What you bought.

Well, this is hilarious: One of the stranger stories of the year here in Detroit appears to be rising to an even stranger climax. It’s the Packard plant, the second-most famous ruin in Detroit and certainly the most problematic. Vacant for more than half a century — it was abandoned the year before I was born, friends — it has become more of a mess and more dangerous every day since. When we moved here, it was still possible for brave souls to wander through it and take pictures, and dozens did.

Recently, it’s become even more of a free-for-all. A couple weeks ago, a website reported on a scrapping crew, using heavy equipment of all things, digging deeper into the plant than ever before, ripping metal from the reinforced concrete walls, piece by piece.

Inside the concrete labyrinth, we spied scrappers – long suspected to be the source of many Packard fires – stacking combustible objects like wooden pallets and sofas along beams supporting the metal-studded ceilings, waiting to be torched.

The plant is collapsing all around, and even drive-by photographers are being carjacked. It’s a nasty place. So. The 100-acre property came up for tax sale last week. Just a couple weeks ago, you could have picked it up for unpaid taxes, about $1 million. But anyone with eyes in their head and a room-temperature IQ could see it would take millions upon millions more just to tear down the buildings and clean up the site, much less redevelop it, in the midst of a miserable neighborhood on the blighted east side of Detroit.

So the auction started last Friday, and in the final hour, got weird:

An online auction for Detroit’s iconic Packard plant ended Friday with a ferocious bidding war and mystery winner from Texas who Wayne County officials say offered more than $6 million for the crumbling lot.

The county treasurer’s office identified the winner as Jill Van Horn of Ennis, Texas, a family practice doctor whose bid of $6,038,000 closed the property’s tax foreclosure auction at about 5:20 p.m. After opening at a mere $21,000 on Oct. 8, the high bid jumped from $601,000 to $5.5 million in the final hour, eventually creeping up to just above $6 million.

It’s as though someone paid $6 million for a case of cancer. Malignant cancer.

The first payment was due today, but given the sum involved, the treasurer said the doctor could have some extra time. First the doctor’s team announced they planned to take this ruin and turn it into a a factory to make manufactured homes. And then, as things tend to do around here, things got even weirder:

Wayne County officials expect to see money Wednesday from a Texas doctor who won a tax-foreclosure auction for the Packard Plant, but acknowledge they’re concerned about a statement released by her staff that likened Detroit’s potential to hydroelectric power.

“It is the process that allows us to transform the lake from a canoeing and fishing kind of place into an energy producing kind of place,” reads a three-page statement from Dr. Jill Van Horn’s staff that was released to the media on Tuesday. “Detroit’s assets, like energy, also have dormant value.”

“Dr. Van Horn’s prophecy was to resurrect Detroit by providing eduction, jobs and vocational training to the city’s residence, simultaneously unplugging the financial arteries of the city,” the statement read.

Prophecies. Anyone who could possibly be bored here simply isn’t paying attention.

You can read the whole statement at the last link. It’s worth it. And a great bonus: A drone-cam tour of the plant, with a Marvin Gaye soundtrack. Even more worth it.

At first I didn’t like it when our neighborhood in Fort Wayne got Halloween tourists on trick-or-treat night, but I got past it. Now I’m pro-candy, pro-Halloween, until it runs out and the porch light goes out. Some people need to mellow out.

Eric Zorn on the weirdness of modern car keys. Want an extra? That’ll cost you $650.

And that’s it for a Wednesday. If I can get over the hump, anything’s possible.

Posted at 12:32 am in Detroit life |

64 responses to “What you bought.”

  1. Dexter said on October 30, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Doctor Van Horn. OK. She sounds like a disciple of David Lynch and Professor Irwin Corey.
    Oh…Yesterday the new Arcade Fire hit the stores…this is DAMN great music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L35rpdiHH_8

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  2. Dexter said on October 30, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Eric Zorn’s column reminded me of my first encounter with this new way. It was 1994 and we had rented a Buick for a Spring Break trip that had us buzzing back and forth from Palm Harbor to Sarasota on the Gulf Side. We had two keys but my wife lost hers on the beach, so I took mine into a store and had a copy made. This key looked just like any key from that era…how was I to know it had been imbedded with a hot chip? My new key was worthless and when we returned the car I was charged something like $40 for the lost key. My last trip to Florida, in July, I drove a new car. A fob in my pocket and a big button to push to start. Just like the 1935 Dodge my uncle had in his garage back in the 1950s. The only fob was attached to Grandpaw’s old-timey pocket watch.

