Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Tag: health care (page 1 of 2)

Defending Hillary

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Hillary Clinton at the beginning of this election.  I was a Bernie supporter.  Hillary was too far to the right, too moderate for my liking.  Plus, she came with the baggage of more than twenty years in the spotlight.  I saw how the right wing and the press treated her when she was first lady.  They certainly weren’t much better when she was Secretary of State.  Thinking that this would improve when she became President is just foolish.

But, then, I started thinking about why Hillary Clinton was so detested.  She has been portrayed in the media as being scheming, conniving, too ambitious, out for herself, and, in extreme cases, evil.  Why has this woman who has worked in some form of public office most of her life been treated this way?

Because it sells papers.  Here is my Facebook response to someone who repeatedly writes on my posts how evil and abhorrent Hillary is:

Based on what? She’s never been arrested. She’s never been charged with a crime. She isn’t out killing kittens in the middle of the night. She has been branded as an evil woman by a media who wants to sell papers and make ratings since she was first lady. They did the same thing to Nancy Reagan. The difference is that Mrs. Reagan didn’t have any political ambitions beyond being Ronnie’s wife. Secretary Clinton has always had political ambitions and she pays the price for it with constant investigations into everything she does. Quite frankly, I’m tired of the biased and unfounded allegations against her. I agree with her politically 92% of the time. I am going to vote for her. I am not going to tell my grandsons that the country sucks because your Nana cast a vote that allowed in a spoiled, rich,racist,warmongering boy to ascend to the Presidency. I am not going to write in Bernie Sanders, because he has thrown himself behind Secretary Clinton for President. If she is really that evil that she has gotten away with horrible things all these years, frankly, that’s the President I want – someone who can get things done.

Obviously, this didn’t change this person’s mind. Sadly, the perception of Clinton is abhorrent.  In this day and age, you can’t change people’s minds.  Sometimes the opposite is true.  The more you insist that something isn’t true, the more the person making the statement will cling to their belief.

Is this a new phenomenon?  No, we have been making judgement calls on people throughout history.  Mary Todd Lincoln was despised for spending what Americans considered a wasteful amount on refurnishing the White House.  Jackie Kennedy was looked down upon for the same, until she charmed the public and the press.  There have been 9 different First Ladies in my lifetime.  All but Barbara Bush were trounced in the press.  Nancy Reagan was considered out of touch.  Pat Nixon was too quiet, etc.  The nation went nuts when Mrs. Obama put in a garden and bared her arms.  We are a nation of people who do not want our First Ladies to be strong women, which is interesting because the only way a woman could survive being the wife of a President is to be a strong willed woman.  Just like it isn’t easy for a man to walk a step behind his woman, the same can be said for the woman walking a step behind her man.

It’s time for us to come around and judge Hillary on her own basis.  She isn’t an ignorant woman.  She went to law school.  She grew up, as I did, in a Middle Class Household.  That doesn’t make her out of touch with the rest of us.  Are there things in pop culture she might not know?  Absolutely, it’s the same for me.  She was a successful Senator and, then, the Secretary of State.  If you want to agree with her politically, that’s one thing, but this perception that she’s somehow evil is ridiculous.  I wouldn’t even say that about Donald Trump.  Evil is Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and their irk.

Judge her on the statements she actually makes and the actions she has or does take – don’t rely on an inaccurate media telling you how to feel.   As I mentioned yesterday, the media has it’s own bias.

Blessings

Medical Marijuana

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has announced that he has changed his mind regarding medical marijuana.  After years of being against medical marijuana, he is now for it.  However; some people do not like this idea.  According to a USA Today article, “Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse,” isn’t thrilled about this.  She believes that legalizing another drug would be harmful to society, because “If you look at the data, the costs associated with drugs in our country, which are gigantic, are driven mostly by legal drugs because they’re so accessible.”

I think she’s a little off base.  The costs of drugs in this country are “gigantic” to use her word, but it isn’t because “they’re so accessible”.  Now, I don’t know Nora Volkow, but totally based on her statement, I’m thinking she didn’t pay attention in economic classes.  More accessibility means less cost, not more.  Drug costs are up because of the drug manufacturers, not because of their accessibility.

