Monday, June 29, 2009
Bottom line is that it takes Congressional hearings and watchdogs to police waste within the agencies that cover governmental employees' own health care. So, why would we ever expect more from a system that covers the general public? The government proves time and again they simply cannot do things right, yet wants you and I to believe that "this time it will be different." I think Bernie Madoff said the same thing if they just let him work one more Ponzi scheme, didn't he?
Sunday, June 28, 2009
John Stossel: Government Controlled Health Care Means Waiting Lines, Serious Drawbacks
By JOHN STOSSEL, ANDREW SULLIVAN and ANDREW KIRELL
This was scheduled for June 26, 2009 but was postponed to July due to the Michael Jackson death breaking news
When the government takes over, many critics say that you may not get the care and breakthroughs you need to save your life.
"The only way they can get costs down under a government-run system is to control the amount of money that is spent on health care," says Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, who was born in Canada, and is wary about government taking the reins of health care in the U.S.
"We are going to have denied care, lack of access to the latest technology, and long waiting lists, just like people do in Canada and Great Britain," she warns.
In those countries, the government pays for all health care, and bureaucrats put limits on spending in order to control costs. They determine how much doctors can be reimbursed and put caps on the amount of money that can be spent on treatments.
The result of all this cost-cutting? People wait for care.
But Obama has said he doesn't want a government takeover of health care.
"When you hear the naysayers claim that I'm trying to bring about government-run health care," he told the American Medical Association last week, "know this -- they're not telling the truth."
Public vs. Private Plans: Cost, Care, Competition
Canada and Great Britain have what's called a "single-payer" health care system: the government pays for everyone's health care using tax revenue. It's true that Obama says he doesn't want a health care system exactly like that.
Instead, he says he wants to set up a public insurance program run by the government that will compete alongside private insurance plans. However, critics warn that a plan like this won't allow private insurers to compete on a level playing field. They say the government will keep costs down for their public plan by setting payment rates for doctors below the market level, the same way that Medicare does now.
"What will happen in the long run is that private insurers will not be able to compete with the government on price," Pipes predicts, "so they will leave the market."
Critics like Pipes say that when the size and power of a government plan grow large enough, public insurers will crowd private insurers out of the health care market and American health care will become a de facto government-run system, like Canada or Great Britain.
"People line up for care. Some of them die. That's what happens," Dr. David Gratzer says of Canada's health care system.
Gratzer, a Canadian doctor, thought Canada's government health care system was great -- until he started treating patients.
"The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more I came across people waiting for radiation therapy. Waiting for the knee replacement so they could finally walk up to the second floor of their house," he explained.
"You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem! You just have to wait six months," he continued. "You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air. You've just got to wait six months."
Many ER doctors in Canada agree that the system is broken. They say hospitals face a consistent shortage of bed space, and patients often have to wait.
While people in America also wait in emergency rooms, the wait is different in Canada. When patients go to the ER for treatment and are found to be sick enough to enter the hospital, they have to wait in the emergency room for an average of 19 hours before they can be given a hospital bed.
"We can't send these patients to other hospitals that have capacity because there is no other hospital in the area that has capacity," said Dr. Eric Letovsky, an ER doctor from Ontario. "Every other emergency department in the country is just as packed as we are."
Serious Drawbacks to Canadian Model
A national shortage of general practitioners in Canada means that 1.7 million Canadians don't have access to a regular doctor to go to for routine care.
The town of Norwood, Ontario, has only one family doctor available to serve the entire community. To ration the patient list, the town clerk holds a lottery once a month, drawing a few names out of a box that contains all of the people hoping to get on the doctor's patient list. She calls the lucky winners, but everyone else must continue to wait.
It's true that America's partly-private, profit-driven system is expensive and sometimes wasteful, but that pursuit of profit has allowed our health care system to offer rapid delivery, great doctors, and incredible lifesaving discoveries.
"This is the country of medical innovation. This is where people come when they need treatment," said Gratzer.
