The Widdershins

Posts Tagged ‘health whatever bill

“We don’t need the votes. We just need the checks.”

— Barack Obama, Pennsylvania, 2008

“Corporations are people, my friends.”

— Mitt Romney, 2012

I must admit that I hardly know where to start this post, Widdershins. Although I have been out of the country for the past couple of weeks, I stayed “in the know,” as our hotel thoughtfully gave us newspapers with our breakfast. And wow, was there a lot of Activist news!

First, our favorite “Activist judges” of the Supreme Court decided not to rip out the heart of “ObamaCare” – aka, the mandate to buy insurance. And oh, the jubilation and the horror! The “progressives” gloated about how awesome this was for Obama, whereas the conservatives had aneurysms and moaned about betrayal of some sort of “principle.” (I’m guessing the principle is: Democrats BAD!! BAAAAAAAADDDDDDD!!!!) Most people missed the point entirely, which is this: This is the same Supreme Court that said corporations were people! For heaven’s sake, none of this had anything to do with the Constitution, or Obama, or conservatism. It was all about the health insurance industry fat cats sitting down and asplaining the facts of life to the Robertses, Alitii and Scalie on the Court: that no one, but NO ONE, was going to take away their 30 million guaranteed customers FOR LIFE. Mmmmkay? Money is all this court cares about. They’ve proved it time and again. And money is exactly what the Health Whatever Bill will direct into the otherwise irrelevant insurance industry’s pockets. (As we know, thanks to Obama, Single Payer was “off the table” from the beginning – a decision that saved the industry for just a few precious years longer.) I ask you, in all seriousness: What business doesn’t love guaranteed customers? 30 million of them? FOR LIFE?

Tell me with a straight face this was about Obama’s political future, or Romney’s, or anything but buckets and buckets of filthy lucre.

Oh please.

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Although I am not a fan of the Health Whatever Bill (that’s putting it mildly), it does have a few decent provisions. One of them is the establishment of a Preventive Care Fund that puts $13 Billion aside for health care services for women. The problem is, it’s preventive care for all the scary lady parts, including boobies and hoo-has (I’m using Congress-friendly terminology here.) Clearly, this must not stand!

When is a landmark preventive care fund not quite one? When an escape route enabling unrelated Congressional whims makes its future uncertain. Make that Republicans’ whims, which have repeatedly thrown the $13 billion program into the legislative hopper like a ball on a roulette wheel.

Women’s health advocates inside and outside of Congress warn that a permanent solution is needed for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, created as part of the Affordable Care Act. The problem is that Congress retains the authority to redirect money to pay for non-public health programs or eliminate the fund altogether.

By the way, although the Republicans are the prime aggressors in the war on women, Monsieur Obama is far from blameless in this. As usual, he has punted any “controversial” (aka: reproductive rights) issues to Congress, knowing full well the massive dysfunction that has overtaken that formerly effective institution. Anyone who thinks that little backdoor was inserted by chance into the legislation, please raise their hands.

No takers, eh?

Congressional Democrats, as usual, are fighting the bullies by…giving in to them.They had offered to cut $4 billion from the plan to appease the rabid dogs slavering for the destruction of All Things Female-Friendly, but the Repubs want all $13 billion gone. I’m sure they’d find good use for the money, though. That townhouse in Georgetown won’t buy itself, people!

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So that the Health Care Bill you create won’t be in the hands of f*cktards like this guy.

It appears from this week’s discussions at the Supremely Conservative Court, that Obama’s Health Whatever Bill is soon to be either overturned, or eviscerated to the point that it can’t pay for the few enhancements it actually offers. The Huffington Post reports:

“Shock and awe” best describes the reaction of legislators and commentators upon hearing the Supreme Court’s closing day of arguments on the constitutionality of Obama’s health care legislation. Democrats as well as the beltway media had assumed the bill was safe, thinking that the legislation fit firmly under the Congressional power of the Interstate Commerce Clause and that justices would be wary of repercussions of single-handedly dismantling the most expansive social legislation since the creation of Medicare.

How wrong they were. From the same justices that brought you Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (the decision that ruled that corporations, like individuals, are protected by the first amendment, which resulted in the unleashing of a wave of super PACS in this year’s elections) and Bush v. Gore, now comes the very real possibility of the end of health care reform.

(snip)

Reporters, commentators and Democratic legislators were stunned by the Court’s turn. CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin called today “a train wreck for the Obama administration.” Toobin said, “this morning was unbelievable. It was like a given that they’re throwing out the mandate. Anthony Kennedy was like, ‘Well, when we throw out the mandate…’ — Do you know what a huge deal that is?” Although shaken, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that we couldn’t draw any conclusions yet, saying that justices ask lots of questions in many different directions, but that doesn’t mean they’ve made up their minds.

