Saturday, June 02, 2007

Live Blogging the MA-05 Health Care Forum!

I've driven long and far, through empty fields that reminded me of non-coastal California, and arrived in Ryan-Time - which is to say 10 minutes late. It's a good thing Ryan-Time just happens to be quicker than politician-time, because I actually made it before they started the forum.

It's packed. Literallly, well over a hundred people on a Saturday morning far, far away from the well-populated areas of the fifth. It was tough to find, but a beatiful location - with free wifi to boot.

Pictures will follow the event, I forgot to bring my cord.

(Charley and Lynne are here too).

Delores Mitchell is moderating the debate. I don't know much about her, other than she does something with health care. I was too busy typing all the above to miss her resume. But, I did dig up this - behold, the power of google. Time to pay more attention. Questions are about to start.

Q1: We know many of the uninsured are actually working, which didn't get much play, has become one of the most important issues. It's effecting the middle class. With that in mind, if elected, which strat do you suggest to secure all Americans have health insurance?

Donoghue: enormous problem. Pres candidates not in agreement. How do we deal with it? Have to change how we think of health care in this country. Need reform, of course. Health care is a right. Must recognize where we are today, people have struggled. Clintons tried to approach reforms earlier, ranks have only grown and costs have skyrocketed. We've all seen it. 44 million uninsurned (that seems low to me).

Let's start first with the children. Universal healthcare "access" as quickly as possible. Supporting S-Chip program, including every child in this country. "Look at other individuals" - providing preventative health care instead of sickness. 75% of costs swallowed up on heart, diabetes and obesity.

Stopping there. Lots of good points, but "recognizing what we're paying now" isn't going to help us pay in the future. Ran out of time without saying much.

Finegold: Health care crisis. Recognized Jamie and himself for voting for health care as constitutional right. Health markets: gov't programs in competition with private (gaurantees programs, offers choice, can opt-in to medicare model... sounds a lot like Germany.. which sounds GOOD). Real comp will drive down cost.

(Kudos for some real ideas)

Personal story about his wife: good care on his wife, his grandfather died and didn't get good care. "everyone" should have access, no matter income, where your from, etc. Voting to make this a constitutional right shows his committment.

Tsongas: Her family has benefited from great coverage. Family/businesses have lost control. Supports accessible/affordable/etc. choice in plans, etc.

Talked about Truman's first introduced national health care... but she doesn't support a public system. Weird.

Talked about Massachusetts - shared responsibility on govt, employers and employees... but they employers pay $250 a year... not really all that shared to me.

Not perfect, but good start.

Supports John Edwards plan for health care plan. Seems kind of like the Massachusetts plan, but I'll look into it more later.

Time for change in tone in gov't.

Eldrige: Only solution to gauranteing health care is universal health care, single-payer system. Expanding medicare to all americans. "It's a moral outrage... that there are 46 million without health care" and another 50 underinsurned. Burden on businesses, America has high mortality rates. National health care system gaining momentum. It's not unrealistic, just look at FDR's social security.

Nat'l Dems aren't standing up for the people, we need health care. Attacked Niki Tsongas for seeing market place for expanding health care... won't work, only universal will. (The crowd had a big applause).

Good answer, he was certainly fiesty... I kind of like Finegold's plan based on his quicky answer better, but both were good.

Miceli: private companies have most experience, blah, blah, blah. Really looking forward to this guy for the rest of the day... Needs a public/private partnership.

Q2: Identify 3 biggest problems with health care system.


1. Portability: people should be able to keep same coverage when they change jobs, etc.

2. Businesses should be able to buy into GIC-like pools, take advantage of mass-purchase of health insurance. Somewhat available in mass, not available nationally. Single-payer option should be looked into. I guess he's more open than I thought =p

He only gave 2 that I noticed.

Eldridge: if you want portability, you want single-payer.

People without coverage filing bankruptcy (personal experience with city residents).

Cost problem - new mass law doesn't do enough to reduce costs. 15% of GDP provides for health care worse than others.

Profits have *no place* in health care. (Huge applause). ATtacked Tsongas again for being concerned about private health care profits - and for her connection to falon. Health care could use what are profits to shifting it toward better coverage, new treatments, etc.

Tsongas: Clearly we have a problemf or 47 mil uninsured.

Cost of care/insurance too big, increasing too fast. Won't be able to address problem until we bring everyone into the system to provide preventive care, wellness programs, etc. Impliment system now, not tomorrow. Attacked Eldrdige for time-table of Conyers plan, which eldridge supports (would take 15 years, she says). If cost of care comes down, so will insurance. (I'm very speculative about that.)

Last one is nursing shortage.

Finegold: Uninsured is biggest problem. We're one of the richest countries in the world, that's not acceptable.

Cost of perscription drugs too high, esp with fixed income seniors. Drug companies spending too much advertising - purple pill, anyone? - we're only one of 2 countries that allows ads. For every 1 dollar spent advertising, $2 in sales. He'd rather cost in R&D.

Preventive care, not emergency room care. (fairly good applause).

Donoghue: Preventative care, everyone needs coverage ASAP (no timetable). We have great health care in this country, just not universal access. If single-payer plan came up for vote, she'd vote for it, but in the meantime, wants to work other areas (getting more employers to cover, etc.)

People gaming system to make money is problem. Canadian drugs, etc. Non-profits earning profits - using those profits to insure the uninsured.


Anonymous said...

It's "Donoghue" and it's "Miceli". Your posts seem to be biased for Eldridge. Do you even live in our district?

Ryan Adams said...

Actually, according to the placard, it's Micelli. I got about 4 hours of sleep last night, so I took a nap before I fixed my spelling mistakes. Micelli is the one candidate I didn't know much about, so his was the only name I wasn't entirely sure how to spell. Donoghue was a oft-written typo.

And yes I'm biased - this is my blog, after all, but not for a particular candidate yet. What I'm baised is for a Universal Health Care system, my endorsement isn't official for any particular candidate yet. I actually like Finegold's plan better, but both of them are good. And I'm not opposed to a Niki Tsongas plan, which I also believe Donoghue would support baised on her "ASAP" approach, it's just not the direction I'd want for a candidate.

And, no, I'm not in the district, but a lot of my readers are. Does a columnist have to live in a district to weigh in on candidates? Adrian Walker, Joan Vennochi and others don't seem to think so, despite the fact that they've written about it.

Anonymous said...

The placard was wrong.

Ryan Adams said...

Thanks. I'll fix it.

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