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Flower Power Has Given Way to Mob Power March 24, 2010

Posted by Bill in barack obama, Current Events, health care reform, Obama, Politics, Right wing, Uncategorized.
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I love living in Texas for many reasons– if nothing else it’s always good for a laugh– but after listening to the furor that has arisen since the passage of the Health Plan, it’s enough to make me long to live in a place where the sun hasn’t scalded everyone’s brain. It can be dangerous, however, to make generalizations based on where people live, and it is becoming ever apparent that Texans are not the only ones in need of an icepack on their heads.

Seriously, folks, when did it become okay for one member of Congress to yell “Baby Killer” at another member of Congress on the floor of the House, as the GOP Congressman from Texas, Randy Neugebauer shouted at Bart Stupak? When did it become okay for crowds to scream the N-word at minority members of Congress? When did it become okay for another member of Congress, Representative Joe Wilson, to shout, “You lie!” to the President of the United States while he was making a speech to a joint session of Congress? When did it become okay for people to go on Twitter and call for the assassination of our president?

I have to wonder what is truly behind this increasing rancor. We’ve had political disagreements in this country before, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen anything like this. Certainly there were plenty of ticked off people when Dubya was president, but it never rose to this level of discord. Probably the closest thing we have had to this were the war protests of the late sixties and seventies– if we’d had Internet then, we might have gotten out of Viet Nam much sooner than we did.

Much of this must be attributed to the instantaneousness of the Internet– and the anonymity. You can hide behind a fake identity, set up Facebook and Twitter accounts and whip people into all kinds of a frenzy without anybody ever knowing who you actually are. Not only that, but you don’t even have to tell the truth because it’s real hard to sue for libel or slander for things that are said on that vast frontier of lawlessness that is the Internet. Do you really think that the whackos who claim Obama isn’t a US citizen would ever have gotten a foothold if they couldn’t send their lies to everyone with a working email address?

And there are people who have a vested interest in maintaining this frenzy– the Fox Talk Show hosts wouldn’t have near the ratings they do now if they came on the air and told everyone, “Hey, Obama is really a good guy and even though we don’t agree with him on everything, we know he wants what is best for this country.” If Sarah Palin got up and told everybody the truth about issues such as the so-called Obama death squads, she wouldn’t have her lucrative new contract with Fox TV as well as crowds of people urging her to “Run Sarah run!”.

And let’s face it, these guys have a ready audience because the conservatives out there are just plain mad. They’ve been mad for a long time. In fact, I think they might have been born mad. They were mad when Clinton was elected, and they got madder when Obama was elected. They are so mad that they have forgotten that other people  have a right to think differently and vote differently than they, which is what the Liberals did in the last election because they were mad as well. The trouble is, Liberals just don’t get mad as effectively as Conservatives.

What we’ve got is a mob– a large group of crazies who are feeding on each other and getting whipped into a frenzy by savvy manipulators who are out for their own personal gain. As Deep Throat once said,  “Follow the money.”

There is plenty of room for honest disagreement in this country, but when did disagreement get to the point where we can’t even listen to each other? Where we can’t accept that other people have different views that may be as valid as their own? Okay, we get that you don’t like the Health Plan. We get that you are afraid that it is leading to socialism or that you think people should not be required to buy health care or that you think people should take care of themselves and not expect a handout from the government. We disagree, but does that mean it is okay for you to stand up and yell “N—–!” at one of us?

Whether you like it or not, the Health Plan has passed, and as the Liberals who hate the Faith Based Initiative and the Iraq War have learned, it’s real hard to stuff the crickets back in the jar after it’s been opened. (Those conservatives who have been trying to get rid of the Education Department certainly ought to know that!) I suggest that those of you who are opposed to the Health Plan come to the table to discuss what comes next in a rationale manner rather than throwing colossal temper tantrums and acting like two-year-olds. It’s here. Now you need to figure out how to deal with it.


Keep Stupak’s Dirty Politican Hands Out of My Uterus December 2, 2009

Posted by Bill in abortion, Family Values, health, health care reform, Politics, Religious Right, Right wing.
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There are people in this country for whom there is only one issue that matters- abortion. To these people, everything is seen in light of abortion and it colors their view of every other thing that happens. Now these groups are threatening to derail Health Care Reform by using the proposed Stupak Amendment to accomplish what they have been unable to do through legislation and the courts, restrict the access of women in this country to safe, legal abortions.

The Stupak Amendment will actually take away coverage that millions of women already have. Not only does it forbid any coverage for abortion in the public option, it prohibits anyone receiving a federal subsidy from purchasing a health insurance plan that includes abortion. Now you may think that this only affects those who receive the federal subsidy, however the Stupak Amendment  also prohibits private health insurance plans from offering through the exchange a plan that includes abortion coverage to both subsidized and unsubsidized individuals. About 87% of private insurance plans now include abortion coverage. If they plan to participate in the Health Care Exchange proposed by the bill, they will have to drop that coverage.

Stupak supporters whine that they don’t want their tax money to go to support abortions. Folks, my tax money goes every day to support things I don’t approve of. For years my tax money has gone to fighting a completely unjustified war in Iraq. My tax money went to the government bail outs. It currently is going to support dozens of faith-based organizations. When we complete our income taxes every year the IRS doesn’t include a checklist so we can go down the list and pick the uses to which our tax dollars can be put. As citizens of the US, our tax money goes to support whatever Congress wants to spend it on. The anti-abortion wing nuts cannot accept that the majority of people in this country do not agree with them on the abortion issue, so like children who pack up their little toys and go home when they don’t get their way, they are trying to undercut health care reform by threatening to pack up their votes and go home if they don’t get their way about abortion.

It’s a note of irony that one of the reasons Americans give for opposing health care legislation is they don’t want the government to have control over their medical care. Yet, by allowing the Stupak amendment to pass, they will be giving control of their medical care over to United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who care more about fetuses than they do about living, breathing human beings. They don’t want the government making decisions about their medical care, but they are willing to let Bart Stupak make those decisions.

Let Obama and Congress know that you do not want health care reform to come at the cost of the rights you already have. Oppose the Stupak Amendment.

Who Should Make the Decisions About Your Health Care October 16, 2009

Posted by Bill in health, health care reform, Politics, Uncategorized.
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One argument health care opponents often make is “I don’t want the government making decisions about my health care.”

Well, that’s certainly understandable. Nobody wants the government making personal decisions about what drugs should be prescribed for a particular patient or what type of treatment is best for a particular person.

Of course, to be consistent, then these opponents should also refuse to accept any kind of medical insurance AT ALL, because insurance companies are the ones who are making these decisions now. How do you think insurance companies come up with all that nonsense about first tier, second tier and third tier drugs? It certainly isn’t done out of any kind of consideration for the effectiveness of one drug over another. Those decisions are made based on which pharmaceutical company is crawling into bed with that particular insurance company.

And of course, the insurance companies are the ones deciding now what kind of treatment is best for the patients. They do so based not on any particular knowledge of the patient but on what actuarial studies tell them about the cost benefit analysis of one treatment over another.

Now call me radical, but I don’t want some insurance company executive deciding what kind of treatment my doctor should prescribe. I don’t want someone’s decision about my medical care to be based on how it affects the insurance company’s bottom line. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– follow the money. The insurance companies are the ones who stand to lose a great deal from a single provider system, and THESE people are the ones the health care opponents wanting making decisions about their health care.

Duh: Universal Health Care Means LESS Paperwork October 14, 2009

Posted by Bill in health, health care reform, Politics.
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I spent an inordinate amount of time this week dealing with insurance paperwork for my daughter. My 25-year-old daughter has a serious, chronic illness. She moved home about two years ago to go back to school and to focus on her recovery after going into a tailspin when she went off her maintenance meds because she could not afford them even on her insurance plan. To someone who makes minimum wage, a third-tier drug, as the insurance companies like to call it, is next to impossible to afford.

I’ve been carrying her on my medical insurance since she moved home but when she turned 25 this summer, I had to move her to another insurance company, and so the paperwork begins. This week I had to provide a certificate of prior coverage, a list of all the doctors who have treated her in the past year, a statement that she has no other coverage, a signed affidavit that she is a member of the required group for this particular insurance coverage and a consent to release information from the doctor to the insurance company.

Now it shouldn’t take much in the way of brains to figure out that under universal health coverage, four of those five required forms would not be necessary. A universal provider would not need a certificate of prior coverage because… well, think about it folks. Under universal coverage we wouldn’t need to get a new insurance provider to begin with. A universal provider would not need a list of all the doctors who treated her in the past year because it would already have that information. It wouldn’t need a statement that she has no other coverage because why would a universal provider care? And it certainly wouldn’t need a signed affidavit that she is a member of the covered group because, hello– it’s universal coverage. Get it? Now a universal provider MIGHT need a consent form to release information from the doctor to the insurance company, but since she’s seen her current doctors for several years, the provider would already have this paperwork on file and wouldn’t need a new form.

Sometimes I wonder if the health care opponents actually THINK about what they are saying. Physicians for a National Health Program (PNP) found that administration consumes 31.0 percent of U.S. health spending, double the proportion of Canada (16.7 percent). Average overhead among private U.S. insurers was 11.7 percent, compared with 1.3 percent for Canada’s single-payer system and 3.6 percent for Medicare. Their study appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and the results are published on their website.

Consider how much paperwork is involved in maintaining health insurance– and how much paperwork is involved in convincing the insurance company to pay for various procedures and treatment.  Data from the National Health Accounts collected by the Organization for Economic Co–Operation and Development (OECD) show that insurance administrative costs are significantly higher in the United States than in other countries.

