Healthcare passed, where do we go from here?
In the March 10, 2010 words of Speaker Pelosi: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it….” Unfortunately, no one knows what is in the just passed health care bill. Stay tuned, we will be discovering all sorts of things in the weeks and months to come.
Meanwhile, a decision by Walgreens slipped by largely unnoticed amidst the health care debate that dominated the news last week. Walgreens announced on March 17, 2010 that effective April 16, all Walgreens drugstores across the state of Washington would no longer take new Medicaid patients as customers. Their reasoning was that filling their prescriptions was a money-losing proposition. In short, Walgreens is being reimbursed at less than the break-even point for 95% of brand-name medications dispensed to Medicaid patients. Walgreens was not the first to make this decision.
In February, Bartell Drugs stopped taking new Medicaid patients at all 57 of its stores in Washington. In November, Ritzville Drug Company announced that it would stop participating in Medicaid. Jeff Rochon, CEO of the Washington State Pharmacy Association stated that “Washington state Medicaid is now reimbursing pharmacies less than their cost of participation.” That means that every Medicaid prescription filled by any pharmacy in Washington state loses money for the pharmacy that filled it.
Watch for this and other disturbing trends to spread to many other states and businesses in the near future.
Democratic leaders hope to pass the Obama health plan this weekend.
Express your position. Send us your thoughts, and contact your representative to voice your opinion.
Idaho became the first state to pass a law designed to combat the effects of a potential passage of the Obama health care plan. On Wednesday, March 17, Governor Otter signed a measure that will require the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to by health insurance. Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states.
Do you support or reject the plan? If the scheduled vote takes place on Sunday, you have only two days remaining to express your views with your elected representative. Pick up the phone, send an email, or fax to your representative and express your opinion.
Is there a need for health care reform, and are there people who would benefit from having health care? The answer is a resounding YES. Is health care a right? Is owning a house, car, cell phone, computer, big screen TV, or your own business a right? None of these things is guaranteed by our constitution.
We take the view that the current health care bill has become so tainted with concessions to special interest groups, back room and sweetheart deals, extraneous non-health issues such as student loans, cutting Medicare and Social Security budgets, tax increases, and reckless spending proposals, that the vast majority of Americans would be better served by scrapping the current bill and then crafting a totally new bill that could be worked out in a truly bipartisan manner.
Again, you have the right to express your position. Send us your thoughts, and contact your representative to voice your opinion.
Census scam artists are at work! The United States Census forms are being mailed this week. They are clearly marked as follows:
U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau.
Beware of the following scams that have surfaced in various areas around the country.
· Census emails ---- There are NO U.S. Census emails!
· Person appearing at your door asking to enter your home --- U.S. Census workers are never allowed to ask to enter your home!
· Someone asking for personal information such as Social Security or Banking numbers --- U.S. Census workers are forbidden to ask for or receive personal Social Security or Banking numbers!
· Phone calls asking for the same personal information --- There are NO U.S. Census phone calls!
· Person in a public place conducting a survey --- There are NO U.S. Census surveys! Be aware! The scam artists are out there with the intention of stealing personal information and your money.
Beware! Never give anyone your personal information. Your personal information is private and belongs to you! Guard it with due diligence!
Teacher retirement funding problems may be a harbinger of things to come for many professionals and working people across America. The North Dakota teachers’ retirement fund has an unfunded liability of almost $600 million, according to Fay Kopp, deputy executive director of the North Dakota Retirement and Investment Office. The fix would require an infusion of $500 million to $600 million.
Why the tremendous deficit? Like almost every retirement fund across the country, the state-run Teachers’ Fund for Retirement, or TFFR, took a massive hit from the stock market meltdown and massive investment losses. According to Kopp, the fund, a qualified defined benefit public pension plan, is projected to run out of money by 2033 if the situation remains unchanged.
“What we’re trying to do is urge our members to stay calm, urge the public to stay calm because it gets to be a very emotional issue,” said North Dakota Education Association Executive Director Greg Burns. “We’re all trying to find a way to share the pain. What that will be we don’t know yet.”
Some possibilities the board is exploring include:
· Asking the Legislature for one-time funding.
· Cutting benefits.
· Increasing contributions.
· Raising the teacher retirement age.
“Right now, the fund is solid, so there’s no problem with paying out benefits,” said Jamestown Superintendent Bob Toso, a trustee on the TFFR board. “But if we don’t do something, there’s going to be a heck of a problem in the future.”
Many experts are paying close attention to this and similar situations across the country because they may be a bell-weather of retirement funding shortfalls facing many millions of future retires across the spectrum of jobs across America.
For additional information about North Dakota teachers’ retirement, see Kelly Smith’s article on Inforum.