Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Name:
Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gang of Six

Wyoming Senator, Mike Enzi is one of three Republicans, who is supposed to be negotiating health care reform as part of the Senate’s “Gang of Six.”

Enzi found himself under attack at a Wyoming town hall simply for sitting in the same room as the three Finance Committee Democrats. The crowd called for him to exit the talks. Enzi assured conservatives that his presence was delaying health care reform, and that he had no plans to compromise with Democrats and was merely trying to extract concessions. The three Republican negotiators are under intense pressure from GOP leadership to walk away from the discussions.
Senator Enzi said: “If I hadn’t been involved in this process as long as I have and to the depth as I have, you would already have national health care.”

Others at the town hall criticized Enzi for taking significant campaign cash from the health insurance industry, while opposing a public insurance option that would compete with private plans and take a bite out of their bottom line.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics about one-fifth of Enzi’s campaign contributions came from the health care sector. He received $423,000 from the health care industry, including pharmaceuticals, insurance companies and health professionals.

Alexander Hamilton said: “The people sir, are a great beast.” Our Founding Fathers were aristocrats, who insisted on a Senate, which is not unlike England’s House of Lords. The Senate consists of two Senators from each state regardless of the enormous population disparity between the states. Today, America faces a healthcare crisis, and several Senators from state with populations about the same as Staten Island are undermining the process.

New York State has 8,624,000 registered voters. Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi represents 265,000 voters, which is slightly more than Staten Island’s 201,794 registered voters. Washington D.C. has 426,767 registered voters, but they’re not allowed representation in the Senate. So much for the myth, of a representative democracy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Face of Reform

President Obama insists: “I will never forget my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final months, having to worry about whether her insurance would refuse to pay for her treatment.” Her insurance company had argued, that somehow she should have known that she had cancer when she took her new job, even though it hadn’t been diagnosed yet.

In the past three years, over 12 million Americans were discriminated against by insurance companies because of a preexisting condition. The insurance companies have been allowed to refuse a person coverage, and drop coverage, when the patient gets sick and needs it most. Presently, insurance companies can refused to cover a specific illness, charged higher premiums or out-of-pocket costs.

Democrats are proposing changes, that would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history. Reform won’t allow insurers to drop your coverage if you get sick. Health insurance will be there when it counts, because insurers won’t be able to water down your coverage when you need it. Reform, will make sure that insurance companies will no longer be able to place an arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. There will be a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses.

Insurance companies will be required to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies, because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be diagnosing diseases like breast cancer and prostate cancer early on. That stipulation alone will reduce healthcare costs, and save lives.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll finally have quality, affordable options. And, if you have health insurance, no insurance company or government bureaucrat will be allowed to limit the care that you need.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weapons at Protests

The Second Amendment is a shortened version of language found in the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. It stated: “That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

In 1776, guns were important to put fresh meat on the table, as well as, putting down a greatly feared slave rebellion in the South. Our founding fathers wanted: “a well-regulated militia” and a nation: “governed by, the civil power.”

James Madison had initially argued that the Second Amendment was unnecessary, because the federal government could never raise a standing army powerful enough to overcome a militia.

Our Founding Fathers couldn’t have envisioned the scope of the weapons of war, that our massive military possess, today. Weapons, that can be used for national defense or to annihilate a rebellion by a dissatisfied segments of the population.

The number of assassinations in our history is extraordinary: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy were murdered.  Attempts were made to kill: Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jerry Ford and Ronald Reagan.

There’s a real risk of assassination in this country, because the anger is out there, and some gun owners are making the situation more dangerous. First a man protesting outside Obama’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire had a gun strapped to his thigh. He carried a sign to a presidential event saying: “The tree of liberty has to be watered with the blood of tyrants.” A few days later a man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside Obama’s speech to veterans.

“Gun Owners of America,” consistently take extremist positions, even though Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who definitely isn’t a liberal, ruled government can regulate gun ownership. 
 
Obama was elected to lead this nation and his assassination would create a terrible backlash against gun ownership, because the large majority of American’s believe in settling our political differences with votes; not bullets.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lion Rests

Senator Teddy Kennedy passed away and the MoveOn movement lost a hero. His leadership, his vision, and his passion will never be forgotten.

As we grieve, we must honor his memory and re-dedicate ourselves to his fight. As Senator Kennedy said, “...the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Let’s re-commit ourselves to achieving the thing that mattered most to him: Quality, affordable health care for every single American.

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Senator Ted Kennedy was larger than life, and his passing has left an enormous hole in all of our hearts.

And while Teddy was without doubt the “greatest United States Senator of our time,” as President Obama said today, the powerful were not his passion. Teddy cared for the least among us.

He fought for the young. The old. The sick. The poor. People struggling with disabilities. Those denied the basic civil rights all Americans are entitled.

As the last living of four brothers, Teddy knew grief. Maybe that’s where his legendary compassion came from. If he were here, he’d know exactly what to do. He’d offer comforting words, a hand on the shoulder, a listening ear. His loss is our loss, indeed.

On behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Senator Kennedy’s family and countless friends. We’ve truly lost a shining light. - Senator Robert Menendez

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With the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, a family lost its patriarch, the U.S. Senate lost its most gifted legislator, and America lost an unparalleled leader.

Senator Ted Kennedy was elected in Massachusetts, but to millions of Americans he was our Senator. A tenacious fighter for working men and women who share the belief that America is the greatest country in the world. His passion and purpose were dedicated to righting wrongs and ensuring that our better days are ahead.

