Health Reform 2017



Washington Post: US Lives Are the Shortest in the Developed World - Per this article, the CDC and Science Direct, this is mostly due to the cost of health care in the USA, the only developed country without some form of government subsidized health care system.

A study published in December of last year found that if these and other social welfare factors were brought up to the OECD average, it would add nearly four years to our collective life expectancy.”


CBS News: More Than 4/5 of Those Enrolled In Obamacare Came From Trump States - It’s sad that voters in those states were so stupid back in November 2016. But what they and the rest of the country still don’t realize is that without the mandate, insurance companies with either have to raise premiums and out of pockets astronomically for people with pre-existing conditions, or just get out of the Obamacare business altogether. Either way, it’s the same as repeal. Maybe that ‘great new...terrific’ plan that Trump says Rs and Ds will “eventually come together on” will be National Improved Medicare for All.


AJC: Hospitals That Treat the Poor Face Cuts - Here’s hoping that poor Trump/Rethug voters make the connection that hospitals in their areas may not be there for them because their politicians have forsaken them while they celebrate their new-found riches in the Hamptons.


Christian Science Monitor: Poll Says US Citizens Worry Most About Health Care

Commonwealth Fund: Do Medicare Advantage Plans Minimize Costs? - Answer: No, just the opposite.

From the “Findings” in the article: “This suggests the current benchmark-and-bidding system allows plans to bid higher than local input prices and other market conditions would seem to warrant.” That’s a nice way of saying that MA plans are ripping off the American taxpayer, while enticing more and more of the elderly to enroll, so the MA plans can eventually supercede traditional Medicare.

Then the insurance companies get a “rebate.”

Meanwhile those over 65 are flocking to these plans because premiums are near zero. The health insurance corporations’ plan is to get the majority of these people enrolled, then change Medicare to a voucher system and once they have the monopsony power in place, put the shaft to everyone. For more info on that, just search this site for “Advantage”. The only rationale answer is to gut the current system and replace it with a National Improved Medicare for All.


Reuters: With No Deal on Children’s Health Plan, States Scramble for Plan B - Very sad. These kids are just road kill to the Rethugs. They can get the wealthy their additional riches at the expense of everybody else, but can’t be bothered with less fortunate children that need medical care. And the next step after their tax cuts for the rich will be to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Needless to say, none of this would be necessary with National Improved Medicare for All.


Linkedin: Is Healthcare a Right or an Entitlement? - A sad anecdotal story of why our current health care insurance model is completely inadequate, even for those with “good insurance.” It didn’t work for this lady and now she’s broke. She is just one of thousands. A 3 minute must read.


ProPublica: When Buying Prescription Drugs, Some Pay More With Insurance Than Without It - The cited examples all have to do with CVS Caremark. This is CVS before the merger with Aetna. It will only get worse after. See entry of 12/6.


Jacobin: The Feminist Case For Single Payer - “It’s time to take health care away from the power of bosses and spouses.”


Health Affairs: National Health Care Spending in 2016: Spending and Enrollment Growth Slow After Initial Expansions - The basics: Total national health expenditures: $3.3 Trillion (highest in the world among OECD countries), per capita: $10,348 (also the highest), percent of GDP: 18% (also the highest). Biggest concern: Out-of-Pocket spending rose 3.9%, the biggest rise in 10 years. Reason? The growth of high-deductible (aka: Consumer Directed Health Plans). Out-of-Pocket spending is rising fast and is only expected to keep rising as more people sign up for high-deductibles and then have catastrophic health issues. With a National Improved Medicare For All there is NO/zero/NADA out-of-pocket spending.


NYTimes: CVS to Buy Aetna for $69 Billion in a Deal That May Reshape the Health Industry - Whenever two large corporations merge, they always claim that the result will be greater efficiency and lower cost through integration of services. But the actual result is always greater market leverage for the resulting corporation and higher prices for you and me.

This merger is particularly ominous because their plan is to provide the health care package from insurance, care management, clinical services using nurses, pharmaceutical, to pharmacy benefit management. Customers who buy in will be forced to accept the type of care that CVS will dictate to them and pay whatever price CVS demands. Of course the price will be low initially as CVS collects market share, but once they have that leverage they will charge whatever they want. As the health care industry becomes more concentrated, consumers (sick people) will have no choice but to go along.


NYTimes: As Walmart Buys Online Retailers, Their Health Benefits Suffer - In some cases deductibles double and premiums soar. Typically their workers are expected to pay 25% of their pre-tax, gross pay for health care costs. Other companies - Home Depot, Target - have already followed suit and more employers are joining this trend. And yet ACA supporters tell us that Medicare for All is not ‘feasible’ or ‘realistic,’ while lawmakers from both parties - including all of the probable Democratic presidential candidates, just voted nearly unanimously to add a gratuitous $91 Billion to the already bloated defense budget, and Here, and Here. And yet nobody asked ‘How we gonna pay for it.’ Both parties, despite their feel-your-pain rhetoric,  consider the bottom 99% of us to be just road kill. They are addicted to their corporate campaign donations.


Truth Out: Single-Payer: A Reproductive Justice Value - Twenty eight states now have at least 2 restrictions on abortions that conflict with proven science.

The reproductive justice movement focuses on expanding the ability of all people to access the full spectrum of reproductive health care...Reproductive justice is focused on each and every person having the resources and tools to exercise agency over their sexual and reproductive lives.”

Reproduction is a normal function of human beings. Laws that restrict specifically women from receiving the full spectrum of necessary reproductive health services essentially restrict their access to full gender equity and to full personhood in society.


PNHP: Kathleen Sebelius and Bill Frist Digging for Medicare Advantage Gold -  Medicare Advantage, the welfare entitlement plan for big insurance companies, is a fraud and a scam on the American people, and Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, Here, and Here. It is a tremendously inefficient program. It’s lobbyists pay off Congress in order to reap excess profits at taxpayer expense, and Here. It costs more and delivers less than regular Medicare, and Here.

‘Civil servants’ like Sebelius and Frist plan to siphon off the majority of people over 65 into Medicare Advantage programs so they can eventually make the case that Medicare should go away. Then, once they are the only game in town, premiums and out-of-pocket expenses will skyrocket and consumers over 65 will suffer financial ruin the moment they have a major illness. Yes, there are plenty of sociopaths out there like Sebelius and Frist who are only too happy to get filthy rich and throw old people in the ditch.


New England Journal of Medicine: How To Think About “Medicare for All” - Written by a highly esteemed scholar in the premier medical journal of the USA. Essentially he states that it is inevitable because it is the right thing to do, as shown by every other advanced country in the world. Well worth the 10 minute read.

AP: Premiums Rise 34 Percent For Most Popular Health Plan - Premiums for all 4 levels are rising by double digits, caused by a combination of Obamacare’s lack of cost controls and Trump stupidity. So now Rethugs get to say it’s all because of Obamacare and Democraps will say it’s all because of Trump. They’re all getting screwed and none of them get what’s really going on.


Gallup: US Uninsured Rate Rises to 12.3% in 3rd Quarter - An additional 3.5 Million Americans have lost their health insurance this year so far, due to rising premiums and out-of-pockets. That means an additional 3,500 people will die simply because of lack of insurance, more than the number of people killed on 9/11.


Bloomberg: Top US Health Insurer to Look At Trump Obamacare Alternatives - United Health Group, along with the entire private health insurance industry, is celebrating the moves by Trump and the Rethugs. Last week Trump threw a grenade in the middle of the healthcare market. The result of that will be a 20% rise in premiums across the board for 2018, along with a $194 Billion increase in the deficit over 10 years. That is now going to happen no matter what Trump does or what Congress does. Funny, I don’t hear anybody asking “How we gonna pay for it?”

Per this article, Trump’s move also gives a window for United to look at even more profitable (and more costly to sick people) alternatives to Obamacare plans: short-term health insurance plans, “association health plans”, health care savings accounts. United’s CEO: “We will be engaging with policy makers as the regulatory frameworks in these areas are developed.” The only thing that is constant is that the health insurance industry becomes more profitable every day while sick people go broke paying for what should be a human right.

But every time Single Payer advocates point out the massive transfers of wealth to health insurance companies, the neo-liberals who got us here always say “we can’t have a litmus test.”

Never has it been more clear that Rethugs and Demcraps are consistently playing bad cop/good cop with only one thing in mind: More profits for the health industrial complex, more contributions for themselves so they can stay in power and continue to make sure that no third party or alternative viewpoints are heard.

This is crazy!! How long will the American people put up with these shenanigans?


NYTimes: Trump to Scrap Critical Health Care Subsidies - The CBO has already pointed out that this move will increase health care premiums by 20 to 25%, boosting the amount of premium tax credits, which will increase the federal deficit by $6 Billion in 2018 and $26 Billion by 2026 - for a total of $194 Billion during that time span.

Millions of people who can now just barely afford health insurance will no longer be able to afford to do so. Study after study has shown that for every 1 million people without health insurance, about 1,000 will die simply from that cause. Tens of thousands of additional Americans will now die from lack of health care.

Trump has tossed a grenade into the health care insurance market in broad daylight. He and the sadistic Rethugs are going to try to blame Obamacare, but they now own the issue. They can’t hide from what they have done.


JAMA: The Epidemic of Gun Violence - A Public Health Crisis - Here’s an interesting set of figures from the article:

The solution lies in not just focusing on Las Vegas and the hundreds of other mass shootings that have occurred in the United States in the last 14 months, but rather to underscore that on average almost 100 people die each day in the United States from gun violence. The 36,252 deaths from firearms in the United States in 2015 exceeded the number of deaths from motor vehicle traffic crashes that year (36,161). That same year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 5 people died from terrorism. Since 1968, more individuals in the United States have died from gun violence than in battle during all the wars the country has fought since its inception.”


LATimes: Americans Have Been Fighting Over Government’s Role in Medical Care for Decades. That Fight Will Continue. - “From my decades of experience as a doctor, it seems to me that no market-driven healthcare system can simultaneously limit costs, guarantee universal coverage and deliver desired outcomes. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the best way to reduce costs and guarantee healthcare to everyone is to have the largest risk pool — that is, the entire nation. These facts compel the United States to move to a single-payer system guided by comparisons with other countries’ experiences and by our own American successes, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The preamble of our Constitution states that government exists to provide “domestic tranquility” and “promote the general welfare,” which certainly suggests constitutional support for healthcare for all, including poor children with asthma. Regardless of the outcome of the current effort against the role of government in medical care, the fight goes on.”


Business Insider: Republicans Have Basically Admitted the Obamacare Repeal Is Based on Lies - In much the same way that Democrats lied about Obamacare to begin with, and Here.


LATimes: There Are 3 Types of Single-Payer ‘Concern Trolls,’ And Here’s Why They Are All Wrong


UPI: Bernie Sanders Introduces Single Payer Healthcare Bill - This chart compares HR 676 with Sanders’ bill. This chart addresses the transition provisions in the Sanders bill. This bill in NOT a National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA)/Single Payer bill. HR 676 is. See notes of 9/7.

WashPo: “I’ve Watched My Patients Die of Poverty for 40 Years. It’s Time For Single Payer”


JAMA: R&D Spending to Bring A Single Cancer Drug to Market Compared to Revenue - Median cost of developing a single cancer drug: $648 Million - they spend way more on marketing. Median revenue from same: $1.7 Billion. This is mostly because to get ACA passed, Obama made sure Big Pharma never has to negotiate prices. Meanwhile, insurance companies are getting kickbacks from drug manufacturers. Then on top of that the Rethugs tried to give a $28 Billion tax break during the attempt to repeal Obamacare. Later Trump signed an executive order reducing regulations even further.


Health Over Profit: Senate Debates Billions for Insurers While Public Demands Medicare For All


Intercept: Elizabeth Warren Jumps on Board Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” Bandwagon - Miss Johnnie-Come-Lately does it again, as does Kamala Harris. Warren could have supported Sanders in the Mass. primary. If she had there’s a reasonable chance that he would have gotten the additional 2% of the vote he needed to win that primary and the momentum that he needed to win the nomination. We’ll never know because Warren kept silent mostly because she doesn’t want to alienate anyone while she prepares to run for president. Then she actively campaigned for Clinton who represents everything Warren says she is not.

