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Approximately ten days ago, I spoke with Yana and told her I was waiting for the final results of the health care debacle to write my column. I'm still waiting for the final results of the health care debacle. However, that might mean I'll not be writing a column for a good while to come, if ever.

Since the onset of this comedy of errors over a year ago, I frankly don't think I've heard of a source available for anyone to know without a doubt whether the health reform legislation only half-passed, is good or bad. The one exception may be to read the entire bill plus the reconciliation amendments verbatim, which absolutely no one has done, not even those doing the voting, keyword being 'verbatim'. I considered attempting it, but lacking a degree from Harvard Law School, I was soon dissuaded. I'd wager that the Supreme Court would be challenged!  

History tells us that any change brought about by social reform tends to be negatively reactive, often rigorously so. That is to be expected; people don't like change unless there is something guaranteed in it for them, admit it or not. We all have our 'comfort zones'. So it was so with Social Security and Publics Works Programs. Yet, fifty years later we have people threatening to 'arm and fight' if Government 'messes with their healthcare!" Our freedoms will be stripped, ARE being stripped!

What baffles me beyond any comprehension is that 95% of those screaming the loudest are on some form of Government-ran program. Government, if taken at ALL levels, is the largest employer in the nation, the entire world! Oh, I'm not just talking about employees of the three Federal branches. What about all the states, counties and cities? What about policemen, firemen, teachers, administrators, boards, mayors, managers, councilmen, governors, cabinets, parks and recreation, prison guards, security workers, garbage workers . . . the list goes on and on and on. Not to even mention the largest military EVER. These folks, ALL of them are dependent on tax dollars, including their own.

I could even carry it further and analyze the private sector as well. They, too, have to pay taxes to operate. Again, with two exceptions that carry more power and profit than anything, churches and banks. Believe me, though, any taxes that banks pay are passed right back to 'YOU' so you're carrying them, too. Probably true with any consumer generated corporation. So there is the underlying problem. The bottom line of everything societal is money whether you are getting it or paying it. ONLY the churches get a free ride. The congregations pay. I find myself asking, "What would Jesus do?" But, that is a book not a column. There are two things that really have me perturbed beyond consolation about the current events, hypocrisy and violence. I can't justify either under any circumstances, especially hypocrisy.  

I'd like to know where all the Tea Partiers were when a twelve million dollar deficit was created in eight years to fight an illegal war, or ANY war. I want to know where all the Pro-Lifers were when America's young men and women were, and still are, having their guts strewn all over desert sand. Did any one of them ask WHY we became the target of terrorists and hated around the world? Use either of the exceptions, religion or world banks. Either would fit again. Again, another book, not a column.

Just where were all the ultra-Conservatives then? Did any of you hear too many peeps out of our elite political "Right" then? Same true for all the elite progressive "Left". With again, a couple of exceptions, our President being one. Now, they have resorted to attack, lies, slander and downright obstruction! Yet still, collecting your tax-dollar-paid salary and Government run healthcare while they do absolutely nothing to solve a problem, any problem! To me, it's criminal. It's stealing. If it isn't, it should be. All this yapping about the Constitution and it hasn't been adhered to for decades! How many have even read it? I have. I carry a pocket version around in my purse!

Now, we're being told to prepare for a revolution! It's likened to the Revolutionary War for freedom. Arm yourselves and fight! Break windows and destroy property! Store food and water! Terminology has turned to violent metaphor. Get them in your sites! Take 'em out! The esteemed Ms. Palin plastering rifle crosshairs all over her Facebook page! Typical, I suppose, coming from a woman who shoots defenseless wolves from airplanes. Pro-lifers yelling "Baby-killer", using foul language and wishing death on Representative Stupak from Michigan! Spitting on a black congressman! All the while, running to church on Sunday. I wonder just what Jesus would do, he being a victim of such behavior?

We aren't fighting for independence from a foreign power, we are being told to fight to shut down an elected leader who is trying diligently to, at least, affect a solution to a problem after 75 years of failure or total inattention. If it doesn't work, he'd be the first to want to fix it because I truly believe he is still naïve enough, and young enough, to want to make America better. I also truly hope he survives it given the rhetoric flying around the airwaves. It's despicable considering we have witnessed three assassinations of leaders in our lifetime. Not to even mention those who've given their lives for a cause. How many were slaughtered in the fight for Civil Rights?

Of course, these types of behaviors probably aren't huge in number, but the news media is like a swarm of sharks in the midst a feeding frenzy!  To the world, it represents Democracy; it represents AMERICA! Soon the pack mentality will start working on human nature, that's a fact, it's innate.

The day hypocrisy and bloodshed represents America THAT is the day, or was the day, we are doomed. Yana, we all better be calling grandma! Or, mom and dad, or your kids, or whoever you have left! I have my writing... and yes, my humble opinion.  

