Your Questions About The Entitlement Trap

Ken asks…

Are liberals aware how bad socialized health care is around the world?

Democrats say that we shouldn’t worry about the cost of their bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. They say that we will spend less on S-CHIP all year than we spend on Iraq in one month. That’s true, in the short run. But the Iraq War will one day end. A new entitlement won’t. Instead, it will grow and grow.

Future fiscal crises are built into the design of S-CHIP. It is funded through cigarette taxes, and will be underfunded to the extent that those taxes succeed in discouraging smoking. But that’s the least of the program’s flaws. Under the Democrats’ bill, states will be able to expand benefits and stick the federal government with two-thirds of the tab. The Medicaid program shows us how these incentives will work. Benefits will expand. When times are good, governors and state legislators will be able to offer voters $3 in services for every $1 in state taxes. When times are bad, the politicians will suddenly discover that they have to cut services by $3 for every $1 in savings.

Rich blue states will spend the most, and thus get the most federal dollars. Half of all Medicaid spending goes to nine states. Republican congressmen who voted for the S-CHIP bill are voting to transfer money from red states to blue ones.

They’re also voting for high marginal tax rates on the poor. S-CHIP, in combination with other federal programs, creates a poverty trap: Many people will find that, if they get ahead, their benefits will fall and they’ll be left behind where they started.

Expanding S-CHIP will get coverage to some children who would not otherwise have had it. Although there is little evidence that this is a cost-effective way to improve children’s health, presumably some of these kids will be able to have better preventive care. Other kids, however, will lose their private insurance and end up with worse coverage.

Insurance is unaffordable in some of the states that most want to see S-CHIP expanded. But that’s the result of those states’ own regulations. New Jersey’s insurance prices are higher than Pennsylvania’s not because of act of God, but because of acts of the New Jersey legislature.

Congressional Republicans—and especially the Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee—should have tried to reduce the regulatory obstacles to buying affordable health insurance. They should have pushed to let consumers buy insurance from out of state, thus bypassing the types of regulations that New Jersey has enacted. Or they could have forced Democrats to end the tax penalty on individually purchased insurance if they wanted any S-CHIP expansion at all.

The leading Republican on the committee, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, instead capitulated. He said that, while he supports free-market reforms, it is unrealistic to expect this Congress to approve them. It is a pathetic excuse: He should have told his Democratic colleagues that it is unrealistic to expect a Republican president to sign such a liberal bill.

President Bush should veto this bill proudly.

richmama answers:

They don’t care, it makes them feel good. There is NO doubt that if medicine is socialized in the US quality will suffer……

Joseph asks…

Indians: how useful you found some agencies laying trap and exposing evils of men in public life..?

Recently we read the exposure by Tehelca about the criminal plans of Muthalik. Fine, the expose needs to be followed up and appropriate legal action taken. And years ago the same agency also exposed a corrupt deal involving Mr Bangaru lakshaman, then President of BJP (who was later relieved of the post. But the key persons charged of multi crore scams are very much stuck to their posts now a days!). They are great eye openers because though we as citizens know that all is not well with men in public life like politicians, activists of sorts etc, we don’t find them exposed with strong evidences. So in this angle, it is a great thing to have them exposed by laying traps or whatever expert investigation.

But what surprises people is the target of exposure of evils against some specific sections of society / political party etc and not that of diverse groups. This leads to general suggestion that all others are least susceptible to evil deals!

For instance, we heard of the dirty sugar scam, at a time when the country was in acute short supply and govt permitted exports of sugar by the traders at great undue advantage to them at the cost of consumers!! There was no effort to trap their conversations and expose highly probable deals with power centres!!

And the 2G spectrum scam involving historic drain of revenue that should have gone into the coffers! The telecom Regulatory Authority disclaimed any approval of the wrong procedure adopted by the Ministry, media reported that final date for receipt of the bids was changed to help a particular firm, that some bidders who secured orders were not in the play of the industry at all and sold their entitlements to others at great profit.. etc etc! The honest PM is keeping stone silence. Tamilnadu CM calls it a vindictive campaign on the dalit Minister from his party who heads the Ministry again.. Did not Tehelca find any conversation / deals / documents that further confirmed the historic scam..? Or presumably, they were not interested in exposing these ‘secular’ parties ?

