with them and the companies answer: NO WAY, you get what we choose to give you! Why/how is asking to be treated like a human being wrong.As to insurance companies health-care is a national issue and is vital to/for all. If, with all the manipulations they have used to reduce and or disqualify individuals who would hurt their bottom line-they can't compete than they should go the way of the horse and buggy, gas lamps, slide rules, typewriters etc. Oh and you might want to check on this, I think insurance companies are also fought(paid) for and won freedom from anti-trust issues and they still can't make a go of it. Imagine that. I think that about covers your your comments questions, issues. I must say a feel very sad for you and those who echo your sentiments. It is sad to see someone with your ability and knowledge so lacking in compassion/understanding empathy for your fellow human beings.

    By "slave shop" I mean INvoluntary servitude.

    Carl Maurer writes,

    "If businesses had acted outside the bounds of get all the profit you can for as cheap as you can and dealt with the social consequences of their actions the government wouldn't have entered into it in the first place."

    Government has emerged regardless of the actions of corporations or businesses. Government intervention is based upon using preliminary force to achieve the goals of the government, regardless of what businesses do. And if you think governments act to effectively hedge against alleged wrongs committed by businesses, I would ask you to check your premises. Governments are not all-benevolent agencies seeking to fulfill the common good. They are institutions that seeking "profits" just like everyone else does. The difference is that governments have the legal authority to employ disruptive physical force as well as sanction such force wielded by others. Businesses, by constrast, must offer goods and staisfy consumer in order to fulfill their objectives.

    Carl Maurer further writes,

    "Interesting how supporters of unfettered capitalism line up ask for help when they hit a rough patch and want the government to level the playing field. They don't bat an eye or even acknowledge the ridiculous of their actions."

    A person who advocates government coercion in the form of coporate welfare, by that fact, surrenders his title as "advocate of capitalism," for under capitalism the right to private property is recognized, making corporate welfare legally impossible.

    I have been immersed in all the political turmoil from one end to the other. Most recently, from healthcare reform, to health insurance reform, as we continue down the road pushed further away from hope of any real reform at all. Why?
    Now I see that the problem isn't really with spending, borrowing or the uninsured.
    The problem is with dysfunctional Congress, and I'm wondering why we have yet to focus on that?
    We maintain a huge number of well paid older guys in terrific suits to provide us with excellent leadership. Some may have degrees in "something," however, their actual expertise is dubious other that a patriotic "calling" to serve the public.
    Corporations:
    Although there are some well meaning patriots on the hill, corporations know they only need to reach a certain number of our legislators in order to get what they want. The current "campaign contributions" system is literally murdering us, as some legislators grow wealthy selling us out, committing their "inside jobs" on us, profiteering away as the day is long.
    If we want reform, we need to "clean up" all the legal loopholes congress has laid for themselves, to insure avoiding possible prosecution.
    We need ethics reform. No more "payola" from corporations!
    Term Limits:
    Long terms in office for elected officials have culminated with accumulating a large number of untrustworthy career lifers. They've become EXPERTS at circumventing, exploiting and working the system for personal gain.
    Performance:
    They spend beyond our means, engage habitual outrageous irresponsible borrowing and leave us with millions of uninsured. Do we need full time life long "experts" to render these shameful and dangerous results? We have lost all functional representation! We've been hijacked, and we allow it to continue, worse than ever before. Get my point, we are the enablers!
    Weeding out the bad ones:
    How are we to tell the good ones from the bad? Remove the opportunity for taking campaign contributions and see how long many remain "servants of the people."
    Reform:
    When you have a cancer, it isn't ok to leave a little in there.
    We need to do something about "our problem!"
    Shall we ask if congress would consider reforming it's self, and wait until that happens?
    Suggestions?

    Carl Maurer,

    "We hear from the "Free market" contingent that the private sector because of competition can do it-insert whatever you like- better and cheaper than the public sector. Using this logic the private sector-insurance companies-should have no problem with competition and could once and for all put this debate to rest. Yet the insurance companies don't want the public option BECAUSE they CAN'T COMPETE. I'm still trying to get over the illogic of that logic."

    The introduction of a public option is going to be anti-competitive, not competitive. Take the Post Office. In the 19th century, Lysander Spooner started a mail carrier service called American Letter Mail Company that charged somewhere between 1 and 3 cents for its services. It was so efficient and innovative and it ran the risk of bankrupting the Federal government's mail carrier service. So what did the government do? Naturally, it shut down Spooner's enterprise.

    In order for government enterprises to "compete" with private enterprises, government enterprises require special, governmentally granted privileges. If this weren't the case, than government enterprises would be completely unnecessary. The Post Office is a massively wasteful and inefficient firm - it operates on a loss. On a free market, it would be shut down immediately. Yet the Feds have passed special laws granted the Post Office legal privileges that allow it to survive against the likes of FedEx and UPS. For example, the government gives the Post Office a legal monopoly on the distribution of mail. According to economist Lew Rockwell,

    "Title 18 (I.83.1696) says that "Whoever establishes any private express for the conveyance of letters or packets" can be fined and jailed. Moreover, another law (39.I.6.606) says that any letter delivered by unlawful means can be seized and stolen by the government. It is immune from antitrust action and criminal liability."

    In addition to this, the Post Office is the recipient of a continual stream of subsidies, taxpayer funded subsidies. And as Mark notes, subsidizing poor performance will encourage further poor performance.

    In order for Obama's "public option" to survive among market competitors, its going to require all sorts of government privileges - at the very least subsidies and perhaps monopoly privileges down the road. Subsidies waste taxpayers funds that could have been put to efficient use by the taxpayers elsewhere and monopoly privileges obstruct other market participants from competing, harming them and consumers.

    Again, using a sports analogy, imagine if the New England Patriots were allowed to add indiscriminate touchdowns to their score in order to survive. Such authority would be a flagrant affront to competition. Then why would you endorse such a scheme in healthcare or the mail services, where the government gives its pet firms indiscriminate "touchdowns?"

    THAT is NOT competition.

    In answer to your question Mark, I work to pay the bills and for my family to have some of the nicer things in life. I also have a few businesses that, Yes I do want to make a profit from, but I also do my utmost to be ethical and aware that while I live on this planet and in this time I have a duty to leave this world a better place than for my having been here. And that doesn't mean in material things.

    Sorry to say Mark, you actually proved MY POINT. The idea that capitalism is this saintly thing is absurd. If businesses had acted outside the bounds of get all the profit you can for as cheap as you can and dealt with the social consequences of their actions the government wouldn't have entered into it in the first place. There is the rub! Capitalism takes nothing into consideration but PROFIT. A crude and barbaric model, definitely self-serving and inherently short-lived as if left to its own devices will destroy itself and everyone else with it. Having said this though I am not against tempered capitalism- putting in place a system for dealing with the social and societal issues that are not pertinent/accounted for to/in capitalism. Another health-care point is their is already socialism(or whatever term you would choose) in the insurance industry. What else would you call minimizing the costs of payouts by insuring large groupings? I am not opposed to this. I am opposed though to the continual push to restrict those who need the insurance from obtaining it and or limiting services as a way to enhance the bottom line. Interesting how supporters of unfettered capitalism line up ask for help when they hit a rough patch and want the government to level the playing field. They don't bat an eye or even acknowledge the ridiculous of their actions .

    D.C. Eddy,

    First you criticize my definition of liberty and then you confirm its legitimacy with a quote from American Heritage.

    I certainly did no claim that "Liberty is not the freedom to break the laws of physics..." For all I know the laws of physics are fairly immutable.

    Now, there are many "laws of the land" that violate liberty and should be abandoned, but this is still irrelevant to the conflict between liberty and equity. To the extent you have one, you lose the other.

    Now if a capitalist or businessman were to actually run a "slave shop," where labourers are forced to engage in voluntary servitude, than this would be illegal in a free-market society since it violates individual rights.

    If by slave shops you mean sweat shops, then you are guilty of intellectual dishonesty. Work in a sweat shop is voluntary; work in a slave shop isn't. There's a profound difference.

    Ironically, the man who coined the phrase you loosely copy, "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely" was an English, free-market individualist named Lord Acton.

    There is nothing special about social services that requires them to be provided by the government with the exception of the administration of justice because that is a coercive service by definition.

    Regarding competition, its governments that prevent nations from being competitive in the global economy by employing protectionist measured such as tariffs, import quotas, and foreign capital and direct foreign investment restrictions. Governments restrain private businesses through taxes and regulatory statutes, thus prohibiting them from competing with foreign industries. Look at the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a piece of legislation that levies addition regulatory costs upon American businesses. With less financial capital, American businesses are left less equipped to cope with foreign enterprises. If competition is your concern, you'd be opposed to big government.

    Ironically, its socialist regimes like Kim Jong I'll's, Robert Mugabe's, Fidel Castro's, and Hugo Chavez's that repress people to such a degree that they live the socio-economic equivalent of a cave-residence.

    Carl, thank you for proving my point. By the way, the reason employers today pay for health insurance is that during WW II the US Fed Gov imposed socialist wage and price controls. In order to offer more productive employees additional compensation companies started offering health insurance instead of (illegal) higher wages. Another classic case of unintended consequences from government interventions into the market that lead to the need for further interventions to fix previous interventions! This seemingly subtle change led to a third-party payer in health care that has resulted in higher prices, poorer service (HMOs) and less control by the person wanting the service.

    Also, do you work each day for a profit or for a loss?

    Mark Davis, you left out the other 2 year old issue that when they learn to take whatever isn't theirs and don't have to pay for it they get so much happiness and STUFF. Using your analogy to the max-in the name of profit anything and everything is OK with the actual societal cost pushed off on others. Regulations came about because of this. That is why we have a mixed system- not just "pure" capitalism- to take care of the public interest. As related to health care let's look at the issue of why it is linked to employment. Go back before unions and check, I doubt that you will find any employer coverage. It was up to the individual and their families and friends to deal with with health issues. Finally workers rallied-which I am sure created the same kind of vocal reaction as we are experiencing today-and eventually employer health plans became the norm. That worked OK as long as workers started and ended their work life at the same employer. Now that times have changed it is time for the way health care is handled to change. I always find it interesting that "free market" groupies have no problem with paying CEO's of failing companies millions(for failing) because otherwise we they might leave but howl bloody murder if the worker-who actually makes the product that makes the company so profitable- gets a raise. Just look at the hollering over the Fed. minimum wage increase-you would have thought it was the end of civilization as we know it. This IS about class warfare and wealth redistribution. It is time for people to demand to be treated like people and not widgets. It seems some would be happier if we returned to the "good old days" of the company store. Capitalism in and of itself is not a demon nor is it a God. Let's stop arguing about systems and start caring about humanity for a change. Together let's make a "system" that is cares about and for humanity and the planet, economically sound and a model for the rest of the world. We have fought and won tougher battles than this and I believe that we can and must accomplish. And soon.

    Michael Labeit, I'm truly impressed with your patience when trying to explain economic principles to those profoundly ignorant of them. People whom believe that the state apparatus is the only viable social institution of note, and further that it is immune to human folly (why?), are hopeless. Socialism is a religion based on emotional appeals where logic becomes irrelevant. The calls for debate in this forum got me rolling on the floor with laughter. The economic calculation problem devastates the irrational foundations of socialism and 99% of socialists have never even heard of it. Two-year olds recognize that when you reward (subsidize) any behavior then you will get more of that behavior. When you penalize (tax) any behavior then you will get less of that behavior. So it shouldn't be too hard to see that a system which subsidizes health care and taxes production will go bankrupt. That, in a nutshell, is the problem with socialism: They always run out of other people's money!

    I like your website and hope to follow it in the future. Good luck explaining to parasites that they are killing the host. Even if some do see the light they don't care, because they really can't see an alternative.

    We hear from the "Free market" contingent that the private sector because of competition can do it-insert whatever you like- better and cheaper than the public sector. Using this logic the private sector-insurance companies-should have no problem with competition and could once and for all put this debate to rest. Yet the insurance companies don't want the public option BECAUSE they CAN'T COMPETE. I'm still trying to get over the illogic of that logic.

    All we need is the same heath care,pensions, pay raises,etc.etc. that the politicians get that we pay for! Get it people we pay for it period!!!

    A government that would bail-out the insurance industry will surely give them all the health care business as well, no matter the good or health of the people.

    "and that government of the people, by the people, for the people," has perished so sadly for Americans, for Lincoln, and for me.

    =
    MJA

    The ability to address an issue-any issue- with heartfelt concern and yet civility, to continue to DEBATE until there is resolution: Isn't that what we learned learned that the Founding Fathers did to create a great nation. Thinking not of themselves but for the good of others and isn't that what we are called on to continue. Replying and attempting to point out fact and enter into a debate it has become clear that "true conservatives" are interested in neither. With their "do it My way or get out" attitude I believe I have found a disturbing thread that connects all the vitriol coming from these true believers: They want a small government that they control that espouses their beliefs and forces others to do the same. That is very scary and anything but Democratic. I also believe I have found their weak-spot and that is to challenge them on Biblical grounds. As a Christian I have begun responding with things like: so you think Jesus would do that or the Bible also says this(and put in an appropriate verse) etc. I have found that confronting the disparity between what they say they believe and their political position on an issue such as health-care they have no response. Democrats have been apologetic for way too long. It is time for all who want to return to real debate and move beyond self and party to a country of the people, by the people, FOR the people to stop being sheep and stand up to the vocal minority -ON BOTH SIDES- that holds the rest of us hostage.

    I can't believe Bill Moyers is aiding and abetting the Banksters scam. You let someone imply that every dollar of every U.S. Budget is a valid "Loan" from the FED. Our Government has the power to PRINT money and spend it for the common good. No loan needed. That is how money is created. The slight of hand crime of the Banksters is that they enter that Budget as a "Loan" on THEIR BOOKS. Wake up stupid Americans, get a clue! The only thing that creates wealth is human work and natural resources. Everything else is a scam.

    People, if a 9/11 Truther or a Free Energy advocate tried to stand in a Congressman's face and shout, he would be tasered and taken to jail. So don't let anyone tell you this is a "grassroots" rebellion on Health Care. This is a staged protection action for Insurance profits to defeat Single Payer. And if the American People let THEM get away with it, they are even more stupid than I thought they were.
    Obama is in on it. He just needed a good excuse to dump Single Payer so he could look blameless. Don't let him get away with it. We had to force him to even bring up the subject. So, he is anxious to abandone it for his Insurance backers. There is no fear of loosing political clout that would suffice for failing to implement a Single Payer system. If people are afraid of % Planning" then cut the provision from the bill, no biggie.

    Charles Michael Couch

    More I watch and listen to the anti-reform crowd more I realized how selfish our society has become.
    If you remember how then Gov. Palin and the fellow republicans made fun of Obama for being a community organizer in his earlier career, I was shock to see some of us actually started laughing with them. Isn't community organizing the heart of Democracy? The same group of people are claiming now somehow they are "organizing their community" to fight against "the nazi marxist Obamacare" and "want the county back".
    But underneath all that what I see is selfishness, the idea that as long as I'm content with what I have I don't care what happens to others. If we are the people, were good enough care about others then go to a war to save/restore people's "freedom" and "rights", even sacrifice our young men and women to fight, even get killed in overseas, aren't we good enough to take care of our own sick and hungry? Since when my right to carry a loaded gun in a town hall meeting is much more important than others right to ask the government for a help to fight against these out-of-control insurance companies(in my opinion that's what the reform is about)? Some people line up just to get the latest iphone in front of the stores hours before the doors open for business, other wait hours to just get their teeth fix or get a pair of glasses for free from non-profit heath care organization. They are all living in the same country. Would the first group of people wait on the street for hours with same passion to demand these insurance companies to take care of their policy holders who have been treated unfairly? Would people make more than 250.000$ per year simply pay little more for their taxes to help people make 35.000$ to get decent medical help?
    What we should be fear is not the federal government taking your guns, medicare or creating "death penal". It reflects on mirrors when you look at them, it's our selfishness. Unless we all decide it's really about taking care of each other, not because these are my friends or families because we are one nation under God, because the country is in a big trouble once again because if we don't swim together we'll sink together, there will be no better future for all of us if we do nothing.
    I pray and hope America will make a right decision.

    Completely agree, KimB, that this current retirement generation is the greatest financial 'scorched earth' generation to ever call America their home.

    We won't even talk about offshoring the jobs belonging to the next generation so they can earn 20% annually on their retirement funds in the market, all during an era when this country makes nothing anymore. Hell, we never made 20% annually on retirements when we were at the height of our industrialized period.

    It's times like these when I wish we had better tools for public discourse and argument across time. Our ability to fact check claims has risen with the Internet and increasingly free access to information, but our ability to hold large, complex arguments in our heads hasn't improved. Thus, when refuted arguments are simply repeated loudly enough, they begin to take an unjustifiably large role in public debate.

    At what point do we prevent the need to re-lay the groundwork for every conversation we have on health care (or any similarly complex issue)?

    The Generation that seems to be at the forefront of these 'TownHoller' incidences is the same generation which has been voting for tax cuts through defunding the very programs they are now defending, for the last few decades. Only difference is they just got their Medicare cards and That SS Check is paying off the tropical vacation.
    This genereation was hell bent on screwing their parents and grandparents out of coverage and financial survial since the '80's.
    Within the last admin, this group defeated SCHIP.
    So What's this about 'Generational Theft'?? Surely they are discussing it in past tense!
    This is the same Party and the Same Generational voting block which allowed Granny to eat dog food to cover her heating bill and has turn a blind eye to years of this countries Dismal Infant mortality. rates. Literally,Coined the phrase "Greed is Good".
    As for my Cohort Group better described as the "Kennedy Kids" ('60') and our direct predecessors (far more effected by Suburbanization than WW2-'Burbers')- We're Screwed.
    Forecasted Retirement plans will be put off, if not scraped for both these generations, because of the Heist that has already transpired.
    As a so called 'Late Bloomer' I consider these disturbing vocalizations the 'death rales' of an extinguishing dinosaur. The Boomers now realize they are at the mercy of the younger generations, who they have left standing in the Rubble of their deeds.
    Pray Boomers we 'beneath' you, who now literally hold you up, have more empathy then you.
    How many cases of Elder neglect and Abuse are reported each year? Last survey 7 out of 100 babies die at birth. And those at these Town halls are screaming about their Viagra!The True 'Boomers' are adherent to a 'survial of the Fittest' mentality, and they will steal and destroy any other generation that gets in their way- from profits, priviledge or pleasure.
    I'm disgusted with this new batch of 'seniors', and have been since Reagan.

    Maggie, you lament about any proposed system where a finite pie inplies that increased spending in one area causes a constriction in spending for another group of people, and you worry that such choice will be based on society productivity.

    As much as you seem to fear it, its a better system than having debt fill the funding gaps in the current system. Debt cannot continue to build while you kick the decision can down the road.

    We, as a nation, plant the most expensive bodies into the ground, ever. Other nations invest a greater share of those dollars up front, into the working youth that comprise our uninsured today, and actually get a return on that investment over time. We invest most of our (borrowed) money in the 11th hour, and receive no return on that investment.

    Anyone who is disturbed at the prospects of making hard choices based on societal productiveness (because of the finite money pie) is going to have to get used to it.

    What is more ghoulish that comes after, in the absence of making those tough decisions you fear? Putting liens on those expensive bodies, and using cryogenics to someday recover the investment. I'm sure the working people paying that "sunken cost" healthcare bill for the elderly could all use a house butler some day in the future, right? After all, they already paid for one.

    Your recent shows on health care reform, especially your interview with Wendell Potter and your re-airing of Critical Condition, have been some of the most illuminating in the national discussion. I can't find this kind of brave truth-telling anywhere else on television.
    How can we address all the anger, the fear and lies? The health care reform discussion has devolved into shrill shouting; lost are the needs of millions of people in our country without access to health care. Every day more people are losing their jobs and at the same time losing their health insurance. Or they're being diagnosed with cancer and other serious medical conditions that insurers don't want to cover. Or finding out they can no longer afford to pay their growing premiums and copayments. Our current system has huge holes in the so-called safety net. As a cancer survivor, I've fallen through some of them myself.
    We need to keep emphasizing how health care reform can help us all. Most of us are one job or one diagnosis away from losing our access to health care. I believe access to health care should be viewed as a human right.
    Fueling this strident opposition to health care reform are political game-playing, racism, very deep seated fears and anger, aggravated by our current economic insecurity. My own distress and anger is directed at the media who fan the flames of this opposition without correcting the falsehoods and at our legislators who knowingly repeat the lies.
    Keep exposing the truth, keep prying open the closed doors of power and influence, keep front and center the need of people for access to health care. Keep showing the impact on our lives when we don't have it. Keep revealing the de facto rationing that is already going on and affecting the poor, the chronically ill, the unemployed, our neighbors, ourselves.

    I really appreciate your efforts to make clear the health insurance reform to the American people. Looking at what you do it feels that you are doing so because you have the American people at your heart, unlike some presentations which tend to be filled with shouts from not willing to listen to what one has to say. I believe that, beyond those who have no health insurance, there are many who suffer because their insurance is not adequate. Please bring these cases forward as many as possible and show the american people the real situation. Keep up the good work of helping the American people understand what this reform means to them, and fight those arguments whose base are not the American people.

    I really appreciate your efforts to make clear the health insurance reform to the American people. Looking at what you do it feels that you are doing so because you have the American people at your heart, unlike some presentations which tend to be filled with shouts from not willing to listen to what one has to say. I believe that, beyond those who have no health insurance, there are many who suffer because their insurance is not adequate. Please bring these cases forward as many as possible and show the american people the real situation. Keep up the good work of helping the American people understand what this reform means to them, and fight those arguments whose base are not the American people.

    Michael Labeit,
    I fail to comprehend whether you do not understand what I am posting or you are distorting what I post to your warped use of the English language...
    Liberty is not the freedom to break the laws of physics or the laws of the land. There are laws to protect people from the sociopathic and greedy capitalists that want to run slave shops that prevent the survival of their employees.
    Power corrupts and total power corrupts totally.
    We have to deal with human nature realistically.
    The intent of government is to provide the laws and social services to make nations capable of competing in a world economy. The gross national product is dependent on working together to provide the goods and services to meet people's needs. Without government, we would still be living in caves.
    If we are to survive, we will need efficient social systems that can provide a quality society in a quality environment.
    Liberty according to the American Heritage Dictionary:
    Liberty; the condition of being free from confinement, servatude or forced labor.
    We have gone from indentured slavery to economic slavery. People depend on adequate wages to support their life style and the social institutions. They also depend on affordable life insurance to cover their medical needs. This is a minimum requirement for a just society.

    I am a middle class American citizen, and these are The Top Ten Reasons Why I Want A Single Payer Government Health Care Plan:

    1. It’s about time we got something for our money besides bailing out yet another pack of corporate yahoos. Every time you turn around, there’s some corporation with its hand out, while simultaneously wailing that bailing out the middle class would be socialism. Well, if socialism means that the middle class would get to spend its tax dollars on itself for a change, then I say bring it on.

    2. Losing your job shouldn’t be a death sentence. Health care needs to be de-coupled from the private sector and its lethal ‘boom and bust’ cycle. Grandma’s heart medication shouldn’t be dependent on whether some company needs to “downsize.” Health care should not be (as the BBC characterized it when trying to explain America’s curious system) “only for the rich and those who work for large corporations.”

    3. Health care is a lot cheaper when you’re not funding some insurance corporation’s profit margin. Never mind the fact that an insurance corporation is more likely to turn down your heart transplant so they can fund a Degas for their lobby.

    4. The United States shouldn’t look like a third world country. And when the BBC ends up covering a “medical mission of mercy” to America’s heartland on the evening news, you know you’ve hit bottom.

    5. So it costs a lot. So what? What are we going to get if we save the money? Another war? Congress wasn’t whining about the future deficit when it poured unaccounted for billions into Baghdad. The middle class is sick and tired of being told our lives aren’t worth the government’s money! That’s our tax money you’re talking about, and for a change, you’re going to spend it on us. We want the same consideration that every corporation from Goldman Sachs to General Motors got; we think that the citizens of the United States are “too big to fail” and that our tax dollars should go towards saving our lives. They should not go towards fattening some vampiric insurance corporation’s profit margin.

    6. We want health care where we can control it: in the hands of people we can vote out of office if they screw up. Health care should not be in the hands of a board of private individuals whose sole motives are profits and bigger Lear jets. I’m not afraid of the evils of so-called socialized medicine. Bureaucrats instead of doctors making decisions, “managed care”, rising costs and refused coverage? Heck, we’ve got that now! And we’re paying through the nose for it. At least government is responsible to the people. Current corporate health care isn’t responsible to anybody. And we’ve seen how well that worked out in the banking industry.

    7. Why pay twice for the same product? Doctors should practice medicine, not the smoke and mirrors of corporate accounting. A system in which your Aunt Betty can see a doctor instead of dying from her diabetes, which her corporate health insurance diagnosed as a ‘pre-existing condition’ (corporate lingo for ‘this will affect our profit margin’)? Sounds like common sense. And why should Americans pay twice for the same service? Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing with private corporate insurance: we pay for the doctor, then we pay for the insurance company’s profit on top of that! No wonder health care costs are rising! The American health care system is collapsing because it can’t support itself and corporate profits. Honestly, I think the private health insurance industry is afraid of the competition. Hence the full-on P.R. campaign that they’ve launched to prevent Americans from choosing a more sensible alternative than being eternally held hostage to private insurance corporations. They know that Americans want to be free from the eternal corporate refrain: our lives are cheaper than their money.

    8. Love Thy Neighbor. Because tomorrow, he might be you. Especially in times of economic trouble, Americans should help their neighbors. No one ever expects to lose their job, lose their health insurance, and use up their savings trying to survive the catastrophic illness no one saw coming. America is either a responsible society that looks after those less fortunate, or it’s a neo-Darwinian cage match that doesn’t give a damn about the lives of its citizens. “Devil take the hindermost” is not a good business plan, as we’ve seen amply demonstrated by the collapse of our economy. It’s certainly no way to run a society. I want my neighbor covered. Because tomorrow, he might be me.

