Showing posts with label Gov. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gov. Show all posts

Cutting US Defense Spending and Saving Money on Government Budget

Latest update: June 18, 2020
For Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Politicians, and anyone else who is interested.


There is a lot of discussion, debate, and disagreement about our U.S. military troops being stationed in allied countries around the world. Both sides have premises and conclusions that have merit. Here is a possible solution to the whole, controversial, military, political, expensive mess.

Table of Contents
1. The Way It Is.
2. The Way It Could Be.
3. The Net Result of Implementation.

Let us begin...

The US Defense Budget and a Broke America – The Way It Is

Our current methodology is as follows:

We go hat-in-hand, to the allied country where we think our military troops need to stationed. Most of the time the potential host country knows darn well it would be a good idea to have those troops there. However, under current practice, the potential host country knows that the smart thing to do is to initially say no.

The following results then ensue: In short, it turns into a major bargaining extravaganza.

The potential host country does everything in its power to extract as much money, one-sided trade agreements, and other perks as possible.

Never mind that our presence there is of more benefit to the host country than it is to us.

Never mind that we will be spending billions of dollars there that go into the local economy.

Never mind that the troops in the new or existing base will be spending millions more doing the same.

Never mind that the major purpose of the troops being there in the first place is to help protect the host country.

As far as the potential host country is concerned, they want those extra billions of dollars in land-lease fees. They want those one-sided trade agreements. They want it all.

And we meekly comply. Why is that?

The US Defense Budget and a Broke America – The Way It Could Be

This is the methodology we could use:

We contact the potential host allied country where we think it would be a good idea for troops to be present. We then present in great detail why we think this is so. We show them the threats that we have discovered and that they need to be concerned about. We freely share with the potential host country all evidence and documentation substantiating our conclusions. We remind them of the billions of dollars that will be injected into the host country's local economy by our government and troops if we locate there. We remind them of the inevitable, mutually prosperous trade agreements that will evolve from our countries working together for the common good.

We then inquire as to how much the potential host country is willing to contribute to make this all possible. For starters, all land-lease agreements will be for the sum of $1 a year. This serves the dual purpose of saving the U.S. Taxpayer billions of dollars a year and also conclusively shows the world that the U.S. is there as an invited guest and for the purpose of helping the host country. Any contributions that the host country makes beyond that would of course be greatly dependent on the host country's situation. The potential host country's refusal of the $1-a-year lease agreement, however, would be a deal-breaker.

Once we have presented our information to the potential host country, we then leave and await their decision.

The Net Result of Implementation

The methodology in Part Two could be implemented worldwide as current base lease agreements expire. If the host country declines the new lease agreement, then it probably isn't that necessary for us to be there in the first place. Either way, billions of dollars will be saved. And it will pretty much put an end to the political aspect of it all.

Just a thought.

-----

A June 2020 update. Love him or hate him, President Trump does seem to be tackling this issue.


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Help with Medical Bills for Seniors, Disabled, Children, Others - Federal and State Websites

Latest update: May 6, 2020
These websites will actually help you when a medical entity victimizes you with inflated or outright fraudulent medical bills and/or denied insurance claims.

This includes social services, hospitals, general doctors, specialists, X-ray places, CT scan or PET scan centers, blood test places, and pretty much any other medical facility or entity that engages in illegal or unethical conduct. Emphasis is on illegal, unethical contracts and on illegal, unethical billing practices. Also includes resources regarding insurance company misconduct or for when a Medicare, Medicaid, or Medi-Cal case worker makes a mistake or acts in bad faith. Sooner or later, you will need the information on this page.

