Surprise! Medical bills

Robin’s Book Report #58
A reading list by Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein

-new articles
-what you’ve been reading
-what i’ve been reading

Please email me with what you have been reading or watching.

What You’ve Been Reading


“Thanks Rob – diggin the KS report as always. Been meaning to chime in and say so for about a year now. I attribute my lack of input to ‘millennial burnout’, seriously. Anyway, keep ’em coming!

Books I recommend:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Afterglow: A Dog Memoir by Eileen Myles

There There by Tommy Orange

Books I don’t recommend:

10:04 by Ben Lerner

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon”


“Funny you should mention sociopaths in the boardroom, because I’ve just

read two books about sociopaths, one okay and one quite good.  The “okay”

one is Jon Ronson’s “The Psychopath Test”, which is almost light enough to

float, though it has its good pages.  It’s not a dishonest book, but it’s

(correctly) billed as humor.

The *good* one is Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door”, which

originates in her psychotherapy practice and teaching.  It’s smart,

insightful and thoughtful, and along with some anonymized true histories,

has concrete advice for what to do in the face of sociopathic behavior.”

Reading List
Private Equity Tries to Protect Another Profit Center

Congress must step in to protect insured patients from unfair and unexpected medical charges.

By Eileen Appelbaum & Rosemary Batt (CEPR blog)

Surprise medical billing is a national problem that appears to be fueled by private-equity firms. These firms encourage the fracturing of the medical profession and the mind-boggling inefficiencies that drive profits, for them. An example of surprise medical bill is one you get for thousands of dollars because you went to an in-network hospital and (surprise!) were treated by an out-of-network specialist. Of course, no one mentioned this doctor wouldn’t be covered. Private equity thrives on the confusing, complicated systems of medical billing. More evidence for a singularly managed healthcare system.

Worse, private-equity is muddying the waters by surreptitiously promoting the idea that it is doctors versus insurance companies:

The debate over surprise medical bills has been framed as doctors who only want to be paid for their lifesaving services and insurance companies that don’t want to pay them fairly. Viewed that way, it’s a debate that insurance companies are sure to lose. But these are not the true protagonists. Private equity firms are buying up specialty doctors’ practices at an alarming rate because surprise medical bills allow them to extract high payments for medical care from patients and/or insurance companies. It’s private equity whose interests are opposed to those of insurance companies. And insurance companies which, in defending themselves against exorbitant payments to these doctors, are also acting to hold down health care costs and health insurance premiums for consumers

Read this excellent twitter thread for a pared down version of the article:

Advocates who support Medicare for All must not only take on insurance companies, but also private equity and their surprise billing — and support changes now that will make reform easier in the future
The Big Business of Scavenging in Postindustrial America

The U.S. produces more garbage than any other nation in the world per capita. Here’s how scrappers are turning that waste into a $32 billion business.

By Jake Halpern

A thrifty guy with a kid named Peanut Butter. How could you not love this story?
Flacks and Figures

Pundits and journalists should reveal their wealth

by Corey Atad (The Baffler)

Unlike like other aspects that might be obvious to viewers and readers, a journalist’s wealth is discreet. Their hostility to certain political projects (like Anderson Cooper’s skepticism of wealth taxes) might be more questionable if they were forced to make the unseen visible. Excellent essay.
Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns

What if the banking, asset-management, and insurance industries moved away from fossil fuels?

By Bill McKibben

Banks are funding carbon extraction industries at an alarming rate. If they did the opposite, they could change the world:

“In the three years since the end of the Paris climate talks, Chase has reportedly committed a hundred and ninety-six billion dollars in financing for the fossil-fuel industry, much of it to fund extreme new ventures: ultra-deep-sea drilling, Arctic oil extraction, and so on. In each of those years, ExxonMobil, by contrast, spent less than three billion dollars on exploration, research, and development. A hundred and ninety-six billion dollars is larger than the market value of BP; it dwarfs that of the coal companies or the frackers. By this measure, Jamie Dimon, the C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, is an oil, coal, and gas baron almost without peer.
Progressive Boomers Are Making It Impossible For Cities To Fix The Housing Crisis

Residents of wealthy neighborhoods are taking extreme measures to block much-needed housing and transportation projects.

By Michael Hobbes (Huffpost)

This article is mainly about the contentious town hall style meetings that often erupt into chaos over proposed development. The alternatives to these meetings at the end are interesting.

I have to admit I believe now that opposing development is a losing strategy. Really just an example of wealth inequality playing out on a local level: neighborhoods with more wealth are able to successfully resist development and keep their home prices high, while poor neighborhoods get upzoned and developed. In New York, it is very obvious. Many years ago, residents of the wealthy neighborhood of Cobble Hill resisted the upzoning of an old hospital site and their Councilperson Brad Lander supported their opposition, saying something like “The people don’t want it.” Now he wants to upzone Gowanus, another part of his district, rejecting that neighborhood’s opposition as being the enemy of progress. Poor neighborhoods like East New York opposed their upzoning a few years ago and lost the battle.

In my experience, every neighborhood resists development. The difference is that some are able to muster up the resources to make successful legal challenges. What we need is development across cities, not just centered on poor or transitioning neighborhoods. This is the egalitarian response to what cities demonstrably need: more housing.



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