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  3. Brandon said on October 30, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Have you ever mentioned Shinola?

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  4. David C. said on October 30, 2013 at 7:08 am

    There is nothing particularly special about about smart keys that make them cost that much. All it takes is a little proprietary software and they can charge the moon. It’s like replacing the electronic touch pad on a modern appliance. When the touch pad craps out look to pay about $350 to replace it. At least that’s what it was on the lower end appliances we buy. Again, there is nothing special about them. They probably cost about $25 to make, but the appliance is useless without it, so they do it because they can.

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  5. Suzanne said on October 30, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Wow. That teacher and the trick or treat rant. Just wow.
    He needs to move out here to rural America. We have not had a trick or treater in years.

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  6. David C. said on October 30, 2013 at 7:42 am

    How does a family practice doctor get her hands on $6 million for the Packard plant? I know a couple and they live well, but they’re not millionaires by any stretch.

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  7. Deborah said on October 30, 2013 at 8:01 am

    David, supposedly she has investors in on it with her. Sounds like a scam to me.

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  8. Heather said on October 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I discovered that the valet key provided with my secondhand Honda Fit didn’t work when the insurance company called me after I’d dropped it off for some repairs. I’ve never bothered to get another one made, and based on that article, I probably won’t.

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  9. alex said on October 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

    After reading eduction, jobs and vocational training to the city’s residence, all I can say is it looks like a fool and her money are about to part ways. Dr. Jill probably also buys snake oil from Rick Perry and Ted Cruz. Detroit is quite fortunate that somewhere in the world there’s a big enough rube with a fat enough pocketbook to buy the Packard plant.

    As for smart keys, we were recently rather pissed to find that Ace Hardware couldn’t make us a replacement car key and that we’d have to go to the dealer, where it costs hundred of dollars. I’d rather find me a professional thief to teach me how to hotwire the damn thing than let those thieves at GM have even one more dime.

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  10. Jolene said on October 30, 2013 at 8:34 am

    The statement from the Packard plant buyers is among the saddest things I’ve ever read. The combination of pretentiousness, vacuousness, and low-level errors in writing should tell any reasonable person tat these buyers are not cooking with gas. Keep us posted, Nance. I’m sure it won’t be long until something ges awry with this “prophecy”.

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  11. coozledad said on October 30, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Deborah: Probably some dummy purchaser arrangement for who knows what. Maybe the Kochs have bought everything that’s worth a damn, and they’re moving on to the crap no one even wants.

    They may still be able to file a receipt for a tax scam, and there was never any intent to make a payment.

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 30, 2013 at 8:57 am

    In case some of you haven’t seen the new cover photo on the “Motivational Biden” Facebook page:


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  13. Deborah said on October 30, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Dr. Jill is a DO not an MD. I think that takes less training. Plus she recently moved from California to Texas.

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  14. brian stouder said on October 30, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Well, this may not apply to fobs – but my lovely wife found that keys with chips can be done via an internet search.

    We bought an ’01 Pontiac, which came with one key. We learned how expensive it would be to get copies from the dealer, and Pam went to work with Google….and to make a long story short, you can get several blanks with chips for just a few dollars, and then go to the hardware and have them copy them, and THEN (and here’s the tricky internet part) – you can “program” the blank.

    The procedure consists of having it in the ignition and unplugging and replugging the correct fuses in the correct sequence(!)…and then, voila! – you’re all set.

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  15. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 30, 2013 at 9:11 am

    No defense intended or even possible with the odd doctor, but as for osteopaths, I’ve seen them as fairly equivalent in the South Bend IN, Grove City PA (where our son was born), and Columbus OH areas with entire hospitals being osteopathic in orientation, but indistinguishable in practice. The whole “musculoskeletal” thing never comes up, in my experience. So I don’t know if it’s historical or what; this says they’re about 7% of the US total of doctors, and confirms they have the same privileges as MDs almost everywhere. So it’s not quite like chiropractic doctors, although they seem to have some outward similarities.


