Thursday, August 20

Is the Public Option a Trojan Horse for Single Payer? You Betcha! So?

There are a ton of distortions and ridiculous claims coming out about the various Health Care proposals working their way through Congress, but the one claim that actually does need to be addressed is the issue of whether a Public Option is really nothing more than a Stalking Horse for Single Payer and the elimination of Employer Based Health Care.

This is what the (relatively sane members of the) RIght are Currently Saying Amongst Themselves.



In 2003 before he was even a member of the Senate Barack Obama did admit that he was a proponent of Single Payer and that he supported it. (Uncut version of one of the clips above)



“I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”


Over the past Six Years, Obama's position on this has indeed changed and become more nuanced - and if he hadn't become more informed over the last six years, we should all be worried - but the primary issue eroding the trust of those on the right, is the idea that any type of expansion of the Public Option will inexorably lead to Single Payer.

The real issue is that can Private Insurance openly compete with a Public Option. Will simply creating the ability of people to buy their insurance from a non-for-profit public supported system completely destroy the ability of all private insurance companies to funcction?

The simply answer is "No".

Assuming that it will, is like assuming the Public Schools would put Private Schools out of business. They Don't! It would be like assuming that Free and Public Police would put Private Security firms out of business - It Doesn't. All a Public Option would do is reset the minimum level of available care.

Further proof of this is actually to look at counties that already have single payer, such as France, Germany, Canada and England, and simply note that all of them Also have Private Insurance Companies, the difference is that those companies do not dominate their economy the way that they do in America.

(Pardon the Gap, Happens with Tables in Dkos)
HDI RankExpenditure on health (% of GDP)PublicPrivateCombined
12 United States6.98.515.4
106Occupied Palestinian Territories7.85.2 13
164Malawi9.63.212.9
88Lebanon3.28.4 11.6
7Switzerland6.74.811.5
123 Sao Tome and Principe 9.91.6 11.5
150 Timor-Leste8.8 2.411.2
22Germany8.22.4 10.6
10France 8.22.310.5
15Austria7.82.5 10.3
1Iceland8.31.6 9.9
4Canada6.83 9.8
29 Portugal 7 2.8 9.8
86Jordan4.75.1 9.8
2Norway8.11.6 9.7
13Spain 5.72.4 8.1
16 United Kingdom71.1 8.1


We literally do spend more for care than any other country in the world and frankly we get lousy results for it. As has been repeatedly mentioned the World Health Organization ranks the United States at 37th in Health Care, between Costa Rica and Slovenia. France ranks Number #1 yet they get that care for about about 1/3rd less than we spend as a portion of GDP.

In per capita terms it's literally Half as much.

(Top UN Ranked Countries by Human Development Index with Per Capital Health Care Expenses 2004)
1 Iceland 3,294
2 Norway $4,080
3 Australia $3,123
4 Canada $3,173
5 Ireland $2,618
6 Sweden $2,828
7 Switzerland $4,011
8 Japan $2,293
9 Netherlands $3,092
10 France $3,040
11 Finland $2,203
12 United States $6,096


So the argument truly is whether we have better health care for less cost - Or NOT!

The other fact is that the Right has used selective editing to ignore the Rest of what Obama has said, which in the years since he joined the Senate and began running for President isn't exactly what they claim.

2007 SEIU Health Care Forum (The Volume on this Video is Very Low, the relevant section occurs about 1:45)


Obama: I would hope that we can setup some system that would allows those who can't go through there employer to go through a federal system or a state system of some sort. I don't think we can eliminate employer coverate immediately, there's gonna be potentially going to be some type of transition process. I can envision a decade out or 15 years out or 20 years out where we have a much more portable system. Employers still have the option of providing coverage, but many people may find that they get better coverage - or at least coverage that gives them better coverage for the dollar they spend outside of their employer, and I think we've got to facilitate that and let individuals make that choice to transition out of empoyer coverage.


Even in this discussion from just two years ago Obama did not say that Employer-Based or Private Health care even after "15 or 20 Years" would be eliminated, he said that people may find the public system both cheaper and more effective (as both Medicare and the VA already are) and that more of them may choose it rather than Private Insurance - but Private Insurance Would Still Be THERE!.

This isn't an arguement of having Private Care vs some Soviet System where the Doctors and Hospitals work for the Government (which is actually what Does Happen in the VA and Tricare) and all choice is a thing of the past, it's a question of whose paying the bill and what are they charging you for that care?

