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.


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.

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.

Billionaires for Wealthcare Strike Again

24 10 2009

The Billionaires struck again at America’s Health Insurance Plans’s state issues conference on Friday by serenading Republican pollster Bill MnInturff.  McInturff has done work on behalf of the health insurance lobby and was, most notably, a driving force behind the ‘Harry and Louise’ ads of 1994 during President Clinton’s ill-fated attempt at health care reform.  The Billionaires are a grassroots network of universal health care and public option proponents who pop up around the country to ‘sing the praises’ of for profit health care.  Check out this video for an appearance they made in Los Angeles during a health care rally outside of the Anthem Blue Cross office.

Patients Not Profit Sit-In

18 10 2009

12 people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience in front of Blue Cross Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. One of the organizers, Sam Pullen, 31, refused to give information to police, vowing to stay in jail until Blue Cross stops denying care to those who need it most.  For more information on how to get involved or to donate, visit Mobilize for Health Care.

“I Apologize to the Dead and Their Families…”

5 10 2009

Rep. Alan Grayson made waves last week for calling out Republicans’ lack of a true health care reform plan.  Many Congressional Republicans demanded an apology for his statement that the only plan the GOP has for Americans is to “Don’t get sick,” and failing that, “Die soon.”  Well, he issued an apology–just not the one the Grand Obstructionist Party wanted to hear: