Solution 1B) Entitlement Reform – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

July 6, 2011

"Well now your back's going to hurt!"

So here is where the hard part begins when I specifically start talking about entitlements.  Before I begin on how to actually fix them, I must point out two oxymoronic aspects of entitlements in general.  The first is that everybody is generally for a getting the nation’s fiscal house in order by fixing the budget and the deficit.  Everyone generally knows that the government spends too much, even if it admittedly does a poor job at collecting taxes from entities that should be paying them.  Secondly, everyone generally also knows that it is the big three entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) are really what imperils our nation fiscally.  The liabilities in the future for the same level of care and money provided to more and more aging baby boomers is completely unsustainable.  Why then, does everyone know these two facts but just continue to stick their head in the sand?  The longer you wait, the worse the problem will get!

With that set of observations out of the way, I am prepared to tell you the hard, ugly truth about entitlements.  It is not meant to be offensive, critical, or an attack.  This is simply the blatant truth.

Entitlements create the false choice of promising something this nation, as great as it is, cannot deliver.  Every year, we spend more and more money that we do not actually have on an elderly population that has a disproportionate sway on government (because they actually vote unlike other demographic groups – but good for them!) and that money/healthcare is seen as a something the elderly population is entitled to collect.  That money goes to a generally unproductive strata of society that was over-promised a system of support in their waning years and underpaid into it due to bad government programs and policies of the past.  It hurts to say it but its true.  Its also highly unpopular and not fair to just pull the plug on Grandma.  Meanwhile, that same money that is keeping her alive but giving her years of sub-standard quality of life standards at a retirement home could have been reinvested in education, energy development, infrastructure, or co-opting domestic business development; all things that yield a return on the money spent.  Outside the fact that some of the money is spent outright on consumption in this consumption-drive economy, money spent on entitlements just goes up in smoke .  This is not to say that we leave the elderly on the streets, but it is a painful amount of federal and state monies being spent on the past, not the future.

The problem and difficulty with entitlements is that it is really, really easy to promise something that was cheap 40 years ago, but really hard to pay for it today or claw it back when the expenses have greatly gone up.  The rules have changed.  People are living longer, more complex medical procedures cost more and then they keep people alive longer as a form of double whammy.   A great example of how things have gone awry is the Social Security retirement age.  Social Security benefit ages have not risen as fast as life-expectancy in this country.  FDR’s administration originally designed it with an age bracket in mind that most Americans never lived to see.  Many paid into the system, but didn’t collect from it.  That is how it was sustainable.   Society today is also far more likely to ship parents and grandparents off to the expense of a home rather than have the ‘burden’ of them living with family once they get too old to take care of themselves.  Hence, the tax-payers pay for the greater cost of care than the cheaper alternative of the elderly staying with family…even if further subsistence payments were available for family-based care.

The same general principle can be applied to health-care for the poor.  “It’s not my money, it’s the governments so why do I care?”  Well it is your money in a very direct sense every April 15th.   Indigent care, unneeded ER visits, and other forms of “disinvested” spending are ways that great sums of money are wasted.  And that is a problem my friends – we spend way too much money to get substandard results of an impoverished elderly class, expensive health-care, and a culture of dependency in welfare.

My statements do not mean that the poor should die in the streets, that the elderly should just hurry up or die, or that you have to pass a ‘contributing to society test’ in order to get help should you fall on hard times.  My statements are aimed at how we strive for noble social goals to take care of our most vulnerable citizens and we yer fail both them and our future citizenry grandly by continuing to contribute to the fraud, waste, and abuse of the current system.  Good enough just won’t cut it much longer.

The Solution(s) –They are actually very hard, but amazingly simple.

1) The first and the greatest is the solution I proposed to make medical care cheaper and more effective from the previous article.  By following that program, you lower everyone’s costs and it makes it a lot cheaper to care for the elderly, the poor, and everyone in between.  That right there has a direct effect on how wealthy a person actually is from the social security check when only a fraction (instead of 2/3rds) goes to prescription, co-pays, and medical charges.  And obviously, cheaper healthcare means cheaper Medicare and Medicaid costs.

