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Bill would force “conversion” of private nursing homes, hospitals

Monday, Apr 21, 2008

* The SJ-R does a pretty nice job of summing up Rep. Mary Flowers’ bill to establish a single-payer healthcare system in Illinois over ten years

Adoption of a Canadian-style “single-payer” health-insurance system in Illinois is viewed as a long shot by key legislators, but the Health Care Availability and Access Committee voted 8-4 to send House Bill 311 on to the full House. The bill also would need Senate approval and the governor’s signature to become law.

The sponsor, Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, told the panel on Tuesday that the bill would “put the control of the health-care system back in the hands of the health-care deliverers rather than health-insurance companies.”

Democrats on the panel supported the bill, but Republicans said the plan is too radical, lacks specifics and would give more authority to a state government that already has mishandled the Medicaid program.

* The huge tax hike required to implement the program probably dooms the proposal. Buried way at the bottom, though, is this little nugget which, if it stays in the bill, pretty much guarantees a rough road in the House…

Investor ownership of hospitals, nursing homes and other “health delivery facilities” would be illegal. Those facilities could be converted to non-profit status, and investor owners would be “compensated for the loss of their facilities.

* Read the bill. Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


50 Comments
  1. - Ghost - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:07 am:

    These type of programs are a bad idea. It represents the extreme in the provision of health care, Govt controlled and funded. We have a model of Govt controlled healthcare in the US already, VA hospitals. Lack of available equipment for needed tests. Poor healthy care checkups. Poor provision of needed procedure and surgical interventions. One fallacy is the idea that Govt has no motive to limit the provision of sources because it is not seeking a profit. BUT govt has a very strong motive to cut costs and avoid spending to stay within budgets. The Govt has no incentive to do well, i.e. the need to compete in the provision of services, so its provision of services, customer care etc driven by a controlling need to reduce costs, without fear of competition, is the worst possible scenerio for health care.

    Look at Canada, huge waiting lists for basic services like X-ray, CAT Scans, MRI’s. The best and the brightest are disuaded from becoming doctors because they can do better in other fields. They have little money spent on deveolping new technology or pharmaceuticals, and in fact rely on the US for their medical technology.

    I am not sure why we start health care with the premise that profit is bad. Under this theory the Govt should take over constrution projects, after all the people who build roads make profit. WHy think of all the money we could save if the Govy did everything, cutting out the existance of profit in the provision of food, health care, construction services, etc. Heck it has worked great for China and Russia….oh wait, they are moving towards models that provide services with profit as an incentive. Apparently Govt run programs did not work so well efficeincy wise.

    What we really need is a hybrid system with sme Govt oversight and private Insurance companies. We also need to stop trying to fund health care by forcing those who provide the care to take x amount of dollars for the service. Notice that we do not require a bridges to be bult but limit the amount of money that can be spent for the steel, concrete etc.

    We need s system were private inurance companies bid to provide health insurance to those who do not have access through their employer by region; and then we select the lowest RESPONSIBLE bidder (like the health care provided to state employees). We should set a sliding scale for payment by the person recieveing the coverage based on ability to pay, place an extra tax on business that elect not to provide coverage, and take the rest from general revenue.

    Our priorites on healthcare are way backwards. Instead of demanding minimium wage employees, I want a system which encoruages the best and the brightest to enter the field of medicine. Notice nobody demands that by law income, actors income, income from writing books (HRC made 20mil? on a book) etc to be limited. So we think a docotor should have their income hobbleded, after all, they only have at elast 11 years of post high school education, so that brain surgery is done by those folks unable to get better paying jobs. But we have no problem letting an athlete earn 40 million a year, a politician millions for a single book? where are our priorities! Become an athelte or a book writer, but dont go into medicine, no one should be allwoed to make money caring for the sick.


  2. - Levois - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:14 am:

    Why don’t politicians instead of imposing a system on everybody just simply create a system that helps the 1.7 million uninsured? That’s the problem solve that one.


  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:15 am:

    What is Flowers’ next great idea? Demanding that restaurants feed people regardless of an ability to pay since everyone needs to eat? Demanding that everyone else pay for hungry patrons?

    She is as delusional as other naive citizens who believe in the ’something for nothing’ approach to life. You think health care is expensive now? Wait until government sends you the bill for ‘universal health care’!


  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:15 am:

    Levois, that’s not the entire problem. There are lots of underinsured, unvcovered preexisting conditions, people who don’t want to switch jobs because of insurance, and those on the brink of losing their insurance.


  5. - Anon - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:44 am:

    Illinois government in charge of state budget. How’s that working out? Illinois government in charge of hospital board. How’s that working out? Illinois government in charge paying out Medicaid. How’s that working out?


  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:46 am:

    Anon, while in no way advocating for this “plan,” I would suggest that the track record of insurance companies on insuring people is perhaps worse than state government has been on at least some of those things you mentioned.

    Just sayin’.


  7. - Slice & Dice - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    My 2 cents -
    Cost is the thing.
    The health insurance benefit got its start back in the 1940s when the Gov. froze wages. Employers wanted to keep good workers so the idea of providing a benefit in place of frozen wages took hold. One of these benefits was health insurance. It became standard in many large businesses, and part of many union contracts. It found its way into businesses of all sizes.

    It became so common that employees became accustomed to having it and have become detached from the actual cost. The medical community responded to demand from consumers with more and greater medicine, passing on the costs to insurance Insurance companies passed along increases costs to employers in hihger premiums. All the while, consumers went on their merry way not knowing of feeling the true costs.

    Well, the piper has played it out and wants to be paid. Employers cannot afford anymore (Auto-makers say the single highest cost of production is health care for workers). So now they are passing more on to employees or, as in the case of cash strapped small businesses, dropping coverage for themselves and employees. Some are using HSAs linked to high-deductible policies.

    Measures such as HSAs and HRAs put the consumer back in the position of being responsible for purchasing healthcare. The medical community is so way behind that it generally refuses to talk or publish prices for services. They are conditioned by the insurance, HMO and medicare/medicaid to pass costs all around so they are coy about prices. The consumer is forced to pry information from hospitals and docs and other providers so that they can make some kind of informed decision.

    It would help everyone if the medical community was more transparent about costs. Insurance companies on the other hand………well they come across as parasites, right or wrong.

    Government run healthcare is not a sensible option as “Ghost” says above. Continued pressure on medical and insurance to come clean and more options for consumers to fully participate and take responsibility in their healthcare has to be part of a solution.


  8. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 11:04 am:

    There is nothing wrong with discussions about how to solve the problems in providing health care. However, it does not make sense to do this discussion in dueling bills in the legislature.

    As far as the specifics of this bill, it seems like another rehash of the failed proposals from the past without anything unique to remove prior objections.

    We have to look to successful solutions, rather than convenient ones. We do not want to make things worse. Emulating Canada’s system is not desirable in my estimation. Remember that once there is a universal health plan out there, the large corporations will dump their plans in a heartbeat. The results will not be pretty.

    One way government is making the problem worse is the new practice of billing for ambulance services. This is a hidden taxI which I would argue is as regressive as it gets. I recently saw a 900.00 bill for a 10 mile ride to the nearest hospital. (If this service was performed by a private operation, costs would be 30-40% lower.) Government is not capable of doing anything well without an exorbitant cost structure.

    Look at education. Private schools provide at least an equivalent education to public schools. Their budgets are a fraction of the public schools. Do we want to apply this kind of thinking to health care issues?


  9. - Anon - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 11:10 am:

    I’m just saying that the more government means more red tape and more red tape means more funds and more funds means more taxes and more taxes means less money in each citizens’ pocket thus making it harder for the people to take care of themselves. I believe that means socialism comes nearer.


  10. - Southern Right - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 11:48 am:

    A single-payor system only works on a national basis. Ma forces you to pay approx $390 a month per person. This bill would bring in every sick unisured person in the country to Illinois. I’m not sure that’s the ultimate goal.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 12:20 pm:

    I wonder if this is just a part of the House/Blago fight. If he tries to smack legislators on the FamilyCare/JCAR fight, they can vote for this and challenge him to get on board a broader plan


  12. - RMW Stanford - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 12:49 pm:

    Our current system of insurance and health care clearly has a number of problems but that being said the government run system of all other countries also have their fair share of problem. So instead of copying flawed system from other countries, we should be working on finding new solutions to our problems and building a better system.


  13. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 2:08 pm:

    As the co-author of this bill and a health policy researcher, I feel compelled to respond to some mistakes in the comments:

    1. In the OP, there is no new huge “tax hike” required to fund the plan. In fact, the big difference is that while the Governor’s plan required a big new tax hike, single-payer does require any new spending at all. Removing insurance industry bloat and waste would save IL about $13 billion per year (the GAO, CBO, Harvard Researchers, and the consulting firm hired by the state all agree savings would be enough), enough to cover all the uninsured and provide for everyone WITHOUT any extra spending.

