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  • Obamacare plan choices are simpler than Medicare.

    How much simpler can you possibly get from a “everyone’s covered with no out-of-pockets” coverage like HR 676?


  • Is there anything about health care systems that you didn’t get wrong??

    (The British NHS–despite its merits–is not a singer-payer system, while Canada’s, which you said was not single-payer, actually is)

    The European and Asian not-single payer but universal systems offer less service to those who do not pay for extra, pay doctors and nurses less, spend less on nice waiting rooms and nice architecture.

    Simply untrue. How else could a country like France have the highest-rated health care system in the world?

    If you wanted a single payer system, you should have been out marching demanding that you lose your insurance coverage, lose your current doctor because the government will pick an acceptable one for you, lose your hospital because the government will decide which ones are cheap enough to remain open

    Again, you obviously don’t understand single-payer, which does none of these things.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post The Terrible School Policy Killing Your Children

    2014-11-19 09:27:36View | Delete

    We are literally killing our teenagers by making them go to school so early in the morning. Having high school start earlier in the day is associated with a significant increase in motor vehicle accidents, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

    Oh, I concur.

    When I was a kid, our schools started at 8:30 am and finished at 3:30 pm. Where I live now they start at 7:30 am.

    This matches the parents’ work schedule, and me and a coworker friend gripe about the damn ‘farmer culture’, as he puts it, where just arriving at 7 am or even at 6:30 am is supposed to exhibit some sort of virtue. (In truth, the few times I have arrived at 6:30 am what I see are coworkers drinking coffee, reading the news, or browsing the ‘net, the same thing I might do at home before work, so greater amount of any real work gets done; if anything, less).

    9 am sounds like a good time by me. If the parents want to work early, fine. The kids can take the bus or bicycle, which is more transportation-friendly than parents insisting on driving them there personally anyways. And I also agree that even though I can get up and be somewhere early if need be, I’m more likely to be groggy during the day and fighting off sleep in the afternoon then if I come in later. This seems true even if I got the same amount of sleep the night before. If you can sleep until daylight it and be more in sync with the sun you just seem to feel better than if you have to get up in the dark.


  • Instead of a bipartisan agreement to bring that plan to scale, we got more partisan warfare. The GOP resisted, Obama surrendered his mantle of bipartisanship, and Democrats muscled through a one-sided law that has never been popular with a majority of the public.

    What alternative universe does Fournier live in? The one we humans lived in had Obama and the Senate Dems going out hat-in-hand *begging* Republicans to come forth and put in their ideas (remember Baucas’s Gang of Six?). In the end the very Republicans who participated in talks ended up saying that they’d still *vote against any plan that was even based on their on proposals* in any final Senate bill.

    What this shows is there is an entire class of “centrist” pundits that know nothing and care nothing about actual policy.

    Or even basic facts, as we keep hearing how “reasonable” the “Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan” is when there is factually no such plan (the committee never agreed to any plan) and moreover even the plan that Simpson and Bowles unofficially published relied on magical ponies to adjust health care inflation downwards. This is what Serious People consider “fact”.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Approval of Obamacare Hits a New Low

    2014-11-17 16:12:57View | Delete

    There’s no evidence that comprehensive, affordable, universal healthcare or anything close to it can be provided based on for-profit insurance.

    I would add for-profit medicine is equally a bad player as the much-(and rightly so) maligned for-profit insurance. When you have an indigent patient or one with poor insurance, go cheap on the treatment. When you have a patient who has good insurance or who can pay, start ordering all the tests and treatments you can to drive up the bill to make higher profits. For-profit medicine creates all the wrong incentives for care.

    In my case, back several years ago, the hospital started to threaten to kick me out some 4 days after my accident (with me unable to get out of bed without two people assisting!!). The hospital did this claiming that it was the bad insurance company refusing to pay. When I called the insurance company, they explained that the hospital had already gotten paid (they paid the hospital a lump sum for my types of injury) and it mattered not a whit to them how long I stayed. I could stay for 6 months and it wouldn’t matter to them.

