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21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare and Vermont Goes Universal November 22, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Health.
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Roger’s note: this posting gives you two articles on health care, including Ralph Nader’s on the Canadian system.  Having lived most of my life in Canada, and with the early detection of my daughter’s meningitis that saved her life at age two, I know first hand the benefits of no one excluded single payer.  Like the system in Great Britain (which is more like socialized medicine than Canada’s universal insurance), Canada’s health care is deteriorating, not because of flaws in the system, but rather neoliberal under funding.  It is not quite the Utopia that Nader pictures, but it is a thousand percent better than what Americans have.

 

 

Dear America:

Costly complexity is baked into Obamacare. No health insurance system is without problems but Canadian style single-payer full Medicare for all is simple, affordable, comprehensive and universal.

In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson enrolled 20 million elderly Americans into Medicare in six months. There were no websites. They did it with index cards!

Below please find 21 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare.

Repeal Obamacare and replace it with the much more efficient single-payer, everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital.

Love, Canada

Number 21:
In Canada, everyone is covered automatically at birth – everybody in, nobody out.

In the United States, under Obamacare, 31 million Americans will still be uninsured by 2023 and millions more will remain underinsured.

Number 20:
In Canada, the health system is designed to put people, not profits, first.

In the United States, Obamacare will do little to curb insurance industry profits and will actually enhance insurance industry profits.

Number 19:
In Canada, coverage is not tied to a job or dependent on your income – rich and poor are in the same system, the best guaranty of quality.

In the United States, under Obamacare, much still depends on your job or income. Lose your job or lose your income, and you might lose your existing health insurance or have to settle for lesser coverage.

Number 18:
In Canada, health care coverage stays with you for your entire life.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for tens of millions of Americans, health care coverage stays with you for as long as you can afford your share.

Number 17:
In Canada, you can freely choose your doctors and hospitals and keep them. There are no lists of “in-network” vendors and no extra hidden charges for going “out of network.”

In the United States, under Obamacare, the in-network list of places where you can get treated is shrinking – thus restricting freedom of choice – and if you want to go out of network, you pay for it.

Number 16:
In Canada, the health care system is funded by income, sales and corporate taxes that, combined, are much lower than what Americans pay in premiums.

In the United States, under Obamacare, for thousands of Americans, it’s pay or die – if you can’t pay, you die. That’s why many thousands will still die every year under Obamacare from lack of health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

Number 15:
In Canada, there are no complex hospital or doctor bills. In fact, usually you don’t even see a bill.

In the United States, under Obamacare, hospital and doctor bills will still be terribly complex, making it impossible to discover the many costly overcharges.

Number 14:
In Canada, costs are controlled. Canada pays 10 percent of its GDP for its health care system, covering everyone.

In the United States, under Obamacare, costs continue to skyrocket. The U.S. currently pays 18 percent of its GDP and still doesn’t cover tens of millions of people.

Number 13:
In Canada, it is unheard of for anyone to go bankrupt due to health care costs.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care driven bankruptcy will continue to plague Americans.

Number 12:
In Canada, simplicity leads to major savings in administrative costs and overhead.

In the United States, under Obamacare, complexity will lead to ratcheting up administrative costs and overhead.

Number 11:
In Canada, when you go to a doctor or hospital the first thing they ask you is: “What’s wrong?”

In the United States, the first thing they ask you is: “What kind of insurance do you have?”

Number 10:
In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices so they are more affordable.

In the United States, under Obamacare, Congress made it specifically illegal for the government to negotiate drug prices for volume purchases, so they remain unaffordable.

Number 9:
In Canada, the government health care funds are not profitably diverted to the top one percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, health care funds will continue to flow to the top. In 2012, CEOs at six of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. received a total of $83.3 million in pay, plus benefits.

Number 8:
In Canada, there are no necessary co-pays or deductibles.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the deductibles and co-pays will continue to be unaffordable for many millions of Americans.

Number 7:
In Canada, the health care system contributes to social solidarity and national pride.

In the United States, Obamacare is divisive, with rich and poor in different systems and tens of millions left out or with sorely limited benefits.

Number 6:
In Canada, delays in health care are not due to the cost of insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, patients without health insurance or who are underinsured will continue to delay or forgo care and put their lives at risk.

Number 5:
In Canada, nobody dies due to lack of health insurance.

In the United States, under Obamacare, many thousands will continue to die every year due to lack of health insurance.

Number 4:
In Canada, an increasing majority supports their health care system, which costs half as much, per person, as in the United States. And in Canada, everyone is covered.

In the United States, a majority – many for different reasons – oppose Obamacare.

Number 3:
In Canada, the tax payments to fund the health care system are progressive – the lowest 20 percent pays 6 percent of income into the system while the highest 20 percent pays 8 percent.

In the United States, under Obamacare, the poor pay a larger share of their income for health care than the affluent.

Number 2:
In Canada, the administration of the system is simple. You get a health care card when you are born. And you swipe it when you go to a doctor or hospital. End of story.

In the United States, Obamacare’s 2,500 pages plus regulations (the Canadian Medicare Bill was 13 pages) is so complex that then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said before passage “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Number 1:
In Canada, the majority of citizens love their health care system.

In the United States, the majority of citizens, physicians, and nurses prefer the Canadian type system – single-payer, free choice of doctor and hospital , everybody in, nobody out.

For more information see Single Payer Action.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and “Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us” (a novel).

 

Vermont Approves Single-Payer Health Care: ‘Everybody in, nobody out’

posted by Salvatore Aversa November 20, 2013, http://www.occupydemocrats.com

The Affordable Care Act continues to plow ahead, despite Republican attempts to fight it at every turn.  What is unfolding in front of us is nothing short of spectacular.  The problems with healthcare.gov are slowly being resolved which is helping more and more people sign up for affordable healthcare, many for the first time in their life.  The law provides so much more than that, including standards for even the lowest level plans, protections for young adults 26 and younger, and the elimination of pre-existing plans.  Of course, you will not hear the success stories on the news, because those stories are not nearly as sexy as the “Obama Lied” slogan they are so fond of.

The biggest downside of the ACA is the reliance on the private insurance industry.  It does not have to be this way, however.  There is yet another provision in the Affordable Care Act that can open the door for states to institute their own single-payer healthcare system.  Other states have a public option, especially for those below a certain income level, but no state had instituted a true single-payer system.  All of this has changed thanks to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act.

Vermont—Home of Ben and Jerry’s, Maple Syrup, Bernie Sanders and the first state to pass marriage equality.  Now, Vermont will be known for something that will impact every resident in the state.

The ACA provided states with federal funds to institute a Medicaid expansion.  The states chose to expand the program also were able to set up their own state exchanges, which were relatively free from the problems the federal site had.  Vermont decided to take it a step further by setting up their very own single payer system.

The slogan of the program: Everybody in, nobody out.

The program will be fully operational by 2017, and will be funded through Medicare, Medicaid, federal money for the ACA given to Vermont, and a slight increase in taxes.  In exchange, there will be no more premiums, deductibles, copay’s, hospital bills or anything else aimed at making insurance companies a profit.  Further, all hospitals and healthcare providers will now be nonprofit.

This system will provide an instant boost the state economy.  On the one side, you have workers that no longer have to worry about paying medical costs or a monthly premium and are able to use that money for other things.  On the other side, you have the burden of paying insurance taken off of the employers side, who will be able to use the saved money to provide a better wage and/or reinvest in their company through updated infrastructure and added jobs.  It is a win-win solution.

To make sure that it is done right the first time, Vermont brought in a specialist who knows a thing or two about setting up a single-payer system.

Dr. William Hsaio, the Harvard health care economist who helped craft health systems in seven countries, was Vermont’s adviser. He estimates that Vermont will save 25 percent per capita over the current system in administrative costs and other savings.

Many like to say that the United States has the best healthcare system in the world.  The problem is we don’t.  Not even close.  In fact, the only way you can get the best healthcare in the world, is if you are willing and able to pay for it.  The United States can and must do better for its people.

Costs have to be held down — there is no reason why the U.S. has to pay twice the amount per capita as the next most costly system in the world (Norway’s), and still not cover millions of its citizens. A Harvard Medical School study states that 45,000 Americans die each year from treatable diseases because they cannot afford to get treatment.