May you all manage to find a rainbow.

    

Susan Haley    

**Susan Haley is the published author of three books, several articles on networking, an award-winning poet, a contract copy editor and book reviewer. She also contributes a column to "The Florida Writer" the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association, of which she is Facilitator for the Sarasota County Chapter. The audio version of her novel "Rainy Day People" was awarded runner-up Finalist in the 2008 Indie Excellence National Book Awards. She also presents workshops at Writers  Conferences and contributes a variety of editorials and excerpts of her work to various E-zines, newsletters and local papers.

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Member Comments

    • +2 votes vote up vote up

      Leadinladytracy wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • Beautifully written and thank you!

      I could not agree more.

      The right way to fight if you disagree is to organize and energy voters to vote in November. Not display this uncivilized behavior that is going on in our nation right now!



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • Susan, you have eloquently and articulately expressed how I have been feeling.  Thank you!

      All this hate for each other is killing us all from the inside out.  We don’t have to agree on everything but when did we become a country where if you don’t agree with your neighbor you have the right to harm them?  

      That doesn't sound like the USA it sounds like Iraq or Afghanistan.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • Annie - one point from me on this.  ‘We’ are hated because ‘others’ don’t agree with how we think and they think that gives them the right to harm us.  Sound familiar?

      When we do the same thing...and to our own citizens...we are no better than the religious ‘right’ in Iraq or Afghanistan.

      “Once you give in to terrorism, they win and want more.”

      Aren’t we following the same path?



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • I was in the Montreal train station in 1984, when it was bombed by an American who didn’t agree with Canada’s politics (and he was more than a little crazy).  It was horrific.

      That makes me even more afraid of the path we are taking.

      However, I take your point.  I misunderstood what you were saying.  I thought you were speaking to extreme ideologies in general.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mztracy wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • Susan yet again, gr8 blog!!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • I consider all of this a major tragedy!  If it’s so right...and it’s what the MAJORITY of the American people wanted then why are the ones that voted for this know that it may have cost them their political careers.  They know it isn’t right and did it anyway.  

      Do I think there might be a few things that are beneficial?...Yes but only a few...not enough that this entire monster of a bill should be passed.  So much had nothing to do with healthcare....why do you think that is?  That would be all of the behind closed deals, the threats of losing chair seats if you didn’t vote for it, and all of the bullying from Pelosi, you know that lady that thinks she is God’s gift to the American people....yeah right!  

      For me personally....my freedoms are one of the most important things in my life.  I’m not willing to give them up and I will fight with every bit of my being to keep those freedoms.  Last Sunday....we gave up a little bit more...and that is what so many people are furious about.  

      Bottom line....I’m not for big government (and I’m talking about the gov. telling me what to do about everything...not about all the federal, state, and city jobs themselves.   I believe there are other ways to provide healthcare to Americans without compromising their freedoms.  Just my opinion.....



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 25, 2010
    • Thank you to all of you who’ve commented. I think I have to clarify one thing before the discussion should continue. After reading your replies Annie and Mary, I’m wondering if you’ve misread my meaning. I never mentioned the reform bill’s positives or negatives. Like Mary, I’m sure it has both. Most human written laws do. I was talking about what seems to have become the normal reaction to anything people don’t like about government, laws, or even animals and the environment, for goodness sakes. I have none or ever will have any patience for hypocrisy or violence regardless the politics, gender, religion, beliefs, or individual perpetrating it in a cultural setting. Even if it were a small child, they’d be corrected immediately.

      Annie, with all due respect, you say you don’t watch any particular media source, you listen to them ALL. I know you work hard and don’t have tons of time to be reading 2700 pages of legalese that changes hourly. I feel you are open to debate and discussion and don’t pack a pistol on your hip. Yet, considering I mentioned nothing about the aspects of the new healthcare reform, I find it almost amazing that every single point you made, right down to the language you used, a well-publicized Right Wing talking point from Fox News. It was like listening to a ‘replay‘. What I find most amazing is none of the points are accurate. Illegal immigrants already get healthcare through emergency rooms! This bill doesn’t change anything in that regard! It remains status quo. All the backroom deals and vote buying with perks such as the Cornhusker crap and the Louisiana purchase, which I also found hypocritical, were taken out in the Reconciliation ammendments. More Republican ideas taken from the last bipartisan ‘discussion’ were added in. I understand the Senate changed it again, passed it and sent it back to the House in an effort to stall yet again, and the House passed that earlier this evening. That means that in both parts of this new law, the House passed the final Senate version giving the Republicans what they wanted.
      You are both right that the majority of the American people were disappointed or even flat against this bill as it ended, but what niether of you mentioned was the fact that a two-thirds majority of this country wanted a PUBLIC OPTION. Only when the Dems compromised THAT away did support dwindle. I wouldn’t be totally surprised if all the Republicans are back behind their own closed doors laughing all the way to the bank with their insurance company pay-offs. It’s a verifiable fact how much the insurance companies were spending daily on lobbyists. And, they got their way. Still no public option to force competition and still no regulations on rates. All they gave up was canceling or denying due to pre-existing conditions and caps on lifetime coverage which should never have existed in the first place. Even the Right agreed with that!  

