13 November 2007

Universal health care: response to Romney/Mankiw

In mortal combat with the enemy, their attacks were coming from all sides – their motivation was at least as strong as mine, their alliance was well-formed, and I was alone in the wilderness...

hen I woke up...

ealizing they were only technicolor-dreams, night-on-the-moonlit-porch-like dreams; mere memories of correspondents from the chat-site Topix, and our week's combat concerned a long website debate, mostly in the United States about...

niversal Health Care.

ome of the debaters are (apparently) of the Bush-fox-Rush-Daily mold, but one Studious conservative challenged ZEN Central to provide responses that required massive work...

Are you for or against 'Good Health'?

Are they for 'Claims Denial-systems', are they FOR depriving citizens of care?? Have they disclosed personal or professional interests, such as being a stock-broker specializing in the buy-n-sell of Hospital stock properties?

(ZENmud has no financial ties (other than a Jerry Garcia tie collection) to the healthcare industry; and minimal ties to the US Government at present)

I also wonder, how many US conservatives have taken the time to seek information from the English Conservatives, or the European 'Liberals' (STOP: in most world politics, being 'Liberal' means Free-Market supporters, aka US Conservatives; 'Liberal' is opposite 'Statist' or 'Socialist' over here), regarding Healthcare delivery... at ZENmud productions, we think that they really don't want to see the World-Conservative view as to healthcare.

Learning is fun, and another source of learning comes from mastering the 'Spin' that imbibes certain individuals to compare a Universal Health Care system to impending Stalinism, to foist off the worst of scenarios!

You wouldn't believe it, when reading what I've been reading. One rather “Cheeky Conservative” suggested that if America followed the 'ZENway', he'd have to pay for a woman in Cincinnati to have her cancer operation.

And I didn't think in time of this perfect response (ZENthought is a slow process), but since he had the gall to tell me my response was irrelevant, after I merely pointed out that his panic-in-the-face-of-communism's impending invasion, due to a woman's cancer operation being put onto the public burden, which was his BS analogy without basis in fact, I picked up speed a little bit.

Again, this is a ZEN-gift to Liberal argument of one of the REAL issues of the 2008 election: the exploding costs of GOOD or BETTER HEALTH, and the growing number of citizens without Health Insurance (Through all Government or Private Sector systems)!

t's about being the man or woman you are; about your right to the pursuit of Happiness, your faith in the mission of Congress (de jure, not de facto) to 'provide for the general Welfare', your expectations of your President to guide the nation forward, as gently, with determination, as does the Captain who guides his or her ocean liner across the vast charted sea–lanes for the first time, after promotion from lieutenant.

When your family: a sister, a husband, a mother, a son, receive the fated news of rejection by a health insurance provider, that the anticipated relief is not valid under the definitions of the script

He or she may shout or scream at you:

I don't care about them. I got what I earned, and I don't want to pay for anyone else's lack of foresight. Why should I pay for some woman's operation in Cincinnati???

Try this response:

Okay, look there are some 250 million people that have some form of private or public insurance coverage. There are 47 million people without. If we had a Unicare system, all 297 million people would be covered. So * You * wouldn't be paying for 'Her' operation, everyone would.

You'd be paying (figure of speech) 1/297,000,000th of the costs (Actually, if we go to 'Head of the Household' or 'shared household' statistics, it would perhaps be a ratio of 1/115,000,000th or so: but if it was a $100,000 situation, each person's contribution to that woman's BETTER HEALTH, would be less than 1 penny!

If you ever handed a begger a dime, you gave them 10x the need of a shared costs operation... And if you ever walked down the streets in Cincinnati, and saw a woman whose appearance suggested she'd had chemo-therapy session in her post-op convalescence, you could actually smile and say 'I did my share...'!”

Now I'd like some Cheeky Conservative's authentic response as to what I'm not thinking about, where we have to take this to a more profound level. Obviously if we add 297 million people's problems to our grateful friend from Cincinnati, we add infinitesimal, incremental costs to the situation.

Why don't Capitalist Conservatives ever think of 'Economies of Scale' when they're dissing Unicare?

ow many conflicting 'Codes' and 'Forms' are hospitals, clinics, Doctors and Dentists required to fill out, thanks to the thousands of private insurance and Medicaid-Medicare forms? How about the hypothetical Unicare system having Five Forms: 1) out-patient, 2) in-patient, 3) dentist, 4) pharmacy and 5) therapy?

ne set of therapeutic codes for computer data entry? (if that doesn't already exist?)

ut there's more; the Conservatives are gasping politically, thanks again to their incessant-but-waining support of the Bush-fox-Rush theory of American supremacy.

The charts to the right were developed at ZENmud productions HQ-CH, and we are thankful to the US Census Bureau, for their report and statistics that made this possible.
(Citation follows, at bottom of post)

hile we know that the MSM is going to continue dissing Hillary, Obama and Edwards, as we watched them screwing Al Gore, Howard Dean, and John Kerry, the pathetic status of Republican Politix is actually revealing that which I've been saying for two years now:

Who could possibly be capable of cleaning up the remnants of the Bush-debacle-decade of total American decay and decadence?”

I'd frankly rather have a Republican clean up a Republican's mess, because I believe in Republican's theory of Government: I just can't find one that has survived Bush-ism; the true Conservatives are as underground now as are the true Liberals.

Fred Thompson? You won't read much here about him because I think his cause (and campaign) is retiring...

Rudi Guilliani? Is there a reason I don't see why he actually has momentum, that isn't veering his limo towards Ground Zero: source of all his strength, bad taste and illegitimate relationships with women, Bernie and who-we-haven't-heard-about yet...

Mitt Romney?

Teflon Republicans always look nicest... and now back to Health Care.

There was an article in the New York Times, which came to the IHT a day later, attributed to Harvard Economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw: “Beyond those health care numbers”. The good professor is an 'advisor to the Romney campaign'.

Mankiw wants us to remember, as ZEN Central also preaches, to beware of statistics; I'm certainly hoping former Mayor Guilliani is paying attention, after his recent faux-pas concerning the English National Health System.

His points are paraphrased here: 'beware of Canadian longevity and infant mortality statistics, both categories of which are stronger in the Great White North' (“Canada”); 'some 47 million Americans do not have health insurance' (“No Insurance”); 'health costs are eating up an ever-increasing share of American's incomes' (“Runaway H-costs”).

ZENmud Central is going to try and address the pertinence or impertinence of these three items:

Mankiw stokes the research provided by fellow economists Judy and Dave O'Neill from Baruch College, who point to gun-homicides and automobile violence as impacting longevity statistics; he points out that American men in their 20's have a mortality rate 50% higher than their Canadian neighbors. His flip summary on those differences is that this may point out something about US “traffic laws and gun control, but they teach nothing about the U.S. system of health care.”

Wisely or otherwise, Mankiw doesn't mention how to factor in the desperation of US citizens, especially those at the lower-earning parts of the economic ladder, whose situations may lead to guns, robbery and murder, thus creating victims. Nor did he mention what research the O'Neill's produced, as to what actual percentages these socially-violent 'impacts' produced on the final numbers.

He then throws in the American trend towards obesity, and relates that to another research study, which congratulates the American economy's ability to “supply high-calorie foods inexpensively.” Sadly he has no comment on the American economy's continuing inability to induce low-caloric-output lifestyles (Editor's note: this article is being written on a laptop, perched on the knees of ZENmud himself, who's watching TV on a rainy Sunday afternoon).

Calories (IN) > caloric burn-rate (OUT) = GAINED weight (energy stored)

Calories (IN) < caloric burn-rate (OUT) = LOWER weight (energy utilized)

Nothing else to add to that perfect equation.

He attributes greater US infant mortality to a “correlated” connection between low-birth rate babies and teen-motherhood. And here, a problem is clear, as the professor suggests that Unicare won't change the “sexual mores of American youths.”

Conclusion(s)? It's sad to distort the very important debates of our time; in the very first example, he twists a valid comparison of two distinctly different systems, chipping away at the legitimacy of the issue.

By reminding us that if we didn't have violent young men who drive too fast, seducing and screwing horny young girls, getting them pregnant, then getting shot and disappearing, while leading all of the pregnant girls to become fat welfare-mamas drinking way too much inexpensive sugar-sodas; there's Universal-healthcare for you...

Professor Mankiw proves an expert in stoking the politics of fear, and turning the debate away from an Issue-Resolution paradigm, into sewing the seeds of simplistic stress, the 'gotcha' of the Republican Party modus operandi.

How nice, if we could actually debate how to unify (at any level! “Economies of scale”) the debate on an implemented, stable health system where young woman could actually get advice on Birth Control without facing an armed-and-dangerous Pro–life activist with personal and often deranged issues against contraception... (I too can raise your fear levels, n'est-ce pas?)

What, do YOU think? Never forget, thinking in its purest form can lead to a better democracy... onward!

No insurance:
Here's the thing, Bing: there are many reasons for not 'having' (Ahem: in the US, we should strictly say 'Acquiring', 'Purchasing' or 'Being granted') health insurance. Let's look at three items (two of which cost ZENmud productions nearly a whole weekend):

First, a pertinent quote by the authors of the US Government report:
Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006

Compared with other national surveys, the CPS ASEC’s estimate of the number of people without health insurance more closely approximates the number of people who were uninsured at a specific point in time during the year than the number of people uninsured for the entire year. (p. 18)

See, that brings out one of the hidden horrors of the health-for-profit system (insurance being only one component of the medical-pharmaceutical-hospital-insurance-lawyers “food chain”): in the more-transient, lower and middle economic strata, people may become UN-healthy, by reason of having to stay planted in the only job where they can maintain their health insurance.

Clearly, once anyone has 'used' their insurance to solve their own, their partner or their family's 'crisis', they attain the anti-Gold-ring: 'Preexisting Condition(s)'...if they don't lose a job, which this author once experienced after an expensive, work-related ski injury (trying to meet hotel clients), they face the burden of knowing that a change in career would present a new insurer with those two dreaded words...

And that is the key: ZENmud productions has sought without luck, an answer to the key question: what percent of non-insured Americans is due to poverty, or due to preexisting conditions? As well, a certain large percentage is due to people who are not eligible, as they are in the country illegitimately. Reconciling these problems (Republicans seem not to mind that illegal aliens are working in the country, being paid by farmers, agri-business or other bosses, that are as much the problem as the workers that perform labor) require concerted effort between two political parties.

Why they waste your life and mine to argue and play the blame-game is unconscionable. Remember one important item: a healthy workforce is more productive; a sick workforce doesn't. A healthy workforce spends money on the pursuit of Happiness; a sick workforce doesn't. A healthy workforce stimulates the economy properly: from the bottom UP. A sick workforce acts like a jake-brake on the economy: money loses velocity when workers become ill.

Runaway Health Costs:
Why Professor Mankiw has decided to offer Mitt Romney's 'Healthcare Program' in such a safe, 'Donor-friendly' (hint: that's Campaign finance, not transplant donors) fashion, is not our concern.

Pointing out that yet another Republican is supporting the God-given (?) right to make a profit at every turn of the screws that end up destroying the American citizen, voter, consumer and breadwinner, Mankiw makes a point that only 'better equipped health providers' are providing miracles and thus the cost has gone up from the 1946 level of five per cent of income to 16 per cent.

Professor, how sad it is that all those living Europeans, including the Germans, most of whose insurance will pay for one week a year at the therapeutic spa of their choice, have been able to contain costs to under 7-9%. How?

NON-profit healthcare delivery.

And as an economist, wouldn't your latent macro-economics focus salivate, when thinking what American's could do without crippling premiums, 'preexisting conditions', happy healthy children and partners, while spending that extra unnecessary 5 to 9 percent of GDP on Barneys, barns or Barns&Noble?

The professor wrote: “Fortunately, incomes are growing, and it makes sense to spend this growing prosperity on better health.”

Professor, you're a bit behind the ball I believe, from the source we both should be citing:

Household income increased 0.7 percent, from $47,845 to $48,201 (Figure 1 and Table 1).

Real median household income of White households rose 1.1 percent between 2005 and 2006 (Table 1) — the first real increase in annual household income for this group since 1999.”

Mankiw doesn't want you to look at Figure 1: any schoolboy or girl can see that Mankiw's distortion is frightening, especially in his words.

FYI: Real Median Household income (“RMHI”) PEAKED in 1998–1999, under impeached Democratic President Bill Clinton (a ridiculous Republican character-assassination, quasi-juvenile retaliation for a previous generation's great Criminal President).

RMHI DROPPED from 2000 to 2006, especially starting in December 2000, when the Supreme Court-annointed President announced that the economy was in a recession. Precipitously, apparently, it became a six year slide downhill for a great many Americans. And professor Mankiw glosses up the true increase for that median household: the median increase was $356/year. And let's not forget that median figures belie the truth: it indicates NO great increase for most of the people, offset by HUGE increases from the upper echelons.

Professor Mankiw thus can only be addressing the Republican base:

Everyone knows that the upper twenty per cent were lucky enough to see their incomes rise under the Bush 'No Class Warfare' tax cuts for the rich, a fact which makes the 'increase' observed by the professor evaporate.

