Torpy at Large: Tom Price, fiscal hawk / highfalutin flyboy

Metro Atlanta’s own Tom Price, the surgeon-turned-congressman-turned-U.S. Health Secretary, is now getting pummeled for flying around in private jets. Last week, the news site Politico detailed a three-day sprint for which Price spent more than $60,000 on such flights. Later, Politico said it was more like $300,000 since May […]

Karen Handel’s “I Am Not a Crook Moment”: “I Do Not Support a Livable Wage!”

Karen Handel’s comment that she does not support a “Livable Wage” supports the narrative that Conservatives in general do not support the idea that poor people deserve any respect or consideration.

This post from George Lakoff articulates the notion that how we view “Narrative” matters.

Osoff, asked in the debate about the minimum wage, shifted the frame away from immediate numbers that could approach $15 an hour over a reasonable period of time so that small businesses would have time to adjust. He said that he believed that any American who works a 40-hour-a-week job deserves a livable wage. In short, if you work a full week on a job, your wages should be enough for you to live on — even if only at a barely livable level. This was an important frame shift via words: “minimum” to “livable,” getting at the real issue.

Handel disagreed, saying: “I do not support a livable wage!”

During Watergate, Richard Nixon famously said, “I am not a crook.” And, immediately, Americans coast-to-coast thought of him as a crook. This incident inspired my book title Don’t Think of an Elephant! ” What does the title make you think of? Why does negating an idea so often have […]

To Improve Health Care We need to Change the Incentive From Making Money off of Sick People to Improving the Health of the Patient

To Improve health care and reduce costs we need to change the incentive from making money off of sick people to improving the health of the patient.

Tom Price has a plan for Health Care.  His plan is to reduce transparency, reduce standards, and increase freedom to exploit the sick.

Of course he would describe his plan differently.  If you ask Tom Price what his plan is, he would say that he advocates empowering individuals with their doctors so they can make their own health care decisions free from community interference.  And he is trying to pass laws in Congress and is encouraging the States to enact patient-centered, market-based programs to do this.

As a Doctor, it is clear why Rep. Price would like a system that frees him from any transparency and community interference.  He wants a lot of sick people that have no information so he can charge them as much as he can so he can make as much profit as he can.  He says, he wants patients to make their own decision in a free market system, just as one might when they by a car.  However, clearly, unlike buying a car where the buyer could know more about cars than the seller, Dr. Tom Price will always know more about what is wrong with the patient than the patient.  This places the patient at huge disadvantage.  In economics it is called “Information Asymmetry.”  Dr. Tom Price makes a lot of money on sick people.  And he wants to change the rules so he can make more money.

I had hoped the passage of Obamacare would put this debate behind us.  But, sadly, Obamacare did not solve the problem.  In fact, health care costs continue to ballon much faster than inflation.

So, what is the answer.  I came across an interesting study by Prof. Grayboyes.  The Title of the Study is “Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care.

Here is a short video Prof. Grayboyes put together to explain his view.

While I understand his view, I see the problem differently.

The problem is that, while every cell phone is exactly the same, not every hip replacement is exactly the same. While every Model T Ford was exactly the same, not every heart bypass is exactly the same.

Professor Graboyes comparison of health care services to technology is not a good comparison because you can gain huge cost savings through standardization in technology, but there is no such cost savings improvements in standardizing health care. In fact, by standardizing health care we would actually reduce quality care.

As long as the incentive is to make money on people getting sick, the sick will continue to pay more because those making money on people getting sick will continue to want to make more money.

We need to change the incentive of our health care industry from making money to making the patient well.

What is Wrong with the GOP “Pro-Growth Agenda.”

On February 4, 2016 House Republican leaders announced the formation of six committee-led task forces charged with developing a bold, pro-growth agenda. (For updates, visit speaker.gov/confidentamerica.)

In and of itself, putting forth a pro-growth agenda is a great thing.  Congress should always be working on a pro-growth agenda.  But, the question becomes is this the right pro-growth agenda for the 6th District.

Supposedly, President Obama hasn’t done anything to save Americas economy. It’s like the past seven years never happened for Republicans. And House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) says he has a “bold, pro-growth agenda” for 2016. In his weekly address Saturday, Ryan laid out the “mission statement” of that agenda:

“We want to save the American Idea for the vast majority of Americans who believe it’s just not there for them anymore. We want America to lead again. We want America to be confident again. That is our mission.

“By giving the people a clear choice in 2016, we will seek a mandate to do big things in 2017 and beyond.”

Watch Courtesy of Speaker Ryan’s Press Office:

Here is their plan.

These discussions will focus on five areas.

First, national security. How do we go about building a 21st-century military? What do we need to do to make sure we’re equipped to defeat ISIS and the threat posed by radical Islamic terror? How do we make sure we are secure here at home?

