Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bush Comes to Bridgeport: Johnson, Simmons Stay in D.C.

Tomorrow is a big day for Connecticut: our prodigal son is coming home.

And we hate him.

President George W. Bush, a New Haven native whose family has deep roots in Greenwich, will stop by Bridgeport tomorrow. This gives Democrats a great excuse to do what they do best: complain about what a lousy jerk Bush is.
Farrell is planning a noon rally on Wednesday at the Bridgeport City Hall Annex, a block from where the president is appearing, to criticize both Bush and Shays for the administration's handling of health care matters. She has invited everyday citizens to talk about their experiences with health care delivery.

Rell's two Democratic opponents plan to stop by the Farrell event. (AP "Democrats")
It also gives Republicans a chance to be somewhere else.

Chris Shays, who will be flying in with the president on Air Force One, and Jodi Rell, who unfortunately has made a point out of always being in the state, are on the hook. Shays seems pretty pleased with himself, although Rell, when asked last week if she'd meet with the president, gave this tepid response:
"If the president comes to Connecticut, as the governor of this state I would welcome him and I would be glad to be there with him." (Cummings)
Other high-profile Republicans decided to sit this one out.
The state's other two Republican members of Congress, U.S. Reps. Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson, said they are staying in Washington for legislative business. (AP "Democrats")
Who can blame them? Bush has a 31% approval rating here, where both the war and his domestic policies are increasingly unpopular.

Worse, his motorcade is going to cause massive traffic problems. I'm glad he never comes to Enfield. Can't he take a helicopter? Like, say, the Sikorsky-made Marine One?

Oh. Never mind.

Sources

Cummings, Bill and Peter Urban. "Bridgeport on Bush's schedule." Connecticut Post 1 April, 2006.

"Democrats primed to criticize Republicans for appearing with Bush." Associated Press 4 April, 2006.

89 comments:

TrueBlueCT said...

I hear the purpose of Bush's visit is to welcome Joe Lieberman into either:

A) His administration, or
B) the Republican Party!

Why should any Dem vote for Joe, when he won't commit to dying a Democrat?

Heck, Joe won't even commit to ending this year as one!

Genghis Conn said...

At least that would be more interesting than health savings accounts.

Anonymous said...

TBC, re: "dying a Democrat"?

Should I alert either Commissioner Boyle or Joe's life insurance agent about this fervent hope?

turfgrrl said...

What on earth is Shays thinking? This can hardly be a good campaign move for him in the 4th CD. Maybe Bush is going to announce that Shays is now ambassador to Iraq. I certainly hope Farrell picks up some great photos of Shays and Bush promoting failed policies together 4ever.

Anonymous said...

shays johnson and simmons will all win again...

CT05 Admin said...

Johnson can run, but she cannot hide.

CT05 Admin said...

From the Courant article:

Douglas Schwartz, director of Quinnipiac University Poll, said he can understand why Republicans, especially those in tight races, might be leery of appearing with Bush. Quinnipiac's last poll marked a new low in Connecticut for the president.

"This time, because the war is so unpopular, it could make a difference," he said. "In most elections for Congress, it comes down to the local factors, the individual candidates. But this year, with the war looming over everything and dragging down President Bush's numbers, it could make the difference in close contests."
(emphasis added)

Inference: Nancy Johnson's polling is telling her she has a lot to worry about. And she does.

Anonymous said...

Simmons can run as well, but he can not hide either. The 2nd CT is far to blue this election and will notice how much of a phony that simmons is. Simmons needs the republican party just as much as they need him, and the voters will realize that this election. go ahead with the "coat-tails" from Rell. I dont see it. but go ahead anyway....

Anonymous said...

You guys are just brilliant.

Congress is in session tomorrow. If Johnson and Simmons hang around Bridgeport you'd pillory them for missing work for a photo op. Menawhile Shays gets hammered for attending the event even if it is in his district.

Yeah, it's like billionaires funding special interest attack groups is a bad thing unless George Soros funds them so they can invent charges against Republicans....so much for believing in campaign finance reform

Anonymous said...

Rells coat-tails will help state Reps and Senators not U.S. congressional candidates.

Anonymous said...

Republican is such a strong brand these days...

Look, Rell is getting a Gerald Ford honeymoon. No one wants to deal with the ugliness of a Governor going to jail.

Fortunately for Jodi, she wasn't standing besides Rowland while he was depriving CT of his "honest service". Was she?

In the Rell fantasy-world, Jodi was always out on her own! Rowland conned her into the fold, not b/c of her Sgt. Schultz loyalty, but b/c of her political strengths and integrity.

