Your Daily Dose of Health Care Reform Stupidity

Lie, obstruct and delay.  It’s all Cons can come up with for health care reform.  Now, McConnell’s advocating delaying for weeks and weeks because – well, just cuz.

I like Sen. Harkin’s response:

Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Democrats have mischief planned for the Republicans if they do that type of obstruction.
“If the Republicans want to stay here this Saturday and Sunday to read the bill, then let them stay here,” he said. “We are planning to do something that would require Republicans to be there 24 hours a day, and if they leave the floor, we’ll ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and that’ll be the end of it.”

The big news, however, is that the Chamber of Commerce got caught soliciting funds for a fake study:

Now that the Chamber has been caught trying to finance a phony study on health care reform, the organization’s credibility is poised to reach new lows.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama’s health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation’s economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official.

The e-mail, written by the Chamber’s senior health policy manager and obtained by The Washington Post, proposes spending $50,000 to hire a “respected economist” to study the impact of health-care legislation, which is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, would have on jobs and the economy.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Maybe,” you’ll be tempted to argue, “the Chamber and its allies simply wanted to do a legitimate economic study. How do we know the report would be rigged to bolster a preconceived anti-reform narrative?”
The answer, of course, is that the Chamber’s memo already points to the agreed-upon conclusion of the economic review that does not yet exist. From its email: “The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document.”

They’re not even trying to hide their fuckery anymore, are they?  Health care reform supporters shall have a field day with this little bit of con artistry, and I have a feeling the over 5000 medical professionals who are already urging the AMA to leave the Chamber will shortly be joined by many more.

In case you ever wondered who runs D.C., here’s the answer: lobbyists are ghostwriting lawmakers’ statements on health care reform.

And in case you were wondering if pharmaceutical companies would behave themselves, the answer is no.

In case you were wondering what kind of fuckery Conservadems would get up to next, they’re now demanding  they be allowed to gut Social Security and Medicare – or else.

I think Conservadems and Cons alike need to consider the fact that a No vote on health care reform has some rather dire consequences – such as allowing your previously-trailing election opponent to surge ahead of your ass. 

And, finally, CNN may have rid itself of Dobbs, but that hasn’t made the rest of its programming any better.  John King decided it’s perfectly fine for Giuliani to claim that newly-minted Dem Rep. Bill Owens voted no against health care reform, and let that stand without correction.  For any in doubt, Owens voted Aye.

Health care reform’s certainly bringing out the worst in just about everybody, innit?

Catholic Church Sez: Let Us Discriminate or Your Charity Gets It

It seems the Catholic church is making some threats:

I’ve always found the Book of Matthew rather beautiful: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….”
It goes on to say, “Unless you live in a city where gays can get married, in which case, to hell with it.”
OK, it doesn’t really say that last part, but the D.C. Archdiocese may be confused on the point.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

“If the city requires this, we can’t do it,” Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. “The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem.”
Keep in mind, Catholic Charities receives quite a bit of taxpayer money to do social service work — contracts that existed long before Bush’s “faith-based” initiative. The archdiocese is now saying it would abandon its charitable contracts with the city if local officials legalize same-sex marriage.
Or as my friend Rob Boston put it, “Let me get this straight: The church is saying, ‘Unless you bow to our demands, we’ll stop taking your money’?”

Outrageous little shits, aren’t they? It’s nice to see somewhat more enlightened religious folks piling on them:

D.C. Clergy United For Marriage Equality, a group of pro-gay marriage religious leaders in the District, released a statement condemning the archdiocese for its threats today. From the statement:

“The Catholic Church hierarchy is at a crossroads: they must decide whether they are in the charity business for charity¹s sake, or if imposing their will on the D.C. City Council and the citizens of the District is their primary interest.”

Later Update: More D.C. church groups have been sending us their condemnation of the Catholic position on the city’s proposed same-sex marriage law. Bishop John Bryson Chane, head of the District’s Episcopal church, emphasized that the charity arm of his church will continue to provide relief to D.C.’s less fortunate.
“Episcopalians understand that none of us has the right to violate the human rights of another individual,” he said. “That’s the law of the District of Columbia. More important, it’s at the core of the Gospel.”

I say fuck giving the religious groups government money, and put secular groups in charge, but I’ll settle for less bigoted bishops getting involved.  Fuck the Catholic church.  Oh, and while we’re at it, Stephanie at Almost Diamonds has a good idea, based on the church’s political efforts to send a giant fuck-you to gays in Maine: “Tax ’em.”

Too fucking right.

Your Daily Dose of Health Care Reform Stupidity

My, how things change.  And it’s just vaguely possible we’ll have to stop making “wet Reid’ jokes for a while.  Check out who didn’t pull the trigger:

As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hosted a brief press conference this afternoon and announced that there will, in fact, be a public option in the Senate health care bill, though it will give states the opportunity to opt-out of the plan.

Hot damn.  I can tell you that’s about the last thing I expected today.

The White House is perfectly happy with Reid’s decision.  Queen Snowe not so much, but note she didn’t absolutely say she’d join a filibuster.  Interesting.

Sen. Ben Nelson wanted an opt-in, just cuz we couldn’t possibly make it easy for folks to get reform, so we’ll see how loud he screams.

This is a pretty big moment, my darlings, and it’s time to pat yourselves on the back.  The public option wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for progressives pushing it.  Champagne all round.

Then go have a talk with Blanche Lincoln, who still won’t commit to standing against a Con filibuster.  Spank Ben Nelson for good measure.  And cheer on the Dems who are trying to ensure we see some of the benefits of reform before 2013.

It’s a banner day, and C&L has an excellent round-up for us.

Elsewhere, the burning stupid still flames:

Eric Cantor wants everybody to do reform over, this time without a public option.  I’m not sure which planet he’s currently inhabiting.

Health insurance companies are in full-on panic mode, using dumbass talking points in an attempt to get voters to lobby against their own interests.  I don’t know what they’re upset about – aside from the public option, which is fairly weak tea, they got everything they could possibly want.  Maybe they’re terrified reform means they won’t be able to charge women 50% higher premiums just because they’re women.

The Cons have at last rolled out some reform proposals of their own!

About a month ago, the Washington Post reported, “After years of trying to cut Medicare spending, Republican lawmakers have emerged as champions of the program, accusing Democrats of trying to steal from the elderly to cover the cost of health reform.”
Of course, the idea that congressional Republicans could be Medicare’s “champions” has always been a little silly, but the notion gets a little more ridiculous all the time.

On Wednesday, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) introduced his own health care reform plan. Broun, one of the most vocal and persistent critics of comprehensive health care reform, calls his legislation the “only true free-market reform alternative.” And free-market it is. While most of his legislation mirrors other Republican proposals, Broun’s plan for Medicare seems rather revolutionary. He wants to completely get rid of Medicare and replace it with vouchers….
Presumably, seniors would then use their vouchers in the private insurance market.

Unfortunately, since nothing in Broun’s OPTION Act deals with the issue of preexisting conditions, insurance companies would deny seniors, who are more likely to have a chronic health problem, left and right.

It’s worth noting that while the RNC and congressional Republican leaders have feigned outrage about Democratic efforts to find cost savings in Medicare, no GOP officials in Washington have denounced or distanced themselves from Paul Broun’s privatization plan.

So much for the champions of Medicare, then, eh?

Oh, and remember how they keep telling us that all we need in order to reform health care is to let the private companies have their way with us across state lines?  Um, yeah, the private companies say that won’t exactly work

Imagine my surprise when Mike Tuffin, Executive Vice President for America’s Health Insurance Plans (an insurance lobby), made the following comment during this exchange on “Fox News Sunday”:

WALLACE: Mr. Tuffin, your group, the AHIP, the American Health Insurance Plans, issued a study and ran some ads opposing one version of health care reform. The White House said some of the data in your study was misleading. Here’s how President Obama reacted generally to the efforts of AHIP.


OBAMA: The insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking out their massive war chest. They’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our antitrust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.


WALLACE: Question: Do you review — do you view that reference to possibly taking away your antitrust exemption as a threat, as punishment, for the fact that you’re opposing the president and Democrats?

TUFFIN: No, we don’t, Chris. That is a very limited federal exemption. It has nothing to do — every analyst who has looked at this has said it has nothing to do with competition or costs.

REALLY? Can we quote you on that? After more than a year of Republicans insisting that all we need to do is repeal their anti-trust exemption and the “free-market” would magically lower prices, the VP of AHIP is telling us that it “has nothing to do with competition or costs.” G.T.K., buddy.

If we can revoke their anti-trust status and hit ’em with a public option, the howls should be sweet music to all our ears.

Hold on tight, my darlings.  The next few days should be interesting indeed…

Your Daily Dose of Health Care Reform Stupidity

You know, I rather think the romance is over:

Well, I guess it’s safe to say private health insurers have no intention of rebuilding burnt bridges. Suzy Khimm noted the other day, “Activists on the left have long insisted that insurance companies aren’t to be trusted. But up until now, it’s been hard to make the charge stick, since the insurance lobby — a.k.a., America’s Health Insurance Plans — has been cooperating with the White House and its allies.”
That cooperation is officially over.
It started last week with a deceptive report on health care premiums. Soon after, insurers launched a new round of attack ads. Now, Sam Stein reports on the industry’s message to Republicans.

A top lobbyist for the major private insurance industry trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), urged Congressional Republicans to not even consider helping Democrats pass health care reform lest they aid an “enemy who is down.”
Steve Champlin, a lobbyist for the Duberstein Group who represents AHIP, declared that the road to a bipartisan health care reform bill was, essentially, dead. And he urged GOP members to keep it that way.
“There is absolutely no interest, no reason Republicans should ever vote for this thing. They have gone from a party that got killed 11 months ago to a party that is rising today. And they are rising up on the turmoil of health care,” said Champlin. “So when they vote for a health care reform bill, whatever it is, they are giving comfort to the enemy who is down.”

Chaplain made the remarks at an annual AHIP conference. He added that he expected reform with some kind of public option to pass, though he emphasized the importance of Republicans standing firm in opposition.

This comes right about the time AHIP shyster-in-chief Karen Ignagni is pinky-swearing they weally weally still do totally want reformRiiiiggghhhttt.  What’s an ark?

Steve Benen explains conversation enders on his way out to the woodshed to discuss same with Rep. Todd “I Totally Believe Debunked Talking Points About Canadian Hip Replacments” Akin.  Might I just say: One of us!  One of us!

Queen Olympia Snowe is trying to put the public option on ice, even going so far as to threaten to stand with Cons on a filibuster (was there ever any doubt?) if the Dems put in even a public option with opt-outs.  Unfortunately for her, she did so when the Maine AFL-CIO was having a confab.  They suspended their convention so that everybody could make a few pointed phone calls.  I wish I’d been there when the calls started flooding in…

Speaking of opt-outs, that idea’s gaining so much steam poor Ben Nelson’s afraid we’re going to end up with that icky old public option.  Steve Benen’s take was, as always, interesting and enlightening.

It’s rather pathetic that Arlen Specter needed to have the connection between health care reform and people willing to take risks for the American entrepreneurial dream.

Mary Landrieu’s drawn a line in the sand on the public option – and is standing squarely on the wrong side of it:

As for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who opposes the public option for bizarre reasons, and doesn’t seem to understand precisely what the public option even is, she told NPR this afternoon that the polls showing strong national support for the idea don’t matter, because Americans are wrong.
“I think if you asked, ‘Do you want a public option but it would force the government to go bankrupt,’ people would say ‘No,'” Landrieu said.
Now, I’ll gladly concede that popularity does not always denote merit. In other words, sometimes polls will show public attitudes pointing in one direction, but that doesn’t make the direction necessarily correct.
But Landrieu’s arguments are getting increasingly incoherent. Yes, if you asked people if they want the government to go bankrupt, chances are pretty good the poll results would be one-sided. But why on earth does Landrieu think a public option would bankrupt the government? Does she realize that the public option is a way to save money?

I don’t think anyone who’s as demonstrably stupid as Landrieu can realize simple facts like that.

You know what Americans like as much as the public option?  Subjecting the insurance industry to anti-trust laws.  Damn skippy!

Elsewhere on the public option front, Nancy Pelosi says the President has been quite clear enough on his desire for the public option, thankyousoverymuch, and moreover is hunting down the votes she’ll need to make sure we get a public option.  I’m liking her more and more every day.

Rep. Weiner reminds his colleagues that there is no chance for a do-over.  Hopefully, he’ll manage to hammer that through a few thick skulls.

And, finally, Nate Silver believes the momentum’s shifting in favor of the public option.  Of all the things that have given me confidence that this could, indeed, happen, his assessment gives me the most optimism.

Strange feeling, that.

Hey, Look! Consumer Protections with Huge Fucking Holes!

