Government Spending

Yep, Vaughn was exhausted, but we had set the date with Glenn Beck in March and even having nearly crossed the country twice in a day already wasn’t going to stop us now! He emptied his luggage and threw in some clean clothes being careful not to forget the Patrick Henry shirt given to him at a town hall meeting we had attended. I never really know how to prepare for trips where we fly stand-by. It could just be a trip to the airport and back, but this time we felt unusually assured that things would work out. With everything all set and grandma here, we said our prayers with the kids and confidently headed into the eye of the gathering storm.

We arrived the morning of 9/11. We picked up our rental car and drove to the hotel. It was raining and I was worried because the weather station had predicted heavy rain for the following day. We made our way thru the gloomy weather and after checking in exceptionally early (6am) without any problems (our original plan had us arriving at usual check in time) we gratefully threw ourselves on the bed and slept.

After recovering (we had to fly from Salt Lake City to California and THEN to D.C.) we decided to head in to see the sights before the big day. The rain had stopped, but it was still overcast reminding us of the solemnity of the day. Thankfully it is always exciting to pull in and drive down Constitution Avenue and see all those historic buildings, monuments and memorials. It brightens the mood to think of all the wonderful people who came here and sacrificed so much to start something so great. After finally figuring out where to park we got out to do some bi-pedal touring. It was a peaceful day and it surprised us how quiet the streets were. It was lovely to visit and we especially enjoyed the WW II monument, reading every engraved quote. But as day turned to evening we began to worry that the turn-out tomorrow would be minuscule. Finally I spotted a bold red “Tea Party Patriot” t-shirt crossing the street towards us! Immediate joy! Anxiously I asked her if she was here for the rally tomorrow and that’s all that was needed to become new best friends. She and her son had come from California a week ago and had participated in several gatherings already. We walked and talked for almost an hour and she gave experienced information about how to ride the metro in the next morning. We said good-bye and promised we’d find each other the next day. Walking back to the car we spotted two other small groups with identifying markers(Freedom Works cap and patriotic shirts) and talked to them about where they had come from and what had brought them the distance to participate. Exchanging concerns we again made more friends from strangers. Funny how comforting it is to find others who are as deeply concerned as you are.

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That night I could hardly sleep. Gratefully the alarm noted it was time to get out of bed. We got ready quickly, grabbed a fast-food breakfast, we made our way to the metro. Parking there turned out to be frustrating. Again we saw some “ralliers”, this time the marker was their hand-made signs. We called to them and they said they were just heading into I-HOP for breakfast. Maybe we could beat the crowd and take the car all the way in! Dare we? Well, we are dangerous right-wing extremists! As we drove in we tensed a bit as the streets were already lined with cars and buses. Miraculously a moment later we saw a spot and pulled in! It was 4 hour parking, but we didn’t care! Go ahead, ticket us! We are on a role of rogue behavior! Anyway, we were less worried about a parking ticket then the thought of increased taxes. Had we known how overwhelmed the police would be that day, we wouldn’t have given it another thought!

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As we got out and our attention wasn’t on parking anymore, we began to really notice large groups assembling. We started following the crowd to Freedom Plaza. It was already making me very emotional to see the crowds filing in. Clapping my hands and jumping up and down like a teenager, I said to Vaughn hopefully, “I think this is going to be big!” I had no idea! We got as close to the stage as possible where a program of speakers and patriotic music was beginning. We climbed up on a ledge to get a look at the crowd and were fortunate enough to stay there the next hour or two as we watched the crowd multiply. It was thrilling beyond description to behold. I couldn’t believe the difference a night made! Where were all these people yesterday?

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Finally it was decided that the march would have to begin early because the crowd had reached “critical mass”. I wanted to stay up on the ledge to see the parade begin. With music pouring from the speakers, I watched as a sea of flags and banners from this massive assembly of patriots rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue. I have never witnessed anything so grand! I was awestruck! It wasn’t a noisy crowd either. In fact, even though people were smiling and talking and laughing, it seemed to have the feeling of reverence. Vaughn felt he had stepped into the scene in from “The Ten Commandments” when the Israelites were leaving Egypt! He was anxious to belong to that family, so we jumped down and began making our way along side our conservative brothers and sisters. We laugh now because at the time we thought we were somewhere near the middle to end of the parade. We were NO WHERE NEAR the end, or even the middle! Vaughn looked like a freedom super hero as he wore like a cape his large “Don’t Tread On Me” flag given to us by our fabulous neighbor. As we walked we noticed people streaming in from all the side streets too and the crowd began to grow and grow and grow.

