Category Archives: health care

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Dear FreedomWorks,

I don’t know how you got my email address or whether I just pissed off someone with a really nasty temper who then fraudulently subscribed me on some far-right-wing-nut web page so that I would forever have my in-box filled with solicitations for donations from “true patriots” who want to help “take back our country” and give “grassroots freedom-fighters the tools they need to fight Big Government and protect America’s liberty.”

I do have to ask – by “grass-roots” do you mean the billionaire Koch-financed effort to convert the government into a subsidiary of Koch Industries?

Just wondered.

And did you know that when you say “FreedomWorks” aloud it sounds like “Fweedumwoks” ? Go ahead, try it. It really does. (Which, of course, means Elmer Fudd is actually a furry “true patriot” living on Endor. Think about that.)

Anyway, you emailed me a survey. It didn’t ask any sensible questions so I didn’t respond which is why you decided to send it to me again because you desperately need to know what the most important issues are to me!

Far be it from me to disappoint you.

You asked me to “rank these issues in order of importance (1-5).” Those issues were as follows:

  • Stop libtard bureaucrats from ruining our schools and dumbing down America’s kids with things like science and reasoning skills.
  • No gun control because the civil liberties protected in our Bill of Rights must be protected at all costs. If it’s the 2nd Amendment. The rest can be compromised to protect us from Kenyan Muslim Usurpers.
  • Stop government spending we don’t need it look at Somalia no government so no government spending and they’re doing okay all they need are enough guns and thanks to the 2nd Amendment we got those.
  • Defund ObamaCare: Congress must ensure not one more penny goes to funding that fearsome Godzilla of socialized medicine by spending millions of tax dollars on ineffective votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Defending the House: We the Tin-Foil Hat People must defend the House and prevent another round of Speaker Nancy Pelosi because she’s like a damn comet that keeps circling back and we much prefer Ted Nugent even if he runs in circles like a rabid three-legged dog biting his own tail.

I’m not being critical but for some reason these “issues” somehow – how do I say this with delicacy, hmmmm – seem completely insane and don’t reflect any issue of any importance to any rational human being.

However.

Because you desperately need to know what the most important issues are to me, here they are:

1. Climate change. Won’t we all share a hearty laugh when it turns out to be real and we no longer have a place to live?

2. Money in politics. Seriously – fix that and we can fix #1.

3. Emails from billionaire-funded lunatic fringe groups like FreedomWorks. On second thought, #2 will take care of that.

4. Billionaire-funded lunatic fringe groups like FreedomWorks. Oh, wait. Never mind.

5. Billionaires David and Charles Koch. Oh, wait.

6. Wall Street. Corporate Welfare. Income inequality.

Oops.

Damn.

#2 should be #1, shouldn’t it?

I’m sure you and your billionaire backers agree, right?

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My World and Welcome to it.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson may be the stupidest member of Congress (a difficult goal to achieve but he may, indeed, be the stupidest one of all time despite what you’ve read about Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, and others).

Why am I painfully aware of this? Because he’s from Wisconsin, the state with which I also (as you may have guessed) have some small acquaintance.

In fact, he’s so stupid he even has his own website: ourdumbsenator.com, which induces sufficient astonished face palms to cause whiplash.

His latest display of Tea Party genius: using federal tax dollars to sue the federal government to make his office staff pay more for their health insurance. Then giving them raises (funded with federal tax dollars) to pay for the higher cost of coverage if his lawsuit is successful.

Because it’s all about protecting the taxpayer.

Why People Go Insane Through No Fault of Their Own

Warning: the incident described herein happened before implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the author has absolutely no idea if it will help others in similar circumstances. She hopes so but highly doubts it.

Contrary to what their names imply, health care providers do not exist to give health care and health insurance companies do not exist to offer health insurance.

Nope.

They exist primarily to make the rest of us crazy, with the added benefit of giving the people who work in those industries something to laugh at.

How do I know? I’m one of the rest of us.

