Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blessed Unrest

The power in a progressive movement is a beautiful thing.

There's no room for negativity, criticism and loveless perception towards any human on the planet!!

Watch this short film:

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Will Psychiatric Care Be Covered in a Single-Payer Plan?

Ah, the good old days of television.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

John Edwards On Health Care

When I saw this, I got goose bumps.

And I simultameously decided that John Edwards
is my choice for the next president.

Thank You,

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

Phialadelphia InQuire Commentary 7/23

Single-Payer is getting more and more press!! Let us celebrate the momentum
leading up to the inevitable passage of what 2/3rds of the American public
really wants!!!!!

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

COMMENTARY Philadelphia Inquirer 7/23

Make Pa. a health-care leader

By Linda Hunt Beckman

It's not news that the United States is the only industrialized
nation that does not have a universal health-care system. Millions
of people - 1.3 million of them Pennsylvanians - lack insurance.
Our health-care system is badly broken.

Gov. Rendell's health-care plan, Prescription for Pennsylvania,
was to help remedy this. Many considered the plan unworkable
because it failed to deal with the root cause of our dysfunctional
medical delivery system: the profit-driven insurance and pharmaceutical
industries. After battles with legislators over the costs, Rendell
announced recently that he was putting his plan on hold.

Two bills, Senate Bill 300 and House Bill 1660, called the Pennsylvania
Family and Business Health Care Security Act, have been introduced to
alleviate the state's health-care problems. They would provide
comprehensive health-care coverage, including dental and vision
services, long-term care and prescription drugs. All traditional
health-insurance premiums, co-pays and health-care deductibles
would be eliminated, and employers would no longer have to select
or administer company-sponsored health-care insurance. Coverage
for senior citizens would continue through Medicare.

The plan would be financed by a 10 percent employer-paid tax
on payrolls and a three percent personal income tax. These
funds would be added to money from Medicaid, Medicare, the
tobacco settlement, cigarette taxes, the Veterans Administration
and any lottery funds designated for health care. They would create
an estimated $48 billion trust to provide universal health care for

In short, health care as we know it would be replaced by a
single-payer, not-for-profit health-care system. This could
make our state a model for the rest of the country. (A bill
which would provide similar coverage for all Americans has
been stalled in Congress since 2005.)

A publicly financed health-care system would allow doctors
and hospitals to drastically reduce administrative overhead,
eliminate waste and provide substantial savings for business.
Compensation for medical malpractice claims would be provided
through a no-fault system that gives patients reasonable settlements.
The state health-care trust would be sued, not individual
providers, although doctors and patients could opt to keep
their tort rights.

The care provided under this program would not fit the notion
that Americans have of "socialized medicine." We would have to
overcome these objections:

Increased taxes. It is true that our taxes would increase,
but we no longer would have to pay premiums, co-pays, or
out-of-pocket expenses. Few of us resent spending for police
and fire departments, schools, libraries, and highways. This
would be the same kind of spending.

Waiting lists. Government financing of health care does not
cause waiting lists for elective surgery; they result from
specific flaws in health-care systems. France, Austria, and
Japan, among other countries, have created health-care models
that are superior to Canada and the United Kingdom (good as
theirs are in many ways). Better-funded, the former countries
have no waits for elective surgery.

Impersonal care. Some say government-managed health care
is impersonal. If the Family and Business Health Care Security
Act is passed, it would not change how health care is delivered,
only how it is financed. People would continue to choose their
own doctors. For example, in 2001, while visiting Austria, a
country with universal health care, I fell ill. A friend took
me to the physician she had seen all her life. Nothing could
have felt less bureaucratic.

Our state could become the cradle of liberty once again.
Let's make Pennsylvania a leader in liberating health care
from dysfunction and from myths. I urge you to call your
legislators and tell them you stand behind the Family and Business Health Care Security Act.

Linda Hunt Beckman (beckman5@verizon.net) lives and writes in Philadelphia.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Common Objections To Single Payer Health Care In America

1) The government can't run anything. I don't trust the

The current gang in Washington may be a good reason not to
the government to do ANYTHING right.

However, Medicare and Social Security are good examples
of systems
that run well and on time. People receive their checks the
time every month and health care is provided: on time.

2) I'm a free market person and don't want any part of
Single Payer Insurance is defined as a single government
fund with each state
which pays hospitals, physicians and other health care
providers, thus replacing
the current multi-payer system of private insurance

It would provide coverage for the fifty million people who
are uninsured.

It would eliminate the financial threat and impaired
access to care for tens of
millions who do not have coverage and are unable to afford
the out-of-pocket
expenses because of deficiencies in their insurance plans.

