Thursday, July 30, 2009

Intellectual Dishonesty and HR 3200

Over the past few years I've learned a lot about logical fallacies and the use of intellectual dishonesty to push arguments for the existence of god or the truthfulness of religious texts. That knowledge has bled into every aspect of my life and I'm constantly hearing people use these tactics in day to day arguments, especially in politics.

I recently received an email listing lines in the bill HR 3200 (referred to as Obama's health care bill) and why what they are doing in the bill is horrible. I will provide the full text of the email at the end of this post. At first glance you can look at most of the statements and note the overt use of appeals to fear. So, I downloaded the bill and started going through each claim in the email and replying to the sender as to why the claim is false. I gave up after only a few lines because it became obvious how intellectually dishonest the author of the email was and I just didn't have that much time to refute each statement. I'm sure someone at is going over each of these right now. You can download the bill here (pdf).

I will list a few of my rebuttals in this post. But my fear is that this email, or one like it, will go viral and people will ONLY read the claims and not the original text. The end result of this type of viral email is that Americans will fear something for all the wrong reasons. If your position is to be against the bill you should have concrete claims to back up your stance. This email is not concrete.

Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!
So what does page 22 really say? We have to back up to page 21 where the sections starts. It discusses how rates for premiums are calculated. In figuring out what to charge they will study various types of insurance and compare employers who self insure with employers who purchase. The intent, as stated in the bill, is to ensure that there is neither an incentive created for employers to change to self-insured or to change the risk for large group insurers.
(1) STUDY.—The Commissioner, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Labor, shall conduct a study of the large group insured and self-insured employer health care markets. Such study shall examine the following:
(A) The types of employers by key characteristics, including size, that purchase insured products versus those that self-insure.
(B) The similarities and differences between typical insured and self-insured health plans.
(C) The financial solvency and capital reserve levels of employers that self-insure by employer size.
(D) The risk of self-insured employers not being able to pay obligations or otherwise becoming financially insolvent.
(E) The extent to which rating rules are likely to cause adverse selection in the large group market or to encourage small and mid size employers to self-insure
(2) REPORTS.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commissioner shall submit to Congress and the applicable agencies a report on the study conducted under
23 paragraph (1). Such report shall include any recommendations the Commissioner deems appropriate to ensure that the law does not provide incentives for small and mid-size employers to self-insure or create adverse selection in the risk pools of large group insurers and self-insured employers. Not later than 18 months after the first day of Y1, the Commissioner shall submit to Congress and the applicable agencies an updated report on such study, including updates on such recommendations.

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get
Pure and simple, all plans have a list of covered and non-covered items. Mine does, yours does. If you think not then read you policy. But the email is obviously written to scare people who view the government as an evil empire. I could be wrong, but I think this bill only lays out what the minimum benefits shall be, not the total benefits. You can have insurance plans that cover more. There is nothing about this that says anyone must take the minimum, just what the minimums shall be.
(1) IN GENERAL.—There is established a private-public advisory committee which shall be a panel of medical and other experts to be known as the Health Benefits Advisory Committee to recommend covered benefits and essential, enhanced, and premium plans.
Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!
The person who wrote the email either a) doesn't understand English or b) is intentionally telling a lie. Go to page 8 for the glossary of terms:
(4) COST-SHARING.—The term ‘‘cost-sharing’’ includes deductibles, coinsurance, copayments, and similar charges but does not include premiums or any network payment differential for covered services or spending for non-covered services.
Now, look at what the section talks about that the email writer calls rationed health care:
(1) NO COST-SHARING FOR PREVENTIVE SERVICES.—There shall be no cost-sharing under the essential benefits package for preventive items and services (as specified under the benefit standards), including well baby and well child care.
(A) ANNUAL LIMITATION.—The cost-sharing incurred under the essential benefits package with respect to an individual (or family) for a year does not exceed the applicable level specified in subparagraph (B).
(B) APPLICABLE LEVEL.—The applicable level specified in this subparagraph for Y1 is $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family. Such levels shall be increased (rounded to the nearest $100) for each subsequent year by the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (United States city average) applicable to such year.
(C) USE OF COPAYMENTS.—In establishing cost-sharing levels for basic, enhanced, and premium plans under this subsection, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent possible, use only copayments and not coinsurance.
(A) IN GENERAL.—The cost-sharing under the essential benefits package shall be designed to provide a level of coverage that is designed
Lines 4-16 as mentioned in the email define the LIMIT YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY EACH YEAR. This is just like my "out of pocket maximum" of $5000 I currently have.
This is not rationing your health care, this is protecting you from bad policies. And there is to be no cost for preventative items and well-baby visits.

