Labor Day

More Labor Day reading:

David Sirota: “Republicans are waging a war on the very workers they purport to care about.”

Editorial from today’s Los Angeles Times

The problem is that a country with such stark divides between rich and poor is in deep trouble. Especially when that country is a democracy.

Paul Krugman

Some still think of the V.A. as a decrepit institution, which it was in the Reagan and Bush I years. But thanks to reforms begun under Bill Clinton, it’s now providing remarkably high-quality health care at remarkably low cost. …

… Not surprisingly, hundreds of thousands of veterans have switched from private physicians to the V.A. The commander of the American Legion has proposed letting elderly vets spend their Medicare benefits at V.A. facilities, which would lead to better medical care and large government savings.

Instead, the Bush administration has restricted access to the V.A. system, limiting it to poor vets or those with service-related injuries. And as for allowing elderly vets to get better, cheaper health care: “Conservatives,” writes Time, “fear such an arrangement would be a Trojan horse, setting up an even larger national health-care program and taking more business from the private sector.”

Think about that: they won’t let vets on Medicare buy into the V.A. system, not because they believe this policy initiative would fail, but because they’re afraid it would succeed.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is pursuing a failed idea from the 1990’s: channeling Medicare recipients into private H.M.O.’s. … Years of experience show that H.M.O.’s actually have substantially higher costs per patient than conventional Medicare, because they add an expensive extra layer of bureaucracy and also spend heavily on marketing. H.M.O.’s for Medicare recipients prospered for a while by selectively covering relatively healthy older Americans, but when the government began paying less for those likely to have low medical costs, many H.M.O.’s dropped out of the Medicare market.

In 2003, however, the Bush administration pushed through the Medicare Advantage program, which offers heavy subsidies to H.M.O.’s. According to the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Medicare Advantage plans cost the government 11 percent more per person than traditional Medicare. Oh, and mortality rates in these plans are 40 percent higher than those of elderly veterans covered by the V.A. But thanks to the subsidy, membership in Medicare Advantage plans is surging.

On one side, then, the administration and its allies in Congress oppose expanding the best health care system in America, even though that expansion would save taxpayer dollars, because they’re afraid that allowing a successful government program to expand would undermine their antigovernment crusade and displease powerful business lobbies.

On the other side, ideology and fealty to interest groups make them willing to waste billions subsidizing private H.M.O.’s.

Remember that contrast the next time you hear some conservative going on about excessive spending on entitlements, and declaring that we need to cut back on Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Update: Via Steve GilliardThe historic 1936-37 Flint auto plant strikes.

7 thoughts on “Labor Day

  1. I pay 700 monthly for low option hmo coverage for myself and my 2 children. I am not impressed at all with the coverage. The copays are 25 and 40 every time and if there is an emergency you get to haggle with the bureaucracy for 7 months and 60 phone calls over the simplest and most straight forward claim because they simply do not want to pay what they owe you. I listened to Doctors complaining about their time and low pay on NPR the other day and part of the problem is the HMO’s have turned the primary care dr.s into door men. When you need emergency care or specialist care and it is obviously so, you have to go thru a primary care dr who has no time and is impossible to get in to see to get authorization to do what you needed to do anyway. It wastes his time and yours and your money. And I have used it very little as I am very healthy. God only knows how angry I would be if I had a serious health problem. My 86 yr old mother has medicare and a supplemental , $9 copays for rx and gets much better care than I do. It costs her very little( under 100 mo) for the whole package. Now I’m glad she has it, but the working people are screwed in this country and the young people are really screwed. Unless they are in college you can’t keep covering them. What are they to do? Employers don’t want to be bothered anymore. If they hadnt so short sighted and pig headed in the past and if the chamber of commerce had realized 25 yr ago that it was in their interest and not a commie plot to have national healthcare we wouldn’t be in this mess..

  2. “If the Chamber of Commerce had realised…”

    Yeah…And as my Ol’ Daddy used to say:

    “If we could just get that damn cow to shit butter, we could throw away the churn”…

  3. Krugman “..[they] fear such an arrangement would be a Trojan horse, setting up an even larger national health-care program and taking more business from the private sector.”

    But that’s exactly it. What is the point of providing health care if it isn’t a profitable venture for the private sector?

  4. This is OT; I hope you’ll forgive me. A few weeks ago, I recall Bush saying America was addicted to oil. Now it seems, he actually said we are addicted to FOREIGN oil. (Like we can tell the difference :)). Oh, oh…

  5. When I worked the harbors of the west coast, I heard the “old timers” speak of “Bloody Thursday” and the effect on the unions
    (longshore, Seamans,Piledrivers,etc)
    Here’s an interesting read for Labor day:
    Commie plot? It made the west coast “Longies” and harborworkers among the best paid in the world. Bush went up against them several years ago and got a bloody nose.

    (You crack me up Marvel!)

  6. Another example of Bush’s determination to dismantle all Government Programs. To wipe out the New Deal and Great Society and turn the clock back to 1890s.
    This is a real and active plan by the gop. The likes of Norquist and Rove at the helm.

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