Many Thanks Senator Kennedy

 Congress, Featured, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Many Thanks Senator Kennedy
Aug 262009
 

I’m old enough, barely, to remember the John Kennedy Presidency, and all the hope and enthusiasm of that time. Then the renewed spirit of Bobby Kennedy’s run for the White House.

The Kennedy family is huge, and to this day members of the family enter public service, but the death last night of Ted Kennedy at age 77 marks the end of that original family dynasty. This is a family that has known way more than their share of tragedy, and perhaps the final tragedy is that Ted Kennedy’s life’s work of healthcare for all was not realized before his death.

“This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, “that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.” For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it’s always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.”— Ted Kennedy

He stood up as one of only fourteen Senators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. During the 2004 debate on a proposed federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Kennedy said:

“We all know what this issue is about. It’s not about how to protect the sanctity of marriage, or how to deal with activist judges. It’s about politics and an attempt to drive a wedge between one group of citizens and the rest of the country, solely for partisan advantage … The Constitution has never been used as a tool to entrench currently popular views at the expense of an unpopular minority – and it should not be used that way now.”

In 2007, Sen. Kennedy questionedPresident George Bush’s anti-gay nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. James Holsinger about a 1991 paper Holsinger wrote about the “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality.” During the confirmation hearing, Kennedy called out the nominee for the paper’s “unscientific, biased, and incredibly poor scholarship.” Holsinger was never confirmed for the position.

Recently Kennedy was the chief sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and the fully-inclusive Employment Non-Descrimination Act.

The thing that most impressed me about this family was that these sons of privilege were instilled with the concept of nobilis oblige, and lived out that responsibility well. The United States Senate and our country lost a piece of our heart today with the death of Senator Kennedy, and we will be less for his passing.

John, Robert and Ted Kennedy

John, Robert and Ted Kennedy

From the opening of Faure’s Requiem: “Requiem eternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. (Rest eternal grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them.)”

And You Thought The FL Legislature Couldn't Get Crazier

 Featured, Legislature, Politics  Comments Off on And You Thought The FL Legislature Couldn't Get Crazier
Aug 012009
 

Never sell the wingnut Replublicans in the Florida Legislature short. Last year they were busy saving us all from Automobile Testicles, and tried to eliminate daylight savings time (the logic being it would be less confusing for Senator Bill Posey). So now, two of our distinguished legislators have called for a Florida Constitutional Amendment to prohibit Floridians from participating in, an as yet non-existent, healthcare insurance reform.

So Rep. Scott Plakon and Sen. Carey Baker have introduce a Constitution Amendment that says:florida

To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care:

A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.I called the offices of both.

How very Orwellian of them, protecting your freedom by removing your options. Who is more free than the man who has no obligation to choose?

Tom in Baker’s office tells me that this has no teeth…it’s just designed to send a message to Washington. You know, because the State of Florida has unlimited resources for operating the legislature and conducting elections on things that “have no teeth.”

Now Brandon Delanois in Rep. Plakon’s office was the most entertaining. First, he explained that he was, prior to going to work for the Representative, paying for his own health insurance, and had a plan for only $15.00 per month, but of course, refused to tell me what company was providing plans for only $15.00 per month.

I asked, “so the people who don’t have health insurance…who pays for them when they get sick?” His answer was, “Anyone can go to an emergency room and get care. They won’t turn away anyone.” Of course I pressed him on who he thought paid for that “free” care at the ER. He finally agreed it was taxpayers.

But his argument was that the government should not mandate how people behave, and what choices they make. That the government should not require people to purchase insurance. So I asked him if the Representative would introduce a bill to rescind the law requiring that Florida residents who drive have auto insurance. Well, as you might imagine. according to him, that’s not the same thing.

The jest of what I got out of this is that these two dweebs are merely playing for votes and publicity. I think we should give it to them, and not stop talking about how much it costs the taxpayers to pay for uninsured people, and just how much it costs the taxpayers for each bill that introduced, and what it costs to have a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot. You know, since Florida has so much surplus money floating around.

And You Thought The FL Legislature Couldn’t Get Crazier

 Legislature, Politics  Comments Off on And You Thought The FL Legislature Couldn’t Get Crazier
Aug 012009
 

Never sell the wingnut Replublicans in the Florida Legislature short. Last year they were busy saving us all from Automobile Testicles, and tried to eliminate daylight savings time (the logic being it would be less confusing for Senator Bill Posey). So now, two of our distinguished legislators have called for a Florida Constitutional Amendment to prohibit Floridians from participating in, an as yet non-existent, healthcare insurance reform.

So Rep. Scott Plakon and Sen. Carey Baker have introduce a Constitution Amendment that says:florida

To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care:

A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.I called the offices of both.

How very Orwellian of them, protecting your freedom by removing your options. Who is more free than the man who has no obligation to choose?

Tom in Baker’s office tells me that this has no teeth…it’s just designed to send a message to Washington. You know, because the State of Florida has unlimited resources for operating the legislature and conducting elections on things that “have no teeth.”

Now Brandon Delanois in Rep. Plakon’s office was the most entertaining. First, he explained that he was, prior to going to work for the Representative, paying for his own health insurance, and had a plan for only $15.00 per month, but of course, refused to tell me what company was providing plans for only $15.00 per month.

I asked, “so the people who don’t have health insurance…who pays for them when they get sick?” His answer was, “Anyone can go to an emergency room and get care. They won’t turn away anyone.” Of course I pressed him on who he thought paid for that “free” care at the ER. He finally agreed it was taxpayers.

But his argument was that the government should not mandate how people behave, and what choices they make. That the government should not require people to purchase insurance. So I asked him if the Representative would introduce a bill to rescind the law requiring that Florida residents who drive have auto insurance. Well, as you might imagine. according to him, that’s not the same thing.

The jest of what I got out of this is that these two dweebs are merely playing for votes and publicity. I think we should give it to them, and not stop talking about how much it costs the taxpayers to pay for uninsured people, and just how much it costs the taxpayers for each bill that introduced, and what it costs to have a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot. You know, since Florida has so much surplus money floating around.

Bill Moyers Explains Money, Politics and Healthcare Reform

 Business, Congress, Politics  Comments Off on Bill Moyers Explains Money, Politics and Healthcare Reform
Jul 202009
 

As is so often the case, Bill Moyers does another outstanding job of pointing out the differences in how healthcare is viewed.

I continue to be amazed at the absolute ignorance of people who can’t understand that this version of “free market” healthcare is not, and will not work. In the free-market, companies are out to make a profit. They don’t make a profit by paying for your care. They profit by collecting the highest amount in premiums, and paying out the least amount possible. That may be good for them, and Moyers shows you how good it is, but that doesn’t bode well for me if I fall ill.  Continue reading »

Single Payer Health Care-The Only Option

 Business, Congress, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Single Payer Health Care-The Only Option
Jun 072009
 

Leave it to Bill Moyers to be the voice of sanity in an otherwise insane discussion about healthcare reform.

A recent report showing the majority of bankruptcies in America are healthcare related (and most of those people have healthcare insurance) should be causing Americans to demand that our Congress Critters take a serious look at single payer as the only real way to reform healthcare. But it’s just not happening, and Obama and the Congress have been bought and paid for by the insurance and healthcare industries.

Howie Klein has a rundown of all the money that the people who are blocking real reform in health care have received from the health care industry.

Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $4,026,933)
Max Baucus (DLC- MT- $2,833,731)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $2,758,468)

And when you just go right to Big Insurance, the non-presidential candidates who got the biggest legalized bribes were the 7 senators who have been tasked with the job of killing single-payer:

Ben Nelson (DLC-NE- $1,196,799)
Max Baucus (DLC- MT- $1,184,113)
Joe Lieberman (DLC- CT- $1,036,302)
Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $1,035,530)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY- $981,400)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $929,207)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA- $884,724)

The water-carriers for the health insurance industry (see list above) have managed to mischaracterize the plan as “socialized medicine,” and convince us that we do not want “government bureaucrats” running our healthcare (never mind that these members of Congress have their very own government run, “socialized,” health insurance, and they are doing very well…and not willing to share).

I have written about this before, and just don’t understand why we think we’re better off having an insurance company bureaucrat make our healthcare decisions.It’s important to remember that, as publicly traded companies, insurance companies do NOT have any obligation to keep you healthy or get you well when you get sick. Their one and only LEGAL obligation is to increase shareholder value, and they don’t accomplish that goal by paying your healthcare bills. They do it by finding ways to NOT pay your healthcare bills. So wise-up America. If we want to have a well functioning single-payer option we can. It’s just something we have to demand of our leaders.

But back to Bill Moyers:

Health care reform is coming. Both Congress and President Obama have made it a top priority, and many expect a bill by the fall. Now comes the tricky part — designing and funding a plan. President Obama has outlined broad goals, several competing plans have been introduced in the Congress, and the Republican party recently introduced its own plan.

But Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Sidney Wolfe tell Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL that President Obama isn’t considering a popular plan — single-payer. In a recent town-hall meeting in New Mexico, President Obama said switching to single-payer would be too disruptive.

The term “single-payer” generally means a system in which rather than having private, for-profit insurance companies, the government runs one large non-profit insurance organization. That organization pays all the doctor, drug and hospital bills — it is the “single-payer” of all medical bills. In most single-payer plans, every American would be enrolled and would pay into the fund through taxes…

I know this video is 30 minutes long, but it’s a small investment to make for your future physical and financial well-being.

Healthcare: Government Bureaucrats or Insurance Company Executives

 Congress, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Healthcare: Government Bureaucrats or Insurance Company Executives
Mar 082009
 

Choose your poison.

I don’t know the final best answer to the healthcare crisis in this country, but I know it’s a mess, and it has to be fixed. Bill Clinton tried, but the Republicans were having none of it. Obama is now trying it, and again, the Republicans are doing all they can to protect the status quo. In fact, even some of the Democrats are bought and paid for by the health insurance companies.

I know one thing that is an absolute certainty. This problem will never be solved until the insurance companies and their influence are removed completely from the process. They have every reason to keep things exactly as they are, and nothing to add to the conversation. They are the ones primarily responsible for the mess we have now.

I have heard some really stupid people who keep complaining that they certainly don’t want the government and some bureaucrat to be responsible for their healthcare. Neither do I. I want my physician making those decisions. The problem is, these people, stand around and ignorantly spouting their Rush Limbaugh talking points have no clue what they are saying.

They make these comments to support Republican positions for keeping things as they are. So what they are saying is that they would prefer to have an insurance company executive and/or (if they’re lucky) some med tech or some other low cost healthcare person, making the decision about their healthcare.

I want everyone who holds such beliefs to think about this…the insurance companies, all of which are publically traded, have absolutely no obligation (none, nadda, zilch) to get you or keep you healthy. Their only legal obligation is to increase shareholder value, and they do that by paying for the least amount of care for you they can.

So, when you all are out there mumbling about our great healthcare, and how you don’t want a governmentbureaucrat involved, just know that you’ve placed your help in the hands of a company that is considered to be in the “financial sector” of the enconomy…and how’s that working for you right now?

A Little Religousity Served Up with Your Healthcare

 Congress, Featured, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Science, Society  Comments Off on A Little Religousity Served Up with Your Healthcare
Aug 282008
 

It seems the patients have once again taken over the asylum that is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS is reviewing a draft regulation that would deny federal funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan or other entity that does not accommodate employees who want to opt out of participating in care that runs counter to their personal convictions, including providing birth-control pills, IUDs and the Plan B emergency contraceptive.

So, under this regulation, if a doctor or nurse has some sort of religious objection to you, your lifestyle, you medical condition and/or the treatments associated with those things, they can just walk away and LET YOU DIE. This is further politicization of science that this administration has become famous for, but this one directly affects the health and well-being of American Citizens.

According to a leaked draft of the regulation, which HHS refuses to comment on:

…numerous cases have been reported of health-care workers being “required to violate their consciences by providing or assisting in the provision of controversial medicine or procedures.” It adds that many states have recently passed laws requiring health plans to pay for contraception, pharmacists to fill prescriptions for birth control, and hospitals to offer Plan B to women who have been raped. “In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care industry that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions,” the document states.

So HHS, your government, is more concerned about the religious beliefs and cultural traditions of an individual who CHOSE to go into the medical profession (we don’t have a draft for doctors) than they are in your ability to get the best healthcare procedures.

The complete article can be read on-line at the Washington Post. It’s a very scary article.

Should healthcare workers be able to refuse to provide services they find morally objectionable?

  • No (100%, 7 Votes)
  • Maybe in some cases (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Yes (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Don't Know (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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Sicko

 Culture, Movies, Politics  Comments Off on Sicko
Jul 072007
 

sicko.jpgAcclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore sets out to investigate the American healthcare system. Sticking to his tried-and-true one-man approach, Moore sheds light on the complicated medical affairs of individuals and local communities.

Directed by
Michael Moore

Genres
Documentary

Cast
Michael Moore, et. al.

This was perhaps Moore’s most mature effort. While I’ve appreciated the other films he’s done, Sicko does the best job of explaining our current health insurance system, and dispelling the falsehoods spread by the politicians and the insurance lobby. One can only hope that this will advance the discussion of this topic during an election cycle.

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Sick But True-Healthcare in America

 Congress, General, Politics, Society  Comments Off on Sick But True-Healthcare in America
Nov 102005
 

For some time, the conservative "position" on health care has been a stalwart commitment to the status quo, resisting any proposals for sweeping reform. Two new studies comparing global health data — one by American Progress distinguished senior fellow Tom Daschle, another by the Commonwealth Fund — spell out what this position entails: conservatives apparently are content with a health care system that ranks #37 in the world (behind both developed and developing countries); a system that has the highest rate of medical mistakes, medication errors, and inaccurate or delayed lab results of any of the six nations surveyed by Commonwealth (Australia, Canada, German, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom); and a system that forces fully half of sick adults to report cost-related barriers to needed care. This disparity is not simply about health practices or economics; it is about our most basic values as Americans: our current health care system violates our core commitment to the common good, and betrays the simple notion (articulated by Sen. Daschle) that the "world’s wealthiest country should be its healthiest." (The Center for American Progress, unlike the Bush administration, has developed a real plan for making America healthier. Read all about it, or watch the flash video.)

