Health Care Reform, One Little Sting At A Time




Every day a little sting
In the heart and in the head
Every move and every breath
And you hardly feel a thing
Brings a perfect little death

A Little Night Music, Steven Sondheim


Last month Congressional Democrats passed an unwanted health care reform bill and  Barack Obama signed it into law. They created and pushed this “reform” ‘ despite the objections of most of their constituents.

Americans know the bill is a fiscal sham, and for those of us who already have health care insurance, we expect our quality of care to decline and costs to rise. Insured working people will  face a slow torture of little cuts —  too small to cause an uproar, almost too tiny to notice. But the pain has already started; the Body American has begun to falter. Average people are beginning to hurt.

Some recent examples from my life:

  1. My eighty-year-old parents suddenly face a big increase in their Medicare Part D costs. They take a lot of pills every day. Now their savings are diminishing faster.
  2. My employer announced, per SEC rules, a new, multi-million charge against earnings. This is caused by the health care reform tax changes for retiree coverage. Who gets hurt here?

    • At first it will be the shareholders and pension funds, perhaps YOUR pension fund or your 401K, that get less investment income. Hundreds of companies  will be paying less dividends.
    • Shortly therafter, we  can expect companies to reduce or eliminate any prior obligation to their retirees; it will be too expensive to cover them.
    • But it’s the employees at the companies who are cringing right now. We know companies never just absorb a cost, they will take it out of the bottom line by reducing hiring, or worse, current headcount. People are going to lose their jobs.
  3. Last week I had my annual physical. I had three blood tests, the same ones I get every year: PSA, TSH, and cholesterol. My cost is $189. The cost per test went up 50% and there were were new fees.  I can only guess the reason: new taxes from Obamacare and the new costs to cover the millions of new people; my HMO must raise its rates on me to pay them. I’ve decided to skip these tests from now on; I’m not spending that much money for a routine test.

  4. And yesterday I saw this at Gold’s Gym:


    Two health insurance companies were no longer subsiding a wellness program with Gold’s. These are programs that reimburse people if they attend a gym a minimum number times a month. It’s suddenly become too expensive. Many people, no doubt the elderly and overweight, will probably stop coming to the gym and may even cancel their memberships if they must pay full cost. Gold’s will  lose business or lay off employees  to keep a profitable bottom line.


No one has died from ObamaCare. Yet. That will take years. Just some bruises and cuts for years to come.

And we will weaken, tire and fade.


Every move and every breath
And you hardly feel a thing
Brings a perfect little…


Kill The Bill Rally, 2010-March-13




Yesterday I went to an Obamacare health care protest called “Kill The Bill’ at the Minnesota State Capitol. The cold, breezy day did not daunt the thousands of protesters who came with their signs. There were speakers, too, including conservative blogger, Ed Morrissey, and U.S. congresswoman, Michele Bachmann. The rally was supposed to last one hour but it went beyond two.


  • This event was quite dissimilar to  the Al Franken pro-Obamacare rally I went to last month. Oh, the format was nearly the same: signs, shouting, speeches by local politicos leading up to a Featured Guest. But the differences between the two events were obvious:  Yesterday’s rally started with the Pledge Of Allegiance, the Franken rally did not; Bachmann, was very passionate and informed, whereas  Franken’s nasal ten-minute standup was something of a yawner; and, there were 4,000 people at the Kill The Bill Rally and maybe 300 at Franken’s pro-health care event. But the biggest contrast was the ANGER I saw at Kill The Bill. Franken’s rally tried to stir people against insurance companies, and it did to a degree, but on an emotional Richter scale it was maybe a 3.5. Kill The Bill was a boisterous 9.0.
  • There were children at the Kill The Bill Rally. Entire families were there.
  • Protesters brought many homemade signs.
  • Although this wasn’t an official Tea Party event, those people were certainly there. I saw the flags.
  • Some quotes from the speakers:
    • Bachmann: “No Congress in history has ever passed a law without voting on it.” She evoked Madison and Jefferson.
    • Bachmann: “This is a one-term presidency.” The crowd went wild.
    • Bachmann reminded the crowd “There’s one-party rule in Washington.” The allusions to the USSR were inescapable.
    • Bachmann: “You can hear the bones breaking in Washington.”  She described the Democrat-on-Democrat  thuggery to force Pelosian capitulation. She also said Pelosi was threatening non-compliant Democrats with ethics violations, an “old trick.”
    • Another speaker: “Where are the Canadians going to go when Obama screws up health care?” Lots of laughter on this one.





