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Obama’s Health Care Moment: Speaking Personally – UPDATED

September 9th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

There are now more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.

But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.

Barack Obama, September 9, 2009

I will return to local issues tomorrow, but the undeniable story of moment-is President Obama’s Wednesday night address to the joint session of Congress.

There are plenty of other people who are commenting well—and poorly—on Obama’s speech (which, for the record, I thought was a game changer), so instead, I want to say something personal here.

Like many Americans, I pay a fortune for health insurance.

It doesn’t matter that I have never (knock on wood) been ill, other than occasional colds and rare bouts of the flu—for which I never, I mean never-— go to the doctor.

My only trip to the hospital in my adult life was to have my wonderful son, Will, nearly 24 years ago.

I pretty much show up in medical offices solely for my single yearly check-up and about once every ten years when I get a nasty case of poison oak (and that only when the dog strays into the stuff without my knowing it).

Furthermore, my weight is on the low side of normal, I exercise regularly, have great cholesterol, perfect blood pressure and no chronic conditions.

Yet, although I have good health, and a gazillion dollar deductible, I pay through the nose every month. Why? Because I’m self employed—which means that my insurance is two or three times the cost of what one pays through an employer. And I am middle-aged. Late middle aged, if I am to be honest.

But that isn’t the most vexing part. Not only is my health insurance—which happens to be Blue Shield—absurdly expensive, it pays for almost zero, unless something truly hideous happens to me. Then, once my deductible is used up, it is supposed to pay most of the bills.

(Operative phrase “supposed to.” We have all heard the horror stories. Many of us know somebody or several somebodies who have lived through the horror stories.)

Moreover, even things that Blue Shield, used to pay for, like yearly mammograms, they have found new ways to get out of. And certainly my insurance doesn’t cover common sense preventative care. For instance, although as a small-boned, slender woman I am the potential poster girl for osteoporosis, my insurance company wouldn’t dream of paying for a baseline bone density scan—although, as a preventative measure, it is likely to save long term costs, not to mention heartache. (I just had one and was thankfully informed I have the spine of a 25-year old. For now, anyway.)

Except for part of one yearly check-up I pay for all doctor visits, plus any of my preventative tests, the diagnostic sonograms that my mammographer rightly advises, my eye exams to make sure that nothing creepy like glaucoma is lurking, whatever—all entirely out of pocket. As I said, my insurance will pay for (most) of one yearly doctor visit. But, if every other year I think it wise to be checked by both an internist and a gynecologist—fuggedaboudit. And any kind of specialist? You must be joking.

If, heaven forbid, I ever do get actually, even marginally sick, or find some suspicious spot on my arm that needs to be removed and biopsied, or maybe get some test for some recently acquired allergy, I fear that my insurance will really go sky high. Or if something worse than that happens, they’ll try to drop me.

So quite frankly I notice that put off having some of the exams, or tests, or check-ups that I know I should have—because there is that niggling, back-of-the-mind worry about my insurance doubling or worse, like my close friend’s did, just because she got a prescription for an inhaler for those occasional moments when she’s at someone’s house and has a mild allergic reaction to cat dander.

Yet, I know I’m churlish to complain at all. I am, after all, one of the incredibly lucky ones. I have health insurance. And I make a respectable amount of money doing work I love— teaching, book writing, and nattering journalistically about issues of social justice— so I can afford my ever-rising premiums and the mortgage on my canyon house, and life’s other necessities.

Millions of other Americans work long hours at one or more jobs, but don’t make enough to afford to pay insurance premiums. This means if they can scrape together the money to take their kids, or themselves, to the doctor, they go. When they can’t, they put it off. Sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Still other Americans—some of them my close friends and family members,—have fought cancer or some other serious illness. Now they are uninsurable on the open market because they once had the bad sense to get sick. If they don’t have jobs that force insurers into carrying them, or spouses with similar jobs—or if they lose their jobs, God forbid—they are screwed.

So, yes, I want health care reform that would make it illegal to deny coverage for preexisting conditions. And I also want the public option.

I’d like to buy into some kind of insurance that doesn’t charge usurious rates, or jump in price by 30 percent or more per year, and doesn’t have a zillion dollar deductible. I would like that insurance to pay—with a non-stratospheric co-pay—for my ordinary doctor visits, and for whatever sensible preventative treatments or tests my test-conservative doctor thinks necessary.

I also want to be able to go to a physician without always having to weigh the larger, long-term fiscal consequences, when going would be the wise and healthful thing to do.

I want that for me, for my son, my nephew, and many of their friends, and for a pile of my own best friends, all of whom also work their butts off, pay their taxes, and either run small business or are also self-employed. And I want it too for the 30 million fellow Americans who cannot get coverage at all, and the many million more who are under insured.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I really don’t.

UPDATE: Two USC/Annenberg grad students—Len Ly and Hillel Aron— watched Obama’s health care address along with patients waiting for care at two different LA emergency rooms. Clever idea.

Here’s what they reported.

*Note: I managed to insert some strange moment in coding that erased nearly a fully paragraph from an earlier version of this post, making that section of it confusing to read. Obviously it’s corrected now.

