Andrew Taylor

Well written editorials from a UH student

Archive for September 2009

California’s REAL Death Panels, Big insurance Providers

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The situation in California is horrendous and rapidly worsening.

The Golden State is plagued with bankruptcy, wildfires and health care problems. California’s health care nightmares serve as a supporting reason for health care overhaul.

Insurance companies operating in California are denying coverage to patients at alarming rates, resulting in deadly outcomes.

According to the California Nurses Association (CNA) and National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), large private insurers are denying more than 21 percent of claims. Even with a physician’s order, FDA approval or dire need, many medical procedures are not granted due to insurance companies’ unwillingness to help.

Registered Nurse and CNA/NNOC Co-President Deborah Burger acknowledges the need for an overhaul of our health care system.

“With all the dishonest claims made by some politicians about alleged ‘death panels’ in proposed national legislation, the reality for patients today is a daily, cold-hearted rejection of desperately needed medical care by the nation’s biggest and wealthiest insurance companies simply because they don’t want to pay for it,” Burger said in a CNA/NNOC press release.

Many Americans who have evaded this problem are unaware of its severity. For thousands of others, this is not the case.

According to research conducted by the CNA and NNOC, chilling numbers for the first half of 2009 show the harsh reality. Of California’s leading insurers, Pacificare denied 39.6 percent of claims, Cigna 32.7 percent, Healthnet 30 percent, Kaiser Permanente 28.3 percent, Blue Cross 27.9 percent and Aetna 6.4 percent.

These outrageous figures not only serve as a call for action, but also as reminders of pain and suffering. One cannot be surprised that the driving cause behind this absurdity is the irrational greed for profit.

According to a CNA press release, “rejection of care is a very lucrative business for the insurance giants. The top 18 insurance giants racked up $15.9 billion in profits last year.”

If claim denials are roughly a $16 billion industry for health insurance providers, one can expect they are spending a few billion to lobby against an overhaul.

“The routine denial of care by private insurers is like the elephant in the room no one in the present national healthcare debate seems to want to talk about,” Burger said.

Taking to much time to overhaul health care or hiding the issue will continue to impede humane legal progress and growth as well as human productivity.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

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Written by aktaylor

September 25, 2009 at 11:31 pm

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Old Red Scare tactics, even older argument

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An increase in bipartisanship has not occurred and, unfortunately, the future is not filled with hope.

Conservatives do not hesitate to make accusations and gin up stories. They also haven’t given up on challenges coinciding with the Constitution. The right-wing media focuses on hype stories rather than real solutions.

Since February, most policies proposed by the Obama administration have not been challenged by intelligent solutions. Instead, when Obama proposed bailouts, no resolves were given. The media talked about tea parties and socialism.

Now with health care reform raging, we don’t hear about solutions that challenge public options. Instead, we are inundated with charges of death panels, socialism and communism. For the record, you can’t practice both socialism and communism.

So has one party really degenerated? Have conservative and moderate thinkers gone to hide in their closets and basements, waiting for their fears to recede? They have actually done the complete opposite.

Republicans, conservatives and moderates alike have been writing and thinking just as much as the people in President Barack Obama’s cabinet. So why then have we not heard these great counter proposals? Are the real right-wing, and the people that are leaning close to it, being silenced?

It turns out that their voice is intelligent and worth much thought, but it’s overshadowed by a simple case of supply and demand.

Greg Mankiw is one person who comes with many respectable ideas and proposals, but you won’t find him in the spotlight.

Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard, consistently shares his opinion of policy news and how the Obama administration is doing. One of his most recent blog postings is a an excerpt from an article written by one of his colleagues.

“There is our inefficient and inequitable system of tax-advantaged, employer-based health insurance,” School Dean Jeffrey S. Flier wrote. “While the federal tax code promotes overspending by making the majority unaware of the true cost of their insurance and care, the code is grossly unfair to the self-employed, small businesses, workers who stick with a bad job because they need the coverage, and workers who lose their jobs after getting sick.”

Mankiw’s acknowledgment of his colleague’s thoughts demonstrates an intelligent opinion of his own.

Mankiw is definitely not alone but there appears to be a small audience for respectable right-wing thinkers. Hopefully, they are all in the Senate or House, battling things out the correct way. The news is a constant reminder that this is not the case though.

When Obama gave his speech on health care, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)interrupted the president, yelling, “You lie!”

The true problem is the lack of demand for intelligent debate and the actual progress and attainment of successful reform. Droves of people have shown their value of fixing the issue at hand, time and again. The result has been the favoring of fun and conspiracy, not truth and law making.

Scares of communism and socialism get the public’s blood boiling. They bring out emotions and desires to scream and shout.

While almost 10 percent of our nation is unemployed, some are still worrying about Obama’s birth certificate. If that’s too outdated, there’s always a 2012 theory, or a forecast of Obama tripling his czar count and turning blood red.

Wall Street Journal’s Thomas Frank sufficiently captures the fuel for the demand of a good scare.

“Can you really hope to gin up a red scare without almost no reds? Sure you can. Because red scares are fun,” Frank wrote. “It’s somehow ennobling to believe that our leaders have secretly betrayed us; that beneath the placid, suit-and-tie surface lurks a hideous alien philosophy; that time is running out for our country; that we alone have figured it out and now we are stepping bravely forward to give the congressman a piece of our minds.”

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

September 23, 2009 at 1:56 am

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School smarts desired during recession

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In a depressed economy, investing in oneself is one of the smartest things to do. With high unemployment and companies scaling back their work forces, enrolling in college classes is more valuable than fighting for a job.

The problem is most students have to work while going to school. This leaves stressed students to keep everything afloat while getting an education.

The U.S. unemployment rate looks likely to continue climbing past 9 percent, making jobs harder to find. If you are thinking about turning down job offers and waiting to land a dream job after graduation, think again.

As the recession takes its toll, companies will hire less actively and subsequently reduce their payrolls.

To land a job, a potential graduate will need to plan on differentiating himself from the competition to have an advantage.

But how do students manage this? Some cut back by leasing an inexpensive apartment.

Others, it means staying at home with mom and dad for a less complete college experience. Despite how painful or mundane this might be for one’s social life, it allows a student to maximize savings while minimizing costs.

Finding cheap or free rent allows some students to work a part-time job while keeping up with studies for in a full-time school schedule.

Often the cost of an education sways people to enter the cold, depleted job market without a degree.

Yet, loans can help make education more affordable.

Our government subsidizes education to encourage people to procure college degrees and increase human capital.

An educational investment is always appealing to the open market, providing incentive for companies and firms to hire and utilize knowledgeable workers.

The value of a degree, although in some cases not particularly immediate, surpasses the cost of getting one.

Data shows that college graduates will earn more than non-college graduates in their lifetimes.

The benefits are not only fiscal, as learning enhances all aspects of a person’s life. In college, students gain valuable problem-solving skills, tools for thinking, and reasoning abilities.

Those who do not value a scholastic investment may earn money quickly at first, but soon their degree-wielding peers will displace them with a higher job market value.

In a Tuesday broadcast, President Barack Obama spoke about why it’s important to work hard, study and dream big.

“And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it,” Obama said. “You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.”

This is applicable not only to the American children who heard the speech, but also for potential college students stuck with choosing between enrolling in classes or joining the work force.

Even though tuition rates have increased and times are financially rough, investing in an education is the best tool to achieve success.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

September 23, 2009 at 1:53 am

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Lofts offer comfort at steep prices

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This semester, the addition of Calhoun Lofts allows students to choose a different type of on-campus housing: luxury living.

Calhoun Lofts appeals to UH students in several ways, but price is not one of them.

The lofts, located between the C. T. Bauer College of Business and the Law Center, are intended for serious, dedicated students. Units were originally open to only seniors and graduate students, but the classification restriction was dropped because of low vacancy.

The Houston Chronicle reported in mid-August that Calhoun Lofts is operating at slightly more than 50 percent capacity. This lack of interest leaves the original question unanswered: If you build it, will they come?

The deciding factor will be whether students value the luxury of the Calhoun Lofts, despite the hefty price tag. One aspect that may sell more lofts is that living on campus makes students’ lives easier.

Whether students are living in Cambridge Oaks or at Calhoun Lofts, being minutes away from classes is a benefit. Plus, staying on campus greatly reduces traffic and parking concerns.

To students, this can impact everything, from forming a class schedule to making decisions about extracurricular activities.

Residing in Calhoun Lofts would instantly put students within walking distance from the M. D. Anderson Memorial Library, the University Center and the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Various eateries such as Pizza Hut, Subway and Maui Wowi are also steps away.

UH felt placing a residence hall near the center of campus would change its environment. This commuter school relies on students who spend hours in their cars traveling to and from school.

Some of these students commute five days a week, racking up costly fuel bills. If more students lived on campus, time spent on the road could be used for interacting with other students, attending on-campus sporting events, exercising at the CRWC or studying.

In an article published in the Houston Chronicle on Aug. 21, UH Vice President of Student Affairs Elwyn Lee discussed the value of not missing a beat on campus.

Lee said students who live on campus “participate in more things.”

“If you have to drive from Katy to hear a speaker, you might not do it,” Lee said. “If you just have to roll out of bed and walk across campus, you probably will.”

Despite all of the positives of convenience, the price presents a tough obstacle.

Most students cannot afford the luxuries of Calhoun Lofts, especially with rising tuition rates. Others value the same amenities, but can find them around the city at comparable prices.

For example, many lofts in downtown offer more space at a slightly higher price. Plus, students who live there are not restricted by the rules of on-campus residence halls.

But, close to campus is still off-campus. Parking and commuting would still be an issue for these students.

Calhoun Lofts will fill once additional on-campus housing is built, along with parking garages adjacent to the building. In the meantime, tenants will have more space for studying, but less of the community they expected.

Our campus is developing and as more students move in, incentive will grow.

Motivation, not supply, creates demand and the staff at Calhoun Lofts is learning this lesson.

Students will improve as the campus transforms and the activities and academic amenities accumulate.

Andrew Taylor is an economics junior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Written by aktaylor

September 23, 2009 at 1:52 am

Posted in Uncategorized