Health Care In Politics

Health Care In Politics

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While most industrialized nations have government paid, ‘single-payer’ health systems, the United States is a sole outlier. The US system is far more complicated than any other in the world, as it features the competing interests of providers, pharmaceuticals and insurers.

The tug of war between these factions often leaves consumers – the people, in other words – stuck in the middle. Insurers fight with doctors and hospitals to keep health-care at a reasonable cost; pharmaceutical companies want to charge as much as possible for medication, to cover the high R&D costs it requires to make a viable medicine. This whole process is a messy, complicated and ruthless system that ultimately affects the low and middle class the most.
US CapitolPharmaceuticals

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was supposed to create a market-based solution to the issues that existed. Instead, Obamacare mandated people buy private insurance, in the hopes that it would make insurance cheaper. So far, though enrollment in Obamacare has been strong, the cost of healthcare is not getting cheaper.

This has made ‘health-care’ a major issue in the upcoming presidential elections. “Health-care” is a misnomer, of course, since America has the finest doctors in the world; the issue is not getting care or the care provided, but affording the care or affording the insurance that covers part of the cost of that care.

The Republican front runner, Donald Trump, points to a market-based solution: get rid of unnecessary legal barriers. In specific, health-care is not transferable across state lines. A resident of New Jersey could not buy a policy from Pennsylvania, or vice versa, even if a Pennsylvania policy is 25% cheaper. State exchanges were actually supposed to be a key feature of Obamacare originally, but that was eventually edited out of the final bill package. Trump accurately says that opening up cross-state competition would decreases costs substantially, and there is every reason to suspect he may be correct: his plan would not halt the spiraling costs, however, it would merely alleviate it somewhat or slow it slightly.

The Democratic candidates offer two alternative solutions. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner, has spoken of her desire to take the ACA/Obamacare and add some structural tweaks to strengthen it. Her opponent, Bernie Sanders, is advocating to change the system completely: uproot what exists and replace it with a European health system. This would mean an overhaul of the entire existing apparatus, from the local doctor to the largest R&D lab of a pharmaceutical company.

The issues are manifold. Sanders’ is unlikely to get the sweeping healthcare he wants. The Republicans could likely get their plans passed, but they would do very little to fix the health-care problems. Clinton is effectively advocating for the status quo, which is insufficient.

The situation is complex. The greatest obstacle to increased health coverage is profit motives. Adding government might not be the best solution. The status quo is also untenable in the long term. The only ‘clean’ solution would be restructuring for-profit healthcare into non-profit healthcare. That means having doctors, pharmaceuticals and insurers all working to cover costs, instead of turning a profit. That adjustment would likely cut costs tremendously… but it’s extremely unlikely to happen voluntarily, and there is no political will to force that sort of change.

A Breach Of American Liberty

A Breach Of American Liberty

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On Wednesday, December 2,2015 around 11 a.m., a mass shooting took place in San Bernadino, California at a state-run facility. The shooting occurred during a holiday party at the Inland Regional Medical Center. There were fourteen casualties and twenty-two injured; most of the victims were county workers. Later that day reports were issued stating the police were in pursuit of a black SUV that had fled the scene. Police confirmed that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik, operators of the SUV, were killed by police fire.

Farook was employed by the Inland Regional Medical Center. According to witnesses, he arrived to the party and left shortly after following a dispute with a fellow worker. He and his wife returned ten to twenty minutes later, unleashing gunfire. After searching Farook and Malik’s home, police found tactical gear, twelve pipe-bombs, and other weapons. The FBI currently believe that Farook had been radicalized and in contact with a Jihadist group in the area.

fbi vs apple

The FBI has requested assistance from tech-giant, Apple, Inc., to help unlock the suspect’s iPhone, which they believe may have valuable information concerning the case. In fact, a court order has been issued by US Judge Sherri Pym, using the All Writs Act of 1789 as her justification, for Apple to provide a “backdoor” route to cracking the encryption on Farook’s work-issued iPhone. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has provided data and even manpower in the form of engineers to advise the FBI team, however he refuses to submit to the government’s request that Apple create a new version of the iPhone operating system, which would bypass several security features, and possibly threaten the privacy of all Apple users.

