To The Daily Sun,
This past week, namely, Thursday, a momentous vote took place in Washington, on many levels.
The House finally passed a bill that remedies the injustice done to physicians and to patients as a result of that injustice. The president has said he will sign it. The House vote was 392 for and 37 against. The bill, if also passed by the Senate, will protect physicians from further cuts in their reimbursements from the Medicare system that has caused many doctors and hospitals to consider limiting or cutting access to services to those covered under Medicare. It will begin to increase their reimbursements in very small increments. They will receive an annual 0.5 percent bump for the next four years. Then the payments will stay flat for another six years before they would see 0.25 percent payment increases. This instead of a 21 percent additional cut in reimbursement payments scheduled under current law.
Congress has seen fit to stop this type of cut 18 times under the current statue; it fixes a recognized flawed formula. It is about time to take away the annual, sometimes more than annual, enormous scheduled physician reimbursement reductions. It is also important to note that for New Hampshire, due to the intricacies of the Medicare fee schedule, N.H. doctors are reimbursed less than their Massachusetts counterparts, and it is even harder therefore for them to absorb cuts without affecting their practices and ultimately possible patient access.
In perspective, it takes four years of college and a BA degree, followed by four years of Medical School, and then three to seven years of medical residency at a hospital before you can apply for a license, and if you have a specialty, an additional one to three years. So, after getting out of high school, they have to wait approximately 10 years or more before they begin earning, and at the same time pay off a typical bill around $200,000 for that education.
The other good news out of this bill's passage in the House is that at last our elected officials have come together and found common ground and done the right thing for all, and have put aside their bipartisanship to protect the health care of everyone.
In addition, the hospitals and doctors are constantly working to improve the quality of care and at the same time find and develop techniques that will help lower the growth in health care costs. The legislation passed in the House seeks to enhance that capability. There is still much to be done to improve the quality of care and reduce the cost of care. Let the people who have dedicated their lives to this, do their job and keep the government from tying their hands and shortchanging them in programs that are essential.
This bill was supposed to go the Senate for a vote on Friday, but time ran out before they recessed for vacation. When they return, please ask your senators to pass this bill.
Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 10:06
To The Daily Sun,
I read it and hear it — in New Hampshire we're known for our "retail politics". National candidates in primary season can hone their skills with us, meeting one on one. However, something else we can be known for — sharing firewood.
A friend in Sanbornton is sharing her firewood over-supply with her friends that have run out. When they come to take a load, they also take a load for another family that has run out of wood but also out of fuel oil money. Now friend, Mary, tells me she overheard conversation in the grocery check-out line this week of another family sharing their extra firewood with someone who ran out. No money exchanged. Just good hearts in action. Thanks for simple generosity being normal behavior in New Hampshire.
May the candidates learn from it. Heart to heart can beat out money changing hands.
Lynn Rudmin Chong
Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 08:58
To The Daily Sun,
The three sectors of the economy that have experienced the greatest cost increases and price inflation over the past 50 years are those where government exerts its greatest influence: health care, education and housing.
The government-induced housing bubble fertilized with low interest rates, reinforced with mandates that lenders provide mortgagees with no money down to unqualified borrowers, caused one of the worst recessions in this nation's history. Millions of homeowners were forcibly evicted from their homes while millions of others watched helplessly as their property values plummeted. Government is already at this high-risk game again, permitting mortgages with little or no down payment, putting the tax payer again at risk of massive bailouts and home owners of eviction.
The cost of education, kindergarten through grad school, has increased faster than almost any sector of the economy. College tuition has doubled in 15 years, causing student debt to mushroom to more than a trillion dollars. Student default rates on that debt are now soaring. All while quality in education has stagnated or declined almost every place. America spends the highest amount of money per student of any country in the world while producing the most average test results. The best paying STEM related jobs still go to Asians, not Americans.
The cost of health care has been debated to its death. The acrimony and sour taste from that debate with dictated solutions from government has left Democrats at their lowest ebb of power in nearly a century. There are now only 17 Democratic governors out of 50, while Congress, the Senate and the majority of state legislatures are in republican hands as a direct result of that debate.
