VOTE YOUR NEO-LIBERAL OUT OF OFFICE AND RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE!!!
ALL MARYLAND DEMOCRATS ARE NEO-LIBERALS
Regarding Health Care Reform:
The Baltimore Board of Estimates is always a shining beacon to fraud and corruption and as I described last blog....it was the Firefighters taking the blow of lost health care coverage costs hidden under the faux mantra of COMPROMISE. You know.....where Obama goes so far right with his proposals....right of the republicans just so compromise leaves us still right of center.....that kind of compromise.
THAT'S NEO-LIBERALS FOR YOU....THEY ARE REPUBLICANS WHO SIMPLY PRETEND TO SUPPORT A FEW SOCIAL ISSUES! WEALTH AND PROFIT THEY SAY!
I wanted to stay on health care one more day to highlight the civic debate that never happened....THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED! I'm sitting waiting for the board meeting to start and there are a few Firefighter union reps there to say it was a WIN-WIN as the mayor calls it.....only they don't say anything...they just appear as told. In walks the NAACP representative who yells at the Firefighters for getting such a high rate of increase on salaries. I point out that the wage increase will not even cover the costs of health care that was thrown onto Firefighters last year......they will lose income while working longer hours; not a win-win after all. I make the Firefighter uneasy by telling him to shout out that the problem with health care costs is massive health fraud and profiteering....not employees having health plans and give him the information for the United Workers/National Physicians Health Care for All movement that all unions should be joining as these pols will continue to limit access to health care for public employees.
I shouted all this so the media could hear
at Mayor Rawlings-Blake who used her bully pulpit to make it sound as if this deal was a compromise and win-win specifically and walked up to the media....all the Baltimore news agencies....and said 'THE STORY HERE IS THAT A PUBLIC SECTOR UNION WAS MADE TO GIVE UP THEIR HEALTH CARE PACKAGES WITH GREAT ADDED COST AND ADD MORE HOURS IN ORDER TO EARN LESS'. They are doing it as are over 70% of Americans because massive health fraud and profiteering has emptied government coffers and made health prices market-based and tied to profit. Maryland loses billions of dollars each year to health fraud and they are forcing the public into refugee-style clinic care to maximize profits. The reporter tells me these plans are going to be thrown into the private health systems anyway. I tell the media that is the story today....great loses in health coverage and wages to protect massive losses from health fraud and profiteering. The reporters' eyes became huge and they ran away with me shouting 'WE NEVER HEAR THAT IN THE MEDIA'. THE BALTIMORE BOARD OF ESTIMATES MEETINGS ARE ALWAYS A CIRCUS. One can imagine Afghanistan's parliament working the same way as they mirror themselves after US private contractors.
KEEP IN MIND THAT IN BALTIMORE AND MARYLAND...JOHNS HOPKINS DRIVES THIS POLICY! THEY ARE NOW A GLOBAL HEALTH CORPORATION BUILD ON THE BACKS OF TAXPAYERS COURTESY OF MARYLAND'S LONG-TERM NEO-LIBERAL INCUMBENTS.
Yes, the plan is to throw all public sector health plans and Medicare and Medicaid into these health systems effectively ending public health programs......the opposite of Universal Care/Health Care for All. The tiered system of health plans assures that most people will not access the level of health we have always had and most developed countries have now. It will have people unable to handle co-pays and deductibles and the monthly premiums and IT IS ABSOLUTELY CRIMINAL! THESE PEOPLE PUSHING THIS ARE ANIMALS!
Meanwhile we hear from Hoplins' Maryland Health Care for All.....the organization Hopkins formed in order to capture the issue of Universal Care and make it all about the market-based global corporation-building Affordable Care Act. Remember.....those of us in academia who study these issues all knew this was the goal as did all these players in the process.....no one is shocked or policy hasn't been hijacked. Maryland Health Care for All is shouting against a group that has young people fighting the mandated buying of health care.
UNIVERSAL CARE HAS NOBODY PAYING ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE TAXES WE ALREADY PAY AS INCOME AND PAYROLL TAXES AND EVERYONE GETS THE SAME LEVEL OF CARE......ergo.....health care for all.
