Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare’

That Didn’t Take Long

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Republicans are against ObamaCare, right? Well, that’s what I thought. But, it looks like it took less than 30 days for Congressional R’s to begin softening their position:

We too don’t want to accept any insurance company’s denial of someone and coverage for that person because he or she might have a pre-existing condition,” Mr. Cantor told a town hall audience last night at American University in Washington, D.C. “Likewise, we want to make sure that someone of [college] age has the ability to access affordable care if it’s under your parent’s plan or elsewhere.”

This sounds like health-care policy as guided by public opinion surveys.

It sure as heck does sound like policy by polling. And, it makes absolutely no sense. Let’s take the sentimental part out of the equation and focus on what we’re talking about here. If instead of health care insurance we were talking about car insurance, this would mean that even if your car is banged up before buying insurance, you should be able to buy insurance that would allow you to get your car fixed to remove the pre-existing dents. That’s not insurance. That’s passing the cost of repairs along to your neighbors. It doesn’t make any sense.

Now, I know that a broken car is not the same as a sick person, but the insurance aspect is absolutely the same. I’ve noted it countless times before, insurance and health care are not synonymous. Insurance is “coverage by contract whereby one party undertakes to indemnify or guarantee another against loss by a specified contingency or peril.” It is not a contract for coverage where everyone else should be forced to offset the costs of your existing health care challenges.

See, one of the problems with government mandating health care coverage for all is what it leads to next. Namely, the government starts feeling the need to legislate (read:tax or disallow) what we eat, what we drink and in general how we lead our lives. After all, they reason that certain choices put a strain on the health care system. For example, people who over indulge in sugary or fatty foods and refuse to exercise are more likely to develop diabetes and heart problems. Since we now have legislation that guarantees them health care insurance paid for by “the people,” then it only makes sense that “the people” should be allowed to minimize their future costs by legislating healthy choices. This is how freedoms are lost.

Congressional Republicans better do a reality check quickly, or they are going to find themselves back in the minority in the very near future.

Higher Cost Lower Quality of Care

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

By passing the 2,000 page over-reaching health insurance legislation on strictly partisan lines, Democrats in Congress just added to the tax burden of nearly all Americans.

Under the plan now headed to Obama, individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine of up to $750 or 2 percent of their income — whichever is greater. It includes a hardship exemption for poorer Americans.

Companies with more than 50 employees that don’t provide coverage are required to pay a fee of $750 per worker if any of its employees rely on government subsidies to purchase coverage.

The compromise package would drop the individual fine to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. The fine on companies failing to provide coverage would jump to $2,000 per employee.

Worse yet, and admittedly by design, they have created a system that will encourage employers, to stop offering health insurance as a benefit:

Third, if more than two-thirds of the employees qualify for subsidies, the company would be paying the same tax penalty as if it had not offered a health plan in the first place. Faced with paying a hefty tax penalty whether they offer health insurance or not, many companies would drop their health plan, harming the remaining workers who do not qualify for subsidies. Those workers would be forced to buy health insurance on their own, paying 100 percent of the premium (instead of 40 percent or less through the employer) and paying with after-tax dollars. Even if the company raises pay by the amount they would have paid for health insurance (less the tax penalty), employees would now face income taxes on compensation that would otherwise be non-taxed health benefits.[3] 

This will result in an even higher cost for the program than projected, and will spell the decline of healthcare in America.  Those who will be impacted most, will not be the wealthy, who will always have access to quality care, or the poor who will see very little difference in their access to care.  Instead, it will be America’s middle class who will bear a higher burden for a lower quality of care.

Think of the ever-growing costs and accompanying decline in quality when it comes to public education, and you’ve got a good idea of what to expect in the not too distant future of healthcare.

Can’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

Monday, January 4th, 2010

While some celebrated the passing of the Christmas Eve health insurance legislation in Congress, sensible folks lamented its passing for a variety of reasons.  First, as I’ve noted on more than one occasion providing health insurance to most Americans, does nothing to improve access to quality of healthcare for all Americans. Case in point:

The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little.

