Category Archives: health care

US Capitalism Redistributing Wealth ‘Upward’

Nine Economic Facts That Will Make Your Head Spin

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
Beaver County Blue via

Feb 18, 2013  |  How much will you need for medical expenses in retirement? What does it cost to keep 2.5 million Americans behind bars? Here are a few facts and figures that might surprise you.

1. Recovery for the rich, recession for the rest.

Economic recovery is in rather limited supply, it seems. Research by economist Emmanuel Saez shows that the top 1 percent has enjoyed income growth of over 11 percent [3] since the official end of the recession. The other 99 percent hasn’t fared so well, seeing a 0.4 percent decline in income.

The top 10 percent of earners hauled in 46.5 percent of all income in 2011, the highest proportion since 1917 – and that doesn’t even include money earned from investments. The wealthy have benefitted from favorable tax status and the rise in stock prices, while the rest have been hit with a continuing unemployment crisis that has kept wages down. Saez believes this trend will continue in 2013.

2. Half of us are poor or barely scraping by.

The latest Census Bureau data shows that one in two Americans currently falls into either the “low income” category or is living in poverty. Low-income is defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level. Adjusted for inflation, the earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have dropped from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000. Earnings for the next 20 percent have been stuck at $37,000.

States in the South and West had the highest proportion of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, where politicians are eagerly shredding the social safety net.

Continue reading US Capitalism Redistributing Wealth ‘Upward’

If Obama’s Health Plan Goes Down, Then What?

In Health Care, Give the People What They Want: Medicare for All

By Robert Scheer
Common Dreams

June 21, 2012 – The nutty thing about the health care debate that will play a prominent role in the next election is that most Americans want pretty much the same outcome: to control costs without sacrificing quality. And that’s not what either major-party candidate is offering.

Few think that Obamacare, a Romneycare descendant that contains the same kind of individual mandate the then-governor of Massachusetts signed into law, will get us to that desired goal. Nor would Mitt Romney, who has been reborn as a celebrant of the old, pre-Obama system with a few nips and tucks.

As the nation awaits a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Obama health care approach, a new Associated Press-GfK poll suggests that the vast majority of Americans want Congress to come up with a better plan. They know that the current system is unsustainable. Only a third of those polled favored the law President Barack Obama signed, but according to the AP, “whatever people think of the law, they don’t want a Supreme Court ruling against it to be the last word on health care reform.” The article continued, “More than three-fourths of Americans want their political leaders to undertake a new effort, rather than leave the health care system alone if the court rules against the law, according to the poll.”

Continue reading If Obama’s Health Plan Goes Down, Then What?

Aliquippa’s 1937 J&L Workers Come Up In Supreme Court Wrangling Once Again—This Time Over Health Care

Ten Steelworkers, Five Justices, and the Commerce Clause

By Amy Davidson
The New Yorker

If there had been Twitter, instead of news tickers, in February, 1937, reporters and other observers would have been using it to follow the arguments before the Supreme Court in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.

It was the central case of five, argued in one extraordinary round, which challenged the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act.

The J. & L. dispute involved ten steelworkers who had been fired from the company’s Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, mills for trying to organize a union. As with this week’s hearings on the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, those deliberations were being watched with an anxiety that extended well beyond any concern for the protagonists in the suit, or even the law in question, to an entire vision of government.

Jones & Laughlin and its companion cases involved the Commerce Clause, the constitutional conductor for a whole orchestra of New Deal programs and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s more urgent efforts to pull the country out of the Great Depression. (It gives Congress the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.”) The post-1937 conception of the Commerce clause has, as Jeffrey Toobin noted yesterday, become an assumed part of any number of government efforts today; it is the defense for challenges to the individual mandate but also to other aspects of the A.C.A., like provisions protecting people with preëxisting conditions.

Continue reading Aliquippa’s 1937 J&L Workers Come Up In Supreme Court Wrangling Once Again—This Time Over Health Care

How To Deal Seriously with Health Costs

Save Lives and Money by

Expanding Medicare to All

By Dr. Quentin Young
Beaver County Blue via Fire Dog Lake

July 31, 2011 – With media attention focused on the debt-ceiling drama in Washington, and with so many Americans rightly preoccupied with the frightening level of joblessness and bleak state of the economy, it might seem strange to urge a national celebration of Medicare’s 46th anniversary this Saturday, July 30.

After all, if we’re to believe top lawmakers, Medicare is part of the problem, right? Aren’t we supposed to be talking about raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67, reducing benefits, increasing seniors’ co-pays and deductibles or, even more dire, abolishing the program altogether and handing seniors vouchers to buy private insurance?

Wrong. Despite its market-obsessed detractors and those who would weaken the program in the name of deficit reduction, Medicare is the solution, not the problem. More precisely, an improved Medicare for all – a single-payer health system – is the right prescription for treating not only our health care woes, but our ailing economy as well.

How so?

The biggest albatross around the neck of our health care system is the private insurance industry, which remains firmly entrenched under the new federal health law.

Continue reading How To Deal Seriously with Health Costs

Braddock: UPMC Wrecking Working-Class Health Care

Braddock Fights for its Hospital

By Kay Tillow
Unions for Single Payer

Oct.17, 2010 – Braddock, the home of many a working class battle, now fights to save its hospital, the best building in town, from the wrecker’s ball. Braddock, Pennsylvania, the site of the US Steel’s Edgar Thompson Works, lies along the north bank of the Monongahela just up the river from Pittsburgh.

