Posts tagged Medicare
By Tyler Durden
ObamaScare – The Uncomfortable Truths
With delays, glitches, and broken promises plaguing the President’s healthcare reform, it is perhaps surprising that the level of coverage among the mainstream media of the SNAFU – and more importantly its potential implications – is not higher. Of course, in each news cycle, Obamacare is mentioned, along with a soundbite of how it will all be fixed soon and it’s only the website, but, as the following uncomfortable clip shows, there are notable and far-reaching implications (not the least of which is the progression to a part-time economy that we have so vociferously pointed out – explicitly here and anecdotally here) for Americans and the US economy as a whole.
Obamascare video capture added to original post.
Meet One Of The Victims Of Obama’s “Economic Recovery”
Have you ever cried yourself to sleep because you had no idea how you were going to pay the bills even though you were working as hard as you possibly could? You are about to hear from a single mother that has been there. Her name is Yolanda Vestal and she is another victim of Obama’s “economic recovery”. Yes, things have never been better for the top 0.01 percent of ultra-wealthy Americans that have got millions of dollars invested in the stock market. But for most of the rest of the country, things are very hard right now. At this point, more than 102 million working age Americans do not have a job, and 40 percent of those that are actually working earn less than $20,000 a year in wages. If we actually are experiencing an “economic recovery”, then why is the federal government spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare? And that does not even include entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. We live in a nation where poverty is exploding and the middle class is shrinking with each passing day. But nothing is ever going to get fixed if we all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is “just fine”.
What you are about to read is an open letter to Barack Obama that has gone absolutely viral on the Internet in recent days. It is a letter that a single mother named Yolanda Vestal posted on her Facebook page, and it has really struck a nerve because countless other young parents can clearly identify with what she is going through. The following is the text of her letter…
Dear President Obama,
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all you have done and are doing. You see I am a single Mom located in the very small town of Palmer, Texas. I live in a small rental house with my two children. I drive an older car that I pray daily runs just a little longer. I work at a mediocre job bringing home a much lower paycheck than you or your wife could even imagine living on. I have a lot of concerns about the new “Obamacare” along with the taxes being forced on us Americans and debts you are adding to our country. I have a few questions for you Mr. President.
Have you ever struggled to pay your bills? I have.
Have you ever sat and watched your children eat and you eat what was left on their plates when they were done, because there wasn’t enough for you to eat to? I have.
Have you ever had to rob Peter to pay Paul, and it still not be enough? I have.
Have you ever been so sick that you needed to see a doctor and get medicine, but had no health insurance because it was too expensive? I have.
Have you ever had to tell your children no, when they asked for something they needed? I have.
Have you ever patched holes in pants, glued shoes, replaced zippers, because it was cheaper than buying new? I have.
Have you ever had to put an item or two back at the grocery store, because you didn’t have enough money? I have.
Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, because you had no clue how you were going to make ends meet? I have.
My questions could go on and on. I don’t believe you have a clue what Americans are actually going through and honestly, I don’t believe you care. Not everyone lives extravagantly. While your family takes expensive trips that cost more than most of us make in two-four years, there are so many of us that suffer. Yet, you are doing all you can to add to the suffering. I think you are a very selfish and cold hearted man, who does not care what is best for the people he was elected by (not by me) to represent, but more so out for the glory of your name attached to history. So thank you Mr. President, thank you for pushing those of us that are barely staying afloat completely under water and driving America into the ground. You have made your mark in history, as the absolute worst and most hated president of the United States. God have mercy on your soul!
These are the kinds of emotions that millions of American parents are wrestling with on a daily basis. Many of them are working as hard as they possibly can and yet still find themselves unable to adequately provide for their families.
And now that food stamps are being cut back, more of them than ever are going to be forced to turn to food banks for help. The following is what the head of a large food bank in Casper, Wyoming told one local newspaper about the increase in demand that he is witnessing in his area…
Across the state, food banks and other related programs aiming to feed the needy are worried the supply to meet the uptick in need during the holiday season won’t meet the growing demand for food caused by the expiration of SNAP benefits.
“People are scared to death of the lack of food availability,” Martin said.
Martin called Joshua’s Storehouse a reliable barometer for measuring the rate of need in Casper. The number of people using the food bank skyrocketed before the reduction in SNAP, he said.
Fewer than 2,000 people used the food bank in October 2012. Last month 2,500 people went there for help.
And of course this is not just happening in rural areas either. Margarette Purvis, the head of the largest food bank organization in New York City, says that she is anticipating a huge surge in demand and that veterans are being hit particularly hard…
“On this Veterans Day, when we’re waving our flags — I need every New Yorker to know — 40 percent of New York City veterans are relying on soup kitchens and pantries.”
Purvis says that there are 95,000 vets relying on food banks in New York City alone.
That is a lot of people.
And while Barack Obama may trot out a few vets on national holidays and promise that “we will never forget” them, the truth is that most of the time the federal government treats our military veterans like human garbage. If you doubt this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Signs That Military Veterans Are Being Treated Like Absolute Trash Under The Obama Administration“.