Thousands come from countries with government-run health care to take advantage of the advanced care in the United States. The famous Spanish tenor Jose Carreras didn't get treated for cancer in Spain -- he went to Seattle. King Hussein of Jordan came to America for treatment. So did Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
"Literally, we're surrounded by medical miracles. Death by cardiovascular disease has dropped by two-thirds in the last 50 years," said Gratzer. "You've got to pay a price for that type of advancement,"
The reality is that there are always trade-offs in life. Although government "universal coverage" promises great things like equal care and that no one need worry that an illness will bankrupt them, government control also means waiting in lines and sometimes going without care.
Innovations like birth control pills, cholesterol medication, robotic limbs, and many other things, would not have happened without the possibility of big profit, said Grace Marie Turner of the Galen Institute.
"I want companies to come up with cures for Parkinson's, cures for cancer, cures for Alzheimer's. Unless there is a reward for them to do that, we're not going to have those new medicines," she said.
Canada: Pets Fare Better Than Humans
Some of the best, most innovative treatments and most rapidly-delivered care happens through this pursuit of profit. Even in Canada, you'll find one area where they offer easy access to cutting edge technology.
CT scans and MRIs, hip and knee replacements: available 24 hours a day and without a wait.
"If I see a patient that's torn a cruciate ligament in that patient's knee, we can generally have the patient scheduled for within probably a week," said Canadian Dr. Terri Schiller.
But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Schiller is a veterinarian and her practice makes a profit treating cats and dogs. Want a CT scan in Canada? Private veterinary clinics said they can get a dog in the next day. For people, the waiting list is a month.
"Many clients will come here with their pets and as they're leaving, it's, 'Next time, I get sick, I want to come here. I don't want to go to the regular hospitals,'" said Schiller.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Here's part of his discussion:
WASHINGTON -- In ABC News health care Forum, the President answered questions about health care reform.
President Obama struggled to explain today whether his health care reform proposals would force normal Americans to make sacrifices that wealthier, more powerful people -- like the president himself -- wouldn't face.
The probing questions came from two skeptical neurologists during ABC News' special on health care reform, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," anchored from the White House by Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson.
Dr. Orrin Devinsky, a neurologist and researcher at the New York University Langone Medical Center, said that elites often propose health care solutions that limit options for the general public, secure in the knowledge that if they or their loves ones get sick they will be able to afford the best care available, even if it's not provided by insurance.
The president refused to make such a pledge, though he allowed that if "it's my family member, if it's my wife, if it's my children, if it's my grandmother I always want them to get the very best care."
(Thus...although we would have to suffer, people like him won't because they have money or they're "better" or whatever. And this jerk is proposing a system that covers "all Americans". Isn't he one of US? Obviously, he and the elitist government bureaucrats are NOT ONE OF US!)
"There's a whole bunch of care that's being provided that every study, that every bit of evidence that we have indicates may not be making us healthier," he said. (Can you say double-talk here? If it's evidence, then it either is or is not, "may not" is just nonsense. And "whole bunch...do you like those specifics?)
Gibson interjected that often patients don't know what will work until they get every test they can.
"Often times we know what makes sense and what doesn't," the president responded, making a push for evidence-based medicine. (Obviously Obama doesn't know what makes sensse or not!)
Gibson asked the president if it doesn't make sense to decide what the limitations will be on options in any health care reform proposal before voting on it.
"That's what people are afraid of," Gibson said.
The president said he understood the American people "know they're living with the devil, but the devil they know instead of the devil they don't."
(We do know the devil. He lives in the White House and his name is Obama. He's not willing to subject him and his family to the same rules as everybody else, but willing to throw the rest of America under the bus to reach fulfilment of his agendas. Really a nice guy. Thanks to all who voted for this buffoon!)
What people are concerned with is Senior and Terminally Ill euthanasia where the "system" simply decides that it's time for you to go, based on an algorithm of cost versus your worth. Hell, the insurance companies already do that when you reach your maximum insurance value and they pay no more. If you can't afford to carry on treatment you either go home to die or end up in some indigent situation with inadequate care and die anyway. What is so different about the Obama thoughts on this?
The statement was bantered about at some point that in the final years of a persons life they incur 80% of all their medical bills. During this ABC Forum, Obama indicated that some 30% of all Medicare costs are spent in the final year of a person's life. He further indicated that perhaps, surgery might not be the answer where painkillers might be used more wisely where life might not be prolonged.
