Uber’s Ambulance Service

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/01/2020 - 4:00am in

Welcome back to The Fixer, our weekly briefing of solutions reported elsewhere. This week: putting all those ride-hailing cars to work for better public health. Plus, Japan’s meltdown-scarred prefecture goes green, and a citizen assembly fights climate change in Leeds.

Medicaid’s missing link

When it comes to poor health outcomes, transportation is the factor that’s hiding in plain sight. In the U.S., 3.6 million people lack access to health care because of transportation barriers –– inexcusable in an era when streets are clogged with Ubers and Lyfts. Now, these ride-hailing services are partnering with Medicaid providers to get patients to the doctor, and make a buck in the process.

They’re using a half-century-old detail included in the 1966 law that created Medicaid, the public health option for tens of millions of low-income Americans. Inserted into that law was the guarantee of non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT), which led to the creation of paratransit services in cities across the country. The problem is, many of these public paratransit services don’t work very well. Their dispatch centers are understaffed, and rides often need to be booked well in advance.

As a work-around, health care providers and insurance companies are partnering with companies like Uber and Lyft, using $3 billion in public funds allotted for Medicaid transportation. In 2017, Blue Cross Blue Shield announced a deal to have Lyft transport 250,000 of its patients to medical appointments. And Boston’s transit system, the MBTA, is piloting a system that offers transport to Medicaid patients through ride-hailing services –– the city plans to make the program permanent next year.

The early results of these efforts show promise. A study showed that Boston Medical Center reduced its no-show rate by nine percent by using Uber to transport patients. And the insurance company CareMore has stated that partnering with Lyft led to 45 percent shorter wait times and a 92 percent improvement in on-time arrivals.

Read more at Shelterforce

From the ashes

Fukushima, the Japanese prefecture rendered partially uninhabitable by a nuclear meltdown, is set to become a renewable energy hub for Japan. A $2.75 billion project will transform the region’s contaminated farmland with 11 solar arrays and 10 wind farms that will produce 600 megawatts of electricity –– two-thirds as much as a nuclear plant.

Nunobiki wind farm in Fukushima prefecture. Credit: Contri / Flickr

The power will flow all the way to Tokyo, which, before the meltdown, relied heavily on Fukushima’s nuclear generators for electricity. A 50-mile electrical grid will connect the new solar and wind arrays to the Japanese capital by 2024.

The plans are a continuation of Fukushima’s post-disaster leadership on renewable energy. In 2017, the prefecture was already getting 60 percent of its electricity from renewables. That’s far more than the 17 percent that powers Japan as a whole –– a country that has been criticized for its heavy reliance on fossil fuels. The new initiative virtually guarantees that Fukushima will easily achieve the goal it set in 2014 of being powered by 100 percent green energy by 2040.

Read more at the Verge

Peer pleasure

“Citizen assemblies” are becoming a popular way to involve regular folks in making major decisions about what goes on in their cities and even their countries. In 2017, Ireland’s 99-member citizen assembly famously made the recommendation that led to the country lifting its abortion ban. And in Australia, a citizen assembly stopped the construction of a nuclear storage facility. But how does this process actually work? Can we trust the decisions of a group of randomly selected strangers?

Vice sat in on a citizens assembly in Leeds, England, to witness a motley crew of 21 citizens deciding how their community should respond to climate change. Described as “a cross between a zippy startup break room and an earnest student council meeting,” the participants dedicated nine weeks to hearing from scientists, politicians and business owners. They then broke off into groups to make decisions about everything from their city’s transportation system to its recycling policies. The tone was “non-judgmental,” which doesn’t mean there weren’t differing opinions — some of the participants were initially skeptical that climate change is a problem at all. 

But after much debate, the group sent 12 recommendations to the Leeds City Council, including returning bus service to public ownership and canceling the expansion of the local airport. Time will tell whether the government will go along with the group’s conclusions, but many of the members reported that simply participating changed their perspective. “Since the jury, my family has been trialing meat-free days at home and thinking about whether certain car journeys we make can be done on foot,” said one. “Family and friends have come on board with this too, and I think it’s the perfect way to get people talking about any subject.”

Read more at Vice

The post Uber’s Ambulance Service appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Tories Going Ahead with NHS Privatisation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/12/2019 - 10:07pm in

Here’s another broken promise from Bozo the Clown Prime Minister – but it’s one everyone on the left knew very well was going to happen. Johnson’s going full ahead with the Tory privatisation of the NHS, despite Tory claims that we still have a publicly-owned healthcare system that’s supposed to provide care free at the point of use.

Mike reported a few days ago that Johnson’s government has drawn up a new framework for the NHS, the NHS Shared Business Services in which hospital trusts will buy services from a list of private companies. The services put out for tender include cardiology, gynaecology, paediatrics and oncology. That means it also covers children’s medicine and cancer care. The report Mike cites, at MirrorOnline, says it could mean services worth £117 million being contracted out over four years.

As Mike points out, we don’t have a system of universal healthcare anymore, as the private firms that supply the NHS with some services don’t cover the whole country. He also states clearly that it isn’t free at the point of use, as Tory policy is intended to make patients, who aren’t able to get proper NHS funded care are supposed to go private. Meanwhile, other NHS services are being starved of cash for the government to fund the private healthcare companies they’ve allowed into the NHS.


The Tory claim that this is private expertise making the NHS more efficient is a lie. Private healthcare is actually less efficient. It does not adequately cover – if at all – the poor and those with long-term health problems. Private hospitals are typically smaller than NHS hospitals. They’re also far more bureaucratic. About 10 per cent of private healthcare costs are management, though this can rise to 40 per cent. In America, something like 20 per cent of the American public can no longer afford their private health insurance. 40,000 people die every year because they can’t afford medical care. In Virginia, people actually sleep out in their cars for the weekend when the dentists offer their services free.

This is what will come to Britain if the Tories and Johnson have their way and run down the NHS completely. They do want it to become a second class service for the poor, who cannot afford private medicine. Or else introduce the American system, where everyone is supposed to go private, but there is medicare and medicaid to provide some limited care for the poor and elderly. Or else people can seek treatment at the local hospital’s Emergency Room.

Don’t believe the Tories’ lies – they are privatising the NHS purely for corporate profit. And Britain’s people will suffer.

Multi-Millionaire Right-Wing Corporate Donor David Koch Dies

This weekend the papers reported that David Koch, one of the infamous Koch brothers family of oil billionaires had finally dropped off his perch. He had become an ex-Koch. He had ceased to be. Like Monty Python’s parrot, he had gone to join the choir invisibule.

I know it’s poor form to speak ill of the dead, but the Koch brothers are an utterly malign family, and their political legacy is absolutely toxic. I dare say that individually they may be absolutely charming men. But they were also greedy, rapacious, and dedicated to attacking almost every progressive advance in American society and economics since the 19th century. They were one of the main founders and ardent promoters of Libertarianism, and founded a network of extreme right-wing think tanks and pressure groups to push through their noxious agenda. And as oil billionaires, they were most notorious through their campaigns denying climate change, attempting to discredit or suppress proper climate science and remove environmental legislation so that they could continue dumping carcinogen sludge into America’s rivers and waterways.

The video below by the Rational National, presented by David Doel, concisely shows how deeply unpleasant the Kochs were and are. And this was personally as well as politically. David Koch and two of his brothers joined together in a plot to blackmail a fourth brother into giving his share of the family business to them. This brother had never had a girlfriend. They thought he was gay, and threatened to tell their father about his lifestyle. Yes, they really were that low and scummy, ready to stab their own brother in the back just for a share of the corporate profits. They were an example of why Ripley says in the James Cameron film, Aliens, why the xenomorphs are better than humans. Or at least the corporate types. Because ‘you don’t see them fucking each other over for a percentage’.

The Rational National then goes on to show how the Koch brothers were instrumental in getting the anti-union legislation passed through one of their political groups, AFP. This stands for Americans For Prosperity. In the case of the US’s working people, the blue collar Joes and Jos, who really built the country, the name should be called Americans For Poverty. As the Rational National argues, the unions were one of the major forces bringing prosperity to working men and women. When their power was broken, there was a massive transfer of wealth upwards to the rich.

The video then shows a tweet from the Sunrise Movement about how the Koch brothers blocked environmental bills going through Congress, promoted fake science denying climate change, and attacking the environmental legislation preventing them from dumping carcinogens into the water. Thanks to them, Americans’ health in this regard is being affected for the worse. There’s also a clip of the report Christopher Leonard on The Morning Show discussing how the Koch brothers derailed America’s last best attempt to introduce regulations against climate change and greenhouse emissions in 2010. He compares them unfavourably with other big oil companies like Exxon, who were prepared to accept some legislation, including a carbon tax. But their influence wasn’t just confined to America. They also back Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, the Fascist maniac now torching the country’s forests and threatening us all with runaway global warming and extinction. Bolsonaro was funded by the ATLAS Network, another Koch pressure groups, which exists to spread Libertarianism globally.

Doel also cites a tweet by Rational National contributer Keith Boykin, about the other subjects he can’t go into in this short video. These are the Koch brothers’ desire to abolish state schools, social security, rent control, Medicare and Medicaid. He funded the Tea Partyand groups that denied climate change . They also used dark money to fund right-wing causes and Republican politicos. 

Doel also makes the point that the Kochs also weren’t philanthrophists in any sense of the word. All their funding was entirely in their own selfish interests. He cites an article from the New Yorker that quotes the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, who found that the Kochs’ donations were to organisations that directly affected their profit margins. And Koch didn’t even try to hide. He admitted that the family issued tight ideological control. If the organisations to which they gave didn’t do what they wanted, then the money was withdrawn.

Doel concludes by summarising David Koch’s career, stating that he was a horrible person. And I can’t see any reason to argue with that. 

One of the beneficiaries of the Koch brothers’ money over here is the infamous Spiked magazine, which was given $300,000 by the millionaire dirt-wads. And so editor Brendan O’Neill smears the international concern about the destruction of the Amazon as racist and imperialist. O’Neill was torn to shreds for his shameless lying and gross propaganda on twitter, by people strongly criticising him for his patronising attitude towards the working class as well as his defence of the destruction of the world’s supply of oxygen. One, Alex Tiffin, said of O’Neill that if Corbyn demanded tougher sentencing for child abuse, O’Neill would immediately write an article demanding its legalisation. See Zelo Street’s excellent article on about this sorry piece of spurious journalism at

He concludes: ‘Brendan O’Neill spouts his climate change denial garbage because those who have fucked the climate pay him to do so. End of story.’

I’m left wondering what other right-wing groups in the UK are also being funded by the Kochs, not least the Tory party. I’m sure the surviving Koch brothers are absolutely delighted by BoJob.