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Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

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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Marco Rubio dazzled himself and the crowd at a Crabby Bills seafood restaurant in Tampa Tuesday when he unveiled his “new economic plan” for the country:

“Lunch is on me! You take credit cards here, right?”

OK, he didn’t really say that. But he did roll out a list of “23 Ideas” for what he calls “a clear alternative” to the “anti-growth, anti-job creating” policies coming out of Washington:

“We have reached a point in our history when we must decide if we are to continue on the free market, limited government path that has made us exceptional, or if we are prepared to follow the rest of the world down the road of government dependency,” he said.

Allow me to plug that into the “Tea-Bagger to English” translator:

We have reached Day 83 of a disaster where we are nearly drowning in a BP Gulf of “free market” oil, natural gas and UNNATURAL toxic dispersants largely because, previously we had eight years of an “exceptional and limited” President who DID give us a limited government, and a Vice President who dictated a no regulation energy policy for fun and profit (who ALSO endorsed Marco Rubio!). It made us “exceptional” all right. Most other countries, and those of us who can think for ourselves (but not Rubio) have acknowledged concepts like Global Warming and reality. To solve oil spills and other problems, are we going to continue to say things like “Drill, Baby, Drill?” If we keep voting in candidates like Rubio and his GOP ilk whose solution for every problem from an oil spill, to losing your home, health insurance, job and yes, your unemployment benefits is: “tax cuts for the rich,” are we prepared to bypass others on our way to becoming a third world country? (Rubio thinks we’d be dependent on OUR government?? Isn’t THAT adorable?)

Yes, Rubio is scrambling for ideas again all right. He bought into his own hype back when he was labeled and disguised as the new “Darling of the Tea Party” by the GOP.  He assumed this race would be easy. Then Charlie Crist switched parties. Rubio was finally ahead in the polls again last week. So naturally Crist went ahead and played the oil drilling ban special session card. Finding himself below Crist in the polls again, Rubio said “I’ll take your special session and I’ll raise you “23 Big, New Ideas!” The only problem is they are the same ideas he’s had all along. There’s nothing “big” or “new” about them. Rubio merely made some adjustments and tweaked a couple to make them oil spill friendly, while throwing a couple of bones to the “small people” as his oil buddies refer to them. Bones that will be largely overlooked beyond their comedic value.

The Tea Baggers/GOP often rile up their lemmings with the tired statement “we want to take our country back.” Well, Rubio wants to take the country back too, back to the days of the Bush Administration:

Many of the ideas mimic the tax and economic policies of most Republicans – from making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush permanent, to ending the inheritance tax, plus opposing any new energy tax or the creation of a value added tax.

For those who, like the largest percentage of the country, don’t have an income high enough to qualify for those tax cuts, have no inheritance or trust fund in their future, or they don’t own interest in an oil company, Rubio doesn’t want them to feel left out. He’ll throw a couple of bones their way too:

Other ideas, like creating a sales tax holiday for areas affected by the oil spill and offering affected property owners property tax relief, appear to be state issues, not federal ones.

A “sales tax holiday for areas affected by the oil spill.” Sort of like the one we have in Florida for hurricanes where we get a tax break on generators? This would be for things like what, oil booms? As for property tax, good luck with that. We have a hard enough time trying to get insurance claims for hurricanes here too. They require flood insurance, but after a storm, flooded or not they say it’s wind damage and vice versa. I doubt every homeowner in the affected states would get a tax break much less in Florida where we’re due to be surrounded by oily toxic waters.

Some other bones:

Idea #1: Make The Claims Process Simpler, (presuming BP will even pay them)

Idea #9: Stop Foreclosures For Those Affected (funny he would mention “foreclosures”, probably wishes he could have taken advantage of that one!)

Idea #10: Relax Onerous Fishing Bag Limits And Seasons (this is just another excuse to deregulate yet another industry disguised as protection for fishermen’s livelihood. Rubio’s reasoning overlooks the sad fact that at the rate the spill is going, all affected fish will be dead. Rubio would deregulate even a dead industry. He just can’t help himself!)

Back to the economy:

And then there’s “IDEA #8” under “Marco’s 12 Simple Ways To Grow Our Economy” Much like Florida Gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum and the rest of Rubio’s GOP obstructionist colleagues, Rubio wants to repeal and replace your health care. That won’t improve your economic situation much unless you have money to burn and an inheritance to count on, but Rubio is certainly proving he wants to grow the economy to favor insurance companies and big oil! That could also grow Rubio’s bottom line:

Rubio raised a record $4.5 million in the last three months, beating Gov. Charlie Crist’s $4.3 million fundraising quarter at the start of the race.

Unfortunately raising that kind of money doesn’t raise poll numbers and now Charlie Crist is leading Rubio by seven points. While Crist is busy flip-flopping his way up the charts and Rubio is taking ideas from Bush and Cheney, and taking marching orders from Jeb, that leaves an opening for Kendrick Meek who comes in below both of them in poll numbers. Meek could use the opportunity to keep reminding people that he’s been against oil drilling all along. Plus he recently joined forces with BPMakesMeSick.com to convince President Obama and the government to demand that BP allow oil clean up workers to wear protective gear. BP has so far blocked workers from doing so and threatened to fine and/or fire them if they do.

