I can't believe these bankers' mothers didn't teach them better than this. $18 billion in bonuses while their companies were taking federal aid to keep from failing.

If I did a sloppy job on the dishes, I didn't get my allowance.

But they get homongous bonuses with our money, all for failing.

President Obama had to have his people call Citi to tell them buying a luxury $50 million jet wasn't the best thing to do with public money.

Of course, the previous administration let them have the money with no strings attached.

In New York, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating $4 billion in bonuses paid by Merrill Lynch & Co. just before it was acquired by Bank of America.

“No longer will this country stand for wasteful spending of tax dollars on bonuses for executives whose companies have taken huge losses and required taxpayer bailouts,” Cuomo said in a statement about bonuses paid at Wall Street firms that received funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP.

At least somebody's trying to stop the stupidity.

I think of those billions and wonder how many lives they could have saved. Instead, they line the pockets of people who have no clue about what it means to be human.

If they were my kids, they'd at least know enough to be ashamed of themselves.

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill today to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

  The House bill (H.R. 2) is similar to the one passed with wide bipartisan support in Congress in 2007 and vetoed twice by President Bush.

The bill will reauthorize the program for 4 1/2 years and will cover about 4.1 million children who otherwise would be uninsured. The Senate is scheduled to mark up a bill tomorrow.

Everyone seems pretty certain our new president will sign the bill. It seems he believes there's a problem with the system. 

Now if we can just do something for the millions of people aged 18-64.

I wrote a story last week about how COBRA, the 1986 law that allows people who lose their jobs to keep their insurance, is inadequate. (http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009901100308).

Well, the Heritage Foundation noticed and sent me an e-mail this morning offering me a source on the other side. This is their source and her quote in the Washington Post:

But Nina Owcharenko, a health policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said it would be wiser to offer unemployed Americans a broad range of health insurance options, including high-deductible private policies or new state-based programs.

Given how expensive COBRA is, she said, alternatives would "save the individual money and save taxpayer money."

I won't be calling Nina.

As a reporter, I have to be fair. But sometimes, there's right and there's wrong, and I don't feel obligated to give voice to what's wrong.  We no longer quote people who say tobacco is good for you, that psychiatric illness is actually caused by demons or that the Earth is flat.

To say that the private sector can solve the health care crisis without help from the federal government is wrong. A high-deductible insurance policy wouldn't have saved Mike's life -- in fact, because of his high risk of cancer, he couldn't get private health insurance.

The state? Medicaid made him separate from his wife to get care and that was only after he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer and it had recurred.

My benchmark is this: Would it have saved Mike's life?

Nothing done yet would have. He needed a $2,300 colonoscopy and was denied it repeatedly. He was between 18 and 64, so there was nothing for him.

So, give me this: Allow everyone access to lifesaving diagnostic tests and basic health care.

But tell me that the private sector can take care of it with no help -- or regulation -- from government and I'll tell you to go jump off the edge of the Earth. And take your tobacco with you.

Families USA published a new study today about the affordability of COBRA, the federal program that lets employees keep their company insurance after leaving a job (you can read the study at http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/publications/reports/cobra.html).

An unemployed person who had health insurance as a benefit can buy that coverage for 18 months after leaving the company. You have to pay the full premium plus a 2 percent administrative fee.

The average cost to keep your family insured? More than 80 percent of your monthly unemployment benefit. In nine states, the cost is 100-142 percent of the unemployment benefit.

So, IF you had health insurance where you worked and you got laid off, your unemployment check would be pretty much eaten up by your COBRA premium.

At the end of the 18 months, you have the right to purchase coverage from the insurance company at whatever the hell that company wants to charge you.

That's what my friend, Carolyn Comeau, faces.

In February 2007, Carolyn was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. A few months later, her husband was laid off his job. They have run through all their savings, all their retirement money, all their kids' college funds, just to keep their coverage. They don't know what they'll do when their COBRA expires in April. They have no idea what the insurance company will demand of them to keep their coverage so Carolyn is assured access to quality health care should her cancer come back.

As it is, the insurance company is fond of playing games, pretending they didn't receive payment. She has to pay extra to send her check return-recepit-requested so the insurance company can't deny receiving it.

And today, unemployment figures came out: 7.2 percent -- and when you figure in the number of people who aren't counted because they've exhausted their benefits or have been forced to take part-time work, the rate is over 13 percent.

For each 1 percent rise in unemployment, there's a 1.1 percent rise in the number of uninsured.

Meanwhile, the insurance companies are making obscene profits.

It's criminal, but they get away with it.

I attended a legislative-nonprofit forum this morning and one of the topics was health care. Naturally, the talk turned to children's health care and how we need to increase coverage to families who make up to three times the national poverty level.

I am not against this. In fact, I think it's a great idea.

Talk also turned to elder care. Another great idea.

But for people 18 to 64, there is very little. Mike was turned down for Medicaid twice while he had cancer and no income because Janet had college loan money in the bank and a car worth more than a few hundred dollars. They had to separate.

So, what about the grownups? Children are better off with health insurance, but they are hurt when their parents are sick and can't get care.

SCHIP (the State Children's Health Insurance Program) and Medicare are wonderful programs. Bul children's parents and elders' children are dying because they're between the ages of 18 and 64. That is really screwed up.