Medical Federal and California (and other) State Government Websites That Will Help You When an Insurance Company or Service Provider Victimizes You – Also Some Worthwhile Additional Information

Ways to Deal With Our Country's Corrupt Private Sector Medical Industry


Patients Rights and Financial Help Resource List

A list of resources regarding the rights patients are legally supposed to have. Many provide complaint forms and will actually help you. All listed websites are government or other well-known, reputable resources. All links go directly to the website's patients rights page and/or patients help page. Needless to say, all are free.
  • MedlinePlus, from the U.S. Library of National Medicine.
  • HealthCare.gov, your rights under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Medicare.gov, your Medicare rights.
  • The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. , a resource for filing complaints, grievances, appeals, etc.; in other words, a place to rat out medical service providers. The page also promises to provide information, help, assistance, and other services. The page is apparently also the starting point for when you need to deal with Medicare's own shenanigans.
  • CMS.gov, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The particular link I provided has to do with Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight. The page may not especially look it, but these guys are your friend. Sometimes, out of the blue and without any action on your part, they will send you notices a particular medical bill from a medical service provider or insurance entity is not valid and that you don't have to pay it. This website is definitely worth prowling around when you have the time.
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA), another go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • CDSS is another California site that my be able to help you, especially as applies to local office Medicaid (Medi-Cal) obstructions.
  • Google. For folks not in California looking for their state websites, simply do a search for:
    "YourStateNameHere patients rights help site:.gov" (without the quotes and be sure to include the exact "site:.gov" syntax).
If a link suddenly stops working, it means the website moved that particular page. Let me know in the comments section and I'll find and post the new location.

Some Tips for When Dealing with the Medical Bureaucracy

  • The Medicare 1-800-633-4227 number is open 24/7. They have always been friendly, professional, and helpful.
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time. Whenever possible make sure the medical treatment specifications match what the Medicare white book says. This is mostly applicable to preventive services. Not kidding here, make sure the doctor's instructions exactly match what the white book specifies. I've personally saved myself one financial disaster already by doing this.
  • Never walk into a medical service provider's diagnostic center without the proper Medicare COPD 5-digit code included on the referral paperwork. 
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time (did I mention that already?). Always call the Medicare number first and verify the accuracy of the Medicare code on the paperwork before going to the specialist's or medical service provider's office. Confirm with Medicare that the Medicare code number is valid for your circumstances and procedure(s) and that Medicare will approve and pay for the procedure.
  • When referred to a specialist, sometimes a COPD code isn't provided; the specialist adds the code after the fact. Your only defense against this is having diagnostic information showing the necessity of the visit to the specialist, e.g., CAT scan shows potential malignancies in lungs, thus being referred to a pulmonologist makes medical sense. If the specialists uses the wrong code(s) after the fact and the claim is denied, don't just give up. Work with Medicare and the specialist to get the mistake straightened out and resubmit the claim.
  • The referring doctor does not not always know if the referred specialist or medical service provider takes Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. When you walk into that referred specialist's office or medical service center for the first time and have identified yourself, always ask first:
  1. Does Medicare accept you and do you accept Medicare as full payment, secondary insurance covering remaining balance?
  2. Does Medicaid//Medi-Cal/Etc. accept you and do you accept Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. or whatever other supporting insurance applicable in your situation as full payment?
If any part of their answer is no, leave immediately. As a Medicare beneficiary, you have the right to go to any Medicare specialist or service provider center you wish. Tell your primary, referring doctor what happened and they'll take care of it.

An important note. If a medical entity financially victimizes you or is trying to victimize you happens to be a referral from your doctor, first check with Medicare via their website and/or phone calls and find out exactly what is going on. If that doesn't clarify or fix the situation, then tell your doctor's office all about it. They might be able to fix the problem with just one phone call to the offending medical entity; not so surprisingly, your doctor's office will often be quite successful at this.

A personal note. That medical contract you are always forced to sign is basically a blank check allowing the medical entity to do whatever they want. You've given them the right to do anything and everything their hearts desire and then to bill you for whatever insurance doesn't cover. For that reason, I always print directly above my signature the following in caps:

"ONLY PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERED SERVICES ONLY"

If the medical service provider then refuses you as a patient, immediately inform your primary physician that referred you. If that doesn't solve the problem, i.e., your doctor being able to find a different service provider in the area; I'd personally let Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, and any other involved insurance/government entity know all about it. I would think they would all want to know about a medical service provider that turns away patients simply because that patient only wants those services that are covered by insurance. Who knows? They might even be able to help you.