It would return to the patient free choice of health care
provider and hospitals,
not the choice that only the restrictive health plans

It would relieve businesses of the administrative hassle
and expense of maintaining
a health benefits program.

It would remove from the health care equation the
middleman—the managed care
industry—that has broken the traditional doctor-patient
relationship, while diverting
outrageous amounts of patient care dollars to their own

It would control health care inflation through
constructive mechanisms of cost
containment that improve allocation of our health care
resources, rather than
controlling costs through an impersonal business ethic
that robs patients of care
so as to increase profits for the privileged few. Single
Payer Universal Health
Care would provide access to high quality care for
everyone at affordable prices.

3) Canadians have long waiting periods and come to the
U.S. for their health care
needs. Therefore, such a plan would make for waiting
periods in the U.S.

First of all, ask almost any Canadian if they would trade
our system for theirs.
The answer is a resounding "NO."

They may have to wait for elective surgeries, for
instance, but
we have to wait for these kinds of surgeries, as well.

Canadians have the option to buy extra coverage to get
heroic measures covered,
say in the case of Cancer treatment.

At 9% of their GDP, they are spending much less than we
are as a nation.
We, the wealthiest nation on earth, spend 14 % of our GDP.

4) Our country cannot afford to insure everyone.

Our country already has enough funds dedicated to health
care to provide the
highest quality of care for everyone. Studies have shown
that under a single
payer system, comprehensive care can be provided for
everyone without
spending any more funds than are now being spent.

Not only do we have more than sufficient funds, we are
also a nation that is infamous
for our excess health care capacity. Typical of these
excesses is the fact that there
are more MRI scanners in Orange County, CA than in all of

With our generous funding and the tremendous capacity of
our health care delivery
system, the delays would not be a significant limiting
factor in the U.S.

5) Americans do not want "Socialized Medicine."

Socialized medicine is a system in which the government
owns the facilities,
and the providers of care are government employees.

In sharp contrast, a single payer system uses the existing
private and public
sector health care delivery systems, preserving private
ownership and employment.
The unique feature of a single payer system is that all
health care risks
are placed in a universal risk pool, covering everyone.
The pool is funded in
a fair and equitable manner so that everyone pays their
fair share in taxes,
unlike our current defective system in which some pay far
too much while others
are not paying their share. The funds are allocated
through a publicly
administered program resulting in optimum use of our
health care dollars.

A single payer system has no more in common with
socialized medicine than our
current Medicare program.

Socialism is a dirty word in this country. Universal
health care for all has
been equated with socialism, and much propaganda has been
communicated by the
press, by right wing politicians, by medical groups such
as the AMA or anyone
else who has an agenda to keep the 1500 plus health
insurance companies a
thriving market with profits that undoubtedly help to pay
for their agendas.

6) A Universal Single-Payer would lower the standard of
care to a level of
mediocrity for everyone, preventing the affluent from
exercising his or her
option to obtain the highest level of care.

Our current system is characterized by essentially two
either no insurance with severely impaired access to even
a mediocre level of care,
or being insured by a managed care industry that has
whittled down what is
available until mediocrity has become the standard of
care. Only the relatively
affluent have access to unlimited care.

The generous level of funds that we have already dedicated
to health care,
adding to this a more efficient administration with an
exclusive mission of
optimum patient care well above the mediocrity that we now
have, lays the foundation
for a universal health care system in America.

A single payer system does not preclude the affluent from
paying, outside the
system, for a penthouse suite in the hospital, or for
cosmetic surgery or for
any other service that would not be part of a publicly
funded program.

But if Americans knew the truth, and would turn off their
TVs and use that time
instead to change this country, using the power of
grassroots politics, to make
a single payer universal system a reality for all, then we
would finally have
the best health care system in the world.

Any group with the passion to change the world, one issue
at a time, with a
loving intent, can do it.

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Health Care & The Common Good

Steve's letter to the editor, published today in the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal:


Questioning the questioning of poverty statistics

In his letter, "Questioning statistics on poverty" (Intell, July 2), P. Melville Nafziger makes several comments about the health care crisis that are either uninformed or intentionally misleading.

Nafziger doubts there are 45 million uninsured and wonders whether they are all U.S. citizens. Yes, that figure is for legal citizens and it is actually closer to 50 million since about one million a year have been added to the ranks of the uninsured since the turn of the century.

That doesn't include the millions more with insurance who are often denied treatment because of the propensity of insurance companies to use every conceivable trick to avoid paying medical costs.

Nafziger claims Canadian stroke or heart attack victims wait for months for necessary treatment and Canadians are dying waiting for services.