So arguing that young people need to pay for insurance even as most people are losing access to insurance in tiered systems is bizarre! IT IS BIZARRE PEOPLE! Neo-liberals have the very people who should be fighting for Universal Care fighting for policy that will kill access to care. That is how perverse the political system has become now that the democratic party is captured by corporate neo-liberals creating groups like Maryland Health Care for All and NAACP shouting against public sector employees making a middle-class living. All this while the reporters are telling me they know the goals are to throw all these health plans into the tiered system but no public discussion is happening.
WHERE IS THE PUBLIC DISCUSSION? COLLEGE CAMPUSES AND PUBLIC MEDIA ALL FOSTER THIS PUBLIC, DEMOCRATIC DEBATE.....ONLY NOT IN MARYLAND.
The Affordable Care Act is funding the expansion of community health centers to increase access to primary care, but this approach will not ensure effective access to subspecialty services.
As everyone knows Primary Care doctors only direct you to specialist who administer all care above the office checkup. The poor have had the ability to use clinics for this level care so why are billions of dollars being thrown at primary care? BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE NOW INSURED WITH PLANS ALLOWING ACCESS TO SPECIALTY CARE WILL NO LONGER HAVE THAT.....INCLUDING MEDICAID AND MEDICARE.
Below you see what will happen as a hospital becomes the insurer and is driven by the costs of hospital stays. They pretend keeping people out of hospitals is good but we are already seeing patients denied access to hospitals and those in hospitals being treated in ways that look at the profit margin and not the patient well-being. WE KNOW THAT IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN AS PEOPLE ARE PUSHED OUT OF HOSPITAL AND TREATMENT ACCESS.
As you see MedStar and Maryland is leading in this consolidation. I was told just days ago.....'my doctor will not even talk to me outside of the office visit and I can't get hospital access when I need it'. That was with University of Maryland Medical System.
Hospitals Look To Become Insurers, As Well As Providers Of Care
By Roni Caryn Rabin Kaiser Health News
Aug 26, 2012
This story was produced in collaboration with
Michael Dowling, a burly Ireland native running one of New York’s largest hospital networks, is preparing to turn his business model on its head: He wants to keep his hospital beds empty, rather than full.
That’s because the North Shore-LIJ Health System, with 16 hospitals and more than 300 outpatient centers in Long Island and New York City, is laying the groundwork to be an insurer, as well as a provider of health care.
Like other hospital chains across the country, it’s under intense pressure from public and private insurers, as well as employers, to accept flat-rate payments for care, rather than reimbursements for every service. And that puts pressure on hospitals not just to manage costs, but to keep people well – in short, to act more like insurers.
“This is a huge, dramatic cultural shift,” said Dowling, president and CEO of North Shore-LIJ, who expects it will take several years to market coverage to the general public.
Once the system becomes an insurer, picking up the tab for a hospitalization rather than generating revenue from it, more resources will be devoted to preventive care, Dowling said.
“The last place I’ll want you to be is in the hospital,” he said. “I’ll be doing everything to get you to take care of yourself.”
Hospitals from Colorado to Virginia are exploring similar strategies spurred by rising costs and incentives in the health law. An estimated 20 percent of networks market an insurance product, including MedStar Health, serving the Washington-Baltimore region with Georgetown University Hospital and eight other facilities.
Another 20 percent are exploring doing so, according to a survey last year of 100 hospital leaders by The Advisory Board Company, a research firm.
“This trend is definitely picking up steam across the country,” said Chas Roades, the firm’s chief research officer.
Impact on consumers
Proponents say consumers would benefit from streamlined care and possible lower costs, but some also worry they could find themselves with fewer choices and limited access to outside experts and cutting-edge treatments.
“The idea of managing care for patients in a holistic fashion sounds great,” said Carmen Balber, who directs the Washington office of Consumer Watchdog. “The question is how it plays out. Are doctors given the freedom to make recommendations outside of cost calculations?”
Driving the change is the transition from fee-for-service payment schemes – which pay for each doctor’s visit, appendectomy or CT scan separately – to one that pays providers a global, or lump sum per-person-per -year. This will shift more of the financial risk of medical care from insurers to providers.
