Will Obama Change Health Care?

Here’s a recap of the kind of health reform Obama wants to accomplish:
  • Build on the current employer-based health insurance system
  • Expand access to Medicaid and the state children’s health insurance program
  • Require large employers either to offer coverage or contribute a portion of payroll to its cost
  • Require that all children have health coverage
  • Require health insurers to accept all applicants regardless of any preexisting conditions they may have
  • Introduce a Medicare-like government-administered plan similar to the one available to federal workers that would compete with private health plans in a new market called the National Health Insurance Exchange
  • Create a new tax credit to encourage small businesses to provide coverage to their workers
  • Lower family health premiums by $2,500 through projected cost savings

Obama is likely to incorporate some pieces of McCain’s proposals into his own — even with a Democratic Congress on his side — in order to forge a consensus around the plans he has outlined, much the way Massachusetts went bipartisan to enact its statewide health reform in 2006, said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a think tank in Washington.

An example of an idea that Obama may consider adapting is McCain’s proposal to replace the tax exclusion workers currently get for their job-based health plans with a refundable tax credit of $2,500 for individuals or $5,000 for families, effectively making the value of insurance taxable income for the first time.

Economists have long eyed the tax exclusion as a potentially rich source of funding for health-reform efforts, Ginsburg said. While McCain proposed to eliminate the tax exclusion for everyone, Obama along with a Democratic Congress would be more likely to impose a cap on the amount not subject to taxes to better target people receiving the most benefits

Other McCain proposals such as encouraging people to buy coverage on the individual market and letting them buy policies across state lines are far less likely to be included in a compromise plan because of concerns about eroding risk pools, spiraling costs and loss of consumer protections.

The weakness of the Obama plan is that it doesn’t require individuals who don’t have coverage to buy it, making it difficult to force insurers to take all comers, Nichols said. “Without a mandate it will be hard to get private insurers to compete how he wants them to.”

Does Anyone Remember The Monroe Doctrine?

Traditionally, international trade in Latin America has meant trade with the United States. The geographic proximity and close political ties between the two regions dating back to the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which was designed to monopolize US power in Latin America, have had a lot to do with that. As a result, Latin American governments and potential foreign trading partners other than the United States have historically been discouraged from trading with others by means of high tariffs on imports and exports and stringent regulations from Washington. Since the Roosevelt Corollary was announced in 1904 to stop German and British ships from sailing to Venezuela to collect debt payments, the United States has been the unofficial arbiter of all hemispheric affairs.

Although the United States will continue to play a vital role in the economic and political landscape of Latin America, there are a number of reasons to believe that the days of the United States’ ability to act with free reign are coming to an end. The inaction of the incumbent US president has a lot to do with that. The past eight years have been some of the most damaging for US-Latin American relations. The Bush administration’s neglect of the region, which has seen the president make only two perfunctory appearances (one at a Summit of the Americas meeting in Argentina in 2005 and another to Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay in 2007), has taken its toll politically. US popularity has sunk to all-time lows. The regional “leftist movement” that many have written about can owe part of its success to its leaders promising the end of U.S. influence and controversial Washington-advocated neoliberal economic policies in the region.

There is already evidence that US-dominated influence in the region is over, both politically and economically. In its stead, China has quietly positioned itself to fill the void in Latin American affairs. There are many
developments that prove this. China and Peru are in the midst of free trade talks that could be signed as early as November, and Chile and China have had a free-trade agreement since 1 October 2006. In August, Argentina’s Banco de Inversión y Comercio Exterior (BICE) slashed interest rates in a move to directly encourage more investment from China Development Bank. On 1 September Paraguay reversed their decision to recognize Taiwanese sovereignty, and Alan Garcia of Peru has officially rejected Tibetan independence in an effort to show solidarity with the mainland Chinese government. Twelve days before he assumed the presidency in January 2006, Evo Morales met with Hu Jintao to discuss the two nations’ strategic importance and ideological similarities.

Maybe it is time to revisit the Monroe Doctrine.  Just a thought.

Today In Labor History

09 November

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt unveils the Civil Works Administration, a partner to the Civilian Conservation Corps, to create construction jobs, mainly improving or constructing buildings and bridges – 1933

Committee for Industrial Organization founded by eight unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. The eight want more focus on organizing mass production industry workers – 1935


The Crisis Effects All

Reporting from Wells, Nev. — The women at Donna’s Ranch are crowded around the kitchen table on a warm summer night, dining on stir fry, tugging at thigh-high dresses, griping about depleted bank accounts. At this northeastern Nevada bordello, which marks a gravel road’s end, they woo grizzled truckers and weary travelers for a single reason: money.