The point is, do we want bureaucrats making life and death decisions for us? Do we want government funded doctors making those choices, where their pay, and perhaps bonuses, come from how many patients they see off to the graveyard and off the medical system this year? That's not only scary, but a real possibility when the government gets oversight of your records and has it's large hand in your medical care. Doctors selected by the bureaucracy decide that you are too sick/frail/old/costly or whatever and should not have expensive treatment to maintain your life. Thus your treating physician prescribes palliative care and you slowly slip into the sunset. Sound like something out of a cheap television movie? Nope...just another political wrangling to spend your money while using smoke and mirrors showing you how well you're being taken care of.
If anyone wants to take you to the showers for any reason...be very afraid....
Sunday, June 7, 2009
"SACRAMENTO, Calif. – With empty pockets and maxed-out credit, is debating whether it can continue honoring all parts of its social contract with the state's most vulnerable residents.
The state faces an unprecedented drop in tax revenue and a wideningamid the deepest recession in decades, prompting to propose cost-cutting steps that once seemed unthinkable.
At stake are programs for the poor, elderly and frail, placing millions of people in the nation's most populous state at risk of falling through a decades-old.
Ending the welfare-to-work program for mothers and their children would affect some 546,000 families, and health insurance could be eliminated for 1 million children from low-income families. Services for Alzheimer's patients, disabled and other frail recipients of in-home care also would be greatly reduced under the governor's latest budget proposal, leaving more than 400,000 people without such support."
Yet, Schwarzenegger defends spending 4 to 5 billion dollars annually on illegals services, insisting they are not part of California's budget problem. He says it's a "small percentage" of the deficit California faces. HELLO!
If you have a 24.3 billion dollar budget shortfall, then that's 16% to 20% Gov! Then add all the taxes these folks don't pay, and the money they send back to Mexico rather than spend here, and there's lots more money that you lose. Then add in the amount of criminal activity encountered, incarceration cost, cost of police services, emergency services not covered by the above 4 to 5 billion, cost of the Border Patrol and ICE due to the illegals, and, well, you get the picture. I'd bet the cost is double what you postulate it to be. And you say we need them here to work the fields and pick the crops and work construction jobs. How stupid is that? If they were not here, Americans could have the jobs at decent wages, because employers would be forced to pay the true value for the labor they need.
Then, get this quote from the Governor: "You know something, as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy that they can get the services," he said Friday. "Because I would like to have the services if I'm somewhere in another country … if I have an accident with a motorcycle and I go to an emergency room, I don't want someone to say, is he here legally?"
(Obviously, Arnold has no idea about the Form 1011 where ER personnel can't ask about citizenship status. That's how all the illegals get the free ride. How could he not know that if we're spending 4 to 5 billion dollars on "services"! Plus, other countries do not provide "free" services to people who arrive there legally or illegally. You'd better be prepared to pay or have insurance or a credit card. Arnie...if you know of a place that will provide free services...maybe we can deport all the freeloaders to there?)
Arnold, you make me want to vomit. Your pandering and political correctness to play all sides of what appears to be a polygon are sickening to the taxpayers of this state. You've been hanging around the Democrats in Sacramento too long, and your mind is gone. Worse, you're selling our American elders and ill down the drain, to get in bed with those whose votes you're seeking at any cost. You won't get mine, and I hope any one who is smart won't give you, or any other incumbent, theirs either! And Schwarzenegger has the balls to call anyone else a Girly Man?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Many fleets, including federal, state and municipal fleets as well as large privately owned fleets are what is known as self-insured. That means they pay all their own claims on their vehicles. Some file a bond with the states they do business in, others simply show they have the assets to pay any and all claims that result from the use of their vehicles. Others purchase only excess liability insurance, and have what is known as a SIR or Self Insured Retention. That means they retain the first dollar costs of a loss themselves, ranging anywhere from a hundred thousand dollars to millions, and then the insurance policy kicks in to pay anything above that amount.
However, the SIR does not include property damage to the fleet vehicles, only liability, so if a vehicle is in an accident, it gets reported to no one. Minor or repairable damage is covered by the fleet owner, often in their own, or contract, body shops. If the vehicle is severely damaged, has frame damage, or is totaled, it usually is sold as surplus, at auction or placed on bid with other vehicles on an "as is" basis. The purchaser signs an agreement that there is no warranty and the vehicle is purchased "where is, as is." The vehicle can be almost new, as far as miles are concerned. I've seen police vehicles with only a few hundred miles on the odometer totaled in an accident, sold to a bidder and repaired, then end up on eBay and the sellers say nothing about previous damage!
