Friday, March 19, 2010

Notes From the Health Care Reform Front Lines

This might be the week that Congress holds a historic vote to reform health care. We have made a few comments here on the blog about the issue, but it is not exactly our focus. We are more of a community group and we seem to emphasize education and LGBT topics. I think our readers can probably guess where we stand on health care, it is not an official TTF mission or anything but many of our officers and board members are active in politics and community affairs not strictly limited to this group's core focus.

Our president, Christine Grewell, has been active in the health-care reform movement, and readers here might like to know what she has been doing. So I asked her to write up something for the blog describing some of the activities she has been involved in. The following is her report:
I first got involved in the health care issue back in early September, when was looking for people to tell others about their problems with the broken health care system. Several of us with stories of mistreatment by our health insurance companies spoke to a group of about two hundred people, including Ike Leggett, Jamie Raskin, Sheila Hixson and other community leaders, in Silver Spring. Shortly after that many of us participated in a protest in front of the White House, and later in September I again told my story at a "funeral for Big Insurance" in Rockville (video HERE).

January 26th I was part of a big demonstration at the US Chamber of Commerce office in Washington, DC. About 20 health insurance survivors came to Washington DC to tell our stories to the Chamber of Commerce and to ask them to stop advertising on behalf of the companies that caused us such grief. Leslie Boyd was there for her 30 year old son who died because he couldn't get coverage due to a childhood pre-existing condition. Heather Mroz was there because at 24 years of age, she is now $480,000 in debt because her health insurance company retroactively rescinded her health insurance coverage to 2 months before premature twins were born. The Chamber of Commerce is acting as a front group for the insurance companies, spending millions of dollars to maintain the very profitable status quo. There's video of that protest at the Washington Post web site HERE. (The Post spelled my name wrong HERE and described me as a real estate agent, which I am not.)

Later that same day, after the march at the Chamber of Commerce, I testified in a hearing on Capitol Hill chaired by Congressman John Conyers.

Then on the 30th several of us health insurance survivors stood out in the snow in Baltimore outside the meeting of the Republican Caucus, as you can see in the video HERE.

A group of Pennsylvanians marched from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, between February 17th and 24th in honor of Melanie Shouse, a health care reform activist who died January 30th of breast cancer after she could not afford the cancer treatments that would have saved her life.

February 23rd I met Melanie's March in College Park and then on the 24th marched with them in DC to the Dirksen Building, where we met with a group of Senators including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Bob Casey, and Senator Sherrod Brown. Video from that meeting is found HERE. As you can see, it was a very enthusiastic group, there was already a lot of momentum to this movement, which is growing even stronger now as Congress comes near to voting.

March 9th, 24 health insurance survivors participated in the "citizens arrest" of insurance company executives at the Ritz Carlton in DC. Five thousand or so people marched to the building, chanting and listening to speeches. Some were taken away by the police but released without arrest. Video HERE and HERE. I was honored to meet and talk with Dr. Howard Dean at that event.

The next day, March 10th, all 24 of us survivors testified in a hearing for the House of Representatives. I was accompanied by Congressman Chris Van Hollen, as part of a panel moderated by CIGNA executive turned whistleblower Wendell Potter. Ed Schultz from "The Ed Show" was there, and he had Leslie Boyd and Heather Mroz from the hearing on his show that night. Video HERE. Marcelas Owens, an 11-year-old from Seattle whose mother died because of lack of insurance coverage, testified with his grandmother in that panel, and now is being slammed by Rush Limbaugh as "an 11-year-old kid being forced to tell this story all over just to benefit the Democrat Party and Barack Obama." Michelle Malkin called him a "kiddie human shield." You wonder how cynical somebody has to be to criticize a kid who is trying to help other people keep their mothers after he lost his. Lawrence O'Donnell subbing for Keith Olbermann had Marcelas on his show this week, countering the conservatives' allegations (video HERE). There were a number of Congressional Representatives at the meeting, and afterward the survivors went to individual Congressional offices to talk with people, not all of them friendly to health care reform. I visited the offices of Representatives Cantor and Ney.

That, people, is grassroots activism, starting in a park in Silver Spring and ending up speaking to Senators and Congressmen.

As the vote draws near and the decibels are ratcheting up, it is time for everyone to make their views clear to their people in Congress. The phone number for the Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. Call up, get your Representative's or your Senator's office on the line, tell them what you want them to do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With Sunday's expected vote hanging on the support of just a handful of wavering Democrats, Obama delivered an energetic, 25-minute closing argument for the goal to which he has devoted much of his presidency and on which its future could pivot, at least for a time. Before an amped-up, campaign-style rally of several thousand at George Mason University in suburban Virginia, the president summoned both pragmatism and principle to sway the undecideds to his side.

He emphasized the bill's provisions that would go into effect this year, including those banning insurers from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, dropping coverage when a person becomes ill or imposing annual or lifetime limits on care, requiring free preventive care and allowing children to stay on parents' policies into their 20s.

Obama said the bill, if it becomes law, will deliver "the toughest insurance reforms in history" and "the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history."

"What we're talking about is commonsense reform," he said. "You've been hearing a whole bunch of nonsense."

Obama also urged lawmakers to reach beyond today's disputes and grasp the history-making aspect of the effort.

"It's a debate that is not only about the cost of our health care but the character of our country, it is about whether we can still meet the challenges of our time, about we still have the guts and the courage to give every citizen a chance," Obama said.

He pointed to contentious debates decades ago over creating the now-popular Social Security and Medicare programs and enacting civil rights laws. "As messy as this process is, as frustrating as this process is, as ugly as this process can be, when we have faced such decisions in our past, this nation time and time again has chosen to extend its promise to more of its people," Obama said.

