People of Faith For Resistance..

There seems to be many opportunities cropping up on this first day of a new administration for resistance to draconian change they intend for our democracy in the upcoming years. I am particularly happy to see Christians in this mode. No, not all Christians are among the 81% of Evangelicals who pushed the current administration in office.  In reality they are a small percentage of that community.

One of those orgs on the forefront of resistance is Sojourners.  Here are some words in a recent email from them.

2017-01-20_10-55-42Today, “T” (my edit)  is sworn in as president of the United States. Many of us in the faith community have deep moral concerns as we enter into this new administration. We cannot just sit, with hope that the president-elect’s words and promises are not to be taken seriously—or that he doesn’t really mean all of his attacks on people for their race or ethnicity, their faith, their gender, their physical abilities, or their identity as Americans.

A better response is resistance to all those things, in defense of vulnerable people in particular, in the hope that such resistance might deter, or obstruct, or defeat such behaviors and policies…

Click on the image to the right to see more words

The GOP plans for a juggernaut of action very quickly to gut many of the social programs now in place including:

  • Affordable healthcare
  • Medicaid for the poor
  • Medicare for senior citizens
  • Social Security for present and future seniors

They say they are privatizing them to make them more efficient but the reality is quite different.  It will take a mammoth effort similar to what happened when they tried to eliminate the House Ethics Overlook.  Concerned citizens  need to stay active to prevent them accomplishing their intent of undoing these  and many other programs.

I am not particularly promoting Sojourners, but they are a good cause, in so much as encouraging you to join the resistance in whatever form you prefer.

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GOD SAVE OUR COUNTRY….

Privatize It….

The GOP solution to almost everything that is wrong with America is to privatize it. They simply don’t think that government has much of a place in today’s American society. Democrats on the other hand believe that in many cases government is the most effective solution.  One of those disputed areas is healthcare. Which one is right? Maybe the answer lies in trying both out and see which gives the best results?

2016-05-25_08-48-26.pngFor more than two years, the Veterans Affairs department has struggled to deal with a long-buried crisis in its service to veterans, a systemic and widespread fraud that concealed long wait times at its hospitals and clinics….

Five years later, however, whistleblowers produced evidence that dozens of veterans had died while being denied access to care at the Phoenix VA. Evidence emerged that the wait-list fraud was not localized to one VA center but was standard operating procedure in much of the country. VA executives earned bonuses while veterans languished in medical limbo — and some of them perished in it, too. Obama sacked Shinseki, the only Cabinet official to resign under pressure from the president, and appointed Robert McDonald to clean up the VA.

SOURCE:  Obama’s VA scandal is much bigger than a callous Disney analogy

The VA just seems to have been plagued with troubles for most of my life. They just can’t seem to figure out what needs to be done to fix it. On the other hand Medicare is for the most part praised for its effectiveness.  As usual the solution to the VA problems is split along party lines. Each is convinced that their solution would work the best.

So, let’s see which is better.  Right now Medicare provides 55 million people with healthcare coverage. The VA provides coverage for 23 million. Why don’t we privatize the VA?  Give them a voucher for going out and getting coverage on their own and then wait and see what the results are.   The Republicans want to privatize Medicare and put us seniors on our own so lets test it with our veteran population first.  If it works out there then there would be evidence that Medicare would also benefit from privatization. If not then maybe we can finally put the privatization mantra to rest.

But, I don’t think that will happen. My GOP friends are for the most part big backers of our military establishment. They seem to not be able to see a military expense that they can turn down. I really think they can see that government provided healthcare that if properly run is the true future foundation for our nation’s healthcare system as it is for the rest of the world but they just don’t want to admit.  Why else would they keep trying to fix the VA  to make is as effective as Medicare instead of just privatizing it.

As a test of who has the best solution let’s let the Republicans privatize the trouble prone VA and see what happens…..

 

A Look At Six Years of the Affordable Care Act

I celebrate that the GOP has failed to take away healthcare for 20 million of our citizens. Even though it was  only a small portion of what is needed in U.S. healthcare, Obamacare will eventually go down in history as one of President Obama’s major achievement. Eventually, maybe sooner if the GOP opposition suddenly fades due to lack of membership, we will get to a far less expensive single-payer system much like our neighbors in Canada and many other around the world already have.

2016-03-24_07-53-51.pngA Look At Six Years of the Affordable Care Act…
Summary:
On the 6th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, take a look back at the photos and videos that capture what this landmark legislation has meant for America.
ACA
President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

20 million.

That’s how many people now have the health coverage they need thanks to the President’s health care law. In fact, for the first time ever, more than 90% of Americans have health coverage, putting the U.S. rate of uninsured Americans at 8.8%.

In that same time, our businesses have added 14.3 million jobs — the longest streak of private-sector job growth in history.

6 years. 20 million people. 14.3 million jobs.

That’s what the Affordable Care Act has meant for America.

SOURCE:  A Look At Six Years of the Affordable Care Act | whitehouse.gov.

When the last GOP president left the Oval Office the economy was going down for the third time. The stock market had never advanced during his eight years in office and actually ended down several thousand dollars below what it was eight years before.

I celebrate what the Affordable Care Act has meant for America.

Hurry, Hurry Repeal It….

2015-03-12_08-22-19

Those GOP yahoos have tried 50+ times to repeal it. I kinda of think it is just too late for that.  They will have to put it along side Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid as one of the”socialist” things to eliminate in the future. That is if they ever have a friend in the White House again.

 

Cutting Out the Middle Man….

2015-01-02_08-41-50Concierge care was originally conceived before Obamacare, and it revved up in response to the Great Recession as an escape hatch for doctors fleeing the status quo. The existing fee-for-service system pays caregivers a certain amount for each test, diagnosis and procedure–which, according to critics, encourages overtreatment instead of preventive wellness care. Qliance, along with a growing number of similar operations, aims to be more than an escape. It seeks to be the answer to the quest of health care reformers: healthier patients at a lower cost. Fix the way primary-care doctors are paid, the Blisses argue, and we can cut unneeded tests, premature procedures and excessive ER visits. The driving insight here is that primary care and specialized care have two very different missions. Americans need more of the first so they’ll need less of the second. And each requires a different business model. Primary care should be paid for directly, because that’s the easiest and most efficient way to purchase a service that everyone should be buying and using.

SOURCE: Medicine Is About to Get Personal | TIME.

I don’t think I am the only person who believes that insurance companies stand between me and my doctor and tell us both how we will do business together. Of course that business is keeping me healthy, or at least as healthy as I can be given my circumstances. The above article is several thousand words long so it was difficult to pick just a few of the words to illustrate the change but I tried to compress it here.

Doctors are leaving primary-care practices in droves. They don’t like being told that they can only spend 11 minutes with a patient and that a major part of their practice is geared toward a massive amount of paperwork to the insurance company to justify what they are doing.  The solution to this problem is to cut out the middleman. That is to remove the insurance company from this interaction. That seems to be just what Dr. Bliss has successfully done with over 35,000 patients in the State of Washington. Instead of paying an insurance premium you pay a monthly fee directly to your doctor and he can then significantly cut his costs and spend whatever time is necessary with each patient.  As a result his patients only need to buy a much less expensive hospital and speciality doctor insurance policy.   It is a win-win situation for both the doctor and the patient.

We definitely need something to change in our current U.S. healthcare industry and this might be that accomplishable change. It would be great if we could finally get into a single payer system much like the rest of the world does and how we in Medicare are currently getting our healthcare needs. But until that time comes cutting out the middleman seems to make a lot of sense.  If you are interested in this sort of thing I would advise you to click on the source above to get more details.

7 Out Of 10….

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Nearly all of 2014’s best-paying jobs require an advanced degree, according to a new ranking from the job portal Careercast.com. Seven of the 10 most lucrative positions are in the health-care industry. SOURCE: The 10 best-paying jobs of 2014 – Yahoo Finance.

It is interesting to see that seven of the ten highest paying jobs are in our unsustainable healthcare sector. I doubt that this relation is coincidental. Note that the numbers above are the average. Many make much more than this. We seem to always knock the lawyers but they are pretty far down on the list. The guy dispensing your prescriptions at your local pharmacy like makes more than the guy who might one day defend you in court.

 

Our Nation’s IQ???

“In schools they have what they call intelligence tests. Well if nations held ’em I don’t believe we would be what you would call a favorite to win.” – Will Rogers, 25 June 1935

I don’t think we would either Will.  We would probably be about the same as where we are with our crazy healthcare system. Near the bottom of those that have schools  and hospitals anyway. But there are a few of us who are darn smart and maybe they make up for all the dunces among us…

US continues its losing streak in health care quality comparison

2014-06-17_07-21-14 The U.S. spends the most of any country on its health care system, and yet it ranked the lowest out of 11 industrialized nations in overall healthcare quality, according to a report published Monday by the Commonwealth Fund.The report, which covered the years 2011-2013, compared more than 80 indicators of U.S. health care spending, quality and performance to the likes of Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and Sweden, among other developed nations. The UK, which was ranked highest, blew the U.S. out of the water, despite the fact that the country spends less than half as much on health care per capita $3,406 on average, compared to $8,508 in the U.S.. The U.S. also spends the most on health care as a percentage of GDP 17% than any other nation. SOURCE: US continues its losing streak in health care quality comparison – Yahoo Finance.

I am about to finish one of the six or so  books I read at the same time; this one about the culture of the United States. It shows numerous places where we are the most creative people on earth. But then comes our ideas of healthcare. We just can’t seem to understand that our current system of taking care of our citizens is a loser and a big waste of money by almost all standards. We spend twice as much as anyone but get so little for our dollars.

It seems idiotic but it seems we are opposed to doing what has proven to work. Why,  because much of the rest of the world already has it figured out and therefore the solution would not be an “American idea”? We need to get over the idea of shunning anything not invented here and simply go with what works. We need to be as much pragmatists as we at least used to be inventive.

We need to get over the idea that somehow anything socialist is un-American.  We presently allow our government to handle our healthcare needs for about half of us but going all the way seems to be a big problem. Perhaps the most socialist healthcare system in the world is from Britain and of course from the above graphic we learn that they also provide the best care by most standards.

A person working sixty hours a week at a minimum wage job will earn about $21,000.  But according to the above they would likely spend about half that amount just for their family’s health insurance! I know I seem to harp on this topic often and that is because it is an obvious solution that is for some reason vastly ignored by so many of us. We need to take a big bite out of the humility apple and learn what the rest of the world can teach us.

 

 

 

Tax code changes will hit high-income Americans hardest

On top of that, higher-income taxpayers could see their itemized deductions and personal exemptions phased out and pay higher capital gains taxes — 20 percent for some taxpayers. And there are new taxes for them to help pay for health care reform.

There are different income thresholds for each of these new taxes. An additional 0.9 percent Medicare tax, for example, kicks in on earnings over $250,000 for married couples filing jointly and $200,000 for singles and heads of household.

Same for a 3.8 percent tax on investment income. But the phase-out of personal exemptions and deductions doesn’t begin until $300,000 for married couples filing jointly and $250,000 for singles. Taxpayers will still be able to deduct their medical expenses, but it will be more difficult for many to qualify.

The threshold for deducting medical expenses now stands at 10 percent of adjusted gross income, up from 7.5 percent. There’s an exception, though, for those older than 65. For them, the old rate is grandfathered in until 2017.

SOURCE: Tax code changes will hit high-income Americans hardest | PBS NewsHour.

It is good to hear that at least some things are changing when it comes to asking the wealthy to pony up a little more of their mammoth discretionary income for the good of the country and for the basic welfare of its citizens. While these gains (you probably say loses if you are on the receiving end) are notable they is still a long way to go in this area…

The Irony Of It All…

Medicare CardI have been kind of watching the preliminaries for this latest “super committee” forming in Washington to come to some sort of budget deal and I am not impressed. On the one hand my Republican friends often scream that Medicare doesn’t pay enough for the services rendered. That doctors are dropping out of the system due to not making enough money. And then comes the first salvo of this latest round of budgeting. The first thing the GOP comes up with is cuts to Medicare??

I know that many on that side of the aisle are for a total defunding of Medicare and instead just giving seniors a small voucher and then put them out into the private insurance system to fend for themselves. So, maybe this all makes sense from a higher level than I realize. Cut Medicare so that it becomes so underfunded that no doctor will accept patients from that system. David Stockman who was Reagan’s budget director called that “Starving the beast”. That is continue to cut taxes (income) until the government is drowning in deficits. In that regard the GOP has been somewhat successful lately.

I am still on the fence as to whether the GOP will go the way of the Whig party. If they actually do attempt to “privatize” Social Security I think there will be enough of us seniors to insure that they disappear from the landscape. Those Tea Party folks just don’t seem to want anyone to have affordable healthcare; that is except those in the 1%.  Their latest hit against the Affordable Care Act is that with so many new people being able to see a doctor that some physician groups are saying they must limit their patient contact to no more than 15 minutes to keep up with the case loads. They say that is proof that Obamacare will wreck our healthcare in this country. It never seems to occur to them that they need to try to figure out a way to increase our doctors and nurses to meet the load. Maybe a good start would be to help medical students with the bone crushing debt many have when they finally become practicing doctors. These Tea Party folks are just “anti-” to the bone.

But getting back to the budgeting process, We have not actually had a budget from the folks in Washington in over five years. This year both the House and the Senate created bills but then failed to come together for the reconciliation process because the House GOP speaker would not allow it to happen.  With that in mind I don’t see much hope for this latest committee to accomplish much.