Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 9:13 am
Here’s the “Healthy Wisconsin” Letter to the Editor of the Year, from a self-described Atheist who decides to lecture Christians on why God supports Senate Democrats:
If I were to label myself religiously, I’d have to say I’m an atheist. However, I think that the myths surrounding Jesus’ life offer good lessons in how we should treat people, especially the ones about how he healed others even if they couldn’t afford a copayment or weren’t covered by his HMO.
Because of this, I am befuddled about why church-going Republican senators are opposed to universal health care in the form of the Healthy Wisconsin plan. I think it’s just good old moral values to want every pregnant woman, regardless of income or residency, to have the best care possible for herself and her baby. Or for every person who needs a life-saving medical procedure to have access to it. Thank God it’s not me!
Now before you fall victim to the venomous propaganda they are putting out against this plan, make sure you do your own research. And search your heart as well as your head. Why shouldn’t we all have equal access to health care? It sounds like the Christian thing to do.
Of course, supporters of Healthy Wisconsin have announced they are willing to drop the program in exchange for $1 billion in new taxes in spending.Â Somewhere, Baby Jesus is crying.
Actually, given theÂ Senate Democrats’ insistence that they are going to continue to push the abominable Healthy Wisconsin plan later in this legislative session, I thought of a relevant Biblical passage.Â From 2 Peter 2:22:
“But that word of the true proverb has happened to them: The dog has turned back to his own vomit; and, The washed sow to her rolling in mud.”
Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 10:01 am
Excellent article in today’s National Review Online by Mark Stein about Hillary Clinton’s proposed health plan:
This week freedom took another hit. Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled her new health-care plan. Unlike her old health-care plan, which took longer to read than most cancers do to kill you, this one’s instant and painless – just a spoonful of government sugar to help the medicine go down. From now on, everyone in America will have to have health insurance.
And, if you don’t, it will be illegal for you to hold a job.
Er, hang on, where’s that in the constitution? It’s perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year-old American with no health insurance either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?
That’s a major surrender of freedom from the citizen to the state. So what, say the caring crowd. We’ve got to do something about those 40 million uninsured! Whoops, I mean 45 million uninsured. Maybe 50 by now. This figure is always spoken of as if it’s a club you can join but never leave: The very first Uninsured-American was ol’ Bud who came back from the Spanish-American War and found he was uninsured and so was first on the list, and then Mabel put her back out doing the Black Bottom at a tea dance in 1926 and she became the second, and so on and so forth, until things really began to snowball under the Bush junta. And, by the time you read this, the number of uninsured may be up to 75 million.
Steyn goes on to deconstruct the often-cited number of uninsured individuals in the U.S., and explains who those people are. A good read from beginning to end.
Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 12:36 pm
The recent debate in Wisconsin about government-runÂ medicine has givenÂ free-market health care advocates the chance to show how competition can work to keep health care costs down.Â More transparency in pricing, they say, will allow consumers to shop for procedures – which, in turn, will keep the cost of those procedures down.Â This differs drastically from the current system, where a third party generally pays the bill for medical care, so nobody really knows how much it costs.
I am 100% on board with the notion of more competition in health care.Â It really is the only effective way of keeping costs down.Â
However, free markets aren’t always pretty.Â Once people are shopping around for cost-effective medical care, the people selling those services will do everything they can to lure people in to their shop.Â Suddenly, you might see knee replacements being sold on TV by some bald, sweaty salesman with a limp.
This effect can already be seen in areas like Lasik eye surgery, which generally isn’t covered by insurance.Â Consumers are welcome to shop around and pay out of pocket for the procedure.Â As a result, doctors who perform Lasik have to compete – which has led to rapidly dropping prices.Â Unfortunately, you also get some clinics running cheesy ads that make the procedure seem artificially cheap – like the ones that offer the surgery for “$299 per eye.”
