Tag Archives: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Quick! Pour Me Some Pepto

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, as I was on my way to drop off the old “Silver Toilet” for an oil change, I turned on the radio and was subjected to this little gem here.

So this is not about spending.  And this isn’t about fiscal responsibility.  This whole thing is about one thing:  the Republican obsession with dismantling the Affordable Care Act and denying affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.  (Applause.)  That’s all this has become about.  That seems to be the only thing that unites the Republican Party these days.

Through this whole fight, they’ve said the American people don’t want Obamacare, so we should shut down the government to repeal it or delay it.  But here’s the problem:  The government is now shut down, but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.  (Applause.)  So they’re not even accomplishing what they say they want to accomplish.  And, by the way, in the first two days since the new marketplaces — basically big group plans that we’ve set up — the first two days that they opened, websites where you can compare and purchase new affordable insurance plans and maybe get tax credits to reduce your costs, millions of Americans have made it clear they do want health insurance.  (Applause.)

More than 6 million people visited the website HealthCare.gov the day it opened.  Nearly 200,000 people picked up the phone and called the call center.  In Kentucky alone — this is a state where — I didn’t win Kentucky.  (Laughter.)  So I know they weren’t doing it for me.  In Kentucky, nearly 11,000 people applied for new insurance plans in the first two days — just in one state, Kentucky.  And many Americans are finding out when they go on the website that they’ll save a lot of money or get health insurance for the first time.

So I would think that if, in fact, this was going to be such a disaster that the Republicans say it’s going to be, that it was going to be so unpopular, they wouldn’t have to shut down the government.  They could wait, nobody would show any interest, there would be, like, two people on the website — (laughter) — and everybody would then vote for candidates who want to repeal it.

Excerpt from:

Remarks by the President on the Government Shutdown

M. Luis Construction Company, Rockville, Maryland

The arrogance was just too much to take.  I shouted out loud “of course the website was flooded!”  “We have no choice, it’s the law!” Surely Obama isn’t so narcissistic that he actually believes that people are flocking to the website in droves because they love him and his policies; not because he has forced them to comply by fining them with a tax penalty of they don’t.   No, wait, he is.  Like Sally Field accepting her Oscar, Obama gushes every time he looks in the mirror, ” you love me, you really love me.”  I had to turn the radio off, I couldn’t stomach any more.  Every day we are subjected to the propaganda, the soft ball interviews and outright lies of this administration, and no one, steps up to call them on it.  It is beyond frustrating, and more and more it seems like we are powerless to stop it.

I keep asking myself, where are the Republicans?, Where are the people I hired by my vote to represent me?  Why is there not a televised rebuttal every time Obama opens his mouth?  The Republican party has taken the common sense of the American people for granted.  They just assume that the masses are smart enough to see through all the lies and deception.  Well, apparently they are not,  after all they reelected the most miserable excuse for a leader this country has ever known, to a second term.  The GOP needs to start striking back, they should have started months ago.  Every speech Obama gives needs to be followed by a Republican press conference, pointing out each lie and fallacy one by one.  Since we can no longer count on the mainstream media to educate the masses, the Republicans need to fill the airwaves with short PSA type commercials.  Short spots of airtime, such as PJ Media‘s Afterburner, that extol the benefits of conservatism on society and highlight the perils of Obama’s Socialism.

The GOP needs to embrace its new blood, the Ted Cruzes and Rand Pauls and other’s of their ilk need to be endorsed and encouraged, not stabbed in the back by their own.  The American people are hungry for representatives who will challenge the status quo, and speak for us, not speak down to us. 2014 is closing in.  The Republican party does not have the luxury of time.  This is indeed our most desperate hour.

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The Ghost of Christmas “Forward”

My Parents Tree

My Parents Tree (Photo credit: steviep187)