45,000 Americans die every single year because they cannot afford treatment, are you ready for that?  That is 15 times the amount of people that died during the September 11, 2001, attacks, or perhaps for you Righty’s out there you would rather see it put this way, 11,250 times the amount of people that died in the Benghazi attack.  That equals 5 Americans that die every hour, of every day, of every year because of a preventable illness that was not taken care of due to lack of access and means.

Even once the Affordable Care Act wrinkles are ironed out, which they will be, and every America is covered, which will happen, that will not change the fact that all of this is being driven by a for-profit system by companies that only care about their bottom line.  Despite rules in the ACA which prevent insurance companies from absolutely gouging their customers, insurance companies are not exactly know for their ethical behavior.

A single-payer system would all but eliminate anybody dying unnecessarily due to lack of access to healthcare.  Our Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  How can somebody have life and happiness, without their health?  Despite the glaring hypocrisy of rich, white males who owned slaves stating all men are created equal, we have come a long way from 1776.  Yet when it comes to the very basic need, we are left to the whim of a business.  Single-payer is inevitable, and the ACA is a giant step in that direction.  We need must hold our officials to a higher standard which will get us there faster.  40,000 people a year is absolutely unacceptable.  Vermont saw the writings on the wall.  Will the rest of us?

Video

Bernie Sanders on MSNBC discussing his state’s new single-payer system.

 

 

Walmart Relentless as Thousands Set to Lose Out in New Health Care Policy December 2, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Labor.
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Published on Saturday, December 1, 2012 by Common Dreams

Box store implicated in federal wage-theft lawsuit

  – Common Dreams staff

Walmart will continue to disappoint workers and labor rights activists in the coming months as it continues to ignore the current widespread workers’ strike and protest movement against its labor policies and implements a new health insurance program that will deny healthcare coverage to employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week, according to a copy of the company’s policy obtained by The Huffington Post.

Photo via Facebook / Overpass Light Brigade.

Walmart is known for employing many of its workers part time and less than 30 hours per week, meaning a large majority of its employees is set to lose insurance through their employer.

In response to the Huffington Post, Walmart declined to disclose how many of its roughly 1.4 million U.S. workers will lose their insurance under the new policy, which is set to begin in January. Company spokesman David Tovar told Huffington that Walmart had “made a business decision” not to respond to questions from the paper.

“For Walmart employees, the new system raises the risk that they could lose their health coverage in large part because they have little control over their schedules. Walmart uses an advanced scheduling system to constantly alter workers’ shifts according to store traffic and sales figures,” the Huffington Post reports.

The discovery comes shortly after thousands of Walmart workers across the country walked off the job over the course of the week leading up to the national shopping day Black Friday. Workers continue to organize and speak out against the company’s attempts to silence employees’ complaints regarding the “company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and their discrimination against women and people of color.”

In other Walmart labor news, Walmart warehouse workers in Southern California filed a petition in court this week in a bid to sue Walmart in a federal wage-theft lawsuit.

Walmart’s warehouses in California and Illinois have accused their employer of labor violations in the past; however, Friday’s filing was the first time Walmart has been directly implicated in the claims of abuse, rather than the company’s warehouse subcontractors, the Huffington Post reports.

“Walmart’s name does not appear on any of these workers paychecks, and the Walmart logo does not appear on the t-shirts they’re required to wear,” Michael Rubin, the workers’ lawyer, said on Friday. “But it has become increasingly clear that the ultimate liability for these workplace violations rests squarely on the shoulders of Walmart.”

 

Comments

  • oldblue63

    A) Why does anyone shop at Walmart?  We shoppers  could bring them around in a few weeks if we all just QUIT shopping there. They need our business …we are in the driver’s seat if we use our power. B) This is a perfect example of why health care should not be provided through employers. Part-time employment is extremely common and it makes the employee constantly up in the air about health care benefits…and many employers do not begin coverage until 3-6 months of employment anyway, so people are going without insurance for long periods.  We are all FULL-TIME citizens and that is where we should be getting our health care benefits.

  • gardenernorcal

    We weren’t offered national health care.

    Many people are forced to shop Walmart because when they move in many local shops close up.  Before Walmart moved into my town we had a Wards, Penneys, KMart and Sears store and assorted small shops like dime stores.  Today we have Walmart  a couple high end furniture stores, 1$ Store, a Staples and a Home Depot.

  • BuddhaNature

    Your story is very similar to our town with one exception. Our town refused a Wal-Mart, so they built in everytown around us and sucked the business away. We  too had a JC Penneys, and Sears. And they try and tell you that capitalism is about competition? I won’t shop in there. They keep their wages down to assure themsleves of a customer base.. Henry Ford paid his workers the then good wage of $5.00 dollars a day so that could afford to buy the car they were producing, Wal- Mart on the otherhand, under pays their workers to  assure they can’t afford to shop anyplace else.

  • natureschild3

     

    “Henry Ford paid his workers the then good wage of $5.00 dollars a day so that could afford to buy the car”

    yes! he expressed the opinion that assembly line workers should earn enough to buy an auto. also he insisted the employees show up in a christian church…and never, ever drink a beer or any alcohol–even at home.

    then one day ford had a great business idea–“I can grow my own tires in honduras!” there, too, henry made sure the brown people of honduras appeared his his church, but adequate pay? “naw. we don’t need a bunch o’ darkies driving cars!” if you can, watch or read transcript here:

    “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City”

     

    http://www.democracynow.org/20…

     

  • Amurkan

    Henry Ford was obliged to pay his workers $5 hr because they quit in droves when they realized that they would be demeaned by his new assembly line. He didn’t do this from the kindness of his heart. No one seems to know this.

  • natureschild3

    yes! and doesn’t that $5 an hour allowing his faithful to buy a model t speak volumes about the ongoing devaluation of the paper dollar?

    “you load 16 tons of #9 coal and what do you get? “anothe day older and deeper in debt. “lord, don’tcha call me ’cause i can’t go…

    “i owe my so-o-oul. . . to the company store!”

     

  • gardenernorcal

    Yeah Ford was not quite the big stalwart supporter of labor as he’s painted today.

     

    But for years Ford also resorted to legal as well as thug tactics to prevent workers in Ford plants from unionizing. 

    In December 1937, the company was found in violation of the Wagner Act and was ordered to cease interfering with workers’ efforts to unionize. In 1941, when wages at Ford were in fact lower than the average wage for the industry, Henry Ford continued to insist that “we do not intend to submit to any union.”

     

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09…

  • Yunzer

    That’s what you get for living in Kalifornia.  Even the pre-Wal-Mart stores you listed are big-box chains!  Is there ANY part of you state that isn’t totally dominated by big chain-crap?  The Summer of Love ended 43 years ago, and the last Doobie Brothers hit was 35 years ago.  You should consider moving back here to the unfashionable mid-atlantic/northeast.

  • gardenernorcal

    But consider this pre Walmart my community of approximately 500,000 supported 4 large chain stores, whose employees were organized and received full benefits including health care and retirement.  People had choices.  I know I shopped Penneys for clothes, Wards for furniture, Sears for tools and KMart for miscellaneous little stuff.  Today I have basically one choice Walmart and they say they can’t pay their employees a living wage or provide them with health care and other benefits.  Why is that?  They are one of the largest and most profitable US corporations.

    And I was born in California. It’s my home. I wouldn’t be moving back to anywhere.

  • nveric

    You being Snobbish? Don’t you know the oceans are rising?

  • Lorenzo LaRue

    ….And your only entry here is smart ass?  Don’t you know that everyone doesn’t live on the beach?

  • Yunzer

    Fortunately all Wal-Marts are out in the public transit-hostile suburban sprawl-land and require a car, or incredibly crappy bus service to get there.  I’ve sworn off all car use except for the occasional long-haul intercity, hiking or hang gliding trip.

    The only reason I would set foot in a Wal-Mart of Sam’s Club would be to burn one to the ground.  Don’t worry, I’d give plenty of warning to evacuate first.

  • Dem. Socialism

    “Too Big To Care”…”Too Immoral To Share”.

    (Wal-Mart’s new slogan.)

  • N30rebel

    Perhaps better?: “Too Big To Care”…”Too Immoral To Shame.”

  • Matthew Grebenc

    Too immortal to care.

  • gardenernorcal

     

    “But it has become increasingly clear that the ultimate liability for these workplace violations rests squarely on the shoulders of Walmart.”

     

    No actually the responsibility lies with all of us that worry more about the DOW every morning than we do the moral and humane treatment of every worker on this planet.  When Reagan fired those air traffic controllers it wasn’t victory for anyone but big finance and Wall St..