Such reforms only get us treading water however.  There are still too many promises and IOUs in the accounts of these programs.  Instead of making a patch that will last for 25 – 30 years, like the US did in  1983 for Social Security before it needs to get fixed again, lets put the problems to bed once and for all.

2) Social Security:  Raise the retirement age.  Early retirement 64-66.  Standard retirement 66-70.  Delayed retirement 72-74.  Something like that.  I purposefully put a range in as this is nt supposed to be hard and fast, but give you an idea of what I’m thinking.  You see, there is some misconception in this country that you work for X years and then you don’t have to anymore.  THE WORLD DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY IF YOU DON’T PROACTIVELY SAVE FOR THAT DAY.  Solely depending upon social security is what keeps over 40% of our elderly citizens out of poverty…and even then it’s not like they have a lot of money to work with.  This country needs to get off the mindset that someone will be there to take care of you, so you don’t have to make financial sacrifices now in the form of an IRA or a 401(k) to ensure your financial security in the future.  Too few people save and its the savers who get punished by low interest rates (like today’s environment) or possibly later.  All it will take is Congress’s writ and things like ROTH IRAs could be taxed despite already being taxed as regular income when the money was deposited.  Platitudes like ‘shared responsibility’ and ‘helping your fellow American’ are all to easily thrown out when times are depression level tough and money has to be raised.  While this is mere conjecture, look at the current batch of charlatans in Congress, look yourself in the mirror, and try to lie to yourself and say they wouldn’t do it today if push comes to shove.

Lastly, if you’re one of the lucky few who have a retirement program, good for you…but you are in a dwindling minority.

3)  Social Security:  After a certain lifetime income, benefits decrease until they are gone altogether.  Call it a ‘success tax’ if you will.  This program doesn’t affect the middle class or even the well-to-do, but the actual truly wealthy people in this nation who have millions in brokerage accounts, have yachts, a home in the Hamptons, and in retirement, could maintain a middle class existence on the interest payments from their assets alone.  These guys don’t need the help of the American tax-payer.  Yes, they paid into a system they never get to benefit from…but they did benefit – from ree market, American style capitalism.  Their success, their profits, come from the people whose hard work made them money and their wages bought their products.  They directly and indirectly benefitted from people who were monetarily less successful than them but buoyed their success.

4)  Medicare:  Make the free market the cost standard – not the other way around.  Today everything is based upon what Medicare bills.  In my solution from the previous article, it is the market…and that is what medicare pays.  It is just another way to dampen bubbles and pay fairly for services as Medicare would still be a large buying block of patients in any market.  The rest of solution 1 addresses the directly reduction of Medicare costs.

5) Medicaid as a subset of the welfare system:  It’s the carrot or the stick.  The truly poor, helpless, underaged, and defenseless sectors of society need to be protected no matter what, no strings attached.  Solution 1 at least makes it cheaper.  However, there is a portion of the populace that abuses the system, to include their health care.  They choose to be ‘poor’ because it actually enriches them.  Why work at a crappy job, make $400 a week and have to pay food, rent, day-care, and health insurance costs and not have ends meet because you are lazy and have no other opportunities for employment other than working at a McDonalds when instead you can be on welfare, do nothing, and get food stamps, WIC, child-based welfare checks, and a Medicaid card?  Then you may only get a check for $300 a week, but its all discretionary as the government pays the rest of your bills?  A self-interested person would of course choose the second option, especially if they have no qualms of not contributing to society.  The welfare state for the unworthy and the willingness to take advantage of it are both un-American and I take a very dim view.  We need both the carrot and the stick.  Those who can’t pass drug tests, keep jobs, and generally be contributing members of society despite being able-bodied need to be cut off.  It is not government’s responsibility to subsidize their sloth.  However, if we are to take such a hard approach, we must have a carrot as well.  Workers must be given a living wage.  This is a combination in  a raise in minimum wage, a reduction in costs of life’s necessities where possible (food, energy, etc – I’ll cover in another segment), and more investment in social services that teach job skills, place jobs, and dust people off and get them back on their feet.  If they are willing to work hard and contribute, then the welfare system is working how it should.  This section was much larger than just Medicaid, but that program is a subset of a much larger issue that is hard to separate Medicaid from, so I covered the major points while admittedly going off topic.

