Monday, August 31, 2009

Communist Pary USA pushes ObamaCare

Obama has the Communists helping him. Sure sounds like the Demo party. CPUSA Online - Summer Health Care fight heats up!: Last week the mayor of Hiroshima, Japan chose to commemorate the 64th year since the atom bomb destroyed his city by praising President Obama's call for abolition of nuclear weapons. He referred to the "Obamajority" in the world which supports this cause. Within our country, the Obamajority is needed to take to the streets in support of health care with a public option paid for by reversing the obscene tax giveaways to the super rich during the Bush years. If health care reform fails, it will be a giant step backwards for the Obama administration and for working people, the labor movement, African American, Latino, Asian-Pacific Island communities, women and youth on every issue including the economy, peace and democracy. August is key. Members of Congress are home for summer recess. They will be seeking out the opinions of their constituents. The right wing is actively trying to shut down expression of opinion. They are using strong-arm tactics to disrupt town hall meetings, oppose any public option and push for taxing the health benefits of working people. Along with some centrists, they want to slow the process down. This would only benefit the medical-pharmaceutical corporate quest to further increase their profits. The majority is not happy with their health care as right-wingers like Rush Limbaugh contend. The majority has no health care--or too little health care--or are in danger of losing what they have won through their unions. The majority want Medicare improved and expanded. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that in September, HR 3200, based on the work of three House committees, will come to the floor for vote. In the Senate, the finance committee continues to deliberate. The health committee has already put its legislation forward. These bills will have to be melded together. Among the biggest points of contention are:
Will there be a public option? Will the funding come from taxing the rich or from taxing working peoples health care benefits? Will immigrants and women's reproductive services, etc. be included?
The Republicans and right-wing extremists are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media ads and hired thugs. They want to shift the atmosphere and create confusion and doubts to undermine the current overwhelming support for public option. They aim to break the historic multi racial unity built up in the course of the Obama election. The racist cartoons that have surfaced against Obama, the "birthers" media campaign and challenges to the appointment of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court add to the Klan-like lynching atmosphere. They are also attempting to build up hysteria by labeling Obama's commitment to the right to health care as a "socialist agenda." It is no accident that the first of the storm-trooper type mob actions disrupting congressional town hall meetings took part at the time of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Medicare. Medicare is a stellar example and argument for public option and for single-payer. Medicare is a government health program that is popularly thought of as essential. Only the privatization efforts of the Bush administration have weakened it. The right-wing Republican tactics to stop healthcare reform are also meant to strengthen their hand against the Employee Free Choice Act and the entire labor program. The tactics are part of the right-wing plan to re-take Congress in the 2010 elections. As the labor movement, Health Care for America Now, Organizing for America and so many other organizations have concluded, what happens in August is critical. The AFL-CIO has developed a national 30-day plan of door-to-door campaigning and phone banking, including the Alliance of Retired Americans and Working America. They are letting members of Congress know that they will not give support for re-election to those who do not support health care and Employee Free Choice. Progressive forces are organizing to attend every congressional town hall meeting and counter the right-wing attempts to disrupt, take them over, and deny the democratic process. Organizing for America (OFA) is planning thousands of events, door knocks and phone banks in August. In an email to OFA President Obama called on all those who built the movement for his election to step forward now. He reiterated, "every day we don't act, Americans watch their premiums rise three times faster than wages, small businesses and families are pushed towards b

Medicare has a private option that Obama will cut

I will start Medicare in less than a year. No age jokes, please. I have yet to fully investigate my options. But I will certainly consider the private option, Medicare Advantage, that I just found out about. Obama's minions say he won't cut the funding for Medicare Advantage. President 0 says he will cut it. Karl Rove reports: Karl Rove:
President Barack Obama was wise to vacation this week on Martha's Vineyard. Not because it's one of the few places in America where his health-care plan is still popular, but because by getting out of Washington he gave staff time to repair his vaunted message machine, which was starting to break down. Two weeks ago, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod said in a now legendary "viral" email that, "It's a myth that health insurance reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits." This was sent out the day before Mr. Obama told a Montana town hall that he'd pay for health-care reform by "eliminating . . . about $177 billion over 10 years" for "what's called Medicare Advantage." And it was two days before Mr. Obama told a Colorado town hall he'd cover "two-thirds" of the "roughly $900 billion" of his plan's cost by "eliminating waste," again citing Medicare Advantage. Who's right? As a former senior adviser, I can tell you who: the president. What's more, according to a White House fact sheet titled "Paying for Health Care Reform," Mr. Axelrod was misleading his readers. It notes the administration would cut $622 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, with a big chunk coming from Medicare Advantage, to pay for overhauling health care. Mr. Obama heralded these cuts as "common sense" in his June 13 radio address. ...
Why does Obama allow his representatives to say the opposite of what he says? Don't think it's a mistake. They daily hone their message.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Worry about H1N1 in British Columbia?

Worry. Yes. Panic. Might be. Look at the extreme level of attention to it. The Saturday edition of the Vancouver Sun newspaper has 8 sections. Seven of the them lead with a story about H1N1 virus above the fold. Front Page "H1N1 We Prepare" with leaders to many of the interior stories Canada World section "Road map in place: Who's in control?" Weekend Review "Experts predict stronger H1N1 this fall" Sports section "Hand-washing: the new Olympic event" Business "Small firms at most risk in outbreak" Arts & Life "Microscopic monsters" which is about movies West Coast Homes - the one exception Travel "Don't let threats of H1N1 dampen winter vacation plans, travel medicine experts say"

Friday, August 28, 2009

Obama's Health Care bill would divulge your IRS tax data

Do you want thousands of government medical bureaucrats snooping through your tax returns? The Democrats intend to allow them to. CBS News:
One of the problems with any proposed law that's over 1,000 pages long and constantly changing is that much deviltry can lie in the details. Take the Democrats' proposal to rewrite health care policy, better known as H.R. 3200 or by opponents as "Obamacare." (Here's our CBS News television coverage.) Section 431(a) of the bill says that the IRS must divulge taxpayer identity information, including the filing status, the modified adjusted gross income, the number of dependents, and "other information as is prescribed by" regulation. That information will be provided to the new Health Choices Commissioner and state health programs and used to determine who qualifies for "affordability credits." Section 245(b)(2)(A) says the IRS must divulge tax return details -- there's no specified limit on what's available or unavailable -- to the Health Choices Commissioner. The purpose, again, is to verify "affordability credits." Section 1801(a) says that the Social Security Administration can obtain tax return data on anyone who may be eligible for a "low-income prescription drug subsidy" but has not applied for it. Over at the Institute for Policy Innovation (a free-market think tank and presumably no fan of Obamacare), Tom Giovanetti argues that: "How many thousands of federal employees will have access to your records? The privacy of your health records will be only as good as the most nosy, most dishonest and most malcontented federal employee.... So say good-bye to privacy from the federal government. It was fun while it lasted for 233 years." I'm not as certain as Giovanetti that this represents privacy's Armageddon. (Though I do wonder where the usual suspects like the Electronic Privacy Information Center are. Presumably inserting limits on information that can be disclosed -- and adding strict penalties on misuse of the information kept on file about hundreds of millions of Americans -- is at least as important as fretting about Facebook's privacy policy in Canada.)
But such an abuse was passed earlier this year:
A better candidate for a future privacy crisis is the so-called stimulus bill enacted with limited debate early this year. It mandated the "utilization of an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014," but included only limited privacy protections.

ABC, NBC refuse to air ad critical of Obamacare

ABC is refusing an ad about Obama's health care takeover that focuses on the effects on Medicare. They gave Obama a whole day of worship. But they are rejecting this ad because it is partisan? It shows the facts that Obama hides. If that is partisan then it should be encouraged. And ABC can show both sides; the opposition is paying to show its message. American Thinker Blog: ABC, NBC refuse to air ad critical of Obamacare:
The two networks are couching their refusal to run the ad in platitudes and nonsensenical, double standards. The fact is, the ad is devastating and both NBC, whose programming on MSNBC demonstrates its rank partisanship, and ABC, who promoted Obamacare with a day long orgy of Obama worship, refuse to run it because of it's effectiveness.
Read about it at American Thinker.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

God's Balance

From our aunt in Lincoln, Nebraska: God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired, "Where have you been?" God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look, Michael. Look what I've made." Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said. "What is it?" "It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a place to test Balance." "Balance?" inquired Michael, "I'm still confused." God explained, pointing to different parts of earth. "For example, Northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while Southern Europe is going to be poor. Over here I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things." God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice." The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that one?" That's Washington State, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains. The people from Washington State are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of software." Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, "But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance." God smiled, "There's another Washington. Wait till you see the idiots I put there."

Rep. McDermott will face his voters once with restrictions

No townhall for Big Jim. He won't face his voters. He is holding an "online meeting" Wednesday at noon. Leave your question, then see which ones he takes. Seattle Times Newspaper: Correction from his web site:
On Monday, August 31, Rep. McDermott will host a telephone town hall from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Pacific. Tens of thousands of 7th District constituents will be called over the weekend with a taped message recorded by Jim to alert them to the event. Then, on Monday, just prior to 7:00 p.m. start time, tens of thousands of constituents will be called inviting them to stay on the line to hear Jim talk about the issue and his perspective live. During the call, people will be able to ask questions. The advantage of a telephone town hall is that the format better fits a busy lifestyle that otherwise would prevent someone from attending a meeting in person, away from their home. Research suggests many more people want to be involved and this is one way of facilitating participation. However, Rep. McDermott always has conducted in-person town hall meetings and this time is no different. On Tuesday, September 1, Rep. McDermott will host a town hall meeting from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Pacific at the University of Washington, Meany Hall. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. and seating will be on a first come basis. Meany Hall can accommodate 1,200 people, with additional capacity just outside the auditorium, if necessary. The site was selected because of its large capacity, readily available parking and mass transit options. According to the University, placards, posters, signs, food and beverages are not allowed in Meany Hall.
So visible signs of opposition will not be allowed. But don't blame McDermott; it's the U of W's fault.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ivar's sign hoisted out of Puget Sound

Ivar Haglund was a great entrepreneur. He connected with people and with a sense of humor. His Acres of Clams Restaurant on the waterfront is a fixture from 1938 until today. News! He put billboards on the floor of Puget Sound - more likely Elliot Bay. Seattle Times Newspaper: An Ivar's sign is hoisted out of Puget Sound Friday. Ivar's President Bob Donegan says that Seattle author Paul Dorpat is writing a book about Ivar Haglund. In his research, Dorpat found maps of Puget Sound that indicated various locations of possible underwater billboards. Donegan acknowledged rumors of Haglund being a forward thinker and believed submarines to be a viable mode of travel

Monday, August 24, 2009

Maine tried ObamaCare

The fifty states of our union can show us how different approaches work. One state tries Obama's dream while another avoids restrictions. What are the results. Several states have tried Obama-like health care takeover; Maine did and people came out of private insurance to the state, the costs went up and the number of uninsured dropped then climbed again.
Want a preview of ObamaCare in action? Sneak a look at what has happened in Maine. In 2003, the state to great fanfare enacted its own version of universal health care. Democratic Governor John Baldacci signed the plan into law with a bevy of familiar promises. By 2009, it would cover all of Maine's approximately 128,000 uninsured citizens. System-wide controls on hospital and physician costs would hold down insurance premiums. There would be no tax increases. The program was going to provide insurance for everyone and save businesses and patients money at the same time. After five years, fiscal realities as brutal as the waves that crash along Maine's famous coastline have hit the insurance plan. The system that was supposed to save money has cost taxpayers $155 million and is still rising. Here's how the program was supposed to work. Two government programs would cover the uninsured. First the legislature greatly expanded MaineCare, the state's Medicaid program. Today Maine families with incomes of up to $44,000 a year are eligible; 22% of the population is now in Medicaid, roughly twice the national average. Then the state created a "public option" known as DirigoChoice. (Dirigo is the state motto, meaning "I Lead.") This plan would compete with private plans such as Blue Cross. To entice lower income Mainers to enroll, it offered taxpayer-subsidized premiums. The plan's original funding source was $50 million of federal stimulus money the state got in 2003. Over time, the plan was to be "paid for by savings in the health-care system." This is precisely the promise of ObamaCare. Maine saved by squeezing payments to hospitals and physicians. The program flew off track fast. At its peak in 2006, only about 15,000 people had enrolled in the DirigoChoice program. That number has dropped to below 10,000, according to the state's own reporting. About two-thirds of those who enrolled already had insurance, which they dropped in favor of the public option and its subsidies. Instead of 128,000 uninsured in the program today, the actual number is just 3,400. Despite the giant expansions in Maine's Medicaid program and the new, subsidized public choice option, the number of uninsured in the state today is only slightly lower that in 2004 when the program began. Why did this happen? Among the biggest reasons is a severe adverse selection problem: The sickest, most expensive patients crowded into DirigoChoice, unbalancing its insurance pool and raising costs. That made it unattractive for healthier and lower-risk enrollees. And as a result, few low-income Mainers have been able to afford the premiums, even at subsidized rates. This problem was exacerbated because since the early 1990s Maine has required insurers to adhere to community rating and guaranteed issue, which requires that insurers cover anyone who applies, regardless of their health condition and at a uniform premium. These rules—which are in the Obama plan—have relentlessly driven up insurance costs in Maine, especially for healthy people. The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which has tracked the plan closely, points out that largely because of these insurance rules, a healthy male in Maine who is 30 and single pays a monthly premium of $762 in the individual market; next door in New Hampshire he pays $222 a month. The Granite State doesn't have community rating and guaranteed issue.
We can join Maine with Obama's takeover and high costs or look at what New Hampshire and other states are doing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Obama's health takeover leaves the door open for illegals.

Put a sign in front of your home saying "Burglary is not permitted" and leave the doors unlocked. Are you surprised when you valuables disappear? Obama's health care bills have the token words about not benefitting illegals, but open new doors to them. Title II, Subtitle C, Section 246 of the House health care bill (H.R. 3200) stipulates “no federal payment for undocumented aliens.” The Senate bill states that beneficiaries of federal health care programs must be a citizen or national or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States. But there are many doors that will be opened. There is no verification of citizen requirement for this expensive entitlement. By contrast Medicaid currently has identity checks that prevent (more likely reduce) illegal aliens from collecting. Congressman Dean Heller (R-Nev.) offered an amendment in the Ways and Means Committee to correct that, but it was defeated along party lines. During the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s markup, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) offered an amendment that would require a check on immigration and citizenship status of those being signed up for Medicaid. It was defeated by one vote largely along party lines. The Senate Finance Committee has not released text, only an outline that includes a mandate that individuals must carry health insurance or else face a fine. But illegals are exempt from the fine. Run that by again: illegals are exempt from the fine. Sen. Baucus has worked very hard trying to figure out how to pay for this. Here is the result. CNS News
“The [Senate] Finance outline says that illegal aliens will be exempt from that individual mandate. It sets up a system where you’ve got Americans and legal immigrants who have to have coverage or else pay a fine,” Edwards said. “But illegal aliens would escape the mandate and any fine for not being insured. [James Edwards is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.] “It appears that this sets up for illegal aliens to be free riders of sorts,” Edwards said. “They still receive taxpayer-funded medical services at health clinics and hospitals required to serve those (with) a medical emergency. Yet illegal aliens would be free from any responsibility or sanction that other people would bear.”
Since President Obama says illegals are kept out when they are not, what else about these bills is he "incorrectly stating"? Via Patterico in LA. See also Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas at The Hill.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Obama lies about abortion in his health takeover

Abortions is in Obama's takeover. It's not listed like "abortions will be provided," but it's in the gaps. Proof: Republicans put forth amendments to excluded abortion and were defeated. It's there. The Weekly Standard: "I know there's been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness," President Obama said during a conference call with religious folks this evening, "but I want everyone to know what health insurance reform is all about." He then repeated all of the misleading statements weaved into his stump speech, such as his statement that "If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan." But he also added a new lie to the list, saying: "You've heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true. These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation--and that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother's keeper and I am my sister's keeper. And on the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call." While the White House "reality check" website was silent on the issue of abortion in Obamacare, his campaign website quotes a false statement that "In fact, none of the health care overhaul measures that have made it through the committee level in Congress say that abortion will be covered". In fact, the Capps Amendment passed by the House Energy and Commerce committee would require the establishment of at least one plan covering elective abortions in every federally-subsidized exchange, and it gives the HHS Secretary the authority to include abortion coverage in the public plan and requires that the public plan cover abortion if the Hyde amendment (which bans funding of abortions through Medicaid) is repealed. Supporters of the Capps Amendment argue that in theory the amendment would require an abortionist to be paid out of the premiums contributed by the individual (not with the federal subsidies). So, say, an individual contributes $500 to purchase an insurance policy, and the federal government provides that individual with $3,000 in taxpayer-subsidies. When the bill comes due from the abortionist, he will theoretically be paid out of the $500 contributed by the individual.* This is a distinction without a difference. Without the federal subsidies the individual would not have access to a plan that covers abortion -- i.e. without the taxpayer-subsidies many people would otherwise be paying full price for an abortion out of pocket. The Weekly Standard - Capps amendment

Friday, August 21, 2009

President Bush saved millions of lives in Africa

My Ugandan friend spends half his time there overseeing a school and other ministries and half his time with his wife in Seattle. He tells me that President Bush was very good for Africa. Very! Bush didn't talk a lot about it; he quickly took action, effective action. Townhall What if a president, on his own initiative, under no demands from staff or from supporters or opponents, set out to spend an unprecedented amount of money on AIDS in Africa, literally billions of dollars, at a time when the nation could not afford it, citing his faith as a primary motivation and, ultimately, saved more than a million lives? Wouldn’t the story be front-page news, especially in top, liberal newspapers? Wouldn’t it lead on CNN, MSNBC, and the “CBS Evening News?” Might statues be erected to the man in the nation’s more “progressive” cities? What if the president was George W. Bush? I pose these uncomfortable questions for two reasons: 1) President Bush did precisely that regarding the African AIDS tragedy; and 2) a study claims that Bush’s remarkable action has indeed saved many precious lives. As someone who has closely followed Bush’s humanitarian gesture from the outset, I’m not surprised that the former president continues to not receive the accolades he deserves—including even from conservative supporters—for this generous act. Bush himself realizes the lack of gratitude and media attention. I personally witnessed it recently, on June 17, when I was in attendance for one of Bush’s first post-presidential speeches, in Erie, Pa. There, too, he mentioned the AIDS initiative—even adding that one of his daughters is in Africa today, working on the epidemic—and, there again, it received no press coverage whatsoever. It all began in January 2003, during the State of the Union. In a completely unexpected announcement, Bush asked Congress for $15 billion for AIDS in Africa—drugs, treatment and prevention. America soon learned this was not the typical State of the Union throwaway line: To show his seriousness, Bush followed on April 29 with a press conference in the East Room, where he exhorted Congress to “act quickly” on his “emergency plan.” Accompanied by the secretary of state, he prodded America’s wealthy allies to join this “urgent work,” this “great effort.” He explained that AIDS was a “dignity of life” issue and “tragedy” that was the “responsibility of every nation.” This was a “moral imperative,” with time “not on our side.” Bush then shocked the press by pointing to an unusual personal motivation, citing the parable of the Good Samaritan: “[T]his cause is rooted in the simplest of moral duties,” he told journalists. “When we see this kind of preventable suffering … we must act. When we see the wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not, America will not, pass to the other side of the road.” With amazing quickness, just four weeks later, Bush inked a $15-billion plan and challenged Europe to match the U.S. commitment without delay. How did the plan work? In April, a major study was released by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. According to the study, the first to evaluate the outcomes of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bush initiative has cut the death toll from HIV/AIDS by more than 10 percent in targeted African countries from 2003 to 2007. “It has averted deaths—a lot of deaths,” said Dr. Eran Bendavid, one of the researchers. “It is working. It’s reducing the death toll from HIV. People who are not dying may be able to work and support their families and their local economy.” Co-researcher, Dr. Peter Piot, says PEPFAR “is changing the course of the AIDS epidemic.” The study—still having received virtually no press attention several months after its release—estimates that the Bush relief plan has saved more than 1 million African lives.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vancouver BC is cutting medically necessary surguries to cut costs

Government control of health care is puts caring bureaucrats in charge of decisions, not profit-seeking businessmen. But when everything is free for everyone too many dollars are spent unwisely. "But it's free." The misuse of resources requires cutting costs - of course. So how do they cut costs? Not wisely. They can't make the tough decisions so they cut across the board. In many cases they cut medically necessary surgeries. That's what's proposed in Vancouver, BC, Canada - to cut over 6,000 surgeries over 6 months. And to cover the 2010 Olympics they have to close 1/3 of their operating rooms! Vancouver Sun Vancouver patients needing neurosurgery, treatment for vascular diseases and other medically necessary procedures can expect to wait longer for care, NDP health critic Adrian Dix said Monday. Dix said a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority document shows it is considering chopping more than 6,000 surgeries in an effort to make up for a dramatic budgetary shortfall that could reach $200 million. “This hasn’t been announced by the health authority … but these cuts are coming,” Dix said, citing figures gleaned from a leaked executive summary of “proposed VCH surgical reductions.” The health authority confirmed the document is genuine, but said it represents ideas only. “It is a planning document. It has not been approved or implemented,” said spokeswoman Anna Marie D’Angelo. Dr. Brian Brodie, president of the BC Medical Association, called the proposed surgical cuts “a nightmare.” “Why would you begin your cost-cutting measures on medically necessary surgery? I just can’t think of a worse place,” Brodie said. According to the leaked document, Vancouver Coastal — which oversees the budget for Vancouver General and St. Paul’s hospitals, among other health-care facilities — is looking to close nearly a quarter of its operating rooms starting in September and to cut 6,250 surgeries, including 24 per cent of cases scheduled from September to March and 10 per cent of all medically necessary elective procedures this fiscal year. The plan proposes cutbacks to neurosurgery, ophthalmology, vascular surgery, and 11 other specialized areas. As many of 112 full-time jobs — including 13 anesthesiologist positions — would be affected by the reductions, the document says. “Clearly this will impact the capacity of the health-care system to provide care, not just now but in the future,” Dix said. Further reductions in surgeries are scheduled during the Olympics, when the health authority plans to close approximately a third of its operating rooms. Two weeks ago, Dix released a Fraser Health Authority draft communications plan listing proposed clinical care cuts, including a 10-per-cent cut in elective surgeries and longer waits for MRI scans. The move comes after the province acknowledged all health authorities together will be forced to cut staff, limit some services and increase fees to find $360 million in savings during the current fiscal year. In all, Fraser Health is looking at a $160-million funding shortfall. D’Angelo said Vancouver Coastal’s deficit is closer to $90 million — almost a third of which ($23 million) has already been absorbed through reductions in non-clinical administration efficiencies. Vancouver Coastal performed 67,000 surgeries last year, an increase of 6,500 surgeries over 2007. “What has now happened is that now our wait times are about 25 per cent lower than the provincial average,” D’Angelo said. “We have put a dent in that wait list.” Brodie acknowledged surgical waiting times have dropped significantly in recent years, particularly for patients needing hip and joint replacements. He said the proposed cuts threaten those advancements. “It sounds like we are going backwards here,” he said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Government fails to reimburse in cash for clunkers program

Hurry up and line up to put Obama in charge of your health care. He will give you the same lousy treatment he gives everyone else. The car dealers are being reimbursed very, very slowly. Why would he do better for you? NY dealers pull out of clunkers program -
A New York dealership group says hundreds of its members have left the Cash for Clunkers program, citing delays in getting reimbursed by the government. The president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association says about half its 425 members have stopped offering rebates from the program because they can no longer afford them. Mark Schienberg says the group's dealers have been repaid for only about 2 percent of the clunkers deals they've made, leaving many short on cash. The program offers up to $4,500 to shoppers who trade in gas guzzlers for a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Dealers pay the rebates out of pocket then must wait to be reimbursed by the government, but administrative snags have created a bottleneck in unpaid claims.
Even the NY Times found this:
But the backlog has already pushed some dealers, including several hundred in the New York area, to refuse more trade-ins under the program. “I’m a small store,” said Ron Morehead Jr., general manager of a Honda dealership in Kingston, N.Y. “The well runs dry.” Mr. Morehead said he had paid out $225,000 in rebates since the program began last month but had been reimbursed for only one deal, which he filed with the government on July 28. Meanwhile, he said, he still had to pay his 30 employees, pay his bills and repay the bank when he sold a car. On Tuesday, Mr. Morehead left the program. “I’ve lost 15 to 20 deals because of it,” Mr. Morehead said. “But you know what? We’re still doing business. I can’t afford to keep sending money out. It’s time to get paid.” In Georgia, Andy Jones, a dealer at Gerald Jones Honda, said the program had enticed buyers back to his dealership, spurred sales and moved cars off the lot. But now, he said, he has paid $450,000 worth of rebates, and not one has been approved yet. “The program worked, if we get paid,” Mr. Jones said. “But it’s scary.”

A few days at Warm Beach

Our church just had our annual camp at Warm Beach Christian Conference Center overlooking Port Susan (branch of Puget Sound) and the delta of the Stillaguamish River. It's a beautiful place. Recovering from my injury and 5 months on crutches and 8 requiring a cane, I was able to lead a hike with my wife. It was family-oriented so we kept it short, but steep - we warned everyone. Kayak Point County Park and here. It's great to have extra time with people we know and friends from far away - Chandler/Gilbert (Phoenix), Arizona and Thailand. In the nine previous years a few people have come from Thailand or Malaysia, but none this year. There were people who traveled from Las Vegas, Anchorage, Alaska, Portland, Oregon and other Washington cities, including Bellingham.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Congressman Baird feels he would have been safer in Afghanistan

It's gotten ridiculous. Lars Larson does radio from the Portland, Oregon - Vancouver, Washington area. I am posting this without double checking because I have found him to be reliable. Lars reports: The Oregon Catalyst: There’s at least one member of the American Congress who believes he’d be safer in Afghanistan then he would in front of his own constituents. I’m going to be talking to Washington State Congressman Brian Baird next week. He’s agreed to do a two-hour radio town hall to talk about health care. You see, he is a Democrat. He hasn’t decided whether to vote for Obamacare yet and I’m hoping to persuade him otherwise. He hasn’t held any in-person town hall meetings with his constituents because he thinks he’s in too much risk. In fact, he got up in front of one group just this week and said that he’d probably be safer in Afghanistan. He said, “I wish I’d been to the fire base in Afghanistan, which was my choice. But I came home to meet with constituents. I would have been safer there”. It’s foolish and it doesn’t make sense.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Senate removes death panel provision that wasn't there

President Obama says "death panels" were not in the legislation. Senators now say they have been removed. But the same provision remains in the three bills in the House Senate committee scraps healthcare provision that gave rise to 'death panel' claims --
Reporting from Washington - A Senate panel has decided to scrap the part of its healthcare bill that in recent days has given rise to fears of government "death panels," with one lawmaker suggesting the proposal was just too confusing. The Senate Finance Committee is taking the idea of advance care planning consultations with doctors off the table as it works to craft its version of healthcare legislation, a Democratic committee aide said Thursday. Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the committee, said the panel dropped the idea because it could be "misinterpreted or implemented incorrectly." For Democrats, the decision was an apparent acknowledgment that the provision had become a lightning rod for critics of a proposed overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system. Democratic lawmakers and President Obama are trying to extend health insurance to more people, rein in health costs and make other changes. Recently, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speculated that Obama and other Democrats wanted to set up "death panels" to decide who gets medical services and who does not. In reality, the provision was designed to allow Medicare to pay doctors who counsel patients about planning for end-of-life decisions. The consultations would be voluntary and would provide information about living wills, healthcare proxies, pain medication and hospice.
"Voluntary" as in at every decision point every medical person who sees you reminds you that you have the death option.

I have to get a new email address

Big Brother got my email address. When President Obama's minions asked us peons to tattle on each other, by sending email to the White House, I thought it would be fun to report on the misinformation displayed by the White House. So I sent an email to their tattle address. My email will be kept in President Obama's records forever; indeed, it must be kept. It can't be disclosed for years, but then it can be.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pay for supporting ObamaCare

The Obamabots are paying "volunteers" in Los Angeles. Here is a local report. Top of the Ticket | Los Angeles Times:
It seems that, despite all the media attention lavished on e-mail appeals to his supporters, not everyone pushing for President Obama's embattled healthcare reform plan these warm August days is an idealistic volunteer in it for the sake of helping move the country forward and gaining medical attention for millions of uninsured Americans. The website's large-type headline announces: "Work to Pass Obama's Healthcare Plan and Get Paid to Do it! $10-15 hr!" It's a web ad on Craigslist: "You can work for change. Join motivated staff around the country working to make change happen. You can make great friends and money along the way. Earn $400-$600 a week." So both sides appear to have paid lobbyists in this colossal summertime struggle for public opinion and control of the multi-billions flowing into the nation's burdened healthcare system.
He shows evidence that ObamaCare supporters are being paid. He has no evidence that those opposed are being paid. I think some PR firms are being paid, but no one else is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Try ObamaCare on a blue state

If President 0 and the Democrats are so sure they can cut costs and provide more compassionate coverage than the evil insurance companies, then give them a chance to prove it. Put ObamaCare in place in a blue state like California, New York or Maryland. Not Washington; we already have enough problems caused by our mandates on health insurance and the legislature's fairy-tale budgeting. Those states love Obama. Surely they will be willing guinea pigs. Put it in place for a 3-year trial, then see if it makes things better. Some states have already tried similar plans with very bad results. More on that later.

AARP is backing away from Obama

The AARP - the largest organization of senior citizens - has been a reliable supporter of every proposal for concentrating more power in the central government. But they are moving away from Obama. Maybe they are listening to their lemmings, I mean, "members." The opposition is gaining. Political News - :
A group usually seen as one of Barack Obama's allies in the health care debate -- AARP -- says the president went too far Tuesday when he said the seniors lobby had endorsed the legislation pending in Congress. AARP is sensitive to the issue because polls show that Medicare beneficiaries are worried their health care program will be cut to subsidize coverage for the uninsured. At the town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., Obama said, "We have the AARP onboard because they know this is a good deal for our seniors." He added, "AARP would not be endorsing a bill if it was undermining Medicare." But Tom Nelson, AARP's chief operating officer, said, "Indications that we have endorsed any of the major health care reform bills currently under consideration in Congress are inaccurate."
Political observers say AARP got caught by their members. That behind the scenes its leaders are saying "Yes. We support your government takeover," while in public they remained uncommitted. They expected their "members" to remain passive. But its stench is too strong and the members made the leadership make a public statement.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Exciting town halls are not new

The media breathlessly report on the terrible people who are vigorously responding to the Democrats' health care takeover. They pretend there has never been a response like this before. They hope you have forgotten how Democrats disrupted meetings about President G W Bush's Social Security proposals 4 years ago. And James Glassman goes back 20 years. Town Hells? - TCS Daily: Actually, they aren't new at all, and, in ugliness, it is hard to match an incident that occurred almost precisely 20 years ago. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee was accosted by constituents angry about the passage of the Catastrophic Coverage Act, which expanded Medicare benefits and funded the change with a supplemental tax. The Chicago Tribune reported on Aug. 19, 1989:
"Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, one of the most powerful politicians in the United States, was booed and chased down a Chicago street Thursday morning by a group of senior citizens after he refused to talk with them about federal health insurance. Shouting 'Coward,' 'Recall' and 'Impeach,' about 50 people followed the chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee up Milwaukee Avenue after he left a meeting in the auditorium of the Copernicus Center, 3106 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the heart of his 8th Congressional District on the city's Northwest Side. "Eventually, the 6-foot-4-inch Rostenkowski cut through a gas station, broke into a sprint and escaped into his car, which minutes earlier had one of the elderly protesters, Leona Kozien, draped over the hood. Kozien, one of more than 100 senior citizens who attended the gathering, said she had hoped to talk to Rostenkowski, her congressman, at the meeting. "But Rostenkowski clearly did not want to talk with her, or any of the others who had come to tell their complaints about the high cost of federal catastrophic health insurance. 'These people don't understand what the government is trying to do for them,' the 61-year-old congressman complained as he tried to outpace his pursuers."
In fact, writes Stephen Bainbridge, "I think they understood too well." I am indebted to Bainbridge, the UCLA law professor who writes the blog, for digging up the Tribune clipping ... and reminding people today of the anger directed against Rostenkowski and his colleagues at the time. David Hyman, on the excellent Volokh Conspiracy blog, points out a nice bit of irony: The leader of the protest against Rostenkowski was "Jan Schakowsky - then Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens - and currently Democratic representative from the Ninth Congressional District of Illinois, and chief deputy whip to Majority Leader Pelosi."

Wednesday tell McDermott you don't want health care taken over

The Congressional Budget Office, which works for the Democratic leadership, looked into the cost savings brought by preventive care. But found no savings from such care.


Congressman Jim McDermott, District 7 - most of Seattle and parts of Lake Forest Park, Shoreline and areas south of Seattle - a strong supporter of President Obama's proposal for government-run healthcare, will be having a town hall meeting on healthcare. His Seattle phone # is 206-553-7170.

Wednesday, August 12th at 7:00 pm

At The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California Ave. SW, Seattle (West Seattle)

Be informed. Go and tell Distinguished Big Jim the problems with the bills. Be respectful. (He will make sure his supporters are there.)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Read the bill - H.R. 3200 you can't read

How can we take Congress seriously? They are building such a mess in three bills that no one knows what is in it at any point in time. And then it changes. Committee Chairman John Conyers brags "what use is it reading the bill if it's 1,000 pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to help you understand what's it means?" He just admitted that he makes people vote on bills whose contents they don't know. Even the establishment Washington Post is aghast. You literally can't read this bill. You have to have a host of laws memorized to even attempt to make sense of it. And it's so cobbled together it can't possibly be consistent. Like Sausage-Making, Reforming Health Care Is a Messy Business -
... In recent months, there has been much GOP criticism of Democrats for passing legislation that some lawmakers have not read. But the bills are not exactly beach reading. They are legal documents crammed with legislative coding, sentence fragments and assorted gibberish that modifies laws already on the books somewhere. To really understand what a bill says, you'd need to have the existing laws memorized. Here's a fairly typical passage from H.R. 3200:
Section 1834(a)(7)(A)(iii) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395m(a)(7)(A)(iii)) is amended (1) in the heading, by inserting 'CERTAIN COMPLEX REHABILITATIVE' after 'OPTION FOR'; and (2) by striking 'power-driven wheelchair' and inserting 'complex rehabilitative power-driven wheelchair recognized by the Secretary as classified within group 3 or higher.'
And that goes on for a thousand pages. [There are 3 bills.] The frenetic nature of the Capitol this week was the result of a strategic decision by the Obama administration to let lawmakers do most of the heavy lifting on health-care reform. Obama did not want a repeat of "Hillarycare," the ill-fated proposal during the first term of President Clinton. Then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton put together that plan and presented it to Congress for essentially an up-or-down vote. "I've never seen anything like this. Hillarycare, we got one very long and impressive lecture by Hillary," said Rep. Peter A. Defazio (D-Ore.). Before either chamber can vote on a bill, the committee chairmen, along with congressional leaders, will have to merge the disparate versions into a single bill to bring to the floor. Whatever is passed by the two chambers must then be reconciled again in "conference." The conference committee would then produce a final bill that would have to be voted on by each chamber. If passed, the bill would go to the president. If he found it acceptable, he would sign it.
Nancy Pelosi might appear to compromise with the less-liberal "Blue Dog" Democrats, but don't let her fool you. The only real bill will be the "conference report" that is supposed to be the combination of the versions the House and the Senate pass. But strong-arm leaders like Pelosi won't allow it to contain anything they don't want, so she will put in a complete rewrite. That's when her compromises with the foolish industry groups and Blue Dog Democrats will mysteriously disappear. And then they will be in a big hurry to vote today. "No time to read it." Via Virginia Postrel, the Dynamist.

Cost estimates of new programs are far outrun

Obama's health care takeover will save money, he claims. What is the track record for the projection of future costs of programs enacted by Congress? Way low! Ex-Congressman Tim Penny and Ex-Senator Rudy Boschwitz at Investors Business Daily Beware of government estimates about the future cost of ObamaCare. When Medicare was being considered in the mid-1960s, the government projected that the outlays for the program 25 years down the road would be $10 billion. Instead, in 1990, 25 years later, the outlays were $107 billion. Government estimates were off by a factor of more than 10! Medicaid, the other large medical program currently in effect, outdid Medicare. Medicaid outlays in 1968 were $1.8 billion. In 2007 they had risen to $190.6 billion, an increase in dollar terms of 105.9 times. And that is only the Federal outlay number. There is a roughly equal Medicaid amount spent by the states due to federal mandates. Without those mandates we would not be reading about the large deficits that most states endure. The idea of expanding the federal role in the medical arena is truly fiscally irresponsible. The claim that money will be saved through government competition with the private insurance system (with government setting the rules!) is the height of fantasy. If 45 million Americans are now uninsured, that means 265 million are insured privately, and the government should not disrupt that. If the government becomes the insurer of most Americans, the impact on the budget would be absolutely awesome. Rationing of medical care that is so often mentioned would surely result.

Don't feel sorry for California

Don't feel sorry for California. While they were in a deep hole budget deficit they kept digging. State employees increased by 0.7% while private employment decreased by 6%. They still haven't faced up to the seriousness of the problem. State keeps hiring despite recession - San Jose Mercury News: California's state government has managed to add thousands of jobs during the past year, defying a mammoth budget deficit and a brutal recession. The job growth for state workers contrasts with the loss of 759,000 jobs in California's private industry in the past 12 months. "I don't know how this can happen," said David Kline, a spokesman for the California Taxpayers Association. "A lot of people are having trouble keeping their jobs, paying their bills and feeding their families. Most taxpayers would be incredulous if they see these numbers." During the 12 months that ended in June, state government added 3,600 jobs in California, according to numbers compiled by the California Employment Development Department. That's a 0.7 percent gain, even as private industry posted a 6 percent decrease in its total job base. Lynelle Jolley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Personnel Administration, said those jobs have been added in the University of California and California State University systems. She said the executive branch, which includes the bulk of state workers outside of the Legislature, the judiciary and higher education, lost 600 jobs over that time. But critics believe cutting jobs, not hiring thousands, should have been the answer to the recession. "When there is no money left in the till, you should economize and cut back on spending," Kline said.

Honduras has won

The change of government in Honduras was constitutional, not a military coup. Good news. Obama's government is backing off. Obama walks hand-in-hand with dictator Hugo Chavez of Venezuela only so far. President 0 is not supporting the new government, but he is backing off. Investors Business Daily Diplomacy: In a quiet victory for a tiny democracy, U.S. buttinskies have stopped trying to restore a dictator to power in South America. Tiny Honduras is winning its fight for freedom. Listen to Audio Version In a welcome about-face, the State Department told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a letter Tuesday that the U.S. would no longer threaten sanctions on Honduras for ousting its president, Mel Zelaya, last June 28. Nor will it insist on Zelaya's return to power. As it turns out, the U.S. Senate can't find any legal reason why the Honduran Supreme Court's refusal to let Zelaya stay in office beyond the time allowed by Honduran law constitutes a "military coup." This marks a shift. The U.S. at first supported Zelaya, a man who had been elected democratically but didn't govern that way. Now they're reaching out to average Hondurans, the real democrats. Sure, the U.S. continues to condemn Zelaya's ouster and still seeks mediation of the dispute through Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. But no U.S. sanctions means Hondurans have won.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The health-care wedge - Obama's health takeover will make it worse

Arthur Laffer says the big problem in health care is the gap between what health consumers pay and the actual cost. He calls this the health-care wedge. Any proposed solution that doesn't make that gap smaller or get rid of it will perpetuate the problems. Obama's takeover will make it worse.
President Barack Obama is correct when he says that “soaring health-care costs make our current course unsustainable.” Many Americans agree: 55% of respondents to a recent CNN poll think the U.S. health-care system needs a great deal of reform. Yet 70% of Americans are satisfied with their current health-care arrangements, and for good reason—they work. Consumers are receiving quality medical care at little direct cost to themselves. This creates runaway costs that have to be addressed. But ill-advised reforms can make things much worse. An effective cure begins with an accurate diagnosis, which is sorely lacking in most policy circles. The proposals currently on offer fail to address the fundamental driver of health-care costs: the health-care wedge. The health-care wedge is an economic term that reflects the difference between what health-care costs the specific provider and what the patient actually pays. When health care is subsidized, no one should be surprised that people demand more of it and that the costs to produce it increase. Mr. Obama’s health-care plan does nothing to address the gap between the price paid and the price received. Instead, it’s like a negative tax: Costs rise and people demand more than they need. To pay for the subsidy that the administration and Congress propose, revenues have to come from somewhere. The Obama team has come to the conclusion that we should tax small businesses, large employers and the rich. That won’t work because the health-care recipients will lose their jobs as businesses can no longer afford their employees and the wealthy flee. The bottom line is that when the government spends money on health care, the patient does not. The patient is then separated from the transaction in the sense that costs are no longer his concern. And when the patient doesn’t care about costs, only those who want higher costs—like doctors and drug companies—care.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

How to hear what you want to hear at district meetings

Some congressmen and senators have had the insult of having to listen to people who disagree with their support of Obama's takeover of health care. Senator Jumpin' Arlen Specter But Rep. Jay Inslee is taking no chances: "Sorry for the late notice" - just a few hours. Oh, you didn't hear about it in time? That's OK all my supporters knew about it and called in. It's nice to get such support from "the public" for the takeover of health care. Congressman Jay Inslee cancelled a telecon scheduled for July 23. I'm sure he had a good reason, but, how convenient, the wrong people might have known about it. But he found time for one on July 29 just earlier the same day. So who knew about it? Welcome - U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, WA-01: - Inslee to hold telephone town hall meeting on Wednesday, July 29:
Inslee to hold telephone town hall meeting - Wednesday, July 29 July 29, 2009 Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) is hosting a telephone town hall meeting tonight so he can speak with his constituents about the health care reform bill. The call begins at 7:10 p.m. PDT and will last for one hour. In the call, Rep. Inslee will give a update on the health care reform bill and its status. After that, he will then answer constituent's questions and listen to comments and concerns about the legislation. Dial-in information is as follows: -- Toll-free participant line: 877-229-8493 or 877-269-7289 -- Conference code: -----
Via NW Digest

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Israel test - George Gilder

George Gilder is one of the leading thinkers of our era: the roles of men and women; entrepreneurship and capitalism. He is on top of the advanced technology that is making quantum leaps in capability. Now he wrote a book about Israel - The Israel Test. Israel? Here is an interview of him by Jennifer Lopez of National Review. National Review Online:
Do you admire and emulate excellence and accomplishment, even if it excels your own? Or do you envy and resent it? And try to tear it down? That’s the Israel Test and it is administered by cosmic law — the law of capitalist success: The good fortune of others is also one’s own. The people who admire and emulate excellence thrive. Those who resent and envy it gnash their teeth and tear their hair and never accomplish anything worthwhile. You can see the Israel Test play out in the Middle East and in Washington. Israel, per capita, is the most creative and innovative country on the face of the earth. Since 1991, venture capital in Israel has increased sixtyfold. Israel has become an extension of Silicon Valley that is excelling its source. It is a paragon of defense-technology innovation. In 2008, a study by Deloitte and Touche showed that Israel has become the world’s chief fount of innovation outside the U.S. in such fields as microchips, telecom, software, biotech, medical devices, and cleantech. Only Germany is close, and they are ten times larger. Israel epitomizes the excellence and accomplishment of Jewish culture. It is hated by anti-Semites not because of any flaws or legal infractions but because of its unique virtues, which show up and shame the forces of mediocrity everywhere. LOPEZ [interviewer]: How does defending Israel defend capitalism? GILDER: Under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is the world’s ascendant capitalist country. While the U.S. is immersed in a slough of increasing taxes and regulations, Israel has been privatizing its companies and deregulating its financial institutions. They are reducing tax rates and preserving the key capitalist assets of the West while the U.S. is trying to cap and trade capitalism, suppress energy production, and raise tax rates on everything. As rates rise above 50 percent, entrepreneurs have a greater incentive to shuffle and hide existing wealth than to create new wealth.
Read it to learn about the huge increase in life expectancy of Arabs living on the West Bank under Israel's government.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

