Category : Global News
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– Judah Freed
End Medical Debt, written by industry insiders Jerry Ashton, Robert Goff and Craig Antico (founders of the charity RIP Medical Debt), realistically and clearly looks at the causes and possible cures for more than $1 trillion in unpayable medical debt in America. Our national conversation on healthcare can no longer ignore the urgent medical debt crisis.
In our fervent public debates about the broken U.S. healthcare system, we have overlooked the devastating impacts of America’s urgent medical debt crisis. Everybody knows somebody struggling with their medical medical bills.
End Medical Debt, written by three industry insiders, is the first book to bypass political posturing to look clearly and realistically at the actual causes and possible cures for more than $1 trillion in unpayable medical debt in America. Medical debt causes hardships for individuals, families, communities, and the nation as a whole.
Voicing decades of experience in debt collections, debt buying and healthcare management, the authors of End Medical Debt bring deep expertise to the problem of medical debt. Jerry Ashton has more than 40 years of experience in the credit and collections industry. Robert Goff recently retired from 40 years in healthcare administration management. Craig Antico has 30 years in collections, debt buying, outsourcing, and consulting.
Drawing on their industry knowledge, the authors lay bare the inner workings of our healthcare system. They show how it produces medical bills that people cannot ever pay, including insured middle-class people who think they are covered. They tell how the early hospitals that focused on patient health evolved into today’s healthcare conglomerates focused on patient revenues. They dissect the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) to show where theory and reality do not match. They expose how our veterans get laden with medical debt that effectively tells them, “No thank you for your service.”
The authors together began RIP Medical Debt, the charity made famous in 2016 by John Oliver on HBO for abolishing $15 million in medical debt. Since 2014, RIP has purchased and forgiven more than $500 million in medical debt. RIP is on track to abolish $1 billion in medical debt by 2020.
Expressing the authors’ divergent progressive, moderate and conservative viewpoints, End Medical Debt offers pragmatic insights on such diverse solutions as promoting healthier behaviors to reduce costs and debt (personal responsibility), imposing price controls on drugs and care services, reforming health insurance, fixing the Affordable Care Act, making Medicaid an opt-out program for all who qualify, adding a Medicare Option to the ACA for people over age 50, or enacting “Medicare for All” for single-payer universal healthcare.
The authors disagree on the solutions, but they all agree on their one simple act of charity — buying and forgiving medical debt. Debt forgiveness is necessary but not sufficient. At best, it’s an interim solution for medical debt until we can agree on a better financial structure for the broken U.S. healthcare system. End Medical Debt is a major step in that direction.
“End Medical Debt confronts an important, sad truth: No one asks to be sick. It’s hard enough being poor; it’s hard enough being sick. But being poor and sick becomes a death sentence for some, a life sentence of indentured servitude for others. The bills are almost beyond belief. I went into the hospital overnight with chest pains, and the hospital bill was $25,000. It’s time to lift this yoke off the necks of some of the most vulnerable and defenseless members of society, and that is precisely what End Medical Debtdoes.”
— Alan Grayson, Former U.S. Congressman (D-FL)
End Medical Debt does more than describe the unsustainable structure of our current health care system. The book demonstrates what was always the solution: People helping people, voluntarily and without coercion. The current healthcare system has created a debt-enslaved class with few options. Necessity will produce many solutions, but in the meantime, End Medical Debt is offering hope from those willing and able to pay forward their success. Humanity at its best.”
— Ernest Hancock, Publisher, FreedomsPhoenix Talk Show Host, “Declare Your Independence”
“End Medical Debt explains that among all the developed countries, only Americans risk the probability that medical treatment will be financially inaccessible or that a family will be made destitute from a serious injury or disease. The sacrifices families make for medical care of loved ones is heartbreaking. The experience and wisdom of authors Jerry Ashton, Robert Goff and Craig Antico have resulted in the system presented in their exciting new book. Their charity, RIP Medical Debt, may well help us to turn the corner on this major problem facing quality medical care in America.”
—Nancy A. Niparko, M.D., Attending Neurologist, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
“While care providers fight to make ends meet and corporate interests seek out profit margins everywhere, politicians struggle to strike a balance as more and more Americans are compounding their serious health issues with unprecedented and unmanageable medical debt. Meanwhile, a small self-appointed group of experts from the world of health care finance are seeking solutions for consumers, providers and a broken system. Where there are no acceptable answers yet, people are creating them. Jerry Ashton, Robert Goff and Craig Antico are putting lifetimes of experience to work in End Medical Debt to spread the word that medical debt is a personal and national crisis. More so, they are offering answers that are gaining national attention.”
— Kevin A. Cahill, New York State Assemblyman; Chair, Assembly Committee on Insurance; Member, Assembly Committee on Health
“End Medical Debt is exactly what is needed to jumpstart the much-needed national discussion about our current dysfunctional for-profit health care system, and what to do about it, so patients like me don’t have to experience the financial and personal hardships caused by medical debt. We are a forgotten, disposable, invisible universe of people. There are millions of us. This book explains with passion and honesty the nightmare of medical debt”
— Joel R. Segal, Former senior legislative assistant, U.S. Congress, 2000-2019, Co-author, HR 676: “Expanded and Improved Medicare For All”
“America spends more on medical care than any other country, and the resulting medical debt is our nation’s top reason for bankruptcy and financial ruin. I’ve seen the impact. End Medical Debt offers clear answers on what people can do for themselves and society to end this scourge.”