Warren is Pro-Occupation and Pro-Perpetual-War, or you could just say another Corpora-Dem. They are the reason Trump is now president. Corpora-Dems don’t seem to realize that most people know bull shit when they see it - though apparently not rank and file Dem voters.

And by the way, this is not a Single Payer bill. The bill proposes a 4 year delay (giving insurance corporations time to lobby it out of existence - while they line politicians’ pockets), meanwhile there are still insurance companies, co-pays, deductibles, etc. and it also re-introduces the Public Option, which would now become a de-facto high risk pool to which all of the insurance companies would effectively dump their high cost patients. The proposed bill is not available on-line to my knowledge. The information in this paragraph comes from a letter from the Executive Committee of PNHP to Sen. Sanders. The letter has not been released for publication, but I can send you a copy upon request.

These are just Democrats doing what they do best: talk forever about how they feel our pain and how they’re going to fix it if we just send them money and vote them in. But in the end, they do whatever the corporations tell them to, which is usually to screw you and I.


Reuters: Anthem Cuts Back Obamacare Coverage in Missouri in 68 Counties - ...and completely removes coverage in 17 counties. News that has become so routine that we hardly even notice anymore. We are becoming conditioned to accept that insurance companies take care of themselves first and use patients only when they add to the companies profit. Sad. Meanwhile, the CEOs of health care companies take home on average $20 Million per year.


International Journal for Quality in Health Care: Avoidable Emergency Department Visits - A study of avoidable vs. unavoidable ER visits, totally 424 million visits. 3.3% were found to be avoidable, meaning 96.7% were medically necessary. So the canard that poor people routinely use the ER unnecessarily for all of their health care needs is nothing but an unsubstantiated neo-conservative gross generalization having nothing to do with reality, and used only to push a medical-industrial agenda.

This study does indicate that many of these costly ER visits could have been avoided with adequate preventative and proper health management programs, i. e. regular appropriate visits with a primary physician. An Improved Medicare for All would provide this standard of care and would thus bring down the overall costs of health care in this county.


Kaiser Health News: 56% of Doctors Warm to Single-Payer and MedScape - The majority of doctors want it. The majority of the people want it, and Here, Here, Here and Here. What’s holding it back? Politicians of both major parties. Here’s why!

New England Journal of Medicine: Public Opinion About the Future of Affordable Care Act - “Conclusions: ...Finally, the most important change over time was not the increase in public approval of the ACA, but rather the increase in overall support for universal coverage. When confronted with millions of people losing coverage, the public became more supportive of the principle that the federal government should ensure coverage for them.”

The time has come. Let’s get this done. The only thing stopping National Improved Medicare for All is the two major parties in Washington.

PNHP: Response to anti-Medicare-For-All Screed in The Nation


Health Over Profit: Response to Typical Article Against Single Payer - Basically lays out the specifics of why each and every argument against Improved Medicare For All is baseless.

NYTimes: Medicare Advantage Spends Less on Care, So Why Is It Costing More? - Because the amount taxpayers pay the insurance companies is 30%, or $20 Billion, more than what the insurance companies pay out. It’s the old story with privatization - waste, fraud and a bought off Congress, and Here. This extra money allows insurance companies to offer very low premiums to policy holders, attracting more and more people over 65 - great, so far, for policy holders, but terrible for taxpayers. About 1/3 of people now eligible for Medicare are in Medicare Advantage plans. The insurance companies’ plan is to slowly starve traditional Medicare until they have everybody that’s eligible - effectively privatizing Medicare. That’s when the fun begins for them as they begin to gouge older people because then they will have no other alternatives.

PNHP: Paul Krugman Loses His Way on Incremental Path to Reform -

With the Krugman incrementally-reform-ACA approach: The result will get us no closer to universal, affordable coverage, you still can’t choose your doctor or hospital, there is still monumental overhead - both on the health provider side and the insurance company side, 30,000 people still die every year because of lack of health insurance. It leaves people sick, broke and dead.

With Improved Medicare for All: Everyone is covered for life, obtaining care does not create financial hardship, efficiency gains would be more than enough to pay for increased coverage - to name just a few.

AJC: Blue Cross Pulls Back on Georgia Coverage - This, even though I hate to say it, is not because of anything the Rethugs have done. BC was waiting to see if they would have the requirements to cover pre-existing conditions and other Obamacare restrictions removed by virtue of repeal. That didn’t happen, so BC is pulling out of all markets that have competition in GA. They only remain in counties where they are the only providers. Now, out-of-pocket costs in all counties will skyrocket. Obamacare is imploding. Single Payer could easily fix all of this.


AFL-CIO People’s World: Executive Council Backs Medicare for All - This is the first time that the AFL-CIO, including National Nurses United, United Steelworkers, Amalgamated Transit Union, along with the 53 other unions representing 12 million active and retired working people, has come out straightforwardly for Single Payer.

The article notes that the last Democrat who actively pushed for, and got a bill for Single-Payer out of committee was Dennis Kucinich. All other such efforts by Democrats have been limited to introducing/sponsoring bills such as HR 676, but then never actively campaigning for them. It also noted that NNU pushed for a Single-Payer bill in California, which passed in the State Senate, but was stymied by the Democratic State Assembly Speaker and the Democratic governor.

Single-Payer is an issue that is rapidly gaining support as it becomes evident to the majority of Americans that the Rethugs have no idea how to improve on ACA, but also that ACA is causing more and more of them to be priced out of the market, especially when all out of pocket costs are considered.

This is a time when Democrats could seize the momentum if they came out actively and unequivocally for Single-Payer, and don’t think for a moment that they don’t realize that fact. But they also know how much money they would lose if health insurance industry contributions dried up. That should be enough to tell you who they are really working for.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren keep saying they are going to introduce a companion bill to HR 676 any day now.


Common Dreams: Dr. Carol Paris, President of PNHP: It’s Time for the Adults In This Nation To Talk Seriously About Health Care


The American Conservative: The Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare

Common Dreams: Jimmy Carter Latest Ex-Democratic Leader To Back Single Payer. When Will Current Ones? - Much like ex-Democratic leader Al Gore. Not even Bernie Sanders, Chuck Schumer, nor uber-faux-progressive Elizabeth Warren will actually introduce a companion bill in the Senate to HR 676. They are all great at issuing sound bytes in favor of Medicare For All, but when the vote might actually count, they just can’t give up those big corporate health insurance contributions.

Forbes: The Hidden Costs of Medicare Advantage Plans


Axios: The Sky-High Pay of Health Care CEOs - CEOs of the 70 largest health care corporations have taken home $9.8 Billion since ACA was passed, an average of $20 Million per year. Their earnings keep growing at a faster rate (11%) than most Americans (about 3%). Of course we know that almost all of the growth of the ‘average American’ salary went to the top 1%. John Martin, CEO of pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Sciences, made $863 million in that time period. Much of the income of these execs comes from stock options - which they inflate through the practice of buybacks. This article highlights how this perverted system of executive compensation makes the overall cost of healthcare in the US the highest in the world. Obscene.


AJC: World Shows Way Forward on Health Care

AP-NORC: 62% Agree that It Is the Federal Government’s Responsibility to Make Sure All Americans Have Health Care Coverage - See question 44. Up from 52% in March. Now we have 5 separate polls showing essentially the same thing. See entry of 7/18.


Intercept: Trumpcare Is Dead. “Single-Payer Is The Only Real Answer,” Says Medicare Architect

Democracy-NOW: Dr. Carol Paris: We Must Make It Toxic For Politicians Not To Get On Board With Single-Payer - Even the uber-faux-progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren has yet to introduce a companion bill in the Senate to HR 676. Dems are not going to get this done without significant pressure. The landscape would be significantly different if we had a Green Party president.


Harvard Business Review: Is The US Ready for a Single-Payer Health Care System? - All the polls say yes (Q81, 82), and Here, and Here, and now this prestigious journal also says yes; written by the Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health. Why don’t the politicians also say yes? This article is another landmark in national acceptance for this idea. Note: When the poll says ‘Do you favor an expansion of Medicare to all Americans?’, then 50 - 58% say yes. However if the question is ‘Do you favor a Single-Payer system?’ 33% say yes, while 60% believe the federal government is responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, and Here. That indicates that about 17% of Americans do not understand that Medicare For All and Single-Payer are essentially the same.

Fusion: Al Gore Breaks With Democratic Party Leadership - Supports Single-Payer Healthcare - Think about that for a second. The Democratic party leadership is now so out of touch with the needs of the people that a previous leader of the party actually has to break ranks to support a measure that would benefit all. But one thing both of the news stories for today show is that Single-Payer has gone from a radical idea to very mainstream, and probably inevitable.


Health Over Profit: The Cost of US Health Insurance Companies: $1.4 Trillion/Year - The return to the people? The highest mortality rate among OECD countries.


YouTube: Senate Republicans Exempt Themselves From Obamacare and Trumpcare

The Hill: Sanders Triumphs Over Trump In Healthcare’s Battle of Ideas


Common Dreams: Upside of Trumpcare Ugliness: Medicare for All Goes From ‘Pie In The Sky’ to ‘Inevitable’


Common Dreams: Nation “Too Broke” for Universal Health Care To Spend $406 Billion More on F-35


Matt Taibbi: Finally Everyone Agrees Healthcare Is A Human Right - Citing Paul Krugman as one example, Taibbi points out how those who were telling us that Single-Payer was not feasible before Trump, are now chanting that health care is a human right - which it is. Let’s hope those same people remember that after Trump is out.


ProPublica: Medicare Halts Release of Much-Anticipated Data - PNHP comments: “We have access to the data for the traditional Medicare program, but the same data have not been available for the private Medicare Advantage plans. We do know that the private plans have been cheating the taxpayers, initially by selectively marketing their products to less expensive, healthier populations while receiving full payments based on average needs, and then, later, by upcoding the diagnoses in order to receive unwarranted higher risk adjusted payments as if the beneficiaries were sicker than they actually are.

Now that CMS is headed by a pro-market ideologue - Seema Verma - the promised release of the data was reversed with the explanation that “there were enough questions about the data’s accuracy that it should not be released for research use.” Yet it is being used to overpay the private plans. Verma has stated repeatedly that the private plans produce higher quality at lower costs, yet she refuses to let us see the data. What data we do have suggest the opposite.

With the overpayments, the Medicare Advantage plans are able to offer their products with lower premiums and cost sharing, obviating the need for patients to purchase Medigap plans. With this perception of a better deal, enrollment in the private plans continues to increase, helping to fulfill the goal of privatizing Medicare. Once the private plans have supplanted much of the traditional Medicare program, the public privatizers plan to decrease the government contribution to the plans (decrease premium support - vouchers) leaving Medicare beneficiaries to pick up more and more of the costs.

Look, it’s our government, our taxes, our Medicare. Keeping us in the dark allows them to surreptitiously inflict their ideology upon us - an ideology that is shifting wealth upwards, away from workers.”

NBC: Democrats Split On Joining GOP For Health Care Fix - So here goes the corporate end game. The payoff  masters at the large health insurance, pharma and hospital corporations have apparently put out the word that any Democrat that’s willing to take the blame for the further fleecing of the middle class and working poor will profit handsomely. It’s an old tactic with Dems and Rethugs - you take the blame on this one and I’ll take it next time, and neither one of us will suffer in the long run.

The payoff masters can also see the handwriting on the wall: if Rethugs fail with this reform bill, there is rapidly building support for Single Payer. Heck, even Elizabeth Warren, who wouldn’t commit to either Dem nominee until it was a no-lose situation for her, has belatedly come out in favor of Single Payer, as has Warren Buffet. The corporate minions know that if they give Bernie Sanders enough time, he may introduce the Senate version of HR 676 Health Care for All. Any of these actions could swing the tide towards Single Payer.  The payoffs are flowing, and none better to cash in than Chuck Schumer.

NYTimes: Tie Congress’s Paychecks to Our Good Health - I don’t often quote Kristoff, but we all should memorize the stats in this article. 12,000 babies per year? Right to Life? BullShit.


New Yorker: Paul Ryan and the Doubletalk About Healthcare Reform - Ryan has never worked a day in his life. He’s been on the very generous health care plan that comes with his job, financed by Americans since he was 28. Americans who just have to hope that they never get seriously ill and that Ryan doesn’t kick them off of any hope of ever getting health care coverage again. When asked why this bill gives mountainous tax breaks to the segment of the population that has reaped all the financial gains ever since the 2008 meltdown, he replies that he’s “really not worried about that” and then more double-speak.


Health Affairs: Health Care War On The Poor - When politicians of both parties (remember Dems’ ACA still leaves 30 million Americans without even the Public Option) are willing to enact legislation that will kill tens of thousands of Americans in exchange for payments from wealthy donors and health insurance companies, that is the definition of Cold Blooded Murder For Hire.

CNN: 22 Million Fewer Americans Insured Under Senate GOP Bill - Various studies have shown that - depending on the number of uninsured people there were when the study was done - approximately 1,000 uninsured people die yearly per 1 million as a direct result of lack of health insurance, and Here and Here. Here’s just one example. We currently have about 30 million uninsured as a result of the Democrat’s ACA. The new GOP bill will increase that number by 22 million, for a total of 55,000 deaths per year from both Democrat and Republican refusals to implement Single Payer - true universal coverage. If that number is 18 X per year the number of people who died as a result of the attack on 9/11, wouldn’t that imply that Democrat and Republican politicians are by far the worst terrorists of all time?

Democracy-NOW: Senate GOP Healthcare Bill Estimated to Kill 28,600 More in US Each Year - Here’s the Annals of Internal Medicine study.


NYTimes: The Senate’s Secretly Biparitsan Health Bill - The interesting part of this article is the way it’s framed. 

PNHP’s description: “Avik Roy’s framing is that there are two polarized partisan views of reform and that somewhere in the middle is the compromise on which we can all agree. Nonsense.

If we are to use linear polarization to frame the debate, then the two sides are health care policies that benefit the patients - all patients - versus health care policies that cater to special interests, whether they be the medical-industrial complex or the political ideologues.

The similarities noted by Roy are due to the fact that the neoliberal views of the Democrats are not that far from the conservative views of the Republicans, in spite of all the noise generated by this debate. Trying to establish policies that benefit the various special interests results in the profoundly expensive, highly wasteful, inequitable, fragmented, dysfunctional system that we have.

A well designed single payer system takes care of patients first, with much greater efficiency, effectiveness, and equity. The special interests that might otherwise appropriately benefit would do well in such a system though they would have to set aside personal greed and vacuous ideology.

CNN: Senate Health Care Bill Gives An Average Yearly Tax Gift of $250,000 to The Mega-Rich - That’s why the GOP wants to give the working poor a ‘punch in the gut.’


New Yorker: The Dubious Counting at the Center of the GOP’s Health-Care Reform - All of the $Billions being cut out of Medicaid go directly for tax cuts to the richest Americans. That is the only reason for those cuts to Medicaid. This is an on-going pattern: the rich pay off the politicians and all of the assets in the country and the world are being funneled up to the rich and away from the working poor and middle class. The MSM has been strangely silent on this point up to now. To the pitchforks!!!


NYTimes: Senate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Cuts to Medicaid - Something Trump said he would never do. But what else is new. Since this version does not repeal the fundamental structure of ACA, it won’t get the support of right wing Rethugs, plus they want to accelerate the vote to next week which does not leave time for real negotiations. But the defeat of this version of the bill is no reason to celebrate, since it doesn’t move us toward the ultimate goal of Improved Medicare for All and might even deter some from the focus on this goal. Its defeat still leaves 30 million + uninsured, and many 10’s of millions underinsured, and in danger of bankruptcy and homelessness in case of catastrophic medical issues. If Democraps had even a lick of common sense, they would advocate for Single Payer, since that’s what the majority of Americans state that is what they want, and Here, and Here. But will never do that because they are just as beholden to the corporate health care industry as are the Rethugs.


Americans For Tax Fairness: Price-Gouging Rx Companies to Get $28 Billion Tax Break in GOP Health Plan

Business Insider: Trump Just Sold Us All Out On Drug Pricing

Portside: Single-Payer Healthcare for California Is Very Doable


Single Payer Action: Joe Manchin Says No To Single Payer, Lindsay Graham Floats Single Payer for Sick People


Truth Out: The GOP Will Free You From Health Care - But in reality only a little faster than what was about to happen with ACA anyway - as insurance companies bail and premiums/deductibles/etc. rise. Either way, the rich will do very well while everyone else suffers.


Chicago Medical Society: Chicago Physicians Favor Single Payer Over ACA By 2 To 1

CNN: Trump Calls House Health Care Bill, That He Previously Celebrated, “Mean” - No matter what the Senate does, their ‘rules’ call for a mandatory savings of $133 Billion, pocket change for Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, but instead they’ll probably take it out of the pockets of the working poor.


JAMA: Where Does the Health Insurance Premium Dollar Go? - Apparently there are some people out there who enjoy paying 20% overhead health insurance premiums while being told what doctors/hospitals they are allowed to go to, what conditions they are allowed to have treated, and risk losing their health care altogether if they change jobs. People in all other industrialized nations in the world have made the opposite choice.


CDC: Credible Statistics on the Financial Barriers of High-Deductible Health Plans


NYTimes: The Single Payer Party? Democrats Shift Left on Health Care - Health Over Profit (a much more insightful article) comment: “Democratic voters have been strong supporters of Medicare for All for a long time, but their party has chosen to ignore them and is paying the price. Now it has a choice to make: lead or get out of the way because the people are demanding Medicare for All and nothing less!”

In the Times article Nancy Pelosi is quoted on the possibility of passage of Single Payer: “The comfort level with the broader base of the American people is not there yet.” And yet three major polls, and Here and Here, in the last year all show that approximately 60% of Americans want (and thus are very comfortable with) Single Payer, including 30-40% of self-described Republicans. Maybe it’s Nancy Pelosi and the rest of what’s left of Congressional Dems that are not comfortable with losing the very large contributions they get from the health insurance, hospital and Pharma lobbyists, which would completely dry up the moment they state their preference for Single Payer. Note: The Times article actually misrepresents the poll results, as always keeping in step with the Democratic party line.

The Dems refused to put a Single Payer plank in their platform back in June, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus still  refuses to officially endorse national single payer. They used to be the “party of the people,” but now only represent the oligarchs.

NYTimes: The Doctor Is In. Co-Pay? $40,000


OpenSecrets: Health Care Overhaul: Total Contributions From Healthcare Industry PACS to R’s and D’s - No Difference.


National Nurses United: The Speech CA Dems Don’t Want You to See - They removed it from their Youtube Page.


Center for Public Integrity: UnitedHealth Over-Billed Medicare by Another $1 Billion - This is  a case brought by the Justice Department in March. Medicare Advantage is a corporate welfare, entitlement program designed to make executives for large health insurance companies even more wealthy than they already are and to destroy conventional Medicare. See entry of 3/28 for more links.


AJC: Protestors Railing Against RyanCare Rally Outside His 6th District Event


NYTimes: Whistle-Blower Tells of Health Insurers Bilking Medicare


Common Dreams: “Single Payer!, Single Payer!”: Key Trumpcare Backer Drowned Out During Townhall


Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Big Pharma’s Pollution Is Creating Deadly Superbugs While the World Looks the Other Way - These bugs are worse than MRSA and can alter their own DNA in response to various types of treatment.


ABC News: Trump Praises Australian Universal Healthcare System


NYTimes: What’s In The Current House Version of Repeal-and-Whatever

UK Guardian: Obamacare vs The Revised Republican Health Care Bill: Key Differences - Tens of millions to lose health insurance, tens of $Billions in tax cuts for the rich.


CNS News: Rep. Connolly: If GOP Repeals Obamacare, Democrats Only Fallback Will Be Single-Payer


National Bureau of Economic Research: Cost of Service Regulation In US Health Care: Minimum Medical Loss Ratios - Kind of long and wonky, but this research bears out what I’ve pointed out before. “Loss” is what insurance companies call it when they have to pay for the health care you need. Under Obamacare, insurance companies are guaranteed a 20% profit over and above that amount on all medical claims (loss).

Medicare overhead is less than 2%, and Here because it doesn’t take a profit, doesn’t do any marketing and does not pay exorbitant executive salaries.

But insurance companies want more. And since the rate of profit is capped, the only thing they can do to increase profits in dollar terms is increase medical spending, and use that to increase premiums which increases their profit levels (though not margins). So they encourage more clinical services, which increases the absolute dollars they can take in profits. Note this is the exact opposite of the direction that we as a nation need to go. The goal should be to reduce the overall health care costs of the country - by encouraging preventative measures, reducing drug costs, regular checkups, and not waiting until the patient has to go to the ER, etc.

But under the current system, the money moves from the pocket of the consumers (in the form of premiums) and into the pockets of the already vastly overpaid executives - who only want more and more. Wouldn’t happen with Single Payer.


Health Over Profit: Small Businesses Are Coming Around: Single Payer Would Be Better


The Nation: Single-Payer ‘Medicare for All’ Is The Only Healthcare System That Makes Sense


LATimes: This One Unbelievably Expensive Iowa Patient Makes the Case for Single Payer Healthcare


Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Worse than MRSA: Doctors Call For Urgent Action On Deadly Superbug Threat - These are bugs that can alter their own DNA to be resistant to new antibiotics and have some sort of ‘quorum sensing’ ability so that they wait until there are sufficient numbers of them present before turning on their virulence gene. Stay away from livestock farms, hospitals and nursing homes.


Reuters: Uninsured Trauma Patients, Cured Into Destitution - This is routine in the US, but unheard of in every other OECD countries.

NPR: Report: US Spends the Most For Health Care of All OECD Countries - Complete with charts and graphs. We spend about 2 X as much per capita as the next most expensive countries (UK and Japan), and yet US life expectancy is lower.


Annals of Internal Medicine: Single-Payer Reform: The Only Way to Fulfill the President’s Pledge of More Coverage, Better Benefits and Lower Costs -

Table. Estimated Administrative and Prescription Drug Savings Under Single-Payer Reform, 2017

$219.6 billion  Insurance overhead and administration of public programs

$149.3 billion  Hospital administration and billing

$ 75.3 billion  Physicians' office administration and billing

$503.2 billion  Total administration

$113.2 billion  Outpatient prescription drugs

$616.4 billion  Total administration plus outpatient prescription drugs

Total: $1.68 Trillion


Time Money: What is Single-Payer Healthcare and Why Is It So Popular? - A 10-min read that explains all of the basics.


Conway Daily Sun: Ann McGarity: As A Conservative, I Advocate for Single Payer

UK Guardian: Universal Healthcare Supporters See Their Chance - Rallies across the USA occurred Saturday. There is one mis-statement in this article, paragraph 7. The correct statement would be: “Under the New York Health Care Act, New York would pay for every resident not covered by an existing federal health care program. Under a nation-wide Single Payer system the federal government (with an overhead of less than 2%) would pay for everyone’s health care.” Health insurance corporations, under the 80-20 Obamacare rule, are allowed to take a 20% cut for overhead. The nation-wide system could be funded by a 3.5% payroll tax across the board, which would be $59 for every $20,000 earned. Balance that against never having to pay another premium, deductible, co-pay, condition-not-covered, lifetime limit, etc., and that’s a pretty good deal.


Lancet: America, Equity and Equality in Health, All Things Not Being Equal - Here’s an excerpt that provides the gist. This prestigious health journal recognizes that far from achieving the dream of universal, affordable health care, our system is extremely biased in favor of the very rich and to the detriment of those less well off. That’s a sin.


Paste Magazine: An Actual Doctor Debunks 7 Myths About Single Payer - Clear and concise. The only answer to the health care crisis in this country is Single Payer, and there’s never been a better time to push for it.

Salon: Disposable Americans: US Healthcare System Condemns Thousands of Americans to An Early Death - And behind it all is the ever widening gap in wealth, income and job security of the bottom 99%.

Economist Poll: Another Poll Shows 60% of Americans, Including 40% of Self-Identified Republicans/Trump Voters Favor Medicare For All - See item 81 of this poll. This comes on the heels of the Gallup poll last May and the Pew Research poll in January, both showing the same numbers. Hard to argue with 3 separate polls that all show the same numbers.


The Hill: Why ‘Medicare For All’ Is The Best Deal For Trump - Written by a thoughtful doctor.

NYTimes: Iowa’s Largest Insurer Withdraws From Obamacare Exchanges - Neither of the other two insurers in the state will commit. Obamacare is rapidly going under, increasing the number of people nationwide who cannot afford coverage. 60% of Americans want Single Payer, but all Rethuglicans and most Democraps, like Nancy Pelosi, will not sign on to either the House (HR676) or Senate bills (SB562).


Health Over Profit: Fareed Zakaria: Trump Was Right on Health Care Most of His Life - Very little in the article has to do with Cheetoman. But it is a great summarization of 1) why the health care market will never work well as a “free market,” and 2) a quick summary of what every other industrialized nation uses to cut overall healthcare costs and to greatly improve medical outcomes: some form of government run single payer system with private providers.

Portside: Five Promising Signs For Single-Payer In The Last Week


Health Over Profit: Democrats Against Single Payer - Dems only advocate for Single Payer when it doesn’t cost them anything. But time after time, they renege time.

Intercept: Bernie Sanders Wants to Expand Medicare to Everybody - Exactly What Its Architects Wanted


LinkedIn: Insurance is Driving Physicians Mad; Nearly Half Say They’d Prefer Single Payer

Canada Drugs: Big Pharma Spends More on Advertising Than R&D - The US and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world where this is true. Next time you hear a pharma lobbyist say that drug importation will negatively affect their R&D, think of this.


Kaiser Health News: Justice Department Joins Lawsuit Alleging Massive Medicare (Advantage) Fraud By UnitedHealth - United is one of several corporations that has upcoded and overbilled the government for years, while government auditors are prevented from doing their job by lobbyists and politicians. The total of improper payments across all of the insurance corporations since Medicare Advantage was first created probably runs in the tens of billions. That is in addition to the fact that the typical MA patient costs the government 14% more (even without the fraud) than a patient in traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage was always designed to be a welfare program for giant health insurance corporations and a nefarious way for these insurers could eventually take over all of Medicare. Imagine how conservatives would howl if this amount of fraud was discovered in the conventional welfare system. Here is JAMA’s perspective.


Common Dreams: “Thunderous Applause” Welcomes Sanders Call for Medicare-For-All - "If Democrats go with a half-a-loaf policy, Republicans are going to blame them for the failures of Big Pharma. They have to immediately pivot to expanding Medicare."

Upworthy: When Her 5-Year-Old Broke His Leg, This Mom Raised $0


Health Over Profit: Let’s build on the Victory Over Ryancare - The failure of Ryancare revealed deep divisions within the Republican party. From the article:

“The impact of the resistance movement, which spoke out at Republican town halls, held rallies and marches, protested at Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin office and sent massive numbers of emails and phone calls into congressional offices, was so evident that even the corporate media and leading Democrats gave the movement credit. Without pressure from below, the Republican divide would not have been so large.”...

“While defeating the extremist Republican version of market-based health care is a victory, the country is still left with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), another market-based system. It allows pharmaceutical companies to overcharge on essential drugs and ensures investors make significant profits from for-profit hospitals, private insurance and healthcare products.The essential understanding that we must share with everyone is that insurance is an investment vehicle to make money for investors, not to provide health care. They make money by charging the highest premium they can and paying the least amount for health services. They are a very costly middleman that is not needed.”

Before 1973, it was illegal to carry out medical care as a profit-making business.


PNHP: After Speaker Ryan Pulls GOP ‘Slash and Burn’ Health Bill, Doctors’ Group Urges Passage of A Single-Payer Health Plan

NYTimes: What Comes Next for Obamacare? The Case for Medicare for All - In clear language, this article summarizes the main advantages of Single Payer:

After 7 years of bitterly complaining about Obamacare, nobody in the “repeal and replace” GOP had taken the time to come up with a reasonable alternative.

“Part of the appeal of Medicare for all is that single-payer systems reduce financial incentives that generate waste and abuse. Mr. Ryan insisted that by relegating health care to private insurers, competition would lead to lower prices and higher quality. Economic theory tells us that this is a reasonable expectation when certain conditions are met. A crucial one is that buyers must be able to compare the quality of offerings of different sellers. In practice, however, people have little knowledge of the treatment options for the various maladies they might suffer, and policy language describing insurance coverage is notoriously complex and technical. Consumers simply cannot make informed quality comparisons in this industry.

In contrast, they can easily compare the prices charged by competing insurance companies. This asymmetry induces companies to compete by highlighting the lower prices they’re able to offer if they cut costs by degrading the quality of their offerings. For example, it’s common for insurance companies to deny payment for procedures that their policies seem to cover. If policy holders complain loudly enough, they may eventually get reimbursed, but the money companies save by not paying others confers a decisive competitive advantage over rivals that don’t employ this tactic. Such haggling is uncommon under single-payer systems like Medicare

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, administrative costs in Medicare are only about 2 percent of total operating expenditures, less than one-sixth of the rate estimated for the private insurance industry.

American health care outlays per capita in 2015 were more than twice the average of those in the 35 advanced countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yet despite that spending difference, the system in the United States delivers significantly less favorable outcomes on measures like longevity and the incidence of chronic illness.

But advertising expenses and administrative costs are not the most important reason the United States spends so much more. The main difference is that prices for medical services are so much lower in other countries. In France, for example, a magnetic resonance imaging exam costs $363, on average, compared with $1,121 in the United States; an appendectomy is $4,463 in France, versus $13,851 in America. These differences stem largely from the fact that single payers — which is to say, governments — are typically able to negotiate more favorable terms with service providers.

