This video from the USA says about itself:
Democrats Screw Bernie Sanders Again
12 jan. 2017
The Democrats had a chance to vote for an amendment, proposed by Bernie Sanders, that would help Americans be able to afford medicines they need. They didn’t. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, tell you why thirteen Democrats voted against the amendment.
“On Wednesday night, amid Senate votes for a bill that brought us one step closer to repealing the Affordable Care Act, a bipartisan group voted against an amendment to that bill proposed by Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar that could have paved the way for cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada. While a surprising number of Republicans (12) voted for the amendment, 13 Democrats voted against it. The amendment was rejected by a 46-52 vote.
Sanders supporters, among others, are very upset with the Democrats who did not vote Sanders’ way — especially Cory Booker, who some hoped will be their future president. In subreddits devoted to Sanders and progressive causes, there are multiple threads castigating the Democrats who voted against the amendment, especially as, with the number of Republicans who voted for it, they believe it would have passed. (This is not true; amendments to bills need 60 votes. Even with all Democrats voting for it, it still would only have received 59 unless Dianne Feinstein dragged herself out of post-pacemaker-surgery bed rest to vote for it.)
A popular thread on the Political Revolution subreddit is calling for the 13 Democrats to be primaried … This message was also posted on the Sanders for President subreddit. Both subreddits include several other threads about the vote, framing it as Democrats bowing to pressure from pharmaceutical companies who want to continue a monopoly on that allows them to charge Americans much more for the same drug tha[n] other countries, including Canada, do. With competition from Canada, American companies would be forced to lower their prices to compete.”
Read more here.
US Congress moves to repeal Obamacare in order to impose even deeper health cuts: here.
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Saturday, 14 January 2017
‘Don’t dismantle US healthcare system’ – warns Sanders
‘IT didn’t take long. During the first week of 2017, the new Republican Congress has begun efforts to dismantle America’s health-care system,’ says Bernie Sanders.
He added: ‘Their long-standing goal, consistent with their right-wing ideology, is to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatise Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood.
‘At the same time, in the midst of grotesque and growing income and wealth inequality, they’re preparing to allow pharmaceutical companies to increase drug prices, and hand out obscene tax breaks for the top one-tenth of 1 per cent.
‘To be absolutely clear: The impact of repealing large pieces of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are planning to put on Donald Trump’s desk his first day in the White House, would be devastating.
‘If Republicans get their way, 30 million Americans, 82 per cent of whom are from working families, will lose their health insurance. With Medicare privatised, seniors will see their premiums increase by as much as 50 per cent while their benefits are cut and funding for nursing-home care dries up.
‘Underfunded hospitals around the country, particularly in rural areas, could be forced to close their doors, leaving millions of Americans with nowhere to turn for critical medical care.
‘Patient protections, like preventing insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions, removing the cap on maximum health-care benefits, allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26, and preventing discrimination by insurers would all be eliminated.
‘Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical industry’s greed will be rewarded as prescription drug costs for older Americans will likely rise by as much as 50 per cent, and the wealthiest 2 per cent can look forward to a $346 billion tax break.
‘Not only is the Republican plan immoral and bad economic and social policy, it violates numerous promises Donald Trump made to the American people during his campaign. Trump told senior citizens and the American working class, many of whom ended up voting for him, that he was a different kind of Republican, and that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
‘In a May 2015 tweet, Trump said: “I was the first & only GOP presidential candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid.” In September, he told “60 Minutes” that if he was elected president, his health-care plan would take care of “everybody”.
‘Trump now has a choice: He can tell the American people that these campaign promises were lies and that he never intended to keep them. Or – and I hope this is the case – he can instruct his Republican colleagues to end their efforts to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and inform them that he will veto any bills cutting those vital programmes.
‘Those are Trump’s options. As we enter the new year, our message to Republicans is simple and straightforward: We will not allow you to punish the elderly, disabled veterans, children, the sick and the poor while you reward your billionaire friends. Instead, we will fight back. We will rally millions of Americans to make it clear to Republican leadership that we will not accept this vicious attack against senior citizens and working families.
‘We will demonstrate in their communities, jam up their phone lines and throw them out at the ballot box if they go forward with their plans. That is why on January 15, I and Democratic members of Congress, trade unions, senior citizen groups, healthcare activists and all those who believe in economic and social justice are organising a day of action called Our First Stand: Save Health Care. Rallies will be held around the country, including one in Michigan that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and I will be attending along with Michigan’s US senators.
‘If Trump allows the Republican Party to go ahead with its plans, the GOP will dismantle the healthcare system and jeopardise the economic security of millions of Americans. Democrats in Congress will resist, but real change never starts from inside the Beltway.
‘It always comes when millions of Americans at the grassroots level stand up and fight for justice. We always win when we stand together. We lose when we are apathetic or allow demagogues to divide us.
‘That’s why it’s more important than ever to recommit to building a progressive movement that transforms the economic and political life of our country. Otherwise, we’ll be back where we were eight years ago, when millions of American families struggled to make a living without any way to pay for healthcare if family members got sick.
‘Elderly people, children and disabled veterans will be denied access to doctors and medication, and many will suffer or die prematurely. Fifteen years ago, Donald Trump said he was for universal health care. I hope he still is. The truth is, we shouldn’t be debating whether to take health care away from 30 million Americans.
‘We should be finding ways to join the rest of the industrialised world and guarantee health care to all people as a right. This is the conversation American policymakers need to be having right now. And we’re not going to let Trump or Congress forget it.’