Posted in health care, medical care, Obama | 72 Comments »

72 Responses

  1. reg Says:

    “I know I’m churlish to complain at all.”

    No you’re not…

  2. Jeff Levine Says:

    Celeste, excellent, “right on” post. I share your fear (I am a couple of years younger than you, but I am still roughly in your demographic) although I have health insurance through my company (Kaiser) and, believe it or not, it is great although my out of pocket costs keep going up up up…but I KNOW I AM LUCKY. But I could lose my job tomorrow and I’d only have coverage for 18 months IF I started paying a freaking fortune.

    I graduated from HS 40 years ago and I didn’t think that we’d have a black President in my lifetime, but I thought (1) we would have had manned visits to Mars by now and (2) we’d have National Health insurance by now also.

    What the hell has happened in those 40 years? (I know, I know it’s all the Liberals fault..somehow. I can’t wait to see how your right winger “explains” that one)

    also – although this is a serious topic, I can’t resist:

    “I have the spine of a 25-year old” THAT explains a lot!!!!

  3. Sisco Says:

    That congressman Joe Wilson, who heckled Obama during his speech, was no help to Republican spokespeople who’ve been insisting that the sophomoric behavior by protesters at town hall meetings is merely that of private citizens who aren’t endorsed by them. This party is the gift that keeps on giving.

  4. WBC Says:

    Wow, your insurance plan sucks. I drop Blue Cross when it stopped paying for my kids’ routine shots at a rate accepted by my admittedly expensive Beverly Hills pediatrician (7 years ago) and joined, despite my skepticism and persuaded by my insurer, Pacificare HMO. My problem is the opposite: I’m so besieged by calls and mails from both my OB/GYN and internist for routine tests like mamograms, blood work etc., that they feel like robocalls. So they can be reimbursed, so the HMO can compete with Kaiser on its rates re: preventive care. BUT I still share your other concerns re: rates going up and up regardless of INDIVIDUAL health apart from age and sex, fear of reporting pre-existing conditions YET if we don’t, fear coverage can be revoked retroacively for something as simple as acne or a routine yeast infection treatable by OTC creams. (Stuff Obama mentioned today). PLUS I hate being poked and prodded any more than necessary, so the very idea that anyone actually WANTS to have this stuff done to them any more than absolutely necessary and become some sort of “excessive consumer of medical care” is utterly foregn to me.

    So he sounded like he “gets it” but I have a whole lot more questions and issues I can go into here.

    I’m really pleased to hear he talked about giving us all the same benefits at rates those insured by large co’s have (1/3 of ours) w/out underwriting exclusions or getting dropped later, with the preventive tests you mentioned all covered without adverse consequences if the results come back positive This is a basic starting point I’ve harped on for years.

    The smartest thing he did tonight is dare to disappoint the absolutists in the Dem party and go for the pragmatic, what IS achievable. That kind of undercut the Republcans; the “response” was all about the public option which is no longer part and parcel of the overall proposal.

  5. Celeste Fremon Says:

    My insurance plan totally sucks, but I stuck with it, in part, because I had friends that were having such nightmare experiences with Kaiser, et al, and also because—at the time—my two main doctors were in their PPO circle. But now my internist has stopped taking Blue Shield, because she’s so fed up, and my OB/GYN—well she still does.

    Most people I know either have great insurance, because of the Writer’s Guild or SAG or some other employment set up, or they’re like me, and are with Blue Shield or an equivalent, and are reasonably screwed.

    Obviously, if I went with an HMO it’d be different. Maybe it’s time to start checking that option again if Congress doesn’t do something soon.

  6. reg Says:

    “I thought (1) we would have had manned visits to Mars by now”

    Jeff – stick around and read Woody’s comments. A trip to Mars that doesn’t cost the taxpayer a cent…

    WBC – I’m a hardcore Obama supporter from early on. spent a ton of money on the campaign, worked my ass off, spent some $$ to help put that ad in the NYTs this week encouraging O to stand and fight for a public option, recognize that a single payer universal insurance system is clearly, by all real-world evidence, the best way to go, and if you want to imagine that I wear a Che Guevara teeshirt, that’s fine (although I’ve never owned one and consider Guevara an ideological fanatic – a type that scares me.) The point being, I absolutely loved last night’s speech, thought it was great and it fulfilled everything I’d hoped for. If this is what “disappointment” feels like, more please…everyone I’m reading who I respect on “the left” shares my sense that Obama did what he needed to do, both to shore up his “base” and put the issue squarely on the table in a way that will bring those who actually want a serious reform package together.

    We’ve argued about single payer – personally if the current US system is the issue I don’t think there’s much argument but that most other countries have cobbled together less expensive systems that are at least as effective in public health outcomes (and arguably better in most areas.) But I see you here being open to the reforms that are on the table, giving them thoughtful consideration – and frankly if a public option stays in the plan, I don’t think once you see the details of that proposal you’ll back off from supporting the broad package. That says a lot IMHO. Meanwhile the folks who are about nothing but “NO!” and making up hysterical charges are isolating themselves. Which is fine by me.