If the public system isn't cheaper and better - People Won't Use It, and will freely be able to leave it. So exactly what's the problem here?

Current private insurance companies have a 10.6% profit margin plus 20% overhead costs compared to 4% in Medicare (with no profits), a great deal of that overhead goes to high administrative costs trying to find way to Deny Care to people. If you had a childhood disease and didn't include it in your paperwork, they use that as an excuse to drop your coverage. If you get Sick, they drop your coverage. It takes and veritable Army of Insurance Bureacrats to seperate you from your coverage day-in and day-out. Even if the Public Option does get split off and dropped from the main Health Care Bill only to passed own it's own later as I suggested yesterday - that one change alone, plus the Health Care Exchange, would IMO give us all a huge net savings in all our premiums.

All of the current plans on the table would ban this practice and eliminate the costs the these companies are currentiy incurring to not give people the coverage they've already paid for.

Will a Public System with better outcomes and lower cost ultimately lead to a significant shrinking in the Private Health Insurance Market? Yeah, it probably will. But then again, should we really mind getting 5-7% of our GDP back from these companies - I certainly don't, and neither does the Openly Conservative Rand Corporation

The study found that excess growth in health care costs has adverse effects on employment, output and value added to GDP in the U.S., and that these effects are greater for industries where high percentages of workers have employer sponsored insurance. For example, the study estimated that a 10% increase in excess health care costs would reduce employment by about 0.24 percent in an industry such as motor vehicles, where about 80% of workers have ESI, compared with about 0.13% percent drop in the retail trade, where about one-third of workers have ESI. Economy-wide across all the 38 industries, a 10% increase in excess health care costs growth would result in about 120,800 fewer jobs, $28 billion in lost revenues, and about $14 billion in lost value added.


It's simple, as the cost of private insurance continues to go up - our jobs and take home pay goes down. Those who argue that having the Ability to Choose a low cost high quality Public Health Care Option is somehow a loss of "Freedom", seem to be defining that freedom as the fastest way to lose your care and to lose your job.

That's not my idea of Freedom or of America.

Now in all seriousness, IMO a properly implemented Public Option probably won't lead to a tax payer funded Single-Payer System like Medicare-for-All. The current plans on Capital Hill such as HR 3200 work as a Public Insurance Program, paid for predominantly by premiums from it's members and run like a Non-Profit Health Care Insurance program the way that Blue Cross/Blue Shield used to be, but that may never progress any further if it accomplishes the goal of expanding coverag (via subsidies to the poor), while lowering costs and improving overall quality. A strong Public Option alone will be good enough, but we'll have to try it first and find out.

Vyan

Wednesday, August 19

Why Obama is so Squishy on The Public Option

In June, this is what President Obama said in a Letter to Senators Kennedy and Baucus.

The plans you are discussing embody my core belief that Americans should have better choices for health insurance, building on the principle that if they like the coverage they have now, they can keep it, while seeing their costs lowered as our reforms take hold. But for those who don't have such options, I agree that we should create a health insurance exchange -- a market where Americans can one-stop shop for a health care plan, compare benefits and prices, and choose the plan that's best for them, in the same way that Members of Congress and their families can.


If many of you remember, this is *always* what's he's said - that he would offer the American people the same Benefits options that Congress and Federal Employees already have - and that wasn't the Public Option (which even they don't have - yet), it was the Exchange which they do.

It may seem weird to many, but no Obama has NOT backtracked or changed positions. People have failed to HEAR him above the din, instead they've heard what they wanted to hear as shown by the contensious back and forth in this Presser with Gibbs from Yesterday.




Q What's been the response so far, what kind of feedback to the suggestion in recent days that a public option might not be part of the health care reform?

MR. GIBBS: Well, as I've said, now, yesterday and earlier today, the President -- his position, the administration's position is unchanged; that we have a goal of fostering choice and competition in a private health insurance market. The President prefers the public option as a way of doing that. If others have ideas, we're open to those ideas and willing to listen to those details. That's what the President has said for months. Coincidentally that's what the Secretary of Health and Human Services has said for months. It's what I've said for months. I think the suggestion somehow that anything that was said Saturday or Sunday as being new administration policy is just not something that I would agree with.


