Incentives matter: America's for-profit medical industry thrives on massive wastage, unnecessary procedures, overbilling and overtreating

The first time I interacted with the US medical system was when I was a student at Michigan State University with a comprehensive travel insurance package my bank sold me before I left Canada: the cafeteria food gave me my first case of acid reflux and after it had persisted for several days, I went to the walk-in clinic on campus. Read the rest

America's private health-care is rationed, but socialized medicine is luxury medicine

To hear America's fearmongering private health-care shills describe it, socialized medicine is a kind of Soviet death march, where rationed care and long waits are imposed on all and sundry; but if that state of affairs sounds familiar, it's because of how neatly it describes America's dysfunctional private care system, where you need to change doctors every time you change employers, where your care is denied and your prescriptions are deemed unnecessary by faceless insurance-company bureaucrats, and where three quarters of your family doctor's overheads are dedicated to filling in insurance forms in triplicate and chasing payment in a kind of LARP of Terry Gilliam's Brazil or a Stalinist hospital in deepest Siberia. Read the rest

Here are the three most common dishonest arguments used to derail universal healthcare proposals

The US is the only developed country in the world without universal healthcare. Americans pay more for their healthcare than anyone else, and get significantly worse outcomes than people in every other developed nation. The majority of Americans support universal healthcare. And yet, we are told that universal healthcare is impossible in America. Read the rest

The copay assumes the 99% treat healthcare like spiteful buffet gorgers

The basis for the health-insurance copay is that the 99% need to be disincentivized from "abusing" their health-care and going to the doctor for frivolous ailments (if this was really a thing, we'd have sliding-scale copays that charged rich people astounding sums to see the doctor, to ensure that everyone's incentives were properly aligned). Read the rest

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and 15+ key Democratic Senators back Medicare for All

It's "single payer" and not "universal health care" and there some potential structural pitfalls in this incarnation, but Sanders, Warren and the two dozen progressive and health activist groups who've backed this proposal are planting a flag and declaring that healthcare is not something that markets can provide -- it's the duty and right of civilized states to protect the health of the people who live in their borders. Read the rest

Chuck Jones directed this Oscar-winning government-funded cartoon promoting universal health care (1949)

"So Much for So Little" is a 1949 Warner Brothers cartoon promoting universal health care. It was funded by the federal government and directed by Chuck Jones, with music by Carl Stallings, and narrated by Frank Graham. It won the Academy Award in 1950 for Documentary Short Subject.

From Open Culture:

While our country looks like it might be coming apart at the seams, it’s good to revisit, every once in a while, moments when it did work. And that’s not so that we can feel nostalgic about a lost time, but so that we can remind ourselves how, given the right conditions, things could work well once again.

One example from history (and recently rediscovered by a number of blogs during the AHCA debacle in Congress) is this government propaganda film from 1949—the Harry S. Truman era—that promotes the idea of cradle-to-grave health care, and all for three cents a week. This money went to school nurses, nutritionists, family doctors, and neighborhood health departments.

....

Three cents per American per week wouldn’t cut it now in terms of universal health coverage. But according to [John] Maher, quoting a 2009 Kingsepp study on the original Affordable Care Act, taxpayers would have to pay $3.61 a week.

Read the rest

Senate rejects GOP effort to repeal Obamacare without a replacement

The U.S. Senate has voted to reject a proposal to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, aka Obamacare) without providing a replacement. Read the rest

VP Pence breaks tie, Senate votes to begin debating GOP bill to kill Obamacare in win for Trump

The U.S. Senate, aided by Trump's second in command, has voted to begin debate on the GOP's plan to destroy Obamacare. Read the rest

Under Trumpcare, surviving a gunshot wounds gives you a "pre-existing condition"

More than 1 million people have been non-fatally shot in the USA since 2000: all of them would have uninsurable pre-existing conditions in the eyes of insurers if Trumpcare passes. Read the rest

GOP abandons vote on health care repeal after CBO predicts 22 million would lose insurance

The Trump administration is failing to pull off its latest efforts to 'repeal and replace Obamacare' with a draconian plan that would leave 22 million or more without health coverage.

After a growing number of Republican senators voiced opposition to the GOP plan, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) today said he'd delay the vote on legislation until after lawmakers return from the July 4th recess.

“We will not be on the bill this week, but we will still be working to get at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” McConnell today said.

It's a big setback for Trump. It's fantastic news for every American who may need health care now, or in the future, or may have a child or parent who does. The fight isn't over, but these monsters aren't winning just yet. Read the rest

Draft of Senate GOP health-care bill is out. Subsidies linked to income, Medicaid cut dramatically.