More than 3,000 patients eligible for Medicare, the government’s largest health-insurance program, will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale, northwest of Phoenix, said Michael Yardley, a Mayo spokesman. The decision, which Yardley called a two-year pilot project, won’t affect other Mayo facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

Look for more top quality healthcare facilities to follow suit in the coming months and years. And, where will this leave us? Well, like most big expensive government entitlement programs, it will leave us even deeper in debt, and an insolvent program that fails to deliver as promised.  Oh sure, the program won’t be a total loss. In fact, for those states whose Senators were into selling their votes, this legislation will prove to be a big win:

New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman on Wednesday criticized special deals that Democratic leaders struck with some senators to win support for a sweeping Senate health care bill headed for passage today.

But the two Democrats said the deals weren’t enough to justify voting against a measure they said would benefit New Mexicans.

Senate leaders offered Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat, 100 percent federal subsidies for new Medicaid beneficiaries added to his state’s rolls under the Senate legislation. Other senators wrangled separate financial concessions for their states in exchange for their support for the Senate bill.

Sorry, criticizing the deals after the fact, but voting in a manner that tacitly endorses the deals doesn’t really hold water. Pretending this was a win for New Mexicans is a little less than honest:

According to Udall, the Senate health care overhaul would eventually insure 91 percent of New Mexicans, improve rural health care and grant permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, among other things. 

Think about that for a moment. Despite promises that this “landmark legislation” would insure all Americans, in New Mexico, the best outcome will be to insure 91% of New Mexicans… EVENTUALLY.  When this does EVENTUALLY happen, you can’t help but wonder how many of the newly insured still won’t have access to quality healthcare because they won’t be able to find an institution willing to take their insurance.

What a mess.

The Bankrupting of America

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

You know you have a problem when the folks that print the money are spending so much that they are exceeding their own debt ceiling:

The Senate began a debate Monday over the future of health care in America that’s likely to go on for weeks, but behind the scenes, lawmakers are struggling to resolve an even more explosive issue: how to pay for all their ideas.

Federal budget deficits remain at record highs. The national debt is $12.1 trillion; Congress must vote soon to let it go higher, or else the Treasury won’t be able to issue new debt. President Barack Obama is expected to announce today a plan to send an additional 30,000 to 35,000 American troops to Afghanistan, which will require more spending.

If you think healthcare insurance for all is the most important issue facing this country, think again. This forced insurance boondoggle will result in a deterioration of service options and a bankrupting of America. The only good news is that bankruptcy is a time of re-organization. At least that’s good news if you think the political leadership of our country needs to be re-organized out. And, by re-organized, I mean shown the door.

Escape From New Mexico Costs $100 Extra

Monday, November 30th, 2009

One of the things I’ve always liked about living in New Mexico is how convenient it is for business travel. I can hop on a plane and get to many of our nation’s largest metros within three hours. Well, shortly after the New Year, it looks like it is going to cost me an extra $100 if I want to avoid being quarantined to New Mexico:

“The way it is right now, come Jan. 1st, residents of New Mexico and residents of about 25 other states wouldn’t be allowed to board airplanes unless they had a valid passport.”

And, why is this?

The biggest issue is that New Mexico gives driver’s licenses to foreign nationals and illegal immigrants, which under the new law, would be illegal.

So, because our state government thinks it is important to make New Mexico a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants, I have to pay $100 extra if I want to travel freely in my own country. Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, I know some of you want to blame it on the Bush Administration for pushing the Real ID Law. For the record, I was not a fan of the expansion of a police state then any more than I am now. But, they’ve been gone for almost a year, so the new administration is just as much to blame for pushing this expansion of government and the resulting new tax on citizens.