An update (Medical Hack(?)). Someone sent me this. I do not know if it is true or not. It sure would be interesting to find out:

Medical Life Hack?

I'm continuing to look for other government medical websites that help patients when it comes to money issues. If you happen to know of one, please mention it in comments. I'll be happy to include it on the list. Federal sites are preferred, but sites specific to your state are also welcome.

As a side note, selecting the MedFin (Medical Financial) label below will bring up other relevant articles.

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Social Security Website Notes - Multi-factor Authentication - SSA Scam Warnings

Latest update: April 17, 2020
Updates are in reverse chronological order, followed by the original article.


April 2020 Update

This update is a long overdue rant. I have finally and completely given up on the Social Security website. I am sick and tired of the website failing to recognize my username and password. I am sick and tired of having to keep creating new accounts over and over and over again; I have lost count of the number of times I have been forced to do this. I am generally fond of the Social Security Administration (SSA); but as far as I'm concerned, their website can rot in hell. Enough is enough. I will never again attempt to sign into that damned site. In the future and if necessary, I will call their 1-800-772-1213 number.

Ok, I feel better now. I needed to do that rant for my sanity's sake. And no doubt the website is doing the same to others. This update lets them know they are not alone.

Meanwhile here is a link to a part of their website that does not require one to sign in. It is a useful starting point for accessing the public sections of the site.

February 2020 Update

This is directly from a Social Security Administration email I received:
(Links disabled to prevent tampering. When reporting a scam, simply copy/paste the .gov URL into the browser address bar).

Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams

Scammers are pretending to be government employees. Scammers will try to scare and trick you into giving them your personal information and money. They may threaten you or your family and may demand immediate payment to avoid arrest or other legal action.

DON'T BE FOOLED!
IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS CALL:

1. Hang up!

2. DO NOT give them money or personal
    information!

3. Report the scam at OIG.SSA.GOV!

cell phone image

Social Security may call you in
some situations but will never

  • Threaten you
  • Suspend your Social Security Number
  • Demand immediate payment from you
  • Require payment by cash, gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer
  • Ask for gift card numbers over the phone or to wire or mail cash

What to look out for

image of SS card

The call or email says there is a problem with your Social Security Number or account.
image of a credit card

Someone asking you to pay a fine or debt with retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
image of a cell phone

Scammers pretend they’re from Social Security or another government agency. Caller ID or documents sent by email may look official but they are not.
caution symbol

Callers threaten you with arrest or other legal action.

Protect yourself, friends, and family!

  • If you receive a questionable call, hang up and report it at oig.ssa.gov
  • Don’t be embarrassed to report if you shared personal information or suffered a financial loss
  • Learn more at oig.ssa.gov/scam
  • Share this information with others

Report a Scam

January 2020 Update

Well, looks like 2-step authentication is still required. However, they do allow email verification as well as smartphone. The rest of this page has to do with how they finally realized that not everyone has a smartphone and so the inclusion of allowing email as a second method of utilizing 2-step authentication continues. The rest of this this page has pretty much turned into a historical document as to how the Social Security website finally arrived at this epiphany. All appears well.

July 2019 Update

Dropped by the site. They seem to be having some tech problems, but was still able to login. After logging in, the tech problems continued. In fact, they were basically a mess. Presumably all of this is temporary and will be straightened out. Meanwhile, I did notice they posted this:
  • "Are you now, or have you ever been a victim of domestic violence? Identity theft? Do you have other concerns? You can block electronic access to your information at any time, for any reason."
I figure there are people who would like to know that, so I included it here.

January 2019 Update

Yep, still requiring the two-step verification process, i.e., email or cell phone. Btw, the site is a handy way to check if the IRS got your tax return. You can do so by checking if your earnings record has been updated. Lost tax returns might be more common than usual this year. 

February 2018 Update

Nothing really new to report. The only thing I can think to mention is that one should sign up with their website, regardless of age. Never hurts to keep an eye on things. Side note: I'm not putting a link here. Never go to an important site via a link from another site; too many security issues involved. Only go to such sites via directly from your browser address bar or from a well-known, reputable search engine; and while you're at it, hover the link to see where it really goes before clicking it.