Finally, I don’t admit to having all the answers.  I probably have more in my head and there are more out there.  This article was designed to give you some specific solutions, but also take 3 steps back and evaluate entitlements and how they are viewed in general.  If you can come at them from a fiscally sustainable obligation that is fair while not stealing from the future of the next generation of Americans, then you’ve arrived at the same conclusions I have.

– G.S.

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Solutions 1A) – National Debt via Healthcare

July 2, 2011

did you know - that snakes were an ancient sign of healing? Hence why they're in this symbol.

Tell me if I’m wrong, but as broken as government is, it is because of men, not because of the problems being insurmountable.  Yes, hard choices have to be made, but wasting months and months of time arguing over a debt ceiling that we all know is going to get raised is simply irresponsible.

Thus I am making a new segment for a while and offering you a battery of solutions (in brief – I could go much further into depth for each).  I always say, don’t give my problems, give me solutions.  Well here they are.  They would work if the charlatans would get out of the way.

National Debt

To tackle such a huge issue, you must have multiple prongs of attack.  I will address by its various parts that in total, add up to addressing the problem…which is turn also address other issues that need to be solved on a national level.

A – The Health Care Industry

Completely gut the program in a voluntary 4 state test ‘opt-in’ experimental program for 5 years.  Start it in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri or another block of a couple of contiguous states.

Take away all but the most basic framework regulations at a federal level while also making it so the states cannot interfere with the program to foul it up either.  The bottom line is to make as free a market as possible for all aspects of the industry so that true capitalism, not crony-capitalism rules.  Good business decisions and ethical behavior gets rewarded, and greed and graft fail as customers and the industry goes somewhere else.

Let all current healthcare providers sign up.  Existing insurance companies cannot participate unless they make fully transparent and separate entity spin-off businesses for this experimental market.  Entrepreneurial endeavors are welcomed as well and incentives will be provided to encourage their creation.

Loser pays, common-sense tort reform is enacted to decimate the lawsuit rate in healthcare in this experimental area for all but the most blatant offenses where the case is justified.  Force actuaries to adjust risk premiums for such a new environment for hospitals and doctors so that their malpractice insurance plummets.

Drug companies are allowed to go through an ultra-streamlined FDA approval process for the introduction of new drugs in this market at much quicker and reduced cost, with risks fully disclosed to the patients and the drug-maker being held fully accountable should patients get bad medicine.  At the same time, imports from Canada, generics, and other ways to lessen the cost of medicine is allowed.  The market decides what is best.

Indigent care that is non-emergency can be refused at the Emergency room upon quick, initial professional assessment by a registered nurse or doctor.  Repeat offenders can be fined.  A TV advertising campaign in the test area is conducted during the most popular TV shows – American Idol, Glee, NCIS, etc to advertise the program and the restrictions, like the emergency room refusal policy.  Public clinics should have lower costs with these programs, but they can get extra help in a streamlined fashion from the government when shown that the policy is working and they are seeing more patients.

Finally, any angle that I didn’t cover could be addressed with your input.  The bottom line is that there is enough need and money to go around for government to help be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.  A young doctor, just finished with their residency should want to open their own community practice back home because their small town needs a doctor.  This also would include things like changing how doctors are compensated…whatever works for both the doctor and the insurer.  Heck, if costs were low enough, doctors could charge customers directly without health insurance just like most other transactions.

The best legislation we can make is legislation that gets the legislation out of the way and lets the free market truly be free and let capitalism work.  We still need basic FDA protections and anti-trust protections, but give this program a try for 2 – 5 years.  I believe that it would be wildly successful and the healthcare industry in other states would CLAMOR to have this system adopted.

This system would give better care, be more profitable, and save tons and tons of money for all involved.  Government would spend less on red tape, make more money on taxation of businesses, and the care would be so much cheaper that not only could everyone now afford healthcare, they would have multiple options to choose from, people would WANT to opt-in without being forced to, and the cost of government providing healthcare via Medicare and Medicaid would plummet.

