Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Tuesday Evening Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Bruenig discusses how Sweden's 70% tax rate on its top income bracket fits into an economy with high incomes along with lower inequality than the U.S. among other countries.

- Roland Tanner rightfully argues that the proliferation of high turnover, low pay jobs doesn't ultimately serve employers' interests - even as Rocco Rossi and his ilk lobby furiously to preserve the ability to treat workers poorly. And Maria Hangeveld writes about the "purpose paradigm" as a means to push workers to accept the corporate framework which allows for their continued exploitation.

- Dan Gearino points out the emergence of clean energy in the U.S.' Midwest region. But Sharon Riley reports on one of the subsidies that's keeping the fossil fuel industry and its associated pollution at an artificially high share of Canada's economy, as the Alberta public is on the hook to reimburse landowners for the money owed by delinquent oil operators.

- Finally, the Globe and Mail's editorial board argues that 2019 should be the year when Canada implements a national pharmacare system:
When it comes to getting medical treatment from a doctor or a hospital, Canada has universal health insurance. In the United States, it’s what the Democratic Party’s presidential aspirants are about to start pitching to American voters, under the banner of “Medicare for All.”

But when it comes to drugs, the Canadian system is the broken American system. If you’re hospitalized and you’re given prescription meds, it’s free. But once you walk out of the hospital with a prescription to fill, you may be on your own. Coverage is a mix of private insurance and out-of-pocket spending, with the provinces and territories filling some of the gaps with a grab bag of local programs, each unique to its jurisdiction, for groups such as seniors and the poor.

In terms of pharmaceutical coverage, Canada in 2019 still looks a lot like Canada circa 1964.
...While most Canadians have workplace drug insurance, part-time workers, the self-employed and the precariously employed or unemployed usually aren’t among them. Even for those with insurance, it’s contingent on remaining with the same employer. Government programs are limited and selective, creating a safety net that’s filled with holes.
In a largely privatized system, the government has little ability to control costs. That’s true across the U.S. health-care system and in Canada when it comes to meds. Canadians are the world’s third-highest spenders on drugs, at nearly $1,100 per person in 2017. The British, in contrast, spend barely more than half as much. Their public system gives them the ability to negotiate better deals and put downward pressure on drug prices. 

Canada has the opportunity to do better; to improve the average Canadian’s access to necessary medicines while lowering the bill for businesses, taxpayers and citizens.

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