Health Care Discussion

Well, I know what I’ll be listening to as I draw tomorrow. Use this thread to meet all your Health Care Policy Discussion posting needs.

I think these paragraphs from Newsweek explain why it’s unlikely that the big health care summit will lead to a bill that both parties will vote for:

Writing in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, Gerald Seib made an observation about tomorrow’s health-care summit that I think is critical to understanding the proceedings. “The first is that the most basic predicate for success in any negotiation—that both sides, at the outset, think reaching an agreement is preferable to failing to reach an agreement—doesn’t exist here,” he wrote. In negotiation parlance, they call that a BATNA: the best alternative to a negotiated agreement. To figure out how your opponents will act, you need to understand the outcome they envision if the negotiation fails—that is, at what point can they happily walk away. The Democrats’ BATNA is that they continue along the path they’ve been heading: have the House pass the Senate bill and make fixes like those the White House offered on Monday through the budget-reconciliation process in the Senate, where they will need only 51 votes.

The Republican BATNA is that health-care reform fails. The summit doesn’t sway any of their members or any of those Democrats who have been hedging their bets, and the bill just limps toward death. More important, it’s not clear that they’d prefer a negotiated outcome to their BATNA. If they successfully negotiate for the inclusion of some of their signature items—say, for example, medical-malpractice reform—they might feel compelled to vote in favor of reform. That hands the president and his congressional allies an enormous win and undermines their yearlong project of attacking Democratic reform initiatives. They can’t vote for what they’ve spent months calling a “government takeover of health care” and then continue promoting their “Obama is a crazy liberal” narrative. No agreement would seem their preferred outcome. This is not a good-faith negotiation.

This seems like a good moment for me to reprint this old strip. With luck, maybe the strip will be obsolete in a few years. It could happen!

Cartoon about universal health care

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5 Responses to Health Care Discussion

  1. 1
    nobody.really says:

    I have some ambivalence about Obama meeting with Republicans on TV. Many progressives praise Obama’s performance during the “Question Time” at the Republican caucus, and expect that Obama will perform just as well at this “discussion.” He’ll win for sure!

    Alas, this again reinforces the idea that there is no common search for information and insight that might promote a better outcome generally, that facts and ideas are merely weapons to be wielded in a propaganda war against an implacable foe.

    That said, I can’t see how any other dynamic is possible when national politicians “debate” issues on TV. The much-despised “smoke-filled back rooms” are the primary places where ACTUAL openness to new ideas, as well as give and take, might occur.

    So, as Newsweek correctly observes, this will not be much of a discussion or negotiation or debate. It will be an opportunity for competing propaganda campaigns.

    Judged by that standard, I have to think that Obama has already won. Republicans complain that they haven’t been invited to “the table.” Obama is inviting them to the table. Republicans complain that their ideas haven’t been considered. Obama will publicly give their ideas consideration. Republicans complain that things haven’t been done in the open; Obama will openly discuss these issues with Republicans. Thus, even though it’s a foregone conclusion that no one’s positions will change, this “discussion” will undermine the Republican thesis about how the health care bill contains ideas that would never be proposed but for some deep, dark socialist conspiracy.

    After today, health reform will remain socialist, but will be a conspiracy no longer. And in these anxiety-ridden times, paranoia is perhaps the biggest obstacle facing health reform.

  2. 2
    RonF says:

    I’ll wait to read about this to make a substantive comment. But it was interesting – I was driving into work (late, had to pick up a prescription!) and put on the station that had been the local Air America affiliate. The radio station staff was listening respectfully to the President and then heckled the Republicans when they spoke, to the point that I was having a hard time hearing what he was saying.

  3. 3
    lonespark says:

    Stephanie Miller show had it on this morning. It was alternately boring and frustrating to listen to. I hope it looked more interesting on TV. But it’s boring to me because I’m familiar with most of the arguments. If it gets shown to the public that will be a good thing.

  4. 4
    Johnny Maduro says:

    Is the issue really Health Care or is it Paying for Health Care?

    I have heard enough about this subject alone, to clog and interfere productive thought processes for a lifetime; that is unless you have it in you to shake yourself free from all the constant dribble that we are bombarded with on a daily basis and realize that no matter how many layers you peel off an onion, it’s an onion all the way to the center, not an apple.
    Health Care is not the issue or problem in my opinion; it is the method of payment for medical services that is! Examine what I am saying close and consider for a moment that in 1969 an outpatient self prescribed vasectomy with your family doctor cost $300.00 to $600.00 and in 2009 the same self prescribed procedure will cost you $500.00 to $800.00. Now ask yourself, why hasn’t the cost of this procedure skyrocketed, as in the costs of a root canal and crown on a molar for example? The root canal and molar costs ranged from about $100.00 to $200.00 in 1969 and now in 2010 the cost ranges from $1500.00 to $3000.00. Hmmm…….is there an explanation?
    The reason I used this example is very important, they are medical procedures that have gone through very little change for the most part, and are generally self prescribed. The changes that have been made in my examples have decreased the actual surgical times by almost 75% for both procedures; allowed doctors too perform the procedures at the office thereby reducing staff by nearly half and with improvements to local anesthesia the doctor rarely has to make his patient incoherent. These are all examples of change that make the procedures more efficient for both the doctor and the patient, yet the dental costs have risen nearly 21 times higher.
    From 1969 to present, what was the basic change between these two examples? If you hadn’t already known or guessed it at this point, it’s the way we pay for the two procedures! In 1969 it was extremely rare for a vasectomy to be covered under an insurance plan and even rarer if at all, that a root canal and crown were included in a dental plan, that is if you could find a dental plan, the patient was required to pay for it out of pocket. To this day the vasectomy procedures are rarely covered under insurance plans, but root canals and crowns are; thereby keeping the vasectomy cost in check but allowing for rogue casino’s (insurance companies) to give the doctors a big payout on the root canals and crowns; then slowly and steadily recouping the payouts with an increase in patient premiums, deductibles, and other shared costs that are unpleasantly similar to the slot machine formulas used in gambling institutions.
    In the end, whether you think the method should be to rely on the “government to pay” or the “big private industry to pay” as if there is a noticeable difference between the two, the reality is either way, costs will continue to unjustifiably rise! Truthfully I have not found any form of commerce, that when free and liberated citizens relinquished and traded off (depending on insurance policies and bank loans) their responsibility rather than save their money and pay a vendor directly and in full, that the costs of products and services they were trying to get didn’t quickly rise disproportionately. The example that I gave above is only one of hundreds upon hundreds.
    The way that the majority of people pay for health care (and many other goods and services) is fundamentally unproductive and deprecating to its core; just as an onion is an onion all the way to its middle. To what end do we continue to believe and buy into the fact that the onions (the hundreds and hundreds of different bank loans and insurance programs) we are being sold by the onion farmers (big government and the banking cartels) are apples.

  5. 5
    Elusis says:

    just as an onion is an onion all the way to its middle

    [ProfessorWalsh] And if it’s true of produce, it must be true of health care. [/ProfessorWalsh]