Friday, July 17, 2009

AMA Endorses Public Option, Blue Dogs Endorse GOP and Corporate CEOs (PLUS: Why we need reform -- a harrowing story)


Yesterday the dependably conservative AMA came out in favor of the House compromise on health care reform. It doesn't include single payer but the robust public option it does include seems like the best deal working families can expect from a political system as corrupted by corporate money as ours is. In a letter to Charlie Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the AMA's Michael Maves pledged to work with the House leadership to help build support for the bill with the public. (Presumably that would mean combatting Republican and Blue Dog efforts to diminish the 70-80% support for the public option already showing up in all polling on the subject.) Maves letter:
Dear Chairman Rangel,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, I am writing to express our appreciation and support for H.R. 3200, the “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009.” This legislation includes a broad range of provisions that are key to effective, comprehensive health system reform. We urge members of the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means Committees to favorably report H.R. 3200 for consideration by the full House.

In particular, we are pleased that the bill:

• Promises to extend coverage to all Americans through health insurance market reforms;

• Provides consumers with a choice of plans through a health insurance exchange;

• Includes essential health insurance reforms such as eliminating coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions;

• Recognizes that fundamental Medicare reforms, including repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula, are essential to the success of broader health system reforms;

• Encourages chronic disease management and care coordination through additional funding for primary care services, without imposing offsetting payment reductions on specialty care;

• Addresses growing physician workforce concerns;

• Strengthens the Medicaid program;

• Requires individuals to have health insurance, and provides premium assistance to those who cannot afford it;

• Includes prevention and wellness initiatives designed to keep Americans healthy;

• Makes needed improvements to the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative that will enable greater participation by physicians; and

• Initiates significant payment and delivery reforms by encouraging participation in new models such as accountable care organizations and the patient-centered medical home.

The AMA looks forward to further constructive dialogue during the committee mark-up process. We pledge to work with the House committees and leadership to build support for passage of health reform legislation to expand access to high quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

This year, the AMA wants the debate in Washington to conclude with real, long overdue results that will improve the health of America’s patients.

President Obama seemed satisfied with the AMA response to the House bill and issued a brief, clear statement: "I am grateful that the doctors of the AMA have chosen to support health insurance reform that will lower costs, expand coverage, and assure choice and quality health care for all Americans. Along with the nation’s nurses, these doctors are joining the chorus of Americans who know that the time to reform what is broken about our health care system is now."

The Medical-Industrial Complex and the Insurance Industry will now attempt to counter this with a fake "bipartisan compromise" that will be presented by two of the Senate's worst corporate shills, Max Baucus (DLC-MT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The fractured Blue Dog caucus in the House has been trying to get a consensus among its reactionary members to oppose health care reform but has been unable to persuade Blue Dogs from blue-leaning districts to go along with their malevolent intentions. Blue Dogs are afraid of Democrats. Yesterday reactionary Democrats struck hard-- joining with Republicans to sabotage working families' efforts to be able to organize unions. This isn't one any decent American should ever forget.

In Florida's Polk County it will be interesting to see if Democrats nominate a real Democrat, progressive Navy vet Doug Tudor, or a slimy corporate Blue Dog, Lori Edwards, to replace Adam Putnam, one of Florida's most anti-family elected representatives, who is retiring from Congress to run for State Agricultural Commissioner. We're asking progressives to consider donating to Doug's ActBlue page as a way of sending the DCCC a message that we want them to support Democrats, not gussied up Republicans calling themselves Democrats.


As wise men from Aesop to Frank Lutz have known, people like stories. Spinmeister Lutz's road map for maintaining the health care status quo stressed the importance of personal stories -- you know, stories of how wicked socialist medicine has led to personal tragedies in commie-rat-infested countries that have dabbled in it.

Of course the real horror stories are those of people who have victimized or simply shut out of the American health care system -- or both. Many of you are probably familiar with our colleague Martin Bosworth, of and many other venues, one of the clearer-headed and more knowledgeable folks we know. Yesterday Martin told a story that had us on the edge of our chair, about suddenly finding himself in the grip of --
a sudden, mysterious, and incredibly painful ailment that I thought was going to kill me. I ended up going to the hospital to get treatment after exhausting all other options, and am now on the hook for several thousand dollars’ worth of medical bills, because I had the bad luck to fall ill right in the void between insurance plans.

The story has a much happier ending than one dreaded. Martin is feeling much better now, thank you, even though the mysterious whatever-it-was was never diagnosed, and he's also getting various kinds of help on the financial front. And as he wrote in a note:

If nothing else, I feel like this whole experience is more fodder that people can use to make the push for the public option happen. If we get that, or even if we get some form of real reform that doesn't end up as a shitty insurance company bailout, it'll be worth it.

If your nerves are up to it, I encourage you to read Martin's spine-tingling account of the week he's just been through and happily survived, "Why We Need Health Care Reform: My Story." It will have special resonance for anyone who has ever faced a no-kidding immediate-emergency medical crisis without health insurance. In my case, what I remember best is that, terrifying as the medical fears were, there wasn't a moment in the entire ordeal when my first terror wasn't: how the hell am I going to pay for this?

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At 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The AMA casts doubts on this plan. It starts in 2013 and goes into operation in 2019. So basically Rahm is trying to hold voters hostage, and if we want healthcare we have to vote for Obama and Democrats and trust they will do it when Obama doesn't have an election hanging over his head.

The GOP is going to hammer the Democrats over the next 3 years about the deficit, cost, and non-existent health care we are supposedly paying for. Americans are stupid. The AMA has signed on to drive this bill through because they have time to kill it.

Remember much of the AMA is older doctors who are part and parcel of the system and retirees not practicing doctors.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Color me skeptical about obama's fire and brimstone speeches becoz I've seen this whore say plenty of eloquent words and afterward do nothing but protect the status quo under the cover of a few cosmetic changes.

And what I suspect is the latest rahmbama game (all of which have nothing more to do than to serve their corporate masters who are their largest campaign donors): hold off on effectuating universal healthcare until 2013 and then wield the threat that a republican president would repeal it to get the pope of hope reelected. If my suspicions are correct, and I am surprised that I haven't heard anyone bring this up this possibility, people would have to die so that the rahmbama team could get reelected and continue to do the wonderful job they have done for their corporate constituents.

The fact that this proposal came through the house of whores where rahm has a lot of influence after cracking heads as the head of the dccc only adds to my suspicions. I just don't see why it should take so goddamn long to have this go into effect ... four fucking years. And why exactly does it start after obama's term ends? A coincidence?

The pope of hope and his sidekick, the dlc's master of deceit, are such wonderful people that I can't put nothing past the scumbags. And that's exactly what they are ... the pope of hope included although he tries to distance himself from his henchman, emanuel, who does his dirty work while the head pr man for the establishment gives eloquent speeches while effectuating evil.


At 9:26 AM, Anonymous jacksmith said...


The healthcare reform bill released by the House Of Representatives is an excellent bill as I understand it. It's a bill with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. It is carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. This bill will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives. It is also now supported by the AMA.

This is the type of bill that all Americans can feel good about. And this is the type of bill that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. This bill has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bill should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind this healthcare reform bill released by the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

You should all now support this bill with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. This healthcare bill is a VERY, VERY GOOD! bill for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of this bill if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for this bill.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!



God Bless You

Jack Smith — Working Class

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that health care reform should be paid for by the same folks who pay for everything else. The poor, the sick and the elderly.

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the executive, legislative and judical branchs, including the president,senators, congressmen and their employees will all agree to use the planned system as written, I will endorse it, however, I am willing to wager that this will not be the case.
I agree that something must be done because the health care problem has the potential to bankrupt the country but turning it over to the government is like putting a rabbit into a pen full of foxes.
In my opinion many of the problems with health care can be directly tied to government interference, the desire to (help) people who do not want to or will not help themselves and the immigration problem.
California is an outstanding example of this. I lived in California in the 60 and 70's and it was a pleasure to be there. On a recent trip back, much of the state appeared to be a portion of a third world country. I can only attribute this to their welfare and immigration problems.
As a country, it appears that we have gotten away from individual responsibilty for one's self and have endorsed the concept of shared liability for the well being of everyone reguardless of their destructive activities and contributions to their situation.
I do not know the answer to the problem, but letting health care be managed by the government will
be a fiscal disaster.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Steve said...

anon 2:05, "I do not know the answer to the problem, but letting health care be managed by the government will
be a fiscal disaster.

Well, I'm in the govmint VA health care system. Been so for 10 years and it works just fine. They can bargain for prescription prices and they have the best computerized records system of any HC company or agency. Which, btw, is one of the biggest inefficiencies of private HC - they all have a different reords system that dates back to the freakin 60's.
Get your facts together before you open your pie hole, jerk, instead of just repeating the same old song over and over and over.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Thanks, Steve, the discussion needed that injection of sanity.


At 9:24 PM, Blogger Oliphant Family said...

The House Health Care Bill, 1,018-page document, released this week (July 14th, 2009) reveals some concerns as noted by and Mike Oliphant serves as health care consultant with these two popular websites in Utah. He also is a serving board member with Utah Association of Health Underwriters. A provision within this bill would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
This translates into those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. It is likely that those same people will suffer abnormally high rate increases over time which would force them out of coverage. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
From the beginning, and warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither. Drawn by a public option that will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it, employers will gladly scrap their private plans and go with Washington's coverage. The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program. That would leave private carriers with 50 million or fewer customers. This could cause the market to, as Lewin Vice President John Sheils put it, "fizzle out altogether."
What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law. The legislation is also likely to finish off health savings accounts, a goal that Democrats have had for years. They want to crush that alternative because nothing gives individuals more control over their medical care, and the government less, than HSAs. With HSAs out of the way, a key obstacle to the left's expansion of the welfare state will be removed. states that the public option won't be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny. Washington does not have the constitutional or moral authority to outlaw private markets in which parties voluntarily participate. It shouldn't be killing business opportunities, or limiting choices, or legislating major changes in Americans' lives.


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