Old Black Cats

For a bunch of 10-year old boys, one of the best days of ever was when Vince found a bag of old firecrackers under his bed that he had left over from the previous 4th of July.  Saving those might have been the only smart thing Vince ever did, but that day he was a genius.

Now we had to gather up the necessary supplies and sneak off into the woods, out of earshot from those nasty safety czars known as ‘mothers.’

There were several little green army men who gave their lives in combat that day, though I can assure you they received a proper military burial.  An old Coke can took a repeated beating, but most significantly, someone’s little sister lost a Barbie doll.  And by ‘lost’ I mean the anatomically disproportional young lady was blown to smithereens in mid-air by an entire pack Black Cats exploding all at once.

Yes, the fact that most American boys will now never know the joy of totally destroying some plastic trinkets with firecrackers may leave fingers and eyes safer, but it also signals the loss of some grit we need as a nation.  But I digress and am about to get in trouble with the aforementioned safety patrol. 

The point of today’s rambling, and yes, there is a point, is to come back to the question of what happens when stuff gets blown up?  We’re about to find out, except the stakes are a little higher.

In the recent quarterly earnings calls for publicly traded companies, Anthem was pretty clear that unless something changes quickly, they are ‘leaning toward exiting a high percentage of the 144 ratings regions in which it currently participates.’ 

Like United and Aetna and Humana before them they, too, are about to pull out of the ObamaCare exchange markets.

In the wake of the Republican’s inability to advance an alternative plan last month, the President said this thing was going to implode. Well, someone just lit a cherry bomb.

An independent analysis suggests about a quarter of a million people across four states (Colorado, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio) currently get their coverage from Anthem, the only carrier providing coverage in their region.  There will be a growing number of regions across the country with no choice at all.

As a former 10-year old boy, I can still attest that besides the noise, the joy of blowing stuff up with firecrackers was the unpredictability of it all.  What the heck was going to happen when it goes ‘boom?’

Since my mother is no longer alive, I can now confess that we ‘may or may not’ that day played literal ‘hot potato,’ tossing lit firecrackers back and forth between us.  I say ‘may or may not’ because it is Mom, after all, so I am still going to hedge a bit.

Well, Republicans and Democrats are now trying to throw this lit fuse back at the other side, hopping around as frantically as we ‘may or may not’ have that day. While that was fun for boys in the woods, it is not the best way to do healthcare policy, now is it?  We need some leadership to get us to a better answer.


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Tim Coan, ALN’s CEO, writes an insightful and witty blog three times a week about a variety of topics relevant to independent physician practices.

Yes, I'd like to get Tim's blog.