That’s Congress, watching out for (their own) interests:

The House Financial Services Committee approved a controversial amendment, opposed by Chairman Barney Frank, to exempt auto financing from independent dealers from the oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. The vote was 47-21, with a large number of Democrats joining with Republicans. I’ll have the full committee breakdowns for you when I get them. The panel did approve the creation of the CFPA by a 39-29 count, ignoring the massive lobbying campaign trying to kill it outright.
The auto dealer exemption is probably the worst amendment in the entire Financial Services Committee markup on regulatory reform. You can make a case for some of the other amendments, and Rep. Frank said on Rachel Maddow’s show last night that the committee will pass the reform bill today that gives Democrats and the Administration “90% of what we wanted.” But this is part of that other 10%. Auto financing is typically the second-largest purchase a family makes, behind housing, and the horror stories of auto loan customers being ripped off are voluminous. The amendment was authored by Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), a former auto dealer who has been ripped by consumer groups for having major conflicts of interests.
The consumer groups, which also include organizations that want election reform, say that Campbell should walk away from his amendment for two reasons. First, because six auto dealerships pay him rent and would benefit from his amendment and he would benefit. And second, that Campbell received $170,000 in campaign contributions from auto dealers since he’s run for Congress.
The groups say Campbell’s personal financial disclosure forms show he received between $600,000 and $6 million in rent last year.
Campbell’s “defense” is that four of the six properties are no longer car dealers, having gone out of business – so two still are, and the amendment will directly shield them from oversight. He also says that the House Ethics Committee approved him authoring the amendment, without giving details. It turns out that Campbell recused himself from a vote last year on bailing out the automakers, based on a conflict of interest, but in this case, writing the amendment exempting them from oversight is OK with him.

And okay with a rather distressing number of Dems and Cons.  Methinks we need to sit Congress down for a long talk about ethics, public service, and votes.

Your Daily Dose of Health Care Reform Stupidity

I know.  It’s a big dose, and it doesn’t taste very good, and you’d rather have some nice ice cream instead.  But if thee takes their medicine, thee shall have a treat afterward.

We won’t begin with stupidity, though.  For those who want to stop, take a breath, and get a lay of the land, Steve Benen’s provided us an assessment of where we are in both the Senate and House.  Useful stuff.

Now, on with the stupid.  And connoisseurs of batshit insane stupid really must not miss Bachmann and Ingraham blathering about how health care reform opposition is the “pro-freedom agenda.”  Seriously.  They think that freedom means living in fear of getting a hideous illness, losing health insurance, and having to make the choice between death for one and bankruptcy for the whole family.  Mmm, smell the freedom!

The latest dumb GOP anti-health care reform attack: using a CBO report on a bill that no longer exists to attack reform as too expensive.  They surely do love them their out-of-date attacks, don’t they?

On the Dem front, so-called centrists could still screw us all.  How they can be considered centrists when they’re standing against the wishes of the vast majority of the country is beyond my comprehension.

Jay Rockefeller’s showing signs of going jello again.  If you’re a constituent, you might want to tell him that repeating that “public option’s not the most important part of reform” talking point the White House is so enamored of is a bad idea.  And you might, while you’re at it, ask why opt-outs are such an attractive idea.  I’m still not too sure about that one.

There’s still some signs of life in the Dems, though.  For one thing, there’s a movement afoot to stop talking about the public option and start talking about Medicare Part E.  Nice one.

Grayson put up a memorial to the 44,000+ folks who die every year due to lack of insurance.  Too bad the site got punked.

Nancy Pelosi’s thrown down the gauntlet on the public option.  And Rep. Grijalva says she only needs 8 more votes to make it happen.  So close we can taste it, my darlings.

Time, then, we gird ourselves for the last battles of the war.

Here’s “the best health care system in the world” in action: a man dies of swine flu after getting kicked out of the ER.  What was that about all Americans being covered because we can all get treatment in the ER?

And our insurance companies are fantastic – if you’re not sick, will never get sick, and moreover aren’t female.  If you are female, you’re fucked.  Here’s one insurance company demanding that a woman get sterilized before they’ll cover her (h/t).  And it looks like I’m out of luck if I ever lose coverage through my employer, seeing as how I not only have asthma, but being a rape survivor is also a pre-existing condition:

The most recent example of this is recounted at about a rape survivor from Tampa, FL named Chris Turner. When Chris began looking for health insurance after her sexual assault, the insurance companies she contacted told her they would deny coverage to a rape survivor. Chris had described to them a hypothetical rape victim (which was actually her), and told them of being proactive following her assault, by seeking preventative anti-HIV medicated and counseling. Apparently, that was a little too pro-active for insurance companies.
After her rape, Chris had been so afraid that she had been unable to leave her house for some time. Chris had no choice but to seek help. The steps she took to heal after her sexual assault became obstacles to her future health and well-being, and these were cited for reasons why insurance companies refused to insure her.
So what would Chris have had to do in order to not be rejected from receiving coverage after being raped? Get into a time machine and undo this terrible experience that was out of her control? Almost. In order to qualify for insurance coverage at all, Chris would have had to have tested negative for HIV for two to three years, along with completing one to two years of intensive counseling (depending on the specific insurance company and plan).

Isn’t that special?  No one told me when I reported my rape that I’d not only have to relive the experience in front of a courtroom full of strangers, but also have to jump through hoops for insurance companies so that maybe, possibly, they’d decide I’d been a good little rape victim and could have some health insurance after all.  This makes me want to go looking for private coverage, actually.  I’m good at shouting at people.  I’d seriously enjoy shouting at insurance company fucktards for turning down rape survivors.  I’d graphically describe for them the unhappy event and its aftermath, forcing them to suffer through every detail, and then hammer them over their infliction of further trauma.  I’d bring cameras.  It would be awesome.

If anyone’s wanting to make a film, do let me know.

Now.  I promised thee a treat, and a treat thee shall have.  Nothing tastes better than Al Franken delivering the truth to fucktards:

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Medical Debt: Can Bankruptcy Reform Facilitate a Fresh Start.” The hearing examined medical bankruptcies in America, and witnesses included CAP fellow Elizabeth Edwards and Kerry Burns, a Rhode Island mother who was forced into “financial ruin” by her late son’s medical bills.
One of the highlights of the hearing was when Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) questioned Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Diana Furchtgott-Roth about medical bankruptcies. Franken asked Furchtgott-Roth — who claimed that moving towards a European-style system of universal health care would increase bankruptcies — about how many medical bankruptcies there were in countries that have universal health care, like Switzerland and France. Furchtgott-Rott repeatedly told Franken that she didn’t “have that number,” and Franken informed her that the number was actually zero:

FRANKEN: I think we disagree on whether health care reform, the health care reform that we’re talking about in Congress now should pass. You said that the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many medical bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number in front of me, but I can find out and get back to you.

FRANKEN: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: I don’t have that number, but I can get back to you if I like.

FRANKEN: Yeah, the number is zero. Do you know how many were in Germany?

FURCHTGOTT-ROTT: From the trend of your questions, I’m assuming the number is zero. But I don’t know the precise number and would have to get back to you.

FRANKEN: Well, you’re very good. Very fast. The point is, I think we need to go in that direction, not the opposite direction. Thank you.

Sen. Franken, you are a thing of beauty.  Thank you.

Oh, Dear, He’s Gone Shrill Again

And when Paul Krugman goes shrill, it’s time to brace for impact (h/t):

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. O.K., maybe not literally the worst, but definitely bad. And the contrast between the immense good fortune of a few and the continuing suffering of all too many boded ill for the future.
I’m talking, of course, about the state of the banks.
But it’s not a simple case of flourishing banks versus ailing workers: banks that are actually in the business of lending, as opposed to trading, are still in trouble. Most notably, Citigroup and Bank of America, which silenced talk of nationalization earlier this year by claiming that they had returned to profitability, are now — you guessed it — back to reporting losses.
But there’s an even bigger problem: while the wheeler-dealer side of the financial industry, a k a trading operations, is highly profitable again, the part of banking that really matters — lending, which fuels investment and job creation — is not. Key banks remain financially weak, and their weakness is hurting the economy as a whole.
You may recall that earlier this year there was a big debate about how to get the banks lending again. Some analysts, myself included, argued that at least some major banks needed a large injection of capital from taxpayers, and that the only way to do this was to temporarily nationalize the most troubled banks. The debate faded out, however, after Citigroup and Bank of America, the banking system’s weakest links, announced surprise profits. All was well, we were told, now that the banks were profitable again.
But a funny thing happened on the way back to a sound banking system: last week both Citi and BofA announced losses in the third quarter. What happened?
Part of the answer is that those earlier profits were in part a figment of the accountants’ imaginations. More broadly, however, we’re looking at payback from the real economy. In the first phase of the crisis, Main Street was punished for Wall Street’s misdeeds; now broad economic distress, especially persistent high unemployment, is leading to big losses on mortgage loans and credit cards.
And here’s the thing: The continuing weakness of many banks is helping to perpetuate that economic distress. Banks remain reluctant to lend, and tight credit, especially for small businesses, stands in the way of the strong recovery we need.
[W]e desperately need to pass effective financial reform. For if we don’t, bankers will soon be taking even bigger risks than they did in the run-up to this crisis. After all, the lesson from the last few months has been very clear: When bankers gamble with other people’s money, it’s heads they win, tails the rest of us lose.

So, Mr. President, how’s about listening to a fellow Nobel laureate instead of the stable of assclowns currently advising you on economic policy?  Before, y’know, it’s too late.