Aetna CEO wants public discussion of single-payer healthcare coverage

❝ The chief executive of one of the country’s largest health insurance companies says he is open to having a single-payer debate….“Single-payer, I think we should have that debate as a nation,” Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini said…

❝ Bertolini spoke to a private meeting where Aetna employees could ask questions of their chief executive. A partial video of his remarks provided to Vox includes Bertolini responding to a question about single-payer health care.

“In the news media, it is reporting that the Republican health plan is paving the way to a single-payer system,” an Aetna employee asks Bertolini. “What are your thoughts on that, and how would it impact Aetna?”

This was his response:

Single-payer, I think we should have that debate as a nation. But let me remind everybody that Aetna was the first financial intermediary for Medicare. We cut the first check for Medicare in 1965 to Hartford Hospital for $517.57.

❝ The government doesn’t administer anything. the first thing they’ve ever tried to administer in social programs was the ACA, and that didn’t go so well. So the industry has always been the back room for government. If the government wants to pay all the bills, and employers want to stop offering coverage, and we can be there in a public private partnership to do the work we do today with Medicare, and with Medicaid at every state level, we run the Medicaid programs for them, then let’s have that conversation.

But if we want to turn it all over to the government to run, is the government really the right place to run all this stuff? And that’s the debate that needs to be had. They could finance it, and if there is one financer, and you could call that single-payer. …

I think it’s hilarious that he ignores federal administration of SSA and Medicare. Both of which have administration costs less than 10-25% of typical American private insurance companies.

❝ What Bertolini seems open to is a version of single-payer where the federal government would contract out certain functions private companies, such as Aetna. These insurers would, in his own words, become a “back room for government.”

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Oklahoma lawmakers say men must approve all abortions

Oklahoma ranks second behind Louisiana for the sheer number of abortion restrictions passed since 1973. And they’re still at it:


Governor Mary Fallin brags her state is the most anti-abortion state in the nation

❝ HB 1441…is disturbing, devoid of any nuance and completely unconstitutional. Written by another of the chamber’s freshmen, Rep. Justin Humphrey, the legislation would require a woman seeking an abortion first to obtain written permission from her sexual partner. It would also require her to provide his name to her doctor and would forestall the procedure if the man wanted the opportunity to challenge paternity.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar provision in 1992.

❝ Just as quickly as they were disposed of the first time around, both pieces of legislation have re-emerged: On Thursday afternoon the measures were put back on the committee agenda — slated for hearing on Valentine’s Day.

…“I think it’s universally viewed that our state, Kansas, and a few others are really the worst out there” for reproductive rights, said Rev. Shannon Speidel, a minister in Enid, Oklahoma, and a current member of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice’s board.

❝ Speidel has worked on issues of reproductive justice in Arkansas and on the national stage as a member of the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute, which is sponsored by the Center for American Progress. “Especially with the institute I hear a lot about this work all over the country, and every single state has their fights — even the most progressive ones. Ours is recognized as one of the most hostile states in the nation.”…

❝ Of all the bills filed this session, HB 1441 has been most troubling to coalition members, said Speidel. “This one, by far, was the one that bothered us the most,” she said. “There were a lot of feelings about it. In a state that doesn’t really spend a lot of time on domestic violence issues it really just showed ignorance regarding what relationships can be for some women.”

Humphrey explains his reasons this way:

“I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

I haven’t anything civil to say about folks like this. Opinions which fail the smell test as thoroughly as any law advocating slavery or opposing universal suffrage have no place in American political discourse. The First Amendment protects stupid as well as ignorant; but, 19th Century minds waste the time and cost of running a legislature with crap like this.

Even if Congressional Republicans and their evil twin in the White House get to mess with the Supreme Court, I hope that civil reliance on the virtues of our Constitution give the state of Oklahoma nothing more than an outsize bill for their backwardness and patronizing beliefs.

Solar Impulse leaving Phoenix tomorrow morning for Tulsa, Oklahoma

Si2 Hawaii
Click to enlarge

Si2 spent a little over a week in Phoenix Goodyear Airport until the mission engineers found a clear weather window to allow the pilots to continue their flights across the United States. After considerable weather and flight path investigations, our engineers have found a slightly unexpected destination: Tulsa International Airport. Bertrand Piccard will takeoff from Phoenix, Arizona on May 12th at 10:00AM UTC, 12:00PM CET, 3:00AM MST and is expected to land 18 hours and 20 minutes later in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

That’s 4AM MDT takeoff for folks in the Rockies. Bertrand Piccard at the helm. Their engineers say they have a clear window of just under 18 hours for a flight that should take just over 18 hours. Phew.

Straight into Tornado Alley.

DEA sex parties go back to 2001


Anything else you think I should ignore – besides the NSA?