  7. Woody Says:

    Oh, I must have had the TV on the wrong channel. This is the healthcare speech that I saw, and it makes more sense: VIDEO

  8. Mavis Beacon Says:

    I wish the papers were filled with stories about ordinary people and their insurance stories.

    I’ve been dealing with some health problems of my own the last few months. Nothing life-threatening but it’s fairly debilitating. Luckily, I have insurance through my girlfriend’s work and it’s a decent HMO plan so I’ve been able to get various tests and treatments. Some potential treatments aren’t covered by my HMO and there was a set of tests that one lab didn’t do and that’s the only lab that’s covered for me so I just did without. Luckily it hasn’t been anything to critical, but I know what it looks like when a beaurocrat comes between you and your doctor.

    Of course, even if this problem goes away, and several docs have told me it likely will, I’ll be somebody with a pre-existing condition. Unless this bill passes I’ll always need to get insurance through work or risk being unable to get it at all. It’s a depressing thought.

    One thing that I haven’t heard a ton about is how much this current system forced docs to spend their time on paperwork. I know in my case the docs sometimes spend time figuring out how I can get what I need covered by my sometimes stingy insurance. We’d all be a lot better off if they spent that time dealing with other patients. Personally, I’d love to see a universal billing system so that docs fill out the same basic form for every patient. It seems like the kind of reform that doctors would love and insurance companies wouldn’t hate. Anybody know Max Baucus?

  9. poplockerone Says:

    My health insurance is awesome and I wish that nothing will change. I am oppose to any change that will affect my current status negatively.
    My family has the best doctors, the best hospital, and we almost never wait more than 5 to 10 minutes to be attended. If a life threatening situation would happen to me, I can even get air-lifted from anywhere and accepted at any hospital nation wide.
    If your risking your life for the safety of others, I believe we deserve the best insurance….the majority of people dont.

  10. poplockerone Says:

    I’m really oppose to having health insurance being provided to people that thounsands and thounsands of people who refuse to work a day in their life.
    I see people involved in criminal activities for years then get old and decide that they need health insurance forcing themselves to a job at Disneyland selling ice cream.

  11. Woody Says:

    You think that illegal immigrants won’t be covered? Hah! Obama counted them in his numbers of people without insurance. So, if he’s honest and won’t cover illegals, then he must be counting on sweeping legislation to legalize tens of millions of people here illegally. That will only make paying for the overstated benefits even harder.

  12. poplockerone Says:

    Woody, I understand your argument over the “illegal immigrant” issue. Believe me Woody, the government will not provide health insurance to undocmented immigrants. You should see the process that the California Community colleges are doing these days to verify a valid social sercurity number.

    I’m 100 percent sure the primary requirement will be that you be a U.S citizen or a State Resident. Even then, I have a hard time with the issue that the majority of people born here in the U.S. refuse to find a legitimate source of income that would provide them health insurance. Those who own small businesses with limited employees – they deserve better plans.
    I do support that those that have been employed for many years get a better insurance plan than what they have now – for their years of hard work and contributions.
    I’m upset that a whole lot of people that dont deserve (shit) health insurance will reap from the benefits of those that actually do good in life and work. So woody, we are in the same view of things -

  13. Celeste Fremon Says:


    !. Your coverage won’t change. Nobody thinks it should.

    2. People on public assistance are already covered—by MediCal. They aren’t at issue with insurance reform.

    3. So, just to be clear, you don’t think ordinary working people should be able to buy into coverage that is a good as yours?

    4. I’m happy for you that you have good insurance. I’m only sorry that you feel you are far more deserving than the rest of us.

    5. Woody, you’re just wrong. Wrong. Period. No wiggle room. Wrong. And in case there’s any misunderstanding, let me repeat: Wrong.

  14. Sisco Says:

    Sure, poplocker. All people with no health insurance either don’t want to work, or are criminals. Nice logic.

  15. reg Says:

    Poplock is a sick puppy – and unfortunately however excellent his health insurance, there’s no simple cure for what very seriously ails him – and will ultimately kill him. There’s never going to be such a thing as a soul transplant. A brain transplant might help in the short term – but there’s no such thing either.

  16. Woody Says:

    Ceelste, are you sure? Maybe you’re having second thoughts about that comment.

    When it comes to predicting what the Democrats will do by listening carefully to what they say, I’m rarely wrong.

    Obama counted the illegals in his statistics of those uncovered, so it’s clear that he intends to cover them. It’s just a matter of selling the plan before he discloses the reality and details. If he doesn’t cover illegals, then he has two options – send them back to Mexico or grant them amnesty.

    Celeste, you are also wrong about there being no changes to our coverages. If Obama mandates significant enhancements yet pledges to keep costs down, then something has to give. The “give” is that private insurers are forced out of business.

    Celeste, you are so idealistic. Leave the dark side and come over to us.