That greatly reduces the ballooning costs of the social contract our government has with its citizenry, especially the elderly.  However, the specifics of Medicare is my next segment.  Most costs associated with health-care come at the end of life, and there are ways to curb those expenditures as well within the system I just outlined here.

Thoughts, improvement, criticism?  I want it all because I know there is a solution but I surely haven’t covered all the angles.

– G.S.


“Deem” This

March 16, 2010

Where's the shredder?

My thanks to Michelle Malkin and http://iowntheworld.com/blog for the great picture!

  The debate on health care has gone beyond reaching a fever-pitch; it got to that level last week folks.  I’ve already hashed out reconciliation and making this health care bill into an education and budget bill  as well.

Now the  process has gone off the rails.  I’m talking a 100 car trainwreck in downtown D.C. where every car is laden with C4  and rocket fuel.

Bad bills are one thing.  Big government and forced health care just ratchets things up another notch, and is something else entirely.  Nancy Pelosi and her cronies slaughtering The Constitution goes beyond the pale though. 

 Pun fully intended.

What am I talking about?  If you haven’t heard, let me boil it down for you:

This health care bill is unpopular, even among Democrats for a variety of reasons all over the board.  Its not liberal enough (no single payer system), its not fiscally conservative (blue dog Dems), it uses tax-payer money to pay for abortions (some Dems and many Republicans), and a whole party is voting against it, etc.  What really rankles the Democrats isn’t the fact that the majority of Americans don’t like it.  What gets their goat is that many Democrats don’t like the fact that they have to approve the Senate’s version of health care before they can vote for the book of amendments to make it more palatable for themselves.  With the straight up or down reconciliation vote (which is already controversial itself) that President Obama called for – everyone has to go on record that they voted for or against the Senate’s version of the bill and the amendments.  That’s two votes.

Democratic Representatives in the House don’t want to go on record come the mid-term elections as having voted for the sweetheart deals that enabled the Senate to pass the bill.  Deals like Ben Nelson’s ‘Corn-Husker Kickback’ and Mary Landrieu’s ‘Louisianna Purchase’.  Deals specifically designed to give benefits to those specific states (among others) in order to secure those Senators’ votes.

So, to address the reticence of some Democratic reps, the speaker has found a way to avoid going on the record.  Pelosi, got Rep slaughter (D., N.Y.), chair of the House Rules Committee, to propose passing the Senate health care bill and the corrective amendments with one vote using a ‘deem and pass’ rule.  Basically, the House first holds the amendment vote.  With its passage, it is understood that the Senate’s health care bill is ‘deemed’ to have ‘passed’ as well.

There’s only one teeny problem with that…it is specifically prohibited in the Constution.  Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution reads:

…But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively…

This excerpt is near the end of the first paragraph, right after talking about Presidential veto and the two-thirds vote needed to override it.

You need ‘yeas and nays’ and the names of of those yeas and nays must be recorded.  This slaughter rule unqesetionably violates both the clear wording and the intent behind it.

James Madison chose the wording and the inclusion of this when he penned The Constitution for a reason.  He knew that you needed to hold members of Congress accountable.  Come the mid-term elections, Republicans and Independents can quote these Democratic Congressmens’ records and spin the story that said congressmen voted for the sweetheart deals.  Those reps don’t want that.  The problem is, that accountability is to the voters – who will not be happy and are more likely through the democratic process to votes them out of office.  So, afraid of their own political futures, some may not vote for the health-care bill and that handful of ‘neys’ really could make the difference.  It is that close.  Pelosi in order to game the system and get the health-care bill passed has no problem shredding The Constitution and that is why she is one of the few Democrats I repeatedly name time and time again in this blog.  She represents the worst of everything in our political process and the government.

