Posts Tagged ‘health care

30
Sep
09

Public Option Faces Death Panel, With Expected Results

And the Douchebag of the Year Award goes to...

Man, Blue Dog Democrats just can’t get enough killing into their day! First, it was Rockefeller’s “more robust” public option, then Schumer’s “less robust but perfectly fine” public option. Little do they know that Rockefeller has another one lying in wait, so they won’t have to pick up kittens on the way home to satisfy their bloodlust.

Seriously, it’s ridiculous that they voted down the public option yesterday, but we all expected it, no? And, in true ridiculous Washington fashion, the vote means nothing really for the ultimate fate of the public option. Much like a government-mandated death panel would likely entail massive bureaucracy, there are still myriad ways to include this thing (let’s call it “Grandma”) in the final bill before we libtards start freaking out for realz.

Mr. Rockefeller has also proposed another amendment, designed to look like the version of a public option included in legislation under consideration in the House. That proposal would base payment rates on Medicare for three years, but would pay a premium of 5 percent above Medicare rates for providers that also accept Medicare. (Not all health care providers accept the government insurance.)

For right now, let’s drop health care and talk education, though. As in, there’s a serious lack of it in the U.S., even in the most unlikely places. Take that woman who refused to deploy to Iraq, since she didn’t want to do so for some Indonesian Muslim-turned-Welfare-thug or whatever: she’s a doctor. Really! Like, if you went into a hospital with a gaping head wound, she might be deployed to fix it, as long as you had your long-form birth certificate.

Anyway, and here’s an elected official speaking:

“There’s a lot to like about a public option,” [Max] Baucus said, but he asserted that the idea could not get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster on the Senate floor.

So, let’s get this straight: Blue Dogs won’t vote for a public option, even though they like it, because it won’t pass because they won’t vote for a public option. Genius!

Now let’s get this guy over to Afghanistan! He can tell the public that we’re there to help democracy by putting a guy who steals elections in power. Everyone* wins!

*Except everyone.

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25
Sep
09

Cheap Drugs Now! Cheap Drugs Always!

To continue my rant about what health care reform is vis a vis my experiences here with universal health care, let’s move on to a prescient (and pressing) topic: Drugs. Obama flip-flopped a while ago on drug cost reform, which is the most retarded compromise he’s made yet. Put your Twitter guns away, Sarah. With all due respect to Trig Palin, the most likeable of that whole damned family, I am using “retarded” in the literal sense, meaning that it is slowing progress.

Let me explain. I realized lately that, of all the things that universal health care has meant for me here, maybe the most concrete and loveable is the drug situation. Specifically, I have a baby who just loves to get earaches. Really. Like, 10 a year. As such, I have a house constantly full of two things: Amoxycillin and prescription-strength Ibuprofen (meant for babies with perforated eardrums). In an attempt to curb the constant earaches, our pediatrician recently put her on a daily does of the antibiotics, a course of treatment meant to last for 3 months, which means buying at least 4 bottles of the stuff. Here’s why I say I love this part of universal health care the most:

2 bottles of Amoxycillin + 1 huge bottle of baby Ibuprofen = less than 2 euros.

That’s right. LESS than 2 bucks.

Finding a way to make that sort of thing unpalatable to the masses would be tough for even the most skilled government-hater. Unless, of course, they bring up that most hated of all words: tax. Time for more math, you say?

My monthly salary, before taxes and social security: about 2200.
My take-home: A little more than 1900.

That’s right. I pay just around 13% for taxes and social security. Included in that is health care, education through college in any EU university for all of my kids, and a nice cushy retirement fund. Oh, and, most pressing for me, is the unemployment benefits, which amount to 70% of your salary for the first 4 months.

Now, granted, Spain is not someplace you move to to get rich. Or someplace you stay to get rich. But, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find people who are not middle class. And harder-pressed yet to find people who don’t go to the doctor if so much as their nose itches.

Better yet, they can afford the treatment. And who doesn’t love cheap drugs?

29
Jul
09

Five Big Concerns About Public Health Care (And Why They Shouldn’t Be)

Three things are inspiring me to write this. First of all, I was asked about it. Secondly, health care is kinda sorta in the news nowadays. And thirdly, my upcoming jaunt back to mi patria is bringing back memories…and anger. Why anger, you ask? OK, I’ll start with the last part then…

When I discovered I was pregnant in the States, I was just finishing my degree and didn’t have health insurance or money. I was, however, shocked and delighted to find out that I was eligible for LAMoms, a program of public health care that focused on low-income Louisiana mothers-to-be and their small children. Hurray! And this brings me to my first point.

