Corbett Is Denying Veterans Health Care Under ACA

Gov. Gasbag’s refusal to adopt Medicaid Expansion under the ACA is denying Pennsylvania veterans with needed health care.  An estimated 500-600,000 residents of our Commonwealth could be covered if the Governor accepted the federal funds for two years to fully fund the expansion.  This Memorial Day we should focus on how conservative ideology is costing people their lives.

We’ve already see the awful effects of sequestration cuts on the VA and how that agency is failing veterans.  Republicans and many Democrats were all too eager to go to war over lies they knew to be so but then refused to allocate the funds to properly treat our wounded and ill veterans.  One solution was to expand Medicaid for those vets too poor to pay for their own insurance.  Gov. Corbett continues to have the authority to do so but refuses because his ideology is in the way.  That’s peculiar for someone who professes to be “pro life.”

Women’s Health Care Advanced Under ACA

Women now have access to eight new health care preventative services under the Affordable Care Act.  As of today new plans must include well woman visits, gestational diabetes screening, violence screening and counseling, contraception, breast feeding support and counseling, HPV DNA testing, sexually transmitted disease counseling and HIV screening.  Some of these are already covered through Medicare and additional grants are available for states which want to expand their Medicaid coverage.  Existing plans and those grandfathered aren’t included.  Eventually all of those will come under the guidelines and include the services.

Preventive health services greatly reduce long term health care costs.  It’s a “pay me now or pay me later” matter.  Catching something early due to well woman exams, for example, is must cheaper to treat and has better outcomes than waiting until the matter is serious.

Valerie Jarrett and HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius held a conference call this afternoon with the Surgeon General to review the new benefits.  Jarrett noted this will protect women “from the worst insurance company abuses.”  Sebelius said “No insurance company should be able to dictate to a woman what medical care she receives.”  She also said a woman no longer will have to decide between putting food on the table or going to the doctor.  There are no co-pays or deductibles for these eight services now thanks tot he ACA.  Women are discriminated against by health insurers and 47 million of them are now covered.  HHS estimates the new services will cost less than 1% of a premium cost.

Sec. Sebelius said “Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing health condition.”

The Surgeon General pointed out the importance of breast feeding saying only 13% of women who start breast feeding are continuing with it six months after birth.  Breast feeding reduces asthma and obesity in children and cuts the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers.  Lack of access to preventive services is especially hard on minority women.  

This is a significant advance for women’s health.  The Affordable Care Act, as limited as it is leaving 30 million Americans still uninsured following its implementation, does have positive qualities.

Obama Hails SCOTUS Victory

I adopted the righteous right’s nomenclature of ObamaCare because I think he rightfully ought to take credit for the first major reform of our broken health care system in decades.  The last major victory was enactment of Medicare in the mid-sixties.  Did you watch Michelle Bachmann’s bizarre rambling on CNN?  I kept asking myself what planet she came from…

The Obama-Biden campaign weighed in on this morning’s momentous decision by the Supreme Court:

“Mitt Romney had an opportunity to rise to the occasion today and tell the American people specifically how he would move the nation forward on health care and ensure people get the care they need.   Yet, once again, he squandered that opportunity.   Instead of explaining how he would ensure costs don’t go up and health benefits are protected, Romney promised to repeal the President’s health reform law and take America back to the same old political battles of the past.     He is completely unmoved by what that would do to millions of middle-class families, women, seniors and young Americans who are today benefiting from the law.   Romney’s promise to repeal the law would give insurance companies free rein to exploit Americans through the worst industry abuses, strip 86 million Americans of often life-saving preventive care, cost 3.1 million young Americans of their coverage by kicking them off their parents’ plans, allow insurance companies to discriminate against kids with preexisting conditions, and increase prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare.  

Just six years ago, before Mitt Romney decided to run for president, he passed a law in Massachusetts that achieved universal coverage for the citizens of that state through an individual mandate and tax penalty.  That law became the model for the President’s health reform law.  Now, as he is running for president, Romney has run away from his accomplishment in Massachusetts, callously promising to repeal national reform and “kill it dead.”  He owes the American people a clear, non-parsed explanation of why he believes his decisions in Massachusetts are wrong for the country, and exactly what he would do to help the American people get the health care they need.” – Jim Messina, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

The President’s comments from the White House:

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON THE SUPREME COURT RULING

ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

East Room

12:15 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago.  In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost.  That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.  But that discussion completely misses the point.  Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.  Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.  They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions.  They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick.  They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason.  They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance.  And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support.  And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.  

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from.  Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too.  And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition.  They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman.  They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else.  And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.  This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.  In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive.  I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared.  And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics.  I did it because I believed it was good for the country.  I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now.  It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield.  For years and years, Natoma did everything right.  She bought health insurance.  She paid her premiums on time.  But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer.  And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year.  And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law.  It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today.  And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance.  These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken.  We will continue to implement this law.  And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.  But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law.  And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time:  putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.

 

Confusion Reigns on SCOTUS ObamaCare Ruling

The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare is confusing.  Some are saying the individual mandate was struck down while others are saying the ability to tax saved it.  Chief Justice wrote the decision in a 5-4 case.   The fact Scalia and Thomas are in the minority seems to be a positive sign.