  I in part quote today’s WSJ’s leading opinion piece:

“If Congress can now decide that the House can vote for one bill and the Senate can vote for another, and the final result can be some arbitrary hybrid, then we have abandoned one of Madison’s core checks and balances.  Yes, self-executing rules have been used in the past, but as the Congressional Research Service put it in a 2006 paper, “Originally, this type of rule was used to expedite House action in disposing of Senate amendments to House-passed bills.” They’ve also been used for amendments such as to a 1998 bill that “would have permitted the CIA to offer employees an early-out retirement program”—but never before to elide a vote on the entire fundamental legislation.”

The full article is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703909804575123512773070080.html

I couldn’t have said it better.  This process shouldn’t have ever been used at all.  The Hindenblog talks about this exclusively here: http://hindenblog1.blogspot.com/2010/03/crash-slaughtering-constituionwe-fouled.html – shaming the Republicans because THE CONSTITUION MATTERS!

This procedure is Pandora’s Box.  When opened (as the Republicans have done), what comes out at first is innocuous twist of rules that is just a matter of convenience and helps expedite the legislative process.  Eventually though, you get the true evil – a demon that springs out of the box that will fundamentally transform one-sixth of the US economy or more.  Now of all times is NOT the time for games to be played to get something passed come hook or crook.  Such games directly threaten the republic.  The HindenBlog article I referenced above put it best:

“The Constitution matters.  Nobody cuts corners, and violates the Constitution…even a little bit…without enormous risk.  The motives may be pure, the immediate consequences nil, but ignoring the founding charter of our nation for the sake of expediency leads us to the kind of despicable perversion we see in Slaughter’s proposed rule.  The terrible power of precedent is put into play, as we see now.  That the precedent set is tortured beyond credulity does not matter, as any law student knows.  Thereafter, the new precedent…often unrecognizable as the logical extension of what they did by the authors of the preceding one (because it isn’t logical)…becomes the new place-holder that creative, unprincipled people will try to move further down the road to ruin.”

Remember friends – the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, even if it is intentions that you don’t want.

– G.S.


Smorsgasboard!

March 4, 2010

Our Bloated Budget - Personified!

 I come writing to you today with some hope.  I found not one, not two, but three excellent articles from my preferred periodical of all things political – The Washington Post.  Funny how a libertarian like myself reads a generally left-leaning paper.  What can I say?  Well,  The WSJ doesn’t have enough politics even if what I get is left-leaning bias.  Not today though!

#1 – Health Care Summit – Kathleen Parker opinion piece

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030202745.html?referrer=emailarticle

Here, Kathleen Parker does a pretty good job of keeping the bias out.  I believe she hits the nail squarely on the head.  Especially when she talks about the Tea Party and Independent voters.  I quote:

“Health-care reform is now about the November election. It’s about gamesmanship. And though the parties differ in fundamental ways that really do matter, a growing majority of Americans no longer care who’s up or down, who wins or loses. A pox on everyone’s house, they say.  The tea party movement is partly a manifestation of this perspective. And, contra wing-nuttery in the margins of the movement, most constituents are everyday Americans who don’t think the federal government should control one-sixth of the economy.  This is not an irrational position, but rather suggests respect for human nature and chaos theory.  At the same time, more and more Americans are abandoning traditional political parties, with about 40 percent of the electorate identifying as independents. A perfect storm this way comes.”

  She’s talking about me and others like me.  We’re not a fringe.  We’re not an extension of the Republican Party, and we certainly don’t think Washington is broken – only most of the people and the political games that makes the city run.  Our Founders created a system designed to fight bad policy and it is doing just that.  Hopefully we’ll toss the bums out.

#2 – Wall Street and its Woeful Lack of Reform – Harold Meyerson opinion piece

 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/02/AR2010030202944.html?referrer=emailarticle

Lets set the record straight.  I am a free market capitalist.  We still have the best socio-ecomonic-political system in the history of mankind.  However… ignorant consumers, greedy men, above-the-law-corporations, bailouts, and politicians make for a dreadful combination.  When we reward bad behavior, save companies that should have cratered, give criminals passes, and tell our citizens to spend – then even I am tempted to scream for more regulation.  How about this though?  Re-enact some of the good legislation – like Glass-Steagal?  Enforce what you have on the books – someone wake the tools over at the SEC up.  Hold the ratings agencies like Moodys accountable (do not give them a pass on their compromised position of being paid by the same companies they are supposed to grade).  Finally, don’t make new agencies or give the secretive Federal Reserve more power.  Give the FDIC the  ability to unwind too big to fail companies just like it does with banks.  Its a similar process – make a sub-department!  Yes, I realize that this is over-simplified, but no one else has proven the ability or trustworthiness to do the job right so give it to Sheila Bair and her lieutenants.  