Lately, the women don’t go home with much.
Signs of the economic free fall have cropped up in many of Nevada’s 25 or so legal brothels. The Mustang Ranch, for example, has a steady stream of customers, but the number of women vying for work has soared. Even a 74-year-old applied. This summer, the Shady Lady gave $50 gas cards to those who spent $300. The Moonlite Bunny Ranch offered extras to customers paying with their economic stimulus checks.

Here, 180 miles west of Salt Lake City, near the junction of Interstate 80 and Highway 93, Donna’s Ranch has seen its business plummet nearly 20%. More than three-quarters of its customers are long-haul truckers, and high fuel and food prices have drained them of “play money,” owner Geoff Arnold says. That cuts into pay for his 10-member staff and the “working girls.”

Billed as the West’s oldest continuously operating bordello, Donna’s Ranch greets drivers with a sign that depicts a cowboy-hatted, buxom brunet preening atop a truck bed. The red-roofed, single-story brothel is plagued with leaks; a recent earthquake cracked its beige exterior. The women’s rooms are small. Most have a double bed, a television and DVD player, and tables with assorted lotions, sex toys and toiletries. There’s also a handmade sign that reminds customers: Tips are appreciated.

From 2006 to 2007, the brothel’s revenue climbed 7.6%, to about $1 million. This year, Arnold expects to make about $200,000 less. Closing that gap is tricky: Brothel advertising is legal, but billboards and bus ads risk upsetting neighbors. So the bordello sponsors a soccer team in Boise and a rodeo in Wells. It also bought lights for the high school football field and gave local motels pens, which boast that Donna’s is “Your Biggest Bang for the Buck.”

Get off your butts and go help these girls out!

Is There A Problem?

About 40 percent of women report having sexual problems, but most aren’t bothered by them, according to the largest study ever published on a women’s sexual health.

The study, led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and published in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that only 12 percent of women suffering from a low sex drive are actually bothered by the problem.

“Sexual problems are common in women, but problems associated with personal distress, those which are truly bothersome and affect a woman’s quality of life, are much less frequent.” said study leader, Dr. Jan Shifren, of Massachusetts General’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Service, in a news release. “For a sexual concern to be considered a medical problem, it must be associated with distress, so it’s important to assess this in both research studies and patient care.”

The study surveyed 32,000 women aged 18 to older than 100 from across the U.S. In addition to asking standardized questions about their sexual health, the survey also measured the women’s distress related to their sex lives — including feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, and worry.

Forty-three percent of respondents reported some level of sexual dysfunction — 39 percent reported low levels of desire, 26 percent had problems with arousal and 21 percent had difficulties with orgasm.

But wait!

It strikes me as bizarre that pharmaceutical companies are still pursuing a drug to treat a “disorder”—low sexual desire in women—that appears manufactured, in my opinion, by the companies trying to treat it. In this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, researchers triumphantly tout a testosterone patch, saying that it appears to increase the number of satisfying sexual encounters that women have. Those on a 300-microgram dose of the patch, called Intrinsa, had gratifying sex an average of 2.1 times in four weeks, compared with 1.2 times for those on a lower dose and 0.7 time for those on a placebo.

5 Ways to get back in the driver’s seat……..

1. Exercise. Aerobic workouts (running, biking, swimming) not only improve blood flow to sex organs but can also boost your mood, pumping up “feel good” brain chemicals called endorphins. An increase in testosterone levels about one hour after working out can also leave you feeling sexier. Do avoid overstraining yourself, though, since extreme exercise actually lowers testosterone levels.

2. Relax. Too much stress increases the stress hormone cortisol, which causes testosterone to plummet. Find a way to tune out for 15 minutes a day, whether through meditation, yoga, chilling to music, or schmoozing with a friend.

3. Add a little novelty. Recent research shows that partaking in new and challenging experiences with your partner can boost the brain chemical dopamine, which helps fuel sex drive. These don’t even need to be in the bedroom. Enter a race together, on a tandem bike. Get a little lost on a wilderness hike—without a map. Host a game night with friends where each couple kicks in $30 and the winning pair takes all.

4. Consider supplements. Ginkgo biloba has been used to treat sexual dysfunction, although the Mayo Clinic website says the evidence that it works is speculative at best. Still, it’s relatively safe (just don’t take it if you’re on a blood thinner), and the placebo effect may be enough to put you in the mood. Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) could be useful, since it’s critical for the manufacture of sex hormones in the adrenal glands. Choline, meanwhile, purportedly helps to enhance levels of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that sends sexual impulses from your brain to your sex organs.

5. Inhale. Certain scents are known to be attractive to women, according to this article. Supposedly, we’re most attracted to sweaty men and musky odors, though I’m guessing it’s probably pretty individualized. To each her own.

Good luck–You will need it!