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  16. brian stouder said on October 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Speaking of quacky-sounding doctors, and Jeff’s Wikipedia link, didja see Ms Maddow anytime recently?

    She outed Wiki-Paul (or Rand-Pedia?) as an unimaginative plagiarizer of Wikipedia, and now others are pulling that thread and several more of his speeches are unraveling

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  17. Bernie said on October 30, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Sounds like Dr. Van Horn is losing touch with…well, everything. The fearless prophet, if her financial means are in doubt, is ready to “make an offer for every vacant, abandoned and dilapidated apartment building within Detroit.” She’s either a gold digger, or doing this on some sort of financial prophecy (i.e., she’s crazy).

    Deborah, as a med student, my understanding has been that osteopathic doctors (D.O.s) go through equally rigorous, 4-year medical schooling, and have the same requirements for post-graduation residency to be a full-fledged doctor. As the mild-mannered Jeff says, they have all of the privileges and knowledge of an M.D. The main difference between the two fields is that osteopathic doctors (at least, outside of emergency/surgery settings) are focused on prophylaxis–managing risk factors, identifying risk genes or familial risks, and prescribing drugs or helping patients change their lifestyle to prevent a problem from developing later. M.D. training is more focused on palliative care–identifying, treating, and managing disease once the patient presents with it.

    I think there’s a lot of political arguments for osteopathic medicine in a country where the health system is bogged down with emergencies related to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Strong, convincing osteopathic doctors would keep patients healthier, demands on doctors lower, and completely negate the idea of things like “death panels” and longer waits under a national healthcare system, because American arteries would finally soften up a little.

    In brief, D.O.s don’t always seem to get the respect of an M.D., when the only difference is the letters in the degree–and when, in fact, D.O.s are really trained to promote health, while M.D.s are trained to manage illness. As a future M.D. (unless there’s some academic catastrophe), I’m not knocking M.D.s; rather, I’m applauding D.O.s for being on the frontlines of public health and wellness.

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    • nancy said on October 30, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Y’all listen to Bernie; he’s a smart kid, and will be making an appearance here tomorrow. Stand by!

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  18. Deborah said on October 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I think my prejudice about DOs goes back to when I was a kid. The closest Dr that we could walk to (my mother didn’t drive) was a DO and my mother always complained that he wasn’t a real Dr. Then when she died of cancer I often wondered if the guy was competent. I’m sure things have changed alot, that was 50 years ago.

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  19. Kirk said on October 30, 2013 at 10:38 am

    My family doctor, an M.D., recently retired. The practice he was a part of hired a D.O. to replace him. I haven’t had occasion to see him yet. My retired doc says there’s hardly any difference these days; if there were, he’s the type who would make no bones about it.

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  20. Joe K said on October 30, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I was going to write a long rant about how FUBAR, the Obama care roll out has been, I’m sure you all have heard about it. President saying how many times “if you like your plan, doctor, ect, you get to keep it” whoops guess that wasn’t quit true for a few million so far, your cost won’t go up, whoops, close to a billion and 3.5 yrs to come up with a web sight that doesn’t work, typical response from this administration, not my fault or I don’t know? Guess what Bucky, it your JOB to know.
    The people that visit this sight for the most part seem highly educated and while just a bit left leaning, some more than others, for the most part pretty smart. I guess the compleat silence on this debacle serves my point. You all know it’s screwed up, you can’t stand the fact that this administration doesn’t know what the hell to do about it and they can’t blame thIs one on Bush, but I figure they will some how try to.
    In the mean time I wish you all well this weekend, at 10 am Saturday the misses and I will be looking for dolphins on a private cruise in gulf shores alabama, a nice walk on the beach and some fantastic seafood. Then Sunday morning over to the navel aviation museum in Pensacola to show honer to the navy pilots.
    Pilot Joe

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  21. coozledad said on October 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Awww. It’s so cute without the caps lock. You almost want to pat its empty little head.

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  22. Julie Robinsonth said on October 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I’m with Jolene on the Texas doctor, and I wonder if it’s some kind of a tax dodge. It reminds me of the supposedly great businessman who bought the defunct Southtown Mall site to redevelop after countless others had failed. Sure enough, a few years later it was back in the hands of the city and had to be razed.

