Tag Archive for benefits

Anger and lies on the right

Image by Huffington Post. This graphic shows the cost of health care premiums state-by-state. It shows the average weighted cost for the least expensive policy on the bronze tier. Dark colors are the most expensive, light the leaSt.

Image by Huffington Post. This graphic shows the cost of health care premiums state-by-state. It shows the average weighted cost for the least expensive policy on the bronze tier. Dark colors are the most expensive, light the least.

As the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces finally open for business, opponents of health reform are getting desperate.

Take, for example, the 21-hour circus sideshow fake filibuster by Texas Republican Ted Cruz in the Senate.

Take the willingness of Republicans to take down the entire government in a desperate last-ditch effort to kill the law.

Look at the TV ads with the frightening Uncle Sam head popping up behind a doctor’s examining table.

In the last week, my son read stories about how Georgia will be the most expensive state in the county to buy insurance. I did some reading on my own and found the numbers in the story were NOT the average prices but the worst-case scenario — you know, someone my age who would not be eligible for assistance.

In fact, Georgia is not the most expensive, it’s the middle of the the pack, and if you make less than four times the federal poverty level (about $46,000 for an individual, $60,000 for a couple and $93,000 for a family of four), you will get help paying for your premiums.

Then yesterday, I heard North Carolina will be the most expensive. Look at the graphic here. It’s in the middle of the pack too, along with California and New York. I’ll bet they have similar misinformation campaigns in every state.

In all, prices are about 16 percent below what was first predicted. Granted, it’s not cheap, but for most people, it will be affordable. The hysterics are nothing more than lies perpetrated by the very people who want the law gone. These are the people who are going around telling young adults to “burn your Obamacare draft card.”

I suppose people could do that if there were an Obamacare draft card, but there isn’t.

Those creepy Uncle Sam head TV ads also are lies. You will buy your insurance from a private company and you will see your own doctor.

Your insurance company can no longer deny necessary treatment, thanks to the law.

They can’t charge you a co-pay for annual physicals, cancer and other screenings or immunizations, thanks to the law.

They can’t put annual or lifetime caps on coverage.

They can’t throw you to the curb if you get sick.

They have to pay out 80 to 85 percent of what they collect in premiums on direct services.

And they don’t like all this regulation because it cuts into their obscene profits.

Because of all the money spent to spread the misinformation, 70 percent of the people who are eligible for help in paying for their premiums don’t know it. More than one-third of Americans think the law was repealed.

The truth is the Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted 41 times to repeal the law, but have failed to get it done, thank God.

The truth is that 45,000 Americans died in this country every year from lack of access to care before the Affordable Care Act, and thousands will continue to die because of GOP-led efforts to deny Medicaid expansion.

These are not pro-life people, no matter what they say. I have had some argue that point with me, but the truth is that if you want to deny people access to life-saving care, if you lie to convince people not to take advantage of access to care, you are not pro-life, no matter how much you love unborn babies.

 

 

 

Government-supported retail

On Black Friday, people turned out to protest the working conditions at Walmarts across the country.

For people who don’t want any government interference, the family that owns Walmart certainly relies pretty heavily on the feds.

About 80 percent of the people who work for Walmart are eligible for food stamps. All told, these hard-working people get $1 billion in government assistance, and the Walton family walks away with billions in profits.

Walmart employees make an average of $8.81 an hour, according to IBISWorld, an independent market research group. In most parts of the country, living wage is almost double that. A living wage is what it takes to pay rent on modest living space, buy groceries, own a car and pay utilities. There is no cable TV calculated into living wage, no meals out, no evenings at the movies, no smart phone with unlimited data.

This wage adds up to annual pay of $15,576, based upon Walmart’s full-time status of 34 hours per week. That wage, if you’re a single parent with three kids, is well below the federal poverty level of about $22,000 for a family of four.

Walmart employs 1 percent of the US population, but its payroll doesn’t come close to 1 percent of total wages paid in the country.

According to a paper by the Center for Labor Research and Education at University of California Berkeley, if Walmart started paying a $12 per hour, its workers who now make less than $9 per hour could each earn $3,250 to $6,500 more per year before taxes. If Walmart were to pass this cost directly to shoppers, the average consumer would need to pay only 46 cents more per shopping trip, or $12.50 per year.

Last week, Walmart announced that it would stop offering health insurance to new employees who work less than 30 hours per week. And you can bet most new employees will work less than 30 hours per week.

The company cited the costs of the Affordable Care Act, even though the law isn’t fully implemented for another year.

It’s just another excuse to screw the workers and keep them in poverty.

Walmart can afford to pay a better wage and more benefits. Compare it to Costco, where the average employee earns about $17 an hour and has health coverage. No, the CEO won’t be able to make more than 1,200 times what the average employee makes. Big deal.

A living wage would allow people the dignity of making their own decisions about their spending instead of having to rely on the government agencies that subsidize their food, rent and health care costs.

Walmart typically goes into markets and undercuts the prices of local merchants, driving many of them out of business. It keeps wages low, and with few other options for retail jobs in many communities, its employees have to stay on.

Sure the prices at Walmart are low — they’re subsidized by all of us taxpayers.

 

39,000 hostages in North Carolina

As of yesterday, 39,000 North Carolinians were cut off from unemployment benefits because the GOP-led legislature here tied extension of benefits to their disastrous budget.

The Republican majority agreed to extend jobless benefits ONLY if Gov. Bev Perdue would agree to their budget proposal, which isn’t even finished yet.

Most of the unemployed rely on those benefits to put food on the table. The average payout is $300 per week, and without it, people have nowhere to turn. Few have managed to put away enough savings to see them through until the economy turns around for those of us who have to work for a living.

There’s no excuse for this behavior; the budget should be debated on its own, not tied to the economic survival of 39,000 people who are victims of the economic ruin Wall Street perpetuated upon the country.

Other states have passed the technical language needed to continue benefits for up to 99 weeks, but not North Carolina. Our legislature takes the cynical approach, hoping people will blame the governor for vetoing the extension to unemployment.

I wrote to my representative, Republican Tim Moffitt, and told him I will remember this come Election Day, and I won’t blame Bev Perdue; I’ll blame the Republicans who held 39,000 people hostage.

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