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Susan Estrich
5 Feb 2016
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Donald Ducks

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Summer in Washington


The stimulus program must really be succeeding in Washington, D.C. Government is hiring; people are working. In fact, if news reports are to be believed, they're working night and day. So maybe there's some sleep deprivation thrown in for good measure. And don't forget the legendary heat and humidity that made service in the nation's Capitol hazardous before the advent of air conditioning.

What other explanation could there be for my friends in Congress and the administration thinking that what the country wants them to do right now is raise taxes and spend a trillion dollars to overhaul health care, much less to push it through in a month in a 1,000-page bill being rewritten every day?

In California, where I live, unemployment is in double digits and climbing, and the state has been issuing IOUs for weeks. I'm blessed, and I'm not complaining.

But not a day goes by that someone doesn't call me, desperate for help in finding a job. And it's never been harder to help. For all intents and purposes, unless you have some very special skill to sell, there are simply no jobs. You want to wait tables or make coffee drinks? Good luck. Get in line.

The idea that somehow you're going to tax the "rich" enough to pay for quality health care for every American who doesn't have it, can't afford it or stands to lose it, not to mention for all of the undocumented aliens who receive it for free now and presumably will continue to in Obama health land, is almost laughable. It's one of those things candidates say in campaigns, ignoring the fact that it doesn't add up. But in a bill that might pass? Add a 5 percent surtax on every small business in the country that makes $250,000 or more? This is going to create jobs? What am I missing?

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office came out with a report this week concluding that the bill being written by House Democrats would increase the deficit and weaken the already weak economy.


No one is explaining to people how the big changes in the bill will affect people who have insurance now, which happens to be the overwhelming majority of all Americans (and an even higher percentage of all voters).

Will our premiums and deductibles go up or down? Will our doctors and hospitals be better or worse off? It is simply not credible to tell me that if I like my insurance now, nothing will change. If you turn the health care delivery system on its head and start regulating, mandating and controlling the terms, don't tell me it won't change things.

Changing the tax treatment of insurance benefits changes who gets them and who pays for them. "Controlling costs" means what? Does my doctor have to see more patients? Get more approvals before ordering tests? Order less expensive tests? I don't know a single person who is willing to sacrifice, or even risk, their health care right now to an uncertain plan that they don't begin to understand — except folks in D.C.

I went to my doctor this morning and suspect I had an experience that's being repeated in doctor's offices across the country. My doctor told me how worried she is about the plan. Actually, it was much stronger than "worried."

She wasn't a big fan of HillaryCare, but from her reading, it was a carefully drafted and thought-out program compared to what's being discussed now. She's convinced that if the administration succeeds, the ripple effect will cost Democrats the House in 2010 and her patients' their access to high quality, affordable care.

I reassured her that the Democrats would never be that foolish. I hope. Maybe it's time for Congress to get out of Washington. They'll get an earful when they do.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



32 Comments | Post Comment
Wow! I never guessed you were THAT rabid about status-quo health insurance. You must be VERY happy with yours and you are LUCKY. Will healthcare cost you more or less after Congress and the PResident reform it? Who knows. But you can be SURE it will cost more every year for the rest of your life if they don't. If the insurance/AMA/for-profit hospitals/drug cartel has no government mandates to deal with, they will keep eating the flesh and going for the bone of EVERY American, including the "lucky" who have coverage and never get sick. Two words is all I want to hear: Public option. Those are the only words that strike fear in the hearts(?) of the flesheaters and that tells me a public option is a good thing.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Laurie Craw
Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:34 PM
You're finally coming to your senses. This President, who you promoted and voted for, doesn't care about the socalled "uninsured", he's out to destroy our Republic. The huge deficits he's creating (contrary to Democratic crys during the GOP leadership) are aimed at building government dependence and guaranteed Democratic control and rule for decades to come. A one-party system is the end of America as 'we' knew it. The current generation is being educated to believe that government is the end all to their problems.
I fear for my children and grandchildren!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Early
Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:55 AM
If this passes, this will be another right that will be taken away from the American people. You will not have a choice of what coverage you wish to have. It will be illegal to change your coverage once this bill passes and your only option for coverage if you change jobs or start a new one will be the government run program. Once this bill passes, there will be no switching from one coverage to another. Yes, you will be able to keep the coverage you have at the time the bill is passed, but if you lose your job or decide you would like a different coverage, this bill will make it illegal to switch. Read the bill carefully! I do not want my rights taken away from me or my children on what health care I chose to participate in. This is one more nail in the coffin of our rights as citizens.
Please read the bill.....
Comment: #3
Posted by: jcsjcm
Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:46 AM
Re: Laurie Craw

Laurie, there will be no public option..... The bill specifically states that you can keep your coverage, but you are not able to switch to any other health plan once this bill passes. Where is the option? Where are your rights? Our kids start a new job after the bill passes, there option is........ Government health care! Have you spoken to any person from another country that has status-quo health insurance? My uncle lives in the U.K. and he ended up having to pay for his own open heart surgery since the government run program put him on a waiting list that was 6 months out and a doctor of their choosing. Since he paid for the operation himself, he received his operation in less than 2 weeks and was able to choose who would do the procedure. He would not have survived otherwise. Do you wonder why congress or anyone working for the government will not have to be part of this coverage? Same as not having to be involved in our Social security program? They are set for life with their own independent coverages, why worry about our coverage since they don't have to participate in it. That alone should throw up a red flag.
Comment: #4
Posted by: jcsjcm
Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:56 AM
Susan, If this country's politcians really wanted to reduce health care costs, they would get out of bed with the trial attorneys. Tort reform would dramatically reduce the cost of liability insurance for doctors, hospitals and all levels of caregivers. I hope that your friends in Washington read your column and recognize that you're on their side and have grave misgivings. I feel unheard here in San Diego, with Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Congresswoman Susan Davis as my representatives. They are like the kids in Willy Wonka, going crazy in the heady joy of owning the House, Senate and White House. But instead of using this opportunity for thoughtful implementation of democrat policy goals, they have given the legislative process over to all the lobbyists (and I loudly put unions in that category) to write their bills that they don't even read. To borrow from Michelle Obama, for the first time in my adult life, I am scared for my country.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Lesley Barnard
Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:34 AM
WOW!!!! Susan. I love reading your articles because we almost never see eye to eye but your arguments are always thoughtful and worth reading but this time you and I are on the same page. Hope this isn't a sign the world is coming to an end. To Laurie Craw you need to open your eyes. Just some examples for you to see..Medicaid, Medicare and VA care.....these all are government run health care systems. ALL provide less than good care and will continue to do so because they can not do otherwise. To much regulation, too much price fixing too little services. Making it one big service will not help. Public option is a JOKE. It will drive insurers out of business because they don't have to make a profit....if they don't they just cut more services or charge more (tax us more) to get the job done. I like my insurance and while it is more expensive than I would like I get good, prompt care when needed.....both of those will not be in supply under public option. You want to lower cost then go after trial lawyers. Because of them EVERY doctor has to pay unbelievably high insurance premiums. If you are in busness as a doctor and the begining of each year you start off with a debt of a $150,000 just to practice it puts you in a deep hole. That's just your general family doctor....specialists like surgeons pay even more...a lot more. If you want to lower costs then lower theirs and you will see a change. But Congress won't touch that one...they are in bed with the lawyers.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Adam
Fri Jul 17, 2009 9:50 AM
Thanks Susan for maintaining your objectivity even though your position is at odds with the leadership of the political party you typically support.
Government should be helping the private sector reform the Healthcare system instead of trying to take it over. Why would anyone believe the federal government would make things better after the example of Social Security and Medicare.
Do not accept healthcare reform that does not make the system better. This plan still would result in many Americans not being covered.
Everyone should go to to sign the petition.
Comment: #7
Posted by: SmartProgress
Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:26 AM
Re: SmartProgress

As with one of the previous responders - I usually read you column to see what's up with the opposition (Being a flaming conservative slightly to the right of Attila the Hun). I do love your work - it's always great to read someone with well-written, heartfelt beliefs (even if I usually disagree). This time, I was unbelievably shocked at how close we are in our opinions on the proposed health care fiasco! Let's have lunch!

Comment: #8
Posted by: David Liberatore
Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:21 PM
Susan, thank you for a very well written article. The chickens are coming home to roost in my opinion. The people selected a candidate to run for president for the democratic party who was a community organizer and had 2 years of senate experience. All his inexperienced cronies are on job in the White House. I am a big Hillary fan, and was very disappointed she was not the candidate, I did not vote. To this day I am convinced Hillary would have come up with a plan much better thought out and thoroughly investigated plan before pushing it. I really think this country made a huge mistake by electing Obama.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Yamamama
Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:15 PM
I have had two surgical procedures in a hospital in the past six months. I had been turned down for medical insurance by a wide variety of companies due to "pre-existing " conditions. The companies that would cover me quoted me prices that Bill gates would cringe at. So I opted for Midicare Part B coverage and had to gowith that and cover any extra expenses out of pocket. Well the Medicare covered all but $2,400.00 of the cost of those surgeries. I had to pay the rest out of pocket. For a retired person living on a fixed income, this is a financial disaster. I sold of some stock and paid off the bills. But the end result was that, what I paid was still much less than what the insurance companies wanted me to pay for monthly coverage.
The insurance companies have engaged in halloween scare tactics for years in order to keep their pig trough going and growing. When are we going to finally recognize this and put an end to it. I say, Pass something and get the ball rolling. Once the thing is up and operating, find the bugs and squash them. We are not stuck with the first version. Things evolve. If you don't think so just look at the history of the airplane. It got off the ground as an ugly duckling and look at where aviation is now 100 years or so later. Stop being afraid of the new invention, it can only get better with tinkering. As to the medical profession, well, just remember those quacks of yesteryear who used to treat many diseases by "bleeding" the patient until he became a weakened victim and died not from the symptoms of his disease or ailment but from just plain quackery. Everything good evolves from a shaky start. Don't think so??? Just look at your own baby pictures.
Robert Lipka
Comment: #10
Posted by: robert lipka
Fri Jul 17, 2009 6:25 PM
I'm a Dem who voted for Obama and believe that fixing healthcare is key to restoring the economy. But I'm concerned about the rush to pass this bill. As I understand it, the bill is loaded with money for things like parks, bike trails, and playground lights, which are supposed to be "preventive" measures. Please!!! Much as I personally think those things are important, they are not critical for a healthcare plan! Furthermore, they give critics plenty to lambaste. I want this done, but I want it done right.
Comment: #11
Posted by: cadbury
Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:53 AM
My wife just lost her job and it will cost us $1300 for Cobra to continue a plan with a $3000 deductible, 20% coinsurance and between $25 and $50 in copays. I am sick of the pampered rich like you telling us we can't afford reform. Well we ordinary folks can't afford to continue to be ripped off. I have lived in Europe and Single Payer health care is efficient and covers everyone at a lower cost. Every other Industrialized country covers all their people at half the cost and with far better outcomes. As for the rich, their tax rates have been continuely lowered over the last four decades. A little tax increase won't kill them not when the rest of us are losing our jobs, our homes and our health insurance. Shame on you for shilling for the Sickness Industry.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Andrew Riley
Sat Jul 18, 2009 6:06 AM
Thank you, Susan, for the voice of sanity crying in the wilderness. There must be something in the water in D.C. that makes elected officials go off the deep end. Or is it that politics is so dirty, they do what they do to keep THEIR jobs. Why the rush to push this frightening legislation thru in record breaking time! Egos? Or is it more sinister?
Comment: #13
Posted by: Sally G
Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:52 AM
I very much doubt you have an "Uncle in the UK".
Those scare stories might work for those who are ignorant but I lived in the UK for 5 years and I know lots of people there and nobody has to wait for heart surgery. The facts are that in the UK and other single payer countries the people live longer and healthier lives and infant mortality rates are lower. Better outcomes are a fact that disproves your made up fantasy "Uncle". There is not one single Industrialized Country other than the USA that has our shambolic "free market" system and guess what nobody else wants it.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Andrew Riley
Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:54 AM
Re: Andrew Riley

