Tag Archives: Health Care

A remarkable indictment: The outrageous cost of childbearing in the U.S. (NY Times)

A stark report from the New York Times on the finances of childbirth shows that the United States stands alone from other developed countries, in cost and common sense. The average cost of delivery is nine times higher than in Argentina, and as the Times reports:

“From 2004 to 2010, the prices that insurers paid for childbirth — one of the most universal medical encounters — rose 49 percent for vaginal births and 41 percent for Caesarean sections in the United States, with average out-of-pocket costs rising fourfold,according to a recent report by Truven that was commissioned by three health care groups. The average total price charged for pregnancy and newborn care was about $30,000 for a vaginal delivery and $50,000 for a C-section, with commercial insurers paying out an average of $18,329 and $27,866, the report found.”

The data is shocking:

  • “In most other developed countries, comprehensive maternity care is free or cheap for all, considered vital to ensuring the health of future generations.”

  • “Ireland, for example, guarantees free maternity care at public hospitals, though women can opt for private deliveries for a fee.”

  • “The chasm in price is true even though new mothers in France and elsewhere often remain in the hospital for nearly a week to heal and learn to breast-feed, while American women tend to be discharged a day or two after birth, since insurers do not pay costs for anything that is not considered medically necessary.”

And the outcomes are an outrage:

  • “Despite its lavish spending, the United States has one of the highest rates of both infant and maternal death among industrialized nations, although the fact that poor and uninsured women and those whose insurance does not cover childbirth have trouble getting or paying for prenatal care contributes to those figures.”

Read the whole story and see if you can figure out why Americans, spurred on by lies, object to universal health care.

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The Health Care Vote Should be Easy for the Supreme Court, but…..

The New York Times continues to use its opinion pages to lay out a legal case for protecting Health Care Reform. How different is mandated health insurance from the Medicare checkoff on our pay stubs every week?

Will politicized anti-Obama justices listen to reason and solid arguments? Doubtful, but perhaps Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing voter, will.

[We note that justices Scalia and Thomas, deeply in the political bag, were feted at an anti-health care bill dinner the same day the Supremes decided to take on the case—where is the outrage?]

Harvard Law Professor Einer Elhauge was a perfect OP-Ed choice to say that the pending Supreme Court decision on health care has precedents and should be clear-cut. Elhauge is the founding director of the Petrie-Flom Center in Health Law Policy.

“The crux of the constitutional complaint against the mandate is that Congress’s ability to regulate commerce has never been understood to give it the power to force Americans to buy insurance, or anything else. But not only is there a precedent for this, there is also clear support for it in the Constitution. For decades, Americans have been subject to a mandate to buy a health insurance plan — Medicare. Check your paystub, and you will see where your contributions have been deducted, whether or not you wanted Medicare health insurance.”

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Justices Scalia, Thomas Honored at Fundraiser Sponsored by Health Care Reform Opponents | Truthout

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
A few hours after the Supreme Court justices met last Thursday, November 10, to consider hearing challenges to the national health care overhaul, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were the honored speakers at a fundraiser for a conservative legal group that was sponsored in part by health care reform opponents involved in the litigation.

Justices Scalia, Thomas Honored at Fundraiser Sponsored by Health Care Reform Opponents | Truthout.

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Health Care and US

First comes the news—The U.S. Supreme Court will decide–four months before 2012 presidential elections-whether President Obama’s health care reform measures are constitutional in whole or in part.

Next comes the frank question: Will the Supreme Court make a decision based on the merits, or will this politically divided legal entity go with the flow of its Republican-influenced majority?

The New York Times had some interesting points to make on the subject after reporting the fact. The health care bill has brought sweeping changes to the United States already that will be difficult to roll back.

The Times reports:

“No matter what the Supreme Court decides about the constitutionality of the federal law adopted last year, health care in America has changed in ways that will not be easily undone. Provisions already put in place, like tougher oversight of health insurers, the expansion of coverage to one million young adults and more protections for workers with pre-existing conditions are already well cemented and popular.
And a combination of the law and economic pressures has forced major institutions to wrestle with the relentless rise in health care costs.”

The first question at hand for the Supreme Court is to consider the fact that the bill forces people to buy health insurance. It does so in many ways as a compromise replacement for what should be in place—universal health care. But in the twisted, vested-interest, insurance-industry controlled, Republican Congress, we’re stuck with the bill we’ve got. And the same uninformed Americans who “think” that President Obama is an alien and that man never landed on the moon also buy the notion that universal health care is akin to godless communism.

That would be fine if we were talking about a loony fringe – but we’re talking about a crowd that comprises most of the Republican Party.

Another question: if one part of the bill is struck down, should the entire bill be declared unconstitutional?

Back then to the Supreme Court. What faith do we have in a humanistic outcome? Who knows. This is not quite the Rehnquist Court of November 2000 that engineered the closest thing to a coup that the United States has ever seen—throwing the presidential election to George W. Bush.

But this is a court with four stalwart Republican votes, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, and four liberal Democrats: Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. The odd man out as always is the middle-range Anthony Kennedy, who will likely decide whether health care stands and how the result plays out in the presidential election.

In a beautiful world, the choice should be on the merits. The New York Times in an editorial maps out the reality of the choices.

“This can be a highly politicized court, and, for the public good and its own credibility, it must resist that impulse. If the court follows its own precedents, as it should, this case should not be a close call: The reform law and a provision requiring most people to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty are clearly constitutional.”

Problem is that the similarly configured Renquist court did lose credibility. How will it rule this time?

Good luck to us all.

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