Use Your Head: Health Care Edition

Stories where Americans or people in the media — or mainly people in Washington — just aren't using their heads:

All Aboard!

Great news for President Obama and his hopes of universal health care: Everyone is behind it, including the AARP:


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We have the AARP onboard, because they know this is a good deal for our seniors. The AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare.


Wow, that is quite an endorsement! Except there's one problem: It's not true.

The AARP says the president went a little too far in his claims. Tom Nelson, the AARP's chief operating officer says, "indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president was not trying to mislead anyone, he just "misspoke."

But, did you know the new CEO of AARP was an Obama contributor during the campaign? The AARP Web site has a link to a project they are working on with the SEIU, Business Roundtable and the National Federation of Independent Business. The SEIU is the union architect of the health care bill. Maybe the president just assumed that even if the AARP didn't endorse a bill, they are "onboard."

Jungle Gyms for Health

When you think of quality health care, you immediately think of a farmers' market right? By the government's reasoning you should. See, if you have a farmers' market or a bike trail near you, you will eat healthier, exercise and you won't be obese.

(I am surrounded by bike trails in my town.)

The Los Angeles Times reports that a draft version of the Senate health bill includes a provision that would include up to $10 billion a year for the "prevention and public health investment fund." Some of that money could be used to build infrastructure projects such as bike paths and farmers' markets.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn offered an amendment that would have prevented money being spent on "wasteful construction"; the amendment failed.

But don't worry: In a draft version of the House bill, it only sets aside $1.6 billion for community grants that could include infrastructure projects.

So... What's Not in the Bill?

The fact is we don't really know what is in the final Senate health bill, even though it passed the committee on July 15. There are over 280 amendments adopted and, as the committee staff tell us, it takes time to redraft a bill.

Take a look at what was left out of the bill regarding comparative effectiveness research or CER; research that compares the cost-effectiveness of two treatments for the same condition.

That's fine for consumers lookin at best practices. But some argue this can be used to ration or deny care based on cost. Like the Canadian man who sued because the government refused an expensive drug that could have saved his life. He won his case, but he died.

We've been told (by the White House) that that can't happen here. But as Heritage Foundation research points out, three separate senators offered amendments that would have expressly prevented rationing by CER; those three amendments were defeated.

OK... What's in the Bill?

What's in the House health bill? It's only 1,000-plus pages. So I invite you to read along with me. Go to, type in "H.R. 3200" and join in. Of course if you try to read it, your head will explode because it's so confusing — some might say by design.

Let me read you some passages:

Section 102-c limitation on individual health insurance coverage:

(1) In general, individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an exchange-participating health benefits plan.

Wow. What?

Republicans on Capitol Hill say that that passage prohibits "the sale of private individual health insurance policies, beginning in 2013, forcing individuals to purchase coverage through the federal government."

It did?

Let's turn to Section 202-d:

(1) Subject to the succeeding provisions of this subsection, an individual described in this paragraph is an individual who — (a) is not enrolled in coverage described in subparagraphs (c) through (f) of paragraph (2)

The Republicans say this means members of Congress with existing federal employee coverage don't have to join the new government-run health plan.

I am not saying this because the Republicans are right and Democrats are wrong — frankly, I don't trust any of them. But to paraphrase what investor Warren Buffett has said: "Don't invest in something you don't understand."

Or to put it another way: Use your head.

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