The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is H.R. 3200 the Obama Plan?

This is a link to the full text of H.R. 3200, "To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes." Also known as America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.

I understand that here are other bills out there as well, so my question to you, today dear readers is, Is this the bill we should be discussing? Or should we be looking somewhere else?

The reason I ask is this. H.R. 3200 is 1000 pages or so long. Does it have to be? One Forumpian, "DragonFly" noted that the Canadian health care bill is only 14 pages long!

That seems a lot more manageable to me, especially if I were President Obama who's promised to go through the thing line by line, if and when it finally gets to his desk,

DragonFly puts it this way:

"I read an article on CNN Money, entitled 5 Freedoms You'd Lose in Health Care Reform.

It was based on the House bill and the one by Senator Edward Kennedy's health committee.

These two bills had similarities, but are probably different in other ways. I have no idea what the other three bills entail.

Until one bill is presented to the public, I don’t know why there is advocacy and a false sense of accuracy given by Obama and certain members of Congress of what the healthcare reform will be.
A final bill needs to be publicly released, and then the people will be able to clearly decide whether the reform is good or bad.

In another room in the Forum, Gordon Howie is going over H.B. 3200 with a fine tooth comb and has a whole bunch of questions. page 22, page 30 sec 123, page 29, page 42, page 50, sec 152. page 167 lines 18-23, page 425 lines 22-25 and page 426 lines 1-3 oh, and 427 lines 15-24... etc, and he's only halfway through!

Now look, folks. Gordon Howie is a busy man with cattle to attend to, and DragonFly sounds like s/he's (I think it's "she's") busy too.

And Obama? We know he's busy!

And me? Well I'm just lazy.

So come on. Let's not get distracted with arguments we don't need to have. Let's instead, be productive and proactive.

If the real plan isn't on the table yet, let's write one right here and right now, doggone it!

(And by "let's" I mean the rest of you of course. I've already been pretty candid about my disposition haven't I? Besides, I've already endorsed the Frankenfeld single pay idea and am busy taking my licks from brother Sam Hurst.)


David Newquist said...

If this were handed in to me as an assignment in technical writing, I'd turn it back for the student to do over--with many marginal notations such as "needs precise diction" and "clarify" and "please reorganize this sombitch and make it coherent."

When you begin a bill by cross-referencing definitions and deferring provisions with references to subsections, you have a potential mess and something that is damned near impossible to discuss. Even the grandmother of all the wisest Latina women isn't going find enlightening language in this bill.

It is no wonder that the town halls are such rancorous muddles. This bill raises the spectre of bureaucracy at its worse. It reads like a health insurance policy.

It does list the failures and defects in health-care that necessitate reform, but the language is most unreassuring that anyone knows what they are doing.

This may be the document to start with and condense and clarify, but it is very difficult to ferret out what it actually says. Computers are particularly frustrating in trying to bounce around among the cross-references and then back to the topic one is trying to understand.

I'd say, let the perpetrators take copies of this to the seashore or the mountain tops or the C Street dives and put this in comprehensable form and language.

Gordon Howie said...

I really am busy for the next wek or so. I am leading the group, Citizens for Liberty as we organize a town hall event for Sat, Aug 22 at 12:00, at the Veterans memorial in Memorial Park. I would suggest that you all come to that meeting. It will be educational, and provide an opportunity for citizens to ask questions of their representatives. You are all welcome. This won't be a "stacked deck". We, along with Bill, want to deal with the truth, openly and candidly.
Bill, if you would care to host your own little town hall meeting at Talleys in the meantime, I would be happy to come. Maybe we would all be suprised that our preconceived ideas about each other are mistaken, to some degree. Wouldn't that be fun!!?? Bill, you could take notes for the blog

Bill Fleming said...

Gordon... ME take Notes? You've got to be kidding.
I'm mr. improv all the way. Sanborn's the real reporter around here. I'm just the saxophone player.

aaron said...

Bill, I think we can probably conjure up some note-takers if you need them.


Bill Fleming said...

Alright aaron! Now we're talkin'. Teamwork. Love it.

Bill Fleming said...

So when should be have a confab with Mr. Howie?

Throw out some dates and times folks.

What works for you Gordon?

Neal said...

Gordon, I'll make you a deal. If you answer the question I posed in the thread below, honestly and directly, I'll attend your town hall rally, at which I will be nothing but respectful and polite.

I'll make it easy for you and restate it here:

Sen. Howie, is there any set of facts under which you would support a government mandated and/or -run universal healthcare plan?

If yes, please briefly explain your answer.

Gordon Howie said...

Neal, you really don't have to make a deal for me to answer that question. Until I am convinced that the government could do a better job at managing health care than they do.... say the post office, or Indian Health services... the answer is no. I do support the elimination of fraud and waste in our current system, which would go a long way toward providing funds for programs to help legal citizens of our country with legitimate need.
Bill, I could be flexible with my schedule. Who knows, maybe our little coffee club would solve the health care problems for the nation... I seriously believe we may stand a better chance at getting it done than some people we know in DC :-)

Bill Fleming said...

Ok, let's try to drift back on topic, a little.

Can we all agree that "The Obama Plan will be the one Obama signs, and is not to be confused with any of the plans currently circulating? I think there is some real confusion here that needs to be cleared up.

Presidents don't write legislation, they sign legislation into law.

Same with Governors, right Gordon?

If the State House had a Property Tax Plan that they were trying to get you to sign — or to keep you from signing (I'm pretending you are the governor now...) would you want them calling it "The Howie Plan" before you put your name on it?

Neal said...

Gordon said,
"[T]he answer is no."

Thank you. I sincerely appreciate your candor.

But I maintain that focusing on details of the plan (whatever it is) is disingenuous, a red herring. Your disagreement with the idea of universal healthcare is on the conceptual level, not because of details.

Yours might be an exception, but none of these town hall meetings have been designed to help iron out the details in any of the proposed plans.

Neal said...

"Presidents don't write legislation, they sign legislation into law."

You're being a little naive here, Bill. Lawmaking is a collaborative process. Oftentimes the President is the driving force on a particular policy change.

The conventional wisdom is that healthcare reform failed during the Clinton administration because the President refused to surrender enough of the decisionmaking process to the Congress, particularly the Senate. Bill (via Hillary) had a plan and stuck to it. The plan failed to satisfy enough lawmakers to become law.

Here, Obama has gone in precisely the opposite direction -- perhaps to his detriment. He deliberately has not authored a plan, except for the broad conceptual strokes. He left it up to Congress, thinking I presume that it would alleviate the Clinton error, thus improving the chances of actual success. He's a pragmatist like that.

But he underestimated the resistance -- and, perhaps, its desperation.

So no, there is still no specific plan to talk about.

DragonFly said...

It’s a she. To see my opinions were viewed with decorum is an honor. Thank you.

I will question the statement of ‘Presidents don’t write legislation, they sign legislation into law.’

One of Obama’s platforms was healthcare reform. It’s been called his overhaul of the system, and he’s been out politicking to build support for it.

I don’t know if this is true or false, but it’s been said that he wanted Congress to pass the legislation before the August recess because once the public was informed of the bill’s contents, they wouldn’t like it.

It does appear many people don’t like H.R. 3200. From what I’ve read of it, it’s complicated with excessive legalese. It’s no wonder there are misunderstandings.

I haven't read, as of yet, how the reform will be paid for.

On to more reading of H.R. 3200.

Bill Fleming said...

Neal, when it's time for my company to make something, a TV commercial, say, or a logo or whatever, oftentimes, as the executive, I review the assignment with the team and my client and the outside consultants and we start generating ideas.

It is a curious process.

The first step is to get ALL the ideas out on the table, the good ones, the bad ones, the half-baked ones, the ones from mars, the ones from hell, and the occasional one or two that seem to have been made in heaven.

We then go through a series of steps of refinement to zero in on what works, what doesn't, what costs too much, what's unnecessary clutter, etc. etc, etc.