The mandate MAY be upheld by Congress under its taxing authority according to CNN just now.  If those who can purchase health insurance are penalized, is this a tax?  if so the mandate is upheld, if not it is struck down.

The decision  is a huge victory for Barack Obama.

News & Notes June 25, 2012

The Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare is expected today.  Consensus seems to be that the Roberts Court will strike it down.  So far this court has backed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 100% on its rulings.  Elections do have consequences.

Focus on SCOTUS is increasing as the result of the total corruption of our democracy because of Citizens United.  When 30 billionaires can funnel a billion dollars into a single campaign we no longer have a democracy.  Meanwhile Justices Alito and Thomas are getting heavy criticism for their purely partisan work.  Clarence Thomas’ wife works for a think tank opposing the Affordable Care Act.  His household gets money from those working to strike down the law.  

Fast & Furious continues being a focus of the news.  The failed program begun under George W. Bush ran guns into Mexico in the hope they could be tracked.  It failed.  Concern and outrage by the Right is missing the larger issue:  the huge flow of guns from this country into Mexico fueling the rampant violence and destabilization.

The student loan interest rate issue and a transportation bill both need to be passed this week.  Is the Tea Party House capable of passing anything meaningful and progressive?

A disturbing article about a Justice Department suit against two polygamous towns is required reading.  Polygamy is illegal and residents of these Utah/Arizona border towns are openly discriminating against their non-polygamous residents to the point of destroying their crops and killing their dogs.

East coast sea levels are rising due to global warming.  How much evidence do morons need before they stop believing what they hear from Rush and Fox?  The oil companies are fueling this denial so they can continue destroying the planet for profit.  Imagine the chaos if tens of millions of people are displaced all along the east coast?  How much will that cost?

It’s time for an increase in the minimum wage.  Low wage workers are actually earning less than thirty years ago due to inflation.  Places like Santa Fe which have living wage minimum wages prove that higher wages don’t mean fewer jobs.  The business community constantly rolls out this debunked argument when the issue comes up for votes.  In Santa Fe, where the minimum wage is now $10.29 they now have more people working in the hospitality sector, a center of low wage workers, than before 2008.  Their high minimum wage has not affected employment.

A Philadelphia jury convicted Msg. William Lynn of child endangerment last Friday.  Two landmark child molestation trials ended in Pennsylvania on the same day, both with convictions.  The Catholic Church must pay for its disregard of morality.  Penn State’s mistake wa snot shuttling Sandusky from campus to campus to better hide his abuses.  It worked for the Church for decades after all.

Voters keep electing car dealers to Congress then are mystified when the corrupt businessmen become corrupt Congressmen.  Have you ever dealt with an honest car dealer?  There’s no such thing.  The latest is Florida’s Vern Buchanan.  At least this corrupt Buchanan isn’t from Pennsylvania but we have our own car dealer in Congress:  Mike Kelly in PA-03.  Before that we had Don Sherwood in PA-11 who lost after getting caught choking his mistress.

I come from a family of teachers.  My Mom was a special education teacher, a sister is a college professor, another a retired guidance counselor and two more teach in local high schools.  When I hear idiots complaining about teachers it makes my blood boil.  They have no idea how hard these jobs are, especially nowadays.  Kids who have no interest in learning because their parents fail to instill a love of it in them when young challenge every teacher.  Would you want your job dependent on such kids?  Teachers are vastly underpaid when CEO’s earn billions.  Here’s a suggestion on how to pay teachers, gotta love it.

There are so many important areas being cut by Gov. gasbag so he can shell out tax credits to energy companies it’s hard to keep up with all of them.  The Times-Tribune covers how cuts are affecting day care centers.

Congratulations to new AFSCME leaders Lee Saunders (President) and Laura Reyes (Sec-Treasurer).  Saunders succeeds Jerry McEntee who retired after a good tenure.

In yet another tragic shooting of a Black kid by an angry white man are we entering into a race war where White men are openly killing African-Americans?  This seems to have been the real motivation for Stand Your Ground laws.

Fox News is so stupid not only can’t they get facts straight (of course they don’t want to when they can just make them up) but they can’t even get people right.  In their latest flub they showed a picture of Gov. Mitch Daniels instead of Jerry Sandusky.  It may be a freudian slip though since Daniels is screwing Indiana the same way Jerry screwed his kids.

The Supreme Court did strike down Arizona’s “papers please” anti-immigration law this morning.  But they also struck down Montana’s law against unlimited corporate money in politics.  This is a double down on Citizens United.  From the Brennan Center For Justice:

“The 2012 elections make one thing clear: unlimited spending by super PACs and secretive nonprofits is corrupting our political process and threatens to swamp our democracy,” said Adam Skaggs, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Increasing numbers of Americans believe our government is bought and paid for by special interests and that their votes don’t matter. By not taking this case, the Court missed a critical opportunity to rein in some of the worst excesses of Citizens United, and other rulings, that created this super PAC mess.”

Montana banned corporate election spending for more than 100 years as a result of a dramatic history of efforts by big companies to capture the state government. The state of Montana compiled an extensive and powerful factual record that demonstrated how unlimited corporate spending previously held the state hostage to mining companies and still poses severe threats to Montana’s elections and government. For the Court to strike down the state’s anti-corruption law without even reviewing that record is a serious mistake.