Wordplay Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone and happy new year! Well, by now, you know what 7DayBuzz does on Wednesdays — yep Wordplay Wednesday!

Here are the newsworthy topics. Remember, try to keep your comments to 5 words and…….have fun!

1. Which one of the Williams Sisters is the best?  Serena or Venus?  I would say Venus, but her focus isn’t there unless it is Wimbledon.

2.  Do you know what the Apple tablet, or iPad, is yet and have you considered buying one?

3.  Now that health care reform has stalled, do you think it will ever happen since the Mass. Senate seat is not controlled by the Republican party?

4.  What can be said about those who thought President Obama was a socialist?

5.  If we can’t depend on Toyota to produce safe transportation, who can we depend on?

WordPlay Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone and happy new year!  Well, by now, you know what 7DayBuzz does on Wednesdays — yep Wordplay Wednesday!

Here are the newsworthy topics.  Remember, try to keep your comments to 5 words and…….have fun!

  1. Tiger Woods.  Why?  What?  How?
  2. What is your opinion on President Obama’s response to the failed terrorist attack on Christmas in comparison to (former, it feels good to say) President Bush’s response to 9/11?
  3. Should we have health care reform or leave things the way they are?  It is easy to criticize what is on the table without offering an alternate solution so this is more about standing pat versus making a change.
  4. Do you know what the Nexus One is?  If so, do you think it will have any impact in 2010?
  5. I would like someone to weigh in on the movie Avatar.  Is this movie as good as the box office indicates?

Health Care Reform Terms You Should Know

Nobody I personally know works in congress or the senate.  Therefore, I don’t know anyone who is making money through lobbyists for their daily actions and votes.  Working for these institutions seems to be more of a money grab than a position where you represent the American public.  Political party affiliation doesn’t matter; on the outside and until proven otherwise, politicians are shady characters.

Cash For Cloture – The official name is H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  But this week, it has acquired an unhelpful nickname: “Cash for Cloture.”

Cloture is the legislative term for cutting off debate and holding a final vote.  The term came from the fact that a closer look at the bill uncovers man backroom deals that were made to secure the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture.  I would say this isn’t surprising at all given the (un) ethical behaviors in our government.

Louisiana Purchase – $100 million in extra Medicaid money for the Bayou State, requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

Cornhusker Kickback – $100 million in extra Medicaid money, this time for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).

U Con – Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) had $100 million written into legislature for a medical center in his state.  Earlier, when GOP staff member mistakenly thought the medical center was destined for Indiana rather than Connecticut, they named it the “Bayh Off” for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

Botax – Democratic leaders had a tax in the bill that created an appearance problem.  Fortunately, they had removed from the bill the tax on cosmetic procedures (the “Botax”) and replaced it with a tax on tanning (which would primarily impact House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio).

Handout Montana – Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) secured Medicare coverage for anybody exposed to asbestos — as long as they worked in a mine in Libby, Mont.

Gator Aid – Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) inserted a grandfather clause that would allow Floridians to preserve their pricey Medicare Advantage program.

Iowa Pork and Omaha Prime Cuts – Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) won more Medicare money for low-volume hospitals of the sort commonly found in Iowa, while Nebraska’s Nelson won a “carve out” provision that would reduce fees for Mutual of Omaha and other Nebraska insurers.

“I don’t know if there is a senator that doesn’t have something in this bill that was important to them,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reasoned when asked at a news conference Monday about the cash-for-cloture accusation.  “And if they don’t have something in it important to them, then it doesn’t speak well of them.”

I wish we, the general public, could see through the facade and know how much money each one of these politicians will make because of health care reform.  It would be extremely naive at this point to think they are doing this without the possibility of personal gain.  It would also be naive to assume this all started in late January, when Obama became president.  Obama’s presidency is raising awareness because people are taking notice and paying attention for various “reasons.”  If we were paying attention for the past 100 years maybe things would be different.  As it stands, we may have traded one problem for another one and only time will show the better of two evils.


What Does The Public Option Mean Today?

Contrary to popular belief, the public option is not the entirety of the health care reform proposal in congress, or what President Obama proposed on the campaign trail as a fix for our broken health care system.  Health care reform includes everything needed to begin controlling health care costs, access to health care for all, and improved healthcare.

The public option is a plan.  For those who don’t have insurance provided by an employer, or for small businesses who want to buy a plan at an affordable rate, the bills would create a Health Exchange – a one-stop shopping market for health care.  Any private insurance company could offer a plan in the Exchange, but they’d have to adhere to certain standards:

  • There would be a minimum set of benefits for all plans, no one could be turned down on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
  • There would be guaranteed renewal of policies (no dumping a customer because they got sick.)
  • You would not be charged a different price because of gender, health status or type of employment.
  • You would be charged a different rate for age, but it would be more restricted than the Wild West of premium rates today.
  • If you couldn’t afford the full premium and you made less than 400% of the federal poverty line (about $43,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of 4), you’d get a subsidy so your premium would be pegged to a fixed percentage of your income.
  • Everyone would have a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. And finally,
  • All of the information and presentation would be transparent — you would be able to compare standard benefits across companies to find the one that works for you.

Although these bills keep changing, Congressional leaders who were opposed to supporting a bill including a public option have decided they will support such a bill.  However, the public option has been changed to the point where it may actually be better for us all.  Bypassing public trust issues, is a progressively watered-down public option preferable to a Medicare expansion combined with a national non-profit insurance plan similar to the one offered to federal employees, regulated by the Office of Personnel Management?

Bernie Sanders, one of the leading advocates of the public option, is now arguing that these proposals combined “may be stronger than the very weak public options that both the House and the Senate have already passed.”

Health care reform must expand access to include as many as of the 46 million uninsured Americans as possible.  What has been proposed to this point will move us towards this goal. 

Also, reform must create competition and reduced costs.  Reaching this goals via a government-ran system is what has ruffled many feathers.  It is something that is necessary and of course the government will suggest a government solution.

Every solution on the table thus far could be described as suboptimal, but we need a change.  Too much time and energy have been spent opposing health care reform simply because of who is proposing it.  That energy would be better spent offering alternative solutions.  Isn’t that part of complaining 101?  Someone who constantly complains should have an alternative solution.  Otherwise, shut up and get in line.

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