    I have to confess ignorance when it comes to the MD/DO difference and even mixing them up with homeopaths, so thanks for setting me straight, Bernie. But I wonder, who do DOs refer to when they can’t effect a cure?

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  23. alex said on October 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I guess the compleat silence on this debacle serves my point.

    What point? We get our information from sources that are level-headed and factual. We have nothing to be outraged about, except maybe for the fact that about twenty percent of our fellow citizens are being made into compleat fools by Fox News.

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  24. brian stouder said on October 30, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Joe, I’ll grant you the FUBARed website (too bad Fox and the Flying Monkeys – plus the dead-enders in the Republican House stepped on their own headline with their stupid shut-down, eh?).

    There really isn’t any excuse for the fouled website. And yes – nonetheless – I truly don’t doubt things will get better.

    And I WILL agree that the president didn’t put a big enough asterisk next to his “if you like your plan, you can keep it, period.” statement.

    I like my plan. I still have my plan. But I never had any input on it anyway (company provided), and it changes all the damned time, anyway – due to decisions I don’t make.

    By way of saying – I’ll just concede this point to you: President Obama broke a promise to at least some percentage of people who actually DO personally control what health insurance they have.

    Beyond that?

    Here’s hoping you and your (no doubt beautiful!) wife have a great time (and blue skies!) on the gulf shore

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  25. Connie said on October 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I’ve been seeing a D.O. since moving here three years ago last week, and I am very happy with him. Except he is an Internist. After years of seeing a Family Practice Specialist, I find the Internist is far more likely to send me to a specialist for things the family practice doctor would have handled.

    Site, sight cite.

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  26. dull_old_man said on October 30, 2013 at 11:57 am

    My mom taught at Firestone High School; we lived a block away. There was absolute de facto segregation in Akron in those days–every kid in the school was white. Seems that the de-seg has a few bumps in it.

    There’s a cell phone ad with a family out trick or treating with their smart phones, and I hate it. They find out they should go to one house for good candy and avoid the dentist’s house because he is giving out floss (and this is why we all need 4G). Nancy’s remarks helped me figure out that I am anti-candy.

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  27. Sherri said on October 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    This lefty notes that everything would have been much simpler had we just been able to do single-payer…What’s to say about the rollout? Yes, it’s been a mess, but it’s hardly a surprise. It’s a very complex law, leading to a very complex program, on a hard deadline. There’s nothing special about this administration that made it especially likely to screw this up; I’ve seen the sausage made at big software companies, and it isn’t any prettier. They just usually have the luxury of delaying projects and doing slower rollouts.

    Gmail was invitation-only for quite a while. iOS7 had a bug that allowed someone to bypass the passcode protected lock screen of a phone. The latest update for Windows 8 had a bug that was bricking some Surface RT’s. Designing, writing, and testing software in all the myriad strange ways that people will find to use it is difficult.

    And it probably would have gone better had Republicans not done everything they could to sabotage the whole process…

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  28. Sherri said on October 30, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    My car is back in the shop. After spending $2k and a week getting a new gas tank and fuel neck filler hose, I drove it to Walla Walla and back last weekend, and about 100 miles from home, the check engine light came on. So back to the dealer. The even worse news is that the loaner they gave me this time is a 2014 Acura RDX, the smaller cousin of my MDX, and I really like it. Now I’m starting to get the new car bug.

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  29. brian stouder said on October 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Sherri – I bet you a nickel it’s the gas cap that caused the check-engine light.

    Aside from that, I forgot to mention that I really enjoyed the article by the Proprietress, linked yesterday, regarding the Troy tea-party folks who like to attend City Council meetings.

    I myself very much enjoy (for lack of a better word) attending our Fort Wayne Community Schools board meetings.

    The work sessions are always better than the formal meetings, as they tend to deep-dive at those, and you learn lots more about what the challenges and the responses to those challenges are… but they tend to be mid-day anymore, and I cannot make it to them.

    As a rule, I sit quietly, and take a note or two; but in three years I have commented on three occasions – so there’s that.