  17. reg Says:

    Is Poplock a cop – because if he is he should be booted out. This is the kind of thuggish, self-annointd SOB who ends up killing people, planting evidence and, when the chips are down, pocketing some drug money because, you know, he deserves “the best” for “protecting” the rest of us undeserving scumbags. People like Poplock have essentially the same extreme narcissitic, sociopathic mentality as the criminals and “cheats” they self-righteously deplore. Sick shit.

  18. poplockerone Says:

    Ms. Fremon,

    Medical has been cut and will be cut even further..

    No, I dont feel I’m more deserving then the next guy next to me – but he his not employed to protect the public and our communities.
    No, people should not be able to have my level of insurance… my employment has only 18 months of life expectancy after retirement. I love my job but this issue of dying young is on my mind daily.
    I wake up everyday thinking about this issue and how indeed my children and wife deserve better. These types of benefits and practices are also done with veterns of wars.

  19. reg Says:

    “I. Your coverage won’t change. Nobody thinks it should.”

    I do. If this sick bastard is living off of the taxpayers dime in some “public safety” job, I’d like to see him fired as an unfit sociopath.

  20. poplockerone Says:

    I told my boss and superiors to read your comment Reg – he’s laughing his ass off. I cant stop laughing either…..thanks reg

  21. reg Says:

    Okay, I’ve got it. This ranter is a prison guard. Totally explains the nutty crap he posts here.

  22. reg Says:

    Poppy. You’re a sick little shit. It’s even written in your “stats.” And everyone knows that prison guards are totally involved in the corruption and dysfunctionality of the prison system. Go fuck yourself.

  23. WBC Says:

    “If your (sic) risking your life for the safety of others, I believe we deserve the best insurance.” Exactly WHAT do you do, poplock? Then you use as an example a community college. Most of the people who are paying through the roof for insurance are small business owners, the major source of job growth in L A county and the nation. But it definitely makes it harder to get and retain good employees, and many who do work for small firms choose to be insured through their spouses or girlfriends (like Mavis) working for big companies if they can. (Nice to see you agree, poplock, that these business owners and their employees doing the heavy lifting in our economy deserve some break.) Or those paying too much for too little can be people like Celeste, who are independent/ freelance even though they have jobs. (I’d have thought USC offers group insurance? The ones from many writer’s groups aren’t that good. Much as I hate the sound of “HMO” and its restrictions, these days co’s like Pacificare include the best hospitals with a mere $250 co-pay per stay, and many top doctors, or you can go PPO and pay more out of pocket.) There’s no logical reason why the government hasn’t found a way to pool small business owners, freelance and anyone else who wants to buy in, into a group with the buying power and clout of big companies, forbidding exclusions for pre-existing conditions or being dropped when you get sick. A simple start. The SBA has been pushing for this for years, Republicans included.

    As for the illegal issue, Obama just said that he’d veto any bill that included them, not that the bill wouldn’t for sure. This touches on the underlying issue that people don’t trust government: they can pass one bill and then modify it into something else later.

  24. Celeste Fremon Says:

    “I love my job but this issue of dying young is on my mind daily.”

    The stresses on officers and their marriages is indeed a sobering problem for law enforcement.

    However, as nearly as I can tell, that life expectancy thing, which is generally quoted as 5 or 6 years after retirement, is a myth according to actual statistics.

    Check out this column from yesterday’s OC register as it has some recent CalPERs stats. It might help ease your mind a little.

    And while I don’t begrudge law enforcement their good insurance, I see no reason why the rest of us can’t buy into equally good insurance for a reasonable fee.

    Instead, many of us pay usurious fees for lousy insurance. And I’m very, very sick of it.

  25. WBC Says:

    Just read, “No, people should not be allowed to have my level of insurance,” etc. at #18, from poplock. Gotta say reg seems right about your mental health and fitness for a job at our expense.

  26. Woody Says:

    I want the same coverage that members of Congress get, and I want it free and I don’t want any taxes raised to pay for it. Nutty? That’s about what Obama is trying to sell you.

  27. reg Says:

    That 18-months thing is, of course, bullshit, but a great line for the kind of sociopath who thrives on self-aggrandizement and needs to bully the rest of us who might not consider them God’s greatest gift to society.

  28. Celeste Fremon Says:

    WBC, I teach at two universities, but am on full time faculty at neither, for a variety of reasons too long and boring to go into here. If I was a full time faculty member, my insurance situation would be very different. So, although I juggle a much longer weekly schedule than most faculty members, in terms of hours, wearing what amounts to four job hats, I’m an independent contractor.

  29. poplockerone Says:

    I’m not a prison guard.
    I wish I could fuck myself – really.
    I’m dont give tickets either – street level traffic cops do that.
    I strictly do Guns/drugs/fugitives.

    No, its not a myth Ms. Fremon. I haven’t felt good for a while now. I wake up everyday with pains all over my body.
    My right foot has a fractured bone from jumping walls and fences that just wont heal.
    As a kid, I was hit and sweeped by a car and ended up underneath it – today my back is in pain result from this accident.
    I get serious headaches from all this information I store in my brain – I head feels like a ballon about to blow up.
    Ive been trying to stay away from taking Advil all the time….just to maintain functioning without pain.
    At night I cant sleep. I have to exhaust my body and mind just to get rest. Then, I wake up worst than when I went to sleep. I stay fit and run but it doesn’t help my damaged body.