Senator Kennedy said that health care is the fight of his life. Today, we pick up the torch and recommit ourselves to health insurance reform.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, DCCC Chairman

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Noblest Values

This morning, I received the following letter.

“Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

“For nearly five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

“His ideas and ideals are stamped on scores of laws and reflected in millions of lives -- in seniors who know new dignity; in families that know new opportunity; in children who know education's promise; and in all who can pursue their dream in an America that is more equal and more just, including me.

“In the United States Senate, I can think of no one who engendered greater respect or affection from members of both sides of the aisle. His seriousness of purpose was perpetually matched by humility, warmth and good cheer. He battled passionately on the Senate floor for the causes that he held dear, and yet still maintained warm friendships across party lines. And that's one reason he became not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.

“I personally valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've benefited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

“His fight gave us the opportunity we were denied when his brothers John and Robert were taken from us: the blessing of time to say thank you and goodbye. The outpouring of love, gratitude and fond memories to which we've all borne witness is a testament to the way this singular figure in American history touched so many lives.

“For America, he was a defender of a dream. For his family, he was a guardian. Our hearts and prayers go out to them today -- to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

“Today, our country mourns. We say goodbye to a friend and a true leader who challenged us all to live out our noblest values. And we give thanks for his memory, which inspires us still.”

Sincerely,
President Barack Obama

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Calling All Dems

The projected revenue for UnitedHealthcare in 2009 is $87 billions. Therefore, it’s not surprising to learn, that Rush Limbaugh and his Congressional allies don’t want reform, because they need campaign contributions for Republican candidates. They want healthcare reform to fail, and they want Obama to fail.

Limbaugh and his Congressional allies are making wild accusations and misrepresenting the facts regarding healthcare reform at town hall meeting. Part of the Fox News-Republican strategy is to cause our government to fail, because then they can denounce the government for failing, and insist: “See, we told you the government can’t do anything.”

We need to win universal health care, because it’s the right thing to do and it’s finally within reach. We must insist, that every New York Democrat in Congress to do the right thing, and support real health care reform, with a public option. The Democratic members in both houses of Congress don’t a need a single Republican vote to get this done.

FDR passed Social Security with scarcely any Republican support. And today, politicians of both major parties don’t dare to challenge the basic idea that all elderly people deserve retirement security. The same will be true for healthcare, if the Democrats stand up to the distortions and scare tactics of Fox-Republicans naysayers.

In New York, we have a powerful Congressional Delegation. Senator Schumer and Representative Rangel are the best known, and overall the New York delegation is second only to California’s in power. That means our state can lead the way.

Every New York State Democratic Member of Congress must be urge to return to Washington D.C. and vote for a “public option,” in order to reduce the power of the private insurers. We need every Democrat to stand with the President Obama.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stall the Process

American’s have been fighting for years for a system where everyone is guaranteed quality, affordable healthcare when they need it. The election of Obama and a more progressive Congress, has the right wing of the Republican Party very worried.

The media reports that hecklers are defeating the public option. On the news, we’ve see people carrying loaded guns and an assault rifle to town hall meetings, while others repeatedly calling our first African-American President derogatory names. But healthcare reform is not in trouble because of a small group of conservative critics, who are using public forums to make civil discourse difficult.

The public option is not about to be defeated, because it has strong support from a large majority of the American people. Powerful members of the House have defended the public option and contradicted the critics who have equate insurance reform with Socialism or Nazi death panels.

In the Senate, the public option in danger, because a small group of Democrats are stalling the process and trading away the most important parts of reform in the name of “bipartisanship.” It’s time that those Senators recognize, that reform won’t wait and to either get behind the public option and real healthcare reform or get out of the way.

Most members of the House and the Senate support real reform, that includes a public option. Unfortunately, the process has been bogged down in the Senate Finance Committee, where a handful of Senators seem to have been corrupted by campaign contributions from the healthcare industry.

Charles Grassley, the Finance Committee’s ranking Republican, received more than $2 million from the health and insurance sectors since 2003, and Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has collected $3.5 million from the health and insurance sectors from 2003 to 2008.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Deficit-Neutral

President Obama told physicians at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting in Chicago, that the 10-year price tag for reforming America’s healthcare system is steep, but inaction will cost more.

The AMA has offered to do it’s part to curb costs by joining with hospitals, labor unions, insurers, medical device manufacturers and drug companies to do something that would’ve been unthinkable in the past. These groups have promised to work together to cut national health care spending by two trillion dollars over the next decade.

Obama’s vision of affordable healthcare for all Americans will come at a cost, but only in the short-run. Should we fail to reform our healthcare system in a way that genuinely reduces cost, trillions of dollars will be lost in economic growth and lower wages. Obama expects healthcare reform to be deficit-neutral over the next decade, and anticipates, that the price tag would be covered as follows:

Over the next 10 years, $635 billion will go toward the Health Reserve Fund that was included in the budget passed several months ago. More than half of the amount will come from revenue-raising efforts such as limiting the number of tax deductions our wealthiest Americans can take.

Changes and savings over 10 years would include:

$177 billion, by having a competitive bidding process in the Medical Advantage program.

$109 billion, by adjusting Medicare payment to reflect advances and productivity gains in the economy.

$75 billion, by more efficient purchasing of prescription drugs.

$30 billion, by introducing generic biologic drugs into the marketplace and asking well-off seniors to pay more.

$25 billion, by using Medicare reimbursements to help reduce preventable re-admissions.

$1 billion, by rooting out waste, abuse and fraud throughout the healthcare system.

