Saturday, April 26, 2008

Seeing the light? Perhaps at the end of the tunnel! A Single-Payer Solution to Healthcare...........

The Single-Payer Solution
Posted on Apr 23, 2008
By Amy Goodman
As the media coverage of the Democratic presidential race continues to focus on lapel pins and pastors, America is ailing. As I travel around the country, I find people are angry and motivated. Like Dr. Rocky White, a physician from a conservative, evangelical background who practices in rural Alamosa, Colo. A tall, gray-haired Westerner in black jeans, a crisp white shirt and a bolo tie, Dr. White is a leading advocate for single-payer health care. He wasn’t always.
He told me in a recent interview: “Here I am, a Republican, thinking about nationalizing health care. It just went against the grain of everything that I stood for. But you have to remember: I didn’t come to those conclusions with lofty ideals of social justice.”
In the early 1990s, his medical group started falling apart. White, a keen student of economics and the business of medicine, determined that it wasn’t just his practice but the system that was broken.
Click here to read more......

Wouldn't you just love to be a teacher today?

April 26, 2008
Take a look at this video (which is circulating the Internet right now), then read what one person had to say about it.
Response 4/25/08 from a retired middle school principal to 'WHY all kids should tuck in their shirts! A MUST SEE TO BELIEVE!'
[Click images to enlarge]
The guy in the video is actually a federal agent and has a lot of experience with this kind of stuff. 99.99% of all people couldn't pull this off. Thank goodness! I carry a weapon and I assure you that it's much more complicated than this video makes it appear. Sometimes packing a single handgun can be challenging, and create problems, and when I used to carry two it was even more complicated. I only carry one these days because I figure if I can't take care of business with one I shouldn't be packing any.
It requires special clothing and gear to pack this much heat on an individual. The weight of the weapons he is unloading are about an additional 20 pounds pulling on clothing and his body. This is more than the weight of a bowling ball.
On the other hand this is why I NEVER allowed students to wear trench coats of any kind to school. I required all male students to wear belts to hold up their pants. I never allowed students to carry or wear jackets or coats during school and in classrooms. I also banned book bags and cell phones to the consternation of parents and students and this was back in the 1990's. They could have them in their hall lockers but not carry them to class. Why? My momma didn't raise any fool and I knew what to look for. Unfortunately 98% of all school principals and teachers aren't well educated in these matters. I had a kid wearing a jacket in a class one day and he was carrying a handgun in the pocket. I took care of it and he was arrested and sentenced to six months in the Ohio Youth Commission. That was the only gun incident I encountered in all of my years and it sent a very strong message. The message? Mr. (xxx)'s watching you and you bring that shit in my building you're mine!! Have a great day!
I was a middle school principal in my last job before official retirement and served a grades 7-9 building. The ninth graders were considered high school as they received credits toward graduation. I have worked with children in grades 1-5 for the past eight years FYI. I removed a large kitchen knife from a second grader's book bag last week. I met with his mother and gave it to her as it was one of her kitchen knives. She took care of business so I didn't take it any further. He couldn't tell us why he had it. I asked him if he had been threatened, etc. and he said, "no!" Sheesh!
We have a little girl and her and her sister were robbed on a school playground two weeks ago. It was on the evening news in (xxx) and they interviewed the girls ages 7 & 9. The boy who robbed them was middle school age and is sitting in JDC right now. He stole $12.00 from them and physically threatened them.
