Archive for the ‘Medical Coverage Crisis’ Category

Irish Stew #60…

Monday, January 30th, 2017

[Note from Steve: Lots of mini-comments, mostly related to Mr. Trump. Don’t worry—I’m not responding to every tweet!]

International

Welcome to fascist America! That’s what needs to be on the Statue of Liberty now, thanks to Il Duce Trump’s most recent executive order which led to the detainment of Muslim travelers in the nation’s airports. This decree from a small-minded and arrogant SOB is as unconstitutional as it is unconscionable and represents a blatant pandering to his bigoted and hateful followers.

In the dragnet, Muslims who have helped the U.S. military, CIA, and state department in their fight against terrorism, Muslims who are war refugees who have legal visas after 2+ years of extreme vetting, parents visiting their children in the U.S. who have visited them many times before, and others were detained, some forced to sign papers allowing DHS to return them to their place of origin, action which mostly likely puts their lives in danger at the hands of the true terrorists. Others are left in limbo with no place to call home. Still others who have already immigrated and are contributing here in America shouldn’t leave the country, even to Canada, for fear of not being able to return. The stay granted by a federal judge in Brooklyn seems to affect only green card holders. That’s not enough!

What’s next? Muslim-Americans being required to wear crescent patches? Internment camps? Goose-stepping troops marching down Pennsylvania Avenue and in front of Trump Tower? The parallels with 1930’s Germany are scary!

“Build the Wall!” Trump’s campaign slogan is a sophism. Most claims coming out of his big mouth are sophisms. His executive orders are sophisms and carefully worded to hide his administrations racism and bigotry. American taxpayers will have to build the wall, not Mexico. Illegal immigrants will tunnel around it or come in on temporary visas, as the majority already do, most staying as good workers who do jobs Americans won’t do, raise their children to be responsible members of immigrant America, and stay out of trouble. The wall will do nothing more than another pandering to Trump’s bigoted and hateful supporters.

America’s greatness lies in its immigrant tradition. Building the wall is the least intelligent thing we can do for immigration reform. And intelligent people know that. The president of Mexico knows that, which is why he blew Mr. Trump off, among other reasons. Why waste time talking to a psycho?

Europe’s turn to the right. French and German progressives and many others are feeling the heat. Mr. Trump was the first, but he might not be the last as the world turns to right-wing demagogues. now called “populists” in the new doublespeak (see the next item). I’m the first to acknowledge that conservatism has its place—change for change’s sake can never be a sound governmental policy. Every action has at least one reaction and careful consideration must be given to whether a policy change will create unintended consequences and have negative impacts—that requires logic and reason driving careful analysis, not ideological and illogical rants.

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Accessible doesn’t mean affordable…

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Believe me, I want to give Mr. Trump a chance. At least he speaks out against the Washington insiders. In spite of disgruntled naysayers, he is our legitimate president. He played by the rules and won fair and square. Yes, I understand these rules are rigged: the GOP has twice lost the popular vote in recent memory and won in the Electoral College. But those are the rules; he won.

Mr. Trump, a newcomer to the political scene, is an unknown factor, although we’ve had strong and troubling hints in his rhetoric. This business mogul and reality TV star goes his own way. Unfortunately, unlike on “The Apprentice,” the American people can’t fire him very easily. First among my worries about the new administration is his role in foreign policy and as commander-in-chief. A person who shoots from the hip doesn’t belong in that role. That said, I find Congress and the Supreme Court more worrisome.

Congressional Republicans have been waiting to wreak revenge on liberal policies for years. Now that they control both houses, the Supreme Court, and the White House, expect fireworks displays of pent-up anger. They might even go against Mr. Trump who has occasionally shown signs that he will stand up against congressional rancor. The bullies in Congress, though, are the most vociferous about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) AKA Obamacare. Their mantra has been to repeal it in spite of having zero viable alternatives. In many ways, they now should be called congressional death squads.