I might look at 100 ideas on a logo for example. Then I might narrow those down to 15 (I could tell you how, but then I'd have to kill you.)

My client might say, "Bill, these all suck except those 5. And I absolutely LOVE this one except for the shape, and the typeface, and the colors."

And so it goes...

All I'm saying is that the one I might be willing to "claim" is the one that goes out the door with my client's seal of approval, my people proud of the idea, and the tests on the intended audience showing me that the work does what it is supposed to do.

Now, am I a poor executive because I have to go through all that to come up with the best ideas?

And should I be afraid to put all the ideas on the table so we can pick out the best ones?

Neal, it was the American people who brought this design assignment to Barack Obama, just as they have been bringing it to every president before him for decades.

They are the client. Obama is the process. The Change Agent. The guy his team who were given the assignment.

Now, people can call it the "Obama Plan" if they want to, I guess, but I gotta tell ya, in my business that's considered bad form.

I want people to think of my clients when they see the results of my team's work, not me.

And in that light, I'm thinking nothing would please President Obama more than to have people start calling this plan "The US Health Care Plan."

Anyway, here in our little FORUM shop, that's what I propose we call it as we develop it together, ok Neal? DragonFly? Gordo? Everybody?

You know what?

I think I need an Amen on this one.


Neal said...

"Neal, it was the American people who brought this design assignment to Barack Obama..."

Yes, and he hasn't handled it particularly well. He didn't strike the right balance between executive authorship and Congressional input. He overcorrected.

Referring to whatever healthcare reform proposals out there as "Obamacare" is meant to be derogatory, just like "Hillarycare" was. Difference is, with Clinton, it had a semblance of accurace. Here it doesn't at all, because Obama has conceded so much to the Congress in terms of details of the plan.

But really, the fact is, this is a massive political and ideological shift that he's proposing, regardless of details -- and the way his opponents have reacted reflects that.

Bill Fleming said...

Yes, Neal that's my objection to the ObamaCare language. It's another neocon framing device.

Intended as a pejorative. And to discredit the man.*

Notice these same people never called it "Rummy's War," or "The Cheney Torture Program." They were all about sharing the blame (credit) over that kinda stuff.

I think it's good to clear the air on some of that stuff, but I don't want to dwell on it. Too many distractions the way it is.

I do think Gordo is cherry picking a little when he goes after the IHS as an example of how America does Health Care.

Maybe even a lot, come to think of it.

I noticed he never mentioned Medicare, or the Veterans Health program.

Whaddya say, Gordo? Cherry pick?

p.s. And that Post Office thing? Tsk. Don't go there, man. And don't make us explain why, ok?

* To be fair, the press is just as much at fault for picking these little linguistic road apples up and mindlessly running with them all over town just because they sound cute.

Pretty soon it's just "Obamacare" blah, blah, blah, and everybody thinks Obama himself probably came up with it.

This happens over, and over, and over again.

See George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant."

Bill Fleming said...

Gordon, are you familiar with this website?

Just curious, because I notice that the people who created the site are "" Those guys are kind of famous for creating some pretty nasty stuff, you know? Ever hear of them? Check out the pix on the site under "content." Some pretty creepy stuff on there. But whatever.

This is a direct copy of the text from the site:

"Here are your talking points for when you attend events:

Talking Points

1) I oppose the President's socialized healthcare plan.

2) Don’t take my health care hostage. I want to make the best choices concerning my healthcare.

3) Eighty-four percent of Americans say they don’t want Obamacare or any form of socialized healthcare.

4) I do not want the government to have more control and influence over my health care. That is why I reject the so called “public option” which is really socialized health care and will destroy private options.

5) Americans cannot afford the $1.5 trillion price tag of socialized health care during these difficult economic times. I flatly reject any health care proposal that increases costs or imposes new taxes on any American.

6) The keys to a consumer-centered health care system:
a. Competition
b. Market Incentives to Control Cost and Improve Services
c. Price, Quality, and Value

7) America’s healthcare system is in desperate need of substantial reform. Policy makers should take decisive steps to move today’s bureaucracy driven, heavily regulated third-party payment system to a new patient-centered system of consumer choice and real free-market competition.

8) Look at the evidence: the TennCare plan in Tennessee and the government run health care plans from Hawaii and Massachusetts were deeply flawed and have failed. Universal healthcare is a bad idea that will end up devastating our nation.

9) What is exactly covered under Obamacare? Please be specific.

10) Have you ever been treated in a Veteran’s hospital? Ask a veteran if they are happy with government run health programs, they wait months for substandard, low quality service. Our veterans and citizens deserve better.

Are any of these also on your list of concerns?

I bring it up because, if Neal is right about your complete rejection of HR 3200, we really do have to look for a different starting point in order to have a meaningful discussion with you, right?

Gordon Howie said...

I thought we were going to talk about HB3200.. I gave you a website to read the bill and another one to view a summary of the bill.. How many of you have looked at either? In any event, we seem to have gotten a bit off track. lets take a deep breath, now that we have brought up IHS, the post office, Hillary care, Cheneys torture progam, Rummys war, add agencies, resistance websites (no I haven'r ever seen this one, and we certainly don't use "talking points" from them)and.. oh yes cherry picking (who, me?)

And what's this about a meaningful discussion :-)
couldn't we have one just on the merits, or lack thereof, of the proposed legislation?.. or would that be cherry picking? :-)

Bill Fleming said...

Gordon, I'm thinking the conversation between you and Neal established that since you were not inclined IN PRINCIPAL to support any form of universal health care that a discussion of HR3200 with you would be fruitless.

In other words, I think we've all stipulated that we will not be able to fine tune that bill or any other bill to your satisfaction as long as such bill includes a public option.

Or did I not understand you correctly?

Bill Fleming said...

Assuming that I heard you right Gordon, I moved on to the reasons you gave for holding the positions you do, which were specifically that the result of such universal health care legislation would be similar to the IHS system and the Post Office.

I think both of those arguments are fairly weak and easy to dismiss, and so figured that you were perhaps just joking. But maybe you weren't?

In any case, if you decide to run for Governor, the indian health care problem is going to be there, and I was thinking it might be a more productive conversation if you could elaborate on your position in that regard.

Bill Fleming said...

p.s. I did read the portions of the HR3200 bill you mentioned, Gordon, and I agree with Newquist and Dragonfly that the bill is way too long and confusing.

It would be good to see a better, simpler bill than that one and I'm assuming one is in the works.

DragonFly said...

It sounds good Bill.

It really does, although i will have to say, not all Americans brought the healthcare reform to Obama.

I believe if any healthcare reform is passed, people will either love it or hate it. Good or bad, thick or thin, its probabilistic Obama’s name will be used.

Contrarian that I am, without more information, all I can call it is healthcare reform. (One very small bill could easily change my mind).

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you, you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive. Robert Louis Stevenson

Gordon Howie said...

Well, I guess if you are not interested in discussing the details of the proposal, that's a wrap!

Neal said...

It was a wrap right from the start, Gordon.

Discussing the details of a bill you disagree with in principle would be about as productive as rolling a boulder up a hill over and over again, only to see it roll back down every time.

I for one have no interest in playing the Sisyphus role in your disingenuous little dialogue. I don't think anyone else does, either.

The only conversation to be had on this topic with you is this: is healthcare a right, or a privilege?

DragonFly said...

I had a few extra minutes to go over the postings and will say I’m in agreement with Mr. Howie on getting rid of waste and fraud.

On another post, Taunia Roberts had very valid comments. She mentioned choosing between food and medicine and choosing to have health for your loved ones or yourself which leads to bankruptcy.

I’m wondering Mr. Howie, how the funding from the elimination of waste and fraud would help the people who fall between the cracks of the current programs.

Randall said...

Text of the new healthcare reform act:

"I hereby extend Medicare benefits to all Americans"