EJ's take on entertainment and travel plus a few pointers in a fairly smart-for-old-person way

Sunday, June 25

Wealth over health; 2 bills equal 2 fails

Like citizens from all other developed countries, US citizens need universal health care. Some would have people believe they have no right to health care. Some believe basic human rights should provide care for all people in a free society. Why is the wealthiest country the only developed country in the world where health care is not universal?  It's all about the dollar signs. 


Priority of wealth over health needs to change


  1. Health over wealth. That would require a new mentality in Congress. Instead of choosing wealth over health, they'd have to decide the value of dollars is not as great as the value of human life.
  2. Equality for all - even politicians. Then, everyone in Congress must have the same health insurance as the American public. No freebies. No perks. No coddling for a lifetime. When Congress tells Americans to tighten their belts and make sacrifices, the answer should be, "You first. Lead by example."
  3.  Stop the ads. Make laws limiting money spent on false advertising. Make laws banning publication of any ads containing lies, false statements, unrealistic promises, etc. Make laws with harsh penalties (not fines) for attempting to break these laws. The propaganda stops here.
  4. Stop the dirty money. Overturn Citizens United. Take away bribes given to Congressmen from lobbyists representing wealthy corporations. Make laws restricting lobbyists. Bar Congressmen from becoming lobbyists. Restrict the role of lobbyists, the number of lobbyists, and other criminal activity labeled as endorsements or campaign contributions. Restrict the amount of money candidates can receive. No more government based on the highest bidder. Remember Joni Ernst $ from Koch brothers? She followed the instructions of her buyers.
  5. Stop Corporate Welfare. It's almost unbelievable. Almost. Large companies often get by with paying no taxes. How about those benefiting from government subsidies. No, we're not talking about small companies struggling to survive. We're talking about some of the largest, wealthiest corporations. Marriott, Lockheed Martin, Walt Disney, Under Armour. And, we're talking about BIG BUCKS. Walt Disney's chunk is about $267 million. Under Armour CEO Kenneth Planks gift of $660 million dwarfs Disney's subsidies. 
  6. Make Congressmen represent constituents. Yes. When a politicians is elected to represent a certain group of people, many completely ignore their wishes. They vote by loyalty to their party, bribes from special interests, or simply playing power games with their peers. For example, The Pew Research Center recently posted results of a Pew Research 2017 health insurance poll showing 60% think government should insure health care coverage. That number is up from 51% from two years ago.
  7.  Enlighten the masses. Somehow citizens need to know enough to recognize the difference between fact and opinion. Many either can't or won't bother to look for the truth. Some parts of society seem almost like a cult obeying the cult leader. Special interest groups use fear mongering and other tactics to con members. Many proclaim to fight and die for a cause. Except the cause may not exist. Hmmm. Maybe tax refunds or some other perk could be tied to passing a quiz on distinguishing between fact and opinion. 

  •  Sarcastic? Yes.  True? Probably.




Selfish 

politicians 

protect 

their pockets



New health care bills unveiled by the House and the Senate head the opposite direction of the people's choice.  Both plans are similar with the Senate's version extending benefits for a longer time period. Instead of insuring more Americans as the President promised during his campaign, both plans cover fewer people. It looks like the neediest patients end up with the least coverage. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, Medicaid will take the biggest hit with immediate reductions in the budget followed by a per-patient limit paid to states starting in 2020. The matching payments will eventually be phased out.  A Medicaid cut of 
$880 billion is planned by 2026 by the House bill. Approximately 14 million Medicaid patients would be cut from the program. Enrollment would also be capped. 

The CBO estimates 52 million Americans will lose health insurance by 2026 with 21 million cut from insurance immediately after the bill is enacted. Other major changes aid insurance companies by allowing up to five times higher rates for older Americans beginning in 2018. The rates increase by age. By 2020 insurance companies offering plans to small groups will no longer be required to cover at least 60% of the cost of benefits. 






Although employers must still abide by rules to cover all employees, rates are not restricted. Companies will no longer be required to offer affordable rates. The House and the Senate bills send mixed messages concerning pre-existing conditions. Both state those conditions are covered but the fine print explains ways the state can wave off pre-existing conditions. Most likely mental health, drug rehabilitation and addiction services,  and women's health issues would be the first to go.                                                                                

Most likely, the House and Senate will go back and forth until they come up with a mutual plan. When that happens, Congress plans to put the new health care plan to a vote as soon as possible. Major changes could be made before each side agrees on the final plan. Considering either plan as written saves the upper tax bracket billions of dollars while premiums for those participating will initially pay higher premiums. 

