Sunday, August 23, 2009

C-Span broadcasts of health care town halls

Just watching the news.

How bad is the cash for clunkers program? they can't even give away money. 7% of the dealers have been reimbursed. I'm sure they will do just fine running 14% of the economy.

Speaking of health care, now on C-Span there is a town hall on health care in North Carolina. One brave lady--a graduate student--stands up to make the case that she is afraid of having for profit health care companies making decisions about her health care. One thing that was kind of curious was that she said that even though she has health insurance she is not able go to the doctor because she makes only $21k a year and the insurance has a $200 deductible. Is that really high? That is 1% of her income. Why is it somehow necessary that intelligent people are not expected to be able to have 1% or even 5% of their income in reserve for medical care. We have one of the lowest out of pocket expense ratios of out of pocket medicare cost in the industrialized world. Why? Why do we think that health care should be something that you do not have to plan ahead for?

I am watching a blue dog democrat from Mississippi (right next door in Hattiesburg) go through a very painful town hall. He tried to start out with a critique of the Bush administration and the financial hole we are in. The crowd gets really agitated as it goes on and on (about 15 minutes), in part because of the lousy layout of the powerpoint program he had, and he kept trying to tell them to wait their turn. The poor guy finally gives as the crowd starts chanting "health care, health care."

The interesting thing is that he has to stop and remind the crowd every couple of minutes that he has voted against everything that the Democrats have done. The problem is that people keep asking the question in various forms "Well, if you don't like what the Democratic leadership puts up and aren't going to vote for the Obama health care program?"

The best part comes when he tries to explain the importance of generics using the example of Calais when he really meant to talk about Ambien. He doesn't figure it out till the end. He says that the pill they make has gone off patent so is only 50 cents a pill but the one they advertise is Calais KR which is still on patent and costs $5 a pill. He explains holding his index finger and thumb a half inch apart to represent a tiny difference, "and there is only this much difference between them." All the time he the audience is laughing and he can't figure out why. Maybe the difference is unimportant to him. Ahhh, men. They only think about themselves.

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