    I remember a time when the financial news was the last thing reported on and only given a few moments at that.  We also didn’t have our TV waves saturated with ads by big pharma or attorneys.  And is it just me or am I seeing more and more alcohol ads as well?  Weren’t they outlawed?  How is it some companies are allowed to campaign but Spuds Mckensey was torpedoed into oblivion.

  • 69Tuscany

    The US and New Zealand are the only countries in the world who allow pharmaceutical advertising.

  • adiantum

    I think NZ recently disallowed it.

  • Dem. Socialism

    Also, gardenernorcal, have you noticed the amount of smoking done in movies lately? Rather blatant.

  • Amurkan

    The excuse given for smoking actors is the ‘in character’ thing. It’s baloney. The studios are complicit in the death later by millions of kids who start smoking because their film heroes do it.  Disgusting and criminal.

  • Richard_William_Posner

    Let’s not overlook the amount of advertising being done by the military. It’s sickening.

    There’s also more than one show that is being used as a propaganda tool to reinforce acceptance of the phony war on terror.

    Additionally, the existence of chemtrails is being normalised through increasing visibility in programming and ads. Pay attention to scenes with nice blue skies in them.

  • gardenernorcal

    There’s a lot of infuriating advertising I didn’t mention like BP’s telling how their actions have improved life on the Gulf.

  • Richard_William_Posner

    Not being critical gardener, just reinforcing your observations.

    The Bernaysian ministries of propaganda, both commercial and political (is there really any difference?) are manufacturing every aspect of our reality.

  • gardenernorcal

    I didn’t take it as a criticism.  I find the additions to my list kind of interesting.

  • Richard_William_Posner

    I’m glad. Wasn’t really sure. And by the way, yes, I find those BP ads really outrageous and infuriating.

  • Holygeezer

    The whole stock market thing is pretty criminal. If one is honest and thinks about it at all, there is no way you can “earn” money by doing nothing, unless you are in effect stealing it from others somehow. The others in this case being workers. Some may say this is too simplistic of a view, but in essence, earning money from investments is glorified stealing.

  • nveric

    The 1970s changed reason into insanity.

    Reagan was the tipper, not the gipper.

  • gardenernorcal

     

    Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, plans to begin denying health insurance to newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week, according to a copy of the company’s policy obtained by The Huffington Post.Under the policy, slated to take effect in January, Walmart also reserves the right to eliminate health care coverage for certain workers if their average workweek dips below 30 hours — something that happens with regularity and at the direction of company managers 

    Labor and health care experts portrayed Walmart’s decision to exclude workers from its medical plans as an attempt to limit costs while taking advantage of the national health care reform known as Obamacare. Among the key features of Obamacare is an expansion of Medicaid, the taxpayer-financed health insurance program for poor people. Many of the Walmart workers who might be dropped from the company’s health care plans earn so little that they would qualify for the expanded Medicaid program, these experts said.

     

    How convenient the US’s largest employer can now foist off their overhead on the US taxpayer while receiving tax breaks and subsidies.

    Interesting chart on this site:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

  • Doug_Terpstra

    Yep, this was a predictable outcome of Obamacare, better known as “The Death Panel Profiteers Bailout Act.”  WalMart employees (or rather, taxpayers) will now be forced to buy a defective-by-design product from protection racket extortionists that some call insurance companies.  The full damage of this monstronsity won’t be understood until well after 2014, when its more onerous dictates are implemented.

    Thanks, Obama.

  • gardenernorcal

    Not just that.  Taxpayers will be subsidizing Walmart labor by providing them with medicaid, food stamps etc..  With their profits you’d think they could afford to pay  their employees a living wage.

  • Doug_Terpstra

    Good point.  The next logical step will be to lower corporate taxes even further and then repeal the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • Mike_Strong

    Yup! Repealing the Emancipation Proclamation is definitely on the agenda. Just slightly different job descriptions and this time with a paycheck. Sort of an upgrade on sharecropping.

  • natureschild3

    don’t just thank obama. top honors should go to lloyd blankfein, ceo of goldman sachs. lloyd is the real man behind the curtain pulling all sorts of political strings!

  • Donna M Crane

    Since my 41 year old son is already on ObamaCare for his pre-exisiting condition, I can assure you it is in no way defective, and is affordable.  He is able to pay his monthly fee of $188 and co-pays even though he is only working about 30 hours a week currently. The excellent RX Plan that is included (unlike Medicare) allows him to get his medications at an affordable price  that keeps him out of the hospital and able to work. In fact, as far as I can see, it works just like, and just as well as, my Medicare which I love.  And in point of fact, we are already paying for all Walmart’s employees, even the full time ones who still qualify for food stamps and Medicaid.  Most WalMart employees already don’t have health insurance thru the company.  In fact pretty much only the top levels have it. ObamaCares is already benefiting many people like my son and here in AZ we are using the Federal Government Set Up Exchange, since AZ isn’t going to set up its own Exchange…I consider this a benefit for us as I’m sure AZ wouldn’t do as well.  Before you start kicking around ObamaCare, you should talk to some people who are on it.

  • Inspector47

    Thank you! As far as Walmart being thieves they are the free market, capitalism at it’s best! The republicans are crying about the four people who were killed overseas, four thousand Americans die monthly due to the lack of health care. My daughter wreaked on her bike, she is a college student, at 23, she was able to be on our health ins for her injuries thanks to Obama care.

  • Doug_Terpstra

    Thanks.  I’m glad it’s working for you, at least for now. Most of the perceived good provisions of the 2,000-page bill were implemented upfront, pre-election, by design.  2014 is when the kickers come, too late, by design.

    [Adding: Walmart is the post-election coalmine canary.  Dropping employeer-provided healthcare will become a corporate rush by 2014.  Obamacare did nothing to cap runaway drug and sickcare costs.  Enjoy the good times.]

  • Inspector47

    Like the 80/20 law that forces insurance companies to spend 80 percent of premimuns on the policy holder or return it?

  • Doug_Terpstra

    Not quite. The rebate does not apply to individual policy holders as you imply, but to collective policy holders within a state. IOW, you don’t get a refund as an individual customer if you’re healthy and the company spends little or no money on you.  This is why Obama’s Death-Panel Profiteers Bailout Act is more than 2,000 pages of lobbyese.  It’s designed to confuse most people while enriching the investor class that Obama really works for.

    The theoretical rebate would be a share of whatever amount your insurer spends on health care that is less than 80% of aggregate premiums paid in by all of its customers in that state, and you can imagine how corporate attorneys will game that one).

    So, if your employer (like Walmart) drops you—as many or most will do in the next year or two—forcing you (or taxpayers for you) to pay thousands in out-of-pocket in premiums (no choice under the mandate), you might get a $158 rebate at the end of the year like the lucky lottery winners of North Carolina ($7 in Utah).  Partly, this depends on how successful the death-panel gatekeepers are at rationing care or denying claims in a particular state.

    http://www.examiner.com/articl…

    See also: Welcome to the Future of Your Health Insurance. It Sucks.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com…

  • Inspector47

    Death panels in the affordable care act, Sarah Palin won lie of the year with that one.

  • Doug_Terpstra

    Thank you.  Apparently, my use of the term for private versus public was unclear. Palin’s use of the term for her GOP handlers referred to government “death panels”, to scare people away from universal coverage by single-payer (for the same people waving signs reading “keep your government hands off my Medicare”).    My use of the term refers to the private profiteers (insurance racketeers), whose gatekeepers are a far worse form of “death panel” — denying claims and rationing care for profit only.

    The denial of coverage by for-profit gatekeepers is routine and far worse here than what occurs in civilized countries with single-payer universal coverage like Sweden, Canada and the UK.  And Obamacare rejected single-payer and any public option thus institutionalizing profiteering by private racketeers with a captive market — with almost no limits on escalating costs, including prescription drugs that are explicitly protected from market competition (free trade is remarkably selective).  It is the worst form of crony capitalism endorsed by the conservative Supine Court.

  • wildcarrots

    Well said.

  • wildcarrots

    I’m really glad it is working for your son, no doubt it will work better than standard insurance for some groups.  Just remember that the system you are comparing it with really sucks. If you really think it is good try comparing it to one of the other systems in the world that deliver better care at half the cost.