    9. I’m not afraid that government health care will suddenly turn America into Communist Russia. That manufactured shibboleth has got to be news to the Queen of England, where they’ve had socialized health care for quite some time. And I don’t see any Tories suddenly running out and subscribing to Pravda. Considering the recent expenses scandal, I’d say that Britain has definitely got all the hallmarks of a fully fledged capitalist democracy-socialized medicine included. Funny, how whenever the middle class wants something for itself, we get told we can’t have it or there’ll be communists under the bed come morning. Well, we’re not falling for it this time. Congress and the military get health care paid for by U.S. taxpayers-does that make them Communists?! The world will not end if the middle class gets treated decently by its own government. For once.

    10. Every Congressional Representative or Senator who votes against Obama’s Health Care Plan is a complete hypocrite. We the taxpayers fund their health care, their lunches, their ‘fact finding tours’, their franking privileges…and on and on and on. Yet when we want to spend tax dollars to literally save our lives, those very same Representatives and Senators say no, we don’t deserve it. Ah. So our tax dollars are only for bailing out important people. With Lear jets. Is that really the message you want to send to an electorate that’s already demonstrated its willingness and ability to vote politicians out of office when they don’t respected the interests of the American people? It’s time the members of Congress remembered who the really important people are: the American citizens who put them there.

    That’s the bottom line, really. We are the important people. Those are our tax dollars. Look after us, for a change, instead of yourselves. Or prepare to be voted out of office by an angry, desperate electorate that wants real change. We’ve had enough of corporate hand-holding. To heck with the P.R. campaign sponsored by the insurance industry and the vested interests! What Americans really want is health care for everyone.

    Micheal Labeit -

    You seem to have the least amount of Liberty of anyone on this thread. Liberty is a matter of the heart and you dont seem to feel any liberty at all.
    You feel imprisoned by many things.

    May the God of the Living set you free.

    I'm a psychiatrist in the public sector; I'm one of the 60% of U.S. physicians who support a single payer system. In my opinion, there simply is no ethical alternative to this.
    While following the developments in the political battle over health care reform I have to admit I felt despair today after discovering the apparent sell-out of the Obama administration to Big Pharma, the Insurance Industry and all their accomplices, both witting and witless.
    Then my wife, an R.N., stumbled upon Bill Moyer's interview with Drs. Lieberman and Angell this afternoon. Mr. Moyers never fails to restore my sense of worth for our species and the need to go on fighting the good fights but Drs. Angell and Lieberman literally saved me from surrendering to the futility of fighting against Corporate American ownership of our government--at least for now. I would not change a single syllable of these two fine, and inspirational doctors' analysis and comments. I am humbly grateful to them both. This is unequivocally the best and most important video on the Internet. Health care reform goes far beyond just health care; the survival of our democracy absolutely depends upon it.

    Please accept an invitation to join a debate in support of healthcare reform: Link here.

    From the level of intelligent thought reflected in the comments posted here, it seems obvious that the focus of those tasked with the dissemination of information should be aimed at a different segment of the general population, not those watching Bill Moyers Journal. As always it is the loud and uniformed that seem to try to rule us. What's up with that??? Thanks as always for the information - or more precisely- presenting information as a multi-faceted discussion amongst intelligent, thinking people who want ALL the opinions and facts so we can make our own decisions!

    From the level of intelligent thought reflected in the comments posted here, it seems obvious that the focus of those tasked with the dissemination of information should be aimed at a different segment of the general population, not those watching Bill Moyers Journal. As always it is the loud and uniformed that seem to try to rule us. What's up with that??? Thanks as always for the information - or more precisely- presenting information as a multi-faceted discussion amongst intelligent, thinking people who want ALL the opinions and facts so we can make our own decisions!

    D.C. Eddy

    The "social contract" being invoke is a one that sanctions the very coercion you claim you fear. You originally wrote that "Society depends on a social contract that assures liberty, justice and equity."

    Liberty and equity (as its used here) contradict each other, as I already mentioned. Liberty refers to the absence of coercive inference, where people can exercise their individual rights, including their right to private property. From what you've written, I gather by equity you mean some form of wealth redistribution and/or coercive regulation administered by government against some in favor of others. Well, this conception of equity squarely conflicts with liberty. Under liberty, the initiation of physical force is absent; equity involves the institutionalization of such force.

    If you're worried about home invasions, you'd be worried most by the government for the government collects our money under the threat of coercive home invasions. A person who opposes such government aggression is neither a sociopath nor a terrorist (I can't imagine what it would mean if someone actually took that claim seriously). Nor does the government have to engage in systematic theft/suppression in order to foment strong social bonds among individuals within communities or to get neighbors to assist each other. In these cases, it governments that destroy communities and livelihoods by waging needless wars or siding with some special interests over others.

    What a cynical evaluation of human beings - you say that "If you think you can depend on human beings to do what is right forget it." If humans are so morally insouciant or corrupt, than why do you insist on granting government, a group of human beings, such authority? Its as if you assert that moral behavior must be coerced.

    I thought that one thing David Frum said was very important. He made the point that the American people need civil discourse about the health insurance reform issue. The reason he gave was that if some of the comments that have been made were actually true, if Obama were actually another Hitler, if the health insurance reform would in fact kill grandma, then we as responsible citizens should all be out there using every means available to fight it. As he put it, that why you don't say things like that.

    I am deeply concerned that some commentators have no sense of a social contract, no sense of the common good. This is a bad omen for the well being of the American democratic for of government. And that makes it a bad omen for every single one of us.

    Today in American we have islands of research and medical excellence surrounded by millions of health care recipients slowing being drowned by a vast ocean of expensive, mediocre health care insurance.

    What does health care cost today? Al lot, far more than any in other industrialized country. The most recent 2008 cost study from the Kaiser Foundation puts the annual insurance cost at $12,800 for a family of four with the employee picking up about $3,300. In actuality, the employee pays the entire cost, it just isn't shown on their pay stub. The reason for this is clear. Without the total cost being disclosed employees will not ask a lot of questions about the cost and benefit of their coverage. Nor will they be swapping this information with those employed elsewhere. It all just becomes part of they mystery of life. Medicare recipients, the oldest and costliest health care recipients in America are by far the most expensive to insure. But we also have some of the best coverage, if not the best care, of nearly all Americans. Current cost aside, why should younger people, society's current workers, object if this same coverage were made available as a public health care option?

    What I don’t want is an option to exit Medicare and buy, if it were even available, private health insurance as some have proposed. It would be far too costly and even if it were subsidized as Medicare is, it probably would not have the same freedom to choose or type of broad enforceable coverage that my Medicare plan does.

    In my simplified world, the calculation of the actual cost of my Medicare coverage and its options is easy. Multiply what I must pay to my private for-profit plan, roughly the 20% that Medicare doesn't cover, subtract my Medicare payment then add my Medicare part D drugs payments and there it is($152*5-96.40+ $24 = $687.60. per month) my approximate total cost. Since I pay $272.40 each month then all other working Americans are picking up the difference. While I’m at it, why can’t I simply pay Medicare for the additional 20 percent of coverage that I now pay to a for-profit insurer or are they providing this coverage at a loss?

    In Medicare terms, I am still young but the older I get the more expensive I will become. So I'm all in favor of making the imaginary "Death Boards" and "Death Panels" that Republican's like Sara Palin and others rail against totally real. But in my world, these boards WON'T control who dies or how someone must choose the manner by which they die. No sir! These boards would, on a regular basis, reallocate the "death tax," by determining after death the amount of someone's estate that will be allocated directly to health care coverage for all Americans. Maybe we couldn't save them from dying or further extend their life but now they have a chance to do this for someone else.

    Estate taxes vary from year to year and from one administration to another. By setting, fair and reasonable exemption standards and closing loopholes like generation estate tax skipping, estate taxes can easily generate in excess of $60 billion annually. This should provide the additional health care coverage Americans need. Is this borrowing from Peter to pay Paul? Sure, but is there any better or more appropriate place to borrow from? Yes sir, let's bring on those "death (tax) panels," I can’t wait.

    Michael Labeit,
    No social Contract means everybody must protect themselves in a world of survival of the fittest.
    If I am bigger and stronger than you are then I can take what ever you have and let you starve to death. If your house is burning down then you can get your garden hose out and try and put out the fire yourself. No social contract would mean the end of civilization. If you think you can depend on human beings to do what is right forget it.
    Without a meaningful social contract life would become chaotic and everyone would live in fear and trembling.
    We are dependent on social systems to maintain viable lives. Just like the laws of physics; social contract is the glue that holds society together.
    The sad state of Medical Insurance is a prime example of what would happen if there was no social contract and everyone did what ever worked for them with no concern for the welfare of others.
    The psychological term for no social contract is "sociopathic behavior" which is the frame of mind of terrorists.

    Did I hear someone say the government plan is going to kill people? Our current healthcare system (insurance companies) is killing people now!! That goes along with “we love our Medicare, but don’t give me a government run healthcare option.” People just don’t know, but that doesn’t stop them from deciding issues based on misinformation.

    Few can dispute the need for healthcare reform. THe media would do well to present an "executive summary" of the entire plan for Americans to review.

    Further, when our elected leaders are placed under the same healthcare plan as all Americans, then some level of confidence can be restored. What's good for all Americans should be the same for our leaders.

    Your program reinforced my decision. To my surprise, I'm for a public option.
    Reform is just going to lead to more fine print wrapped with red tape.
    Federal and state governments already have scattered laws on health care that private insurers manipulate for their own ends. The market isn't free because they are a cartel.
    The federal government should fold all these laws and policies into one program and run it. Those who need it could enroll.
    Private insurers should compete with it and those private companies that emphasize care and share and not lean and mean.
    I want a choice. I bet I'd have reasonably run and priced private insurer, and not one created and run by government committees, commissions or panels.

    Terry Pearson,

    "One hears the word "socialism" tossed around a lot in this debate. But of course a great deal of American life is already "socialized": the police, the army, the Coast Guard, the National Guards, education, water supply, sewer service...one could go on. No one complains about this level of "socialism".

    What makes you think no one complains about those things? *I* don't like government-run education, government-run water distribution, or government-run sewer services - the topic simply does not arise since most American's take government-run infrastructure and education as politico-economic gospel.

    In addition to this, it would be a non-sequitor to conclude that socializing the healthcare industry is perfectly fine because the government socializes other industries. Socialized healthcare will resemble socialized education - instead of inept students, we will have greater inefficiency and waste in the production and distribution of healthcare-related goods than we do now.

    I'm dismayed that both the media & lawmakers have limited the discussion of health care reform to either the Republicans who want the status quo (only private insurance) or to the democrats who want a public option to compete with private insurance. It's based on a failed framework. The framework is for working people to rely on their employer to provide health insurnce coverage. Actually it's anti-business because with double digit annual premium increases, it has become an unsustainable financial burden on small & medium size businesses. So, the frame work has to be changed. Take the primary burden off of business. We need a new framework if we want in America universal health care at an affordable cost. Neither a government plan all by itself will not be able to pay for the kind of care so many of us require. Neither can private insurance through the market place. As we see, it has failed. If private insurers defeat a government plan by accepting wothwhile changes such as accepting pre-existing conditions, they would be taking on additional claims, therefore they will have to raise their premiums. If that would occur, then in five years or so, we'll be facing the same situation with greater fury because the premium increases will be greater than it is now. There are other options that would have a better chance of achieving the aforementioned goal. They should be publicized to be included in the debat. One that I propose is a government/private insurance partnership. Everyone in the country enrolled in a government plan (sounds like single payer, but wait). It is a low cost plan, limited number of doctors who sign up for low fees, immediate treatment for life-threatening illness, but would be treated for non-life threatening illness when available. People can buy private insurance on top of the government plan, if they could afford it, to get a wider network of doctors and quicker treatment for non-life threatening illness. In this scenario, private insurance premiums would be lower than it is today because the government plan would be 1st payers up to its budget before private insurance payments kick in. I assume that most of the population would be able to buy private insurance. In this scenario, government/private insurance would not compete with each other, they would complement each other.

    I do not have a lot of comments but some questions:
    1) Where is personal responsibility in all of this debate? We keep smoking, eating fast food,watching endless television instead of getting exercise and not following the doctors recommendations for better health.Is government able to dictate personal health responsibility and should we pay for that?
    2) Why are doctors so maligned and why don't you have more of them on the program?
    3) Why are the concerned seniors not taken seriously? I have a medicare bill in front of me and for a claim of $1868.00 medicare only approved $62.48 and only paid $49.98. This was for a legitimate and necessary medical procedure. How long will Dr's see seniors with those kind of reimbursements, even if there is some over-billing, that is a pittance to repay someone for their services.
    4) We hear about the millions of uninsured but what about the many who decide to forgo insurance and just risk that they will stay well? That again goes to personal responsibility.
    These are some of my questions. I also have some things I would like to see in reform and I am relieved that they seem to be covered in this bill, that we have not seen but have heard about. Those are items such as the requirement for coverage even if there is a preexisting condition, not allowing insurance cancellations if you become critically ill, continual coverage if you change jobs and hopefully some way for high risk people to group together and have more affordable premiums that will not bankrupt them. Thank you for listening.

    John Barker writes,

    "That cheaper way is single payer publically funded, privately delivered universal healthcare. Every small employer who can add 2 + 2 should be demanding it. There are no profits to be made, no villas for CEOs to maintain, and there is the power of the government to negotiate prices. Market forces don't work in healthcare--you need healthcare when you need it! Profiteering in healthcare is immoral."

    Why is it immoral for entrepreneurs to compete to offer the best healthcare-related goods to consumers? This is what it means to seek profits. Entrepreneurs earn profits when they use factors of production to produce goods that their customers want. By condemning profiteering, you essentially are condemning mass production.

    What will motivate producers to satisfy consumer demand in the absence of profits? Goodwill? Charity? Please. The truly selfish producer is the one who seeks to offer the best goods at the lowest prices.

    Now, regarding market forces. If Michael Phelps lost a race between competing swimmers because he had weights tied to his limbs, who would you blame for his poor performance? Him or the weights? Similarly, if the federal government coercively intervenes in the healthcare industry by imposing licenses on healthcare-related vocations, restricting the introduction of new medicinal products, forcibly expanding insurance coverage in violating of actuary statistics, and subsidizing sickly and careless behavior through Medicare and Medicaid, would you blame the apparent inefficiencies of market forces on the market or on the government?

    You cannot obstruct the market and simultaneously blame it for its lack of efficacy, just like I cannot break your legs like Tony Soprano and coherently ridicule your lack of mobility.

    Furthermore, you advocate a single-payer system that is *publically-funded*. As I've asked before, what gives you the right to take the income of another, an income he/she has earned through his/her own productive effort, and use it to pay for your own expenses. A person is not entitled to something merely because he lacks it and needs it. What has been seriously neglected is the morality of government run/administered/regulated healthcare. Is it moral to use force to take from A to give to B if what is taken from A is the product of his mental/physical labour? I would submit that it is not moral, not whatsoever. It bastardizes A's incentive to produce in the first place, prevents him/her from enjoying the result of his work and, when performed on a macoeconomic level, reduces the productive capacity of an economy.

    As a Canadian who has lived in the United States for varying periods of time, starting in 1966, I find myself deeply disillusioned by the quality of the debate surrounding the issue of a comprehensive health plan for American citizens. I see the rightist response as a profoundly selfish one, this in a country which I have always admired for its generosity. One hears sneers about plans to "share the wealth", as though extending a helping hand to the less fortunate people were some sort of sin.In this regard, all western advanced countries except the United States have recognized that access to health care ought to be available to the humblest citizen.
    Since the Canadian health care system has often been made a whipping boy in the current discussion in the US, let me make a few comments about it. It is unrelated in nature to what is being proposed in the United States: it is a single-payer system administered with the cooperation of both federal and provincial governments. There are no premiums: the plan is financed via a sales tax. There are no equivalents of HMOs, however, there are several insurance companies which offer "topping-up" plans: coverage for such extras as ambulance service, oxygen, private room in hospital, coverage while travelling abroad.
    Incidentally, the claim that in Canada "the government" will choose your doctor for you, is nonsense: you find your own. The irony is, under most American insurance plans, your HMO DOES tell you whom you can see.
    One hears the word "socialism" tossed around a lot in this debate. But of course a great deal of American life is already "socialized": the police, the army, the Coast Guard, the National Guards, education, water supply, sewer service...one could go on. No one complains about this level of "socialism".
    In 2006 a poll was taken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asking Canadians "Who is the greatest Canadian in our history?" The winner? T.C.(Tommy) Douglas, the politician who brougt universal health care to Canada.
    Recently I heard someone say, in a discussion related to the American debate, that if a Canadian government were to move to abolish the country's system of health care, a civil war would erupt. I fully believe it.

    I find it funny that being 31yrs old, and really comming directly from the generation fighting so fiercly against the health insurance reforms being presented now that maybe i learned the wrong things they were teaching me. Apparently when I was taught in school to sit and listen to all sides of an issue before jumping to a conclusion is wrong. Perhaps having respect for others, and their opinions is also wrong. General respect of those people in possitions of authority (doctors, elected officials, lawyers, teachers). From the behavior shown in these town hall "so-called" meetings is to scream, yell, flail about and otherwise act like a toddler throwing a tantrum rather than intellegent debate. Ignoring any answer given from those officials your questioning, but rather screaming at them your opinion is the best means for "open communication." It's a sad state of affairs that people try so hard to instill such principles in their children, and expect such to be taught to them in the schools, yet that same behavior is forgot with nothing more than a few words by a talking head. People need to stop and think before they act, just like they preach to the youth. If you remember how you were expected to act while younger, perhaps ife might be a little easier for all of us.

    Earlier in these commentaries a 59 year old self employed man indicated that he paid $1500 per month to provide health insurance for his family or $18,000 per year. Another commentator who works for a small employer pays $10,000 per year. It doesn't end there, everytime these people buy something or use some service they pay for someone elses health insurance. Eighteen thousand plus dollars is horrific. Maybe they can afford it but even if you CAN afford it does it make economic sense to pay more for something if there is a cheaper way? Healthcare profiteers will love you and throw you kisses on their way to the bank but they won't give you any gold medals for your sacrifice. That cheaper way is single payer publically funded, privately delivered universal healthcare. Every small employer who can add 2 + 2 should be demanding it. There are no profits to be made, no villas for CEOs to maintain, and there is the power of the government to negotiate prices. Market forces don't work in healthcare--you need healthcare when you need it! Profiteering in healthcare is immoral. A reasonable health tax to support single payer in lieu of for profit uncontrolled health insurance premiums is a no brainer.

    David From on federalizing health insurance. His reference to banks being federalized was both astonishing and laughable...look how well they've done. Federal regulators acted much like the fox guarding the chicken coop. Now we've paid for replenishing the chickens with little left for ourselves. Food safety...another comparison...how may e-coli recalls has there been in the last year? How many recalls for toys and plastics and the dangers to children. I may not want to live in a state that criminalizes a woman's right to choose, but I want my state to decide for itself.
    Oh yes...how about automobiles? Who was it that allowed the electric car to be killed...the feds, because all of these guys were paid by lobbyiest...rights, states rights are critical for the citizens!

    I find it interesting that outsiders (non-US citizens) find us weak minded. I appreciate the viewpoint. But I think the problem is that we are un-educated about how the media can be use to distort views. I was very fortunate that I had to take a journalism class in high school. And, from that class I learned how to make a bad news event into a good one for my attended audience and how I could shape they opinions about that issue and vice verse for a good news event. I think that most of Middle America, as well as elsewhere in the country, are easily swayed because their main source of news are influenced solely by ratings and ad revenues from those entities that don't want health care reform. They'll win and the US citizen loses. Despite all of this mess, this is still a great country. It can be better if we think about the whole picture instead of each of us having such a selfish view.

    For the past two generations (since 1965 - the advent of Medicare), America's health care expenditures have been neatly, albeit somewhat accidentally, compartmentalized. The government has been responsible for funding the health care of our non-productive (and I mean that in a purely economic sense), elderly population via Medicare and our otherwise non-productive population via Medicaid. As you likely know, both are federal programs but the funding mechanisms are completely different. Medicaid is a federally-mandated program, but is funded at the state level (in fact, for a great number of states, it is the largest single budget item and a substantial contributor to various states' overwhelming deficits). Medicare is funded at the federal level, ostensibly through a separate federal payroll tax.

    The net effect of this has been that there is no direct competition for finite health care dollars among the three groups at issue: (1) the elderly, (2) the non-elderly, non-working poor and disabled, and (3) the able bodied, non-elderly working classes (who effectively finance all health care, but directly fund only their own). It is as if the government created three health care "pies" - one for each of these groups of people. If one pie gets bigger, it does not directly or necessarily cause any of the others to shrink.

    All of the leftist proposals for health care "reform" have one thing in common - a plan to require all of us to ultimately partake of the same government health care pie. Moreover, every concurrent promise to bring health care spending "under control" or to implement universal health care at "no net cost" or to do so without any increase to the national debt, can only be accomplished by drastically limiting the size and growth of that pie. When Obama talks about eliminating "unnecessary surgery" or "unneeded medical tests" or questions whether grandma would be better off "taking a pain pill" than having cardiac surgery, there can be no mistake - he is talking about controlling the size of the pie. Last week, I provided a link to a pdf copy of the entirety of HR 3200, the only completed draft health care "reform" legislation. Significant portions of that bill are devoted to the establishment of a brand new, vast federal bureaucracy whose sole mandate is to determine the relative cost-effectiveness of various medical and surgical interventions and to decree which of those shall be allowed and which not allowed. That is all about limiting the size of the universal health care pie.

    I think it behooves each of us to carefully and thoughtfully consider the social consequences of that which Obama and the leftists propose. Do we really want to pit our parents against our children, or ourselves against our parents or our grandchildren, in political battles for relative share of a single, nationalized, finite, growth-constricted, health care pie? Do we really want to set up a system where any increase in expenditures for care of the elderly is at the direct and proportional expense of care for the working, middle classes? Do we really want a system where we are forced to decide who is more worthy of our health care dollar - a thirty year-old permanently disabled by cerebral palsy or an eighty year old in need of a hip? These are exactly the choices that lie ahead if we let this monstrosity proceed.

    Right now, those among us 65 and older consume 70 of every 100 dollars spent on health care in this country (and for the next 20 years at least, the proportion of us 65 and over will continue to grow). Of that, perhaps half is spent during the last year of life (read, "end-of-life care"). Where do we suppose the pressure will be directed when it comes time to do the down and dirty work of actually "controlling" health care expenditures rather than giving it politically expedient lip-service? Among the non-elderly, by far the greatest users of health care resources are those with chronic, disabling conditions or diseases. In other words, the biggest "targets of opportunity" for health care savings are also our most vulnerable citizens - the old, the disabled, the sickest and the least "productive." Worse yet, HR 3200 would have a faceless, unelected, unaccountable group of government employees make those choices and, almost incredibly, the bill expressly provides that their decisions are not reviewable by anyone, including specifically the courts (see, HR 3200 at p. 124, Sec. 223 (f)).

    Friends, there are so many compelling reasons to fight nationalized health care that one ought to think very carefully before labeling any of them as primary. Yet, I actually wonder if this might not be the most important reason of them all. As onerous, destructive and unproductive as is class warfare, it seems to me vastly less corrosive to the social fabric than would be inter-generational warfare. At least class warfare is usually not at the expense of family. Generational warfare, on the other hand, would make family its first casualty. Right now, the Social Security system represents an unfunded, future obligation on our economy of 38 TRILLION dollars, and that number grows every day (see, Sloan, "The Next Great Bailout," Fortune Magazine, Aug. 17, 2009). The impending reality of that financial burden on our children and grandchildren will strain inter-generational relations enough. Let us not add the burden of asking for the human sacrifice of our old, our weak, our disabled, our defenseless. That simply cannot be, not in the America I know and love.

    I appreciated your guests’ insightful discussion on what has gone so terribly awry in the national debate over changing the way we deliver health care. I have never understood why private insurance companies, which by their very nature exist to make a profit for their shareholders, are the vehicles for providing access to health care, since in order to make a profit, they must find ways to not cover care. The analysis explains why despite the reported overwhelming popular approval for health insurance overhaul, including either a public plan to compete with private insurance companies or a single payer system, the media now trumpet dwindling support – excessive coverage of outlandish statements fueled by irresponsible politicians and outsized radio and television personalities.

    This explosion of anger and resentment on the part of a very vocal minority is not only directed at elected officials, but also at any fellow citizens who happen to disagree with them. I recently attended a rally in Austin, Texas sponsored by a coalition of conservative groups. As someone who obviously disagreed with their point of view (I was carrying a sign that said Single Payer Now) I attracted the attention of some in the crowd. I had not uttered a single word to anyone and was merely standing there with my sign. They were not interested in any kind of civil debate – instead they attempted to discredit my voice. I was asked, for example, if I was employed, and told that I did not look employed. I’m not sure what looking employed entails, especially on a Sunday morning in Austin, but the inference is clear. If one does not pay income taxes, one should put one’s sign down and be quiet. They also insisted that I looked unhealthy. While I am a healthy person, this speaks to the oft-stated notion that the American taxpayer should not have to pay for the so-called diseases of personal responsibility, which are sometimes associated with physical appearance. I was assessed as having anorexia. When that didn’t send me scurrying for the exit, I was told to move to Europe if I hated America so much. Interestingly, the people had no qualms about telling me that they made their living in the health insurance industry. Such is the tenor of the debate – the poor and the sick need not contribute and this despite the fact that they are disproportionately affected by lack of access to care, as the various sightings of Remote Area Medical indicate. My answer to the inappropriate questions and comments of these individuals: as a taxpayer (yes, an income tax payer) I would be perfectly willing to contribute more to make sure that those I care about, and those I don’t know, have access to health care.

    Has anyone else had similar encounters?