In short, Medicare for all could deliver quality care at much lower cost than private insurers do now. People would of course be free to supplement their public coverage with private insurance, as they now do in most other countries with single-payer systems, and as many older Americans do with Medicare.”


Vox: If You’re A Millionaire, the AHCA Gives You $50K. If You’re Poor It Costs You $1,420


Health Over Profit: For-Profit Health Care Used to be Illegal - Before 1973 (Nixon) medical care was regarded as a service industry, not as for-profit businesses. It was considered unethical for doctors, hospitals or insurance companies to even advertise.


ProPublica: Fired US Attorney Preet Bharara Was Investigating HHS Sec. Tom Price - Price has a history of buying up pharmaceutical stocks just before submitting legislation favorable to the company. But ethical behavior has never been his weakness.

Raw Story: Trump Supporter Credits Trumpcare (Which Hasn’t Taken Effect) For Dramatically Lowering Health Care Costs - Amazing.


HuffPo: Watch This Woman School Tom Price On His Hypocrisy Around Planned Parenthood


The Tennessean: Meet the Protester Who Interrupted Trump’s Rally


Common Dreams: Bernie Sanders’ Town Hall in Trump Country: “Healthcare Is A Right” - He got a standing ovation from a town that voted 75% in favor of Trump. We’d be a far different country right now if the Democratic party had carried out a fair nominating process.


NYTimes: 24 Million Will Loose Healthcare under TrumpRyancare

Intercept: More Guns, Less Medicine: Trump’s Military Spending Binge Would Swamp Savings From Health Care Repeal - The reason AHCA doesn’t save more is because it includes a $600 Billion tax cut for the wealthy.


Vox: The Republican Health Plan is a Huge Betrayal of Trump’s Campaign Promises, And Trump Voters Will Pay the Highest Price


NY Mag: Watch Paul Ryan’s Adam’s Apple When He’s Asked Why His Health Plan Cuts Taxes for the Rich - Rethuglicans: More wealth for the wealthy. More health for the wealthy. Everyone else can go suck on a lemon, and, once they are too sick to exploit either in the workplace or the marketplace, go find a ditch and lay down an die. If there was ever a time for working people to rise up, this is it.

HuffPo: An Open Letter to Trump: The GOP Health Plan Won’t Work, Replace ACA With Single Payer


Democracy-NOW: The GOP Fix For Obamacare: The Rich Get Tax Breaks, Million of Other Lose Health Care


NYTimes: GOP Repeal Bill Will Cut Funding For Poor and Cut Taxes For Rich - The redistribution of wealth continues to trample on those less fortunate.


Health Over Profit: Obamacare Meeting Bends Toward Single Payer Solution


Popular Resistance: Translating Trump’s Healthcare Promises - Trump’s remarks to Congress, followed by an analysis of what they really mean.

Summary: “It looks like Trump’s promise of “insurance for everybody… much less expensive and much better” is deceptive. Insurance for everybody means access to insurance, not actually being insured. Much less expensive means insurance that does not protect your financial assets, it you have any. Much better means that you have a choice of purchasing worthless plans, if you call that better.”


Truthout: Amid GOP Attacks on Health Care, The Movement for Single-Payer Is Growing


Kaiser Family Foundation: Listening to Trump Voters With ACA Coverage: What They Want in a Health Care Plan - Less complicated plans, more transparency regarding treatment costs, lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, lower priced drugs, no surprise medical bills, lower premiums, wide networks of doctors and hospitals to choose from, and they have no use for HSAs. There is only one plan that fits.


Annals of Internal Medicine: Single-Payer Reform: The Only Way to Fulfill the President’s Pledge of More Coverage, Better Benefits, and Lower Costs - “Researchers estimate a $500+ Billion savings per year.” This is a ‘breakthrough article’ because it’s the first time such a prestigious medical journal has published anything so pro-Single-Payer. Here are the major points in the article, just in case you don’t happen to belong to the American College of Physicians. 58% of Americans favor Single-Payer over ACA or any other system, including 73% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans. And yet strangely it’s not ‘DP’ approved - except maybe as a great talking point. None of the party bosses from either the ‘DP’ or the ‘RP’ will allow it past committee. Oh, that’s right. It’s not “realistic.” Even though it is realistic in every other industrialized country in the world and even though overhead costs would drop from 20+% to less than 3%. Time for a new approach?


OurFuture: 5 GOP Health Care Buzz Phrases You Need to Inoculate Yourself Against


The Atlantic: A Political Opening for Universal Health Care?


The (Coweta) Citizen: Government Runs The Military (and Police and Fire Departments); It Can Run Healthcare - Medicare has a 3% overhead (not counting Medicare Advantage), private insurance has a 20% overhead. Lots of other good, standard points in this article.


The Citizen: Healthcare Solution: Make Medicare Available to All


US Congress: HR676 Improved Medicare Health Care For All, Single Payer Re-Introduced Into 115th Congress

STAT: In Iowa, Financial Pain Follows Trump-Style Medicaid Reform


WashPo: Repeal of ACA Will Kill More Than 43,000 People Annually - ...unless its replacement is Single Payer.


Pew Research: More Americans (60%) Say Government Should Ensure Health Care Coverage - This is the highest percentage in 10 years and is up from 51% of all Americans who felt this way last year. 85% of Democrats and 32% of Republicans agree that it is the government’s responsibility to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage.

CNN: Paul Ryan: GOP Will Repeal, Replace Obamacare at Same Time


Truth Out: Noam Chomsky: The US Health System Is An “International Scandal” -- And ACA Repeal will Make It Worse - "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


LATimes: Millions Sign Up For Obamacare as Trump and GOP Lawmakers Scramble for a Way to Roll it Back


NYTimes: The Health Care Plan Trump Voters Really Want - really Single Payer, they just don’t know it. What they really don’t want is exactly what Rethugs are proposing as the replacement: a voucher system to replace Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid.

Health Reform 2016