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A Healthy Start ... With Loopholes

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Posted on Mar 24, 2010
Pelosi and gavel
AP / Lauren Victoria Burke

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds a large gavel as she crosses Independence Avenue en route to the Capitol before Sunday’s House vote on health care reform. Immediately right of Pelosi is Rep. David Obey and immediately left, Rep. John Lewis. Next to Lewis is House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

By Bill Boyarsky

Now that President Barack Obama has signed health reform into law, insurance industry lobbyists will turn their attention to trying to cripple it. This will be done under the pretense of improving the reform proposal—or, as they say in the lobbying business, loving the law to death.

The passage of health reform was a great event. The Republicans who talk about repeal are misreading the public. At the moment, public opinion polling is mixed, but two days after passage, a USA Today/Gallup Poll reported that 49 percent of those surveyed found the measure was “a good thing.” A total of 40 percent said it was bad.

And support will increase as the reform law begins to kick in later this year. Consider these provisions going into effect in 2010:

Children will be allowed to stay on their parents’ policies until their 26th birthday. The “doughnut hole” in the Medicare drug program will begin to close. Small businesses—those with 25 or fewer workers—will receive a tax credit for purchasing health insurance for employees. Insurance companies will be prohibited from canceling policies of those who become ill. The insurers will no longer be permitted to impose limits on the benefits paid during a person’s lifetime. They will no longer be allowed to deny children coverage for pre-existing conditions. (Adults with these conditions will be able to buy insurance from a government-subsidized high-risk pool until 2014, when the practice of denying coverage in such cases at last will be outlawed.)

By 2014, consumers will be able to buy insurance via online exchanges, shopping for the best deal. Government subsidies will help the lower income buy policies. Medicaid will be expanded to cover 16 million working-class people.

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The new law is just a beginning. It has loopholes, as noted in a report being prepared by Consumer Watchdog, a group that has been fighting insurance company abuses for many years.

A huge loophole is the lack of a regulatory mechanism to control insurance company rate increases. The need for such a mechanism was illustrated by the recent rate hikes of as much as 39 percent by Anthem Blue Cross. A bill by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would have given the federal government authority to reject insurance company rate increases, but it failed. States can impose their own regulations, as California is trying to do with a bill approved this week by a legislative committee.

The insurance companies’ major effort to weaken the new health reform law involves a program for seniors called Medicare Advantage.

Conceived several years ago to save money, it has turned into a big money maker for the insurance business. Medicare Advantage offers some policies with more benefits and lower co-payments than Medicare. But members may have a limited choice of doctors or hospitals. “What Medicare Advantage patients get is very slick marketing, bells and whistles like ‘free gym membership’—and tough HMO-style restrictions on doctors and treatment if they happen to fall seriously ill,” said Judy Dugan of Consumer Watchdog.

Most important, the insurance companies that market Medicare Advantage are subsidized by the Medicare program. This is a major reason for rising Medicare costs. The subsidies make Medicare Advantage 14 percent more expensive for the taxpayers than regular Medicare. President Obama has called the subsidy “a waste,” and the new reform law reduces the subsidy by $132 billion over 10 years. These savings would finance other important parts of health reform, such as expanding Medicaid.

The Republicans have jumped on this, accusing Obama of taking money from Medicare to help the poor. Republican senators have been claiming this while fighting a bill making minor changes in the law to reconcile Senate and House versions. Behind the scenes, the insurance companies are battling to preserve their subsidies and to expand Medicare Advantage.

Under the new law, the Medicare Advantage subsidy ends in 2013. That means the insurance lobby has almost three years to try to save it.

In a memorandum to employees obtained by Consumer Watchdog, Stephen Hemsley, CEO of the UnitedHealth Group, an insurance firm, pledged to “protect Medicare Advantage.” The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to push for business-friendly changes to the legislation when officials begin writing the regulations to implement it. The paper quoted Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue as saying he and his colleagues “will work through all available avenues—regulatory, legislative, legal and political—to fix its flaws and minimize its potentially harmful impacts.”

The effectiveness of health care reform will be shaped on such terrain.

Even in the best of times, this part of the process is tough for the news media to follow.  It’s complicated and secretive, and it can be tedious. In another era, serious policy-loving journalists would closely watch and then report the insurance lobbyists’ moves. But, with a few exceptions, they’re gone—victims of layoffs and closures of Washington and state capital bureaus.

Yet this is the time for real vigilance. “This requires as much vigilance as national security,” California Watchdog’s Dugan told me. “There are IEDs along every road.”

This means the health reform advocacy groups must postpone their celebration and stay vigilant, watching every special interest move, keeping in touch on the Internet and spreading information through blogs and websites as well as working with the remaining traditional journalists.

If this law succeeds despite the attempts to weaken it, prospects will greatly improve for reaching the final goal: universal coverage, Medicare for all.


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By garth, March 31, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Thanks again, Mark.  I say, mark his words.  They’re an omen.

Geithner, Obama both children of Ford Foundation employees, which makes me wonder about the veracity of the story of Obama’s mother fighting the insurance companies.  You’d think he’d feel slightly betrayed.  Maybe the hors d’hoeuvres at the clubs are a little too irresistible for the son of a ne’er-do-well intellectual from Kenya who left his family behind to pursue a Ph.D in economics from Harvard only to die in a DUI car crash in Kenya.

They have one plan.  Undermine the Democracy at home and make us—the ungrateful with baggy-pants, and of the working class—squeal. 

Here, they are much like-minded the red-neck characters in the movie “Deliverance.”  They want to make us squeal like a pig. 

In a short while, it’ll all be over.  You can go back to your tv or listen to your favorite voice on the radio.

I was in England twice.  The first time was about 40 years ago and the last time was about 15 years ago.
The cultural change was enormous.  In my first trip I met grad students and tour guides at the Westminster Abbey.  We had very enjoyable and informative discussions over a couple of pints.

The second time, though, the taxi drivers wanted to talk about American pop stars and what kind of dirt we could share with them.  The British papers highlighted selective sports and media personalities.  It was as if the country had gone mad in 25 years.

The same economic and media forces abound now in the US.

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By Mark, March 30, 2010 at 3:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a comment about the privatization issue with Medicare. People will be absolutely amazed if they look into US committments to the WTO on services (Medicare competes directly with health insurance services)

As far as I can tell, most significantly the US, - “US” I’m talking to you and me.. here…

- and all GATS signatory nations that have committed to include health services in GATS (like we have) even the nations that have public health care- are under tremendous pressure from their status as signatories to GATS (General Agreement on Trade In Services) to *privatize all monopoly service providers* like medicare.

Its a one way street.. It doesn’t get undone, nomatter what Obama says..(remember, he promised a public plan too, to get elected, even though GATS says no..)

As far as I can tell, we are committed to gradual privatization of almost everything.. And there is a TRAP that makes the GATS have teeth, as soon as any multinationals become involved, its a ONE WAY STREET, it cannot be reversed! (they call this the “ratchet effect” and its intentional)

One does not have to look far to find that these agreements are behind a lot of US policymaking, especially on health care. Its not a pretty picture.

They need to be much more honest with America about the nature of these agreements, which supersede national laws! As far as I can tell, GATS rules conflict with aspects of the just-passed healthcare laws. Who is to say what wil happen in the end, but, as I said, they supersede national laws.. by intent. Once we start letting multinationals in, we can never have single payer.

The granting of licenses to sell a single policy to all 50 sates is what the EU financial firms asked for, its what they formally want, to enter the US market, as hey have entered the Third World with (IMO) low value policies.

They petitioned formally for this ability years ago. It looks like they will get it in the “cross state line” sales in the new bill. That is VERY dangerous, it could be hugely costly, because we need the ability to tell insurers, “this isn’t working any more, wrap it up”, which is exactly what we may then LOSE. That would be a hell of an additional price for a crappy bill.. IMO.

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By garth, March 30, 2010 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

The J. Wellington Wimpy deal: 

Popeye’s Wimpy would say, “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”.

Evan Thomas of Newsweek and John O’Leary of the Harvard Ash Institute put forth their rendition of the Wimpy deal:

We’ll gladly take care of your grandchildren, if you’ll give up Social Security and Medicare today.

That’s how the Ruling Class takes us, as complete idiots. 

They need to feel that though, as if they’ve taken us to the cleaners, and they need to think that we were bumfuzzled that we don’t even realize that we’ve been hoodwinked.  It’s an obsession: They need to feel smarter than us.

And it’s working.

George W. Bush, a man who is one neuron away from a frothing at the mouth and complete idiocy has left us with what the Ruling Class would no doubt consider the punch line of their joke-Barack Obama.

And here’s to you, me swabbies.

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doubleaseven's avatar

By doubleaseven, March 30, 2010 at 7:09 am Link to this comment

By Samson, March 26 at 12:04 pm

“The Democrats started out with some very progressive
ideas.  But, then to achieve bi-partisanship, they
negotiated all of these away for Republican support.
... we can believe one of two things. One is that the
Democrats are really lousy negotiators who gave away
the store in exchange for absolutely nothing.  This
apparently is the propaganda line we are supposed to
believe.  Although, mainly any discussion of how this
bill was crafted in consigned to the memory hole and
expected to be totally forgotten.”

A very solid commentary from Samson.

The note [http://tinyurl.com/LastProgDown] talks to a
couple of significant problems with the HCR bill and
the dance that was danced to cover the problems.

You must have heard this refrain from time to time,
“I love PO - in fact I am a Single Payer guy. But I
am also a realist so I take what I can get. Half loaf
is better than no loaf”. I ask these smoke blowers,
tell us who has eaten the other half of our loaf? Is
it you dear Congressman, or Rahmsian Mafia or the
President or his Corporate fat cats? If only they
look they will find some answers like the one from
Miles Mogulescu: “It’s all Kabuki theater to cover up
the truth that President Obama made a backroom deal
with the for-profit hospital industry that the final
health care bill would not include a national public
option.”

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By ardee, March 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm Link to this comment

johncp, March 29 at 6:34 am #

Ardee

Democracy is simply the name of a party, with certain roughly defined and agreed upon principles.

Sorry johncp, but words matter and have meaning. Democracy is as Wiki notes more aptly than I:

“Democracy is a political government carried out either directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (Representative democracy). The term is derived from the Greek: ?????????? - (d?mokratía) “rule of the people”,[1]  which was coined from ????? (dêmos) “people” and ?????? (krátos) “power”, in the middle of the fifth-fourth century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC.[2]  Even though there is no specific, universally accepted definition of ‘democracy’,[3]  there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes: equality and freedom. [4][dubious – discuss] These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. [5]  and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.”

As to the DemoCRATIC Party, well, I havent much use for them but I do value democracy. I cannot make much of your comment to me, sorry, partially because you eschew paragraphs and partially because you seem to say little of value in a rather confusing riposte.

You say you are a democrat but you have no allies within that party. If by this you mean that you remain within the party in order to save it from itself, well then, I sincerely wish you luck. If you stick to your original statement about refusing to vote, well then goodbye.

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By garth, March 29, 2010 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Scott Gottlieb, a medical doctor and resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing propaganda machine, said on C-SPAN today that insurance companies under this new law have become transaction oriented.  They will simply be the middle man, no longer having the power to deny coverage.

He also said that actuaries will be out of a Yob. 

If’n that’s so, then how comes the law provides for a measly $ 100 fine for companies that deny coverage?

Mighty strange…..

John O’Leary of the Harvard Ash Institute, maybe that is suitably named, said on C-Span later that our grandchildren are in peril.  We have to cut out all this high livin’ and tighten our belts.  This is for our grandchildren’s sake.
He wants us to know that if we eat pet food and live out of trash cans, they promise the following:

They will do right by our grandchildren.

Where have I heard a similar promise?  Oh yeah, the Trust fund baby, Evan Thomas of Newsweek.  He said it in a cover story a few weeks ago. 

Even my wife who is laid back and non-political said she’d have to get out and protest, hit the streets if they screw around with her retirement.  Self reliance in her old age depends on it. 

I’d advise you soft-cushioned, elite types of the education-news media:  Don’t fuck around with my wife’s planned security in her old age.


She’ll stab you.

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bonito's avatar

By bonito, March 29, 2010 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

Medicare Advantage is just that for the Corporate
Health non-providers.  This is a plan that pays the
Insurance Co’s eight hundred dollars a Person per
month for each individual that they take in whom
happens to be on Medicare. It is not all that great
for the elderly,  as it restricts the choice of the
doctors and medical facilities one can be treated at,
and I found out when I had it, that the charge for
specialists is higher than on Medicare. At least this
plan that just passed our truculent Congress, is paid
for mostly by the Rich, and by cracking down
on some of the rip-offs of Medicare.

Those so-called Conservatives that always complain
about spending for the poor, working poor, and middle
class, should be outraged about our projected
spending of five to six trillion dollars on so called
Defense in the next decade, as they are over the
provision of basic health care for our own citizens.
At least if our spending on health saves but a few
lives, I believe that is much more beneficial to the
nation than spending ourselves into deep debt on a
super bloated Defense budget, that allows the U.S.
Military to go about the world killing those that do
not agree with the Great White Fathers in Washington, 
and/or have A form of Government, or religion that We
feel is a threat to our nation.

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By johncp, March 29, 2010 at 3:34 am Link to this comment

Ardee

Democracy is simply the name of a party, with certain roughly defined and agreed upon principles.  But that sounds too theoretical doesn’t it?  Democracy becomes a living reality when its avowed membership actually and genuinly attempts to “act” in accordance with those principles.  Your advice to me, tinged as it is with sarcasm, may be sincere and will intentioned, but it’s a sham.  There is no “participation,” when the outcome is pre-ordained by a bunch of courrupt politicians. The game, the score, the outcome, are “fixed.”  Looking around for another party may seem like a solution, but not for a problem of this magnitude.  If the game is fixed, if ordinary citizens are political ignoramuses, easily manipulated by media whose “cooperation” is bought by the same financial elites that buy and own our politicians, where is the participation you speak of?  Adding another, or an alternative party in this process, is futile, because the problem is not that we don’t have prinicipled political structures that “expound” noble goals, the problem is that far too many of us are political know-nothings.  Those same elite powers that run our society, are intent, and all but completely succsessful in maintaining a voting publc that’s deaf, dumb and blind to the realities unfolding around them.  It’s not the democrat party that I’ve turned away from.  That’s the other false assumption in your advice to me.  The democratic party will do just fine as the basic political text that guides my
“actions.”  But the democratic party, in spite of what it says, what its president says, has gone so far to the Right in what it “does,” that I’ve abandoned the “people” claiming to be in that party.  I’m not a political “independent.”  I’m a democrat, but without confederates in the political leadership and machinery of my party.  What are called democrats today, are just a bunch of slightly less odious republicans.  I may not succeed in surviving in this politically cynical, bottom-line-business, elitist society, but as long as I can, I’ll continue to speak out against this grand deceit.  Jean Paul Sartre told us that, just as when we speak, when we take pen to paper our wrtings become “actions.”  When our politicians lie to us, their lies become their “actions.”  If your speech doesn’t reflect your principles, however exalted your postion, you’re just a fraud and a hustler.

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By garth, March 28, 2010 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

Thanks, NYCartist, March 27 at 7:17 pm for the great link.  What amazes me is that people are starting to see through these phony fronts that are thrown up as news coverage a lot sooner than ever before.  They can see that what news media really wants to do is distract the observer from trying to understand how the government—the Republicans, Democrats, Military Brass, the corporations and the Catholic Church and Protestant Evangelicals—are trying to screw them or someone in their families.  The media wants to take a fake story that they can handle intellectually and run with it and at the same time please their bosses.

These games will be forgotten in a week, but the effects of all these corporate abominations heaped on the American people will ripen in a few years.

We’ll be paying for charter schools, higher healthcare premiums, a larger defense budget for wars that are probably being dreamed up right now, agri-business control of food, corporate controlled potable water, higher energy prices. 

And to pay for all this, we’ll be asked to cut Social Security, work longer at a job that cannot be found, and as Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) used to say on the “Honeymooners” as he looked around his cold-water flat in Brooklyn, “Alice, we gotta cut out all this high livin’”

That’s what this extension of Corporate for-profit health insurance is going to do.  The end is just getting started.  Wait’ll that process gets rolling.

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By rosebud, March 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

Glad to see somone finally address Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage is NOT Medicare. It is private insurance. Those enrolled in Medicare Advantage are disenrolled in Medicare. People do not use their Medicare card when they see a Dr. - they use their private insurance card from Aeta, Blue Cross, Humana - or whichever one these gullible seniors found appealing. Remember the saying if something seems to good to be true - it probably is -that describes Medicare Advantage.

Insurance companies control Medicare Advantage and are eager, eager to get seniors enrolled because of one thing - profit. Their mission is not to deliver health care - it is to make a profit. Seniors are offered inducements like no premiums, no copys, dental care, eyeglass, and gym memberships to join but the insurance companies will continue to raise rates and these seniors will find themselves at the mercy of the for-profit system. Those extra perks are not covered in original Medicare.

The capitation rates given to insurance companies is 14-22% higher than for the original Medicare patient. Medicare Advantage should be called Aeta Advantage or Blue Cross Advantage - using the word “Medicare” is misleading and confusing to many. However, this is a blatant plan by the insurance companies to privatize Medicare. 80% of seniors in original Medicare are paying for the 20% of seniors in Medicare Advantage and a large chunk of that is going directly into the pockets of the insurance companies.

Lastly, for all you naysayers, this bill that passed is far from perfect - but were you there to deliver the votes needed to get it passed? It offers protection for so many - no lifetime caps, it covers children immediaately, no pre-existing conditions - it is a start. None of this is free - we will all have to pay something. For-proft health care has always been an oxymoron to me - this bill keeps the dollars going for real heath care, not into some CEO’s pocket.

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By NYCartist, March 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

Correction: the excellent article at the top of home page of http://www.blackagendareport.com is by Bruce A. Dixon.

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By garth, March 27, 2010 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

The passage of this healthcare bill along with the passage of the upcoming Dodd Do-nothing-to-upset-the-bankers bill will provide the capstone that will seal our fate as a middle class in a Democratic society.  Simply put, the steering mechanism is locked and we’re headed for another disaster.
Michael Moore pointed out an interesting shortcoming in this new “health” bill.  If an insurance company denies coverage, they have to pay a fine of $ 100 a day.  Hefty, ey?
And if they are faced with a client who needs an operation that will cost $ 100,000, the Ins. Co. can deny the coverage, go to court and rely on actuarial tables that’ll most likely tell them when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.  In a year of fines, they’ll pay $ 36,500.  The operation, $ 100,000. 
Hmmmmmm. Tough call.
No restrictions on the rapacious rates for premiums is what started to raise everyone’s eyebrows a few years ago and get people to start making noise.  We looked under the rock, and found a lizard, or a family of lizards, or a brotherhood of lizards.  High deductible, high co-pays, recision, denial of service. 

We will still have to pay for this defective product.  One where people die as a result, but no one will face the judge or go to jail. 
In the meantime, as a giveawy, they get 30,000,000 paying lambs to run the healthcare lottery gambit

Steps to ruination:

The Bankruptcy bill written by the Credit Card companies.

Part D Medicare, which was passed in the dead of night with a lot of arm-twisting and bribes.

The financial meltdown which put a serious dent in everyone’s ability to retire and/or make a decent living.

The Credit card reform bill.  Again written by the credit card companies, which gave us 30% interest rates.

Then these two poisoned pills—the healthcare (We’ll do whatever the hell corporations tell us to do.) and Chris the Dodder’s Defecation on the Consumer bill.  It’s somewhat like the amendment he slipped in years ago that gave FDIC coverage to the big banks like Citi, Morgan, AIG, Goldman Sachs.

And the media will not cover the stories when the insurance companies go hog wild and let Greed lead them.

This is nothing short of a cluster-fuck.

The Republicans took the crazy train and we’re left to left with this spineless horde of reprobates.


And in the next election cycle, all this corporate money will be free to go to whomever they want in office to vote for their legislation.

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By ardee, March 27, 2010 at 4:41 am Link to this comment

I’m a democrat, and I’m not planning to vote this coming election, but not because I no longer believe in democrats, but because I believe that most of the people pretending to be democrat politicians, are just a bunch of common gangsters, whose only distinction is the depth of their lust for power and money, and who, like the republicans, hide behind their cheap rhetoric and $1,000 suits.

So, johncp, March 27 at 12:07 am, I guess the ‘cp’ doesn’t stand for communist party.huh!

Democracy is a participatory sport and you are refusing to participate. I think your dissatisfaction with your party is a wise choice but your refusing to vote an unwise one indeed. There are many ways to work for change, refusal to participate is not among them.

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By johncp, March 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

The problem we’re having with this Health Care bill, is not that it was passed by “democrats” on the take.  There is no such thing as democrats “on the take.”  There are people, hiding behind the label “democrat,” then deserting the people that vote for them based on the presumption that they’re voting for democrats.  Those of you on this list, telling us not to vote for democrats, are not making this clear; I can’t believe you don’t understand this.  Excuse me for wondering what you have up your sleeve.

I’m a democrat, and I’m not planning to vote this coming election, but not because I no longer believe in democrats, but because I believe that most of the people pretending to be democrat politicians, are just a bunch of common gangsters, whose only distinction is the depth of their lust for power and money, and who, like the republicans, hide behind their cheap rhetoric and $1,000 suits.

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By NYCartist, March 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Excellent short commentary by Glen Ford at top of home page on this bill/law on Black Agenda Report.
Really good.  http://www.blackagendareport.com

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By gumsho, March 26, 2010 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

in an otherwise great piece about health reform bill boyarsky makes the same
mistake about medicare advantage that the rest of the media does. when i signed
up for medicare in northern california, no doctor would accept me as a patient
because medicare reembursement rates are so low. (some doctors keep longtime
patients on in spite of the low rates, but my doctor had retired). the only way i
could find doctors was to sign up for a medicare advantage plan. these are not
“cadillac plans” as so many believe. under the new health bill medicare advantage
rates will soar if the government stops supporting them and i, like many older
people won’t be able to afford them. I already pay $1200. a year for medicaid
alone. the “cut medicare and medicare advantage” movement could prove to be a
disaster for older people with less opportunity to work. i support the plan in
general to help poor folks, but it pits the uninsured against seniors, who may
soon be unable to afford medical care.

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By NYCartist, March 26, 2010 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Excellent article by Paul Street on Znet on Mar.24.

“Health Reform:Theirs and Ours”
Read his comments, as well, for the adds to his essay.
http://www.zcommunications.org/health-reform-theirs-and-ours-by-paul-street

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By At, March 26, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Now that th edie is cast, and since the recovery funds took so long to show results, th eObama adminitration should have ashort term plsn and a long term one. How about for a start, bailing out the states with deficit, the city budgets and the county too. Look around you, lay offs are everywhere,.The first step is to stem the bleeding, help LAUSD and the city of Angels and countless other cities with budget deficit. YOU wont hear any more criticism from the economic front. COME ON RAHM!

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, March 26, 2010 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Every once in awhile, the tortured logic of the propaganda just falls apart.  Here’s the story we are supposed to believe.

The Democrats started out with some very progressive ideas.  But, then to achieve bi-partisanship, they negotiated all of these away for Republican support. In the end they had a bill that favored every big corporation in the health care industry, while most everything that might help a citizen is gone or delayed.

Then of course, the Democrats got zero Republican votes.

From this we can believe one of two things.  One is that the Democrats are really lousy negotiators who gave away the store in exchange for absolutely nothing.  This apparently is the propaganda line we are supposed to believe.  Although, mainly any discussion of how this bill was crafted in consigned to the memory hole and expected to be totally forgotten.

If you don’t believe that this bunch of people who’ve risen to the top of the stack in the game of power politics in America are really total idiots who you wouldn’t trust to negotiate the purchase of a car,  then what’s left is believing that this is the bill the Democrats really wanted all along.

The latter is supported by more little facts that aren’t mentioned in these propaganda pieces. One is the millions of dollars these big corporations pumped into Democrat party coffers in the last election cycle and this one.  Obama’s campaign alone got just under $30 million.

Then of course, in exchange for those millions, the CEOs of these corporations got private meetings with Obama where they laid out exactly what sort of ‘health care reform’ that they wanted ... and would eventually receive.

The myth the Democrat noise machine wants to spread is that its the Republicans who are really the opposition here.  But the bill passed with entirely Democrat votes and was signed by a Democrat president.

They blame it on the Republicans and ‘the Senate’ mainly just to try to con people into voting for more pro-corporate rule from the Democrats in the next election.

Please stop voting Democrats (unless you are a CEO of a health insurance corp and happy as a clam with the Democrats today)

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By Michael Shaw, March 26, 2010 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One thing we ought to be looking at is now we have something to make better where before all we had was talk. It took a hundred years to get any semblance of a health care reform bill. If this bill had not passed, it would never have come back and 100 million Americans would be without coverage in the next decade. There is no doubt this bill is a conservative one, not progressive by any means. No it is not the greatest thing since toasted bread, Medicare or Social Security. But it is a very good start. Also the provision Dennis Kucinich demanded, that states have the right to opt into single payer still exists and is very likely to pass in California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina. Once any state gets it, other states will follow. Here is where this bill is historical and significant. Also now is not the time to simply go after democrats, but I would say we ought to vote for progressive pro single payer candidates wherever we can. We do however need to be very careful lest we end up with the reverse of any reform on anything, the return to power of the neoconservatives who are currently fanning the flames of hate via their buddies, the tea party goers. I am convinved it would not matter what bill came out by the democrats concerning anything to the republicans. They care not about people, only power. Even Eisenhower would have liked this bill, possibly even Reagan since it is so conservative. Yet the so called conservative party calls it socialism and is fighting it tooth and nail. As Sheer once pointed out, it should be interesting how the GOP looks when it attempts to take 32 million Americans, many in their own districts, off of their newly acquired coverage and overturn the tax incentives to a whole lot of small businesses. This will not endear them at the polls I can tell you that!

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By Samson, March 26, 2010 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

The four year delay.

The politicians always poll the voters to find out what lies to tell in the next election.  For several election cycles now, Americans had been listing health care as the main area they needed help with.

So, with the public crying for ‘health care reform’ and listing it as their most important issue, what the Democrats pass instead is a four-year ban on any health care reform .... and then try to promote this as if they’ve done something to help us.

The Democrats .... block all health care reform for four years, then promote themselves as great reformers.

