Howard Dean’s Changing Goal Posts


Earlier today Ezra Klein noted that today Howard Dean believes that any health care reform plan which doesn’t include a strong pubic plan is inadequate but that his plan when running for the Democratic nomination in 2004 did not contain a public plan. Very true. I’ve pointed this out myself a few times, including this post from July:

Howard Dean is also upset about the proposed compromise saying, “This bill is going to cost us a lot of money and it isn’t going to do anything, if this so-called compromise is true.” This is rather puzzling as, even with such compromises, the currently proposed legislation goes much further than the health care plan he proposed while running for the Democratic nomination in 2004. Is he then saying that the health care plan which he ran on would do nothing?

Update: Matthew Yglesias posts essentially the same thing–still way behind me. 🙂 (I did steal the above graphic from his post).

Update II: Also keep in mind that France, which by most measures has the best health care system in the world, does not have a public plan. To advocate for a public plan is one thing, but it is absurd to claim that it is not possible to have a worthwhile plan which does not include a public plan. Many countries successfully provide universal coverage with regulated private insurance plans.

Sexy Doctor Picture

It is often amusing to check the search terms which bring people to the blog from search engines. I just noticed a search for “sexy doctor.” I had to check and see what that led to. Could it be that a Google search for “sexy doctor” brought up a picture of me? Nope, it was a combination of a picture of David Tennant (Doctor Who) and news about Dirty Sexy Money in the same post. I have always liked that shirt of his.

Two Real Human X-Men Found: Mutants With Extraordinary Ability

The New York Times reports on a gene mutation which has given two humans an extraordinary power–the ability to survive with less sleep. Ying-Hui Fu, co-author of the study, is looking for benefits which might arise from this mutation:

Dr. Fu said her “fantasy” was that the finding might eventually lead to a safe treatment for people who wanted or needed more awake hours and were looking for a way to get by on less sleep without harming their health.

There is no word as to whether the two mutants who were discovered will receive training from Professor Xaviar to use their powers for the benefit of humanity. If nothing else, they might make great medical residents if they can really survive without much sleep.

So far there has not been panic seen in the general public over the news of mutants living among us but some executives at Starbucks are nervous over the prospect of humanity being genetically engineered to require less sleep.

Poll Shows There Aren’t Many Liberals in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Oregon

Conservatives are once again likely to be excited by a Gallup poll showing more people call themselves conservative than liberal. Once again it is more a reflection of how people feel about the labels than saying anything about their actual positions. Increasingly polls show that people support the liberal position on many issues. In general voters are voting for more liberal candidates and against the more conservative candidates. They still do call themselves conservatives. The right can have that victory.

The state by state breakdown in the latest poll shows how little this means. Check out the top liberal states:

top liberal states

From the looks of this, there aren’t all that many liberals even in Massachusetts–a state where I believe there is mandatory tar-and-feathering for anyone expressing conservative beliefs.  It sure doesn’t look like a poll on self-identification as a liberal has much bearing on how liberal a state actually is.

In contrast, conservative numbers are higher in red states but even there self-identified conservatives make up less than half of those responding.

I imagine that, due to the manner in which conservatives have been successful in demonizing the word liberal, we will see such low results in polls for a long time. This will eventually change. As I noted back in June, polls also show that the dislike of the liberal label does not extend to the young.

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Health Care in the U.K.

Terry Gallagher, a reader from England, responded in the comments of a recent post to the description of health care in the UK in Republican scare stories:

I am from the UK, specifically England, and, like most people on this side of ‘the pond’, we are amazed at the Republican comments being issued about the NHS in the UK. Quite frankly, they are simply trying to mislead the American people with a load of complete lies.

There is no ageism in the NHS – people in their 80’s and 90’s get heart surgery provided, and this is the only proviso, that they are well enough for the surgery. Anyone who is so ill that they are almost certain to die on the table will be told this and offered alternative care.

I can see my doctor in an emergency (and by the way, house visits are still done in the UK when the patient is too ill to get to the surgery or has swine flu!) and be admitted by ambulance straight from the doctor’s surgery if that is the need. No wasting time or waiting lists there! For non urgent cases, we have a guarantee of 18 weeks from seeing the GP to the actual definitive treatment (surgery if a surgical referral or starting the treatment if a medical referral) This includes all the outpatient consultations and necessary medical scans, MRI, CT, PET scans, echo cardiograms or whatever is necessary.

On one occasion, I was in hospital having tests for a problem which suddenly became acute. At 715pm on the Saturday evening, I was hurting so much, despite the pain relief, I asked the nurse to see the doctor. The on-call doctor came at 7.20 and didn’t lik the look of me, so called the on-call colo-rectal surgeon. He arrived at 7.30 and decided to operate. Because of grade 4 difficult intubation, the Professor of Anaesthetics at the attached medical school was summoned form home and by 8.00pm I was in theatre having my colon removed – having suddenly developed toxic megacolon. Now can one complain about that?

As a patient with two ostomies (although one is enough!) I get all my prescriptions free of charge. Also children of school age, those with certain long term medical conditions pregnant women and six months after the birth of their child, the over 60’s and those on low incomes all get free prescriptions too. Those who have to pay for their prescriptions (about 1/5 of the total!)can buy a season ticket (at around £100 per year) which means they do not pay anything for individual prescriptions, no matter what the cost of medication.

I see my dentist every six months for a check up but can see her often the same day if I am in pain and there is an emergency service for overnight and weekends with instant access.

I do not think you have anything to fear from ’social medicine’ – rather the opposite where insurance companies decide what care you can or can’t receive, provided you can afford the co-pay, whereas here that decision is in the hands of the doctors who decide what needs to be done.

Like many in countries which do not have your system, we do not want to go down that road: we want to keep our social medicine because it works for the benefit of the patient, not the shareholders of the insurance companies.

Regardless of what one thinks of the system in the UK, it must also be kept in mind that a system such as this is not being proposed in the United States. The proposed system would vary greatly from the system in the UK, both in preserving private insurance coverage and in preserving the private practice of medicine.

Sarah Palin Used To Support “Death Panels” (If She Is Being Honest Today)

Add Sarah Palin to the list of Republicans who have flip-flopped on end of life counseling. Yesterday I noted that Newt Gingrich supported end of life counseling similar to that which is in the House health care reform bill in an article in July but now claims this would bring about “death panels.” Think Progress has found that Sarah Palin had endorsed this type of counseling back in April, 2008.

Either Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are former supporters of “death panels” or they are being dishonest now in claiming that this is what is contained in the House bill.

Think Progress also reports that Rudy Giuliani is the latest demagogic  Republican to claim that the bill will lead to “death panels.”

Republicans are willing to fabricate any claims in their attempts to stop health care reform. The fact that they resort to such fabrications rather than discussing the real content of the health reform legislation is good evidence that they realize the American people would never agree with the Republicans in an honest discussion of health care reform.