28 November 2007

Walmart & Healthcare

Walmart Watch has a piece up on a Walmart employee who was hit by a semi and left brain damaged. The store paid out half a million in healthcare costs, and the family sued the trucking company so she could get nursing home care. The family won about $400,000, which Walmart promptly sued them for, since they had a subrogation clause in her health insurance policy.

What? You don't know what subrogation means?

I'm pretty sure that's part of the point. You're not supposed to know.

Walmart is cast as the bad guy in most of the blogging on this, but in fact they're not alone. Obviously we're the bad guys too, if we can't rid ourselves of a healthcare system that ruins people but protects big business and profits.

Oh, but it's not feasible according to MoveOn, ProgressNow, and the Dems.

So, taking a page from ol' Mitt Romney's playbook, the so-called progressives turn to mandates — which force people to buy junk insurance from an industry that has proven itself to be incapable of providing healthcare at a fair cost but very good at making profits.

How would Deborah Shank's family have fared under mandates? No difference. None at all. The Shanks' had insurance. They're still ruined.

Mandates are a sham. Subsidization of a corrupt private, for-profit industry.

Fascism, in fact.

20 November 2007

Shining Ithaca

Tim Joseph, chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, writes in the Ithaca Journal that a single-payer system would benefit Tompkins County.

The Pueblo County Commissioners said the same thing earlier this year when they offered testimony to the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform.

The benefits of a single-payer system used to be a topic upon which reasonable, informed people could disagree, but that is no longer the case. At this point it's a no brainer that single-payer is the way to go.

Joseph gives a long list of cost savings from single-payer that aren't usually included in modeling or discussions:
* Our county, like every county, has an Office for the Aging. We have a 10-person staff, and the largest part of their work consists of helping seniors to navigate the health care system, find the programs that are available to help them and plan how they will manage health care costs now and in the future.

* We have a full-time benefits manager who is mostly occupied with assisting employees in dealing with the health insurance program. Those employees also lose productive work time consulting with the benefits manager and fighting insurance company denials, which can take hours from the workday.

* When we negotiate with our employee unions, health care is always the biggest topic. We have a health care consultant on retainer to help us examine and cost out plan changes that we present to our unions in an attempt to control costs. At least two-thirds of the staff time devoted to collective bargaining is spent on health care issues.

* We devoted hundreds of hours of staff time to developing and publicizing a discount prescription drug card available to all county residents to reduce drug costs for those without insurance.

* We have a $400,000 grant from the state to form a health insurance consortium among local governments so that we can purchase employee health care as a larger group. We will be hiring a consultant to help us through the process of forming that consortium and then finding a suitable plan. Various county staffers are devoting substantial time to moving this project forward.

* We have staff in our Mental Health Department, Public Health Department and Department of Social Services devoted to collecting fees from private insurers to reduce the public cost of programs that deliver various health services.

* We have people waiting in jail that judges are prepared to release to drug or alcohol treatment programs as soon as we can assure payment to the treatment center. Staff in local agencies and our Department of Social Services work on getting these inmates into health care programs, mainly Medicaid, that will cover treatment. Meantime, we pay the cost of incarceration.

* Our economic development staff encounters aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to start their own business but are tied to a job by the health insurance benefits. Young businesses that do get started often have trouble attracting the employees they need because they cannot yet offer a health plan.
Joseph evidently recently testified before a task force put together by Gov. Eliot Spitzer examining universal health care.

Good luck to them.

18 November 2007

Howie's rant!

Funny how these things work — Howie Wolf, MD, a longtime board member of Health Care for All Colorado, says he's not a writer, and I'm pretty sure he wrote this in a flush of annoyance (or rage!) last weekend, never expecting to get it published.

The Daily Camera, the publication of record for what the rest of Colorado calls the People's Republic of Boulder, did well to print it. He writes:
Thank you, President Bush.... As a family doctor with more than 45 years of experience working in our disjointed, unjust and inhumane health system, your endorsement of the status quo will surely help the efforts of those of us who are activists eager for major reform. The polls indicating that 65 percent to 70 percent of Americans favor a government-funded health-care system, plus the latest ABC News poll revealing diminished support for your leadership at a mere 20 percent gives me hope that again you are on the wrong side of an issue.
Bravo Howie! Keep writing!

16 November 2007

Krugman and excuses

Paul Krugman looks at healthcare excuses by the reigning kings of unaccountability, defenders of the U.S. healthcare system.

In it, he points out that in fact one in three Americans under the age of 65 was uninsured at some time in 2006 or 2007.

Healthcare dragging down the economy

The Center for Economic and Policy Research has released "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Job Quality in the United States over the Three Most Recent Business Cycles."

Killer title.

"This report finds that the US economy has created fewer good jobs in the 2000s than was the case over comparable periods in the 1980s and 1990s. The report analyzed annual data from the March Current Population Survey for the years 1979 through 2006 and shows that while the current business cycle has seen an increase in the share of jobs that pay at least $17 an hour, this gain has been more than offset by a decrease in the share of jobs that offer employer-provided health insurance (down 3.1 percent points) and pension coverage (down 4.9 percentage points)."

However, we're saved from being a nanny state. Good to look at the bright side, eh. Thanks be to all those Republicans and Dems who've made it possible.