Obama admitted: “I know people are cynical we can do this. I know there will be disagreements about how to proceed in the days ahead. But I also know that we cannot let this moment pass us by.”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Reform Now!

1. A recent national survey estimated that of the 12.6 million non-elderly adults, who tried to purchase health insurance were discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill.

2. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680. Americans are paying more for health insurance, but get less coverage.

3. Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are more likely to report fair or poor health than men. While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care.

4. Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, no insurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities.

5. Nearly 13 million of the uninsured are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held at 99%.

6. Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone.

7. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell. An estimated 87 million one of every three Americans under the age of 65 were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families.

8. Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. In the absence of reform health care reform it is projected that the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance will rise to about 72 million in 2040.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Myths About Reform

Myths about health insurance reform.

1. Reform will stop “rationing” - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a “government takeover” of health care or lead to “rationing.” To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being
used by insurance companies.

2. We can’t afford reform: It’s the status quo we can’t afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.

3. Reform would encourage euthanasia: It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.

4. Vets’ health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans’ access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President’s budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.

5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.

6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare “doughnut” hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.

7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.

8. Government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pass It On

Obama’s Senior Adviser, David Axelrod has requested, that I pass on the following information about healthcare reform. E-mails have been sent, but I’ll also be posting the information on this web site for the next 3 days.

“Across the country we are seeing vigorous debate about health insurance reform. Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back — even the viral emails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions.... Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what’s below.”

Security and stability for those with or without coverage.

1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.

2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.

4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.

5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.

6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.

7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.

8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dirty Dogs

A “New York Times” poll showed 72 percent of the American people want healthcare legislation with a public option. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by tying the public option to Medicare rates our government would save $75 billion. It’s incomprehensible that there would be any question about whether we end up with a public option. 

Presently, 60 million people, including many with insurance, do not have access to a doctor of their own, close to 20,000 Americans die every single year from preventable illnesses because they do not get to a doctor when they should.

Rural areas have a substantially higher percentage of residents on Medicaid than urban areas. Sixteen percent of residents in rural areas are on Medicaid compared to eleven percent in urban areas, resulting in millions in additional annual federal revenues to the state, particularly given the lower matching rate paid by rural states.

Blue Dog’s attempts to cut middle-class protections would hurt middle-class families in all states, because the Federal Poverty Level Based Income Limits guidelines do not take into account geographic differences in cost of living. The potential loss of those protections would be particularly severe for families in some parts of the country.

For example, a family earning $67,000 in Nashville, Tennessee would need to earn $86,000 to maintain the same standard of living in Alexandria, Virginia. Under the Blue Dog proposal, this middle-income family of four earning $67,000 would lose critical financial protections under H.R. 3200 no matter what state they live in. 

The demands made by the Blue Dog coalition to cut back subsidies would make health premiums unaffordable to millions of middle-class families, including in states represented by Blue Dogs. If the final bill out of the House doesn’t contain a public option, we must hold every Blue Dog responsible.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Apology

On February 16, 2009, an article in “The Daily Politics,” by Elizabeth Benjamin ended: “Murphy also said he plans to be a Blue Dog, just like Gillibrand when she represented the 20th, and has already applied for membership to the caucus.”

Yesterday, morning I attended a “street-corner chat” in front of the Meridale Deli and Grocery on county Route 10. Our Congressional Representative Scott Murphy met with a group of approximately 40 of his constituents for an hour to discuss their concerns.

I was surprised to learn that Rep. Murphy is not a Blue Dog and was in favor of the public option. Ironically, that very morning a letter I’d written appeared in the Oneonta Star. In that letter, I accused Rep. Murphy of being a Blue Dog. The letter was about Blue Dogs, who I don’t consider to be an asset to the Democratic Party. Murphy’s aide said, that it was a rumor, but that he wasn’t a Blue dog. Since, he had clearly stated that, he was in favor of a public option, I decided to apologized to him. I’d have considered the rumor to be malicious, but apparently, Rep. Murphy shares many of the same views as Blue Dogs.

The first person, Murphy called on was strongly opposed to the public option. His reasoning for opposing a public option was basically the same used by Ronald Reagan in his First Inaugural Address: .... “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” This man repeatedly praise healthcare insurance companies, and it was apparent, that he didn’t want healthcare reform. Most likely, he wasn’t in favor of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veteran’s Health Administration, either.

I was hoping some one would challenge him, but nobody did. So after my public apology to Rep. Murphy, I took the opportunity point out to those present, that the insurance companies were bribing our representatives in Congress to the tune of $1.4 million a day. I concluded my rebuttal of the “government is the problem,” argument, by disclosing, that Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Democrat Max Baucus had originally been in favor of a public option, but changed his mind, after accepting $3.5 million from the health care industry. That is nearly a quarter of every campaign dollar, Baucus has raise, since 2003. That money came from the very CEO’s, who are trying to derail healthcare reform. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Low Information Crowd

Democratic members of the Congress are amazed at the amount of misinformation that is being thrown at them in the town halls meetings. It’s not surprising, because the average executive for United Healthcare is making $8 million a year. Those insurance industry executives have directed their lobbying firms in Washington to go all out in peddling fear. They’re shamelessly trying to scare people with false claims such as: “They’re trying to kill grandma,” “Socialism” and “They’re taking over your health care system.” These are the same charlatans, that have been claiming Obama wasn’t born in the United States. They’re playing on people’s fears, because the facts are not on their side. They are professional con-men, who are scaring people, and it’s costing Democrats in the polls.