Once hospital systems are paid this way, “they’re sort of halfway toward being an insurance company,” Roades said. “The more hospitals take on risk and manage the care, the more they look like insurance companies. And ultimately you have to ask: Why do we even need an insurance company sitting between a health system and an employer?”
Of course, Americans rebelled against an earlier iteration of this model, known as managed care, when insurers ran the show.
“The big wild card is: how will patients view it?” he said. “Is it just going to be viewed as managed care 2.0 and engender the same kind of backlash, or will people engage with it because it can help them live healthier lives?
“I don’t think it’s a slam dunk one way or another.”
Managed care redux?
One change, experts say, is technology. Electronic medical records and a wealth of health databases that did not exist during the first wave of managed care can now guide appropriate medical treatment.
In the ’90s, “we were flying blind,” said Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. “Now we’ve got a whole wave of clinical algorithms to know what’s an appropriate referral.”
Several large hospital networks -- like The Ford Health System in Detroit and UPMC in Pittsburgh -- have entities that sell insurance policies. But that can complicate relations with insurance companies, and health systems like North Shore-LIJ, which depend heavily on contracts with commercial plans, would not want to jeopardize those relationships. Dowling said he might partner with an insurer to market a North Shore-LIJ insurance product; he envisions a hybrid system that would continue to contract with numerous plans in the future.
It can get tricky, though. UPMC, for instance, has been embroiled in a nasty legal dispute with Highmark, a large insurer, over its acquisition of a rival hospital network in Pittsburgh, though the parties reached an agreement in May. Texas Health, which experimented with health plans in the 1990s, found the business a distraction from their primary mission and have sold them off.
“Hospitals think this is a way to cut out the middle person, tailor care more closely and save a lot of extra money, but there’s a history to this and it generally doesn’t work,” said Howard Berliner, a visiting professor of health policy at NYU. “It sounds easy, but it winds up being incredibly complicated.”
Several DC-area health systems already market plans or self-insure their employees. Besides MedStar, Sentara Health Care, a Norfolk, Va.-based health system that owns Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, Va., markets Optima Health, a health plan with 433,000 members. And Inova Health System, a hospital network based in Falls Church, Va., recently announced it would partner with Aetna to establish a jointly-owned health plan that will start selling insurance products in northern Virginia next January.
The transition is complex and fraught with risk for hospitals, experts say. Insurance is a different business from health care, and requires a different mind-set and skills; Hospitals will have to change the way they are run and radically alter the way they take care of patients, possibly taking on powerful interests – like doctors.
To become licensed as an insurer, a health system also needs to have millions of dollars in capital reserves, and must run a regulatory gauntlet to prove it has an adequate provider network and can deliver required benefits. And a hospital system cannot dip into the health plan’s reserves to fund new services.
“Many hospitals sold their insurance plans even though they were profitable because the hospital had better use for the money – the money sitting in insurance reserves could be better devoted to building the tower,” said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change.
We finally had American Public Media Marketplace admit that Smart meters is all about rationed energy access. Now that national energy corporations have monopolies they will now raise prices to what the market will bear and public subsidies for low-income will end....so, people will only get the electricity or gas for which they can pay. If you can only pay for 3 hours....that is all you get courtesy these Smart Meters. Maryland was handed to Exelon by Gov O'Malley and we are now threatened with big penalties if we do not have the Smart Meters installed. O'Malley placed an Energy executive on our Maryland Public Service Commission....he says 'to help families'. SEE WHY HE IS TAPPED TO RUN AS A NEO-LIBERAL PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
I would suggest that a tax just as described below is on its way to Maryland. We are already taxed for the building of wind farms and subsidize those costs. We are taxes and doubled rates to pay for Exelon's cost of business and now Smart Meters will decide how much energy we can receive.
Below you see this information in a news journal back in 2011
The Oakland Press
Letter To The Editor: Smart meters will lead to energy rationing, government control Published: Monday, November 28, 2011
DTE Energy has advised its customers that they will soon be installing so-called smart meters in a program they call SmartCurrents. What we have here is the first step in government controlled distribution of energy.
These meters will be controlled remotely, and information can be accessed on the Internet. If your home is too warm in the winter, your power will be reduced until your temperature is where they want it. Ditto in the summer for your cooling. Remember the promise of the President to have a “SmartGrid”?