    In short, it was the hospital, not the insurer, that was seeking to pocket as much of that lump sum as possible for *profit* for themselves.



  • stewartm commented on the blog post Approval of Obamacare Hits a New Low

    2014-11-17 16:03:32View | Delete

    At this point we open with VA for All (government operated health system like TR had in mind) and compromise on single-payer. Because, any universal system will also roll in the VA system either as operators or as providers.

    I think a VA-for-all to couple with a Medicare-for-all (for private providers) is the way to go. The utility of it is that the non-profit VA would then set the reimbursement rates for all procedures (i.e., no “negotiating” with private providers over reimbursements).


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Democrat’s Demographic Fatalism Facing Critiques

    2014-11-17 15:44:19View | Delete

    FDR ended welfare in America by forcing the able bodied to work instead of getting payments for doing nothing.

    As I told, FDR *created* welfare, he didn’t end it. From wikipedia:

    AFDC (originally called Aid to Dependent Children) was created during the Great Depression to alleviate the burden of poverty for families with children and allow widowed mothers to maintain their households. The New Deal employment program such as the Works Progress Administration primarily served men. Prior to the New Deal, anti-poverty programs were primarily operated by private charities or state or local governments; however, these programs were overwhelmed by the depth of need during the Depression.[23] The United States has no national program of cash assistance for non-disabled poor individuals who are not raising children.

    Progressives never embrace the actual principles of FDR, but just want other people’s money spread around, but never being required to pay for using the assets created by labor.

    Um, the only people consistently calling on higher taxation have been those very “progressives” you castigate.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post Health Care Reform Was Not About the Economy for Voters

    2014-11-13 11:24:45View | Delete

    People were drowning and needed a life preserver. Democrats’ plan to help was planting a tree so that in a few years they could cut it down and carve a canoe for themselves.

    That’s what struck me at the time. A more proper response would have been to declare an economic emergency to:

    a) Allow all who wanted to to sign up on Medicare (and that could have also provided immediate relief to the auto industry, by eliminating their burden for providing that insurance);

    b) Institute an immediate jobs program, as in “show up at your local XXX office and we’ll put you to work, immediately; and if you have a skill, we’ll pay extra for that too”.

    c) Take up over the troubled mortgages or mortgages for those who can’t pay, pay the banks the current worth of the home, and work out a payment plan for homeowners to keep them in their homes.

    If Obama and the Dims had done that, we’d be talking about a generation of Democratic dominance.

    And insofar as “bipartisanhip” is concerned–what gets me is hearing how the Republicans are essentially going to hasten people’s deaths by denying them access to health care, to jobs, and to homes, but that we should “engage in constructive talks for bipartisan ‘solutions’ with our esteemed friends across the aisle”. I mean, if you you knew someone who was using their power to cause people to die for personal gain, would they be your “friend”? And would you want to “seek ‘solutions’ with them”?


  • stewartm commented on the diary post The 2014 Midterms: Economic Class Issues Trumped Identity Politics by Ohio Barbarian.

    2014-11-10 09:10:24View | Delete

    First, our electoral system is simply too easy to rig. Gerrymandering makes it exceedingly difficult for a geographical House seat to change hands between even two parties, much less multiple parties. The only way to change that to enable true representative democracy is to rewrite the Constitution itself to allow multiple parties to have representation at [...]

  • stewartm commented on the diary post Fall of the Berlin Wall Twenty-Five Years Later by Deena Stryker.

    2014-11-08 16:56:26View | Delete

    Saw Gorby going out of the Wall St. firm I worked for & into a limo. Doubt he was an idealistSaw Gorby going out of the Wall St. firm I worked for & into a limo. Doubt he was an idealist

    Then I’m not the only one wrong, so is Namoi Klein ( Shock Doctrine ) that has [...]

  • stewartm commented on the diary post Fall of the Berlin Wall Twenty-Five Years Later by Deena Stryker.

