Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

A Common Sense Approach To Lowering Medical Bills

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, October 24, 2021

Common sense approaches work well.
Unfortunately, common sense isn’t so common, anymore.

Why Medical Bills Can Be Lower in Maryland


Illustration by Alvaro Dominguez

For the past 18 months, while I was undergoing intensive physical therapy and many neurological tests after a complicated head injury, my friends would point to a silver lining: “Now you’ll be able to write about your own bills.” After all, I’d spent the past decade as a journalist covering the often-bankrupting cost of U.S. medical care.

But my bills were, in fact, mostly totally reasonable.

That’s largely because I live in Washington, D.C., and received the majority of my care in next-door Maryland, the one state in the nation that controls what hospitals can charge for services and has a cap on spending growth.

Players in the health care world — from hospitals to pharmaceutical manufacturers to doctors’ groups — act as if the sky would fall if health care prices were regulated or spending capped. Instead, health care prices are determined by a dysfunctional market in which providers charge whatever they want and insurers or middlemen like pharmacy benefit managers negotiate them down to slightly less stratospheric levels.

But for decades, an independent state commission of health care experts in Maryland, appointed by the governor, has effectively told hospitals what each of them may charge, with a bit of leeway, requiring every insurer to reimburse a hospital at the same rate for a medical intervention in a system called “all-payer rate setting.” In 2014, Maryland also instituted a global cap and budget for each hospital in the state. Rather than being paid per test and procedure, hospitals would get a set amount of money for the entire year for patient care. The per capita hospital cost could rise only a small amount annually, forcing price increases to be circumspect.

If the care in the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine system ensured my recovery, Maryland’s financial guardrails for hospitals effectively protected my wallet.

During my months of treatment, I got a second opinion at a similarly prestigious hospital in New York, giving me the opportunity to see how medical centers without such financial constraints bill for similar kinds of services.

Visits at Johns Hopkins with a top neurologist were billed at $350 to $400, which was reasonable, and arguably a bargain. In New York, the same type of appointment was $1,775. My first spinal tap, at Johns Hopkins, was done in an exam room by a neurology fellow and billed as an office visit. The second hospital had spinal taps done in a procedure suite under ultrasound guidance by neuroradiologists. It was billed as “surgery,” for a price of $6,244.38. The physician charge was $3,782.

I got terrific care at both hospitals, and the doctors who provided my care did not set these prices. All of the charges were reduced after insurance negotiations, and I generally owed very little. But since the price charged is often the starting point, hospitals that charge a lot get a lot, adding to America’s sky-high health care costs and our rising insurance premiums to cover them.

It wasn’t easy for Maryland to enact its unique health care system. The state imposed rate setting in the mid-1970s because hospital charges per patient were rising fast, and the system was in financial trouble. Hospitals supported the deal — which required a federal waiver to experiment with the new system — because even though the hospitals could no longer bill high rates for patients with commercial insurance, the state guaranteed they would get a reasonable, consistent rate for all their services, regardless of insurer.

The rate was more generous than Medicare’s usual payment, which (in theory at least) is calculated to allow hospitals to deliver high-quality care. The hospitals also got funds for teaching doctors in training and taking care of the uninsured — services that could previously go uncompensated.

In subsequent decades, Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Impeachment Trial v2.0 – Day 2… or, Senator Mike Lee Gets Pissed

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, February 11, 2021

Suddenly, a Juror becomes a Witness!

Senator from Utah, Mike Lee suddenly stood up and said…

“Statements were attributed to me moments ago by the House Impeachment Managers. Statements relating to the content of conversations between a phone call involving President Trump and Senator Tuberville were not made by me. They’re not accurate, and they’re contrary to fact. I move pursuant to Rule 16 that they be stricken from the record.”

There is NO court of jurisdiction EVER which has allowed a juror to become a witness also.

Lead Impeachment Manager Representative Jamie Raskin, Maryland-8, Democrat

In the trial’s final hour of arguments on Day 2, Wednesday, February 11, 2021, Representative David Cicilline, an Impeachment Manager, and Democrat of Rhode Island-1, spoke of then-President Trump who, during the very midst of the insurrection and breach of the Capitol building, had mistakenly called Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah, in an effort to reach newly-elected first-time politician Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, a former football coach for Auburn University. In describing the call, which was detailed in numerous news reports, Representative Cicilline asserted that Senator Lee had stood by as Trump asked Senator Tuberville to make additional objections to the certification of President Biden’s electoral votes.

