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This Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 12:30PM on KERA, Channel 13, the  McCuistion Program focuses on the final episode of a six-part series – 20 Years of McCuistion: Healthcare and Wellness.

In the last 20 years, healthcare has gone from being a personal issue to a public policy debate that has Americans divided.

This 20 year retrospective features various controversial views:  liberal,  conservative and libertarian. You’ll want to tune in to get a rational perspective on a national furor that impacts 17% of our GDP.

We encourage you to view all McCuistion TV episodes, where you can both watch the videos and interact with the McCuistion team and other viewers.  You can also follow McCuistion TV on Twitter.

Join us this Sunday as we talk about things that matter… with people who care.

BP gears up for two-phase effort to plug Gulf oil well

One of two efforts to seal the ruptured BP oil well in the Gulf once and for all could begin as early as Monday night, officials said.

The “static kill” involves pouring mud and cement into the well from above — a process that had been delayed while debris from a tropical storm was cleared out.

“I do have a lot of confidence we’ll be successful,” Doug Suttles, the oil giant’s chief operating officer, said Sunday.

China’s Geely Completes Volvo Buy

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Geely on Monday completed its purchase of Ford Motor Co’s Volvo unit, marking China’s biggest acquisition of a foreign car maker and reflecting the nation’s rapid rise in the auto world.

Zhejiang Geely, parent of Hong Kong-listed Geely Automobile <0175.HK> said on Monday it paid $1.3 billion in cash and issued a $200 million loan note to Ford. That represents $300 million less than the earlier headline of $1.8 billion, but Ford said it would get a further “true-up” payment later in the year.

With the deal now done, the real challenge for Geely will lie ahead as it aims to restore Volvo to long-term profits. Volvo Cars posted revenue of $12.4 billion in 2009 by selling 334,000 cars, but it recorded a pretax loss of $653 million.

Obamacare Only Looks Worse Upon Further Review: Kevin Hassett

One of the more illuminating remarks during the health-care debate in Congress came when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told an audience that Democrats would “pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.”

That remark captured the truth that, while many Americans have a vague sense that something bad is happening to their health care, few if any understand exactly what the law does.

To fill this vacuum, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the top House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, asked his staff to prepare a study of the law, including a flow chart that illustrates how the major provisions will work.

Health Care Bill Gets Plug from Andy Griffith

Here are two indisputable facts: on July 30, 1965, the Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular television shows being broadcast at the time. And, on that same date President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965, which introduced the nation to a new program called Medicare. The first two social security card recipients were Harry and Bess Truman.

So, it seems fitting that Andy Griffith, now most certainly the age of many Medicare recipients, is a spokesperson for Medicare’s $700,000 ad campaign, preceding the open enrollment period by several months.

In today’s news we provide links to the White House social secretary’s departure, health care and the stock market.


White House social secretary Rogers leaving: aide

Rogers is personally close to first lady Michelle Obama and is part of a group of Chicagoans who came to Washington with President Barack Obama.

The official had no further details on Rogers’ departure.


Race to Pin Blame For Health Costs

A battle over who to blame for rising health-care costs is escalating, as groups seek to pin the problem on each other and say none of the health-care legislation under consideration does enough to solve it.

U.S. spending on health care reached $2.5 trillion in 2009, according to federal estimates. It is expected to jump to $4.5 trillion in 10 years.

Obama Shows Testy Side at Health Care Summit

Of all the hats President Obama tried on at Thursday’s seven-and-a-half-hour health care summit, it appeared the one he was most comfortable wearing was that of the prickly professor.

In between playing the roles of moderator and deal-maker, the president took several opportunities to dress down his classroom of Republican critics. Through a series of awkward clashes between him and the Republicans, the summit may have served more to portray Republicans as intransigents intent on stonewalling a bill no matter what, than it served to pave the way for a compromise.


US HOT STOCKS: CKE Restaurants, AIG, Gap, Athenahealth, DTS

U.S. stocks rose Friday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 10 points to 10331, the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 1.5 points to 1104 and the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 3.3 points to 2237. Among the companies whose shares are actively trading are CKE Restaurants Inc. (CKR), American International Group Inc. (AIG) and Gap Inc. (GPS).

