health care reform

Mitch & Rand v. Obama at Supreme Court

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January 10, 2012
By David M. F. Schankula

Obamacare is headed to the Supreme Court based on the clear precedent that Medicare and Social Security are also unconstitutional and while the White House’s legal defense argues it’s the of result of “nearly (a) century-long national effort to expand access to health care by making affordable health insurance more widely available” and is built in part upon the Romneycare example, 35 Senate Republicans have filed an amicus brief in opposition to providing preventative care and requiring breast and prostate exams and in outlawing ‘preexisting conditions and so forth — signed by both Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and 35 of his colleagues filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court Friday on behalf of the bipartisan, multi-state challenge to the Democrats’ health spending law.

“Americans have been telling Washington for years now that they oppose a 2,700 page health spending bill that dramatically increases costs and expands the reach of the federal government into their health care decisions,” Sen. McConnell said. “In addition to determining the constitutionality of the mandate, that individuals purchase health insurance, the Supreme Court also will consider whether the mandate is severable from other provisions of the PPACA; in other words, whether the other provisions of the law are legally viable in the event the Court finds the mandate unconstitutional. We believe the mandate is not severable from the PPACA because the law will not function as its Congressional proponents intended or achieve their objectives without the presence of the mandate.”

Since its enactment, Senate Republicans have twice submitted an amicus brief in the lower courts in support of the states and private parties that are challenging the PPACA in federal court. This would be the first of two amicus briefs filed by Senate Republicans in the Supreme Court case.

 

 

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Occupy Lexington stands with city workers in face of increased insurance premiums **UPDATE**

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October 25, 2011
By David M. F. Schankula

Mr. Kegley @ the HL:

About 100 people, some with red picket signs, turned out in front of city hall Tuesday to protest a hefty increase in health insurance premiums for city workers.

The protest was organized by Lexington firefighters, however many others, including 911 employees, police, sanitation workers and city retirees, turned out to wave picket signs and block the sidewalk.

“As bad as the fire fighters have it, civilian employees have it worse because we have not had a raise in six years,” said Pam Brandenburg, president of Civil Service Employees Association.

The picketers drew honks and cheers of support from motorists and Occupy Wall Street protesters, who have set up camp just down the street for the last several weeks, drew colorful signs in support of firefighters.

“We’re just here to show solidarity,” said Mike Davis, Occupy protestor. “We’re about fair pay for all workers, especially the people that are charged with protecting us.”

The city workers’ premium is going up 100 to 150%. Kegley’s got the details so head over for it all.

On a similar note — and probably this issue will come up — the Occupy Lexington folks (who got a shout out from Michael Moore on Democracy Now! yesterday) will be Occupying City Council on Thursday evening so come out or tune into GTV3 for the fun and games.

 

***UPDATE***

The Herald has a longer, more in-depth story on the city workers’ give-and-take with City Council:

The council agreed to hold rates for six months to the rate employees are now paying for the Platinum Plan, in which most of the employees are enrolled.

That means employees will not see an increase in costs until at least June 30.

….Under an overhauled health insurance plan presented to the council at its work session last week, the monthly premium for a single employee enrolled in the Platinum Plan — in which 89 percent of the city’s employees, including police, fire and corrections, are enrolled — was set to increase from $356 this year to $633 beginning Jan. 1. Families who stayed in that plan would have seen their premiums go from the current cost of $745 a month to $1,330.

Both the head of the Civil Service Employees Association and the Firefighters Union indicated their members’ appreciation for the work of Mayor Gray and the Council to address the situation. Read on for that.

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Got a vagina? …then you’ve got a pre-existing condition.

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September 1, 2011
By David M. F. Schankula

Via Sonka/LEO:

When Natalie Felker applied for health insurance this August with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, the 35-year-old musician and waitress was promptly rejected due to a pre-existing condition.

That condition? Being pregnant.

Private insurance companies have long discriminated against those dreaded “Uterine-Americans,” routinely denying pregnant women. In addition, insurance companies have been known to deny coverage to women for having had a past C-section or for being the victim of domestic violence. Just as sick people cost insurance companies more to cover than healthy people, women are more expensive to insure than men. As a result, women typically are forced to pay much higher premiums.

In many ways, being a woman in America is in itself a pre-existing condition.

So are these uterine-Americans out of luck? Is there no hope?

Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 makes such discrimination by an insurance company illegal, those changes do not fully take effect until 2014 — meaning Anthem was within the law to reject Felker.

….After Felker spent weeks wrangling with prospective insurers, a friend told her about the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) in the Affordable Care Act. The PCIP was established to help people like Felker until such discriminatory actions are ultimately banned in 2014.

Seriously, go read the whole thing. Chances are, you know someone with just such a ‘pre-existing’ condition who is routinely turned down for insurance, someone who could take advantage of PCIP for the next two+ years until Obamacare makes these Big Business/Republican tactics illegal.

All in all, Sonka nails the story and the issue but there is one glaring omission… probably because in Louisville they have an awesome Congressman and don’t care about the Quiet mostly useless one just down the road.

It would be remiss of any of us reading this in the Lexington/6th District area not to use this opportunity to recall that our Congressman, Ben Chandler, voted with Giant Health Insurers on this issue, siding with billion dollar corporations against the interests and health of our fellow Uterine-Americans.

If you’re a woman and a Democrat, Ben Chandler voted against you.

If you’re a man and you’re a Democrat and you don’t care about that, if you want to make excuses for the Quietest Congressman, well, you’re probably ashamed of yourself so I won’t insult you.

 

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More Obamacare nightmares in Kentucky

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May 31, 2011
By Joe Sonka

It just gets worse. Check out the latest assault on the Liberty of health insurance companies and the free hand of the market to come out of the Red White House:

HHS to Reduce Premiums, Make it Easier for Kentucky Residents with Pre-Existing Conditions to Get Health Insurance

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced new steps to reduce premiums and make it easier for Americans to enroll in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) in Kentucky. PCIP is a new program created by the Affordable Care Act to help uninsured people with a pre-existing condition get high quality care at affordable prices and serves as a bridge to 2014 when insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people with any pre-existing condition, like cancer, diabetes, and asthma.

“The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan changes lives, and in many cases, literally saves lives,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We need to reach more people and these changes help us do that.”

Premium prices in Kentucky for PCIP dropped by 40%. Now a 50 year old in Kentucky can get comprehensive health coverage for as low as $226 per month. These new, reduced premiums take effect July 1, 2011.

Not only has PCIP coverage become even more affordable, but enrolling is even easier. Starting July 1, 2011, residents of Kentucky applying for coverage in the Federally-administered PCIP can prove their pre-existing condition simply by providing a letter from a doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner dated within the past 12 months stating that they have or, at any time in the past, had a medical condition, disability, or illness. This option became available to children under age 19 in February, and we are extending this pathway to all applicants regardless of age. Applicants will no longer have to wait on an insurance company to send them a denial letter. Applicants will still need to meet other eligibility criteria.

“These changes will get more Kentuckians covered,” said Steven Larsen, the Director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. “We’re encouraged by recent increases in enrollment and we’re excited to build on these efforts and reach even more people.”

PCIP provides comprehensive health coverage, including primary and specialty care, hospital care, prescription drugs, home health and hospice care, skilled nursing care and preventive health and maternity care. It limits annual out-of-pocket spending and does not carve out benefits the people need. Kentuckians enrolled in PCIP have access to a provider network that includes 15,797 physicians, 1,156 pharmacies and 168 hospitals throughout the State.

At least we’ll be able to tell our grandchildren what it was like when men were free.

A lot more information about the PCIP and death panels in Kentucky, here.

Oh, and Mitch McConnell is still doubling-down on killing Medicare, so at least Liberty stands somewhat of a chance.

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Romney is on Team Jacob

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May 31, 2011
By Joe Sonka

Just when you thought that Mitt Romney couldn’t get any creepier:

“I mean I like the Twilight series. I thought it was fun,” Romney said. “I don’t like vampires personally, I don’t know any but you know my granddaughter was reading it and I thought, well this looks like fun so I read that.”

Who let the wolves out, woof woof!

That Romney likes Twilight should come as no surprise after his Today Show interview this morning. As you can see, his MA health care reform that is identical to Obama’s is not nearly as evil a monstrosity because it is a quick read.

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More Obamacare horror stories

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May 9, 2011
By Joe Sonka

The Horror:

Kaiser Health News recently released a report showing that at least 600,000 young adults have joined their parents’ health plans thanks for the Affordable Care Act. These numbers posted over the first three months of 2011 demonstrate that a substantial need for the provision existed in the young adult population. What’s more, the fact that this increase occurred during a time when insurance companies announced increased profits gives credence to the claim that the Dependent Coverage provision is indeed fiscally sound and affordable as initially projected.

With graduation rapidly approaching at colleges and universities across the country, in the coming months we expect many more young adults to join or stay on their parents’ insurance while they search for jobs. This safety net helps young adults — the age group with the highest uninsured rate — stay healthy in a struggling economy, and gives parents peace of mind. We are encouraged that young adults, their parents, and insurance companies alike have recognized that this common-sense provision is truly a win-win.

When we’re mired in the collectivist dystopia of the coming years, we’ll all tell our grandchildren what it was like when America was the home of Liberty and freedom.

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The face of socialist health care oppression, one year later

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March 23, 2011
By Joe Sonka

Look at this little freeloader, soaking up the benefits of the Liberty-raping health care law:

Hello? That’s what baby bootstraps are for, not the Nanny State!

Anyway, this is a helpful website that will show you specifically how Obamacare’s attack on freedom will effect you.

Happy First Birthday, Tyranny!

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Looking back at our year of socialist health care oppression

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March 21, 2011
By Joe Sonka

It’s been a rough year since the dreaded Obamacare passed. Personally, I lost 7 grandparents to his death panels, and my new government-mandated doctor stopped filling my oxy prescription because of the new rationing program.

Apparently, the White House thinks that it actually did this stuff for the people of Kentucky:

Reducing costs for seniors and strengthening Medicare.

More than 68,688 Kentucky residents who hit the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” received $250 tax-free rebates, and will receive a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole this year. By 2020, the law will close the donut hole completely. And nearly all 44 million beneficiaries who have Medicare, including 702,000 in Kentucky, can now receive free preventive services – like mammograms and colonoscopies – as well as a free annual wellness visit from their doctor

Offering new coverage options.

Insurance companies are now required to allow parents to keep their children up to age 26 without job-based coverage on their insurance plans. An estimated 17,700 young adults in Kentucky could gain insurance coverage as a result of the law. Additionally, most insurance companies are now banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. An estimated 241,000 kids with a pre-existing condition in Kentucky will be protected because of this provision.

Lowering costs for small businesses.

The law provides $40 billion of tax credits to up to 4 million small businesses, including up to 52,761 in Kentucky to help offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees and make premiums more affordable.

Improving the quality of coverage.

All Americans with insurance are now free from worrying about losing their insurance due to a mistake on an application, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick. The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014. This will protect 2.3 million million Kentucky residents with private insurance coverage from these limits.

Providing flexibility and resources to States.

The Affordable Care Act also gives States the flexibility and resources they need to implement the law in the way that works for them. Under the law, States have received millions of dollars in Federal support for their work to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees, and strengthen their public health and prevention efforts. So far, Kentucky has received $35.9 million from the Affordable Care Act. Grants to Kentucky include:

· $486,100 to support a consumer assistance program

· $1 million to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange

· $1 million to crack down on unreasonable insurance premium increases

· $23.5 million to support capital development in community health centers

· $1.4 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund

· $4.3 million in Therapeutic Discovery Project Program Tax Credits and Grants

· $791,680 for Medicare improvements for patients and providers

· $1.8 million for demonstration projects to address health professions workforce needs

· $248,104 for Nursing and Home Health Aides Training Programs

· $1.4 million for Maternal, Infant and Childhood Home Visiting

More vicious lies with a colonial mindset here.

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It is hard to take Mitch McConnell seriously

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March 8, 2011
By Joe Sonka

Mitch McConnell went on Face the Nation this Sunday to proclaim that Barack Obama is not “serious” about tackling the debt.

Besides the fact that Mitch McConnell is very much responsible for America’s debt, it’s worth looking at what McConnell is trying do in terms of gutting the cost saving measures in health care that Republicans once advocated for, but are now trying to kill.

“Everything’s on the chopping block,” said yet another.

Everything? At HIMSS, where GOP staffers also spoke, attendees were chagrined to learn that “everything” applied to them, too. The subsidies for health information technology that were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were targeted in legislation introduced in late January by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Republican Study Group. His bill would repeal this funding and eliminate all remaining stimulus spending, including about $45 billion in unspent health IT funds.

Those focused on the substance of health policy might be forgiven for feeling blindsided. After all, the McCain-Palin health policy platform in the 2008 presidential election called for coordinated care, greater use of health information technology and a focus on Medicare payment for value, not volume. Once-and-future Republican presidential candidates such as former governors Mike Huckabee (Ark.), Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Tim Pawlenty (Minn.), as well as ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, have long promoted disease prevention, a more innovative federal government and increased use of information technology. Indeed, federal health IT “meaningful use” requirements can even be seen as a direct consequence of Gingrich’s popularization of the phrase, “Paper kills.”

As Jonathan Chait says:

It’s hard to capture the sheer absurdity of the situation. You have Republicans attempting to kill even no-brainer reforms to curtail the single greatest cause of skyrocketing spending. That’s crazy enough. On top of that, they’re doing so while lambasting the administration that pushed for these reforms for failing to address the deficit. And meanwhile, groups that are driving the deficit discussion are handing out fiscal responsibility awards to the Republicans behind this approach.

To be sure, we need to do more about the long-term deficit. But the entire discussion is ignoring the fact that one party is working very hard to make things vastly worse.

We do take Mitch McConnell’s impressive mountain of hypocrisy seriously, though.

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Beshear wants Obama off insurance companies’ backs, too

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February 28, 2011
By Joe Sonka

Get off their backs!

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration confirmed Monday that Kentucky is seeking a waiver from a portion of the federal health care overhaul that requires large insurance companies to spend at least 85 percent of premiums on medical care.

Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark made the request in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius earlier this month, saying she feared it will create a financial hardship on some insurers and insurance agents.

“Quite frankly, I just thought it was the responsible thing to do,” Clark said Monday.

The intent of the federal regulation is to prevent insurers from using huge shares of premiums on costs associated with administration, marketing or executive bonuses.

Thank God Steve Beshear is not only standing up against Barack Obama’s cruel persecution of King Coal and their right to pollute Kentucky’s water without punishment, but also Obama’s oppression of health insurance companies’ right to spend their dough on TV ads and CEO bonuses.

Phil Moffett commended Gov. Beshear for the move, so hopefully this will give him some Tea Party mojo going into this November. Oh, and maybe some insurance company campaign contributions, that wouldn’t hurt either!

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