Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who Is Paying To Kill Health Reform?

Click to enlarge the picture.

Check it out here.

AHIP is America's Health Insurance Plans, a national association representing nearly 1,300 member companies providing health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is He Still Listening?

Anne Lamott has an open letter to the President in today's LA Times. She reminds the president of the major campaign vow that got him into the White House.

Is he even listening anymore?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I've written about a health care solution before. But Thom Hartmann has laid it out much better than I ever could with an open letter to President Obama. In it, he details a plan to open Medicare to everyone. It is very simple and can be done in " just a few lines".

This would be similar to what was done when disabled people were added to Medicare. See, it has even been done before - Medicare benefits extended to people younger than 65. It does not take a 1000+ pages nor do we have to wait until 2013 like in the House bill.

And he has a way to pay for it. People under 65 just pay a " rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

So it’s revenue neutral!

To make it available to people of low income, raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me – under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again."

I bet you 100:1 that the rate set by CMS and HHS will be lower than what most people are paying now. Don't want a government program? Fine. Go buy private health insurance. Want additional benefits not covered in Medicare? Go buy supplemental insurance just like people over 65 do now.

Medicare is a popular program. Practically no one is saying that Medicare should be done away with. Unfortunately, practically no one is saying that Medicare should be expanded either.

What? Too simple of a solution for our congressional brain trust to understand?

Unfortunately I think it is a solution that will dry up the ejaculation of health care honey into the congressional coffers, something our congressmen will feel flaccid without. That is why you do not hear anything about this plan.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Right Thing To Do


Roger Ebert, yeah him, the film critic, provides some excellent, emotional, answers to those that oppose health care reform. Read it at his blog here.

He believes that "universal health care is, quite simply, right. It is a moral imperative. I cannot enjoy health coverage and turn to my neighbor and tell him he doesn't deserve it."

He ends with a biblical quote (Matthew 25: 31-46), something more of the party of "NO" should thing about, and the following video.



Universal health care is not only a right, but it is the right thing to do.

Too bad "right" also is used for conservative thinking. It is so often wrong instead of right.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who Opposes Healthcare?

A great post by Jim over at Stonekettle Station. Read it. He ends it with this:

You know who’s opposed to healthcare reform? People who have healthcare and don’t want you to have any – it’s sort of like Heaven in their minds, it’s only good if the riff raff can’t get in too.

You know who’s opposed to reform? People who have healthcare and think that anybody who doesn’t must be a drug addict or a boozer or nothing but a lazy parasite on society. Only losers don’t have healthcare, and we don’t owe losers a goddamned thing.

You know who is opposed to healthcare reform? People who think that Emergency Room visits for poor people are free.

You know who’s opposed to healthcare reform? People who think that having 46 million Americans who use the emergency room as their primary healthcare provider is somehow cheaper for the taxpayer and the people who pay for health insurance.

You know who opposes reform? People who think the government is going to balance the budget by turning old people into Soylent Green.

You know who’s opposed to healthcare reform? People who own houses – because they can always sell them and use the money to treat their kid’s leukemia or type II diabetes or a lifetime of Down’s Syndrome.

And you know who’s opposed to healthcare reform?
People who have million dollar book deals.

That’s who.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Credit Limits

Like most people, I have several credit cards. One of them just lowered my credit limit because I was not using the card enough. They cut the limit in about half. Even with the lower limit, I still only use about 10% of it each month, so it does not create a problem for me.

They make it sound like it is a benefit to me. The letter said that they were adjusting my credit limit to be more in line with my spending habits. Like they really care. They just want to free up some credit so they can give it to someone else that will use it.

It is all about making money. If the credit is not used, they don't make money.

Silly me. I thought the excessive use of credit was one of the things that got us into this economic mess in the first place.

The Great Fear - Government Run

One of the big fears being put out there about health care reform is that it will create a big government program that will control all of our health care. The government will tell us who can live and who must die. The government will tell us what procedures we can have and what procedures we cannot have. The government will take away all our freedom to make our own health care decisions. "Be afraid, be very afraid of big government.

