Moderate Moment | Moderate Moms

Archive for December, 2012

“Governing by deferral, deadlines and deadlocks”

Instead of being sad that Maine’s Olympia Snowe is retiring, we need to look for the next moderate Republican woman who can fill her shoes. How interesting that the Republicans turned to this voice of reason in the final hours of the looming fiscal cliff. Here’s an article you might enjoy on her career.

A fiscal cliff recipe from Comedy Central

I’m sorry but this is funny. Comedy Central suggests having your friends bring over copies of their credit card and utility bills and having them tape them to the ceiling to create the right ambience. Then serve a gooey milk cake (see the milk cliff in the mom vivant) while playing the music of blind but brilliant artists. Oh, my.

http://www.indecisionforever.com/blog/2012/12/28/planning-your-fiscal-cliff-eve-party

Confused about healthcare? Everyone else is, too.

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR 12/29/12 01:14 PM ET EST AP
 
WASHINGTON — Confused about the federal budget struggle? So are doctors, hospital administrators and other medical professionals who serve the 100 million Americans covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

Rarely has the government sent so many conflicting signals in so short a time about the bottom line for the health care industry.

Cuts are coming, says Washington, and some could be really big. Yet more government spending is also being promised as President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul advances and millions of uninsured people move closer to getting government-subsidized coverage.

“Imagine a person being told they are going to get a raise, but their taxes are also going to go up and they are going to be paying more for gas,” said Thornton Kirby, president of the South Carolina Hospital Association. “They don’t know if they are going to be taking home more or less. That’s the uncertainty when there are so many variables in play.”

Real money is at stake for big hospitals and small medical practices alike. Government at all levels pays nearly half the nation’s health care tab, with federal funds accounting for most of that.

It’s widely assumed that a budget deal will mean cuts for Medicare service providers. But which ones? How much? And will Medicaid and subsidies to help people get coverage under the health care law also be cut?

As House Speaker John Boehner famously said: “God only knows.” The Ohio Republican was referring to the overall chances of getting a budget deal, but the same can be said of how health care – one-sixth of the economy – will fare.

“There is no political consensus to do anything significant,” said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. “There is a collective walking away from things that matter. All the stuff on the lists of options becomes impossible, because there is no give-and-take.”

As if things weren’t complicated enough, doctors keep facing their own recurring fiscal cliff, separate from the bigger budget battle but embroiled in it nonetheless.

Come Jan. 1, doctors and certain other medical professionals face a 26.5 percent cut in their Medicare payments, the consequence of a 1990s deficit-reduction law gone awry. Lawmakers failed to repeal or replace that law even after it became obvious that it wasn’t working. Instead, Congress usually passes a “doc fix” each year to waive the cuts.

This year, the fix got hung up in larger budget politics. Although a reprieve is expected sooner or later, doctors don’t like being told to sit in the congressional waiting room.

“It seems like there is a presumption that physicians and patients can basically tolerate this kind of uncertainty while the Congress goes through whatever political machinations they are going through,” said Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association. “Our concern is that physician uncertainty and anxiety about being able to pay the bills will have an impact on taking care of patients.”

A recent government survey indicates that Medicare beneficiaries are having more problems when trying to find a new primary care doctor, and Lazarus said that will only get worse.

Adding to their unease, doctors also face an additional reduction if automatic spending cuts go through. Those would be triggered if Obama and congressional leaders are unable to bridge partisan differences and strike a deal. They are part of the combination of tax increases and spending cuts dubbed the “fiscal cliff.”

Medicare service providers would get hit with a 2 percent across-the-board cut, but Medicaid and subsidies for the uninsured under Obama’s health care overhaul would be spared. The Medicare cut adds up to about $120 billion over ten years, with 40 percent falling on hospitals, according to Avalare’s analysis. Nursing homes, Medicare Advantage plans and home health agencies also get hit.

The American Hospital Association says that would lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of hospital jobs in a labor intensive industry that also generates employment for other businesses in local communities.

“It’s very difficult to believe hospitals can absorb the kinds of numbers they are talking about without reducing service or workforce,” said Kirby, the hospital association head. “You may decide that a service a hospital provides is not affordable – for example, obstetrics in a rural community – if you’re making a little bit of money or losing a little bit of money by continuing to deliver babies in a rural community.”

Independent analysts like Mendelson doubt that a 2 percent Medicare cut to hospitals would be catastrophic but say it will cost jobs somewhere.

Even if there is a budget deal, the squeeze will be on.

The administration has proposed $400 billion in health care cuts so far in the budget talks, coming mainly from Medicare spending. That’s only a starting point as far as Republicans are concerned. They also want to pare back Medicaid and Obama’s health care law and have also sought an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare.

ainty and anxiety about being able to pay the bills will have an impact on taking care of patients.”

A recent government survey indicates that Medicare beneficiaries are having more problems when trying to find a new primary care doctor, and Lazarus said that will only get worse.

Adding to their unease, doctors also face an additional reduction if automatic spending cuts go through. Those would be triggered if Obama and congressional leaders are unable to bridge partisan differences and strike a deal. They are part of the combination of tax increases and spending cuts dubbed the “fiscal cliff.”

