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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore



Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

 

Today, something for Obama supporters

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

I’ve been taking a fair amount of heat lately because I can’t find it in my heart to support Our Dear Leader…I mean, The Greatest President Ever®… I mean Barack H. Obama as he runs for reelection.

Apparently, all I ever do is lie about him and make up stuff and be mean and disrespectful. I’ve even had the racist card played on me a couple of times.

I will freely admit to being disrespectful, primarily because I’m one of those curmudgeonly folks who believe respect should be earned and not come automatically with being elected to something. The rest of the charges, well, I imagine they come from folks who live by sound bites and pretty much want to believe that “Yes, we can” move “Forward” and build castles in the sky but really don’t like it when folks point out things like gravity, so they lash out.  But that’s okay. I have a pretty thick skin.

Still, I do feel a little bit bad that I made them feel bad. So today, I’m not going to say anything bad about Barack H. Obama. I’m not even going to point out any uncomfortable truths. I’m just going to offer this short music video by two folks who apparently were card-carrying Obots hopeful, thoughtful supporters in 2008.

I’ll leave it to you, kind readers, to comment on the video.

Enjoy.

 

And so health care rationing begins

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Susan.

***

I’ve maintained for many decades that whenever government sticks it’s collective nose into something, costs go up while quality goes down. I’m hard-pressed to think of even one exception.

When Romneycare passed here in Massachusetts, we saw costs go through the roof, even though they’d previously been driven up by government mandating that insurers must cover a host of things most people did not need or want, would never use, but were forced to pay for anyway.

All went swimmingly, from government’s perspective, while federal money flowed in to keep down the cost of providing insurance to those who could not afford to pay for it. But even federal funds are not unlimited and as more and more people became “insured,” costs began to spiral out of control.

Now, a thoughtful person might wonder if getting government out of the health care business entirely might be the best solution. Repeal all the mandates and let the free market offer insurance products people want and can afford, for those who want insurance. Those who don’t want to buy insurance can pay cash or set up payment plans should they need health care. And the truly needy will still be cared for, as they always were before government decided to play doctor.

But thoughtfulness is not generally a trait one finds in the liberal politicians who run Massachusetts. They pass a health care bill requiring universal coverage, promising it will reduce costs for everyone once everyone is insured, then scratch their heads in confusion when all those newly insured folks, especially the ones who get “free” insurance, suddenly begin flocking to emergency rooms and doctor’s offices, driving up costs across the board. So they try a tweak here and a tweak there but expenditures continue to escalate until there is only one thing left to do — clamp down on costs by legislating spending limits.

Mass. lawmakers pass health care cost-control bill

Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a 350-page health care cost-control bill Tuesday afternoon, a compromise between House and Senate leaders that sets spending targets for hospitals and doctors in the state and penalizes those that exceed them.

Governor Deval Patrick said he would sign the bill. “This is more than a good bill; this is a great bill,” he told reporters after visiting a Roxbury organization that seeks to reduce youth violence. “This is a commonwealth that has shown the nation how to extend coverage to everybody and to do it in a hybrid system with an emphasis on private-sector insurance with subsidies for those who can’t afford it. And now we’re going to crack the code on cost control.”

He said he does not believe the legislation will lead to layoffs in the health care sector or hospital closures. “There are going to be changes,” Patrick said. “But if those changes mean we get lower-cost and higher-quality care because care is being delivered in different settings — in homes, for example, in neighborhoods, in communities, rather than in hospitals — then I think that’s something we all ought to strive for and will strive for.”

The plan allows health spending to grow no faster than the state economy overall through 2017. For the five years after that, spending would slow further, to half a percentage point below the growth of the state’s economy, although leaders would have the power under certain circumstances to soften that target.

Supporters believe the bill will help moderate increases in insurance premiums for consumers and businesses. While the measure does not spell out specific cuts, health providers are expect­ed to expand efforts already under­way to slow the proliferation of some medical procedures, better coordinate care to keep patients healthier and out of the hospital, and steer patients to lower-cost care­givers.

