Chron workers protest health-care hikes

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About half of the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial staff were packed into their third floor conference room last Wednesday night. And according to people present, it wasn't a news meeting or a press conference.

Angered over years of concessions, buyouts, lost pension, and sacrificed pay raises, the unionized reporters are organizing to fight steep increases in their health-care costs.

"Someone said they felt insulted," Carl Hall, an officer with the Pacific Media Workers Guild local 39521, which represents the Chronicle in negotations with Hearst Corp., which owns the Chronicle, told me. He was in the room that night, asking Chronicle reporters for a plan of action. "So I asked, 'how many other people feel that way?' Just about every hand went up."

Chronicle staffers have launched a social media campaign against Hearst Corp., which owns the paper, as they both butt heads at the bargaining table -- the Chronicle demanding more health care contributions, and Hearst demanding staffers and reporters switch to a company-provided health care program.

The Chronicle's employees currently get their health care through the Guild. The union bargains for healthcare directly with providers, and employees and Hearst all put into the pot.

In negotiations for the past year, Hearst and the Media Workers Guild haven't been able to come to an agreement about the future of their plan. Hearst wants the Chronicle workers to ditch the Guild-provided health care and sign onto a traditional company health care plan, provided by Hearst. The switch would mean Chronicle workers would lose all health-care bargaining rights, and most employees would see a cost increase -- some premiums going up from around $700 to as much as $3,000 a year, according to the Guild.

"Wealthy @HearstCorp wants to gut healthcare plan at @SFChronicle @SFGate. It's a huge paycut!" tweeted Peter Fimrite, a city reporter at the Chronicle. Chron staffers are tweeting their frustration with Hearst to the hashtag "#makesussick" for the week, according to the Guild.

Adding up the reach of the reporters' Twitter accounts, their tweets have reached at least 100,000 people so far. Chronicle staffers in support of the campaign changed all of their social media avatars into a red square, and are asking that supporters do the same.

There are more than 270 reporters at The Chronicle whose health care is on the line.

The battle for their health plans is coinciding with the first week of The Chronicle's new paywall, with the newspaper asking readers for $14.99 a month to access news online through the newly designed website, SFChronicle.com.

Hearst offered a 1.5 percent pay raise along with the switch to company-provided health care, but employees would still end up losing money in the end, Chronicle staffers said. You can do the calculations yourself with a game the Media Workers Guild created, the "Hearst Health Care" game.

Though the details of the health plans are complex, particularly hard hit in Hearst's proposals would be employees providing health care for their families.
"Raising three young daughters, I'm exposed to every cold and virus you can imagine," Chron photographer Mike Kepka wrote, in an open letter to Hearst. "Now, my rising healthcare costs are eating another hole in my paycheck -- one that would get even bigger under Hearst’s proposed plan."

Fortunately for Kepka, his wife is able to provide healthcare for his family, he wrote. But not everyone at The Chronicle is so fortunate.

As The Chronicle staffers rallied outside of their offices for health care on Mission Street last October, The Guardian spoke to Bernadette Fay, a Chronicle copy editor. She is the sole provider of health care to her family, she said.

Her husband is self employed, her 18-year-old daughter is in college, and her 12-year-old son is in middle school. They all depend on her for their health coverage.

“We've already tightened our belts at my house, as I know many families have  -- I take my lunch to work every day; my car is a 1993 Honda civic, and, yes, I ride my bike to work when I can,” she said. Fay is cutting back, but she and her fellow staffers aren't seeing contributions rise from Hearst, who contribute $148 per employee -- for employees with and without families alike. "Frankly, if the Kaiser family plan being offered by (Hearst) is the only option, I'm not sure what we'll do."

 Hearst cancelled negotiations on the Chronicle's Guild five separate times between the end of May and October 2, according to a timeline provided by the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

 

The Guild filed an unfair labor relations complaint with the National Labor Relations Board last November, alleging Hearst was not bargaining in good faith. The NLRB confirmed that it dismissed the case, but with a caveat. "The case is not closed per se-- we issued a merit dismissal letter," said Tim Peck, the assistant to the regional director of the San Francisco branch of the NLRB.

By the time the complaint reached the company’s desk, Hearst had stopped stalling and resumed negotations, rendering the complaint moot. But if Hearst engages in alleged stalling tactics again, Peck said, the old complaint could be reopened.  "What it states is that the charge has merit."
The stalling tactic was likely used to push the Guild to the edge, Carl Hall told The Guardian. The Guild's health-care reserve is running a deficit of around $100,000 a month, he said. Without increased contributions from Hearst, the fund will run out of money iin their reserve within the space of a year -- rendering the Guild unable to bargain with health care providers for insurance.

