Daines on Health Care Reform: Zero Credibility

During this evening’s political debate for Montana’s at-large Congressional seat, Steve Daines7C1415E20835F0C40FEB24BB8671EB09_292_292 demonstrated that he has absolutely zero credibility when it comes to the most important domestic facing the nation, health care.

Daines, like all good members of the TEA Party, would repeal the Affordable Care Act. This decision would immediately have the following impacts:

  • It would cause a net increase in federalbudget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013–2022 period (according to the CBO)
  • Over 1.2 million young adults would lose their insurance coverage through their parents’ health plans.
  • 44.1 million seniors in the United States who have Medicare coverage would be forced to pay a co-pay to receive important preventive services, like mammograms and colonoscopies.

And that’s just the immediate cost. The long-term drain on the American economy from millions uninsured would be devastating.

As foolish as repealing the Affordable Care Act would be, the real absurdity of Daines’s position became clear when he was pressed for an alternative. He offered the conservative trifecta of tort reform, portability of insurance, and affordability.

His answer? The response of man who doesn’t understand the health care system or the struggles families face to provide care.

Tort reform is nothing more than a conservative fantasy. As Tom Baker, professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law has noted, full tort reform would do almost nothing to solve the increasing costs of health care:

According to the actuarial consulting firm Towers Perrin, medical malpractice tort costs were $30.4 billion in 2007, the last year for which data are available. We have a more than a $2 trillion health care system. That puts litigation costs and malpractice insurance at 1 to 1.5 percent of total medical costs. That’s a rounding error. Liability isn’t even the tail on the cost dog. It’s the hair on the end of the tail.

Portability will do nothing for the millions who lack health insurance and little for those who have defined plans as a part of their job.

As for affordability, Daines offered the answer of a man who doesn’t understand how health care or markets work. He suggested that “hospitals could provide charitable care” and that we could educate consumers do use primary care rather than expensive emergency room services.

Daines is wrong, wrong wrong on health care. He’s wrong when he supports cutting millions of young adults from insurance plans, wrong when he supports ending Medicare, and wrong when he supports “affordability” measures that will bankrupt families facing medical costs.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Everything you need to know about Daines is summed up in this comment.
    When asked further how to pay for those who have big medical bills and no health insurance, Daines and Kaiser suggested that local charities could take care of the problem.

    • Stevey wonder Daines, MINI MITT! THE TWIT! Never has a twit been so far removed from reality! Take some CHICKENS with ya next time ya go to the doc, and tell’em that you want to barter!


      The teatard health care plan!

      Mini Mitt, the twit.

  • In no less than 19 separate occasions the POTUS has proclaimed that with his plan HC ins. costs will DECREASE by 2500 dollars/family/year.

    Quote: “John Merline over at Investor’s Business Daily reports that the new Kaiser Family Foundation employee benefits survey reveals that employer-based health insurance premiums have risen a whopping 9.5% in 2011 and another 4.5% so far in 2012, due in large part to the insurance “reforms” of Obamacare such as mandatory coverage of kids to age 26, mandatory loss ratios of 85%+, mandatory free preventive care, etc. So much for President Obama’s pledge to cut health insurance premiums by $2,500 in his first term.

    Even worse news? Premium increases will skyrocket in 2014, when the (most expensive) remainder of Obamacare health insurance “reforms” kick in, including the mandate to buy health insurance, elimination of annual and lifetime coverage caps, mandatory community rating bands and prohibition of the use of pre-existing conditions for underwriting.”

    • I hate it when you are wrong and right at once, as your eyes automatically gravitate to the place where you are right. So I’ll skip that.

      Obama has an advantage in that he addressed a real problem, but he only pretended to solve it. He said “you’re without insurance” and his solution was “I therefore force you to buy insurance from people who support my political campaigns.”

      The real answer … bypass private health insurance and simply give health care to one another … not offered by either party. Consequently, you and Don square off in corners, and the problem stands.

      • Saw this over a Doug Ross and thought of our past arguments Mark.

