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Scott Brown, Health Care and the NAR

Woman with medicineOK.  We lost.  The “‘Just Say No’ to Everything” party is doing their end zone happy dance all over the media and the pundits are  foretelling the doom and disappearance of the Democratic Party.  Senate Minority Leader, John Boehner,  is saying health care reform is dead.  Christopher Dodd, retiring Democratic Chair of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, is talking about a “pause button”.

I agree with John Boehner. With the upset victory by Republican Scott “Number 41” Brown in Massachusetts, there is no way that National health care reform will make it out of the conference committee, let alone receive the votes it needs to make it to the President’s desk for signature.  That’s too bad.  A chance at affordable and accessible health care was thrown out the window in the name of the status quo of ginormous insurance company profits.

Well, we get it. We’re big boys and  it’s time to move on. Perhaps now Obama will wake up to the fact that his philosophy of trying g to play nice and elicit some semblance of bipartisanship from Congress is a lost cause.  It’s time to take off the gloves and get serious if anything of his agenda is to be salvaged.

What can NAR do?

In an article for Inman News, Rob Hahn waxes poetic about the political clout of the National Association of REALTORS® (note: you may need to be a premium member of Inman News to read this archived article).

OK. Fine.  If NAR is, indeed, so powerful, now is the time to step up to the plate for its members.  NAR needs to act like the special interest group that it is and start spreading the money around and start talking to Senators and Congresspeople about affordable and accessible health care for REALTORS®.  That’s right.  General population?  Millions of unemployed or those with pre-existing conditions?  Fogedaboutit!

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We want ours.

Currently, the NAR has a membership of a million two, give or take a couple of thou.  That’s a lot of people and a huge “group” by any standards.  Surely, some insurance company somewhere can see the advantage of stepping up to cover this group.  If it’s a legal issue about Associations or whatnot, then the laws need to be changed in our favor.

Let’s rev up the engines, NAR. Affordable and accessible health care for REALTORS® now!

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Written By

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Joe Sheehan

    January 24, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Given the political leanings of the majority of NAR membership. I think it is more likely that NAR supports the defeat of health care. I think largely, the membership is pleased with the result.

    • Ken Montville

      January 24, 2010 at 10:20 am

      Maybe so, Joe. I keep hearing NAR is “working on it” when they talk about health care for REALTORS(r)

    • Jeremy Isaac

      January 25, 2010 at 12:36 am

      Joe, I agree that the membership is by and large pleased with the result. However, that doesn’t mean NAR is pleased with the result. NAR is becoming like the unions… more concerned with their own survival and clout than what is important for their members.

  2. John Kalinowski

    January 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Sorry Ken, but the last thing I want is the NAR putting their bloody hands all over health care system! It’s not that difficult to get affordable health care as a Realtor. I have a high-deductible medical savings account plan that works very well for my family of 7, and it even includes vision and dental coverage. You have to be responsible (imagine that!), and learn how to set a few bucks aside in the medical savings account portion of the plan, and it winds up providing a very affordable option.

    If the government and the NAR really want to help, then open up our ability to purchase health insurance across state lines and expand the program offerings of medical savings accounts. The last thing we need is for more political cronies to “start spreading the money around”!

    • Ken Montville

      January 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      Every man for himself. Sounds good to me. Just mail my dues back to my office so I can divert them to my health plan.

  3. Matt Thomson

    January 24, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I agree with John on this one. I’ve got a great health care plan for my family of 3. My wife is a stay at home mom, our 2yr old was a NICU baby, and it still works great. I’ve chosen a plan for myself, but my company (Keller Williams) also offers a fantastic health care plan for their agents.
    I realize not every Realtor chooses to work for a big name company, but maybe if more big name companies would step up and offer plans like KW’s NAR would have something to model.
    Or, better yet, as John suggests, maybe we could take some personal responsibility and not rely on the govt to provide needs that we should provide ourselves.

