Military Analogies and the Health Care Debate: a Pyrrhic Victory?

Attention, Bill Kristol: I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

When we speak of a Pyrrhic victory, we refer to one so costly as to make defeat preferable — as when Pyrrhus of Epirus’ “victory” at Heraclea proved so costly that it foreclosed a further incursion into Roman territory. A Pyrrhic victory must not just be devastating: it must make strategic victory, in the broader sense, impossible.

There’s no indication that the Democrats’ victory in the health care debate is even nearly Pyrrhic. Admittedly, we had to give up the public option — for now — and it sure took us long enough. But health care reform will bring real savings to real people, at a relatively low price, and as Kristol readily concedes, any exhaustion in the Democratic ranks is temporary. This is a qualified victory, but still a real one.

If Kristol is looking for a historical analogy to open with and then facetiously discard, he might turn to Quintus Fabius Maximus (Cunctator) instead. Like Fabius, congressional Republicans have built a strategy on the premise that delaying a difficult battle is its own reward. Of course, Fabius’ strategy was incomplete: it lacked an ultimate engine for victory, which later materialized only through the ingenuity and bravery of Scipio the Elder, who broke the stalemate and took the fight to Carthage.

Republicans have no Scipio, and more importantly, they aren’t looking for one. As even a casual observer of the health care debate must know, Republicans did not enter this fight to win it. At no point in this year’s long, strange health care debate did Republicans ever offer (and defend) a serious alternative plan. Delaying is all they know, all they cared to do, and all they did. This isn’t just a bad strategy: it’s no strategy at all.

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96 comments

  1. One thing that would have encouraged a more ‘robust’ debate between both sides of the aisle is if Congress was willing to forego huge bills meant to impress and instead tackle each issue on its on merits. For example, federal funding of abortion could have been its own bill and went down in spectacular flames accordingly. The public option could have been a separate bill and we could have debated socialized medicine on its own merits rather than as part of a larger package of ‘reforms’.

    When a single bill has so many various provisions there is no choice but to consider it not on the quality of each specific detail but as a huge offering by a specific political party. That breeds partisanship.

  2. You disproved your own point about robust dialogue by tossing in the “socialized medicine” line. None of your side would’ve held their tongues on any of this, no matter how narrowly it was broken down, nor can you resist those tired, old, misleading canards.

    Plus, funding limitations are nonseverable from the bills that propose the funding (you can’t really debate those separately); and I wouldn’t rule out the public option just yet. There’s nothing to formally “end” debate short of us saying it’s over :).

    1. Ames – the public option IS socialized medicine. If you’d like to argue to the contrary be my guest.

      Abortion funding could have been left out from the start since it was all-but-guaranteed to be removed later considering overwhelming public opposition.

      1. So Mike, is Medicare socialized medicine? Seems sot me that the same ingredients, with a different name, is still the same cake?

        1. Of course it is – but there are different levels of socialized medicine. A debate over that subject, divorced from the rest of the bill, would have been healthy for the country. The Left’s idealized version of European-style medicine verses the Right’s free-market preference is a conversation we should have.

        2. Philip, you just don’t get it! The right doesn’t like it; ergo it’s “socialized”!

          1. We just prefer accurate descriptions. Some examples:

            Ames = liberal

            govt-provided healthcare = socialized medicine

            Despite your fear of those accurate labels, they are still the most applicable.

  3. I think you’re profoundly misunderstanding the nature of the abortion funding debate. The “state of nature” is no abortion funding — and no-one serious offered an amendment to the contrary. The right kicked up a non-existent controversy.

    As for “socialized,” we’ve had this debate. There are two problems. First, it’s a pejorative phrase that tries to inject controversy and fear into a completely unscary, normal thing. If government control imports socialism, we already have socialized single-payer medicine for a large amount of the populace; we have socialized rails; socialized banks; etc., etc. If you define the term that broadly it loses all power, although it can, apparently, still scare the uninformed.

    Second, REAL socialized medicine would be nationwide, universal single-payer. We don’t have that.

