Friday, December 04, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
It's interesting that all we hear about is the Democrats plan to create government healthcare vs. the status quo (which is definitely broken). In fact, most of the time I hear the media saying that the Republicans don't have anything - no new ideas, no alternatives - and are left to boo the Democrats plan. Well it seems that's not the case.
Perhaps the most blatant “disinformation” being promulgated in the health care debate this year is that there are only two choices for American health care: putting the federal government in charge or allowing insurance companies to run the show. While the President, congressional Democrats in charge, and, to a degree, the media have done all they can to shut out Republican ideas, the truth remains that there is a third path, a correct path.
Republicans have put forth bold ideas that can transform American health care in a positive way -- without a government takeover of medicine. Before the August recess, I joined with a number of colleagues to introduce H.R. 3400, the Empowering Patients First Act. Our solution is built upon the principle that when individuals are given control and ownership, we will achieve full access to coverage and see the entire system move in a positive, patient-centered direction. While we join in the national critique of the President’s misguided proposal, we also offer positive solutions for health care reform.
Full Access to Coverage
First, all people should have the financial wherewithal to purchase private, personal health plans. As cost is the biggest barrier to coverage, H.R. 3400 employs a hybrid tax structure to ensure that there is no financial reason for a person to go without coverage. Based on factors such as income and family size, the legislation offers tax credits and deductions, which are advanceable and on a sliding scale, so the less wealthy and those without employer-provided plans will be able to purchase coverage.
A true market for Americans to purchase this personal private coverage, however, does not currently exist. For patients to have real choices, we must create a functioning marketplace for all to gain coverage they select. To achieve this, under the Empowering Patients First Act, all Americans would be able to use pre-tax dollars to buy coverage on the open market, leveling the playing field with employer-provided care that already receives this benefit. And to provide Americans greater purchasing power, the legislation allows for robust pooling mechanisms so that people can come together freely to drive down prices. These pools will provide a place for those with pre-existing conditions to find coverage at an affordable price. And there is the opportunity to purchase health insurance across state lines, which is currently barred.
Finally, we cannot fully bring down costs without addressing the runaway medical liability crisis. From exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums to the remarkably expensive practice of defensive medicine, it is my experience that the current culture of litigation costs patients hundreds of billions of dollars. And these costs do nothing to provide better care, but rather serve only as a defense against unyielding personal injury lawyers. H.R. 3400 tackles this problem with the creation of new health courts that trust the expert opinions of medical professionals. When malpractice suits are brought through specialized courts and viewed through the perspective of medically appropriate care, rather than a lottery mentality, we will see a decline in frivolous lawsuits and the need for costly defensive medicine.
Patients in Charge
But providing access to affordable care only gets us half way to our goal. A 21st century American health care system should put the customer -- the patient -- in charge of the system. To truly transform American health care in a patient-centered way, we must give control and ownership of health coverage to individuals -- to patients.
Currently, most people receive their care from their employer or the government. This makes someone else, not the patient, the customer. H.R. 3400 offers people the option to utilize a system that would put them in charge. This means that employers could provide their workers with the opportunity to purchase the care that best fits their individual needs, rather than just what is offered at work. Building on the new marketplace previously discussed, we can give patients seemingly limitless coverage options. What’s more, if a Medicare or Medicaid beneficiary would prefer a private, personal plan, they would have the option to move their resources and purchase whatever coverage they believe best suits them and their family. And all of these purchasing decisions will be made easier with the transparency created by new health plan and provider portal websites where patients can compare rates and information about coverage options and treatment.
All of these things give patients choices, portability, and control. And when patients are empowered with the ability to vote with their feet, we will, by necessity, see insurance companies become much more responsive to our personal needs.
Finally, all this can be accomplished without raising taxes a single penny. On top of the cost savings associated with lawsuit abuse reform, greater competition, and reining in waste, our plan is fully paid for by reducing spending, which has gotten way out of control. Instead of growing government, the Empowering Patients First Act says that Washington must once again set priorities in our budget -- just like American families do every single day.
The Third Path
Rather than a government takeover of medicine or allowing the unsustainable status quo to persist, there is a third path. No bureaucrat -- one from either the government or an insurance company -- should get between you and your doctor. By empowering patients, we can preserve what is good with our current system and improve what ails it, all without threatening the world class quality of care that we enjoy in America. So the next time the President asks what Republicans want to do for health care, we must all respond: empower patients!
Dr. Price is a Republican from Georgia and is chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
If there ever was a great commentary on our apathy as a nation, it's the movie Swing Vote. I just watched and I have to say that I was impressed with the message.
- The main character slowly realizes that his vote really does count for something and that the issues actually have real effects on real people.
- The candidates slowly realize that they are prostituting themselves to one man - just to get elected. The Republican who goes green and endorses gay marriage. The Democrat who goes pro-life and anti-immigration. Both end up being disgusted with themselves.
