Vote to fight rising costs

Vote to fight rising costs
Published Brownsville Herald 3/12/2012
Our long negotiations with the Department of Veterans Affairs are over. A forensic review of our hospitalization account was ordered and it was noted that the vast majority of what we owed was already paid. We were, however, required to pay the posted late fees even though the billings were proven wrong and we didn’t owe them. We sent a check!
Fortunately, my wife is tenacious and we saved a substantial sum. The apparent answer when dealing with the VA is to follow the billings carefully and question anything that seems out of place.
But rising costs aren’t limited to health care. It seems everything we purchase has gone up in price enormously in the past two years or so.
Gas has gone up as much as 35 cents per gallon in just the last month.
Oil prices usually rise in the spring, but they have jumped to heights unseen at this time of year, startled by increased tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. Gasoline prices have reached $3.74 a gallon in some parts of the country. Read more…

New battles over health care

Published Brownsville Herald 2/27/2012

This summer I will have lived in Brownsville 27 years, which is longer than I have lived anywhere else; that includes northern New York, Florida, several military postings in support of the war in Vietnam, Guam, New York City and northern New Jersey.
When asked I proudly claim Brownsville as my hometown. There are good and not so good things about my hometown, but the most notable of the good things are the really great folks who live in this “small town” city.
Of the many considerate folks that work for the city bus, I have traveled with drivers Jesus Castillio and Raul Solis most frequently. They impressed me as remarkably thoughtful. Their consideration and thoughtfulness caused me to forget about the “bumps in the road” in the service, even when the bus has been delayed for one reason or another. While they deserve kudos, I am sure that most of the others I have ridden with deserve them as well.
Many thanks to all the nice folks who work with the Brownsville bus for the handicapped! They allow me to get out of the house and shake the cobwebs away.
Back to the VA; During the past week I received a final statement from the provider of my retired federal employee plan. I am being required to pay the part that Medicare would normally pay for in a public hospital.
People who have received hospital care know that we are all required by law to purchase Medicare but have the option of not purchasing part “B.” I understood that my retired federal employee health plan, which is a full secondary policy. I understood, would pay health costs whenever Medicare did not.
I am now informed that if I want to primarily depend on the Department of Veterans Affairs, I do not need to purchase Medicare Part B, unless I misunderstand the billing officer at the DeBakey Veterans Hospital in Houston. “Late News – Just informed that they have scheduled a forensic audit. We pointed out numerous payments made by my insurer that were not posted.” Read more…

These oldies are still around

Tommy James & The Shondells can still be seen at
Friday, March 23rd 2012 RIVER SPIRIT CASINO EVENT CENTER
7PM SHOWTIME Tulsa, Oklahoma
Friday, May 18th 2012 JOHN A. WALKER COMMUNITY CENTER
8PM SHOWTIME Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Friday June 8th 2012 SHOOTING STAR CASINO EVENT CENTER
Mahnomen, Minnesota
Friday, July 14th 2012 HEARTLAND EVENTS CENTER
HALL COUNTY FAIR Grand Island, Nebraska
Saturday, October 20th 2012 NYCB THEATRE AT WESTBURY
‘HOT AUTUMN NIGHTS’ – 7PM SHOWTIME
Westbury, New York
Friday, November 2nd 2012 HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO
Biloxi, Mississippi

Smokey Robinson
The Miracles will be inducted April 14th at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s annual ceremony at Cleveland’s Public Hall. “These Inductees are pioneers in the development of the music we call rock and roll,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s president and CEO Joel Peresman said in a statement. “As part of our mission to recognize the most impactful, innovative and influential artists in rock, the committee brought forth these six groups that belong in the Hall of Fame.”
Read more…

Battles on the health-care front

Published Brownsville Herald 2/13/2012

Our insurance company refused to pay a recent medical charge, saying the document said Medicare was to pay the amount.
As it happens, the Department of Veterans Affairs never collected it from Medicare and refused to present any other bill against my insurer. The company said that the document indicates that Medicare paid it. If it was documented that Medicare did not pay, the company would.
The VA then determined that because I did not have a serviceconnected disability and was not financially wanting, it billed me for the unbilled Medicare amount.
The VA refuses to send any kind of document to my insurer saying Medicare didn’t pay the amount.
I chose the DeBakey Hospital in Houston because it was the best for my particular problems; it treats a large variety of serious dermatological and rheumatic diseases and performs the kind of amputation I needed. Read more…

ObamaCare isn’t paying – New Politics?

Original Feb 9. 2012

When the document was presented to Our Federal Blue Cross insurance, they refused to pay the amount because the document says that it is what Medicare pays.

As it happens, the VA never collects it from Medicare and refuses to present any other bill against my Blue Cross. Blue Cross says that the document indicates that Medicare paid it. If it was documented that Medicare did not pay our Blue Cross Policies would pay.

The VA then determined that because I did not have a service connected disability and was not financially wanting, it billd me for the unbilled Medicare amount.

The VA continues to refuse to send any kind of document to my insurer that Medicare didn’t pay.

I chose the DeBakey Hospital because it was the best for my particular problems in that they treat a large variety of serious dermatological and rheumatic diseases as well as the kind of amputation, I needed.

Now it seems that even though I am a veteran of combat participation during the Vietnam War they go to lengths to avoid even proper payment of charges by my insurers.

This would appear that President Obama claims to support Veterans but seems to advocate a medical policy that really further disenfranchises Vets.

We are certainly aware that there are co-payments required for nonservice-connected conditions but they should be covered by the additional insurance we pay for to cover that event. Instead I am being required to pay the part that Medicare would normally pay for in a public hospital.

Though I don’t know the origin or cause of the strange lesions that caused the removal of my legs or whether they could have been connected to my combat service, I believe I should be able to go to a Veteran Hospital and at the lest get the care that they specialize in and allow the insurance that I pay so much for to pay their portion.

If any of you have received hospital care you know that we are all required by law to contribute to Medicare, and it is normally required to be the first payer for hospital services. This is the current government health plan!

In my case I served in the military and in a law enforcement capacity in the federal government where I worked in airports, seaports and along the borders as well as training foreign officials in Asia and suspect that I may even have had the opportunity to have contracted the conditions that precipitated my malady anywhere along the way. Read more…

Politics and reality

Published Brownsville Herald 1/30/2012

Like many I watched the president’s State of the Union speech last Tuesday night and as I expected (we are in an election season), it was mostly a political campaign speech that no one believes will ever become fact. However, there was a portion that if the ideal was one that I could believe President Obama could possibly accept, he would have my vote.
He said:
“I’m a Democrat, but I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”
Unfortunately, it is doubtful that any of the current candidates would be able to let the folks make their own decisions and mistakes.
At this time when public adversaries are telling us why we should entrust them with the stewardship of our future, politicians are stirring up the muck in hopes of showing themselves as being not that bad. Even the best have vastly different motivations than we “huddled masses” do, and even if their motivations were more altruistic they would still be influenced by the ideas of what is good for one is good for all. That just ain’t true! Read more…

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Yes he is still alive and well and will be appearing at NYCB Theatre at Westbury
960 Brush Hollow Road, Westbury, NY on Friday, April 20th, 2012 at 8:00 PM. He will be playing around California early next year.

What makes a leader?

Published Brownsville Herald January 17, 2012

We now have a peek at what our political leaders and potential political leaders are like, and to be candid I am certainly less than happy with any of them, from the highest in the land to our local community.
The best choice available will be the best of the poor choices.
One reason that sticks out is that the best candidates have jobs (not necessarily political) that they are successful at. They cannot take a two-, four- or six-year vacation and stay competent during that vacation.
One of the things Gov. Rick Perry has advanced is to limit the activity of Congress to part time. It seems to work here in Texas as well as full-time legislatures work anywhere else. I think the idea has considerable merit.
It is advanced that the legislators of this branch would be nearly crippled in their ability to understand complex issues and act on them. It appears that only the sponsor and some of the leaders in any legislature have more than a nodding understanding. In the last terms Congress did not even have the bills to read; many bills were cumbersome and compiled especially to make them difficult to understand. It makes more opportunity to focus benefits on friends.
Why not require each bill to be clear, concise and understandable so that it can be published for the public to read and give their representative their thoughts on the issue? Then the representative would spend the voting part of the term and the end of the term. The public would have a better view of the legislator’s response to the wishes of the constituency. Read more…

New generation of politics

Published Brownsville Herald Jan 2,2012

I would like to wish you all a very healthy and prosperous New Year. Let us all take the coming election choices seriously in hopes our chosen candidates do not contribute in making the situation worse.
Many of our neighbors seem to be deeply concerned with their perceptions of the candidates. More than 2 million voters have left both the Democratic and Republican parties since the last presidential election, and the number of independent voters continues to grow. A USA Today analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats have declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, and independents increased in 18 states. In eight of the “swing” states, Democrats’ registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans’ by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000.
It is quite apparent that a large portion of the voters are very concerned with their traditional voting choices and have had their confidence in our leadership severely shaken. My confidences in the political leadership at all levels in all three main parties, Libertarian, Republican and Democrat, are in serious doubt.
Worse yet, I see very few leaders in training with much promise. Read more…

Chuck Berry is still Moovin’ and Groovin

Saturday, December 31st
He is still with us!
On NEW YEAR’S EVE CHUCK BERRY will be at the
B. B. King’s Blues Club – New York, NY IN PERSON
Only one show at 11 PM !
He can also be seen
Wednesday, January 18th 2012
at
The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill – Saint Louis, MO

Looking for new leaders

Published Brownsville Herald December 19 2011

I was sitting at at my desk wondering where new honest political leaders can be found. The experience many have is that those that we hear about in public service are doing things we don’t approve of, are corrupt or just don’t get elected after spending substantial sums of money.
All of those things are unattractive and the job is not stable and does not provide a consistent income over a period. Let’s face it: That kind of public service just does not assure a stable income.
We still need to identify future political leaders and provide the technical information needed to research the requirements of the elected office and how to become knowledgeable about it.
Let us remember that our forefathers designed the process as a part-time job. It was thought that anyone who could maintain his household and his business or estate could become a congressman or other elected official.
It was also thought that the legislative process would be a parttime job if the legislators were honest and serious about the work at hand. The folks here in Texas believed that also and made it stick. Things work very well with a parttime legislature. Perhaps the U.S. Congress would do a better job were it a part-time one, as perceived by our forefathers. Read more…

Thoughts on immigration

Published Brownsville Herald December 5, 2011

As I begin these thoughts it is Thanksgiving Day and I can smell all the goodies cooking in the kitchen. You can be sure I will give thanks for my family and those good friends who have remained true over the years, even during the rough spots.
I have lived in Brownsville longer than I have anywhere else in my adult life, and have developed a deep affinity for the place and the surroundings that give the place its character.
For quite some time I have been troubled with the problems in our neighbor Mexico, and the migration of its citizens that has resulted.
How do we define what is happening? Is it just a collection of unlawful activities? Certainly if you only focus on the happenings one at a time related to the traditional administration, that might well be the case.
What if we look at it as if the country were more distant and we had not developed such a close relationship? Might we consider what’s happening as a revolution by another major local force?
Further, might we then determine politically whether or not we can support the existing government or the revolutionaries? Then we as a nation would offer the afflicted residents assistance, or even the opportunity to move to the United States. Read more…

Glad to be home

Published Brownsville Herald 11/21/2011

You never realize how much you miss home until you aren’t there and the ‘stuff’ that you don’t realize you don’t have just isn’t there.
I am home now after having lived out of my laptop for three-plus months and my neglected home computer doesn’t have any of the new stuff.
The process of leaving reminded me of the things I like least about the government: the bureaucratic paperwork and red tape.
The discharge took some time and not every document was complete when we needed them, but finally all was finished and we were off to Hobby airport to catch a Southwest flight home. The security folks did their job thoroughly but did not overdo it either. The Southwest people were very courteous and got me to Brownsville in good shape.
Now I am home and I am anxious to go out and see what I have missed. I was anxious to get out and try out my new motorized wheelchair.
I soon discovered something was missing.
Sidewalks were missing! I can understand that in a small subdivision, but in a moderate-sized city it can be dangerous.
Even in front of schools and at nearby intersections there are no sidewalks, even though there are two schools near Price and Paredes Line roads, which are very busy. I also wonder why there is no police presence during lunch periods and at the beginning and end of school to slow down young drivers’ route away from schools to the nearby drive, eateries or the H-E-B. Read more…

Coming home

Published Brownsville Herald 10/31/2011

As I sit here watching game six of the World Series, I am considering a new life back home. I understand that I have progressed well enough to be able to go home as early as next week.
I am so fortunate to have been allowed to enter the DeBakey Veterans Administration Hospital in Houston, and again I must thank Dr. Manoj Gogia of the VA clinic in Harlingen for taking a precious Saturday to call and get me an appointment there the following week. He is a uniquely caring and competent representative of the medical staff. Thanks again.
That idea, the prospect I have been praying for, leaves me with a number of concerns. Many I suppose other amputees, especially so many of my fellow veterans, have felt before me.
I am sensitized because the hospital that performed the lifesaving surgery is a veterans hospital. I lived and shared many concerns, hopes, fears and in some cases terrors I felt regarding the loss of one or more limbs.
Now, I will be returning to my family and the community I have made my home for many years. I have some other concerns and doubts about once again interacting with my family, friends and acquaintances. These I expect will go away with just a little time and experience. However, they could be life-shattering to a young serviceman returning from the fields of battle, full of doubt about how his sweetheart will feel about him or how his family and friends will; perhaps they treat him as cross to be borne! Read more…

Thinking of home

Published Brownsville Herald 10/17/2011

I am again writing from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston and can report that my health is improving rapidly and I am getting used to being somewhat shorter than before. The staff here is working hard to provide me with the skills necessary to live a real life as a double amputee.
Though I knew some friends I served with in Vietnam who had learned to live (not just survive) with the loss of limbs, I definitely could not comprehend what it meant personally, especially to the view each of us holds as a “man.”
Somehow the first picture I had of myself was as half a man, as I couldn’t do some things and needed help to do others. Now I see it as just another set of skills I must learn to get the job done, whatever it might be. I don’t think I would have these views had I not served in the military and gone on to other jobs and careers during my 66 years. Read more…