Tag Archive: health care reform

Truth, The Real Public Option

Around the same time that the health care reform act was being hotly debated, several months back, I wrote extensively about my own experiences.  I’ve struggled with chronic illness the whole of my life, and so not having health insurance was not exactly any bargaining chip for me.  The no-insurance option shouldn’t have to be anyone’s experience, yet this is still true for many I know.  Many people my age (thirty) and younger who have had to endure extended periods of unemployment due to the economy must depend on benevolent parents, should they be young enough, or instead beg for whatever available government coverage can be achieved.  At worst, they must make do with no coverage, hoping and praying that they don’t get seriously sick.  My sister is a prime example of the risk you take when you don’t have health insurance.  An injury, followed in rapid succession by an illness, required extensive care, depleting what little savings she had and leaving her in debt.  She always worked somewhere, but only managed to find jobs in the service industry, low-wage endeavors that did not provide insurance to employees.      

An Interview with Adlai Stevenson III, Part One: Government Transparency



Editor’s Note:

Earlier this week I had the great honor to be able to interview former Illinois Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III. He is promoting a new book entitled The Black Book, in which he summarizes a career spent in public service as well as sharing his thoughts about the current day.  We covered a lot of ground in our hour-long talk, so I intend to write a series of posts as a result.  This, then, is Part One.

Thanks,

Cabaretic

 

Budget Reform Requires More Than the Sum of Its Parts

The question of budget deficits and the health of government programs has been the largest can frequently kicked down the road.  Though it’s become repetitive to warn or caution in this fashion, we need to make the appropriate steps and institute the proper reforms now.  This issue is not going to go away.  It is perhaps the least politically popular and most divisive.  As we have seen with Health Care Reform, it may even inspire a backlash that shows the door to many courageous legislators who dared to paddle upstream against a strong headwind.  There are some issues which can be dodged without much harm being done, but then there are others which must be confronted.  Some politicians could write whole books (and teach others) about their genius system of embracing political expediency, but what we need now is not an escape artist or a magician.  We need leaders.  

Healthcare: A Blast From the Past

December 7, 1964  from a newspaper in the national archives

Says Medicare Bill Will Be Passed

Newark – Speaking at a meeting of the New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters at the Military Park Hotel here Friday, Joseph J. Sear, president and chairman of the board of the Progressive Life Insurance Company of Red Bank, said the outcome of the recent election makes it virtually certain that the 89th Congress, meeting in January, will pass a Medicare bill, and that it will be signed by the President.

“We, in the accident and health insurance business,” he said, “should have no fears that the passage of such a bill will hurt our business unless it becomes the opening wedge for a socialized medicine program such as in Great Britain, which includes everyone from cradle to the grave. The bill before Congress is generally restricted to providing medical aid for persons 65 years of age and older under the Social Security Program, and we are still insuring primarily persons below the age of 65.

“Since I last spoke to you 13 years ago, (note: 1951) the people cared for by hospital expense policies increased from $85 million to $145 million and the people cared for by medical expense policies increased from $28 million to $102 million, and the trend is still upward.”

Forty Six Years Later

March 23, 2010. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), aka Dole/Nixon/RomneyObamaCare, signed into law by “Democratic” President.   2009 Bill passed by Senate still lacks universal coverage and the option of purchasing government insurance, but contains universally loathed tax mandate and excise tax pushed by “Democratic” Senator from Massachusetts and WH “Economist” consultant from MIT.  Bill not designed to add more Medicaid coverage until 2014.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P…

September 17, 2010. Number of uninsured Americans now rises to 50.7 million, or 1 out of 6, or 16%.   Workers now paying 47% more for family health insurance coverage than in 2005, while employers pay 20% more.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/n…

January 3, 2011 New Republican Majority leader Eric Cantor introduces bill to rules committee called “Repealing the Job Killing Health Care Law Act”   “Effective as of the enactment of Public Law 111- 148, such act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such act had not been enacted.”

pdf download text here: http://rules-republicans.house…

January 4, 2011  from Kaiser Health News-

House Republicans have scheduled a Jan. 12 vote to repeal the health care law. While the measure is expected to pass the House, Democrats in the Senate have pledged to stop the bill.

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.or…

January 5, 2011 Shuffle the Deck Chairs on the Titanic


The Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, created just after the law passed, is about to be folded into the federal Medicare agency, signaling a major organizational shift just months after the office was created, administration officials said.

