Make health care affordable? Easy.

From the Clinton Global Initiative:

"Diabetes now consumes 10% of the overall U.S. healthcare budget and some 32% of the Medicare budget."


"The NIH-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) showed that lifestyle interventions such as diet and moderate physical activity for those over the age of 60 with pre-diabetes reduced the development of diabetes by 71%."

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The Great Government Swine Flu Conspiracy

The federal government has taken the lead in protecting Americans against a Swine Flu attack. Apparently, the right wing loonies disagree. Walter Brasch has a suggestion for them.

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A Senior Progressive On Health Care

Seniors are the closest to dying, the most frail, and the most vulnerable population in our society.  Is it any wonder they are the population most opposed to Obama Care as it has emerged from the shadows?

A July 31 Gallup Poll found that just 20 percent of Americans aged 65 and older believe health care reform would improve their own situation, noticeably lower than the 27 percent of 18- to 49-year olds and 26 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds who say the same. 2/pl_politico/2602

Americans still do not know the details of the  final bill. We do know that the Obama administration has made private deals and secret promises to corporate health care stakeholders. The public recipients, the inheritors of  Medicare, the people who have worked and paid into this program all their lives have not been invited to the White House. All they do know at this point is that 380 Billion will be taken from Medicare in what is being termed a  "waste management" effort to trim costs.

They also know  that in its assault on Medicare this White House-- the progressive Democratic one-- has echoed the sentiments of the neo-con Bush one.

I am a senior who recently buried her mother who was on Medicare.

My mother received abominable care in the hospital. They looked at her insurance and based on it they routed her to a back  ward and to an inferior type of care.

My mother was 87, and when it was finally deduced that she had congestive heart failure-after two weeks of a false diagnosis-- she was deemed too old for any sort of surgical intervention. She was sent home on hospice to die because without any sort of surgical intervention that was what was going to happen. My mother drowned in her own fluids within 6 weeks.

The former Mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, recently wrote:

Most alarming for people like me, who at 84 years of age recently needed a quadruple bypass and aortic valve replacement, are the pronouncements of President Obama's appointee, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who, according to a New York Post op ed article by Betsy McCauley, former Lt. Governor of the State of New York, stated, "Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, `as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others' (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008)." He also stated, "...communitarianism' should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those `who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens...An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.' (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96). s_tribune/2009/08/ed-koch-commentary-fal ling-out-of-love-with-barack-obama-by-ed -koch.html

My God, is anybody listening? If  seniors on premium plans funded by their expensive law offices, which Koch's is, are concerned, it is because health care past the age of 80 is literally about  life and death. It is not a question of measles or the flu. And if we compare the case of Koch, 3 years older than my mother, we do not need more rationing and cost effective cutting of Medicare. We need to expand it. We need to improve it. We need to see to it that hospitals and doctors across the country do not provide sub-standard care because Medicare is rationed in ways that more expensive, private pay health care plans are not.

My mother could be alive today if she had Ed Koch's insurance plan.

So yes, when I see seniors railing at Congress people, outraged by the crass and soul-less behavior of their so-called representatives who in fact are more representative of health care lobbying interests, I applaud them.

And I join them  in asking this one simple question: if your reform is so sound and so excellent, when will you give up your terrific private plan and join us on Medicare?

The whole idea is laughable, isn't it? And yet I  remember during the campaign, Obama  promised that Americans would be awarded  the same kind of healthcare as members of Congress now enjoy.

The health care industry giants have bought and paid for Obama Care. Now they are lobbying for it with more money than the sum which bankrolled John Mcain's entire presidential campaign.

You better believe seniors are angry.

And if Obama is so concerned about ballooning Medicare costs. Let's get the hell out of Afghanistan. We can "win" there through education, health care and civilian efforts not military intervention. If we went to trim costs, ok. Let's deal with our trillion dollar bailout  of  our out of control financial industry  which is soaking up taxpayer money for billions in bonuses, buy outs and mergers.

There is Nothing about  this present health care effort that could be termed reform in the traditional meaning of that word. We are in the land of  Orwell Speak here.

Obama care is a return of the same waste, mis-management, and many-tiered health system dependent upon how much you can pay that reined supreme before Medicare dared to show Americans there could be a better way.