I’m at the age when doing the things I used to be able to do – like exercise – is unwise. That’s because I foolishly believe my doctor’s advice that exercise is better for me than sitting on a couch drinking beer and eating doughnuts, which – unlike exercise – has never sent me to the hospital for x-rays and physical therapy.

Which is why I’m now crazy.

Because I ended up with a bill. And learned that physical therapists charge more than K Street lawyers.

I opened it up and learned they charge $519 for a 30 minute session which basically involved insulting my knees, telling me I’m an out-of-shape weakling, and snickering while watching me walk.

They then told me to go home. And come back in two weeks.

Foolishly believing that, because I had health insurance, the charges for therapy would be reasonable, I completed two more sessions.

All three sessions involved the same process. They asked me how I felt. The snickered as they tested my strength. They asked me to demonstrate the assigned exercises. They gave me new ones. They sent me home.

Then I got the first bill.

Keep in mind that no one, no one, could tell me how much my therapy would cost, I just had to promise I would pay, no matter how much it was. That may be why they think they can charge anything they like. And do, including $519 for some guy who’s not even a doctor to tell me my knees point in the wrong direction.

Of course, that’s not what I have to pay. I only have to pay the contracted rate of $368.49. For just one visit. The insurance company doesn’t pay any of it. That’s because we pay thousands of dollars for a top-rated policy.

Under a top-rated policy, after paying thousands of dollars in premiums every year, we get to pay thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses every year until we satisfy the patient obligation. Then, if we suffer a catastrophic illness on December 31st, the insurance company pays all the bills. Until January 1st. When the patient obligation starts all over again.

Of course, I happen to think that $519 (or even $368.49) is a ridiculous amount to charge someone just to ridicule them. Especially when the treatment doesn’t improve things. Which may be intentional. After all, this insures a continued revenue stream.

I, of course, called the health care provider to complain. A staffer, after telling me they can’t tell people what the therapy will cost before giving the therapy, said the manager would call me back to discuss my concerns. I foolishly believed this.

After never hearing from the manager (who may not actually exist), I called my insurance company (foolishly thinking I could find a less expensive option) because their “Explanation of Benefits” or “EOB” (commonly called Form #Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here) says to “call us to estimate treatment costs or to compare cost and quality of in-network health care professionals and facilities.”

The staffer immediately told me they didn’t know the prices and I’d have to call the health care provider to find out.

This is why I’m now crazy. Or would be but I don’t know if I can afford it because nobody will tell me what it would cost.

How I know that I’m not the world’s worst Mom

My children tried to give me that honor many times.  But now I can prove that I’m not.

How? Because I’m not her: “Mom Web Searches Gunshot Wound, Delays Bringing Son to Hospital.”

Poor people using food stamps don’t look poor enough; Republicans propose new rules to address concerns

Continuing his party’s laser-like focus on jobs, (Republican) Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman has decided it’s time to reform the federally-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp program (called “FoodShare” in Wisconsin).

As he announced in his recently released public statement, “Time to Reform Food Stamps,” the primary reason behind reform is that the people receiving assistance just don’t look poor enough to be getting help.

“Observations of people who work in food stores indicate that many people who use food stamps do not act as if they are genuinely poor. Routinely top brand names are purchased instead of generics. Some people claiming to be ‘poor’ might even buy cigarettes – or worse – a beer.

One not-poor person even told me that her cousin’s next-door neighbor’s best friend’s husband can tell who is on food stamps and who is not by what’s in their shopping cart: the ‘poor’ people always buy steak and lobster.

I’ve interviewed people who check out people who pay with food stamps and all felt people on food stamps ate better – or at least more costly – than they did. Food stamp recipients must be getting unreported income, or living with someone with income who social services is unaware of, because it’s apparent that something is wrong. Obviously the average monthly benefit of 116.50 for one person – $26.88 a week! – is far in excess of the amount of assistance actually needed.

And then there’s the issue of appearance. These so-called ‘poor’ people redeem their food stamps with hair that’s been washed and combed and while wearing clothing like you or me instead of rags. While I’m not an anti-poor person fanatic, I’ve always felt that if you can spend money on shampoo and new underwear, you’re not poor.

