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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

State Budget Hearing Wednesday Evening, Serb Hall

by folkbum

I'm still standing by my prediction of a mid-September budget resolution (if that early). However, I'm still eagerly awaiting this:
Public Hearing to Discuss the 2007-09 Wisconsin State Biennial Budget
Wednesday, August 15, 6:00 PM
American Serb Hall, Wisconsin Room, 5101 W. Oklahoma Avenue
I hope to see at least some of you there!

And, as long as we're on a related topic, My State Representative has a post today on the Business Journal Small Business Times blog:
Another component of the new Federalism was less popular over the last 25 years, but the "don't trust government" crowd has tried at every chance they get: eliminate the New Deal-inspired programs of Social Security, Unemployment and Worker's Compensation (all three programs were born in Wisconsin), and starve the living daylights out of Medicaid and Medicare health care programs to avert European or Canadian-style "socialized medicine."

Back in the efficient and all-knowing private sector, we were greeted with another byproduct of the big thinkers of that age: HMOs. If anyone has an old newspaper around, they might remember employers dropping traditional insurance plans for workers and retirees in favor of health maintenance organizations (along the same time pensions were dropped for 401k plans). HMO is a buzzkill, so now we use words like "consumer-empowerment" or "managed care" or my favorite, "health savings accounts." That feels better now doesn't it?

HMOs were set-up to incorporate a fiscal and physical gatekeeper known as your primary care doctor. Charitable hospitals, usually run by religious groups, would shift from "not-for-profits" to business models that actually parallel that of a massive, for-profit corporation. And good old-fashioned insurance firms, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, would need to keep up with the times and join the for-profit movement so they can "invest in life-saving and quality improvements … blah blah blah."

So thanks to these trends, we now have some of the highest health care costs in the world, yet we collectively as a society are getting sicker. Specialized doctors, expensive technology and drugs, hospital systems that keep building and building new and more expensive facilities, and a fragmented primary care system characterize this awful lifestyle choice.

Yes, I said choice. We have already chosen the route that Torinus and his buddies want us to embrace now. It not only has failed, it has (like New Federalism) put states like Wisconsin at a competitive disadvantage with other states and other nations in the world. It is how one explains spending nearly twice per capita on health care services and still having high rates of infant mortality, widespread chronic yet preventable disease, and people who are middle class or working class feeling economic insecurity that rivals the 1930s.

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