September 24, 2014

OCCUPY HEALTHCARE NOW!

 

A NATIONWIDE, “NOT-FOR-PROFIT HEALTH SERVICE” TO OCCUPY THE HEALTH CARE DELIVERY; INSURANCE; SUPPLY INTERMEDIARY; EDUCATION; AND HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SPACES, AT HOME AND ABROAD.

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  1. admin says:

    DRAWN BY ADMIN: From the http://www.occupyhealthcare.net website

    “Occupy Healthcare”

    Working Together for Change

    It begins

    October 4, 2011 Posted by miller7 (Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD ) under healthcare

    When will healthcare have its “Occupy Wall Street” moment?

    null

    In order to answer this question, let us first define what the occupy wall street movement is about. According to ABC News:

    “Their [Occupy Wall Street] causes include everything from global warming to gas prices to corporate greed, and the Occupy Wall Street website says organizers took their inspiration in part from the so-called Arab Spring demonstrations that have tried to bring democracy across the Arab world.

    But while their message might be a tad muddled, all are united by their anger over what they say is a broken system, a system that serves the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rest.

    Protester Brendan Burke insists he and the others are fighting for more than 99 percent of the American population.”

    Let me highlight one section from above:

    “…all are united by their anger over what they say is a broken system…”

    Would anyone argue that healthcare is not broken? At the heart of this brokenness lies fragmentation that perpetuates this brokenness.

    The question remains, why is the public not more outraged at the broken healthcare system?

    While healthcare costs continue to grow uncontrollably, the public continues to suffer. In the face of this suffering, there does not appear to be much relief. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act does try to mitigate some of these issues (especially cost), but is this sufficient without adequate community “outrage” over healthcare?

    As Gawande has written – “In every industrialized nation, the movement to reform health care has begun with stories about cruelty.”

    Not to be overly melodramatic here, but one needs look no further than “mental health” to see how the system has often failed folks who have this as their presenting problem. Not to imply that this is cruelty, but when one starts to cite statistics about mortality in the severely mentally ill, there should be some outrage.

    There should be a demand from across the community that healthcare should be high quality, affordable and integrated as to avoid fragmentation. Yet where is the demand?

    Maybe healthcare has not had it’s “Wall Street” moment because there is no one place the national community can gather to express their outrage. Yes, we advocate in our own unique ways – write letters to our legislators, visit them and on speak up in town hall meetings, but is this sufficient? Even if we had a special street corner to meet to talk about healthcare, would we?

    How can we begin to engage the community so that healthcare can have its “Occupy Wall Street” moment? Or, as the Occupy Wall Street movement has shown, where are the select individuals who will rise up and fight for “the 99%”?

    Isn’t it time?

    This website will be a location where the community can come to discuss healthcare. A place where meaningful healthcare issues can be raised and worked on together.

    Now is the time for the Occupy Healthcare movement. Let’s begin.

    Drawn by admin From the http://www.occupyhealthcare.net website:

  2. admin says:

    Drawn By Admin From: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/on-call/2011/10/03/many-occupy-wall-street-supporters-have-health-grievances/

    The uninsured don’t expect help from Obama’s health reform

    Many Occupy Wall Street supporters have health grievances
    by STACEY SINGER (“On Call” Blogger)

    One “Occupy Wall Street” protester carried a sign: ‘A .05 percent financial transaction tax can fund lifesaving meds which will end HIV/AIDS!”

    The “Occupy Wall Street” protests have been disorganized and unfocused until now. But as the protests move into their third week, some themes are emerging. Today, protesters are dressing like “corporate zombies” and greeting bank employees on their way in to work. They are siezing on a new slogan, too: “We are the 99 percent,” focusing on the glaring shift in wealth inequality over the past decade.

    The people who support the protests are telling their stories via the internet, and so many of them involve stories of low-wage workers who have been wiped out by health care and housing crises. The experience of having a chronic disease and having and no way to get care or medications is a common theme. Take a look:http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/

    This entry was posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 12:31 pm and is filed under Article, health costs, Health reform. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    L. Napoleon Cooper Says:

    October 5th, 2011 at 12:51 am

    Occupy HealthCare is an aspect of Occupy Wall Street that is organized from top to bottom. There’s a plan, funding mechanism and structure tied to effort of U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. i.e, a “Civilian VA” in a manner of speaking as outlined at USASinglePayerOption.com.