Manufacturing and development of new drugs and patent protection laws are two of the major factors that influence drug spending. Drug manufacturers increase drugs costs to try to recoup the often significant outlays in research and development costs for drugs that make it to the market as well as those that do not enter the marketplace.

Kaiser Family Foundation
Prescription Drug Costs

With no offense to Dr. Volkow, she is coming at this idea from the side of drug addiction. She’s worried about the next person who becomes addicted. I understand that, but the idea of medical marijuana isn’t to cure an addiction. There are serious medical conditions that can be helped by medical marijuana and I believe that this outweighs any harmful affect there might be in society.

Affordable Care Act

I think President Obama was wrong to hold off enacting the Affordable Care Act for another year. I think the past three years have been long enough for people to wait for health insurance.

Last year was a great year for my employment, but a bad year for hospital bills. I was working for a contract company and my expensive health insurance didn’t cover an emergency room visit. According to them, I went over my coverage. Go figure – I was supposed to have $15,000 worth of coverage. Instead, I was socked with the full visit price and was handed a $4,000 bill.

But wait, there’s more.

When I switched from one contract position to another contract position, I changed insurance companies. On March 5, I fell and sliced my right knee from one side to the other. It turns out I didn’t have any insurance – due to no fault of mine – and there went another $2,000 bill.

I can’t imagine what would happen to someone who doesn’t have the earning potential that I have. I’ll be able to pay these two bills off in due time, but what about the family who can’t? Our health care costs are rising at an alarming rate and families end up losing their homes to medical bills.

When one family loses, we all lose. If a hospital doesn’t collect what it is due, then it doesn’t make any money – no money, no health care. It’s a sad fact of life.

Putting off the Affordable Care Act for another year isn’t going to help. The Republican Party wasting millions of our dollars to try to repeal more than 39 times is ridiculous. People need to be insured and this is a way to do it and we just might save some money in the long run.

Fact Check and Insurance Rebates

I’m going to start this by saying that I trust FactCheck.org.  It is at the top of my list of places to check when I receive emails where I’m not believing or I doubt what I’m seeing.  What I like about Fact Check is that I don’t always agree with them.  I am human and I don’t like it when facts mean I have to reconfigure my beliefs.  You can make this statement about a lot of humans – you know who you are.  People do not like to be proven wrong and they especially don’t like being proven wrong with numbers and facts.  Anyway, if they agreed with me 100% of the time, I would think they are biased and if they disagreed with me 100% of the time, I would believe that they were biased.

Anyway, Fact Check recently wrote an article about President Obama’s July 18th speech touting the savings of the Affordable Care Act (which is more commonly known as Obamacare).  Fact Check called the article “Obama Overhypes Health Savings“.  I’m not going to disagree with Fact Check that President Obama made the health savings sound wonderful, he did.  Unfortunately, his hype is needed to overshadow the hype on the other side, which claims no savings and total financial ruin for all if we continue on the Affordable Care Act path.  I just think Fact Check is overhyping the overhyping.

Case in point the following quote from President Obama

Last year, millions of Americans opened letters from their insurance companies — but instead of the usual dread that comes from getting a bill — (laughter) — they were pleasantly surprised with a check. In 2012, 13 million rebates went out, in all 50 states. Another 8.5 [million] rebates are being sent out this summer, averaging around 100 bucks each.

Fact Check takes issue with this because ” The average rebate is about $100 per family — not per person. It’s not 8.5 million rebates “averaging around 100 bucks each,” as the president said. Instead, it’s 8.5 million consumers who will benefit, with an average rebate of $100 per family.”

I’m not really sure what the issue is here.  Fact Check admits that the rebates average $100 each.  When millions of Americans open the letters, I’m sure that the letter opener most likely be either the male or female head of a family.  I’m sure that the rebates for single people will be less than the rebates for families.  No, President Obama didn’t say millions of American families opened letters, but I don’t think what he did say was too much hype.  — This is a matter of opinion, not an actual fact.

