Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Monday, November 30, 2009

Can You Find a Medicare Physician?

Elderly doctor making notes

As our elected representatives rush toward national health insurance, I keep reading reports of physicians opting out of Medicare. I’m not surprised – Medicare pays physicians considerably less than their costs. Yes, the government expects physicians to lose money providing medical care.

"Government payers, without question, are the worst payers in health care," said John Rivers, president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. "Medicare shortfalls in hospital payments represent nearly $1 billion in Arizona alone. And those costs ultimately get shifted onto the backs of privately insured individuals in the form of a hidden health-care tax." As a result, the five physicians at the Mayo Clinic in Arrowhead, AZ practice will stop taking Medicare payments for primary-care services, effective Jan. 1, 2010. This will affect about 3,000 seniors. Five doctors have practices at the clinic. Multiply this across the nation and you get an idea of the impact of the monopoly the government already has on health care. This impact will increase over the next few years as the first of the Baby Boom generation, estimated at more than 78 million, begins to turn 65 in 2011 and qualifies for the nation's largest insurance program for seniors. The Medicare Board of Trustees has predicted that the program will be bankrupted by 2017.

This trend is exacerbating another equally disturbing trend. There is a shortage of internists nationally — the American College of Physicians, the organization for internists, estimates that by 2025 there will be 35,000 to 45,000 fewer than the population needs — and internists are increasingly unwilling to accept new Medicare patients.

So here’s the question: have you or your aging parent had difficulty in finding a Medicare physician? If so, how have you solved the problem?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Fiction Friday: Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana

After reviewing a number of high-tension books recently, it was fun to read Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss. If you need a book to simply escape for a while, this is it. It’s 1889 and Julia Cavanaugh travels west on the orphan train from New York City to unite orphans in her care with new families. To her horror, she discovers that she's to be "delivered," too—as bride to an uncouth miner! But with no return fare, Julia's options are bleak.
What does God have planned for her on the lonesome prairies of Montana?

Reminiscent of the early Jeanette Oke historical novels, Lonesome Prairie is a sweet, but predictable story. The conflicts are simple rather than life and death. But all in all, it’s an enjoyable and entertaining read.

The authors, Tricia and Ocieanna, have put together one humdinger of a contest for this blog tour! Enter the Fall in Love With Lonesome Prairie Contest and WIN a perty Montana Gift Basket! To enter, simply fill out the entry form, (then tell 5 or more friends about the contest)! The winner will be announced December 14th, just in time for an old-fashioned Montana Christmas. Giddy-up!

The Winner of our ‘Fall in Love with Lonesome Prairie’ giveaway will receive a fantastic Montana Gift Basket, including:
*Winter fleece throw
*Huckleberry chocolate bar
*Paula Dean candle
*Burt’s Bees gift set
*Wild Huckleberry taffy
*Montana stationary notebook
*Montana greeting card set
*Montana ball cap
*Montana apron
*Montana refrigerator magnet
*Charlie Russell 2010 Montana Calendar


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm wishing all of my loyal readers a blessed Thanksgiving today. What are you thankful for today? I’m thankful for:
  • Jesus, who redeemed me and has given me 34 years of hope
  • Family, especially a wonderful husband, son and daughter-in-love
  • America, and the opportunities we still have to live in freedom and prosper
  • Our Constitution, which provides the framework for freedom.
  • Abundance, even in this time of recession
  • A ministry where I see lives changed with great regularity
  • The opportunity to finally go to seminary!
I pray that whatever your situation today, you will find a way to praise and thank our Heavenly Father for his many benefits. We are still more blessed than any other nation on earth.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Fiction Friday: One Perfect Day

Just in time for Christmas, my friend Lauraine Snelling, weaves an emotional tale of two mothers, each a stranger to each other, whose lives are changed forever in a single moment.