This is not true. Either he is making this up or he is repeating propaganda from the insurance industry and right-wing think tanks.

All Canadians in need of immediate medical attention receive it promptly regardless of their ability to pay. Others wait no longer to see a specialist than we do in the United States. The vast majority of Canadians would not trade their health care system for ours.

We stand alone among industrialized nations in not providing universal health care. People in other civilized countries wonder what is wrong with us that we treat our fellow citizens so poorly.

Whereas other countries understand that upholding the common good is vital for a healthy democracy and have a collective attitude, we seem to be stuck in hyper-individualism and selfishness.

Recognizing health care as a fundamental right is not communism or socialism, it is simply basic decency.

Steven Jones, Landisville

Friday, July 13, 2007

RFK JR At Live Earth

RFK JR tells the audience at Live Earth last weekend that "good environmental
policy is identical to good economical policy."

Here's the link to this moving speech.

Have a great weekend!!

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Forget the Environment; Forget Health Care; Drop Everything...

Because the world is ending.

Here's the subject for P4P's next forum:


Via David Neiwert and The SPLC.

What are Donna and Larry Smith Doing Now??

Dear Friends,

After watching Sicko for the second time, I wondered what happened to all the people Michael Moore had in the film?

And since yesterdays post written by Donna Smith, I found this, written by a member of the California Nurses Association, bringing us up-to-date on the lives of Donna and Larry Smith.

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

Colorado couple examined in 'Sicko'
By Erika Gonzalez
Rocky Mountain News
June 29, 2007

Six months ago, Larry and Donna Smith didn't even have a bed to sleep on.

Mounting medical bills not covered by their insurance, combined with high
insurance premiums and expensive medication, forced the couple to move
from South Dakota into a crowded storage room in their daughter's modest
Aurora home. Two years earlier, the Smiths had filed for bankruptcy to
deal with the debt they accumulated during Donna's treatment for uterine
cancer and Larry's heart problems and artery disease.

But the bills kept piling up, especially after Larry had his third bypass
surgery in February 2006. So, when the Smiths' six children urged them
to relocate to Colorado (where four of them reside), they finally conceded.
And filmmaker Michael Moore was there to document the move.

"When they (the producers) called to ask if they could film the process,
I said I didn't care at that point. I was so demoralized," said Donna Smith.

The Smiths are among many Americans featured in Moore's new film, Sicko,
which examines America's ailing health-care system.

The couple's trip to the big screen started last year when Donna Smith
answered a call on Moore's Web site asking people to share their
health-care stories.

"I just thought it was one of many stories they would hear, and I
would be added to the list," remembers Smith.

But producers talked to Smith and her husband several times over the course
of the year. The footage of the couple's move to Colorado is one of the
earliest scenes in the film. In January, the Smiths and other Americans
traumatized by problems with the health-care system (including several 9/11
rescue workers) were asked to go to Cuba to compare the country's health
system with what's available in America. Though Larry Smith was too sick
for the trip, Donna opted to go.

"I just thought that it was worth trying," said Smith, who also suffers
from sleep apnea and asthma.

Smith said she was amazed by the facilities and care she received in
the island nation. Doctors there performed a complete medical evaluation.
They gave her an eye exam and new glasses. They conducted a sleep study
for her apnea, the first study she'd had in nine years because insurance
wouldn't cover the treatment. They reduced the number of medications she
takes daily from nine to four, eliminating a beta blocker harmful to asthmatics
and a steroid nasal spray that was no longer effective.

"There was a difference in the mentality about care, and I did not expect
this gut-level, emotional tearing-apart feeling I got," says Smith. "I had
these feelings of sadness for us that we somehow convinced ourselves that
health care is something we have to pay for. It hurt so bad to think back
on signing all these payment plans before surgery and doing whatever we had to do to get care."

That trip, however, sparked an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department,
which is determining whether Moore violated the U.S. trade embargo restricting
travel to Cuba - a charge that surprises Smith.

"If our government didn't know we were going, it wasn't for lack of people
telling them," says Smith, who carried a passport, a Cuban visa and an American
visa with her during the trip.

She also said that Moore required an "amazing" amount of paperwork from the
film's participants to back up their health care and insurance issues.

Says Smith: "I always get frustrated when people accuse Michael Moore of not
telling an accurate story because, from our perspective, the fact-checking
got to the point where it was annoying."

Smith is prepared for fallout from the film, especially from Moore detractors.
She says she's already heard some negative comments from friends and acquaintances.
In response, Smith simply asks people to see the film.

"The position they'll eventually reach is this is not a partisan film.
This film does not seek to make a Democratic or Republican point," says Smith.