    Mission #1 for me at those meetings – just ahead of “Curiousity Satisfaction” – is to not appear to be a lunatic.

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  30. Sherri said on October 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Brian, that’s a likely cause, though I’m always pretty careful about putting the gas cap on all the way (through “multiple clicks”, as my cap makes a ratcheting noise once it’s on.) I had filled up in Walla Walla about 200 miles earlier.

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  31. Connie said on October 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Dear Brian, there may be lunatics at your school board meeting and on this list, but you are not one of them.

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  32. alex said on October 30, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I’ll just concede this point to you: President Obama broke a promise to at least some percentage of people who actually DO personally control what health insurance they have.

    No he didn’t. I used to buy individual insurance on the open market and I can tell you firsthand what a sleazy business it was. They would jack my premiums every year even though I hadn’t made any claims. They probably would have dropped me if I did. The media have been remiss in their reporting because I’ve seen a number of instances where people were paying exorbitant amounts for coverage and had been duped into believing Obamacare was the work of the devil–until they saw how much cheaper it would be to get a better plan than the one they already have. The market for shitty insurance that keeps people over a barrel is officially dead and gone. That’s what the lazy-ass so-called liberal media are failing to report, and you sure as hell won’t hear about it at the right-wing propaganda mills masquerading as news outlets.

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  33. Deborah said on October 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I haven’t heard anyone else say this so it may be way off base, but why isn’t anyone blaming the insurance companies for not letting people keep the plan they have? I realize there are new regulations about what can and can not be offered, but couldn’t insurance companies have explained that tactfully to their customers and let them know in the end they’ll have better coverage? As I see it the ACA is a bonanza for the insurance companies. Sure they have to cover people with pre-existing conditions etc, but they will be enrolling millions more people so they have to be making tidy, tidy profits. Isn’t that what the rightwing wants, corporations to be making profits so they can create jobs and economic advancements that trickle down to the little guys? I have been avoiding the website, and will continue to avoid it until I’m back in Santa Fe for Thanksgiving. Then we’ll sit down with my daughter and figure it out. I’m with Sherri about tech rollouts. It all seems like a tempest in a teapot. And my beef is that we don’t have universal healthcare.

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  34. coozledad said on October 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Alex: Amen. The insurance companies are shitting themselves over losing all that grift, and they’re not going to give up any of their dupes without a fight.

    We’ve got much cheaper and much more sensible coverage under the ACA, plus free bloodwork, screenings, no denial of coverage for preexisting conditions…

    Man, if I were peddling overpriced insurance, it would sure help to have Fox News and Rush Limbaugh delivering to the gulls to my doorstep. They must be grateful for the last few dumbshits they’ve been handed.

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  35. Connie said on October 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Well, that didn’t last long: Update: Texas Doctor’s Packard Bid Cancelled As Down Payment Is A No-Show. http://deadlinedetroit.com/articles/7011/as_they_say_in_texas_packard_auction_winner_is_dancing_in_the_hog_trough#.UnFqhPmX9Io

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  36. Bob (not Greene) said on October 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Deborah, Charlie Pierce wrote along those lines, about the ACA not taking into account (for whatever reason) that the people who run insurance companies are simply greedy fucking bastards. http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/The_Big_Reveal

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  37. Basset said on October 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Joe, that museum is really something… Enjoy

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  38. Jolene said on October 30, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Sheesh. I just reread my earlier post. Typing on an iPad sure leads to lots of typos.

    This flap over cancelled policies will turn out to be much ado about not much. Many of the people whose policies have been terminated will be eligible for better policies at lower costs.

    Any policy in effect when the ACA was enacted was grandfathered in, with considerable latitude for companies to seek increases in premiums and co-payments at levels consistent with market rates, as long as they did not unduly burden the consumer or otherwise alter the policy significantly. The insurance companies are, essentially, using the ACA as a justification to stop offering policies for which there will be limited demand under the ACA.

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  39. Charlotte said on October 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Pilot Joe — I got in through the Federal website, chose a plan, and just got my confirmation/first bill from BCBS. BCBS sent me a letter a couple of weeks ago telling me that if I did nothing, they’d roll me into the plan I wound up choosing —

    Frankly, I’m thrilled to have a plan that I have a reasonable expectation does not have all kinds of weird holes in it, where they can’t boot me, and where my out-of-pocket maximum is clearly spelled out. It’s a better plan. I’m paying more every month, but I have real insurance again for the first time in years.

