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Documents provided to Congress by several large companies show that they are seriously considering dropping their employer-provided health insurance coverage because the new health care law contains a very weak employer mandate. Companies are doing the math and realizing that paying a per-employee penalty to the government for not providing coverage is substantially less than paying per employee for health insurance. It is the right economic move based on the design of the new law, and was always the long-term plan of those who helped create it. From Fortune:
AT&T produced a PowerPoint entitled “Medical Cost Versus No Coverage Penalty.” A document prepared for Verizon by consulting firm Hewitt Resources stated, “Even though the proposed assessments [on companies that do not provide health care] are material, they are modest when compared to the average cost of health care.” To avoid costs and regulations, “employers may consider exiting the health care market and send employees to the Exchanges.” (Under the new bill, employees who lose their coverage will purchase health care through state-run exchanges.)
Kenneth Huhn, vice president of labor relations at Deere, said in an internal email that his company should look at the alternatives to providing health benefits, which “would amount to denying coverage and just paying the penalty,” and that he felt he already had the ability to make this change under his company’s labor agreement. Caterpillar felt it would have to give “serious consideration” to the penalty option.
It’s these analyses — which show it’s a lot cheaper to “pay” than to “play” — that threaten to overthrow the traditional architecture of health care. Read more.
The great mystery surrounding the historic health care bill is how the corporations that provide coverage for most Americans -- coverage they know and prize -- will react to the new law's radically different regime of subsidies, penalties, and taxes. Now, we're getting a remarkable inside look at the options AT&T, Deere, and other big companies are weighing to deal with the new legislation.
Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill's critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.
That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama's statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we'll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America's employers would remain the backbone of the nation's health care system. Read more.
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH HAS GIVEN PRIORITY TO BIOWEAPONS RESEARCH
By Sherwood Ross
...previous biowarfare research and development contracts with the Pentagon clearly stated: “We have selected pigs (to gas with biowarfare agents) because they have a circulatory system and a respiratory system similar to human beings.”
The priorities of the National Institutes of Health(NIH) in the area of bacteriology have been “catastrophically re-ordered” by emphasizing bioweapons research over non-bioweapons research, a prominent authority states.
Giving priority to bioweapons research at NIH, started under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama, “diverts resources from critical public-health and scientific objectives,” says Richard Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
“The negative impact has been most severe in bacteriology, in which NIH research priorities have been catastrophically re-ordered---with research on bacterial bioweapons receiving more support than research on the top five bacterial causes of death combined---and in which non-bioweapons research has suffered catastrophic losses in resources and personnel,” Ebright said.
Ebright cited the examples of research into two bacterial pathogens: “Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which claim 40,000 and 20,000 U.S. lives each year, respectively. Each kills more Americans than HIV-AIDS (15,000 U.S. lives) “but neither of these bacterial pathogens is on the list of NIAID Priority Pathogens,” Ebright pointed out. (NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the subdivision of NIH responsible for infectious-disease research.)
On April 20, 2010, author and political gadfly Ralph Nader gave a lecture at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), in Baltimore, MD. He spoke before a near capacity audience for over an hour. Mr. Nader spotlighted corporate power and abuses in the U.S., and how AIG, the insurance titan, is the biggest recipient of “welfare--$182 Billion!” He showed how the workers in Western Europe have long had splendid social programs, like: “universal health insurance,” that are regularly denied our citizens. Mr. Nader submitted that the American psyche is dominated by a “fundamentalist market” ideology. Corporation loyalty, he also charged, citing various examples of gross abuse, is to the “dollar sign,” and not to the country. Professor Fimin DeBrabander of MICA introduced Mr. Nader.
(Progreso Weekly Note: The following piece is further proof of the selective coverage that the mainstream media offer on the Cuba issue. As several independent analysts have frequently noted, all news that contradicts the image that the powers that be promote of Cuba as part of the “evil empire” is consciously ignored or minimized.)
At the recent UN Donor Conference on Haiti, Cuba announced a program to rebuild that country’s entire national health service. Although this was, arguably, the most ambitious and impressive ‘pledge’ of the 59 governments, regional blocs and financial institutions that made commitments, it was largely ignored by the leading U.S. media --and hence overlooked by most of the world.
The Cuban program, which is based on the highly effective system developed in that country, embraces primary, secondary and tertiary health care, and medical training. Some of the highlights of the Cuban plan are: Read more.
Growing Public Anger in America
By Stephen Lendman
The Pew Research Center (PRC) for the People & the Press is "an independent, non-partisan public opinion research organization that studies attitudes toward politics, the press and public policy issues."
On April 18, it published a report titled, "Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor," saying:
"By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days." A new PRC survey confirms it, and why not under a "perfect storm of conditions" - a wrecked economy for millions fueling distrust and an "epic discontent with Congress and elected officials" who betrayed them.
People want help, by a reformed, not activist government, and Republicans as well as Democrats draw ire. Growing numbers want less government, except for regulating Wall Street, and "ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while opposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb."
For its part, though small, the Tea Party is a potential wild card, its sympathizers inclined to support Republicans, yet Republican-leaning independents say the movement represents their point of view better than the GOP.
Other PRC findings were as follows:
- 22% reported trusting Washington always or most often, "among the lowest measures in half a century;"
- 19% said they're "basically content;"
- 25% had a favorable opinion of Congress in a follow-up early April survey, compared to 25% from the March one; it's Congress' lowest score in a quarter century of PRC studies;
The Pentagon effort to consolidate two premier hospitals for treating wounded troops has more than doubled in price and is so rudderless that an independent review and a bipartisan group of legislators say the care could suffer.
The cost of closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center, replacing it with a larger complex at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and building a hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va., has risen from $1 billion to $2.6 billion, Pentagon records show.
Correcting the problems raised by Congress will cost another $781 million, according to a Pentagon report released Monday. And improvements must wait until after the new Bethesda facility — named the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — is finished in September 2011, the report says.
The independent review last year found that, without improvements, the center would lack an adequate number of operating rooms and some would be too small to accommodate the latest surgical technology. There would not be enough single-patient rooms, critical for controlling infections. Read more.
This slide show explains the recently passed health care bill.
- See the deals made to pass "reform" (slide 14)
- See the impact of those deals (slide 15)
- Cut to the chase: see the bottom line of reform (slide 29)
- Why real reform can't wait (slide 36)
From Peter Tucker, WPFW Pacifica Radio:
A group of us who are opposed to DC's mandate that sixth grade girls receive the controversial HPV vaccine testified at the DC Council before the Health Committee on Wednesday morning at a hearing on the DC Department of Health budget. The Chairman of the Committee, David Catania, who is responsible for creating the mandate, could not respond to Emily Tarsell's testimony.
Ms. Tarsell lost her daughter, Christina, 18 days after Chris was vaccinated with her third dose of Gardasil. Chris had shown signs of complications after the second dose, but since doctors don't always forewarn those receiving the HPV vaccine about the possible side effects, Ms. Tarsell had no idea that it was Gardasil that was causing the complications and that further vaccination could make things worse for her daughter.
Ms. Tarsell is a psychologist and she has merged her grief from losing her only child with her scientific skills and has become an expert on Gardasil. Among other things, she has started a website in honor of Chris (Gardasil and Unexplained Deaths). After giving her amazing testimony, as she was riding in a car to Union Station to catch a train back to Baltimore on her way home to northern Maryland, I got to interview her. Click to listen. The interview aired Wednesday evening on Spectrum Today on WPFW 89.3 FM
She is truly an amazing woman. Please spread this far and wide.
Note: For further shocking information on this, read gardasildad's comment here.
By Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont lawmakers made clear Friday that recently enacted federal health care reform did not go far enough toward a public model, passing legislation that could bring to the state the "public option" health insurance rejected by Washington or even a Canadian-style single-payer system.
