I have medical insurance ... or do I? I pay for it ... but am I really covered? Are you covered? If you go to the hospital in need of long term care, is the insurance you have going to pay for it? In many cases, the answer is NO!
Theoretically, insurance companies are regulated, but in order to compete and make a profit, they write medical coverage contracts with a lot of loopholes so they can get out of paying for you when you need it. If the high deductibles and other loopholes built into your policy don’t allow them to avoid paying, they raise your rates so that you can't afford insurance anymore. If you are part of a group plan, they raise the rates on your group until the group can't pay for it anymore. Because of the higher rates, your employer has to choose between firing you when you get sick or dropping coverage for everyone in the company.
When you go to the hospital, the insurance companies require you to be pre-certified. This allows them to make decisions about your medical treatment. The type of treatment you get is not determined by your doctor or other medical professionals. It is determined by insurance company employees. And these insurance companies are trying to cut costs so they can get you out of there as cheaply as possible.
In many cases any time a claim is made, the automatic response from the insurance companies is to assert that it arose from a preexisting condition, whether or not they have any reason to believe that it did. They do this to avoid paying claims, in the hope (and reasonable expectation) that you will give up and won't press the issue. They assume, based on past experience, that claims for less than a few thousand dollars will not be worth the legal cost of your pursuing payment.
So, even though I pay for medical insurance, I'm not really covered. And, very likely, neither are you. If we're not covered, we're not insured. We're being ripped off.
I very much want to see President Clinton's Health Care package enacted into law, so I've been faxing Congress on the subject. Here are some of the letters I've sent dealing with this issue:
Unless we start letting people die on the hospital steps, everyone gets medical treatment. Since everyone gets treatment, I think that everyone who can pay for it, should pay for it. That way those of us who are buying insurance won't have to pay the medical bills of those of us who won't.
I don't want to see a Republican alternative whose sole purpose is to provide an excuse for not taking the responsibility of facing the health care issue. I want to see Republicans become part of the plan and part of the solution rather than an obstacle in the road of progress. Share the glory, not the blame.
But the plan still has to pass Congress and I'm concerned about the tobacco industry, insurance companies, malpractice attorneys, and other special interests who have given congress millions of dollars. Will congress vote with the people who elected them or with the people who are giving them money?
Considering the amount of money that is being spent to influence congressional votes, it is important for every person in America to write their congressman and senators and urge them to vote in the interest of the people and not in the interests of those who give them money. Let them know that you are watching them and are holding them to a high standard of personal integrity.
Although we do have medical insurance, the insurance company called the cysts a preexisting condition, which they were not. I mentioned the problem to my lawyer and he told me that suing the insurance company wouldn't be cost effective. He complained that he too had medical problems and couldn't get his insurance company to pay his bills. However, he pointed out that it wasn't cost effective for the hospital to collect the money from us and that maybe we should just refuse to pay.
Another friend of mine has a business with 40 employees. Because of two insurance claims, his insurer raised the rates for all his employees by 200 dollars per month. He had to drop his group insurance coverage because he could no longer afford it.
If you're looking for someone to frame as a villain in the health care debate, let me cast my vote for the insurance companies. We absolutely must end their cherry-picking and see that they cover everyone for every condition. Even though I pay for health insurance, I really don't feel like I'm covered.
At the risk of being considered a weirdo, I will go on record stating that Iwould trade my lawyer and my gun for a doctor. If we Americans are going to present ourselves as an advanced society, will we not be judged by how we take care of our sick? If you feel strongly about Health Care as I do then share your thoughts with your congressperson or senator. They need your assistance to help make the correct decisions about health issues.
I'm tired of hearing this crap comming from Republicans. You guys just aren't serious about health care reform and I am angry with you because you are fucking around with the lives of my family and my friends.
When the Clinton administration comes up with good ideas, we should support them and find ways to build on them to make them even better. This opposing everything Democratic for the sake of partisan politics is offensive to many of us Republicans. So even though it isn't right for me to say the 'F' word to you, it isn't right for you to do the 'F' word to us.
Sometimes I write a really good letter -- and this is one I'm proud of. In my efforts to prod Congress in the right direction, I have written a lot of letters. I hope this was a letter that some of them actually read:
This is the dream we all share and this is how we like to view ourselves. But is there a rational basis to believe this is reality? How do we know we aren't just fooling ourselves? Is there a gap between what we believe and what we do?