So Rubio claims he has new ideas and solutions and rolls them out as: “Marco’s 12 Simple Ways To Grow Our Economy”, and “Marco’s 11 Simple Ways To Help The Gulf Coast Economy Recover,” but as usual, all they are is this:

“Marco’s Simple Ideas, My Solutions For Everything: Tax Cuts!”

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When Joe Lieberman announced that he would not support any healthcare reform bill that includes a public option, it caused a great deal of outrage, and rightfully so. This past weekend he did so again, threatening to join Republicans and filibuster any bill with a public option, stating that he would not even allow the bill come to a final vote. Another reason for the anger was his wife Hadassah’s involvement in the insurance and pharmaceutical industry and lobbying efforts.

Today I read that Hadassah Lieberman is currently a “global ambassador” for the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure,” the organization that advocates some of the very things in a bill that Sen. Lieberman threatens to “kill.”

From Salon:

But whatever Hadassah actually does for Komen, the question that women might ask is whether she brings its important messages home to Joe. Has she explained, for instance, that thousands of uninsured and underinsured women die every year because so many don’t get timely preventive care or treatment for their cancers? Has she pointed out that healthcare reform is of special importance to women, cancer patients and cancer survivors? Did she tell him why her organization is demanding the same health insurance reforms — such as guaranteed provision of coverage and elimination of preexisting condition limitations — that his Republican allies are determined to prevent?

Or would she even bother to do so? She claims she’s an advocate for women’s health, and raises funds for the Komen “Global Promise Fund.” According to the Salon article, she also co-hosted a fundraiser at the Republican National Convention last summer. So what’s going on here exactly?

Lieberman “will not allow” any bill with a public option to even come to a vote, and threatens to filibuster with Republicans against such a bill, claiming that “stopping reform altogether would be better than passing a bill with a public option.”

Really Joe? This man has the gall to say that “doing nothing is better than a so-called public option. We ought to follow the doctors’ oath and say, “First let’s do no harm.”

Does this man have no idea what kind of harm comes from doing nothing? Has he no knowledge whatsoever about a little thing called “early detection?” Yes, he could consult Hadassah, (but I think that’s a moot point) or anyone else affiliated with the Komen organization.

Or, better yet, he could ask any breast cancer survivor. He could start with me.  I could give him a pretty good rundown on the harm that can come from doing nothing, and how lives can be saved when you’re lucky enough to have health insurance that allows you to see a doctor for preventive care before it’s too late, or to see a doctor period. Any time.

I could tell Joe early detection is a good thing. I could go into detail, but it’s a pretty logical conclusion: I had insurance, I went to the doctor, and discovered I had breast cancer early enough to do something about it. Women with cancer who can’t afford and don’t have health insurance and no access to doctors die. It’s that simple.

Maybe we should be asking Sen. Lieberman, Mrs. Lieberman, and the “Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure” why they have any connections at all? It seems to me like this is a bit of a conflict, when you have a foundation out there raising a lot of money for the very things Sen. Lieberman wants to block. How exactly does that work? Another question: How do Komen donors and volunteers feel about this? I can answer that one too. It infuriates me.

We’re supposed to sit and watch this healthcare debate start  all over again, knowing that Sen. Lieberman threatens to stop legislation in its tracks for purely political reasons. Because of “costs.” Or whatever reason Lieberman comes up with tomorrow, or the day after that. We’re supposed to pretend that it has nothing to do with the health insurance companies. Sure.

Now, Harry Reid is telling everyone to “Leave Lieberman alone, he’ll handle him.” Like he’s “handled” him before?

If Sen. Reid had “handled him” after he campaigned for John McCain and his careless choice for Vice President, the absolutely unqualified and ignorant Sarah Palin, putting the entire country in jeopardy just to keep the GOP in power, well, we wouldn’t be here, would we?

“Race for a cure?” You bet it is.

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Yet another bold move by the health insurance industry working against health care reform with a public option.

As if the recent report commissioned by the AHIP wasn’t bold enough, here is another blatant move.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina customers recently learned that their rates would be increased by 11% next year.

Following that news, some of those customers also received a flier with an enclosed preprinted, postage-paid note addressed to Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) to criticize what the company says is unfair competition imposed by a government backed insurance plan.

Customers are complaining (and rightfully so) that their premiums are funding the campaign against health care reform.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield flier reads:

“No matter what you call it, if the federal government intervenes in the private health insurance market, it’s a slippery slope to a single-payer system,” the BCBS flier read. “Who wants that?”

Who indeed?

The insurance company may have asked a a loaded question, as it started a flood of e-mails and phone calls of complaint over the fliers, and some customers have mailed them in, but they’ve crossed out the preprinted message and added their own messages in support of the public option.

And, since the postage is “generously” paid for by BCBS, one customer taped their postcard  to a brick.

 

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