    2014-11-08 16:49:05View | Delete

    I’m not implying that the German Chancellor has a crush on Putin, but rather that they share a common commitment to peace and solidarity, the foundational principles that set Communism apart from ‘The West.’

    When I was young, I played military simulation games. One of the more gifted game designers was Jack Radey, a military historian, [...]

  • stewartm commented on the diary post Fall of the Berlin Wall Twenty-Five Years Later by Deena Stryker.

    2014-11-08 16:27:45View | Delete

    Gorbychev & Yeltsin were both idiots.

    Gorbachev was an idealist, someone who wanted to remake the Soviet Union and Soviet communism and make it work, to make Soviet Russia into something akin to the Scandinavian democracies. I can’t fault him for that, and if it hadn’t been for Western intransigence he might have pulled it off. [...]

  • stewartm commented on the diary post Reflections on Halloween by Ohio Barbarian.

    2014-10-31 06:07:58View | Delete

    Halloween is a hugely more commercialized than I was a kid; it’s approaching Christmas. But sad to say, where I live, the tradtional Halloween is dying. Lots of people take their kids to Halloween parties, even parties sponsored by churches (in stark contrast to the rants of some faiths about the holiday; but maybe it’s [...]

  • stewartm commented on the blog post IRS Seizing Funds Without Even Bringing Charges

    2014-10-28 11:42:12View | Delete

    According to The New York Times, the IRS has been seizing funds from small businesses and individuals without even presenting a criminal complaint using a draconian law passed to prevent drug money laundering.

    And how such a law ever passed any constitutional muster is beyond fathoming.


  • Such a viewpoint also distorts and narrows what is civil disobedience in a manner that serves the powerful. The government would have had no problem with Snowden turning himself in to face a trial where he could defend his actions as documents were disclosed and published. However, the trial would have become the story instead of the disclosures. The government would have been able to silence him and prevent him from doing the numerous interviews he has done. And it would have been much easier for the government to stymie the shift in consciousness that has been taking place.

    Don’t you mean that…

    The government would have had A problem with Snowden turning himself in to face a trial where he could defend his actions as documents were disclosed and published.

    Because the trial would have been about the leaks, and the content of the leaks? What the government wanted to do was to throw Snowden into a cage, like Chelsea Manning, and gag what his lawyers could say to the press. One of those newly-constitutional “secret trials”.

    They did not want a Daniel Ellsberg-type trial, where he was released on bond, gave speeches about his case, have his lawyers make statements to the press, etc. etc. etc.

    Additionally, there are establishment liberals like Sean Wilentz, who have sought to engage in a kind of McCarthyist investigation where they seek to expose Snowden as a “paranoid libertarian,” who should not be celebrated by people on the left because he seeks to “wound the liberal state.”

    Yo, Wilentz!! The “liberal state” which progressives have historically fought for is all about providing them with things like jobs, access to health care, education, and legal counsel. It’s also about protecting their right to vote, to engage in private sexual behaviors, to read and view what they want, to worship as they choose, to marry whom they want, and more.


    Hope that makes everything clear.


  • stewartm commented on the blog post A Year in Grading Obamacare on a Curve

    2014-10-28 06:16:48View | Delete

    But how does attacking Democrats who were blocked by Republicans and Bluedogs

    Let’s go over the details shall we?

    We were told we couldn’t have a public option because of mean nasty Joe Liebermann and Ben Nelson and that “we need 60 votes”. Then Scott Walker takes over Ted Kennedy’s seats, and suddenly the 60-vote threshold is no more because Obamacare could be passed via reconciliation. Now all you need is a simple Senate majority.

    Whip counters such as Chris Bowers counted 52 Senators on-record for a public option. So since Pelosi and the House had passed its own bill with a public option, and now since we don’t need 60 Senators anymore because we’re using reconciliation, why can’t we stick it back in? We have the votes, right?