- The media who are more obsesses with sensationalizing than actual reporting.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thursday, August 06, 2009
It seems that it's not just Arizonans that are interested in the State Budget. The New York Times is running an article about it as well. I guess the fact that a Republican governor with a Republican legislature can't seem to agree on a budget is a great news story.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Healthcare reform is big news right now. Congress is hard at work trying to overhaul our healthcare system to make it less expensive and cover more people. These are admirable goals and they will be extremely hard to accomplish. The ideas that Congress has come up with seem to revolve around a government healthcare plan paid for by taxing the rich. I'm not confident that this will be a good thing in the long term. It simply creates another government plan that will probably underpay (I've heard that doctors are dropping out of Medicare because it doesn't pay enough to cover the costs of the service).
- Encourage Competition: There should be no captive markets (how many insurance options does your employer give you?). Insurance carriers need to work to win over people not companies. With effective competition, the most efficient and effective plans will come out on top and those that can't adapt will wither away. This is how the market works best. Real competition will drive down prices and increase service levels.
- Reduce Complexity: Have you even noticed how medical offices seem to have more staff to handle billing than actual doctors? All of those employees cost money. All of the insurance employees dealing with them cost money. All of that money comes from us. Shouldn't going to the doctor be like buying anything else? Just slide your card and you're done. No forms to fill out, no fighting with the doctor's office about what procedure was done and whether or not is was covered, none of the headaches of dealing with the insurance companies. It saves time, money, and stress.
- Reform Liability and Malpractice Proceedings: How many people in this country look at injuries like the lottery? Sue the company, sue your doctor, sue your neighbor, etc. To me, this just isn't right. If a person gets hurt and it's the fault of a company (slipped in a grocery store or something), the company pays for the medical bills and court costs and that's it. If a doctor loses a malpractice suit, the payout is limited to medical bills, court costs, and lost wages. If punitive damages need to be assessed, they will follow these rules: 1) Punitive damages do NOT go to the victim. This is not a lottery. The victim is already being compensated. Hopefully this will reduce the number of lawsuits as there's no money in it for the victim. 2) Punitive damages are NOT paid by insurance. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the offender. If insurance pays for it, is the offender punished? 3) Malicious intent must be proven for punitive damages to be awarded. Doctors should not worry that they'll be sued for giving their best guess and/or their opinions. Sometimes talking to a doctor feels like talking to a lawyer. They will only say what can't be used against them in court. Doctors deserve the freedom to be doctors.
- Eliminate Pricing Disparities: Have you ever noticed that what you're charged and what you pay are radically different? If seen lab tests that are billed at $150 but discounted to $7.50 because of insurance contracts. That's not right. Charge what you need to charge for the service. These pricing swings are confusing and punish those who don't have insurance.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
What are we calling upon our leaders to do now? We want a responsible budget that will not sacrifice our future or make our children pay for our short-sightedness. If we have over spent now, we need to be pay it back now, not years later with interest. If our tax structure is weak, we need to re-write it so that it reflects reasonably across all income levels and commerce. We also need to keep our long-term responsibilities in mind. There are some costs that while they may not be technically our responsibility now, will greatly reduce if not eliminate costs to which we will be responsible for later.
In the United States we have a Republic and not a Democracy because it is unreasonable to think that each voting member has time to familiarize themselves with all the nuances of the government issues. That is what we have elected/hired you all to do for us. We trust that you will spend time learning how to make good government for us, not simply put the responsibility for that back on us with special elections that cost us more money.
It is time for our leaders to decide whether they are going to step up and start doing what we elected them to do, or if they are going to continue on the path that they currently are on. If we need reasonable cuts to programs, that needs to happen because those programs have been evaluated as being wasteful, not to solve lack of funding issues. As a homeowner and head of household I need to make sure that my bills are paid, that expenses are met, and the needs for my family are paid for. It is time for Arizona and it's leaders to step up and pay for expenses in a responsible way.
We need leaders that our "winter soldiers". Ones that are willing to sacrifice more than they are asking us to, ones that are willing to do the job that we have entrusted them to do.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
What ever happened to the focus on serving the people? You know, it's difficult not to get extremely frustrated watching the AZ State Legislature "work" on the budget. The governor releases a budget that the ultra-conservative Republicans don't like. What happens? Do the Republican leaders point out where it will hurt the state? No. Do they articulate a coherent rebuttal based on economic data, etc? No. What do they do? They complain that the governor's budget isn't Republican enough. That the governor is not supposed to raise taxes because that's not Republican. That she's not supposed to protect social programs like aid to the disabled because that's not Republican. Not Republican? Not REPUBLICAN? Aren't our officials supposed to be working for the good of all Arizonans? Shouldn't reality take precedence over ideology?