In an interview with Deseret News on January 7, 2021, Senator Mike Lee described a phone call made to him by then-President Trump, which reported that,

“With a mob of election protesters laying siege to the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Mike Lee had just ended a prayer with some of his colleagues in the Senate chamber when his cellphone rang.

Caller ID showed the call originated from the White House. Lee thought it might be national security adviser Robert O’Brien, with whom he’d been playing phone tag on an unrelated issue. It wasn’t O’Brien. It was President Donald Trump.

“How’s it going, Tommy?” the president asked.

Taken a little aback, Lee said this isn’t Tommy.

“Well, who is this? Trump asked. “It’s Mike Lee,” the senator replied. “Oh, hi Mike. I called Tommy.”

Lee told the Deseret News he realized Trump was trying to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the newly elected Republican from Alabama and former Auburn University football coach. Lee walked his phone over to Tuberville who was talking to some colleagues.

“Hey, Tommy, I hate to interrupt but the president wants to speak with you,” Lee said.

Tuberville and Trump talked for about five to 10 minutes, Lee said, adding that he stood nearby because he didn’t want to lose his cellphone in the commotion. The two were still talking when panicked police ordered the Capitol to be evacuated because people had breached security.

As police were getting anxious for senators to leave, Lee walked over to retrieve his phone.

“I don’t want to interrupt your call with the president, but we’re being evacuated and I need my phone,” he said.

Tuberville said, “OK, Mr. President. I gotta go.”

Lee said when he later asked Tuberville about the conversation, he got the impression that Trump didn’t know about the chaos going on in the Senate chamber.

Impeachment Manager David Ciciline, a Democrat representing Rhode Island-1 said,

“Senator Lee described it. He had just ended a prayer with his colleagues here in the Senate chamber, and the phone rang. It was Donald Trump. Senator Lee explains that the phone call goes something like this. ‘Hey, Tommy,’ Trump asks. Sen. Lee says, ‘This isn’t Tommy.’ He hands the phone to Senator Tuberville.

“Senator Lee then confirmed that he stood by as Senator Tuberville and President Trump spoke on the phone. And on that call, Donald Trump reportedly asked Senator Tuberville to make additional objections to the certification process.”

Senator Lee NEVER objected to the news report which he himself had told to Deseret News on January 7, 2021.  Nor did he note that any corrections should be made to it, and there is no errata or corrections cited on the story.

As Impeachment Manager Representative Ciciline was speaking, Senator Lee became apparently agitated and wrote in large letters upon a sheet of paper from a legal pad at his desk “This is not what happened.” and then handed the paper to David Schoen, one of Trump’s lawyers.

As Lead Impeachment Manager Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat representing Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, was at the speaker’s podium and was attempting to close the day’s session, Senator Lee then stood up, and Read the rest of this entry »

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POTUS Trump Visits Camp David Father’s Day Weekend 2017

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, June 17, 2017

Roughly 62 miles away from the Washington D.C. Beltway, hidden away in the northeastern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in north-central Maryland, very near the Pennsylvania border, along the Catoctin Mountain Park ridge in the Monocacy Valley near the town of Thurmont, lies a 4-acre park-like U.S. Navy base called “Naval Support Facility Thurmont.”

Its coordinates are: 39°38′54″N 77°27′54″W

Its construction began in 1935 by the Works Progress Administration, and was completed in 1938. Originally built as a camp for federal government employees and their families, it was converted into a presidential retreat and named “Shangri La” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1942. Some years later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed it “Camp David” in recognition of his father and grandson, both whom were named David. It has borne that name ever since.

Camp David is operated by the U.S. Navy & Marine Corps, which calls it “Naval Support Facility Thurmont.”

