According to the Huffington Post, the White House is denying a Wall Street Journal report that the President is considering a scaled-back health care reform plan that's much smaller than the one he proposed for tomorrow's summit with Democratic and GOP leaders. An administration official says that while a fallback option had been developed after the Massachusetts election defeat, the administration isn't considering it at the moment. I don't know what to think, but it's not very helpful having this information out there on the eve of the summit. The White House needs to get these leaks under control, and keep its overall messaging on point.
Magellan Strategies (R). 2/18. Likely Republican Primary Voters. MoE 4.1% (No trend lines)
Republican Senate primary
Rand Paul (R) 44
Trey Grayson (R) 23
We last polled Kentucky last August, and we had Grayson ahead 40-25. They are separate polls, with separate methodologies, so we can't determine trendlines. We'll be going back into Kentucky in the next couple of weeks to follow up. That said, Paul -- Ron Paul's son, and just as weird -- has certainly been firing on all cylinders, combining his father's feverish supporters with the teabagger crowd. It's a potent mix in a closed, southern-state primary.
The GOP establishment can't be happy about seeing their golden boy Grayson, Kentucky's Secretary of State, trailing against a fringe nut.
A fun moment on the House floor today as Republicans got their knickers in a bunch over Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-NY) declaration during a health reform debate that "the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of insurance companies." Watch.[...]
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Kristen Diane Parker, the hospital surgical tech who stole vials of the painkiller fentanyl intended for patients from the operating room of a Denver hospital, injected them and then filled and replaced the vials with saline solution, infecting some patients with the Hepatitis C virus, was sentenced today in federal court in Denver to 30 years in prison.
Last month, the judge rejected the 20 year plea agreement between Parker and the Government because he didn't think 20 years was enough, and offered to allow her to withdraw her guilty plea. She decided to stick with her plea.
Top political news stories tonight:#1: One million MoveOn.org members speak out for real health[...]
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LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL - Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance is about upholding and exercising[...]
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Reining in the health insurance industry really is bipartisan:
By a vote of 406-19, the House passed the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act (HR 4626), introduced by Reps. Tom Perriello (D-VA) and Betsy Markey (D-CO). This bill is designed to restore competition and transparency to the health insurance market ? by repealing the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. Under this legislation, health insurers will no longer be shielded from legal accountability for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, sabotaging their competitors in order to gain monopoly power, and other such anti-competitive practices.Pretty shocking to see so many Republicans vote against their insurance industry benefactors. They must be hoping that the insurance industry controls enough votes in the Senate to kill this bill. But, it is pretty amazing that so many hard-core GOPers didn't want to be seen as supporting protecting the insurers.
Co-author Rep. Tom Perreillo (D-VA) to Insurance Companies: "Be afraid, be very afraid..."
A positive step in the right direction:
By a vote of 406-19, the House passed the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act (HR 4626), introduced by Reps. Tom Perriello (D-VA) and Betsy Markey (D-CO). This bill is designed to restore competition and transparency to the health insurance market ? by repealing the blanket antitrust exemption afforded to health insurance companies by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. Under this legislation, health insurers will no longer be shielded from legal accountability for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves, sabotaging their competitors in order to gain monopoly power, and other such anti-competitive practices.
Over the last several years, the health insurance industry has become increasingly concentrated?giving consumers fewer and fewer meaningful choices in shopping for health insurance. According to a recent study by the AMA, there have been more than 400 mergers among health insurers in the past 14 years. [..]
This bill is also necessary because, over the years, health insurers have been able to use this antitrust exemption to block court actions regarding anti-competitive behavior. In Ocean State Physicians Health Plan, Inc. v Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the First Circuit Court ? citing the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption ? overturned a jury verdict against the dominant health insurer for using its monopoly power to put financial pressure on area employers to refuse to do business with a competing HMO.
There is also evidence that removing this antitrust exemption will result in lower prices and other benefits for consumers. Time and time again, increased competition results in lower prices, increased choice, and greater innovation. A healthy and competitive health insurance market will drive prices down in the health insurance industry, just as we have seen it do in so many other industries where competition is allowed to take hold. Since California passed a law in 1988 that eliminated the state antitrust exemption for the auto insurance industry, for instance, auto premiums for consumers in California have risen by 9.8% while the rest of the country has seen auto premiums rise by over 48%.
An incremental victory, to be sure, but a victory nonetheless. I like what Nancy Pelosi had to say:
The House of Representatives, Mr. Chairman, is called "The People?s House." Today, we live up to that name. By passing legislation that increases leverage for the people by changing the playing field, a playing field that has been dominated by the insurance industry for over 65 years and now it?s the people?s turn. The insurance companies will now be playing on the people?s field.
Rep. Anthony Weiner had the money quote, however, as captured by Think Progress:
You guys have chutzpah. The Republican Party is the wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. They say this isn?t going to do enough, but when we propose an alternative to provide competition, they?re against it. They say we want to strengthen state insurance commissioners and they?ll do the job. But when we did that in our national health care bill, they said we?re against it. They said we want to have competition but when we proposed requiring competition they?re against it. They?re a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. That?s the fact!
You know, I really and truly planned to skip the spring fundraiser, because you guys are terrific and I appreciate you each and every one immensely, and whenever I have had a need, you guys have stepped up and helped me out.
For the first three years that I blogged, I didn't even have a donation button, and when readers would contact me asking how to make a donation, I would demure, suggesting that the person who offered make a donation to the ACLU instead, and I planned to return to that "M.O." this spring and raise a few bucks for Dr. Paul Farmer's Partners in Health.
Then I had a minor health problem that required surgery to correct the problem that was becoming chronic.
Here is where I count my blessings.
I am not passing the hat because I have a huge balance that I am responsible for, I don't have a premium that is being jacked up, I didn't get a letter in the mail telling me that the procedure won't, on second thought, be covered after all. I don't have any of the woes and worries that would accompany surgery if I didn't have that nightmare government-provided single-payer healthcare that the republicans are determined to spare you the horrors of. No, all I had to do was show up for the procedure, fill my prescriptions afterward and get better.
I don't have to worry about healthcare bills that will be hitting the end of the month, and even though I was under the weather pretty much non-stop from just after Thanksgiving until two weeks ago, I am not struggling with the household bills, either. The kitchen is overflowing with nutritious and healthy foods, the roof over my head isn't exactly paid for, but the monthly nut is up to date, all the monthly bills are paid...I am immensely appreceiative of the fact that on the global scale, I am an extremely wealthy woman, in every sense of the world, and I count those of you reading this as assets on my balance sheet.
All that said, it is time to pay the hosting bills, especially to Soapblox, who actually wanted to be paid a couple of months ago. It costs about fifteen hundred bucks a year to keep the lights on around here, and ads bring in about five hundred of it. That leaves about a grand to make up. I have been planning since last fall, when we passed the hat to renew all of the subscriptions to publicantions like Foreign Policy and Congressional Quarterly and The Wall Street Journal and The Economist that give us full access to the web sites that we need to be able to access to be at least somewhat serious contenders in this blogging game.
However, being under the weather pretty much non-stop since December has kept me from working shifts and making the extra money to cover the blog bills on my own as planned - so I propose that we split the difference...Of the thousand dollars needed, I am good for half of it, and I am looking for the rest of it in small ($25 or under) donations, and I want you to share with some other worthy entity. If you have ten bucks to give, I want, at the most, five of it.
Thanks, everyone. You all are the best audience on the entire interwebs, and y'all are on the top of the list every time I count my blessings.
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Any expansion in marriage equality is welcome news--and today's welcome news comes from Maryland, where Democratic Attorney General has opined that same-sex marriages performed elsewhere shall be recognized in valid:
UPDATE 2:50 P.M.: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) says effective immediately the state recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and state agencies should begin giving gay couples the rights they were awarded elsewhere.
UPDATE 10:25 a.m.: Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), who requested the opinion from Gansler, said in a brief interview that he was unsure whether there would be any immediate ramifications.
"It's reaffirmation of what we thought, that Maryland can recognize gay marriage," Madaleno said.
He said that changes in state policy could result from a court ruling, legislation or administrative action.
Note that this opinion does not make it legal to form same-sex marriages in Maryland--but same-sex couples who get married legally in other states will now have legal rights upon residence in Maryland. At this very moment, Pat Robertson is likely praying constantly for Maryland to experience a subterranean volcano that sends it into the Chesapeake, because that's how much he loves America.