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Something Smelts Funny: More On California’s Judge-Ordered Drought

Friday, July 31, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I have an interview about the delta smelt with Carolee Krieger of the California Water Impact Network in the first hour today. Let me know what you think: hugh@hughhewitt.com.

Ms. Krieger is the environmental activist quoted in the long article about the smelt and the judge-ordered drought in California’s Central Valley.

After 20 years of Endangered Species Act practice, nothing surprises me except the unwillingness of activists using the Act for agendas quite separate from the Act to refuse to confront the costs of their activism in ruined lives, lost jobs and economic misery. Ms. Krieger sounds like a nice person, but her indifference to the toll of the water cut-off to the Central Valley is genuinely astonishing if not particularly unique.

The article I refer to from the New York Times indicating that there is a new population of delta smelt that calls into question whether the water cut-off to farmers is really necessary is here.

And please sign the Pacific Legal Foundation’s petition urging Arnold to call for the convening of the “God Squad” to review this fiasco.

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What’s A Little Pain

Friday, July 31, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

An interesting e-mail:

Dear Hugh Hewitt and Co.,

I own a medical billing company specializing in anesthesia billing. I would like to point out something of grave concern in the new
healthcare bills that nobody seems to be talking about. Medicare pays anesthesiologists about 20 cents on the dollar compared to private insurance companies. The healthcare bills set reimbursement rates at Medicare rates plus 5%. That might be fine for most specialities, where Medicare rates and private insurance rates are fairly close, but it will destroy anesthesia. What doctor is going to take an almost 80% pay cut? My doctors are talking about staying home with their kids or going into real estate as a profession. There is already a shortage of anesthesiologists in America. Yes, yes, CRNAs are wonderful, and can do a lot of what an anesthesiologist can do – but there aren’t enough CRNAs either. And, frankly, when you have a preemie having heart surgery, or an 88-year-old with three different conditions who is on a host of medications, you want a doctor handling that case.

So good luck finding someone to put in an epidural when your wife or daughter is having a baby, or give you propofol for your next
colonoscopy. You’ll have to just tough it out.

Sincerely,

KW

UPDATE: Another e-mail:

Hugh,

As a practicing anesthesiologist, I can verify the e mail about our Medicare reimbursment. We provide care at below cost for Medicare patients. The proposals under consideration would be a complete disaster for the medical specialty of anesthesiology, and would put all surgical patients at great risk. Perhaps this is an example of how liberals plan to disincentivize the provision of medical care they deem too expensive.

Dr. K
Phoenix, Az

and another:

Hugh,

I’m a pathologist and our experience is similar to the
anesthesiologists. For those who don’t know, pathology is divided
into Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. Anatomic Pathology is basically diagnosing disease. Looking at colon biopsies, Pap smears, hysterectomies, large tumor resections, biopsies from radiology procedures, diagnosing and staging cancer…Clinical Pathology is running the hospital laboratory.

Medicare reimburses at ~20% of billed charges or $.20 on the dollar. The Medicare reimbursement rates have decreased consistently since 1999 with a threat of another 20% cut. We are required by the hospital where we work to accept Medicare and Medicaid, so we do.

The contracts that we have signed with private insurance plans
reimburse anywhere from 75-95% of billed charges. There are major insurance companies out there who cover 80% of billed charges if we are a non-participating provider (don’t have a contract with the company). The consumer is responsible for the other 20%. They offer to pay us 30% of billed charges if we sign a contract with them. Go figure. I’ll pass. This leads to a write off rate or as it is called “adjustments” of 50%.

So, what would a government plan of health care do to pathology? I
think that a lot of people will retire or leave the field. Younger
pathologists will work until they are able to retire. All of this is
going to lead to a major shortage of pathologists, as others have
stated. Delay in diagnosis. Why would anyone enter into this field in the future?

Dr. S
Nebraska

“It All Depends – Who Gets To Be The Tyrant”

Friday, July 31, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

A week ago I sat down to write a post on the Crowley/Gates Peer Pressure Beer & Bologna summit, but then copped out, mainly because writing about race always brings in ugly mail. Call me a “Holder coward”. The whole thing was so campaign mode photo-op-meets-surreal-b.s. that I just couldn’t get the words together to denigrate it with proper panache. And now I know why. It’s because what we’re all waiting for is one of these “Auto-Tune The News” segments on it. The creator calls Katie Couric his muse, but I think you’ll enjoy the way Michelle Bachmann and John Boehner come across as compared to Madame Pelosi … enjoy!

By the way, the 24 year old creator is interviewed in Mother Jones but doesn’t sem viciously partisan. Here’s the new Politico article on the phenomenon. If you love music and politics and haven’t seen these yet, you’ll want to go through them all to hear Joe Biden “from space”.

“Cash for Clunkers” and Obamacare

Friday, July 31, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The government’s $4,500 incentive to trade in an old car and buy a new one blew through its $1 billion in a week.

Just as with the tax credit for new home purchases, consumers altered their behavior when presented with an opportunity. Democrats thus have received a second example of an iron law of economics: People respond quickly to significant cash incentives.

Which is why the “government option/public plan” will quickly kill private insurance if it is enacted, and why the president should not be routinely “guaranteeing” that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.

If the government establishes a program that makes it cheaper for employers to dump their employees into the “government option,” they will. Just like buyers who responded to tax credits for new homes or cash-back for old cars, employers will respond to large bottom-line incentives.

A “government option” will work quickly and effectively to cripple private insurance. It is “single payer on the installment plan,” and that’s why Americans are turning against it by the millions, and telling Congress as much.

It is also why columns like today’s by Paul Krugman are so fundamentally dishonest: They don’t tell you the truth about Obamacare, which is that it will cause millions of Americans to lose the insurance they presently have. Over and over again voices from the president down and all across the left tell you how terrible private insurance is, but the vast majority of Americans with private insurance want to keep it. Yes, there are horror stories out there about bad insurance companies refusing to pay good claims –and that’s why the tort of wrongful denial of coverage is such a powerful one. Juries hate insurance companies that refuse to pay for treatments they have agreed to cover, and the verdicts that follow proof of such a denial are large as a result. When the government takes over your insurance and refuses to pay for a treatment, good luck threatening that bureaucrat with a lawsuit.

Most Americans want to keep the insurance they have. Most Democrats in Congress and the president want to take it away and replace it with a government policy. That’s the big divide in D.C., and it is the reason you have to act between now and the return of Congress in September if you want to be certain of staying out of a government insurance plan. (See Kimberley Strassel’s excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal to glimpse the ongoing battle within the Democratic Party between the Obama-Pelosi-Waxman left and the “moderate” Democrats.)

This weekend and throughout August, contact members of the Blue Dog Democrats and tell them to turn down Obamacare. (The list of Blue Dogs with their contact information is here.)

And then tell your senators via 202-224-3121. When you have called both of your home state senators, contact these Democratic senators who are facing re-election in 2010 and tell them that if they support Obamacare, you will work for their opponents and contribute to their opponents’ campaigns:

Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln

New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand

Indiana’s Evan Bayh

North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan

Colorado’s Michael Bennet

Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter

Oregon’s Ron Wyden

Washington’s Patty Murray.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition to stop Obamacare. If you have already signed, send the URL to friends, family and colleagues and ask them to sign.

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