Saturday, August 8, 2009

Caveat Lectores on Health Care Reform

I am a forthright supporter of health care reform that may provide a public option to provide health care for those who cannot get it elsewhere. Why? You may ask.
Make no mistake, it is self interest on my part. I have no health care insurance. I am trying to stay alive long enough to get socialized medicine of some sort, either in the form of Medicare or something else. I lost my high deductible private health care insurance a few years ago when the premium went up to $2680.00 per month and could get other insurance in the private market because of age and/or pre-exisiting condition or just the fact that I do not have an employer to subsidize the cost.
What is being spread in the various media and covertly in personal emails is largely false. The hysteria being spread about is shameful. I fully understand why those with adequate employer provided insurance would not want to lose it, but there is nothing in the proposed legislation that would dismantle the current system. I do not understand why anyone would go to the lengths of distortion I see around me to make sure the same opportunity is denied to me. Reasonable people can disagree, but the discord and distortion which surrounds this issue is not reasonable.
Former Alaska governor and most recently a quitter “when the chips are not falling my way” Sarah Palin offered the following comments on her Facebook page.
"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care."
I actually read those words when I looked at her Facebook statement. While I will not call the former governor a bald faced liar, I will say that once again she has her facts wrong as do so many others.
Go to for a clear and concise report on this bit of false propaganda designed to panic the unwitting public who will fall for nearly any distortions that seem to come from the mouth of someone who should know better or fits into their idea of what is right. Don’t you just hate it when facts get in the way of ignorance foisted upon the uninformed.
What she refers to is a section of the proposed law that will require Medicare to pay for the following:
H.R. 3200, page 425:
(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.
(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.
(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.
(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning .
(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.
(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders … .
If when the time comes for me to depart this world, somebody hinders my efforts, they better hope I die soon because I will be pissed. If anyone makes the decision to screw around with my natural death or health care, I want it to be family and friends first, government second and a private for profit insurance company last.
First of all, seniors already have socialized medicine. Medicare has been around for 43 years and is successful. It is government provided access to the healthcare system that all will qualify for and use if we live long enough. We will not have a real choice, not because the government requires it, but because primary private health insurance is not available for seniors over 65 in most cases. It is costly, but everything has a cost.
Second, we have health care rationing now. Just try to get coverage for something your insurer thinks will cost too much. Rationed health care is a 100% fact of life for me today. I am totally denied access to the system because I cannot afford to participate.
I am not comfortable with much that is going on with the Democrats in charge, but I was in severe agony for the eight years before that.
And Oh Yes. Have a nice day


Jeff Carnes and Caveat Lectores were Silent in July

Caveat Lectores was silent in July. Not because the Lector was on vacation but because I was busy trying to practice labor law and too troubled for adequate words to describe what I see happening to the public sector employee and the public in general.

Make no mistake, my law practice and Lectores Labor Consulting feed off the ill fortune that can grasp public employees around the throat and strangle the life out of them. When I changed from being a firefighter to lawyer, my job did not really change. If a person’s life and property is threatened by peril and destruction, he/she calls the fire department. The fire department comes out and finishes destroying what the fire started by soaking everything down with water. Indeed, the fire could become a conflagration without intervention but nothing positive is added to the process by having the firefighters show up. I only stopped the damage by creating a different kind of damage.

When an employee’s livelihood is threatened, the call goes out to the union, if there is one, or directly to me or another attorney. As with the fire, it is usually too late to completely save the employee from the threat to their livelihood. It is all about mitigation of the damage, if at all. I do not have the magic needed to make the nightmare just go away. There is always some residual damage.

Paying my bills still depends on bad things happening to others. It wears on me sometimes.

Today is the worst of times in my 35 years experience with government work and there is no reason to believe that tomorrow will be better. We can blame the perfect storm we are experiencing on many sources. The economy, tax revolt, George Bush, Barack Obama, poorly skilled public managers, corrupt politicians on all levels, greedy employees. The list goes on and on. While I tend to want to blame politicians with the suffix R trailing their name for most of the problems that afflict me and those I serve, that is way too simple. The Rs are not the only culprits here. All of us got us into this mess.

  • Tax payers are dedicated to getting something for little or nothing. This is not new but something has fed the fire to the point of absurdity.
  • The wealthy are dedicated to making sure they share as little of their wealth with the less fortunate as humanly possible.
  • Those who are on the receiving end of government social service expect more that they can have in today’s world.
  • Politicians do not have the spinal characteristics necessary for telling the truth to the public. I will say it for them. Service whether publicly or privately provided costs money.
  • Public employees did not cause the problems, but they are not doing what is necessary to dig themselves out of the hole they fell in.

Public employees without a union are pretty much powerless and must wait for the axe to drop or get another job.

Unionized employees had better wake up; remove their heads from the sand or must wait for the axe to drop or get another career. At least unionized employees have the additional option. With the help of their union leadership, they can get politically involved and make their voices heard and their votes counted. I am not saying anything new. I am just saying it again. The problem is that it is too late for everyone to be saved. Some will fall from the life raft and drown at least in the figurative sense.

  • Lay offs are here
  • Furloughs are here
  • Pay freezes are here
  • Pay cuts are here or coming
  • Pensions are in peril
  • Benefits will be cut
  • Upward mobility will only be a phrase not a goal.

The only life preserver that will be available is the limited protection of the union and that will not save everyone’s career from peril and destruction.

For those of you who are having a hard time actually grasping this, look at what has already happened in the private sector. Unions have largely been neutered in many industries, pay is stagnant, jobs have disappeared, pensions? …what pensions, employer supplied healthcare diminishes every day you live.

We live in a “global economy” that depends on third world wages to exist. Welcome to reality.

My suggestion is not to spend too much time trying to figure out whom to blame but to figure out how to climb out of the hole. As a labor lawyer, I seldom offer any kind of guarantee, but in this instance I will do so. I will absolutely guarantee you that no lawyer can fix this. We limit the damage. Much like the firefighter I once was, I will do the best I can to stop the damage. Most any firefighter will admit having thought this phrase. “Hey, I did not start the goddam fire; you called me to put it out.”

Lack of effective political involvement on the part of many public sector unions did not cause today’s problems but it does exacerbate a problem caused by someone else. If you do not participate in controlling your world, some one will do it for you. And Oh Yes, Have a nice day.