Whoops! Not really!

Look, Rowland made Rell. They had a twenty-year friendship. And nobody should be fooled by Jodi's Sgt. Schultz act. Rell is hardly a paradigm of virtue!

And just like Jodi's real Republican base, no one in CT should trust her. A Republican suddenly for publicly financed elections? -- yeah, right!

Anonymous said...

You'll have a long time to keep whining about Jodi. Enjoy your misery

Anonymous said...

Rells coat-tails will help state Reps and Senators not U.S. congressional candidates.

I agree. In 2004 the Rowland scandal brought us some amazing Republican losses for General Assembly seats, but Shays and Simmons held on because voters didn't associate them with Rowland.

But they (+Johnson) are associated with Bush....

TrueBlueCT said...

Good lord! Site traffic continues to grow exponentially...

Who would have thought that CT would become Ground Zero in the battle for the future of America!

P.S. Rumor has it that the Lamont delegates are the swing votes heading into the State Convention-- and the hotly contested gubernatorial race. Which begs the question, which Gov candidate will first come out in favor of Dems "voting their consciences?"

I'm curious. Will DLC Dan Malloy pressure his Stamford delegates into voting the Crony-crat Lieberman line??? Or will Dan encourage his people to forget the insider politics, and participate in a basic referendum against the Neo-Cons and their nutso pre-emptive wars!

Anonymous said...

TrueBlue -- DeStefano endorsed Lieberman too. If you're going to attack a Dem in the Gub. race over Lieberman, they both deserve it. They've also both spoken out against the war, btw.

Captain Obvious said...

Speaking of DeStefano, has there been any mention on here of the JI article on him and Malloy sparring over labor support? It's here

Good article. These two are starting to go at it, and it's getting interesting.

Someone should really tell John that you shouldnt qualify certain statements: "'My record is pretty clean,' DeStefano added"

bluecoat said...

Turrffgrrl: Fabrizi is the Mayor of Bridgeport and he will be welcoming Bush. Shays is the Congressman for the District and he is travelling on Tail 28000 with him. This is all protocol stuff. When Reagan was meeting with Gorby, they were not always best friends. And even Rell appeared with Maloy in Stamford yesterday.

And anyone interested in innovation in healthcare financing might want to check out the front page of today's Wall Street Journal for how MA (GOP guv and Donkey legislature) is trying now to do it with new legislation. No link here because the WSJ requires registration.

disgruntled_republican said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bluecoat said...

disgruntled: I think the logistics for when they use what mode of travel when for POTUS is a little more advanced than that but in any event for GC: Sikorsky lost the Marine One contract becuase Stephen Finger put up the wrong entry from the Sikorsky portfolio in the competition - too small and not powerful enough.

bluecoat said...

And for a little debate on the issue of HSA's here is a NHR link.

bluecoat said...

Here you go from today's NYT on the MA legislation for Massachusetts Sets Health Plan for Nearly All

TruBluDem said...

Captain Obvious -

Thanks for the link to the JI story. Pretty interesting. Good pick up on JDS' "my record is pretty clean" line. Doesn't that kind of imply that his record is a little dirty? Not a good choice of words. Slap must have been busy with his new daughter -- as he should be -- for that one to slip through.

disgruntled_republican said...

GC-

I just heard from a credible source that Malloy has asked Enfield Mayor Pat Tallarita to run with him for Lt. Gov. You heard his name tossed around at all?

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why they could land at tweed and then copter to bpt....instead they close the largest highway in the state so they can drive to bpt from NH....not exactly helping the economy.

bluecoat said...

The Business Council of Fairfield County invited him to speak. Blame them if you think the logistics will hurt the economy not the Secret Service for shutting down traffic and doing their job.

turfgrrl said...

bluecoat,

I think Voinovich from Ohio handled the radioactivity seeping off Bush a little better. But, let's say if they are driving down I-95 from tweed that Shays might take the occasion to point out how we need major federal highway dollars to improve the highways. I wonder if Bush will remark that they've been working on the same bits of I-95 since he was born in NH...

On another note, the MA insurance plan is a step in the right direction, but still relies on insurance companies. Another direction might be like this Oregon proposal

disgruntled_republican said...

For christ's sake...he is still the President of the United States whether you like him or not. He, as the holder of that office, deserves respect. To be critical of Chris Shays for traveling with him is ridiculous. The Democrat Mayor of Bridgeport is going to be there too...haven't heard anyone critize him. And don't try to tell me that if he was traveling to East Hartford Larson wouldn't be with him.

Genghis Conn said...

disgruntled_republican,

Tallarita? Really? First I've heard of it.