See full article from DailyFinance:

March 19, 2010 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Democrats pick up more votes for health bill

"Democrats picked up several more votes in favor of their health-care package Friday, including two from members who opposed the original House measure in November.

Florida Rep. Allen Boyd (Fla.) and Ohio Rep. John Boccieri (D) both announced they were reversing their earlier opposition and would back the measure this weekend. Three other Democrats who backed the November bill but were undecided on the new measure also announced they would support it.

Boyd, a key member of the fiscal conservative Blue Dog coalition, said the final health package had flaws but was good enough for him to support.

"This bill is not perfect, but I believe it meets these four principles of responsible reform by providing the largest middle class tax credits for healthcare in our nation's history and preserving a patient's ability to choose their own doctor," Boyd said in a statement released by his office.

Boyd's vote had been much sought-after by Democratic leaders, and Thursday's Congressional Budget Office preliminary score helped to sway the deficit-conscious Floridian into the "aye" column. The same was true for Boccieri.

"I will be voting yes for the bill," Boccieri said at a news conference outside the Capitol, flanked by constituents from his northeast Ohio district.

Boccieri said the CBO's estimate that the health bill will cut the deficit by more than $138 billion in the next 10 years was important to him. "I was very encouraged by the budget results we got," Boccieri said.

Boccieri said he was also inspired by the story of Natoma Canfield -- the leukemia patient from Ohio whose plight was highlighted recently by President Obama. He said it reminded him of his own mother's battle with breast cancer.

"I want my mom to know that I'm standing up today and doing what I believe is right," he said."...

March 19, 2010 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How to violate the constitution, 101, by the Democratic party

March 19, 2010 6:24 PM  
Anonymous Eatcher Heartout said...

Here's a Kleenex, Anon. All the Democrats asked me to tell you they're really sorry they hurt your feelings.

March 19, 2010 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is far more than hurting feelings.

a fundmental willingness to violate the constitution (and I hear they will do it on immigration reform next) means transforming a free society into a despotic one.

Barack obama, the dictator, doesn't sound very far fetched. what's next ?

I more than a little frightened by the grab at the student loan business, the grab at the health care industry, ... more than 50% of the gross gdp is a govt-owned industry...

don't you see that as a problem ?

you should, because eventually it means the entire system collapses.

unless, of course, that was the goal all along.

March 19, 2010 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woo hoo, I can see this really has you upset. You don't like it when the Democrats don't let the Republicans drag them down to their level, do you! Here, here's a bucket to weep into. Just dump it into the gutter when it fills up.

March 19, 2010 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Here, here's a bucket to weep into. Just dump it into the gutter when it fills up."

Glad to see TTfers know how to keep things on a high level.

Medicare is going bankrupt. Let's raise Medicare taxes and not use it to balance Medicare.

Social Security is going bankrupt.

Is third time a charm?

March 20, 2010 1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no!!!! TTFers are in a panic!!!! Everything we believe in is failing!!! Oh no!!!

Here, Anon, here's a bathtub you can weep into. Just dump it into the gutter when it fills up.

March 20, 2010 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A stranger moment in politics has seldom been seen. A vast expansion of government that affects every one of the country’s 300-plus million inhabitants may be passed by a hair against fierce and fiercely repeated public opposition by a Congress that no longer speaks for its voters—most of whose members are angry and scared. They are afraid of their voters, and mad at each other, or rather, the Democrats are: The liberals are mad at the centrists, the centrists are mad at the liberals. Democrats in the House are angry at those in the Senate, and deeply suspicious of being betrayed. The centrists are also mad at Obama, for picking the wrong cause (health care and not the economy), doing it in the wrong way (big and expensive, not incremental and smaller), and pushing them to risk their careers in backing a cause and a program neither they nor their constituents want.
For Obama himself, health care has been toxic, decimating his numbers, and ripping apart his mystique. In the course of the fight his approval ratings have dipped from near 70 to the mid-40s, his magic has vanished, and his words have gone flat. The coalition that elected him has fallen apart, as independents, mistakenly lured by his “conservative” temperament, have fled to the welcoming arms of the opposite party. Polling suggests that all the red and swing states Obama took from George W. Bush have now turned against him. The elections held since health care became the main issue have rendered votes of no confidence: In 2008, Virginia went to Obama by a 7-point margin; in 2009, it elected a Republican governor by 18, a 25-point recalibration. In 2008, New Jersey went to Obama by 15 points; in 2009 it went to Chris Christie by 4. Massachusetts, which went for Obama by 26 points (and which hasn’t had a Republican senator since the late 1970s), gave Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican who campaigned against health care, by a margin of 5 points. Respected nonpartisan political analysts now predict a “wave” election for the upcoming midterms, in which the out party wins one or both houses of Congress​—an event that is usually driven by a major calamity like the failure of the Clinton health care reform plan in the 1994 midterms plus congressional scandal or the 2006 loss for Republicans, triggered by congressional scandal and what looked then like a loss in Iraq. Democrats hold massive majorities—18 seats in the Senate, and 79 in the House—but many of the states and districts that they represent now poll as being against the health care proposal, creating a major democratic dysfunction, as many members are voting against the wishes and interests of their districts and states. This lopsided body, in which Democrats are clawing to eke out even a one-vote majority, is a dead Congress walking, out of step with most of its voters, who on this issue at least are temporarily represented by the naysayers on the Republican side of the aisle. Health care reform has dissolved the Democrats’ coalition, and with it much of their moral authority. If health care survives, it will have been passed by the shell of a Congress that outlived its own mandate.

