Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's not about Health Care Reform

The Republicans know that the Health Care Reform bill is a great victory for Obama. A victory for Nancy 'stretch' Pelosi; which it is. A victory for Democrats; which it is and that is the only reason.

Do you want to deny kids health care? Do you want to give punishment for pre-existing conditions they way it's been? Do you want to deny families the opportunity to take care of their kids? You want to stop portability of heath care? You want to keep 32 million people from being insured. Sure there are problems with the bill, but no bill is perfect. But this is what the Republicans have stood in opposition to and they will have to pay for this at some time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

So Now You Get Mad! Health Care Reform

We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, now you get mad!
  • You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.
  • You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy.
  • You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got ousted.
  • You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed..
  • You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.
  • You didn't get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war.
  • You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq .
  • You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.
  • You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.
  • You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.
  • You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.
  • You didn't get mad when we let a major US city drown.
  • You didn't get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich.
  • You didn't get mad when, using reconciliation; a trillion dollars of our tax dollars were redirected to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage which cost over 20 percent more for basically the same services that Medicare provides.
  • You didn't get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark, and our debt hit the thirteen trillion dollar mark.

You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans... oh hell no.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Reform

The say the devil is in the details. It is sad that it has taken this long for the United States to get to a point where they can even start to take action toward achieving affordable health care for it's citizens. I am proud that the Obama administration took a step toward achieving this accomplishment. However, I am saddened to see some of the results.

•A requirement that businesses include the value of the health care benefits they provide to employees on W-2s, beginning with W-2s for 2011. (This doesn't mean higher taxes! It will let us know the value of our health care. Most people have no idea how much health care actually costs. Back in 2007, when I left my last job, I discovered my employer was forking over $1,002 (minus my $350 contribution) a month for my coverage!)

•Elimination, after this year, of a deduction employers now take for providing Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage to their retirees to the extent that the federal government subsidizes the coverage. This will not take effect until 2013. (Once again we give the senior citizen's the shaft. I thought we were suppose to honor our elders)

•A ban on using funds from flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts for the cost of over-the-counter medications, starting in 2011. (This one is just plain stupid!)

•A limit on the amount that employees can contribute to health care flexible spending accounts to $2,500 a year. Under the House package of changes, the cap won’t take effect until 2013. (This along with the current $5,000/year limit on dependent care expenses is crazy. Anyone with a child knows these limits are ridiculously low, but wait, now that over the counter medications can't be included and preventative care for doctors visits is not suppose to involve a co-pay any longer)

A hike in the 7.5% floor on itemized deductions for medical expenses to 10%, beginning in 2013. But taxpayers age 65 and over are exempt from the cutback through 2016. (Good Lord folks! If I make $35,000/year, I have to shell out over $3,500 before I start getting a tax benefit!)

A new 40% excise tax, beginning in 2013, on high-cost health plans, defined as those providing coverage in excess of $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families. The House’s package of modifications includes higher threshold amounts and an initial effective date of 2018. (I don't know what this means, but it doesn't look good. Please post a comment if you understand this for everyone's benefit. Thanks!)

The attorney generals from 13 states are frightening against the requirement that everyone obtains health insurance. It's the other parts of the bill they should be fighting against. My opinion is like this: If your state doesn't want to require it's citizens get health insurance, that's ok. However, those states will also lose their Medicare/Medicaid funding from the federal government as well as the public hospitals (which includes most hospitals).

When we start talking about Grandma's Medicare, then folks opinions on government sponsored health care changes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Chat with AT&T

Back in November, I called AT&T to disconnect my internet unless they could match the offer I got from the cable company. They said they would reduce my internet bill by half. When December came, I called back because I saw no discount. I was then told that the discount would go into effect in January. When January got here, I noticed a difference in my bill. In February, I noticed I was paying about the same as I was back in November. After doing some research, I discovered that they did indeed offer me the discounted internet service, but added on a $14.95 charge for a static IP address!!! I can use if I need a static IP address.
This prompted the following chat. Notice how I explicitly tell her that I'm trying to lower my monthly obligations and she is trying to push more services on me.

I am also posting this so that next month when I bill comes, if it doesn't match what she told me, I'll have the transcript ready and can point them to my blog.