  4. Missy Caulk

    January 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Ken, you said…

    “Perhaps now Obama will wake up to the fact that his philosophy of trying g to play nice and elicit some semblance of bipartisanship from Congress is a lost cause.”

    Huh?

    What bipartianship, who was invited to the table? Perhaps if that was true, we would have had good health care reform, a compromise bill that would have reformed some things that definitely need reform.

    Closed door meetings, a bill no one could read, a trillion dollar debt, this is not a bipartisanship bill, perhaps in the future we will get one.

    • Ken Montville

      January 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      C;mon, Missy. Obama has been reaching out to the Republicans since Day 1. Inviting them to the White House, consulting with them in Congress. It was the Republican leadership decision to stonewall any and everything Obama and the Democratic majority put out.

      The sad part of all of this is that the Democrats are going to do the same thing to the Republicans once the majority shifts. This is not the way government is supposed to work.

      Oh wait. Ayn Rand wouldn’t have any government (or just a bare bones one)..

  5. Randy Hollister, CRB

    January 24, 2010 at 11:29 am

    NAR already did that, Ken, but your friends in the Democrat party rejected it.

    In 2006, NAR did a big push for S.1955 that would have allowed association health plans across state lines. Here is the call to action they sent to all members on 4/12/2006:


    NAR Call For Action: U.S. Senate to Vote on Small Business Health Insurance – Tell Your Senators to Support It!

    The full Senate will soon take up S.1955, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act. This bill, planned for a floor vote in early May, will allow you and other independent business persons to acquire affordable health insurance coverage. The time to act is now! Your U.S. Senators need to hear from you.

    S.1955 cleared its first Senate hurdle March 15, 2006 when REALTORS helped push the bill through a favorable vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. But, a more formidable hurdle looms because a full Senate floor vote is expected to be difficult. We can’t let up now. REALTORS must intensify their efforts and urge their Senators to vote YES for S.1955.”

    Ken, were you a REALTOR then? Did you contact your Senator?

    So, how did all that work out? Here is the roll call trying to end the Democrat filibuster (a ‘Yeah’ is in favor of the ability for Associations to offer interstate health plans):

    YEAs —55
    Alexander (R-TN)
    Allard (R-CO)
    Allen (R-VA)
    Bennett (R-UT)
    Bond (R-MO)
    Brownback (R-KS)
    Bunning (R-KY)
    Burns (R-MT)
    Burr (R-NC)
    Chambliss (R-GA)
    Coburn (R-OK)
    Cochran (R-MS)
    Coleman (R-MN)
    Collins (R-ME)
    Cornyn (R-TX)
    Craig (R-ID)
    Crapo (R-ID)
    DeMint (R-SC)
    DeWine (R-OH)
    Dole (R-NC)
    Domenici (R-NM)
    Ensign (R-NV)
    Enzi (R-WY)
    Frist (R-TN)
    Graham (R-SC)
    Grassley (R-IA)
    Gregg (R-NH)
    Hagel (R-NE)
    Hatch (R-UT)
    Hutchison (R-TX)
    Inhofe (R-OK)
    Isakson (R-GA)
    Kyl (R-AZ)
    Landrieu (D-LA)
    Lott (R-MS)
    Lugar (R-IN)
    Martinez (R-FL)
    McCain (R-AZ)
    McConnell (R-KY)
    Murkowski (R-AK)
    Nelson (D-NE)
    Roberts (R-KS)
    Santorum (R-PA)
    Sessions (R-AL)
    Shelby (R-AL)
    Smith (R-OR)
    Snowe (R-ME)
    Stevens (R-AK)
    Sununu (R-NH)
    Talent (R-MO)
    Thomas (R-WY)
    Thune (R-SD)
    Vitter (R-LA)
    Voinovich (R-OH)
    Warner (R-VA)

