The United States is the only industrialized nation that allows for-profit corporations to offer primary care health-care insurance. Other developed countries consider health care an absolute right, not a privilege as in the U.S.
T.R. Reid in his 2008 documentary film “Sick Around the World.”
All the fuss and furor over the Affordable Care Act is a waste of money and time. Moreover, it causes confusion and frustration.
The solution is easy if Congress has the guts to enact it: federal single-payer health care. It would take the profit out of something essential for America.
Figures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that the CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, reaped a $27.9 million salary last year. He garnered $24.8 million of that in stock options.
In 2014, UnitedHealthcare CEO Stephen Hemsley made $66 million in salary. He gained $45.5 of that in stock options.
Those salaries are criminal.
As an online Internet op-edit phrased it: “while CEOs get tremendous salaries, consumers get stiffed by inflated insurance rates.”
“In contrast, last year the administrative overhead for Medicare was just 2 percent of the program’s operating costs,” The Daily Take Team in the Thom Hartmann Program editorialized. “And nobody working for Medicare becomes a millionaire.”
The area where Obamacare has been most successful is among the poor and minorities.
Economist David Cutler told the New York Times: “The law has reduced inequality, particularly among people who tend to blend into the background of the economy. These people are cleaning hotel rooms and making sandwiches in stores and restaurants.”
It certainly helps that 20 million Americans have insurance under Obamacare.
A Times analysis reported: “The law has reduced inequality, particularly among part-time workers who gained insurance at a higher rate than full-time workers. People with high school degrees gained at a higher rate too.”
Communities report big gains under Obamacare. A federally-funded health clinic in South Los Angeles enrolled 18,000 new patients, had a 44 percent increase in cervical-cancer screenings and a showed a 25 percent increase in stop-smoking therapy.
On the down side, many Southern states have refused federal funds to expand Medicare while passing oppressive health-care laws such as anti-abortion and anti-abortion clinics.
The U.S government invests $32 billion a year in drug and biomedical research to make drugs affordable. In return, “drug companies price critical drugs at staggeringly high prices,” Peter Arno points outs in an article.
“Yet the government never uses its authority under the 1980 Bayh-Hatch Act to require reasonable prices for drugs developed with public funds,” Arno adds.
Birch Bayh, former Democratic senator from Indiana, said when introducing the bill that the goal was for the U.S. “to use for the public good inventions arising out of research the government helps support.”
Unfortunately, the government badly misconstrues the Bayh-Hatch law requiring “reasonable terms.” It blindly refuses to have that mean “reasonable prices.”
Both Democratic and Republican administrations for 30 years have refused to enforce this provision of the law.
Arno concluded: “Counting on the lack of government interest in enforcement, many companies have been cavalier about setting prices—to say the least.”
‘MARRIED TO ADVENTURE’
An exhibit of photographs from the travels of Martin and Osa Johnson at the Wilbur May Museum in Rancho San Rafael is a must-see. But hurray! The last day of the exhibit is Sunday.
The Johnsons were filmmakers, photographers and explorers. They brought the excitement and fascination of “darkest Africa” to millions of Americans in the 1920s to 1940s.
About 100 reproductions of the original Johnson photographs, movie posters and artifacts from their Safari Museum in Chanute, Kansas, are exhibited.
It’s an excellent exhibit that must have been awfully costly with room after room filled with photos:
Pictures of lions, elephants, zebras, rhinos, giraffes, leopards and camels. Photos of pygmies smoking cigars. Pictures of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. A rare proboscis monkey from Borneo is pictured. A huge wall photo is displayed of Lake Paradise in Kenya. There the Johnsons lived on the Serengeti four years with native tribes.
Shown are the Johnson’s two Sikorsky amphibian aircraft, zebra-striped with twin engines, needed to explore inaccessible interior lands.
One of my heroes, Jack London, is also pictured traveling through the South Seas with Martin Johnson. (“The Iron Heel” is London’s plea for socialism. His “The Call of the Wild” urges humane treatment of sled dogs.)
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (email@example.com)