The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare

85

We are going to be stuck with Donald Dump for the foreseeable future. Republicans will not impeach him. Nothing he can do will force them to abandon him. Even as the country tries to absorb Dump Jr’s e-mails confirming he met with a Russian lawyer with government connections to get dirt on Hillary Clinton – GOP collectively yawns. Mitch McConnell says he has no comment. Paul Ryan is MIA. John McCain is concerned and Lady Graham is disturbed. That’s as bad as the recriminations got. (Bernie Sanders, by the way, says we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. The strongest response came from Moe Scarborough who announced he’s leaving GOP to become an independent. Which is nice, but who cares?) The right-wing media has closed ranks around Dump and his abominations. Collusion with the Russians isn’t so bad, Breitbart and Fox have declared. Besides, shouldn’t Hillary Clinton be prosecuted, Sean Hannity asks?

The best response so far came from a surprising source: Trey Gowdy-Doody.

Someone needs to get everyone in a room and say, from the time you saw ‘Dr. Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single contact with Russia,” Gowdy said, referring to the 1965 movie.

But Gowdy-Doody says he will investigate nothing via his House committee; he’s leaving it all to Bob Mueller.

Vice President Pence’s courageous response via his spokesperson was:

The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do. […] The Vice President was not aware of the meeting. He is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket.

“Before he joined the ticket.” That’s Pence trying to have it both ways. Standing by Trump’s agenda and “Hey, don’t look at me, I just work here!” in case the story has legs. But considering each new story feels like the one that breaks the camel’s back and then it doesn’t… we shouldn’t expect this new story to be any different. Dump is here to stay. If he is to go, it can only be accomplished if Democrats take both House and Senate in 2018 (unlikely), and then the 2020 elections. Until then… we must fasten our seat-belts and get comfortable. The ride will continue to be bumpy.

Which brings me back to Mike Pence’s statement. “The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda.” What is this agenda? What is the future that Republicans want? It’s all bad. All bad. Mitch McConnell has postponed Senate’s August recess by two weeks, hoping to cobble a coalition that passes their healthcare abomination. Hopefully The Resistance continues the push-back and enough Rethugs are afraid enough of their constituents to vote Nay.

There is another story that came out last week from El Salvador that should chill all our spines because this is essentially the future Republicans want in the US too.

This week a court in El Salvador sentenced 19-year-old Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz following her conviction for aggravated homicide.

Hernandez says she became pregnant after being raped in the small community where she lived, according to her trial statements. She says she did not report the attack out of fear and did not realize she was pregnant.

In April 2016, Hernandez said, she felt strong abdominal pains and lost consciousness in the bathroom. She was taken to a hospital and treated for vaginal bleeding from an out-of-hospital delivery, but there was no newborn.

Authorities opened an investigation and later found the fetus. She was initially charged with having caused in abortion, which is illegal in all situations in El Salvador. The charge was later changed to aggravated homicide.

Hernandez said she did not know she had miscarried. She has been in prison since the incident.

GOP’s assault on women’s right to control their own bodies is decades old. They started fighting abortion rights the minute SCOTUS ruled on Roe v. Wade. They have never la-fg-c1-el-salvador-women-20150415wavered, they turned the issue into perhaps the single biggest cultural wedge issue in the country. And over decades they have chipped away at abortion rights bit by bit by bit. They have been great at branding (GOP always is), controlling the debate, redefining terms (“partial birth abortion,” for example) and seeing abortion rights erode. With Trump and Pence in the White House, and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, abortion rights are as much at risk as anything else right now. We should look at El Salvador, where abortions under all circumstances – no exceptions – is illegal, as the future we might have in the US. In El Salvador judges rule abortions and miscarriages as homicide and sentence women to decades in prison. World Health Organization estimates that 68,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe/illegal abortions. This is an issue we must remain vigilant about because we know Pence has it in his sight.

2014 election

(sigh) So when is it going to end?  This 2014 election cycle that is.  I am getting hammered (as I’m sure we all are) with the emails, regular mail, commercials on the local channels and even on my computer when I watch the local New Orleans channels on the computer!  And, I’ve had to block my cell phone to just my known contacts because of all the calls even coming in there! Oy vey!  If you don’t have any contested elections in your area then count your lucky stars.  I’m sure everyone is complaining except for the teevee stations who are just raking in the dollahs.

