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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Why Health Care Insurance Is So Expensive

Government mandates coverage. Regardless what insurance companies want to cover. One example - the latest of many:
Assembly looks at insurance for autism
By Mason Adams, The Roanoke Times

Richmond -- Lavada Robertson said she was stunned when a doctor confirmed her 212-year-old daughter Audreanna had autism.

Then she found out her health care coverage, provided through her job at a major financial institution, wouldn't pay for treatments for the condition.

In a little more than a year since then, Robertson, of Hardy in Franklin County, said she has racked up nearly $30,000 in credit and other debts to pay for Audreanna's autism treatment. Robertson said she's on her third mortgage.

That's why she and 200 others from around the state gathered Thursday at a rally in Capitol Square as this year's General Assembly session kicked off.

The crowd was there to lobby for a bill that would require private insurance companies to provide coverage for autism. Such a bill has been introduced in the state Senate and House of Delegates. It would require insurers cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder for people younger than 21, with an annual maximum benefit of $36,000. [link]
Are insurance companies willing to cover such things as autism (to the tune of $36000 a year per patient)? You bet. Are they willing to pass those costs on to policyholders? In a heartbeat.

Add the cost of insuring autistic children (and adults?) to the costs of hundreds of other treatments that state and federal governments have mandated by law and you get ...

... our outrageously expensive health care delivery system.

But it's okay. Obama is going to make it all better ...

- - -

* A footnote: "There is no standard, universally accepted treatment of autism; in fact, every single method has its detractors." No problem. We'll just pay for them all.

This Ain't Good

A sudden numbing dread hangs over the heads of MeadWestvaco employees over in Covington. I've been wondering when we'd be reading this news:
Anxiety stirs at paper plant
By Duncan Adams, The Roanoke Times

Anxiety stirred anew Thursday among employees of the sprawling MeadWestvaco paper mill in Covington after the Richmond-based corporation announced plans to close or restructure 12 to 14 of its manufacturing facilities and to lay off about 10 percent of its worldwide work force of 22,000.

MeadWestvaco spokeswoman Alison von Puschendorf said the company is in the process of identifying which plants will be affected. She said restructuring or closures of plants will likely occur throughout 2009, and she attributed MeadWestvaco's plans to the struggling national economy.

"Right now, we haven't announced anything for Covington," she said. "The degree to which this facility is impacted we can't yet say." [link]
There will be those who will argue that the costly strike that took place there recently has no effect on today's actions or tomorrow's decisions regarding plant closings. I beg to differ. Those responsible for decision-making are going to look at the costs of doing business at each plant, productivity levels, and labor/management relationships. I can't speak to the relative costs at the plant but it's easy to determine what the mood is among the hourly workers at the Covington plant. They hold MeadWestvaco in high disregard.

That's not a plus when it comes down to plant closing time.

Predictable. So predictable.

And If You Believe That ...

... I've got an excellent stock in a New York bank I'd like to sell you.

Still in campaign mode:

Obama Pledges Entitlement Reform

And I pledge to quit listening to his empty, insincere pledges.

This'll Tick 'em Off

Obama is becoming more and more like Bush? I'd say it's way too early for that, but others see the trend:
Don't Believe Bush 43 Got It Right? Just Ask (Or Listen To) Obama 44
By Charles Krauthammer, writing in Investor's Business Daily

Except for Richard Nixon, no president since Harry Truman leaves office more unloved than George W. Bush.

Truman's rehabilitation took decades. Bush's will come sooner. Indeed, it has already begun. The chief revisionist? Barack Obama.

Vindication is being expressed not in words but in deeds — the tacit endorsement conveyed by the Obama continuity-we-can-believe-in transition.

It's not just the retention of such key figures as Secretary of Defense Bob Gates or Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner ...

It is the repeated pledge to conduct a withdrawal from Iraq that does not destabilize its new democracy ...

It is the great care Obama is taking in not pre-emptively abandoning the anti-terror infrastructure that the Bush administration leaves behind.

Explained Obama: "Dick Cheney's advice was good, which is let's make sure we know everything that's being done," i.e., before throwing out methods simply because Obama campaigned against them. [link]
That last quip has to hurt those who despise one of the greatest vice presidents this country has ever had. "Cheney's advice was good." Ouch.

Interesting. Maybe, when it's all said and done, we'll find out that Bush wasn't the wrong-headed simpleton that so many today think he is.

The Blind Leading The Blind

It's all right, Ms. Napolitano. Your (soon-to-be) boss doesn't know what he's doing either:

Homeland Security Nominee Vows to Safeguard Country, but Offers Few Specifics

"Uhhhh ... I'm going to look for terrorists ... a lot?"

This Ain't Going Well

Three headlines in this morning's New York Times should scare the Wheaties out of you:

Rescue of Banks Hints at Nationalization

Bank of America to Receive Additional $20 Billion

Senate Releases Second Portion of Bailout Fund

With no bottom in sight ...

