Thursday, March 27, 2014

For Immediate Release - 

Platte County, Missouri - March 25, 2014

“Walk-a-witz” to Start Walking Platte County

Perhaps the hardest part of his campaign to become presiding commissioner for Platte County, says Russ Wojtkiewicz, is fitting his name on to a yard sign. Once that is done, Russ looks forward to walking the county and helping residents pronounce his name--“Walk-a-witz”—well enough to find it on the ballot. 

On a more serious note, Russ has lived in Platte County for almost thirty years and owned a business here for more than twenty. As much as he has enjoyed the experience, Russ has become increasingly troubled by the county’s growing debt, unstable tax revenues, and a political culture that too often serves special interests at the expense of core functions. He is concerned too how the county will handle an unfunded, federally mandated, public safety communications system. 

At the heart of Wojtkiewicz’s campaign is the notion of “Respect”-- respect for the taxpayer, respect for the law, respect for the rights of states, respect for life, respect for property rights and respect for the integrity of Platte County citizens. 

This principle will guide Russ in his role as presiding commissioner as he works to eliminate unnecessary regulation, maximize tax revenues through growth, serve as a faithful steward of county resources, and streamline county government.

Russ is a longtime member of St. Therese Parish and the Knights of Columbus, a lifelong Republican, and a small business owner since 1990.  He has a son, Evan, in his junior year at Park Hill South.  Russ’ wife Beth was an elementary music teacher at St. Therese School until losing her battle with cancer in 2008.  

“I have learned many a useful lesson about love and life and work,” says Russ. “It is time to start sharing what I have learned.”

For more information,

Russ (Wojo) Wojtkiewicz

Paid for by Russ for Commissioner, Pete Lobdell, Treasurer

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Random Thoughts on Taxation and Entitlements

A friend of mine recently asked "I`ve been hearing a lot of talk about how cutting spending will hurt women`s health, or kids well being, or social security for seniors who were promised it a long time ago. What I don`t understand is why can`t SS or Medicare/Medicaid programs be split-up in such a way that we can see where the money is going? Planned parenthood for example… Dems say if we knock out PP we will be hurting women’s health care. Why can`t we just cut out the abortion funds and leave the “female testing stuff” alone? Why are so many spending problems linked together? I guess adding these things in at the last minute is stuff gets shoved down our throats? Divide and conquer, I say!"

He urged me to blog my answer and so here goes.

Means testing for government benefits - something no one wants to invoke but it should be. At least for a set of demographics or a generation until we allow opt in or opt out or reform the plans to put retirement, etc, back to personal responsibility. More to requiring each individual to set aside his/her 7.5% pre-tax dollars into a retirement fund and also pay 1% into social security to cover all those who will fall through the cracks. The 1.45% Medicare is an acceptable tax for now until some sort of premium or policy on individual coverage can be better vetted out. Eliminate drug and alcohol support programs in Social Security. This is society as a whole paying for the sins and bad decision making of a few, not the providing for those to live out their lives with dignity and with a basic level of comfort who could not otherwise afford to do so. Graduated means testing based on age - very high threshold of say $60K annual income or more for 50 year olds and older to start. Then lowering the threshold to which Social Security payments are withheld down to where today's 20 or 30 year olds better be putting away 15% for their own retirement.

End employer matching of the 7.5% and thus eliminating the "Self-Employment tax" where an individual with his/her own business pays 15%. And many companies, not all, would hire another person with the accumulation of several 7.5% savings, of which 2 or 3 x 7.5% would hire an entry level person. That's more jobs.  More jobs or folks being employed is growth. Growth solves many of our revenue and debt problems! Growth stimulates the economy. Growth means more discretionary spending, more money for retirement plans.

I don't know about the whole medicare/medicaid situation. It is so big a mess, so depended upon. My folks survived with it. But it also points to the fact there is little "family" sacrifice or involvement as a result. I'm sure there are millions without family resources and therefore these programs in and of themselves are good programs. They have been expanded to the point to include folks that don't really need them. The voucher to pay for a premium is a good idea IF there is proper oversight without burdensome, overinflated government bureaucracy, to insure that the insurance plans actually pay out and take care of the folks.  But the shortcomings and looming financial crisis of Medicare/Medicaid plans needs addressed. There are many good, correct answers that would work.

There is talk of "can't you just eliminate the funds that go to the abortion services" for Planned Parenthood. Technically, yes. But when you fund one side, Planned Parenthood has more money to fund and use for abortions.

If Planned Parenthood had to do it all with private donations or fees, their abortion business would go down because of inability to pay for the service by most folks.  I'm sure the backlash to this idea is that Planned Parenthood would step up their propaganda to these women about how "they have a life threatening medical problem jeopardizing their lifestyle" or that they should abort rather than carry to term or possibly give up for adoption.

There is no "health care" in killing. Planned Parenthood has turned pregnancy into a disease or crisis condition rather than the miracle of the normal reproductive condition that it is.

While on the subject of healthcare - there is not one word or regulation prior to or included in Obamacare that I have seen that stipulates that insurance companies must cover well child checkups or visits such as physicals required for school and by the state, for immunizations, etc., or that the costs can be applied to the policy deductibles.  Most of the time, the cost would not exceed the deductible thresholds, so actually, the insurance companies are not out anything but what it cost them to process the paperwork. But the customer gets the benefit of the visits being counted toward an annual deductible in the chance the child might develop something serious enough to go beyond the deductible. And it would be very cheap, good PR for any insurance company, I would think.

I have heard that if 100% of individual income was taxed, it would still take years, decades, to pay for the national debt but it might end annual deficits.  What is missing in this statement is no mention of all the corporate tax. But then many companies have lobbied loopholes so they don't pay anyway.  Do they Jeffrey Immelt?  He's Chairman of the Board and CEO of General Electric.  GE didn't pay any corporate taxes in 2011.  He sat on President Obama's Economic Recovery Task Force.  But his company pays no corporate taxes.  Insulting, isn't it?

Now here comes some ideas for solutions.

I am NOT a "Fair Tax" proponent. While it sounds good on the surface - tax only when you purchase, there are HUGE demons in the details.  For one, the Fair Tax group wants a 19 or 20% sales tax.  Secondly, they want to literally write checks to anyone under a certain income level.  Can you say "expanded welfare"?!  They decry that income taxes are immoral and unethical and that taxation on economic activity is proper and the way we first did it.  Yes, and the USA had to borrow money like crazy to fund our defense.  It would give folks a very tangible feel for how much taxes they were paying if they paid $100 in groceries but the bill was $120.  And there is a salient point - what do you not tax to keep it from being a very regressive tax and inequitably hurting the poor even more?  Thus the Fair Tax proponent's welfare check solution.  It is true, it isn't really fair to simply exempt all groceries from sales tax, thereby the wealthy get a break intended to relieve the poor of some tax burden.  And isn't working, being productive, producing a product or service that the market demands considered "economic activity"?  I believe a 20% national sales tax (likely on top of state and local sales taxes) would stymie the economy as folks would not purchase as much even though, if by some miracle, the income tax was completely replaced with a sales tax.  But rarely (or never) would one tax replace another and it would surely come to pass that an income tax or additional tax schemes would be instilled.  What about property and personal taxes?  What about corporate taxes?  How many times will that manufacturing dollar be taxed?  Once for the raw material?  Again for the parts from the raw material?  Yet again in the finished product from the parts?  Again in the sale to the wholesaler, and another time in sales to the retailer and maybe lastly in the sale to the end user?  That is in the very least that same dollar being taxed 7 times.  And it is the consumer that will pay for it.  Thus a 20% tax rate is exponentially larger than it appears to be.

How about NO sales tax and a flat 5% on ALL revenue. Notice I did not say "earnings". If you earn a $1 working - you owe a nickel.  Earn $1 on savings interest - 5¢. $1 on an investment - 5¢. $1 on sale of a product or service - 5¢. No deductions. No determining what is "exempt" or "write off deductions for cost of doing business". No mortgage deduction. Nothing. Let it all be included. And perhaps even tax EVERYONE's FIRST DOLLAR. Then EVERYONE is participating in the system. Not one class living off of another class. It now becomes a very predictable productivity tax. But one that will rise in actual dollars while the percentage remains constant. And predictability is LOVED by those who invest money, borrow money, budget money, plan and expand businesses. No surprises at the end of the day (or year) as to what you owe in taxes. And all entities should be given until April 15 to pay their previous year's tax bill in full. The form would be one page or the size of your W-2. Simply state all revenue, multiplied by 5% and voila! Tax liability total.

I do think there are unavoidable exemptions but they all need seriously looked at and thoroughly debated before allowing them. Example....what to do about folks receiving benefit of a food pantry? Is that "income" from receiving a service/product or do you simply not require it to be reported? What about welfare or Social Security checks? Frankly, that would be easy - any government funding would be exempt because it comes from the government, not including of course the salaries paid to government employees. But there is the catch - now write that into legislation to discern a government benefit vs a government salary? And what about defense and government contractors who have corporate revenue from government contracts? This is a debate of whether you tax those distributed tax funds. Personally, I would not, but the salaries or distributions to individuals of those companies I would tax. Again, it is more of a "productivity" tax. This keeps money from simply being shuffled around.

And why not have the collection points for this 5% at the county level and then each county writes a check to any city within the borders, to their state and to the Federal Government? Local politics at its finest. Directly elect the commissioners/judges that oversee the collection and distribution of funds. Yes, I can see great potential for local political bosses, machines, and brute force control of elections and control of the power of that money. But to some extent it wouldn't matter. The feds will clearly state they get X% of that 5%. State governments will do similar. Millions are collected and spent by each county and with elections, we generally and eventually weed out those abusing their power.

