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That’s Very Generous Of You

1 November 2009

Well, a week has gone by since I began “hitting back!”  I don’t know what I expected, but, somehow, eternal optimist that I am, I come away disappointed at best.  The results were underwhelming.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R, TX)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, (R, TX)

Let’s start at with the “best” of the bunch, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R- TX).  At least Senator Hutchison sent me an e-mail reply to my initial comment on the issue of health care.  At the end of her lengthy reply, she said that she valued my comment, but there was nothing in the text up to that point that convinced me that she “valued” my comment.  In fact, since Mrs. Jack also sent her own individual comment to the Senator’s website and got back the exact same word-for-word reply, I am doubtful that anybody other than a computer program in her office “read” Mrs. Jack’s or  my comments.  Later, I will go into her reply in more detail so that we can all understand exactly what the Republicans have in mind for us.  But for now, I will recount my experiences with my other two “representatives” in Washington.

Sen. John Cornyn, (R,TX)

Sen. John Cornyn, (R,TX)

Senator John Cornyn thanked me “warmly” for my comment in an e-mail acknowledgement entitled: DO NOT REPLY! It promised that the good Senator would send an answer to my comment in the future.  Having yet to hear from him in all these many days, I’m not sure which future year I should be expecting that reply.  Maybe 2014 when he is up for reelection.  I guess it doesn’t matter all that much because from what I heard this morning on State of the Union with John King, Senator Cornyn and the Republicans in Congress are pretty entrenched in their position and won’t be waffling between now and 2014 anyway.

Rep. Kevin Brady, (R, TX)

Rep. Kevin Brady, (R, TX)

That brings me to my U.S. Representative, Kevin Brady (R-TX).  His website thanked me for my comment and offered a check box to sign up for his e-mail newsletter.  I checked the box and received a “do-you-really-want-the-newsletter” e-mail telling me to type only the word “ok” in reply to the confirmation request and I would be added to the list.  What came back was frightening.  I got an e-mail from the Congressman’s office with what looked to be Chinese characters on it interspaced with “unknown command” and  “help” in English.  In subsequent e-mails I was informed that my request had gone unanswered for over 24, then 48 hours and I should try again.  The same weird thing happened again.  I hate to assume anything from this strange experience, but I do suspect that, due to my unwillingness to agree 100 percent with Representative Brady’s views on health care, perhaps, just perhaps, he put me on his don’t-waste-your-time-on-this-guy list.  Just a thought.  Anyway, now, I seem to be caught up in an e-mail Twilight Zone where I receive a daily message from Mr. Brady’s office telling me that my request didn’t go through and to try again.  I guess he’s “hitting back.”

That brings me full circle back to Senator Hutchison, who wants to leave Washington behind and become Governor of our State.  In her “lengthy” canned reply to my comment requesting a government option for healthcare, she went on and on with what she believes in.  It went something like this:  I’m a Republican, blah, blah, blah.  I’m afraid of big government, blah, blah, blah.  You should be afraid of big government, too, blah, blah, blah.  Socialism, blah, blah, blah.  It may LEAD to government-run health care in the future, blah, blah, blah.  We need tort reform, blah, blah, blah.  It may drive our good friends the insurance companies out of business, blah, blah, blah.  Free enterprise, blah, blah, blah.  Be afraid!  BE AFRAID!  BE VERRRRRRRRY AFRAID! Finally, near the bottom of the text was her generous solution to the entire problem: vouchers for you to buy your own health insurance.  It was just wonderful.  The government will give you a voucher of $2,000 per person or $5,000 per family to offset those nasty insurance premiums.  And due to the huge level of competition in the health insurance market, rates will go down, and everybody will be able to afford to go to the doctor.  It will be wonderful and, without the pesky interference of Big Government, the insurance companies will do the right thing and take care of us all, making us all, healthy, happy and free! (Wave flag here.)

The only thing soaring higher than Senator Hutchison’s rhetoric is her oversized Texas high hair wig!  So I decided to offer a rebuttal.  I wondered if she or an aide would respond to my rebuttal with a different canned message, or actually answer it.  Nothing! Not a word has come back from Senator Hutchison’s office since I dared to “question” her plan.  I merely pointed out that for Mrs. Jack and myself, since we are past 60 but not yet 65—that is, Medicare eligible—and we both have “pre-existing” conditions, the best quote we got on health insurance for both of us was $1400 per month.  Now, let’s see.  If we “qualified” as a family, which I’m not sure we do—but we’ll say so for sake of argument—that means our $16,800 per year insurance premium would be offset by $5,000, leaving us a mere $11,800 out of pocket.  That would leave us about $4,000 a year to live on.  How very generous! Perhaps the delay in Senator Hutchison’s reply to my reply is to allow her time to come up with a ladylike way of saying, “That’s too bad; f**k off!”  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen her on TV, but there’s an old Southern expression for women like her: Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.  Anyway, on with the saga.

