Saturday, May 9, 2009

Consumers Scammed by Government and Private Corporations. Okay, there’s No Free Lunch, but this is Ridiculous.

I'm surprised no one noticed that because people have cut back on their use of energy through more efficient furnaces, water heaters, windows, insulation, thermostats, along with major industries closing energy using factories, we're being charged more to make up the difference in lost business. I'm serious. Utility companies are requesting rate increases due to low use and corporate closures.

No matter how much we save and take their advice to cut back on energy use to LOWER our bills, they are going to raise prices to make up for the shortfall.

Isn't anyone a little PO'ed?

Saving Energy: (AP) -- Wisconsin Power and Light Company says it needs to increase rates to offset slumping sales. WPL said one reason it needs more money is to cover the higher cost of doing business. Sales of electricity have fallen; factories and other Wisconsin industrial customers bought 15 percent less power from WPL.

Cheaper Prices: We hear all the time that our purchasing power has gone up because of the availability of cheap goods manufactured in China. Wal-Mart’s ads were suggesting that you “give yourself a raise” by taking advantage of their low prices. That’s not quite true though: The city of Middleton, Wisconsin charges $30 to pick up old appliances of any size, from refrigerators to the tiniest microwaves and portable TV’s. In some cases, that’s more that half the price of something new. Big savings huh? Pretty soon, it'll cost the same thing to get rid of an item as it is to buy it.

Health Care: We know Congress really isn’t working on the public behalf when they have narrowed the reform options down to three, where two highly favored compromise plans may do nothing at all:

Option 1-Create a plan that resembles Medicare, administered by the Health and Human Services department or Option 2-Adopt a Medicare-like plan, but pick an outside party to run it. That way government officials would not directly control the day-to-day operations.

What’s wrong with that? Both options would have no affect at all if Congressional special interests water down the final choice with this compromise: “…would the plan reimburse medical providers at discounted Medicare rates or the higher fees that private insurers pay? And would it be financed by tax dollars, or entirely from premiums?”

Does paying the same as private insurers; using an outside entity to administer the public program; and using premiums to finance the program, do away with the cost savings and a large pool of users to lower costs? Of course. Back to square one and back to unaffordable insurance. Yeh!

The obvious solution would be to get President Obama involved, drawing the line as to what has to be included or face a veto. But even that doesn’t look good:

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said the prospect of a "public option" for health coverage was raised, as an alternative to private insurance, but remarked that when he called it a "major problem" for him and many of his GOP colleagues, "there was no indication of any line being drawn in the sand."

It seems crazy to draw up reform without at least a basic, bottom “line in the sand” plan.

The math is simple, it's dumb ass politicians who are making this hard. Some facts:

The upfront tab could reach $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years, while expected savings from wringing waste and inefficiency from the health care system may take longer to show.

Up to $1.5 trillion in ten years? What is costing us now, per year?

$2.5 trillion a year on health care, more than any other advanced country. At least one-third of that spending goes for services that provide little or no benefit to patients. So theoretically, there's enough money in the system to cover everybody, including an estimated 50 million uninsured.

The majority of Americans now get health insurance through private insurers, about 170 million people in all.

Since health care in this country is too expensive, discriminatory and broken, it would be crazy to propose an EXPANSION of private insurance and the disfunctional for profit system we have now. But Congressional Republicans are pushing just that.

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