* WHY AN MRI COSTS $1080 IN AMERICA AND $280 IN FRANCE
By Erza Klein, The Washington Post
[…] “Other countries negotiate very aggressively with the providers and set rates that are much lower than we do,” Anderson says. They do this in one of two ways. In countries such as Canada and Britain, prices are set by the government. In others, such as Germany and Japan, they’re set by providers and insurers sitting in a room and coming to an agreement, with the government stepping in to set prices if they fail.
In America, Medicare and Medicaid negotiate prices on behalf of their tens of millions of members and, not coincidentally, purchase care at a substantial markdown from the commercial average. But outside that, it’s a free-for-all. Providers largely charge what they can get away with, often offering different prices to different insurers, and an even higher price to the uninsured.
Health care is an unusual product in that it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, for the customer to say “no.” In certain cases, the customer is passed out, or otherwise incapable of making decisions about her care, and the decisions are made by providers whose mandate is, correctly, to save lives rather than money.
In other cases, there is more time for loved ones to consider costs, but little emotional space to do so — no one wants to think there was something more they could have done to save their parent or child. It is not like buying a television, where you can easily comparison shop and walk out of the store, and even forgo the purchase if it’s too expensive. And imagine what you would pay for a television if the salesmen at Best Buy knew that you couldn’t leave without making a purchase.
“In my view, health is a business in the United States in quite a different way than it is elsewhere,” says Tom Sackville, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s government and now directs the IFHP. “It’s very much something people make money out of. There isn’t too much embarrassment about that compared to Europe and elsewhere.” […]
READ @ http://tinyurl.com/76x6kp2
* BP SETTLEMENT SELLS OUT VICTIMS
By Greg Palast, Truthout
Some deal. BP gets the gold mine and its victims get the shaft. And a few lawyers will get vacation homes – though they won’t be so stupid as to build them on the Gulf Coast.
On Friday night, the judge-picked lawyers for 120,000 victims of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out cut a back-room deal with oil company BP PLC which will save the lawyers the hard work of a trial and save the oil giant billions of dollars. It will also save the company the threat of exposing the true and very ugly story of the Gulf of Mexico oil platform blow-out.
I have been to the Gulf and seen the damage — and the oil that BP says is gone. Miles of it. As an economist who calculated damages for plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, I can tell you right now that there is no way, no how, that the $7.8 billion BP says it will spend on this settlement will cover that damage, the lost incomes, homes, businesses and boats, let alone the lost lives — from cancers, fetal deformities, miscarriages, and lung and skin diseases.
Two years ago, President Barack Obama forced BP to set aside at least $20 billion for the oil spill’s victims. This week’s settlement will add exactly ZERO to that fund. Indeed, BP is crowing that, adding in the sums already paid out, the company will still have spent less than the amount committed to the Obama fund. […]
* UN-CHEATING JUSTICE: TWO YEARS LEFT TO PROSECUTE BUSH
By David Swansn, War Is A Crime
Elizabeth Holtzman knows something about struggles for justice in the U.S. government. She was a member of Congress and of the House Judiciary Committee that voted for articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in 1973. She proposed the bill that in 1973 required that “state secrets” claims be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. She co-authored the special prosecutor law that was allowed to lapse, just in time for the George W. Bush crime wave, after Kenneth Starr made such a mockery of it during the Whitewater-cum-Lewinsky scandals. She was there for the creation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978. She has served on the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, bringing long-escaped war criminals to justice. And she was an outspoken advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.
Holtzman’s new book, coauthored with Cynthia Cooper, is called “Cheating Justice: How Bush and Cheney Attacked the Rule of Law and Plotted to Avoid Prosecution — and What We Can Do About It.” Holtzman begins by recalling how widespread and mainstream was the speculation at the end of the Bush nightmare that Bush would pardon himself and his underlings. The debate was over exactly how he would do it. And then he didn’t do it at all.
Holtzman ends her book by pointing out that legal accountability can come after many years, as in the case of various Nazis, or of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, or of the murderers of civil rights activists including Medgar Evers. […]
* THE JEB SCENARIO: CAN YOU SAY “PRESIDENT BUSH” AGAIN?
By Russ Baker, whowhatwhy
[…] Before anyone races to declare that Americans will not stand for another Bush presidential campaign—and certainly not for another Bush presidency—let me just say that they’d be sorely underestimating the Bush family.
