Monday, August 31, 2009

Healthcare Security

Perhaps we liberals/progressives should be framing the debate in terms of Healthcare Security. There seem be a lot of people out there who are expressing callous indifference to the uninsured. After all they've got their's and everyone else be damned. But are they sure they're secure? Do they have security with regard to healthcare? Of course not!

If these people want to be afraid of something and obviously they do, then why not the specter of losing their coverage?

I know personally that I have health coverage, in fact it seems to be pretty good so far as my family and I have made use of it, which isn't extensively. But do I have security, do I feel secure in that coverage? Hell no!

With premiums going up 15% to 25% per YEAR my employer may decide/be forced to discontinue coverage.
The insurance company selected by my employer may decide not to pay for treatment if I or a family member gets seriously ill.
The insurance comapny selected by my employer could use recision and drop us from the rolls entirely if I or a family member gets seriously ill.
I could lose my job and therefore my coverage.

Notice that NONE of these potentialities have ANYTHING to do with "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY" on my part. It's all pretty much out of my hands.

Am I unique among Americans in this regard? Hell NO! I am the norm. And I and most American's have little if any security when it comes to healthcare. We're all one step away from having our families becoming one of the uninsured with no meaningful access to critical healthcare if the need arrises.

And anyway I feel that the I've got mine, let them (and their kids) get their's is not only short sighted and foolish, but also self-centered and morally bankrupt.

Healthcare Security for ALL!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GOPish Fear and Loathing in Racine

Are the GOPsters ginning up the next Timothy McVeigh? We’ve already had rightwing terrorist nuts murder a doctor who provided abortions and a security guard at the Jewish museum in DC. Now extremists are showing up at events with President Obama armed with guns and wearing t-shirts the same slogan that McVeigh wore - The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

We’ve got ignorant people scared to death by lies GOPropagated by the usual GOPropagandists so that their spouting all manner of crazy and hateful things with veiled threats of violence (and some actual minor altercations). And they’re stupidly accusing Obama of being both a fascist and socialist as if he could be both, a prime example of their appalling ignorance of history and political ideologies.

And now we have a direct threat of violence in Racine, presumably Paul Ryan’s Thursday August 27th “Listening Session” at 1:30-2:30pm at Gateway Tech Room #114, 901 Pershing Drive. The following email was recently sent to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as reported by the Huffington Post:

“You socialist f---s have the nerve to say stop the violence at the town hall meetings when they weren't violent until you p---ies showed up because your n----- leader obama said to?????? When we have ours in Racine, Wi, I want you there. I want one of your little b----- to put his hands on this Marine. I want one of you to look or talk to me wrong. I'll be the last thing your ignorant faux body guards will remember for a very long time. You can f---ing guarantee that.”

I guess this racist “Marine” either didn’t understand it or didn’t mean it when he swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. He apparently believes he’s justified in using violence against an American citizen who has different beliefs than he does or who looks or talks to him in a way that he deems to be “wrong”. Unfortunately he doesn’t appear to be alone in his zealotry, the wing-nutti are coming out of the woodwork like flying ants.

These idiots are seriously off their rockers and they’re being whipped into a frenzy by the Republicans and their corporate funded shell groups like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works and the Teabaggers. But what is really scary and grossly irresponsible on the part of the GOPsters is that it is the fear and hatred that these people harbor that is being played up and manipulated. It is their racism, xenophobia and their deluded notion that they need to “take our country back” for “real Americans” because they lost an ELECTION!

It’s a very dangerous game that the Republicans are playing with these frightened and ignorant people and when the next one acts out violently on his delusions the Republicans will bear no small responsibility for their shameful incitement and demagoguery.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Closer Look at Paul Ryan's Closer Look

The following excellent analysis of yet another attempt at deception by Paul Ryan (this time on healthcare) is published with permission of the Author, Kelly Gallaher of Yes We Can Racine.

