Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

The inmates have taken control. UHC 2009

2008 was a fascinating and invigorating year for political enthusiasts on the left. There were huge gains in both houses of Congress and a Democrat won the presidency. Politicos on the left were on top of the world.

Then, reality set in.

2009 has brought that fact home only too vividly. Initiatives have been stopped. Others have yet to see the light of day. Some grind on endlessly, like Universal Health Care. The glow of electoral victory has faded. The honeymoon is over. This governing shit is hard.

Each new rumor is trumpeted across the media and the blogosphere. Daily stories of seeming betrayals or secret deals cause either pandemonium or elation amongst the political set. This could be a story from the glory days of Greece and Rome.

Throughout this whole process, I’ve tried to maintain a patient attitude. I’d succeeded until this latest rumor about UHC. Now, I’m starting to get mad.

“Don’t trust rumors. Don’t trust anything you hear from unnamed sources. Wait until the final bill comes out before jumping to conclusions.”

Those were all things I’ve told other people. Plenty of rumors have failed to prove out during this process. Plenty of politicians have seemed to waffle or reverse their position. They’ll keep doing it until the hour of the vote. I know all of this, yet now I’m worried.

I’ve been lax lately. Letting the politicians carry the ball. It’s time to get active again. I’m going to call both of my senators in the morning and I’m going to send the following to my local newspapers.

It is time to revisit the reasons for health care reform.

The United States of America is the only developed country in the world that does not have some form of universal health care. The only one. It is also ranked 37th  the world for its quality of health care. All of the countries that rank higher spend far less than we do as a percentage of GDP and get better health care. If they can do it then so can we.

Health care costs are rising far faster than inflation. Each year they take more money out of peoples’ pockets. Those costs will continue to rise at an unsustainable rate until we do something about them. Wages have been stagnant for decades, partly because of the increase in health insurance costs. This will only get worse. The day will soon come when wages will either have to come down or employee contributions for health care will have to increase. Both could happen.

Every family’s health insurance is at risk, especially in economic times like these. A lost job or an employer who is forced to drop health coverage could happen to anyone. Reduced income and higher health insurance costs have broken many household budgets.

Studies have shown that the majority of bankruptcies involved medical expenses. More than half of those people had existing health insurance when the costs were incurred.

There is one more factor in all of this – the 50,000,000 uninsured Americans. The Institute of Medicine estimates there are 47,000 preventable deaths each year due to lack of health insurance. There is more at stake than dollars.

Those uninsured result in unpaid hospital bills. Hospitals charge more to offset the losses. They pass this on to insurance companies, so every insured person pays a higher premium to cover those costs. In addition, the government reimburses hospitals for some of those losses. These come out of taxpayer dollars. This is the current state of affairs.

The question should not be whether or not we need reform. The need is indisputable. The question is how do we proceed?

Conservative Democrats and obstinate Republicans need to join into the process instead of simply saying no. Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and all the other opponents that keep trying to stop reform have to be reminded that they will have blood on their hands if they kill reform. They also have to be reminded that doing nothing is going to bankrupt this country just like it is already bankrupting so many people.


  1. Hollede

    boondoggle for the insurance companies is even worse. I personally want universal health care, but I do believe through an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid and a strong public option, we could begin to bring the US up from our dismal worldwide health care standings. At this point I would like to see Joe Lieberman flogged on the Senate floor and from this point on, replace the name Benedict Arnold with that of Traitor Joe.

    I am really pissed and John is absolutely right. NOW is the time to call and write everyone you can think of. Bug the crap out of your friends. Donate more money to efforts to counteract the conservative lies. Please, do something now.

  2. fogiv

    Time, now, for the Senate to act under reconciliation. That is what it is there for. And, it need not act on a bill that contains the myriad of compromises that has diluted its effects. It can act boldly. By doing so, it may even induce the naysayers to come back on board for a good 60-vote comprehensive bill in “normal (non-reconciliation) order” in exchange for some compromises. With Medicare, after opposing it as socialized medicine leading to the loss of liberty, even some Republicans voted for it when it was clear it was going to pass. With HCR about to be passed under reconciliation, some wayward Democrats may see the light.

    Every part of the health care bill that involves how the government spends or receives money can be handled by reconciliation. That includes: a public option (might as well make it robust), the provision for individuals to buy into the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) enjoyed by Members of Congress; reducing Medicare eligibility to age 55 along with premiums to cover costs; enabling seniors who are on Medicaid and Medicare to purchase drugs at the (lower) Medicaid prices; expanding Medicaid, establishing a minimum medical loss ratio of 90% for insurance companies that take any federally subsidized insured. That’s all pretty good stuff and needs 51 votes to pass it.

    As for removing anti-trust exemptions, prohibiting life-time caps and rejections for pre-existing conditions, establishing a commission to recommend best practices, etc., why not just bring them to the floor as a separate bill?  Or attach them to a defense appropriation bill, then we’ll see who hates hates America and it’s troops?  

  3. HappyinVT

    On one hand I’m hearing there’s good stuff to be had in the the Baucus bill even without the PO or Medicare buy-in.  On the other, I’m told that stuff really isn’t that great and we should chunk the current iterations and start over.  I’m not sure starting over will work at this point and, even if Congress did, I don’t think anyone’s vote is going to change.

    I wish the president could call out those who are obstructing.  The White House tells Reid to give Lieberman what he wants and Reid, apparently, does.  But what is the cost?  Private insurance will gain millions of new customers.  Are there really cost control measures?  Or will they just be able to jack up the rates?  Or find some other way to screw all their new customers.  CA Blue Cross:

    Amid a national debate on how to make the healthcare system friendlier and more accessible, and as millions of people grapple with the loss of jobs and homes, what does insurance heavyweight Blue Shield of California do?

    It decides to take a key benefit away.

    The company has notified individual policyholders that their coverage could be immediately dropped if they miss a single payment — or so it seems.

    Blue Shield says in a letter to customers that they can reapply for insurance, but with potentially higher premiums and stricter conditions.


    the changes Blue Shield says will take effect Jan. 1 won’t be quite as dire as the notification letter indicates.

    That’s partly because of a California law requiring minimum grace periods that the company neglected to tell customers about.

    It’s also because Blue Shield will continue providing 28-day grace periods for customers who miss payments, although this too was omitted from the letter and an accompanying four-page excerpt from the company’s contract.

    What customers are losing is an additional 15-day interval, offered twice a year, that would extend the grace period to 43 days.

    None of this is made clear in Blue Shield’s letter or contract excerpt.


    Aron Ezra, a Blue Shield spokesman,…said the company was aware that its letter caused “concern and confusion” among customers with individual insurance policies. He said new letters would be mailed out this week clarifying things.

    “The new letter will specifically remind people that they have a grace period, as required by law,” Ezra said.

    What it won’t do is explain why Blue Shield is taking away the additional 15-day intervals that it had previously offered.

    Such leeway was no doubt much appreciated by individuals and families struggling to get by amid the worst economic downturn in decades. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck — assuming they still have a paycheck.

    So why is Blue Shield turning the screws?

    “It’s meant to make everything uniform,” Ezra replied. He declined to elaborate.


    According to the contract excerpt mailed to customers, if you previously missed any payments within the time allowed (including the bonus 15 days), coverage would resume “without a change in premiums and without consideration of the medical condition of you or any dependent.”

    The new contract language says that once the grace period lapses, “you and/or your dependent may be declined coverage . . . based upon your and/or your dependent’s medical condition.”

    It also says that even if coverage is resumed, “different premiums may apply.”

    And people are willing to protest government-run insurance to protect these assholes.  And Lieberman, Lincoln, Nelson, etc are willing to vote to protect these assholes.

    (Yes, my comment has taken a turn, but I’m kind of going stream-of-consciousness here.)

    The Progressive Caucus has twice asked for a meeting with the president, the second time earlier this week.  So far no meeing has taken place although the president has had an additional meeting with Sen. Snowe.  I’m trying not to lose faith.  I’m trying to maintain some belief that the White House knows what it is doing.  The president once said that he would always tell us the truth even when we disagreed.  He needs to explain why he decided that mandates with no PO became acceptable even if that means saying that the votes just aren’t there.  It’s not like that’s a big secret anyway.  He also said he’d fight for real reform.  Frankly, I haven’t seen much fight.  He’s gone out and done town halls and such to state his position.  He spoke kind of tough before the joint session but where has he been since?  I hate people wanting Obama to be like FDR or LBJ.  His personality is what it is.  But, simply calling out the Republicans as obstructionists while ignoring those in your own caucus is disingenuous and hypocritical.  I think people would appreciate that plain talk.  He can do it without being rude better than just about anyone.

    Anyway, I guess I’m doing venting.

  4. fogiv

    Andrea Mitchell asked about Dean’s belief that the Senate health care bill was so compromised it should be put to death.

    It’s nonsense. And it’s irresponsible. And coming from him as a physician, it’s stunning. And he’s wrong. Does that answer your question?” Rockefeller responded. He ticked off the good things that were still in the health care legislation. “This’ll be good for people. Am I angry that the public option appears to have been dropped? Of course I’m angry about that,” he said. “I proposed the original bill on the floor that was the tough one. … Was I for the Medicare buy-in? Of course I was. … So what do I do? Do I take my football and run home and sulk and complain?

    Mitchell cut in, but Rockefeller wasn’t done. “I’m a grownup, you’re a grownup,” he added. “We’ve been around this business for a long time. And you never get everything you want. You don’t sulk about it. You try to keep improving the bill.”

    Video via the link:

  5. sricki

    without a public option or a buy-in for a segment of the population that is bothering me. If they’d definitively get rid of the mandate, I’d be less uncomfortable. At this point, with no other options, I think the mandate is just a giveaway to private insurers. I think kos suggested that a progressive come forward and attempt to strip the mandate — and make Republicans show where they really stand. If the Republicans fought the mandate, they’d be fighting against their own interests (to protect the insurance companies); however, if they argued to keep the mandate, they’d be fighting against their own interests by enraging their base.

    I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I am increasingly discouraged. Something’s really got to give.

  6. Jjc2008

    I barely want to comment, or post, or even read.

    Like many others with chronic disease, I have been watching the health insurance companies get richer and richer on our backs for decades now.  

    I live with IBD and have since I was 15 years old.   It’s not a fun disease.  Anyone with Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s Disease will tell you.   Often they are isolated and embarrassed.  It’s a disease that hits most often between the ages of 15 and 30.  For me the intensity of the disease was at its worse between 15 and 40.  The cost emotionally and physically is bad enough.   For those who do not know, or understand, it’s an autoimmune disease that causes your body to attack your digestive system.  It’s nothing you do, it’s not self inflicted, it just happens.  Imagine being a 15 year old, and living with a disease that symptoms are bloody diarrhea, sometimes so severe you are cramped and trying to have a bowel movement 20 to 30 times a day.  Can’t go to school, can’t go out with friends, always afraid the urge will hit.  Then they give you drugs, heavy duty drugs like prednisone and you end up looking like a moon face freak.  You feel so bad, you tear up every picture of yourself that existed between the ages of 15 and 25.

    And then you overcome, go to college, deal, get a job.   By the time I was in my late 20s I had become aware of what was happening with insurance.    I got my last job at age 27 and never could leave for I feared if anyone found out about my UC I would become uninsurable, unemployable.

    I went to school sick for fear anyone ever think I was affected by the disease.  I made it through, paying more and more yearly for the drugs.  And you have to get one drug for the disease, and four more to counter the effects of that drug.

    Yearly, because the risk of colon cancer is higher in people with UC, I get a colonoscopy.  It’s hard enough to go through the prep, but this year the co pay for that prep was $50.  The copay for the test was $565.   The copay for the doctor’s appt’s are $40 before and $40 after.  I am already paying a $380 premium monthly.  

    Luckily I can stretch the budget.  Everyone b*tches about these things but most people only get the test every 5 to 10 years, not yearly.  

    Now, I am only a year away from Medicare.  But thanks to the Internet, I have met people who have these diseases.  And the young people are in a most horrible position, much worse than I was.  Now few of them have jobs with insurance.  Many of them live in a world where changing jobs is the norm.   Many are afraid to take time off because they have no job protection.  If they lose their jobs, they cannot afford any insurance they may have. If they have to get new insurance they are pretty much done and they know it.  Many cannot afford the drugs and these are the kind of drugs that when you stop, they lose their effective quality if you come back.

    This may be a political issue but for so many people it is personal and painful, embarrassing and frustrating.  

    I spent nearly $1000 this month because I need a test to make sure I do not develop cancer.  If I did not have the money, I would have to risk going without testing.

    But at least I could come up with the money.   Lots and lots of people cannot and they quietly suffer in fear and self loathing.  

    I would not wish this disease on anyone, not even Joe Lieberman, but honestly these bastards, do not get it.

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