If Governor Brewer's budget is bad, then I expect the State Legislature to spell out why it's bad in sound economic terms. If their budget is better, I expect them to be able to compare and contrast without resorting to ideological name calling. Is that too much to ask?
No I admit that I don't know the specifics on either budget, but I do know that when Governor Brewer's budget came out, nobody was asking "Is that even legal?" The State Legislature's budget didn't fare so well in that department.
Now if we could just get everybody together and look at how these budget proposals will affect us - not just this year, but 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. Look at the short and long term effects, debate the best course of action and pass a budget that will help Arizona. I'm tired of the partisan bickering.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
There is an excellent column today in the Arizona Republic by Robert Robb. It's called The Chrysler Power Grab. Don't get confused, this is not about Chrysler grabbing power but the government using its "bailout" to benefit the union.
Mr. Robb points out that the terms that the government is forcing Chrysler to ask for are as follows:
This is the equivalent of you going bankrupt and the bankruptcy court deciding to give your house to the credit card companies and telling the mortgage company to forgive 70% of your mortgage and to give up any ownership of the house. Does that make any sense? Well, it turns out the credit card companies appointed the judge...
The Obama administration is attempting to muscle past this law. Under its proposal, the health care trust of the auto workers' union, an unsecured creditor, would forgive 57 percent of what Chrysler owes it, and receive 55 percent of the company's equity in exchange. The federal government would forgive about a third of what it would loan Chrysler and receive 8 percent of the company's equity. Fiat would pay nothing for its 20 percent initial ownership.
The secured creditors, with the first claim on Chrysler's assets, were asked to forgive 70 percent of what they are owed and receive nothing in equity. When they refused and forced the company into bankruptcy, they were excoriated by Obama – a shameful act by a president who pledged to uphold the law, not make it up as he went along.
This is why government should stay out of business.
Read the column. It's very good and kind of scary at the same time.
Friday, April 17, 2009
A week or so ago my State Senator emailed a message to his constituents (including me) in response to the growing support for raising taxes to help with the budget shortfall. In that message, he recounted the following:
Monday, March 09, 2009
OK, there is an awful lot of finger-pointing regarding who is responsible for this mortgage meltdown. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for loosening up bank/finance regulations. The Republicans are blaming the Democrats for encouraging the sub-prime mortgage market (loaning to people who wouldn't ordinarily qualify for a mortgage). Lots of other people are blaming the CEO of the large financial institutions for being so greedy. It's funny but everybody has somebody to blame but nobody blames themselves.
In my opinion, there are many factors that contributed to the issue. Decreased regulation made it easier to get away with some questionable actions. Encouraging the sub-prime market got banks to loan to people they normally wouldn't loan to (the same people that are defaulting left and right). However, even with all of that, it comes down to one thing: greed.
It seems that everybody is after easy money. Buy a house you can't afford and, in a couple months, flip it for huge profit. Get a loan you can't afford and, before it adjusts, refinance for a better rate (because your home will be worth twice as much... right?). How many people fell into that trap? Of course, it's not just the consumers. There was greed on every level. Mortgage brokers who signed people up for loans they knew were unaffordable because they could just load it into a mortgage backed security and not have to worry about it anymore. The banks who sold the securities to investors. There was massive amounts of greed at all levels.
What ever happened to doing the right thing? Not in this country any more. Now it seems to be do whatever gets you the most right now. It doesn't matter if it hurts somebody down the road. It is a sad, sad world when most people seem to care far more for their own wants (not needs, wants) than for other people. Whatever happened to honesty and integrity. I'm convinced that those two traits would have prevented the housing crisis.
Yes, there is plenty of blame to go around, but we miss the largest culprit of all. The me first, foremost, and above all else mentality that seems to describe an astonishingly large number of Americans. Now, of course there are plenty of people who are simply victims of circumstance (and the press loves to do segments on them) but for the most part, we're victims of our own greed.
Friday, February 27, 2009
- Stan Still
- Jo King
- Carrie Oakey
Give it a read - it's a lot of fun.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
There has been a lot of back and forth on whether the speed cameras are a safety measure or a revenue generator. Most people that support cameras say they're a safety measure, most that oppose them say they're simply revenue generators. So who's right?
The ASU study, officials said, showed a 58 percent reduction in side-swipe crashes, a 71 percent reduction in single-vehicle crashes and a 40 percent reduction in accident-caused injuries as a result of speed cameras.