    One look at this approach and plan of action will make absolutely clear that Wall Street HealthCare is seen as threat to continuing decline of American living standards and as contributing to an anger with the potential to undermine the stability of our political system.

    “Occupy Wall Street Health Care” NOW!

  3. admin says:

    JEFFREY SACHS SINGS THE PRAISES OF OCCUPY WALL STREET

    One of the features of Occupy Wall Street is that various celebs, public intellectuals, and experts show up, and give mini pep talks to the hundreds of activists and hangers on who literally occupy Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park.

    On Friday afternoon, it was the famous—and to some, notorious— Colombia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, who arrived to show solidarity with the protestors one day after his quasi-nemesis, Naomi Klein, spoke to the crowd.

    AlterNet’s Kristen Gwynne and I were chatting with Arun Gupta of the Indypendent, who had just buzzed down to the site on his bicycle, when there was Sachs strolling into the site. So we snagged him for a 20-minute round of questions, as a crowd quickly formed, joined by a CNN camera crew.

    Sachs was very much with the anti-corporate program, saying that the “country has gone haywire, with all the money going to the top.” “We have to take the country away from the corporate lobbyists,” he said.

    Sachs was very supportive of the Occupy Wall Street effort as well, saying that “social movements take off when people see that other people are suffering. They know they are not alone.”

    He criticized Obama for hedging his electoral bets, appearing to raise much of his money from small donors, but actually raising the majority of his money from the wealthy and from the hedge funds.

    Sachs feels it is possible for a candidate to get elected without taking the big corporate bucks. He said that one of these days, “people will understand that spending all that money on TV ads is a waste, and that social media is the future” which can get people elected.

    As many are aware, Jeffrey Sachs has made a transformation from his days when he was the boy wonder of international economic austerity advice, in places like Russia and Bolivia. Arun Gupta pressed Sachs about Naomi Klein’s critique of him in The Shock Doctrine, in which she accused Sachs of taking advantage of crisisto impose radical austerity plans that caused tremendous hardships. He defended himself, essentially saying that he has long been misunderstood. According to Sachs, he has been on the right side of things for 26 years, and the major global economic errors were mostly Larry Summers fault, not his. We’ll have more on this down the road when Arun writes up this potion of the interview in more detail.

    When Sachs went over to speak to the crowd he continued his critique. “When Obama has dinners all the time with people who pay $35,800 a plate,” said Sachs, “he is talking to the 1%. That is who he is listening to. We need to elect people who listen to the 99%”

    By Don Hazen | Sourced from AlterNet
    Posted at October 7, 2011, 4:07 pm

  4. admin says:

    Courtesy of

    EXCLUSIVE MOTHER JONES INTERVIEW — EXCLUSIVE MOTHER JONES INTERVIEW

    Corporations, Economy, Media, Top Stories

    Page 1 of 2Next

    “We Are the 99 Percent” Creators Revealed Courtesy of wearethe99percent.

    EXCLUSIVE: MoJo interviews the two activists behind Occupy Wall Street’s poignant Tumblr sensation.

    —By Adam Weinstein

    Fri Oct. 7, 2011 3:00 AM PDT

    It began as a simple little idea, just another blog among millions. The Occupy Wall Street protest was scheduled to begin on September 17, and launching We Are the 99 Percent on Tumblr seemed like a good way to promote it. Its creator had no clue that it would go viral and become a touchstone for a protest movement soon to spread nationwide.

    Explore MoJo’s updated map of protests nationwide. Check out all of our #OWS coverage.

    This week, Mother Jones tracked down and spoke with the two activists behind the 99 Percent sensation, whose identities have remained unknown until now. The blog is the creation of a tenacious 28-year-old New York activist named Chris. (He asked that his last name not be published because he works full time for a small media outlet.) Chris has also been busy managing logistics, including food drives, for Occupy Wall Street in Lower Manhattan—so about two weeks ago, he started sharing the blog’s increasingly demanding curation duties with a friend in the cause, Brooklyn-based nonprofit worker and independent media maven Priscilla Grim.