March 20, 2010 3:19 AM  
Anonymous here comes Mr. Kiss of Death said...

just when momentum seems to be slipping, Barry comes to the rescue again:

"President Barack Obama is heading to Capitol Hill to meet with Democratic lawmakers on Saturday — the day before a crucial vote on his health care overhaul.

Obama wants to make a last push for his top domestic priority after more than a year of debate."

March 20, 2010 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

passed by a hair against fierce and fiercely repeated public opposition

Just like the Civil Rights Acts were passed with close votes against misinformed public opposition.

We expect our leaders to lead and to do the right thing. Making sure every American has quality affordable health care is the right thing to do.

Thank you President Obama for leading Congress to do the right thing!

March 20, 2010 8:22 AM  
Anonymous either way, Repubs win this weekend said...

"misinformed public opposition"


the public knows more about this bill than any bill in history

with Social Security and Medicare already facing bankruptcy, Congress wants to double-down with another entitlement program

this weekend, the Democrat Congress will send their constituents this message:

we think you're stupid

this November, regardless of how the vote goes at this point, their constitutents will send them a message:

it's mutual, baby

March 20, 2010 8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And your solution, "Anonymous" [i.e. "either way"]
"with Social Security and Medicare already facing bankruptcy, Congress wants to double-down with another entitlement program"?

Why, of course, it's as simple as just dumping these "entitlements", right? Get rid of them!
Typical of someone who says "I got mine...too bad about you. After all it's a dog-eat-dog world we live in."

One can only assume that you have renounced all of the "entitlements" that you take for granted and have come to rely on (such as police protection, snow removal from roads, National Parks, unemployment insurance, et al.) because they are "costly".

The fact is, "either way - Anonymous", readers here think that you are stupid!


March 20, 2010 9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just terrible. The predatory health insurance companies will be s-o-o-o-o unhappy, and the pathetic Republicans who support them. Just imagine those CEOs without multimillion bonuses, just imagine those socialist Americans who believe that just because they are sick a doctor should help them. This is going to be terrible.

Oh, and it's all TTF's fault, those liberals.

March 20, 2010 10:08 AM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

Myth 1: This is a universal health care bill.

Fact: The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance. According to the Congressional Budget Office:

•Total uninsured in 2019 with no bill: 54 million.
•Total uninsured in 2019 with Senate bill: 24 million.

Myth 2: Insurance companies hate this bill.

Fact: This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009. The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former WellPoint vice president. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on Oct. 30, health care stocks have risen 28.35 percent.

Myth 3: The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.

Fact: The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500 per year that President Barack Obama promised during his campaign.

Annual premiums in 2016: status quo / with bill:

Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800
Small group market, family: $19,300 / $19,200
Large group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300
Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300
Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800
Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200

(The cost of premiums in the individual market goes up somewhat due to subsidies and mandates of better coverage. The CBO assumes that cost of individual policies goes down 7 to 10 percent, and that people will buy more generous policies.)

Myth 4: The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.

Fact: The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product they can't afford to use. A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After taxes and basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income -- out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to up to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.

Myth 5: This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable.

Fact: Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can't afford it. A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:

•21 percent of residents forgo medical treatment because they can't afford it, including 12 percent of children
•18 percent have health insurance but can't afford to use it

March 20, 2010 10:25 AM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

Myth 6: This bill provides health care to 31 million people who are currently uninsured.

Fact: This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2 percent of their annual income in penalties. Some will be assisted with government subsidies.

Myth 7: You can keep the insurance you have if you like it.

Fact: The excise tax will result in employers switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services. Older, less healthy employees with employer-based health care will be forced to pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses than they do now.

Myth 8: The "excise tax" will encourage employers to reduce the scope of health care benefits, and they will pass the savings on to employees in the form of higher wages.

Fact: There is insufficient evidence that employers pass savings from reduced benefits on to employees.

Myth 9: This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.

Fact: This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:

•Public option ($25 billion to $110 billion)
•Medicare buy-in
•Drug re-importation ($19 billion)
•Medicare drug price negotiation ($300 billion)
•Shorter pathway to generic biologics ($71 billion)

Myth 10: The bill will require big companies like Wal-Mart to provide insurance for their employees.

Fact: The bill was written so that most Wal-Mart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.

March 20, 2010 10:26 AM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

Myth 11: The bill "bends the cost curve" on health care.

Fact: "Bends the cost curve" is a misleading and trivial claim, as the U.S. would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.

•In 2009, health care costs were 17.3 percent of GDP
•Annual cost of health care in 2019, status quo: $4,670.6 billion (20.8 percent of GDP)
•Annual cost of health care in 2019, Senate bill: $4,693.5 billion (20.9 percent of GDP)

Myth 12: The bill will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition.

Fact: Access to the "high-risk pool" is limited, and the pool is underfunded. Only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high-risk pool. Only 0.7 percent of those without insurance now will get coverage, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report estimates it will run out of funding by 2011 or 2012.

Myth 13: The bill prohibits dropping people in individual plans from coverage when they get sick.

Fact: The bill does not empower a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they're sick. There are already many states that have laws on the books prohibiting people from being dropped when they're sick, but without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.

Myth 14: The bill ensures consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions.

Fact: The "internal appeals process" is in the hands of the insurance companies themselves, and the "external" one is up to each state.

Ensuring that consumers have access to "internal appeals" simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And it is the responsibility of each state to provide an "external appeals process," as there is neither funding nor a regulatory mechanism for enforcement at the federal level.

Myth 15: This bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30 to 40 percent per year.