Although, Obama has clearly and repeatedly said, that we’re not going to take away your Medicare. The most recent NBC News poll show, that 49% of those over 65 years of age oppose healthcare reform, but only 38 percent of those under 65 years of age oppose reform. The low information crowd is unaware, that the Democratic leadership is working to increase the level of Medicare reimbursement rates, and keep prescription drug prices down, and allow Medicare to negotiate directly with the drug companies to bring prices down.

Democrats have been working, since the 1930’s to provide the American people with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But, some people are so gullible, that they’re ready to believe that Obama want to destroy any of those programs. Not unlike OJ Simpson’s jury, some people will believe what they want to believe by disregarding the facts.

Democratic members of Congress are holding town hall meetings, all over their states in order to correct the outrageous disinformation that is being disseminated. We’ll need to be patient and continue to fight back.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pulling the Plug

Democratic Senator Max Baucus is the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In a room, three Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have been negotiating with Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi and Olympia Snow regarding healthcare legislation.

When it comes to healthcare legislation, the integrity of both Senator Baucus and Senator Grassley is questionable, because Republican Grassley has received over $2 million from the drug and health insurance industry since 2003, and Democrat Baucus has received $1.5 million just in the last two years.

President Obama announce: “I think that there are some of my Republican friends on Capitol Hill who are sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Olympia Snowe from Maine.”

The next day, Grassley met with his constituents in Iowa and made the following comment on the issue of the so-called “death panels.” He said: “And from that standpoint, you have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life. You ought to have counseling 20 years before you’re going to die. And you ought to plan these things out. And you know, I don’t have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family. We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on Grandma.”

By this time, Grassley should be well versed in the House bills, and should be telling Iowa voters, that there is no provision, no wording, no sentence, nothing in any bill that provides for a government panel to end Granny’s life.

Obama might want to stop fostering the delusion that somehow we can all come together. Republican and Democratic members of Congress, who are in the pay of the health care, insurance, and drug industry are unlikely to come together to create a bill that reforms our broken system. It’s not going to happen.

If voters do not get a public option, Democrats had better be prepared to loose many seats in Congress in 2010. Rep. Scott Murphy could be one of the first to go and Obama might follow in 2014.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Top Five Lies

Lie #1: President Obama wants to euthanize your grandmother.

Accusations of “death panels” and forced euthanasia are untrue. Reform legislation includes a provision, supported by the AARP, to offer senior citizens access to a professional medical counselor who will provide them with information on preparing a living will and other issues facing older Americans.

Lie #2: Democrats are going to outlaw private insurance and force you into a government plan.

With reform, choices will increase, not decrease. Obama’s reform plans will create a health insurance exchange, a one-stop shopping marketplace for affordable, high-quality insurance options. Included in the exchange is the public health insurance option. This nationwide plan with a broad network of providers will operate alongside private insurance companies, injecting competition into the market to drive quality up and costs down. If you’re happy with your coverage and doctors, you can keep them. But the new public plan will expand choices to millions of businesses or individuals who choose to opt into it, including many who simply can’t afford health care now.

Lie #3: Obama wants to implement Soviet-style rationing.

Health care reform will expand access to high-quality health insurance, and give individuals, families, and businesses more choices for coverage. Presently, big corporations decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you get to see, and whether a particular procedure or medicine is covered. A big part of reform is to stop rationed care. Reform will do away with some of the most offensive aspects of rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage. Reform will increase insurance options, and not force anyone into a rationed situation. 

Lie #4: Obama is secretly plotting to cut senior citizens’ Medicare benefits.

Health care reform plans will not reduce Medicare benefits. Reform includes savings from Medicare that are unrelated to patient care. In fact, the savings comes from cutting billions of dollars in overpayments to insurance companies and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.

Lie #5: Obama’s health care plan will bankrupt America.

In fact, we need health care reform now in order to prevent spiraling costs that affect individuals, families, small businesses, and the American economy

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Inertia

Inertia is a powerful force and change is very difficult when you’re dealing with institutions like the insurance lobby and their subsidiary, the Republican Party. It’s easier to stand in the way of doing something than is to try to get something. The Republican leadership has determined, that if they can stop the Democrats, from getting anything done, it’ll help them. Republicans used that same strategy, when Democrats sought to provide Americans with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Most Americans want to solve the healthcare crises and ultimately, Democrats will be rewarded for their courage in attempting to solve the most serious issue of this generation. It’s a very difficult issue, which is being made much more difficult by Republicans and the conservative right, who literally stand in the way of reform and yell at the top of their lungs. 

We’re paying more taxes and running up higher deficits because of the high cost of health care. Our government spends twice as much on healthcare as other industrialized nations, but still has nearly 50 million people don’t have health insurance.

More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on our health care goes for paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, and profits. A single payer system would eliminate an unnecessary middleman, the insurance industry.

Having an intelligent debate benefits thoughtful Americans, who have questions, that they want answered. I’d like to see a single-payer system or Medicare extended to everyone, but as CNN’s Lou Dobbs points out, that in the past 30 years Medicare has been 35 percent more expensive than all of the other private programs combined per patient. Indeed, Medicare has been more expensive, because it treats elderly sick people and the greatest amounts of healthcare costs occur during the last two years of one’s life. A little reasoning goes a long way in dealing with partisan propagandists like Dobbs.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Historic Legislation

Historic legislation has been introduced in the House, that could finally lower health care costs, provide a public option, and offer greater choice and a higher quality of care for all Americans.

The status quo of skyrocketing health care expenses for America's families shows the true cost of doing nothing. If we fail to act, the cost of health care for the average family of four is projected to rise by $1,800 every year, and insurance companies will be making more health care decisions.

The America’s Affordable Health Choices Act: is a cause for hope, but also a reminder of the tough fight ahead. This legislation from the House of Representatives provides for:

Guaranteed Coverage: The days of being denied coverage because of a preexisting condition or being forced to pay higher premiums because of it would be over. Insurance companies will also be prohibited from other discriminatory practices like charging higher rates because of gender, health status, or other factors.

Greater Choice: If you like your doctor, your local hospital, or your current insurance plan, you can keep it under the House bill. It also sets up a health insurance exchange to act as a marketplace where individuals and small employers will be able to comparison shop among private and public insurers.

Lower Costs for Everyone: The House bill would lower health care costs for all Americans. It ends co-pays and deductibles for preventative care and puts an end to rate increases for preexisting conditions. It will give you access to the lower group rates from a national pool if you buy your own plan. It also includes a public option to compete with private insurers and caps annual out-of-pocket spending to prevent bankruptcy from medical expenses.

Higher Quality: The House bill makes sure that you and your doctor make health care decisions, not insurance companies. It provides new incentives, scholarships, and training to encourage the very best and brightest to become doctors and nurses.

Prevention and Wellness: The House bill also expands community health centers, strengthens wellness and prevention services, provides oral, hearing, and vision care for children, and ensures that mental health care is covered.

Despite this great step forward, the real fight for health care reform is still just getting started. Obama needs our help to fight the lies, attacks, and scare tactics being used right now by the Republicans and their special interest friends.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Paul J. Wenner

In published letters, Paul Wenner warned: “In countries with socialized medicine, there are long waiting lists for treatment, and the elderly and chronically ill or handicapped are lucky if they even get care....Treatment is based on a priority system in which age and ‘quality of life’ determine who gets which medical care and when they receive it.”

Those statements are best described as reprehensible fear mongering. Presently, insurance companies decide whether to give you coverage, what doctors you’ll get to see, and advise hospitals what procedures and drugs they’ll pay for. Typically, treatment is based on a priority system, which is controlled by established procedures at hospitals, and by the profit requirements of the healthcare industry. Let’s not forget, that in order to ensure their profits insurance companies deny coverage every day, which is a death penalty for about 1,265 younger Americans a month.

A big part of healthcare reform is to stop rationed care. Reform will do away with some of the most offensive aspects of rationing: discrimination for pre-existing conditions, insurers that cancel coverage when you get sick, gender discrimination, and lifetime and yearly limits on coverage.

Obama is concerned about the cost of a medical education, and wants to do more to reward medical students who choose a career as a primary care physicians and work in underserved areas instead of a more lucrative path. We should be making a substantial investment in the National Health Service Corps that will make medical training more affordable for primary care doctors and nurse practitioners so they aren’t drowning in debt when they enter the workforce.

Obama told the AMA, that we must make major investment in research to identify the best treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions. He wants to identify what works, and encourage rapid implementation of what works into practices. He’s not interested in dictating what kind of care should be provided, but wants to provide patients and doctors with the information they need to make the best medical decisions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Dilemma

A hardworking local businessmen told me, that the Republican Party had changed, and that it no longer embraces the values, which once made him proud. He admitted to always voting for Republican candidates, but insisted that if Obama succeeds in his efforts to reform healthcare, he’ll vote for the Democratic candidates in the next election. He even offered to allow me to come into the voting booth with him.

My dilemma is that many voters assume that our Democratic Congressman Scott Murphy strongly supports Obama’s agenda for change. Murphy is a “Blue Dog,” and they’ve obstructed Speaker Pelosi from making progress reforming healthcare. Many Blue Dogs are standing side by side with Republicans, at the healthcare industry’s feeding trough to ensure that Obama’s goal of healthcare reform fails.

Democratic Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas is the leader of the Blue Dogs. During his career, Ross took $921,000 from the healthcare sector. Blue Dog, Bart Gordon of Tennessee, who claims to be undecided on a public option has received $1,173,000 in donations from the healthcare sector.

Speaker Pelosi wanted a healthcare reform bill passed before going on vacation, but Blue Dogs took a path, which may enable Republicans to achieve their goal of killing Obama’s health care plan. Blue Dogs have succeeded in slowing Obama’s momentum and may have undermine his political capital.

The “Cash for Clunkers” program has become a very successful part of the Obama’s economic stimulus program. Rep. Murphy voted against an additional $2 billion for the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which had run out of funds. In fact, that $2 billion was transferred from an untapped stimulus program, so technically, no new taxpayer money was involved. Until, Murphy starts supporting Obama’s agenda and stops voting with the Republican minority, I’ll not be able to recommend that anyone vote for him.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Curtail or Eliminate

Two Democratic Representatives in Congress want to cut funds that the Appropriations Committee added beyond the Pentagon’s request. Rep. John Tierney of Mass. and Rush Holt of N.J. intend to offer an amendment that eliminates $80 million for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor missile defense program that was included in the Appropriations bill, because they consider the programs too expensive and ineffective.

The Kinetic Energy Interceptor is a missile defense program designed to get one missile to slam into another missile. The Pentagon killed the program because it was expensive, wasteful and unworkable, but right wing hawks included funding for the program in the defense budget anyway.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that eliminating the program, “…is one decision that I can’t take credit for. The Missile Agency itself last fall, during the Bush administration, essentially eliminated the kinetic energy interceptor from its [budget].”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, describing missile defense in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, added: “Decisions to curtail or eliminate a program were based solely on its relevance and on its execution.” (Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, June 9, 2009)

The case against the Kinetic Energy Interceptor continues to build:
• It was a 5-year program that is now in its 16th year.
• The missile’s size grew too large to be launched.
• The cost of the program has more than doubled.
• The flight tests have been substantially delayed.