Of course the election that I have a personal interest in is the Senate election in Louisiana pitting incumbent Mary Landrieu against not one but two Republican candidates.  Louisiana has an open primary system.  Actually what we have is called a nonpartisan blanket primary.

Under this system, the candidates receiving the most and second-most votes become the contestants in the general election—as in a runoff election, in a two-round system. (In some cases, this second round of voting is only necessary if no candidate receives an overall majority on the initial ballot.) However, there is no separate party nomination process for candidates before the first round, and political parties are not allowed to whittle-down the field using their own internal processes (e.g., party primaries or conventions). Similarly, it is entirely possible that two candidates of the same political party could advance to the general/run-off.

In Louisiana there is a second round (runoff) between the top two candidates if no candidate wins a simple majority (more than half of the votes) in the first round of balloting. This happens more often with open seats, as incumbents more easily win majorities. The runoff constitutes the general election under Louisiana law even if the general election had two candidates of the same party, a phenomenon which frequently occurs. The only labels originally permitted under the Louisiana law were Democrat, Republican, and No Party; however, as of 2008 the labels of any “registered political party” may be used.[3] The primary has been used in statewide elections since 1975. The system was designed by then-GovernorEdwin Edwards after he had to run in two grueling rounds of the Democratic Primary in 1971 before facing a general election against a well-funded and well-rested Republican, Dave Treen (who himself was elected governor under the new system in 1979).

So on the absentee ballot I just marked, there were any number of candidates from various organizations and then after this primary there will be a second, general election in December.  So after Nov. 4th, we get another month of the mailings, emails, etc.

It’s almost certain that Landrieu will come in first in the primary and then have to face off against Congressman Bill Cassidy.  No one is projecting that she will get the needed fifty percent to avoid the runoff election.  Still, there was an interesting article on nola.com about the election.  It seems there has been a surge in new voters heading into the primary election.

In the badly headlined article on nola.com it stated:

There are 35,918 more registered voters in Louisiana than there were on Aug. 1. This includes 18,912 more black voters and 18,888 more independent or minor political party voters.

And this further:

The Democratic-lead voter drives could be why there is a surge in black voters, who have typically been supportive of Landrieu. There are more African Americans registered to vote in Louisiana in 2014 than there were in 2008 — a surprising statistic given that President Barack Obama was first on the ballot six years ago.

I also found this little tidbit interesting:  “there was also a bump in black voters who are independents or associated with a minor political party — about 7,800 more people in this category”.

While this may be encouraging news for Mary, the numbers aren’t what they used to be:

Overall, Democratic voter registration in Louisiana is significantly lower than the last time Landrieu was on the ballot. There are 171,736 fewer registered Democratic voters than there were in 2008, during the last U.S. Senate race. Meanwhile, Republicans have picked up 68,702 voters in that same time period.

I believe the two things leading to those reduced Democratic numbers are:  (1) The Katrina diaspora where so many A.A. folks in New Orleans ended up mainly in Houston Tx and Atlanta Ga and decided to stay in those cities, and (2) the continued reddening of the state getting it more in line with the other southern states.  It used to be that you could take a map of Louisiana and draw a horizontal line across the state boarders with that line centering on Alexandria La.  Anything above that line would be pretty much Republican with anything below the line, Acadiana and the metro Nola area being pretty much Democratic.  Now not so much.  Now it’s pretty much just Orleans parish which is predominantly Democratic.  Even with the reduced A.A. population it is still a majority A.A. city/parish.

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Mr. No Free Lunch for Kids

Mr. No Free Lunch for Kids

Good Monday to you Widdershins.  Mondays are a drag.  Even if you aren’t working, they are at times just a drag.  Perhaps it is just that ingrained thing that “eh, it’s Monday”, I’m really not sure.  I have just a couple of things that caught my attention recently so I’m going to pass them along.

*******

You may or may not recognize the congress critter in the photo above but that’s Congressman Jack Kingston from Georgia.  He is one of the Republicans who are running to replace Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate.  Mr. Kingston has been referred to as the “sane” one between the republican candidates running to replace Chambliss, the other two being Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey.  You may recall that Broun is an M.D. who said that all of that “science stuff” and things he learned in medical school were just lies from the “pit of Hell”.

I think it’s an ironic twist of fate that Broun serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  But I’m not here to discuss him today but rather his cohort Kingston.