    But there was no sticking it back in. There was no sticking it back in because the White House had bargained it away back in July 2009 in talks between Rahm and Big Medicine and then the White House did everything in its power to twist arms to keep it out. Pelosi deserves condemnation too, as well as Senate Dems, because she could and should have stuck it back into the final bill and the 52 Senators who promised us that they’d vote for it would have passed it. While a robust public option isn’t as good as Medicare-for-all (or my pet plan, VA-for-all + Medicare-for-all, a combination of the NIH and the Canadian system) it would do a helluva a lot to correct a lot of the evils in the current system.

    We don’t have a public option squarely because the White House bargained it away, and Pelosi and the rest of our “bold progressive” Dems were too much the “good soldiers” and didn’t pass it anyway and dare Obama to veto the very plan he had campaigned on implementing just to please Rahm’s Medical-Industrial Complex buddies.


  • American healthcare is good.

    But way overpriced.

    The problem with for-profit health care is that:

    a) you try mightily to avoid treating the uninsured, or those insured who cannot pay, or at least skimp on their treatments you do give;

    b) for those that *can* pay or who have good insurance that will pay, you then have every incentive to order all the tests and do all the procedures you can think of in order to run up the bill. (Which maximizes profit,you know).

    So the incentives built-in a for-profit health care system inexorably leads to the very system we have: a system that doesn’t cover everyone, undertreats the majority, and then over-treats the few who can pay. All at prohibitive expense.


  • What these articles really point out is that for-profit capitalist medicine and for-profit capitalist health insurance produce all the wrong incentives. But that simple truth cannot be spoken here.


  • stewartm commented on the diary post Setting Up The Students by anotherquestion.

    2014-10-25 06:16:32View | Delete

    There is really not a STEM gap. I see this in my current tech job. Perhaps it is true that foreign students are on-average more capable than American. That may be true just because the US students making the best grades don’t seek STEM careers. They seek careers on Wall Street and in medicine because [...]

  • stewartm commented on the blog post Dear New Yorkers, Did a Doctor Recently Vomit on You?

    2014-10-25 05:26:27View | Delete

    The amount of concern and attention relative to actual risk is out of control.

    Wrong, Jon.

    1) Ebola is a virus, and like all viruses can mutate. Although in it’s current form it’s hard-to-transmit, there is no guarantee a form might come up that’s easier.

    2) Ebola lays bare the existential threat that poverty, crappy work environments, and lack of access to health care poses to our civilization. Ian Welsh said it best:

    Poor people with inadequate health care, nutrition and sanitation are resevoirs for disease to develop. They always have been. Attempts to explain this to the rich, both the global rich, and the American rich, have been in vain for the past half century or so. What happens in Africa, or India, can come back and kill you, just like what happens in the Middle East (half a million dead kids, and so on) can turn out to be very bad for Manhattan.

    Mind you, this isn’t just a Third World thing either:

    Austerity, cheapness and incompetence kills. America has about 40 million uninsured. The initial symptoms of Ebola look a lot like the flu. Think about what most uninsured are going to do if they get a bad flu? Best case is a trip to the clinic to get some antibiotics. The same is true of many insured. Going to the hospital for a bad case of the flu is overkill, and hospital stays are expensive. Bankruptingly so.

    All it takes is a bit of knowledge about ethnography is know that diseases, combined with ecosystem degradation and resource depletion, are the killers of civilizations. (For an example on our continent, the demise of the Mississippian Native American cultures due to resource depletion and exposure to European diseases, the latter which might have wiped out 80 % of Native American groups, even before they set eyes upon a European).

    Thus progressives should not be pooh-poohing Ebola’s danger, we should be discussing it. We should be discussing how Obamacare’s “skin-in-the-game”‘s out-of-pocket costs discourage people from seeking health care immediately instead of putting it off due to cost. We should be using it to argue for more paid leave, including mandatory sick pay and leave, in order to allow contagious people to stay at home and recover rather than pass what they have on to others because they can’t afford to miss work. We should be screaming how agribusiness wastes our precious antibiotics to make livestock fatter for short-term profits, and stop it. All that and much more.


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