Meyerson says it better than I though:

“But none of that apparently matters on Capitol Hill, where Republicans oppose all reforms and center-right Democrats carve out lovely loopholes, as they both scramble for the mega-contributions the bankers dole out.  Over the past two years, no group has received more government support, or has more rigidly opposed government regulation, than the banks. Compared to Wall Street, the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries are pushovers.”

3# – Singaporean Healthcare – Matt Miller opinion piece

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/03/AR2010030301396.html?referrer=emailarticle

You know its pretty bad when Singapore is held up as the model of health care that this country should emulate.  Reading the article, you know that this level of consensus and control is impossible and illegal in this country – but cutting out some of the fraud, waste, and abuse (from all sides – and yes, I am looking at you the consumer as well) can go a long way.  Miller boils it all down to this paragraph:

“We obviously can’t transplant Singapore’s approach wholesale to the United States. But the reason we can’t emulate even some of Singapore’s success has to do with that iron law of health-care politics: Every dollar of health-care “waste” is somebody’s dollar of income. As a stable advanced democracy, we’re so overrun by groups with stakes in today’s waste that real efficiency gains are perennially blocked.”

Amen, Matt, amen.  And I thank Kathleen and Harold as well.  These 3 articles are a smorgasboard of thoughtful opinion from 3 different journalists.  They are not claiming the government is broken or that capitalism is dead unlike CNN and MSNBC.  They are saying that the people and the politics at the helm of this government are not doing their job and hence are running the country into the ground.  There are plenty of problems to fix, but not enough reality or political will-power in Washington to get it done.  Democrats control the show, but because their policies are just enough out of touch with America, they can’t get a single Republican to vote with them most of the time – which provides them NO political cover and makes them worried come Election Day when they have to face pissed-off voters.  I don’t lay any credit at Republican feet either.  People (to include me) don’t like you because of your expansionist government that abrogated our rights to ‘protect us’ all while screaming about how you want to cut taxes despite all of your spending and big government.  You’re only marginally better than the Dems because you haven’t figured out you have to cut both.  The zero-sum political games you guys play don’t help either.  This critique is obviously pointed more at Congress, but the other two branches catch my ire as well.  I am no fan of President Obama’s politics nor of The Supreme Court’s most recent ruling on how corporations can contribute as much as they want to a campaign on behalf of a candidate. 

The bottom line is that there are a list of serious problems in the country longer than my arm that aren’t getting done – The Economy, Deficits, Energy (to include clean and green), Health-Care, Unemployment, Education, Immigration, Terrorism, and my ‘favorite’ – compromised politicians. 

 I truly believe that if we as a nation solve this last problem first, the rest will fall into place. 

– G.S.


Even Liberals Know This Isn’t Health-Care Reform

December 17, 2009

Today I present two articles to you.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/16/AR2009121601906.html

   The first is from a writer at the WP and it details a specific amdendment to the health-care ‘reform’ bill that was aimed at allowing foreign-made drugs to come into the US  which could provide the exact same drug to the prescribed, but it could be up to 10 times cheaper.  Sounds good right?  We want health-care to be cheaper; both for ourselves and our nation.  Controlling costs is an expressed purpose of this reform and I completely agree it is needed.  Its the methodology that I disagree with.  

  Since you’re reading this article and my outrage is predictable, you won’t be surprised that the Senate voted the amendment down by a large margin.  How did this happen?  Again, no surprise here.  Lobbyist influence, pure and simple.

 So lets look at what’s going on.   The President has already cut a $80 billion back-room deals with these guys,  and then goes back on his campaign promises and gives them a pass here.  Why?  He needs big pharma’s support or the whole legislative effort would tank if they started opposing it.