Nora Peterson is determined to make this Christmas perfect. Next year her twin teenagers will head off to college. Their lives will never be the same. With her husband on a business trip abroad Nora’s nerves are already frazzled when she received news of an auto accident that will not only change the Petersons’ lives forever, but also those of another family whom they’ve never met.

As a nurse, Jenna Montgomery has always struggled with balancing her personal and professional life. Her daughter, Heather, has suffered from a heart defect for most of her life. Now that Heather is twenty and still on the organ transplant list, Jenna must find a way to accept that this is likely their last Christmas together. Then the miracle Jenna has desperately prayed for becomes a reality in an instant and Heather’s health is restored.

While Nora struggles with depression and grief, Jenna discovers that miracles aren’t always easy to receive. As a mother myself, I resonated with the emotions of both mothers in this story—the joys, the sorrows, the worry. It’s a delightful book, especially for this season.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Feel Whiny

Do you ever feel whiny when dealing with your aging parents? I’m in such a season right now. We were at Mom’s for four days last week. In addition to the usual medical appointments, we dealt with a variety of issues around the house. Calls she has postponed making for at least two months. Paperwork she didn’t know what to do with. Plumbing problems. TV problems. Took a small pile of “stuff” to Goodwill. All in all, it was a busy week. When we got home, Hubby and I were exhausted and of course, way behind on our work.

Add to that Mom’s constant talking about the wonderful sibs who don’t do much for her. It’s a replay of my childhood – do the work, but the others are the favorites. Especially the boys. She had pulled a scrapbook from the first twenty or so years of her marriage, which I read through. It confirmed many of my memories of being the “responsible” one while she became less and less capable as life got more difficult. That triggered a lot of negative feelings.

Tonight when I talked to her, she commented on how my (poor) brothers can’t help much because they work, after all. Hello! I work and go to school. And live the farthest away! But because I’m self-employed, my work isn’t really work. Excuse me? I probably put in more work hours than the brothers, plus school.

Mom has lots of aches and pains that doctors keep trying to address. The reality is that they’re probably more emotional than physical. But if a doctor does something that doesn’t work, or heaven forbid, makes things worse – guess who gets blamed?

OK, I know I’ve never been the favorite – or even 4th favorite. And I know that she’s beginning to skip a mental beat more and more often. And I know that she doesn’t have the social skills and emotional maturity to realize what she’s doing or how it hurts. But darn, I’m tired. I’m discouraged. I’m whiny. I’d just like someone to say, “Good job. Thanks.” I’ll be better tomorrow. I hope….


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Friday, November 13, 2009

Fiction Friday: Lost Mission

Provocative. Penetrating. Painful. Lost Mission by Athol Dickson is haunting story that will remain with you long after you’ve read the last page.

What secret legacy awaits deep beneath the barrios and wealthy enclaves of Southern California? In a story that spans from the late 1770s to the present time, we meet:
  • A Spanish friar compelled to bring the gospel to the Indians of New Spain
  • An illegal immigrant desperate to feed his family.
  • A billionaire driven mad by grief.
  • A pastor in love with the wrong woman.
Only Lupe de la Garza, a humble shopkeeper compelled by God to leave her tiny village deep in Mexico to preach in America, can save them from the ancient evil lurking in a lost mission's ruins, but it will take an act of faith beyond all human power.

An idyllic Spanish mission collapses in the eighteenth century atop the supernatural evidence of a shocking crime. Twelve generations later the ground is opened up, the forgotten ruins are disturbed, and rich and poor alike confront the onslaught of resurging hell on earth. Will the evil that destroyed the Misión de Santa Dolores rise to overwhelm them?

This book is a compelling read. I was both captivated and disturbed from beginning to end. The various threads flowed at several levels, playing with my mind and emotions in the midst of a well-written story. But I realized that Dickson had used the ploy so common in film and fiction today. The protagonist—Lupe—is an illegal alien who broke the law to enter the US in order to preach Catholicism based on an icon to pagan, Protestant America. The Christians in the story are stereotypical--a wealthy man whose grief-decisions are characterized as greedy and a young pastor who breaks the law to serve illegals. I found that approach disturbing and left the book feeling manipulated.

