A big deal has been made out of Legislative Reconciliation as if this was some new form of government. It is not. Did you realize that since 1981 reconciliation has been used 21 times by various Presidents to pass their agenda. 16 out of 21 times it happened under a Republican President.
I lived through the 1960s. There were demonstrations and violence over the Vietnam War and Civil Rights. Draft age people opposed the war. They staged sit ins at various colleges. At the 1968 Democratic convention the Chicago police let loose and caused a riot injuring many protesters. On Civil Rights, black and white activists were killed for supporting racial equality. Ironically blacks in the north rioted in the streets and it can be argued that their motivation was more poverty than equality. The Vietnam War and Civil Rights took its toll on the nation. It was a fight literally over life and death. War and peace in our own country. The issues were clearly defined. You either were for or against it and you could clearly articulate your position. Not so with the health care bill. There has been so much misinformation that it would be a crime if someone were seriously hurt or killed over a lie or misconception. It is very important to our nation but it’s not worth threatening or killing someone over. My father used to say the only thing you might want to fight over is a lot of money. I amended that to a lot of money and beautiful women. Civil Right and the War in Vietnam produced its martyrs as any big history altering moment would. The threats and meanness might add Health Care to that list....and that would be a sin.
HEALTH CARE BILL OVERVIEW
There has been so much misinformation about this health care bill and this President (don't miss Saturday's Interview feature) that it is refreshing to finally see what is in the bill. This synopsis of the 2600 page bill was sent to us by our friend from the 2009 campaign trail Wil Toole. Toole regularly e mails the President and anyone who will listen with ideas and opinions. This breakdown should at least calm down the fears of what this bill will actually do.
1. Small businesses can immediately take advantage of a tax credit of up to 35% of premiums to help provide their employees coverage.
2. Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010 will receive a $250 rebate check this year.
3. All Medicare beneficiaries will receive free annual checkups and free preventive services and screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies.
4. All early retirees aged 55-64 can take advantage of a temporary re-insurance program to offset the cost of health claims for employers that provide health benefits for retirees.
5. Insurance companies are now prohibited from denying coverage or dropping individuals when they get sick or make a claim.
6. Children with pre-existing conditions will have access to coverage through the high-risk pools, and insurance companies can no longer drop coverage for children based on pre-existing conditions.
7. Insurance companies are now prohibited from placing lifetime caps on coverage.
8. Insurance companies are now prohibited from overly restrictive yearly caps on coverage.
9. All new private plans must provide free preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.
10. From now on, all consumers will have the opportunity to directly appeal insurance industry coverage decisions by their health insurance plan.
11. Insurance companies must spend at least 80% of your premium dollars on medical services, not CEO salaries, marketing or administrative services - and must send consumers rebates for any non-compliance.
12. Americans who are uninsured due to a pre-existing condition can immediately receive quality coverage.
13. Insurance companies must extend their parents’ health insurance coverage to young adults until they reach the age of 26 years of age.
14. Health insurance reform will invest in community health centers to allow them to nearly double the number of patients they see over the next five years.
15. Health insurance reform invests in new training programs for nurses, public health officials and primary care physicians to increase the number of care givers
16. Insurance companies are now prohibited from discriminating based on an individual’s salary.
You will likely see lower premiums, a result of lowered administrative costs and greater competition between insurance companies. You will have more options, more benefits, and more protections against insurance company abuses.
Health insurance reform eliminates the hidden tax your family currently pays due to uncompensated care from the uninsured. On average, that increases family premiums over $1,100 a year. Also, insurance companies now have limits on what they can require families to pay out-of-pocket in co-pays and deductibles -- and lifetime caps on benefits are prohibited.
Your family will be able to access the health insurance Exchange, where you can do a side-by-side comparison of all the different health care coverage options. This way you can easily find the best quality, least expensive choice which will inject much needed competition into the health care marketplace and bring down costs.