    2. VA care is consistently shown to be of higher quality and lower cost than in the for-profit sector. I’m not sure where this information is coming from.

    3. Waits for care in Canada are actually quite short. Statistics Canada (the counterpart to the US Census), scientifically measures them every year. Last year the median was 4 weeks for surgery and 3 weeks for diagnostic tests, about on par with private insurance here, and of course if you’re uninsured, you wait forever.

    4. HSAs have been repeatedly shown to raise costs (because they add huge new layers of administrative bloat and bureaucracy while discouraging primary and preventive care until an expensive problem comes up) and lower care quality.

    I’m happy to answer any questions about the bill or single-payer:
    n-skala@law.northwestern.edu


  14. - It's 5 O'clock somewhere - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 2:59 pm:

    Does this include all state employees? If so will it require a change in the constitution since employee benefits are protected by the constitution?


  15. - Billb - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 3:05 pm:

    Long wait times turn out to be one of the standard conservative untruths about the Canadian health care system. Always asserted but unsupported by American commentators who belivee that “medicine is a business”, Always denied by Canadian citizens. (But they’re not Americans so what do they know?)

    What I do know is that millions American including me have waited hours and hours for medical care in emergency rooms, in offices of specialists, and at home while the insurance company decided whether or not it would cover a procedure. People are getting wise to the lies.


  16. - Bill Oreilly - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 3:05 pm:

    I agree with Ghost.

    The government was was making it really uncomfortable for veterans Walter Reed. When the the private insurance companies took over Walter Reed they fixed things right. Everyone knows veterans like sleeping under bridges. The private insurance companies came in, they removed away all the unnecessary luxuries and made the veterans feel right at home.

    When Blue Cross raises my bills, I get down my knees thank God for the privilege of paying a private company more money. But when the government raises my taxes, I want to spit blood!!! God put us here on earth to pay the people he has blessed as “rich”, not the government.


  17. - reflector - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 3:08 pm:

    I am a veteran that uses the VA for part of my care.It normally takes 2 months to see my primary care Doctor and another 2 months to get specialty care.I have not tried the emergency room yet.


  18. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 3:17 pm:

    1. The plan will include all state employees. I do not understand the question though, so far as I know the Illinois Constitution says only that membership in a benefits program is an enforceable contractual relationship and cannot be diminished, which this will not. I don’t see how amendment is required.

    2. Walter Reed was not being run as a public hospital, the Bush administration had subcontracted out operations of the hospital to a subsidiary of Haliburton. It was effectively being run as a for-profit hospital, with the predictable bad results.

    3. I am not sure what Priority Level the veteran who contributed is. People who follow the VA know that if you’re a low priority level (say 7 or 8), you are lucky if you can get care at a VA hospital at all. This is not a function of the VA being a poor care system, it is a function of the administration having simply closed the rolls to veterans in the wake of a huge surge in their numbers following the war (Bush has entirely closed access to Priority 8 veterans, I believe). Anonymous anecdotes notwithstanding, all empirical evidence shows that the VA provides higher-quality, more coordinated, superior care resulting in better outcomes at lower costs than the private sector. (That, of course, doesn’t make any system perfect).


  19. - Princeville - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 3:35 pm:

    Nicholas Skala–do you have stats for how quickly severe acute flare-ups and emergency situations would be handled, and how would ’sereve’ be judged? Also, items ‘approved’ as medically necessary–the procedure and idea of a timeline for approval.


  20. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 3:44 pm:

    I’m not 100% certain I understand the question. Emergencies would be handled immediately, as they are everywhere in the world (and presumably faster, because in Illinois we’re spending twice what other nations do per capita). As far as approval of medically necessary procedures, Medicare (and, in a less wholesome way, insurance companies) are already making these decisions for you, I don’t see why the process would be tremendously different from the one Medicare already uses. A timeline is going to vary significantly from drug to procedure to technology based on the medical evidence available, comparativeness to existing treatments, potential dangers, etc. You just can’t make a blanket statement about it.


  21. - Cal Skinner - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 4:06 pm:

    If the most conservative Republican I ever met, State Rep. Weber Borchers (R-Decatur) were still alive, Mary would have an interesting ally.

