The Nightwatchman Tom Morello's Justice Tour 2008 is taking him across the country to rally groups working to bring about social change. In Boston, he met up with American SiCKO's Donna Smith and Adrian Campbell as they push for universal healthcare with Healthcare-NOW.
Politics aside, it has to rank as the year’s best music bargain: three hours of music from a panoply of national and local stars for $15.
But politics was the whole point of Sunday night’s Justice Tour 2008, which drew about 700 fans at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. Each stop on the two-week tour is tied into a local community action group – Healthcare Now in Boston – and several other advocacy groups play major roles. Iraqi War Veterans Against the War had an informational booth in the lobby.
It’s all the latest project for Tom Morello, better known as the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, who also performs as a crusading folk singer under the moniker The Nightwatchman. Morello, 43, has assembled an impressive cast of supporting acts, with every lineup different so local stars can be featured, and Boston’s lineup was superb.
American SiCKO Donna Smith, left, shares a light moment with Mayor Joe Adams of University City, MO, before a rally and march in support of single payer healthcare reform. University City is the only municipality in Missouri that has passed a resolution in favor of single payer reform, even though there is a single payer bill in the Missouri Senate right now.
Citizens in the ‘Show Me’ state lived up to their billing when more than 150 people turned out on Saturday night at the St. Louis Ethical Society to watch ‘SiCKO’ and to hear more about healthcare from American SiCKOs Donna and Larry Smith. The event was a huge success with guests enjoying free popcorn and lemonade provided by volunteers and lingering for more than an hour for a lively question and answer session led by Donna.
American SiCKOs Donna and Larry Smith stand in front of City Hall in University City, MO, where a rally and march preceded a SiCKO showing and address as part of the healthcare weekend hosted by Missourians for Single Payer (MoSP) and co-sponsored by The Ethical Society of St. Louis.
Health insurance companies are rapidly adopting a new pricing system for very expensive drugs, asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions for medications that may save their lives or slow the progress of serious diseases.
With the new pricing system, insurers abandoned the traditional arrangement that has patients pay a fixed amount, like $10, $20 or $30 for a prescription, no matter what the drug’s actual cost. Instead, they are charging patients a percentage of the cost of certain high-priced drugs, usually 20 to 33 percent, which can amount to thousands of dollars a month.
A very insightful piece about what is wrong with the Clinton-Obama health care plans, and the plans of their predecessors...
A major problem -- if not the major problem -- for many people living in the U.S. is the difficulty of accessing and paying for medical care when they are sick. For this reason, candidates in the presidential primaries of 2008 -- the Democrats more often than the Republicans -- have been recounting stories about the health-related tragedies they have encountered in meetings with ordinary people around the country (an exercise conducted in the U.S. every four years, at presidential election time). These stories tell of the enormous difficulties and suffering faced by many people in their attempts to get the medical care they need. I have been around long enough -- I was senior health advisor to Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primaries of 1984 and 1988 -- to know how frequently Democratic candidates, over the years, have referred to such cases. The only things that change are the names and faces in these human tragedies. Otherwise, the stories, year after year, are almost the same.
Elizabeth Edwards has cancer. John McCain has had cancer in the past. Last weekend, Mrs. Edwards bluntly pointed out that neither of them would be able to get insurance under Mr. McCain’s health care plan.
It’s about time someone said that and, more generally, made the case that Mr. McCain’s approach to health care is based on voodoo economics — not the supply-side voodoo that claims that cutting taxes increases revenues (though Mr. McCain says that, too), but the equally foolish claim, refuted by all available evidence, that the magic of the marketplace can produce cheap health care for everyone.
McCain to follow Republican tradition of letting patients fend for themselves
There's a sense of deja vu about McCain's proposal. Haven't we been injecting competition into the health insurance markets for a very long time? Even the establishment of the government Medicare and Medicaid programs in the 1960's had a pro-competitive edge, because it removed from the commercial markets the most expensive and the poorest paying cases, leaving them with the most lucrative consumers to insure. The Health Maintenance Organization movement of the 1970's was another injection of that competitive hormone into the insurance markets in the form of prepaid group plans which combined insurance with the provision of care. What additional forms of competition has McCain invented that health economists never dreamt about?
The truth is that not all competition is helpful to consumers. I know that this is not an idea free-market conservatives like, but it's possible for competition to actually hurt some consumers.
Paxten's dad would rather not watch his son wither away:
“The fact is, my kid has leukemia, and if he doesn’t get this treatment, he will die,” Robert Mitchell said. “The way they made me feel was that they were pressuring us to take him home and let him die. We’ll try anything that has a chance of succeeding, and I will not give up fighting for it to be covered.
“Go to their Web site, and their mission statement says they treat each person with compassion,” he said. “I think that’s a bunch of hoopla.”
Paul Tate, a spokesman for Primary Physician Care, said the company is not authorized to discuss Paxten’s case.
CLiCK here to read more about Paxten in the Asheville Citizen Times.
Democrats have long served as the traditional enemy of Big Pharma, but in this presidential campaign, the left is taking the lion's share of drugmaker money.
Democratic senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the top recipients of donations from the pharmaceutical industry, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit, non-partisan research group in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, donations to Sen. John McCain, who was recently endorsed by President Bush as the official Republican candidate, pale in comparison.
Merck recently agreed to pay $650 million to settle charges that it overbilled the government for drugs such as Vioxx and Zocor.
Prosecutors say the drugmaker gave pills to hospitals at virtually no cost to hook poor patients on expensive medicine. When the patients left the hospital, they often continued taking the drugs, but with the government footing the higher bill.
The Merck settlement culminates an investigation that began in 2000 and is one of the first in a series of cases centering on whether drugmakers used unfair pricing practices to bilk the government. The Justice Department is looking into 630 health-care whistleblower claims.
Recently, we got a tip from J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, about a "top-10 list" of "insurance" films that the hip and edgy Insurance Information Institute (III) put up on their website. Hunter told us that the trade mag National Underwriter listed the 10 films, which included lots of old films (Double Indemnity, The Fortune Cookie). It also included a couple of newer ones, The Rainmaker, and the Oscar-nominated Sicko - neither of which looked too kindly on the insurance industry, so kudos to the III - hey, it's Oscar season right?
But then we got another tip from Mr. Hunter that we could hardly believe. Seems like The Rainmaker and Sicko have suddenly "disappeared" from III's top-10 list! Take a look...
Oops! Hey III, if you're going to censor yourself, it's probably not a good idea to get caught!