Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cover Tennessee Featured in Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2007

The Cover Tennessee initiative was featured in the April 18 Wall Street Journal (front page)
Quoted from the article:

[People] in the program only get coverage up to $25,000 for health expenses annually, and only $15,000 of that can go to hospital bills. If she becomes seriously ill or has a major accident, [they will] be just as vulnerable as [they were] before. [They will] have to either pay the bills herself or ask the hospital for charity care.

The limits put Tennessee in sharp contrast with Massachusetts and California, two other states that are part of the U.S. trend toward reconsidering universal coverage. Plans in the two states envision people paying more of their own medical bills at first, in exchange for protection against catastrophic costs.

In an interview, Gov. Bredesen says he listened to focus groups and queried blue-collar folks, such as a waitress at a waffle restaurant, to devise his plan. "They weren't interested in buying insurance for catastrophic events. They wanted access to the emergency room next month, access to the pharmacy next month," he says. "Let's give people what they want instead of what some advocate says they want."

The governor says the working poor can't afford $2,000 deductibles, and he questions whether Massachusetts and California can pay for their more-ambitious plan

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Representative Coopers WSJ Article - Friday 13th

On Friday, April 13, 2007, Representative Jim Cooper wrote a thoughtful piece on governing. Entitled "The Incumbant Party," Representative Cooper identified some "principles" that seem to characterize gridlock.

He describes Congress as a "political caucus is designed to prevent any bad news from reaching voters" by adhering to the following principles:
  • Pretend to budget for the next five years while offering instead a one-year political fix.
  • Nod gravely when America's long-term fiscal problems are mentioned, but argue that today's budgets have almost nothing to do with the unsustainability of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
  • When pressed, bemoan the fact that every American's share of the national debt is $29,000 and growing. Forget that a more accurate, audited figure is $170,000 each, or $440,000 per household.
  • Pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare "trust funds" without hinting that those trust funds do not exist.
  • Promise Social Security and Medicare benefits that the Social Security actuary says are not even promises, much less vested benefits.
  • Ignore the fact that the federal budget deficit would be at least twice as large if you were not using the Social Security "surplus" to hide its true size.
  • Shamelessly exempt the federal government from normal Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), making it the only large entity in America -- private or public -- able to flout the rules.
  • Subsidize employer-sponsored health insurance by offering the biggest federal income tax breaks to the people who need it least: high-wage employees of large companies.
  • Keep median cash incomes stagnant for decades while fringe benefits, particularly for health insurance, consume most employee productivity and profitability increases.
  • Never even whisper that Standard & Poor's has projected that by 2012, when the budgets of both wings of the Incumbent Party claim to be producing surpluses, the U.S. Treasury bond will lose its AAA rating. Even worse, S&P is also projecting that Treasuries will become junk debt by 2025.
Representative Cooper points out that we follow these principles at our peril and at the peril of our children.