Monday, March 22, 2010

Physicians for a National Health Program: `Health Care Reform Bill Hype Is False'

The Big Media has been promoting the health care reform bill that was passed recently by the Democratic Congress as some kind of solution to the health care system crisis that still exists in the United States. Yet as the leaders of the Physicians for a National Health Program indicated in a March 22, 2010 statement, the Democratic Obama Administration's health care reform bill apparently only provides "a false promise of reform." Following is the text of their statement:

"As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House's passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.

"Instead of eliminating the root of the problem - the profit-driven, private health insurance industry - this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers' defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.

"The hype surrounding the new health bill is belied by the facts:

"About 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out. That figure translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering.

"Millions of middle-income people will be pressured to buy commercial health insurance policies costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering an average of only 70 percent of their medical expenses, potentially leaving them vulnerable to financial ruin if they become seriously ill. Many will find such policies too expensive to afford or, if they do buy them, too expensive to use because of the high co-pays and deductibles.

"Insurance firms will be handed at least $447 billion in taxpayer money to subsidize the purchase of their shoddy products. This money will enhance their financial and political power, and with it their ability to block future reform.

"The bill will drain about $40 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the tens of millions who will remain uninsured.

"People with employer-based coverage will be locked into their plan's limited network of providers, face ever-rising costs and erosion of their health benefits. Many, even most, will eventually face steep taxes on their benefits as the cost of insurance grows.

"Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, as the experience with the Massachusetts plan (after which this bill is patterned) amply demonstrates.

"The much-vaunted insurance regulations - e.g. ending denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions - are riddled with loopholes, thanks to the central role that insurers played in crafting the legislation. Older people can be charged up to three times more than their younger counterparts, and large companies with a predominantly female workforce can be charged higher gender-based rates at least until 2017.

"Women's reproductive rights will be further eroded, thanks to the burdensome segregation of insurance funds for abortion and for all other medical services.

"It didn't have to be like this. Whatever salutary measures are contained in this bill, e.g. additional funding for community health centers, could have been enacted on a stand-alone basis.

"Similarly, the expansion of Medicaid - a woefully underfunded program that provides substandard care for the poor - could have been done separately, along with an increase in federal appropriations to upgrade its quality.

"But instead the Congress and the Obama administration have saddled Americans with an expensive package of onerous individual mandates, new taxes on workers' health plans, countless sweetheart deals with the insurers and Big Pharma, and a perpetuation of the fragmented, dysfunctional, and unsustainable system that is taking such a heavy toll on our health and economy today.

"This bill's passage reflects political considerations, not sound health policy. As physicians, we cannot accept this inversion of priorities. We seek evidence-based remedies that will truly help our patients, not placebos.

"A genuine remedy is in plain sight. Sooner rather than later, our nation will have to adopt a single-payer national health insurance program, an improved Medicare for all. Only a single-payer plan can assure truly universal, comprehensive and affordable care to all.

"By replacing the private insurers with a streamlined system of public financing, our nation could save $400 billion annually in unnecessary, wasteful administrative costs. That's enough to cover all the uninsured and to upgrade everyone else's coverage without having to increase overall U.S. health spending by one penny.

"Moreover, only a single-payer system offers effective tools for cost control like bulk purchasing, negotiated fees, global hospital budgeting and capital planning.

"Polls show nearly two-thirds of the public supports such an approach, and a recent survey shows 59 percent of U.S. physicians support government action to establish national health insurance. All that is required to achieve it is the political will.

"The major provisions of the present bill do not go into effect until 2014. Although we will be counseled to "wait and see" how this reform plays out, we cannot wait, nor can our patients. The stakes are too high.

"We pledge to continue our work for the only equitable, financially responsible and humane remedy for our health care mess: single-payer national health insurance, an expanded and improved Medicare for All."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Black Male Worker "Seasonally Adjusted" Jobless Rate Increases To 17.8 Percent

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for African-American male workers over 20-years-of-age in the United States under the Democratic Obama Administration increased from 17.6 to 17.8 percent between January and February 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all U.S. male workers over 20-years-of-age remained at 10 percent, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for white female workers over 20- years-of-age also increased from 6.8 to 7.3 percent between January and February 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for African-American female workers over 20-years-of-age was still 12.1 percent in February 2010.

The number of unemployed African-American male workers over 20-years-of-age increased from 1,405,000 to 1,424,000 workers between January and February 2010, according to the “seasonally adjusted” figures; while the number of unemployed white workers increased from 10,782,000 to 10,982,000, according to the “seasonally adjusted” figures. Between January and February 2010, the total number of unemployed workers in the United States also increased from 14,837,000 to 14,871,000 workers, according to the “seasonally adjusted” data.

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for all Hispanic or Latino workers was still 12.4 percent in February 2010; while the official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Asian-American workers in February 2010 remained at 8.4 percent.

The “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for African-American youths between 16 and 19- years-of-age was still 42 percent in February 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for white youths between 16 and 19-years-of-age remained at 23.5 percent in February 2010. The “not seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Hispanic or Latino youth between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 31.6 percent in February 2010.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ March 5, 2010 press release:

“…Employment fell in construction and information…

“The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was 6.1 million in February…About 4 in 10 unemployed persons have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more…

“The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million in February…These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job…

“About 2.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in February…These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey…

“Among the marginally attached, there were 1.2 million discouraged workers in February…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…

“Construction employment fell by 64,000 in February…Job losses were concentrated in nonresidential building (-10,000) and among nonresidential specialty trade contractors (-35,000)…

“Employment in the information industry dropped by 18,000 in February…

“The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for…January was revised from -20,000 to -26,000…”