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By David Swanson
Canada did not create a civilized healthcare system nationally until its provinces led the way. Clearly Congress is dragging behind the states in our country, and it is through state successes that we will eventually compel the U.S. government to provide our people with this basic human right.
Blogging GREAT Chile Earthquake/Tsunamis; Pres. Bachelet A Steady Leader; Japan Prepares For Tsunamis
by Linda Milazzo
UPDATED: Feb, 28, 2010/5:40AM (local Chile time)
CNN International is now reporting 101 aftershocks have been recorded in Chile since yesterday's 8.8 earthquake with 7 at 6.0 or higher. Over 300 fatalities have been reported with 60 reported missing.
Japan is seeing tsunami flooding on its northern island of Hokkaido. The tsunami projection from NOAA reports a wave of 4 feet has just arrived. 320,000 coastal residents have been evacuated. The tsunami warning for Russia has been lifted.
UPDATED: Feb, 28, 2010/3:40AM (local Chile time)
The death toll in Chile is now confirmed at 300. Chile has not yet asked for help from other countries. More than one million buildings have been damaged. More than a half million houses have been completely destroyed and two million people affected. President Bachelet has been coordinating services steadily for nearly 24 hours since 5AM yesterday.
It's Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of the very libertarian Reason magazine:
To put it plainly, when free marketers warn that Democratic health care initiatives will make us more “like France,” a big part of me says, “I wish.” It’s not that I think it’s either feasible or advisable for the United States to adopt a single-payer, government-dominated system. But it’s instructive to confront the comparative advantages of one socialist system abroad to sharpen the arguments for more capitalism at home.
For a dozen years now I’ve led a dual life, spending more than 90 percent of my time and money in the U.S. while receiving 90 percent of my health care in my wife’s native France. On a personal level the comparison is no contest: I’ll take the French experience any day. ObamaCare opponents often warn that a new system will lead to long waiting times, mountains of paperwork, and less choice among doctors. Yet on all three of those counts the French system is significantly better, not worse, than what the U.S. has now. ...
In France, you are covered, period. It doesn’t depend on your job, it doesn’t depend on a health maintenance organization, and it doesn’t depend on whether you filled out the paperwork right. Those who (like me) oppose ObamaCare, need to understand (also like me, unfortunately) what it’s like to be serially rejected by insurance companies even though you’re perfectly healthy. It’s an enraging, anxiety-inducing, indelible experience, one that both softens the intellectual ground for increased government intervention and produces active resentment toward anyone who argues that the U.S. has “the best health care in the world.” Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
Geneva, Switzerland--As I write this article, I’m seated in a hotel room across from the train station in Geneva, Switzerland. There’s a slight, dull pain in my forehead from a two-inch line of stitches that are pulling together a gash that runs diagonally across my brow, thanks to a stumble on a high step on a sidewalk in the rain last night, that sent me flying airborne headfirst into a round metal lamppost.
I have been covering the Fourth Congress Against the Death Penalty sponsored by the United Nations and the international abolition movement, which brought together anti-death penalty groups from all over the world, and featured talks and workshops with a number of people, several from the US, who had spent years and even decades on death rows before being found innocent of the crimes that had put them there.
The Veterans Affairs Department says it will take a second look at the disability claims of what could be thousands of Gulf War veterans suffering from illnesses they blame on their war service, the first step toward potentially compensating them nearly two decades after the war ended.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the decision is part of a "fresh, bold look" his department is taking to help veterans who have what's commonly called "Gulf War illness" and have long felt the government did little to help them. The VA says it also plans to improve training for medical staff who work with Gulf War vets, to make sure they do not simply tell vets that their symptoms are imaginary — as has happened to many over the years.
"I'm hoping they'll be enthused by the fact that this ... challenges all the assumptions that have been there for 20 years," Shinseki told The Associated Press in an interview.
The changes reflect a significant shift in how the VA may ultimately care for some 700,000 veterans who served in the Gulf War. They also could improve the way the department handles war-related illnesses suffered by future veterans, because Shinseki said he wants standards put in place that don't leave veterans waiting decades for answers to what ails them. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 26, 2010) — A new UN resolution has the potential to fight torture and cruelty, say experts on the British Medical Journal website.
The resolution, passed in March 2009, goes further than previous rulings, say the authors and spells out that "states must never request or require anyone, including medical or other health personnel, to commit any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Lead author, Dr Peter Polatin from the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims in Denmark, says there is substantial evidence that health professionals have been involved in torture around the world, for example in Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in the mid-1990s, in Israel and in Guantanamo Bay.