See the other entries on this blog tour at


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

But Can You Find a Doctor?

Thinkstock Single Image Set

Saturday night in a rare special session, the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the Pelosi health care bill in by a slim margin of 220 to 215. This bill, if passed by the Senate, will allow the government to take over approximately one sixth of the American economy. However, that’s not the whole story.

Have you tried to get a doctor for a Medicare patient lately? Increasingly I’m hearing of people having problems even finding a doc who will take Medicare. And if you can’t find a doc, what good will even the best medical insurance do you? A friend experienced this recently. After years of having no health care, she finally got Medicare through Social Security disability. We were thrilled--until she tried to find a physician. You see, since Medicare pays only 80 cents on the dollar, physicians lose money treating Medicare. If they have limited hours available, expensive malpractice insurance, a huge office staff necessary to process the Medicare and insurance requirements… who will they fill a slot with? Since there’s already a physician shortage in many parts of the country, can you blame them for making the best business decisions they can? But if things are bad now, the health care bill will make it worse.

Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, wrote an excellent Wall Street Journal article called The Coming Shortage of Doctors: Our aging population is challenge enough. Try to get an appointment after health-care reform. He mentions several critical points:

• If the doctor shortage is not addressed and health-care reform is signed into law, millions of Americans will likely find themselves able to obtain insurance for the first time—but may be unable to find a doctor without a long delay. Why? Because expanding the number of insured patients but not the number of doctors will only increase the demand for services that already must meet the demands of an aging population.

• Even in the absence of health-care reform, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a shortage of at least 125,000 physicians by 2025, when the number of people over 65 will have increased by about 75% of what it is today—to 64 million from 37 million today.

• Doctors are also aging. By 2020, as many as one-third of the physicians currently practicing will likely retire.

I wish our esteemed lawmakers would understand the problem before they try to “fix” it!


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Friday, November 06, 2009

Let Your Voice Be Heard. Today

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Fiction Friday: The Missionary

Yesterday David Eller was an American missionary serving the poor in Venezuela. Today he's an international fugitive.

If you like 24 or Alias, you’ll love The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert. It’s a novel of international espionage with a Christian twist. And it’s a real page-turner.

David Eller rescues impoverished children in Caracas, Venezuela, with his wife, Christie. But for David, that isn't enough. The supply of homeless children is endless because of massive poverty and the oppressive policies of the Venezuelan government.

When the CIA gives David an opportunity to do something more-to heal the disease rather than working on the symptoms-he decides to go for it. But little by little, he falls into an unimaginable nightmare of espionage, ending in a desperate, life-or-death gamble to flee the country with his wife and son.

Was he wrong to resort to the political solution?
And was it really the CIA that asked him to get involved?


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Reading Guide to the Pelosi Health Care Reform Bill

Mike Pence is running for Congress in the 6th District of Indiana. He may be one of the few politicians who has actually read the 1990 page Pelosi health “reform” legislation (H.R. 3962) introduced by House Democrats. The following notes were posted on his Facebook page. Today the AMA and AARP endorsed this bill. Speaker Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Saturday morning. Is this the bill you want for yourself, your parents, and your children? Forever? If not, please contact your Representative today.

Page 94—Section 202(c) prohibits the sale of private individual health insurance policies, beginning in 2013, forcing individuals to purchase coverage through the federal government.

Page 110—Section 222(e) requires the use of federal dollars to fund abortions through the government-run health plan—and, if the Hyde Amendment were ever not renewed, would require the plan to fund elective abortions.

Page 111—Section 223 establishes a new board of federal bureaucrats (the “Health Benefits Advisory Committee”) to dictate the health plans that all individuals must purchase —and would likely require all Americans to subsidize and purchase plans that cover any abortion.