May 2017 Update

This time they are making an email option available along with the previously aborted text messaging option. This should indeed keep the poor people (of which I am one) from being shut out of their accounts. It is nice to see that Social Security is finally catching up with reality.

From the email Social Security sent out:

Each time you sign in to your account, you will complete two steps:
  • Step 1: Enter your username and password.
  • Step 2: Enter the security code we send you by text message or email, depending on your choice (your cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply).

For Those Who Are Interested, Here's What Happened Before...


2016 UPDATE The text-messaging requirement has been rescinded. Here is Social Security's latest email:

*Start*

On July 30, 2016, we began requiring you to sign into your my Social Security account using a one-time code sent via text message. We implemented this new layer of security, known as “multifactor authentication,” in compliance with a Presidential executive order to improve the security of consumer financial transactions.  SSA implemented the improvements aggressively because we have a fundamental responsibility to protect the public’s personal information.

However, multifactor authentication inconvenienced or restricted access to some of our account holders. We’re listening to your concerns and are responding by temporarily rolling back this mandate.

As before July 30, you can now access your secure account using only your username and password. We highly recommend the extra security text message option, but it is not required. We’re developing an alternative authentication option, besides text messaging, that we’ll begin implementing within the next six months.

We strive to balance security and customer service options, and we want to ensure that our online services are both easy to use and secure. The my Social Security service has always featured a robust verification and authentication process, and it remains safe and secure.

We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced.

There is no requirement that you access your personal my Social Security account as a result of the steps we are taking.  However, when you do access your account, we encourage you to sign up for the extra security text message option.  You can access your account by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

*End*

Here is the original post that started it all:


Poor People Can No Longer Access Their Social Security Or Other Online Federal Government Accounts


I am one of the people who cannot afford the monthly, exorbitant cell phone fees. I just received this email from Social Security. Leastwise I can afford internet access (try landline DSL if possible, can save decent money); but for me and millions of others, I guess internet access to our federal government accounts is no more.

*Start*

Starting in August 2016, Social Security is adding a new step to protect your privacy as a my Social Security user.  This new requirement is the result of an executive order for federal agencies to provide more secure authentication for their online services. Any agency that provides online access to a customer’s personal information must use multifactor authentication.

When you sign in at ssa.gov/myaccount with your username and password, we will ask you to add your text-enabled cell phone number.  The purpose of providing your cell phone number is that, each time you log in to your account with your username and password, we will send you a one-time security code you must also enter to log in successfully to your account.

Each time you sign into your account, you will complete two steps:
  • Step 1:  Enter your username and password.
  • Step 2:  Enter the security code we text to your cell phone (cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply).
The process of using a one-time security code in addition to a username and password is one form of “multifactor authentication,” which means we are using more than one method to make sure you are the actual owner of your account.

If you do not have a text-enabled cell phone or you do not wish to provide your cell phone number, you will not be able to access your my Social Security account.

If you are unable or choose not to use my Social Security, there are other ways you can contact us.  To learn more, please review the Frequently Asked Questions found here.

*End*

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How Meritocracy Relates to Sociology, Capitalism, Darwinism

Latest update: June 13, 2020

Meritocracy - Society - Politics

The Sociological Definition and Results of a 100% Meritocracy, i.e., Societal Darwinism

Why a 100% meritocratic society can never work as a standalone system, the pros and cons. For Democrats, Republicans. Liberals. Conservatives, and anyone else who is interested. A blended meritocracy is needed.

Darwinism - Another Word for Meritocracy


A Meritocratic Society

Meritocracy is a good thing. In addition to rewarding those who can compete, it generates lots of extra money that can be used to help those who cannot. Unfortunately, meritocracy can never work as a standalone system. This is due to the fundamental nature of meritocracy and, of all things, the basic laws of mathematics.