And more (I missed this earlier)........
Boys were always required to tuck in shirts, wear belts, no coats, no jackets in classes, no cell phones (some use them to make drug deals during school hours), no book bags taken to classes, no trench coats, pants had to be pulled up to the waist, girls couldn't have long straight objects holding up hair, etc. I was walking down the hall one morning and I observed a girl with a shiny straight object holding up her hair. I walked up and pulled it out and her hair fell down and she was ticked. Why? It was a long steel darning needle and she had sharpened it razor sharp on the point. It was a weapon and the juvenile officer and detective agreed with me. We filed charges against her. Her mother objected and we laid the 10" needle out and showed her the filed point. She got an attorney and they lost in court! I have confiscated long handle combs that were ground to a point on the end and the teeth in the comb part were removed to make them weapons. I have confiscated small spray bottles from girls that were filled with bleach, chlorine, a mixture of water and cayenne pepper (homemade pepper spray), etc. I have confiscated "one hit" pipes, ceramic cigarettes that looked like regular cigs except packed with "happy weed," and much more. I have confiscated cigars that were hollowed out and were packed with hash or crack and much more.
Oh! They hollow out the insoles of athletic shoes and stash drugs in them and cover the drugs with the flap of material in the sole of the shoe. They hide cigs on top of the toilet paper dispensers in contained toilet paper dispensers. They will use false ceilings to hide cigs, drugs, and all kinds of contraband. In restrooms with drop ceilings you look for shoe prints on the toilet seats as this indicates they're standing on the toilet seats to hide their stashes above. Music instrument cases are another good place to conceal all kinds of things as you are well aware. I used to make a point of taking drug sniffing dogs into the music rooms and instrument storage areas.
A training film? Most already think they know it all. That is until they find themselves in the middle of one of these nightmares and then they stand with their thumbs up their rear ends, look stupid on camera, and wonder what in the hell happened. When I have spoken to many of these guys and gals they are suffering from extreme "feelings of adequacy" most of the time, so they aren't very receptive to being told they don't know their you know what's from a hole in the ground. You know what I'm talking about?
Still more..........
Like I said there are a large number of administrators out there who don't even have a clue. A quality administrator has to stay on top of everything happening in the building. Most of the time you can smell trouble before it happens. There are normally warning signs if you're paying attention and staying alert to the kids and their body language, behaviors in the halls and unstructured settings, etc. A good principal can walk down the hall and just listen to conversations and you'll hear all kinds of things. Many spend their time flitting through the halls trying to be social all of the time. I was polite but spent a lot of time just listening to kids and staff. Others don't spend enough time in the halls or around the kids during arrival and dismissal. Teachers would often see and hear things they thought were just innocent conversation and these events can tip you off to more serious problems. Many a teacher put me on to more serious problems that were nipped before they could escalate into serious stuff. You do less talking and more listening and you remain proactive at all times (kind of like our OEA STRS Board should have been doing during the past 12 years). It's better to stop a problem before it really gets started than playing firefighter following a major incident.

