Friday, October 16, 2009
The Senate Finance committee bill does not cut costs since the insurance companies are still raking it off the top and still in the business of denying care. Just as Congress cannot now control the bonuses given to AIG and bank executives, it cannot control the obscene profits, along with compensation, realized by the insurance companies. How much more suffering and expenditure is it going to take to realize that insurance companies are heartless, soulless, amoral entities, run by the same ilk of executives, who only mission is the extreme maximalization of their bottom line.
The only way to provide universal coverage and cut costs is to eliminate the low hanging fruit of the insurance companies. One third of the healthcare dollar is eaten up by administrative costs. The overhead of Medicare is only 3.5%. We can no longer afford the overhead costs of private insurance companies.
So why doesn’t the congress get it when 70% of the American people do. For the very reason that Senator Baucus and his “bluedog” colleagues are bought and paid for by the insurance industry. Their staffs are part of the revolving door of K street insurance lobbyists. Even in our own congressional district, we are served up candidates who don’t have the spine to face down big money. Not one of them will support the public option, much less taking the insurance companies out of the mix.
The latest last minute objection of the insurance industry to the Finance committee’s bill is a smoke screen to provide cover for its members. The insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank with the Bluedogs singing “signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.”
Saturday, October 03, 2009
The facts are clear. The healthcare industry represents one sixth of our economy. That is what 15% of the GDP means. It is bigger any other economic sector. The problem is that it is not an engine, but a brake upon the economy. Its size alone makes it imperative that we address it in an effective manner.
One third of the healthcare dollar is spent on administrative costs. These are costs that do not contribute to the delivery of healthcare. These costs are not to healthcare providers that actually deliver care, but rather to ancillary persons and institutions that do not provide one jot of healthcare. Administrative costs and those that benefit from them can only be seen as parasitic to healthcare delivery and to the economy.
Insurance companies retain up to a quarter of the healthcare premium. That is the overhead we pay for a system that we no longer have the luxury to afford. Compare that with Medicare’s overhead of four percent.
Pharmaceutical companies charge Americans twice as much as they do the rest of the world under he guise to fund research and development (R&D) of new drugs. Yet the facts show their profit margins are twice the outlay for R&D.
A tort liability system out of control has created a culture of fear in the medical community that drives 8% of the healthcare dollar into defensive medicine. Unscrupulous expert witnesses who sell their opinions to the highest bidder are used by unscrupulous trial lawyers to spin the roulette wheel of malpractice liability. While few actually hit the jackpot, the fear engendered by this dishonest behavior costs us, according to the DHHS in 2002, up to $120 billion per year.
The same hysteria that we see surrounding the healthcare debate today is merely a reenactment of 1964 when Medicare was passed. It is now one of the most popular programs sponsored by the government and is the ultimate “public option”.
The answer is clear. Insurance companies, the middlemen who, instead of providing care, are in the business of denying care need to be removed from the picture. Drug companies need to be treated in the same fashion as is done by the VA. Ask any veteran about their drug costs and you’ll be shocked by how inexpensive drugs are when bought through the VA. Real tort reform needs to be enacted by redefining malpractice as gross negligence.
By spreading the risk for healthcare over the entire population and every economic sector, we can cover everyone and reduce costs without sacrificing quality. There is such low hanging fruit to pick, we can save nearly a third of the healthcare dollar without sacrificing quality and access.
Those that oppose a rational solution are doing it out of political expediency. South Carolina’s Senator Jim DeMint’s contention that healthcare will be the President’s Waterloo and will “break him” is emblematic of the political opportunism rampant in so many of our leaders. Instead of courageously leading the way, many of our political leaders, including every candidate chosen for us in the 23rd district, pander to the lowest common denominator of fear. Not one will support a public program much less doing away with insurance companies. It is so much easier to engender fear than to lead with logic and fact. All that is needed are a few anecdotes of worse case scenarios. These are not leaders looking for a solution, but rather raw political opportunity and providing a spectacle of political bloodshed for the entertainment of an otherwise, albeit for good reason, cynical electorate.
In 1964, Medicare was roundly condemned as “socialized medicine” and within months of its passage became the most popular public program with both patients and providers. It’s time to expand it to include everyone.
True good to be true. By creating an efficient national health insurance system, negotiating with drug companies and reforming our liability laws we save a third of the healthcare dollar, nearly five hundred billion dollars a year. five trillion over ten years. If you’re flushing billions – no, trillions – down the toilet: stop flushing.
