Wednesday, February 02, 2011

More Lies About Health Care Reform

(This is a letter to the Editor of The Morning Sun)

Health care insurance companies are excited that Representative Dave Camp and his Republican colleagues voted to repeal the new Health Care law. This law tells insurance companies that they cannot deny coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, and they cannot impose lifetime limits on coverage. They also have to allow adult children to stay on their parents’ health plans up to age 26, and Medicare recipients can have a number of preventive and well-care services without being charged a deductible, co-pay, or coinsurance.

If you or a family member falls under any of these categories, Dave Camp and the insurance companies are glad to tell you that you will no longer be covered if they are successful in repealing health care reform. And now that the Senate has decided to debate repeal, there is the possibility that it might pass there too. 

As part of the insurance companies‘ efforts to rally the anti-reform troops, a document supposedly written by a judge in Texas is being re-circulated. The Judge was looking at HB 3200– the “Care Bill,“ and highlighted a number of sections that, frankly, look pretty scary. 

The folk who are circulating the document don’t want you to know that it is NOT the law that finally was approved. The document the Judge marked up was just a draft of the law that was obsolete by the summer of 2009. H.R. 3962 was the number of the bill that became law, and it was titled “Affordable Health Care for America Act.” 

The Better Business Bureau had a catchphrase to alert the public to shady business practices: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.“ When it comes to politics, the reverse is true: “If it sounds too bad to be true, it usually is.” The Judge and the folk who are circulating the latest batch of distortions prove the point.   

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Effects of Health Care Reform Are Now

There are a lot of distortions and outright lies floating around about health care reform. but President Obama's folk are working hard to get the word out that there are big changes happening right now. Read  the Patient's Bill of Rights–you can find a copy here–download it, and share it with your neighbors. 
Read more »

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Plato Got It Right: Politics Matter-A Thought for the Fourth of July

"The penalty good people pay for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse that them." Plato

Whether or not Plato actually wrote this is open to dispute, but the idea is true and relevant. Almost 250 years of our experiment in democracy have passed, and our country continues to write the book on whether or not the experiment will survive the next generation. 

I was one of the masses who ignored politics for most of the middle decades of my life. I was too busy, too indifferent, too laissez-faire about our political system to be involved with politics. The first decade of the 21st century was a wake-up call to action, however, and a time of revelation for me: everything is political. Laws that have been settled for decades can be overturned; social and civil understandings can be changed with the stroke of a pen. The origin of the word "idiot" was in ancient Athens, and referred to a person who did not take part of the political life of the city-state. Such a person was viewed as being dishonorable. I, like many of my fellow citizens, was acting like an idiot. 

This July 4th will see celebrations of the birth of our nation. Flags will be waved, bands will march, politicians will speak about patriotism and honoring veterans, and then, after the fireworks have ended, people will return to their homes and give little thought to what we are celebrating. Meanwhile, cynical politicians are playing to our fellow citizens' lack of historical perspective. Some religious leaders are happy to distort the intentions of our nation's founders, and they are benefiting from the animosity that ignorance generates. Our representatives, besieged by lobbyists, are corrupted by the influence of money in national elections. Racism, which has seldom been far below the surface, is alive and well. It pollutes our national dialogue and further divides the strata of society and cultures. 

We are going through a time of great testing of the American soul, and this celebration of our Declaration of Independence can be just another forgotten holiday, or, better, a time to look at ourselves as a nation and consider what we have become and what we wish to become. But change will not happen until we come to understand that we are a nation ruled by laws by common consent, and laws are written by our representatives who are elected by those who have actually taken the time to involve themselves in the political process. We must realize that if we truly want to make our nation better for all of our fellow citizens, we must, as a nation, stop acting like idiots. 

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

War and Memory

Memorial Day, 1970: I was soldier in Vietnam. By 1970, almost 48,000 American soldiers had been killed. Anti-war protests were wide-spread and growing in number as the protesters were attempting to wake up the nation and stop the war.

Memorial Day, 2010: 4404 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq; 1000 Americans have died in Afghanistan. And the nation sleeps.

This Memorial Day, politicians across the country will spout words about heroes, sacrifice, and patriotism, then return to their divisive partisan politics while the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan continues on its bloody way. This Memorial Day will be just another way for businesses to lure shoppers into their stores for “Memorial Day discounts.” Some will advertise discounts in “honor” of those who have given their lives. How does shopping “honor” a soldier? As soldiers in Afghanistan have said “We’re fighting a war while America is at the mall.”

The root of “memorial” means “memory,” and “preserving remembrance.” It is right and fitting that we celebrate those who fight, and have fought, for our nation. But if Memorial Day is only a momentary look at our past, then it is worth little. If the celebrations do not cause us to consider, and question, the actions of our government and how our soldiers are currently being used, then they mean no more than the smoke that disappears in the aftermath of an IED explosion.

“So,” you might ask, “what is the best way to support the troops?” Do what you can to first rouse yourself, then wake up our sleeping nation. Must we be fighting an endless war (as the Bush administration liked to call it)? How many more of our sons and daughters in uniform must die before, as in Vietnam, we say “enough” and withdraw our troops?

I believe the best way to support our troops is to bring them home. But whatever your answer might be, don’t forget them or their families now or after they come home. Coming home is hard. A soldier returning from a war zone faces tensions and conflicts as he or she tries to move back into civilian life. But the new veteran has to learn that there is no going back; war changes those who fight, and life changes those who wait for the soldier’s return.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Dave Camp Voted No On in Health Care Insurance Reform

Representative Dave Camp. The Dave Camp who voted for every budget, every unfunded "emergency appropriation" to support the war that George Bush asked for, the same Dave Camp who enabled Bush to leave a deficit for fiscal 2009 of  $1.4 trillion, yes, that Dave Camp was so upset about Obama increasing the deficit that he declared that health care reform was the wrong reform at the wrong time would cost too much.  
Here is what Dave Camp voted "no" on (courtesy of 
1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.2
2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.3
3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.4
4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.5
5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.6
6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.7
7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.8
8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.9
9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.10
10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.11

1. Final vote results on motion to concur in Senate amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, March 21, 2010
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Summary," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
4. "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed March 22, 2010
5. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Revenue Provisions," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
8. "New Jobs Through Better Health Care," Center for American Progress, January 8, 2010
9, 10. "Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill," The New York Times, March 22, 2010
11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Addressing Health and Health Care Disparities," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 20, 2010

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

GOP inciting and supporting hate


Just over a week ago, Tea Party protestors hurled racial and homophobic slurs and spat at members of Congress.1  That was followed by a rash of vandalism and death threats targeting Democratic members of Congress.2
Republicans have done almost nothing to tamp down this dangerous atmosphere and have even egged the protesters on. And when the Republican National Committee was asked to endorse a bi-partisan “civility” statement that would send a message to the protesters, they refused.3
It's time to demand that Republican leaders stop turning a blind eye to violence and hate before it gets out of control and someone gets hurt.  Please click below to add your voice, and please ask your friends and family to do the same:
Since the passage of health care reform last week, at least 10 members of Congress have received threats and requested additional police presence.4  Windows and doors were smashed at several representatives' offices, and a gas line was cut at what vandals thought was the house of Congressman Tom Perriello.5  One office had to be evacuated when it received a threatening letter filled with an unidentified white powder.6
Meanwhile, some Republicans have tried to justify the vandalism or blame Democrats for inviting it on themselves,7,8 and others have escalated their use of violent rhetoric. Sarah Palin told her supporters "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!", and published a map with cross-hairs over the districts of some Democrats who voted for health care reform.9  RNC Chairman Michael Steele said  "let's start getting Nancy [Pelosi] ready for the firing line this November."10
Last Saturday's protest and this week's past events are just the most recent example of the intolerance and hate coming from right-wing extremists this past year. At times it's been instigated by Republican leaders. When not, it's usually condoned and seen as part of a strategy to score politically. Either way, it's completely unacceptable and has to stop. 

1. "Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress," Huffington Post, 3-20-2010
2.  "MAP: A Guide To Recent Vandal Attacks On Democrats," TPM Muckraker, 03-24-10
3.  "RNC rejects joint 'civility' statement," Politico, 03-26-10
4.  "Democrats who voted for health care reform get police protection as threats turn ugly," NY Daily News, 03-24-10
5.  See reference 2.
6. "Anthony Weiner's Office Receives Threatening Letter Containing White Powder," CBS News, 03-25-09
7.  "Newt Gingrich: Democrats bear some responsibility for threats, anger over health care," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 03-25-10
8.  "Cantor: It's The Democrats Who Are Fanning The Flames of Violence (VIDEO)," TPM DC, 03-25-10
9. See reference 2.
10. "Steele: Let's Get Pelosi Ready For 'The Firing Line' In November (VIDEO)," TPM LiveWire, 03-24-10
11. "10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs And Extensive Photo Coverage From Tax Day Protests," Huffington Post, 4-16-09
12. See Reference 11.
13. "Tax Day Tea Parties Officially Endorsed By Republican Party," Huffington Post, 5-15-2009
14. "Steele: I'd join the tea parties," Politico, 1-15-10
15. "GOP govs plan Tea Party sequel," Politico, 5-12-2009
16. "Rep. David Scott's (D-Ga) office spray-painted with Swastika," Daily Kos, 8-11-2009
17. "Armed and Dangerous?" Talking Points Memo, 8-11-2009
18. "Tea party leader calls Obama a welfare thug," The Loop, 9-15-09
19. "Memo Reveals GOP Plan to Exploit Fear of Obama," AOL News, 3-4-2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Freedom Triumphant

This week has been a great week for the cause of freedom here in America.

More Americans will spend less just to be healthy - or alive. They will have the freedom to not only live, but to keep more of their hard-earned money (or spend it on something worthwhile - boosting another sector of our economy).

Because we will get to stay on our parents' insurance until age 26, more young Americans will have the liberty to get on a sound financial footing before we have to buy health insurance on our own.

Millions of Americans, bound by the chains of preexisting conditions, will no longer be bound by the additional chains of not having

Countless small businesses will see the freedom to save more of their money or hire more workers, as they will enjoy tax breaks and costs savings for health insurance plans.

There are so many other benefits to the new healthcare laws passed by Democrats in Congress and signed by President Obama. But they all center around one simple idea: You should not be punished for being sick.

While these laws aren't perfect, and while our union isn't perfect, this week we have taken some giant steps in forming a more perfect union. The idea of 'liberty and justice for all' - an ideal on which our founders formed our nation, and for which so many have died - is becoming more of a reality.

That is why I am pleased to dedicate this post, my 500th on Great Lakes, Great Times, Great Scott, to those who fought to make this reform the law of the land, and to all who fight for our country's ideals at home and abroad.