The list goes on and on. They use references to illegal aliens and ACORN to appeal to the reader's hatred of those two things, even though the bill has nothing to do with them. Read the sections, if you disagree with me back it up with facts.

I've seen other news sites referring to sections of the bill as Nazi-like. For instance:
Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

Well, go to that page and read. Again, you have to back up a bit. This section is defining, in essence, the rules regarding a living will: a patient telling the doctor if they want life saving actions taken or to let them die. My mother created one of these when she had knee surgery. This section simply states who is authorized to sign one of these.
(5)(A) For purposes of this section, the term ‘order regarding life sustaining treatment’ means, with respect to an individual, an actionable medical order relating to the treatment of that individual that—
(i) is signed and dated by a physician (as defined in subsection (r)(1)) or another health care professional (as specified by the Secretary and who is acting within the scope of the professional’s authority under State law in signing such an order, including a nurse practitioner or physician assistant) and is in a form that permits it to stay with the individual and be followed by health care professionals and providers across the continuum of care;
(ii) effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual;
(iii) is uniquely identifiable and standardized within a given locality, region, or State (as identified by the Secretary); and
(iv) may incorporate any advance directive (as defined in section 1866(f)(3)) if executed by the individual.
The key word in that quote is "individual." This is not the government saying who can "pull the plug."

There are many more that I'd like to rebut, but I just don't have the time.

So, regardless of where you stand on this issue you should at least take the time to read the bill. If you don't understand what they mean then look it up. Don't just rely on a viral email to make your life choices. I received an endless amount of these types of emails in the run-up to the election and I often wondered who really based their decisions on anonymous emails.

The text of the original email is as follows:

Subject:Ready for your Change?
Received this from a researcher on the Health Care issue. ...

This is a list of various items in the Health Care legislation. At the end of the list is the link to the Bill now in Congress. And this list is far from complete!!!


Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS that self insure!!

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill - THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get

Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill - YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!

Pg 42 of HC Bill - The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your Health Care Benefits for you. You have no choice!

PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill - Health Care will be provided to ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise

Pg 58HC Bill - Govt will have real-time access to individuals finances and a National ID Healthcard will be issued!

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access to your banks accts for elected funds transfer.

PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in Unions and Community Orgs (ACORN).

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an Health Care Exchange to bring private Health Care plans under Govt control.

PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill - Govt mandates ALL benefit pkgs for private Health Care plans in the Exchange

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specs for of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt will ration your Healthcare!

PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill - Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. Example - Translation for illegal aliens

Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt Health Care plan

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill - Specs of Benefit Levels for Plans #AARP members = Your Health care WILL be rationed

PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill - Medicaid Eligible Individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid. No choice

pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt Monopoly

pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill - Doctors/ #AMA - The Govt will tell YOU what you can make.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST automatically enroll employees into public opt plan. NO CHOICE

Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay for Health Care for part time employees and their families.

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Emplyer with payroll of 400k & above who does not provide public opt. pays 8% tax on all payroll

pg 150 Lines 9-13 Business with payroll between 251k & 400k who doesn't rovide pub. opt pays 2-6% tax on all payroll

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill - Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from indiv. taxes. (Americans will pay)

Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access to ALL Americans finan/personal records.

PG 203 Line 14-15 HC - "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax" Yes, it says that

Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill - Govt will reduce physician services 4 Medicaid. Seniors, low income, poor affected

Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill - Doctors, doesn't matter what specialty you have, you'll all be paid the same

PG 253 Line 10-18 - Govt sets value of Doctor's time, professional judgement, etc. Literally value of humans.

PG 265 Sec 1131 Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC industries

PG 268 Sec 1141 Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven wheelchairs

PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151 The Govt will penalize hospitals for what Govt deems preventable re-admissions.

Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Doctors, treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission Govt will penalize you.

Pg 317 L 13-20 OMG!! PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells Doctors how much they can own..

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating hospitals cannot expand

pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have oppt to apply for exception BUT community input required. Can you say ACORN?!!

Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 - Govt mandates estab. of outcome based measures. HC the way they want. Rationing

Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority 2 disqual Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs, etc. Forcing peeps in2 Govt plan

Pg 354 Sec 1177 - Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs ppl! WTF. My sis has down syndrome!!

Pg 379 Sec 1191 Govt creates more bureaucracy - Telehealth Advisory Cmtte. Can u say HC by phone?

PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. Think Senior Citizens end of life

Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills, durable powers of atty. Mandatory!

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides apprvd list of end of life resources, guiding u in death

PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program 4 orders 4 end of life. The Govt has a say in how ur life ends

Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An "adv. care planning consult" will b used frequently as patients health deteriorates

PG 429 Lines 10-12 "adv. care consultation" may incl an ORDER 4 end of life plans. AN ORDER from GOV

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 - The govt will specify which Doctors can write an end of life order.

PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment u will have at end of life

Pg 469 - Community Based Home Medical Services=Non profit orgs. Hello, ACORN Medical Svcs here!!?

Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. 1 monthly payment 2 a community-based org. Like ACORN?

PG 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which means they will insert Govt in2 ur marriage

Pg 494-498 Govt will cover Mental Health Svcs including defining, creating, rationing those svcs

Here's the full Health Care bill that sits in the House.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reaffirming My Disbelief in God

Why was I ever told there was a caring, loving God in my heart? Why was I ever fed this lie?

For every child that suffers through cancer or is abused or suffers any painful death I reaffirm my disbelief in the God I was raised with.

My heart goes out to the family of Thai Nguyen who died today after a long fight with cancer.

My son asked me the other day why I didn't believe in God. It wasn't a conversation I was ready for. But he continued to press me. Perhaps I was too harsh in my response but I said because of all of the pain and suffering I've seen, all the children hurt, kids getting their arms cut off in Africa, where was God when this was happening? I told him because of that I don't believe in God.

There is no excuse for the suffering in this world if there is a deity watching over us who deserves our worship. If God is there and cannot stop the suffering then he is not worth worshipping. If God is there and chooses not to stop the suffering then he is not worth worshipping. If God is there and causes the suffering then he is not worth worshipping.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Our Modern World: Genie sued - will he get to keep his bottle?

Genies get no respect. First they are portrayed as hot females who grant the wishes of their male master. then they are made to be buffoons by Robin Williams, and now this:

CNN: Saudi family sues genie, alleges harassment

A family in Saudi Arabia has taken a genie to court, alleging theft and harassment, according to local media.

The lawsuit filed in Shariah court accuses the genie of leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their cell phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, said Al-Watan newspaper.

Riiiiight...I'm sure such a silly case would be thrown out right
"We have to verify the truthfulness of this case despite the difficulty of doing so," Sheikh Amr Al Salmi, the head of the court, told Al-Watan. "What makes this case and complaint more interesting is that it wasn't filed by just one person. Every member of the family is part of this case."
Oh, that makes much more sense. The whole family can't be mistaken...

At least this time the news from Saudi Arabia is funny. At least it isn't about some grandmother being flogged or some child being raped/married.