    1. Ames – the bill offered an expansion of abortion through new federal funding. I don’t see how you could misread that.

      First, it’s a pejorative phrase that tries to inject controversy and fear into a completely unscary, normal thing.

      Isn’t it interesting that so many accurately-descriptive terms like ‘liberal’ or ‘socialized medicine’ are considered offensive by the Left? This is the problem. You want to start the debate from a dishonest point by refusing to call yourself a liberal (or endore liberalism as a preferable ideology) and you don’t want to call socialized medicine what it is.

      The debate is over an EXPANSION of the social medicine regime in this country. The debate is over whether or not socialized, govt provided healthcare is preferable to a free market approach. You can pretend that only universal coverage is ‘socialized medicine’ but we both know that simply isn’t true.

  4. You’re really slipping into Jonah Goldberg territory lately. It’s worrying :(

  5. There’s no substance in calling things “socialism” or “socialized” whatever. First, it’s historically inaccurate, and second, even if I concede the label to you, all it does is scare people with a buzzword, rather than inform them of the substance. Quintessential Goldberg.

    1. So there’s no substance to accurate labels? Okay – well I’d like you to stop calling us ‘conservatives’ and refer to us as ‘traditionalists’ going forward because y’know conservative is such a loaded term.

      It IS in fact completely accurate to call government-provided medical care ‘socialized medicine’ even if you don’t like the term. The term has been used since 1917. Now, to be fair to label-adverse folks like yourself, the more accurate desciption would be ‘nationalized’ or ‘socialized health insurance’ since the doctor’s themselves aren’t working for the government. Now, if we were to go the Left-preferred route of univeral healthcare then doctors would become in-effect, employees of the state.

      1. Don’t be dishonest here, Mike. You know as well as we do that the term “socialized” means “bad” to the right, and not on its merits. It is a pejorative term as used by the right. It’s how you end up with people saying “keep the government out of medicare,” showing that they reject socialism out of hand and yet don’t understand that medicare itself socialized, because the right doesn’t apply the label equally.

        1. Sure it’s bad – just like big business is a negative when used by liberals despite that millions of them are employed by ‘big business’. But that doesn’t mean the term shouldn’t be used. Isn’t it the job of people who favor socialized medicine to not run from the term or come up with innocent-sounding alternatives (public option) but to defend it? That’s the one thing that always amazes me about the Left is their unwillingness to defend their ideology and the terms that define it. I mean, isn’t that the whole reason you all started using ‘progressive’?

          1. So Democrats are weak and won’t defend themselves when Republicans are evil and pollute the meaning of things?

            1. Ames slanders Republicans on a daily basis and we all know his remarks are stereotypes and generalizations. I have the balls to call him on it and explain exactly why I think he is wrong. Why don’t you all have the courage to do the same?

  6. Isn’t it the job of the opposition to engage honestly and in good faith, rather than using appropriated, distorted buzzwords to camouflage their lack of real ideas?

    I’m not afraid to call things “socialist” when they are. But you’re using a term of art to describe things you don’t like, when what you don’t like is even an iota of government involvement. That’s crap.

    1. Isn’t it the job of the opposition to engage honestly and in good faith, rather than using appropriated, distorted buzzwords to camouflage their lack of real ideas?

      “What IS conservatism? In practice, at least in America, it’s a failed ideology. Like communism.”

      Your own words Ames. Seriously, do you even read your own posts on this blog? If we want to talk about over-the-top, hyperbolic, stereotyped and generalized propaganda, well then this certainly serves as a darn good example. It’s hilarious for you to accuse the other side of basically being better at spin than you when you’ve dedicated this blog not to the advancement of liberalism and the Democratic party but rather to a continuous assault on the Right.

  7. Mike,
    I still fail to see how having a government provided health insurnace option equals to socialized medicine. If no one is forced to give up the insurance policies they have through private providers, and the government policy is neither cost effective nor provides a high level of service, then the private sector wins out, an nothing is socialized. Of course, if the governmen toption is more cost effective and does provide the same or a higher level of service, then private insurance companies will haev two options – change their business practices to become competitive, or run around screaming “socialized medicine” so that the political will to continue the government insurance plan is sapped.