Providers and insurers that do not meet the spending targets would have to submit “performance improvement plans’’ to a new state commission. Failure to implement their plans could lead to a fine of up to $500,000.

“This is going to save us $200 billion over the next 15 years, and it’s going to provide better quality of care and better access,’’ Senate President ­Therese Murray said in an inter­view Monday night. “This is a big plus for us. We’re once again in the forefront on health care in the nation.’’

Murray said the 350-page bill will build on the state’s 2006 landmark health insurance mandate, which ­became the model for President Obama’s national health care legislation.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a written statement that “while this bill may seem complex, its goal is simple: to cut health care costs that burden businesses and consumers while not interfering with the high quality of health care Massachusetts residents enjoy.”

Click Here to read the rest of the article.

So, let me get this straight. This bill is going to save us all money by limiting the amount of money that can be spent on health care and while doing so, will provide better care for everyone.

That sounds an awful lot like what was promised when Romneycare passed and see how well that worked…or didn’t work.

What you will not hear anyone say, because the media outlets will not report it, is that simple logic dictates that if costs are capped while demand increases, either quality or quantity must be reduced to stay under the cap.

That means, your doctor might not order the expensive test that could pinpoint the cause of your pain. Instead, you get a prescription for painkillers. It means that when the guy who had a bypass operation in his fifties returns for a second procedure in his seventies, he might well be sent home with a “care and comfort” order to wait to die.

When you limit spending you must limit care. All the shuffling and dancing in the world will not get around that simple fact.

I’ve been telling all you kind readers who don’t live here in The People’s Republic to go to school on what Romneycare has done to us because the same thing is going to be done to you, eventually, thanks to Obamacare.

Watch us closely, because sooner or later, rationing will come to you, too.

 

A woman asks, “Liberals, why are you celebrating Obamacare?”

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Hadley Heath, Senior Policy Analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, makes some interesting points and asks some interesting questions in this op/ed.

Liberals, why are you celebrating Obamacare?

Liberals are celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare. This raises a question: Why, exactly, are they celebrating? Obamacare is far from the liberal ideal. In fact, many of its provisions fly in the face of what liberals say they stand for. The law promotes cronyism, hurts the poor, limits care for the elderly, fails to reach the left’s pet goal of universal coverage, wrecks havoc on government transparency, and raises taxes on the middle class.

Remember Occupy Wall Street? Rowdy groups of young liberals gathered to “occupy” various cities in protest of the Wall Street bailouts and a political system in which the government and big corporations conspire to make rich people richer and poor people poorer. This wheeling and dealing cronyism is at the heart of the health law.

Insurance companies supported the law, and in return made out like bandits. Thirty million new customers — like it or not — will be forced into their market. Liberals hated the mandate for this reason just a few short years ago. Remember candidate Obama in 2008: “Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness.” In 2009, Howard Dean called the Obamacare plan “an insurance company’s dream.”

The mandate isn’t the only way corporate interests will profit from Obamacare. The “minimum essential” requirements for insurance are an open invitation to lobbyists representing each pharmaceutical and medical treatment to head to Congress — or state seats of government — to convince lawmakers their products are “essential.” If you think bureaucrats will be making these decisions fairly, considering only scientific studies or unbiased task forces, think again. There is money to be made.

Not everyone will be making money from Obamacare. In fact, in spite of the income inequality “crisis” which supposedly keeps liberals up at night, low-income Americans will be among Obamacare’s biggest losers.

Click Here to read the rest of the op/ed.

I’m going to refrain from comment today and give the floor to those of you who lean left.

Please, tell the rest of us why you support Obamacare despite everything Heath points out in her column.

Many of us honestly do not understand.

 

So…what will Congress next decide to tax you for not buying?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

By now you’ve heard or read that the Supreme Court essentially upheld Obamacare. They did it by first telling Congress they can’t force you to buy health insurance or anything else. But they can tax you for not buying health insurance.

See the difference?

No. I don’t either.

By converting the mandate to buy insurance into a tax for not buying it, the Court told Congress they can tax you for not doing something Congress wants you to do.