Bob Johnson, MD
Sunday, September 06, 2009
New York Democrats in Action
Getting New York Its Share
September 2, 2009 announced the award of $153.6 million in Restore NY funds to communities across the State as part of the third round of the grant program. The funds will be distributed to 79 projects through the Restore NY Communities Initiative, which is administered by Empire State Development to revitalize urban areas, stabilize neighborhoods and invite renewed investment. The Governor made the announcement in Syracuse , which will receive $6.3 million for a project to link Syracuse University with cultural institutions and Downtown Syracuse. on
September 1, 2009 signed Executive Order No. 27, authorizing the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation (NYCOTB) to file a petition for reorganization under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code. The Governor issued the order after it was determined that NYCOTB requires major restructuring to regain solvency. Governor Paterson has directed the NYCOTB Board of Directors, led by Chairman Meyer “Sandy” Frucher, to provide the Governor’s Office with a restructuring plan within two months, which likely will include a Chapter 9 filing for NYCOTB.. on
Watching Tax Payer Dollars
Governor David A. Paterson on September 1, 2009 launched a new website from his recently-created Office of Taxpayer Accountability. The website "Taxpayer.ny.gov " provides information on the State’s efforts to cut spending, improve the efficiency of State agencies, save taxpayer dollars and provide property tax relief. The site also allows the public to provide ideas on government spending and operations directly to the Office of Taxpayer Accountability.
Creating Jobs and Protecting the Protecting Environment
Governor David A. Paterson on August 31, 2009 announced the award of two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants totaling more than $28 million for alternative fuel projects. The funds, available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will assist school districts, local governments, public universities, and private businesses in purchasing clean fuel and alternative fuel vehicles and associated infrastructure.
From the Attorney General
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo on September 2, 2009 announced that New York, six other states and the federal government have negotiated the largest health care fraud settlement in history concerning allegations that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc. provided kickbacks and engaged in off-labeling marketing campaigns to illegally promote its drugs. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world, illegally engaged in a pattern of marketing activities to promote multiple drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pfizer also paid kickbacks to health care professionals in the forms of entertainment, cash, travel and meals to induce them to promote and prescribe various drugs, including: Bextra, Geodon, Lyrica, Zyvox, Aricept, Celebrex, Lipitor, Norvasc, Relpax, Viagra, Zithromax, Zoloft and Zyrtec.
An Update from Comptroller DiNapoli
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on September 1, 2009 released an independent report that determined the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) investments approved by the Comptroller between February 2007 and February 2009 satisfied internal investment policies and procedures, with a minor deviation noted in one of the 112 transactions approved over that two-year period..
NYDEMS State Committee Meeting
Announcing the NYS Democratic Committee's Fall Business Meeting
Hyatt Regency Buffalo & Buffalo Convention Center
Tuesday, September 29 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Festivities will begin on Tuesday evening with a Welcome Reception hosted by Buffalo Mayor, Byron W. Brown, Followed by A Taste of Buffalo Reception & Dessert hosted by the Erie Country Democratic Committee.
Completed forms should be faxed back to Marie Parker:
(Phone) , (Fax)
Have a wonderful weekend!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture. Read the release >>
A 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
After reading these memos please comment and/or vote in the poll on Jefferson Democrat.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
"Each individual's journey through life is unique. Some will make this journey alone, others in loving relationships - maybe in marriage or other forms of commitment. We need to ponder our own choices and try to understand the choices of others. Love has many shapes and colors and is not finite. It can not be measured or defined in terms of sexual orientation." From the Statement of Affirmation and Reconciliation by the Quaker meeting in Aotearoa.
"Hey if you don't believe in gay marriage then don't marry a gay person!" Whoopi Goldberg, on the TV program The View.
A quotation from a conservative Christian.
"This is to let you know that SSM is an abomination in the sight of God and his word says that to agree with sinful evil people is being a partaker of other men's sins therefore the same punishment will be applied. The nation or people that commit abominations will be sent a curse that consists of God sending your enemies upon you and they will kill your sons and daughters, your enemies will eat up all your profits and get rich because of your sinfulness, God will send hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, Fire, Famine, and disease. If this will not turn your heart he will then sent a curse seven times worse until you are utterly destroyed. This is to let you know because many are being destroyed even now this curse has been in effect for a while and God wants sinners to to know why these things are coming upon them. He wants to give all men the opportunity to repent and be saved. These things will increase on the nations and people that war with him and they will know the wrath of the Lamb, for he will break them to pieces like a piece of pottery cast upon a rock, his fire will purge and clean every evil from the face of the earth and many shall flee to caves and hide from his presence crying out for the rocks to fall on them."