Exactly how many eyes do I have again?Â I’m sure there are cases where people only need to get one eye lasered, but I would think that the overwhelming majority need both done.Â Thus, they make it seem a lot cheaper in their ad – much like the vacuum cleaner adsÂ offering the “24 easy payment” option.Â What happens when a bunch of people can only afford to get one eye done?Â Are we going to see a bunch of people walking around in circles on the street?
And what’s next?Â Are we going to see ads for “Crazy Larry’s Prosthetic Hut?” (Where a new limb won’t cost you an arm and a leg?)Â Will women be getting their gynecological exams atÂ ”The Love Doctor?” (Cervix with a Smile?)Â Â IsÂ Burger King going to offer up a coupon for a free arterial stent with the purchase of five Whoppers?Â (Of course, it will be the Whoppers that cause you to need the surgery.)
While free markets are always the preferable way of dividing up goods and services, they aren’t without warts.Â Our capitalist system spawned Britney Spears, after all.Â If I see one more John Mellencamp truck ad, I will likely plunge an ice pick into my brain.Â However, we shouldn’t let the commercialization of health care services deter us from the improvement in cost and customer service that are within our reach.
Filed under: Education — Christian Schneider @ 11:02 am
If you think things like “reading” and “writing” are a little too stressful for your young kids, then Madison may have the answer for you.Â Apparently a new method called the “security, survival and self-esteem” system of child meditation has taken hold in Madison-area schools.
Jinendra Kothari has been teaching meditation for the past 35 years.Â During his classes he would overhear teachers talking about the problems they faced in the classroom.
He set out to design a new type of meditation specifically for kids.Â After years of research he developed a system that addresses the issues that all children face: security, survival and self-esteem.
“A lot of these exercises are designed to bring symmetry to their body,” said Jinendra. “Most people see 3S as a simple exercise, but it is not, it is much more beyond it. That’s why I call it beyond Yoga.”
The 3S-Smart Learning System was created to help kids control their emotions, while increasing their overall physical and mental fitness.
After all, it is all about your child and how they feel about themselves.Â So when they finally move on to middle school, they will feel good about their inability to read, write, or deal with criticism.
Actually, studies show that there are benefits to physical activity and motion programs in classrooms, as described in this paper by WPRI’s Sammis White.Â However, those activities deal more with movement and activity, and less with how to channel the spirit of theÂ Dalai Lama.
Since I posted my column detailing my plan for changing the structure of Wisconsin’s minimum drinking age, I’ve had the chance to chat with some friends who have offered some good suggestionsÂ to tweakÂ it.
As I explained in the commentary, the federal government threatens states with the loss of federal transportation dollars if they don’t adhere to the minimum drinking age of 21.Â This amounts to blackmail on behalf of the feds – states can have a minimum age under 21, but it would cost them 5% of their federal transportation aid in year one, and 10% for each year afterwards.
I think there’s a way we can allow 19 and 20-year olds to be responsible, drinkingÂ adults, and fill in the federal revenue that Wisconsin will inevitably lose.Â Here’s the plan:
1.Â Maintain the absolute sobriety standard for drivers under 21.Â Penalties can even be increased for 19 and 20-year olds.
2.Â Allow 19 and 20-year olds to pay a fee to take an alcohol education class.Â Upon completion of the class, these individuals get a license which allows them to purchase and consume alcohol.Â Obtaining the license could be conditional upon approval of the individual’s parent.
3.Â Revenue generated from the fees would go to pay for the classes, supplement the loss in federal revenue, and perhaps fund things like increased public transportation on campuses.Â Whatever level the fee is set, students will pay it.
4.Â Only Wisconsin residents will be eligible for the drinking license, to prevent underage drinkers from crossing the border into Wisconsin only to get drunk.
5.Â With a license, 19 and 20-year olds would be limited in the amount of alcohol they can purchase.Â For instance, they would be unable to purchase kegs, as it would be too easy for them to distribute that alcohol to non-license holders or underage drinkers.
