Baucus Has A Plan!

The Prez will address Congress tonight and what will he say and what will they, being Dems, do?  Well single payer is DOA…public option looks like it is in big trouble….the limited life support that has been offered to the plan is doing little good.  But there is a bright spot….well if you like bright spots…..the “Gang of Six” in the Senate is working on a bi-partisan approach.

There has been many, many health reform offerings but the one that has caught my attention is the one offered up by Sen. Baucus.  His proposal has little to do with covering all Americas but rather to offer up insurance reform not health reform.

Of all the points in his miserable plan there is one that is disturbing……it will be mandated they people will have insurance or pay a fine…….$750/yr for individuals and $1500/yr per family if there is no insurance.  Cool, right?  But now ask yourself about the unemployed….do they have to be covered or pay a fine?  Do they have to pay the fine at the expense of food and shelter?

The Baucus plan is nothing more than allowing the insurance companies, et al run amok even more so than now….

Will the Prez embrace this wad of crap in the name of a victory on health care?  Sad to say, it is beginning to smell like a cop out of the Dems in the name of success on reform, whether it is success or not.

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Drive-Thru Medicine

Is this the way of the future?  We will get our medical care in a similar fashion as we get our Big Mac?  So you think that is a crazy question, eh?  But in a recent article in Time Magazine written by Jeffery Kluger:

Doctors are having a hard go of things. Squeezed by falling reimbursements, soaring malpractice insurance and punishing patient loads, they shouldn’t have much to fear from the likes of Wal-Mart. But the fact is, the greeter in the red vest is increasingly going toe-to-toe with the doctor in the white coat – and winning – thanks to the growing phenomenon of retail health clinics.

There are roughly 1,000 clinics now operating in the U.S., offering acute care for such routine problems as throat infections and earaches as well as providing diabetes and cholesterol screenings, routine checkups and vaccinations. The fees are low – and conspicuously posted; nearly all of the clinics treat both the insured and uninsured, and there is little or no waiting time. With 50 million Americans lacking health insurance and family budgets collapsing under the weight of medical costs, what’s not to like about the clinics?

Plenty, say physicians associations, whose members warn that clinics – which are typically staffed by nurse practitioners and are positioned in stores that also sell prescriptions – will be inclined to misdiagnose and overprescribe. Worse, they are not built to provide long-term care for chronic conditions such as hypertension, and they threaten the ideal of a lasting doctor-patient relationship, denying consumers a so-called “medical home.”

The studies, which took months to compile, were based on the performance of the 982 retail clinics that existed in the U.S. as of August 2008 – a tenfold increase since 2006. While that proliferation is impressive, as with much else in the health-care system it doesn’t necessarily mean equal access to care. Clinics exist in only 33 states, and in those that have them, an overwhelming 88.4% are in urban areas. Just 10.6% of the U.S. population lives within a five-minute drive of a clinic, and 28.7% lives 10 minutes away. The South is better served than the Midwest and West, and all three regions are better served than the East. Just five states (Florida, California, Texas, Minnesota and Illinois) are home to 44% of all American retail health clinics.

If the results are any indication, the next time you have a routine medical need, you should probably make haste to a clinic. On a quality scale of 0% to 100%, the clinics finished first with a 63.6% while urgent-care centers and doctor’s offices followed within a couple of points. Habitually overcrowded emergency rooms came in last at a distant 55.1%. When it came to fees, the results were even more dramatic. For the various kinds of services studied, the average visit to a retail clinic cost $110, versus $156 for urgent care and $166 for a family doc. As for ERs? A cool $570. While even $110 for a clinic visit seems pricey, that is only the average for the three procedures studied. Minute Clinic, the industry leader with 514 outlets, charges just $62 for a minor illness or injury exam and $20 to $66 for a wellness or prevention visit.

There are pros and cons to the retailing of medical care, but the best question I would like to ask is…..is this the future of health care and where would any reform from Washington likely effect the industry?

The Deficit Game

a paper by the Inkwell Institute

Note:  We at the Institute are a think tank, but unlike other think tanks we try to take a complex issue and boil down to simple understandable words.  Others try to give the average person too much information and then tries to dazzle them with bullsh!t….we try to be a source of education and knowledge…….

