Seems a government-run plan can co-exist with private plans.
More than 160 million workers and family members now get health insurance through an employer. A widely cited study by the Lewin Group, a private health research firm, estimated that more than 100 million people would sign up for the public plan proposed by House Democrats, making it the dominant insurer in the land....
CBO estimates that only 11 million to 12 million people would sign up for the public plan ? making it a much smaller player in the market. The government coverage would be available alongside private plans through a new kind of insurance purchasing pool called an exchange. CBO estimated about 6 million of those enrolled in the public plan would be workers and family members of employers that joined the exchange.
Following a pattern of civil resistance in Washington D.C. and around the country, citizens in Des Moines Iowa on Monday risked arrest to press for the creation of single-payer healthcare, the establishment of healthcare as a human right, and an end to the deadly practices of Iowa's largest health insurance company, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Dr. Margaret Flowers, who has herself gone to jail for single-payer in our nation's capital, was on hand to speak in Des Moines. She called me with this report. Nearly a month earlier, on June 19, 2009, Des Moines Catholic Workers had delivered a letter (PDF) to Wellmark addressed to its CEO John Forsyth requesting disclosure of Wellmark's profits, salaries, benefits, denials and restrictions on care. The letter had not been acknowledged by Monday, and the Catholic Workers and their allies decided to take action again.
Thirty people arrived in the Wellmark lobby in Des Moines and asked to see Forsyth or any of the members of the board of directors or the operating officers. They were told that none were available, and instead the police arrived. Nine of the 30 refused to leave and were arrested. Flowers did not yet know what the charges will be but suspected trespassing. The nine latest supporters of single-payer to go to jail for justice are:
Mona Shaw, Renee Espeland, Frankie Hughes (age 11), and Frank Cordaro, all from Des Moines Catholic Workers; Leonard Simmons from Massachusetts; Robert Cook; Eddie Blomer from Des Moines; Kirk Brown from Des Moines; and Chris Gaunt from Grinnell, Iowa.
These nine and others like them around the country represent, I think, the incredible potential to energize the American public on behalf of a struggle for the basic human right of healthcare, a potential being blocked by the work of activist organizations that reach out from Washington to tell the public that single-payer is not possible, rather than reaching into Washington from outside to tell our public servants what we demand.
Here's a blog from Digby acknowledging the reduction of the public option from where it started to next-to-nothing. It's not clear whether Digby thinks it would have been smarter to start with single-payer, in order to end up with a better compromise than what you get by initially proposing the weakest plan you'll settle for. But Digby argues that proposing single-payer from the start would not have given single-payer itself any chance of succeeding, and this is proven -- Digby says -- from the fact that the public option is having such a hard time succeeding.
I can't prove this is wrong. Everything Digby writes is smart and to the point. But this does omit an important factor or two. Namely: single-payer turns an obscure wonkish policy mush into a clear and comprehensible civil rights issue. Even with it blacked out and shunned by the White House and astroturfing activist groups, single-payer still has people sacrificing and going to jail for it. Nobody goes to jail for a public option.* Nobody even knows what it is. Nobody will even know whether they got it if a bill is passed until experts debate the point for them -- at which point it's too late. Making healthcare a right rather than a legislative policy energizes people, and that potential has hardly been tapped and should not be written out of consideration.
Even defenders of a public option depict it as a step toward single-payer, while missing the potential of single-payer activism in the short term to improve the public option. So, all agree that in the long run a movement for single-payer is needed. It can begin with phone calls this week in support of these measures and with a massive presence on July 30 in Washington, D.C.
Image shows a previous protest at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield by Des Moines Catholic Workers.
* Note: Joe Szakos of Virginia Organizing Project went to jail this week for a public option, but nobody he'd organized went with him. His action, like that in Iowa, was protesting an insurance company, an entity that would be eliminated only by single-payer.
The Progressive Movement is busy being born.
The Conservative Movement is busy dying.
New media is busy being born.
Old media is busy dying.
Multicultural America is busy being born.
Racist America is busy dying.
Why are they howling and screeching with such fear and fury?
Because they?re dying.
And they know it.
People power is busy being born. Corporate power is busy dying. It's not dead yet. But it will be. Terminal Greed Syndrome will kill it. Dr. Geithner and Dr. Bernanke pumped $10 trillion of morphine into it to ease the pain, but that's not a cure, that won?t save it, it will only delay the inevitable.
People power is being born in Burma . . .
That birth has been painful, but democracy in Burma is being born, and the junta is busy dying.
People power is being born in Iran . . .
That birth has been painful, but democracy in Iran is being born, and the Khamenei regime is busy dying.
People power is being born in America. Obama drew crowds of 100,000 during the campaign. Two million people attended his Inauguration. We all know he?s broken too many promises, we all know he?s caved to the right on too many issues, but this isn?t about him, it?s about us. Our future isn?t in his hands, it?s in our hands.
What was accomplished during the first six months of the Renaissance? Not much. But a new and better world was born in the years that followed.
What was accomplished during the first six months of the Age of Enlightenment? Not much. But a new and better world was born in the years that followed.
Keep that perspective. Don?t let setbacks and betrayals get you down. The ideals we all believe in are busy being born. The old world, the world of oppression is dying. It will fight to survive, but it will only survive this new century if we let it survive.
A new and better world is being born, for the warriors whose strength is not to fight, for the refugees on their unarmed road of flight, for each and every underdog soldier in the night.
A new and better world is being born, for the rebel, for the raked, for the luckless, the abandoned and forsaked, for all the outcasts burning constantly at stake.
A new and better world is being born, for the searching ones on their speechless, secret trail, for the lonesome, haunted lovers with too personal a tale, for each unharmful gentle soul locked up inside a jail.
A new world is being born, for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed, for the countless, confused, accused, misused strung out ones and worse, for everyone who shares our Dream, in the whole wide universe.
Let us rise up with a greater readiness.
Let us stand with a greater determination.
And let us move on in these powerful days,
These days of challenge,
To make the world what it ought to be.
Happy Monday and welcome to the Dog?s on going letter writing campaign for accountability and the rule of law for the apparent Bush Era torture programs. The premise of this campaign is the Dog will write a letter to one of the key decision makers (with carbon copies to others) and provide the links to reach these worthies. Your job, gentle reader, is to either use the letter as a jumping off point for your own letter, or just cut and paste the letter and send it off under your own signature.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
The intent here is to keep a constant level of incoming pressure about this issue on the people who can move the issue forward. It is an important thing to do as there are many other issues which are getting a higher priority right now. This campaign will remind our leaders that while they can work on other things, this issue is not going away, at least if we the people have anything to say about it.
This week we will be writing to the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, with carbon copies to Sen. Leahy (Sen. Judiciary Chair), Rep. Ike Skelton and Sen. Carl Levin, the respective chairs of the Armed Services Committees and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Dear Chairman Conyers;
I write you today as a citizen gravely concerned with the lack of action on the Bush Administrations apparent State Sponsored Torture program. Our nation was founded on the premise that none would be above the reach of the law, for it is only in the evenhanded and impartial application of the law it becomes clear all citizens are equal in a democracy. While Attorney General holder ponders whether he will follow the International Conventions Against Torture and the Federal anti-torture statutes, there is still important work for your committee in this regard.
The world is aware of the fact the Untied States has waterbaorded at least three of our prisoners. Waterboarding is and for more than 60 year has been universally considered to be torture. You, Mr. Chairman, have it within your prevue to begin impeachment procedures against one of the primary authors of the Bush Administrations torture justifications, Federal Judge Jay Bybee. I believe this to be a needed step, both for our reliance on the rule of law as a pillar of our Republic and for the safety of our nations soldiers.
Given the presidents policy on Afghanistan, there can be no doubt we will having a significant number of soldiers in the field for the next few years. One of the ways we have always protected our fighting men and women in times of war has been our insistence of the fair treatment of prisoners we have captured. While this is not always a guarantee of proper treatment, the example of the United States has surely prevented some mistreatment.
Now that it is common knowledge we have, in at least some cases, abandoned this policy, there is a far greater chance any of our soldiers captured in fighting with the Taliban or Al Qaeda will be tortured under a tit-for-tat thinking.
You can take action to prevent this. By showing the world we are serious about our intolerance of torture for any reason you would go far to repairing the damage to our moral authority on world wide on this issue. You have it within your power to start a serious and open investigation into the involvement of the Department of Justice in shaping and empowering the torture of prisoners. As a citizen who believes his nation is better than this, I am asking you to being the process immediately.
Representative Conyers, this is the right thing to do. Just as it was the right thing to employ Rosa Parks in your Detroit office all those years, out of respect for her actions in the Civil Rights fight, this is the right thing to do now. You are nearing the end of your distinguished career in the Congress; please don?t let the final chapter be about what you failed to do.
Senate Judiciary Chair, Patrick Leahy
House Armed Services Chair, Ike Skelton
Senate Armed Services Chair, Carl Levin
Attorney General Eric Holder
There is the letter, now for some links:
Rep John Conyers - Judiciary Committee Chair
Rep. Ike Skelton
Use zip code 65109-2429 to get past Chairman Skelton?s filter
Sen. Carl Levin
Department of Justice, attention AG Holder - AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
Now it is all up to you. If you are pissed off about torture, then act. If you are sickened that your nation won?t follow its law, then act. If you want to be sure you will not be tortured, then act. If you care in any way shape or form about the Rule of Law, the United States of America or basic human decency, then you must act! The Dog has made it as easy as he possibly can, please, act today for accountability for torture.
They’re not that bad, say a pair of new studies—paid for by a Canadian region heavily invested in oil sands.
It was one year ago that the environmental scientist showed up at Fred Slowman’s door, deep in the heart of Navajo country, and warned that it was unsafe for him to stay there.
The Slowman home, the same one-level cinderblock structure his family had lived in for nearly a half-century, was contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of uranium from the days of the cold war, when hundreds of uranium mines dotted the vast tribal land known as the Navajo Nation. The scientist advised Mr. Slowman, his wife and their two sons to move out until their home could be rebuilt.
"I was angry," Mr. Slowman said. "I guess it was here all this time, and we never knew."
Washington hopes Iran will respond to overtures on its nuclear drive by September, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday amid a US push to jumpstart stalled Middle East peacemaking.
The Department of Homeland Security relied on a rushed, flawed study to justify its decision to locate a $700 million research facility for highly infectious pathogens in a tornado-prone section of Kansas, according to a government report.
The department's analysis was not "scientifically defensible" in concluding that it could safely handle dangerous animal diseases in Kansas -- or any other location on the U.S. mainland, according to a Government Accountability Office draft report obtained by The Washington Post. The GAO said DHS greatly underestimated the chance of accidental release and major contamination from such research, which has been conducted only on a remote island off the United States.
It looks like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may have one less fan.
On the same day that Palin is set to transfer power to her lieutenant governor, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said her prospects for national office looked grim.
On the national political stage, Castellanos, who worked as a political consultant for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential bid, likened Palin to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
-- Steve Singiser
Max and Wanda have great health insurance that we pay for but he opposes health insurance for us
An invitation to a "barbecue & hoedown" at the Sieben Ranch north of Helena from Max Baucus reminded me I need to call Baucus today. He wouldn't come to the phone, of course, but when I asked his assistant if he'd be willing, like Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, to give up his summer recess to stay in Washington to address the health care crisis, she said that even if there's a recess Baucus would still be working on the issue.
It's important to him. As head of the Senate Finance Committee, he's in a position to raise an awful lot of corporate loot-- and he does-- and not just at barbecues and hoedowns near Helena. Look at the list of the dozen largest sources of his campaign funds.
No one serving in the Senate today has taken as much money from the Medical-Industrial Complex as Baucus ($2,865,881) other than notorious corporate whore Arlen Specter ($4,066,433) and two former presidential candidates, John Kerry ($8,163,141) and John McCain ($8,672,260). Baucus even tops Medical Industry shill Mitch McConnell ($2,755,468). And when it comes to the Financial Sector-- the banksters, Big Insurance and Big Real Estate-- Baucus was also on the payroll in a major way. His $4,675,393 in donations put him in the Top 10, with corporate whores like Mitch McConnell, Alexander Lamar, Arlen Specter, Joe Lieberman, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Chuck Schumer... basically the folks who oversaw the economic legislation that dragged the economy right over the cliff.
Yes, yes, Max Baucus will work diligently over the recess-- with his Republican allies to kill real health care reform. Max Baucus, Wanda Baucus and Zeno Baucus are very well-taken care of by the taxpayers of this country, with platinum-plated health insurance that we pay for. Max and Wanda and Zeno should have the same health insurance that the rest of us has and the same opportunities to understand how private health care functions that the rest of us has before he legislates on it. According to a report from TPM this evening, Baucus is reporting that he will do exactly what his campaign donor Insurance Industry CEOs asked him to do: destroy the public option.
Just now some poor woman from the DSCC called soliciting money from me to help elect more Democrats so they could complete the work that we started by electing president Obama and enact the policies Americans care about most. I asked her what those policies were. She seemed stunned by eventually she said "health care." I asked her how many Democrats were in the Senate. She didn't know. I asked her if she knew who Max Baucus is. She didn't. I asked for her supervisor. He said he'd pass my misgivings along... to someone. If you hear from the DSCC let them know why you won't be donating to their scam.
video details and more
Tonight's must read: Baucus' confessional, I'm Such A Shitty Senator.
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Last Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) joined radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his radio talk show for an interview. Jones has made a name for himself propagating conspiracies ranging from the claim that Bill Clinton planned the Oklahoma City bombings to the idea that the attacks on 9/11 were orchestrated by a cabal of American and Israeli government officials.
