Monday, February 21, 2011
Common Sense in Wisconsin
Well, I posted this comment on a wall about 20 minutes ago, and wanted to share with my kids, and it already has been deleted. So, I decided to add it to my wall, where only I can change or delete it. These were my thoughts/comments pertaining to the Walker Budget Repair bill.
I'm not getting into this hugely, but...why is there an argument about a degree? And ongoing credits? I had an associates, then bachelor's, then masters, and eventually will end up with a doctorate. I have to have 100 hours of continuing education every 5 years to be a NP, and an additional 100 hourse of CME to be an ortho NP. It is an expectation of the job. How can I keep up with ever changing medicine if I don't read (on my own time), take courses (on my own time), and study (on my own time)? Who would want someone taking care of them who didn't do this?
I pay $320 every 2 weeks for health and dental premiums, and I work in healthcare. I can pay up to $4500/year of out of pocket expenses (deductibles, co-pays, etc. - this is not including my share of the premiums), and the past 2 years I have had to pay almost that full amount, due to surgeries in the family (almost $12,000 total each year). I don't know any teacher that pays that amount into their health expenses. What other profession allows their employees to retire at age 57, with healthcare premiums paid for?
Any one in healthcare works evenings, weekends, holidays, summers, nights, because they HAVE to. Are teachers required to work a second job? Is is part of their contract? Is summer school a requirement, or can you just take the summer off if you want to. So, you do have to annualize their salary. I have been at my employers for 24 years, and I receive up to 6 weeks paid time off/year (this includes the 7 holidays). Out of 260 days of working (M-F, 52 weeks/year), I must work 230 of them. Teachers contract is for 180 days, plus inservices. I also work a second job. Guess what I do? I TEACH! I teach NP students half-time online. And, as an associate faculty, without bennies, I get paid squat. But, I love it, I do well at it, and someday, maybe I can work full-time and get tenured. We'll see.
Unions were formed many years ago to protect workers. Do the reasons that unions were formed still exist now? Or does current laws, human resources,equal opportunity acts, etc. protect the workers. I have never been part of a union, and I don't see the need for them in today's world. Why would I ever go on strike? I need my job, but my patient's also have an expectation that someone will be there to care for them also. Illness is a 24/7 calling. I count on my hospital board, not the state union, for my salary increases. And these salary increases are based on...BUDGET! Surprise, surprise. Not based on me and another group of healthcare workers threatening to strike or whatever means it takes, to get the salary I want.
I have to say, that I feel the Tomah school teachers must have a different level of pride in their jobs, or some reason I don't understand, as our schools were open last Thursday (unlike LaCrosse, Holmen, West Salem, etc). That tells me the teachers care, and wanted to be there for the students. And my children have spoken fondly of the school 90% of the time they have attended.
Employers across the state of Wisconsin are faced with these budget decisions every day. Our administration has to decide where it's dollars are spent, what is the most effective healthcare plan, retirement, etc., in order for our employees to continue to work and stay afloat. Can expenses get passed on to patients? Nice try - depending on your insurance, and the contracts with the insurance, you may only get paid 65 cents on each dollar you bill. And, some insurances reimburse us for less than what it costs to do business. It may cost us $1000 to do something - some insurances will pay $1000, some $800, some $650. Now remember, I am talking COST, not charge. Administrators are struggling everyday to find the way to cut costs and make healthcare not only affordable, but sustainable. Our rural 25 bed hospital writes off charity care of almost $750,000 each year.
The private sector is expected to balance their budgets every single day. In 1983, the employees at TMH were all asked to take a 10% paycut, in order for the hospital to stay afloat. About 20% of the employees left, to find jobs elsewhere, and the rest stayed, because they believed in the place. 27 years later, our financial situation is much better, but because in the private sector, YOU HAVE TO BALANCE YOUR BUDGET. You can't rob Peter to pay Paul. If changes are not made for our state, how will any state employee actually collect their pension when they retire? The city of San Diego cannot meet their retirement pensions of the employees. How would you like to be those employees? No $$$ left! Worse than Enron, or the same?
The bottom line? If the state's budget isn't balanced, there won't be money for anyone - not for teachers, not for patients who are on Badger Care, not for prison employees, state police, etc. Social Security and Medicare may be nonexistent in 5 - 10 years, because of poor management of money. Who do we count on? Ourselves! Can we plan on the government to care for us? Are we entitled to do things?
This wil be painful - for state employees right now. What is happening to healthcare? That has been on my mind for years - will my job be at stake? Will reimbursement costs change so much that I will have to reduce my salary?
All I can say is this whole economy is very tight. The future is uncertain. We have to do our best, plan as well as we can, and I think, kudos to our governor for trying to balance this budget.
Posted by Palmoni at 10:20 PM