Posts tagged healthcare
Smokers, beware: tobacco penalties under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act could subject millions of smokers to fees costing thousands of dollars, making healthcare more expensive for them than Americans with other unhealthy habits.
The Affordable Care Act, which critics have also called “Obamacare”, could subject smokers to premiums that are 50 percent higher than usual, starting next Jan 1. Health insurers will be allowed to charge smokers penalties that overweight Americans or those with other health conditions would not be subjected to.
A 60-year-old smoker could pay penalties as high as $5,100, in addition to the premiums, the Associated Press reports. A 55-year-old smoker’s penalty could reach $4,250. The older a smoker is, the higher the penalty will be.
Nearly one in every five U.S. adults smokes, with a higher number of low-income people addicted to the unhealthy habit. Even though smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, cancer and lung problems and would therefore require more health care, the penalties might devastate those who need help the most – including retirees, older Americans, and low-income individuals.
“We don’t want to create barriers for people to get health care coverage,” California state Assemblyman Richard Pan told AP. “We want people who are smoking to get smoking cessation treatment.”
Nearly 450,000 US residents die of smoking-related diseases each year, making the unhealthy habit a serious concern for lawmakers. One legislator is trying to criminalize smoking in his state, while others have raised taxes on cigarettes and the Obama administration has tried to inflict hefty fines upon smokers’ premiums.
Karen Pollitz, a former consumer protection regular, told AP that no insurers want to provide coverage for Americans who have been smoking for decades, and that the penalties might prompt people to abandon the habit.
“You would have the flexibility to discourage them,” she told AP.
But quitting is not easy, and charging older smokers up to three times as much as younger ones could make it difficult for them to seek care in the first place. A 60-year-old smoker charged with the penalty could be paying about $8,411 per year for health insurance, which is about 24 percent of a $35,000 income and is considered “unaffordable” under federal law.
“The effect of the smoking (penalty) allowed under the law would be that lower-income smokers could not afford health insurance,” said Richard Curtis, president of the Institute for Health Policy Solutions.
Ultimately, the law that is meant to make health care more affordable could have the opposite effect on older smokers at a time when smoking-related illnesses usually arise.
Same scenario by the same a$$hats from the same city. Take something known to be ugly, slap a pretty coat of paint on it, throw in some pork, and the Hill people eat it up. Somewhere there is a common denominator between the Affordable Care Act, the Patriot Act and the septic tank haulers called, or used to be called, honey wagons. If the “DCites” label it something sounding good for our country and we the people be assured it is the opposite.
The more stories that come out concerning the Affordable Care Act the more unaffordable it is, to both people and businesses. And based on the quote from Karen Pollitz, her disillusioned perception of reality sounds like it is coming from someone smoking something other than tobacco, but to each their own. There is a lot to be said for a government that steals the money from it’s citizens for taxes and healthcare before they even see their check. Enough years of indoctrination the people even think theft, by any name, is a good thing.
Spotted on http://www.activistpost.com/
This article first appeared on: The Age
If you’ve ever suspected politics is increasingly being run in the interests of big business, I have news: Jeffrey Sachs, a highly respected economist from Columbia University, agrees with you – at least in respect of the United States.
In his book, The Price of Civilisation, he says the US economy is caught in a feedback loop. ”Corporate wealth translates into political power through campaign financing, corporate lobbying and the revolving door of jobs between government and industry; and political power translates into further wealth through tax cuts, deregulation and sweetheart contracts between government and industry. Wealth begets power, and power begets wealth,” he says.
Sachs says four key sectors of US business exemplify this feedback loop and the takeover of political power in America by the ”corporatocracy”.
First is the well-known military-industrial complex. ”As [President] Eisenhower famously warned in his farewell address in January 1961, the linkage of the military and private industry created a political power so pervasive that America has been condemned to militarisation, useless wars and fiscal waste on a scale of many tens of trillions of dollars since then,” he says.
Second is the Wall Street-Washington complex, which has steered the financial system towards control by a few politically powerful Wall Street firms, notably Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and a handful of other financial firms.
These days, almost every US Treasury secretary – Republican or Democrat – comes from Wall Street and goes back there when his term ends. The close ties between Wall Street and Washington ”paved the way for the 2008 financial crisis and the mega-bailouts that followed, through reckless deregulation followed by an almost complete lack of oversight by government”.
Third is the Big Oil-transport-military complex, which has put the US on the trajectory of heavy oil-imports dependence and a deepening military trap in the Middle East, he says.
”Since the days of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Trust a century ago, Big Oil has loomed large in American politics and foreign policy. Big Oil teamed up with the automobile industry to steer America away from mass transit and towards gas-guzzling vehicles driving on a nationally financed highway system.”
Big Oil has consistently and successfully fought the intrusion of competition from non-oil energy sources, including nuclear, wind and solar power.
It has been at the side of the Pentagon in making sure that America defends the sea-lanes to the Persian Gulf, in effect ensuring a $US100 billion-plus annual subsidy for a fuel that is otherwise dangerous for national security, Sachs says.
It’s time to admit that we live in a false economy. Smoke and mirrors are used to make us believe the economy is real, but it’s all an elaborate illusion.
Out of one side of the establishment’s mouth we hear excitement about “green shoots”, and out of the other side comes breathless warnings of fiscal cliffs and the urgent need for unlimited bailouts by the Fed.
We hear the people begging for jobs and the politicians promising them, but politicians can’t create jobs. We see people camped out to buy stuff on Black Friday indicating the consumer economy is seemingly thriving, only to find out everything was bought on credit.