    On August 23, Chris put the idea in motion: “Get a bunch of people to submit their pictures with a hand-written sign explaining how these harsh financial times have been affecting them, have them identify themselves as the ’99 percent’, and then write ‘occupywallst.org’ at the end.”

    On September 8, the first day he started publishing submissions, there were five posts. Less than a month later, the blog was posting nearly 100 pieces a day: from the 61-year-old who lost her job and moved in with her kids, to the husband of a college professor on WIC and Medicaid to support an infant daughter, to the fiftysomething couple living on tossed-out KFC, to a bevy of youths pummeled by student debt and too poor to visit a dentist.

    “I submitted one of the first photos on the site, and I chose to obscure my face because I did not want to be recognized,” co-editor Grim told MoJo when we caught up with her and Chris for interviews on Wednesday. “I saw it as a way to anonymize myself: I am only one of many.”

    Many of the submissions posted are poignant and heartbreaking. They have freaked out some conservatives, but they have also galvanized progressives, lit a fire under Occupy Wall Street, and attracted contributors from many walks of life. And there is a powerful undercurrent that’s anything but gloom and doom. “Despite the economic hardships many in the 99 percent are experiencing,” Chris says, “it’s an empowering message, letting people know that they are not alone.”

    Mother Jones: What is your background, and your role in the Occupy movement?

    Chris: I am 28 years old, college educated, full-time job, part-time freelance job, and I volunteer to feed the hungry and needy every Sunday. I live in New York City. I wear a tie to work, unless it’s Friday. I am an anarchist, though my belief is that anarchism should be more about building things up than tearing things down. I am a dedicated pacifist. I drink too much coffee. My favorite band is Sleater Kinney, and I think their best album is Dig Me Out, followed closely by One Beat. I’ve read Infinite Jest twice, and I’m fully aware of how pretentious that makes me sound, and I’m really, really sorry.

    Priscilla Grim: I worked for nonprofits for 10 years, have studied online media in school, and I am currently in grad school studying information science. I helped to organize online actions pre-MoveOn. I love serving people and improving the world, firstly for my kid and secondly for the rest of us. I worked in a lot of different realms and know how to build organizations and make them sustainable, if I am working with like-minded, determined individuals.

    MJ: What is the origin of the 99 Percent idea, and how did you decide to present it on the Tumblr blog, using submissions?

    C: Well, from doing a little bit of research on occupywallst.org, the earliest mention I can find of “99 percent” is this flyer, which was made to inform people of the second General Assembly, which functioned as, essentially, our planning meetings during the buildup to all of this. As for the blog, I really wish I had a cool story to tell, maybe something involving ninjas and running down a tunnel with a fireball chasing after me, but the truth is that it was just one of those random thoughts you get throughout your day that make you go, “Huh, I should write this down,” before going on with whatever it is you’re doing. Except in this case I actually wrote it down. It didn’t require a lot of tweaking since the idea itself is quite simple: Get a bunch of people to submit their pictures with a hand-written sign explaining how these harsh financial times have been affecting them, have them identify themselves as the 99 percent, and then write “occupywallst.org” at the end. It was something simple that most anyone with a computer could do, so that even if they couldn’t make it to the occupation, they could at least help build its narrative.

    MJ: What was your motivation for the presentation, the idea of people posing with their stories, and with most obscuring their faces?

    C: My original intention was to have a very uniform format:

    One-sentence statement I am the 99 Percent OccupyWallSt.org

    And the person’s face would have been fully revealed.

    However, as it’s progressed, I’ve seen stories that can’t be told in just a sentence. It also occurred to me that people may not be comfortable showing their full faces. So, we’ve come to be a lot more flexible when it comes to things like that. And, in all honesty, I think the blog has benefited. With hindsight, it occurs to me that demanding conformity with this strict uniform format would have made all the stories start to sound the same, smoothing out the diversity and making it much more bland. So, thank goodness for rule-breaking!

