Friday, November 30, 2012

Typical Two-Faced Political Bullshit: Fiscal Cliff (The Rich Man's Crisis)

$400 Billion in Cuts over the next decade, to be taken from the rest of the pie (mostly Medicare)
President Obama has proposed a $3.8 trillion 2013 budget.  He is currently negotiating with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to make needed cuts in the budget.  First on the chopping block is Medicare and other entitlement programs at a minimum of $400 billion to be cut.

Typical two-faced political bullshit
He has offered this as a bone to conservatives who will have to also deal with increased taxes, which serves as a bone to liberals who now have to deal with deep cuts into Medicare.  

Yet no effective Congressional authority will ever venture to even suggest cutting our health care overhead with a single payer system, a system that works to keep health care costs under control in every other industrialized country.  Medicare, without the corporate insurance industry overhead, would cost the government just 4% as opposed to the current 13% to 20% of health care costs, when the insurance industry takes its cut. Instead of having to pay exorbitant health insurance premiums, people would pay a 4% income tax to cover 100% all their health care needs, medical, dental, vision, and medications.  When they are out of work, they would still be covered.

All employer health care costs are eliminated by a single payer system.  Gone.  

Privatized corporate insurance has an overall 30% overhead for administrative costs (claims denials, advertising, and Wall Street profits).

A single payer system would be a major stimulus for the economy with $2.6 million in new jobs, $317 billion in business revenue, and $100 billion in wages (Single-Payer/Medicare for All. An Economic Stimulus Plan for the Nation; Robert Fountain, IHSP, NNOC/CNA).

Neither does anyone in Congress venture to ever discuss the $600 to $900 billion of future veterans' health care costs.  Over 50% of returning troops are eligible for disability.  600,000 have been treated since 9/11 so far (The True Cost of 9/11; Joseph Stiglitz).  Is this part of the entitlement programs to be cut? 

Doctor's, nurses, and other activists, have been calling for a single payer system for years (got healthcare?; documentary film).  Yet Congressional committees refuse to consider this option or send it to the budget office for fiscal comparison studies.  Nearly 60% of doctors and over half the public are for a single payer system (PNHP).

The aversion to single payer is the dreaded S word: socialism.  But there are many democratic countries that have single payer systems.  A government health care insurance program would cover all people for all medical expenses just like police, fire, highways, libraries, schools and many other government services that serve to guarantee a minimum standard of life.

A recent 2012 Harvard study found that 48,000 Americans die annually for lack of health care, and nearly 50 million Americans have no health insurance. The ACA (Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare) is suppose to give health care insurance to an additional 30 million. But some of this will be offset with these budget cuts, plus the unregulated health insurance industry gouging us with exorbitant premiums, deductibles, and denials.

The privatized corporate health care insurance industry is more accurately an American sick care profit center.  The sick care pharmaceutical, health insurance, medical device, and cancer industries serve their investors well by keeping people sick, on medications, chronically ill, and in need of expensive treatments.

People in America, unlike any other country, are forced into medical debt to stay alive.  Many have to sign over their houses.  Medical debt is responsible for over half, and up to 88% of bankruptcies and foreclosures (PNHP on medical debt).

So now Obama proposes to cut Medicare.  How many more will have to die for lack of health care?  What will the impact of Medicare cuts be on health care in America?  Why do we not cut deeply into war, which has cost us trillions and will cost hundreds of billions more in veterans' care?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Experiencing small towns: Deindustrialization, Militarization and Privatization

By guest writer, Maureen Cruise, RN

Know Justice: Know Peace

The destruction of Hostess Brands by corporate pirate "raid, strip & run"  strategy is just another resounding iceberg crash in the tragic meltdown of the glacial US economy.  Nationally the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes, 570 bakery outlet stores and the loss of 18,500 jobs will occur mostly in small economically fragile towns across the country.  Such closures plunge many small communities into depression era conditions while the rising tide of unemployed people struggle to stay in their homes and feed their families. Labor negotiations for livable wages, job security, pensions and health care are failing to trump corporate profiteering.

For some big picture reality:  19 Facts About The De-industrialization Of America That Will Make You Weep To this information should be added the 2008 Harvard Business School study that 42% of US jobs are vulnerable to being sent overseas.  The new generation of outsourcing not only "brawn but brains" is white collar professional jobs such as engineering, radiology, law, finance, IT management, research & development, clinical trials, book editing, even travel vacation/surgery.  "The Globalization of White Collar Work:  Facts and Fallout of Next generation Outsourcing." 2006.    

For a smaller picture, first hand recent observation of the deadly effects of corporate profit driven closures, merging with increased outsourcing of government agencies to corporate entities and in combination with the tax flow to the rise of a heavily policed and militarized state, read on.

I have just returned from Columbus GA, a small financially fragile city with an enormous military base where our tax dollars train foreign military and police forces in repressive and violent techniques including torture, kidnapping, mass evacuations of villages and assassination.  This base, Fort Benning, also features a new DRONE  research, testing and launch center.  In addition, we visited the largest Corrections Corporations of America for profit immigrant prison...Stewart Federal Detention center in near by Lumpkin, economically depressed community.