Apparently, five of Justices thought this was a perfectly reasonable interpretation of what the Founders intended when they penned the Constitution.

What’s the next thing we’ll be taxed for not buying?

Let’s look at some hypothetical future taxes Congress could well decide to impose:

$$$ Any adult citizen who does not own a late-model, General Motors automobile or truck will have to pay an annual tax of $500. Late model is defined as less than six years old.

$$$ Anyone who does not buy a pair of Nike sneakers each year will be taxed $130.

$$$ All adults who don’t own a smartphone will incur an annual tax of $690

$$$ All taxpayers who do not purchase at least one round-trip airline ticket annually must pay a “non-support of the airline industry” tax of $999.

$$$ All families that cannot provide per-person proof of purchase of 1460 servings of fruit and 1460 servings of vegetables will incur a healthcare offset tax of $1500 per family member.

I could go on and on and on, but you see the point.

The Supreme Court essentially declared freedom of choice dead in America. Or maybe not dead, but taxable.

Can’t you just see all the heads in Washington spinning with visions of all the taxes they can impose, now that you can be taxed for not buying something…or anything?

The conversion of America to socialism, which FDR began in the 1930s, is nearly complete, now.

Comments? Or not.

Does it really matter anymore what any of us “little people’ think?

 

‘Toons the American press won’t publish

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

No. You didn’t lose a day. Truth in Toons will be here tomorrow, as usual.

I was going though some old email yesterday and found one containing these political cartoons. Apparently, they originated overseas in 2010, though I don’t know where. (Thanks go to buffalogrammy for sharing them.)

They’re not especially funny, except, perhaps, in a macabre way, but what struck me about them was how they’re still relevant two years later.

Whether or not you like or detest Obama or could not care less either way, you have to admit there is a lot of truth in these ‘toons.

Do you agree or disagree?

Which do you think are the most relevant today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff says the state doesn’t know best. I agree. Do you?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Yesterday, I read an an excellent commentary by Jeff Jacoby about state involvement in health care.

As you all know, Obamacare Light, also known as Romneycare, has been working its ruination on Massachusetts for six years now. Sold as legislation that would insure everyone, reduce premiums, and end chronic reliance on emergency rooms for healthcare services, it has created a huge new bureaucracy, doesn’t insure everyone, doubled and tripled premiums, and actually increased the use of emergency rooms by the newly insured poor who pay little or nothing in premiums and co-pays and so have zero incentive to do anything but run to the emergency room when they get a cold.

Now that Massachusetts politicians have created a problem where before, none existed, they’re all bleating about the need to lower the high premiums they caused along with the overall cost of providing health care to Massachusetts citizens and the swarms of illegal “residents” the state welcomes with open arms and pocketbooks. And since no “need” can go legislated, both the House and Senate are debating new bills to impose the ideas of people who have no idea how to do anything related to healthcare on those who do know, as well as on all the rest of us who have to foot the bills.

Health care: No, the state doesn’t know best

PRICES WERE OUT OF CONTROL at the end of 3rd-century Rome, and the Emperor Diocletian was determined to rein them in. In AD 301 he issued his famous Edict on Prices, a complex piece of legislation that banned speculation and established price ceilings for a wide range of goods and services. But the ambitious law failed. Though violators could be punished with death, inflation and speculation persisted. Goods were hoarded, or sold on the black market. The economic crisis worsened. Eventually the law was abandoned. Like countless rulers before and since, Diocletian discovered the hard way that price controls don’t work. They worsen the problem they are intended to solve, leading to shortages, rationing, and even higher prices.

Yet the belief that government can control inflation by fiat never seems to lose its allure.

Which brings us to the “Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Reduction Act of 2012,” a 178-page bill introduced in the Massachusetts House this month amid jaunty predictions of cheaper insurance premiums for Bay State families and tens of billions of dollars in medical savings over the next 15 years. An even longer bill — 235 pages — has been introduced in the state Senate.