I've only met him a few times, but he seemed like a decent guy and people here seem to like him.

If anyone from Enfield is on the ticket, it would be great for us. Enfield is also one of those big, marginal towns that a Democratic gubernatorial candidate would absolutely need to win.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more it kind of makes sense. It's geographic diversity, Tallarita's from a strategically vital town, he's well-known among area Democrats (he's Courtney's treasurer right now)... why not?

bluecoat said...

turffgrrl: Shays is a rep while V is a senator; I see a difference there - and CT's transpo problems still go back to state govt. because Shays has never been turned down money for a transportation project. The nitwits who run this state - guv, legislators and commissioners - have no idea what to do except spend, spend, spend and that is not the answer - Bush will be driving through half of the quarter billion dollar so-called I-95 greater Bridgeport improvement that hasn't done anything to improve traffic flow but that's what the leaders wanted and tha'ts what they got - and neither the citizenry nor the business community nor the press is up in arms about the waste and failure.

In the oregon v. the mass. proposal is where we differ as you, a Democrat, and me, a Republican; I guess. We essentially have a single payer today for 40% of the population in medicare and medicaid - and in reality that's where the big bucks are spent. If we want to go 100% to single payor, I'd rather just see the VA system for everyone. The single payer - medicare and medicaid - system as pointed out before in some of my links sets up perverse economic incentives to the greedy doctors and hospitals providers and it has been doing it for 40 years.

I happen to think there needs to be a better dialogue in the US Senate on this and the nitwits at Coommon Good here would like you to beleive there is but when you get to the details you will see great disparities between the DLC and the Senate Republican Policy group,

disgruntled_republican said...

GC-

Agreed on most accounts. The region is vital to any Gov. candidate and would be great for Enfield. Imagine if he runs and somehow wins and then Kissel wins and Tallarita the Rep wins...we would have the LT. Gov, the Deputy Minority Leader of the Senate and the Deputy Majority leader of the House all from Enfield. Not too shabby.

As far as people liking him...seems they either like him or hate him so he would fit in perfectly. Personally, he needs to stop telling people that "he receives no compensation" for being Mayor...if you need to remind people at every meeting, why did you run. Sorry, got of topic a bit...I know he is Joe's treasurer, as he was the last time as well. Anyway, guess we'll see!

Gabe said...

Anon 10:40 - I am assuming that tweed is not an option because of the size of the runways.

Dis_Repub - i believe the thing being criticized was Shays' tactics. In the political climate right now, it would be better for him to not be in a picture with Bush.

bluecoat said...

And turffgrrrl: They landed as it says here and undoubetdly have crossed the Q Bridge (albeit DeLauro's territory)which will be getting tons of federal funds and as you may recall was somewhat held up and hijacked because neither DeStfano nor ConnDOT could get their act together. And having looked at the traffic patterns that will be created when it is done, they really could have done mush better but this afterall is CT where progress is measured by how deep we are in debt.>

bluecoat said...

Gabe: check my earlier post - they had planned to land two 747's at Tweed and i assume they used them - the helicopter business has to do with logistics and security - i saw it on PBS once whne they weren't covering boring UCONN basketball..

CT05 Admin said...

bluecoat:
If we want to go 100% to single payor, I'd rather just see the VA system for everyone.

Paul Krugman recently made exactly that case.

Gabe said...

Sorry - missed it. It just seems hard to believe that a 747 could use tweed given the size of the runways and the airport.

bluecoat said...

I wasn't plageurising Professor Krugman; it just makes sense if you want natioanl healthcare to do it that way rahter than expand the medicare and medicaid disasters. There is even something in today's NYT where Suozzi is saying they are paying for dead people in NY but I only read the headline.

I still would prefer to see more consumer driven health services but it means busiting up the AMA and AHA monoploy and typing on a blog by me won't do that.

Anonymous said...

Quick question: does anyone know the date of the Republican Party's Convention this year?

turfgrrl said...

bluecoat,
The VA system is a model of efficiency, and there was a great write up in Washington Monthly before Kurgman here. I certainly wouldn't object to a VA system for all.

Part of the problem of our healthcare system is the entrenched stake holders. So yes the AHA and AMA and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have no incentive to change based on their current revenue models. There is no profit, allegedly, in healthy people.

I like to view my take on healthcare as an investment in the American economy. Healthy people are more productive people. Providing universal healthcare eliminates the unfair burden placed on corporations to provide it to their employees. Universal healthcare also enables people to have greater mobility in job choice and location choice. Walmart, effectively agrees with this philosophy as a recent memo revealed, and frankly I find it neither offensive nor untrue. The fact that money sways politicians to adhere to bad economic decisions is endemic to both parties.

disgruntled_republican said...