Hearst corp. media representative Lisa Bagley declined to be interviewed, and the Hearst representative at the Chronicle, Marketing Director Michael Keith, said he was unable to discuss ongoing negotiations. "You've gotta ask, and I've gotta say no," Keith said.

The Chronicle's plight struck Alisa Messer, the president of City College of San Francisco's union AFT 2121 with a note of irony. City College employees have been lambasted in the editorial pages of the Chronicle in the past few months as they negotiate for their part-timers to keep their health care -- a rarity in California community colleges.

"We've frequently heard from administrators and The Chronicle that we shouldn't have health care for our part-time employees," Messer said. "But we know those are benefits that workers deserve and need -- that shouldn't be taken away from us, or workers at the Chronicle."

The Guild also reached out to local San Francisco politicians to support Chronicle workers publicly, with Guild representative Kat Anderson speaking with aides from the Board of Supervisors, city insiders said. Supervisors Eric Mar, John Avalos, David Campos, London Breed and Mark Farrell, as well as the mayor, were contacted by The Guardian but did not get back to us by press time.

Hall said all options are on the table. "The idea of going on strike is a little far-fetched right now," he said. "But if we can't bargain in the next period of weeks or months at the negotiating table we'll have to look at options, including those classic union tools."

Comments

It's worse with the public sector and of course the federal entitlement benefits - the unfunded liabilities there run into the trillions.

But even in the private sector, the costs are too high, and business really needs to get itself OUT of the business of being a healthcare provider - no other western nation makes healthcare the responsibility of your employer - it's a flawed and doomed model.

ObamaCare takes a step in the right direction, making it illegal for an individual not to carry insurance. The next step is surely doing away with employer benefits, and instead giving individuals a voucher to help them buy private insurance.

It is the only way we will get out of the mess. The Chron's situation is irrelevant in the big picture.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

Health Care benefits are under control. Health insurance costs are out of control. Forcing everyone to purchase expensive crappy insurance won't solve the underlying problems. Once Obamacare's multiple sharp moving parts start whirring, people are going to run from that abortion of a law like the running sore that is today's Democrat Party.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

In that case, it has even less support than I imagined.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 6:04 am

I am not a liberal. Had Obama run on a plan to force people to purchase private insurance, not negotiate prescription drug prices and not cover everyone, then he would have had a rougher go of it against McBain.

The Republicans have lurched so far to the right off of a cliff that they've left a vacuum which the Democrats have occupied, leaving voters with two options, far right and center right. Of course Obama did not run as a center right candidate, he ran as a center left candidate.

That said, the Rube Goldberg machine of the ACA has so many sharp moving parts that after few of years of filing ACA tax returns, my bet is around 2016-18 that the individual mandate is repealed.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 6:24 am

surprising that we have two center-right parties. In Europe, the two main parties are usually right and left, but that has never been the case in the US. Parties do not exist in isolation - they simply reflect what most people are willing to support.

It's an egaggeration to say that Obama ran on a platform of socialized healthcare. He ran on a platform to include the uninsured and to stop the "pre-existing conditions" exclusion clause, and he delivered on both of those.

But I voted for Obama in 2008, and it most certainly was NOT with the idea that I was voting for European-style government-run healthcare. The fact that even the Dem's could not pass that option of ObamaCare was simply a reflection of the fact that the people "back home" were giving the Congressional Dem's a lot of grief about that prospect.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 7:01 am

Yet when you actually ask what people in this "center-right nation" think, you find there's broad majority support for higher taxes on the rich, less economic inequality, preserving and strengthening social security, opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and socialized medicine (with near consensus levels for at least a public option).

So if we have two conservative parties which give us just the opposite, it's not because that's what people demand. It's because this country is not a democracy.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 7:25 am

have a point. But you don't know "most americans" and the small subset that you meet in liberal SF circles are far from typical.

If the "people" wanted left-wing policies, we would not have a House that is dominated by the GOP, nor a Senate that rejects socialized healthcare and voted the other day for Keystone.

You're the one who is out of touch, not I.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 7:57 am

The Senate is always more conservative than than the general populations because the states with the smallest populations tend to be more conservative, yet they have equal representation in that body.

