Re: Health Care

Postby vbattaile » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:44 am

We are frozen by what is pragmatic and feasible
mySanAntonio.com

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/opi ... 374479.php

Neoliberalism is about liberalizing the economy, easing up some, if not altogether, on free trade and open markets. It involves privatization, deregulation and bolstering the role of the private sector.

This has not worked so well lately. The signs: Wage stagnation or erosion and upward mobility less pronounced here than in social democracies. See, Texas.


Timothy Weaver, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville, had me at “the dead weight of pragmatism and feasibility.”

His point is that most “solutions,” liberal or otherwise, factor in neoliberalism as immutable. Change then occurs within a framework of what is pragmatic and feasible — resulting, perhaps, in improvement only at the margins.

“It may be perfectly true that just outcomes are not feasible in the short term, but it does not follow that incremental changes within neoliberalism are tantamount to justice,” he wrote. “This will mean pushing for changes which will appear, almost by definition, politically infeasible in the short term.”

Of course, you need not look any further than Obamacare, which rejected a more equitable single-payer system as not doable, in favor of keeping private insurers staunchly in the game.


Weaver advocated a new basis for solution — “social citizenship.” He quotes 20th-century sociologist T.H. Marshall. It means “the whole range from the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in the society.”

Oh, what to do? This brings us to another presenter, David Imbroscio, also of the University of Louisville. In a panel tasked with envisioning a “new politics for urban America,” post Obama, he raised the possibility of a populist movement that is neither Republican nor Democrat, liberal nor conservative. It would reflect the true division — a governing elite heavily invested in status quo versus the rest of us. He noted that the tea party got this right early on after the “too big to fail” bailouts. Then it veered into now familiar tangents.

Class warfare? OK, if you prefer; but an aggrieved class larger than supposed, its members having more in common than they've been led to believe. Can this “class warfare” be any worse than what we have: conflict that is all deadlock but no solution because members of this broad “class” are pitted against one another, those at the top prospering?

No, not Marxism. Keep it simple; recognition that those not prospering can share an agenda.

There are impediments; ideological rigidity that breeds disdain for one another, abetted by those who benefit from the division. But also “the dead weight of pragmatism and feasibility.”

If we are frozen by what's “impossible,” possible never happens.
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Re: Health Care

Postby vbattaile » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:55 pm

Fuller: The Bible shalt not dictate health benefits
Roanoke Times-4 Apr 2014

Religion is obstructing our lives in areas in which it has no business interfering.

The latest impediment slathered with religious liberty is the case of Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, as in Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services. Hobby Lobby, founded by fundamental Christian David Green, does not want to pay for insurance to provide the "morning after pill" and the "week after pill," both mandated under the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds that it is contrary to the corporation's religious beliefs. The corporation views the contraceptive medication as tantamount to abortion because it believes that life begins at conception, when the egg is fertilized.

Indeed, Hobby Lobby is contending that provisions of the ACA are stepping on its religious principles and wants to be exempted from the mandate regarding these pills. It has no objection to other lists of contraceptives included in the bill.

If this issue were just about Hobby Lobby's religious convictions regarding only these drugs, the Supreme Count case might not be very important.

But the implications for the nation if the court agrees with Hobby Lobby (Conestoga Wood Specialties and Autocam Corp. are also named in the suit) are horrendous.

In a March 31 article published in Forbes, Jon O'Brien, president of the pro-choice faith group Catholics for Choice, said, "Religious freedom is a bogus argument by those who want to use religion to discriminate." Catholics for Choice took out a full-page ad in The Washington Post last week asking, "What's happening to the separation of church and state?"

O'Brien went on to say, "The idea that a corporation has a conscience is for many of us completely ridiculous. It's granting power to business owners with extremist religious beliefs."

The bottom line is that religion has no place in issues of this sort. Religion is, as it has been for time immemorial, an excuse to break the law, kill people, conquer people and land, and refuse to help people in need. For all its fundamental Christian ideals, Hobby Lobby and the others involved conveniently play the religion card but forget that their Messiah turned no one away for any reason. They're not Christ-like; they are capitalist opportunists hiding behind religion for their own gain.

Religion of any flavor is menacing when used by people to harm others or to shield themselves from public censure.

Invoking religion as an excuse usually stops disagreement: "God told me to do it" is the universal reason why it's all right to do evil. Isn't it interesting that we can criticize most anything except religion?

We can condemn politics and politicians, harp about the use of public funds, but go after religion and we're denounced as attackers of a god. Why should religion get a pass?

Homosexuality, which is not a problem, is made a problem by religion. Homosexuals are murdered in places throughout the world. Surprisingly, America is further advanced relative to homosexuality than much of the rest of the world. Fred Phelps is dead, but his specter remains in many Americans who condemn homosexuality on the grounds that God hates it.

Yes, the Bible does have passages condemning homosexuality, but until we see the Bible for what it is - a repository of myths that many want to believe are facts - we will continue to see it used to refuse people their rights. Why should we take orders from a book that dates to the Bronze Age?

We are in the 21st century. It is time for all gods, particularly Yahweh, to join the pantheon of Greek deities as interesting creations, but hardly relevant.

http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/fuller-t ... b2370.html
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Re: Health Care

Postby vbattaile » Mon Apr 07, 2014 10:16 pm

Bipartisan assault on health care intensifies in US

By Andre Damon
7 April 2014

Last week, US Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican Budget Committee chairman from Wisconsin, presented a budget proposal that would slash $5.1 trillion in government spending over the next decade, with the great majority of the cuts coming from health care spending.

The plan includes a proposal for a voucher system for Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly. This would be a major step toward the dismantling of the program by turning it into a government subsidy to buy private health insurance.

The White House and Congressional Democrats were quick to denounce the proposal. The White House said in a statement that the proposal would “end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program and risking a death spiral in traditional Medicare.” Obama likewise made a denunciation of the Republican budget the centerpiece of his weekly video address Saturday.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, offered a vituperative denunciation of the deal, calling it “the Republican declaration of class warfare—it protects the elites at the expense of the rest of the country.”

What neither Obama nor Congressional Democrats mention is the fact that the Ryan budget, while vowing to repeal sections of the Affordable Care Act, in fact uses the cuts to Medicare implemented under the White House’s signature health care law as a starting point. The legislation, commonly known as Obamacare, cuts Medicare funding by some $500 billion through reduced compensation to doctors and hospitals.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act includes some $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage, the private alternative to Medicare Parts A and B, which was implemented under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this would constitute a 5.9 percent funding cut to the program, raising premiums for beneficiaries by between $35 to $75 a month. The White House is due to announce its final proposal for next year’s cuts to Medicare Advantage on Monday.

The parallels between Obama’s Affordable Care Act and Ryan’s proposal go much deeper. While the White House and its Democratic and pseudo-left apologists strenuously avoid calling Obamacare a voucher system, this is precisely what it is. It is a requirement that individuals buy private insurance, with inadequate subsidies, or face a penalty. Its implementation is in fact a model for privatizing Medicare itself.

As always, the Republican proposal will also become the benchmark for negotiations between the two big business parties, shifting the entire framework of political discussion even further to the right.

An ever-greater section of the population is coming to the conclusion that the Affordable Care Act constitutes a handout to major insurance companies, an attack on bedrock social programs and a pretext for companies to drop their existing health insurance coverage.

The passage of Obamacare has also set the stage for a significant number of Fortune 500 companies—including Target, Home Depot, Trader Joe’s and Forever 21—to eliminate health care coverage for their employees. In his new book, Reinventing American Health Care, former White House advisor Ezekiel J. Emanuel concludes that the Affordable Care Act sets the stage for “the end of employer-sponsored health insurance,” and that “by 2025 few private-sector employers will still be providing health insurance.”

While the White House has delayed elements of the Affordable Care Act affecting businesses, it has made absolutely clear that it will not budge on the so-called individual mandate, which forces any uninsured person who does not sign up on the health care exchanges, or lapses in their payments, to pay a fine of $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is higher. The penalty increases to 2 percent of income in 2015 and 2.5 percent of income in 2016. For a worker making $25,000 per year, the 2016 fine will amount to $625 per year.

Those who have purchased coverage under the Obamacare exchanges have found that the most affordable plans carry deductibles as high as $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for families, which must be paid in full before most coverage kicks in. The average premium under the Affordable Care Act is $328 a month.

Once individuals purchase an Obamacare insurance plan, they are effectively locked in, with almost no ability to change their coverage if they are not satisfied. Now, with over 7 million customers signed up, insurers are reporting that they are planning significant increases in the premiums they are charging.

Last month, the Hill reported, citing anonymous health insurance providers, that “ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country.” The newspaper reported one insurance official who “said his company expects to triple its rates next year.”

Just a few weeks later, WellPoint Inc., a major health insurance provider under the Affordable Care Act, predicted “double-digit-plus” rate increases. “On a year-over-year basis on our exchanges, and it will vary by carrier, but all of them will probably be in double-digit plus,” said one of the company’s executives in an investor meeting last month.

Chet Burrell, chief executive officer of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, reemphasized this point, telling Reuters last week, “I do think that it’s likely premium rate shocks are coming.”

The bipartisan character of the attack on health care is an expression of the fact that, for all the supposed “partisan gridlock” in American politics, the Democratic and Republican parties are entirely united in their plans to gut Medicare, eliminate employer-based health care, and create an even more class-based health care system, in which the poor and working people are barred from access to lifesaving medical treatment.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04 ... l-a07.html
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Re: Health Care

Postby vbattaile » Tue Apr 08, 2014 1:02 pm

Don't Buy The Administration's Spin On Exchange Enrollment Figures
Forbes

The open enrollment period for Obamacare’s insurance exchanges drew to a close last Monday. Sort of. The administration had previously announced that folks who were unable to enroll by the deadline because of technical difficulties would have until April 15 to sign up. Thirteen of the 14 states with their own exchanges followed suit.

But a day after the “official deadline,” April Fool’s Day, the administration held what amounted to a victory celebration at the White House to gloat about exceeding its goal of seven million enrollees — by hitting 7.1 million sign-ups.

At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama boasted that “the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth in the cost of insurance is down.”

The seven million sign-ups seemed an unlikely success for the Obama Administration, following months of technical difficulties that made the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, nearly inaccessible. The site was down for six hours the morning of March 31. Several state exchanges, including those in Maryland, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Oregon, have been even more dysfunctional.

But the administration’s celebration is premature. A closer look at the enrollment figures shows that the exchanges haven’t expanded coverage — or increased affordability — to the degree the president’s team claims.

First off, the total number of sign-ups does not matter nearly as much as how many enrollees have actually paid their first premium. That initial payment activates their coverage. Without it, exchange enrollees don’t actually have insurance.


The administration has not released comprehensive information on how many people have made these activating premium payments. But several independent investigators have.

Last week, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association — whose constituent insurers are active in nearly every state — announced that 15 to 20 percent of its enrollees hadn’t paid their first premium.

Another group of insurers reported something similar in March — that one-fifth of people who had signed up had yet to pay their first premium. A separate analysis from the consultancy McKinsey & Company puts that figure even higher, at 47 percent.

Even more important than the number of enrollees — or the number of paying customers — is the composition of the exchange pool. The exchanges need a substantial number of younger, healthier patients paying premiums to offset the costs associated with covering older, sicker folks — especially because premiums for older people are capped at three times what the young pay.

If the demographic mix isn’t right — that is, if there aren’t enough young enrollees to subsidize the costs posed by the old — the exchanges could become insolvent. Insurers would have to raise premiums for everyone to avoid losses. That could cause people to drop their coverage.

If that cycle repeats, the exchanges will be in a “death spiral,” with premiums rapidly increasing and coverage rates declining.

The administration projected that it’d need 40 percent of enrollees to be between the ages of 18 and 34 for the exchanges’ finances to work properly. But the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that just 25 percent of exchange customers are between 18 and 34 years old. Sixty-nine percent are 35 years of age and older.

There’s also mounting evidence that many of the seven million enrollees were not actually uninsured — that they had insurance before signing up through the exchanges. McKinsey and Company found that seven out of ten of Obamacare’s new customers had health insurance before. Just 27 percent had been without.

The RAND Corporation indicates that less than 860,000 exchange enrollees both used to be uninsured and have paid at least their first month’s premium.

That’s well below expectations. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that nearly all exchange enrollees would be newly insured. And the agency’s initial scorecard on Obamacare projected that it would reduce the total number of uninsured by two-fifths in 2014.

The actual number of uninsured has declined by 12.5 percent this year — roughly one-third of what the CBO originally thought.

Meanwhile, of the nearly five million people who had their insurance policies cancelled because they did not meet Obamacare’s many mandates and restrictions on what counts as creditable coverage, nearly one million remain uninsured.

It’s no wonder, then, that 45 percent of the uninsured report having an unfavorable view of Obamacare. For many of them, it’s made coverage more expensive and less accessible.

Even the bona fide newly insured are getting a raw deal. Yes, they have coverage. But it’s far from “affordable.” Deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses are both higher than promised. And middle-income enrollees who don’t qualify for subsidies face significantly higher coverage costs.

During President Obama’s widely heralded appearance with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the online comedy talk show “Between Two Ferns” last month — the spear tip of his outreach campaign to youth — he said viewers should be able to purchase exchange coverage for the cost of a phone bill.

Hardly. The average monthly premium for a “silver” plan — the most popular kind — is about $240 for a 30-year-old, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And if that 30-year-old makes as little as $33,000 a year, he’ll have to make those payments without the benefit of a federal subsidy.

The White House hasn’t had many opportunities to pat itself on the back for Obamacare. Enrolling seven million people in coverage through the exchanges may seem like one of them. But a closer look at the numbers shows that it’s not.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sallypipes/ ... t-figures/
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Re: Health Care

Postby vbattaile » Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:50 am

This is the face of a crazed mad man! - Florida Governor Rick Scott Vote the republicans OUT! before we have a third world country here to live in!


http://www.pinterest.com/pin/96686723224944290/
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Re: Health Care

Postby vbattaile » Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:05 pm

Doyle McManus describes Obamacare sign-ups as "a significant political victory." Although the president takes satisfaction in forcing millions of Americans to enroll by force of law under the threat of penalties if they do not, that is hardly a political or moral accomplishment.

Nothing is too big to fail, as has been proved repeatedly in recent years. Even if that were the case for Obamacare, the law is being changed frequently by arbitrary presidential decree. If every failure is defined away by changing the law, nothing of Obamacare will survive except the growth of government power.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/la-le-04 ... z2yWltlBpU
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