Are These People Completely Out of Their Minds?

Yesterday it was reported that Hillary Clinton was out in front of the pack of presidential candidates in terms of political contributions from the healthcare industry. She's got a whopping $2.7 million in contributions, ahead of Obama with $2.2 million, Romney $1.6 million, Giuliani $1.4 million, McCain $0.9 million, Edwards $0.6 million, and Richardson $0.6 million. You see, in spite of the fact that during the time of BILL she was ready to take a hatchet to the insurance companies (a tap which they surely deserved), now the insurance companies (as well as the other Gang of Four, which includes the AMA, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies), are falling over themselves to shower her with dollars. You see they have figured out that she may win, and that the democrats may take over Congress and the Senate. Then they would really be up that proverbial creek without a Republican paddle. So the Gang of Four have decided to plug their noses and start shoveling money up the most distasteful of channels.

Hillary had some wonderful dreams about reforming American healthcare during the time of BILL. But after getting creamed by the Gang of Four during the last Democratic administration she has woken up and is smelling the ipecac. Hillary's plan says that they will give tax credits to working families (translation: poor people) and that insurance companies can't deny coverage if you have a pre-existing condition or if you change your job. But she still keeps on the slough of overpriced insurance companies and the tangle of disconnected healthcare systems that won't allow doctors to communicate and share records electronically as they should. Bottom line? Keep those donations coming, honey.

Obama similarly says don't exclude for pre-existing conditions, cover all essential medical services, have subsidies for poor people who don't fit into current programs, and provide the ability to change jobs without changing plans. He emphasizes quality and efficiency, easy enrollment, and simplifying paperwork. Is he going to ask for an act of Congress to get insurance companies to do this? Bottom line? He doesn't have the guts to tell his wife to shut up, let alone get the Gang of Four in order.

Mitt Romney's mutton-headed plan (What me worry?) says who cares about universal health care, we already have it. If you break your arm go to the ER, someone will take care of you. It you have cancer they will take care of you. But what if you have a house, Mitt? Did you ever consider the fact that that they will charge you TWICE as much as your brother-in-law from Utah who has insurance? HELLO? Bottom line? This guy was on track when he came up with universal health care for Massachusetts, but at this point we should flip this flip-flopper back to Massachusetts, or if they won't have him, the land of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

Rudy calls Hillary's plan a "nanny state". He wants health insurance to reflect an "ownership society" where people would buy their own insurance with the help of tax incentives instead of getting it through their employer. He wants to emphasize free market competition. I mean like, come on, Rudy, do you really expect me to believe that comparing my employees Aetna and United Healthcare plans represents the same kind of competition as being able to buy a toothbrush at Walgreen's or CVS? Critics correctly point out that his plan will lead to cherry picking, where insurance companies will pick individuals who are less sick. In fact, it's not clear exactly what he wants, but it sure sounds good (if you are a member of the John Birch Society). And has anyone ever asked, what if he was ever actually in charge of the post 9/11 recovery operation? (Instead of just standing there yacking like an idiot with a fireman's cap on his head).

McCain says that Hillary's plan is a throw back to the time of BILL. He says it is like "putting lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig." So what would he do? He emphasizes containing costs. He states that the uninsured are a symptom of the problem of runaway costs. He thinks that the pay of doctors and hospitals should be linked to performance. Drug companies should tell us how much drugs cost (isn't that the capitalistic way?) and there should be more competition with generic drugs. He wants to give a tax credit to poor people who buy their own insurance. Chronic diseases should be contained to prevent increasing costs, and overall he thinks that individuals should be accountable for providing for their own health care. OK, I am a doctor, so if you are patriotic and want to help solve our health care crisis, stop smoking, eat right and start exercising (go figure).

John Edwards is the power advocate for the little guy and he wants universal health insurance for everyone. He will provide affordable health care for the uninsured and require businesses to pay for insurance for their employees. He will expand government programs like Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and will take steps to contain health care costs, but doesn't really say how.

Overall the Republican plans are like shouting at a sick person to get up off the ground and run a marathon. Hillary is so in bed with the Gang of Four it makes me nervous. If she believes that God is directing her political activity (as she does) does that mean that God is a President of an HMO? As for Obama I don't know what he is talking about. Overall John Edwards has probably spent the most time actually thinking about health care and has provided the most detail. But all of these plans skirt the fact that our system of insurance companies and multiple bureaucracies is cumbersome and inefficient. I think true universal healthcare is the solution, but as the French say it will probably never happen in this country, so the next best option is to just go without insurance at all.