    1. Now reconcile that position with the standard liberal line on farm subsidies and small farms.

      1. Mike,
        Not sure what you are fishing for here, but THIS liberal is not a big fan of farm subsidies as they are currently structured. Too much of the farm subsidy program is structured to keep large agri-business concerns propped up (think ADM) at the expense of family farmers who, in my opinion, are far more market responsive, not to mention produce a higher quality product. I have also never been a big fan of agricultural price support – e.g. sugar – and my view is that all of these could go away tomorrow and our economy (not to mention our stomachs) would be better off.

        Of course, the big difference here is that with the healthcare debate, a government run health insurance plan has no comparative product in the agricultural sector.

        And that aside, I said that government provided health insurance doesn’t equal socialized medicine, and you went to farm subsidies. Nice dodge.

        1. Phillip – you should know by now I NEVER dodge. All will be revealed…

          How do govt subsidies hurt small farmers? Won’t the small farms continue to do well so long as they change their business practices to become competitive?

          1. no small farmer can change his business practices to compete with an agribusiness coporation hundreds of times his size. Nice try, but the government run option only presents competition to private insurers if it gets larger then they are – and it can’t since most americans are already covered by what – a dozen companies?

            1. The govt has successfully marginalized small farmers. It’s very hard to compete with the govt’s deep pockets.

              1. No, ADM, Monsanto, and the like have USED the government to marganilize small farmers. BIG, HUGE, WHOPPING Difference. The small farmers are not in DIRECT competition with the feds, but with the large agribusinesses who suckle at the federal teet, all the while claiming they love free enterprise.

                If that’s the best you can do to refute a government insurance option competing against Blue Cross, Kaiser, Cigna, et. al., you need to try again.

  8. Of course, if the governmen toption is more cost effective and does provide the same or a higher level of service, then private insurance companies will haev two options – change their business practices to become competitive, or run around screaming “socialized medicine” so that the political will to continue the government insurance plan is sapped.

    Well said Phil

    1. I wish it had been well typed.

  9. Where have you explained where I’m wrong?

    1. Well of course you don’t think I’ve ever proved you wrong (sort of like I don’t actually believe any of your anti-Republican nonsense). But the point is that the effort is made.

  10. Frankly, I think the Right is not going far enough on this issue. It seems inconsistent that they’re against “socialized medicine” (whatever that is), but not against “socialized police”, “socialized libraries”, “socialized fire departments”, “socialized education”, “socialized environmental protection”, and all the other “socialized” things going on in your country.

    I understand the Republicans have felt a need to “reinvent” themselves recently; this could be exactly what they’re looking for.

    1. If the free market provided any of those things I think you would see ‘socialization’ disappear. For example, air travel. There is no govt-provided air travel. It’s provided adequately by private industry.

    2. But the free market could provide many of those things. Why do you have e.g. socialized law enforcement when there are so many excellent security companies that could easily take over law enforcement and do it much more efficiently.

      I bet they could even partner with the insurance sector to provide a range of excellent insurance plans for the concerned homeowners. Sure, probably not everyone could actually afford such a plan, and sure, actually getting mugged or having your home broken into could negatively affect your insurance plan. But think of the tax savings! It would be competitive!

      And then there are your socialized libraries. I mean, just think about it – lending out books for free?! Communism! In broad daylight! Privatising the library systems and letting them charge a very reasonable fee per book would hurt no one, and it would be good for the publishing industry, too.

      And fire departments. The potential synergy between private FDs and the insurance companies is so obvious.

      I’m sure there are many exciting opportunities for privatisation if you just look around a bit.

      1. Well law enforcement has been provided by govts since the Roman times or earlier – I think it has something to do with the state enforcing its own laws.