  30. reg Says:

    “I get serious headaches from all this information I store in my brain”

    Yeah, I guess so. I get headaches when you unload it here and I make the mistake of reading it.

  31. reg Says:

    “I’m dont give tickets either – street level traffic cops do that”

    Which I assume means they aren’t awesome enough to qualify for your amazing level of health care coverage.

  32. Celeste Fremon Says:


    I’m not suggesting that there aren’t HUGE stresses on individual officers. I’m just talking about stats.

    This sounds awful. At the risk of sounding like your mother, acupuncture from a really good practitioner can sometimes help with that kind of chronic pain that is the result of injuries. Not always, but I have known people to have gotten some significant relief. It sounds like you could also use some physical therapy and/or some kind of stretching/strengthening/alignment regimen like yoga or pilates.

    I’ll stop there with my suggestions (although I have more), as it is not my place to give you advice, but the mom thing sometimes kicks in of its own accord.

  33. poplockerone Says:

    Whenever you get a chance and come out to Los Angeles or want to jump over to Tijuana Mexico – to check out the violence or society ills in general. Let me know – you have to sign a release waiver form, in case you get killed you wont be able to sue anyone.

  34. poplockerone Says:

    I’ve done acupuncture and physical therapy – nada.
    Actually my insurance covers both of the above services at no cost.
    I haven’t tried yoga or pilates but I’ll look into those options. I just always see beverly hills brentwood type of women being the only ones in those classes.
    On stats – I always heard the number 5 years as average in all these reseach acticles but now I am hearing that my specific function is average 18 months.
    Believe me, for the sake of my children, I dont want to believe it or even think about. Its really depressing – that I dont even make enough to support and assist in their future college tuition.

  35. Mavis Beacon Says:

    What’s funny about Woody is even when he may have an opportunity to move the ball, he can’t help himself from going for the touchdown and screwing it all up. If he’s right (a large caveat to be sure) and Obama is including illegal immigrants among the uninsured, well, he’s being a little disingenuous when he talks about the uninsured in this country and that his plan will help. Instead of just calling Obama on that, Woody has to make up a story about how this now means, contrary to all the bills in congress and Obama’s own promise, that illegal immigrants will be extended new coverage. It’s like he prefers being wrong.

  36. reg Says:

    I hate Los Angeles and stay away from it unless I’m paid to go there. I wouldn’t spend five minutes with you. You’re of no interest to me except as a bad accident waiting to happen.

    It’s sounds like you’re not fit for the job and can’t handle it. But this thread wasn’t about you (although you’re all about you and want to press that bullshit on the rest of us.) What’s disgusting is your narcissism and expressions of contempt for everyone else.

    You’re a very creepy character. Do me and everyone else a favor and retire. You’re going to fuck up, someone will be dead or hurt because you need the ego boost of playing cowboy when you can’t really cut it. Your arrogance is disturbing, but knowing that your head is “like a balloon about to blow up” is a red flag. Frankly, your comments here are so wack, misanthropic and disturbing, I’m not surprised to read any of this.

    Also, without feigning any bullshit like “all due respect”, my advice is to just shut up if “Nobody else deserves what I’ve got” is the best you can bring to a discussion of health care reform.

  37. Johnny From Echo Park13 Says:

    Reg. aside from being an asshole ese, from reading your stupid coments, your the one that sounds like a total old piece of dying shit. I’have read Pops comments on past entries, he knows what he’s saying man.
    Unlike you, he doesn’t put people down on what they believe in.
    Take a pillchill ese – stop being a dick. Thats how people get hurt.
    you do not like my City Of LA homie, get off this blog

  38. WBC Says:

    reg, your prefacing your remarks with “I hate Los Angeles and stay away from it unless I’m paid to go there” undermines whatever you have to say next. I think most of us read this blog BECAUSE we share a love for this city, at least for its potential and what it was/is mythically, and appreciate that Celeste is trying to make it a better place.

  39. Pokey Says:

    There is the old saying that – a conservative is a liberal, who has been mugged.

    After being mugged by medical insurance industry and Tenet hospital system, I am not conservative on this issue; in fact I have become radicalized.

    I have come to believe that the entire medical insurance system and medical delivery system is broken and would be better off destroyed and rebuilt.

    My Simple Seven Point Healthcare Reform Bill:
    1) Make it unlawful for an insurance company to charge different rates to different people for the same coverage based on age or pre-existing conditions.
    2) Make it unlawful for an insurance company to cancel an individual’s policyexcept non payment.
    3) Make medical insurance tax deductible.
    4) Make malpractice Suits unlawful.
    5) Create three Non-Profit Health Insurance co-ops that complete in every state.
    6) Require ALL employers of all sizes to offer insurance or pay X dollars per hour worked into a fund (similar to social security tax).
    7) Require all taxpaying adults to show proof of insurance to show proof of insurance or pay a higher tax rate on income earned.

