Posts Tagged ‘Health Care’

“To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.”
― Jeanette Winterson

A news report out of Mississippi indicates that they’ve discovered a mass grave with thousands of bodies when trying to build a new parking garage.  That’s how we treated the mentally ill not that long ago.  We’ve stopped warehousing them and ignoring them until they died alone and end up in unmarked graves.  I mean, we still ignore them, just right under our noses.  Until, of course, we can’t ignore them any more.  When their illness explodes into our public awareness through horrendous tragedy.  Now we either keep them at home until they totally lose it hurting innocents and others (see Loughner, Lanza, Holmes, etc, etc, etc) or keep them in “the system” in a round robin of jail/prison, streets and shelters, back to jail, etc, etc, etc.  We can do better.  We should do better.

One of the most nightmarish books I ever read was Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale”.  Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing incremental steps toward that nightmare in reality occurring across this country in recent years.  Well, Michigan just took a leap toward such a dystopia by proposing to ban abortion coverage in private health insurance plans and forcing women to purchase a separate rider.  And it has a good chance of becoming law.  It has become law.

I’m so flabbergasted that I’m speechless.

  • 99% of the time I don’t believe in deities, however ironic little news stories like this make me thankful to any god or goddess that might have brought it to my attention.

    Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., pleaded guilty Wednesday to possession of cocaine and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation. [snip] As a member of Congress, Radel has co-sponsored legislation to change the nation’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws and voted for a bill that called for states to drug test people who receive food stamps.

    PS: Drug testing people on welfare finds few positives, contributes to state deficits and does no one any good.

  • Yet another sad tale illustrative of the horrible state of affairs for Mental Health treatment in the U.S.

    State Senator R. Creigh Deeds, a leading Virginia political figure who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2009, was stabbed repeatedly on Tuesday at his home during an altercation with his son, who then apparently took his own life, the authorities said. [snip] On Monday, state mental health officials unsuccessfully sought to find a bed in a hospital psychiatric ward for Gus Deeds, who had undergone an evaluation…

    PS: All those junk insurance plans getting dropped by health insurance companies in the U.S. did not cover Mental Health services as mandated by Obamacare. Making treatment available at the same rate as physical illnesses is the right first step to fix our Mental Health system.

  • If you are Pro-Choice then you may have noticed that since the Pro-Life movement had failed to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us via Federal measures, they’ve resorted to trying to do it at the state level with some success.  Well, now they are also trying it out at the City level with a measure that would ban abortions after week 20.  Fortunately the voters of Albuquerque rejected the measure.  So the fight goes on, just a little closer to home now.
  • 37 states settled a lawsuit with Google for privacy violations and the amount to be split amongst the states is $17 million.  Arizona’s share will be $355,000.  Now let’s see how long it takes for this money to line some crony’s pocket.
  • The weather in Phoenix is FINALLY starting to cool down.  We’ve reached the mid to upper 70’s this week which is about average.  The weather has been crazy…we would hit the 90’s and then plummet into the 70’s.  On Nov. 12th we got up to 92, which is 15 degrees above average.  While everyone in cold dark places is dreaming of being in 90 degree weather, I’m exactly the opposite.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to be able to wear a sweater!
  • The City of Phoenix received a perfect score on the inclusiveness of  lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in city government.  That makes Phoenix one of only 25 in the nation to receive a perfect score from The Human Rights Campaign.  It’s nice to know I’m not always correct when I say there has been no progress in Arizona–we’re doing it, just teeny-tiny step at a time.
  • Our infamous Sheriff Joe was the subject of “Roast” last weekend for Charity.  I’m sure they went pretty easy on him as good ‘ol Joe has pretty thin skin.  Here’s some jokes that liberals everywhere WISH had been used.  From what I heard via a radio interview on 97.9 KUPD the organizers asked one of the best roast hosts in the business, Jeffrey Ross, and he turned the gig down.  Can you blame him?

While the news is all up in arms about the fact that many middle class families will have to change health insurance companies and might have to pay more for it, there is very little noise being made about the fact that SNAP (aka, food stamps) funds are being cut effective this Friday.

There are 49 million Americans, 21 million of whom are children, who are “food insecure” and receive Food Stamps.  These are often families with a parent or parents working full-time jobs and/or multiple jobs in order to keep their heads above water and they STILL don’t make enough to adequately feed their families.  We interact with these people every day of our lives.   They work their asses off at McDonald’s, behind the deli counter at your supermarket, and they watch your kids at the daycare center.  They aren’t sitting on street corners begging for food.  They smile at us, exchange pleasantries and do their best to provide good customer service. Then they go home at night and forgo the asthma inhaler they desperately need and skip eating dinner so their kids can have a little more food. They are the working poor.

The cuts are significant.   Starting this Friday (just in time for the Holidays) a family of three will be getting 16 meals less a month–that’s about a week’s worth of food.  Could you cut back 16 meals a month?  How little food can you live off of and still maintain a pleasant demeanor while you clean up some other person’s kid’s vomit over at “Tutor Time” or serve up a family-sized bucket of chicken to some fat middle class jerk who probably voted for the Congressman who cut your food stamps?

Congressman Paul Ryan, who is sure to be a 2016 Presidential candidate, said just a few months ago that Republicans need to “do more listening to people who are in the trenches fighting poverty”.  Except that he didn’t listen to them during committee hearings on this budget issue and he and his party aren’t listening to them now.  The public isn’t seeing or listening to the plight of the working and hungry poor either because all they are seeing on TV and reading online are stories about middle class families and their tribulations.  The woes of having to choose among a variety of health care plans, or having the new Toyota recalled, or having to eat healthier as we age.  How about some stories on people who don’t get to eat?  How loud do the working poor have to be to get attention?  How long can they work so hard and eat so little before they just decide they’ve had enough?  How many more millions of hungry people will it take before this country wakes up?  Food pantry’s across the country are already saying there is no way they can make up the meal shortages.

It’s basically immoral to let hard working people and their innocent children go hungry.  It’s also impractical.  For every $1 of taxpayer money invested in food stamps the economy gets $1.70 into it on the other end.  That’s a damn good investment.  It’s long past time for us to stop punishing the poor as if they’ve done something wrong and time to invest in our fellow citizens.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

What the press is telling you about Obamacare (aka, ACA):

  • About 2 million people across the U.S. are losing their current insurance because insurance companies are saying their plans don’t meet ACA minimum standards.
  • The President knew that millions would lose coverage because the law said plans that didn’t meet minimum standards could be grandfathered in but the Department of Health and Human Services narrowed the regulation so that more plans could not be grandfathered in.
  • Therefore, according to them, the President lied when he said that we could keep our current insurance policy if we liked it.

What the press SHOULD BE telling you:

