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Found: A Democrat with Balls October 1, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Democrats, Health Care, Health Insurance, National Politics, Politics, Public Health, Public Option.
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graysonI fell in love Tuesday.  Completely, utterly, and helplessly in love.  And don’t worry about any implications this may have for Mr. Kitchen Table; you see, he fell in love, too.

And WHO is this object of our affections?  Florida Congressman Alan Grayson – a Democrat that actually is acting like a Democrat.  Imagine!

In case you didn’t know, Grayson stood up on the House floor on Tuesday and described the “Republican Health Care Plan”.  (See the video HERE)

“The Republican health care plan,” Grayson explained, “is ‘Don’t get Sick’.  If you have health insurance – don’t get sick.  If you don’t have insurance – don’t get sick.  If you’re already sick – don’t get sick.”

Then, noting that even Republicans understand that “Don’t get Sick” might be unrealistic, Grayson went on to explain part two of the plan.  “And if you do get sick – Die Quickly”

I literally stood up and cheered when I saw these clips running on the cable news shows.  Of course, if there is one thing that the Republicans don’t understand, it’s satire  – and if there were another, it would be irony.   Just as Jonathan Swift didn’t mean for the Irish peasants to eat their children, Rep. Grayson certainly doesn’t think that Republicans want citizens to die.  Saying so, however, proves a point that the opposition is bringing nothing to the table. 

And because the Republicans do not understand Congressman Grayson’s satirical skewering of their non-plans, they immediately began calls for Grayson to apologize.  Still smarting from the rebuke to Congressman Joe “You lie” Wilson, House Republicans stated that Grayson’s remarks were an affront to the dignity of the chamber and he should apologize.   The two offenses do not even compare – what Wilson did was so outside the pale and unprecedented, it required an apology to the President, the Congress, and to the American people.  But even if you make the stretch that this is the same as that – here’s the part that shows that they don’t understand irony, either. 

Several times over the summer, House Republicans got up on the floor to say that the Democratic health care reform would cause you to die.  Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), said in July: “Last week, Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America’s seniors: drop dead.”   Paul Broun (R-Ga.), a doctor, reviewed the public health insurance option in July and diagnosed that it is “gonna kill people.”  And let’s not forget Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who suggested on the House floor that Congress “make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”

We also had Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), note: “One in five people have to die because they went to socialized medicine…I would hate to think that among five women, one of ’em is gonna die because we go to socialized care” and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) who said, “They’re going to save money by rationing care, getting you in a long line. Places like Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe. People die when they’re in line.”    All these were harmful lies stated openly on the house floor.  No apologies were ever offered.  THAT is the ironic part.

But what made fall more deeply in love with Rep. Grayson, was his response to those asking him to apologize.  Grayson again stood up and said he would apologize – to the dead.  “According to this study…44,789 Americans die every year because they have no health insurance.  That is more than ten times the number of Americans who died in the war in Iraq, it’s more than ten times the number of Americans that died in 9/11.”  I actually stood up and cheered.  Mr. Kitchen table immediately turned to me and said that we need to send that guy some money. 

I set out to find out a little more about my new love interest.  Turns out, he’s a freshman Congressman from a heavily Republican area (Orlando, Florida).  He managed to win his seat through a massive outreach campaign to the African-American and Hispanic communities.  He was a prosecutor in Florida whom made a name for himself suing Defense contractors for fraud and war profiteering.  Since coming to congress, he has sponsored, co-sponsored, or supported paid family leave, auditing the Federal Reserve, requiring employers provide 1 week paid vacation per ear, de-funding corrupt defense contractors, and to provide collective bargaining rights to public safety officers – among many others. 

This is the kind of Democrat I thought I was voting for when I pulled the lever for Barack Obama last November.  I wanted someone fearless, someone who would fight the good fight unabashedly and with conviction.  In the past few months I began top believe that they didn’t exist anymore.  I’m pleased to know that I am somewhat wrong.

I say somewhat because for every Alan Grayson out there, there are three Max Baucuses;  lily-livered shills of some major corporation.  We gave the Democrats the Presidency, the House, the Senate, and they still are foisting this piece of shit health care bill on us. The “50-State strategy” to win the White House and congressional control saddled us with Democrats that are too afraid of losing to stand up and do the right thing.  Let’s go out and find more Alan Graysons.

(see Jon Stewart skewer the Dems HERE)


Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), who said in July: “Last week, Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America’s seniors: drop dead.”

“The Best Health Care” Myth Debunked August 25, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in Health Care, Health Insurance, National Politics, Public Health, Public Option.
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healthcare_reform_crop380wI was waiting in a long line in the post office yesterday.  One poor clerk was working the desk and was being besieged by patrons with multiple packages, a mass mailing, and a pick-up of a certified letter that didn’t seem to be anywhere.  The wait seemed endless.  An elderly gentleman in front of me – obviously old enough to be enjoying his Medicare benefits – huffed and said, “And NOW they want to take over our health care!”

I stopped myself before publicly arguing with this old fool, but I wanted to tell him that while he’s enjoying his government-run health insurance, many other people would give their eye teeth to have whatever he had – even if it was inefficient.  It’s  a damn sight better than nothing.  I just figured he was a Republican, and left it at that.  And If you only know one thing about politics, know this  – if there is one thing that the Republicans are really good at, it is the “sound bite”, the succinct summing-up of any debate in three words or less.

 Rationing!  Death Panels!  Illegal Immigrants! Government Takeover!  The lies and disinformation campaign have controlled this debate for almost a month now.  Liberals, Progressives, and just plain Democrats that want health care reform have been stunned silent by the sheer numbers of people the other side has gotten to believe this.  They’ve even got elderly Americans believing that the Medicare that they love and revere so much, is NOT a government-run healthcare program.  I am losing faith in the intelligence of the American voter. 

What’s worse than the lies from the other side is the amount of time we are spending to tell the American people what health care reform is NOT, rather than what it is.  Is it any wonder that support for an Obama health care plan seems to be dwindling?  Nobody knows just what it is.  The administration MUST do a better job at letting Americans know what they are buying and what they can expect.  Any of these explanations must include the debunking of the more insidious health care myths – the ones that all of us seem to accept without question.  First and foremost of these is “The U.S. has the best health care in the world.” 

According to every agency that keeps statistics on health care about the only areas where the United States is tops are in financial indicators.  We are ranked #1 in how much money per capita we spend on health care (over $7,000 per year in 2008 – twice that of ANY other country), number one in the percentage of personal bankruptcies caused by health costs (50% in 2006), we have more medical equipment per capita than any other industrialized country in the world (MRI machines, CAT scanners, x-ray machines, etc.), and the highest rate of health management support workers (business managers, administrative workers, etc.) to providers (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists). 

What we do not have are outcomes.  Of 48 surveyed nations, the U.S. ranks 47th in life expectancy in the world (just below Costa Rica), 43rd in infant mortality (lower than Cuba), and 24th in the probability that you will die before the age of 60.

The fact is, our “best” and wonderful system of medical care is only available to those who can afford to pay.  From 2000 to 2006, overall inflation has increased 3.5%, middle-class wages have increased 3.8%, and health care premiums have increased 87%.  The family share of premiums plus cost sharing have been rising faster than inflation, causing access problems for some.  Current estimates are that about 47 million Americans – about 17% of the population – is uninsured.  Four out of five of the uninsured are families, and about two-thirds are low-income workers.  The most often cited reason for lack of health insurance is cost (over 50%), followed by lack of a job (24%).  Less than 10% of the uninsured are those that just don’t purchase it.  These chronically uninsured do not count those people that will face insurance gaps – temporary loss of coverage, usually due to unemployment.  Looking over the last two years, about 82 million Americans younger than 65 experienced a significant gap in insurance coverage.

This does not include the underinsured population – the Americans with insurance who find that the coverage is not adequate.  Several organizations estimate that about 16 million of the insured do not have sufficient coverage to protect them from crushing out-of-pocket expenses.  Of all the personal bankruptcies that were filed due to medical expenses, 75% of those were by individuals that had health insurance.  Finally, more than 40 million adults stated that they needed but did not receive one or more of these health services (medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses) in 2005 because they could not afford it. 

The most important feature of any health care reform legislation must be to provide universal coverage and health care access to all Americans.  Many proposals that the Republicans and “blue-dog” Democrats say that they can affirm are health INSURANCE reforms, not reforms to health care.  Eliminating denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and prohibiting dropping an insured individual from coverage because they are sick are great ideas – but they do not improve access.  They are also a red herring.  No, they won’t deny you coverage with a pre-existing condition, they’ll just charge you three or more times what anyone else pays.  Insurance co-ops again will not improve access because they must compete within an industry model that only makes money by denying coverage.  A non-profit entity still has to cover its expenses and insurance reform does nothing to lower cost.

The only thing that is guaranteed to provide universal coverage, adequate access,  and lower costs to consumers is a public plan option.  Immediately, consumers would see savings over 20% due to less overhead costs.  More enrolled would mean lower costs as the risk would be spread through a larger population.  It would be Medicare for everyone – but younger working people would pay additional premiums.

It is time that we realize that it isn’t good enough to have the most expensive best health care in the world – that more and more citizens do not have access to. 

(sources:  World Health Organization, Center for American Progress, U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics)