Monday, January 30, 2006

Universal Health Care for AZ?

Oh please please please please let this go somewhere! I have some more thoughts in-between the lines...

Universal health care for Arizona proposed Lawmaker aims to spur dialogue

Amanda J. Crawford
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 29, 2006 12:00 AM

Is Arizona ready for universal health care?

The top Democrat in the State House of Representatives thinks so.

Rep. Phil Lopes will introduce ambitious legislation this week to create a state health plan to cover all state residents. Everyone who has lived here for more than a year would be insured - sick or healthy, employed or unemployed, young or old, rich or poor.

The plan would do away with health care financing as we know it, pooling existing health care dollars from employers, Medicaid, Medicare and other payers to create a comprehensive insurance system. And Lopes says it can be done with the $30 billion now in the system and without new taxes or state funding.

But while Lopes' plan is sure to appeal to state residents fed up with the rising costs of health care and shrinking insurance protection, it is unlikely to even get a legislative hearing, let alone attract enough support in the Republican-led state Legislature to pass.
--Well duh... God forbid they should give up some of their greed to give everyone healthcare. I am seeing that I have a mission here....- DC

And it is destined to face the same opposition that has torpedoed every attempt to create a national health system in the U.S. over the past century: From insurance companies, which would see profits slashed. From hospitals and other health care providers, which would be subject to much tighter government regulations and price controls. And from citizens wary of government intervention. The government, or at least a quasi-governmental commission, would be involved in your health care and the "free market" would no longer reign.

Lopes, a former health planner from Tucson, is not naïve enough to believe his plan will be implemented here, at least not this year. But he is pressing forward because he believes it is time for the state to start a dialogue for the future, especially since more than one-third of the state population is either uninsured or on Medicaid.

"The system is broken, and everything we've tried in the last 25 years has not worked," Lopes said, vowing to introduce this bill every session until he is term-limited in four years or voted out. "It is time to talk about some serious solutions."

Lopes modeled his legislation after a plan that has been batted around in New Mexico for more than a decade. Set to be unveiled at a press conference with doctors and health care leaders later this week, Lopes' proposal will be the most far-reaching in a series of health care bills introduced so far this legislative session.

Other proposals are more incremental and would be unlikely to make a significant difference in state coverage rates or insurance costs. Those proposals include changes to state mandates on what insurance has to cover and tax credits or vouchers to help small businesses purchase insurance for employees.

Growing frustration

Across the country, many states are considering broad health care reform amid growing frustration with soaring health insurance costs, declining coverage and a lack of comprehensive reform at the federal level. More than a dozen states are weighing proposals that would create state health systems that cover all residents. Others are expanding Medicaid programs, offering coverage to more children and expanding programs to help small businesses afford benefits.

This week, President Bush is expected to make health care reform a key component of his domestic agenda in his State of the Union address. The administration's plans are likely to hinge on tax breaks to purchase health insurance and the continued expansion of consumer-directed health plans. Those include health savings accounts, through which patients have more control but also absorb more financial responsibility for their health care.
--Those who have NO health insurance don't want a tax break that probably won't pay for health insurance in the long term- they want HEALTH CARE! -DC

Minor improvements

Critics are already downing the presidents' anticipated proposals as band-aid approaches for a critically ill system.

John Rivers, president and chief executive of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said initiatives likely to be supported by the president will "improve things only very, very little" and will do nothing to solve some of the biggest problems in the system, such as helping low-income workers afford coverage.

But Rivers and his association aren't on board with Lopes' plan either, primarily because of strict controls on hospital budgets and expansions.

"The bill essentially regulates health care as a public utility, and that is not something that we can support," Rivers said, though he added that the association does support "the goal" of universal health care. "Ingrained in the public's consciousness is a belief that people should have access to health care whether they have insurance or not. But there is widespread disagreement over how to pay for that."

The United States is the only industrialized nation in the world without a national health system. We also spend about twice as much of our Gross Domestic Product on health care as other nations, yet we consistently rank low on health indicators such as infant mortality and life expectancy compared with other industrialized nations.

Widespread support

An Arizona Republic poll conducted last month found widespread support for universal health care, with 81 percent of registered voters surveyed saying it is time that the state or federal government step in and create a health care system that ensures everyone has access to the medical care they need.

-- Yeah, SURE this country is more conservative.... Socialism is the only way to really and truly help the citizens. -DC

But the subject is extremely dicey politically and there is pervasive skepticism that the state or country can afford it.