    It’s like those tv ads about auto insurance — do you pick the lowest premium? or do you check to see what they’ll actually pay for if you have a wreck?

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  40. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Poor Dr. Van Horn. just another victim of the evil trial lawyers that caused her malpractice premiums to shoot through the roof while the Democrats protect the trial lawyers by opposing tort reform. After all, those malpractice premiums and malpractice awards comprise a whopping less than 0.5% of all US health costs.

    Purveyors of privately purchased health insurance are somewhere between payday loan vultures that camp outside of military bases and outright loansharks. Peopl that believe they get any sort of coverage for their usurious premium payments live in a fool’s paradise. I paid a bundle to BC/BS of SC for 15 years, and then I needed to make a claim when an asshole driving an urban assault vehicle knocked me off my bicycle and left me concussed for the cops to find. Can’t say BC abandoned me completely. They approved the hospitals claim for some $10 Tylenol caps I didn’t want. (That stuff is useless as well as dangerous to kidney and liver function.) I’m left with a total of $5grand in medical costs. When it comes down to it, if the government can regulate usurers and the banks they own, why shouldn’t the government be able to set minimum levels of insurance coverage. And claiming President Obama lied about this nonsense, as the “liberal” WaPo has done today, is an outrageous supposition based upon zero facts. I saw about five minutes of GOPers questioning Sebelius this morning on CNN. They have no apparent motive or goal in mind but to place blame, and there is plenty to be ascribed to radical GOPer obstructionism, like SC lege making implementation of Obamacare illegal.

    Obviously, PP/ACA startup would have been improved if had been the painfully obvious intelligent approach: Medicare for everybody. Of course, Teabangers would have blown up the White House and most likely the Capitol too. Of course, if shitheels like Ken Cuccinelli hadn’t taken things to the Supreme Court, and if moronic obstructionist goober-nors hadn’t refused to set up state exchanges things would clearly be in beetter shape. But the GOPer claim that the website failures somehow mean the law is all wrong is so mindlessly stupid it leaves me wondering how these dicks feed themselves and remember to breathe. Further, nobody will ever convince me the website wasn’t attacked by hackers and the entire system by robo-callers. because, of course they would. According to mass media, this is somewhat paranoiac conspiracy theory akin to the 9/11 truthers. Why, GOP wouldn’t fuck with a govt. website when they were willing to annihilate the world’s economy a couple of weeks ago? The only reason to believe the site wasn’t attacked is the gross computer illiteracy and incompetence GOPers have displayed in the last several elections.

    Speaking of the Big Cunt Cuccinelli, two Fridays ago, he purged 38,000 Virginia voters from the rolls. He can do this because he says there is no conflict of interest involved in his running for governor and remaining Attorney General of the Commonwealth. There’s a very good satiric novel called The Last Election by a guy named Pete Davies. The author would have found this Cuccinelli power play too absurd for his story about the insanity of modern politics. A superb book I recommend strongly. It seems completely up-to-date right now.

    Jolene@38: Reading that last graf reminds me of the famous GOPer tort reform victories concerning malpractice in California. Within a year of passing the law limiting awards to some obscenely low numbe, the insurance carriers had raised malpractice premiums by 50-75%. Crooked bastards. When MA passed a bottle bill to establish bottle and can returns back in the 80s (unquestionably a good idea) beer distributors doubled the price of a six-pack. Profiteering buy any affected industry will always accompany natural disasters, human suffering and changes for the better in social policy:


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  41. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    The outrage from the health insurance community is reminiscent of the stuck-pig squealing that accompanie partially shutting down the private aspect of the student loan bidness. Crooks.

