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09.18 'I was horrified that children are breathing air this dirty inside the school' [if your government isn't working, change it!]

09.17 California plans to show the world how to meet the Paris climate target

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09.16 Air pollution particles found in mothers' placentas

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09.13 The Guardian view on electric cars: stopped by industry inaction [Vroom Vroom is Dumb Dumb]

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  Obama's New Plan

COMMENTARY:

Obama’s New Plan

Some think the Obama plan spells real change.

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation yesterday, 23 February 2010

...this exchange system and its supposed beneficial competition doesn’t mean lower costs. It just adds mind boggling confusion over what policies to pick.

Readers whose heads already are spinning in attempting to figure out what’s what with the President’s new health care reform scheme, might start to unravel the proposal by realizing that it essentially relies on middle class tax cuts and supposed new found competition through a system of exchanges along the lines now offered federal employees. Of course, people with no health insurance often don’t have the insurance because they don’t have the money to buy it. They need cash to purchase insurance not tax cuts in non existent or drastically reduced income. Second this exchange system and its supposed beneficial competition doesn’t mean lower costs. It just adds mind boggling confusion over what policies to pick. The exchange is like having to pick through a vast assortment of candy in a vending machine. Is a traditional Hershey bar a better deal than a bag of M&Ms? In addition, it should be remembered the federal employees are nowadays paying more for insurance, not less. Is this just another version of the game of smoke and mirrors the congress and Obama administration are laying on us?

Some think the Obama plan spells real change. Robert Greenstein, who heads the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington, DC-based think tank that tracks social safety net issues, released a statement this afternoon in support of the president’s plan.

Greenstein Makes these points:

  • It makes insurance more affordable than under the Senate bill for families and individuals with incomes... between $29,000 and $88,000 for a family of four. Most people with incomes below 133 percent of the poverty line would qualify for Medicaid, which does not charge premiums and requires only modest co-payments.
  • It extends important consumer protections to existing employer-based and individual market plans — for instance, giving enrollees the option of keeping their adult children covered under their policy until the children reach age 26, prohibiting annual and lifetime benefit limits, and, by 2018, requiring coverage of preventive services without co-payment charges.
  • It completely closes the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage (the “doughnut hole”) over the next decade.
  • It fixes shortcomings in the Senate bill’s excise tax.....the vast majority of plans would not face any tax.
  • It strengthens oversight of insurance companies, makes the “playing field” more level between firms that offer insurance and those that don’t, contains stronger mechanisms to reduce Medicare overpayments to insurance companies, adds new policies to fight fraud, waste, and abuse in both Medicare and Medicaid, and closes several egregious corporate tax loopholes.
  • It offsets the loss in revenue (relative to the Senate bill) from these excise tax changes by broadening the base of the Medicare tax — that is, by applying the tax to capital gains, dividend, and other investment income received by people with incomes of over $250,000 a year. This raises substantial revenue while affecting only about the top 2 percent of Americans.
  • It increases federal financial support for state Medicaid programs and makes that support more equitable across the states.

You can read the full statement at the web page or pdf.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found at JamesRidgeway.net and at his newest web site, Solitary Watch.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on February 24, 2010.
 



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