The Instigator
abard124
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
dogparktom
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points

The Healthy Americans act is the best plan for healthcare reform

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
dogparktom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/13/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,076 times Debate No: 9213
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (4)

 

abard124

Pro

I know that it may be a shocker, coming from a devout liberal such as myself, but I am quite wary of President Obama's plan for healthcare. In fact, I'm generally wary of any public option. Not to say it WOULDN'T work, but I feel like it really depends on who's in in charge, and as we've learned from the Bush administration (or perhaps Obama, depending on your political stance), not all governments do what you think is best. With bad leadership, a public option could easily overtake all other private insurance companies and become single payer, which I will explain later.

Now, the current system is also no good. Some of the most vulnerable people can't afford health insurance. That is unacceptable.

I'll admit, I used to be a proud socialist. I supported single payer. Now I realize that it still depends on the leadership. It could be great and ideally it should be what we have. However, it isn't ideal. Government parasites (oops, I mean bureaucrats) generally cause disease, not cure it. So with good leadership, we could get quality healthcare included with your citizenship. With bad leadership, however, we could literally destroy our country from the inside out. I don't like giving the government that much responsibility.

Now, I generally try not to anglicize government plans or officials, but I generally feel like the Healthy Americans act (HAA) is by far the best plan. Written my my own Senator Wyden (D-OR) with Sen. Bennett (R-UT), the plan, at it's root, says that the Democrats are right that everyone should have healthcare, but the Republicans are right that it shouldn't come from the government (1). Basically what would happen is that there would be somewhat of a voucher system. One of the kickers is that it really increases competition, because you get a certain amount of money, and if you buy an insurance plan that is less expensive than the amount of money given, you get to keep the change (2). That way, the insurance companies will try to be lower than that limit. Then the program will cut their money as well, lowering your taxes.

I realize that no plan is perfect, and the HAA is no exception. I do realize that it will raise taxes and put the country into more debt, but it is the best compromise, providing the least expensive option for the government, while still providing every single American with affordable and quality healthcare.

I'm looking forward to a response to begin a great debate!

1. Sen. Wyden's legislative assistant Ben (I don't know his last name)
2. http://www.washingtonpost.com...
dogparktom

Con

Your description of the HAA is too sketchy to agree with. Therefore, I disagree.
I have Medicare. It is a government run plan. It works well. It is efficient,; but it certainly is costly.

I favor a single payer system like Canada's plan. I adopt the arguments set forth in this article http://www.twincities.com... Since a single payer plan is probably not politically possible now, I favor a public option plan. Such a plan can provide competition to the insurance company plans.
Debate Round No. 1
abard124

Pro

Thank you for your response! I will not burden you with smalltalk and I will instead go straight to the argument.

"Your description of the HAA is too sketchy to agree with. Therefore, I disagree."
I guess that's fair enough. However, could you please explain what made it "sketchy?" And was it my description of it or Sens. Wyden and Bennett's description that was sketchy?

"I have Medicare. It is a government run plan. It works well. It is efficient,; but it certainly is costly."
Those claims are all true. However, we're talking 300 million people and up that would be using single payer, or potentially using the public option. You are correct that it is costly. There is no way the government could pay everyone off while still paying the hospitals full price, except sending your taxes through the roof. Right now they can handle the medicare/aid patients, but I don't think it would be so easy with the whole population.

"I favor a single payer system like Canada's plan. I adopt the arguments set forth in this article http://www.twincities.com...;
Being a former proponent of single payer healthcare, I can respect your ideas and even understand them fairly well (alas, the link doesn't work, but I know the general idea of single payer. You can elaborate in your next argument). Imagining a utopian world with all the bureaucrats being benevolent, single payer, as well as most socialist ideas, would be best and the most fair. It makes sense that the taxes should pay for quality healthcare, but it's no utopia. The sad truth of single payer is that Mr. Bureaucrat can slash quality just as easily as he can say that there is no way to pay for what we have unless taxes are raised dramatically. I really wish it were different. I wish there was no inflation and that humans were perfect. Unfortunately, that is not true.

"Since a single payer plan is probably not politically possible now, I favor a public option plan."
I don't think single payer is ever politically possible. Anyway, I feel like a public option will eventually become single payer. Once again, if the world was fair, we wouldn't have to worry about that, but the world isn't fair. The government isn't honest. All they have to do is say, "Oh my good golly gosh! Look at how high our rates have to be to be at the same plane as the private companies! Oops! I just "accidentally" raised everyone's taxes so we can have the lowest rate..." There are a few problems there, the first being that, with our current system of about 80% of people not choosing their insurance (1). They have their boss choose. Now, the boss (let's call him Bill), if he's like most bosses, only cares about what saves him the most money. The most common plan for the public option is that it is focused toward emergency and really important care. As such, the quality isn't as good. Bill doesn't care. He only cares that it's way less expensive.

With a good bureaucracy, single payer or a public option could work. And we might very well have a good bureaucracy for a while. But, it is so easy to corrupt, I'm not willing to take the chance. Now, I ask you, how would one corrupt the HAA? I don't want the government deciding how I stay healthy, I want to decide how I stay healthy. And I want people who are less fortunate than I to be able to decide how they stay healthy. The best compromise is the HAA.

I'm excited to hear what you have to say!

1. Time magazine, last week's, I believe
dogparktom

Con

Here is the link to the article about the Canadian system that I'm relying upon: http://www.twincities.com... I hope it works.

!. "sketchiness"

I have reviewed both descriptions. How would the government determine the amount of the voucher to be given to each individual? Arbitrarily, at $2000 per person? Or the median annual health insurance premium? Or by what method? Who would be eligible to get the voucher?

A voucher system would preserve the current costly (administrative costs of all health insurance companies - is just one component) status quo. A few years ago the CEO of United Health Care retired. His retirement package was $490 million! $490 Million! $490 MILLION! I hope my point is evident.

Your Second Argument:
"we're talking 300 million people and up that would be using single payer, or potentially using the public option. You are correct that it is costly. There is no way the government could pay everyone off while still paying the hospitals full price, except sending your taxes through the roof. Right now they can handle the medicare/aid patients, but I don't think it would be so easy with the whole population"

My Response:
You advocate a voucher system. I assume that all 300 million people would be potentially entitled to a voucher. Could an employer decide to discontinue his group health plan and tell his employees to apply for a government voucher?
Regarding efficient administration, the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service are able to accomplish their missions relative, potentially, to the whole population.

Your Third Argument:

"Once again, if the world was fair, we wouldn't have to worry about that, but the world isn't fair. The government isn't honest
With a good bureaucracy, single payer or a public option could work. And we might very well have a good bureaucracy for a while. But, it is so easy to corrupt, I'm not willing to take the chance. Now, I ask you, how would one corrupt the HAA?"

My Response:

For thirty years I practice law. I interacted with government (and private corporate) bureaucrats every day. This is my opinion: Generally, most bureaucrats are honest, competent, and just want to do their job and stay out of trouble. Some are incompetent. And some are corrupt. The bureaucrat, WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT OR A PRIVATE CORPORATION, has a certain mentality. All such bureaucrats are potentially corruptible, INCLUDING THE BUREAUCRATS WHO WILL ADMINISTER THE HAA.
Debate Round No. 2
abard124

Pro

Your link did work this time. I will not deny any claims in the link because it was factual, however I will say that the United States is currently in 2 wars, we have a huge army reserve, our national debt is much higher than that of Canada, and we have many more people. We also have to take into account many variables, such as illegal immigration, smoking, drinking, and air quality. I feel that we need to fix up our current socialized systems before we add any others.

1) Sketchiness: Well, if you carefully read the article, you will find this sentence, "The Democrats among us accepted an end to the tax-free treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance; instead, everyone -- not just those who currently get insurance through their employer -- would get a generous standard deduction that they would use to buy insurance -- and keep the excess if they buy a less expensive policy" (Wyden). I'm sure the government would find a balance between what saves Americans, as well as America, the most money.

"A voucher system would preserve the current costly (administrative costs of all health insurance companies - is just one component) status quo."
But how would a public option or single payer be any different?

"A few years ago the CEO of United Health Care retired. His retirement package was $490 million! $490 Million! $490 MILLION! I hope my point is evident."
Unfortunately, you have just laid out an exceptional argument for evolution. If we were intelligently designed, we would be way less greedy and we would be able to do the best for the company and the people, instead of what's best for the CEO. But the head of the public option or national health system would also be human, so I see no inherent benefit.

2) Second argument: "Could an employer decide to discontinue his group health plan and tell his employees to apply for a government voucher?"
In the article, it says, "Most have agreed to require employers to contribute to the system and to pay workers wages equal to the amount the employer now contributes for health care. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that this framework is the only one thus far that bends the health-care cost curve down and makes it possible for the new system to pay for itself" (Wyden). In other words, Bill would give you exactly the same pay system he currently gives you, but instead of giving you health benefits, he pays you what he would be paying the insurance company, and you use the voucher to choose your company, and if your chosen insurance company is more expensive than the voucher provides for, you can use the extra money from work to pay it off.

"Regarding efficient administration, the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service are able to accomplish their missions relative, potentially, to the whole population."
I once got a letter from the IRS saying that I owed them $10,000. I owed no such money. Is that effecient? So what if I got a lobotomy when I asked to have an appendectomy? And the IRS is not a fair comparison anyway, as they collect much more money than they need to operate.

