Tag Archives: healthcare reform

Today’s Post

Over at First Draft I write about the completely predictable scenario of Red State governors refusing to implement their portion of the Affordable Care Act. Give it a read.

I know blogging has been sporadic lately, and I apologize. It’s just that I’ve started a new project which is infinitely more enjoyable than the crazy which has overtaken our national discourse. You know what? If a Democratic presidential candidate refused to release his tax returns, we’d see a flurry of state legislation mandating such documents before a candidate could get on the ballot. President Obama was required to show his birth certificate, President Clinton was required to show his penis, but Republican candidates like Mitt Romney can sock their money away in offshore accounts and it’s nobody’s business where it is so SHUT UP.

Hey, just for shits and giggles, imagine the right’s reaction if the overwhelming butt-hurt expressed by VIPs at Romney’s Hamptons fundraisers had actually been recorded at a Democratic event. Forget it, we already know: we saw this during the 2004 Kerry campaign, when “limousine liberal” entered the lexicon. The IOKIYAR that guides Republican messaging these days is off the charts; Republicans have become a parody of a political party.

God I am so over this shit, you have no idea. It’s not even interesting anymore.


Filed under Housekeeping

Take The Health Reform Quiz

Test your knowledge of the Affordable Care Act with this simple, 10-question quiz. Tell me how you did in comments – no cheating!

I should say your humble scribe got all 10 correct. A+ for me!


Filed under healthcare

Memory Hole: ACA Edition

And the early reports are in: the entire healthcare law, including the individual mandate, has been upheld. The only exception is the federal government’s right to terminate state Medicaid funds.

Suck on that, Ginni Thomas.


Nothing to see here, move along:

Justice Thomas’ wife says healthcare law is unconstitutional

Virginia Thomas is working to repeal the law through Liberty Central, a conservative group she founded. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, could provide a key vote to strike down the law.

October 21, 2010|By Kathleen Hennessey and David G. Savage, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is working to repeal what she believes is President Obama’s “unconstitutional law” regulating health insurance, an issue likely to be decided by the high court.

“With the U.S. Constitution on our side and the hearts and minds of the American people with us, freedom will prevail,” says a position paper posted on the website of Liberty Central, the group formed by Virginia Thomas this year to advance conservative principles and candidates.

The story goes on to talk about the most important issue of the day: Ginni Thomas’ phone call to Anita Hill. Well done, media.


Filed under healthcare, Media, memory hole, Supreme Court

Memory Hole: Rep. Jim Cooper On SCOTUS

While we’re all waiting for the Supreme Court to issue its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, I remembered Rep. Jim Cooper touched on this at our blogger meet-up back in January. I revisited the recording which Sean Braisted posted and threw up a quickie transcript, because I thought you guys would be interested. Cooper of course is a Democrat and he voted for the ACA, and he also teaches a course in healthcare policy at Vanderbilt University.

Here were his thoughts on SCOTUS and the healthcare bill (and if you listen to it at Braisted’s place it starts around the 14 minute mark, I think…):

This is an amazingly important moment in America and hopefully it won’t be a Bush v Gore case where they make a totally political … the court needs the credibility when they’re deciding things according to the law. If they were to overturn the individual mandate that would be getting rid of eight years of Commerce Clause precedent. Now it is true before the New Deal that they had a much narrower view of government. But ever since the New Deal it’s been settled, Republican judge, Democratic judge, Commerce Clause is broad. If they were to suddenly narrow that, they’d be taking America to the 1920s.

And then for them to roll back Medicaid coercion? That would be astonishing. We would lose highway programs, we would lose tons of stuff. So what I have trouble helping people understand is, they think John Roberts, he’s conservative, Alito, he’s conservative, Scalia we know he’s conservative, and Thomas … what they don’t understand how they’re radical conservatives. Like, this idea that corporations are people? That is crazy. That is absolutely, flat-out crazy.

Some interesting headlines have hit the papers lately on the “what ifs” of the pending SCOTUS decision. (The funniest so far, hands-down, has to be Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who accidentally posted all of his possible responses on YouTube before his team had a collective woopsies.)

Constitutional scholars seem to be of a like mind with Rep. Cooper, noting the court will lose all credibility if it overturns the individual mandate because it will so obviously be a political not legal decision.

Via Ezra Klein we have Yale constitutional law scholar Akhil Reid Amar noting:

“I’ve only mispredicted one big Supreme Court case in the last 20 years,” he told me. “That was Bush v. Gore. And I was able to internalize that by saying they only had a few minutes to think about it and they leapt to the wrong conclusion. If they decide this by 5-4, then yes, it’s disheartening to me, because my life was a fraud. Here I was, in my silly little office, thinking law mattered, and it really didn’t. What mattered was politics, money, party, and party loyalty.

Well, um, duh. Welcome to the world. Seems to me we’ve been headed down that pathway since the mid-90s. Where’ve you been, buddy?

Also from the Ezra link, here’s Kevin Drum (not a constitutional scholar, but whatever):

Overturning ACA would be a whole different kind of game changer. It would mean that the Supreme Court had officially entered an era where they were frankly willing to overturn liberal legislation just because they don’t like it. Pile that on top of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United and you have a Supreme Court that’s pretty explicitly chosen up sides in American electoral politics. This would be, in no uncertain terms, no longer business as usual.

Again, what rock have you guys been living under? If even my Blue Dog congressman sees the radicals on the bench for what they are, what the heck is wrong with you pundits and scholars?

Ezra says SCOTUS has always been political and I’m not sure that’s the case, certainly not the level we see today. But as I noted back in March it does have a long history of making really crappy decisions like, for instance, Buck v Bell.

(h/t Kay at Balloon Juice)


Filed under healthcare, Rep. Jim Cooper, Supreme Court

Losing The Message Wars

A new Pew Study shows that the “liberal media” adopted conservative language and ideas when covering healthcare reform, helping sell the opposition’s message. Shocking, I know!

Pew studied a 10-month period that ended on March 31, 2010, on various platforms including network and cable news, newspaper, magazines and online publications. It found the three main themes expressed by opponents — that the plan called for further government involvement, it raised taxes and rationed health care — were mentioned some 18,181 times.

Terminology used by supporters to convey that the legislation increased marketplace competition, insured more pre-existing conditions and combatted greedy insurance industry practices received 10,883 mentions, Pew said.

Wow, that’s almost twice as many mentions for opponents’ viewpoints as supporters’. No wonder people are confused and mistrust the law.

Of course, this was just two years ago. We all remember the summer of “Town Brawls.” We remember the lies about “death panels” and “socialized medicine” and “government bureaucrats coming between you and your doctor” which opponents spread through the media. We were all collectively going “Huh?!” — when we weren’t bitching and sniping at one another about the compromises in the bill, of course.

I found this interesting:

Phrases used by opponents, calling it government-run health care, a government takeover of health care and “death panels” were “really evocative,” Rosenstiel said. They were also used more consistently, an indication that opponents were better organized than supporters, he said.

Meanwhile, some of the phrases and ideas set forth by supporters to define insurers or talk about pre-existing conditions were more abstract and there was less coordination among people pushing for its passage, he said.

Therein lies the problem. I’d love to say, “c’mon, Lefties, get it together. Come together … right now …” But really, is that ever gonna happen? No. It’s not in our constitution. We are not a homogenous, authoritarian group like the Right. We’re different and need to be approached differently.

Here’s how the Affordable Care Act — a Republican idea, let me add — was suddenly transformed into evul Lefty Obamacare “socialized medicine.” First the corporate moneybags leading the Republican Party funneled their fearmongering about healthcare reform through the wingnut wurlitzer — the Fox News shows like Glenn Beck, radio blowhards like Rush, the e-mail FWD:s, etc. It’s easy to get everyone riled up and repeating the same language when you have that kind of machinery eager and willing to do your bidding. And then just when people were hot and bothered enough, along comes a corporate-funded bus to load everyone up and take them to a rally which those same message outlets had promoted.

Ah, the Tea Party. Y’all were very useful idiots for the plutocrats, weren’t you? You always are. Feeling ignored these days? Don’t be. I’m sure they’ll call you guys up to be foot soldiers for the status quo again soon. /snark.

Anyway, this is why we can’t have nice things, like get the fucking lamestream media to stop adopting right wing talking points. We don’t just need a liberal Frank Luntz to help us with “framing” (God how I hate that term.) Democrats can’t get their message out there because a) we don’t have the same infrastructure to do so and, b) the left’s big tent is not filled with the same follow-the-leader types as the authoritarian right. We’re always going to be arguing amongst ourselves about how Obama and the Democrats have failed us because of this or that thing. And yes on healthcare reform I did it too, I’m not absolving myself of blame here — I called the healthcare reform law a shit sandwich. It was. I didn’t get everything I wanted and I was pissed.

I’m not even saying this is necessarily a bad thing. I’d rather be part of a group that asks a lot of questions and engages in a hearty debate and fights for the things it sees as necessary than be part of a group that robotically falls in line when it’s ordered to do so by Big Daddy.

I’m just saying, Democrats, that this is a problem you’re going to need to solve if you ever want to win political battles. You need your base to help you sell your message. You just do. Look what happened when we were all arguing amongst ourselves and feeling ignored and irrelevant on healthcare reform. You lost the message wars.

If you want to sell a huge piece of politically expensive legislation like healthcare reform, you need to figure out how to get the Left on board. I don’t remember you guys doing that. I don’t remember you selling the healthcare reform compromises to us. I don’t remember you reaching out through those liberal channels that do exist — the few Lefty talk shows on radio and cable TV and even The Daily Show and whatnot. I remember you throwing us under the bus and telling us to STFU and let the grown-ups be in charge. Maybe I’m remembering it wrong.

Anyway, I’m just throwing some ideas out there. When we’re having a debate there needs to be two sides of a conversation, not the right-wing side shouting everyone else down. That was a problem during healthcare too, the sheer volume on the conservative microphone drowned everyone else out. I don’t know how we fix that problem, but I do know it needs to be resolved.

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Filed under Democratic Party, healthcare, Media

First Draft Tuesday

Over at First Draft I write about that TNR story on Tennessee’s uninsured. See you over there.

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Filed under healthcare, Tennessee

Have A Heart

As the Supreme Court begins deliberating the healthcare reform law it’s important to remember how we got here. And there is no more perfect example of our flawed, inequitable healthcare system than the fact that Dick Cheney got a heart transplant last week. This troubles bioethicists because of his age and his extremely poor health:

It is concerning that a 71-year-old got a transplant. Many of those who manage to even make the waiting list for hearts die without getting one. More than 3,100 Americans are currently on the national waiting list for a heart transplant. Just over 2,300 heart transplants were performed last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. And 330 people died while waiting.

According to UNOS, 332 people over age 65 received a heart transplant last year. The majority of transplants occur in 50- to 64-year-olds.

Most transplant teams, knowing that hearts are in huge demand, set an informal eligibility limit of 70.

Cheney is not the first person over 70 to get a heart transplant. He is, however, in a small group of people who have gotten one. Why did he?

Cheney has an advantage over others. It is not fame or his political prominence. It is money and top health insurance.

Heart transplants produce bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The drugs needed to keep these transplants working cost tens of thousands of dollars every year. Organ donations are sought from the rich and poor alike. But, if you do not have health insurance you are far less likely to be able to get evaluated for a heart transplant much less actually get a transplant.

I wrote about this last October when I reminded everyone that Steve Jobs used his wealth and mobility afforded by a private plane to “game the system” and fly to Memphis for a liver transplant. Two years later he was dead.

The wealthy and powerful will always pull out all the stops when it comes to their healthcare needs; the healthcare law is not designed to address that, nor should it. But there are millions of people in this country with failing organs who never even get in the door of a hospital, let alone find their names on the transplant list. Millions of people without health insurance and therefore without healthcare for whom getting on the national organ transplant registry is never going to happen. But we’ll happily take their healthy organs when they die.

It really makes me wonder what kind of society we have where the poor are so expendable. Texas’ women’s health clinics have been shut down over a wholly misguided ideological battle, that’s thousands of women who aren’t going to see a doctor for a variety of needs now. Sorry poor people, sucks to be you, too bad we didn’t catch that cervical cancer sooner, but if you die can the former Vice President have your heart?

This country is seriously fucked up. The greatness of a nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, not its most powerful. Right now the status quo which conservatives are bizarrely fighting to maintain is an unworkable, expensive, ineffective system. Once upon a time they loved the very healthcare reform legislation they’re now spending millions of dollars trying to dismantle. It is truly strange.

I don’t know how SCOTUS will rule on healthcare reform but I do know that our existing system is completely unworkable and gets moreso every year. If parts of the Affordable Care Act are ruled unconstitutional and other parts are shredded by Republicans in Congress, what we’re left with is a system in utter tatters. I just don’t see that standing for very long. We might end up with that “Medicare For All” everyone has been clamoring for.


Filed under healthcare, Supreme Court, Vice President Dick Cheney

Romney Whitewashes Healthcare Statement In 2nd Memoir Edition

The problem with Mitt Romney isn’t his religion — it’s his flip-flopping on his own healthcare plan:

(ORLANDO, Fla.) — After the Republican presidential debate Thursday night, a senior advisor to Mitt Romney acknowledged that a line about spreading health care reform throughout the country was changed in the paperback version of Romney’s book No Apology.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said during the Florida debate that Romney took out the single line that suggested the Massachusetts health reform law could be applied to the country. The line that is removed in the paperback version reads, “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.

Oh, Republicans. You keep painting yourselves into a corner! Romney even denied his book had been changed, saying:

“I actually — I actually wrote my book, and in my book I said no such thing. What I said — actually, when I put my health care plan together — and I met with Dan Balz, for instance, of The Washington Post. He said, is this a plan that if you were president you would put on the nation, have the whole nation adopt it? I said, absolutely not. I said, this is a state plan for a state, it is not a national plan.”

Le Sigh. Look, this stuff can be checked too easily. Why even lie about it? Do you think people won’t check? You’re looking like an ass. Either stand behind what you said, or say you were wrong and you’ve learned something since then. Don’t pretend you didn’t say it! That’s beyond asinine. It’s kind of making you look like a political opportunist with zero credibility.

Romney staffer Eric Fehrnstrom tried desperately to paint the edit as a change akin to fixing a typo:

“Every time a book goes from hardcover to paperback there are updates that are made,” said Fehrnstrom after the debate. “When Mitt Romney wrote his book No Apology it came out before the health reform law passed and the stimulus bill passed came so of course there were updates a year later when the paperback edition came out. That’s not unusual in the publishing industry.”

“They were simple updates to reflect that we had more information at the time the paperback came out,” said Fehrnstrom.

I just want to die laughing right now. Really? You now have “more information”? Such as how extreme the base of the Republican Party has become? The very people you have to suck up to in order to secure the nomination need you to pass their ideological purity test, and you can’t? And there are True Conservatives running for the nomination who can? But those folks could never, ever have broad enough appeal to win a general election?

Sucks to be you, dude. I can’t believe these things didn’t figure into your game plan. You’ve only been running for president for how many years now? Well, how unprepared are you? And you really think lying about your state healthcare reform is going to work?

I know it’s hard for Mitt Romney to pretend to be a True Conservative who wants to repeal “Obaamcare” while the public record shows the exact opposite. But surely you folks saw this coming, didn’t you? You didn’t have a better game plan than just denial and whitewashing the public record whenever possible?

It’s the lack of credibility, stupid.

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Filed under 2012 presidential election, healthcare, Mitt Romney