1. Picking doctors
Under LAMoms, I was allowed to pick my own doctor. Huzzah! And so I did, carefully researching the best OB/Gyns in the area. Turns out, none of them would take my poor ass. Finally, after cold-calling every doctor within a 100-mile radius (no kidding), I found someone who would be willing to take my gubmint insurance. 70 miles away. In three months. Which is a bit late for a first trimester checkup.

Here in Spain, I was not allowed to pick my doctor or my midwife (midwives do the delivering here). I have to say, though, it didn’t bother me for a few reasons. Most notably, I’m not really picky when it comes to doctors, and the very distinct impression given here is that every doctor is equally qualified. Plus, if you really can’t stand a doctor (which happened to me later when visiting a pediatric specialist), you can bitch and moan and change doctors. So, yes, your doctor is determined by your zip code here in Spain, whereas, in the States, my doctor was determined by my insurance coverage. Which reminds me…

2. Public insurance

What exactly is public health insurance? This is a question that should be asked more often, since I think it’s unclear in the States. I say this because I was just researching whether or not our daughter would be covered under the much-ballyhooed CHIP (children’s health insurance) program while we’re visiting. Turns out that, in the state where we’ll be visiting, there does exist a CHIP program to cover all minors. For $147 a month, per kid (capping out at around $400 a month for three or more little buggers). In short, this makes us buying travel insurance for all three of us more cost-effective for the weeks we’ll be there.

That’s not public health insurance, silly!

Spanish public health insurance is a given. It’s a right for all citizens and legal residents, rather than a privilege. And, when I say it’s a given, I mean that: it’s given. Free. Sin pagar. Punto.

As for illegal immigrants, they can go to the doctor too in the ER, for a fee. Just like all us po’ folks in the United States. Oh, and, speaking of ERs…

3. Quality of public health care

This has been a matter of substantial debate, and rightfully so. A lot of people have heard horror stories about huge lines in Canada, and lackluster treatment availability everywhere but the Good Ol’ U S of A, right? While I won’t deny that public health care = waiting, I will describe what I mean. All appointment times for doctor’s visits are what they call “orientative,” and they are granted in blocks. The doctor comes out periodically, tells everyone the order in which they’ll be called, and then the patients police themselves (I still find the Spanish queue system fascinating, but that’s a topic for another day). Given that, I have never spent more than 25 minutes waiting to be seen. Going to the ER, I’ve never spent more than 40, and that was for a routine checkup when I first landed here, was still undocumented, and was not an emergency by any stretch of the imagination (I got a bill for that visit later for 200 euros. However, the health office contacted me, since they had been notified that I was a legal resident, and rescinded that charge, all without me saying anything).

As far as the quality goes, I’ve been pretty impressed, for the most part. My prenatal care was fine, if a bit impersonal (I’ll get to why in a moment), the delivery was expert, and the recovery was brilliant (you stay for three days minimum in a private room). My daughter’s care has been wonderful, and I couldn’t ask for more to be done for her. If I did, it would get done (really, they ask all the time if I’d like to test to verify/negate my various and sundry concerns). Which reminds me…

4. Bureaucracy

This is a bit of a pain here in Spain, in that every single doctor has his/her own specialty. Your GP, OB, pediatrician, and various specialists are all different people (of course), but a lot of times they’ll be in different places around the city. I found it to be the worst with the prenatal care, since my OB was different from my ultrasounder from my blood analyzer, etc…However, I was still undocumented when they assigned me all these people, so I didn’t have a set doctor to refer me. Still, you will never give blood or urine to your doctor in the next room; it will usually be a separate appointment on a different day. Since there’s no such thing as “sick days” here, it doesn’t so much matter to the Spaniards, but it is something that would have to be modified if the U.S. were to adopt a similar system.

Another thing that is always brought up as a terrifying phrase when impending “France-ification” is feared upon us is “strikes.” Yes, the unions in Europe LOVE to strike, and doctors are no different. However, since health care is a right, and not a privilege, the doctors inform their patients of their strikes ahead of time, they only last for one day, there are always subs available, and the ER never ever closes. For example, I know that, if I want to see my daughter’s pediatrician, I can’t go on August 11, since she’ll be on strike. No joke. Which is why…

5. Driving private sector out of business?

Could never happen here in Spain. Native Spaniards, who are accustomed to the luxury of free health care, don’t like the waits or the impersonal nature of the visits. So, they virtually all currently have, or have had, private health insurance. And they can, since it’s quite cheap and doesn’t turn away anyone who may have sneezed once in 1974. So, yes, the private sector is huge here, but it’s inexpensive and inclusive. God forbid that should happen to us.

