Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Congressional Smoke Screen

While Congress has kept the attention focused on health care reform, there have been many things happen in Washington that have directly affected the working man. This "reform" is just a smoke screen, to allow flawed legislation to pass while people's attention is focused elsewhere. For example, Congress passed new taxes on items such as cigarettes, which, even though smoking is bad for your health, takes more money out of the pockets of those who choose to smoke. The majority of people who do are lower income, and for some, that's one of the few pleasures they have. Now they're even poorer. What is ironic is that the government says for people to quit smoking, but funds an insurance program for children with the money from tobacco taxes! If everyone quits, how are they going to pay for it? Congress knows that many won't quit, so they put the burden on the remaining people who do. Not exactly a fair way to tax, but then, when was the last time the government did something fair?

Another item that Congress passed under the smoke screen of health care debate was credit reform. The bill is supposed to change the way credit card companies charge for fees and interest, as detailed here. Yes, it is a good idea to do this, as these companies will instantly raise rates for a number of reasons, such as getting a report of a late payment from another company, or discontinue your card for non-use, or for problems with other companies. The ideas are good, but unfortunately, the credit card companies lobbied Congress hard to push the bill's effective date out to February, 2010. Guess what? While the bill was waiting to go into effect, the companies raised rates, created new fees, and on and on. They knew that they had plenty of time to do this, and are profiting from the waiting period. Consumers are getting squeezed, and the companies are making the rules so tight that it is hard for anyone with less than perfect credit to borrow money. Congress could have made the law effective much sooner, but they bowed to the pressure. We are the ones who are paying for it. Another case of dithering while the people suffer.

These are just a few of the items that have passed under the smoke screen of health care reform. If Congress does not get their act together, and start doing something for the people instead of themselves and the fat cats, this election promises to be an incumbents nightmare. People are fed up, and so am I. They are tired of having the burden placed upon their shoulders. People want a fair shake, not a shakedown. Right now, I don't see much change from either party. The change will come in the fall if they don't do their job, and this applies to both parties. There will be a lot of smoke in Washington then, when the incumbents political careers go up in smoke.

Thoughts on Health Care Reform

We've all been watching what is going on in Washington, and frankly, I'm not impressed. President Obama's health care plan, while a good idea in principle, seems to be getting derailed and distorted out of proportion. I don't pretend to know a lot about it, as I haven't had much time to study it. What I have seen, however, is that the plan seems very confusing. I read stories about how employers may opt for a less comprehensive government plan, rather than the plans they have now, leaving the insured stuck with the bill for the rest. I've also read that it will provide coverage for those who do not have it. There are good and bad points to the whole thing, and it is very confusing. What worries me is that, with any plan made by the government, we the taxpayer usually lose, by paying more in taxes, premiums, and the like.

It seems to me that the problem with health care reform is that it doesn't address the real issue, the cost of health care. Doctors, hospitals, and insurers keep charging higher and higher fees. A visit to the emergency room can cost well in excess of $1000, and much more if you add in x-rays, etc. Hospitals and doctors have been raising fees for years, and even though most insurance plans say they are only going to pay them so much, the fees are still exorbitant. The costs must be controlled, and not by placing them on the backs of the consumer. How this can be done remains to be seen, as, IMHO, this has not been addressed.

Another way to get real health care reform would be to find cures for diseases such as diabetes. This is a drain upon the system, and a huge financial burden upon those who must battle it everyday. Testing supplies, doctor visits, blood work, and the like are very expensive, but very necessary for someone with diabetes. If a cure was found, say, for example, Type 2, which is not insulin dependent, millions of dollars could be saved every year, not to mention many lives. Type 1, which is insulin dependent, is even more costly, as the patient is forced to use insulin shots every day just to stay alive. Unfortunately, in this writer's view, it seems like there is more profit in treating it than curing it. This is where the reform must start. Take out the incentive for profiting from people's suffering, and find a cure. All of us, including the entire health care system, will benefit, and the quality of life would improve for millions. I can only hope that someday, we will see this.

Happy New Year!

Hello, everyone! Been a while since I posted, so I thought it was time to get started again. I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and hope for better times ahead. It has been a rough year on everyone, but things will get better. Keep smiling!