Factoring in increases in rear-end collisions, accidents on the Loop 101 in Scottsdale decreased by 54 percent during the time speed cameras were in place.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Those of us who live in Gilbert have an election coming up. While its not getting national attention and we're not being bombarded with constant TV ads, I submit that this election will have a far more direct effect on Gilbert's citizens than most others. Why? Because the Mayor and Town Council determine things like sales tax rates, property tax rates, how many police officers we have, how many firefighters we have, etc. They determine things that affect us directly.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Monday, February 02, 2009
I found a readability test recently and thought it would be interesting to find the reading level of my blog. I expected to get a high school or maybe undergrad level. So I was really surprised to get genius (I actually thought it was broken - I had to check a bunch of other blogs to make sure it didn't say genius for everybody). Does it really take a genius to understand what I'm writing? I always thought that politics was a fairly simple topic. You simply take a logical look at various issues and, applying all of the known variables, find a solution that best fits the...
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The stimulus plan is coming. $875 billion of government goodness. Will it save our economy? Well, we won't really ever know. After all, we don't know what would happen if it fails, we'll just have to see what happens when it succeeds.
- "Supporters of H.R. 1 have described this legislation as a transportation and infrastructure investment package. However, the bill only includes $30 billion – a mere 3 percent of the funding – toward “shovel ready” road and highway spending."
- "H.R. 1 provides funding for 32 new programs totaling $137 billion or 38 percent of all discretionary spending in the bill."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
I've heard of the book Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand but I never really knew what it was about. Well, I just read an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal that compared our current economic crisis with the events portrayed in Atlas Shrugged.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Have you ever wondered how biased the news you get is? I try to look at both sides of an issue and find the truth that's usually somewhere in between. However, I have also found that both sides of an argument can present their cases so well, that it's difficult to tell where the truth really lies.
This came up as I was trying to get more information on the fighting in Gaza. Most of the information I had painted a picture of an Israel that had been hit by so many rockets from Gaza that it just couldn't take it anymore and invaded. Then I read an article from Al Jazeera that paints an entirely different picture. The article was well written and convincing enough that I had to wonder what was really going on. Then I read the comments.
The article made several assertions about Israeli involvement in the violence and accused Israel of being the aggressor. The comments, on the other hand, both supported and criticized the article (as most comment sections do). The critical comments called into question many of the assertions of the article and called them patently false. It was kind of a wake up call. I realized (again) that just because it's posted on a news site, doesn't mean it's true. The article makes no references to prove its points so it becomes the author arguing against commentors with neither side backing up their "facts".
I usually think of comments as mostly being entertaining but not having a lot of value. In this case, though, the comments made me think, re-evaluate, and reconsider an article that is very one-sided.
So thank goodness for comments. They're a reality check in this world of tenuous reality. Keep them coming!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The State Legislature is meeting and something, probably many things, are going to get cut. The Arizona Capitol Times, the Arizona Guardian, the Arizona Republic, etc. are all running articles about people and groups trying to protect their funding. First in line is our soon to be former Governor, Janet Napolitano. She is pleading to save all of the programs she started when it seemed like Arizona would have an endless money supply. Next in line is education. Schools are forecasting doom and gloom if their budgets get cut. Then there's social services. In a bad economy, more and more people sign up for government services.
- Government itself: The government needs to be able to run. I'm not saying they shouldn't look for and eliminate inefficiencies, etc. but they do need enough money to function.
- Emergency Services: Police, Fire, and other emergency services need to run. They protect citizens from each other and from physical harm.
- Education: Our State Constitution requires education and the future of our society depends on it.
- Services for the Disabled: Notice I didn't put all social services. I think the government has a responsibility for helping to take care of those that can't take care of themselves.
Monday, January 05, 2009
This frustration pervades among the "computer geeks" of the country. Many of the forums complain of how stupid people are. They rail against businesses, politicians, and any other profession they see as severly misguided. I fear, however, that this may give them the idea that they are smarter than everybody else; that anybody who doesn't agree with them is an idiot. Yet somehow this country has survived, businesses have flourished, and people have lived happy lives in spite of not being as smart as us techies.
I see the same thing in politics. There is a polarization that occurs and it seems to make people think that their side of the aisle has all of the good ideas. Too many democrats would assert that if a republican says something, it's wrong. Too many republicans think that all ideas from democrats are flawed. I have seen countless arguments on forums, etc. that summarily dismiss anything that doesn't conform to a preset form of ideals.
In other words, too many people are spending their energy villifying the other side. There are too many arguments that have no substance. Too much time spent on blame and not enough on resolving issues.
We, as a people, need to stop treating people as the enemy and start looking at where they are coming from. We need to stop spouting mindless sound bites and start examining our own beliefs. I have found, as I have spoken with several friends who - GASP! - are democrats, that the results that the democratic and republican parties are looking for are very similar. Equal opportunities for all, a prosperous people, a high standard of living. We all agree on the desired outcomes, it's simply the path to the outcome that we disagree on. However, if we can seek to understand them, it's possible to come to a middle ground that everybody can agree on. At least on some items. On others, we may have to agree to disagree, however, at least we will understand where they're coming from and they will understand where we're coming from and both of us can walk away thinking: They're not stupid, just different.