During the 30-minute interview about “nation ending stuff,” Gohmert used his opportunity on the Jones show to showcase his own odd anti-Obama conspiracy theories:
GOHMERT: We’ve been battling this socialist health care, the nationalization of health care, that is going to absolutely kill senior citizens. They’ll put them on lists and force them to die early because they won’t get the treatment as early as they need. [...] I would rather stop this socialization of health care because once the government pays for your health care, they have every right to tell you what you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, where you live. [...] But if we’re going to pay 700 million dollars like we voted last Friday to put condoms on wild horses, and I know it just says an un-permanent enhanced contraception whatever the heck that is. I guess it follows that they’re eventually get around to doing it to us.
The outrageous claim that a public option in health care will kill people is becoming a popular meme within the GOP caucus, used also by members such as Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). But not to be outdone, Jones offered the congressman his own set of conspiracy theories and outlandish statements, many of which Gohmert agreed with:
JONES: Did you hear about the WH science czar calling for putting stuff in the water to sterilize us?
GOHMET: No, I had not heard that. [...]
GOHMERT: People are always willing to give up their liberty to get economic stability.
JONES: Look at Hitler.
GOHMERT: Absolutely. Boy that’s the best example, maybe the best example. [?]
JONES: As the Time magazine headline said, we’ve almost got national health care. They’ve almost got eugenics control grid over us. Can you speak to your website, how we help you. In closing, the youth brigades, national service compulsory in a group outside the military under the Democratic party control in the city year in the red and black uniforms? [...] In closing, and we?re going to let you go sir, the youth brigades, national compulsory service, the Democrats have introduced those bills. Your take on that?
GOHMERT: Well you just referred to that point in history where this stuff has been done before. It was done in the 1930s and its not the only place its been done. It has been done throughout history.
JONES: Mao did it.
GOHMERT: Well that’s exactly what I was thinking of. This is the kind of the thing we got to stop. We got to get back to the roots, the basics.
While swapping conspiracy theories, the two also traded compliments. “That shows how on top of things you are, Alex,” said Gohmert at one point, praising the talk show’s knowledge. Jones also thanked Gohmert many times and reminded him that “you’re there fighting and we’re supporting you.”
Despite his outlandish views, Jones’ influence can not be underestimated. Richard Poplawski, the young man who gunned down three Pittsburgh police officers earlier this year after professing a fear that the government would confiscate his guns, was a die-hard fan of Jones. Jones, who rants daily about Obama’s intentions to revoke the 2nd amendment, is also one of the loudest voices for the “birther movement.”
The World will warm faster than predicted in next five years reports The Guardian. "The world faces a new period of record-breaking temperatures as the sun's activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists had[...]
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I read Cheryl Wagner's essay and, like her book, it reminded me of the unbelievable resilience demonstrated again and again by New Orleans people. Her final paragraph of her book, though somewhat confusing when quoted out of context, is a haunting reflection of so many here:
Was I going to tell someone? Was I going to remind them? Was I going to write it down? Yes, I said. Yes and yes and yes. Hopefully it would help.
My faculty appointment is through the School of Social Work, though I am a trauma psychologist. I am treated to being around social work educators who, throughout their courses, lessons plans, and supervising, who train the next generation of social workers to care about social justice, the rights of everyone, and understand the multiplicity of people, families, cultures, and City.
Cheryl's essay and book are about survival in the face of catastrophe, the worse disaster in US history. As someone who has studied disasters for more than 30 years, I would like to make two observations: (1) New Orleanians underestimates the long-term and cumulative strain caused by the Storm and Levy Failures and (2) Telling your trauma story is important either because you are uncomfortably bothered by your trauma memories or you want to learn as much as possible about the past. However, telling it too soon or against your better judgment is unwise.
A recent study by my colleagues here at Tulane, Sandeep Gautam and Jonathan Menachem, of the School of Medicine and three others (Sudesh K Srivastav, Patrice Delafontaine, and Anand Irimpen), found some disturbing evidence of the long-term effects of Katrina.
As most everyone in the world recalls, New Orleans was hit by Hurricane Katrina at the end of August, 2005. It was and remains the biggest natural disaster in the United States in large part because of the failure of the Federal levy system that flooded most of the city and beyond. The flood waters remained for several weeks. The result of near total devastation in large sections of New Orleans, one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the US.
Professor Gautam and his team were aware that previous studies have shown an increase in heart attacks -- acute myocardial infarction (AMI)-- in the immediate hours to weeks after natural disasters. Given the extraordinary and long-lasting devastation ushered in by Katrina, they wondered about the possible long-term effects on health -- especially AMIs after Katrina compared to AMIs prior to Katrina.