In addition, Michael Hash, who has been serving as a top White House health adviser, has taken the reins of the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services. Hash succeeds Jeanne Lambrew,  who has been director of the office since May 2009 and has played a central role on the health law. Lambrew, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, will stay on at HHS as an adviser to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The insurance oversight office was headed by Jay Angoff, who battled with insurance companies both as a Missouri official and a class-action litigator. He’ll become a senior adviser to Sebelius.

The office will become part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and will be managed by Marilyn Tavenner, deputy administrator of CMS.

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.or…

January 5, 2011.   Blue Shield of CA seeks rate increases of up to 59% for customers by March 1st. They blame costs of hospitals

http://www.latimes.com/health/…

Hospitals treat the un insured when their health descends into the most expensive crisis mode,  and pass the markup, make it up prices along to the insured, while charging the uninsured the highest rates, so they can still have their debts “sold.”

And nothing has changed the basic dynamic of leaving a portion of the population uncovered to act as a price lever on the rest.

Nothing.

A million and a half people filed for bankruptcy last year.  The leading cause is uncontrolled medical debt.

Blue Shield spent $16 million on federal lobbyists in 2010.  The top recipient was “Democrat” There Will Be No Public Option Blanche, the former Sen. Lincoln of Arkansas.  Eric Cantor got $22,500.

http://www.opensecrets.org/org…

They have a PAC, too, for their executives to use.

http://www.campaignmoney.com/p…

There’s more – each of those executives will be making other, individual donations.

But in CA, the real action is at the state level.  How they loved Schwarzenegger, the ex governator.  And the Republicans. And the Democrats.  Last year’s money bomb:

http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Ca…

http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Ca…

most complete list of donations in 2009 – 2010 election cycle:

http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Ca…

Poor Jerry Brown only got $2,500 out of all of that ?  

 

Waaaaaoooow: We is left-wing as heeeeeyyyll!!!

Most Americans say tax rich to balance budget: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters via YahooNews) – Most Americans think the United States should raise taxes for the rich to balance the budget, according to a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll released on Monday.

President Barack Obama last month signed into law a two-year extension of Bush-era tax cuts for millions of Americans, including the wealthiest, in a compromise with Republicans. . . .”

Well this is kind of a fun headline to read. But again, I find it a bit on the subtle side of things. Perhaps a more eye-catching headline might read:

Poll: Holy Shitballs! Who let all these left wingers in?

or perhaps

Poll: MMMMYeah . . . . about that whole ‘center-right nation’ thing

HumpDay Part III: Bush Tax Cuts for Richest a Go, per Axelrod, Walks back Afghantime

Just before midnight, Wednesday, November 10, 2010, Pacific West Coast time:

Just when you really wanted to effing just go to bed and bury your head in a pillow for the next 24 hours, White House top advisor (at this hour….) David Axelrod has been tasked with imparting this cheery news:  The George W. Bush Tax Cuts for the Wealthiest, began at the beginning of the Afghan and Iraq wars (2001 and 2003) due to expire at the end of the year, are alive and well, and won’t be rescinded after all.  Yay Chicago Neoliberal Ekonomists !  


HuffPo 11/10/10

White House Gives In On Bush Tax Cuts

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

“We have to deal with the world as we find it,” Axelrod said during an unusually candid and reflective 90-minute interview in his office, steps away from the Oval Office. “The world of what it takes to get this done.”

“There are concerns,” he added, that Congress will continue to kick the can down the road in the future by passing temporary extensions for the wealthy time and time again. “But I don’t want to trade away security for the middle class in order to make that point.”

Axelrod said the President would not comment on the Deficit, aka the Catfood Commision’s, draconium domestic spending cut proposals until the report is formally finished and presented on December 1.  A preliminary report by the Presidential appointed co chairs, Simpson and Bowles, was released earlier today.

http://docudharma.com/diar…

Oh, and that story I deconstructed earlier, http://docudharma.com/diar…      that the Cable News Peeps were sort of ignoring or downplaying earlier this evening, from Tuesday’s McClatchy, http://www.mcclatchydc.com/201… which quoted “administration and military officials”   about the change in the timeline for beginning withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan ? Axelrod walked it back.


Meanwhile, on the war in Afghanistan — an expensive and increasingly unpopular conflict — Axelrod pushed back hard against the notion, floated in some recent stories quoting “senior administration sources,” that the deadline for beginning troop withdrawals had been pushed back from July 2011 to some time in 2014.

“If it is being sourced to senior administration officials, than someone has bad administration sources,” Axelrod said. “There is no change in the president’s position. There is no change in that basic commitment.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Well, look at the McClatchy story link again.


….administration and military officials have told McClatchy.

