Category Archives: healthcare

The Hypocrisy of Risk Management

Listening to the snorting pigs on right wing radio, in the wake of the Japan earthquake / tsunami / nuclear meltdown situation, these hypocritical pigs scramble to lay cover for their beloved cash cow, the nuclear energy business.

Heard a fat bozo to remain unnamed saying how all energy comes with risk, oil, coal, natural gas explosions, cave ins, and nuclear is just like any other. The pig man said that whiny liberals want to create a fantasy realm where there are no accidents and we all live in a clean fairy land.

Wait a minute Miss Lippy…when you have a dangerous money making venture you got a responsibility to assess that risk!! You get out there and you clean up your messes!!

No so fast junior. Instead do a fake assessment of risk, make as much money as possible, and lawyer up. Piggo says all energy all has risk….wait a second pighead, how about your precious insurance companies?? You give them the liberty to assess risk all day long, so that in the name of profit, they say some risks, like pre-existing conditions, are just too darn risky.

If Pig-run insurance companies can assess risk and act accordingly, then why can’t we the people do the same? Fossil fuels and nukes are pre-existing conditions, and we should begin to wean ourselves from them, so that those energy sources with less risk, solar, wind, can pay us back a fat profit, which is of course the earth, in one piece. Clean energy is betta, it makes the earth silky and smooth.

Stop looking at me, swan.

Pre-existing Conditions (ANOTHER FREE SONG!)

Prepare for a whole new dimension in Reefercake productions…presenting Mrs. Reefercake on the Drums!!

Pre-existing conditions

Last friday on the Majority Report, someone IM’d about Huntington’s disease…also said they liked my song “how’d you get that job?” but that is beside the point…They were worried about getting tested, because they could be nailed with a pre-existing condition.

I am obsessed with healthcare system, kind of how sammy is obsessed with social security. I googled around and found this. The situation is pretty fucked up – essentially you

need to hide and lie and play games….

http://www.lkwdpl.org/hdsa/hdtest.htm

from this site…
“Are the test results confidential?

Test results should be kept confidential and should only be given to another person with your written permission. On an initial call to a testing center, you should ask how confidentiality is ensured.”

so go and get the test, but make sure the place is confidential and only get a claim in for your insurance, if your test comes up clean.

If you do test positive for the huntington’s disease gene, don’t submit the claim, and keep if confidential. Also keep in mind, that marijuana has been effective in treatment, so keep hope alive, there are treatments. Best wishes.

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Tardball

HA! I forgot about this… Here’s legendary nitwit Chris Matthews berating Alan Grayson not two short months ago about Grayson’s assertion that health care reform would ultimately get passed via reconciliation.

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It’s almost as if Matthews has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. Unpossible!

Meanwhile, Grayson is now up to 80 House co-sponsors of his Medicare For All bill with 40,000 petition signers. Have you signed the petition yet?

Relatedly, here’s a nice summary by Robert Reich about the philosophical roots of the HCR legislation that was passed last night…

Medicare built on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal notion of government as insurer, with citizens making payments to government, and government paying out benefits. That was the central idea of Social Security, and Medicare piggybacked on Social Security.

Obama’s legislation comes from an alternative idea, begun under the Eisenhower administration and developed under Nixon, of a market for health care based on private insurers and employers. Eisenhower locked in the tax break for employee health benefits; Nixon pushed prepaid, competing health plans, and urged a requirement that employers cover their employees. Obama applies Nixon’s idea and takes it a step further by requiring all Americans to carry health insurance, and giving subsidies to those who need it.

So don’t believe anyone who says Obama’s health care legislation marks a swing of the pendulum back toward the Great Society and the New Deal. Obama’s health bill is a very conservative piece of legislation, building on a Republican rather than a New Deal foundation. The New Deal foundation would have offered Medicare to all Americans or, at the very least, featured a public insurance option.

I’m not posting this in order to be (too) cynical about the new legislation.  As Reich notes, the larger political significance is the rebuke of Reaganism, which I can fully appreciate.  But it’s not nearly enough, which is why it is so critical that Grayson continues to push Medicare For All.

UPDATE:

Noam Chomsky’s take on the bill.

H.R. 4789

Alan Mother-Fucking Grayson…

Will somebody please put this man in charge??? Can you imagine if this had been the health care plan that Democrats were pimping from the get-go? All the bullshit fretting and hand-wringing and, quite frankly, republican empowerment we could have avoided. But instead, Democrats act like Republicans, Republicans hypocritically demonize them for doing their dirty work, and the rest of us get disgusted and turn off politics. You’d think that the Democratic Party would somehow cease to exist if the insurance/drug company money suddenly dried up.

(via)

UPDATE:

Tom Mother-Fucking Tomorrow

Embrace Failure Open Thread

I tried to watch some of the Health Care Summit on teevee yesterday, but it was fairly unwatchable, not least because of the cable channels. It wasn’t on C-SPAN – later I learned they buried it on C-SPAN3 (seriously? not even 2?) – so I landed on CNN, who managed to cut away to their gasbags every time one of the non-leadership Democrats started to speak. Then at the break they told me that what I was seeing from Republicans was “an honest difference of opinion”.

Anyway, this is a nice compendium of the things I missed thanks to commercials and Wolf’s talking beard. I must say, I did not know Rochester’s Louise Slaughter was a suthna.

And just as a side note to the whole stupid idea of this summit, which seems to be nothing more than a prelude to using reconciliation (aka majority rule) to pass healthcare reform – can you imagine if republicans felt the need to do the same thing prior to passing the tax cuts? The average person has no idea those things passed with a mere majority vote. Furthermore, nobody gives a shit! Just Pass The Damn Bill!

Update: See also, Greg Sargent

Take action before all the Democratic Senators Resign

The public option is making a comeback thanks to Michael Bennet and three other brave senators. Contact Harry Reid now before all the Democratic Senators resign because Republicans are hurting their feelings. Maybe those of you popular enough to have more than 20 facebook friends can post this as well.

And here’s a little commentary on Evan Bayh, the latest Repub- er, Democrat to announce he will be leaving the Senate.

We are all Ron Burgundy now

The Choakely loss is the best thing that could have happened to this horrific healthcare reform effort.  I say that for no other reason than that it will push us across the finish line.  We’ve been subjected to this shit for the last 9 months, drowning out all the other (major, growing, worsening) problems like unemployment, foreclosures, wars, you name it.  It’s time to put it to bed and move on.  Sad as it is, I find the new political calculus to be extremely clarifying.  Here are the facts as I see them:

  1. The Senate bill is nothing short of a major disappointment for all right-thinking progressives everywhere.
  2. Given GOP obstructionism, there is absolutely no way in hell another comprehensive bill gets to the Senate floor for a vote.  That ship has now sailed.  Permanently and forever.
  3. Congressmen are worthless assholes.

Granted, all three of these points are major negatives.  However, thanks to number 2, the issue is now binary: is the Senate bill better or worse than the status quo? We no longer have the luxury of debating the relative merits of various proposals.  There is only one choice left.  Does the House pass the Senate bill or not?

Consider that the Democrats will never again have the kind of majorities they have right now.  No matter what happens, it’s as good as gone in ten short months.  They took half-assed measures to combat a horrible economic climate, and for that they will be rightfully punished.  More accurately, we’ll all be punished, with Republicans.  But before that happens, they have to leave the people with something meaningful.  Otherwise they serve no purpose – why even have two political parties?  Can they really be that pathetic as to pass nothing at all?

Alarmed by the nonstop posts from Josh Marshall about House Democrats in disarray, I called my Rep yesterday to find out where he stood.  The intern had the gall to tell me that Sarbanes is a strong supporter of the public option and is waiting to see what happens to the bill after it comes out of conference.  Look, pal, I hate to spoil this for you, but I hope the conference bill is made out of two-ply so the Republicans won’t chafe their asses when they use it to wipe.  Even though they already passed one bill, the Senate still requires another cloture vote for the merged bill, and the Republicans have made it eminently clear that it’s not going to happen.  Therefore, who gives a shit what happens to it in conference?  I shudder to think how much worse the bill would have to become in order to get a Republican vote.  I’m guessing drastically reduced subsidies for the poor, because what else is there left to take?

So back to the question at hand: does the Senate bill improve the current state of healthcare for Americans or make it worse? And there’s really no question that for tens of millions of unlucky bastards, it’s an improvement.  So if you’re a Democrat in the House, you have to take the teabags out of your eyes and pass this fucking bill.  Right now they’re acting like Ron Burgundy when first presented with a plate of cat poop: denial.  I’m here to say, you put that cat poo in your mouth!  The insurance company hacks managed to drag this thing out long enough and by god, they did it.  They killed the public option!  It’s fucking dead.  Recriminations all around.  But guess what.  The so-called “public option” that was on the table was never anything more than a progressive fig leaf, something to distract from the absence of true single payer.  The proposals on the table were all weak as hell and were always going to require additional legislation to improve and expand.  So it is with this bill.  And the Senate bill puts us in a better future position than no bill at all.

One thing I’ll say about the rude awakening that Democrats received this week, it shook everyone out of their comfort zone.  Nothing wrong with the noises I’m hearing about fixing this or that poison pill in reconciliation.  The House seems so righteously pissed about having to eat the poop that I think odds are better that they’ll actually make it right.  Probably wishful thinking, but put it this way… if the Senate bill does in fact have as many shitty parts as everyone lets on, then there’ll be that much more motivation to fix it.  Hell, things got so hot for Nelson over his “Cornhusker Kickback” that he’s been preemptively begging them to take it out.  How often does that happen?

Here’s another reason I like the new situation, as opposed to what we were facing a mere week ago.  With 60 votes off the table, Nelson and Lieberman and the rest of the jackass caucus become instantly irrelevant.  I can’t be the only one who fully expected Lieberman to screw us over and turn Republican at the final cloture vote, WWF-style, with a folding chair to Harry Reid’s head as he crossed the aisle.  The supermajority actually empowers too many assholes, and in fact emboldens the GOP to be completely obstructionist.  Because after all, “Dems have 60 votes, it’s not our fault they’re incompetent!” is pathetic, but had a point.  Now I think (hope) we’ll see more legislation that forces them to make tough votes.  For instance, I dare them to filibuster bank reform.

OK, now I’m rambling.  All I’m saying is, despite all the angst coming from the netroots this week, I actually expect the Democrats to absorb these blows and come out swinging after Wednesday’s State of the Union address.  If they do, it will take everyone by surprise, and they’ll get that much more credit for doing something that should have been a goddamn given all along.  And if they don’t, well… I’m Ron Burgundy.  Go fuck yourself, America.

UPDATESteve Benen has the manifesto.

* * * * *

Apropos of nothing, I’m sitting here watching Festival Express on netflix as I type.  Highly recommended… I was going to link Don’t Ease Me In until I realized Pinky posted the very same clip a year ago.  So Buddy Guy gets the nod instead.  Band is hot, so crank the volume up as loud as it goes for this one…

The enemy of my enemy is my fellow technocrat

There’s been a recent outbreak of Blogger Warz!! between two of my favorites, Greenwald and Krugman.  It’s good reading, so I won’t bother excerpting (ok maybe a little).  Greenwald wrote an article discussing Obama advisor and current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, and a recent paper he published regarding preferred methods of government propaganda.  Greenwald:

Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.”  He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government).   This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”  Sunstein’s 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story‘s Daniel Tencer.

Greenwald rightly notes that if it was a Bush Administration official proposing these things, we’d be pissed.  Things start to get hot, however, when later in the article Greenwald makes note of the recently uncovered relationship between “independent health care modeling expert” Jon Gruber and the Obama Administration, namely a $400,000 contract to provide cost estimates on the impacts of various reform proposals.  This is a guy who is an MIT health economist, technical expert and leader in the field.  It’s definitely a good thing that lawmakers are relying on technical experts to help craft new laws that will have sweeping impact on society.  But he has repeatedly failed to disclose his financial ties to the current reform effort, even as he advocates for it (op-eds, NYT, WaPo, etc) and is in turn held out as a technical expert by senators, administration officials, etc, trying to sell their plan.

Krugman leaps to Gruber’s defense (and his own), not because the guy’s actions were particularly defensible, but because the revelations have the potential to be politically damaging in this final hour of healthcare reform.  (These shady things are supposed to come out after the fact, not during!)  He closes with this:

And here’s the thing: by claiming that there’s a huge scandal when nothing worse happened than insufficient care about disclosure, Greenwald and the people at FDL are actually reducing our ability to call foul on real corruption. After all, if everything is a scandal, nothing is a scandal. One of these days, perhaps soon, we’ll have a genuinely corrupt administration again — but when whistleblowers try to call attention to the misdeeds, you can be sure that there will be claims that “even liberals said that Obama did things just as bad or worse.”  The crusade against Gruber is getting really destructive.

As I had hoped, Greenwald responded to Krugman this morning, and pretty much dismantled his argument with the Vulcan logic we’ve come to expect.

For me, this is the nub of the matter.  I couldn’t disagree more with Krugman’s claim here, as he has it exactly backwards.  What will make it impossible to effectively call out wrongdoing by future corrupt administrations (by which Krugman seems to mean:  Republican administrations) is the willingness of some people to tolerate and defend corruption when done by “their side.”  The next time we have what Krugman calls a “genuinely corrupt administration” which, say, secretly pays people they’re holding out as “independent” experts, the administration’s defenders will say:  “how can you possibly object to our doing this when Obama did it, and not only did you fail to object then, but you defended it?”

I don’t expect Krugman will respond further to this, if for no other reason than it will continue to give oxygen to the controversy.  In many ways this dispute epitomizes the burgeoning grudge match on the left between those who are Democratic true believers, and those who are willing to cry foul no matter who is in charge.  I’m sympathetic to both sides (which I previously would not be, had we not just lived through the Bush administration) and am curious what others think about this.  Here’s those links again:

Greenwald argument

Krugman rebuttal

Greenwald rebuttal

UPDATE:

Marcy Wheeler rebuttal, responding to claims from Krugles that she’s a scandal-monger

The Dean has Spoken

Pull the plug!

Yes indeed, this bill is now officially terrible. The obvious outcomes are higher insurance costs for all, millions of people forced to buy overpriced crappy insurance from ‘non profit’ fronts of for profit companies, and millions of pissed off middle class folks that will be forced to buy crappy insurance out of their own pocket. I’m fine with paying higher taxes to expand medicaid and/or medicare, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to support an insurance company giveaway.

Congratulations pussies. You’ve gobbled up all the poison pills they fed you.
I heard Mitch McConnell describe the trajectory of public support for ‘Obama’s’ healthcare plan…it peaked in the late summer/early fall and is now tanking. I guess he didn’t notice that the decline also coincided with all the compromises to the conservatives’ crappy ideas?

I nominate Dean for Hero of the Week for standing up to this shit. Please tell me I’m missing something…

Bernin’ up the floor

Maybe relative to the Clinton’s attempt, we can praise this current round of healthcare ‘reform’ as a step in the right direction. I will not be one of those people. What happened today was classic Republican gaming of the system to avoid a vote on the proposal that makes the most sense, allowing people to buy into Medicare if they want to.

Tonight I give you Bernie ‘the mad socialist’ Sanders:

“The day will come, although I recognize it’s not today, when the U.S. Congress will have to vote to stand up to … all those who profit every single year off of human sickness,” Sanders said. “That day will come.”

Some day, Bernie, but for now rest assured that if you don’t support making a profit off of literally everything, especially human suffering, you are not an American but a wild haired Russia loving socialist. This clip is some classic Bernie.