Private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners has agreed to take private CKE Restaurants (CKR, $11.13, +$2.22, +24.92%) for about $619 million, but the company will have six weeks to find a higher offer. The deal comes as the parent of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains has struggled, especially with Carl’s Jr. In the four weeks ended Jan. 25, same-store sales at Carl’s Jr. slid 9%. CKE has been averse to the deep discounting that some rivals have been doing to prevent sales declines. Rival restaurant owners Jack in the Box Inc. (JACK, $21.13, +$0.80, +3.94%) and Sonic Corp. (SONC, $8.49, +$0.15, +1.80%) also rose.

Obama's Health Care Plan - SpeechIn an effort to continue the discussion on health care, while still refraining from bias, today’s post is meant to present to you the other side of the issue.

What are those that are opposed to the points of Obama’s health plan saying?

All points have not been addressed as the controversial nature of the discussion is continually evolving. However, the goal of this post is to give you another snap shot of some of the things that the opposing side is saying, so that when you are engaging in discussions and presenting your opinion, you have information to back your stance, whichever side you may choose.

According to the September 15, 2009 Rasmussen Presidential Tracking Poll, Obama’s ratings after his health care plan speech reflected that 42% support the plan, where 55% are opposed to the plan, an increase in opposition from the 53% last week.  According to the same report,

“Following the speech last Wednesday night intended to relaunch the health care initiative, support for the president’s effort bounced as high as 51%. But the new numbers suggest that support for health care reform is now about the same as it was in August.”

With the promises of the plan that were outlined in yesterday’s post, “Obama’s Health Care Plan: Snap Shot of the Points of President Obama’s Speech,” there are concerns that are being raised by those on the other side.  Today we will focus on some of the specific concerns where we’ll be linking back and quoting several sources.

Issue 1:  The Exchange

President Obama’s health care plan includes a type of government insurance plan or a co-op (the Exchange) that will make it more financially feasible for  businesses and individuals to purchase insurance. The concern  that is raised from those that oppose this plan is that it would eventually drive private insurers from the market, thus offering fewer insurance options.

Public opinion polls suggest that many consumers would like to have the choice of a public plan. But insurance companies and Republican lawmakers say a public plan could drive private insurers out of business and lead eventually to a single-payer system run by the government….Republicans and business groups attacked the bill, which they said cost too much and would discourage small businesses from hiring (New York Times).

Issue 2: Freedom to choose your own insurance plan.

According to CNNMoney.com, with the way the plan is structured the government will dictate the minimum list of benefits.

“Today, many states require these ‘standard benefits packages’ — and they’re a major cause for the rise in health-care costs.

The bills would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to add to the list of required benefits, based on recommendations from a committee of experts. Americans, therefore, wouldn’t even know what’s in their plans and what they’re required to pay for, directly or indirectly, until after the bills become law.”

Issue 3: Consumer driven market in jeopardy.

No longer will the healthy be rewarded for healthy lifestyles and no longer will bargain accounts, such as Health Savings Accounts (HSA) be what they are today. Instead all patients will pay the same rates no matter their particular health condition or age.  Thus, those that are younger and typically have lower incomes, will be paying significantly more for their health costs than they actually use, where those that are older and can afford to pay more will not have to pay any more for their health costs, when they are utilizing more services.

The concern is that the market is driven by the consumer. The argument the opposing side presents is:

The bills threaten to eliminate the one part of the market truly driven by consumers spending their own money. That’s what makes a market, and health care needs more of it, not less.

Issue 4: Pre-existing conditions claims are not straight-forward.

According to a Fox News article, there are disclaimers within the bill that denote that the pre-existing conditions claims come with contingencies. For the specific sections it references, visit the full article on pre-existing conditions. The two portions this article expounds on are:

“Policy writers for the government will be allowed to make the insurance you buy cover certain ailments, and not cover others (one of which may be a condition you happen to have, which is pre-existing)…

Policy writers for the government will be allowed to limit the amount, level, extent, or nature of the treatment you get for certain ailments (one of which may be your pre-existing condition).

So who will be writing your insurance policy?  According to the President’s plan, a new bureaucracy known as the ‘Health Benefits Advisory Committee.’  It will be made up of 27 people…”

Issue 5: Over ten years the health premium revenue will garner $1 trillion dollars.

“Industry representatives counter that, even if insurers take in more money than they pay out, profit margins are so thin that additional taxes and fees would wind up being passed on to policyholders.

Yet another late complication, according to several Democrats, is the president’s statement that he will not sign a bill ‘if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period. And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize.’

The $900 billion target is ‘very difficult,’ Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters. ‘This is reducing coverage for poor and working people.'”