Gibb's is right, there wasn't a change - going back to Obama's June Letter to the Senate.

None of these plans should deny coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition, and all of these plans should include an affordable basic benefit package that includes prevention, and protection against catastrophic costs. I strongly believe that Americans should have the choice of a public health insurance option operating alongside private plans. This will give them a better range of choices, make the health care market more competitive, and keep insurance companies honest.


Note the order and priority shown in the President's statement. Health Exchange First, Public Option Second.

The fact is that the Key issue in Health Care Reform to The White House and to Obama isn't the Public Option and never has been the Public Option, it's the Health Care Exchange (which is exactly what's he's been saying all along) - under it individuals and small business will be able to get bulk rate discount pricing for Health Care Services from a Menu of available options - ONE of those options might be a public/non-profit plan.

Those who can't afford to buy a plan, up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, will get subsidies which means that the poor people will no longer by trapped in either Medicaid or having to use the Emergency Room as their doctor. If they want to, they would have the choice of using the subsidy to buy Blue Cross/Blue Shield or Wellpoint (which would also *HAVE* to take them!)

That alone is HUGE.

Having the ability to apply that subsidy, or your own purchasing power to Medicare or a Medicare-like plan is a bonus. A nice bonus, but still a bonus.

People forget now because they either don't remember, or never fully understood it - but this was THE key tenent for bringing down costs in Hillary Clinton's Original Plan. In her system they were called "Associations" which would be non-profit pools for providing low cost care options. Any insurance provider working with an Association would have to meet standards established at the national level, but also by a State level Medical board which would provide a consumer score-card on the quality and price of each plan within an association in order to provide better information to consumers. HR 3200 which is the most Obama-ish of the plans has simplified much of this down and eliminated the state-level boards as well as ended the Clinton requirement for a minimum of 2 Associations per state to ensure competition. One Federal Board plus 50 State Boards plus 2 Associations per state was the source of the claim that Hillary care included "A Government Health Care TAKE OVER WITH 151 New Federal Agencies!" - which it didn't. Opponents were lying then and they're lying now.

If we get the Exchange Now, which again was the primary pole in Hillary's plan for bringing down costs and improved risk sharing, we can add a public option, non-profit Co-ops or a modification allowing people to Buy-in to Medicare (The Weiner Plan) later.

Just as the Right Wing is getting it all completely wrong over imaginary "Death Panels" - the Left is going a bit overboard over the be-all-end-all of the Public Option. An even though I'm glad to finally see progressive get in the ring for the battle - I'm glad the Weiner Caucus is willing to say "Public Option or Bust" - I'm not exactly sure they realize which battle they're really in.

Like the President, I happen to strongly support the Public Option (as described in John Dingel's HR 3200) in the form of a replacement to Medicaid, modeled on the Medicare system funded by Premiums with it's own independent Trust Fund unburdened by the demographic and structural problems that currently plague both of our tax funded systems Medicaid and Medicare. I think that's better than Medicare-for-All and Not-for-Profits Co-Ops that won't (initially) have the volume to make a difference in the market that is currently dominated by Big Insurance.

This isn't to preclude the possibility that an even better idea might not come about in the next few weeks - we should all, always be wary of the hubris of believing we already know the answer, before we've fully understood the question - and I think that's essentially been the President's point. He'll go with the best idea available - right now Public Option is it, but we have to realize that the thing he absolutely Won't give up on - the Line he WON'T CROSS - is the Health Exchange.

Frankly, we've been very poorly served by the media in all of this, including Keith and Rachel - although they've tried valiantly. The only person I've seen or heard who has the background and research to fully understand this point, because he closely covered the Hillary Health Care Story in 1994, has been Time's Joe Klein - From the Ed Show Yesterday.



Klein: There's a 80-90% Chance that we'll have Insurance Reform this year, which will ban Pre-existing conditions, and you'll have Health Care Exchanges - which will lower the prices for small business and individuals.

Klein: The Public Option is peripheral to the really important stuff here.

Ed: It's not.

Klein: I've been covering this 20 years, you can have Universal Coverage without a Public Option. What does the Public Option do? It's give bargaining power to the public against the insurance companies - that is precisely what the Health Exchange Does!


