The Evolution of “Life”

I have the privilege of spending a significant amount of time with two very brilliant children. They teach me a lot. More recently, I learned how perceptive children are to minor details and subliminal messages that often times go unrecognized by adults.

A trip to Barnes & Noble yesterday was a real eye opener. My 6 year-old friend noticed the game display in the window as we pulled into our parking space. “The Game of Life!!” she shouted, “But that box is different…” Indeed it was. It was the original box, the version from the 1960’s. Mind you, these children have the game at home, the 1970/1980 version. What she said next was nothing new to me, but disturbing nonetheless. “It’s good we have the version we do because the new one is full of lies”. Hmm. I thought back to my recent trip to visit my brother and his family and we played the newest version of the game. It was, in fact, much different from the original and even the 1990’s version I grew up playing. The new one was filled with applicable lawsuits, entitlement tiles and “Share the Wealth” spaces. It really got me thinking, so I did some investigating.

“The Game of Life” has changed entirely since it’s original release.
The 1960’s version was basic, a bit bland but straightforward. You could take a “business” route or a “college” route into the real world. Not much changed in the 1970’s version, but the money values nearly doubled to reflect inflation and the original car model of a convertible was traded in for a minivan. The 1990’s version is where we start to see some solid changes: Rewards for people recycling trash and helping the homeless, stock cards are limited and the there is no longer a “business” route, but a “career” route. College loan debt increases in 2005, and investments become more risky. Finally, the newest version. The ‘Share the Wealth’ cards, the ability to withdraw insurance policy options and the fact that no occupation has “special abilities” anymore, with the exception of the police officer, are among a few of the new aspects of the game.

So, where shall I start?? Inflation, okay, I get it. But when in real life are you rewarded for recycling or helping the homeless?? The game suggests a monetary reward, but all I’ve ever received from recycling is an extra bin to drag to the curb and a pat on the back. Further, “Life” is a game based on American values and the American Dream, which are in turn formed from democracy and capitalism. At what point did the makers of this game think socialistic tendencies and special abilities of a certain profession, A.K.A. a union, fit this criteria? And why would we instill the idea of investments being “bad” into the minds of our children who will one day have to put their own money somewhere?

A seemingly innocent game, one that’s been around forever, but has been secretly evolving. So much so that my brother has cut construction paper out to cover the “Share the Wealth” tiles on the board. So much so that children born in the 2000’s are playing a game from the 60’s, because even though the lifestyle may be dated, the values are correct.

So it seems that the overly analytical, thought-provoking 6 year old is right, once again. “The Game of Life” is full of lies…and not just when applicable to the board game.

Georgia SB-63…Preventing Fraud…and a bunch of other hidden stuff too

On March 14th, the Georgia Senate passed SB-63 which “requires that Medicaid cards integrate a computer chip that includes a digital photograph of the card holder”. Sources claim that Medicaid fraud costs U.S. tax payers $60 billion a year, and $26 million just in Georgia.

According to Senator Albers, a Republican from Roswell, the legislation will “preserve the Medicaid program for those who truly need it”. It is apparent that an overhaul of the current system is necessary to save Medicaid (if that is what we, as a state, intend to do), but this bill is nothing short of inappropriate. Unfortunately, it was introduced, sponsored and pushed through the entire process by Republicans.

The original bill stated that “patients will also provide a fingerprint scan when they enter the office and before they leave”. Supporters of the bill claim this will prevent providers from charging Medicaid for services that were not rendered since the patient will verify everything before he/she leaves. At some point in the process, the Senate Health & Human Services Committee dropped the fingerprint ID stipulation and it was not included in the final bill.

Thankfully, this is only going to be used as a pilot program to ensure that it is beneficial and cost effective…but even in a trial period, one must ask:
1) How is this any different from a national ID card that so many conservative representatives vehemently oppose?? While it will only apply to Medicaid participants, I can’t help but be incensed by the idea of a photo and computer chip installed on a card that people will be carrying in their wallets. Who’s to say that this won’t be used by the government in a more overbearing manner later on down the road??
2) Many opponents to this legislation claim that there will be a significant administrative burden on the offices when this is implemented. The doctor’s will be required to have the appropriate technology to facilitate the new measures this legislation requires. According to Senator William Ligon, the program will initially cost about $26 million to implement (Note: this is the same amount of money the state loses each year on the Medicaid fraud). By increasing the cost of doing business for these medical offices, we risk further increasing the costs to the patients, which in turn affects the Medicaid program.
3) How much will these “smart cards” cost the Medicaid program and it’s participants?????????????? Who will eat the cost? The program? The participants? The tax payers?

The Republicans in the Georgia Senate very much so missed boat on this legislation. It is imperative that we establish programs that are cost-effective and efficient. I’m not so sure Senate Bill 63 is going to facilitate in this movement……

————**UPDATE**————
————(3/23/2011)————-
I spoke with Senator Albers last week in regards to both this blog and his legislation (SB-63).

Senator Albers wanted to clarify that the cost of implementing the legislation would only be $3 million, contrary to the $26 million his colleague earlier stipulated. He claims the reduction in cost is due to the elimination of the fingerprinting portion of the program.

Senator Albers continued to point out that I did not have a “better solution” for the Medicaid program despite my assertion that this blog is analytical and an editorial and that I am not an elected official.

Senator Albers also emphasized that Medicaid is a voluntary program that participants do not pay in to, unlike Medicare. He used this to justify the implementation of computerized chips in the cards and compared them to credit cards.

After our conversation, Senator Albers and I agreed to disagree on this issue. I stand firm on my implications that this program is vulnerable for misuse down the road and does not seem to be cost effective. Senator Albers maintains that this is the best plan for Georgia and that it is not a fascist move. He mentioned the use of a similar proposal in the future for the food stamps program. For more information, or to contact Senator Albers, visit www.senatoralbers.com

————-*UPDATE*————
————-(3/28/2011)———–

This article was sent to me after the posting of this blog and it’s update by two different readers.

http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/medicaid-smart-card-idea-885664.html