I believe many others have said all of this far better than I have. But I know  no one has shed more tears or felt more despair over the boondoggle being foisted on us by a Democratic President who has wrapped his health care give-away in the flag of reform while betraying the ideals of those Democratic presidents who have gone before him. These Presidents brought real reform and hope to millions of  working Americans and I believe they would be appalled at this lack of a new deal.

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Bank Bailout Bad Omen for Health Care

The parking spaces in front of the bank were full. Over the front door Temecula Valley Bank's name hid behind a white banner which blared out it was now, the  Blah, Blah Bank out of North Carolina. Yes, another failed bank. And I was there to get my money back in my  hunt for the holy grail: a bank  that would give me a `decent' rate of return.  This from onth-at-record-lows/

CD rates almost held their own this week, but logged yet another decline for the month of July.
With every rate we track now at -- or near -- record lows, you'd think the carnage would have to end soon. And the rate of decline did seem to slow in July.
But to use those numbers to claim the bottom is in sight would be as much wishful thinking as sound analysis.
Bankrate's weekly survey of large banks and thrifts taken July 29 found the average annual yield for a:
Three-month CD declined to 0.50% from 0.51% the previous week. That's the lowest average since Bankrate began tracking 3-month CD rates in March 1989.
Six-month CD fell to 0.76% from 0.77% -- the lowest average since Bankrate began tracking 6-month CD rates in January 1984.
One-year CD fell to 1.07% from 1.08% -- approaching the record low of 1.03% set in July 2003.

As  I entered the bank I felt like Don Quixote. Duffy, the wheaten, who trotted beside me was  my Sancho Panza.
"They prolly have some cookies, Duff.
He knows the "C" word and he pranced inside, alert and motivated.

sancho panza

The first time when Indymac went under with my cd--I panicked. Now it is routine. This is the fourth failure in my search for an interest rate that pays a return in dollars instead of pennies. The   FDIC rocks. FDR was a Democrat's Democrat! And now  we have the Banker's Friend in the White House. FDR is turning over in his grave.

"Look, I voted for the guy," I told the Obama fan in the line in front of me. She was accompanied  by her out-of-work husband,  who is no longer a big O fan either. As she extolled Obama's virtues, her hubby and I rolled our eyes at each other. Duffy was whimpering for his cookie. I wondered  if he could see that the cookies were nearly gone, snatched up by people who hd retrieved their money before us. "I'll get you one right now," I told him. The Obama fan held Duffy's leash and I retrieved a vanilla cookie, which left only one. Duffy munched happily. All around us people were waiting patiently to retrieve their money. But unlike me, most now needed the funds to survive; no more cds

CDs and health care are two primary concerns of America's seniors, and I have slid into the senior category without quite realizing it. But now I find my outlook, at least when it comes to my welfare and concerns, painfully at odds with the Obama administration. It isn't only the banks.

The idea that Medicare will be reduced by having to get permission for procedures makes me see red. This program is successful, there are no wasteful procedures compared to HMO's which was the source of my mother's health care  and within which her doctor prescribed, 3, please count `em, that's 3 surgeries for what in reality was acid reflux. The guy never met a senior he couldn't bilk for unnecessary  surgeries.

Medicare, however, is single-payer care. I break something or I get sick, I go to Scripps, and they fix me up. I pay 20 percent of the bill. I can find the right specialist when I need one. I am essentially a free agent. I do not underwrite the insurance companies or Big Pharma. Medicare is an established, successful, and beautifully managed government administered health care system that works.

This is from the July 30, 2009 Progress Report:

44 Years Of Medicare Success
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act, part of which included Medicare, a measure to provide low-cost health insurance for elderly Americans. At the time, Johnson called the bill "the most revolutionary and most beneficial measure for older Americans since we passed Social Security itself back in 1935.""They will no longer have to suffer from misery and neglect and depend upon their relatives because they themselves cannot afford the cost of modern treatment," Johnson said. He inaugurated the "Great Society" program at the White House signing ceremony by enrolling former President Harry Truman as the first beneficiary and presenting him with the first Medicare card. "I predict that 30 years from today, this bill will be a welcome and permanent part of our nation's heritage that no representative would ever dare repeal," Johnson said. "Why? Because it represents the moral principle that we just must not neglect in their age those who have given a lifetime of service to their country." Johnson was right. Forty-four years later, Medicare has dramatically improved access to quality health care for the nation's seniors, allowed them to live longer and healthier lives, and has become one of the country's most popular government programs.

