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Democrats and Republicans vs Health Care

I’d like to do a longer introduction to this interview with Dr. Andy Coates of the Physicians for a National Heath Program, but I think it speaks for itself. Although its tempting to support the Democratic Party’s health care plan in order to do something about the unavailabillty of basic medical coverage for millions of people (including myself at various times) the plan that is before Congress now is worthless.
The Affordable Healthcare for America Act will not control costs and will leave millions exposed. It may get through Congress, but the resulting failure to meet expectations will only transfer Americans’ resentment for health care failures from HMOs to the government. A future Republican administration will simply repeal it. The Democrats will never attempt even so much as this again. What a waste.

As Dr. Coates writes on his blog, two-thirds of Americans support ‘Medicare for all’. The Democrats might have gone this route, who knows, but they might have connected with the public on this. Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Baucus never so much as breathed a word about single-payer health care for what must seem like obvious reasons of political cowardice and HMO graft.

Read the entire article here:

The crux of each bill is compulsory private health insurance. The government will use its power to compel every individual to purchase private health insurance, or enroll in Medicaid. The bills don’t make private health insurance affordable; they propose to subsidize private insurance premiums for those who live on modest means.

For example, the House bill will subsidize the premiums of those whose income is 400 percent of the federal poverty level and below. Taxpayers would pay for this. But it would still mean that people who earn 200 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level would have to pay 8 to 12 percent of their income for private insurance premiums, or pay a fine and stay uninsured.

That would be the so-called “choice.” For the uninsured, paying for expensive insurance would amount to an enormous wage cut. And then they’ll get skimpy coverage, with high co-pays, high deductibles and all those other onerous and unworkable measures that come with very expensive private insurance.

One of the justifications that Obama and the Democrats used for these bills is that they will control the cost of health care. Are they telling the truth?

Total health care spending will not be brought under control by either of these bills. It will not bend the cost curve. As health care costs continue to increase dramatically, the crisis of unaffordable health care will continue, for ourselves and our families, with increased out-of-pocket costs, new mandatory premium payments, and ongoing medical bankruptcies will remain acute.

What about the so-called public option? What impact will it have on the health care system?

The proposals for the public option as they stand are meaningless from the point of view of reform, and ridiculous as a way to influence the insurance market. There are so many compromises it might be renamed the incredible shrinking public option. And also, as a TV talking point, it has often eclipsed a focus on what’s really in the bill.

But I think that there’s more fundamental point. The public option was never a proposal for workable reform. It’s actually a neoliberal concept. Marie Gottschalk, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has written an article in the new Socialist Register 2010 entitled “U.S. Health Reform and the Stockholm Syndrome.”

She argues that when it comes to health reform, American reformers are like hostages who identify with, and even defend, their captors. I heard her speak in New York, where she said it seemed that, if a window opened to permit real health reform, many “reformers” wouldn’t even try to climb out.

What do you mean that the public option is in fact a neoliberal proposal?

The public option idea is basically that the insurance market will magically meet our needs, as long as there is consumer choice and fair competition. This is the ideology popularized by Ronald Reagan. If only a government agency could be added alongside these giant, highly profitable insurers with their oligopoly control, then the marketplace would magically reform itself. Does that make any sense?

The insurance market rewards insurers that avoid paying for the care of sick. The public option would have to play by the same rules and compete on the same market. So in the best-case scenario, the public option would tend to enroll the sickest patients and, in turn, would have higher, not lower, expenses. The Congressional Budget Office recently made this very point in a report on the House bill.



It wouldn’t hurt to write your Representative, Senator or President to let them know you support single payer, Medicare for All, or however you want to put it. Its a symbolic gesture at this point, but it made me feel better.

If we organize patiently, and create links between people who are hurting from the instability of medical coverage and medical professionals who want to extend coverage to all, then we just may be able to turn around the inevitable campaign to repeal this hack job a few years and get something real. Here’s hoping


Stop Cliffside: Protesters Chain Themselves to “Superload” Generator in Greenville

Source: Act For Climate Justice

Several dozen protesters organized by Rising Tide took part in a worldwide day of action against global warming by protesting Duke Power’s new coal-fired 1.5-million pound generator as it passed through Greenville, SC on November 30th.  Four protesters were arrested in an act of civil disobedience after chaining themselves to the stator generator.

According to AP: “The generator and trailer…[travel] at about five miles an hour – is scheduled to resume the drive at 8:00 p.m. Monday. The stator will travel along Highway 25 and portions of Mills Avenue, Marue Drive, Washington Avenue, and White Horse Road.

“Duke Energy’s plan is to travel throughout Monday evening and early Tuesday morning hours to a spot on Highway 25 just short of Highway 124.

“On December 2, the stator will begin moving along Highway 25 towards Highway 11.  Duke Energy expects to reach the Cliffside Steam Station, near Boiling Springs, NC by mid-December.”

Coal has long been regarded as one of the most polluting forms of energy production. A recent report by the Physicians for Social Responsibility reiterated: “[c]oal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health.” The report goes on to recommend “that emissions of CO2 be cut as deeply and as swiftly as possible, with the objective of reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million…[and secondly] that there be no new construction of coal-fired power plants, so as to avoid increasing health-endangering emissions of CO2 as well as criteria pollutants and hazardous air pollutants. CO2 emissions from coal could increase 60% by 2030 if current plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in new and old coal-fired power plants are realized.”

Duke’s new coal plant has been the focus of protests since at least April of this year. Back then, Stop Cliffside organized a rally in front of Duke HQ in Charlotte to protest the announced plans to expand coal usage at the Cliffside facility, which is 50 miles from the city. Charlotte attorney Ken Davies was arrested in for trespassing in another civil disobedience arrest. Charges against Davies were dropped on November 16th.

Also on, November 16, protesters objected to two awards given to Duke CEO Jim Rodgers by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Protesters offered their own awards to Rodgers in a mock ceremony.

The South Carolina Green Party is currently fighting the Duke rate hike, which is partly intended to finance the new coal plant expansion. After other parties reach agreement on local issues with Duke Power, the SC Green Party remains the only objector to the rate increase. A hearing was held in Columbia on November 30 before the South Carolina Public Service Commission. An attorney representing the party contested the need for the rate hike. Representatives from Duke not only defended the proposed hike, but reportedly stated they would request another hike in 18 months.

Location of the Duke Cliffside Steam Station. 55 miles from Charlotte, just north of Chesnee, SC. 573 Duke Power Rd, Mooresboro, NC‎ - (828) 657-6314‎.


Call to action for November 30th protest:

Stop Cliffside:

Rising Tide, North America:

Asheville Citizen Times article “Asheville-based protesters lock themselves to generator near Greenville, SC”

WSPA article with video, including interview with protest participants: Protesters Chain Themselves to “Superload”  Generator in Greenville

Search of the week:4 people found this entry yesterday by searching “is big generator going through chesnee“. The answer to that question, if you look at the map and consider that the route is up Hwy 11, is yes.

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