Dell's Original Uncoverage Logo by Antonio F. Branco, Comically Incorrect

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vermont Lt. Governor Phil Scott’s Construction Company Totally Destroyed By Fire

Vermont Lt. Governor Phil Scott’s Construction Company Totally Destroyed By Fire

"I am glad no one was hurt, an awful lot of history though. I have owned for 26, 27 years, a lot of history, a lot of records. A lot of the equipment is gone" - Lt. Governor Phil Scott

By Dell Hill

Back in the early Fall, as Vermont was digging itself out of a horrible mess created by Tropical Storm Irene, you may have seen the State’s Lieutenant Governor, Phil Scott promoting the “We Are Vermont Strong” campaign.  The popular second-in-command of state government even had the Vermont Strong logo painted on his stock cars that he drives on New England race tracks.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott with Lyz Tomsuden and Eric Mallette, developers of the "Vermont Strong" logo.  Photo:  Courtesy of Phil Scott

Scott wasn’t directly impacted by that storm, but today he’s learning what it’s like to be Vermont Strong.  His entire construction business was destroyed by fire last Friday night.

Here’s the report from Anson Tebbetts of WCAX TV in Burlington, Vermont.

As you might expect, Phil Scott’s phone has been ringing off the hook with offers from thousands of Vermonters asking “how can we help”.

As one local official told me today, “I know a lot of people realize how hard Phil Scott worked behind the scenes to help hundreds of Vermonters in the aftermath of Irene, and now they want to return the favor.  That’s how we roll here.  Political party doesn’t matter (Scott is the lone Republican in a state government totally dominated by Democrats).  The only thing that matters is he’s lost everything related to DuBois Construction and if there’s any possible way we can help him recover, we’ll do it”.

Scott’s Chief of Staff, Nancy Driscoll, posted a ‘Thank You” on his web site today for the outpouring of public support.

“Hi everyone - this is Nancy Driscoll, Phil's chief of staff.  Phil wants to thank everyone who has posted their well wishes here and/or stopped by DuBois this morning.  It means a lot to him.  Thank you, and we will keep you posted.”
Over a quarter of a century worth of hard work went up in flames, but don’t worry about Phil.  He’s Vermont Strong!

Real News Is Still On Vacation

Real News Is Still On Vacation

"Campaign '12" Starting To Take Shape

By Dell Hill

Congratulations go out to the visitor from San Diego, California who recorded the 25,000 page view just before midnight Friday night!  The overall blog numbers have fallen off sharply, and I fully expected that to happen.  It happens to every web site during holiday periods.  The difference here is I refuse to "make up stuff" to make it look busy...or start posting pictures of scantily clad women to attract blog hits.

Real news continues to be taking a Christmas/New Years vacation.  About the only things going on right now are the cut and dried political debates - which are really boring (I haven't watched one yet and I don't plan on it).  That's where the candidates take turns giving memorized answers to questions and try their best to make the whole show a commercial for their candidacy.  I'm just not into that.  I have some questions I'd like to ask each of them, but for some strange reason I wasn't invited to join the panel.

Even the Facebook crowd has taken to posting month old "news" links, along with the usual and customary hoax and misinformation stuff that doesn't trip my trigger either.

Not to worry; things will pick up and we'll have some red meat news to pass along soon.  In the meantime, enjoy the final bowl games and get ready for "Campaign '12".  I've taken advantage of the slow period to research and write on the almost totally neglected US Senate races that could turn out to be just as critical to our future as the presidential battle.  Look for those pieces in the not too distant future.


Elderly To Suffer As Medical Practices Shut Down

Elderly To Suffer As Medical Practices Shut Down

Doctors Reject Medicare Patients As The Economy & Regulations Force Bankruptcy & Closure

By Dell Hill

“Count your blessings” is always good advice.  Today, I’m doing just that over the blessing of finding a personal physician who accepted me as a patient, despite the fact that payment for my medical services is exclusively through Medicare and Medicaid.  Most doctors are simply not taking Medicare/Medicaid patients because to do so could speed up the process of going broke.

I recently spoke with the senior partner of the medical service that accepted me as a patient.  For obvious reasons, I won’t identify him or his office, but suffice to say, he’s been in a highly respected practice for over 25 years and - along with his partner - runs a medical facility with five additional MD’s.

“You were lucky”, he said with a smile.  “You were still listed in our database as having been a patient before you moved to Texas and, now that you’ve returned, you’re still on our list.  When I saw your request I recognized the name and approved you.  Otherwise, you’d probably still be looking (for a doctor)”.

So why is this happening?  Why are medical doctors closing up shop, filing for bankruptcy, and not accepting Medicare/Medicaid patients?  I wanted to know, so I asked.

His answer surprised me.  I’ve never thought of doctors as being poor or “going broke”.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I’ve always thought of doctors as being well-to-do - rich, even.  And then I saw this piece posted by CNN Money and it all started to make much more sense.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Doctors in America are harboring an embarrassing secret: Many of them are going broke.

This quiet reality, which is spreading nationwide, is claiming a wide range of casualties, including family physicians, cardiologists and oncologists.

Industry watchers say the trend is worrisome.  Half of all doctors in the nation operate a private practice.  So if a cash crunch forces the death of an independent practice, it robs a community of a vital health care resource.

“A lot of independent practices are starting to see serious financial issues,” said Marc Lion, CEO of Lion & Company CPAs, LLC, which advises independent doctor practices about their finances.

Doctors list shrinking insurance reimbursements, changing regulations, rising business and drug costs among the factors preventing them from keeping their practices afloat.  But some experts counter that doctors’ lack of business acumen is also to blame.

Loans to make payroll: Dr. William Pentz, 47, a cardiologist with a Philadelphia private practice, and his partners had to tap into their personal assets to make payroll for employees last year.  “And we still barely made payroll last paycheck,” he said.  “Many of us are also skimping on our own pay.”

Pentz said recent steep 35% to 40% cuts in Medicare reimbursements for key cardiovascular services, such as stress tests and echocardiograms, have taken a substantial toll on revenue.

“Our total revenue was down about 9% last year compared to 2010,” he said.

“These cuts have destabilized private cardiology practices,” he said.

“A third of our patients are on Medicare.  So these Medicare cuts are by far the biggest factor.  Private insurers follow Medicare rates.  So those reimbursements are going down as well.”

Pentz is thinking about an out.  “If this continues, I might seriously consider leaving medicine,” he said.  “I can’t keep working this way.”

Also on his mind, the impending 27.4% Medicare pay cut for doctors. “If that goes through, it will put us under,” he said.

Federal law requires that Medicare reimbursement rates be adjusted annually based on a formula tied to the health of the economy.  That law says rates should be cut every year to keep Medicare financially sound.

Although Congress has blocked those cuts from happening 13 times over the past decade, most recently on Dec. 23 with a two-month temporary “patch,” this dilemma continues to haunt doctors every year.

Beau Donegan, senior executive with a hospital cancer center in Newport Beach, Calif., is well aware of physicians’ financial woes.

“Many are too proud to admit that they are on the verge of bankruptcy,” she said.  “These physicians see no way out of the downward spiral of reimbursement, escalating costs of treating patients and insurance companies deciding when and how much they will pay them.”

Read the entire CNN report by clicking here.

Dell’s Bottom Line:

That, in a nutshell, is exactly what my personal physician told me just a few days ago.  He operates a private practice and his costs of operation continue to go up while his income for medical services continues to go down.  As he said, “I’d be much better off if I just closed this entire office down and went back to a ‘one horse’ practice.”  Meaning open a much smaller office and screen out all Medicare/Medicaid patients.  “But, if I did that, I’d be leaving about a thousand people without any primary care physician and I just can’t do that.  This is a small community, by comparison.  These patients are my friends and neighbors.  I can’t just leave them without medical service”.

So - when I turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare and Medicaid - I was indeed fortunate that my long-time primary care giver allowed me back into his medical practice as a patient, even though he knew that he was going to lose money by doing so.  Now I just have to hope and pray his practice doesn’t suffer the same serious financial woes of the doctors identified in the CNN report and he’s forced to shut down.

I live in a very rural area and the loss of such a service would be devastating, to say the least.  Thanks to his service, I now see better, hear better, and will be undergoing a medical procedure for the removal of another kidney stone very soon.  Most especially, at my age, I hate to think of what life would be like without having a doctor available.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Wades In On GOP Law Suits

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Wades In On GOP Law Suits

Loyalty Oath Also Being Challenged

By Guest Blogger Richard Falknor @ Blue Ridge Forum

Things are heating up in the First State of Virginia.  Guest blogger, Richard Falknor @ Blue Ridge Forum has been on top of this story since day one.

Why Is the Governor Taking Ownership of VA Primary Mess?

Old Dominion governor Bob “McDonnell knocks Perry’s primary lawsuit” reported Steve Contorno (Washington Examiner) yesterday evening.

Contorno continued – -

“Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell criticized a lawsuit brought by friend and fellow Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who is suing the commonwealth after he failed to qualify for the March 6 presidential primary.

Speaking Wednesday, McDonnell said he doesn’t support retroactively changing state rules just because Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich didn’t meet Virginia’s ballot restrictions — 10,000 signatures from registered voters.  McDonnell pointed out that in his 20 years of politics, ‘no credible candidate for statewide office in Virginia has ever had a problem making the ballot.’

‘No question we’re among the strictest of the states, but if you want to be president of the United States, you ought to be able to collect 10,000 signatures in Virginia,’ he said from Richmond, adding he twice met the threshold without issue.”  (Underscoring Forum’s.)

But Tea Party activist and Virginia lawyer Jonathon Moseley told Blue Ridge Forum today that- -

“Yes, it is the same number of signatures, but it is not a fair comparison.  Rick Perry’s lawsuit is that Rick Perry should be allowed to bring people with him from out of Virginia, for a national race.  The provision at issue in Rick Perry’s lawsuit is whether petition gatherers have to be Virginia resident voters.  OF COURSE, everyone in McDonnell’s campaign would be Virginia registered voters.  Bob McDonnell lives in Virginia.  Rick Perry does not.  Bob McDonnell’s race for Governor of Virginia is 100% inside of Virginia.  So McDonnell’s entire campaign apparatus would qualify as Virginia resident voters to collect petitions.  McDonnell’s petition gathering efforts would not be affected by the provision that Rick Perry is challenging. “

Jonathon Moseley

The Grass Roots Are More Than Unhappy With the Primary Mess
Yesterday evening the Northern Virginia Tea Party — under the leadership of Ron Wilcox — met in Springfield to look at the “Virginia Ballot Access Crisis” asking “Can Something be Done?”

Virginia lawyer Jonathon Moseley walked the group through the basics of the legal issues related to the Primary mess.  Readers can revisit Moseley’s own filings to put Newt Gingrich on the Virginia Primary ballot here and here.

Mark Daugherty, incoming chairman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots, drove in from Staunton to introduce himself  and was able to take in the frustration of his northern Virginia brethren.

Today Olympia Meola reports (Richmond Times-Dispatch) that “McDonnell, Bolling want state GOP to abandon loyalty oath for primary.”   Here is delegate Bob Marshall’s  critique of that politically reckless initiative.  According to Meola, the SCC is slated to “reconsider”  the oath requirement on January 21.

Mike Giere Urges GOP Voters to Fight Their Disenfranchisement

Mike Giere

Republican State Central Committee member Mike Giere urged the Tea Partiers to fight their disenfranchisement caused by the restrictive rules (and reportedly incompetent management) of the Presidential Primary qualifying process.

“Talk to your General Assembly members,” he strongly recommended.

Former Reagan Administration aide Giere is running for chairman of the 11th Congressional District.  Time to move fresh talent into these RPV positions, he told Blue Ridge Forum, and to do so without demeaning the contribution of those who have served so long.

Whatever Ken Cuccinelli’s tactical reverses in trying to address the Primary uproar, the Attorney General consistently made it clear that he didn’t like the Presidential Primary qualifying process.

Why is the governor embracing this flawed system?  Stay tuned.”

US Navy Rescues Iranian Hostages - Khomeini Grateful!

US Navy Rescues Iranian Hostages

Ayatollah Khomeini Blesses US Commandos
(That Part Might Be Made Up)

By Dell Hill

“You’re Welcome!”

The US Navy has rescued 13 Iranian sailors who were being held hostage by pirates in the Gulf of Oman.

Ironically, the forces that came to their assistance were assigned to the USS John C. Stennis strike group -- the same aircraft carrier that was subject to an Iranian threat just days earlier amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran over the Islamic Republic's pledge to close the Strait of Hormuz.

US forces swung into action at 12:30pm local time Thursday after a Navy helicopter spotted a suspicious skiff alongside an Iranian-flagged boat and picked up a distress signal from its
captain, the US Navy said in a statement.

A US Navy handout photo shows the guided-missile destroyer 'USS Kidd' responding to a distress call from the Iranian-flagged fishing dhow 'Al Molai,' who claimed he was being held captive by pirates in the Arabian Sea.
A counter-piracy team from the Navy destroyer USS Kidd boarded and detained 15 pirates who had been holding the boat's crew hostage for more than a month, using their ship, the Al Molai, as a launch pad to mount raids on other vessels.

"The Al Molai had been taken over by pirates for roughly the last 40-45 days," said Josh Schminky, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service agent aboard the Kidd.

"They were held hostage, with limited rations, and we believe were forced against their will to assist the pirates with other piracy operations."

Schminky said the hostages were given food, water, and medical care.

"They had been through a lot.  We went out of our way to treat the fishing crew with kindness and respect," he added.

The captured pirates are currently on board the Stennis while authorities consider prosecuting them.

The rescue comes just days after Iran's army chief warned the Stennis against returning to the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping route for up to 20 percent of the world's oil”

Dell’s Bottom Line:

THIS JUST IN - Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini expressed sincere thanks to the United States Navy commandos who rescued his countrymen from likely death.

If you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell....really cheap, too!

American Cancer Society Reports Continued Reduction In Cancer Mortality

American Cancer Society Reports Continued Reduction In Cancer Mortality

More Than A Million Deaths Avoided Since Rates Began To Drop

By Dell Hill

The American Cancer Society's annual cancer statistics report shows that between 2004 and 2008, overall cancer incidence rates declined by 0.6% per year in men and were stable in women, while cancer death rates decreased by 1.8% per year in men and by 1.6% per year in women.
The report, Cancer Statistics 2012, published online ahead of print in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians says over the past 10 years of available data (1999-2008), cancer death rates have declined in men and women of every racial/ethnic group with the exception of American Indians/Alaska Natives, among whom rates have remained stable. The reduction in overall cancer death rates since 1990 in men and 1991 in women translates to the avoidance of more than a million total deaths from cancer during that time period.   

Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths expected in the United States in the current year and compiles the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, and survival based on incidence data from the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and mortality data from the National Center for Health Statistics.  Cancer Facts & Figures 2012, the report's accompanying consumer publication, includes a Special Section each year, which in 2012 focuses on cancers with increasing incidence rates.
Other highlights include
  • A total of 1,638,910 new cancer cases and 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the United States in 2012.
  • The most rapid declines in death rates occurred among African American and Hispanic men (2.4% and 2.3% per year, respectively).
  • Death rates continue to decline for all four major cancer sites (lung, colorectum, breast, and prostate), with lung cancer accounting for almost 40% of the total decline in men and breast cancer accounting for 34% of the total decline in women.
  • About 1,024,400 cancer deaths (732,900 in men and 291,500 in women) were averted from 1991/1992 through 2008 as a result of 18 years of consistent declines in cancer death rates.
  • Cancer incidence and death rates vary considerably among racial and ethnic groups. For all cancer sites combined, African American men have a 15% higher incidence rate and a 33% higher death rate than white men, whereas African American women have a 6% lower incidence rate but a 16% higher death rate than white women.
  • Compared with whites, African American men and women have poorer survival once cancer is diagnosed. The 5-year relative survival is lower in African Americans than in whites for every stage of diagnosis for nearly every type of cancer.
  • Cancer incidence and death rates are lower in other racial and ethnic groups than in whites and African Americans for all cancer sites combined and for the four most common cancer sites.  However, incidence and death rates for cancers related to infectious agents, such as those of the uterine cervix, stomach, and liver, are generally higher in minority populations than in whites.
  • Further progress can be accelerated by applying existing cancer control knowledge across all segments of the population, with an emphasis on those groups in the lowest socioeconomic bracket.”

Read the entire report by clicking right here.

Dell’s Bottom Line:  

A drop of just over one percent doesn’t seem like much, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction.  For that we are thankful.

There’s also very encouraging news from research and development agencies of late that gives hope for the prevention and/or cure for this deadly disease, which affects us all.  Each of us, it seems, is either directly affected or we know someone who is.

Eugene Robinson Stumbles & Bumbles Non-Apology For Comments On Santorum Infant’s Death

Eugene Robinson Stumbles & Bumbles Non-Apology For Comments On Santorum Infant’s Death

“This time, he took his political theatrics so far over the line it’s difficult to call it anything less than weapons grade stupid!” - DRH

By Dell Hill via The Blaze

Last night, the Blaze reported that Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to deliver his assessment of the way Rick Santorum and his wife mourned their stillborn child.  He called the response to the death “very weird.”

(Related: Eugene Robinson Tells Rachel Maddow That Rick Santorum‘s Stillborn Baby Story Is ’Very Weird’)

This morning, following his controversial comments, Robinson was confronted by “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough.  While Mediaite dubbed the conversation “a remarkably heated back-and-forth” dialogue, it’s perhaps more accurately described as a cordial, yet confrontational, explanation-seeking interview.

Here’s how Scarborough launched into the discussion:

“Do you think you may have gone overboard a little bit in your criticisms of Santorum?  We haven’t talked about it.  I’m not setting you up for anything.  I was taken aback by what you said.  My wife likes you very much, couldn’t believe you said it.”

During his discussion with the MSNBC host, Robinson seemed somewhat apologetic for the way in which he discussed Santorum’s handling of the death.

“I certainly didn’t mean to offend anybody, especially Mr. Santorum,” he told Scarborough.  “But it was in a discussion of his views, and, you know, which I consider extreme, and Santorum himself who is a cultural — culture warrior extraordinaire, whose faith — and we all appreciate someone of deep faith — but it is — it is extremely deep, and it’s a kind of faith that some people, I think, are going be… if not surprised by… at least want to know more about.”

When asked if he wished he hadn’t said it, Roninson responded, “I wish I hadn’t said it that way, Joe.”

You may recall that liberal commentator Alan Colmes made similar comments, then apologized to Santorum and his wife just days ago.”

Dell’s Bottom Line:

A Pulitzer Prize winning writer thinks that someones religious beliefs are really weird?  C’mon, Eugene, you can do much better than that.  In fact, “much better” would have been to shut your pie hole and say nothing at all about the man’s deep faith.

A reasonable and prudent man would have seen the aftermath of the Alan Colmes very poor decision to attack Santorum and his wife on their decisions concerning the death of their infant baby, but nooooo...he has to follow suit and make just as big a fool of himself.

Robinson is a card-carrying liberal Democrat.  He is highly critical of conservative politicians and conservative policy while normally defending mainstream liberal policy and philosophy.  This time, he took his political theatrics so far over the line it’s difficult to call it anything less than weapons grade stupid!

For being weapons grade stupid, Eugene Robinson earns a first place tie in this weeks “Scumbag of the week” competition.