Al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo treated better than our vets

GITMO

Al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo treated better than our vets

 

President Obama finally addressed the nation Wednesday about the growing scandal at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. After meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki he pledged to hold folks accountable.

Thanks, Mr. President.

By now most American have heard about the VA’s infamous patient “secret wait lists” which reportedly contributed to the deaths of up to 40 veterans in the Phoenix area alone. Those patriots were American heroes who served our country proudly. Yet they were left to die waiting to see a doctor.

While the Gitmo ratio is 1.5 to 1, for America’s 9 million veterans receiving VA health care and 267,930 VA employees, the ratio is 35 to 1.

Here’s another secret the White House doesn’t want you to know about the VA. Al Qaeda detainees get better medical treatment than our veterans.

Say what?

Yes, it’s true. I know because I served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005-2009 and visited Guantanamo Bay Naval Base over 30 times during those years.

Despite the fact that Al Qaeda terrorists carried out the Sept. 11 terror attacks, killing 3,000 people in America, the admitted co-conspirators and their roughly 150 fellow jihadists at Gitmo have approximately 100 doctors, nurses and health care personnel assigned to them.

Doctors and medical personnel are at their beck and call.  Got a cold, a fever, a toothache, a tumor, chest or back pain, mental health issues, PTSD?  No problem, come right on in. Military doctors are waiting to see you.

The VA and Gitmo eligible patient-to-health care provider ratios speak volumes.

While the Gitmo ratio is 1.5 to 1, for America’s 9 million veterans receiving VA health care and 267,930 VA employees, the ratio is 35 to 1.

But beyond the Gitmo numbers, the situation at the VA is also a bright, shining example of misguided priorities and terrible mismanagement.

In late 2008, when Obama was  president-elect, he and his staff were warned not to trust the wait times reported by VA health care facilities. But instead of fixing the problem, their focus was closing Guantanamo and improving the comfort of detainees. Even though they already lived under some of the best prison conditions ever seen.

Richard Sivage copy

While some who see “2008” may reflexively say, “blame Bush, not Obama” the fact is that the VA’s health system has been fatally flawed for years, regardless of who has been the president.

The VA is a classic example of big government gone wild. It is America’s second largest cabinet agency after the Defense Department. Since civil service promotions are traditionally based more on seniority than performance, and it’s near impossible to fire anyone, there’s a punch-the-clock mentality that’s pervasive. Not surprisingly, there’s little to no sense of urgency. So to instill incentives, the VA shells out high salaries and bonuses, deserved or not.

According to a Fox News report, Phoenix VA hospital paid staff up to $357,000 for doctor executives and $147,000 for nursing staff.  On average, doctors and nurses in Phoenix make just over half those figures.

Meanwhile, the gardening budget at Phoenix VA hospital was over $180,000 in 2013. The facility also spent $211,000 on interior design over the past three years.

If any government entity ever needed a complete overhaul, it’s the VA.  If it were in the private sector, it would have been shuttered long ago.

Today’s VA has near zero accountability, while labor unions fight to protect employees who aren’t doing their jobs. Shinseki and his senior staff should be the first to go.

President Obama needs to refocus his priorities. There must be less time, effort and energy caring for Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Gitmo and much more attention put on caring for America’s veterans.

Our veterans have served the nation proudly. In many cases they were gravely wounded during their service and now will require a lifetime of medical support. Every one of them deserves better.

 

J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy Commander who served as a Pentagon spokesman in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2005-09. He serves as senior adviser to several Washington-based think tanks.

Christian alternative to ObamaCare growing fast as deadline nears

HEALTH CARE

Christian alternative to ObamaCare growing fast as deadline nears

By 

Published March 03, 2014

FoxNews.com

With just weeks left to sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, a growing number of people are opting to enroll in a Christian alternative to traditional health insurance.

Nationwide networks of fellow believers help share each other’s major medical bills through what’s known as health care sharing ministries.

“It works just like insurance. I have an insurance card. I show it just like anyone else would. I have a deductible. I have a monthly premium that I pay,” explained Eileen Wade, who joined the health care sharing ministry, Medi-Share, in 2011.

The nation’s three largest ministries boast more than 242,000 members, spanning all 50 states, who agree to live so-called biblical lifestyles — meaning regular church attendance; no drugs, tobacco, or sex outside of marriage; and limited alcohol consumption.

This kind of healthier lifestyle helps keep monthly premiums lower than that of other health insurers for most members.

“There’s definitely an economic benefit, a windfall if you would, by living healthier lives,” said Medi-Share’s CEO, Tony Meggs.

Each of the ministries varies a bit in what they will and won’t cover, but all are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s fines on those without health insurance.

Under the plans, families or individuals generally are responsible for regular medical costs — like annual check-ups. And bills for unexpected illnesses or accidents are eligible for “sharing” by the group.

Critics, though, say because the ministries aren’t technically insurance providers, they’re not legally obligated to pay any of the medical bills that are submitted.