    At least on the nursing home part. Webber used to send one of his assistants out to inspect nursing homes. She had about a 10-point check list. Two items were “Could the patient reach water from the bed?” and “Was there a smell of urine?”

    If the nursing home wouldn’t let her in, she told Webber.

    In any event Weber concluded that no for-profit nursing homes should be allowed. One of Illinois more liberal GOP politicians, Chuck Percy, held the same opinion.

    In McHenry County, the county nursing home, Valley Hi, is held in high esteem. In the same county, the Woodstock Residence (think “Angel of Death” charges) has had a bad reputation since I first heard of it. My first negative report came from a Teenage Republican in the late 1960’s. She worked there.

    Why would the county nursing home be better?

    Anyone with a complaint has four county board members to whom to complain. Their jobs could be on the line if the relative got angry enough.


  22. - Anon 9:18 - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 4:11 pm:

    There are a lot of studies that show that supposedly better wait times in the USA are basically a myth. Most hostility to Canadian and European systems are based on anecdotes and perpetuated in “academic journals” like Rush Limbaugh and The O’Reilly Factor. Virtually every category of wait time in the USA is the same or higher than in other countries, except, as pointed out earlier, if you’re uninsured, in which case the wait can be forever. And don’t tell me that the uninsured can go to Cook County Hospital - by the time they get in there, their cancers have spread, their chronic diseases have deteriorated, etc., because Cook doesn’t put enough money into the system to cover ALL the uninsured and the insured majority don’t really care.


  23. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 4:17 pm:

    Yes, studies have consistently shown that for-profit nursing homes deliver lower-quality care at a higher cost.

    Interestingly, some of the most ardent supporters of single-payer are coming from the traditionally conservative sectors. Past Caterpillar CEO and Past Chair of the Health Committee of the US Business Roundtable (representing 150 of America’s largest Companies) Glen Barton testified to the Illinois Adequate Health Care Task Force that “The quickest and simplest solution is to go to a single-payer system.” Businesses are being driven from this country by the broken health system (Ontario now produces more cars each year - and at a much lower cost - than Michigan).


  24. - Southern Right - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 4:20 pm:

    I still have yet to find any government program that is more efficient or cost effective than a private capitalist enterprise (competition works better than civil servants). There is no 13 billion dollar savings. Only imaginary numbers. How are we going to keep out every uninsured terminal patient from the other 49 states? This will look like the California gold rush.


  25. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 4:29 pm:

    you’re welcome to your opinion, but the US Government Accounting Office, Congressional Budget Office, the Lewin Group, the New England Journal of Medicine and the private consulting firm (Navigant) hired by the state all said that the savings are real and achievable.

    I think best solution is to have a national system and not keep out any terminally ill person, but in absence of that it would be done the same Canada keeps out the many Americans who seek care there: they would check for evidence of citizenship, and if it isn’t there we would charge them (or their insurer), the same as every other country in the world does.

    Also, if care is going to be so terrible under a single-payer system, why would people from 49 other states be clamoring to get in?


  26. - Southern Right - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 4:57 pm:

    I’ll just continue to disagree until real proof pops up, not guesstimate studies from these sources. We can all skew numbers anyway we want to. Since we all think the problem is the nasty insurance companies, this bill would solve that problem. That’s not the only problem though. This is a multi headed serpent. We have no transparency on costs to the consumer. We have not been able to control lawsuits. We let Pharma continue to fleece our country. The medical society has been slow to adapt to “best practise” proceedures. To just cite insurance and waste as the sole villian is a page out of the Clintons aka 91, 95, and 08. The problem is medical inflation. How many MDs, hospitals and labs file BK very very few. The insurance carriers have continued to consolodate and become more efficient. Profit margins in each segment of the health care delivery prove that insurance is not the villian.


  27. - MV - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:02 pm:

    This plan really gives patients the best of both worlds. A universal, single-payer plan offers the best coverage. For the best care, private, independent, non-profit hospitals and nursing homes.

    Not having single-payer puts a tremendous burden on hospitals to either collect on poor people who can’t really pay, or write them off and just lose the money. It also has led to hospital mergers, which often lead to closures, which has degraded the overall health care situation in Illinois.

    The HMOs have a pretty lousy record when it comes to paying out to the docs, and the way they’ve manipulated hospitals, and have even driven them out of business, like what BCBS is doing to Condell, is really disgusting.


  28. - Austrian School - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:05 pm:

    Interesting that a lobbyist co-authored this bill. Was it the product of lobbyists on both sides, or merely one? Can we expect objective information from him, particularly when he calls profits “needless administrative waste”?

    Also, I know Rep. Flowers. I doubt seriously that she understands what is included in the legislative language, much less its implications.

    Oh well, another case of inmates running the asylum–I mean, lobbyists running the statehouse.


  29. - Ozzie - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:13 pm:

    I would think, given our embarrassing world standing in life expectancy and infant mortality, most politicians would finally acknowledge the failure of free market health care.

    I would think, given how much we spend per capita in this country relative to the rest of the world and to health care services we receive, and certainly the national horror of Walter Reed, most politicians would finally acknowledge the inefficiency and inhumanity of a for-profit model.

    I would think, given the growing number of uninsured, the growing number of bankruptcies, the growing number of American deaths every year due to lack of access to health care,(rare, if not non-existent in every other western industrialized nation)most politicians, who too often choose to wear their flag on their sleeve, (or their lapel, for that matter) would acknowledge the humiliation this nation endures as it refuses to take care of its own.

    Case in point-
    From the Iraqi Constitution:
    Article 31:

    First: Every citizen has the right to health care. The state takes care of public health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building different types of hospitals and medical institutions.

    Yup, that says “right”, not market-driven, class-dictated privilege.

    Over there in Iraq.

    I would think, but then I guess I couldn’t be most politicians.


  30. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:15 pm:

    I’m a law student with an income of $0 who used to do health policy research for a non-profit. I stand to gain exactly $0 from the passage of this bill (other than having access to health care and living in a - in my opinion - slightly better world). I’m not sure in what universe that makes me a “lobbyist” who “runs the statehouse.”(unless simply advocating on behalf of the uninsured makes you a lobbyist.)

    I am flattered by the suggestion that I’m “running the statehouse” however.


  31. - Leroy - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:18 pm:

    Nicholas Skala -

    In the event this idea turns out not to work the way intended, what provisions will be made to reverse the law?

    i.e. is this a one way trip, or is someone working on a contingency plan? If so, what is it?


  32. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:30 pm:

    Well, we have a constitutional system of government that allows laws to be changed if they don’t work or if somebody comes up with a better idea. It happens all the time.

    I you are bringing up an important point though: unless you want to go back to the system we have, there aren’t a lot of options. “Health savings accounts” and “individual mandates” are not new ideas, they’ve been around since at least the 1970s. The reality is that reason that no government, corporation, or institution has found some other way to set up the health system is because there are really only two ways to do it: public or private (or some mix). No one is proposing any new ideas because they don’t exist. There are problems with both, take Medicare, it has all sorts of problems: sometime it underpays, it doesn’t cover everyting, sometimes there are delays in approving new treatments, and politicians are continually screwing it up. But even with all that, it still manages to provide higher quality care and produce better outcomes at a lower cost than Aetna or United Health do. So the public-private mix we’re proposing goes like this: doctors can remain private and in business for themselves, hospitals and delivery facilities can remain private as well (i.e., no government takeover). However, the financing will now be organized in a rational way to cut out the at least $13 billion in waste and use that for care, not paperwork. This is the only way to get our full value out of the health system WITHOUT huge tax increases like those proposed earlier the session. Other options for expanded coverage and cost control just don’t exist.


  33. - Southern Right - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:31 pm:

    Ozzie,
    Looks like your a fan of Iraqs medical system. I’m sure given the right criteria, it can be said it is light years ahead of the US in all categories. Our constitution does not give us the right to free or even affordable health care. Cash does. So some of us think taxes are better than premiums. You can stop paying premiums, but you must pay your taxes. Option B taxes is not for me. Lets keep the government out of the private sector. I’m sure there have been studies done on how we can save billions of dollars by having the government build cars. We all need a car don’t we? Lets banish Ford, GMC, and Chrysler from delivering cars. They waste so much, the government can build them better right?


  34. - Leroy - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    “Well, we have a constitutional system of government that allows laws to be changed if they don’t work”

    Let me clarify - suppose this turns out not to work as intended. In the risk model (I assume the powers that be have one for this idea), will going back to a privatized model an option?

    The answer “We have a constitutional system of government that allows laws to be changed” won’t address the economic reality if something goes bad…will anyone be interested in investing in health care in Illinois after a ‘one payer’ implementation goes bad?


  35. - Ozzie - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:40 pm:

    ‘ceptin that cars and public health are not the same thing.

