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The Daily Planet's Opinion: January 2018
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 11:23

Mission Health, Blue Cross reach agreement (Hurray!)


We are pleased, as are (no doubt) the estimated 260,000 people whose health care became really expensive or was postponed over the last two months, with the Dec. 6 announcement by Mission Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina that they had agreed to the terms of a new contract that became effective Dec. 15.

The much-publicized, highly contentious, six-month standoff began when the hospital system canceled its contract with Blue Cross over concerns over rising health care costs. Blue Cross refused to negotiate with Mission after the latter’s notice of termination was filed in July, resulting in a two-month contract expiration.

During the period when the contract lapsed, those with Blue Cross coverage who had medical needs faced the grim reality of having to pay the resulting significantly higher “out-of-network” costs to use Mission Health, to travel elsewhere for care with “in-network” coverage or to postpone medical care until an agreement was reached.

Both Mission and Blue Cross are near-monopolies in Western North Carolina, so their dispute, its fallout and now its resolution affect many residents and businesses. Unfortunately, neither Mission nor BCBSNC would unveil details of their new pact, so whether Mission accomplished its original aim is an huge unknown. It would be a shame if  Mission’s standoff was in vain and needlessly inconvienced or endangered those in need.

But looking on the bright side, at least with the new contract, BCBSNC customers can pay the less-pricey “in-network” fees when they receive care at Mission.


 
The Candid Conservative: Asheville plays a mean game of Monopoly
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 11:19

Public complacency drives the getaway car for political corruption

— Carl Mumpower

The problem

This year less than 20 percent of Asheville’s eligible voters crossed the finish line. Those thus invested successfully locked in another two years of a long-standing 7-0 governance monopoly. 

They double-downed on that error with a referendum on the one thing with the potential to shake up the cartel – district elections.

Why long-term dominance is a bad thing is revealed in the corruption unraveling day by day in Buncombe County. Democrats have been in effective control of that body for decades.

Though Republicans are in the mix, a governance culture of accommodation and self-congratulation allowed what appears to be massive exploitation. Imagine the potentials for bad stuff in a city government where management, staff and policymakers are all ordering off the same menu.

If the left thinks race, gender and economic standing merit representation, why not for people with a differing political view? Asheville’s conservative thinkers have nothing remotely close to a voice on our governing body.

Why does it matter? Please note the gentrification so ironically accelerated under a “progressive” majority. Does it come as new news that elitism is a measure of progress?

Operating out of one angle of view makes anyone dumb.  

 

The impact

Asheville’s reality has been flipped upside down most especially in affordability. Unless you’re blessed with a family trust fund, hefty retirement plan, profitable personal enterprise or super-marketable skill, for working people living here is a fading option.  

Three hundred-thousand-dollar brick bungalows in “affordable” West Asheville? What the heck?

A few years back, the slogan “Keep Asheville Weird” became the mantra for our city’s enlightened progressives. Bet they weren’t thinking “weirdly” unaffordable.

That’s just one of many ironic outcomes from our 7-0 “we won” progressive governance reality. Mind if we hit on a few more?

 


With drugs comes epidemic weirdness     

Asheville is an unbelievably safe haven for drugs. What is it about liberalism that requires substance infusions to keep acolytes happy?

In a macabre version of nature’s dedication to self-correction, we have a local hard drug phenomenon that’s addicting and killing people with fierce efficiency. City and county leaders have answered with a plan to sue drug companies. May one suggest more fertile opportunity is to be found in shutting down open-air drug markets in public housing and challenging a court system that’s about as efficient as a sunbathing polar bear?

One of my favorite drug scams is the pretense of marijuana’s innocence. Asheville is “smokin hot” when it comes to weed. Highlighting a disconnect to physical addiction has become a ruse for ignoring exceptional proclivities for psychological dependency.

Hate to break it to the thus inclined, but there are no escapes from Mother Nature’s efforts to keep us grounded on planet earth. Every escape has consequences – one of the biggest being when we start stoning we stop growing.

Progressive residents masterfully resist entrepreneurial capitalists attempting to build Wal-Marts as they simultaneously support entrepreneurial criminals using public housing as Drug-Marts.

Our thriving hospitality industry is a central player in Asheville’s drug distribution network. Perhaps that’s why most people order their favorite substance like they order pizza?

In curious partnership with Asheville’s thriving drug culture is an un-scrutinized court system more connected to funding the legal community than effectively intercepting crime.

Though any illegal drug you want is readily available, our medical community kills more people with painkillers than our drug culture kills with crack or meth.  It’s popular to attack drug companies as the bad guys, but keep in mind it was a vanity partnership with the ‘eliminate pain’ protocols of the medical community that got us in over our head.

Such is the strangeness of a society trained to believe there is a chemical lifeline for most of life’s problems. Spoiler alert Asheville – there are no short-cuts around the demands of personal choice, responsibility and growth.

 

 

Identity confusion?

Though nature clearly has a preference for two genders, Asheville has become ground zero for those seeking a third way.

No arguments that there are always exceptions to the rule, but may one suggest we’re working a little too hard to stretch the boundaries of reason?

For those seeking a detour around their DNA, Facebook reportedly has 51 gender ID options.  Is it safe to assume there is absolutely no connection to the otherworld mysteries of Area 51?

It’s a personal belief we are doing great disservice to those on the edge of Mother Nature’s master plan. The rightful mission of understanding and compassion is being exchanged for a program of obfuscation and celebration.

Gender confusion is mass-marketed in Asheville as a short-cut to happiness while vital statistics are saying just the opposite.

We live in a time – not unlike that of the Spanish Inquisition, Salem Witch Hunts and Nazis Holocaust – when honest discussion has been muted in preference to political correctness and power agendas.

The uphill struggles of Plan C are being ignored.  That Asheville is a hypocenter for this social subterfuge is not a good thing.

Hanging a rainbow flag on city hall was justified as an act of festivity. It was more rightfully a declaration of Alice in Wonderland groupthink. 

Compassion does not thrive without a bodyguard of truth.

 

A collapsing healthcare system?

Though temporarily resolved, recent power struggles between Mission Healthcare System and Blue Cross have distracted us from a broader truth – our healthcare system is in big trouble – here more surely than most places.

A long-standing commitment to a comorbid fusion of socialized medicine and free-market healthcare has left us with a rigged system representing the worst of both. One is reminded of the old adage about Washington, D.C. – ‘The charm of the north merged with the efficiencies of the south.’  

A congressionally enabled Obama was successful in forcing his healthcare fantasy on America. That there was never a chance his promised “cheap-accessible-excellent” program would work, was lost in a majority psyche increasingly devoted to fake over factual. Tried to purchase healthcare coverage lately?

Added to the local mix is a dramatic tilt toward a patient population relying on the chronically underfunded promises of Medicaid and Medicare.

For a path to fixing the mess, check out recent prices for flatscreen TV’s. The free market works – and it can do so for healthcare if we can get the politicians, lawyers, insurance companies and provider monopolies out of the mix. Time has proven none of them are as smart as the natural self-correcting forces advocated by – you guessed it – Mother Nature.

We’re not going to do that. Solomon was correct in his assertion that vanity guides the course of most human endeavors.

 

So, what are we doing to do?

We’re going to ignore the hyper-strained chronically understaffed Mission workforce attempting to keep that system functional. We’re going to continue to pretend that $1,500-plus a month family healthcare plans are affordable. We’re going to quietly step over the horrific number of suicides among WNC’s emergency service workers.

We’re going to allow our national leaders to keep promising more underfunded services and entitlements that fall on the shoulders of those – yes, as in Blue Cross – privately insured. We’re going to let Asheville’s drug enthusiasts continue to use hospital stays as expensive vacations versus sincere recovery opportunity. We’re going to keep living lifestyles that have us chasing health symptoms while we take a pass on personal responsibility for causes.

My generation is finally – and per the debt we’re leaving behind – perhaps thankfully coming to the end of its course. Those following behind better eat their Wheaties, cause on our way out – per our pattern – we’re going to grab an unfair share of a shrinking healthcare pie.

Selfish to the end.

 

 

The antidote?

Asheville’s unconscionable 7-0 governance monopoly reveals progressives have successfully seized control. That doesn’t mean they have won. Going up against Mother Nature with a chronic indifference to frugality, sincerity and balance assures eventual failure.

As their world gets crazier, people naturally get more conservative. Reality, reason, responsibility and right are always more attractive when – like here in cool green Asheville – opportunity is abused into chaos.

It’s never too late to rethink one’s progressive conformity addictions – here’s hoping you can afford to live here while your figuring that out.

• 

 Carl Mumpower, a psychologist and former elected official, is chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party. He can be reached at drmumpower@aol.

 

 



 



 


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