Robert Colton stood in the dining room of his well-appointed home, gazing though the arched opening into the living-room. The Christmas tree sparkled. Its lights dancing off the shining, shredded wrapping paper strewn underneath, the aftermath of the opening of presents.  The scrumptious aroma of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie drifted through the house, teasing the stomachs of its inhabitants. Robert’s mind was not on the scene before him.  He was reflecting on his current state of affairs. The last few years had been a roller-coaster ride for his pest-control business.  When the housing bubble was on the rise, his company was hard-pressed to keep up with the demand for new termite bonds. Then the bubble burst, and the steady stream of new houses, ready to be protected from wood destroying pests, slowed to a trickle, and then a drip.  As the economy worsened, and loyal customers had to tighten their belts, renewing those termite bonds, and keeping the roaches at bay kept getting pushed further down the list of priorities.  Still, with a good business sense, he had managed to keep the company, that he had inherited from his father, prosperous. He thought about the two young men, having a beer by the fireplace. He couldn’t be prouder of both of them.  Mark, his son, had followed him into the family business. Wade, his son-in-law, was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He walked across the room and joined in the conversation. Mark, soon to be a dad for the first time, was expressing his anxiety about being able to provide for the baby he and his wife Jennifer, were expecting in March.  Wade, just home from his second tour in Afghanistan, was happy to be sharing the holiday with his wife Hannah, and their five-year-old daughter, Emma.  While he was glad that this was his last tour to the Middle East, he still harbored a tinge of bitterness at ending the war with the job unfinished.  He couldn’t help feeling that a tour in Iraq and two to Afghanistan, amounted to nothing more than missed birthdays, Christmases and anniversaries wasted.  Iraq wasn’t secure, the Taliban would regain control of Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda still posed a threat to world peace.

“Thank you for the Video Barbie, and the Razor chalk scooter, and the Nabi, Pawpaw.”  “You’re welcome sweetie.”  Emma bounced across the room, and twirled the skirt of her black velvet and plaid taffeta Christmas dress.  Her blond curls, tumbling around her head, gave her an angelic look.  As she danced around the living room playing with her new toys, she embodied all the innocence and hope that makes children her age so precious.  Robert loved doting on his granddaughter and in spite of the half-hearted objections from his daughter and son-in-law, he spoiled her shamelessly.  This year however, the satisfaction he got from generously giving to his children and grandchild was tinged with remorse.  Even through the recession, he was able to hang on to all of his employees.  By improving the efficiency of his business, he was able to maintain the salaries and benefits for his workers, and still provide a quality service at a decent price for his customers.   It had been a difficult balance to maintain.  Every ounce of fat had been cut.  Every waste eliminated.  But now, with the November elections, came a new hurdle to scale.  The impending repeal of the Bush Era tax cuts and the looming expenses of the Affordable Care Act would hit his company hard. He could water down his chemicals and double his prices, but his conscience told him that would drive away business instead of increasing revenue.  And in the process he would irreparably damage the sterling reputation that his father had earned and passed on to him.  He spent hours with his accountants desperately searching for another way, but it was clear he had no choice.  So on the first day of December, it was with a lead heavy heart and a lump in his throat that Robert called all sixty of his employees into his office one by one and told them that in January he would have to let eleven of them go.  “Damn” he though to himself, “these are good people and they don’t deserve this”.  Now he was left with the impossible task of  choosing who to fire.  Many of his employees had been with him for years.  He had been invited to their weddings, then their children’s weddings.  They came to him for advice.  He thought of them as family.

He cared about his employees and tried to help them out whenever he could. So when Mike, one of his technicians came to him a year ago, and asked him for help with his sister, Robert didn’t think twice about it.  Angie was twenty years old with three children. When she found herself pregnant at sixteen, she dropped out of high school and never completed her GED.  Her life was spent with various men who were happy to father children, but had no desire to be fathers to them. Her family had made it clear that they would be willing to help her find a job and get on her feet, but her dead-beat baby daddies were not welcome.  The thought of keeping a schedule and following someone else’s rules did not appeal to her, it was much easier to find a sugar-daddy to pay her bills.  When her last boyfriend was sent to jail for armed robbery, leaving her alone with no employable skills and three mouths to feed, she was finally willing to accept her family’s help.  She moved in with Mike and his wife and agreed to meet with Robert.  After an hour-long interview it was obvious that Angie lacked the skills to work in the office, but Robert wanted to help so he offered her a job as a housekeeper.  Though his wife, Kate, insisted that she didn’t need help around the house, she agreed to give Angie a chance.  Angie was to work from nine to four on weekdays, and have weekends and holidays off.  Her duties were basic housekeeping and laundry but no cooking.  Her pay would be twelve dollars an hour.  A little below the average salary for a housekeeper, but Angie could bring the baby with her to work, and Robert and Kate agreed to pay the daycare expenses for the other two.  Angie and Kate were a case study in personality contrasts. Kate had always taken pride in her home.  She liked things neat and orderly.  The beds were always made and you’d  never find a pile of dirty dishes in her kitchen.  Angie took no pride in her work.  Kate tried to instruct her in proper housekeeping techniques, but Angie insisted on taking shortcuts.  Kate would often find her watching TV in the rec-room while a basket of laundry needed folding in the wash room. Kate was more than happy to give Angie time off to be with her children when they were sick, but it was odd how a trip to the doctor usually included a side trip to the beauty parlor or nail salon.  Then there was the habit Angie had of dropping, not so subtle hints, for clothes and toys for her kids. It was not unusual for Robert to come home and find Kate mopping, vacuuming or finishing up something that Angie should have done.  So they were absolutely dumbfounded when in October, with all the righteous indignation she could muster, Angie approached them and demanded a raise. When Robert pointed out that with her work ethic and skills she would have a hard time finding a job anywhere else, let alone one that provided childcare, Angie announced, without a shred of shame, ” When Obama gets elected next month, I won’t have to worry about getting a job.  The government will pay for my food, rent, and medical care.”  Then she turned, stormed out the door and returned only to collect her last paycheck.

Country Christmas Tree

Country Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Ladycliff)

Arliss Jackson’s modest home sat on an acre of land on the perimeter of a National Forest.  The perfect place for a man who loved to hunt and fish.  Arliss and his wife, Nicole, had begun saving for a down payment as soon as they were married. Fifteen years ago, they bought the land and had a house built on it. Arliss had considered himself lucky.  He knew several men, many of whom were in construction or middle management positions, who had lost their jobs.  So far, thanks to the keen business sense of his boss, his company had managed to avoid layoffs, but now that was changing.  He had begun working during the summer for Colton Pest Control, back when he was still in high school.  Though he was grooming Robert to take over the business, Old Man Colton was still calling the shots and he liked to hire local teenagers to clean up the trucks and the yard, and do other odd jobs around the office.  The old man saw something he liked in Arliss’s attitude and work ethic, so he made him a deal.  If Arliss would keep his grades up, and work to obtain some scholarships, Old Man Colton would  pay the difference for his college degree.  So Arliss worked hard and studied hard, and when he graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Entomology, Robert, who had now taken over the business, hired him as a manager. Robert knew it would be helpful to have someone in the office who could help him navigate the numerous and sometimes incomprehensible labyrinth of EPA regulations that governed the pest control business.  Arliss  enjoyed his job.  He felt a satisfaction in providing a beneficial service.  One that protected property and helped prevent the spread of disease.  He felt a loyalty to Colton Pest Control and to the Colton family who had been more than generous.  When Arliss’s son Levi was born, he had a congenital heart defect that required surgery and a lengthy hospital stay.  Robert told him to take all the time he needed to be with his son and Nicole. He even offered to cover any medical expenses the insurance didn’t.  And when they were finally able to bring Levi home from the hospital, Robert and Kate came to the house with a spaghetti dinner and casseroles for the freezer.  Arliss understood better than any of the other employees, just how heartbroken Robert was to have to let some people go.  Robert was sure to let everyone know how pleased he was with their work, and that who would stay and who would go would be determined purely by the economics of the situation.  Arliss couldn’t shake the foreboding feeling that because he was one of the highest paid employees and worked mostly in the office and not out in the field, that he would be one of the first to go.

Arliss stood in his driveway watching the multicolored lights blinking cheerfully along the eaves of his house.  They almost seemed to be mocking his apprehensive feeling.  He walked through the front door and was greeted by the comforting, cinnamon smell of glazed ham, roasted asparagus and Nicole’s famous pecan pie.  He stepped into the living-room.  The lights from the Christmas tree danced on the shining tinsel, defying the mood that Arliss was in.  He looked across the room at Levi who was hooking up a two-year old X-box 360 to the new flat screen TV.  This year Nicole did something she swore she’d never do.  She got up at three o’clock in the morning to brave a Black Friday Doorbuster sale.  Her reward was an incredible deal on the TV.  It wasn’t supposed to be the only gift, but with the uncertainty of the new year, it seemed sensible to have one gift that everyone could enjoy, rather than spending twice as much on gifts for everybody.  “I’m sorry son about the lean Christmas. I know how much you wanted a new rifle.”  “That’s OK dad” replied Levi, “I can work this summer and buy one myself.”  Levi shared his father’s passion for the outdoors.  In the fourteen years since his heart surgery, Levi had grown into a healthy, handsome young man.  He was quarterback for the Freshman football team and was active in his church youth group.  He made good grades.  Kind and respectful, he was the kind of son that would make any father proud.  It’s why Arliss ached inside, that he couldn’t give his son more.