What Professor Gautam's team found was disturbing. Compared with patients admitted with AMI to Tulane University Hospital in the two years before Katrina, they found that fully two years after the hospital reopened -- which was 5 months after Katrina hit -- the incidence of AMI tripled! One explanation for this increase is the chronic stress citizens have endured in New Orleans trying to re-build the homes and lives. Because hospital records also indicate that, compared to pre-Katrina patients, post-Katrina AMI patients:
(1) had higher unemployment
(2) lacked medical insurance
(3) did not take their medication
(4) smoked more
(5) abused drugs more
(6) more likely hospitalized for the first time in their lives
(7) more likely to live in New Orleans and in temporary housing
Interestingly, they found no racial difference in rates of AMI and any of these other factors.
This study provides clear evidence that Katrina led to prolonged loss of employment and insurance, decreased access to preventive health services and an increased incidence of AMI. And consistent with other studies, disaster-related chronic stress leads to increased smoking and a decrease in medical compliance.
The research team noted that, even allowing for the loss of some local hospitals in the wake of the disaster, these results represents a significant decrease in overall population health, and supports the need for further study into the health effects of chronic post-disaster stress. It also suggests that the citizens of New Orleans require substantially more health promotion services to prevent such life-threatening outcomes as AMIs.
So yet another example of "plenty enough such to go around."
Because Katrina was a natural event, folks need to expect the emotional fallout from a phenomenon called the "second disaster." It is experienced by the Storm's survivors who believe that things should be far better than they are now in 2008.
Kathy and I come from Florida. Florida experienced their Katrina in 1992 with Hurricane Andrew. At the time it was by far the worst hurricane in memory and destroyed a large number of trees and other landmarks in southern Dade County. Just like after Hurricane Andrew, a call from a local disaster manager put it in perspective as she looked into a CNN camera and simply asked with exasperation in her voice: "Where's the cavalry!?!" Second disaster is the disaster about disasters. Sometimes second disasters are worse than the original. We Americans tend to be extraordinarily impatient. As a result, we probably experience second disasters more than other, slower paced cultures. And then we think of New Orleans. Some may be venting their anger and annoyance toward politicians-- the Mayor, the Governor, the President. Some may be frustrated with the pace of recovery. However the underlying emotion of those who survived a catastrophe is fear.
Anxiety in the aftermath of trauma is normal and expected but gradually go away on its own. Sometimes this anxiety can make residents and their communities better prepared for future hurricanes. Think of a mild state of stage fright when it makes us study our lines one more time. The trick is channeling that excessive anxiety into useful projects.
When anticipating a hurricane or any other predictable disaster, however, anxiety can reduce one's patience. Therefore, we all need to learn ways to manage our stress and avoid a kind of "Home Depot rage" -- people fighting over the last sheet of plywood, the last D batteries.
Being informed about -- but not obsessed with -- hurricane coverage can be therapeutic. It will motivate some people to more fully understand how and why people respond to disasters in the short and long term. For psychological and safety reasons, certain questions need answering: What happened? Why did it happen? How is it relevant to me and my family? Why am I so upset about this? What if this happens again -- will I be safe?
Hurricanes are acts of God, people can actually accept it more readily. But trauma caused by people on purpose is another matter completely. Most especially terrorist-induced trauma to frighten people is very different from natural disasters. Even Katrina with all its human-caused problems, then and now, they are more manageable knowing that we can fix what went wrong. It is comforting.
Now we know that managing the consequences is easier if you know what you are dealing with. Human reactions to disasters resulting in a stress injury can be one of four types: psychoneurological, exhaustion, grief, or a moral injury. Most often it is a combination of injuries. The worst assessment is a psychoneurological because high dosages are required of psychotherapy or medication or some combination.
And about that theory
Cheryl Wagner noted in her introduction about me she said, "I floated a theory that was pure anecdotes and conjecture. I think that constant, repetitive exposure to dysfunctional and Kafkaesque government and insurance organisms over time causes a mysterious condition known as Bureaucracy PTSD. Perhaps Prof. Figley thought I was crazy. When he joins us for the discussion this week, we shall see."
What I see around me is repetitive exposure alright but lots of coping with it through humor and distractions. It is called "sick of this bullshit." PTSD is an illness and if so, it's temporary. Consistent with what I wrote about above, rather than Bureaucracy PTSD it could be called emotional gumbo of feelings, memories, sensations, and a constant love for this City.
-- Charles Figley, Reporting from New Orleans, Land of Comebacks and Resilient People
Robert Reich sizes up the (he says fast-dwindling) chances for health care reform. [...]
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