Dr. Eve Shapiro, a pediatrician from Tucson, is the state spokeswoman for Physicians for a National Health Program and a supporter of the Lopes plan. She insists there is enough money in the system; there are just a lot of profits in the system that interest groups work hard to protect.

"Politically it hasn't been able to be successful because of lobbying by vested interests like insurance companies," she said.

"It works around the world. . . . We have a very inefficient system. And every other country achieves better outcomes at a lower cost because they have a national system."

But government-heavy regulation is just not the American way. At least so say many opponents.

"The government never does things as well as the private sector," said Rep. Doug Quelland, a Phoenix Republican who is the chairman of the House Health Committee. Quelland wouldn't comment on Lopes' plan, since it hadn't yet been introduced, but said if it was anything like the Clinton health plan, he "wouldn't even entertain it" by giving it a hearing in his committee. And what about widespread public support for a universal system, such as found in the Republic poll? People "would favor free insurance for their automobiles, too, that doesn't mean we can afford it."

--Classic case of corporate greed and partisanship keeping the people from getting what they need. -DC

Opposing the concept

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona spokeswoman Regena Frieden also would not comment specifically about Lopes' plan, but said her organization opposes the concept: "Reducing the uninsured is a goal we all share, but a single-payer system is not the solution," Frieden said. "We think, generally, that private market solutions can be more flexible in delivering the products and services our customers want than a government system."

But supporters of health reform say they want the debate and the conversation and the thoughtfulness about health care to continue.

Dr. Merlin "Monty" DuVal, a Phoenix resident who was the founding dean of the University of Arizona's College of Medicine and a health official in the Nixon administration, supports Lopes' plan.

Although he doesn't think it is perfect, he wants people to talk about it.

"We have to take steps to get to universal health insurance," DuVal said. "This would be one place to start the conversation."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Geek Dads Rock!

This was pretty funny. I never really considered Bret a geek, but I guess it's the sports-watching that throws me off. ;-)

Top ten reasons Geeks make good fathers
Ok, after writing about how it isn't always easy being married to a Geek, and ten reasons Geeks make good friends, I have one more Top Ten of Geekdom for you inspired by Maryam's geek blogs: Ten reasons why Geeks make good fathers. And they do! They really are uniquely qualified for this role. My husband says I never blog nicely about him, so honey, here you go:

1. LEGOS. The Geek is really more of a Man-Child than an adult. In their minds, they are still 10. They freakin' still love to play with their legos, and have never grown up. I have one friend, WHO WILL REMAIN NAMELESS, that still has legos in his room. He doesn't have kids. Just legos. Of course, my children love legos and Steve will lovingly spend hours playing legos with them.

2. VIDEO GAMES. Due to the whole Man-Child thing as stated in #1, the Geek loves video games. And he's good at them too. My husband is the hit of all the kids' friends because not only can he talk video games, he plays them too. If my children get "stuck" while playing their Gameboys and bring it to me for assistance, all I can do is feebly hold it and say " Mommy doesn't know how to play this." Daddy, however, can beat the game.

3. MATH. A huge plus here. No matter how old they get, Steve can still help with the math homework. My ability to be of assistance is going to last another few years before *I* end up throwing the math homework across the room in disgust.

4. SMART KIDS. Smart Geeks make smart children. Although for the most part, it's great to have really intelligent children, when your just turned two year old is using the word PREPOSTEROUS correctly, it makes for some difficult times as they get older. I literally spend a large part of my time scheming to stay one step ahead of my oldest child.

5. UP ON TECHNOLOGY. The beautiful thing about having a Geek for a parent is that you aren't wondering what your children are doing online. You *KNOW* what they are doing online and you can limit it if necessary.
It's fabulous peace of mind.

6. SCIENCE FAIR PROJECTS. Children of the Geeks always have the coolest science fair projects. And you don't have to cajole your Geek into helping. You'll find him fiddling around with the science materials whether you asked him to help or not.

7. TOY ASSEMBLY. You will never, ever have to spend six hours of your life, that you will never get back, trying to assemble some 2,000 piece toy at 3 am on Christmas Eve again. The Geek can do it in minutes flat. Usually without the directions. Whereas I have tried to assemble toys and said "Mommy has to go to the bathroom" just so I could escape and scream into my pillow in frustration, if the Geek is around, he can take it right off your hands. I now just say "Daddy is really good at this, let's wait until he gets home."