Meanwhile, anger and frustration with the economy are starting to rise to very dangerous levels in this nation.
In a previous article, I noted that violent crime in America rose by 15 percent last year. One of the primary reasons for this is the economic despair that we see in our streets.
As the economy gets even worse, people will become even more desperate. We will start to see even more flash mob crimes like we saw in Chicago recently. Posted below is a video news report that shows footage of a flash mob in Chicago dragging entire racks of merchandise out of a Sports Authority store…
When you watch stuff like this, it helps to explain why demand for armored vehicles among the ultra-wealthy in America is skyrocketing.
Unfortunately, most Americans cannot afford armored vehicles and walled vacation homes in the middle of nowhere.
Most Americans are going to have to live right in the middle of all of this as it happens.
A volcano of anger, frustration and despair is simmering just below the surface in America.
When that volcano finally erupts, it is going to be a very frightening thing to behold.
This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.
Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com
We Are Heading For The Greatest Doctor Shortage In American History
The United States already has an emerging shortage of doctors, and thanks to Obamacare that shortage is about to become much, much worse. Right now, the U.S. has close to a million doctors, and about half of them are over the age of 50. Many of them are beginning to wonder if practicing medicine is worth it anymore. In some specialties, treating Medicaid and Medicare patients pays so little that many doctors are now turning them away. Other doctors are charging their regular patients enormous amounts in order to make up for the money that they are losing on Medicaid and Medicare patients. And of course the paperwork and the red tape imposed on doctors by the health insurance companies and the federal government gets worse with each passing year. Some doctors actually spend more time filling out paperwork and dealing with red tape than they do seeing patients. On top of everything else, there is the constant and never-ending threat of being sued by predatory lawyers and losing everything. The giant malpractice insurance premiums that many doctors have to pay are an extreme financial burden on many practices. When you add it all together, it really is not surprising to learn that large numbers of doctors all over the nation are being driven into bankruptcy. Unfortunately, Obamacare is going to make all of the problems that I have just discussed even worse. This is going to result in much longer waits to see a doctor, and the level of health care in this country is going to go down substantially.
Most Americans don’t realize that we already have a shortage of doctors in this country. According to CBS News, right now there is “a shortage of 20,000 doctors nationwide”.
But that isn’t too bad. We could get by with that.
Unfortunately, at the moment close to half of all doctors in the United States are over the age of 50. And thanks to Obamacare and other changes in the health care industry, many of them are fed up and would like to retire.
And this comes at a time when our population is rapidly aging and our nation will need more doctors than ever.
According to CBS News, it is now being projected that we will need an additional 52,000 primary care physicians by the year 2025.
Please note that the statistic I just mentioned is just for primary care physicians. Overall, the American Association of Medical Colleges has projected that we will experience a shortage of more than 150,000 doctors over the next 15 years.
And all of the numbers above assume that we will not see mass doctor retirements due to Obamacare.
Unfortunately, a whole host of polls and surveys of doctors in recent years indicate that is exactly what we might end up seeing. One of these surveys was discussed in a recent Washington Times article…
A Physicians Foundation biennial survey of 13,000 doctors found that 60 percent would choose to retire today if they could. This is up from 45 percent when the survey was done in 2008, two years before the law was enacted.
At the moment, there are about 960,000 doctors in the United States.
So what would happen if 200,000 of them suddenly decided to leave the medical profession?
That is a frightening thing to think about.
And a lot of doctors are also indicating that they have absolutely no plans to take any Obamacare patients. For instance, a recent survey of New York doctors found that those that are currently signing up for Obamacare may have a very, very hard time finding doctor…
New York doctors are treating ObamaCare like the plague, a new survey reveals.
A poll conducted by the New York State Medical Society finds that 44 percent of MDs said they are not participating in the nation’s new health-care plan.
Another 33 percent say they’re still not sure whether to become ObamaCare providers.
Only 23 percent of the 409 physicians queried said they’re taking patients who signed up through health exchanges.
We are entering a time when the U.S. medical industry is experiencing a massive transition. Gone are the days of the friendly family doctor that would care for you and your children from the cradle to the grave. Those old school physicians are slowly but surely leaving the profession. One notable example of this was recently chronicled by the Chicago Tribune…
It’s not often that a doctor attracts national attention for charging too little. But that is exactly what happened to one small-town Illinois physician who is hanging up his stethoscope after almost 60 years of practicing medicine.
Against the contentious debate over health care reform, Dr. Russell Dohner achieved notoriety for charging just $5 per office visit — a fee that’s remained unchanged since the 1970s and is roughly the equivalent of a large latte today.
Once upon a time, doctors and patients enjoyed a very special relationship in this country.
But now that has all changed. Today, the federal government, state governments, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, health administrators and a whole host of others have gotten between doctor and patient, and it is ruining the industry.
So what is the solution?
How will America deal with the coming doctor shortage?