Democratic Blue Dogs have failed to publicly oppose those Republican hawks, who have insist on funding the program, which the Pentagon wants killed because it was expensive, wasteful and unworkable.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Innovative Spirit

The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation, and that’s how we’ll rebuild our economy to be stronger than before. We must build an economy, that can compete globally and avoid the cycles of boom and bust that recently caused so much havoc. Our economy in the 21st century must become strong enough to bring prosperity for everybody, not just a few.   

Democrats passed a Recovery Act less than one month after Obama became President. There’s been a lot of misinformation circulating about the Recovery Act, which needs to be clarified. 

One-third of the money in the economic stimulus package has gone to tax relief for families and small businesses. The money is going for cutting taxes, because people are struggling to pay rising bills with shrinking wages. And there is also tax cuts for small businesses on the investments that they make. 

Another third of the money in the Recovery Act provided emergency relief to help those, who were laid off. Unemployment benefits were expanded, which has already made a difference for 12 million Americans. Health insurance is 65 percent cheaper for families relying on COBRA while looking for jobs.

Many states are attempting to deal with sever budget shortfalls, so the Obama administration provided assistance that saved tens of thousands of jobs for teachers, police officers and other public servants. 

The last third of the Recovery Act is dedicated to laying a foundation for growth and prosperity in the long run. The future of America depends on upgrading our roads and bridges; renovating schools and hospitals. The recovery makes a historic commitment to innovation. Jobs are being created to double America’s capacity to generate renewable energy, and build a new smart grid to carry electricity from coast to coast. The Recovery Act calls for laying down broadband lines; high-speed rail lines; and provides for the largest boost in basic research in history. This will ensure that America will lead in the breakthrough discoveries of this new century. We have begun turning ideas into inventions, and inventions into industries.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is a shortened version of language found in the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was primarily the work of George Mason. It states: “That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

In 1776, guns were important to put fresh meat on the table, as well as, putting down a greatly feared slave rebellion in the South. Our founding fathers wanted: “a well-regulated militia” and a nation: “governed by, the civil power.” They created our Constitution, which provides a blueprint for governing by a civil power, because they fear a military coup.

James Madison eventually became a leading advocate for the Bill of Rights, but initially argued that a federal Bill of Rights was unnecessary, by asserting that the federal government could never raise a standing army powerful enough to overcome a militia. Similarly, Noah Webster argued that an armed populace would have no trouble resisting the potential threat to liberty of a standing army.

Of course, they couldn’t have envisioned the scope of the weapons of war, that our massive military possess, today. Weapons of war, that can be used for national defense or annihilating a rebellion by a dissatisfied segments of the population.

Our Civil War was a populace revolution, instigated by very wealthy slave owners. It resulted in 618,000 Americans being killed. We best honor the authors of our Constitution and Bill of Rights by solving our disagreements at the ballot box instead of with bullets.

Today, we have extremist on the far left and right, who advocate violence as a solution to what they consider infringement of their Constitutional rights. Potentially, they’re foolish traitors, who have a very poor understanding of the intent and safeguards written into our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

AARP’s Position

AARP has asked me to forward these facts by passing them around at social gatherings and other places where people are discussing the issues of the day.

FACT #1: Medicare will not be ended, and no benefits or services will be cut. Your services will not be ended, nor will your benefits be cut. AARP’s position on this could not be clearer. And we have sent this message loud and clear to Congress. While the current proposals include savings in Medicare by cutting out fraud, abuse, waste, and inefficiency, we’re standing up and making sure benefits for Medicare recipients are not only fully protected, but are improved.

FACT #2: No legislation currently in Congress would mandate the rationing of care. Period. Our staff has read all of the legislation circulating in Congress and there are no provisions in these bills that would ration care for our members. None. If any ever did, we would vigorously fight to stop that legislation.

FACT #3: There is no provision of any piece of legislation that would promote euthanasia of any kind. The rumors out there are flat out lies. Right now Medicare does not cover counseling for end-of-life care. The portion of the bill in question would simply provide coverage for optional end-of-life consultations with doctors, so that the patient can be aware of all of the treatment options on the table. It is not mandatory and it has nothing to do with euthanasia.

FACT #4: We haven’t endorsed any plan. We are supporting reform of our health care system, something that AARP has pushed for many years. We’re working closely with Republican and Democratic members of Congress to lower health care costs and to ensure quality affordable coverage for older Americans and we want reform legislation passed and signed by the president this year.

AARP is fighting for:

1. Stopping insurance companies from charging older Americans unaffordable premiums because of their age.

2. Ending the practice of excluding people from insurance because of preexisting conditions.

3. Holding down health costs and making insurance coverage more affordable for all Americans.

4. Making prescription drugs more affordable by narrowing the Medicare doughnut hole, bringing generics to market faster, and allowing Medicare to negotiate better drug prices.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Frightening Lies

Five facts about the anti-reform mobs, who are intimidating lawmakers:

1. These disruptions are being funded and organized by out-of-district special-interest groups and insurance companies who fear that health insurance reform could help Americans, but hurt their bottom line. A group run by the same people, who made the “Swiftboat” ads against John Kerry is compiling a list of congressional events in August to disrupt. An insurance company coalition has stationed employees in 30 states to track where local lawmakers hold town-hall meetings.