In Closing

These quoted items are simply the statements presented by the opposing side.  The health care plan is still under revisions and even today the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus released his $856 billion health care plan.  As always your comments are welcome and any links or additional information you’d like to share is encouraged.

As always, we’re talking about things that matter… with people who care.

Photo Credit: The Daily Contributor

Obama's Health Care Plan SpeechHealth care reform is the hot topic right now as the Obama Administration has begun an aggressive push toward reform.  In an effort to keep you informed on the simple, straightforward facts, this initial post on health care pulls key points from President Obama’s speech and condenses the information for a quick, unbiased overview of the intentions of Obama’s Health Care Plan.

This is intended to be a discussion, so please also leave your comments and any links to additional information that you feel will benefit all readers in the pursuit of fully understanding the issues at hand.

President Obama’s Speech on Health Care

During President Obama’s speech he outlined the specifics of the health care plan. He addressed some of the controversies surrounding the plan and below are the main points.  Again, this is an unbiased post where we are simply bullet-pointing portions of the speech for quick reference for those that are interested.

Diversity in the Types of Health Care Options Available

President Obama’s health care plan does not automatically lump everyone into the same health care plan. Rather, there are allowances for those that already have insurance and those that do not.

For those that have insurance they will be allowed to keep the insurance that they are either paying for out-of-pocket, or their employer is providing for them.  However, with the reform, they will have more stability and security as the plan will ensure that the insurance will work better for them. It will do this in the following ways:

  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
  • Insurance companies can no longer refuse or drop coverage when you need it.
  • There will be a cap placed on out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Insurance companies will be required to cover routine checkups and preventative care with no additional charge.

For those that do not have health insurance the second part of Obama’s health care plan will offer financially affordable options for health insurance coverage. It will do so in the following ways:

  • Creation of  a new insurance exchange.  The exchange is “a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices.”
  • Tax credits will be available to individuals and small businesses that are still not able to afford health insurance at the exchange.

Other Key Points of the Plan

  • The plan won’t go into effect for 4 years.
  • For those that can’t get insurance in the interim, due to pre-existing conditions, there will be an immediate solution for low-cost coverage for those people.
  • Every individual will be required to carry basic health insurance and businesses will be required to offer health care or financial assistance toward health care for all their employees.  This is to make sure that the plan will in fact pay for itself in the long-run.   There will be a hardship waiver that will be offered when appropriate.
  • Medicare and Medicaid benefits will not be taken away.
  • There will be a significant increase in accountability for insurance companies.

Fiscal Deficit

Health care represents 1/6 of the economy and reforming health care will also aid in lowering the national deficit. The administration asserts that the savings that they’ll be able to find through the reforms of the plan will in fact pay for itself.

Closing Thoughts

This post is intended to simply summarize the main points of Obama’s health care plan and the President’s speech on health care reform with absolutely no bias attached. There are obviously controversial opinions on this topic, as there was even a member of the audience during the speech that yelled out “Liar!” Our intention with this post is to offer you a quick reference point to what the plan is so you have a foundation to build on as you are deciding your opinion on this issue.

Source: Obama’s Health Care Plan

Photo Credit: ListOwn.com

Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute joins Dennis McCuistion and marketing consultant, Terry Brock, at Freedom Fest.  Michael Tanner presents his perspectives on the Obama health care plan.

Michael Tanner presently heads research into a variety of domestic policies with a particular emphasis on health care reform, social welfare policy, and Social Security. His most recent book, Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution (2007), chronicles the demise of the Republican Party as it has shifted away from its limited government roots and warns that reform is necessary.

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Under his direction, Cato launched the Project on Social Security Choice, widely considered the leading impetus for transforming the soon-to-be-bankrupt system into a private savings program. Time Magazine calls Tanner, “one of the architects of the private accounts movement,” and Congressional Quarterly named him one of the nation’s five most influential experts on Social Security.

According to Michael, the Obama health care plan is,

“essentially government taking over 1/6 of the US economy. Government would then control some of the most personal and private information. Government would tell us what type of insurance to buy, the benefits we would have, how doctors have to practice medicine, and what employees have to carry. It’s top down command and control economics. The Government plan is subsidized by the taxpayer so it can always have lower premiums and higher benefits… You can’t compete against an entity backed by government. That’s like competing against the Mafia.”

Join in for more of Mr. Tanner’s outspoken and cutting edge views on the Obama health care plan. And as always thanks for watching as we talk about things that matter with people who care.

Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Executive Producer/ Producer