Coca-Cola Concocts Flimsy Excuse to Close Unionized Plants

What I learned at Ms.Marx:

According to a Seattle news broadcast this morning, coca-cola is closing 3 plants in Washington (Aberdeen, Bellingham, and Marysville) despite having negotiated with striking workers. These plants will close permanently on September 17th, 2010.

…The main issue in the strike was the company’s attempt to raise insurance premiums for workers. Far from a small increase, workers’ insurance rate would increase as much as 800% and retirees would no longer be able to buy into the health care program. Coca-cola cancelled the striking workers’ benefits, leaving them without any health care and forcing them to return to work prior to bargaining, which left them in a tough position at the bargaining table. The strikers then filed a class action lawsuit and unfair labour practices against the company for cancelling benefits.

…A company spokesman cited a new tax as a reason for closing plants. This tax will cost them a total of 2 cents per can (that will likely be passed on to consumers).

That’s interesting… Coca-Cola recorded $1.54 billion in profit during the last quarter of 2009. It seems like these taxes and unions are a real hardship for them.


Domestic violence is a “pre-existing condition”?

From the SEUI blog:

Insurance companies have used the excuse of “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage to countless Americans. From cancer patients to the elderly suffering from arthritis, these organizations have padded their profit margins by limiting coverage to patients deemed “high risk” because of their medical condition.

But, in DC and eight other states, including Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming, insurance companies have gone too far, claiming that “domestic violence victim” is also a pre-existing condition.

…In 1994, an informal survey conducted by the Subcommittee on Crime and Criminal Justice of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that 8 of the 16 largest insurers in the country used domestic violence as a factor when deciding whether to extend coverage and how much to charge if coverage was extended.

It is clear that insurance companies refuse to police themselves. It’s up to us to call on Congress to take action now to pass health care reform and end discrimination against patients with pre-existing conditions.

UPDATE: The National Women’s Law Center has just confirmed that in April, Arkansas actually passed a law prohibiting insurance discrimination against domestic violence survivors…

By Maria Tchijov

Via Feministing.

Please email, tweet, facebook, repost, and reblog this. This is cRaZy shit and people need to KNOW. BTW, I love the invisible hand of the market.


Invisible Hand

Dems Ready to Abandon Public Option… Big Surprise

I swear to GOD, Democrats and the Obama Admin have NO SPINE. They are preparing to give in to angry, incoherent mobs.

Every human has a right to health, and that includes health care. Private insurers do not operate on this foundation. They only provide health care so long as it makes a profit for the owners. Health is not a commodity. It is a human right. Ability to pay should never determine whether you get a long life or not.

When will we see a politician who is a friend of the poor?


Death panels?

A euthanasia mandate?

The thought that it is “downright evil” to provide health care to the poor?

Linking health care coverage for the poor to Nazism?

“Keep your government hands off my Medicare”?

True fascism… is happening in this country today”?

“Hitler…called his program the final solution. I kind of wonder what we’re going to call ours”?

And then there’s this, which also leaves me dumbstruck:

During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, “How many of you have Medicare?” Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

At another point, a small business owner who supported health reform asks the audience how many people in this room “do not have health insurance of some kind.” Only one hand seemed to be raised. “I think the people who are objecting,” she noted, “are the people who have insurance.”

Adventures in Medicine

Recently, I had medical adventures of the first order.

Background: I am distrustful of doctors, as I have a long and sordid history of being treated poorly by them, from disrespect to careless misdiagnosis to open homophobia.

I also don’t like my access to health and health care to be controlled by my ability to obtain expensive health insurance from corrupt companies who care not for my health, and by uncaring professionals who treat me dismissively but take my money and go home to lifestyles ten times more comfortable than my own. I don’t like to have to go to a new doctor and beg for my needed medications in the hope they will deign it acceptable every time I move.

Anecdote: I once visited a doctor who made me wait in an examination room for 45 minutes, stopped in for five minutes, stared at the wall the entire time I spoke to him, and, while still refusing to even look at me, recommended I undergo an expensive and invasive procedure. Once home, I researched my symptoms on my own and discovered that procedure was not necessary or recommended for patients with my condition. I talked with my parents about my poor treatment, at which point I learned that my father knew this doctor. I found out later that the doctor was embarrassed to learn whose daughter I was and apologized profusely to my father for the way he treated me.

THAT IS SO FUCKED UP. He would have treated me like a human if he had realized I was related to someone who had the ability to affect his professional reputation. Instead, I got treated like a “regular” patient, and apparently, as he expressed embarrassment regarding his behavior, he knows this treatment is unacceptable but does it anyway when he thinks the patient has no power. But why?

Present day: I moved from across the country to New York. So I had to go through the whole no insurance/obtaining insurance/finding new doctors rigmarole again. I live in the United States and have a modest income, so this means I have the opportunity to be fucked while not on insurance, have a very limited selection of doctors once on insurance, and be exploited by insurance and the doctors when I actually seek health care. I also have the opportunity to pay enormous out-of-pocket costs for anything not covered by my insurance.

