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Obamacare open enrollment ends but not heated debates: Google Hangout-WGSO

fireToday, is the end of the signup period (except for those who tried to enroll but were unable to doso) and reportedly roughly 7 million people have signed up for Obamacare 

On the strongly-conservative WGSO radio talk show, host Jeff Crouere and Stephen Sabludowsky discussed the Affordable Care Act, the pros and cons.   The discussion got testy and included callers chiming in to express their oppositions to the healthcare law and implementation.  

The interview was also recorded via Google Hangouts, as has a number of the recent Crouere-Sabludowsky, WGSO-Bayoubuzz radio-hangout-broadcasts-webcasts.  Here is the transcription.  Check the video for the most accurate conversation: 

 Crouere: We have the publisher of Bayoubuzz.com, Steve Sabludowsky, joining us. We're going to get into local issues: the legislative session and our governors who were at a forum at Loyola the other day. But first, let's talk about Obamacare. Today, we're hearing that the administration reached their goal of 7 million, but there are unanswered questions about the number of people who are paying for it, the number of young people, the impact on the uninsured, etc. Your thoughts? 

Sabludowsky: I've heard so many callers, and I do have so response to that. I still think it's very early. Obamacare hit 7 million. As far as I understood, 10-20% of them have not paid yet. I'm sure that that will change. These are uncertainties. To say that there's no change, which I heard one of your last callers say, is wrong. I think there are major changes, many of them for the positive, some for the uncertainty, and some for the negative. Just in terms of the positive, I think that it's really positive to have affordability and not be so tied to your employment for your insurance. That is a major plus in my mind. Secondly, the preexisting conditions - that's a major plus. . I've done a lot of research on the cost in terms of premiums, and overall, the overall costs are either lower, the same, or a little bit above. 

Crouere: That's disputed by the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic who says 75% will be paying more. So your research is at odds with this expert. 

Sabludowsky: I understand that, but so many people claim to be experts about these things without having personal experience in terms of going to the website. I understand that the person from the Cleveland Clinic is an expert, but I don't know if he actually mentioned the cap in terms of what the cost is to the insured in the event that they have a major healthcare situation. It's cap per individual and per family. In the past, you had the co-pay and the co-insurance, 20-30% every time you had anything. This is a cap. My issue is what the cost is going to be to the federal government; I'm not an economist, so I don't know. 

Crouere: I think the cost to the American families that I'm worried about, is that 75% are paying more. We heard several callers who related horror stories. Their premiums are going up $400 a month, doubling. My question is, where are these people going to get the extra money? These people are working hard and have succeeded. Now they're going to pay double what they have been paying for health insurance. That's going to have a negative effect on the economy. Let's say they're not going to have the kind of money to be able to take their family out to dinner, go to a movie, or go on a vacation. They're not going to be able to just suck it up! That's going to have a negative impact. 

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Sabludowsky: Sure. Those people who are paying double, yes. But have you asked people who are not paying double, who are paying equal to or less, have you talked to those people, as well? 

Crouere: I haven't heard any of those stories. People with those stories are welcome to call. Have you asked the people who do not want to be forced to do this? What about the whole issue of freedom in this country? Why should we be forced by the government to buy this type of insurance? 

Sabludowsky: There are a lot of things that we are forced to do that I am not crazy about. You and I disagree in terms of, let's say, right to life. I think that when the government tells a woman what to do with her own body, that's forcing her to do what they want. You can justify it and say that the Bible says this, but you can justify the other side, too! 

Crouere: We do have laws protecting innocent lives. You can't go out and murder somebody. We have repercussions for that. I consider an unborn baby to be a life. I don't think you should have the right to kill an unborn baby. So the same way that you're protecting a person who's walking down the street, I think you should be protecting a child in the womb. 

Sabludowsky: Not everybody agrees with you on that issue, I must tell you. 

Crouere: Science is moving in that direction. 

Sabludowsky: I think a majority of the people in this country totally disagree. The bottom line is that it is a coercion. Government is saying to not do something, whatever their justification is. 

Crouere: You can't drive on the wrong side of the road, you can't pass through a red light without getting a ticket, and you can't go up and slug somebody. Those are certain things that the government does to protect order. 

Sabludowsky: And there are certain things that the government does to protect order on the other side, too. 

Crouere: But the government shouldn't be forcing you to buy a product! I don't think the government should force me to buy a certain type of cereal; I don't think the government should be forcing me to go out and buying this product called health insurance. 

Sabludowsky: The government is doing a lot of things. In my mind, at least, I wish there was not a government forcing anybody to do anything. I think this is going to play out. I don't think we have all the facts. I really think that those people who think they know, need to go online and see exactly what the prices are. 

Crouere: What if they try to go to the website and can't get on? This thing was filled with glitches most of the day yesterday. 

Sabludowsky: Jeff, you're going to find issues with everything on Obamacare and Obama. Any opportunity that you have! You've had how many months now, since October 1, to get on the website? 

Crouere: But the website has been glitch filled from day one. You have to agree that the launch was a disaster? 

Sabludowsky: It was a disaster. But they also got more than seven million people. We know that 10-20% of them haven't paid yet. The figure was on CNN today. It was confirmed by the administration. But seven million people have signed up. 

Crouere: When you have the President on web shows, on Ellen, and on ESPN, and when you got all these athletes pushing it, of course they are going to reach this number. I admitted on the show that I thought it would reach that number. 

Sabludowsky: Then you have just as many people on the other side who have never been to the website and have no idea what the prices are for insurance saying just the opposite. This is going to play out. 

Crouere: Let's take some calls. Let's start with Fergus from Florida. 

