Friday, October 02, 2009
Boehner Said He's Never Heard from a Supporter of Public Option - 202-225-6205
From Jon Ponder, at Pensito Review:
House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) told reporters yesterday that, based entirely on his empirical experience, there aren't any supporters of an optional government-run health-insurance plan. He said the government option is as "unpopular as a garlic milkshake." He also acknowledged that by making this claim, he was "inviting" the plan’s supporters to call him:
"I'm still trying to find the first American to talk to who’s in favor of the public option, other than a member of Congress or the administration. I've not talked to one, and I get to a lot of places and I've not had anyone come up to me — I know I'm inviting it — and lobby for the public option," Boehner said.
"This thing (the public option) is about as unpopular as a garlic milkshake," Boehner added, noting that he had not consumed such a milkshake.
As is usual for Bush-era Republicans, Boehner is either clueless or lying. Surely someone his staff has informed him that a Quinnipiac poll in Ohio two weeks ago found that Boehner’s home-staters are in favor of an optional government insurance plan, 57 percent to 35 percent.
Nationwide, the latest CBS News/New York Times poll found that 72 percent of Americans favor the government plan, while just 26 percent oppose it.
A SurveyUSA poll in late August found that 77 percent of Americans supported the government option.
If you're a supporter of the government plan, Leader Boehner needs to hear from you:
- Washington: 202-225-6205
- Butler County: 513-779-5400
- Miami County: 937-339-1524
From Pensito Review.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
GOP Politicians OK With Tax-Funded Health Care---But Only For Themselves
Contrary to what you might have heard, GOP politicians aren't opposed to all taxpayer-funded health care. For example, they've got no problem with the lavish, taxpayer-funded health care that they themselves receive as members of Congress. They just don't want anyone else in America to enjoy these generous benefits.
In fact, members of Congress get the finest health care in America---and it's mostly paid for by taxpayers.
I don't have a problem with Democratic politicians getting taxpayer-funded health care. After all, many of them are trying to extend such benefits to the rest of us.
But for GOP politicians to receive such lavish, taxpayer-supported health care while loudly opposing it for everyone else is, of course, stinking hypocrisy.
Amazingly, no Republican politician to my knowledge has ever admitted this glaring contradiction. None of them have ever demanded that their own health-care coverage be the same as what ordinary working stiffs get, out in the private sector. And nobody in the MSM ever bothers to call them out on this blatant hypocrisy.
Members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). They get a wide range of plans to choose from. They can also insure their spouses and dependents. There's no waiting period. And unlike the rest of us, no member of Congress has to worry about being denied coverage.
I've never heard of a member of Congress going bankrupt from medical bills. For the rest of us, the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in America is caused by medical bills. In fact, medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually. And even as GOP politicians enjoy generous health care benefits, they seem genuinely surprised at the notion that there's any kind of "crisis" going on with health care in America.
And here's something that GOP politicians would rather you not know: the government (i.e. you, the U.S. taxpayer) pays up to 75 percent of Congress members' health-care premiums, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
And as the St. Petersburg Times pointed out last year, members of Congress get other health-care benefits, as well, (funded by millions in taxpayer dollars):
Members of Congress have their own pharmacy, right in the Capitol. They also have a team of doctors, technicians and nurses standing by in case something busts in a filibuster. They can get a physical exam, an X-ray or an electrocardiogram, without leaving work.
GOP politicians think it's fine to enjoy taxpayer-funded health-care benefits. They just don't want these benefits for anyone else in America. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a GOP politician ranting away about how the government has no business being involved in health care.
If you think it's important that Americans have a strong public health insurance option this year, then consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Monday, May 05, 2008
More Americans Shun "Best Health-Care System In The World" To Have Surgeries Performed Overseas
America has the best health-care system in the world. (Or so we've been told, over and over, by our corporate media and many of our political leaders).
Hmmmm, that I guess this would explain why more and more Americans who need complex, major surgeries are going overseas to have them performed.
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
More who need major surgery are leaving U.S.
Robert Lupo of Santa Rosa had never been on an airplane until last month, when he flew to India to get his hip replaced.
The 45-year-old self-employed contractor had dropped his Kaiser coverage before an uninsured driver hit him last summer while he was riding his motorcycle. A $50,000 settlement covered those medical bills and living expenses while he was unable to work, but Lupo later learned he needed a hip replacement - a $30,000 price he couldn't afford.
With pain as his primary motivator, Lupo started researching his options online. He eventually found his way to WorldMed Assist, a 2-year-old Concord company that is part of a growing industry that makes arrangements for Americans to get medical care abroad.
Lupo's hip surgery and hospital stay cost $8,880 at Wockhardt Hospital in Bangalore. Even with the $1,300 airfare, the procedure totaled about a third of what it would have cost Lupo at a local hospital.
"My hip feels great," said Lupo, who was recovering at home while making magnets out of photographs from India to send back to the nurses and hospital staff in Bangalore. "But I really don't want to go to another Third World country again, to tell you the truth, unless I had to. This was a means to an end. But the pain was so bad I would have swum the English Channel if that's what it took."
No official statistics are kept on how many Americans travel overseas for medical care, but one estimate places the number at 150,000 in 2006.
Other trends are more clear-cut. Many Americans are uninsured - nearly 47 million at last count - and others have health insurance that does not adequately cover procedures they desperately want or need.
A medical tourism industry has grown to facilitate global health travel. A trade association to represent these companies formed last year. Also last year, a major insurer started a separate company to help members seek international care.
Crossing international borders for medical care is not new. For decades, Americans have sought certain types of care in other countries, specifically elective or cosmetic procedures, along with treatments that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
But now, industry experts say, Americans are going overseas for increasingly complex surgeries. In addition, more patients seem willing to accept that quality of care in some foreign hospitals may be the same or higher as that found on U.S. soil, at a fraction of the cost.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
'Great' American Health Care System Isn't Cutting It On Life Span
This just in -- the U.S. is now ranked 42nd among the world's nations in life span. How can this be happening in a country that spends so much on medicine, the most worldwide per capita? It's a paradox: When it comes to insurance, less isn't more; but when it comes to medication, less can indeed be more. And, we need news media that will actually report on the problem rather than essentially shill for the medical/drug establishment.
To get the stats out of the way, this is from the Associated Press report:
Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands. ...
A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Andorra, a tiny country ... between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years ... It was followed by Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore. ...
Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.
OK, so far, so good. At least someone is observing that the number of uninsured Americans may have a lot to do with this. But wait, there's more. This Mainstream Media report lapses into whitewash and absurdity.
But "it's not as simple as saying we don't have national health insurance," said Sam Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. "It's not that easy."
Among the other factors:
• Adults in the United States have one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, while about two-thirds are overweight, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
"The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta. "We have the luxury of choosing a bad lifestyle as opposed to having one imposed on us by hard times."
• Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.
Black American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years, slightly longer than the averages for Iran and Syria and slightly shorter than in Nicaragua and Morocco.
• A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.
Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.
"It really reflects the social conditions in which African American women grow up and have children," said Dr. Marie C. McCormick, professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health. "We haven't done anything to eliminate those disparities."
Most of the above displays an astonishing lack of critical thinking by this MSM reporter, or perhaps by editors who got hold of the piece later. The story attempts to drive some wedge between the absence of universal coverage in the U.S. and (1) racial disparities, and (2) infant mortality. A national health insurance system would do a vast amount to address these two problems. Our current system is the precise reason why many minorities do not or cannot get adequate care, when they are either old or newborn. It's the lack of insurance, stupid.
The passage points out that Cuba and most European countries have lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. Guess what those countries have that we don't.
Obesity is certainly a problem in America, and one for which individuals can largely be blamed. Or can they? As decades of my life have passed, I have witnessed a socially irresponsible advertising culture that graduated from making people into two-pack-a-day cigarette addicts into junk-food junkies who wash it all down with sugary soft drinks. If one ate a steady diet of what one sees every day on TV ads, billboards, and in the urban sprawl of any given U.S. city, it's the superhighway to diabetes and heart disease.
A thing I find quite revealing and disturbing is that although the Japanese smoke twice as much as Americans -- they light up the way we did in the '60s, back when my childhood senses were ablaze with TV cigarette commercials -- they don't have nearly as much heart disease as we do, and they're living longer than us. A simple observation is that they don't have quite the same advertising culture as we do, and so they're more likely to eat fish, tofu and veggies than a bacon cheeseburger. A decent diet can actually compensate some for other kinds of vices.
Something else to consider is that, for the poor in America, a good diet is actually hard to afford. It's cheap for our poor and working class to consume a lot of starch and sugar. Even the simplest staple items like rice and pasta -- not good for diabetics -- are much cheaper than the more healthful choices. We've had a reversal of roles between rich and poor in modern America: In the bad old days, the poor were skinny because they went hungry, and the rich were plump because they had all they could eat. Now the poor eat, but it's the wrong foods, sold cheap. The rich can afford the sauteed vegetables and the catch of the day.
But, I'm recalling that Emory University professor's remarks about Americans being so soft, not having a tough lifestyle imposed on them by adversity. This seems like an absurd contradiction as well. During hard times, people have trouble eating -- at all. Good food, or bad. And life spans were much shorter then. Something tells me the professor hasn't missed many meals.
Now for an unintended consequence of living in an "affluent" society -- affluent for some, anyway. The U.S. is the most overmedicated nation ever. Our "health care system" is largely driven by the pharmaceutical companies' greed, and they are hooking people on meds every day with the same foresight and scruples as the corner dope dealer.
Statin drugs are being pushed as though half the adult population should be on them. They may do a lot for people with severe cholesterol problems, but they can have very serious side effects. I have known a number of people who have given them up, despite warnings, because they complained that they always felt like they had the flu. My mother passed out and had to be hospitalized after three days on Zocor. I took Lipitor for three days, and I think my supervisor at work suspected that I was drunk.
I have been hospitalized twice in recent years after having adverse reactions to medications. Doctors who aren't into this dope craze describe patients coming to them looking pale and wan. And wait, there's more, from a site called Health and DNA:
ADRs are the fourth to sixth greatest killer in US with more than 100,000 deaths per year; and 2.2 million serious adverse reactions per year according to a 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association report. (JAMA 279:1200 1998) This study is a meta analysis of 39 research reports published from 1966 to 1996.
21.3% of the 548 most recently FDA approved medications were subsequently withdrawn from the market or given a black box warning. (JAMA 287:2215 2002).
The GAO reports that 51% of new drugs have serious, undetected adverse effects at the time of approval.
Of the best selling prescription drugs, 148 can cause depression, 133 hallucinations or psychoses, 105 constipation, 76 dementia, 27 insomnia and 36 parkinsonism. "Worst Pills Best Pills: A Consumers Guide to Avoiding Drug-Induced Death or Illness," third edition, 1999.
I know from the experience of being overmedicated that it's hard some days just to get out of bed under those conditions, let alone get one's regular exercise for general health and weight control.
I have yet to see Michael Moore's Sicko, but I anticipate seeing it this week. It shouldn't be hard for him to win me over. This "health care system," coupled with a predatory advertising culture, looks likely to make either my generation or the next one the first to have a lower life expectancy than our parents had. As my fellow baby boomers age and become more dependent on this broken system to get decent and well-considered care, this is clearly one of the crucial battles that Americans must win.
Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Bush Enjoys World-Class Health Care Even As He Fights To Gut Children's Health Program
I always find it fascinating how the likes of George W. Bush and other GOP politicians constantly speak out against government-run health care, even as they get to enjoy world-class government-run health care themselves.
When you're the U.S. president, you get the best health-care treatment in the world. And it's all paid for by the taxpayers.
Unlike the rest of us, Bush doesn't have to worry about how he's going to pay for his health care. He doesn't have to haggle with greedy HMOs. He doesn't have to spend sleepless nights, worrying about what will happen if he or a member of his family has a catastrophic health-care crisis. He doesn't have to wait in line to get treatment.
In fact, Bush doesn't even need to lift a finger to see a doctor. All he's got to do is give the word, and a world-class physician will come to see him in the White House, any time he wants, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In other words, Bush is living in a different universe than the rest of us.
Despite the lavish government-run medical care Bush receives, he's quite confident that the best health-care solution for the rest of us is that offered by stingy, corrupt HMOs. In reality, of course, HMOs don't give a damn about the health care of their clients. They're only concerned with maximizing their quarterly profits.
And even as Bush enjoys state-of-the-art, world-class government-run health care, he's working to gut a successful program that offers health care to children in America.
As The New York Times reported, Bush has threatened to veto any substantial increase in spending for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a joint federal-state effort that has substantially reduced the number of uninsured children in the country.
As the Times noted, the program now gets $5 billion a year in federal money to match state contributions, and the Bush administration has proposed a meager increase of $5 billion spread over the next five years. The Times reported that "that would not even be enough to cover all of the 6.6 million children who were enrolled at some time during the last year. Hundreds of thousands of children would likely fall off the rolls. And there would be no help for some eight to nine million children who now have no health coverage at all."
At first glance, Bush's proposed $5 billion might sound like a lot of money. But the fact is, Pentagon blows through that much money every couple of weeks in Bush's illegal, immoral war in Iraq. And that doesn't include the many billions of dollars that have vanished and remain completely unaccounted for in Iraq.
Bush is following in the proud Republican tradition of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. He fights a highly successful program offering health care to children to save a few billion dollars. And then he turns around and lavishes billions of dollars on his failed, reckless war in Iraq (not to mention the billions in corporate welfare for the likes of Halliburton).
Bush also serves up a hefty dose of Republican hypocrisy. He fights the State Children's Health Insurance Program, because it's a government-run program. But then he shamelessly enjoys the benefits of the world-class, government-run health care that he and his family receives. In fact, for all of Bush's advocacy of private-sector solutions for health-care, I don't recall him ever once proposing that health-care for politicians be handed over to the HMO sharks.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Michael Moore "Awful Truth" Segment That Inspired "Sicko"
If you haven't seen it before, Michael Moore's "The Awful Truth," TV series (which aired on Bravo in 1999-2000) was one of the best things Moore has ever done. It was a hard-hitting investigative series that took on many targets in American society, including corporate and political corruption, lies, and hypocrisy.
In the series' first episode, Moore took on Humana, after this "healthcare" company initially denied a man's claim to pay for a life-saving pancreas transplant.
The episode later inspired Moore to direct Sicko, his upcoming feature film, which will be released on June 29. This episode is available on YouTube, along with a number of other "The Awful Truth" segments.
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