Progressive "last stand" made on one leg, hands tied
This morning's Progressive Caucus pronouncement probably would have worked better:
Today’s summit is an opportunity for Americans outside the beltway to learn about the best health care proposals. We believe the public option is the best and most effective proposals to reform our country’s broken health care system and provide affordable, accessible health care for every American and it should be included in today’s discussion.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 22, 2010) — Most directors of internal medicine residency training programs would prefer not to accept pharmaceutical support for the residencies they oversee, but more than half report doing so, according to an article in the February 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 22, 2010) — Two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a study released in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
This is the largest nationally representative study to date of the toll taken by sepsis and pneumonia, two conditions often caused by deadly microbes, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA. Such infections can lead to longer hospital stays, serious complications and even death.
by Marcy Winograd
Imagine if in 2010 we did not spend one more borrowed penny to manufacture new weapons, occupy new lands, or recruit new mercenaries. Going cold turkey on military spending would wipe out nearly $1 trillion of our 1.6 trillion dollar deficit. A year and a half of war & weapons abstinence could erase our debt entirely.
Unfortunately, America is addicted to war and to debt. Fortunately, we can work together to kick the perpetual war and debt habit.
DC! Single Payer Advocates Hold Sidewalk Summit on Thursday, Feb. 25 - Call White House, Congress, Rally In Your Community!
President Obama recently said, "If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know."
We should let him know that single-payer, Improved Medicare for all, accomplishes all those goals.
Call the White House at 202-456-1111. Tell them, "I'm letting you know that improved Medicare for all (HR 676) is better than the health bill proposed by Congress."
If you have another second, email the President here to ask him to start from scratch on health reform.
And don't forget to call Congress for single-payer.
"Margaret Flowers invites everybody to the Sidewalk Summit on Thursday, Feb 25th. Gather at 9 am on Pennsylvania Ave in front of the White House (north side) to hear why Medicare for All is the solution. If you can't be in DC, then hold your own Sidewalk Summit. Info at healthcare-now.org." -- from Dr. Margaret Flowers
Much more at Health Care NOW!
By David Swanson
What the liberal activist world is doing for healthcare bears a striking similarity to what Christianists do for billionaires. Supporting tax breaks for the richest three-percent of Americans because you hate gay people or women or blacks or sex does not at first look much like supporting a "public option" for three percent of the poorest of Americans.
But both shape national policy around a supposedly national program that in reality will benefit only some small percentage of people. Feel free to quibble over the number, but Obama promised the insurance companies in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 9, 2009, that it would be under 5 percent. Let's be generous and call it four, a "public option" for four percent of us.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2010) — Childhood leukemia rates have more than doubled over the last 15 years in the southern Iraq province of Basrah, according to the study, "Trends in Childhood Leukaemia in Basrah, Iraq (1993-2007), published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The authors, three of whom are from the University of Washington, say they hope their calculations can now pave the way for an investigation into reasons why the rates have climbed so high, and why they are higher than found in nearby Kuwait, or in the European Union or the United States.
The study documents 698 cases of leukemia for children aged 0-14 during the 15-year period, with a peak of 211 cases in 2006. Younger children had higher rates than older ones.
ScienceDaily (Feb. 16, 2010) — Value-based insurance design (VBID) in which consumer payments are waived for highly effective treatments, but are raised for less effective ones, could increase the benefits of healthcare in the US without increasing expenditures, according to research published in PLoS Medicine. The costs saved by VBID could be used to subsidize coverage for the currently uninsured, providing a substantial improvement in health outcomes.
By David Swanson
A bill to create single-payer healthcare in California has passed that state's senate for the third time now. Californians just need to persuade a governor to sign it. Single-payer healthcare bills are advancing in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and a growing list of states, including New Mexico, where State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a long-time supporter of single-payer healthcare, is running for Lieutenant Governor.
Now North Carolina house candidate Marcus Brandon has pledged to introduce a bill to create single-payer healthcare in that state. Brandon, whom I know and like and who worked for Congressman Dennis Kucinich's 2008 presidential campaign, is a candidate in North Carolina House District 60. That's near Greensboro, where I can just picture Marcus sitting at a lunch counter and refusing to be provoked.