Now, with that funding and distribution scenario, do you still have an IRS? Maybe but now they are for sure a "REVENUE" service. In charge of collecting from the 50 states and our territories, not from 300+ million individuals and millions of businesses. How much does that save? Oh sure, we'd have to absorb the unemployed from just that one Federal Agency, but even that could be done by retirement and resignation attrition.

We have so many taxing entities presently that it all needs to be folded back down to the minimum number and then distributed as need is justified. Allow each individual (and companies perhaps) to keep 85 - 95% of their revenues as discretionary funds to provide, save and spend as they see fit for themselves and their families. There are many other rules, regs and policies applied to healthcare, insurance, self insuring, retirement fund distribution and inheritance taxation that I feel could put the power and incentive back into the individual to decide what level of care and lifestyle they want to plan on and attain. And simply take a hard line that if you don't prepare yourself, you must face the consequences.


Society has an obligation to take care of each other. But society is not obligated to take care of those who refuse, not those unable, but those who refuse to help themselves.

I hope to expand on many of the topics presented here and more topics not touched upon. This is a rapid overview of my own thoughts and observations. Perhaps I will find that many of our programs are exactly what I desire, only they have been expanded beyond original intentions and no longer provide the solution to make society work. But we all are affected by over governance. Government should be there to protect and to put the power in the people.

My blessed late wife used to join me in saying after we pontificated the solutions to the world's problems that "we are perfect and flawless" and then laugh at such a bizarre notion!

May lightning only strike me twice and not thrice.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013 Letter to the Editor - Platte County Landmark
     I have been encouraged to write this appeal and it is over due that I fulfill that request.  Platte County citizens are being asked to renew a 3/8 cent sales tax for roads this coming Tuesday, April 2nd.  This is a tax that can and should be left to expire so as to make financial room for citizens to pay for the more immediate needs facing the county and frankly, to pay off county debt.  The 3/8 cent Roads Tax also does not deserve to be renewed nor do the agencies at the county level deserve to win our renewed support.  This sales tax is charged to and collected on all citizens of Platte County as well as welcome outsiders doing business in our county, yet, not all of the county benefits from this tax! Unincorporated southern Platte County does not receive any revenue from the roads sales tax.  That of itself is unfair and a good reason to vote no on Tuesday.  Another great reason to vote no is that the County Commissioners who voted affirmative to place the tax on the ballot either don't have facts straight or refuse to let truth and facts stand in the way of an agenda.  According to our very own County Treasurer's records, 50% of the 3/8% road tax revenues are distributed to Road District #1, Farley and Weston Special Road Districts and "Other County Projects".  In fact, two-thirds of that 50% go to "Other County Projects".  Interesting to lump almost $2 million per year into a generic fund.  The other 50% of the 3/8 cent road sales tax goes to municipalities within our county, with $1.7 million going to Kansas City out of the $2.6 million collected in 2012.  Following Kansas City, the largest benefactors are Parkville with just $200,000 in 2012 of that $2.6 million, Platte City got $196,000 and Riverside got $151,000 (what is the gambling tax revenue paying for??).  Understandably, Parkville and Platte City would love to see the tax renewed as would all our county municipalities.  And coincidentally, Weatherby Lake stands to lose nearly a $100,000 per year in roads money if the tax is not renewed.  Surely there is not a conflict with Commissioner Roper to make sure her neighborhood maintains this revenue, is there?  The same could be said for Commissioners Soper and Brown as Platte City municipality receives over $150,000 annually via the tax.  Though to be fair, I believe Commissioner Brown voted against renewing the tax.
     Who doesn't benefit from the sales tax? Parkville and Platte City Special Road Districts, that's who.  In these districts, money levied on our property taxes goes to operate and maintain our roads in these two districts.  This is the way taxation should work - tax only those who receive the benefit of the tax revenue!
     The Parkville Special Road District is renowned for excellent roads, excellent maintenance and superb winter weather policies and operation.  Our District is one locally controlled governmental agency that works.  By the way, please support incumbent Brenda Teters for Parkville Road District Board so we don't try to fix what isn't broken!  Let's examine the County's record with respect to promises made to roads and infrastructure.  In 2002 when the road tax was proposed, many in the outlying county were promised that with their support, roads would be paved.  In the corridor north of Hwy 152 and I-435 these promises were ignored until those citizens demanded the promises be fulfilled.  But even now, once these citizens leave the roads maintained by Parkville Special Road District as they drive north, they soon realize how pitiful and negligent the County behaves with the lack of good roads and winter weather conditions.  Thus, the reward of renewing the tax is undeserved.  The citizens need to be able to reserve that money to pay for the unfunded mandate of $10 million dollars worth of new public safety radios that the Commission has kicked to this administration to resolve and pay for starting this year.  Further, the radio issue will not magically be permanently resolved after ten years but we, you and I, will have to tax ourselves to pay for another ten years and another ten years after that and so on.  There is also the matter of our jail being filled to near capacity as our county grows and the surrounding urban metro area discovers quiet Platte County as a target for crime and finds we convict and put away our perpetrators.  The solution here is not to tax the entire county but only enforce collection in the jurisdictions which benefit from a 3/8 cent sales tax for roads or better yet, defeat the overall county sales tax this Tuesday, April 2nd and let each benefitting entity put a 3/8 cent sales tax on their ballots in November of 2014 to provide their infrastructure revenue.  We must in this country change the ideology to tax everyone else so that a small entity can play "keep up with the Joneses" but return to the sustainable fact of "if YOU want it, YOU pay for it".  Vote NO to renew the 3/8 cent Sales Tax for Roads and Vote NO for any new bonds.  The county needs to become debt free and with discipline and proper fiduciary governance, can operate with cash on the revenues it now generates.
Russ Wojtkiewicz
Citizen of Unincorporated Southern Platte County