What defines us as Americans is what we do as Americans, as a society. That is the yardstick by which history will measure us. And what we do as a society is based on how we treat each other. Do we feed our hungry, or let them starve? Do we protect our women and children? Do we care for our sick and injured and our older people? Are we honest, or do we cheat each other? If we are going to be the type of America we believe we are, do we not have to honestly look at these questions?
At this juncture in history we are facing the issue of health care reform. We are making choices about how we treat our sick and injured, choices that will define us as a people for generations to come. We are now faced with the question "Are we the dream, really, or are we just fooling ourselves?" Will our light shine for eons to come, or are we just a blip on the line of time?
The choices we make on health care will show if Americans feel that it is acceptable to deny some people access to medical treatment because they are poor or have chronic health problems. Do Americans have the will to take automatic weapons out of the hands of children? Do Americans have the guts to tell the tobacco and alcohol industry not to market their drugs to our teenagers? Is there justice in our justice system? Do we hold our elected officials to a high standard of integrity, or is corruption and abuse the norm? Are we a responsible people who, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, are going to do "the right and honorable thing"?
I personally believe in the dream. Americans really are everything that we believe we are. Sometimes we stumble, but we always get back up. And it is imperative that we maintain and preserve the dream. But we Americans have a representative form of government and our elected officials make the decisions we live by. And those elected officials control who we are, at least to the extent that we don't control them.
In the 1992 election we said no to fear and hate and voted for hope and honesty because we Americans are choosing to take responsibility for who we are and where we are going. But electing a new president with a pure vision was just the first step. Congress has only this current term to figure out that change doesn't stop with the White House. And those who don't figure it out will find themselves replaced by new representatives who won't sell us out. As America gets back up on its feet, Congress had better not be standing in our way.
Some of you might be wondering why I haven't been writing Thinking Magazine every month like I used to. You may be asking yourselves, "Oh, my God! Is Marc caving in to the system and becoming one of THEM?" Hell, no! But with Clinton doing such a good job and the country moving on the right track again, I haven't felt the compulsion that used to force me to write more than I am now. Still, I haven't been asleep at the wheel. During the debate about the NAFTA, I sent out a lot of faxes in support of its ratification. I focused on pestering Congress since, after all, they are the ones who actually voted on the issue. And theirs were the only votes that counted.
As the NAFTA battle raged, I thought it would be like the budget fight — a one vote winner (or loser). But unlike the budget, which I knew would have to pass I didn't think NAFTA was somehow going to have to be approved. So I thought that if I hit Congress hard enough, I might actually get those few votes to put it over the top, so I sent about 4000 faxes defending it. As it turned out, Clinton ran a brilliant campaign and got NAFTA through easily.
In the beginning, Republicans who were basically pro NAFTA were considering voting against it. They wanted to see some serious backing from the President on the issue because they wanted to be on the winning side. Republican leaders stated publicly that they weren't going to support NAFTA if Clinton didn't lead the charge.
The first move Clinton made that showed he was serious about NAFTA was when he got three former presidents to come to the White House to support it. Seeing Clinton, Bush, Ford, and Carter in the same room giving pro-NAFTA speeches got the message across very clearly.
Clinton was on first, and gave a very persuasive and dynamic speech. But the most interesting comment was made by George Bush, who followed him. Bush walked up to the microphone and said, "That was a hell of a speech! Now I can see why he's on the inside looking out and I'm on the outside looking in."
Even though the four presidents got the ball rolling and brought the Republicans on board, NAFTA still had a long way to go. That's when Al Gore and Bill Clinton got the brilliant idea to challenge Ross Perot to a debate. This was one of the slickest moves I've ever seen in politics and in my opinion, it was the ploy that won the NAFTA battle.
Clinton and Gore knew that Perot was weak when it came to facts. Everything Perot had ever said about NAFTA was already published and In several previous interviews, Perot had come unglued when pressed for specifics. It was just a matter of research and preparation to be able to totally discredit Perot publicly. And knowing Perot had an ego problem, they knew he wouldn't back down form a challenge.
I watched the debate and in my opinion it was the worst slaughter I've ever seen in a political forum. Gore beat Perot worse that Lloyd Benson beat Dan Quayle in the1988 presidential debates. And as a result, looking back, I think I could have saved myself the expense of sending 4000 faxes. But it was an interesting fight and here are my contributions to the battle:
Historically, Democrats and unionized labor have had a cozy relationship, much the same way the Republicans have had one with the religious right. But this is the '90s and the rules are changing. People are more politically aware and there are a lot more of us who feel that selling out America to the unions is the wrong thing to do.