Well, apparently Obama thinks that making Americans pay much more for health coverage will work. After all, if our out-of-pocket costs go up, won’t we be less likely to seek medical help?
One 60-year-old registered nurse that has been fighting cancer for six years was absolutely horrified when she learned that her current policy was being canceled and that she would be forced to purchase a much more expensive one…
I’m a 60-year-old registered nurse with an individual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BC/BS) PPO policy. I have been battling cancer for 6 years. I recently received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield stating that my existing policy is being canceled as of Dec. 31 because it doesn’t cover certain benefits required under Obamacare. I was devastated. Next, I was bewildered as I was told repeatedly by President Obama that I COULD KEEP MY POLICY! What happened to that promise? In addition, I’ve been with the same plan for over 6 years. Why shouldn’t I be “grandfathered?”
It turns out that her out-of-pocket costs for health care are going to be going up somewhere between $4,500-$6,500 per year…
After a sleepless night, I learned that I could choose from a Gold, Silver, or Bronze plan (HMO or PPO) being offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. As my doctor doesn’t accept HMO plans, my best choice would probably be the Bronze or Gold PPO. However, my premiums and out-of-pocket costs are INCREASING $4,500-$6,500 per year. What happened to saving $2,500 per year as purported by the current administration? Also, these rates include a 10-percent federal tax … so much for “no new taxes!”
And a lot of other Americans are discovering that the high deductibles under Obamacare are going to make going to the doctor an extremely expensive proposition. The following is from a recent American Thinker article…
In a recent conversation, a good buddy enraged by his new private insurance premiums and $5,800-per-year deductible said something that struck me as undoubtedly prophetic.
“I’d literally need to be dying before I would start paying this ridiculous deductible for routine care.”
Under ObamaCare, those who work for a living incur massive premium and deductible increases to subsidize those that cannot or will not provide their own insurance. In the universe of ObamaCare, unless you are among the privileged dependency class that enjoys free health care, gone are the days when cautionary calls can be made to the doctor because a child has a stomachache or bad cough, because such calls will cost you five hundred bucks or so.
So maybe we won’t have such a huge doctor shortage after all since most Americans won’t be able to afford to go see a doctor anyway.
And the number of Americans going out of the country for medical care will certainly increase as well. According to Deloitte Consulting, a whopping 875,000 Americans were “medical tourists” in 2010. As Obamacare is fully implemented, it is inevitable that we will see that number soar well over a million.
Is this how we will get back to equilibrium? By making health care so expensive that nobody can even afford it?
This article first appeared here at the The American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.
Image credit: http://endoftheamericandream.com
Ron Paul: Obamacare ‘A Conspiracy Of Stupidity’
Dr. Paul isn’t the only medical doctor who is completely fed up with medical central planning. I’ve talked with a few and each one is deeply concerned about how it will impact care.
Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
Ignored Reality Is Going To Wipe Out The Human Race
To inform people is hard slugging. Everything is lined up against the public being informed, or the policymakers for that matter. News is contaminated by its service to special interests and hidden agendas. Many scientists or their employers are dependent on federal money. Even psychologists and anthropologists were roped into the government’s torture and occupation programs. Economists tell lies for corporations and Wall Street. Plant and soil scientists tell lies for agribusiness and Monsanto. Truth tellers are slandered and persecuted. However, persistence can eventually win out. In the long-run, truth sometimes emerges. But not always. And not always in time.
I have been trying to inform the American people, economists, and policymakers for more than a decade about the adverse impacts of jobs offshoring on the US economy. The word has eventually gotten out. Last week I was contacted by 8th grade students competing for their school in CSPAN’s StudentCam Documentary Contest. They want to interview me on the subject of jobs offshoring for their documentary film.
America is a strange place. Here are eighth graders far ahead of the economics profession, the President, the Congress, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, and the financial press in their understanding of one of the fundamental problems of the US economy. Yet, people say the public schools are failing. Obviously, not the one whose students contacted me.
Is it too late? I know much, but not all. So this is not the final word. I think it might be too late. When skilled jobs are sent abroad, the skills disappear at home. So do the supply chains and the businesses associated with the skills. Things close down, and abilities are lost. Why take a major in college for a job that is offshored. A culture disappears.
But we can start them back up, right? Perhaps not. When a First World country exports its technology and know-how abroad to a Third World country in order to benefit from lower cost labor, how does the First World country get the work back? Living standards and the cost of living in Third World countries are much lower than in First World countries. The populations of First World countries cannot pay their mortgages, car payments, student loans, medical care, and grocery bills with the wages of Third World countries.
When First World wages drop, mortgage, car, credit card, and student loan payments do not drop. Americans cannot live on Chinese, Indian, and Indonesian wages. Once the technology and know-how is transferred, the low wage country has the advantage in the absence of tariff protection.
For America to revive, our economy would have to be walled off with high tariffs, and subsidies would have to be provided in order to recreate US industry and manufacturing. But many corporations now produce offshore, and America is broke. The government has been $1 trillion dollars in the hole each year for the last 5 years.
