Thursday, July 09, 2009

COP In A Wide Angle

This forum was designed as a cyber space from everything from dialogue to delusion. Often the tasks seems large or overwhelming, but I'm continuing to learn that "this thing that I do," is reaching many of you in all corners of this state. From Witter in the Northwest to Star City to the south, CorneliusOnpoint has promoted itself as the "online connection" and we will forge ahead with more of what you are looking for. Including asking the "hard questions or calling it as we see it," in our efforts in "keeping it real," for the GLBTQ community and beyond. It gets hot in here some days, but sometimes that's what it takes to stay on point! We love you and thanks for your support.

Who's Minding the Store?: As the national debate heats up about America's health care patient, I'm still "vaclemped" at what appears to be the ongoing guessing game of local HIV/ AIDS administrators at ADH( Arkansas Department of Health) and AAF( Arkansas AIDS Foundation). I've seen numerous and I do mean countless e-blast, inquires, observations and personal stories concerning the rubrics cube of answers a possible client or even clients themselves receive when accessing services. The $50,000 question is simply, "if we can't get competence, how about some basic common sense?" There have been so many questions over the years, with many muddled, foggy, iffy, nebulous and downright confusing answers from those charged with getting it right or trying to make it right for end users. The latest situation involves whether Ryan White funds allow for client "transportation" to appointments and to my wonder as stated by local activist BC who said that "it was not known what was in the budget..." Say What? No one knows what dollars are in the operation budget for transporting needy clients, therefore, due to their unsure nature, clients get to spin the big wheel of service probability. In other words, you might get some transportation or you may not. Who knows? Well, let's start asking, "Who's Minding the Store!!" and here's who you can start with: Arkansas AIDS Foundation, and Arkansas Department of Health, and let them know your comments.
Health Care for All: If you are concerned about health care in America, and I can't imagine not one person who shouldn't be aware of what's really going on in the system because eventually you may have to access it some day. Listen up and take notice, the U. S. Congress is begining to dialouge and everyone's ear and voice is going to be needed in hopefuly finding the right mix. Enter, Sen. Blanche Lincoln with an editoral for your consideration. It's being reprinted here without editing. Don't forget it's all about health care for all...

Health care for All By Sen. Blanche Lincoln

Special to the Democrat-Gazette
Since I first came to public office, I have worked to provide access to stable, affordable and quality health care for all Arkansans. Now I believe that the majority of Congress is finally willing to act.
For the past 18 months, I have worked with my colleagues in the Senate Finance Committee to craft a responsible and meaningful health care reform proposal. As part of the process, I have continuously traveled our state and heard from thousands of Arkansans about how our country's health care crisis has taken a toll on their lives.
A Malvern small-business owner recently told me that he is giving up his 17-year-old business because he can no longer afford his rising health care insurance premiums. His wife and his daughter each has a pre-existing medical condition, and he feels pressure to find a new job that provides affordable, employer-sponsored coverage for his family.
A woman from Ward explained to me that she is not yet eligible for Medicare. After being laid off from her job and exhausting her COBRA benefits, she developed a serious medical condition that required the use of her entire life savings and pension. Faced with bankruptcy and disability, she expects to confront poverty in her old age after a lifetime of working.Similar stories of hardship and frustration are being played out for thousands more Arkansas working families under the current health care system.
Arkansans with health care coverage have seen their premiums rise more rapidly than their wages. According to the nonpartisan organization Families USA, annual premiums for family health coverage provided through work increased by almost 66 percent between 2000 and 2007. Yet Arkansas workers' median earnings increased by only 11.6 percent in the same period. In addition, employers of small and large businesses are often faced with the difficult choice between health care coverage and higher wages for their employees. All of these individuals fear that they may lose their health care coverage if we do not take action to rein in costs.
There also are few treatment options for the half-million uninsured Arkansans, whose number includes 66,000 children. Many resort to the most expensive care setting, their local emergency room. In many cases, a simple yet untreated condition spirals into a health crisis because timely and affordable primary care is not available to the uninsured. If we do not act, these costs will continue to be passed ononto taxpayers and those who are already insured. Right now, the average Arkansas family pays an extra $1,500 per year to cover costs for the uninsured.
Arkansans deserve better.
Health care reform must build upon what works and improve inefficiencies. Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan.
Coverage alone does not result in access. We must invest in our nation's health care infrastructure--its providers, technologies and facilities--especially in rural America where health care services and providers are fewer and farther between. We also must deliver health care more efficiently and create incentives that promote high-quality outcomes for patients instead of simply encouraging more provider visits and services.
Above all, we must bring stability to health care. Stable health care coverage will protect Arkansans during tough times and ensure that they do not lose insurance when they get sick. Stable costs will mean that Arkansans will not be subject to large premium increases each year that erode their paychecks. Stable quality of care will ensure that Arkansans have dependable treatment options so they can see a doctor of their choice when they need care.
As we work to reform health care, we must be responsible and pay for reform without adding to the deficit and increasing taxes on hard-working Arkansans.
Unfortunately, opponents of reform, who have no real plan for improving health care, are already using the tired arguments of the past. They say that Congress is trying to create "more government" or a "Washington takeover" of health care, which will raise your taxes, get between you and your doctor, and eliminate private insurance. It's a strategy that spreads misinformation and generates fear to preserve the status quo. Arkansans should not be misled by those who oppose real reform.
I am under no illusion that achieving meaningful health care reform will be an easy task. However, I am committed to reform because Arkansans must have certainty that if they get sick, they will have options to receive stable, affordable and high-quality health care.
Congress is on the verge of developing a health care policy that will work better for everyone and we cannot afford to let this opportunity slip away. Our health care crisis was not created overnight and it will not be fixed overnight. It will take all of us--individuals, employers, insurers and providers--to share in the responsibility and come together to make this possible. We know that government cannot do it alone. The key is to take what works and make it better for the next generation of Arkansans. We can no longer afford to sit back and do nothing.

Paid for by Friends of Blanche Lincoln

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