    And it’s intellectually disingenuous to suggest they are.

    And as to Iraq, are you cool with all of your tax money spent guaranteeing health care in Iraq when you sure as hell don’t have it yourself?


  36. - Ozzie - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:42 pm:

    Yeah, who the hell would choose public health for a lobbying career?

    So I guess then you have to try and smear an individual working for the public good.

    No wonder the average person hates politics.

    And Mr. Skala, should you ever decide to run for public office, contact me for any and all help I might offer.

    It’s rare to meet a person of integrity.


  37. - Levois - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:44 pm:

    Can anyone say Trebant?


  38. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:46 pm:

    I’m not totally sure what you’re getting at, but I think if you take a look at how hard for-profits are lobbying to break into the Canadian, British, and Western European markets, you’ll come back with the idea that a lack of interest in private health investment is about the last thing on the planet you’ll ever have to worry about.


  39. - Princeville - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 5:52 pm:

    Well, guess my question was too much of a simpleton to bother with.

    Anyway–I really don’t see this bill getting very far for many assorted reasons. But I feel this one being put forth now is only meant to show Madigan does not disagree with some type of healthcare assist. Odds of this getting through are slim but legislatures won’t look like the evil ones who are heartless and that this one is tossed out there to take the one Blago wants and this much more broader one and begin to work for smaller scaled and how it will be funded.


  40. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 6:06 pm:

    I thought i answered it right below your post. I tried to, anyway.


  41. - Ozzie - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 6:42 pm:

    Hey everyone-perhaps take an honest look at other first world capitalist countries’ health care systems first before you start disparaging them with tired and hackneyed memes.

    Here’s a good place to start:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/

    We have the tragic luxury of being the last western industrialized nation not to have true universal care, so what’s say we use this national embarrassment to our advantage, eh?

    Perhaps use our American ingenuity?
    Or does that only come into play where profit is concerned?

    Maybe we don’t take care of our own anymore…

    Personally I’m surprised “socialism” was only mentioned once.

    Nary a “socialized medicine”?
    Especially considering “capitalized” or perhaps “corporatized” medicine is what got us into this gawd-awful mess to begin with…

    Really, all you naysayers have never had a problem with our “best in the world free market profit driven health care system”?

    Really?


  42. - Bill Oreilly - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 6:51 pm:

    It’s not how much you pay, it’s who you pay it too.

    H.B 311 would save Illinois tax payers about 13 billion dollars a year in health care costs. Along with that cost savings, everyone in Illinois would be guaranteed health care.

    Currently, an average family of 4 in Illinois makes about $50,000 a year. After taxes, about $3,400 a month. The average family pays about $750 for health insurance and about $750 in taxes.

    Under H.B 311 the $750 paid to an health insurance company would be eliminated. A increase in the payroll taxes would amount to about $30 a
    month tax increase . Therefore, an average family would save about $720 a month.

    At first, this sounds OK. What’s missing is good old American values.

    Wake up, this isn’t France! A real American would rather die than pay one more penny to the government. I would rather have my children die
    than let the government pay for a Doctor’s bill. Give me liberty or give me death. Americans are still filling their tanks with gas, why because
    the money is going to the Oil companies. That’s right, private companies. We love paying companies, hate paying the government. This America, not France!


  43. - Emily Booth - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 7:11 pm:

    Dad, a WWII and Korean War vet, was getting his health care at the VA for the past several years. He was misdiagnosed as having macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s. He was given medicine for Alzheimer’s by a VA nurse without being evaluated and tested by a neurosurgeon. When he was hospitalized for stroke, the nursing care was abysmal. One of the nurses brought a patient dinner tray to eat from while she sat in his room watching TV. Another nurse was busy surfing the internet when my brother requested assistance with removing Dad’s who was patiently waiting to be discharged. She told my brother that it was not her job. My brother removed the IV himself. Dad’s internist made us wait for 3 hours because she was in a snit that another doctor caught a diagnosis that she missed. She told us she was referring us to the neurosurgeon. Instead, she referred us for outpatient surgery for a hernia that she never mentioned. On another occasion, I was refused service because I brought Dad a month before his prescriptions expired and had to listen to the nurse question the doctor’s Rx. On another occasion, we waited and waited and waited for Dad’s name to be called in the waiting room because the nurse pronounced it as Rodriguez (Dad’s name is German and starts with a M). I have more stories but I’m stopping here.

