Republican teabagger whines, “Where’s my health care?”

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning,”…

Harris, a Maryland state senator who works at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and several hospitals on the Eastern Shore, also told the audience, “This is the only employer I’ve ever worked for where you don’t get coverage the first day you are employed,” his spokeswoman Anna Nix told POLITICO.

Like most of the Tea Party ignoranuses, he cares nothing for the reality of folks who depend on federally managed or mandated healthcare programs for their needs. This egregious prick whines when his professional “rights” are forced into the mold constructed by his political peers.

Imagine how loud he would oink if he had to support his family on an unemployment insurance check?

Just a small note about ObamaCare and costs to seniors

Many of you know me as a cranky old geek. With the emphasis on old.

The core of my “income” is that smallish Social Security check that arrives via direct deposit once a month. There is a small amount of money I use as play money in The Market only because I discovered just a few years ago that the sort of computational analysis I believe is assuming more of a useful role in science and scientific research – seems to help a bit with investing.

The amount I play with isn’t enough to make a serious dent in the national economy or even Friday night pizzas.

But, circumstances have forced me, today, to spend an unplanned bit of time with one of my doctors – and another, tomorrow. Nothing serious, nothing important, just a little painful. Those Medicare payments I made all the years of being socially productive are standing me in good stead. And, so far, I’m keeping up with the bills.

Yesterday, my insurance dude came by and we sorted out the changes in Medicare Advantage, coverage for my medical needs. Essentially nothing has changed with ObamaCare, day to day, when I need to wander through checkups or more pressing needs which become slightly more frequent as you approach geezer status. Some coverage has been added – some I don’t think I’ll need in fact.

The annual cost to me has been reduced about 28%. I owe a vote of thanks to President Obama, those Democrats who overwhelmingly passed those changes – and I guess 2 or 3 Republicans. No help from Tea Party types.

I’ll be picking up speed, again, in the next day or two. Posting more frequently. As normal. When I’m not stoned out of my gourd. 🙂

Republicans + election slogans = crapping on 9/11 responders

When does the Republican party abandon 9/11? When it’s time to provide $7.4 billion in medical treatment and compensation to first responders and residents sickened by the toxic dust after the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center. Yesterday, the House’s 255-159 vote (243 Democrats and 12 Republicans supported the measure; 155 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted nay) fell short of the majority needed to pass the long-debated James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2009.

Not that a simple democratic majority ever mattered to Republicans.

Heart attacks diminish in northern California

Heart attacks dropped by 24 percent in a large cross section of Northern Californians over the past decade, most likely due to less smoking, better blood pressure control, and lower cholesterol, a new study reports.

What’s more, rates of the most severe type of heart attack dropped by 62 percent, according to the study, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We believe improvements in targeting risk factors are in part responsible,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Alan Go, M.D., the assistant director for clinical research at Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, California. “We’ve observed in our population that fewer people are smoking, and there’s better control of blood pressure and cholesterol…”

The plunge in heart attack rates may not reflect trends elsewhere in the country, or even in other Northern Californians, however. Although the study patients were ethnically diverse and ranged in age from 30 to 90-plus, they all had one thing in common: They were insured and received quality preventive care…

While heart attack rates were falling among the people in the study, Brown points out, rates of diabetes and obesity continued to climb across the nation as a whole. “We are still facing an epidemic that is causing a gradual-to-rapid increase in heart disease-related deaths,” he says.

And heart disease is not equally distributed across the U.S., Pearson notes. Southeastern states, and especially the regions lining the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys–a swath collectively known as “Coronary Valley”–are among the hardest hit, he says.

Though the population in the study isn’t representative of the nation as a whole, the findings do highlight the changes that need to be made to heart disease care, Brown says.

If the health-care system can transition from “dealing with problems” to “creating sustainable lifestyle changes in our communities,” Brown adds, “we can prevent the onset of chronic illness in our country beyond that of heart disease alone.”

Hrmph. That requires moving politicians in general and Congress in particular to decisions that challenge the insurance and health care establishment in America. Should I hold my breath waiting for that to happen?

Does that sound too cynical?

Teabaggers turn to racist, homophobe chants at D.C. rally

The tea party movement is disturbingly racist and reactionary, from its roots to its highest branches. On Saturday, as a small group of protesters jammed the Capitol and the streets around it, the movement’s origins in white resistance to the Civil Rights Movement was impossible to ignore. Here’s only what the mainstream media is reporting, ignoring what I’m seeing on Twitter and left wing blogs:

Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis was taunted by tea partiers who chanted “nigger” at least 15 times, according to the Associated Press (we are not cleaning up language and using “the N-word” here because it’s really important to understand what was said.) First reported on The Hill blog (no hotbed of left-wing fervor), the stories of Lewis being called “nigger” were confirmed by Lewis spokeswoman Brenda Jones and Democratic Rep. Andre Carson, who was walking with Lewis. “It was like going into the time machine with John Lewis,” said Carson, a former police officer. “He said it reminded him of another time.”

Another Congressional Black Caucus leader, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, was spat upon by protesters. The culprit was arrested, but Cleaver declined to press charges.

House Majority Whip James Clybourn told reporters: “I heard people saying things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus.”

There were many reports that Rep. Barney Frank was called a “faggot” by protesters, but the one I saw personally was by CNN’s Dana Bash, who seemed rattled by the tea party fury. Frank told AP: “It’s a mob mentality that doesn’t work politically…”

So I’m having a hard time tonight trying to believe almost uniformly white tea partiers are anything other than a racist, right-wing reaction to the election of an African American president who brings with him feminists and gays (even if he doesn’t do as much for them as they would ideally like). I’m having a hard time seeing the tea partiers as anything other than the spawn of George Wallace racism – the movement Pat Buchanan bragged to me that Richard Nixon made his own…

Anyone surprised?

Republicans would hate Australia’s socialized medicine, too – if they knew about it.

In 2004, I’d just finished a novel and by way of celebration had taken my family for an extended visit to Australia, where I was born and raised.

I didn’t expect that trip to save my life. But I’m convinced it did, because of Australia’s “socialized” medicine.

I retreat to my garret when I write a novel, especially toward the end. I stop going anyplace, wear sweat pants all day, neglect personal grooming. Back in the Sydney neighborhood where I’d lived for many years, I was re-entering the civilized world, and was on the way to a salon for an overdue haircut when I passed the BreastScreen van, parked in the main street.

This mobile service offers free mammograms, no appointment necessary. It wasn’t until I saw that van that I realized a mammogram was one of the things I’d forgotten to do. I was a year overdue, according to the guidelines for women my age, so I stepped into the van, got squished and zapped by a pleasantly efficient technician, who told me a radiologists’ report would be mailed out in a week or so.

Two weeks later, I was in a Sydney hospital, discussing treatment options for my invasive stage II cancer. According to testimony by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) at last Thursday’s health-care summit, I should have been heading for the airport at that point. Like his unnamed Canadian state premier with the heart condition, I should have been hightailing it to the U.S., to avail myself of “the best health care in the world.”

No thanks, Senator. I elected to stay in Australia. We had ample U.S. insurance; cost wasn’t an issue. I simply wanted to remain in a humane, rational system where doctors treat a person as a patient, not a potential plaintiff, and where the procedures ordered for me were the ones shown by hard science to produce the best outcome for the most people.

Australia adopted universal health care in 1984. Since then, life expectancy for women has increased to 83.5 years from 78.7 (for males to 79.1 from 72.6), while spending on health care has risen less than 1 percent, to 4.4 percent of government outlays (in 2008-09). The scheme is funded by a levy of 1.5 percent on taxable income, and all political parties, even the most conservative, support it.

RTFA. Try it! It won’t harm you.

Geraldine Brooks suggests, you might pass this along to a Republican or some other reactionary.

Thanks, honeyman

Palin traveled to Canada for health care

The part of Alaska Sarah Palin truly represents

In November of 2009, Sarah Palin — who is always suggesting that health care reform will lead to socialism — insisted that Canada needs to reform its health care system to “let the private sector take over.” But this past Saturday in Calgary, Canada — at “her first Canadian appearance since stepping down as governor of Alaska last summer” — Palin seemed to deviate from her fear of socialized Canadian medicine when she revealed that her family may have benefited from the Canadian system:

PALIN: We used to hustle over the border for health care we received in Canada. And I think now, isn’t that ironic?

This isn’t the first time Palin highlighted the difficulty of obtaining affordable health care in America. During the presidential campaign, Palin discussed how her and husband Todd had “gone though periods of our life here with paying out-of-pocket for health coverage until Todd and I both landed a couple of good union jobs.” At the Vice Presidential debate, Palin recalled times in her marriage “in our past where we didn’t have health insurance and we know what other Americans are going through as they sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how are they going to pay out-of-pocket for health care?”

