Archive for Health care

Is America politically mature enough for single payer healthcare?

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single payer smaller

Back in 2011, I wrote Single payer to replace Obama health care plan in Vermont? Possibly. In a post of 2012, Rep. Jim McDermott's legislation may enable states to offer single payer healthcare, the L.A. Times ticked off reason after reason why such a plan would be superior to what we have now. Then our own Sherry Howarth asked this back in April: Are the Green Mountain Progressives Going to Pull Off Single Payer?

And now, one of my faves, Michael Hiltzik, has written another thoughtful column for the Los Angeles Times. This one asks if America has the "political maturity" to support single payer healthcare, especially after the dreadful Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Corp. Justices.

Hiltzik narrows it all down to the perpetual fight over abortion being the real obstacle to a single payer system. Once we stop our bitter squabbling and resolve that issue (not an easy task), it would open the door to enacting the same successful system so many countries around the world currently use. As Hiltzik notes, "That's not a permanent condition -- sooner or later, the gridlock will have to give, because the public won't stand for total inaction forever."

The entire column is worth a read, so please link over. He begins by responding to something Ezra Klein wrote. He ends this way:

[O]nly a mature system will be able to enact single-payer, so it's pointless to worry about it being hampered by childishness once it's in place.

Let's think again about abortion. There's no point in worrying that a single-payer program would bar abortion -- the thing to worry about is that the abortion debate will be an obstacle to enacting a single-payer plan at all. So clearly, the abortion issue will have to be resolved first.

Ezra Klein is right. Single-payer does have many virtues, and it does have some problems.

But under our current system post-Hobby Lobby, scientifically uninformed employers can interfere in the medical decisions of thousands of their workers. Obviously, that's the worst of all possible worlds.

Single-payer's problems, however, are either resolvable or conjectural, while its virtues are manifest. We should keep our eye on those, and worry about the problems when the time comes.

As we say on Google Plus: +1.

sign single payer health care smaller

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Sen. Grassley's Staff Gets Nabbed In His Own Investigation

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The SEC lawsuit alleges that the House staffer, Brian Sutter, spoke with a lobbyist -- identified by the Journal as Mark Hayes - - who happens to be a former aide to Grassley -- on the day of the leak.

Oopsy. Looks like Grassley not only found his leaker, the dude worked for him. Now Grassley may have to recuse himself from the hearings because he himself might be called as a witness, or even more concerning, as a part of the insider trading conspiracy scandal itself.

 

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Dep't. of WTF: #Christie, George Will, Obama urinal cakes (!), Planned Parenthood edition

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wtf girl

Every so often I read a cluster(f***) of stories that simultaneously has me shaking my head, mumbling "no words..." and screaming WTF!?  Today is one of those times. There were more stories than I could list in the headline, so you get a bonus link. Suffice it to say, I need a Valium. Or at the very least, some Pepto Bismol with a chaser of Pinot.

Welcome to today's Moments of WTF. Let's start the show off with everyone's favorite fallen GOP star, Chris Christie:

I have complete faith and confidence in Scott,” Christie said, according to The Bergen Record, adding: “I believe he has great integrity.” (via TPM)

Seriously, Gov. War on Drugs? You have "complete faith and confidence" in this Scott?

Then again, look who's talking. Moving on to George Will's horrible rape column. Via Think Progress:

...Washington Post columnist George Will wrote a column claiming that being a rape victim is now a “coveted status” that college women seek out. Will argued that complaints of rape and sexual assualt on college campus were overblown. He also suggested that women claiming to be raped were “delusional.”

Pot. Kettle. Delusional. Speaking of which...

A George Will column about sexual assault, which received lots of criticism and caused one newspaper to drop the longtime syndicated conservative columnist, had all male editors, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported on Friday. (via TPM)

Par for the Republican course.

Next up: Faith And Freedom Conference Features Obama Urinal Cakes. You read that right. Far, far right:

Classy, guys, real classy. Remind us to point this out again the next time someone complains that we called GW Bush a chimp.

So are you ready for the Planned Parenthood link yet? I'll wait while you get something sharp with which to poke your eye out.

