Archive for the ‘health care’ Category

What do you call a group that incites violence, relies on fear, intimidation and lies to influence political and social change, has no respect for others’ opinions and holds a country hostage to its own twisted desires?

That’s right, terrorists.  The Republican party has become the Al Qaeda of American politics.

Let’s all send ’em a message:

You don't negotiate with TerroristsThey don’t deserve the time of day.  The Democrats and President Obama should pass health care reform, with a robust public option, with or without their support, interference, intimidation, lies, hypocrisy or terrorism.

It would destroy them once and for all, consigning the lot of them to the dustbin of history.  Permanent minority status – that’s what they deserve.

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One of the perils of actually being employed during the worst economic disaster in 70 years is that you sometimes have to put up with some pretty stupid stuff at work.  Take, for example, this email recently spammed to the company on the company network by the owner of the company (names have been removed to protect the ignorant):

—–Original Message—–
From: XXX XXXXXX
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:19 AM
To: All Outlook Users
Subject: HC disaster synposys (or: Healthcare Hell)

Just think about these for a second or two..
_______________
Following the mad recommendations of Peter Singer made in NYT’s Sunday
magazine, it pays to take a look at what is actually in the healthcare
bill.

It’s worse than you can possibly imagine. Somehow, it manages to be
Singer on steroids. Who wrote this bill. It has Singer’s footprints all
over it.

Peter Fleckstein (aka Fleckman) is reading it and has been posting on
Twitter his findings. This is from his postings (Note: All comments are
Fleckman’s) _______________

Here:

Pg 22 of the HC Bill MANDATES the Govt will audit books of ALL EMPLOYERS
that self insure!!

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides
what treatments/benes u get

Pg 29 lines 4-16 in the HC bill – YOUR HEALTHCARE IS RATIONED!!!

Pg 42 of HC Bill – The Health Choices Commissioner will choose UR HC
Benefits
4 you. U have no choice!

PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill – HC will be provided 2 ALL non US
citizens, illegal or otherwise

Pg 58HC Bill – Govt will have real-time access 2 individs finances & a
National ID Healthcard will b issued!

Pg 59 HC Bill lines 21-24 Govt will have direct access 2 ur banks accts
4 elect. funds transfer

PG 65 Sec 164 is a payoff subsidized plan 4 retirees and their families
in Unions & community orgs (ACORN).

Pg 72 Lines 8-14 Govt is creating an HC Exchange 2 bring priv HC plans
under Govt control.

PG 84 Sec 203 HC bill – Govt mandates ALL benefit pkgs 4 priv. HC plans
in the Exchange

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill – Specs for of Benefit Levels for Plans = The Govt
will ration ur Healthcare!

PG 91 Lines 4-7 HC Bill – Govt mandates linguistic approp svcs. Example
– Translation 4 illegal aliens

Pg 95 HC Bill Lines 8-18 The Govt will use groups i.e., ACORN &
Americorps 2 sign up indiv. for Govt HC plan

PG 85 Line 7 HC Bill – Specs of Ben Levels 4 Plans. #AARP members – U
Health care WILL b rationed

-PG 102 Lines 12-18 HC Bill – Medicaid Eligible Indiv. will b
automat.enrolled in Medicaid. No choice

pg 124 lines 24-25 HC No company can sue GOVT on price fixing. No
“judicial review” against Govt Monop

pg 127 Lines 1-16 HC Bill – Doctors/ #AMA – The Govt will tell YOU what
u can make.

Pg 145 Line 15-17 An Employer MUST auto enroll employees into pub opt
plan. NO CHOICE

Pg 126 Lines 22-25 Employers MUST pay 4 HC 4 part time employees AND
their families.

Pg 149 Lines 16-24 ANY Emplyr w payroll 400k & above who does not prov.
pub opt. pays 8% tax on all payroll

pg 150 Lines 9-13 Biz w payroll btw 251k & 400k who doesnt prov. pub.
opt pays 2-6% tax on all payroll

Pg 167 Lines 18-23 ANY individual who doesnt have acceptable HC accrdng
2 Govt will be taxed 2.5% of inc

Pg 170 Lines 1-3 HC Bill Any NONRESIDENT Alien is exempt from indiv.
taxes.
(Americans will pay)

Pg 195 HC Bill -officers & employees of HC Admin (GOVT) will have access
2 ALL Americans finan/pers recs

PG 203 Line 14-15 HC – “The tax imposed under this section shall not be
treated as tax” Yes, it says that

Pg 239 Line 14-24 HC Bill Govt will reduce physician svcs 4 Medicaid.
Seniors, low income, poor affected

Pg 241 Line 6-8 HC Bill – Doctors, doesnt matter what specialty u have,
you’ll all be paid the same

PG 253 Line 10-18 Govt sets value of Dr’s time, prof judg, etc.
Literally value of humans.

PG 265 Sec 1131Govt mandates & controls productivity for private HC
industries

PG 268 Sec 1141 Fed Govt regulates rental & purchase of power driven
wheelchairs

PG 272 SEC. 1145. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS – Cancer
patients – welcome to rationing!

Page 280 Sec 1151 The Govt will penalize hospitals 4 what Govt deems
preventable readmissions.

Pg 298 Lines 9-11 Drs, treat a patient during initial admiss that
results in a readmiss-Govt will penalize u.

Pg 317 L 13-20 OMG!! PROHIBITION on ownership/investment. Govt tells
Drs.
what/how much they can own.

Pg 317-318 lines 21-25,1-3 PROHIBITION on expansion- Govt is mandating
hospitals cannot expand

pg 321 2-13 Hospitals have oppt to apply for exception BUT community
input required. Can u say ACORN?!!

Pg335 L 16-25 Pg 336-339 – Govt mandates estab. of outcome based
measures. HC the way they want. Rationing

Pg 341 Lines 3-9 Govt has authority 2 disqual Medicare Adv Plans, HMOs,
etc.
Forcing peeps in2 Govt plan

Pg 354 Sec 1177 – Govt will RESTRICT enrollment of Special needs ppl!
WTF. My sis has down syndrome!!

Pg 379 Sec 1191 Govt creates more bureaucracy – Telehealth Advisory
Cmtte. Can u say HC by phone?

PG 425 Lines 4-12 Govt mandates Advance Care Planning Consult. Think
Senior Citizens end of life

Pg 425 Lines 17-19 Govt will instruct & consult regarding living wills,
durable powers of atty. Mandatory!

PG 425 Lines 22-25, 426 Lines 1-3 Govt provides apprvd list of end of
life resources, guiding u in death

PG 427 Lines 15-24 Govt mandates program 4 orders 4 end of life. The
Govt has a say in how ur life ends

Pg 429 Lines 1-9 An “adv. care planning consult” will b used frequently
as patients health deteriorates

PG 429 Lines 10-12 “adv. care consultation” may incl an ORDER 4 end of
life plans. AN ORDER from GOV

Pg 429 Lines 13-25 – The govt will specify which Doctors can write an
end of life order.

PG 430 Lines 11-15 The Govt will decide what level of treatment u will
have at end of life

Pg 469 – Community Based Home Medical Services=Non profit orgs. Hello,
ACORN Medical Svcs here!!?

Page 472 Lines 14-17 PAYMENT TO COMMUNITY-BASED ORG. 1 monthly payment 2
a community-based org. Like ACORN?

PG 489 Sec 1308 The Govt will cover Marriage & Family therapy. Which
means they will insert Govt in2 ur marriage

Pg 494-498 Govt will cover Mental Health Svcs including defining,
creating, rationing those svcs

Wow.  I sure am scared now.  This sounds pretty much like the status quo.  God help us if all those health insurance bureaucrats ever get replaced by government bureaucrats.  The sender didn’t have the guts or decency to include a copy of the actual bill, though.  We’re supposed to accept this screed as fact and get all panicked and worked up about nationalized health care.  What bullshit.

The South Korean news agency YTN reports that North Korean Stalinist thug and all-around waste of human flesh Kim Jong Il has life-threatening pancreatic cancer.  Well, they may have said he is a life-threatening cancer; I’m not really sure.  Either way, he is not expected to live more than five years, during which the demons and devils in Hell will no doubt be stirring the River Phlegethon in the Seventh Circle, eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Kim Jong Il, looking even more like the piece of shit he is than ever before

Kim Jong Il, looking even more like the piece of shit he is than ever before

I’d like to wish him a speedy recovery, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  The best I can do is hope that he has access to the same high-quality, state-sponsored health care that he and his late unlamented father failed to provide for the suffering people of the country they ruined.

The sooner this subhuman piece of filth is gone from the earth, the better.

A report from the International Committee for the Red Cross on CIA detentions and torture, recently released to the public, has shed the white light of truth on the previous administration’s darkest secrets.

It reads like something from the Nuremberg Trials or the Vietnam era.  It describes the ordeals of fourteen “high value detainees” who were subjected to some of the worst treatment the CIA “interrogators” gave to their prisoners.  In one example, detainee Abu Zubaydah described a fairly standard transfer flight:

“The detainee would be made to wear a diaper and dressed in a tracksuit.  Earphones would be placed over his ears, through which music would sometimes be played.  He would be blindfolded with at least a cloth tied around the head and black goggles. … He does not know how long the transfer took but, prior to the transfer, he reported being told by his detaining authorities that he would be going on a journey that would last twenty-four to thirty hours.

“The detainee … would usually be transported in a reclined sitting position with his hands shackled in front. …The detainee was not allowed to go to the toilet and if necessary was obliged to urinate and defecate into the diaper.” (ICRC Report, page 7)

Lovely.  I’ve always said that the acid test for whether a given action is torture or not is if we’d put someone on trial for doing it to our people.  This stuff sounds like the worst of the stories from forced-labor camps in Soviet Russia.  And as usual, it’s not the worst.  No, what’s worse is the way the CIA, under the direction of the Bush administration, corrupted the function of doctors in support of its heinous crimes.

“During the course of their detention, detainees described three principal roles for health personnel whom they encountered.  Firstly, there was a direct role in monitoring the ongoing ill-treatment which, in some circumstances, involved the health personnel directly participating while certain methods were used.  Secondly, there was a role in performing a medical check just prior to, and just after, each transfer.  Finally, there was the provision of healthcare, to treat both the direct consequences of ill-treatment detailed in previous sections, and to treat any natural ailments that arose during the prolonged periods of detention.

“… In some cases it was alleged that, based on their assessments, health personnel gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods.” (ICRC report, pp. 21-22)

In one case a detainee was told by a doctor, “I look after your body only because we need you for information.”

And you thought Cheney and Bush couldn’t sink any lower.  This almost precisely mirrors the way medical personnel were used by the North Vietnamese on our soldiers.

Don’t give me any shit about “they were trying to kill us” or “those people are the worst of the worst”.  Nothing justifies this – NOTHING.  It offends me as a veteran, and it should offend the honor and morality of every American citizen.  Bush and Cheney led us down the path of immorality, and they need to pay for it.

We should bring them up on charges of war crimes and torture, before someone else does, just to show the world that WE DON’T TOLERATE THIS.

Read the full report here.

As the American economy continues its weirdly halting-yet-inexorable slide into chaos, tumult and despair, our illustrious “leaders” in the Bush Administration lurch once again into belated quasi-action. This President and his cronies respond to every disaster like a pee-wee soccer team chasing after the ball, in the hopes that one of them will eventually kick it in the goal. Usually it ends up well outside the field, or just outside the goal, with the entire team insisting it went in and the rest of us (as the parents) trying not to look embarrassed. Whether it’s the threat of international terrorism, a category 5 Hurricane, wildfires in California, or avian flu, the response is always both minimalistic and tragi-comic. The end results are not.

Several questions are on everyone’s mind at the moment, mine included. These are important issues that need to be addressed if we’re to survive the crash.

1. Who’s to Blame?

First, who’s fault is it? The fingers of blame are pointing wildly these days, with everyone either trying to identify the culprit(s) or deflect blame from themselves. Democrats want to blame Republicans, Republicans want to blame Democrats, some financial analysts have even said the markets are jittery because they’re afraid the Democrats will win in November. This, of course, is pure bullshit.

The markets have been on the verge of collapse for years. It’s an established fact of both physics and economics that what rises, must eventually fall. And the higher the arc is, the harder the impact will be.

The fact is, the Bush League were rank amateurs and blundering incompetents when it came to nearly every aspect of government. They started a military project we didn’t need and couldn’t afford (Ballistic Missile Defense); they lied to get us into a war we can’t win, that has bankrupted the country, and left our military broken and exhausted; they invaded a country that had destroyed three superpowers before us (Afghanistan – read your history); they gave massive tax breaks that overwhelmingly benefited the top 1% of earners while leaving the rest of us to make ends meet with growing consumer credit debt; they slashed the military budget for personnel and replaced trained, professional soldiers with unreliable, dangerous and expensive mercenaries (Blackwater).

The Bush years saw the greatest increase in both housing costs and consumer credit debt in history. Home prices in many locations doubled in less than five years, while real wages (the income of middle class Americans) grew a measly 3%. Costs of living have skyrocketed thanks to the rising demand and cost of oil (it was $29/barrel when he took over, now it’s over $100/barrel). Wages have not kept pace with inflation. In the ’70s, during the Carter years, we had a name for it – stagflation.

At the same time, the credit industry was also given free rein to take advantage of the American public. In the last five years I’ve noticed a huge increase in two disturbing areas. First, there’s the “Payday Lending” industry, a legalized form of loansharking that allows lenders to make short term loans at interest rates often exceeding 420% APR. This should be illegal, but isn’t. Second, there’s been a proliferation in recent years of consumer credit counseling services. People are strapped by the rising costs of living, and have resorted to credit cards just to make ends meet.

Add to that the rising costs of housing, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

But through it all, the Bush crowd and its loyal cronies at Fox Noise and other propaganda outlets have willfully ignored the problem. Our economy is “strong”, they said. We’re “creating wealth”, they said. And they looked the other way while corporate CEOs shipped American jobs overseas to evade regulation, health care and other costs skyrocketed, and the American middle class, the bedrock of American prosperity, continued its downward spiral into debt and despair.

Tax cuts, wars, and spiraling debt do not create wealth. It’s the road to ruin, for individuals, corporations, and for nations.

2. What do we do about it?

This, of course, is the big question. Now that we’re in the shit, how do we get out of it? The President has convinced Congress that the way to restart the economy is to give you and me $600. Wow. I hardly know where to begin, except to say that I’m sure the local oil company will appreciate it when I use it to pay my heating bill this winter. Oh, wait – according to the IRS, we won’t even see those checks until possibly June or even July. Until then I guess I’m fucked. I hope my kids don’t mind being a little cold this winter.

But wait – there’s another issue here that needs mentioning. The Conservatives that are telling us that the “Stimulus Package” is just what we need to kick-start the economy, are the same people that used to preach the “government doesn’t create prosperity, people do” sermon. Which is it, folks? You can’t have it both ways. If government is the problem when things are going well, does it make sense that it can be the solution when things turn sour?

Also, where’s the money for this going to come from? The war has basically bankrupted the government – it barely has enough funds to cover operating costs – and Bush & Co. refuse to raise taxes on the upper levels of income.

Oh, that’s right. We’re going to borrow it. Again.

So, we’ve got an economy headed straight to the pit of Hell, and a government giving us what amounts to free tickets for the ride. That burning sensation you’re feeling right now is the bile rising in your throat from swallowing seven years of bullshit.

What really needs to be done is for corporate CEOs and shareholders to regrow a conscience and start hiring American workers and paying them what they’re worth, not just what keeps the corporate bottom line at a minimum. Remember the stagflation argument earlier? Well, the people responsible for it will also be the ones least affected by the depression. They need to stop giving themselves huge bonuses and undeserved salaries while laying off workers and cutting pay at the bottom of the corporate ladder. They’re the ones largely responsible for the problem; it’s time they sucked it up and made some sacrifices of their own.

3. What happens next?

So, with all that in mind, what do we have to look forward to in the next few years? After all, it’s not a matter of if, but when, the so-called “Stimulus Package” fails to get the economy back on track.

Let’s be frank – $600 in my pocket, or anyone else’s pocket today, is not going to do squat to reverse the effects of 16+ years of profligacy, hoarding and prodigality.  And I don’t see any positive signs that corporate CEOs are about to regrow the aforementioned conscience.

The way I see it, we’re headed in one of two directions.  Either we all end up on the street, after the rich get richer and buy all the land, houses and apartments for themselves; or we continue to spend ourselves into oblivion, consuming oil at our current ridiculous rates until it all runs out and we all end up dressing like extras in a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” movie.

Either way, I plan on stocking up on sporting goods.  Best to be ahead of the fashion trends.

But before that happens, we should all march on Washington and demand something constructive be done about it.  We’ll have to march, of course, because who can afford to buy gas these days?

Enough said.  The End is Near!  The Revolution will be televised (and it’ll be on Pay-Per-View)!

Good luck and God bless.

It’s day 383 of the Final Year of Bush (FYOB from now on), and today we highlight yet another wholesale betrayal of our nation’s best and bravest.

It seems now, according to our esteemed “leader”, that the fact that veterans and retirees are able to obtain affordable health care as a reward for dedicating their lives to serving this great country, is “unfair” to the taxpayer.  Read about it here:

Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report

Veteran Fee Increases
The budget proposal also would require veterans younger than age 65 to pay more for TRICARE, the military health care program, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The proposed fee increases would affect about 3.1 million military retirees and their families nationwide. Annual enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime, the managed care program, currently are $230 for an enlisted retiree or retired officer and $460 for a family. Under the proposal, the fees would increase to $325 for a junior enlisted retiree and $650 for a family; $475 for a senior enlisted retiree and $950 for a family; and $700 for a retired officer and $1,400 for a family. The fees are based on retirement income levels (Fitzsimons, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/14). In addition, under the proposal, copayments in the TRICARE retail pharmacy network would increase to $5 from $3 for generic medication and to $15 from $9 for brand-name treatments (Tacoma News Tribune, 2/11). Defense Department analysts have estimated that, without increased fees, TRICARE expenses could reach $64 billion, or 12% of the estimated department budget, by 2015. Under the proposal, the fee increases would “be phased in over two years beginning in October 2007,” the Union-Tribune reports (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/14).

But wait, it gets better!

Big hike in Tricare fees is endorsed

In a lengthy report delivered Dec. 20 to Defense leaders and to Congress, the task force endorses even steeper increases in retiree out-of-pocket costs than proposed by the Bush administration over the past two years. But fee increases would be phased in over four years instead of two.

The task force, whose co-chairmen are Air Force Gen. John D.W. Corley, commander of Air Combat Command, and economist Gail Wilensky, goes much farther in calling for sweeping changes to the business of military health care. Even on the matter of retiree cost shares it is more aggressive, proposing phased adoption of a $120 annual enrollment fee for Tricare Standard, the traditional fee-for-service health insurance, and for Tricare for Life, the prized wrap-around insurance to Medicare for service elderly.

The task force concluded that Tricare fees and co-pays, frozen since they were set in 1996, have allowed a steady slide in the relative costs paid by working-age military retirees, a pattern “so out of step with overall trends in the U.S. health care system that (it is) unfair to U.S. taxpayers.”

Unfair to taxpayers?  WTF?  I have yet to hear a single complaint about it being “unfair.”  In fact, most taxpayers I’ve talked to agree that it’s the least we can do for the men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our country and defending the republic.

This latest move by the administration is nothing less than another wholesale betrayal of the 1% who have dedicated their lives in service to the other 99%.

Veterans and military retirees have earned this benefit.  It’s our right.  But I suppose to President Bush who has never actually earned or sacrificed a single thing in his life, concepts such as duty and sacrifice are unfathomable.

And we thought we had it bad under Clinton.

As with virtually everything connected to this administration, the question that should be on everyone’s mind is “how much lower can Bush sink?”

The sad saga of the S-CHIP revamp, recounted briefly below, gives a fairly clear answer. The truth is, the depths of this President’s mendaciousness in toadying up to the nation’s plutocracy have yet to be plumbed.

Read on:

Time: Bush Vetoes Kids’ Health Bill (AP)

(WASHINGTON) — President Bush vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have expanded government-provided health insurance for children, his second slap-down of a bipartisan effort in Congress to dramatically increase funding for the popular program.

It was Bush’s seventh veto in seven years — all but one coming since Democrats took control of Congress in January. Wednesday was the deadline for Bush to act or let the bill become law. The president also vetoed an earlier, similar bill expanding the health insurance program.

Bush vetoed the bill in private.

In a statement notifying Congress of his decision, Bush said the bill was unacceptable because — like the first one — it allows adults into the program, would cover people in families with incomes above the U.S. median and raises taxes.

“This bill does not put poor children first, and it moves our country’s health care system in the wrong direction,” Bush’s statement said. “Ultimately, our nation’s goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage.”

Bush urged Congress to extend the program at its current funding level before lawmakers leave Washington for their holiday break.

Note the third paragraph, specially highlighted for emphasis. This time, he didn’t even have the guts to do it in public. Instead, he pulled a maneuver typical of thieves and assassins everywhere – he stabbed them in the back, in the dead of night.

And why? For the same cowardly, self-serving, toadying excuses as last time. It might actually work, and it would mean higher taxes, maybe this time for the wealthy. And God knows we don’t want the rich to pay their fair share of the country’s upkeep.

Sins and crimes are always committed under the cover of darkness or secrecy.  If Bush was truly proud of this latest betrayal, he’d have done it publicly.