These bills aren’t written in Latin and they don’t impose the death penalty, but their core principle is not much different from Diocletian’s: The state knows best. What fraction of the local economy should health care consume? How fast should medical spending rise? On what business model should provider networks be organized? How should hospital and doctors fees be calculated? Where should consumers get information on quality and cost of care? When are a provider’s high rates justified? What penalty should it bear when they aren’t? In the world these plans envision, decision after decision comes not through the voluntary interplay of doctors, patients, hospitals, and insurers, but from government agents who impose them from above.

Adding up the “dizzying and expansive” array of decrees in the House legislation, health-care analyst Joshua Archambault of the Pioneer Institute finds 941 instances in which the bill mandates that something “shall” be done. Among these are more than 25 kinds of penalties, fines, and surcharges, for price control and punishment always go hand in hand. Looming over all would be a new Division of Health Care Cost and Quality, a command-and-control behemoth that would dominate the state’s medical and health-insurance landscapes, with the power to affect billions of dollars and millions of lives.

And would any checks and balances restrain this behemoth? In the language of the House bill, it “shall be an independent public entity not subject to the supervision and control of any other executive office, department, commission, board, bureau, agency or political subdivision.” Throw in a toga, and Diocletian would feel right at home.

Click Here to read the rest of the column.

Note that last paragraph. This new bureaucracy would not be subject to review by anyone. It will be a Healthcare Dictatorship in the state where American freedom was birthed. Of course, it will be a benevolent dictatorship. No worries about rationing and doctors fleeing the state and/or profession as their workload increases while their income plummets.

Right?

Those of you who still cling to the fantasy of Obamacare doing anything but ultimately

— destroying the healthcare infrastructure
— making private insurance unaffordable by all but the most wealthy
— reducing and rationing care for the rest of us
— and adding untold numbers of new Federal employees to the tax burden

should open your eyes, take a look at the reality of government managed health care, and pray the Supreme Court kills the entire unholy, unAmerican thing. Because if they don’t, what’s happening in Massachusetts will be coming soon to you.

Comments? Opinions?

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

 

Truth in Toons: Healthcare Edition

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?
Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want healthy children? Let your babies get dirty!

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

My daughter-in-law is pregnant with her first child and our first grandchild. She and our son, along with our daughter and her husband, have dinner with us every Thursday.

One of her favorite topics of conversation are her “crazy” friends who go to extraordinary lengths to shelter their children from everything, including germs. These moms and dads all seem to have been infected with severe cases of the “don’ts” — don’t feed your child this or that until she’s three; don’t let him crawl on unsterilized floors; and so on and on and on. Many of these edicts come straight from the children’s pediatricians while other cautions are found in books and on the Internet and are transferred from parent to parent like a plague.

The thing is, most of what passes for “best practices” in child-rearing today flies directly in the face of how generations of children were raised in the past, including my daughter-in-law and me. She thinks it’s all complete lunacy and I agree.

Certainly, neither of us advocate bringing a baby to the communicable diseases ward of a hospital. But I have, for years, and she has, since I’ve known her, pointed out that the huge increase in kids with food and other allergies and with breathing and other problems seems to track pretty consistently with the rise of the over-protectiveness with which new parents are instructed to raise their children.

We both contend that it is early exposure to germs and to a variety of foods that helps set the body’s immune response system and its ability to tolerate different foods.

When I was a kid, nobody in my neighborhood ever even heard of someone who was allergic to peanut butter. Perhaps that’s because most kids got their first taste of it before they even had teeth. Now, peanut butter is banned from many schools thanks to the number of kids who have a nut allergy.

I bring this up today because of a short article I read in today’s newspaper that indicates science is beginning to catch up with common sense when it comes to child-rearing.

Exposure to germs early may be helpful

For years, doctors and researchers have made a seemingly paradoxical observation: as people have grown up in cleaner and more sterile environments, allergies, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases have increased. Now, an international team headed by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has found support for this “hygiene hypothesis’’ and one possible biological explanation that could underlie the intriguing phenomenon.

The researchers used a simple experiment with laboratory mice to strip away many of the complexities that arise when trying to compare differences among human beings who happened to have been reared in different environments. In a paper published online Thursday in the journal Science, they report that exposure early in life to microbes had long-lasting effects on a subset of immune cells, almost as if those experiences were educating the immature immune system so that it protected against disease later on. Exposure as an adult did not have the same effect.

