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Boehner, SCOTUS and the ACA

Oops - make that 56 and 0

Oops – make that 56 and 0

My apologies if this is similar to yesterday’s post. The potential destruction of the ACA by an unelected body is an issue of monumental consequence.

There is about a month before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will be hearing arguments concerning whether or not a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act would render the very fabric of the law moot. Did Congress really mean to make the ACA only offer subsidies to states that had their own exchanges (note: Iowa does not)? Or was there simply an error in drafting the law that was not by congress? Even as major of an opponent of the ACA and one of the senators most involved in writing the law as our own Chuck Grassley said such a challenge is “ridiculous.”

So what happens if SCOTUS rules in favor of the challengers? Simply stated, millions of Americans (including around 40,000 Iowans) would lose their subsidy and thus health care would most likely be unaffordable. Therefore, the affordable part of ACA changes and most likely millions will need to drop their health care. Not sure what that would do to the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance. If the subsidy is not available, then is the requirement therefore no longer in effect except in states that have their own exchanges? That is one of the possibilities.

An almost certain effect will earlier deaths for those who will lose their insurance. Joan McCarter at dailykos took a brief look at what how many might be given an early death sentence should the SCOTUS decide to rule in favor of the challenge in this case. In her article she quotes the American Public Health Association estimates that as many as 10,000 will die early.

Not that this is any big deal to the right. In a editorial for the Washington Post, American Enterprise Institute(AEI) “scholar” Michael Strain claimed that more Americans dying is OK in service to achieving certain ends. That is the old “ends justify the means” argument that is a never ending controversy. Allowing people to suffer and die to achieve some undefinable goal of freedom seems like a strange concept.

With John Roberts having been the swing vote on the SCOTUS’ previous decisions on the ACA we may expect that he would once more be in that position once again. With the criticism he took last time over his decision to let at least part of the ACA to go into effect one might think Roberts would feel some need to make amends to the Republican base on the ACA with this decision. With this as a background it is not hard to feel very concerned when the SCOTUS hears this case in March and rules on it in June.

This is where John Boehner comes in. Boehner has led his chamber in some 56 assaults on the ACA without ever having any hope of success. He has continued his crusade while in place of doing any work on what he apparently believes are much lesser issues such as jobs, infrastructure, outrageous student loans, immigration and many other pressing issues. Should the SCOTUS rule that suddenly a major portion of the ACA is no longer valid, then it should fall into Boehner’s lap to lead his colleagues to deal with the problem.

As anyone who has followed Republicans (actually Tea Baggers) in congress recently knows that party is really split 3 ways. One of the issues they are split on is health care. Therefore Republicans have never articulated any plan to replace the ACA despite their constant attempts to get rid of it. Their focus is on killing the ACA only. The SCOTUS may fulfill Boehner’s fondest dream without him having to even getting his hands dirty. Since they have been preaching “repeal and replace” for years and with the SCOTUS doing the repeal portion for them, what will Republicans do to replace?

Since Joni Ernst used that trite phrase over and over in her campaign, I called her office for some enlightenment a couple of weeks ago. There is nothing being worked on.

It is looking more and more that if a portion is repealed then the emphasis will be on killing the rest of it as quickly as possible, not replacing anything. I expect that the replacement pieces they will offer will be the two old standbys that they have floated for decades:

1) limit awards in torts which they claim will lower liability insurance costs and thus lower charges to patients. This has been shown over and over again to be false. Here is one such study.

2) Allow people in one state to buy health insurance across state lines. What this will do is allow states with few regulations to sell essentially worthless policies for low prices. While there are some guarantees of payment in the ACA, those would no doubt be attacked through the court system also.

If the SCOTUS rules for the challenge in King vs. Burwell it could surely be a really bad day not just for poor Americans who will probably lose their health insurance, it will be a bad day for all Americans who will still be depending on a ridiculous insurance system to ameliorate medical costs.

Single payer, single payer single payer. I can’t say it enough.

Joni Ernst Co-Sponsors Repeal of The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced her co-sponsorship of S.339 to repeal the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” also known as ObamaCare. The Iowa Senator is among 47 original cosponsors to the bill, introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), which authorizes full repeal 180 days after enactment in order to allow a six-month window to replace ObamaCare with patient centered, affordable, quality solutions.

“Too many Iowa families and businesses have been hurt by the painful effects of ObamaCare – from rising costs, to losing access to doctors, to hampering businesses’ abilities to hire new employees. We must start over by repealing and replacing this disastrous law in order to craft and implement real solutions for affordable, patient centered alternatives,” said Senator Ernst.

Questions For Candidates In 2014

We have Questions

We have Questions

As we pass Independence Day and inch closer to the heavy political season (it never stops anymore) we need to get ready for the real job of a democracy. The past two years in particular have resulted in gridlock caused by Republican politicians at all levels. This is not what government is about. If those Republican politicians want our vote, they need to answer some questions. Here are some I would love to hear asked and answered honestly, especially by the four Republican candidates for the US House.

1) Do you agree with John Boehner’s action to sue the President?
– Will you join in the lawsuit if elected?
– What are the specific issues (be specific, not “he acts like a king”) for which Mr. Obama should be sued?
– Will you push for impeachment? On what specific grounds?

2) Do you support the SCOTUS ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius?
– If so, what other issues do you believe should be brought to the SCOTUS on religious grounds?
– Should discrimination against gays based on religious beliefs be allowed for closely held public businesses?

3) What specific legislation will you push to address the inequality in pay and conditions for women?
– Please cite Republican legislative action to address this issue in the past?

4) What specific action or legislation will you propose to address income inequality in this country. Please be ready to explain exactly how your proposal will directly affect the working class poor.

5) On immigration, particularly from Latin American countries. Some in your party have described such immigrants as “drug mules with cantaloupe calves.” Do you agree with this assessment?
– What is your proposal to practically deal with undocumented immigrants? What are the ramifications of your proposal?

6) The cost of college has skyrocketed while government support has fallen to all time lows. Thus the cost of college is out of reach for more and more Americans. Soon America will not have the human resources to maintain its lead in many economic categories. Does the cost of post-secondary education feel about right to you?
– Do you have a proposal to alleviate the crushing burden of debt for students? Please be specific on details and ramifications.

7) If elected will you support the House continuing to bring up legislation to end the ACA?
– If so, what would you propose to replace the ACA? Please be specific on coverage and on how the costs will be covered, especially for the poor.

8) Finally, many Republicans are coming to believe climate change is happening. What is your belief in this area?
– Please give specific documented sources for your supporting arguments.

That is a good start. I would really much rather know what an representative believes before I vote. Don’t you?

Health Care: More Games By The Insurance Companies

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President

The following is an email I sent to one person at Coventry who had been helpful in my getting coverage after finding that the so-called Silver Plan I had did not cover what I had been lead to believe it would:

First let me thank you once more for the help you gave me last month in getting coverage with Coventry.

Once I got covered I began to go to a provider that was told they were set up with Coventry for the ACA. I went for two visits. I was surprised, no shocked, to find a bill in the mail that I owed $150. After another two hours with various customer service people (being passed around like a skunk at a picnic), I was told that my provider was not “in network.” My provider had assured me that they were prior to my ever first going up there. They (the provider) was also quite surprised they were not “in network.”

I also had a lot of medical insurance jargon thrown at me. I had to stop people several time to explain I was not familiar with the insurance terms as I am an insurance outsider. How many of your customers would be familiar with the insiders terms and acronyms?

The outcome was that it was my fault because I had trusted the provider (who was misinformed) and I had not looked it up on a list of providers. This is the first time I had ever heard of a list of providers and the website it was on. They sure made me feel like an idiot not knowing information I never had a clue existed.

If there was real competition in this field I would be looking very hard right now. As it is I have no recourse. I have but 6 months to go to Medicare. Hopefully I can survive until then. I live in fear that if I do have an illness or injury I will fail some proscribed method that Coventry has set forth. Not having all the rules readily at hand all the time, I will no doubt assume that something logical would be the answer and it may not.

I have called my congressman’s office. I am fairly sure that this is not what they expected insurance companies to be doing with the ACA.


My provider was also shocked since they were told they were “in network.” The “in network” designation was supposed to mean that patients that were covered by Coventry could go to them for the stated “in network” costs. After a week of calls they found out that they were “in network” but not for my “plan.” There was a list of providers subsequently sent me that showed me that the “in network” providers for my plan mostly practice in Cedar Rapids, just 50 short miles away.

When I talked with the secretary at my provider’s office she told me that the Coventry person she talked with said the phones have been ringing off the wall with angry customers and bewildered providers. This sure seems like a bait and switch to me, but it would be hard to prove. From what I heard on the Stephanie Miller show from Jackie Sheckner, an expert who has been involved with the ACA from the beginning, every insurance company is doing this.