You may recall that Congr. Kingston is the one who suggested that kids “sweep the cafeteria” or kick in a “nickle or dime” to sorta contribute something to that free handout they’re getting.

“But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch,” he said.

As Amanda Terkel said in this HuffPo piece, there are other things to consider:

Besides the “administrative problem,” Kingston’s plan could create significant embarrassment for low-income children, who would be sweeping cafeteria floors while their wealthier peers did normal kid activities. And while the low-income children would supposedly be learning the lesson of hard work, their wealthier peers would simply be getting a free lunch from their parents.

And true to form, when asked about his boss’ comments, Kingston’s spokesperson said this:

“It is sad that trying to have a productive conversation about instilling a strong work ethic in the next generation of Americans so quickly devolves into the usual name-calling partisan hysteria. Having worked from a young age himself, Congressman Kingston understands the value of hard work and the important role it plays in shaping young people.” [note: remember this comment about “worked from a young age” when you see Kingston in a video below]

Well bully for Congr. Kingston.  However, (and isn’t there always a however that comes about when these fools want to play this kind of game?) it seems that the good Congressman is not above getting his own form of the “free lunch”.

“Kingston and his staff expensed nearly $4200 in meals for business purposes to his congressional office, paid for by the American taxpayer,” WSAV 3’s Dan Kartunen reported. The amount could have purchased nearly 2,000 Georgia school lunches.

WSAV also found that Kingston also racked up $4,289 of free meals paid for by third-party groups like the Georgia Bankers Association and the Congressional Institute. Kingston has also travelled to a handful of continents on congressional business racking up $24,313* in costs. Those expenses include more than just meals. What’s more, Kingston also expensed $145,391 worth of meals for campaign events.

*I have no idea whether there is a separate per diem rate for the Congress  critters on foreign travel, it was difficult to find anything on it (on purpose?) but I did find the State Dept.’s per diem rates which you can find here. Perhaps our Prolix can add some clarification on what the critters get for pocket money when they travel on the taxpayer dime.

And here’s the good congressman trying to play a good game of c.y.o.a. on his food bill, the joys of the work ethic and doing “chores” around his parents’ house.

Pot meet kettle, ya think?

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You may recall that during the shutdown last year, there was a move afoot to have the congress critters not take the employer contribution for their  health care premiums for their Obamacare health plans.  David Vitter was the one responsible for stirring up that little bit of mischief.

Well now that all of that silliness is over and the hue and cry over it is past them, it seems that some of the Republican critters have decided that, well it’s okay to get that contribution after all.

…based on this roll call vote and the Washington Post’s tracking of what health insurance option Congress members are choosing, 24 House Republicans aren’t. Ryan and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are among them. Just two months ago, they voted to prevent themselves from receiving what they had called a special exemption under Obamacare.

Now they’re benefitting from it.

Below are the members who the Washington Post recorded as enrolling through the D.C. marketplace with no note that they would decline their employer contribution and who voted on Sept. 30 to strip those contributions for themselves and their staff:

Howard Coble (R-NC)

Rodney Davis (R-IL)

Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)

Bob Latta (R-OH)

Billy Long (R-MO)

Frank Lucas (R-OK)

Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

Jeff Miller (R-FL)

Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)

Kristi Noem (R-SD)

Bill Posey (R-FL)

Tom Reed (R-NY)

Reid Ribble (R-WI)

Tom Rice (R-SC)

Phil Roe (R-TN)

Peter Roskam (R-IL)

Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Austin Scott (R-GA)

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)

John Shimkus (R-IL)

Pat Tiberi (R-OH)

Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)

Frank Wolf (R-VA)

I have no problem with them accepting this contribution because it is very much like what folks get when they have employer-sponsored health insurance; the employer usually kicks in a contribution toward the premium.  What ticks me off is the pompous ranting and railing over it and then after the dust subsides, just quietly accepting it.  Hypocrites much?

This is an open thread.

Morning Widdershin friends — here’s hoping your Friday is a great one!

To be honest, I’m just a little hacked off today.  Since prayer hasn’t seemed to replenish my ever thinning pate of mouse fur hair that people charitably refer to as, well, “mouse fur,” yesterday I was watching the teevee machine and I was tuned into that intriguing infomercial “Alyssa Milano Uses Wen Hair Care,” and after that the nice teevee man had promised me shocking, I’m telling you shocking, tips on reducing belly fat when all manner of healthcare broke out.  If you are anything like me, I needed a swooning couch straight out a Colette novel before the battling bobbleheads were eight minutes into their coverage.