The logistical problem is that if the Court strikes down the mandate, the rest of the law may unravel for financial reasons. Obama’s new citizen protections, such a requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions, a ban on charging more for those with complicated health problems and the removal of insurance payout caps on medical services, are all supported by the insurance premiums of new people entering the market through the mandate.

You have to wonder if these Beltway Bozos ever read anything they don’t already agree with, or listen to their Republican colleagues during those long, LONG sessions in the House and Senate. “Obamacare” has been in their sights since 2010 (the Tea Party won many seats because of its promise to overturn the hated “socialist” bill), and they all seemed pretty confident that their friends on the Supreme Court would grant their desires. Were the Democrats truly so naive that they thought people like Scalia would actually consider the bill on its merits? Or are they just mugging for the cameras? Either way, it’s a truly pitiful sight to see the way both Parties have made a horrible joke out of such an incredibly important issue.

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A few months ago, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius, used the Affordable Care Act to promote a welcome change for women: Insurers would have to provide preventive care services (including birth control) to those they insure, free of a co-payment. And there was much rejoicing.

Last summer, HHS released new insurance market rules under the Affordable Care Act requiring all new private health plans to cover several evidence-based preventive services like mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks, and childhood immunizations without charging a copayment, deductible or coinsurance. The Affordable Care Act also made recommended preventive services free for people on Medicare.

Today’s announcement builds on that progress by making sure women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services without cost sharing, including:

  • well-woman visits;
  • screening for gestational diabetes;
  • human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
  • sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
  • FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
  • breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
  • domestic violence screening and counseling.

New health plans will need to include these services without cost sharing for insurance policies with plan years beginning on or after August 1, 2012.

I will admit that even when I wrote about this in August, I was a bit wary about that looooong lead time. Give Obama that much rope, and he usually hangs…well, us. And so, alas, it is looking like Obama is being true to form: He gaveth, and now he may taketh away.

Roman Catholic bishops and various church leaders have fiercely retaliated against the so-called “birth control mandate”, arguing that religiously affiliated employers must not be made to comply with federal regulations. Don’t be fooled by their furore: churches were already exempt from the rule on the grounds of conflicting moral and religious beliefs. But now, the battle for exemptions has expanded to include any hospital, clinic, or university associated with a religious institution, regardless of the religious beliefs of the organisation staff or those who use its services.

Even though all of this has been on the books for months, the White House has suddenly started to give vague answers about whether or not the previously agreed upon and widely supported guidelines will be upheld. President Obama has yet to make a public statement about any of this. And his silence on the matter is deeply troubling.

It’s been pointed outelsewhere that approved policies such as these shouldn’t be up for debate. Under any normal circumstances, they wouldn’t be. When President Obama spoke at the United Nations in September, he used the recently passed policy as evidence of his administration’s commitment to empowering women and girls and as proof of America’s commitment to women’s health.

If President Obama has already touted this policy as a victory, why the sudden appearance of backpedalling? Is this just one more example of a presidential flip-flop when it comes to protecting women’s health from anti-choice religious groups?

Is that a serious question for Both Ways Barack?

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Because that was so dumb, I'm speechless.

Barack Obama has finally come out of the closet on health care. His model was none other than Mitt (The Glove) Romney! How excited the Obama fans must be.

(CNN) – In a moment that Mitt Romney’s future GOP opponents couldn’t have scripted better themselves, President Obama Monday issued a full-throated embrace of the former Massachusetts governor’s stance on health care.

“I know that many of you have asked for flexibility for your states under this law,” Obama said during a speech to a governors meeting at the White House. “In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care by giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He’s right.”

The universal health care plan administered under Romney’s reign is among the former governor’s biggest vulnerabilities as he weighs a second presidential bid. Critics maintain it will be difficult for Romney to attack the president on the health care law deeply opposed by most conservatives when he himself instituted a similar plan.

Sorry, Obama, I don’t think this tactic is going to work. Romney already has an answer for this “brilliant move” from Obama and his team:

But Romney has defended the Massachusetts law, saying it was meant to be a solution for his state only.

“We addressed a problem in Massachusetts that was designed to solve problems for the people of Massachusetts,” he said recently. “But it is wrong and unconstitutional to take what is designed for one state and say we are going to apply that in every state.”

Lest you be under the illusion that Obama will ever find a right-wing talking point he doesn’t like, don’t worry – Obama is busily copying Romney on that one too.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Responding to fierce criticism of his new health care law, President Obama is now supporting an amendment that would allow states to opt out of key requirements sooner if they can match or come up with a better plan.

“If your state can create a plan that covers as many people as affordably and comprehensively as the Affordable Care Act does without increasing the deficit,” the president said, “you can implement that plan and we’ll work with you to do it.”

So in other words, the health insurance mandate…is only a mandate if you can’t come up with something better. It’s more like a restaurant recommendation, actually – if you can find another restaurant you like better, you have every right to go there! (I shudder to think that some wingnut idiot is actually going to quote me on this as though it was serious instead of snark.) I can’t help but think that a black President embracing the “States’ Rights” meme is utterly pathetic, and yet, just so typical of Barack “58 States” Obama.

I predict that by the time Obama and the Republicans are done with PPACA, there will be nothing left but an empty pastry shell filled with sugar-free anti-abortion Kool Whip.

How very post-partisan of our ruling classes.

This is an open thread.

Yes, it’s me again, folks. Our pauvre Chatblu is feeling “flue-y” (I sent her chicken soup through the Interwebz!), so I’m doing today’s post for you. There were too many things going on for me to pick just one, so it’s a Haps.

Is the Health Whatever Bill’s mandate unconstitutional? A Republican judge says yes.

The law’s central requirement for nearly all Americans to carry insurance is unconstitutional, well beyond Congress’ power to mandate, Hudson ruled, agreeing with the argument of Virginia’s Republican attorney general — and many of the GOP lawmakers who will take control of the U.S. House in January. Hudson denied Virginia’s request to strike down the law in its entirety or block it from being implemented while his ruling is appealed by the Obama administration.

“An individual’s personal decision to purchase — or decline to purchase — health insurance from a private provider is beyond the historical reach of the Commerce Clause,” said Hudson, a 2002 appointee of President George W. Bush.

Nevertheless, the White House predicted it would prevail in the Supreme Court, although it may be a year or two before the health care law gets there. The next step for the Virginia lawsuit is the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, where Democratic-appointed judges hold a majority.

This is an interesting story. We have a conservative Supreme Court, and a populace that is none too fond of the Health Whatever Bill. Is it possible that the mandate could be overturned? Yes. Is it likely? No, I don’t think so. The mandate is the part the health insurance industry loves the best – it hands them 32 million more customers, after all – and there’s no price control attached. Bonus! I’m sure that insurance companies will do all within their power to keep the Supreme Court on its side, and I’m betting the Court which decided corporations were people too, will also decide the mandate is Constitutional.

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Better Watch Out!

Better Watch Out!

As we have seen for the past ten shameful years of both Republican and Democratic rule, neither the elephants nor the donkeys are willing to advance women’s rights or LGBT rights. The Republicans have a long history of being against both causes, and their new “Pledge to America” contains the following language on page five:

We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values. 

Here’s what this patriotic-sounding Republican-ese means:

  • “Honor families” – Have lots of babies
  • “Traditional marriage” – Marriage between opposite sexes ONLY or the baby Jeebus will cry
  • “Life” – No abortions or birth control. Your womb belongs to Jeebus! See: “Honor families”
  • “Private and faith-based organizations” – Reagan’s “nine most terrifying words” (I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you) mean that only corporations and Focus on the Family-type groups should get your money

The words “American values” are used throughout this document, and it’s pretty obvious that these “socially conservative” stances will be embedded in the Party for the foreseeable future. Sorry, Log Cabin Republicans, Dick Cheney, and Meghan McCain: You lost the same-sex battle with the Republican base. That’s what you get for letting the religious right into your tent. And, in a deliciously schadenfreude moment, some high-profile conservatives have already put a thumbs-down on the new pledge because – wait for it – it offers nothing new. DUH! When have the Republicans EVER had a new idea? They are only good at re-wrapping old ideas in shiny new packaging. How can you be Republican and not get that?!  

On the Democratic side, the disgusting cowardice of the President and his appointees in the military regarding the repeal of DADT, and his actions on DOMA and refusal to support same-sex marriage, showed just how little help our LGBT brothers and sisters could expect from “The One.” As for women’s rights, Dubya was awful with his “faith-based initiatives” and his “conscience rule,” but Obama has been much worse: his Health Whatever Bill and its attached Executive Order has the potential to effectively end private abortion insurance coverage in America.

What to do about this gleeful abandonment of women’s rights by the President who promised to enact FOCA as his “first priority?” NOW has the embryo (sorry, couldn’t resist) of a plan to increase awareness of this shameful abuse of Presidential and Congressional power to intrude on the private lives of tens of millions of women.

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