Keith Olbermann’s Heroic Healthcare Special Comment

Countdown’s Keith Olbermann returned in style last night, “firing” Richard Wolffe, breaking his Billo truce, and delivering a fiery Special Comment.  Watch the video first, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then I’ll tell you what I thought.


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Surprise! Anti-Healthcare Reform Horror Story is a Lie

Update: So, that Canadian lady in the commercial, the one who wants to keep at least 20 million Americans without healthcare?  The one with the life-threatening brain tumor?  Yeah, not so much.

Still, I found Holmes tale both compelling and troubling. So I decided to check a little further. On the Mayo Clinic’s website, Shona Holmes is a success story. But it’s somewhat different story than all the headlines might have implied. Holmes’ “brain tumour” was actually a Rathke’s Cleft Cyst on her pituitary gland. To quote an American source, the John Wayne Cancer Center, “Rathke’s Cleft Cysts are not true tumors or neoplasms; instead they are benign cysts.”

Well, surely, a Rathke cleft cyst can be life-threatening, right?

Mortality associated with RCCs is extremely rare. In a study conducted by Shin and colleagues, the mortality rate was 0%, and the recurrence rate was 19%.2 In the literature, recurrence rates typically are lower, commonly 5-10%; however, Mukherjee co-authors reported a recurrence rate of 33%.

So, there you have it.  The Republicans want you to put the future of your healthcare in the hands of a Canadian hypochondriac.  I suppose that’s marginally better than letting the Republicans handle it, but I think we’ll stick with the public option.

Healthcare PWN-age Video of the Day

This clip is actually a few weeks old, but it was emailed to me by a conservative who was in an apoplectic lather over Jane Hamsher’s attempted PWNing of Townhall’s Jillian Bandes.

As it turns out, Jillian PWNed herself. Check it out.

Hamsher plays a little bit of dirty pool here, using her own cancer survivorship to try and taze Bandes into submission,but in doing so, misses a better opportunity. Everybody’s got a story, and when you rest your argument on one, you legitimize whatever sob story the right wants to dig up. Since all the right really has are anecdotes and speculative fiction, this is a bad strategy.

In fact, she’s responding to an ad in which another cancer survivor does the same thing. We could trade horror stories all day long, and it wouldn’t do a thing to illuminate this issue for people.

Hamsher misses the big kill here, as Jillian Bandes delivers the perfect setup. When Shuster asks her who represents the “50 million uninsured,” Bandes torturously haggles him down to 20 million people.

20 million people? Using the best math available to the right, generously granting all of Bandes’ assumptions, that is the best they can do? Why didn’t Hamsher zero in on that? Who is representing the at least twenty million people who cannot get health insurance?

That is the real shame in this.

She misses another chance, as well, to challenge the contradictory assumptions of the right. They say that the public plan will be a deadly morass, yet they are convinced that private insurance companies will be unable to compete with it. What sense does that make? That’s like saying that cheap cans of shit will drive beef stew out of the market. It’s nonsense. Bandes also gets away without answering to the overwhelming public support for a government option.

There may be some grassroots opposition to the public option, but it seems to be coming from insurance companies and their best customers. Take it with a grain of salt, then get your blood pressure checked, if you can.

Healthcare PWN-age Video of the Day

This clip is actually a few weeks old, but it was emailed to me by a conservative who was in an apoplectic lather over Jane Hamsher’s attempted PWNing of Townhall’s Jillian Bandes.

As it turns out, Jillian PWNed herself.  Check it out.

Hamsher plays a little bit of dirty pool here, using her own cancer survivorship to try and taze Bandes into submission,but in doing so, misses a better opportunity.  Everybody’s got a story, and when you rest your argument on one, you legitimize whatever sob story the right wants to dig up.  Since all the right really has are anecdotes and speculative fiction, this is a bad strategy.

In fact, she’s responding to an ad in which another cancer survivor does the same thing.  We could trade horror stories all day long, and it wouldn’t do a thing to illuminate this issue for people.

Hamsher misses the big kill here, as Jillian Bandes delivers the perfect setup.  When Shuster asks her who represents the “50 million uninsured,” Bandes torturously haggles him down to 20 million people.

20 million people?  Using the best math available to the right, generously granting all of Bandes’ assumptions, that is the best they can do?  Why didn’t Hamsher zero in on that?  Who is representing the at least twenty million people who cannot get health insurance?

That is the real shame in this.

She misses another chance, as well, to challenge the contradictory assumptions of the right.  They say that the public plan will be a deadly morass, yet they are convinced that private insurance companies will be unable to compete with it.  What sense does that make?  That’s like saying that cheap cans of shit will drive beef stew out of the market.  It’s nonsense.  Bandes also gets away without answering to the overwhelming public support for a government option.

There may be some grassroots opposition to the public option, but it seems to be coming from insurance companies and their best customers.  Take it with a grain of salt, then get your blood pressure checked, if you can.

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.

Healthcare Bill Without Public Option is Huge Giveaway to Insurance Companies

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The debate over the inclusion of a public option in the healthcare reform bill rages on, and while the White House has, again, reiterated the President’s support for a government-run option, they have not ruled out signing a bill without one.  Former HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle also supports a public option, but doesn’t want it to be a deal-breaker.

Tell that to the 76% of Americans who, in a recent poll, expressed support for a public option.  I wonder what that number would look like if the question included a mandate that all Americans purchase coverage, which the final bill amost certainly must.  Requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions only works if there’s a mandate.
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