Use liberally in case of Supreme Court rulings.

Here you had CNN and Fox who couldn’t break eggs on their collective faces fast enough by reporting and bannering “Healthcare Act Unconstitutional” based upon reporters who were actually standing out front of the Supreme Court moving their lips as they silently read.   While MSNBC got it right, they cut away to some guy who had found a $20 crumbled up in an old leisure suit, registered his name as a website, and breathlessly began an audition to be hired as a Romney spokesmorman.

The real journalistic croque-en-bouche was CNN cutting to a reporter in a Stockton, California coffee shop talking to a bunch of 80-something dyspeptics about healthcare.  These codgers had last been happy when they hadn’t soiled themselves the last time they’d broken wind — beyond that who knows when a smile had crossed their scowling faces.  And you ask, “Why was CNN chatting up these guys before their coffee kicked in?”  Best I can tell, CNN had a satellite truck and a reporter in Stockton with little to do because covering a municipal bankruptcy is akin to covering a Manitoba molasses race in the dead of winter.

So what’s any different here than any ordinary day’s news cycle — wait for it — wait for it — nothing, absolutely ze-freaking-ro nothing.  We have entered the sweatbox of philosopher Leszek Kolakowski’s Law of Infinite Cornucopia, “There is never a shortage of arguments to support any doctrine one wants to believe for whatever reason.”

All this is bound up in the simplest of psychological constructs, we as humans want to belong to a group, therefore we engage in “motivated reasoning.”  Motivated reasoning is a political science concept that basically says a person will refine any argument without regard to facts in order to conform to the shtick of one’s tribe.  We can’t help it — we want to belong and therefore, we “go a little crazy,” but tell ourselves like the Matchbox Twenty song, “we aren’t crazy, we’re just a little unwell.”

I’m not crazy, just a little unwell…

This healthcare-apoloosa is a perfect example of motivated reasoning since just about everyone hates Obamacare, but confusingly upwards of even 80% of Republicans and Independents support major portions of the Act.  Nope, I haven’t mis-typed or suddenly gone unwell — here’s a great article about what happens when people are asked about something they actually understand.

We have traveled a long and winding road to get where we are today.  From President Nixon introducing employer mandated coverage in the late 60’s to the conservative Heritage Foundation coming up with the individual mandate in 1989 to the Clintons’ hybrid employer/employee plan in 1994 to the Affordable Care Act — it has been a tortured journey.  A journey that is far from over, but a journey where we are coming to a fork in the road.

This year’s election will offer two directions — either continuing to hobble along the path of the Affordable Care Act or the reduction or elimination of healthcare to an estimated 50 million Americans by whatever “Repeal and Replace” turns out to be.  The estimated fifty million is the product of eliminating 31 million people from gaining coverage through ACA and the additional 14-19 million who would lose coverage by the Romney Medicaid state block grant and cap proposal.

Healthcare is an issue, when stripped away of all the “motivated reasoning,” that is understandable and concise.  Michael Cannon sums it up nicely — Cannon is the director of health-care policy at the conservative Cato Institute and has formed the Anti-Universal Coverage Club, whose members, “reject the idea that government should ensure that all individuals have health insurance.”  Survival of the fittest is an argument after all — although it runs headlong into creationism, but I digress.  Ezra Klein asks the question in this great article.

Of one thing I am sure, with insurance premiums having risen 100% in the last ten years, something has got to give.

America has been working this issue for almost 50 years — it’s time it was settled.  As the silly season of political hyperbole gushes forth and will be beamed into our homes by the billions unleashed by Citizens United, we will get to watch all those who are following the admonition of Colette, “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”

This is an “all skate” open thread.


Just a little background information:  I have been without health insurance for quite a long time; going back to after Hurricane Katrina.  Through a number of mix-ups, screw-ups and literally the mail not going through, I found myself without health insurance.  This is not a good thing when you take *maintenance* medications for things like hypertension, elevated cholesterol and some other issues.  So naturally, this was a scary prospect I was facing.

I was fortunate that I found one pharmacy that has a prescription savings plan which gives you a discount on certain medications.  You join the “club” for an annual fee and then you are eligible for the discounted price.  My hypertension medication, cholesterol med and several others were on their list.  Also, there were antibiotics, antifungals and a goodly number of other medications.  This helped quite  bit, however, when the doctor wrote a prescription that wasn’t on the list of medications, it could get expensive.