What is a meritocracy? For the purposes of this article, meritocracy is defined as one's survival and success being solely contingent upon one's ability to compete and contribute to society in such a way as to prosper.

Meritocracy and capitalism have a lot in common. In a "perfect" system, the concept of money could be defined as the method used to quantify one's success.

The Scenario – What would happen if a society were to convert to a 100% meritocracy? The sociological implications...

In a meritocracy there will always be winners and losers. In many cases the loser worked just as hard as the winner, but the winner was just a little bit better at it. The winner thus gets more and the loser gets less. So far, no problem. And the loser can always try again.

However, resources are finite. For the bottom 10%, there will always not be enough. There will not be enough shelter. There will not be enough food. There will not be enough health care. There will not be enough of a lot of things. It is inevitable, due to the lack of even the basic necessities of life, the "losers" will sooner or later lose the ability to compete. Now what with this being a 100% meritocratic scenario, what happens to them?

It is already abundantly demonstrated in our present society one of two alternatives will occur...

Alternative One – The Person Dies

In our present society, homeless people unnecessarily die all the time. Everyone knows living on the streets will eventually destroy most people through attrition: a continual decline of health, the eventual and inevitable being a victim of successive crimes, and finally the loss of ability to defend or survive, and then death.

However, we are not talking about our current society. We are discussing a 100% meritocratic society. Therefore: there are no free job-training programs; there are no homeless shelters; there are no food banks or food programs; there is no affordable health care; there is no type of charity or handout whatsoever.

Needless to say, this greatly accelerates the attrition, leading to death or the second alternative.

Alternative Two – A New Criminal Is Born

Steal, rob, kill; or die. That pretty much sums it up.

Of course the number of criminals will continually be reduced for the usual reasons: competition among same; attrition through street-living; "eradication" by society via imprisonment, etc.

As the number of criminals are reduced, others will take their place.

The Brutal Mathematics

What happens when the bottom 10% gradually dies; whether it be through Alternative One or Alternative Two? The answer is simple; they will gradually be replaced by a new 10%. It is a brutal mathematical fact; there will always be a bottom 10%.

Recursion comes into play. As the bottom 10% shrink through death, new lowest 10%'ers will take their place. Along with an expanding criminal element and a shrinking population; riots and other civil unrest could very well become commonplace. 100% meritocracy is equivalent to 100% Darwinism. Both are good, but not at the 100% implementation level.

Conclusion

A 100% meritocracy is not only brutal and full of misery, it is destined to fail.

An 80% to 90% meritocracy, however, could be a good thing. We pretty much have that now. We just need to get better at it.

It should also be noted a meritocracy below 80% will more than likely lead to a country's bankruptcy. This apparently is already happening in some European countries.

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Medical Website List of Resources

Latest update: June 13, 2020

The CDC is a good first resource for whatever pandemic happens to be going on. The rest of this page, though certainly pandemic applicable, is more about our American, day-to-day medical situations.

And do note the final resource listed under the $100 bills. You will be glad you did. Federal and state agencies can often be a patient's best friend.

Medical Website Resources

Resource Description
Fighting Patient Financial Abuse Patients Forced to Sign SWAG Medical Contracts Under Duress. Includes additional resources to fight back.
...nih.gov/... Patient rights, and much more.
consumer.gov/... Patient rights, and much more.
calpatientguide California patient rights, and much more.
CMS.HHS.gov Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services. Includes nursing home ratings.
Medicare Medicare Information.
Physicians Physician Comparison and Ratings by Medicare.
Hospitals Hospital Comparison and Ratings by Medicare.
amdcanada Macular Degeneration. Amsler Grid.

Resource Description
MayoClinic Seems to have it all.
Merck The Merck Manual. The medical standard.
WebMD This and that, more...
pparx Prescription cost assistance directory.
HealthWorld Health answers, medline, more.
HealthLibray Stanford Health Library.
HealthAnswer Health/Medical answers.
InteliHealth Health/Medical answers.
MedExpert Has every medical link on the planet, more....
healthgrades Research hospitals/physicians/more. Free & fee.
QualityCheck Hospital ratings, more.
nhcaa National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association.
FDA Food and Drug Administration.
NLM Federal National Library of Medicine.
alz.org Alzheimer's info.