        As for fire departments, we have had private fire departments before. The reason for socialization was that they let houses without insurance burn thus leading to public destruction – therefore again, it was determined that the govt had a vested interest.

        Libraries function in different ways in different places. There are plenty of nearly-private library systems in the US as well. Where there aren’t, the community has decided they want to provide them.

        If you’re trying to make the argument that the govt dabbles in socialism all the time – I agree. The debate is not over that fact but whether or not healthcare is another area for their involvement. Even in your own country you all wisely figured out that broad socialization of industry is not really a good thing. We have made the same judgement on this side of the pond.

      2. Not at all. Socialized law enforcement as we know it is a quite modern concept dating back to the mid-18th century Great Britain. Before that time, some places might have had various types of constable or watchman groups, often on a volunteer or private basis.

        Socialized health care is quite a bit older, actually, with many public hospitals dating back to the 17th or early 18th century, such as the hôpitals général in France, the Charité in Berlin, or the Allgemeine Krankenhaus in Vienna – or the Bellevue in New York, for that matter.

        My point is not so much one about socialism, which I don’t think has anything to do with it, but rather that all of these different government functions are the result of essentially the same process: The growth of the nation state and the general expansion of government and the civil society in roughly the period 1750-1950. That healthcare was left out of that process in the US, pretty much uniquely in the western world, is little more than a historic accident.

        So it just seems inconsistent that the Right has pretty much no problem with most of the government functions that are already “socialized”, but when the government wants to finally get around to include health care as well, it gets shouted down as “socialized medicine” which will pave the way to socialism and possibly destroy the very fabric of American society.

        It’s funny you mention houses without insurance burning down, by the way. I think that’s quite comparable to insurance companies leaving patients with “pre-existing conditions” without insurance or arbitrarily increasing premiums to ridiculous levels, and would lead to an equally comparable vested government interest in the healthcare sector.

        But perhaps conservatives just think physical property is more important than the life and well-being of human beings?

        1. “It’s funny you mention houses without insurance burning down, by the way. I think that’s quite comparable to insurance companies leaving patients with “pre-existing conditions” without insurance or arbitrarily increasing premiums to ridiculous levels, and would lead to an equally comparable vested government interest in the healthcare sector.”

          That’s an abysmmal comparison. If I get denied coverage because of a pre-existing coverage… sucks for me and is completely irrelevant to the rest of the world. There is no way short of communicable disease (which can be addressed by quarantining me or just shooting me) that my pre-existing condition’s non-coverage can ever harm anyone who isn’t me. As a result, my pre-existing condition’s non-coverage doesn’t matter. It’s an individual problem, which if the disposable individual can solve for himself, great, and if he can’t, no big deal: he dies and the world doesn’t notice. On the other hand, if I don’t buy firefighting service, well, my fire can still spread to my neighbor’s house.

          Denying coverage to someone with pre-existing conditions can’t affect anyone else. Refusing to put out a fire can.

          1. Denying coverage to someone with pre-existing conditions can’t affect anyone else. Refusing to put out a fire can.

            WRONG – When your pre-existing condition requires treatment at a hospital, or even a doctor’s clinic, it impacts us if either you 1)can’t afford the treatment and we the taxpayers then have to pick up the tab, or 2) you can afford the treatment but the doctor’s rates have to be raised to cover his time with you.

            Steve, you are not an island in the sea. You are a part of a society. Like it or not, and I suspect you don’t, things do NOT just affect you. Every person without health insurance for pre-existing conditions impacts the rest of society both their own pocket books, and the pocket books of everyone else who eithe rpays more taxes or higher insurnace premiums to cove rthe costs of the uninsured.

            1. “When your pre-existing condition requires treatment at a hospital, or even a doctor’s clinic, it impacts us if either you 1)can’t afford the treatment and we the taxpayers then have to pick up the tab, or 2) you can afford the treatment but the doctor’s rates have to be raised to cover his time with you.”

              Neither of those conditions are necessary, or I believe moral. If you can’t afford treatment, you don’t deserve treatment and you shouldn’t get treatment.

