The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

I can hardly believe it, but it’s Thanksgiving next week, Widdershins! I hope you’re all going to take some time to relax. Two viruses – the pandemic and the Republican virus of vaccine and mask resistance – have cast a pall over holiday gatherings this year. The pandemic is the one affecting Thanksgiving for me. I am thankful that my family is all vaxxed, AND, that I am seeing my aunt and uncle from Baltimore for the first time since the Rona reared its ugly head. We’ll still need to get negative PCR tests before we can go inside my brother’s house for Turkey and Tofurkey Day (my sister-in-law is vegetarian), but it’s worth it to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Despite the wretched Rittenhouse verdict, we had a lot to be thankful for this week. President Biden signed the BIF and Speaker Pelosi got the Build Back Better bill signed in the House. Now, the bill goes to the Senate, but thanks to the reconciliation process, only Democrats need to vote for it. Despite Manchinema saying they’ll wait for the CBO report to say how they vote, the report is coming soon, and I don’t think they’ll make a lot of trouble after what happened in New Jersey and Virginia. Oh, and remember how McConnell insisted a couple of months ago that he would absolutely, totally, NOT vote yes on raising the debt ceiling on December 15? Looks like he and Chuck are talking about it now. Something tells me Chuck will get what he wants.

I hope you all will indulge me as I take a minute to marvel at what the Democrats have accomplished so far. The Party has had full control of the federal government only since February 3, 2021, when Schumer and McConnell agreed on power-sharing in the Senate. Given that metric, it’s been nine and a half months.

We have been so traumatized and terrified by the hostile maladministration of Rethugs that we are not used to any good news coming from government sources. I believe this trauma, in combination with our blatantly fascist media, are what’s preventing us from appreciating the revolutionary nature of this time in our political history. There has not been a truly significant investment in the 99% since the Affordable Care Act – and even that was weak sauce compared to what’s being passed now. I can only compare the current furious activity to the New Deal, without the racism of that legislation. And Democrats are doing it all with a majority of 1 vote – the revolutionary, first Black and Asian woman Vice President Kamala Harris. (PRESIDENT Kamala Harris for a few hours this week! Incredible!)

I have often said that the job of President of the United States is the hardest job in the world. 350 million souls, so many of them suffering due to social and economic inequality; and the rest of the world, looking to Biden for leadership, aid and partnership – with a few countries trying to destroy him and America from the inside. Imagine coming into that job after almost 27 years of Rethug destruction, plus a global pandemic that has been botched almost beyond repair, with a forever war to end in Afghanistan and an ongoing attempted coup added in for good measure!

Leaders talented enough to take on this job successfully need two traits in combination. One is, the ability to communicate a shared purpose that people can believe in; and the other is the ability to build the right team to drive it forward.

I think Pelosi and Schumer have been able to wrangle the Democrats into passing these historic bills not just because they too are very talented leaders (they certainly are!), but also because Biden has convinced Congressional Dems that his purpose is the right one. (This doesn’t count the Squad, of course, but they’re DINOs.) His purpose to me is quite simple: let’s join the 21st century so China and Russia don’t destroy us. He’s looking ahead strategically and seeing how many of our people are mired in poverty, illness and incarceration without access to the Internet, child care, education and healthcare. This state of the Union makes us less competitive on the world stage, holding us back from making progress on difficult problems like climate change and clean energy. Every initiative Biden has put forward has been consistent with this purpose; whether it’s the American Rescue Plan, which included an increased Child Tax Credit that has already cut child poverty by 50%; or the BIF, which includes billions for clean water and renewable energy; or the Build Back Better Act, which in its current form regulates the cost of child care, provides four weeks of paid parental and sick leave for all American workers, provides free universal pre-K for all 3 and 4-year-olds, and boosts Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, as well as containing $500 billion to address climate change. Women’s rights are far from forgotten – the latest annual budget proposal drops the Hyde Amendment for the first time since 1976, as well as the less-known Weldon Amendment that works in tandem with it, and includes historic amounts of funding for Title X and access to abortion. And let’s not forget the executive orders he’s signed to mandate vaccines in workplaces through OSHA, and block the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. For more details, this poster on Twitter always has receipts.