McConnell and Ryan are their leaders; Price their hired assassin, and maybe Trump; and they’re all sycophants of the insurance companies and Big Pharma. I’m talking about a Republican takeover of our government that is going to result in early and needless deaths for millions of Americans as the ACA is dismantled and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid become dismembered. The GOP administration will be willing agents of the Grim Reaper marching to battle with their scythes swinging. Here are the estimates, courtesy of the Urban Institute:

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Irish Stew #59…

Monday, January 9th, 2017

International

Classic Putin? His refusal to expel U.S. diplomats in response to Obama’s retaliation for Russian hacking and inviting the diplomats’ kids to a Christmas party made me wonder if a bare-chested Putin would ride in to the party on a reindeer sporting the rest of Santa’s costume. Even without the latter, Putin’s response makes Putin look like a PR genius (can I hire his PR people for my books?) and Obama look like a chump. McCain rightly states that Putin is a murdering thug, though, and certainly not on Santa’s “nice list,” so maybe Trump’s chump for SecState won’t be approved by the Senate. Trump is swimming in dangerous waters! No one likes Putin except Trump and the narcissistic despot himself.

I’ve been very careful to separate the sleazy practices at the DNC exposed by the Russian hackers from the criminal actions of the hackers and the man who commands them, Vladimir Putin. Obama is right to say that we should be on the same page about Putin’s nefarious attempts to undermine the American election, now established by U.S. intelligence leaders—Putin is the enemy here. But I’m not alone in wondering if Obama and other Dems would give a rat’s ass about this if it had been the RNC that was hacked, or if HRC had won. Those who would say HRC lost because of the hack in spite of the findings from the intelligence community, and the continue to blame the FBI director, should just move on. Trump won, figure out why, and never let it happen again. Moreover, let’s work our butts off to keep this psycho Il Duce from destroying the world!

The art of the deal? To many one-percenters, war is a business. Either Trump wants to pander to these ghouls, or he wants a piece of the action. The U.S. sells more arms to the rest of the world than any other country and, of course, the Pentagon still wants their new and improved toys too. People get rich off war. Il Duce Trump, not content with the endowment Nature gave him, wants to extend it by forging new swords to brandish internationally. “Let’s have another arms race,” he says, “because we’ll have bigger and better bombs.” (OK, I couldn’t find the direct quote, but that’s the idea!). We have a recipe for disaster on an international scale. At the very least, I can see international conflagrations occurring as more bodies, Americans and others, are poured into the maws of Mars. Insane!

National

What’s with deifying Elizabeth Warren? This faux-progressive is becoming Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc for all HRC’s liberal faux-progressives licking their wounds after the presidential election. I can imagine “liberal Catholics” (now there’s an oxymoron!) proposing her for sainthood. Just remember, ye true progressives across the land, she campaigned for HRC in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the primaries instead of Bernie Sanders. Remember that guy, the one who could have beaten Il Duce Trump? Warren and the rest of HRC’s sleaze-team got what they deserved. And Warren is part of that crowd! She just announced she will run in 2018. I’m hoping there’s a true Massachusetts progressive candidate who will run against this faux-progressive in the primary.

Healthcare. Mitch McConnell says the first item on the agenda for the new Congress is to end the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare. McConnell, Ryan, and others in the GOP are already talking about slashing Medicare and Social Security, and Medicaid is on the way out. Do the American people really want to turn back the clock to when health insurance meant insurance that you would die young? When insurance companies dropped you as soon as you contracted something serious? When millions of people’s insurance reduced to emergency visits to ERs?

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Real life is stranger than fiction!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

That’s what I often say about incredible current events, especially those associated with political machinations and criminal actions: I can’t write this because no one would believe me—real life is often stranger than fiction. But, in the case of my first published novel, Full Medical, maybe I was prescient, except that things could become much worse than what I portrayed in that dystopian thriller. The theme permeating the entire novel is about the rich elites ensuring the best medical coverage available on Earth at the time at the expense of everyone else. “Full Medical” means full medical coverage, and in that novel only the rich can afford it, but they go far beyond anything seen up until then. I’ll not go into details because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. (It’s the first book in the “Clones and Mutants Trilogy,” by the way.)