By a vote of 91-42, the Democratic controlled House passed its own version of legislation passed earlier by the Senate. Both bills call for designing a single-payer system, in which a government agency would administer and make all payments for health care.
The House version calls for that as well as a parallel design of a system with a public option for health insurance, meaning a system in which a health insurance program offered by the government would compete against those offered by private companies. The House's version also would expand previously enacted reform efforts.
Either system would require federal approval.
Veteran Tanya Boldt struggled with service-connected injuries for years. She used to associate the VA with pain and nurses drawing blood. All that changed when she started attending all-women’s yoga therapy classes at the Memphis VA to treat her health problems.
“Yoga helped me to feel different about the VA,” she said. “I go into a room with low lighting and peaceful music. I stretch through the pain and relax. Now whenever I think of the VA, I think of a soft, quiet place instead.” The VA has become Boldt’s haven away from pain.
Yoga is one of the newest forms of therapy at the hospital. Three specialized yoga courses are offered: a women’s class, a seniors’ class, and a mixed-gender class.
Though the stress-relieving program has only been in place for a few weeks, it’s already very popular with the Veterans who try it. When asked if they plan to continue the yoga program, every Veteran answered the same way: “Definitely!”
Volunteer Joyce Smith leads the classes. In one of her training courses, the longtime yoga instructor heard that the military used yoga to treat PTSD, so she signed up to volunteer. Read more.
Military health care spending is rising twice as fast as the nation's overall health care costs, consuming a larger chunk of the defense budget as the Pentagon struggles to pay for two wars, military budget figures show.
The surging costs are prompting the Pentagon and Congress to consider the first hike in out-of-pocket fees for military retirees and some active-duty families in 15 years, said Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, deputy director of TRICARE, the military health care program.
Pentagon spending on health care has increased from $19 billion in 2001 to a projected $50.7 billion in 2011, a 167% increase.
The rapid rise has been driven by a surge in mental health and physical problems for troops who have deployed to war multiple times and by a flood of career military retirees fleeing less-generous civilian health programs, Hunter said. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 22, 2010) — Less than a quarter of Americans want no changes to the health care legislation signed into law by the president last month but there may be more common ground with other Americans than many think, according to the latest national survey by researchers from Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR).
When survey respondents were asked how they viewed the new law:
● 21 percent said they were completely satisfied
● 28 percent said they wanted changes made in the law
● 39 percent said they wanted the law repealed and to start the health care reform process from scratch
● 13 percent said they did not want any government health care reform
Of the nearly four in 10 Americans who want the law repealed and new legislation enacted, many still favor the same reforms that are already contained in the new law.
Click "Read more" below to access this 447 page report.
The definition of withdrawal, as applied to Iraq
By Michael Schwartz, Stony Brook State University
I have just come across a fascinating document, written at the Army War College by a Lieutenant Colonel who has just returned from an assignment in Baghdad as "Deputy Health Attaché to the US Embassy in Baghdad, working directly with the Minster of Health on the first implemented health policy since Operation IRAQI FREEDOM began." This alone is interesting, since it documents once again the way the US administrative apparatus is interlaced with the Iraqi government (i.e., US overseers sit next to the top Iraqi officials).
But look at what he says in the abstract to his 38 page report written just last month:
"Following combat operations and phasing into stabilization operations, basic health care infrastructure and systems have often been either disrupted or degraded altogether. To address this situation, the U.S. Government requires a coordinated interagency approach to formulate a strategic health care plan. Incorporating all relevant players into this endeavor will promote sound organizational design, unity of effort, and a culture favor- able to synchronization. This paper contains specific recommendations and advocates a renewed effort toward addressing them. The primary constructs under review are U.S. Government organization, leadership, and culture as they relate to a strategic health care policy. This approach will reduce redundant efforts, conserve resources, and augment the legitimacy of the new Government of Iraq while supporting U.S. national strategic aims." (my italics)
Need I point out the imperial arrogance of this???? The picture here is the US creating and implementing a plan and utilizing Iraqi agencies as instruments of the policy it develops, with the ultimate goal augmenting "the legitimacy of the new Government of Iraq."
