Monday, October 05, 2009

Health Care Reform NOW! Today's Letter to President Obama and my Congressional Representatives

Now more than ever, we need to fix our broken health care system.

We speak, yet the federal government doesn't listen. A large majority of us know that the system is broken, that a single payer system is the only way to truly fix it. Yet, our legislators are paid by corporate interests not to represent our wishes, and are delivering to their corporate constituents reform that isn't reform.

Other than knowing that our Congress is bought and paid for by the already wealthy and powerful, I am not an expert in the ways of Washington. I do know that with enough will in your office, the passage of true health care reform can be influenced.

True reform in the shape of a single payer system can cut the average medical provider's administrative cost by at least half. Independent physicians know this, and they support this type of reform so insead of dozens of vendors with different practices and rates they have one. Yet a bribed Congress refuses to consider the simple system that could save lives and our fragile economy, simply so each member has to think no further than their next election.

If a single payer system isn't to be, a strong bill with a public option, gurantees of no rescission, no yearly or lifetime caps, no corporate panels denying service, no individuals going bankrupt from medical bills, no small business mandated out of business because they are forced into the role of health care provider, etc., *must* be passed. And it must be passed soon. And it must take effect immediately, not 2010, not 2012.

Our lives and our economy demand this.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Weekend Interview with John Mackey: The Conscience of a Capitalist -

The Weekend Interview with John Mackey: The Conscience of a Capitalist -

"I honestly don't know why the article became such a lightning rod," says John Mackey, CEO and founder of Whole Foods Market
He's not that studpid. His store either provides a needed service or exploits a willing market, I'm not sure which, but his average customer is better educated than most, more successful in life than most, cares more about their own health than most (or at least acts in the interest of their health with some sense of global sustainablility)...and most of them voted for Barack Obama to lead our nation to needed healthcare reform.

His piece advised that "the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us closer to a complete government takeover of our health-care system."
The proposals currently being hammered-out in Congress will not significantly add to the deficit, and as hard as I look, I can't see a Soviet style government-owned-and-run healthcare system in any of the proposals.

Saying this stuff makes you look like an idiot, Mackey, and it makes Stephen Moore look like a fascist. I suspect that neither is an idiot or a fascist. I see that in each, they are supporting an ignorant, rabid minority that will exert any political pressure it can to defeat a President and party that are currently in power trying to do the right thing - the thing that a significant majority of us voted them in to accomplish. This is deliberate political terrorism.

more health savings accounts (HSAs), more low-premium, high-deductible plans, more incentives for wellness, and medical malpractice reform. None of these initiatives are in any of the Democratic bills winding their way through Congress

These are great things. The majority of jobs in the US are supplied by small businesses. Care to tell me what percentage of small businesses supply this type of benefits, or plan to? Care to tell me how many could possibly afford this, without commanding the bulk of revenues in a niche market (sorry to say that fresh fruits and vegetables, etc., are a niche market, but it's a fact) as you do with WF?

WF, called Whole Paycheck even by many who continue to shop there, simply adds a 20-30% markup on most of their products over conventional retailers - in return for this premium, some of us consumers shop there in hopes of better quality foods, sustainable products, and we hope that our extra $$$ help pay for a well-compensated workforce.

HSAs can be great, as long as the money can roll over from one year to the next. And guess what, this money is kept in banks that make a lot of profit from this task of maintaining our savings, while we receive little or no interest for the privilege of letting them use our money - and these are the very same banks still paying their C-Level execs 300 times their average worker while receiving government bailouts (this is the kind of crap the WSJ and Mackey should be railing about, but their limited worlds, never having left the corporate farm, and extremist political agenda, do not allow them to see this). And the average worker at a Whole Foods doesn't earn very much money, certainly not enough to be a living wage in more expensive areas like L. A., Boston, etc., (and no more than a union worker at conventional markets, based on total compensation). The average employer in the US can't possibly afford to fund their employees' HSAs, and the employer can't afford to pay the employee enough so they can fund their own. The vast majority of prosperous larger employers can afford to do this...which brings us back to the hideous rise in CEO compensation.

Low premium/high deductible plans work great for people who don't get sick, but might get run over by a car, or some of the other catastrophic events that are much more likely to kill a young person than the things that older people typically die from. You know full well, Mackey, that your workforce is very young compared to most companies your size, and that LP/HD plans wouldn't be acceptable for an older workforce, and that most companies will pay their CEO, board members, etc., before they will pay their average worker enough to be able to afford the high deductibles and maintain a high level of security and health.

Incentives for wellness? Who's talking nanny, now? My gut feeling is that yes, somehow we should charge fat people, smokers, etc., more than the more-sane among us, but how do we go about doing this? And how do we reward people for eating more fresh fruits and vegetables? First we need to end all farm subsidies, since these are typically paid to corporate farmers to grow the stuff that is killing us. Second, we need to pay all of our workers more, so they can afford to choose better foods, instead of the fast cheap crap that is often the only available or obvious choice. This too goes back to the CEO pay issue, and good luck getting our bribed-Congress to take any action on that.

Medical malpractice reform? You mean that scarecrow hauled up in front of the ignorant, whether they write for the WSJ or rant at townhall meetings, that at best would save us 1-2% and not result in one more person having access to healthcare? Just stop it, bringing this up makes you look STUPID.

combining "our high deductible plan (patients pay for the first $2,500 of medical expenses) with personal wellness accounts or health savings accounts works extremely well for us." He estimates the plan's premiums plus other costs at $2,100 per employee, and about $7,000 for a family. This is about half what other companies typically pay. "And," he is quick to add, "we do cover pre-existing conditions after one year of service."

Again, you overcharge your customers so you can afford to compensate your employees in ways most employers can't, and in ways that those employers who can, don't, so their executives can have the right corporate jet and their progeny can attend the right private schools.

This type of plan does not excite proponents of a single-payer system, who think that individuals can't make wise health-care choices

How stupid are you, and how stupid do you think your readers are? A single payer system is the only way to truly simplify our healthcare system. Most medical practices pay at least half of their revenues simply to plow into the mess of an insurance system that they have to contend with, Between all of the private and public systems. This is many, many times what they spend on total insurance (malpractice, etc.). The labor cost to a medical practice to account for our haphazard corporatist medical care system can be staggering. Imagine having one price, and one entity to receive payment from. Every medical practice in the country, separated from extremist politics, is for single payer.


Right, the unions...straw man of the ignorant, extremist right.

Stephen Moore: Mackey says that he probably won't write another op-ed piece for a long, long time. Of course you want to push your, and your paper's, corporatist agenda, but why regurgitate this?