News that Gets My Goat..
-Front page story in the Sunday chronicle about Medicare paying over sixty million dollars a year to private EMS companies in Harris County to transport poor, sick, and mentally ill patients by ambulance to clinics and hospitals, five times the rate of any other Texas city, almost ten times as much as spent in New York City. The article notes that some of these appointments are to strip centers and residential neighborhoods, and that many of the patients are “neither debilitated nor confined to a sick bed. They are not headed to, or coming from the hospital, and there is no medical need.”
Expect this story to get legs, although it’s been going on for over twenty years. I’m sure the usual suspects will try to use it as a hammer against ‘socialized medicine,’ though to me it speaks as an example of the vaunted private sector looting the public till and adds to the case for further reform. There is a crying need for low-income and indigent healthcare in Texas. Could it be that we can spend ten times as much as New York (which has twice the population of Harris County) because they better insure more people there and have adequate public transportation to get folks to their appointments?
Funny, this story reminds me of Orlando Sanchez, who the GOP expected to drive his Humvee into the mayor’s office on the strength of his Latin surname. As I remember his candidate resume, the only job he listed other than being CEO of his own ‘consulting company,’ was being an EMT for an ambulance service in North Harris County. Sanchez lost his bid for mayor, but later got elected County Treasurer over a Democratic candidate who ran on a platform of abolishing the office as extraneous. Don’t take this as a smear on Mr. Sanchez; in one quote I found, he described his EMT service as volunteer, besides; only 333 of 397 private ambulance services in Harris County were under investigation by Medicare last year for billing irregularities. Sanchez may well be re-elected to his treasurers post as long as he cares to run.
-I believe that I’ve heard just about enough praise for Herman Cain now. This sock puppet for the Koch brothers said on Meet the Press that “I’m not familiar with the Neoconservative movement.” Excuse me?! You’ve never heard of the Vulcans who took us into two wars that have cost a million lives and three trillion dollars so far? In his book he wrote “I’m not trying to escape the broader issues, but I think a president should first be briefed on classified intelligence about America’s relationships before offering opinions.” So we have to wait until he gets the President’s Daily Brief to hear what he thinks? Like that one George Bush got on August 6th 2001 maybe?
Cain is getting a lot of mileage out of his “999 tax plan,” regressive as it is. I think it’s just a case of economic illiteracy at work, or is it as George McGovern said, “maybe everybody thinks they’re going to win the lottery.” Maybe folks don’t realize that they would be paying sales tax on every loaf of bread, quart of milk, every prescription they buy. Herman Cain was co-chair of Steve Forbes presidential campaign in 2000. Remember Steve “flat tax” Forbes? Pardon me if I’m dubious about a tax plan offered by somebody who inherited a billion dollars, and note that the “999 plan” eliminates capital gains and inheritance taxes.