Posts

A prophet among us

I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t. My producer Bob Joyce pointed this one out and the more I thought about it, the more I realized he is right. Peggy Joseph is indeed a prophet among us. And you laughed. Ok, and I did too. Read more

Cavuto on Obama new school nutrition plan – obnoxious

Not to mention another aspect of government control. It’s a nice little debate with nutritionist Mitzi Dulan … and the outcome is predictable … but Cavuto is not. Please sir, may I have some more.

The story revolves around the first lady’s battle against obesity in our kids. Good enough, but too much control over what parents should be doing? I think so.

The Child Nutrition Bill would allocate 4.5 billion dollar over a decade to support school cafeterias and introduce new standards for food sold in schools, including in vending machines.
The legislation, if passed, would effectively allow the Agriculture Department to ban junk food in schools.

Here’s the debate. As Cavuto says … stop telling parents how to raise their kids.

Also for your enjoyment:

No worries Tea Party folks: Democrats just won’t learn … their funeral

I am stunned at how quickly the lessons of last night have been forgotten, or is it never learned? Just keep plowing ahead on the ultra liberal, big government, tax and spend agenda, and ignore the message from Democrats and independents in the Commonwealth. Read more

Playing the health care numbers game

If you thought health care insurance companies were all about the bottom line, and therefore, destroying health care in the United States, you best be aware of some of the alternatives – better described as lack of alternatives – provided by a government-run system.

David Gibberman over at American Thinker has an interesting article on the cost of so-called free government care. Gibberman hits the high points concerning why government health care does not work, and what changes would take place when you remove competition and incentive from the industry. Do read the full post, but I found this pretty interesting.

Patients Lose the Right To Decide What Treatment They’ll Receive. Instead, patients receive whatever care politicians and bureaucratic number crunchers decide is “cost effective.”

Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence [NICE] usually won’t approve a medical procedure or medicine unless its cost, divided by the number of quality-adjusted life years that it will give a patient, is no more than what it values a year of life in great health – £30,000 (about $44,820). So if you want a medical procedure that is expected to extend your life by four years but it costs $40,000 and bureaucrats decide that it will improve the quality of your life by 0.2 (death is zero, 1.0 is best possible health, and negative values can be assigned), you’re out of luck because $40,000 divided by 0.8 (4 X 0.2) is $50,000.

You read that correctly. Whether or not you get care – and what treatment you get – is based on a mathematical formula based on your expected life expectancy. In a government run system that offers no competition for services and almost no incentive to work in the system, this is what the operations managers must do to try to keep the services offered solvent.

Of course, their not doing a very good job with that either.

NICE’s job is to research and publish guidelines for health care professionals to help them determine if treatments are worth while – primarily determined by cost effectiveness.

Here’s a post from the Times Online discussing how NICE assesses a drug to see if it is worthwhile to administer to patients.

How does NICE assess drugs?
It works out how much the NHS must spend on them to achieve a defined benefit to patients. They are approved if they cost the NHS less than about £30,000 per quality adjusted life year (QALY).

That means for every £30,000 spent prescribing them, the benefit enjoyed by patients must add up to the equivalent of a single patient living an extra year of good-quality life.

How does it do it?
It often uses computer-based economic models designed by academics, which are fed with the trial data supplied by the companies and work out the cost per QALY. For Aricept the cost per QALY was between £50,000 and £90,000, depending on what assumptions were made about how it is used.

Does the use of the phrase computer-based economic models designed by academics make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Not.

One other example. (Note that I don’t remember all of the details) During a recent visit to Philadelphia, a friend from Canada had a mild heart attack. He was stabilized and had a couple of choices to make.

First, he needed to have the blockages cleared. He could go the cut-open-the-chest route or have the stents installed in a cath lab, a much less invasive procedure since they don’t cut your chest open. He also needed to decided if he was going to have the procedure in the United States or in Canada.

One thing that he told me was that if he did go back to Canada, they would cut him open and not go the cath lab route. He would not have a choice.

He stayed in Philadelphia for the procedure, was out of the hospital in days and has recovered. Luckily, he had health care insurance that covered him while he was traveling.

Be careful with what you hope for when it comes to “better and improved” health care. The change will not be what you expected.

GM bondholders get crappy deal – UAW better off

I have not had too much time to review the “deal” floated yesterday concerning the restructure of General Motors, but a friend sent me a link this morning to a Washington Post article providing some of the details.

I read part of it, and what caught my eye was that the government, bond holders and the union would all end up owning a percentage of the auto giant. The fed’s $27 billion investment would give them a 50 percent stake in the company. Bond holders with about the same invested would get a 10 percent stake. Finally, the United Auto Workers would get about 40 percent of the company in exchange for $10 billion of the health plan funding for retired workers.

Go back and read that paragraph again please. I’m serious.

I read the information in the article and nothing clicked, until Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air picked up on what I totally missed.

Does anyone at the Treasury do math any longer?  The total sacrifice of all three parties would be $64 billion, of which the federal government and the bondholders are contributing the same percentage: 42.2%.  The UAW will contribute about 15.6%.  Why would the Obama administration expect bondholders to contribute 42% of the solution in order to gain 10% of the company?