              Why do you and Lanfranc and Ames and so many other people have this weird belief that “die” isn’t a valid option at all? I don’t understand it, and I don’t really respect it.

              1. Porbably because I value my own life, I value the lives of my family, and I value the lives of the people around me. You don’t have thr giht to tell me to die just because I can’t afford something the market has priced me out of through all sorts of non-free market subsidies and rent shifts.

                And while neither of the conditions I outlined MAY be necessary or moral, those are the realities faced by millions of people in America today. Hiding under a rock won’t make them go away.

        2. Except families and communities who depend on individuals…

        3. Why do you think insurance companies should cover people with pre-existing conditions?

          1. How does that work as a business model? Tell me Ames, how much pro bono work do you do?

            1. Haha, you’ve picked a bad argument for two reasons. First, many businesses operate with sharp regulatory oversight. Power utilities, for example. They’re still profitable, and still manageable. Health care companies won’t suddenly become unprofitable.

              Second, I’ve been volunteering full time since the fall for an Assemblymember representing part of Manhattan, running his election law shop. After I start with the firm in January, I’ll continue in an “of counsel” role. So the answer to “how much pro bono” is “100% now, substantial later” :).

              1. Could you make a living if many of your clients were guaranteed to use up more of your time than they will ever pay for? Forcing an insurance company to cover someone who will never pay in premiums what they take out of the system is akin to forcing them to give a charitable donation. It’s the same as if you signed up for a car insurance policy and told the company up front that you would be totaling a car every year and you would still like the same premiums as everyone else and it’s wrong for them to deny you coverage.

                1. I think Lanfranc responded to this point fairly well. Further, insurance is risk pooling. They’re not going to lose money on every patient, but they anticipate and depend upon losses for some. That’s the product they’re selling. All we’re saying is that they shouldn’t unconscionably minimize the losses they voluntarily assumed, and that people expect them to take.

                  1. Ames – unfortunately every time we talk business, your lack of experience in fields other than law become grossly apparent…

                    All companies assume a certain amount of loss as the price of doing business. My company has plenty of services we offer clients that represent a loss to us, but in the long run the upside is more business because customers know they will be taken care of. The acceptable level of loss is determined by every company. Some companies like my own are conservative about it. Others are more willing to gamble because perhaps the potential upside is greater. In no way though should the government ever step in and mandate loss, which is what you are advocating.

                    The difference between this and other forms of loss (i.e overhead)is that as a general rule govt-created overhead is a measurable thing that companies can plan for and build into their business model. There is no way to properly plan for the costs of providing healthcare for those with pre-existing conditions, especially given American’s love of elective medical treatment.

                    I have no problem with the govt providing healthcare to those who have a pre-existing condition and find themselves unable to get new healthcare. This is in the same way that I have supported ‘gap-coverage’ for people between jobs and universal healthcare for children. What I cannot support is the govt mandating loss for private companies simply because liberals believe it’s the right thing to do. If they are concerned…let the govt pay the bill. As I have said many times – it is amazing how willing liberals are to spend other people’s money.

                    1. What I cannot support is the govt mandating loss for private companies simply because liberals believe it’s the right thing to do. If they are concerned…let the govt pay the bill. As I have said many times – it is amazing how willing liberals are to spend other people’s money.

                      Mike,
                      First, what makes you think tha tinsurance companies, “saddled” as you seem to tyhink they will be by patients with pre-existing conditons won’t adjust their premium structures wher ethey can to overocme this “loss?”

                      Second, sure, insurance companies have to pay out more for those with preexisitng conditions, but won’t they be rakin gin huge profits from those (particularly the famously uninsured 20 something crowd) who rarely seek medical treatment?

                      Third, why is providing vital medical services to people considered loss? What’s more important here – people’s lives and health, or corporate profits?

                    2. 1) I thought controlling rising healthcare costs was a primary goal of reform?

                      2) My understanding was the insurance mandates were opposed by the liberal members of the Democratic caucus. It was the moderates who pushed for the mandate.