There has been a bunch of lip service to the budget deficit….most of it coming from the Right….many Americans are upset with the rising deficit and are concerned with leaving massive debt to their children and their children’s children…..which is an honest concern, but we ask where that concern was when the deficit was swollen with two wars and a massive bureaucracy that was to become the Department Of Homeland Security?  We digress……onward to the deficit……

In a recent report on the approaching deficit:

For 2009, the deficit is now projected at $1.58 trillion. There will be a $5 trillion increase in red ink over the next five years and a total of $9 trillion over 10 years. The long-term numbers are worse than previously forecast.

There will be debate after debate on what needs to be done to bring the deficit down and make it more manageable, at least that will be debate.  But will anything be done and if it is, by whom?

First of all, what is a budget deficit?

Simply put, a budget deficit occurs when a government spends more than it acquires from tax revenues in any given period of time.  See how simple that is?  Why are we going to experience such a large deficit?

The US economy is in the grips of a recession and from the right comes the call for restraint in spending, because they say that the federal deficit is getting out of hand.  But is it?

At a time like we are experiencing, should the government spending be reduced in order to control the deficit and balance the budget?  The best answer is no….to do so in the grip of a recession would be counterproductive.  It would reduce demand and employment and in turn this would extend the recession.

But the calls keep coming for a control of spending, not only from the conservatives but from within the Democratic party as well.  But what would the attempt at a balanced budget do?

First, countercyclical fiscal policy would not recommend that the budget be balanced….why?…you ask…..a planned budget deficit is called for during times of an economical slowdown, like we are experiencing now; it helps create demand the fuel for the economy.  A proper usage of a budget deficit can act as a stabilizing force for the ailing economy.

The Obama Admin is acting in a proper way to help the country and the economy come out of a recession….however they are trying to create demand the wrong way…they are trying to make credit strong again and that is what put the country in this perilous path.  They are trying to create consumer demand by making credit more readily available…not the smartest way to create demand.

Bad timing on fiscal policy and a planned deficit can make matters worse; it can create a destabilizing influence in the economy.  The emphasis on the markets could create that destabilization.  If the consumer is not spending then there will be no recovery.  Easy credit is not the answer we are all looking for to end the economic crisis.

Housing Recovering?

Recently the good news was that the home industry was coming out of the slide it has been in for a couple of years….at least that is what the pundits would have us believe but there is more to this story than the good news that has been reported.

U.S. mortgage applications slid last week even as mortgage rates edged lower, with requests for loans to buy homes declining for the first time since early July, an industry group said on Wednesday.The Mortgage Bankers Association’s applications index fell by a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent in the week ended August 28, as demand for both purchase and refinance loans slipped.

Economic stimulus that has boosted consumer optimism, signs that home prices have neared a bottom, and federal programs such as a soon-expiring first-time home buyers tax credit have turned more fence-sitters into house purchasers, industry experts said.

The big question is what will happen to the housing market when the incentive to buy fades?   The first-time buyer’s market has been robust, but not the move-up market — or the market for existing homeowners looking to trade up to a larger home. It will take consistent news of rising home prices to lure the move-up buyer, most realtors agree.

According to Reuters:

The U.S. Mortgage Bankers Association will call on Congress to transform U.S. government-controlled mortgage lenders Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac into several smaller privately held companies that would issue mortgage securities with a government guarantee, the Wall Street Journal reported.The proposed framework, to be released Wednesday by the industry group, would give successor entities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac authority to create securities backed by certain types of mortgage, the paper said.

According to the paper, the new companies would guarantee the securities against defaults on underlying mortgages and pay fees into a federal insurance fund, which would guarantee interest and principal payments to bondholders if the companies were unable to make them.

The WSJ said the MBA’s plan called for government agencies, rather than the new companies, to assume the “mission” of promoting affordable housing that Congress has long assigned to Fannie and Freddie.

The new companies also would not be allowed to hold large amounts of mortgages and securities under the proposal, the paper said.

Okay, this smells like yet another attempt for these parasites to find another way to use the homeowners to further their rape of the economy.  Yes, they would be limited on what they could hold…but how long would it take for them to change that with a new president?  The regulation that could be put into place…could be dissolved with the appearance of new blood in the White House and Congress…it has happened before and it will most assuredly happen again.