A Miracle

Paula told me about this story on the phone as the news was breaking. I feared the worst (remembering that Air Florida flight that crashed into the Potomac after takeoff from Washington National on a frigid day in 1982, a horrible, horrible tragedy). Instead we have a story that ends marvelously well:
All 155 Escape Jet’s Plunge Into Hudson
By Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times

A US Airways jetliner with 155 people aboard lost power in both engines, possibly from striking birds, after taking off from La Guardia Airport on Thursday afternoon. The pilot ditched in the icy Hudson River and all on board were rescued by a flotilla of converging ferries and emergency boats, the authorities said.

What might have been a catastrophe in New York ... was averted by a pilot’s quick thinking and deft maneuvers, and by the nearness of rescue boats, a combination that witnesses and officials called miraculous. [link]
That pilot deserves a medal. Or a laying on of hands and a blessing from Barack Obama. A hero if there ever was one (the pilot, not Mr. Wonderful).

- - -

Headline of the day: "E-Mail Note: ‘I Landed in the Hudson’"

Sayonara

Another lefty newspaper has filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Shucks.
Star Tribune files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
By David Phelps, Star Tribune

The [Minneapolis] Star Tribune, saddled with high debt and a sharp decline in print advertising, filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition Thursday night.

Minnesota's largest newspaper will try to use bankruptcy to restructure its debt and lower its labor costs. [link]
A note to creditors who might consider renegotiating this newspaper's debt. Lowering labor costs and "restructuring" will do nothing to turn that other factor around - that "sharp decline in print advertising."

Buggy whip manufacturers in 1925 were restructuring and reducing staff. To no avail. Their products enticed no customers.

Revenue, fellas. You need revenue.

Gimme Some o' That Global Warming

It's 1˚ outside. With a -15˚ windchill.

I'm not one to be small-minded enough to blame it on global cooling (like the "open-minded" like to blame a hot summer day on global warming), but I could sure use some of that warming effect they keep telling me about this morning.

Actually, I know what to pin the blame on. Weather. It's been, all these millennia, nothing more.

Can Someone Save Us From This Guy?

Is it any wonder why Congress is held in the lowest regard ever measured in our 220 year history?

With the markets imploding and retirees' savings being destroyed, with the mortgage industry in ruins and unemployment on the rise, with federal and state deficits mounting, this nitwit (who looks eerily like Dr. Jekyll's Mr. Hyde, with bad teeth) demands action on ...

... global warming:
Waxman promises quick action on climate
By H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press Writer

Washington (AP) - The chairman of a key House committee said Thursday he will move "quickly and decisively" to push legislation curbing greenhouse gases with a goal of passing climate legislation out of his committee before Memorial Day.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., opening the new Congress' first hearing on the threats from global warming, said inaction on the climate issue is causing uncertainties that make it more difficult to emerge from the recession.

"Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence," said Waxman. "U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future, but uncertainties about whether, when and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments." [link] [my emphasis]
Got that? Failure to enact global warming legislation is causing the economic meltdown to linger.

And he's serious.

It's guys like this who are now in charge of all aspects of our lives. Guys like this.

For the love of God.

Photo courtesy of Drudge.

Rube Goldberg, Phone Home

For your edification:
Rube Goldberg, Phone Home
By Barnie Day

Want to experience the audio equivalent of deer-in-the-headlights? Call your senator, your congressman, your governor, your delegate, your state senator, your commissioner, your member of city or town council, or your mayor and ask how the $1 trillion “stimulus” package coming out of Washington sometime around mid-February is going to work, what form it will take, who gets the money, how the dough will be disbursed.

This is not chicken feed we’re talking about. Or is it?

Remember the $600 "stimulus" ($1200 for couples) the government put on your credit card and gave to you in 2007? That was chicken feed.

How ’bout the “stimulus” package of 2008, the one that insisted that things would be alright if banks that got into trouble making bad loans simply made more of them? Remember? That was chicken feed.

How ’bout the Detroit bailouts? You know–that one– where we pay the car makers to re-tool so they can build more cars that people don’t want to buy. Chicken feed.

Virginia’s $3 billion deficit? Pfft! Shoo! Go Away! We’ve got a trillion dollar issue to sort out!

Don’t bother asking if any of this makes sense. We’re way beyond that. We’re in the netherworld, that mind-place that says you can borrow yourself out of debt, that dark warm place some people jam their heads into and shout in a thousand muffled voices, “A trillion dollar deficit is horrible so let’s double it!” (Assuming China will loan us another trillion.)

And don’t bother dragging the economists into it. They’ve all succumbed to lemming-think. Let them sleep.

So what to do? How shall we sort it out? How shall we understand what’s coming?

Herewith, three approaches:

1. Do the math. If it’s a trillion dollars, and 40 per cent goes to tax cuts, that leaves $600 billion in direct government spending-healthcare, bridges, whatever. It won’t be distributed fairly (in politics, the fair leaves in October), but let’s imagine, for the moment, that it will be– say on a per capita basis. That works out to about $1714.29 for each of us, or here in Patrick County $32.5 million–about enough to build another two miles of U.S. 58 up Lover’s Leap Mountain.

2. Go for the audio equivalent of the deer-in-the-headlights, mentioned above.

3. Ask your cat. At least mine had the decency to offer a throaty “meow.” (I cheated, though. I was holding a carton of milk when I asked him.)
The painful truth. Thanks, Barnie.