Archive for the ‘health care’ tag
Rather than, you know, do anything constructive in Washington, health care reform repeal-obsessed Republicans in the House yet again — for the 33rd time today … 33 times! — symbolically voted to repeal Obamacare.
The Washington Post has compiled a handy list of the other 32 meaningless, wastes of time, effort and public dollars. If you are keeping tabs, that means we are paying Republicans members of the House $174,000 per year to effectively do nothing. It’s funny how the Tea Party crowd and Republicans harp on fiscal responsibility, when, by wasting time on these useless votes, House Republicans are basically robbing the government’s coffers. That’s a pretty large, hypocritical disgrace.
Here’s the list of previous votes:
1.) Jan. 19, 2011: The Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act: A measure to repeal the health law in its entirety. (Measure passed 245 to 184, according to The Washington Post Congressional Votes Database.)
2.) Feb. 19, 2011: The Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011: The House passed the spending measure, which included amendments that would curtail the reach and funding of the health law.Votes 3 through 11 in the GOP vote tally were on amendments that stripped away specific funding for parts of the law. (See the vote count.)
12.) March 3, 2011: The Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act: This measure repealed Form 1099 reporting requirements that were added to help finance the health law. (See the vote count.)
13.) April 13, 2011: A vote to repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund: The fund is administered by the secretary of health and human services for various public health services. Republicans argue the “slush fund” would be used to fund jungle gyms, bike paths, and some lobbying activities. (See the vote count.)
14.) April 14, 2011: The Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011: The measure repealed the free choice voucher program and reduced funding for the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan. It also barred increasing Internal Revenue Service funding to hire additional agents to enforce the health law’s individual mandate. (See the vote count.)
15.) April 14, 2011: The House directed the Senate to hold votes on defunding all mandatory and discretionary spending established by the law. (See the vote count)
16.) April 15, 2011: Fiscal 2012 Federal Budget: This spending proposal repealed and defunded the health-care law. (See the vote count.)
17.) May 3, 2011:H.R 1213: This measure repealed mandatory funding provided to state governments to establish health benefits exchanges. (See the vote count.)
18.) May 4, 2011:H.R 1214: The measure repealed mandatory funding to build “school-based health centers.”(See vote count)
19.) May 24, 2011: H.R. 1216: The measure converted $230 million in mandatory spending for graduate medical education programs to discretionary spending. The conversion would have allowed teaching health centers to receive funding through the regular appropriations process and with congressional oversight. (See the vote count.)
20.) Aug. 1, 2011: The Budget Control Act of 2011: President Obama signed this bill, which curtailed some funding for the health law. (See the vote count.)
21.) Oct. 13, 2011: The Protect Life Act: This bill prevented barred money from the health law to be used to pay for abortion procedures or abortion coverage. (See the vote count)
22.) Nov. 16, 2011: The bill required that certain benefits be included in the calculation of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) for purposes of determining eligibility for certain programs established by the law. (See the vote count.)
23.) Dec. 13, 2011: The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011: This bill offset the cost of extending the payroll tax reduction, unemployment insurance, and the “doc fix” by cutting funding to the public prevention fund, among other provisions. (See the vote count)
24.) Dec. 16, 2011: The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012:This measure rescinded $400 million from the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan and $10 million in funds for the Independent Patient Advisory Board (IPAB). It also cut IRS’s enforcement budget and tightened restrictions on using federal CDC grant money for lobbying purposes. (See the vote count)
25.) Feb. 1, 2012: The Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011: This bill repealed the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a long-term care program established by the law. (See the vote count)
26.) Feb. 17, 2012: The Conference Report to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012: The bill cut a total of $11.6 billion from the law. (See the vote count)
27.) March 22, 2012: The Protecting Access to Healthcare Act (PATH): The measure repealed the IPAB and reformed medical liability insurance, which Republicans argued would save money for the Medicare program.(See the vote count)
28.) March 29, 2012: The Fiscal 2013 Federal Budget: This spending proposal also repealed and defunded the health law. (See the vote count)
29.) April 27, 2012: The Interest Rate Reduction Act: This measure froze federally-subsidized student loan rates at 3.4 percent for another year by repealing the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the law. (See the vote count)
30.) May 10, 2012: The Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012:The bill replaced across-the-board cuts in defense and non-defense discretionary spending by, among other things, cutting funding for elements of the health law. (See the vote count)
31.) June 7, 2012: The Health Care Cost Reduction Act of 2012:This measure repealed the medical device tax, one of the law’s key funding mechanisms, and limitations on reimbursements for certain over-the-counter medications. (See the vote count)
32.) June 29, 2012: As part of a bill establishing federal transportation funding and freezing federally-subsidized student loan rates for another year, the House also voted to save $670 million by recalculating the amount of money Louisiana gets from Medicaid. — House has voted 32 times to repeal all or part of health-care reform law
Romney’s basic plan for health care: give tax breaks to people so they can purchase their own individual plans and try to entice businesses away from offering coverage to their employees.
That’s a plan? First, most people, including myself, would not be able to afford health insurance without getting it through an employer. This is the only way we can actually afford it. That had better be one massive individual tax incentive because as Stephen Andrew points out, of the people who won’t be turned down for coverage because of some underlying medical condition, most of them cannot afford the going rate for insurance in any case, especially given what they already have to pay in mortgages, car payments, eating expenses, utility bills, etc. And insurance for people with some kind of condition would be financially out of reach in this scenario. This prospect scares the shit out of Andrew, and I would have to concur.
In Andrew’s words:
This has been the goal for many corporate conservatives for a long time. Divorce healthcare from employers, throw you out there on your own, save money for the stockholders. Romney and others seem to think that can be done by offering a fat tax cut on your gads of disposable income, so that you can offset the cost of an individual policy.
What planet are these jokers living on? Putting aside the idea that a tax cut doesn’t do almost half the population a lick of good, there are no affordable health insurance policies for a fifty year-old guy like me available on the private market. None, nada, zilch. Check for yourself, go out and get a quote on an individual policy for a fifty year-old with minor preexisting conditions and an autoimmune disease with similar deducts, Rx, and copays. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here for you freedom loving libertarians to find and link a plan with a major or at least half-ass reputable company comparable to the employer based one I have now with CIGNA. …
The rest of you already know the math don’t you? Now try it for someone in their 40s who’s had breast cancer, or 58 years old with diabetes, or a young 22-year-old with a congenital heart defect. Those policies either do not exist or they are exorbitantly priced. Few people in the 99% will be to afford one, for themselves let alone their family, with or without a Tax Cut. If this is Romney’s plan, it is a fucking death sentence for millions of Americans, it will certainly cost is way more money at best, probably come with increased suffering and debt for individual and government eventually, and that all probably includes me.
Insurance, of course, isn’t the only concern: after one renders a hefty sum to Caesar for insurance, there is also potential medical bills, high drug costs and doctor visits, all of which are still egregiously high after insurance pays its share. The health care wormhole runs deep in this nation, I’m afraid, and it will only go deeper under GOP leadership.
Thanks to Think Progress for the article. And here is the list of GOP politicians who once supported an individual mandate provision in health care reform. I think listing every single one of them is important.
Frmr. Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) | Frmr. Rep. Newt Gingrich (GA) | Frmr. Gov. Tim Pawlenty | Frmr. Sen. Bob Bennett (UT) | Frmr. Sen. Chris Bond (MO) | Frmr. Sen. William Cohen (ME) | Frmr. Sen. John Danforth (MO) | Frmr. Sen. Bob Dole (KS) | Frmr. Sen. Pete Domenici (NM) | Frmr. Sen. David Durenberger (MN) | Frmr. Sen. Duncan Faircloth (NC) | Frmr. Sen. Slade Gorton (WA) | Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA) | Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT) | Frmr. Sen. Mark Hatfield (OR) | Frmr. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (KS) | Sen. Dick Richard Lugar (IN) | Frmr. Sen. Alan Simpson (WY) | Frmr. Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) | Frmr. Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) | Frmr. Sen. John Warner (VA) | Frmr. Sen. Hank Brown (CO) | Frmr. Sen. Conrad Burns (MT) | Sen. Dan Coats (IN) | Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) | Frmr. Sen. Paul Coverdell (GA) | Frmr. Sen. Larry Craig (ID) | Frmr. Sen. Judd Gregg (NH) | Frmr. Sen. Jesse Helms (NC) | Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) | Frmr. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (ID) | Frmr. Sen. Trent Lott (MS) | Rep. Connie Mack (FL) | Frmr. Sen. Frank Murkowski (AK) | Frmr. Sen. Bob Smith (NH) | Frmr. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) | Frmr. Sen. Malcolm Wallop (WY) | Frmr. Sen. Don Nickles (OK) | Rep. Cliff Stearns (FL) | Frmr. Rep. Jim (LA) | Frmr. Vice President Dan Quayle (IN) | Sen. John McCain (AZ) | Sen. Scott Scott Brown (MA) | Frmr. Gov. Tommy Thompson (WI) | Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) | Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) | Sen. Mike Crapo (ID) | Frmr. President George H.W. Bush | Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) | Frmr. Sen. John Chafee (RI) | Sen. Jim DeMint (SC)
And here is a handy video that exposes the contradictions:
This article, ”The Obama administration’s abortion rule,” suffers from only one minor problem: it is woefully fraught with error. Its writers claim, and without presenting a stitch of evidence, that emergency contraceptive drugs Ella and Plan B cause abortions. Only on Christian or religiously-slanted websites will you find such a myth. Here is another article that, again, without citing any references whatsoever, makes the same claim in a rather ironic “myth” versus “fact” article:
3) Myth: Ella does not cause an abortion because it does not interrupt an established, implanted pregnancy.