New health care plans provide less and cut more people


The discussion about health care is getting to the point of ridiculous. I've heard naive explanations, excuses, and 'yes but'  and 'what if' and too many who’d rather be in denial than face reality.

Incredibly, many seem to think there are mysterious groups floating in like fairy Godmothers to hand out permission slips to see a doctor.  NOPE. Not true. Real people easily cured with health insurance die. By the 1000s. Results of a recent Harvard study showed 45,000 people have died due to no health insurance.

It is time for people to admit the US is consider a world leader with the some of the best medical equipment and best doctors in the world,  but we choose to prevent access to our own people. No insurance. No medical care. 

At the beginning of 2017 with results of the Affordable Care Act improving our score, the US  ranked15th in health care. Those with the power and money seem so value wealth over health.  People seem to be numbers and dollar signs. 
 
Yes, health care for all is expensive. So are loopholes allowing billionaires to pay no taxes.  So are subsidies we hand over to profitable companies like Walmart and oil companies. It is simply a matter of priority. 

Propaganda spread by biased TV 'news' show like Fox News brainwashed enough shallow thinkers into believing it can't be accomplished without the sky falling or they'll say the 'S' word (socialism). Then I guess we are socialists. We have all kinds of public programs funded by the govt. Schools, military, retirement, postal service, and many more.

US falls far behind other countries

Denmark's flag.
The Scandinavian countries always make the top ten happiest places to live.  They also have the best health care. While the US ranks 15th, Denmark is #1 in health care. The Danish people pay high taxes in exchange for quality public health care and other social benefits including free education (through university). In fact, according to the 2016 World Happiness Report, Denmark is the happiest country in the world. It is also #1 in health care followed by Sweden. 

While the majority of Americans want the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes Congress won't consider it because of their own selfish interests.  Look at Trump, for example.  He admitted to paying no taxes for the year his return was leaked. A billionaire. No taxes. Not right. There are so many loopholes to be closed and so many policies that need to be changed. But, none of it will happen with the greedy individuals we've elected. 


Denmark rated #1 for country with best health care.
It's sad to think the US values profit more than the health of all citizens. Unfortunately,  Greed seems to rule social services in the US. Besides health care, the US  offers less help to the poor. A notable difference between the US and other high-income nations is supporting children. While the other high-earning countries offer more benefits for children, the US does not.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) revealed the US has the highest child poverty rate of any industrialized nation. Think about that one. The American Medical Association's Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine agreed with those findings. 
"American children face the highest levels of poverty and social deprivation of any children growing up in Western developed nations, and they have the flimsiest social safety net to fall back on."


Mixed up priorities go beyond health care.  Health is related to other aspects of life including social life.  Kids in poor health suffer more from social deprivation. The US spends less than any OECD country on social programs for those in poverty. Compared to other developed countries, the US  poverty rate is the highest. The following list shows other statistics related to US priorities.




Did you know?

  • While the US has the highest number per capita of billionaires in the world, it's also the highest in child poverty. 
  • Societies concerned about equality tend to have better health and well-being.
  • Wide income gaps between rich and poor often lead to a lower quality of life often destroying the social fabric.
  • The 'trickle down' theory has done the opposite of its intention.
  • When minimum wage is compared in real terms, in 2016 minimum wage buying power was lower than it was in 1968.
  • The poverty rate increased twice the rate of the population growth.
  • The highest poverty rate in the country is the District of Columbia. 
  • Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota claims startling facts. The life expectancy is 50.  Teen suicide is more likely at 8 times the national average,  while infant mortality is 5 times the national average. Over 85% of the population lives in poverty. 
  • An minimum wage employee doesn't earn enough to pay the average cost of rent in any state.
  • With the exception of Mexico and the US, the government is the main source of health funding in OECD countries.  

Considering the low scores in so many crucial areas, it appears the US needs to unite to achieve important goals.  Universal health care is one of the most important. While other developed countries offer health insurance for everyone, health care for all in the US seems to be far away. Special interest groups, greedy politicians, high cost for less service, affordability, corruption are some factors holding back universal health care.

The men and women representing us in Congress are out of touch with the needs of their constituents.  If that doesn't change, I hope the population can unite enough to make elect politicians interested in doing their job. 

If you have the time to read the wanna-be health care plans, give them a look. The House plan is called The American Health care Act  and the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act.

PHOTO CREDIT: Pixabay, Flickr