Vol. 4    No. 16
August 6, 2009 Archives

2009 Production Schedule

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Claire G. Mendoza
  It’s hard to turn the television on these days without seeing an ad about the current health care reform debate.
The ads have been using some pretty shrill tactics that hardly inform the viewer. In seems as if they have been
designed to confuse the viewer or at least give him or her a big headache so that they tune out of the debate.
It appears that the shrillness is working. In a recent poll, 52 percent of Americans were found to disapprove of the
way that President Obama has handled the health care reform issue while 39 percent approve. There is a lot of
money involved in leaving the health care mess the way it is. $2.5 trillion — the amount we spend on health care
each year — is a lot of money and there will be winners and losers if health care reform is passed. Apparently,
there are some people who aren’t going down without a fight.
   I know that I am one small business person who needs health care reform desperately. The cost of my present
premium is about 45 percent of my gross salary. And I heard through the grapevines that we are to expect about a
nine percent increaser next year. Can you believe it? A nine percent increase during a time when we have had
almost deflation in this country. Due to the recession, I know that I will have to freeze my ad process at 2009
levels because that is the way it is during a recession. And yet I may be facing a nine percent increase. That’s
   I will probably have to join the ranks of over 46 million other people in this country — and I’m sure the number
is climbing every day — who don’t have health insurance. I’m lucky to be healthy, but one never knows how long
that lucky streak will last.
   These spiraling costs reflect capitalism at its worse. This unfettered health insurance market keeps pricing
more and more people out of the market, who then have to use the most expensive forms of health care — the
emergency room — to survive. This in turn forces another round of increases to cover the costs of those people
while millions of others find out they are effectively uninsured because of clauses in their contracts that prohibit
pre-existing conditions, “experimental” procedures, “diagnostic” as opposed to preventative tests and so on.
Now I know that health care reform is not going to solve everything. I don’t expect my premiums to go down after
reform is passed. But I do expect that my rate of increase will go down dramatically so that the percent of our
economy spent on health care remains roughly 15 percent.
   In order to be assured that health care reform is really happening as opposed to the health care powers that be
bending with the wind before snapping the present system back in place once the winds of health care change
stop blowing; I feel we need a strong public option. That’s right, I feel there is a role for the federal government to
play in the financing of health care. The federal government does a pretty decent job with Medicare and I
understand that the administrative costs are around 3-8 percent, depending on which costs one is considering.
This number in most analyses is lower than the private sector.
   What I like about the strong public option is that it is public. All of its records are open to public inspection. The
process is relatively transparent. And I as a voter and citizen have more control or influence over my health care
than I do as a private citizen. I know some would disagree, but that is how I feel.
   I believe that an efficiently-run public option will keep costs down. I can’t help but wonder how a health care
provider is already anticipating that costs will go up by nine percent. I sometimes wonder what role trade journals
play in the rise of health insurance costs. In the old days of anti-trust, large players in an industry would physically
get together to collude on setting prices thereby effectively eliminating competition. Nowadays, it seems that the
speculation in trade journals has the same effect. Educated individuals speculate on what the price is going to be
and it gives the companies a target for their price increases. Again, market forces are muted.
   I can’t say if the level and quality of care will go up with a public option. I would hope that health care reform
will create an even playing field as it relates to how pre-existing conditions are handled. I would hope that health
care reform will lead to less paper work on the part of the physicians, nurses and other health care professional
who are involved and allow them to focus more on quality patient care regardless of where the insurance comes
   A strong public option will be a plus for the health care industry. It will keep the for-profit insurers honest in their
yearly increases. It will help introduce innovations in health care management. And while you can’t believe
everything the federal government tells you, I believe a lot more of it than I do the shrill, fear mongering television
commercials. A lot more information and less shouting please!

Debate over health care reform heats up
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                           A public option is a must!


Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Heidi Manabat
Managing Editor

Clarita G. Mendoza
Sales Manager

Contributing Writers
Paul Barrows, Alfonso Zepeda
Capistran, Fabu, Andrew
Gramling, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Heidi Pascual, Jessica
Pharm, Laura Salinger, Jessica
Strong, & Martinez White

Heidi @