    NAYs —43
    Akaka (D-HI)
    Baucus (D-MT)
    Bayh (D-IN)
    Biden (D-DE)
    Bingaman (D-NM)
    Boxer (D-CA)
    Byrd (D-WV)
    Cantwell (D-WA)
    Carper (D-DE)
    Chafee (R-RI)
    Clinton (D-NY)
    Conrad (D-ND)
    Dayton (D-MN)
    Dodd (D-CT)
    Dorgan (D-ND)
    Durbin (D-IL)
    Feingold (D-WI)
    Feinstein (D-CA)
    Harkin (D-IA)
    Inouye (D-HI)
    Jeffords (I-VT)
    Johnson (D-SD)
    Kennedy (D-MA)
    Kerry (D-MA)
    Kohl (D-WI)
    Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    Leahy (D-VT)
    Levin (D-MI)
    Lieberman (D-CT)
    Lincoln (D-AR)
    Menendez (D-NJ)
    Mikulski (D-MD)
    Murray (D-WA)
    Nelson (D-FL)
    Obama (D-IL)
    Pryor (D-AR)
    Reed (D-RI)
    Reid (D-NV)
    Salazar (D-CO)
    Sarbanes (D-MD)
    Schumer (D-NY)
    Stabenow (D-MI)
    Wyden (D-OR)

    Not Voting – 2
    Rockefeller (D-WV)
    Specter (R-PA)

    Notice, Ken, how many of the “Nays” have a (D) next to them? So, just which is the ‘Just Say No’ party?

    Why did the Democrats oppose such an obvious reform? Because actually solving some of the real health insurance issues takes away the argument for nationalizing the entire system Over the years, the Democrats have consistently voted against any substantive reform. Perhaps Scott Brown’s election will put the nightmare of a government-run health care monopoly behind us and allow the Congress to work on actual reforms.

    Source: https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00119

    • Ken Montville

      January 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm

      You got me, Randy. I was in the profession but I wasn’t taking notes in 2006.

  6. April Groves

    January 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I am going to be unoriginal and go with the leanings of the previous commenters. I do not need my NAR dollars going to muddy up the waters of government controlled healthcare. Just as I don’t need particular states getting special treatment during the bargaining stage, neither do I desire my profession to receive special treatment.

    And I am not interested in “affordable” healthcare. I am interested in quality health care with options and choice. I served in the military for 11 years and experienced a form government run health care.

    – It was not free. I left my family, served my country and willingly went into harms way.
    – It was good. My children were all born healthy and my family was cared for well
    – However, it was not accessible. You kinda have to be in the military to use it so the numbers of people being cared for was controlled.
    – It was not for everything. Specialized care was outsourced. Being responsible all those people put a limit on what could be handled.

    While the care I received was wonderful, I don’t see it working outside of the military. Last thing I need is my healthcare being run by the same people that run the DMV. And if NAR can just continue working on the real estate industry, my family and I will continue making the decisions about our healthcare.

    • Ken Montville

      January 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      Typical.

      Working for affordable and accessible heath care for members of your trade association (i.e., NAR) is not, repeat: is not, the same thing as government run health care. Some of the things other commenters have mentioned such as making health care accessible across state lines and providing reasonable coverage for a wide range of health issues is more what I’m talking about.

      When I first entered the profession I had to seek out a health insurance company that would cover me as an individual. No matter I was a member of NAR plus my State and local Associations as well as a large National real estate franchise. It covered what I consider to be “catastrophic” occurrences and the premium went up every year whether I used it or not (and many years, I did not use it) and they were sky high premiums.

      Note to right wingers: Affordable and Accessible do not, I repeat, do not mean “Government run”. The horse is dead. Quit beating it.

  7. Jim Little

    January 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I would love to see affordable health care, just don’t think the plan on the table is the way. Forcing uniform procedures and forcing states to allow more competition might be a better way.

    I don’t think the vote for Brown was a vote for the Republican agenda as much as it was a vote AGAINST the status quo.