All of this is why the White House is reacting the way they are and why they don't feel the Public Option Alone is the biggest pole in the tent, it's not. It's essentially useless without the Exchange.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't fight, and fight hard, for the Public Option, but even if we can't implement Howard Dean's Backdoor Conference Committee Re-Insert we'll still have pre-existing conditions off the table, we'll still have coverage rationing off the table, will have fixed the ability of Medicare to negotiate for better drug prices and have Health Exchanges guaranteed (and in every version of this bill, even in the Senate - I believe WE DO) we should take "YES" for an answer and work on enhancing and improving things later once people see how well the Exchanges work. Just remember that FDR didn't implement every facet of Social Security on the first try, but he did get the basics in place.

The Public Option is *NOT* the last line in the sand, Health Exchanges are.

Just Sayin'...

Vyan

Tuesday, August 18

Medicare-For-All is not the Solution to Health Care, but it just might change the Game

This morning Rep Anthony Weiner appears on Morning Joe essentially to explain why he's threatened to vote against any bill that doesn't include a Public Option and bring 1000 Democrats with him, instead he did the one thing we haven't seen any Democrat do yet - dive head first into supporting the Single_Payer Option of Medicare-For_all.



What I've half suspected as the result of the President's JuJitsu of throwing doubt on the Public Option has actually occurred within 24 Hours - Democrats like Joe Sestak are Coming OUT BREATHING FIRE in support of the Public Option and starting to shove the Overton Window in the right direction - but doing it in a way that makes sense the way the Weiner does here in part 2 of his debate with Scarborough.



The most annoying part of this is the Scarborough simply fails to comprehend what Weiner is saying. "What value do private insurance companies bring to the table?" He repeatedly spins this into "You DO want a government TAKE OVER of Health Care!" - to which Weiner responds "Was Medicare a Take Over?"

And the truth is it's not, because private insurance companies simply REFUSED to cover older people since they represent a higher risk. That the same situation for those with so-called "Pre-existing Conditions" whom insurance companies refuse to cover, or frankly SICK PEOPLE who have their claims denied and their coverage dropped just when they need it.

Scarborough says this is an "Ideological Issue" and a question of whether you believe the Government can be more efficient, and Weiner is DEAD ON correct to point out that Medicare already IS more effecient, so what do we need private insurance for again?

Joe claims that the problem with Medicare is that it will go "Bankrupt" in a few years, but that's actually not true. Right now the taxes collected for Medicare go into a trust fund and as more and more people grow older and join Medicare while there are fewer younger people to help contribute to the fund eventually the fund will go from generating a Surplus to a Deficit.

That was what caused the big scare in 1994-1995 when the Medicare Trustees reported the surplus would disappear in 2002. (They always report this - the only thing that chages is the year and it actually had Improved that year from teh previous prediction when the Gringrich Congress - which included Scarborough - attempted to use it to bully President Clinton into signing a Date-Certain balanced Budget by - you guess it, 2002!) Well, the surplus didn't disappear, largely because Clinton refused to go along with Gingrich, while the specter of Hillary-Care actually managed to get the Private Insurance Companies to cut the fat for a few years - so let's stop worrying about that particular boogie-man because bringing down medical inflation and re-balancing the budget will solve that problem now just as it did back then.

One other point I want to make about Weiner's "Medicare For All" suggestion is that from my reading of the HR 3200 that what he describes is almost exactly what it does. Almost. It doesn't expand Medicare itself, what it does is Duplicate most of it's structure and efficiencies into a new system with it's own trust fund that - after an initial start-up investivement - will be supported by the premiums generated by it's members rather than by taxes. The primary advantage that this has Over Medicare is that it doesn't have the demographic problem that continually threatens it's trust fund, and frankly it's probably BETTER because of it.

We have to bring down Medical inflation in order to save Medicare - but also to save The Nation because it's actually worse for Corporations who are paying through the nose for Private Insurance far more than what is being spent on Medicare as the Conservative Rand Corporation has recently reported.

How do increasing health care costs affect the U.S. economy? A RAND study addressed this question by estimating how health care cost growth that exceeds growth in GDP ("excess" cost growth) affected three important economic outcomes: employment, output (measured as revenues), and value added to GDP. The analysis included data from 38 industries over the 19-year period 1987-2005.

The study posited that the extent to which excess growth in health care costs affects economic outcomes in different U.S. industries depends on the percentage of workers with employer sponsored insurance (ESI). Rapid growth in health care costs is expected to have a larger effect on economic performance for industries where large percentages of workers receive employer-sponsored health insurance because these industries face more pressure to increase total employee compensation or labor costs as a result of health care cost growth.


We have realize that higher health care premiums for corporations means lower take home pay for employees and further, fewer jobs.

With Sen. Kent Conrad today admitting that Member Owned Not-for-Profit Co-Ops Will not reduce costs, and ideologically blinded Republicans still even see CO-Ops as "Government Run Health Care" we have to realize that the Co-OP option is not good enough either to get the job done or to bring Republicans across the aisle.

Also, I don't think Medicare-for-All is the best answer largely because simply adding more people into the system makes it's demographic problem worse, not better - however openly discussing the Weiner plan may help diffuse some of the hysteria over the Obama/Dingle Public Option of HR 3200 since that isn't paid for with taxes, it's paid by premiums and it gains more members it's trust fund increases rather than becomes more strained.

If anything this makes the Public Option even more attractive, with all the benefits and advantages and cost efficiencies of Medicare - without it's structural problems.

And if what Howard Dean said today on Scarborough is true, it may be tricky - but the Public Option will probably emerge from the Conference Committee and be voted as part of Budget Reconciliation in order to avoid a filibuster.



Vyan

Monday, August 17

Dr. Howard Dean : Co-Ops DON'T WORK!



Here's the point that needs to be drilled into Kent Conrad and Evan Bayh's (whose wife is on the board of Wellpoint) Skull. Co-Ops simply won't get the job done, because they can be so easily bought up and taken over by private insurers the way that Blue Cross/Blue Shield has been.

Dean: If you don't have a Public Option (like the ability to buy-in to Medicare) you don't have Health Care Reform


Here's Kent Conrad on Co-Ops vs Dean:



The number one argument being used against the Public Insurance Option is the idea that it will drive Private Insurance Out of Business - an argument that is easily debunked by the fact that we already have public options such as Medicare and the VA which work quite well and in many ways hand in hand with Private Health Care providers.

As the President Said: The Post Office hasn't put Fed Ex or DHL out of business and neither will a Public Health Insurance Option. Public Schools haven't ended the viability of Private Schools has it? On the other hand if all we had were Private Schools, do you think everyone could afford to go? I don't.

Second point, if the Private Insurers simply can't compete - what do we need them for? Nostalgia?

But here I have a better example than the Post Office, in California the losses that various Insurance Companies took following the Northridge Earthquake caused them to start either pulling out of the state or refusing to offer Earthquake insurance. They started treating California - Like it had a PRE-EXISTING CONDITION.

In response, the State of California began offering their own Earthquake Insurance Plan - they own Public Option - California Earthquake Authority. It's wasn't a case where the Public Earthquake Insurance drove the Private insurance companies out - they were already gone.

(Full Disclosure: My Wife worked for USAA Insurance in LA during the time of the Northridge Quake and saw what I'm describing first hand, and also one of my oldest friends works in the upper echelon's of the CEA in Sacramento)

The next argument though is the most spurious and frankly fantastical - that since the Public Option is "Free" - individual companies will simply stop paying for private health care and people will "lose access to the doctor of their choice".

That is frankly a complete LOAD OF CRAP propagated by people who simply haven't bothered to read the bill. What they're ignoring is the Health Care Exchange from HR 3200 as noted by Factcheck.org.

In July, Investor’s Business Daily published an editorial in which it claimed that H.R. 3200 would make private insurance illegal. But IBD was mistaken. It was citing the part of the bill that ensures people with individually purchased coverage don’t have to give up that coverage unless they want to.

Under the House bill, people who want to buy new individual, nongroup coverage will have to purchase it through a new health insurance exchange. They can still buy private insurance – the exchange, in fact, would offer a range of private plans, in addition to a new federal health insurance option. However, those who were already buying their own insurance before the bill went into effect – about 14 million Americans – will have their plans grandfathered in. The part of the bill IBD cites doesn’t forbid insurers from issuing new plans. It says that new individual plans will not be considered grandfathered, and will have to be purchased through the exchange.


Either private individuals or companies will be able to purchase insurance from the exchange which will include both Private Insurance Companies and Public Companies including (from my reading of the bill) Medicare for people to purchase.

The employer will be required to buy from the exchange and won't be able to cherry pick just the public option only because the exchange will by definition include everything and everyone will have access to it. No Rationing. None!