  • Kenneth C. Fingeret

    Hello gardenernorcal,

    Walfart has been doing this for decades.  As I understand it part of the paperwork when you are hired is getting government assistance due to your lack of a living wage salary that does not include much if anything in the way of benefits. This makes you eligible for different programs such as Medicade, AFDC, etc.  A special Walfart tax of 500% of all government payments that are made to Walfart employees due to lack of salary and benefits given to their employees. should be the minimum required for Walfart to pay.  I call them Walfart because they leave a bad odor wherever they are located!

  • nveric

    Blood sucking death mongers run Walmart, their oozing puss filled sores covering their faces, acidic drool plops from their crusted puffy lips burning holes to the center of the Earth, necks as short as their ‘other’ parts and as wide as their hips, and below are stubby trunk-like legs incapable of independent motion.

    You see, there’s no body and no heart for these Borg-like little people spawned from Sam Walton and an unknown surrogate, most likely an alien life-form kept in an undisclosed location in Nevada.

  • wildcarrots

    The U.S. is going to be a very unhealthy place to live and shop when you consider the number of people that do not have access to healthcare.  Disease does not respect ideological boundaries. .

  • Gubdeb

    Look around. It already is.

  • Poet

    I don’t know who designed the portable lit sign, but it gives the graffiti of protest an entirely new frontier (drive through territory after or just before dark) and flexibility (how difficult would it be to change the message to “Tax the Wealthy for a Change”, or “Shrink the Pentagon Not Social Security”?).

     

    It can be easily moved and, depending on the time, and location reach many people with a simple message they cannot avoid.  Flash mobs just got an entirely new twist unique to the US motoring culture!

     

  • 69Tuscany

    Great idea.

  • d9rich

    It’s been done with hand-made signs for over a decade or more.

  • Poet

    If by “hand made signs” you mean electrically lit like the one in the picture, then great–I have never seen any such example before the above photo.

     

    What I meant to convey was that most “hand made signs” are invisible after dark to all but the cars slowing to a stop at a traffic light.

     

    That one in the picture cannot be missed by passing motorists on their way to nowhere and as such expands both the potential audience and time of exposure to whatever message an activist wishes to present.

     

     

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    REVEALED: The Democrats’ devious plan to compromise with the Republicans April 3, 2012

    Posted by rogerhollander in Health.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    add a comment

    Posted by <!–

    –>, www.opednews.com, April 2, 2012

    In Monday’s New York Times, Ross Douthat explains the devious reasoning behind the Democrats’ adoption of the individual mandate: “It protected the Democratic bill on two fronts at once: buying off some of the most influential interest groups even as it hid the true cost of universal coverage.”

    Clever! But I can’t help feeling like Ross is forgetting something. There was some other reason Democrats adopted this policy. I’m almost sure of it. If you give me a second, I’m sure it’ll come to me.

    Ah, right! Because Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was saying things like “I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates,” and “individual mandates are more apt to be accepted by a majority of the people in Congress than an employer mandate.”

    And it wasn’t just Grassley. A New York Times columnist by the name of Ross Douthat praised Utah Sen. Bob Bennett for “his willingness to co-sponsor a centrist (in a good way!) health care reform bill with the Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.” That health-care reform bill was the Healthy Americans Act which included, yes, an individual mandate. But while Douthat did later say that the Healthy Americans Act wasn’t his “preferred health care reform,” at no point did he accuse Bennett of “buying off some of the most influential interest groups” even as he “hid the true cost of universal coverage.”

    The Healthy Americans Act, meanwhile, had been cosponsored by a bevy of heavy-hitting Senate Republicans, including Lamar Alexander, Mike Crapo, Bob Corker, Judd Gregg, Norm Coleman and Trent Lott. And it’s not like they were off the reservation in some significant way: In 2007, both Sen. Jim DeMint and the National Review endorsed Mitt Romney, who had passed an individual mandate into law in Massachusetts. In their endorsements, both icons of conservatism specifically mentioned his health-care plan as a reason for their endorsement. DeMint, for instance, praised Romney’s health-care plan as “something that I think we should do for the whole country.”

    Avik Roy points out that many liberals — including candidate Barack Obama — were historically skeptical of the individual mandate. And that’s true! There was a robust debate inside the party as to whether Democrats should move from proposing a government-centric health-care model to one Republicans had developed in order to preserve the centrality of “personal responsibility” and private health insurers. Many liberals opposed such a shift. But they lost to the factions in the party that wanted health-care reform to be a bipartisan endeavor.

    Roy tries to use this to draw some equivalence between the two parties. Both Democrats and Republicans changed their mind on the individual mandate, he argues. But there’s a key difference: The Democrats changed their mind in order to secure a bipartisan compromise on health-care reform. Republicans changed their mind in order to prevent one.

    And so what did Democrats get for their troubles? Well, the individual mandate is the least popular element of the health-care law. The entire Republican Party decided the individual mandate was an unconstitutional assault on freedom. And today, even relatively moderate Republicans like Douthat present the mandate as some kind of underhanded trick.

    That’s politics, I guess. But ask yourself: If Obamacare is overturned, and Obama is defeated, who will win the Democratic Party’s next fight over health care? Probably not the folks counseling compromise. Too many Democrats have seen how that goes. How much easier to propose a bill that expands Medicaid eligibility to 300 percent of the poverty line, covers every child through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and makes Medicare availability to every American over age 50. Add in some high-risk pools, pay for the bill by slapping a surtax on rich Americans — indisputably constitutional, as even Randy Barnett will tell you — and you’ve covered most of the country’s uninsured. Oh, and you can pass the whole thing through the budget reconciliation process.

    I don’t think that’s a particularly good future for the health-care system. And I doubt that bill will pass anytime soon. But, if Obamacare goes down, something like it will eventually be passed. And what will Republicans have to say about it? That no, this time, they really would have worked with the Democrats to reform America’s health-care system? Who will believe them?

    All U.S. Constituencies Oppose Obama’s “Individual Mandate” for Health Care April 3, 2012

    Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Health, Race.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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    Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    President Obama’s mandate to buy private insurance was born in the rightwing Heritage Foundation, and has not found a home among any actual constituency of the public – white, non-white, Republican, Democrat, college-educated or not. A new poll confirms that “Obama has based his plan on a scheme that nobody likes – even his most loyal supporters.”

     

    All U.S. Groups Oppose Obama’s “Individual Mandate” for Health Care

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

    The new poll shows that no significant constituency supports Obama’s individual mandate.”

    When one takes a cursory look at where various groups in the nation stand on President Obama’s health care legislation – now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court – it appears the country is split along party and race lines. A new poll conducted by Princeton Research Associates shows 75 percent of Democrats support the Obama position, and 86 percent of Republicans oppose it, with so-called independents evenly split. The racial divide is similar. Sixty-eight percent of non-whites “strongly favor” or “somewhat favor” the overall health care law, with only 18 percent opposed. Whites are far more divided, with 33 percent favoring Obama’s law, and 47 percent opposed.

    These numbers are, however, heavily influenced by what people think is in the law, and what side they think they should be on, based on their larger loyalties. It is doubtful that majorities on either side of the issue actually understand most of the law’s many provisions, some of which do not go into effect for several years. Therefore, many of the respondents are using the poll to register their broader preference for or against the incumbent president and his party. It is no surprise that majorities of whites and super-majorities of Republicans oppose ObamaCare, as Republicans call it, and more than two thirds of non-whites and three-quarters of Democrats support Health Care Reform, as Obama calls it.

    However, most people do understand the central element of the law, the “individual mandate” that forces nearly everyone to buy health insurance from private companies, or face a fine. The new poll shows that no significant constituency supports Obama’s individual mandate, with only 28 percent of the overall public favorable to the scheme. Even non-whites, two-thirds of whom claim to support Obama on health care in general, balk at mandatory purchase of insurance from private companies. Fifty-three percent of non-whites give thumbs down to the individual health insurance mandate, as do 71 percent of whites. More Democrats are opposed to Obama’s individual mandate than favor it: 48 to 44 percent. And Republicans are off the scale in opposition, at 15 to 1.

    Fifty-three percent of non-whites give thumbs down to the individual health insurance mandate.”

    So, if the core of the Obama health care plan is the individual mandate, as both the administration and the Republicans contend in their arguments before the Supreme Court, then Obama has based his plan on a scheme that nobody likes – even his most loyal supporters.

