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The Public Option Is A Unicorn

I’m really starting to think that the public option is to democrats, what abortion is to republicans. It’s an empty promise that fires supporters up to open their wallets.

It should be obvious to any thinking person by now, that republicans are NEVER going to move to upend Roe v Wade. They’ve had plenty of opportunities to try. When the Bush administration controlled all three branches of government, they didn’t do a fucking thing about abortion. They have a stacked court that just demonstrated (with the Citizens United case) that they can do any damned thing they please. They fast tracked Citizen’s United up to the supreme court with astonishing speed. Think about it, have you ever seen a case make it up to the supreme court in one year? That’s almost unheard of. And when the Supreme Court got the case, they made a ruling that had only a tenuous connection to the issue at hand. They were obviously looking for a case that would fit a ruling that they intended to make all along. My point in bringing up Citizens United is that they have the means when they have the will.

So why haven’t they moved to overturn, or at least severely diminish Roe? Because the will isn’t there. Abortion is the carrot that they can dangle in front of their supporters to raise money for as long as Roe is in effect. Once Roe is eliminated, republicans lose a BIG revenue stream. Think about it, they’ve been railing against Roe for nearly 40 years now and yet, the most significant move that we’ve seen to kill abortion is coming from a democrat. Bart Stupak has done more to nullify Roe than any republican ever has. Roe v Wade is a money making machine for republicans, which is why abolishing abortion will always be a republican unicorn.

I’m starting to suspect that the public option is going to become the democrats’ unicorn. We now have 40 senators that have signed on to support the public option if it’s proposed in reconciliation and yet, I’m hearing no indication that anyone is actually making a move to write it into the bill. With a headcount of 40 senators, a public option should be likely. If we get 45, it should be a foregone conclusion. My prediction is that we’re never going to see it materialize.

My suggestion? Call your senator and let them know that a contribution will be forthcoming AFTER a vote to pass the public option.

There are too many unicorns in our politics. I’m keeping my wallet firmly shut until I see some results.

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Et Tu Markos?

Markos Moulitsas appeared on Countdown last night to put his boot on Dennis Kucinich’s throat. He said that if Kucinich votes against this bill, he will most likely get a primary challenger. He accused Kucinich of practicing “a very Ralph Nader-esque approach to politics”. And then, he showed off his skills for hyperbole by stating that he’s going to hold people like Dennis Kucinch responsible for the 40,000 people that die each year because they don’t have health insurance.

You’re WRONG Markos.

I get that this health care reform has been a long and tedious process, and I feel Markos’ frustration. I’m exhausted too. I want to put this whole debate behind me as much as the next person. But this bill blows. You know it, I know it, and anyone that has been paying attention knows it. That said, I too have been worn out by this process and think that this crappy bill should pass. I understand that every hope of getting something that will actually work well for the American people has been systematically undermined every step of the way.

But I (unlike you) haven’t forgotten the process that we’ve been through. I haven’t forgotten how this process was undermined, or who undermined it. This entire process has been one of “fuck you, pragmatists” from the beginning (by pragmatist, I mean anyone that has taken an unbiased look at our health insurance system and compared it to those of other countries).

Let’s review.

The first “fuck you” came when we were told that single payer wasn’t even going to be debated. Why not? Countries that have single payer systems are getting much better results at a much lower cost than we are. Isn’t that at least worthy of debate?

While that was going on, we got a “fuck you” from the white house, on the issue of negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies.

The next “fuck you” came when we were told that there weren’t enough votes in the senate for a public option, never mind the fact that a public option is the only way to truly create a competitive marketplace for health insurance.

After that ship sailed, we got the “fuck you” on a medicare buy in, quickly followed by another “fuck you” to lowering the age of eligibility for medicare from 65 to 55.

So now we’re reduced to an exchange that has no visible means of reigning in the audacious insurance companies, who threw in a “fuck you” in the form of 30% – 70% increases for health insurance, just because they can.

This whole process has been a “fuck you” to pragmatists (labeled liberals by the press and everybody else). Every time one of our representatives steps up to do something that would be beneficial to the American people in a demonstrable way, they get a “fuck you” for their troubles.

Why does the right always get their way, even when it’s detrimental to the American people?

Because everyone is telling liberals to shut the fuck up and go along to get along. That’s how we’ve ended up where we are now. It’s because of a systematic “STFU you liberals”, over the past 30 years. Liberals have been told to shut the fuck up by the far right, the middle, and (now) by you.

I understand the desire to have a boot on someone’s throat over this whole health care debate. But you need to recalibrate the GPS on that boot, and point it in the direction of a blue dog democrat that helped to undermine the efficacy of what we all collectively set out to do here.

Dennis Kucinich isn’t wrong here. He’s standing on principle, and that’s good for all of us. We need more principled people to govern us.

I’m ready to hold my nose and jump on the “pass this piece of shit bill” bandwagon because my optimism has been worn down. But I am NOT ready to attack people that are trying to make it better. Go after Stupak or one of his merry band of women haters to make up for Kucinich’s vote.

Going after another liberal and telling him to shut the fuck up is very bad short term thinking, and you should know better.

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If Rush Limbaugh Leaves the US, Americans Will Save Money

Rush Limbaugh promised to leave the US yesterday if health insurance reform passes. Watch the video here.

Personally, I say good riddance! I’m sick of Rush bleeding my wallet dry. Why do I say that? Well, I have a couple of reasons.

