Posts Tagged 'medicare'

Obamacare, an obvious failure

I’ve been bombarded with requests for money.  The list is endless.  Congressional Democrats, Senatorial Democrats,  Bold Progressives,  Not So Bold Democrats, Generic Democrats, Name Democrats, Would Be Democrats, and Obama himself…so many that I have lost the ability to differentiate between them.  My Outlook “Deleted Items” folder is brimming with their e-mails.

I tried to escape them by watching the news this morning.  Charlie Rangel appeared in an interview on MSNBC.  “Don’t you think it’s a bit ingenuous of politicians to be trying to capitalize on the current government shutdown by reaching out to their base for political donations?”  the lovely interviewer asked.  “It’s shameful” said Charlie.  Given Charlie’s brushes with various financial scandals, I might say that’s like the pot calling the kettle black, but then that might be kind of racist, I guess.

But the most astounding request for access to my wallet graced my in-box early this morning.  It was from the National Republican Congressional Committee. ..

Here’s your chance to tell Obama he’s wrong.  Obama and the Senate Democrats have made a huge mistake by shutting down the government in order to protect ObamaCare.

In fact, the websites that run ObamaCare went live this morning and are already broken! Chip in $25, $50, or even $100 today and we will add your name open letter to President Obama.

And we’ll make sure he gets it tonight – because there’s no time to waste.
Hurry, you only have a couple of hours left.

Talk about chutzpah.  Talk about short-term memory.  Forty-three times the House voted to repeal (not delay, not fix) Obamacare.  When that didn’t pan out, the great emancipators attached de-funding of Obamacare to the budget bill.  When that seemed a non-starter, they voted to delay the program for a year, remove contraception coverage and deep-six the tax on medical devices.  When that went into the shitter, they voted to remove the cornerstone of the program…the individual mandate and, for good measure, strip government employees of health care subsidies.  That too suffered from the Senate’s studied disregard.  Then, with barely an hour left before shutdown, Speaker Boehner calls for a conference committee with the Senate to iron things out, something that the Senate had been proposing for over six months.  So, come again, who was it that shut down the government?

On to the second point of the Republican e-mail donation request.  The Obamacare insurance exchanges have been open for about twelve hours.  Handling the volume of requests for information and enrollment has lived up to its pre-opening hype.  Shoddy at best.  In many instances bearing a marked resemblance to the Keystone Kops.  A make it up as you go project.  Which reminded me of Barney Tresnowski.

In 1966 I went to work for the Blue Cross Association in Chicago.  The Medicare law had just been passed and the Association was selected as the intermediary to process claims and handle other administrative aspects of the law.  Wandering through the Association’s Michigan Avenue offices, I bumped into Barney who had just been hired as the Association’s Medicare Coordinator.  His office was about as large as a phone booth, barely big enough to fit his somewhat teddy bear sized body.  An amiable guy with a keen mind augmented by a master’s degree in public health, his job was to coordinate the activities of multiple Blue Cross plans across the country as they tried to uniformly administer the new Medicare law and interpret its daily scattergun blasts of explanatory regulations.

Behind Barney’s desk and cramping his ability to lean back in his swivel chair was a waist high radiator.  Piled on top of the radiator, in no particular order, was a blizzard of government documents.  Each of those documents attempted to explain a particular provision of the law and provide often unintelligible directions.  I asked Barney how he could, without much visible means of support, deal with the daily deluge of sometimes contradictory instructions.  “Mirrors, we do it all with mirrors.”

Things went from bad to worse.  There were multiple Congressional hearings that blasted the administration of the program, and cries of incompetence and failure rang through the halls.  Funny thing though, Barney went on to become the president of the Association for thirteen years and, as the now famous Charlton Heston saying goes, “I’ll give you my Medicare benefits when you can pry them from my cold, dead hands.”

And that’s what Republicans fear most.  Another Barney Tresnowski who will make Obamacare work.  Another Barney Tresnowski who will recognize the value of the program and its potential impact on the millions who, without it, would be doomed to continue their unassisted search through the great wasteland of health care and suffer financial ruin as they exhaust their savings in pursuit of it.

But the last few sentences of my Republican donation request are the most telling.  Time is short.  There’s no time to waste.  There’s only a couple of hours left.  Yes, it’s true.  Only a short time left to kill the beast before it’s house-trained.  Only a short time before millions recognize the value of a program that can bring some order to the provision of health care and make their lives less tenuous and more comfortable.  And then it will indeed be too late.  Too late to kill it.  But not too late for us to remember.

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.”



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