        “To get a sense for the problem with trying to cover preexisting conditions, picture the following scenario:

        Lindsey Lohan (not the actress, some other made up person) crashes her $106,000 Porsche 911 into a school-bus while drinking from a flask of vodka and texting. Before the police can show up, she purchases full automobile coverage and a $15 million umbrella liability policy from Flo (not the Progressive spokesperson, some other made up insurance pitchman). Moments after getting her policies, she calls the insurer’s Claims Department to begin collecting.

        Whatever you call that kind of “underwriting”, it has nothing at all to do with “insurance”. In fact, it’s specifically designed to bankrupt insurers and move the country to a Soviet-style, single-payer system.”

        • Preexisting conditions are only a problem in for-profit health care. The concept is not hard to understand. The term is misapplied in private health insurance and is not at all described in your example. They prostituted it to mean denial of coverage to anyone who they thought might not be profitable.

        • First of all, Ingy, your metaphor is flawed. The whole point of the individual mandate that you find unconstitutional and Mark finds corrupt is to prevent exactly this situation – I can’t go buy health insurance right before my heart transplant, because I’m required to carry it from the the time I turn 25. Now, this doesn’t solve the basic problem that a heart transplant costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but it does mean that somebody besides the hospital will end up paying for it. As to driving private insurers bankrupt, again, remember individual mandate. Those will pre-existing conditions will be balanced by healthy people who don’t want to buy insurance but will have to do so.

          The bigger problem is – if not this, then what is your solution to health care? Mark is right that a single-payer system would be much cheaper and more efficient, but what about you? Keep going the way they are, where every time someone with diabetes or heart problems goes in to the hospital, the hospital itself foots the bill because those people couldn’t buy insurance? You want to keep paying the highest costs in the world while getting some of the worst outcomes of any country of comparable wealth? I’m starting to doubt your business acumen if you think that’s a good strategy.

          • Two possibilities: One, Obama never intended to support single payer or a public option, and lied about the latter while campaigning. Two, upon election he realized the immense power of AHIP and PHrMA, and decided not to fight them, but instead to garner the best deal possible.

            In either case, we end up with health care as proscribed by PHrMA and AHIP. I have not seen anything about Obama to indicate that he is anything g but a Trojan Horse for the neocons. But in either case, in health care, we lose. One is actually corrupt, two is identical to actual corruption. The difference is academic.

            • It is not inherently corrupt to support a major industry in one’s country – it’s called state capitalism, and you’ll recall that you support it in other countries.

              Now, that said, I do think it’s inefficient and ultimately tragic that the healthcare reform bill didn’t include a public option or move us towards single payer (though Ingy’s source apparently thinks that it did just that, in a sneaky way). However, as I’ve said before, it gives us the tools to ameliorate the healthcare situation: control of the MLR, the ability to mandate that companies supply coverage, etc. But the healthcare law that passed did so only just barely (and was only barely ruled constitutional), and it’s not as if there were liberal senators waiting to vote for it if only it included a public option. Simply put, no president could have fixed healthcare in one go with those Senators, and with the electorate we have distributed in the way they are with the constitution we have, there was essentially no chance to elect a senate amenable to a single-payer system. The fact that this president and this Senate managed to extend a healthcare plan implemented by one of our most liberal states to the entire nation is rather amazing.

              If single payer is such an easy sell, why hasn’t it been implemented in Massachusetts or Oregon? Single payer is a massive societal shift, and it’s a bit unreasonable to expect that it will be implemented nationally in one fell swoop.

              • You continually confuse our top-down political system with self-government. I’ve seen this countless times, even stating that the filibuster is a result of electoral politics. This is our central disagreement – I say that the public is manipulated by power, you that power is somehow serving the will of the public. I find your position unsupported by evidence.

                For example, the public does not finance campaigns except to a small degree, and not in such a way that a spattering of small contribution exerts any force of of collective will. On the other hand, large money centers both finance campaigns and monitor the activities of politicians. You say that the guiding force of politicians are the votes and the smattering of $20 checks. Your opinions smack of willful self deceit or profound illusion.

                • Mark –

                  Find me 30 States where the public was clearly in favor of single-payer health care, and I’ll concede that Barack Obama should have done a better job on health care. But monied interests do not just fund campaigns, they also directly impact public perceptions and opinion. Not voting for Democrats because they by and large faithfully represent an electorate whose opinion is shaped by what they see on TV is not going to solve that.

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