The book starts in 2053, so the first thing to point out is that I probably got the date wrong: the healthcare coverage apocalypse described there might occur much sooner. Not only is the GOP talking about doing away with Obamacare (most GOP leaders don’t even like its coverage of preexisting conditions and children up to twenty-six living at home, in contrast to Mr. Trump—who would have thought that he would be more “liberal” than the rest of his party?). GOP members are out to destroy Medicare too, the closest thing we have to single-payer (the correct way to do things).

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Irish Stew #56…

Monday, December 12th, 2016

[It’s been awhile. I use this potpourri of news when I want to make a lot of mini-op-eds about current affairs—hence the name. Or, if you like, my Irish temper blows, and then I stew. Because I already had a political op-ed set for tomorrow about the healthcare crisis, I decided to pair this with “Monday Words of Wisdom” and clear my writing to-do list a wee bit. Let’s go to it…]

International

More Saudi duplicity. I’ve often railed against the duplicitous Saudis in this blog. Sometimes I feel like a voice crying in the wilderness. Here’s yet another example of their duplicity: while we’ve been fighting the Taliban, among others, in Afghanistan for years, the Saudis have been playing both sides, but more in support of the Taliban! To quote a recent Times article: “Saudi Arabia is critical [in Afghanistan] because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.” Was Machiavelli a Saudi? They represent the primary source for destabilization in the Middle East and are indirectly (if not directly) responsible for countless tortures and murders of innocents. They are NOT our friends.

Taiwan calling. This is one case where government intervention was required—lots of it! During the election, Trump bloviated a lot about his loathing of the People’s Republic of China (like many communist naming inventions, it’s not a republic and certainly doesn’t belong to the people). He took a congratulatory call from the Taiwanese president. Big deal! Irony?  Obama can call a brutal and murdering dictator in Cuba and Trump is criticized for accepting a call from a democratically elected leader?

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Monday words of wisdom…

Monday, September 19th, 2016

The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as a right for its people.—Bernie Sanders

In libris libertas!

Single-payer sophistic attack…

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

A 5/17 op-ed piece on page three of the NY Times, “Why a Single-Payer Plan Would Still Be Really Costly,” was as bad as the hit article about Mr. Trump on an earlier front page that he has debunked.  “All the news that’s fit to print” should be changed to “We’ll slant things to our agenda—everyone else does”!  The article about Trump’s dalliances was an outrageous attack on one candidate (what about Mr. Clinton’s philandering?).  The op-ed piece was an even worse attack on another, Mr. Sanders, though, because it was an exercise in sophism that the Times should be ashamed of promoting.  Apparently, they have no shame—libel, sophism, par for the course!

The sophistic argument made by op-ed writer Margot Sanger-Katz can be summarized as follows: Sure, single-payer works in other countries, but it won’t work here because our healthcare industry charges too much.  I quote: “If you look around the world, lots of countries have single-payer systems.  And all of them pay substantially less for health care [sic] than we do in the United States.”  Huh?  Let that specious argument sink in!  Let’s state what this author is really saying: single-payer won’t work in the U.S. because our healthcare system is too greedy, and the government can’t afford to pay to those greedy SOBs what we’re paying now.  Sophistry to the n-th degree, folks!

This is a startling admission: our healthcare system is too greedy.  It’s also sleight-of-hand, because it doesn’t detail the extent of the problem.  Service providers in our current health system are all culpable.  Big Pharma charges too much for drugs.  Insurance companies make huge profits, even in Medicare and Obamacare.  Doctors and hospitals gouge Americans as they share in the scamming of the American public with Big Pharma and the insurance companies.  And many medical supplies providers are little more than grifters.  Healthcare is completely biased the wrong way in America.  The healthcare industry is dedicated to making some rich at the cost of Americans’ pain and suffering.  To make nice what this Ms. Sanger-Katz is saying a wee bit, let’s rephrase her argument: single-payer won’t work because it’s incompatible with America’s healthcare business model.

