Archive for the ‘Health Insurance’ Category

In the wake of the ruling yesterday by Florida Judge Roger Vinson against the Affordable Care Act as “unconstitutional,” the Republican Party is absolutely beside itself with joy and cheering that the health care law is now all but defeated. Nothing to see here, move along. But as they happily bow at the feet of the health insurance companies and the lobbyists that they serve, let’s put some of this into the perspective of reality for a moment.

Yes, the ruling was troubling for those who were going to benefit from it with affordable health care that has eluded their grasp for so long. Yes, the ruling is just what the health insurance companies ordered over the recommendations of actual doctors, which is also the point. But is the Affordable Care Act really “over” as many are running victory laps are predicting? No, not necessarily. I will defer to those with more expertise on the many details of the ruling and the law like Ezra Klein does so well here.

But there’s one little thing I would like to point out here. After the ruling came out yesterday every Republican official in Florida was racing to be the first to declare the ACA a defeat and the true death panels, the health insurance companies and the Republicans who carry out their wishes, the clear winners. From our newly elected Gov. Rick “Who was Never Charged With Medicare Fraud” Scott, right down to every local Tea Bagger wannabe GOP involved in government in any way, they all rushed to crow about the ruling.

One in particular gave me pause. Newly elected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. In her news release declaring victory, she said this:

“Today’s ruling by Judge Vinson is an important victory for every person who believes in the freedoms granted to us by our Constitution,” said Attorney General Bondi. “This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional. In addition, the bipartisan effort from Attorneys General across the country shows the federal government that we will not back down from protecting the constitutional rights of our citizens.”

Really? This proves that the federal government requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is in fact unconstitutional.” Actually it “proves” no such thing. (Perhaps we should ask for proof of Bondi’s law degree.) What it “proves” is that one more Republican judge ruled against it. Two Democratic judges also upheld the ACA. Yet Bondi needs no more proof than this one ruling. She’s good! Thanks for playing!
That aside, it also shows that the The Family Research Council and the religious right found a judge who agrees with them so much that he used some of the very language in that ruling that they use. What a coincidence, huh?
Even beyond that, it appears that groups like The Family Research Council (also branded as a hate group by the SPLC, mind you) can have great influence on judges. Furthermore, it also appears that the religious right and The Tea Party and their corporate funders with big pockets also have “great influence”  in elections, thanks to that other court ruling: Citizens United.
Of course, there’s no “proof” of that, it just looks that way.  But hey, what do I know? I’m no Attorney General.

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While we listen in on the second day of the Republicans in the House making their arguments in the charade of “repealing” the health care reform law passed last year, it’s important to point out one more development in the lawsuit filed originally by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional. In his run for the Governor’s mansion McCollum ran largely on the promise of “protecting Floridians” from health care reform. Never mind the cost to taxpayers from that very lawsuit which threatened to take away reforms that were popular among Florida voters. 20 other states joined in the lawsuit, along with business interests with a stake in the fight. Of course, McCollum lost the election to someone even worse as far as health care laws are concerned, Rick Scott, formerly known from Columbia/HCA, of Medicare fraud fame. (Scott himself was never charged with a crime.)

Today we learned that six more states have joined the lawsuit challenging the health care legislation that Republicans claim they want to “repeal and replace.” Or as some have said, actually “repeal and forget.” That’s now a total of 26 states jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon: Iowa, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Maine.

Not exactly surprising, many state officials who joined the lawsuit may have pretty good reasons for doing so. Like their Republican colleagues in the House who, as I write are grandstanding in their effort for “repeal,” they are big beneficiaries of campaign contributions from, wait for it….the health care industry!

From The Center For Public Integrity:

The state officials who joined together to file a lawsuit challenging federal health care reform have collectively received at least $5 million in campaign contributions from the health industry over the course of their political careers, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

Using data compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the Center found that top recipients of industry money include Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has received more than $1 million from health care professionals since 1996, and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who took in at least $970,163 from the industry starting in 1992, when he was a state senator, until he left the governor’s office this week. Other major recipients involved in the lawsuit include former Pennsylvania Attorney General and newly-elected Governor Tom Corbett, who has received about $830,000, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, with more than $770,000.

The money has flowed from a variety of interests ranging from hospitals and drug companies to health care insurers and doctors. Many oppose the mandate in the new law requiring Americans to buy health care coverage.

Florida Attorney General, Republican Pam Bondi has now continued with the lawsuit, saying she is taking up the fight “in the interests of families.” As those six states joined the lawsuit, Bondi said “It sends a strong message that more than half of the states consider the health care law unconstitutional and are willing to fight it in court. “I look forward to continuing to defend Florida’s families and businesses against this unconstitutional law and upholding the Constitution.”

In the interest of families? Bondi has also received campaign contributions from the health care industry:

Pam Bondi, who succeeded McCollum as attorney general and will take up his cause in the lawsuit, received about $75,000 from the industry, some $64,000 of which came from health professionals. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece this month, she said “our lawsuit, together with a similar lawsuit filed by Virginia’s attorney general, has exposed the health-care law’s threat to individual liberty and to the constitutional structure that the Founders designed as a means of protecting that liberty.”

As far the claim that the law is unconstitutional? Not necessarily according to The Center For American Progress, who issued a statement Tuesday signed by more than 125 legal scholars saying the law is constitutional.

As the Republicans in the House pull their “repeal Obamacare” stunt in front of the cameras for political gain, it’s pretty clear they’re acting on behalf of the health insurance companies they meet with behind closed doors who help them craft their arguments. Just like their colleagues in the House, state officials who have joined Bondi’s lawsuit have their own agendas as well.