In Cook’s open letter to Apple customers, he makes this statement: “We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone…. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

In a simple world, the answers would of course be simple. However, should Apple adhere to the court order, a Pandora’s box could potentially be opened. This system that Apple is being asked to create would essentially be a master key with the ability to open millions of locks. That may seem insignificant, but we’re talking about accounts, businesses, restaurants, banks, and health information that would be available to anyone who could copy the technique the FBI is forcing Apple to develop. Apple is a company known for the security measures it takes to ensure its customer’s privacy; this would destroy their reputation. While Bill Gates may not fully agree with Tim Cook and his stand for the preservation of Americans’ personal information, others, such as Mark Cuban and Jack Dorsey, are supporting the Apple CEO’s decision.

Student Loan Nightmare

Student Loan Nightmare

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Student debt within the United States has more than tripled to an alarming $1.2 trillion from 2004 to 2014. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, many student loans have gone above most other consumer debts. They have even surpassed credit cards and car loans, which has become the second biggest source of debt for the United States.

Bill Lockyer, the California State Treasurer, said that student debt has grown to such excess that it has become a true burden to the future of many people. We have to make major changes if we will stand a chance at keeping a positive future for our next generation. As a result of this debt, some people have chosen not to attend college because they do not want to be haunted by the debt acquired from their education. 
Debt
For a doctor, you need a four-year undergraduate degree, and after that, you spend another four years in medical school. In 2014, the average debt for a medical doctor was around $176,000. If you go with the standard repayment option, it will take an average of 10 years to pay off the college debt. Research, however, has shown that it can take as long as 21 years to pay off the loans. The high cost of an education has discouraged many from going to college because of the debts. Most students will have a debt of around $27,000 by the time they have left college, provided they can even afford to continue going. Some have had to quit because it became too expensive. Tammy Jimenez, a graduate from San Francisco State University, said that she cannot even talk about her loans because if she talks about the debts she incurred, it would just lead to crying. After receiving a BA in Communications, Jimenez received a $20,000 debt in student loans. She now waits tables at a restaurant in San Francisco while trying to find a job in her educational field of study. 

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Excessive Use of Force

Excessive Use of Force

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Over the last five years, the nation has become polarized on one issue in particular, excessive force and racial bias in policing. The use of excessive force by police officers is not a new phenomenon, and even the racial bias that has a massive impact on the manner in which police officers police specific areas, and the level of hostility used when engaging specific groups, is nothing new. However, the frequency in which this hostility leads to the use of deadly force has definitely intensified over the last five to seven years. Another point that has to be examined during the anatomization of the facts surrounding this topic is the disproportionate representation of black male victims of this type of violence.

The problem is that there has been very little in the way of accountability as far as police departments are concerned. Police force accountability has to be developed as part of a culture in which officers are held accountable at every level — from the patrol officer to the police chief. Unfortunately, the Blue Wall of Silence that solidifies the unspoken code that demands that no police officer offer testimony against another cop ensures that it is virtually impossible when so called, good officers have no outlet through which they can report officers who are violating the rights of citizens.

To Protect and Serve

Even the manner in which this type of police violence is reported is dependent heavily on the entity or the organization doing the reporting. According to a recent article by ABC News, during a four-year span there were 147,362 incidents of police-related violence, resulting in 6,163 formal complaints being filed. Out of those complaints only 654 were upheld by police review boards. In another study, conducted by Allison Collins for the group Human Rights Watch, it was discovered that the Justice Department receives more than 12,000 complaints of excessive force each year, and less than 50 of those result in a conviction. Collins stressed that it was more the fault of the legal system than it was the complainants.

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Purpose of Our Reviews!

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The goal of our organization is to bring latest and most pertinent commentary on the current legislative and judiciary matter facing our nations. From Gay Rights to Immigration, there are many positions based on fact and perception that the public should have the ability to obtain deeper analysis on.

It is the responsibility of the electorate to be informed on the decision before them and before our nation. The purpose of Northwest Defenders Legal Review is to bring about greater awareness of the discussion in a more succinct and yet, deeper way.