The Washington Post was first to get a draft copy of the 'secret' GOP health care bill.

The 'discussion draft' is making the rounds among GOP Senators' aides and lobbyists. It would repeal Obamacare taxes, reduce Medicaid coverage, give states greater ability to opt out of Affordable Care Act regulations, and kill federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The GOP House bill linked insurance subsidies to your age, and the Senate's version links them to income, as ACA/Obamacare did. Read the rest

Republicans are trying to pass Trumpcare in secret, here are simple resources to fight that

Senate Republicans are currently working in secret on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and overhaul the American health care system. The process is so secretive, in fact, that even Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price hasn’t seen what’s in it yet. But we do know that Senate Republicans are working from the bill passed by the House of Representatives, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found would leave 23 million fewer Americans insured by 2026. And the 13 GOP Senators crafting the bill (who all happen to be men) are doing so without any public hearings or open drafting sessions.

And it’s happening quickly. Republicans are reportedly hoping to vote on the bill by June 30 so that it can be finalized before the July 4 holiday recess. Given that the bill will affect 1/6 of the American economy not to mention millions of lives, it’s more important than ever to speak out. Here are some resources for doing so:

The most effective way to make your voice heard is to call your representatives and share your story and thoughts about the bill. You can find the name and contact information for each GOP senator’s dedicated health staffer at Is TrumpCare Still Dead?

If you aren't represented by a GOP senator, you can also use the same database to call the offices of the 13 GOP Senators working on the bill: Mitch McConnell (KY), Orrin Hatch (UT), Lamar Alexander (TN), Mike Enzi (WY), John Thune (SD), Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Lee (UT), Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO), John Barrasso (WY), John Cornyn (TX), Rob Portman (OH), and Pat Toomey (PA). Read the rest

Trumpcare would leave 23 million fewer insured by 2026, CBO forecast of GOP health bill shows

The plan Donald Trump and the GOP released to dismantle "Obamacare," the Affordable Care Act, will increase the projected number of people without health insurance by 14 million next year and by 23 million in 2026, the Congressional Budget Office reported Wednesday. The long-awaited "CBO report" you've been hearing about in the news was finally released today, weeks after The American Health Care Act, or "Trumpcare," narrowly passed the House. The 10-year figure of 23 million people losing their insurance coverage is slightly less than originally estimated, but still completely insane. Read the rest

How to: avenge yourself on the Republicans who voted to nuke your healthcare

24+ of the Republican lawmakers who voted yesterday to take away healthcare from tens of millions of Americans, including survivors of rape and domestic abuse are in vulnerable districts, having won their seats with less than 50% of the vote. Read the rest

This 70-year-old cartoon made a hell of an argument for single-payer healthcare

Eric writes, "This is an analysis on the Chuck Jones short 'So Much for So Little' -- a documentary cartoon produced and paid for by the American government in 1949 that makes a stark case for public healthcare that everyone chips in a little for, in the interest of the greater good. This topic's always relevant, but with the recent monologue from Jimmy Kimmel, I think it's even more so this week." Read the rest

Watch Jimmy Kimmel's moving monologue about his infant son's heart surgery, and why we must save ACA

“My wife and I welcome a new baby and it is quite a story,” late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel says. Watch him deliver a heartbreaking story about his infant child undergoing open heart surgery, and why we must protect 'Obamacare,' the Affordable Care Act. Read the rest

The current state of American healthcare

(Image: ccPixs.com)

I’m not a medical expert. My science career ended in Mr. Maciel’s high school biology class. I remember the basics, we’re all made of cells and whales eat krill, but world governments aren’t calling me to consult when the next outbreak of Ebola occurs. I don’t purport to know what I’m talking about, but I did just watch a Grey’s Anatomy marathon, so I feel confident I can handle a discussion on the complexities of our healthcare system.

Matthew B.J. Delaney's Black Rain is available from Amazon.

Here’s my medical prediction: whatever you may be sick from, human beings will figure out a cure. Of course you might be dead by the time we do, but we’ll figure out something. We’re good at that. And by ‘we’ I mean people much smarter than I am who actually went to school for science and stuff. For thousands of years humans have been figuring things out. Fire. Space travel. Tinder. And our figuring has been increasing exponentially. We’ve got more human brains on the job now than ever before thinking about things from toilet bowl night lights to artificial synapses. So whatever you’re sick from, we’ll get you that cure. I just hope you have the money to pay for it.

I may not know fancy doctoring, but twelve years as a police officer in New York City has taught me about human nature. And humans are motivated by incentives. The incentive to avoid death and suffering is called fear. Read the rest

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