Think about it for a minute. If government is so bad, if government is so inept, if government is incompetent, why do we allow the government to:
  • provide the army
  • provide the navy
  • provide air force
  • be in charge of defending our country
  • be in charge of foreign policy
  • provide police protection
  • provide fire protection
  • make laws
  • provide a judicial system
  • provide an interstate highway system
  • provide health care for our elderly
  • provide health care for our veterans
  • fund the majority of medical research
  • provide a system of colleges and universities
  • provide national parks
  • run a program that put a man on the moon
I could go on and on. There are all sorts of services and programs provided by the government. If government is so bad, why do we accept all these things from our government? Why doesn't private business step up and do these things? If private business could do it better and cheaper, why aren't they?

So why shouldn't government expand their already extensive health care system to cover all of us? The private system has already tired and failed. Let me repeat that. THE PRIVATE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM HAS FAILED. Everybody, Democrats and republicans, agree that health care reform is needed. The government programs are successful and preferred by their users over private programs.

Isn't it time to go with a winner instead of giving the losers another chance?

I'm just sayin'...

Tell Me It Is Not True

White House appears ready to drop 'public option'

WASHINGTON - Apparently ready to abandon the idea, President Barack Obama's health secretary said Sunday a governmen-run alternative to private health insurance is "not the essential element" of the administration's health care overhaul.

The White House indicated it could jettison the contentious public option and settle on nonprofit insurance cooperatives as an acceptable alternative, a move embraced by some Republicans lawmakers who have strongly opposed the administration's approach so far.

Read more here

I hope "could" is the operative word here and not "will" or "has". Is Obama breaking another promise and/or caving in to republican tactics?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Do Democrats REALLY Want To Pass Health Care Reform?

I am beginning to wonder if Democrats really want to pass health care reform or are they just going through the motions to appease us. The Democrats are raking in the money from the health care industry just like the republicans. Maybe not quite are much, but still, very substantial amounts.

The reason I ask this question is because of the kind of response that the Democrats have come up with to all the republican lies. The republicans, to their credit, are out there and are very vocal about their opposition to any health care reform. The problem is that they are lying about it. They are making things up. They are trying, and succeeding, to scare people. They have no legitimate claims, so they make crap up and then yell it at the top of their lungs.

The Democratic response has been weak, at best. They have done little to refute the republican claims.

Here's what I think they should do. This is a response from Stonekettle Station to an extremely offensive comment made about our President.

I'm sitting in the Elmendorf base exchange food court.

Fox News is on the TV. I'm watching the President of the United States answer questions on healthcare reform at a townhall meeting.

An old man and his wife sit down across from me.

He's wearing a US Army retired hat.

He says loudly and with anger in his voice, "I wish to hell they wouldn't put this fucking nigger on TV."

I was standing before I even realized it. Face flushed, blood boiling. I honestly haven't been that offended in a long, long time.

I spoke very, very harshly. I told him to take that army hat off in as much as a racist asshole like him had no business wearing the symbol of America's freedom. Fuck him, fuck his wife, and fuck the horse they rode in on. They're entitled to their opinion, as noxious and dishonorable as it is. They are not entitled to express it in public among the men and women sworn to defend this country and sworn to obey the orders of that very President. Then I told them to get the fuck out. They did, sullenly, but they did - and it's a damned good thing because I was fully prepared to punch a 70 year old man directly in his bigoted mouth.

I'm sick of these bastards telling me that I should leave this country, that I'm not American enough, that my president isn't American enough. I'm tired of hearing these nasty sons of bitches call the President a traitor and me a traitor for voting for him. I'm tired of being told that freedom means only thinking and choosing exactly as they do. I'm sick and tired of these sorry bastards and their spoiled childish sour grapes attitude. America voted, Americans exercised their right to democracy, Americans choose Barack Obama as their president overwhelmingly, the Electoral Collage choose Barack Obama in a virtual landslide, and these petulant whining pricks just can't seem to understand that America is so very much more than their stinking racist vision. These idiots let Bush run roughshod over us for eight damned years and they cheered while he pissed on the Constitution and did everything in his power to destroy this country. I've had it with these small minded ignorant backward assed fucks and their version of patriotism, and I'm sick of having to apologize for them, and I'm tired of cleaning up their messes, and I've been pushed as far as I'm going.

And if they don't like it, they are welcome to pack a bag and leave.

From now on, I'm showing these racist assholes the door.

It is time for Democrats to show the racist asshole republicans the door!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Joe Republican

Copied from Crooks and Liars

"A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican"

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FDIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s would still be sitting in the dark)

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to. After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.
He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, "We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have".

-- By John Gray

Just think where we would be if republicans always got their way.

Arguments

I keep telling myself, no more health care posts. These things are becoming repetitious, but...here we go again.

I have come to the realization that many of the arguments that are being put forth against health care reform are really problems with the existing system that we have.

Death Panels -- got them now. Private health insurance companies make life and death decisions based on money all the time. How many people have died because they were denied coverage even when they have insurance.

Health Care Rationing -- got it now. Again, private health insurance companies ration health care all the time. Got a pre-existing condition? You can't get insurance. Out of a job? You lose your insurance. Got insurance -- and they refuse to cover a procedure recommended by your doctor. I call all of that rationing.

Government Run Program -- New Flash!!! We got them already. What do you think Medicare and the Veterans Adminstration are? Yup! Government run programs. And you know what? Participants rate the government programs HIGHER than participants of private health insurance rate theirs.

The purpose of health care reform is to fix the very problems that the opponents of health care reform are yelling about

So...shut the f.@(k up and let us get on with the job.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

US Legacy

We were going to be greeted as liberators. Here is our legacy from Palestine Think Tank via The Peach Tree.

1. One million widowed Iraqi women (according to Iraqi Ministry of Women Affairs).

2. Four million orphaned Iraqi children (according to estimates by the Iraqi Ministry of Planning).

3. Two and a half million (2,500,000) Iraqis killed (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Forensic Medicine).

4. 800,000 Iraqis have disappeared in secret holding places connected with the different ruling parties (according to registered complaints at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior).

5. 340,000 Iraqi prisoners, detained without charge, in U.S. army prisons, the prisons of the Iraqi government, and the prisons in the Kurdistan District (according to Iraqi, Arab, international and UN human rights organizations and agencies). US occupying forces admit officially that the number of Iraqi detainees in their prisons is about 120,000.

6. Four and a half million (4,500,000) Iraqis are refugees outside Iraq (according to statistics of those seeking passports (category C) from the General Directorate of Passports.

7. Two and a half million (2,500,000) Iraqis are refugees inside Iraq (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Refugees).

8. 76,000 registered Iraqi cases of AIDS; this number did not exceed 114 cases before the invasion and occupation of Iraq (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health).

9. Frightening spread of the use of addictive drugs imported from Iran, among youth (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Center for Combating Drugs and Addictions). I have written a series of well-researched articles about the various methods used to smuggle drugs, some of which are highly toxic, and how they are collected in different storage places in the southern districts, under the total control of some of the parties and the militias participating in the government, and how the profits from these drugs are used to buy (pay off) government officials, in order to gain their support and silence, and to finance their election campaigns.

10. Three out of every four marriages end up in divorce since the invasion and occupation of Iraq (according to Iraqi Ministry of Health).

11. More than 40% of the Iraqi people are under the poverty line (according to the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights). I believe, however, that the actual percentage is much higher, and surpasses 55%.

12. Decline in the level and quality of basic and tertiary education, according to statements made by officials in UNESCO, which led this organization to refuse to recognize university degrees issued by Iraqi tertiary institutions (universities and colleges).

13. Tens of thousands of forged university degrees are granted to high government officials, high ranking officers, directors generals, and senior officials of political parties (according to statements and statistics from the Iraqi Honesty and Transparency Commission).

14. There exist about 550 political bodies and party coalitions (according to the Iraqi Independent Public Elections Commission), and, as of today, there is no law regulating this large number of political bodies.

15. There exist about 11,400 civil society organizations (according to the Iraqi ministries of the Interior, Justice and Social Welfare). These organizations have public and secret objectives, and it is not clear what these are, and how they are financed.

