Paper Birch Trees wallpaper, Representative Mike Pence (R) Pants Are on Fire

Paper Birch Trees wallpaper

Representative Mike Pence (R) is doing his part to lie America out of health-care reform, The Democrats propose “a government-controlled health care plan that will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage.” Mikey took his numbers and talking points from the Lewin Group – you know an “independent” research group that happens to be a a subsidiary of the health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group.

We’ll grant that Congress could come up with a Medicare-style plan and open it to everyone, but it doesn’t seem likely. Pence appears to be picking the worst number he can choose. And he doesn’t mention the fact that under the scenario laid out by the Lewin Group, people would still have health care coverage and their premiums reduced by 30 to 40 percent. He says the government would “deprive” people of health insurance, when actually the scenario is that they would choose a different option.

Even if you believe that an expansive government health care plan would drive private insurers out of business, that still doesn’t account for Pence’s “deprive” claim, because the Lewin report he cites is focused on people who have chosen the government plan, not people who were left to the government plan after private options disappeared.

[   ]…Given all this background and explanation, we rated Pence’s statement that the government would “deprive” 120 million people of their “current health care coverage” False.

Interesting way to make an argument against reform. Make up a series of programs that will be invented or killed. Throw in some meaningless numbers to the fantasy changes to health-care and use the resulting fairy tale to scare people. Pence and UnitedHealth Group must think America has the collective mentality of a five year old. Or maybe they’re thinking those lies about WMD and Iraq’s imaginary connections to al-Queda worked, why not try the same thing with health-care.

A little background on the type of company that pence and other conservatives think is doing a great job handling health-care, US: UnitedHealth Faces Suit Over Payment System

Cuomo, whose office has investigated the matter for six months, estimated the activity has occurred for about a decade. As an example, he said, UnitedHealth insurers knew most simple doctor visits cost $200 but told members the typical rate was only $77. The insurers then applied a contractual reimbursement rate of 80%, covering only $62 for a $200 bill, leaving the patient with a $138 balance.

Linda Lacewell, who heads Cuomo’s healthcare industry taskforce, accused UnitedHealth of telling an “outright lie” to consumers by claiming it based rates on information from across the country. She characterized the Ingenix database as “garbage in, garbage out,” with insurers sometimes manipulating data before submitting it.

Right Wing Media, Strategists Seize Upon Gates Arrest and Controversy – The president takes time to use what is on balance a rather small incident to say something larger about reaching out to people, crossing class and race divides – only the Right could try and turn such a moment into a bad thing.

The power of right wing media extends far beyond its base because it also influences the mainstream or “liberal” media. CNN and other cable networks compete for Fox viewers by moving rightwards. The network news and Sunday talk shows are much more willing to invite guests from the far right than from even the moderate left or left-of-center. This is also true for National Public Radio and Public TV, although they tend to be more liberal on cultural issues. All of this moves the guests, journalists, and commentators themselves, who want to make sure that they always remain acceptable to the mainstream. There is no comparable countervailing force from the left of center to match the influence of the right. Until that balance changes, the Republican right — even the troglodyte part of its base that worships Rush Limbaugh — will continue to have influence beyond their numbers on national political issues.


Green Leaf Rain Drops wallpaper, Health-Care update

Green Leaf Rain Drops wallpaper

Time to panic. President Obama and health-care reform are sinking in the polls. Only neither is true. TIME Health-Care Poll: Americans Back Reform, Worry Over Details. It worth reading the analysis, but the bottom line in in the headlines, many people are worried about the costs and the details, but “survey respondents remain dissatisfied with the current state of health-care delivery and supportive of reform in principle”. Most Americans till approve of Obama’s job performance. Some of Obama’s small dip in the polls like Gallop ( Rasmussen is a joke) is not because they think he is too far left, but because many liberals are disappointed that Obama is not moving us toward a Canadian style health-care system. It would ultimately be cheaper to have the government administer the insurance/payment side with private doctors and hospitals administering the medical care. This single payer approach is what President Obama’s former physician would prefer. Why the Right keeps linking to stories about him is a mystery since its actually a thoughtful spokesman for single-payer,

Scheiner, who prefers a more progressive approach to reform, was hesitant about trying to divine the president’s motives, although he said he believed that “in his heart of hearts” Obama “may well like a single-payer program.”

“His pragmatism is what is overwhelming him.” Scheiner added: “I think he’s afraid that he can’t get anything through if he doesn’t go through this incredibly compromised program.”

As Scheiner sees it, all alternatives simply fall short. Keeping private insurers in the market, he warns, would simply maintain burdensome administrative costs. He argued further that the pharmaceutical industry is not being asked to make “any kind of significant sacrifices” in the current round of reform negotiations.

“It’s a good question,” Scheiner said, when asked if having watered-down reform become law was better than getting a single-payer system stalled in Congress. “Is something better than nothing? That is a hard one for me. That is a difficult one, because, in the end, I think [Obama’s] program is going to fail.” ( snips from article)

Many of us are in the something is better then nothing camp. I hate the pragmatic political considerations argument, but as much as I hate them, the reality is that Obama could spend the next two years trying to get Congressional support for single payer and get absolutely no where. Politics aside, the president can imagine two years passing with out any progress and accelerating health-care costs. He can be at that point in his presidency saying he tried single payer and failed or claim that at least he made, some obviously hard fought, progress for working Americans.

The Blue Dog Democrats are not the poor vulnerable pols they portray themselves as. They seem driven more by ego and perceptions then any actual pressure to vote far Right, How nervous should those Blue Dogs be?

Yes, some Democrats have to be very careful and not be seen as casting a liberal vote. But they’re a comparatively small number. A very clear majority of these people have won by large enough margins that it sure seems to me they could survive one controversial vote if they [put] some backbone into it.

But many of these folks manage to sell this story line to Washington reporters who’ve never been to these exurban and rural districts and can be made to believe the worst caricatures. I say many of these Democrats are safer than they contend. People need to start challenging them on this.

Call the glass half empty or half full, at the end of the day Obama and Progressive Democrats are not proposing anything more radical then Social Security or Medicare. Two programs that one can find plenty of personal anecdotes about in regards to lost checks or bureaucratic problems, but they’re better run then private enterprises like Blue Cross or CIGNA. Still Blue Dogs continue their little charade and have managed to water down the current version of the public option, but only a little

The substantive changes the Blue Dogs made to the bill are minimal. The original legislation let the public plan use Medicare payment rates for three years, after which point the secretary of health and human services would negotiate rates. Now the secretary negotiates rates from year one. States can set up co-op insurance plans, but in addition to, rather than in lieu of, the public plan. The small business exemption is raised from $250,000 to $500,000. There are some cuts elsewhere in the bill to bring down the cost, but I’m not hearing that they represent anything crucial.

Not exactly deal killer compromises and we’ll have to wait until after the August recess for the Senate vote. The Right-wing noise machine is still running very well on pure bullsh*t so there is that possible downside. The up side is that it gives Obama and Democrats to regroup and start reselling the plan. They need to start highlighting the savings for small business, that health-care costs are running rampant with no end in sight ( Americans like to see companies make a fair profit, not windfalls at their expence) and preventative medicine combined with technology will save every tax payer in the long haul.

Because of twits like Kent Conrad (D-ND) do not be surprised is the public-option gets public relations makeover and they start calling it a co-op.  American farmers have been involved in co-ops since George chopped down that cherry tree, thus the Orwellian cosmetics. Conrad is mistaken if he thinks the numbers for an actual cop-op will pass muster when used for health-care because there is real possibility that insurance companies will cut loose all their high risk insured and force them into co-ops. Insurance companies get to continue reaping huge profits and health-care costs are not driven down. Co-ops are great for apples, office supplies and furniture, but I tend to think actuarial tables will chew up health-care savings.

Health-Care Reform: Busting The Medicare Myths

Christopher Beam has a column up on Slate about health-care reform and the Medicare related myths being spread by the Right. Scaring Grandma

Page 425(pdf) of the House health care bill: The Right is trying to convince the elderly that they must be consulted about how they wish to die. Some how this comes out of right-wing sites such as World Nut Daily that Obama is going to kill old folks. Echoed by veteran enemies of health-care reform like Charlotte Allen.

In fact, the bill says the meeting must include “an explanation by the practitioner of the end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice”—not a recommendation of it. (Emphasis added.) Still, Obama pointed out that it’s not too late to remove the language: “If this is something that really bothers people, I suspect that members of Congress might take a second look at it.”

No wonder the Right wants to give this passage the Pravda treatment, its a twofer. Few people are going to read the actual bill so they get away with portraying Democrats and Obama as death merchants. The language of the actual bill protects patient rights regarding one of the most personal and important decisions people will make in their lives. The bill contradicts the Right’s propaganda about heath-care reform that allows the government controlling every facet of your care.

Betsy McCaughey, another propagandist is red flagging a passage that reads in part ( nothing makes for good spin like lifting a few words out of context) “the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration”. McCaughey claims this says the government gets to kill you when its convenient. She’s not even close, but rumors like this have their way into retirement and nursing homes,

But the bill specifically says that an order to withhold, say, an IV drip, must be one that “effectively communicates the individual’s preferences regarding life sustaining treatment, including an indication of the treatment and care desired by the individual.” In other words, a doctor can’t make you do it.

These subjects are difficult to talk about and to contemplate, but there may come a time that we as patients will have to make decisions about whether we want doctors to go to extraordinary means to extend our lives or to what degree we want them to go. Fear mongering ideologues like Allen and McCaughey want everyone to believe those decisions will be placed solely within the province of government bureaucrats. Democrats and a few enlightened Republicans created Medicare. A program that has, saved lives, improved the quality of life for America’s seniors and extended their life expectancy. Medicare among other progressive accomplishment take pride of place on the Democratic Party’s resume. If nothing else, it makes no political sense for Democrats to undermine a successful program about which they have historical bragging rights.

The bill also addresses concerns about “shared decision making” ( yet another among many passages that undermine the Conservative bull about government control. McCaughey takes consulting with your doctor about all the options available is a form of “coercion”. The health-care reform haters seem to want it both ways: be afraid the government will dictate health-care decisions and be afraid the government mandates that you be aware of all your options. The Right’s final message is just be afraid of anything President Obama does regardless of the facts.

Mr. Beam gets into a little strange spin on Obama’s words during the AARP talk from which Beam draws the quotes,

“[The] thing that I would be most worried about right now is health care inflation keeps on going up and the trust fund in 10 years is suddenly in the red. And now Congress has to make some decisions: Are they going to put more money into Medicare, especially given the deficits and the debt that we already have? Or are they, at that point, going to start making decisions about cutting benefits, but not based on any science or what’s making people healthier—they’re just going to start making it based on politics?”

I’m not sure where Beam sees the fear pandering. Bush gave America the Medicare drug benefit – the one that was a gift to big pharmaceutical companies and took out the competitive pricing component. So we know that Obama is right. Down the road there is plenty of reason to believe that people like McCaughey or Bush will reform health-care based purely on politics. We also know that that corporate America is actually deciding who goes into bankruptcy, and who lives and who dies. Fear of the status quo and fear of more Bush-like corporate pandering are well founded.