As for clear title, there is absolutely no guarantee a salvage title will be issued on the vehicle, as state laws vary so widely, a vehicle can have a clear title and still have been a total wreck. With a clear CarFax or other report!
Worse yet, pull a CarFax or other report and most times you'll find no mention of any Fleet Use, Governmental Use, or Damage of any kind. Because it's never reported. The report will show the correct information as far as the VIN and perhaps the mileage if the vehicle was required to pass smog at any time, or registration changes, if it was sold and re-registered. But, if it was almost new, and wrecked, you'll likely find nothing other than the description of the vehicle.
Every one of these reports depend upon someone providing truthful, factual reporting, so it's really possible that if you're looking at a vehicle from a private seller, a one-owner or perhaps a second owner vehicle, you actually can get a report that provides good information. But, if you're looking for a vehicle and you suspect something might be more than is contained in any report, simply walk away from the car. Because once you purchase it, you're the one with headaches. Remember that the "lemon laws" don't cover used vehicles, and the old phrase "caveat emptor" or "buyer beware" is more applicable today than ever. Lots of people want to get rid of their vehicles, especially with the down sliding economy, and you don't want to be stuck with a junker. Used vehicle values are down, and dealers don't usually give people anywhere near what their vehicle is worth at trade-in time; worse if they simply want to sell their car outright to a dealer or get out from under a car payment.
Take the vehicle to a mechanic of your choice and have it checked out. A few dollars spent up front beats hundreds or thousands spent later. A good mechanic knows what it takes to get a vehicle in tip-top shape and he'll give you the straight story. An example is a great deal on a car that needed 4 new tires. Sounds like a small item, right? Nope! The exotic tires cost about $400 each and were different sizes for the front and rear. That added almost two thousand dollars to the cost of the vehicle when you include tax, mounting, balancing, and the road hazard warranty (a must with these short-lived jewels!) So the deal wasn't so sweet after all, but the new owner didn't bother checking first.
Finally, if the deal seems too good to be true...it usually is. Like they say, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." It might seem free, but the string is there to reel you in. Happy car shopping!
For great information on used police cars, see the eBay guides by drcop2u.
(A hint: Dealers will usually give you $500 to $1000 "back of book" for your used vehicle if it's in excellent condition. That means if you take the Trade In Value and deduct that much from it, you can get a rough idea of what to expect on a trade-in. But remember, dealers use many different books; Kelly Blue Book, NADA Book and even one called the Black Book (?) And for an unpopular color, make or model, the "back of book" deduction could be more. )
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
As for me, I am a mongrel of sorts. Irish, Scottish, Cornish, (English) French Canadian and Dutch. I'm proud that my paternal grandfather came from Holland. He came here legally at 8 months old in 1879, worked as an insurance salesman, truck driver, laborer and a landscaper. Yes, a landscaper like many Hispanics do today. But he came here through Ellis Island in New York legally! He came to California to follow his dream, and died here in 1941, still working, and without reaching that pinnacle of wealth, the street paved with gold, that most hope for in their life. I never knew my grandfather, but I hope he at least was a happy man and loved and lived life to the fullest possible. At least in his Final rest, he is buried with the movie stars and celebrities in Forest Lawn. It took death to be side by side with them, but he made it.
My paternal grandmother's father was from Cornwall, a place off the English coast that is Gaelic and many people speak the Gaelic language, similar to Ireland. Her mother was all American, the only one whom we can trace roots way back to American soil and the time of the Revolution. My maternal grandmother was a foreigner too, from Nova Scotia, Canada. Her mother was from Scotland. My maternal great grandfather's side of the family was from Ireland.
So, as you can see, although I consider myself an All American, I am composed, as many of us are, of a melting pot of heritage from all over. But, the big difference is that our families came here legally, and worked, paid taxes, built the country, not drained it and didn't look for handouts.
