Health Coverage Saved Lives in Massachusetts

BOSTON — The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say.

The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people — fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.

NY Times

People Hating Obamacare

From Andrew J Ross in SF Chronicle

Despite the glitches, more than 500,000 Californians have visited Covered California in its first couple of days, and hundreds of thousands more across the country, in red states and blue – far more than expected – signed on with the new health insurance marketplaces, a core element of Obamacare.

Which would appear to make notions of “defunding,” “delaying” or otherwise ripping out the heart of the 3 1/2-year-old Affordable Care Act quaintly absurd.

That includes in Kentucky – home to avowedly pro-repeal GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul – where thousands have already enrolled in new insurance plans, along with more than 100,000 others checking out the offerings.

Health Care For All

Bernie Sanders:

Obamacare is ‘A Good Republican Program’:

Sen. Sanders said Tuesday that the health care reform law doesn’t go nearly far enough and reiterated his support of a single-payer, Medicare-for-all universal health care program. The U.S. is the “only nation in the entire industrial world that doesn’t guarantee health care as a right,” Sanders said on CNN’s Crossfire. He called the Affordable Care Act a “good Republican program,” referring to the Massachusetts program by former governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

And the folks in the country of Ted Cruz’ birth, Canada, just don’t get his mania….

When you’re being forced to endure another rabid Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) soliloquy on Obamacare’s threat to human freedom, it’s easy to forget how absurd our health-care debate seems to the rest of the civilized world. That’s why it’s bracing to check in with red-blooded, high testosterone capitalists north of the border in Canada — business leaders who love Canada’s single-payer system (a regime far to the “left” of Obamacare) and see it as perfectly consistent with free market capitalism.

Nuns of the Bus Tell it in Texas

Always like a good story about a demonstration trying to bring dignity and power to the down and out…


The Nuns on the Bus, a touring group of activist Catholic nuns, arrived at the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, to demonstrate alongside more than 400 others who support the expansion of Medicaid in that state to help the poor. According to the Associated Press, the purpose of the rally was to urge lawmakers to pass a state law that would add more than 1 million working poor people to the Medicaid rolls.

Romney: No One in America Dies Because He is Uninsured (sic!)

Every time I think about the GOP position on healthcare I go immediately to the bottom line — the gutter.  Is that what you do for those who run out  their voucher allocation?  Now it turns out the Romney has the same socialized approach as W Bush — go to the emergency care!

I’ve been in public hospital emergency care and whatever the law is, or the good doctors’ intent to provide adequate care, It Cannot Happen!  In my case I arrived at 2 a.m. to SF General after an altercation with a thief in the back seat of my cab.  My right hand seemed broken.  Basically, “take a number.”  I think someone brought ice.  At 7 am I went home.  I slept.  I came back at 1 pm.  Surprise!  My number was called in 20 minutes.  The hand was broken.  I got a cast.  Went off, and drove my shift that night.

This is a far far cry from the treatment I  received from the socialized Kaiser Permanente system for a recent total hip replacement: computerized records; each specialist can see what the others have seen, and judged; months of blood draws recorded; appointments made for me, and followed up.  Emergency?  [I had one!] That staff is there for actua,. unpredictable emergencies, not those which are the predictable end of no appointments, no care and ultimately a sense that no one does care.

For Romney, however, apparently Emergency Rooms — which he must oppose on principle, as catering to the “takers” not the “makers,” are a synonym for Health Care:

Last week, speaking to The Columbus Dispatch, Mr. Romney declared that nobody in America dies because he or she is uninsured: “We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.” This followed on an earlier remark by Mr. Romney — echoing an infamous statement by none other than George W. Bush — in which he insisted that emergency rooms provide essential health care to the uninsured.

These are remarkable statements. They clearly demonstrate that Mr. Romney has no idea what life (and death) are like for those less fortunate than himself.

Even the idea that everyone gets urgent care when needed from emergency rooms is false. Yes, hospitals are required by law to treat people in dire need, whether or not they can pay. But that care isn’t free — on the contrary, if you go to an emergency room you will be billed,

Krugman goes on: there’s no real question that lack of insurance is responsible for thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of excess deaths of Americans each year. But that’s not a fact Mr. Romney wants to admit, because he and his running mate want to repeal Obamacare and slash funding for Medicaid — actions that would take insurance away from some 45 million nonelderly Americans, causing thousands of people to suffer premature death. And their longer-term plans to convert Medicare into Vouchercare would deprive many seniors of adequate coverage, too, leading to still more unnecessary mortality.


Or perhaps, to be perfectly cynical, cutting the non-wealthy from healthcare, and letting them die in the gutters is in fact the plan.  47% of takers and moochers must be a tremendous drag on the wealth that could be generated without them

Related: Nick Kristoff: A Possibly Fatal Mistake

Update:  From a physician about how Romney’s emergency room back up is far far from healtcare…



Romney Clarification: Pre Existing Conditions? Forget Medical Care

Don’t know how many voters there are with pre-existing medical conditions, and no medical care, but they should be voting en-mass against Mitt Romney


In a Sunday interview, Mitt Romney spoke out for a popular provision in the Affordable Care Act that guarantees coverage for people with preexisting conditions. But his campaign later clarified that he  … he wasn’t signaling a shift in policy and was instead referring to his existing stance in favor of protections on preexisting conditions only for those with continuous insurance coverage — not for first-time or returning buyers.


Buying Health Care is NOT Like Buying Lettuce

From Krugman:



I’ve spent most of the day with a parent in the hospital; and my thoughts turned to the GOP platform, which boasts that

Our reform of healthcare will empower millions of seniors to control their personal healthcare decisions.

If you’ve ever been in this situation — and I assume that many readers have — you’ll understand what I mean by saying that empowering seniors to “control their personal healthcare decisions” is very definitely not what you want right then (or what they would want ex ante).

It’s really amazing how this notion of patients as consumers, just like people buying furniture or gardening supplies, has taken hold; anyone with the least experience of actual medical situations, which means almost everyone, has to know how totally unrealistic it is

Single Payer to the Rescue

“In 2009 when the Washington beltway was tied up with the health care reform tussle, Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the all powerful Senate Finance Committee, said everything was on the table–except for single payer. When doctors, nurses and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, Baucus had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, “We need more police.”

Yet when Senator Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in Libby, Montana, and surrounding Lincoln County, he turned to the nation’s single payer healthcare system, Medicare, to solve the problem.”

Read All —Stunning

Class War in Texas

This is the way the greatest country in the world treats its poor.  The Republican controlled legislature in Texas already has several mentions in the National Hall of Shame.  They are working towards having a wall all of their own.

Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Carlos, an impoverished town in South Texas, for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer.

But the clinic closed in October, along with more than a dozen others in the state, after financing for women’s health was slashed by two-thirds by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close — and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions — supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight against abortion.

It then goes on to say

As the case in Texas illustrates, such battles are affecting broader women’s health services. Some women have lost the only nearby clinic providing routine care.

Nationally, the newest target is Title X, the main federal family planning program. All four Republican presidential candidates support eliminating Title X, which was created in 1970 with Republican support from President Nixon and the elder George Bush, then a congressman.