The Affordable Care Act has not, and will not cut the cost of providing health care. It only specified who got stuck paying the bill. When tens of millions of the young/healthy and middle class discovered it was them, they revolted with their vote. In fact the one issue all economists agree on is the unfunded costs of Medicare and health care in the tens of trillions going forward is the only issue that has the power to bankrupt this nation.
Government has made promises to people regarding health it simply can't afford to keep and won't. Government refuses to admit it because doing so could damage Democrats badly at election time for decades. So government dilutes health care hoping you won't notice. Full-fledged doctors with years of residency training have been replaced by a nurse practitioner, while the number of doctors willing to serve Medicaid and Medicare patients shrinks toward zero, driven out by government reimbursement dictates.
The constant bullying, meddling and intervention of government into health care, education and housing aimed to produce equality has produced the absolute worst of results. No one can deny it. Much of the handiwork of government is unstated price control through executive orders and bulling.
Subsides only mask the true cost of everything. They do not make products or services cost less. Grants from government and states with the intent to reduce costs only increase them. Handouts to education from government have never been greater while the cost of education has never been higher. The more government interferes in private markets to distort or control price, the faster prices rise and the poorer quality becomes.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 09:59
To The Daily Sun,
We've all been looking forward to spring returning to New Hampshire. Finally, it's time to celebrate the warmer weather and blooming flowers!
Guests who enjoy lunch or dinner at Patrick's Pub in Gilford on Sunday, March 29, through Thursday, April 2, can ask their server to donate 25 percent of their meal cost to the Belknap Mill. I encourage you to participate in this "Spring Into Action" fundraiser with family, friends and co-workers. I want to thank Patrick's, a Belknap Mill business member, for hosting this five-day Give Back Program.
The Belknap Mill is a historic treasure that attracts visitors from all over the country and beyond. Your support can help to continue their arts and education programs. Stop by 25 Beacon Street East in Laconia to see Stewart making socks on the vintage knitting machines. He usually volunteers on Thursdays. Check out the monthly changing exhibits, powerhouse museum and the latest items offered by local artisans and photographers in the Gift Shop. You can rent space for your wedding, baby or bridal showers, birthday and anniversary parties, business meetings and more.
Visit www.belknapmill.org or call 603-524-8813 for the hours of operation or more information.
Join me and Belknap Mill supporters to make sure these programs continue for future generations to enjoy.
Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 09:54
To The Daily Sun,
Gov. Hassan has never supported the 8-cent per gallon gas tax increase or played games with the Department of Transportation budget as claimed by Rep. Mike Sylvia in a letter published Thursday. The whole DOT fiasco is a creation of the House Finance Committee Republicans.
The Finance Republicans snatched the DOT budget from the governor's budget proposal, attached it as an amendment to an innocuous bill about drivers licenses (HB-357), crippled the department by slashing $88 million needed to fund department operations so it could spend the money raised last year to fix the roads, and when John Q. Citizen complained loudly, decided to fix the bill by imposing an additional 8-cent tax increase.
Curiously, Finance Chairman Rep. Neal Kurk refused to sponsor the gas tax increase, but publicly stated he'd support it. Such fortitude. Well, by Wednesday, the 176 Republicans who signed the Grover Norquist pledge seem to have been joined by a few others, and, apparently the Democratic minority in the House didn't want to go along with the shenanigans, by passing the House Finance crippling amendment, adopting a floor amendment imposing the 8-cent per gallon increase and then passing the bill.
As a result, on Wednesday, when the bill came up, Rep. Kurk urged the House to kill his committee's amendment (2015-1015h), and pass the bill dealing only with driver licensing.
Nary a word was spoken about the amendment to raise the gas tax (2015-1071h). This issue now becomes a second thing subject to my warning in an earlier letter: "Don't count on this being the last word on the subject."
David O. Huot
Last Updated on Friday, 27 March 2015 09:48