FDL Action Health Care Update: Monday (11/23/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Monday, November 23.

1. Yesterday, Jon Walker took on Nate Silver, who “believes progressives should trade the public option away, but what he wants in return is far more useless and an even tougher political battle.”

2. Jane Hamsher says it all “comes down to a simple question: will Harry Reid allow for majority rule? Or will he let corrupt members of his own caucus block a majority of the public and Congress who want a public option?” Hamsher urges everyone to sign the petition to Harry Reid to pass the public option.

3. Jon Walker writes that Sen. Blanche Lincoln “is willing to force tens of millions of Americans to pay higher premiums for the small possibility it could gain her some political advantage,” and that this constitutes “the trifecta of awfulness.” For those keeping score at home, that’s a lot of awfulness! :)

4. Jon Walker points out “what a difference a serious primary challenge can make.” Specifically, “{Sen. Michael} Bennet is currently facing a serious primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff, while {Sen. Blanche} Lincoln is not currently facing a primary challenge.”  Walker concludes, “It is amazing how quickly a serious primary challenger turns a senator into a reliable vote on the important issues.” Sounds like we need a lot more primary challenges from real progressives.

5. Speaking of progressives, Jon Walker argues that “you can’t be a progressive and support the filibuster,” which he calls “a tool to thwart the will of the people” and “the great maintainer of the status quo.”  It’s not like the filibuster is in the Constitution or anything, it’s just an internal Senate rule, and those rules can be changed. Is there any good reason not to change it?

6. Jon Walker warns that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) may be “jumping on the trigger bandwagon.” Even if he’s well intentioned, the problem is that any trigger in this case will likely “be designed to make sure it is never pulled, so there will never be a public option.” Obviously, that’s not an outcome we – or hopefully Sen. Menendez – find acceptable.

7. Jon Walker analyzes “what the Senate bill does better,” focusing in this post on the “waiver For state innovation.” Given many progressives’ frustration at this point, it’s good to know that the Senate bill “is not all bad,” as Walker puts it.

8. Finally, Jason Rosenbaum reiterates that “triggers are nothing but a plan to kill the public option.” Other than that, they’re a greeeeeeaaat idea. (snark)

Herr Slams Pitts on Choice

Saturday morning saw a large group gather in front of the old Chester County courthouse to either condemn or support the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the House health insurance bill.  Joe Pitts (PA-16) co-authored sweeping new bans on women’s access to abortion, a legal medical procedure.  Following a summer where Republicans spread horror stories that reform would mean rationing of health care and government bureaucrats deciding your medical care decisions Joe Pitts introduced just such a measure.

In his very undistinguished career in Washington Joe Pitts has stayed under the national radar.  In spite of breaking his term limit promises he continues running for re-election on the basis of far right, fringe religious ideological grounds.  Joe Pitts doesn’t believe in democracy and wants to replace our system of government with a theocracy where clerics tell us all what we can and cannot do with our bodies.  He belongs to extreme, dangerous religious cults and lives in the C Street house with other Congressional zealots.  I wonder who Pitts shares a bed with in The Family house?  The John Ensign scandal obviously shows the level of hypocrisy and sexual misbehavior happening in that edifice.

Lois Herr slammed Congressman Pitts for his support for onerous new bans on women’s reproductive rights.  She was joined by the National Organization For Women, Planned Parenthood Advocates (disclosure:  I am a member of the state Board of Directors), State Representative Barbara McIlvaine Smith and Lancaster City Council member Denise Williams.  Unfortunately YouTube didn’t upload all of my videos of the event(in spite of spending all weekend trying) but these managed to get online.

Rep. Smith had the best moment of the morning as protesters engaged in loud, rude, obnoxious, threatening and noxious behavior refused to remain across the street and attempted to hijack the event.  One man revealed the real agenda of those screaming at the speakers when he told Ms. Smith she should “just keep her legs crossed.”  She replied he should “keep it in his pants.”

These reactionary men don’t think women should be able to have sex and cringe at the thought it can be enjoyable.  To them, and Pitts, sexual activity should only be for reproduction.  I wonder how many of those men masturbate?  Any guesses?  If they insist women should keep their legs crossed so abortion will never be necessary maybe they need to get some practice.  How would they deal with a woman being raped at knifepoint, just tell her she needs to keep her legs crossed?

