The SANDBOX
               Great American Conversations
                  With The Alumni of RHS
               Issue 83  September 14, 2000

   "Those who have finished by making all others
   think with them, have usually been those who
   began by daring to think for themselves."
                             - Colton

Hear Who's Talking Today~

  Mary (Ray) Henslee (61), Steve Carson (58),
  Patty Stordahl (72), Ron Richards (63)
  Chuck Monasmith (65), Linda McKnight (65)

Ladies and Gentleman, Start Your Engines!

Subj:   Medicare Reform
From:  Mary Ray Henslee (61) Mah@satx.net

The more that I learn about the prescription drug
 plans set forth by the candidates, the more I
 wonder about the future of this country.  Of the
 two proposals, I think that Bush's plan makes the
 most sense and is flexible enough to streamline and
 get passed.  Gore seems to think that insurance
 companies cannot effectively handle the issue and
 that the government with all of its wisdom and
 compassion is the be all, end all that can.  Hmm! 
 Why is it then that in 1982 the Federal
 Government recognized that Medicare was not
 comprehensive enough coverage for most people
 so it began contracting with health care
 organizations to offer more benefits at little or no
 additional cost to Medicare recipients? 
 Historically these organizations have been known
 as Medicare HMO's.  Today they are sometimes
 called Medicare Plus Choice organizations.

I decided to find out more details about the
 Medicare HMO plan that PacifiCare has to offer
 called Secure Horizons, which I mentioned in my
 last entry in Issue 80.  After I found out just how
 this plan was tied to Medicare, I decided that it
 would be prudent for the government to strive for
 a similar arrangement with other companies.  Such
 a plan would incur no extra cost for the
 government over and above what they are already
 paying out for Medicare claims.  The plan works
 thusly: Medicare has a formula that they use to
 determine how much to pay Secure Horizons for
 each Medicare recipient participating in their plan. 
 The formula is based on the amount that Medicare
 pays out in claims in a particular region divided by
 the number of Medicare recipients in that
 particular region.  The result of this equation is the
 premium that the Health Care Financing
 Administration, which is the agency that
 administers Medicare, pays Secure Horizons to
 totally take over a person's medical claims
 including prescription drugs.  Medicare is then out
 of the mix except for paying the premiums.  No
 more or less is taken out of the Medicare
 recipient's social security check for Medicare and
 there are no out-of-pocket premiums due.  The
 only difference that Medicare recipients notice is
 better coverage.  A person has the option of
 dropping their Secure Horizons coverage at
 anytime and resuming their Medicare coverage. 
 Secure Horizons is offered in 15 states now,
 including Texas. 

The only requirement for Secure Horizons'
 coverage is entitlement to Medicare Part A and
 enrollment in Part B.  A person cannot be refused
 coverage for health reasons.  Secure Horizons pays
 100% of all hospital stays with no limits.  There is
 a $6.00 co-payment for prescription drugs with no
 limitation on generic drugs and a $1500 limit each
 year on brand-name formulary drugs.  Doctor
 visits require a $6.00 co-payment.  The coverage
 for running tests is 100%.  Nursing home care is
 paid for 100 days and home health care is
 completely covered.  Durable equipment such as
 wheel chairs, etc., is completely covered.  This plan
 and most Medicare supplemental plans cover some
 vision, dental, and hearing services, while
 Medicare does not.  This coverage is far more
 extensive than Medicare's coverage and certainly
 adequate enough coverage for those who cannot
 afford a Medicare supplemental insurance
 premium.  My daughter is a Director at a
 retirement village where many residents are
 enrolled in Secure Horizons and are very satisfied
 with their coverage.

The hidden costs for handling something as major
 as what the candidates are proposing is never
 mentioned, such as added paperwork and more
 man-hours for government employees.  Gore's plan
 would require the government to function like an
 insurance company.  Individual claims would have
 to be monitored so that they don't exceed the
 limitations set forth or include brand-name drugs
 that could be replaced with generic drugs.  A plan
 such as Secure Horizons would not generate extra
 clerical work for the government, but rather serve
 to cut down on paperwork and man-hours.  A
 Medicare supplemental insurance plan to cover
 prescription drugs would also prevent extra clerical
 work for the government.

Having the government pay for prescription drugs
 instead of an insurance company would end up a
 bureaucratic nightmare and the cost would be so
 astronomical that the FICA deduction would
 surely rise in the future, especially after baby
 boomers hit the scene.  Many doctors refuse to be
 Medicare assigned doctors because they are forced
 to charge less and wait longer for payments.  The
 pharmaceutical companies may take the same
 position after a while.  This is one issue that should
 be handled in a bipartisan manner when it reaches
 congress.  Bungling this one will effect the elderly,
 taxpayers, and future Medicare recipients.....in
 essence, everyone.  For a candidate to propose
 something that will never become reality in order
 to win a select group's vote, is especially sad when
 that group is the elderly who may not realize that if
 it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true. 

There are many people under 65 who must decide
 between medication and other necessities because
 they do not have health insurance.  I think that
 before the government gives tax credits for
 childcare and college tuition, they should give a tax
 credit for health insurance to those with an income
 below $25,000.  I think that the Earned Income
 Credit should be abolished because I am sure that
 many get away with fraudulently claiming the
 credit at the taxpayers expense.  The money
 utilized for this credit would be better spent
 subsidizing health insurance premiums for the
 family's children rather than given in the way of a
 check that can be used for a bottle of booze or
 anything desired without any accountability.  I
 survived without a childcare credit.  I survived
 without a tax credit for my children's college
 tuition.  I may not survive without health
 insurance.  Making it possible for everyone to have
 health insurance should come first because our
 good health is more important than anything else
 is.  Let's hope that the Medicare issue is handled
 prudently so that the wealth can be spread around
 and those under 65 can also enjoy good health.
               - Mary Ray Henslee (61)

                                ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Media Ownership and Test Scores
From:   Steve Carson (58)    SteveNitro@aol.com

For Anna Durbin (69):  I agree with much of what you write.
Exceptions:  "The Media is owned by Conservatives" 
If that were true then the press would be supporting
the conservative view.  Education:  Testing is 
necessary and yes Tests at Col Hi did focus me and
lock in the information taught.  Our good teachers
inspired and you wanted to show well on tests.

                                 ~ ~ ~

Subj: Where is Pat Paulson When You Need Him?
From:   Patty Stordahl (72)   DZIGNRITE@aol.com

The older I get the less wool one can pull over my
 eyes. I am of a sound mind to believe nothing I
 hear from a candidate and research backgrounds.  I
 and my voting household are so sick of all the
 deterioration of the Democrat & Republican
 parties that we have decided to vote under a
 protest vote.  Big money elects the puppets in the
 higher offices and for any American who believes
 their vote other than a protest is less than savvy in
 my eyes.  With the computer age well into
 everyone's reach we no longer need an electoral
 vote.  We could all mark our ballots right from
 home and our own little PC's.  Then the popular
 vote would mean something.  We just may get the
 one we really want.  Not just the lesser of the two
 richest evils.  Join me in registering a protest vote.  
 Whether it does much good or not at least the
 more protest votes there are the more the two
 major parties will have to take a serious look at the
 voting public.  Every one thinks there is only Bush
 & Gore.  Hey where is Pat Paulson when you need
 him.  

I vote common sense and Liberty for the
 country.  Can we handle the no government
 freebies and handouts that overtax the middle
 class?  I for one am so tired of free this and free
 that to all less fortunate.  IF there were less
 programs, there would be more pride in the
 American lifestyle.  If I could sit on my butt and
 have the tax payers foot my bills, that may be a life
 style I would get used to, but not totally like. 
 Free handouts breeds laziness.  As a single mother
 of 4 for 14 years, I always found work.  Medical
 bills were my responsibility as well as school
 lunches and clothing.  Handouts are for lazy people
 and indifferent adult children who have older
 parents and will not provide for the folks in their
 old age.  My rearing has never left an option We
 take care of our own, If each family took care of
 their own there would be no need for the
 government to use my tax dollars to pay for
 abortions, to pay for  medicaid, to supliment the
 homeless or drug users.  

I say vote for Brown or Nader as a serious protest. 
 Change the vision of the Democratic &
 Republican parties and bring some control back to
 the people.  I want my gun, my life and my old age
 investing to be my decision only.  Kick the
 government out of homes, churches, schools, and
 out of my paycheck.  Charity begins at home not
 with Uncle Sam stealing 38% of my wages.  By the
 way there are more brand new Toyota's & Honda's
 and Lexus's in our Seattle suplimented housing
 project parking spaces than in my entire town.

Humm I wonder how I can get a section 8 so I can
 have a new car???
                   - Patty Stordahl (72)

                               ~ ~ ~

Subj:    Fuel Cells
From:    Ron Richards (63)    G1A1S1@aol.com

I couldn't believe my eyes - a positive statement
 (regarding fuel cells) from Dick Epler with which I
 could agree.  Now I ask Dick to recognize the 
 possibilities for advancing the commercialization of
 fuel cells through the construction of several fuel
 cell distributed power facilities in the Tri-Cities as
 a condition of Snake River Dam removal.

At the same time one should not sell short the
 possibilities for doing the same with solar power. 
 Shell Oil Company is the largest producer of solar 
 panels in the world today.  Maybe there is a
 message here.  AstroPower has more demand for
 its solar panels than it can meet.  Maybe there is
 also a message here.  And the examples go on.

The combination of fuel cell and solar panel
 technologies will be an important part of the
 development of the hydrogen cycle.  The economic 
 development gurus in the Tri-Cities should not let
 this opportunity pass.  It is not too late for
 Hanford to become a major player in this game.  
 Mitigation for any negative impacts from Snake
 River Dam removal is just the ticket to jump start
 this effort.

To read about a few of the interesting
 developments with these technologies 
 (and perhaps to discover some good investments,
 although perhaps not as good now as a while ago),
 one should check out the Yahoo news reports for
 FCEL, APWR, ENER, and BLDP.  It's an
 interesting world out there beyond the constraints
 of atomic energy, the internal combustion engine,
 and hydro power!
                     - Ron Richards (63)

                                ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Re: The SANDBOX Issue 79

For Dick Epler - Thanks for the history lesson.
   - Steve Carson (58) (SteveNitro@aol.com

                               ~ ~ ~

Subj:   Words to Harry Potter Critics
From:   Chuck Monasmith (65)  msmith@owt.com

Dear Jenny Smart Page (87)

Unlike most of the persons stating opinions about
 the Harry Potter books, I have read all four.  The
 books are fabulous tools for teaching kids right
 from wrong, good from evil, how to make value
 judgments and how to stand the courage of their
 convictions.

Book Two, Harry Potter and The Chamber of
 Secrets was especially good for teaching kids one
 very specific lesson.  

How can you teach examples of hatred, prejudice
 and bigotry without offending at least one
 oppressed group?  It's easy. You show kids how
 the bad guys in the story display bigotry towards
 the muggles and the mudbloods.  How can any
 race or group of persons who has been the victim
 of bigotry be offended when the lessons are taught
 and passions rallied against bigotry when the
 oppressed are the muggles and the mudbloods? 
 Harry, Ron and Hermione set an example for all
 our kids (and some of us adults too) on how best
 to respond in the face of bigotry. 

Jenny, Please let your young reader experience the
 Harry Potter series, better yet, you read it aloud to
 him.  Censorship of the unknown is the very worst
 kind of ignorance. Teach your young reader to be
 enlightened and to make judgments based on
 experience and fact, not on conjecture.  

I realize my letter has been pretty hard on Jenny.  It
 just happened her letter was the one that pushed
 my button against censorship. 
            - Chuck Monasmith (65)

                               ~ ~ ~

Subj:  Harry Potter
FROM:  Linda McKnight (65)
LMckn21142

Before anyone should voice an opinion about the
 Harry Potter books, pro or con, I think those
 people should read the books.  While witches and
 wizards sound pretty terrible, it seems we all grew
 up with the Wicked Witch, the Good Witch and
 the Wizard of Oz.  How are these books any
 different?  Are there really some parents out there
 whose children were forbidden from reading Alice
 in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz?  Didn't good
 triumph over evil?

                                ~ ~ ~

That concludes this issue, folks.  Please remember
 to include your class year and MAIDEN name, (if
 applicable), in all correspondence and subscription
 requests.

To join in the ongoing conversations here, send your 
comments to:  THE_SANDBOX@bigfoot.com 

Enjoy visiting THE SANDBOX archives at:
 http://www.bigfoot.com/~The_Sandbox

                      - Al Parker (53)
                 Your SANDBOX host