Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I'm not the one to fix health care

Yeppo, health care needs to be fixed.

Somewhere along the line, I'm convinced we're going to have to take a leap of faith. And hope those dealing the cards are smarter than the average bear. My dilemma is when and where to jump.

I need more when told a public option will force competition among health care providers. Perhaps that would be enough if we were talking simple one-on-one competition. But I know enough (some say to be dangerous) to know it's not that simple.

The corporation my husband lately retired from provides some health care (I won't say all, we pay our part, a part that is dramatically rising BTW) for more than 30,000 employees and I don't know how many retirees.

The corporation offers a handful of health care plans, each by a different insurance company. However, the corporation is actually self insured, meaning, simplistically, that the health care providers really only administrate. The company pays the bills.

That's the extent of my understanding. I'm sure it's a lot more complicated than that. But even knowing that much tells me that simple competition between insurance companies is not, well, simple. At least in this case, the insurance company is only the middle man. Here, apparently, the public option is competing with the profits of not only the insurance company, but the underlying corporation's pockets.

Here's hoping all I've been hearing about solutions is purposefully being dumbed down for my benefit.

I apologize for all the cliches. They're the haven of a struggling mind, doncha know.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pop Goes the (tort reform) Weasel?

Tort reform has been flicked around frequently as one part of the solution(s) to rising health care costs.

I’m not sure many are thinking past knee jerk reactions. Again.

As a former reporter with many of those years covering primarily state and federal civil courts, there are some givens when it comes to medical malpractice suits.

  • A percentage of medmal suits are iffy at best, purely frivolous at worst. Filed by those looking for a fast buck.
  • Medical malpractice insurance companies, in a vast majority of those cases, settle both good and bad suits mostly on a cost to defend vs. cost of possible large damage awards, rather than merits of cases. Defense lawyers and trial costs are astronomical. Even more so than those of plaintiffs’ attorneys, if you discount the percentage of awards the latter take. And the defense costs sometimes outclass in fee structure even with plaintiffs’ attorney percentages counted. Those above, especially share holders, looking for a large, fast buck. Get the picture?

If tort reform becomes more prevalent than it already is, say tort damages limited by federal laws rather than a handful of states, there could be a yet-to-be voiced cause and effect.

Fit the above points with a cap on damages. The logical next step in this bottom-line-is-all scenario is:

  • Medical malpractce insurance companies, faced with known caps on damage awards will settle even more cases without looking at merits.
  • Plaintiffs’ attorneys (especially the infomercial buying, unscrupulous kind) will quickly read the writing on the wall. Leading to:
  • Even more iffy and frivolous medmal suits will clog insurance defense attorneys’ case loads and, in many cases, court filing desks.
  • Those cases will then be settled by bottom line insurance companies on their defense costs vs. settlement calculations.

“Round and round the cobbler’s bench, the monkey chased the weasel…”

Bet your bottom dollar medical malpractice insurance costs will not go down. And neither will medical care (read: healthcare) costs.

Simple, knee jerk reactions seldom solve long term problems, do they?

Second chorus:

We haven't even begun to discuss those truly wronged by the medical community, who deserve and need large awards, wrongs and injuries caused by medical professionals, some of whom make mistakes because they are overworked and underpaid by insurance companies and share holders looking for the large, fast buck....

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Yeppo, more than a year between entries. Not too bad. You can see where I left off, mid campaign. All the spin made my normal state, psychotropic drug dizzy, so much more so to be intolerable. And blogging became too much like work, my past work, my abandoned occupation or forced retirement depending on which side of the horseshoe desk you're on.

I've preferred Twitter. More like hit and run opining. See it, vent it, go back to ironing linens like it never smashed through my life. Past editors who pulled their hair out and turned the air blue over my need to push deadlines and story length would find it laughable that I can fit a thought into 140 characters. Even with my tendency toward triple tweeting.

To the point, I felt the need for a transition. Between then and now. Today it occurred to me that those points and problems of last June seem small compared to the present. I've heard it said clinical depression is less among the poverty stricken. Not strictly because they can't afford a clinic to be diagnosed in, but because in their survival mode of trying to buy food, pay bills, clothe children, they just don't have time.

Well, it seems there is less time in a lot of our lives lately. I can't decide whether real angst, over how to get through next month, heightens or trumps the virtual panic caused by brain chemicals that don't pay attention to rising unemployment and an IRA that doesn't appear will provide enough to live long term. I figure that one will sort itself out when we finally do crash and I can't afford those numbing drugs anymore. Or things pick up and the environmentally caused anxiety lessens.

Either way, this ain't Kansas, Dorothy.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Act in haste, regret...

Excuse me if I'm dense, but isn't counting super delegates before the convention on-point to polling a jury mid deliberation?

I know the media wants it over, I know Obama wants it over. However, in 12 years of covering trials, both criminal and civil, I've known lots of prosecutors, and sometimes defendants, who wanted cases decided prematurely. And some of them would have been a lot better off if they had.

