Tag: HCR

Selling Snake Oil

Ezra Klein, BiT (Broderite-in-Training) does his best to comfort a single mother about her Health Care prospects.

A reader writes in:


I do not understand how this bill will affect my family and me. I am a self-employed single mother. I cannot afford health care for myself and my children. I made $38,000 last year and I expect to make less than $35,000 this year. What does this health care reform mean for me? Will I be able to get coverage for my children and myself in this first year?

Not in the first year, necessarily. But when the bill goes into effect in 2014, your situation will change dramatically. Using the Kaiser Family Foundation’s premium calculator and a slightly stylized version of your situation (the calculator is not terribly flexible), here’s what I can say:

First, you’ll be buying insurance on the exchanges. That means no discrimination based on preexisting conditions, insurers who are being watched and regulated, lots of choices, and the buying power that comes from being part of a large risk pool rather than being on your own.

More specifically, your income would make you eligible for substantial subsidies. About $11,571 worth, to be precise (this is keyed to a family of four, I should say). The cap on your premium payments as a percentage of your income would be 4.4 percent. You’d be paying about $1,540 a year.

So for the next four years, this single working mother of at least two will be stuck waiting for the privilege to pay an extra $1500 she doesn’t have (not including copays and deductibles) for a bare bones health insurance policy that won’t even cover her if she becomes pregnant again accidentally.  And the best part?  If she doesn’t pay her mandated tithe to a for-profit insurer, the IRS will fine her even more money she doesn’t have.

Quite a sell job Obama & Co. has created for itself, don’t you think?  

After all of the teabagging hoopla, the breathless media coverage, and the Presidential hopenotics that have intentionally raised outsized expectations about what Obamacare actually does, the Dems are now forced to defend this deeply flawed and regressive legislation for the next two election cycles before most of the alleged ‘benefits’ (such as they are) even begin to kick in.

So get used to four more years of pandering Ezra Klein posts chock full of platitudes about ‘choice’ and ‘buying power’ (neither of which actually exists under this legislation) and specious arguments that if we all just stay patient, keep Smoking the Hopium*, and vote for the Democrats, our Brave New Healthcare Order awaits.

That is, of course, assuming there are any Democrats left in four years.

*h/t TheMomCat

I don’t know what to think anymore

This isn’t going to be very long, nor even really a proper diary, but I need to get this off my chest.  I’m not inclined to put this up elsewhere, because I’m not in the mood for being flamed into oblivion.

The news of the health insurance reform bill being probably a done deal has me feeling very deeply torn.  To come out of the process with nothing wasn’t politically feasible.  To come out of this particular exercise with this piece of offal is enough to make me want to give up on the entire political system altogether.

Then, this afternoon, I got the following email.  Now, I get a lot of political junk email — from activist groups, from congresscritters, from organizations allied with the progressive movement.  Most of it I just delete, because most of it consisits of pleas for money I can’t spare.  I quote it in its entirety below the jump.  Some of what they say is true, some is pure bombast, and the overlap between the two is causing me real issues.  I pass it along not because I believe everything they say, or to hold it up for ridicule, but in the interest of a progressive community deconstruction of this text.

Removing Health Insurance’s Antitrust Exemption — will Lower its Cost

With all the other HCR news, you may have missed this important tidbit. (I know I did.)

House Votes To Repeal Antitrust Exemption for Health Insurance Firms

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On Wednesday, the House voted 406-19 to end a 65-year-old antitrust exemption for health insurance companies, part of Democrats’ broader strategy to revive their health reform efforts ahead of Thursday’s bipartisan health care summit, Roll Call reports (Dennis, Roll Call, 2/25).

The bill (HR 4626) would amend the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act, which exempts insurers from federal antitrust law if they are regulated by the states.


Granted it’s NOT the Public Option, BUT still it’s important to finally putting the brakes on the run-away rising costs of Health Care, hopefully

Orrin Hatch: Six years ago, “It was Standard Practice NOT to Pay for things”

Uh-Oh!  Did someone just let the cat out of bag?

Democrats See GOP Hypocrisy in Health Care Debate

Citing 2003 Medicare vote, Democrats see GOP hypocrites in debate over health care spending

Charles Babington, AP Writer

Dec 25, 2009

[…] when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

With no new taxes or spending offsets accompanying the Medicare drug program, the cost has been added to the federal debt.


Six years ago, “it was standard practice not to pay for things,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.


Watch out Orrin, speaking the blunt truth, is NOT a GOP strong suit,

best to stick to the Lock-step GOP Talking points, you guys NO best!

Leave the blunt talking to those with real guts, those like Alan Grayson & Co.

Around and Around

(psssst… Cassiodorus read my mind!)

I’m not sure if anyone in my little political junkie clique here comprehends how much I hate hate HATE electoral politics. But I gotta tell ya. My Bullshit Detector has been polished and fine tuned in the past year. I watched only a clip snip of Axelrod on the shows this morning and then I went a-reading / scanning the blogs, and … if these guys spin this HCR POS Reform any harder …. they’re gonna land themselves on the frikkin moon.

Why is Kos Such a Hater?

Markos is a hater!  Responding to a fund-raising email from Obama kos says, in part:

Obama spent all year enabling Max Baucus and Olympia Snowe, and he thinks we’re supposed to get excited about whatever end result we’re about to get, so much so that we’re going to fork over money? Well, it might work with some of you guys, but I’m certainly not biting. In fact, this is insulting, betraying a lack of understanding of just how pissed the base is at this so-called reform. The administration may be happy to declare victory with a mandate that enriches insurance companies, yet creates little incentive to control costs or change the very business practices that have screwed so many people. But I’ll pass.