The media were stuck up with Sania mirza wedding and IPL scam when the parliament was witnessing the pathological scene of the two great Yadavs deserting the house to vote for a motion to which they were also party and coming out to shout for the same cause!!!! What a dirty hypocrisy.. Whom did they fool by this?

True they may not have unseated the govt by their votes – even if the motion won by any freak chance of Congress MPs running short in the house at voting, there was no constitutional compulsion for the govt to resign (it was only a convention set by conscientious people in days goneby..). So the Press ought to have lambasted these false leaders pretending to fight a common cause but serving their own interests known to the whole world!!

But why the media did not take this gross desertion of duty by elite MPs more serioiusly than the scam of a private institution or the private wedding of a celebrity? Was half the coverage given on less consequential subjects, given to the major national tragedy of MPs deserting their own motion of importance to common people?

Thus neither the Press not the investigating agencies are interested in fair play, reasons whereof are highly probable vested interests, that an honest agency if any should explore!!

In the circumstances, how much importance you would give to all the stuff these people bale out to you, ever so often ?

Please share your views. I know the ruling party fans who see the advantages of these subjective revelations to their party, would find all weird reasons to support the one sided exposures. It is ok, let them do it.

Others who care for some probity in public life may respond with your probable thoughts on how to curb this pathology spreading in the country..!
Veers, thanks. But The Hindu has come a long way after its Bofors exposure. We dont know what problems it faced with GOI after the elaborate exposures. The way Hindu team reviews news in recent years, far from objectivity, have shattered the hopes of many readers. Yes I agree with you about Bofors already sent to mortuary. But it may not be the same with cases involving opposition….!!!

Hi Singvi sir, nice you came here. Yes the chances of a return to objectivity seems bleak in the media. BUt we can not take things lying down. We have to make noise every time an unfair activity is set afoot. One day things are bound to change. For our elders have affirmed that Dharma would never be vanquished by evils. Thanks.
Aryan, excellent perception. I much appreciate your righteous self introspection. But it is not given to common people to fight with powerful rulers. You don’t know how many political murders happened.. A congress leader’s house itself was vandalised for a comment on the pro LTTE elements.. Where is the safety for common ones?

It is primiarily the duty of media and autonomous watch dog institutions to see that the people’s interests rule. But media and autonomous institutions are submitting to rulers for petty favours. (like the immuno deficiency syndrome!)

richmama answers:

I am a great supporter of sting operations. These things help in exposing these corrupt and anti-national people. But I also feel that media is targeting only one section of the society. All of us know how corrupt the ministers are but there is no sting operation of these people done. People like Mayawati whom I consider as the most corrupt politician of Independent India, every year celebrates her birthday in such a manner that even Queen of England would get inferiority complex, but no one ever tried to expose her.

Those who are in power are never exposed because the media knows that it may backfire.

Plz correct me if I’m wrong. The salary of an MP is Rs. 16000. But these people own multiple houses, have a fleet of imported cars, their children study overseas, many of them own colleges, hospitals etc. Where does that money come from ?? It our, the tax payers money. But these people are never exposed.

The 2G spectrum scam was first exposed in 2008 by The Times of India when top officials of Vodafone and Bharti Airtel had alleged malpractices by Union Ministry of Telecomm and they alleged direct involvement of A.Raja. But at that time it was burried. After that it was never up in media again. Don’t know why.

Sir, I also feel that people like us are also responsible. We are not doing our duty. Like in the case of Sugar Scam, we could have gone to court and forced the govt to take some action but we, at least I, never did that. So why to blame media only, we are also responsible for this situation.

Mark asks…

Writing assignment for journal class. What do you think about style and content?