As far as we can tell, it’s a very critical opportunity in the earliest days of life,’’ said Dr. Richard Blumberg, chief of gastroenterology, hepatology, and endoscopy at the Brigham, one of the leaders of the work.

Click Here to read the rest of the article.

I agree with Dr. Blumberg, but I’ll go him one better and say it’s critically important in the first years of life, not just the earliest days.

I let my kids taste almost everything when they were babies. Not spoonfuls, of course, but enough to coat the tip of a finger, a finger I did not sterilize before letting them lick or suck off whatever it was coated with. Maybe we were just lucky, or maybe we did the right thing, but neither of our kids ended up with any food allergies.

How were you raised, food- and germ-wise?

Do you agree or disagree that early exposure helps the body learn to tolerate and fight?

And are or were you a “germ Nazi” or a “let them eat dirt” parent?

 

How bad is Obamacare for seniors? Here are five tax-related ways seniors will get soaked.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Next week, the Supreme Court will be asked to decide if the Federal Government can compel private citizens to buy stuff.

The court will hear arguments for and against Obamacare, and freedom-loving Americans from coast-to-coast and around the globe are hoping the answer will be a rousing and decisive “NO.”

Among the many, many reasons why all Americans should vigorously oppose Obamacare is that it will financially devastate many seniors, thanks to some taxes that traitors-to-freedom Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid made sure were in the bloated bill nobody could read until they voted for it.

Grover Norquist, the President of  Americans for Tax Reform wrote a short Op/Ed that outlines the five most serious tax consequences for America’s seniors if Obamacare is not overturned.

The five tax hikes in Obamacare that most hurt seniors

The jobs-killing Obamacare law contains 20 new or higher taxes on American families and employers. Many of these tax increases fall on families making less than $250,000 — a direct violation of candidate Obama’s promise not to raise “any form” of taxes on these families. In less than a week, the third anniversary of Obamacare being signed into law will take place. The Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare next week.

Out of the 20 new or higher taxes in Obamacare, there are five that fall most directly on seniors.

The first is the excise tax penalty for failure to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate. Many seniors face a coverage gap between retirement and Medicare eligibility. Obamacare raises taxes on these younger seniors by punishing them if they don’t purchase “qualifying health insurance.” Set to go into effect in 2014, the excise tax penalty for mandate non-compliance will in 2016 rise to 2.5% of adjusted gross income for a senior couple (or $1,390 for those making less than $55,600).

Obamacare will leave many seniors counting pennies...if they're lucky.

Why does Obamacare raise taxes on seniors just as they are entering retirement? Many of these seniors will face this “stick” but find themselves with too much income to qualify for the “carrot” of tax credits to purchase Obamacare health insurance plans in an exchange. Many will be forced to keep working just to avoid paying this tax.

The second tax hike on seniors is the so-called “Cadillac Plan” excise tax. Starting in 2018, Obamacare imposes a whopping 40% excise tax on high-cost (“Cadillac plan”) health insurance plans. This is defined for seniors as a plan whose premiums exceed $29,450 for a family plan, or $11,500 for a single senior. Seniors often face higher costs in health insurance premiums due to chronic health conditions and other risk factors. This tax will fall almost exclusively on the seniors with the greatest health insurance needs.

Third is Obamacare’s dividends tax hike. Starting in 2013, the top tax rate on dividends is scheduled to rise from 15% today to 39.6%. In addition, Obamacare imposes a dividend “surtax” of 3.8% on families making more than $250,000 per year. That would create a top dividend tax rate of 43.4%, nearly triple today’s rate. This will fall very hard on seniors. According to the Tax Foundation’s analysis of IRS data, 70% of households over age 55 receive dividend income. Seventy-one percent of all dividends paid flow to these households. To raise taxes on dividends is to raise taxes on seniors.

