Friday, August 21, 2009

Dicks To Host Town Hall Meetings

Congressman Norm Dicks has scheduled two Town Hall meetings to discuss Health Care Reform and other issues of national and local concern to 6th Congressional District residents. The meetings will take place on Aug. 31, and offer an opportunity for constituents to express their opinions.

The first meeting will be held at Fort Worden State Park in the Commons, Building 210 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The second meeting will be held in the Puget Sound Ballroom of the Kitsap Conference Center in Bremerton from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

These Town Hall Meetings are open to all residents of the 6th Congressional District.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thoughts on the "Bailouts"

Back in 1990, the federal government seized the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for income tax evasion, and as required by law, took over the running of it.

They failed. What had been a highly profitable "institution" of sorts for more than a generation, closed.

So here we are, trusting the entire economy of our country, our banking system, our auto industry — and if the president gets his way, our health care system — to the same bozo's who couldn't turn a profit selling overpriced whiskey in a whore house! Go figure...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Obama Administration Asking You To Snitch On Your Friends and Neighbors

A New Attack on Free Speech

A very troubling development in Washington — a new attack on our First Amendment right of free speech by the Obama Administration.

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote to President Obama expressing his concerns about a recent post on the White House blog written by Macon Phillips, the White House Director of New Media.

In his post, Phillips notes “There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there” both on the web and floating around in chain emails. Phillips states that “Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to”

In a nutshell, the White House is asking you to report on your neighbors, family, and friends who disagree with the President’s policy choices on health care. The White House is also implying that you should think twice before sending an email disagreeing with the President, since it might end up being forwarded to them. The White House email address says it all — let’s “flag” those who disagree with us. For what purpose are these individuals being flagged?

In his letter, Senator Cornyn rightly seeks assurances from President Obama that this new reporting program will be “carried out in a manner consistent with the First Amendment and America’s tradition of free speech and public discourse.” He poses several questions, including, “How do you intend to use the names, email addresses, IP addresses, and identities of citizens who are reported to have engaged in ‘fishy’ speech” and “What action do you intend to take against citizens who have been reported for engaging in ‘fishy’ speech.”

The First Amendment states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Our Founding Fathers fought and died for the right to speak openly and freely about the government.

President Obama campaigned on the promise of a more transparent and open government. His new White House reporting program seems aimed at stifling debate on his health care reform plan. While he knows that he cannot “ban” such speech, I imagine that he thinks that the fear of being reported to the authorities will discourage many naysayers from speaking out. I am concerned about what White House “program” will come next. Who else do we need to “flag?” Will it be those who attend town halls and speak in opposition to health care reform? What about those who write op-eds? Or perhaps those who speak out against mandated abortion coverage on the radio?

The American Center For Law And Justice is sending a letter to President Obama demanding that he withdraw and rescind this citizen reporting program. You can read the letter here.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Republican Health Care Alternative Isn't Real Reform

While Congressional Republicans have been railing against the Obama administration's proposed $634 billion national health care plan, the Democrats in Congress are working feverishly to pass this legislation before adjourning for their summer recess. The administration is pushing hard to get this done now, because they understand that once congressional members go home and face the wrath of their constituents, the chances of getting it done at all will be significantly reduced.

The Republicans understand this, and recently offered their own alternative proposal called The Patients’ Choice Act. Its proposed goals are, “...strengthening the relationship between the patient and doctor; using the forces of choice and competition rather than rationing and restrictions to contain costs; and ensuring universal, affordable health care of all Americans.”

Sounds great. But what would The Patients’ Choice Act actually do?

The aim of the bill is affordable health care for every American offered through a state Health Insurance Exchange, funded via a federal and state partnership. Insurance offered through the Exchange would be required to meet federal benefit standards, which in one instance are defined as the same “health benefits given to Members of Congress.” Every American would be auto-enrolled and participating insurers would be required to cover everyone regardless of age or health history. Premiums would be risk adjusted, and set by an “independent board.”

The model for the program is Massachusetts’ “Connector” plan. And while Massachusetts has been successful in providing health insurance for a large percentage of its state residents, the cost is exorbitant and is bankrupting the state. In fact, Massachusetts has asked the federal government for a $1 billion bail-out, with the shortfall expected to grow to at least $4 billion over the next ten years.

I'm not exactly sure why Republicans think a system bankrupting one state would somehow be financially viable for the entire country.

The Patients’ Choice Act also offers a tax rebate for individuals purchasing their own health insurance. and gives workers the same tax break employers now have for providing health benefits to their employees. This actually makes good sense and would give patients more control over their health care costs and personal medical decisions.

The bill also includes sorely needed reforms for Medicaid and Medicare — two of the largest drains on the federal budget. Low-income Medicaid families would receive direct assistance purchasing private plans that best fit their needs. Medicare would shift to a direct reimbursement model and allow seniors to choose a private plan on the open market, forcing plans to compete against each other based on cost and benefits.

The proposal also includes language to federally coordinate wellness programs, create financial incentives for health information technology, privatize the Veterans Administration System, encourage state-level tort reform, and allow Native Americans to participate in the private health care system.

While there's a lot that makes sense in The Patients’ Choice Act, the foundation of the bill remains centrally-planned, government-controlled health care — which doesn't work — because benefits and prices would be set by bureaucrats, not the marketplace. And although the goal of allowing every citizen the option of choosing health benefits matching those of members of Congress is admirable, let's be realistic, it's not fiscally possible.

In a true free market, insurance companies would compete openly, being allowed to offer a wide array of benefit plans, unencumbered by government benefit mandates — which is why health insurance is so costly in our state and why we basically only have four providers. Insurers would be free to price plans competitively to attract customers. For example, plans targeting seniors wouldn't include mandatory maternity coverage, as centrally planned, one-size-fits-all government mandated coverage undoubtedly will. Patients, and their particular health care needs should create the market, and determine the winners and losers in the insurance industry, not government bureaucrats.

As long as the government sets the benefit and price standards in a centrally-planned fashion, patients will lose their ability to control their own health care decisions, costs will continue to spiral out of control worse than they are now, and demand for health care will result in rationing of care — just as it has in every other country where that socialized medicine is practiced. We have better now. We deserve better in the future.