Health Care Summit review

I’ve been watching and/or listening to the health care summit today and it became fairly obvious from the opening bell that there wasn’t going to be much of anything worthwhile or substantive accomplished – not that I’m surprised. 5 hours into it, it has been mostly the exchange of talking points. Right now I’m forced to listen to Henry Waxman give his. He’s claiming his version of the bill is the best and the Republican’s version sucks. Pretty much the way it has gone all day (Republicans have mostly said they want to start over with a clean sheet). Every one of the Democrats are appealing to emotion via tragic anecdotes.

Tom Coburn made the most important point – any reform has to reconnect purchase and price. Until that’s done, we’re not going to get the value that reconnection would bring.

Then there have been the CBO wars (each side claiming their side is supported by the agency), with Rep. Paul Ryan pointing out that the problem with the CBO numbers is that it doesn’t account for the double counting and that throws the curve in an upward trajectory. Ryan also pointed out that Democrats removed the “doc fix” from the bill and plan on passing it separately, but that removed around $300 billion from the HCR bill which should be included in the cost.

Republicans have argued for tort reform for medical malpractice. Democrats (Dick Durbin in particular) have argued against it. McCain used the Texas model to make the point for tort reform. Texas, which has instituted tort reform has seen malpractice premiums reduced by 27% and has had a net gain of 18,000 doctors – extrapolated nationally using direct savings (malpractice insurance premium cost) and indirect savings (reduction of the “defensive medicine” practiced by doctors) the amount saved could be in the $150 billion range.

Essentially each side is trying to support their point of view. If there’s any agreement it is that Medicare is full of fraud, out of control cost wise and needs to be fixed and that both sides want to fix the pre-existing systems.

As expected, President Obama sits quietly while the Democrats give their talking points and challenges Republicans as they deliver theirs.

Most amusingly, Joe Biden said this:

“I’m always reluctant after being here 37 years to tell people what the American people think. I think it requires a little bit of humility to be able to know what the American people think, and I don’t, I can’t swear I do. I know what I think. I think I know what they think. But I’m not sure what they think.

Then everyone, including Biden, spoke for “the American people”.

The one thing Obama said concerning reconciliation, in answer to a point made by John McCain, was that the “American people” really aren’t that interested in the process. Obviously he hasn’t seen the CNN/Gallup poll today which says they are interested and overwhelming reject it’s use.

Chris Dodd tells a story about a guy who privately put together a small business health care association in CT. Of course the point lost on him as he argues for the government to act is it was done privately. Perhaps the government’s role ought to be enabling that. Rep. Joe Barton then made that point.

“Blinky” Pelosi is now wrapping it up with her usual attack on insurance companies and Republicans (except Tom Coburn for some reason) while still pitching the public option. Yeah, negotiating at its finest.

The cable news networks covered most of the first part of the session but began bailing around 1pm, cutting in from time to time, but mostly going to discussion among their “experts”.

Bottom line – no bi-partisan attempt on either side to reach a compromise. And again, that’s fine.

After that, I think I’ll go watch some exciting curling.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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