Children with pre-existing conditions WILL get health insurance coverage. If your child currently has coverage, the insurance company can’t deny them care. So if he or she has asthma, no insurance company can refuse to cover his or her inhaler. And if your child DOESN’T have insurance and gets denied because of a pre-existing condition, they can join the high-risk pool in their state. Those pools start within the next 90 days, so your child will have a number of options for quality, affordable coverage.
If you make less than $200,000 a year individually or less than $250,000 as a couple your taxes will not increase. If you are a family of four who makes $88,000, you will be eligible for tax credits to help pay for your premiums and slash our out-of-pocket costs for medical coverage.
IF YOU'RE ON MEDICARE
Guaranteed Medicare benefits will not be touched.
If you like your doctor, you can still see him/her. Or, you can see different doctors if you want to -- it's up to you. And you now have access to free annual checkups and free preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
Health insurance reform will lower your prescription drug costs by offering 50% discounts on brand-name and biologic drugs as well as reducing the prescription drug donut hole. Also, if you hit the donut hole this year, you can expect a $250 rebate check in the mail.
Additionally, reform cuts red tape by allowing your doctors, nurses, specialists, and primary care physicians to coordinate your care more effectively. This will help improve the quality of care, save money, reduce avoidable readmissions, and prevent hospital acquired infections that occur too much.
IF YOU HAVE NO HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE NOW
There are three ways health insurance reform helps you afford coverage:
1. Tax credits to help you afford it.
2. Bans insurance companies from price gouging you simply because you don’t currently have insurance or have a pre-existing condition.
3. Prohibits insurance companies from denying you coverage.
Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage because you have diabetes, cancer or any other pre-existing condition. In fact, if you have a pre-existing condition and are uninsured, you are immediately eligible for coverage.
If your employer doesn't provide insurance, you could be eligible for tax credits to help you buy quality, affordable coverage. If you buy your own individual insurance, your premiums are expected to drop anywhere from 14 to 20%. Additionally, you could take advantage of new tax credits that can help reduce your premiums by an average of 60%.
For the first time in American history, there is a limit on how much the insurance company can make you pay. In addition to historic protections against insurance company abuses, all insurance plans must have a simple appeals process to challenge coverage decisions by your insurance company. If you disagree with their decision, you can bring it before an independent appeals process.
IF YOU RETIRED EARLY
For too long, insurance companies were able to take advantage of early retirees because they were not employed and too young for Medicare. Health insurance reform prohibits outrageous age ratings for premiums. Now there are limits on these insurance company abuses! You could benefit from $5 billion in financial assistance to employers to help them provide early retiree coverage. This will make it easier for employers to provide early retirees coverage and will provide premium relief of up to $1,200 for every family. You will be able to access the Exchange where you can do a side-by-side comparison of all the different health care coverage options. This way you can easily find the best quality, least expensive choice which will inject much needed competition into the health care marketplace to bring down costs for you and your family.
IF YOU RECENTLY GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE
You are allowed to stay on your parents’ health care plan until you turn 26. This will help cover many of the one in three young adults who are uninsured. Under health insurance reform, you will always have access to quality, affordable health insurance choices regardless of how their lives change.
IF YOU HAVE CANCER, DIABETES, OR OTHER PREEXISTING CONDITION
Until now, insurance companies could deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, heart burn, pregnancy, or even acne! Even domestic violence was counted as a pre-existing condition in some instances.
However, insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny coverage based on a person’s medical history, including genetic information. In fact, if you have a pre-existing condition and are uninsured, you are immediately eligible for coverage in a brand new insurance pool.
IF YOU ARE A SERVICE MEMBER OR VETERAN
If you are eligible for VA health care, you will remain eligible. If you have TRI-CARE or TRICARE for Life, there is no provision in the legislation that would increase co-payments, deductibles, or change eligibility requirements.
If you have VA health care you add or change to private insurance from the new health care marketplace – the Exchange. If you are uninsured, you can purchase quality, affordable health insurance on the Exchange as well.
FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
For small business owners, health insurance reform provides tens of billions of dollars in tax credits that will help employers afford coverage for their employees. Additionally, employees can get tax credits to help them afford coverage.
Reform means more stability for small business owners, who will no longer be at risk of their insurance company raising premiums up to 200% because employees get sick, older, or because they hired a woman. If you employ 50 workers or less, you are exempt from all health insurance responsibility requirements. In fact, you are most likely eligible for tax credits of up to 35% of premiums to help you provide coverage to your employees.
BOTTOM LINE: REFORM HOLDS INSURANCE COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE
1. Insurance companies that spend too much on CEO salaries and marketing are required to send you a rebate check.
2. Insurance companies that engage in price gauging will be banned from offering plans in the Exchange.
3. Insurance companies must now be transparent and provide notice for all rate hikes, so you can easily shop around for less expensive coverage.
WHERE WAS NIXON?
The other day as I listened to President Obama recite the names of Presidents who fought for health care reform, I was dismayed to not hear him mention Richard Nixon's name. Even the late Ted Kennedy said his biggest legislative mistake was not embracing the Nixon proposal. I was glad to see that someone recognized Nixon's vision. Here an article Ben Stein wrote on the 37th President's role in health care reform. All eyes have been on Washington in the past year as the parties debated President Barack Obama's shifting versions of national health care. On Sunday night, after a highly questionable series of parliamentary maneuvers, President Obama signed into "law" his health care plan. With some considerable reason, he noted that health care for all is an idea whose time has come. (His plan still leaves more than 20 million not insured, but let that be.) And, with some justification, most of the media rejoiced that national health care had arrived for people with low incomes, with pre-existing conditions, without jobs, with impoverished employers.To call Barack Obama's response to the passage (however questionably executed ) of this bill "triumphalist" is like calling Mount Everest "tall."But among the glorying, there was little or no mention of my former boss, Richard M. Nixon, and this was a monstrous wrong, one of an innumerable number of wrongs directed at Mr. Nixon. The flat truth is that in February 1974, with the hounds of hell baying at him about Watergate, with a national trial by shortage under way after the Arab Oil Embargo, with the economy in extremely rocky shape, and with large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, Republican Richard M. Nixon submitted to Congress a national health care bill in many ways more comprehensive than what Mr. Obama achieved. Mr. Nixon's health care plan would have covered all employed people by giving combined state and federal subsidies to employers. It would have covered the poor and the unemployed by much larger subsidies. It would have encouraged health maintenance organizations. It would have banned exclusions for pre-existing conditions and not allowed limits on spending for each insured. I know a bit about this because I, your humble servant, as a 29-year-old speech writer, wrote the message to Congress sending up the bill.In many ways, the bill was far more "socialist" than what Mr. Obama has proposed. It certainly involved a far larger swath of state and federal government power over health care. Please remember that this was 36 years ago, when middle-class Americans still had some slight faith that government was on their side.My point is not whether or not Mr. Nixon's plan was better than Mr. Obama's. In fact, they have many points in common. My only point is that if you want to call someone a visionary, if you want to call someone compassionate, if you want to note that someone was a foe of inequality and a friend to mercy, think of Richard Nixon, with a host of problems of his own the likes of which Mr. Obama cannot imagine, reaching out to the poor and the uninsured to help. The plan, of course, was killed dead by the Democrats, led by Edward Kennedy, who later regretted what he had done. Still, attention must be paid to a prophet without honor in his own land.
JUST WHO'S LACKING?
The Times Leader reports that Northeastern Pennsylvania economic development leaders have long touted the region’s employee pool as hard working, skilled and possessing a strong work ethic. Those days may be gone. “Using that sales pitch might not work any more,” said Susan Spry, vice president for workforce development at Luzerne County Community College during a break in the Luzerne County Jobs Summit, held Thursday at the college. Concerns have been raised by area business leaders in recent years about the decline of the work ethic, according to Spry and others involved in the local economic development sector.
Maybe the work ethic has declined because workers are getting sick and tired of getting low paying jobs and being told it’s a good thing to have. Maybe the work ethic has declined because two families sometimes can’t even break $50,000 a year between mom and dad. Maybe the work ethic is declining because companies waltz in here with huge tax breaks and are gone at the drop of a hat. Maybe the work ethic has declined because workers have been through the mill on various companies that offer the same routine. They might work hard but that doesn't make them stupid. After hearing the same line for generations maybe it rings a bit hollow. And I think it is hysterical that when an impotent chamber can't bring in many jobs, they blame the work force.
How about that Henry Stubbs? You remember him. He was the animal that killed a young mother and her little girl in 2001. This brain trust said his defense attorney Al Flora blew his case. Anyway, his claim was denied and we could only hope he ends up like his victims. Stubbs was convicted of killing Elena Herring, 33, and her daughter, Viktoria Ivanova, inside their Stark Street. Herring was found raped and strangled, while Ivanova was found hanging from a board in the basement of the home. Calling Al Flora a bad defense attorney is just this coward’s way of justifying his sorry existence.
JESSE & SANDRA
You see Sandra Bullock? Then do you see who her husband Jesse James was stepping out with? WTF!
The 23rd Communist Party Conference is held in the Soviet Union; Leonid Brezhnev demands that U.S. troops leave Vietnam, and announces that Chinese-Soviet relations are not satisfying......The Labour Party under Harold Wilson wins the British General Election......in Pennsylvania State Senator Robert Casey charged that industrialist Milton Shapp was trying to buy the primary election. Shapp continues to spend heavily on TV as well as newspapers. Casey who has the Democratic endorsement charges that Shapp will be a tool for businessmen. Casey was annoyed that Shapp hired a political consultant from Massachusetts by the name of Joe Napolitan to come to Pennsylvania and direct his outsider campaign against his Party and its endorsed nominee. Napolitan was the first hired gun to come into the state and assume a high-visibility political role that I can recall. His success in managing the Shapp primary campaign earned him considerable national publicity. In retrospect, it may have been, in fact, the one political campaign more than any other of the era that gave birth to political consulting as a cottage industry across the country. The theme of Shapp’s Napolitan-directed campaign was ”Man Against the Machine.” Its heart and soul was a devastating 30-minute film of the same name which virtually saturated, at great personal expense to Milton Shapp, Pennsylvania television in the last days leading up to the primary balloting. Its producer was Joseph Guggenheim, a filmmaker of some renown. The film was part biographical, for Shapp was a virtual unknown to most Pennsylvanians. But the biggest impact of the film was political, however. It attacked the Democratic Party establishment as a closed corporation whose leadership was out of touch and unconcerned about the needs of real Pennsylvanians. The closing visual was particularly graphic. The Democrats had a party functionary Larry Rooney who performed a variety of mundane chores at party events. The day the Democratic State Committee met in private session to endorse (Lackawanna County State Senator) Bob Casey for Governor, Larry Rooney was the doorkeeper. Shapp’s television cameras were there to record the scene. They were not allowed in the proceedings themselves. So the film captured Larry Rooney closing the doors of the meeting room to Shapp’s cameras, and, by extension, the Pennsylvania electorate. Rooney may even had his hand up to the camera as the scene closed. The visual effect was devastating. The 30 minute documentary was played on all three local TV stations. Sometimes it was played back to back on the same station. You couldn't get away from it and with only three channels, Milton Shapp was everywhere......in Casey’s old Senatorial district Jim Haggerty, who lost a very close election to Joe McDade in the 1964 10th Congressional race appears to be on his way to garnering the Democratic nomination for the seat Casey vacated to run for Governor.....and 44 years ago in LuLac land and America the number 1 song was a song no one to this day has understood, “Elusive Butterfly” by Bob Lind.