    Right now, we only ask that you do your best to keep it concise, that the sign be hand-written, and that some part of your face be visible, though we’d still prefer whole faces. Also, we delete entries that are too blurry, have text that isn’t legible, or are upside down or backwards. (People, remember that if you take a picture in a mirror, your text will be reversed!)

    MJ: How does the Tumblr work, practically speaking? There seems to be a narrative rhythm to it.

    “I have read many long letters about the hard choices that people have to face every day.”
    PG: We post almost all of the submissions. It’s really hard because so many of our fellow citizens have such remarkable stories, and they write more of a letter than a simple fact. For many of these entries it feels like this is the first time anyone has asked them to articulate exactly what about the system in which they live is not working.

    C: We try to post as many as we can, but when the inbox fills up literally while you are working through it, and you’re only doing this during the little free time you have, this can be quite difficult. I think I cleared the inbox once during the entire time I’ve been doing this, and then the next morning there were tons more.

    There’s not much to curating it. I go through and read the submissions that, from the outset, look ideal: simple format, full face, hand-written. After that, I comb through the ones that may not entirely fit the format (the really long ones, for example) but still look okay, and publish them. After that, I delete any that are illegible or too blurry to read.

    MJ: Have submissions been steady? Did you notice a real turning point in volume?

    C: We get more than 100 a day. I just logged on now to check, and I have 106 new messages. And it’s only 9:49 a.m.

    PG: It did start as a handful…suffice to say that I have read many long letters about medical and student debt, abusive families inside which people are trapped, and the hard choices that people have to face every day, choices that I am sure they thought they were the only ones making—until this Tumblr.

    Next Page: “I am on the edge of 40 and such behavior is seen as a little extreme, but we are fighting an extreme system.”

    Page 1 of 2Next

    Adam Weinstein is Mother Jones’ national security reporter. For more of his stories, click here or follow him on Twitter. Get Adam Weinstein’s RSS feed.

    Courtesy of

  5. admin says:

    null

    EXCLUSIVE MOTHER JONES INTERVIEW — EXCLUSIVE MOTHER JONES INTERVIEW — EXCLUSIVE

    → Corporations, Economy, Media, Top Stories

    PreviousPage 2 of 2

    “We Are the 99 Percent” Creators Revealed

    EXCLUSIVE: MoJo interviews the two activists behind Occupy Wall Street’s poignant Tumblr sensation.

    —By Adam Weinstein

    Fri Oct. 7, 2011 3:00 AM PDT

    MJ: Why do you think it is connecting so strongly?

    PG: Because we all have a story, and the conversation about social safety nets has been lessened to that of accounting and not of the day-to-day realities. It is one thing for me to tell people that I have not been to a dentist in five years; it is another to confess that I deal with frequent wisdom tooth pain with ill-gotten muscle relaxers and ice pops, and this has been my reality for at least two years.

    C: I think they want to let others know that they’re out there, that they exist, that their problems exist. That they’re not just some statistic compiled in a spreadsheet, that they’re real human beings with real human challenges. That they won’t be an abstraction, a walking political cartoon for people to argue and debate over while nothing gets done in the end. They’re not just “indebted students,” “the uninsured,” “the foreclosed.” They’re THIS indebted student, they’re THIS uninsured person, they’re THIS person whose home was foreclosed. Specificity has great power.

    On the reader side, I think people look for connection, some escape from solipsism, to know that they’re not the only ones scared for the future, that they’re not the only ones who do everything they’re supposed to do and still fall down, that they’re not the only ones who are starting to wonder whether their individual suffering is indicative of a much deeper, much more fundamental sickness in our society. Struggling with money, you focus so much on your own survival that you can feel very isolated and alone. Knowing others have the same struggle, and that they too are scared, can do much to ameliorate this isolation.

    Though, this is all speculation. For all I know, there’s a lot more hand-written sign fetishists out there than I thought.

    MJ: Priscilla, do you have a link to your own 99 Percent submission?

    PG: I do, but this is not about me…this is about the 99 percent.