And speaking of which, there’s the physician issue.  There are a number of “doc in a box” offices around, but the problem with those is that you are never certain you will see the same physician each time.  You can call me old-fashioned or any other term you wish, but there is a certain “comfort factor” when you can see the same doctor each time you need to go to one.  I was fortunate in that the same internist who saw the momster decided he could also see me on a cash basis and not worry about not having insurance.  He was also willing to give me a discount for seeing him with no insurance coverage.

Now when you see a doctor there are going to be those times when they are going to want to do some diagnostic tests, labs or similar tests.  On labs, i.e. bloodwork, cholesterol tests, etc. there simply were no discounts to be had; you paid what the charges were.  On imaging tests like x-rays or an ultrasound, my physician was able to get the imaging group to give me the “Blue Cross” price.  What that means is that if I had a sinus x-ray, I paid what they expected to be the Blue Cross payment.  No, not what an insured with Blue Cross would pay as their share,  I paid the “Blue Cross” part.  It’s not cheap.  And Lord help me if I had needed an MRI, CAT or anything like that; I would have had to forget it.  The same goes for if I had needed to go to an emergency room for anything other than being in a car accident.  (I had increased my medical payments part of the car insurance so I could at least make a dent in an E.R. bill if I was in a wreck.)

I knew I needed to have some sort of  health insurance, if for no other reason than the fact that the momster had a history of cardiac/vascular issues and I had already had one of those issues myself.  However, when I started pricing individual plans, they were simply out of sight.  I checked through the Tulane Alumni Association.  They had an insurance broker where I looked for a quote and I simply stopped the process when it got to $1400/1500 a month and a $5000 deductible.  I had checked with another insurance company and their premiums were a bit lower but there was a pre-existing clause whereby they would not cover anything on those conditions for a year.  Lovely.

Some time back I had seen that there was a plan with the Feds called the Pre-existing Insurance Program, but one of the criteria was that you had to have a quote from an insurance company showing the denial of the pre-existing conditions, or you needed to show that the insurance quote was substantially higher than it would have been for someone without a pre-existing condition.  I had not checked that site for some time so I decided to go back and check it again.  I did and quelle suprise there *had* been a change in the requirements.  The only requirement I had to have was to have my doctor write a letter stating the pre-existing conditions I had, and to include his full name and state of licensure and the license number.  Hurray for me!

Here, I’d like to provide a description of the plan, what it covers and approximate costs.  (N.B.: I am describing the federal PCIP plan.  Some states have their own plans while others opted to just use the plan created by the Federal Government and administered by one of the companies that offers a Federal Employee Health Plan) The PCIP health plan is an 80/20 plan which basically means they pay 80% of costs and you pick up the other 20%.  There are deductibles, and you have a choice of three options in the federal pcip plan; a standard option, an extended option and a HSA option. If you enroll in the extended option, which I did, you pay a higher premium but you also have lower deductibles.  You can find some additional information on this, here but I’ll provide a general idea of what it is covered.

Each of the three PCIP plan options provides preventive care (paid at 100%, with no deductible) when you see an in-network doctor and the doctor indicates a preventive diagnosis. Included are annual physicals, flu shots, routine mammograms and cancer screenings. For other care, you will pay a deductible before PCIP pays for your health care and prescriptions. After you pay the deductible, you will pay 20% of medical costs in-network.

Let me add that for doctor’s visits and, I believe, a few other things you do not have to meet the yearly deductible; instead you have an office co-pay.  

Premiums are based on the state you live in and an age group.  You can find a list of the premiums, by state, here.

Again, here are the basic requirements to eligible for this plan:

To be eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan:

    • You must be a citizen or national of the United States or lawfully present in the United States.
    • You must have been uninsured for at least the last six months.
    • You must have a pre-existing condition. To prove this, you will be asked as part of the application process to submit one of the following documents dated within the past 12 months:
      • A letter from a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner stating that you have or had a medical condition, disability or illness. This letter must include your name and medical condition, disability or illness, and the name, license number, state of licensure and signature of the doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.
      • A denial letter from an insurance company licensed in your state for individual insurance coverage. Or you may provide a letter from an insurance agent or broker licensed in your state that shows you aren’t eligible for individual insurance coverage from one or more insurance companies because of your medical condition.
      • An offer of individual insurance coverage that you did not accept from an insurance company licensed in your state for individual insurance coverage. This offer of coverage has a rider that says your medical condition won’t be covered if you accept the offer.

