Posts tagged HCR
As many of you know, I have a disabled son. Severely disabled. I am, therefore, on a whole bunch of email lists devoted to caring for, advocating for, and parenting those with various forms of disabilities from Autism Specrum disorders to cerebral palsy to any number of other disabilities. Some relatively ‘mild’ and some extremely complex and involved. They are close-knit, highly supportive, worldwide and diverse groups. It’s not uncommon to read horror stories of health insurance fiascos, educational fiascos, medical fiascos. We all support one another and these lists are a phenomenal resource for such parents.
That’s all background information to lead in to this email that came across the list the other day. The poster prefaced it by saying that it didn’t have to do with one of their kids, but that the list was such a great and resourceful group, maybe someone had some suggestions. So here is the email:
A friend of mine from high school and her husband found out that he has stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to his brain and hip and is all over both lungs (it’s the type that non-smokers get…has a special gene or something). Anyway, they didn’t have health insurance, so he had been sick for a LONG time before they finally took him to the hospital. The only symptoms he had were depression and pain in his hip (they thought he had hurt it).
Anyway, he was in the hospital having radiation to try to shrink some of the tumors. Had a shunt placed in his head, had PT trying to get him up and walking again. Then they moved him to a rehab place.
Well, he seems to be getting worse, so they are now talking about a nursing home or someplace he can get 24 hour care.
He was approved for disability, but since Medicare doesn’t kick in for 2 YEARS, he only now has Medicaid and they won’t cover the whole bill for a nursing home, so they are going to take ALL but $65 a month of his disability check. My friend works, but they are so behind in bills right now, she doesn’t know what to do. They are probably going to lose their house. She KNOWS it’s only a matter of time before he dies, but at first they said he might have 9 months to live, or with a new lung cancer drug, MAYBE a few years.
She gets a bit in food stamps to at least help her eat. She’s been working half time (she’s worked at a daycare for the last 20+ years – so not a lot of income), so she can be with him and talk to the doctor and be part of his care, but that won’t pay her bills.
Is there ANYTHING they can do? They live in Spokane Washington. He is a pretty big guy (6 feet at least) and she’s a small lady, so doubt she could care of him all alone anyway, but she just wants to be able to be with him as much as possible during the time he has left.
The only programs I know about are for children. Is there ANYTHING out there for adults?
Can a person get SSI as well as SSDI or is it one or the other?
He also was in the Air Force, so not sure if there are any options that he might have due to that?
I am sick to my stomach for her. He’s just over 40 years old. He’s never smoked….she feels guilty because she DOES smoke. NEVER smokes in the house around him, but she keeps thinking, should have been me, etc.
That story, in and of itself, shows, at least to me, the horrifying nature of the Health Care fiasco in this country. This man and his family should not have had to avoid going to see a doctor because they didn’t have health insurance. Caught early, he was likely treatable. By stage 4, things are much more dire. So lack of health insurance, in this man’s case, was effectively a death sentence. And then it gets worse. His family will be impoverished. There will, no doubt, be a “medical bankruptcy” in the future. It is important to note that the United States of America is the only country on earth where “medical bankruptcy” happens.
The first response to this email was even more disheartening. Not because it wasn’t a heartfelt suggestion, or a compassionate response. Just that such a response was even an option. Here is that response:
I don’t really have any sugestions other than maybe the American Cancer Society or a local charity but my prayers are with them.
A charity. Some of you who were around and paying attention during the enormous health care debate in 2009 may remember the comments of Republican Congressman from Virginia (now House Majority Leader) Eric Cantor when he suggested that a cancer sufferer seek charity for treatment. It is no less outrageous now.
Why is it somehow acceptable that the richest nation in the history of mankind cannot provide medical coverage to all of its citizens? Why are we the only major industrialized nation on earth that refuses to do so? Why is this ok? Why, when it is proposed to allow access to basic medical coverage for all Americans, does the wing-nut fringe begin to scream so loudly? And why do we, the rest of us, those with an ounce of common sense and compassion, not shame them repeatedly for their lack of compassion and selfishness?
As a country, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We should be ashamed that we let the Insurance Industry, which generates billions of dollars in pure profits every year, an industry in which the CEO of United Health Group, one of the nation’s largest insurers, can be paid over $100 million dollars. We should demand better. We should demand that every citizen be given access to basic medical coverage and basic treatment. Basic medical treatment is not a privilege in this day and age. it is a right.