Fact: This bill does not limit insurance company rate hikes. Private insurers continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws and are free to raise rates without fear of competition in many areas of the country.

March 20, 2010 10:31 AM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

Myth 16: When the bill passes, people will begin receiving benefits under this bill immediately.

Fact: Most provisions in this bill, such as an end to the ban on pre-existing conditions for adults, do not take effect until 2014.

Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high-risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than six months, and community health centers will start receiving money.

Myth 17: The bill creates a pathway for single payer.

Fact: Bernie Sanders' provision in the Senate bill does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, so no, it doesn't create a pathway for single payer.

Obama told Dennis Kucinich that the Ohio representative's amendment is similar to Bernie Sanders' provision in the Senate bill, and creates a pathway to single payer. Since the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the ERISA laws that stand in the way of any practical state single-payer system.

Myth 18: The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.

Fact: Most people with medical bankruptcies already have insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.

•In 2009, 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy.
•Of those, 62 percent were medically related.
•Three-quarters of those had health insurance.
•The Obama bill leaves 24 million without insurance.
•The maximum yearly out-of-pocket limit for a family will be $11,900 on top of premiums.
•A family with serious medical problems that last for a few years could easily be financially crushed by medical costs.
Real health care reform is needed. But this bill falls short of that on many levels.


Myth 1: March 11, Letter from Douglas Elmendorf to Sen. Harry Reid (PDF)
Myth 2: The AHIP Plan in Context, Igor Volsky; The Max Baucus WellPoint/Liz Fowler Plan, Marcy Wheeler
Myth 3: CBO Score, Nov. 30, 2009
Myth 4: "Affordable" Health Care, Marcy Wheeler
Myth 5: Gruber Doesn't Reveal That 21% of Massachusetts Residents Can't Afford Health Care, Marcy Wheeler; Massachusetts Survey (PowerPoint document)
Myth 6: Health Care on the Road to Neo-Feudalism, Marcy Wheeler
Myth 7: CMS: Excise Tax on Insurance Will Make Your Insurane Coverage Worse and Cause Almost No Reduction in NHE, Jon Walker
Myth 8: Employer Health Costs Do Not Drive Wage Trends, Lawrence Mishel
Myth 9: CBO Estimates Show Public Plan With Higher Savings Rate, Congress Daily; Drug Importation Amendment Likely This Week, Politico; Medicare Part D IAF (pdf); A Monopoloy on Biologics Will Drain Health Care Resources, Lancet Student
Myth 10: MaxTax Is a Plan to Use Our Taxes to Reward Wal-Mart for Keeping Its Workers in Poverty, Marcy Wheeler
Myth 11: Estimated Financial Effects of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009," as Proposed by the Senate Majority Leader on November 18, 2009, CMS (PDF)
Myth 12: Ibid
Myth 13: Ibid
Myth 14: Ibid
Myth 15: Health insurance companies hang onto their antitrust exemption, Protect Consumer
Myth 16: What passage of health care reform would mean for the average American, D.C. Examiner
Myth 17: How to get a State Single Payer Opt-Out as Part of Reconciliation, Jon Walker
Myth 18: Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies,; The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Section-by-Section Analysis (PDF)

March 20, 2010 10:33 AM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

so we see that all of the problems that Christine has with our current system will persist, regardless of tomorrow's vote

this is what Dems do with unprecedented power

maybe Christine will vote for someone else in 2012

March 20, 2010 10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, I had an epileptic dog once, acted just like you. We'd just have to shut the door and wait for her to stop.

March 20, 2010 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Those "myths" come from FAUX News.

Watch this video of the tea bagger CODE RED on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Not a single one of them can name something concrete in the health care bill that they object to. Where do their objections to the bill come from? FAUX News and it's head guru, Glenn Beck. FAUX News said it so they think it must be true, but all FAUX news ever reports about the bill is myths.

History will remember the Democrats were brave enough to do the right thing even if it cost them their elected seats, while the GOP obstructed every effort to fix the health care system as if they were wholly owned subsidiaries of the health insurance industry.

March 20, 2010 11:41 AM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

which of these facts would you disagree with, anon-B?

let's start with #1:

this supposed expansion of helathj care to everyone will leave at least 24 million Americans uninsured

any disagreement, inane?

btw, the report is from AOL:

March 20, 2010 12:11 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

"the GOP obstructed every effort to fix the health care system as if they were wholly owned subsidiaries of the health insurance industry"

why would the health insurance industry oppose this bill?

they get about 30 million new customers who are forced by the government to pay their premiums, on which there will be no restraint

what industry wouldn't love that?

March 20, 2010 12:16 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

the Dem leadership and Big B Obama and the media are trying to create an air of inevitability about the health care bill

but if they have the votes, why do they keep trying to work out a compromise with pro-life Dems?:

"UPDATE – SATURDAY 11 A.M. – Stupak’s press conference, which was scheduled for 11 a.m. and was thought to be where he would unveil his proposal, has been postponed indefinitely. Time’s Jay Newton Small is reporting that a Democratic whip meeting has just been scheduled for noon.

National Review is reporting that Stupak has broken off negotiations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. These don’t seem to be good signs for Democrats, given that if Pelosi was negotiating with Stupak over pro-life votes, that would indicate they don’t have enough votes without them.

Hang on to your hats.


An attempt late Friday by Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Michigan Democrat, to change abortion language in President Obama’s health care bill riled pro-choice lawmakers who vowed not to allow the revision.

The move by Stupak, who holds a crucial bloc of Democratic votes that if released would clear the way for the health bill, threw Capitol Hill into confusion late Friday, less than two days before the House is set to vote on the landmark legislation.