Agendas so far to the tune of $5 million.

h/t Progress Florida

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Here are just a couple of things you’ll see and hear very little about in the mainstream media about President Obama’s health care reform law:

On the ruling yesterday that PART of the health care reform bill is unconstitutional:

Henry E. Hudson, the federal judge in Virginia who just ruled health care reform unconstitutional, owns between $15,000 and $50,000 in a GOP political consulting firm that worked against health care reform.

Most of the reports I’ve read and heard on this are neglecting to mention Judge Henry E. Hudson’s ties to the GOP.

Then there’s this, which surprisingly many people are still unaware of:

Clients lobbying on H.R.3200

Just an FYI for those who actually believe that lawmakers have only the best interests of their constituents at heart.

As hard as it is to believe, there are those who actually do.

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If you’re one of the voters who cheered on Republicans who ran on repealing health care reform and you shouted from the rooftop of your voting booth: “BY ALL MEANS. PLEASE TAKE AWAY HEALTH CARE REFORM BENEFITS BEFORE THEY ARE FORCED DOWN MY THROAT!,” then this bit of news may surprise you:

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”.

“Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap,” added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

If the hypocrisy of this article gave you whiplash when you had to do a double take upon reading it, and you don’t have health insurance, I do apologize.

Woe the problematic “28 day delay” of socialized medicine.

Naturally, I can only assume that newly elected and soon to be sworn in GOP Florida Senator Marco Rubio will not only refrain from similar complaints, but will undoubtably refuse his own government health care benefits when they kick in. After all, health care reform was, and is a big no-no, which Rubio vowed to stop at all costs:

I’m sure Rubio won’t mind “doing without” along with the rest of us?

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Two more endorsements came out today for Florida Attorney General.

GOP-Tea Party candidate Pam Bondi got her anti-health care lawsuit endorsement from National Federation of Independent Business, a plaintiff in that lawsuit.

Democrat Dan Gelber, on the other hand, got an endorsement from the Florida Nurses Association.

From The Tampa Tribune:

The candidates for Attorney General have both won endorsements because of their stances on the state’s challenge to the federal health care reform.

Republican Attorney General nominee Pam Bondi’s pledge to continue the challenge has won her the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“Floridians do not want and cannot afford this unconstitutional federal health care law, which I believe is the most expansive entitlement program ever created,” Bondi said.

The NFIB is a plaintiff in the lawsuit currently being heard in Pensacola.

Gelber’s support for the healthcare legislation that went into effect last week won him support from the Florida Nurses Association.

“Dan Gelber has been a long time advocate for Florida families and our members know we can count on him to fight the rampant Medicaid fraud in Florida that is costing taxpayers billions and limiting access to quality medical care for our most vulnerable citizens,” FNA President Andrea Gregg said.

Gelber has called the healthcare lawsuit frivolous and has predicted the federal government would prevail.

“Our nurses see on a daily basis how accessibility to quality medical care can make a world of difference in a person’s life, and I look forward to working with them to fight Medicaid fraud so that we can reduce costs to taxpayers and provide more Floridians with the care they need,” Gelber said.

What does that tell you?

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In the Bill McCollum ongoing lawsuit to keep Florida and the country “protected” from the benefits of health care reform, there have been a couple of new developments. Yesterday it was reported that along with the 20 states that have joined his “fight” a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit was also added on Friday in an amended complaint by McCollum.

The new co-plaintiff? The National Federation Of Independent Business.

McCollum has been accused of “gasp” filing this lawsuit for political gain. No kidding. The question is what voters would be happy about this lawsuit and vote for him because of it? Maybe the answer is a little clearer now. Perhaps small business owners?

Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising if McCollum was aiming for contributions too, thanks to the new SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United, which allows corporations to give unlimited donations to campaigns as if they were people. So one wouldn’t be surprised to read this probably:

McCollum said he is hoping for a September hearing on a U.S. Justice Department motion to dismiss, and expects the case to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court by 2012.

Gosh, I wonder what would happen then?

Speaking of the SCOTUS ruling, if you go to the National Federation Of Independent Business, you’ll find this page about their “political involvement:”

NFIB Political Involvement

NFIB "Grassroots" Mobilization

But getting back to those small business voters, why, what do we see here? A page from the NFIB website listing “member benefits” for small businesses joining the NFIB. Oh my! Look at all the health care benefits they provide for their members:

NFIB Member Health Benefits

Listed benefits for Florida members:

NFIB Health Plans Florida

So to recap: the National Federation Of Independent Business joins McCollum’s lawsuit to take away YOUR health care benefits while offering loads of health care benefits to their members. NFIB also has loads of opportunities to get in on their “political involvement” and “grassroots” campaigns against health care reforms and issues and any candidates who support them. All information is available and organized in a handy little package of webpages just for you!

Benefits, schmenefits!

Message from small business members to their employees: “Health care for me, but not for thee” perhaps?

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Now so is McCollum.

Not only is Attorney General Bill McCollum’s lawsuit against the new health care reform law hurting Floridian’s who will have to foot the bill, AND potentially lose their health care benefits in the process, but it looks like it will cost him as well.

The latest poll shows that his opponent for Governor, Alex Sink is gaining on him. The Quinnipiac University Poll shows McCollum up by only four points, and that’s not all:

By a margin of 54 to 40 percent, voters surveyed by Quinnipiac said it was a “bad idea” for McCollum to join 13 other states in filing suit against the federal health care plan. But voters mostly disapprove of the health plan itself, by a margin of 48-44 percent.

Imagine that.

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