                      3) Because the govt cannot force companies to become charities. If the govt thinks these people should be covered – provide them the coverage through tax increases.

                    3. Responsible regulation is a far cry from “forc[ing] companies to become charities.”

                      And are you actually trying to argue now that a public option would be better? That taxing to build a government program that you’d call “socialized” is less “stealing other people’s money” than regulating businesses? The mendacity and intellectual disjoint involved is… concerning, and exactly what we talk about when we talk about Republicans engaging in bad faith bargaining.

                      Also, as to this:

                      There is no way to properly plan for the costs of providing healthcare for those with pre-existing conditions, especially given American’s love of elective medical treatment.

                      There is. You can’t tell me that companies haven’t run the numbers. It would cut in to their profits, but not render them “charities.” If it did, then we’d have an issue. But being forced to give up the margin they gain by denying care to the dying is closer to forcing industrial manufacturers to give up the margin they’d receive from employing child labor, than it is to making them “charities.”

                      And there’s a major difference between treatment for pre-existing conditions, most of which are chronic, life-threatening, or both, and elective surgery. MAJOR.

                    4. A public option is at least more transparent and fair than mandating coverage of those with pre-existing conditions by private insurers.

                      “But being forced to give up the margin they gain by denying care to the dying…”

                      So Jane Doe has terminal cancer and no health insurance. You’re saying that Humana should be forced to accept her and cover her expenses? How is that their responsibility? Restaurants make profits off of selling food. Should they be forced to provide meals to the homeless?

                    5. This is an argument against regulation — not an argument against healthcare reform.

  11. Lanfranx is quite right (an thanks for fighting my battles for me while I was in the air!). Rome, in fact, had private fire fighters, minters, and (later), armies. It was a disaster.

    EDIT: the following comment was a separate response, but was published with my real name. So I’m republishing it as an addendum here, modified only to strike my full name :) :

    1. Because there’s no way for them to use the criterion non abusively. Ask anyone with a chronic condition — even a mild, manageable one. Ask me. “PEC” becomes a way of stalling and waving away valid claims, or burying legitimate claimants in paperwork.

    2. Legally they can be required to. Accordingly it’s a policy judgment. People want it. Their reps should get it for them.

    3. Same reasoning as above, but adding that, when there’s an industry with the power of life and death over a large sector of the populace, they should be required to discharge their obligations and conduct themselves responsibly.

  12. Mike, I’m sure having to cover patients they know for certain will be expensive for them later on is a crappy business model for the insurance companies. But that’s just too bloody bad for them. They’re earning their money – and quite a lot of it, I suspect – by offering an important social service for profit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but as far as I’m concerned it means that society can reasonably expect them to go to some lengths to ensure that the citizens who need that service also actually have access to it.

    If they won’t do that voluntarily, government will have to make them do it, because when faced with a choice between the well-being of companies and that of the citizens, government should choose the latter. That’s especially true in this case, because patients with “conditions” are by the nature of things usually those who need coverage the most.

    And if the companies don’t feel they can do business under those circumstances, they’re welcome to close down. Then the government can take over that function, like it does in most other developed countries.

  13. Mike, I don’t think these are unreasonable expectations of an industry that proposes to deliver a critical social service in return for a profit. And if the industry is not able to make a living under those circumstances, one should simply draw the conclusion that the free market is not able to deliver that service. Then they should close and let the government do it instead. Or they could offer supplementary health insurances the same way insurance companies do in many other countries.

    However, I strongly doubt this. Many countries have a health system in which private companies play a prominent role, yet operate under much stricter rules than anything even most left-wing Democrats would dream of suggesting. Germany, France, Belgium and Japan, just to mention a few.

    1. If the govt makes unreasonable demands – they should take care of those demands themselves. I have no problem with the government augmenting the current system the way they always have with medicare, schip, etc. The reason they are going after private companies smacks of trying to kill them to me. I think that is of course the ultimate goal of liberals, so anything they can do to hurt private insurers is no doubt a plus in their books.

