Sunday, March 28, 2010

Republicans, Facts, Truth and the Future of America.

There is a lot going on in America these days. Republicans have been trying to convince us that health care reform was going to destroy America---leading to care rationing and huge deficits. It's funny isn't it, that they fail to mention that, with 45 million uninsured Americans, we already had a totally unacceptable form of rationing going on in the greatest country on earth for decades----health care only for those who could afford it. Many more of us could not afford it, by the way, if our employers did not offer it. Most of our country's uninsured are working but their employers do not offer it.
What is even more laughable is when Republicans worry about the huge deficits run up by Democrats for programs that benefit all Americans, including the neediest American. They fail to mention that almost all the debt owed by America, and all the huge deficits America has faced, except, technically for the current year, has all been from Republican administrations. They like to run up the debt---but admittedly, not to help out all Americans or needy Americans. They do it for tax cuts for the rich and for wars invading countries after they fabricate threats supposedly against the free world by those countries. All the while, taking their eye off the war on terrorism, and befuddling the balance of power allowing a newly resurgent Iran to threaten the free world.
Now, the Republicans are talking about taking back America for the people. They don't like that President Obama is trying to get as much done by bypassing them as he can. He does this of course because unlike the way the Democrats gave George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt and supported his initial agenda, they have stood in President Obama's way since Day One! Some day, Republicans will remember their roots; as the party of Lincoln, and will once again remember that when they are elected they are supposed to govern for all of the people, not just the few they choose. Until then we need to remind them that the people are watching---and keep them out of office until they learn their place---as civil servants to care for the will of the people, not demagogues imposing their will and policies to the detriment of so many.
Next: My dinner with Satan---The Devil chimes in!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Presentation on the Rights to Fair Housing for Those Challenged by Mental Illness.

I went to the Staten Island Mental Health Council Legislative Breakfast on March 19th in Staten Island, New York. Some of the local politicians had some interesting things to say. The Co-Chair of the Council, Larry Hochwald, who ran the event, had a lot of things to say. Some of them were interesting and some were funny. Next Left Notes journalist Tom Good, who recorded some of the politicians speeches, chose to record and post a part of the Co-Chair's presentation that was not so funny, but was clearly unscripted and made some good points that the audience of 300 appreciated. He spoke about dealing with stigma issues directed at those challenged by mental illness, living in Staten Island. (Due to confidentiality issues he did not record scenes of the audience). Apparently he spoke "quickly" because there was a lot to cover at this breakfast and there were time constraints as well. For New Yorkers, the comments of all the elected officials might prove interesting. The Co-Chair's comments could resonate wherever there is stigma or the feeling of "Not In My Back-Yard".
Here is a link to the complete set of clips Tom recorded.

And here is the particular clip I just discussed:

Health Care Reform Passes. Let Real Reform Begin....

Health Care reform has passed and the threats to it now, mounted by Republicans, don;t seem credible. As I said, this plan is a start and nothing more, and it is not even as good as it was because it does not cover as many of the uninsured as originally intended. Nevertheless, the best part of this plan is that it will expand coverage and bring more people into medical care as paying consumers. The bad part is is does nothing to reform the system, the only cost cutting is through price-controls and limits. There are other ways to do it, free market ways, and we have looked at a few here such as the Community health Plan and changes to physician tiers and reimbursement that I have also discussed here. The really good thing is while expanding coverage, this new system does nothing to stop us from utilizing all the reforms I talk about, or that others may devise. It is only a beginning, and only an acceptable one, but at least it begins. If the Republicans had their way it would not. They should rue this decision. Their gambit seems to be to delay health care reform and convince the public it is dangerous in the meantime. This time, unlike in the past, the gambit will not work, and the public may make the Republicans pay for getting in the way. We shall see.... Nevertheless, reform begins now....

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where Do They Come Up With This Stuff?

Republicans, in particular, have been pushing to allow the sale of health insurance across state lines; this is unlikely to help much with insurance rates, except possibly briefly. New York City is a good example of what forces are at work pressuring the pricing of health insurance. When I sold health insurance in the early 1990’s an extremely comprehensive and generous major medical and hospitalization policy from a major insurance company could be purchased for less than $100 a month---if you were young and healthy. When New York instituted community rating laws that stopped companies from turning you down or charging you higher premiums because of health problems---anyone could buy a policy---but the cost doubled---and has been growing ever since. In the late 1990’s a small employer group policy that offered similar benefits cost near $300. For an individual, but the same policy cost about $90 an individual for the same client---for their office staff in Utah. The reason is Utah had less restrictions on the policy standards than NY and because health care costs were significantly lower in Utah.
If the government now allows companies to sell anywhere--- their benefits and restrictions will need to conform to the most demanding and restrictive states. Eventually the costs for those policies will rise to the average cost faced by all the other insurers serving that locale. All this will accomplish is that costs, and then rates, will rise in the cheaper states, unless they continue to restrict benefits and separate costs for those states. If they do, then there will be no benefit to this, as the costs will be raised in the expensive states and remain lower in the cheaper states---just like they are now. This is what happens now as many health insurers are serving numerous states already.
The only way to control insurance costs and medical inflation is to really reform health care. Assuring coverage for every adult and child was a start that makes the system work for everyone---but does not control costs. Mandating cost controls and lower fees by limiting what insurers and Medicare pay to service providers is not an answer. That does nothing to deal with the spiraling costs the providers endure---it just allows insurance companies and the government to pay what they want---and leaves the financial pain to the systems and people that actually provide the care! Real Reform will demand new ways to look at the system and rework how it operates. It can be done and eventually, I believe, it will be done. Selling more insurance policies across state lines is not going to do it however, and it's not going to solve any of these problems.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Consistent Democrats---Consistently Dumber than Dirt, and Sad for America....

In a stunningly clear and persuasive set of moves, Democrat constituents and elected Democrat officials have proven that they can challenge anyone for the title "America's Biggest Loser"---not weight loss--just loss of direction, nerve, and foresight. With an incredibly incomprehensible vote, Massachusetts chose to honor the legacy of their, supposedly, beloved Senator, the late Teddy Kennedy, by replacing him with a Republican sure to halt one of Kennedy's most important goals---health care for all--as well as a number of other agenda items he shared with President Obama, whom he supported during the primaries and election.
Then, in an equally perplexing move, sensing the electorate might be fearful of change and spending, Obama, despite holding the moral high ground of finally, in the true spirit of this great nation, supplying affordable health care to all citizens, instead rolled over and played dead---calling for a reworking of health care reform to tone it down. Did you ever see George W. Bush, or any Republican, capitulate? Even in the midst of unpopular decisions, lies, moral deceit, plunging polls, demonstrations in the streets, etc., etc., etc.? No? While the Republicans are consistently prejudiced, hypocritical and self-serving---they, like the Democrats, are all too consistent. Their consistency often gets their way---to the detriment of the American People. Sadly, it appears that the Democrats consistency---towards caving in and failure---will doom America to the same fate.