    Regarding Obama’s agenda, he has his priorities wrong, we need JOBS for all first. It is hard to pay a health premium, regards who supplies the plan, when a person can’t feed his family or pay his housing costs.

    • Ken Montville

      January 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      Finally, someone with a little sense.

      Jim, I agree. JOBS should be on the front burner. I would even go so far as to suggest that beating up on Wall Street is wasted energy. When enough people were working and putting money in their 401(k) plans and the like the big Wall Street bonuses didn’t matter as much. Give people work, again, and the bonuses will fade into the background. Heck, they might even get a job with health benefits. Wouldn’t that be grand?

  8. Matthew Hardy

    January 25, 2010 at 2:25 am

    I’ve worked around the healthcare industry for most of my life. My father was a hospital administrator and I’ve produced medical software for the best of the best.

    To a man or woman, most who actually work in healthcare say that rising costs arose from the need to practice medicine in defense of lawsuits – including astronomical malpractice insurance rates. Solve that first.

    I’ve also watched politics long enough to know the comfort the nation seemed to have when important legislation garnered the support of both parties. That didn’t happen here. For all the talk of “transparency” and the use of C-SPAN to keep us fully informed, we instead felt as if something was being crammed down our throats. The ultimate deal-breaker? Forcing Americans to purchase health insurance whether they want it or not, tying it to their tax records and threatening punishment for non-compliance. The federal government simply doesn’t have the power to do that – and it’s not something most want.

    The fact is, men and women of all political stripes may offer stellar ideas on solving every aspect of the problems associated with health costs. Our baseline has been that consensus isn’t just “nice”; broad support is required. You don’t get that with name-calling.

    Forgive me though… perhaps “right-winger” was used as a term of endearment.

    • Ken Montville

      January 25, 2010 at 7:13 am

      Thank you, Matthew for a reasoned response.

      This feeling of having something “crammed down our throats” is a response to the anticipated effort that was mounted by those who benefit by the status quo. When other programs or initiatives favored by Republicans and the right wing were hurried through the process when the Bushies were in power it was just called “patriotic” and any opposition was “un-American”.

      The Obama administration went out of its way to create consensus and transparency just by the very fact of encouraging Congress to hash out the details. That was the biggest mistake.

      Broad support is nice. It seems, though, we are living in a world where sides face off against each other without regard for how it affects the broader society from the unionized auto worker laid off while the CEO makes millions – to the white collar middle manager let go because of down sizing due to the unionized auto worker no longer having a job to be able to afford the product of the white collar middle manager’s company.. Or the millions of employees of companies that provide bare bones coverage or those that move from job A to job B and lose coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Or independent contractors, like REALTORS or the handyman types that do repairs after home inspections, etc, ad infinatum.

      It can go on and on.

      But, no. Every man (and woman) for themselves. Meanwhile, as you correctly point out, costs spiral ever upward because of medical practice that gets paid by the procedure and not total care and the fear of lawsuits.

      As far as terms of endearment – sort of like, “chardonnay sipping, NPR listening liberals”. Kinda like that.

  9. Mack Perry

    January 25, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Ken~Sorry to say it but I’m with Missy on this one. There has been a total lack of bipartisanship on the health care issue. What amazes me is that what was put on the table by the democrats that was soooo good for everyone is now not worth fighting for just because of one vote in the senate. If it was soooo good why weren’t the republicans involved in any of the closed door meetings? If it was soooo good why wasn’t it published on the internet for all to see and given at least 72 hours for review by the general public?

    Health Care needs to be reformed, not rammed down the public’s throat. Now that the democrats do not have their super majority perhaps congress will concentrate on something else, like jobs and the economy. We can only hope that is the path they will take!

    • Ken Montville

      January 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      Considering health care reform, in one iteration or another, has been on the agenda for decades, I don’t buy into the “cram it down our throat” argument.

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