Stupak, leaving the Capitol, said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s willingness to talk to him about his idea shows Democrats “don’t have the votes, or they wouldn’t be talking to me,” he said."

March 20, 2010 12:24 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

When the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary cost assessment for the Democrats' health care reform proposal Thursday, the estimate came in at $940 billion in new federal spending over 10 years -- just under the $1 trillion mark that fiscally conservative Democrats had identified as their cut off point for supporting the measure.

But by Friday, House Republicans had culled through the numbers and called a press conference to point to what they called Democrats' use of "budget trickery" to drag the bill's price tag to its more politically palatable number.

GOP members took issue with several budget-related items in the bill, including Democrats' plans to increase taxes and impose fees in all of the first 10 years of reform, but to implement health insurance exchanges, where consumers could shop for coverage, four years into the process.

"Hiding spending does not reduce spending," said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republicans' top man on the Budget Committee. "We all know this bill is a budget Frankenstein. It is a house of cards. It is going to give us a huge deficits now and even larger deficits in the future."

No feature of the bill seemed to anger Republicans more than an item that is missing from the original bill-- a plan to increase payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients. Without the measure, known as the "doc fix," payments to those physicians will drop by 21 percent.

Republicans say the cost of the "doc fix" should be included in the health reform measure since the overall package deals with extending the solvency of Medicare.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Friday that she will address the doc fix in a separate bill later in the year, a move that Ryan said is happening only to make the health care bill appear to cut the deficit, when it otherwise would not.

To illustrate his point, the congressman asked the CBO to estimate the budget impact of including the doc fix in health care reform. In a letter responding to Ryan, CBO said it would cost about $208 billion over the first 10 years of health care reform, and would take the overall plan from cutting the deficit by $130 billion to increasing the deficit by $59 billion.

"They're hiding the true cost of this bill," said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

March 20, 2010 2:43 PM  
Anonymous go to Asia, Barry said...

At the House Rules Committee meeting, Democrats desperate to pass their national health care plan are running into the barrier of basic civics. Here is the problem: The Senate has passed its HCR bill. If the House passes the same bill, it goes on to the president; once he signs it, the bill becomes law. But House Democrats, when they vote for the Senate bill using the "Deem & Pass" dodge, also want to simultaneously pass a package of amendments to the law. Except HCR will not, at that point, be law. It will only become law when the president signs it. Congress can amend the law -- it does so all the time -- but can it amend something that isn't law?

Which is where Democrats are tripping up. Passage of their HCR proposal should be very simple: Senate passes it, House passes it, president signs it. But House Democrats are terrified of voting for the unpopular bill, so they hope to pass it by "Deem & Pass," in which they will vote, not for the bill, but for a rule that both deems the Senate bill to have passed and, in the same vote, passes the package of amendments. So House Democrats will have two fig leaves: 1) they didn't vote directly for the Senate bill, and 2) they voted to simultaneously amend -- to "fix" -- the Senate bill.

The problem is the sequence. Can the House vote to amend something that isn't the law, as the Senate bill will not be law before the president's signature? The Rules Committee meeting turned into mass confusion when Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman said, "We're not going to 'deem' the bill passed. We're going to pass the Senate bill…I would be against the idea of 'deeming' something -- we either pass it or we don't."

To Republican ears, that sounded as if Waxman was speaking out in support of a direct vote on the Senate plan. "I hope we're making news here," said Republican Rep. Joe Barton. If so, Barton added, "Praise the Lord!" Other Democrats jumped in to say that no, there would not be a direct vote on the Senate bill.

Barton then asked whether there would be some period of time between House passage of the Senate bill and House passage of the HCR amendments. During that period of time, the president would sign the Senate HCR bill into law. For the House to amend the HCR law, Barton said, it has to be law, which means the president has to have signed it. "If he doesn't, it ain't a law," Barton said.

Democratic Rep. Sander Levin jumped in. "We're going to be amending the law," he claimed. Waxman added, "We change current law, and the current law will be the Senate bill once it's voted on in the House."

But it won't be law until the president signs it. Obviously, Democrats are performing such strange contortions because many of their members are scared of voting for a bill that will likely mean defeat for them in November. But their attempts to avoid responsibility have created some very basic problems.

March 20, 2010 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, we finally had to have that pitiful old epileptic dog put to sleep. Anon, why do they allow you to use this web site in this way>

March 20, 2010 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an idea

how about we raise Social Security taxes to pay for subsidized veterinarian care?

March 20, 2010 3:48 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

If the House Democratic majority passes Obama's health care proposals, one of two things will happen by Election Day, 2010 -- and neither one will be healthy for the Democrats seeking re-election.

Either the Medicare cuts will take effect or they will be postponed by a terrified Congress.

If they take effect, physicians' fees will be slashed 21 percent and hospital reimbursements for Medicare patients will be cut by $1.3 billion. Tens of thousands of doctors and thousands of health care institutions -- hospitals, hospices, outpatient clinics and such -- will refuse to treat Medicare patients.

Entire cities will be without one doctor in important specialties who will take care of the elderly on Medicare. Particularly in fields like G.I. care or arthritic and joint pain, doctors will simply refuse to accept the low reimbursement rates they are being offered and hospitals will refuse all but emergency care to Medicare patients. In effect, the elderly will experience a doctors' strike against Medicare patients.

Congress, faced with this massive revolt coming right on the verge of the election, may back down and postpone the cuts. Originally, doctor reimbursement rates were scheduled to drop on March 1 of this year, but Congress postponed it until the fall. Now the Democrats in Congress will face not only cuts in doctors' fees but in all forms of Medicare reimbursement -- the so-called "market basket" of cuts programmed into Obamacare.

Congress, being Congress, will probably seek to postpone the cuts until after Election Day. But in doing so, they would expose the deficit-reduction and cost-containment features of Obama's bill for the fraud that they are. The news media headlines would blare that Congress just voted to add tens or hundreds of billions to the deficit, and the big-spending, high-borrowing image of Congress will worsen. All pretense that Obamacare is not a reckless spending bill will be stripped away, and we will be face to face with the reality that it will add hugely to the deficit.
All this will come at precisely the time that House and Senate Democrats are scrambling to rebut the attacks of their Republican challengers over these very issues. If Congress votes to postpone the Medicare cuts, as a former secretary of health and human services predicted to me, they will have to answer for their fiscal irresponsibility right before the election.

Either poison -- the cuts or the deficit -- will be enough to eradicate an entire generation of House and Senate Democrats.

And these cuts will take place against a backdrop of continuing increases in health insurance premiums, no expansion of coverage (it doesn't kick in until 2013) and no tangible benefit from the Obama bill.

This is the prospect the House and Senate Democrats who vote for Obamacare will face in the fall of 2010. This is the record they will have to defend.

Or, they could save their political lives and vote no.

March 20, 2010 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Anon, you have a point there. Maybe all 300 people who attended the gigantic Tea Party Red Alert demonstration last week will vote against them!!! Yikes! This could be the end of the Democrat Party as we know it.

March 20, 2010 4:10 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

educate yourself and read a poll

Obamacare is rejected by a plurality of Americans and the main reason Obama's approval ratings have plunged 25 points in the last year

those 300 apparently have a lot of pull

March 20, 2010 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, Anon, the Republican Party and Fox News have done everything they can to undermine the government and the American people. The polls show that Americans like everything in the bill, but they think they don't like the bill. They'll be glad when their health coverage improves, costs go down, and their actual health care needs are taken care of.

This isn't a political contest, Anon, it's a matter of setting standards for health care -- you don't govern by popularity polls. Oh, wait, you do if you're a Republican, because all that matters is winning the next election.

March 20, 2010 6:06 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

"They'll be glad when their health coverage improves, costs go down, and their actual health care needs are taken care of."

Well, that's not what's going to happen if Obamacare passes.

They've had in Massachusetts for a while and none of that has happened.

March 20, 2010 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's that, Anon? Not going to happen? Hee-hee. It was definitely not going to happen with the status quo, where premiums and CEO bonuses are going up forty percent a year and people lose their health insurance for getting sick.

Go ahead, tell us how much this bill isn't going to help. That will be just like that Maryland Republican leader who predicted that little girls' dead bodies would be turning up all over Montgomery County if we banned discrimination against transgender people. That didn't happen either.

March 20, 2010 7:25 PM  
Anonymous thanks for fixing that, Barry said...

"What's that, Anon? Not going to happen? Hee-hee. It was definitely not going to happen with the status quo, where premiums and CEO bonuses are going up forty percent a year and people lose their health insurance for getting sick."

Has anyone ever told you you're an idiot?

The bill in Congress does nothing to stop premiums from going up or keeping private companies from paying bonuses to their CEOs.

To the extent the bill makes new requirements on insurance companies, they will be allowed to pass the costs on to consumers.

Of course, it won't be as high as it might otherwise be because the insurance companies will have lots of new revenue because everyone will be forced to buy insurance.

Assuming that's determined to be constitutional in a non-communist society. Virginia passed a law makng it illegal last week and 37 other states have done so or are in the process of doing so so we have significant litigation ahead of us if the bill is passed.

March 20, 2010 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
What's that, Anon?"

what kind of a-hole addresses "anon" and posts as "anon"?

must be a TTFer

March 20, 2010 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye announced Saturday night he is voting against against the Democratic health care bill Sunday, saying it doesn’t do enough to lower the cost of health care, would make deep cuts in some hospital funding and could cause problems for TRICARE recipients.

“Over the past year, I have spoken with countless small business owners, families, medical professionals, and average citizens across Virginia’s 2nd District, and it became very clear that this bill was not the right solution for Virginia’s health care challenges,” Nye said in a written statement. “There were many strong points in this bill that I would have been happy to support individually, but the package as a whole had serious problems.”

The Virginia Beach Democrat has been the focus of a high-pressure campaign by supporters and opponents of legislation that is headed for a showdown vote in the U.S. House Sunday.

“I know there are some people who will be disappointed with my vote,” Nye said, “but I believe that I have a firm duty to vote my conscience and represent the best interests of my district.”

Nye, whose 2nd Congressional District includes Virginia Beach, parts of Norfolk and Hampton and the Eastern Shore, had held off making his intentions known until the eve of the vote.

Nye said he objects to the bill’s proposal to cut supplemental Medicaid payments to children’s hospitals, including Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters in Norfolk. Nye said those hospitals could lose $16 billion under the bill.

“This bill did not fix the key flaws with the original health care bill ... and I am not convinced it will effectively reduce the cost of health care for families and small businesses,” he said.

There is also concern that participants in the military’s Tricare health plan may be subject to some health care provisions, under the latest version of the bill. Under previous versions, Tricare patients were exempt.

“ I am not willing to risk negative consequences for our military personnel and their families, particularly at a time when our troops are serving overseas in harm’s way,” Nye said.

Other congressmen from Hampton Roads already have announced how they will vote. U.S. Reps. Randy Forbes, of Chesapeake, and Rob Wittman, of Westmoreland County intend to vote against it.