Are we looking at a scenario that if your area has voted against the party in power, that area will experience either rolling blackouts, or will a reduction in the power supply to meters in that area sufficiently penalize the residents and businesses in the out-of-favor area?
We were told this was coming. The announced purpose was of destroying the coal industry, that supplies 60 percent of electric power (“new coal fired plants will be bankrupted”), and the refusal to issue permits for drilling either for oil or natural gas completes the plan. Rationing of power — as with the delivery of medical services — is our future.
"An important element of a smart grid is a ‘smart meter’ which will allow display of energy usage data in real time and remote or automated control of energy usage by suppliers and consumers [our emphasis].
"Meters will allow supply to be controlled remotely," the report stresses, as if we missed the point.
The march of the electricity smart meter
August 1st, 2013
Author: Jeff Taylor The Economic Voice
It is inevitable. The way things are going we will all have smart meters fitted to our homes in an attempt to regulate our energy usage.
We see this agenda being given another nudge in the UK with British Gas looking to offer ‘free electricity’ to consumers on a Saturday. Of course the only way you could benefit from this is if you have a smart meter fitted.
The argument being made is that we need to ‘smooth’ demand across the week. This is because unlike gas, which can be stored ready for use, there is no method of storing AC electricity that is readily available. The national grid has therefore got to have enough power generation capacity to meet peak demand plus a bit. This means that the number of electricity power generating units have to exist in order to satisfy a demand that may be only there for a few hours a week. And conversely there will be many hours in the week when the capacity to generate is many times more than the demand. If these peaks and troughs could be smoothed out by shifting demand about then there would be less need for power stations so reducing emissions as well as the infrastructure needed to support them. Smart meters would automatically pass meter readings to the power companies in real time as well as being quick to spot outages.
But as stopsmartmeters.org points out, there are many unanswered questions with regard to the physical and health risks associated with smart meters (see video below).
There is also the privacy issue in that smart meters gather a lot of data about your energy usage; when you are in or out, when you watch the TV etc. Especially as white goods would need to wirelessly communicate with the meters.
Power Lines by Benkid77 via Wikimedia Commons
Smart meters also have the capability of rationing electricity to your home should the need arise. Such as shutting off power to your freezer for a while if the local hospital has more of a need for it. Or maybe they just think you are using too much.
This system would also give the power providers the ability to produce energy tariffs that change on an hour by hour or even minute by minute basis. It was oft touted that there was an energy spike just as the adverts started during Coronation Street when everyone put the kettle on for a cuppa. I don’t know how true that is, but can you imagine a system that upped the cost of your cup of tea for a few minutes as you took a break from watching your favourite soap? Made even worse if it was also affecting your health and melting against your wall.
Sacramento Democrats Help Crony Capitalists Utility Companies by Adding $10 per Month to Bill if Customer Uses Solar Energy
by Stephen Frank on 08/11/2013 Steve Franks California
Imagine if the buggy whip industry could have added $10 per month to the cost of a car? And the money go to them.
That is what PG&E and its representatives in the Legislature are trying to do. If Assembly Democrat Perea has his way, you buy solar panels for your home or business and the State will force you to pay your utility $10a month for the “privilege”. Democrats are not about saving the Earth, they are about taxes and protecting their donors. PG&E, along with SoCal Edison have given millions over the years to the Democrat Party and Democrat candidates (in 2012 PG&E gave Perea $3900—Edison gave him $3500)
Why should a utility company have government forced ratepayers to pay a fee for buying another service? Maybe they should promote their own version of solar and charge for that. This is a way to use government to harm their competitors—commonly called crony capitalism.
“The state Legislature is maneuvering to add fixed costs to electric bills, watering down the incentive for homeowners to go (small) solar. A bill by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, would add $10 per month in fixed charges, costing customers of investor-owned utilities $120 a month extra. Standing to benefit would be Pacific Gas & Electric and Rosemead-based Southern California Edison.
The Sierra Club is fighting the bill, saying it will discourage as many as 40 percent of new customers to go solar if their electric bills are higher no matter how much energy they use.”