Rejection Expert

I feel that twenty years of rejections under my belt qualifies me as an expert on failed relationships. I do not have a PhD in psychology, but I am sure I have more expertise in this department than any psychiatrist.

I will attest to the fact that attractiveness has little to do with attraction. Attitude is more important. An air of entitlement goes a long way where as a cute female, who is sweet, is a walking advertisement for everyman who has ever been rejected to abuse her.

Standing on a busy street corner in NYC one evening, there had to be more than twenty other females standing around me at the light, and yet an older heavy set man in an expensive gray suit and pink silk shirt saturated with his own drunken vomit zeroed picked me right out in the crowd!

“You think you are too good for me don’t you?” His blood shot eyes and pin point pupils angrily peered into my big blue eyes and I froze with fear.

“Run” I heard my best friend Kate instructing me to save myself. Her voice felt like I was given permission to ignore him, while natural instincts wanted me to stay and defend myself. I actually considered, momentarily, staying there to tell a drunken hostile man twice my size that I am a nice person.

His hand grabbed my red satin skirt as I lounged into the crowd to cross the street. Kate quickly slapped his hand and he let go of me as a stranger pulled me out of his reach. The light turned red again with him trapped on the other side accusing me of being a snooty bitch.

I felt bad for him on some level, but I was not the one to comfort him. I was young and felt misunderstood. What I did take away from this experience combined with a few similar ones is that when my chemistry clashes with any man’s, there is nothing I can do to fix the situation and walking away is the only solution.

Professionally I experienced similar behaviors. One physical obviously hated me before we even shared a patient. He was insulting and argumentative, but the icing on the cake was the day he walked over to where I was sitting and writing my notes. The unit was unusually quiet. The lights were low and it was stormy outside making the light from the windows eerily gray. He sat beside me and I felt like a mouse trapped by a cat.

“I want to have an intelligent conversation with you” he began.

I was shaking, but I still looked over at the sleazy little imp he was. I said nothing.

“Is there anything at all inside that pretty little head of yours?” he then asked me. “Do you know anything about anything? I really want to hear you say something intelligent!” he continued to provoke me.

I was shaking and I felt embarrassed as I looked up to see another physican standing there in front of me. That physician said, “I can’t believe you just said that to her”.

His minimal encouragement gave me the gumph I needed to say, “Yes, I do. I know you are an a…hole!”

He became humiliated and angered, standing up he ran out the automatic unit doors which caught his stethoscope and pulled the end off… doink, doink, doink was heard, then he came back in to snatch it off the floor.

Technically both these situations qualify as rejections because both were motivated by my being the opposite sex. Some opinions may differ. The first was a man explaining that I was not his type because he felt I was a snooty bitch, which contributed to him acting irrational and the second was his desire to humiliate me for some unknown reason.

My first real relationship ended because we lived too far apart and neither of us was in a position to move. This was followed by a ten month relationship with a gentleman who was only twenty years my senior, but I looked young for my age which made him look like my grandfather with his arms around me. I was mature enough to not care what others think until I found out about his pregnant wife who lived in another city where she worked.

I swore I would be more cautious and never date a married man again. This is actually much easier said than done. If one were to take a poll in a mixed crowd, 90% of men asked if they ever cheated on their mate will answer “no way”. This means that unfortunately I meet other 10 % who simply can’t remember their commitment to the woman who lives with them.

Being a typical female, I have fallen for my share of Don Juan’s. Who could resist an attorney that follows you to the bathroom and waits outside the door so that you don’t get away? I accepted his invitation to walk outside and even enjoyed kissing this handsome stranger with strong masculine hands. It came his turn to use the men’s room, but instead of walking back into the bar, he peed on my front tire right in front of me! My dreams of becoming his wife drizzled in a yellow stream down the tar parking lot. He insisted I was his dream girl. I got in my car and drove away.

I professed my love to men who were mean to me, and I ran from those who were obsessed. I cried when dumped by men who told me I was ugly, even though I never considered accepting a second date- and those who had the nerve to call me back, I toyed with telling each “you deserve someone who is already perfect! I refuse to let you settle with me.”

I believe both men and women equally have it tough when attraction comes into play. I certainly am not an expert on dating, but if you ever need advice about rejection, I am an expert!
Persiphone_Hellecat- Thanks, I should have proof read it before posting it, but also I made a few changes in addition to your comments.

richmama answers:

Your style is open and friendly — a nice editorial “Andy Rooney” style dialogue with your readers. Your content is not bad either. You do show some very good examples to prove your point. I see one or two tiny errors in spelling and syntax. Everyman should be two words in PP2. PP3 is one long sentence. You need to break things up a bit. Otherwise, it needs a quick editing and it’s ready to turn in. Pax – C

Michael asks…

did the GOP over play its hand?

it seems that by going after big entitlements and doing the bidding of the tea party quacks cry baby Boehner is playing into BHO;s hands.

now the tax and spend dems can go on with their ” war on the poor bs ”

i think Obama set the trap and the GOP took the bait.

what’s your take?

richmama answers:

“going after big entitlements” is going to hurt a politician in this economy? What world are you living on?

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Your Questions About The Entitlement Trap

Mark asks…

Obama doesn’t want to deal with real economic issues?

When it comes to curbing the debt, Obama looked to cut a fraction of discretionary spending (yet not defense which is part of discretionary), yet ignored the fact that our mandatory spending which is 2/3s of our budget, an item that used to be a quarter of our spending in the 70’s, which has grown, and is expected to become more costly if left idle. SS, medicare, and medicaid being thy main items for our expenditures, whether they need to be eliminated or simply reformed, not looking at these items means not looking at the debt problem.
(mandatory spending)
(US debt now equals, entire US economy)

“Mr. Obama‘s budget projects that 2011 will see the biggest one-year debt jump in history, or nearly $2 trillion, to reach $15.476 trillion by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.”

“In one often-cited study, economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff have argued that when a nation’s gross debt passes 90 percent it hinders overall economic growth.”

No surprise though these items are considered political suicide, and the article describes it perfectly with setting the entitlements trap. Anyways, what are your thoughts on the articles after you read them, on the topic at hand? What should be done about these items?

richmama answers:

Obama stated that he wants to cut incrementally and in the budget, he eliminated some programs that didn’t work and combined them with programs that did work. However, I am still in the camp that a combination of spending cuts and tax increases have to be made to generate enough revenue to pay off debt. So, I am okay with the level of cuts Obama proposes but I don’t like where he is cutting. At any rate, the debt is choking our ability to grow the economy at a rate that it needs to grow. However, investments in education and infrastructure still have to be made as we are falling dreadfully behind the rest of the world. Since Obama’s budget included tax increases as well as cuts, the plan is on the right track. Let’s hope Republicans are serious about this issue as well.

Daniel asks…

What’s the chance we will have a FEMALE president in 2012?

Sarah Palin is still around & aggressive Michele Bachmann is a fav with the tea parties & more Libertarian of mind. I mean the only viable male RNC candidate the RNC has to offer would be Ron Paul & they trashed Ron for good. There’s the ole standby fill in politicians like Romney & McSame but there as marxist or more than Obama is. Obama still has a following but completely failed to drastically reduce the size of federal government & the related union influence.
With the American public increasingly weary of the government entitlement programs trap & sick & tired of the lack of government transparency with the fed reserve, will Bachmann &/or Palin be seen as the answer to curb the run away federal government by the constituency?

richmama answers:

There are currently no females in a good position to run successfully. If you study economics and understand the current state of our country, then the candidate that makes the most sense is Dr. Ron Paul by far. The bottom-line is that the candidate that raises the most money will usually win. Dr. Ron Paul has actually raised more money than any Republican in history. But only time will tell… You never know what will happen until it happens when it comes to politics.

Mary asks…

Are Entitlements the banana in the monkey trap?