March 20, 2010 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON -- After hearing out everyone everyone from President Obama to tea party activists, Dover Democratic Rep. Zack Space announced today that he'll oppose the health care reform bill that's up for a vote on Sunday in the House of Representatives.

Space, who represents a sprawling southeast Ohio congressional district, said he doesn't like the bill, and his constituents don't like it, either.

"Probably the most significant concern is the pay-fors in the bill," said Space. "They are opening the door to taxing employee benefits as income, which is going to create, I don’t care how you slice it, a hardship for middle class families that they can’t afford to endure right now."

Space said the version of the bill he supported last year taxed the wealthiest Americans, rather than the middle class, to pay some of the working poor's health care costs.

"This bill has taken those people out of it," said Space.

Space's announcement leaves Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur as the only uncommitted Ohio member of Congress on the controversial vote. She has concerns about the bill's handling of abortion. All other Ohioans oppose the bill including Cincinnati Democrat Steve Driehaus, who worries the bill won't do enough to keep tax dollars from funding abortions,

March 20, 2010 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

House Democrats may very well pass a historic health reform package on Sunday, but they'll have to do so without the support of Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, who opposes the bill due to cost concerns.

Matheson has voted against the health reform proposals at every stage of the legislative process, but he drew significant interest this time by being one of the last undecided House members.

On Saturday afternoon, he announced his decision to oppose the $940 billion package because he said it is "too expensive, contains too many special deals, does not contain health care costs and will result in increases in health insurance premiums."

Matheson's no vote means that every federal lawmaker from Utah will oppose health reform, but unlike his colleagues, Matheson said the decision was far from easy.

"I definitely struggled with it," he told The Salt Lake Tribune . "It is such an important issue and there were definitely components of this legislation that I think we all support."

Matheson cited some of the insurance industry reforms, such as the removal of lifetime caps on benefits or the prohibition against denying someone insurance due to a pre-existing condition. He also liked the financial estimate that showed the bill reducing the deficit by $138 billion in the next 10 years.

But reducing the government's debt is not the same as controlling rising costs for consumers, by which he means insurance premiums and doctors' costs.

"I think we've got to take some very tough steps to try to get control of these out of control costs and I don't think the bill goes far enough in that way," he said.

March 20, 2010 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. John Barrow from Georgia, one of the last Democrats to decide, will vote against the health reform bill.

Said Barrow:

“I am strongly in favor of reforming the health care system, but I don’t think this bill is going to do it, and therefore I can’t support it,” Barrow said in a statement. “It puts too much of the burden of paying for it on working folks who are already being overcharged, and that’s not fair. It threatens to overwhelm Medicaid in Georgia, and that’s not right. And it barely touches the insurance companies, and that’s not smart.”

March 20, 2010 11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's that, TTF? Not going to let insurance companies get away with it? Hee-hee.

They love this bill which will be a windfall for them and a burden to Americans.

Looks like some wise Democrats may save the country after all.

March 20, 2010 11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go ahead, Anon, shoot your wad. Tomorrow night we will remind you of all this, if you dare to come back.

March 20, 2010 11:33 PM  
Anonymous march madness on capitol hill said...

remind me?

oh, the bill may pass

the facts will remain the same

and many Democrats and all Republicans know them

remind me in November how I knew the Dem majority was over

last fall, I predicted that this bill would hit Obama's desk in the Spring

looks like I might have been right

March Madness will be everywhere tomorrow

March 21, 2010 12:39 AM  
Anonymous continuing refutation of global warming said...

NORMAN, Okla. (March 20) -- A powerful storm began blowing through Oklahoma and the southern Plains on the first day of spring Saturday, bringing heavy snow and strong winds.

Forecasters said gusts of up to 40 mph could create drifts of blowing snow and blizzard conditions in what the National Weather Service called "a potentially life-threatening" storm. Authorities attributed at least three deaths in three states to the weather.

March 21, 2010 1:02 AM  
Blogger David S. Fishback said...

If you missed President Obama's speech to the House Democratic Caucus, check it out -- particularl the last several minutes.

March 21, 2010 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Interesting read about yesterday's protest on Capital Hill: Too much tea party racism:
As protesters call Dem leaders "nigger" and "faggot," it's time for Republicans to denounce them. So far, none have


-Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis was taunted by tea partiers who chanted "nigger" at least 15 times, according to the Associated Press (we are not cleaning up language and using "the N-word" here because it's really important to understand what was said.)

-Another Congressional Black Caucus leader, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, was spat upon by protesters. The culprit was arrested, but Cleaver declined to press charges.

-House Majority Whip James Clybourn told reporters: "I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus."

-There were many reports that Rep. Barney Frank was called a "faggot" by protesters

-Meanwhile, a brick came through the window at Rep. Louise Slaughter's Niagara Falls office on Saturday (the day she argued for her "Slaughter solution" to pass health care reform, though it was rejected by other Democrats on the House Rules Committee).

"Freedom of speech" ends when it involves spitting on people and throwing bricks through windows. Has the GOP leadership condemned these action yet?

March 21, 2010 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Keyword in the link is opinion. Since when did Anone start supporting progressives like Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake? Jane is one of those progressives who thinks the health care bill being considered doesn't go far enough because it does not include a public option. For those who'd like to sign the FDL petition in favor of the public option, go here:

why would the health insurance industry oppose this bill?

they get about 30 million new customers who are forced by the government to pay their premiums, on which there will be no restraint

what industry wouldn't love that?