Every President has made use of it since it’s construction. FDR hosted British PM Sir Winston Churchill there. Eisenhower held his first Cabinet Meeting there. JFK allowed White House staff to use it when he wasn’t there. LBJ met with the Australian & Canadian PMs there. Nixon & Ford used it. Carter brokered a peace negotiation with Egypt & Israel known as the Camp David Accords there. Reagan used it more than any president, and hosted British PM Margaret Thatcher there. George H.W. Bush’s daughter Dorothy was married there. Clinton used it extensively and hosted British PM Tony Blair there numerous times. George W. Bush hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin, British PM Gordon Brown, and Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen there, as well. Obama hosted the 38th G8 summit there in 2012, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev, and the GCC Summit there in 2015.

Trump called Camp David “rustic,” and has avoided it thus far in his first few months in office.

In an interview with The Times of London and the German newspaper Bild in January 2017, Trump said in part that, Read the rest of this entry »

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“Three Amigos” Mega Millions Lottery winners in Maryland

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 10, 2012

There’s been significant hubbub and speculation over who held the winning ticket sold in Maryland in the Mega Millions Lottery.

Three winning tickets were sold, one each in Kansas, Illinois and Maryland. Earlier last week, a Kansas winner emerged and requested anonymity. However, the Illinois and Maryland winners had yet to claim their winnings. Maryland State Lottery officials said that by law, lottery winners have up to 182 days to claim winnings.

Mirlande Wilson claimed she won Mega Millions Lottery in Maryland

MONEY TROUBLES: Mirlande Wilson (above) claims she purchased a winning Mega Millions ticket for herself and won’t share it with co-workers in her pool, including Davon Wilson and Suleiman Osman Husein. (Photo by William Farrington)

However, significant speculation arose surrounding Mirlande Wilson, a 37 year-old Haitian immigrant mother of seven who worked at a McDonald’s on the 8200 block of Liberty Road in Baltimore, which is not far from where the winning ticket was sold at the 7-Eleven in Milford Mill.

According to a co-worker who identified himself only as “Allen,” 15 co-workers contributed $5 each toward a pool, to which the McDonald’s owner Birul Desai also later contributed. Ms. Wilson was to appointed to purchase tickets on her way home from work, and later returned to purchase additional tickets from money given to her by the store’s owner – and, as she has claimed, separately for herself.

The next day, Ms. Wilson Read the rest of this entry »

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“Where, oh where’s my Mega Millions Lottery ticket?”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Saturday, April 7, 2012

Here’s what we know thus far.

Three winning tickets were sold. One each in Kansas, Illinois & Maryland. Only one winner – the one in Kansas, whom also chose to remain anonymous – has come forward to claim their portion of the prize.

The winning Kansas ticket was purchased at Casey’s General Store No. 2668 at 940 N. Main Street in Ottawa, which has a population of little more than 6,000. The winner spent only $1 and let the computer pick a random number.

Director of the Maryland Lottery, Stephen Martino, said “The ticket has not been claimed. People need to look at their tickets.” He added that a Quick Pick ticket with the winning numbers was sold around 7:15PM on 30 March 2012 at the 7-Eleven on Liberty Avenue in Baltimore, and was the only ticket sold at that time. The drawing was less then four hours away when that ticket was sold. He also said the winner has until 28 September 2012 to claim the prize, and must do so in person. However, the winner is not required to make their identity public.

Maryland and Kansas allow winners to remain anonymous, but by law Illinois must publicly identify the winner to demonstrate that jackpots are being paid out, and winners have one year to claim winnings.

The Illinois winner has not yet been identified, and lottery officials there said Read the rest of this entry »

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Wallace was a Trailblazer

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Or so wrote David Broder in 1978.

The late former Alabama governor is perhaps most widely regarded – or should I write “most infamous” – for his “stand in the schoolhouse door,” and formerly, his openly racist attitudes earlier in his political career.

However, there was a man whom no one knew, about whom little has been written… until now.

It is a man whose heart was broken and rendered, whose attitudes changed, who literally became a Christian, repented of his evil ways, apologized for his wrong-doings, and sought the forgiveness of the people he most deeply offended, and formerly hated.

Who was that man? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in - Did they REALLY say that?, - Faith, Religion, Goodness - What is the Soul of a man?, - Politics... that "dirty" little "game" that first begins in the home. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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