Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baucus Sells Out

The Chair of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus, a supposed Democrat representing Montana has offered up his version of health care reform. he is viewed as the stumbling block to a public option and he came through for the insurance industry. Bear in mind insurance companies have funded his reelection campaign to the tune of three million dollars, though of course he would tell you no way is he influenced by more money than I will earn in the rest of my working life. Also interesting to note, none of the Republicans on Baucus's critical committee have joined with him in supporting his plan and he has gutted the public health care option to bring Republicans into his supposed "compromise." I tell you this: if the insurance companies don't want a public option it has to be good for we the people. Period. Let me also point this out: no member of the US Congress has ever been denied health insurance through their collective Congressional health insurance scheme for pre-existing health conditions or for rescissions (which are claims by private insurers that people lied on their applications and thus void their policies when they need them the most). How I wish we had FDR at the helm in the White House right now, a man who was reviled far more than President Obama ever has been and who stood up and did what was right. The only trouble is, in a country that doesn't know it's own history no one knows what I mean when I mention FDR, the New Deal or the Great Society.
I found this Associated Press report on Baucus's explanation of his sell out plans on the Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — Sen. Max Baucus on Wednesday brought out the much-awaited Finance Committee version of an American health-system remake – a landmark $856 billion, 10-year measure that starts a rough ride through Congress without visible Republican backing.

The bill by Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, would make major changes to the nation's $2.5 trillion health care system, including requiring all individuals to purchase health care or pay a fine, and language prohibiting insurance company practices like charging more to people with more serious health problems.

"This is a unique moment in history where we can finally reach an objective so many of us have sought for so long," said Baucus, D-Mont. "The Finance Committee has carefully worked through the details of health care reform to ensure this package works for patients, for health care providers and for our economy."

Consumers would be able to shop for and compare insurance plans in a new purchasing exchange. Medicaid would be expanded, and caps would be placed on patients' yearly health care costs. The plan would be paid for with $507 billion in cuts to government health programs and $349 billion in new taxes and fees, including a tax on high-end insurance plans and fees on insurance companies and medical device manufacturers.

But the bill fails to fulfill President Barack Obama's aim of creating a new government-run insurance plan – or option – to compete with the private market. It proposes instead a system of nonprofit member-owned cooperatives, somewhat akin to electric co-ops that exist in many places around the country. That was one of many concessions meant to win over Republicans.

In other ways though, including its overall cost and payment mechanisms, the bill tracks closely with the priorities Obama laid out in his speech to Congress last week.

Baucus is still holding out hope for GOP support when his committee actually votes on the bill, probably as early as next week.

Salt Run Bridge

There is a canal that runs through Key West and it enters or exits the island here:

The Salt Run Bridge separates North Roosevelt Boulevard into two pieces at the Overseas Market Plaza, pictured below where TGIF restaurant holds court:

The bridge marks the transition from the 30mph zone closer to downtown from the wild west 35mph nose-bleed zone of the outer reaches of North Roosevelt. The channel itself, as close as you could come to a river in Key West flows south, covered by mangroves, towards the airport and flows under Flagler Avenue near 10th street before turning east and becoming Riviera Canal and debouching into Cow Key Channel under the Riviera Canal Bridge, similar in all respects to this one:

The Riviera Canal essay is here: The Salt Run Bridge is a convenient access point for shopping, weirdly enough, for people who live at anchor in the waters north of Key West and it isn't uncommon at all to find boats, like this inflatable pulled up in the mangroves. It's almost axiomatic in Key West, if there is a mangrove bush there may be someone living in it, or under it or simply using it as a trash can:Despite the abundance of public trash cans in Key West these days, people still somehow manage to dump their trash where it is most unsightly. I remember these unsightly garbage heaps even when I lived aboard in these areas nearly twenty years ago. I used to land my dinghy in the bushes across the street from Burger King just down the road from here and I was always struck by the heaps of trash. My buddy Curt shrugged and put it down to Key West being a transient town. I figured it was the shortage of public trash disposal facilities back then. Yet today it is still an issue, intractable as ever.
One shouldn't be surprised, this is a major bicycle and foot thoroughfare and people, even of good will, spill stuff all the time I suppose, though I didn't see anyone doing that.This is a far cry from the narrow streets of Old Town, Home depot is off to the left, and Overseas Market and Key Plaza are to the right:
This looks like anywhere suburban South Florida, but it's actually North Roosevelt inbound toward everyone's favorite vacation town:
Key West efficiency:
That this isn't suburban mainland Florida is given away by the abundance of scooters:
In winter this is the only easy way to cross North Roosevelt though one can see pedestrians running the gauntlet almost anywhere day and night. Accidents aren't frequent but they do happen and people do get hurt.
Call me cowardly but I like to choose my battles more carefully. This lot is in a hurry:
Why some people insist on riding their bikes on the Boulevard (as North Roosevelt is known) I couldn't say when there is an ample bike path on the seaward side of the street:
Besides from the bike path you get to see all manner of interesting things, like the mains pipe that brings water to Key West from the South Florida Aquifer about 140 miles away:This is the view looking north up Salt Run creek past Parrot Bay Resort towards the anchorage:
And this is looking south at the lagoon that sits behind TGIF and Ross and Pier One department stores in the Overseas Market:
And this is the No Trespassing sign next to the well worn trail that leads mysteriously off into the mangroves.
Like I said, show me a mangrove bush and I'll show you someone making use of it in Key West.