And, that is exactly what it is – a new tax. Any time a government decision requires you to fork over more money to comply, it is a new tax. What really irks me is that no one at the state or federal level seems to care that this is going to cost me both a significant amount of time and money:

“Right now it’s a game of chicken, between the federal government and the state governments,” [New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Secretary Rick] Homans said.

A game of chicken? That’s the game where two people in moving vehicles come right at one another and see which one swerves out of the way first, right? Well, it’s really easy for state and federal government to play chicken with one another when the taxpayer/traveler is the one driving both cars. Nothing like taxpayer pain for bureaucratic amusement.

So, the states and the feds can’t get on the same page to allow law-abiding citizens to travel freely within our national borders. Now, what do you think is going to happen when we have nationalized healthcare?

Cash for Clunkers Cost Taxpayers $24K per Vehicle

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

As the healthcare debate continues and a public option keeps being pushed, it is a good idea to do a reality check and see just how inefficient government programs truly are. The mostly highly publicized “successful” government program of late is the Cash For Clunkers program. This was a $3 Billion taxpayer funded bailout of automotive manufacturers. It was a small part of the overall redistribution of dollars from taxpayers to automotive manufacturers and their Wall Street investors.

The program was so wildly “successful” that it looks like Ford is back on the road to recovery:

Ford Motor Co. earned $1 billion in the third quarter, fueled by U.S. market share gains, cost cuts and the government’s Cash for Clunkers rebates.

The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker on Monday reported net income of $997 million, or 29 cents per share. Ford says it now expects to be “solidly profitable” in 2011. Previously the automaker said it would be break-even or better.

That’s great news, right? Well, I guess that depends on who you are. If you work for Ford, or are an investor in Ford, definitely great news. If you were one of those folks who traded in your clunker and walked away with a new Ford, also, great news. If you are a present or future taxpayer who actually had to underwrite this latest government scam, well the news is not so great. You may have thought you were helping your fellow citizen get into that new car ( I’m sure a high priority for most of you) with a $4,000 subsidy, but the truth is actually a much bigger subsidy:, the premier resource for online automotive information, has determined that Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 per vehicle sold.

Nearly 690,000 vehicles were sold during the Cash for Clunkers program, officially known as CARS, but analysts calculated that only 125,000 of the sales were incremental. The rest of the sales would have happened anyway, regardless of the existence of the program.

Ironically, the average transaction price for a new vehicle in August 2009 was only $26,915 minus an average cash rebate of $1,667.

Nice, every taxpayer just paid to give away a free car. Only a federal government program could take money from the masses and redistribute it to a few, who would have bought a new car at some point in the future with their own money, in order to help some companies postpone their demise or exceed expected earnings. This is just too absurd.

Still having a hard time getting a grasp on this? Well, consider what the much heralded “successful” Cash for Clunkers program may as well have done.

For that price, the federal government could have purchased the 125,000 cars outright at manufacturer suggested retail prices, such as a Ford Fusion, Focus or even a Mustang, and then handed each of the recipients an additional bonus check averaging the Cash-for-Clunkers subsidy of $4,000. Or they could have bought every one of those 125,000 people a Smart car and then given them a check for $6,000.

Now, we’re going to put these same government folks in charge of our healthcare programs in order to cut costs. Yeah, that’s gonna work well.

Putting Healthcare Before Jobs

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Congress and President Obama have made it clear that their number one priority right now is pushing through a healthcare “reform” bill. If you ask me, this is a political mistake that is going to come back and bite them. Estimates of the numbers of Americans without health insurance range from 10% -20% depending on the point that is trying to be made and by whom.

Not having health insurance only really becomes a problem if you are ill, and severely or chronically ill at that. And, even then, if you have access to healthcare, the lack of insurance is irrelevant. So, we are talking about a relatively small percentage of the population at any given time.

Research released this week in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 45,000 deaths per year in the United States are associated with the lack of health insurance. If a person is uninsured, “it means you’re at mortal risk,” said one of the authors, Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Mind you, that’s 45,000 deaths out of a U.S. population of some 300 million. In fact, this number is almost equivalent to the number of people that die every year in car accidents.