The rally’s goal was to insure that women’s rights to safe, legal abortions remains intact.  Joe Pitts’ amendment takes America back to the dangerous days of back alley butchers, days when women died at the hands of unsafe practitioners, children were left motherless and unwanted children grew up abused, malnourished and unloved.  So much for the sanctity of life argument.

More video is after the bump…

Terry O’Neill  of NOW:

Denise Williams:

Lois wraps up the event:

Our Sears Debacle

Since we’re about to embark on the holiday shopping season let me share our recent experience with Sears.  It hasn’t been good.  I spent all day last Monday at our new house waiting for them to come and fix the faulty installation of our new gas dryer.  Almost a month after purchasing new Bosch washer and dryer set we cannot use the dryer.  Because Sears neglected to supply us with the dryer hookup set we bought and paid for it leaks carbon monoxide.

Naturally this is a very dangerous situation.  It sure would be nice if they fixed it…  Arrangements were made for them to come to the house a week ago and do so.  After waiting eight hours I called Sears to discover they had no intention of coming out.  I went into the store at Berkshire Mall in Reading a bit angry about wasting an entire day.  They had no record of the appointment set just the previous Friday evening.  They wanted to reschedule in the same method they’d just failed with so I said no, you’ll come now when it’s convenient for us.  None of our schedules was open for the remainder of last week so I told the store management someone could be there tomorrow at 9 am.  I told them this was the only time and they must be there at 9.  They called last night to tell me they’ll call again tonight with the time they’ll be there, completely against what was agreed upon.

Tomorrow when they don’t arrive at 9 am we will elect to return the merchandise because Sears didn’t provide the merchandise for which we paid, didn’t install the dryer correctly and safely, didn’t show up to repair the installation as promised then failed to abide by reasonable terms for a second chance.  We simply aren’t willing to waste another day sitting around the house waiting for Sears to screw us again.  Either they come when we’re available now or we return the washer and dryer.

Remember our experience when you decide where to shop this holiday season.

Update:  Seats stood us up again today.  They were supposed to come this morning and reinstall the dryer.  Sears then called and told us they do not install gas dryers and would not be at the house.  This was three minutes after the crew called to say they’d be there.

After going to the store (I wasted another four hours today dealing with these horrible people) they want to reschedule it yet again.  How many times do they expect us to schedule these visits when they then refuse to come?

The Catholic Church Goes Crazy

Pope Nazi I is taking the Catholic Church over a cliff.  The former member of Hitler’s Nazi Youth is instilling an authoritarian, intolerant and evil twist on Jesus’ teachings.  Just recently we’ve witnessed the Church pressure Congress to pass the horrid Stupak-Pitts Amendment, threaten DC over same sex marriage rights by saying they’d stop feeding the hungry, and now, denying communion to Rep. Patrick Kennedy.

I remind people that no one forces them to be Catholic.  There are options for those uncomfortable with the decidedly Unchristian actions of their church:  leave, protest and withhold your monetary contributions.  The Pope needs money to impose his reactionary, discriminatory policies on women, gays and anyone he deems isn’t in line with his 19th century attitudes and mores.  Stop giving your money to these people.

The Pope and his minions (Bishops) had no moral qualms about hiding the abuse of children and, in fact, cover it up as far as possible and then file bankruptcy to deprive their victims of justice.  They will stop doing Christian work if all citizens are treated equally, and now are withdrawing communion to those moving forward as punishment.

I ask my Catholic friends to think very carefully whether your faith is the faith of Jesus, whether it is following the teachings of the great philosopher, and whether you are comfortable remaining in a faith which is appearing, more and more, to be led by a fascist.

White House Comments on Healthcare Vote

The White House issued a formal statement yesterday on today’s vote to open debate on health insurance reform.  It remains to be seen if Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln will vote with her fellow Democrats or vote to kill the measure.

STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY

H.R. 3590 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

(Substitute sponsored by Sen. Reid, D-Nevada, and 3 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports Senate passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the proposed substitute to H.R. 3590), which represents a critical milestone in the effort to reform our health care system.  This legislation meets the President’s criteria for health insurance reform:  it provides stability and security to those with insurance; offers access to quality, affordable health care for those who do not have insurance; cuts costs for families, small businesses and the Government; and does so without adding a dime to the deficit.