Then this morning on State of the Union with John King, I saw the always scary House Minority Leader John Boehner, (R-Ohio).  He clearly outlined the Republican plan for health care reform when he said, “We want to ‘fix’ the CURRENT health care system.”  Then he added some blah, blah, blah of his own, but in short, he stated that “most Americans” just want the current health care system fixed, not some sort of major overhaul.  When pressed about the 47 million Americans without health care insurance, he brushed the question aside and went on with his Republican, “Big Government, blah, blah, blah” argument.

So let’s take a good look at what the Republicans are really offering the American people.  They want to give you $2,000 a year to offset your insurance premiums and allow the “current system” to stay in place allowing Big Insurance to do what it pleases, and allowing the costs of health care to continue spiraling into the stratosphere.  That is the CURRENT system!  That is what the Republicans are offering.  What it amounts to is a $2,000 annual tax break to those who can afford to buy their own insurance and nothing for everybody else.  Now, that’s reform we can believe in.  Oh, that’s right, they aren’t interested in REFORM! The Republicans are only looking out for the interests of Big Insurance and their own political party to keep the hated Obama from doing what he promised the American people he would do: REFORM THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN AMERICA.

Scared child

Mommie, there’s a Republican under my bed.

Instead of doing anything to help people, the Republicans, as always, are dispersing scare scenarios and citing the burden on “our children and grandchildren.”  Of course, those would be the children and grandchildren who survive because they have access to health care.  And that would be the really important children of that upper crust portion of the Republican Party who can afford their own Cadillac-quality health care insurance.

I’ve got a better plan for the Republicans, if they don’t want the government involved with health care.  Why don’t they demand their overlords, the Health Insurance Companies, do on their own what the Republicans say they will do if we leave them alone?  If the Health Insurance Companies are so willing to get rid of those pre-existing condition clauses and let everybody buy their product, and if they’re willing to lift all the bans they have lobbied into place in the States to protect themselves from competition and even losses, why don’t they start TODAY. It would make the need for health care reform moot.  But they are not doing that, are they?  Just like the banks, they are grabbing while the grabbing is good, threatening to raise premiums in the years prior to the reform measures kicking in, and clamping down even harder on their customers’ rights to access medical care.  Yeah, these are nice guys indeed.  I trust them.  Don’t you?  Oh, come on, the Republicans say we can trust their friends, the Insurance Companies.  Where’s your faith?

After all we’ve been through during the Republican Revolution, where Big Banks and Big Insurance have taken the best that our country has to offer and have returned nothing, I’ll put my trust in government.  At least I can vote against it if I don’t like it.

I’m Jack.  I am who I am, and I’m HITTING BACK!

With Liberty and Justice for All!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. mkirschmd permalink
    2 November 2009 8:36 am

    Don’t agree with your lefty blather on tort reform. How can you support the current system which tortures doctors and leads to billions of dollars of defensive medicine? Just because tort reform benefits the insurance companies, doesn’t mean its a bad idea. For some balance, see http://www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com under Legal Quality.

    • 2 November 2009 9:49 pm

      My “lefty blather” on tort reform was formed over many years sitting in the court reporter’s chair in the courtrooms and deposition suites of both State and Federal courts watching everyday people ripped off by big insurance companies who could afford the best lawyers money could buy to get out of paying claims that they owed. Big Insurance and The Right would like to limit the discussion on tort reform to medical malpractice, knowing full well that it doesn’t amount to a very large percentage of civil cases handled by our court systems. It’s also a good argument for their side because everybody likes THEIR doctor and feels that they are worthy of protection from the court system. But when tort reform was last on the ballot of Texas, resulting in a constitutional amendment, it was extremely expansive and now people are fighting for every last dime they can from their insurance companies for Hurricane Ike which was over a year ago.

      In addition to that, I have sat through countless depositions and court cases where lawyers for insurance companies perpetrated outrageous tactics and even stooped to outright lies to keep their clients from paying what they owe. And in case you don’t know, every personal injury case that gets to trial is against an insurance company. That’s where they keep the money and the lawyers know it.

      However, in order to keep this reply to your comment from going on and on, I will let you know that you have inspired me to write that post on tort reform that I have been failing to get around to. You remind me that most people don’t know what really goes on down at the courthouse. They just think they do because somebody tells them. Everybody should have the opportunity to go down and sit through the entire process of a personal injury trial in an American courtroom at least once. And jury duty doesn’t count, because you wouldn’t see all the trouble defense lawyers go to to keep the jury from hearing things that would go against their clients. It would quickly dispel the myth that tort reform is necessary.

