Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

Okay – not exactly everywhere, but there was a lot of it yesterday. Between the rain we got last night right before and during the water rescue class that was scheduled to happen as well as some a bit after, it was a little bit wet. It could have been worse, though; there was potential for lightning and thunder, which happened afterward for a while. But it didn’t go on for too long.

Last night I worked with my friend Matt. I don’t get to see him very often, but we’ve been friends for a number of years. He is an experienced Paramedic who was instrumental in guiding me along when I was a Paramedic student. It was an immense pleasure to work with him; I see him in Boston often enough as he works for AMR in the Metro-West area. And it was a blast to actually get to chat with him. We ended up staying awake until close to 3:00AM this morning chatting like a couple of school kids who can’t keep their mouths shut. And two hours later we got a call at the other end of town for a diff breather. It turned out not to be a bad call at all, and we handled it pretty efficiently. We got out a little late, but not terribly so.

It is hard to believe that summer is approaching its end soon. That said, with all of the lousy weather we had (including a tremendous amount of rain) we haven’t had much of a summer, have we? One of the things I’m concerned about is that local farmers are going to have a hard time with their crops. Not only is that a crying shame, but it really puts these people into a bad position economically. They work incredibly hard every year to have sellable produce, whether it’s fruits or vegetables, and I’m not too sure how their year will turn out because of the conditions they’ve had to deal with.

For example, I’ve been watching the price of corn over the past two  weeks. It seems to me that it is much higher this summer than it has been in summers past. Maybe that is because the economy overall is still in a bit of a funk, or maybe it’s because of what I’ve been talking about. I don’t know. But in any case it will be worth watching everything else as it becomes available – or not – to see if the same things happen.

I watched the town hall meeting over in Portsmouth yesterday. My view on how it went is somewhat mixed. While the President gets high marks from me for not using a TelePrompter or having a script in front of him – after all, how could he do that when he had to answer questions? – I was not convinced with some of his answers to those questions as well as to some of the comments he made. Probably the one thing he said that had my shaking my head in incredulity was when he said that his plan would not add to the national debt. I had to laugh; I mean, really – who does he think he’s fooling, anyway? As I see it, there is no way it can’t add to the debt because all of the costs are going to get piled on top of what currently exists. And, I believe the American taxpayer (read: middle class) will get stuck with the bill.

Furthermore, he has said repeatedly that his plan does not lead to what is known as a “single payer system”, where the government is the ultimate source for billing and reimbursement of health insurance claims. He’s said multiple times, in fact, that the current insurance system is not going to be changed or forced to modify itself in any way. Frankly, I don’t believe that. As I see it, all of the indications out there are precisely towards single-payer. In addition, there is wording in the proposed legislation that, at least how I interpreted what I read, over time will outlaw the existence of multiple insurance carriers.

I don’t know if I read that right or not, but if it’s indeed what the intention is, I think it’s a bad idea.

I am not saying that the system shouldn’t be fixed. On the contrary; it is seriously damaged and needs to be overhauled. But I’m not sure that what he has in mind is the right way to go about doing it. And I don’t know what the “right” solution to this problem is. But I don’t want to see a further mess being made by government intervention into health care. After all, there are a couple of prime examples of that: Medicare/Medicaid and the VA system. if you know anyone who is a Medicare/Medicaid subscriber, it’s well known that there are limits on what they will and won’t pay for. I saw it first-hand when my father was alive, and I imagine that both my mother and my mother-in-law deal with it daily also. As for the VA system, I have seen how much of a mess that is up close and personal, both for veterans already in the system and others on the way into becoming part of it. And it simply seems like there is too much bureaucracy for too little – and too little quality – care. It breaks my heart to have seen some of the people who served this country get treated so inadequately and ineptly as I have in my dealings with the VA. Ironically enough, even with my status as a veteran I do not qualify for VA care because of the time period of my service. But that’s just as well as I’m not sure it would be worth my while if I ever needed it and were qualified for it...

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