6.Â Stiffen the penalties for underage drinking and possessionÂ (18 and younger).Â Unless, of course, you have a fake Hawaiian ID that says your name is “McLovin.”
7.Â Bars and restaurants who are comfortable with the current 21-year old framework would continue to be able to deny service to 19 and 20-year olds.Â They probably wouldn’t, as they would welcome the revenue.Â Plus, people under 21 drinking in bars is preferable to drinking in an uncontrolled house party.Â Bars have policies in place to make sure patrons aren’t overserved, and they can take actionÂ if theyÂ cause trouble.
Here’s the rationale:Â If you think that there aren’t 19 and 20-year olds out there drinking and driving right now, you’re kidding yourself.Â In fact, the only teaching those people about the dangers and effects of alcohol is their parents, if that.Â Under this plan, every one of those drivers would get classroom instruction ahead of time, instead of what they get now – nothing.
Of course, as soon as the first 19 year oldÂ gets killed in an accident, Mothers Against Drunk Driving would be wailing about the relaxation in the law.Â Except that these accidents happen now – and under the plan, a lot more of these 19 year olds would be getting instruction as to the consequences of drunk driving.Â Which is a lot better situation than what we have now.
Furthermore, I believe courts already mandate alcohol education programs for repeat drunk drivers.Â Those programs could be expanded and funded with the new license fee.Â The framework is already in place to provide this new driver education program.
As I mentioned in the column, the main issue here is trust.Â The federal government doesn’t trust states to make their own decisions about appropriate drinking ages.Â As a result, we trust our young adults with virtually unlimited rights except the right to drink.Â Maybe there’s a better way to loosen our alcohol laws – but it’s certainly worth the discussion.
Filed under: Health Care — Christian Schneider @ 10:58 am
Concerned that their doctors-in-training were working too many marathon shifts, many states have limited the number of hours their residents can work. The thinking was that long shifts often affected patient care, leading residents to make mistakes in their treatments.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association actually shows no correlation between hours worked and the quality of care given to Medicaid patients. They conclude that “implementation of duty hours limitationswas not associated with any significant change in risk-adjustedmortality among Medicare patients.”
The State Policy Network Blog points out the unintended effect of New Jersey’s newly increased cigarette tax – it actually reduces revenue to the state. SPN points to an Asbury Park Press column by Gregg Edwards, which says:
To support the Fiscal Year 2007 state budget, Gov. Corzine successfully proposed increasing the cigarette tax by 17.5 cents, from $2.40 to 2.575 per pack. It was the fourth tax increase in a six-year period and it made New Jersey’s tax the highest state tax in the nation.
Here was the result: In FY 2006, the cigarette tax raised more than $787 million. In FY 2007 – after it was hiked by almost 7 percent – the tax raised only $764 million, or $23 million less than the previous year.
Some of the sales decline was due to smokers giving up an expensive habit, but that can’t explain its magnitude. Many smokers don’t buy cigarettes from New Jersey retailers. Instead, some purchase cigarettes in the states that border New Jersey, all of which have lower cigarette prices. While New Jersey’s sales are plummeting, Delaware’s are increasing. And it’s certainly not the case that more Delaware residents are becoming smokers. Also, some smokers make purchases via the Internet. Others even buy in the black market, which owes its very existence to New Jersey’s steep tax.
So higher taxes means less revenue to the state – and while some of the reduction can be attributed to people quitting smoking, much of it likely means people are getting their cigarettes from other sources. In fact, recent research suggests that higher cigarette taxes don’t, in fact, dissuade low-income smokers from quitting.
Of course, Governor Doyle’s proposed per-pack cigarette tax increase of $1.25 far exceeds the new 17.5 cent tax in New Jersey. So it will take a lot more people quitting or purchasing their cigarettes from out of state or online to offset the tax increase. However, this effect supports Deb Jordahl’s WPRI Commentary from last week, which demonstrates the paradox of state government relying on a new tax that is intended to keep people from a behavior that is needed to keep collecting the tax.