Yes, I do have an Uncle, Aunt, and many cousins in the U.K. His name is Mick Bell - his wife is Val and they have 3 children (all married with children) and they also run a very prominent electronics shop owned by them. They live in Crowthorne, Berkshire England U.K. And yes, he had to pay for his surgery in order to get better care. I would not lie about something like that! He and his family have warned us that Universal Health care is not a good thing. Why would I lie about something like that? You lived there for 5 years ??? May I say I doubt you? I won't doubt you though, but 5 years is not a life time as they have lived there all their lives. Although his experience was not first hand felt by myself, I do know the story and yes, the waiting list was that long and triple by-pass is what he underwent. Take a look at the whole bill - its frightening and again, I do not want the government taking away any more of my choices. Our government is taking more and more control over our lives - do you really wish to give up your right to choose?
Comment: #15
Posted by: jcsjcm
Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:17 AM
I would rather a government bureaucrat control my healthcare than a Corporate bureaucrat. So yes I do want the government making decisions for me if you want to put it that way because at least they are controlled by people I elect. Every year 18,000 Americans die because they don't have insurance. Insurance companies make money by finding ways to NOT provide healthcare. I don't believe your story because it is incredible and the statistics show better care and results for every other Nations with Insurance provided by Government. I have a brother living outside London and he had heart surgery 24 hours after a blockage was discovered on the NHS. Anyone from the UK knows that the NHS is the third rail of British politics. Margaret Thatcher gutted funding for the NHS and tried to replace it with a US style system - the Public rose up in fury and the Tories have not been let near government since. The British love the NHS and your story reeks of invention. Nobody anywhere else wants our system. Not the British, not the Canadians and certainly not the French.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Andrew Riley
Sat Jul 18, 2009 9:52 AM
Britons and Candadians are significantly more satisfied with their healthcare system than US residents (no matter what your "Uncle" might say)
And guess what they are more satisfied despite spending a whole lot less
Median expenditure for other industrialized countries was $2,193 in 2002 compared to $5,267 in the USA.
We spend all this money but yet we rank 37th in the World. Behind Oman, Chile and Costa Rica.
So yes I do want a "Government Bureaucrat" involved in my healthcare.
By the way the next time you feel ill don't call 911 because if you do - guess what - a "government bureaucrat" will show up to take you to the hospital.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Andrew Riley
Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:33 AM
Susie I agree that is time for most of them to get our Washington - most of them should not be allowed back.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Paul
Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:57 AM
Ah.........................hopey changey.
Comment: #19
Posted by: L1307
Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:11 AM
All you public option idiots, spend some time volunteering at a VA hospital or take a day at an Indian Hospital.
Comment: #20
Posted by: L1307
Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:18 AM

You are one of the few dem-voters I like to hear. You aren't a parrot.

A presidential advisor showed up several weeks ago at a RAMBLA - Hispanic political group - meeting and told them that the bill would cover illegals AND their families and they would be citizens within five years.