The corporate media does their best to distract us from seeing anything real. We see the media glorify Kim Kardashian who got rich by being famous, and became famous merely by being rich. She got front page coverage on Huffington Post this week because her cat died. Enough said.
Meanwhile the financial media makes the economy seem complicated and they ban anyone who speaks truthfully about the economy from their airwaves.
Is it any wonder why people are angry and confused about the economy?
By Leslie MacKinnon, CBC News
Can doctors withdraw life-support without family’s consent?
The emotionally charged question about whether a doctor should have the authority to order life-support tubes pulled from a minimally conscious patient without the consent of the patient’s family was the subject of a Supreme Court of Canada hearing Monday.
The case is about Hassan Rasouli, who has been on a ventilator and feeding tube for the past two years at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, after bacterial meningitis destroyed parts of his brain following surgery for a brain tumour.
Rasouli, at first in a coma, was deemed to be in a persistent vegetative state, but that diagnosis was changed to one of “minimal consciousness” after he seemed to wake up and could occasionally give a thumbs-up sign, or grasp a ball.
Nevertheless, Rasouli’s doctors at Sunnybrook didn’t change their minds that he should be taken off hydration and feeding systems and moved into palliative care.
Rasouli’s family sought an injunction to prevent removal of the tubes, and then argued successfully at two lower court levels that the doctors did not have to right to halt use of the life-preserving equipment. The doctors appealed those decisions to the highest court.
Outside the court in Ottawa Monday, Rasouli’s daughter Mozhgan said, “My father represents the value of life … I know that he wants to be alive.” She continued, “It is unfair, it is unfair — he should be treated like anyone else.”
By Mark Horne
Why would the fiscal cliff mean that doctors would suddenly take a thirty percent cut in their billing? Nothing was said about that last year when the deal was made. Part of the problem is that deal wasn’t made last year. It was made fifteen years ago and then hidden under fig leaves. Those leaves are going to fall away on January 1.
Inventing Another “Debt Ceiling” to Raise
Back to 1997, the basic bankruptcy of Medicare was too obvious for Congress to deny. They felt they had to do something about it. Basically, seniors were demanding using the program more and more, as is likely to happen when you give away free money. So Congress determined by law that every year that expenses went up above a certain amount, the Medicare reimbursements would go down to compensate. Basically, they tried to impose price controls on medicine in order to counterbalance the inherent price inflation and expansion that such “free money” programs naturally produce.
So, since 1997, every time that the Medicare expenses have expanded too much, Medicare has reduced the amount of money that they would pay for a procedure. This meant doctors became even less happy having to deal with Medicare. Medicare patients found doctors would not take their business or at least didn’t seem happy to do so. Medicare patients vote and make people in Congress want to make them happy in order to gain or stay in office.
By Ethan A. Huff
By Lesley Swann
Governor Bill Haslam recently announced he plans to put off the decision on whether to form the health care exchanges outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, after HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius extended the deadlinefor states to notify the federal government until Dec. 14.
No doubt, the governor is getting significant pressure from both sides of the exchange fight, with insurance company lobbyists emphasizing that they’d prefer to work with the state government instead of the federal government, while individual citizens and employers are mounting a lobbying effort of their own against the exchanges.
One has to wonder if perhaps Haslam isn’t waiting in the hope that Tennesseans will be too occupied with candy canes, turkey, and holiday festivities to notice what their state government is doing.
By Melissa Melton
A Cincinnati-based health system has reportedly fired 150 of its 10,800 employees because they would not get vaccinated against the flu.
Citing patient and staff protection, the company sent termination notices to the employees this week just ahead of Thanksgiving. If they agree to get a flu shot (which are offered at no cost) by December 3, the employees will get to keep their jobs.
This isn’t the first instance of healthcare workers’ freedoms being stripped away; whole states are now attempting to force healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
Last month, Rhode Island passed the first-ever full mandate requiring all healthcare employees (including doctors, nurses, and even temporary workers and medical volunteers) to receive a flu vaccine. Colorado’s state health board approved a similar mandate seven-to-one this past February that would force all health organizations such as hospitals and nursing homes to prove at least 60 percent of their employees received a flu vaccination in 2012-2013; the requirement will increase to 90 percent by 2014-2015.
A similar flu shot mandate bill has been introduced in California. Healthcare staff in the California cities of San Francisco and Santa Clara are already required to take the shot; if they refuse, they must wear a mask at all times while at work.
In most cases, the only way for a healthcare worker to refuse a flu shot is on the basis of provable “medical grounds.”
According to the National Vaccine Information Center, there are eight types of commercially available flu vaccines which contain a wide array of potentially harmful ingredients: everything from toxic thimerosol (mercury) which has been shown to cause neurological disorders, to the funeral home preservative formaldehyde, to the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). One flu vaccine study even found that only 1.5 out of every 100 people inoculated derive any actual benefit from the annual injection.
As it is impossible to predict which flu viruses will hit in a given season, so-called experts have to chose which strains to use in the year’s round of vaccinations months in advance for on-time production and delivery. This means that, out of hundreds of strains, scientists have to pick a few and hope their supposedly educated guess is correct.
Because flu vaccines have been shown to cause severe reactions such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome and seizures, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides website visitors with a link to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program where anyone injured by the flu shot can file a claim. World-leading immunogeneticist Dr. Hugh Fudenberg even found that people who receive five flu shots over the course of their lifetimes have a ten times greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
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