More ways the health-care bill will help create jobs and how status quo today is job-killer

On Christmas, I wrote an article called Health-care bill will stimulate economy and create tens of thousands of jobs.

Within hours it had gone semi-viral with over 3000 hits on the web. Progressive Democrats of America posted it on their home page and I cross-posted at Show Me Progress and Polizeros.

In it, I posed the question, “How is it that throughout the entire health care debate the issue of job creation and economic stimulus has not been brought up?” And offered the plausible conclusion that adding 30 million people into the health care system will translate into an abundance of economic activity and opportunity for millions of Americans: i.e. JOBS.

Suggesting this outcome summoned a hail storm of criticism from opponents of health-care reform, asking rhetorically what kind of “dope” us Democrats/Obama were smoking and how what I had authored must have been satire or else it was pure “hogwash”. Evidently, I touched a nerve by countering head-on a primary talking point of health-care bill adversaries, namely, that it’s a “job killer”. It was as if I’d dipped a few of those tea-bagger’s sweet tea-bags in tart mustard — “Grey Poupon”, of course.

My favorite response I received went beyond shutting down health-care reform and advocated dismantling most of the entire social services system:

“The US Postal Service was established in 1775. You’ve had 234 years to get it solvent, it is broke. Social Security was established in 1935. You’ve had 74 yrs. to get it solvent, it’s broke. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You’ve had 71 yrs. to get it right, it’s broke. The War on Poverty was started in 1964. Taking trillions through taxes and transferring it to the poor; has not improved their lot. Medicare and Medicaid were started in ‘65. You’ve had 44 yrs. to get it solvent. Future baby boomer promised funds are at a deficit $106 trillion. Freddie Mac was born in ‘70. You’ve had 39 yrs. to get it right. It is broke. TARP, the Stimulus, not helping the grassroots. Help France, not us!!”

What is bringing on this extreme reaction to an initiative seeking better care for folks? We spend ten times as much on defense, why so much resistance on guaranteeing care for poor and rich alike?

We have public education, public libraries — where’s the difficulty in metabolizing a mixed system of public and private health care, like our schools or the way we mail stuff to one another? (private and public options in a mixed-market economy, what every Western democracy embodies including the US)

First, a couple of straw-mans for the naysayers to digest illustrating a clear case of why we need to change the status-quo now — and why that incremental change alone will stimulate economic health and lead to job creation. More mustard.

(You can answer yes or no.)

Q: Do you think health care should be a for-profit enterprise with folks being denied care because they’re poor?

Q: Do you think it’s tolerable that 70% of personal bankruptcies in the US are due to a lack of health-care insurance coverage?

Q: Do you think it’s okay for people to never consider changing jobs — thereby disrupting market forces — because they fear losing their health-care by switching employment?

Q: Do you think folks should live in fear — negatively impacting work productivity — because they’re forced to wade through so much red tape dodging efforts to dump their insurance or deny claims because it makes more profits for health insurance corporations to not provide care?

Those dilemmas listed above are common occurrences in US health care — perpetuation of the status quo will:

1. cost lives needlessly
2. damage productivity in the workplace
3. disrupt and distort market forces in regard to job mobility
4. damage US companies’ ability to compete in the global market
5. continue to cause an epidemic of health-care related bankruptcies

These flaws of our current health care crisis are JOB KILLERS right now, today. So, tea-baggers, unless you can address these issues, put your job-killing talking points away, we are already there.

The health care reform efforts will positively affect each of the above five bullet points, which, in turn, would help strengthen our economy and invigorate all of our livelihoods.

A lift from my health care paper from two years ago,

“Our country is the only industrialized nation without coverage for all her citizens and we spend twice as much per capita than any other nation for our health care – 17% of our GNP. That’s 90% more than West Germany, France or Canada. And don’t think that America is paying a premium for quality because the World Health Organization ranks us at 37th, sandwiched between Slovenia and Costa Rica. An overemphasis on corporate profits has swept away the most basic human needs of the American people.

Our health-care is too expensive and it’s broken. Why is it that Health Care in America costs so much?

In our current privatized system, over 30% of the cost pays for expensive Washington lobbyists, exorbitant salaries of CEOs, extravagant corporate jets and flashy advertising campaigns. Money skimmed right off the top before any care is ever provided.”

Simple fact is, the US health care system is broken because of an overemphasis on the profit-side of the business of taking care of folks; a uniquely American affliction as evidenced by the less ‘profit-frothy’ examples of universal health care coverage in the rest of the Western industrialized democracies, with coverage for all and producing significantly better medical outcomes for the average patient. Turbo-capitalism is at odds with the humane-healing part of health care, and in the worst instances, negates the healing mandate of general medicine. In legalese, we have a classic conflict of interest.

Approximately 45,000 people die every year due to preventable causes; they die because of lack of access to a doctor, hospital and medicine. This is inhumane, unjust and unacceptable.

Why? What’s driving the trend of rising premiums, co-pays and deductibles? Costs going up three times faster than wages? People unable to see a doctor? What are the root causes?

Mike Hall cites, “Profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage. Ca-ching.

Can you imagine an initiative that could actually stop all violent murders in a year? Or stop all deaths due to drunk driving? Miraculous, right? Well, getting everyone access to care could save as many lives as these fantasy scenarios. It is real and currently before our nation for consideration — it needs your support.

Many health care opponents are so xenophobic, unable to accept the possibility that another nation besides the US may have a better handle on solutions toward delivering more effective care for their citizens. We should all listen more and let go of an unholy attachment to broken economic theories that do not reconcile with the art of healing and providing care in an equitable manner. Or is it the rich survive and the poor die? Law of the jungle dot com? Too much of any one thing is bad — we need a balance between ’empathy / compassion’ alongside ‘competition and individual comparative advantage’. Finding that balance is where wisdom comes into play. If a project one tenth of the cost of the Pentagon can save 45,000 lives a year, well, that’s no-brainer to me. Imagine one of those 45,000 being your father, your mother, your sister. Sure, you’d want coverage then wouldn’t you?

I wish we’d all do a little more research, open our minds and resist the temptation to stop parroting Limbaugh-Beck-isms for a moment. Yes, they’re entertaining and stoke so successfully the knee-jerk defensive reaction to protect all the nuts we’ve buried in our backyards. But that’s a button they push like selling beer with attractive blonds. Just because it feels right, doesn’t make it right.

My article on job stimulus through health care reform was simple. We will see more economic activity to provide preventive care for the 30 million or so that will be added to the health-care insurance roster. More economic activity means more work hours, transactions and the provision of additional services. It means jobs — it means stimulus.

We have over 10% unemployment and need job creation to put folks back to work. It’s a positive side to the health care reform package that hasn’t been emphasized to date and I think it should be. BTW, I like French’s, the Grey Poupon is way too horseradishy.

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  • Reality – the Social Security Services I’ve paid into over forty years now with the understanding that this is a social contract… I pay in eventually it pays back, is the only reason I am not more vocal in suggestion this is a fine time to hoist our collective middle finger to everything east of The Rocky Mountains and wish them well in all future endeavor.

    The Y2K nuts had it right – ‘America’ is over. We’re here on momentum.

  • Daniel Rivera

    Hey, you’ve middle fingered me! Can’t we settle to middle finger the South? At least everything south of Northern Virginia… 🙂

    I really wouldn’t mind paying for every single tea-bagger to move to the South, let them secede so that they can name it Jesusland and let them show us the wonders of private heath insurance, mandatory “Christian” prayer in schools and guns for 5 year olds… oh yeah, and absolutely no taxes.

  • To your point on looking at the health care systems in other nations to see what might or might not be worth trying, it was impressive to see the attacks by reform opponents on the British and Canadian systems that seem, as a whole, to have been effective enough to run for quite a number of decades, despite their problems. When any of us has a problem, the easiest thing we can do is see what appears to be working elsewhere, what doesn’t appear to be working and to design a system taking into account these factors. To criticize alternate systems offhand because they don’t fit your own idea of what should and should not work is simply willful ignorance.

  • DJ

    As an “uninsurable” American, I hate health insurance companies as much as anyone– but I’m not willing to distort the facts to suit my agenda. I’m not saying you’ve done this, but you’ve used figures originating in an HCAN report that has, and you’re not alone– pro-health-reformers have uncritically repeated the figures across the internet.

