Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


eridani's Journal
eridani's Journal
January 30, 2014

In Defense of Pete Seeger, American Communist


As counterintuitive as it may sound, time after time American Communists such as Seeger were on the right side of history - and through their leadership, they encouraged others to join them there.

Communists ran brutal police states in the Eastern bloc, but in Asia and Africa they found themselves at the helm of anti-colonial struggles, and in the United States radicals represented the earliest and more fervent supporters of civil rights and other fights for social emancipation. In the 1930s, Communist Party members led a militant anti-racist movement among Alabama sharecroppers that called for voting rights, equal wages for women and land for landless farmers. Prominent and unabashedly Stalinist figures such as Mike Gold, Richard Wright and Granville Hicks pushed Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal to be more inclusive and led the mass unionization drives of the era. These individuals, bound together by membership in an organization most ordinary Americans came to fear and despise, played an outsize and largely positive role in American politics and culture. Seeger was one of the last surviving links to this great legacy.

"Stateside Communists were the underdogs, fighting the establishment for justice - the victims of censorship and police repression, not its perpetrators."

American communism was different during those years. It wasn't gray, bureaucratic and rigid, as it was in the U.S.S.R., but creative and dynamic. Irving Howe thought it was a put-on, a "brilliant masquerade" that fought for the right causes but in a deceptive, opportunistic way. But there was an undeniable charm to the Communist Party - an organization that hosted youth dances and socials, as well as militant rallies - that first attracted Seeger. One need only reread the old transcripts from his 1955 run-in with the House Un-American Activities Committee to see the difference between the stodginess of the interrogators and the crackling wit of the young firebrand.

January 28, 2014

GAO Examines Impact of Continuous Coverage Prior to Enrolling in Medicare

These are the people that get charged three times as much under the ACA


The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published a report that examines how continuous health insurance before enrolling in Medicare relates to a beneficiary’s reported health status and use of medical services. The study included only people who were eligible for Medicare due to age, not people who were eligible due to disability. It examines the time span from six years before someone was eligible for Medicare to six years after someone had Medicare.

GAO found that people with prior continuous insurance reported being in better health throughout their first six years on Medicare. Additionally, they had lower Medicare spending during their first year on Medicare, translating to approximately $2,300 less in Medicare spending in their first year of coverage.

The study also found that beneficiaries with continuous prior insurance had less institutional outpatient care (e.g., hospital outpatient care) than those who did not during their first two years of Medicare coverage. Those with and without prior continuous insurance had similar noninstitutional outpatient care spending (e.g., physicians and labs) at first. However, beneficiaries with prior continuous insurance surpassed their counterparts in noninstitutional outpatient spending in the fourth and fifth year. This coincides with the finding that those with prior continuous insurance having more physician office visits during the first five years on Medicare.

GAO’s report suggests that beneficiaries with prior insurance are in better health and use fewer or less expensive Medicare services during their first years on Medicare. The care spending and usage patterns also suggest that people with and without prior continuous insurance may access healthcare in different ways. Overall, GAO’s report shows that, while Medicare can help those who are 65 and older access the care they need, their health status and use of services can be largely impacted by their health insurance status prior to Medicare.

January 25, 2014

Is medical care a good business?


Health care costs are at levels never before seen anywhere in the world and are increasing in an uncontrolled and unsustainable way. Despite our high per-person costs — double those of other developed countries — tens of thousands of Americans die every year from lack of timely access to health care.

The degree of interference with doctors’ and patients’ health care decisions that exists in America today would not be tolerated anywhere else in the world. “Death panels” do exist in America, but they are run not by government but by private corporations. Their purpose is to maximize profits.

Americans are unique in the world in thinking about health care as a business. In no other country is that notion so widely and unquestioningly accepted.


As Melody Petersen has documented in her book “Our Daily Meds,” instead of embracing George Merck’s philosophy, pharmaceutical companies have become huge marketing machines. They now are focused far more on their profitability than on their healing mission. Producing medicine that cures diseases instead of just treating symptoms has become a bad business model. Once a disease is cured the customer disappears and profits decline.
January 3, 2014

Comparing Medicare rollout with ACA rollout

Medicare’s Rollout vs. Obamacare’s Glitches Brew

The smooth and inexpensive rollout of Medicare on July 1, 1966 provides a sharp contrast to the costly chaos of Obamacare.

As of March, 2013, federal grants for Obamacare’s state exchanges totaled $3.8 billion. Spending for the federal exchange is harder to pin down because funding has come from multiple accounts, including: the $1 billion Health Insurance Implementation Fund; DHHS’ General Departmental Management Account and General Departmental Management Account; CMS’s Program Management Account and the Prevention and Public Health Fund. CMS estimates fiscal 2014 spending for the federally-operated exchanges at $2 billion. So it’s safe to say that the costs of getting the exchanges up and running, and (hopefully) enrolling 7 million people in the program’s first year will exceed $6 billion.

Bear in mind that the exchanges won’t actually pay any medical bills, just sign people up for coverage. So billions more in overhead costs will show up on the books of the private insurers and state Medicaid programs that will actually process medical claims.

Back in 1966, Medicare started paying bills for 18.9 million seniors (99 percent of those eligible for coverage) just 11 months after Pres. Johnson signed it into law. Overhead costs for the first year totaled $120 million (equivalent to $867 million in 2013). But that figure includes the cost of processing medical bills, not just the enrollment costs.

Signing up most of the elderly for Medicare was simple; they were already known to Social Security Administration, which handled enrollment. To find the rest, the feds sent out mailings to seniors, held local meetings, and asked postal workers, forest rangers and agricultural representatives to help contact people in remote areas. The Office for Economic Opportunity spent $14.5 million to hire 5,000 low income seniors who went door-to-door in their neighborhoods.

Obamacare’s byzantine complexity reflects the contortions required to simultaneously expand coverage and appease private insurers. And private insurers will exact a steep ongoing toll. Medicare’s overhead is just 2 percent, vs. an average of 13 percent for private plans (on top of the Exchanges’ costs, roughly 3 percent of premiums). A single payer plan that excluded private insurers could save hundreds of billions in transaction costs.

PNHP oress release

“Obamacare is a giant workaround crafted to keep private insurers at the center of the health care system,” said co-author Dr. David Himmelstein, a primary care physician, professor of public health at the City University of New York and lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“The simple single-payer, Medicare-for-all approach would save more than $400 billion annually on bureaucracy, enough to give every American first-dollar coverage. But to get those savings you have to break private insurers’ stranglehold on health care and on Washington,” he said, adding, “The glitches in Obamacare’s rollout don’t come from government incompetence, but from political cowardice.”

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: Washington state
Home country: USA
Current location: Directly above the center of the earth
Member since: Sat Aug 16, 2003, 02:52 AM
Number of posts: 51,907

About eridani

Major policy wonk interests: health care, Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid, election integrity
Latest Discussions»eridani's Journal