saving medicare, india travelers wallpaper, street photographer vivian maier

How Can We Save Medicare, Offer it to Everyone

Research by respected nationally renowned economist Dean Baker shows that the federal government and Medicare beneficiaries would save $600 billion dollars between 2006 and 2013 if Medicare were allowed to directly negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

One study by Families USA found that the Veterans Administration was able to negotiate substantially lower prices for the top 20 drugs used by seniors, compared to private Medicare part D plans.

It would only make sense for there to be bipartisan support for Medicare to be able to use the full faith and credit of the federal government and be able to negotiate down the rising costs of prescription drugs.

According to Forbes magazine, hospital charges represent about one third of total healthcare spending — $718 billion altogether. Twenty four hospitals in this country with over 200 beds make an operating margin of 25 percent or more — a profit margin that compares favorably to drug giants like Pfizer, and easily beats the operating profit margin that General Electric reported in 2009.

We can no longer continue to have America’s hospitals make these kinds of large profit margins, when the health of our senior citizens and the fiscal health of our nation are at stake. It will take much needed political courage to address the root causes of rising Medicare costs — a Wall Street-dominated healthcare system.

America must transition to a non-profit improved Medicare-For-All program, if we are to have any chance of realistically containing over-all healthcare costs. That’ s why I have reintroduced H.R. 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, that would provide for a single-payer healthcare system, providing all Americans with healthcare coverage.

Strangely Politifact says that Ryan’s plan does not destroy Medicare. Which is a lot like saying that someone stole your wheels and engine, but you still have a perfectly good car left. Go ahead try taking your shell for a drive. Letting everyone opt into Medicare would still leave a private insurance industry. They could compete with Medicare, which might also help with health care cost inflation – in the future no one will be able to get sick or grow old at current rates. The private sector could also sell supplemental insurance and gold-plated policies that pay for extras like private rooms. Even though Congressman Conyers has introduced the Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act that does not mean it will get a serious debate. Congress and the media have already declared that the sanest budget proposal out there – The People’s Budget – is dead on arrival. Even though that bill too is exceptionally sane. We ‘re just not doing sane in America anymore.

collage of vivian maier photographs

While the full size collage is better it still does not do her photographs justice. A good write up about Maier at Motherjones, The Best Street Photographer You’ve Never Heard Of – Vivian Maier/John Maloof Collection

Maloof learned that Vivian Maier had made her living as a nanny, first in New York City, then from the late 1950s until the late 1990s for well-to-do families in the Chicago area. A writer for Chicago magazine contacted some of the children she cared for, and it became clear that no one knew the extent of her photography. Her former charges—all now adults—recounted with great affection how she’d take them on outings to the city, always carrying her Rolleiflex. She had little patience for those who put on airs—and she did little to call attention to herself. Everyday dresses. Small-brimmed hats. In one self-portrait, she’s looking away from the camera, awkward and uncomfortable. In another, much of her face is hidden by a shadow. She was a loner of sorts. She never married. Families she lived with have said they couldn’t recall her ever receiving a personal phone call. All of which is somewhat astonishing, given the incredible intimacy of her photographs.

John Maloof, Maier’s discoverer if you will, has created a website for her – Vivian and there are some more of her work here, Archive for: Vivian Maier. Maloof is said to have about 90,000 negative prints he has not gotten around to developing.

india travelers wallpaper

This week in the War on Women

Speaking of people who are still assholes, remember Carl Wimmer, the Utah legislator who tried to criminalize miscarriages? He’s baaaaaaaaack:

A state lawmaker is opening a bill file to keep federal officials from routing money to Planned Parenthood through Utah state agencies. But his opponents say the measure could cause serious harm.

Agencies like the Utah Department of Health are given federal money designated to go to Planned Parenthood. Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, says that’s what his bill is trying to stop.

Of course, cutting off federal funds to the state agencies won’t cut off federal funding of abortion because—say it with me now—federal funding of abortion is already prohibited. But Carl’s latest brainstorm will cut off funding for abstinence programs, rape prevention, and a lab that tests for chlamydia. Way to go, Carl.

What kind of mentality or personal derangement are we dealing with here. Do a Google search for AIDS+deserve to die or women who get abortions+deserve to die. Many Conservatives and al Qaeda share a deep set of mutual convictions, that people who have sex should be punished. People should show good judgment about sex – with who, when, using protection and so forth. Should they be held to a death penalty, bad health penalty  or misery penalty for having sex? That seems excessive and counter to what we know about a few million years of human behavior. Maybe conservatives see education as just too cumbersome – they have been at war against education for as long as I remember – 43 education programs Republicans want to eliminate. Thus their laziness leads to quick and cruel remedies.