Jobs offshoring diminished the US tax base. When a job is sent abroad, so is that job’s contribution to US GDP and tax base. When millions of jobs are sent abroad, US GDP and tax base cannot support government spending levels. To the extent that there are any replacement jobs, they are in lowly paid domestic services, such as waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and hospital orderlies. These jobs do not provide a tax base or consumer spending power comparable to manufacturing jobs and tradable professional services such as software engineering and information technology.
Republicans and increasingly Democrats, as both parties are dependent on the same sources of campaign contributions, blame “entitlements.” By entitlements they mean welfare.
In fact, entitlements consist of Social Security and Medicare. Entitlements are funded by the payroll tax, approximately 15% of payroll. The fact that a person pays the payroll tax all his working life is why the person is entitled to Social Security and Medicare if they live to retirement age. Welfare, such as food stamps and housing subsidies, are a small part of the federal budget and are not entitlements.
Ever since President Reagan was betrayed three decades ago by Alan Greenspan and David Stockman, both of whom sold out to Wall Street and raised the Social Security payroll tax above what was needed to pay Social Security benefits in order to protect Wall Street’s stock and bond portfolios from exaggerated deficit fears, Social Security payroll tax revenues have exceeded Social Security payments. As of today, Social Security revenues exceed payments to beneficiaries by an accumulated $2 trillion. The money was used by the federal government to pay for its wars and other spending programs. The Social Security Trust Fund holds non-marketable IOUs from the Treasury. These IOUs can only be made good from an excess of tax revenues over expenditures or by the Treasury selling $2 trillion in bonds, notes, and bills and paying off its IOUs to the Social Security Trust Fund. This is not going to happen.
The Federal Reserve could not care less about the US population. The Fed was established for the purpose of protecting and aiding banks. Currently, the Fed, as if America were a Banana Republic which America appears to be becoming, is printing one thousand billion dollars per year in order to support the banks and to finance the federal deficit.
This is bad news for Americans, as it means that their fiat money is being created at a far greater rate than the demand for the dollar. The implication for our future is a drop in the dollar’s value. As there are no jobs, a drop in the dollar’s value means high inflation on top of unemployment and double the misery of the Great Depression.
As bad as this is, it is minor compared to the destruction of the planet’s environment. Online information shows that the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem is in crisis after the BP spill and use of Corexit, a dispersant used to hide, not clean up, the spilled oil. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Gulf-ecosystem-in-crisis-a-by-Dahr-Jamail-Corporation-BP_Ecosystems_Gulf-Oil-Spill-Disaster_Gulf-Shrimping-Industry-131020-15.html
The Fukushima catastrophe has hardly begun. Yet already the radioactive water pouring into the Pacific Ocean has made fish dangerous to eat unless a person is willing to accept a higher risk of cancer.
Fukushima has the potential of making Japan uninhabitable and of polluting the air, water, and soil of the US with radioactivity. Yet the crisis is seldom mentioned in the US media. In Japan the government just passed a law that could be used to imprison Japanese journalists who report truthfully on the dire situation.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the online information about Fukushima.. According to the presstitute media, Americans face threats from Iran and Syria and from whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden. The real threats are simply not in the news.
If you search Fukushima, you will find information that the presstitute media hides from you. See for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/28-signs-that-the-west-coast-is-being-absolutely-fried-with-nuclear-radiation-from-fukushima/5355280
There are a number of other threats to the environment on which our lives depend. One is the effort to extract more productivity from the soil by use of GMOs. Monsanto has altered the genes of several crops so that the crops can be sprayed with RoundUp to eliminate weeds. The results have been to deplete the soil of nutrients, to destroy the micro-biology of the soil so that new plant diseases and funguses are activated, and to produce superweeds that require heavier doses of the glyphosate in RoundUp. The heavier dose of RoundUp worsens the aforementioned problems. US agricultural soil is losing its potency.
Now we come to chemtrails, branded another “conspiracy theory.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemtrail_conspiracy_theory However, the US government’s efforts to geo-engineer weather as a military weapon and as a preventative of global warming appear to be real. The DARPA and HAARP programs are well known and are discussed publicly by scientists. See, for example, http://news.sciencemag.org/2009/03/darpa-explore-geoengineering Search Chemtrails, and you will find much information that is kept from you. See, for example, http://www.globalresearch.ca/chemtrails-a-planetary-catastrophe-created-by-geo-engineering/5355299 and http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org
Some describe chemtrails as a plot by the New World Order, the Rothchilds, the Bilderbergers, or the Masons, to wipe out the “useless eaters.” Given the amount of evil that exists in the world, these conspiracy theories might not be as farfetched as they sound.
However, I do not know that. What does seem to be possibly true is that the scientific experiments to modify and control weather are having adverse real world consequences. The claim that aluminum is being sprayed into the atmosphere and when it comes to earth is destroying the ability of soil to be productive might not be imaginary. Those concerned about chemtrails say that weather control experiments have deprived the western United States of rainfall, while sending the rain to the east where there have been hurricane level deluges and floods.
In the West, sparse rainfall and lightning storms without rain are resulting in forests drying out and burning down. Deforestation adversely affects the environment in many ways, including the process of photosynthesis by which trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The massive loss of forests means more carbon dioxide and less oxygen. Watershed and species habitat are lost, and spreading aridity further depletes ground and surface water. If these results are the consequences of weather modification experiments, the experiments should be stopped.
In North Georgia where I spend some summers, during 2013 it rained for 60 consecutive days, not all day, but every day, and some days the rainfall was 12 inches–hurricane level–and roads were washed out. I received last summer 4 automated telephone warnings from local counties not to drive and not to attempt to drive through accumulations of water on the highways.
One consequence of the excess of water in the East is that this year there are no acorns in North Georgia. Zilch, zero, nada. Nothing. There is no food for the deer, the turkeys, the bear, the rodents. Starving deer will strip bark from the trees. Bears will be unable to hibernate or will be able only to partially hibernate, forced to seek food from garbage. Black bears are already invading homes in search of food.
Unusual drought in the West and unusual flood in the East could be coincidental or they could be consequences of weather modification experiments.
The US, along with most of the world, already had a water problem prior to possible disruptions of rainfall by geo-engineering. In his book, Elixir, Brian Fagan tells the story of humankind’s mostly unsuccessful struggle with water. Both groundwater and surface water are vanishing. The water needs of large cities, such as Los Angeles and Phoenix, and the irrigation farming that depends on the Ogallala aquifer are unsustainable. Fagan reminds us that “the world’s supply of freshwater is finite,” just like the rest of nature’s resources. Avoiding cataclysm requires long-range thinking, but humanity is focused on immediate needs. Long-range thinking is limited to finding another water source to deplete. Cities and agriculture have turned eyes to the Great Lakes.
Los Angeles exists because the city was able to steal water from hundreds of miles away. The city drained Owens Lake, leaving a huge salt flat in its place, drained the Owens Valley aquifer, and diverted the Owens River to LA via aqueduct. Farming and ranching in the Owens Valley collapsed. Today LA takes water from the Colorado River, which originates in Wyoming and Colorado, and from Lake Perris 440 miles away.
Water depletion is not just an American problem. Fagan reports that “underground aquifers in many places are shrinking so rapidly that NASA satellites are detecting changes in the earth’s gravity.”
If the government is experimenting with weather engineering, scientists are playing God when they have no idea of the consequences. It is a tendency of scientists to become absorbed by the ability to experiment and to ignore unintended consequences.
Readers have asked me to write about Fukushima and chemtrails because they trust me to tell them the truth. The problem is that I am not qualified to write about these matters with anything approaching the same confidence that I bring to economic, war and police state matters.
The only advice I can give is that when you hear the presstitute media smear a concern or explanation as “conspiracy theory,” have a closer look. The divergence between what is happening and what you are told is so vast that it pays to be suspicious, cynical even, of what “your” government and “your” presstitute media tell you. The chances are high that it is a lie.
Reprinted with permission from www.paulcraigroberts.org
About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
The Percentage Of Americans That Consider Themselves To Be “Lower Class” Is At An All-Time High
Do you consider yourself to be “lower class”? Most Americans wouldn’t dream of thinking that way. Even at the toughest times of my own life, I always considered myself to be “middle class”. Traditionally, the vast majority of Americans have described themselves as either “middle class” or “working class”, but now we are witnessing a huge shift. According to survey results that were just released, the percentage of Americans that identify themselves as “lower class” is now at an all-time high. It is still only 8.4 percent of the country, but the fact that this number is rapidly growing shows that something is changing on a very fundamental level. In America today, less people than ever believe that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves, and according to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 20 percent of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year. We have 47 million people on food stamps and we have more than 100 million Americans enrolled in at least one welfare program, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare. We have gone from a “land of opportunity” to a land where tens of millions of people are being crushed by the system.
When I mentioned above that “less people then ever believe that they have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves”, perhaps you doubted that statement.
And I wish that it was not true.
But according to the Los Angeles Times, that is exactly what one new survey shows…
Last year, less than 55% of Americans agreed that “people like me and my family have a good chance of improving our standard of living,” the lowest level since the General Social Survey first asked the question in 1987.
And even those that are “educated” are becoming more pessimistic…
From 2002 to 2012, the “lower class” among Americans with one to four years of college more than doubled — from 2.6% to 5.8%.
So what about you?
Would you describe yourself as “lower class”?
Not that there is anything wrong with that. It can be very hard to be optimistic about your economic situation when you are trapped in poverty and everyone around you is trapped in poverty.
