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    • Killing Herd Animals
      One of the great crimes and tragedies of our world is how we treat the animals we eat (or whose milk or eggs or other products we eat and use.) Factory farming keeps them in tiny enclosures, feeds them monotonous foods, and then when they’re slaughtered it’s a terrible experience: they’re terrified and die in […]
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Death Panels? They Already Exist

I just don't trust this guy.

I just don't trust this guy.

At a town hall meeting today in New Hampshire, President Obama “debunked” what he termed “wild misrepresentations,” including the notion that the final health care bill will not contain provisions for “death panels that will pull the plug on grandma.” That’s great news. Does that mean that the bill will force insurance companies to change policies they have in effect right now? Because insurance companies frequently refuse to pay for procedures they arbitrarily deem unnecessary, and when they do that, people sometimes die. nyceve at Daily Cheeto calls it Murder by Spreadsheet.

A story in Salon by Mike Madden, “The ‘death panels’ are already here,” highlights the same case that nyceve blogged about at the above link, and he offers several more examples of Murder by Spreadsheet. From Madden’s piece:

The future of healthcare in America, according to Sarah Palin, might look something like this: A sick 17-year-old girl needs a liver transplant. Doctors find an available organ, and they’re ready to operate, but the bureaucracy — or as Palin would put it, the “death panel” — steps in and says it won’t pay for the surgery. Despite protests from the girl’s family and her doctors, the heartless hacks hold their ground for a critical 10 days. Eventually, under massive public pressure, they relent — but the patient dies before the operation can proceed.

It certainly sounds scary enough to make you want to go show up at a town hall meeting and yell about how misguided President Obama’s healthcare reform plans are. Except that’s not the future of healthcare — it’s the present. Long before anyone started talking about government “death panels” or warning that Obama would have the government ration care, 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, a leukemia patient from Glendale, Calif., died in December 2007, after her parents battled their insurance company, Cigna, over the surgery. Cigna initially refused to pay for it because the company’s analysis showed Sarkisyan was already too sick from her leukemia; the liver transplant wouldn’t have saved her life.

I’m sure that politicians like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are well aware that the current system does exactly what they claim to fear. Perhaps they assume they will be immune because they are *very important people* who are in the public eye. Continue reading

B-B-B- But we MUST pay the Bank (Health Care is Still Off the Table)

Taking health care off the table wouldn’t bother me so much if actually made some sort of financial (or logical) sense. Or for that matter if it was actually possible. But, I’m sitting here waiting to go for a doctor’s appointment and a blood test and no one took my diabetes or the co-payment off the table.

You see, we are already paying for health care. A National Single Payer Health Care Plan would only shift some of the money that’s going to pay for administrative costs to private insurance companies murder-by-spreadsheet — using it to cover the medical expenses of the un (and under) insured. From the Physicians for a National Health Plan, Single Payer FAQ:

Won’t this raise my taxes?

A universal public system would be financed in the following way: The public funds already funneled to Medicare and Medicaid would be retained. The difference, or the gap between current public funding and what we would need for a universal health care system, would be financed by a payroll tax on employers (about 7%) and an income tax on individuals (about 2%). The payroll tax would replace all other employer expenses for employees’ health care, which would be eliminated. The income tax would take the place of all current insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket payments. For the vast majority of people, a 2% income tax is less than what they now pay for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket payments such as co-pays and deductibles, particularly if a family member has a serious illness. It is also a fair and sustainable contribution.

Currently, 47 million people have no insurance and hundreds of thousands of people with insurance are bankrupted when they have an accident or illness. Employers who currently offer no health insurance would pay more, but those who currently offer coverage would, on average, pay less. For most large employers, a payroll tax in the 7% range would mean they would pay slightly less than they currently do (about 8.5%). No employer, moreover, would gain a competitive advantage because he had scrimped on employee health benefits. And health insurance would disappear from the bargaining table between employers and employees. Continue reading