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  42. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Crooks and Liars has a good piece on the “insurance cancellations” hoohaw and the astounding lack of accurate reportage on the subject in national media. This is the 24/7 “news” milieu raised to Dantesque nightmare level. All the brains have been sucked out by some diabolical device. This is not difficult to understand. This is revenge profiteering in one big (I hope) for insurance criminals. Cancelling an insured persons policy when the first claim for chemo comes in is not, in any way that makes a difference, different from a loanshark kneecapping a recalcitrant debtor. Well, except loansharks would rather get their cash back while making a painful example. Insurance criminals already have that money invested elsewhere by the time the cancelled person is…dead. This has been a major profit center for these bastards as long as there has been health insurance. They obviously cannot be trusted to police themselves, so they should be nationalized.

    Do these folks not realize the insurance company was going to cancel them first time they filed a claim anyway.

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  43. Dexter said on October 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    I know it could be worse, so I am not complaining. Monday night I went online and got a rep from the health care department of my company retirement providers, and made my 2014 elections, a bit more complicated as both my wife and I are transitioning to Medicare as a primary provider in 2014, and at the appropriate time our company retirement package becomes a seconday provider, which is a very damn good thing. We all know Medicare only pays 80% of most stuff, and who can afford 20% of some charges for major surgeries and extended hospital stays? In these complicated, frustrating, cruel times, all I gotsta do is come up with two more bucks per day, and that’s it.

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  44. Sherri said on October 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Prospero, I don’t usually complain about your postings, and I can curse with anybody, but I don’t really like the use of “cunt” as a pejorative.

    Brian, you owe me a nickel. It was the catalytic converter, unfortunately. Now I’m really getting the new car bug…

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  45. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    A story about Guy Fieri that was just made for the NY Daily News. The hairdresser’s been making Guy look like an idiot for years and he just caught on.

    Arthur Blank owns Home Depot and the ATL Falcons. He’s also a bigtime funder of more than one astroturfed Teabanger organizations. Does this sort of sharing the tax wealth with a billionsire sound like something the Teahadists would favor. When cognitive dissonance goes completely out of control. And the Falcons suck this year.

    Mortimer and Randolh Koch are giving away beer on college campuses to talk kids into not signing up for exchange insurance. I’m sure they are checking IDs. Wouldn’t want any beer fraud

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  46. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Sherri: I wasn’t going to type that because I didn’t want to offend, but the guys name is Coochie-nelli, and he’s famous for his interest in rape by transvaginal ultrasound wand.

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  47. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I would have used Trouble Man for that video of the Packard plant.

    Wine shortage. Yeah, right.Sriracha shortage? Say it ain’t so. These people just now noticed this? This is the brand we favor. I like it on hotdogs and fries, and on crab cakes and oysters..

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  48. brian stouder said on October 30, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    And by the way – although I’m not sure who won the thread (although Joe’s news about heading for the gulf coast is definitely a contender!) – I hereby bleat for a belated CORRECTION!!!!

    The Proprietress says that Mr Zorn reports that a spare key for the new car is $650, when in fact he reports that it was $550 (and half that, at the locksmith)… so I hereby claim the strikeout/correction boobie prize!

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  49. Bob (not Greene) said on October 30, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Brian S., speaking of boobies, this story made me think of you:


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  50. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I can honestly say I do not stare at boobs. I have been known to stare at beautiful women, but faces and gams more than breasts, unless the breasts look like some sort of natural history exhibit or are being displayed nearly unclad.

    If GOPers are so worried about the President not keeping his word, supposedly< on keeping health care plans, why don't they come clean on Boehner's Jobs, jobs, jobs propaganda. Wvery day, in every way, they go out of their ways to mangle the economy, destroy jobs, and make sure the economy doesn’t recover with a black Democrat in the White House. Remember : while Oompa Loompa was directing 40 something votes to attempt to kill or seriously roll back Obamacare, the Administration sent four separate and specific bills aimed at creating jobs for Americans. Not one reached the House floor for a vote. That is one major league liar. If somebody wants to say I overstep by attributing this willingness to FUBAR the economy to the GOPers, remember two weeks ago when they were willing to sacrifice the global economy to stop the scourge of ACA. Ther is nothing so terrible they wouldn’t stoop to it, ya know, to keep that 0ne-term Prez promise.

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  51. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Women being imprisoned for endangering their unborn fetuses. Ya mean, like putting expectant moms in privately run jails whose biggest profit centersare providing slop instead of real food and eschewing any medical care at all. This is GD jabberwocky from world-class hypocrites.