The House also doesn't reflect the politics of the general population, since many states have been gerrymandered to the Republicans' advantage. In the 2012 election, more Americans voted for Dems for the House of Representatives than Republicans. You can look it up.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 9:29 am

While no one of the three branches of elected government are perfect taken individually, taken together they are probably more democratic than any other system I have seen in any other country, and certainly more so than much of Europe. That is hardly surprising since the founding fathers went to some lengths to try and avoid their problems.

That our system has endured this long is a testament to the idea that our government broadly reflects the will of the people. A majority of people support Keystone, reject socialized healthcare and do not want higher taxes. So Congress votes accordingly.

As Churchill opined, you may find flaws in our democratic system, but it is still better than all the alternatives.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:24 am

Germany and South Africa have state of the art representative democracies. The US is operating with a threadbare and shopworn antique.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:38 am

South Africa has an even higher rate of violent crime (and in fact, most types of crime) than the US. whatever they are doing there isn't working, no matter how theoretically perfect their representational model.

As for Germany, they employ a form of PR. While you probably approve of PR, since it typically gives undue power to fringe parties and policies, the practical outcome is paralysis at the central level of givernment, as it invariably requires coalitions of disparate parties and politicians.

But feel free to move to South Africa since you think things are so much better there.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 11:00 am

Obama did campaign on a public option: "... a public option health plan for a new National Health Insurance Exchange... [to ensure that] all the plans offered are at least as generous as the new public plan and meet the same standards for quality and efficiency."

The House of Representatives *passed* a public option, but the Senate didn't, quite: they had to drop it so they could end a Repuglican filibuster. The House-passed public option was killed in committee and neither Obama nor Nancy Pelosi shed a tear since they have no problem getting good care.

The American People, now, were in a fucking *landslide* for the public option: 66% in favor.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/health/policy/21poll.html?_r=0

It's Bold Troll Tropes #1 and #2.

1 Presidents always move to the center (implied)

2 Progressive ideas are not popular

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 7:38 am

they were getting massive complaints and protests from their constituents at home. Remember the Tea Party, and how it went from nothing to two million people in just a few months? If the "public option" crowd had been able to marshall that level of public support, it would have passed. They didn't and so it didn't.

Of course, if you phrase a poll cleverly enough, so that it sounds like people will get something for nothing (who doesn't want "free healthcare"?) then you can get a majority approving. That doesn't mean people are willing to pay significantly higher taxes to cover 40 million more people. And they are not.

Making it illegal not to buy insurance, as with motor insurance, is the correct path.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 8:01 am

Democrats were threatened with political oblivion if they gave people a choice for health care financing that did not involve insurer profit. That is if the Democrats were not under corporate thrall already and needed to be told.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 8:20 am

Democrats to nix the public option. Americans just do not trust their government enough to hand over responsibility for their health to them.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 10:29 am

It was a *Repuglican* *Filibuster* which kept a public option out of the final bill, not "massive protests" more properly described as agitated nut-bags scooped up in an astroturf machine beyond their ken.

The public option was not "free healthcare for 40 million people" but rather was simply a means for people below the Medicare starting age to buy into the system by paying a fair premium. This public option would have put a great amount of downward pressure on the costs of private plans.

What the poll asked did not include "free healthcare" -- which the troll so deceptively puts in quotes. Here's some of the questions asked and answered:

"Would you favor or oppose the government's offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan like Medicare that would compete with private health insurance plans"

72% landslide with even a plurality of Republicans agreeing.

"Would you be willing or not willing to pay higher taxes so that all Americans have health insurance that they can't lose no matter what?

57% in favor of *Socialized* *Medicine!*

"Do you think the government would do a better or worse job than private insurance compaines in...
... providing medical coverage?

50% better, 34% worse, 2% same, 14% no opinion

... holding down heath care costs?
59% better, 26% worse, 3% same, 12% no opinion

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/06/21/health/policy/21poll_graphi...

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 8:22 am

efficient as the private sector at negotiating prices.

People always say yes to more chocies for ehalthcare but it is highly unlikely that the average voter understands just how expensive universal provision would be.

If people had been told that it would be funded by a national VAT of 10% on all purchases, I suspect that the result would be very different.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 10:32 am

that it would be funded by a national VAT of 10% on all purchases, I suspect that the result would be very different" -- but of course there was no plan for that and never any need.

Why, if people were told that they could sell troll bones for $750/lb., there'd soon be a deficit of trolls.

What good would troll bones do anybody? I don't know... just grind them up and look at the pile and grin?

:0)

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

Asking if people want free, unlimited healthcare provided by the government will always solicit a favorable response because, well, who doesn't want free everything.

But the question should instead be asked with a specific funding obligation, whether that be a 10% VAT or any other tax hike. Many people who have subsidized care from their jobs would be far less likely to support free healthcare for other people if it is going to hit them where it hurts - in the wallet.

Throw in waiting lists, death panels and bureaucratic incompetance, and a no vote is a no brainer. Do you really want the same folks who run Muni running your healthcare?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

against the very idea of government service.

Such use is in synch with my observation that MUNI seems to be run in failure mode by intent.

I'll point, once again, to the San Francisco civil grand jury's report on MUNI:

"The Civil Grand Jury learned that Muni uses switchbacks on 0.03% to 0.06% of all Muni
runs. While that number appears small, it represents as many as 14,000 to 31,000 riders a month
who are inconvenienced while waiting for a replacement car.* Muni management describes
problems such as inadequate rolling stock, scheduling snafus, poor utilization of staff, and lack
of effective technology as creating the need for switchbacks. Management also claimed that use
of switchbacks improves overall system performance and that it is a standard practice among
metropolitan transit systems in the United States and Europe. Neither of these claims is
supported by facts or evidence. On the contrary, Muni could provide no statistical support for
performance improvement as a result of switchbacks, and SAN FRANCISCO IS IN THE DISTINCT MINORITY IN USING THIS PRACTICE TO REDUCE DELAYS [emphasis added]."

http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/Muni-Final-Repor...

*just from switchbacks alone; does not include many more who are inconvenienced when cars are capriciously taken out of service instead of being merely turned around.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 6:57 am

meaning that it is populated by exactly the type of interventionist busybody who has too much time on his/her hands. Their "findings" cannot be trusted.

Muni fails primarily because it is not really run as a business, but rather as a bloated government services. That means:

1) Managers are bureaucrats with no real business sense

2) Workers are overpaid, with ridiculously unsustainable health and pension packages.

3) Archaic, rigid work practices with almost no ability to fire or demote incompetence.

4) A byzantine labyrinthe of routes, some of which (like the 37) boggle the imagination. It's usually empty.

You don't need a "grand jury" of under-employed guys with beards wearing sandals to figure out what is wrong with Muni. It just needs anyone with a gram of common sense to just look at it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 7:57 am

The Civil Grand Jury appeared to have an agenda that they were pushing on this that was not substantiated by the evidence.

Muni fails because the MTA is corrupt and, like a business, is run in order to generate "profits" or accounting surpluses that then shift unconstrained finds out of the agency onto other projects.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 8:01 am

principles. No successful business could ever be run like Muni. It would cease to exist rapidly.

Muni endures only because competition is not allowed, and because the city can simply throw more and more money at it regardless of performance.

Posted by anon on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 8:14 am

self-selected group. They are volunteers, attracting people who are opinionated, interventionist and of course have a lot of time on their hands.

Neutral and objective, they are not.

The people we should really want on there would never do it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 8:18 am

Superior Court judges appoint the CGJ from a pool of applicants, it is self-selected with filters.

The work of the Civil Grand Jury has been good on issues like Ethics the sleeping watchdog and the corruption in the development approvals process.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 8:31 am

Put it this way - you wouldn't want to be tried by a volunteer jury.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:11 am

are barefoot hippies -- at least to the extent such was done -- but I'd have to ask marcos what he thought the "agenda" he claims consists of: I'm far more concerned about his agenda.

marcos, what exactly did you, in your position on the civil advisory committee do to refute the CGJ's finding that switchbacks do not have the universal use in directly comparable transit systems as MUNI claims? What evidence of their efficacy did MUNI provide you that the CGJ was not privy to?

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 9:05 am

conviction that you two are exactly the type of people who should NOT be on such a panel. Unfortunately, you are typically the kind of people who are.

Since you both have agenda's, I find it amusing that you would criticize others who also do.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:14 am

Most civil grand jurors are retired mainstream moderate white people who have the spare 20 hours per week to devote to this.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:34 am

an "agenda"?

If they are as you describe, then it would appear they actually lack an agenda.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:55 am

Mixed LRV surface/subway line management really is not my area of expertise, so I deferred to those who knew more than I.

There was no evidence on the record that the other two American cities that have mixed subway/surface streetcars, Philly or Boston, were contacted by the CGJ. So there was no evidence on the record that the MTA was an outlier.