The fact is that millions of rebates will be sent out this summer and that the average of these rebates is around $100.

But wait…there’s more!

Fact Check, also, takes issue with the fact that President Obama didn’t mention that a lot of these rebates are going to businesses.  In fact they say just that:  “But the more glaring omission is an acknowledgment that a lot of this money goes to businesses, not individuals.”  I don’t see the problem in this, either.  Even if the employer gets the rebate, it has to be used to benefit the employee.  In fact, Fact Check even quotes the  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as saying such, ” if you bought your insurance through your employer, your employer must use the rebate for your benefit.”  I don’t really understand their problem with the hype in this case.

I think the main point in all of this is that the Affordable Care Act is to some extent causing people and businesses to save money on their health care insurance premiums.  Second to this is that it didn’t cause premiums to go up, as the opposition claimed it would.

 

Obamacare and unAmerican Companies

Here’s a quick, yet truthful thought.  Every large company that is announcing cutting employees’ hours to avoid paying healthcare for them isn’t a company that should be held up in esteem.  It is a company who should be avoided as much as possible and derided for being unAmerican.

It is time the profit hogging corporate types and Wall Street bozos start taking care of business and the American Worker.  You break your back for forty years, do you get a pension?  Hell no, you probably don’t even get a watch.  You get a 401K that isn’t worth shit if the banks and Wall Street screw with the economoy, like they did in the run up to the crash of 2008.

Our health care system needs  a lot of changes.  We spend more than nearly every other developed country and, yet, we’re sicker than ever.  Part of this is that we don’t take care of ourselves and part of it is that companies don’t take care of employees.

I have healthcare.  I happen to have a skill set that will remain in demand probably until the day I die and beyond.  I am blessed because of this.  Many people – in fact, the majority of people – are not blest as I am.  I will not have to worry about health care, because I’ll never have to work for a company that doesn’t offer it.  Even when I worked as a contractor, because of my earning power and salary, I was offered health care paid for by the company – that doesn’t happen often in contracting jobs.

Don’t blame President Obama for forcing companies to do what they should’ve been doing all along.  The CEO has health care.  The President of the company has health care.  So should the workers on the floor who actually perform the duties that keep the company going.

The Republicans don’t understand this.

Fox News doesn’t understand this.

The people in the red states don’t understand this.

We do the work, we should reap the benefits.  The guy on top – he didn’t dig that ditch, put that car together, bake that pizza – the guy on top is receiving the big salary made possible by YOUR hard work.

Don’t forget that.

Affordable Care Act & Scott Walker

Fact:  By 2014, all 50 states have to have their health care exchanges up and running.  If they don’t, the Federal Government will step in and take control.

Fact: By 1/1/2013, all 50 states have to have a plan in place on just how they’re going to create these exchanges.

Fact: Scott Walker doesn’t like Federal Government Control and yet, he is putting off beginning the work on the exchanges until after the November election.  He’s probably thinking that Romney will win and he’ll never have to put it in place.

Opinion: Scott Walker is a dofus who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.  It’s too bad the man kept his throne in the Wisconsin State House, because he’s going to screw us like he is the Marquis De Sade.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek (August 13 – 26, 2012),  “only 18 states had even started putting in place the …health benefit exchanges.”  That’s one eight, people.  One of those states is Wisconsin.  The article states: “The Republican governors of six states are simply refusing to create the exchanges…”  And, our Governor is one of them.

Apparently, Scott Walker wants to wait until the outcome of the November election (see article here) to act on creating an exchange.  He also ” turned down $38 million in federal money that could have gone to implementing the federal health care law in Wisconsin.”

Does he even have a clue about what setting up a health exchange will entail?  First, you need an interface that end users (that’s us) can interact with to pick out the insurance, actually, that would be second.  First, you need the list of insurance companies, plans and rates that will be sold.  Then, an end user interface.  Then, you need for this software, database, etc. to interact with Medicare and Medicaid.  You need an interface for the insurance companies.  You need an interface for the government employees that will have to assist people signing up for insurance.  You need all of this to speak to the Federal Government’s computers.