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As we approached the Capital Building, capital police began directing us to the side yards on the right or left of the capital steps. We turned and made our way up on the grassy hill. I was hoping to be near a tree so we could sit and lean up against it as we had already been on our feet several hours. Even though the area was already covered with astroturf, you know grandmas and stuff, Vaughn was able to find a small spot near a tree and we parked there. Inspiring messages could be heard through large speakers. Anthem singing brought tears and cheers. We sat there for several more hours listening, learning, cheering and sharing ideas and experiences with the kind people near us. We were so grateful too that the sky had remained overcast, but it never rained as predicted. It was the perfect temperature for such a large gathering, and it didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Vaughn and I so totally enjoyed watching the crowd, reading the signs – laughing at the funny ones and nodding and the serious ones. Such creativity on display! We were revved up when the crowd chanted “Can you hear us now?” or “Freedom,freedom, freedom!” and “2010, 2010”. As I looked out through the trees, I was overwhelmed at the crowd that had mobilized. I really couldn’t tell where the crowd began or ended. It was obvious that this was the largest assembly I had ever been in attendance with. It was deeply moving.
At one point we decided to get up and start walking through the crowd to get a sense of its enormity. Vaughn and I were so impressed that as we walked through the maze, everyone was so polite and thoughtful with an “excuse me” or a “sorry” if there was a slight bump. One girl was laughing saying that CNN was reporting that there were “thousands” of people here. She joked, “they must just mean the line for the bathroom!” The crowd was so large that sometimes we would hear spontaneous cheering from a section afar off. That was cool! We spent the next few hours walking through the crowd, enjoying the patriotic mood from largest congregation of devoted and resolute conservatives ever assembled here. As the last speaker said her good-byes, we looked around as the crowd began their procession homeward and noticed that the area around us had been treated with respect. Later it was reported that we left virtually no trace besides trampled grass. And, it was also reported that there were no arrests. It was peaceful from beginning to end.

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The numbers may never be officially revealed but those who were there can confidently proclaim that hundreds of thousand if not over a million would not be an exaggeration. We didn’t even know then all the places people were standing until we saw pictures of it days later. Vaughn and I made our way back to the car and eventually out of D.C. and back to our hotel. As we put our heads down again, we prayed in thanks for the opportunity we had had that day to be a part of something so amazing. As we nodded off, we reminisced about some of our favorite signs like, “Nancy Pelosi’s ATM machine”, “Not the party of No but the party of Hell NO!” and “My dog makes two shovel ready projects a day” or “Part of the angry mob” adjacent to a picture of a family holding hands. We fall asleep with sore feet and smiles on our faces.

We recognized that this was just the beginning and that we would still have our work cut out for us at home, but now that our batteries had been recharged, our hearts lifted, and our hope in God and country revitalized, we knew we would be able to meet the challenge. Our thanks go out to all those volunteers who made it possible and all those flagwavers who made it unforgettable!

An unbiased analysis of the problems within our current health care system will confirm that they are largely the result of the influence that the federal government has exercised within the system.

The problems that need to be addressed are complex and large, and would only be further complicated and magnified by resorting to the failed doctrine of central planning. A partial list of these problems includes:

  • Nearly five decades of extraordinary inflation in the health care segment. This is not due to a failure of capitalism but is the result of a lack of capitalism in health care. Its beginning can be traced to the advent and explosive growth of the third-party payer system beginning with Blue Cross in the 1940s. This is not rocket science. When a third party picks up the tab, buyers and sellers do not function in their traditional free market roles. Government involvement through Medicare and Medicaid as well as various unfunded mandates and increased red tape and reporting requirements compounded the problem.
  • Tremendous waste built into the system, for example:
    • “Defensive medicine” tests, images, therapies and procedures not necessary or even helpful for diagnosis and treatment of a condition, but help to document physician “diligence” in the event of a law suit.
    • Duplicate tests, images and therapies ordered by various providers for the same patients. This occurs because the providers have no way to coordinate information and care.
    • Higher cost “first visits” each time a patient sees a new provider for the first time. This is to cover the cost of the initial patient physical history that is many times incorrect or incomplete.
    • Harmful treatments and therapies that are ordered due to lack of information which generate additional expense and suffering.
    • Care that is rendered solely because a third party is paying for it.
    • Lack of competitive pressures on providers to deliver efficient, cost effective care.
    • Government rules and regulations that require extra steps, red tape and waste of manpower and materiel.
    • Out of control regulatory processes that generate great expense for providers without corresponding benefit to patients.
  • The incentives in our present systems are misaligned and confused. They reward behavior on the part of providers, payers and patients that are counter to maintaining a high quality, cost effective health care system.
    • Providers are generally rewarded to sell more services and skimp on quality and service.
    • Insurers and other payers are incented to limit coverage and challenge claims. Some insurance companies stoop to automatically denying all claims the first time they are submitted and asking the patient to provide more information. They know that a significant percentage of these patients will be confused and docilely accept the denial and never resubmitted the claim.
    • Patients are rewarded by postponing care until it is critical and thus expensive.
    • Providers with low prices are chosen by payers and patients rather than efficient providers who are able to deliver an entire episode of care for the lowest “global” cost. Global cost includes all costs associated with an episode of care. For example, in the case of surgery, the surgeon’s fee is only a small part of the global cost, which considers all pre-operative exams, tests, images, treatments, prescriptions, etc as well as the cost of the hospital room and board and ancillary services, radiologist, anesthesiologist, etc., plus post-operative follow-up exams tests, images and treatments.
    • Studies have shown that that there is often an inverse correlation between global costs and the quality of the provider. In other words, the best surgeon gets the diagnosis and treatment right the first time and performs in a highly efficient manner. The global cost of the entire surgery is very competitive even though the surgeon’s fee may be higher than average.
  • Medicare and Medicaid programs that cover the poor and the elderly are highly inefficient government run programs. There is NO COMPETITION ALLOWED! These programs rely on price fixing instead of competition to control costs. Price fixing is not only a shallow and ineffective approach to cost management; but is also highly susceptible to political influences, often to the point of being “pork”.
  • The cost of administration for the government plans is high when one considers that administrative costs are largely shifted to providers and patients and thus are not fully reflected in the costs reported by the government.

    Government plans depend primarily on the simplistic strategy of setting the fees they will pay for services rendered in order to control costs. This strategy fails to recognize the differences in quality and efficiency between providers and gives no incentives or even opportunity for providers to compete. Yes, that is correct. They pay the same fee to all similar providers in an area, regardless of quality, experience, reputation or efficiency. In considering only fees, the true global costs are ignored.

    Many top quality and highly efficient providers refuse to take patients covered by these plans because of fee limitations and administrative costs. The result is lower quality care at a higher cost.

  • The working poor. This is perhaps the most unfair situation of all. This group generally receives very limited primary care and almost no preventative care. Primary care is generally limited to that which is received only after hours of waiting in a government or charity hospital emergency room. Generally, the care they receive is extremely inefficient and of spotty effectiveness.
  • These people are generally hard working, “contributing citizens” who are not able to afford their share of the cost of employer sponsored health plans but who earn too much to be eligible for government plans such as Medicaid.

    They are thrown into a nightmarish hodge podge of overlapping systems (with wide gaps) to obtain their care. This entire system is generally demeaning, inconvenient, and unreliable.

    Funding sources include various not-for-profit providers who provide services on a charity basis (sometimes only after trying and failing to collect full balances); as well as various private and public charities, and various government sponsored programs such as state and local government health care facilities, VA Hospitals and clinics, etc. The cost of this ineffective care is virtually incalculable but possibly the most expensive, least effective care per-capita being provided in the USA.

The Prescription?