The intersection of three elements in this economically compromised area of Georgia provide a stark view of our rapidly deteriorating country. Depressed economies (business closures, job losses, social service strain) with increased tax dollar expenditures for enhanced local police departments, militarized response to community security, undercover operations and surveillance of ordinary law abiding citizens coupled with the most egregious federal tax dollar expenditures for wildly profitable private prisons.

Columbus GA:  400 workers just lost their jobs at Dolly Madison/Hostess bakery.
And Columbus recently increased it's police force by 100 officers "housed in a newly constructed 125,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility.  The Columbus Police Department is not only among the largest departments in Georgia, supporting 488 sworn officers and 98 civilian employees, but it is also one of the most modern in the region, fully capable of responding to bomb and terrorist threats. We are renowned across the nation for being progressive in our thinking and creative with our tactics, and our officers endeavor to uphold the highest level of professional and ethical law enforcement." Police dept. website.

In the 20010 census the per capita income for the city was $22,514. About 12.8% of families and 15.7% of the population were below the poverty line. Columbus has a total population of 189,885, 72,124 households, and 47,686 families residing in the city.  The largest employer is Fort Benning Military Base with 41,000 employees followed by the school district 6,000 and then financial, insurance and healthcare services representing about 20,000 jobs combined.

In Columbus, we few thousand people at the SOAW fully permitted, legal, constitutionally protected conference, rally and vigil were met with hundreds of state and local police, dozens of motor vehicles, roaming dog teams, helicopters, military police, surveillance stations and undercover agents, and most likely homeland security infiltrators. (Several of the infiltrating agents were identified at the conference and rally but the agency remains in question..some of the same agents greeted us across state lines in Alabama at a picket line for Farm Worker Justice. This leads me to assume they are probably feds of some sort.)

All this wasted tax money for heavy handed, armed policing and surveillance  of a fully permitted conference, rally & vigil of peace groups with a 23 year peaceful history in Columbus!!  While the numbers of unemployed rise.

In Lumpkin, GA ( Stewart County):  Visitors arrive to see a family member held at the Stewart Detention Center… (Don Bartletti/Los Angeles…)

Stewart Detention Center outside Lumpkin is the largest immigrant detention facility in the U.S. holding 1,752 inmates...many held without due process or convictions.   "Because they're paid per detainee, per day by whichever government entity they've contracted with, CCA and other private prison firms need a steady stream of inmates in order to remain profitable. They rely on lawmakers to ensure that demand for their product — prison bed space — remains high. A growing segment of the population believes illegal immigrants are to blame for much of what ails the state, from low employment to high crime." Correction Corporations of America uses some of their profits (tax payer money) to lobby legislators across the country to sponsor anti immigrant and harsh sentencing laws in order to keep their prison census at capacity.  Money is also spent producing the anti immigrant propaganda that softens the electorate to supporting that legislation (In California Governor Brown vetoed the 2012 Bill which would have ended "Secure Communities"  funneling of law abiding undocumented immigrants into the for profit prison system.   Also "Private Prison Finds Gold in California")

Who is paying for this? Taxpayers, of course, with detention budgets for ICE at $1.77 Billion last fiscal year, to detain approximately 33,442 people in jails nationwide. Many of whom are held for very minor immigration and traffic charges.  Corrections Corp. of America is a $1.6 billion and their business is booming. Federal taxpayers pay Stewart County $60.50 per inmate held at that jail per day through an agreement with ICE. That works out to $97,647 per day, based on the last fiscal year's average daily inmate count. Lumpkin county, however, keeps only 85 cents per inmate per day for its administrative costs and pays CCA the rest, or $59.65 per inmate per day. Since 2007, the county has collected about $1.7 million through this arrangement, county officials said. That represents more than half of the county's $3 million annual operating budget.

  • Detainees have died at Stewart Detention Center (SDC)
  • Families are still denied contact visits at SDC.
  • On multiple occasions water service has been interrupted at SDC.
  • Inmates have been denied meals.
  • At least one American has been detained at and deported from SDC.
  • Immigrants are still held in solitary confinement at SDC. Often guards make those determinations.
  • Inmates who assist other inmates with language translation are labeled "gang leaders" and moved.
  • Medical care is inadequate, Inmates are denied and delayed treatment. No MD on premises.
  • Inmates perform many of the jobs at the facility, cooking cleaning, laundry for a few dollars a day.
  • Corrections Corporation of America makes millions in profit at SDC.
Stewart County remains Georgia’s poorest county.  The per capita income for the city was $16,146. About 24.2% of families and 26.7% of the population were below the poverty line . The median income for a household in the city was $22,315, and the median income for a family was $27,321.  As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 1,369 people, 552 households, and 367 families residing in the city.

Legislators guarantee that federal tax dollars disappear into corporate coffers while tax subsidized corporations buy and crash domestic industries and outsource professional jobs.  The banks and credit entities write laws and lobby congress to ensure mounting debt for education, cheat people out of their homes, bankrupt the sick, disabled, poor and vulnerable.  These institutions cross our borders, they steal our jobs, they break the laws.....And the government response is to use our tax dollars for policing, private prisons, armaments and surveillance of "we the people".

Be well!
Maureen Cruise

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

As Featured in All Lights Film Magazine

Doctors Carol Paris and Margaret Flowers arrested
The Got Healthcare? film got press on the online front page of an international film magazine.

Check this out...PNHP Docs on the front page.  Visit the site and comment. Kindly find the news of Got Healthcare in All Lights Film Magazine portal.

Filmmaker Jon Raymond and I spent the past three days at the American Film Market where we introduced Got Healthcare? to several dozen companies for both international and domestic distribution.  This film features many activists from PNHP, Healthcare for All, Single Payer Now, CNA/NNU and others.   The topic was well times with enthusiasm...and we hope the film will be as well.

It is our goal that Got Healthcare?  find distribution and further the advancement of Single Payer Universal  Healthcare in the US.  Maintenance of the European model of non profit/national universal healthcare  is becoming an issue with the first ever Goldman Sachs managed "for profit"hospital in Britain's National Health Service.  A recent UK & World News article describes the millions in debt  incurred by this misadventure in the first six months of operation and the plummeting level of satisfaction among the British utilizing this hospital.

In addition, United Health expansion in Brazil is reported in the WSJ October 8, 2012:
Maureen Cruise RN
United Health Group Inc.'s $4.3  billion deal to take over Brazil's Amil Participates SA represents a major bet on the international future of the health-care business, part of a broader effort by American insurers and hospital operators to seek growth overseas. The United Health deal is just the latest sign of "the globalization of the U.S. health-care sector," he said. "It's a demand for U.S. expertise on both the health-care provider and the health-plan side."

Please share the Got Healthcare? website with your email lists.
Maureen Cruise
Producer Got Healthcare?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hollywood would Never ever give this Information a Forum

Got Healthcare? (the question of the century) is a 90 minute documentary film. This stream of conversation documentary is a passionate energetic discussion on the various issues that continue to surround health care reform in America and the world. Doctors, nurses, and activists (both pro and con on reform) seemingly converse in a give and take of ideas compared and contrasted through editing. It was shot beginning in 2009 during the height of street protests, as formation of the current U.S. law was debated. The film contains updated reactions to the new law from as late as 2012. The film focuses on the issue of a single payer (Medicare for all) system, unlike any other health care related films that are currently prominent.

Out in the Street Films is happy to have Maureen Cruise, RN, join their team as an executive producer for distribution. Maureen was one of the main activists interviewed in the film, and upon seeing the final cut became enthused about having the film widely seen. She has a wealth of experience in politics and as a retired public health care nurse in Los Angeles County. She is a walking encyclopedia on all issues concerning healthcare reform. The stream of conversation film style uses interviewees to tell the story and explain concepts instead of the more traditional high profile "name" actor with cute graphics. The film was shot on a very low original production budget of about $3,000 and without a production crew by producer-director-photographer, Jon Raymond. Jon also edited the film. The final effect is an unpolished gritty street reality look, as much out of necessity as by choice.

Current global corporate pressures threaten to to water down or remove social and economic benefits in numerous Euro nations, including healthcare. A recent United Kingdom news article titled, Fury as first privately run NHS hospital racks up £4.1m loss (Oct 28 2012 by Nick Dorman, The People) indicates that the NHS (Britain's National Health Service) failed at an attempt to privatize health care with patient satisfaction down from 1st to 14th place. As you may know, Europeans are very aware of what happens in the US, often incredulous even, and rightly so. Understanding our very sick system, might prepare worldwide audiences for any such moves on the part of their increasingly right-of-center veering administrations. A clear unapologetic view of the US for-profit system and it's criminality (45,000 Americans die annually for lack of healthcare according to a Harvard study) should scare the pants off anybody who understands and enjoys healthcare as a human right. It is a shocking situation, and non Americans will be astounded by the facts in this film. Maureen, a long time street activist and independent film lover applauds Got Healthcare? as follows:
My office file is full of amazing indie films made by one or few persons with no budget, yet who provide very interesting, well researched and sensational knowledge that I appreciate having. I see these films at forums and issues conventions. Hollywood would never ever give this information a forum. Their focus is entertainment not information. And it is star driven. My celebrities are the people in the street. HOORAY! So I am thrilled that many people are making documentary films and disseminating what corporate media has not only ignored but also drowned out with glossy schlock. The questions for me are: Does this interest people? Does it reveal information? Does it strengthen our human bond? Do people like it? - Maureen Cruise

Maureen is also a member of PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program) and CNA (California Nurse Association). PNHP, CNA and member doctors and nurses are prominent throughout the film, among the 65 street activists interviewed. Maureen has promoted the film at various activist events where it has been screened and well received as the following typical testimony indicates:
I watched the movie and it's excellent! Especially liked the way you traced the trajectory of Obama's downfall from single-payer preference to the mess that is PPACA. The woman who defined Socialism as a shortage of toilet paper is, alas, a classic. I've met many like her. The American public has so much to learn..... We're grateful for your efforts, and hope to spread the word far and wide. - Carol Tvaroh

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