The LuLac Edition #1045, Dec. 20th, 2009
BYE BYE BUSHKO
Nanticoke Mayor John Bushko wraps up twenty years of service to the people of Nanticoke this week. As City Council approved the final reading of the 2010 budget with no property tax increases Bushko presided over his last council meeting. Council members praised Bushko for his dedication to the city. He has served as mayor for four years and as a council member for 16 years previously. According to the Times Leader [raise for Bushko was numerous. “I think one of the saddest things is a lot of the projects that are going to come to fruition in the next couple of years really came together under your leadership, your guidance. I really hope when these roads are taken care of, the downtown is redeveloped and Nanticoke has a new shine to it, I hope people do remember that John Bushko played a big role,” council member James Litchkofski said. Incoming mayor, now council member, Joe Dougherty announced the city will be accepting letters from people interested in filling his seat on council. People must turn in the letters by Jan. 15.
12 AND COUNTING
An even dozen have applied for the post vacated by Greg Skrepenak for the office of County Commissioner. They are Sam Pennartz, of Wyoming; Gary Reese, of Kingston; and Greg Gulick, of Mountain Top. Phillip Knobel of Exeter, John T. Banks of Wilkes-Barre, Beth Ann Wenner of Freeland, Gary R. Shupp of Mountain Top, Joseph A. Naperkowski of Wilkes-Barre, James M. Desiderio Jr. of Wilkes-Barre Township, Thomas Dombroski of Trucksville, Robert L. Shainline Sr. of Pittston and Antonio J. Rodriquez of Hazleton. With all due respect to those that have applied can anyone say the word "wannabe"?
I've been hammering a lot of Senators for their stance on the Health Care issue. One of the people in the Senate that seems to have the best interest of the people at heart is Senator Sherod Brown of Ohio. Here's an interesting interview the Senator gave to Tom Jackson of the Sandusky Register. Ever since he won his first race for the U.S. House in 1992, Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, has refused to use the federal government's health insurance program. Instead, as a protest against the fact many American's don't have health insurance, he's obtained it elsewhere.
Few lawmakers in Congress have been as active in the current debate in the Senate over health reform. He has spent much of his time in recent weeks pushing for the "public option" -- a government-run health insurance plan that would be available to anyone not currently covered by health insurance.
His interest in the issue emerges in all kinds of ways. When a new book on health care reform, T. R. Reid's "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper and Fairer Health Care," was mentioned, Brown said he already had read it. He recently agreed to answer questions about the issue.
Q. Is it true that you've refused to accept government health insurance for yourself, even though you qualify, because you're waiting for reform to happen first?
A. Yes, I made a promise in my 1992 campaign that I would pay my own health insurance until everybody in Ohio, everybody in my district in those days, had decent health insurance. For 17 years, since I've been in Congress in '92, I've paid my own ... Now I'm on my wife's plan the last five years and I pay a good bit extra to be on that plan. I'm not complaining. I made that commitment because I think that Congress needs to get more serious than it has over the years.
Q. Why is the public option so important to you? Why are you fighting so hard to get that?
A. In too many places, there is little competition. Private insurance companies, two or three companies in many cases, have cornered the market. And as a result, the quality is lower and the cost is higher. Too many insurance companies have canceled people's insurance because of pre-existing conditions, or have discriminated based on disability or gender or geography. The public option will provide competition for private insurance. It will make private insurance companies more honest, because they can't game the system.
It will provide competition where there isn't much competition in the insurance industry. It will bring prices down, because of competition.
Q. Can you clarify what you mean when you say you want to make the insurance companies more honest? Do you think the health insurance companies are less honest than other industries?
A. The health insurance companies have sometimes said one thing and done another. They say they don't want to discriminate, and then they cut people off their insurance because of some technicality. The insurance business model basically is, we don't want to insure people who are sick, that have a preexisting condition. And the people we do insure, we fight the claim. There's estimates that 25 to 30 percent of all claims are denied on the first round by insurance companies. (With) the public option, you're not going to spend a whole lot of time fighting with the insurance company to get your claims paid for.
Q. Senator, I kind of came in from the left on you when I asked about single payer. Now I'm going to ask a question sort of from the right. If businesses want to comply with a mandate for health insurance by offering health savings accounts with a high-deductible health insurance plan, would the bills working through Congress allow them to do that? And would you be in favor of allowing them to do that?
A. The bill grandfathers all of them in if they are already doing that ... I don't know what (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid has actually written, but I'm virtually certain it grandfathers them in.
Second, I want to do whatever it takes to get people insured in large numbers. If it's a mix of private and public, that's fine. That's the way our system works pretty well over the years.
Q:I'm reading a book on health insurance by a Washington Post reporter, T.R. Reid ("The Healing of America"). He makes two statements in the beginning. He says the United States is the only industrialized country where you can go bankrupt for lack of health coverage. And it's the only industrialized country where thousands and thousands of people die every year because they don't have health coverage. How confident are you that we are going to fix those two things?
A. I think we are. To me, this is a moral question and an economic question, both. It's a moral question because Americans die because they don't have insurance. They don't always get to go to the emergency room and get care, in spite of what people think. It's an economic question because it is so onerous, it's such a heavy burden on business, small business and big business ...........So the answer is, yes, I think we'll pass it.
OF MICE AND.........
Anybody will tell you there are rats in politics but in the eating place where politicos dine in Harrisburg? As Sarah Palin would say, "You Betcha!" The cafeteria in Pennsylvania's Capitol remained shut down Friday and workers scoured the facility after health inspectors found evidence of a rodent infestation and dish washing water that wasn't hot enough. The ground-floor cafeteria, a popular coffee and lunch spot for visitors to the statehouse and people who work there, was closed Thursday after state Department of Agriculture officials made an unannounced inspection. "There were mouse droppings around the facility too numerous to mention," said Justin Fleming, a spokesman for the state Agriculture Department. The droppings, which indicate the presence of live mice, are considered an imminent health risk, Fleming said. A leak that prevented the water in dishwashers from becoming hot enough to sterilize plates and utensils also was considered an imminent threat, he said. "The cafeteria had not been inspected for "at least a couple years," Fleming said. Aramark Corp., the Philadelphia-based food service company that runs the cafeteria, voluntarily closed it at the request of state inspectors, which is common procedure.
Some holiday doings are being planned by the Luzerne County GOP. Here's a few events:
Sixth District Christmas Party
Bring a covered dish and BYOB
RSVP by Dec. 18 to Pat Umbra at 822-3597 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, Dec. 27, 5 p.m.
Third District Christmas Party
Tickets: $20 includes buffet, beer and soda
Entertainment by accordionist Dick Yurish, 5-9 p.m.
RSVP to Art Bobbouine at 570-760-7815 or email@example.com