    2. That’s a nice little conspiracy theory, but I think the real reason why they’re going after the private companies making entirely reasonable demands of the private companies who earn money by providing a critical social service is that those companies are not doing their jobs well enough.

      But I guess that when faced with the choice between the health of a few companies and the health of millions of people, conservatives will always choose the former.

      1. Well enough according to whom? Again – compare it to auto insurance. Why is it not problematic that auto insurers deny coverage to high-risk drivers?

      2. Because – and I find it positively tragicomic that I find myself having to make this argument – cars are not people. Nobody is going to die or face financial ruin from being denied auto insurance. But those are very real potential consequences from being denied medical insurance if you have a serious disease. This should be obvious.

        1. “Nobody is going to…face financial ruin from being denied auto insurance.”

          Maybe not in England. I can tell you though that I have had more employees lose their jobs (and ultimately their financial security) over lack of transportation than anything to do with healthcare. In the US a car is an essential part of being employed in most places.

          1. In the US a car is an essential part of being employed in most places.

            Only because we national transportation policy that emphasizes that individual “need”, as opposed to highly efficient public transit that makes it an option.

            Next.

        2. That is entirely possible, but that situation is not comparable to e.g. being diagnosed with cancer or a serious heart disease without having medical coverage – at that point, your options are basically reduced to ‘sell your house to raise money and live in your car’ or ‘die’. No one in a modern civilised society should have to face that.

          1. Anyone in this country can get treatment for cancer if they want it. There are plenty of options for those without insurance who find themselves in that situation.

            1. ….

              Wow. Ignorant and insulting.

              1. It’s not my job to educate you on the basics of a debate into which you’re injecting yourself. Google “health care bankruptcies” and start reading.

                1. I’m not talking about bankruptcy. I’m talking about staying alive. I’m very, very familiar with how to get healthcare without insurance.

                  As for bankruptcy, I find that most people who end up there have a root cause of their own making.

                  1. Tis the season for social darwinism!

                    And health care without insurance? Through a mechanism other than “selling your house to pay for it”?

                    1. I thought liberals were all about personal responsibility AMes? Oh wait – no – that’s personal freedoms. Responsibility was mitigated by the Left long ago…

                      You can get free or subsidized coverage in many, many places. People do it in this country every day.

                    2. You’re in Jonah Goldberg territory again. Doesn’t deserve a response.

                      And free clinics don’t work for terminal cancer.

                    3. If you have terminal cancer and no insurance social security and medicaid kick in.

                    4. Not if you’re under 65, son.

                    5. No Medicaid unless you’re 65?

                      Comment FAIL. And with that my holiday is complete. Merry Christmas Ames.

                    6. CRAP. I meant Medicare.

                      Medicaid is an imperfect program, and won’t cover all the people in this situation.

                    7. No mulligans my friend.

                    8. If only the world worked that way. But it does not :)

  14. “When we talk about pre-existing conditions, we talk about people who already have insurance…”

    Ummmm….no we aren’t.

    1. My comment sequence in this thread is like super broken. But I suppose we’re both right. One problem is you can’t get a plan to cover a pre-existing condition; another is your current plan tries to exclude your care based on what they claim is pre-existing. Both painful.

      1. I fully support forcing insurance companies to cover all health insurance needs of their plan holders provided there was no falsifying of their application (ex. smokers should admit they are smokers). That’s where even conservatives should support industry regulation.

        When you start talking about forcing them to accept new policy holders with pre-existing conditions that guarantee a net loss for the insurer…that’s where I have a major problem. That is the point where some some sort of compromise system has to be reached. If someone has carpal tunnel syndrome and they get themselves fired for unrelated reasons…I lose sympathy. If a man’s wife has cancer and he is laid off, losing his coverage…of course the right thing to do is to help them.

  15. That’s a poor analogy. The proper way to look at is, this restaurant has a contract with you, wherein they pledge to give you a sandwich when you need one, provided you pay them a stipulated sum of money once a month. One day, you’re REALLY HUNGRY — and the restaurant says no. Some exceptions apply!

    But seriously. When we talk about pre-existing conditions, we talk about people who already have insurance, but whose companies deny them care based on reasons real or manufactured.

    You really don’t understand this debate, do you…

  16. The problem is much more serious than that. If you have a plan and lose it because of a lost job, the pre-existing condition barrier will rebuild and bar you from purchasing a future plan. Gaps in coverage kill all future coverage. That’s unconscionable. Eliminate that loophole and your concerns will fade, because people buy care at the beginning of life, and gaps won’t matter.

    1. This is of course the most logical argument for detaching healthcare from employment – which is a move a lot of conservatives support.

      1. Jesus. What is wrong with thread order here?

        And that’s not really quite so — from all I can see, conservatives don’t really support a damn thing. But they oppose a lot.

        1. Really? Tell me what the conservative position is on Sec 2251 of the HRC bill.

          Conservatives oppose some of the major provisions of the bill. The problem is that the good stuff is at the mercy of the bad. Things like federal abortion funding. So the whole bill takes a hit.

          1. There’s no § 2251…

            And you’re completely missing the boat on the meaning of the abortion language.

            1. SEC. 2251. CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC COMPETENCY
              4 TRAINING FOR HEALTH CARE PROFES5
              SIONALS.

              SEC. 2252. INNOVATIONS IN INTERDISCIPLINARY CARE
              16 TRAINING.

              Man – comment FAIL again. Time for a vacation Ames.

              The abortion language creates federal funding of abortion. It’s pretty straight-forward.

            2. Ain’t that the truth.

              But really, link? The version I read skipped from S.2200ish to S.3000. But we may be looking at different sectional schemes. Do you mean the section of the statute, or the section amended by the statute?

              Really, just link.

              1. I assumed we were talking about the bill that just passed the Senate this morning. If we are, you got the wrong bill…

                http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h3590/text

                1. Oops – I posted the house bill. Those provisions have been changed to Sec 5307 & 5403(b) in the Senate bill.

                  So…linguistic training and interdisciplinary training…where does the GOP stand on those two issues? And be honest – no assumptions, speculations or generalizations. I want to hear our stated opinions on those two specific issues.

                2. I can’t say I know. But that’s the point, isn’t it? The GOP hasn’t taken a stand on any issue like this throughout the course of the health care debate. It’s just been “no socialism,” or, more dishonestly, “no spending.”

                  1. But isn’t the point also that most of the bill hasn’t been debated? Republicans have opposed the public option, the abortion funding and a couple of other major components that directly conflict with conservative values. As a result, the left has characterized their opposition as all no all the time and that’s not accurate. What IS accurate is that the GOP has opposed some parts of the bill that the Left really wants and to them that is akin to rejecting the bill entirely because they didn’t want to take those things out.

                  2. At the point that even Politico acknowledges that the Republicans didn’t really have anything to add to health care, I think I win this debate.

                    1. But of course you must also admit that most of the bill hasn’t even been discussed in public by either side. So again, it seems that the GOP must have been on-board with 90% or more of the bill.

                    2. Pointless sophistry with no basis in reality. Democrats discussed the point of the bill, its mechanisms for achieving it, and were then forced to debate whether it would result in Sarah Palin’s prop child being killed. Good job.

                    3. Or the infamous “flow chart” propaganda piece of July. very helpful for the “discussion” indeed.

  17. Unusual candor. And concerning, considering that you haven’t realized until now that your party would freeze out even the minimal reform you now advocate. We haven’t been able to have a discussion like this, of course, because the GOP has never engaged at a more than superficial level.

    As to forcing companies to take people with pre-existing conditions, the real cases of “force” are minimal. After we move to a system that requires care from the start of life, the only pre existing conditions that can possibly arise are those problems arising at birth, care for which it would be unconscionable to deny. The brief period of switchover may result in some cases of force and loss of marginal profit, but I just don’t care. Businesses conducted in the public’s interest routinely lose marginal profits. It’s not new.

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