Although, I suspect the main reason for the four year ban on reform is that they want to keep the contribution money flowing in to both ‘sides’ of this debate for the next two election cycles.

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By Samson, March 26, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

Such a wonderful health care plan that almost no leading Democrats have signed up to be covered under it.

All these elected officials have their own health care plan, which of course is much, much better than anything offered to us.

Tells you a lot when no Democrats want to be covered under their wonderful little gift to corporate greed.

When I see Democrats in Congress saying they’ll give up their government run socialized medicine in order to instead be covered under this plan, then I might start to think its worth a damn.

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By Jimmy1920, March 26, 2010 at 6:04 am Link to this comment

“This means the health reform advocacy groups must postpone their celebration and stay vigilant, watching every special interest move, keeping in touch on the Internet and spreading information through blogs and websites as well as working with the remaining traditional journalists.”

Did you leave out electoral politics on purpose?

What about challenging Democrats who opposed health care reform?  What about supporting weathered intense criticism for their support of health care reform?

http://thehealthcaremaze.us

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By cwbystache, March 26, 2010 at 5:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A “Start” means there’s something next on the list to tackle, now that we’ve so beautifully and smoothly pulled off the “Care for Health Insurance” law.  Providing public transportation?  A roof for the homeless and under-sheltered?  Oh do let’s use the same template! Instead of taking Iraq/Afghan/Pakistan war tax dollars to provide bus and rail, we’ll require each citizen to buy a car, and a house, and if they don’t cooperate, fine them too.

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By doubleaseven, March 26, 2010 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

A few reasons why 200,000 must die by 2014
—————————————————————

I was wondering if under the new HCR Bill the
Medicaid expansion will begin right away. The
answer unfortunately turns out to be no. It begins
in 2014 same as other major benefits like the
Exchanges, Subsidies and Preex ban. I wonder what
is the rationale? Nancy Ann Deparle - Head of the
HCR Dept in Whitehouse, offered the lame excuse
“infrastructure for Exchanges gets setup over the
next few years”. Imagine taking four years to setup
an exchange which is a logical structure - possibly
a Website? Lame Lame Lame. Even this lame excuse
does not apply to the the delay in the beginning of
Medicaid expansion where any expansion in manpower
can take place gradually as more and more people
enroll.

Another disingenuous excuse is that the Pay-go
rules require us to save before we can spend. This
is weird because the budget neutrality is supposed
to be achieved not year by year - but cumulatively
over the next ten years. It is becoming plausible
that a budget game in being played where 10 years
of revenue generation is being used to pay for 6
years of benefits, just so that President’s record
as “No Deficit” Obama looks good. IMHO - it is a
deceit to hide the fact that subsidizing the
uninsured will not cost money. The right thing to
do is to recognize the cost - and stop the 45000
deaths right away.

Unfortunately if all the public (especially the
Progressives) plays along in this Kabuki theater,
they become complicit in the fraud perpetrated
against the very disenfranchised - for which the
Administration and the Legislators have shown their
concern. As the Public Option mystery has pointed
to the fact “It’s all Kabuki theater to cover up
the truth that President Obama made a backroom deal
with the for-profit hospital industry that the
final health care bill would not include a national
public option.”
[http://tinyurl.com/KabukiOnTheHill]. The big
difference between the Kabukis is that PO Kabuki
was done stealthily, the Kabuki around the delay is
being done in plain sight, thus making all of us
complicit.

What is surprising is that the fierce urgency, the
President and other Leaders expressed, of stopping
the tragedy of 45,000 needless deaths a year as has
vanished. The strategy appears to be hurry up, pass
the bill and then just sweep this issue under the
rug. Unfortunately there is not a rug big enough to
hide this elephant and the Dem incumbents will find
it hard to explain this situation during the
upcoming campaign. [http://tinyurl.com/200Kmore]

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By bnerin, March 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

Why will the Insurance industry try to cripple the bill?  It is one of nicest gifts they
got.  Gee, I wish I owned a corporation that made citizens buy my product or get
fined!  And if they can’t afford it the government will give the money to buy it. 
What a deal!!  Wow.  No wonder my shares in Bristol Myers went up 35% since last
year.

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By ardee, March 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

NYCartist, March 25 at 8:03 am

Good to read you again,NYCa. I see that, as usual , you have your head screwed on straight. All good suggestions . The point is to pick something and do something!

I become rather tired of constant vitriol, carping and harping , throwing away allies and alliances and doing nothing else. I am really tired of those who think posting on a forum is political activism….

I am working this weekend to assist a local group in repairing and bringing up to code a child care facility here in my new home town. Same old thing Ive been doing for about forty years now. I will certainly do a bit of proselytizing for the Green Party while swinging that hammer.

Looking forward to your postings…

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By Big B, March 25, 2010 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment

imagine passing a bill that no one has read through, I mean what could happen? It’s not like the police can kick your door down and drag you off to a secret prison without charge (oh wait, that was the patriot act)

never mind.

Do you suppose the dimmos are wishing they would have pushed single payer through instead, especially after the crap they are eating over this mediocre piece of shit?

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By gerard, March 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

Quote: “In fairness, the bill’s many positive features should be recognized.  It ends discrimination based on preexisting conditions, and development of catastrophic ilnesses.  It eliminates price discrimination based on health status, and offers subsidies for up to 30 million currently uninsured people.  It establishes a host of other precedents concerning cost control and new services that would, taken together, still be a major, even astonishing, step forward.”  Michael Tomasky in NY Review of Books4/8/10

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By BBFmail, March 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

MISINFORMATION FROM YOUR ARTICLE:

And support will increase as the reform law begins to kick in later this year. Consider these provisions going into effect in 2010:

They will no longer be allowed to deny children coverage for pre-existing conditions. (Adults with these conditions will be able to buy insurance from a government-subsidized high-risk pool until 2014, when the practice of denying coverage in such cases at last will be outlawed.)

###

Yesterday afternoon Neil Cavuto reported that the coverage for pre-existing conditions for adults and CHILDREN does not kick in until 2014…nor does the 50% reduction in the cost of Brand name drugs for those on Medicaid or Medicare.  Neil asked the Congresswoman he interviewed how many more items will we find which do not comply with what Obama has told the American public.  Neil also asked if anyone had really read the bill.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4122543/public-option-still-an-option?playlist_id=87249

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By mindful, March 25, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

Here is something nobody has seen. If you have a policy from your union or place of employment, and turn 65, the Part B Medicare becomes your primary payer for preventive care. Seniors with paltry SSI checks, usually 1000 a month or even less, get 110 dollars a month subtracted. This is if you use it or not. Everybody pays, unless you can get Medicaid to help and then you cannot have any bank or investments. 2000 dollar is the limit.

If you get a retirement of 90,000 a year, then you may pay more for Part B. But that’s a big jump, 1000 a month to 90,000 a year and everybody must pay.

There is also a draconian penalty if you fail to sign up at age 65. You will later be charged ten percent more for each month you could have signed up, but could not afford to.

This is not even remotely a fair system or anything like Britain or Canada. Its the very closest we get to a National Health Care.

My mother had a stroke in 1994 because she could not afford part B.

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By ForeignAffairs, March 25, 2010 at 10:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whether you love it or hate it, the health reform law is sorely in need of some additional consumer protections. 

Here is a short list of proposed countermeasures that will help to level the playing field for consumers who are now more than ever at the mercy of the insurance industry that necessitated reform in the first place:

1. Pass HR 4789, Medicare buy-in at cost (http://www.wewantmedicare.com).  Now that we have lost our most basic consumer freedom to opt out, it is not unreasonable to ask for a more competitive, and more cost-effective, menu of insurance options.

2. Prohibit any kind of federally mandated purchases.  Let the private sector do their own marketing—that is not the proper role of government. 

3. End anti-trust exemptions for the health insurance industry.

4. Allow drug re-importation.

5. Stipulate that any insurance subsidies may be spent only on public option not-for-profit insurance plans – so as to maximize the cost-effectiveness of those subsidies.

6. More rigorous restrictions on rate increases, coupled with a more rigorous enforcement capability. 

7. Standardize insurance regulations and insurer access nationwide.  Don’t allow insurers to cherry pick the least regulated or most profitable markets, and don’t deny consumers freedom of choice in the least desirable markets.

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By Scotty_Mack, March 25, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

I really doubt insurance lobbyists are going to work to kill a bill they wrote.  Boyarsky is a hack.

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By FRTothus, March 25, 2010 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

And out come the journalist dupes warning the sheeple that they must defend this Sham from those that seek its destruction, that their enemies belong to one Party or another, when in fact neither has or will stand up for the American people. This Health Care Bill was yet another in a long line of “reforms” that have sold us down the river, “solutions” that rob the common folk and enrich the wealthy.  And we are encouraged to defend this reverse Robin Hood?
Death to both factions of the Property Party.  Repeal this Bill.  Restore the US Constitution.

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By Joe, March 25, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Democrats have permanently enshrined the insurance system into law

They have made it illegal for you as a citizen to purchase your healthcare directly from a doctor or hospital.  Instead you MUST pay a insurance company middleman to do it.

This is a giant step back

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By Damiano Iocovozzi MSN FNP CNS, March 25, 2010 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Dear Mr. Boyarsky, Thank you again for your timely article.  For real reform we must focus on the needs of the terminally ill, uninsured patient who cannot even qualify for in-home visiting nurses.  Did you know that in my county of Riverside (CA), getting a placement is virtually impossible?  The best available is free telephone advice, but no house calls. As the patient’s condition deteriorates, a scared family member calls 911.  Without an advance directive, the patient is coded, intubated and placed in an intensive care bed where a costly and futile fool’s errand begins.  ICUs were never designed to be high tech hospices.  Think of what the hospital & government have to eat after the death of this patient who never could have benefitted anyway? At present, we spend about 25-30% of our US health care dollar on futile care during the last six months of life.  So please, kind sir, please write more about the plight of the uninsured, terminally ill patient who really just needs a little TLC at home where his dignity and independance can be maintained by the visiting nurses until he passes away naturally from his disease process.  Visit my foundation’s web site at soonerorlaterbook.com Cheers from Damiano Iocovozzi MSN FNP CNS and Drew Johnson at the Thomas Edwin Walls Founsation, Palm Springs

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By Londen bezienswaardigheden, March 25, 2010 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

There isn’t much choice. We have the Republicans and the Democrats, they can’t work together and neither of them merit all the needs of all people. The corporates are to far in, so I agree with Ardee.

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By balkas, March 25, 2010 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

A system of rule founded on the ‘scientific’ study of animal behavior will keep passing legislation in favor of the fittest among us.

In animal life ‘scientists’ of 10 k yrs ago noted that it is the strongest-fastest-wisest animals who have better chance of surviving than the weaker-dumber ones.

So they adopted animal natural laws to humans and to this day.
And ‘scientist’ of old also figured who among us is the strongest-wisest: the wealthiest ones. These ‘scientists’ also passed into laws who is to govern a nation or even world: the strongest-wisest, most honest, etc. Oh my weakest-dumbest people, enjoy the crumbs for now; worse is coming yet. tnx

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, March 25, 2010 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

Received this in an E-mail and found it interesting enough to pass along.

-

Let me get this straight.

We’re going to be gifted with a health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn’t read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a president who also hasn’t read it, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that’s broke.

What the hell could possibly go wrong?

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By Samson, March 25, 2010 at 7:07 am Link to this comment

This bill has many bad features.  But one of the worst is that in the future when the ‘health industry’ is paying its lobbyists, it will be doing so with our money.

The Democrats just passed a massive expropriation of wealth into the hands of their major contributors, with the obvious expectations that they’ll get at least some of it back in ‘contributions’.

Meanwhile, for everyone else who is now going to be paying 10% of their income for health ‘insurance’ that only covers 70% of the costs, we won’t have the money to even try to fund progressive campaigns in the future.

That’s ok.  Our power lies in the grassroots.  If this makes us organize our true power instead of making the stupid mistake of thinking we can buy millionaire Democrats over to our side with $20 contributions, then maybe that’s a good thing in the long run.

More than anything else, we need to realize that our interests are not the same as the interests of the millionaire Democrats.

Don’t vote for millionaires.
Don’t vote for candidates with the money to buy TV ads.
Get out and organize.

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By Vic Anderson, March 25, 2010 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Barack = Odumbo.

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By Samson, March 25, 2010 at 6:50 am Link to this comment

Before every election, politicians take polls in order to know what lies to tell the voters.  In the last few elections, the people have been crying for help with a rapacious ‘health’ industry.  Thus, politicians, especially opposition politicians trying to overturn those in power, have been talking about ‘health care reform’.

It takes real balls to put forward a bill that bans all health care reform for the next four years as the answer to these cries for help.

That’s the most amazing aspect of this bill. In a political climate where the citizens are crying for health care reform, the Congress instead passes a bill that protects these rapacious corporations from any but the most minor reforms for the next four years.

Meanwhile, the same provisions serve congress well because they essentially serve as an invitation to the rich health care companies to buy a new congress to repeal or block the minor reforms in this bill from ever occurring.  Congress has given these rich health corporation two election seasons in which to flood congress with money.  Our modern, millionaire congress-critter will of course be scraping as much of this money as they can into their accounts.

This is what passes for ‘reform’ in the modern Democratic party.

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By mmadden, March 25, 2010 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

This government experiment is no longer working. We must adopt a Parlimentarian style government since the people we elect to represent us really do not. They take care of the banks and those fools on Wall Street.

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By NYCartist, March 25, 2010 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

Those are not “loopholes” - the emperor has no clothes.

Ardee,  Hi!  Paul Street and others have suggested (on Znet) organizing based on issues, etc.  Way before voting.  Others suggest getting inside a party, e.g. Dems and changing it.  Others, as you have in the past, suggested 3rd party.  Others, public financing of campaigns.  On health care, Dr. Margaret Flowers MD, of http://www.pnhp.org Physicians for a National Health Program suggest a movement for single payer so the Congress won’t be frightened to vote for it.  Znet is a good place for reading:
http://www.Zcommunications.org/znet

  My own opinion: everything listed and picking something one wants to work for/on. As can.  As Howard Zinn said, there’s room for optimism.  His autobio is my favorite book, “You Can’t Be Neutral on A Moving Train”, Beacon Press, 2 editions, the last one is 2002 (or 2003), with fab intro.  Whole thing is basically a tool kit/how to resist and make change in society. I miss Zinn a lot.

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By ardee, March 25, 2010 at 2:31 am Link to this comment

What choices we have!

We can vote for Republicans, sworn enemies of anything the Democrats propose, regardless of merit or need. We can vote for Democrats, sworn enemies of honesty and heedless of the needs of the American working families.

Either way our vote will be cast for a candidate who will pander to the check writing corporation and ignore the electorate.

If only there was a third party out there,one pledged to shun corporate funding…...gee, if only.

http://www.gp.org/

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By gerard, March 24, 2010 at 10:56 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for the warnings, Bill Boyarsky. It’s a dangerous period right now because everybody is pretty much tired of the health care fracas.  But that is just the time when the saboteurs will sneak in the back door.  Eternal vigilance is the price of good health care.  If the already limited bill is hacked to pieces behind the scenes, there will be nothing left to improve. 

The health “industry” is paying its lobbyists big money to “hang in there.”  We have to do it for free, and that’s too bad.  But it’s our health that is at stake, not theirs.  So instead of griping about what it doesnl’t have, let’s work to add what it needs.  It’s no exaggeration to say that hundreds of lives (maybe yours) will be on the line for the next several years, and they’ll die if the dust settles on the wrong side of the fence.

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By Samson, March 24, 2010 at 10:03 pm Link to this comment

By now, has everyone figured out that if you want change, voting Democrat is not the answer.

If you want what the big donors at the health insurance companies want, then hey, go ahead and vote Democrat.  To everyone else, please figure it out and stop voting for these corrupt jerks.

The candidate that has to make a 40 ft high banner that says “CHANGE” is not the candidate that will bring you change.  The candidate who will bring you change will have a lifetime record of fighting for change and won’t need the 40 ft high banner.

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