So the next time someone starts crowing about “Obamacare” and “socialized medicine” point out the utter heartlessness of their desire to deny healthcare to ordinary, hard-working Americans. Don’t let them prattle on with their dog-whistle racist malarkey about “welfare queens” and “getting something for nothing.” And by all means, don’t let them feed you the utter bullshit of “everyone has access to healthcare. They can walk in to any Emergency Room and get treated.” That is, quite simply, a lie. Yes, they can walk in and get treatment, thanks to laws (which were probably vehemently opposed by Republicans) forbidding hospitals to determine whether or not a patient could pay before getting treatment. But those same folks who walk in to an ER for treatment will still get a bill. Which they will be expected to pay. And if they can’t pay it, they will have to either have their pay garnished to pay it, even if that takes 100 years, or file for bankruptcy. Medical Bankruptcy. That term again. And those of us lucky enough to have insurance will end up paying the bill for that uninsured person who walks into the ER. We pay it through higher medical costs for treatment, and higher insurance premiums.
I will end with this: To me, the phrase “medical bankruptcy” only says to me “moral bankruptcy.” The fact that this country allows medical bankruptcy to exist at all says that we are morally bankrupt because we do not take care of our own citizens. We do not care for our neighbors. We do not care for those less fortunate than us. We do not care for everyone.
There has been much progress recently for people affected by lupus!
As you may know, earlier this month the FDA approved the first new lupus treatment in over 50 years, belimumab (trade name Benlysta®). With this exciting news, we at the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) want to provide a discussion about some of the treatments available for those with lupus.
In our most recent podcast, Treatments for Lupus, we spoke with Dr. Joseph Craft about common lupus therapies.* Dr. Craft explains what various drug treatments are targeted to treat from a medical standpoint. We also discuss where research is leading for potential drug therapies and why we must continue to fund critical research into the prevention and treatment of lupus, and ultimately a cure. We hope you find this discussion useful in understanding more about typical lupus treatments currently being used and where research is pointing in the direction of potential medical care in the future.
Dr. Joseph Craft is the chief of rheumatology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the former ALR Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) chair.
While you’re visiting our website to listen to the podcast, please check out our new website design!
Subscribe to our FREE podcasts on iTunes and new segments will be automatically downloaded for you, or you can also check back with the ALR website for the latest in lupus news.
Leading the way to a cure.
*This podcast is meant to be informational and any individual who is being treated for lupus should consult their healthcare provider to determine the therapy that is right for them.
I’d love to post about how this is just such a crazy, whacky, ridiculous idea. That no one in their right mind would think or do such despicable things. But that would mean I didn’t know much about the US Health Insurance Industry.
And then realize that, as outrageous and outlandish and ridiculous as that sounded … it’s actually true. Yes, it is. It really is.
The kinds of things these vultures do is truly not to be believed. And yet. And yet. And yet the teaparty crazies and the entire Republican Party think they are doing just great. That we have the “greatest system in the world.” Because they confuse health care with health insurance.
Sure, we have a great medical system in this country. We have some of the most technologically advanced and expensive medical care anywhere in the world. You can’t get better, or more expensive. So if you have great big bags of money following you around, everything is great. The bigger the bags of money, the more insulated from the realities of the Insurance System you are.
But if you happen to be one of us “real Americans” that actually works for a living, and depends on health insurance to stay alive, or keep your child alive, then you know differently. You’ve likely experienced the truly macabre nature of the Insurance Industry.
Our system of health insurance is among the most medieval and backwards of anywhere in the developed world. That’s pretty easy, since we are the only developed country that doesn’t cover all of its citizens. We are the only one with the idea of “medical bankruptcy” at all. No one else does that.
Again, health insurance is great, if you can get it, and keep it. But the Health Insurance industry, despite all their touchy-feely ads about how much they care, only cares about one thing. Profit. They are in business to make money. They are not in business to pay doctors or hospitals. They are not in business to make sure you get the best possible medical care. They are in the business of collecting as many premium dollars as they possibly can, and keeping them if at all possible. That means not giving those premium dollars back to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. See, every dollar they pay out for your care is a dollar they can’t count as profit, which is bad for business.
Sick people are bad for business. Very sick people are very bad for business. So the fewer sick people they can insure, the more money they make. The faster they can get rid of you should you become sick, the more money they make. The more of your claims they can lose, mis-handle, deny, or otherwise wriggle out of paying, the more money they make. If you happen to die while they are losing your paperwork or denying your claim, all the better for them. Again, they don’t care about you. They care about your money. They care about keeping your money.
So the next time you hear someone going on and on about how we have the best healthcare in the world, remember this: We don’t. By almost no measure do we. And our system of health insurance should be illegal.
Profit should not be a motive when it comes to my health, or yours.
Wow. I’m stunned. Truly. I’d be speechless if I weren’t so completely and utterly and thoroughly pissed off. This is, quite possibly, the single most ignorant and hateful thing I’ve heard any Republican say, in public (excluding, of course, the King of the Nutters Glenn Beck and the Prince of Vile Rush Limbaugh). Read this quote, from New Hampshire State Representative Martin Harty:
Asked what he meant, she said Harty clarified, “You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions – the defective people society would be better off without.”
There’s more. Disgusting and abhorrent as that comment is, there’s more.
Harty said nature has a way of “getting rid of stupid people,” and “now we’re saving everyone who gets born.”
I wonder what the “Right-to-Life” nutters will have to say about this? I wonder if that shrill small mind from Alaska will wind up her hamster-wheel and say anything. Oh, wait, I see the loophole these folks will try to drive through. We have to save them all before they’re born. Once they’re born, of course, we weed out the ‘undesirables’ and, in Harty’s own words, “ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.”
Yes, he said that.
I have to give this guy credit though. When contacted to confirm his hateful and ignorant views, he was apparently not bright enough to deny, or spin, or backtrack. No, instead of trying to walk the comments back, he confirmed them.
So these are his views. This is truly what he believes. So my question is, Mr. Harty, who gets to decide what constitutes “mentall ill” and “disabled”? Because from where I sit, you are both. In spades. And I don’t say this lightly, because this is a serious thing to say, but I actually believe that the world would be a better place if you were not in it.
The world does not need people so full of judgement and bile and hate. People who think that they are somehow ‘superior’ to others and deserve more and better ant the expense of others. I fully understand that this is the basic premise of the Republican party these days and you are just giving voice, in the most extreme way possible, to what the rest of your party actually stands for, but that does not make it any more vile and despicable.
How about I bring my son to your house and let you tell me (and him) how you would like to kill him. Specifically. You’d like that, right?
After writing this post in a coffee shop, i decided I should really hear from the man himself. His phone number — listed as his home phone number — is given on the Legislator Page linked above. So I got in my car and dialed. He answered on the 6th ring and was perfectly willing to speak to me. I did not berate him. I was respectful and kind, yet I pressed him on the issues he raised, and pressed him to confirm his quotes and views. Unlike most Republicans these days, he served his country and has earned a level of respect and I gave him that respect.
Here are a few of the things I learned:
- He does, indeed, stand by the things he said. He’s not all that clear on how to implement them, he says, but he’s sticking by them, for the most part.
- He now says that he was ‘joking’ with the woman who asked him these things. He understands, he says, that these are not joking matters, and that he should not joke about them. It’s not clear if he really believes this line about ‘joking’ or not. He says that his wife was in the hospital, and he was not doing well, so he probably shouldn’t have said what he said. Probably.
- He seems a decent enough fellow. I’m pretty sure that if other members of the Republican party heard the conversation I had with him, they’d kick him out in a heartbeat. For starters, he thinks a World Government is a great idea and should be implemented. Really.
I could go on. We talked for 20 minutes or so during which time he told me that he was answering his phone and talking to everyone who called. He said some, like me, were reasonable to talk to. Others had berated him and, as he put it, called him every foul name that he couldn’t repeat. He says he never hung up on any of them but heard everyone out. I applaud him for that.
He also said that were the Speaker or the Governor ask him to resign, he would. We then talked at length about whether or not the ‘right’ thing to do would be to resign without being asked, and he said he would think long and hard about that.
I will say that he does sound as if he is not of sound mind. He makes sense, and speaks clearly, but his thoughts are disconnected and at times rather random. He is certainly, in my opinion, not competent to be a Representative in the New Hampshire House. For this, I blame the voters of New Hampshire. If it had been a choice between this guy and a cantaloupe, and you chose this guy, you made the wrong choice. I feel that had he squared off in a debate against almost any fresh fruit, he would have lost. This, New Hampshire, puts you squarely in line behind Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District in terms of bad legislative choices. Next time, vote for the fruit salad.
I fully support MomsRising. And I am really unhappy by the current assault on the most vulnerable in our communities. I told you just yesterday that this assault was coming to all states, not just Wisconsin.
So let’s put a stop to it in NC before it gets to the critical stage it got to in WI.
NC Health Choice is a life saving program to provide quality health coverage for children. This critical program is on the chopping block.
Send a quick note to your legislators and tell them to stand up for the health of NC kids!
Every parent knows the helpless feeling of having a sick child. Imagine if your child had a high fever, but you knew that taking her to the doctor would mean you wouldn’t have enough for rent or food this month because you didn’t have any health insurance.
It’s a terrible decision too many NC parents face right now, and it’s getting worse. With the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the need for health coverage for kids is increasing faster than ever. But the programs providing health care for kids may be on the chopping block!
Can you take a moment right now to tell NC lawmakers that cutting health coverage for NC’s most vulnerable kids is the wrong thing to do?
NC Health Choice is a program to provide quality health coverage for children from low-income working families who make too much for Medicaid but can’t afford individual insurance. Over 130,000 children are currently enrolled in NC Health Choice. But need is increasing faster than program spots. There are more than 100,000 additional NC children eligible right now but not enrolled in the program.
Now the lifesaving care provided by NC Health Choice might be on the chopping block as our state lawmakers try to close NC’s budget shortfall through a cuts-only approach!
Next Tuesday is Children’s Advocacy Day at the NC legislature, and we’re heading back to the General Assembly to add another train car to our “NC Little Engine that Could for Kids”. We’d love to have you join us and many other advocates for children as we personally deliver your messages of why health care for kids matters.
Add your quick note to our train and let your legislature now that health care for kids matters to you!
*If you have a personal experience with Health Choice, please add it in your note. The personal experiences of moms and dads make a big difference when we’re talking to legislators.
Cutting health coverage for kids at time when families are already struggling is the wrong move for NC. We all benefit by investing in health care for kids. Keeping children healthy keeps our state strong and our parents at work.
Our lawmakers need to hear that NC Health Choice is important to the voters in their districts. Please help make sure they hear that health care for the children of NC’s working families is not up for negotiation!
Send your note or share your story today!
And please pass this link along to your friends and family.
Together we are a powerful voice for women and families,
– Beth, Felicia, Sarah, and the whole NC MomsRising.org Team
P.S. Can you join us and help deliver the health care for kids train cars? We’ll be delivering them next Tuesday, March 15, starting at 10 AM at the General Assembly in Raleigh. Send us a note at NorthCarolina@MomsRising.org to let us know if you can make it!
Like what we’re doing? Donate: We’re a bootstrap, low overhead, mom run organization. Your donations make the work of MomsRising.orgpossible–and we deeply appreciate your support. Every little bit counts.
What should MomsRising tackle next? Tell us what’s on your mind.
This is truly horrific. If you thought the Wisconsin GOP ramrodding through the “union busting” bill was only about union busting — which we know it wasn’t — then this may come as a shock to you. Be sitting down.
Among other things (and I highly encourage you to read Karoli’s thorough examination yourself, if you have the stomach for it) it. I’m going to cherry-pick a few things that strike me as particularly egregious and ill-conceived:
- Require cost-sharing from recipients;
- Authorize providers to deny care or services if recipient cannot pay cost-sharing
- Modify (reduce) existing benefits or establish tiered benefits
- Mandate enrollment in managed care
- Restrict or eliminate presumptive eligibility (allowing participants to be excluded via arbitrary definition)
- Restrict benefits to individuals who are not US citizens (note there is no distinction for documented vs. undocumented)
- Reduce income levels for purposes of determining eligibility (currently 185% of Federal Poverty Level)
Note on BadgerCare changes: Those impacted will be those most needy, as well as students. According to this document, programs affected would be BadgerCare Plus for childless adults and the family planning waiver program; Medicaid for elderly, blind and disabled people, Medicare premium assistance programs, Wisconsin Well-Woman Medicaid and SeniorCare to the extent permitted under the Affordable Care Act (which Congressional Republicans seek to repeal, of course)
Retirement and Health Insurance Contributions – Employee pays any required contribution in excess of 5% of earnings. Executives and elected officials will not be required to make any additional contribution. Employees who are entitled to additional contributions for negotiated benefit increases, will have to contribute an additional amount.
So those on medicaid would be required to pay cost-sharing. And if they cannot pay, then providers can deny care or services. Think about that for a minute. A person on medicaid goes to the hospital. They are in dire need of medical attention. They are poor, or severely disabled (that’s why they are on Medicaid). They have no money and cannot pay the “cost-sharing.” They can be denied care and treatment. That, my friends, is a real death panel. Right there. And written by a Republican. Not in “Obamacare.” Nowhere in the Affordable Care Act, in fact. But right there in the WI “Budget Repair” Bill.
And restrict benefits to US Citizens. Yes, you read that right. Even if you are here legally, and have been a hard-working, tax-paying, contributing member of the community, but are not (yet?) a US Citizen, you don’t qualify. More death panel.
And re-read that last paragraph quoted above. Employees pay any required contribution in excess of 5% of earnings. Executives and elected officials are exempted. They just made the law not apply to themselves and their friends. They just made the part of the law that actually costs money not apply to the executives and lawmakers. So the top earners, those in charge, get to eat all they want and stick you with the check. Every time. They eat, you pay.
And in case any of you think that this is just in Wisconsin, think again. Republican legislatures across the country are looking at doing exactly the same things. After they give huge tax breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals to create a ‘fiscal crisis’ that needs solving, of course. Another way to stick you with the check for their meal.
And not to put too fine a point on it, but if you either did not vote last fall, or voted for the Republicans to “send a message” to the Democrats and President Obama? I blame you. This is your fault. Legislation like this in North Carolina would directly affect my son and my family. And I blame you. I blame you because I, and thousands of others like me, warned you that this would happen. We warned you that the Republicans wanted to do these things. We warned you — even those of you in the Tea Party, not that you would listen to anything even remotely resembling reason — that the Republicans didn’t have the interests of the country, of the people, of the voters, at heart. We even tried, many of us, to take you to the polls to vote. And either you wouldn’t go, or you voted for these criminals anyway.
You voted against your self-interests and now, quicker than any of us even expected, the fox has come to eat everything in the hen house. And then burn it to the ground. And after that, he has his sights set firmly on your house, your job, and everything you own. Because the Republicans are not interested in the American people. They serve Big Business, and Industry. And they are only interested in making money. At whatever cost. If they have to kill you to make another dollar, well, in the words of Speaker Boehner, “so be it.”
This may very well be our last chance to stop the thuggery and thievery which the Republicans seem so hell-bent on perpetrating. Think your vote doesn’t matter? Just look what your vote just did. And not voting is still a vote.
Well, even with Republicans firmly in control of both houses in NC for the first time in over 100 years, stupid still didn’t win. Given how stupid has been winning all over the place this week, I will take this as a positive sign that the world is not, indeed, ending.
House sustains veto
Gov. Perdue vetoed House Bill 2, titled the “North Carolina Health Care Protection Act,” citing questions about the bill’s constitutionality, necessity and unintended consequences.
On Wednesday, the N.C. House sustained the veto.
“This is an ill-conceived piece of legislation that’s not good for the people of North Carolina,” Gov. Perdue said last week when she vetoed the bill.
Gov. Perdue’s priorities remain jobs, education and resetting state governm= ent. She said this week she looks forward to working with the General Assembly on those issues.
The constitutionality of the federal health care law is already going to be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, which made House Bill 2 unnecessary, Gov. Perdue said. There were also serious questions about whether the bill itself would have been constitutional and whether it would have cost North Carolina federal Medicaid funding.
To see a short video clip about Gov. Perdue’s veto, click here.
I got this in my email this morning from MomsRising. First, I think MomsRising is a great group and we should all support them. They do great work. Second, cancer has had a direct impact on my life this year through friends. So it’s time to do something. Please join me in doing something. Whether it’s supporting Momsrising in this effort, or doing something else, please do something this year.
So read on and then do something!
Every minute, at least one American will die from cancer this year.
Ask President Obama to protect our families from cancer-causing chemicals!
Cancer may seem like a huge monster that we can’t do anything about. This year, we have a way to get that monster out from the under bed.
In its annual report to the President last year, the President’s Cancer Panel confirmed that exposure to toxic chemicals is an important but under-recognized risk factor for cancer. The Panel urged President Obama to “most strongly use the power of your office” to eliminate exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. But one year later, nothing has changed.
We can change the foods we eat, the products we buy, but it’s not enough. Even if you’re fortunate enough to be able to make those lifestyle changes, chemicals are so ubiquitous that you and your children will still encounter them at your schools, workplaces, at their friends homes: the list goes on. That’s why we can’t just fix our lifestyles; we must fix our system.
The chemical regulation system in the U.S. is out of control, dangerous, and deadly. With a whopping 300 contaminants detected in the umbilical cord blood of newborns, our environment is causing babies to be born pre-polluted. 
It’s time for President Obama to take strong action to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals in our daily lives. With one click, you can sign on to our petition for President Obama that reads:
Please make it a top priority for your Administration to create a cancer prevention plan that stops the unnecessary use of cancer-causing chemicals in products used in America every day.
Sign on today!
The Obama Administration must support an overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) the 35-year-old ineffective environmental regulations that allow chemicals to be added to products we use without first testing whether they are safe to human health.
Our broken system leaves us exposed to countless toxic chemicals every day, and this constant exposure is increasing our cancer risk. 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, while 21 percent of Americans will die from it. Cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in children younger than 15. 
Chemical reform is a chance to reclaim Environmental Health as a human right. It’s time to greatly reduce the personal, and national, tragedy that is cancer. Lets stand up and say this is for my family, for my children, for the world they will inherit, for the lives they will lead.
Sign on to our petition today:
And please pass this link along to all of your friends and family. Together we can work to defeat cancer.
—Claire, Sarah, Kristin and the whole MomsRising.org team
P.S. Tell us why you want toxins out of your family’s life. The personal experiences and thoughts of real moms and dads across this country make a big impact on legislators and can help change the way our country handles toxins. Share your experience today.
P.P.S Thank you to our partners the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition, for all they do for a cancer free world.
 Safer States, “Cancer and the Environment: The President’s Cancer Panel”: http://action.momsrising.org/go/725?akid=2564.1823111.rnhzUn&t=11
 Nicholas D. Kristof, “New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer”: http://action.momsrising.org/go/726?akid=2564.1823111.rnhzUn&t=13
 National Cancer Institute, “President’s Cancer Panel”: http://action.momsrising.org/go/727?akid=2564.1823111.rnhzUn&t=15
Like what we’re doing? Donate: We’re a bootstrap, low overhead, mom run organization. Your donations make the work of MomsRising.org possible–and we deeply appreciate your support. Every little bit counts.
What should MomsRising tackle next? Tell us what’s on your mind.
I was going to repost some of my Healthcare Reform posts from my Posterous site here. But I just read through the letter I wrote to President Obama back in August of 2009. I simply can’t just re-post it here without the comments that followed. Some of them — most of them — are equally heart-wrenching.
Please, go read it, as over 12,000 other people have. Send the link to friends, to State and Federal Legislators. Let them know that there are real people, real kids, who very well may die if they continue to stomp their feet and act like petulant, irresponsible children. Health Insurance reform has just begun. We need more, not less.
We need it now.
I can’t believe I have to gear up for this fight again. But no more Mr. Nice Guy this time.
This arrived in my email today, so I thought I’d share it with you. For those of you who follow the Healthcare debate, take note. For those of you who don’t, or think that there is such a thing as “Obamacare” or that the Affordable Care Act was a “takeover of the healthcare system” please read this twice.
Some of us are lucky enough not to have kids on the waiting list for Medicaid Waivers. But nationwide there are over 300,000 Disabled and Developmentally Disabled children and adults waiting for desperately needed services. Waiting because we are the only modern industrialized nation on earth that does not take care of the healthcare needs of our citizens. Instead we make them wait for life-saving or life-altering services. Sometimes the waiting lists are 10 – 15 years long.
To: Left Behind and Friends
There is an old Chinese Curse…”May you live in interesting times” That sums up what is going on in the health care policy debate across the country. Political theater….
Those of us at the short end of the stick (on the DD Medicaid Waiver Waiting list) can only sit back and watch helplessly as our policy makers maneuver politically around the health care issues. We (those of us on the waiting lists) are not even a part of these discussions.
Until we have presence in a meaningful way in the DD policy making machine and until we are heard at all levels of government, we are just spitting into the wind. We cannot always depend on the good will of our friend who are parents getting services or kind hearted providers. The only way we will make a difference for our children on the waiting lists is when our families on the waiting list get active. That means each of us needs to learn about the DD system in our community and in our state. Then join these groups, speak clear and insist on being heard and that they take actions for us.
The following is one view of the health care drama…..
Left Behind in the USA
February 04, 2011
Wisconsin AG to Accountable Care Act: “You’re dead to me…”
Well, Wisconsin Attorney General, J.B. Hollen didn’t use those words exactly. But on Wednesday, his office released this brash statement; “for Wisconsin, the federal health care law is dead—unless and until it is revived by an appellate court. Effectively, Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health care law.”
Hollen was no doubt emboldened by this week’s ruling in Florida by district court judge Roger Vinson that the entire health care reform law is unconstitutional. This decision went beyond Judge Henry Hudson’s ruling in a Virginia court in December that found only the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. “This is a radical decision,” Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law writes in his analysis of the ruling in Health Affairs. “Judge Vinson has a clear vision of the limited federal government the founders intended that is very much in line with that espoused by the Tea Party Movement…He has thrown down the gauntlet.”
The ruling has emboldened others besides Wisconsin to swear off implementing reform. Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that he would wait for further court rulings before beginning to take any action to carry out the health law. And the Florida insurance commissioner Kevin McCarty wrote to federal officials on Tuesday letting them know that the state will return a $1 million grant intended to help it prepare for reform by setting up a system that would let consumers compare insurance plans. Wisconsin also announced it’s sending back the money. Finally, Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty issued an executive order barring state officials from participating in the ACA without express approval from his administration.
Most of this is clearly bluster. How, besides giving up the $1 million grant, do these renegade states intend on blocking implementation of health reform? Insurance companies administering large group plans in these states are regulated by the federal government and will still have to abide by the ACA’s provisions to insure children with pre-existing conditions, let 18-26-year olds stay on their parent’s plans and remove annual and lifetime coverage limits. Medicare is also a federal program, so the ACA provisions that have already gone into place—free preventive care for seniors, $250 rebates from the drug benefit program, etc.—will stand unless the states decide to block them (a move that would be wildly unpopular with voters.) Would the states also have to shut down their high-risk insurance programs that use federal funds to provide more affordable coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions?
The $1 million grant for setting up health exchanges is just a drop in the federal outlay bucket—at least for Florida, Igor Volsky writes on the Wonk Room blog. Volsky breaks it down in detail, and he estimates that Florida has actually received federal grants worth $45 million for hospitals and academic medical centers as a result of the health reform legislation. Good luck prying that money away.
Judge Vinson did not issue an injunction to formally prohibit implementation of the ACA, but that’s because he made the assumption that claiming the ACA to be unconstitutional would bar federal officials from further implementing the law. The Justice Department (representing the administration) is expected to seek a “stay” (a court-ordered delay) on the Florida ruling to keep health reform moving forward at least until the case moves through the appeals court.
The ruling also doesn’t apply to Medicaid. According to the Washington Post, “Vinson, however, upheld the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the public insurance program for the poor and disabled that is jointly funded by the states and the federal government. He rejected the states’ argument that the expansion infringes on their sovereignty.”
David Rivkin, a lawyer representing the 26 states involved in the Florida lawsuit, said that in light of the decision, all of them should immediately halt implementation of the health care law. In reality, besides the handful of noisy dissenter states, the majority of the 26 involved in the suit will not heed Rivkin’s call. “Most states don’t want to jump out and do something that will result in a penalty,” says Joy Johnson Wilson, health policy director for the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
For example, Johnson points out that since Judge Vinson did uphold the constitutional basis of the health law’s expansion of Medicaid, “If states were to breech maintenance of effort on Medicaid [i.e. decrease enrollment, cut basic benefits, etc.), they would risk losing federal funding for the program altogether.”
Many of the states that are participating in lawsuits challenging the individual mandate or the health law in general are quietly moving forward in setting up health insurance exchanges, forming commissions to figure out how to extend Medicaid benefits and otherwise planning for reform’s implementation.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has made no secret of his disdain for the health reform law, calling it a “federal intrusion into the lives of every American.” Yet his state is moving along on setting up a health insurance exchange and does not plan on returning federal money. The same is true for the two-dozen or so other states that have either passed or introduced versions of the “Health Care Freedom Act”— state legislation barring the individual mandate and other major provisions of the ACA. These laws are all modeled after a draft drawn up by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that counts conservative state legislators and lobbyists from the country’s biggest industries as members. Last month Wyoming went one step further, introducing the Health Care Choice and Protection Act, that would impose penalties on state-level implementers of the federal health law, including fines up to $5,000 and two years in a county jail, according to NPR. Federal officials would face up to five years in the slammer.
The fact of the matter is that federal law trumps state law in the case of the ACA and these laws are essentially meaningless, says Jost. “It’s not over until the Supreme Court rules.”
If, as expected, the top court rules that the federal government has the right to regulate commerce, all of the state “freedom” acts will lead to nothing except the risk of an actual “government takeover” of health care. The ACA makes clear that if a state fails to set up a health exchange or refuses to implement other major components of reform like the individual mandate then the federal government will do it for them.
Yesterday Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the attorney general of Virginia, said that the opposing district court rulings (two decided the ACA is constitutional, two viewed at least major parts of it as unconstitutional) are sowing confusion among the public and state officials. To rectify the situation, Cuccinelli requested that the Supreme Court immediately review the health law instead of letting the various cases work their way through appeals courts.
“Currently, state governments and private businesses are being forced to expend enormous amounts of resources to prepare to implement a law that in the end may be declared unconstitutional,” Mr. Cuccinelli said in a statement.
The Justice Department rejects this need for expedited review by the Supreme Court, telling the New York Times that “the agency ‘continued to believe this case should follow the ordinary course’ so that legal arguments could be fully developed before being presented to the Supreme Court.” The idea is that the more Americans know about the health reform law and the more benefits they begin to experience from the legislation, the stronger the arguments for its need to stand.
According to Bloomberg; “The chances of the court agreeing to hear the case in the face of government opposition are ‘zero,’ said Carter Phillips, a lawyer in Washington at Sidley Austin LLP who has argued more than 60 Supreme Court cases.”
‘I do not think the court will be inclined to decide this question without the benefit of having the views of at least one and probably more than one court of appeals on a very difficult question of constitutional law,’ Phillips said.”
If the appeals process follows along the regular course, the Supreme Court will likely not hear the constitutional challenge to the ACA until 2012—right before the presidential election. According to NCSL’s Joy Johnson Wilson, even in the highly unlikely event that Cuccinelli achieves an expedited review, the Supreme Court will not thave an opening on its docket until this year’s fall term at the earliest. That will give proponents of the ACA more time to roll out benefits of the legislation and to convince more Americans that despite the rhetoric they’re hearing from upstart state legislators, the health care reform law is a keeper.
Posted by Naomi Freundlich on February 4, 2011 | Email this post
So if you have Health Insurance, be grateful. But don’t be selfish by working to deny that same health insurance coverage to the millions of Americans that don’t have it. And Congress? Yes, you, Congressional Representatives. WE (or as the teabaggers are fond of saying “We the people”) pay for your Government-run, Government-subsidized health insurance. Those are OUR tax dollars that pay for your healthcare. So if you’re going to vote to deny coverage to us, at least don’t be such hypocritical douchewankers by keeping yours. Eat your own dog food. If government-run, government-subsidized healthcare isn’t good enough for all of us, it shouldn’t be good enough for you.
We’re watching. I’M watching. And I’m taking notes. And soon I’m going to be coming to Washington D.C. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring my disabled son with me. And we’re going to come to your offices. And I’m going to have you explain to Woody why you think he shouldn’t have access to life-saving healthcare. Like food. His food is all prescription-only delivered through a G-Tube. And it costs a fortune. And without it he will die. And if you succeed in repealing the modest reforms passed last year, he will almost instantly exceed his lifetime maximum benefit and lose his insurance. And he’ll never be able to get any more.
Make no mistake, I will be there. And ask anyone who knows me. I’m one persistent S.O.B. If I have to camp out in your office for days on end, changing my son’s diaper on the couch in your waiting room, I will. Until you meet with me, and explain your hypocrisy and, quite frankly, idiocy.
Best get cracking on your excuses now, because I’ll call B.S. on all the one’s you’ve used so far.