— Ed Asner, Actor, Activist
In our age of “fake news” with journalists widely distrusted by the public, we may benefit from a better understanding of what is ethical journalism, how to identify ethical journalists, and how to support more of it.
Despite what some pundits would have us believe, good journalists do exist. They work each day with the highest professional ethical standards in mind.
According to The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), ethical journalism is “truthful, compassionate, independent and transparent.” We need ethical journalism now more than ever.
No journalist is ever wholly objective on any news topic, especially if controversial. However, good news stories written by ethical journalists are not that hard to spot.
Good journalists report all the sides in any issue as accurately and as equally as possible. Good journalists make sure all opposing viewpoints are represented fairly. No special interest get special treatment in the selection of quotes or facts.
Good journalists may have their own views on the people and events they cover, especially when controversial, but you will find no trace of it in their writings. Their news stories are free of bias. A news story may have an “angle” or “news hook,” but never a slant.
Good journalists verify all facts in a story from at least two reliable “sources,” more if possible, and ideally from a variety of sources. In a story on a traffic accident, for instance, statements from the drivers are balanced by statements by at least one eye-witness along with quotes from the investigating officer and ideally the police accident report.
Good journalists ask the tough questions. They dig for the story behind the story. The investigate and report the truth as best they can learn it. They do not accept anything they are told at face value. They stay skeptical without becoming cynical.
Good journalists verify each “fact” from as many sources as possible, the more the better. In the canon of ethics for journalists, news stories citing only one single source are discouraged, although necessary at times, but that single source must be carefully vetted and corroborated before the news story ever appears in print.
A reporter may quote a news source stating an opinion (placing the quote where it best fits the story flow), but good journalists differentiate opinions from facts in all news writing. Even if they agree, they accept as given that beliefs are not facts.
Good journalists write tight and get it right. Simple nouns and verbs do the job of reporting the news. Good news stories are free of undue adjectives and adverbs.
Features stories may show off a writer’s creativity and perspective, but not hard news stories. Opinions belong on the editorial page, not the news pages.
Good journalists are skilled at writing “straight news.” Their stories usually use an “inverted pyramid” style. The most crucial facts are on top, called “the lead,” followed by a “nut graph” or “neck” paragraph (or two) placing the news event into context. Nut graphs help readers make sense of the news The rest of the story presents facts and quotes in descending order of importance.
A playful example:
Headline: “Man bites big dog.”
Lead: “A local man yesterday was first to bite into a 15-foot hotdog offered free to the public at the grand opening of the new Mustard’s Last Stand food cart downtown.”
Nut graph or neck: “The food cart is among a dozen small businesses opening this month as part of the city’s economic revitalization initiative.”
FYI: The inverted pyramid style goes back to the earliest days of print newspapers. News stories often were and still are cut for length, from the bottom up, to fit all the stories into the available space (the “news hole” is determined by how much advertising is sold). If only the first paragraph or two sees print, that’s still enough to report the core news.
Now you have the basics of what makes any news story trustworthy.
I’m bringing all this to your attention because this week, April 22-28, is “Ethics in Journalism Week.” In connection with this observance, SPJ.org offers a simple four-part Code of Ethics that all good journalist follow:
If you read a news story in any publication that meets these ethical standards, then you are reading the work of good journalists.
We will continue to suffer fake news and unreliable reporting only if we tolerate it. Talk back. Object to unethical journalism, Never accept it a “normal.”
Whenever you spot ethical reporting in a newspaper or magazine, or on the internet, you can support quality journalism by sending a short, polite note to the editor or publisher. You can help the venture stay in business by thanking the advertisers or other backers, saying you found them through a publication you trust.
We may dislike the news being reported. We may dislike what the facts imply about some notion of reality we hold dear. That’s fine. Demand solid evidence and debate the facts openly. Truth and the rule of law uphold democratic republics.
Demand and support ethical journalism. The Fourth Estate remains our best guarantor of freedom and democracy in America and the world.
Judah Freed worked four decades in Denver as a local to national and international journalist before moving to Kauai in 2010. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Hawaii chapter of SPJ.
Please see through the misleading guest commentary by Tom Harris of the Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC), a press release now circulating internationally and published by The Garden Island newspaper on Sunday, May 18.
Harris said it is “ridiculous” to think that only industry-funded “deniers” are claiming that climate change is not real. What’s ridiculous is that Harris and the ICSC themselves are industry-funded climate change deniers.
Here are some basic facts that anyone could discover from a few minutes of web research:
AMID the restart of my life after the second cancer surgery, I’ve installed a new site theme, chosen by Melissa. Navigation requires clicking the line stack in the upper left corner or scrolling to the bottom of every screen. As time allows, I will work on making navigation better. Meanwhile, here’s an interim menu bar:
The site redesign reflects a life redesign. My restart occurs on every level.