“Dinner’s ready!” Nicole called from the dinning room.  As they gathered around the table Arliss’s mood lightened.   The tempting spread on the table before him made him glad to be hungry.  As the family gathered hands to say grace, Arliss realized how grateful he was to have such a dutiful son and the love of his wife.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree (Photo credit: nathangibbs)

The smell of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings rose up from the kitchen to the small room of the homeless shelter that Angie shared with her three children.  The last two months hadn’t gone as she had hoped.  She had applied for food stamps and TANF and any other assistance she thought she could qualify for.  She was sure that the government would take care of her and her children so she wouldn’t have to worry about taking a job and finding childcare.  The assistance, that she was able to obtain, provided subsistence.  Not nearly the lifestyle she thought she should be provided, so she spent her days going to various charities to try to improve her position.  Mike was furious with her for walking away from the job that Robert Colton had given her.  She threw away a chance to gain some self-respect and be a good example for her children.  While her brother and his wife were ready to let Angie be responsible for herself, they were worried about what would become of the children, so after much deliberation they offered Angie and alternative.  They offered to adopt the three kids and raise them as their own.  Angie would have to sign over custody and though she would be allowed visitation, she would have no legal rights or responsibility to them.   Not wanting to believe that Mike was offering her a better life for her kids, she lashed out at him.  “Do you know how much they will cut my benefits without the kids?” she yelled.  “ I need those kids to get my money!”   And so, with all her desperation and wounded pride, she gathered up her children and their meager possessions and left without a thank you or good-bye.  She wandered the streets for a couple of days, finally winding up at the Our Savior’s Mercy homeless shelter.  She did not contact her brother or anyone else.  Mike searched for her, because he didn’t want Angie to be alone for Christmas, but he could not find her.

After Christmas dinner was served and the dishes put away, Arliss, Nicole and Levi gathered at Our Savior’s Mercy church as they had for the past ten years.  The church held a toy drive every year and the employees of Colton Pest Control were always one of their largest donors.  Robert liked to make a contest out of the annual event and agreed to match one to one every toy his employees brought in.  After the toys were sorted and bagged according to age and gender, the congregation would meet every Christmas evening and distribute the toys.  The church ran a large homeless shelter and provided toys for many needy families in the area.  The need this year was overwhelming, and with so many having to take lower paying jobs, the donations were down.  The group set out eager to bring a toy to a child that they knew would not otherwise have one.  After visiting house after house in the poorer parts of town, the group wound up at the homeless shelter.  They knocked on the door to Angie’s room.  She opened the door and the sight that greeted the church group was cheerless.  A picture of a Christmas tree that was colored by Angie’s four-year-old daughter was taped to the window.  It was the only decoration in the room.  The two pajamaed children sat on a bed, an eager look on their faces.  Nicole gave the girl a knock off Barbie doll, and gave the three-year-old boy a football.  She handed Angie an age appropriate stuffed animal for the baby.  The kids seemed somewhat disappointed in what they were given, and Angie was livid.  “I waited in line for six hours to register and this is all you have for my children?”  “I’m sorry,” Nicole, explained, “ times are hard and we had barely enough toys to go around this year.”

“I don’t want to hear your sob story.” Angie shot back.  “Those rich bastards like that Robert Colton can surely afford to buy some decent toys for less fortunate kids like mine.”  “If he paid his fair share then maybe I could get more money and I could afford to buy my kids some toys myself.”  Nicole choked back the tears and stepped out into the hall where other members of the congregation were gathering after handing out their toys.   As they walked back to the van, she said to the pastor’s wife, “I used to get so much joy out of handing out the toys, but women like that just make me feel used.”  The pastor’s wife tried to cheer her up. “ I know it’s discouraging, but remember we do it to show others Christ’s love for us.”  The van pulled up to the church and the members of the congregation returned to their vehicles.  As the members bade each other good night Arliss called out “Merry Christmas!”  He got in the driver’s seat, started the truck and said to Nicole, “I try to say that to everyone.” Nicole replied, “You should, while you still can”

Four More Years Part Two

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago I started a series on how the next four years would look under another Obama administration.  I had intended to write four posts, one for each year.  Instead I have skipped ahead to the eighth year of Obama’s Presidency.

