Thursday, August 16, 2012

Medicare, Medicaid and Old Folks

As thinking, feeling, caring human beings (whether Christian or not), we ought to care deeply about the plight of poor people.  That doesn't seem to be the case when it comes to discussions of Medicaid funding, so for those pseudo-Randians that are willing to let the poor die off, it should also be noted that Medicaid pays for 60% of nursing home patients.  60%.  They don't all start out poor.  But with an average cost of $75K per year for a semi-private room, at some point they (or should I say "we"?) are going to burn through their savings, maybe their families' savings and then have to give up their remaining possessions (house, car, etc) in return for Medicaid coverage.  If you're poor, it's tough to get get old but if you're old long enough, you're almost certain to get poor.

So the Republicans try to scare older folks by accusing the Obama administration of cutting Medicare benefits to pay for "Obamacare" (without telling them that some of the benefits of the ACA help them like closing the donut hole in Medicare prescription drug benefits and that oh by the way, the Ryan budget proposal made similar cuts but then gave the money to the 1%ers).  The idea is apparently that Medicaid only helps "those people" - the Republicans are not very specific about who "those people" are but they certainly insinuate that they're not "us".  But unless you really are a 1%er or you've had the foresight to buy long-term care insurance (and really, very few people even know it exists) or you die a quick death, you're likely to be in a position where you'll either need Medicaid or you'll bleed your entire family's finances dry or I guess you'll die in a gutter.

So what's your plan?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"The new phone books are here!"

Yes, channeling Navin Johnson in "The Jerk".  My Chapel Hill friends will likely remember how difficult it used to be to get a phone book years ago, and almost impossible to get a campus directory unless you were living in a dorm.  Now we seem to get a phone book of one sort or another dropped in our yard, thrown onto our porch or propped up against the mailbox post about every month and I don't think I've actually used one in...  5 years?  10 years?

Do any of you actually still use phone books?  I certainly don't at home or work.  Even if I'm in an unfamiliar city I'm going to use or some review aggregater to find a restaurant, Google Maps to find my way around, maybe one of the local civic websites promoting the area to find other things to do - do they even still put phone books in hotel rooms?

I know there are a few folks that are not wired and still have a use for phone books, but wouldn't it make more sense to have people that actually want them pick them up at the phone company office or the local mall or something rather than dumping thousands of unwanted ex-trees on people who are just going to dump them in the recycle bin the next day?  (Yes, I'm sure they base their ad rate on their distribution and not on who actually might, you know, LOOK at one of the ads, but still...)

Has anyone tried the "opt-out" process and was it effective?