View Poll Results: Do you think universal healthcare will pass in the next 4-8 years?

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  • Yes, it's time for universal healthcare

    6 66.67%
  • No, universal healthcare legislation is DOA

    3 33.33%
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Thread: Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    Question Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

    From the NY Times:

    Health Care Looms as Top Campaign Issue


    WASHINGTON, July 5 — There is no better measure of the power of the health care issue than this: Sixteen months before Election Day, presidential candidates in both parties are promising to overhaul the system and cover more — if not all — of the 44.8 million people without insurance.

    Their approaches are very different, reflecting longstanding divisions between the parties on the role of government versus the private market in addressing the affordability and availability of health insurance. Republicans, by and large, promise to expand coverage by using a variety of tax incentives to empower consumers to buy it themselves, from private insurers. Conservatives warn, repeatedly, of Democrats edging toward the slippery slope of “government-controlled health insurance,” as former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York puts it, and tout the innovation and choice offered by private insurers.

    The major Democratic candidates propose strengthening the private employer-based system, through which most working families get their coverage. But many Democrats also see a strong role for government, including — in some plans — new requirements that individuals obtain insurance and that employers provide it, along with substantial new spending to subsidize coverage for people who cannot afford it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/05/us...hp&oref=slogin

    ademption: I don't think it should be surprising to anyone that these candidates are talking about healthcare in this political cycle. For one thing, a lot of Americans with health insurance are becoming concerned about the rapidly increasing insurance premiums. As the NY Times article points out, businesses now want politicians to relieve them of some of the burden of providing healthcare insurance to their employees. Given that most of the industrialized world has universal healthcare where businesses are off the hook for paying for healthcare for their employees, American businesses are at a disadvantage in the global economy for providing healthcare benefits to their employees.

    Regardless of which plan you support, individual insurance vs employer-based insurance regime, tax deduction vs tax credit, individual mandate vs no mandate, do you think that universal healthcare will ultimately pass in the next 5-10 years?
    "It's hard for your opponent to tell lies about you if your fist is in his mouth."

    --Bill Clinton

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Posts
    3,033

    Re: Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

    I would otherwise support universal health care, but realistically it won't happen in the near future. That's why I voted "No, universal healthcare legislation is DOA." There is too many in this country that associate universal healthcare with socialism.
    They either think we'll end up making the same mistakes Europe made, it will end up being more expensive than less, or simply be another step towards socialism.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    9,507

    Re: Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

    Yes, I do think the issue is finally at a enough of a crisis point that action can finally be taken. Why is it that we have to almost fall off of a cliff in this country before serious things are addressed?
    One would hope that we could finally reach the point in this country when basic health care is treated as a right....and not a priviledge for those who can afford it. How on earth can a country that calls itself "Christian" do any less?!?
    Ademption, where have you been? I was missing your posts. Have you seen Michael Moore's movie, "Sicko" yet? I'm hoping to see it this week-end, have heard only good things about it. I understand the stories of appalling real life situations of health care coverage in it are heart-breaking....and should be a call-to-action for Americans who care. Where's the outrage? How did things get so absolutely pathetic? And why have we let a few wealthy folks who have a vested interest in continuing our "for-profit" system of "health" care manipulate and control public policy?

  4. #4
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    Post Re: Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

    Quote Originally Posted by reines View Post
    Ademption, where have you been? I was missing your posts. Have you seen Michael Moore's movie, "Sicko" yet? I'm hoping to see it this week-end, have heard only good things about it. I understand the stories of appalling real life situations of health care coverage in it are heart-breaking....and should be a call-to-action for Americans who care. Where's the outrage? How did things get so absolutely pathetic? And why have we let a few wealthy folks who have a vested interest in continuing our "for-profit" system of "health" care manipulate and control public policy?
    I went to see it last Saturday, when it first came out. I had to go to Virgina (Arlington) to see it b/c none of the theaters around here, where I live, showed it. I thought it was pretty good. It was very sad. I cried several times throughout the movie--the beginning, middle and the end. It was much more emotionally moving than F-9/11 I thought. It's a tough movie. Make sure to bring kleenexes....

    In answer to my question above, I'm actually optimistic about our chances to receive universal healthcare in the coming years. I don't think it will be under a single payer system the way that Michael Moore advocates for in Sicko. I think it will be a multi-payer system similar to the Switzerland model that I've discussed on this board in the last several years. I think that Republicans would be willing to sign on to a healthcare proposal that provided subsidies to insurance companies if individuals and NOT employers were solely responsible for paying for healthcare insurance. I also think they would sign on if the insurance subsidy was paid for by a sales/vat tax instead of an income tax.

    I just think that big business is too unhappy with the current system and they are going to be motivated to move to a universal healthcare system that lets them off the hook for paying healthcare insurance....
    "It's hard for your opponent to tell lies about you if your fist is in his mouth."

    --Bill Clinton

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    9,507

    Re: Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

    [The following memo was written by Barclay Fitzpatrick, VP of Corporate Communications for Capital BlueCross]

    I was able to see Sicko last night in Lancaster. There were about 30 other viewers in the theatre covering all age groups. I have attached the well-written memo from one of our partners, which describes cases used in the movie, to the end of my memo. Also attached are the latest talking points from BCBSA. I will focus on impact to our brands, issues, and suggested strategies in this memo.

    The Movie
    You would have to be dead to be unaffected by Moore's movie, he is an effective storyteller. In Sicko Moore presents a collage of injustices by selecting stories, no matter how exceptional to the norm, that present the health insurance industry as a set of organizations and people dedicated to denying claims in the name of profit. Denial for treatments that are considered "experimental" is a common story, along with denial for previous conditions, and denial for application errors or omissions. Individual employees from Humana and other insurers are interviewed who claim to have actively pursued claim denial as an institutionalized goal in the name of profit.

    While Humana and Kaiser Permanente are demonized, the BlueCross and BlueShield brands appear, separately and together, visually and verbally, with such frequency that there should be no doubt that whatever visceral reaction his movie stirs will spill over onto the Blues brands in every market. Here are some examples:

    * Horizon BlueCross/BlueShield is picked out early in the film in a collage of stories citing bad treatment of members.
    * BCBSA is cited for rejecting a woman for coverage due to a high BMI - "too fat" is written across the screen over a copy of her application denial letter, which describes the BMI rejection.
    * BlueShield of California denied coverage for a diagnostic test, which the patient later received overseas. Patient sues BS of CA and medical director admits to not 'seeing' the actual denial letter, which was given an electronic signature.
    * BlueCross of California denied payment for a major surgery after they discovered a previous yeast infection, then dropped the person for coverage. This is followed by an interview with a person who claims to have been a specialist at finding inaccuracies in applications to enable post-treatment payment denials.
    * A BCBSA card is shown while the narrator describes how they (insurers) got wealthy.

    In typical Moore fashion, Government and business leaders are behind a conspiracy to keep the little guy down and dominated while getting rich. Nixon Oval Office tapes are used to show how the initial idea of a 'less care = profit' enterprise was supported by the administration and became the HMO paradigm. Legislators are presented as bought stooges for the political agendas of insurers and big Pharma. Insurers are middlemen in the Medicare Modernization Act - which is presented as a trick to charge seniors more for their prescription drugs.

    Doctors are barely touched - only in the course of discussing the AMA's work to sink early efforts in the 40's and 50's to start universal health care. He takes efforts to show that doctors live well in other countries despite the existence of universal health care. In follow-up interviews, Moore has stated that he has spoken to and knows many doctors, and "doctors aren't the problem".

    In the second half of the movie, Moore walks us through individual stories of the Canadian, British, French, and Cuban health care systems where everything is free and - he reminds us repeatedly - no one is ever denied service because they can't pay. In addition to health care, the government provides free day care, college, and someone to do your laundry. Everybody gets along and takes care of each other and life is beautiful because there is universal health care. As a viewer, you are made to feel ashamed to be an American, a capitalist, and part of a 'me' society instead of a 'we' society - and the lack of universal health care is held up in support of that condemnation.