Anon 1223:

The Republican Convention is May 27th at CCSU.

bluecoat said...

turffgrrrl:And I would prefer to see individuals take responsibilty for their healthcare in the long run as they did prior to WWII and you would prefer to see the goverment take it over. I would not say you are wrong anymore than I think I am wrong. What's wrong is we have no national healthcare policy vision that our govt. can agree about and work toward - both sides are nibbling around the edges because they remebere waht happened to Hillary..

CT05 Admin said...

Just for the sake of clarity, I didn't intend any accusation of plagiarism, bluecoat. I only meant to offer a corroborating opinion.

Turfgrrl's last paragraph hits it right on the head. This is both accurate and, I believe, the politically winning argument.

CT05 Admin said...

In the latest independent survey, 81 percent of VHA hospital patients express satisfaction with the care they receive, compared to 77 percent of Medicare and Medicaid patients.

From the Washington Monthly piece turfgrrl linked. Interesting tidbit. 77% satisfaction leads me to question bluecoat's characterization "the medicare and medicaid disasters".

Whereas the HMO model is clearly a failure, and the argument for so-called "market based" health care completely lacking in supporting evidence, except at the very high end of the market where money is just a number.

bluecoat said...

I didn't take it that you accused me of plagiarism. Only the chancellors of a CSU outlet plagiarises. I don't disagree with what truffgrrl said in that paragraph about people being healthy and money driving politicians actions and even to say it is "politically winning" as you do may fly but your candidate is as naive as his opponent is antiquated.

Next to healthcare and transportation in CT, the outrageous costs of a state offered higher education need to be addressed too. None of this is happeneing form anybody - except for 'politically winning' statements.

bluecoat said...

If you are going to run a campaign you should look at more than a percentage satisfaction #. The perverse economic incentives in medicare/medicaid drive up costs and that was pointed out in half a dozen links that I ahve already posted. Maybe you missed the FOI beef with Rell's DSS Commissioner on getting stats on the quality and HMO delivery of Medicaid - and that is how it is delivered in CT. It's 16% of our GDP but the pols will reduce the issue to a dsoundbite at election time and then do nothing as usual.

Chris MC said...

For the record, I have nothing to do with the Murphy campaign. In fact the only reason I was posting under CT05 Admin was because I linked to the blog.

I am suggesting that your analysis is flawed because your underlying assumption - that market forces will impose discipline on medical care as they do in most other areas - is flawed.

The conclusion you draw is open to question. Medicare and medicaid are not blank checks. Ask doctors and hospitals, and they'll tell you that the remittances from these programs are insufficient to the point where many who have a choice stop accepting patients under these plans. The availability of care is heavily influenced by the quality of your insurance (or other ability to pay).

Yet, costs keep rising. Premiums keep going up. Basic care is rationed to the point where something like 50 million people have no health coverage. Which is to say they have greatly reduced or no access to health care.

The idea that I should haggle with my physician is ludicrous. I'm sick, I need his or her help, or my child, or mother, or grandfather needs them, and you suggest we ought to dicker? We aren't talking about used cars here. I do, however, have to spend an awful lot of my valuable time dickering with the HMO's to get them to pay bills they ought to be paying.

Check and see what proportion of our health care expenditures go to administrative costs (HMO's). Now check and see what proportion of Medicare premiums go to cover administrative costs. No contest.

(And I'll post under my own name at this point.)

bluecoat said...

Try again; Cardiologists and heart surgeons may be complaining about their incomes but that doesn't mean they aren't making enough under the perverse compensation schedule of Medicare. The 3% admin cost of medicaid is a bogus plus point BTW because it only considers the govt. cost. And you ignored - again - that Medicaid is delivered by HMO's in CT.

And you should read what I say and not assume what I mean if you wish to succeed in whatever it is you are pushing in politics.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

If the two of you don't mind not squabbling for a second, let me ask this: Who here wants the cheerful and crisply efficient clerks of the U.S. Postal Service (God bless 'em) to perform their next appendectomy? How about filling out some IRS forms while you wait for an angioplasty? Because that's the level of attentive service we can expect from a national health plan.

Chris MC said...

Gettin kinda testy there bluecoat.

I believe I have read what you said, and responded substantively. But thanks for the unwarranted advice.

As to the "bogus" 3%, that begs the question, where is the rest of the administrative expenses, whatever figure you settle on, going in medicare?

You're insistently glomming medicaid and medicare together, and there is basis for that, but we're talking about the administrative costs.