So far, the U.S. Central Command, the military division that oversees Afghanistan operations, hasn’t submitted any kind of withdrawal order for forces for the July deadline, two of those officials told McClatchy.

…. said one senior administration official.

….. one Pentagon advisor said

…. on Tuesday, a White House official who spoke with reporters in a conference call

“Bad administration sources ?”

This was a very coordinated trial balloon that fell like a lump of lead.  Or the guy left babysitting the press at the Oval Office in DC, Axelrod, is either out of the loop, or trying to spin it as nothing to see here.

Axelrod has lots of practice at spinning. In March 2008, Businessweek wrote “The Secret Side of David Axelrod, a master of astroturfing who has a second firm that shapes public opinion for corporations.”

The website is here http://askps.com/whatwedo.php  altho Axelrod’s name is not on the masthead now, they continue to specialize in “a disciplined focus on message development and message delivery.”  And they create lots of front groups for clients to do that.


March 2008

http://www.businessweek.com/bw…

From the same address in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Axelrod operates a second business, ASK Public Strategies, that discreetly plots strategy and advertising campaigns for corporate clients to tilt public opinion their way. He and his partners consider virtually everything about ASK to be top secret, from its client roster and revenue to even the number of its employees. But customers and public records confirm that it has quarterbacked campaigns for the Chicago Children’s Museum, ComEd, Cablevision, and AT&T.

Eric Sedler, 39, a former public relations director at AT&T and corporate-reputation specialist at PR giant Edelman, is the “S” in ASK and the company’s managing partner. The “K” is John Kupper, 51, a former congressional press secretary and ad-industry consultant…

In politics, Axelrod’s AKP&D is as partisan as they come. But ASK travels easily across the aisle. Gene Reineke, head of Hill & Knowlton’s Chicago office and former chief of staff for Republican Governor Jim Edgar, says his PR firm shared ComEd as a client and now works with ASK on the Children’s Museum. “Their firm is outstanding,” he says. “I think it’s one of the best in the field, to be honest.”

Here’s another version, in the New York Times, with names you might recognize.  Of course they were out of the bleeping country when they said it.  Maybe we should check with Julian Assange of wikileaks ?


US Tweaks Message on Troops in Afghanistan

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11…

Nov 10, 2010 By Elisabeth Bumiller

In a move away from President Obama’s deadline of July 2011 for the start of an American drawdown from Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all cited 2014 this week as the key date for handing over the defense of Afghanistan to the Afghans themselves. Implicit in their message, delivered at a security and diplomatic conference in Australia, was that the United States would be fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan for at least four more years.

The 2014 date will be a focus at a NATO summit meeting that Mr. Obama is to attend next week in Lisbon, Portugal, where the alliance is to be presented with a transition plan, drawn up by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, that calls for a gradual four-year shifting of security responsibility to the Afghans. Administration officials said that the document had no timetable for specific numbers of troop withdrawals and instead set forth the conditions that had to be met in crucial provinces before NATO forces could hand off security to the Afghans.

per the NYT, another “WH spokesman,” Tommy Vietor, insisted that there had been absolutely “no change” to the original drawdown policy.   And a “White House official” said that “we’re bringing some clarity to the policy of our future in Afghanistan.”

To paraphrase Bush’s Secretary of Unpreparedness, Rumsfeld:

You go to war with the tax rate you have, not the tax rate you might want or wish to have at a later time.

Even if it will add $700 billion more to that deficit the Republicans and the Catfood Commisssion are baying about.

______

update Thurs And we already have some “Democratic” Senators indicating a willingness to put Social Security on the table because of their “concern” for the deficit.


http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-…

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Thursday said Congress should consider all of the proposals coming from President Obama’s fiscal commission, including the controversial proposals to reform Social Security.

In a phone interview with The Hill, Udall said the 50-page proposal released Wednesday by former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), the chairmen of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, should be seriously considered even though “none of them are going to be very popular.”

“This is going to be a very painful process. But we must bring down the deficit and the debt, and everything needs to be on the table.

Blue Texan at FDL asks   “If the White House Gets Rolled by the GOP on Tax Cuts, What’s the Point of Voting for Democrats ?”

_______

edited to add link to orig story Huffpo

and links to business week article on Axelrod and his old PR firm, ASK

edited thurs to add link from The Hill about Udall and from FDL

HumpDay Part II: Debt Commish Wants Your Social Security & Medicare, Too

Oh, this is just turning out to be an all kinds of post electoral inspirational day for the Democratic Party.

  First we had this, the Pentagon’s version of the “4 more years!” cheer, and here’s my reaction to that. http://docudharma.com/diar…

And if you liked that, you are going to LOVE this.