    There’s another interesting aspect to the new poll. It shows that only a hard core of one in four people want to tamper with Medicare as the Republicans do, with around two-thirds of all racial groups opting to keep the program the way it is, with the government paying doctors and hospitals directly for the service they provide to seniors.” Taken together, the poll indicates strong support for the core elements of the U.S. healthcare safety net, and rejection of private schemes, including Obama’s mandatory purchase of insurance from private companies. It appears that most Americans would rather have the option of dependable, direct health care paid for by the government – which was the case at the beginning of 2009, before Obama unveiled his health care scheme, when 60 percent and more of the American people favored single-payer health care. But Obama maneuvered them into a something they hadn’t asked for, and which, three years later, nobody wants. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

     

    Trust the Experts On Women’s Health, Because Middle-Aged Men Know the Most About Everyting March 2, 2012

    Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Women.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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    by Abby Zimet, www.commondreams.org, March 1, 2012

     

    The Senate killed the Blunt amendment today that would have allowed employers to opt out of healthcare coverage that violates their “moral beliefs” – though not without rhetoric like Orrin Hatch’s, “This is tyranny (and) discrimination masquerading as compassion” – but that’s hardly the end of the GOP war against women. Funny Or Die‘s health experts speak out on the complex subject of lady parts.

    18 Comments so far

    Hide All

    Posted by constitutional
    Mar 1 2012 – 9:58pm

    Drill baby drill, no obortions, no birth control, no education, no food stamps,  just fucking pray! And vote republican of course. If you don’t believe them, just ask them.

    Posted by Obedient Servant
    Mar 1 2012 – 10:07pm

    This video was already featured on CD.

    “Women’s Health Experts Speak Out”

    http://www.commondreams.org/video/2012/02/29-0

    Since we’re repeating ourselves:

    It’s funny because it’s true!

    I know it’s true, because I’ve read comments by some of these guys in the comments at CD articles that advocate reproductive rights for women, and/or deplore the authoritarian legislative movement to eliminate, or at least minimize, them.

    Posted by AD
    Mar 1 2012 – 11:08pm

    These con servastives are just getting too psychopathic. This shouldn’t be allowed watching for young impressionable children. Somebody has to take a stand.

    Posted by plavmar
    Mar 1 2012 – 11:05pm

    As I said last night (to the consternation of a few), were it not for men we wouldn’t have birth control pills, breast-cancer treatments, hospitals, or even the discipline of gynecology itself.

    Rather than bitching and complaining about men, more women (including those of you at CD) should be thanking them and singing their praises.

    Posted by Aaronica
    Mar 2 2012 – 1:15am

    You might actually want to study a bit more about the history of medicine, before you make such a sweeping statement.   It’s a bit like asking others to respect the slave owners because they brought the black people to America…

    Posted by plavmar
    Mar 2 2012 – 3:44am

    With due respect, the pioneers of medicine, as of so many fields, have been men. Consider:

    1. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocrates

    2. Famous gynecologists: Ernst Ludwig Alfred Hegar, Ralph Pomeroy, Hermann Pfannenstiel, and Alan Guttmacher (google them).

    3. Gregory Goodwin Pincus, co-founder of the birth control pill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Pincus

    4. H. Michael Shepard, developer of Herceptin, the breakthrough breast-cancer drug: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._Michael_Shepard

    As far as I know, none of these men accomplished what they did through the use of slaves. Their success can be attributed to hard work and good old-fashioned brain power.

    Posted by Phantom_
    Mar 2 2012 – 8:07am

    Exactly, bashing men is sexist and counterproductive.

    And you’re correct, men have been on the forefront of not only medicine but all science. In fact, the greatest writers, philosophers, artists and leaders for peace in human history have overwhelmingly been men. Think of Socrates, Da Vinci, Dalton, Shakespeare, Mozart, Wagner, Beethoven, Gandhi, MLK. The list is too long. Not to mention their achievements in sports, the list is even longer.

    Posted by PostScarcityAna…
    Mar 2 2012 – 9:36am

    You and your companion are completely wrong- to use your lazy sophistry it easy to create division where none exists.  Men and women are part and parcel and have achieved everything together- not apart, nor have any of the persons you cite achieved anything on their own.  Every man, including children like you and palavmar, was born and created by a woman- this includes the people on your “list”.  Fuck you.

    Posted by Zanrak
    Mar 2 2012 – 10:14am

    If it were left up to all these inventive men to make babies on their own, there’d be no people in about 100 years…… quite an accomplishment those men would make!  ‘Course, if all the men (except me) went off on this quest to prove their, uh, manhood(?), well,……… Hey ladies: Wuz up?!

    Posted by Dogface
    Mar 2 2012 – 7:58am

    Dear plavmar: Unlike you, I have actually received the Nobel Peace Prize for my analysis of conservative old white men and their sexual mores. I am able to measure from their writings, speech, and abusive rhetoric just what their equipment is like and if and how they can use it. Your communications here tells that me your equipment is very small and most of the time ineffective. You are unsure of your place in life and dealing with the opposite sex completely unmans you, which makes you very angry. You need profession help. Viagra is useless in your case with the diminutive size of your equipment.  Please, get help.

    Posted by plavmar
    Mar 2 2012 – 9:49am

    Makes sense: a Nobel Peace Prize having been given to someone for analyzing “white men and their sexual mores” and maybe even dropping cliches like “please, get help” in public forums.

    Posted by ricardohead
    Mar 1 2012 – 11:23pm

    And what, as a matter of logic, does that have to do with the current attempt to deny these things to women? Looks like you believe that since men gave these things to women, they have the right to take them back. It would be much simpler if we all just went back to the Dark Ages.

    Posted by plavmar
    Mar 1 2012 – 11:35pm

    I never said I agreed with the conservatives pictured in the story above.

    All I did was point out that the editors of CD love to slam men. They can’t help themselves. Every other day there’s another silly article about “middle-aged men” this and “white men” that, as if all white men and middle-aged men thought and acted alike. That’s what you call prejudice.

    Posted by PostScarcityAna…
    Mar 2 2012 – 8:07am

    plavmar-Fuck you.  Your childish argument is facile and callous.  In case you missed it- Fuck you.

    Posted by pwayne
    Mar 2 2012 – 8:41am

    Yes, poor beleaguered men.  Imagine if they had the same opportunities as women, or wielded the same power.  Imagine if men ruled the world.  Then women would see that men really do know what’s best for them–especially when it comes to reproductive health.  And the world would never be in the mess it’s in now. Men would never fiddle while Rome burned by, say, making an issue of birth control while the world at large collapsed around their ears.  Well, we can dream, can’t we.

    Really, I want to see examples that support your sweeping generalizations about “middle-aged men” and “white men” being criticized as a collective on CD.  Men being criticized specifically for their age and race, not for doing something mind-bogglingly stupid while incidentally being middle-aged or white.  I mean, if you’re going to make those assertions you should provide the examples up front.  Otherwise people might be skeptical.

    Posted by textynn
    Mar 2 2012 – 12:03am

    I can’t believe we are even having this backwards conversation.  I mean really.  I feel like I need to get legal protection against eminent domain for my lady parts.

    Posted by ubrew12
    Mar 2 2012 – 1:24am

    Why couldn’t they have passed it?  I’m an employer and I find it morally objectionable to pay for old people’s various surgeries and medications.  (/sarcasm)

    One Montana County’s Medicare-for-All Coverage June 28, 2011

    Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Montana.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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    Published on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by OtherWords

    As the Ryan Republicans try to destroy Medicare, here’s a prescription to clean up the whole mess.

      by  Kay Tillow

    Back when he presided over the Senate’s health care reform debate, Max Baucus, chairman of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee, had said everything was on the table — except for single-payer universal health care. When doctors, nurses, and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, the Montana Democrat had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, “We need more police.”

    Yet when Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in Libby, Montana and surrounding Lincoln County, he turned to the nation’s single-payer healthcare system, Medicare, to solve the problem.

    You see, a vermiculite mine had spread deadly airborne asbestos that killed hundreds and sickened thousands in Libby and northwest Montana. W.R. Grace & Co., which owned the mine, denied its connection to the outbreaks of mesothelioma and asbestosis and dodged responsibility for this disaster. The federal government got stuck with most of the tab for the cleanup costs, and the EPA has issued a first-of-its-kind order declaring Lincoln County a public health disaster.

    When all lawsuits and legal avenues failed, Baucus turned to Medicare.

    The single-payer plan that Baucus kept off the table in 2009 is now very much on the table in Libby. It turns out that Baucus quietly inserted a section into the Affordable Care Act that covers the suffering people of Libby, Montana. Medicare covers the whole community, not just the former miners.

