Archive for March, 2010

Medicare, why that’s a whole different thing

I drove the bus yesterday.  A warm day filled with the sight of blazing blossoms, green hills and the sound of birds.  The morning after the passage of health care reform.  A day to be thankful for.

And then I bumped into Ralph.  Sitting in the Little House lobby in his usual personality-plus mode, I stopped for some banter.  The subject quickly turned to the health care reform bill.  “What did you think of what went on yesterday?”

With a touch of pique “Awful.  It’s going to cost a fortune.  And for what?”

Cloaking myself in my social justice mode, “Well, 32 million more people will have some insurance.  And folks won’t be cast into the void when they lose their jobs and can’t get coverage because they have cancer.”  Not good enough for Ralph.

Mike, another regular, was sitting close by and joined in.  “Wait til the tax man comes and takes whatever you have left to pay for this thing.  You’ll be singing a different tune.  This thing is a disaster.”

Knowing full-well they do,  I asked “You guys have Medicare?”

Ralph jumped, “Of course, but I pay for it.”

I asked, “And just how do you do that?”  A period of silence.

“Tell you what”, I said.  “You give up your Medicare benefits, take the money you save, and use it to buy Blue Cross coverage.”  Another period of silence.

“And, if you do that, I’ll march in the next Tea Party parade…with a big poster telling folks to shit-can health care reform.”  Permanent silence.

“Let’s have lunch.”

An Open Letter to Congressman Elton Gallegly

Dear Congressman Gallegly,

I realize that you will probably vote against the Health Care Reform bill.  However, I wanted you to know how much I think we need it…even if it is flawed.

As the only industrialized country in the world without a national health care program, as a nation whose health care costs are rising faster than those of other countries, as we are unable to demonstrate longer life or better health than they can, and as nearly 40 million of our citizens are without insurance protection, something is desperately needed.  Now, not later.

You should also know that you and your colleagues have squandered a historic opportunity to have been part of a united coalition to solve this health care crisis.  And, through placing political ambitions above the common good, have missed the chance to produce an even better solution than the one before us.

It is unfortunate that I, your other constituents and 40 million more Americans will be unable to point to you and say “He helped, he did his part.  Thank you Elton.”

Nevetheless, this bill will pass and you will have missed your chance.

Thank you.

The Real Evil of Health Care Reform

Another deadline looms.  Another opportunity to pass health care reform.  Another chance to blow it.  But after reading Saturday’s front page of the world’s greatest newspaper, the Ventura Star, maybe blowing it is in our best interests.

Dark Side of Health Reform  the banner screamed out at me.  Expecting to read something nefarious, like death panels, I plunged into the article by Tom Kisken.  It was indeed dark.  Dark and dastardly.  A “Tan Tax” for those who, like Congressman Boehner, can’t get enough UV rays from the sun and who seek out their fair share of melanomas from the hundred thousand or so tanning booths hiding within the dark recesses of our mini-malls and the back alleys of America.

Yes, Obama’s health care plan threatens to put the kabosh on tanning booths by putting a 10% tax on the services rendered by them.  Like cigarettes, the Democrats have found a steady source of income from the bronzers who just can’t kick the habit.  Tom goes on to tell us that the tax would raise $2.7 billion over the next ten years, assuming we all haven’t fried our skins naturally because of global warming, plastic bags and aliens from another planet who prematurely destroy our ozone layer.

Andrew Soto, a melanoma devotee, wasn’t impressed with the tax even if it is levied on an activity that might very well kill him.  I don’t think that’s cool, he said, noting that natural light can cause cancer too. Why don’t they charge everyone, because of the sun?  Good point, Andy.

And just in case that doesn’t convince you of how wrong-headed Obama’s health plan is, newsman Tom notes the economic pressures these salons already face because of the recession.  Many of them are run by small, independent entrepreneurs — husbands and wives or mothers and daughters…If the customer doesn’t want to pay a tax on tanning and they don’t come in, there’s another small business in California that will close, said Chris Talbot, co-owner of the CTZZZZ Ultimate Tan in Ventura.  And the bronzer will have to settle for sunning at the beach and smoking Camels.

Gosh.  Who knew?  When I think of all the time I’ve spent writing about the importance of health care reform.  When I think of the facts, figures and the forty million that don’t have coverage.  When I think of all the CNN,  PBS and NPR health care programs I’ve absorbed.  When I realize the absurdity of those overly-detailed NY Times articles that laid out the issue clearly and, wink-wink, left little doubt as to the need for reform.  When I think of the seven agonizing hours that I spent watching Obama’s Health Care Summit.  What a waste.

Yes, it’s all laid out in a nutshell by the Star.  The Tan Tax is another example of our government run amok.  Balancing the outrageous costs of health care reform on the backs of those whose only crime is that they seek UV rays and a dark skin.  It’s a damn good thing I read the world’s greatest newspaper.



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