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Feedback  © 2009 RAND Corporation. All rights reserved. 		 	 Percentage of National Health Expenditures Spent on Health Administration and Insurance, by Country, 2006

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Feedback © 2009 RAND Corporation. All rights reserved. Percentage of National Health Expenditures Spent on Health Administration and Insurance, by Country, 2006

Okay, so we’ve established that Universal Health Care will actually CUT paperwork costs. Hercule Poirot often used to advise Hastings to “Cherchez la femme!” when determining whodunnit. I suggest health care opponents “cherchez la money.” Who stands to lose the most from universal health care? The insurance companies, folks. Why do you think they are pouring huge amounts of money into lobbying against it? The five largest private insurers and the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans spent a total of $6.4 million lobbying elected officials in Congress in the first quarter of this year, an increase of more than $1 million from the same quarter last year.

So a shout out to health care opponents: How does it feel knowing you are playing right into the hands of the insurance lobbies? There may be legitimate reasons to oppose health care reform and/or universal health insurance folks. But claiming that it will INCREASE paperwork is not one of them.

People Really Are Dying in the US October 12, 2009

Posted by Bill in Current Events, health, health care reform.
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There are a lot of people in this country who are opposed to health care reform. They don’t believe it is something the government should be paying for. There can certainly be honest disagreement about what government should and should not pay for.

Personally,  I think it is a crime that in this country, which is one of the richest countries on earth, there are people dying because they cannot afford health care. Our government has plenty of money to bomb the hell out of countries that pose no threat to us. It has plenty of money to provide bail outs to fat cat corporations so they can pay million dollar bonuses. It has plenty of money to pay no bid contracts to Dick Cheney’s ex-employer. But it is willing to let children die because their parents cannot afford to pay for their medical care. I have a problem with that.

Many health care opponents claim that people are not dying in this country due to an inability to pay for health care, however, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. Here are links to some studies showing how people in the US are dying because they cannot afford health care.

Report by Families USA showing that 1 in 3 Americans is uninsured.

Report from Institute of Medicine

The main findings are that working-age Americans without health insurance have a 25% greater chance of dying and are more likely to:

  • Receive too little medical care and receive it too late;
  • Be sicker and die sooner;
  • Receive poorer care when they are in the hospital even for acute situations like a motor vehicle crash.

A 2009 report from the same organization shows:

For adults without health insurance, the evidence shows:

  • Men and women are much less likely to receive clinical preventive services that have the potential to reduce unnecessary morbidity and premature death.
  • Chronically ill adults delay or forgo visits with physicians and clinically effective therapies, including prescription medications.
  • Adults are more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage cancers that are detectable by screening or by contact with a clinician who can assess worrisome symptoms.
  • Adults are more likely to die from trauma or other serious acute conditions, such as heart attacks or strokes.
  • Adults with cancer, cardiovascular disease (including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure), stroke, respiratory failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma exacerbation, hip fracture, seizures, and serious injury are more likely to suffer poorer health outcomes, greater limitations in quality of life, and premature death.
  • The evidence also demonstrates that when adults acquire health insurance, many of the negative health effects of uninsurance are mitigated.

Report from the Urban Institute estimating that 137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006.

A report from Families USA showing that uninsured children are more likely to die when seeking treatment compared to insured children receiving treatment for the same conditions.

Some people are not real comfortable with facts. They prefer anecdotes. So here are some anecdotes that illustrate the problem:

From Frontline

In 1994, Nikki White, a Bristol, Tenn., native with dreams of becoming a doctor, was diagnosed with lupus, a serious but treatable autoimmune disorder. Too ill to work, she lost her health insurance for several years, but then received coverage from the state’s Medicaid program. Soon, budget cuts made her ineligible for the state program. A few months later, White was rushed to the ER with severe lupus complications and racked up nearly $1 million in medical bills. She finally secured insurance under the government HIPPA law, but her condition was too advanced, and in 2006, at the age of 32, she died.

From USA Today:

Scott’s son [Devante Johnson] already had advanced cancer of the kidneys in April 2006 when his Medicaid coverage was cut off.

Scott, who has multiple sclerosis, had qualified for Social Security disability payments that boosted her income above the Medicaid level. She fought for four months before her son’s coverage was resumed.

During that time, Devante was switched from chemotherapy to free clinical trials, and his health deteriorated. By the time his insurance was restored, she says, it was too late to help him.

“I’m unsure if they could have done more for him,” she says. If he had not lost coverage for four months, she says, “he wouldn’t have suffered the way he did.”

and from the same story:

[Alyce] Driver’s son, who lived in Prince George’s County, Maryland, had Medicaid insurance. But she had trouble finding dentists who were willing to accept Medicaid’s reimbursement rate. An abscessed tooth led to a bacterial infection in his brain, and he died Feb. 25.

If you go to this site you’ll find all kinds of ANECDOTAL evidence:

Clearly, those who claim that nobody dies in this country for lack of health insurance are wrong. Those who oppose health insurance are comfortable with that fact. I am not. That is why I support health care reform.