Clinton became President because people wanted change. Union control of the Democratic party is not change. I think it's time for the Democratic party to support everyone's jobs and not just union jobs. NAFTA will increase jobs for nonunion workers and it will stimulate the economy. With federal laws to protect workers and the upcoming national health care plan in place, higher wages -- the traditional goal of unions -- is no longer as important as it once was. What is important is to form the world's largest trading block.
One thing to remember in this debate is that Canada is our largest trading partner -- and we have a trade surplus with Mexico. Another point is that Ross Perot is not your friend. The worse the economy is, the more powerful he becomes. If Clinton fixes the economy, and you voted against Clinton, the public will see you as part of the problem. And there are a lot more of us who are nonunion than union. Think about it.
As you know, the soul of the Democratic party is owned by organized labor. It is likely that most Democrats will vote against this bill. Thus, the credit will go to the Republicans and the President for putting NAFTA over the top.
I believe that in the '94 election year, the issue will be who is part of the solution and who is part of the problem. It is my opinion that Republicans who voted with the President for change will share the glory, while Democrats who voted against the President will fail. Clinton has his hand out to Republicans and it would be smart to grasp it. Many of us want to see moderate Republicans working with moderate Democrats. When I see Clinton playing golf with Gerald Ford, I see Clinton sending a message.
Points to remember: Doing the right thing is better than doing the wrong thing. Ross Perot is not your friend. This is the '90s and in the new world order, it's time for a new way of thinking.
It's like a game of poker. Sometimes the player who bluffs the best wins because the player with the best hand folds. All the Republicans have is bluff. They don't have a clue about what to do. They don't have a leader, they don't have a platform, no message, no plan, no solutions, they don't even have any unity -- nothing! They are running a strong bluff, but that's all they've got, just bluff. If the Republicans lose big in 1994, it's over! And all you have to do to make that happen is to stay focused, and do what's right for America.
Election day is one year away. You need to show as much progress as possible by that day. Supporting NAFTA, health care reform, and Al Gore's re-invention of government will clearly demonstrate a lot of progress. Think about it.
First, look at reality. Free trade is good for America. When choosing a position it is always better if REALITY is on your side.
Second, remember that this is November of 1993. The next election is in November of 1994. If you are worried about reelection you need to think about it from a November 1994 frame of reference. After all the hype is forgotten, how will people view NAFTA? In 1994, a year after NAFTA passes, union members will have realized that NAFTA was good for them as well. Only Ross Perot will still be grousing about it.
Here's what's going to happen on November 1st of 1994. Voters are going to ask themselves if things are getting better or worse. If the voters feel that things are getting better, they are going to reelect Democrats who voted with Clinton. If the voters feel that things are not going well but that Clinton has the right idea, they will voteagainst Democrats who voted against Clinton. If they think Clinton is on the wrong track they would rather vote for a Republican than a Democrat who voted against Clinton.
The best way to win midterm elections is to get voters to view Clinton as successful and Democrats as the helpers who made it happen. And since NAFTA is good for America and will expand trade, it will make the economy better. And a better economy, as you well know, is good for reelection.
I strongly urge you to vote with REALITY. Think about it! Take a chance on REALITY!
Many of you are wondering what to do about NAFTA. On one side you're impressed with the fact that here's an issue that's so obvious that presidents Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Nixon all agree on it. On the other hand, you have union bosses and hordes of Perotees who will hang you if you vote for it.
The 1994 elections are going to be a referendum on Clinton and the changes he's bringing. You are going to be in the middle of debating health care. People aren't even going to remember what NAFTA was by then.
Clinton will be saying, "We are fixing the country. I need more votes in Congress so we can keep doing a good job." The opposition will say, "No, we are heading in the wrong direction! We need more votes to stop Clinton and his Liberal Democrat Bleeding Heart Socialists! One vote could have stopped the tax increase and I want to be that one vote!" If you want to win in 1994, you're going to want to be able to point to a lot of accomplishments and show the country how much better off it is since the Democrats took over. NAFTA could be one of those accomplishments.
Ross Perot wants your job! He wants to gain seats for his party and eventually win the 1996 presidential elections. He needs Democrats, perhaps like you, to give him the power base necessary so that he can tell the world that HE stopped NAFTA and he is therefore a powerful man, a hero, and a great leader. So powerful that he can lead the country ... even in the wrong direction.
If NAFTA goes down, USWSA will be born as a political party. This will be their springboard into mainstream politics, and you will be fighting three-party races for the rest of your political career. However, if NAFTA passes, Perot goes down to defeat and his reputation is dragged through the streets. Jimmy Carter, who called him a Demagogue, will get the last laugh.