    MJ: Have you gotten many inquiries about the Tumblr, or any interesting messages of support or criticism?

    PG: The Huffington Post has dedicated serious resources to the blog, calling it a populist call to action, which is pretty amazing. I am amazed that the response has been so overwhelmingly positive. Seriously, out of all of the contact that we have gotten with the press and citizens I have received two negative comments. Try to find that reality anywhere on the internets. Finally, we have all found something that we agree on.

    MJ: How important, in your mind, has social media been to getting Occupy Wall Street to where it is? There’s probably gonna be a lot of hype, in hindsight, about the role of social media.

    PG: I don’t think this could have been possible without social media to link people to real information on wealth inequality, and to possible solutions that are on the table to help balance the power structure. Every time we go on the web, it is to learn something. Right now Occupy Wall Street is part of an essential education and conversation on wealth inequality so that people can bring their own demands and solutions to the table. It is an education that we all should have and a conversation that is vital to the future of this country.

    MJ: What are you currently doing beyond the Tumblr? Are you on the ramparts?

    PG: My neighbors rounded up a carload of supplies for the campers which I have brought. I have been sleeping in the park on and off, much to the amazement of my friends and family. I am on the edge of 40 and such behavior is seen as a little extreme, but we are fighting an extreme system, and if sleeping in a park will bring attention to it, then put down some cardboard and I will bring my sleeping bag. Other than that I am around, doing what I can, lending professional consult when asked.

    This is an occupation, and we are not leaving until there is systemic change. We have no choice, it is time to shift power away from the corporations and into the hands of the people whom they should be serving.

    C: I helped spearhead the food committee during the planning stages, which involved fundraising and securing material donations to get the initial supply of food, and helped get the main food station going when the occupation formally began. I say “I helped” instead of “I did” because none of what we have could be possible without the assistance of many dedicated and passionate people who also realized that the boring stuff is going to have to be taken care of if we expect this thing to have any legs. For the first few days, I was at the food station pretty much all day, every day, even sleeping beside it when I was camping out in the park, and got people to help me mostly on an ad hoc basis. Now I go to the camp right after work, changing in the bathroom, to find five or six experienced people already at the station and keeping things under control. At this point, I mainly play a support role, helping prep food, going on supply runs, organizing food donations, and keeping people informed of what the food station needs.

    Incidentally, the way the food station has evolved is pretty much nothing like how I initially imagined it would be. This is a good thing: It means that it can, theoretically, go on without me. We want to avoid concentrations of power as much as we can. If the entire thing collapses if one person happens to leave, we know we’ve failed. As it is right now, amazing things are happening there, and it’s all because of the ideas of people who’ve volunteered their time and efforts to making sure everyone is fed.

    MJ: Where do things go from here?

    C: Truthfully, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows. What I’d like to see is something that gets people to question some of the fundamental assumptions that they make about the way the economic system works, and to take action when those assumptions no longer satisfy. Whether this takes the form of global non-violent revolution, or just something that gets people to challenge their worldview, the important thing is to go as far as we can for as long as we can, and to try as hard as we can. Because that means the next time someone else is going to try harder. And then, someone else will try harder than that. Until, eventually, we win.

    All photos courtesy of We Are the 99 Percent.

    PreviousPage 2 of 2

    Adam Weinstein is Mother Jones’ national security reporter. For more of his stories, click here or follow him on Twitter. Get Adam Weinstein’s RSS feed.

  6. admin says:

    Occupy Wall Street Army Veteran
    All photos courtesy of “We Are the 99 Percent”

  7. admin says:

    “Occupy Wall Street” Should Protest Wall Street Takeover of Health Care

    Submitted by Wendell Potter on October 11, 2011 – 1:16pm

    The lobbyists for U.S. health insurers surely have to be feeling a little uneasy knowing that thousands of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators who have been marching and protesting in Washington as well as New York and other cities might target them in the days ahead. After all, the headquarters of the insurers’ biggest lobbying and PR group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., is just blocks away from Freedom Plaza, where the demonstrators have set up camp — and problems with health insurers appear to be near the top of the list of protesters’ concerns.

    Health Care for America Now, an umbrella advocacy group that played a key role in the health care reform debate, last week analyzed the 546 comments that had been posted by then on the “We are the 99 percent” Tumblr site. It found that 262 of the comments mention such problems as getting denials for doctor-ordered care from their insurance companies and having to forego treatment because of hefty out-of-pocket costs.

    In my book, Deadly Spin, I wrote about how the “Wall Street takeover” of the American health care system has created many of the problems mentioned in the Tumblr site. I also described how AHIP offices have often been Command Central for developing and implementing coordinated efforts to derail health care reform efforts in the past, and how the organization helped shape major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed last year.

    Over the past few years, many of the largest health insurance firms have converted from nonprofit to for-profit status, and have been acquired by huge corporations whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Today, more than one-third of all Americans are enrolled in a health benefit plan owned and operated by just five large insurers — a group that last year hauled in nearly $12 billion in profits. These companies have grown so big and powerful that they now often determine who has access to affordable care and who doesn’t. Their business practices, condoned by investors and Wall Street analysts alike, have contributed to the growing number of Americans without health insurance — more than 50 million of us at last count.

    I worked for two of those large companies, Humana and CIGNA, during my nearly 20 years in the insurance industry, and I participated in many strategy meetings at AHIP’s offices in Washington where plans were hatched to influence public policy.

    Obama Administration Caves, Sides with Insurers

    I am now watching how AHIP is getting Obama administration officials to write the regulations required by the Affordable Care Act in ways that benefit insurance companies more than consumers. And I have talked to administration officials who have quit their jobs in disgust as the White House has repeatedly sided with insurers rather than consumer advocates, as important regulations were nearing completion.

    Here’s an example. Earlier this summer, the administration announced rules pertaining to new rights we supposedly have now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, to appeal decisions made by insurers that don’t go our way. When the Department of Health and Human Services quietly released the regulations in late June, consumer advocates realized that insurers had, for all practical purposes, written them.

    As Sabrina Corlette of Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute wrote, the administration narrowed the range of issues consumers can appeal, gave insurers up to 72 hours, rather than 24 hours, to made decisions on emergency care claims and weakened a provision requiring health plans to provide enrollees with information about their appeal rights in understandable language. Administration officials also cut in half the number of days patients have for appeals, and allowed insurers to frequently choose their own “judge and jury” when their enrollees request an external review.

    Just last week, AHIP’s muscle was on display when the Institutes of Medicine released guidelines for the Obama administration to follow in establishing the “essential benefits package” that all health plans will have to offer on the health care exchanges, or insurance marketplaces, beginning in 2014.

    Author Wendell Potter, former head of PR for CIGNA

    In January, an AHIP executive warned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) about making the benefits package too “rich.” Insurers want the package to be as skinny as possible, which will enable them to continue selling plans that, in many cases, are inadequate for many peoples’ needs.

    The IOM’s recommendation is almost exactly what AHIP suggested.

    So if the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators want to show up in front of the offices of some of the most important and influential people in Washington, whose strings are pulled by a handful of people on Wall Street, they will not want to miss 601 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Trust me on this.

  8. AlxHamiltn says:

    IS THE OCCUPY WALL STREET MOVEMENT AT ITS APEX? WILL IT DIE OR GROW?

    On the one hand, when “Adam Smith discredited…mercantilism…Quesnay and Smith…fatuously set up a new dogma [laissez faire]…proclaiming that what suited [the then power economies of] France and Britain was…universal law.”

    Alexander Hamilton, on the other, “preferred wisdom to sacred canon…broke the tablets of that law and substituted…discretion…encouraging the conviction that economic virtue lies NOT in nature but in man…[and that] circumstances [say, the collapse of the 99%] alter cases and…[in such cases] that economic tenants are not absolute, but are modified by time and place.”

    Translation: Contrary to the slavish and simplistic adherence of the financial Press (jesters to the Court of the 1%) to the dogma of one economic ISM versus another, “we are not confined by foreordained rules, and society [THE 99%] by taking thought, may add a cubit to its stature.”