    It took Walter Read to change the VA system. What does that tell you?


  44. - Nicholas Skala - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 7:22 pm:

    If the story is as you tell it, it tells me that the hospital you were at is poorly managed. I’m not sure what that has to do with the state’s health financing system though, especially considering that most VA hospitals are government owned and run, and HB 311 maintains private hospitals.

    Also, Walter Reed wasn’t being run by the government. Its operations had been subcontracted out to a subsidiary of Haliburton, which the predictable effects.


  45. - Princeville - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 7:45 pm:

    “We wish the General Assembly and especially the House would be less obstructionist and be more willing to embrace healthcare for children, healthcare for working families” (*quote of Blago today speaking to reporters, from David Mitchell, Clout Street, Chi-Tri 21 April 2008)

    Just more games. Rod: House bad, won’t embrace healthcare for children…. House: Let’s vote on universal healthcare we passed it out of committee last week and Madigan is a sponser.


  46. - Southern Right - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 9:32 pm:

    Last point. Illinois politics are at an all time low. Who can the taxpayers trust in this government that isn’t looking for a kickback? We can’t get a real ethics bill passed. That imaginary 13 billion savings will somehow disappear and our honest Governor will ignore all FOIA notices. Same outcome different bill passed. That’s when this ends. When you realize who is holding the piggy bank. Really do your unbiased research and then understand what drives the cost of healthcare. You could yell at the gas attendant for making you pay $4 a gallon or fix all the real problems. Last, there is absolutely no difference between the government making cars, widgets or giving us a free health plan. It’s capitalism vs socialism. Some of us are ok with giving folks a hand up, most of us are tired of giving folks a handouts. Solve the real problems. This plan doesn’t fix what’s wrong with the healthcare delivery system.


  47. - steve schnorf - Monday, Apr 21, 08 @ 10:04 pm:

    For all us out there who get so threatened by the prospect of a government-run, single payer system, I believe that the reason this gets brought up so much and slowly gains traction is simple: we have offered no alternative solution or proposal. That leaves Mary’s proposal as the best legislation currently under consideration, doesn’t it?

    As Republicans, we look at the current state of access to health care coverage, and we must come to the conclusion that there’s no problem. We criticize the Dem and liberal proposals (and I generally tend to agree with most of those criticisms), but we offer no alternative proposed solutions except our usual banal “free market” bs, but of course we never quantify that into a concrete proposal.

    We’re very good at being against things, and as others offer solutions, no matter whether flawed or not, we can continue to be against them as we slip into irrelevancy.

    So, what is the Republican answer here? Is it that there’s no problem, or is it that we’re fully aware of the problem, just not creative (or gutsy) enough to offer any concrete solutions.

    Those of you who know me know I feel the same way about several other major issues facing the state. I used to say the Governor’s GRT proposal, while I thought it terribly flawed (we were very good at being against it) was the best (because it was the only) proposal on the table.

    If we can’t lead ourselves, I guess it gives us plenty of opportunity to b—h about the way we’re being led.


  48. - Anon 9:18 - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 8:17 am:

    If you look at the work of the Adequate Health Care Task Force, you’ll see there were a few “Republican”- style proposals submitted. But upon examination, they wound up being more sound bite than real - HSAs, association plans, malpractice reform, etc. However, when you packaged all the sound bites together, you didn’t make even a dent in the number of uninsured. The Republican side didn’t have the guts - to use Steve’s word - to propose anything that actually achieved universal coverage. I guess it would require deviating from orthodoxy, and since many/most of the uninsured don’t vote Republican, ….


  49. - Southern Right - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 8:17 am:

    There are plenty of other solutions to help in this arena. I am just tired of bashing those ruthless insurance companies. They’re pretty easy prey. Lets put a cap of 10% on attorney fees in medical malpractise cases. The cap on payout isn’t going to work. There is always an alternative to growing government. That would be less government.


  50. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 8:03 am:

    Convert all business to non-profit so no business ever has to pay taxes again…what a great way to reduce state government!

    Then we could convert all employees to non-profit status and they would never have to pay taxes again either, further reducing state government.

    Seriously, it sounds like another lawyer job creation bill.

    If government wants to meddle, how about requiring hospitals to publish and post their prices for standard tests and proceedures, as well as error rates for all doctors so non-emergency consumers can shop around? That would be far more useful to the average citizen and some price competition might actually save us all some serious money.


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