Palin’s experience also highlights the fact that American medical-tourism to Canada is common, despite conservatives’ claims that Canada’s health care system drives Canadians into the states. “Every year, thousands of Americans undergo surgery in other countries” where they can receive the same care “at half the price.” “In 2007, an estimated 750,000 Americans traveled abroad for medical care; this number is anticipated to increase to six million by 2010″ — far outpacing the number of Canadians coming into the United States for medical treatment. It’s good to know that Palin was once one of them.

Today’s diminutive breed of closet protozoan intellects masquerading as conservative ideologues excel TV evangelists at hypocrisy.

Thanks, Mr. Justin

Courage/Conscience 220 to 215 Corrupt/Copouts/Cowards

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi achieved a stupendous – but still incomplete – victory Saturday, winning House passage of the biggest expansion of health care coverage since Medicare’s creation in 1964, in the face of nearly unanimous Republican opposition…

“This bill is change that the American people urgently need,” Obama said Saturday in a Rose Garden speech. “This is their moment, this is our moment to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us – even when it’s hard; especially when it’s hard…”

The House bill promises to expand coverage to 96 percent of Americans, but many key provisions, including a new insurance exchange where those without insurance could choose between a government option or private plans, would not take effect until 2013, after next year’s midterm elections and after the 2012 presidential election…

Part of the delay is due to the complexity of implementing changes to a $2.6 trillion industry that consumes $1 of every $6 Americans spend; part is due to budget maneuvering that delays expenditures to meet Obama’s pledge not to add to the burgeoning federal deficit within a 10-year budget window.

Just one Republican voted for the Democrats’ bill, Anh “Joseph” Cao, a Vietnam immigrant from Louisiana. All but Cao continued a GOP boycott of the Obama agenda that began with last fall’s $787 billion fiscal stimulus.

Democrats emphasized coverage expansions and the new security promised to millions whose employment-based coverage is threatened by rising premiums. The legislation would also impose new regulations on insurance companies, banning such practices as cancellation of policies when people get sick, and strip the industry of its antitrust exemption.

All overdue.

One non-white immigrant Republican voted for change instead of corporate lockstep obedience. The majority of Democrats voted for the people. The Blue Dogs belong on the cowardly side of the scoreboard. As they always have.

I grew up in New England. There is not a single Republican remaining in the House of Representatives from New England.

I have lived the past few decades in New Mexico. In the last election we voted in a Congressional delegation, House and Senate, that was all Democrats.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to register as a Democrat, this week. But, it surely is a good feeling to see some of our politicians begin to catch up with the people.

Leave a nursing home for a place of your own?

Walter Brown catching the bus

Walter Brown never wanted to live in a nursing home, but when he had a stroke two years ago, he saw little choice. Mr. Brown, 72, could not walk, use his left arm or transfer himself into his wheelchair.

“It was like being in jail,” Mr. Brown said on a recent afternoon. “In the nursing home you’ve got to do what they say when they say it, go to bed when they tell you, eat what they want you to eat. The food was terrible.”

But recently state workers helped Mr. Brown find a two-bedroom apartment in public housing here, which he shares with his daughter. “It just makes me more relaxed, more confident in myself,” he said, speaking with some difficulty, but with a broad smile. “More confident in the future.”

A growing number of states are reaching out to people like Mr. Brown, who have been in nursing homes for more than six months, aiming to disprove the notion that once people have settled into a nursing home, they will be there forever. Since 2007, Medicaid has teamed up with 29 states to finance such programs, enabling the low-income elderly and people with disabilities to receive many services in their own homes.

The program in Pennsylvania provides up to $4,000 in moving expenses, including a furniture allowance and modifications to the apartment, and Mr. Brown has a home health aide every morning and a care manager to arrange for services like physical therapy. The new programs, financed largely by $1.75 billion from Medicaid, are a sharp departure from past practices, where Medicaid practically steered people into nursing homes…

For Mr. Brown, the transition to his own home has changed his life, he said. Now, with his motorized wheelchair, he travels the city on public buses, visiting friends in other neighborhoods…

States and the federal government hope to save money, though research about cost savings has so far been inconclusive. A recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that home care costs taxpayers $44,000 a year less than a nursing home stay — though this number cannot be used to estimate total savings, because often home-based services replace family care, not nursing home care.

RTFA. Time for the Feds to kick in broader standards, flexible programs based on states’ successes. You know damned well the Blue States won’t do squat.

Costs less and is more humane? You know who would try to put a stop to it.