Braddock’s story is repeated across the country as mills close and once thriving working class communities are deserted by the hospitals they built. The people of Braddock are saying “no” to the gigantic University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) as it builds in wealthy areas while closing the hospitals where they are needed most–Braddock, Aliquippa, Southside.

The people of Braddock are fighting back. With the help of the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare they organized “Save Our Community Hospitals” (SOCH). In an effort to stop the demolition they are maintaining a vigil at the hospital and seeking legal proceedings to block it. They won a victory when the demolition was halted by an invalid permit.

UPMC, an $8 billion corporation, now occupies the former US Steel building that dominates the Pittsburgh Skyline. In recent years UPMC has established itself as a global enterprise with overseas ventures in Sicily and Ireland. UPMC just announced a $16 million advertising and branding campaign with a new warm and fuzzy purple logo. It has plenty of money to keep the Braddock Hospital open.

SOCH urges supporters to call UPMC CEO, Jeffrey Romoff to demand that the hospital be saved and emergency service be restored to Braddock.

Romoff’s number is: 412-647-3555

The passage of HR 676, national single payer health care, would end the flight of hospitals and health care away from urban centers and hard hit areas that have lost manufacturing jobs. HR 676 would be publicly funded making everyone an “equally valuable” patient stopping the economic incentives that now close hospitals and physicians offices.

After you call Jeff Romoff, call your congressperson and urge co-sponsorship for HR 676.

Kay Tillow
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care–HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217


Beaver County’s Big Knob Fair Meets the Peace and Jobs Movement

Lessons Learned at the

Big Knob Grange Fair


By Randy Shannon and Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

The Big Knob Grange Fair, held Aug. 30 through Sept. 4 up in the lovely rolling hills above Rochester, PA, a distressed mill town at the confluence of the Beaver and Ohio rivers, is a “big doin’s’ in Beaver County, and has been for 70 years or so.

It features blue grass and country rock bands, tractor and truck ‘pulls,’ a demolition derby, dozens of rides for kids, booths for local politicians, hunting clubs, garden clubs, home improvement vendors, and local artisans. The Grange members serve delicious home-cooked food, display prize-winning livestock, fowl, and garden produce. The oldest and the latest in farm equipment are also on display. In recent years, the Fair draws from 30,000 to 40,000 semi-rural farmers and blue-collar workers with their families, and a horde of young people, and this year, with glorious weather, was no different.

This year the Fair had a new feature co-sponsored by Beaver County Peace Links and the 4th CD Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. Near the middle of the big striped circus tent was a table with a large banner hanging behind it: ‘War Is Making You Poor!’ Many of the hundreds of passersby on any one of the five days stopped and did a double take. Some ambled on, but a good number stayed to chat and see what it was all about.

“We were there every day from 4pm until 10pm,” said Randy Shannon, treasurer of the 4th CD Progressive Democrats of America. “People start flowing in after work. In addition to our banner, there was a giant 4ft x 5ft poster showing that Beaver County taxpayers have shelled out $54 million per year for the last ten years for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is almost the same amount as the county’s annual general fund tax collections.”

Carl Davidson explained his contribution: “We set up an internet connection with a cell phone. With a monitor and a laptop I showed some antiwar videos picked by Beaver County Peace Links, including a looping video of an apple pie being divided like the US budget. The military got half the pie.”

Todd and Emily Davis made a unique contribution to the table. Todd, a Methodist pastor, is the chairperson of Peace Links. They labeled 10 jars with the main categories of the federal budget. They were arrayed in front of a small backdrop that read: ‘Take the penny poll: how would YOU spend your tax dollars.’

Continue reading Beaver County’s Big Knob Fair Meets the Peace and Jobs Movement

Beaver County Adds Its Voices on Insurance Reform

Street Heat in Aliquippa:

Congressman Altmire

Pushed to Change Stand,

Abandon Insurance Bigwigs

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

McLean Street in Aliquippa got plenty of heat of the sunny afternoon of March 16, as opposing rallies on the issue of health care gathered out the office of Jason Altmire, the 4th CD’s Democratic ‘Blue Dog’ representative in Congress.

Photo: Steve Kislock

The first rally was at noon, when a crowd of 120 people, organized largely by trade unions, retiree groups and health care workers and activists made a last-ditch effort to get a ‘Yes’ vote on the current insurance reform proposal. But at 4pm, a crowd of more than 300 GOP, Tea Party and anti-reform forces showed up demanding a ‘No’ vote. Earlier, the anti-reformers had tried to disrupt the progressive rally with a horn-blasting truck behind the speakers stand, but they were shooed away. “Remember to turn in your Medicare card,” shouted one of the rally attendees to the departing horn blasters. Both efforts got wide coverage in regional media.

Altmire wasn’t present.  But if he is at all astute and his staff took careful notes, one critical political fact will stand out: those calling for a ‘Yes’ vote were the hard core of his most active supporters in the past, while those calling for a ‘No’ vote are largely unlikely to vote for him over a Republican no matter what his vote is on this issue.

Continue reading Beaver County Adds Its Voices on Insurance Reform