Steve Scauzillo: Assembly bill threatens to fry solar movement A proposed flat charge could take away homeowner incentives to go green
Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 8/11/13
What do Linda Hecht of Redlands, Laureen Pittman of Riverside and Joy Brown Meredith of Palm Springs have in common?
Nothing, really. Except that they are the first three people to invest in PBS food show host Cliff Young’s latest project, a solar-powered ice cream truck called SoCal Scoops.
Launched on the crowd funding website RocketHub.com, SoCal Scoops is looking for $17,500 to kick start this green venture. While it may be only 1 percent funded, the idea is representative of the growing trend of small solar projects sweeping across the Sun Belt.
Some call it green going small.
You may have heard of those large solar panel installations being built in the California desert? If not, I’ll list a few: There’s Copper Mountain (150 megawatts) in Nevada; the Ivanpah solar plant (392 MW) under construction near Las Vegas; the Mojave Solar Project (280 MW) under construction near Barstow.
These are large projects spread across acres of land in the sun-drenched desert. Solar projects are even popping up on military bases. Case in point is the Nellis Solar Power Plant built on the Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas (14 MW).
The state Legislature is maneuvering to add fixed costs to electric bills, watering down the incentive for homeowners to go (small) solar. A bill by Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, would add $10 per month in fixed charges, costing customers of investor-owned utilities $120 a month extra. Standing to benefit would be Pacific Gas & Electric and Rosemead-based Southern California Edison.
The Sierra Club is fighting the bill, saying it will discourage as many as 40 percent of new customers to go solar if their electric bills are higher no matter how much energy they use.
“If the utilities change the rules of the game, what is to stop them from doing it again down the road? It might discourage many (homeowners) from a 20-year lease (on rooftop solar),” said Evan Gillespie, Sierra Club spokesman in Los Angeles.
The environmental group started by John Muir says everyone should have the right to go small and produce their own electricity from the sun. Whether that is on the rooftop of a home, a church, a synagogue or an ice-cream truck, owners should be free to harness the freely provided energy of the sun.
The going-small solar movement incorporates many goals, from reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, to saving money on electric bills, to providing jobs.
“Every Californian family that installs solar panels on their roof is creating jobs for their community,” said Allen Hernandez, Inland Empire Community Organizer with the Sierra Club. “Community by community, neighbor by neighbor, Californians are going solar and are making California’s economy stronger.”
Solar installations reached record numbers in California in 2012, and 2013 shows no signs of slowing down, Gillespie said.
Last year, Temple Sinai in Glendale added a 125-panel solar array to the roof of its synagogue. The installation is saving the congregation $250 a month and that will grow to $1,000 a month in seven years. The temple estimated it will save $900,000 in electricity costs in 25 years.
My colleague, Opinion Editor Mariel Garza, says a $99 solar-powered charger from Voltaic allows her to re-charge her cellphone and iPod without plugging into a wall socket. It’s on my list of things to purchase.
There’s no end to the creativity of American entrepreneurs. That is, as long as the Legislature and investor-owned utilities don’t stand in their way.
When Young saw a solar-powered ice cream truck on the East Coast on one of his shoots, he said: “L.A. would eat that up!” So he bought a used ice-cream truck and got his friends at Hot Purple Energy in Palm Springs to pimp his ride. They’ll also retrofit the diesel engine to run on old french fry oil. Young also wants to employ at-risk young adults from a Hollywood shelter called My Friend’s Place.
“I want to use the sun to cool down my ice cream,” Young said.
The problem with this is that you do not mention massive corporate fraud of tens of trillions of dollars stolen from government coffers and individual pockets as the issue that makes safety nets especially needed while we rebuild our Rule of Law and democratic institutions. When you have a conversation about working hard and preparing for hard times as a reason not to need a safety net.....and completely ignore the fact that hard working people had their pensions, homes, and savings stolen from them by corporate fraud....you sound more like Glen Beck than journalists!
The best safety net? One man says, the smaller the better
by Krissy Clark Marketplace for 8/5/13 The safety net you didn't know existed The social safety net and whether we as a country spend too much or too little on it are subjects of perennial, often flaring, debates. And those debates can devolve quickly in to shouting matches.