So, there it is, in a big, fat bloated nutshell. That can go get its arteries unclogged gratis at the local hospital.

17
May
09

Michael Steele Hearts Universal Health Care, Still Hates Homos

Michael Steele, I hope hope hope hopehopehope you keep this RNC Chairman gig. Really. Not only are you comically bad at your job, but you’re hilarious while you’re being comically bad at your job. Humor bonuses all around!

How is Michael Steele being an epic failure yet AGAIN today? Why, by decrying gay marriage as being bad for small businesses.

Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.

“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”

Obviously, The ChairMan of Steele got the memo that the GOP wants to focus on gay marriage, rather than abortion, as its core social issue (another epically bad idea, but that’s a topic for another post). So he was halfway there in the benefitting-his-party thang. It’s only that pesky, undoubtedly inadvertent, argument he just made for universal health care that got in the way of this being a pretty acceptable Bush-era-conservative speech.

Then again, maybe Michael Steele missed the Obama administration’s argument that federally-provided health insurance would save small businesses an assload of money. After all, if you Google “Obama health care small business,” only 19,400,000 results pop up. And who’s got the time to read all that shizzle, Baby?!

04
May
09

Arlen Specter Is A New Democrat, But Still An Old Fuckface

Oh, Arlen Specter, you’re such a power-hungry asshole. And, come 2010, you’ll still be a power-hungry asshole, but one without a pot to piss in on either side of the political spectrum.

Specter announces he won’t back EFCA or health care:

On the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow for easier unionization, Specter strongly suggested — as he did during the speech announcing his party switch — that he would support a filibuster of the legislation. “I’m still against that bill,” he said. “Democrats are all for it. Republicans are all against it. I’m the critical vote. If I see that there are other issues where I feel a matter of conscience, I will continue a filibuster against legislation.”

On a public option for health insurance — which conservatives claim will end the private market, but most observers say could bring down the costs of coverage for millions of Americans — Specter said he would be in opposition. “That’s what I said and that’s what I meant,” he added later, when asked if he would vote “no” on public health care.

This is why he’s going to lose the primary in Pennsylvania, regardless of the letter next to his name. I don’t care what Joe Biden offered him; there’s no way ol’ Joey B. can guarantee no wet-behind-the-ear Democrat in all of PA isn’t going to be salivating at the idea he could run against this old douchebag, even if he does boast a “magic bullet” in his arsenal.

Farewell, fuckwit!

02
May
09

Senator Ben Nelson Is A Cancer

And I hope he gets it. After he’s voted out in the 2010 primary and no longer has his awesome public health insurance, so he has to find a way to pay for it. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve hated someone this hard in recent memory.

From HuffPo:

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Friday that he will oppose legislation that would give people the option of a public health insurance plan. The move puts him on the opposite side of two-thirds of Americans.

A poll released this week by Consumer Reports National Research Center showed that 66 percent of Americans back the creation of a public health plan that would compete with private plans. Nelson, in comments made to CQ, joins the 16 percent of poll respondents who said they oppose the plan.

Nelson’s problem, he told CQ, is that the public plan would be too attractive and would hurt the private insurance plans. “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the game,” Nelson said. Including a public option in a health plan, he said, was a “deal breaker.”

Really, I want him to suffer and die. In debt.

28
Apr
09

Secret Communist Arlen Specter Gives Dems Their Supermajority

Breaking news here from the NY Times:

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said on Tuesday he would switch to the Democratic party, presenting Democrats with a possible 60th vote and the power to break Senate filibusters as they try to advance the Obama administration’s new agenda…
Mr. Specter faced a primary challenge from former Republican Congressman Pat Toomey and polls showed him trailing Mr. Toomey. But he had previously resisted overtures to join the Democrats.

‘Atta boy, Senator.

So let’s sum up the GOP’s week so far, shall we?

1. Texas Governor Rick Perry talks about secession in the name of getting the Feds off his lawn.
2. Said Governor pleads for help with the Swine Flu outbreak.
3. Just as torture and its prosecution were becoming divisive and foremost in Americans’ minds, said outbreak puts health care back into the public consciousness, as well as how much the Feds help in times of crisis.
4. In said times of crisis, Americans pull together…except Rush Limbaugh, who tries to link Obama’s trip to Mexico with the outbreak.
5. After trying to bully the last of their Mohicans up in the Northeast, he defects, giving Dems the right to do whatever the fuck they want in the Senate.

Is this proof there’s a God? And that he hates Republicans?