Even as Barack Obama boldly proclaims that we are in the midst of an “economic recovery”, poverty continues to grow. In New Jersey, poverty hit a 52-year high in 2011, and when the final numbers for 2012 come out it is anticipated that they will be even worse…
Poverty in New Jersey continued to grow even as the national recession lifted, reaching a 52-year high in 2011, according to a report released today. The annual survey by Legal Services of New Jersey found 24.7 percent of the state’s population — 2.1 million residents — was considered poor in 2011. That’s a jump of more than 80,000 people — nearly 1 percent higher than the previous year and 3.8 percent more than pre-recession levels. ”This is not just a one-year or five-year or 10-year variation,” said Melville D. Miller Jr., the president of LSNJ, which gives free legal help to low-income residents in civil cases. “This is the worst that it’s been since the 1960 Census.” And it may get worse: The report warned Census figures for 2012 to be released this month may be higher.
There are two Americas today. In the “good America”, stock values are soaring and almost everyone has a job. People from that America openly wonder why everyone is so concerned about the economy.
In the “bad America”, unemployment is rampant and poverty is everywhere. At this point, low income households have an unemployment rate that is over 21 percent, and there is not much help on the horizon.
In the old days, if the wealthy wanted to get wealthier, they needed the rest of us to run their businesses and work in their factories.
But today, they have figured out that they can make much larger profits by replacing us with computers, robots and machines. They have also figured out that they can ship millions of our jobs to the other side of the planet where it is legal to pay slave labor wages with no benefits.
This is putting a huge squeeze on average American workers. For most Americans, the only thing that they have to offer in the marketplace is their labor. Unfortunately, that labor is not valued as much as it used to be.
Yes, the elite still need us to do service jobs for them. Those are not easily replaced by technology or shipped overseas. So they still need us to cut their hair and flip their burgers.
But without a doubt we have a structural problem with unemployment. As the Brookings Institution recently discovered, it would take 8 million more jobs before we could say that we have “recovered” from the last recession…
Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 7.3% from 8.1% a year ago. That might signal progress, but the share of workers with jobs was 58.6%; it has remained close to that for several years. The unemployment rate is inherently flawed and isn’t the best measure of economic progress; it counts only those with jobs or actively looking for work.
And in a frustratingly slow economic recovery that has discouraged countless workers, it risks ignoring these missing workers — an estimated 6 million, according to the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.
The Washington-based think tank has come up with what it calls the “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs it would take to offset the effects of the Great Recession. Factoring in the millions of jobs lost during the Great Recession and the number of jobs needed to absorb new workers, the nation needs 8.3 million jobs to fully recover from the recession.
Unfortunately, thanks to Obamacare this trend is going to get a lot worse. Millions more Americans are going to be forced into part-time employment. For example, just check out what Trader Joe’s is doing…
Trader Joe’s, the grocer once lauded for providing health care coverage to its part-time workers, is about to push those employees off its plan.
According to a memo obtained by the Huffington Post, the company will stop covering employees who work less than 30 hours per week.
The change is set for the start of 2014. Instead of insurance, workers instead will get a check for $500 in January.
“Depending on income you may earn outside of Trader Joe’s, we believe that with the $500 from Trader Joe’s and the tax credits available under the [Affordable Care Act (ACA)], many of you should be able to obtain health care coverage at very little if any net cost to you,” said Trader Joe CEO Dan Bane in the memo.
I wish that there was better news to report, but we have to be very honest about where we are at as a nation.
In order for there to be a thriving “middle class”, there needs to be lots of middle class jobs.
Sadly, the number of breadwinner jobs that the middle class depends upon is shrinking.
Unless a miracle happens, the percentage of Americans that consider themselves to be “lower class” is probably going to continue to grow.
So how would you solve this problem?
Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com
Where does your tax dollar go? (An infographic)
Watch the “net interest” percentage going forward as interest rates rise. That’s going to put a cramp in our lifestyle.
Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org
[ CIM: Interesting story from Michael, as always, but rather timely for me as I wait for the bills to roll in from a very recent surgery. Wanted to share this before it slid into the archives and off of my radar. Image added to original post. ]
How a $1 Bag of Salt Water Becomes a $546 Bill at Hospitals
Much like every other aspect of the U.S. ponzi economy, the healthcare system is one gigantic centralized oligopolistic racket. The New York Times has done some excellent coverage on this topic as of late, most recently in an article I highlighted earlier this month about how Americans are now finding themselves forced to travel overseas for surgery.
That article demonstrated how the medical industry is simply one huge convoluted racket, in which contracts are secret and no one has any clue about anything except for a small group of players involved. In fact, it reminds me of an incredible article from 1982 that explains how diamonds are actually basically worthless, and that the whole market is a gigantic con. You take something that is essentially free, and then charge a fortune for it through middleman markups.
And don’t think Obamacare is going to help you either, we all know it was written by lobbyists and special interests, just like every other piece of legislation from crony Congress. From the New York Times:
It is one of the most common components of emergency medicine: an intravenous bag of sterile saltwater.
Luckily for anyone who has ever needed an IV bag to replenish lost fluids or to receive medication, it is also one of the least expensive. The average manufacturer’s price, according to government data, has fluctuated in recent years from 44 cents to $1.