But people's passions are usually rooted in quieter moments-- personal experiences of needing help or giving it, that can shape a lifetime perspective.
So here’s a modest proposal: maybe if we shared more of those back stories, they could lead to more thoughtful conversations among those who disagree. With that in mind, we've been asking you, our listeners and readers, to share your safety net tales. It's a series we call Show Me Your Safety Net. Here’s one from Paul Daniels, a Marketplace listener in Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
To understand Paul Daniels feelings about safety nets, especially ones funded by the government, you need to know a few things about him. Daniels is a 55 year old building engineer-- that's the fancy name for a guy who takes care of an office building's heating and air conditioning and plumbing systems. But-- here's the important part--being a building engineer is not what Paul Daniels wanted to be when he grew up. He keeps a little homage to his true ambition in a room in his house.
“This is my dream of being a journalist, right here,” Daniels says, pointing to a type writer and a bottle of Crown Royal. Then he pokes at a few sticky keys on the type writer. “It actually doesn’t work,” he laughs. “It’s broke.”
Part of why Daniels did not become a writer has to do with a piece of advice he got as a kid, growing up in a working class family in a suburb of Detroit.
“I always used to say to him be a something,” says Lucille Daniels, his 87 year-old mother. She lives with her son, now that she's too frail to live alone.
“Take up a trade--carpenter or electrician or whatever.” his mother remembers telling him. “Would’ve been nice if he'd been a doctor or a lawyer. But how many people do that?”
‘Work Hard and Be Ready for Tough Times’
Paul Daniels remembers his mother’s advice as a sort of warning. “I say that I was a depression child by proxy. My parents-- especially my mother-- were absolutely destitute during the depression,” Daniels says. “Her father lost his job. They had a child die. They lost their home. My mother drummed in to our heads that you better work hard and be ready for tougher times.”
For a while at least, that message competed with other messages Daniels was hearing.
Some came from people at school. “I couldn't spell to save my life, and yet when I would write something, the teachers always just raved about it,” Daniels says.
Others came from newspaper editors who published a handful of articles he wrote, which he keeps in a stack in his house. “The Troy Sommerset Gazette!” he smiles, filing through the clippings. “Those were the first people to encourage me to pursue my writing.”
And of course there were the invocations Daniels heard “at every commencement I've ever been to, follow your dreams.” And as tempting as that suggestion was, Daniels was, in the end, skeptical. “I think, ‘Well fine, follow your dreams. But if they don't work out, don't blame anybody else for them because that was a choice you made.”
The choice Daniels made was to walk away from his original dream. He says it involved a painful calculation.
“I might've become a well known writer,” he says. “But I think the chances of that were very slim. To take that risk…..”
“I just didn't want to end up becoming broke in my old age. So I worked--worked some jobs for companies that I hated, to support myself. And so someday, I will be able to retire.”
The trade-off still haunts him. But it's a trade-off he thinks not enough people make.
“I've been killing myself my entire life to take care of myself, and I see other people collecting. I'm paying, and their collecting.”
Which brings us back to the social safety net. The "collecting" Daniels is talking about is collecting money from government assistance programs.
“I’m not saying that I’ve never received unemployment in my life,” he says. “But I know a lot of people that collect unemployment, and it’s not like they need to. It’s more like a lifestyle.”
And this is where things get tricky. Yes, Daniels admits he’s used a few government safety net programs himself-- a couple months on unemployment insurance years ago, a federal student loan in college, a home mortgage interest deduction that reduces his housing costs.
But—he feels like mostly he’s made his safety net himself, through sacrifice. And he doesn’t have much sympathy for those who, as he sees it, have not.
And that’s the thing about safety nets: their usefulness can be in the eye of the beholder. You know why you need one when you need it. But when you see someone else need one, it’s a judgment call.
Following His Dreams, After All
There is a post script to this story.
Eventually, Daniels did actually do the whole following-your-dreams thing. After he worked as a building engineer at Kmart for fifteen years—a job he detested, he quit. He’d saved enough money to travel through Africa for a year. Then he started taking jobs that could finance his appetite for adventure. He has worked as a building engineer for the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and at the US research station in Antarctica.
A few years ago, he made a documentary about his time working in the South Pole.