And, you need money to create it, run it and maintain it.  So you really shouldn’t turn down $38 million from the Federal Government earmarked to help you do just that.

You need Business Analysts who can talk with all the parties to see how this can be put together – that can’t be done in a day.

And, Walker thinks he can wait until after November to do it.

The man is doesn’t understand the value of making it easier for people to purchase insurance.  And, he doesn’t understand the value of getting this project off the ground.  He doesn’t see the big picture.

Our state is still losing jobs and Scott Walker wants to put this off as long as he can.  Let me explain the big picture:

Setting up a healthcare exchange requires (at the very least) the following:

1. Business Analysts

2. Project Managers

3. Quality Assurance Testers

4. Database Administrators

5. Data Analysts

6.  Web Designers

7. Network Engineers

8. Web Services Programmers

9. Computer Programmers

10. Managers

11. Administrative Assistants

12. Technical Writers

When your state leads the nation in job losses, a project like this can put a lot of people to work, which in turn creates demand in the economy.  Think about it, when one person is working their money (i.e., wages) spreads through their community.  They pay their rent or mortgage – rent is better, as the money goes to a landlord, who then spreads it out.  But, a mortgage payment means a bank has money to lend (in a very simplistic view).  They purchase gas at their local station.  They buy groceries at their local market.  They take their family out to dinner.  They purchase new clothes and, this is personal, they purchase new programming books.  (I’ve never started a new project without purchasing a book.)  $10 here, $20 over there and pretty soon demand is up again.

But, Scott Walker is sitting on his hands, ignoring the Federal Government Mandate and hoping it just goes away.  He has to have the plan in place by January 1,2013.  Walker’s hoping that 1/20/2013 will bring in a new President and he won’t have to follow the law.  Romney’s not going to win, our country can’t be that full of stupid people.  But, even if he does win, the Affordable Care Act won’t disappear that face and Scott Walker will be breaking the law.  Oh – one more little item – Walker proclaims that he doesn’t want Federal Government interference, but the Feds will take this over if he doesn’t comply.  Why would you want to give up control of something so momentousness?  Could it be that Scott Walker is out of his realm?  That he cannot get this job done, because he is an uneducated man who doesn’t know how to run a project?

Thanks, Governor Walker.  I cannot tell you how much I hang my head in shame that my fellow Wisconsinites voted for you not once, but twice.  God help us all.

 

Politics as Usual

I posted the picture from my blog about corporate taxes on Facebook.  I, then, shared a lot of feel good pictures.  Not so amazingly, the feel good pictures went on to be shared by my friends, while the picture of the widening gap between  Corporate taxes and Individual taxes went pretty much ignored.

I’ve created another picture and I hope that it gets passed around.

Moving on…

Included in the sad state of affairs, I posted on Twitter the following:

Republican: One who doesn’t want the government mandating that citizens buy health insurance, but sees no problem in deciding who can marry.

This posted to my Facebook account, as the two are linked. In response, I received this:

Democrat: one who does not care who or what you marry. As long as you are distracted enough for them to steal all your money and give it to someone who didn’t earn it.

Sad, isn’t it?

The idea that being a Democrat means you want to steal someone else’s money and give it away is the fallacy that the Republican Party promotes.  They’ve called earned programs, such as Social Security, entitlements.  They have distorted the Affordable Health Care Act so much that people don’t recognize the good things within it – such as mandating that health insurance companies spend at least 85% of premiums on health care and eliminating the pre-existing conditions.

 

U.S. Constitution and the Individual Mandate…

Oh, come on, the Republicans are getting a bit ridiculous!

I’m reading this story on Huffington Post about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Individual Mandate in the Health care law.  The article supports the notion that there are a lot of things the government mandates that everyone must do.  The example used is Medicare.  If you work, you pay into Medicare – you have no choice.

But, here’s what really got to me:  Mark Hayes – “former chief health counsel for the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee” states:

“Congress used more clearly defined constitutional powers when it created Medicare. “The power to tax and the power to spend…” “‘Here, with the individual mandate, it’s a different question – regulating interstate commerce. This is a novel question from a legal standpoint.'”

