Posts Tagged ‘healthcare’
Tags: cartoon, George Bush, healthcare, Iraq, Medicaid, minimum wage, Obamacare, Republicans, rich, torture, WMDs
Tags: chart, healthcare, investment, Obamacare, Only in America, Wall Street
We’re all betting on the success of Obamacare to expand people’s access to decent, affordable healthcare. Apparently, for quite different reasons, so are investors [ht: sm].
“A new online broker, Motif Investing, is offering Obamacare’s friends and foes alike a chance to put their money where their mouth is. Co-founded by a former Microsoft executive, Hardeep Walia, and backed by Goldman Sachs and other investors, Motif allows customers to bet on narrowly tailored concepts.”
“Two of the hottest motifs right now are Obamacare and repeal Obamacare.”
“What’s most striking isn’t the performance of the two funds, but where investors are choosing to place their money … One is clearly more popular: … Motif investors have bet 45 times more money on Obamacare’s success than on its failure.”
Tags: Antonio Gramsci, healthcare, hegemony, ideology, Louis Althusser, multiculturalism, RIP, Stuart Hall
Stuart Hall, former direct of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University and professor of sociology at the Open University, has died at the age of 82.
Hall may have been known as the “godfather of multiculturalism” but, to my mind, he was much more than that. Drawing inspiration from Antonio Gramsci’s notion of hegemony and Louis Althusser’s concept of ideology, Hall was one of the most creative Marxist intellectuals of the postwar period. He joined others in breaking with both economic determinism and theoretical humanism, put a materialist cultural studies on the map, and carried out a thorough-going critique of neoliberalism (which I have written about here and here).
He was also always concerned about the current political conjuncture, as in this interview:
it’s the state of the left that strikes him as the most problematic. “The left is in trouble. It’s not got any ideas, it’s not got any independent analysis of its own, and therefore it’s got no vision. It just takes the temperature: ‘Whoa, that’s no good, let’s move to the right.’ It has no sense of politics being educative, of politics changing the way people see things.”
The examples of this are everywhere, but take as the most pressing the case of the NHS. “How can millions of people have benefited from the NHS and not be on the streets to defend it? Come on. The NHS is one of the most humanitarian acts that has ever been undertaken in peace time. The principle that someone shouldn’t profit from someone else’s ill health has been lost. If someone says an American health company will run the NHS efficiently, nobody can think of the principle to refute that. The guiding principles have been lost.” There was a study recently investigating why America, which spends more per capita on health, has worse outcomes, and the answer was quite clear: when there is a profit motive, the rich are overinvestigated, and the poor are undertreated. People die needlessly.
So there’s quite a sound pragmatic argument against private involvement in health, but Hall’s is a blistering moral statement – who would profit from someone’s ill health? What sort of person would that be? Would you trust them with your budget, let alone your health, or the health of a loved one? The moral case is not being forcefully enough put; indeed, it is not being put at all.
Here’s a link [ht: ms] to Robin Blackburn’s obituary, as well as a list of other obituaries, commentaries, and work by Stuart Hall.
Tags: agribusiness, cartoon, Congress, food stamps, Fox, healthcare, jobs, Obamacare, retirement, subsidies, work
Tags: employers, health insurance, healthcare, jobs, Obamacare, workers
Much is being made the past couple of days about the Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate [pdf] of the effects of the Affordable Care Act on jobs.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker collects some of the misleading tweets and headlines and sets the record straight: the CBO does not conclude that Obamacare is going to “kill” 2.3 million jobs. It says some workers will choose not to work or to work less, because of the increased availability of Medicaid and subsidized health insurance, to the tune of 2.3 million full-time equivalent workers. Or, as the CBO itself explained,
The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment (that is, more workers seeking but not finding jobs) or underemployment (such as part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week).
Got it? In other words, it’s an analysis of what might happen on the supply side of the labor market (the number of hours people are willing to work) not the demand side (the number of workers employers are willing to hire).*
And why is that so bad? Right now, workers are dependent on their employers to receive a wage or salary in order to purchase the necessities of life (food, clothing, and shelter), plus whatever they can put aside to make payments on their debt (think mortgages and student loans) and to save for retirement (if anything is left over)—and, of course, their healthcare (insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses). If they’re lucky, under the current system (which is not going to change under Obamacare), their employers transfer a small portion of their profits to health insurers in order to get access to the employees’ ability to work. That’s what keeps workers going back to work day after day, even when their pay is low and working conditions are awful (they need to purchase those commodities) and what makes sure employers continue to offer health insurance (to keep employees coming back to work rather than going elsewhere).