This legislation is the product of unprecedented cooperation and countless hours of hard work by Members of the Senate who share the President’s conviction that the Nation cannot wait another year for health insurance reform.  They have forged a strong consensus that represents an historic step forward.

The Senate legislation includes critical reforms to the insurance industry, so that Americans will no longer have to worry that they will be denied coverage, or that their coverage will be dropped or watered down when they need it most.  It covers virtually all Americans and ensures that all Americans with health insurance are protected against high, out-of-pocket spending.  The Administration is pleased that the bill includes a public health insurance option offered in an Exchange.  As the President has said throughout this process, a public option that competes with private insurers is one of the best ways to provide the choice and competition that are so badly needed in today’s market.

The Senate bill also includes important health care delivery system and insurance reforms and cost-containment initiatives, and it would extend the solvency of Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund.  The Administration is also pleased that the bill creates an Independent Medicare Advisory Board.  The bill’s Medicare and Medicaid policies promote integrated care, quality care, and primary care.  It invests in research on the most effective treatments, prevention, and the health care workforce.  It also makes critical improvements for Medicare beneficiaries including beginning to address the coverage gap in the Medicare drug benefit known as the donut hole.  In addition, it provides new options for long-term care.  The bill includes important program integrity protections that will safeguard Medicare and Medicaid from fraud, waste, and abuse.  Moreover, the Senate bill is not only fully paid for, but also reduces the deficit by $130 billion in the first decade and by more than half a trillion dollars in the next decade.

This bill provides the necessary health reforms that the Administration seeks – affordable, quality care within reach for the tens of millions of Americans who do not have it today, and stability and security for the hundreds of millions who do.  The Administration appreciates the hard work of the Senate on this bill, which contributes to transforming the health care system.  The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with the Congress to enact health insurance reform and urges quick action on this landmark bill.

The Mammogram Controversy

Much of the week was spent debating the new guidelines on mammograms for women in their forties.  Enough angst was spent on this to fuel too much anxiety into an already anxiety ridden issue.  The responsibility of the group which issued the new guidelines is to examine the big picture, analyze all the information and data and create the best, safest recommendations.  Americans are infatuated with medical testing and we all have way too many radiological tests done.  This new report says the risks of these tests may outweigh their benefits.  That all seems logical to me.  Of course every individual is different and depending on one’s individual risk level and family history your situation may call for earlier and more frequent testing.

Let’s be a bit more rational about this discourse though.  Many women are screaming about these guidelines without thinking through the science.  Mammograms aren’t without their risk.  Any time we subject our bodies to radiation we assume more risk for cancers.  Testing every year when data tells us it isn’t necessary is risky behavior.  Every woman should check with her doctor, as with all of us on every health issue, to discuss her own risk factors and course of care.  

Patrick Slattery Kicks Off His Campaign

Patrick Slattery kicked off his campaign for State Representative Thursday evening in Emmaus.  The 134th District runs from Barto up to Lower Macungie Township.  Doug Reichley who used to call himself a protege of John Perzel, is the incumbent.  With Perzel now indicted on 82 counts of stealing $10 million in taxpayer dollars to help his Republican cohorts Doug Reichley has some serious explaining to do.

How much of that $10 million was used for Rep. Reichley?  If any will he do the right thing and resign his seat?  Not likely.  Slattery reminded his supporters of his opponents corrupt associations Thursday and I suspect he’ll continue to do so until next November.

My videos don’t seem to have uploaded so I’ll have to redo them at YouTube and update this with them later (sorry!).

Anniversaries

I don’t have many anniversaries I mark.  I almost forgot today’s until a support group I belong to online sent a reminder.  Twenty five years ago today I suffered some serious injuries.  I’ve been on disability since.  The head, neck and inner ear injuries changed my life but also transformed it.  I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if not for all I went through.  I would likely still be living elsewhere in fact.  Some people say everything happens for a reason and I think that, perhaps, what happened to me was for a reason.  This is one way of trying to make sense of the pain and struggle and making sense of life’s strange and terrible twists of fate.  Who knows?

FDL Action Health Care Update: Friday (11/20/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Friday, November 20.