Another big consideration is weight. Lots of people claiming to be ‘poor’ are fat. Just look at them! In America, unlike other countries, the poor are heavier than the population at large. Poor children are twice as likely to be obese as children who are not poor. Obviously if someone is overweight they get enough to eat – why would they need our financial help to buy more food?

The legislature is always under pressure to increase subsidies for dental care for the poor. It would be doing them a favor to reduce help in that area as well. If they have no teeth, they can’t chew. If they can’t chew, they’ll eat less and thus be able to lose some of those extra pounds – so we could cut back on food stamps and dental care, saving precious tax dollars paid by hardworking taxpayers who aren’t sitting around on their keisters all day feeding at the public trough.

Finally, any program conditioned on lack of income has a certain amount of moral hazard connected with it. Insofar as anything goes in these programs it discourages work. It also encourages cheating to get into the program. We all know that a lack of morals is the cause of a lack of money.

As structured, these programs encourage bad dietary choices, encourage sloth, and insult the hard working because we all know the poor don’t work hard. It’s time for a change.

The easiest way to help poor people to higher income levels is to encourage them to look for better-paying jobs by cutting off their assistance. They’ll be better off in the long run.

Please let me know what you think on this issue. Contact me here in Madison 1-888-534-0058, or in any of the following ways:

Madison Address: P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708-8952
Home Number: 262-338-8061
E-Mail: rep.grothman@legis.state.wi.us”

Do you want fries with that?

That defender of free enterprise, that bastion of corporate capitalism, the esteemed  Wall Street Journal, just published an article detailing a longtime challenge facing McDonald’s: getting its workforce to provide service with a smile.

You read it first at the WSJ: breaking news none of the customers had ever suspected. No one who patronizes the restaurant chain could have known the dark truth that the employees might be “rude or unprofessional.”

The riveting exposé blows the lid off what’s happening behind the counter at McDonald’s: “service is broken.”

In a comprehensive industry comparison of customer service at fast-food chains, McDonald’s consistently tanked.

And of course it has nothing to do with keeping workers part-time, paying minimum wage and offering no benefits. People love jobs like that – especially when it means their skin is permanently saturated with the aroma of eau de fries and they get to wear greasy uniforms.

And of course management understands the problem is completely unrelated to lousy pay.

Nope, highly-paid upper management knows everyone is born with the passionate career goal of “Order Taker” under the bright yellow arches at the home of the revered “Big Mac.”

“The fast-food giant, whose restaurant sales in the U.S. began to slip last year, is pushing franchisees to improve staffing and service amid mounting complaints about rude employees.” Corporate HQ was shocked – shocked! – to learn that “customers find service ‘chaotic.’ “

“But achieving speed and friendliness of service across the chain has been a particularly elusive goal, at least in part because about 90% of McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. are owned by independent operators.”

That’s right, folks, in a stunning tour de force of insightful analysis, the blame lies not with the company, but with the franchisees!

If only the corporation owned all the restaurants! Then lousy service would never be a problem!

McDonald’s declined to make executives available for interviews, and won’t publicly say what it will do to “address complaints,” other than giving top management more big increases in their compensation packages.

When learning that the reason behind the rise in customer complaints could be because customers now have ways to complain, including the email address on food packaging, the CEO immediately demanded who was the meathead who came up with that bright idea.

According to a memo sent to franchisees, the company is doing several things to improve service, such as providing electric shocks for employees who fail to smile and releasing flying monkeys to attack workers who forget to include ketchup packets in orders.

Under a new “dual point” ordering system that is being rolled out nationwide, the customer places an order at one end of the counter. When the order is ready, a “runner” will dash across a bed of hot coals to deliver it, thanking customers and begging them to come again because otherwise workers get an extra beating at the end of their shift.

“Dual point provides personalized one-on-one service. To the customer, we appear friendlier and better organized.”

Madison WI: Somewhere Deep Under the Capitol

Top Secret Strategy Meeting at Scott Walker HQ:

White Guy #1: Listen guys, I’ve called this meeting today because we have a crisis.

