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08.20 Death, blackouts, melting asphalt: ways the climate crisis will change how we live

08.20 Amazon under fire for new packaging that cannot be recycled [ALL NON-RECYCLABLE PACKAGING MUST BE ILLEGAL]

08.19 The Trump administration tried to bury a climate study on ... rice? [CO2 increase causes decrease in nutrition from rice and other crops. Trump chose to bury the story because it contradicts his ignorance.]

08.19 Give Your Yard Back to Nature

08.19 Australia is third largest exporter of fossil fuels behind Russia and Saudi Arabia

08.16 Planting the Seeds for Dramatic Changes in Agriculture [6:19 video]

08.16 Microplastics ‘significantly contaminating the air’, scientists warn

08.15 The rain in Spain: how an ancient Arabic technique saves Alicante from floods

08.15 40% of US honeybee colonies disappeared last year. This is what the world would look like without any bees at all.

08.15 Fracking Boom in US and Canada Largely to Blame for 'Massive' Rise of Global Methane Levels: Study [Will there be mass-murder criminal charges? With Trump-appointed judges allow criminal or civil-cases be fairly adjudicated?]

08.14 “Kochland” Examines the Koch Brothers’ Early, Crucial Role in Climate-Change Denial [For their gravestones, what best summarizes the vast death of life across the globe these two brothers have wrought?]

08.14 GM, VW Say They Won’t Build Hybrids Or Plug-in Hybrids, Only Battery Electric Cars

08.14 eHang Wants To Start An eVTOL Service In Guangzhou Soon [7:31 video]

08.14 Tesla Model 3 = 3rd Best Selling Vehicle In The Netherlands In July

08.14 China Is Leading The World To An Electric Future: Four Takeaways From My Recent Visit

08.14 India Approves Subsidy For 5,595 Electric Buses Across 64 Cities

08.14 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us

08.14 North Pole: multiple lightning strikes follow record-low sea ice levels

08.13 Tree-damaging pests pose ‘devastating’ threat to 40% of US forests

08.13 Playing Role of Pesticide 'Cheerleader,' EPA Rebukes Calif. With Ban on Warning Labels for Roundup

08.13 Regenerative Agriculture Is Key for a Sustainable Climate and Food System

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08.19 Media Blackout on Brazil’s Anti-Bolsonaro Protests

08.15 Why Bernie Sanders Is Absolutely Correct About the Washington Post—and Corporate Media Overall [7:51 video]

08.11 Guess who said it: Tucker Carlson or a far-right shooter [How have Fox News and similar excretory news sources become such profitable engines of hate? They foment fear of people different than ‘you’ as the problem, and sell evisceration of ‘them’ as the solution. It’s all neatly packaged to make ‘you’ feel safer.]

08.09 'What Oligarchy Looks Like': Sanders Leads 140 Lawmakers in Condemning Trump Plan to Rip Food Stamps From 3 Million Americans [Why isn't this story covered in corporate media?]

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08.20 Kamala Harris, Who Just Clarified Her Rejection of Real Medicare for All, to Snub Climate Forum in Favor of Big Donors [Bye Bye, Kamala]

08.20 'I can't breathe': NYPD fires officer who put Eric Garner in chokehold

08.20 Caged alone 24 hours a day, denied medicine: lawsuit claims 'torture' in US migrant jails [Another triumph of ignorant beliefs]

08.20 Planned Parenthood withdraws from federal program over Trump rule [Another triumph of ignorant beliefs]

08.19 America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One

08.19 America holds onto an undemocratic assumption from its founding: that some people deserve more power than others.

08.19 Sanders unveils proposal for massive overhaul of criminal justice system

08.18 Memo reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay white nationalism, blame left

08.18 In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.

08.18 The misogyny Steve King embodies is very much in the DNA of the Republican party [Society has become an embarassing...mess...from media outlets and politicians spewing outrageous hate and warped opinion.]

08.18 Trump's Statue of Bigotry is not Cuccinelli's first neo-Confederate assault [Is everyone in the Trump Administration a racist bigot?]

08.18  400 years of slavery: 400 years since slavery: a timeline of American history

08.18  400 years of racism: Portland rally: Proud Boys vow to march each month after biggest protest of Trump era [1:15 video]

Justice Matters

08.20 The supreme court's pro-gun radicalism puts us all in the crosshairs [America's Confederate cancer...]

08.16 The FBI could fight far-right violence if they wanted to – but they don't

08.15 Fracking Boom in US and Canada Largely to Blame for 'Massive' Rise of Global Methane Levels: Study [Will there be mass-murder criminal charges? With Trump-appointed judges allow criminal or civil-cases be fairly adjudicated?]

