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Sunday, December 15, 2013 ISSUE #782

What America learned from Mandela
     The world has been celebrating Nelson Mandela’s life in South Africa. Despite spending more than twenty years in prison, which would have destroyed the will of most men, he proceeded to lead “his people” out of perpetual slavery without a revolution.

    Oddly, during the various celebrations of his life, instead of learning more about his 95 years, Americans primarily learned that the Prime Minister of Denmark is a lovely blond. We also thought we were learning Zulu sign language, but that turned out to be gibberish.

    Last week I reported on the experience of an Obamacare Navigator. I talked to him again  to see if the healthcare.gov computer system is working better. You may remember that he had helped six people try to get enrolled. Well, in the last week six more called and two of ‘em came to the office to enroll. One got far enough to get an ID number. But so far for this Navigator, no client has made it all the way to making a payment for health insurance. And among the ones he helped, none are the healthy young men we need to sign up.

    The Navigator told me people are taking the problems in stride. None of his clients have resorted to yelling or attacking his computer with a chainsaw. Their patience is logical because for ones who do get their information entered, hackers may get it before the insurance companies.

    I have heard from others on their experience with the new healthcare programs. In Maryland, where the state operates the system, it seems to be working to get people signed up. But a self-employed friend in another state has been trying to sign up for weeks, and got no farther than “error messages.”

    The White House has announced they want insurance companies to figure out how to cover folks when they show up at the hospital January 1, even if they aren’t enrolled. Secretary Sebelius had three years to get this system up and running, yet they give the insurance companies and medical professionals three weeks to work out a reimbursement plan. Of course folks will get treated. But doctors should send the bill to the Oval Office.      

    Congress reached an agreement on a budget, but not without some weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth among Republicans. The situation of Speaker Boehner vs. the Tea Party members reminds me of this Will Rogers quote (except I’ve switched the parties): “Republicans never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Republicans. If they agreed with each other, they would be Democrats.”      
Historic quote by Will Rogers:
    “The trouble with Democrats up to now has been that they have been giving the people ‘what they thought the people ought to have’ instead of what the people wanted.”
Saturday Evening Post, March 30, 1929

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