Tag: Safety Net

Senate’s Conrad Cashes Out

North Dakota “Democratic” Senator Kent Conrad, 62, has announced he is not going to run for re election in 2012. He is the current majority Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.   He is also on Agriculture Nutrition Forestry, Finance, and Indian Affairs committees.  Kent Conrad


Conrad said he would serve out his term.

“Although I will not seek re-election, my work is not done,” Conrad said in his statement. “I will continue to do my level best for both North Dakota and the nation.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

He says he’s going to spend his remaining time and energy trying to reduce the national debt and dependence on foreign oil.  And working on a Farm Bill.  http://www.valleynewslive.com/…

Senator Kent Conrad’s legacy will include recommending former OMB head Peter Orszag for his White House position early in the Obama administration (Orszag sharing Conrad’s curious blind spot on what drives the deficit, see more of that here: https://docudharma.com/diar…    ) , being a phony “deficit hawk,”  who couldn’t see anything wrong with increased military budgets and decreasing domestic needs being met, and opposing the Public Option during the Health Care reform legislative battle. Voting for reducing the payroll tax that funds Social Security, and for continuing the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthiest in Dec of 2010 during the Lame Duck Session.  http://www.thestate.com/2010/1…    Oh, and being part of that Democratic Senate Supermajority of 2009 That Didn’t Do Any Energy Policy, Global Climate Change,  or Tax Code Changes.  Other than a lot of stimulus money got earmarked for “research.”

Kent Conrad was also on the President Obama Deficit (“Catfood Commision”) Committee of 2010, which called for cuts in Medicare and Social Security.


“You know, a certain amount of this is shock therapy,” Conrad said. “There are different options and, of course, what everybody has fastened on is the most extreme of the options. But, look, the important thing for people to know is that we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. That’s utterly unsustainable. It can’t continue much longer, so it’s got to be dealt with.”



“Fundamentally, if we’re going to raise revenue, I don’t think the way to do it is to raise rates. I think the way to do it is to eliminate some of the loopholes that exist in the system,” the senator said.  

November 14, 2010.  Kent Conrad in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on “This Week” about the Deficit Commission

http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek…

The ‘Elephant of Debt’ in Alan Simpson’s Entitlement Room

Bipartisan Elephants, Endless Debt and Entitlements, Cats without Food … Oh My!

What IS all this fuss about?

Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 rants.

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE – CBO

The Long-Term Budget Outlook

JUNE 2010 – (Revised August 2010)



larger

Image: Federal Debt Held by the Public as a Percentage of Gross Domestic Product

Under Two Budget Scenarios

CBO — The Long-Term Budget Outlook (pdf)

OK sometimes not … What does that Picture mean to me?

2035, Haah!  that’s like a quarter century from now …  you got to be kidding me …

Health Care Reform Starts with Those Who Are Willing to Change Existing Policies

I again write today about what has become a completely inadvertent, but nonetheless growing series of personal anecdotes which reveal both the depths of our broken medical system and the shocking limitations and abuses of a system of social services designed to care for the poor and disabled.  In so doing, I have uncovered a tremendous number of objectionable practices that would never be considered acceptable among the more fortunate.  Established policies designed to assist and give comfort instead punish the genuinely needy.  For example, in the process of applying for a variety of safety net programs, I have been threatened with complete termination of coverage if I didn’t follow every step exactly as requested and in a supremely timely, if not obsessively punctual fashion.  In some states and municipalities this sort of conduct would be not just be bad form, it would also be against regulations.  Not here.  

In the District of Columbia, no one apparently sees the problem in treating low-income and disabled residents like criminals.  To make my case once more, let me provide a bit of backdrop.  The District is a very unusual place in lots of ways.  Though technically it is merely the physical location for the seat of national government, it is governed as a kind of odd mix between a state and a city.  Like most American cities, its population consists of an often uncomfortable combination of the affluent and educated, most of whom are relatively financially secure whites, and a core of heavily impoverished and undereducated residents who are usually black.  If DC were a state, and much larger based on surface area alone, there would be more of a middle ground between the have-everythings and the have-nothings, but this is simply not the case here.        