They also don’t come with the same kind of protections and promises that come with traditional health insurance, according to Ron Pollack, who is the executive director of Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group.

“If you know you’re not going to get sick, if you know you’re not going to have an accident, this could work out very well. The problem is none of us can guarantee that, and we want insurance that really insures,” Pollack said.

Each of the ministries is very upfront that there are no guarantees of payment for medical bills, but Meggs said those concerns are exaggerated, and that in 21 years Medi-Share has only had a handful of complaints related to coverage.

The programs are only getting more popular.

Since the launch of HealthCare.gov on Oct. 1, membership at each of the ministries has exploded, with nearly 30,000 new enrollees — more than the number of people who selected a plan through ObamaCare in 24 states.

In addition to the exemption from ObamaCare, Meggs said a big draw for members is the ministries’ health plans don’t cover many of the more controversial procedures that are covered under the Affordable Care Act, such as abortion.

“Some of the qualifying plans in the Affordable Care Act are going to violate their conscience with some of the services that are mandated that the insurance plans cover. I think they’re going to be looking at health care sharing ministries as an alternative,” Meggs told FoxNews.com.

Garrett Tenney is a correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in April 2013 and is based in the Chicago bureau.

Michelle Obama: ‘Young people are knuckleheads’

tonight show

Michelle Obama: ‘Young people are knuckleheads’

BY CHARLIE SPIERING | FEBRUARY 21, 2014 AT 9:01 AM

On the “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon, First Lady Michelle Obamaexplained that it was more important than ever for young people older than 26 to sign up for health insurance.

“A lot of young people think they’re invincible, but the truth is young people are knuckleheads,” she laughed, pointing out that they often cut themselves while cooking or injure themselves by dancing on bar stools.

Obama added that thanks to Obamacare, coverage for young people was much cheaper.

“Now young people can get insurance for as little as $50 a month, less than the cost of gym shoes,” she explained.

Fallon pointed out that the website healthcare.gov was actually “up and running.”

 

The First Lady joined a skit with comedian Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon, who played two awkward girls hosting a talk show called “Ew!”

Obama explained to the two “girls” that it was important to keep moving, and the program quickly evolved into a dance party.

She also explained that potato chips were “ew” and encouraged them to eat kale chips instead, because they were high in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Doctor’s Office Spends 2 Hours On Hold With Health Insurer For Patient’s Surgery Authorization.

Doctor’s Office Spends 2 Hours On Hold With Health Insurer For Patient’s Surgery Authorization

January 3, 2014 8:19 AM

 

Certified Enrollment Specialist, Marlene Nesmith, waits on the HealthCare. gov website that reads, "HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors right now!" as she waits for it to allow her entry into the Affordable Care Act website at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Center on Dec. 20, 2013 in Miami, Fla. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Certified Enrollment Specialist, Marlene Nesmith, waits on the HealthCare. gov website that reads, “HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors right now!” as she waits for it to allow her entry into the Affordable Care Act website at a Miami Enrollment Assistance Center on Dec. 20, 2013 in Miami, Fla. (credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (AP) — The new year brought relief to some Illinois patients newly insured under the nation’s health care law. Others still weren’t sure whether they were covered, despite their best efforts to navigate the often-balky new system.

The major benefits of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul took effect Wednesday, the first day of 2014. By Thursday, the first business day of the new insurance system, it became clear that snags in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act still remained.

On the plus side, the law’s protections mean consumers can no longer be denied coverage if they’re in poor health. New limits on how much insured patients must pay for care will mean fewer bankruptcies after catastrophic illnesses. Insurance plans must offer a minimum level of essential benefits, and care such as flu shots and mammograms will be fully covered without cost to patients.

But early problems with the federal HealthCare.gov website led many people to wait until last week to sign up, and insurers are still processing enrollment forms.

Paperwork problems almost delayed suburban Chicago resident Sheri Zajcew’s scheduled surgery Thursday, but Dr. John Venetos decided to operate without a routine go-ahead from the insurance company. That was after Venetos’ office manager spent two hours on hold with the insurer Thursday, trying to get an answer about whether the patient needed prior authorization for the surgery. The office manager finally gave up.

“I’m not a happy camper,” said Nate Zajcew, the patient’s husband. The couple signed up for a Blue Cross Blue Shield bronze plan through the federal HealthCare.gov site on Dec. 16. “I understand it’s just a matter of paperwork and yesterday was a holiday. I can be an SOB, too, at times, but since they’re going on with the procedure, it’s OK.”

Venetos, a Chicago digestive system specialist, described “tremendous uncertainty and anxiety” among patients calling his office recently. Some thought they’d signed up for coverage but hadn’t received insurance cards yet. Others had insurance policies that were canceled and weren’t sure if their coverage had been reinstated after Gov. Pat Quinn decided to allow one-year extensions of canceled plans.

Venetos said he has decided to take a risk and provide care for these patients, at least until there’s less confusion about coverage.