In the meantime, Smith and her husband have kept busy jetting off to premieres
and talking to media about the movie. And they've been a bit overwhelmed by
their red-carpet experiences.

"We were not ready to pull up in front of a theater in Manhattan in a limousine
and have a dispatcher call to tell them we were arriving," laughs Smith.
"There were a hundred cameras flashing, and we held on real tight to each other.
We must have said, 'Oh my God,' a hundred times."

Though the Smiths seem to be living like celebrities, Donna Smith stresses
that the couple received no compensation for participating in the film.
They are still struggling financially but have made some important strides recently.

Smith, who quit her job as a newspaper editor when she moved last year, landed a
full-time, permanent position in April, allowing her to shed her $400-a-month
COBRA plan. And last month, the Smiths moved out of their daughter's home and
into a two-bedroom apartment in Aurora.

Smith hopes one day to emerge from bankruptcy and become a homeowner again.
She says Sicko has renewed her spirit by connecting her with other Americans
who've experienced similar health-care horrors. She's also had the opportunity
to talk with people who have the power to change the system and will testify
in front of Congress next month about the many benefits of affordable health care.

"I think a new world is opening for me. I feel hopeful that I can try again
to get back involved in life and come out of this period of real darkness
and start building back out of that," she says energetically. "On a movie
screen in Manhattan (last) Monday night, I started to reclaim my life."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

No Whitewash Powerful Enough

Donna Smith appeared in Sicko. This is a blog entry of hers
that appeared on the Sicko Blog.

Also in Sicko news, Pennsylvania Capitol Blue Cross of Anita Smith fame,
is actively attempting to discredit the film, knowing that public
perception of the Health Insurance industry is sure to plummet.

Couldn't plummet fast enough for me, that's for sure.

Kate Loving Shenk
Nursing Career Transformation

No Whitewash Powerful Enough

By Donna Smith, proud American appearing in Michael Moore's

ATLANTA – It would be difficult to identify one moment over
the past two weeks as the most powerful or moving. As my
husband and I have traveled through the U.S. participating
in premieres and screenings of Michael Moore’s new film,'SiCKO,'
we have experienced things that folks in our income range and
social groups rarely do.

We have been graciously included in events often closed
to all but the most celebrated of celebs.

Michael Moore featured us in the film because we represent
what is happening to so many Americans. Our health issues and
health care costs drove us to bankruptcy and shame. The past
several years have been filled with anguish, and the joy of
watching this film begin to make an impact is healing for us.

But a few days ago in Atlanta, I found myself witness to
and participant in a health care truth hearing sponsored
by HealthCare-Now at the U.S. Social Forum. That hearing
illuminated more truth – more stories – many like those shown
in 'SiCKO'. But the hearing also made it abundantly clear that
no amount of slick advertising or marketing whitewash can cover
up what Americans are enduring within this private health care
system. The truth just cannot be hidden.

Listening to story after story about trauma and devastation
suffered by fellow Americans who are uninsured or under-insured
is difficult, even sickening. The moral issues cannot be avoided.
And as Michael Moore asks in 'SiCKO,' “Who are we?”

But I also began to see a broader view of the whole private health
care issue within one story told by a nearly toothless woman
from Ohio. Though her speech was definitely impaired by her
lack of teeth, she spoke with courage and without self-pity
which might have been easier and certainly justified.

She had health insurance just a couple of years ago through her
job. She worked, paid taxes and paid her health premiums. But
when her dental problems became more and more serious, her
insurance plan would not cover necessary treatment. It did
cover removal of teeth. So, slowly but surely, her teeth were pulled.

She stood before us now in an open-air tent in the hot, thick,
mid-day air in Atlanta. Huge fans circulated the air and could
have drowned out her voice, but the crowd was silent and her strength
was enough to overcome the background noise.

She told us that after her teeth were pulled, her employer
fired her because she was “unsightly.” We gasped, but only
in support of her not because we didn’t believe a modern
American company would do such a thing. She told us that then
she started down the steady slope towards homelessness and use of
the public health system that included emergency room visits for
health issues that might have been handled in a less acute and
less expensive setting, if she had insurance or cash to use
another provider.

This beautiful, powerful woman had been reduced to this. And she
had most surely been yanked off the roles of taxpaying Americans
and onto the public program rosters. How does this make even economic sense?

She goes from contributor to being a “drain” on the system nearly
overnight. And as she slipped into deep poverty and homelessness,
she also developed physical problems from her terrible living conditions
and a lack of preventative or even early interventional health care.

