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October 10, 2009     Mountain Messenger
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October 10, 2009
 

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4A Oct. 3, 2009 Mountain Messenger - The Weekend Paper for the Greenbrier Valley www.mountainmessenger. Facts & Common Sense II Got Single-Payer Health Insurance? By Joan C. Browning Half of poor full-time workers and 12 percent of children are among the 45 million Ameri- cans without health insurance. Almost that many of us al- ready have "government-run. single-payer, tax-everybody-but -tax-the-rich more" health in- surance. It's called Medicare. Medicare covers 43 million foils. More than 99 percent virtually all people over 65 have Medicare coverage. Medicare is a social health insurance program that has been administered by the Unit- ed States government for 44 years. Television hustlers pitch sales spiels at "Medicare mem- bers." Medicare has no mem- bers. Medicare serves benefi- ciaries. Medicare is financed partly by beneficiaries, partly by taxes on workers and employers, and partly by federal funds. Physi- cians and hospitals finance part of Medicare by accepting very low, often below cost. re- imbursement. The Federal Insurance Con- tributions Act (FICA) taxes in- clude 2.9% tax on wages, sal- ary, and other compensation in connection with employment for Medicare. The employer and employee each pay half of the FICA Medicare tax. Self em- ployed people pay the whole 2.9% tax under the Self-Em- ployment Contributions Act. Medicare Part A premiums are "free" for retirees ff they and their employers paid the FICA tax for 40 quarters, or 10 years. All Medicare beneficiaries pay an additional insurance premium for Part B. Premiums are usually deducted from So- cial Security checks. Medicare Part B premiums have a "tax the rich" element. Beneficiaries whose incomes are under $85,000 pay $96.40 per month. The premiums for those with higher incomes range from $134.90 to $308.30 per month. Medicare beneficiaries also share the cost of Medicare-cov- ered treatment through out-of- pocket payments and co-pays. Medicare beneficiaries thus pay part of the cost through FICA taxes and out of pocket and co-pays. Taxpayers of all ages pick up the rest of the Medicare tab through federal income taxes. Medicare beneficiaries can expect to receive benefits that will cost Medicare far more than the taxes they paid into the system. For example, aver- age taxpayer payments for sin- gle men range from $108,000 to $240,000 and from $142,000 to $277,000 for single women. Medicare also subsidizes the vast majority of physician residence training in the Unit- ed States through the Direct Medical Education and Indirect Medical Education programs. Medicare was a long time coming. Private insurers con- sidered the elderly illness- prone and a "bad risk." Free market driven insurance com- panies could not or would not provide comprehensive, afford- able health care coverage to older adults. Americans needed a way to pay for medical services, Presi- dent Harry S. Truman thought. He couldn't get Congress to pass national health insurance. Vocal, sometimes sh~ll, oppo- nents sounded the alarm about "socialized medicine." President Truman lived to see part of his plan realized. On July 30, 1965, President and Mrs. Johnson and an Air Fore One plane load of Senators and Congresspersons and oth- er folks flew to Independence. Missouri. There, in the Tru- man Library, President John- son signed the Medicare So- cial Security Amendments into law. He immediately enrolled the first Medicare beneficiary, former President Harry S. Tru- man, and the second, former First Lady Bess Truman. Medicare now needs seri- ous reform. But as we consider ways to get more Americans covered by health insurance, let's drop the charges of "so- cialized medicine" and "tax the rich" and such anti-government language. The fact is that we have a long history of single-payer government health insurance. It has worked for older folks. Common sense says it's a mod- el t]hat might be worth consid- ering for everybody. It's called Medicare. Michael Showell, Editor & Publisher Peggy Mackenzie. Writer Kathy Hunter. Business Office Robert McCurdy, Circulation Lisa Stansell. Advertising W* Lisa Workman, Advertising Ieanette Albaugh, Typesetter Debbie McClung, Ad Design Julie Sweet. Ad Design Marti Marshall, Customer Service Mgr. w MEMBER The Mountain Messenger is a weekly publication. Periodicals postage paid at Lewisburg, West Virginia. The known office of publication is Box 429, Lewisburg, WV 24901 USPS 013784 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE MOUNTAIN MESSENGER Box 429, Lewisburg, WV 24901 Subscribe to the Mountain Messenger SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Carrier Delivery, where available, $15.00 Mailed, in State (WV) $25.00; Mailed, out of State $34.00 Name Address Phone Number Total Amount Enclosed WE ACCEPT VISA OR MASTERCARD Account No. Expiration Date Signature The Mountain Messenger Box 429, Lewisburg, WV 24901 Visit us at http://www.mountainmessenger.com Your Ooinion is Valuable Visit us at www.mountainmessenger.com Send letters and comments to: Mountain Messenger P.O. Box 429 Lewisburg, WV 24901 Call (304) 647-5724 or Fax (304) 647-5767 Wright to the Point By Jonathan Wright Note to Self... By Lisa Stansell Who cares about the "Arts" these days? Who cares ff chil- dren, or even adults, are ex- posed to some of the finer things in life? Things like music, paint- ing, and sculpture, photogra- phy, performance art or "Old World" craftsmanship? In these economic times when budgets are being cut left and right to accommodate who knows what. who is paying attention to the arts? Several places in Green- brier County come to mind. Places like the Greenbrier Val- ley Theatre, North House Muse- um, Trillium, and our very own Carnegie Hall. Of course these places don't have vast amounts of wealth just walking in the door, wouldn't that be nice. No. like so many others, especially nonprofits, fundraisers seem to be a necessity to survive. And next weekend one of the major fundraisers for Carnegie Hall takes over downtown Lewis- burg for the 25th year in a row. In case you aren't aware, may- be you just moved here or have been in hibernation for a while, I am referring to Taste of Our Towns, better known as TOOT. Now, I like going to TOOT. I love having Carnegie Hall and all it has to offer in this town. I understand that it takes a lot of money to do what they do and provide me and my family, and yours too, some of those finer things in life. I have volunteered for this event many years and will be selling cotton candy this year for Organ Cave. But when I found out about the new to- Tokens of TOOT ken system for TOOT this year my first thoughts were '~l'hat's dumb. What in the world is wrong with cash?" This was fol- lowed closely by the overriding feeling that this would never work. I mean, honestly, how can Carnegie Hall, expect ten thousand people, the figure for last year, to purchase tokens? Ten thousand peoplel And what happens to any left over tokens I might have. All these ques- tions were driving me a little nuts. So, instead of fretting about it anymore I decided to find out what the deal was. After a lengthy conversation with Sarah Elkins, the very pa- tient and kind volunteer & ape- eial events coordinator of Carn- egie Hall, I got the lowdown. Sarah explained to me that as a nonprofit Carnegie Hall has to be in compliance with regu- lations for those non-profits. But of course. By not being in charge of the ins and the outs of this major fundraiser, they are not. Using tokens takes care of many things. It places Carnegie in compliance with the agencies that regulate nonprofits. At the same time, it puts Carnegie in charge of their very own fund- raiser--imagine that. It also frees up vendors by removing the need for money or change, so maybe we won't have to wait in line as long. So far, so good. But what about these to- kens? How is that going to work? Are they paper, coins, plastic? Sarah told me that the tokens are copper colored met- al coins with the TOOT logo on one side and BB&T, because they paid to have the tokens made. on the other. Many to- kens have already been sold online or by phone. Just like a preordered concert ticket, these tokens can bepicked up at the "Will Call" booth in front of the green space. Also, there will be six other token booths set up around town-and, I like this part, they will be manned by bank tellers on each side. Who better to handle mass quanti- ties of money really quickly?. Even better, three of our area banks are staffmg the booths, costing Carnegie nothing. Nice. So, lastly I wondered what would happen to any leftover tokens I might have. Can I re- turn them and get my money back? No, but there are sev- eral things I can do with them. I can keep them and use them next year. Or I can take them to BB&T and be entered into a drawing for a Savings Bond. I can also take them to the Carn- 0 egie booth and donat~ I00 Yo of that token to Carnegie, that's a 75% boost from what they will get from the vendors. It seems a win-win-win situation. Carnegie Hall gets some much needed funds to continue their good work, the vendors make a bit of money too, and we get to taste some yummy food and donate to a worthy cause all at the same time. So, I have an- swered my questions. Have I answered some of yours? See you at TOOT! Although the recession has obviously hit some people espe- cially hard here in the Green- brier Valley, particularly those who've lost their jobs or have experienced temporary lay- offs, I get a sense of resiliency among the residents of this fa- vored area. As I make my rounds run- ning my errands during the late afternoons and early eve- nings each week at various lo- cations throughout our region, I see a genuine vibrancy in the shops and restaurants of our area. If nothing else, the sheer numbers of people out and about, shopping, taking care of personal business, and at- tending various public events speak of a community that's forging ahead with determina- tion despite the world economic downturn that's so much in the news these days. Take a look around at the larger parking lots of many of our shopping areas. And yes, that includes the Greenbrier Valley Mall. (Thanks, Mr. Pat- ton, for your very enlightening response to my September 19 thoughts on or local mall--I truly appreciate your thoughts and clarifications.) You would never know by seeing those many, many vehicles that a re- cession is going on. On the contrary, it makes one wonder. Where's everyone getting all that money to spend if things are so bad? We know how to make the best of things here in the Green- brier Valley. That's why we con- tinue seeing improvements to our roads, the construction of new homes, the seemingly never-ending expansion of our medical school and hospital, upgrades in our school facili- ties, and the construction of new businesses, including--as incredible as it may be---anoth- er new large motel that will be finished soon. We must be doing something right here in this part of West Virginia. A few nights ago I parked my car in the Jefferson Square parking lot in Lewisburg to bt~y a few things at Dollar Tree. I then put in a take-out order at Applebee's, after which I walked over the Wal-Mart to pick up several items while I waited on my order. The early-evening darkness helped accentuate the head- lights of the numerous vehicles all over the place and the warrh lights of the bustling busi- nesses in the area. Dollar Tree? Buzzing with customers. Appl~- bee's? You would think a con- vention was in town. Wal-Mart? Well, you know them--never, ever at a loss for shoppers. With darkness coming sb early and so many people out shopping and dining, a sudden. premature feel of the Christ- mas shopping season washed over me briefly. A palpable ex- citement and energy seemed to permeate the air, and I was glad I had decided not to stay at home all evening despite alLI had to do there. This is vintage Greenbrie~ Valley, where people get out and act as ff nothing's wrong with r the economy. A happy sense of consistency has been typical of our people and our local econ- omy for years, and although some businesses have had t,o throw in the towel over the past couple of decades, while laid-off workers have had to shift gear, and re-market themselves with new creativity--this upbeat re- siliency continues unabated to'- day. Don't ask me to explain if. Don't ask me to analyze it. I rd- ally can't. All I can say is that it's a genuine privilege to live m this virtual microcosm, of pros- perity that has taken its share of hits through the years bt~t continues pushing ahead with enthusiasm and determinatiori. If you've been staying gt home a lot lately, get out some evening and see what I mean. No doubt about it--you'll feel it too. Deadline for COPY is Thursday at Noon. i Open letter Re: United Way Campaign paign goal of $300,000. Your gift to United Way will support 32 partnering agencies that help remove barriers for those in our Valley who need help, and United Way initiatives fo- cusing on health, income and education. Born Learning - Providing resources for early learning op- portunities for young children in the Greenbrier Valley. FamilyWize Prescription Drug Discount Card - a free program graciously supported by our local pharmacies to help cut costs for prescription drugs. Warming Hands and Hems - a collaborative of area service providers for emergency assistance for home heating costs. To highlight the Warming Hands and Hearts initiative, in 2008 your local United Way funded 46 percent of this pro- gram. This impacted 362 fami- lies and nearly 1,000 people! In the past three years the UW has invested $79,522 to this proj- Dear Residents of Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe Counties: The 2009 United Way of the Greenbrier Valley's campaign is in high gear, and we need your helpl The challenges of our na- tional economy these past 12 months have had major im- pact on everyone. The demand on social services, both public and private, from struggling families in our Valley is huge. The United Way is ramping up fundraising activities in antici- pation of this growing need. We know many of you have sup- ported the United Way in the past, and we desperately need your help now. For those of you who are considering a gift for the first time, wee appreci- ate your generosity. Those of us who choose to live and work here know how important our Valley is to all of us, and how important the United Way is to the Greenbrier Valley. United Way of the Greenbrier Valley has an ambitious cam- r ect. Ann and I are personal~ troubled that children and s6- niors in our Valley fear going to sleep at night lacking resources for adequate heat. Winter is fast approaching. Here, we can make an immediate difference, The United Way of Greenbrier Valley is a vital conduit helping the lives of many touched l~y the partner agencies and initia- tives. The United Way helps t~s all--supporters and recipients. And you are vital to the Unit- ed Way. Our contributions are truly investments in a healthy community. And remember. 99 cents out of every dollar stays right here locally. Since 198~, United Way has invested over $2.2 million in the Greenbri~r Valley. lin Thank you for your wil ness to help make the Green- brier Valley a better place. Ev- ery dollar is so important. Sincerer, Rick and Ann McClurtg 2009 Campaign Co-Chait, s Our Policy on Letters We welcome letters from our readers will consider each one carefully for publica- tion. Letters are printed free of charge. Please follow these directions. 1. We appreciate typed letters, but please double space and use both upper and lower case letters. Handwritten letters are acceptable as long as they are readable 2. We do not print anonymous letters. You must include an original signature. 3. Include your name, full address and phone number. 4. All letters should be no longer than 300-400 words and are subject to standard editing procedures. 5. The Editor reserves the right not to publish a letter. 6. All opinions expressed are those of the writer, and not that of the Mountain Messenger News#aper. Send letters to: Mountain Messenger P.O. Box 429 Lewisburg, WV 24901 P t # # 0 # 4