“We feel it’s the right thing to do,” Venetos said. “We may end up stuck holding the bag and not getting paid on these claims.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, which has the most customers in the state’s individual market, has been adding staff and extending call center hours to keep up with demand. “Every week we’re adding staff to our call centers and we’re also enhancing our call routing features to better serve our customers,” said spokesman Greg Thompson.

In the southern Illinois city of Benton, 61-year-old Nancy Pace spent part of New Year’s Day calling Blue Cross Blue Shield to make certain she and her husband were covered by the silver plan they chose on the troubled federal insurance website. “When you get to where it says ‘Pay for your policy,’ well, that button doesn’t work,” Pace said.

Calling the insurance company worked: Pace paid and got her member number over the phone.

“I made a phone call. I pushed the right button and got a live person,” she said.

Pace, a stroke survivor, said she hasn’t had good insurance since her husband lost his job when the mining machinery plant where he worked closed in 2005. The Affordable Care Act means better health care for her and her husband, she said, but she has doubts.

“My biggest concern is, how long is this going to last? How long can our country bear this expense?” Pace said. “It’s a benefit for us right now. But I don’t see how it can possibly be sustainable. … Am I going to use it? You bet I am. For one thing, it’s a law. I don’t have a choice.”

‘They had no idea if my insurance was active or not!’: Obamacare confusion reigns as frustrated patients walk out of hospitals without treatment

  • MailOnline spoke with patients who were told they would have to pay their bills in full if they couldn’t prove they had insurance
  • One was faced with a $3,000 hospital room charge and opted to leave the hospital after experiencing chest pains
  • ‘Should I be in the hospital? Probably,’ she said
  • Another, coughing in the cold, walked out without receiving a needed chest x-ray
  • Consumers face sticker-shock from medical costs under the new Obamacare system, made worse if they can’t prove they’re insured
  • As many as one-third of new enrollees’ applications have seen problems when the government transmits them to insurance companies

 

Obama Blames Economy on ‘Bad Decisions’

Obama Blames Economy on ‘Bad Decisions’

9:49 AM, FEB 2, 2013 • BY DANIEL HALPER
 In his weekly address, President Barack Obama blamed the economic problems on “bad decisions.”
 “[T]his week, we also received the first estimate of America’s economic growth over the last few months.  And it reminded us that bad decisions in Washington can get in the way of our economic progress,” said Obama, presumably referring to the uptick in unemployment from 7.8 percent to 7.9 percent and the news that the economy contracted in the final quarter of last year.

The president did not name which decisions were “bad,” and who specifically was to blame for those “bad decisions.” But he did blame Washington. 

“2013 can be a year of solid growth, more jobs, and higher wages.  But that will only happen if we put a stop to self-inflicted wounds in Washington.  Everyone in Washington needs to focus not on politics but on what’s right for the country; on what’s right for you and your families.  That’s how we’ll get our economy growing faster.  That’s how we’ll strengthen our middle class.  And that’s how we’ll build a country that rewards the effort and determination of every single American,” said Obama.

Obama reiterated his support for a “balanced approach” going forward.

“We all agree that it’s critical to cut unnecessary spending.  But we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  It hasn’t worked in the past, and it won’t work today.  It could slow down our recovery.  It could weaken our economy.  And it could cost us jobs – now, and in the future,” said Obama.

“What we need instead is a balanced approach; an approach that says let’s cut what we can’t afford but let’s make the investments we can’t afford to live without.  Investments in education and infrastructure, research and development – the things that will help America compete for the best jobs and new industries.”

Medical Company Blames ‘Obamacare’ For Layoffs Of Nearly 100 People

February 1, 2013 2:01 PM
President Barack Obama signs the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va., on March 30, 2010. (credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama signs the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va., on March 30, 2010. (credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CBSDC) — A medical company is blaming President Obama’s health care law for the layoffs of nearly 100 people.

Smith & Nephew says a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices in the “Obamacare” law caused the layoffs in the Memphis and Andover, Mass., offices.

“The nearly $30 billion tax on medical devices that took effect Jan. 1, 2013, has impacted a number of companies across the U.S.,” the company said in a statement to WHBQ-TV.

Joe Metzger, senior vice president of corporate communications for the company, tells theMemphis Business Journalthat they were “not immune” to the tax burden.

“Unfortunately, and in order to absorb this cost burden into our business, this has meant less than 100 positions have been made redundant across various departmental functions in our Tennessee and Massachusetts sites,” Metzger told the Business Journal. “The company is providing the affected employees with a comprehensive severance package and outplacement support.”

The Business Journal reports that the company announced last February it would lay off 7 percent of its workforce worldwide.

The tax took effect on Jan. 1.

Unemployment rises again.

The new year started off with an old story: Employment grew again in January but not at a pace able to lower the jobless rate.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 157,000 for the first month of 2013 while the unemployment rate edged higher to 7.9 percent, news unlikely to alter the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy or instill confidence that the recovery is gaining steam.

Economists were looking for 160,000 net new jobs created with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.8 percent.