  40. Pokey Says:

    Sorry for the Typo’s

  41. reg Says:

    WBC – I totally appreciate what Celeste does in this blog, and realize that some folks like LA. Maybe even “love” LA. LA is interesting in a weird sort of way, but it happens to hold zero charm for me – and for a lot of people. (I don’t know anyone who ever travels to LA just so they can be there – it’s a periodic work destination for folks in the Bay Area who do the kind of free-lance work most of my associates do.) So be it. That said, and although we’re supposedly adults and I have a reputation for being a provocative asshole that’s not entirely undeserved, you’re right I shouldn’t have opened my comment with the line.

    That comment was a glib, hasty response to a guy I consider a total jerk inviting me to come to LA. Sorry if it offends, but I couldn’t imagine making such a trip in that context.

    You are welcome to dis Oakland. Or the Bay Area in general. In fact, I think you have dissed Oakland if memory serves. I wouldn’t expect you to be impressed. I happen to love it. (I happen to have very, very little tolerance left for SF, although the “place” is great and often tell friends I “hate” San Francisco. I lived there for fifteen years before nearly 25 in the East Bay, and it’s a totally different and less interesting city. One of the reasons I like Oakland is the total lack of any pretentions – which often seem to be all SF has left.)

    And when I say “LA” I’ll exempt a few enclaves – but overall the city is totally incoherent IMHO and should probably be broken up into several smaller self-governing entities. Certainly that’s the only hope for your school district.

  42. reg Says:

    Johnny – kiss my ass. I’m not your “homie.” And I’ll respond how I damned please when assholes say totally stupid fucking shit like PoppedLock.

  43. reg Says:

    Pokey – I commend your thinking long and hard and coming up with some reasonable ideas BUT “outlawing malpractice suits” ? That’s (A) unconstitutional BIGTIME and (B) pretty cruel for anyone who has suffered malpractice at the hands of the system. Don’t you trust our courts to handle this ? Maybe we should just hang up any attempts at justice through the legal system then. Do you think ALL lawsuits should be outlawed ? What makes medical malpractice any different from any other kind of injury by negligence or malfeasance ? What happened to the idea of “personal responsibility” ? For someone who rails against not being able to weed out bad teachers, what makes you think the medical profession is any less protective of their own than teachers – or cops – when they fuck up ?

  44. WBC Says:

    See, reg can be gracious once in a while, more or less. Actually if I ever dissed Oakland it was in response to some earlier similar comment you made re: LA. While it’s certainly easy to find things to fault in Oakland too, I do recall a pleasant couple days on Lake Merritt, staying at an old mansion converted into some women’s club whose name I can’t remember. I put on a day-long meeting there with lunch and it was very gracious and old-school. Stayed in one of the rooms, very James Ivory-ish. Looked out my window one morning to see Bill Clinton jogging around the lake. Also had some good Chinese food somewhere in a more funky part of town.

  45. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Pokey, you the prez could make a deal. Can you wrangle up a couple Repub senators for us?

  46. Pokey Says:

    reg – regarding medical malpractice suits

    What I suggest is that all medical malpractice disputes are settled by binding arbitration which is less costly than litigation and significantly less time-consuming. It also can cut out the large attorney’s fees to some extent.

    Currently doctors are adverse to risky procedures because of the risk of suits. Competent arbitration judges who are medical experts, who would also recommend disciplinary action against problem doctors, and would better be able to judge the risks involved with a procedure.

    Mavis, I wish I could, and I also wish this legislation wasn’t 1100 pages.

  47. reg Says:

    WBC – you stayed at the Camron Stanford House, which is a little gem. The old boathouse on that side of the lake has just been turned into an excellent new restaurant (there are still gondolas leaving the dock) and the archdiocese saw fit to turn those widow’s mites into a rather grand new cathedral a few blocks down. Yeah, Lake Merritt is lovely. One of my favorite residential districts in the country.

    We don’t live there anymore, having moved to West Oakland which is improving very, very quickly in tandem with the new Uptown – which is “downtown” but what’s the diff. The old Fox Theater has been rather spectacularly renovated (with a great new bar on the street level), giving the Grande Dame Paramount a sister about two blocks away. Restaurants are opening like crazy – despite the recession – and they’re very, very good. Even down on my funky end of the renewal, a very neat woman (trained as a chef in France, used to have a food network show and ran kitchens at seveal great places in Bezerkley) opened a Nouvelle Soul Food place within walking distance on Mandela Parkway and there’s always a line out the dooor. West Oakland ! Which used to scare folks to death (my mother-in-law grew up by the old train station, so I have a “longer view” of the neighborhood than the crack era.)

    Within a couple of years, that old abandoned station – which happens to be a beautiful classic stone and marble building – will be a brand new retail center. Probably won’t match the Ferry Building on the other side of the Bay, but I don’t really need all that. I’m in love with the place…and even though I’m on the “frontier” I can still easily ride my bike to Lake Merritt to do whatever.