The consensus was to ask that the MTA make switchback decisions as early as possible, to indicate and announce switchbacks as early as possible, and to view the destination sign on the LRV as an implicit contract with the rider.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 10:33 am

"The Jury surveyed a number of other transit systems, some in the Bay Area as well as other American cities, and even Paris, to determine whether these transit systems consider switchbacks an acceptable tool. Our survey found only one other system using switchbacks in the normal course of business. The others felt this practice was unnecessary and disrespectful to their riders."

Did they lie to the judge?

"Responses are requested from the Mayor, Board of Supervisors, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation, and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Citizens’ Advisory Council."

marcos, would you kindly direct me to where I can read these legally-mandated responses?

"CONCLUSION
Muni struggles with many frustrating issues. It has a huge job serving hundreds of thousands of passengers every day. Jury interviews with other systems prove that it is unnecessary to inconvenience passengers for the sake of scheduling problems on the Muni.

Switchbacks are an insult to passengers and are an ineffective and time-consuming strategy that does not help Muni to maintain schedules. Muni must adopt more rider-friendly policies and practices. The many underlying problems that cause delays and “bunching” of vehicles must be addressed directly.

This Jury has concluded that the almost casual use of switchbacks by Muni is a practice that is antithetical to the goals set for the system in the Charter. Muni needs to re-examine the many suggestions aimed at fixing the system and set out a detailed schedule for implementation."

Seems like a laudable "agenda"

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 27, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Guest's suggestion is exactly the opposite of what's needed. Getting rid of employer beenfits and giving out vouchers is just a giveaway to private insurance companies, and it'll lead to skyrocketing costs and deteriorating healthcare.

The best solution is socialized medicine. Contrary to conventional capitalist wisdom, public run systems are virtually always more efficient than private run systems. Medicare operates at 3% overhead, while private insurance companies operate at 25% overhead. More precisely, each system is actually efficient at doing what it is created to do. Medicare's purpose is to deliver healthcare, and it does a pretty good job of that. Private insurance does a lousy job of delivering healthcare, but to understand why, you only need to understand that private insurance is not in the *business* of delivering healthcare. Private insurance is in the business of *making money* for the few individuals who own the companies. And it does a superbly efficient job of that.

Barring complete socialized medicine, a robust public option would work as well. From a purely economic standpoint, it's a known fact among economists that $1 in benefits provided directly by the government yields more than $1 in benefits; while $1 provided as a voucher to purchase services from private entities provides less than $1 in benefits. Why? Very simple.

If the government were to provide a public option that everyone could access, it would provide private insurers incentive to lower their prices, cut into their bloated profits and executive bonuses, etc., so that they could provide the same cost/benefit ratio for the consumer that the government plan does and compete for those customers. So even those who choose to continue to buy private insurance, still get residual benefits from the government program being there.

Contrast that with the government giving people vouchers. That just provides insurance companies with incentive to raise their prices, since more people can now "afford" access to their services.

The two things that hold private insurers back from jacking up prices are 1) the existence of parallel government programs, and 2) large employers with negotiating power. If it's you the individual negotiating your rate with Blue Cross, you're screwed. But if it's General Motors or Google negotiating with Blue Cross, they have a little bit of clout to get a deal for the whole company. That's why private insurance on the open market is so much more expensive than insurance covered by work.

What Guest wants to do is impose the shock doctrine and leave everyone to fend for themselves against the insurance companies.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

But even the Democrats in Congress refused to pass that when they had the power to do so. ObamaCare was the closest they got to approving and that preserves the insurance aspect.

Socialized healthcare leads to waiting in line, and to committees of bureaucrats deciding who lives and dies. Not in my name and not in my land.

Between MediCare, MediCaid and VA, we already have a massive socialized healthcare system, and yet anyone who has a choice doesn't use them. That should tell you something about what Americans demand, and it isn't free healthcare on demand for everyone, everywhere regardless of cost.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 6:06 am

You must be living in bizarro-land.

"Socialized healthcare leads to waiting in line, and to committees of bureaucrats deciding who lives and dies."

Here's "Guest" with the old "death panels" shtick. The real death panels are in private insurance companies, who devote entire departments to denying care.

"Between MediCare, MediCaid and VA, we already have a massive socialized healthcare system, and yet anyone who has a choice doesn't use them."