And, more broadly, we see here that the U.S. government has not even begun to abandon its original intent of turning Iraq into a client state, that is, fully compliant with U.S. decision-making about both its internal policies (as evidenced here) and its relationship to its neighbors (as evidenced in myriad other documents).
This does not put the lie to the claims of U.S. withdrawal. Instead, it simply describes more fully the definition of the term withdrawal in the modern Washington vocabulary. The word withdrawal can now take its place in the new dictionary with the terms collateral damage, enduring bases, preventive war, and other new additions to the Washington-speak vocabulary.
War crimes and cover-ups
Veterans and human rights experts are asking why footage of U.S. soldiers committing atrocities against Iraqi civilians is being treated like an anomaly.
By Dahr Jamail | Socialist Worker
THE WIKILEAKS video footage from Iraq taken from an Apache helicopter in July 2007 showing soldiers killing 12 people and wounding two children has caused an explosion of media coverage. But many Iraq vets feel it is too little and too late.
In contrast to most of the coverage that favors the military's stated position of forgiving the soldiers responsible and citing that they followed the Rules of Engagement (ROE), Iraq war veterans who have spoken to the media previously about atrocities carried out against innocent Iraqis have largely been ignored by the mainstream media in the United States.
This includes Josh Steiber, a former U.S. Army specialist who was a member of the Bravo Company 2-16 whose acts of brutality made headlines with the WikiLeaks release of the video "Collateral Murder."
Steiber told Truthout during a telephone interview on Sunday that such acts were "not isolated incidents" and were "common" during his tour of duty. "After watching the video, I would definitely say that that is, nine times out of ten, the way things ended up," Steiber was quoted as saying in an earlier press release on the video, "Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are." Read more.
By Michael Schwartz
Here is my account of my encounter with the British National Health Service while in London, and suffering from Sciatica:
With excruciating pain that left me in no position to sleep comfortably, I was forced to faced the nightmare of socialized medicine. With the detailed forewarnings supplied by Sarah Palin and Fox News, I girded my loins, enlisted the life-risking aid of my girlfriend Carol, and ventured into the labyrinthine bureaucracy of state controlled health care.
By Linda Milazzo
Photo by Linda Milazzo (Marcy Winograd and supporter, Jim Hightower, at California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus event Friday night at Palm Restaurant honoring Marcy).
One of the most watched primary campaigns of 2010, and one of the most dramatic, is taking to the floor of the California Democratic Party Convention on Sunday, April 18th.
Israel's population is facing a dire threat: a drastic depopulation, from the use of weapons that leave behind Depleted Uranium (DU). Depleted Uranium leads to the word Omnicidal, as DU kills everything in the food chain, everywhere the wind blows. Experts say the dramatic drop in Israel's sperm count could eliminate their ability to reproduce.
Research by an Israeli doctor shows a significant drop in sperm count level and sperm motility among young Israeli soldiers in recent years. Sperm motility is the ability of sperm to move properly toward an egg.
It is attributed to the inhalation of DU aerosolized nano-particles; the dirty results of extra powerful weapons used by Israel and the U.S.
All of that military might as it turns out, could set the stage for a massive Israeli act of population suicide.
A study by Dr. Ronit Haimov-Kokhman released in November, showed a 40-percent decline in the concentration of sperm cells in Israeli sperm donors from 2004 to 2008, compared to samples taken between 1995 and 1999.
Sperm banks in Israel are now reportedly turning away as many as two-thirds of potential donors, due to the low-quality sperm. In the past, around one-third of the potential donors were turned away. Read more.
