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Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Today’s Flickr Photo

On Fort Lauderdale beach in Florida. Flickr photo by ticktockdoc.

If you read one thing today . . .

Politico’s David Rogers sat down with outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and talked about the highlights of her term — passing health care legislation and financial reform.

“We came here to do a job, and we did the job. … Those two issues, Wall Street reform and health care, were two that changed the leverage for the American people. Whether you were a consumer or a patient, the leverage is now with you. And that, for me, is why I am a Democrat: to have the leverage to be with the average person.”

There’s some denial to be sure. In the course of an interview, Pelosi repeatedly spoke of her ranking Democrats as committee “chairmen” when they won’t be in the new Congress. Four years of restrictive rules on House debate seem a lost memory: “I’m thoroughly agnostic. If Republicans have a good idea, let’s go with it.”

And by her reckoning, little or nothing about November’s losses can be attributed to the enactment of health care reform.

“If we had never passed the bill, we would still have had these losses. We were told a year ago: ‘If you’re anywhere near 10 percent unemployment, there’s no chance you can hold the majority.’”

“Nothing compares — in anything I have ever done — with passing the health care bill.”

Overheard:

Someone should really do something about those damn environmentalists and their need to protect us from companies that want to pollute our air and water.  Have no fear, Rep.-elect Bill Flores (R-Texas) is here and he’s ready to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency. Think Progress has a snippet from his appearance on something called the Tea Party Internet Radio:

I can tell you the House as a whole, the Republicans in the House as a whole want to get the EPA shut down on these bunny trails that’s going down that are throwing people out of work — particularly the way it’s abusing Texas. And I think that Texas can count on getting some relief from the EPA within the first few months of this Congress because they really have gone overboard.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Flickr photo by philroeder

If you read one thing today . . .

Markos Moulitsas on the Daily Kos highlights some interesting exit polling from the midterm elections. More voters blamed Wall Street for our economic woes than either Barack Obama or George W. Bush. But among those who blamed Bush, 83 percent were Democrats and among those who blamed Obama, 91 percent were Republicans. No surprise there. What is puzzling, as Markos points out is that even though a lot of Republicans blamed Wall Street, it didn’t stop them from voting for GOP candidates who, by and large, push a pro-Wall Street agenda.

So why is that? It’s because people think there is no difference between the parties when it comes to the rich and powerful. And why should they? Obama’s finance team is essentially a branch office of Goldman Sachs and company. Treasury was more concerned with using HAMP as a way to protect the banks than help struggling homeowners stay in their homes. In a bizarre role reversal — the White House economic team tried to water down the finance reform bill that came out of Congress.

It’s not hard to see why people have gotten the sense that Democrats aren’t much better on Wall Street matters than Republicans (even if they are).

Overheard:

This whole new Wisconsin paradigm will take some getting used to. Red state? Wisconsin? Anyways, this once progressive bastion is now filled with legislators who want to tell the federal government where it can stick its socialized health care. Kevin Sack in the New York Times says the opposition to health care reform helped fuel the GOP rise in Wisconsin, as well as other states. Wisconsin’s Gov.-elect Scott Walker says that on his first day in office, he’ll tell the state’ s attorney general to join a multi-state suit challenging the constitutionality of Obama’s health care reform.

“I think the more free-market the better,” Mr. Walker, the Milwaukee County executive, said in an interview. “I think history has repeatedly shown the more the government gets involved the more it not only distorts the marketplace but the more likely it is to inflate costs.”

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On Tuesday, Public Citizen researchers published an article in PLoS Medicine about the safety of various medical devices. The authors of the article found that the FDA approval process does not adequately weed out ineffective and sometimes dangerous devices. From the press release issued Tuesday:

The weaknesses identified by the authors include:
• A lower approval standard for devices than for drugs;
• Lax interpretation of the requirements for the medical device approval process;
• A loophole that allows manufacturers of novel devices to circumvent the premarket approval process;
• Failure of the FDA to appropriately regulate many types of devices that were first marketed prior to the 1976 enactment of the current regulatory scheme; and
• A superfluous appeal mechanism that gives manufacturers a second go for approval after FDA has rejected a device.

The authors enumerated specific cases where FDA allowed dangerous products to be sent to market. In one particularly egregious instance, a device was approved by the FDA director after other FDA board members had expressed significant concerns about the device, the vagus nerve stimulator, which is supposed to treat severe depression. Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid considers the device to be of such questionable value that it refuses to reimburse for it.

In the words of one of the researchers, Dr. Sidney Wolfe,

“The FDA’s mission is to protect public health, but allowing questionably effective products onto the market is inconsistent with that mission.”

The article can be found in the latest issue of PLoS Medicine.

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There is only one solution to the twin problems of escalating health care costs and the epidemic of the uninsured: a Medicare-for-All, single payer system.

Unfortunately, the healthcare debate on Capitol Hill has evolved without serious consideration of the Medicare-for-All single payer health proposal. There are many reasons for this, but one is that many who actually support Medicare-for-All have claimed that the proposal is “not feasible.”

With the House leadership having settled on a single proposal, now is the time to set aside worries about feasibility. The House process is resolved. Members of Congress should have the opportunity to vote on the merits, up-or-down, on a Medicare-for-All single payer health proposal.

Whether they will have this chance is in the hands of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and is likely to be decided soon. Contact her right away to urge that the House be permitted to vote on a Medicare-for-All single payer health proposal. Call (202) 225-0100 or (as a second best alternative, submit comments on the Speaker’s web page).

Representative Anthony Weiner, D-New York, has proposed to introduce such a Medicare-for-All measure on the House floor in the form of an (more…)

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Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and filmmaker Michael Moore

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and filmmaker Michael Moore

We’re still recovering from yesterday’s visit from filmmaker Michael Moore. As we wrote earlier and posted on YouTube, Moore stopped by our offices to deliver a message to President Obama that it was time to hit the “reset button” on health care reform and back a single-payer plan that guarantees coverage for all Americans.

You can see video of what Moore said posted at his YouTube page. Coincidently, as Moore, Public Citizen President Robert Weissman and representatives from the National Organization for Women, United Steelworkers, California Nurses Association and Consumer Watchdog, stated the case for universal health care, the Senate Finance Committee was voting to keep a public insurance option out of the the health care legislation in front of the Senate. The WaPo’s Dana Milbank covered the committee hearing in his column.

Here’s some of the reaction from yesterday’s event: (more…)

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Medically bankrupt

Do we really need single-payer health insurance?

According to a new study issued by our friends at the Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School and Ohio State University, we really do.

Researchers looked at more than 2,000 of bankruptcy filings in 2007 and found that 62 percent of them were related to medical expenses. This means that someone suffered income loss due to their illness and/or the magnitude of their medical debts was too great to overcome. (more…)

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single payerApparently, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) didn’t realize the fight he was picking when he said single-payer health care was “off the table.”  Well, now he knows, and he’s admitted it was a mistake. He says he’s working to get charges dropped against the 13 single payer activists who disrupted congressional hearings on health care, and he’s apologised for excluding supporters.

Thanks Baucus, but apologies won’t help the 20,000 people who die each year because they lack health insurance, nor will they help the 62% of people who file for bankruptcy for medical reasons. (more…)

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