So is Mitt Romney's man truly saying: “you may as well pay all of the extra three hundred bones you earned in 2006 (not that most did) to the Healthcare industry” (no doubt pleasing Mr Romney's for-profit healthcare industry campaign supporters)?

Folks that are struggling to maintain their homes in light of the sub–prime house-financing market's crisis. They are looking to elected officials for a resolution to the undesired reform of a system that deprives one-sixth of its citizens and residents the benefits of regular checkups that are the first line of defense to the expensive concept of catastrophic incident payments.

The US health-for-profit industry growth pattern is based on various models that maintain our increasingly depressive obsessions with life-sustaining/extending procedures, in whatever state of physical repair or disrepair, through increasingly expensive medical state of the art. For every increasing percentage point of European income that has been devoted to healthcare in the last 50 years, our US system has doubled that growth rate in percentage of income drained into basic health.

What economics professor Mankiw has either blatantly or innocently ignored, is the point that consumers and manufacturing are now seeing the increasing price of petroleum products, whose components become plastics, fertilizers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, fuels, films and the clothes you where skiing...

All the King's Horses, and All the King's Men, couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again...

If we find no cure for increasingly scarce oil and gas, no replacement magic fuel that lubricates the entire world economy, we still will have the greater number of decent people, whose real income has statistically stagnated since Bush struck Supreme Court gold, struggling to rein in, with no evident solution offered by Congress, the costs of healthcare. And soon, the American economy will tumble, as consumers turn off their cars to pay for “Catherine's operation”.

So Romney's advisor, this economics professor, wants people to flock to Mitt, to appreciate their zero income growth in the era of Bush the Lesser. Zero real growth thanks to increased government deficits, decreased US dollar value in foreign exchange, increased government debt and increased healthcare costs.

Funny. ("Funny."?? Not to the weary and weeping)

Everything that Bush and his misAdministration achieved, and the sad Congresses that supported him (2002-2006, and still today), is the opposite of what America needs from its next (truly-elected?) President. It is the opposite of what a VAST majority of Americans want; but it is exactly what America's 'Ruling Class' wants...

America needs a President that leads a sustained effort towards reducing American forces being over-exposed to multi-year, hostility-zone tours.

America needs a President that addresses all spiraling costs: Healthcare delivery, fuel consumption, global warming.

And Mitt Romney's economic advice on Health Care, is 'Stay the course'. Maybe Mitt will be lucky enough to be President when healthcare costs pass the cap of 20 per cent of median household income.

ZEN Central can't predict whether other candidates will actually have the radical healthcare plan that functions; no more than it can predict what event at either end of the political-military command structure will bring one of America's two armies back home.

ZEN Central analysis continues supporting the paradigm that $75/barrel is the minimum future floor-price for oil, if ever it drops below the 90 dollar mark.

Universal healthcare requires an efficient funding mechanism, an efficient and secure e-payment transmission mechanism, sustained financial and medical oversight, regional flexibility, and sustained efforts towards manipulating the markets to affected by a industry-shaking transformation.

Remember, insurance companies gave no one a choice, when pre-existing conditions became grounds for inhuman treatment of a client who's funds had produced their bottom lines;

Contemplate, pharmaceutical companies gave no one a choice, when pre-existing known side effects were suppressed in peer-reviewed research literature, allowing drugs to become block-buster killers, such as the famous Merck product Vioxx, now (perhaps) the greatest nightmare in US pharmaceutical history.

Assure yourself, that hospitals gave no one a chance, every time 'medical error' aggravates or terminates a patient's hospital stay, through malpractice or benign ignorance.

Cogitate, as to why any politician is supporting out-of-control growth of this essential industry, a uniquely non-outsource-able industry (similar to education),
whose commercial models combine super-expensive diagnostic equipment with catastrophic care, under lifetime ceilings that could be exhausted with one curable-but-durable illness or condition. No politician has created a plan to attack the lack of financial incentives for those lower income citizens or resident aliens to pass regular checkups.

And while sitting in the next automobile traffic jam, especially those which are six to twelve lanes wide, those which move as fast as molasses, are going to have to stifle their conscious minds, which offer this mantra: “My god, how can we survive this shit?”...

Courage! Unicare is coming to town...

ç*””*”*”*ç*””* ZENmud *””*ç*”*”*””*ç

Government document citation:
DeNavas-Walt, Carmen, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica Smith, U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-233, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2007.

No comments: