Medicare

Chandler comes out swinging on Bush Tax Cuts

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September 27, 2011
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Unfortunately, he just keeps missing. Whiff. Whiff. Whiff.

Swing away Ben:

“These were the largest tax cuts that we’ve had, maybe ever, but certainly in a very long time,” he said. “And they are a tremendous cause of the deficits that we’re looking at right now. And most of those tax cuts went to the very wealthiest people in this country.”

Chandler says wealthy people today have more money as a percentage of the economy than they’ve ever had in the history of the U.S.

“It’s kept us from having the ability to properly fund things like Medicare and Social Security,” he said. “So now people want to come along and say, ‘surprisingly, we don’t have the money to fund Medicare and Social Security.’ Well, of course we don’t. We’ve given all these big tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the country.

Ben is, of course, absolutely correct in everything he says.

Which makes it all the more ridiculous that Ben Chandler is a vocal and powerful supporter of the Bush Tax Cuts.

Let’s run through this again for Ben’s benefit, since he’s trying to play pretend.

Ben Chandler signed a pledge to NEVER raise taxes on the super rich.

Last December when a handful of turncoat House Democrats joined forces with House Republicans to force Obama’s shift on these very same destructive Bush Tax Cuts… Ben Chandler was one of the fools pushing for and then voting for extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.

And Last September, one year ago!, Ben Chandler was certainly singing a different tune — hitting the campaign trail and blasting the idea that anyone would raise taxes on the super rich.

Chandler has supported the Bush Tax Cuts over and over and over again. Now he attempts to play the other side.

Perhaps disgruntled Kentucky Democrats of the 6th District will be heartened by Ben Chandler’s words — perhaps they are so desperate for Ben to do something right that they will accept this.

But Ben Chandler acknowledging that he has directly helped cripple America’s “ability to properly fund things like Medicare and Social Security” should be of little solace to anyone who values either of those two programs, or who values the ideals of the Democratic Party.

So keep on swinging, Ben Chandler.

How many Dems out there are fooled by this pantomime?

 

Plan to cut Medicare would cost more than it saves…

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August 25, 2011
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There are many reasons not to cut Medicare — like, oh, peoples’ lives depend on it — but if you’re a heartless bastard that doesn’t care about anything other than money, if that’s your chosen path to hell, then you’ll be happy to learn that the upcoming debate about increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 wouldn’t actually save any money… it would cost more.

The plan simply shifts the costs from the public sector to the private one and increases the overall amount paid. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports:

  • 65- and 66-year-olds losing Medicare coverage would face higher out-of-pocket health care costs, on average.  Two-thirds of this group — 3.3 million people — would face an average of $2,200 more each year in premiums and cost-sharing charges.
  • Employers that provide health coverage to their retirees would face higher costs as more 65- and 66-year-olds received primary coverage through their employer rather than Medicare.
  • Medicare beneficiaries, as well as people under age 65 who buy insurance through the new health insurance exchanges, would face higher premiums as 65- and 66-year-olds left Medicare and many of them bought coverage through the exchanges.
  • State Medicaid costs would rise as some of the people who lost Medicare coverage would shift to Medicaid.

A Dying Breed: Blue Dog Democrats get on board with architect of disastrous Bush Medicare “reform”

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July 28, 2011
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On the same day the Washington Post declared the conservative “Blue Dog Democrats” a dying breed, this misguided group of politicians decided to send out a press release in support of the “Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare.”

The “Partnership” was started last year by SunCrest Health Care and Omni Home Care. Those two companies recently merged with a third to become “the largest home healthcare provider in the Southeast.” Both SunCrest and Omni are controlled by private investment firms, and Omni, at least, has previously run afoul of the law for filing false claims through Medicare.

Which is funny because it’s medicare their “Partnership” is set to protect — read their about page if you like.

So it comes to pass that the ‘Blue Dog Democrats’ in the House sent out a press release Tuesday challenging the nation’s leaders not to impose Medicare co-payments on seniors dependent on home care:

Representatives of the House Blue Dog Coalition recently issued a letter to President Obama urging preservation of home healthcare as discussions to reduce federal spending and strengthen the Medicare program continue. Specifically, the moderate Democrats encouraged the President to oppose a co-payment for services for the 3.2 million Medicare beneficiaries receiving home healthcare and expressed support for the home healthcare community’s reform proposal to strengthen the Medicare benefit.  Lawmakers who signed onto the letter include Reps. Ben Chandler (D-KY), John Barrow (D-GA), Mike Ross (D-AR), Joe Baca (D-CA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Dan Boren (D-OK).

And they’re not wrong, of course, in wanting to protect seniors on fixed incomes from Republican attacks on their very lives. That’s actually admirable. Or, let’s put it another way… take it away, Press Release:

“Home healthcare provides essential medical services to treat acute illness, long-term health conditions, permanent disability and terminal illness in homebound seniors who are not feasibly able to access treatment in other institutional settings,” said Billy Tauzin, senior advisor to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare. “On behalf of these seniors – many of whom are low-income and would struggle with affording this proposed co-pay – we thank these lawmakers for taking a stand by urging the President to preserve their access to preferred, clinically effective home health.”

Oh good. It’s Billy Tauzin. Until a year ago he was the head of PhRMA, the protector of our nation’s pharmaceutical companies so concerned with the health and well-being and fixed-incomes of America’s elderly that they charge them out the ass for medication they need to stay healthy and/or alive.

And before he was at PhRMA, Billy Tauzin — friend of Ben Chandler and the Blue Dog Democrats — was the driving force behind the Bush Administration’s “Medicare Part D” drug plan that created a massive donut hole, increased costs to many seniors and inflated the national debt by hundreds of billions of dollars.

It’s an odd battle to pick. On the one hand, it’s a valiant effort. But on the other, who are the Blue Dogs really representing? Medicare paid-for home health care providers are Big Business… like $18 Billion in 2009 and, with an aging Boomer population, it’s no wonder the largest provider in the SouthEast — and employer of Billy Tauzin — is controlled by two private equity companies.

So: are the Blue Dogs on the right side of this fight, has Billy Tauzin changed his tune… or is something else going on?

To his credit, Tauzin did have the following advice to his former colleagues in the Republican Party:

“We all went to college right? When did you do your term paper? We all started a week out but we really didn’t do it until the night before. And you probably had to be real careful about staying sober that night. That’s where they are right now,” he said. “They’re bouncing around and they’re posturing and the bottom line is they’re going to get something done.”

Chandler, Yarmuth, Bachmann vote against “Cut, Cap, Balance, Jazz Hands”

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July 19, 2011
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The House debated this bill for four+ hours today. It was high theater if you were watching it. Not quite the Women’s World Cup, but America still lost.

As Joe pointed out earlier, John Yarmuth took to the House floor today, denouncing the bill as a charade from a delusional party dead set on returning the country to 1966, before Medicare existed (and, implicitly, before that darn Civil Rights movement had really done its damage). It was an awesome speech — because John’s pretty awesome — and you should watch it.

The Bill passed (for basically the reasons Yarmuth outlined) by a vote of 234 to 190.

Five Democrats voted for the circus act, and normally we’d at least toy with your emotions before telling you how Ben Chandler voted… but no, Quiet Ben voted just the right way. He was not one of the Blue Dog Five and he joined Michelle Bachmann (Why? Who really cares.) in voting against HR 2560.

Mark one down in the bipolar Ben Chandler ‘Yes!’ column.

Here’s what Ben had to say when he took the floor to forcefully speak up against this insidious proposal to kill your grandmother and drive America into an iceberg:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh.

Ohhhhh, right. Ben Chandler seems to have not taken to the floor to express his opinion on the matter.

Since there’s no stirring Chandler speech, here are a couple other Congresspeople who, you know, speak up for their constituents:

Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI):

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-I WILL NOT YEILD!!!):

There were many more (it went on for 4+ hours!). If they’d just paid out $100 for everytime someone said “fiscal house in order” or “kick the can down the road” or about ten other catch-phrases, the debt would’ve been erased today.

Oh, and while Quiet Ben didn’t make a speech he did put out a press release that is as pointlessly confusing as anything he ever does in which he denounced the GOP “Cut, Cap, Balance, Jazz Hands!” bill as unrealistic and having no chance of passing while at the same time announcing his own support for the even more unrealistic and chanceless “Blue Dog Cut Cap Balance Black Swan” bill. We’d link to it but, you know, meh.

And for those of you keeping score, no need to get out the white out. The rest of the delegation voted as expected because about a fifth of the state’s population are on Medicare and Rogers, Whitfield, Guthrie and Davis would rather they not be.

Quiet Ben slams Andy Barr on Medicare, but gets something very wrong

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July 5, 2011
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Quiet Ben Chandler spoke to some old folks in Lexington on Friday, warning them how the Paul Ryan budget will end Medicare (it will), and how you should be wary of politicians who support it (hint hint, Andy Barr).

“I feel some in Congress want to basically give our seniors a discount coupon and a get-well card,” Chandler said in a speech to about 120 at the Lexington Senior Center on the 45th anniversary of Medicare.

*****

“Can you imagine seniors actually having to go out on their own in the private market and having to negotiate with these big insurance companies to try to get health coverage?” Chandler asked.

Well played, Your Quietness. Chandler hasn’t said a word about the debt ceiling, but at least saving his own hide can bring out denunciation of the Ryan plan.

Only, he got this part very, very wrong:

Chandler acknowledged that Ryan’s plan would affect only people who are now under the age of 55, but “it’s still a slippery slope.”

Oh, Ben. You’re not only wrong, you’ve just given Andy Barr an opening to cite you when he incorrectly states that the Ryan Plan doesn’t effect anyone currently over 55.

How about prescription drug costs in that doughnut hole?

But the proposal would also repeal last year’s health care law, which means reopening a coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription-drug benefit that the statute closed. The gap, commonly called the “doughnut hole,” requires seniors to pay 100 percent of any prescription costs after the annual total reaches $2,840 and until it hits $4,550… If Congress were to pass Ryan’s plan and repeal the law, as House Republicans want, the 3 million to 4 million seniors left in the doughnut hole each year would immediately face significant out-of-pocket costs.

And once more are off Medicare

In 2022, when the limited-subsidy program would be introduced, seniors who qualified for traditional Medicare would be allowed to switch to the new program. If healthier or younger beneficiaries make the change to lower their out-of-pocket costs, those still participating in Medicare would be part of an insurance pool that is less healthy and more expensive. To cover those higher per-person costs, Medicare might well be forced to either raise premiums or limit reimbursements to health care providers-which could prompt many to stop taking Medicare patients.

And then there’s all the GOP Medicaid cutting

The GOP budget proposes cutting some $744 billion from Medicaid over 10 years by turning the system into block grants that limit federal contributions and give states more choice in structuring benefits. No one knows exactly which Medicaid services states would choose to cut back, but senior citizens account for a disproportionate share of Medicaid outlays and would almost certainly bear some of the burden.

So while folks over 55 will continue to get Medicare, the Ryan Plan would negatively affect how many receive their care.

Unless you’re under 55, and you just get a coupon. Or, “premium support system”, rather. To “empower grandma on the private market“.

I was able to chat a bit with Andy Barr yesterday, and I’m happy to report that he’s sticking by the Paul Ryan plan 100%. He did use the “it doesn’t affect people over 55″ argument though, and if Chandler doesn’t kill that talking point, he’s going to let Barr pit old people enjoying Medicare vs. younger people who won’t get the chance to enjoy Medicare.

NRCC launches 3-week TV ad buy against Ben Chandler

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June 23, 2011
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cn|2 reports that the 17-month campaign against Ben Chandler has officially begun, as they’ve purchased 3 weeks of air time in Central Kentucky for this attack ad, featuring a healthy dose of Obama Fear:

Meanwhile, this Bloomberg poll out today shows why the NRCC is wasting their money here for the pro-ending-Medicare candidate Andy Barr:

By a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent, poll respondents say they would be worse off if Ryan’s plan to convert Medicare to a system of subsidized private health coverage were adopted. Fifty-eight percent of independents, a critical voting bloc in recent elections, say they would be worse off.

That’s likely to encourage Democrats to bank their success in next year’s presidential and congressional races on tying Republicans to the Medicare plan, which was passed by the Republican-controlled House on April 15.

You think?

Also, when your plan is to end a program, and then replace it with something completely different that doesn’t resemble what the program was in any way? The word “convert” is not accurate. Make no mistake, the Ryan plan ends Medicare. You can call it whatever you like, but for folks currently 55 or younger Medicare would most definitely cease to exist, no matter what you choose to call it.

Yarmuth calls out McConnell’s hostage demands on the House floor (VIDEO)

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June 22, 2011
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Here’s John Yarmuth, Awesomely calling out Mitch McConnell for threatening to cause an economic calamity unless the Democrats cave on Medicare (i.e., electorally bail out Paul Ryan Republicans next year):

The KDP also weighed in on the matter:

KY Democratic County Chairs issue statement to Speaker Boehner

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June 19, 2011
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As Kentucky celebrates the 200th anniversary of local boy made good Henry Clay becoming Speaker of the House (dubbed “Henry Clay Week” currently in Lexington), 20 Democratic County Executive Committee Chairs have a message for current Speaker of the House John Boehner, who will be speaking at Transylvania this Friday along with three former Speakers.

Henry Clay served Kentucky as a member of the Kentucky Legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate for almost half of the 1800s. In addition to serving as a state and national legislator Clay served as a diplomat who helped negotiate the end of the War of 1812 and as U.S. Secretary of State.

While Clay lost three elections to be President of the United States, his contributions to the nation exceed those of many Presidents. He is known as “The Great Compromiser” for keeping the nation from civil war in 1820, and for sponsoring the “Missouri Compromise of 1820” and “The Compromise of 1850.”

Clay was a strong supporter of the Federal Government building roads and canals throughout the nation. In 1836, he sponsored legislation which created the system of Marine Hospitals for workers on the nation’s inland rivers, lakes and waterways. The legislation mandated that this healthcare system be paid for by the employers of workers on America’s waterways.

Clay left a powerful legacy as a leader who believed in the power of government to do good for society. It is hoped that the present Speaker of the House, John Boehner, will learn from that legacy that compromise and internal improvements made and continue to make our nation great.

In that spirit we suggest that Speaker Boehner use his leadership position not to try to balance the budget on the backs of America’s Seniors by dismantling Medicare, but instead by phasing out the billions of dollars of tax subsidies for very profitable oil companies. Instead of cutting grants for students and pre-school programs, we suggest he lead Congress to mandate that companies such as GE that receive billions of dollars of government contracts and yet pay no taxes, start acting as responsible corporate citizens and pay reasonable taxes.

We further suggest that Speaker Boehner find common ground with the President on the health care reform legislation, the “Affordable Care Act.” It is unclear why Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues oppose families being able to provide health insurance to their children until age 26? Or why they oppose prohibiting the denial of coverage to children born with disabilities?

Speaker Boehner, we ask that you follow the example of Henry Clay, “The Great Compromiser,” and look to compromise to make our Federal Government work.

Not bad. Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Daniel Logsdon also released a special video statement about John Boehner:

Yes, it’s now been two months since the entire Kentucky GOP House delegation voted to end Medicare, yet not a single word about this has been uttered by the Kentucky Democratic Party. Nor about Mitch McConnell saying that ending Medicare will “empower grandma on the private market“. But at least more and more individual county chairs (volunteers) are speaking up, doing the job that the KDP gets paid (well) to do.

How long will we have to wait, KDP?

Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, P90X and "Empowering Grandma"

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June 16, 2011
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I’ve had a little trouble connecting the dots on what the GOP is up to with their ridiculous plan to end Medicare. Here’s a stab at it:

A.) Paul Ryan’s budget proposes to end Medicare and replace it with insufficient coupons. The GOP overwhelmingly support it.

B.) Mitch McConnell votes for the Ryan plan, saying that it will “empower grandma on the private market”.

C.) As this segment from Rachel Maddow on Tuesday shows, Paul Ryan’s obsession with the P90X “fat-blasting” workout is matched only by the serious journalists at Politico:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I’m not 100% sure about this theory, but I’m just saying that those “coupons” to “empower grandma” might very well be for P90X, leading to leaner and tighter budgets, and leaner and tighter grandmas:

Oddly enough, this is slightly less nauseating than most of what the national GOP comes up with on a daily basis.

The “X”!

Mitch McConnell has a busy day of uranium, Gitmo, ethanol and extortion

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June 15, 2011
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Yesterday was officially the slowest day of the past two years in Kentucky politics (with today runner up, perhaps), but Mitch McConnell was awfully busy in DC.

He started off Monday, pitching his plan for Paducah to get in the gloriously profitable with no downsides game of re-enriching uranium

Then on Tuesday he:

- Broke away from every corn state Republican by voting to eliminate ethanol subsidies.

- Decried the American Justice system while defending detention camps. Here he is explaining how holding two wannabes in Kentucky will put us all in grave danger from the angry muslins (they have magic powers, you see). If we put them in Gitmo, no one will want to attack America and they won’t be allowed to watch Ellen. It’s a win-win for America, as you can see:

- Renewed his extortion threat against the people of America. In this op-ed he once again lays out his case that the GOP is willing to let America face economic apocalypse unless the Democrats do what they say and agree to things that are so awful that 2012 voters forget all about that nasty Paul Ryan bill to kill Medicare that the GOP voted for. The Senate Democrats once again said no thanks:

He’s certainly a busy man. After all of that activity Tuesday, he just ate some lettuce and chilled out in the shell today.

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