Once more insurance companies are thumbing their noses at us. While I back the ACA, there are some major problems with it. These problems will not be addressed let alone solved if Republicans are in charge of either house of Congress. We need Democrats to fix the ACA so it works. Better yet we need Democrats to do the right thing and make single payer health care the law of the land

Sunday Hodgepodge

Should this be The Permanent Democratic Platform?

from January 11,1944 but still fresh and still not fulfilled. When the next war ends…..

Seeing The Light
republican no longer supports them
note to Matt Schultz: It is just as true here as in Wisconsin!

In Memory Of Maggie Thatcher

The anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s death is about two weeks away. Last year I marked her death with about 50 playings of this song.

Here it is one more time for old time’s sake:

Fifth Anniversary Coming
Believe it or not it is nearly five years since the Varnum v. Brien decision. On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that gay people had as much right to marry who they love just as much as heterosexuals did under the equal protection clause of the Iowa constitution. Since then some of the justices lost their jobs by being voted out.

Those judges were then awarded (deservedly so, I believe) the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award. Iowa was the beginning for what has become yet another round of civil rights. Many other states have followed suit to the point where nearly half of the US states accepts same sex marriage. The Attorney General of Kentucky said the other day that there was no sense in him spending state money to defend the Kentucky anti-gay marriage amendment because it would lose in court.

Look What Scott Brown Ran Into Last Week

a big hat tip to EarlG at democraticunderground!

Note To My Democratic Friends:
RUN ON THE ACA. It is the largest advance in social legislation since Medicare and the civil rights legislation. It is not done, but it has

at long last started!

Thank You, Mr. Loebsack

Loebsack header
Loebsack Amendment: Don’t Mess with Medicare

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today offered an amendment to protect Iowa’s and our nation’s seniors. The amendment says don’t cut Medicare, don’t eliminate its guaranteed benefits and don’t turn it into a voucher program. Loebsack’s amendment, which was offered as the final amendment by the Democrats to strengthen the underlying bill, would help preserve and strengthen Medicare.

“I regularly meet with seniors across Iowa, and far too often I hear that many of them are struggling to make ends meet, just as I’m sure that many of my colleagues hear from their seniors as well. They tell me how much they rely on Medicare in order to stay healthy and just to afford their daily necessities. Our seniors did not get us into the fiscal mess we are in today and it is unfair to punish them for Washington’s irresponsible behavior.

“I grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet. I often talk about how I grew up in poverty and my mom was a single parent who struggled with mental illness. And literally in the fourth grade we landed at the doorstep of my maternal grandmother. My grandmother often relied on Social

Security survivor benefits to care for me and my siblings, and without the promise of health care through Medicare she would not have been able to afford to put food on the table.

“No senior, and I think all of us in this body can agree , no senior should have to choose between paying the bills or paying for their Medicare.

Mr. Speaker, Replacing Medicare with a voucher system would end the guarantee of health care and financial security for our seniors.”

Video of Loebsack speaking on his amendment can be seen here.

Medicare continues to be high on the hit list for Republicans to downsize or eliminate. They will also try to eliminate many other programs which are part of our society and are part of the pact between the government of the people and the people who agree to be governed. Republicans will not tell you this up front. They will couch their speeches in flowering language of freedom and liberty.

As President Franklin Roosevelt stated in his “Second Bill Of Rights” in 1944, “Necessitous men are not free men.” Taking away Social Security, Medicare and the ACA would once more make a large portion of our citizenry necessitous and no longer free.

Thank you once again, Congressman Loebsack.

Thank You, Obamacare!

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President

Since I had written a post telling of my fun with the insurance company I was trying to sign up with through the ACA, I thought I would follow up with a short update.
I now have a card and have actually been to a health care provider a couple of times. Like many I have some blood pressure problems. Nothing too dire, but needs attention. Since I will soon be eligible for Medicare, other tests and treatments can be delayed for a bit.

While the ACA has been a tremendous positive for America, based on my recent experience it is still a bit early to trust insurance companies to fully comply with the ACA. I have an option that others don’t have which is to wait for Medicare.

The ACA is definitely a step in the right direction. I remember full well the nights I would lay in bed trying to decide if that pain or this sensation was worth a trip to the doctor. Since my “insurance” at the time had a high deductible plus the old “pre-existing condition” clause, I could pretty much figure that every visit would be on my nickel. Since doctors post no fee schedules, I may as well as just given them my checkbook. It is not as if I could make a guess as to what the fees and other services might cost.

For five years or more I had to endure what may have been warning signs of a heart attack, sprained ankles, a shoulder that was so painful that I would cry and many various ailments just hoping and hoping it was nothing really serious. I am out of that hell now. Now thanks to President Obama, I do not have to lie in bed wondering if I am dying – wondering if I take a chance at bankruptcy to get treatment. I know I am far from alone with what I went through.

Of course I blame the Republican congress and Charles Grassley for the hell I went through unnecessarily. I saw the hearings and I read the stories.

Republicans and in particular Grassley were resolute in stopping bringing our health care system into the modern age. Not just during Obama’s presidency but since the presidency of FDR. For that reason alone I would never vote for any Republican.

What is really sad is that the power behind the Republican party is still fighting hard to return us to those dark days. And they are fighting hard to end Medicare and Medicaid. Why would I ever want someone who hates America’s citizens so much that they would bring back this form of personalized terror to our country.

I truly thank President Obama and Congressmen Loebsack and Braley and Senator Harkin for standing up for us. You can not imagine how much relief I feel every day knowing that if I have a medical problem I do not have to sit in fear and try to decide between dying or going bankrupt. It wasn’t funny folks, it was reality in my life and many, many others for a long time.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Congressman Loebsack. Thank You, Congressman Braley. Thank you, Senator Harkin. Believe me, it almost makes me cry to be covered for medical finally.

BUT – now we need to improve the ACA. Really, we need single payer. And we need the citizens to call for it. Loudly

Obama Meets Obama Impersonator

This is pretty awesome.

They Want To Control YOU!

Thank You, Mr. President

Thank You, Mr. President

Once more the CBO came out with what should have been good news for Americans. Once more the right wing of America threw up all over it, then proceeded to lie their asses off. Once again just like your little brother when you were younger, you just can’t take them anywhere or they will embarrass you no end. And yet some of your friends think he is really cute and do not care that he lies and cheats.

The CBO last week came out with a report stating that the ACA gives people more control over their own lives. Thus American businesses may no longer have that magical control over their workers lives that they so loved. Up until January 1st, 2014 for most people in the United States the only way they could get health care was through some form of group insurance through their jobs. Since having health insurance is literally one of the basics of life, this forced many folks into jobs. It also often forced folks to stay in jobs they hated because not having health insurance was a worse fate than staying in a job you hated.

This is of course a situation that employers really liked and could easily manipulate. The control of an employees health options and often those of their families gave employers a great situation to exploit. They could do such things as change working hours, cut hours, cut pay, cut benefits and many other things while holding workers hostage with health care benefits.

This is the essence of why the Republicans are so adamantly opposed to any health care reform that would give the individual some control of their own health. Health care is more than a bargaining chip for employers, it is a hostage holder. In most cases it is the Republican more specifically the Tea Party that represents employers. The Tea Party will do whatever to take down the ACA, including obstruction, lying and misrepresenting. This of course includes elected officials and the employers themselves.

So we get a piece of information from the CBO that is stated in a bit of a confusing manner. Trying to say that there will be less hours worked in a few years due to the ACA our corporate owned news media immediately misinterpreted the CBO statement. What the CBO meant and explained many times was that employees, now in control of their own health care, could choose voluntarily to cut back or leave employment. This does not fit the narrative that corporations and the Tea Party wants to project so they immediately put out their misinterpretation that jobs would be lost.

To admit the truth would be at the same time to admit that individuals could now control their own health care. Maybe employees could hop to another employer without worrying about losing health care, or just quit, or maybe just maybe start their own business. This last scenario would in the long run actually increase employment.

Holding employees hostage with health care has been a top tactic since the so-called Reagan revolution. Reagan did not lead a revolution. Instead he lead a retrenchment that put the rich more firmly in control than ever. Part of the strategy was to strangle information to the public via America’s corporate media. That has worked well, but the internet has provided another source for information. Still the right depends on their ability to control the framing of any issue using their hold on the corporate media.

Thus on the issue of health care, the right has put up their greatest fight ever. They have been able to stall and alter what I still believe will be the eventual answer: single-payer universal health care. They have delayed it so far and are once more throwing the bankroll at stopping it. But I believe their efforts will not only be futile but also fatal. Americans have gotten a whiff of what freedom to control their own health can be like. When they find out, they realize someone lied to them. One thing Americans don’t like is being lied to. So Americans will be anxious to know who lied to them, why they were lied to and what can they as controllers of the government really do.

That will be the revolution that is coming. Tea Partiers are on the wrong side of the dam trying to plug the leaks that are popping out all over. You and me? We are on the other side ready to drench them with truth. And when they get drenched they will realize they were never anything but stooges for those people up on the hill.