Hey, Folks, it’s the House Healthcare Bill By Request! Section 312 Subsections B and C

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(in radio-guy voice) Welcome to Tommy eh-eh-eh-X’s House Healthcare Morning Zoo! (funny sound effect)  This next request comes from the poster with the most-er, the tweep who will make you weep, Kimberly HANEYYYYY! (cue sexy sax music)

Kimberly writes in “Dear Tommy EH-EH-EH-X!!! (explosion sound effect), please decipher Pg 145 Line 15-17 – in your words, please.”

Happy to do it, Kimmie, so buckle the (BLEEEP) up, baby, ‘cus here..it..COMES! Continue reading

Now We Finally Know What Sarah Palin Reads

Death_PanelSarah Palin has been getting justly picked apart by the sane portion of the media all week for her “Death Panel” crazy talk, which she posted on her Facebook page last Friday.  Curiously, she has not offered much in the way of elaboration or defense of the outrageous and dishonest claim.  That is, until now.

Palin has posted a response to President Obama’s Tuesday remarks on Palin’s lie.  Why the day-and-a-half delay in responding to Obama, and the 5 day response time to the sane people of the world?  I’m guessing it took her that long to cobble together the strained defenses that others have mounted for her, both those she cited (Charles Lane and Eugene Robinson), and those she didn’t (Camille Paglia) but obviously read.  All of them suffer from an inability to distinguish between a description of a medically recommended service, as it would appear in any private insurance company’s Specific Plan Document, and a call for euthanasia.

She twists mightily to spin their overreaching, highly disclaimed agreement with her into affirmation of her lie, but falls short right at the end.  The linchpin to her death panel lie is an article that was co-written by Zeke Emanuel and 2 others.  Here’s how Palin puts it:

My original comments concerned statements made by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a health policy advisor to President Obama and the brother of the President’s chief of staff. Dr. Emanuel has written that some medical services should not be guaranteed to those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens….An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.” [10] Dr. Emanuel has also advocated basing medical decisions on a system which “produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.” [11]

Even granting the idiotic premise that two cherry-picked sentences from the collected writings of Zeke Emanuel have some relevance to the health care reform currently being debated, Palin’s assertions are false.  Both articles are ethical treatises about the allocation of truly scarce resources like donor organs, decisions which are made by “death panels” (the pros call ’em “Transplant Committees”) every day.  Nothing in either article has anything to do with end of life counseling or services, nor the establishment of any kind of panel.

Will the media bother to read either article in full, or the dreaded section 1233?  We’ll see, but my instinct is that the waters have been sufficiently muddied so that Robert Gibbs can look forward to some more “he said/she said” coverage.

Pelosi and Hoyer Undercut Message With ‘Un-American’ Rhetoric

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today that makes a lot of excellent points about the current healthcare debate.  Unfortunately, they lead with the kind of loaded statement that plays into the right’s “stifling dissent” meme.  The title of the piece is ‘Un-American’ attacks can’t derail health care debate.

Forget, for a moment, whether Pelosi and Hoyer actually make an effective case for the Un-Americaninity of the town hall protesters.  For the top two members of the House of Representatives to use the phrase “Un-American” bespeaks a tone-deafness beyond belief, evoking echoes of McCarthyism.  It also represents a hypocritical brandishing of the patriotism cudgel that the Democrats have just spent 8 years decrying.

The shame of it all is that the loaded phrase only appears once in the body of the article, and doesn’t really add much to the proceedings:

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.

The fact is, there are many things you can call the protesters, but “Un-American” isn’t one of them, especially not from a liberal standpoint.  Are they rude?  Misinformed?  In some cases, delusional?  All of these are expressions of freedom that are as American as an apple pie baked by a bald eagle at a baseball game.

While they are correct in denouncing things like effigies of specific members of congress, they are clearly referring to the disruptive protesters as a whole, and the language of McCarthy is inappropriate and unhelpful.

The American response to these protesters is not to call them “Un-American,” but to shine the light of truth on them.  When they chant, invite them up on stage and see what facts they’ve brought with them.  The balance of Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s piece contain some facts that are pretty tough to argue with:

The first fact is that health insurance reform will mean more patient choice. It will allow every American who likes his or her current plan to keep it. And it will free doctors and patients to make the health decisions that make the most sense, not the most profits for insurance companies.

Reform will mean stability and peace of mind for the middle class. Never again will medical bills drive Americans into bankruptcy; never again will Americans be in danger of losing coverage if they lose their jobs or if they become sick; never again will insurance companies be allowed to deny patients coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

Lower costs, better care

Reform will mean affordable coverage for all Americans. Our plan’s cost-lowering measures include a public health insurance option to bring competitive pressure to bear on rapidly consolidating private insurers, research on health outcomes to better inform the decisions of patients and doctors, and electronic medical records to help doctors save money by working together. For seniors, the plan closes the notorious Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” that denies drug coverage to those with between $2,700 and $6,100 per year in prescriptions.

Reform will also mean higher-quality care by promoting preventive care so health problems can be addressed before they become crises. This, too, will save money. We’ll be a much healthier country if all patients can receive regular checkups and tests, such as mammograms and diabetes exams, without paying a dime out-of-pocket.

Scary Obama OFA Edict:”Visit Rep. Adler’s office in Toms River”

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What kind of sorcery is this?  Organizing for America sent me an email (a technology that I’m still not convinced won’t at least “borrow without asking” my soul) urging me to visit my local Democratic congressman.  Eerily so: (via email)

According to our records, you live near Rep. John Adler’s office in Toms River, NJ.

We’re through the looking glass, here, people. They know where I live! Continue reading

Newt Gingrich Next Republican to Play “Death Panel!” Here’s What You’ve Won

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The Republicans are so awesome.  Man, if there were no Blue Dogs, life would be perfect.

Sarah Palin invented a great game show called “Death Panel,” and Newt Gingrich, one of the folks battlin’ it out with Palin for headship of the party, is the latest contestant.  Let’s hear Newt make the case for “Obama Death Panels”:

Oh, sorry, Newt, you hit the “bankrupt” spot on the wheel.  You lose all of your party’s credibility.  Well, at least you didn’t lose much.

Kudos to Stehanopoulos for his repeated use of the phrase, “It’s not in the bill.”  This should be on t-shirts.

Funny that, to the extent Newt thinks we’re being asked to “trust government” (if you’re too lazy to read 1,000 double-spaced, triple-indented pages), he’s willing to put the same trust in corporations who have demonstrated they don’t deserve it.  Or does Newt envision that corporations don’t want to cut costs?

Newt, you are not being asked to trust the government.  You’re just being asked to read the bill.  If you have trouble with it, let me know and I’ll explain it to you.

President Obama v Gang of Six: 7 People, 1 Spine

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I just wanted to, again, say “I told you so.”  Yeah, it annoys even me, but I can’t help it.  It’s like throwing seeds at a vampire.

Remember when I urged my pal, Lee Stranahan, to relax (while continuing his excellent work) about the President’s urging to stop attacking Blue Dogs on healthcare?  Refresher:

My friend Lee Stranahan’s apoplexy notwithstanding, I have a slightly different read on this, and on the President’s plea to Leave Britney..uh, Blue Dogs Alone!  (That’s not to say that Lee should ease up one bit.  He shouldn’t.)

On the “stop attacking Blue Dogs” thing, I believe the President was more concerned with the nature of some of the ads, and the possibility that liberal groups are arming Republicans to retake those seats.  It’s one thing to say “Senator Wusspants is not listening to the people.”  It’s quite another to say “Senator Wusspants has been bought off!”

Well, as usual, I was right.  The President has begun to train the Blue Dogs to keep their mess off the carpet by targeting their districts with healthcare ads:

Ignoring criticism – namely from Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid – that intra-party targeting was ineffective, Barack Obama’s campaign arm is expanding its health care ad buy into the districts of key conservative House Democrats.

The initial purchase was on national cable and in eight states with critical Democratic and moderate Republican Senators. Now the scope of the campaign is expanding… The ad will appear in the media markets that overlap with the congressional districts of 15 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Eleven of those districts belong to Democrats…

I don’t think Sam stressed this enough, so I will: this is a clear warning to obstructionist Democrats that they will be disciplined, and not just on policy matters.  The fact that there are ad buys in their districts means that there can be ad buys during Democratic primaries.

Hopefully, the Gang of Six is paying attention.  With public support for healthcare reform at a fever pitch, and Republicans throwing a sinkful of kitchen sinks at the effort, these six wallflowers had better get moving, or they won’t be invited back to the big dance.

Who will prevail in this battle of wills?  My money is on the President.  You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but watch him STFU when you take away his bone.

Updated:Duh! Healthcare Bill Doesn’t ‘Outlaw Private Insurance’

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Earlier today, Twitter was all a-Itself with news, courtesy of Investor’s Business Daily, that the House healthcare reform bill “outlaws private insurance.”  I knew, without knowing, that they were misreading the thing, but haven’t had the chance to run through it yet.  Luckily, the Heritage Foundation debunks them, while ladling on their own false alarmism.

To sum it up, IBD reads a passage, from page 16 of the bill, that describes a grandfather provision which they interpret as “making private health insurance illegal,” but fail to read a paragraph on page 19 that explains it further.  Non-grandfathered policies would be required to compete in health exchanges, alongside the public option.

The Heritage article still thinks this is going to ruin everything because of “teh regulations!”

In order to qualify as an “Exchange-participating health benefits plan,” all health insurance plans must confirm to a slew of new regulations, including community rating and guaranteed issue. These will all drive up the cost of health insurance. Furthermore, all these new regs would not apply just to individual insurance plans, but to all insurance plans.

The irony here is that the health exchange fixes a major flaw in John McCain’s plan from the 2008 campaign.  McCain wanted people to be able to purchased insurance across state lines, but that would have meant trashing or weakening important protections for consumers.  Without them, there would simply be a race to the bottom to provide the cheapest, crummiest insurance to those who can’t afford more.  From my story on the subject:

Saying that all McCain wants to do is “erase artificial boundaries” between states is like saying, “I don’t want criminals to roam the countryside, I just want to unlock their cells so they can compete for the best one.”

In order to allow such “competition,” companies would need to be exempt from state regulations, regulations that protect consumers from being denied coverage, or being canceled if they get sick, or from being sold worthless insurance that doesn’t cover anything once you read the fine print.

The notion that insurance companies can’t compete while consumers are protected is a frightening one.  There may be some that can’t hack it, but maybe they’re the ones who need to go out of business.

Update: I finally found a complete copy of the bill that my crummy connection would let me download, and it turns out that the IBD headline is even dumber than I thought.  On page 15, immediately prior to their “Oh, noes!” paragraph, is a clearly labeled intro that states that the section is simply a definition of “grandfathered coverage,” which is then referenced on page 19:

GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 (as defined in section 100(c)) if the following conditions are met:

That’s where IBD started reading, and stopped before they got to page 19.

More on this later.