But lest you continue to misinterpret me, I'll respond to your point about HMO's and Medicaid. Isn't possible that the HMO's as a delivery mechanism might be worthy of scrutiny?

BTW, and speaking of reading what others actually write, you've conveniently inverted my argument. I wasn't referring to surgeons, I am talking about the inaccessability of basic care. I'm not posting here to be agreed with, unless you do, but will you kindly rip my argument apart, not something I didn't say?

[Oh great, diff anonymous wants this to be a WWF type match ;-) ]

turfgrrl said...

There problem with healthcare being under a freemarket system is that health is a societal good. There are some things that just make more sense to have governmental disbursement over, much like highways and national defense. It makes no sense for people in fairfield cty to try and create a submarine perimeter defense and standing army when those services are more equally spread reginally and serve national interests.

Fundamentally it is in or national interests to have universal healthcare. It is not incidental that most major medical breakthroughs have occurred during a time of war, since at those points in history it seems or nation grasped the facts that there was a direct correlation to a nation's strength both militarily and from an manufacturing standpoint and the health of its people.

I don't think you need to go back to pre WWII to see how something went terribly awry in our system, healthcare became unmanageable in the 70's. It's the 70's that introduced personal debt (credit cards etc) and managed health care corporations that operated for profit fueling the wave of the privatisation of health care institutions.

The challenge of a universal healthcare system is to merge both a path of commoditization of basic services, and allow for innovation and profits to be derived from innovation. In other words, a broken arm to be x-ray'd and set in a cast should be inexpensive to the consumer, but new techniques in rehabilitating the arm should be incentivized so that the care giver benefits from that innovation. Right now, doctors that are GPs are in short supply since the profits are to be found in specialization. That has got to stop.

I think bluecoat also touched on a point, that the AMA is a monopoly. The AMA prevents efficiencies in care giving by obstructing any efforts to regulate its members. They are the main obstruction for any kind of "consumer rating" service.

Chris MC said...

Yep, I think that is a fruitful line of discussion, and not partisan (unless you are the AMA). Along those lines is the discussion of schedules of established proceedures (like setting a broken arm) and administrative courts to deal with routine issues of malpractice. Both require comprehensive record keeping and transparency/access to information, which we don't have.

Gotta run.....

bluecoat said...

Medicare is administered in every state I am familiar with by an insurance company. As for the administrarive costs: Ask your doctor?

The VA is, in fact, highly efficeient and effective as a provider of health services and Medicare doesn't even begin to touch it. As for CT Medicaid; read again; I think what DSS is doing sucks.

Solutions? Not on this post.

bluecoat said...

turffgrrl: the AMA also controls the supply of the types of medical professionals through medical shool enrollment, residencies/internships and lobbying. deciding to simply pay the infrastructure delivery by one payor won't fix that. The WWII reference goes to when companies first decided to pay for health insurance to keep workers because they were not allowed to give their employees raises r the wage and price controls put in palce during the war - it's the same reason the defense companies built housing - government intervention whether it is price controls or social engineering always screws things up in the long run.

bluecoat said...

And I almost forgot to answer Chris the govt. can solve it all on this I wasn't referring to surgeons, I am talking about the inaccessability of basic care it's because medicare and Medicaaid pay surgeons and specialists better than internists - and the private insurers pay in line with Medicare.

Chris MC said...

Heh - that'd be something huh?

April 5, 2006
Dateline: Cyberspace
BLOGGERS SOLVE HEALTHCARE CRISIS.

Turns out it was pretty simple after all.


Both houses of Congress met in special session and Presidents Bush and Cheney flew in from political fundraisers today to laud the work of "bluecoat", "turfgrrl", "Chris MC" and "Ghengis Conn" as they resolved one of the most difficult and expensive problems facing America....."

bluecoat said...

Very funny - and I mean that sincerely - but you don't think it is the dumb-ass mainstream-society- is-not-my-realm doctors who will solve it. As for med mal; it's about negligence and incompetence in CT; and shoving it off as an 'administrative issue is bull' and not respecting the rights of the consumer.

Chris MC said...

But bluecoat you're insisting on arguning within your premise. Turfgrrl points the problem with the system out clearly.

I'll put it somewhat differently. As a businessman, your basic objective is to maximize profit, which means in part externalizing as much cost as possible, paying out as small a percentage of your revenue as possible.

Like dumping toxic waste in the back lot, getting rid of less profitable operations such as insuring people who aren't so healthy shifts those costs outside of your enterprise.

Before too long, at the risk of taking this analogy obnoxiously [sic] far, you have a brownfield or a superfund site - or people who are chronically undercared for. Next thing you know, the site starts to leak into the aquifer, and now everybody has to deal with it in a much more expensive way.

Analogy - people showing up in the ER. Other analogy - people being less productive or unproductive - like a brownfield nobody can redevelop - because of health issues or unportability of health benefits. You've said nothing to address these very real and practical problems.

And some on the left's proposed solution - to force employers to pay insurance costs - is no solution, btw.

bluecoat said...

I happen to agree with Bush on the Community Health Centers but they need to be brought up to the quality and uniformity of the VA - the WTNH link is here and i only read the synopis and didn't listen the forum but I've heard it before.

bluecoat said...

OK, Chris (I was posting while you were) but let's nationalize Sikorsky, Lockheed and everybody else who supplies the government then.

polwatcher said...

hey, why are simmons and johnson staying in washington? looks like there are no votes in the house today... so are they just scared of being seen with the guy they helped elect?

Chris MC said...

I understand what you're saying about the medmal - I am definitely not saying that though. I am talking about the fact that a lot of medmal goes unaddressed because it doesn't meet the threshold of adjudication.

Chris MC said...

But (nationalization) that isn't my argument. Again, some stuff just can't be profitable, and some stuff won't respond to market forces. A lot of basic medical care falls into that category. High end, technology-sensitive, capital-intensive stuff, where real innovation happens, different story.

And some stuff, like weapons, is a whole other discussion.

Chris MC said...

"He said he wants small businesses to be able to pool risk the way big business does, and he made a big pitch for the health care savings accounts, saying people will be more careful in selecting health care if they are paying for part of it themselves."

I'm sorry, this is just nonsense as usual. What, to start, does he mean by small businesses pooling risk the way big business does? Short answer, nothing. He's got NOTHING. It's pure BS.

Second, in case it has escaped somebody here as it evidently has the President, the largest corporations have steadily moved away from company centric benefits - think GM's crushing defined-benefit plan they are spending BILLIONS to buy out of - to portable ones - think GE's move to 401K's. The President is just bass ackward on this.

And health care savings accounts? Really? People will be more responsible? Mr. President, 50 million people already have this option, and no other.

IT AIN'T WORKING.

Finally, if pooling risk makes sense, shouldn't we pool as much risk as possible? (Answer, yes). So he is contradicting himself in one breath.

How can a man be this stupidly obstinant?

Chris MC said...

"The protesters include anti-war people, health insurance people and supporters of senator wannabe, Ned Lamont"

Ouch.

Is there a Lieberman mole in the WTNH operation?

turfgrrl said...

It's funny when Bush talksa bout something his staff hasn't researched for him. Small business already shares big corporate risk pools, particularly here in CT. Most chamber of Commerces have an insurance program that small businesses can obtain insurance through. It is competitive with corporate rates, I should know I've experienced both.

The problems that low wage businesses, let's stop calling them small businesses, face is that they are often low margin businesses and so focus on the cost management more than the cost benefits. Think walmart for a prime example of a low wage low profit margin type of business. So the nail and hair salons of the state, can get those big corporate rates, but simply can't afford to pay them out. Nor can the employees afford to buy it either.

Health savings accounts are great ... for healthy people. A $5k health savings account gets wiped out by a single emergency room visit. The differential on insurance with a $500 deductible and a $5k deductible is on average less than $1500/yr, so for the poker players amongst us, you only come out ahead if you are healthy.

The idea though that consumers will regulate their health care consumption because of this "participation" is misguided. Unlike car repair, you can't go around pricing out different doctors for services even when have the leisure of time. Do you think George Pataki did a price check on his emergency appendectomy?

The French have it right in their system. They make you pay out of pocket for your care, but then publish rates for procedures that they will reimburse. Consequently you can shop around for care at the "government market" rates or decide to pay more for "premium" care. Which means that there is a healthy supplemental insurance market to bridge the gap. (Much like our gap insurance market for car leases.)

Chris MC said...

turfgrrl -
What about the educational expenses for French medical professionals? How is that paid, and who determines how many doctors, nurses, specialists, etceteras?

turfgrrl said...

Chris Mc,
That raises a broader issue about Education. The French education system, much like the rest of Europe is a meritocracy, unlike here. You have to pass oral exams and peer review exams before advancing to higher education. I'm not familiar enough with how doctors, clinicians and medical staff get their education and jobs and continuing education.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

*BUZZ* Thank you for playing, but you just said the magic word, "meritocracy."

