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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's Health Care Infomercial

Did Billy Mays reincarnate into Obama's body? Listening to Obama last night had the feel of an infomercial . . . every good thing anyone could want at an UNBELIEVABLY low price! In fact, he went further by basically telling us that if we do not support this plan that we are immoral, cold, greedy and heartless people, trying to guilt us into supporting it. And we better act fast too! THIS IS A LIMITED TIME OFFER! Well, I'm hear to tell you that Oxi-Clean and the Slap-Chop are much better deals than what Obama is selling, despite his claims that they will cost more than his plan.

Like Rep Boustany (who gave the GOP response to Obama) I'm a physician from Louisiana. I live/work/breath healthcare everyday as a vitreoretinal surgeon. I'm informed and aware of the issues at hand and I and my patients are worried to death that Obama's plan will kill our healthcare system if it is passed.

There are major portions of this bill that are great. The health-insurance "exchange" is a very good idea. Making insurance portable as people change/lose jobs is also a must. Providing more accountability/liability to insurance companies who drop people when they get sick needs to happen. I'm even for a "mandate" that all people get some type of catastrophic care coverage . . . this is only because there is already a "mandate" on ERs/Hospitals to treat the uninsured; the resulting costs are already being paid by all of us in the form of higher taxes and higher insurance premiums.

It is no coincidence that all of these laudable points above find their roots in the Mass plan that ROMNEY helped develop under the watchful care and advice of the HERITAGE FOUNDATION think tank. Sure, the Democratic legislature and current Gov in MA have expanded that plan, and it was never perfect, but IT'S A SCARY THING WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TRYING TO PASS A HEALTHCARE BILL THAT IS MORE LIBERAL AND EXPANSIVE THAN THE RECENLTY PASSED PLAN IN OUR MOST LIBERAL STATE!!

Obama's deceptions were manifold:

  • 1) The bottom line for this plan and last night's infomercial is that it doesn't pass "the smell test." How in the world is it going to offer care to 30 million more Americans, improve Medicare coverage, and force insurance compainies to enroll/keep the sickest people on their rolls AND BE CHEAPER AT THE SAME TIME?!?!?! That's what Obama is promising folks, and he's lying through his teeth. He says that the savings will be found in current Medicare/Medicaid waste/fraud, eh? Well prove to us over the next few years that you can glean this money back out of the system and put it in a trust fund to help pay for any future plan. Essentially Obama admitted that he has been derelict in his duty up until now in allowing this fraud and waste to take place . . . that he'll only go after it if we pass his plan. Can you say "SMOKE AND MIRRORS?"

  • 2) He said that Abortions won't be covered in the new plan . . . I'll believe that when I see it. That flies in the face of what he's said in the past as he's promised that "woman's health" and "reproductive" services would be central and covered in any public option plan. If he's really changing his tune on that then I'm excited . . . but none of the current bills have a "Hyde Amendment" equivalent that will be necessary to ensure that the courts don't find a "fundamental right" to abortion in the public plan after it is passed. America, don't fall for any bill that does not have a Hyde Amendment equivalent to gaurnatee no tax-payer funded abortions.

  • 3) Tort Reform: I loved it when the GOP section cheered for about a minute when he brought up this issue. NONE OF THE BILLS currently have any mention of tort reform. The direct costs of malpractice to the current system are only 2-3% of the current healthcare total . . . but the indirect costs are estimated to be upwards of 20% through the practice of "defensive medicine." As a physician I can truly attest that physicians are now trained and conditioned to "treat the chart" more than we "treat the patient." But Obama just paid "lip service" to Tort Reform by saying he was having his HHS secretary look into pilot programs for tort reform. WHAT A COP OUT! Like I'm supposed to trust a trial lawyer/politician like Obama to go against the trial lawyer lobby and make tort reform happen . . . Did you know that trial lawyers political donations go 99% to Democrats? Hmm . . . IF IT'S NOT IN THE BILL THEN IT WILL NOT HAPPEN UNDER OBAMA'S WATCH! VOW TO NOT SUPPORT ANY HEALTHCARE BILL THAT DOES NOT INCLUDE VITALLY NEEDED TORT REFORM.