Another scenario for her could have been, if we had universal health care,
that she had her dental problems addressed properly and her teeth saved,
kept her job and her modest housing, continued paying taxes and eventually
moved forward in her life. Even if I remove all the hideous, non-compassionate
ethical considerations, it just flat seems smarter to me that we stop this cycle.

Every American product now includes in its cost a certain percentage
of mark-up for health costs and coverage provided by American businesses.
On large ticket items, like cars, that cost increase can often be several
hundred dollars. Since most Americans finance the purchase of cars, they
now also pay interest on the amount that the car manufacturer must pass
along in health care costs for its employees.

Those costs have mounted in every industry across the nation. In many cases,
those increased costs are making American products and services less
competitive thereby driving the increased dependence on foreign products
and the loss of American jobs. This cycle is well-documented. Every major
news organization has done reports on the issue, and few arguments countering
this cause-effect economic pattern have been offered.

Small businesses can often not afford to even offer health coverage at
all or offer only plans with high premiums and deductibles which are more
like catastrophic coverage.

So this whole private health insurance system is costing us all – top
to bottom, morally and economically.

So why do we keep it up? Do we see those toothless individuals and
still think, “It couldn’t happen to me?” Or do we step over them on
our way to our American dreams, still believing we did it the right
way and they did it wrong? Poor people have poor ways, don’t you know.

After sitting in that hot tent in Atlanta and listening to this woman
with more dignity than any person I’ve yet to meet on this marvelous
journey toward changing this system, I realized that this fight will
take much more than a call for moral justice or outrage.

The battle to pass House Resolution 676, single-payer, universal health care,
as offered by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and 75 other co-sponsors, will
take moral indignation, no doubt.

But the fight for universal health care will also take a tearing at
the very fabric of the American psyche – that independent streak that
makes us pioneers and homesteaders and internet start-up gurus.

We all grew up with this gut full of self-righteousness, lightly colored
with compassion as we attended church each Sunday. But now we need
to flip-flop the equation a bit.

We’ll need economists on board to really compare the costs of the
whole package: including a very direct assessment of how universal
health care would play out in an average family’s budget and in the
budget’s of the SUV-driving, three-car-garage in the suburbs owning

Let’s get really down to the nuts and bolts of the reality. Toothless,
unemployed, uninsured women cost us serious money. If we cannot see her
pain and see her humanity, then can we at least run the numbers?

As for me, I don’t need to run the numbers. I see the costs for her.
I feel the costs for myself in the lack of self-respect I feel when
I realize I am part of the system that is doing this to her and hundreds
of thousands of others. And I know that I never again want to hear a
fellow American woman stand before me apologizing for her lisp due to
a loss of teeth and assuring me that she once had a beautiful smile.

That cost is simply unacceptable on any level. There is no political
spin fast enough or whitewash dense enough to cover this American woman’s truth.

Labels: Atlanta, Donna Smith, HealthCare-Now, HR676, SiCKO, Universal Healthcare, US Social Forum

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sicko, Partie Deux

As I write this, I'm thinking to myself: "Take two aspirin and wait until morning; you'll feel better then."

First, on a lighter note: P4P had an online discussion recently about the film Harold & Maude. We talked about the good soundtrack by Cat Stevens, including the fact that two of Stevens' songs were written expressly for, and were available (for a long time) only in, that film. So what song does Michael Moore play over the closing credits? "Don't Be Shy" -- one of the two songs written just for Harold & Maude. Moore has a good ear when it comes to music in his films.

Second, having seen Sicko this morning, I'd have to agree with what Kate said: it's got to be one of the best documentaries ever, but it's also 'terrifying.'

I think the ad in the local rag quoted the NY Times review saying it was, "Michael Moore's funniest film." That I would disagree with; although Moore's trademark humor shines through on numerous occasions, my overall reaction to the movie was one of great sadness.

Sadness not just for the people whose suffering the film highlights, nor for the millions of Americans in the same situation, nor sadness for the fact that we, as a country, could do so much better -- but rather a sadness that, more probably, we never will do better. A sadness that, as Kate pointed out, was probably part of some Law Of Unintended Consequences that Moore didn't foresee.

There's a scene in the movie where Moore asks a French doctor if he thinks Americans will ever have universal health care. The doctor thinks for a second, then says simply, "No." At first I chuckled, but soon after that, I felt a real, palpable depression settle in over me and I haven't been able to shake it. I've no doubt, as Moore points out, that Americans mean well. I just don't know if they'll be willing to pay attention long enough, and push hard enough, to make the social changes we need to make.

I'm hoping the aspirin and a good night's sleep will give me a rosier perspective in the morning.

In the meantime, there's always the re-broadcast of Larry King's Paris Hilton interview tonight... Or maybe I'll do some online research about getting my passport.