Boy, here's a dilemma most parents will never have to face. A son lives a life dressed as a woman. So how should he be dressed upon his death?(4 Comments)
The Wellstone-Ramstad effort, aka "the mental health parity bill" passed the House yesterday, 268-to-148 (See roll call vote), and, yes, that is Rep. Jim Ramstad standing next to Nancy Pelosi in today's New York Times article. Forty-seven Republicans joined 221 Democrats in voting for the bill, which requires insurance companies to consider a mental illness in the same manner they consider a physical illness.
President Bush endorsed the notion in 2002, but on Wednesday he opposed it.
But far from creating an entire new class of coverage, the bill actually closes a loophole. Under a 1996 law, health plans are forbidden to set annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health care that are lower than the limits for other services. But insurance companies got around the law by setting different limits on visits and co-payments.
Pharmaceutical companies aren't all that thrilled with the bill because of the way it will be paid for. The Medicaid rebate, in which the companies discount revenues from sales to Medicaid patients, will be increased by about 5 percent. Eli Lilly, for example, says that'll increase costs for other patients.
Minnesota's state law requires parity already. Does it make a difference in costs to business or consumers? Medica officials are quoted in an Ohio research report as estimating the cost at 26 cents a month for subscribers -- $3 a year.
The debate isn't over. The House bill has to be reconciled with the Senate version, which has the insurance companies' blessing, and covers a narrower range of illnesses.
Might this be an issue in the presidential campaign? Maybe. None of them had anything to say about the issue on Wednesday. But the National Alliance on Mental Illness has candidate questionnaires available for Clinton and Obama. John McCain submitted a statement instead, which offered little in the way of a clear position on the issue.(2 Comments)
Much has been made of the TV ad from Hillary Clinton about those 3 a.m. phone calls at the White House, signaling the start of something big. So how important is 3 a.m. in the annals of American history?
Feel free to submit your own but here are a few of the major U.S. news stories of the last several decades and the time a phone call might've been made to the presidential bedroom:
6/5/67 - The six-day war begins - 7:15 p.m.
4/11/70 - "Houston, we have a problem." - 2:13 p.m.
8/27/78 - The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan - 9:15 a.m.
11/4/79 - Iran militants takeover the U.S. embassy in Tehran. - 12 a.m.
4/18/82 - U.S. Marine compound in Beirut bombed. - 10:20 p.m.
12/20/89 - U.S. invades Panama - 1 a.m.
4/19/95 - Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City bombed - 10:01 a.m.
8/7/98 - U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania bombed. - 3:45 a.m.
10/12/2000 -- Attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen - 2:22 a.m.
8/29/2005 - Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. - 5:10 a.m.(3 Comments)
By way of Charlie Quimby at Across the Great Divide, we learn of a conversation regarding a survey of Minnesota school superintendents. Somehow, Quimby tells us, that spawned a debate on the Pioneer Press Web site regarding special education.
Said one commenter:
Minnesota needs to break free of Federal mandates that force us to spend 2.6 billion on special education and ESL (Supposedly reimbursed by the Federal Government but has never been so) and use this money to invest in the gifted and talented and “average” student body. We need to stop wasting 19% of our yearly State Education budget on future Wal-Mart greeters and spend it on our future engineers, scientists, and leaders!
When did "special education" become another word for "stupid"? What exactly is special education?
Here are a few examples.
It could be services -- perhaps, transportation -- for the blind student in Minnesota. Rep. Torrey Westrom might've been a beneficiary. He lost his sight in a farm accident in 1987, and went on to get a degree from Bemidji State, and is the first blind person elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives.
It could be education services for the deaf, which is not a reflection of intellectual ability. Just ask Sean Virnig of Faribault, who was stricken when he was 16. He's now a school administrator and just started a new business -- his own bicycle company.
It could be individualized instruction for students with a learning disability -- reading, writing, nonverbal etc. This might include dyslexia. Minnesota explorer Ann Bancroft has dyslexia. So does McKenzie Erickson, last year's student body president at Southwest High School in Minneapolis,. She had been a special education student since third grade.
And, of course, it certainly means English As A Second Language (ESL) student. And we're not reallyat the point where we think there's a relationship between IQ and the language one speaks, are we?
Clearly there is a debate to be had on special education funding; the federal government has not come close to living up to its promises. But maybe more education about what special education is should be required, before we tell students they can be nothing more than WalMart greeters.(6 Comments)
Today was going to be a pretty big day for Minnesota National Guard Specialist James Agada Idoko. When he returned to the USA after a one-
ear year deployment with the 247th Finance Detachment, Idoko, 29, was going to take the oath to become a citizen of the United States.
Then the bureaucracy got in the way.
Idoko's wife and family are still in Nigeria and like the other members of his unit, which returned to Roseville today, one of the first things he wanted to do was see his family. He plans to fly to Nigeria tonight. If he were a U.S. citizen, however, he'd need a passport to get back into the United States and he doesn't have a passport because he's not a U.S. citizen.
It takes weeks to get a passport so the National Guard canceled the ceremony today. Idoko will go visit his family, get back into the country as a Nigerian, and then become a citizen.
Idoko has been a corrections officer for Minnesota since 2005. He applied for citizenship in March 2006.
"It's a great country," he said Thursday.(2 Comments)