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Foreign Idea... Personal Responsibility

It appears to me that the agenda is to end the need to feel personal responsibility. Why plan for a rainy day? For life to throw us a curve? To gather our meat, nuts and berries for winter? Just look at all the agendas being passed by this Congress and by past Congresses of the Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter and now the Obama eras. All these programs went far beyond giving folks the ability and assistance to plan for retirements, to save for retirements, to build assets to live on or use if and when life dealt an unfair hand or a major illness disrupted life. They took over our lives. They provided for us, not gave us opportunity to provide for ourselves. And now we have the take over of the insurance industry. And yes, to a great extent, the insurance has only themselves to blame. I for one begged, pleaded, held meetings and argued my case to at least one insurance company to little result when it came to achieving affordable premiums. But I had shopped and paid those premiums "just in case" the day came we would need them. And we did. My wife contracted and died from cancer. Over her two year fight, our insurance company paid out about $400,000 in claims to the providers. I paid $13,000 in deductibles. I knew those deductibles could be that high. And I knew that was risk, yes risk, I could afford. With today's signing, no one below a certain income level has to even have insurance until after an incident or catastrophic diagnosis and an insurance company must carry you. But at what cost? No one has said. What if those premiums are $1200 per month? Can anyone afford that? Not many and those who can are either self insuring with high deductibles and no doubt already own insurance! So, will you get fined and taxed for refusing to get insurance that you sought but now also have the extra burden of bearing the costs of your medical care? Soon we will begin to get those answers.

And please answer me this - today at the signing of the Health care bill, he called it Health Insurance Reform. Democrat leaders started using this term within the last month. Until then, they denied this was the intent of the bill but that it was "comprehensive health care reform". ????! I am working to try and gather the text, quotes, video, audio of such claims and will share them when I get them together.

If this had been touted as health insurance reform, then the bill is even more deceiving with all that it affects. Even so, we could have done much more to rein in the insurance industry that has acted about as responsible as the financial industry of the last few years. We could open up opportunity for everyone, at any income level, to setup and contribute to pre-tax dollar Health Savings Accounts whose use was at the discretion of the owner of the account, free to audited by the tax folks to prove or insure use only for medical needs, and these accounts could be passed generation to generation tax free. This would be incentive for families to provide for the children's future healthcare, and if health was good throughout and healthy lifestyles maintained, their children's children could also be taken care of. Eventually this would lead to real competition for your insurance dollar from companies in business to supply you catastrophic insurance. Low risk is cheaper than a policy that pays for you to do anything you wish without cost. I know, too logical.

Perhaps allowing insurance companies, at their expense or to be counted against your deductible, to require you to obtain an annual or bi-annual physical and age appropriate preventive medicine and tests. My colonoscopy was not covered in my deductible from American Republic Insurance, even though having the insurance gave me a bit of a discount from the doctors and hospitals "listed" price on the procedure. But the $1600 out of pocket did not count toward my annual $5000 deductible. Therefore, other than myself and my doctor's dedication to preventive medicine, there is no financial incentive for me to do so.

Where is the cost controls and oversight of the outrageous charges and billing errors of healthcare providers? The stock market isn't seeing any as the health industry stocks are all up since passing of the bill. Hmm, makes one wonder what they've read in this bill and they must believe profits are going to go up. Translated: medical costs are going up!

The belief the nanny state is the agenda of Democrats and the left is evident in the immediate implementation that children can stay on their parents policies till age 26. This is simply just offensive. A proper answer to the concern of students obtaining health insurance should have been insurance companies developing and offering products with 20, 30, 50 year or lifetime contracts. Thus, the younger and presumably healthier you are, the more likely you are to pay for many years with fewer claims, seek preventive medicine to maintain your low rate and thus slow or delay the higher claims to a later age. It should be possible to have level payments over many years with the use of proper actuarial data and adaption of healthy lifestyles.

But, now our healthcare is the same ponzi scheme that Social Security is now. As well as Medicare and Medicaid is now. We are paying for our parents and current retirees on these programs. There is no trust fund to fund us in these programs. Congress should be held accountable to repay all borrowed funds from the Social Security and Medicare funds. Doing so, they would likely find that our Social Security and Medicare taxes could be cut due to all the surplus funds that would have been in these programs.

But of course they are insolvent. That is every elected official's fault at the Federal Government level who has served in the last 50 years or more. You know what to do. Do it. Vote. Just not for whose in office now. Throw out the good ones as well as the bad ones. Give to campaigns in other districts, other states to defeat those most responsible for our current state of affairs.

See, now you have something to work for, look forward to and make getting up in the morning worth it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The USA's turning left this morning....

Listening to the Sunday morning talk shows there is so much deception being touted and promised it should put us all in need of seeking healthcare.

On the larger picture, this week, the hispanic coalitions are marching on Washington to promote immigration reform, which, according to the head of the congressional hispanic caucus, has declared that Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, has promised that such reform legislation will be taken up in April and passed by May. This reform includes, mainly, no deportation of anyone here illegally. Immigration processes need reformed. No doubt. It takes too long for those legitimately applying to get approved. Folks here illegally know they have broken our laws and need dealt with in the form of being sent back and required to reenter legally. Amnesty and voting rights and entitlement benefits are not the answer for folks who have cheated to get here. Don't believe me? They marched this morning, March 21, 2010. Harry Reid and the Democrats won't stop till they have completely changed this country.

That is one turn to the left.

Union Card Check legislation is going to be taken up right after healthcare debate is put away. No more democratic procedure for employees to choose whether or not to unionize. They must sign, thus giving their identity, their intentions to be pro union or not. What's next? We each sign and address with phone numbers our ballots in the polling booth under threat of fine and imprisonment? Don't laugh. That is not that far fetched. Look at the Census. There are fines and jail term regulations for not answering all the questions on the Census form sent to you. Never mind the Constitution simply says the Congress shall conduct a count of the population every ten years, the caveat being as the law stipulates. Its the people you cannot trust, not the laws.

A further turn to the left. Knowing everything about everyone all the time.

Cap and trade legislation to destroy and takeover the energy industries and force each of us to use and pay exorbitantly for our energy use and limit or to outright ban any attempts by an individual to generate their own, self sustaining energy. It will also determine your "carbon impact" and thus tax you as long as you live for every breath you take.

Another left turn. But yet, the turns are not far enough to bring us completely around. Only just farther left.

Another major turn to the left takes place today with the vote of the Healthcare legislation. Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz actually admitted, perhaps by slip of the tongue, on this morning's Fox Sunday Morning with Chris Wallace, when she said "healtcare Insurance reform needs and will be passed". And there you have it. There is no legislation to reform the cost and delivery of healthcare. It is simply yet another takeover and destruction of private insurance.

Another major step toward socialist reform of our democratic republic.

While all of us have ourselves or family benefitting from current Social Security and Medicare entitlements, these entitlements are going bankrupt. They are unsustainable and they are likely the chief reason how this country and its citizens are being seduced to believe and be apathetic to the leftist drumbeat that the government can and should be the provider and caretaker of its citizens.

The New Deal was the initial left turn dealt to this country. The Progressive movement cemented its place in society with that legislation. The Progressive movement is an oxymoron if I ever heard one. And I am also quite angry with the titles used by the left hiding their agendas while appearing to have Pro-American ideals. Be very wary of any group till you've checked them out. Be informed!

As healthcare legislation is passed, the line up of further left agendas is in a neat little list with a timeline to happen before the 2010 elections and drive the USA so far left and into socialism that unwinding it will be very difficult and be met with great resistance by our citizenry to "not change my benefits, but yes to reform other's benefits to bring solvency to the programs". This is impossible to achieve and will take real political courage to put through repeals and reforms that benefit our society as a whole, and not just the left or special interests.

Don't believe this? Read and listen. No real secrets being kept that the legislation is scheduled. The only secrets are the actual bills that confront these issues. The majority leadership is purposely invoking and using rules to keep legislation near secret as long as it can through the process. Even from its own members. Remember Nancy Pelosi's quote? "We must pass this bill so everyone knows what's in it." Perhaps she misstated. Perhaps not.

Capitalism is under attack and is today being mortally wounded. A very real effort to discourage entrepreneurship and personal achievement is the agenda of the left in this country and they have taken over the Democratic Party. Personal self sustainability is being deemed an extreme, right wing, bunker mentality, wacko idea. To be free to try and fail but to have equal ability to try and succeed is quickly being taxed and regulated out of the realm of possibility. The wealthy in this country will simply move to less hostile environs, thus leaving those of us not wealthy enough to fight the government nor able to pay the taxes to support the programs necessary to completely take care of all our citizens. We will then be able to say we are indentured servants of the Federal Government.

Now the Congressional Black Caucus is claiming Tea Partiers are being racist and violent. A few are misbehaving and are truly not a part of the Tea Party movement. We will extricate these idiots from the movement. But not surprisingly, I also expect to find they are plants by Acorn, Union organizations and the professional protesting left trying to stir up trouble in the usual fashion that the Left has since the 30s and again in the 60s. Destructive protests and riots has been their modus operandi. Acorn is going bankrupt according to a New York state report today. The left is beginning to panic. Their ideology is not the ideology of most citizens. And they know it. But at the end of the day, the loudest voices usually rule the day. Don't let it. VOTE! Attend a rally or protest. Work for a candidate who has the background and moral strength to fight against this leftist movement, no matter the party they sign on to. Look for and vote for folks that feel the way you do. And if they disappoint, vote them out the next election. That is, for the most part, the most we can do to make our voices heard. Civil disobedience is a tool we might choose to use. Folks will sacrifice. Rioting is not the answer. Bloodshed will not solve the problem. Getting active, being informed, being vigilant will cure our ills and bring us back to the freedoms this country was founded upon. And unashamedly, we were founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs with compassion that all may freely exercise the practice of their personal religions or atheism if they so choose. Not to ban religion or give favor to one religion.

Remember these points as we draw closer to the 2010 elections. Remember these points as you watch the looming legislative agenda come to light over the next few months. It is happening. One person can stop it if they courageously stand against those who wish to diminish our freedoms. You will not be alone. You will stand as one among millions. But you must choose to step out and be unique and fight for your freedoms.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Fresh Look

Ok folks, the few of you who follow this blog. Time for a fresh look. Nothing in the current debate on Healthcare reform is dealing with the real issues of our healthcare system. Our elected representatives, lobbyists and pundits are debating and fighting to keep or gain more power.

The heart of the problem with healthcare is NOT the care. It is the billing, the cost, and to some extent, the delivery of services and medicine. To cure this will take some honest debate on difficult subjects. In my own life, I fought and made an impact just on the universe that surrounded me and my family and what directly affected us and primarily, the care my wife received during her losing battle with cancer and the costs and payment structures that we encountered. Today, I am fighting similar fights with my own preventative healthcare. I was not informed that I would be charged for services from three different entities, even though I only visited one for a common procedure of a colonoscopy. It can be argued that I should have known better, but I was still not informed beforehand. I was only required to pay a 25% deposit on what I was told by St. Lukes Hospital as "the charge for the procedure". I have consequently received explanation of benefits from my insurance company alerting me that the doctor - Midwest Enterology and the anesthesiologist have also made claims with my insurance company. So, a procedure I was led to believe would cost me about $860 is likely going to see me writing checks for nearly $2500. And this should be higher as St. Luke's Hospital is standing by their original estimate but submitted the wrong code causing my insurance company to quote a lower price as the ceiling for which they would pay. But the EOB (explanation of benefits) later showed a corrected claim and that the insurance "covered" about $1800. This is to my benefit as I am not having to pay as much out of pocket as is being credited against my deductible. I want to be fair and with full disclosure on this. Since I carry a $5000 deductible, that means I am liable to pay all that applies for the first $5000 per year. My philosophy is that insurance is for those catastrophic events, not maintenance and I believe that we need to get away from having all services paid for some $15 or $30 copay and never realize just how high these costs really are. So I am prepared to cover that deductible if it happens. You don't buy auto insurance that covers cost of maintenance or minor repairs. But alas, I have seen solicitations for just such "insurance" labeled more aptly as extended, third party warranty policies. You pay a monthly premium in lieu of paying directly for repairs. It is also a likely bad financial deal. And the same goes for your home owners insurance. Does that pay for you new water heater? To paint regularly? No. Those policies expressly do not cover what should be regular maintenance or have been avoided with regular maintenance.

Why cannot the same be done for healthcare?

Now if you've followed this, you've certainly realized there are many problems on many levels. Insurance - why different coverage rates for the same procedure? It either costs what it costs or it doesn't.

Why are all these provider entities allowed to charge us when we have not met them ahead of time and certainly are never made aware of what each of their fees are going to be? Why cannot the facility that they work out of be the sole billing entity? Or.. why not the doctor's office providing the actual service bill me for those other services that are necessary to perform the procedure and they pay each of those entities they needed to contract with?

This is what I am championing and going to fight as best I can. And if I can get reasonable results for myself, I intend to evangelize this small victory and encourage others to also pursue this same quest. Or influence a St. Luke's or a doctor's group to reexamine this situation and consider changing or actually changing the way they do business.

On the insurance front, this is our real prohibitive cost to individuals and companies alike and the one area the government, the Democrats and the Obamas and Clintons see the most money and power. Insurance reform is what is needed first. Then provider cost and practices. Government takeover is not the answer though it can, admittedly, be part of the answer.

If we empower the individual as a healthcare consumer as we are informed consumers in almost all other areas of our lives, then change will sweep the land. All forms of insurance and retirement funds must be from the individual and end the practice of companies providing these benefits. Yes, a company could directly contribute to a health insurance account or a retirement account but it would be only in the employee's name and travel with them as jobs change or family circumstances change. The COBRA program is the epitome of government intervention forcing consumers to triple or more their cost of insurance. That program does not simply state that the former employee must now only cover the portion of the premium previously paid for by their former employer and that the insurance company cannot remove them from that group of insured, exclude or cancel their policy so long as payments are maintained and no premium cost added to the cost of those premiums. But the insurance companies successfully lobbied for the structure of COBRA and COBRA is completely unaffordable for anyone for more than a few months. Thus the program is forcing individuals off of the insurance roles and have greatly contributed to 47 million or more individuals not being insured.

Let's now look at insurance itself. An initial look at Health or Medical Savings Plans appear as an excellent program for individuals to begin to save toward self insurance or a large amount of invested funds to cover high deductibles and thus more affordable high deductible insurance policies. But this is not the case. You are limited to how much you can put into an HSA or MSA, you are required to carry a high deductible insurance policy to qualify to even have an HSA or MSA and the insurance company actually controls and has possession of the HSA and MSA funds. Its not your money. You leave them, you cannot recover those funds. You cannot state what medical costs gets paid from those funds. Again, government intervention set up by self serving lobbyists.

Has anyone thought about those "lifetime caps" on how much your insurance company will pay out over your lifetime? How about if health insurance, much like life insurance, was about purchasing a leveraged amount of money? And you decide what YOU wish for that fund to pay and what you wish to pay yourself? And that fund be transferable and tax free like many other assets to your family members? The amount necessary can easily be determined by most any actuary. It would be logical that a 60 year old might not use as much in healthcare over the rest of their life as a 20 year old might. But it is far from a simple linear equation. As we all know, the older we get, the more health problems we encounter and are likely to incur. But at 60, would I blow through $2 million dollars before I die? I seriously doubt it. That critical of an illness I would likely not survive before racking up $2 million in charges. But I'll keep an open mind if someone wants to prove otherwise to me.

Certainly a 20 year old has the potential for spending $2 million or perhaps even $5-15 million if one factors in gender and pregnancies, preventive care or family planning and the current abomination that is soaring healthcare costs if those costs continue unchecked for the next 60 years.

My current health insurance has a $5 million lifetime cap. American Republic Insurance keeps raising my montly premiums 12-18% every six months regardless of claim activity or the lack thereof and preventive care initiatives that I take to keep myself and my son healthy. Then, they deny coverage of those charges toward my deductible, even though they don't actually pay out any of those charges as they do not meet the threshold of my deductible and in keeping healthy, they likely will not have to pay out for that year. So, as my rates increase at about 3 to 4 times the rate of inflation and the rate of medical cost inflation, I still only have a finite amount of money available to me to use for future medical needs. Does this sound fair? It never has to me.

I would venture that I could literally purchase a policy on a set amount of money over a 10, 20, 30 or even 50 year period for an amount of premium per month and never have that premium change for the life of the policy. The amount of the premium can easily be determined by age, health status, lifestyle. And purchasing these types of policies would eliminate the notion of preexisting conditions. The cost of those conditions can be figured into how much should that policy amount be - $2 million? $5 million? $15 million? And the age and life expectancy of the consumer. Very simple.

In my quest to lower my insurance rates, Assurant (formerly Fortis) has a policy in which they provide a lifetime cap of $15 million. This sounds extravagant to me and too much to have to hold or have in reserve in some manner. I will discontinue pursing a new healthcare plan with them since they require me to give some stranger on the phone my bank account number AND routing number to "lock in the rate" until approval. Or I could give them my credit card. All the while they claim "I will not be charged until I sign an acceptance form". Damn right I won't. Nor will I ever give out that info till a company determines that I do qualify. Assurant informed me "we cannot run everybody through the approval process".

And thus you have the crime that is our insurance industry.

We as business owners have the right to turn away any business if we do not feel the risk is worth the effort. But we do not ask for a client's bank information until they request credit to be extended, not just to have the privilege of doing business with us.

I just believe there is a better way and one way is that more of us take control of our healthcare financing and begin to put the pressure on our providers and on the drug companies by shopping around when possible and by searching out and rewarding progressive, ethical insurance companies willing to provide a reasonable product for a long period of time. The one and two year policy model must come to an end. Providers must set up and publish their rates and not be allowed to mark up services substantially to cover costs for indigent healthcare when likely those costs are greatly exaggerated. To stop punishing those without health insurance but willing to pay for services at rate exhorbitant to those who have insurance or to those who abuse the system. We must also start insisting that everyone should prioritize good health and medical expenses up to 20% of their income for the fixed income or poorer of our neighbors rather than not paying anything or government paying the stipend for their care. Then the whole debate of those here legally or illegally would be moot. Not up the the provider to ask or know that. They just bill whomever comes through the door and expects them to pay or make payments. And for those who cannot afford these services, which would be most of us, allow providers to collect up to 20% of household income for such services. Then all are participating in the system, not just unbalancing it.

But then most things in life are the priorities to which we have chosen, not the priorities that are proper.

Some solutions for thought. If anyone has a contact or way they believe they could help inpact this revolution in insurance, please contact me via commenting to this post. Or if you know me, contact me directly or put people in touch with me. We start reform by affecting the world around us. Let's get on with the revolution!

Russ Wojtkiewicz

Monday, March 9, 2009

The "Change" Everyone Knew Was Coming

It has happened today.  A single man's directive to usher in more unethical and greedy science than actual research for actual, working cures.  The harbinger of death is no more evident than in this Administration's actions and the will of the Democratic Party.  The propaganda being spewed by the proponents and President Obama himself is misleading at the very least.  His saying that human cloning will never be allowed for "human reproduction" is laudable, but impossible to control with his executive order to allow embryonic stem cell research.  Proof of this is the successful use of the term "stem cell research" to include embryonic stem cell use and research and pinning those of us against only the embryonic stem cell industry as our being against all stem cell research.  That huge deception is going to bankrupt this country financially and morally, if we are not already.

As one can attest via today's stock market, those few, special interest companies mainly working in embryonic stem cell research have seen their stocks soar.  Not benefitting from this executive order are the companies who have been continuing their research and development in ADULT stem cell research.  They actually have cures and treatments in the pipeline.  No embryonic stem cell R&D has yet to show ANY, ANY success using embryonic stem cells.

Today, I would predicate, sets the path for further enslavement of our lower class, the market of purchasing women's eggs for use in research and thus more women put in harms way in exchange for financial gain (called enslavement folks), and billions and billions of taxpayer dollars to prove in ten years that still, as in the last ten years by California research companies, that embryonic stem cells cannot be harnessed or used for predictable treatments and cures.  Remember, Korea hailed great success, only for the announcement to be exposed as a fraud.  Same thing happened in Britain.  This research has been going on since the 1960s without one success.

President Obama today orated the same, tired "potential to cure diabetes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinsons Disease".  Note the use, after all these years, of the word "potential".  Yet, being shunned and ignored are the 60-70 treatments now being used by patients of adult stem cells to treat all manner of medical treatments.  The politicians, celebrities and research professionals have cast off these successes and avoided recognizing and praising them as it would hurt their agenda of promoting abortion and human cloning and the slippery slope we all know will lead to such atrocities as designer babies, the early detection and abortion of less than perfect, in the eyes of the vain, babies "who might be a problem".  None of us on this side of this argument have any problem whatsoever with the use of cord blood for stem cells, placenta for stem cells, rhino cells, skin cells and likely more I am not aware of.  Use of OUR OWN CELLS to heal us!

The bottom line here is that OUR cells cannot be PATENTED as a line of developed cells.  But grow a set of embryonic cells and the law says you can.  Thus the huge, highly funded propaganda campaigns to fund embryonic cells rather than let the market and actual scientific progress focus funds to the research that works.  This flies straight into the face of Healthcare reform to make healthcare more affordable and more accessible.  Rather than allow us to bank or have our own cells donated to heal each of us, our government is deciding it is better to put women's health at risk, insure fewer babies born, population decline and (if it even works) of near monopolization of cures so that like chemo drugs, stem cell treatments can be made expensive simply because so few companies are allowed to even manufacture these potential cures.

It just makes no sense other than greed and social engineering to fund embryonic stem cell research.  But then, I believe, the Liberal socialist agenda is to force the majority of Americans to accept the Liberal agenda of no morals, no God, no ethics and redistribution of wealth except as it concerns them.

Next - the "Freedom of Choice Act".  Choice to kill a baby at any point in its life just because he or she is unwanted.  And the Choice here is that Doctors will be required to comply with a patients request to abort the pregnancy at any time and not allowed to contact her parents if she is under age.  And no Pro Life consultation will be allowed if the clinic does not choose to allow such alternative 'choice'.

I'm still looking where the "Choice" is in the FOCA bill.

God Help Us!

Russ Wojtkiewicz