Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas is real

A fellow blogger posted a wonderful story that I'd like to share. There are so many miracles that happen everyday and this one is just as amazing.

Blog miracle saves Christmas for hard-luck family

Monday, December 22, 2008

Going once, going twice...SOLD! (Part 1)

Well...not exactly Blagojevich, but thanks for the shift in atmosphere. Chicago just got windier.

Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich (IL) was indicted earlier this month on political corruption charges; thus continuing the state's long history of "equalizing [political] pressures" and contributing to what makes Chicago the "Windy City."

According to the indictment, Blagojevich tried to (1) "obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions...," (2) "use state funds for the private purpose of inducing the Tribune company to fire Chicago Tribune editorial board members critical of [him and] making their firing a condition of state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with Wrigley Field; and," (3) "[make] efforts to obtain personal financial benefits [...] in return for his appointment of a United States Senator."

But are we really surprised? This latest indictment proves that politics can at some point become a "mano y mano" exchange. I'll admit, I voted for this guy because any politician that promises reform (as they all do) gives us a bit of hope. During that time, the incumbent (Gov. Ryan) made Blago seem unsoiled and fresh. But like dirt...he eventually showed his roots.

Blago (which means "good-natured" in the Southern Slavic language), I'm sure wasn't too enthused when he was phoned at 6 am, according to reports, and told that an agent was at his door to arrest him. I wonder what he was thinking, after he said, "Ahh come on!" I picture Blago in bed with his wife when he gets the call, grabs his fine-tooth comb that he keeps on his night stand for that finely-feathered quaf, gently styles his hair (in case the cameras were outside), shakes his partner-in-crime wife and says, "We're hit! Man down! Man down! Call your daddy and see what he can do for me!"

Come on. Seriously. What politician hasn't tried to pad his/her pockets with political muscling (i.e. if you scratch my back I'll scratch yours), use his/her clout to impose sanctions on anyone who had anything negative to say about their ability to govern, or auction a senate seat? Ok...the auctioning is a new level of corruption, but you get the point.

Why are we surprised? Are we shocked that he was caught or are we amazed that someone pursued justice?

Corrupt political bulldozing has been the natural way of many Chicago figures and politicians back to the days of Al Capone. But certain amendments/laws were installed to aid in curtailing political corruption (i.e. 17th amendment). In September of this year, the Illinois State Senate passed an ethics reform bill that would curve the influence of money in the governor's office. Blagojevich vetoed the bill. Go figure. My advice to Blagojevich: Get a good lawyer because US Attorney General Peter Fitzgerald has been called, "Eliot Ness with a Harvard degree." Or as I like to call Mr. Fitzgerald, "a man on a mission."

Blago promises to fight the charges "until his last breath," which apparently he should have spared when he spoke candidly during 60 days of secretly-monitored conversations. According to the indictment, Blagojevich said that he knew President-elect Obama wanted a particular candidate to take his senate seat but that “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them.”

Yeah, so...again. Are we really surprised?

Well here's one surprise: Blago is not selfish when it comes to his political scamming. He tried to secure high-paying jobs for himself and his wife while using his golden-ticket, senate-seat appointment as leverage.  Bravo!

Blagojevich is definitely not just a cog in the "Chicago Machine." He's one of the strong screws.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Call an ambulance! Wait, are you sick enough?

(Disclaimer: This blog was written by me and published on another site approximately one year ago. So "today" would not be accurate.)

Today, we had healthcare open enrollment at my place of employment and I must say that I'm overwhelming pleased that in 2008, I will no longer have to make contributions for medical coverage - my employer will fully cover the cost. Bravo!

Our benefits rep and I started to discuss coverage details, deductibles, co-pays and such. We later began to talk about emergency coverage, ambulance usage, etc. In California (I don't know if this applies in other states) but according to the rep, most ambulance factions don't invoice the insurance company directly. They invoice YOU!

"Hmm," I thought. We continued to talk about PPO, HMO, in-network, out-of network, FSA, cost of prescriptions, etc. - but what stuck with me was the fact that my legitimacy in calling an ambulance was now up for debate.

Let me explain.

You will be invoiced if it is determined that an ambulance was used but not needed. In proving this point, someone gave the example of not calling an ambulance if you have a migraine. Well THAT is not a good example for me because I am one of the millions of Americans who suffer from migraines that typically block my vision when active. So how the heck am I suppose to get to the hospital should I feel that my head is about to explode? Oh wait, I guess I could stop mid delirium, try to focus my vision to call someone to pick me up and take me to hospital. Great point. [Insert sarcasm here.]

Who decides what's legitimate or not in calling an ambulance and when did this change? Now in all fairness, I began to think that some limitations had to be implemented to avoid an abuse of the system. Another co-worker mentioned that back in the day if you were picked up by an ambulance the inference was that whatever was going on with you was urgent and therefore you were seen immediately over those waiting in a triage unit. I dont know if the masses are all tired of being stuck in triage and are calling an ambulance for a toe splinter...[insert more sarcasm], but i need to be fair and recognize the potential for again...abuse of the system. Point taken. (I'm slightly off the soap box.)

Today the rep told me that once billed, you have to prove hospital admittance to have ambulance costs paid/covered. (I'm back on my soap box.)

Michael Moore's film "Sicko," examines the frivolous loop holes in our healthcare system as well as some of its harsh ramifications.

Check your healthcare coverage. Changes are happening and some are for the good, while others are just plain silly.