8. GADGETS. Never again will you have to wonder what that new electronic toy is that all the kids have. In fact, your Geek will probably already own it. The problem arises when the Geek won't share with the children. "Daddy, I want a digital camera." After the child leaves the room: "I'm not spending hundreds of dollars on a digital camera for him, he's too young." I say "Let's get him a cheap one." Steve looks at me as if I just said Aliens are invited to dinner. " To have it take crappy pictures?" He scoffs and walks away in disgust. No sub-par electronics in this house! How dare I suggest it.

9. SMART IS COOL. Having a Geek for a father instills the message into your children that smart is cool. They idolize Daddy. Hopefully, they'll want to grow up to be just like him.

10. BEING IDOLIZED IS GOOD FOR YOUR GEEK. Course, you have to be careful that his head doesn't get TOO BIG. That's why I blog. Gotta keep his ego in check SOMEHOW.!1pLLf-75vbkScDmJSvitLgBA!490.entry

Monday, January 23, 2006

A minute of truth... on my soapbox

This little one-minute audio was emailed to me:

It was great... and very true. And very sad.

It's a reminder of that although Katrina was when- End of AUGUST? Not a thing has changed... not a thing has happened to remove the president. Sure, calls for independent counsels.. everyone yelling and screaming. Pointing fingers. Blaming. It goes back even further than Katrina, of course.

But tell me what has changed? Remember when the Senate closed their session? What the hell happened with that?

Not a thing.

And what about this? January 10th indictments were supposed to be handed out. Funny no one knew about it- and it certainly didn't make CNN. The day passed without a word... even on my political network no one gave it much thought.

It's shameful. But the reason nothing is changing is because the conservatives are in power. I mean think about it. When Clinton was president, how quickly did they jump on his impeachment? How quickly was Whitewater given to an independent counsel and investigated, and pushed forward?

It doesn't matter what political party is in the WH, the conservatives are always in power. America hasn't been about doing what is right, and having any integrity for 30 years. Since Nixon. Nixon is the last time I remember ( I say remember but really I was 2) any president taking responsibility for their actions- for their COUNTRY and stepping down. Why is this? Look at how the Dems are bending over and allowing Alito into our third branch of government. All three branches will be controlled by conservatives. Where is the balance? Too late- the scales are tipped.

They give us a little- (ie fall guys like Scooter Libby)- to trick the people into thinking the system still works and can be believed in. What saddens me is the TRICK WORKS. If Americans (as a whole) were not falling for it, Bush and his cronies would not still be in power. Alito would not be confirmed.

Now we are in another major election year- plenty of seats up for grabs. Funny how an Osama tape appears. Funny how the media starts comparing Dems/Liberals/Michael Moore to Osama. Funny how Karl Rove comes right out and says that Terror WILL be a major election issue this year.

The people aren't angry enough. And in today's "easy-to-obtain" what you want, over stimulated and over prozac-ed America, you have to wonder if the people ever will be. And now anger will be squashed with fear, and a false sense of security.

Quite the cycle, quite the spin. When are we going to finally break it?

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Dream Lives On...

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than
sincere ignornace and conscientious stupidity."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
"From Strength To Love"- 1963

Friday, January 13, 2006

Powerful Words on Classism

Written by a friend who knows.

Classism: What You’re *Really* Saying

Our discussions here on the state of affairs for ‘broke’ people in America has led me to lose my temper. I will not apologize for doing so. I will not excuse myself or my outrage–as it is wholly justified and very important. In many ways, internet forums have become the voice of the people. Though the power may only appear a whisper, “one whisper, added to many, becomes a roar of discontent that cannot be ignored.”

The issue of classism is close to my heart because I have seen my children suffer from its effects. I have witnessed how Americans harm each other–often with no idea they are. It is a negligence of character, a refusal of the classists to comprehend their own beliefs and actions, that is the basis for not only my discontent–but for any person who may have encountered rank and unwarranted bigotry in their time. Whether it’s race, faith, gender, or age bias–unrelenting classism is destroying the American Dream. That, in itself is an ugly prospect, but combined with the suffering this creates for American men, women, and children, it is morally reprehensible.

Every hard-working American is hard-working because of an “I Can” mentality. Those with a defeatist attitude have given up. They no longer try to better their situations. They are no longer interested in partaking within society. I would venture to say, there are very few of them on the internet, let alone fighting against the prejudices inflicted upon them.

There is no correlation between hard-work and a defeatist attitude–they are mutually exclusive. The very nature of working hard indicates hope, indicates a desire and a belief that the hard work will benefit them and their family. It is an “I Can” mentality that is blatantly ignored or dismissed by those who would rather not take responsibility for their thoughts, actions, or beliefs and the harm they create by influencing legislation that hinders the progress from hard-working and broke–to hard working and financially stable.

