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Archive for October, 2010

There is no doubt that soft drinks are making people fat, and that giving soft drinks to children increases their chances of becoming obese. Health officials warn that 12 ounces of soda everyday add 15 extra pounds per person per year. There is one obvious solution to curb the problem: a corrective tax on the consumption of sugared drinks and soda purchases.

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and New York State officials did certainly think about it. But in these insane times when corporate power and tea-partiers have confiscated the political discourse while democrats are hiding, a tax on these products is a long shot. The solution, for our health-minded, paternalistic New York State law makers: a ban on the purchase of sugared drinks and sodas with food stamps. The poor shall be virtuous, even if nobody else is. Also, the proposal plays the trendy cord of fiscal responsibility: how dare the poor gorge themselves with sweet drinks they buy with our hard-earned tax dollar anyway? Finally, the proposal is conveniently risk-free: The poor don’t vote.

Why not a ban on the possession of car by the poor to curb global warming?

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The Advertising Council is about to launch an advertising campaign for the Department of Health and Human Services. The punch line: “Take Time to Be  a Dad.” The campaign is targeted at minorities;  it is assumed that white males know how to spend time with their kids. Among the truths that the campaign wants to stress, the fact that the smallest moments between a dad and his kid make a difference, and “I don’t need to be a hero to be a dad.”  I feel much better already.

Nicely-marketed paternalism stinks as much as the nineteenth centuryish, holy Joe do-gooder one. The government has its priorities on fatherhood wrong. If the Department of Health and Human Services really cares about fathers being fathers, the first thing it has to do is to preserve their rights. In New York State for instance, that entails changing the family laws of the state.  The government should spend whatever it takes to change the mentalities in family court. Most judges, support magistrates and law guardians have one view on fatherhood: “Pay stupid.” Time with kids is for mum.

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For many long years, fatherhood to me has had only one dimension: garnishments for child support and unreinmbursed medical expenses for my daughters. Since August 2010, I am enjoying the new rights granted to me by the Supreme Court of New York: being allowed to talk to providers of medical services to my daughters and ask them to fill insurance claim forms: exhilarating.

First order of business: trying to recoup part of some $10,800 of orthodontic expenses for my daughter Chloé between 2006 to

 

Dialogue de sourds (lepeintrewalje.be)

 

August 2010;  From 2006 to March 2008, I was insured with Cigna Dental. No hope there: the $8,000 and change of orthodontic expenses incurred during this period are too old to be claimed (I have to remember to ask Cigna to send courtesy t-shirts with the Cigna logo to Ex and Support Magistrate Grey). From April 2008 to November 2009, I had Delta Dental: maybe a slight glimpse of hope for another $2,000 with the “Delta Dental over-the-year review”. Last, a remaining paltry $800 from the beginning of 2010 on, when I became insured with Metlife. I  finally learned after four calls that I can forget about it. These expenses are for follow-up visits after the braces were removed in December 2009, and I was not insured by Metlife then. Why is Metlife not covering follow-up visits? Because. They just ain’t. Have a nice day.

It is not difficult to figure out why the medical professions and private insurance companies don’t want to change anything to the current health insurance system. The former charge whatever they want, the latter cover whatever they want, how much they want and whenever they want. In the middle stand the insured patients, for whom almost every claim is an ordeal.

The main advantage of the new health care law that will be effective four years from now is to allow the 47 million uninsured American to have access to the crumbs of coverage that the currently insured benefit from. Better than nothing, but so tiny compared with what the problem required and what we could have had: a public option (for instance an extension of medicare to the rest of us, as Paul Krugman vindicated) that would have provided us  wide, non-contested coverage. That’s what Tea partiers will never get: public insurance companies are not in the business of denying claims.

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