Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

Posts tagged ‘Obamacare’

Private Sector High-Tech; Better Than Our Government?

Since the introduction of www.Healthcare.gov, used for enrolling people into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most Americans have been underwhelmed and frustrated with its poor performance. This failure has fueled renewed attacks by the GOP and tea party members who have opposed the ACA it since it’s inception, even after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

Whether you agree with the underlying legislation or not, let’s get one thing straight: the failure of the technological aspects of the website are not peculiar to the government. Critics charge the federal bureaucracy is incapable of setting up such a highly advanced website. Let’s stop being naive or so ideological that we overlook the fact that even the biggest high-technology companies have had their share of technology snafus, often hiding the damaging effects on the public. This is true even though they were not under the pressures of strict deadlines and reduced budgets faced by the government.

In case you think the private sector is any better at avoiding these high-tech snafus:

1. In 2011, Sony suffered a major security breach of its PlayStation Network on April 19. The company didn’t even disclose it until April 26 and apologized on May 1. In the days leading up to the outage, its network was hacked. Worse, the personal information of some 77 million customers was exposed. A week later, according to Japan’s Nikkei news, another breach involved the theft of 12,700 credit card numbers and data from over 24,000 users. This was the second worst security breach since the TJ Maxx and Heartland attacks.

2. In 2007, the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods chains admitted that its network had been hacked, and personal information for more than 45 million customers had been stolen. Although first detected in December 2006, it later admitted a breach as early as July 2005, a year after a security audit revealed “serious deficiencies” in its network—with over 100 million credit cards compromised.

If you think these are the exceptions…think again. These events are far more common than we may ever know, involving millions of credit cards or other pieces of our so-called ‘secure personal information.’  You can Google “technology errors” and come up with multiple disasters for Apple, Intel, Iomega, Dell, Amazon and Sony, our technology giants.

Computer and network security is big money, from the hacker’s, as well as the security analysts’ perspectives.  My son just received his PhD in computer/network security and is being paid big bucks to help prevent these kinds of problems.

Let’s stop looking to pin the blame on the Obama administration.  These websites are not simple templates; they need lots of excellent programmers and code-writers to get it right.  Even then, as we’ve seen, the end result is not always predictable.  Pitting the private sector against the government sector will end in a futile attempt at finger-pointing.  Perhaps the technologies and abilities needed in the high-tech arena are just as much an art as they are a practice of engineering.  Let’s give the government kudos for its intentions and some time to get it right before trying to show that “all things government related are fallible.”

 

Give Obamacare A Chance!

When the naysayers throw out ridiculous assertions about “Obamacare“, they often overlook the facts. One of those “facts” is that when we compare the cost of medical technologies, we find that European countries have a cost that is anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 that in the US, for similar technologies.

According to investment analysts who follow the medical field closely, these reductions in cost are attributed to “socialized medicine.”

Recently, Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. Inc.’s, Jeff Cohen, whose livelihood is based on following the costs and efficacy of medical technologies, stated,

“Pricing for medical technology in European markets and the rest of the world is often one-half to two-thirds the cost of the U.S., because medicine there tends to be socialized.”

What does that mean? As “Obamacare” continues to be adopted and implemented in the US, we should continue to see medical technologies’ costs come down, which, in turn, will expand the use of better treatments and reduce the costs of health insurance, resulting in lower premiums.

As it was with Medicare almost 50 years ago, the opponents of Obamacare” should be looking past the politics and instead, focus on the benefits and advantages, from both the treatment and financial aspects. Medicare has been successful in providing health care for our seniors and disabled…give “Obamacare” a chance, and in 50 years, we’ll be able to say the same!

 

Harris…Hypocrite? Or Just A Typical Worker Asking A Question?

Folks on the Eastern Shore did not overwhelmingly support Andy Harris in his 2008 bid for office as 1st-District Congressman. Although the Baltimore native won the majority of his home area votes, he wasn’t known well enough on the Eastern Shore, where people aren’t considered “locals” unless you AND your parents were born here. Harris is a New York native.