Then there’s the medical device excise tax. Obamacare imposes a new excise tax on medical device manufacturers in 2013. These companies will surely build the cost of this new tax into the price of what they sell. Who buys medical devices? Who buys pacemakers, wheelchairs and other costly medical devices? Seniors do.

Finally, Obamacare reduces allowable medical itemized deductions. Under current law, medical itemized deductions can be claimed on tax returns, but they must be reduced by 7.5% of adjusted gross income. Obamacare increases this “haircut” to 10% of AGI in 2013. This will mean that millions of Americans claiming medical itemized deductions will no longer be able to. The same IRS data as above tells us that 60% of all tax filers claiming this deduction are over age 55.

All of the tax increases in Obamacare will hurt seniors, but these five fall on them directly and hardest.

Did Obama and his henchmen set out to deliberately penalize seniors for getting old? Or were they just too stupid or blinded by ideology to recognize the consequences of what they foisted upon America? Did it occur to them that not all seniors with dividend income are wealthy, that some simply live comfortably in retirement and others just scrape by even with their dividends and that confiscating forty percent of it might make the difference between eating three meals a day and two…or one?

It took 232 years for the nation to elect a president arrogant enough to presume he is not just another inexperienced, megalomaniacal politician, but some kind of royalty who doesn’t lead the nation but rules it.

Whether the Supreme Court decides according to the Constitution, as the Founders intended, or further twists and rips it to squeeze out another fantastical, never-before-noticed government power, we still have one more chance to save the nation come November. Sadly, it does not look like it will be in the presidential election, where Republicans appear determined to nominate the weakest possible candidate to face Our Dear Leader.

The only real hope is that the Tea Movement — notice we don’t hear much about them in the national media anymore — can help elect enough new members of Congress and the Senate to overthrow Obamacare and set the nation back on the road to prosperity.

I know some folks will say I’m dreaming, but for many Americans, the dream is all they have left.

What’s your take on this?

Am I overreacting? Or on the money?

 

What’s the best way to choose?

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

What’s the best way for an automaker to decide which cars to build?

They could rely on central planners, like the old Soviet Union and many socialist nations, and end up with yards full of Chevy Volts and other cars nobody wants.

Or they could look at their own sales figures and those of competitors, essentially letting car-buyers decide.

Does letting the customers make the most sense to you? It does to me.

Now think about health insurance or anything else people buy. Doesn’t it also make sense to let people decide what they want to buy rather than forcing them to buy things they do not want? Not if you’re one the politicians, bureaucrats, or busybodies who imagines you know what’s best for everyone else.

And that is the underlying reason we live in a nation in decline.

As those in government stuck their collective noses into more and more of our personal and public business, the rate of social, economic, and political decay increased. We are now “led” by a man who would be king, in his own mind at least, who orders religious organizations to act against their faith because he said so. Never mind that private insurance coverage is not and should not be the concern of government at any level.

That was at least partly recognized by the outcry that, yesterday, forced Our Dear Leader to cave and try to weasel his way around the mandate. Now, instead of religious organizations having to pay for birth control and abortion drugs, the insurance companies will have to ‘reach out” to the customers and offer them free. What that really means is, instead of the churches paying for it, you and I  get to pay for it via higher premiums.

This unfairness can only happen because “We the People” keep choosing to let it. So many of us have grown so lazy, so complacent, and so uninformed that all we care about is who promises us the most while never for a moment wondering who’s going to pay for all the loot.

The best way to choose a car is to examine independent reports on quality and price and balance those against our needs for size and style. So far, we are still free to do that and we can still by cars for reasonable prices.

The best way to choose health insurance is to decide what kinds of coverage we need or want, then compare the policies and prices offered by various companies. Thanks to coverage mandates by federal and state governments, we haven’t been able to do that for a long time and our healthcare costs are going through the roof

What does that tell you?

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it — this November may well be our last opportunity to change the course of our nation away from the whirlpool of socialism and back to capitalism and freedom. We have until then to educate the uninformed, disturb the complacent, and motivate the lazy.

Good luck to us all.

Do you think I’m exaggerating the danger?

Am I missing something?

Do I just need enlightenment and re-educating?

What do you think?

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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