1. Jon Walker asks, “Is Harry Reid Laying The Ground Work To Betray Progressives For Snowe’s Vote?” In the end, Walker concludes, “Reid does have the power to get a public option passed, there is no good excuse for failure.” Cool, so don’t fail! :)

2. Jon Walker says that “the crack team of reporters at the Washington Post don’t know how to read” and that they “make the ridiculous claim that the public option would not be able to keep down costs.” Other than that, they totally know what they’re talking about. Heh.

3. Jon Walker discusses why the House bill is much more “small c” conservative than the Senate bill. In short, the House bill “would do a better job of maintaining a health care system similar to the one we currently have” and the “reason for this is the employer mandate.”

4. David Dayen reports that “Ron Wyden has reached agreement with the leadership to get an amendment into the bill which would allow as many as 1 million additional individuals who get health care from their employers to participate on the insurance exchanges, including selecting the public option.” Dayen believes that this could “lead to significant changes in the current health system by expanding the risk pool in the exchanges, strengthening them, and setting a precedent for moving away from the employer-based system.”  The Republicans’ worst nightmare, in other words.

5. David Dayen reports that Bill Clinton told FDL’s Eve Gittelson that it would be problematic for him to attend a free medical clinic being held in Little Rock, Arkansas tomorrow because MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had ‘politicized” the event.'” Huh?

6. David Dayen says that while “{e}veryone’s talking about the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and their imposition into the legislative debate over health care, particularly abortion,” the there’s also their “opposition to a restrictive provision in the Senate bill that would ban undocumented immigrants from purchasing health insurance on the exchange with their own money.” Go Catholic Bishops on this one!

7. Jon Walker asks, “Why Does The Senate Bill Create Two Exchanges?” The answer: “I have been unable to find a good reason why the decision was made to create two separate marketplaces.”  Well, that’s comforting! :)

8. Finally, tomorrow (Saturday) at 8pm eastern time is the big vote to proceed to debate on health care reform legislation in the U.S. Senate. We’ll see how it goes, but there’s little doubt that conservadems love their leverage in this process.  Thrilling, no?

FDL Action Health Care Update: Thursday (11/19/09)

Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Thursday, November 19.

1. Jon Walker lays out “eight things wrong with the Senate health care bill,” beginning with “Delays Start Until 2014” and including “Nationwide Plans Gutting State Regulation.” Definitely a few things that need to be fixed here.

2. Jane Hamsher has a statement from FDL on the Senate health care bill. The statement concludes, “If Harry Reid truly cares about fighting for the good of the country over the good of Wellpoint, he will immediately dispense with the opt-out and move to reconciliation and allow a majority in the Senate to deliver to Americans what they want and desperately need.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear at the moment that Reid is so inclined.

3. Speaking of the opt-out, Jon Walker writes that the “CBO has concluded that the design of the opt-out provision will end up denying the public option to roughly a third of the population in this country.” Needless to say, that would not be good.

4. Jon Walker identifies the “most frightening line in the CBO report,” regarding risk adjustment mechanisms in the Senate bill that are “dangerously weak.” According to Walker, “that might not sound scary, but that line should strike fear in the hearts of any health care policy expert.” Find out why by clicking here.

5. Jon Walker writes that “at the request of AHIP, [the] Senate bill guts state  health insurance regulations.” Walker says that this “is a dramatic move by the federal government, forcing states to deregulate their health insurance markets,” and that it could “gut state health insurance regulations and create a race to the bottom.” Other than that, it’s great! (snark)

6. Jon Walker examines the House and Senate health care bills and concludes that the House bill is 12% more cost-effective than the Senate bill.

7. Jon Walker analyzes “how the Senate abortion language differs from Stupak”. In short, the Stupak amendment “would make it practically impossible for any insurance provider to offer abortion coverage on the exchange for a variety of financial and legal reasons.”

8. Jane Hamsher contrasts Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) “hold[ing] health care…hostage” while Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter “brings Olbermann clinics to Arkansas.” Quite a contrast.

9. Finally, Jon Walker reports that, “{l}ike a monster in some B horror movie,” Tom Carper is now working with Olympia Snowe “to bring back the trigger, which [Carper] has comically named the ‘hammer.'” The hammer? What, is this named after Tom DeLay or something? Weird.