Medicare service providers would get hit with a 2 percent across-the-board cut, but Medicaid and subsidies for the uninsured under Obama’s health care overhaul would be spared. The Medicare cut adds up to about $120 billion over ten years, with 40 percent falling on hospitals, according to Avalare’s analysis. Nursing homes, Medicare Advantage plans and home health agencies also get hit.

The American Hospital Association says that would lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of hospital jobs in a labor intensive industry that also generates employment for other businesses in local communities.

“It’s very difficult to believe hospitals can absorb the kinds of numbers they are talking about without reducing service or workforce,” said Kirby, the hospital association head. “You may decide that a service a hospital provides is not affordable – for example, obstetrics in a rural community – if you’re making a little bit of money or losing a little bit of money by continuing to deliver babies in a rural community.”

Independent analysts like Mendelson doubt that a 2 percent Medicare cut to hospitals would be catastrophic but say it will cost jobs somewhere.

Even if there is a budget deal, the squeeze will be on.

The administration has proposed $400 billion in health care cuts so far in the budget talks, coming mainly from Medicare spending. That’s only a starting point as far as Republicans are concerned. They also want to pare back Medicaid and Obama’s health care law and have also sought an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare.

Remembering the students of Sandy Hook

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air…
they could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
they were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
they remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“this is heaven.” declared a small boy. “we’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
when what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
and in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring
those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
and as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
then He looked down on earth, the world far below
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe
then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“may this country be delivered from the hands of fools”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“come now my children, let me show you around.”
excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
all displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
and I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“in the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.
 
Emailed by my cousin. Author unknown.

Military Moms and our Schools

There is a time to sit back and listen. And for a lot of us, the time to listen was immediately after the shootings at the Sandy Hook School in Newton, Connecticut. The shootings there were so painful, the solutions so seemingly elusive and the timing as the holidays were unfolding was so wrenching, it wasn’t a time to lash out. It was a time to reflect and to resolve that Newton, Connecticut would be remembered as the last school massacre on American soil. The 9/11 attacks may have been more startling because it was a new kind of attack and the number of casualties may have been far greater but the searing pain and vulnerability we felt as teachers and students were gunned down just over 10 days before Christmas, was the same.   

The NRA’s proposal to place armed officers at every school or to train teachers to use a gun offended many Moms and teachers who were reeling in pain and who are anti-gun to begin with. Designed to send the message that the NRA is willing to protect students and their teachers, the message not only missed on timing, it missed on substance, too. But, I wonder if the reaction was more a response to the messenger than the message? After all, a lot of Americans, rightly or wrongly, didn’t want to hear from the NRA on the heels of an incident like this one. That doesn’t mean the NRA isn’t a valid voice on 2nd Amendment rights or the effectiveness of an assault weapons ban. It’s just that most Americans view the NRA as the protector of 2nd Amendment rights, at all costs. At the end of the day, it isn’t the gun that does the killing but hearing from the pro-gun lobby at that particular juncture, may not have been what a lot of American Moms wanted at that moment.

The conversation around school shootings needs to be framed in a way that removes fear but doesn’t add to it. The key is going to have to be who it is that is asked to protect our country’s school kids, who represent, more than anything else, what is still good and pure about this country. American Moms want to make sure they are safe from, not just violence, but also from the culture of fear that precedes and follows a horrific shooting like this one. 

Why not turn to Military Moms? Women who know how to use a gun but aren’t posting pictures of themselves on YouTube with the assault weapons they got for Christmas just weeks after a national tragedy. Women who’ve got kids in our schools. Instead of training teachers to fire a gun, let’s turn to the wives and mothers in our country who have served in the military and know when not to fire one. 

Let’s get them together with school administrators and parents to come up with local solutions. Let’s hear their views on the questions of an assault weapons ban and the impact that violence in our culture may be having on boys. Let’s tap into their experience by having them play a role as security guards who are dressed in civilian clothing and stationed on our playgrounds.  Whether they are armed or not, they will help to soothe frayed nerves while the bigger picture question of societal ills and gun laws are settled.  If we get the word out that Military Moms are helping our schools, a shooter won’t necessarily know who they are or whether they are even there. But like Air Marshalls, these Military Moms in our Schools will know the warning signs and most important, how to respond and when. Let’s find those women who joined the military, not because they like conflict or war, but because they see themselves as protectors.

What a timely gesture to our women in the military that, while budget cuts are a harsh reality, we respect your service and skills. We respect the interruption your deployment created in your lives as wives and mothers. Let’s figure out a way to hire these women to work in their home towns. Let’s help them reconnect with their families and their communities. And let’s ask Moms across America to contribute what they can, whether it’s the price of your morning coffee or one day’s lunch money, so that the burden isn’t on the federal government, state or local district, at least not initially. Let’s use our power as Moms to short circuit the politicking around Sandy Hook that could go on for the next five years. And let’s not wait until someone gives us permission to protect our kids. Or the funds to do so. We need to say to the kids in Sandy Hook and at every other school across this country, we’re doing what we can right now so you feel safe when you go back to school next week.