    Residents of Libby don’t have to be 65 years old or more. They don’t have to wait until 2014 for the state exchanges. There’s no 10-year roll out for them — it’s immediate. They don’t have to purchase a plan — this isn’t a buy-in to Medicare. It’s free. They don’t have to be disabled for two years before they apply. They don’t have to go without care for three years until Medicaid expands. They don’t have to meet income tests. They don’t have to apply for a subsidy or pay a fine for failure to buy insurance. They don’t have to hope that the market will make a plan affordable or hide their pre-existing conditions. They don’t have to find a job that provides coverage.

    Baucus simply inserted a clause into the health care reform law to make special arrangements for them in Medicare.

    No one should begrudge the people of Lincoln County, where toxic mine waste was used as soil additives, home insulation, and even spread on the running tracks at local schools. Miners brought carcinogens home on their clothes.

    “The people of Libby have been poisoned and have been dying for more than a decade,” Baucus explained in a New York Times interview. “New residents continue to get sick all the time. Public health tragedies like this could happen in any town in America. We need this type of mechanism to help people when they need it most.”

    But health tragedies are happening in every American town. Over 51 million have no insurance. and over 45,000 uninsured people die needlessly each year. Employers are cutting coverage and dropping plans. States in economic crisis are slashing both Medicaid and their employees’ plans.

    Nothing in Obama’s health care law will mitigate the skyrocketing costs. More than half of us, including tens of millions of insured Americans, now go without necessary care. As Baucus said of Medicare, “We need this mechanism to help people when they need it most.” We all need it now.

    So as the Ryan Republicans try to destroy Medicare and far too many Democrats use the deficit excuse to suggest other ways to tear the social safety net apart, Libby offers a prescription to clean up the whole mess. Only single-payer universal health care — improved Medicare for all — can save and protect Medicare, rein in skyrocketing health care costs, and give us universal coverage.

    Medicare was implemented within less than a year of its 1965 passage. When Congress passes a national single-payer bill, we can all be enrolled in the twinkling of an eye.

    A longer version of this commentary first appeared on Firedoglake.

    <!–

    –>

    Kay Tillow

    Kay Tillow is the coordinator of the All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care, which builds union support for H.R. 676. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky. www.unionsforsinglepayer.org

    Canada May Have the Cure For US’s Medicare Ailment June 21, 2011

    Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Economic Crisis, Health.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
    1 comment so far

    Roger’s note: A few FACTS about the Canadian Health Care System to counter the lies put forward by the shameless Tea Party and other right-wing Republican Evangelical types.  (1) users have absolute right to choose their physicians; (2) to make the system more efficient, one needs to be referred to a specialist by her family physician; (3) some provinces have community clinics where one can join — at no cost, of course — and receive care from salaried health care professionals (doctors on salary, can you imagine such a radical notion?!?); the founder of the Canadian Health Care System, Tommy Douglas, was voted the greatest Canadian of all times in a poll conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Company; (4) the rumours about long waits for service have a grain of truth to them, but this is not because of a flaw in the system; rather it is due to right-wing provincial governments reducing funding; but in emergency situations care is not delayed.  I am a Canadian, and I have lived under both the US and Canadian health care systems, and there is absolutely no question which is more efficient and humane.  The Canadian system of early intervention at no cost to the patient or her family saved the life of my two-year old daughter when she had spinal meningitis.  When my father visited us in Canada from the States and took ill, I brought him to the office of my family physician, who treated him.  The office, however, was stumped as to what to do about payment.  They never had to collect money before and didn’t know what to do with it.  In Canada, you go to the doctor or laboratory and present you health card.  No money changes hands.  No co-payments.  Imagine!

    Tuesday 21 June 2011

    by: Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.         | Op-Ed

    Crystal Bentley is examined by Dr. Tom Novak at a clinic in Oshawa, Canada. (Photo: Donald Weber for The New York Times)

     

    I keep hearing people say that Medicare in its current form is not sustainable in the United States, as if that were an established fact. It’s anything but.

    What is Medicare? It’s single-payer coverage for the elderly.

    Other countries have single-payer systems that are much cheaper than ours — and also much cheaper than private insurance in America. So there’s nothing about the form that makes Medicare unsustainable, unless you think that health care itself is unsustainable.

    What is true is that American Medicare is expensive compared to, say, Canadian Medicare (yes, that’s what they call their system) or the French health care system (which is complicated, but largely single-payer in its essentials); that’s because American-style Medicare is very open-ended, reluctant to say no to paying for medically dubious procedures, and also fails to make use of its pricing power over drugs and other items. So Medicare will have to start saying no; it will have to provide incentives to move away from fee-for-service, and so on and so forth. But such changes would not mean a fundamental change in the way Medicare works.

    Of course, what the people who say things like “Medicare is unsustainable” usually mean is that it must be privatized, converted into a voucher system, or whatever. The thing is, none of those changes would make the system more efficient — on the contrary.

    So this business about Medicare in its present form being unsustainable sounds wise but is actually a stupid slogan. The solution to the future of Medicare is Medicare — smarter, less open-ended, but recognizably the same program.

    Medicare Sustainability

    Just a further data note. Canada’s Medicare is actually a lot like Medicare in the United States, but less open-ended and more serious about cost control. Here’s a chart showing Canadian spending on health versus American spending, both as percentages of gross domestic product.

    Health Care Spending, USA and Canada

    Hmm. Canadian Medicare looks pretty sustainable, especially as compared to the American system, which has much more private insurance.

    Now, Canadian health care isn’t perfect — but it’s not bad, and Canadians are happier with their system than we are with ours in the United States. So anyone who tells you that Medicare as we know it — a single-payer system that covers everyone over a certain age — is unsustainable is ignoring the clear evidence that other countries somehow manage to make similar systems quite sustainable.

     

    Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed page and continues as a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. He was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2008.

    Mr Krugman is the author or editor of 20 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes, including “The Return of Depression Economics” (2008) and “The Conscience of a Liberal” (2007). Copyright 2011 The New York Times.

    Single-Payer in Vermont, A State of Healthy Firsts May 26, 2011

    Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Vermont.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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    Published on Thursday, May 26, 2011 by TruthDig.com

      by  Amy Goodman

    Vermont is a land of proud firsts. This small, New England state was the first to join the 13 Colonies. Its constitution was the first to ban slavery. It was the first to establish the right to free education for all — public education.

    Today, Vermont will boast another first: the first state in the nation to offer single-payer health care, which eliminates the costly insurance companies that many believe are the root cause of our spiraling health care costs. In a single-payer system, both private and public health care providers are allowed to operate, as they always have. But instead of the patient or the patient’s private health insurance company paying the bill, the state does.

    It’s basically Medicare for all — just lower the age of eligibility to the day you’re born. The state, buying these health care services for the entire population, can negotiate favorable rates, and can eliminate the massive overhead that the for-profit insurers impose.

    Vermont hired Harvard economist William Hsiao to come up with three alternatives to the current system. The single-payer system, Hsiao wrote, “will produce savings of 24.3 percent of total health expenditure between 2015 and 2024.”

    An analysis by Don McCanne, M.D., of Physicians for a National Health Program, pointed out that “these plans would cover everyone without any increase in spending since the single-payer efficiencies would be enough to pay for those currently uninsured or under-insured. So this is the really good news — single payer works.”

    Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin explained to me his intention to sign the bill into law: “Here’s our challenge. Our premiums go up 10, 15, 20 percent a year. This is true in the rest of the country as well. They are killing small business. They’re killing middle-class Americans, who have been kicked in the teeth over the last several years. What our plan will do is create a single pool, get the insurance company profits, the pharmaceutical company profits, the other folks that are mining the system to make a lot of money on the backs of our illnesses, and ensure that we’re using those dollars to make Vermonters healthy.”

    Speaking of healthy firsts, Vermont may become the first state to shutter a nuclear power plant. The Vermont Legislature is the first to empower itself with the right to determine its nuclear future, to put environmental policy in the hands of the people.

    Another Vermont first was the legalization of same-sex civil unions. Then the state trumped itself and became the first legislature in the nation to legalize gay marriage. After being passed by the Vermont House and Senate, former Gov. Jim Douglas vetoed the bill. The next day, April 7, 2009, the House and the Senate overrode the governor’s veto, making the Vermont Freedom to Marry Act the law of the land.

    Vermont has become an incubator for innovative public policy.

