Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Your "medical home"

...or "What choice?"

The best common-sense arguments for single-payer health insurance can always be found at Physicians for a National Health Program, especially those articles written by PNHP's Senior Health Policy Fellow Don McCanne, M.D.

You can sign up to receive his latest 'quote-of-the-day' here.

His latest addresses another aspect of much-overhyped "choice" -
It is rare for an individual to be covered indefinitely by the same health plan. Employers often change their plans in an effort to slow the rate of premium increases. Individual employees frequently change when they have a change in employment. Young adults need new coverage when they are dropped from their parent's plans. Since different plans use different lists of authorized providers, an individual may lose coverage of his or her primary care professional.


Why should we want to have a choice of health plans when that will not assure us a stable choice of our physicians? Wouldn't it be much better to switch to single payer national health insurance? Then we could always have choice of our own medical home and stay there for as long as we desire.
"Universal" coverage isn't enough. That coverage has to be affordable, available, and stable.

Having to switch providers at the whim the employer and health insurance company isn't doing anyone any good.

Update: The complete quote by Dr. McCanne is now available here.


Friday, October 26, 2007

I'll believe it when I see it

Josh Marshall reads my mind - "I've told a number of people over the last few days that for all the talk of this evangelical third-party candidacy if Rudy gets the nomination, I'll believe it when I see it."

Haven't we heard that evangelical third-party rumbling before?

More than outlawing abortions, stem cell research, gays, or anything else - they want power. The GOP is the only entity open to them, and for all their blustering about a third party, that's where they'll end up.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doing our part

It's Islamofascist Awareness Week, and here at Collective Sigh World Headquarters we have done our part.

Belated thanks go to TPM; without their coverage I wouldn't have even known about it.

Clicking through a few of the links, I looked for any special events in my area - unfortunately, I got one of those "404 Not Found" errors, which I'm certain is an ominous sign and someone should notify Dick Cheney immediately.

Nevertheless, I celebrated the first day of IAW by having replacement windows installed in this house. No more will our cooled or heated interior temperatures give aid and comfort to the dark forces without!

Equally importantly and in no way clashing with my clothing ensemble like a flag pin, the company we dealt with was 100% anti-Islamofascist.

I know this, because they didn't trick us about the day they were coming. Neither did they prolong the agony and torture of waiting....waiting....waiting for them to show up. They arrived in the All-American Way - on time, as promised.

I think there's something wrong with that last statement, but nevertheless the workmen DID set off some alarm bells in my head when they proved to be well-trained, well-armed with tools and well-prepared.

One sturdy fellow - a Caucasian male, but you never know - held a squirty bottle of 409 cleaner, which he used when the installation was finished to make sure all the vinyl and glass surfaces were spotless.

At least I think it was 409; the jury is still out. If you don't hear from me in several weeks, you might want to let Homeland Security know I've found the WMD.

Best of all, they were done in several hours after installing an excellent quality product and leaving the estate grounds spotless. If you need home improvements in North Carolina, I can most heartily recommend Reece Builders, headquartered in Winston-Salem.

I never checked out their political affiliation. I know, I know - that's the sort of thing we're obligated to do during this important time of year.

But I can take comfort knowing we had to pay a whole lot of money, and if that isn't the True Blue, All-American Way - I don't know what is.

So - what have you done to thwart the Islamofascist terrorists? One thing we can all do is notify our spell checkers to stop underlining "Islamofascist" or at least report the programmers to the FBI.

Hiding under your bed is not an option, not unless you clear out the dust bunnies first and make sure there is plenty of room for your loved ones.

But the best way; indeed, the All-American Way, is to spend money. Do it defiantly and proudly, with a little paranoid glint in your eye.

You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Drug-Resistant Staph Germ's Toll Is Higher Than Thought
A dangerous germ that has been spreading around the country causes more life-threatening infections than public health authorities had thought and is killing more people in the United States each year than the AIDS virus, federal health officials reported yesterday.

Lots of talk these days about the MRSA 'superbug', so I was interested to read the WaPo's "Q&A" with Rob Stein. This one caught my eye:
Hartford, Conn.: Last year my son, a soccer player, was hospitalized with MRSA and a turning point in his treatment came when his doctor persuaded insurance to authorize a $1,000 drug regimen. The name escapes me, but does the report address the cost/benefit aspects of moderate vs. more aggressive treatments?