      I’m always puzzled by The Right who want “the people” to decide who gets civil rights and all manner of other things, but are afraid that twelve citizens down at the courthouse will somehow ruin capitalism in America.

      However, I will agree that there may be some need for tort reform if it is limited to medical malpractice.

  2. 6 November 2009 11:05 pm

    Jack,
    I received a response today from my congressman — also a deep red Repub. He went on and on about how the public option would kill private insurance companies — the usual GOP blather where the only solution is tort reform. In my response to his response I suggested that since he is so opposed to government-funded health care he should forego his Medicare. Any bets on whether he’ll do that any more than he kept his promise only to serve 2 terms?

    • 8 November 2009 11:04 am

      Yes, indeedy! It seems that Republican Congresspersons are EXTREMELY reluctant to forgo their own GOVERNMENT HEALTH INSURANCE. I lost a dear friend a few years back to a terminal disease who had U.S. Government Employee insurance. It was VERY good; in fact, it was EXACTLY the same insurance with the same company that I got as a Texas State Employee. I lost that insurance with my job and haven’t been allowed to affordably replace it.

      But, of course, WE are not worthy of the same treatment as our elected Republican officials, are we? WHAT A CROCK!

  3. 8 November 2009 3:21 pm

    Dear Lefty, I am glad that I have inspired you. Naturally, there are abuses and injustices that call for legal recourse. This is inarguable. The issue, where we disagree, is that the process has run amok. Fear of litigation has gone well beyond the noble mission of the legal profession. In the real world, far from the courtroom you inhabited, businesses and corporations are being constrained from innovating or taking necessary risks to bring products to market. How would you like to be in the pharmaceutical business today? Their products can cause serious side-effects that cannot be anticipated? Yet, if something untoward develops, and you comb through the prior records, of course you will find a ‘smoking gun’ somewhere. Do you think that pharmaceuticals, food manufacturers and cosmetics have no diverging opinions in their product research? A lawyer can always find a document supporting a plaintiff because research never produces homogeneous results. In the business world, look how hard it is to fire an incompetent worker for fear you will be sued for any of the various forms of discrimination that now exist. A case actually reached a judge by plaintiff parents who were suing Burger King blaming them for their kids’ obesity. How could such an absurd case reach a judge? In my view, fear of litigation is not serving as a deterrence from misconduct as much as it stifles growth and development. Before you write your blog post, please review my posts at http://www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com under Legal Quality for some balance. I look forward to your post.

    • 10 November 2009 2:25 pm

      Dear Dr. Kirsch, I understand where you are coming from, but I found in many years of life that sometimes we just have to do what we think is right and let things go where they go. I, personally, am afflicted with several chronic medical conditions that demand attention. My wife is in exactly the same shape. This is partly because of our extreme old age. LOL! I am lucky enough to be a poor, and by that I mean poor in monetary wealth only, veteran and able to enjoy the benefits of one of those “horrible” government-run health care programs: the V.A. Hospital here in Houston. My wife, on the other hand is a cancer survivor and also has several chronic medical conditions. Since she lost her job two and a half years ago, we, but mainly her, have been without any health insurance whatsoever. We are hanging on for dear life and hoping against hope that nothing really bad happens to her before she can get Medicare. In the meantime, we worry, which is not good for our health. So, we do not have the luxury of sitting around and worrying about what may happen to others who can afford insurance and health care.

      In your responses to my post and in going to your blog, I see someone who obsesses about what may happen to him in the course of his everyday practice of medicine. I know that is difficult, however, I would urge you to buck up and do your job. Do not let your malpractice insurance carrier frighten you at every turn about their possible losses. When you drive your car, I expect that you are not constantly haunted by the thought that you are about to lose control and kill or injure someone. Yet, this is more likely to happen than you being sued for malpractice. And after all, isn’t that why you buy automobile liability insurance in the first place, so you don’t have to worry about that? In my mind, the same applies to medical malpractice insurance. You buy it for peace of mind, but your insurance company is taking your premiums then scaring you to death, trying to put all the responsibility for the entire justice system on your shoulders.

      Don’t worry. Be happy. Life is too short, and that’s what insurance companies promised you in the first place. Make them do their job.

  4. 10 November 2009 4:48 pm

    Dear Lefty,

    First, call me Michael. I don’t even introduce myself as ‘Dr. Kirsch’ to patients. I regret hearing of your medical travails. Everyone agrees that folks like you and your wife deserve access to affordable health care. I hope this comes to you soon. The disagreement is the best path toward this outcome. I do not obsess about med mal or the other minefields before me each day. By and large, I am having fun and the Whistleblower lets me decompress each week! I wish you well. http://www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com

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