    As such, without either the reason or how-to fixed firmly in sight, the 99% movement WILL continue and will prevail, should that require “off with their heads” or not.

    OCCUPY HEALTHCARE NOW!

  9. AlxHamiltn says:

    “OBAMA ADMINISTRATION DROPS PART OF HEALTHCARE LAW

    The CLASS program to provide long-term-care insurance will not be implemented because it wouldn’t be financially sustainable, says the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter that the long-term-care insurance program wouldn’t have collected enough in premiums to remain solvent.

    By Noam N. Levey, LA Times, Washington Bureau

    October 14, 2011, 5:22 p.m.

    Reporting from Washington— The Obama administration will not implement a new program to provide Americans with long-term-care insurance, abandoning a controversial part of the healthcare overhaul the president signed last year.

    The move will not affect other parts of the sweeping law, including preparations for a major expansion of health insurance coverage starting in 2014, according to administration officials.

    But the decision to give up on what was once touted as a key benefit of the law marks a major retreat for the administration and a vindication for critics who have voiced doubt about the promises that Democrats made as they fought to enact the law last year.

    It also struck a blow at a long-cherished goal of consumer advocates and liberal Democrats, especially the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who championed a government entitlement to help elderly Americans pay for home care or a nursing home.

    In a letter to senior Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said such a benefit remained crucial.

    But she said the program envisioned in the healthcare law — Community Living Assistance Services and Supports, or CLASS — couldn’t have been structured to collect enough in premiums to remain solvent.

    “For 19 months, experts inside and outside government have examined how [the Department of Health and Human Services] might implement a financially sustainable, voluntary and self-financed long-term-care insurance program under the law,” Sebelius wrote. “But despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation.”

    Republican critics of the CLASS program urged even more aggressive action to eliminate the benefit.

    “Simply setting aside the program for the near term is not enough,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). “Repeal is the only solution to ensuring American taxpayers will not be on the hook in the future for this disastrous entitlement.”

    Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), a leading proponent, criticized the administration’s decision and pledged to work to revive the program.

    “The Obama administration is simply wrong,” he said. “This is too important to give up.”

    Kennedy, Pallone and many consumer advocates pushed for the long-term-care program amid evidence that few Americans have private insurance for long-term care. Many elderly Americans face tens of thousands of dollars in bills for home care or for stays in nursing homes, which are not covered by Medicare, the federal program for the elderly and disabled.

    Nursing home stays are covered by the Medicaid program for the poor. But in order to qualify for aid, seniors have to spend down their resources, only to then become a burden on the government.

    Advocates for a new entitlement — including AARP, the Alzheimer’s Assn. and the National Council on Aging — argued that this situation could be avoided if workers paid a portion of their paycheck into a long-term-care insurance program so they could draw on its benefits when they got old.

    As Democrats crafted the healthcare law, early budgetary projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that because workers could start paying into the CLASS program for five years before benefits became available, it would show a positive balance for years, helping to offset the overall cost of the healthcare law.

    That was welcome news to Democrats, who were struggling to find ways to show that the law wouldn’t widen the deficit.

    But there were also early warnings that the CLASS program would not be sustainable over the long run.

    Because the program is voluntary, younger, healthier workers would be less likely to sign up than older, sicker ones.

    That could create a destructive cycle in which premiums would have to rise to pay out higher benefits, in turn driving away even more healthy workers and pushing premiums even higher.

    Administration officials predicted just such a scenario.

    “This imbalance … would cause the program to quickly collapse,” Kathy Greenlee, the program administrator, concluded in a memo to Sebelius.

    Greenlee predicted that premiums for the program could have cost $391 a month, or even as much as $3,000 a month, for a benefit that paid out only about $50 a day.

    Administration officials have not proposed an alternative. Nor, in the current partisan environment, does it appear likely that lawmakers will fix the program.

    In her letter to congressional leaders, Sebelius warned that by 2020, an estimated 15 million elderly Americans will need some kind of long-term care, with few having insurance.