Have you ever thought, supported, or agreed with any of these statements:

“Poor people are on welfare because it’s easier than working for a living.”
“Poor people are more interested in living off my tax dollars than contributing to society.”
“Poor people need to get a better job.”
“Poor people expect the government to take care of them.”
“Poor people have more children so they can get more government cheese.”
“Poor people need to get educated and off their lazy asses.”
“Poor people believe they are entitled to government aid and have a welfare mentality.”
“Poor people are ignorant and stupid.”
“Poor people choose to be poor.”
“Poor people have a defeatist attitude and are negative.”

Now, imagine if you substitute “Poor People” with any other blanket distinction:

“Black people are on welfare because it’s easier than working for a living.”
“Latinos are more interested in living off my tax dollars than contributing to society.”
“Mexicans need to get a better job.”
“The disabled expect the government to take care of them.”
“Women have more children so they can get more government cheese.”
“Fat people need to get educated and off their lazy asses.”
“Handicapped people believe they are entitled to government aid and have a welfare mentality.”
“Southerners are ignorant and stupid.”
“The elderly choose to be poor.”
“American Indians have a defeatist attitude and are negative.”

If you carefully look at the substitutions I used–you will find that every ‘generality’ describes factions of the ‘poor’ or ‘broke’–whichever term you prefer–in America. Every time you think these things about the “poor” what you’re really saying is all of these different ‘groups’ are guilty of the accusations you are placing on them. Any one of these ‘distinctions’ could be (and often are) combined with another to describe a single individual. Imagine, then, the compounded prejudices and bigotry that must be overcome by the hard-working individuals on their quest to reach financial stability.

Now, lets look at the reality of same list and what is truly being stated:

“Americans are on welfare because it’s easier than working for a living.”
“Americans are more interested in living off my tax dollars than contributing to society.”
“Americans need to get a better job.”
“Americans expect the government to take care of them.”
“Americans have more children so they can get more government cheese.”
“Americans need to get educated and off their lazy asses.”
“Americans believe they are entitled to government aid and have a welfare mentality.”
“Americans are ignorant and stupid.”
“Americans choose to be poor.”
“Americans have a defeatist attitude and are negative.”

In a country that prides itself on patriotism, on exalting the community, standing strong as a united whole, does it make sense to hold, espouse or support the above beliefs? Is any ideology that excludes the majority of its own country men, women and children one which you wish to harbor?

Until this prejudice is recognized, addressed, and confronted, the struggles of those working hard to achieve the ever-dwindling possibility of the “American Dream” will not only have to overcome the real-world obstacles in front of them–but the intangible stigma being forcibly turned into legislation by those working just as hard (and with more resources) to see that happen.

I end with this quotation from someone far more learned, far more eloquent than myself; on the American Dream:

"It wouldn’t take us long to discover the substance of that dream. It is found in those majestic words of the Declaration of Independence, words lifted to cosmic proportions: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by God, Creator, with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This is a dream. It’s a great dream.

The first saying we notice in this dream is an amazing universalism. It doesn’t say "some men," it says "all men." It doesn’t say "all white men," it says "all men," which includes black men. It does not say "all Gentiles," it says "all men," which includes Jews. It doesn’t say "all Protestants," it says "all men," which includes Catholics. (Yes, sir) It doesn’t even say "all theists and believers," it says "all men," which includes humanists and agnostics.

"Then that dream goes on to say another thing that ultimately distinguishes our nation and our form of government from any totalitarian system in the world. It says that each of us has certain basic rights that are neither derived from or conferred by the state. In order to discover where they came from, it is necessary to move back behind the dim mist of eternity. They are God-given, gifts from His hands. Never before in the history of the world has a sociopolitical document expressed in such profound, eloquent, and unequivocal language the dignity and the worth of human personality. The American dream reminds us, and we should think about it anew on this Independence Day, that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.

Now ever since the founding fathers of our nation dreamed this dream in all of its magnificence—to use a big word that the psychiatrists use—America has been something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against herself. On the one hand we have proudly professed the great principles of democracy, but on the other hand we have sadly practiced the very opposite of those principles.

But now more than ever before, America is challenged to realize its dream, for the shape of the world today does not permit our nation the luxury of an anemic democracy. And the price that America must pay for the continued oppression of the Negro and other minority groups is the price of its own destruction. (Yes it is) For the hour is late. And the clock of destiny is ticking out. We must act now before it is too late.

And so it is marvelous and great that we do have a dream, that we have a nation with a dream; and to forever challenge us; to forever give us a sense of urgency; to forever stand in the midst of the "isness" of our terrible injustices; to remind us of the "oughtness" of our noble capacity for justice and love and brotherhood.

This morning I would like to deal with some of the challenges that we face today in our nation as a result of the American dream. First, I want to reiterate the fact that we are challenged more than ever before to respect the dignity and the worth of all human personality. We are challenged to really believe that all men are created equal. And don’t misunderstand that. It does not mean that all men are created equal in terms of native endowment, in terms of intellectual capacity—it doesn’t mean that. There are certain bright stars in the human firmament in every field. (Yes, sir) It doesn’t mean that every musician is equal to a Beethoven or Handel, a Verdi or a Mozart. It doesn’t mean that every physicist is equal to an Einstein. It does not mean that every literary figure in history is equal to Aeschylus and Euripides, Shakespeare and Chaucer. (Make it plain) It does not mean that every philosopher is equal to Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and Friedrich Hegel. It doesn’t mean that. There are individuals who do excel and rise to the heights of genius in their areas and in their fields. What it does mean is that all men are equal in intrinsic worth. (Yes)

You see, the founding fathers were really influenced by the Bible. The whole concept of the imago dei, as it is expressed in Latin, the "image of God," is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. Not that they have substantial unity with God, but that every man has a capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this as a nation: there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. (Yes) We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.

This is why we must fight segregation with all of our nonviolent might. (Yes, sir; Make it plain) Segregation is not only inconvenient—that isn’t what makes it wrong. Segregation is not only sociologically untenable—that isn’t what makes it wrong. Segregation is not only politically and economically unsound—that is not what makes it wrong. Ultimately, segregation is morally wrong and sinful. To use the words of a great Jewish philosopher that died a few days ago, Martin Buber, "It’s wrong because it substitutes an ‘I-It’ relationship for the ‘I-Thou’ relationship and relegates persons to the status of things." That’s it. (Yes, sir)"
~Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

To read the full text–go here:

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Pox Upon The House of Cutler

Humans should hibernate until Spring. It seems we will never get over all the sick around here.

Two with colds. One with a cold and pink-eye. One with strep- AGAIN. That would be twice in three weeks' time.

Yup.. just fall asleep the beginning of November, and wake up the end of February. Sickness avoided.

AND, you can loose a few pounds in the process!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Home Warm Home

What a weather change. From snow, to snow/rain mush, to sun and warm. All within 8 hours. The kids and I were SO excited waking up this morning to a few inches of snow on the ground. I was actually ENJOYING helping Bret put the luggage in the car.. and though no one saw me I did stick my tongue out and caught a few flakes giggling like a child. :-)

Bret didn't appreciate it quite as much. Actually not at all. I guess you can't take the sun out of a desert rat. :-( I don't think I'm going to ever live on the east coast...

To back up a bit, New Year's Eve was very nice. We spent a nice evening with my aunts, and my Cioci Bert (Roberta) cooked enough food for a group of 20. Then we watched movies and various sporting events up until midnight, and watched the ball drop. THEN all the kids grabbed some pots and utensils, ran downstairs and out the door banging them loudly and screaming.

Just another night in Brooklyn, I suppose. :-) Samantha just watched, she never likes to draw attention to herself if she doesn't have to.

The next day we drove back up to MA for one more day with my sister and family. It was very lazy and informal, and quite nice with no impending stressful holidays to worry about any longer. She and I even escaped for a few hours to do a little shopping. Well, I watched her do a little shopping. Though there were many things I certainly WANTED, I knew we were filled to the hilt to lug all the things we had accumulated home- and in our tin can of a rental car! Oy!!! Note to self- next time we UPGRADE. When your daughter complains she has pins and needles in her feet because she has luggage on top of them because there is no other room- you know you need a bigger car.

Anyway, so now we are home. Sandi was well taken care of, yet still VERY happy to see all of us when we arrived. We had another quick Christmas because there were still the presents from all the Cutler's under the tree we needed to open, and it was pointless to ask the kids to wait. They are also VERY excited about returning to school tomorrow. They did so wonderfully this vacation, having to share such close quarters for the past 2 1/2 weeks. We even got comments on the plane about what well-behaved children we have! I didn't find it necessary to explain why I had to sit between them for the flight home... so we'll just let them keep believing I have well-behaved kids. :-P

Although I do feel so sad leaving the east coast, for so many reasons, it was also time to return home. And it will be a nice feeling to sleep in my own bed again.