First I sought mental health care, as I am affected by debilitating anxiety when not on meds. Meds must be prescribed by a psychiatrist. I needed to find a psychiatrist fast as I had spent a long time unemployed, and therefore uninsured, had gone off my meds, and was experiencing a precipitous decline in mental health.

I called the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the LGBT clinic, but they didn’t take my insurance. I grew worried because I had experienced homophobia from mental health workers before, and it does not help my mental health problems. They recommended another clinic, where I went to see a general practitioner. She refused to prescribe my meds and said I needed to go to a psychiatrist. But though the clinic accepted my insurance for the GP, it wouldn’t accept it for a psychiatrist.

So I searched for lists of LGBT-friendly doctors in New York City. None of the names I found were covered by my insurance. Days were passing and I was getting worse.

I started calling every person listed under “psychiatry” on my insurance company’s website. I called five a day. I mostly left messages, and few called me back. Whenever I did talk to someone, they told me I would have to wait one to two months to get an appointment. That was not possible in my condition.

I found a walk-in psychiatry hospital. I took off work and went. They told me there were too many patients and that I would have to try and come back another day.

I started crying every day. Getting up and going to work was a herculean effort. I started missing work as my mental health deteriorated and I couldn’t handle my duties. I stopped going out to see friends or purchase food because my social anxiety had taken hold too. The thought of leaving the house caused panic attacks that made me think I was dying.

I called a mental health emergency helpline. They told me they couldn’t get me an appointment unless I threatened suicide or that I might harm someone. They suggested I try the walk-in clinic I had already been turned away from. I begged for more options but they said they had none.

I discovered my insurance had a special mental health phone number. I called it, but they said the same thing as the other line. I had to threaten suicide or harm, elsewise they weren’t going to get me an appointment, and I would just have to wait the one-two months to get an appointment on my own. But I begged for help until the lady relented and said if I called at least ten more providers and still couldn’t get an appointment, she would help me.

So I called a dozen more psychiatrists. No one would give me an emergency appointment. I called the insurance line back and spoke to the same lady. She told me that she might be able to get me an emergency appointment in Long Island. I explained that I had no car and couldn’t travel outside of the city. She said that was very problematic, but she would think about it and would call me back.

Surprisingly, she called me back with a phone number for a “Dr. Z” (not his real name) and told me she thought he might have openings. I called him and he did.

I was very uncertain about seeing a random man about sensitive but vital mental health needs. I was also deeply afraid of confronting more homophobia. Until I looked him up and observed that among his specialties were anxiety and LGBT issues. I began to hope.

Continue reading

Treating Mental Illness with Herbs

I’m tossing this little post out there because I want people who are able to remain comfortable during this economic downturn to get a glimpse of the choices that some people face when money and jobs disappear. I’m not whining for the sake of sympathy… if I went totally broke I could probably find friends and family to lend me money until I found work. But nobody really wants to go that route.

I’m facing a tough choice: how to maintain my mental health while unemployed, uninsured, and running out of savings? Previously, when on health insurance, I would go to a psychiatrist regularly, get a prescription, and fill it at the pharmacy.

Then I quit my job and moved. As I began my job search, the economy tanked. My circumstances changed rapidly. Finding, vetting and paying for a new psychiatrist is not an option. Even if money were no object, I am not thrilled about learning the hard way (again) whether my psychiatrist is a homophobe or not, whether s/he will say that I had a distant mother, and that made me queer, and that’s why I struggle with mental illness.

I started splitting my last pills in half, to make my final prescription refill last longer. Then taking them every second day instead of every day. Still no job- but the symptoms started coming back. Friends have offered to split their prescriptions with me- something I can’t accept, because it isn’t fair for them to put their mental health on the line for the sake of mine- there is no net gain.

A friend from out of town visited. She’s in herb school. We talked about doctors controlling my access to mental health care. I could probably afford to pay for the pills alone, but I would have to see a new psychiatrist first and convince them to write a prescription for the same dose of the same medicine that was working for me before. Though it is likely the psychiatrist would write the prescription I need, it is not given- they are in control, they could decide not to. We talked about how money was impeding my ability to get the care I needed, care that if I go without, will eventually impede my ability to find and keep work, leading to a really crappy cycle I want to avoid.

She suggested I try herbs. They are commonly available and require no prescription or doctor visits, i.e. no one controls my access to them. They aren’t cheap, but the expense seems small compared to the alternative of going unmedicated.

So I’m trying it. You have to take them more frequently, and in larger quantities. The therapeutic effects that I previously got from a single tiny pill per day I now get from hundreds of drops from tinctures spread throughout the day- it kind of makes me feel like I’m on a constant drip.

So far, so good. We’ll see.