Ultimate Reason for UHC: Unfunded Retiree Health Care Obligations?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Ugg, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #1
    So, I was reading this article in the NYT about San Francisco's unfunded $4.4 billion in retiree health care. It seems that almost every city, regional government and state owes way more than it can ever afford to pay. The numbers are simply astronomic.

    The way I see it is that either all these employees get cut off and the government faces a century of lawsuits, or, the federal government simply takes over all unfunded non- federal government health care.

    I'll be the first to admit that some of the bennies are simply outrageous, but when it comes right down to it, they signed a contract and the contract is enforceable.

    What do you think? Will the US get UHC as a result of cities and states being unable to pay their retiree health benefits?
     
  2. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #2
    It's possible, but it will be hard, it sometimes seems like the Republicans would rather destroy the country than give universal healthcare, and the Dems are too afraid to do it. So unless the dems have at least 60 votes in the senate, (they probably need closer to 70 since they can't get everyone to work together) when those lawsuits start, it won't happen.
     
  3. CorvusCamenarum macrumors 65816

    CorvusCamenarum

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    #3
    One of the big questions to ask is who is ultimately responsible for footing the bill if one (or more) of the several states defaults on its obligations. In practical terms, suing hardly matters if the money to satisfy the obligation simply isn't there, as is with California's current situation.
     
  4. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    So because the states can't handle their obligations, the federal government should take over those obligations? What happens when the federal government can't handle the obligations either? In the middle of the media coverage of Greece's sovereign debt crisis, many news stories centered on how the government continued doling out benefits while the politicians and citizens all knew there was no money. It is lunacy that we are suffering from a similar blindness, but I suppose it is the natural course of history. Like any drug addict, America won't change her ways until bottom has been reached. The main difference between America and Greece is America's ability to QE. So bottom is unbearably high inflation to hyperinflation.

    Part of any contract is counter party risk. Every possible solution to this problem will involve pain. If you think passing it onto the federal government's balance sheet, already at -14 trillion, will avoid any bad stuff from happening, you're completely wrong. Do you believe we have access to unlimited credit? We only have access to unlimited dollars.
     
  5. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #5
    Oh, I see... so once again liberal entitlement programs CREATE the problem, and then liberal socialists use that problem to justify more entitlement programs. Brilliant strategy... seriously, it has obviously worked for you before. Seems like a smart strategy to undertake if you want UHC.
     
  6. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    I honestly don't know what will happen, but one of the things that needs to be addressed is the obscene profits that the health care industry is taking out of American pockets. Any industry that sucks up around 18% of American GDP while covering only 70% of Americans obviously has a lot of fat in it.

    We also need to have realistic conversations about end of life care since most medical dollars are spent on retirees.

    I do believe that it will come down to people literally dying on the street for lack of healthcare before we have UHC. I just wonder how many will have to die before Americans deal with reality.
     
  7. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    I don't see how healthcare for civil servants qualifies as a liberal entitlement program.
     
  8. MyDesktopBroke macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Govt. run health insurance already has a history of success in many countries, and it usually works hand in hand w/ private businesses - not put them out of business.
     
  9. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #9
    I agree there is massive problems in our health care system. Huge problem is the runway rising cost are not even remotely in line with inflation that tells me there are huge issues all around.
     
  10. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    It actually works quite well in the US. Medicare and Medicaid are really quite successful and cost effective. Their operating costs are massively less than private health care.
     
  11. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    Yes, but it financially precludes the country from having massive military establishments.

    This is the thing that Republicans do not wish to give up. IMO
     
  12. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #12
    Not really. Some countries have both, relatively speaking.
     
  13. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #13
    I specifically said "massive", did I not?

    I will agree with Great Britain's approach. A few nuclear subs, well positioned around the World, are worth far more than a million men in the field, for self-preservation.

    But the Americans need troops on the ground, if they are to "export" their ideals, should they actually exist.
     
  14. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Fed takeover the obligations? Whence cometh the money? The fed-gov's already broke; at least it looks like to me that $14 trillion in the hole is danged close to broke--and the future liabilities are above $70 trillion. Not enough private sector GDP to provide anywhere near enough tax money to cover the present problems, much less take on new ones.
     
  15. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #15
    So I guess that death squads aren't that far in the future then, are they? Of course it will be the elderly who take the brunt of the attack. Something tells me the baby boomers aren't going to take that sitting down.

    It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
     
  16. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    It reminds me of a Jack London novel (I forget which one, it was in high school), where this "nice" woman took care of these dogs for the winter. There was enough food for all the dogs to last the whole winter, but just barely-the dogs would whine in hunger. Rather than seeing the dogs perpetually hungry, the woman fed them well. Halfway through the winter, the dogs had to leave to find food for themselves, many of them died. That is the kind of niceness our government has shown us.

    I support a free market, not because I want to see people suffer, but because I think it results in less suffering in the long run. If we passed UHC onto the federal balance sheet, we will run out of resources to implement UHC very soon along with all other government programs. Ultimately, I believe we will try to fund these programs by printing money.
     
  17. MyDesktopBroke macrumors 6502

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    How? England has had Govt. health care for 60 years. It's much cheaper than America's bloated system of subsidies. It hasn't put private companies out of business.

    And the first scenario with the dogs much closer resembles govt. health: Everything spread out in order to cover everyone. The "free market" is the second one where only the dogs fit enough to survive make it.
     
  18. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    In my analogy, the food is resources. Healthcare uses resources. As for other countries, I don't know how they work. I doubt England will have govt health for much longer because they're in terrible fiscal shape too. But for other countries with govt healthcare, I just don't know enough about their systems. America's crappy healthcare system is so different from everyone else's in its waste and complexity.

    I view universal healthcare like anything else you might want. I can't look across the street and see a BMW in my neighbors driveway and think, I should have one too because if he can have one, so should I. I can only look at my own finances and judge whether I am able to afford one. In my opinion, we're already too late to fix our huge economic problems. Why speed up the crisis by piling this on? Other countries have a decent economy in spite of having UHC because they can afford it. Instead of a war in Iraq and corporate bailouts, they spent money on UHC.
     
  19. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    Really?

    They have successfully avoided a melt-down with the Euro, by abstaining, and they spend far less in defending their shores than the U.S. of A.

    The difference is that they no longer try to influence other nations around the World.
     
  20. Apple OC macrumors 68040

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    #20
    brace yourselves for paying some serious Tax increases
     
  21. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #21
    You know nothing about England or other countries but you're pronouncing them DOA just for the heck of it!!??W?W??

    So what does that mean for Americans? Health care is only for those who can pay cash? Emergency rooms will be able to turn away people if they don't have sufficient credit?

    Where's your little utopia headed?
     
  22. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Back up a step. My little utopia? I think I've been clear in my opinion that we are all about to suffer no matter what we try due to past excesses. And I said I don't know how England implements their healthcare, which is different from saying I don't know anything about England. I know they are in terrible fiscal shape.

    I'm sorry I'm not saying what you want to hear, but please don't interpret what I say so ridiculously.
     
  23. Ugg thread starter macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #23
    Well, looks like it's already started.

    NYT article on Prichard, AL

    I don't see any way that cities, counties, regional government or even states can manage these outsized pensions and retiree health benefits. Now, of course, there can be no bailout for them. It's either slash benefits or go bankrupt.

    I think they need to increase the minimum number of years required for a pension, stop double dippers and increase employee contributions amongst other measures. Even though such measures penalize workers, I simply don't see any other way out of it.
     

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