Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Since Republicans Want to Kill Medicare...

and Social Security too, a fact that may upset some GOP activists because they have to deal with that reality in the trenches and this is not something most of them want to talk to voters about leading up to the next round of elections. And given the fact that I am just a moderate little "i" indy with no party affiliation - I just play nicer on the left/Democratic party side of the Blogosphere because, much like myself and for the most part, they deal from the reality deck - I thought I would point to a story in The New Haven Independent covering CT-05's Rep. Chris Murphy discussing the issue of Healthcare Reform with activists that understand the problems we are all trying to deal with.

To be blunt, Murphy thinks the Democratic party needs to come out swinging and drive reform through.
Instead of running from health care reform, Democrats need to swing back, and not dumb it down in reaction to right-wing talking points.
Myself, personally? I agree. Healthcare reform has been one of my pet issues for years. I have written about the fact that it is quickly becoming the anchor that will sink the entire US economy. And it is precisely because of the fact that the for-profit driven insurance madness currently sucks up about 16 to 17% of the USA's GDP, an astronomical number compared to almost every other nation that we have to compete with in the global market.

In 2007 I wrote about the fact that "each vehicle assembled in the United States cost GM $1,525 for health care; those made in Canada cost GM $197."

But it is not just applicable to the auto industry. The competitive disadvantage this puts us at in the global market and in every industry is mind boggling. Meanwhile, while we suffer the consequences of not only being at a severe competitive disadvantage, the for-profit insurers deny care an ever growing number of people.

Because of our dysfunctional system pitting profits against the value of a life or their health, the uninsured have zero access to basic primary and preventative care, the only care they may have access to is costly hospital emergency room care, and a growing number of people are seeing their private plans disintegrate in value or being dropped completely by their employers. And the inured still have to deal with ever rising co-pays that literally put access to actually using their insurance out of their financial reach and have to deal with insurance companies that pay bonuses to a herd of people hired to do nothing but deny you care you already paid for in your policy.

There are better answers. 

And these better answers come from the reality side of the aisle I was talking about earlier in the post. While not all in the left nor on the Democratic side agree with this action, it is an action that they all admit would work:
Dr. Emmanuel Logiadis (at right in photo) implored Murphy to lead the charge to make sure some changes, such as the Medicare expansion, get passed through reconciliation. The Senate needs only 50 votes in that process, not the 60 it needs to overcome a filibuster.

Medicare eligibility age can be lowered to zero, said Logiadis, a doctor from Trumbull. That would make many of his friends in their 20s and 30s happy, he said. They could now say, “I worked for Obama, and now he has delivered for me health care for life.”

“For the life of me I don’t see why [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid doesn’t actually force the Republicans to filibuster—- I would have killed to see the Republicans argue against expansion of Medicare,” Murphy said.
Real Healthcare Reform can still happen. 

Reform that both the people and the businesses that do actually provide real services and real material goods to the economy would benefit greatly from. Real reform that would easily cut out about 25 to 27% of American healthcare costs right off the top and immediately as soon as it is implemented.

There is a reality that is too often lost in the debate, too easily ignored by the ideologues that are trying to stop any and all real Healthcare Reform. And a reality that will cost the Democratic party votes if they don't address it head on. Part of what has the voters from across the political spectrum furious with everyone in Washington D.C..

We don't need insurance reform... We need Guaranteed Healthcare. 

Why is this man smiling?

"A RELATIVE BARGAIN: George Mercieca, a worker at a GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, shows off his Canadian health care card. GM spends an average of $1,385 a year on medical bills for hourly workers in Canada. An American autoworker costs the company about $5,000, but studies show Americans are no healthier than their foreign counterparts."
He is smiling because he has a great job with better medical benefits than most Americans could ever hope for under our failed healthcare for-profit system. The kind of job that Connecticut, and the USA as a whole, can not realistically hope to attract under our current system as it eats up more and more of our GDP, making it unaffordable to consider the entire USA as an option for locating needed jobs.

If you do not believe me than ask yourself "what does the manufacturing industry have to say about this?" (Answer below the fold...)

