LEAH VRIESMAN on HEALTH CARE REFORM at WVRC on October 15th
SALLY & HOMER NEWMAN, PAT & ANDY ANDERSON, KATHY & ED GAULD, ELLIOTT TURNER, MARSHA HUNT, SHIELA & MIKE YOUSEM, SHIRLEY & PETER MORE, ANNIE & HENRY TSENG, LEAH VRIESMAN & her husband, JONATHAN WEE, CYNTHIA & BOB LUSK, ROZ & DON NELSON, JOY & ERNIE WOLFE and DAN PRICE. Yes, these are the movers and shakers who have signed up for A TURKISH DELIGHT, the Special Party at the home of NEVIN SENKAN on Sunday, October 25th. This is a benefit for hearing-impaired children in Turkey, and will include dinner, wine, and entertainment all for $50! Since it will be classed as a Fine, the whole amount is deductible. But, for those not listed above, PLEASE JOIN US. It will be a great party, “One For The Book,” so get your checks in right away, OK? Again, guests are most welcome!
PP RON LYSTER led the Pledge. I provided the Invocation, a Thanksgiving Prayer Oh God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry. When I have work, help me to remember the jobless. When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless. When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer. And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion. Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.
LENNY came forward, unencumbered by his sometimes introduction, and led us in “I love To Go To Rotary” which we may yet get the hang of.
We had no visiting Rotarians, but SUNNY of course came with LENNY, and PP HOMER NEWMAN again introduced our Ambassadorial Scholar, Misaki Musada please note that he is still looking for lodging closer than Santa Monica, from which he now bicycles to UCLA. And PP STEVE SCHERER was pleased to introduce his Special Guest, Jim Crane, who is in the Insurance business. He is also the Los Angeles Chair of the Gideon Society, which distributes Bibles, as you probably know.
LEAH VRIESMAN was accompanied by her husband, Johnathan Wee, who also handled the sound recording for todays program. Seated at the Head Table were PP ERIC LOBERG and RALPH BEASOM. I offered the quite incisive opinion they were up there because they belong to WVRC, but Acting President MARK BLOCK slipped them in to lend gravitas from the Medical World in support of LEAH’s Program today.
There were several announcements. Acting President MARK reminded us that R. I. President John Kenny will be speaking downtown on Friday, January 15th, and while we will still hold our regular meeting the day before, the 14th, all members are urged to attend downtown also.
Next week, October 22nd, District Governor Susanne Sundberg will be our Speaker, and please make a special effort to attend and be on time, of course. The Board is meeting at 10:30 before.
On Friday, November 20th, the UCLA/USC luncheon will be hosted by LA 5. This is a fun gathering, with the coaches, some players, and - while this doesn’t matter to everyone the dancing cheerleaders will be there! It was noted that Traveller will be there, and who else but ELLIOTT TURNER agreed to help with cleanup, whatever that means…As a final note, ESPN will cover some of the festivities, so it really should be worth attending.
GORDON FELL reported on a recent District-wide meeting held to promote the idea of strategic planning, which he and Prexy ED attended. The District is suggesting that each club should have its own committee, and three Board members (Prexy ED, GORDON, and YOE) have stepped forward. We would like at least a couple of regular members, especially new members, to join us. Please check with GORDON.
I was glad to report on how we are doing with Reading To Kids. Four of us ED JACKSON, MARSHA HUNT, MARGARET LEWIS, and YOE, were at Magnolia Elementary School last Saturday from 0900 until noon. There were 250 kids, over 40 volunteers, and this was the 104th month IN A ROW that Magnolia has hosted this program! I held up the Thank You letter one of the kids gave me and I cannot say too much about how much fun this is. There are two ‘readers’ with each class, and between 7 and 10 kids, grouped from Kindergarden through the fifth grade. We have some teacher orientation, and then break up into our groups. All these youngsters are Latino, and I simply love the way they want to participate! They come each second Saturday of the month because they WANT TO, and that means they come for fun. After reading, we have a craft session, and then we gather again in the meeting hall, and they announce which class had the most kids present. Our fourth graders were second this time. Each youngster gets his own book to take home. Again, you will get a real kick out of this, and I will be calling you to give it a try. PS I just spoke to ED JACKSON, and he will be transmitting the photo we took at Magnolia to Rotary International, under a new heading they are calling A Day In The Life Of Rotary, plus he’ll be sending it out to all of us!
