Anger and Fear in America

I’m currently on the road so I wasn’t able to catch the live coverage of President Obama’s town hall meeting yesterday. I understand from people who did see it that it was fairly calm compared to some of the other town hall meetings. One friend told me it appeared to him that the audience had been “handpicked.” I grabbed the USA Today outside my hotel room door this morning and the coverage in it seemed to be fairly good. I’ve included the link at the bottom of this post in case you didn’t have a copy outside your door this morning. What I liked best about their comments though, was a sidebar written by Kathy Kiely. I’ve included it here:

Some of the assertions that President Obama made about his health plan at Tuesday’s town-hall meeting are open to argument:

• “Under the reform we’re proposing, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”

Not necessarily. In an analysis of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 10 million workers could lose employer-provided benefits and would have to find other insurance.

• “Insurance companies basically get $177 billion of taxpayer money to provide services that Medicare already provides.”

About 10.2 million Medicare recipients are in Medicare Advantage. Under that program, the government pays insurers a set amount per Medicare beneficiary. Obama ridiculed it as costly and redundant, but the plan provides additional benefits, such as vision, dental and hearing, to seniors and helps coordinate health care for those with chronic conditions, says Robert Zirkelbach at the trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans.

• “The rumor that’s been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for ‘death panels’ that will basically pull the plug on Grandma. … (T)he intention. .. was to give people more information so that they could handle issues of end-of-life care when they’re ready, on their own terms. … (O)ne of the chief sponsors of this bill originally was a Republican … (Sen.) Johnny Isakson from Georgia.”

Isakson issued a press release saying Obama misused his name. A provision he attached to a Senate health care bill would allow seniors to obtain help in formulating a living will something Isakson said is different from House language. The House bill would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, but it would not mandate that anyone use the benefit.

• “AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare, OK?”

The AARP issued a press release to make it clear that it has not endorsed any particular health care proposal. “Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate,” AARP said.

— By Kathy Kiely

I watched a little bit of Senator Grassley’s town hall meeting in Winterset, IA this morning over breakfast. He commented that he thinks Americans are scared not only about health care reform but over fiscal and economic issues, too. He was interrupted in the middle of that statement by applause. Senator Arlen Specter has commented that “there is more anger in America today than at any time I can remember.” And in another news report, membership in militas is up. Wow.

It would be interesting to hear from our members and friends in the health care fields – are you seeing more depression? More anger? Are patients more tense? How is the current climate in America affecting people’s health? What do you think?


1 Comment

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One response to “Anger and Fear in America

  1. This question of being forced to change doctors amuses me. Anyone who has an employer-sponsored health insurance plan must use the doctors in that plan’s network. If your employer switches to another insurance company to get a lower premum, you might find your current doctor is not in the new plan’s network – and you’ll have to change doctors. So when this doctor choice argument is used against health care reform, it is a false argument because our choice is already limited by the plan we have or might have in the future. Medicare is the one insurance plan that offers the most open choice of doctors as 95% or more docs accept Medicare – but that’s a bad program because it’s government-run (when in fact it is administered by private companies).

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