Rob Stein: This report does not adddress that issue. But doctors tend to treat this very aggressively once it has been diagnosed to minimize the risk of serious complications.
Got that? The boy is still around today and (presumably) healthy because his doctor persuaded insurance to authorize a $1,000 drug regimen.

It may be the understatement of the year, but I'm not comfortable letting 'market-based solutions', 'empowering patients', or 'letting the free market determine health costs' make these decisions.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Randy wards off potential Evil Bed-Makers


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Phony jobs

Living without health insurance is no fun; it's stressful and preys on my mind constantly.

Just as disgusting is this attitude:
"Maybe Dad should drop his woodworking hobby and get a real job that offers health insurance rather than making people like me (also with 4 kids in a 600sf smaller house and tuition $16,000 less per kid and no commercial property ownership) pay for it in my taxes."
Let's leave aside the other falsehoods in that statement for a moment and look at that "real job" business.

I've worked at my 'phony job' for over seventeen years, rarely missing a day. I don't pretend that my church job is crucial to a vibrant economy, but I do like to think I help enhance the membership's spiritual life. There are no benefits associated with the job; no retirement plan, no health insurance.

Mr. Andante's phony job is managing two furniture component factories; when he accepted the job the company had a fairly decent package of benefits, including group health. Within months, the employer decided a benefits package was no longer affordable. His phony employer gave him no choice in the matter.

We were forced to drop health insurance altogether after a couple of years of COBRA, a pricey private policy, and outrageous premium hikes. We were this close to bankruptcy and are still clawing our way out.

Should either or both of us quit our phony jobs and get "real" jobs that offer health insurance? Maybe, maybe not. I know plenty of people stuck in jobs they hate who won't switch for fear of losing insurance.

Dragging yourself to a hateful job every day makes life pretty miserable. I guess the best you could say is that at least you have the insurance to help with anti-depressants, high blood pressure, and so on.

When Mr. Andante's benefits were dropped, my mother exclaimed "I thought people without health insurance were just too lazy to work!".

Even though her mind is slowly deteriorating with Alzheimer's she knows better now. What would be the mouthbreather's excuse?

Another otherwise intelligent person has told me I should "get a steady job" (knowing full well I've been a steady employee at the same place for a long time). This particular person has a government job and thinks her excellent benefits will never cease. We didn't think ours would, either.

The plain, uncomfortable fact is that more and more employers are dropping group health, more and more employees are being asked to shoulder the burden, and more and more health insurance companies are raking in more and more profit.

I hate to wish hardship on anyone, but until more people with 'real jobs' feel the pinch there's not likely to be a huge outpouring of outrage.

If the Democratic presidential candidates have any sense-of-the-issue whatsoever, they should all immediately pledge to do as John Edwards has suggested:
"To show Congress just how serious I am, on the first day of my administration, I will submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress, and all senior political appointees in both branches of government on July 20th, 2009 - unless we have passed universal health care reform," Edwards said in a speech to the Laborers Leadership Convention.
Edwards gets it. Cut off benefits to congress and universal coverage would flow like milk and honey.



Sunday, October 07, 2007

President George W. Bush defended his decision to veto an expansion of a children's health insurance program, calling the proposal ``an incremental step'' toward government-controlled health care for everyone.
New rule: The president, vice-president, all members of the administration and all political appointees will no longer receive taxpayer-funded, 'government-controlled' health care. They must pay for it out of their own pockets or search for their own private insurance policies.

Perhaps some kind soul would explain to me exactly who is calling for 'government-controlled health care".

In fact, the only people in the country sounding warning bells about 'government-controlled health care' are the Bushies, Republicans, and other assorted conservative or libertarian types.

When we're talking single-payer, universal insurance, I'm not aware of anyone advocating 'government-controlled health care.

What we want is the same thing every other industrialized country on the planet has - government-controlled health insurance.

There's a distinction here....not a fine distinction, but a big, hairy, humongous broad distinction.

Instead of premiums to for-profit-and-lots-of-it insurance companies, you pay a premium by way of a tax to the government. When you need a doctor, you go to the physician or facility of your choice.

The insurance is government-controlled; the care is controlled by health practitioners and the patient.

I'm sure the anti-health care choice, 'government-controlled health care' screamers get the distinction. Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but it's similar to the old magician's trick - distract the eye over here while the action is over there.

It's a little ironic coming from these guys, as George Bush is the beneficiary of possibly the finest, free government-controlled health care on the planet.

Nor do I imagine Dick Cheney has to await insurance company approval when they have to jump-start what passes for his heart.

And here's a new wrinkle in the crisis. I haven't run into this one yet, but no doubt we all will eventually.

David Lazarus of the LA Times was recently diagnosed with Type I diabetes, giving him further reason to worry about the health insurance crisis.
Dr. B was great -- knowledgeable, sensitive, empathetic. Problem was, Dr. B didn't take insurance.

Excuse me? I said.

Dr. B explained that it just wasn't cost-effective for him to seek reimbursement from insurance companies. It was too much hassle, he said, and he didn't get paid enough for his efforts. Dr. B said an increasing number of doctors were cutting ties with insurers for the same reasons.

If I wanted to see him at his private practice, which was most convenient to my home, each visit could cost me hundreds of dollars -- not the most appealing prospect when one's facing a chronic disease.

Dr. B said I could try to deal with insurance reimbursements on my own, but that's the last headache I wanted to inflict on myself at this point.
Isn't there a saying - 'as goes California, so goes the rest of the nations?'

You hate to think things have to get worse before getting better, but doctors refusing to accept anything but cash might just do it.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Music stuff

A kind friend gifted me with the new Paul Potts CD (One Chance) and I've spent some pleasant time today enjoying the young man's success and talent.

Paul Potts is the young man who won the 2007 Britain's Got Talent competetion (think 'American Idol'), entrancing even Simon Cowell. It's an inspiring story (read it here and by all means give his performance a look here), and I wish him luck.

Some good stuff on the CD, and I enjoyed it.

But it made me long for the sweet voice of the Maestro and reminded me I needed to do something to memorialize a man who has inspired and moved me for many years.

Luciano Pavarotti's death left a hole in the world's soul, but thankfully we have recordings and videos by which to remember him.

From 1980 (as a young man at the height of his effortless, soaring power), with Zubin Mehta and the NY Philharmonic....

I miss you, Maestro.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Anything for a buck

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the Old North State:

You’re marketing my leg!

Shorter version:

Man loses leg in accident.

Man stores leg, for 'religious reasons' in a BBQ smoker (don't ask - I have no clue why).

Man places smoker in storage facility.

Man cannot pay storage fees - property put up for auction.

Second man buys BBQ smoker, finds leg.

Second man charges adults $3 and children $1 to look at leg.

With Halloween coming, prices will go up!

Original, one-legged man wants a piece of the action.

I'm not making this up.

You go, girl

Eugene Robinson calls it like it is:
"Thomas is only 59; we'll be saddled with him, and that gigantic chip on his shoulder, for decades to come."
And former Clarence Thomas classmate Robert Reich chimes in.
After graduating, he led an undistinguished legal career. Under Reagan, he ran the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission without interest or vigor, and was tapped by George H.W. Bush for the Supreme Court only because he was a black conservative. Since then, Thomas has spoken rarely from the bench, asked few questions of lawyers appearing before the Court, and has issued opinions often lacking clarity or coherence. By contrast, Anita Hill has had a distinguished career as a lawyer and legal scholar, teaching and publishing on issues ranging from legal contracts to discrimination. She was my colleague on the faculty of Brandeis, and I know few people with more integrity. There’s not the slightest doubt in my mind that she told the precise truth at Thomas’s confirmation hearing, about the lurid sexual comments and advances he made to her. In my view, he was unqualified then to be a Supreme Court justice, and America is much the worse for the ease by which the Senate was intimidated into confirming him by his claim of being subjected to a “high-tech lynching.”
Thomas has got it made for life. He should say as little as possible about anything and enjoy the fruits of affirmative action and right-wing welfare.


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