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee called…for the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration to step down amid allegations that DEA agents attended sex parties with prostitutes while stationed overseas.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said DEA chief Michele Leonhart has allowed problems at the agency to fester for more than a decade…

If Leonhart does not step down, President Barack Obama should fire her, Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz made the comments after a 3½-hour hearing Tuesday that focused on the sex party allegations, which date back to 2001. Leonhart has led the DEA since 2007 and was sole deputy administrator for three years before that.

An internal report said government money was used to pay prostitutes at a farewell party for a high-ranking DEA official in Colombia.

DEA agents also rented undercover apartments in Colombia and used them for parties with prostitutes, the DEA said in an internal report…

The Justice Department report recounts allegations that DEA agents attended sex parties with prostitutes, funded by local drug cartels, in a foreign county. The report does not identify the country where the alleged sex parties occurred, but the DEA report released Tuesday identified it as Colombia.

The report came after a separate 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia involving the Secret Service drew attention to questionable behavior by law enforcement officers while stationed overseas. Those allegations prompted Congress to order a review of other agencies’ practices. DEA agents who were accused of misconduct in the wake of that scandal were recalled from Colombia and put on limited duty.

Ten DEA agents were accused of wrongdoing; seven were issued suspensions ranging from one to 10 days…

My only suggestion – in addition to endorsing the firing of the DEA Chief who did nothing – is to bring the former DEA head(s) back to Congress for questioning about the how and why of starting this criminal behavior. Then, sue them for the return of their paychecks.

Somehow – in 2001 – it became clear to agents of a number of police operating for the United States outside our borders that accepting gifts and prostitutes from drug gangs was acceptable. That’s not an easy decision even under Emperor Nero or Reichsführer Cheney, I imagine.

Republican claims he lost primary to dead incumbent, replaced with a body double

03.02-Tim-Murray

An Oklahoma congressional candidate has announced he plans to contest Tuesday’s primary election of long time Rep. Frank Lucas.

In a bizarre letter obtained by NewsChannel 4, Tim Murray says he doesn’t feel Rep. Lucas is qualified for office…Murray brings it up in his letter announcing his plan to contest Lucas’s election writing, “…it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike…”

…His campaign website goes into detail about his theory that Lucas was hanged “…executed by the world court on or about jan. 11, 2011…” in Ukraine…“I’ve never been to Ukraine,” said Rep. Lucas.

For the past 20 years, Lucas has been working in Congress, and he’s faced Murray in past elections.

“He was the Democratic nominee for Congress two years ago. This time, he chose to run as a Republican,” said Rep. Lucas.

On Tuesday, 5.2 percent of Oklahomans voted for Murray. Lucas won more than 82 percent of the vote. Since Murray doesn’t believe Lucas is living, he wants those votes.

“Many things have been said about me, said to me during course of my campaigns. This is the first time I’ve ever been accused of being a body double or a robot,” said Rep. Lucas.

RTFA for copies of two letters describing the World Court trial and execution Murray says he saw on television.

Draw your own conclusions. My dog says she could beat him in an election debate.

Thanks, Mike

Oklahoma Republican politics means you don’t have to obey the president – but, you do have to obey the governor!

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law Monday that passes a statewide ban on raising the minimum wage and prohibits cities from legislating to establish mandatory employee benefits like vacations or sick leave…Opponents view the law as retaliation against grass roots organizers gathering signatures in the capital to raise the city’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

After Fallin signed the bill, her office released a statement claiming that “most minimum-wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry-level jobs.”

Fallen said, “Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers. It would create a hardship for small business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers.”

You decide if she’s ignorant or a liar. The average minimum wage earner is a single mom in her 30’s.

A major paper published last year covered by the Washington Post found that economists agree that raising the minimum wage actually reduces poverty.

Reducing poverty is one of those goals that you never hear addressed by Republicans except as some kind of supposed inevitability from their favorite dribble-down economics. Which hasn’t worked anywhere on Earth, yet.

They will get righteous about protecting profits, though.

In Oklahoma’s tornado alley, some better prepared than others

shelters save lives

The mayor of Moore, Oklahoma, a municipality twice devastated by tornados in the past 15 years, is fixated on garage doors, knowing they are a key to protecting the city from even more damage during this year’s tornado season.

Moore, in the heart of “Tornado Alley,” where twisters frequently hit, will be operating this year under new building codes, arguably some of the most stringent in the nation, to protect people and structures from deadly winds…

“Garage doors are the first to come off during a tornado. Once the garage door comes off, the roof comes off,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said in an interview last week…

In May 2013, twenty-four people were killed and 240 injured when a top-rated tornado devastated Moore, a city of about 55,000 south of Oklahoma City. Some 2,400 buildings were damaged or destroyed, including Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed.

It was even worse in 1999 when one of the strongest tornadoes ever recorded, with wind speeds of 300 mph, struck Moore, killing 44 and leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

“The new building codes are great, but I wish they were approved sooner,” said Lewis, who was mayor when both tornadoes hit.