    Feel sorry for you poor Americans....All the time worrying about paying for your health care...Looks like the source of a lot of stress...And all because a bunch of insurance companies and wealthy Americans want to keep the field tilted in their favour...for such a smart bunch of people you sure seem easy to fool...Look around at the world and see how other developed countries handle health care...maybe take alook at gun laws too.....sorry to bring that up

    I wish I could stop feeling ill every time the subject of health insurance reform/health care reform comes up.
    Lawmakers are so disconnected from what is happening to Middle class existence in this country. They do not understand that this movement toward reform is virtually coming from the people who are currently paying for health care and laboring under the huge burden of premiums--one step away from denial of coverage--one step away from losing their job and plunging their families into non-coverage--one step away from bankruptcy.
    I think most legislators, certainly not all, but most, think that the people who are currently paying premiums and are insured, are satisfied with the situation. They are not. I have a wide range of friends of all different financial situations and everyone is unhappy with the anxiety that the insurance companies have caused us all.
    I am paying nearly ten thousand a year in premiums, this in the state of Massachusetts, where they assured us that these co-ops would work to help bring costs down. The co-op plans offered by the insurance companies are just as expensive and have all the pitfalls; there is no up side for me or my small business employer.
    No where do I see these issues being addressed except on Mr. Moyers show (thanks Bill!).
    People keep asking how we will pay for ..."IT" Seems to me we are already paying for ..."IT" and we will continue to pay for "IT" no matter what we do or don't do. So why not try a different method? Why not try to keep Medicaid from Bankrupting us by 2020? Why not cover everyone and pay doctors in a different and more appropriate way?
    The current system hasn't worked for a very long time and I for one would be happy to give the government every penny of that $10,000 I am already paying in premiums if they will just reign in these companies who are choking the life out of every family budget in the US.


    One commenter on this site states his biggest concern is how we even trust a government who keeps getting us into debt and thinks this debt is of no concern etc.
    He asks when our government will take responsibility for what they cause and do to the citizens of this country? That is an important question.
    The answer might be: when those that we elect actually represent ‘We the People’ as opposed to the special interests (one very influential lobby for example being those that represent the healthcare insurance) – one of many that line their pockets and set our representatives with formidable campaign contributions. They are very influential - when I get a response from my representative it is a form letter. Call me cynical but I’ll bet that’s not the case with these money spewing lobbyists.
    Getting back to trust in the government - the same government that cannot be trusted is working hardest for those that actually do trust them - Health insurance, Wall Street, military industry etc. they seem to have a lot of confidence in our current system. Perhaps it’s because our representatives respond best to their needs: war - waste- can be very very profitable.
    Unfortunately those that profit most from our system are also insidiously effective in creating the fear and disinformation to keep things moving in their direction.

    Single payer advocates you have an opportuity. A historic vote will take place this September. For the first time there will be an up or down vote on single payer HR676. Democrats did not have a final bill August first so the wording of HR3200 was replaced by HR676 The Extended and Improved Medicare for All Act. Contact you Congress people and tell them to vote YES on HR676. Visit any of the following websites for further information:

    1payer.net

    Healthcare-Now.org

    PDA.org

    ADA.org

    Healthjustice.org

    And while you are at it tell your Congress people to enact public funding of elections.

    I agree with Kathleen Jamieson that the media are not doing their job of covering the reform honestly. They focus on all the opposition because it is loud and "exciting" rather than rational. The mainstream media have yet to present why this push for reform has been growing over the years and the dire situation of health care access today. Only PBS (especially Bill Moyers) and MSNBC are bothering to do the investigative journalism required to cover the issue fairly. Why aren't the others showing those long lines for free care and presenting the dire statistics about what happens to people without access? This situation should put to rest the idea of the "liberal" media. They are very right leaning instead. They are showing and reporting only the right-wing objections and absolutely none of the reasons for a single-payer system, which is the best way to cover everyone and control costs. Kip Sullivan's "The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and How We'll Get Out of It" presents the statistics and proof that single payer is the answer. I haven't seen or heard an interview on any main-stream station with him or anyone with his knowledge. That's probably because it isn't as exciting as screamers at town hall meetings.

    My other concern is that criticism of the pharmaceutical companies has been wiped out of the conversation. Did they buy their way out with their offer to cut the doughnut hole in half? That's a drop in the bucket compared to their obscene profits. When will the right to negotiate drug prices get some traction? I haven't heard one word about that, and that is one of the largest reasons for the skyrocketing cost of insurance and for seniors trying to pay for Part D. Someone should investigate how much each drug costs them to make versus how much they charge for it, and don't let them get away with claims of research costs because that is bogus. The government does most of the breakthrough research, not drug companies. Why aren't these companies being investigated and reported on by the media?

    A final concern is our moral imperative to be our brother's keeper and love our neighbors. I am an active member of JONAH (Joining Our Neighbors Advancing Hope), a group of people from faith-based organizations in our area working for four social justice issues. Our local is made up of people from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim congregations. Our state organization is Wisdom, and the national is Gamaliel. We believe that our faiths require us to find common ground to solve problems for the benefit of all. As such, we see universal health care as fundamental, grounded in the fact that each person is endowed by God with value. As people of faith, we believe that it is a moral imperative to transform health care so that it is inclusive,accessible, affordable, and accountable for all.

    I challenge the media to research the positions of the main faiths (both Christian and other) to see how many have taken a stand for reform, including a public option and/or single payer or just in general. Many in our country do not see the issue in these terms, which is fine, but many do not even know their churches have taken a position, at least in a general way. In the least, it should shame people into letting go of the hatred, selfishness, and racism that have taken over the debate.

    Jacquelyn B. Christner

    My biggest concern is how we even trust a government who keeps getting us into debt and thinks this debt is of no concern. I see so many government programs with abuse on a daily basis. Our governments answer for everything is tax, tax and more tax.
    When is someone in this government going to responsibility for what they cause and do to the citizens of this country?
    This government can not even address immigration, welfare and so on. Do I trust this government and Washington? This country is all about ones self and not what is correct for its citizens.
    Let’s stop the waste and run this country like a respectable business, I bet the president does not even care about social, military and government wasted dollars.
    Do I have confidence in our government to do what is correct for health insurance reform? Look at the track record on everything else this government gets involved with and the waste that is consistent.
    Enough said!


    I noticed that insurance companies offered to lower costs with the contingent that all become insured. In other words, it's not because they have a change of heart but that hospital costs would be lowered when the subsidized cost of non-pay patients is taken away. I have no confidence they would keep rates down either. I do note a trend that government seams to be at war with more financially strapped people: jobs moved overseas, pro-illegal immigration, stricter rules on bankruptcy, car insurance, taxes on smoking, soda tax, and now health insurance.

    Still seams to me that there is not effort to take an in-depth look at what costs so much in the hospitals: insurance costs, profit, and come up with a percentage of the total cost for each of those items in a typical bill. I think hospitals use the same pricing book which could be a factor why it is consistently the same high cost (leads one to think nothing wrong), yet in places with a low cost of living, hospitals run better for cost (medicare dollars go further).

    •How well do you think the media has informed the public about the complex issues of health reform? Are the important issues being discussed?

    Not very well. They only focus on outrages people at townhalls. before that they only showed Republicans speaking lies about how the bills would be bad for small business and raise taxes on everyone and cost trillions of dollars and force millions off of their private insurance. All of these things are false. A bit of reading at CBO.gov and kff.org and factcheck.org and politifact.org and epi.org and commonwealthfund.org will help with understanding these things.
    Only just recently have there been showings of Remote Area Medical on mainstream media channels. Are not tens of thousands of Americans dieing each year (see politifact.org and their check of a claim that as many as 22,000 Americans die each ear due to lack of healthcare) worth the evening news?

    •In your view, what dimensions of health reform deserve more scrutiny than they’ve received in the media?
    We need more coverage of all of the hard working Americans with health problems who cant get decent medical
    care. We need much more factchecking on the news. What has news become? Its just a guy going out
    with a camera and saying "look, theres a bunch of people yelling" Well thats great. Id be yelling to if I actually
    believed my government was going to execute me if I got too sick. The news should be in the business
    of, if not using facts to inform people, then at the very least to point people towards actual information and
    not leaving it at "well this Republican said theyre going to kill grandma so that must be the truth".
    I watch broadcast news just waiting for ridiculous things to be said. Local channels are showing that guy
    at the New Hampshire townhall saying to Obama "you cant tell us youre not going to raise taxes" and then
    THEY NEVER SHOW Obamas response!! What kind of editing is that????

    Today's Washington Post is instructive...

    Front page story: "Loose Network of Activisits Drives Reform Opposition." - an article about the origins of the town hall protests.

    Buried in the Outlook section on B5 is, "Your Handy Health Care Cheat Sheet," a brief, 1,000 world article that attempts to outline the healthcare reform proposals in terms that the average American can understand (read: decontextualized generalities).

    The foreboding message in Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" has come home to roost in America. The sooner we all realize that the mainstream media deals in "infotainment" and not information, the sooner we'll have a chance at restoring something resembling an honest, deliberative public discourse in this country.

    Unfortunately, times are not conducive to such epiphanies. To be sure, the pendulum is still swinging in the "infotainment" direction; for instance, the rise of YouTube and the advertising value of its "viral" hits means that traditional outlets need to follow suit to survive. If YouTube has the Specter protestor video and MSNBC does not, where are the advertising dollars going to land?

    Bottomline: as advertising money continues to talk, honest, deliberative discourse will continue to walk.

    Posted by: Laurence Malakoff | August 15, 2009 7:16 PM :

    Thank you for this level headed, informative piece.
    Speaking to the public in my pharmacy, convinces me that everyone picks a side totally on how it may affect them personally. Obviously the public is totally uninformed about any plan, cost, medicare, medicaid on so on.
    Shame on our President for not carrying the ball and leading the info blitz and helping everyone understand this complex issue.
    What bothers my most is the news that the Presidnet backed off allowing anyone negotiating drug prices with the Pharmaceutical Industry. If the bulk of the country knew what medicine really costs instead of just how much their copay is, this would never have happened. Just ask someone what their Rx costs if they don't have a plastic card. Next time your child gets dermatological medicines, ask your Pharmacist what they would have paid without a copay or a coupon. You will be overwhelmed. There is a reason drug companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers make so much money!

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    this strikes a chord with me. I know very well how much my meds cost. I used to get
    my meds through the government run Medicaid and i never had to worry about getting
    those meds. when Medicare Part D came (which introduced private insurance into the mix)
    I suddenly found myself searching for which company had which plan that was offerred in
    my area that covered my drugs.
    Now I constantly wonder if my insurance will change their formulary and drop my meds.
    They just stopped covering my brand name and so now I take the generic.
    Next year they could drop any of my meds alltogether. Its scary.
    The government run system is much more stable and apparently more cost effective.

    BTW - I sure am glad that guy from Kaiser mentioned that the House bill really is an extremely 'down the middle' kind of bill. Im thinking we need to start pushing harder for single payer again.

    We, as a nation, went through 206 years before we topped a debt of $1 trillion dollars in 1981, at the beginning of "Reaganomics". In 2008, only 27 years later, our debt was $10 trillion. In 1987, after 100 years, the Dow had never broken above 2,000 points. In 2007, only 20 years later, the Dow peaked above 14,000 points.

    It should be obvious that a $10 trillion "stimulus", sourced from other people's money, applied over the past 25 years or so, was responsible for the various bubble economies, and has been instrumental in creating a comfortable retirement for today's retirees, the very people who were in their 40s and 50s when Reagan was elected. It was the generational "theft of the century", dressed up to look like "values and hard work".

    My question is why are today's retiree's views even being considered in this healthcare reform debate? Usually, convicted felons lose their right to vote.

    I agree that our debt pattern cannot continue, but it is funny to see a generation that stole $10 trillion critiquing Obama's $1.5 trillion combined bailouts/stimulus. I can only guess their anger at Obama is over copyright infringement, for the process of using excessive government spending as an indirect path to a fattened 401K is a patented process that belongs only to the current generation in retirement.

    The first thing that should have been done with all health care is make every cent paid towards health care 100% deductable either short form or long form, and I mean down to a band aid.

    Thank you President Obama for making health care an issue to be dealt with.

    I just now got a job and a new B+BS card. In calling for a doctor for my asthma, the first question asked is "do you have health insurance?". How awful we live in this country where money rules.

    For the complainers of this legislation, your turn is coming in this barrel of misdeeds called health care USA, you will sing a different tune soon enough.

    As a Canadian temporarily living in the US I am experiencing first hand the confusion and fear of the current health care system. Providers routinely bill inflated costs and then often accept what insurance pays. Those without insurance live in fear of illness.
    David Frum, a Canadian who would NOT acknowledge the many merits of universal health care which he and his family have enjoyed, was a disappointment and an embarrassment to his fellow countrymen.
    What Americans don't understand is that they already live in a semi-scialized system. Does the police or fire department send you a bill for responding - NO. They are a shared benefit of your tax dollars. How simple life would be if the medical system operated under the same premise.
    Pool the dollars and provde a service that everyone can access.
    In Canada, we may not have a Cat Scan in every doctors office, but no one dies because they are afraid to seek treatment.

    The Journal, like Obama, have taken to task calling health care reform - Health Insurance Reform. Forgive me for not going along with the symantical games politicians and the media play in order to sell us on legislation that borrows Madison Ave. tactics while the corpse still rots underneath.

    How can we move this discussion forward when symantic coersion takes center stage? Word play didn't stop expanding the wars, nor did it give us an administration that is more transparent than the last. In fact, this administration has kept and expanded many of the polices of the last administration.

    Perhaps what we're seeing in these town-hall meetings is the backlash of coersive tactics in a way where the people are telling Obama "We don't trust you".

    Like the old adage says; If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... chances are, its probably a duck!

    "Kathleen Hall Jamieson thought Obama did rather well in his town hall....I don't know what she was watching, but what I saw was and endless confused repetition of talking points spoken by a man who didn't understand much beyond the basics he had been coached on. He couldn't elaborate on any point and repeated himself (for example his painful and badly delivered analogy using the Post Office vs. FedEx & UPS, which he thoroughly mangled)."

    I couldn't agree more! I couldn't help but think that I had watched a completely different town hall meeting. Therefore, for me, the interview lost some of its sway.

    From what I understand, Barack Obama, behind closed doors, met with Big Pharma, Billy Tauzin, and made a deal -- the government will NOT negotiate the cost of prescription drugs. Instead, the pharmaceutical companies have agreed to cut the price of prescription drugs, voluntarily, to the tune of $80 billion. My question is -- Can we believe them? My own answer to myself is -- I doubt it!


    My post ended up on a thread that had nothing to do with health care, even though I am on the health care thread. I'm trying again.

    "And I was disappointed that there was a huge hole in the presentation. The gigantic elephant in the room that none of you mentioned is the connection between the positions taken by Republican and some Democrat Congress persons and Senators and the large amounts of money those Legislators have taken from the Health Care Industry. Not one word about that."

    I agree with this post by another blogger. Barack Obama, himself, during his presidential campaign took in $18 million from various companies included in the health industries. Senator Max Baucus took in more than $4 million, and Blue Dog Democrat, Senator Ben Nelson, NE, took in more than $2 million.

    Although there was some discussion on the program about the phrase " health insurance reform" versus "health care reform," no one thought to include information about the bill forcing people to buy health insurance in much the same way that we buy car insurance -- meaning that buying health insurance will be mandatory. In truth, the health insurance companies, in that case, must be salivating since the government is planning to enlarge the marketplace for them. Ultimately, this is another shift of wealth upwards to the already wealthy insurance executives, and health insurance companies.

    I have also read that if someone doesn't buy health insurance, because it might not still be affordable, and then gets sick and needs a doctor and/or hospital, those people will pay a fine of 2.5% of their yearly income. So, they punish the poor and needy again. These people will never be able to get out from under the weight of their debt.

    I have heard Barack Obama, himself, say that this plan will not cover everyone. So, exactly what does he have in mind? The so-called "strong" public option seems to become more vague as time passes, and yet, according to polls, about 70% of the population of this country favors a strong public option, or something closer to "Medicare for All." In other words, a single-payer bill.

    Mr. Moyers, I watch your program every week, and I learn more about the issues from you, and Amy Goodman, than I do from any other journalists on television. Thank you for what you do to keep us informed! The program with Wendell Potter, the ex-CIGNA employee was eye-opening, to say the least. The fact that he stated, in that interview, that Michael Moore's film, SICKO, "hit the nail on it's head," and told the truth is, I think, important. Have you interviewed Michael Moore? Have you interviewed Ralph Nader, who is currently working 24/7 on a single-payer bill. An interesting panel would be Wendell Potter and/or Linda Peeno; Ralph Nader and Michael Moore. You could show clips of Michael's film, which is as relevant today as it was when it was first released.

    It's just an idea. Thanks, again, for all you do!!


    Kathleen Hall Jamieson thought Obama did rather well in his town hall....I don't know what she was watching, but what I saw was and endless confused repetition of talking points spoken by a man who didn't understand much beyond the basics he had been coached on. He couldn't elaborate on any point and repeated himself (for example his painful and badly delivered analogy using the Post Office vs. FedEx & UPS, which he thoroughly mangled). This was all done in the context of a carefully rehearsed performance where Obama didn't have any surprise questions at all. He did sometimes seem angry in a hissy fit kind of way, but hardly forceful like an executive in charge who understands what he's talking about.

    I think the truth is that the Obama administration was more interested in striking deals with the Insurance and BigPharma industries who so generously supported them, than they were in creating legislation that will improve the lives of Americans.

    The worst part is that this legislation will inject massive funding into the Insurance and BigPharma industries, because many of the new participants in the 'system' will be heavily subsidized by the government, even as these industries will still be permitted to cherry pick the most profitable clients and leave expensive care to the government. The insurance industry is very keen to force healthy young adults to buy insurance (or to force the government to buy it for them, at prices set by the industry), but the insurance industry is perfectly content to let the government look after the elderly.

    What America needs is true reform. America needs politicians brave enough and smart enough to fight against the greed and corruption of the present administration's collusion with Big Insurance and Big Pharma, and to demand true reform. Would Single Payer insurance be best for Americans? I think so, but failing that, America could consider a Swiss style system that still permits insurance companies to operate in the primary care market, and which does bargain for its drug prices.

    David Frum feels that the private aspect of healthcare should not be tampered with, because he feels that private corporations are behind all the innovation and excellence to be found in the American healthcare arena, and that regulations that would in any way limit profits or diminish competition would mean the end of American technological superiority. This view is, of course, based solely on ideology, and has nothing to do with reality at all.

    First, most of the research being done in the medical field in America is already government subsidized. The medical and drug industries, for relatively minor financial contributions that do not reflect the true cost of the research, are able to get universities to direct their research towards projects controlled by private drug companies, and it's only recently that some universities have insisted they share the profits if a patent is taken out because of the results of the research. But drug companies are still able to buy large amounts of research at cut-rate prices. This is a classic case of 'Privatizing Profits and Socializing Losses'. The universities, subsidized by the government, pay for the bulk of all the research, but only get their costs covered if the research bears profitable fruit.

    Drug companies also play many games with the patent law, including the fact that they will keep new, innovative drugs and treatments secret until the patents expire on previous drugs and treatments, so they won't have a newer drug that takes away from the profit of the older patent.

    Drug companies spend much more money on marketing than they do on research, including marketing to invent uses for their products. Drug companies spend millions to get people to take unnecessary medications, or to take expensive new drugs that are no more (and often less) effective than older, cheaper, generic drugs.

    What the drug companies and the insurance companies have discovered is that they can make more profits from rationing supply and maximizing income, and they can accomplish this by offloading costs onto taxpayers; by paying low wages to their own employees; and by using patent and tax laws to wring the most money out of the system with the least cost to themselves. This way, the top executives in the industries live lives of obscene wealth at the expense of average Americans.

    People who show up and scream in an attempt to drown out questions and answers ARE a mob. When they bring guns and signs hinting at assassination, they're potential assassins and a danger to a stable government. When the authorities turn them loose after questioning something is very, very wrong.

    David Frum is a republican and contrary to what you think, Moyers has had conservatives on in the past.

    The insurance companies are getting between you and your doctor when they refuse to pay for procedures that you need and can't afford out of your own pocket, a fact you don't seem to have mastered yet.

    I guess you haven't seen the doctors who used to go to the third world countries to give free care setting up shop here recently, have you. The fact that it isn't enough to treat everyone means what to you? That they should just suffer and die?

    Why is it when large groups that disagree with the liberal administration show up to express there view, right or wrong, they are a mob? When the liberals did it in the last election it was grass roots organized action group. Is that what Mr. Obama did before he was president. I see the politician not holding town hall meeting because there constituent are showing up. That alone tells me that there is not enough specificity in the health care plan. Nothing is free, especially when run by the government. Revenue neutral did not work for the republicans and it will not work for the democrats. What will it cost us. Because I work and am sure I will pay for it.

    “Death Panels” Hype yes but to every hype there is a bases. Government control of the aging will have to create panel to make those determinations. I am not sure that regulations to govern that are a bad thing. At least open discussion that results in clarification. Anyone who has cared for a parent that is near life’s end has struggled with what care to provide and not provide. The medical industry does that today rather you like it or not. Rather than cut this out of the bill it need to be address in greater detail, because it will happen in some form. It has to. So do not bury you head discuss it.

    What I do not see is Obama admitting is that you will not have the same coverage. Small business employers will dump their employees on the government program. If he doesn’t see that he is blind. Why would I continue to fund out of my pocket something the government will provide? Business looks at the bottom line my friend. My daughter makes a good living and has had a hard time finding any insurance she can afford. Don’t mix the poor with the working poor. Set up programs that combine small business into large organization that allows collect power with the insurance companies. That should be the extent of government involvement there.

    What is fundamental to heath reform is how to reduce cost of care and insurance. Limit claims, set up a panel with teeth that will control the quality of care. Just because a doctor or hospital makes a mistake you should not be able to sue. That needs to be limited. We cannot afford that today. I always here after someone wins millions of dollars (which they were incapable of earning in there life), I did it to make a change in the health industry. You did my rates went up because your settlement got passes on to me. Address that, you get a twofer there, quality care and lower costs.

    Let’s talk about helping the poor. Health care is not a right. We allow anyone to walk into a hospital and get care; in fact it is against the law to not give care. That is totally unregulated and a cost driver. The poor us the emergency room as there health care provider. That is expensive. That needs to stop. If someone uses a hospital and cannot pay that bill needs to go to the government. I do not believe we know what the cost of giving care to the poor cost. You hind it in my health care cost then bitch when they are too high. Exposing the cost would force government to take action. If you cannot eat we do not force restaurant to feed the poor. We set up soup kitchens, charitable organization like churches provide support. Something along those lines needs to be set up for the poor only government program need to be involved and funded separately. That will never happen as then the liberals could not hide there agenda.

    By the way did you get that I am conservative in though, you might try having them on when you discuss issue like this.

    Health insurance and their lobbyists are half of the root of the problem. The other half is the inability to get anything passed that will allow us to make deals for cheaper drugs.

    You wanted oversight? You got it. Problem with that is the health insurance companies had a hand in writing it so rules are deliberately complicated and difficult to navigate. More staff is required to process than in the past. Be careful what you wish for....

    You and your panel kept on reassuring your viewers that what should be happening is not health care reform but health insurance reform.

    I'm reading a book by Dr. Andrew Weil called "Why Our Health Matters". He argues that it is wrong to keep the American health care system going the way that it is.

    He points out that the rise of the cost of American health care has gone from $8 billion in 1950 to $75 billion in 1970 to what is now $2.5 trillion in 2009. If things keep going the way they are, it will be $4 trillion by 2015.

    The cost of health care has increased 274 times what it was in 1950. The average cost of all other goods and services has increased 8 times.

    On a per-capita basis, Americans spending on health care has gone from $352 per person in 1970 to $8,160 per person in 2009.
    If these trends continue, a family of four, in the next seven to nine years, will spend around $64,000 annually on health care.

    Health care as a percentage of GDP has gone from 5% in 1960 to 16% today. If these trends continue, it will be 33% in the year 2020.

    Even by the late '50s, 93% of drugs could be paid out-of-pocket. It is now only 25%. A semi-private room in a hospital averaged $30 per day. Today, it can cost up to $1,700 per day. An adult visit to an emergency room can cost about $700. Health insurance, in fact, was only needed for major medical or catastrophic medical situations.

    To sum up (no pun intended), it doesn't matter how this current situation is or will be paid for, if it keeps on going the way it has, it will eventually bankrupt the nation.

    I feel Ms. McCaskill sold out. She won't be getting my vote next time.

    D.C. Eddy writes,

    "Society depends on a social contract that assures liberty, justice and equity."

    I recognize no such social contract. Why should I be bound by the terms and conditions of a contract that I have not agreed to? Contracts are voluntary, not coerced agreements.

    Furthermore, your invoking of economic equity (I presume some form of economy equality) contradicts your mentioning of liberty. Liberty is the absence of coercive interference or suppression. Equity as you use it refers to a decreasing of the income gap. Economic equity cannot be achieved unless pursued through the initiation of force, i.e., wealth redistribution. Yet the initiation of force negates liberty.

    Thanks for a level headed discussion about health insurance reform. My question is has anyone checked Springer's ratings of late??? How did they entice the Springer audiences out of the studio and into the town hall meetings? The behavior is embarrassing and beyond sad. I have viewed some of the town hall meetings in Oklahoma via the internet and my challenge to my elected representatives is if they do indeed agree something needs to be done - DO IT. I live in Oklahoma and hear the constant repetition of the misinformation surrounding this issue and it is disheartening. Your program gives me hope that there is a wide audience of people like me who want the real information - both negative and positive. Thank you.

    D.C. Eddy,

    That some capitalists, individuals of high finance, operate by accepting subsidies and special privileges from socialists and interventionists in government again has nothing to do with the fact that socialISM depends upon capitalISM, specifically socialist states copy, among other things, prices generated in market economies.