Yet there is nothing either cheap or simple about its ultimate cost, as I learned when I tried to trace the commercial path of IV bags from the factory to the veins of more than 100 patients struck by a May 2012 outbreak of food poisoning in upstate New York.
Some of the patients’ bills would later include markups of 100 to 200 times the manufacturer’s price, not counting separate charges for “IV administration.” And on other bills, a bundled charge for “IV therapy” was almost 1,000 times the official cost of the solution.
It is no secret that medical care in the United States is overpriced. But as the tale of the humble IV bag shows all too clearly, it is secrecy that helps keep prices high: hidden in the underbrush of transactions among multiple buyers and sellers, and in the hieroglyphics of hospital bills.
At every step from manufacturer to patient, there are confidential deals among the major players, including drug companies, purchasing organizations and distributors, and insurers. These deals so obscure prices and profits that even participants cannot say what the simplest component of care actually costs, let alone what it should cost.
And that leaves taxpayers and patients alike with an inflated bottom line and little or no way to challenge it.
But even before the finished product is sold by the case or the truckload, the real cost of a bag of normal saline, like the true cost of medical supplies from gauze to heart implants, disappears into an opaque realm of byzantine contracts, confidential rebates and fees that would be considered illegal kickbacks in many other industries.
The top three group-purchasing organizations now handle contracts for more than half of all institutional medical supplies sold in the United States, including the IVs used in the food-poisoning case, which were bought and taken by truck to regional warehouses by big distributors.
Dr. Frost, the anesthesiologist, spent three days in the same hospital and owed only $8, thanks to insurance coverage by United HealthCare. Still, she was baffled by the charges: $6,844, including $546 for six liters of saline that cost the hospital $5.16.
“It’s just absolutely absurd.” she said. “That’s saltwater.”
Last fall, I appealed to the New York State Department of Health for help in mapping the charges for rehydrating patients in the food poisoning episode. Deploying software normally used to detect Medicaid fraud, a team compiled a chart of what Medicaid and Medicare were billed in six of the cases.
But the department has yet to release the chart. It is under indefinite review, Bill Schwarz, a department spokesman, said, “to ensure confidential information is not compromised.”
It’s under indefinite review. Just like your freedom.
Full article here.
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Why You Should Care About the Drugs Your Doctor Prescribes
This article was co-published in the Op-Ed pages of the Los Angeles Times.
Your doctor hands you a prescription for a blood pressure drug. But is it the right one for you?
You’re searching for a new primary care physician or a specialist. Is there a way you can know whether the doctor is more partial to expensive, brand-name drugs than his peers?
Or say you’ve got to find a nursing home for a loved one. Wouldn’t you want to know if the staff doctor regularly prescribes drugs known to be risky for seniors or overuses psychiatric drugs to sedate residents?
For most of us, evaluating a doctor’s prescribing habits is just about impossible. Even doctors themselves have little way of knowing whether their drug choices fall in line with those of their peers.
Once they graduate from medical schools, physicians often have a tough time keeping up with the latest clinical trials and sorting through the hype on new drugs. Seldom are they monitored to see if they are prescribing appropriately — and there isn’t even universal agreement on what good prescribing is.
This dearth of knowledge and insight matters for both patients and doctors. Drugs are complicated. Most come with side effects and risk-benefit calculations. What may work for one person may be absolutely inappropriate, or even harmful, for someone else.
Antipsychotics, for example, are invaluable to treat severe psychiatric conditions. But they are too often used to sedate older patients suffering from dementia — despite a “black-box” warning accompanying the drugs that they increase the risk of death in such patients.
The American Geriatrics Society has labeled dozens of other drugs risky for elderly patients, too, because they increase the risk of dizziness, fainting and falling among other things. In most cases, safer alternatives exist. Yet the more dangerous drugs continue to be prescribed to millions of older patients.
And, as has been well-documented by the Los Angeles Times and others, powerful painkillers are often misused and overprescribed – with sometimes deadly consequences.
As reporters who have long investigated health care and exposed frightening variations in quality, we wondered why so much secrecy shrouds the prescribing habits of doctors.
The information certainly isn’t secret to drug companies. They spend millions of dollars buying prescription records from companies that purchase them from pharmacies. The drugmakers then use the data to target their pitches and measure success.
But when we tried to purchase the records from the companies that supply them to drug manufacturers, we were told we couldn’t have them — at any price.
We next turned to Medicare, a public program that provides drug coverage to 32 million seniors and the disabled and accounts for one out of every four prescriptions written annually.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for prescribing data. After months of negotiation with officials, we were given a list of the drugs prescribed by every health professional to enrollees in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D.
What we found was disturbing. Although we didn’t have access to patient names or medical records, it was clear that hundreds of physicians across the country were prescribing large numbers of dangerous, inappropriate or unnecessary drugs. And Medicare had done little, if anything, about it.
One Miami psychiatrist, for example, wrote 8,900 prescriptions in 2010 for powerful antipsychotics to patients older than 65, including many with dementia. The doctor said in an interview that he’d never been contacted by Medicare.