All set? Here we go, a field trip to WalkerWorld. You remember Walker, right? He's the guy Chris Christie has "complete faith and confidence" in. Via the Green Bay Press Gazette:

MADISON — Planned Parenthood will close its family planning health center in Fond du Lac on Sept. 25 after 36 years of service to the community.

It is the fifth Wisconsin Planned Parenthood health center to close due to state cuts in the last budget cycle, according to a Planned Parenthood news release. [...]

The centers provided birth control, cervical and breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, Well Woman Exams, pregnancy testing, and HIV testing. None of the health centers provided abortions, the release said. The centers provided 18,848 health care services to 3,104 patients each year... Gov. Walker ended state funding for women who receive health care at Planned Parenthood. This, coupled with the governor’s rejection of federal funds to expand health care coverage and the drastic rollback of BadgerCare coverage, has increased the need for affordable health care options. These politically motivated actions will have a significant impact on women seeking affordable health care.”

What "great integrity" Scotty has, right Chris Christie? When you're done gagging and pledging donations to Democratic candidates, I'll resume.

Okay, here we go, today's final WTF Department entry. There are plenty more where these came from, but there's only so much we can take in one sitting. This story involves the always-and-ever-vile and thankfully-former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL). Need a refresher course on this asshat? Here you go, scroll your hearts out. Via HuffPo:

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois), the outspoken, tea party-backed congressman who was ousted in 2012 after just one term in Congress, went on a Twitter rampage Thursday evening after being kicked off his own radio program for using racial slurs on-air. [...]

Walsh, by his own account, used several epithets during a discussion on the Redskins' controversial name, including the n-word."

Please link over for the details. In fact, link over to all the stories, because a snippet does not the whole story tell.

And that concludes today's Department of WTF.

smile keep smiling

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The Perfect VA Secretary Replacement For Shinseki

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VA Veteran's Administration

Okay, there's a big job opening now in the Washington area -- a cabinet post. It's the position of running the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There's probably not a less desirable position right now as the scandals and systemic problems have blown wide open. There's trouble in this most important Veterans division and it's not going to be solved by the normal political appointment to someone who's been faithful to the president and gets tabbed onto the cabinet to fulfill a political favor.

This time it's different. Whoever takes this job is most likely going to fail. At best, he or she will be under such scrutiny that they'll be tested beyond most mortal breaking points.

Let's face it, the VA is on life support. Without a heart transplant, the patient will never recover.

So what's a president to do? Fortunately President Obama is getting a lot of suggestions. Here are the top five, according to a report from The Hill: (abridged)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal who was forced to resign from his position as a top commander in Afghanistan [because he couldn't control his personal staff], Retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli who served in the Obama administration as the former vice chief for the Army, Retired Admiral Michael Mullen who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff in both the Bush and Obama administrations and finally, Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress.

All of these folks are serious contenders to replace VA Secretary General Shinseki. And all of them are WRONG.

First off, the problems with the department are not military. They are organizational. They require a man or woman who can handle the demands of building a corporate structure from the ground up. The new leader doesn't need to know how to handle a weapon or understand the horrors of war. They need to understand a monetary bottom line and hospital administration. We saw what a stellar job General Shinseki did during his stint. He may have been a terrific military general and leader, but he didn't have a scintilla of skills in hospital administration. He was clueless as are the other military leaders on this list. So strike off McChrystal, Chiarelli and Mullen. Brave military personnel, sure. But knowing how to build a hospital's cost-effective flow chart, not so much.

That leaves Reed and Walz. Start with Reed. A lawyer, he might be able to see some of the issues but again, this isn't a legal problem, it's structural. And even more important, the control of the Senate is in the balance this year. No reason for another Democratic-held senate seat to be put in play. So Reed's out.

Finally that gives us Walz. He's a good guy, a military background capping out at sergeant. Hardly admiral or general, but again, rank isn't the issue here. This is a hospital and health care problem. When Walz wasn't in the army, he was teaching history. Good for him. And good for us. But not good for the job at hand.