He stood gazing out of the window, somber and thoughtful. His closely cropped,  once salt and pepper hair, now completely white. His brow deeply furrowed and the lines around his mouth gave him a permanent scowl. At fifty-five he had the countenance of a man twenty years older. He surveyed the scene before him. Razor wire now covered the wrought iron fences. The once beautifully manicured lawns and gardens were now an encampment. Just inside the fences the patrols stepped purposefully, forming a human barrier between the man at the window and the angry mob outside. The patrols, and the men at the command tent were all wearing the sky blue berets of UN Peacekeepers.

The man at the window pondered over how it could have come to this. It all seemed like such a perfect plan. Since childhood he had anguished over the inequities of society. Why did some people have plenty to eat while others starved? Why did rich people receive top-notch care at state of the art hospitals, while the poor were dying of preventable disease? Why were some countries prosperous and others still wallowing in the Dark Ages? Convinced that wealthy nations and people became that way at the expense of poor ones, he vowed that if he were ever elected to a high office, he would set it right. The plan was brilliant in it’s simplicity. Those who were blessed with the talent of creating wealth would be compelled by taxation into handing over their riches to the government, which would then distribute the wealth to those who were not so blessed. Once the poor had their basic needs taken care of, they would then be free to pursue their dreams becoming wealthy themselves and thereby contributing more to the coffers. As the vast circle of “givers” grew, more and more would flow into the government well. The government could then wisely distribute the largess, providing better and better services to the people. No one would ever again have to worry about food, or rent, or utilities. Everyone would be prosperous and happy. Health care could be distributed in much the same way. Medical funds would be equally distributed between doctors and hospitals and all would be required to provide basic healthcare services to everyone. The money saved from the equalization of medical expenses, could then be used for research and providing even better care. He would reduce America’s arsenal as a good faith gesture to the rest of the world. He would turn America into the perfect neighbor, generous, peaceful, and non-threatening.

How, he wondered did it all go so terribly wrong? He had underestimated how ingrained in the American psyche the concept of the individual was. So determined were those lucky enough to own property and businesses to keep what they had earned, that they would rather close up shop and divide their assets with their own families, than allow it to be taxed. Selfish bastards, they just didn’t get it. So blinded by their perceived right to self-determination, they couldn’t grasp that the government could do a better job of utilizing the wealth. And all they had to do was give their “fair share”. Their greed had forced him to borrow extensively from other nations, some not so friendly. The Federal Reserve continued to print money, flooding the markets with near worthless paper and driving up prices. As business owners closed their doors unemployment rose until nearly half of country were without jobs. More and more came into the fold, the government their sole source of survival.

His plan to provide healthcare to the nation wasn’t going exactly as planned either. The insurance co-ops that were supposed to make healthcare affordable, were a failure. With no way to make a profit one by one the companies dropped out or went out of business. Leaving only the government option available. With prices capped by the government, doctors were finding it difficult to maintain profitable practices. Many simply closed their doors. With no guarantee that one could make a living after eight-plus years of grueling study, fewer and fewer young men and women entered medical school. The small number of doctors that were left were forced to find ways to stretch their time and resources. Doctor’s appointments and hospital beds were precious. Stories such as the elderly woman who was denied cancer treatment to make room for someone younger, and the middle-aged man who bled to death in a hospital emergency department waiting room in full view of sick children, were becoming common.

It was obvious to him a year ago, that the nation was broke. A third credit downgrade took it down to a B and no more countries would lend him money. Tax revenues were drying up and his financial advisers were running out of ways to “cook the books”. There was no other choice than to cut services. Pell grants and college loan guarantees were the first to go, then Social Security and what was left of Medicare. Schools were privatized leaving a haphazard mixture of private and quasi-public institutions. Only those who were homeschooled could be guaranteed to receive an adequate education. Subsidies for cell phones and other utilities were cut, followed by WIC, TANF, and finally food stamps. His grand plan to care for everyone in the nation had come crashing down around him. The governmental safety net that so many had come to depend on was no longer there. What foods and goods were left, in the few stores still open, was so expensive almost no one could afford them. As hunger and desperation set in, the people took to rioting in the streets. Angry mobs demanded to know what had happened to the “hope and change”, to the promise of prosperity. In an audacious act of defiance the National Guard, Active Duty Military, and local police squads refused to fire on the crowds of U S citizens. So he sought the help of the UN to restore order. For the first time in the nation’s history, a foreign army was taking action against American citizens, on American soil.

To be continued:

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