From HR 3200
Sec 201. (c) EXCHANGE-PARTICIPATING HEALTH BENEFITS PLAN DEFINED.—In this division, the term ‘‘Exchange- participating health benefits plan’’ means a qualified health benefits plan that is offered through the Health Insurance Exchange.

SEC. 202. EXCHANGE-ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUALS AND EMPLOYERS.
(a) ACCESS TO COVERAGE.—In accordance with this section, all individuals are eligible to obtain coverage through enrollment in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan offered through the Health Insurance Exchange unless such individuals are enrolled in another qualified health benefits plan or other acceptable coverage.

(1) EXCHANGE-ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUAL.—The term ‘‘Exchange-eligible individual’’ means an individual who is eligible under this section to be enrolled through the Health Insurance Exchange in an Exchange-participating health benefits plan and, with respect to family coverage, includes dependents of such individual.

(B) EMPLOYEE CHOICE.—Any employee offered Exchange-participating health benefits plans by the employer of such employee under subparagraph (A) may choose coverage under any such plan. That choice includes, with respect to family coverage, coverage of the dependents of such employee.


Now, it's possible the employers could drop all health care coverage (as companies such as WalMart continue to slide toward) and force their employees to buy it themselves directly, but if they do they will have to pay a 8% Tax which will help pay for the Public Insurance Option and also any person who can't afford to buy a plan (up to 400% above the poverty line) will receive subsidies for purchasing either a public or private plan via the exchange.

Republicans should like this idea - if you tell them that it's basically Health Vouchers that allow people to shop for the best deal.

Denying coverage because of Pre-Existing Conditions will be Banned for any insurance being sold through the Exchange. Denying valid claims recommended by a doctor and dropping coverage because someone has the temerity to GET SICK will be banned.

Buying from an exchange also would allow for buying Insurance Across State lines which is something else the Republicans claim to want, but can't seem to take "Yes" for an answer.

We need to not let Congress tip-toe away from the Public Health Insurance Option!

Vyan

Sunday, August 16

Welcome Back Laura Ling and Euna Lee

This week Current TV has welcomed back their long lost VP/Correspondent Laura Ling and Editor Euna Lee from a North Korean prison.



Although media focus and talk so far has been about whether or not American prestige and foreign policy was harmed or helped by the heroic intervention of former President Clinton I think the real story is the amazing courage of these two young women, and more importantly the fact that as journalists they've been showing this kind of fearlessness for a long time - it's well past time it was noted.

I'm sure when they're ready they will tell the story of their capture and 5 months of captivity in North Korea, but that time is not right now.

Before that happens, and going beyond the obvious joy of their coworkers and family - such as Laura's View Co-Host Sister Lisa and Euna's Daughter - I think this is really a journalistic triumph as well. Watching Laura Ling as a correspondent, I frankly haven't seen anyone this ballsy since Geraldo Rivera was putting his life on the line to get insiders reports on The Mob while working for ABC's 20/20 long before he sold his sold to Springer-styled info-tainment and nearly torpedoed himself with Al Capone empty tomb.

No one on American TV, short of Christian Amanpour on CNN or possibly BBC World News American does reports like Current TV's Vanguard.

They report with No Spin, No Sensationalism, NO B.S. - it's almost shocking to see Real Journalism again, I'd forgotten what it looked and sounded like.

I can talk about it all I want, but seeing is believing. Take some time - and seriously look at these reports presented by Laura before her North Korean Imprisonment on the state of Narco Trafficking in Mexico and you'll start to realize what we almost lost - and what we now have back again.




In Juarez Mexico nearly 1,400 people had been killed previous year as a result of the turf-based drug wars going on the area, which is a major access point to the American Marijuana Markets via El Paso, TX. While drugs flow north, guns AK's and AR-15's flow south. In this report Laura and her crew photograph the aftermath of 3 separate shootings all from the same DAY in Juarez, then travel deep into the back hills of Mexico where as many as ten armed bodyguards, armored cars and the support of the Mexican Army still isn't enough to maintain their safety in the territory of druglord El Chapo.


Or this report on the fate of America's 2 Million member inmate population after they've been released and attempt to return to "Normal" society.

"Lock Up" this ain't.



We should all be proud and happy to have journalist of this calibre back home safe and back at work.


Welcome Home Laura and Euna - you've been missed, and you are sorely needed.

Vyan