3) Third argument: "For thirty years I practice law. I interacted with government (and private corporate) bureaucrats every day. This is my opinion: Generally, most bureaucrats are honest, competent, and just want to do their job and stay out of trouble. Some are incompetent. And some are corrupt. The bureaucrat, WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT OR A PRIVATE CORPORATION, has a certain mentality. All such bureaucrats are potentially corruptible, INCLUDING THE BUREAUCRATS WHO WILL ADMINISTER THE HAA."
You are correct that they are corruptable. But with a private option, the most likely consequence of a corrupt bureaucrat would be that it would turn into a monopoly by using tax money to superfund it, so they can cut rates to crazy lows. With single payer, a corrupt bureaucrat could essentially cut off health insurance to everyone. Now compare that to the HAA. With a corrupted bureaucrat, it seems that the worst they could do is cut all funds, essentially bringing us back to our current system. It's bad, but much better than the other two.

Also, when the economy is hurting, everything is impacted, and often the easiest way to provide aid is to cut funds from socialized areas. For example, I know many teachers, as well as students in Oregon public schools. Now our governor has some budget issues to deal with, and so he decides that some government employees should go a few days without pay. He committed a few days, and guess which government employees he told to work without pay. That's right, the teachers. I'm not sure why, although he is the oldest governor in the nation, maybe he doesn't care about the future, I'm not sure. But my point is, something similar could happen to healthcare. I don't want the government to decide how much coverage I get, I want to decide how much coverage to get, but I also want those less fortunate to have the ability to have a decision, and that decision should allow them to have decent health coverage from the company of their choosing.

This has been an excellent debate, and I would like to thank my opponent, Dogparktom, for providing such interesting arguments. I know you have a choice in which healthcare provider to use, and I think that choice should cost you less! Vote pro, and have a great day!
dogparktom

Con

Your First Paragraph:
Thank you for conceding the following factual points from the article that I rely upon which is at http://www.twincities.com... :

"Lesson No. 1: A single-payer system would eliminate most U.S. coverage problems.
Lessons No 2 and 3: Single-payer systems reduce duplicative administrative costs and can negotiate lower prices.
Lesson No. 4: Single-payer plans can deliver the goods because their funding goes to services, not overhead.
Lesson No. 5: Canadian health care delivery problems have nothing to do with our single-payer system and can be fixed by re-engineering for quality."

Your "Sketchiness":
You cite the following quote from your article:

"everyone -- not just those who currently get insurance through their employer -- would get a generous standard deduction that they would use to buy insurance -- and keep the excess if they buy a less expensive policy" (Wyden)."

I respond: A "generous standard deduction" is not a voucher. The former is valuable only if the individual has an adequate taxable income. But many people work at minimum wage, or low income jobs. They frequently pay no income taxes because they don't make enough. A new "generous standard deduction" will not give them money to buy private medical insurance. THEY MAKE TOO MUCH TO QUALIFY FOR THEIR COUNTY OR STATE MEDICAL INSURANCE ENTITLEMENT PLANS BUT NOT ENOUGH TO AFFORD THE PREMIUMS FOR A PRIVATE PLAN. THEY ARE THE 46 MILLION UNINSURED.

You state:
"A voucher system would preserve the current costly (administrative costs of all health insurance companies - is just one component) status quo."
But how would a public option or single payer be any different?"

Frankly, a public plan can serve as a price control. I have Medicare which pays X amount for Y procedure. But the provider may charge a private insurance company a higher price for Y procedure. Unlike United Healthcare, a government health plan agency will probably not pay $490 million to a retiring executive.

You state:

"A few years ago the CEO of United Health Care retired. His retirement package was $490 million! $490 Million! $490 MILLION! I hope my point is evident."
Unfortunately, you have just laid out an exceptional argument for evolution. If we were intelligently designed, we would be way less greedy and we would be able to do the best for the company and the people, instead of what's best for the CEO. But the head of the public option or national health system would also be human, so I see no inherent benefit."

I respond:
See my preceding comment.

United Healthcare is a private company governed by a board of directors and articles of incorporation, bi-laws, and policies . The board approves the compensation. The only external CHECK relative to EXCESSIVE EXPENSES are the shareholders.

But public agencies have more CHECKS on their actions, such as: 1) employees must act according to PUBLIC laws and regulations; 2) they are subject to Politics, 3) they may run afoul of an investigative press or a investigative blogger like Matt Drudge; 4) and don't forget about vigilant tort lawyers who need lawsuits, etc.

Your Second Argument:
You Quote:
"The Republicans agreed to require all individuals to have coverage and to provide subsidies where necessary to ensure that everyone can afford it. Most have agreed to require employers to contribute to the system and to pay workers wages equal to the amount the employer now contributes for health care."

I respond:

Group health insurance is a fringe benefit. Not all employers currently provide the benefit. They can't afford it. I know a young lady who works as a nanny for two sets of high income parents. She is paid an hourly rate with no benefits. She can't afford health insurance and earns too much to be eligible for the Ramsey county medical assistance. An employer (or those employing my nanny friend) reading your above quote would be wise NOW to not buy insurance for his employees.