——-I: Causalities of Economic Terrorism, Surveying the Damage
——-II: The Rise of the Economic Elite
——-III: Exposing Our Enemy: Meet the Economic Elite
——-IV: The Financial Coup d’Etat
——-V: Overcoming the Divide and Conquer Strategy
——-VI: How to Fight Back and Win: Common Ground Issues That Must Be Won
“The war against working people should be understood to be a real war…. Specifically in the U.S., which happens to have a highly class-conscious business class…. And they have long seen themselves as fighting a bitter class war, except they don’t want anybody else to know about it.” — Noam Chomsky
As a record number of US citizens are struggling to get by, many of the largest corporations are experiencing record-breaking profits, and CEOs are receiving record-breaking bonuses. How could this be happening; how did we get to this point?
The Economic Elite have escalated their attack on US workers over the past few years; however, this attack began to build intensity in the 1970s. In 1970, CEOs made $25 for every $1 the average worker made. Due to technological advancements, production and profit levels exploded from 1970 - 2000. With the lion’s share of increased profits going to the CEOs, this pay ratio dramatically rose to $90 for CEOs to $1 for the average worker.
Paul Buchheit, from DePaul University, revealed, “From 1980 to 2006 the richest 1% of America tripled their after-tax percentage of our nation’s total income, while the bottom 90% have seen their share drop over 20%.” Robert Freeman added, “Between 2002 and 2006, it was even worse: an astounding three quarters of all the economy’s growth was captured by the top 1%.”
Due to this, the United States already had the highest inequality of wealth in the industrialized world prior to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, which has hit the average worker much harder than CEOs, the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99% of the US population has grown to a record high. The economic top one percent of the population now owns over 70% of all financial assets, an all-time record.
Join leading single-payer advocates on a national conference call this Monday, February 15th at 8pm EST for a discussion of the rise and fall of the public option and why improved Medicare for All, is still the leading policy solution to our health care crisis. Go here to register.
It's Official: 2009 Was Record Year For Lobbying, Despite Recession
By Arthur Delaney | Huffington Post
Every big sector spent more, first and foremost the pharmaceutical and health products industry, which spent $266.8 million -- "the greatest amount ever spent on lobbying efforts by a single industry for one year," according to CRP. Business associations spent $183 million, oil and gas interests spent $168.4 million and the insurance industry shelled out $164.2 million.
The final reports are in and we can now officially say that 2009 was the most profitable year ever for the lobbying industry.
The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics tallied lobbying income data from tens of thousands of disclosure filings, and the data show that special interests of all stripes spent $3.47 billion lobbying the federal government in 2009, up from $3.3 billion the previous year.
How did the influence industry manage such a banner year despite a battered economy? The simple answer is that the Obama administration's aggressive change agenda has prompted businesses to open their wallets to an unprecedented degree in the hope of preventing reform. Read more.
It Never Ends: Health Insurance Profits Soar | Press Release | February 12, 2010
WASHINGTON, February 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today blasted the country’s five largest health insurance companies that posted $12.2 billion in profits last year, 56 percent more than in 2008.
“In the midst of the worst recession in memory, with working families struggling to keep their heads above water, insurance companies are siphoning more and more profits out of American consumers,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate health committee.
“These horrendous rate increases will not only impact millions of individuals, but make our entire economy less competitive,” he added. “This outrage is more evidence, as if any were needed, that we cannot stop fighting to reform the health care system in the United States.”
Health Care for America Now conducted a study of public records and found that WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group, Cigna Corp., Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. covered 2.7 million fewer people than they did the year before. Some of the insurers actually cut the proportion of premiums that went to medical care and put more into salaries and profits.
The companies' 2009 profits soared while insurers raised premiums and denied coverage to millions of Americans.
WellPoint's profit margin of 7.2 percent was the highest of the five big insurers. Anthem Blue Cross, a California subsidiary of WellPoint, has come under fire for jacking up premiums by as much as 39 percent this year on some individual health policies.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius insisted that the company justify the rate increase in detail. "Look," Sen. Sanders said, "insurance companies are ripping off the American people from coast to coast. It is absolutely appropriate for the secretary of Health and Human Services to call them out on that."
National Single-Payer Leader Endorses Winograd for Congress | Press Release
Dr. Quentin Young, Dr. King’s Former Physician, Praises Winograd’s Commitment to Health Care for All
(Marina del Rey, CA) Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, endorses Marcy Winograd for Congress 2010 in southern California’s 36th congressional district. Young, once the personal physician to Dr. Martin Luther King, admires Winograd’s enduring commitment to establishing a single-payer health care system.
“Marcy Winograd is the perfect candidate for our times,” says Dr. Young, 86, from Illinois. “Her clear-eyed support for single-payer health care and her progressive stands on a variety of issues make her the best candidate.”
Winograd, who is challenging Jane Harman in the June 8th Democratic Party primary, has been a featured speaker at single-payer rallies in Los Angeles and has worked to mobilize support for resolutions putting the California Democratic Party on record in support of single-payer health care, a publicly-funded privately-delivered system similar to Medicare. Says Winograd, “I am thrilled to have the endorsement of Dr. Young, a national leader in the single payer movement who recognizes that health care should be a right, not a privilege controlled by a monopolistic health insurance industry. With Dr. Quentin’s support, I hope to reach out to the many thousands of single-payer supporters throughout the country who want the freedom to choose their own doctor and who long for an end to this health care crisis.”
Before serving as Coordinator and CEO of Physicians for a National Health Program, Dr. Young founded and served as National Chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, organized in 1964 to provide medical care for civil rights volunteers working in Mississippi during Freedom Summer. Dr. Young's endorsement is an individual, rather than organizational, endorsement.
Nurse Whistle-Blower Not Guilty for Reporting Doctor
Texas Nurse Fired After Sheriff Seizes Computer and Finds Letter of Complaint
By Susan Donaldson James, Steve Osunsami and Michael Murray | ABC News
A Texas jury has found veteran nurse Anne Mitchell not guilty of harassment after she wrote a confidential letter to the Texas Medical Board complaining about a doctor she believed practiced shoddy medicine.
Her lawyer, John Cook, announced the verdict today on the fourth day of the trial in Andrew, Texas.
Mitchell, 52, could have faced 10 years in prison for doing what she believed was her obligation under the law -- to report unsafe medical practices.
The verdict could have had a profound effect on whistle-blowers in Texas and nationwide. People are certainly talking. Phil Parks told ABC News, "I think that nurses must be on the side of patients. They spend more time with patients than doctors do." Read more.
Washington D.C. (February 8, 2010) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today sent a letter to President Obama commending him for calling for new ideas and a renewed discussion about health care reform. Kucinich requested that supporters of Medicare for All be represented at the upcoming February 25 health care summit.
“I hope you will invite a representative of the community that is advocating for the only health care that has consistently proven to address each of the criteria you have outlined for a satisfactory health care plan: Medicare for All,” wrote Kucinich.
Kucinich, who co-authored HR 676, Medicare for All, with Representative John Conyers (D-MI), further pointed out that many states have embraced a single-payer system of health care. Most recently, the California State Senate passed a single-payer health care bill on January 27, 2010.
Read the full letter here.
By John Marty, Minnesota State Senator, Candidate for Governor
If 21st Century Progressives led the 19th Century Abolition Movement, we'd still have slavery, but we'd have limited it to 40 hour work weeks, and we'd be so proud of the progress we'd made.
In earlier eras of U.S. history, progressives believed they could fight injustice and move society forward, and they did so. Today however, many progressives have lost faith in their ability to affect significant change. Many are content simply to tinker with problems, whether the issue is getting living wages for work, ending poverty, or removing toxins from our food supply.
When veteran nurse Anne Mitchell wrote a confidential letter last year to the Texas Medical Board, complaining about a doctor she thought practiced shoddy medicine, she assumed it would be anonymous.
Instead, Dr. Rolando Arafiles Jr. fired her after reporting her to the local sheriff -- a former patient and admirer of the doctor -- for maliciously ruining his reputation.
Police in Kermit, Texas, searched Mitchell's computer and found the letter, then charged her with "misuse of official information" in her role at Winkler Memorial Hospital, a third-degree felony in Texas under an abuse-of-power statute.
Today, 52 and out of work, Mitchell could face 10 years in prison for doing what she believed was her obligation under the law -- to report unsafe medical practices.
"She's devastated," Mitchell's lawyer Brian Carney told "Good Morning America." "It has hurt her financially. Personally, it's hard on her family to say that she has done something wrong when, in fact, she has done nothing but do her duty." Read more.
Lancaster – The Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee today unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for passage of single payer healthcare, Senate Bill 400 and House Bill 1660, also known as the "Family and Business Healthcare Security Act."
Given the healthcare reform deadlock in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania’s nation-leading status in the battle for state-based “Medicare for All,” is all the more significant.
“Not only does Pennsylvania now have the Democratic Party on board with the Single Payer healthcare for all,” said Healthcare for All PA executive director Chuck Pennacchio, “we also have the promised signature of our governor and the active support of Republican and Democratic leaders in both the State Senate and State House.”