Corporate greed creates crises

Two simple examples of the unrelenting attack on working people: drug prices and no paid sick time at work. Two examples of corporate greed: Bush’s use of taxpayer money to advertise his bogus Medicare legislation and the massive give-away to Medicare HMO profiteers. These examples emphasize the importance of replacing Republicans with pro-people candidates in the year 2004 election.



Drug prices are killing people

A front page story in the May 19 issue of the Wall Street Journal says it all: “Higher Co-pays May Take Toll on Health.” A joint study by the Harvard Medical School and Medco Health Solutions found that when co-payments were doubled for common prescription drugs, 31 percent of people with allergic rhinitis stopped taking their prescribed drugs. Arthritis sufferers dropped their drug use by 27 percent, and patients with diabetes dropped their drug use for that life threatening illness by 23 percent. An increase in co-pay from as little as $5 to $10 can make that life change.



No sick time for recovery

Another study, this one by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has found that over 60 million workers cannot take paid time off if they are sick. Of course, those earning the lowest wages are also those with the least sick time. Low-wage workers also often end up with the most dangerous work, work that only attracts desperate unemployed or soon-to-be-unemployed workers. The attack on women, in this area of worker exploitation, is even more dramatic. The Institute found that women workers, especially those with family responsibilities, have higher rates of illness and absenteeism than men do, yet are less likely than men to be entitled to any paid time off.



Where’s the money?

The Bush administration and its corporate allies and media experts are quick to talk about the need for administrative cost effectiveness and productivity (“keep ‘em working”), but when it comes to feeding their corporate allies, the sky’s the limit. For example, the Government Accounting Office, one of the few remaining independent government agencies, has found that the Bush administration broke the law in using public monies to advertise its bogus Medicare Program. Now, you have to really be blatant to get this kind of ruling and in fact the Bush administration’s “info-mercials” were pure “Bush for President” propaganda. Millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on this partisan effort. That money would have been better spent in getting drugs into the hands of those in need.



Millions to privatize Medicare HMOs

Finally, in an excellent report, the Commonwealth Fund revealed that the federal government under the Bush administration paid an extra $2.75 billion in 2004 to the private, mostly for-profit HMOs to remain in the Medicare Program. This is over and above the money that these HMO insurance carriers routinely receive when a Medicare recipient leaves the federal program and joins a private Medicare HMO.



Dump Bush and change Congress

Facts from these reports are just a few more tools to use to explain to your co-workers, family and friends how important this year’s election is. The White House is certainly within reach as are both the House and Senate. Let’s get to work.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org