Here is the important notes from the Washington Post article. Read the full article.

He [White House press secretary Robert Gibbs] said the government “could have gotten nothing for something, or something for something” and that it insisted on a 50 percent stake to leave open the potential to recover some of the $18 billion the Treasury Department has already lent GM and the additional $9 billion that it would inject under the new plan. …

Under the proposed offering which GM filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, investors holding $27.2 billion of GM bonds would swap those bonds for 10 percent of the equity shares of the restructured company. The United Auto Workers would get up to 39 percent of the company in return for half of the $20 billion GM owes to a health fund for retired workers. Current shareholders would get 1 percent of the new shares.

I understand that GM made a deal with the unions about health care and other benefits. I too understand that those deals were unsustainable in the first place. This deal puts the union way ahead of the bondholders who provided capital to GM at a time of need.

This action will simply ensure that private investors will avoid helping companies like GM and be risk adverse. Why would you want to put your money into a situation where unions and the federal government have the ability to pull strings like this?

But remember – this is exactly what liberal politicians and many Democrats want. They want you to depend on the federal government. It is all about control.

Update: This story is starting to get noticed. From Hinderaker at Power Line

As we’ve said for a long time, the only way to bring transparency and the rule of law to the issues raised by the troubled automakers is through a bankruptcy proceeding. Instead of that, we have a national-socialist type top-down restructuring carried out by politicians to achieve political purposes. It is deeply ironic, with hindsight, that the Left used to accuse the Bush administration of “shredding the Constitution.”

This is exactly what I expected. Remember this post I wrote in the days after General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner was shown the door?

What if Wagoner wanted to go the straight Chapter 11 route? This would allow the car not-so-giant to restructure while keeping operations rolling, stay protected from creditors, and allow the company to specifically rework union contracts.

Our guess – after review of Obama’s statement yesterday – is that this will not be a straight Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but a more modern union-friendly version using specific parts of the bankruptcy law to avoid having to renegotiate the union contracts.

Why universal health care isn’t universal

A spot of cold water for those who seem to think that a simple wave of the wand (or, in this case, Presidential pen) can kiss the boo-boo and make it all better…

Here’s something that has gotten lost in the drive to institute universal health insurance: Health insurance doesn’t automatically lead to health care. And with more and more doctors dropping out of one insurance plan or another, especially government plans, there is no guarantee that you will be able to see a physician no matter what coverage you have.

Consider that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reported in 2008 that 28% of Medicare beneficiaries looking for a primary care physician had trouble finding one, up from 24% the year before. The reasons are clear: A 2008 survey by the Texas Medical Association, for example, found that only 38% of primary-care doctors in Texas took new Medicare patients. The statistics are similar in New York state…

Doctors, it would seem, are just as economically motivated as any other individual and, when presented a choice of which insurers to work with, prefer those that neither stiff them on their fee nor pinch the pennies until Lincoln begs for mercy…

More and more of my fellow doctors are turning away Medicare patients because of the diminished reimbursements and the growing delay in payments. I’ve had several new Medicare patients come to my office in the last few months with multiple diseases and long lists of medications simply because their longtime provider — who they liked — abruptly stopped taking Medicare. One of the top mammographers in New York City works in my office building, but she no longer accepts Medicare and charges patients more than $300 cash for each procedure.

How about Medicaid?  Any better over on that side of the fence?  HMO plans? Buehler?  Buehler?

The problem is even worse with Medicaid. A 2005 Community Tracking Physician survey showed that only 50% of physicians accept this insurance. I am now one of the ones who doesn’t take it. I realized a few years ago that it wasn’t worth the money to file the paperwork for the $25 or less that I received for an office visit. HMOs are problematic as well. Recent surveys from New York show a 10% yearly dropout rate from the state’s largest HMO, the Health Insurance Plan of New York (HIP), and a 14% drop-out rate from Health Net of New York, another big HMO.

Oops… guess not.

Now, who out there wants to be a patient when the government takes over the whole show?  Universal insurance through the government will place all the power in the hands of one insurer, allowing them to squeeze the medical profession at will.  Given the model of Medicare and Medicaid, government insurance will lead to reimbursement being squeezed to the point where doctors will leave the profession and university students won’t enter.

Government controlled healthcare — the efficiency of the post office and the bedside manner of the IRS.

Banker explains why he turned down TARP funds: “Strings”

The banker is Steve Buster, CEO of California community bank “Mechanics”. Alexis Glick conducts the interview and it’s a great one.

Part one, Buster tells Glick they wanted the money, could have used the money but it came with too many strings.

Here in Part Two Glick asks … “what strings?”. Buster says they wanted to tell us how to lend.

Buster essentially says his bank uses sound lending practices and the government’s idea of lending would have compromised that, endangering the banks sound business. Thanks but not thanks.

Unfortunately, the big bankers have learned this all too late. They have finally realized that they have sold their soul. If you want to know what I mean …listen to Charlies Daniels. You’ll get it too.