    Here’s why: when I finally followed the trail of links to the HCAN report, the source of the 428% profit increase figure, the report states,

    “Profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies in 2007 rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, from $2.4 billion to $12.9 billion…”

    Yet the focus of the report is the growth of these companies through mergers. That means total investment (equity) has gone up. As an investor, you would expect (demand?) that profits rise as well. If a $1 billion company grew to $10 billion, but was still only producing 100 million in profits, their ROI would shrink from 10% to 1%– and their investors, including your pension fund, would turn to more profitable industries.

    Here’s a real life example: at Humana, one of the largest for-profit insurers (and the one I happen to be insured through at present) profits rose to 647 million in 2008 from 269 million in 2004, according to their most recent 10-K. That’s an increase of 140%. But equity rose over the same period from 2.1 billion to 4.5 billion, a 114% increase. Return On Investment– a number you’d look at as an accountant or investor– went from 12.8% in 2004 to 14.4%, an increase of 13% over five years. It’s still a respectable return, but it’s not 428% (or even 140%).

    Meanwhile, over at Cigna, profits have actiually fallen: from 1.4 million in 2004 to 1.1 million in 2007 (an accounting change in 2008 made that year’s income appear even lower, not meaningful for comparison.) ROI actually grew, though, from 21% to 23%, a 10% increase.

    I’ll be the first to agree that opponents’ criticism of Britain’s health care system is also largely unfair. Every Brit I know complains about their health care system, but when they need major medical care, they get on a plane and fly home.

    Seems like folks on all sides are faking the math to suit their needs. This is one reason I pay as much attention to the talking heads on the right as I do on the left: none. An “expert” does some MSU, and people jump on board without doing any fact checking.

    I will say that among the teabagger sympathizers I know, there are two main concerns:

    (1) They don’t trust our government, and I think with good reason. This is the same government that has STILL failed to deliver (or cause to be delivered) swine flu vaccine to our area. I hear you’ve got it in the city, but I’m in the second highest risk group and I still can’t get any. My God, what if this had been a really scary virus, like the flu they have in the Ukraine? NPR’s projected scenarios of bodies piling up in the streets wouldn’t have been too far fetched!

    (2) Where will the money come from? We already have a debt time bomb, making inflation virtually inevitable. The national debt doubled under W and will double again under O. That means we’ll owe more than 4 times as much as we did in 2000. Not coincidentally, the money supply has already almost doubled in the same period, from 4873 billion to 8392 billion (a 72% increase). That suggests the real value of our dollar compared to ten years ago is 58 cents. THAT’S a tax!

    I’m not saying health insurance for all is a bad idea– it’s not. My dream is a provider-payer (Kaiser style) option for everyone. But with a government controlled by for-profit corporations, we’ve got a lot of work to do before that can become a viable reality.

  • I’m with ya DJ.

    Couple notes — the consolidations occuring with health care insurance corporations are a function of their amassed profits, so could be laid out as a benefit from their profit margin, and could be viewed as such.

    The anti-trust scenarios come to mind where (also cited in the HCAN report), because those insurance corporations have been instrumental in crafting the public policy concerning their industries, they have an opportunity to be excluded from anti-trust regulation, consequently, one or two providers dominate a large portion of both 1. markets around the states and 2. the business in these markets.

    Why do they gobble up market share, deny care through techinicalities/scheming and behave in a way so divergent from existing health care systems around the world?

    Profits. And they’re doing it with a body count. This is well established fact, because when you deny someone care because of a yeast infection pre-existing or the fact they didn’t remember some treatment many years ago on their insurance app and then the ins corp calls it “fraud”, and then those people shut out pass on… well, you get it. The ins corps are defending this practice, which in my mind is unconscionable.

    “I’m not saying health insurance for all is a bad idea– it’s not. My dream is a provider-payer (Kaiser style) option for everyone. But with a government controlled by for-profit corporations, we’ve got a lot of work to do before that can become a viable reality.”

    Yes, as you said, a lot of work to do.

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