While training issues are less of a problem here in Connecticut, and probably will never be an issue because we still have a decent educational system, health care is cited as a major issue for Toyota's decision to pick Ontario, Canada, as the location of a new factory for their Rav-4s slated to open in 2008:

"The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.

Acknowledging it was the "worst-kept secret" throughout Ontario's automotive industry, Toyota confirmed months of speculation Thursday by announcing plans to build a 1,300-worker factory in the southwestern Ontario city.

"Welcome to Woodstock - that's something I've been waiting a long time to say," Ray Tanguay, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, told hundreds gathered at a high school gymnasium.

The plant will produce the RAV-4, dubbed by some as a "mini sport-utility vehicle" that Toyota currently makes only in Japan. It plans to build 100,000 vehicles annually.

The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.

Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.

He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.

"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.

In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.

"Most people don't think of our health-care system as being a competitive advantage," he said.
It is clearly an advantage for any company that wants to open up a business in any industry... A 4 to 5 dollar per hour advantage. An advantage so great that any state that passes true-single-payer Universal Health Care first will be positioned to become a mecca for any company considering opening any kind of business. Right now both California and Pennsylvania are headed in the direction of becoming American industry meccas.

And just to be clear what the BIG 3 of the American auto industry thinks about single payer healthcare?

Here is a sample of their thoughts, as entered into the Congressional records, when the privateers of free market run amok ideologies wanted to begin inflicting the kind of damage they do everywhere in the economy on the Canadian Healthcare system:
Joint Letter on Publicly Funded Healthcare
Alain Batty - President and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Canada
Basil Hargrove - National President, CAW-Canada
September 10, 2002
(Entered into the Congressional Record by Congressman McDermott)

Canada's publicly funded health care system provides essential and affordable health care services for all Canadians, regardless of their income. Publicly funded health care also enhances Canada's economic performance in several important ways.

The auto industry is Canada's most important export industry; it directly employs over 150,000 Canadians in high-wage jobs, supports hundreds of thousands of other spin-off jobs, produces $90 billion worth of shipments per year, and generates billions of dollars in tax revenues for all levels of government in Canada. The success of this industry has been crucial to Canada's economic progress over the past decade. Canada's health care system has been an important ingredient in the auto industry's performance.

Workers in the auto industry, and in the many manufacturing and service industries which supply automakers, benefit directly from access to public health care services. Thanks to this system, they are healthier and more productive. Employers in the auto industry, meanwhile, enjoy significant total labour cost savings because most health care services are supplied through public programs (rather than through private insurance plans).

The public health care system significantly reduces total labour costs for automobile manufacturing firms, compared to the cost of equivalent private insurance services purchased by U.S.-based automakers; these health insurance savings can amount to several dollars per hour of labour worked. Publicly funded health care thus accounts for a significant portion of Canada's overall labour cost advantage in auto assembly, versus the U.S., which in turn has been a significant factor in maintaining and attracting new auto investment to Canada.

Canada's publicly funded health care system is now facing demographic, technological, and fiscal pressures. The erosion of publicly funded health care through measures such as the delisting of currently-covered services, the imposition of user fees, the failure of the public system to keep up with the changing nature of health care, and new costs such as prescription drugs and home-care, will impose significant costs on automotive employers and undermine the attractiveness of Canada as a site for new automotive investment.

For both employers and workers in the auto industry, it is vitally important that the publicly funded health care system be preserved and renewed, on the existing principles of universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness, and public administration. The system needs a secure multi-year funding base from government, and must be expanded to cover an updated range of services (including prescription drugs and home care services) that reflects both the evolving nature of medical science and the emerging needs of our population.

To this end, Ford Motor Company and CAW-Canada jointly urge the federal and provincial governments to take appropriate actions to preserve the public health care system, secure its funding base, and modernize the range of services which it covers. In addition to reinforcing the quality and accessibility of health care for Canadians, these measures would also help to ensure the long-run success of Canada's auto industry.

Alain Batty President and Chief Executive Officer, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited.
Basil "Buzz" Hargrove
National President, CAW-Canada.
Emph. mine.

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