Fact: Ella can cause the demise of an embryo that is already implanted in its mother’s womb, in addition to preventing implantation after fertilization. Ella also appears to have a powerful ovulatory blocking capability.
But according to the FDA,
The safety and efficacy of ella were demonstrated in two Phase III clinical trials. One study was a prospective, multi-center, open-label, single-arm trial conducted in the United States; the other was a randomized, multi-center, single-blind comparator-controlled trial conducted in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland.
The FDA states clearly that women who are already known to or may be pregnant should not take the drug.
And according to Princeton University’s Office of Population Research:
No, using emergency contraceptive pills (also called “morning after pills” or “day after pills”) prevents pregnancy after sex. It does not cause an abortion. (In fact, because emergency contraception helps women avoid getting pregnant when they are not ready or able to have children, it can reduce the need for abortion.)
Yet, the writers of the Baptist Press article claim, ridiculously, that these pills cause abortion. It may be possible that the fetus would be harmed if a woman takes the drug while pregnant, but as just mentioned, the FDA explicitly warns against such behavior. The pills are meant to be take before the pregnancy occurs. Nowhere except in apologist literature will you find credible sources that maintain that these drugs can cause major damage to the woman at all, much less abortions.
The Baptist Press also reads as if the health care plan requires women to take these drugs. No. It simply provides the contraceptives free of charge, and federal funds can not be used for abortions, except in cases of incest or rape.
This smacks of the time-tested, hypocritical Republican way: push for big government on certain issues (religious protections, immigration and gun protection laws) and argue for limited government on others (abortion, gay rights and women’s rights). Silly and contemptible but mostly contemptible.
The failure of the deficit reduction panel this week proves that we have few, if any, true leaders in Washington. The obvious bulging expenditure in the national budget is the military, but apparently that is the sacred cow, so no matter how far the national debt sinks, and the economy, that is untouchable.
Rosanne Altshuler an economist with Rutgers University and a former member of George W. Bush’s tax reform panel, seems to have said it best:
There could be a bit of a silver lining. It forces us to come to terms with cuts in areas that have been difficult to touch — the military and Medicare. We may not like how the cuts are going to be done, but we better start dealing with the fact that cuts are going to have to be made.
That’s the kind of honest assessments that we need if the nation is going to balance the budget any time soon. Some departments that do not contribute to human well-being (Not education or health care, for example) should be cut.
Once again, a technician helps a deaf person hear the sound of her own voice (and others) for the first time:
Apologies for not having posted in three weeks. Work has been crazy, and while I’ve had some free time to do some reading as of late, I haven’t had as much time to write — or at least not as much time or mental energy to write anything other than what I do for the newspaper.
I’ve also resurrected one of my former hobbies: building maps for the game Counter Strike: Source with a client called Hammer. Needless to say, like all of my other hobbies, it’s a rather time consuming enterprise. But on to the review.
The 199 page count on “Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society” by John A. Andrew III is a touch deceptive. Most of the nonfiction works that I read are in the 300-500 page range, but given the content and presentation, they can usually be digested with relative ease. But this book, though fairly short, is anything but a quick read. What it is, is a tightly packed and illuminating look at the political issues surrounding Johnson’s policies in the late 1960s, the social problems and challenges at the time and the ramifications of the various Great Society programs.
So, let me get this straight: leaders in Washington are essentially quibbling about $5 billion — Republicans have proposed $39 billion in cuts, while the Democrats came back with $34 billion — when we are one day from a government shutdown? This is the basic impasse? Stunning.
What’s more, Tea Party officials, known for their anti-spending rhetoric, actually voted against a bill that would have at least kept the government running for another week, citing incoherent reasons.
Here’s the brilliant Michelle Bachmann:
I had previously pledged to reject any [budget bill] which does not defund that (health care reform) spending. Unfortunately, today’s [bill] does nothing to defund ObamaCare and that is why I voted ‘no’.
