Up in a Down Economy
Last week's (February 25th issue) cover story, "Up in a Down Economy," was a breath of fresh air. At a time when all we seem to read is how "miserable" a city Memphis is, it's refreshing to read about people who have reacted to the current economic downturn with grit and imagination and optimism. Thanks, Memphis Flyer, for all that you do to make Memphis a better place.
The "Grudge Match"
Regarding the Herenton-Cohen cover story, "Grudge Match" (February 18th issue): As expected, former Mayor Herenton has taken the low road, using racial politics as his primary (only?) campaign issue. I hope and pray that a vast majority of voters in the 9th District will see this tactic for what it is: a step backward. Memphis has shown it can transcend racial politics by electing a number of officials across racial lines. May this trend continue.
A Health-Care Fix
I have decided to fix the health-care system in America. My goal is to do this at near zero cost and have the largest impact possible. Also, I will use no more than the front of this piece of paper I am writing on. The overall goal of this plan is to drive competition in the health-care markets, reduce the influence and control of insurance companies, and provide a safety net in case of "catastrophic" events.
1) All licensed health-care providers must provide cost of care upfront, before the services are rendered. Furthermore, prices for the most common procedures must be prominently displayed and readily available for consumers.
2) Health-care providers (including diagnostic laboratories) are to charge the same price for the same procedures regardless of patient's insurance. This will lower the health-care cost for the uninsured by 50 to 90 percent. Insurance companies will fight this one. It chips into their illusion of "value."
3) Discounts will be provided for consumers who pay out of pocket 100 percent of the charged services at the time of service. This will reward those who do not add to the cumbersome record-keeping required at medical facilities.
4) The United States will double the number of graduating medical-school students per year. This will be accomplished through zero-interest loans and forgivable loans.
5) The government will establish forgivable-loan programs for the purchase of medical equipment to nonprofit medical facilities and zero percent loans for for-profit medical facilities.
6) New capital medical equipment will be bought pre-tax and not subject to any jurisdiction's property tax.
7) The federal government will create an insurance pool for those who experience "catastrophic" events. These events will be handled case by case. Final consumer responsibility will be determined by a patient's ability to pay, and if so determined, the patient will be subjected to installment payment plans at the current prime rate. These payments will be made to the federal government as reimbursement for medical expenses.
I know there are a lot of details that will need to be sorted out. It may take one or two more pieces of paper. Total cost should come in somewhere around $90 billion a year and open access to health care for about 100 percent of the uninsured. You don't have to thank me. It's what I do.
A Suggestion for The Med
Since Memphis and West Tennessee cannot seem to get in the good graces of the governor, I have a suggestion for the board of directors of the Med: Start lobbying Fred Smith to buy the naming rights of the Regional Medical Center. FedEx already has many named sports arenas, including FedEx's hometown arena, FedExForum. Why not its hometown critical care hospital? The FedEx Regional Critical Care Center name would send a message about this great company that no sports arena can.
And Another Thing
I sure wish all these people — men especially — wouldn't wear so much perfume ("cologne") that they smell like they've dumped half the bottle over their heads. To me, almost all of the designer fragrances are obnoxious. Here's a tip for scent wearers: You're supposed to put just a drop on your pulse points! Sheesh!
Cheryl M. Dare