Wait, You Mean If You Leave the Health Insurance Corps In Charge They'll Still Screw Us Like Before? Who Knew?
Health insurers shifting costs ahead of law: report
By Susan Heavey, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of the largest U.S. health insurers are changing their accounting practices to book administration costs as medical costs in an attempt to circumvent new industry reforms, according to a U.S. Senate panel's report released on Thursday.
Under the healthcare law passed in March, insurers must adjust their spending habits to meet new requirements. For example, large group plans must spend at least 85 cents of every premium dollar paid to them on actual medical care as opposed to administrative costs, while individual and small group plans must spend 80 cents.
Wall Street closely watches such spending levels, known as medical-loss ratios, or MLRs, as a sign of potential profits. Major health insurance stock indexes fell after the report.
Happy Tax Day: Are Americans getting our money's worth?
By Steven Hill
Most Americans seem to regard April 15 -- the day income tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service -- as a recurring tragedy akin to a Biblical plague. Particularly this year, with US government deficits soaring, everyone from the teabaggers to Fox News and Senate Republicans are sounding the alarm about a return to "big government." Recently former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani even stated that President Obama was moving us towards -- gasp -- European socialism.
Europe frequently plays the punching bag role during these moments because there is a perception that the poor Europeans are overtaxed serfs. But a closer look reveals that this is a myth that prevents Americans from understanding the vast shortcomings of our own system.
A few years ago, an American acquaintance of mine who lives in Sweden told me that, quite by chance, he and his Swedish wife were in New York City and ended up sharing a limousine to the theater district with a southern U.S. Senator and his wife. This senator, a conservative, anti-tax Democrat, asked my acquaintance about Sweden and swaggeringly commented about "all those taxes the Swedes pay." To which this American replied, "The problem with Americans and their taxes is that we get nothing for them." He then went on to tell the senator about the comprehensive level of services and benefits that Swedes receive.
"If Americans knew what Swedes receive for their taxes, we would probably riot," he told the senator. The rest of the ride to the theater district was unsurprisingly quiet.
The fact is, in return for their taxes, Europeans are receiving a generous support system for families and individuals for which Americans must pay exorbitantly, out-of-pocket, if we are to receive it at all. That includes quality health care for every single person, the average cost of which is about half of what Americans pay, even as various studies show that Europeans achieve healthier results.
By Margaret Flowers
It was with a sense of déjà vu that I watched the latest Frontline documentary about health care. “Obama’s Deal” endeavored to reveal the significant influence of health industry dollars on our political process; however, as in Frontline’s Sick Around America, the producers did a disservice by the failure to educate the public about the bigger picture of the health care situation in this nation and the range of possible solutions.
Video: Victory for Single Payers: Charges Dropped Against Doctors Paris and Flowers On April 14, 2010, in Eastside District Court, in Baltimore, MD., criminal charges against Single Payer champions, Dr. Carol A. Paris and Margaret Flowers, were dropped by the prosecutor. Attorney Kevin Zeese explained what happened inside the court room. Then, Doctors Paris and Flowers shared their feelings about the outcome of the case. Background: On Jan. 29, 2010, Doctors Paris and Flowers were arrested outside a hotel, at the inner harbor, where President Barack Obama was slated to give a speech. They were on a sidewalk holding a banner. The doctors had a letter that they wanted to give to the President and/or one of his aides, re: "Medicare for All". They were arrested for trespassing and for refusing to obey a police order. Check it out here. For information on Single Payer, go to these websites: PNHP, Prosperity Agenda US and Health Care NOW.
I had been covering veterans' issues for several years and thought I'd developed a thick skin. But the pain on the other end of the telephone line was difficult to stomach. Sergeant Chuck Luther, now back from Iraq, was describing his journey to hell and back. The worst part, he said, wasn't battling insurgents or even the mortar blast that tossed him to the ground and slammed his head against the concrete — it was the way he was treated by the U.S. Army when he went to the aid station and sought medical help.