Is this buried in Kennedy's bill?
Comment: #21
Posted by: Pat from Texas
Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:59 PM
Great column, Susan. That's the most lucid explanation of the situation I've read to date. I agree completely with everything you wrote.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Ross
Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:28 PM
It's just common sense folks! Medicare will be broke by 2017, SS by 2041. If these government run programs are mismanaged and going bankrupt, why would you think they could run an expanded national healthcare program? The fact that President Obama is sounding more and more desperate and determined to pass a healthcare bill in the next 2 weeks should make you question his motives. And I saw the vote on C-Span in the House committee chaired my Charlie Rangel. Every Democrat but one voted against the amendment to have the House members and their famillies sign on to the public option - the Republicans all voted for it but it did not pass. If the lawmakers would just do that, I would be more trusting of them. But just like they exempted themselves and other government employees from SS, they will all have a gold-plated healthcare program no matter what the masses end up with. I'm sorry some of you have had medical issues that have been very costly, but from what I have heard and read about Canada and England, you may be lucky. At least you had the procedures and you are alive! Our healthcare system is not perfect and there do need to be some common sense changes to make it more affordable, but 80+% of people are happy with their insurance and healthcare.
Comment: #23
Posted by: diane
Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:59 PM
Wow Ms. Estrich, you sound just like a "just say no Republican". When did this conversion happen?
Comment: #24
Posted by: michael smith
Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:22 AM
Wow Ms. Estrich, you sound just like a "just say no Republican". When did this conversion happen?
Comment: #25
Posted by: michael smith
Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:25 AM
I have been a proponent of universal healthcare in the US for much of my life. What concerns me about this "plan" is that it cannot possibly exist yet. Does the administration have an approach towards providing healthcare? I am sure they do, but that is all they have at this point. This rapid development is akin to a jury, after a 6-month long trial, reaching a verdict in 15 minutes. They could not have possibly deliberated over all the facts of the case in that short time. Likewise, the issues involved in providing healthcare to 300+ million people, and doing it well, require far more deliberation than has been done to date.
I want universal healthcare, but I want it done well. There should be several groups working on different approaches, and there should be several debates on which is the best. This "plan" does not exist. On what are they voting?
Comment: #26
Posted by: Robert E
Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:29 AM
Excellent assessment, Ms. Estrich.
Comment: #27
Posted by: Mary
Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:55 PM
I'd like to know since when Reform meant replace, I am sick of so called representatives passing bills that they have neither read nor apparently understand. It appears that most people in this country have health insurance and you can still get care without it. Here's an idea offer Doctors Tax Credits for serving a set schedule in free clinics that are located in under served parts of town, the doctors get the benefit of a tax break and more GP experience and the locals get a doctor that they can get to know, the community gets the jobs created by the construction and maintenance of said clinic. Our health care system is the best in the world lets not mess it up. Here's a few more ideas, Let we the clients shop all health care providers, Make it mandatory that any health insurer accept all clients at the same rate wether 1 or 1,000, Require insurers to accept a certain percentage of clients with pre-existing conditions as a condition of being allowed to write health insurance. Take your time with legislation that needs serious consideration. Gov. does not have a track record of running things well so lets keep it out of Gov hands.
Comment: #28
Posted by: pegpond
Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:58 PM
I am furious at susan estrich. She thinks we forget her cheerleadng -the morose and outright lies by Obama during the campaign, and the cover ups of his past she defended for 18 months, and NOW she shows concern. HOGWASH.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Fred
Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:13 PM
Andrew Riley: STOP being lazy and do some shopping around. COBRA is a f'ing joke and way over priced....again, a government fall back operation that is costly. My son lost his job and thought CORBA insane. He looked around and got coverage for about half from another provider. ATENA. There are 1500 healthcare insurers out there. Do a little shopping and it will pay off.....but it sounds more like you want the government just to hand you a plan instead of you actually looking for what is a better fit for you and your family.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Adam
Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:34 AM
Re: Andrew Riley
Why is it that Congress passed a bill that excempts them from this government run health care plan? Is it not good enough for them? If they are not required to use it, why should we be forced to use it and I do mean forced!
Comment: #31
Posted by: jcsjcm
Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:07 AM
funny, i hear people worrying about affording prescription meds because of the doughnut hole, and wondering what the heck to do about it.
do i have to retire to canada to afford my prescription meds? (nothing else can deal with my conditions.)
i guess we're listening to different people, and hanging out in a different part of america.
come home, susan, come home.
Comment: #32
Posted by: susan
Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:56 PM
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