Wasn't the super delegate system set up to act only if there was a change of direction between the last primary and the convention? Or to act as a jury in a deadlocked tie after each candidate presented his or her entire case?

Are Democrats forgetting a rush to judgment that cost Al Gore that big desk in the oval office? Maybe then he could have prevented "decider" from entering our vocabularies.

The media wants us to think the super delegates are just another voting block. They also want us to think those who say they have committed to either candidate (Obama) not long ago said the same about Clinton. Many super delegates want us to believe they are the "deciders." Gives them more cache. And higher profiles.

I seem to be beating on "the media" incessantly. But they seem to have forgotten their mission is to report the news. Yes, that most times involves interpreting. But not to the point of distortion.

My tolerance level for bullshit and being patronized gets lower everyday.

Hubris and Manipulations

Sunday morning talking heads. To a person, host and guest, all are too enamored of the process, not the meat. Hubris abounds. Obvious questions go unasked and unanswered. No news there.

I'm sickened and glad I deal antique linens now instead of running with the media pack dogs.
In the mode of pointing out the obvious:

All morning, Obama's team has been dismissing popular vote counts. It's about the delegates, they profess. So why does Obama's team and media like CNN and NewYork Times, put my home state, Missouri in the Obama win column?
Obama won the popular vote here 49 percent to 48 percent. But in delegates, it's a tie ~ 41 Clinton, 41 Obama.

Perhaps it's a small thing. But it's the small things that have twisted this Democratic primary season into a knot.

And it looks like all those poor voters in Michigan and Florida who dragged themselves to the polls at daylight before work, or stood in lines after, or dragged kids with them in the afternoon, or aided by walkers painfully made their way to the booths and had no say about nonsensical "rules" that they had no place in making...well, half of them could have stayed home.

It's clearer everyday that, just as the large corporations are running the country, a handful of power-hungry politicos, not voters, are deciding this election.

Seems like Nixon's silent majority has turned into the ignored majority.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Second OOT award this week

Rep. Davis: A spade is not just a spade

I'm so enraged, my 55-year-old butt spent time in my chair blogging instead of still curled on the couch drinking coffee and smoking my fifth morning cigarette.

This morning, on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Barack Obama chief supporters Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala) and Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) were facing off against Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, (D-TX), Hillary Clinton chief supporters.

Davis, allegedly and by all indications black, said we should all "call a spade a spade."

Yes, he most likely meant we should accept the obvious. It's what the phrase means. At least to dyed in the wool racists.

Ironically, Davis was discussing racism in the party. He touted the Clintons as "pioneers in the American South" on civil rights but said with their [in my mind misconstrued] racial attacks were "eroding their own legacy. " And his legacy and understanding of his racial history? It's where?

Hmm. Does Davis refer to his constituents by the N word? Or spooks? Do those words and their hateful implications register? Yeah, I know those words like I know bitch and cunt. And wish I didn't.

It's not an obscure phrase, as many racist idioms go. If nothing else, said dear husband, doesn't he remember the scene in 1968s Bye, Bye Blackbird , a George Segal-starring spoof of The Maltese Falcon? Segal sitting in a room of men, his name [Spade] called and all the black guys stand up.

Guess the Obama campaign is as out of touch with the black community as it is with working class whites. As an aside, that's from our OOT media hype. There are truly anti-racist whites and working class blacks.

If the words had come from Hillary or Bill's mouth -- don't think so-- or one of her chief supporters, she'd be vilified, possibly stoned. And, even an ardent Hillary supporter as I am, I'd have thrown like Bob Gibson on a streak.

The present out-of-touch award goes to Davis. Sorry Williams. Infamy is fleeting.

Shame, shame, shame Davis.

For those of you who want to get into the etymological argument of the meaning of the phrase back 700 years, the contemporary usage of it at least for most of the last century has been as an ethnic slur. You might want to pick up a copy of Wolfgang Mieder's Call a Spade a Spade: From Classical Phrase to Racial Slur : A Case Study.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This week's out-of-touch award

Brian Williams on NBC evening news tonight, did his "our favorite story" on a new AT&T policy.
With evident mirth, he reported that the cell phone giant will be levying a $2 fee for payments in person ~ charging for a customer service agent to take the payment.

Evidently no one of the high paid news crew or anchors gave a thought to who pays in person, and usually with cash.

Duh, poor people. People without a checking account (or one that is so low that checks clearing can be a crap shoot), and/or with no credit card.

Guess it never crossed his mind poor people need to reach out an touch someone. Cell phones can be cheaper than land lines and there is the added benefit that collection agencies that already plague a lot of these people's lives can't easily get the numbers. Yet anyway.

Adding another $2 charge to these people's swiftly depleting resources is criminal, not comedy relief for an evening newscast.

Shame, shame Williams.

More shameful is we rely on the fourth estate to be credible, rely on Williams and the rest of NBCs news staff to tell us whether Obama is really out of touch. And their basis for judging that is what?