"Because marriage is a basic human right and an individual personal choice, RESOLVED, the State should not interfere with same-gender couples who choose to marry and share fully an equally in the rights, responsibilities, and commitment of civil marriage." The Marriage Resolution, by the Marriage Project of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
"If marriage means everything, it means absolutely nothing. It will mean nothing to same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. The current decline of the institution of marriage will be accelerated. Increasing numbers of couples will elect to simply 'live together'." Dr. James C. Dobson, of Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian group.
"Then hugs. And kisses. Love was being expressed. Love that finally had found a tiny crack from which to shine." Rev. Ed Evans is the pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Vancouver, WA, commenting on same-sex marriage ceremonies he was performing in Multnomah County, OR.
"This sort of marriage is not in the best interest of children." "God has a plan for marriage and this isn't it." "Allowing this kind of marriage will pave the way for all sorts of moral depravity." Comments from the 1960s on the interracial marriage of one man and one woman -- Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving.
"Promoting hatred and bigotry in the name of God is what destroys society, not the marriage of two loving people of the same gender." Raymond Miller.
"Gay people deserve the same right to marry that everybody else does. And God cares about our relationships the same way God cares about heterosexual relationships. We're making the same commitments to each other. We have the same responsibilities to each other, and we deserve the same rights and responsibilities under the law that everyone else has." Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign.
"I believe that others have the right to live as they choose, free from discrimination. But I don't believe that this acceptance, that this tolerance should lead to a radical redefinition of marriage." Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), Senate majority leader.
Seen on the Pardon My Planet comic strip for 2007-APR-24: A media person is interviewing a political candidate. The latter says: "I've got no problem with gay marriage --even though I don't understand why a gay man and a lesbian would wanna tie the knot in the first place."
"[Their relationship] is essentially different from that of man and wife joined in lawful wedlock."
A North Carolina judge, 1858, referred to a marriage between two African American slaves, and declared that marriage as unrecognized by the state because of their race.
Ok! They commented. Now you can.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday evening Governor David Paterson sat with Brian Taffe of Capital 1 to talk about the NYS Budget. (We saw it on News10Now.) Check it out. Frankly the Governor is as right as rain.
The 132 billion dollar NY budget that was reviewed and revised by the legislature held the line on state spending while preventing drastic cuts and protecting those most vulnerable during this economic hardship.
It closed a projected 17 and a half billion shortfall by plugging in 5.1 billion in spending cuts, raised 5.2 billion in new revenue, utilized 1.1 billion in non-recurring revenues (one-shots) and maximized 6.2 billion in one time federal stimulus money.
What did it do:
It prevented the deepest dramatic cuts that were looming over our kids' schools.
It reversed some damaging, possibly crippling, draconian cuts in healthcare.
It began permanent spending reforms in healthcare that will lead to 1.6 billion in
saving this year and billions more in future years.
To be more specific, this budget could have been an education disaster in our communities. Instead, layoffs were largely averted and services weren't cut drastically. This budget also restored 30 million in funding to non-public schools. And it restored 10.6 million in library funding. The budget also saved the local taxpayers from getting hit with
big costs for preschool special education and pre-kindergarten. It provided for Teacher Centers and restored the Adult Literacy Education program.
Recognizing the economic impotantance of SUNY the leg invested 2.5 billion there. That is nearly 118 million more than last year.
The budget restored the TAP program.
It also restored 3.6 million for CSTEP.
The final budget restored 333 millions of dollars to New York's hospitals.
The seniors EPIC phamaceuticals program wasn't disenfranchised.
Rural affordable housing ventures were largely restored. And 25 million was added for foreclosure-prevention services to assist those victimized by deceptive lending practices.
The final budget made sure that the vital work of the NY Farm Viability Institute was continued. With milk sales accounting for more than half of the total agricultural receipts dairy is New York's leading agricultural product.
Almost a million was added for the Wine and Grape Foundation.
23 million was added for farmland protection.
I could go on and on. To all of you budget naysayers its your turn. Go ahead and comment away on which of these programs you would shut off. Which of the vulnerable would you exploit and be excessively pleased you did?
And, by the way, I'm betting that all those 8,700 state layoffs won't happen either when push comes to shove.