      I don’t know yet if this new law is going to be good or bad. NO one does. History will write that story. I do know there’s nothing in it for me. If anything, I’ll lose income if they make social security cuts and my supplement will probably go up. But that is no big deal because it would have gone up anyway and Social Security is not stable. There isn’t a person receiving Social Security for even five years that hasn’t already gotten back much more than they paid in. Yet NO ONE, including me is willing to give THAT up. I haven’t even touched my own. I get a widow’s benefit that my dear husband never lived long enough to get himself. Me, I’m still working and paying in and probably will have to until I draw my last breath. Yet, I’m not screaming for anyone’s hide.

      Mary, one thing, your biggest negative feeling seems to be regarding terrorists and people hating western culture. Direction has nothing to do with it. All this mess stems from one of the ‘exceptions‘. Religious extremists! They don’t think they are evil! They think they are doing what they‘re directed to do because God/Allah/innervoices, whatever, told them to do. Have you forgotten Timothy McVay who bombed the Oklahoma facility, or the Uni-bomber, the incident in Montreal just mentioned or any number of mass murderers that WERE American! Where you happen to be on the Planet doesn’t determine good or evil. What you are taught is truth can. When innocent civilians are slaughtered as a result of a bomb, it’s easy to understand why the affected country will consider ALL Americans terrorists, too. Were we terrorists when we dropped Atomic bombs on Japan and untold thousands of innocents were killed? No, not many of us think so. But ask a citizen of Nagasaki if you can find one living. With freedom comes responsibility. Radical behavior is never acceptable. That’s why I hate war and killing. That’s why I am an animal activist. That’s why I am a Pantheist. I believe ALL and Everything is God and God can only be good. Everything that is not good is not of God. Including churches. My opinion.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Susan you stated above:

      "Mary, one thing, your biggest negative feeling seems to be regarding terrorists and people hating western culture. Direction has nothing to do with it."  

      I’m not sure where you got that from in my response.  

      But just for the record...I did not misread your meaning.  I was just stating MINE.  

      Let me give you an example of just how all of this is going to play out in YOU..having a so call choice of what health plan you will have.  

      On Wednesday while out running my errands I overheard a gentleman telling another gentlemen that his son paid over $9000 for health insurance for his employees.  His son also stated that he figured (not sure how or where he got the figure from at this point) that the penalty he would pay for NOT carrying health insurance for his employees would be around $2000 and that he would probably just pay the fine....and let them go on the government run plan.  Okay...this is where I ask the question.  Obama states that if you have health insurance and you like your plan or you have it through your employment..then you get to keep it.  Well Mr. President, if your employer is going to do this very thing...then I think you just took our so call CHOICE away.Where is the CHOICE you frequently state???  We will ALL eventually be on the government run plan with all it’s mandates and rationing of health care.

      Am American should never be forced to pay for a service just to exist.  People are angry and have every right to be.
      Right now...there is no rainbow when it comes to the laws of this land.  It’s a GRAND MESS.  And I really do not know what else to say to any of it.

      Oh yeah...Susan..you‘re going to get some help with your prescriptions...but your social security is going to go down....so they just told you what YOU are going to spend your money on.....yeah..that was a great benefit.  

      Oh and let me ask this question (not directly to you Susan)...how did that big old whopping $13 a week in your paycheck help you this past year?  Well..maybe you saw your tax refund (if you got even got one) go down.  The tax tables were never changed to reflect that....and you thought Mr. High All Mighty President was doing you a big old favor didn’t you.  He got it back and more.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Annie, you‘re cute. :) And, I mean that as a term of endearment! Of course, I give you credit! I listed things good about you! No, I don’t want to debate the health care mess. And yes it is a mess. It’s a watered down, compromised, mess lacking the things that a large majority of the citizens wanted Americans wanted! A public option and strict regulations. I said that. Those things were given up in an effort to get bipartisanship which he never got anyway. Should have went with what they wanted in the first place. But, at least, the direction was changed. Maybe now, it can be refined.
      My issue is with hypocrisy and violence. I said that. I also said under no circumstances or no source, do I agree with it. I really don’t care what label it is given, war or terrorism, Right or Left, Liberal or Conservative or Baptist vs Catholic. Or any other labeled theocracy. It’s inflicting harm on another FOR self or another. Whether it’s a direct target or collateral damage, friendly fire or bad judgment, it’s inflicting harm. I’m against violence. That is not being against defense. I believe the largest and most well-run military in history should be able to defend its borders without aggression. I’ve been watching that “Pacific” series and it’s absolutely horrifying and that was, at least, a prinicipled war. But dying is dying. The mortally wounded soldier doesn’t think about politics with his last breath. He’s probably, at that moment, not to happy with them unless totally brainwashed.
      Why don’t all the government and religious leaders fight the darn wars and kill each other off! Why are innocents the victims? 95% of the politicians are hypocrits. I didn’t single out any particular branch.