Moore, Oklahoma City and other cities began operating this year under building codes offering more protection, but inadequate structures and a dearth of shelters persist in large parts of the state.

One hold-up appears to be in the state legislature, where lawmakers have been bickering over funding tornado protection.

One Democratic lawmaker proposed using funds from the state’s franchise tax, a levy suspended in 2011, to pay for tornado and storm shelters for the majority of schools in the state without them. Republican lawmakers, who dominate the legislature, have balked at the proposal, saying they want to eliminate the tax altogether.

There’s the point of it all. Republicans, Tea Party Brown Shirts and Blue Dog Democrats care more about tax cuts and money in their wallets than the lives of school children.

I have nothing but contempt for corrupt human beings who value greed over need. They do not advance society. They care little or nothing for those who stand beside them on this planet. Self-centered, egregious, nothing counts more in their mean little lives than money and personal power.

Fred Phelps’ death celebrated by Oklahoma liquor store

moore-liquor

A liquor store in Moore, Okla., advertised a sale on champagne to coincide with the death of Fred Phelps, the founder of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.

The owner of Moore Liquor, Bryan Kerr, posted a sign outside his store Tuesday reading “Fred Phelps 1929-2014, Champagne 10 percent off! Not a coincidence…”

Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are known for their virulent anti-gay sentiment and protesting soldiers’ funerals. Phelps died Thursday after having been excommunicated from the church.

[He was excommunicated in a power struggle – won by a dude who campaigned that Phelps wasn’t loud enough supporting an inferior role for women in marriage and society]

Kerr said he’s gotten positive feedback about his sign, which suggests celebrating Phelps’ death.

“People have really responded positively to it,” he said.

“Champagne is a celebratory drink and so that’s why we gave 10 percent off,” Kerr added. “If they choose to celebrate the passing of a little hate from this world, they can do so and we’re happy to oblige here at Moore Liquor.”

“That kind of hatred and that kind of twisting of biblical principles needs to be exposed and talked about people need to know that’s not how real Christians act,” he said.

As my old acquaintance Willard Uphaus said during his years as a defrocked Methodist preacher – “Ain’t nothing wrong with old-time religion if it’s old-time enough!” He forgave his church’s cowardice, blindness. Eventually they reacquired sufficient courage to reinstate him after decades as a peace activist.

The idjits any progressive activist encounters, fools who think they are the only True Christians in the world are an embarrassment to normal folks who trust their religion to lead them to a life of peace and understanding. Trouble is, gang, it’s time for you to speak up and differentiate yourself from fundamentalist bigots.

Champagne optional.

Oklahoma considers stupid law regulating stupid policies


Feel threatened?

An Oklahoma politician apparently felt that hype about the dangers of guns in schools had gone too far and decided to do something about it.

Under the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act introduced by Rep. Sally Kern, schoolchildren in the state would no longer face punishment if they chew their frosted or fruit-filled breakfast pastries into the shape of guns…

According to the bill, “Brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a weapon,” would be protected…

In addition to the pastry provision, Kern’s bill would also make it safe for students to possess small toy weapons or use pencils, pens, fingers or their hands to simulate a weapon.

Students also couldn’t be punished for wearing clothes that “support or advance Second Amendment rights or organizations.”

In Oklahoma you have to include that last sentence otherwise the NRA will tell everyone the bill is part of some commie, pinko plot to send the Marines to your home and take away your guns.

Then, there’s the fun of deciding which kind of stupid you need to support, which kind you need to stop. Do you pass zero tolerance regulations that lead to silliness like suspending students who chew their pastries into dangerous weapon-shapes? Do you spend time regulating how much common sense is allowed to modify zero tolerance silliness? And on and on. An endless loop keeping politicians looking busy – if not productive.

Peeping Tom sentenced – peeping from inside septic tank under Tulsa city park outhouse

A man who spied on a woman and her daughter from inside the catchment tank of a park outhouse was sentenced Thursday to one year in the Tulsa Jail.

Kenneth Webster Enlow, 52, of Tulsa pleaded guilty that same day to a misdemeanor peeping Tom charge. He had no plea deal with prosecutors.

Tulsa County Special Judge Bill Hiddle sentenced him to the maximum, one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. By statute, Enlow is not required to register as a sex offender.

An arrest report says he watched a woman and her 7-year-old daughter as he sat beneath a permanent outhouse at White Water Park near the Keystone Dam west of Sand Springs on July 7.

According to the arrest report, the woman said she saw Enlow looking up at her after she first noticed the water under the toilet move.

Keystone firefighters got Enlow out of the holding tank and cleaned him with a fire hose.

Eeoough!

The dude remained in the Tulsa Jail after sentencing. I don’t think he’s going to try for an appeal. BTW, they couldn’t charge him with a felony because he didn’t take photographs.