Next, jobs and economic growth. Our economy is far from its potential. Wages are still stagnant. Families are suffering. How do we fix our tax code? How do we rein in our regulatory state? How do we maximize our energy potential?

Third, health care. Obamacare has driven up premiums, limited choices, and taken away access. These are not the signs of success – they’re the signs of failure. If and when we repeal Obamacare, what solutions will lead to lower costs and a truly patient-centered health care system?

Fourth, poverty and opportunity. There are 46 million Americans living in poverty today, and a big part of the reason is we have a safety net that catches people falling into poverty. How do we lift people up, bring them back into the workforce, and restore upward mobility?

The last piece of this agenda – and it’s so critical to all the others – is restoring the Constitution. The president’s executive overreach has undermined the Constitution and damaged the people’s trust. What needs to be done to restore the separation of powers and protect our constitutional liberties?

I disagree that this is the best “pro-growth” agenda.

First, while national security is important, it should not be first on the list. Unless it is assumed the way to grow the country is to grow the military-industrial complex.  This is where we might need some more discussion.  But, assuming that one believes that by growing the military-industrial complex we grow the economy, is the GOP saying the way to grow the economy is for the government to spend more money?  That seems a lot like Keynesian of them.  And since I don’t think they follow Keynesian economics, I suspect they are thinking something different here.

I am in favor of national security.  As I am in favor of financial security and personal security.  And I want to defeat ISIS and all religious fundamentalists that want to force their ancient world view on others.  But, to make sure we are “secure here at home” as they say, we need to also focus on right wing Nationalist that threaten our security here at home.  We also need to talk about how to keep guns out of the hands of Islamic, and White Nationalists hands in order to be more secure here at home.

Second, I agree our economy is far from its potential.  I agree that wages are stagnant and families are suffering.  But, I don’t agree that taxes and our “regulatory State” is most to blame, if at all.  I think the reason wages are stagnant is that Globalization and improved manufacturing and transportation technologies are driving wages down  It is now cheaper to ship a widget from Vietnam to Los Angeles than to ship from Detroit to Los Angeles.  And since a worker in Vietnam makes an average of under $200 dollars a month there is no reason for a US Company to pay their workers more.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this problem.  So, while I am happy to have this on the agenda for growth, let’s not fool ourselves that simply reducing taxes and eliminating regulations will have the effect we all want – Higher wages.

Third, I agree that health care belongs on this list.  And I would like to see changes made to Obamacare.  But, I don’t want the requirement for “pre-existing” conditions to go away.  And I don’t believe simply saying we should go to a “truly patient-centered health care system” without full transparency to the outcomes of the service providers with result in a better health care delivery system.  My personal belief is we need to go to a “Kaiser” model.

Fourth, the statement that the way to solve poverty is to eliminate the safety net is ludicrous on its face.  Unless I’m wrong, poverty has been around for a long time.  If I am not mistaken, the Bible even talks about poor people.  And, how do you eliminate poverty while at the same fighting to eliminate the minimum wage.  The question I would ask is what does the GOP think is a annual salary of a full time that would eliminate poverty?  And if so, what are they doing to ensure someone that works full time achieves that wage.  As I said in #2 above, I think giving all our money to multinational corporations who ship jobs overseas and put all that money into un-taxable foreign bank accounts, is to blame? The GOP seems to assume that you’re poor its because you want to be poor. They seem to think that the best to eliminate poverty is to just give all that money to rich people and corporations, because they’ll share some of it.

Lastly, the GOP seems to think that putting the Constitution first will grow the economy.  This made me laugh.  This is the party that assumed, when they won a majority in Congress, that Obama’s re-election was inconsequential, that it was the Republican who had been given a mandate by the people, and that the president had to do precisely what they say. They are the ones who have violated the Constitution again and again to legislate religion, to stab the president in the back in the area of foreign policy. Executive overreach? How about legislative overreach?

Ryan is certainly using the right language, pretending to have learned the valuable lesson of the years he pretends never happened:

“To do that, we can’t just be an opposition party. We have to be a proposition party. If we do not like the direction the country is going in – and we do not – then we have an obligation to offer an alternative.”

The big problem with Ryan’s agenda is that as Robert Reich has demonstrated, that alternative has already been tried, and look where it got us in 2008.

Ryan closes by saying,

“We see it as our duty here in the people’s house to offer real ideas, to tackle the real issues head on. We want a confident America. Now it’s time to get to work.”

I agree we need to tackle the real issues. But, I don’t consider repealing Obamacare for the seventieth time without a clear plan to 1) cover pre-existing conditions and 2) prevent families from bankrupt in order to save a family member as the best way to grow America.

Pay Attention 6th District. Just because they say they’re going to fix things does not mean that it will actually fix things.

 

Ted Cruz’s 3 Prong Plan To Replace Obamacare Will Hurt Our Community

In the latest GOP Debate Ted Cruz was asked a great question about Healthcare and Obamacare.