Obamacare has changed one thing: it makes workers somewhat less dependent on employers to get access to health insurance, either because they’ve become eligible for Medicaid (if they happen to live in states where Medicaid coverage has expanded) or because subsidies for low-income workers has made purchasing their own health insurance more affordable. Workers who fall into these categories—mostly at the low end of the distribution of income—are now somewhat less dependent on their employers to get access to health insurance, which makes it possible for them to offer to work shorter hours or to quit their jobs entirely.
But, remember, workers who qualify for Obamacare are still dependent on for-profit health insurers (if, that is, they don’t qualify for Medicaid) and for-profit healthcare providers (which, aside from health cooperatives and the Veterans Administration, is still the way most healthcare is provided in the United States). And they’re still dependent on working for a wage or salary to purchase everything else (as well as paying off any debts and, if they can, saving for retirement).
As a result of Obamacare, workers are a bit less dependent on employers to get access to decent healthcare. What the misleading tweets and headlines demonstrate is they want to continue workers’ complete and total dependence on their employers for everything.
*The CBO does mention that the demand for labor might also increase, as low-income workers decide to purchase more goods and services, thereby indirectly leading to an increase in the number of jobs available.
Tags: chart, health insurance, healthcare, Obamacare, United States
It’s very hard to keep up with healthcare bills if some or all members of households don’t have health insurance. But even people who have health insurance struggle to pay their bills. That’s both the promise (to expand health insurance) and limitation (private health insurance and healthcare in the United States still impose financial burdens) of Obamacare.
According to a recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics [pdf],
- Families with a mixture of coverage types within the family and families in which some or all members were uninsured were more likely to have experienced a financial burden of medical care in the past 12 months than were families in which either all members had private insurance or all members had public coverage.
- Among families in which all members had private insurance or all members had public coverage, approximately 21 percent experienced the financial burden of medical care.
- Among families in which some members had private insurance and some members had public coverage, 35.8 percent experienced the financial burden of medical care.
- Among families in which all members were uninsured, 39.7 percent experienced the financial burden of medical care.
- Among families in which some members were insured and some members were uninsured, fully 46.0 percent experienced the financial burden of medical care.
Tags: climate change, corporations, global warming, healthcare, profits
Is it the case that we’re going to be enlisted to do something about global warming now that the profits of private corporations, like Coca-Cola [ht: jh], are being threatened?
Coca-Cola has always been more focused on its economic bottom line than on global warming, but when the company lost a lucrative operating license in India because of a serious water shortage there in 2004, things began to change.
Today, after a decade of increasing damage to Coke’s balance sheet as global droughts dried up the water needed to produce its soda, the company has embraced the idea of climate change as an economically disruptive force.
“Increased droughts, more unpredictable variability, 100-year floods every two years,” said Jeffrey Seabright, Coke’s vice president for environment and water resources, listing the problems that he said were also disrupting the company’s supply of sugar cane and sugar beets, as well as citrus for its fruit juices. “When we look at our most essential ingredients, we see those events as threats.”
In the end, that’s how we got some movement in the direction of healthcare reform in the United States—when large businesses decided that escalating payments to healthcare insurers and providers were too much of a drain on profits. The deal that got struck was not single-payer or single-provider but for the government to intervene to slow the rise in healthcare costs but keep most health insurance and healthcare itself in private hands.
What deal will we see in the case of climate change?
Tags: cap-and-trade, Democrats, economics, economists, environment, healthcare, markets, neoclassical, Obamacare, Republicans
It used to be Harvard-based neoclassical economists could count on their Republican friends and allies to support their free-market policies. Now, apparently, not so much.
That’s the only explanation for why Jeffrey Frankel has to step forward and attempt to remind Republicans that market mechanisms—such as cap-and-trade and Obamacare—were their idea.
In the US, cap-and-trade was originally considered a Republican idea. Market-friendly regulation was pushed by those who thought of themselves as pro-market, rather than by those who thought of themselves as pro-regulation. . .
Republican politicians have now forgotten that this approach was ever their policy. To defeat the last major climate bill in 2009, they worked themselves into a frenzy of anti-regulation rhetoric. . .
One can draw a fascinating parallel between the evolution of American political attitudes toward market mechanisms in the area of environmental regulation and Republican hostility to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Obamacare is a market mechanism in the sense that health insurers and care providers remain private and compete against each other.
Frankel is, in fact, right. Both cap-and-trade and Obamacare came straight out of Republican think tanks, precisely in the way neoclassical economists had designed them. Then, they were the best of friends. Now, apparently, Republicans have to be reminded of that friendship.
Or scared into remembering that close relationship. Because, Frankel warns, the alternative is more government regulation.
It really is a sign of how much political and economic discourse has changed in the United States that it’s Democrats who are implementing market-based, originally Republican-designed policies. And that, even more: from the perspective of someone like Frankel, any government regulation of business (not, mind you, government ownership) can blithely be referred to as “command and control.”