In gruesome detail, Luther described what happened to him at Camp Taji's aid station. He thought he would receive medical care. Instead he was confined to an isolation chamber and held there for over a month, under enforced sleep deprivation, until he agreed to sign papers saying that he was ill before coming to Iraq and thus not eligible for disability and medical benefits. "They wanted me to say I had a 'personality disorder,'" Luther told me.
Luther's call did not come out of the blue. For two years I had been investigating this personality disorder scandal: how military doctors were purposely misdiagnosing soldiers, wounded in combat, as having this pre-existing mental illness. As in the civilian world, where people can be locked out of the insurance system if they have a pre-existing condition, soldiers whose wounds can be attributed to a pre-existing illness can be denied disability benefits and long-term medical care. Read more.
Dr. Margaret Flowers is a Maryland pediatrician and Congressional Fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program, a single payer advocate and a musician. See: http://www.pnhp.org/ She was one of the speakers at a National Press Club event, Murrow Room, on April 13, 2010, in Washington, D.C. The forum dealt with the influence of coporate lobbies on U.S. elections. Dr. Flowers called for unity within the progressive movement in the struggle to “shift the power away from the corporations back into the hands of the people.” The affair was sponsored by the Green Party of Florida and the People’s Lobby Coalition for Public Funding Only for All Elections. Ms. Jennifer Sullivan, who is the coordinator of the People’s Lobby and the regional representative for the Green Party of Florida, served as the moderator.
By Dave Lindorff
If you’re like me, now that we’re in the week that federal income taxes are due, you are finally starting to collect your records and prepare for the ordeal. Either way, whether you are a procrastinator like me, or have already finished and know how much you have paid to the government, it is a good time to stop and consider how much of your money goes to pay for our bloated and largely useless and pointless military.
The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America’s imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion.
WRITING ABOUT THE UNSPEAKABLE (AIDS, the CIA and bio-warfare)
By H.P. Albarelli Jr. | TVNewsLIES
I don’t like having to write this article. I don’t like even thinking about it, but over the past few months its subject has come up repeatedly. Many television and radio hosts who have interviewed me about my new book, A TERRIBLE MISTAKE: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, have, on their own, brought up the subject of AIDS and Fort Detrick and the connection between the two. Nearly the entire ten years I worked on the book, this subject consistently loomed in the background like some malevolent poltergeist, and was essentially considered unspeakable by practically everyone I interviewed. Now things are different.
Just a few days ago, one radio host, who had actually read my entire book, asked about the many trips various Fort Detrick bacteriologists and biochemists took throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and beyond to locations in Africa. Trips were to locations like the Belgian Congo and Burundi and French Equatorial Africa. A few media hosts have remarked about the thousands of rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees that Fort Detrick went through in their countless experiments during these same years; resulting in so many mutilated and dead primates that one former Army scientist, Dr. Henry Eigelsbach, told me that sometimes their bodies had to be “scooped up with a back-hoe and loaded into dump trucks” and then carted off for disposal and incineration.
Only yesterday, a very well informed radio host in California, Cary Harrison, at KPFK-FM, asked me about well-documented reports concerning the 1969 testimony of a high-level Pentagon biological warfare official before the U.S. House of Representatives.
Nobody in their right mind wants to think or believe that the American government had a hand in producing the dreadful disease AIDS, certainly not me. My father, as a dedicated and conscientious histologist, worked for the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in the 1950s, and went on to devote his life to helping people in any way he could. He would have never done anything to hurt anyone, yet now there is strong evidence that other scientists with the U. S. Army may have done just that. Before his recent death, I asked my father about these reports. He sadly shook his head, and said, “I don’t know what’s happened to this country. I don’t understand it at all. It’s not the country I went to war for; it’s not the same country I was willing to die for.” My father was always a confident man. It distressed me to see him bewildered, but I too was bewildered. I didn’t at all like thinking about Fort Detrick and AIDS. Read more.