26 August 2009

Healthcare! My Notes from the Town Hall

Last night was 2 big events for us. Doug attended the Neighborhoods Restoring Safety meeting for our community. Meanwhile I was at the Americans for Prosperity Health Care Town Hall with keynote speaker John Stossel of ABC's 20/20. (And I was early, so I had a really great seat!) (Sariah was asleep with the graciousness of one of our neighbors who stayed with her.)

I can't really speak about Doug's meeting, but I took a ton of notes from the health care meeting. This is going to make for a seriously long post, but I'm going to go ahead and transcribe all my notes from the meeting onto my blog, in case you are interested, plus, my handwriting was pretty frantic, so I want to get this down before I forget.

The forum was 2 parts, first a speech by John Stossel, followed by the intro of the panel, who each got 5 min. to introduce themselves/say something. That was followed by a Q & A session. I should point out that most everyone there in attendance were not in favor of the current reform, may had read the bill. There were, I'd estimate, about 20 people in the back that were in favor of the reform, and they tried to be loud and disruptive at the beginning of John Stossel's remarks. There was esp. one woman who tried to "rebut" his every sentence, but was quickly shushed by Stossel himself, when he mentioned that that's where all the narcissists must be sitting. She later *claimed she was a physical therapist and asked a question about what was wrong with the public option. No one was totally unruly, even though there was a large police presence. I'd say the whole tone of the meeting was postitive.

(*I say claimed because there have been many stories in the news about people attending town halls claiming to be drs. or health care professionals, who actually aren't. If this woman truly is what she says, I apologize.)

Keynote Speaker
: John Stossel
Moderated by: Vicki McKenna, WIBA Madison, WISN Milwaukee
U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-2nd) (Invited, did not attend)
Scott Klug – Former Congressman (R-2nd CD)
Tim Nerenz – Executive Vice-President, Oldenburg Group, Inc. (aka small business owner)
Steve Schwartzer – President, Heartland Benefits Group (aka insurance)
Dr. Pamela Galloway – Founder, Breast Center of Central WI

John Stossel (sorry its blurry, I brought the cheap camera because it was smaller.)A graph on Gov. spending from the beginning of the country to today.Local Radio Host, Vicki McKennaThe panelBoth the health care bills from the House & Senate. (2 binders for the House & 1 for the senate... def. not "light" reading!)
(the next section is my notes, mostly written in bullet points)
John Stossel: *the current system is broken, but the reform will make it much worse
*its okay to spend $ on health care
*insurance is more expensive/fewer choices... insurance=someone else pays for you
*free market = innovation... compete to please customer
*not everyone has to be an expert in a free market society
*insurance encourages us to behave well
*one size fits all doesn't work
*capitalism works when we spend our own $
*between us & doc we don't care what things cost (because of insurance)
*if we had grocery insurance we wouldn't care how expensive things were at the grocery store
*Wisconsin makes it worse w/ mandates
*insurance a necessary evil for catastrophes/not meant to pay for everything
*high detectable insurance the best
*more Health Savings Accounts (HSA) - often employer will give $
*we'd shop around & save
*there is ALWAYS rationing when Gov. takes control (maybe not immediately)
*Economic Freedom (See Hong Kong after British... 3rd world to 1st world)

Vicki McKenna: approx 2,000 peeps in attendance (actual count was just over 1700)
*from listener "Do you feel the ground move beneath your feet? Don't just stand & watch the earthquake."

Scott Klug: "You can fix the health care system, but leave my health care alone." -teacher's union in '92

Tim Nerenz-our health care is fast, but billing for health care is slow
*TORT reform - get health care 40% lower
*eliminate 3rd payer - HSAs

Steve Schwartzer- Heath insurance is expensive because of health care costs, not the other way around
*cost shifting not a fair business practice (ex. gov pays 75% of the dollar so private ins. pays 125%)
*small business makes up this country
*mandates = bad
*mandates force private to cover what public won't
*don't throw baby out with bathwater, just tweak
*keep questioning & fight back

Dr. Pamela Galloway- Trojan horse to single payer - Gov. sets standards for drs.
*drs. should do what's best for patients
*do you want to be in control or the Gov.?

This next section is the Q & A where it got really hard to write. I abbreviate the speakers of the answers by their last initial, except for John Stossel, where I used both his initials.

Q & A

Q: pre exsisting conditions?
S: in WI & declined by 2 private goes to HERSE program (which I don't know much about.)

Q: what's this about increased birth intervals? she believes that more kids good
G: I agree

Q: What's the rational for not including themselves (senators & congressmen) in bill?
K: "protect yourself" they are exempt from lots of gov. programs & it doesn't make sense

Q: Impact of TORT reform on medical costs?
G: ESSENTIAL becuase cost of defensive medicine is large. plaintiff should pay if they lose, now they have no skin in the game because they just walk away scott free of they lose
N: 40% of lawsuits don't claim medical malpractice

Q: Obama to do away with medicare advantage?
JS: medicare doesn't police for fraud
G: medicare is captive audience can't compare medicare to private
S: still around

Q: Why are we even debating this, the bill is unconstitutional!
G: already passed a lot of laws that are unconstitutional
JS: "provide general welfare" gets away with lots of stuff

Q: How do we start to get rid of mandates?
S: contact reps & demand
K: Lobbiest are effective (tug on heartstrings.) easier to say "look what I passed!" not "this is what I stopped." change mentality. TERM LIMITS... non-career politicians

Q:How can patients make judgments when hospitals don't know what things cost? where's the transparency?
G: work together. more drs. in private practice/ not big clinics. make sure bill DOES NOT get passed!!
JS: more people need to pay for themselves
S: HSA - get skin in the game. shop around!
G: (prescriptions) ask around. big Pharma wants this bill so they can charge more
K: in bill, gov. benefits if drugs cost more "more taxes off drugs if they cost more"
N: Big Business wants public/small doesn't want

Q: 152 pg 50 illegals will receive health care - shouldn't we take care of legals 1st? Yup!
S: they're already getting care in ERs - some using ID theft. trust private to fix it more than public

Q: something about medicare again...
S: Gov. arbitrarily makes rules for medicare that don't benefit the patient
G: lots of hoops to jump for drs.

Q: Catholic hospitals & caregivers wo refuse to provide abortions?
N: not touching that! no one is impartial democrats or republicans
Vicki McKenna: short answer, they'd shut their doors

Q: 3 bills by republicans (totaling only 452 pgs) why haven't we heard more in the media?
JS: media listens more to party in power

Q: How can we rebut when people say we're not in the top 10 for mortality rate, birth rate, etc?
JS: numbers are deceiving - we shoot more, drive more and further, crash more & we're fat.
S: we lead world in cancer treatment. our life exp. is at 79 yrs = to Canada

Q: We hire them, how can we make them accountable?
K: Change 'em! THey're ideals are different... they'll listen if you invest time & money PUBLIC PRESSURE if they don't listen, they do it at own peril

Q: What is wrong w/ a public health care option?
G: Public option has tax payer $, private has to balance budget: public crowds out private
K: still cost shifting - more in public costs more to private. Nobody in the world has it right! There is no magic solution.

Q: practical ideas to fix medicare?
S: FRAUD ISSUE, we don't need an overhaul (WI HERSE program is also part private funded)
JS: Raise age, wealthy pay for themselves

Q: Where in constitution does it say an unelected gov. office makes health care decisions?
N: its not in there!

Well, there you have it. I hope you got through that. I know it might not all make sense, there were lots of things said that I didn't get written down. Like I said, I felt the meeting was a positive experience for those who attended (even though the local media stories I've read put a neg. spin on it.) I'm thankful for the opportunity to attend.


Alan and Denise said...

Sounds interesting. Hope Doug's meeting went well, too.

Andrea said...

Glad that you are so proactive about a lot of things. This is important. I don't know if you saw my rant on FB, but I couldn't believe we couldn't get coverage because of my "preexisting condition" of pregnancy. We had to apply for Medical and use tax dollars to get something we could have paid for myself if anybody would have taken me. Totally lame. Anyway, it all worked out and we ended up getting insurance through my husband's work after he did some negotiating there, but still....I found that situation totally lame!