The District contains its own particular system of distributing food stamps, low-income medical insurance, prescription drug coverage, and providing disability benefits to those unable to work.  In roughly six months of trying to work a system that is both ridiculously ineffective and unnecessarily complex, what I have come to realize is that it is also a system based on punitive retribution, which is neither fair to applicants nor particularly effective to everyone.  With every step of the process, regardless of what it might be this time, the necessary paperwork I was provided screamed out in bold, block letters, often capitalized lest I overlook it, that I better fill this latest form out perfectly and as soon as possible, else I’d find myself without anything at all.

The existing system itself is so unwieldy that I have often been provided incorrect, or at best inexact information.  I don’t fault those who gave me wrong information because learning all the particulars takes months, if not years, and turnover in social service agencies is often quite constant based on the fact that the job promises low pay and high stress.  I was, for instance, told that I would only need to re-apply for food stamps once every six months.  However, within two months I received a letter in the mail, one printed so cheaply and faintly that often reading the words was a challenge, specifying that I needed to re-certify how much income I was currently making, else I be denied next month’s allotment.  The return envelope was just as difficult to read and after affixing a stamp to cover the cost of postage, I took the time to write out by hand the return address, else some postal carrier not be able to discern its destination.  

The implication of this was quite clear.  The instant I could be have my monthly allocation reduced, or even trimmed from the rolls altogether, the better.  I do certainly recognize that we’ve all been hurting and will continue to suffer so long as this recession, or at least the lingering effects of it doggedly persist, but I hardly think the solution is in weeding out those who depend on these services, particularly since so many of them are the very definition of working poor with their own children and families to support.  When I had the benefit of an increased income and decent benefits, no one ever made me certify that I still needed them.  I was trusted, for the most part, to not abuse the system.  Now, I am automatically suspect.

The low-income health care coverage I use via the District’s own program is sufficient, but hardly convenient.  After filing for disability, I assumed once granted it that I would also receive Medicaid.  Medicaid, while it certainly contains its own limitations, still provides a greater sphere of coverage than the DC program.  Medicaid would allow me to have my prescriptions filled at a conventional pharmacy like a CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens, whereas the only way to get my medications via the other coverage plan is to visit the sole pharmacy in the District that stocks the drugs I require on a daily basis to maintain my health.  It is located in a tremendously inconvenient part of town to get to, based on where I live, and it takes thirty to forty-five minutes via public transportation to arrive.  Often I end up expending the better part of a morning from start to finish once one factors in sitting in a waiting room, trying to be patient while the drugs are filled.  As it turns out, no one told me that according to District-only procedure I needed to apply for Medicaid separately and go through another time-consuming process.  Of course, this is a means of saving money and reducing cost on their part, but in my opinion, it is silly to assume that someone who is DISABLED and has to subsist on a minimal monthly allowance wouldn’t need basic health insurance as well.

To chalk this up to something as relatively straightforward as racism, classism, abelism, or the like would only be confronting a small sliver of a larger problem.  I fault those who set policy in the first place, whomever that might be.  To return to my own struggles once more, I believed originally (and even wrote in an earlier entry) that one of my medications was available to be filled at the low-income on-site pharmacy, though there was often a substantial delay in getting it in stock.  As it turns out, I was once again told wrongly.  The drug is not stocked at all because with it comes the threat of a hypertensive crisis if very specific dietary restrictions are not adhered to exactingly.  Obviously, no one wants the bad press or potential lawsuits that might transpire if a patient had one of these (or if, God forbid, he or she died as a result), and this goes for doctor and District government alike.  But to be deathly afraid of litigation, regardless of how baseless it might be doesn’t so much reflect upon a problematic legal system as a complete lack of basic trust and compassion for our fellow beings.  We could make sure that frivolous malpractice lawsuits were minimal, but unless we get to the reason why people file them in the first place, any legislation passed into law will not achieve its purpose.

Returning again to my medical situation, the particular medication I take is absolutely essential to assure my continued basic functionality and it works so well that the difference between not being on it and being on it is like night and day.  That I am able to manage the restrictions competently speaks partially to my willful desire to stay healthy, but also that I am educated enough to recognize what foods I need to avoid and to do my research accordingly.  The assumption in not stocking the med, regardless of whether or not it could really help someone in need, is that a person with barely a high school diploma, having grown up in utter squalor and with all the problems that result from it might not have the same capacity and level of personal responsibility as me.  Yet again, here we have a punitive, blanket response when basic compassion and an examination of people on a case-by-case basis would be much more effective.  Once more, we opt for the quick fix instead of really examining the full picture.              