White Guy #2: So what else is new?

White Guy #1: Not funny, #2. Listen, last time we convinced the fools – with the help of Koch money – that “it’s working.” Wisconsin was “open for business” and we were “moving in the right direction.” Those “unions” were to blame for a massive deficit – that didn’t really exist – with their outrageous salaries and benefits. And then we told them how we saved “a billion dollars” by ending collective bargaining. But that crap only goes so far. Now we have another budget that screws the little guy while rewarding the wealthy. We have to sell them on it. But how?

White Guy #3: I think we’re in deep do-do here. I, mean, how stupid can they be?

White Guy #2: I think you’re overestimating their intelligence.

White Guy #1: No way – we were pushing the envelope last time.

White Guy #2: Wrong. Do you seriously think anyone who had even an ounce of intelligence would believe a word of what we say at this point? I mean, we kept telling people Walker was focused “like a laser” on jobs as we pushed through an extremist agenda that didn’t have anything to do with the subject! It was masterful! $2.3 billion in tax breaks to special interests. Repeal the equal pay law, repeal consumer protections, repeal tenant rights, roll back reproductive rights, roll back environmental protections, push through tort “reform” that protected businesses and victimized patients! At the same time, we plunged toward the bottom in job creation and economic outlook! Conservatives around the country were in awe! I mean – Scotty told one whopper after another and anytime he got fact-checked, all we had to do was blame it on the liberal media. Look at his record on politifact! I tell you these sheeple are so dumb we could blame poor people for global warming and the masses will not only believe it – they’ll be buying pitchforks and torches.

White Guy #3: No way. Scotty is restricting unemployment benefits, food stamps, health insurance for the needy – that has no fiscal impact on the budget.

White Guy #2: Way.

White Guy #1. Wait a minute … I think #3 might be on to something. Let’s see. The budget is designed to … hmmm —

White Guy #2: Entitlements!

White Guy #1: What?

White Guy #2: Call them entitlements.

White Guy #3: But that’s not accurate!

White Guy #2: Who cares about being accurate?

White Guy #1: Yes, yes, I’m beginning to understand – entitlements and … dependency!

White Guy #2: Now you got it! And use the word “reforms” – sheeple just eat that up.

White Guy #1: Balancing our budget through entitlement reforms! We’re not depriving the needy to give more to the greedy – we’re giving the poor a hand up, not a hand out! Moving them from dependency to independence.

White Guy #3: What? Are you guys nuts? This has nothing to do with the budget! And doesn’t save taxpayers any money! The real problem is Scotty’s corporate welfare! He’s throwing money at special interests and slashing funding for everything else!

White Guy #2 (to Guy #3): Do you like working here?

White Guy #1: It’s brilliant! Blame those non-existent slackers sucking up our tax dollars! We can use random meaningless words like “Freedom”, “Prosperity” and “Independence.” Or better yet: “More Prosperity,” “Better Performance,” and “True Independence.” And PowerPoint! We can dazzle the masses with PowerPoint! You know – lots of charts and bullet points, but no real information, the mindless masses just LOVE that crap. And we can pay for all of the propaganda with tax dollars!

White Guy #2: I beat you to it. Already have it prepared for release. We’ll start with USA Today. I call it “Government dependence not American Dream.”

How many of us grew up with the dream of someday being dependent on the government?

I certainly did not. The idea just seems foreign to the American Dream.

Sadly, there are some in our nation’s capital who measure success in government by how many are dependent on the government. The massive expansion of Medicaid, waivers of work programs for food stamps and the extension of unemployment benefits may all be well-intentioned, but is more government dependence really such a good thing?”

Guy #3: Wait a minute, none of that is true!

Guy #1: Shut up. Go on, #2.

There is dignity in working hard to provide for a future of your own choosing. In turn, it leads to more freedom and more prosperity for all.

Last Wednesday, I introduced a state budget focused on helping people transition from government dependency to true independence.