For those of you who’s never heard of a monkey trap

The monkey could run to safety at any time by releasing the banana. However, because of his refusal to let go of the bait, he looses his freedom AND the bait.
… who’ve …

richmama answers:

Or the fact that 47% pay no federal income tax!!!

Sandra asks…

Is it bad that I switched parties from Democrat to Republican?

I used to be a Democrat and elected to the AS House of Representatives for the Black Student’s 2nd district here at my school. My husband, who was the Republican AS Senator for the Gay-Straight Alliance club at the time, convinced me that the GOP is the only party that will help young, black Americans get out of the cycle of entitlement dependency that the left has us trapped in.

richmama answers:

It is a sign of maturity and a good move.

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How to Lower Your Medical Bills

Tips to Negotiate Lower Medical Bills


Do you want lower medical bills?  With health care costs spiraling out of control, it’s natural to want to lower your medical spending.  According to Consumer Reports, only 31% of Americans try to negotiate the price of medical bills, but those who do usually succeed in saving big money. These are some methods that will help you lower medical bills:


Understanding Your Medical Bills – Discounts and Charges

  1. Become familiar with routine discounts. Doctors and hospitals typically give discounts of as much as 60% to Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance companies. As an individual, you may have less leverage than the big payers, but you can usually save significant money by negotiating and asking for a discount.
  2. Look for the CPT code. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes are the standard codes maintained by the American Medical Association. They’re what billing departments use to determine the charges for any procedure. Once you know the CPT codes, you can comparison shop. How cool is that?  Of course, we know not all medical care is the same, but it’s good to find out what an average or reasonable rate is.
  3. Get Comfortable with Negotiating your Medical Bills – Many health care providers are getting used to patients taking a more active role in controlling their spending. Millions of people have lost their insurance coverage along with their jobs. Even those who are insured are often paying more in out of pocket charges than ever before. So join the crowd and start wheeling and dealing.

Selecting Lower-Cost  Treatments

  1. Talk with your doctor. While billing departments are important, it’s your doctor who orders the services so let them know your financial limits. Avoid taking it personally if you encounter any resistance. Physicians may feel uncomfortable discussing money and may assume that your insurance covers more than it really does. It’s ok to push back and ask if the test is really necessary.
  2. Always Opt for generic drugs. Generic drugs are any easy way to save money. Most contain the same ingredients as the brand name formulas but they cost much less. This one step can dramatically lower your medical bills.

Negotiating Medical Bills and  Payments

Make up-front payments. Offering to pay by cash or check in advance is usually the best way to get a sizeable discount. Even doctors find cash is king. In exchange for bypassing insurance reimbursements or collections agencies, many providers will cut your bill by 20% or more.

Base your proposed payment on Medicare charges. Medicare payments are a great starting point for calculating your own expenses. Once you know your CPT code, look up the Medicare payments in your geographical area at the American Medical Association website or call around to the billing departments of local medical centers. Paying 25% more than Medicare is reasonable for most procedures.

Always Review your bills. This goes for all bill types but – Industry experts estimate that up to 85% of medical bills contain one or more errors. Ask for itemized bills and review them carefully. It may be helpful to arrange conference calls with the hospital and your insurance company to conduct a full analysis.

Ask about interest free payment plans. Obviously, paying by credit cards costs a patient more in the long run if interest accumulates. The provider also has to pay the transaction fees so they may be willing to give you a zero interest payment plan if you’re paying cash.

Hire a medical advocate. Medical advocates charge a fee for their services but the savings can be worthwhile, especially for large hospital bills. After all, they know the way around medical bills. Typically, you’ll pay a flat fee or 25% to 35% of the amount by which they reduce your total bills. You can find advocates in your area through free online directories at organizations like the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants.

Learn how to get discounts on your medical bills so you’ll be in a better position to afford the care that you and your family need. By shopping around and offering up-front payments, you could save thousands of dollars. Saving on your medical bills can really add up – and put a lot more money in your pocket.