MEDICARE'S SUCCESS: Since the advent of Medicare, "the health of the elderly population has improved, as measured by both longevity and functional status," said one study published in the journal Health Affairs. In fact, according to the study, "life expectancy at age 65 increased from 14.3 years in 1960 to 17.8 years in 1998 and the chronically disabled elderly population declined from 24.9 percent in 1982 to 21.3 percent in 1994." Leaders of the Commonwealth Fund wrote in May that, "compared to people with private insurance, Medicare enrollees have greater access to care [and] fewer problems with medical bills." The report added that this finding is significant when considering that those Americans on Medicare represent a demographic that is more likely to be in poor health and to have lower incomes. Prior to Medicare, "about one-half of America's seniors did not have hospital insurance," more than 25 percent "were estimated to go without medical care due to cost concerns," and one in three were living in poverty. Today, nearly all seniors have access to affordable health care and only about 14 percent of seniors are below the poverty line.

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: A recent Commonwealth Fund survey found that "elderly Medicare beneficiaries reported greater overall satisfaction with their health coverage." Medicare is so popular that most Americans support expanding its coverage to Americans aged 55 to 64. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, "over half of Americans (53 percent) 'strongly' support such a proposal and an additional 26 percent say they support it somewhat, totaling 79 percent backing." Similarly, a Health and Human Services Department-commissioned study released in June found that "56 percent of enrollees in traditional fee-for-service Medicare give Medicare a rating of 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale," while "only 40 percent of Americans enrolled in private health insurance gave their plans a 9 or 10 rating.""The higher scores for Medicare are based on perceptions of better access to care," the National Journal noted, commenting on the surveys, adding that "[m]ore than two thirds (70 percent) of traditional Medicare enrollees say they 'always' get access to needed care (appointments with specialists or other necessary tests and treatment), compared with 63 percent in Medicare managed care plans and only 51 percent of those with private insurance.

And now we have the Democrat President in the White House on June 13, 2009, saying:

Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid pose one of the greatest threats to our federal deficit, and could leave our children with a mountain of debt that they cannot pay... This includes over $300 billion that we will save through changes like reducing Medicare overpayments to private insurers, and rooting out waste in Medicare and Medicaid.

Once again:

The Obama administration announced yesterday, July 1, 2009, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, that it plans to significantly reduce Medicare payments to physicians, in particular, imaging services and specialists. The purpose of this policy change is to increase the number of primary care physicians to meet the demand of an aging population and the new wave of people who will qualify for insurance coverage if Congress approves the Obama health plan in its current form.
These changes will result in reducing Medicare payments for imaging services and specialists while increasing Medicare payments for primary care physicians by 6 - 8% next year. Other specialists, such as cardiologists, will experience comparatively greater cuts amounting to approximately 11% (with even more substantial reductions for certain procedures, such as echocardiograms and cardiac catheterizations). Radiologists are slated to experience a 20% cut for certain high-end imaging services (e.g., MRI and CT). These cuts are projected to save around $220 million between 2010 and 2014.

I suspect like many, many Americans I feel as if I am not the brightest bulb on what health care reform means. The devil is always in the details and they are in short supply as the Obama administration is deliberately vague in hopes of bypassing right wing  attacks.

But of one thing I am certain. While the Obama Administration has bailed out banks with my money, I cannot find an adequate interest rate from any of them. And this gives me pause when it comes to health reform. I need the details. I want to know Exactly what they are planning to do to Medicare.

C'mon Duff, I said, as we left the bank. Let's go home. We gotta figure out where to put this money. The 12 year old Benji look-alike, who is a senior too,  bounced along beside me. I looked down at his trusting brown eyes.

'Well, one thing for sure.' I thought. 'The next bank will have lots of cookies.'

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A Secret Exposed -- Medicare Works Better Than Private Insurance

Nothing better symbolizes the corruption of the debate about healthcare reform than the rhetoric about "government-run" healthcare. Or, for that matter, the related argument that we need a "uniquely American" solution which precludes a public system like Medicare for all.

Two reports that notably received scant coverage from either the media or even those advocating the public plan "option" in Congress, reveal the seldom told truth.

Medicare is a "uniquely American" solution, and it works.

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