Biden’s ability to build a stellar team is on display all day, every day. From our marvelous VP Kamala Harris, who (despite getting the Hillary treatment from the media) is succeeding on multiple fronts, to his diverse and talented Cabinet, Chief of Staff and Press Secretary, all of his team are on point, on message and doing what needs to be done.

There is plenty of bad that’s going on in this world, but today, I’m thankful for what the Democrats have done for the American people. And today and every day, I’m thankful for all of you Widdershins who have kept me going through good times and bad, for lo, these many years.

Happy Thanksgiving all! Open thread as always.

Courtesy of The Hill

Rut-roh, Bernie! There’s a new cult figure on the horizon, and *gasp,* he is YOUNG. And, he raised $200,000 more in 24 hours than you did! Oh my, oh my, what shall you do?

O’Rourke’s total crushed the first day hauls of many of his Democratic competitors and surpassed even that of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the fundraising pace-setter and a far better-known candidate who collected $6 million [actually, he didn’t. He raised $5.9 million] in the first 24 hours of his own campaign. In an email to supporters Monday, the Sanders campaign pointed to O’Rourke’s total and asked for help to “close the gap” before the first Federal Election Commission fundraising deadline.

Oh, but that didn’t happen. Why? Because Beto knew how important this was going to be, and he was ready.

The cash windfall was no accident. O’Rourke began preparing for a robust online fundraising push even before he announced his run for president, alerting top supporters to be ready to solicit contributions from their lists. Once he announced his candidacy on Thursday, the campaign began aggressive texting, email and social media appeals. O’Rourke spent more than $157,000 on Facebook last week, running more than 2,300 — many of them soliciting donations, with the campaign telling donors that “what we raise in the first 24 hours will set the tone in the national conversation about the viability of our campaign.”

Whatever we might think about Beto, he certainly has political savvy – enough to know how to shut up the yelling, pointing, almost-octogenarian Senator Sanders. And now, it looks like at least some of the Powers That Be have decided that Bernie and Beto cannot occupy the same space. The compares and contrasts are starting, first on one of Sanders’ signature slogans – er, policy positions: Medicare for All. Guess what? Beto’s on the right side of this. He favors a plan called Medicare for America,  which outlines a gradual phasing in of single-payer. Not too coincidentally, this concept is also what Our Girl proposed in 2016.

That Democrats are arguing whether their next health care proposal should cover every American in a government plan in a matter of years or a matter of decades shows how far to the left the party’s internal health care debate has shifted. But in a crowded presidential field, these distinctions are going to be treated as meaningful. O’Rourke is allying himself with more mainstream Democrats, setting up a collision with Sanders and the single-payer purists [bolding mine].

That is a good sign for Beto. But there are other, more troubling signs that despite the cash he can raise, he just might not be ready for prime time, especially in the era of #MeToo and the massive infusion of energy, brilliance and joy over 100 female freshman Democrats have brought to the House this year.

Much of the criticism of O’Rourke, while specific to the comments he has made, also revolve around his status as a 40-something white male running in a party increasingly leaning on minorities and women for support.

[snip]

Tracy Sefl, a Democratic consultant who served as a surrogate to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, summed it up by calling it “the tyranny of bro culture.”

“A seasoned campaign professional — a woman— asked me, ‘Is he running for president in this century?’ A question worth asking based on what voters saw over the past several days,” Sefl said.

So, Beto’s shiny and embodies white male privilege. Bernie’s shiny and embodies white male privilege. At the end of the day, which one, if either, will remain standing? I think we’ll find that two shiny objects cannot, in fact, occupy the same space.

This is an open thread.

 

Who pays the bill?

Good Day Widdershins!

MB has had some real life issues come up
so I’m subbing for her today.