      Taxes are killing me, too, however it’s the local taxes that are killing me. I worked like a fool to keep my house after my husband died because of cancelled insurance after a quadruple by-pass. Now, I have to use my equity line to pay my taxes which tripled during the real estate bubble. Now, the value has fallen but the taxes have NOT. Yet all the states and counties are broke. Where does the money go? At least with banks and insurance companies we know where it goes! To billions in profits! But even your gas prices are determined by state and local taxes more than federal. That’s why the price varies so much from state to state. Here, they vary between the cities as well as the county. Yet if Alternative Energy is mentioned or getting rid of dependence on foreign oil, the crucifixion begins. The money and profits are in oil!

      I didn’t say I agreed with illegals getting benefits. I said they’ve been getting them all along. Nothing will change there. That does NOT mean I agree with it. My grandparents came here from England and went through the system and became citizens. I’m more conservative than you might imagine but that’s my nature. I’ve had to be frugal to survive. Others weren’t raised the way I was, however. Now it seems that the more we spend on education, the less qualified graduates, IF they graduate, are. Why? Where is the money going?  

      I think everyone should have healthcare. We can’t just let people die on the streets. What we need to be addressing is why a pill the size of speck or a 1/4 ounce of liquid costs upwards of 3 or 4 hundred dollars. Why does one injection of TPA, a ‘clot buster’ for a person in the throes of a heart attack cost $3000? The same drug in Canada or Mexico made by the same manufacturer costs a quarter of that. Or did a few years ago. Admittedly, that may have changed.

      The people who get away with not paying their taxes are politicians which goes right back to hypocrisy. It is more than 2% that foots the bill, however. That would be mathematically impossible. The 2% you are referring to relates to the wealthiest people in the country. Odd that many of them are bankers and politicians. :)

      But, no, I don’t want to debate healthcare. I defend our President because I do feel he’s trying to do right and he did accomplish in 15 months what no one has been able to do for decades.  The right hasn’t even attempted to do it since President Nixon tried and failed. They sure can start a war with no problem, though. They can rebuild nations that we’ve leveled, but they can’t rebuild our own country. I simply cannot comprehend that.
      I do support President Obama because I think his intentions are honorable. That’s not to say he doesn’t make mistakes. HE is the first one to say he makes mistakes and would make mistakes. He doesn’t beat his chest and yell “I AM the decider!” He doesn’t say “So?” when told the people aren’t happy or doesn’t support his methods. He stretched his hand over the aisle many, many times only to get it slapped back in his face. Do I agree with everything he does? Absolutely not. He sent more to die in Afganistan didn’t he. I’m against war. Especially pre-emptive wars outside our own borders. And I’m against lying and hypocrisy no matter who does it.
      Well, it’s 8 in the morning and I haven’t even been to bed yet, so that’s all I have to say.

      Best,
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Mary you make good points and I don’t disagree with them all. I already said the current health care is a mess. Everything is a mess, but Obama didn’t create the mess! He’s at least trying to fix it but simply trusting too many people to keep their word. He didn’t write the bill. He just said he wanted healthcare reform. The idiots on Capitol Hill wrote the thing and it just kept getting bigger and bigger as everyone added what THEY wanted. Then the games began and all the compromising took place. I’ve said it before, NO bill should exceed 2 or 3 hundred pages. NO bill. And I strongly support a line item veto, but Congress has to pass that, too, and they’ll never cut their own throats. He’ll learn how to play the games, given time. But then, he’ll be corrupt, too. Because it is ALL a big hypocritical game. I’m not sure I’m such a fan of democracy anymore if this is an example of it.