Our forebearers didn't look for some sort of "entitlement" where simply by taking breath they had everything coming to them. Somehow that attitude has pervaded our society, and the government panders to the multitude that holds out their hands in greed rather than gratitude. We have allowed generation after generation of welfare recipients to grow on the backs of taxpayers, where one welfare child has children, and those children have more offspring to be fed, clothed and taken care of by the system, while the "baby daddy" is responsible for nothing. Watching TV, I note there appears no shame for the welfare recipient to announce that the "baby daddy" is in prison for drugs or other criminal activity, or has deserted the mother and child, leaving the taxpayers to foot the bills. And, no, if he's not in jail, she won't admit to who he is anyway, because there is a minuscule chance the authorities might actually find him and cut off some of her welfare!
Then we have the illegals who have multiple children, paid for by the taxpayers, and somehow think this is their "right" to come here and live off someone else. And groups form and tell us these illegal aliens have "civil rights" after they break Federal Law and protest when our law enforcement agencies actually have the audacity to enforce our laws? Go to another country and do something illegal and see who protests for you! See how the foreign authorities there coddle you! Nope, only here do we make laws and then allow people to continually break them with no penalty. And now, the illegal population and their supporters are depending on Obama to help them gain amnesty and citizenship for breaking the law. With his record so far, there's sadly a good chance he'll pander to them and do so.
Is it any wonder why people are so dead set against illegal immigration? Yet more people draining our taxpayer-fed system? Sure, illegals do work that many don't want to do. But if you cut off the supply of illegal labor, and fined and jailed those who take advantage of cheap illegal labor, the jobs would pay more, and would be open for legal workers, regardless of where they're from. People deserve decent wages and living conditions, and living in a cardboard box while working for less than decent wages at some establishment, whose owner knows he's employing illegal labor, is patently wrong, morally, ethically and legally. And if both sides of the immigration issue can't see that, there is something very wrong.
Bring back the day laborer program. Let people enter legally, work, pay taxes, and return home when they want. Make employers pay fair wages, and if they employ labor for more than a day, require they provide adequate housing that is inspected and safe. Allow them to charge a nominal fee for housing and meals and require they provide a safe environment with good sanitation. Close the border tightly to illegal immigration. That would be fair to all, especially the taxpayers who are sick and tired of footing the bills for illegal immigration.
How about it Washington? Are you listening? Or are you more interested in ripping off the taxpayer and bankrupting the country with more bailouts and give-aways this week? Better listen to Bernanke or you'll be broke sooner than later. He's one of the brighter stars on the wilted tree in DC.
For those who thought the Democrats were going to save America, you were sadly deluded. They will sink the country with their free spending, just as they have California. Yes, California has a Republican governor but he has been unable to bridle the run away spending of the Democrat controlled legislature and look at the mess we're in. A state that will again run out of money by July and that held up Tax refunds this year because there was no money to pay them. A state that throws billions at welfare and illegal immigration costs and cuts education and mental health benefits for the most needy.
And, the Democrats in Washington will do the same. Spend every penny they can print and watch while the country sinks so far into debt we'll never get out. Did anyone notice that the personal savings rate went up for the first time in 14 years? That's because people are scared of what's coming, and squirreling away cash as best they can to prepare for the future. When Washington talks about playing with Social Security and Medicare, and is silent on welfare, that speaks volumes about where the administration is coming from. People who earned the money and placed it into a trust with the government will likely get screwed, as those who put zip into anything continue to enjoy a free ride on the taxpayer and the backs of the retired.
What happened to Social Security? Why is it being drained so fast? The government neatly blames all those retiring due to the recession and not enough going into the plan. But what about all the borrowing from the plan that took place over the years? What about the movement of money from and to Social Security that wasn't repaid with adequate interest? Why didn't the government act to increase the Social Security tax gradually over the years to accommodate retirement potentials and only use the money for retirees?
What about the millions or tens of millions of Form 1011 charges for illegal aliens that are charged to Medicare annually to drain a separate portion of the fund? Why should the illegals get free care and then the Americans be told their Medicare is on the verge of collapse? Go to another country illegally and see how good your health care is. Wait, go to another country legally and see if you get free health care. Not only no, but hell, no! Looks like their politicians have more brains than ours do. We're not talking about emergency, absolutely needed care either. We're talking about every little damned thing that you can show up at the ER for. Just be illegal and you're home free. And the taxpayer is paying for it.