Primer on Fixing the Economy

I wish I had a transcript, but here Dean Baker talks about what really needs to be done to save the economy. Mostly, get health care costs under control:

The health care deficit calculator Baker mentions in the video is here. It doesn’t seem to work in Explorer, but it does in Firefox.

Flaming hypocrite of the week is Republican Andy Harris, newly elected to the House from Maryland. That’s Dr. Andy Harris; he’s also an anesthesiologist. He ran an anti-Obamacare campaign and pledged to repeal health care reform. Glenn Thrush reports for Politico:

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

Under COBRA law, Harris can pay a premium to extend his current health insurance an additional month.

Later, he explained that he was trying to make the point that “government-run health care” was inferior to private insurance. I do think he made a point; just not that one.

8 thoughts on “Primer on Fixing the Economy

  1. maha,
    I hope you don’t mind, I cut and pasted this from the last comments:

    I did some further research into Harris, the new Congressman from MD. It appears that his Great-Great Grandfather ran for Congress in the same state in 1910. He was a Veterinarian who ran on a platform vehemently opposing automobiles, and won the election handily.
    Upon arriving in DC for his orientation, the original Congressman Harris was pissed-off to find that he’d have to wait until February for his governement limo and driver.

    ***OK, I made this up. But is it at all unbelievable?
    It’ll take a concerted effort for someone to get the “Hyprite’s-Hypocrite Award” from this clown. I have no doubt that there are many other Republicans out there ready, willing, able, and waiting to try to pry it from his hands. Unintenionally, of course.

    Uhm, as a side note, maybe someone should tell the new Congressman that as far as private insurance coming from your employer is concerned, a waiting period of at least a month is very common, and actually on the low end of the spectrum. 3,6, and 12 month waiting periods are not unheard of. That’s if you’re lucky enough to even get it. I know, I had to wait 3 months for it in my last BS job, only to lose it when I was cut 4 months later.

    PS: It took me quite a while to convince my parents that this story was true. They thought I was embellishing, if not making it up. I told them that you couldn’t make stuff like this up. That if you tried to write a story or book with someone like Harris as the central character, the editor would fling it back at you and say that the character was completely unbelievable, that no one could be that stupid. He/She would be ‘misunderestimating’ todays Republican Party. And you can’t ‘refudiate’ that.

  2. Dr. Harris is just plain flat wrong about not having to wait to get health coverage. I’ve worked for private employers — good employers — who made you complete your probation period of 3 months before you could have health insurance. Some require you to work for them for a year before you can get insurance. And those at least do offer it! As we all know, many employers don’t offer health insurance as a benefit.

    • Anniecat — yes, in my experience larger companies make you wait one to three months before your health benefits kick in, and small companies make you wait three to six months, or more, if you get insurance at all.

  3. Every company I’ve worked for made you pass probation before getting health benefits; the minimum time was three months. He can damn well buy gap coverage through COBRA.

  4. Harris aught to try 28 days without a paycheck or any means of financial sustenance. I bet it would make a liberal out of him real quick. I’m at that point financially where cradling myself in Jesus’ loving arms is a very attractive proposition.

    I commend Harris for his loving concern for him family and his desire not to leave them exposed without health coverage for a whole 28 days. But I find it difficult to muster compassion for him when my own immediate concerns are for providing food and shelter for my family. Surviving!

  5. controlling (lowering) health care costs is important in two slightly different aspects.

    First, excess out-of-pocket expenses for maintaining ones health, mean less dollars to spend to stimulate the economy.

    Second, the federal gov’t is into health care in a big way. Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VA, BIA and I’m sure there is more out there. The excess grows the deficit.

  6. There’s an easy answer to Harris’ problem of going 28 days without insurance:

    “Don’t get sick. If you do get sick, die quickly.”

  7. It amazes me that someone who will have a vote on health care legislation, and a doctor himself, apparently knows nothing about COBRA, which has been law since, what, the mid 1980s?

    Unfamiliar with both current market insurance practice AND decades-old government provisions – sounds like he meets GOP qualifications for taking a political stand on health care reform, all right.

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