Of course, Frank Kratovil wasn’t a home-grown boy, either, having been born in PG County and not moving to Queen Anne’s County until 1997, having been appointed as State’s Attorney. His advantage over Harris in ’08 was based upon his strong showing in Queen Anne’s County, and “hanging on” in other shore counties.

You’ll also hear that part of Kratovil’s victory came as a result of being endorsed by the previous incumbent, Wayne Gilchrist, the well-liked moderate Republican that Harris beat in the Republican Primary.  Gilchrist decided to endorse Kratovil and many attribute that as giving Ktatovil the almost 3000 vote lead over Harris in the General Election.  An extra boost was the high dissatisfaction the the Bush tenure and a refusal by many to put Republicans back in control of the White House.

In 2010, the economy had declined, people were out of jobs, conservatives were pounding “Obamacare” and issues like Gay Marriage, and the rise of the Tea Party changed the political climate.  Doing what they do best, distorting and misrepresenting the facts, (don’t get me wrong…ALL parties do it, but the Republicans are true masters at giving only 10% of the truth), they kept attacking the President’s health care reform as being “Socialist”, ‘Un-Constitutional” and exorbitant, allegedly resulting in $100′s of billions in costs and additions to the Federal Deficit.  The other 90% of the truth, which was withheld, actually showed a net savings over the next 10 years in health care and the resulting deficit.  The Democrats’ failure to overcome the media blitz by the the Republicans resulted in net gains in the House and the Senate, giving the House back to the Republicans and cutting into the ‘super-majority’ of the Senate Democratic majority.

Harris’ prominence as a medical doctor, in opposition to “government-run” health care, have made him a lightning rod for attacks by supporters of the 2010 health care legislation. At a closed-door employee benefits briefing for new congressmen during the November 2010 freshman orientation, Harris was surprised to learn that the Federal employee health benefit plan would leave the new congressmen and their staffers without coverage until the following pay period, 28 days after

Blue Dog Dem who failed his constituents

inauguration! Concerned about this gap in coverage, he asked whether new government employees could purchase temporary coverage to fill this gap. “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed”, he said through his spokeswoman, Anna Nix. Through a spokesman, his defeated opponent, Frank Kratovil, seized upon this dialogue, characterizing the question as a “demand” for special treatment and for access to the benefits he opposed in the new law.  Furthermore, “Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the Kratovil aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a “gateway to socialized medicine.”

In fact, 74 percent of workers with employer-sponsored health benefits are subject to a waiting period before getting coverage, including 31 percent of whom face a waiting period of 3 months or more, according to a 2010 survey of of employer-sponsored health benefits, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust.

According to Harris, “the irony is that here, the federal government requires that all these employers provide” coverage, and yet “the federal government doesn’t provide it for its own.” He continued, “It should be changed so that the federal government should cover you from the first day you’re employed.”

But that doesn’t mean Harris thinks a public option is the solution to temporary gaps in coverage for ordinary working Americans transitioning between jobs.

"I want my health insurance...NOW!!!" Waaaaaaaaah!

Harris says, “I’m opposed to Obamacare. I’m opposed to a mandate of any kind on health insurance. This was purely about a technical question.”

Harris said he also found it odd that he wasn’t allowed to pre-buy insurance so that he could have it from day one. “They won’t even sell you the insurance, even if it were out of your own pocket, which is strange,” he said.

Harris said he doesn’t know if he can cover any staff gaps through his congressional allowance. A call to the Office of Personnel Management for clarification on using member allowances for interim coverage was not immediately returned.

My goodness! How the mighty are upset when things don’t go their way. Welcome to the real world, Congressman.  Working Americans have to deal with this every day in their lives.  The difference is that, at the end of the day, you and your staff will be provided excellent health coverage, and nearly 40 million Americans, who pay for you and your colleagues’ coverage, won’t.  That just seems downright wrong in my opinion.  What do you plan to do about it?  I assume nothing, as you have shown your attitude to be about any issue dealing with average Americans!

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