16. There are 126 security companies controlled by foreign secret service agencies, and registered at the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior. The declared objective of these companies is to protect foreign embassies, foreign diplomats, and visiting VIPs. However, their hidden objectives are unknown. In this case, what is the value of having today one million persons under arms in Iraq, distributed among the Ministries of Defense, the Interior, the various governmental security agencies, in addition to the security agencies of the various ruling parties.

17. There are 43 officially registered armed militias connected to parties.

18. There are 220 newspapers and media publications financed by foreign secret service agencies (according to Iraqi Journalist Union). The specific objectives of these publications is to do brainwashing of Iraqis, to remove their thinking about the various projects aiming at fragmenting Iraq into sectarian, regional, and ethnic mini-states, and to destroy their national identity.

19. There are 45 TV channels financed by foreign secret service agencies (according to statements by the Management of Nilesat and Arabsat satellite service providers).

20. There are 67 radio stations financed by foreign secret service agencies (according to statements by the Iraqi Information Commission).

21. There are 4 networks of digital communications, the estimated value of each is 12 billion dollars, financed in favor of party leaders. Among which are the following companies:

· Kork Company owned exclusively by Mas’aoud Barazani (the President of the Kurdistan District);

· Assia Company owned exclusively by Jalal Talbani (the President of Iraq);

· Zein Company (Kuwaiti), 50% is owned by Ahmad Jalabi and the Islamic Da’wah Party;

· Atheer Company owned exclusively by Abdel Aziz al-Hakim.

22. There are more than 11,400 official and unofficial party headquarters. These could be the offices of fake contracting company, or an NGO, or a political group. However, these headquarters in reality are public premises for the Iraqi government that were taken over from their legitimate owners after they were eliminated, or forced to vacate and seek refuge somewhere else. All are paid for from the Iraqi national budget.

Way to go George, you asshole!

Cars

Cars -- you can't live without them, right?

I have two cars, both are paid for. One is 10 years old and the other is 6 years old. The good news is that they are both paid for. It is nice not to have car payments.

but...

You have car repairs instead.

I took the 10 year old car to the dealer today. It needed an oil change and the "check engine" light had come on. Driving to the dealer I noticed that the temperature gauge took about 5 miles (on the freeway) to register any temperature. They checked over everything and determined that there was a problem with a temperature sensor and control.

$300+ to repair plus $90 to diagnose the problem in the first place.

They also recommended another $1500 of repairs. Nothing that will prevent the car from running, but things that will need to be repaired sometime soon. Oh goody! They also did not have one of the parts that they needed, so I have a rental (at their expense) until tomorrow.

I spent about $500 last month on the other car.

So, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that it is time to buy at least one new car. I mean, do I pay $500 a month on repairs, or $500 a month on car payments? Great choice.

Now if we could do something about health care...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

As reported here,

This Week with George Stephanopoulos notes the passings of filmmaker John Hughes, model Naomi Sims, former Carter aide and lobbyist Anne Wexler and screenwriter Budd Schulberg.

While I extend my condolences to the family and friends of Naomi Sims, Anne Wexler, and Budd Schulberg, I think George should have first acknowledged the lost of the latest 14 service persons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They are:

Army SSG Johnny R Polk, 39, of Gulfport, MS
Army SPC Alexander J Miller, 21, of Clermont, FL
Army CPL Jonathan M Walls, 27, of West Lawn, PA
Army PFC Richard K Jones, 21, of Roxboro, NC
Army PVT Patrick S Fitzgibbon, 19, of Knoxville, TN
Army CPT Ronald G Luce Jr, 27, of Fayetteville, NC
Army SFC Alejandro Granado, 42, of Fairfax, VA
Army SFC Severin W Summers III, 43, of Bentonia, MS
Army PVT Keiffer P Wilhelm, 19, of Plymouth, OH
Navy PO3 Anthony C Garcia, 21, of Tyndall, FL
Marine LCpl James D Argentine, 22, of Farmingdale, NY
Marine LCpl Travis T Babine, 20, of San Antonio, TX
Marine Cpl Christian A Guzman Rivera, 21, of Homestead, FL
Marine Sgt Jay M Hoskins, 24, of Paris, TX

What have they died for?