I broke my leg a few months ago, playing basketball with my kids. (Note to self: stop lunging for every loose ball I see.) I actually sat cross-legged on the court for a few minutes, thinking that the pain would go away. It certainly did not.
My wife took me to the hospital, where X-rays showed that the part of the bone inside my hip looked like someone had hit it with a sledgehammer. My surgeon expressed extreme skepticism that he could put it back together again. He recommended a hip replacement, which puts a metal head and a plastic shell in place of the ball and socket inside your hip. I said fine.
Not being Henny Youngman, I refrained from asking him whether I would ever be able to play the piano again.
The surgery took place the morning after I was admitted to the hospital, and I was released two days after that. Less than 72 hours from in to out.
The hospital bill was $69,240.
That’s just the hospital bill. The surgeon, emergency room doctor and physical therapist all billed me separately.
Admittedly, this bill was on the high side. According to a report by the International Federation of Health Plans, the average hip replacement in the United States in 2015 cost $29,067. Only the most expensive five percent of hip replacements here cost $57,225 or more. Somehow, my hospital bill alone was more than that astronomical sum. But even $29,067 is a very pretty penny.
(Blue Cross, my insurance carrier, said no to the $69,240 hospital bill, and paid $32,395 instead – which is still a lot of money. I paid a $500 copayment, having already paid my deductible for the year.)
I worked for four years as an economist. Economists associate the price of things with their cost of production. (Specifically, their marginal cost of production, but for present purposes, that’s an unnecessary nuance.) In a free market, competition is supposed to drive prices down to the cost of production.
What did it cost the hospital to host me for those three days? It had to pay the nurses, but there certainly were fewer nurses than patients, so at most we’re talking about three days of nurses’ pay. It had to pay for the metal and plastic parts that the surgeon put inside me, and the surgical glue that was used to close me back up, which are mass-produced. (2.5 million Americans have replacement hips.) The hospital had to buy the medicine that it gave to me, which was modest, because I’m really not into opiates. It had to buy my gown, the kind that ties in the back. It had to feed me eight meals of hospital food. It had to pay for the electricity and water for my room (and the cable TV, which I did not use, but thanks anyway.)
The hospital had to pay for one hour’s worth of time in a surgical room, which I never got to see because I was under general anesthesia during that hour. (I hate the sight of blood, especially mine.) It had to pay for three days’ worth of time in the room where my hospital bed was located, one of 211 in that hospital. My hospital opened in 1993, so those costs have been amortized over 24 years already.
Let’s say that each bed cost $100,000 to build, 24 years ago. Amortize that over a quarter of a century, and it works out to $11 a day.
The hospital didn’t have to pay the doctors, because they billed me directly. It didn’t have to pay taxes, because it’s a non-profit.
Perhaps I’m simply obtuse, but I’m not seeing $69,240 in costs here.
The International Federation of Health Plans helpfully notes that the exact same surgery costs $16,225 in the UK, one of those “socialized medicine” countries that Fox News always warns about. That’s half as much as the cost here. In Spain, a hip replacements costs $6757, less than a quarter of the cost in the United States, and less than a tenth as much as my hospital bill.
Why would the same surgery cost $29,067 in the United States, $16,225 in the United Kingdom, and $6757 in Spain? Well, our hospitals don’t really compete against each other; in Orlando, two hospital chains own pretty much everything. Our insurance companies don’t really compete against each other; in Florida, Blue Cross alone has almost half of the market. (Across the state line, in Alabama, it’s 92%.) Both the hospitals and the insurance companies can charge almost whatever they want, provide as little as possible in return, and keep the difference.
My hip replacement surgery went very well. Two weeks later, I was walking without assistance. Two months later, I walked eight miles in one day at Petra, in Jordan. As to the quality of my care, I have no complaints. And I concede that my health is more important than the cost of care.
But $69,240 for one hour in surgery and three days in the hospital? Come on!
We spend more money on healthcare than any other country, our life expectancy is fiftieth in the world, and even now, one tenth of us have no health coverage. People wonder how we can spend so much, and enjoy so little in return.
As I see the GOP begin its ruthless gutting of Obamacare, I feel constrained to point out that regress is not progress.
Better health, less cost. What’s so complicated? And is that asking so much?
“These prices are insane!”
– “Crazy Eddie” pitchman Jerry Carroll
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I am pleased to announce the launch of a new progressive organization, The Sanders Institute, and respectfully request your participation.
During Bernie’s presidential campaign, I had the pleasure of traveling around this country – seeing its beauty and experiencing the passion and dedication of its people. I learned so much from meeting people who were involved in making their communities better and I came away with a determination to ensure those voices would be heard.
I wanted to start an organization that would bring people together to learn from each other and discuss how to make our country and our democracy better. I wanted to actively engage individuals like you, along with the media and other organizations, in learning about progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues. A true democracy requires an informed electorate and we have so much to learn from each other.
That’s what The Sanders Institute is all about – and we need your participation and support to make it a reality. Please visit our website, take a look, delve into the issues and ideas that interest you, and contribute to the conversation.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE
We have brought together some of the most prominent progressive thinkers from around the country: Bill McKibben, the Honorable Nina Turner, Ben Jealous, Dr. Cornel West, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Danny Glover, Dr. Stephanie Kelton, Harry Belafonte and Prof. Robert Reich. Our work draws from their ideas and writings, other progressive and educational sources, and people like you who are engaged and interested in progressive solutions in their communities.
We look forward to your participation.
Jane O’Meara Sanders
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