Health Care Reform: Looking Grim, but Not Over

10 12 2009

It appears that the public option, a plan advocated by a majority of Americans, will no longer exist in the final version of the health care bill.  There seems to be consensus, however, that the age limit to qualify for Medicare will be lowered to 55.  There will also be (probably) an expansion of Medicaid as well as a half-assed attempt at covering people 300% under the poverty line.  In addition, there will be a collection of national private plans which will be “managed” by the Office of Personal Management.

It’s still early in the process, because the Senate and House may meet in committee to hash out the final details, so the news as it stands right now lacks any real specifics.  There is also talk of the House simply accepting what the Senate throws at them, a procedure called “ping-ponging.”

The most heartening aspect of this legislation, the lowering of Medicare’s age limit, seems to have progressives like Bernie Sanders somewhat excited.  This is because the public option that was originally on the table was so anemic to begin with, that there are elements, according to Sanders, which may actually be better.

We will see, won’t we?  And there is, too, this 800 pound elephant no one in Washington seems to want to notice: The Dirty Deadly Secret About Health Care Reform, an excellent diary by Daily Kos’ Turkana.

Here is Senator Bernie Sanders, along with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, on the Rachel Maddow show last night:

Congress is biting at the bit to finish this before Christmas break, so stay tuned as details out of D.C. will continue to emerge sooner rather than later.


‘Collapse’ is a Wake Up Call

16 11 2009

I admit it.  I was one of those people who flippantly dismissed the ‘Peak Oil’ crowd, those dogged army of researchers and activists who have been crying out for years that we have crossed the threshold of remaining oil reserves.  I stupidly thought of them as alarmists.  After seeing Michael Ruppert and Chris Smith’s riveting, eye-opening documentary ‘Collapse’, however, I’m changing my tune.

Some people might say that we couldn’t possibly be on the brink of societal collapse, that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as the peak oil crowd says it is–despite news reports like this and this, quoting an International Energy Agency whistle-blower who says “…the agency is responding to U.S. pressure to downplay how fast existing oilfields are being depleted while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.”

Couple the above news clipping with the reality that Saudi Arabia is now turning their oil extraction strategy to off-shore drilling, which is notoriously more expensive than land based drilling and inevitably requires more resources than what is ultimately yielded–not to mention conservatives here at home beating the drums for offshore drilling and the pillaging of A.N.W.R.–and it’s no longer a leap to assume that we ARE running out of oil.

Yet, maybe those nay-sayers are right.  Maybe we do have more years than the worst-case scenario says we do.  It still doesn’t negate the fact that we need to change our paradigm or way of thinking–even IF the industrialized world isn’t in dire straits yet, with a finite resource like oil, it’s only a matter of time.

Think about how dependent we are on oil for everything from food production to automobiles (and not just for vehicle propulsion–even those electric cars need oil to be built and shipped) and everything in between.  For all the miracles that industrialized civilization has performed, our Achilles heel is oil.  And there can be no question that it will be our downfall.  To paraphrase a scene from the film: Will you be the person on the Titanic who wants to build a lifeboat?  Or will you continue to deny that your ship is sinking?

Watch Collapse and then make up your mind.

Honoring Veterans Today

11 11 2009

I think President Obama’s speech at Fort Hood yesterday, honoring the fallen from last week’s tragedy, speaks volumes to the sacrifices our service men and women make for our country.  Thanks to all of you.

House Passes Health Care Reform Legislation

9 11 2009

On Saturday evening, the House of Representatives made history by passing the first serious attempt at broad-based health care reform in over a century, called H.R. 3962 :

The new legislation will expand Medicaid coverage to over 35 million more Americans (covering people with incomes 133% below the poverty line, or $14,404 annual income).

Many progressives, however, are extremely bitter about an amendment introduced to help get the bill passed, called the Stupak Amendment.  The Stupak Amendment, according to the New York Times, “would impose tight restrictions on abortions that could be offered through a new government-run insurance plan and through private insurance that is bought using government subsidies.”  It is seen by some as one of the biggest blows to women’s civil rights in over a generation.

Others conclude that there is much work to be done for health care reform’s future, but are content that H.R. 3962 provides a foundation to build on more comprehensive, meaningful reform including a stronger public option, which would serve as tougher competition against private insurance and bring down costs to consumers.

“A robust public option” and nothing less is what House progressives pledged to support, going so far as saying that they wouldn’t pass a bill without this.  It remains to be seen why they backed down on this pledge.

Below is a press conference held by House Democrats last night:

RMF will be following the public push back against the Stupak Amendment as the health care debate enters the Senate, and as always, feel free to check out our past work on this issue.  Stay tuned!

Rep. Alan Grayson Reads Off Numbers of People Who Will Die

6 11 2009

Representative Alan Grayson makes another splash.  Not long after making news by calling out Congressional Republicans for not backing health care reform, saying their only plan for Americans is to “die quickly,” the gutsy Florida Democrat landed another punch.  Taking a recent Harvard study which states that 44,780 Americans die every year because they don’t have health insurance, he then breaks down that number per Republican Congressional district and begins listing, per district, how many Americans are likely to die next year in each Republican district if there is no significant health care reform.

Here is his opening remarks plus the beginning of the list:

Flash forward to later in the speech, when the Republicans attempt to shut him down:

They fail, however.  To view the speech in its entirety, visit Rep. Grayson’s YouTube channel.  If you like what he’s doing so far, please consider donating too.  And to see what RMF has been contributing to the health care debate, visit this page.

Are Student Loan Companies Destroying Your Life?

4 11 2009

Is your life or a loved one’s life in turmoil because, despite your best efforts, you simply cannot make the payments companies like AES, Sallie Mae, etc. are demanding? It is estimated that one in four undergraduates will default on their loans in their lifetimes, and that unlike credit card debt, there are almost no consumer protections for people who fall behind in paying on their student loans–meanwhile loan company executives reap huge personal windfalls on the backs of the broken.

If you live in the Southern California area, Ramblin’ Man Films is looking for your story for an online video project. We want to hear from people who have put their best effort forward in trying to meet their obligation but cannot, due to unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment, disability, etc. make payments. If your story includes unfair, unethical or downright nasty behavior from these companies, we would certainly like to hear about it too. The only stipulation is that you must be located in Los Angeles!

Please send this appeal to as many people as you can. Visit for examples of our social issues work. We appreciate your time and consideration and hope that you’ll join us in starting a national dialogue on this underreported issue.

A Call to Action: Mobilize for Patients Not Profits

26 10 2009

In this video, Sam Pullen calls on people across the country to stand up for health care reform through non-violent civil disobedience in actions across America on October 28th, 2009. Sam was arrested at a sit-in in Los Angeles, CA on October 15th. He voluntarily remained in jail for five days in order to draw attention to abuses of the health insurance industry.  Following his brief statement is a short documentary on the civil disobedience in Los Angeles on October 15th.