Who Sounds Reasonable?

You tell me who the "crazy" is --

Stupid Americans

Think Americans are stupid? Well Bill Maher does as discussed by Elizabeth here. The text of Bill Maher's discussion of the intelligence of Americans is here. And now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the video.



Watch it! It is priceless -- and unfortunately correct!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Resignation

Another republican quits before their term of office is over. This time it is Senator Mel Martinez, Florida. Read about it here. He wants to "spend more time with his family". Hummmmm!

Hosptial Fraud

And THEY are telling us that the government will screw things up and take all our money?


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Republican Terrorists



Here is further evidence that the republican party is a terrorist organization. They are now physically attacking Democrats. One of the last times unruly republican mobs took over, George Bush was selected president.

Here is a picture of the mob described as Florida voters with the republican operatives identifed (from here).
Unfortunately...

There has been a lot of discussion about the health insurance industry and their impact on our health care. When you realize that their overhead ranges from 20 to 50% of every premium dollar while Medicare's overhead is less than 5%, you see that there is a big saving available just by putting the private health insurance business out of business.

But I want to bring up another aspect of health care costs that I don't hear talked about much and that is the billing practices of health care providers. Health care providers, doctors and hospitals particularly, charge exorbitant fees only to have the insurance companies knock down those fees to something more reasonable -- that is IF you happen to have insurance AND the insurance COVERS the billed procedures. If not, you have to pay the exorbitant fees.

This practice was brought back into focus for me with the billing of my cataract surgery to my insurance company. I was billed $5000 for one eye. The insurance company knocked $5000 down to about $800. I have to pay the $800 because I have not fulfilled my deductible yet. If I did not have insurance, I would owe $5000. I assume that the agreement that my doctor has with my insurance company is similar to his agreement with other insurance companies. If he is willing to take $800 for the procedure from the insurance company, why does he bill $5000?

Another example. I get a blood test every month. I go to a lab close to my house. They draw blood. Send it to their lab and analyze it. They bill my insurance company for drawing the blood and separately for analyzing it. Total bill for these two things -- $51.75. Allowed by the insurance (and paid by me) -- $8.86.

People who don't have insurance get the privilege of paying the full amount. These are often the very people who can afford it the least. They may be out of a job or work for an employer who does not provide insurance. One way of the other, they cannot afford insurance, yet they have to pay the highest prices.

Health care providers should not be allowed to charge fees that are many times higher than they accept from insurance companies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Clinton Frees Prisoners


This is going to drive the neocons and the republicans crazy. Read about it here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Obermann Calls Out Both Repubs and Dems

Tonight's special comment.

Weekend Report


This picture does not have anything to do with my weekend. I didn't even BBQ. I just thought it was funny. Sorry if it offends anyone.

Friday night was our second Hollywood Bowl show of the season. It was a difference show from the usual. Usually either the LA Philharmonic or the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra perform along with a guest performer. This last weekend they did a play -- Guys and Dolls. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra played. It wasn't a "real" staged play with an elaborate set, but rather more directed towards just the music. I slept through most of it. It wasn't really my thing, but the LA Times reviewer loved it. So, what do I know?

The rest of the weekend has been relaxing. Saturday and Sunday were spent at home. We went out for brunch Sunday around 2 pm -- late brunch.

The dogs are here again for a few days while son is off camping with his family. They really are no problem. Maybe I will try to get a picture of all five and post it here. I can probably get the four big ones together. All I have to do is have treats in my hand and they all sit at my feet. The little one, however, is all over the place, so we will see what happens.

The eyes are doing well. I go back to the doctor today so we will see what he says. I don't expect any problem, except maybe with their billing office. They had me pay up my full deductible before doing the surgery, about $5000. I just got the insurance statement in the mail for the first eye they did and the insurance company says I only need to pay about $800 because of agreements they have with the doctor. I should get a big refund. Time will tell. Wish me luck.

I hope your week goes well.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Divorce???


Interesting new story about Sarah Palin is making the rounds. It may add new light to why she quit. I don't know if it is true, but the blogs are picking it up.

Todd and Sarah Palin to divorce