2. People are scared, because they’re being fed frightening lies. These crowds are being riled up by anti-reform lies being spread by industry front groups that invent smears to tarnish the President’s plan and scare voters. But as Obama has repeatedly said, that if you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them, and there is no government takeover in any part of any plan supported by him or Congress.

3. Their actions are getting more extreme. Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil was hanged in effigy outside his district office. Rep. Tim Bishop of New York had to be escorted to his car by police after an angry few disrupted his town hall meeting. They have gone beyond just trying to derail Obama’s health insurance reform plans, they’re trying to break Obama and ruin his Presidency.

4. Their goal is to disrupt and shut down legitimate conversation. Protesters have routinely shouted down representatives trying to engage in constructive dialogue with voters, and done everything they can to intimidate and silence regular people who just want more information.

5. Republican leadership is irresponsibly cheering on the thuggish crowds. Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a statement applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Where were You?

Recently, the Oneonta Star published the following letter by Walter F. Wouk.

“The recent story, ‘Area TEA Parties’ attract 400,’ begs the question, where were these protesters during the eight years preceding the election of Barack Obama?

“Eric Trelease, who organized a TEA Party aboard a boat on Canadarago Lake, said, ‘We're fed up. We’re taxed enough already. And we’re tired of corrupt politicians.’ Apparently, Mr. Trelease and his ilk didn’t mind paying taxes to corrupt politicians when an incompetent, inexperienced, unqualified man-child named George Bush realized his dream of becoming a ‘war president’ and squandered American blood and treasure to wage his war on Iraq.

“For the record, the death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq reached 4,332 in June. An additional 80,000 Americans have been wounded or injured since the war in Iraq began. More than 300,000 of our troops have required medical treatment.

“Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz, co-authors of ‘The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict,’ concluded that the U.S. has already spent $1 trillion on operations and related defense spending, with more to come _ and it will cost perhaps $2 trillion more to repay the war debt, replenish military equipment and provide care and treatment for U.S. veterans back home.

“Many of the wounded will require indefinite period of care for brain and spinal injuries.

“Tim Schorer, a co-organizer of another local TEA Party, said, ‘It’s all about protecting our rights.’ I can’t help wondering why Mr. Schorer and his fellow TEA-Partiers weren’t concerned about ‘our rights’ when George Bush repeatedly trashed our Constitution.

“The question remains, where were these protesters during the eight years that radical right-wing Republicans ran the White House?”

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“Remember this well you people who plan for war. Remember this you patriots you fierce ones you spawners of hate you inventors of slogans. Remember this as you have never remembered anything else in your lives.” - Dalton Trumbo

Inflicting death and destruction on innocent people seems to be a priority for most Americans and the politicians they send to Washington. Spending the precious blood of our youth and our national treasury is of little importance to those phony patriots.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Misinformation and Fear

In a second letter published in the County Shopper, Bobbi Shanks wrote: “Obama wants socialized medicine.... would you prefer a Washington bureaucrat deciding your fate?”

If you’re like most Americans, there’s nothing more important to you about health care than peace of mind and given the status quo, that’s understandable. The current system often denies insurance due to preexisting conditions, charges steep out-of-pocket fees and sometimes isn’t there at all if you become seriously ill. Apparently, Bobbi Shanks isn’t concerned with insurance company bureaucrats, who have been deciding our fate, by dropping coverage of those, that have become seriously ill.

It’s time to fix our unsustainable insurance system and create a new foundation for health care security. That means guaranteeing your health care security and stability with eight basic consumer protections:

No discrimination for preexisting conditions
No exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles or co-pays
No cost-sharing for preventive care
No dropping of coverage if you become seriously ill
No gender discrimination
No annual or lifetime caps on coverage
Extended coverage for young adults
Guaranteed insurance renewal so long as premiums are paid
Learn more about these consumer protections at Whitehouse.gov.

Insurance companies are seeking to perpetuate the status quo, by spending 1.5 million a day, while Bobbi Shanks' letters provide misinformation and scare tactics. The cost of doing nothing is too high, because health care costs will double over the next decade, millions more will become uninsured, and state and local governments will go bankrupt.

Most Republicans, like don’t like publicly funded or administered health plans. But, we already have socialized healthcare with Medicare, the Veteran Administration system for veteran and the Department of Defense program for our military. Government administered health care works very well, because people like it and it lowers costs.

A healthy young man boasted: “I pay for my own health insurance.” I was tempted to ask if his grandparents were paying for their own health insurance and if they were drawing Social Security benefits.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mad Rush

In letters to the County Shopper and the Oneonta Daily Star, Bobbi Shanks asked: “Why this mad rush by the politicians into government health care.... Don’t we, the people, have the freedom of choice?

A choice was made last November and since then the official Republican strategy has been to engage in activities to slow down health care reform. The goals of the Republican Party is to destroy Obama’s presidency, regain political power and continue Bush-era policies.

Bobbie Shanks writes letters, while private insurers spend 1.4 million dollars a day. Both are trying to confuse the public. This Congressional recess is a critical time, because member of Congress needs to understands the cost of delaying healthcare reform. It’s been estimated, that while Congress is on vacation over 140,000 Americans will lose their health insurance coverage; 53,500 will file for bankruptcy because they couldn’t pay their medical bills; and 1,265 people died because they lack coverage.