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  52. Joe K said on October 30, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Basset I’ve been their before but it’s been probably 15 yrs.
    Charlotte, you should contact the news organization, I’m sure you would be a great story their hoping to hear, I think you are in the minority,
    And Alex check nbc, cbs,abc, they all had segments on this in the last few days not just fox. Can anyone honestly look at yourself in the mirror and say, you know if this were a republican role out with this much trouble, I would give it the same understanding that I’m giving this administration?
    Pilot Joe

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  53. Deborah said on October 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Ok Joe, how about the aftermath of the war in Iraq. I’d say that was a failed “role out” if there ever was one.

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  54. coozledad said on October 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I liked performance art better when it was just Karen Finley pulling yams out of her cooter. I can’t wrap my mind around this “thirty shades of stupid” shit.

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  55. brian stouder said on October 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Bob (not Greene) – good stuff!

    And indeed, with the new ‘google-glasses’ (or whatever they call them) I’m thinking this sort of research will only proliferate.

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  56. beb said on October 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I wonder how long it will take for those keyless-enter, engine-on remote control systems will be cracked by car thieves. After years of reading the tech site, Slashdot, I can convinced that any computer system can and will be broken.

    Paul Waldman looked into one woman’s claim that her health insurance would go up 60% only to find that if she had gone on California health exchange she could have found a barebones plan for less than she was paying now and a better plan for only a little more. The woman’s insurance company was trying to panic her into an more expensive plan because … hey, grifters gotta grift.

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  57. Joe K said on October 30, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Good point, but were not talking about Iraq, were talking about Obama care.
    How many times did the president say, ” you can keep your health plan?”
    Pilot Joe

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  58. coozledad said on October 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Nancy: While I respect prospero’s literary allusions, and think he’s generally on the money, I’m disinclined to compare you to Erma Bombeck.

    I don’t know who to compare you to. My mom? We can rule that evil shit out right away.

    I still think you’re a stepsister of Shirley Jackson. And stop making up these ludicrous right wing comments! It only dilutes the hilarity of the natural ones.

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  59. Prospero said on October 30, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    I guess every reasonable American can agree that the asinine law suits that not even Scalito could find for and the large number of red states that refused to actually work on the implementation of PP/ACA or set up statewide exchanges certainly had nothing to do with getting the law set up to run by the deadline established 4-1/2 years ago, because obviously the GOPers want what’s best for Americans and none of it had anything to do with Obama’s skin color, because the GOP has never courted the most hard core raccists in the country, nor dows the Teabangers have any Confederate flag toting David Duke ex-voters in it much less any actual racists.

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  60. Mark P. said on October 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Some of you might have heard about when Georgia’s state insurance commissioner spoke to my home county’s republicans and admitted that he and others in the republican administration intended to do anything they could to obstruct the ACA. So, the first thing they did was refuse to have a state-run program. And they are so proud of that, and the resulting problems it causes the citizens of Georgia.

    Also, the canceled insurance policies did not meet the minimum standards of the ACA, which means they were probably those crappy policies that don’t actually provide coverage anyway.

    My own policy (Humana) is a high deductible plan, but when I meet my deductible, as I am doing this year for the first time, it pays 100% of all in-network charges. They even negotiated with an out-of-network provider and got my bill reduced from almost $2000 out of pocket to about $200. It meets the minimum requirements, so I’ll stay with this until I reach Medicare age. I am having a hard time believing that people are getting ACA policies with really high premiums (like over $1000 a month for an individual) when my policy costs less than $500 a month.

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  61. Deborah said on October 31, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Joe did you not ask if there was a bad Republican rollout?

    And as I understand it those insurance plans that have been canceled were grandfathered in by the ACA, unless they were altered by the insurer which of course they were, so it is the fault of the insurance companies that they got canceled not the Obama admin. Does that make sense? It’s complicated.

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  62. redoubt said on October 31, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Example: Medicare Part D.

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  63. Lisa said on October 31, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Wonderful posting of a tragico-absurd scenario.

    Per the good Texas doctor: first commenter to post (Dexter) surmises she may connected to David Lynch due to her fantastical envisionings, but why not David Icke? To my eyes, this is a potential lizard playground if I’ve ever seen one.

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