    In a free-market I would not have to worry about hospitals or insurance companies denying me care as long as I was able to pay for it. Insurance costs and denials are high today because government regulations force insurers to cover people in ways that violate their actuary-produced risk assessments. In order to deal with the increased risk, insurance companies raise prices. If they were allowed to abide by the mathematical models and functions of their statisticians, insurance costs would drop significantly. But that's the ideal of universal coverage for you.

    Exchange is a positive-sum game, not a zero-sum game. Trade allocates goods towards those who want them. If I exchange goods with a non-coercive monopoly, I benefit.

    Mr Bill Moyers
    As a WWII "blue collar-baby" I'm only able to see the tip of the Healthcare ice berg; here in Massachusetts health insurance is mandatory. What I'm fearful of...is a future Congressional approved National Railroad stimulus package to transport individuals consuming to many Medicare $$$$$ to a State of Oregon encampment where Euthanasia is legal!

    Great work Mr Moyers, EXCEPT, you didn't call David Frumm on his anti State's Right's opinion that Health Insurance regulation should be federal! At least, you could have done so with a wink.

    I'd like Libertarian laws in Massachusetts to be made federal - decriminalization of pot and recognition of gay marriage. Perhaps Mr Frumm would support that too.

    David Frum,
    Good point. It is true that the political hecklers causing a ruckus at the Town Hall Meetings and the shock jocks who make malicious statements are using mob psychology to create hate and discontent which will lead to terrorism.
    The Republicans need to get over their busted egos and help heal our nation instead of tear it apart.
    They need to re-read Plato's Republic and make the necessary changes of policies to a position of statesmanship that Plato envisioned. The Republic is based on what is good not what is greedy and sociopathic.

    Michael Labeit,
    Capitalists also depend on socialists to survive...
    They depend on people to buy the products and services they sell. They also depend on people to design and build the products and perform the services.
    It is the demand side of economics which is everyone who spends the money that supports the supply side of economics.
    When the demand side of economics cannot perform its function; the supply side of economics fails and it is the capitalists who are the people who are jumping out of windows to their death.
    Society is all about people. Even the capitalists are people who depend on social services. Would you like it if you went to a hospital and they left you to die because your insurance company would not pay your medical bills?
    Society depends on a social contract that assures liberty, justice and equity.
    A monopoly is a monopoly by any other name and the object of a monopoly is that only one person wins and everyone else losses.

    The health care debate is one of those topics that has inflamed tempers over ideologies, and half-truths. One thing is clear however, the media is partisan on this topic and the lines have been drawn clear and crisp.

    Racial politics is not in short supply as the media is injecting it at every opportunity it can. Mr. Moyers is a testament to this observation as he commented on racism in the very opening of this piece. The cable news networks are going as far as saying that 'socialism' is the new "n" word. Are you kidding me?

    Speech is the other issue that I find the media is attacking zealously. When Code Pink was shouting "war criminals" at Bush and Cheyney, no one attacked them for being 'un-patriotic'. When the cover of Mother Jones, The Progressive, and The Nation dipicted Bush and his administration as fictional characters ranging from the Witch from The Wizard of Oz, to the Joker from the Batman series - speech was protected. Now that people are yelling at their congress creatures at town hall meetings, the media thinks its time to reassert some limits to free speech. I think that the idea of even entertaining such a proposal is bile! There's nothing more American than showing your elected officials your discontent, especially at a time when record deficits are threatening the value of the dollar, and the destructive implications that will have on this and future generations.

    I thought that if anyone was going to shed light on this topic in a more neutral manner, that someone was going to be Mr. Moyers. Boy, was I wrong! It seems that the virus of racial politics and anti-free speech has spilled into the last bastion of somewhat neutral news infecting a program called - The Journal.

    I am trying to dissuade my absolute-antecedent given my naive objectivity whose consequences WERE NOT manufacturing consent... ANY CONSTRUCTIVE RESOLVE FOR CARE-INDUSTRY-WORKERS REGARDING living wage OPTIMIZATION? That being said...

    HOW WOULD A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT OR SOCIALIST DETERMINE JUST REWARDS OR COMPENSATION having been "occupationally" engaged?

    Re-structured divide & conquer by redundant & expensive mandates; graduating in the year of the patient bill of rights was no free lunch.

    Rather a double jeopardy, a CNA market demand with a private dilemma. Neither a RN nor scholar, No loan discharge here.

    HOW DOES A HUMAN, find the $ resources to remain authentic & productive without political or social judgments?

    Hindsight, Received Dept of Labor sponsored training in Good Lab/Manufacturing Practices FDA regs Section 820 RE: Medical Devices without recent, competitive QC bench-work, bailouts or coverage...it is what I still don't know, what market?

    The August 14 program “Towards a Healthier Debate” failed to live up to the high standards of the Bill Moyers’ Journal, and it failed to promote a healthier debate for several reasons.
    (1) It failed to mention several important facts, and obscured others. For example, all 3 guests pretended to analyze public opinion, without mentioning that a majority of the public supports a Single Payer system as do a majority of doctors and nurses.


    (2) Because your 3 guests were mired within the limitations of conventional liberal thinking, they failed to understand the town hall meetings: They “analyzed” the rage expressed at the town hall meetings without mentioning that much of the outrage has been manipulated by various corporate “swift boat”-type organizations (See Rachel Maddow’s excellent investigative reporting on this right-wing campaign.)

    Anyone looking at the images of the town hall meetings can see that the protagonists are almost exclusively White, and that their signs and statements are very often explicitly racist. They are not just upset about healthcare: they cannot stomach a popularly elected African-American President. Yet because of their “centrist” biases, both Altman and Jamieson pretended to see “extremists of both the Left and the Right.” Where, besides in their imaginations, did they see Left-wing extremists? Did they see any Single Payer activists carrying guns? Hanging a congressperson in effigy? No: these threats of violence have only appeared among the right-wing protagonists, but pundits such as Altman and Jamieson generally need to position themselves between “extremists of both the Left and the Right, whether or not these ideological bookends have any relationship to the reality they are purporting to examine.

    3) All three of the guests purported to discuss the dire dangers of reforming the US healthcare mess for “The Deficit” without mentioning two relevant facts: (A) The major contributor to the US budget deficit is military spending, i.e. the wars. Yet the wars, and the hundreds of military bases around the world, were not even mentioned. (B) As a number of analysts, including on the excellent prior Moyers programs on Healthcare have shown, creating a Single Payer system by eliminating the private for-profit health, hospital and pharmaceutical industry from the healthcare system would substantially reduce costs: it is only this hybrid system being discussed currently that would be costly because it leaves in place the private system, its gargantuan profits, its obscene CEO pay, and its bloated administrative costs to doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
    4) While Bill Moyers is usually excellent at courteously exposing the contradictions and fallacies of his guests, he allowed David Frum to characterize the Democrats as “the Party of Equality” and the Republicans as “the Party of Liberty.” (Bill tried to say “Inequality” but let Frum get away with insisting on “Liberty.”) But this is hogwash, and gross oversimplification regarding both parties. Beyond that, where is the Liberty for someone who has to lose her house to pay her medical bills? Get Real!

    Bill, I think a very good question is why is there so much rage about this health care or health insurance reform issue compared to other major legislative issues of 2009. Yes, there has been considerable fear, anger, and rage over the global warming and financial regulation legislation, but not anywhere near the level we are seeing regarding health care/insurance reform. My suggestion is that we are seeing this level of fear, anger, and rage because most Americans, and probably most people, believe that their physical bodies are the full extent of their existence. What Americans are raging about is that they are fearful of not receiving the health care service that they have come to believe they must have. You have expressed your religious/spiritual background many times and have interviewed many on religious/spiritual issues, so I think it would be a natural for you to interview knowledgeable persons on this question. I think it would be very interesting to know whether Americans who have a definite belief in the non-physical part of their beings have this kind of fearfulness regarding loss of health care. Bill, having a program of this type might help many people who otherwise would be pulled into this fearful morass presented to us by those who are raging. Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t think there is any good/bad here as long as violence does not result. Those who are raging, without violence, are doing all of us a wonderful positive service.

    Joel,

    Jefferson was an expressed laissez-fairist. He claim that "that government is best which governs least" that government should protect against coercion aimed at person or property, and that government should not take from the mouth of labour what it has earned.

    If by monopoly you mean a single seller or supplier in an industry than government is the quintessential monopoly; it is an agency with the exclusive control to enforce rules of social conduct over a given geographical area.

    Our government monopolizes roads, utilities, schools, mail carrying services, and countless other things within our economy. So if you've got a problem with monopolies, than government should be your number one enemy.

    Secondly, a distinction should be made between coercive monopolies and non-coercive monopolies. Government is a coercive monopoly for it attains its status as a single supplier through force. A non-coercive monopoly is an institution that attains its single supplier status through economic performance, by overcoming its competition or by offering new goods that no one else has offered. You treat monopolies as if they are one homogeneous group. Jefferson surely was opposed to coercive monopolies created by the government but would not have been opposed to non-coercive monopolies in the slightest.

    For years (I don't know if this is still the case) there was *one* doll repairing store in Manhattan, NY. Its status as a single supplier in the doll repairing industry would have made it a monopoly (a non-coercive one) but such an enterprise hardly qualifies as sinister. Yet, it would nevertheless be an infamous "monopoly."

    That corporate personhood does not appear in the Constitution is again very much irrelevant. Abortion rights don't appear in the Constitution either, yet it would be a flagrant non-sequitor to conclude that therefore abortion should be criminalized.

    We are, on the economic spectrum, easily *left* of the Founders. The Founders as a whole would have opposed the Federal Reserve, the Departments of Education, Energy, Mining, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, Transportation, the New Deal, WW1, Korea, Vietnam, the income tax, the bailouts, all of our "czars," most of our legislation, and most of our regulatory agencies, with the exception of Hamilton. All of these phenomena were big government phenomena.

    Like hell socialism isn't about confiscating property and eroding production incentives. The socializing process would, by definition, involve the coercive nationalization of the nonhuman factors of production such as land (productive space and natural resources) and capital goods (reproducible productive factors). The government doesn't ask for ownership of the means of production, it seizes ownership irrespective of the private owners wishes. Marx's "to each according to his work" is based upon his long debunked labour theory of value which states that goods derive their value exclusively from the labour it takes to produce them. Economists have refuted this theory time and time again, pointing to the fact that wine and cheese gain value simply by aging. Under socialism as it is known today and referred to today refers to a social system where the means of production are seized and controlled by the state and where the state engages in some form of wealth redistribution. So, under socialism you do not have the right to own what you earn/produce since the state may expropriate your earnings to give to others.

    Capitalism is not a system of exploitation (I have little patience for this sentiment as I get it from my students and professors incessantly). Capitalism is a social system based upon *individual* rights including the right to private property where both productive factors and consumer goods are owned privately, not by the government. Under capitalism, you get paid in accordance with your productivity, your ability to satisfy consumer demand, to meet the demands of others in the marketplace, the network of voluntary exchanges of ownership titles over goods. If you satisfy consumer demand well enough (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc) you become filthy rich. If you satisfy consumer demand poorly or meagerly (you typical unskilled labourer) you get a marginal wage. This is true under genuine capitalism however, not the mixed, interventionist/Keynesian mongrel economy we have now where governments distort the relationship between productivity and earnings.

    Its easy to sling allegations like capitalism involves exploitation and unjust compensation but what good are propositions without evidence.

    Now regarding rational economic calculation, I cover this topic extensively on my blog. By rational economic calculation I mean the practice of identifying a difference between one's gross revenue and one's true costs of production. Under socialism, costs of production cannot be discerned because its the state that controls the means of production. Prices are terms of exchange that arise through voluntary exchange between parties. Under socialism, the means of production are under control of the state and thus are not up for exchange. Since they are not up for exchange, they may not be labelled with market prices since state control prevents them from begin purchased in the first place. If productive factors cannot be labelled with market prices, than socialist producers cannot engage in rational economic calculation, since the price of acquiring and using productive factors refers to one's costs of production. Since socialist producers cannot know their true costs of production, they cannot know the true difference between their costs and gross revenue nor can they discover, before or after production, the most cost-effective courses of production. Should the socialist producer ship his goods by truck, by train, by boat, or by plane? Who knows, for trucks, trains, boats, and planes as capital goods would be controlled by the state under socialism and therefore not subject to the market price system. A socialist producer would not know which method was the most cost-effective since he would not know the market prices of using each mode of transportation.

    This is why the Soviet planners had to import old copies of the Wall Street Journal. In order to avoid macroeconomic collapse, they had to copy the commodity prices listed in the Journal and use those prices in their cost-revenue equations. Gorbachev's press secretary once said that he wished the whole world would embrace socialism with the exception of New Zealand because the socialists needed to get prices from somewhere.
    Ironically, socialism depends upon capitalism for its existence.

    The health care debate is so inflammatory and acidic because of one reason,the Republicans have NO plan. I have been a Republican since 1974,and this is the absolute worst condition I have seen this in.
    The reduction of waste,reduction of fraud,and tort reform are the only options and points the Republicans have brought to the table. The 1st two will only reduce health care and health insurance costs by @ 3% or 4% if we are very lucky.Tort reform will not do anything for cost reduction.I live in Texas,where tort reform was established for a couple of years now. I am still waiting for all the health care cost savings that I was told would fill my wallet. My health insurance and health care have continued to increase.
    The reason the Republican party is having such a fit, is the Democratic party has a plan.I don't agree with all of Pres Obama's plan,but I would sit down and talk to him about it, in a calm and reasonable manner. When two parties discuss and share opinions,concerns,and expectations in a recective manner,are actually called negotitations and both sides give a little and get a little.
    Sadly this will not happen on this topic.There are too many people who are just not smart enough to watch real newscasts,read real newspapers. It is easy to limit themselves to commentators political analysts, than it is to form there own opinion from the hard and factual news resources. And yes there are plenty of unbiased news resources ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS(lame and dry personalities,but factual), CNN, CSPAN, and most daily metro publications. The problem is that this method requires reasoning and thinking,something way too many people in this country are no longer willing to take time to do. And this is not a gender, race, or age issue, just look at the the people screaming the loudest.
    What we need to do is the family rule from my grandfather. If you are to immature to become informed and educated, you only parrot opinions by people who worry about facts,THEN SIT YOUR BUTT at the kiddie table while the grown-ups dicuss the real issues.

    Isn't Henry J. Kaiser colluded with Richard Nixon to create HMOs after Medicare had
    taken most of his business away.
    So now that said Foundation wants
    to fix health care. I smell a rat.

    Foundations are the most evil entity even created by man. They shelter tax dodging money into a business.

    Michael Labeit,
    Terms must say what they mean and mean what they say...
    You used the term Socialism and then described communism.
    The de facto system of society that we have is a combination of socialism and capitalism. We have blend of socialist and capitalist systems.
    The definition of socialism is a social system in which the producers possess both the political power and the means of producing and distributing goods.
    The definition of capitalism is an economic system, characterized by open competition in a free market in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionalte to increasing accumulation and reinvestment of profits.
    This is in accordance with the American Heritage Dictionary.
    We also have a blend of a Democratic and a Republic systems of government. It was the intent of our forefathers to use the best of all four of these systems in order to both serve the people and provide a humanitarian system with liberty, equity and justice for all.

    One cannot fix the health care system by addressing only 60% of the ingredients. Fee for service transactions are alive and well between doctors and patients in todays under insured environment. Implementing Medical Savings Accounts With Government Match, tax deductions, and/or tax credits are just some ofthe ingredients not addressed in any of the current bills. If we just look at Medical Savings Accounts With Government Match, we will open up a whole new host of possibilities such that we can address reform.


    Medical Savings accounts will enable the removal of insurance companies from "rubberstamp medicine". i.e. it will get them out of the business of paying for sprained ankles, snotty noses, and toenail fungus. Right now, to simply act as a "payment processor", the insurance companies embed a 15% or so markup into the premiums to ensure administrative profit. The payment processor role really isn't necessary for the insurance companies and can be better handled at the doctor-patient level.


    Removing "rubberstamp medicine" gets insurance companies back into the business of risk management; their original business focus. Get them back into the "true" risk management business and we'll quickly see a significant reform in the pay side of the health care system.


    Furthermore, medical saving accounts with government match allows flexibility in that the governmnet can modify capital injection amounts based upon the recipients financial position.


    Sprinkle in catastrophic plan portability, interstate competition, revocation of antitrust exemption and voila, we have insurance industry reform without destroying the insurance industry; and all those jobs that comprise it. If we do this, we'll see an insurance industry capable of providing the critically needed elasticity in healthcare financial management.

    @Michael Labeit:

    It's true the founding fathers were not socialists. However, they did believe in strong regulation of private enterprise (Jefferson wanted to prohibit monopolies), which is why corporate personhood is not found anywhere in the Constitution (but was introduced by a clerk in the Supreme Court who slipped a note into a decision in 1886).

    So, in many ways, we have drifted further right than the founders intended.

    Now on to your wild assertions about what "socialism" is. Socialism does not mean taking property without just compensation, nor does it do away with production incentives. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is "to each according to his work"... i.e. you get paid more if you work more/harder. Our current capitalist system is what you should be protesting, as it is "to each according to his ability to exploit others"--and that is the taking of property (as work) without just compensation.

    As for your last point that socialism prohibits "rational economic calculation"--- again just the opposite! Who is capable of doing rational economic calculation for all of society? Those who stand to profit personally from certain economic activity, or We, The People, through direct (or even indirect) democracy? Local particpatory budget-making has been a proven hands-down success in Venezuela, Brazil, and some parts of India.

    Mr Altman described some of the coverage as surreal. 24/7 news focusing on the unusual and exciting (as we now define "news") tends to warp our idea of reality. I don't know how we back off from this idea and keep viewers, but we need coverage of what is, not just what is unusual or controversial.
    Change brings consequences, many of them unexpected. A change in insurance makes a shift in employment, that affects local merchants, school enrollment .... We won't anticipate all the problems we may have. But cooling the discussion down and involving all hands in sharing ideas will certainly help. Thanks.

    This very healthy program about health care reform as Obama said it health insurance reform. In my opinion it is time for Medicare for all if. Senators and Congressman can have it, we must all have it regardless of age or gender. Thank you

    Al & Barbara Williams write,

    "How can anyone argue that Socialism is unconstitutional when the very first words of our Constitution's Preamble start with "We the people"? That's the collective essence of socialism right there. Socialism (or even the Marxist version of Communism) is where all put into the common pot and the pot is shared according to need, which incidentally is the concept modern insurance companies are based on (and exploit). Are insurance companies unconstitutional? It’s how families, clubs, churches, and all other organizations operate. At the local meeting a retired physician asked the audience for a show of hands of those on Medicare? Being outside, we couldn't see, but he indicated that many hands went up. Then he asked how many would give it up? He noted that there were none."

    The "We the people" has absolutely nothing to do with socialism or collectivism. You're trying to argue that a simple reference to a group of people implies sympathy towards, of all things, socialism!?!

    I don't normally argue from the Constitution - but socialism is indeed unconstitutional. Socialism is a social system where the factors of production are seized and controlled exclusively by the government and where the government engages in some form of wealth redistribution along Marxist lines. Under socialism, all productive land, natural resources, and capital goods (these are factors of production) would be taken by force and owned by the state. Private property in productive factors and the market for productive factors would be abolished.

    Now read what the Fifth Amendment states about private property:

    "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

    Under socialism, private property is simply *taken*, without regard whatsoever to "just compensation.

    In addition to this, if you interpret the Constitution in accordance with the convictions of its drafters, there is no way it sanctions socialism - not even remotely. If the Founding Fathers were alive today, they would most certainly be condemned as right-wingers as they believed deeply in limited government.

    Furthermore, whether the Constitution condones socialism or not is irrelevant. We should NOT have socialism, regardless of what the Constitution says. If the Constitution says "socialism is good" we should still oppose socialism because of its:

    -elimination of production incentives AND

    -prohibition of rational economic calculation

    What if the Constitution endorsed fascism, or communism, or anarchism, or anti-Semitism? We obviously would ignore such endorsements because those things are morally reprehensible.

    Insurance companies operate on a profit/loss system, not a need system, and rightly so. Insurance companies offer trade through aleatory contracts.

    Thank you for this level headed, informative piece.
    Speaking to the public in my pharmacy, convinces me that everyone picks a side totally on how it may affect them personally. Obviously the public is totally uninformed about any plan, cost, medicare, medicaid on so on.
    Shame on our President for not carrying the ball and leading the info blitz and helping everyone understand this complex issue.
    What bothers my most is the news that the Presidnet backed off allowing anyone negotiating drug prices with the Pharmaceutical Industry. If the bulk of the country knew what medicine really costs instead of just how much their copay is, this would never have happened. Just ask someone what their Rx costs if they don't have a plastic card. Next time your child gets dermatological medicines, ask your Pharmacist what they would have paid without a copay or a coupon. You will be overwhelmed. There is a reason drug companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers make so much money!

    I found your program of Friday, August 14, 2009 most interesting.

    It was the first program that I have watched that stated quite clearly that commentators/entertainers such as Rush Limbaugh are dangerous and counterproductive.

    I am beginning to think that individuals such as Limbaugh are getting dangerously close to one of the common examples usually given for the limits of free speech--that is,

    "You are not alowed to cry fire in a crowded theater."

    I found your program of Friday, August 14, 2009 most interesting.

    It was the first program that I have watched that stated quite clearly that commentators/entertainers such as Rush Limbaugh are dangerous and counterproductive.

    I am beginning to think that individuals such as Limbaugh are getting dangerously close to one of the common examples usually given for the limits of free speech--that is,

    "You are not alowed to cry fire in a crowded theater."

    If David Frum or any other conservative actually cared about lowering healthcare costs
    then they would fully support a public option.

    The Lewin Group and many others have said that a public private hybrid is more cost efficient
    than a private insurance only system.

    If they really cared about the cost, they would support public option.


    and concerning townhalls: We know the names of some of the instigators -- Rush Limbaugh,
    Sean hannity, Glenn Beck, Betsy McCaughey, Newt Gingrich. I know there are more.
    These people spread misinformation apparently in the hopes of regaining Republican majority.

    There are also (IMO) lobbyists who pretend to be citizens who stir up trouble at these townhalls.
    Ireally think that all the ridiculous arguments that have come out recently are nothing more than
    protection for the 'larger ammunition'. they dont want to use the heavy guns now and so they
    have relied on insidious BS.

    On a final note: Out of all the 'here are people angry against reform' stories I have seen on
    the mainstream media, I have only encountered two stories that show another side. One was
    on my local ABC news when they mentioned factcheck.org. The other was CBS evening news
    when they recently showed a Remote Area Medical story. there isnt much balance in the
    reporting that I can see. I think lobbyists know that being loud gathers attention.

    Give us Barrabas!! and they did. its sad that it works so well.

    Very good discussion. But your guests forgot to mention that, early on, the Republicans focus in derailing any sort of insurance or health care reform was to bring down Obama.
    The purpose of the lies appealing to the extreme right-wing faction of the Republican Party is to defeat Democrats and Obama in the next election.
    Thanks for all you do, Bill.

    I am a 59 year old who works for myself full time. I am eligible for retiree healthcare through retirement from a former employer. I cannot be denied coverage in the plan I choose because, as an employer benefit, it falls under ERISA group coverage protections. Thank god for that much because I once tried to purchase commercial coverage and was denied because somewhere deep in my medical records one doctor spectulated that heart burn might indicate possible heart problems. I never had a heart problem in my life. However, I must pay 100% of the premium for my wife and I -- $1,050 per month currently, and I have to cover my two kids at about 500 per month (they are cheaper because younger). So I would have to say that an increase in taxes for me of up to $1,500, in exchange for fully paid guarnateed health coverage through a government or any plan, would be a wash.

    What we have in America now for health care is emergency room crisis care. When the 47 million uninsured have a health problem their only recourse is the emergency room obviously a path to financial destruction for our hospital system. With the number one cause of bankruptcy a result of a family members health crisis we must have Health Care and Insurance refom. 36% of Americans are obese, 66% of Americans are 23 pounds overweight I believe this is a case for a manhatten project for preventive healthcare eduation starting in the lunch rooms of our schools and on to the Halls of Congress to address the causes of America's health crisis. Thank you Bill Moyers for yor continued insightful discussion on this important debate.

    Dear Bill:

    After the past week of farcical townhalls in our Jerry Springer Show Democracy, thank you for this program, and for inviting sane conservatives like David Frum for an insightful interview.

    I believe that everybody has a right to express their opinions, even shrill, uninformed nit wits.

    I am dismayed at the Obama teams failure to anticipate this premeditated assault on health care reform. Obama is an inexperienced beltway politician, but he is supposed to have a team to pick up the slack. Well the misinformed, dim witted and just plain obstructionist 100; Obama Team zero, pathetic.

    They have no plan, had no plan and it appears will have no plan to fight in the trenches. How could they have NOT known this was going to happen, geese guys its been 60 years of this crazy, while we the people suffer.

    On another note where is the brain power in this country. Americans can solve any problem, if given the opportunity. Why not develop think tanks of ordinary citizens let us tackle this problem. We can solve it. Sure can't hurt anything, rules, no gov't officials, no lobbiest, no insurance, pharm, AMA, Military, no AARP, no party designation while the thinking is being done.

    You may be suprised!!!!

    I was appalled when I listened to Bill Moyers begin his story on the "Healthcare Debate". His lack of respect for the will of honest hardworking American citizens wanting to speak their mind and control their own destiny, in spite of a growing federal bureaucacy, is telling about his real character. He is no different than the eggheads in Washington that like to think they know what free people need more than the people do. I for one am tired of Washington, with the backing of media darlings like Bill Moyers and his liberal cohorts, wanting to control more and more of my money and my life.