Senator Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee passed a health care plan that would reduce spiraling health care costs, ensure quality, protect patients’ rights to choose their own doctors and greatly reduce the number of uninsured in our country. This was only the first step, because we face a long, drawn-out battle against the special interests that profit from our broken system. Every Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee voted for lasting change, and every Republican voted “No!”

Rep. Scott Murphy and his Blue Dog colleagues are seriously hindering the reform process. They’re not interested in “balancing the budget and ridding taxpayers of the burden the debt places on them.” Their “deep commitment to the financial stability and national security,” doesn’t allow for true efficiencies such as cutting the bloated Pentagon Budget or a single payer healthcare system.

A single payer system is the most effective and efficient way to provide healthcare for every American. Blue Dogs can't reduce the deficit, because they’re not pushing for a single payer system. A single payer system eliminates an unnecessary middleman, the insurance industry. Presently, more than 31 percent of every dollar spent on our health care goes for paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, and profits.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Fear and Lobbyists

Health care reform is the single most important thing, that we can do for America’s long-term fiscal health, but reform is not inevitable, because there is a fear of change. Many Americans fear, that they may lose what works about our health care system while we try to fix what doesn’t work. Another reason is that physicians, insurance companies, businesses, and workers can’t agree on the need for reform or what shape it should take.

The most significant reason, that we may not see effective and efficient health care reform is the fierce opposition fueled by some special interest groups and lobbyists, who used fear tactics to misrepresent efforts to achieve reform as an attempt to socialize medicine.

Democratic Senator Baucus, is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He is from a state that has only 630,633 registered voters. The “Billings Gazette” reported: “In the past six years, nearly one-fourth of every dime raised by the Montana Democrat and his political action committee has come from groups and individuals associated with drug companies, insurers, hospitals, medical supply firms, health service companies and other health professionals. These donations total about 3.4 million, or 1,500 dollars a day, every day, from January 2003 through 2008.”

Presently, the cost of health care is projected to reach $4.4 trillion by 2018. Greedy charlatans see a lot of room for corporate profiteering in the increasing cost of health care. Therefore, the health care industry has invested millions in Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee, which could turn out to be a very profitable investment.

Many Democrats believe, that Senator Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee are too corrupted by corporate health industry lobbyist donations to give America the health care policy it needs. Some predict, that any bill that comes out of the Senate Finance Committee will ensure trillions in profits for the health insurance industry, HMO’s and pharmaceutical industry.

Baucus has refused to allow advocates for a single payer national health policy to testify at his hearings.  Single payer, would result in improved Medicare for all, and is favored by more than 60% of Americans, as well as, majorities of doctors, nurses and economists.  It’s the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide health care to all Americans from cradle to grave.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Driving Force

Obama took office amid the worst recession in half a century. The average jobs loss per month was 700,000, and our financial system was on the verge of collapse. 

The Obama administration immediately took steps to stabilize our financial institutions and the housing market. They passed a Recovery Act that has already saved jobs and created new ones; delivered billions in tax relief to families and small businesses; and extended unemployment insurance and health insurance to those who had been laid off. The Recovery Act will continue to save and create more jobs over the next two years.

Before this economic crisis hit, our economy was creating considerable wealth for those at the very top, but wasn’t creating good paying jobs for the rest of America. Bush’s economy wasn’t ready to compete in the 21st century, because we weren’t investing in the clean energy technologies. Those technologies had created new jobs and industries in other countries, but we just watched. Our high school graduation rates lags behind other industrialized countries and we’ve been spending much more on health care, but aren’t any healthier. In order to rescue our economy from a full-blown crisis, Obama wants to rebuild it stronger than before, and health insurance reform is a central part of that effort.

Healthcare reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job. It’s about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive. It’s about the fact that the biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid. Unless, we control these costs, we won’t be able to control our deficit, and premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Blue Dogs

“Health Care for America Now” is the largest coalition working to enact a guarantee of quality, affordable health insurance for everyone in our country. Richard Kirsch, the National Campaign Manager for this coalition is very concerned that some Blue Dogs are advocating pulling affordability protections out from under millions of middle-income families, and cutting assistance to lower-income families. Furthermore, they want to prevent the public health insurance option from injecting competition into the highly-concentrated health insurance market. By doing so, they’d weaken the ability of the public health insurance option to provide an affordable alternative for individuals and small businesses.

Richard Kirsch points out, that as a result of those demands, costs will rise for families and businesses that purchase private and public health insurance in the Exchange and the health care bill will lose $75 billion in Congressional Budget Office scored savings.

Kirsch agrees with Blue Dogs and others in Congress on the need to figure out ways to achieve greater savings in the health care system. In fact, H.R. 3200 identifies approximately $500 billion in savings. However, the Health Care for America Now Coalition oppose approaches that merely shift costs on to middle-income families and the smallest of businesses rather than generate true efficiencies and higher value.

Health care reform is not a one-time event. Implementation will be key, and changes to the legislation that is ultimately passed will be necessary. But H.R. 3200 puts the infrastructure in place to do what needs to be done: fix a dysfunctional insurance market, extend assistance to those who need it, and provide the mechanisms to continuously work to lower the trajectory of health care costs. Crafting legislation is a process, which involves many steps, but requires that we continue moving through each one.

Congressmen Scott Murphy and Michael Arcuri are Blue Dogs. Their top priority is supposed to be “balancing the budget and ridding taxpayers of the burden the debt places on them.” Apparently, their “deep commitment to the financial stability and national security,” doesn’t allow for true efficiencies such as single payer healthcare or cutting the the bloated Pentagon Budget.