China Foils Smuggling of Missile-Use Material to N.Korea

Good news. China finally cracked down on one of North Korea's dangerous activities - trading in materials used to make missiles. China was enforcing a sanction. Good. The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea
Chinese customs authorities confiscated 70 kg of vanadium that North Korea tried to smuggle through China. Vanadium has defense and nuclear uses -- alloys containing vanadium are used in missile casings -- but it was not clear what the stash was to be used for. Dandong News, a newspaper from the Chinese-North Korean border city of Dandong in Liaoning Province, on Tuesday said the local customs office seized vanadium hidden in six fruit boxes from a truck heading to North Korea last Saturday. The confiscated material was contained in 68 bottles hidden among fruit and is worth 200,000 yuan (W36 million, US$1=W1,238), it said. Vanadium is resistant to corrosion by sulphuric and hydrochloric acid and strengthens steel. It is alloyed with steel to make jet engines, missile casings and superconducting magnets. After North Korea carried out its second nuclear test on May 25, the UN Security Council, at the initiative of the U.S., passed tougher sanctions seeking to curb trade in missile-related materials. China, which backed the sanctions, is apparently tightening controls of such materials going to North Korea.
Tip to Nina Hachigian at World Focus.

American health care is better than...

American health care is not perfect, but it's better than Canada's and Great Britain's. Here are ten direct comparisons; most are against those two countries, but some are against larger sets of countries, even ALL countries. Hoover Institution - Hoover Digest - Here’s a Second Opinion: 1. Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers. Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway. The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher. 2. Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians. Breast cancer mortality in Canada is 9 percent higher than in the United States, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher, and colon cancer among men is about 10 percent higher. 3. Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries. Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit from statin drugs, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease, are taking them. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons, and 17 percent of Italians receive them. 4. Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians. Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate, and colon cancer:
Nine out of ten middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to fewer than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent). Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a Pap smear, compared to fewer than 90 percent of Canadians. More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a prostatespecific antigen (PSA) test, compared to fewer than one in six Canadians (16 percent). Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with fewer than one in twenty Canadians (5 percent).
5. Lower-income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians. Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report “excellent” health (11.7 percent) compared to Canadian seniors (5.8 percent). Conversely, white, young Canadian adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower-income Americans to describe their health as “fair or poor.” 6. Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the United Kingdom. Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long—sometimes more than a year—to see a specialist, have elective surgery such as hip replacements, or get radiation treatment for cancer. All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada. In Britain, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment. 7. People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed. More than 70 percent of German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and British adults say their health system needs either “fundamental change” or “complete rebuilding.” 8. Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians. When asked about their own health care instead of the “health care system,” more than half of Americans (51.3 percent) are very satisfied with their health care services, compared with only 41.5 percent of Canadians; a lower proportion of Americans are dissatisfied (6.8 percent) than Canadians (8.5 percent). 9. Americans have better access to important new technologies such as medical imaging than do patients in Canada or Britain. An overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identify computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade—even as economists and policy makers unfamiliar with actual medical practice decry these techniques as wasteful. The United States has thirty-four CT scanners per million Americans, compared to twelve in Canada and eight in Britain. The United States has almost twenty-seven MRI machines per million people compared to about six per million in Canada and Britain. 10. Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations. The top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other developed country. Since the mid-1970s, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to U.S. residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined. In only five of the past thirty-four years did a scientist living in the United States not win or share in the prize. Most important recent medical innovations were developed in the United States.

Washington doesn't qualify for more federal education money

The feds are distributing $4.3 billion "stimulus money" for education, but only to states that demonstrate excellence in public education. This is an Obama priority and Education Secretary Duncan is pushing it. Essentially, a state would have to demonstrate that it can implement successful, student-focused reforms in the face of political obstacles. How does Washington measure up? Tacoma News-Tribune
Some of their core expectations: • A state must connect data on student performance to individual teachers. The logic for this is blindingly obvious: The data connection can not only help evaluate teachers, it can help evaluate the curriculum they use, the schools of education that trained them and the effectiveness of their principals. The failure to make that connection cripples accountability all around. Washington doesn’t make it. • A state must reward high-performing teachers. For the most part, Washington does not. • A state must encourage educational innovation by not imposing a cap on the number of charter public schools – schools commonly organized and self-governed by teachers and parents. Washington imposes a cap: zero. • A state must have a credible way of stepping in and fixing failing schools. Washington doesn’t.
Obama has "homed in on characteristics that distinguish flexible, performance-oriented school systems designed to serve students, not power structures." Also Washington Post. Our history on allowing such flexibility for schools is sad. Just one example: Our Legislature passed a bill to implement charter schools a few years back - a bipartisan effort. Charter schools are run independently and bypass many of the "this is the only way to run a school" rules; most states have them. The Washington Education Association immediately brought a referendum to cancel it. The got the public scared and the voters went along. So all our schools are required to work by the one-size-fits-all system. No flexibility allowed. How can Washington make the changes so we qualify for this additional funding? More importantly can we implement what is proven to work? Or do we choose to stick with our 20th-century industrial school system? Christine Gregoire was in D.C. asking for more money this week. Will she lead our Legislature to get our schools the additional flexibility her Obama wants? Or actively pass around her tin cup begging? Via Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy:

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Boeing, Xerox Join 185 Groups Objecting to House Health Plan -

My employer says Obamacare would cause obstacles to providing health care for its employees.
Boeing Co., Xerox Corp. and Caterpillar Inc. are among 185 companies and business groups objecting to health-care legislation in the U.S. House that they say would hurt their ability to cover employees. The legislation may require companies to offer different coverage for workers depending on their location and limit changes to retiree benefits, the business coalition said in a letter being sent to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio. “These provisions will raise costs for both employers and employees without improving quality or efficiency,” the businesses said. The letter takes companies’ involvement in the health-care debate “up a level” after they previously had stuck with broad statements of support for an overhaul or let trade associations speak for them, said Julius Hobson, a senior policy adviser at Bryan Cave LLP in Washington. “There was a realization that in all likelihood, Congress is going to pass something,” Hobson said in an interview yesterday. “Businesses are trying to make sure it doesn’t harm them.” The letter to the House leaders is to be sent today, said Martin Reiser, chairman of the National Coalition on Benefits, a Washington group that gathered the signatures. Reiser is also a manager of government policy for Norwalk, Connecticut-based Xerox. Among those signing are organizations such as the National Retail Federation, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and companies including AT&T Inc., Eastman Kodak Co., Deere & Co. , and Dow Chemical Co.
This has a lot of "may require" wording because the 3 House bills and I don't know how many Senate bills are all moving targets.