Friday, August 21, 2009

Garrett Talking Health Care Pt. 2

It must be nice for Representative Scott Garrett to represent the District right next to New York and Secaucus. Being opposed to everything, he's likely getting a lot of phone calls for in studio time.

Here, he's on Squawk Box with Rep. Allyson Shwartz.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nearly 10% of NJ's Lost Jobs Are Back

Correction: It was pointed out that the 150,000 jobs lost was total, not simply private sector. Therefore, with the public sector losses, the overall gains are actually about 5%.

In a conference call that just finished up a little bit ago, Governor Jon Corzine touched on something that probably is getting lost in all of the press about Chris Christie's apparent violation of the Hatch Act and the overall politicization of our Justice Department under Karl Rove and George Bush.

We here in NJ gained 13,000 private sector jobs last month. Since 2007, we've lost about 150,000, so we've gained 8.6% back. It's still a long way to go, but 9% in a month is progress.
Since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, New Jersey has lost 150,100 jobs (-3.7%). Nationally, employment has declined by 6.7 million jobs (-4.8 %).

Considerable over-the-month job gains occurred in the leisure and hospitality (+6,200), construction (+3,400), professional and business services (+3,200), and manufacturing (+3,100) supersectors. Hiring in the arts, entertainment and recreation component (+5,300) was responsible for the gain in leisure and hospitality, while most of the growth in professional and business services employment was due to gains in the administrative support/waste management/remediation segment (+2,900). In construction, the job gains were mainly due to hiring by specialty trade contractors.
So not only did we add jobs, we've lost fewer jobs as a percentage than the nation. As someone who regularly reads the reports, and chastised those who ignore them, the fact we actually added manufacturing jobs is, well, shocking. When you consider that since the recession began in 2007 as a nation we've lost 2 million, and in New Jersey we've been losing them for months, the gain is definitely a positive sign.

With Christie's ethics armor getting dented (daily at this point), if New Jersey can get a few months like this before the Election, Corzine will definitely be in a stronger position.

It's good to have some good news for a change.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Garrett Talking Health Care

Representative Scott Garrett and Representative Anthony Weiner sat down on Fox 5's morning show to discuss the health care debate. One of the important things they discussed was whether or not Congress actually will read all 1,000 of the bill.

Garrett, for his part, has put his money where his mouth is on this one, signing up to co-sponsor H. Res. 554. I've written before about the "Read the Bill" campaign, and I'm really happy to see Garrett on board.

The discussion on health care is an interesting watch:

Also, Garrett and Weiner participated in a chat room together after the on-air interview. Nothing earth shattering in there, both stayed on their message.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Morons At The Gate

If significant health care reform is defeated, and people's bills continue to rise with more and more of the GDP being eaten without improved outcomes, idiotic mentality will be a leading cause. As promised, the NJ Tea Party folks visited the town hall meetings of Rep. Steve Rothman yesterday, and as The Record reports, it got a bit rowdy.

However, the lack of commonsense in those protesting could not be overlooked:

When a supporter of universal coverage declared “all Americans are entitled to health care,” he was greeted with a chorus of boos.

“Everybody does have health care,” someone shouted from the audience. “Go to the hospital and get it!”

PricewaterhouseCoopers just released a study estimating that logic costs those of us with insurance an extra $14 billion a year.

"This is an inappropriate use of the ER," said Dee Swanson, president of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. "You don't go to the ER for strep throat."

Since emergency rooms are legally obligated to treat all patients, Swanson said providers ultimately find ways to pass on the cost for treating the uninsured to other patients, such as to those who pay out-of-pocket for their medical care.


"Going to the doctor for strep throat would cost $65-$70. In the ER, it's $600 to $800," he said.

So, the Tea Party folks seem to advocate wasting money. To be fair, I suppose it's one, but based on the previous e-mail I was forwarded, it's fair to wonder how widespread the lack of sense is.

In all, PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates we waste $1.2 trillion of our $2.2 trillion spend on health care. Around 20% of this waste has been directly created by the very private insurance companies the Tea Party people are defending:

"Every insurance company has its own forms," McGenney said. "Some practices spend 40% of their revenue filling out paperwork that has nothing to do with patient care. So much of this could be automated."

Dr. Jason Dees, a family doctor in a private practice based in New Albany, Miss., said his office often resubmits claims that have been "magically denied."

"That adds to our administrative fees, extends the payment cycle and hurts our cash flow," he said.

Dees also spends a lot of time getting "pre-certification" from insurers to approve higher-priced procedures such as MRIs. "We're already operating on paper-thin margins and this takes times away from our patients," he said.