The Bushes are nothing if not resilient. George W. Bush, he of so few qualifications but with his own distinctive Bush personality and formidable charisma, came out of the dust of his father’s re-election defeat in 1992, stronger than his father ever was politically. And though W. is now persona non grata to many, his brother would come back as a significantly different brand. He’s widely regarded as more capable, much more focused, much better at delivering points. He’s able to pull off a kind of sober, reasonable persona, more stable than a Santorum or a Gingrich or most of the other contenders. Rich but not entitled. A kind of Romney—without the Romney.
And yet….And yet he is still a Bush. That means a great deal, because, putting aside all the stylistic differences, this is a clan with a mission. It’s a mission they’ll never talk about, beyond vague statements about a sense within the family of Duty to Nation. No, the Bush clan is the ultimate representative of the game plan of the one percent of the one percent. What they stand for in private is much, much more troubling than most Americans know. What I learned in the five years I spent investigating them—as they were going out of power the last time—shook me to my core. […]
* GREEK LAWMAKER, LIANA KANELLIS, EDUCATING AN IGNORANT JERK AT CNN
Liana Kanellis called for immediate elections: “What we need now is elections. There is no legitimacy to sign for the future two to three generations. Nobody elected Lucas Papademos. Chosen,” he said. “We will resist until our last breath.”
* PROTESTERS CRASH CHIGAGO’S 175TH BIRTHDAY PARTY
By Francine Knowles, Chicago Sun-Times
Protesters interrupted a celebration of Chicago’s 175th birthday Sunday at which Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke by blasting his budget plan to close six mental health clinics, contending the plan will make it harder for people to get help and cost lives.
“History will judge,” the small group shouted as Emanuel stood by a birthday cake with children and others gathered at the end of the Chicago History Museum celebration program Sunday.
The museum hosted a day-long program on the city’s founding, a children’s choir, a panel discussion on the city’s identity and with actors dressed as historical figures, including founder Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable.
Emanuel spoke on the city’s history and future. “We have come to forks in the road . . . and yet we have never shrunk from our challenges,” Emanuel said. “And this is a story of the city and it’s a story still being written.”
The mayor quickly left the room without responding to the small group of protesters. […]
* US CONGRESS PASSES AUTHORITARIAN ANTI-PROTEST LAW
By Tom Carter, OpEd
A bill passed Monday in the US House of Representatives and Thursday in the Senate would make it a felony—a serious criminal offense punishable by lengthy terms of incarceration—to participate in many forms of protest associated with the Occupy Wall Street protests of last year. Several commentators have dubbed it the “anti-Occupy” law, but its implications are far broader.
The bill—H.R. 347, or the “Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011”—was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, while only Ron Paul and two other Republicans voted against the bill in the House of Representatives (the bill passed 388-3). Not a single Democratic politician voted against the bill.
The virtually unanimous passage of H.R. 347 starkly exposes the fact that, despite all the posturing, the Democrats and the Republicans stand shoulder to shoulder with the corporate and financial oligarchy, which regarded last year’s popular protests against social inequality with a mixture of fear and hostility. […]
* U.S. COURT APPROVES WARRANTLESS SEARCHES OF CELL PHONES
By Terry Baynes, Reuters
U.S. police can search a cell phone for its number without having a warrant, according to a federal appeals court ruling.
Officers in Indiana found a number of cell phones at the scene of a drug bust, and searched each phone for its telephone number. Having the numbers allowed the government to subpoena the owners’ call histories, linking them to the drug-selling scheme.
One of the suspects, Abel Flores-Lopez, who was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, argued on appeal that the police had no right to search the phone’s contents without a warrant.
The U.S. Court of Appeal for the 7th Circuit rejected that argument on Wednesday, finding that the invasion of privacy was so slight that the police’s actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches. […]
* DRONES IN TEXAS AND TANKS IN TAMPA: INSIDE THE OUT-OF-CONTROL WEAPONIZED HOMELAND SECURITY STATE
By Stephan Salisbury, AlterNet
At the height of the Occupy Wall Street evictions, it seemed as though some diminutive version of “shock and awe” had stumbled from Baghdad, Iraq, to Oakland, California. American police forces had been “militarized,” many commentators worried, as though the firepower and callous tactics on display were anomalies, surprises bursting upon us from nowhere.
There should have been no surprise. Those flash grenades exploding in Oakland and the sound cannons on New York’s streets simply opened small windows onto a national policing landscape long in the process of militarization — a bleak domestic no man’s land marked by tanks and drones, robot bomb detectors, grenade launchers, tasers, and most of all, interlinked video surveillance cameras and information databases growing quietly on unobtrusive server farms everywhere.
The ubiquitous fantasy of “homeland security,” pushed hard by the federal government in the wake of 9/11, has been widely embraced by the public. It has also excited intense weapons- and techno-envy among police departments and municipalities vying for the latest in armor and spy equipment. […]