The reality is that NAFTA is good for America. But if you are looking at the politics, ask yourself this question: Is a victory for Perot and a defeat for Clinton going to help your political future? Or do you think a victory for Clinton and a defeat for Perot a better move? Interesting way to look at it, isn't it?
Are you going to empower Perot or deny him power? When you cast your vote on NAFTA, I urge you to consider the obvious. And if you hear "The Great Sucking Sound," better check your fly!
==[ Gore Takes Perot to the Woodshed ]==
Ross Perot has made it clear that if you vote for NAFTA, he's going to kick your butt in the 1994 election. Does Ross Perot scare you?
Here's a guy who is taking votes away from both the Democratic and Republican parties and I find it amazing that half of you are thinking about giving him the victory he needs to continue. Voting with Ross Perot is like a chicken voting with Colonel Sanders!
After this debate it's clear that NAFTA is going to pass. The question is, do you want to share the glory or do you want to share the defeat?
Why would any Republican vote against NAFTA? There are three reasons.
First, it would embarrass Clinton. I can't argue that this isn't true, but I would counter by noting that embarrassing Clinton while the majority of Republicans are voting with him on a pro-business issue is not going to help the Republican party.
Second, some Republicans believe that Ross Perot willhelp them beat their Democratic challenger. Well, if you think that Ross Perot is going to help you, I have some land in Fort Worth, Texas, to sell you. All you have to do is look at where it got Republicans in 1992 when Bush tried to cozy up to Ross Perot. Perot is not going to take care of you! Perot is stealing Republican votes and he is not your friend.
Third, you are worried that voters will remember how you voted on NAFTA in 1994. By 1994 voters will have forgotten what NAFTA is. You'll be debating health care and your reelection will depend on your position on health care reform. NAFTA won't even be a factor.
I am looking forward to NAFTA passing and Republicans getting credit for being part of the process to move America in the right direction. It is my sincere hope that this victory will lead to more cooperation with Clinton on the health care issue and other pressing problems America is facing. Republicans can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
Here’s why: Health care is a lot more important to unions than NAFTA. Although they are your biggest foe on NAFTA, unions will be your greatest friend on health care. In 1994 no one will remember what NAFTA is. You will be debating health care. Do you really think that union labor is going to help Republicans who are even more for NAFTA than you are? Think about it.
If you're on the fence about NAFTA and don't know what to do, just ask yourself one simple question: When you wake up Friday morning and you turn on your TV set, do you want to watch Ross Perot strutting around beating his chest?
Please! Have mercy on my stomach, and vote FOR NAFTA.
After killing millions of people for thousands of years, small pox has been eradicated. the disease no longer exists anywhere in the population and all that's left are a few samples that are being kept in labs. Now that its DNA map has been made and stored on computer, the last of the small pox virus is scheduled for execution on December 31, 1993.
But will that be the end of small pox? From what I understand, with the DNA map, a device called a DNA sequencer could at some point in the future be used to recreate the small pox virus.
This is an example how new technology is bending our perception of reality. Is a virus really extinct if it can be recreated? Is it alive or is it dead? And isn't the concept of storing life forms as computer data files and intriguing concept?
At this time we are seeing a wild acceleration in technology and it will be interesting to watch and be part of it as it unfolds.
Where Were You When Kennedy Was Shot?
It's been 30 years since JFK was shot. I was 9 years old at the time and I don't remember where I was. Interestingly though, I do remember where I was when I heard Oswald was shot, probably because I found it confusing at the time.
Well, it isn't any less confusing today. Who killed JFK? I don't know. I don't have enough information to determine who did kill JFK, but I can tell you who didn't kill JFK and that was Oswald.
During the week of the anniversary of JFK's death, I detected a serious effort in TV shows on the subject to convince the public that the "Magic Bullet" theory is plausible -- the idea being that if it somehow could have happened, no matter how unlikely, the public will quit asking questions. Thirty years is a long time, after all, and perhaps we can be made to forget the flaws in the "Magic Bullet" scenario.
But there are two problems the new pseudo-documentaries can't explain. First, the bullet was found in perfect condition. Even a bullet shot into cotton is deformed more than the "Magic Bullet" was -- but the Magic Bullet made seven holes and broke several bones in the process. Second, the sum of the bullet fragments plus the Magic Bullet add up to considerably more than the original bullet weighed.
Bullets don't break bones and stay in perfect condition and bullets don't gain weight when they are shot. There is just no way in Hell that Oswald could possibly have killed Kennedy. So 30 years later, it still remains a mystery.