Speaking of fun, we now had TWO jokes. This started off slowly, in that PP DON NELSON got to the podium, WITHOUT his joke, but that was soon remedied. In the meanwhile, Acting President MARK started things off. It seems that one of the airlines instituted a program where wives who accompanied their husbands on business trips could fly for half fare. Expecting some wonderful testimonials, the airline sent letters to all the wives of the businessmen who had used the special rates, asking them how they enjoyed the trip. Letters are still pouring in, asking, “What trip?” Mr NELSON was up next, explaining that he would take advantage of Prexy ED’s absence, since he, ED, is a bit of “a stick in the mud” when it comes to joke topics. It began the day after his wife disappeared in a kayak accident in Nova Scotia. There was a knock at the door, and two grim-faced Mounties stood there. “We know it’s late, Sir, but we have some information about your wife.” “Did you find her?” The two Mounties looked at each other, and then one said, “We have some bad news, some good news, and some GREAT news”. Fearing the worst, the husband said, “Give me the bad news first”. The second Mountie said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, sir but this morning we found your wife’s body in the bay”. “Oh my God”, he exclaimed “What’s the good news?” “When they pulled her up, she had a 25 lb snow crab and 12 good-sized lobsters clinging to her”. “If that’s the good news, what’s the great news?”
The Mountie answered, “We’re gonna pull her up again tomorrow!”
JOHN HEIDT introduced our Speaker, LEAH. While we all knew she has her PhD, her other educational and employment feats were quite extensive. She grew up in a small town in Minnesota, and there is some creditability to the story that John Wee taught her to juggle in the eighth grade! She was a Director at North American Business Development. She had a Medical Technical practice at the Ruiley (sp) Group, and provided International Health Policy at Research Corp. While completing her doctorate at UCLA, she taught at the UCLA School of Public Health. She and her husband, Jon Wee, have a nine-year old son and seven- year old daughter, and Jon is a well-known professional juggler.
Leah began by telling us that this is a broad subject, and very much, ongoing. Thus what we know today can change tomorrow. She reminded us that we aren’t really talking about health care, or reform, but about whether we should have Insurance. In her first slide, she showed that, for the first time ever, less than half the population is covered by private insurance. The number is declining every day the economy goes down. 15% are covered by Medicare, and just a few percent buy private insurance. Since coverage depends upon income, it is the poor who are not covered. Two maps showed coverage, and we could see that the entire south was better covered but that the entire north was in better health!
The vast majority of the uninsured are in full-time employment. If you feel that insurance rates are going up, you are correct. But the choice for the uninsured comes down to taking company-provided insurance, or taking the same amount in cash, and taking their chances. Her stats and charts showed that when our national unemployment rate goes us one percent, the decrease in private employment insurance goes down by three million people. When Medicade goes up by one million, the uninsured goes up by the same amount. The rate of uninsured people has gone up by 5% in the last few years, and it is an open question as to what will happen when firms again begin to offer health insurance.
What do the uninsured look like? 50% of them do not have a regular doctor. On their infrequent visits, they go to different doctors each time, causing duplication of treatment. This is a very uncoordinated way to provide care. In this ‘system’, you get worse without continuing care. of course. Statistics show that those with insurance catch most disease at stage one or two, while the uninsured are first treated at state three or even four. There are about 45 million who are uninsured. And if you move, or change jobs, getting reinstated can be very difficult, if not impossible. Age is also a major factor in how easy or tough it is to get back into coverage.
Every single one of the three present bills being worked on will not take away your benefits. To really have Socialized Medicine, the state would have to take over every hospital, and pay every doctor and that won’t happen. But the question remains Do we have the RIGHT to Medical Coverage? The fault with all three present bills is they mandate a penalty for those who do not want to be covered. Some definitions Insurance Exchange, like a broker, with access to whatever offers are currently out there. At present, if you move from one state to another, you come under the new state’s rules, unlike Medicare, which applies everywhere. The Public Option would be a government plan, government owned. A third option is Coops, which would still be government owned, but non-profit. The problem here is that they could compete with private plans very easily, since they don’t need to make a profit.
The national average income is about $38K. The premiums now being discussed would be just about 10%, or $3,800 which sounds to YOE like it would be more than a family can afford.
There is talk of ‘saving’ on Medicare of $400 billion, but note this is over ten years, not all at once and let’s not forget that savings are always promised, but seldom delivered. It is suggested that coverage should always include at least 70% of the final bill, and that sounds reasonable everyone should pay part of the direct cost of services provided. Leah suggests that you can tell who is being gored by who is complaining the loudest and right now, it is the insurance companies.
Leah, thank you for a comprehensive report on an elusive subject.