A rural Oklahoma doctor regularly prescribed the Alzheimer’s drug Namenda for patients under 65 who did not have the disease. He told us it was because the drug helped calm the symptoms of autism and other developmental disabilities, but there is scant scientific support for this practice.
Among the top prescribers of the most-abused painkillers, we found many who had been charged with crimes, convicted, disciplined by their state medical boards or terminated from state Medicaid programs for the poor. But nearly all remained eligible to prescribe to Medicare patients.
If you or a loved one were a patient of one of these doctors, wouldn’t you want to know this?
We have now taken the data and put it into an online database that allows anyone to look up a doctor’s prescribing patterns and see how they compare with those of other doctors.
This information is just a start. It can’t tell you if your doctor is doing something wrong, but it can give information that allows you to ask important questions.
For instance, why is your doctor choosing a drug that his peers seldom do? Does your doctor favor expensive brand-name drugs when cheaper generics are available? Has your doctor been paid to give promotional talks for drug makers?
And we’d like to see the day when all prescribing by all health professionals – not just in Medicare – is a matter of public record.
It’s not only patients who benefit when medicine is more transparent. Doctors too can gain by comparing themselves to their peers and to those they admire. Clinics can see how their staffs stack up. And researchers can track patterns and examine why doctors prescribe the way they do.
One doctor told us that after studying our online database, he cornered his colleagues and peppered them with questions about their prescribing. Most, he said, were surprised when he told them their drug tallies.
Many aspects of doctors’ practices remain private. The number of tests they order and procedures they perform. The number of times they make mistakes. These data could help inform the public, too.
In the meantime, arming yourself with prescribing information allows you to be more active in your health care or that of an aging or disabled loved one.
Posted by Judy Morris
America Already Has Socialized Medicine – A Trillion for Medicare & Medicaid and Another Trillion for Obamacare Subsidies
America already has socialized medicine and Medicare and Medicaid now cover the heathcare costs of nearly 60% of Americans to the tune of a trillion bucks a year. Under Obamacare, direct insurance company subsidies are estimated to cost another trillion. By the time Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies kick in, it’s doubtful that there will be many left in America who won’t have heavily subsidized or totally cost free healthcare.
Medicare and Medicaid Entitlements
USA Today reported that Medicare and Medicaid costs were $992 billion in 2010 and expected to grow by $90 billion in 2011, here.
Medicare and Medicaid spending rose 10% in the second quarter from a year earlier to a combined annual rate of almost $992 billion, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The two programs are on track to rise $90 billion in 2011 and crack the $1 trillion milestone for the first time.
The jump in health care spending is the biggest since the Medicare prescription drug benefit was added five years ago and ends a brief lull in the spending increases that occurred during the economic downturn…..
Medicare and Medicaid paid a record 57.5% of patient bills for hospital, doctors, drugs and other care in the last quarter, up from 49.3% in 2005.
Both Medicare and Medicaid are expected to grow significantly. Forbes reports that there are already 50 million folks enrolled in Medicaid. They pay nothing and get free medical care. The Kaiser Family foundation reports that there are currently over 49 million folks enrolled in Medicare, here. Obamacare is expected to increase Medicaid enrollees by 20 million, here.
Expanding Medicaid, which is funded jointly by states and the federal government, is a key part of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. And though the U.S. Supreme Court last year largely upheld the law, it did allow state governors to opt out of expanding Medicaid coverage to more Americans.
Still, the Medicaid expansion should bring 5 million Americans into the expanded Medicaid coverage next year and eventually up to 10 million more newly insured Americans by 2017, Avalere’s Stento said. Before the Supreme Court ruling, Avalere projected there would be 11 million new Medicaid enrollees in 2014 “with that phasing up to 20 million by 2017 and 21 million by 2019,” Avalere said.
Already, there are about 50 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid health insurance for the poor or affiliated health coverage programs like the State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP).
Although Medicaid was originally sold to the states as a federally funded entitlement and revenue generator for the states, eventually the cost of the program was approximately split between the states and federal government at about 50:50. Medicaid is a huge tax burden on the states. Similarly, Obamacare has also been sold to the states as revenue generators because the states “agreeing to go along with the Medicaid expansion are taking advantage of a cash infusion of more than $900 billion in federal dollars from 2014 to 2022 under the health law.” according to the above referenced Forbes article.
Medicaid and Medicare costs do not include the cost of subsidized Obamacare plans, although the expansion of Medicaid is part of Obamacare. Who is eligible for Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, eligibility depends on family income and dependents.
Beginning in October 2013, middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through state-based exchanges.
Additionally, states have the option to expand their Medicaid programs to cover all people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level (which is about $33,000 for a family of four). In states that opt out of expanding Medicaid, some people making below this amount will still be eligible for Medicaid, some will be eligible for subsidized coverage through Marketplaces, and others will not be eligible for subsidies.
Like any federal program, subsidies and eligibility are complicated formulas. How much will Obamacare subsidies cost?