  48. Woody Says:

    Len Ly and Hillel Aron, when you wake up and finally realize that Obama is going to require you and all young people to spend their meager funds on health insurance so that others can be subsidized and that you can’t keep that money for booze, girls, cars, or student loan repayments, then we’ll see you at the townhall tea parties standing up with the old geezers against Obama’s plan. I hope you enjoy the change, because most of its cost belongs to you.

  49. reg Says:

    Pokey – I don’t think it’s constitutional to pass a law forcing arbitration in all cases. I know it can be imposed by executive fiat in cases of national strikes, etc. But I really don’t think that plan could fly.

  50. reg Says:

    “Currently doctors are adverse to risky procedures”

    Maybe they should be…

  51. reg Says:

    Celeste – these universities are taking total advantage of you. (But you know that.) I think it’s shameful the way “adjunct faculty” or whatever get treated v. “full-timers.” It’s a con.

  52. reg Says:

    If they don’t give you job security, they could at least cover you with health insurance – which is a relative bargain in their “pool.” Jerks…

  53. Woody Says:

    Ohhh. Let’s criticize these health care activists for hiding from the press. What would your students think, Celeste? Well, what should they think?

    Don’t Call Us, We’re Public Servants [Lynne Munson]

    In Patrick Courrieliche’s latest Big Hollywood post regarding the National Endowment for the Arts, he reveals that the federal agency is now refusing to return calls from the media.

    The Boston Globe, Washington Times, and Fox News have called to inquire about the leadership role the agency recently took in arranging and hosting a conference call in which artists (read: potential grantees) were “encouraged” to agitate in favor of the president’s agenda, including health care.

    I posted previously on how unethical it is to ask potential grantees to engage in politics. And how outrageous it is to do all of this while sitting in your office at a federal agency?

    Now, to make things worse, the agency has decided to cut itself off from the press. Not only does this look bad — it is wrong. The appointees, who are refusing to explain themselves to the press and the public, are public servants. Their $100k+ salaries are paid out of the NEA’s $160+ million budget (up $5 million in Obama’s first year).

    The NEA and NEH are not ivory towers. They are taxpayer-funded agencies and their appointees need to remember to whom they report: us.

    The Nat’l Endowment for the Arts, like most organizations run by liberals, thinks that taxpayer money is their’s to spend however they want.

    Maybe they’re after health care for the NEA (taxpayer)funded Mapplethorpe photo models who posed with bull whips up their rectums – something that liberals defended as art.

  54. reg Says:

    “Mappelthorpe photo models who posed with bull whips up their rectums”

    Woody is a very excitable boy…

  55. Pokey Says:


    Arbitration could be enforced as part of the contract within the insurance policies.

    Risky procedures include operations that people desperately want and will die without.

  56. Sure Fire Says:

    Wow, Reg is an Obama kiss ass, never would have guessed. The last thing you should talk about is anyone’s soul Reg, you don’t have one and as for “an accident waiting to happen” someone came up with the term the day you slid down the birth canal. You’re a disgusting piece of shit with no soul at all.

    I’ve posted on a lot of boards and you’re the biggest joke I’ve ever read the words of, just a hateful and repugnant dick. You must have been gang raped by a bunch of cops and prison guards, all Republicans of course with nicknames like “Woody” to have become the hopeless bag of pus you are now.

    He wouldn’t survive a ride-along Pop, or would shove you into harms way like the yellow little cop hating bitch he is. You should ignore him like I always do.

    Back on point, both bills by the house and senate say illegals won’t be covered but defeated ammndments to require recipients having to prove they’re legal. Yeah, illegals won’t be covered at all.

    Celeste, with all the rules and hoops you have to jump through wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pay premiums based on health services you actually need and not what the government is going to undoubtedly force people to have coverage for?

    Wouldn’t it be nice to jump onto the net and shop for the right plan at the right cost no matter where you live and not have the government involved at all except in the case of the elderly and those who truly can’t care for themselves due to actualy existing causes the result being of no fault of their own?

    Why is this so hard for people to get?

  57. Sisco Says:

    Johnny from Echo Park 13, did you get your placa from the song “Who’s Johnny”? Anyhow, tell Sad Girl and Giggles I said what’s up.

  58. Sisco Says:

    Sure Fire Says:
    September 10th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    “You must have been gang raped by a bunch of cops and prison guards”


    Do cops and prison guards normally gang rape? Now we know why poplocker’s in so much pain. Jumping fences..ha ha, poplocker. Suuure.

  59. Sure Fire Says:

    In his mind Sisco, only in his warped and demented mind. Should have made myself clear. Nice catch though. Is the difference between you and pops that he was the chaser when jumping those fences?

  60. reg Says:

    “You should ignore him like I always do” – one of the funnier lines I’ve read here, after a couple of paragraphs of stream of consciousness directed at me that says way more about you than a raving dimwit would likely realize.

    Surefire – you’ve exposed yourself as a few too many times. It’s boring. We all know you’re a burn-out. My advice is to get back to your yoga class with the ladies.

  61. Woody Says:

    Sure Fire, the Democrats voted down not only a Republican amendment to ban illegals from coverage but voted down a Republican amendment to ban abortions from being paid by taxpayers. But we shouldn’t think that’s an indication of what Democrats and their activist judge friends would “write in” to the existing language. Oh, no.