  • 4) Insurance Industry Mandates: Maybe laws do need to be written that insurance companies have to do all the things he mentioned last night, but don't think for one second that your premiums won't shoot up in cost as a result. How can they 1) not deny people for pre-existing conditions, 2) not charge women more than men, 2) not drop sick people, and 4) have to offer all the preventative care imaginable and NOT have to pass those increased costs/risks/liabilities on to the rest of the consumers? It is well known that women use healthcare dollars at a higher rate than men (more likely to seek out a doctor, more likely to ask a physician for medication/tests, reproductive issues, etc . . .). I know I pay more for auto insurance because of my sex and I'm fine with that since males do drain auto insurance dollars with more risky driving behavior. Why doesn't the same common sense apply to healthcare? I actually could be talked into not allowing one's gender to alter healthcare premiums, as long as this "ignoring of gender" applied to all realms of insurance as well . And I'm still not sure how to process a company not "Denying someone with a pre-existing condition" . . . that's like calling to get fire insurance as you stand outside watching your home burn down. It's a horrible situation to be sure, but to make insurance compainies bail out irresponsible people doesn't sit well either. I've got a solution to this below!

The biggest problem with all the plans offered so far is that there is NO plan to reduce healthcare costs . . . it's all focused at expanding coverage and is abhorrently fiscally irresponsible. Also, the plan(s) completely ignores the laws of economics. With a public option available, it has been shown that many physicians will take and early retirement or switch careers. Even if none did, there would be 15% more insured people to take care of. The principles of supply and demand don't figure well with those statistics and fears of "rationing of care" and "wait lists" are well-founded.

Also, although one must admit that Obama is a good "salesman" and an effective communicator, his tone was dissappointing. He spent soooo much time attacking critics of his plan dishing out terms like "obstructionist, Un-American, liars, Fear-mongering, riled-up," and many more. This tone made it a highly partisan attack on his detractors and wasn't Presidential at all IMO.

The Fuller Fix to Healthcare:

  • 1) Set up an insurance exchange which will allow interstate selling of insurance policiesand will allow for all types of insurance plans to be offered (including catastrophic care plans, expanded health-savings accounts, etc . . . ) State legilsatures have run-amok with mandates on insurance providers requiring all policies to their citizens offer services like accupucture, sex-changes, substance abuse recovery programs, mental health coverage, fertility treatments, etc . . . These things have been pushed through for decades with pressure coming from these specific lobbies and from union/labor special interests. While most of these services may have their place in the system, to require they be covered for everyone in the state is just absurd. And we wonder why insurance premiums and healthcare costs are rising . . . geez!

  • 2) Tort reform . . . do it! See the practice patterns change as we're able to focus more on patient care and worry less about getting sued frivilously.

  • 3) Allow physicians to deduct the free healthcare they provide in their offices from their personal income tax filings. Do this and there will be much less of a strain on the ERs and the total healthcare costs will be much less in office-based care than in ER-based care. This would also allow much greater access and care to those with "pre-existing conditions" as mentioned above. Obviously, this system would have to be monitored for potential fraud and abuses on both sides (those receiving the free care and the physicians), but it would solve the problem of "the uninsured" withough creating a huge new government plan and beaurocracy.

  • 4) Allow more "co-op" options for healthcare, where people who maintain a certain level of healthy behavior can buy into plans with large communities and/or large companies at reduced costs. This would encourage more healthy behavior and would be a great long-term cost-saver.

  • 5) Don't allow any expansion of government-provided healthcare . . . and if possible, reduce it. Medicare/Medicaid are already too large and have severely hampered the insurance industry from following free-market trends. Any new "public option" is absolutely going to be a Trojan-horse as publically admitted by nearly every proponent of a single-payer system. Don't give them that chance to absolutely destroy our system that allows for the highest quality care anywhere in the world.

