Goodbye Barry - Welcome Home AMERICA!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Correcting just the end product of health care is not the answer to America's health care "problem". Health care is indeed a problem, but the problem is systemic and must be attacked at all levels, not just at the hospital level. However, in order to correct the system we must first correct GREED at the individual and corporate level.

How do we do that? In reality, we probably cannot/will not because everybody likes money. For me, personally, I have never made so much money that I ever had an excess of it. I have owned some nice cars in my life, but they were bought used, owned one at a time, and financed for YEARS. I do not own any stocks or bonds, nor do I belong to a country club. I have been fortunate enough to live indoors all my life, but never in opulence (unless you compared my domicile to the ones in some 3rd world ghetto... a Somali native might consider my abode to be opulent by comparison to his). I have never really known "want", but like most working-class Americans, I have always had sufficient. I have always been able to afford everything I truly need, and most of the things I have wanted but could have lived without. I suppose you could call me "content" with my lot in life. Don't misunderstand me though - I am not the reincarnation of Mother Teresa - if I were to win the lottery I would not refuse the money, but I rarely buy a lottery ticket, and I don't worry about not winning. I like to think of myself as "Joe Average" in most respects. Now let's get to the GREED problem...

For many people in this world there is no such word as "enough" - it simply does not exist in their vocabulary. This is a big part of the health care problem, and many other "social ills", but we do not correct it by redistribution of the wealth. That which an individual has earned (through honest and noble means) as the fruits of his/her labors entitles them to enjoy that wealth, however massive or paltry it may be. On the other hand, what honest and noble human being walking the face of this Earth produces fruits worth $10,000,000 or more per annum, other than perhaps the founder of his/her own corporation? There is no level of hired management worth that kind of money! But our major corporations pay that much and more for CEO's, CFO's, COO's and other executives, ostensibly because "they can't get the best and brightest for less" . On top of their obscene salaries, they get expense accounts, stock options, bonuses, company cars/limousines, (and in some cases drivers)/airplanes, and health, dental, life and vision insurance as part of their compensation packages.

If the government feels the need to get involved in something in industry, that would be a good starting point, but the government's job is to regulate industry, not manage it. Therefore the Congress would need to pass legislation something to the effect of:

1. No executive compensation packages worth more than $2,000,000 TOTAL - in any industry. That would eliminate the possibility of one industry "raiding" another for top executives, and anybody should be able to live very nicely on $2,000,000 per year!

2. No "Golden Parachutes" for any executive who is terminated for cause, or who fails to live up to the terms of his/her contract, or who has not increased the market value of the corporation by at least 15% during his/her tenure. Naturally there would be no "Golden Parachutes" for executives who left or were discharged from a failing corporation. We do not reward failure!

3. Corporate stockholders would receive a fair return on their investments, of say 20% - not to exceed $1,000,000 per year in total cash value regardless of the amount of corporate stock held. It would be against the law for American corporations or private investors to invest outside the United States of America.

4. Manufacturers of durable goods items, such as automobiles, appliances, and medical equipment, would have a restricted wholesale markup of not more than 20% of the total manufacturing cost. Retailers of those items would likewise be held to a 20% markup over and above their acquisition cost.

5. Union labor compensation package rates would be reduced to the average level of non-union workers performing the same work within the state where they are employed, plus 20%. A union member may be terminated at any time for just cause, as would any non-union employee, and a union member will enjoy no more recourse than that which would be available to the non-union worker.

6. Successful corporations would pay bonuses equal to one weeks earnings to all employees twice a year. Corporations posting losses during the fiscal year would correct those losses by replacing marketing and sales personnel beginning with executives - unless the product was found to be defective. If sales were down due to defective or inferior merchandise, Quality Control and responsible production workers would be replaced.

7. Outsourcing American jobs to foreign countries would be eliminated, thereby reducing our unemployment rates. Any corporation with existing foreign operations would be allowed to maintain that operation for 5 years, however those corporations would be required to pay to the state(s) in which they have production facilities, full U.S. unemployment benefits for each job created in those foreign countries on a worker-for-worker basis. One hundred employees in Sri Lanka would mean that Corporation "X" would have to pay full unemployment compensation for 100 unemployed Americans in the USA, even if they do not have production facilities in the USA.

Health Industry Specific Requirements
Items 1 through 3 and five through 7, as outlined above, would apply throughout the Health Care Industry. Additionally:

8. A cap of $500,000 maximum payment per medical malpractice lawsuit would be established.

9. Doctors working in a hospital/clinic/urgent care environment would be salaried. General Practitioners would be compensated at the after-tax rate of $1,250 per week and would work no more than 50 hours per week. Specialists would be compensated at the after-tax rate of $1,500 and work no more than 50 hours per week. Nursing Staff would be compensated at the after-tax rate of $875 per week, and work no more than 50 hours per week. Support personnel would be paid at the prevailing rate for their employment type within that state.

10. Medical Schools may charge no more than $150,000 for any training provided, to be repaid by the student over a period of not less than 20 years.

11. Health Insurance will be made available nationwide - from any state to any state. For example, all health insurance companies will be able to offer coverage in any of the 50 United States, thereby increasing competition to give the consumer the best value for his/her money.

12. Health Insurance companies may charge, based on reliable actuary data, at a rate not to exceed $10.00 per month per $1,000 of potential annual loss, based upon all physical contributing factors, such as age, sex, weight, race, general physical health at the time of application, pre-existing conditions, use of tobacco, alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, and the potential for loss over the length of the contract.

13. All prescription medicines offered for sale by pharmaceutical companies will be sold at a global rate, not to exceed the rate billed to the poorest of nations.

14. Corporate R&D costs will be recouped over a 5 year period via a tax credit of 20% of the total R&D cost per year, per new product. R&D costs will not be passed along to the consumer.

15. Hospitals/clinics/urgent care facilities providing over the counter (OTC) medicines or medical supplies (i.e. - aspirin, band-aids)can charge for those medicines and/or supplies at a rate not to exceed five times the per unit cost for said medicines and/or supplies.

This is certainly not meant to be the "be all and end all" of health care system regulation, but it could provide someone more intelligent than I with a "jumping off point". And, by the time our legislators - 95% of whom are lawyers - got through rewording and earmarking it, these 15 items would have been transmogrified into 1500 PAGES of government regulation!

There is certainly a remote chance that I could be "fulla" in this area, since I am neither a health care professional nor a lawyer. It just seems to me that something that appears to be so simple doesn't have to become Labyrinthine as it passes through the House and Senate!

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