----start of chat----
Thank you for choosing AT&T. A representative will be with you shortly.

You are now chatting with Ladrecka.

Curtis Frazier: Hello?

Ladrecka: Hello, How can I assist you

Curtis Frazier: I was reviewing my phone bill. I noticed I'm being charged 14.95 for static IP address for my DSL. How can I get that removed? I never requested nor do I need a staic ip address.

Ladrecka: In order to protect your private information, please provide me with a verification item from the list below.

* 3-digit customer code showing after your account number / telephone number
* Amount of your last payment or last bill amount

Curtis Frazier: xxx - $xx.xx

Ladrecka: I can remove the service, however, if you upgrade to Xtreme 6.0, it will be included and you can take advantage of a higher speed for an additional $5.00 per month. I can set this up for you.

Curtis Frazier: I just want the $14.95 charge for the static ip address removed. I'm trying to lower my bills and obligations.

Ladrecka: I noticed that you qualify for wireless service. I would like to recommend AT&T Nation(SM) with Rollover® Minutes, which will allow unused minutes to carry over from one month to the next. You can add it for $34.99 plus tax per month. This price includes unlimited mobile to mobile calling and 5000 night & weekend minutes, I can set this up today!

Curtis Frazier: No, I just want the $14.95 charge for the static ip address removed. I'm trying to lower my bills and obligations.

Ladrecka: Okay, per your request the Static IP feature has been removed from your account, is there anything else I can assist you with?

Curtis Frazier: Just to be sure, I will no longer be charged $14.95 for the static ip address? Can I get a credit for that amount since I never actually asked for it?

Ladrecka: You will automatically receive a credit on your next bill from the date the serivce was removed until the end of your billing cycle.

Curtis Frazier: But I never requested a static IP address and don't understand why I am charged for a service I never requested and never had a need for.

Ladrecka: Your overall bill reflects all services that you subscribe too, when you had the Xtreme 6.0 this feature was active and no request was made to remove the service.

Curtis Frazier: OK. I just want to be sure you aren't going to charge me more for DSL now since I got the static IP address removed.. right?

Ladrecka: Your DSL service monthly plan will remain the same, I just removed the Static IP service.

Curtis Frazier: But my Total AT&T Internet Service amount I pay should reflect the $14.95 reduction?

Ladrecka: Correct

Curtis Frazier: Also, why is my internet service more this month than it was last month?

Ladrecka: I'm sorry for the delay. I'll be right with you.

Curtis Frazier: In January it was $30.78, this month it is $32.90.

Ladrecka: You received more credits last month for the DSL service.

Curtis Frazier: Why?

Ladrecka: It looks like a discount was added to the account last month, you may have received over the amount intended. Give me just a moment to contact our DSL group.

Ladrecka: It appears that you called back on 12/22 to disconnect the Internet serivce and was offered a discount for 6 months.It was applied after December's bill was generated so, you received the discount for the month of January and a prorated discount amount for December both were applied to January's bill.

Curtis Frazier: OK. Thanks. So, can I expect next months internet bill to be around $17.95 ($32.90 - $14.95)?

Ladrecka: Correct

Curtis Frazier: OK. Thanks.

Ladrecka: Thank you for contacting AT&T. Please use the CLOSE button when you are ready to exit our chat session.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Anniversay of rebound / Backbone of America supports CEO pay

March 9th will mark the one year anniversary of the stock market rebound. I remember back on March 9th, 2000, the forever rally of the 1990's came to an end and we encountered the worse market I had ever seen in my lifetime.

March 9th of 2009 market another major turning point in the markets with the largest rally we've seen this decade.

The question today is what will this March 9th bring knowing the all of our stimulus packages are set to expire in a few months. Will the Obama administration do another one of Bush's moves and grant us all stimulus checks again? It will be interesting to see what happens.

We will have high unemployment and a lot of people are suffering right now. Add to that the credit card companies are really squeezing American's with sky high interest rates. Some of which are above 30%. All of this in a time when America is in a recession.

The very companies that American's bailed out have turned around and hitting us hard to the higher interest rates. This is their way of saying "Thank you." Thank you for bailing us out and now I can get my nice plush bonus payments on top of my already nice salaries. Their companies were saved on the backbone on the American public.