    Finally a fair minded discussion, that is realistic in what the Obama
    presidency is attemting to do. Everybody gets health insurance, the insurance companies have competition. to assist in cost containment, if you like what you got... keep it. doctors get paid to discuss end life decisions, they do not at this time if they do with grandma. and most importantly if the media will stop focusing on these falsehoods and basking in the joy of a prayed for failure we will have health insurance reform. and Barak is still
    the President and so far the best one ever. When will an Obama supporter speak? The ecomony has stopped falling acccording to the fed Thank you Obama.
    The save america spending is kicking in Thanks Obama. the banks are on sound footing now... Thanks Obama etc etc thanks Obama Administration.

    I was disturbed at the failure
    to point, out that the loud vocal disruption of Town Hall meetings is primarily the work of paid shills of the right wing and the health insurance companies. You are perpetuating the myth that there is extreme public opposition to real reform -- that is government-financed, Medicare type coverage -- when in fact over 70% of the public favors a single-payer option. Yet, your discussion made it appear that there were two more or less evenly matched sides of the issue whose advocates were equally disruptive, with no mention at all of the presence of the hired demonstrators, who were there to deliberately prevent reasoned debate and elucidation of the issues. I hate to see PBS join the rest if the media in misrepresenting this terribly important issue, and it's particularly disconcerting to see it on Bill Moyers Journal.

    I am very frustrated by the liberty to tell lies to promote one's perspective on this Health Care legislation. Is there anything we can to to make lying to promote ones political interests illegal? It just isn't right!

    Universal Health Care nee Racial Justice. Seeing the health care/ insurance reform debate so narrowly cast by the media disturbs me. Race, as a motivator, in almost every policy debate is purposefully ignored. Reduced to its lowest common denominator, the conservative objections to health care reform, mainly hinge on their primary strategy to damage the Presidents ability accomplish his agenda, and further discredit their leadership under George Bush. A prime tactic of the right has been to exploit America's racial prejudices, cynically and subtley, to negatively influence and poison the debate. All things black or Obama are resisted and attacked, no matter how essential to the common good. They, with the media's help, have attempted to create a frenzy of hate and disrespect fueled by blatent calculated misinformation, toward President Obama by the calculated path successfully exploited by them in the past, of race hate and distrust. The media's focus on the obstreperous but minescule bleatings of the republican faithful at the media staged town meetings belie their purported impartiality. No minority points of view on this or almost any other national debates, are heard. Even though they are disproportionately impacted by present and future policies, and represent a significant and solid block of progressive support. On the health bills financial merits, Ms. Jamieson's analysis of the cbo's projections don't factor in savings realized by administrative and structural efficiencies in the out years of the plan because they are unquantifiable before the fact, but conservatively estimated by a consensus of economists to at least represent 2/3 of total outlay over the projected 10 years. Like most of the other conservative red-herrings, the republican requirement of a guarantee of success, only guarantees paralysis and inaction and continuence of the status quo.

    Mr. Moyers,

    Thank you for your efforts to bring a trustworthy debate to the issues of Health Insurance Reform as well as the countless other issues you have dealt with in the past. Your program is what journalism should be like in this country. It is sad that you seem to stand alone. It is also sad that your program is relegated to a day and time not in the prime viewing slot. It further shows our regard for good journalism. My trust in the news media representation is waning rapidly. I know their are forums such as yours out their but one should not have to hunt down these programs. They should be the norm not the exception. Most people will not take the time to look for trustworthy news, nor recognize it when they come across it. It is for this reason that every news format should be held accountable to strict standards of honest and fair journalism in the public interest and in the defense of Democracy.

    Health Insurance Reform is bigger than itself, for it underscores the problem of honest debate in this country and how the powerful predators in this society use their money and influence to shape the kind of society that is good and profitable for them at any cost. The debate over Health Insurance Reform brings to the surface all the undercurrents that are going unchecked and detrimental to our democracy. There is more than a Health Plan at stake here. A window of opportunity has been opened and we must seek to go through it to once and for all expose those elements that would destroy for the sake of greed and power. There is a broader issue here that must be recognized and dealt with appropriately. How we deal with the issue of Health Insurance Reform will set the tone and have an affect on all such issues in the future. Will it be business as usual or needed change. The time for discussion is over. It is all well and good to discuss and analyze, but at some point we must take action by stopping our support for political officials, businesses and organizations who support the status quo. We must make our concerns known and support the venues available to bring about the change that is needed. If we just blog and do nothing else, we play into the hands of the very people we are blogging about. Venting is good but it does little to bring about change unless its force finds appropriate channels that will open the avenues of change.

    Gerald Vaver

    Single payer advocates you have an opportunity. A historic vote will take place this September. For the first time there will be an up or down vote on single payer HR676. Democrats did not have a final bill August first so the wording of HR3200 was replaced by HR676 The Extended and Improved Medicare for All Act. Contact your Congress people and tell them to vote YES on HR676. Visit any of the following websites for further information:

    1payer.net

    Healthcare-Now.org

    PDA.org

    PNPH.org

    ADA.org

    healthjustice.org

    singlepayeraction.org

    Hi Bill...

    Hat's off to you and all the panel members on the August 14th Journal. My family has not had television news (or any television) ever since the conversion to digital. We didn't buy the box.

    I had no idea how lucky I was until we went on a three-week trip recently, and I listened to the talking heads for a while. Death panels...p'tui. I guess shouting and fear mongering are news. For the three weeks I had interim access to news, I couldn't find one serious discussion about health care/insurance reform, not one.

    From now on, I'm just going to click on a few online repeats of news shows I trust, and stay away from being whipped up.

    Thank you for bringing on conservative opinions as well as liberal ones.

    Nancy Canestaro

    Hi Bill...

    Hat's off to you and all the panel members on the August 14th Journal. My family has not had television news (or any television) ever since the conversion to digital. We didn't buy the box.

    I had no idea how lucky I was until we went on a three-week trip recently, and I listened to the talking heads for a while. Death panels...p'tui. I guess shouting and fear mongering are news. For the three weeks I had interim access to news, I couldn't find one serious discussion about health care/insurance reform, not one.

    From now on, I'm just going to click on a few online repeats of news shows I trust, and stay away from being whipped up.

    Thank you for bringing on conservative opinions as well as liberal ones.

    Nancy Canestaro

    Mr. Moyers,

    Thank you for your efforts to bring a trustworthy debate to the issues of Health Insurance Reform as well as the countless other issues you have dealt with in the past. Your program is what journalism should be like in this country. It is sad that you seem to stand alone. It is also sad that your program is relegated to a day and time not in the prime viewing slot. It further shows our regard for good journalism. My trust in the news media representation is waning rapidly. I know their are forums such as yours out their but one should not have to hunt down these programs. They should be the norm not the exception. Most people will not take the time to look for trustworthy news, nor recognize it when they come across it. It is for this reason that every news format should be held accountable to strict standards of honest and fair journalism in the public interest and in the defense of Democracy.

    Health Insurance Reform is bigger than itself, for it underscores the problem of honest debate in this country and how the powerful predators in this society use their money and influence to shape the kind of society that is good and profitable for them at any cost. The debate over Health Insurance Reform brings to the surface all the undercurrents that are going unchecked and detrimental to our democracy. There is more than a Health Plan at stake here. A window of opportunity has been opened and we must seek to go through it to once and for all expose those elements that would destroy for the sake of greed and power. There is a broader issue here that must be recognized and dealt with appropriately. How we deal with the issue of Health Insurance Reform will set the tone and have an affect on all such issues in the future. Will it be business as usual or needed change. The time for discussion is over. It is all well and good to discuss and analyze, but at some point we must take action by stopping our support for political officials, businesses and organizations who support the status quo. We must make our concerns known and support the venues available to bring about the change that is needed. If we just blog and do nothing else, we play into the hands of the very people we are blogging about. Venting is good but it does little to bring about change unless its force finds appropriate channels that will open the avenues of change.

    Gerald Vaver

    The current Democratic leadership in Congress and now also in the White House will be remembered historically for two blunders of immense proportions:

    First, they took the impeachment of George Bush off the table.

    Second, they took the single payer option for healthcare off the table.

    These two attempts to stifle the democratic (with a small 'd') process have destabilized this country in ways we don't yet fully understand.

    It is as if a doctor, who might have been seeking to save the patient, put the tourniquet around his neck.

    Folk in other countries, if ever your leaders tell you that something, anything, is 'off the table'- throw them out of office first chance you get, all of them!

    We have Truth in Advertising laws and Truth in Lending laws. We need Truth in Debate laws.

    The current debate on Health Care Reform has gone wild. It is so full of misleading claims and outright falsehoods that making sense of the whole thing is like finding your way out of a thistle thicket. The fact that there are multiple proposals presented makes it tough enough, but there are those, most notably Republicans like Sarah Palin, who while claiming Christian superiority, have left truth, integrity, credibility, and simple honesty in the dust of her rush to fame and fortune. The idea that the proposals containing EOL, end-of-life-counseling (which incidentally was proposed by a Republican and merely echoed Sarah Palin's own proposals of a few years back) implied “death panels” and euthanasia, is preposterous and disingenuous. What credibility does she have left now? She may be a healthy brunette, but her "blond moments" have overwhelmed her.

    Even the Republican Senator Charles Grassley, who has been on the White House team forming the proposals, alleged that the bill's end-of-life-counseling suggested medical death decisions that the public should fear. Since the EOL counseling was put in by his Republican colleague and he was in the midst of the back-room discussions, he certainly knows better. It sounds like the EOL counseling provision was put in for the sole purpose of misrepresenting it and sabotaging the bill.

    At the local Town Hall Meeting a few days ago, our US Representative Rick Larsen, noted that there are many misleading and outright untruthful rumors being touted about the health care bills. He mentioned some that we've been hearing in the news and refuted them by quoting directly from the primary proposed bill before the House Committee. He said that it was clear that most of the rumors were being spread by people who hadn't even read the bills. Even though the House bill is over 1000 pages, he had read it all and said that it was no more extensive than a Harry Potter book that so many people avidly read. Well, it’s a complex issue and that's a lot, but at least he read it!

    The meeting was so crowded that we had to stand and listen outside with the protestors. It was clear that they were an organized group especially near the end when a well dressed businessman type adult conferred with one of them after which they all took their signs and left together. Is this the kind of honest democratic debate we take so much pride in?

    Some are vehemently arguing that health care reform violates our Constitution because it smacks of socialism. Have they even read our nation's Constitution? I have, or at least tried to. Like the King James "Authorized" version of the Bible, it is so full of archaic English that it is hard to understand what the writers meant on some things. But interestingly, four words we hear bandied about it that I didn't find anywhere in it, are Democracy, Republic, Capitalism, and Socialism. The only place I find the word Republic is in the Pledge to the Flag that was originally written over 100 years after the Constitution’s adoption in 1787 by a "Christian Socialist" Baptist minister and successfully promoted by a magazine salesman trying to sell flags to public schools.

    Arguing that government controlled health care is unconstitutional is ignorant at best and probably disingenuous.

    How can anyone argue that Socialism is unconstitutional when the very first words of our Constitution's Preamble start with "We the people"? That's the collective essence of socialism right there. Socialism (or even the Marxist version of Communism) is where all put into the common pot and the pot is shared according to need, which incidentally is the concept modern insurance companies are based on (and exploit). Are insurance companies unconstitutional? It’s how families, clubs, churches, and all other organizations operate. At the local meeting a retired physician asked the audience for a show of hands of those on Medicare? Being outside, we couldn't see, but he indicated that many hands went up. Then he asked how many would give it up? He noted that there were none.

    It seems that our Constitution is really a mixture that tries to find a balance between being a republic, democracy, capitalistic, and socialistic. Being so recently tilted to the right, it has nearly fallen over. Greedy people tilted it so our treasury would drain out into their outstretched cups.

    The fact of the matter is that with all its warts, scars, and scabs, we need government. We've seen the alternatives and they have names like Enron, Worldcom, Bernie Maddoff, Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, and yes, Rush Limbaugh.

    Some years ago, Rush Limbaugh was accused of violating federal campaign laws and was hauled in to testify before a congressional hearing. Suddenly the bombastic political preacher became meek and mild. Would you believe that he argued that his "show" had no political affects or aspirations and that being just a show exempted him from rules, regulations... and apparently ethics? What's your description of his so-called "EIB Show" with his proud to be “ditto head” followers? How embarrassing!

    Does anyone remember when our nation was all upset about PAYOLA because we found out that disc jockeys were getting under-the-table goodies for promoting certain records? We were incensed. Congressional hearings were held. But the outcome was that "Payola" was just business and that business isn't bound to legal ethical standards. And some people are still trying to convince us that the free market will straighten everything out all by itself. Who do think they are kidding? Now a new kind of Payola appears to be pandemic among political pundits and the Republicans have the money to fund it. After all, in eight short years they plundered our nation's treasury into decimation and most of their ill gotten gains went to Cheney-friendly corporations like Halliburton, Brown & Root (aka, B & R, etc.), Blackwater (now calling itself "XE" in order to escape the condemnation they've been getting), Parsons Co. (apparent remnant of a company I’m ashamed to have worked for during the "Missile Crisis" of the 60's), Bechtel, and others. Sure, they have money to spend on political Payola, OUR MONEY.

    We've heard no one argue that Health Care Reform isn't necessary. Even our own physician agrees. But one thing we do need is integrity and truthfulness in the debate. Without it, we’re nothing but a bunch of babbling morons. We could use Truth in Political Debate laws. Bernie Maddoff is probably pretty lonesome right now and wouldn't mind sharing his cell.

    Two years ago I received a bachelor’s degree which included a focus on health care policy. Since then it has been a personal goal to write a brief, readable, compelling document that explains even the little I know about this subject. In one paper written for my degree I tried to evaluate four possible scenarios that would have serious impact on American health care: 1) Medical costs increasing at about twice the rate of other components of the Gross Domestic Product. I coined this process Medflation. 2) Medflation plus a serious epidemic. 3) Bioterrorism, and 4) Bioterrorism with other destructive acts of terrorism (The biggest threat being destruction of the electrical grid.) One conclusion was that simple Medflation would take over ten years to become a cause for change. This appears to have been optimistic. This paper was not brief.
    Medflation is the crux of the current debate. President Obama is correct in saying the current system is unsustainable. The debate now focuses on the various proposals to restructure health care financing. This is an important and necessary part of the solution. But health care choices are, if you believe the market proponents, a balance of choices between cost, quality, and access. Or, as the sign on the desk of the sales manager reads: “Price, Quality, Service: pick any two.” If we force prices down, providers will expand their current trend: refuse to treat uninsured as well as refuse to accept new Medicare and Medicaid patients. Cost-cutting by itself may make health care available to the consumers at the margin, but will reduce, even further, the quality and safety of current health care services. This is the lesson of HMO’s. If we find a way to guarantee access to basic health care for everybody without reducing costs and improving quality, we will destroy our economy.
    The option that has the most promise is improving quality. This, however, requires serious understanding of how the current delivery system works. These kinds of changes are seen by many as impositions. As such, they have met loud resistance. In favor of brevity, discussion of this aspect is left for some later date.
    There is, at the root of all this debate, two fundamental issues. Both are part of our current system. The first issue is our national policy that health care is a commodity or service traded in a competitive market; it is not seen as a right. The second issue grows from the first. If health care is a market item, it is fair and reasonable to deliver it at a profit wherever possible. The belief of capitalism is that the market will bring about efficiencies and reduce prices. From these beliefs we now have for-profit health care providers and for-profit health care payers. These two groups compete in ways that are often contrary to the improvement of health. The most egregious method used by both institutions to improve profits is to refuse coverage and care to millions of Americans. The administrative expenses that grow from these policies are, at best, impressive. In 1963 economist Kenneth Arrow published a paper explaining s why health care does not respond like other goods and services in a market environment. His term was market failure.
    Conclusions: First, if health care were a right, it could be then treated somewhat as a necessary public service as are police and fire protection. Second, if shared risk is basic to insurance, then the best risk pool would include everybody. This would change the debate terms from universal coverage to a universal risk pool and from socialized medicine to socially responsible health care. Third, if we don’t make the changes to improve quality, guarantee access, and reduce costs, any of the four scenarios mentioned above will destroy not only the American health care delivery system it will destroy the economy. It is just a matter of time. The irony would be that our civilization would be threatened most by our inability to treat all persons as equals.

    Your continued coverage of the healthcare story is great and much needed.

    I am one of those Hr676 single-payer folks. I am unhappy with what appears to be a blackout by most of the media and politicans on the topic of single-payer.

    That will translate to political problems in the future for some of the politicans and their shills in Missouri.

    I attended two townhalls in Missouri this week. One, I stood outside for I could not trust I would keep my mouth shut. Yes, the Claire one by the way.

    Representative Clay did briefly mention single-payer. Clay is a co-signer of the HR676 bill. Alliance for Retired Americans did good job and the teabaggers did not even show up to disrupt.

    These people that want 'Their America' back are in for a big disappointment.

    America as we knew it is long gone.

    I was visiting L.A. recently after not being back for 7 years and had this point drummed in. I kept asking myself...am I in a foreign country or an American city?

    They say that Americas new racial mix will eventually be just that...a racial mix of people. But when we get oo high and mighty with 'Our America' we should always remember 'we white people' stole it from the Indians and the Mexicans to start with.

    Who knows, if the Hispanic population keeps growing as it does and the Muslims take over the world as growth predictions project The national language in the US many become Spanish and we may all be worshipping Allah someday. (Or be put to death if we refuse!)

    In any case, flexibility and adaptation are two characteristics of the successful survivor. So don't get stuck on 'Your America' too long.
    As our world decomposes around us, you will have much bigger problems to deal with than fantasizing about your nostalgic memoires that have long become relicts of the past.

    I have a HUGE problem with the way these two guests wanted to frame the debate in terms of health insurance reform. Let me be clear - I don't want health insurance reform because I want private health insurance companies out of business for 99% of the population. If the top 1% needs still more health insurance coverage, then I guess I am okay with the billionaires wasting their money on whatever suits them best. I think the reforms that are needed now are from top to bottom in every aspect of the way we deliver and pursue health prevention and health crisis care. Maybe it's a semantic game in the end, but one might argue that even single payer would be a kind of health insurance - but if it's run by the government I see it more as a public service or entitlement program. Think about Social Security or Medicare - does anyone really think of those as insurance based programs? No, they don't.

    And if affordability is the biggest impediment to progress on health care reform then why isn't single payer being discussed? Is there any way that keeping health insurers between the public and health care delivery a cost saving measure? No, the job of the insurers is to make profits in the billions and they do that by denying people care.

    Kathleen Jamieson makes a final absurd claim that people will be reassured if the AMA and the AARP support whatever legislation is finally proffered to the public. Well, maybe that will reassure people that are offensively ignorant (you know, about 49% of your neighbors in the U.S.) but that will make the rest of us deeply suspicious instead. Both of those organizations are deeply invested in the status quo and anyone with even half a brain knows it.

    Jamieson and Altman, we see you coming and we don't like what you represent.

    I was surprised that Moyers didn't go after these two about some of their assertions and opinions. Ah well, no one said the man was perfect.

    Bill, another great show last night. Well, until David Frump came on anyway. Perplexing that you would give him legitmacy and a platform to spread his corporatist dogma. I watch your show precisely because your guests have integrity and honesty -- which by definition seems to exclude most conservatives. I listened for 5 minutes and that was all I could stomach of Mr. Frump.

    If Prez Obama or his cronies read this column...stop all this nonsense and get down to brass tacks with this healthcare issue. The current 'Obamacare' plan will not address America's healthcare crisis. Anything this controversial has to be put on the backs of America's citizens to decide and not on the back on any one prez.

    The ONLY way you can get through socialized healthcare through is to put it to a national vote come Jan 2010. Let the populace decide what they want.

    Let Americans decide for themselves if they want a nationalized, socialized, one payer, government funded healthcare system like Canada, Britain and France. (Or god forbid...CUBA!) Or they can keep the capitalist healthcare system we have now.

    If the socialist system gets voted in, the doctors make $150,000 to $350,000 per year. The nurses get $40,000 to $70,000 per year. The pill pushing pharmacists get $40,000 to $70,000 per year. And likewise down the line for all health professions. If the healthcare people / thieving health insurance companies don't like it, tell them to move to China.

    In addition, start charging a $15 arrival and departure tax for everyone that leaves or visits the US. There are many areas that can be taxed to pay for nationalized health care.

    And as far as rich people paying for it all? Make everyone pay. The poor pay 1% the well off pay 3% the rich pay 6%. Start charging a 1% NHT (National Healthcare Tax) on all purchases including food.

    Health care Debate? Bill, it's not rocket science just keep it simple. Has the media news, especially the cable sewer, forgotten the famouse Wille Horton? Naaaa, just change the words and fire for effect. The journal is my source for info. thanks..norm

    Sensationalism is now the main event and journalism is now the side show. We are now faced with so many choices for recieving our news that we can actually pick news sources which support how we feel about the issues. instead of objective analysis, we get rabid pundits angry at what they see or don't see coming from congress or the White house.

    WHat is good TV and Good (meritorious) journalism are two very different things. Our own local paper THe Duluth News Tribune spun Obama's Portsmouth NH. meeting as a tepid news event getting one column on p.9. The New York Times had the whole Meeting transcribed verbatim and on thier website. Which one did a better job of journalism? Well at least the New York Times had the decency to allow its readership to make up thier own minds by giving it to us verbatim. But does the general public have the time to read 13+ pages of transcript before finishing their coffee and heading off to work? No . We rely on news sources to condense these events for us. And we the readers have to trust the news writers to be fair and impartial. Fairness and Impartiality in the news media today are in short supply and that trust has been eroded.
    Your programing is one of the few shows left that trys to be fair. And for that I thank you.

    I believe it's already subverted.

    Please insert "trust"between don't and anyone in the previous.....

    Bill,

    I think your healthcare overhaul coverage has been excellent. Reaching out to thoughtful conservatives like Frum is useful.

    I worry that what this fight presages for the nation is the emergence of mobocracy. The Town Hall psychosis we see will be the model for defeating any progressive legislation. If we see angry, mass mobilizations in DC then our system of government could be subverted.

    I just downloaded and read HR676.I didn't see any name associated with this piece of legislation whom I trusted.It is very vague and open ended.I suspect after reading all the garbage in HR3200 that HR676 to be a basic framework into which they hope to move all that junk from HR3200 into piece by piece at some later time.I'm sorry but after seeing what Obama and the Democrat gang tried to stuff down my throat (HR3200)before the Agust break,I don't anyone in this administration,and it's going to take a long time for me to forget it.

    Mr. Moyer,
    I have been following the debate on healthcare reform or health insurance reform. I consider myself a liberal and prefer a single payor system, but do not see that as a possibility. Some of the proposed legislative changes need to take effect much earlier than proposed. A long lead time to implementation will give the opposition time to find work-arounds and water down the legislation. Real reform is needed as soon as possible.
    I have been unemployed for a year, and have some chronic health care needs. If I do not find a job with health insurance benefits, I face the prospect of no health insurance coverage. The reform in 1993 to eliminate waiting times due to pre-existing conditions when changing employers was partially fixed. If I am unemployed more than 18 months, the next employer could require me to go through a waiting time for full health coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Will the 2009 legislation have too many loopholes so that citizens will face insurance and financial hardships when they get sick and lose their employment? Will the uninsured millions have to wait five to ten years to have coverage?
    1. Stop rescission practices as of January 1, 2010 or the earliest possible date.
    2. Eliminate waits for full health insurance coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
    3. The insurance companies and the extreme right and left are able to spread fear among the population and the administration’s message is getting lost. More citizens must understand the need for healthcare reform and understand that Medicare is a single payor system paid by the government and must learn how their private insurance dollars are used.
    4. Expose the compensation for health care executives and health care boards. As an example, here is the 2008 Compensation for top officers at United HealthCare Group, Inc. (source – United HealthCare Proxy statement for 2009 Annual Meeting Report).

    Total Compensation including SAR 2007 2008
    Hemsley, President and CEO 13,164,529 3,241,042
    Miken, VP and CFO 5,228,132 6,531,406
    Strickland, Former VP Legal 5,016,808
    Welters, VP and Pres. Marketing 5,385,576 5,635,177
    Wichman, VP and President UHC Group 4,770,555 4,638,870
    Total 28,548,792 25,063,303

    $25 Million dollars divided among five officers of the company!!!! I am not sure how to value all of the compensation available to these individuals because of stocks options, etc. Some of the executives hold hundreds of thousands of stock shares. The cost of granting and exercising stock options is now expensed. The company cannot just give shares away without diluting stockholders’ equity, so the company repurchases stock to off-set the stock options. This is health care’s version of executive compensation.
    5. Experts who comment on health care reform should be required to disclose their conflict of interest (sit on boards, hold considerable shares in a specific company). From United HealthCare’s 2008 Annual report, “non-employee directors receive quarterly grants of non-qualified stock options to purchase 5,000 shares of common stock.” Gail Wilensky owns 34,000 share of United Healthcare stock worth about $1 million. Both Donna Shalala and Thomas Kean had over 100,000 shares (both are now off the board.)
    6. Medical loss ratios. Our federal system of government is not efficient when it comes to regulated industry such as insurance. Each state has its own legislature and insurance regulator. How much lobbying money goes to the states from the health insurance industry? From United HealthCare’s 2008 Annual Report:
    “Under our risk-based product arrangements, we assume the risk of both medical and administrative costs for our customers in return for monthly premiums. Premium revenues from risk-based products comprise approximately 90% of our total consolidated revenues. We generally use approximately 80% to 85% of our premium revenues to pay the costs of health care services delivered to these customers. The profitability of our risk-based products depends in large part on our ability to predict, price for, and effectively manage health care costs.

