Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

One Term President?

John Amato (he'd sure look darn good in Harman's seat)over at Crooks & Liars says:
It's real simple. If President Obama doesn't include a vibrant public option in health care reform, he will lose the left and will never recover. Is that what he wants? Does he want to be a one-term president? Does he want conservatives and teabaggers to control Congress?

I'm sick and tired of hearing his representatives tell me that Congress is writing the bill. He won a mandate to reform health care. John McCain's plans for health care were rejected by Americans. So why is he involved in a kabuki dance with all the weak-kneed Democrats like Blanche Lincoln, DiFi, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and all the rest of the corporate Dems? And why does Sen. Grassley matter at all? They don't care about American families and what's been happening to them.

I agree. And Senators Murray and Cantwell are in the same sinking ship if they betray us again. We will throw these corporatrists over and re-build the party if necessary.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Way to Scream about Public Option

Several bloggers through ActBlue are gathering funds to run this commercial to advocate that the public option gets back on the table:

I hope you'll join us in supporting this cause. The more times we get this on the air, the better our chances are.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bureaucrats Between Patients and Providers

Congressman John BOEHNER: ... But, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that doctors and patients are making decisions about what care is in their best interest, not some government bureaucrat in between.

I have one of the most expensive plans available through my employer -- I pay $112 per month and I'm not sure what my employer pays. I also pay $750 out of pocket in deductibles.

The insurance company, states this in their annual report:
Like other companies, we faced a challenging business environment as the global financial crisis became a defining event in 2008, and our stock closed lower at the end of 2008 than the previous year. Our stock’s performance, however, does not reflect other measures of our industry leadership, including superior medical membership growth, industry-leading operating earnings per share growth and strong revenue growth. Metrics of this industry leading performance included:
􀂃 Revenue, excluding net realized capital losses, increased 14 percent over 2007 to $31.6 billion.1
􀂃 Net medical membership increased by 848,000 members, or 5 percent, to 17.7 million.
􀂃 Operating earnings per share were $3.93, an increase of 13 percent over 2007.

Staying True to Our Strategy
Our accomplishments have been the direct result of a strategy focused on segmentation, integration, consumerism and operational excellence. Over time, executing this strategy has created value for our customers and differentiated Aetna from our competitors.

Where's their concern for the patient? I have to use their preferred provider. The preferred provider has to approve any other treatment I want -- for example I have a plantars wart on my foot and I know that I need to go see a podiatrist but I have to go to the preferred provider first to get them to approve the podiatrist visit. I'm limited to generic drugs -- I cannot get covered other than generic even if that's what the doctor thinks will work best for me. If I need hospice care, they limit me to 5 days in a 3-month period -- I better die fast. My preferred provider has to call the insurance company before sending me out or preforming any procedure to get it pre-approved.

I already have many bureaucrats between me a the medical care I need but the biggest bureaucrat impacting me, the insurance company, is primarily concerned with stock price and CEO salary. He rations out care to me and arbitarily limits what I can receive whether I need it or not -- not for the my good, not for the public good and not to ensure I receive needed care but rather to preserve stockholder value.

Thanks for you concern, Boehner, but I've tried it your way and I'd like to see if the government bureaucrat can't do it better and for cheaper.


UPDATE 6-18-09 PM:

Digby (of course) puts her finger right on the issue. She has a list of what insurance company CEO's are paid. Here's mine:

* Aetna
CEO: John Rowe
2005: 22.1 mil
5-year:57.8 mil

From me: Senator Murray's 5 largest campaign contribution industry group is Pharmaceuticals/Health at $126K.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Health Care Insurers Chutzpah or Confidence?

Last week I wrote to my Senators and Congressman:

The House and Senate needs to quit carrying the insurance industry water on their trigger proposal and other delaying techniques. Congress needs to represent the people. We, the people, want universal single payer health care. We're willing to discuss public 'option' just so long as it does not become the insurance companies' dumping ground for so called "uninsurable" high risk/high cost patients and allow the insurance companies to cherry pick the least risk patients. The public option must be a real option for people and be operated in such a way that it stays competitive with private for-profit companies.

Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi are not demonstrating adequate leadership in this area. They appear to be beholding to the insurance companies and are ignoring the electorate. Universal health care is this generation's watershed issue. Please get on board and support real health care reform. Just kicking this issue down the road and trusting that for-profit companies will cut costs is unacceptable. The trigger options are unacceptable. We all remember how the problems with the prescription drug legislation were going to be fixed later and here years and years later we still have that donut hole in coverage and no negotiating for prices. This time we need real reform -- not a flawed half way measure and another empty promise of fixing it later.

Any legislator that compromises on this opportunity to reform health care will have to answer for this when they come up for re-election. This is not an issue that can be swept under the rug. You will be held accountable for your vote and leadership on this issue.

Years ago fire departments were all privately owned and for profit. We, the people, saw that there was a public interest to bring them into the public sphere and out of private hands. I'm sure the fire companies of their day stalled, whined, and threatened their public officials so they could hold onto their power and profit. But the public need was more important and today fire departments are publicly financed and managed. We are now at another watershed time in history. Basic universal health care is too important to be left to private for-profit companies. It is a public need and the public needs to finance and manage it.

Please support universal single-payer health care reform. Stand up for the people, not private for-profit interests.

This week they heard directly from our friendly health insurance companies.

Top executives of UnitedHealth's Golden Rule Insurance Co., Assurant Health and WellPoint Inc., appearing Tuesday before the the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, told angry lawmakers they would not confine such rescissions to cases in which intentional fraud on the part of the policyholder can be shown, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

I wonder if our Congress people are capable of connecting the dots. We need to get rid of these vampires who have been sucking insurance premiums from us and then when faced with maybe paying out something, recission us, canceling health insurance policies retroactively. Heads they win, tails we loose. Even faced with the (remote) possibility of a single-payer universal health care, these vampires refuse to change their practice of recission.

I'd say they had chutzpah but they are instead probably confident that they've bought the house and senate and have nothing to worry about.

UPDATE 6-17 PM -- Here's the response I got from Sen Murray:
. . . Recently, I joined with my colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which I am a senior member, to introduce the "Affordable Healthy Choices Act." This legislation reduces health care costs, allows Americans to keep the coverage they have if they want it, and makes health insurance affordable to those who do not have it today.

I am particularly proud that as we work to offer quality, affordable coverage to all Americans, that we have included provisions to support programs that would increase the number of Americans going into health care professions to ensure our system has enough workers to provide much needed care. . .

What does that mean?

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Digby is so Smart!

Digby is so smart and luckily for me, quicker to post just what I'm thinking. I get to just link to her and say things like "Amen" and "Ditto".

I wasn't going to wade into the David Letterman thing because it seemed pretty trivial to me on the media sexism scale. But it's obviously a growing brouhaha, so I might as well.

First of all, Sarah Palin does not look or act like a "slut" and it's nothing more than a sexual fantasy to think of her that way. She married her high school sweetheart and has five kids. She's a born again Christian. She does not dress provocatively, and she has said that she put her hair up and wore glasses specifically to take her looks off the table as much as possible. She's an attractive 40 something politician, she's not a Playboy model (not that there's anything wrong with that) and it would be nice if she didn't have to put up with that stuff. She's not trying to "sex herself up" for the camera or anything else. There's enough to criticize her for.

The daughter thing was in poor taste. Leave the kids out of the jokes. The fact that he meant her older daughter is obvious, but that doesn't make it any better. She's a young girl who didn't ask for the limelight and doesn't deserve to be mocked by middle aged men. It's cruel and unnecessary.

...Having said that, this ridiculous accusation that he was talking about raping the 14 year old is over the top and disingenuous, to say the least. That clearly was not his intention and claiming it was really cheapens the validity of the complaint.

And making Palin into a feminist hero because of this cheapens feminism. This woman is defending herself and her own daughter, but as Governor she never quite finds the voice to defend other women who have average real life problems, like workplace discrimination, rapes or unwanted pregnancies. Her complaints are not coming from feminist principle but rather political opportunism.

And these right wing monsters like Limbaugh who are suddenly concerned about the treatment of women in the media is laughable. This is the man who coined the term feminazis, and called Chelsea Clinton the white house dog. His record of rank, violent misogyny is clear. If Palin repudiated him as quickly as she goes on television to condemn Letterman, I might be able to take her a little bit more seriously as a feminist.

The media are fascinated by Sarah Palin, at least partially because of her camera friendly appearance and her colorful family life. That doesn't mean they can call her a slut and use her teenage daughter as the butt of crude sexual jokes. But it also doesn't mean that she and her politics aren't reactionary and anti-feminist. Having some feminist principles are required for that and Sarah Palin only seems to develop them when it involves her.

A big "ditto amen" from me!

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Is Hillary Kidding?

Hillary posted a message on the State Department website commemorating the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

She states in part:
China . . . to take its rightful place in global leadership, should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal.

How can she even suggest this while at the same time playing the party line of "we're not looking back" when it comes to investigating our use of torture and warrant less searches?


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Monday, June 01, 2009

If you're Rich, You're Perfect

Sen. John McCain endorsed Meg Whitman and called her the future of the GOP.

GAWD help us!

I guess the future of the GOP is crooked bankers, child labor exploitation, slavery, theft (but at least she gave it back when she got caught -- so since she's rich, no prosecution -- ooopsie!), and a religious extremist homophobe.

But she says she'll run California like a business (hey! Didn't Arnold say that was what he was going to do?) What part of her business should we expect her to apply to California? The part of her disastrous purchase of Skype? Cronyism with Goldman Sachs? Or will she just outsource California? I mean she keeps saying she believes in job creation -- but she also wants more H1B visas and sings the praises of Globalization.

But the media loves her! She's rich ergo she's perfect!