Sunday, July 1, 2012

Last Call

The Republicans have lost the ACA battle.  They know it, too.  My senator and GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell?  He's well aware the game is over now.

During an interview on Fox News, host Chris Wallace asked McConnell how Republicans who were promising to "repeal and replace" the law would make sure those 30 million Americans had access to health insurance.

"The single best thing we could do for the American health care system is to get rid of Obamacare," McConnell explained.

"You talk about repeal and replace, how would you provide universal coverage?" Wallace asked again.
"I'll get to it in a minute," McConnell chuckled. "We need to go step by step to replace it with more moderate reforms that will not be a 2,700-page Republican alternative."

"I just want to ask what specific steps are you going to do to provide universal coverage to the 30 million people who are uninsured?" Wallace pressed.

"That is not the issue," McConnell insisted.

"You don't think the 30 million people who are uninsured is an issue?" Wallace wondered.

"We're not going to turn the American health care system into a Western European system," the Kentucky Republican replied. "They want to have the federal government take over all of American health care."

No.  The only issue is getting rid of the black guy in the White House to Mitch.  If you're one of Kentucky's nearly 700,000 uninsured, you're not the issue to your senator.   You never were.  Mitch knows the game is over now.  And he's just admitted Kentucky's uninsured aren't the issue to him.  It's all about getting rid of Obama.  Greg Sargent points out just how massive this admission is.

It’s worth pointing out that this is basically Mitt Romney’s position, too. The Romney campaign has acknowledged that he would not replace Obamacare with across-the-board protections for people with preexisting conditions. And the New York Times recently took a look at the alternatives Romney has proposed, and concluded that they would deemphasize the goal of “reducing the ranks of the uninsured.”

So Kentucky uninsured (of which I was one of until six months ago):  why is this asshole still our senator?

Single Payer In 2009 Was Always Impossible

I've had my problems with Josh Marshall before, but he is 100% right about shooting down the nonsense that single payer health care had any hope of passing in 2009.  First, the delusional article that prompted his piece, from HuffPo's Dr. Marcia Angell:

On July 22, 2009, Obama said in a press conference, "Now, the truth is that unless you have what's called a single-payer system in which everybody is automatically covered, then you're probably not going to reach every single individual." Bingo. Too bad he didn't hang on to that insight, and use his rhetorical skills to make the case strongly to the American public. If he had fought for single-payer health care at the beginning of his administration, while he had both houses of Congress, and mobilized public opinion behind it, he might have made it. After all, the only thing members of Congress need more than industry money is votes.

Doctor, heal thyself.  You're suffering from Firebagger's Disease: blame Obama for not achieving the impossible.  Josh Marshall calmly explains why single payer was never a viable option at the time.

But this is a good moment to pierce the liberal delusion that single payer was out there for the taking — even possibly out there for the taking — had President Obama or any other president simply set his mind to it. After the ‘public option’ hit the brick wall that it did, it’s difficult to believe that anyone could really believe that single payer was even remotely possible. It was virtually impossible — with massive majorities in both houses — to push through a bill that left the mammoth health insurance industry intact and forced no one with their current private care plan to give what they know in exchange for something they don’t. So surely it would have been possible to push through a reform which essentially abolished the health insurance industry and forced big change on the overwhelming majority of the population who already has private coverage. To believe that you have to be totally submerged in the lethal progressive/liberal purism of loving defeat.

It’s proved incredibly hard to lasso this horse. So … fuck it, I’m just going to lasso a unicorn instead.

But it’s more than just that. Single payer supporters do themselves a disservice by imagining that the only or even the main obstacle to single payer is the money power of the health insurance industry. That’s obviously a big obstacle. It was a huge issue in 2009. But the biggest is the simple fact that the overwhelming majority of people, especially most people who vote, have health insurance coverage. And even though most don’t like it and hate their insurance companies, in most cases, they’re easily scared off by being told they’re going to lose what they know, lose access to their doctor and get something new that they don’t know. This is a fact. Anyone who’s ever tried to run a political campaign tied to health care reform will tell you this. I’ve been shown various polls showing support for fairly self-serving descriptions of single payer that are totally divorced from how the rhetoric would actually play in the political wild.

This is what I've been trying to tell people for years now.  People were not going to stand for losing their insurance.  To blame "Obama's oration skills" for the existence of resistance from the American people and his own party is ludicrous. If all it took was explaining to people why single payer was better, we would have had it long ago.

So now we have a law that needs fixing on the way towards something approaching single payer, yes.  Under the circumstances it was the best option we could have gotten.  How sustainable is it?  Depends on who you ask.  Dr. Angell believes our health care system will unravel more slowly, but will still unravel as more and more people refuse to buy insurance and pay the penalty instead, causing premiums to rise, causing more people to refuse to pay the premiums in a feedback circle that will crash the entire market.  Eventually, every criticism of the ACA gets to "And then insurance premiums skyrocket".

I've also noticed how practically every criticism that the ACA is doomed, from both the left and the right. also gets to "And it's all Obama's fault."    Dr. Angell's criticism is just like the rest in that respect.  It's tiresome to see people who might have otherwise good arguments always use it as an excuse and a platform to pound on the President for what Congress and the American people decided to do.  Instead of focusing on what needs to be done for the ACA, we're focusing on what couldn't have been done in 2009, refighting that battle over and over again to no avail.

Change the future then.  You can't change the past. 

It's So Hot...

The crowd: HOW HOT IS IT?

It's so hot our city buses are giving free rides to designated cooling areas, and people without air conditioning are pouring into those places.  Our ice rink and YMCA are packed with people who simply cannot tolerate the heat any longer, and cannot afford air conditioning or perhaps just the luxury of using it.  We tied the June record for an all-time high temperature, and July looks to be even worse.

We have issued warnings to drivers to watch out for exploding pavement, which can cause tire damage or wrecks on the highway, just depending on when and where they strike.  Always guaranteed to make a travel holiday exciting.

Burn bans are in effect because it's already so dry that fire could spread faster than we can control, and a major firework holiday is here.  I already know I'm staying in, away from the sirens and the smoke.  Of course, it's so hot that you would likely pass out during the celebration, which may mean some disasters resolve themselves.

Folks, please be careful.  Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke, and don't be a hero.  Watch the kids too, and check in on the elderly.  It could mean the difference between life and death.

The Fourth Rule Of Fight Club...

... is you keep it between adults.

In the video, titled "My nephew messed him up for picking on his home boy," two boys are seen kicking, punching and choking each other while an adult shooting the video eggs them on.
An adult voice in the video can be heard saying, "Get off the ground, Charlie." The video ends when a child breaks up the fight.
Classy, eh?  The adults are filming it and the other kid is the one with enough sense to stop things.  Epic fail.

Mandate Mania

Here's the truth about the insurance mandate folks.  If the entire ACA was in effect in 2011 (including the mandate), the percentage of Americans who would actually have faced the mandate penalty because

  • they were uninsured,
  • affordable insurance was available in their state,
  • they had too much income to qualify for subsidies,
  • they were under 65 and didn't qualify for Medicare,

...then the grand total of the percentage of Americans who would have to get insurance or face the mandate with no assistance from the government?

Two percent.

A recent study by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research center that focuses on economic and social policy, found that if the law had been fully implemented last year, 93 percent of the population under age 65 wouldn’t have faced a penalty or had to buy insurance under the mandate.

In fact, only 6 percent of Americans, about 18 million people, would have to “newly purchase” insurance under the law, the study found. And of this group, roughly 11 million would be eligible for subsidies to help buy their coverage from new insurance marketplaces, or “exchanges,” created by the law.

The remaining 7 million, about 2 percent of the total population and 3 percent of all Americans under age 65, wouldn’t receive any financial help and could face penalties for lacking coverage, said Linda Blumberg, a health economist and senior fellow in the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center.

This relatively thin sliver of Americans who’d be required to pay for full coverage belies the dominant public perception that the mandate would be a financial strain for wide swaths of the population.

“That was one of the reasons we wanted to do this study, because we felt like the real impact was being blow out of proportion,” said Blumberg, who was the lead researcher on the study.

Email that to everyone you know, folks.  93% of Americans would have been exempt, another 2% would have qualified for Medicaid, another 3% would have gotten subsidies to pay for insurance. This is a good bill, folks.  There are way too many lies out there about it.

This is the truth.  Share it.

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