      Now let me ask you a direct question. You said ” An American should never be forced to pay for a service just to exist.” What if that were the case and you and I chose not to pay for any service we need to exist. Should or would we agree to lay on the street and die? Who is going to pay the providers of this service if we didn’t? If we didn’t want to pay should we be forced not to partake of any service we didn’t want to pay for? It’s already been established we are FORCED to pay our taxes. If not forced, should we accept the same benefits as those who do? Including police and fire protection? My friend, we are forced into just about everything it takes to exist. I highly resent the cost of food because of some fancy packaging mandated or to cover the cost of the shoplifters, but I’m forced to pay them if I want to exist. And I surely hate that one dollar I pay goes to fight a war! But, I’m forced to pay it.
      The examples work both ways. So sometimes we just have to do what is right. We just have to treat people as we wish to be treated. We were never promised a ‘rose garden’ and the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust and what goes around comes around and all that philosophical stuff. Somethings just ARE whether we like it or not and the opposite is not always to our liking either. Part of life, I guess.
      And please excuse all my typos tonight, girls. I’ve been up well over 24 hours and lost clear vision a few hours ago.

      SH



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lazylola wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • estatic Intresting stuff all across the board.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Kimfabulous wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • This Bill was clearly a compromise.  I would agree that the President’s intentions are good...but with almost all this administration is trying to accomplish, opponents are finding loop holes in passed legislation.  All the rules for the credit card companies?...the credit card companies have found at least 9 ways around 12 of the new rules.  All the help for home owners facing foreclosure?...banks are for the first time as of May 1st having to answer for why they have not moved more quickly to help but more quickly to foreclose.  Thus I trust there will be modifications to this Bill once we know how opponents are trying to get around the well intentioned parameters...like the employer opting to pay the fine versus doing the right thing to insure his workers.

      It’s amazing that many are Ok with human beings not having health insurance.  We are all mandated to have car insurance though...I guess that’s more important?  This system we call health care was broken way before the Obama administration took it on.  For those of you who have not had the opportunity to see SICKO,  rent it this weekend.  It is a real eye opener about how this mess has manifested itself.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Wow! Once again Susan you wrote a great column.  

      All I can say about all this is the threats of violence I keep hearing about. If we are the land of the free and allowed to have a voice why is anyone being threatened?
      I am disgusted by it all!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kimfabulous wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • I would agree Annie...however we need to start some place.  Thus I guess I forgot to say...TRIUMPH!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • This is a tradegy for me, and all of us, really.  To think that our elected officials go about the business of governing with no respect for our wishes is truly tragic.  Have we forgotten why this nation was founded in the first place?

      Futhermore, the health care reform troubles me deeply.  With responsibility for my parents healthcare, given their serious cardiac issues, I am extremely worried for them considering the future cuts of Medicare.  And frankly, my parents are better off than most because they are able to afford secondary coverage.  But I know many other seniors who are not as fortunate, as I’m sure we all do.

      This upsets me to the point of tears if I think about it for very long.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Car insurance = health insurance??

      Car insurance industry oversight is done at the STATE level.  Let health insurance be managed the same way, and get the federal government out of it.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      LuAnn Venden wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Susan—thank you for the eloquent and well-reasoned column.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Oh, Tamra...thanks for thinking of all of us...but please don’t speak for me.  I don’t see this as a tragedy.  Triumph.

      It is the violence and blind hate that is the tragedy.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • With all due respect, I don’t see how the hypocrisy and violence Susan describes can be triumph for anyone under any circumstances.  Not to mention the total disregard for the majority of the wishes of the representatives' constituents.  Very sad times we live in.

      I get the sense that your comments were intended to patronize me.  Please don’t.  If I am mistaken, I apologize.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Ulrike Freund wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Thank you for your excellent article! Well written and brilliant thouthgs, in my opinion. happy



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Ulrike Freund wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • And, oh yes, have you seen SICKO? You should!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Yep......everyone wants healthcare...for some...all they see is....“healthcare“.. and not what they will be giving up for that healthcare...(yes...there is a very stiff price...in more ways than one) and please don’t think it’s going to be FREE....

      But I have decided if all of this truly plays out...I’m going to quit my job, stay at home...watch soaps all day....and live off the government.  I’ll have healthcare and if I really whine a bit...I’ll get them to feed me as well.....for free.  Wow....I’ve got it made.  Oh..and I’ll let them make all of my decisions for me...good or bad....hey...that’s the American way.....

      Pretty soon they’ll tell us how much toilet paper we can use per month.....it just goes on and on....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Tamra, I must have misunderstood...I thought you were speaking specifically to health care reform.

      I certainly didn’t intend patronizing...just being clear that you, or anyone else, do not speak for me.  You really can only speak for yourself.  

      When you state that “This is a tradegy for me, and all of us, really” you are make quite an assumption.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Here ya go Annie! If I can get anything out of my hubz I will add it here.