Congressman Paul Ryan has been very busy talking about the health care crisis and touting his plan called “The Patients’ Choice Act”. My local newspaper invited him to write a series of articles to examine the “facts” of current legislation. After reading his article on July 27th, I realized they offered it with no rebuttal or factual verification. A day later, I received a mailing from Ryan criticizing current health care reform proposals while stressing the benefits of his plan. Ryan’s plan sounds great, while U.S. House of Representatives Bill H.R. 3200 sounds scary. This time I sat down and read very closely every idea and derision posed in Ryan’s mailing. With a small amount of research I was able to refute every statement of criticism contained in the mailing. All of them. I was also able to dismantle the benefits Congressman Ryan claims his “Patients’ Choice Act” contains and discovered a pattern of distorted language designed to misrepresent and confuse constituents about health care. I will illustrate a few of the worst:

Regarding his proposed tax refund of $5,700 for every family or $2,300 for individuals, Ryan says:

“My plan, The Patients’ Choice Act, ensures universal affordable health care for all Americans.” and “Allows everyone to use this tax credit to select from a group of comprehensive health insurance plans that fit their specific needs-just like Members of Congress and federal employees do now.”
• Last year family coverage in the private market averaged $13,000 and exceeded $16,000 per year in some states and is predicted to keep rising nationally. A figure far more than double the tax credit would allocate.
• Republican Senator Richard Burr admitted that Ryan’s credit is not sufficient to cover American families. Burr says “that probably won’t meet the equivalent of an FEHBP (Federal Employees Health Benefit Program) plan.” Even Ryan’s friend in Congress says this isn’t equivalent to the coverage they have.
• Under Ryan’s plan, families with employer paid insurance would be taxed on the entire amount the employer contributes just as if it were wages.
• Replacing the current employer tax exclusion with an individual tax credit would significantly weaken employer-based coverage because individuals receive the credit and employers no longer have an incentive to contribute.
• Unlike health reform proposals that the House and Senate committees are developing, Ryan’s plan does not set meaningful minimum standards on what benefits insurers must cover. It doesn’t limit deductibles or out-of-pocket costs leaving private insurers to determine those themselves state by state.

On current proposals being debated in the House and Senate, Ryan says the following:

“Total costs would exceed $1 trillion.” and “Creates an entitlement that will cost another trillion over the next ten years, on top of the trillions the government is already scheduled to spend on health care.”
• The initial report by the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) in early July calculating estimated costs has been used by Ryan and his colleagues frequently and unfairly. The CBO did not calculate savings that health care reform will produce. On July 20th the CBO recalculated that the H.R. 3200 reform bill would not only be budget neutral, it will produce a surplus of $6 billion over time.
• The real threat to government spending is the system we have now. According to the Kaiser Foundation: by 2018 health care costs are expected to top $4.4 trillion if nothing is done.
• House and Senate committee reforms would reduce overuse of expensive healthcare technology and cut back on preventable medical error-two of the greatest cost drivers in the entire system. According to the Center for Health Research: comprehensive reform could save as much as $1.4 trillion over ten years.

Perhaps the worst lie Congressman Ryan is telling:“A recent study predicts two out of every three Americans will lose their current employer-provided insurance under the government plan.”
• The “recent study” he refers to is a study conducted by the Lewin group who is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group (UHG), one of the nation’s largest insurers. The Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a subsidiary of UHG that was accused by the New York attorney general and the AMA for helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. In January, UnitedHealth paid a $400 million dollar settlement covering conduct going back to 1994.
• According to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities it is Congressman Ryan’s “Patients’ Choice Act” that “would significantly erode employer-based coverage” while it “fails to create a viable alternative for people losing employer coverage.”

Lastly, Congressman Ryan decries government interference in health care. However, he completely avoids discussing that his plan for the uninsurable constitutes a huge government system itself. Nearly 100 million chronically ill Americans (representing up to 75% of health care spending) who cannot afford coverage except at colossal premium costs would be funneled into a state/government run health insurance exchange with prices and language determined by private carriers in each individual state. Ryan’s plan is devoid of the competition a public option offers and entrusts insurance companies to police themselves.

Ultimately, Congressman Ryan’s “Patients’ Choice Act” benefits for-profit, private health insurance companies by retaining and defending their central role in this billion dollar industry. Perhaps then, it is no coincidence that the insurance industry has been Congressman Ryan’s top contributor since 1989. In fact, he has received $1,143,560.00 in campaign contributions from health care industries over the last decade.

As 14,000 Americans lose their health insurance every single day, Paul Ryan offers nothing new; he is obstructing real reform and offering us more of the same. His “Patients’ Choice Act” is a retread of two bills already introduced in 2008 and both were recycled by John McCain in his unsuccessful run for President. In contrast, H.R. 3200 has included 160 Republican amendments, which proved to be smart, constructive and bipartisan, but you won’t hear that from Paul Ryan.

I believe we will have comprehensive health care reform this year and I hope it will be a good plan. It is clear that my U.S. Representative, Paul Ryan, intends to play no role in helping to shape this historic legislation. He said last week on MSNBC, “let’s have an honest debate.” My reply to him is: you first.