The downside of high deductible health plans | The Incidental Economist

This study has a good graph showing how people in high deductible health plans forego or delay care. It also notes that the incidence of foregoing and delaying care goes up as the poverty of the individual increases. Conclusion: HDHP’s are making access to care even more challenging for the poor. I would like to see how the Affordable Health Care act plans to remedy this.

The downside of high deductible health plans | The Incidental Economist.

Take Action to Help Mental Health Providers Get Treated Justly

We in the social work field are known for advocating for just about everyone — the poor, the homeless, LBGT, Veterans, the elderly, people with physical disabilities, people with mental disabilities, the unemployed, the incarcerated, and so on. But when it comes to advocating for ourselves, we seem to have a harder time, and the many groups who we speak for are often not able to provide the same kind of “got your back” advocacy in return. For that reason, mental health providers are a category, politically, that is easily stomped on. Though we represent many, we represent the underrepresented, the less powerful, and the very busy people who must work two jobs for a living.

Here is a chance to help out your fellow mental health provider. Please consider signing the petition linked below to help advocate for mental health providers to be adequately compensated for their work.

Reimburse Clinicians Fare Wages Petition

Churches and Occupy to the Rescue after Sandy

Brita Rose at Common Dreams reports on the community response to Hurricane Sandy.

Light After the Storm – Local Churches Partner with Occupy Sandy in Grass Roots Relief Efforts
by Brita Rose

It was a beautiful sight — throngs of volunteers lining up outside a local church on Sunday, Day Five of the local recovery initiative spearheaded by Occupy Sandy. The number of willing helpers had tripled over the last three days alone, a response as dizzying as it was encouraging for the coordinators at the relief hub in St. Jacobi Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York.

Occupy Sandy is an offshoot of the Occupy Movement, which, until now was by some pundits given up for dead. In collaboration with Occupy Sunset Park, 350.org, recovers.org and interoccupy.net, it emerged to meet the essential needs of storm victims while larger charities were already turning away willing volunteers, just a few days after the storm. It began organizing local relief efforts so that supplies could be immediately sent to the most devastated areas — beginning with Red Hook and The Rockaways. To their own surprise the Occupy activists found themselves doing so with an efficiency and speed that was sometimes outpacing government relief organizations. While the latter focused on essential infrastructure — pumping out subway stations and restoring transportation and power — independent groups were able to reach isolated areas by building community solidarity and mutual aid on the local level. Both entities were needed, as was becoming ever more apparent.

Read the rest here.

Kiersten Marek:

The elephant in the room in American politics: poverty.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Poverty.

Lots of talk about the middle class. Tax cuts for the middle class. Saving the middle class. Doing more for the middle class.

Not one word about poverty.

No mention that nearly 25% of the children in the world’s richest nation live in poverty.

Not one word.

View original

Why Not a New WPA?

Sidewalk Lippitt Park

That’s a seventy-year-old sidewalk laid down by WPA workers in the Great Depression. Still sound, like a lot of the infrastructure work done then.

The New York Times business section puts in simple terms why stimulus money used wisely on needed repairs is smart policy…

Millions of Americans remain out of work only because employers can already produce more than enough to meet depressed demand. The obvious remedy is to increase total spending. Although economic stimulus has become a controversial topic in the abstract, a few simple observations should persuade every sensible legislator — perhaps even a majority! — to support a specific type of higher spending: accelerated refurbishment of our crumbling infrastructure.

Some in Congress have consistently opposed the president’s infrastructure proposals, citing the huge national debt. But that’s an incoherent objection. If repairs to the Capitol dome or a tattered stretch of interstate highway are postponed, they will just become more costly. Many job seekers have the skills for this work. If we wait, we’ll have to bid them away from other tasks. The required materials are cheaper now than they will ever be. And interest rates are at record lows.
Of course, the debt is an important long-run problem, but deferring infrastructure repairs will only worsen it. Relative to current policy, then, such projects would address multiple pressing problems without distress.

Pumping up consumption while neglecting essentials just means that the car we bought on credit gets dinged in the pothole we didn’t fix.

It’s true, Americans want jobs, but when we get past the desperate stage we want work that matters. The WPA created both jobs and useful work. Why not build on what we learned then at such cost?

Did God Speak to the Church of England?

When you have a personal relationship with The Omniscient are you ever tempted to ask for an inside stock tip?

From The Guardian UK–

News Corporation made a loss of $1.6bn (£1.2bn) in the last quarter as it absorbed $2.8bn in charges related to a plan to spin off its ailing publishing businesses.

The loss compared with a profit of $683m in the same period a year ago and came as revenues dipped 6.7% to $8.4bn, hit by a slide in audiences for TV shows including American Idol and disappointment at the box office for its Hollywood studio. The results were below analysts’ expectations and the company’s shares fell in after-hours trading.

The fourth-quarter loss was linked “most significantly” to poor performances at News Corp’s Australian publishing assets, the company said.

News Corp announced plans last month to split off its publishing assets including the Wall Street Journal, the Times and the Sun in the UK, and its Australian newspapers from the more lucrative film and television assets including Fox Broadcasting, the Twentieth Century Fox studios and its stake in BSkyB.

The move comes in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that has led to a sprawling criminal investigation in Britain and has triggered an investigation in the US under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

And this right after the Church sold all its stock in Newscorp. Coincidence? I think not.

Marketing to Men

Pericles at Daily Kos has an amusing and enlightening history of shaving and capitalism.

So instead, the market has gone two ways. The mass market has kept research labs busy churning out phony “improvements” that generate market-protecting patents and give advertisers something to work with. And vast amounts of money have been spent persuading men (successfully!) that there’s something new worth paying up for and something primitive about the double-edged safety razor.

For men who have caught on to that game, a connoisseur market sells expensive shaving paraphernalia to bolster an overclass identity. So whether you’re a mass-market Gillette-Fusion-type guy or a connoisseur wielding a buffalo-horn-handle Damascus-steel-blade straight razor, you support a market with high profit margins.

What worries me is that I see exactly the same dynamic in the pharmaceutical industry. It takes a huge investment in time, money and expertise– with big risk– to patent a new drug that actually cures something, or even is measurably better than older, cheaper drugs. That’s why you see existing drugs marketed in new forms– gel caps, dissolvable tabs– or new drugs that are almost the same as older ones in the same class.

Letting the free market lead is harmless enough when it produces a ten-blade disposable razor. When it comes to things that really matter, novelty does not reign supreme.