Bill Kristol, grand high potentate of all things intellectual on the conservative side of the political aisle thinks that the socialized medicine works well for soldiers, sailors and Marines, but everyone else can swill down some cheap wine and bite on a stick. Kristol is also too lazy to look up a few basic statistics on heath-care costs before he goes on TV to discuss them, Bill Kristol Says Things That Are The Opposite of True

Later in the interview, he says that the Army health-care system — which is fully socialized — is the best health-care system we’ve got, and the reason we can’t give it to all Americans is that it’s too expensive. Socialized medicine, in other words, works. The rest of us just don’t deserve it.

[    ]…”One reason the price of health care is going up so fast is because of government programs,” says Kristol. “The price of Medicare and Medicaid have gone up faster than private insurance. That’s well-documented.”

It is true that the growth rates of Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance are well-documented. But the documentation shows the opposite of what Bill Kristol says it shows. The price of Medicare and Medicaid have gone up much more slowly than private insurance.

Thanks to SadlyNo for Bill “heath-care expert” Kristol’s grasp of statistics, graphs and policy – they’re Kristol Klear. I’ll be burrowing that nickname in the future. Though I still like to imagine Kristol as the General of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders leading a cadre of pajama clad lads dribbling cold coffee over mom’s computer, genuflecting dutifully for every disastrous decision Bush made.

WaPo has a transcript up of the talk President Obama had with AARP in which he bats down most of the myths conservatives are spreading about Heath-care reform and Medicare.

OBAMA: All of this is what health insurance reform is all about: protecting your choice of doctor, keeping your premiums fair, holding down your health care and your prescription drug costs, improving the care that you receive. And that’s what health care reform will mean to folks on Medicare.

And we’ve made a lot of progress over the last few months. We’re now closer to health care reform than we ever have been before, and that’s due in no small part to the outstanding team that you have here at AARP, because you’ve been doing what you do best, which is organize and mobilize and inform and educate people all across the country about the choices that are out there, pushing members of Congress to put aside politics and partisanship, and finding solutions to our health care challenges.

I know it’s not easy. I know there are folks who will oppose any kind of reform because they profit from the way the system is right now. They’ll run all sorts of ads that will make people scared.

This is nothing that we haven’t heard before. Back when President Kennedy and then President Johnson were trying to pass Medicare, opponents claimed it was socialized medicine. They said it was too much government involvement in health care, that it would cost too much, that it would undermine health care as we know it.

But the American people and members of Congress understood better. They ultimately did the right thing. And more than four decades later, Medicare is still giving our senior citizens the care and security they need and deserve.

Columbus Ohio Skyline wallpaper

update: Health Care Reform and the Unpopular T-Word by David Leonhardt, in which he reports the Senate might be considering some kind of tax on health-care benefits. We know that Democrats are great at statistics, but frequently lack the will to fellow through and push the big sale. So how to handle the T word.

Health costs, on the other hand, are growing much more quickly than the economy. Over the last decade, the economy has expanded by about 20 percent, and health spending has ballooned 50 percent. The gap isn’t about to start closing, either.

So no matter what Congress has done to pay for its plans, it can’t keep up.

The numbers show there is only one sure way out of the problem, and, after months of roundabout discussion, that solution has re-emerged: It’s a tax on health care.

[  ]…In the case of health care, they buy — or their employer buys for them — insurance plans that don’t make much of an effort to control costs. Rather than putting pressure on hospitals to root out administrative waste, the plans cover the cost of that waste. They also cover the costs of brand-name drugs that are no more effective than generic alternatives and other kinds of expensive care that do little to improve health.

[   ]…To deal with this political reality, the Senate Finance Committee has become intrigued by a version of a health care tax, being pushed by the Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, that comes dressed up with a whole lot of lipstick. The tax doesn’t fall directly on workers. It doesn’t even fall on employers. It falls on everyone’s favorite villain: health insurance companies.

That shouldn’t be any tougher to sell then the actual reform. Health insurance companies are the health-care industry’s Gold-Sachs/AIG/Bank America. Health insurance companies have become oligopolies with record profits and sky high executive pay.

Health Insurance Giant Like Enron, Tea Smokers Throw Temper Tantrum at Town Meeting

Beautiful Valley Sunset wallpaper

The Right likes to spread urban myths about the horrors of Canadian health-care. I wonder if Canadians tell true stroies about our greed driven corporate rationed health-care, Blue Cross praised employees who dropped sick policyholders

The state’s largest for-profit health insurer told The Times 18 months ago that it did not tie employee performance evaluations to rescission activity. And executives with Blue Cross parent company WellPoint Inc. reiterated that position today.

But documents obtained by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and released today show that the company’s employee performance evaluation program did include a review of rescission activity.

The documents show, for instance, that one Blue Cross employee earned a perfect score of “5” for “exceptional performance” on an evaluation that noted the employee’s role in dropping thousands of policyholders and avoiding nearly $10 million worth of medical care.

WellPoint’s Blue Cross of California subsidiary and two other insurers saved more than $300 million in medical claims by canceling more than 20,000 sick policyholders over a five-year period, the House committee said.

Blue Cross’s use of rescission reminds me of George Bush’s old friend Ken Lay of Enron and how the Right thinks of the average American,

In another conversation apparently recorded around the time of the presidential election of 2000, a trader asks about “all the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers of California.”

The same trader soon talks of the “grandmothers” now demanding refunds from the overcharges.

That prompts a second Enron trader to respond: “Yeah, Grandma Millie, man. But she’s the one who couldn’t figure out how to . . . vote on the butterfly ballot.”

And he adds, “She’s the one that Al Gore’s fightin’ for.”

Another recorded conversation has Enron traders speculating about the advantages of a Bush election, including the elimination of price caps on wholesale electricity and the possibility of naming former Enron Chairman Ken Lay secretary of energy.

Some Democrats are not much better. Why or how the future of heath-care reform came to depend on Sen. Max Baucus(D), Chuck Grassley(R) and Olympia Snowe(R) coming up with a plan is as much of a mystery as why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D) is letting Baucus do his Nero impression. What Is Max Baucus Doing?

That’s created a huge amount of uncertainty at the center of health-care reform. Baucus is the key senator on the key committee. And very few know what he’s doing, or why it’s taking this long, or what the sticking points are. House Democrats are terrified that they’ll take a tough vote on an aggressive health-care reform bill only to see their legs cut out from underneath them when Baucus emerges with a tepid — but bipartisan — alternative. Senate Democrats are furious that Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe have had more of a role in the process than they have. And above all, everybody is confused.

Reid could, metaphorically speaking of course, knee cap Baucus, but because of this entrenched beltway mentality that puts seniority and hill power plays above doing what’s right, he will just let Max play games. Most Americans and a vast majority of Democrats support heath-care reform. A public-option isn’t perfect, but its a step in the direction that Max’s party wants him to go. He’s pandering to small subset of very conservative Democrats and corporate interests.

Lead Birther Bill Sponsor Votes To Recognize Hawaii As Obama’s Birthplace. The birthers will live on, just as those people that think the Apollo moon landing was staged on a back lot in Houston. Though it takes a lot of wind out of their sails when even the birthers in Congress give it.

The House resolution to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood — which included language recognizing the state as President Obama’s birthplace, in a none-too-subtle jab at the Birthers — passed this evening by a 378-0 vote.

Recently Senator Sen. McCaskill(D-MO) sent someone from her office to have townhall type meeting to get public feedback on health-care reform. It didn’t work out too well because some of the crowd was so rowdy they couldn’t have anything that resembled a civil discussion. Sen. McCaskill decided to give it another try and pretty much the same result. In a very strange attempt to make Sen. McCaskill look bad a right-wing blogger named The Gateway Pundit posts two videos of right-wingers disrupting the meeting. The first one shows some people in the back shouting. Making it impossible to actually have a meeting and an exchange of opinion. You can also see quite a few people seating quietly and looking a little peeved that the meeting is being disrupted. This is Gateway’s proof that Sen. McCaskill and her representative are awful people. So moving on to video number two where those tea smokers really show their grasp of the facts, their ability to exchange ideas, voice concerns and generally act like civilized human beings. The meeting, for some bizarre reason was moderated by a Carl Bearden who belongs to the right-wing astroturf organization Americans for Prosperity. So one woman gets up and angrily protests and I paraphrase from the video ‘ are the members of congress going to be on the same plan they’re asking us to be on’. The video ends there with a round of applause from the astroturfers. Since that blogger and his commenters just thought those videos rocked, we can assume they thought a battle was fought and they won. Those that shout the loudest win. That video was a giant leap for truth and honor in public debate on policy? Only it was short on facts and a brazen display of ignorance. Congress in has a very nice public health plan. An option that is not available to most Americans. That woman and the rest of America is forced to pay for it. Totally unlike the public-health option currently on the table in Congress. Its obvious the Right doesn’t feel the need to acquaint themselves with facts before working up a little hateful rant. It appears that hate is blinding. Two comments from that Gateway Pundit post,

Dead beats and poverty pimps all want more SLOP. Libtards and morons go along, because they are too stupid to see where it leads.
So they all follow the Pied Piper to Marxtown, where their gravy train unloads them into collective farms.
SURPRISE LIBTARDS, there is no free lunch, there is no FREE HEALTH CARE, you are DEAD WEIGHT, you will be eliminated under MARXISM.
It’s called DARWINISM, also knowns as LIBTARDISM.
gus | 07.27.09 – 10:00 pm

As Bill Maher recently explained the problem with the current health-care plan is that its a sop to corporate greed. We’ll still have Blue Cross around to give people like Gus the shaft.

Those of us who recognized Obama for what he is, 2 years ago, are now only frightened by the slow pace of America recognizing what has happened to them/us.
Banks taken over,
Insurance Companies taken over,
GM and CHRYSLER taken over.
800 BILLION plus interest wasted on LIBTARD PORK.
And Obama wants more.
It’s happened so quickly that DUMB FUCKS have not caught up to it yet.
gus | 07.27.09

Didn’t mean to pick on Gus, but he represents a lot of the sentiments expressed. This is your Republican movement and its grasp of facts and issues. Gus and his cohorts had blinders on and ear plugs in place when Reagan seized and bailed-out the Savings and Loan industry. Missouri got almost two billion of that pork, it may have helped a neighbor keep from losing their job or kept Gus’s bank from sinking. Missouri is spending a lot of the stimulus money on transportation projects and the roads those tea smokers used to get to their scream fest. Bush was the first one to initiate help for the auto companies. GM was happy to receive help so that it could reorganize and continue to serve the American owners of millions of GM cars and trucks. GM has also already emerged from bankruptcy. Its expected GM will repay its government debts by 2015. Its as though that far Right blogger, his followers and the deeply obnoxious right-wingers at the townhall meeting live in their own little bubble. I know some Republicans and I swear they are not all like that, but the ignorant, angry and woefully uninformed are the ones driving the conservative movement.

Related to the tea smokers, GOP Answer to ACORN Sounds Alarm on Socialism, But is Laughably Short on Logic and Spellcheck

Lessons in Spin: The CBO Health-Care Report

White House: CBO ‘overstepped’ in its analysis makes for an interesting study in crowd behavior. Those against adding a public option for health-care ( Not a free ride by the way. Those that are eligible will have to pay.) all seem to stop at this partial sentence,

The CBO’s review of the proposal found that “the probability is high that no savings would be realized …(emphasis mine)

Even taken at face value, savings are always in comparison to the cost of something else. In this case the other is health-care industry costs and private health insurance . The insurance your employer might be providing if you’re lucky. That private insurance that you’re lucky to get may not keep you from having medical bills that drive you into bankruptcy. Work hard, play by the rules, have insurance and still go bankrupt. If our current heath-care system was a patient it would be on artificial life support. The CBO also said,

..but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized,” Elmendorf wrote.

Republicans would have us believe we’re all in some kind of special world where the first partial sentence exists, but the second does not. The White House is not at war with the CBO, the CBO is not right or wrong. There seems to some honest disagreement.

“As a former CBO director, I can attest that CBO is sometimes accused of a bias toward exaggerating costs and underestimating savings. Unfortunately, parts of today’s analysis from CBO could feed that perception,” Orszag said.

“In providing a quantitative estimate of long-term effects without any analytical basis for doing so, CBO seems to have overstepped.”

The CBO is a great concept and is right more often then not especially when dealing with hard figures. In the case of health-care costs and the public option they’re working with estimates supplied by Congress. The Congressional Budget Office vs. The White House

It’s easy to understand why: The potential savings from IMAC aren’t something you can plug into a formula. After all, the point of IMAC is not that it would implement the best ideas we have in 2009, but that it will give a body of experts the ability to implement the best ideas they have in 2022, and 2034, and 2019, and every other year. CBO can’t guess at what those ideas will be any more than I can. We don’t have the data they’ll be using, we don’t know the technology they’ll be able to employ, and it’s impossible to estimate the political climate. May as well ask what the top-rated NBC show will be in 2029.

Which makes it a bit strange that the CBO attached any numbers to its long-term predictions at all. The agency is usually quite conservative in its estimates: When faced with an unknown, it generally admits that it doesn’t know. In this case, it confronted the unknown and came back with a pretty specific set of predictions, albeit predictions qualified by a lot of caveats.

Ezra Klein has an advantage over most oof us being a health-care wonk so I found an example of the kind of thing that Ezra, the White House and Peter Orszag (the former director of the CBO – Congressional Budget Office) are talking about in terms of unknowns in the future, that will supply savings that are diffcult for the current CBO to estimate, thus the caveats. OMB Director Questions Insurance Giant’s Approach to Reform

The report, describing an experiment conducted in 2001, found that the software reduced consumption of medical services by 6.1 percent. Almost all of the savings were in the hospital setting.

[  ]…What the study means for the debate over a government-run health insurance option isn’t clear.

Aetna had nothing to do with developing the software. It began using it in 2002 and bought the company that developed it in 2005. Aetna has already brought the software to bear on 19.2 million people — members of its own health plans and others.

If a government-run health plan developed the proper infrastructure, it could use the software, too, Reisman said.

Between innovations like the software which analyzes patients’ medical records and the downward pressure brought about with the public option it is difficult for the CBO to accurately gauge the depth of savings. If trying to insure more Americans, save Americans from medical related bankruptices and putting preesure on the health-care  and health insurance industry to be more cost effective is socialism, then the word has lost all meaning. Everyone can safely ignore anyone that uses the S word in the health-care debate since they do not have a clue what they’re talking about. In the case of elected officials, Republican or Democrat, they usually get a fair sum of money from big health insurers and big pharma.

That Republicans are taking a report on health-care riddled with cautions as gospel is absurd in face of other CBO reports that used much more solid numbers to make projections. The CBO praised the stimulus package (Recovery Act) passed by Democrats which Republicans are still whining about – Congressional Budget Office compares downturn to Great Depression. Some of those funds are not being used wisely, but that is another issue. Previously Republicans claimed that CBO figures for the costs of Iraq were off. Which gives them a perfect score on Iraq – they also claimed we’d be greeted as liberators, mission accomplished and it would only cost a few billionGOP Scoffed At CBO Score For Iraq That Was Twice The Cost Of Health Care

When the CBO predicted in 2004 that Bush’s new tax and spending proposals would produce deficits of $2.75 trillion over ten years, a spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget declared that ”even CBO would admit we don’t honestly know what these numbers will look like 10 years from now.” ( that 2.8 trillion figure is actually low)

That same year, the Bush administration pushed forward with its plans for Medicare Part D despite the fact that its internal cost estimates were $139 billion more than those offered by the CBO. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee had worked diligently to defeat the attempts of their Democratic colleagues to make those estimates public.

In a similar vein, conservatives were beside themselves when the CBO refused to run the 2004 Bush tax cuts through various economic models to see if the government could, in the end, make money by stimulating spending. Rather, the CBO used a “static” method and found $1.2 trillion worth of deficits through the next decade. Republicans, naturally, largely ignored the findings.

The numbers for the nation’s taxes and expenditures, as well as the projected costs of occupying Iraq are easier to tackle then a new program and changes to an old one like Medicare. When Bush and Republicans rejected those CBO numbers they knew that were spinning. Bush and conservatives knew they were on the way out. Thinking only of the future of the Republican party and knowing that only getting their fiscal house in order would have meant rising some revenue, they left the mess for Democrats to clean up. To some degree history repeats its self. Reagan and Bush 41 left the economy in tatters, and while it took almost two terms Bill Clinton cleaned up the mess as best he could.

Mountain Village wallpaper, Health-Care Costs Bad for Business, Cheney Proposed Domestic Use of Military

Mountain Village wallpaper

So Republicans have plan to sabotage America’s business sector, kill jobs and make working class Americans feel guilty for getting sick. That may or may not be the direct result of their bitterness about being voted out of power or their unhinged hatred of anything that resembles progressive, such as health-care reform. Health Care Cost Growth Hurts Nation’s Economic Performance

The study found that excess growth in health care costs has adverse effects on employment, output and value added to GDP in the U.S., and that these effects are greater for industries where high percentages of workers have employer sponsored insurance. For example, the study estimated that a 10% increase in excess health care costs would reduce employment by about 0.24 percent in an industry such as motor vehicles, where about 80% of workers have ESI, compared with about 0.13% percent drop in the retail trade, where about one-third of workers have ESI. Economy-wide across all the 38 industries, a 10% increase in excess health care costs growth would result in about 120,800 fewer jobs, $28 billion in lost revenues, and about $14 billion in lost value added.

Many Republicans on some subjective level honestly feel they love the U.S.A. though for most of the last fifty years many Republicans have also loved the U.S.A. the way abusive parents love their children. Its a twisted and destructive kind of love that is willfully blind to the damage they do. Trying to sabotage any progress reforming  health-care in America is just another unconscionable example.

In Conservative logic there is the premise that goes round and round – “Obama said something socialist-sounding, therefore/Obama IS a socialist, therefore/Socialism is whatever Obama does” (from A Layman Attempts To Understand Wing-Nut Psychology). So appointing “czars”, you know like Bush did,  plays right into that little circular game, Fox News Poll Propels Myth About Obama “Czars”

Last week, ThinkProgress noted that Fox News reporter Wendell Goler thoroughly debunked conservative fearmongering about President Obama’s supposed 30 czars, which they often claim “don’t need to be confirmed by the Senate.” “There is no constitutional issue” and many of these “czars” are “confirmed by the Senate,” reported Goler. Despite this, a new Fox News poll asserts that “Obama has appointed over 30 czars” and “Czars are advisors to the president who work outside of the cabinet and do not have to be confirmed by the Senate”:

Many of these “czars” have regular titles just as they have in previous administrations (Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy), but for reasons unknown to those of us that live outside Area 51, have suddenly been referred to as czars. The czar thing doesn’t really fit the socialist narrative since it was the czars the Russian Revolution removed from power. Not the first far Right narrative that did not make sense.

Bush Weighed Using Military in U.S. Arrests

A decision to dispatch troops into the streets to make arrests has few precedents in American history, as both the Constitution and subsequent laws restrict the military from being used to conduct domestic raids and seize property.

The Fourth Amendment bans “unreasonable” searches and seizures without probable cause. And the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally prohibits the military from acting in a law enforcement capacity.

Not surprising news considering the Chicken-Little fever that BushCo and the Right suffer from to this day. Bill Mahr and Jon Stewart have both done shows satirizing the Right’s view of terrorists as super human – our home grown murdered, rapists, kidnappers and arsonists are frail amateurs compared  to terrorists so there is no way the police and FBI could handle them. Cheney advocated and Bush at least entertained the idea of sending in something like the 101st Airborne to nap six terror suspects – all now in a domestic jail by the way. Why did Cheney even consider the bizarre possibility that the administration could trample over the Constitution. Because neocon enabler John Yoo said presidents have unlimited war time powers.

Another Conservative Hypocrite Hoist On His Own Petard– Paul Stanley (R-TN). Stanley took pictures of the young woman with whom he was having an affair. Must have been mementos destined for the family values album.

Health-Care Reform, the Media and Groupthink

Antiqued Compass wallpaper or an accurate modern compass in a traditional casing.

Nate Silver nails the current media created atmosphere about health-care reform and the Obama presidency, The Healthcare Timeout is Fine

I don’t think the media has a liberal bias or a conservative bias so much as it has a bias toward overreacting to short-term trends and a tendency toward groupthink. The fact is that there have been some pretty decent signals on health care. Yes, it has stalled in some committees, but it has advanced in others; yes, the Mayo Clinic expressed their skepticism but also the AMA — surprisingly — endorsed it; yes, the CBO’s Doug Elmendorf got walked into a somewhat deceptive and undoubtedly damaging line of questioning about the measure’s capacities on cost control, but also, the CBO’s actual cost estimates have generally been lower than expected and also favorable to particular Democratic priorities like the public option. This all seems pretty par for the course, even if you wouldn’t know it from reading Politico or Jake Tapper, who giddily report on each new poll telling us the exact same thing as though there’s some sort of actual news value there.

The media likes to talk about “momentum”. It usually talks about the momentum in the present tense — as in, “health care has no momentum”. But almost always, those observations are formulated based on events of the past and sloppily extrapolated to imply events of the future, often to embarrassing effect: see also, New Hampshire, the 15-day infatuation with Sarah Palin, the Straight Talk express being left for dead somewhere in the summer of 2007, the overreaction to “Bittergate” and the whole lot, and the naive assumption that Obama’s high-60’s approval ratings represented a paradigm shift and not a honeymoon period that new Presidents almost always experience.

At any given time there are political events, posturing, maneuvering and sound bits. The press always feels a compulsion to boil things down into a horse race-like scenario. It is actually possible for important events to  Nate may not think is a conservative bias, but the horse race theme just happens to benefit conservatives. Only conservatives have unapologetic media outlets like in the print media and most of AM radio. Conservatives have a 24/7 cable network that echoes right-wing talking points. Health-care reform is one of the biggest changes to our economy since the New Deal. Having witnessed how unhinged conservative were when they controlled every branch of government, how could anyone, especially in the media not know that any and every bit of legislation backed by this administration would be portrayed as the end of the world as we know it. When NBC’s David Gregory announces that “Obama’s health-care” plan has had a set back, that is a watered down media groupthink version of this reform stuff is nut’n but trouble. Its July and while many Democrats like myself are not thrilled with some of Obama’s policies I’m still in a little shock that considering the state of the media – where conservatives still out number saner POVs – that Obama was even elected president. Which ties in with John Nichols latest post in which he argues that Obama should look at winning health-care reform the way he won his office.

The president is beginning to understand something that he should have recognized long ago: There is a consensus on the need for healthcare reform. But there is no consensus on the scope and character of that reform.

As the Washington Post notes, “public opinion (is) still waiting to be shaped on healthcare” and “the legislative details (are) in flux.”

Obama, alone, must forge the latter consensus.

He cannot wait for competing House and Senate committees to reconcile their various proposals and then present the White House with a turn-key program for providing healthcare to all while controlling costs.

This is not a change that will come from Congress.

We all get Democrats in Congress. They write a great sternly worded letter. They’re very civilized, almost to a fault. Obama showed Democrats the way when he declared,

“I’m rushed because I get letters every day from families that are being clobbered by healthcare costs, and they ask me can you help,”

Call it good old Democratic populism or putting the debate in terms of working class bread and butter issues. Obama does seem to get it, now America just needs for that light to go off in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s head – among others. A recess might be good for everyone. It will give America time to separate right-wing spin from fact and Democrats time to sharpen their message and address Main Street’s concern.

Black and White Riverbank City Skyline wallpaper

Black and White Riverbank City Skyline wallpaper

There are legitimate grieves to have with President Obama, but the abuse of signing statements doesn’t seem to be one of them, President Obama Has NOT Broken His Promise re Signing Statements. While Congressman Barney Frank took exception to one that might have been more a case of Bush signing statement fatigue having worn a sore spot with Congress. Then are fine points and Grand Canyon sized differences between the way Bush used them versus the way Obama has used them. Not exactly a hot button issue for most folks considering our currents economic hurdles and continued foreign entanglements. Over the course of a presidency the small things tend to add up as the conservative and corporate media writes its own narrative that then becomes the conventional wisdom. The way the Right plays the issue of signing statements reminds me of the way they’ve tried to distort the rendition issue. Clinton used renditions thus Bush’s were legal. Clinton used ordinary renditions in the exchange of suspected criminals, while Bush used extraordinary renditions to export suspects to outsource torture. In 2006 the ABA Blue Ribbon Task Force found that Bush did abuse the use of signing statements,

[T]he use, nature and frequency of [President Bush’s] signing statements demonstrates a “radically expansive view” of executive power which “amounts to a claim that he is impervious to the laws that Congress enacts” and represents a serious assault on the Constitutional system of checks and balances.

At no time during Bush’s reign did a tea smoking conservative organize any rallies to protest to Bush’s abuse of executive power. One of many reasons its impossible to take their corporate sponsored agenda seriously.

The Right seems to be continuing its breakdown, doubling up on the kool-aid, In Bill O’Reilly’s Sights or Bill O’Reilly and His Deranged Mob go after a journalist,

Last week I was greeted with an uncomfortable curiosity: a brace of hate mail in my inbox, received within a 20-minute span. The first came at 7:26: “You are an uneducated writer! You need to get your fact straight! You are a liberal bastard! You need to get informed!” All arguable propositions, perhaps, but that still left the question: why was this person realizing that precisely now, and why, two minutes later, did “Dr. Anthony” feel moved to inform me, “I’ve noticed a trend that left-wing extremists tend to be exceedingly ugly & perverse. Living with that ugliness & deviance seems to lead to an aberration of thought as well. I am attempting to formulate the correlation…”

And then, while he did, as if on a schedule, another deluge hit some three hours later, the messages several notches more frightening:

“Your a piece of s—. we will hunt you left wing libs down one by one. you lieing piece of trash.”

“So perlstein,whats your problem with Fox and conservatives. you jews should be dancing on the have control of the government,obama,congress, senate….”

Considering the influence O’Reilly has on people’s behavior, Mr. Perlstein might want to take some extra security precautions.

House Speaker Pelosi is not as out of touch with working class Americans as Sean Hannity, but her reluctance to ruffle the feathers of people that $350,000 or more a year is a little strange. Executives Receive One-Third Of All Pay In The U.S., But Congress Is Still Afraid Of A Surtax. That figure might be marginally justified if said executives did one third of the work, made one third of the products we make, provided one third of the services the nation consumes or had some really great ideas( ones that usually come from scientists and engineers), that were worth that much, but they don’t.

In the five years ending in 2007, earnings for American workers rose 24 percent, while the highest-paid saw a 48 percent increase. So as Kevin Drum noted, “in other words, the executives got a 48% increase, the rest of us got approximately nothing, and it all averaged out to 24%.”

The U.S. is supposed to be the place where being decent and hard working pays off, not where those virtues leave most Americans running in place.

Does being a Blue Dog Democrat mean doing nothing because the evil you know is better then something that causes sticker shock, Blue Dog Ross’s Conundrum: Should He Battle Health Bill That Could Benefit His Depressed Town?

Rep. Mike Ross, who grew up in this tiny town of 3,600, represents residents like 62-year-old Sandy Barham, a restaurant owner with a heart ailment who can’t afford health insurance for herself or her employees.

“I can’t tell you the stress of living on the edge, just wondering, ‘Am I going to get sick?'” she said in an interview at the Broadway Railroad Café, where fried catfish with hush puppies is a popular feature. “I feel embarrassed, almost, when I go to the doctors and tell them I don’t have insurance.”

Many people in and around this economically depressed town can’t afford insurance…

Ross admits that is our health-care system does not get a major fix it will “bankrupt” this country. The insuance industry will continue to jack up rates, more people will have no insurance and even people with insurance will be financially ruined.

The economy is taking a toll on health care on Prescott. Two in 10 residents have no health care insurance, and those who do have coverage have seen their premiums skyrocket by 80 percent since 2000, according to data compiled by Ross’ office.

Raising Deductibles

Locally owned J.D. and Billy Hines Trucking Inc. has had to raise the deductible on its family policy to $2,000 to keep premiums, now $336 a month for employees, from rising faster. At her restaurant, Barham sometimes hears patrons talking about how they’re going to afford prescriptions. “They’ll say, ‘I’m going to get half my medication,” she said.

That sounds like a basic heath policy. The kind that people do not realize is nearly no insurance when a serious heath issues arises in their family. In a year the policy holder pays that first $2000, then 20% of everything over that. many of these policies also have ceilings. If the bill goes over say $35,000 the insured is responsibility for everything over the limit. For rural working class towns that means those with insurance, folks making $18 dollars and less an hour, will be in for some hard times.

The Human Side of Health-Care Reform

The good old days

I like my statistics as much as anybody when trying to defend my stands on policies, but sometimes the human side of the story can make an impact where statistics cannot, More South Carolina residents losing health insurance

After 25 years with the same company, Andy Stark lost his job and his health insurance.

While he found other work, it paid 30 percent less and had no benefits.

Then his wife got cancer.

Now the Simpsonville couple is struggling to pay medical bills they expect will total about $140,000.

“This is not the way things should be in America,” Andy Stark said.

In South Carolina, 670 people a week lose their health coverage, according to data from Families USA. In the decade ending in 2008, premiums soared 119 percent, increasing costs to employers and workers and adding to the spiraling cost of health care, according to the nonprofit group.

Canadian Shona Holmes, with the help of the instant activism organizations created by conservative, such as the Patients United Now has become something of the anti-public option heroine. Her bizarre horror story of Canadian public health-care spread far and wide via right-wing net sites and of course Fox. It turns out that Holmes is a liar, but has also acquired a semi-medical condition called Shoot Yourself in the Foot Syndrome, Another Healthcare Lie, and the Lying Liar That’s Telling It

Back in the Summer of 2007, the propaganda machine at the Mayo Mayo Clinic decided to print Ms Holme’s human interest story in an internal Clinic publication.  Her healthcare horrors served nicely as a double-sided win for Mayo. On one side was the sweet story about the Clinic’s responsiveness to Ms Holme’s plight as well as the Clinic’s ample expertise in repairing her medical problem. Secondly, it served as a bonus dig against the growing call for Public Healthcare in the U.S. by painting the Canadian system in a negative light.  After all, the mere words “Public Healthcare” are the bane of the usery Private Insurance companies and Hospitals administrators alike.

[  ]…Additionally, the direness in the retelling of Ms Holmes’ story grew progressively more horrifying after the Presidential election and as the Healthcare battle began to percolate.
Horror stories of waiting non-specific “months” for treatment in Canada soon gave way to claims of four to  six month delays (an experience 180 degrees contrary to that of the scores of Canadians I’ve personally seen or heard quoted on the subject).

She had a cyst ( a couple of my relatives have had them and managed to survive with out all the melodrama), not a tumor. The sad lesson of the story is that because she panicked and took off for the Mayo Clinic she is now deeply in debt having had to raise $100,000 to pay Mayo. Maybe that is why we’re seeing so much of Holmes lately, she’s thinking that she can pay off her debts courtesy wing-nut welfare. Media matters also debunks the Shona Holmes/Patients United Now urban myth and adds some sad facts about the current state of U.S. health-care,  Patients United Now Ad: Strong On Emotion, Weak On Facts

Rather Than Waiting In Line, Americans Simply Do Not Get Care. As Ezra Klein argues in the Los Angeles Times, “although Britain and Canada have decided that no one will go without, even if some must occasionally wait, the U.S. has decided that most of us who can’t afford care simply won’t get it.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/09, emphasis added]

Without COBRA Or Other Health Coverage, People “Are More Likely To Forgo Needed Medical Care And Incur Medical Debt.”  A December 2008 report released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured stated: “many workers find that after losing a job they are not able to afford the premiums required to continue employer-sponsored insurance through COBRA…Without insurance, these adults are more likely to forgo needed medical care and incur medical debt. They are also at risk of having their health problems treated as pre-existing conditions if they later regain employer-sponsored coverage.”  [, accessed 1/14/09]

The debate as Media matters and others have pointed out is false one where Democrats are pushing for a Canadian single-payer plan versus good old die of cancer because you can’t afford health-care. Democrats are pushing for a public option, not Canadian style health-care.

Also from MM, NY Times ignores House health bill’s exemption protecting small businesses

The New York Times reported that House Democrats’ health care bill levels “a payroll tax — as much as 8 percent of wages — on employers who do not provide health insurance.” But the Times did not note the bill’s exemption protecting small businesses.

Whether its the citizens of the U.S. deciding to pool their resources to get health-care for almost everyone, a corporation’s restructuring plans or a military’s strategics battle plans, the best plans are going to hit some snags or things might even going smoother then predicted. The point is there is no evidence, but plenty of right-wing and insurance industry propaganda, that a public health option would not be good for the country in the long term.

“A Public Plan Would Provide An Essential Option” For Americans.  Harold Pollack, public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies, wrote in an op-ed: “A public plan would provide an essential option–and an equally essential backup–for millions of Americans living with chronic illnesses or disabilities.” [The New Republic, 3/10/09]