October 2, 2012
First off, some party news (not a political party – I’m talking about a fun party):
My annual Concert Under the Stars is just nine days away. The great Emmylou Harris will perform out at Zilker Park starting at 8 p.m. on Oct. 11.
I’m sure – just absolutely positive in a not-at-all-jinxing-it kind of way – that the weather will be beautiful.
This is always a special night, and this year should be among the best ever. So get your tickets here. Can’t wait to see you next week.
We’re getting close the election. Very close. Close enough that I’m starting to worry that some folks might miss it.
The deadline for registering to vote is this coming Monday. Since the Watson Wire goes out on Tuesdays, this is my last chance to harangue you about this.
If you haven’t registered to vote already, you need to – right now. If you know anyone who hasn’t registered to vote, you need to help them get their priorities in order. If you’ve heard of anyone who hasn’t registered to vote … well, do what you can. But you can’t play if you don’t sign up, and you need to be on the field right now.
Early voting starts Oct. 22, and there’s a ton of important stuff on the ballot. Nationally, you have to choose who’s going to lead our country through the challenges we expect – and ones that’ll surprise us – over the next four years (I hear they’ll be on TV tomorrow night talking about some of those things).
And locally, there are several initiatives that will help determine what kind of place Austin is, both in the short term and for a generation.
Prop 1 will also create a funding pool of about $50 million – which will turn into about $120 million after drawing down federal matching funds. All told, this money would pay for things like trauma services, cancer care and other forms of specialty medicine, community-wide clinics, better primary health care, behavioral and mental health care, and prevention and wellness programs.
There’s a common theme to all of these investments – they’d increase options for care across the community, help people stay healthy, and cut down on costly emergency room visits that the public ultimately pays for.
Such ER costs show up in your tax bills, as government agencies pick up the tab for treatments that uninsured and underinsured patients can’t cover. They also take a toll on our insurance bills – the Center for American Progress estimated that in 2009 in Texas, $630 out of the average individual insurance premium annually, and $1,800 of the average annual family premium, amounted to hidden taxes on those with insurance, covering the costs of uncompensated care.
That’s why a knee-jerk reliance on the emergency room is so dangerously expensive for taxpayers. We simply can’t afford to throw up our hands, accept this broken system or look for false comfort in the fact that anyone can walk into an emergency room and seek treatment – no matter what it costs or who pays.
Plus, the emergency room should be for emergencies. If you need trauma care (and I hope you never do), you’re going to want the emergency room open for those needing trauma care, not filled with people seeking primary care.
It’s a much better deal – for taxpayers, the economy, people who have insurance and people who don’t – to reform the system, control costs, improve care across the community, and help families and individuals stay healthy and out of the emergency room.
That’s what we’ll do when we pass Proposition 1.
But first, you’d better make sure you’re registered. This is a great deal; don’t miss your chance to vote for it.
Oh, and get your tickets to Emmylou. That event alone will cure what ails ya.