      AT&T sees $1 billion healthcare related charge
      NEW YORK
      Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:56pm EDT
      Related News

          * UPDATE 2-AT&T sees Q1 $1 bln healthcare related charge

            3:55pm EDT

          * FACTBOX-US health overhaul to hit corporate profits

            12:07pm EDT

      Stocks

      AT&T Inc.
      T.N
      $26.24
      +0.09+0.34%
      2:01pm CDT

      Verizon Communications Inc.
      VZ.N
      $30.37
      +0.06+0.20%
      2:01pm CDT

      Deere & Company
      DE.N
      $60.56
      +0.36+0.60%
      2:00pm CDT

      NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc (T.N) said on Friday it would record a $1 billion non-cash charge for the current quarter related to the new healthcare reform law signed by President Barack Obama this week.

      Asian Markets

      AT&T’s charge appeared to be the largest in a series of charges announced by U.S. companies this week.

      The operator, whose annual revenue is expected to be $124.1 billion this year, said the charge is the result of a provision in the law related to the tax treatment of Medicare subsidies.

      As a result of the legislation, the company, which ended 2009 with 282,000 employees, said it will be evaluating prospective changes to the health care benefits it offers to employees at retirees.

      Under the health care overhaul which have large ranks of retirees, can no longer deduct from their taxes the subsidies paid by the federal government for retiree drug benefits.

      AT&T, the biggest U.S. telephone company, declined to comment beyond its statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when asked whether the new law would create any more changes beyond the first quarter.

      According to reports, Verizon Communications (VZ.N), the second biggest U.S. phone company, told employees that tax burdens under the new law would likely filter down to employees. Verizon declined to comment.

      Other companies that announced health care reform related charges include Deere (DE.N), a maker of farm equipment, which sees a $150 million charge for its current quarter and Caterpillar (CAT.N) warned of a $100 million charge.

      AT&T shares rose 10 cents to $26.25 on the New York Stock Exchange shortly before the close.

      (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Richard Chang)



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Thanks for sharing Vikki.  My parents are just a few of the AT&T retirees mentioned in the article.

      The fallout begins....

      My stomach is starting to hurt.



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • “Under the health care overhaul ..., can no longer deduct from their taxes the subsidies paid by the federal government for retiree drug benefits.”

      Do I understand this correctly....these companies have been deducting from the taxes they pay, for the subsidies that the federal gov’t gave THEM for their employees?

      Isn’t that kind of double dipping?  And considering the taxes they don’t pay, we get to pay instead....isn’t this actually good for the majority of tax payers?

      OR ...am I misunderstanding this?

      Please explain for me!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Here we go.......buckle your seat belts and all that wanted this healthcare....ENJOY YOUR RIDE.  

      Yes....it’s all a tragedy.
      Tamra....I feel so sorry for your parents and all retirees.  This is just the beginning....

      Shame on all that voted for this piece of crap....



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Ulrike Freund wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • But nothing from what you fear did happen in the European and other countries all over the world with a health care system like this since a lot of years. And do you think all countries in Europe are not democratic, full of non-working people and in fear? It’s a very good thing, not a tragedy here.
      Piece of crap???



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • But we are not Europe.....



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Trudy S wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • or Canada, or Australia, or New Zealand, or Singapore...



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Ditto Annie.....



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Kimfabulous wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • The analogy to car insurance is indeed accurate as those that cannot get approved by private insurance companies can purchase car insurance from the government.  Don’t believe all the hype.  Filter through commentary on pros and cons as we all know the reality is somewhere in the middle.  If you are really ambitious 2000 plus pages can be a good read...I have begun and admittingly do not like all of it. Overall I am comfortable that the intent is to address the: current system abuses, the uninsured that add to our premiums and tax burden with unanticipated health care needs that they cannot afford, sustaining of the middle and support of the lower socioeconomic classes.  Sounds like a good start to me.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Clark wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • I“m just not willing to make a good start for something that is going to change everything about this country....and not for the good.  The consequences are just to great...but that is my opinion which is shared by the MAJORITY.  I’m really not sure what part of that some people do not get.  

      Again I’m not against healthcare...I’m just not for the one that is going to ultimately destroy this country.  And again...as I ask daily...why do we pass a bill that has crap in it that has NOTHING TO DO WITH HEALTHCARE....NOTHING. Its all just a complete wreck....and yes...I’m very angry and I also have THAT RIGHT TO BE.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • If car insurance = health insurance,

      THEN GET THE FEDERAL GOV‘T OUT OF THE MIDDLE OF MY HEALTH INSURANCE!  It should be governed by states, just like car insurance.

      I trust the way things are done in my state, Texas, much more than I do the ways of DC.  We are not suffering the same ills that other, more liberal states are facing.  Let my state gov’t manage the health care for the people here.  WASHINGTON, GET OUT OF OUR BUSINESS!



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 26, 2010
    • Hi Everyone. Thanks, Annie, I finally got some sleep. And, thank you, too, for your most kind and open-minded first response to me following my last post.