THE MORAL COST OF THE STATUS QUO: The most substandard element of our health care system is arguably also the most morally troubling. As Paul Krugman explains, "Americans are far more likely than others to forgo treatment because they can’t afford it. Forty percent of the Americans surveyed failed to fill a prescription because of cost. A third were deterred by cost from seeing a doctor when sick or from getting recommended tests or follow-up." That citizens must regularly deny themselves and their families medical care is bad enough; that it happens in the wealthiest country in human history is almost unbelievable.

THE ECONOMIC COST OF THE STATUS QUO: Employment-based health insurance "is the only serious source of coverage for Americans too young to receive Medicare and insufficiently destitute to receive Medicaid," yet it’s becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. The reason? The strain of health care costs for employers is growing, "possibly to a breaking point." The average total premium for an employer-based family plan was $9,979 in 2005, representing nearly the entire annual income of a full-time, minimum-wage worker. The cost of premiums for employer-based plans has outpaced wage growth by nearly fivefold since 2000. According to one report, by 2008, health costs will exceed profits at Fortune 500 companies. Comparing the U.S. system to countries with universal coverage, Sen. Daschle found that "in general, their predictable and broadly-financed costs along with their outcomes — improved health and productivity of workers — tend to benefit their businesses, and give them a competitive advantage over ours."

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Fighting Abroad and Fighting At Home

 Congress, Corruption, Politics, War  Comments Off on Fighting Abroad and Fighting At Home
Nov 102005
 

Tomorrow, America will observe Veteran’s Day in honor of the sacrifice and contributions of the more than 25 million men and women who donned the uniform to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The occasion will surely be marked with remembrance of, and respect for, a future generation of veterans — the 160,000 soldiers fighting in Iraq and another 18,000 soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan. Regardless of the respectable differences that exist regarding the Iraq war, the nation is united in honoring a current generation of soldiers who continue to showcase the courage, bravery, and skill worthy of the honor bestowed upon previous generations of American soldiers. There is increasing widespread concern, however, that as soldiers return from their overseas assignments with physical and mental impairments, the Department of Veterans Affairs may not have the capacity to properly serve them. Because "soldiers in Iraq are surviving wounds that in earlier wars would have been fatal," there will continue to be an increasing need for the Bush administration to provide the necessary resources to "care for those who shall have borne the battle," a mission the administration has not yet properly prepared itself to fulfill.

A NEED THAT HAS NOT BEEN MET: National Adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans, Arthur Wilson, recently wrote, "[I]nstead of honoring its commitment to those whose service and sacrifice have kept us free and safe, our government has launched a devastating assault on benefits for America’s veterans." The frustration results from watching an administration incompetently deal with the need to fund veterans health care and disability services. When President Bush released his annual budget in February 2005, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) said, "If this budget — and its misguided proposals — were enacted, it would devastate VA health care." The American Legion offered similar criticism. A few months later, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) warned, "There is a train wreck coming in veterans’ health care." Rather than address the issue, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson claimed, "I can assure you that VA does not need" additional funds. But then in June, Nicholson came back to Congress and admitted the department didn’t have the sufficient resources to deal with the incoming number of wounded soldiers. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) called it an "embarrassment." The Senate then voted to approve an extra $1.5 billion for veterans’ health care. Yet, given the increasing demand for VA services, the need still has not been fully met.

UNPREPARED FOR PTSD: As soldiers return from the battlefront, many are reporting that they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. "PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after life-threatening events such as combat. Victims often suffer with nightmares, flashbacks, sleeplessness and anger and feel detached or estranged." As one soldier described his experience, "My nightmares are so intense I woke up one night with my hands round my fiancee’s throat." Studies show 20 to 30 percent of combat vets will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and a recent Army study of veterans returning from Iraq suggests that as many as 240,000 could suffer from some degree of PTSD. USA Today reported that more than "one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment." Veterans receiving disability checks for PTSD jumped 80 percent from 1999 through 2004, from 120,000 to 216,000. That increase alone cost the VA an additional $2.6 billion in benefits." Secretary Nicholson seems to recognize the problem, recently stating that many of the wounded "will be in the VA system for the rest of their lives." But whether the VA is ready to make a lifetime commitment to these veterans remains to be seen.

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