Let’s start with Rush’s well known drug addiction. Being the elitist that he is, Rush wasn’t addicted to street drugs. He was addicted to Lorcet, Norco and hydrocodone (among others). I make the distinction between being addicted to street drugs and being addicted to prescription drugs for a reason; an addiction to prescription drugs requires the drug user to abuse the health insurance system in order to maintain one’s addiction. You see, Rush had to go doctor shopping in at least 3 states in order to get the drugs that he so loves shoveling down his throat.

Health insurance is a system of pooled risk. Healthy people pay their premiums which subsequently go to pay for less healthy people’s medical costs. So when El Rushbo was defrauding the health insurance system to feed his addiction, he was siphoning money away from you and I.

On top of all of that doctor shopping, Rush still found himself short of that sweet spot of utterly dazed and confused that he so craved, so he sent his maid in Florida off with a cigar box full of cash to obtain black market prescription medications. So hundreds, maybe thousands of people were committing health insurance fraud in order to feed the black market with the pills that he desired. That translates into more of our money wasted.

But that’s not all. There’s a second way that Rush’s irresponsibility is bleeding us dry. Rush is unspeakably fat. Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against fat people. I was egregiously fat for most of my life, until I got over it 7 years ago. I have issues with fat people that talk to me about personal responsibility, since being overweight is directly linked to dozens of health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. If you’re going to point the finger of “personal responsibility” at others, you should expect to have that same finger pointed at you. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that people are going to be fine with paying for medical procedures that can be avoided by walking for 30 minutes a day. Maybe you should exercise a little self control before discussing your views on our health insurance system.

I will NOT listen to Rush spew that “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” crap while he’s being rushed to the hospital for chest pains that I’m helping to pay to treat. Get on a treadmill Rush, and THEN talk to me about personal responsibility. I swear to god, the last time that man saw his own penis, he was watching a porno on laser disk. I’ll make you a deal Rush – when you can actually see your own penis enjoying internet porn, I will actually see your threats to leave my country as a loss.

Until that happens, my wallet and I aren’t going to miss you at all.

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Insurance Industry Gone Wild

I know, I know, the health reform debate has gone on for an eternity. Seriously, I was a young girl with braces when it started. And I get that a million points have been made on this topic, and that making another one seems like beating a dead horse.

But I feel the need to make a point that only someone in my business can make.

I am an HR consultant. As part of my consultative services I assess and design benefits packages for my clients who are, for the most part, small businesses with 100 employees or less. I feel compelled to share my perspective on health insurance during this time of heated debate about health insurance reform.

For the past 9 years, I have received double digit rate increases from all of the insurance carriers that are available on the market to choose from. To put this in perspective, I would like to share some numbers with you. In 2002, the average cost of health insurance for an employee on an HMO was $155 per month. The rates that were quoted to me for the 2010 plan year put the cost at $566 per month. Now keep in mind that this new $566 a month plan has a higher doctor visit co-pay, a higher prescription co-pay, and a higher emergency room co-pay than the 2002 plan. It also has a much larger list of prescriptions that won’t be covered under the plan.

Three years ago, I decided to try a radical plan to reign in the rising costs. I designed the company plan around a very high deductible PPO option. In exchange for a very high deductible, the insurance company offers the subscriber lower premiums. “High deductible” means $2500.00 a year for a single subscriber, $4500.00 a year for a family. When I received the quotes for the company plan renewal plan last year, the cost difference between a standard HMO and a high deductible PPO was $1896 annually. So for an annual premium savings of $1896.00, the insurance company is offering you an up front gap in coverage of $2500.00.

Sounds like a terrible deal, right? Not necessarily. If you never use your health coverage, it’s a decent alternative because you’re saving on that monthly premium cost. That’s money that you spend whether you use your insurance coverage or not. If you have any sort of chronic illness, this is a terrible deal because you’re spending $2500 to save $1896! But this type of plan made sense at the time because most employees don’t use enough health insurance to meet the deductible, which the company reimburses. So the company saves money on monthly premiums and takes on the liability of reimbursing each person on the plan against their deductible. Keep in mind that premium money is spent whether someone uses their insurance or not. Reimbursements are only made when an employee goes to the doctor.

This plan actually did work to mitigate rising costs until now.

Remember those huge premium increases I told you about? Here’s what they translate to today; the monthly cost of a high deductible PPO plan today is more than double the cost of an HMO with no deductible in 2002. That traditional HMO plan now costs $20,000.00 per year, per family for small businesses.

The 2010 increase from Blue Shield of California is up 25% from 2009. The reason they cite? Too many COBRA subscribers on the plan. What does that mean? It means that you’re paying for COBRA when you’re on it, and you’re paying for COBRA when
you’re not on it because these increased premium costs are shared by both employer and employee. Insurance companies have figured out a way to turn a much needed federal requirement to provide COBRA, into an additional revenue stream for themselves.

Not disgusted enough yet? I just received information that Blue Shield is raising their rates for small groups (defined as being groups of less than 51 subscribers) by 65% for the 2010 plan year. You read that correctly, a sixty five percent increase on the smallest of small businesses.

These costs have become untenable for small businesses. So untenable that in a sluggish economy these costs can be the difference between staying alive to create more jobs when revenue improves, and closing up shop thereby adding to the unemployment numbers.

Most people agree that small business is the foundation for a strong, healthy US economy. Yet in a time when we need small business more than ever, our health insurance system is crushing small businesses and making it virtually impossible for entrepreneurs to venture out and start companies that ultimately create new jobs.

While we all hope that 2010 will bring us a stronger economy in these uncertain times, I am certain of one thing; my clients won’t be creating jobs anytime in the near future.
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