News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Friday, February 4, 2011

Don't obsess about Egypt; it's happening in your backyard, too.

The GOP continues to define itself.  Health care is a major definition point, but the GOP attitude toward it is consistent with its obsessive lust for corporate fascism and longing to return working people to the status of serfs.  Ultimately, the GOP defines some harsh facts about America.  Barack Obama has adopted a conciliatory strategy in trying to hold the country together, but that does not disguise the fact that the country is seriously divided and the points of division are irreconcilable.  The GOP's obsessive chant about big government is a flimsy veil for policies that bolster the corporate that brought America to its economic knees, its that advocate the dispossession of the working middle class as it pushes millions more into poverty, and that contrive to deprive people of any voice or influence on the market place.

The GOP position on health care reform is the most telling statement of attitude and policy. The significance is that GOP leaders have expressed only their desire and intention to repeal health care reform.  They have made no effort to address the problems that health care reform is attempting to address.   Those problems are specified by the Health Care Online PAC:

Health Insurance

    * The United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system. Source: Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
    * In 2006, the percentage of Americans without health insurance was 15.8%, or approximately 47 million uninsured people. Source: US Census Bureau
    * Among the 84.2% with health insurance in 2006, coverage was provided through an employer 59.7%, purchased individually 9.1%, and 27.0% was government funded (Medicare, Medicaid, Military). (There is some overlap in coverage figures.) Source: US Census Bureau
    * The primary reason given for lack of health insurance coverage in 2005 was cost (more than 50%), lost job or a change in employment (24%), Medicaid benefits stopped (10%), ineligibility for family insurance coverage due to age or leaving school (8%). Source: National Center for Health Statistics

      Health Care

    * More than 40 million adults stated that they needed but did not receive one or more of these health services (medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses) in 2005 because they could not afford it. Source: National Center for Health Statistics
    * Medicaid, which accounted for 12.9% of health care coverage in 2006, is a health insurance program jointly funded by the federal and state governments to provide health care for qualifying low-income individuals. Source: US Census Bureau
    * Medicare, a federally funded health insurance program that covers the health care of most individuals 65 years of age and over and disabled persons, accounted for 13.6% of health care coverage in 2006. Source: US Census Bureau
    * Medicare operates with 3% overhead, non-profit insurance 16% overhead, and private (for-profit) insurance 26% overhead. Source: Journal of American Medicine 2007

Health Care Expenditures

    * In 2005, personal health care expenditures were paid by private health insurance 36%, federal government 35%, state and local governments 11% , and out-of-pocket payments 15%. Source: National Center for Health Statistics
    * The United States spends twice as much on health care per capita ($7,129) than any other country . . . and spending continues to increase. In 2005, the national health care expenditures totaled $2 trillion. Source: National Center for Health Statistics
    * 75% of all health care dollars are spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, many of which can be prevented, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Source: Health Affairs
    * From 2000 to 2006, overall inflation has increased 3.5%, wages have increased 3.8%, and health care premiums have increased 87%. Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
    * The average family health insurance premium, provided through an employer health benefit program, was $11,480 in 2006. Employees paid an average of $2,973 towards the premium amount. Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Infant Mortality


    * The United States ranks 43rd in lowest infant mortality rate, down from 12th in 1960 and 21st in 1990. Singapore has the lowest rate with 2.3 deaths per 1000 live births, while the United States has a rate of 6.3 deaths per 1000 live births. Some of the other 42 nations that have a lower infant mortality rate than the US include Hong Kong, Slovenia, and Cuba. Source: CIA Factbook (2008)
    * Approximately 30,000 infants die in the United States each year. The infant mortality rate, which is the risk of death during the first year of life, is related to the underlying health of the mother, public health practices, socioeconomic conditions, and availability and use of appropriate health care for infants and pregnant women. Sources: CDC and National Center for Health Statistics

Life Expectancy

    * Life expectancy at birth in the US is an average of 78.14 years, which ranks 47th in highest total life expectancy compared to other countries. Source: CIA Factbook (2008)

Bankruptcy

    * About half of the bankruptcy filings in the United States are due to medical expenses. Source: Health Affairs Journal 2005

The GOP retreats into false propaganda rather than make an outright statement on its stance on the issue.   Senate minority leader McConnell said Wednesday that the America people are clamoring for repeal of the health care reform act.  The Washington Post Fact Checker takes a look at what the American people have actually expressed:





The Facts

Let's take each of these assertions in order.

There have been four lower-court rulings on the health-care law. Two courts upheld it, saying it was constitutional. One court in Virginia said the individual mandate was unconstitutional but did not strike down the rest of the law. And finally, a court in Florida this week said the entire law was unconstitutional. Since McConnell is asking for a repeal of the entire bill, that would mean only one court out of four supports his position.

In any case, the lower court rulings are virtually meaningless. (For the record, there are nearly 700 U.S. district court judges.) Not a single appeals court has ruled on the issue. The only ruling that matters in the end will be the judgment of the Supreme Court. It is noteworthy that on the same day McConnell claimed backing by the "courts," elsewhere on Capitol Hill a distinguished Republican attorney--Charles Fried, solicitor general for Ronald Reagan--said the individual mandate in the health care law was constitutional.

As for the American people, polls show a decided mixed verdict on the law -- and an equally mixed verdict on repeal. The latest Washington Post-ABC poll shows that 45 percent of those polled support the law and 50 percent oppose it, numbers that have been largely unchanged since August 2009.

Depending on how the question is asked, support is actually low for a full repeal of the law. While McConnell could claim that a slim majority does not like the law, he cannot assert he has much backing for a full repeal, according to the Post-ABC poll. Only 18 percent of those polled supported full repeal; another 19 percent would back a partial repeal. That means 62 percent prefer to keep the law in place and see how it turns out.

In fact, even among Republicans -- who overwhelmingly oppose the law -- only 34 percent want to see a full repeal. These results were echoed by a recent Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health survey, which found that "28 percent want to expand the law, 19 percent leave it as is, 23 percent repeal it and replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative, and 20 percent repeal it and not replace it."




The GOP has defined itself as an enemy of the people in the same Mubarak loyalists have defined themselves as the enemy of the Egyptian people.  And in America, it doesn't look like the political system is any longer capable of resolving the situation.  The GOP has declared war on working America.   

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