Who cares if big pharma doesn’t like it.  They’re part of the problem.  Screw them!  Well, not if you’re in their pocket.  And once you’re in their pocket…

  Mr. Obama can only get his bill passed if the Congressmen who are funded by big pharma vote for it.  So, if these pharmacy companies (not the tax-payers) tell these Congressmen to kill the bill, they will – and that is what the President fears.

   Its so painfully obvious, its insulting that we let this happen.  If any of these jokers had your best interests at heart and wanted to save us money, they’d obviously allow competition and add the amendment in.  Instead they cite FDA safety concerns of drug safety when in reality a large portion of the chemicals that go into the drugs come from outside the US to begin with.  Adding competition would be an easy and obvious way at reducing your medical bills – especially the elderly on a fixed income.  Just think about all the perscriptions some take…and the portion that Medicare picks up. Don’t forget you are partially paying for that part too.

   Instead, these ‘representatives’ of ours want to stay in office and enjoy the perks of their cozy job.  They do that largely through the campaign contributions from lobbyists – big pharma being one of the most generous.  It is obviously more important to get re-elected and cater to special interest than for them to actually represent their constituents and do what is best by them.  Obviously it would be bad for big pharma’s profits if the President or those bought-and-sold in Congress allow competition to come in.

   It makes me sick, absolutely sick.  This is the most bald-faced example of how this government is  largely no longer ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’

   Then, it gets even better.   Howard Dean wrote this piece today.  Again, I know I am getting into the habit of citing people who may surprise you, but it should only add credibility when people of opposite ideological leanings are coming to the same conclusion that I have been harping about.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/16/AR2009121601906.html

  Bottom line, Mr. Dean and I agree that this isn’t real reform.  His solution may be different than mine, but we both smell a rat.  

– G.S.


Shifting the Cost of Health-Care to the Young

November 4, 2009

   Michael Gerson,the author of this WP article is pretty neutral and fair in my estimation.  I may be biased, so sue me.  In any case, its a valuable read for everyone, but especially young voters.  Remember, ask yourslef has any real reform been proposed?  The same characters will be making the same money, but in different ways and simply ‘spreading their food around their plate’ to make it look like no-ones paying for it.  Well, it looks like the young voters are going to be on the hook.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/03/AR2009110302625.html

-G.S.

 

 


$500!?! What Is The Point Of Having Insurance?

September 29, 2009

So maybe I’m beating a dead horse on health-care.  Oh well, its trendy and in the media and oh so appropriate.  Nevertheless, here I am with my story and my spin. 

So to make a long story short, my wife gets back from the OBGYN – we are having a baby.  Shortly thereafter, she gets a bill for her visit.   ITS $500!!!  No joke, the bloodwork that was sent to the labs is not covered on the health insurance.  What then, is the point of having health insurance if not to cover stuff like this.

We are both young and healthy.  We don’t smoke, we lead active lives, and are in excellent health and we are not hypochondriacs.  We rarely even go to the doctor.    We subsidize all the other people on the plan who aren’t so mentally stable or fortunate with their health.  

What then, is the point of insurance when you pay good money out of pocket every month?  Then when you actually have it to use it for something as natural as having a baby (families generally have them) you get a fraction of the benefit.  It disgusts me.  This is just one more way people  pay more than their fair share and then do not get the benefit that they paid for.  And this is mild.  Its only $500.  I hate to say it, but its true.  Things like dropping people or refusing them because of pre-existing conditions is even more heinous. 

Mind you me, I will fight this but this is just another example (and a personal example of mine) that shows how broken the system is.   Congress’s push to not allow refusal for pre-existing conditions is good, but it needs to include pregnancy tests and whatnot as part of routine care as a part of that push.  A sick or unhealthy child is a lot more expensive than a kid that gets basic prenatal care – be they insured or not.  I could see how some people would be hard pressed to just find $500 – so they would avoid the needed testing.   That is a dangerous game  people are forced to play, especially when it concerns a child’s life.  The alternative is for that mother to stick the hospital (read insured patients) with the bill.  Which is wrong as well.

  Maybe the insurance companies should actually give something for the money people pay out for once.