The obvious counter to this sophist’s argument?  Fix the business model!  Start by saying that providing healthcare has no business of being a business.  It’s a service to keep people well and help them when they’re sick. The sophism lies in saying that single-payer won’t work because the above situation exists, instead of saying that the above situation needs to stop!  I want to see a healthcare system in America where its primary motivation is to help people stay healthy, not get rich.  Our healthcare system should be one of service, not exploitation.  Single-payer works elsewhere because governments have put controls in place that kill the greed that’s a stage-four cancer in the American system that will be terminal if it isn’t excised.

Medicare and Obamacare were steps forward in coverage, but people still can’t afford the coverage in our for-profit healthcare system.  Coverage goes down; prices go up.  Sophist Sanger-Katz, instead of analyzing why single-payer works in other countries, launches an attack against Mr. Sanders’s proposals that is clearly supported by the NY Times—the paper is firmly entrenched in the Dems’ establishment and therefore will attack both Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders with libelous and specious arguments every chance it gets.  Sanders and Trump are populist candidates, and the Times wants nothing to do with populism—they’re elitists following the one-percenters’ party line.  In particular, they don’t give a rat’s ass about the true problems of the poor and middle class.

Ms. Sanger-Katz wisely doesn’t include an email in her article.  If she did, I’d send her the URL for this one.  She deserves to be called a sophist.  I don’t know if she has a hidden agenda.  Maybe she works in the current healthcare industry.  Maybe she works for Big Pharma or a healthcare insurance company.  Maybe her significant other is a doctor (the hyphen in her name suggests there is one).  Who knows?  She clearly doesn’t understand logic and reason.  Our current healthcare paradigm can NEVER work.  It’s DOA upon arrival in the operating room.  Single-payer systems have been shown to work.  There are many versions of them, but they work even in the Third World (I know—I lived in Colombia for many years).  The poorer the country, the less they can afford all the fancy treatments we have access to in the U.S.…sometimes.  But we’re the richest country in the world.  If we can’t do single-payer with controlled costs and excellent coverage, we might as well throw in the towel.  Sophistic apologies for our current system do no one any good.

***

Rogue Planet is now available for all reviewers on Net Galley.

The Golden Years of Virginia Morgan.  This novel, which is a bridge between the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series” and the “Clones and Mutants Trilogy,” considers the following question: how will the U.S. government in the future handle all those old people with classified secrets in their head?  This is just a Smashwords sale.  The book will be priced at $0.99 until June 1, reduced from $2.99.  The coupon code is MP45S (type that in when you order—be sure and specify the format you want).  Pass the word to your relatives and friends.

And so it goes….

A wrinkle on a campaign issue…

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

That income gap between one-percenters and the rest of us is a major problem we shouldn’t lose sight of in the 2016 campaign.  Mr. Trump dismisses it—he thinks American workers make enough already—so he has no real solution to offer.  Mrs. Clinton pretty much dismisses it too—maybe she thinks everyone should start giving speeches to Goldman-Sachs if they need more money?  Mr. Sanders is vociferous about it, proposes solutions, but are they feasible?  What I say: solutions have to be found or all hell will break loose—there’s no place left in this world for one-percenters to hide if this problem isn’t solved.  An enlightened rich class has to come to their senses and pull others up the ladder or their days are numbered.

I once met with Nobel Prize winner Abdus Salam.  What I remember most from meeting the Pakistani physicist has nothing to do with physics.  He quipped that America could make the world a lot better place if Americans just ate fewer fast food hamburgers a year.  No vegetarian or vegan implications here.  He was speaking to profit sharing, that a small sacrifice from a First World country could help Third World countries come out of poverty, because these countries are extreme cases illustrating what happens when that income gap is ignored.  Profit sharing is something one-percenters should do more of.  In particular, they need to better the lives of the poor and middle class of the U.S. and the world.  Or else!  Think about it.  Very few people in those 18th century Paris crowds shed a tear when Madame Guillotine avenged the poor; quite the contrary.

Do I sound like a radical revolutionary?  No, I’m a pacifist.  I prefer peaceful progress to bloody uprisings.  In the latter, a lot of innocents might suffer, including me.  I’m far from being a one-percenter, but I’m financially comfortable compared to many people: I have a house, I had a good day-job, I’ve mostly had adequate medical care, and there’s still food on the table (and even a wee bit leftover for Jameson whiskey).  I’ve never been lazy and worked hard all my life, but I can understand why others are frustrated, and I even have share their frustration about not being able to get ahead.  I’m angry that I pay more taxes than most one-percenters too.  That kind of anger can boil up from the roots of society…and often does.  We’re seeing a lot of it in the 2016 election.  Sanders and Trump are both populist candidates who have responded to this anger in their own ways.

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Irish Stew #50…

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

[Yea!  Post #50 in this series.  Some might argue that I’ve been doing this too long.  I hate to disappoint: I’m just getting started!  As you should know by now, I beat my own drum cadences in these posts.  They might not be politically correct.  We worry too much about that these days.  Speak your mind.  Comments are generally accepted, as long as there’s no foul language and other nasty things.]

Conspicuous consumption, Saudi style.  I’ve ranted against this regime that’s a throwback to the Middle Ages, the “politically correct” arm of ISIS and al Qaeda.  I’ve ranted against U.S. support of these Neanderthals.  I’ve pointed out their duplicity in playing both sides in the fight against terrorism and the incredible wealth gap between Saudi royals and their poor citizens.  To reinforce the latter, have you seen the photos of the four gold-plated cars a Saudi feels he needs to travel with, cars representing millions the regime has stolen from the poor (there’s no middle class in Saudi Arabia)?—and these are just the cars he travels with.  We need to stop supporting this so-called moderate Arab state—it isn’t moderate and its leaders are the scum of the earth.

Gifts for Dems.  The GOP is imploding as we watch.  Leading the demolition crew is Trump, who speaks his mind, an amazing feat when his foot is usually in his mouth.  The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has moved so far to the right that it can never return—a few more steps and they’ll be nominating a Hitler wannabe.  Trump and Cruz, while fighting each other, are two rotten peas from the same pod.  The GOP establishment hates Trump so much they’re willing to support anyone but him, even Cruz, #2 on their hate list, who’s unloved by everyone in DC.  Kasich?  He’s a zero.  All those wonderful things he touts in his resume were either achieved by cutting other programs or via a shell game.  He talks decency, but his indecency is hidden away in the political closet—that smile hides a lot of cynical gamesmanship, to say the least.

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The fight for humane healthcare is far from over…

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Although I’ve been in a writing mind all my life, gathering what-ifs, plot and character ideas, possible settings, and so forth, many times on the back of a napkin, I published my first book, Full Medical, in 2006.  (It was a pbook—an archaic POD with Xlibris—now in a second ebook edition.)  It’s the first ebook in the dystopian sci-fi “Clones and Mutants Trilogy,” all futuristic thrillers.  Part of that dystopian vision has to do with what will happen if we don’t do something about improving healthcare.  Between then and now, the situation has improved somewhat with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare.  When the states play fair, it’s resulted in more people being covered.  But there are still many battles to be won to keep what’s portrayed in Full Medical from happening.  Because the book is set in 2054, if memory serves, there’s plenty of time for the s^%$ to hit the fan, in fact.

Along with standard insurance, both Medicare and Medicaid have improved too, mostly the latter.  Some states and governors of those states—mostly red states taking a slap at the president—haven’t played fair, though.  Much time was wasted when states refused to set up insurance pools, forcing the government to do it, which led to that silly SCOTUS case and the final decision that this was all legal.  Most of those same states decided not to buy into the new Medicaid funding either.  In both cases, they took the moral low road, preferring that the uninsured sicken and die rather than bow to the federal government.  Of course, this was mostly not wanting Obama to receive any credit, although the insurance-pool idea’s genesis was created by a Republican, Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts.  Massachusetts, being the iconic progressive state, was the first to modernize its healthcare system.  But those national sins of letting the poor die for political gain rest squarely on the GOP.

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