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Thom’s blog

Despite what you might hear on Fox So-Called News, Obamacare really is working. Uninsured rates are dropping, premiums are a lot lower than expected, and in the states that have expanded Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of working Americans now have access to free, I repeat, free healthcare. Everywhere you look, there’s good news to be found about healthcare reform. Even so, for-profit insurance companies and for-profit hospitals are still finding new ways to screw people over. For example, since insurance companies are now banned from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, they’re now trying to make money off sick people by charging them higher co-pays for drugs that they used to get for close to nothing. This practice has very real consequences for public health. As one expert told Talking Points Memo, “There’s very strong evidence…that even a $1 difference in out-of-pocket expenditures changes Americans’ behavior [regarding their use of medical services].” In other words, when drugs cost more, people don’t buy them and therefore don’t get healthy. But making sick people pay more for their drugs isn’t the only way the for-profit health industry is trying make a quick buck these days. One other scam it’s come up with is a practice called “drive-by doctoring,” where patients are charged for services they didn’t ask for and for doctors they didn’t know they needed to see. Hospitals have gotten so good at “drive-by doctoring” that most patients don’t even know it’s happening to them. As The New York Times reported this weekend, “The phenomenon can take many forms. In some instances, a patient may be lying on a gurney in the emergency room or in a hospital bed, unaware that all of the people in white coats or scrubs who turn up at the bedside will charge for their services. At times, a fully trained physician is called in when a resident or a nurse, who would not charge, would have sufficed. Services that were once included in the daily hospital rate are now often provided by contractors, and even many emergency rooms are staffed by out-of-network physicians who bill separately.” If there’s an example of everything that’s wrong with the American healthcare system, drive-by doctoring is it. Healthcare should be about taking care of people and helping them get better – not about ripping them off. But here in the U.S., ripping people off is the dominant business model. And while Obamacare has outlawed some of the worst behaviors of this business model, it will never totally prevent for-profit hospitals or insurance companies from screwing over their patients and customers. That’s because, for all the good things it does, Obamacare still lets hospitals and health insurance companies operate on a for-profit basis. And that is just absolutely insane. Think of it this way: When you create a company and register it as either a non-profit corporation or a for-profit corporation, you are defining up-front what is and what is not important to that corporation. When a hospital or health insurance company is set up as a for-profit corporation, they’re saying that its first and primary purpose is to make money. If, on the other hand, it was registered it as a non-profit corporation, then its main purpose is to actually help people, money be damned. Obviously, not-for-profit corporations, like all corporations, have their problems. But when it comes to healthcare, they really are the way to go. As long as we stick with our failed for-profit model, people like UnitedHealthCare CEO Stephen J. Hemsley will sit pretty on their $700 million in unexercised stock options and everyday people will get stuck with medical bills they’ll never be able to pay. This is just insane, and it needs to end now. It’s time for America to abandon its experiment with for-profit healthcare and follow the lead of countries like Switzerland, Sweden, and Canada that have either required health insurance companies to be non-profits or have done away with health insurance companies altogether and replaced them with a national single-payer system. The fact of the matter is that the whole American healthcare system is mind-bogglingly corrupt and needs to be reformed from the top to the bottom. Obamacare is a great start, but we could do a whole lot better. We should end the for-profit cancer in this part of our society once and for all and require hospitals and insurance companies to put people over profits by operating on an exclusively non-profit basis. – See more at: http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2014/09/profit-insanity-killing-americans#sthash.9JdxZc6x.dpuf

New Summary Plan Descriptions Mailed to Retirees

After being reassured that the Retirees Health plan remained unchanged, all of the retirees are being sent a new summary plan description which drastically alters coverages and costs to retirees.
Just an example of those changes is the prescription coverages. Where many of our prescriptions were covered at 100%, now we will pay 20% of the cost. Additionally, where many of us were on a 90%-10% plan, we are now being reduced to an 80%-20% plan. Another huge increase in costs.
The biggest, most devastating cost though is the inclusion of a $200 per person, $400 family deductible. Many of the current plans did not include a deductible.
These are the most glaring changes in the Summary Plan Description. The worst part is that most of the retirees I know, that retired before the contract negotiations, were led to believe that our healthcare package would remain unchanged.
The consistent story in these negotiations seems to be the Internationals secrecy in negotiating on our behalf.
Here’s another example!

Best Government Money Can Buy

Recently, a new meme has been making its way around the conservative blogosphere and has been picked up by those in the mainstream media. Basically, conservatives are trying to push the story that the Koch brothers are not overly influential on the political process and that labor unions spend far more in campaign contribuions and donations to political organizations than the reclusive billionaires. They’ve used data from the Center for Responsive Politics to make their case for them.

The fact is, that the CRP only shows disclosed and direct campaign contributions made by organizations, companies and individuals. On that level, the Kochs only show up as #59 overall for the past 25 years and contributed a total of $4.9 million in the previous election cycle. However, when you take into account all of the ‘dark’ money that the Kochs spent during the 2012 election, that figure
balloons to a whopping $412 million. In comparison, the top ten labor unions combined spent a total of $153 million when counting all political contributions.

Odessa Woman Wins $600,000 Verdict In Sex Discrimination Case Against UPS


Midland attorneys Holly Williams, Brian Carney secure win for former delivery driver






MIDLAND, Texas, Feb. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – A federal court jury in Midland, Texas, has awarded a $600,000 verdict against United Parcel Service (UPS) in a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by a former driver for the package-delivery giant.


The verdict represents the culmination of a four-year legal battle between Odessa resident Amber Ibarra and Atlanta-based UPS (NYSE:UPS). The company fired Ms. Ibarra in 2009 after she was involved in an on-the-job single-vehicle accident, although she argued that the accident was simply an excuse, and that she actually was fired because she is a woman. The jury agreed, awarding a six-figure verdict against UPS.


“We always felt that if we could get a jury of Amber’s peers to hear this case, to hear what happened to her, and how she was treated, we would be fine,” says Midland attorney Holly Williams of the Williams Law Firm, P.C., who represented Ms. Ibarra at trial along with attorney Brian Carney. “The jurors agreed with us that women should be treated equally in the workplace, and I believe they intended to send a message with their verdict.”


In the 2009 accident, Ms. Ibarra was driving a UPS truck when it hopped a curb and hit a telephone pole, causing no injuries. Trial witnesses testified that several male UPS drivers from the same facility in Odessa were allowed to keep their jobs despite being in far worse accidents, including two accidents involving fatalities and others involving serious injuries.


Trial testimony also showed that UPS managers gave Ms. Ibarra more packages to deliver than her male counterparts, including one incident when a manager set aside six 100-pound packages for Ms. Ibarra to deliver between 9:30 and 10 p.m. even though she was pregnant at the time.


Jurors also heard how Ms. Ibarra and other women at the Odessa facility were subjected to a pattern of repeated insults and harassment based on their gender, including testimony that male managers did not want women working at UPS based on their perception that women were weaker and slower and because they had menstrual periods.

Williams Law Firm, P.C.