    The Impact
    Moore's movies are intentionally intense and his objective in Sicko seems to be to revive the earlier Clinton efforts - not to achieve universal coverage with this movie, but to push the topic to the top of the agenda. He will be just as successful whether proponents mount momentum or discussion entails key stakeholders defending why it won't work.

    As a health care industry educated viewer it is easy to pick out where Moore is cultivating misperceptions to further a political agenda, but you will also recognize that 80%+ of the audience will have their perceptions substantially affected. In demonstration of its impact, an informal discussion group ensued outside the theatre after the movie. While some people recognized how one-sided the presentation was, most were incredulous and "I didn't know they (the insurers) did that!" was a common exclamation followed by a discussion of the example.

    The unfortunate reality for Capital BlueCross is that as the market leader, we will be affected both in brand and as employees as Moore's efforts in the movie and surrounding PR activity are seen by more of the community. The impact on industry savvy Sales' contacts should be minimal, while the impact on small business decision makers, our members, the community, and our employees could be significant. Ignoring its impact might be a successful strategy only if it flops, but that has not been the history of Moore's films nor the way this one appears to be headed. If popular, the movie will have a negative impact on our image in this community.

    There should be no doubt that many of our employees will be asked what they think of the movie by friends, family, and neighbors. We should anticipate that our customer service people will be asked about particular cases from the movie and if we follow similar policies. Word and phrases we have routinely used to date in policy change communications or denial letters, such as "Investigational", will be seen as affirming the film's contentions. The national BCBSA response - while coming out against the film's divisiveness and focusing on the positive work of the Blues - steers media inquiries about policies and denials back to the plans themselves.

    There are 4 key areas of misperception cultivated by the movie that we should consider in any messaging strategy:

    1. That the industry is all about HMO's. Moore cultivates this further in his interviews. The reality is that HMO's are a minority product and have been for some time.
    2. The movie attacks insurers for a profit motive, but makes no distinction among for-profit and non-profit insurers, and in its execution places the Blue Plans together with the for-profit insurers.
    3. All plans and employees - from leaders to service representatives - are painted as motivated by profit to deny claims, and only those with crisis of conscience have come forward to confess their sins.
    4. Perhaps most damaging of all, Moore completely fails to address the most significant driver of health care costs - our own lifestyle choices - and seeks to focus attention and efforts on the alluring 'quick-fix' of universal health care. It has taken a generation of poor nutrition and exercise to get obesity and related health issues - and subsequent costs - to their current levels, and Moore's movie fails to acknowledge the causal relationship or need to change (he briefly touches the subject in a non-memorable way). Contrast this to the recent Health Care Symposium held in Harrisburg - where a panel of representatives from Government, Insurance, Hospitals, Business, Physicians, and even Lawyers agreed on one thing - that there was no quick fix and that Health and Wellness was the critical area of focus.

    Suggestions
    I believe the most successful strategy will not be in attacking the movie for its weaknesses or misperceptions, but in distancing ourselves and our brand from the groups and motivations he attacks, demonstrating the good that we do and achieve (aligns with BCBSA strategy), and in articulating our disappointment that he did not address the truly relevant issue of improving our health and wellness. We will convene a team to consider other approaches and work on potential messages for media inquiries, customer service, and employees.
    www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Posts
    3,516

    Post Re: Universal Healthcare: #1 Domestic Issue

    I doubt we'll see much action towards universal health care in the US any time soon...and maybe never. It will stay as it is. One can either afford to pay insurance premiums or in the other case...be old enough or poor enough to qualify for what federal or state health care programs are available.

    Those caught in-between are just SOL. Many people are one major health care crisis away from financial ruin even if they've worked fulltime, steadily for years.

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