Friday, November 05, 2004

As a latte drinking liberal, I decided two days ago, that perhaps I should have my first latte ever. Yuck! No one told me it was all basically milk! Disgusting. I do have to say, though, that I let it sit for hours because I couldn't bring myself to drink it. I did sip occasionally. But as it cooled down it actually was quite pleasant. But needless to say, no more lattes for me.

I informed a fellow Kerryite about my disdain for the latte and said I'll return to drinking Cafe Mochas. Well, "that's worse," she says. Cafe Mocha's are the pinnacle of elitism. The whole notion of chocolate in one's coffee is so European and refined and does push the latte, French speaking, refined liberal to the limit.

Further on the election, I've learned more about the five stages of grief in the past two days than in my whole life. The interesting thing about this election is that I know of no one, absolutely no one, who voted for Kerry, and wasn't devastated. Even non-political types were crushed. It speaks volumes about the direction of the country.

I have tried to diagnose where I am on the DABDA five stages of grief chart, but I am all over the map. There is just that measure of disbelief that people were that irresponsible with their vote, in my view. Everyone, I know, including myself, voted for Kerry because we were and are all affected by this administrations policies and would have been positively impacted by Kerry's proposals, so to see our hopes dashed is not simply, "we lost," it is more akin to dispair. Dispair maybe too harsh a word for everyone, but for so many that I know, the next four years are bleak: people are having kids and paying hundreds a month in insurance cost, Bush will do absolutely nothing for them. Seniors on fixed income are now at the mercy of the Pharmaceuticals who raise drug prices 15% or so a year: no reimportation relief, no ability for Medicare to negotiate bulk prices to bring down medication costs. These were tangible proposals that Kerry was going to act on in his first days.

On healthcare, Bush's proposals are tort reform, health savings accounts and small business group health initiatives. First of all, Bush does nothing to address the 40 million without insurance, so they remain screwed. Tort reform, the stopping of frivolous lawsuits, according to the Congressional Budget Office, only accounts for 1% of health care costs. So that does nothing for health care cost, but is bonanza for Insurance companies: guess whose stock is on the up and up. Doctors are legitimately getting squeezed and Kerry/Edwards had a good tort reform plan. The issue is not frivolous lawsuits, it is the insurance companies who are for-profit entities looking for excuses to raise rates whenever they can. Tort reform would not make them reduce premiums, it may give them less of an excuse to raise rates, but they'll find ways. That's how they make money. (A side note is the issue of hurricaines. When there are hurricaines the insurance companies drool because they have an excuse to raise rates. It is important to note that they do not NEED to raise rates due to payouts, etc, but the tragedies sure as heck give them cover.)

Health savings accounts are where people create the account and put money in it and then the money pays for their healthcare. The idea is that if people are personally responsible for their healthcare choices, then they would take better care of themselves and not waste money on useless and unnecessary tests. First off, the class of people who can afford HSA are the wealthier people, who generaly are healthier. The less wealthy or poorer you are, the less you can take care of your health. These HSAs, again, do nothing for the uninsured, period. They also take the healthiest people out of the risk pool, which means that premiums go up for everyone else! Interesting because Kerry had proposed the opposite. Kerry's proposal was that the Feds would take over catastrophic cases and take the $50,000 cases out of the risk pool, which would bring down premiums. There again, Bush is helping out the wealthy and Cheney says to the rest of us _____ (you know what Cheney says). The other thing is that I don't see how HSA cover costs. I know of some wealthy seniors who went through tough medical times and you would not believe just how quickly their savings, which were in the hundreds of thousands, dried up. So even HSA are not a panacea for those who can afford them. They will dry up.

As for the small business group health plans. Well, I own a small business and I can say "baloney" with some degree of certainty. Again, Bush is for the big guns. A 75 person firm with revenues of $4 million is considered a small business, go figure. Small Businesses like mine, with annual revenues ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, can't even afford to offer health insurance. Even when they do, the costs are crippling and even forming alliances would not bring down costs significantly. It may reduce the rate of growth of costs, but the burden would still be crippling. But that's even if a small business can afford to offer health insurance.

As you see, nothing Bush does helps the presently uninsured, or the smaller businesses who need the relief or the middle class who are facing rising healthcare costs quarterly. His proposals benefit the insurance companies, the pharmaceuticals, the million dollar revenue "small" businesses, wall street firms who would manage these HSAs, but not the people.

Bush has no comprehensive preventative measures in his plan to encourage a culture of preventative medicine. It's all FUBAR.

55 million of us, the largest number of people to ever vote against a president, who were hoping for real healthcare, can hear Dick Cheney and the culture of lifers speaking to us. What are they saying? You ask. Listen, they are saying . . .

"Go ____"


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