RH Jones: Expediting HB 315

From RH Jones, April 26, 2008
Subject: The next big thing: HB. 315
To all:
Confidence is blooming this spring. That said, any further delay of this important House Bill 315 (The retired teacher health care bill) will take the bloom off of Ohio’s public school districts chances this coming late July of recruiting and retaining the best of the young teachers for Ohio’s traditional classrooms. Contrary to the timid and the fearful who may be thinking that: “The outlook for expedited action is slim this year”. The recent energy legislation is now in Ohio’s history, so the NEXT BIG THING to expedite in this legislature should be this dynamic bill.
As the shadows lengthen and evening comes earlier this fall, and the fever of the recruiting season is over, it will then be too late to help in teacher recruitment for this year. Meekly waiting until after the November election is not what Ohio needs. Without any further delay, it is time now to get the work done and to vote this legislation into law. Timid negativism on this issue will not get Ohio propelling onward to a better future.
RHJones, a Concerned Ohio Retired Educator

Mr. 'T' re: the pillmakers and the election

From Duane Tron, April 24, 2008
Subject: Re: don't think the pillmakers are interested in the Presidential election? on!
We need a NEW third party and kick all of the bums out. Do you honestly think the pill makers would have any sway with someone like me??? NOT!! Do you honestly think I'd suck up to the health
insurance companies??!! NOT!!! We aren't going to fix anything in DC with the same old garbage year after year and with all of the same old promises year after year. One would think the American people, both Republican and Democrat, would have wised up by now. My take?? We deserve every piece of garbage we get in DC because we are so STUPID we just keep sending them back time and time and again, and saying kick us some more! I've listened to all of their campaign bullshit, all of the empty promises, all of the same old, same old, and we're just going to get four more years of stick it up our you know what's because we love it!! Sorry! I don't feel sorry for anyone in this country any more apart from those of us who recognize that the people running aren't going to provide any real change. The only way we're going to change in this country is when the freaking economy hits rock bottom and we all start out equal again like in 1929. You heard it right here!
Mr. T
From John Curry, April 24, 2008
Subject: don't think the pillmakers are interested in the Presidential election? on!
Pharma Is Still Betting On Barack Obama
April 24th, 2008
By Ed Silverman
An industry that usually favors Republicans voted in favor of Barack Obama during a mock election held this week at the annual DTC National Conference. The Democratic hopeful won a “primary” vote against Hillary Clinton by a wide margin of 59 percent to 40 percent. And against John McCain, the Republican nominee, Obama garnered a 53 percent majority.
“Given the Republican leanings of the drug industry, it is somewhat surprising to see Barack Obama so handily defeat John McCain,” Bob Ehrlich, ceo DTC Perspectives, which hosted the conference, says in a statement. “Of course, that could be an indication that McCain’s frequent anti-industry comments have made him unpopular with drug company marketers. Or, it could reflect that drug industry marketers do not vote with their employer interests as their primary concern.”
Obama is outdistancing everyone when it comes to contributions [click image to enlarge], which so far total $636,327, compared with $567,581 for Clinton and just $172,750 for McCain, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In general, 59 percent of the combined $2.4 million given to all of the various contenders, including those who have since dropped out, went to Democratic candidates. The totals include PAC contributions and contributions from individuals giving more than $200, as reported to the Federal Election Commission through March 31.
In a separate vote by the attendees, 61 percent look for additional regulations on DTC to be approved by year’s end or by early 2009. The group also was pessimistic about the direction of ad spending, with 35 percent expecting a reduction in ad budgets and 36 percent saying that budgets wouldn’t change this year. Only 28 percent expect DTC budgets to increase in 2008.
Hat tip to Pharmagossip


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oklahoma superintendent on voucher bill: 'If this continues, we will see more segregation of the rich and the poor'

From John Curry, April 23, 2008
Subject: A gutsy school super from Muskogee [OK] speaks out on vouchers..Ohio's not the only state fighting public school privatization!?
About Your School: Superintendent calls bill an attack on public schools
By Derald Glover
April 22, 2008
Everyone knows that education must continually improve and change. Everyone also knows that the United States has become powerful by attempting to educate all kids with an equal education. I am writing this article to make people aware of a bill at our state Legislature that will open the door to taxpayer dollars being siphoned to private schools.
Senate Bill 2093, the so called “New Hope Scholarship Program,” is an all-out attack mode on public education. The measure would give a 50 percent tax credit to individuals who donate to a fund providing private school scholarships. This tax credit would be on top of any charitable tax deductions donors already receive.
The Oklahoma bill creates a voucher system that would take public dollars and transfer them through the use of tax credits to private schools. The end result is still fewer resources left for those students who remain in public schools.
In the past three or four years, the Legislature has given more than $700 million to the wealthy in tax cuts. That, in a time when, education, roads and bridges, prisons and the Department of Human Services are all underfunded. This voucher credit is another tax cut for the wealthy.
As of April 16, schools do not have a budget allocation for next year, even though the law gives April 1st as the deadline for this to occur. What’s even worse is that after two years of record collections for the state, schools have not been funded for the current year in the amount promised last session.
No doubt, public schools have room to improve, but they are certainly not as bad as the those who promote vouchers want to indicate. Our public schools are required to teach all children. That’s the rich, poor, those with special needs, and those with language barriers. Private schools have the luxury of selecting the privileged few. If the Legislature would fund schools properly (just meet the regional average for per pupil expenses) and eliminate the unfunded mandates, improvement will occur.
Passage of SB 2093 will further erode funding for public education. As vouchers expand, less funding will be available for public education. If this continues, we will see more segregation of the rich and the poor. This goes against the very idea of “public education.” Competition is great and I would totally support a voucher plan that required any school that accepts a dollar of taxpayer money to be subject to the same legal requirements as is imposed on a public school. However that will not happen.
Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to kill SB 2093.

Dispatch: STRS, OPERS, & money down the drain!?

From John Curry, April 23, 2008
Subject: STRS, OPERS, & money down the drain!?
National City Shareholders say bank mismanaged interests
April 23, 2008
By Mike Pramik
The decision by National City Corp. to sell a major stake to private investors might have angered the bank's shareholders, but the move was one of two distasteful choices the company had available, industry analysts said yesterday.
The Cleveland-based financial-services company, which employs nearly 1,900 people in Columbus, agreed this week to sell a $7 billion stake to a group of investors led by New York buyout firm Corsair Capital.
The deal allowed National City to retain its independence, its headquarters and its management team.
That could be a mixed blessing, said Gerard Cassidy, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. Since Peter Raskind took over as chief executive in July, National City's stock price has tumbled to $6.26 from $31.59, an 80 percent plunge.
The company posted a $171 million loss in the first quarter. That followed a $333 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2007, reflecting the bank's overexposure to a portfolio of subprime and other risky mortgage loans. Shareholders have filed multiple class-action lawsuits, alleging executive mismanagement.
"I think it's a sad situation for the shareholders of this company to have as many of these senior people involved in it that got them into this struggle, whether board members or senior management," Cassidy said. "If they really wanted to do what was right for shareholders, more heads would be rolling."
National City employees might be among the biggest losers. For years, the company made contributions to employee retirement funds in National City stock. And although employees were free to sell the stock and seek a more-balanced portfolio, many likely were counting on nest eggs layered with company shares.
"A lot of people have lost a ton of money just via holdings in 401(k) and stock options," Cassidy said. "It's painful. It's a tragedy that something like this could happen."
Two of Ohio's biggest pension firms say they have been trying to rid themselves of National City stock.
The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio sold 800,000 National City shares in March at $13 each, while retaining 700,000 shares, spokeswoman Laura Ecklar said.
National City shares traded generally between $20 and $37 between 2001 and fall 2007.
The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System reduced its exposure to National City to about 800,000 shares, equal to one-fiftieth of 1 percent of the system's $32.7 billion U.S. equity portfolio, spokesman Richard Baker said.
According to terms of the deal, National City will issue 126.2 million shares of common stock at $5 each, and it will offer institutional investors about 63,000 shares of convertible preferred stock.
In a research report written yesterday, JPMorgan Chase called the capital issue "surprisingly large," one that "dilutes existing shares by a whopping 70 percent."
National City might have been pressed by federal regulators to make a deal, said Fred Cummings, president of Elizabeth Park Capital Management in suburban Cleveland.
"They were in desperate straits," he said. "I think it's the best step to realize the most value over time."
National City said early this month that it was seeking to either sell the company or seek investors. Fifth Third Bancorp and Key Bank were among the rumored suitors.
Cummings said the word was that any bids that surfaced were "very low," meaning that shareholders wouldn't have been better off in the short term if another bank bought National City.
"We can only speculate they were in that $4 to $5 (per-share) range," Cummings said.
Andrew Karolyi, a finance professor at Ohio State University, thinks the deal is the best shareholders could expect and wonders why they punished the stock on Monday, when the share price fell 28 percent. Shares yesterday closed up 23 cents, or 3.8 percent. "I don't think there was much choice," he said. "Capital infusion among these banks that have been particularly exposed to this subprime lending seems to be a matter of course."
Cassidy thinks National City faces a tough road to recovery. After the new investors exercise preferred stock options, the company will have more than 2 billion outstanding shares, up from about 600,000.
That will dilute their value, making it difficult for management to increase earnings per share. But perhaps more important, Cassidy said, is that there's no certainty that National City's "good" mortgage portfolio would survive an economic recession.

RH Jones re: Ohio energy bill and HB 315

From RH Jones, April 23, 2008
Subject: Agreement on
energy bill-next HB. 315?
To all:
Today, 04/23/08, the media announced the long awaited passage of Ohio (OH) energy bill. It involved, thankfully, compromises by the Republican Party. This bill’s passage -- only one vote against -- will help to gain a healthy economy for OH.
With both parties now balanced, it is the time to consider another forward move for OH: that of passage of HB. 315. This bill will provide funding help for retired teacher health care (HC). With Pre-K-12 education skills, technical training skills and skills needing college education, the state needs to attract competent and well-qualified instructors. HB. 315 will help in doing just that. The need is there, and HB. 315 is there to provide this essential legislation. This wonderfully crafted bipartisan bill needs quick passage!
This is the opinion of a voter who wants the best for his state and its people,
RHJones, an OH STRS retired teacher member

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Canton Repository: Charter schools subject to state's open records, meetings laws

From John Curry, April 22, 2008
Subject: Ohio Supreme Court take've been one-upped!
"The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued the decision about charter schools, sees clearer evidence of Ohioans' right to track their own tax money than the Ohio Supreme Court does."
Canton Repository
April 22, 2008
Court sees need for public oversight
Private nonprofit organizations that operate public schools in Ohio must abide by the state's open records and open meetings laws. This recent ruling by a federal court, which affects charter schools in the state, is welcome for two reasons.
• The first, obvious reason is that Ohio taxpayers, who fund charter schools, can exercise oversight over those schools.
• The ruling also is cause for hope for Ohioans who support, as we do, public access to the records of private organizations that do government work.
The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which issued the decision about charter schools, sees clearer evidence of Ohioans' right to track their own tax money than the Ohio Supreme Court does.
If this sounds like a familiar issue, it is because the Ohio Supreme Court has tackled it twice in recent years, doing the public no favors in the process.
In a case that The Repository lost in 2006, the court ruled 4-3 that the now-defunct Nova Behavioral Health did not have to open its records solely on the grounds that it was funded almost entirely with public money (through what was then the Stark County Mental Health Board).
The same year, the court denied Betty Montgomery, then state auditor, the ability to see financial records of Oriana House, a private addiction treatment facility in Summit County that was funded primarily with tax money. The court fashioned a four-part test, nearly impossible to meet, for disclosure of the records of such organizations. The test included requirements that the agency be created by government or be created as a way to avoid complying with open-government laws.
This is a far cry from the federal court's ruling on Ohio charter schools. The federal court said that public access laws are among the forms of state regulation that the privately operated schools must follow.
This will be helpful support for the cause of public oversight of the public's business.

Monday, April 21, 2008

CORE Alert

From CORE, April 21, 2008
After we pay the bills for this STRS election, we will be tapped out with barely enough money to keep our bank account open. We have an immediate need for more donations from our members and others if CORE is to continue its important mission. Bills for CORE’s mailbox, website, and accounting fees must be paid.
CORE is totally dependent on contributions to run election campaigns. Candidates cannot legally spend over a small amount, and CORE pays for flyers, mailings, and deliveries. Some CORE members have driven hundreds of miles delivering flyers as well as bulk mailings and UPS deliveries. In those cases, CORE offers to help with gas expenses.
This year was a big campaign and flyers were ordered and delivered all over the state to as many educators in as many school districts as possible. We did our best job getting Dan Vincent's name throughout the state with our volunteers and channels in every county. More flyers than ever were distributed.
It is felt that with this enormous effort, CORE is more widely recognized and accepted which lays groundwork for future elections. Next year, there will be 3 STRS Board vacancies: 2 retired educator seats and 1 active educator seat. Terms of office will be completed for retiree reps, Dennis Leone and Jeff Chapman as well as active educator rep, Mary Ann Cervantes.
CORE NEEDS MONEY TO BE ABLE TO COMPETE IN THESE ELECTIONS!!!!! We cannot continue elections without you. We are growing and our base grows stronger with each election. This year we learned more effective ways to distribute our election flyers which will help us in future elections.
We have depleted our funds in the past couple of elections and now is the time to dig deep and give what you can to keep CORE viable in ELECTION 2009!!!
Please forward this message to all actives and retirees for our cause. We need donations to continue our work.
WE NEED YOU TO HELP US!!! Please send contributions to:
...P.O. BOX 141358
...COLUMBUS, OH 43214
CORE: What has CORE done for active and retired STRS members? To answer this question, we suggest folks refer to the yellow CORE pamphlet for more details: CORE formed due to a lack of action from your other organizations regarding misuse of your contribution earnings. Money was misspent on exotic trips, luxurious hotel rooms, and dinners complete with bar bills. Car use was extended to families of Board members, STRS' staff childcare center, fitness center, and cafeteria subsidies were paid with YOUR money. Credit card use, extravagance in rebuilding the STRS workplace which included costly artwork, polished stones, and marble spoke of corporate surroundings instead of representing modest educators. Rubber stamp voting approvals were the way of the former STRS Board 100% of the time on any wanted perks and requested votes.
STRS did not do long term planning to obtain a stream of revenue for your health care. The former Executive Director Herb Dyer said many times that he wanted STRS out of the health care business. Initiatives for legislation for health care were passed over in the early 90's with OEA and STRS saying it was not necessary. Long term planning to preserve funds was not initiated soon enough to offset the devastating burden of saving health care for retirees. Thus, multitudes of teachers retired and received NO forewarning of the looming untenable cost increases for their health care. These retirees were robbed of their retirements, and many had to return to work to pay for health care in retirement.
CORE with Leone and Lazares as their leaders is responsible for the conviction of the former Executive Director Dyer and 6 former STRS Board members who misspent your money. Extravagant trips, perks, and pleasures are PAST HISTORY. John Lazares wrote an ethics policy now in place at STRS. Dennis Leone has initiated many policy changes in travel, cars, and credit cards which has saved a lot of money for the pension fund. Dr. Leone also was successful in restricting the Executive Director's freedom to spend pension funds without STRS Board approval. Fitness center and cafeteria subsidies are gone and subsidies for the STRS staff child care center are now cost neutral. Bonuses, merit raises, etc. are more objective now than subjective with every worker receiving money perks for doing their jobs. CORE, Lazares, and Leone DEMANDED no contract be signed without documents in hand versus the old standard of voting without seeing contracts.
Each month, CORE representatives attend STRS Board meetings on your behalf to speak to the Board on specific issues and to monitor voting and proper policy. An extensive email and blog system has evolved to keep you informed of all important issues. This is all done by volunteers who receive no compensation for their time and efforts.
Contributions are necessary to continue the work of CORE in election efforts. Please donate any amount you can as often as you can to further the work of CORE which is 100% reliant on your generosity.

Notes from Molly on the April CORE meeting and speakers at STRS Board meeting

From Molly Janczyk, April 21, 2008
Subject: CORE/STRS Meeting: 4/17/08
STRS News and speeches can be viewed on:
Important issues:
CORE has the needed volunteers to serve as Trustees to continue its incorporation when the terms are up in September: Jim Reed, Mary Thomas, Kathie Bracy, Chuck Chapman/Nancy Boomhower, Ryan Holderman, George Justice, Marie Fetters, Donna Seamon. Incorporation allows us to accept donations for elections, mailings or legal counsel, etc. NO ONE in CORE receives any compensation for serving and we are all volunteers.
Dave Parshall agreed to continue in a spokesperson position in whatever way is determined by membership. Suggestions were made that we go from Officers to a Chairman (Dave P.) and Trustee Board. Many do not wish to serve as an officer per se but do agree to Trustee positions. This would solve that.
Ryan, Constitution Advisor, stated that needs be in writing which I submitted to start the process should it be decided to go in that direction. Ryan is informing us on what we need to do to act within our Constitution guidelines for any changes.
C. J. Myers is considering continuing as Treasurer and will let us know.
A Secretary would be helpful. Perhaps, it could be on a rotating basis as this is not a popular position. WHEN I am able to attend, I offer to take minutes but cannot always attend. I can do several times a year.
Definite plans are up for vote and this much is what was determined if membership wishes this direction.
STRS: Jim Reed and Betsy Cook spoke.
Betsy Cook praised John Lazares for his compassion, humor, tireless representation standing up for membership carrying out his position with integrity and honor rebuilding trust at STRS.
Jim N. Reed spoke of actives voting without thorough research in the 2008 Active Board election. Few investments are more important and the dissemination of candidate information should be a top priority. He was dismayed at a few administrators' reactions to flyers, denying access in the halls of education. "A mind is a terrible thing to waste!" While most administrators were agreeable to freedoms, some may not learn that Vincent was a classroom teacher before continuing his education to become an administrator disseminating his abilities among educators. Yet, Myers is touted being the only classroom educator. Lazares and Leone have brought enlightenment to the STRS Board due to their vast experience. Jim commended Lazares for his perseverance and commends any Board member who thinks independently and strives to adhere to the ORC.
Another speaker thanked STRS for allowing rehires to continue their HC. This group gets no funding from school systems and totally operates on its own through donations for maintaining a school for expelled kids. They pay for their own HC and STRS helped them keep their HC.
Leone commented that while some are upset with the change of policy for rehires and HC in 2009, remember the 57,000 retirees -- approximately 1/2 of the retired members earn pensions of $37,000 or below while rehires earn their pensions and salaries and some make up to $200,000 annually. Changing this benefit for rehires to have insurance through school districts saves STRS $2,000,000 a year.
[Translation: Thousands of retirees (close to 50% of the total) whose annual pension is less than $38,000 and new teachers earning maybe $25,000 are currently SUBSIDIZING health care for double-dippers who are taking home $200,000 annually. Is this FAIR? Is this RIGHT? KBB]

Toledo Blade: Universal healthcare more equitable than current system

From John Curry, April 21, 2008
Subject: ...from a Toledo surgeon....we are in a bunch of sinkholes!
Photo: Dr. S. Amjad Hussain
"One sinkhole gets all the attention but in reality is a tiny one. Malpractice insurance premiums and jury awards constitute but only 0.46 percent of total health spending."
"The big sinkholes are the healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical industries."
"Since 2002, health-insurance companies have raked profits that defy any business model and could be labeled as obscene. Between 2002 and 2005 they had profit margins of 152.7 percent, 60 percent, 32.9 percent, and 21.4 percent respectively."
April 21, 2008
Toledo Blade
Universal healthcare more equitable than current system
THE American healthcare system is broken. But instead of addressing the core problems, we are constantly being bamboozled by razzle-dazzle and smoke-and-mirror routines to make us believe we have the best healthcare in the world. The simple and plain truth is we do not.
The first pinprick to deflate our self-delusion came eight years ago when the World Health Organization ranked healthcare systems of 191 countries. While Italy and France got the top spots, the United States was ranked 37th. We were 33rd in death rates for children under 5 and we ranked lower than some countries in sub-Saharan Africa for immunization.
More recently the prestigious Commonwealth Fund has been publishing comparative health statistics from industrialized countries and we don't look good on that scale either.
The Commonwealth Fund compares indices like access to healthcare, health coverage, status of national health, quality of life, and fairness of the system to the citizens. We trail the industrialized countries in all indices. While we were better in providing emergency and acute care, we lagged behind in taking care of chronically ill.
And then there is the elephant in the room that no one seems to notice or care about. There are an estimated 47 million people in this country who have no health coverage. A majority of them just cannot afford to buy the coverage. President Bush in his "decider" mode said that these people could always get treatment in an emergency room. In his simplistic solution one could hear the echoes of Mary Antoinette, who is believed to have said that if the peasants cannot get bread they should eat cake. Some of our uninsured do go to the emergency rooms when they are acutely ill but otherwise they have no safety net.
In one area, expenditure on healthcare, we are far ahead of industrialized nations. We spend $6,102 per person (15.3 percent of the U.S. economy) on healthcare, whereas other industrialized countries spend little more than half that amount. And they live longer than us, have better health, and are generally more satisfied with their care than we are.
So where is the sinkhole that sucks up all that money for which we have precious little to show? Actually there is more than one.
One sinkhole gets all the attention but in reality is a tiny one. Malpractice insurance premiums and jury awards constitute but only 0.46 percent of total health spending. Practicing defensive medicine by ordering unnecessary and redundant tests adds about 9 percent to the cost but, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is not in itself that significant.
The big sinkholes are the healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
Since 2002, health-insurance companies have raked profits that defy any business model and could be labeled as obscene. Between 2002 and 2005 they had profit margins of 152.7 percent, 60 percent, 32.9 percent, and 21.4 percent respectively.
The pharmaceutical companies are no different. According to Dr. Marcia Angell, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, the top pharmaceutical companies made more in profits than the rest of the Fortune 500 companies combined. In just the six months after the cumbersome, complicated, and industry-friendly Medicare Drug Plan became law in January, 2006, the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies raked in $8 billion in profits.
This broken and inherently unfair system has been with us for decades, and all efforts to reform it have been defeated in the Congress. A majority of lawmakers, on both sides of the political divide, are beholden to healthcare insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.
During her husband's first term as president, Hillary Clinton tried her hand at reforming the system but was soundly defeated. Now, in the wake of the forthcoming presidential election, both she and Barak Obama are repeating the same gospel of change. One wonders if they would have the political courage to take on the healthcare giants. As we all know, it takes more than wishful thinking to plug the giant sinkholes that have been sucking the life, literally, out of American people.
Universal healthcare is the crying need of our country. It is not a perfect system - no system is - but it is more equitable and fair than the one we have been living under for so long.
Dr. S. Amjad Hussain is a Toledo surgeon whose column appears every other week in The Blade.

Ohio Health Insurance Guide

From John Curry, April 21, 2008
What are the rules and regulations re. obtaining and keeping health insurance in Ohio? If the health insurance companies want to sell their policies in Ohio they have to live by these rules. Georgetown University has published state insurance rules for all 50 is their Ohio booklet. This is in the form of Adobe Acrobat Reader and is 44 pages in length. John
A Consumer's Guide to Getting and Keeping Health Insurance in Ohio: Click here for this PDF file

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Minutes of April CORE meeting

From Glenna Barr, April 20, 2008
Subject: CORE April meeting minutes approved
On April 17, 2008 in the cafeteria room behind the Sublett Room at the STRS Building, Dave Parshall, CORE president, called the meeting to order. Approximately 26 members and two guests, Lou DiOrio and Roger Rhodes, attended. Officers attending were Dave Parshall, president; Mary Ellen Angeletti, vice president; CJ Myers, treasurer and Glenna Barr, secretary. Trustees present: Nancy Hamant, Chuck Angeletti, Nancy Boomhower, Betty Bell and Lloyd Knudsen substituting for Chuck Chapman.
The March meeting minutes were approved by all present. The treasurer's report was given by CJ Myers. There were no committee reports.
OLD BUSINESS; Election update. A printing mistake of some of the Dan Vincent flyers by Ink Well Printers has been corrected, and Ink Well will absorb the additional costs. CORE has done a good job of supporting Dan Vincent, and CORE has also gotten its name out around the state. The people at the April CORE meeting thanked Molly Janczyk, Mary Ellen Angeletti and Kathie Bracy for their great work in this election. A gift was presented to Molly for all her great work on Dan Vincent's election on distribution of information and flyers.
NEW BUSINESS; A discussion was held as to what direction CORE is to take in the future Dave threw out topics to the meeting attendees to discuss such as: Will CORE keep the same framework? Will we suspend CORE temporarily until the next board election in 2009? We need people to serve as officers and to come to STRS meetings. There was a healthy discussion; sentiments went this way and that. Ryan Holderman served as moderator over items involving the CORE Constitution. He said whatever we do, we have to follow the constitution. Conclusions were reached but will be discussed at the May meeting. Molly stated that all we need is a Board of Trustees so we can still be a corporation. These people consented to be trustees: Jim N. Reed, Mary Thomas, George Justice, Ryan Holderman, Kathie Bracy, Dave Parshall, Nancy Boomhower, Marie Fetters, Donna Seaman, and Chuck Chapman with Molly JANCZYK and Glenna Barr as alternates. CORE also needs a treasurer whose name will be on the corporation papers. This leaves important decisions to be made at the May meeting and as many members as possible need to attend as amendments will need to be made to the Constitution in May.
Discussions on other topics were held. Nancy Hamant discussed the future of Medicare and the privatization of health care. Herm Fisher, Clinton County, offered suggestions on recruiting new members for CORE. The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be May 15, 2008.
Submitted by Glenna Barr, Secretary

RH Jones: Active/retired teacher voting power for HB 315

From RH Jones, April 20, 2008
Subject: Active/retired teacher voting power for HB315
To all:
The Ohio legislature's putting HB 315 ( The retired educators’ health care bill) on the back burner in the FIRES committee has caused active/retired educators to burn. How long, how long do we have to wait? Our burns will need healing.
This is an Ohio House Bill that was wonderfully crafted by both political parties working in harmony with each other. We are waiting, because to the utility legislation is being "tied up" by the House Public Utilities Committee, as reported in the Beacon today, but chaired by Stark County’s John Hagan (R-Alliance) held the hearing at 3:30 a.m. last Tuesday. Then GOP’s Husted, who is Speaker of the Ohio House, wanted another amendment at 9:00 p.m. last Wednesday! Certainly politicians who have been known to use such undemocratic tactics, and consistently delay progressive legislation that benefits Ohio and its peoples' progress, are in grave danger of being voted out of office. They should not be comforted by the fallacy that we voters soon forget. The truth is this: We have long memories.
My opinion,
RHJones, an Ohio STRS retired teacher member
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
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