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Something Smelts Funny: California’s Judge-Ordered Drought Part 2

Saturday, August 1, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The transcript of my conversation with Carolee Krieger is here.

The podcast is here.

One of the most interesting exchanges is this one. (Keep in mind that the “drought” in California’s Central Valley is a judge-ordered drought, brought about by a court’s order that water not be pumped there from the Sacramento Delta because of potential harm to the delta smelt):

HH: But Carolee, are you living in a little world that you’ve created for yourself where you’re walling yourself off from the human misery you are a part of inflicting on these people? I mean, are you aware of it? If you’re aware of it…

CK: I do not believe that I’m inflicting misery on anybody. I mean…

HH: But I mean…

CK: I honestly think that these people are inflicting it on themselves, because they have junior water rights, and they know that their water is the first to be dropped in a drought.

Please visit the Pacific Legal Foundation’s web site to sign the petition urging Arnold to call for federal relief for the farmers in the Central Valley.

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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.

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”.

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