      Frankly, upon returning, I’ve lost the flow as the discussion has taken too many side trails. Sadly, this is what so often happens in an unmoderated debate. But thank you to all of us here at Fab 40! We’ve proven people of different backgrounds, lifestyles, and mindsets CAN speak civilily. Unlike our Congress, we can disagree, even emotionally, without name calling and that IS a triumph!  

      Annie, because I do try to answer your questions if I can, please don’t fear ‘shared information‘. It is only for doctor to doctor communication if several doctors are involved in your past health history. It is intended to save time, lives and record-keeping costs. The digital signals carried over phone lines will be encrypted. They will be just as safe as if they were stored in a doctor’s file drawer if you are okay with that. Personally, I’d rather have mine encrypted.

      AT & T and Verizon are affected because of the signal lines to carry the digital codes. And thanks to Vicki for providing the info that At&T is up in arms because their annual profits may go down a billion dollars. My heart simply bleeds for any Corporation that may have to adjust to the per capita profit margins that the rest of us have to live with.  

      To Tamra - I want to say that this, I do believe if memory serves me, is the first time we’ve ever been in an area of disagreement. I sure see and understand the cause for your concern. At this point in time, and I, nor anyone else can accurately predict market futures, (The bank crash proved that) there will be no cuts to your parent’s social security medicare benefits. The cuts to medicare are to be found in no longer covering FRAUDULENT claims. Yes, there may be some increases in the secondary supplement policies, BUT those will come from private sector insurance companies NOT the government. And, they were coming anyway! Now with the new caps which take effect immediately, your parent’s will NOT be in the donut hole between prescription levels. They will be better off in the long run! How do I know? Because I am in your parent’s shoes and have already received the rate hike from my secondary carrier BEFORE the bill passed. But HOW do I afford to have a secondary carrier?? I still have to work! Even though I am officially retired and 67 years of age. I still pay in to the system even while I collect widow’s benefits that my husband didn’t live to receive. With this reform, I WILL be better off because if nothing else, I won’t have the donut hole where I have to pay full price for my stroke-related meds which could have been only God knows how much. It sure would have been more than the rate hike I have to pay. I’m only explaining this to you because of your specified situation. Not to assume I know more than you in general!

      I have to go get the flow again . . .

      One thing I did want to say to Mary that I read as I skimmed. Mary you won’t do what you say you‘re gonna do because you don’t have it in your nature. You‘re much to patriotic for that. See, people who deliberately do that are not patriotic, and they are not hard pressed. They are lazy and don’t want to help themselves and they are criminals. THEY are the reason we are in this mess to begin with. However, THAT is the small minority. Most people looking for Universal health care are the working poor. The unemployed, the sick or the elderly. Like I’ve said three times already, they ALREADY get their freebies and you are already paying for it in rising healthcare costs. This health reform bill isn’t going to change anything in that regard! What we need are regulations!!! Regulations that can be enforced. Fradulent claims should be prosecuted as crimes for stealing are. But that costs money too, and it was easier for the care facilities to just take care of them to avoid a lawsuit and pass the costs to the rest of us. The only entities that have had no fear and nobody to answer to for less than scrupulous practices are the banks and the insurance companies. We don’t need LESS government involvement in these matters, we need more regulations, regulations that used to be in place back before Reagan. This, my friend, is the result of ‘trickle down’ economics. It never quite trickles down to the working people. And, THAT is a fact. You see the results all around you. Clinton tried to restore the regulations and they were immediately lifted again when the Bush administration took over. If anyone can prove me wrong on that, I’ll be happy to learn where I lived wrong. In my work, unless I state that something is my opinion, I have to provide legitimate sources. Not cable media as we ALL tend to do.

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Mar 27, 2010
    • Annie, you may be right about that car insurance thing. I do think those laws vary state to state. Here in Florida, it is a mandatory law IF you want to get license plates or a drivers license. All others are driving illegally and subject to prosecution & God help you if you get stopped by the police or are involved in an accident even it is NOT your fault. No, the IRS is not involved but the Florida prisons sure are. It is a criminal offense. One fine and you’ll wish you had insurance. :)) Two stops and jail. It’s treated like DUI here. You have to have proof of insurance to even get plates or a driver’s license renewed.  

      Hey, I don’t blame you for being skeptical! I’m skeptical of everything! What I admire about you is that you are always willing to have an open mind and research stuff. That’s all I have ever asked for people to do in my columns. I don’t harbor some pipe dream that everyone is going to think alike. That would be down right boring and progress of any kind would stop. You are quite special. It’s easy to sing to a choir, it’s a delight to have honest, open-minded discussion. That’s how we ALL learn as you well know. I try to learn something new or re-analyze something accepted every single day.

