Tag Archives: Congress

When Did Americans Lose Their Balls?

Like other seminal moments in history, most remember where they were when the first passenger jet hit the twin towers. Other turning points are just as significant, even if they aren’t marked by a single catastrophe.

 Last night, Congressman Wilson’s ‘liar’ assertion and the aftermath which ensued, prompted, once again, the question: when exactly did Americans lose their balls? It wasn’t Obama’s speech, or even the President himself spurring the eye-rolling; it was a congressman’s response to his own outburst and the reactions of his fellow republicans.

 “You lie.”

 Ok. Perhaps that wasn’t the place to call out the POTUS, however, the congressman’s initial reaction was, in fact, the correct one. It’s a fact that the House has refused to adopt the Heller amendment which would prevent illegal aliens from receiving health care coverage. Current legislation doesn’t require agencies to check the citizen status of the applicant; therefore, illegals wouldn’t have their status checked prior to obtaining coverage, thus insuring illegals without insuring illegals. So, technically, the language excludes them, while implicitly including them, via processes.

 If their ever was a carpe diem moment, it was last night. Congressman Wilson’s manhood was screaming to be acknowledged. Have some courage man. Tell the truth. Call him out.

 All gave way to what has, unfortunately, become the norm in the United States. Let people talk, and whatever you do, don’t challenge the substance of their arguments. We have Presidential debates with moderators who might as well be analysts announcing the down and distance at a football game. Pols are able to spin and lie about issues without challenge. I’m surprised no Presidential hopeful has asserted that the sky is green, because there isn’t a chance his claim would be disputed.

 “This evening I let my emotions get the best of me. While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.”

 Disagree with the statement? Nice walk-back from calling the President a liar. Disagreements should be reserved for opinions, not statements of fact. Obama’s assertion that illegals wouldn’t be covered under the bill is false, unequivocally so.

 It’s more than the congressman. Where is the media? Bias aside, liberal bias in the established print and television medium is well documented, where are the questions? Why is it so hard to ask questions, instead of allowing politicians, or anyone else for that matter, to get away with lying?

 We used to call it lying; now it’s simply ‘misleading’. We used to call 700 lb people ‘fat’, now they are just ‘overweight’. We used to call those who finished second ‘losers’, now we call everyone ‘winners’. We used to respond to questions, now we simply spin. We used to have courage, now, we just say sorry.

Health Care Reform: Giving Chemo and Leaving the Tumor

 

child_vaccinesPhone calls to defensive health insurance officials can be nerve racking, as can opening those statements to determine which visits or interventions were covered and what percentage the turkeys decided to pay. It shouldn’t be arbitrary, but often times, it is.

 But I thought this procedure was covered completely with just a co-pay…My doctor was ‘in-network’. Or, what about when they ask you if your procedure or expense was ‘medically necessary’? Yeah, I thought about keeping that dysfunctional prostate a couple more years before deciding to just let ‘em fix it.

Haggling, arguing, pleading and sacrificing have become much too common in the lives of everyday Americans, regardless of whether they carry insurance, and some 46 million don’t, although many of them can afford it but choose not to purchase it. Excluding those making $50,000 per year or more, only 20 million, or less than seven percent of the population is left.

According to a recent survey, most Americans consider health care a “threat to their security,” and some 80 percent believe it isn’t functioning properly.

Obama’s health care plan may cost upwards of $1.5 trillion over the next decade. And largely overlooked in the ‘who is going to pay for what’ debate, is the reason why we’re here—cost. Our system is overpriced. Our drugs, doctors, hospitals and health coverage cost too much for a variety of reasons.

It’s not about who is paying the bill. It’s about the bill.

New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg echoes that belief. “We shouldn’t just be throwing more money on top of the present system, because the present system is so wasteful.”

Over the years, the AMA has vociferously lobbied to limit the number of doctors. As a result, qualified students like my friend Karen, a University of Florida graduate in microbiology, zoology and a minor in chemistry carrying a GPA of over 3.5, didn’t qualify for medical school after graduation. Rejected but determined, she entered graduate school in microbiology and received her master’s degree with a 3.8 grade point average. Still not good enough. Oh, and her MCAT (med-school entrance) score was above average. She also had extracurricular qualifications on her resume—she was the university’s mascot for several years, the same years she spent breaking her back to qualify for Med School. 

While the AMA lobbied to limit doctors, the ABA campaigned against malpractice caps. That guy who went in for an appendectomy and left without an arm couldn’t pay his bills or retire on just $2 million. The least that the hospital, doctor, and ultimately, insurance company could do is give him $10 mil.

Doctors. These days, it’s difficult to sympathize with those who run their offices like an assembly line of “get them in and out inside of five minutes,” because the HMOs, Medicare and Medicaid have destroyed their dreams by sapping the automatic riches owed them by their choice of profession. For many of them, it’s a business. You want a refill? Leave a message and give them a couple of days. You want test results? You might have to wait and take an e-mail. You want them explained? Talk to the nurse.

And honestly, spare me the woe is me argument. I was recently introduced to a doctor, born in raised in Milan, Italy who is now working in Orlando, Florida as a cardiothoracic surgeon. We exchanged pleasantries, and I explained that I was moving back to Como, which is a forty-five minute drive, well, Italian drive, from Milan. “I’ve thought about going back,” he told me, “but I wouldn’t make the kind of money I make here. Now that Obama has been elected, though, I might go back because the system will look more like Europe’s.” 

While every industry is getting hammered in the market, pharmaceuticals have dipped but they certainly haven’t cratered like other Dow stocks. It’s enough to do a chart comparison between Roche and Pfizer against the Dow’s performance. Despite spending millions in commercials of couples in bathtubs (Cialis) and in print advertising advising patients which medications they should be requesting from their doctors, these pharmas just keep raking it in. Never mind that Canadians and Europeans pay a fraction of what Americans pay…

Their argument? They need their R&D.

Simple question. How do other companies manage to create new products without price-gouging? Does Microsoft charge $4,000 for the new Windows application? Do Airlines attach an $800 surcharge to passengers for flying in the new Boeing 777?

Memo to pharmas: We don’t need to pay several hundred bucks for a prescription of Nexium to ease heartburn, we can take Prilocec.

I’ve neglected to mention hospitals for a reason. Despite their cumbersome bureaucracy and $50 aspirins, they are forced to deal with all of the above, plus two—the illegal immigrant patient who has 911 on his or her speed dial and the uninsured patient who might declare medical bankruptcy to avoid the ridiculous bill presented by the hospital.

Every industry and every professional involved in the United States health care is culpable in accelerating its demise, yet integral to its possible turnaround. For years, the American people have been doing the sacrificing, and now is the time for those in the industry to do the same.

It doesn’t matter who picks up the tab. The problem is the tab itself.

Be a Patriot and Spend your Stimulus

My Italian father-in-law and I used to argue over cultural and political differences between Italy and the U.S. He would issue a charge, I would deny it, and a debate would inevitably ensue. In one of our early debates, he warned me: “your economy (the U.S. economy) will collapse once its debtors begin calling in their chips.” We overuse credit cards, spend more than we can afford and consider ‘budget’ a dirty word, he would always say.

If this credit crisis has taught me anything, it has showed me that his assessment was pretty accurate. The saddest part isn’t his vindication or that I have to admit, once again, he was right… It’s that we haven’t learned. Just this weekend, while watching an Italian soccer match, an advertisement flashed across the bottom of the screen:

Your country needs you. Help the economy and spend your government stimulus. Check out cool gear at Foxsoccershop.com

Appealing to the patriotism of Americans by encouraging them to spend their government checks is appalling. Most of the blame, however, belongs to the President and politicians who, by their actions, have continued to promote our irresponsibility by implying that the best action we can take, to recover from this credit crisis, is to spend more. Isn’t that what brought us recession and foreclosures? Shouldn’t they be promoting saving, conservation and paying off our debts? If they need to give a economy a boost, why not cut the corporate tax rate? How about addressing the affordability of healthcare, the ballooning price of oil as it relates to a pathetically weak dollar and the out-of-control federal spending that has created the dollar crisis?

Why do we, as Americans, need to act irresponsibly to cure what Washington has created? Me, I’ll be banking my stimulus check to start a trend, a trend I hope other Americans continue. Spend only what you can afford and save for that rainy day you know is coming.