Our plans forgo the temptation of the temporary financial incentives from Washington to expand Medicaid. Instead, we crafted a plan reducing the number of uninsured in our state by 224,580.

For the rest, we transition them into the private and exchange markets, where the lowest premium starts at $19 per month.”

White Guy #3: That’s not true either!

White Guy #1: I’m not saying this again, #3. Shut up.

White Guy #2 (continuing): “Our budget plans provide employment training for able-bodied childless adults receiving food stamps.

Going forward, more than 75,000 people in our state will be enrolled in job training in order to obtain food stamps.

In addition, we are looking to double the weekly requirement for jobs searches for those on unemployment from two times a week to four or more.”

White Guy #3: But how are people working full-time going to be able to take job training? And how will people in job training be able to look for work at least four times a week? This makes no sense!

White Guy #2 (ignoring the interruption): “It is important to give temporary hand up to those in need, but for those who are able, we should not provide a permanent hand out. Our goal is simple: transition people from government dependence to true independence.

It’s why we celebrate the 4th of July and not April 15th. In our country, we celebrate true independence because more freedom and more prosperity are what drive the American Dream.”

White Guy #3: But it’s all just a load of bull!

White Guy #2: So what’s your point?

Gobsmacked

is exactly how your face feels when you read this:

Woman who had 77-lb. cyst removed thought she’d just been ‘overeating’

And as you wonder how the “77-pound cyst developed undetected.” And want to know how it was possible for her doctor to not. Notice. Anything. Wrong.

Pop Goes the Weasel

Yesterday I did the one thing every woman loves to do above all else: watch helplessly as two plates of glass try to squeeze her breast until it explodes. Not just once, but four times.

It’s called a mammogram. And – amazingly – not only is it legal, it’s medically recommended. And required way too often (every one to two years instead of never again).

Men do not understand why women might not enjoy the process. Even when I tell them to think of it as similar to putting the family jewels into a vise and tightening until the possessor of said jewels hits high C.

I was already not in a good mood because the day before was cancer day. I noticed a suspicious spot on my nose several months ago so did what any sensible person would do. I ignored it. I knew if it wasn’t cancer I’d be okay and if it was cancer I didn’t want to know.

But then I realized that if it was cancer and I kept waiting eventually they might have to remove my nose, leaving me looking like Michael Jackson.

I don’t want to look like Michael Jackson so I stopped waiting, only to learn that I had not just one but two “premalignant lesions” (doctor talk for “jesus that’s a precancerous suspicious spot”) which were frozen off and one “I really don’t like the look of that I’m slicing it off right now with this razor sharp instrument and sending it to be biopsied hold still this really won’t hurt that much.”

So now I have a divot on my leg which – and this is the important part – looks really gross but I have to look at it every day for two weeks when I clean the wound (why is that phrase designed to induce the gag reflex?) and make sure I place a dab of vaseline on it before applying the new bandage and don’t worry that oozing white spot in the center is part of the healing process not puss.

I hyperventilated on the way to the bathroom. “I have to look at something really gross, I have to look at something really gross.” I peeled off the bandage. It was really gross. I couldn’t pass out because I had to go to the hospital.

To get my breasts exploded.

I walked passed the front desk on my way to the radiology department which sent me back to the front desk. Which immediately tried to make me into the wrong person because, in their recent update, someone had deleted my records and made me into someone else. Which, as the hospital staff person made perfectly clear, was completely my fault. And here – put on this wrist band which will make you look silly.

She didn’t like it when I told her if it didn’t let me on any rides I wasn’t going to wear it.

She flung the wrist band at me and sent me back to radiology.

This is when I made a critical error. I went.

Which is why I stood next to the mammogram machine trying not to scream as the lab tech flattened my breasts four times. Two times each. And I let her.

But I had to wonder: what kind of person wakes up one morning and decides this is what they really want to do in life.

One of life’s little oddities

The hospital sends a thank you card to your home after you’ve been discharged.

Think about it. What they are really saying is “Gee, thanks for having a medical emergency.”

I don’t think Hallmark makes a card for that.