I am no genius when it comes to a complete understanding of the details of this legislation.  But I know what a monopoly is and I know you can’t regulate a monopoly no matter how many laws you pass or how many goodies you hand out to mask the fact we are about to give billions of dollars to … a monopoly.

Without a public option, there is no counter to this monopoly.  Insurance companies win.  The rest of us lose.

Public Option Out

Breaking News… I missed the teevee versions, but its all the buzz… mcjoan has it on teh GOS front page

Over 700 comments, very interesting commentary, at the orange rec list: Breaking News: Senate Dems Drop Public Option .

And a brief report at FDL.

Is it true? we dont know yet. go read mcjoan, she has most info.

NYT: Senate Leaders in Tentative Deal to Alter Public Option

But Democratic aides said that the group had tentatively agreed on a proposal that would replace a government-run health care plan with a menu of new national, privately-run insurance plans modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which covers more than eight million federal workers, including members of Congress, and their dependents. (See this earlier Prescriptions article about how the group of 10 has been thinking about this approach.)

A government-run plan would be retained as a fall-back option, the aides said, and would be triggered only if the new proposal failed to meet targets for providing affordable insurance coverage to a specified number of people.

The agreement would also allow Americans between age 55 and 64 to buy coverage through Medicare, beginning in 2011.

EDIT: Check out the essay by Jamess on what this loss means.

UPDATE 10:45PM: TPM has ‘White House health care team sends over a brief statement:’.

“Senators are making great progress and we’re pleased that they’re working together to find common ground toward options that increase choice and competition.”

Reading between the lines here in a statement from a team who knows President Obama has been accused of not standing firm enough for a public option, they think what happened in the meeting may strike the right political balance.

Yeah, good luck with that.

“Our Resources Are Limited”

Just two days after announcing the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama held a jobs summit:

With unemployment levels above 10 percent, Obama said “We cannot hang back and hope for the best.”

But, mindful of growing anxiety about federal deficits, Obama also tempered his upbeat talk with an acknowledgment that government resources could only go so far and that it is primarily up to the private sector to create large numbers of new jobs.

He said while he’s “open to every demonstrably good idea … we also though have to face the fact that our resources are limited.”

Beyond the question of why a Democratic president is giving lip service to deficit hawks at a moment that screams for more Keynesian stimulus, the real question is this: why is it that we have to endure nearly a year of grueling political games just to get a weak, watered down health care bill that we have been told, all along, has to be deficit-neutral, yet no one bats an eye at throwing tens of billions more each year into wars?

A couple weeks ago, CBS News reported:

Pearls Before Swine

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,

neither cast ye your pearls before swine,

lest they trample them under their feet,

and turn again and rend you.”

Matthew 7:6


Yeah, okay, so the piece that ek posted the other day, Dont Ask, Don’t Give, kinda ticked me off. Not at ek for posting it, no. Just the whole idea of giving money to the DNC or any of those vermin annoys me. Like… ever. Not that I have any to give, and I never have, but if I did, I wouldn’t.

But if I did….

Because People Are Needlessly Dying

A friend of mine works for a right wing idiot. She sometimes shares with me their political correspondence. His politics usually doesn’t get any more sophisticated than generic right wing talking points. The stupid does, indeed, burn. But one recent exchange really distilled it, for me. I had forwarded her the link to my recent post about people who will die, if health care “reform” doesn’t include a public option. Because even if new laws bar private insurers from excluding people with pre-existing conditions, nothing now and nothing in the current proposals prevents private insurers from denying patients expensive life-saving treatments. The newspaper article on which my diary was based referred specifically to Nataline Sarkisyan, the seventeen-year old who died when her private insurer refused to pay for a needed liver transplant. And my friend forwarded back to me her boss’s response. Which was simply to ask how much a public option would cost, along with his typically mind-numbingly inane parrot-point about “unfunded mandates.” It took about a day for it to sink in. What kind of person, when told about a teenager who died because she couldn’t get life-saving medical care, responds by asking about the cost? What does it say about such a person’s basic human values? It’s hard even to respond to such a sick, soulless attitude. This man has daughters. But I guess if he has enough insurance for them, the rest of the world can go ahead and die. He doesn’t care.

Remember Mischief Night? It’s back, and it could get us statewide single payer in PA

In case you’re unaware, there is currently a bill in the Pennsylvania state legislature to establish a statewide single-payer (that’s something close to Medicare for all) system.  Governor Rendell has pledged to sign it if it gets to his desk, and there are currently 35 co-sponsors in the House – including 4 Republicans – and 9 co-sponsors in the Senate.  That’s out of a Senate of 50 and a House of 203.

This Friday, the 30th, there will be a protest at a Blue Cross/Blue Shield building in Philadelphia in support of single payer, and in my state of Pennsylvania this will have particular significance because of how close we are to real health care reform.

IMPORTANT:  If you can’t make it to the protest, but live in Pennsylvania, please contact your state legislators and/or the media to either thank them for their support or to urge them to support these bills (SB 400 and HB 1660).  You can do that here.

45,000 Deaths Each Year Associated With Lack Of Health Insurance

Let’s talk numbers. Even the most policy-averse can understand basic numbers.

From Reuters:

Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year — one every 12 minutes — in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday.

“We’re losing more Americans every day because of inaction … than drunk driving and homicide combined,” Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters.

Overall, researchers said American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage.

A 1993 study found that those without health insurance are 25% more likely to die. That study put the number of annual deaths at 18,00 a year. The new study used the same methodology. It excludes people over the age of 65, because they have health insurance. It’s called Medicare. A government run health plan. The increased number of deaths is due largely to the increased number of uninsured. 27,000 more, each year. Since 1993. Since the Clinton Administration’s attempt to reform health care was destroyed, largely by the insurance industry.