Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Healthcare Power Grab

I am definitely not a quitter, but I am a realistic sort when it comes to federal politics. Don't get me wrong, I still have some type of idealistic hope for state and local politics...but the federal level people still want a big federal government, no matter what ideology they profess. Their policies are self-perpetuating and self-important. That kind of power is intoxicating and a hard one to give up....once again, that intoxication is on both sides of the fence.

So I guess I am resigned to the fact that some type of HR 3200 will pass the federal legislature and be signed into law by our callowly persistent (or deviously groomed) President. We have given that power to people who have the tenacity and perverse tactical warfare mentality to make it all costs and against the wishes of the majority of their constituents. When you pull that lever at election time, it does have its consequences.

So now what...

Although this will not be the final product, I have read over the initial HR3200 (all 1018 pages of it) and it took my breath away. I see beautiful, feel good prose with great big holes left for interpretation and power grabbing opportunities. As I have always said about legislation of any type, the devil is in the details. I have seen state entities take seemingly "good" legislation and use it for their own dynastic purposes. "Legally" they can do it because of how the legislation is written and let me tell you, process reversal is a hell of alot harder than you think. I guess that is why there are so many lawyers in office or in positions of power. The person who knows the most rules(or knows how to use the rules)wins.

I received an email yesterday from a doctor who took the time to review HR3200 as I did. This is how he perceived the legislative double-speak. And yes, I double checked the references and they are dead-on in the bill.

Whatever we Americans finally end up with in this Healthcare Power Grab debacle, I can bet the farm we will see similiar storylines emerge.

Is he right?

Page 22 of the HC Bill: Mandates that the Govt will audit books of all employers that self-insure!!

Page 30 Sec 123 of HC bill: THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benefits you get.

Page 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill: YOUR HEALTH CARE IS RATIONED!!!

Page 42 of HC Bill: The Health Choices Commissioner will choose your HC benefits for you. You have no choice!

Page 50 Section 152 in HC bill: HC will be provided to ALL non-US citizens, illegal or otherwise.

Page 58 HC Bill: Govt will have real-time access to individuals' finances & a 'National ID Health card' will be issued!

Page 59 HC Bill lines 21-24: Govt will have direct access to your bank accounts for elective funds transfer.

Page 65 Sec 164: Is a payoff subsidized plan for retirees and their families in unions & community organizations: (ACORN).

Page 84 Sec 203 HC bill: Govt mandates ALL benefit packages for private HC plans in the 'Exchange.'

Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans -- The Govt will ration your health care!

Page 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill: Govt mandates linguistic appropriate services. (Translation: illegal aliens.)

Page 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18: The Govt will use groups (i.e. ACORN & Americorps to sign up individuals for Govt HC plan.

Page 85 Line 7 HC Bill: Specifications of Benefit Levels for Plans. (AARP members - your health care WILL be rationed!)
Page 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill: Medicaid eligible individuals will be automatically enrolled in Medicaid.. (No choice.)

Page 12 4 lines 24-25 HC: No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No "judicial review" against Govt monopoly.

Page 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill: Doctors/ American Medical Association - The Govt will tell YOU what salary you can make.

Page 145 Line 15-17: An Employer MUST auto-enroll employees into public option plan. (NO choice!)

Page 126 Lines 22-25: Employers MUST pay for HC for part-time employees AND their families. (Employees shouldn't get excited about this as employers will be forced to reduce its work force, benefits, and wages/salaries to cover such a huge expense.)

Page 149 Lines 16-24: ANY Employer with payroll 401k & above who does not provide public option will pay 8% tax on all payroll! (See the last comment in parenthesis.)
Page 150 Lines 9-13: A business with payroll between $251K & $401K who doesn't provide public option will pay 2-6% tax on all payroll.

Page 167 Lines 18-23: ANY individual who doesn't have acceptable HC according to Govt will be taxed 2.5% of income.

Page 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill: Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from individual taxes. (Americans will pay.)

Page 195 HC Bill: Officers & employees of the GOVT HC Admin.. will have access to ALL Americans' finances and personal records.

Page 203 Line 14-15 HC: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." (Yes, it really says that!)

Page 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill: Govt will reduce physician services for Medicaid Seniors. (Low-income and the poor are affected.)

Page 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill: Doctors: It doesn't matter what specialty you have trained yourself in -- you will all be paid the same! (Just TRY to tell me that's not Socialism!)

Page 253 Line 10-18: The Govt sets the value of a doctor's time, profession, judgment, etc. (Literally-- the value of humans.)

Page 265 Sec 1131: The Govt mandates and controls productivity for "private" HC industries.

Page 268 Sec 1141: The federal Govt regulates the rental and purchase of power driven wheelchairs.

Page 272 SEC. 1145: TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS - Cancer patients - welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151: The Govt will penalize hospitals for whatever the Govt deems preventable (

Page 298 Lines 9-11: Doctors: If you treat a patient during initial admission that results in a re-admission -- the Govt will penalize you.

Page 317 L 13-20: PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. (The Govt tells doctors what and how much they can own!)

Page 317-318 lines 21-25, 1-3: PROHIBITION on expansion. (The Govt is mandating that hospitals cannot expand.)
Page 321 2-13: Hospitals have the opportunity to apply for exception BUT community input is required. (Can you say ACORN?)

Page 335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339: The Govt mandates establishment of=2 outcome-based measures. (HC the way they want -- rationing.)
Page 341 Lines 3-9: The Govt has authority to disqualify Medicare Advance Plans, HMOs, etc. (Forcing people into the Govt plan)

Page 354 Sec 1177: The Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of 'special needs people!' Unbelievable!

Page 379 Sec 1191: The Govt creates more bureaucracy via a "Tele-Health Advisory Committee." (Can you say HC by phone?)

Page 425 Lines 4-12: The Govt mandates "Advance-Care Planning Consult." (Think senior citizens end-of-life patients.)

Page 425 Lines 17-19: The Govt will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. (And it's mandatory!)

Page 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3: The Govt provides an "approved" list of end-of-life resources; guiding you in death. (Also called 'assisted suicide.')

Page 427 Lines 15-24: The Govt mandates a program for orders on "end-of-life." (The Govt has a say in how your life ends!)

Page 429 Lines 1-9: An "advanced-care planning consultant" will be used frequently as a patient's health deteriorates.

Page 429 Lines 10-12: An "advanced care consultation" may include an ORDER for end-of-life plans.. (AN ORDER TO DIE FROM THE GOVERNMENT?!?)

Page 429 Lines 13-25: The GOVT will specify which doctors can write an end-of-life order.. (I wouldn't want to stand before God after getting paid for THAT job!)

Page 430 Lines 11-15: The Govt will decide what level of treatment you will have at end-of-life! (Again -- no choice!)

Page 469: Community-Based Home Medical Services = Non-Profit Organizations. (Hello? ACORN Medical Services here!?!)

Page 489 Sec 1308: The Govt will cover marriage and family therapy. (Which means Govt will insert itself into your marriage even.)

Page 494-498: Govt will cover Mental Health Services including defining, creating, and rationing those services.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Education vs Job Creation

First and foremost, I truly believe an educated workforce is a top priority in our state and in our nation. But let's look at the mechanics of it a little more closely.

I am considering going back to school and pursue a law degree. Do we need more lawyers? Probably not. But in my field, the knowledge of law is a very important tool in the toolbelt. I repeat, knowledge is a very useful tool.

However, if this consideration becomes reality, I will use this knowledge to be a better entrepreneur. I truly think America's greatest gift to us is the ability to own our own business or be self-employed. In my opinion, that is the American Dream.

My concern then, on the political front, is the roadblocks that seem to be popping up and the direction our nation is moving.

This blog entry from Stacey Campfield sums it up pretty well.

Education and jobs or independence and growth?

George Korda does an interesting article on the need for education in being the lynch pin to get good paying jobs. While he makes many great points (As usual) I tend to see the need in areas bigger then education.

What? Impossible you say? Education is the end all be all for a good future and life. Right?

Well, lets do some math. In the article it talks about how 40,000 people had already applied for a job at the new VW plant. 100,000 were expected to try and fill the 2,000 positions. Probably the known stipulation that a two year diploma was required to get a job kept some away.

Fine. Lets just say at least half of them knew and fit the requirement going in. No, Lets make it even harder then that. Lets say only one in ten had the requirement. Even though Tennessee has a much higher college graduation rate then that (it is in the mid 20's) we still have at least 4,000 well educated and qualified people to fill 2,000 job openings and that is an absolute minimum. I would expect it is more like half to two thirds knew and have the education and qualifications to fit the bill. That is more like ten people trying to fill every position. If we double the number of college graduates or even tripled it, would that suddenly in and of itself produce more jobs? No. You would just have 8,000 or 12,000 qualified and educated people trying to fill those same 2,000 jobs. Lack of a good education is obviously not the only thing holding people back from a good future.

The problem is clearly more a lack of jobs no matter what the qualifications are. Not the lack for educated people to fill those positions. What are we competing against? places like India, China and Japan who have an innovative, educated workforce willing to work at the same type job for pennies on the dollar compared to US employees.

This leaves us a few alternatives. Raise barriers to foreign imports? If we do that a few things will happen. The world will do the same thing to some of our goods. We would loose the high end products we have been selling overseas but would gain back the low end textile product manufacturing we lost. A mixed bag.

Increase taxes on foreign owned companies or products sold in the U.S.? We would loose some of the foreign owned employers who employ large numbers of people such as VW, Toyota and others, but it would probably allow the US owned companies to bounce back a little. Expect the same thing to happen back to our world wide brands as well. a mixed bag.

Lower our standard of living, minimum wage and regulation to compete with the foreign factories over seas? (not something most politicos want to put on a mail piece for their next election) A mixed bag.

Lastly. The one many people seem to never talk about is creating or growing our own market and brands. America is full of independent, intelligent, hard working people. The problem is we have gotten into a mind set of thinking we need someone else to give us a job. That having a job in a big factory is the American dream. That is the ultimate goal now.

When did that happen? It used to be owning the factory, being the employer or the boss was the American dream!

I think all this talk about "Evil profits", class warfare and the "terrible big boss" have made us think that achievement is somehow bad. That, heaven forbid we ever start a company and succeed we might make money and have employees! What would the world think of us then? "Better not climb too high or dream too big. Might have people attack you and call you names. You'll get taxed and regulated more. Better just get an education and hope to get on at some factory job."

That kind of negative talk has to stop or we are in big trouble as a nation. What has to happen more then anything, is just like what happened when baseball became a battle of the "haves" and the "have nots". We need to look to starting up or reinvigorating our farm team system. We need to incentivize business ownership and entrepreneurship. Reward it. Let it profit, champion those who work, innovate, succeed and grow. Remove barriers and the stigma of starting businesses.

Education is great and yes, it is an important part. But if we do not start developing our own next generation of inventors or business people like Henry Ford (who they say couldn't print his own name) then no matter how educated we are, we will be in trouble. Our governors and presidents will forever be recruiting factories overseas. We will forever be begging for scraps off another mans table instead of dining at our own banquet of success.

I wish our guber candidates, instead of always talking about how with a new super educated student what a great foreign job recruiter they will suddenly be, would once in a while talk about how they will start motivating, incentivizing our own people and companies to start, expand and stay here.