During a recent conversation with book publicist, Cathy Lewis, we began to talk about the relatively low turnout for Book Expo America 2015 compared to prior years. We agreed that attending BEA no longer seems essential for success in the book industry. Why not?
The big houses already are sending their reps to call on the chains and indie booksellers, so they do not need BEA to pitch new titles and take orders. The medium to small publishers mostly have distributors that call upon the chains and indie booksellers, so they do not need to spend big bucks for exhibit space to reach booksellers when they already have distributors making sales pitches in the field.
Steve Hoffman at Founders Space recently returned from a “marathon business trip” to Asia. He returned with some unexpected findings about business in China that defy many of our staid stereotypes in the West. With Steve’s permission, I am quoting his findings below:
We hear that political corruption is like the weather. Everybody complains about it, but nobody can do anything to change it. Well, I believe that’s just not true. In fact, I feel taking action on the moral climate of corruption is just as necessary for our survival as taking action on the changing climate of our planet. Political corruption is a form of pollution, and we ignore it at our peril. To stimulate thought and action, therefore, I’m distilling into one essay the five most widely supported election reforms. If we can enact even one of these reforms, perhaps starting locally and going national, the decline in political corruption will be tremendous.
The five election reforms below will not be easily enacted, yet the cause is worthy.
1. Public Funding of Public Elections.
At the annual shareholders meeting of the Syngenta Corporation in Basel, Switzerland, Kauai County Council member Gary Hooser urged the transnational chemical giant to withdraw from its lawsuit against the Hawaiian island county.
Syngenta in January 2014 joined with Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and BASF in a federal suit to block the enforcement of controversial Kauai Ordinance 960, which regulates testing agrochemicals on GMO seed crops on the garden island.
Enacted in late 2013 by Kauai County Council in an override of the island mayor’s veto, Ordinance 960 requires the GMO seed companies to disclose when and where and how much they spray toxic chemicals on their test crops. The law also requires a 500 foot buffer between the testing areas and local schools, hospital and homes.
A friend recently asked me for advice on how to send his email securely. I had to ask what he meant by “secure.”
Did he mean a password-protected email account? Practically all email accounts are password-protected today, even Yahoo and Google, plus virtually every viable email app require password authentication for both sending and receiving email from a remote IMAP or POP mail server.
LIHUE – This week, the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group based in Washington, D.C., submitted several information requests to Hawaii state and county officials about meetings and communications with large biotech companies during the debate over Kauai’s pesticide and disclosure legislation, Bill 2491. The bill, now signed into law as “Ordinance 960”, requires biotech companies to disclose pesticide use information and establish buffer zones between their fields and schools, hospitals and residential areas.
Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto created this beautiful yet terrifying time-lapse map of the 2,053 nuclear explosions on earth between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May 1998. The video leaves out all tests since 1998, including North Korea’s questionable nuclear tests.
Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever that country detonates a nuclear weapon. A running tally appears on the top and bottom bars of the screen. look for the national flags to pop up as countries enter the “nuclear club.”
Hashimoto began the project in 2003, saying his goal was showing “the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” The video starts very slowly in 1945 and builds momentum with the crescendo starting around 1962, tapering off only recently. The overall effect is overwhelming and chilling.
Ideally, this video motivates you to effectively advocate the peaceful resolution of our world conflicts.
Kauai County Council representative Gary Hooser talks about why he drafted Bill 2491 and what he hopes it will do for Kaua’i. He also lets us know what we can do to help to get it passed and what we can do as citizen action to stop the poisoning of our island from chemicals and GMO pollens. Please repost this video on your own website.
When it comes to civil rights, the U.S. Supreme Court seems to give with one hand what it takes away with the other.
Many celebrated yesterday’s decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied equal liberties to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. In a parallel ruling, the high court rebuffed efforts to undo a lower-court ruling that same-sex marriage should be legal in California.
In both of these cases, the Supreme Court ruled that all people in the United States should enjoy equal rights and equal protection under the law, as provided in the U.S. Constitution.
Kauai, 25 May 2013 — Ever since January 2013 when Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke on Kauai about the GMO research crops contaminating the island ecology, Garden Isle residents increasingly have been speaking out against the biotech companies on Kauai.
The latest demonstration took place today on Kuhio Highway in Kapaa. At least 200 people from all ages and backgrounds lined both sides of the road. Waving signs and chanting slogans like “No label, no table,” opponents of genetically modified foodstuff called for GMO labeling as well as the eviction of the biotech companies from Kauai. Lawsuits are pending, apparently.
The national and international movement against GMOs continues to grow. If you are not already involved and vocal, please do your research, get the facts behind the industry propaganda, and then add your voice to this vitally important cause.
Given the rapid growth of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement across America and the world, these songs are as relevant today as more than 40 years ago.
The original recording of the classic Buffalo Springfield song brings it all back with vivid images.