Apparently you've never been to a tea party rally, where they demand that the "government keep its grubby hands off my Medicare!" Like you, the disconnect doesn't register with them. But everyone I know, conservative and liberal, can't wait till they get on Medicare, when they know that the insecurity they feel about their healthcare will finally be over.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 7:10 am

but, because their spouses still work and have insurance thru their employer, they decline MediCare and use the private system instead.

Why? Because not all doctors and hospitals accept the payment schedule from the public system.

Anyway, MediCare is paid for by a lifetime of payment of payroll taxes. It is not welfare, as such. MediCaid, on the other hand, is pure welfare and is unaffordable as currently projected.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 7:55 am

You are referencing Medicare B, which is doctors' visits and non-surgical options. These retirees are getting Medicare if they need an operation. The private plans will insist on it.

But this is one more example of why we need to eradicate spousal benefits. There is no reason that marriage should influence how much a company compensates an employee. If these people had to rely on Medicare alone, there would be more pressure on doctors to work with Medicare patients. Instead, marital privilege creates a market for services outside Medicare.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

because it transfers medical costs out of MediCare and into the private schemes.

Moreover it gives those people extra choice and if Americans are agreed on anything about healthcare, it is that they want choice.

It's ironic that you are arguing to eradicate spousal benefits on a day when SCOTUS is considering whether gays should marry. Maybe that is the compromize solution - let gays marry but then take away all the benefits of marriage!

Posted by anon on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

paper, I would assume that they are much worse than the Chron.

So wouldn't these changes at the Chron simply level the playing field? Make things fairer?

Posted by anon on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

Bruce smashed the last attempt so I'm hoping there will soon be another. Workers should unite everywhere! Even at the Guardian!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

related health issues since no doubt his doozie of a real estate speculation will allow him a level of care that has always been denied to his scribbling minions.

Gotta love winner-take-all capitalism.

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Posted by Demaemiain on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

""some premiums going up from around $700 to as much as $3,000 a year, according to the Guild.""

Welcome to the REAL WORLD. Those of us who have to buy insurance in the private market pay around $400 a month. I play; $1,100 for myself and two dependents monthly.

Most Americans have "all-you-can-eat" healthcare through their employers or Medicad. Ask your doctor about "AnythingYouWant."

People take their health coverage for granted because they aren't paying much out of their own pocket. Costs have been rising at least 10% annually since I've been a freelance contract workers. I paid about $400 for myself and two dependents in 2000.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

The Chron workers need to wake up to reality. In today's economy companies need to be nimble to compete in the globalized workforce. To make a company competitve, all that's really needed is a few highly paid executives, job creators who need a few tens of millions of dollars to compensate them for their creativity and keep the company nimble, and large dividends to the shareholders to keep the stock flying high. Beyond the CEO, a few officers, and some major shareholders, everyone else is expendable. There are plenty of people in China who can speak English and write copy. These workers should be grateful for whatever the shareholders let them steal from the bottom line. They need to stop whining and realize that costs of hiring good executives are going up, and something has to give. With the amount of executive compensation that corporations need to pay out these days, we simply can't afford health care for these wage slave parasites anymore.

Posted by anon on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

Here's the problem, in my view: Nobody cares about costs

Patients/consumers: My company or Medicaid is paying, so pile on the drugs, the diagnostics, and the surgeries.

Doctors/clinics/hospitals: More procedures, more surgeries = MORE BILLING. So bring it on, folks. We love ya as long as you don't have a chronic disease.

Insurers: We'll add 15% on to whatever the providers charge and charge your company or the US government for it.

Drugmakers: Ask your doctor about XXX. We want you to be pickled on drugs.

Companies: It's all TAX DEDUCTIBLE!

So, no one is minding the ship. The USA spends about 20% of GDP on healthcare, and it is heading toward 30%. In other OECD countries it is 10%. But we don't have better outcomes than they do. IT IS A BILLING-DRIVEN system.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

Could it be... SOCIALIZED MEDICINE???

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

Nothing that other countries do successfully can ever apply to the US, because the US is an exceptional country.

Posted by anon on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

Americans need to work an extra 10 hours per week equivalent over similarly situated industrialized nations in order to fund the perpetual war machine and Wall Street subsidy.

And even still, they have their eyes on our social insurance, medicare and Social Security.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 6:18 am

whereas that is typically 40% to 50% in many European countries.

Now, the US has State taxes and expenditure too, but that is not on military or bank subsidies.

And many European countries are subsidizing their banks, as you would know if you have been following events in Cyprus and elsewhere.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 6:57 am

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