Saturday, July 21, 2007

The American Health Insurance Scam

The current system is not a free market; it is a set of government rigged rules that ensure that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries prosper, and that tens of millions of people go without access to care - Dean Baker (DOB 7/13/1958) co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and author of "The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer".

Following is an excerpt from the 6/14/2007 broadcast of The Thom Hartmann Show. Thom Hartman interviews John Edwards regarding his proposed health care plan (edited for brevity and clarity)...

Thom Hartmann: Specifically, what are the things you're suggesting we do? (to bring down the costs associated with health care.)

John Edwards: Well, in the case of insurance companies, we want to create competition that doesn't exist today, between the insurance companies that are in these "health markets" that I'm going to set up with my health care plan. ... Everybody will be covered under either a private or public plan. People can choose the government plan if they want to. That creates a competition that doesn't exist today. Secondly, because insurance companies are spending 30-40 percent of every dollar on administrative costs and profits, we mandate a minimum of 85 percent of each dollar has to go towards patient care.

Thom Hartmann: That seems like an incredibly important thing. I was staggered last fall when the wall street journal revealed that William McGuire, the CEO of United Health Group - the second largest health insurance company in the United States, took home 1.6 billion (see update below) ... His company's stock price tripled from January 2003 to January 2006. Net income in 2005 of 3.3 billion - and this is a company that is basically just moving money - moving paper around.

John Edwards: That's exactly right. It's terrible that we have 45 million people without coverage - that's a moral issue - but on top of that the costs are just staggering. We desperately need a president who will take these insurance companies on. They don't need to make that kind of money. ... You can count on the fact that there's going to be millions of dollars spent on television ads fighting what we're trying to do. What you should ask yourself, when you see one of these ads, is "who's paying for it?". It's either a big drug company, or a big insurance company. It's the people who are charging you so much money that you can't continue to pay for your health care.

Thom Hartmann: Senator Edwards, tell us a little more about the Medicare Plus part of this plan, please.

John Edwards: There are a lot of people who believe that we should go from the system we have now to a single payer system. An entirely government run health care system. There's a lot to be said for single payer - it's administrative costs are much lower, they're more efficient, and - certainly in some places - the care is better... but we live in a country where people are used to having choices, and my concern was that jump was to much, to fast. We need to do something big, something bold, cover everybody, real universality ... but we wanted people to have a choice between a private or a government plan. The reason for me setting it up that way is because I think people will choose to go to the government plan. The net result will be to drive the system to a single payer system.

My Commentary: Obviously insurance companies will, by and large, be unable to compete, and will be driven out of business. Fantastic. There is absolutely no reason why the American people should continue to tolerate these leeches which drain away 30 to 40 percent of every health care dollar when the government can do the same job for 3-5 percent.

Seeing as, according to Mother Jones Magazine, 76 percent of Americans agree that access to health care should be a right and should be provided equally to everyone (according to a 2004 survey), the only question is will our elected officials give us what we want, or will they bow to the wishes of their corporate masters?

Meidcare for all would save an estimated $300 billion dollars. Even though millions of us have no health coverage at all, we spend almost twice as much as the other countries that do a better job of covering everyone. We waste hundreds of billions on insurance companies which do not provide any health care. In fact, one third of that money is wasted on company salaries, stock holder profits, lobbying and marketing. The only way to pay for all of us is to remove the useless waste and profits of the insurance companies.

Update, 7/23/2007: Regarding the 1.6 billion United Health Group CEO William McGuire "took home" - Mr. McGuire's stock options are currently frozen due to ongoing litigation. It seems that the Public Employees' Retirement System of Ohio (PERS) and the State Teachers' Retirement System of Ohio (STRS), who own a combined 5.6 million in UHG common stock, are claiming that the value of their stock declined due to "the options backdating scandal in which the UHG board cavalierly abdicated its oversight responsibilities and improperly allowed McGuire to set his own compensation". (Attorney General Marc Dann questions UnitedHealth Group review panel. 2/7/2007)

Further Reading
[1] Facts about Universal Health Care and Single Payer Health Care for
[2] Sicko Factual Backup From
[3] Sicko Proves our Health Care Approach is Working by Janet Bagnall, Montreal Gazette. 7/15/2007
[4] Fixing Health Care: Not Government vs. Market by Dean Baker, 7/10/2007.
[5] United Health sued for racketeering posted by nyceve, The Daily Kos. 2/15/2007.
[6] Edwards Details His Health Care Proposal by John M. Broder, The New York Times. 2/6/2007.
[7] Health Care Administrative Costs: Canada vs. USA From Healthfacts. 10/2003.
[8] The Case For Single Payer, Universal Health Care For The United States (Universal Health Care Myths Debunked) by John R. Battista, M.D. and Justine McCabe, Ph.D. 6/4/1999.

SWTD #12

Friday, July 20, 2007

John Edwards for President

If you look at the history of endorsements in this campaign, they haven't had a lot of sway with voters, which is understandable... voters make their own decisions in presidential campaigns -- John Edwards (DOB 6/10/1953).

Sleeping with the Devil officially endorses John Edwards for President, 2008. Hopefully the resulting bump in the polls with propel Edwards past Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

From the John Edwards for President Official Website...

John Edwards' Plan To Build One America

In America, everyone should have a fair opportunity to realize their dreams, no matter where they came from. John Edwards is running for president to build One America where every American can work hard and build a better life, the same opportunity that Edwards had. At the same time, America's leadership role in the world has grown out of our moral strength as an example for the world, not just our economic and military strength.

In today's Two Americas, it is no coincidence that most families are working harder for stagnating wages when there are nearly 60 lobbyists for every member of Congress. America's image overseas has been tarnished by the war in Iraq, our refusal to join the world in working to halt global warming, and repeated violations of Americans' constitutional rights.

Building One America will take strong, bold steps, not incremental steps and half measures. Edwards has proposed detailed plans to put Washington back on the side of regular families. (John Edwards 08: Issues)

Also, see this same page for in-depth coverage concerning John's plans regarding healthcare, poverty, rural america, tax simplification, working families, predatory mortgages, debt and savings and food saftey.

Personally, I think he has the best plan for getting us back on track after the disastrous and corrupt bush administration. In particular I admire his focus on eliminating poverty in the US. Also, I think his national health care plan, which we desperately need, is the most pratical.

SWTD #11

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Scooter Rewarded for His Silence Re bush Treason

The President of the United States has the unrestrained power of granting pardons for treason, which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the crime, and thereby prevent a discovery of his own guilt ~ George Mason, 1787 (12/11/1725 to 10/7/1792) was a United States patriot, statesman, and delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention. He is called the "Father of the Bill of Rights". For all of these reasons he is considered to be one of the "Founding Fathers" of the United States.

An Excerpt from the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, 7/5/2007 (edited for brevity and clarity).

Thom Hartmann: In my opinion this is the real issue behind the Scooter Libby case - the real issue is not being discussed in the mainstream media, and frankly is not even being much discussed in the blogosphere. This is the real issue. ... I find it very very curious that in the first week of February of this year Dick Cheney went on Wolf Blitzer's show and said, "I can't talk about the Scooter Libby Trial because I'm going to be subpoenaed to testify". Scooter Libby's lawyers had subpoenaed Karl Rove. ... They brought into evidence a memo in which Dick Cheney said, "The president has asked this guy to do this".

In other words pointing out that basically the defense was that Scooter was a small cog in a large machine that was being run by George bush and Dick Cheney to out a CIA agent for revenge. And then all of a sudden on February 14th Scooter Libby decided to roll over. He is not going to present a defense, he's not going to call any witnesses, he's not going to subpoena Dick Cheney, he's not going to subpoena Karl Rove, he's smiling a lot... and he knows he's going to be convicted now. Why?

I'm suggesting that another crime was committed. The first crime was bush's lie in the State of the Union address - knowingly lying to us to get us into a war. There was the second crime of them trying to destroy Joe Wilson's Wife, and also put the fear of God into anyone at the CIA who might try to tell the truth about the lies that bush was telling.

That crime, which was a cover-up of the first crime was also treasonous. And now here, I am submitting to you, is the third crime, and that is that someone from the office of the president, or the vice president, or both, went to Scooter Libby - probably in the first or second week of February of this year - and said, "Stop your defense. Stop defending yourself in court. Don't worry. Stop your defense, you will be convicted. We will set aside any jail time, and when bush leaves office in January of 2009 he will pardon you on the way out - the conviction will be removed from your record".

This, in my opinion, is the third impeachable offense. The third felony committed by bush and Cheney. When you look back at the Watergate proceedings, Richard Nixon tried to stop judicial inquiries into his own crimes. Congress investigated - and the press investigated as well - and discovered that Nixon was part of a criminal conspiracy based in the White House.

This from the articles of impeachment, "Richard Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation. He made false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States.

Withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States; approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counselling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings; interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations; and making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States".

And finally, and this is the kicker - this is from the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, "endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony". That's what Richard Nixon was impeached for. I believe, this week, that's what we saw George W. bush do.

My Commentary: Well said Mr. Hartmann. I am in 100 percent agreement with your analysis.

Further Reading
[1] The Libby Commutation: Coincidence, or Conspiracy? by Thom Hartmann, Common Dreams. 7/5/2007.
[2] Gore: Libby Had 'Knowledge That Could Incriminate His Bosses In The White House'. Posted by Nico, Think Progress. 7/5/2007.

SWTD #10