  Debt Commission Report Targets Social Security and Medicare.  


The most direct assault on Social Security, however, may not be the increase of the retirement age, but rather an attempt to tilt the program toward a welfare model and away from the current, universal insurance model that has made it popular and enduring despite 75 years of attacks. The co-chairs propose to “increase [the] progressivity of [the] benefit formula by creating a new bendpoint at the 50th percentile.” Such a move would require means testing. In other words, the government would determine benefits based on a beneficiary’s assets and other sources of income. Currently, beneficiaries are paid benefits based on their contribution over their working life. Replacing the social insurance model with a welfare model would erode support, encourage fraud and ultimately undermine the program.

If you want to look at the original doc from the co – chairs of the Catfood, er, Fiscal commission, co chaired by ex Republican Senator Alan Simpson and ex COS of Pres. Clinton, Erksine Bowles, here’s the pagestart.  Remember President Obama appointed these clowns. http://www.fiscalcommission.go…

And here are more commissioners.  See anybody familiar on this list ?  Why look, it’s Southern California’s Rep. Xavier Becerra (D, CA 31) one of the Leadership “Liberal” Democrats who wouldn’t commit to signing on for a Public Option.   Bruce Reed, another Clintonite, is the Executive Director.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA 31)

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI 4)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)

David Cote, Chairman and CEO, Honeywell International

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)

Ann Fudge, Former CEO, Young & Rubicam Brands

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX 5)

Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute and former Director, Office of Management & Budget

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI 1)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9)

Rep. John Spratt (D-SC 5)

Andrew Stern, President, Service Employees International Union

The White House is presumably tucked into bed in another Asian time zone, out of range of commenting and wondering if anyone is going to greet them at the airport tarmac on the way home next week other than John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Robert Gates.  Perpetual occupation of Afghanistan, secret drone wars, arms deals with India vs. Pakistan, and now the Cat Food commission turns loose the proposal to cut income taxes for the richest, and cut Medicare, and cut Social Security.   What’s not to like ?  

It is at this time I am going to relish my earlier assessment of Senator Kent Conrad (D, Fly Over State, North Dakota) as a duplicitous warmongering **** .


” We have now received a proposal from the bipartisan co-chairs of the President’s Fiscal Commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. This is not the conclusion of the commission’s work. This is the beginning.

I commend them for putting together a serious proposal. It reveals just how difficult it is to put the nation on a sound fiscal course. Some of it I agree with; some I strongly disagree with. We will have a chance to offer alternatives as we advance the process later today and next week.”

Paul Krugman thinks they can’t be serious.  http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c…

Because the good stuff ends up going to the very affluent.


I mean, what’s this about? There is no – zero – evidence that income taxes at current rates are an important drag on growth.

Oh, and they’re talking about raising the retirement age, because people live longer – except that the people who really depend on Social Security, those in the bottom half of the distribution, aren’t living much longer. So you’re going to tell janitors to work until they’re 70 because lawyers are living longer than ever.

It’s here. And it really is that bad. The idea that co-chairs of a commission whose charge is fiscal sustainability should take it upon themselves to (a) declare that federal revenue must not exceed 21 percent of GDP – that’s right, putting a cap on receipts and (b) call for reducing the top rate from 35 to 23 is just awesome.

Oh, Kruggie, since when do the Repukes and the Repuke wanna bees rely on evidence that excessively favoring the affluent might not be good for all of the rest of us ?

Dave Dayen went thru the thing –  hey, there’s cuts for the Veteran’s Administration, and TRICARE, too.

http://news.firedoglake.com/20…

Best comment-

ralphbon:

Splendid timing, given tomorrow’s Veteran’s Day.  

And the other good comment from “ottogrendal”


Indeed. The DoD still grows. Over $700 billion for the FY 2011 budget. http://comptroller.defense.gov…

Yay America !   We’re number 22nd now in life expectancy behind Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Cyprus, and a lot of European countries like Switzerland and the United Kingdom.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

Americablog says we’re actually ranked at 49th worldwide now.


In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands The last available measure of female life expectancy had the United States ranked at forty-sixth in the world. As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined.

Meanwhile, per capita health spending in the United States increased at nearly twice the rate in other wealthy nations between 1970 and 2002. As a result, the United States now spends well over twice the median expenditure of industrialized nations on health care, and far more than any other country as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Demographics can be a beautiful thing.

Raise the retirement age, get rid of health care,  and we won’t need that silly Social Security.  