  • This crowd wasn’t defeatist at all. They assume Obamacare will shatter in the next few weeks. But I’ll expect defiance and retaliation if it doesn’t. Bachmann told the crowd that Obamacare’s passage without a roll call vote is patently illegal under the Constitution. She didn’t advise people to break the law, but this crowd doesn’t respect Obamacare, so disobedience is likely if it is signed.
  • Retaliation is likely, too, and when it comes, it will be ugly. The people in this crowd are fed up with Obama’s arrogance and patronizing dialogue. The message Americans sent, and continue to send to the Democrats is being ignored. “I’m not giving up and I’m not going home!” Resentment, fueled with anger leads to words like “evict” and “toss them out.”
  • Yet the undertone common to all the speeches and chants was plain old worry. Yesterday’s crowd knows Obamacare will fail… eventually. It knows this failure will be a malignant, drawn-out road to bankruptcy.
  • Obamacare looks more Soviet by the day. Socialism. Committees. Panels. Mandates. The crowd shouted “We want our sovereignty back!” for many minutes straight. Another worry.



I was cold, and after the mike was closed, I turned to go back to my car. I looked at the sky for assurance it wasn’t going to rain again. A large raptor flew in from the west, high above the dispersing crowd. “An eagle?” I thought. What a symbol to end the event! I hoped other people will notice it, too. The bird flew to the Capitol and landed on a ledge, facing the crowd. Then I saw that it wasn’t an eagle.

It was a big, broad-shouldered hawk.

Al Franken’s Health Care Rally, 2010-Feb-21




Today I went to a health care rally in Minneapolis. I decided to go so I could understand what liberals seek from health care reform, and why. So, I went as an observer and not a protester. No signs, no tea bags… just plain old, middle-aged me.


  • Liberals really, really HATE insurance companies and corporations in general. They actually believe insurance companies deny coverage and drive up the cost of health care because they’re greedy and cruel.
  • No mention was ever made of Obama’s 2009 quid pro quo with Big Pharma, Big Insurance and that Big Broker, the AARP.
  • Over, and over they chanted against Big Insurance. They were encouraged to frame all discussion points around ‘insurance companies’ when debating with normals.
  • They are still holding a torch for universal coverage. Yes, the impossible ‘46 million’ was brought up as well.



  • Franken tried to sway them away from single-payer, saying, “let’s not let the perfect kill the very, very good.” He did encourage their support by adding that the latest secret plan was the path to universal coverage. Franken held aloft a manila envelope containing the secretly negotiated House-Senate plan. It was an effective but amusing prop: the real health care plan is thousands of pages. Perhaps he should have wrapped a phone book in butcher paper and held that up, instead?
  • Franken also said Democrats were easing the tax burden on the ‘Cadillac’ plans and ramping up the costs for the “very, very rich.” Thunderous applause here.
  • The crowd was juiced up by ‘organizers’ (whatever those are), MoveOn types and handsome young liberal doctors. Franken appeared late, for all of ten minutes and then left.
  • At no time did this group talk about the COST for all this. I never heard ‘deficit.’ Also surprising was how little Obama’s name was mentioned.


  • There were some right-wing protesters outside, and a nervous man with a large ‘Obamacare’ sign appeared in the back. There was just a bit of yelling, but to the progressives’ credit, they calmed him down and engaged him in quiet discussion.



  • Keep. The. Message. Simple. It’s all the insurance companies’ fault! I don’t think the audience understands that it’s state and federal tinkering that causes problems for insurance companies, which must pass inefficiency and cost on to the insured.
  • It was obvious the Left was trying to drum up flagging support in the face of potential failure.
  • Rally attendees look exactly like the tea party people. Really. The audience was 95% white, well-off and 50ish. The also sound like tea party people, too. Not the things they said, of course, but the chanting and head shaking. Oh, there were a few more ponytails and the t-shirts had very different sayings. Believe it or not, here were actual ‘Wellstone!’ shirts.
  • Al Franken is really just a tired, short, fat man. Not a messiah. And not a person I can demonize.
  • I left with mixed feelings. This group’s passion equals the tea partiers’.  I just cannot see either finding a common cause. One side will lose the health care debate. The smaller side. I wish it wouldn’t be that way.
  • It’s sad this group is not willing to start over and let other Americans help frame the solution. “It’s our time!” really means “now or never.” Pity.