    “Without insurance coverage or the personal wealth to pay large sums in their later years,” she wrote, “more Americans with disabilities will rely on Medicaid services once their assets are depleted, putting further strain on state and federal budgets.”

    noam.levey@latimes.com

    • admin says:

      October 15, 2011

      Eventually, the 99 percent will see the wisdom of taking steps in the private, not-for-profit sector that will create a set of Nationwide, “Not-for-profit Health Service (“NHS”)” FACTS ON THE GROUND, such that aspects of health reform that the Obama Administration is forced to scrap or that the corporate, Supreme Court of the US is expected to invalidate, do not usher in a return to healthcare as we knew it.

      Eventually, the 99 percent will take steps to assemble from the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) the healthcare system we deserve for OURSELVES, and stop begging Wall Street’s tools in government, national, state and local, to “do the right thing.”

      Eventually, the 99 percent will take steps to assemble from the ACA a respectful Nationwide, Not-for-profit Health Service deserving of a free people, such that we reclaim for ourselves and our posterity a measure of lost self-respect, in addition to a more effective, and affordable, and safe, healthcare delivery system for one and all, as a matter of RIGHT not privilege.

      EVENTUALLY.

      OCCUPY HEALTHCARE, NOW!

  10. AlxHamiltn says:

    OBAMA OPPOSES REPEAL OF HEALTHCARE PROGRAM SUSPENDED LAST WEEK

    By Julian Pecquet – 10/17/11 01:51 PM ET

    President Obama is against repealing the health law’s long-term care CLASS Act and might veto Republican efforts to do so, an administration official tells The Hill, despite the government’s announcement Friday that the program was dead in the water.

    “We do not support repeal,” the official said Monday. “Repealing the CLASS Act isn’t necessary or productive. What we should be doing is working together to address the long-term care challenges we face in this country.”

    Over the weekend, The Hill has learned, an administration official called CLASS Act advocates to reassure them that Obama is still committed to making the program work. That official also told advocates that widespread media reports on the program’s demise were wrong, leaving advocates scratching their heads.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Friday in a blog post on the liberal Huffington Post web site that the administration did not see a way to make the program sustainable. Sebelius indicated her agency hadn’t been able to figure out a way to ensure the program providing long-term care paid for itself as required by law.

    Later in a call with reporters on Friday, an HHS official said work on the program was being suspended.

    “We won’t be working further to implement the CLASS Act … We don’t see a path forward to be able to do that,” Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee told reporters on Friday.

    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, said Monday that repealing the program would not add to the deficit, making Republican repeal efforts that much easier.

    The Obama administration sold the healthcare law with the argument that it would lower the nation’s long-term health costs, and the CLASS Act was an important reason why.

    CBO had scored the long-term care program for people with disabilities as saving the nation $86 billion in spending over 10 years. That’s about 40 percent of the health law’s $210 billion in total estimated deficit reduction over the next decade.

    In a new blog post, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf clarified that last week’s decision by the Obama administration not to implement the program means those savings are now moot. Because the program is not being implemented, Elmendorf said a repeal bill would not be estimated as saving money.

    “Following longstanding procedures,” Elmendorf wrote, “CBO takes new administrative actions into account when analyzing legislation being considered by the Congress — even if it has not published new baseline projections. Beginning immediately, therefore, legislation to repeal the CLASS provisions in current law would be estimated as having no budgetary impact.”

    New baseline budget projections due out in January, Elmendorf wrote, “will assume that the program will not be implemented (unless there are changes in law or other actions by the administration that would supersede Friday’s announcement).”

    In the Senate, John Thune (R-S.D.) has a bill to repeal the CLASS Act that has attracted 32 Republican cosponsors. In the House, Charles Boustany (R-La.) has a similar bill with 48 cosponsors, including Democrat Dan Lipinski of Illinois.

    • admin says:

      The Long-Term Care Solution Is Financial

      A new, Nationwide, “Not-for-profit Health Service” would invest in life-time relationships to make cost of long-term care “affordable”.

    • admin says:

      The VA Long Term Care Solution is “Cost Averaging”

      The Department of VA Invests in Life-Time Healthcare Relationships to Cost Average DOWN the Financial Expense of Funding Long Term Care.

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