GOP Pledges to Replace Health Care Reform with more Health Care Reform

Link

GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’ Replaces Affordable Care Act With Provisions From Affordable Care Act

By Igor Volsky, ThinkProgress.org — Sept 22, 2010

Ironically, today Republicans are also unveiling a new “Pledge To America,” an agenda that promises to “repeal” all of these benefits — as well as the entire health care law — and replace it with “reforms that lower costs for families and small businesses, increase access to affordable, high-quality care and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.”

The document provides almost no specifics about what the [GOP] party would do to control health care spending, improve quality, or pay for its reforms.

And at least 7 of the GOP’s ideas on health care are already included in the health care law:

Insurance Across State Lines

High-Risk Insurance Pools

Pre-Existing Conditions

Lifetime and Annual Caps

Recissions

State Innovation

Conscience Protections

WTF!  What Kind of Pledge is that?

12 Hump Day Headlines: Hey Chi Town, are You Fired Up ? He’s Ready to Go!

Wednesday, Sept 22, 2010  Headlines, we have headlines….

1. Rahm Emanuel Could Leave White House In October.

I’ve always wanted to type this, and now I can:



Anonymous White House Aide says Anonymous White House Aide might be leaving the White House.


If he chooses to go forward with the mayoral race, Emanuel intends to be sensitive to the fact that his dual role could create the appearance of using his government office to his personal advantage, say two people familiar with internal deliberations.

__

The aide says Emanuel will not make a decision about whether or not to run this week, but was otherwise vague about when the decision would be made – or exactly when he might step down.

2.  Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council, to Leave White House After Election

Again, the 3 anonymous Horsemen of the Impending Electionypse were quoted:


…. according to three people familiar with the matter.

His departure would leave Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as the only member of President Barack Obama’s original top-tier economic team. Summers, 55, and the president have discussed his future plans, according to one person.

Administration officials are weighing whether to put a prominent corporate executive in the NEC director’s job to counter criticism that the administration is anti-business, one person familiar with White House discussions said. White House aides are also eager to name a woman to serve in a high-level position, two people said. They also are concerned about finding someone with Summers’ experience and stature, one person said.

Dear White House.  

About that token genderism thing.

We are not fooled by how the present is wrapped if we’re still finding it still doesn’t fit.  

So that’s Peter Orszag, Christina Romer, Larry Summers, and perhaps Rrrrahmbo Anonymous gone.  That leaves Timmy Geithner.  Who now has to look at Elizabeth Warren.  

Tuesday Truffles: WH Press Sec Gibbs Shares The Love

 As the House convenes today, Tuesday, August 10, to vote on some Senate last minute leftovers, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs shows the House members hesitating on voting for more stuff how to communicate effectively with the voters when they resume their 6 week August vacation and fundraising break.


http://thehill.com/homenews/ad…

“I hear these people saying he’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said. “I mean, it’s crazy.”

The press secretary dismissed the “professional left” in terms very similar to those used by their opponents on the ideological right, saying, “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality.”

Of those who complain that Obama caved to centrists on issues such as healthcare reform, Gibbs said: “They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was president.”

Gibbs said the professional left is not representative of the progressives who organized, campaigned, raised money and ultimately voted for Obama.

Progressives, Gibbs said, are the liberals outside of Washington “in America,” and they are grateful for what Obama has accomplished in a shattered economy with uniform Republican opposition and a short amount of time.

In the spirit of bipartisanshipthingee, I’ll quote Fox News now on what happened next:


http://www.foxnews.com/politic…

Tues Aug 10

WASHINGTON — In a rare moment of bipartisanship Tuesday, the House approved $600 million to pay for more unmanned surveillance drones and about 1,500 more agents along the troubled Mexican border.

Getting tougher on border security is one of the few issues that both parties agree on in this highly charged election season. But lawmakers remain deeply divided over a more comprehensive approach to the illegal immigration problem, and it’s unclear if Congress will go beyond border-tightening efforts.

The House passed the bill by an unrecorded voice vote after brief debate.

In fact, although Pelosi was supposedly calling the House back into session during break to vote on a “jobs” bill, ( which went flying under the radar as some Senate amendment to a House Amendment to a Senate Amendment,)   the HR 6080 Emergency Supplemental for Border Security for Fiscal Year 2010 was the very first thing they debated and suspended the rules and passed by voice vote today, at 10:54 am EDT.  You can see the Clerk of the House’s record here, look up Aug 10, 2010, because there will be NO ROLL CALL VOTE RECORD of this.  http://clerk.house.gov/floorsu…

text of bill from THOMAS here:  http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…

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