    To restate my reply to Celeste above, “When it comes to predicting what the Democrats will do by listening carefully to what they say, I’m rarely wrong.”

  62. Sisco Says:

    Uh, Sure Fire, according to your analogy, if I was on the receiving end of a police chase just because I brought up the concept of a police chase, does that put you on the receiving end of a police gang rape, since you brought it up? I never knew cops engaged in such behavior. Frankly, I think cops have more integrity than that. You’re sick.

  63. John Moore Says:

    Celeste, why do you expect “insurance” to pay for routine care? The whole concept of insurance is to protect people from unforeseen events.

    Unless it has changed in California, BC/BS is one of those non-profit outfits Obama likes. Of course, it’s BC/BS that used to have a policy that they would not sell you insurance at any price if you had ever taken an antidepressant!

    The problem is complex. Pokey is close to right, I think. Government run things are almost always worse. Note that already, Medicare is already creating a second, lower tier of coverage, because they pay so low that more and more doctors won’t take Medicare payments – as my Dad found out the hard way recently.

    On the other hand, private insurance isn’t so great either. However, one has to understand (as Pokey does) that there ain’t no free lunch. Somebody is going to pick up the tab. Hence when you require insurance comapnies to take anyone and to ignore pre-existing conditions (something I personally would really like to see), you HAVE to make sure that people aren’t allowed to free ride on that (industry term: adverse selection).

    People will tend to stay uninsured until they need a procedure or get sick, and then buy insurance. That is one of the big problems with the Mass. experiment – lots of people go without insurance, the buy into it, have some expensive procedure, and then drop it again.

    As for the illegals, they are a huge cost to the system, because they have no insurance, but they still get care. Guess who pays for that. Guess who pays whether or not Obamacare gives them insurance. Yep – us.

    The idea of a “public option” is total baloney. What will it offer that we don’t already have? Obama talks about the overhead of profits (obviously, he knows zero about business or he would know that overhead is the expenses BEFORE profit), but we already have non-profits in the field. Is he just going to add another one? In that case, why will it be better?

    We need reform. That’s clear. People losing their insurance for not reporting acne years before is simply wrong. However, the only way to rectify that is to end medical underwriting (using pre-existing conditions) in the first place. If you don’t have to report them, there’s no possibility of allegations of a fraudulently obtained policy.

    I’m glad to see some discussion taking place here, even if reg does his best to lower the signal to noise ratio with his usual ad hominem attacks.

  64. John Moore Says:

    Oh, about LA. Love it, hate it. I have many fond memories of the three and a half years I lived there. I hate what it has become – the good places to live (IMHO within a mile or less of the ocean, for a start) are priced way too high. The politics of the state are nuts, which is reflected in a terrible business climate (and some people are fleeing there and bringing their politics with them – to here in Phoenix).

    If everyone would just leave, I could move back :-)

    What we need is a west coast neutron bomb.

    There, I’ve said it. Now reg can rave on all the blogs that John Moore wants to nuke california, just like he claims I want to hang journalists.

    Anyway, love the place, hate the place. Will be out there sometime this fall (gotta visit in-law in Santa Barbara).

  65. John Moore Says:

    One more comment… Obamacare as described makes the same mistake as MassCare – the penalty for not having insurance is way too low. The result will be that people just pay it and take their chances, buying insurance before big procedures or after they get sick.

  66. Sure Fire Says:

    Actually Sisco i was messing with you after your jab at Pops, get a grip.

  67. Sure Fire Says:

    I do ignore you Reg, you’re only here to screw with beacuse you’re a dolt.

  68. reg Says:

    “the good places to live (IMHO within a mile or less of the ocean, for a start) are priced way too high”

    Obviously John Moore hates markets and doesn’t understand that they always price everything just right and are totally rational. (Actually, in the case of things like ocean-front or “walking distance” property, they undoubtedly do and are.)

    Also John – I understand the difference between tongue-in-cheek and visceral hate. Since you recently added Walter Cronkite to your list of journalist-traitors, it’s clear just how divorced you are from sanity and common decency. You weren’t kidding about wanting to hang journalists from the New York Times. No running away…

  69. John Moore Says:

    Reg, provide a site or stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  70. John Moore Says:

    better yet, provide a CITE.


  71. John Moore Says:

    And to address the reality – I think some journalists have been guilty of abetting feloneous conduct on the part of leakers in certain cases, and have been guilty of seriously damaging the war effort for ideological reasons.

    As far as I know, neither of those are hanging offenses (maybe in Utah?).

    As for the markets… yeah, I don’t have a clue why those prices are so high. Heck, I’ve never made a buck speculating in California coastal real estate (well, not for over 30 years) so I don’t have a clue how that market works. Maybe Obama will fix the prices for me the same he is going to make halth care cheaper while supplying more of it. Heck, he’ll probably grab a stranded fish off the beach and feed 100,000 illegals with it, while he’s at it.

  72. poplockerone Says:

    The happiest place on earth:,0,464456.story

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