  • When the President said “you can keep your current coverage” he was talking about employer based coverage. Very few of these 2 million are on employer based plans.  Those that have had their employer based coverage taken away, either had good employers or bad employers.  The good employers did some comparison shopping and figured out that their employees would actually spend less and get better coverage if they went through the new exchanges rather than going through their employer (e.g., Trader Joe’s).  In those cases, it’s a win-win.
  • Regardless of whether Obamacare exists or not, employers had the right and continue to have the right to drop coverage for their employees anytime they want. The employer and only the employer is responsible if they decide to stop coverage. The ACA cannot and does not account for bad employers.  It only makes it easier for an employee to walk away from an asshole boss because they won’t be reliant on him/her for coverage anymore.
  • The 2 million people who are losing coverage are mostly individuals who self-insure. The NORMAL turn over rate for self-insured people BEFORE Obamacare was even a gleam in anyone’s eye is 40-67%.  This turnover rate and the discussion about it in 2010 is what the news organizations are touting as their proof that the President knew people would lose their health insurance.  Let me repeat this just in case you are having trouble keeping up.  40-67% of self-insured people lose their coverage every year NO MATTER WHAT.   So now they’re blaming the President for something that would have occurred anyway.
  • The minimum standards set by ACA include things like mental health, lab services, maternity care, preventative care, etc.  Do those sound like off-the-wall, crazy things to you?  They sound pretty damn basic to me.  Many self-insured policies do not have these basic things.  It’s why they’re often so cheap.  However, policy makers anticipated this problem.  As a result, the ACA has a grandfather provision for any policies (self-insured or employer based) that were in effect as of March 23, 2010.  I.e., if someone had a policy as of that date, they could keep it EVEN IF it didn’t meet the minimum standards being imposed by ACA.
  • The ONLY caveat to that was some clarification issued by the Department of Health and Human Services written on June 17, 2010–only four months after the March 23rd cutoff date.  DHHS said that in order to be grandfathered in, the insurance policy cannot be changed.   In other words, the insurance companies could not change the amount of the deductible, the co-pays, the benefits IF the plans wished to be grandfathered in.  This was meant to protect consumers from being swindled by their insurance companies.  DHHS was worried that insurance companies would jack up rates and reduce coverage on any pre-existing plans so that they could be grandfathered in “as is” and consumers would be forced to live with the crappier plan or go through the hassle of changing plans.   Since the insurance companies knew about this restriction ANY company that changed those plans after June 2010 did so KNOWING that they would not be grandfathered in.   In other words, the insurance companies knew what the rules were and some of them changed the plans anyway.  They KNEW it would screw their customers and they didn’t care
  • Of those 2 million being dropped, at least half of them will end up paying less  to self insure by using the state or federal exchanges AND their coverage will be better (remember those minimum standards).  That will leave the other 1 million having to pay more.
  • Of those 2 million trying to get new insurance through Obamacare, quite a few of them live in states that didn’t implement exchanges (like mine, Arizona).  Those who live in states with exchanges, 15 out of 50, can have insurance by the end of day.  Kentucky has already had 27 thousand people get insurance through their website. California is reporting almost 95 thousand.  Things seem to be running smoothly for them.  The rest have to rely on the Federal Exchange.  Who is to blame for not setting up state exchanges?  The states were given the option and the states that decided not to are to blame.  If you want to be angry at someone for how difficult it is to enroll in your non-cooperating state, try directing your justified anger at the governor of your state.
  • There has NEVER been a public policy in this country (or any other country for that matter) that did not have winners and losers.  In a large, diverse country like ours with such massive and complicated systems, there is NO way to create public policy of any kind that does not hurt some and help others.  It’s impossible.  The ACA, like every other law we’ve ever passed in this country, tries to strike a balance.  The ACA provides coverage to 40 million uninsured Americans and about 1 million Americans will have to pay more (and will receive better coverage because of the minimum standards).  That’s the trade off.  It was made very clear in 2010 when we had this debate the first time around.

Why the press won’t tell you this stuff:

  • It’s far too subtle and complicated. Real journalism requires real work.
  • It doesn’t fit into the 30 second segment they’ve allotted to real news. See real news segments come between other crap. They use half hour segments on things like Kim Kardashian’s latest ass liposuction, Lady Gaga’s latest feud with someone else equally unimportant, or the latest childhood star twerking hijinks. Or they’ll spend plenty of time presenting for our misery a couple of mouth breathing idiots debating things that they fundamentally don’t understand.  Like a Tea Party member, who represents only the tiniest fraction of the U.S. voters, who thinks the President was born in Kenya and who believes that chemtrails are a sign of the coming UN invasion talking about how the debt ceiling increases our debt (it doesn’t, BTW).  His/her debate opponent is usually someone like an unemployed 23 year old Occupy Wall Street protester who represents an even tinier fraction of voters, who believes all politicians are illegitimate because leaders aren’t all that important anyway (show me your palms if you agree!) and who thinks if we’d only guillotined bank executives back in 2008 everything would be okay now.  That is then followed by so-called moderate pundits who have a book to sell and other than that little to no qualifications about the topic pontificating about how “both sides do it” and “if the President would only reach out and compromise some grand bargain could be met”.  Meanwhile they have other pundits who used to be politicians or their lackeys.  These guys function as party shills loudly interspersing GOP talking points among the centrist bullshit coming from the “moderate” pundits.  On the other side of the aisle supposedly liberal pundits try to ineffectually fight back against the noise machine.  Most of these Democratic pundits couldn’t argue their way out of a paper bag.  And the supposed news reporter/journalist isn’t calling anyone on their lies, or asking the right questions, or delving deep enough to really communicate any understanding to the audience.  They only nod, make faces, laugh at the stupid jokes and insults flying back and forth, and occasionally spit out factoids that their intern found online in an “I’m feeling lucky” Google search they performed between going to the bathroom and getting another latte during their last commercial break.    In the meantime, Rome is burning.