Seeing the Light

Has President Obama done it again; outlawed the lightbulbs of Edison in favor of those strange, expensive bulbs that pollute and can’t be used with dimmer switches?

Did House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Michigan) have it correct when he said Big Government is substituting its own judgment for the market’s?

Actually and emphatically – NO!

There never has been a Federal law banning Edison’s incandescent lightbulbs.  There is a Federal law that mandates an increase in energy efficiency, signed by President George W. Bush in 2007 – seven years ago.  And one of the sponsors of that bill was the very same Congressman Fred Upton, who said at the time that the law would “help preserve energy resources and reduce harmful emissions, all while saving American families billions of dollars on their electric bills.”  The Congressman “…later led the Tea-Party fueled effort to stop Obama from enforcing the new standards….” (Michael Grunwald, TIME, March 20, 2013, Business 6).

He saw the light and then somehow became convinced otherwise.

Can’t help but wonder how much of that convincing involved tax-empt Tea Party dollars.

Gotta go.  I’m buying a few more of those LED bulbs that cost $12.97, but are manufactured in North Carolina (Cree, Inc.), last up to $25,000 hours (about 2.8 years without turning off the light), and cost $1.14 a year to operate.  And I may be wrong, but I think they work with dimmer switches and don’t pollute any more than my Edison incandescents.

 

Social Media?

Facebook.

I can spend more time wandering through Facebook than accomplishing things I should be doing.

And much of it (I’m guilty too) consists of messages from true believers shilling for blue and red politicians and issues, preaching to blue and red choirs.  Is there anything “social” about that type of media?  Are we not divided enough without the unrelenting calls for “forward this message or you’re an insensitive moron,” investigations, “likes,” resignations, calls for impeachments, blah, blah, blah and yadda, yadda, yadda?

I focus on family photos, beautiful nature photos, announcements of celebrations, messages about family accomplishments, memories of family events, memories of family members present and past, useful tips like using toothpaste to clean your headlight lenses (didn’t work) – you get the idea.

Have to go now.  Now that I’ve offended true believers of all stripes, I need some time to compose my latest message from an (old) bleeding heart.

And I’m late for my nap.

Real Cost of Hospital Procedures

A few weeks ago I posted a description of an article in TIME magazine by Steven Brill, “Bitter Pill – Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” (time.com/bitterpill).

In the May 20, 2013 issue of TIME at page 17, Brill announces the release of a list of the “chargemaster” prices for the most common inpatient services in all U.S. hospitals in 2011 and contrasts them with what Medicare pays.  Surprise!  Medicare pays less – far less.

Brill writes that the huge data file released by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is a “…great first step toward a new transparency in health care costs….” for two reasons.   First, the file reveals the “vast disparity” between what hospitals charge and the real cost.  Second, the file shows most of the chargemaster prices are “wildly inconsistent.”

Examples:

–  The Southeast Alabama Medical Center claimed an average chargemaster bill of $32,963; Medicare paid an average of $5,777.

–  Joint replacement procedures range from $5,300 in Ada, Oklahoma to $223,000 in Monterey Park, California.

The more than 163,072 lines of data (17,511 pages) originated in the HHS department called Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Finally, Brill wants HHS to “…publish chargemaster and Medicare pricing for the most frequent outpatient procedures and diagnostic tests at clinics….”  Even further, Brill writes that we should know what insurance companies pay.  What we do know is that insurance companies pay more than Medicare, but we don’t know how much more.

And aren’t hospitals supposed to be nonprofit?