Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two Things to Know About Health Care Reform

First, the United States is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t make sure all its citizens have quality health care.

Second, Americans pay twice as much for health care than do citizens of all those other countries.

It’s time to get the job done.

Let’s do it for Uncle Teddy.

Postscript: This is on point and worth reading.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Many People Write … But Only Some Are Writers.

A lot of us manage to get our words published in one venue or another. But there are a relative handful of people whose work humbles and sometimes even shames the rest of us who presume to call ourselves writers. My personal favorites among contemporary writers are Paul Theroux, Maureen Dowd, Roger Angell, Dick Cavett and Rick Reilly, although there are many more.

Lately, I’ve come to admire the wonderfully irreverent work of Joel Stein, who is a regular columnist for TIME magazine. The subject of his piece in the current issue is health care reform and, in it, Stein opines that he would be a perfect choice to serve on one of Sarah Palin’s “death panels.”

“ … you need me on your death panel precisely because, unlike politicians and doctors, I can admit that we already have death panels; they just prefer to go by the name insurance companies. Some people get rejected by the death panels because of pre-existing conditions, lifetime spending caps, or drug co-payments they can’t afford. Others die because they are freelancers and don’t have insurance, so they don’t go to doctors. Others might not get the coverage they need because they wrote a column that called insurance companies death panels.”

Funny, eh? But he’s also right.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's Really Not That Hard to Understand

The problem with the health care reform debate we’re now witnessing is that the vast majority of people don’t understand the problem, let alone have any sensible solutions. So let me offer a simple case history ... and this is a true story.

The case is that of a woman – let’s call her Jane – who slips and falls one afternoon, breaking her wrist. A friend takes Jane to the emergency room of our local hospital where the doctor on duty sets the bones and applies a cast.

She has a before-and-after X-ray of the wrist, an MRI because she whacked her head when she fell, and they send her home with a bottle of pain pills. In all, Jane was in the hospital for not quite four hours. A fair and reasonable charge for those services would have been about $1,800. (I checked.)

But every day our hospital treats people … ordinary folks … who have no health insurance and not very much money. They treat them because they’re sick or hurt and can’t simply be turned away.

But somebody has to pay, so the hospital spreads the cost of that “free” service around by padding the bills of people who do have insurance … people like Jane. And that’s why Jane’s bill came to $5,600 instead of $1,800.

And it’s why Jane’s co-pay was $560 instead of $180. It's also why her insurance company’s share was more than $5000 instead of the $1600 it should have been.

The insurance company knows perfectly well this is what happened, and at renewal time they increased Jane’s monthly premium from $375 to $540.

So because the hospital treated people with no insurance, the cost of Jane’s health insurance went up 44 percent and is now costing her $2000 more this year than it did last year.

In other words, it’s pretty clear that the way our health care system works now, some of us pay nothing and the rest of us are paying way too much.

But if it's so damn clear, what accounts for the video clips on CNN of people screeching “Nazi” and “socialist” at Barney Frank, who is trying to explain some of this to them?

They’re either – as Barney suggested – from some other planet, or they care more about screwing Barack Obama than they do about their friends and neighbors who are being screwed by a broken health care system. That’s why we need to get this health care reform done now ... and done right.

And let the selfish, petty, miserable sons-a-bitches scream.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yep ... That's Us, All Right!

Global Warming ... or Health Care Reform ... or the Economy ... Doesn't matter.


Monday, August 17, 2009

You Just Can't Argue With Logic Like That!

Well, Senator Orrin Hatch (Republican of Utah) opposes a public option for health insurance because, he says, people should worry about some nameless, faceless government employee making health care decisions for them.

Boy! That really IS a concern. I’d much rather keep the system we now have … with some nameless, faceless employee at the profit-making Aetna making health care decisions for me.

By the way, as mentioned here some weeks ago, the total annual compensation for Ron Williams, CEO of the aforementioned Aetna, is $24 million. That's "annual" ... as in every year. Clearly, this guy's main concern is my health care.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health Care in the U.S. - Two Snapshots

I have health insurance.
Three years ago, my co-pay for a routine office visit was $8.00.
Last year, the co-pay was $14.00.
I had an appointment last week. The co-pay was $22.00.

I have drug insurance.
The monthly co-pay for one of my prescriptions is $38.
But I’ve just landed in “the donut hole.”
The monthly payment for that prescription is now $218.

We need health care reform. YA THINK???

Weird Things Are Happening

I have no idea what the problem is, but I have been unable to access this blog through the normal means ... that is, by selecting it from my "favorites" list. Yet I was able to get here by going through the route I use for putting up a new post. I have emailed Google about this and will hope they can clear it all up.

In the meantime, if you, too, have been having problems getting here, let me know at


Monday, August 10, 2009

This is how the debate on Health Care Reform is going.

Take a look at what we’re up against, folks. People with no idea what the problem is, let alone any understanding of how the various solutions might work, shouting down any debate or discussion. What a disgrace.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

What’s worse than an idiot? Someone telling the idiot what to think.

The woeful and, in many cases, willful ignorance being displayed by people opposing health care reform is nothing short of a national disgrace. I returned home today to find a letter-to-the-editor in today's Maui News from a woman ranting against politicians wrestling with this monumentally complex issue. Among other things, she says she wants her 80-year-old mother to live as long as God intends, not until some Washington bureaucrat decides she’s lived long enough.

This stupid woman should be scorned for actually believing that euthanasia canard (if she truly does believe it), but the real condemnation should come down on the heads of the people promoting such outrageous lies. Some are paid lobbyists for the health insurance and health care industries. Others are elected public officials … and, as far as I can tell, every damn one of them is a Republican.

But the worst are the media crazies like Glen Beck … people who are not stupid and who know perfectly well that they are promoting lies to inflame the morons who believe what they say. That, of course, boosts their ratings, and higher ratings increase their already bloated paychecks.

If there is a God, these are the people who already have a seat reserved in the hottest corner of the hottest spot in Hell.