    We manage health care costs through underwriting criteria, product design, negotiation of favorable provider contracts and medical management programs. Total health care costs are affected by the number of individual services rendered and the cost of each service. Our premium revenue on commercial policies is typically fixed for a 12-month period and is generally priced one to four months before the contract commences.”
    United HealthCare Medical Loss Ratio:
    2006 2007 2008
    81.2% 80.6% 82.0%

    Actually, medical loss ratios vary from state to state and from business to business. Large companies who are not self insured with their own ERISA plan have greater clout and may be able to negotiate the medical loss ratios between 80% to 90%. Small business and individuals, medical loss ratios are 65% - 75%, and for individual policies, it may be 40% - 55%. There are more administrative costs to review individual policies for rescission, and to deny contract renewals to small businesses due to high claims. State legislators negotiate medical loss ratios!!! The health insurance executives are rewarded by how low they can drive their medical loss ratio and dropping the sickest patients if they can. The health insurance industry should be regulated at the federal level so that larger risk pools can be created to drive down the costs of health care insurance to the small businesses and individuals. The administrative costs due to the current compensation systems are excessive for hospitals and physicians, as well as the insurance industry.

    Governments’ role health is feared by citizens and the health care industry. The system is broken but many are satisfied with their share of the health care dollars. Too much government involvement is feared because it will diminish innovation. However, innovation in health care does not come from the health care insurance industry. The health insurance industry is driven by Wall Street, large institutions and hedge investors, which means maximizing profits and executive compensation that takes more dollars away from health care. The health care insurance industry uses its innovation to find ways to increase profits and executive compensation.

    We cannot afford delays in fixing health insurance industry and health care delivery. We need sustantive reform without loopholes such as the 1993 reform for pre-existing conditions.

    Great program Mr.Moyers.

    I think the key line in your program was - if the government mandates everyone to be insured, it needs to provide a working option.
    Third party companies (insurance companies) simply reap the $$ by our own shortsightedness. In lay mans words its called "guaranteed business customers".
    Why would any citizen want to make the companies richer, by paying more into their coffers(insurance premiums).
    As your guest tonight points out corporate moguls are out to make more profit - rightfully. We are seeking better care again - rightfully- by increasing the competition... and they will do their best to avoid competition.

    I have argued for socialized medicine in the past,but Ididn't want to be implanted with a "medical device for survellance purposes",have my bank account accessed,or have nutrition and/or liquids witheld,or have my medical care given to an illegal ailen.Please read it.

    Guess I blew the punchline.I meant skin of course.

    HR676 eh? Wow the snake is shedding it's shin.

    Do you really believe our grandchildren can afford all this?AND Just wait untill all of Mexico (and all of South America)finds out that healthcare is free in gringoland.

    Single payer advocates you have an opportunity. A historic vote will take place this September. For the first time there will be an up or down vote on single payer HR676 in the House. Democrats did not have a final bill August first so the wording of HR3200 was replaced by HR676 the extension and improved medicare for all act. Contact your Congress people to tell them to vote YES on HR676. Visit any of the following web sites for further information:

    1payer.net

    Healthcare-Now.org

    PDA.org

    PNHP.org

    ADA.org

    healthjustice.org

    singlepayeraction.org

    I noticed the comment bySteve Cross.Itook the time to check your statement about northpal's first five refrences to items in the healthcare bill being false.Either you have a problem understanding what you read or something worse.I guess you people on the left are just the ones I want to speak to.First,google HR3200,select the link that is preceded by (pdf).The entire 1017 pages of HR3200 will load on your computer in a few seconds,then you will see a button which says"save a copy".click the button.Now you can check any or all of the bill whenever you want.I've done it and I've read it.It's not that hard.I recognized the text of northpal's material.He got it at a site called contractwiththeconstitution.com.If anyone cares to go there you will find a link-This is Why the healthcare Bill Must Not Pass.You will find a very negative opinion of the bill there.I've been a democrat all my life.Ive been a union member for 35 years .Ive been a union organizer and a union representative for over 25years,but I'm not ready to become a communist I hope youare not either.PLEASE READ THE BILL IT HAS SCARY THINGS IN IT.

    Dear Bill, Thanks for your efforts on the issues around the health insurance fiasco ! I must say though that even you have missed a VERY important point..... never once did you or either of your guest mention the words Rx or Pharmaceutical companies and how they control the medical insurance and the doctors.... And, last but certainly not least, that almost All of the dis-ease in America comes from lifestyle and diet related issues..... This is where our health care lies !!!

    I notice that most comments here support HR3200.Isee very few if any have actually read it.

    How refreshing it was to hear reasonable people discuss the issue of health insurance reform! Thank you, 1000 times over for the thought-provoking and sharp analysis.

    The most valuable segment was your discussion with David Frum. Though I disagree with him on the public option, some of the other points he raised were interesting, reasonable, and worth considering. As these angry and irrational people continue to disrupt town halls, the reasonable voices like Frum's are drowned in the din. Thank you for elevating it. I don't agree with him, but there's enough common ground that if more Republicans started behaving the way he did, and thinking the way he does, there might be hope for some serious and lasting reform that actually does help people.

    Great show tonight on explaining health insurance reform until Mr.Fram started his double-speak.

    Conservation always say they fear government centralization and authority. Mr. Frum proposed taking control of insurance companies away from states and centralizing control in Washington. Isn't this opposite of what conservatives say want. Maybe Mr.Frum has another agenda?

    Because this will give the "suits" and K Street lobbyists the opportunity to control insurance legislation.

    I can't forget Congressional floor debates where the Republican's put the "donut hole" in the Medicare drug coverage plan, and voted to prevent the U.S.from buying the same drugs cheaper in Canada.

    Rebulicans now oppose a competative public "Medicare-like" health insurance plan that would level the playing field and force the insurance monopoly to play fair. We must have a "public option" as part of any insurance reform legislation. Insurance companys make billions. They love to advertise they "will never raise your rate unless everyone in your pool/group is raised."

    They are famous for denying claims and raising rates. They raised everyone in my individual insurance pool/group, then allowed those with no health problems to qualify for a new cheaper pool/group. Those left in the old pool quickly find they can not afford the premiums but can't switch because we have pre-existing conditions. It seems insurance companys only want to insure healthy people.

    Rebulicans now worry it might cost billions helping our citizens to receive needed medical care, but had no problem authorizing Bush to spend billions a day on an unnecessary Iraq war. Chaney's war industry buddies were making money. Chaney developed new ways to make money on war. But that is another story!

    Bill, I thought your show tonight was outstanding. While many people may feel they didn't need to hear Hall Jamison and Altman talk about how the debate is being framed, many people do need to hear it. I hope many of those people were watching tonight and the words that Hall Jamison and Altman spoke will resonate with them.

    The ignorance and viciousness surrounding the debate is astounding, and the debate online is even more vicious than at the town hall meetings.

    Many of the people in these debates are just repeating what they've heard from someone else and don't really understand the context or the phrases they are repeating.

    Keep going with this, Bill. It's too important to let pass by.

    Thanks Bill for another informative discussion. I will just make a few points after listening to your program tonight and also reading a lot of the comments. It is shocking indeed that there is so much misinformation being propagated in the health care debate and I do feel the media (except for your program) has done an extremely poor job giving adequate information on the plans and options, challenging falsehoods, and have failed to ask the really important questions. Instead the emphasis has seemed to be on who is winning or losing and if health care reform will make it. These are life and death issues. As a clinical social worker for over 35 years (just retiring after 20 years for Kaiser Permanente ,) I have seen people lose their jobs, health care, and be unable to get or afford further care despite having serious medical or mental health problems. Of course we need health insurance reform and need it as soon as possible! This is a serious moral issue and should be framed as such in the media and by the democratic party and legislators. I'm afraid the Republicans can only look at Health care as a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace and a means of profit for CEO's and stockholders. The failure to provide health care for 47 million Americans and many more having poor or inadequate coverage and ending up going bankrupt if they have serious illnesses or losing their coverage completely if they lose their job is a moral atrocity for a wealthy country such as ours. We must begin to see that we are all in this together. We must see health care as a right, not a privilege and stop looking at it as a commodity to be be bought and sold in the marketplace. Also we have to get beyond connecting health care to our employment. We must see universal health care as part of a caring, compassionate society and a crucial part of family values (promoting the stability of families). Our current system is dysfunctional, convoluted, disintegrated, and costly. We pay more than other industrial countries per person and still can't provide care for everyone. A one payer system may be the only thing that will work but at the very least we need a public option ( as a choice) to compete with the for profit insurance companies. I would like to see much more emphasis by democrats and the media on the moral issues around why we need health insurance reform. This is what motivates people to make necessary changes of the system even though it may be frightening. As President Obama has said it is even more frightening if we don't make changes!

    Bill, I've read the comments of people above and I find myself disappointed in reading other people's thoughts. I thought your show tonight was outstanding, particularly the first half.

    While many people here may feel they didn't need to hear about how the focus of the debate is being framed, it is quite apparent that many others do need to hear about it. All one needs to do is read the public comments section following news articles across the Web.

    I am hoping that people who are confused about the debate, particularly about the end of life consultations, were watching your discussion with Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Drew Altman.

    Understanding how and why the debate is being framed is the first step in making an informed decision on what you believe. Too many people have been repeating lies or misinformation because they don't understand what direction the debate is coming from, and they don't bother to find out what forces are at play in shaping the debate. This has got to stop, especially on an issue as critical as heath care/insurance reform.

    I agree that Obama needs to do a better job of taking the reigns of debate and do a better job of explaining his reasons to the public in terms they can understand. Because if he doesn't, he risks watching reform go down in flames.

    Folks should try to remember that when Mr. Bush was in the top seat they would never get to be heard, even arrested and taken away if they so much as voiced an opposing view.
    They should be happy they can get in and speak their views, and appreciate it by remaning civil.

    SEEMS SILLY TO ME, THESE PEOPLE ATTACKING AND DISRUPTING WHEN THEY DON'T YET KNOW ENTIRELY WHAT THE BILL WILL BE. SCREAMING AND ACTING UP USUALLY SUGGESTS INGORANCE OF THE FACTS.

    Thank you for having David Frum. He was the first expert in the know, I have yet to hear offer any sort of true solution. In my opinion that guy needs to run for office. As a recent law graduate, I'm embarrassed to admit my own ignorance as to the insurance regulation. I had absolutely no idea medical insurance was regulated at the state level.

    What a moronic idea. Health Insurance regulation clearly falls under the "Interstate Commerce Clause," as it has a huge effect on the nations economy. Local wheat production is subject to Federal Regulation, whereas Health Insurance is not?

    Your Republican expert whom was on prior to David Frum, made several excellent points about Obama needing to sure-up his argument. The statement she made which I most argee with, was her argument about Obama needing the backing of the AARP, Nurses, and Doctors unions or board. If he could come to the table with those groups backing him, it would assuage the fears of a lot of Americans.

    As for me personally, I believe Obama and his staff should craft a strong statement or argument, short in length, and easy to understand to by even the most uneducated among us, which clearly explains the obvious costs and loop wholes the insurance companies enjoy by not being subject to Feral Regulation.

    I'd also stay away from salary capping any medical worker, in any way what so ever. I'd stay clear of Tort Reform as well. While I have to admit my own biased on the subject, why drag yet another party into the mix on a strategic level? Besides, who really wants to do battle with the ABA and various other lawyers assosiations, on an issue Bush Jr. couldn't get through with a Republican Majority in the legislator. Besides, it sounds like the Republicans are already sticking their foot in their mouth by revisiting the issue. I'd say to the Democrats, let them do the talking on that issue. Give the Republicans all the rope they want to hang themselves on that point.

    Honestly, if I was Obama, I'd hire David Frum as at least an advisor, or get his common sense ideas on the table.

    Excellent Program. Thank you, PBS.

    From what I can see of the Health Insurance Reform; it is a political Rugby football game with no holds bared. The rules of fair play are ignored and the injured are left on the field to care for them selves.
    Insurance companies are intended to spread the cost of health care over a large segment of the population to provide an equitable distribution of costs.
    Instead of health generating institutions; the health insurance companies have become wealth generating institutions.
    The health insurance institutions have become a monopoly that manages health care instead of pay for necessary health care.
    They think they have become to big to be
    regulated. Health care is a vital social service that must be regulated to keep costs affordable and profits reasonable.
    Our nation needs to be healthy in mind and body.
    With what is going on right now, the Insurance companies are not sound of mind and are not meeting the needs of a large portion of our society.
    There are too many Sickos spoiling the nation.

    Two comments:-
    1. I cannot understand the mentality that insists that "nasty socialized medicine" is a terrible thing! It may not suit this country, but it has a reasonable basis to be built on. Rich or poor, we all get sick and/or have accidents the same way, and need the same treatment, there are no rich peoples diseases as opposed to poor poeples! And if you are rich and would deny a poor person treatment, what kind of person does that make you? Certainly no christian! Is it so bad to level the playing field for a game we all need to win?
    2. It does seem, in the Health (Insurance) Reforms debate, that the Democrats are mainly concerned with the peoples needs, and the Republicans are mainly concerned with their Party. Why is there even a debate? Everyone knows the health insurance situation is intolerable, and finally someone wants to fix it! It's so bad, that any change couldn't possibly make things worse, and if this attempt fails it will be just beat the President, not to help the people.
    I just hope the average person leaves his/her 'idiot cap' in the closet and starts think straight.

    "Frum's suggestion that capital gains cuts are necessary to preserve demonstrates his desire to create phantom wealth again as was done before the following bubbles burst: 1987, 2000, and 2008 - each preceded by cuts to capital gains taxes a few years earlier.
    So, to suggest conservatives have any credible views on deficits and debt is absurd."

    Conservatives have one agenda: make the richest richer at the expense of the rest of us. You know those that have to actually work for a living!
    taxes a few years earlier.

    So, to suggest conservatives have any credible views on deficits and debt is absurd."


    Conservatives have one agenda: make the richest richer at the expense of the rest of us. You know thise that have to actually work for a living!

    Assuming that a 35% insurance company overhead is correct, why not charge all of those who are paying outrageous premiums 65% of what they now pay?
    I, on Medicare pay $97/mo for Medicare which covers 80% of my bills - that is $25 per 20%, and I am required to purchase 'Supplemental' at a cost of $165, which covers the other 20% - which is $165 per 20%. Why not increase my Medicare deduction another $25, then I can get rid of the 'Supplemenal' at a savings of $140. HELL, I'll even agree to another $25.

    my name is juan ortiz and in the part of america i'm from (el paso texas) people have been going to Juarez Mexico for generations for healthcare. Afffordable healthcare has been out of reach because of low wages and temporary work that doesn't offer healthcare so for decades people have had to go to a "3 world country" for dental work,minor surgery and check-ups etc. Now the trip has become more ardous with stricter security,longlines, new immigration laws, passports are now needed and the H1N1 scares and the drug violence too, but until the lines at the overburdened emergency room at the one and only hospital in town gets better people will continue to risk their lives for affordable healthcare. It has never been easy to be an american in el paso-we don't reap much in the way of material wealth for our citzenship. Be we still have our pride but it is getting harder to defend american exceptionalism-now a days.

    ps. before people from around the country for prescriptions and womens health services incl. abortions till all that became illegal.....

    my name is juan ortiz and in the part of america i'm from (el paso texas) people have been going to Juarez Mexico for generations for healthcare. Afffordable healthcare has been out of reach because of low wages and temporary work that doesn't offer healthcare so for decades people have had to go to a "3 world country" for dental work,minor surgery and check-ups etc. Now the trip has become more ardous with stricter security,longlines, new immigration laws, passports are now needed and the H1N1 scares and the drug violence too, but until the lines at the overburdened emergency room at the one and only hospital in town gets better people will continue to risk their lives for affordable healthcare. It has never been easy to be an american in el paso-we don't reap much in the way of material wealth for our citzenship. Be we still have our pride but it is getting harder to defend american exceptionalism-now a days.

    ps. before people from around the country for prescriptions and womens health services incl. abortions till all that became illegal.....

    I viewed the Journal tonight, August 14 and was quite interested in the discussion with Jameison and Altman. And I was disappointed that there was a huge hole in the presentation. The gigantic elephant in the room that none of you mentioned is the connection between the positions taken by Republican and some Democrat Congress persons and Senators and the large amounts of money those Legislators have taken from the Health Care Industry. Not one word about that.

    In my opinion that omission rendered the discussion very incomplete and avoided the obvious explanation for the extreme partisan positions. I realize the subject of money has been dealt with in other places on the Journal. However I think it was a gross mistake to leave it out of tonight's talk. After all it would have answered the question you posed to your guests -- Why the strong opposition.

    Further, for your guests to try to attribute the side taking simply to legitimate points of view by learned Legislators, well that is laughable except that it was such an obvious effort to avoid talking about the truth. I would give the bunch of you a D for this night.

    Oh my, so many thoughts..Northpal: I rec'd a copy of the points you made in an e-mail a week ago and I too looked them up on the house bill 3200 and found them to be false (not even the right lines in the proposed will were quoted!); James Bachmaier: some Doctors may be doing "unnecessary tests", but I haven't found that to be the case in our family. In fact, I am scheduled for surgery next Friday and I was surprised and pleased when they sent me for an electrocadiagram. My husband went in for a similar procedure three years ago and they discovered (while he was being prepped) that he had atrial flutter that he was not aware of. Of course, that stopped everything until he had it taken care of, which by the way, took over three months to get done (but we don't have to wait here in the good ol' US. Anne P: I am glad that you are going to print out the bill to discuss with your friends, however, WHICH bill will you print as there are five versions currently being proposed? Roxy Sitterly: This is why we need a single payer or at least a public plan with credits/subsidies for those working poor to have care for their families. We have travelled to Canada, New Zealand, England, and Europe and are quite willing to pay more taxes if it will give us similar universal care that those countries share. As it is, we pay out of pocket expenses of over $13,500.00 per year and we are retired and on medicare and supplemental (that we pay 600.00 per month for our share) from ins. for Boeing retirees. The cost has gone up yearly. WE MUST FIX THIS MESS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES! Call your congress people and pray..we can only hope as we can never hope to compete with the Health Care Lobby..TERM LIMITS-YES!!!

    If only the health care debate would truly be fruitful.
    I hear the "I'm not paying for someone else" when that is already happening. Who is paying for the ER visits by those who don't have health insurance? Those premiums that I pay do.
    I hear "I don't want rationing". It is already happening. Health insurance companies spend a lot of time and money getting rid of the customers who cost too much. How is that NOT rationing?
    I hear "Our health care system is great". Then why are we NOT #1 in infant mortality rates and life expectancy. Those nasty socialized medicine countries beat us hands down.
    I find it repulsive that our elected officials who have government health plans reject any hope that I can have the same level of care. That is not fair. I pay their salaries.
    I'm tired of my premiums being used to pay for health insurance CEOs to become multi millionaires.
    A big step would be to take the profit out of health insurance.
    Then let's look at models like Billings MT health care and cut costs instead of wasting $1.2TR a year.

    It was interesting to hear David Frum - thanks for having him.

    My husband and I have often commented that we think it would be interesting to have a calm and civilized conversation with an articulate, thoughtful, seemingly intelligent conservative so we can better understand the rationale behind what we think of as often pretty whacky points of view. It seems that those we know or hear on TV do not rise to those requirements, and thus it is much easier to write them off and think they are all just "nut jobs".

    Living in a progessive city like Portland (OR) where our friends, our media, and the general zeitgist tends to be more progressive than many areas, we start to think that everyone who is is "normal" pretty much shares our views and perspectives. Frum dispelled that myth rather well. He presented the other side in a reasoned, interesting and thought provoking way. He made his case well, and was somwhat convincing on on a few issues. Not that I agree with much of what he said, but at least he argued his case well and made the conservative viewpoint sound rational - plain speaking and without the cliches and buzz words.

    That is why we so enjoy your show; we can always expect rational, reasoned, and interesting discussions which help us to ferret out what we hope is something at least resembling "the truth".

    Thanks so much and keep you the good work!!

    The commentary of David Frum was interesting and contradictory. He says "The people who are angriest in those town halls are people who have an excellent deal on Medicare who are determined to protect it" Firstly, this is the first time I have heard that the angry people at town hall meetings were Medicare activists. Media reports I have heard is that these people are insurance company hacks. Who is right? It puts a slightly different perspective on these outbursts. Secondly, I found it interesting that David Frum considers Medicare recipients have an "excellent deal" but in all contradiction he further says "The House plan which I don't like is the most finished plan we have". There was no finished house plan at the beginning of August so the wording of HR3200 was replaced by HR676 a single payer plan which is to be voted on come September. What did he mean? He didn't like HR3200 or HR676. If he was referring to HR676 an extension of Medicare he contradicts his "excellent deal on Medicare" statement. These contradictions are mind boggling. Conservatives will often state how Medicare recipients are highly satisfied, have an "excellent deal" but then they say that those under 65 should not have an "excellent deal", they should have the status quo instead of what is in the best interests of patients and the economy.

    Both commentators dithered about the how to pay for it question. Americans already pay for it via outrageous insurance premiums and through increased costs of goods and services. For profit private insurance costs as much as 10 to 16,000 dollars which represents 20 to 32% of the average $50,000 per year income and Americans pay every cent because the employer share is passed on to consumers and is only slightly hidden. We will pay for it just like we pay for every thing else--a health tax--in lieu of the of the 10 to 16,000 dollar tax now imposed by insurance companies. The health tax under single payer would be a fraction of the current cost. If you truly do look at these commentaries maybe you could provide more info on who the people at town meetings are, and why if Medicare is such a good deal (it is, I am on Medicare)why shouldn't people under 65 have it and why is the word "tax" so frightening that Congress and the president come up with loopy Rube Godberg solutions when it comes ideas to pay for reform? It's a no brainer to explain that in lieu of insurance premiums you pay a much more reasonable health tax.

    Bill, your attempt to be even handed by interviewing a republican on the health insurance reform issue is admirable. But in spite of this, Frum is a wolf in sheep's clothing. I don't think he is entirely honest. He suggests that regulation of health insurance companies should be transferred from state to federal regulation. Frum's idea would be to relax regulation in the process. He did not mention that. Frum has all the same goals as right-wing conservatives; he just believes a different approach will produce results more quickly (from the right-wing perspective).

    Bill, one angle that has been squeezed out of this discussion is how much the insurance companies stand to loose if a public option passes. It is actually pretty simple. You've heard it before. And the insurance companies should be concerned. Follow the money. Follow the money from the individual citizen, via their employment, to the insurance company to members of Congress. The public option will bring the cost of health insurance down as it should. The only ones who are honest about this are the progressives. Once again the problem is big business/corporations who are the de facto rulers of this country. Solution? Congress MUST reform itself. Campaign financing reform and lobbying reform are a must. Without congressional reform we will not have health insurance reform, nor will we have carbon emissions reform, nor will we have reform of our financial sector.

    If health care is so much cheaper and better in other single-payer countries, the solution to our problem is obvious: buy a roundtrip ticket for our sick and injured to the single-payer country of their choice.

    The suggestion that conservatives have legitimate concerns about the budget deficit is ridiculous. Carter and Clinton were the last two presidents to reduce the debt burden while Reagan, Bush, and Bush increased the debt burden.

    I would also point out that Reagan's 1981 tax cut killed the recovery from the 1979 oil embargo; sure it was a slow recovery, but employment didn't start its 16 month fall until after the tax cuts, and employment didn't increase until half the 1981 tax cut was repealed in late 1982, But the tax cut and increased spending increase debt to GDP from 33% to 53% in his two terms. And that is after spending the Social Security tax hikes to fund the boomers who will be retiring in the next decade.

    And after Clinton added a tax hike on top of the read-my-lips Bush tax hike, the economy grew robustly in the longest recovery since WWII, and that growth and the taxes brought the budget to surplus.

    Frum's suggestion that capital gains cuts are necessary to preserve demonstrates his desire to create phantom wealth again as was done before the following bubbles burst: 1987, 2000, and 2008 - each preceded by cuts to capital gains taxes a few years earlier.

    So, to suggest conservatives have any credible views on deficits and debt is absurd.

    I didn't like paying taxes, but when the economy was booming as a result of a well funded and well managed government, I had a great income to go with the high taxes; today I pay high property taxes but have no income to go with it, and having my income cut to zero to reduce my taxes is a conservative policy that I don't want. Give me the liberal tax hikes that will create the booming economy that the Democrats gave us with tax hikes in 1932, 1935, 1982, 1992, 1994, and a few other times.

    I have so many points to comment on that I don't know where to start. Here are just two:

    First, thank you for bringing up some of the points that have increasingly concerned me about the public debate and the coverage of it that is currently going on in the media. And thank you also for presenting a more civil and reasoned debate.

    Second, one of the issues I have not seen discussed or debated is the often thrown out statement that health care is a "bacic human right." The harsh truth is that it is not. The lack of adequate health care around the world, as well as in many parts of america, is proof of that. Health care might be a CIVIL and/or SOCIAL right conferred by a society as a whole (or not), based on a collective decision. As a country, we have not faced the decision about what aspect of health care can or should be provided as a RIGHT. Until we make that decision, how it is provided is never going to be easy to decide because people are using the same words to mean radically different things from yearly check-ups and imunizations, right through to multiple organ transplants.

    I felt that the first 45 min was a waste of time; simply demospeak, which rules the airwaves. Then, in the last 5 min, your guests actually admitted that the middle of the political spectrum actually had some valid concerns; about time!
    Frum made many good points and I will watch for his comments to come; a useful voice. Basically the problem is demonification of the middle of America by the Left over a "health insurance reform" that is still an bizzare embryo without clarification of what it really is and how it will be paid for. How dare you!
    I like giveaways too; except I have a job and have made substantial savings over my life (currently getting 0.5% interest, since people like me have to pay for the recovery by letting banks skim the profit at 6-18% interest; makes me wonder when the revolution is really going to come), yet I will have to pay for it all. Why should I like that?
    Moyers you need to broaden your perspective and drop your liberal angst. The middle of America are worried and angry with good reason.
    But of course I agree that we need to rein in health care costs. Govt takeover and my paying for it is not my solution, however. Frum had some more apposite ideas.

    simply, thank you for effectively informing me of the key points of med/insure reform. your guests, and yourself provided clear, lucid and succinct info. pbs is an absolutely critical resource. i remain a loyal viewer and supporter.

    I feel so sad. Since when did we loose our ability to think of us as one nation.
    Think of our fellow human beings as one family.
    Why did the newsmedia become so irresponsible. If all the newsmedia decided to stop airing all these lies and talking about them, these blatant lies will die a natural death.
    If they brought each issue that really affects us and actually talked about them, the conversation we will be having will be so different.
    As a Physician I see some of my extremley conservative patients actually falling sick with anger.
    And I worry.
    If the newsmedia especially fox news does not stop their rhetoric, we as a nation is going to suffer so much.
    I wish that the powers that be at these news organizations really think of themselves as patriots and stop this soon.
    It is time we got together as one nation and one family...
    Then and then only can we have real health care reform.

    Thank you, Mr Moyers, for another great show. How can you answer a question about the media and the job it is doing? Finally, finally!, the New York Times had the guts to report on the lies about "death panels" Will other media do the same? Instead of opinions, I want reporters doing reporting -- the facts!

    I want single payer health care. And, what bothers me is that Obama says he wants that too, "if we were starting from scratch." So much for his message of "yes, we can." It is "yes, we can, instead we can't."

    If it is not going to be single payer, then at the very least, we need a public option. I do not want to be forced to pay a private insurer, who we all know that even if there are "regulations," will work very hard to do exactly what they are doing now -- working to maximize their profits at the expense of our health, and life.

    Is it even Constitutional to force us to purchase health insurance? I have heard the argument that we have to buy car insurance, so why not? Why not is because we are not forced to buy a car. No car, no car insurance.

    Also, if we are forced to buy private insurance and can't afford it, what are these "subsidies" to help pay. Where is that money coming from?

    I want single payer or I believe we should slow down and develop a plan that eventually will lead to single payer.

    Thank you!

    You are doing an excellent job with your many programs that inform the viewers so that we can make a better decision in pressing our legislators and in voting at the polls.

    Keep it up.

    I hope Healthcare Reform is successfully implemented, so that we can move to be No. 1 in the world in fulfilling this basic human right of receiving decent health care for every citizen.

    You know, until recently I (a Canadian) was very worried about the fate of Americans without health care, but I think hearing all the nonsense bandied about I've stopped carrying. If so many of your citizens are so stupid, maybe they deserve to be unable to afford basic care.
    Meanwhile, an example for you. About two weeks ago my husband, 67 years old, was getting some pain in his shoulder. Eventually I talked him into going to see the doctor. He had a broken clavicle but couldn't remember specifically hurting it -- he's active and does a lot of work about the house. Since he has very early stage prostate cancer the doctor ordered Xrays and the next day we went off to the hospital. When the first set weren't conclusive he had a second set done. Still no definitive results so they scheduled a bone scan. A couple of days later he went to see his regular doctor (who we chose and who is excellent) who told him that there were no problems, ie no cancer spread to bones. All this took from Friday evening (the first doctor visit) to Wednesday around noon. The cost to us? Nothing except about $10 for a bottle of Tylenol 3 for pain. We pay $98 a month for the two of us for our medical insurance. What would it cost in the States? How much of an insurance premium would the average citizen pay for this? Where were the long waits for care? Where was the state imposed doctor? The inferior care? The dour state-run facilities?

    Frumm is not a true conservative. There is nothing in the United States Constitution which says the federal government can interfere or do anything about healthcare. I refer him to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

    Mr. Moyers, You should be ashamed of yourself for contradicting the very message of your 8/14 program by playing that despicable clip of the female senator talking about health care reform killing seniors. You played it at the end of your program; it will be the last thing people remember of the whole hour.

    Why does the media do this? They use valuable air time to promote the very outrageous comments from they say earlier should be debunked. This kind of contradiction of message is why intelligent Americans are increasingly disillusioned with the media in general. I have always respected you, Mr. Moyers, but my respect was diminished tonight.

    Who cares what David Frum thinks? He did enough harm already, collaborating with those madmen under Bush, and has no intrinsic right to a place at the table. Why in the world, Bill, have you invited him to yours? So what if he wants to make a rich living portraying a civilized "Conservative?" Leave him hoist by his own petard.

    08-14-2009 Colorado Springs, CO,

    Mr. Bill Moyers and Associated - Bill Moyer's Journal at RMPBS.ORG - Supporter of PBS.

    Just to comment, about the lies that are stopping the Health-Care that President Barack Obama promised, before the election of Nov 4 2008. Similar to Medicare, single pay system that we have had for decades, and work.

    Examples : Cost of medication for my case, due to chemical burns received at work June 13, 2006, refused to pay by Pinnacol (Private/Government/Republicans CEO + Personnel and tied to Workmen's Comp - State of Colorado Gov.

    Prescription cost in Colorado Springs, CO.

    Flo-Max 0.4mg - 30 capsules per month - Pharmacy Safeway Rx 6509634 $ 240.00 per month.
    Ecuador under Single Pay Health Prog - Farmacia Cuxier 0002441 USD $ 13.67/ month = 5.69% of USA Price --Rip-Off = 226.33 How about this????

    My wife, Goldblather Operattion, Colorado Springs, CO. Estimated cost only $ 18.890.00, Ecuador Hospital with 7 Days after operation care,
    cost was 1,000.00 was 5.29% of USA Cost.
    Ripp-Off $ 17,990.00 Not bad for medical Cost in USA - Very rich Doctors and Hospitals? Us as Seniors, we are broke due to these larceny under-way.

    President Barack Obama must know these facts, in my reserach, Chile had about same as Ecuador costs.

    We as Seniors, are very worried about our friends, that are loosing their homes due to these huge cost, none have reasonable excuses, none at all.
    Ben R. Rodriguez MS.

    PS. Have on hand, Notary Certified Pharmacy, and Medical Hospital Clinic costs.

    as always, a good show. i always appreciate dr. j unspinning the spin so i can better hear what both sides are saying.
    btw,frum mentioned "People who get ill, when they're at a job are then indentured because they can't-- so long as they can work at the old company, they are covered under the old plan. If they move, they can't get a new one. And there-- and that is an artifact of the tax code. And we need to correct the elements for the tax code that do that."
    do you think he's talking about possibly taxing hc insurance provided by an employer as additional compensation to the employee? it's an idea that got groans from all sides when it came up in mc cain's campaign. i was surprised that you didn't explore that further. were that to happen, i wonder if the accompanying jump in revenues would cover a "public option." just a thought.

    first, a question about the blog format: is it possible to place the opportunity to post a comment at the top/beginning of the comments already posted, rather than having to scroll all the way through the comments to post?

    2 comments on tonite's program: David Frum is at least a constructive conservative; his proposal to federalize insurance rules into a uniform system is a good one. However, I was disappointed that Moyers didn't challenge him to present his argument against the public option. We need to hear the conservative opposition points. Is it fear that private insurance will be forced to compete, i.e. lower their premiums?
    Another comment worth pursuing: "we can't have both equality (Democratic proposal) and freedom (Republican proposal)." Why not?

    Finally, Mr. Altman is correct in claiming that the debate needs to center on what a reform plan would actually provide to individuals, so that fears and misunderstanding can be allayed. The misinformers need to be disarmed.
    Separately, the serious matter of cost needs to be openly debated. I have not heard an honest discussion of the chief problem: if everyone is covered without rejection of pre-existing conditions - which must be the first principle of any and all reform - health costs will undoubtedly go up, even after accounting for the fact that we already pay the costs of the uninsured. The fact is that many with and without insurance do not now seek or get treatment because they cannot pay. The insurance companies must not be allowed to continue to raise premiums to cover the additional costs. This is the real dilemma for the government in controlling health care spending. Do the plans address this? The private insurance companies fear that they will be unable to pay for all the additional care without raising premiums, despite the increase in the numbers of insured. This is probably true - which leaves us ultimately with the government as single payer - the only solution in the end.

    It was refreshing to hear from a "calm" conservative on health reform. I disagree with him on the public option -- we need one -- and not sure about keeping some of the Bush tax cuts -- but, he was spot on about the health care reform that is desperately needed. He was also practical in his observation that insurance needs to be a national resource and not a state by state "franchise" business.

    I'm a Medicare recipient (love it) with a retirement benefit of a fully paid for supplemental private policy. I've never had such good health care and I wish everybody had these advantages -- especially my out of work daughter with multiple health problems.

    I am going with the likes of Ron Paul and Peter Schiff who say the free market should be applied to the health debate and insurance should be reserved for larger problems. Socialized medicine is a boondoggle. Remember government can not even deliver the mail with a profit. I also agree with Whole Foods CEO Mackey who tells Americans to stop stuffing your face with gmo, pesticide-laden, nutrient-free foods that a branch of our lovely government (FDA) has told us we should eat. On the other hand we voted for Obama so why not let him ruin the country more as his democratic and republican predecessors have.

    @Northpal: stop spreading shameless lies! I spoke with two middle-class professional Canadians just last week about their impressions of their county's healthcare system and no one was crying of "rationing". Yes, there could be a slight wait (few weeks to months) for the procedures that operate on non-life-threatening conditions, but no one is denied urgent care (e.g. burst appendicitis), when it is a must. If a Canadian is really impatient and has extra $25000 to spend, then they may go south across the border and get it done in our first-class capitalist "give-me-the-money-first-or-die-in-a-ditch" system, but I'd keep the 25 grand and wait a little.
    Today millions of our citizens are denied even the basic care and you have the nerve to throw dirt on another country that has figured out a better way?
    What a BS!

    I am hoping for some change. I fear that congress will be a quivering bowl of jello and do nothing. I want to hear more about wellness initiatives. Why are schools where kids are not being utilized as a venue for prevention and wellness initiatives?? Our long history of health ed in schools has gone by the wayside!

    Mr. Moyers
    I am a 38 year old x gener military veteran who has "experienced the world" so to speak. I am also probably one of the few Americans to personally experience the "socialized medicine" hospitalization of Europe.
    Point is, when I need the "truthiness" on such important issues as health care reform, I tune into PBS (and your show)for accurate and balanced debate. I have listened intently to all sides of this debate you and your collegues present to us. I am eternally grateful for such probing questions that is not presented on "other" media.
    I have listened to both sides for solving this health crisis and personally find the free health clinics with thousands lined up a national disgrace. Before this debate, I adamantly believed in a single payer system (or public option)to solve all our problems. After listening to Mr. Frum's conservative point of view tonight, I am now not so sure I was correct in my previous assumptions; especially worrisome for my generation is the deficit and inflation that comes with it. To Mr. Frum: I voted for the "Nazi", and the thousands of Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins shouting in the world could not convince me as your argument did tonight!

    This American is listening!

    From ground zero of the housing meltdown;
    Art M.

    Mr. Moyers
    I am a 38 year old x gener military veteran who has "experienced the world" so to speak. I am also probably one of the few Americans to personally experience the "socialized medicine" hospitalization of Europe.
    Point is, when I need the "truthiness" on such important issues as health care reform, I tune into PBS (and your show)for accurate and balanced debate. I have listened intently to all sides of this debate you and your collegues present to us. I am eternally grateful for such probing questions that is not presented on "other" media.
    I have listened to both sides for solving this health crisis and personally find the free health clinics with thousands lined up a national disgrace. Before this debate, I adamantly believed in a single payer system (or public option)to solve all our problems. After listening to Mr. Frum's conservative point of view tonight, I am now not so sure I was correct in my previous assumptions; especially worrisome for my generation is the deficit and inflation that comes with it. To Mr. Frum: I voted for the "Nazi", and the thousands of Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins shouting in the world could not convince me as your argument did tonight!

    This American is listening!

    From ground zero of the housing meltdown;
    Art M.

    Why is there no discussion of malpractice reform? If it is true that the cost of malpractice insurance and the ordering of useless and expensive tests and procedures to avoid risk of future lawsuits are driving up the cost of health care, why are we not debating legislation that would address this situation? Conservatives say it is because the Democrats are the recipients of contributions from "trial lawyers", and won't want to disrupt the status quo. The real issue is how to define, and thereby eliminate, unnecessary medical procedures. Either by capping malpractice awards, or by providing a "public option" for malpractice insurance, there should be some exchange of ideas for controlling medical care costs in the current debate in Congress that addresses the malpractice issue.

    finally a conservative that offers real alternatives to what is being offered in the health care debate. david frum had many good ideas. i am tired of hearing whiney republicans say they have ideas that the democrats will not use. stop the whining, when the media interviews them why don't they tell us what those ideas are. instead they choose to spread rumor and innuendo. we should be ashamed that more conservatives and liberals are not speaking out against what limbaugh, beck, dobbs and hannity are spewing over the airwaves. the conservatives seem to be repeating and condoning what is said. these commentators are the american version of jihadists and terrorists. they agitate and instigate. if it was happening in any other country we would be outraged by the rhetoric and lunacy of their statements. if our president gets assasinated it will be due to these terrorists on the airwaves. why is the media only covering the town hall meetings where people are shouting and screaming and no real questions and answers are being asked or allowed to be answered. why don't they cover the town halls where people are actually acting civilized and interested in getting answers to real questions. the media should be doing more coverage of the negatives and positives of the proposed health care reforms instead of the lunacy of the town halls which are only bad reality tv. many of these people need to think before speaking, if they did they would realize how irrational they sound. the media is no longer a realiable source of news. they have become sensationalist.

    It seem a financially efficient single payer plant is out of consideration for health care. I suggest that private insurance must be treated as a regulated monopoly. The plan must cover a minimum standard list of medical conditions (to be determined by a panel of Medical professionals without a financial or other conflict with the insurance industry). A policy cannot be witheld because of pre-existing conditions or probablility of need for care,and cannot be cancelled except, perhaps, in case of fraud. Insurance companies will compete in cost and service, not in basic coverage.

    I have seen the supposed outline of what's in the House bill before. It's posted here by Northpal @ August 14, 2009 11:21 PM. I have gone to the bill and checked out the first five listing and found that what is claimed is in the text is totally false. I assume that all the rest are the same. It is a right-wing exercise in creative fiction.

    The reaction happening in your country is a product of the complete failure of your educational system. The Right talks about the failure of the "Canadian" system, which in fact is 12 different systems that operate differently, though within one general guideline. Single payer health INSURANCE is what Alberta provides, and being an Albertan I would challenge ANY American who states that they obtain better coverage, or an ability to choose there own doctor or provider, AT ANY REASONABLE PRICE. We don't have a problem with couterfit AHS cards being printed in Montana for no reason.

    I am struck by David's comment at 10:12p because, though I disagree with his tone, I respect his reference to the Constitution. Clearly the Constitution does not give authority to take over businesses; but, along with the Declaration of Independence, it does authorize government in general to work for the Common Good. Some identify this Common Good as liberty, some as equality and there is the substance of the argument. There are many who fear government centralization and authority. But economics appears to be centralizing our lives more than the political system. We have become enslaved to a way of life that requires us to consume more and more unnecessary "goods" and we have come to believe that one of our rights, unwritten, is the right to consume and use. But government's fundamental purpose, deeper than equality and deeper than liberty, is to help men and women become fully human. The arguments about freedom and equality are really about the best means to acheive this end of facilitating human dignity. Conservatives believe that human dignity requires the freedom to choose [the abortion debate only seems a paradox in this sense-- conservatives side with life as the necessary prerequisite for choice]. Liberals believe that human dignity requires a minimum of security from the ravages of poverty and disease and they argue for this minimum in terms of the right to equality. Unfortunately the human being as such has become lost in the heat of this debate-- arguments are made on behalf of liberty, but no one asks or answers the question: liberty for whom? For all? Or for some? And are there minimum requirements if liberty is to mean anything? A man may be legally free, but without food or shelter or care for himself or his family. Does legal freedom constitute actual freedom? Conversely, arguments are made on behalf of "equality", but no one asks, "equality of what?" Is it equality of ability, or equality of access, or equality of income? Does the lazy man merit equality with the hard working man? If he does not merit equality, is this across the board, in all areas of social need? Or is it only in certain particular areas? This of course begs the question whether we believe that everyone who is poor is poor because they are lazy? And is everyone who is rich-- or well-off-- rich and well-off because they are hard-working? If the answer to this is "Yes", then we have the basis for a real argument. If the answer to this is "No", then simple justice would suggest the need to provide some limited support for those who are unable to earn a sufficient livelihood to support self and family.

    I'd suggest that if no bill at all passes Congress regarding healthcare insurance reform, that it will reflect that our democracy can't survive very much longer. It will basically show that even on the most serious of issues, our Congress is incapable of making any decision.

    There is currently a rampant disease that no health care plan can cure: stupidity. As long time self-employed small business owners, my husband and I have had to fork over thousands of dollars for years to get next to nothing in benefits. Soon, we will have to drop our insurance. We do everything right to be healthy, but we pay for all the people who smoke, drink excessively, eat badly, etc., while insurance companies make huge profits for their CEOs and stockholders.
    Prevention is key to lowering costs, and killing the public option is just plain stupid. I guess "conservatives" feel it's ok to let thousands of uninsured people die, as long as they preserve their precious "free market." It's only free if you can afford the premiums! We can help pay for a public option by cutting the defense budget. Health care should never have been made into a commodity instead of a sacred trust between doctors and their patients. All this yapping about the government forcing death on people is silly: death is inevitably going to come whether you want it or not- in spite of the government. Even you conservatives can't stop it. Give us a public plan for God's sake!

    Dear Mr. Moyers and Associates:

    First, congratulations on tonight's program on the health care (and health insurance) reform debate. From my perspective,the program was well balanced and I appreciate your team's efforts in bringing to the debate tonight's thoughtful, well-informed guests who clearly saw their jobs as providing reliable, factually accurate, and balanced information that can serve to help all Americans participate constructively in this critical debate.

    Second, I am pleased to have found a news program on this issue that appears to desire to inform its audience rather than advocate for one point of view and denegrate all others. I will continue as a loyal member of your audience as long as your programs on the health care reform debate continue in this vein. By so doing, you are providing a valuable but too-rare service to what I believe is the very great majority of Americans who clearly see the dangers of maintaining the health care status quo but who have also reluctantly concluded that the majority of our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, cannot be relied upon to cast a well-balanced, well-informed,thoughtful vote on behalf of those they were elected to represent.

    I think this sentiment is the essence of the wide-spread frustration that has been demonstrated and voiced in town hall meetings across the nation this week from citizens at all points along the political spectrum.

    After forty-years of attempting to evaluate the worthiness of various politicians as stewards of my precious vote I, for one, am angry to have concluded that much of the business of government, including the health care and insurance reform decisions we are again considering, is too important to leave up to politicians operating, without practically meaningful oversight, within a flawed campaign finance system that pits the varied and financially uncompensating interests of its citizens against the well-funded and concentrated influence of special interests.

    We just don't know what else to do other than to hope and pray for a miracle of benign, inspired leadership.

    Sincerely yours,


    Jack Ham

    As Bill introduced Mr. Frum, I was excited to think that the Journal may have actually found a conservative out there with something constructive to say, but I’m sad to say, through no fault of Mr. Moyers, it was one of the most frustrating interviews I’ve watched in some time. Mr. Frum saw the problem that if the conservatives “win” the healthcare fight, they’re not actually winning anything, just prolonging the status quo. So I was really hoping to finally understand what it is that conservatives would actually like done in healthcare reform, but given the opportunity, he just reinforced the idea that the Republican party is the party of “No.” He ticked off: we don’t want this, no to this and no to that. Then he proceeded to say that if the president stuck his neck out and proposed this or that, then maybe we could support reform, maybe. Where are the Republican proposals?!? This “debate” isn’t a debate because the other side can’t articulate what they want! And on the few points where Mr. Frum did say what he wanted, such as a nationwide market for insurance sales, well gee, that sounds like something many liberals could be totally happy with. What are we fighting about?!? Please, please, keep looking for a conservative that can actually state plainly a concrete idea of something they do want in healthcare, something that would actually improve our situation in America.. Test him or her before taking them on the show to see if they can write down two columns on a sheet of paper what they don’t want and what they do want and don’t let them on the show until the proposed list of real ideas they would like to advocate for in a bill is at least as long as the list of things they’re against.

    Typical leftist socialist dribble. First off 60% do not want the Canadian rationing system of health care. Why do you think thousands of Canadians go the US for important health care needs?

    It was the Democrat socialists who put health care in this mess going back to the 1960's with the twin monstor programs medicare and then medicaid. Under Nixon the first health care reform was passed due to sky rocketing medicaid cost.
    The answer then was Managed Care, that was the crack in the door. HMO lobbyists realizing the enormous profits to be made eventually kicked the door in.
    That caused private insurances to adopt that scheme and prices to sky rocket at the same pace as govt health schemes.


    As far as no bill here are some of things in that monstrosity :
    Take a look at what actually is in the Health Care bill. Obama makes disingenuous comments like “You’ll still keep your doctor” or “You’ll keep your existing health care.” He is either lying to us or he has no idea what is in it. Take a peek at the full report, or look at some of the highlights here:
    Pg 22 of the HC Bill mandates the Government will audit books of all employers that self insure. Can you imagine what that will do to small businesses? Every one will abandon “self insurance” and go on Government insurance. So when Obama says that there will still be private health care, it’s simply a lie: this mandate will force employers to abandon their private plans.
    Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – a Government committee (good luck with that!) will decide what treatments/benefits a person may receive.
    Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill – YOUR HEALTHCARE WILL BE RATIONED! (We all knew this, because health care is rationed in Canada and Britain, but Obama kept saying it would not be).
    Pg 42 of HC Bill – The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC Benefits for you. You will have no choice!
    PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill – HC will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise.
    Pg 58 HC Bill – Government will have real-time access to individual’s finances and a National ID Healthcard will be issued!
    Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Government will have direct access to your bank accts for election funds transfer
    PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions & community organizations (read: ACORN).
    Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Government will create an HC Exchange to bring private HC plans under Government control.
    PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill – Government mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the Exchange.
    PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill – Specifics of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Government will ration your Healthcare!
    PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill – Government mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example – Translation for illegal aliens.
    Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Government will use groups, i.e. ACORN & Americorps, to sign up individuals for Government HC plan.
    PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill – Specifics of Benefit Levels for Plans. AARP members – your Health care WILL be rationed.
    -PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill – Medicaid Eligible Individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice.
    pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue Government on price fixing. No “judicial review” against Government Monopoly.
    pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill – Doctors/ AMA – The Government will tell YOU what you can earn.
    Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into public option plan. NO CHOICE.
    Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for HC for part time employees AND their families.
    Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Employer with payroll $400k & above who does not provide public option pays 8% tax on all payroll.
    pg 150 Lines 9-13 Businesses with payroll between $251k & $400k who don’t provide public option pay 2-6% tax on all payroll.
    Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn’t have acceptable HC according to Government will be taxed 2.5% of income.
    Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay.) Isn’t this nice?
    Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (the GOVERNMENT) will have access to ALL Americans’ finances and personal records.
    PG 203 Line 14-15 HC – “The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax” Yes, it says that.
    Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Government will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor affected.
    Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill – Doctors – doesn’t matter what specialty – will all be paid the same. Really? That’s an incentive to enter medicine.
    PG 253 Line 10-18 Government sets value of Doctor’s time, professional judgment, etc. Literally, value of humans.
    PG 265 Sec 1131Government mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries.
    PG 268 Sec 1141 Federal Government regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs.
    PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS – Cancer patients – welcome to rationing!
    Page 280 Sec 1151 The Government will penalize hospitals for what Government deems preventable readmissions.
    Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Doctors who treat a patient during initial admission that results in a readmission – Government will penalize you.
    Pg 317 L 13-20 OMG!! PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Government tells Doctors what/how much they can own.
    Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion – Government will mandate hospitals cannot expand.
    pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input required. Can u say ACORN?!
    Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 – Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures which of course forces health care rationing.
    Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs, etc., forcing people into Government plan.
    Pg 354 Sec 1177 – Government will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs people!
    Pg 379 Sec 1191 Government creates more bureaucracy – Telehealth Advisory Committee. HC by phone.
    PG 425 Lines 4-12 Government mandates Advance Care Planning Consultations. Think Senior Citizens end of life prodding.
    Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Government will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney. Mandatory!
    PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Government provides approved list of end of life resources, guiding you in how to die.
    PG 427 Lines 15-24 Government mandates program for orders for end of life. The Government has a say in how your life ends.
    Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An “advanced care planning consultant” will be used frequently as patients’ health deteriorates.
    PG 429 Lines 10-12 “advanced care consultation” may include an ORDER for end of life plans. AN ORDER from the Government to end a life!
    Pg 429 Lines 13-25 – The Government will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.
    PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Government will decide what level of treatment you will have at end of life.
    Pg 469 – Community Based Home Medical Services/Non profit orgs. (ACORN Medical Services here?)
    Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZATION. 1 monthly payment to a community-based organization. (Like ACORN?)
    PG 489 Sec 1308 The Government will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which means they will insert Government into our marriages. WTF is this?
    Pg 494-498 Government will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, rationing those services. You’d better speak up now before you are on the “advanced care consultation” list.


    One, on page 253, lines 10-18, the government places an arbitrary value on your doctor's time, professional judgments, and upon human life in general. Your government will then see you as nothing more than a dollar figure when it comes to your healthcare.

    And on page 265, Section 1131, the government will place limits/mandates on private healthcare corporations, slapping on something it calls 'productivity controls.' The ultimate goal, of course, is to drive them out of business, and this merely gets the job done faster.

    While I have the utmost respect for KHJ and some of the protesters at the town hall meetings, where were they when Bush lead us into the Iraq war? If these protesters are worried about what is coming out of their pockets each week, did they think war was cheap? President Obama needs to take a page from Lyndon Johnson, strong arm legislators like Johnson did with civil rights and medicare! Lead us President Obama. Americans need it whether they think so or not. Your moment is now!

    I think the time has come when we need seriously to refer to the change that we want or may not want to see, be referred to strictly as "Health Insurance Reform" - predominantly because for 50 Million of our fellow Americans, there is no Health CARE. There is, however, shamefully enough, gross Health UNCARE.....Very often for the elderly, even those who have insurance, the term regarding their treatment can hardly be referred to as care. Often it is careless, callous service performed for a hefty fee.
    So, the proper term, it seems, should be HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM. Whether we agree on whether a government sponsored component is introduced or not.
    I currently am employed and have, what is considered excellent health insurance. But when I did need to get actual treatment, what I quickly realized is that part of the PPO benefits is that there is a component of the bills that is my responsibility...and that is: a small 10%, which amounted to $ 500.00 for just bone density, blood tests and some xrays...And then there was a matter of the copay: $ 20.00 for PCP and $ 35.00 everytime I visited the specialist.....
    I am single and do not have any responsibilities anymore other than taking care of myself. But I asked myself: how on earth do a young couple with a child or a couple of children manage. Children are constantly getting sick...and no parent wants to take a chance! No, the time for Health Insurance Reform is here and we should stop squabbling, take a look at what is on the table, participate civilly and let our representatives know which parts we do not agree with. If a bill passes, we need to accept it warts and all! The price of just sitting around hoping for the best means escalating costs....

    The main unaddressed problem in the discussion of health care is not debating ways to reduce the costs of health care. Focusing on insurance reform does little to ultimately contain costs and improve the situation. The cost of insurance will just continue to escalate. I am leary of any plan supported by the AMA or Nurse's Association because these groups should be loosing income in real reform.

    Mr. Altman nicely encapsulated the most rationally self-interested way to consider the issue: "What does this mean for me and my family?" From there the conversation could possibly broaden out. One definition of freedom is the freedom to think straight by reasoning from facts, not merely being consigned to parrot second-hand opinion.

    I would like to thank Moyers for having one of the most responsible shows I have seen on the topic. I didn’t agree with much of the commentary, but it was presented fairly and with good lines of questioning. I believe most of us have the same goals, but we have very different ideas for the responsible way to achieve those ends. I like parts of the current bills (healthcare exchanges/association health plans) and strongly dislike parts. Unfortunately, the news outlets are turning this into a battle of the extremes, which is not helpful to the country. The main problem (as I see it) is that “fixing” insurance without addressing clinical practice will create more unintended consequences than it will fix. There are some areas that could have a much larger impact on cost with a much smaller policy implication. Funding regional health information organizations (RHIOs) such as the one by Vanderbilt and Informatics Corp of America in the Memphis region would go a long way to decreasing cost (reduced duplication of testing, better medication monitoring, etc.). Government would be funding infrastructure (as it does with interstates, etc.) and would not be involved in determining coverage and practice policy. The government could also subsidize EMR/EHRs as long as they tie into RHIOs because it would have larger benefits in terms of public health monitoring and evidence-based medicine research than the efforts that are already being funded by the government. There are some good incremental steps that can be taken. If you believe in ObamaCare, don’t let great be the enemy of the good. If you are opposed to ObamaCare, find the elements that are good and push hard for those while expressing concerns with the rest. If the Democrats handle this well and start where there is common ground, they will have years to implement a more holistic plan. If they try to force through an aggressive plan out of the gate, it will be defeated, and they will have less power to do more later.

    I agree with Drew tonight that the outcome of the Health bill will probably be decided by the media and this is very sad. MSNBC has several hours every night of incendiary hosts of media shows and their whole reason for being is to keep the viewers in a state of anxiety, anger, confusion and hopelessness. The more sensational the better because it keeps their ratings up. Moyers, Jim Lehrer and a few others just aren't enough to combat this constant barrage of information designed to incite people rather than calm them down with the facts.

    I agree with Kathy tonight that Obama did a great job at the town meeting in Montana. He is a born teacher among all his other talents. Even the banking CEOs agreed that he did a good job explaining the banking crisis some months ago.

    If we could just lay to rest the idea that this new bill is going to shortchange the elderly's precious Medicare (I am on Medicare) perhaps we could go on and get them to accept so much else that is good for them in the current bill.

    My daughter is a nurse who takes care of many nearing the end of life patients and she thinks the counseling section of the bill will help the patients to come to grips with the situation. What she emphasized was that the doctor and the hospital will accept whatever the patient wants. They will never suggest solutions of any kind. She says it is often the family that causes problems because regardless of what the patient's wishes may be they want every thing done that is possible to keep their relative alive which includes the insertion of food tubes, every test imaginable, and machines such as ventilators to kep the patient breathing.

    Could you get some doctors who confront this problem daily in hospitals to come on your program Bill and explain the protocol in force in the hospitals where they work?

    Hospitals do have something called a
    . . . . directive which patients are asked to sign and some patients object to this. I can't think of the first word but it is well kown. It may be advance directive.

    I have written to all the senators on the Senate Finance Committee about getting the Health bill out of their committee and on to the floor of the Senate. It would have been so much easier if it had come out before the August recess. At least more people would have known what the bill says instead of yelling and screaming about things that were never in the bill..

    Some of the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee will vote whatever is best for the insurance committees as many of them are the recipients of huge donations to their campaigns.

    Thanks for the opportunity to give some of my opinions. Marilyn Sanborn

    I am a leftist liberal. I have strong feelings about the healthcare debate because I have worked for years as a personal aid and cna and I recently became a nurse. I did all that and got an MS degree besides from public schooling without ever once having employer provided health insurance coverage or being able to claim unemployment insurance. I am familiar with the position of conservatives like David Frum that healthcare should be regulated only at the federal level along with tax cuts. Unfortunately, that depends on the fallacious assumption that raw capitalism will always favor the good health of the individual and community. Frum's neocon position also depends on the assumption that Congress would never be influenced to favor the interests of a corporation over an individual. Clearly both assertions are absurdly credulous. It is precisely the reason that good healthcare must always start at the local level, why the states can never be cut out of the debate easily in health reform. Mr. Frum also says that medicaid should be funded entirely at the federal level. I feel that I would be delinquent in not pointing out here that medicare, medicaid, the VA, and native tribes hospitals as well as all nonprofit clinic fundings would be redundant in a single payer system while accomplishing the conservatives' objectives of fixing the cost-shifting problems. Instead the lunatic fringe appears compelled to stomp on the public option as a sign of some global advancement in nazi socialism. There has never been a successfully global, private market-based health insurance system on the scale of the US. This failure is because even on the scale of Switzerland's economy so-called 'free market' insurance requires very heavy regulation on the government's part with restrictions on special interest involvement in political funding. In 'free' Switzerland moneyed interests, that in the US federal system would be considered free speech, are treated as political corruption and prosecuted. Also punctuating the misinformation about 'free market' national insurance is the additional fact that Switzerland is a bigger advocate for euthanasia than the US ever has been. Finally I know I would be remiss in pointing out why I feel as bitter toward the 'deathers', a.k.a. people who believe in Obama death boards, as I do towards 'birthers', people who believe Obama was never president. These 'deathers' are so concerned against end of life consultation that they would condemn dying uninsured millions to an ignominous end filled with agony just to score a few points with their base or to attract some more fundraising from profit interests. Only a fool would assert that the hospice organizations can cover them all successfully with no cracks. As a survivor of multiple ADEs who in the past has felt his heart and breathing stop from multiple traumas, I am embittered by fanatical conservatives like Limbaugh, Palin, and Gingrich who have no idea how painful it is to die alone but who act hellbent on making sure that my final time dying as an uninsured American will be as painful as possible.

    Ignorance leads to fear. Fear leads to anxiety which ultimately leads to unreasonable, often desperate thinking that cannot produce viable results. Throw in a lobbyist or a politician saving his butt and the combo is lethal...pun intended.

    There is a socialized medical entity in this country already. The door to it just has to be opened to the under 65 population. We pay for it now. And I know that taxes will go up...I have never held a false hope that taxes will at any time decrease but, let the average person benefit from the increases with at least health care.

    And again I say, term limits will decrease the likelihood of vesting interests in politicians by the special interests. Just think how many elected officials have taken from pharma, the insurance industry, et.al.
    Term limits would cure a lot of this country's ills...again intended

    This has certainly been the summer of America's discontent. What is really going on here? It's like watching a reality show gone bad. People behaving badly, shouting at each other and their elected representatives, on the one hand and the news media covering each and every shouting match on the other hand. Do we get to vote on who should be asked to leave? It's like pouring gasoline on a fire. Thank you for your "sane" coverage of this very important issue. I look forward to your continued discussions. There is a lot of fear mongering out there; unfortunately, many people are buying into it. Let's have an "adult" conversation about the proposed legislation. I, for one, would like to know exactly what is in the legislation and how it will affect me. It's hard to get that answer when everyone is screaming and shouting and politicians are spinning.

    I am so disappointed that you (Bill) did not persist in your question about Americans "captive" to the insurance companies! Their whole argument about costs/deficits seems to overlook the fundamental unethical structure of our current for-profit system! Lose that and the overpriced executive compensation, corruption and profits--and the costs are not unmanageable. Keep that (for-profit) system and the public will continue to be victimized by companies that make profits by denying care to people who need it.

    I'm afraid the blatant irrationality and viciousness of the attacks at town meetings suggest to me some kind of underlying movement,probably underpinned and informed by the internet, is at the root of such conduct. The disinformation disseminated and the cooperation of the press in this dissemination reminds my of related tactics used before our "war on terror" in Iraq. I also sense a racist and fascistic element these attacks, which seem not directed at stimulating discussion, but shouting down opposing argument. The ultimate aim might be the utter underminding of Pres. Obama and his legislative platform. The Press should try to locate the source of these tactics. I'd start with Karl Rove. The suggestions of Ms Jameson were illuminating as always, and so were those of Mr Fromm. But I am not certain rational discourse really works against The Big Lie. Exposure might, however. It's certainly worth a try!

    Joan Sage writes,

    The capitalist system of health care especially when it denies care and makes huge private profits islike the wall street that makes profits with our taxes while taxpayers lose their homes and jobs. We could use "socialism" in public education as wellto spread literacy with our segregated(by neighborhoods) school systems."

    We have no capitalist healthcare system whatsoever. A genuine capitalist healthcare system would recognize private property rights and involve no sort of coercive intervention from the government. Read Hans Hermann Hoppe's perspective on the healthcare situation at http://mises.org/story/3643.

    By contrast in America:

    -Government imposes or sanctions a multitude of licenses levied against pharmacies, hospitals, med students, med schools, doctors, nurses, and other medical/healthcare employees. This serves to decrease the supply of labour and subsequently increase prices for healthcare goods and, therefore, healthcare costs.

    -We've already got a "death panel." Its called the FDA. The FDA's restrictionist policies on new drugs and medicinal goods have led to an unknown number of deaths by denying goods that could very well have treated afflictions and illnesses.

    -Government imposes regulations upon private insurers forcibly preventing them from discriminating between risks and therefore to incur greater insolvency risk. Private insurers, in order to compensate for this increased risk, must raise prices and therefore healthcare costs.

    -Government, through Medicare and Medicaid, grants subsidies to the sick and unhealthy for being sick and unhealthy, thereby subsidizing careless and unhealthy behavior. This increased dependency encourages further subsidies which increases healthcare costs.

    We most certainly do not have a capitalist healthcare system.

    Furthermore, our socialized education sector is churning out legions of students who cannot read, or speak, or write properly. They have nothing of a vocabulary, they are not culturally literate, and they most certainly perform poorly when it comes to mathematics.

    Why?

    Here we have the government subsidizing that which it believes it is eliminating. Public schools are not run like businesses: they have no profit/loss considerations since all expenses are paid with stolen tax dollars. Parents/students are not customers to cater to and satisfy; they are not clients who must be won through competition, efficiency, and innovation. There is no incentive for public schools to perform well since they are not vulnerable to the profit/loss system. As a matter of fact, the incentive structure is inverted - failing schools receive more money. Failing businesses receive less money in the marketplace because they are satisfying less consumer demand. Government protects public schools from insolvency, thus the incentive is to perform badly.

    This is what happens when the Post Office model is applied to education.

    David Frum is totally full of bull. Guys like him make me want to throw up.

    @corey: I agree that the single-payer is the most logical solution in the long run, but just look at what is happening to our nation's brains already with just a public *OPTION* being proposed!
    The today's first most critical step is to get past this mental hurdle, get people insured and curb the rising cost of healthcare. This would be good enough in my view for now. Once people get to accept and use this system for awhile (a decade?) then we could move to the next step.
    In today's political climate the single payer plan is a sure way to torpedo the whole thing. The time has not come yet...

    Beltway Jamison is just awful.
    Too busy looking for the middle to get the story right. "News has done a pretty good job." Bull.
    The worse guest since the last time she was on.

    If we had journalist that were worth a crap here is what the news would be about this Health Care debate...

    Banksters fund hecklers at town hall meeting to give cover to flunky Congressmen so they can hide while they kill Health Care reform as ordered by Banksters who fund their campaigns.

    The old left and right split trick works again for filthy Elite Bankster criminals to continue their plunder of the American People with impunity. Same ol' same ol'. American citizens still amazed by the man behind the curtains slight of hand tricks.

    It is getting hard to root for the underdog when the underdog is so @#$#@%ing dumb.

    Oh my. I am watching this program now. The irony of Jamieson's comments is almost comical. She's bemoaning the media coverage of the contentious town hall meetings, stating that they are further serving to muddle the message of the health care reform issue. Dear lady, this is the news; power to the people. Here's a news flash for you: The media and the liberal left (this includes Bill Moyers) don't trust the citizens to understand the implications of this bill. I plan to download the bill and give it to my friends, to parse out all 1000 pages and then discuss it later together. Unfortunately, the liberal left has been blind-sided by the power of free speech, a freedom that they thought only they had the power to control.

    for reading all these comments it looks like there is some misunderstanding. We need a single payer where you will be able to keep your current doctor and plan if you want too. it is not true that the government is trying to run health care but it is trying to low the cost. look at the rate that private insurance companies make a person pay if they are a smoker compared to a non smoker its outrageous. Medicare is a bill that we taxpayers are paying for so why not take the money and put it into a single payers plan. we American's need to really look closely to the benefit

    Overall, the media is doing a poor job informing the public about the complex issues of health reform. I do find PBS programs, such as the Journal, to be most informative and objective.

    One critical issue that I think needs more attention is the real cost of not having universal health care coverage. Many people, both some insured and those uninsured, are making decisions about health care based on what they can afford or can't afford. This results in less preventative care and treatment, leading to poorly planned, untimely treatment, which is not effective in sustaining good health. This approach increases overall costs while lowering the effectiveness of our health care system.

    The fear and anger being expressed over health care reform goes far beyond health care. Freedom-loving Americans have watched Washington politicians bail out the Wall Street banks; bankrupt auto, mortgage, insurance companies, etc.; and preside over the largest accumulation of debt and destruction of the free market in the nation's history. Why shouldn't they fear the nation is hurtling from freedom to fascism?

    Thank you for a civilized look at this madness that is happening across the country. What a pity!
    I seriously doubt that all those mob shouters are paid by the lobbyists and the insurance sharks - most likely they have genuine intentions to fend off the "socialism" as they see it. But instead they are simply stabbing and stomping their own future and the future of their children without realizing what a terrible damage they are causing to all of us while allowing the corporations to sit back and enjoy their little puppet show these people are playing out for them.

    Is there a limit to people's blindness in all of this???

    The singular revolutionary idea embodied in the Declaration of Independence is the power relationship between government and the people. This republic germinated, grew and has flourished over the past 233 years because of that balance.

    I am confounded by the happenings in Washington to the point that I re-read our constitution. Having much faith, I had not heretofore seen need to be a constitutional scholar.

    It seems that you have dramatically exceeded your constitutional authority to circumvent lawful competition by seizing business' in manufacture, finance and possibly health care.

    In the name of unity and fairness, you have polarized the nation to a degree that it has not seen since the Civil War. While you are ideologically one sided, the population is obviously not.

    Do you think it best for the people to force this extreme legislation amid such widespread opposition and economic strife?

    In doing so, do you not run the risk of initializing dangerously wild legislative swings when the ideological majority shifts?

    Moreover I am offended, but not surprised, that you [or your surrogates] a community organizer of demonstrations of public opinion to pressure politicians, would characterize the gathering of persons opposed to your policies and tactics as mobs.

    All who hold public office took an oath to defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The egregious usurpation of power by the federal government in apparent violation of the constitution puts the balance of power between the government and the people on a vector that is particularly worrisome.

    I really appreciate Katleen Jamison's reasoned comments on health insurance reform but do take issue with her reference to AARP as an indicator of future direction of legislation. I am 78 and this organization does not speak for me. Many seniors have come to think of them as an insurance organization after their frequent blunders when they spoke for us in the past 8 yrs.

    Jacob is right on for the Republicans and for the town hall shouters

    Why can't people just ask these Republicans to show us specifically where in this bill it say anything about mandatory euthanasia being conducted?

    If they can't give anyone a source, then make them recant.

    I am on Medicare, so I know that we pay insurance premiums. I pay Medicare and Medigap, as well as a prescription premium. That takes a big bite out of my meager retirement income. Still, I am better off than I was before I could sign up for Medicare.

    I wish people could hear reasoned discussions of improving healthcare insurance for everyone. I was without insurance coverage until I was old enough to get on Medicare because my pay was not enough for me to pay the high premiums of private insurance. Fortunately, I did not suffer extreme illnesses, but it was still hard for me to afford my medical care. That is probably why my "borderline" Type Two Diabetes has given me as hard a time as it has. Since I know what it was like, I firmly believe that we should find some way to provide preventive care at reasonable cost for families instead of waiting for catastrophic problems.

    I just wish the general public tune in to the kind of discussions presented by Mr. Moyers instead of the shouting matches that the general news loves to present.

    Jamieson's comment that the costs of emergency room care for the uninsured is shifted is correct. A hospital shifts it to insured patients. When that limit is reached, a hospital's deficit grows till it closes, usually in low income areas. So the shift of cost eventually falls on the uninsured.

    Your so-called experts seem to be ignorant of the fact that single-payer as
    most modern democratic industrial nations enjoy are actually a saving on the debt we have now because there are none
    of the present insurance Industrial over profits spent on advertisement, denial of care, administrative costs. How can they ignore those facts? And that most Americans, nurses, doctors want single payer. The capitalist system of health care especially when it denies care and makes huge private profits is
    like the wall street that makes profits with our taxes while taxpayers lose their homes and jobs. We could use "socialism" in public education as well
    to spread literacy with our segregated
    (by neighborhoods) school systems.
    Your experts seem to miss the fact that
    it's the insurance lobbyists that are paying our congress and the so-called
    protesters, not the constituents that are suffering from our present for-profit non-health system.

    While I agree that Gingrich and Limbaugh and others are beyond the pale. And I regret that unlike in the presidential campaign McCain has not come forth to correct some of the exaggerations. But there is no doubt that Keynesianism, which is rife in this govt, does and has in the past supported command economies like the Nazi's. I should also mention that even very republican Switzerland saw this kind of controversy over healthcare reform. In America there are too many ppl, who, no matter what is said, are simply NOT going to told what to do. It has been here from the start. When we thought we had money, in any case, a majority was for healthcare reform. Now that we know we don't, a majority do not, which suggests to me that the protest shows that ppl ARE acting responsibly.

    Healthcare reform can be divided into two parts: 1. the inefficiencies, which ought to be correctable without spending; and 2. the lack of coverage for a large number of Americans, a welfare issue, the money for which will have to come from somewhere, either redistribution or rationing or more debt. If the savings from the first will pay for the second, fine and dandy, but no one yet has been able to make it come out like that. More debt will increase prices, not lower them. Ms Jamison's perspective seems to me therefore to be entirely biased. But there is no doubt in my mind either that the insurance cos and the healthcare industry would just as soon have us in more debt as well, but THEY want to be the recipients of it, not the govt.

    We do need the reform, but we must have responsible reform, especially at this time. Aside from the cost of the welfare portion, the main problem with the proposal on the table, is that it falls far short of correcting the inefficiencies, and worse, it has confounded it with the welfare issue. Thus we are told we must have a public option in order to force competition. But you cannot force competition in an industry where demand is essentially infinite, because either the govt or the Federal Reserve always picks up the tab. The reason why we cannot afford heathcare - and that is the point, we cannot afford healthcare - is because when we run up our debt we increase prices so that fewer and fewer Americans can afford things. No economy, no country, can be succesful unless the ppl can afford what they make. If they cannot it is because of the inflation caused by debt, no other reason.

    Your so-called experts seem to be ignorant of the fact that single-payer as
    most modern democratic industrial nations enjoy are actually a saving on the debt we have now because there are none
    of the present insurance Industrial over profits spent on advertisement, denial of care, administrative costs. How can they ignore those facts? And that most Americans, nurses, doctors want single payer. The capitalist system of health care especially when it denies care and makes huge private profits is
    like the wall street that makes profits with our taxes while taxpayers lose their homes and jobs. We could use "socialism" in public education as well
    to spread literacy with our segregated
    (by neighborhoods) school systems.
    Your experts seem to miss the fact that
    it's the insurance lobbyists that are paying our congress and the so-called
    protesters, not the constituents that are suffering from our present for-profit non-health system.

    Kathleen Hall Jamieson invariably takes the he said/she said line. Right-wing, left-wing -- both equally wrong. The moderate way is the right way.

    Utter nonsense.

    In the 1950s her ilk was advocating the 'moderate' position of "separate but equal".

    There is absolutely no epistemic privilege attached to moderation. Simple fact of logic and even the physics of the universe.

    Leftists and progressives like myself have been utterly excluded from the public debate. Most coverage in The New York Times, NPR, CNN doesn't even mention single-payer.

    Barack Obama ruled out progressives categorically from before the beginning of his administration. His economic team had conservatives and moderates -- no progressives.

    Obama is now fighting for secrecy of White House visitor logs to conceal the number of health insurance and pharmaceutical industry execs he is consulting. He is simply NOT consulting any progressives -- on finance, on the economy, on labor, on defense, on health care. Across the board, progressives and left liberals are systematically excluded.

    For Kathleen Hall Jamieson to say, as she does, that there is an equivalence between left and right in the shout-downs in public forums is an outright lie. If she were not so deluded by the "two side" debate program, she might see this. She is evidently incapable of doing so because she regularly does so on any number of issues (including previously on the Bill Moyers Journal).

    I defy her or any of her so-called media 'analysts' (as opposed to Defenders of the Faith, which is what she really is) to find falsehoods even remotely comparable to the systematic lies of the right-wing on health care.

    How do we pay for a universal healthcare system? We substitute our current insurance premiums (approx. $10,000/yr) for a FICA style tax that pays for a better healthcare system that works.

    To allenwrench, I loved your input. I have watched healthcare in America decline since I was a teenager in the early 70s. I am now 55 years old. Remember Richard Nixon? If I could, I would be happy to piss on his grave. If you heard the recording of Nixon and watched his speech to the nation on HMO, you can get sick to your stomach as I did. He, Nixon, caused much suffering and dealth because he did not give a damn about the average American.

    It has been said the talk show media giants are inflaming their audience to shoot down any health care reform at these town meetings. These same media giants would be taxed an extra 5% on their million dollar sailors so of course they are against it.

    What cracks me up is when the ignorant public gets on the news interviews and they demand 'affordable healthcare' yet they are dead set against socialized medicine like many other developed countries have.

    It would be most refreshing for some politician being trashed by such knuckleheads to invite them up to the podium and give then a minute or two to explain how 'their plan' would work.

    I doubt whether any of them has a plan. Sure they know what is wrong about Obama's plan but when pressed for what is the right plan they don't have an answer.

    How can one know what is wrong ... without knowing what is right?

    Listen up knuckleheads. Stop talking about affordable healthcare unless you wish to drastically change the healthcare system that we have in America.

    Doctors pays hundreds of thousands of $$ per year for malpractice insurance, as everyone is sue happy and tries to hit the lotto by going to court.

    The doctors runs every expensive test under the sun to cover their ass if they do have to go to court. In addition, the doctors work hard go to expensive schools for many years and keep on studying after school with required continuing education.

    The doctors go through long hard internships, have trophy wives, big houses, expensive habits and money sucking offices and staff to support. And besides that doctors want to earn some big bucks due to the prestige of being a DOCTOR!

    Now, we can't just blame it all on the doctors. The drug companies pay off the politicians to keep their drugs artificially high priced. And the insurance corporations are run for max profit and not charity wards. The hospitals are very expensive to run, have lots of employees and overhead.

    So where in the hell do people get the dream that all this will ever be 'affordable'? Without socialized medicine you will NEVER get affordable healthcare.

    Many people seem to think the health insurance companies are charities and supposed to work for the benefit of the sick and needy. They are only in biz to make money and not dole out charity. So don't get confused on this point.

    The good customer for the insurance company is the customer they never hear from other than to get their premiums each month. The insurance companies job ti to deny as many claims as it can to maximize their profit. After all, we are a capitalist country and not a socialist country, so one must look towards profit first.

    To get socialized medicine the gov would have to take over all the hospitals, shut down all the thieving health insurance companies and the doctors would all be working for the gov at $250,000 a year. So until America can stomach such changes we will keep on the path we are on, fueled by our unhealthy lifestyles and increasing unhealthy capitalist diet that we are force fed.

    I'll be watching, because you have an interesting panel of pundits there.

    The quality of debate has, indeed, been abysmal ... but on both sides of the ideological divide!

    I sure wish SOMEONE would answer the simple question about how working poor Americans are supposed to pay for the "MANDATORY" health insurance. The comment in Obama speeches was that EVERY AMERICAN WILL HAVE TO BUY HEALTH INSURANCE. You know, despite what Republicans like to say, most of us would prefer to HAVE health insurance not gamble that we won't get sick/hurt. BUT if employer doesn't pay and us working poor HAVE TO pay, where are we to get this money? Supposedly the SickiCzar will take the money out of our checking accounts and penalize through our taxes if we can't or don't pay, what then? We still won't have any extra money lying around after bare necessities to pay for health insurance, if we did we'd be buying it already. MOST UNINSURED AMERICANS ARE UNINSURED BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD ANY INSURANCE. Just making a law that we "have to" buy it doesn't provide us money to PAY for it. Would someone PLEASE answer my question how us working poor are to comply with MANDATORY individual health insurance where our employers don't have it? Do my kids and I go hungry so I don't end up in jail because I can't pay????

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