Highway fatalities account for more than 94% of all transportation deaths. There were an estimated 6,289,000 car accidents in the US in 1999. There were about 3.4 million injuries and 41,611 people killed in auto accidents in 1999. The total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 was 42,116, compared to 41,945 in 2000.

Yet, we don’t feel the latter is a crisis that deserves the full attention of Congress and the President. The healthcare insurance debate is a political sideshow at best. Yes, it is terrible for those who are struck with a chronic or fatal illness who do not have insurance, but it is not the the number one crisis facing America. Nor, for that matter is climate change, but I digress.

Let’s look at the reality. People with cushy, protected government jobs, or the those at the highest and lowest levels of earnings scale are not impacted by a recession, but million of middle class Americans, who incidentally vote, are impacted. After all, they are the growing number of unemployed unable to find work.

Sure, the political elite and Wall-Street-Give-Me-A-Bailout-Followed-By-Large-Bonus types like to talk about how the recession has ended, and in their insulated bubble it may have. But, for millions upon millions of Americans, not only has the recession not ended, it is still expected to worsen:

National unemployment rates remain extraordinarily high, having reached almost 10 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, unemployment will climb to 10.2 percent in 2010 before falling to around 9.1 percent the following year.

Within particular states, the situation is dire. In Massachusetts, unemployment rates have reached a level not seen since 1976. Michigan’s unemployment rate is at a little over 15 percent. State budgets, according to a report by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, are still devastated by rapidly declining tax revenue. According to its study, collections by states fell by 16.6 percent from April to June.

Keep in mind that every time you read about another couple of hundred thousand jobless claims, those losses very often impact, not only the individual, but the other members of their households. Consider those millions compared to the 45,000 who die because they don’t have health insurance. Now consider that the proposals in front of Congress are going to force 100% healthcare insurance coverage through punitive actions on business:

Businesses would not be required to provide health insurance under legislation being readied for Senate debate, but large firms would owe significant penalties if any worker needed government subsidies to buy coverage on their own, according to Democratic officials familiar with talks on the bill.

For firms with more than 50 employees, the fee could be as high as $750 multiplied by the total size of the work force if only a few workers needed federal aid, these officials said. That is a more stringent penalty than in a bill that recently cleared the Senate Finance Committee, which said companies should face penalties on a per-employee basis.

In other words, Congress is going to make it even more expensive to do business in the U.S. We’ll see even more jobs evaporate in order to solve a problem impacting the lives of 45,000 of Americans. Not smart.

Political Promises Never Last

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

As the push for national healthcare continues, it is good to look at how public healthcare option promises have played out in other states:

So we are sticking with our plan and paying the tax. But what bothers me most is that a similar health-care mandate is being proposed in Washington, and some of the same promises that were made here are being made again—such as that the mandate will never hit middle-class folks with a new tax. When asked about the mandate, Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said recently, according to the New York Times, “It surprises me that we would have these high-level penalties on average Americans.”

Well, I don’t find it surprising. The mandate in Massachusetts was sold as something that wouldn’t penalize people like my husband and me. But those political promises were only good for as long as it took to get the mandate enacted into law.

Isn’t that always the case?

Can’t Help But Wonder

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I can’t help but wonder what happens to one of my favorite past times if we get a government run healthcare system in the U.S. In July 2007, I bought a four door Jeep Wrangler. I can’t even tell you how therapeutic I find it to drive with the top off and the windows open under the clear blue skies of the Land of Enchantment.

I’ve put nearly 60,000 miles in the first two years of ownership criss-crossing the state. Sometimes I did it for business, sometimes for fun. Actually, no matter what the purpose, I always had fun. Especially those trips that took me on dirt roads with nothing but the cows and deer for company.

