Mike Sylvester on healthcare crisis: Step One – admitting the problem

Fort Wayne Libertarian Mike Sylvester has a good post on the healthcare crisis. Some of his stats:

Healthcare costs are rising 8 – 10% per year and are projected to rise at that rate through 2010.

For 2005 the cost of a comprehensive healthcare plan was $11,480 for a family of 4 for one year.

. . .

The United States currently spends 16% of the entire National GDP on healthcare. This will grow to 20% by 2015. The United States spends the HIGHEST percentage of GDP in the world on healthcare. 2nd and 3rd are Germany and Switzerland at 11% of GDP. In relative terms, we spend 1.5 times as much as the next most expensive country per capita on healthcare. Also please remember that EVERYONE in Germany and Switzerland have free healthcare of some sort.

In the U.S. we spend more and get less than just about anyone in terms of healthcare. We have all the bureaucracy of a government system without the equity that usually comes along with it.

Some links to past healthcare entries in this blog:

  • In Indiana, Rep. Orentlicher seemed to have been taking the lead in developing solutions, according to the minutes of the Select Joint Commission on Medicaid Oversight. He was looking to the Veteran’s Administration as a model for reengineering health care delivery.
  • Healthcare and poverty in Indiana. Hoosiers had the highest rate of “medical bankruptcies” per capita. 9 to 14% of Hoosiers are uninsured. $950 of a family’s annual insurance premium is used to pay for the uninsured. Soon to be ex-representative Troy “I’ll Never Vote For It” Woodruff blamed the problem on Hoosier smoking and obesity.
  • There is an effort to use schools as healthcare delivery centers for children.
  • Too many of our healthcare dollars get spent on bureacracy, wasteful subsidies, and treating catastrophic illnesses that could’ve been nipped in the bud if the patient had been able to afford routine medical care.
  • Eight conservative, good-for-business reasons for a single-payer healthcare system. (Short version: 1. Transaction costs; 2. Employer funding; 3. The basic idea of insurance; 4. Value; 5. Risk cost of receivables; 6. Service quality; 7. Efficiency; 8. Patriotism.)
  • Yeah, I take too many online quizzes

    You Are 55% Left Brained, 45% Right Brained

    The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

    Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

    If you’re left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

    Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

    The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

    Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

    If you’re right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

    Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

    Bad Idea

    Looks like the Coast Guard is considering plans to engage in periodic gun target practice on the Great Lakes. (The linked story is from a Grand Haven, Michigan newspaper.) According to the AP:

    The plan calls for establishing 34 permanent zones over open water a few miles from the Great Lakes shorelines for the shooting exercises. Crew members would fire at floating targets from cutters and small boats using machine guns, rifles and small 9 mm guns, said Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s 9th District in Cleveland.

    Some of the zones are near recreational spots and areas crisscrossed often by pleasure, charter and fishing boats, such as Grand Haven, Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie and the Keweenaw Peninsula. Most are near Coast Guard stations.

    The linked Grand Havens Tribune Story adds:

    Each two- to three-hour practice session will consist of more than 3,000 machine gun volleys, according to 9th District Coast Guard officials. Boaters should tune to VHF-Channel 16 for announcements on when training sessions are scheduled.

    “We’ll be training with M240B machine guns,” said Ninth District Chief Enforcement Commander Gus Wulfkuhle, who estimated the bullets will travel up to 1,500 yards, or slightly less than a mile.

    An Army publication reports the weapon’s range as 4,060 yards, or about 2.3 miles.

    . . .
    “It’s just too close,” Richards said. “I’d be OK with a minimum of 15 or 20 miles offshore but at 5 miles, especially with a wind out of the west, people in the campground, on the beach or in their boats are going to be bombarded by the sound of military fire. We’re just here to relax and enjoy boating. We don’t want to be subjected to machine gun fire. I don’t know where the brains are in this. It’s the most ridiculous idea I’ve heard of in my life.”

    Richards said the idea is “an accident waiting to happen.”

    Well, at least the “training missions” will provide cover when we invade Canada. Oops! I’ve said too much.


    Testing. Since I had to do a bunch of maintenance to my site, I went ahead and installed WordPress. Obviously, I’ll have to do quite a bit of updating to get things in order.


    This site:
    Founded November 14, 2004, this site is generally, but not exclusively, devoted to Indiana politics and related issues. That notwithstanding, whatever I feel is interesting on a given day will likely make its way to the blog.

    Me: My name is Doug Masson. I am an attorney in Lafayette, Indiana. I spent 3 years working for the Indiana General Assembly in the Legislative Services Agency (LSA). LSA is a non-partisan agency responsible for, among other things, researching and drafting proposed legislation as well as maintaining the Indiana Code and the Indiana Administrative Code. While I was there, I was initially a drafter in the Office of Bill Drafting in Research. I was sort of a jack-of-all-trades as far as drafting, generally getting assignments in those areas that did not have specialists — Motor Vehicles, Licensure, Commercial Law, and whatever else was sent my way. I also advised the House Commerce Committee, the House Public Safety Committee, and the House Transportation Committee. Later on, I became a deputy director in the Office of Code Revision where I was primarily involved with editing and printing the legislation prepared by the drafters. We were also responsible for publishing the Indiana Code.

    Since I left LSA in 1999, either my political views have drifted leftward or politicians have drifted rightward — at least on the state and federal level. Local politics do not seem to translate into “left” and “right” quite as much, and so locally I tend to maintain a non-partisan view of local politics. My views tend very much toward the libertarian: stay out of my pocket book and stay out of my bedroom. Balance the budget and respect the Bill of Rights. That said, in terms of national politics, these days my views seem more often aligned with the Democrats and hardly ever with the Republicans.

    Feel free to contact me with any comments, questions, or concerns at blog@masson.us

    The Courier Press is reporting that the GOP may field a challenger to Rep. Dave Crooks.

    Daviess County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Ron Arnold said he is considering a bid for the House District 63 seat in the 2006 election. . . . He ran the family’s grocery and restaurant business until 1998 when he became the executive director of the Daviess County Chamber of Commerce.

    I’m sure Rep. Crooks’ opposition to the Indiana Chamber’s push for Eastern Time plays a part in Mr. Arnold’s interest in running. It sounds like Mr. Arnold has been the beneficiary of some “mysterious” push polls that mention his name.

    Arnold said several people “who I’m sure would like to stay unnamed” have asked him to consider a bid. His name emerged in part due to mystery phone calls going out in the area that mention Arnold in a series of polling questions. Arnold said he’s heard about the polling but that it’s not coming from him.


    Interim study committee on eminent domain recommendation

    Rep. Dvorak has a post on the final meeting of the interim study committee on eminent domain. The eminent domain issue was brought to the fore by the the Supreme Court decision of Kelo v. New London. This was a case where the City of New London was implementing an economic development plan under the provisions of a Connecticut statute. The development plan was a comprehensive plan which, when completed, would have public land and private land components, designed to work in concert to make the city a better place. Kelo was apparently unwilling to sell and, therefore, the City of New London proceeded to use its condemnation powers. Kelo argued that the City couldn’t use its condemnation powers if part of the condemned land was going to be transferred to private developers. The Supreme Court disagreed and stated that the Connecticut law and the City development plan were permissible in that the condemned land was going to a public use and just compensation was being provided for the condemned land.

    In my opinion, most of the coverage and negative reaction to the case has been to the concept of eminent domain generally. Most of the wailing and gnashing of teeth arguments you’ll see would be just as applicable if, say, a utility company was condemning the land instead of the City economic development commission or whatever. It’s fair enough to be against eminent domain generally, but its nothing new. It’s been part of our legal system, probably at least since the Normans invaded England in 1066.

    The final report isn’t online yet, but according to Representative Dvorak, the interim study committee had the following recommendations:

    [The committee] resolved to tighten the definition of an “area needing redevelopment” to something that is beyond doubt a “condemnation-eligible” property.

    This would prevent a normal home or neighborhood from being placed at risk just because someone thinks its location might be a great spot for a new strip mall.

    The Committee also resolved to:

  • revamp the “just compensation” criteria for property taken in eminent domain actions,
  • consider limiting eminent domain only to those instances where there is “no reasonable alternative,”
  • address insufficient attorney’s fees for plaintiffs in eminent domain actions, and
  • specify that “economic development” cannot be defined solely by an increase in tax revenue.
  • I’ll be interested to see the text of the report. I’m not a huge fan of the condemnation power being used lightly, but I don’t really think it makes much sense for the power to be harder to use for a comprehensive development plan like that in Kelo than it is for a park board or a utility company or a railroad or the Dept. of Transportation or an airport authority. I would recommend setting compensation at something like 125% of fair market value to make sure the compensation is actually ‘just.’ Homeowner attorney’s fees would also be in order, but I would tie it somehow to the homeowner being realistic about what the property is actually worth. If the actual fair market value, as determined by a jury or court, is less than the offer (ostensibly 125% of FMV), then no attorney’s fees.

    But, at the end of the day, the authority to set policy about when and how to use the eminent domain power is that of the General Assembly. I’m glad we have a study committee looking at the issue and the General Assembly will decide what changes, if any, need to be made to Indiana law. I really disagree with those who say that the federal Supreme Court should be second guessing the state legislatures on this issue. Similarly, I disagree with the notion that the U.S. Congress should get involved. This is a state issue and should be addressed accordingly.

    Andrea Neal on Tax Amnesty

    The Courier Press has a column by Andrea Neal on the Tax Amnesty. She says that, while it may bring in extra revenue in the short term, it has the potential for encouraging more tax cheats in the future if citizens think there may be another amnesty at some point. In several of the states where tax amnesty was declared as “one time only,” there were actually subsequent amnesties. So, post-amnesty enforcement needs to be stepped up and the legislature should probably earmark some of the revenues from the amnesty for stepped up enforcement in the future.