I'm sorry, but we here in America, land of lawyers and lawsuits, affirmative action, equal rights, civil rights, special rights, my rights, your rights, and right on red, will not stand for anything as straitforward as a meritocracy.

turfgrrl said...

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!),
It's an interesting question though as to why recently it has become such a part of American character to promote the fake ideal of everyone has equal opportunities to the extent that systems we had in place have been broken to the lowest common denominator.

I don't think its affirmative action, civil rights etc that forces the GOP to promote incompetence to the highest level in public service since the Hoover administration? So what is it?

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Well, I'd disagree with your premise that it's the GOP that has promoted incompetence ... seems to me incompetence is promoted pretty universally:

-- Labor unions, which defend their members at all costs, irrespective of their offense

-- Medical societies and bar associations, which are either unable or unwilling - usually both - to police their own but adamantly refuse to submit to outside "interference" with their hallowed ranks

-- Civil service, which is so entrenched as to be synonymous with "unable to be fired" (and is ostensibly apolitical)

-- Academia, which has "tenure" for a chosen few and a permanent underclass for others

-- And yes, political appointees, who come in all flavors, Republican and Democrat alike

The list goes on, but I hope you see my point.

bluecoat said...

What you say about labor unions and bar associations is sometimes not always true. What you say about medical societiies is absolutley true. Lawyers, and in particular trial lawyers have to contend with judges - just look at how many times in recent years the CT Supreme Court has found the state prosecutors engagrd in prosecutorial misconduct. And on the state emeployee side, at least in CT my experience is that the AFSCME do work - are there contracts too lucrative? Yup, but the guv signed off on them. And you didn't say word about the municipal teachers and administrators,

But your list plays well with the right wing that doesn't look at the details.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Bluecoat:

First, I was making a deliberate effort to NOT play to the "right wing," as I am no rabid partisan on either side.

Secondly, by labor unions I was not singling out state employee unions, though perhaps I should have realized in CT when one says unions it is state employee unions people think of first. Frankly, I think almost all unions are guilty of overzealously defending the lowest common denominator - which was turfgrrl's original point.

bluecoat said...

The CBIA here likes to complain about state employee unions but have they oofered up theri expertise to modenize stae govt. Of course not; they make too mush money off of it the way it is. The same thing is true of the CT State Mediacla Society here with their undying support of mandates on what should be added to an basic health insurance policy and theirr undying support of work rule legislation to protect their turf - just as an example the use of physician asistants has greatly lowere the cost of healh insurance/services in other states but in CT what they can do is severley limited by. Toghthert eh doctors and hopital administrators spend over $$1million lobbying Hartford to maintain the status quo and their incomes - all in the name of the public - BULL>

bluecoat said...

I have worked with labor unions for 30 years and at the end of the day what you say has not been true when I dealt with them honestly, respectfully and firmly - straightforward in business. The ruels were alittle different than dealing with non- organized groups but the same principles applied. When there is a big bully union, there has usually been a laissez-faire mgt. that alowed them to get that way. While the auto workers at GM are not really bullies, the company did make them promises that if they could not keep.

turfgrrl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
turfgrrl said...

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) ,
Your list is interesting and has some merit but it also absolves the entity that is responsible for hiring incompetent people in the first place.

At any point in the educational system, in civil service, in manufacturing it is the hiring manager who picks the employee. And in every case there is a probation period to determine which employee is kept.

Unions would not exist were it not for management's incompetence regarding employee safety issues. And rather than embracing higher standards, we have this long ugly history of bad management decisions at the expense of labor and share holders.

bluecoat said...

turrfgrrrl: It's also a myth that you can not dismiss or discipline a union employee for cause.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Turfgrrl - I'll grant much of what you say, but you must grant that the bad apple can't always be spotted in a probationary period. And in any event I tried to get beyond the merely union example because I think the broader point is important: that this is a nation where the LCD is coddled, even encouraged, to the point where the myth of equal access - an antimeritocracy - is maintained through lawsuits, outrageous jury awards and legal Twister.

bluecoat - maybe so, but I pity the poor bastard who has to do it (because I have)

bluecoat said...

There you go again; I know of few 'outrageous' jury awards here in CT.

bluecoat, out.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Bluecoat: Thanks for picking nits, but who said I was limiting the frame of reference to Connecticut?

turfgrrl said...

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!),
What outrageous jury awards? What legal twister? I think it is fair to say that the results speak from themselves, law suits that are litigated ultimately have no impact on LCD issues because if there is no merit to the suit it gets settled or dismissed.

One of the problems with saying that its the legal system that is the cause is that the argument neglects to consider that the legal system is the check and abalance against an unregulated system. If it was against the law to do X, then the civil case wouldn't be needed.

bluecoat said...