      Have a nice Easter however you celebrate it.
      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Shopgirl1960 wrote Mar 28, 2010
    • Mary said,“For me personally....my freedoms are one of the most important things in my life.  I'm not willing to give them up and I will fight with every bit of my being to keep those freedoms.”  And I agree! We all need to go back and read our history!!!!



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    • +1 votes vote up vote up

      Kimfabulous wrote Mar 28, 2010
    • Vikki Posted This In the Event it was Missed by some of you offers a nice unbiased summary in a manner that can be easily understood!  Don’t simmer in unnecessary anger...keep looking for information from as many sources as you have time for.  

      10 Ways the New Healthcare Bill May Affect You
      by Katie Adams
      Friday, March 26, 2010  

      The Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, more commonly referred to as the "healthcare bill", has taken over a year to craft and has been a lightning rod for political debate because it effectively reshapes major facets of the country's healthcare industry.
      Here are 10 things you need to know about how the new law may affect you:
      1. Your Kids are Covered
      Starting this year, if you have an adult child who cannot get health insurance from his or her employer and is to some degree dependent on you financially, your child can stay on your insurance policy until he or she is 26 years old. Currently, many insurance companies do not allow adult children to remain on their parents' plan once they reach 19 or leave school.
      2. You Can't be Dropped
      Starting this fall, your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to "drop" you (cancel your policy) if you get sick. In 2009, "rescission" was revealed to be a relatively common cost-cutting practice by several insurance companies. The practice proved to be common enough to spur several lawsuits; for example, in 2008 and 2009, California's largest insurers were made to pay out more than $19 million in fines for dropping policyholders who fell ill.
      3. You Can't be Denied Insurance
      Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. Health insurance companies will also be barred from denying adults applying for coverage if they have a pre-existing condition, but not until 2014.
      4. You Can Spend What You Need to
      Prior to the new law, health insurance companies set a maximum limit on the monetary amount of benefits that a policyholder could receive. This meant that those who developed expensive or long-lasting medical conditions could run out of coverage. Starting this year, companies will be barred from instituting caps on coverage.
      5. You Don't Have to Wait
      If you currently have pre-existing conditions that have prevented you from being able to qualify for health insurance for at least six months you will have coverage options before 2014. Starting this fall, you will be able to purchase insurance through a state-run "high-risk pool", which will cap your personal out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. You will not be required to pay more than $5,950 of your own money for medical expenses; families will not have to pay any more than $11,900.
      6. You Must be Insured
      Under the new law starting in 2014, you will have to purchase health insurance or risk being fined. If your employer does not offer health insurance as a benefit or if you do not earn enough money to purchase a plan, you may get assistance from the government. The fines for not purchasing insurance will be levied according to a sliding scale based on income. Starting in 2014, the lowest fine would be $95 or of a person's income (whichever is greater) and then increase to a high of $695 or 2.5 of an individual's taxable income by 2016. There will be a maximum cap on fines.
      7. You'll Have More Options
      Starting in 2014 (when you will be required by law to have health insurance), states will operate new insurance marketplaces - called "exchanges" - that will provide you with more options for buying an individual policy if you can't get, or afford, insurance from your workplace and you earn too much income to qualify for Medicaid. In addition, millions of low- and middle-income families (earning up to $88,200 annually) will be able to qualify for financial assistance from the federal government to purchase insurance through their state exchange.
      8. Flexible Spending Accounts Will Become Less Flexible
      Three years from now, flexible spending accounts (FSAs) will have lower contribution limits - meaning you won't be able to have as much money deducted from your paycheck pre-tax and deposited into an FSA for medical expenses as is currently allowed. The new maximum amount allowed will be $2,500. In addition, fewer expenses will qualify for FSA spending. For example, you will no longer be able to use your FSA to help defray the cost of over-the-counter drugs.
      9. If You Earn More, You'll Pay More
      Starting in 2018, if your combined family income exceeds $250,000 you are going to be taking less money home each pay period. That's because you will have more money deducted from your paycheck to go toward increased Medicare payroll taxes. In addition to higher payroll taxes you will also have to pay 3.8% tax on any unearned income, which is currently tax-exempt.
      10. Medicare May Cover More or Less of Your Expenses
      Starting this year, if Medicare is your primary form of health insurance you will no longer have to pay for preventive care such as an annual physical, screenings for treatable conditions or routine laboratory work. In addition, you will get a $250 check from the federal government to help pay for prescription drugs currently not covered as a result of the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole".
      However, if you are a high-income individual or couple (making more than $85,000 individually or $170,000 jointly), your prescription drug subsidy will be reduced. In addition, if you are one of the more than 10 million people currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan you may be facing higher premiums because your insurance company's subsidy from the federal government is going to be dramatically reduced.



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