...or we will surely lose in 2010 (and 2012). They’re “real people” [via TPM]:
Question them at your own peril. Suicide “jokes” directed at cancer victims are totally painless. Stop making fun of the birthers/teabaggers/wingnuts. Chiding the uppity children of successful African Americans is where it’s at, you naive and stupid Obots. Joe the Plumbers are everywhere and everyone loves them. Get with the program or get under the bus.
Not yet. I say this despite a lot of consternation in the blogosphere today over the NY Times piece titled “Health Policy is Carved out at a Table for 6”, which details negotiations going on by six members of the Senate Finance Committee.
The fate of the health care overhaul largely rests on the shoulders of six senators who since June 17 have gathered — often twice a day, and for many hours at a stretch — in a conference room with burnt sienna walls, in the office of the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana.
The senators involved are Democrats Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and Jeff Bingaman and Republicans Micheal Enzi, Charles Grassley and Olympia Snowe. And, according to the Times, they have already tossed out the public plan and the surtax on high income taxpayers to help pay for it.
OK, very interesting but “the fate of health care overhaul”? Blue dog dems and Republicans are now dictating the direction of health care reform? First of all, there are about two dozen total members of the committee who will have to vote on any package before it leaves the committee. Then it will have to be reconciled with the HELP Committee version. Then get voted on by the full Senate. Then get reconciled with the House version.
I prefer to stay optimistic along with Paul Krugman. But I also think it would be a good thing to continue to make your views known to your duly elected representatives. Here’s a link to a petition being circulated by Senators Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy and Chuck Schumer affirming support for the public option. (h/t allan) Dropping a line directly to your own Senator can’t hurt either.
With about 36 hours to organize and no paid staff (unlike the other side), we dominated in front of Sen. Cornyn’s office today (July 23rd); about 200 conservatives opposing maybe 20 MoveOn people; it was fantastic! Everyone was polite; we always are. As for the other side, if you were outnumbered 10 to 1 by believers in the 2nd Amendment, wouldn’t you be? :) . Channel 5 was there, along with other press; they’ll try to slant things more evenly, but it will be hard to do.
Many thanks for the great work of Que Colman and Jim Bright to make this happen, plus Ken Emmanual for the callout of the troops from the Dallas Tea Party. Others too numerous to mention to thank for their efforts, so THANK YOU ALL for giving us this public victory over government HealthUNCare.
WISE — Universal health care coverage compressed into a county fairgrounds is staging its 10th anniversary this weekend in Wise County.
The 10th annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition opened to an army of people seeking free medical, dental and eye care services at the Wise County Fairgrounds on Friday. Gates open at 6 a.m. through Sunday to serve the health needs of thousands of people.
“We had given out 1,600 numbers by 5 a.m. this morning, more than ever before because this year we were able to expand the capacity of our dental services areas,” said Health Wagon Executive Director Teresa Gardner. “That was our daily limit for dental and eye care, but we’re still taking medical (only) patients as they come to the gate, and they’re still coming.”
“Ten years ago we probably weren’t as big as what you see today. But in recent years it just keeps growing. Indications are this year’s event will be as big as last year, and possibly even bigger,” said Knoxville-based RAM founder Stan Brock. Last year nearly 5,800 patient encounters served up more than $1.9 million worth of health services.
I found Obama’s health care presentation so impressive — so much command of the issues — that it had me worried. If I really like a politicians’ speech, isn’t that an indication that he lacks the popular touch? (A couple of points off for “incentivize” — what ever happened to “encourage”? — but never mind.)
Seriously, it’s really good to see how much he gets it.
As you can imagine, this will probably drive the tiny tribe of sneering anti-Obama Hillary Kucinich supporters, who won’t stop relitigating the primaries, 100% batshit crazy. Day = made. Good morning, sun.
MORE: Make sure you check out Krugman’s well-placed smackdown of Howie Fineman in the update. Ouch. So very shrill.
He never detailed his own plan, or named a single victim of America’s broken system, and he spoke largely in the abstractions of blue pills, red pills, and legislative processes.
Jesus God, did we watch the same press conference? Obama didn’t provide details like a prescription formulary and dependent beneficiary criteria—because the plan is still being hashed out! And what about this?
So let me be clear: This isn’t about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every Member of Congress. This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings. This is about the woman in Colorado who paid $700 a month to her insurance company only to find out that they wouldn’t pay a dime for her cancer treatment – who had to use up her retirement funds to save her own life. This is about the middle-class college graduate from Maryland whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs, and woke up from emergency surgery with $10,000 in debt.
Those sound like examples of specific victims of the broken system to me. Does Smith want Social Security numbers and addresses? Maybe. But what he and the rest of the press corp really seem to crave is performance art. They don’t give a shit about policy. They want carrier landings and flight suits. God help us.
Speaking on behalf of the GOP Health Care Solutions Group, Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt outlines the general vision of their health care proposal:
Note how at about 1:33 it goes blank but continues to run for the entire 4:07? Hmmmmm. What can this mean?
Spend a little time exploring the Health Care Solutions page and you will not find any illumination there either.
UPDATE: Sam Stein at HuffPo has gotten hold of a private RNC talking points memo on health care reform proposals: in short, stall, stall, stall. They feel by slowing health care reform down to a crawl they can eventually make it go away. So the Republicans not only don’t have any credible plan of their own to offer, but their real, underlying goal is just to derail the whole process and undermine the Obama administration. Thanks, guys!
UPDATE 2:John Amato has up a recording of President Obama’s conference call with liberal bloggers on health care reform this afternoon.
Why, oh why, does something so important have to be left in the hands of professional politicians? Here’s what we need:
Serious cost control.
Coverage for as many people as possible with subsidies if necessary.
Restrictions on insurance companies so they can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or any other excuse they can think of.
Restrictions on insurance companies so they can’t jack rates sky high for the above insureds making coverage essentially out of reach.
Did I say serious cost control?
Does anyone out there think this WON’T cost money? As Jonathon Cohn puts it:
They [cost control and revenue raising measures] are necessary, first, for the sake of policy. A reform that invests substantially less than $1 trillion will provide far less assistance to people—or guarantee them far less coverage. Either way, it will leave not millions but tens of millions of Americans without access to health care. Similarly, without some the serious cost control measures, health care will just keep getting more expensive—imposing increasingly unsustainable burdens on individuals, and our society.
But the rationale for making these moves goes beyond policy. There’s a political rationale too. If Democrats don’t make the difficult decisions on raising revenue and controlling costs, then the reform they pass won’t do much to help middle class Americans. If the subsidies in a reform bill go down, it’s middle class people—that is, people making between three and four times the poverty line—who would suddenly lose all assistance. And, without financial assistance, they’d be even more vulnerable to rising costs. (Kaiser Health News had a good article about this problem last month.)
But faced with the reality of raising taxes to fund health care reform the Dems are quivering like aspen leaves in a strong wind. (Now don’t get me wrong. I am not anxious in any way to pay more taxes. One proposal being floated is to tax employer provided health care benefits. I would not be thrilled to see that happen. But I recognize that it’s not really fair for me to get to pay for coverage with before tax dollars while people paying for individual plans are using after tax dollars. So if that’s what it’s going to take I’m willing to accept it. )
And make no mistake, the Republicans smell blood here and are rubbing their hands together at the opportunity to make political gains from a failed plan. From GOP Senator Jim DeMint::
And on the other side of it, if we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him. And we will show that we can – along with the American people – begin to push those freedom solutions that work in every area of our society.
No question about it. The Republicans don’t see this as an issue of how best to solve the health care crisis that is crushing businesses, driving people into bankruptcy, denying people necessary care and leaving parents sleepless at night about what would happen to them and their families if they had a health care emergency. They see it as a chance to get back into power. Pure and simple.*
Obama at least has shown that he’s not going to let statements like DeMint’s go unchallenged. In a quick comeback today:
OBAMA: Just the other day, one Republican Senator said, and I’m quoting him now, “if we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.” Think about that. This isn’t about me. This isn’t about politics. It is about a health care system that is breaking American families, breaking America’s businesses and breaking America’s economy.
More of that please! It’s time to call out the Republicans on their BS on this issue. They have not offered any workable solution of their own. This is the same horse manure they threw around during the budget dispute coming up with ludicrous Venn diagrams to nowhere. But thanks to DeMint’s comments, they’re not even trying to hide their real agenda anymore.
*With the exception, at least, of Olympia Snowe who does seem to have a clue as to what’s at stake.
This is so stupid it deserves to be enshrined in the Stupid Hall of Fame in its own stupid little glass case with a stupid brass plaque explaining its significance in the annals of stupidity:
The big screen [Mark Steyn]
One of President Obama’s arguments for “reforming” health care is that “preventive” care - more tests, more screening - will help control costs. Really? A propos cancer, Professor H Gilbert Welch of Dartmouth Medical School notes:
For starters, the majority of folks who are screened receive no benefit. That’s because, despite scary statistics, most people will not get cancer. Let’s look at breast cancer as an example.
According to government statistics, the absolute risk of a 60-year-old woman dying from breast cancer in the next 10 years is 9 in 1,000. If regular mammograms reduce this risk by one-third-a widely cited but by no means universally accepted claim-her odds fall to 6 in 1,000. Therefore, for every 1,000 women screened, three of them avoid death from breast cancer, six die regardless, and the rest? They can’t possibly benefit because they weren’t going to die from the disease in the first place.
The short version is this: CBO estimates that by 2019 the bill will cover 21 million people at a cost of $597 billion. But—and this is important—the HELP Committee’s bill doesn’t include the Medicaid expansion, because Medicaid is under the sole jurisdiction of the Finance Committee. But if Medicaid is expanded to 150 percent, it will cover an additional 20 million at a cost of about $1 trillion. Add in the savings that Finance is expected to get from reforming Medicare and you’re looking at a bill that will cost $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion and cover 42 million people (which would mean 97 percent of the legal population in 2019 would have health insurance) by 2019.
The proposal is able to control costs by imposing an employer mandate - $750 fine per full-time employee per year if you don’t provide health insurance coverage. For part-time employees the cost is $375. (Companies with fewer than 50 employees would be exempt from this.) The bill also provides a public plan option, expands Medicaid, provides subsidies for families making too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance and prevents insurance companies from disqualifying people with pre-existing conditions or from charging widely disparate rates to people based on age or health history. And I did not see a provision for taxing employer paid health benefits as had been speculated previously. Finally the bill provides many incentives for increasing preventive care and improving the quality of health care provided.
A couple of weeks ago the Congressional Budget Office scored the cost of the bill and came up with figures that indicated it would be much more expensive and cover a lot fewer people (causing certain Repub senators to go ballistic). It has been clarified now that they scored an incomplete version and the new cost estimates are much more accurate.
This bill and the companion bill from the Finance Committee are close enough to the House version that reconciliation shouldn’t be a painful procedure. The key, of course, is to get it passed by the Senate. Here’s where we come in again. Call, e-mail, fax, Tweet or just shout it out to your Senators that they need to step up to the plate and support this very realistic and badly needed legislation! Folks are dying for lack of health care. And many who are not dying are living lives of reduced quality because of lack of access to care and/or medications. Mr. Reid, that is a cause that is well worth flexing your muscles for.