    Canada’s single-payer health care system started as an experiment in one province, Saskatchewan. It was pushed through in the early 1960s by Saskatchewan’s premier, Tommy Douglas, considered by many to be the greatest Canadian. It was so successful, it was rapidly adopted by all of Canada. (Douglas is the grandfather of actor Kiefer Sutherland.)

    Perhaps Vermont’s health care law will start a similar, national transformation. The anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Just replace “group” with “state,” and you’ve got Vermont.

    Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

    © 2011 Amy Goodman

    <!–

    –>

    Amy Goodman

    Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 900 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

    Sometimes men should just stick to football… but I digress May 5, 2011

    Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Women.
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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    Roger’s note: from time to time when I feel the need for a boost to my spirits, I go to www.margaretandhelen.wordpress.com.  The cover photo itself is worth the price of admission.  I usually, not always, agree with Helen.  For one thing I cannot understand her ongoing love affair with Obama, who has long shown his true colors.  Nevertheless, Helen writes with a flolksy charm and wit, and, above all, pulls no punches.  She is a tough old gal, and Sarah Palin is not one of her favorite people.  She’s not that crazy about Fox News either.  Check her out.   Read on …

    Margaret, I read the comment you sent me and felt compelled to respond.  I know you don’t like it when I do, but honey you know how I feel about this particular subject.

    Dear Readers,

    In case you are new to my web page blog, I’ll give you a little background.  I told my friend Margaret that I thought Sarah Palin was a bitch… is a bitch.  Anyway, my grandson really hadn’t fully explained to me that other people could see this page besides Margaret. Which is kind of funny because Margaret actually has to have her husband, Howard, print the pages out for her to read because she doesn’t like computers very much….

    But I digress.

    So I kept writing about things and more people kept stopping by. Just yesterday I was telling Margaret that I find it very odd that Republicans think government is too big and healthcare for all Americans is just insane.  It doesn’t seem to matter that it would cost less than Bush’s wars… but that would just be unAmerican of me to suggest…afterall Sarah Palin’s son is in that war…

    Again, I digress.

     I find it odd because I know that Rick Perry, the Governor of my state, is really upset about how big government has gotten.  Evidently it’s not big enough, however, because ‘ole Ricky seems to think its small enough to crawl up my vagina with a sonogram machine and a recorder so that Ricky can tell me how to think based on what God whispers in his ear when no one else is around.  To be truthful, it could just be something he picked up in church.  I’m not sure.  It might have happened at his office.  It’s really hard to tell the difference between his office and his church these days.

    I just can’t seem to stay on subject today…

    So that is what I was writing about to my friend Margaret.  And then she had Howard print out my letter and some of your comments.   Sometimes – like last night – she calls me because she gets so worried when one of you gets a little upset.  But I tell her, “Margaret, dear. It’s just the internet.  It’s not like anyone forces them to read it.”  But Margaret worries.  She just wants everyone to get along.  You know.  Agree to disagree and things like that.  Which would be nice except that Governor Ricky wants to pass some new laws.  And once that happens you can’t just agree to disagree.  Once it becomes law if you disagree you have to spend a lot of money with lawyers or go to jail.

    But I digress.

    So last night some fool  (sorry Margaret) named Noah decided to call you all sheep because you seemed to like what I had written about Ricky.  I wasn’t aware sheep could read, and I have always thought that too often used insult about following like sheep is a bit far-reaching.  Yes.  Survival instincts in sheep tend to mean that one sheep will more than likely follow the sheep in front.  Did you know, however, there is a certain strain of sheep in Iceland known as leadersheep?  Leadersheep are highly intelligent animals that have the instinct to lead a flock home during dangerous and difficult conditions. They have an exceptional ability to sense danger. There are many stories in Iceland of leadersheep saving lives during the fall roundups when blizzards threatened shepherds and flocks alike…

    But I digress.

    Among other things, Noah decided to leave a little pearl of personal wisdom in his not so well thought out diatribe:

    __________

    With my wife being almost 7 months pregnant this subject really touches home for me so I can understand the passionate feelings from both sides of the issue. Having gone to the first ultrasound I could never have made a choice to abort the child for any reason. I can understand why the governor wants to have women have that firsthand experience of hearing that heartbeat, it is very powerful. I guess I don’t see a problem if what he is suggesting isn’t stopping all abortions, which he is not and I would be opposed to if he was.

    __________

    Well isn’t that just precious?  Noah is particularly knowledgeable about this subject because his wife is 7 months pregnant.  Congratulations Noah.  I know my readers will join me in wishing you and your family all the best.  You’re almost there: two more months to go.

    I assume your wife had her amniotic fluid test and that everything turned out fine?  It’s a scary time those first few months.  Did you know that if you and your wife learned through the amniocentesis that something had gone terribly wrong with the developing fetus that one of your options might be to terminate the pregnancy?  Sometimes the abnormality of the fetus is significant.  Survival of both the fetus and the mother can be called into question.  [By the way.  I am using the word fetus not to dehumanize but rather because that is what it is called - a fetus] Often women facing this type of heartbreak consult with their doctors, their family members and even their pastor.  I am sure more than a few say a prayer and ask for wisdom.  Did you know, Noah, that if your wife was in that situation and she decided to terminate her pregnancy good ‘ole Rick Perry would still force her to look at a sonogram and listen to a heartbeat so that she can agonize further that the child she wanted so desperately isn’t to be.  I wonder how comforting you would be to her at that moment.  “Look, honey.   I can understand why the governor wants to have women have that firsthand experience of hearing that heartbeat, it is very powerful.”  Thank goodness that you and your wife are not dealing with that.

    And I assume, of course, that the child due to arrive in two months is your child?  How blessed for you and your family.  Did you know that if your wife had been raped and subsequently discovered that she was pregnant,  she may not even want to consult with her family, her priest or even her God.  She may want nothing more than to simply ask her doctor to end the unwanted pregnancy so that maybe she can begin to heal from this traumatic experience.  Thank goodness that isn’t your situation Noah.  Can you imagine how horrible it would for a women like your wife in this moment of sadness, anger, disbelief, denial to have Rick Perry then force her to reconsider by showing her a sonogram and letting her listen to a heartbeat.  She’ll have to sign a paper declaring that she watched and listened and still decided to terminate the pregnancy. 

    Even worse, Noah.  Imagine if that woman was your daughter.  Do you know the sex of your child yet?  What a world she will get to grow up in.  So very different from your childhood or even mine.  You were there at the invention of the internet.  I was there at the invention of the television.  I also grew up in a world where abortions were illegal Noah.  I watched women die because they had no choices.  You realize that Rick Perry wants that world back, right?  This nonsense about abortions should only be legal in the case of rape or the life of the mother… what a crock.  The world is never so black and white.

    But that is not for you Noah.  No. This is a time of great joy and celebration for you and your wife.  Thank goodness.  Some women struggle with the idea of motherhood.  They know deep down inside that bringing a life into this world is a blessing yes – but  also an enormous responsibility and for some the ultimate sacrifice.  To know that another life will depend entirely on your ability to find it within yourself to love so selflessly and care so deeply.  To give birth is not to be taken lightly, Noah.  Some women, after very serious consideration about where they are in life and what they can and can’t offer to a child, decide that they are just not prepared to bring another life into the world.  And after much thought and prayer and probably tears, they still have  Rick Perry there to given them even more to consider.  Thank goodness for thoughtful ‘ole Ricky.

    But not you Noah.  Thank goodness you and your wife have made the decision that this is a wanted child… that this will be a loved child… that you have the means to feed and care for this child.   I am sure Rick Perry will be sending you a bouquet of flowers after the delivery to show you how much he cares about the very personal decision you have made.  I hear that just the other day, Rick sent a letter of congratulations to the woman who just delivered her 5th child because her husband feels that using condoms are a sin.  Good ‘ole Rick.  I think his letter said something along the lines of don’t worry about where you will get the money to feed the child because you chose life and that is all that matters.  Good ‘ole Ricky even sent her one of those lovely Choose Life license plates.  She doesn’t own a car, but it’s the thought that counts.

    Noah dear.  Stick to football.  And Mrs. Noah?  Slap him for me.   He really should spend more time tending to you rather than writing to me.  But I digress.   I mean it.  Really.