Resource Information About Specific Doctors
A.M.A. The American Medical Association. Basic background info and a whole bunch of other stuff.
A.B.M. Specialties Board certification status.
Admin. in Med. Misconduct, malpractice, criminal data.
A.D.A. American Dental Association.
doctoroogle The Good Dentist Guide - By Patients for Patients.

This Has to Stop

Last, but not least, here is a page dedicated exclusively to dealing with patient financial victimization: Medical Federal and California State Government Websites That Will Actually Help Patients When a Medical Service Provider Victimizes You – Plus Some Important Tips


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List of Senior Citizens Resources and Access to Additional Best and Current Information

Latest update: July 27, 2020
Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

This reference list was created a long time ago when this website was first started. It was bare bones back then, but since has expanded considerably. Basically, this page has expanded to include several subsidiary pages. The Consumer Resources and Medical Resources pages are definitely worth a visit. The Gov and Seniors Labels are likewise a bonanza of information. All the resources combined will serve one well for many years.


Resource Basic Info Only. See Updated Subsidiary Pages and Labels.
SSA.gov Social Security Administration.
Medicare.gov Medicare Information. All things medicare.
GovBenefits.gov Official government benefits website.
USA.gov/... Find government resources for money, housing,
health, consumer protection, and much more.
HUD.gov/...Housing options and assistance.
What your health insurance might cover.
Financial assistance resources and guides.
Access to HUD-approved housing counselor.
MissingMoney.com State and provincial governments working together
to safeguard and return your lost funds.
Unclaimed.org National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
AARP.org All things senior citizen. Private organization.

Resource Description
retirementjobs Employment for older workers.
seniorjobbank Employment for older workers.
seniors4hire Employment for older workers.
Empty Nothing at present.
dinosaur-exchange Employment for older workers. Intl.
More More employment resources. Plus State and Federal.

Consumer Resources Page - Has 90+ consumer information resources, including product comparison sites and well-established coupon sites.


Medical Resources Page - Has 25+ medical information resources, including medical information, hospital and doctor information and ratings, and federal information websites.


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Side Note. Selecting the relevant Label Menu options below provides a much-expanded list of resources. You can then select one of the listed page titles to more closely match your search objective.

USA Federal Government Websites List - Most Popular or Frequently Used

Latest update: April 20, 2020
A useful federal bookmarks list. For 90% of visitors, you will find your federal link here. Also makes for interesting browsing. If one wants any additional federal websites listed, simply post its URL in the comments section. More than likely, I'll include it in the next update.

Get Stimulus Payment

Resource Description
NIST Time Time
USPS US Post Office
IRS Internal Revenue Service
IRS Advocate IRS help
FTC Federal Trade Commission
FDA Food and Drug Administration
SSA Social Security Administration
CMS.HHS.gov Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services. Includes nursing home ratings
Medicare Medicare information
GovBenefits Official benefits site
Census Census Bureau
BLS Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
USmint US Mint
GSA General Services Administration
FPDS Federal Procurement Data System
FedBizOpps Federal government procurement opportunities
FBOdaily FedBizOpps (FBO)
HUD Housing and Urban Development
State Dept. State Department
State Dept. State Department. How to get passport.
CIA CIA. Includes world fact book.
FBI FBI
GAO General Accounting Office
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
CIC Consumer Information Catalog
Grants Central source for organization grants
CDC Center for Disease Control
Congressional Information Legislative Information Service
NASA NASA Hubble telescope
NASA Gallery NASA Hubble telescope images
USGS USGS earthquake site
FuelEconomy.gov EPA mileage data and info
SEC Securities and Exchange Commission

Nat'l Libraries Description
LOC Library of Congress
NLM National Library of Medicine
NLE National Library of Education
NAL National Agricultural Library

Directories Description
USA U.S. government's official web portal.
Fed World Links, more....

American flag in cupola of International Space Station with Earth visible. - NASA

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