Monday, January 20, 2020

Debs Nailed It!

Trump's Claims Of Black Support Are Ludicrous

Just before the last election, Donald Trump bragged that he had the support of about 40% of Blacks. And since then, he has intermittently made claims of growing Black support. It is not even close to true, but just more Trump lies.

The truth is that 90% of Blacks disapprove of how Trump is doing his job, 76% believe Trump's actions as president have made life worse for Blacks, 83% believe he has made racism a bigger problem in the U.S., and 83% believe Trump is a racist.

These results are from a recent Washington Post / Ipsos Poll -- done between January 2nd and 8th of a national sample of 1,088 Black adults, with a 3.5 point margin of error.

Too Emotional

Political Cartoon is by Mike Thompson in USA Today.

The Economy Is NOT As Great As Trump/GOP Claims

Donald Trump loves to brag about how great the United States economy is, and if you are rich (like him and his buddies) then he might be right. But the truth for most Americans (in both the working and middle classes) is that the economy is not so great. They are struggling to make ends meet -- and falling further behind each month.

The thirteen charts above (from the Economic Policy Institute) paint a true picture of the U.S. economy. They show an economy geared to favor the rich at the expense of all other people.

This does not have to be. We have had economic policies in the past that were much fairer to everyone. But the Republicans don't want that, and until they are voted out of power we will continue to have this unfair economy.

Proving The Love Of Trump

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at

U.S. Wastes Billions Of Healthcare Dollars Every Year

 Americans like to think that the money they spend each year for health insurance goes to actually pay for health care. It doesn't. The truth is that the U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year that doesn't contribute to the health of any American.

The money goes to pay the overhead for private insurance companies -- profits, executive and employee compensation, stockholder compensation, et cetera. The people receiving this money provide no health care. They simply suck dollars out of the health care system.

No matter what kind of health care system a country has, some money will be spent on overhead (managing the system), but Americans spend far more on overhead than other countries do -- and that is largely why health care costs so much more in the U.S. than in most other countries. For instance, Canada spends only about $1 on this compared to $4 in U.S. for each person.

Consider this excellent article by Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times:

In the United States, a legion of administrative health care workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.
Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering health care is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.
That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private health care programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.
Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.
It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private health care insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their health care coverage.
To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.
Some Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance, whose cost is regulated. Outpatient medications are not included in the government plan, but aside from that, coverage of “medically necessary services” is assured from cradle to grave.
The cost of administering this system amounts to 17% of Canada’s national expenditures on health.
In the United States, twice as much — 34% — goes to the salaries, marketing budgets and computers of health care administrators in hospitals, nursing homes and private practices. It goes to executive pay packages which, for five major health care insurers, reach close to $20 million or more a year. And it goes to the rising profits demanded by shareholders.
Administering the U.S. network of public and private health care programs costs $812 billion each year. And in 2018, 27.9 million Americans remained uninsured, mostly because they could not afford to enroll in the programs available to them.
“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”
The new figures are based on an analysis of public documents filed by U.S. insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, home-care and hospice agencies, and physicians’ offices. Researchers from Hunter College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Ottawa compared those to administrative costs across the Canadian health care sector, as detailed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and a trade association that represents Canada’s private insurers.
Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian health care spending, the costs of administering health care insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.
In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing private health insurance companies, said administrative practices shouldn’t be blamed for escalating the cost of care in the United States.
“Study after study continues to demonstrate the value of innovative solutions brought by the free market,” AHIP said in a statement. “In head-to-head comparisons, the free market continues to be more efficient than government-run systems.”
AHIP cited a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent body that advises Congress. The report showed that Medicare Advantage plans — which are privately administered — deliver benefits at 88% of the cost of traditional Medicare.
Even so, the study authors concluded that if the U.S. health care system could trim its administrative bloat to bring it in line with Canada’s, Americans could save $628 billion a year while getting the same health care.
“The United States is currently wasting at least $600 billion on health care paperwork — money that could be saved by going to a simple ‘Medicare for All’ system,” said senior author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, a health policy researcher at Hunter College and longtime advocate of single-payer systems.
That sum would be more than enough to extend coverage to the nation’s uninsured, she said.

Borrowed Sharpie

Political Cartoon is by Gary Huck at

War - Who Is It Good For?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

An Indefensible Truth

Explaining My Absence

I expect a few of you more inquisitive readers have noticed my absence from this blog for the last few days, and would like an explanation. I am happy to oblige.

First, let me apologize. I wish I had time to tell you before hand, but this happened fairly rapidly.

I started having abdominal pains last Thursday. They did not improve, and on Saturday night I let my daughter take me to Urgent Care.

Urgent Care couldn't figure out what was wrong, but considered it serious. They sent me to the Hospital Emergency Room. The Emergency Room doctor thought I had an infection -- maybe in my gallbladder. He admitted me to the hospital late Saturday night.

On Sunday, the hospital's attending physician verified that I had a gallbladder problem, and scheduled me for surgery at 11:00am on Monday. The surgery went well.

I was released from the hospital on Tuesday evening. I'm still weak, but seem to be healing nicely.

I going to take a couple more days to feel stronger. Then I will rejoin the fight against Trumpism, Republicanism, and other forms of evil.


Cartoon is by Randy Glasbergen at

A Morally Bankrupt Ego Maniac