Welp, the Super Bowl is over and as chat and I used to say, we’ve entered the Dark Times now as far as football is concerned.  However, we survive.

What we may not survive is how insurance companies treat us when we may have to use the services of the emergency room.  Basically they now have decided that unless you have diagnosed yourself, performed an M.R.I. on yourself with your own imaging machine that you keep out in the garage and truly have an emergent condition under their own list of diagnostic codes rules and, in the case of Anthem, they probably won’t cover your claim for an E.R. visit.

A list of codes from Missouri is significantly longer, with more than 1,900 diagnostic codes that could indicate non-emergency visits. The list includes multiple types of “unspecified injuries” and “chest pain on breathing.”

(snip)

In other states, the list of diagnosis codes remains confidential. Georgia insurance regulators have asked Anthem to provide a copy of that state’s list, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

The link above is a link to a Vox article describing what happened to one woman in Kentucky Who had Anthem Blue Cross.

Brittany Cloyd was doubled over in pain when she arrived at Frankfort Regional Medical Center’s emergency room on July 21, 2017.

“They got me a wheelchair and wheeled me back to a room immediately,” said Cloyd, 27, who lives in Kentucky.

Cloyd came in after a night of worsening fever and a increasing pain on the right side of her stomach. She called her mother, a former nurse, who thought it sounded like appendicitis and told Cloyd to go to the hospital immediately.

Hell, if my mom was a former nurse and told me that I would be heading to the E.R. too!

At the E.R. the doctor and staff did a CT scan and ultrasound.  They determined that Cloyd had a case of ovarian cysts.  They gave her a prescription for pain meds and an order to followup with her gynecologist.  And ya know…most of us don’t have that CT machine and ultrasound to do our own tests before heading to the E.R.

However that wasn’t good enough for Anthem Blue Cross and they denied Cloyd’s claim leaving her to pay a $12,000 bill.

What Anthem suggests other than a visit to the E.R.

Anthem discovered a really neat way to start denying E.R. claims when they received them.

Anthem has begun denying coverage for emergency room visits that it deems “inappropriate” because they aren’t, in the insurance plan’s view, true emergencies.

The problem: These denials are made after patients visit the ER, sometimes based on the diagnosis after seeing a doctor, not on the symptoms that sent them, like in Cloyd’s case.

Now, I’m not a doctor nor a nurse but I do believe when you present to the E.R. the docs and nurses will get the symptoms you are having and then start the process of ruling out or ruling in what the problem or issue is.  However, it’s much easier and cheaper (!) to go by what the discharge diagnosis turned out to be.

Vox wanted to interview someone from Anthem but after initially agreeing to an interview Anthem backed out and just gave them a written statement.  (which is bullshit btw)

Renee Hsia, a professor of health policy studies at the University of California San Francisco and practicing emergency physician said:

“If you look at insurance claims data, you have diagnoses but you don’t have what the patient came in with,” Hsia said. “It’s not fair to expect the patient [to come] in knowing their diagnosis. If they did, they wouldn’t come in and wait for ours.”

Oh and that little flyer thing above that Anthem included in some folks’ bills?  It a crock.  In my local area, urgent care places close at 6:00 p.m., they aren’t open “nights”.  So if I have chest pains after 6, do I wait until the next day when they are open or do I call 911 and go to an E.R.?  And pardon me, but the Teledoc?  I’m having chest pains and I’m going to video conference with a doc?  Uh no and besides they charge either $40 or $45 bucks and then they would say “go to the E.R.”.

At least Brittany got satisfaction on her claim.  It only took two appeals and then Vox getting into the situation.

John Rogers, president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians said “Hospitals are starting to talk to patient advocacy groups, asking whether they’re aware of the situation,” he said. “We’re starting to sit down with legislators to say, ‘This is happening, we don’t think it’s a good idea, and these are other, better solutions.’”

Good luck Dr. Rogers.  Going up against the big health insurance companies will be a long, difficult slog.

Open thread of course.

I couldn’t bring myself to write about tRump and his calling the Democrats “treasonous” because they refused to kiss his ass applaud his S.O.T.U. address.  You’ll find out about real treason very soon Donald.

 

 

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Good morning Widdershins.

This week has been rough. On Tuesday and Wednesday Republicans passed the Money Redistribution Act. Not a single Democrat voted for this travesty that will gut whatever is left of the American middle-class. But Republican centrists, those honorable people likeSusan-collins-e1465230869154.jpg Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – heroines of the ACA repeal fiasco – showed once again that when it really comes down to it, they are as dishonorable as every other Republican. Both sold out the American public for a handful of dollars; actually, when I say a handful I mean a huge handful for themselves and their corporate overlords. Susan Collins, when told that McConnell would not honor his promise to her about the ACA mandate, lashed out at the media:

“I believe that the coverage has been unbelievably sexist, and I cannot believe that the press would have treated another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “They’ve ignored everything that I’ve gotten and written story after story about how I’m duped. How am I duped when all your amendments get accepted?”

A certain female former Senator, Secretary of State and almost President might laugh at Collins’ self-pity. The GOP tax bill for all intents and purposes repeals ACA. Collins voted to repeal it after claiming she wouldn’t. Because McConnell promised her something he has no intention of delivering. If she truly thought he would – she may not look it, but Susan Collins was born yesterday.

In other news, the New York Times continued to demonstrate why they are – as I like to say – the rotting corpse of a once great news organization. Just a few short weeks ago they suspended their star White House reporter Glenn Thrush after stories came out that multiple women were accusing him of harassment and assault. On Wednesday Dean Baquet announced that Thrush would be back at the paper, just not covering the White House.

“While we believe that Glenn has acted offensively, we have decided that he does not deserve to be fired,” Baquet said in a statement. He said Thrush will receive “training designed to improve his workplace conduct,” and that Thrush is undergoing counseling and substance abuse rehabilitation on his own.

This is galling, especially when you consider that the Times previously wrote op-eds calling on Al Franken to resign. (Which he did and just announced that he will be gone atmaxresdefault.jpg the end of the year.) Thrush, one of the star male reporters who helped craft the narrative in 2016 that Hillary Clinton was unlikable and not trustworthy, was proven to be a misogynist. Perhaps considering the Times’ coverage, especially Baquet’s political coverage, one should not be surprised. But appalled and disgusted, yes. Or as Brianna Wu tweeted:

Dear . The issue with Glenn Thrush isn’t that he behaved “offensively.” It’s that he got drunk, sexually assaulted women he worked with, and then DESTROYED THEIR PROFESSIONAL REPUTATIONS with colleagues to cover his ass. How can you keep that in your newsroom?!

Perhaps more than any other paper, the New York Times has been responsible for normalization of Trump and White Supremacy, and the destruction of Hillary Clinton. If anyone still has a subscription to it, I urge them to cancel it. (Also worth noting Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, announced his retirement from the paper effective December 14th. His place as the head of the paper was taken his son, A.G. Sulzberger. Because, well, of course.)

Memes.com

Good Monday, all. As I was toodling around the interwebz trying to find something inspiring to write about, I came across this article about an organization called “Care2,” which has been around since 1998, has over 41 million members, and is considered a pioneer in the field of online activism.

A couple of things that stood out for me:

  • Online petitions actually do help. According to the article, they’re a great tool for showing that a cause has a large number of supporters, as well as leading people to take next steps, such as calling or writing their Congresscritters.
  • The normalization of outrage is dangerous to the Resistance. We are understandably and justifiably exhausted from the constant stream of crayzee coming from Drumpf, but, we can’t let it go by. We can never accept his behavior or his Residency. All we can do is say no, no, a thousand times no, and keep saying it!

That’s all the positivity I have for you today. If you want to leave on a happy note, stop reading, because what’s coming next will not make you smile.

While the Orange Jumpsuit has resolutely golfed his way through the crisis in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, tweeting madly about the mayor of San Juan and the NFL’s standing or kneeling during the National Anthem, the Thugs in Congress have quietly found a way to take health care away from 9 million children and pregnant women. Because you know, that’s what those heartless f*cking bastards live for.

Congress just allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provided low-cost health insurance to 9 million children, to expire.

If action is not taken soon to restore the funding, the effects will become obvious in schools across the country, with many of the children in the program unable to see a doctor for routine checkups, immunizations, visits when sick and other services.

The program, created under a 1997 law passed with bipartisan support during the administration of President Bill Clinton, provided coverage for children in families with low and moderate incomes as well as to pregnant women. It was instrumental in lowering the percentage of children who were uninsured from nearly 14 percent when it started to 4.5 percent in 2015. It was last reauthorized in 2015 and was due to be renewed by Sept. 30, 2017.

The program is a bargain. It only cost the federal government $13.6 million last year. Some of the moneys are paid from state budgets, which makes is structured a bit like Medicaid. Perhaps that’s why the deplorable Thugs hate it so much, although my personal theory is that since it was Hillary’s baby, they’re letting it expire from spite. I said the same thing to Paul Begala on Twitter.

I like Paul Begala, but I really, REALLY don’t want to hear anything more about how Republicans are “actually” good and decent people who “should speak up.” They don’t speak up because they are TOTALLY FINE WITH WHAT DRUMPF IS DOING. If you support the Republican Party, you support the Party of Death. They do not give a flying f*ck if the entire country turns into Mordor; a hot, stinking, war-addicted, slave factory where they rule with iron fists over a squabbling, bloody, ignorant populace afraid of the light. The people like the Kochs, Mercers and Adelsons feel they are immune from it all; that their money insulates them from whatever disasters they perpetrate on the environment and on the American people. They don’t need government health care, you see, so no one else deserves it. They don’t need clean air because they can afford to seal themselves up in a bunker and filter it all out. They probably think they can survive a nuclear holocaust, which, cockroaches that they are, just might be true.

Seriously, doesn’t Sheldon Adelson look like the Portrait of Dorian Grey? He is the very embodiment of corruption.

It makes me even more viscerally ill that a lot of these right-wing f*cktards are Jewish. They are sending millions and millions to people like Steve Bannon and Alex Jones, who preach the exact same anti-Semitism that got 6 million Jews killed from 1941-1945. How dare they empower this kind of racial division masquerading as “right-wing populism” – another phrase I never want to hear again? What a bunch of sociopaths. The holes inside them can never be filled with money, but much to the detriment of America and those who love her, they’ll never figure that out.

What can we do about all of this? Well, we can tweet, and sign petitions, and march, and make sure our Congresscritters know exactly how we feel about everything they’re doing. And we can also take comfort in the fact that the Democrats have flipped 7 seats in special elections this year…and the Republicans have flipped none.

According to the Cook Political Report (and our friend Janicen), the elections to watch are the ones in Virginia.

As those elections show, Democratic voters are hyper-motivated right now. But their chances fall as turnout rises. On June 20, Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th CD after a $50 million contest that generated 56 percent turnout. The very same day, Democrat Archie Parnell came within three points of a shocking upset in a South Carolina race that attracted a fraction of the money and generated 19 percent turnout.

Virginia’s House of Delegates races are a better proxy of what’s to come in 2018. Turnout won’t be too hot (as in Georgia) or too cold (as in New Hampshire). It will be driven by the governor’s race, which better approximates what a midterm turnout looks like.

Moreover, there are plenty of vulnerable GOP Virginia delegates sitting in districts where Clinton outperformed Obama. Republicans like Dels. Jim LeMunyon (67th), Scott Lingamfelter (31st) and Tag Greason (32nd) all fit that bill – just as there are plenty of House Republicans sitting in districts where Trump is uniquely unpopular. Their races will test voters’ inclination to send a message to Trump regardless of whether they know and like the local GOP candidates.

Let’s keep an eye on these races in particular.  Election Day is 11/7/17. Things could get very, very interesting.

This is an open thread.


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