High Crimes vs. Human Rights
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

08.19 The end of capitalism has begun [3:33 video]

08.15 Military Spending: Ignoring the $738 Billion Elephant in the Room

International & Futurism

08.20 UK privately appeals to senior Australian ministers for climate action

08.18 Scott Morrison's betrayal of the Pacific was immoral – and completely unnecessary [Inaction will bring death and suffering]

08.18 ‘Our people are dying’: Australia’s climate confrontation in the Pacific

08.18 Hong Kong: hundreds of thousands join protest in pouring rain

08.18 Bangladesh fire leaves 10,000 homeless after blaze razes slum [1:19 video]

08.15 US moves to block release of Iranian vessel in Gibraltar

08.13 The Museum Is the Refugee’s Home [Think about it: refugees—excluding bad criminal types—are naturally the best new citizens because they'll fight like hell for a better life.]

08.13 Hong Kong protests: airport suspends flights for second day [0:45 video]

08.11 Trump's influence is spreading like a virus

08.11 The very idea of a united kingdom is being torn apart by toxic nationalism

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  Why Medicare Benefits Won't Fall

COMMENTARY:

Why Medicare Benefits Won’t Fall

by James Ridgeway
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation Friday, 26 March 2010

Additional analysis on what the health care legislation means for older Americans can be found on the website of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Here are a couple of key points: One is on the budget impact of the reform and why Medicare benefits won’t be cut. The other concerns private Medicare Advantage plans.For the entire statement, go here.

Despite the fear mongers’ claims, Medicare benefits will not be cut to pay for covering the uninsured. Before health reform, the federal government was projected to spend about $6 trillion on the Medicare program over the next decade. After enactment of health reform, Medicare is still projected to spend about $5.6 trillion. That means over the next 10 years about $450 billion less of American’s money will be spent on wasteful tests, haphazard treatment options, wasteful subsidies to private insurance companies and reimbursement policies that drive up costs without improving the quality of care seniors receive. The rate of growth will be trimmed by about 1.0 percent over the next 10 years, from about 6.8 percent growth rate to 5.8 percent – hardly the destruction of Medicare that opponents have claimed.

As a result, the lifespan of the Medicare Trust Fund will more than double: its solvency will be extended from 2017 to about 2026. Medicare will continue to grow to meet the needs of an expanding older population, but it will grow at a slower rate that will more closely match the growth of the rest of the economy. And because health reform is designed to slow the growth of costs in the entire health care system at the same time, seniors’ out-of-pocket costs will be trimmed without driving providers out of the Medicare program or creating other barriers to care.

While these improvements are being made, health reform also provides new tools to help crack down on the fraud in the current Medicare program. For example, by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service to share information, it will be easier to stop Medicare payments to scam artists masquerading as legitimate providers. The health reform legislation also gives the agencies more time to verify that providers are legitimate and that they have provided seniors with the wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen tanks and other lifesaving pieces of equipment that they are billing to the Medicare program. Fraud in the Medicare program hurts us all by increasing costs.

Many people worry that curtailment of the Medicare Advantage ripoff plans signals the beginning of the end, denying care to millions and–as people always warn whenever there’s government “intervention” in medicine, driving the doctors out of business. Here’s what the Committee has to say about Medicare Advantage:

Making changes in the Medicare Advantage program is another way of restoring the integrity of Medicare by reducing wasteful spending. Medicare Advantage is the privatized part of Medicare whose growth has been fueled by the massive subsidies enacted in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Medicare Advantage plans are paid on average 13 percent more per enrollee than it costs to provide comparable care in traditional Medicare. These subsidies, which cost over $11 billion in 2009 alone, are paid for by taxpayers and by all beneficiaries, whether or not they are enrolled in a private plan. It is estimated that every couple receiving Medicare, including the 75 percent in traditional Medicare, will pay about $90 in additional Part B premiums this year to subsidize those in the private Medicare Advantage plans. And although these plans provide some additional benefits, many require much higher cost-sharing from seniors for expensive services such as chemotherapy, extended hospital stays and skilled nursing home care – a shortcoming few seniors realize until they find themselves needing the service.

Despite what some are claiming, the health reform legislation does not eliminate Medicare Advantage plans or reduce the extra benefits they provide. The legislation simply phases down the exorbitant subsidies they are currently getting so their payments end up more in line with what it would cost traditional Medicare to cover the same seniors. It is up to each private insurer to decide how to absorb the reduced payments, and whether to continue providing extra benefits. The insurers who run Medicare Advantage plans cannot cut guaranteed benefits – they are required to offer all benefits covered by traditional Medicare. And under the new health reform law, they are now prohibited from charging seniors more than traditional Medicare for expensive services. They are also, for the first time, required to spend at least 85 percent of their revenue on patient care rather than profits or overhead. Finally, the legislation rewards Medicare Advantage plans that are providing high-quality care by giving them bonus payments.


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 March 29, 2010.
 

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