Why would the budget bill defund that spending? The health care bill already passed, and has little to do with current negotiations. So far as I know, for health care funding to be removed from current budget considerations, Congress would have to go back and repeal the already passed law and that repeal would then have to go back to the president’s desk for a signature, which we all know, would be a futile exercise since health care reform was one of Obama’s main domestic goals.
Further, we know from past studies that a government shutdown will cost money. A lot of it. The shutdown of the early-1990s cost an estimated $245 million to $607 million, and the one in the mid-90s cost about $1.4 billion. Thus, the advocates of a shutdown, in their notions about reining in spending and their near-hysterical attempts to do anything in their power to thwart the Obama and the Dems’ policies, would essentially bring more, not less, financial burden to the American people. Stunning again.
Important news in court today in Virginia, as a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit claiming the newly passed health care reform bill was unconstitutional in requiring companies to purchase insurance for their employees. According to the above-linked Reuters story:
U.S. District Judge Norman Moon ruled that the law requiring individuals to buy health insurance coverage as well as requiring employers to buy coverage for their employees was legal under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Moon found that without the coverage requirements in the law, the cost of health insurance would increase because the number of insured individuals would decline, “precisely the harms that Congress sought to address with the Act’s regulatory measures.”
Further, interstate commerce would be hurt by large employers failing to offer adequate healthcare coverage, thus “the employer coverage provision is a lawful exercise of Congress‘ Commerce Clause power,” said Moon, who was appointed by then-Democratic President Bill Clinton.
The suit was filed by Lynchburg, Va.-based Liberty University and a group of individuals. Liberty was founded by conservative Christian Jerry Falwell, and apparently his college heirs apparent are continuing the tradition of attempting to do away with every measure put on the table that may make lives of the lesser among us better in preference to policies that help quite inhuman companies and their owners. Such policies are, it seems, diametrically opposed to Christian doctrines, at least as I read them, but let’s not let that get in the way propping up more wealthier interests and, in turn, stamping down the poor in continuing to build up the empire that Falwell built and the empires that folks like Dobson, Warren and others are still building. For anyone not familiar with those two “empires” of Warren and Dobson, research their enclaves in California and Colorado, respectively, and find out for yourself. Sprawling campuses of power and wealth that, if sold for charity, could feed many thousands, if not millions, of mouths. But feeding mouths, feeding the 5,000 seems to not be the ultimate purpose anymore, and making life on this planet better isn’t the ultimate goal either (For what good is food for the hungry if the hungry don’t know God?), and therein lies the heart-wrenching tragedy that tears at me and co-thinkers on a daily basis.
I have often contended that, in studying politics, one must only follow the money to discover the motivations of such and such politician in proposing such and such bill.
Exhibit A: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) this week proposed a bill, swiftly refuted by Democrats, that George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich be continued indefinitely.
According to this New York Times story, McConnell recently had this to say on the floor of the Senate: “Democrats spent the last two years putting government in charge of health care, the financial sector, car companies, insurance companies, student loans — you name it. Now they want the tax hike to pay for it all.”
Put it like that and you might say Democrats have ushered in a new era of socialism, but alas, so go the usual sad and tired refrains.
But let’s have a look at where McConnell’s own interests lie and then draw some conclusions of our own.
OpenSecrets.org reports that McConnell’s top contributors between 2005-2010 have been Kindred Healthcare ($108,200), UBS AG (A global financial services company at $98,450), Elliott Management (An investment company, $88,500), Peabody Energy ($73,600) and Citigroup ($66,100).
Since McConnell’s largest contributor is part of the health care industry, it makes sense that his first nod in the above quote is, indeed, to the government taking a larger role in health care. He’s wrong, of course, since the government isn’t being put “in charge of health care,” but helping people pay for their health care by private providers with public money. This, as it happens, already occurs, and has for years, through programs like Medicaid and Social Security. Thus, conservative angst against the health care bill breaks against itself. We already use public money to provide free health care to certain members of our populace. Why not everyone? McConnell drives a hard case against finding a way to make sure every person in this nation is taken care of.
The one pleasant surprise on the issue of letting the tax cuts for the rich expire is the case of House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio. I have been quite critical of him in the past. But I have to commend the man in this instance for at least saying he would vote for President Obama’s plan to extend the cuts only for households earning less than $250,000 if he had no other choice, even if it was, to some degree, forced.
Winning a war by attrition is better than ceding the war altogether in some cases. So, even if Boehner isn’t necessarily interested in helping working class folks, at least he seems to have given a nod to such an idea, although his associations with wealthy interests speaks for itself.