Page 122—Section 233(a)(3) requires the Commissioner—the new insurance “czar”—to “issue guidance on best practices of plain language writing”—this from the same people who wrote a 1,990 page health care bill.

Page 183—Section 305(a) gives the Commissioner the power to enlist “appropriate entities” like Planned Parenthood and ACORN to engage in “outreach to specific vulnerable populations” about the bill’s new programs.

Page 211—Section 321 establishes a new government-run health plan that, according to non-partisan actuaries at the Lewin Group, would cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their existing coverage.

Page 216—Section 322(b)(3) prohibits “any federal funds for purposes of insolvency” from being directed toward the government-run health plan—an anti-bailout provision that may seem implausible given Democrats’ role in advancing legislation to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Page 225—Section 330 permits—but does not require—Members of Congress to enroll in government-run health care.

Page 255—Section 345 includes language requiring verification of income for individuals wishing to receive federal health care subsidies under the bill—while the bill includes a requirement for applicants to verify their citizenship, it does not include a similar requirement to verify applicants’ identity, thus encouraging identity fraud for undocumented immigrants and others wishing to receive taxpayer-subsidized health benefits.

Page 297—Section 501 imposes a 2.5 percent tax on all individuals who do not purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health insurance— the tax would apply on individuals with incomes under $250,000, thus breaking a central promise of then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign.

Page 313—Section 512 imposes an 8 percent “tax on jobs” for firms that cannot afford to purchase “bureaucrat-approved” health coverage; according to an analysis by Harvard Professor Kate Baicker, such a tax would place millions “at substantial risk of unemployment”—with minority workers losing their jobs at twice the rate of their white counterparts.

Page 336—Section 551 imposes additional job-killing taxes, in the form of a half-trillion dollar “surcharge,” more than half of which will hit small businesses; according to a model developed by President Obama’s senior economic advisor, such taxes could cost up to 5.5 million jobs.

Page 520—Section 1161 cuts more than $150 billion from Medicare Advantage plans, potentially jeopardizing millions of seniors’ existing coverage.

Page 733—Section 1401 establishes a new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research; the bill includes no provisions preventing the government-run health plan from using such research to deny access to life-saving treatments on cost grounds, similar to Britain’s National Health Service, which denies patient treatments costing more than $35,000.

Page 872—Section 1433 requires the director of food services at nursing facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid to hold “military, academic, or other qualifications” as determined by federal bureaucrats.

Page 1067—Section 1729 requires States to cover incarcerated juveniles previously enrolled in Medicaid after their release “unless and until there is a determination that the individual is no longer eligible.”

Page 1174—Section 1802(b) includes provisions entitled “TAXES ON CERTAIN INSURANCE POLICIES” to fund comparative effectiveness research, breaking Speaker Pelosi’s promise that “We will not be taxing [health] benefits in any bill that passes the House,” and the President’s promise not to raise taxes on families with incomes under $250,000.

Page 1183—Section 1904 provides $750 million in federal funding for a new entitlement program to offer “knowledge of realistic expectations of age-appropriate child behaviors” and “skills [for parents] to interact with their child.” (And this is related to health care how??)

Page 1255—Sections 2231-2235 make veterinary students eligible for up to $283 million in federal scholarship and student loan forgiveness funding. (Why is THIS in this health care bill?)

Page 1432—Section 2531 provides incentive payments to States that enact new medical liability laws—but only if such laws do “not limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.” (As opposed to the Republican bill that offers serous tort reform.)

Page 1515—Section 2572(b) imposes labeling requirements on all vending machines nationwide, in addition to new mandates by the federal government on all restaurants with more than 20 locations.

Page 1925—Section 3101 creates a new program within the Indian Health Service to provide federal funding for “perpetrators of child sexual abuse who are Indian or members of an Indian household.”

If you would like to read the entire 1,990 pages yourself, you can find the legislation here: (Note: the above notes were posted a few days ago. Page numbers and details may have changed.)

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