Rethinking Obamacare

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
Rethinking Obamacare story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is in the cross hairs of just about everyone who has spoken at the Republican National Convention thus far.

It could very likely come up again as Mitt Romney formally accepts his party's nomination for President with a speech to the nation.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe wonders if Obamacare's supporters AND detractors know for sure what they're even talking about.

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That idea was offered yesterday at lunch with three friends after we'd finished a round of golf.

One of them is an economic conservative, the second quite liberal across the board, and the third a committed advocate of the tea party.

Weird, I know, but true.

Because we're all getting older now, our conversation turned to health care, the Affordable Care Act, and Canada's system.

After a few minutes, the tea party guy held up his hands, palms out, and said, "Wait a minute. The truth is, none of us really knows what the hell we're talking about."

After a few moments reflection, we all nodded our heads and reluctantly agreed that, the details are so many and so confusing and so often contradictory, he was right. We really didn't.

So, after some research last night, here's what I learned. I don't know for sure if Obamacare is the answer, but we'd better do something. And fast.

I often hear that our health care system is the best in the world. But if that's true why do we spend so much--$8,000, per capita far more than any other country in the world, while ranking only 50th in life expectancy and infant mortality rates?

We rank behind countries like Singapore and Greece and Hong Kong and South Korea, even Cuba. Yet, we spend more than 18 percent of our GDP on health care.

I know that in the days after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in June, a number of Americans cluelessly tweeted that they were so angry, they were going to move to Canada until the political winds here in the U.S. changed. Not the best place to run to to escape socialized medicine.

Canada. I know that in the 60's, the cries of outrage against Canada's concept of universal health care was the lead story almost daily in in newspapers there.

It would bring the country to its knees, critics said. It was, if there is such a word, un-Canadian. Canadian doctors fought it tooth and nail. In other words, it was a lot like here, now.

But 45 years later, a recent poll reveals that 82 percent of all Canadians—across all demographics--prefer their system to ours. 82 percent!

We can't get that many people in this country to say they prefer sunny days.

Fact is, only 25 percent of Americans, a couple of years ago, had kind things to say about our healthcare system.

Fact is, we're paying tons of money in this country for healthcare that's too expensive and, for the "best system in the world," just isn't getting the job done.

A few years ago, the CBC asked Canadians to choose the greatest Canadian in history.

Hockey player Wayne Gretzky made the list. So did former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.

But the winner was none other than Tommy Douglas.

He was a Canadian politician and the father of his country's universal health care.

They're doing something right up there, eh?

So, if the only reason you'd vote for Mitt Romney is to get rid of Obamacare, it wouldn't hurt to give it some thought.

That's all I'm saying.

In this corner... I'm Tom Van Howe.
Rethinking Obamacare
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Last Update on April 17, 2014 17:08 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits last week rose 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. Jobless claims continue to be near pre-recession levels despite the slight increase.

The Labor Department says that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 312,000. That is the lowest four-week average since October 2007, just two months before the Great Recession started. The average has fallen by 53,500 applications over the past 12 months.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The current level of claims suggests that employers are holding on their workers with the expectation of stronger economic growth ahead.

Employers added 192,000 jobs in March and 197,000 in February, the Labor Department reported. Hiring has picked up after a slowdown caused by severe winter weather.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27 percent from 4.34 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33 percent from 3.38 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.

Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Others have had trouble qualifying for mortgages.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Investment bank Goldman Sachs says its first-quarter earnings fell as fixed income trading slumped.

The bank earned $1.9 billion in the quarter, down 11 percent from the same period a year earlier when it made $2.2 billion.

The earnings were equivalent to $4.02 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet had predicted earnings of $3.49 a share.

Revenue totaled $9.3 billion, down 8 percent from a year earlier, when the bank generated revenue of $10.1 billion. The latest quarterly revenue beat analysts' expectations of $8.7 billion.

Goldman's stock rose $2.78, or 1.8 percent, to $160 in pre-market trading.

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For the quarter, the company earned $1.22 billion, or 79 cents per share. Not including one-time items, it earned 83 cents per share, above the 75 cents per share Wall Street expected.

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Revenue edged up to $12.62 billion, higher than the $12.39 billion analysts expected.

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