So where should Obama turn? Why to the Republicans, of course. As this is a thankless job and there's really no one outside of the political realm with the skill set to handle it, there are two choices. One is grab a hospital administrator from a flourishing medical organization or... wait for it-- pick a sitting GOP senator. Even one not up for reelection this year. Put their seat into play to increase the chances for the Democrats to keep control over the Senate.

Here are a few names --Roy Blunt. Maybe take him out of the Senate and his state's Democratic Governor, Jay Nixon will appoint a Democrat there. Or how about a lady like Kelly Ayotte? Maybe this whole thing needs a woman's touch. And coming from New Hampshire, with a Democratic Governor, she could be replaced with a Democrat. Certainly John McCain and Lindsay Graham would be losing their shadow, but if it's for the good of the country they could never vote against her. The same could be said for Senator John Boozman from Arkansas or Mark Kirk from Illinois. Both their states have a Democratic governor.

Obama should see this opening as a legacy opportunity. He can save the back half of his second term if the Senate stays blue. The VA isn't going to be fixed over night, but with a Republican in the position of having to fix things, it's never going to work and yet the GOP won't be able to stymie any legit chances to make changes, even if it's going to cost money. Remember, 44 senate Republicans voted against increasing the VA's budget.  So this becomes a win-win for Democrats and more importantly, for our brave veterans.

Hopefully Obama and his advisers are listening.

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WI judge: "I remain troubled… with the inflexibility" of restrictive abortion law

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abortion choice my mind my body

Republican-run states have done everything they can to legally abolish women's reproductive rights, including reasonable access to abortions. One way to do this is to circumvent their constitutional right to the procedure by shutting down women's health clinics. Wisconsin is one of those states. Others include Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. A federal judge in Wisconsin has put a temporary stop such legislation that severely restricts abortion providers, legislation that GOP Gov. Scott Walker signed into law last July.

Milwaukee women would have to travel about 85 miles one-way to a clinic in Chicago in order to get the health services they need.

But a judge has raised his judicial eyebrows at the extreme demands placed on physicians. Via PostCrescent.com:

A federal judge said Friday he is worried that a Wisconsin law requiring abortion providers to get hospital admitting privileges is too rigid.

Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services sued the state last summer, arguing the requirement will force AMS’s Milwaukee clinic to close because its doctors can’t get admitting privileges. [...]

Conley noted that the law provided no grace period and gave abortion providers no recourse if they couldn’t get the privileges. He also said it could dampen clinics’ efforts to recruit new providers who would essentially have to come to the clinics with admitting privileges in-hand.

“I remain troubled … with the inflexibility of the law,” he said.

I remain troubled by the GOP and their hypocritical proclamations of outreach efforts to women and minorities.

I remain troubled by the GOP and their hypocritical cries for individual freedom and less government intrusion into our private lives.

I remain troubled by the GOP hypocritical stomping all over our constitutional rights as they bellow about Democrats (specifically President Obama) stomping all over their constitutional rights.

The judge's final ruling won't come for at least six weeks.

outreach my ass reach out inclusive

freedom my ass 2

 

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Sen. Begich Debuts Outline For Democrats To Retain Senate

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women work and vote

It's not all that complicated for Democrats to hold the Senate. It really isn't. And from the largest state in the union, Alaska, comes the way to do it.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) released a new statewide radio ad Monday in which he hits his Republican opponents for their records on abortion, contraceptive coverage, equal pay and the minimum wage.

President Obama asked the most salient question of Republicans regarding Obamacare and they still haven't answered -- Why is the GOP so determined to keep millions of Americans off of affordable health care?

Begich points out Democrats have to ask their opponents why they feel women are second class citizens, incapable of taking care of themselves. Why are they letting old white men tell them what they can and cannot do with their bodies? Why shouldn't women get the same pay for the same job as a man? Why not raise the minimum wage? The last vote on minimum wage was 2007. Isn't it time we bump it up to a livable wage? And though this is not an gender issue per se:

Center For American Progress Action Fund:

In 2011 more than 62 percent of minimum-wage workers were women compared to just 38 percent of male minimum-wage workers. Slightly more than 2.5 million women earn the minimum wage or less, while approximately 1.5 million men do. This imbalance is even more drastic once you consider that women were just 46.9 percent of all employed workers in 2011.

If Democrats run on these issues, as well as immigration reform, they're going to hold the Senate. The House Dems need to take on and point out the same forceful issues, plus tabbing the $26 Billion cost of the Republican-led government shutdown and million more on 50+ votes against Obamacare to their campaigns. The refusal to vote on the unemployment extension will also take its toll on the Republicans. They're not looking as rosy red as they might try to make us believe. They are truly vulnerable despite gerrymandering and voter repression.  Reclaiming the House altogether isn't totally outside of reality, though it's going to take huge get-out-the-vote organization.

This isn't rocket science.  It's common sense.

WaPo:

Republicans have watched with rising alarm as female voters, especially younger and unmarried ones, have moved toward ­Democratic hopefuls. Democrats have exploited inarticulate or sexist remarks by some Republicans and harsh antiabortion measures passed in GOP-led legislatures or sponsored by party candidates.

So let's keep reminding the populace of the Republican "Hos and Bitches" way of addressing women and their issues. The lawless Republican Party of Cliven Bundy supporters is making noise. But with common sense and our votes, we can defeat them.

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"GOP politicians still care." Sure they do... about themselves.

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gop politicians Dear America I don't care

How much more proof do we need that GOP politicians care very little about us, but care very deeply about money, power, domination, and prestige? While Democrats fight for equal pay, equal rights, voting rights, women's rights, gay rights, civil rights, free public education, health care for all, and a safe, clean environment, GOP politicians do whatever it takes to benefit their donors. And the donors do whatever it takes to buy elections and destroy their competitors while clawing for status, increasing their own assets, and boosting their own clout.

It is not about caring. It is all about control.

This is not to say that Dems don't indulge in that kind of thing, too. Of course they do. But anyone can see by the restrictive, extremist laws attempted by and/or passed by GOP state and national legislators (racial, gender, sexual discrimination, trans-vaginal probes, personhood for blastocysts, and repeal Obamacare 50 times, anyone?) that the health and welfare of the American people are not exactly first and foremost on what's left of narrow GOP minds.

What makes it even worse is their blatant hypocrisy. We see them all over the media indulging in their self-righteous "pro-life" posturing. This as they support polluting (killing) our planet, using capital punishment to kill the (all too often wrongly) convicted, and Second Amendmenting anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. And their base eats it up.

GOP politicians boast about their "family values." Yet they play the base card while cheating on their wives in Argentina or concealing their own sexual orientation while pushing anti-gay initiatives.

All this because they care.

Think about it:

Which party is it that came up with the slogan "drill, baby, drill" despite the dire consequences and debilitating illnesses we're already seeing as a result of their deadly reverence of fossil fuels?

Which party is it that resorts to cheating (gerrymandering, Voter I.D. laws, cutting back early voting, caging) in order to win elections?

Which party is it that refuses to pay women the same salaries as men?

Which party is it that rallied around their "Patriot" O' the Day, racist scofflaw Cliven Bundy?

Which party is it that sworetogod they would turn over a new leaf and reach out to a more diverse spectrum of voters... and then did just the opposite?

Hint: Not Democrats.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re “Obama's Keystone trap,” Opinion, April 22

Goldberg writes: “GOP politicians still care about the environment, but they take their cues from public opinion, not the green lobby.”

Who does Goldberg consider to be the green lobby? The vast majority of climate scientists whose opinion is disregarded? If the GOP cares as much about the environment as he suggests, where are the party's environmental leaders?

Climate change is not simply another problem among the others (habitat loss, ocean acidification and more) that Goldberg lists; it underlies these problems.

Mary Clumeck

Santa Ana

***

We can all sleep a bit better knowing that “GOP politicians still care about the environment.”

And I assume that we can look forward to the GOP leadership on increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for women, contraceptive coverage in medical plans, increasing the marginal tax rate on the very wealthy, providing routes to citizenship for illegal immigrants, legalization of marijuana and recognition for gay marriages.

After all, Goldberg assures us that GOP politicians “take their cues from public opinion.”

Ed Grubbs

Spring Valley, Calif.

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