How is that novel?  Article I Section 8 Clause 3 states:

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;”

Novel question? Um, I don’t think so. The word Novel, when used as an adjective and not as a noun means:

  1. new and not resembling something formerly known or used
  2. original or striking especially in conception or style

Um, if the Commerce Clause has existed in the Constitution since the beginning, how is Congress being able to use it now a “Novel” question?

I’m just wondering.

Health Insurance and Big Brother

Let’s discuss Health Insurance.  Health insurance companies are not in business to take care of you.  They are not in business to make sure that you receive all of the health care you need.  They are in business to make money.  Publicly traded health insurance companies need to make money for their stockholders, too.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you really have much of a say in your health care, either.  It’s a myth.  Oh, sure, you can pick your doctor, but he or she will pretty much only provide medical care covered by your health insurance.  If they want to do an expensive test, pretty much they need a health insurance company’s permission to run it.  Want that new expensive drug?  Either pay for it out of your own pocket or hope that your health insurance prescription plan will cover it.

Arguments against Obama’s Health care plan were mostly either: I don’t want the government controlling my health care or I don’t want mandatory insurance.  I believe I’ve previously discussed the latter of the two.  Basically, I support mandatory insurance.  It helps all of us.  If everyone is covered, then none of us have to pay for someone who received care without payment. In addition, without mandatory insurance, you can’t have a law that prevents insurance companies from rejecting people for pre-existing conditions without making health insurance mandatory.

I understand the idea that government control over something is scary.  Oh, big brother is watching you.  The government is watching you.

It’s a joke.

We don’t want the government to put up intersection cameras, but we shop in stores where – with few exceptions – we’re videotaped.

We don’t want the government to negotiate the price for health insurance, but we turn over our choices to our employers.  If you’re employed and you have insurance, you did not make the choice regarding anything about the insurance.  If your employer is self-insured, as many are today, you’re really not making any choices at all.

Yes, most employers have two tiers of plans, so you make a choice there.  Yes, you’re making to take your employer’s coverage, but that’s pretty much it.

What’s covered, what’s not, in network doctors – none of that is your choice.

To honestly believe that you have a serious choice in your health care and it is all between you and your doctor – if this is the reason you’re against Obamacare – you’re just fooling yourself.  The treatment you receive is all about the deal between your doctor and your insurance company.

Florida Court Health Care Ruling

Once again, Florida has managed to screw the entire country.  A Federal judge in Florida has ruled that the Health Care Law is unconstitutional, particularly the part about the mandatory coverage.  I don’t recall anything in the Constitution that states our Federal government cannot make Health Care a mandatory item.  In fact, our Constitution gives Congress the right to regulate commerce over state lines and internationally.  Insurance companies certainly work across state lines and now with globalization, I feel safe in saying that they work across international lines as well.

It is probably a safe bet that when the US Supreme Court eventually hears this case (after all of the appeals), they will most likely rule the way of Florida.  After all, these are the same people who ruled that Corporations are people and should have the same rights and privileges as we do.

I don’t believe that the Health Care law is unconstitutional.  I don’t believe that making insurance mandatory is anything more than common sense – something we’ve been lacking in this country for years.  By making it mandatory, you do two things: 1) You lower the price of everyone’s premiums.  The more people on an insurance plan, the less money paid per premium.  2) You protect the insurance companies.  Yes, I said protect the insurance companies.  I know plenty of people who wouldn’t buy insurance and then, when their seriously ill, run right out and purchase an insurance plan knowing that the insurance companies cannot turn them down because of a pre-existing condition.  Of course, with this ruling, that flies out the window.

I hope the small-minded and short-sighted states that brought this challenge into the Florida courts are satisfied.  They’ve, most likely, effectively killed Health Care in this country for a very long time.  There’s 45 million people who will not be able to have health care.  There’s millions of college kids who will not be able to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.  And, now, my pre-existing condition won’t be covered.

Thanks for nothing.

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