For children under age 19 or persons who live in Massachusetts or Vermont: You must have been quoted a premium of 200% or more of the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan premium for the Standard Option in your state.

So what is the downside of the PCIP plan?  It ends January 2014 when “Obamacare” is supposed to have the insurance exchanges established.  😦   But, I’ll put it this way:  I’ll worry about that when it happens.

I’m not going to say this is an absolutely great plan but it is better than nothing.  That $1000 deductible isn’t cheap but it’s better than what I found on the open market.  That being said, I hope someone sees this and is able to make use of the program.

https://pcip.gov/Default.html

This is an open thread and also:

 

Purim

From Salinger’s classic Catcher In The Rye:

“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one plays according
to the rules.”

“Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.”

Game, my ass. Some game. If you get on the side where all the hot-shots are,
then it’s a game, all right – I’ll admit that. But if you get on the
other side, where there aren’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about
it? Nothing. No game.

You said a mouthful there, pal. Some of us got no game at all, and it shows. Just look at what has been going on in our nation’s capitol, where open warfare is being waged against the portion of the population that had the least to do with the current state of affairs. Now, this isn’t new. Anyone who has ever worked in any sort of bureaucracy has undoubtedly noticed that screw-ups are viewed differently depending upon the administrative level of the screwer-upper. Reason would dictate that upper level administrative types would be held to a higher standard than peons, but that logical inference is dead wrong. The guy that empties the trash will be summarily canned for minor infractions, while the guy that trashed the institution will be eased into another job or given a retirement party decorated with a six-figure departure gift. In fact, one could easily infer that the strength of the penalty varies inversely to the position of the miscreant. Washington’s current dilemma is simply bureaucratic f@#k-ups and inverse penalties on steroids.

Yes, we are all aware that the economy bites, that the debt ceiling has more cracks than the glass ceiling, that something must be done, and yada yada yada. Various factions have rolled up their sleeves, put down their golf clubs, and launched themselves into committes, gangs, focus groups and tirades. Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and the US Chamber of Commerce are pitching ongoing hissy fits. Democrats are pointing out that polling demonstrates that both the American people as well as the better angels are on their side. What have we got? An incipient plan to gut Medicare, cap Social Security, and slash Medicaid while allowing the upper 1% to keep raking in the savings so that they “might” create jobs. Needless to say, I have a few thoughts.

Social Security:  I haven’t even sniffed a SS COLA in two years, while everything including my Medicare premium and deductible has gone up.  However, I’m prepared to be a sport about this.  Why don’t we tie the SS COLA directly to the federal COLA enjoyed by our leadership?  I could certainly live with that.

Medicare:   As I said, both my premiums and deductibles are up.  My part D premium is up along with drug costs, so I dwell in the donut hole even longer.  This year, I pay only 50% of my drug costs while sunning in the hole, but since drug costs are up I hardly notice the difference.  I submit that Congress should have Medicare and Medicare Part D as their insurance as well,  I guarandamntee you that it will remain solvent forever under these circumstances.  Oh, and make their co-pays commensurate with the percentage of income “enjoyed” by SS beneficiaries.  ($19,000/year vs. $167,000/year = 8x usual.)   That would bring their monthly premiums to about $800 each with copays of $160 or so per visit,  Want to bet me that my co-pays and premiums will drop like a rock?

Medicaid:  Even better, let the Senate remain on Medicare while the House enjoys the fabulous coverage afforded by Medicaid.  I predict a better quality of care for all concerned.

Education:  First Chris Christie, now Rahm Emmanuel.  Do any politicians actually send their children to public schools?  The short answer is probably not.  And frankly, Governor Christie, it is too our business.  Any politician who has anything whatsoever to do with education should be compelled to send their children to public schools.  Want to bet me that the quality would soar in a reasonably short period of time?

Taxes:  I’m a sport, and I’m willing to allow corporations to have one more year of tax savings – with a stipulation.  Beginning immediately thereafter all profits earned in the US would remain taxed at the same low rate, and all monies earned abroad would be taxed at 15% higher.  Allow them to bring their offshore capital back in at no charge if it is used to create American jobs within the same year.  If not, tax it at 50% or so.  Do you think that this might just possibly get them back on the same playing field with the rest of us?  There’s no point in arguing about it, just make it more profitable to come home than to stay abroad.