Fergus: I just had to weigh in. In some ways, this discussion infuriates me. As you know, I came to the United States to be a freer man, and here we have these socialist control freaks pushing this. I'm one of the people who had his own private, medical insurance, and the price went up. You want me to go on these government exchange plans? I don't want anything to do with the federal government! This debate about whether it's going to save money or increase costs is ridiculous! What about personal freedom? I don't want to be involved with this! I want them to leave me alone! In terms of lowering costs...there's nothing in this plan that increases the number of doctors, that increases the availability of medicines, that does anything to actually lower costs. It's molding people into the same cube. It's totally unconstitutional, and it's totally un-American! It's just ridiculous. I'll just leave it at that. 

Crouere: Well said! Steve, how do you respond to Fergus? 

Sabludowsky: I guess the Supreme Court will disagree with him concerning the constitutionality. That's number one. Number two, in terms of being socialist - you haven't seen socialists. This was a compromise. The  private industry is involved in this. You're not paying to the government; you're paying to the private industry. It's not the best of worlds. The best of worlds would be the insurance companies saying, "Okay, fine. You want preexisting conditions, here's the cost. You want a cap on co-insurance and co-pay, we'll give it to you." That's not what they did, and this is a reaction to them. 

Crouere: I think you will see another reaction in November 2104. Every poll I've seen says that Americans do not like this. Americans never would. Still, if you give us the best numbers in the world, it's still below 50%! You keep hoping that these numbers will go up, but every poll that I have seen since Obamacare launched shows the majority of Americans being opposed to it. This thing was not wanted by the American people! We didn't ask for this! This was crammed down our throats by a bunch of Democrats! You can't change legislation, change America, like this. What about a bipartisan bill? The fact that you did not have one Republican voting for this, is one of the reasons why this thing is doomed to fail. 

Sabludowsky: I understand that, and it's a shame that there wasn't bipartisanship. Hopefully, we'll do a lot better than that. But I've heard the same thing about a revolution. There was no revolution in the presidential election in 2012. People may say, "This thing is not working. I hate it. Let's go back." On the other hand, people are not saying to just get rid of  it. What they're saying is to fix it! 

Crouere: What does government fix, Steve? Government breaks! Government makes problems worse. I don't think government fixes anything. Let's take some more calls. Vince joins us in Diamondhead. 

Vince: What you said is 100% right. Government doesn't fix anything; they break things. I don't care about the 7 million number. I don't believe in anything coming from this administration. That's not the point. The point is that this thing was done because we supposedly had 30 million uninsured. Now, CPO has come out and said that in ten years, we're still going to have 30 million uninsured, and it's going to cost us almost 2 trillion dollars. I don't know what to say! 

Crouere: Steve, how do you respond to that? This was supposedly about insuring the uninsured. There's nothing on the website that asks whether you're uninsured or not. And as Vince pointed out, we're still supposed to have 30 million uninsured after a few years. What about that whole angle? I thought this whole thing was about giving insurance to those who don't have any. 

Sabludowsky: That's one of the things that it's about. Like I told you when we started this today, there are a lot of uncertainties. That's one of them. I'm not an economist; I don't know. I know what the CBO says. By the way, just to make it local, the Department of Health and Hospitals here in Louisiana has said that if there's a Medicaid extension, it's actually going to save the state money. Yet the Governor is going the other way. If you look at what government is saying, CBO or the DHH, we don't know. 

Crouere: We need to take a timeout. By the way, now we're being told that Louisiana callers are suffering from a two-hour wait to sign up for Obamacare. So I guess that not only was the website problematic, but the phone lines were, too. 

Crouere: Steve, we have limited time, and a lot of people want to chime in. Can  we take some of these calls? Let's go to LiveWire! 

LiveWire: What looks comical  to me, let's be conservative and say there's 250 million Americans [unclear], only seven million people now are insured on this new plan? People have had their own plans that they've been happy with, and they were supposedly going to be able to keep them. But the number, only 7 out of 250 million people now have this forced insurance, this socialist insurance. That's ridiculous; it's crazy. 

Crouere: Steve, LiveWire is saying that the number is not that impressive when you look at your population, which is actually 330 million. 

Sabludowsky: Well, again, any time somebody says socialist in describing something that is private...we're not doing business with the government, we're doing business with private vendors, like BlueCross and BlueShield. Let's talk facts instead of trying to put political labels on them. In terms of the numbers, I'm looking at what the cost is. That's all that I'm looking at. 

Crouere: The estimate is that it's going to cost 2 trillions, as pointed out by Vince. So where are we going to get that money? 

Sabludowsky: Again, that's something that I'm not going to dispute. I told you earlier that there are some thing that are uncertain, that you and I don't know. We hear what people say and what different organizations say, but those things are projections into the future. We just don't know. 

Crouere: Let's get back to the callers. Miss Rainbow is joining us. 

Miss Rainbow: Steve, you're talking about cost cutting and costs. Jindal is not signing up for the Medicaid. Steve, do you know why he didn't do that? 

Sabludowsky: I have my opinion in terms of why he didn't do it. He's running for President. Certainly, a Republican from the Deep South would not be able to become President if that person accepted the Medicaid expansion. 

Miss Rainbow: That's your opinion. But I have read that he's not going to sign up for it because it's going to cost us more money in the long run because the price will go up. 

Sabludowsky: His own department, the DHH, came up with a report saying to the contrary. They are saying that we're saving 1.5 billion dollars over 10 years. There are some thing that really disturb me about this. I like that things are done. I wish it would have been done differently. 

Crouere: With that, we got to roll. Thank you.

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