Genghis did; check the title of this blog. Bye, bye; or check out the Chamber of Commerce's national website where they rate states by litgation botherment; I haven't checked it latley and don't have time for a link but CT ranked in the Moderate range last I checked.

And on the national class action nonsense that has been a problem, our own Chris Dodd brokered a deal for legislation that passed last year in the Senate to begin to stop the process of jury shopping for national stuff.

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

Well, just to pick a couple of the more absurdum examples, take the Bakke case from California and, more recently, the lady with the hot coffee in her lap.

But we seem to be straying pretty far afield from what I thought was the original issue - one where I thought we agreed - which was that people in this country will not stand for an educational system predicated on merit rather than some mythic notion of equal access.

Anonymous said...

I read a great pamphlet about the lady with the hot coffee in her lap case (in the interest of disclosure, I got it from a lawyer). McDonalds was sneaky on that case and deserved to have a verdict against them. (Although the woman did not collect millions as some would have you believe)

Anonymous said...

The facts of the case, which caused a jury of six men and six women to find McDonald's coffee was unreasonably dangerous and had caused enough human misery and suffering that no one should be made to suffer exposure to such excessively hot coffee again, will shock and amaze you:

McFact No. 1: For years, McDonald's had known they had a problem with the way they make their coffee - that their coffee was served much hotter (at least 20 degrees more so) than at other restaurants.

McFact No. 2: McDonald's knew its coffee sometimes caused serious injuries - more than 700 incidents of scalding coffee burns in the past decade have been settled by the Corporation - and yet they never so much as consulted a burn expert regarding the issue.

McFact No. 3: The woman involved in this infamous case suffered very serious injuries - third degree burns on her groin, thighs and buttocks that required skin grafts and a seven-day hospital stay.

McFact No. 4: The woman, an 81-year old former department store clerk who had never before filed suit against anyone, said she wouldn't have brought the lawsuit against McDonald's had the Corporation not dismissed her request for compensation for medical bills.

McFact No. 5: A McDonald's quality assurance manager testified in the case that the Corporation was aware of the risk of serving dangerously hot coffee and had no plans to either turn down the heat or to post warning about the possibility of severe burns, even though most customers wouldn't think it was possible.

McFact No. 6: After careful deliberation, the jury found McDonald's was liable because the facts were overwhelmingly against the company. When it came to the punitive damages, the jury found that McDonald's had engaged in willful, reckless, malicious, or wanton conduct, and rendered a punitive damage award of 2.7 million dollars. (The equivalent of just two days of coffee sales, McDonalds Corporation generates revenues in excess of 1.3 million dollars daily from the sale of its coffee, selling 1 billion cups each year.)

McFact No. 7: On appeal, a judge lowered the award to $480,000, a fact not widely publicized in the media.

McFact No. 8: A report in Liability Week, September 29, 1997, indicated that Kathleen Gilliam, 73, suffered first degree burns when a cup of coffee spilled onto her lap. Reports also indicate that McDonald's consistently keeps its coffee at 185 degrees, still approximately 20 degrees hotter than at other restaurants. Third degree burns occur at this temperature in just two to seven seconds, requiring skin grafting, debridement and whirlpool treatments that cost tens of thousands of dollars and result in permanent disfigurement, extreme pain and disability to the victims for many months, and in some cases, years.

Anonymous said...

also for those who are screaming "personal responsibilty!!!!", the McDonald's woman had her verdict reduced because she was at least partially responsible for the accident.

turfgrrl said...

A Different Anonymous (No! Really!)
Yes we certainly strayed ... back to education in a moment, here's my problem with the mcdonalds coffee case. Simply, the woman, Stella Liebeck, had bought her cup of coffee at the drive-in window of an Albuquerque McDonald's. Now, last I checked, the car is not the optimal place to be handling a beverage, hot or otherwise. If we substitute boiling pot of pasta for coffee, we see the absurdity of this basic point. When you are in a car, the only thing you should be doing is driving the car, not opening the lid of your coffee and adding milk and sugar, which is what she was doing. The jury thought differently, and awarded her $2.7 million, however the judge reduced the punitive damages award to $480,000, even though the judge called McDonald's conduct reckless, callous and willful.

Then, after that, both parties agreed to a settlement of the claim for a sum reported to be much less than the judge's reduced award.

So it seems that our legal system worked but our educational system is still up for debate.

onceupona time said...

turrfffgrrrl: the media should be thrown in there too - they ofetn don't get to the bottom of an issue such as the McD's coffee incident up for discussion - and it weren't in CT; I might point out.

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