The first month or two I had the vehicle the doors were off as well, but my always sensible wife ruled that the kids were forbidden to drive with me if there were no doors on the vehicle. So, that didn’t last too long. [Note to lawmakers enacting revenue generating schemes: No law had to be passed to protect our children.]

Okay, you’re wondering what does driving with a topless Jeep have to do with government run healthcare? That’s a fair enough question. Consider this new medical study released on the potential damage to hearing provided by convertibles [hat tip: NewMexiKen]:

Convertible lovers who take to the open road with the top down may be risking hearing damage, according to a new study out of the U.K.

“If you are exposed for long periods above 85 decibels [of sound], you have the potential for hearing loss,” says Philip Michael, MD, an ear-nose-throat surgeon at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcestershire, U.K., and the study’s lead author. In his study, he found that the noise level with the top down was higher than 85 decibels. “The maximum noise was at 70 miles per hour and that was 89 decibels. It has the potential for causing long-term hearing loss.”

To put those decibel levels in context, a normal conversation is about 60 decibels; a rock concert is about 115 decibels.

Well, once the government is running the healthcare system is it too far fetched to consider that they might outlaw the use of convertibles, or rock concerts for that matter, to cut costs related to hearing loss? I don’t think so. Remember our own Senator Bingaman has already made the point:

If the government is going to be involved in the far end… I don’t see why it’s inappropriate for the government to encourage healthy behavior up front.

Time and time again, we allow the government to extend its reach into our lives without giving much thought to the precedent that sets for further intrusions. If you enjoy cranking up the stereo while driving your convertible, and eating an occasional fast food burger, fries and a large chocolate shake, you may want to give a second thought to the implications of a government run healthcare system.

The Changing Tide

Monday, September 14th, 2009

The Left has historically outperformed the Right in New Mexico when it comes to turning out crowds to rally behind political causes. However, it seems that the continued radical and extreme shift to the left of our federal government is beginning to change that.

Consider the turnouts of Tea Party demonstrations in recent months:

The Albuquerque Tea Party released its unofficial attendance count for the July 4 rally that drew thousands of supporters.

Now, compare that turnout to the pro-public option healthcare rally that occurred this past weekend:

More than 300 people from all over the state attended the rally, which was one of many held across the country on Sunday. The rally was organized by Grassroots4PublicOption, a nonpartisan New Mexico group.

Of course, the recent polling conducted for the Albuquerque Journal provides some insight as to why attendance at the government run healthcare rally was so weak:

While most members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation support a government-run public option for health care coverage, nearly half of the state’s registered voters don’t want one, a Journal Poll found.

Forty-nine percent of the voters surveyed statewide said they opposed a government-run insurance program that would compete with private industry.

Forty-two percent said they favored a government-run program, or public option. Nine percent said it would depend or they didn’t know.

Intensity also was apparent. Respondents who “strongly opposed” a public option outnumbered those who “strongly favored” such a plan by more than 3-to-2.

Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the state. However, the majority of voters in New Mexico, with the exception of this last presidential election, seem to vote center/center-right. Factor in the growing legions of independent voters, and those in office who blindly rubber stamp the ultra-left agenda will likely find themselves in serious trouble come Election Day.

Despite claims political claims to the contrary, the economic situation for everyday Americans is not improving. In fact, if you really listen to what is being reported, you’ll hear nonsense like

Speaking to reporters, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs pointed out that the most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that “we continue to see a slowing of the pace of job loss.”

I’ve heard of putting a positive spin on something, but this is ridiculous. The White House actually wants the public to get excited about the fact that things are worsening, albeit at a slower pace. That’s the equivalent of telling a terminal patient to feel good that he doesn’t need a new pair of glasses.

Attempting to spin an economic reality does nothing to increase confidence in government. In fact, it has quite the opposite effect. People listen to our leaders saying things are getting better, yet those same people know that they’re struggling to pay their bills. In New Mexico, you can combine that growing reality with the ongoing corruption scandals, and failing government programs (i.e. education), and we may just be at a point where folks feel enough is enough.