Romney got healthcare reform in the most liberal state without a new "public option" . . . why would the nation as a whole accept a plan that has it?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Romney Transcends Negative Opinions of GOP in Recent Poll

The MSNBC/Wall Street Journal poll released today has some interesting nuggets . . . and one key finding that his HUGELY positive for Mitt.

First, some background on the poll. It was a survey of 1,011 adults . . . not likely voters (which usually makes polls trend more liberal) and was conducted July 24-27.

Respondents Political Identification:

  • Independent 41%
  • Democrat 30%
  • Republican 22%

Political Views:

  • Conservative 37%
  • Moderate 35%
  • Liberal 23%

Would you like to see Mitt Romney as president some day, or not?

  • Would like to see 24%
  • Would not like to see 50%

Sounds Bad, right? I mean 50% don't want to see him as POTUS . . . but look by comparison at Palin's numbers:

Would you like to see Sarah Palin as president some day, or not?

  • Would like to see 21%
  • Would not like to see 67%

Mitt obviously has much less of a hill to climb right now that Palin.

But for the real important point, let's start by looking at the approval ratings for political figures AND political parties:

Approval Ratings: Positive / Negative [Net]

  • Hillary Clinton: 53% / 31% [+22%]
  • Barack Obama: 55% / 34% [+21%]
  • Mitt Romney: 28% / 20% [+8%]
  • Democratic Party: 42% / 37% [+5%]
  • Sonia Sotomayor: 31% / 27% [+4%]
  • Joe Biden: 38% / 36% [+2%]
  • Sarah Palin: 32% / 43% [-11%]
  • Republican Party: 28% / 41% [-13%]
  • Nancy Pelosi: 25% / 44% [-19%]

Now let’s look at these numbers in a different way that may take some of the sampling bias out (like if they polled too many Dems/libs . . . which it seems like). By comparing each persons approval rating adusted for their political party. I’ll take their net approval/disapproval rating and subtract their parties net rating (Dem. at +5%, GOP at -13% . . . a whopping 18% gap when most generic 2010 congressional ballots are dead even . . . which is proof this poll oversampled Dems/libs). This was not in the poll, but was my own idea to break down the data.

Difference between politician's net approval rating and the approval rating of their party:

  • Mitt +21%
  • Hillary +17%
  • Barack +16%
  • Palin +2%
  • Sotomayor -1%
  • Biden -3%
  • Pelosi -24%

In other words, Mitt’s net approval is a full 21% better than his party. This,, while even Pres Obama is only 16% better than his party, and Palin is only 2% better than her party. To have accomplished this, Mitt must be bringing in moderate Dems and indys to like him. That's a good good sign for him as a general election candidate. He's obviously got a lot of work to do to get all those "no opinion" folks to view him favorably, but Mitt's showing an ability to transcend negative opinions of the GOP. Something we desperately need in our next cadidate.

*******And one extra little tidbit and point of good news . . . Mitt' leads in yet another 2012 GOP poll (this one by Fox News):

Who would you like to see as the GOP 2012 Presidential Nominee?

Among Republicans (previous poll results, May 12-13, in parentheses):

  • Mitt Romney 22% (18%)
  • Mike Huckabee 21% (20%)
  • Sarah Palin 17% (13%)
  • Rudy Giuliani 13% (12%)
  • Newt Gingrich 9% (14%)
  • Bobby Jindal 3% (3%)
  • Jeb Bush 1% (3%)
  • Tim Pawlenty 1%
  • Too soon to say 10% (7%)

Among Independents:

  • Mitt Romney 22% (12%)
  • Rudy Giuliani 16% (19%)
  • Mike Huckabee 15% (16%)
  • Sarah Palin 13% (10%)
  • Newt Gingrich 3% (5%)
  • Bobby Jindal 3% (2%)
  • Jeb Bush 2% (2%)
  • Tim Pawlenty 2%
  • Too soon to say 8% (14%)

Among Republicans/Independents (Combined):

  • Mitt Romney 22.0%
  • Mike Huckabee 18.8%
  • Sarah Palin 15.5%
  • Rudy Giuliani 14.1%
  • Newt Gingrich 6.8%
  • Bobby Jindal 3.0%
  • Jeb Bush 1.4%
  • Tim Pawlenty 1.4%
  • Too soon to say 9.3%
And as an extra bonus . . . a funny clip from Jon Stewart's Daily Show (love him or hate him, he IS funny) titled "What are you doing to help Mitt Romney?"

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mitt Sits Pretty in Present Polling

Rasmussen has the first 2012 GOP primary poll post-Palin's press conference . . . and it's good news for Mitt!

(Chart courtesy of blog)


The crosstabs show some interesting points as well . . .

Regardless of who you would vote for, which candidate would you least like to see win the Republican nomination in 2012?
Sarah Palin 21%, Haley Barbour 21%, Newt Gingrich 15%, Tim Pawlenty 15%, Mike Huckabee 10%, Mitt Romney 9%

In the 2012 election, how likely is it that a Republican candidate will defeat Barack Obama?
Very likely 41%, Somewhat likely 34%, Not very likely 14%, Not at all likely 4%

Does Sarah Palin’s resignation help or hurt her chances of winning the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012?
Help 24%, Hurt 40%, No impact 28%
(Note the similarity of the 24% Palin get's in the total vote and the 24% here who say her resignation doesn't hurt her . . . her supporters are VERY loyal to her IMO)

Favorable / Unfavorable (Net):
Mike Huckabee 78% / 17% (+61%) , Sarah Palin 76% / 21% (+55%) , Mitt Romney 73% / 19% (+54%) , Newt Gingrich 65% / 29% (+36%) , Dick Cheney 59% / 34% (+25%) , Tim Pawlenty 38% / 33% (+5%) , Haley Barbour 34% / 37% (-3%)

Voters aged of 18-29:
Palin 34% Huckabee 31%, Romney 18%, Newt 3%, Pawlenty 3%, Barbour 0%

Voters 65 and older:
Romney 34%, Huckabee 19%, Palin 18%, Newt 16%, Pawlenty 2%, Barbour 0%

Romney 26%, Huckabee 25%, Palin 21%, Newt 14%, Pawlenty 1%, Barbour 1%

Not Married:
Palin 33%, Romney 23%, Huckabee 14%, Newt 13%, Barbour 2%, Pawlenty 1%

Evangelical Christians:
Huckabee 35%, Palin 21%, Romney 17%, Newt 15%, Pawlenty 2%, Barbour 1%

Rarely or Never attend church:
Palin 31%, Romney 28%, Huckabee 14%, Newt 13%, Barbour 2%, Pawlenty 0%

Attend church more than once a week:
Huckabee 41%, Palin 20%, Gingrich 13%, Romney 11%, Barbour 2%, Pawlenty 1%

Favorables/Unfavorables Among Evangelical Christians (Very favorable/unfavorable):
Huckabee 89/8 (56/4), Palin 84/15 (56/4), Gingrich 74/22 (40/8), Romney 67/25 (36/5), Cheney 68/26 (32/9), Pawlenty 43/32 (11/9), Barbour 36/37 (8/15)

Favorables/Unfavorables Among Likely Voters who Rarely or Never Attend Church(Very favorable/unfavorable):
Palin 75/24 (41/12), Romney 71/22 (39/10), Huckabee 71/24 (30/9), Newt 62/34 (40/16), Cheney 59/38 (32/21), Pawlenty 41/41 (10/16), Barbour 36/46 (10/22)


Romney's sitting in a very good position. He's in a statistical tie for the lead among GOP voters. However, Palin and Huckabee have done VERY poorly among independents/moderates/Democrats in other polling whereas Romney has been very strong in these groups (see recent Pew Research Poll).

This Rasmussen poll, once again, shows that Romney still has trouble with what could be called the more devout Evangelical Christians (those that go to church more than once a week, who apparently view Romney on par with Dick "Vader" Cheney while they think Huckabee walks on water). However, Romney is very strong among more mature and more educated voters . . . and this bodes well for actual GOP turnout (not to mention it being a good sign that older, wiser, and more educated people see that Romney is the best man for the job . . . hopefully that sentiment will flow into other age and educational groups over the coming months/years.