Regarding the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, I agree that since the agencies are administered by human beings (who have flaws) they occasionally make mistakes. Citing one IRS error from your experience is anecdotal evidence and your argument is based on an over-generalization.

Your Third Argument:

My Response:

We agree that both public and private bureaucrats are corruptible. I think that we disagree with respect to the potential CHECKS on their actions. I contend (above) that their are more potential checks on the public bureaucrat. Accordingly, I think that the potential adverse effects ( your school teacher situation) are less in the public sector. I RESPECTFULLY SUGGEST THAT FAR MORE PRIVATE EMPLOYEES HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS IN THIS RECESSION THAN HAVE PUBLIC EMPLOYEES.

SUMMATION:

It is difficult for me to argue that the Healthy Americans Act is NOT the best plan because neither the Obama Administration nor the Congressional Democrats have decided upon a specific health reform bill (a bill sent out of the Senate/House conference committee) that is proposed for enactment into law by the Senate and House. I have nothing specific (coverage or costs) to base a claim of superiority upon.

If I understand the HAA accurately, it provides the following:
1. High income employee with employer provided health insurance - He gets an enhanced standard health deduction even though he may not need it.
2. Low income uninsured employee - he gets a voucher to purchase insurance.
3. NO income uninsured person - he gets a voucher to purchase insurance.

Employees 2 and 3 are receiving an entitlement ( I receive two entitlements, Social Security and Medicare - expensive entitlement programs that are running out of funding under current law)

I think it is significant that you have not been able to cite an estimated total cost for the HAA.

Finally, you have the burden of persuasion. I think that you needed to show certain elements of the HAA that were better than the comparable elements under either single payer or public option plans. But there is no such plan or plans to run a comparative analysis. Except the Canadian single payer plan.

I wrote:
"Here is the link to the article about the Canadian system that I'm relying upon: http://www.twincities.com...... I hope it works"

You responded:
"Your link did work this time. I will not deny any claims in the link because it was factual,"

I respectfully submit that your concession amounts to a concession that the FACTUAL Canadian system is superior to the SPECULATIVE Healthy Americans Act.

Further, thus, you have not met your burden of persuasion.

Finally, I respectfully suggest that before voting interested parties should read the articles cited by Abard and me. Abard's article http://www.washingtonpost.com... . Mine is at twincities. com just above. Both articles are brief.

Abard, I've enjoyed our debate, which is my first. I didn't debate in high school or college. I was a jock in the former and I partied and chased girls in the latter institution.

Thanks for taking it easy on an old fart. Tom
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Congratulations, Tom. It seems, though, that the healthcare plain is decided, and neither of us got what we wanted :-). Oh, well.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
No, I'm for the HAA, which is not UHC. You can keep your insurance company, but pay a whole lot less for it!
Posted by Rezzealaux 7 years ago
Rezzealaux
Wait what? We got two UHC advocates fighting each other instead?

major disappointments.
Posted by Rezzealaux 7 years ago
Rezzealaux
And the population will just roll over and go "hur hur hur cheap food gunna buy me some" while ignoring all the greedy media people who want to get ratings by revealing that there is some crazy stuff going on at the packaging comany.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Except the companies who choose to bypass the whole test, providing for cheapER, albeit potentially poisonous food.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
Volkov, because of liability, companies will seek to have their food and medicine tested privately, which would give birth to more efficient innovation and cheaper food/medication.
Posted by abard124 7 years ago
abard124
Without the FDA, we would basically be screwed. Companies aren't as honest as they used to be. They can sell us right crap, and without the FDA, you'd be buying right crap. Not to say we don't, but at least it's non-lethal crap. I actually favor more control from the FDA, including adding insoluble chemicals to the nutrition facts. Sorry Aspartame, but your time is up.
Posted by mongoose 7 years ago
mongoose
No, because having an agency that makes it take forever to get life-saving drugs on the market, and increases their prices when they are there, is bad.
Posted by Volkov 7 years ago
Volkov
FDA - Because having an agency that makes sure food isn't tainted with BSE, and medicines aren't going to cause people to have heart attacks (or at least warn if they will), and keeping a general eye on the safety of Americans is bad.
Posted by mongeese 7 years ago
mongeese
Agree with both of them.

I used to actually think we needed some sort of FDA. Stupid propaganda.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by dogparktom 7 years ago
dogparktom
abard124dogparktomTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by rayedawg2013 7 years ago
rayedawg2013
abard124dogparktomTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:07 
Vote Placed by tmhustler 7 years ago
tmhustler
abard124dogparktomTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by KeithKroeger91 7 years ago
KeithKroeger91
abard124dogparktomTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60