    Vt. Senate gives final nod to universal health care bill in 21-9 vote April 30, 2011

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    Roger’s note:  I confess that I don’t understand the ins and outs of Obama’s Byzantine insurance industry dominated health care legislation, or how a Vermont single payer universal coverage plan can occur in that context.  As a Canadian, however, I cannot but think of Tommy Douglas.  Tommy Douglas was a clergyman and an unrepentant socialist who happened to be the Premier of the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan in the 1950s.  Against massive resistance and fears of economic collapse, he introduced universal health care into the province, which became the catalyst for its adoption by the entire country.  The domino theory at work.  Do Canadians value their system of single payer universal health insurance?   Would they support going back to private health care?  In 2004 the CBC polled Canadians on who what the greatest Canadian of all time.  Tommy Douglas won hands down.  We can only hope that what the governor and senate have now accomplished in Vermont will be more than symbolic, that it will introduce genuine universal coverage where no one is left unprotected and health care costs come under control through the limitation of windfall profits by private insurers.  Americans will then see what they are missing and demand single payer universal health care on a national basis.  I love what Dr. Richter said: You go for what you want, not for what you think you might get – that’s what the bill does.  Would that that great advocate of change you can believe in, Barack Obama, had had the courage to do just that instead of compromising the principled position of universal care from the very beginning of the congressional process.

    by Anne Galloway | April 27, 2011

    In a historic vote on Tuesday, the Vermont Legislature created the enabling legislation for a first-in-the-nation universal health care system. The state Senate approved the visionary plan for a single-payer system in a 21-9 vote after four hours of debate. The split was largely along party lines.

    Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, campaigned on a promise to create a single-payer system in Vermont that would contain health care costs and give all of the state’s residents universal access to medical care. On Tuesday, Shumlin made good on the first step toward fulfilling that promise, and just five hours after the Senate vote, he marked the legislative victory in an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

    Shumlin said in a statement to the Vermont press: “Today the Legislature took a huge step toward making Vermont the first state in the first in the nation to control skyrocketing health care costs and remove the burden of providing health care coverage from small business owners. This bill is good for Vermonters and Vermont businesses.

    Many Vermont businesses, however, believe otherwise. Though small employers have said they will benefit, some larger employers actively lobbied against the bill. Opponents of H.202 argued that the legislation would leave businesses in the lurch during the transition period between 2013 and 2014 when the state is required under federal law to participate in insurance exchanges. The opposition was led by insurance brokers (the Fleischer Jacobs Group, Business Resource Specialists), business associations (Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Vermont Grocers’ Association and Vermont Retailers Association), large employers (Dealer.com, Biotek, Rhino Foods and IBM). The Senate debate on Monday and Tuesday centered on changes to the legislation that would have made it more palatable to these groups.

    Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R/D-Essex Orleans, who proposed two amendments that would have made the bill more business friendly, said companies are afraid “we will end up with a plan most won’t be able to afford.”

    The legislation sets the state’s health care system on a new trajectory. Instead of continuing to use an insurance model for covering the cost of care, the bill moves the state toward an integrated payment system that would be controlled by a quasi judicial board and administered by a third party entity. The system would be funded through a broad-based tax.

    The universal health care system would be implemented in 2014, if it clears 10 very high hurdles, including the receipt of a federal waiver. Otherwise it wouldn’t kick in until 2017.

    Longtime single-payer advocate Dr. Deb Richter was ecstatic about the Senate passage of the bill.

    “I’m absolutely thrilled,” Richter said. “It’s one of the best days of my life. I’ve given 400 speeches over the last 10 years and it feels like the work was worth it. We have a ways to go, but this is a step in the right direction.”

    A universal health care system is the only way to cover everyone and contain costs, Richter said.

    The passage of H.202 marks the first time any state in the country has attempted to provide universal care and a cost containment system that addresses administrative costs, hospital budgeting and uniform payments to doctors, Richter said.

    Whether the federal government will give Vermont a waiver to adopt a universal health care system in 2014 is an open question. Richter said the state has a 50-50 chance of getting the exemption from the Affordable Care Act. Even so, she believes Vermont’s attempt to create a single-payer system is worthwhile.

    “You go for what you want, not for what you think you might get – that’s what the bill does,” Richter said.

    The Senate debate focused on the state’s implementation of the insurance exchanges that are required under federal law. The Affordable Care Act has mandated that states provide an actuarial value for insurance products (the insurance equivalent of a per unit price mechanism that allows consumers to compare the cost of on the shelf grocery items). The federal government has set up very general guidelines for the actuarial levels for insurance products insurers must provide under the exchange. The idea is to create an easy system for comparison between health insurance benefit plans that offer a dizzying array of deductibles, co-insurance, co-pays and premiums. The products, under the federal requirements, range from bronze (60 percent actuarial value) to silver (70 percent), gold (80 percent) and platinum (90 percent). It also puts minimum requirements on the “qualifying plans.” Many of these mandates are already in Vermont law. Insurers, for example, are not allowed to “cherry pick” consumers who are healthy and create pools without a cross-section of the sick and healthy populations.

    Read this summary of the ACA requirements from Kaiser Foundation.

    The Affordable Care Act requires individuals without insurance to buy into the exchange or face a $695 fine. Families of four with incomes of less than $88,700 qualify for tax credits. Businesses with more than 50 employees that do not buy insurance face a penalty of $2,000 per worker.

    The fight between employers and proponents of H.202 was about the potential for mandatory inclusion of businesses that have between 50 and 100 workers in the exchange. Sens. Hinda Miller, D-Chittenden, and Illuzzi argued that requiring companies of that size to participate in the exchange could jeopardize their economic viability. Employers in that range tend not to self-insure and so are not protected under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

    The federal law allows states some flexibility. States can decide what benefit plan levels can be offered, for example. They can also determine the size of the businesses that must be included in the exchange. The Shumlin administration pushed for intent language in the bill that could have led to the inclusion of businesses with 50 to 100 employees into the exchange. Proponents of H.202 have said it’s important to include these 28,000 workers in the state’s insurance exchange in order to build toward a single-payer system.

    An amendment proposed by Sen. Diane Snelling, R-Chittenden, and approved by the Senate struck the intent language. The Green Mountain Care board, which will oversee the health care reform effort including the exchanges, is charged with producing a report that would outline the impact of excluding the 50-100 employee group on the exchange, which the Shumlin administration wants to use as a stepping stone toward the single-payer system.

    Illuzzi proposed two amendments that would have forced the state to include a broader array of insurance carriers in the exchange, would have specifically allowed health savings accounts and high deductible plans under the exchange and would have allowed “nonqualified” plans outside the exchange. H.202 allows for two carriers.

    “Let’s not kid ourselves it will be more than one carrier,” Illuzzi said on the Senate floor. “It will likely be Blue Cross Blue Shield. It will be two carriers in name only. Both will be required to offer same (plans). It will be a change without a difference.”

    Anya Rader Wallack, Shumlin’s special assistant on health care, said she was impressed by the Legislature.

    “A lot of people worked very hard educating themselves in a short period of time,” Wallack said. “This isn’t simple stuff. I was impressed with the amount of effort both bodies have put into this.”

    The Shumlin administration was heavily involved in drafting the bill, H.202. By the time the legislation reached final passage it had changed somewhat from its original incarnation, which was based in part on recommendations from Professor William Hsiao, the renowned Harvard economist who created a single payer system for Taiwan.

    Sen. Claire Ayer talks with Anya Rader Wallack and Robin Lunge before Monday's session. VTD/Josh LarkinSen. Claire Ayer talks with Anya Rader Wallack and Robin Lunge before Monday’s session. VTD/Josh Larkin

    Over the next year, the Shumlin administration will hire a director of health care reform and the chair of a quasi-judicial board. The board would be in place by January 2012 and would begin the arduous task of sorting through the maze of federal laws, waivers, benefits, provider reimbursements, system financing and cost containment options.

    H.202 will be read in the House Health Care Committee on Wednesday morning. Rep. Mark Larson, D-Burlington, said he expects the bill will go to conference committee in several days. He expects to have no major beefs with the Senate version.

    “The core composition of the bill remains identical to what passed in the House,” Larson said. “There are differences between the two bills but they are things we can work out.”

    Larson said those details include a change in the dynamic of the board. “We want to make sure it’s an independent board.”

    He also referred to the so-called “Mullin” amendment, which set conditions for implementation of Green Mountain Care, the single-payer style system that would be created under H.202. Larson said he thinks the new criteria for the implementation standards need to be more clearly defined.

    “It has to be clear what hurdle has to be overcome,” Larson said.

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