“Today there are millions of people who gained health insurance from Obamacare and they now rely on it. So the question, Sen. Cruz, if you repeal Obamacare, as you say you will: Will you be fine if millions of those people don’t have health insurance, and what is your specific plan for covering the uninsured?

And here’s Cruz’s response.  While, he completely dodged the question of what will happen to the millions of poor people that need help getting insurance, his answer is never-the-less informative:

“If I am elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare. Now, once that is done, everyone agrees we need health care reform. It should follow the principles of expanding competition, empowering patients, and keeping government from getting between us and our doctors. Three specific reforms that reflect those principles: Number 1, we should allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. That’ll create a true 50-state national marketplace while will drive down the cost of low-cost catastropic health insurance. Number 2, we should expand health savings accounts so people can save in a tax-advantaged way for more routine health care needs. And Number 3, we should work to delink health insurance from employment, so if you lose your job, your health insurance goes with you, and it is personal, portable, and affordable, and I tell you, Bret I think that’s a much more attractive vision for health care than the Washington-driven, top-down Obamacare that is causing so many millions to hurt.”

Here is the Video:

Let me restate his three suggestions for healthcare:

  1. Allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. That’ll create a true 50-state national marketplace while will drive down the cost of low-cost catastropic health insurance.
  2. Expand health savings accounts so people can save in a tax-advantaged way for more routine health care needs.
  3. Work to delink health insurance from employment, so if you lose your job, your health insurance goes with you, and it is personal, portable, and affordable,

Let me start my review by clearly stating I agree with all three of these points.  I think Healthcare Insurance should be national.  In fact, I think it should be national and single payer.  (I’ll talk a lot more about this in future posts.)  I think there should be health saving accounts that people get tax benefits for.  And I think we should delink health insurance from employment.

So, I agree with Ted on all three of these things.  However, I disagree with Ted and Other conservatives when they say that is all that needs to happen.

Obamacare does two things: 1) removes preexisting conditions as a reason to deny insurance, and 2) Subsidizes insurance for the poor.

Cruz did not answer the question about what happens to those people that rely on those two things to get insurance.

The reason he did not answer it is that Cruz, like many conservatives only think healthcare should go to those that can afford it.  Conservatives call people that cannot afford healthcare “Losers.”  And they have said often they don’t want to help these uninsured losers.

It is not in the best intent of the community to put healthcare into the hands of the free market oligarchies, who see it in their best interest to deny care to those they may deem too expensive to cover, because it would harm profits. Cruz seems to be in favor of this happening, since he didn’t even touch upon it in his response.

The only people Conservatives plan helps are the wealthy and business owners who will no longer be required to offer coverage to their employees. His plan is in no way whatsoever beneficial community.

When I go to a restaurant I want to know that employees have health insurance so they don’t come to work sick and get me sick.

Conservative healthcare plans would bring America back to an era of people dying because they can’t afford coverage.

Tom Price Offers Health Care Challenge! I Accept

In a recent Opinion piece in IJReveiew, our Congressman Tom Price, offered yet another vague response to one of most important social issues of our day; how do we achieve a healthy community?  He clearly offers no solutions to achieving a healthy community.  As is expected, because he either has few specifics (other than hating on Obama) or doesn’t know enough specifics, he is content to just sow fear.

However, at the end Tom Tom Price issued a challenge.  I think it is a great challenge and I think we should work to meet it.

Here is what Tom Prices said:”

It’s time to get real about advancing positive solutions. That will only happen if the American people lend their voices and support to those policymakers who are willing to take on the entrenched defenders of a broken status quo. And that will only happen if folks engage in an honest and open dialogue about these challenges.

So let’s get to it. Let’s restore the trust for all generations.

I completely agree with our Congressman Tom Price.

I am extremely interested in”

  • advancing positive solutions.
  • lending my voice and support to those policymakers willing to take on the entrenched defenders of a broken status quo.
  • engaging in honest and open dialogue about these challenges.
  • most of all, like you, I am very interested in restoring trust for all generations.

I agree Tom, let’s get to it.

I offer this website the platform to “get to it.”

This website, the Ga 6th District, is structured to facilitate honest and open dialog.

For example, Tom Prices is a Doctor.  Tom Price has a lot information he can share with the community.  He teach the community about how to run a Doctor’s office.  He could teach us the economics of a Doctor’s office.  Tom Price could teach us a lot about the healthcare economics, current healthcare systems and their influence on the 6th District, and medial information on what are the best ways to stay healthy.

And there are others in our community that can add information and value to the community to find and advance positive solutions.

The goal, as you say, is to advance positive solutions.  

I propose we use our 6th District Learning Community as the platform to discuss the potential action plans to move forward.

The 6th District will publish its own suggestions for solutions to achieve the goal of a healthy community.