There's that private rationing again. In all the rhetoric the Tea Party people throw out about the bureaucrat rationing care, there's no mention in their talking points about the corporate bureaucrat rationing care. They have no solution for it, because there's no accountability required by health insurance companies other than to their shareholders.

When there are problems with Medicare (ex. The Donut Hole), Congress is forced to deal with it or face the ire of their constituents. One would think the very Tea Party slamming the health care bill at town hall after town hall would prefer to have someone they could directly deal with as opposed to a faceless claims processor at an insurance company.

The problem with that statement is that it makes sense. As so much of the debate has proven so far, making sense is less important than scoring points for the press and donors. Obviously, there are legitimate concerns and questions about the proposed overhaul, but when people are circulating memos on how disrupt instead of engage in the conversation, we're not going to get anywhere.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Spinning Tea

While our Representative Scott Garrett distorted numbers recently to scare people about health care reform, the Tea Party people are going from distortion to flat out lies. This is a long post, but if the mainstream media isn't going to do this, someone has to.

It's been well publicized at this point that those who are part of the Tea Party movement are packing town hall meetings to disrupt instead of discuss health care reform. There are legitimate concerns about the proposal, but the tactics being used by these folks not only drowns out those with legitimate concerns, but also discredits the very views they're supposed to be standing for and makes their opposition seem baseless.

As Blue Jersey predicted, the NJ Tea Party group is attempting to get members to Representative Steve Rothman's recess town hall meetings. To encourage members, and fire them up, they sent out an e-mail recently. With the miracle of the searchable PDF, anyone willing to ask "is that true" can go through the e-mail and shred it.

(A note, I've cut and pasted straight from the e-mail, grammatical and spelling errors are strictly the tea party people's fault)
You know the provisions of the public healthcare plan contain concerning features including the following:

You will not be able to keep your private plan (no matter what they say, it’s in the bill).
Where, exactly? That's the question that any thinking person should ask. People point to Section 102, because it prevents new enrollments in plans that don't meet the minimum requirements of coverage. This has no impact on people's current insurance.

In fact, had the Tea Party people scrolled down they would have seen Section 112, where insurance companies are required to renew grandfathered plans. Your coverage is protected as long as you pay for it. But obviously, that reality doesn't help the opposition's fund raising, so I'm sure the oversight was intentional.
Seniors will be compelled to attend counseling every five years to receive information on how to end one’s life with dignity --- this is code for you’re not going to get the surgery or drugs you need, so end your life sooner ---this is the culture of death.
It's amazing the Tea Party people would rather have seniors be uninformed and not know what their options are. Section 1233 absolutely wants people to know about living wills and medical proxies, options and resources regarding palliative care and hospice, and resources available in the state in which the patient lives.
Health care costs will be passed along to you in the form of increased taxes, or loss of jobs due to small employers having to eliminate jobs to pay the additional 8% on their payroll….think of it 20 employees making an average of 50,000 annual salary = $80,000 to that small employer in tax……that employer has to eliminate two jobs for every 20 people to stay even.
What they leave out in this section is that the tax only applies if the small business does not already provide benefits. If benefits are provided, there's no tax. So no one working a job at a small company that provides benefits has anything to worry about in terms of taxes costing them their job.
You will pay for all families – illegal aliens too.
This is the only true statement in the whole thing. Yes, everybody else will be paying for you.

Also, where people get the delusional thought that we don't already pay for illegal aliens is beyond me. This is true, and it will always be true whether we have private or public care. When people show up to an emergency room or the equivalent they are going to get treated and then we bill whatever national plan they're under.
You will also have your tax dollars funded toward abortions even if you are opposed to that form of birth control. That means also late term abortions…up to the day before birth!
Partial birth abortions are illegal, and whoever wrote this e-mail is intentionally misleading people. It also ignores the fact that the committee votes prevent any abortion funding.

I haven't written a post this long in a long time, but the health care debate is too important to let small groups of people using misrepresentation and intimidation to disrupt what is a vital discussion. I realize there's not a lot of money to be raised by the special interests by being truthful and having a meaningful conversation, but that's what we need right now.

There's a lot of good in this bill, but it could be a bit better. There are also good ideas that have come out of the Republican party, like allowing churches and industry groups pool together, that get drowned out by the Tea Party people.

Whether you're for or against the health care reform as presented, arguing your points needs to be based in fact. Otherwise, what may be a very good idea will either be dismissed or missed because someone decided to be disruptive instead of constructive.