Anyhow, Widdershins, those are just a few thoughts.  We’ll have to see how this plays out.

This is an open thread.

 

 

 

 

 

Now you see it, now you don’t.   Procedures that were covered this year will not, by masterful feats of prestidigitization, be covered next year.  The day of the $500.00 deductible are long gone.  The days of calling your family doctor to make an appointment are leaving as well. 

Now you get a book of “preferred providers”  – e.g. those who will accept the pathetically little that the insurer pays.  If you wish to “go out of network” – e.g. see the physician that you actually want to consult – there’s a whole list of criteria (and a whole lot more copay) involved.   The doctor who was a “preferred provider” last year may have dropped out this year, frequently before you can get a copy of the manual. 

Medical offices and Emergency Rooms find themselves doing battle with insurance companies on an ongoing basis trying to justify visits, hospitalizations, procedures and medications.  The basic logic is sound:  don;t admit if you can treat outpatient, don’t use a more expensive drug when a cheaper one will do.  Hey, we’re all on board with that.  The problem arises when you try to negotiate with someone who is reading from an algorithm and has had no training whatsoever in health care.  That can get very dicey, very quickly.

The only thing harder than getting care for a medical problem is trying to get care for a psychological problem.  No way, no how do insurance companies want to pay for this.  Deductibles are in general much higher and ceilings much lower on this coverage.

In the meantime, wages for CEOs of health insurance companies are skyrocketing.   Check this out from The New York Times:

Sometimes it’s good to be a health-care CEO. Health-care company chief executives had the highest median pay of any industry captured by the recent The Wall Street Journal CEO Compensation Study.

The median CEO pay in the industry was $10 million, according to the study, which was done in conjunction with consulting firm Hay Group. That beat out consumer goods at $8.9 million and telecom and oil and gas, both with median CEO pay of $8.6 million. The study looked at total direct compensation, which includes salary, bonuses and the value of long-term incentives, including stock and stock options at the time of the grant.

The health-care industry has been the focus of a lot of attention over rising costs. But Paul Dorf, managing director of Upper Saddle River, N.J.-based Compensation Resources Inc., a compensation consulting firm, said the resiliency of the sector as a whole led to high pay in health care.

Ah, resilience!  That explains it – not.  Other resilient jobs including child care worker, bus driver, food service workers have yet to reach these lofty plains.

Now for our dear elected representatives.  Sam Stein of The Huffington Post offers this nugget:

According to the Los Angeles Times, “the plan most favored by federal workers is Blue Cross Blue Shield, which covers a family for about $1,030 a month.” Of that total, “taxpayers kick in $700.” So far there are 242 Republicans set to be seated in the incoming House of Representatives (that could only go higher) and 47 Republicans in the Senate. The taxpayer bill for insuring all those members over the course of a single year comes to just over $2.4 million ($700 X 12 months X 289 members).

Chump change? Yes, it is. That said, chump change seems to always at the heart of the most provocative political battles. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made a big issue over the fact that $1 million was being appropriated for a Woodstock museum in upstate New York.

Yep.  Apparently subsidised health care is just fine and dandy when it subsidizes Republican lawmakers.  This is also from Sam Stein:

There is an apparent double standard with respect to lawmakers trying to reduce health care for American workers while taking a subsidy for health care for themselves. And in a Public Policy Poll released on Tuesday, a full 53 percent of respondents (and 58 percent of Republicans) said that if a congressman is opposed to the president’s health care reform law, he or she should decline to participate in government-sponsored health care.

What do you say, Widdershins?  Shall we write to Eric Cantor and suggest this cost cutting mechanism?  Here’s the website – go all the way to the end and look for “submit ideas”.

http://republicanwhip.house.gov/YouCut/

This is an open thread.

 
    

 


 
 

 

 


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Our 2016 Ticket!

Our girl is gonna shine

Busted: Glass ceiling

HRC bumper sticker

She’s thinking “Less than 2 weeks I have to keep seeing that face”

Yeah I can make it

The team we’re on

Women’s March on Washington!

Right-click the pic for more info

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

So similar

Take the kids to work? NO!

3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed