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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

This Is Insurance Industry ‘Greed’?

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost
For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment

March 18, 2010

Was the timing coincidental?  Or was it a Bloomberg News Service effort to influence public opinion at a time of intense public focus on President Obama’s all-out push to win prompt Congressional approval of his trillion-dollar plan to make fundamental changes in America’s medical care system?

In any case, the nearly two pages of coverage in last Sunday’s World-Herald began with these prominent front-page headlines: 

“A cancer patient’s wife chronicles his end-of-life treatment:  seven years, six hospitals, four insurers, three oncologists, one surgeon—and a $618,616 medical bill.”

This was followed by this headline:  “They clung to hope—at a great cost.”

On an inside page, in the 10th paragraph of the story, you had the first suggestion that medical insurance provided by her employers allowed the couple to fight the cancer “with a series of expensive last chances.”  It wasn’t until the 75th paragraph that you learned how the current medical insurance system—which Obama wants so obsessively to change—left the husband and wife responsible for only $9,468 of a seven-year total cost which started out at $618,616 and was reduced to $254,176 “after insurers negotiated with the medical providers.”

There is, as I recall, an old saying that I’ve heard some of my lawyer friends use:  “Hard cases make bad law.”  I don’t know whether you would describe the case of cancer patient Terence Foley and his wife Amanda Bennett as a “hard case,” except perhaps in terms of needlessly prolonged suffering and emotional distress.  But it is certainly an unusual case to be used—if that was Bloomberg News Services intent—as an indictment of the current system of financing medical care in this country. 

A case in which insurance companies paid 96% of the cost of the extreme measures taken to prolong the husband’s life hardly fits the image of greedy insurance companies which Obama is currently painting. 

* * *

Many Are Satisfied With Their Insurance

Speaking of “hard cases making bad law,” a New York Times story recently said that in town-hall-style meetings along Obama’s campaign trail, the president spotlights stories of named individuals who have had problems receiving or continuing their medical insurance coverage (like an 6-year-old hemophiliac boy whose family nearly lost their coverage when costs of treatment approached a $1 million lifetime policy cap).

There are, of course, millions of cases every year where people do not have horror stories to report in regard to their health insurance coverage.  Most of the news coverage concentrates on the “hard cases,” in keeping with the old adage that bad news gets the most attention, whether in news coverage or in conversation with friends and family.

In concentrating on exceptional “hard cases” the president pretty obviously seeks to leave the impression that they are typical of what he sees as the shortcomings of private health insurance coverage.

Incidentally, the president would have made a stronger case in his town hall speech in Grand Junction, Colorado if he had not cited a family that had “nearly lost” their private health insurance coverage.

* * *

Toyota Drivers Have Safer Options

Now about those out-of-control Toyota-made cars which take off at high speeds, terrifying their drivers and in at least one case resulting in death.

Has it occurred to any of the terrified drivers that they might slow or stop the car if they pump the brakes, turn off the ignition and put the gearshift into neutral? 

That question was put recently to James Sikes, who said his Toyota Prius took off suddenly when he was driving on a California highway.  Sikes said he was so busy steering the speeding vehicle that he didn’t feel he could free his right hand to turn off the ignition and put the gearshift into neutral.

The best solution, of course, is for Toyota to really and reliably fix the dangerous vehicles so they don’t speed out of control.  But until that assurance can be honestly given to Toyota owners, the best advice might be simply to stop driving Toyotas or for drivers to try the brake-pumping, ignition turn-off gearshift-into-neutral solution. 

* * *

Good Legislative News On Hospital Construction
And Refusal To Promote ‘Government By Petition’

My compliments to the Nebraska legislators who supported two recent legislative decisions: 

--Committee approval of a two-year freeze on construction of new hospitals. 

--Rejection of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have lowered the number of petition signatures required to put measures on the ballot.

Nebraskans who would make it easier to have a popular vote on any piece of legislation or any proposed constitutional amendment continue to ignore a basic principle of representative government:  Too-easy access to the ballot can bog a state down—look at California—in a welter of “vote of the people” decisions which bypass the legislative process, which can produce more deliberation and less emotional, more rational policy-making.

Also ignored is the fact that in a majority of states, constitutional amendments can’t be put on the ballot by the petition process.

In neighboring Iowa, for example, a proposed constitutional amendment must have the approval of both houses of the Iowa legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions before it goes to the voters. 

Requiring state approval of hospital building plans would not be breaking new statutory ground in Nebraska.

Nebraska until 1997 required that hospitals seek a “certificate of need” from state government before proceeding with construction. 

Although the legislation which advanced from the Health and Human Services Committee last week is prompted by a specific controversy over construction of a second hospital in Kearney, as I see it, a “certificate of need” might well be considered as a requirement for hospital construction anywhere in the state, including certainly in the Omaha area.

Perhaps we need all the hospitals and clinics that are being built in the Omaha metropolitan area.  But should there be some way for the public to be assured that such construction is not expensive duplication of facilities and benefits the public primarily, with the interests of the hospital and clinic builders secondary to that overall public interest?

* * *

Sad White House Story: Kids Can’t Fly To Asia

Is there no price that President Obama isn’t willing to pay for helping Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gain public support to help him and them push the “ObamaCare” medical reform bill through Congress?

The president postponed his planned trip to Indonesia and Australia—the purpose of which has not yet been made clear to the public.  The trip had been scheduled to coincide with the spring vacation break when his two grade-school daughters would be free to travel with the president, presumably along with his wife and his mother-in-law. 

Now the family won’t be able to travel with him on his trip when he leaves March 21.

Is being president tough duty or not?  Imagine having to deprive your children of a trip to Indonesia and Australia, sort of a second act to the European trip on which Obama took his family to Moscow and the Vatican. 

Is it that the president doesn’t see enough of his family when he is in Washington spending his nights at the White House?  Or is it that the president think it’s proper to give his family, including his children and mother-in-law, the benefits of foreign travel which would be the envy of millions of families, including those who pay the taxes to finance the president’s trips abroad? 

* * *

A Pop Quiz For Sports Page Fans:
What Team Has More Coverage Than Popularity?

Let’s close with a one-question quiz for sports page readers.  The question:  Which collegiate sport in Nebraska is given the most coverage (or over-coverage) when the coverage is compared with the popularity of the sport?

No, it’s not the Nebraska Cornhusker football team.  The Huskers receive massive coverage, but there is a massive statewide interest in the Huskers.

The answer to today’s quiz is what might be called a slam-dunk—or, more appropriately, a shot into an open hockey net. 

The most extensively covered collegiate sport in Nebraska in relation to its popularity is University of Nebraska at Omaha Mavericks hockey. 

For just one example, before their recent trip to Big Rapids, Michigan to play a series with a team from a school named Ferris State, the Mavericks received front-page attention in The World-Herald sports section three consecutive days, including a page-dominating color picture one day. 

The Mavericks lost two straight to Ferris State.  It marked the fifth straight year that the Mavs ended a season by being swept out of the second round of the league playoffs.

The reporter assigned to cover Maverick hockey wrote:  “For fans who make a comment about those nights when there are ‘only’ 6,000 or so people at a University of Nebraska at Omaha home game, they need to look at the attendance figure (862) on Friday” in the Ferris State arena.

Okay, let’s look at that 862 person turnout in relation to the estimated 10,200 or so population of Big Rapids, Michigan.  A crowd of 862 would be the equivalent of 8% of Big Rapids population.

The UNO Mavericks play in a city with an estimated population of around 440,000.  If the Mavericks drew the same proportion of their home city’s population (8%) as did the Ferris State Bulldogs for the opening of their series with the Mavericks, it would be a turn-away crowd at the Qwest Center arena in Omaha. 

Even that capacious arena couldn’t hold a crowd 35,200 fans—which would be the Omaha eight-percent-of-population equivalent of the 862 persons who turned out for the Mavericks first game in Big Rapids, Michigan last week.

# # #

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