As for whether Congress will pass health care legislation, I’ll leave that never-ending speculation to someone else for today, at least.  What I do know is that whatever reform measures we pass will need to take into account whether we treat fellow human beings as numbers, money drains, or as only waiting for the next opportunity to take a mile once we grant them an inch.  We certainly don’t seem to wish to grant anyone who we perceive as other than us the most basic of trust, nor do we take into account that all humans make mistakes, are fallible, and aren’t perfect.  We read about drive-by-shootings, petty crime, and drug deals and think that anyone born into such circumstances must be guilty by association.  Fifty-two years after the film Twelve Angry Men was released, we’re still stuck in that same way of thinking.

 

Juror #8: Look, this kid’s been kicked around all of his life. You know, born in a slum. Mother dead since he was nine. He lived for a year and a half in an orphanage when his father was serving a jail term for forgery. That’s not a very happy beginning. He’s a wild, angry kid, and that’s all he’s ever been. And you know why, because he’s been hit on the head by somebody once a day, every day. He’s had a pretty miserable eighteen years. I just think we owe him a few words, that’s all.

  Juror #10: I don’t mind telling you this, mister. We don’t owe him a thing. He got a fair trial, didn’t he? What do you think that trial cost? He’s lucky he got it. You know what I mean? Now look, we’re all grown-ups in here. We heard the facts, didn’t we? You’re not gonna tell me that we’re supposed to believe this kid, knowing what he is. Listen, I’ve lived among them all my life. You can’t believe a word they say. You know that. I mean, they’re born liars.

  Juror #9: Only an ignorant man can believe that… Do you think you were born with a monopoly on the truth?

Doctor tells Congress all, about Health Care Denials

Doctor Linda Peeno, a renown expert in the field of “Managed Care”, explains to Congress the dirty little secrets behind the Business of Health Care Denial:

Doctor Linda Peeno, a renown expert in the field of “Managed Care”, explains to Congress the dirty little secrets behind the Business of Health Care Denial:

THE REAL DEATH PANELS: Insurance Companies That Deny Care



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Linda Peeno, M.D.

In the spring of 1987, as a Physician, I denied a man a necessary operation, that would have saved his life. And thus caused his death. And I’m haunted by the thousands of pieces of paper, on which I have written that deadly word: Denied.

We did NOT Vote for Triggers — We DID Vote for …

Barack Obama , Feb 19, 2008

Well, The System’s Broken […] Certainly I don’t accept, in the richest county on Earth, that we should have 47 Million people without Health Insurance, and Millions of more people being bankrupted because of a Medical Bill.

[…]

As President of the United States, what I’ve proposed to do, is to make sure that we got a plan that covers ALL Americans.

[…]

The key to making this happen, is to overcome the resistance we’re going to see from Drug Companies, Insurance Companies, HMO’s. Over the last 10 years alone, Drug and Insurance Companies spent over $1 Billion, in preventing Health Care Reform from happening. That’s going to require then, a mobilization of energy among the American People, to insist on a Congress and a White House, that are actually going to deliver this time.

[…]

(emphasis added)

WWJD about Health Care? aka. Where are the Good Samaritans?

What would Jesus Do about Health Care?

Good Question.

Well it sounds, like he understood how Sick People need Doctors:

Mark 2:17 GWT

When Jesus heard that, he said to them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor; those who are sick do. I’ve come to call sinners, not people who think they have God’s approval.”

(emphasis added)

GOP Health Care Obstructionists, are you Listening???

The Pharisees, thought they were doing God’s work too.

Imagine their surprise when this upstart Carpenter, from the old neighborhood, dared to stand up to their blatant self-righteousness … and dish back to them some cold, hard truth …

They’re only numbers … the Unemployed, the Uninsured, the Unnecessary Deaths

Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies

By Theresa Tamkins — CNN, June 5, 2009

This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.

Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

1.5 million Americans x 60% = 900,000 Americans

that’s about 2500 more people per day

… going bankrupt from medical bills, which were NOT covered by our broken Health Insurance system