You haven't read the bill, have you Anone? Insurance companies don't like these parts of the bill, which are the parts the public loves:

- Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to rescinding coverage when people get sick
- Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions, and in a few years they will not be allowed to refuse to cover adults with pre-existing conditions either.
- Insurance companies will be barred from imposing lifetime and annual limits on benefits.
- Insurance companies will have to allow children to stay on their parent's policy until age 26.

In other words, as long as all they have to do is collect premiums and are allowed to continue to deny coverage, the insurance companies are happy, but when they actually have to pay claims for what they insure, that makes them unhappy. Why? Because they are for-profit companies. That's why people like Jane Harsher at FDL support the single payer public option, Medicare for All.

the "Deem & Pass" dodge

Facts about Deem and Pass:

From the 95th to 98th Congresses (1977-84), there were only eight self-executing rules making up just 1 percent of the 857 total rules granted. However, in Speaker Tip O'Neill's (D-Mass.) final term in the 99th Congress, there were 20 self-executing rules (12 percent). In Rep. Jim Wright's (D-Texas) only full term as Speaker, in the 100th Congress, there were 18 self-executing rules (17 percent). They reached a high point of 30 under Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) during the final Democratic Congress, the 103rd, for 22 percent of all rules.
When Republicans took power in 1995, they soon lost their aversion to self-executing rules and proceeded to set new records under Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). There were 38 and 52 self-executing rules in the 104th and 105th Congresses (1995-1998), making up 25 percent and 35 percent of all rules, respectively. Under Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) there were 40, 42 and 30 self-executing rules in the 106th, 107th and 108th Congresses (22 percent, 37 percent and 22 percent, respectively). Thus far in the 109th Congress, self-executing rules make up about 16 percent of all rules.

March 21, 2010 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

You skipped some weather reports!

PARIS [Feb 28, 2010] (AP) — A violent late winter storm with fierce rain and hurricane-strength winds ripped across western Europe on Sunday, battering France and four other countries, leaving at least 51 people dead.

The storm, named Xynthia, was the worst in France since 1999 when 90 people died.

Many of the 45 victims in France drowned, while others died when hit by parts of buildings or trees and branches that were ripped off by the wind. At least a dozen people were missing Sunday and 59 others were injured.

Three people died in Spain, one was killed in Germany and a child was crushed to death in Portugal. The storm also hit Belgium, with one death reported there.

Nearly 900,000 people in France were without electricity. Rivers overflowed their banks in Brittany, while high tides and enormous waves swamped Atlantic Ocean communities...


EGG HARBOR CITY, N.J. [03/14/10] — Last month, the Northeast was smothered by blizzards. Now, it's waterlogged by torrential rains.

The region mopped up Sunday following a bout with high wind and heavy rains that uprooted trees, downed power lines and flooded creeks and rivers. At least seven people died in storm-related accidents, and hundreds of thousands were without electricity.

More than a half-million customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut lost electricity at the peak of Saturday's storm, which carried wind gusts of up to 70 mph. The storm came about two weeks after heavy snow and hurricane-force winds left more than a million customers in the Northeast in the dark.

"I spent most of the past few months clearing snow and ice out my driveway, sidewalks, front walks, and now we're picking up all these branches," Jack Alexander said as he and his family worked to clear debris from the front yard of their Egg Harbor City home. "It seems like we've had every type of weather event you could have this winter — I'm almost afraid to see what else can happen."

Farther north in Jackson Township, drivers were negotiating stretches of flooded roadways and detours caused by fallen trees and accidents...

March 21, 2010 11:30 AM  
Anonymous zoomster said...

"If you missed President Obama's speech to the House Democratic Caucus, check it out"

damn, I missed it

on the other hand, in a true sense, I didn't miss a thing at all

""Freedom of speech" ends when it involves spitting on people and throwing bricks through windows. Has the GOP leadership condemned these action yet?"

why would they? it has nothing to do with them

"You haven't read the bill, have you Anone? Insurance companies don't like these parts of the bill, which are the parts the public loves"

the insurance companies more than make up for it by gaining a guaranteed and vastly expanded revenue stream

like electric utilities, they would be guaranteed to prosper by the governement

you may notice that Obama has been using them as a punching bag since Scott Brown's victory and gotten no push back

they no it's in their interest to lay low

"You skipped some weather reports!"

rain in the Spring

who'd a-thunk it woulda sprung!!

March 21, 2010 11:52 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

"Freedom of speech" ends when it involves spitting on people and throwing bricks through windows. Has the GOP leadership condemned these action yet?"

why would they? it has nothing to do with them

If yesterday's protest has nothing to do with the GOP, then why were these folks featured speakers at yesterday's event?

Featured speakers at the Washington, D.C. Rally on Saturday will include:

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (MN)
Congressman Tom Price (GA)
Congressman Joe Wilson (SC)
Congressman Phil Gingrey (GA)
Congressman Rogers (MI)

These GOP members encouraged tea baggers to take their message to the Hill. Why are they not condemning the messages of hate those tea baggers also took with them?

March 21, 2010 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

because they were a small part of the crowd

every crowd has a few lunatics

look at Monkey County and you

March 21, 2010 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, "Anonymous"
Are you the same lunatic who shouted "Heil Hitler" at a meeting of the County Council a year or so ago?
We'd all be relieved to see your departure from "Monkey County" -- as if you even live here.

Who pays your salary to monitor and write your drivel on this blog site?

March 22, 2010 9:18 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Obama signs the health care reform bill with our youngest survivor, Marcelas Owens, at his side


March 23, 2010 3:47 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Marcelas Owens' interviews on CNN and on Countdown after witnessing President Obama sign the health care reform bill.

Thank you Marcelas!

March 26, 2010 11:16 AM  

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