Archive for June 1st, 2009

by jhwygirl

Oh, how I love stuff like this.

Those K-boys are pretty fearless.


by sgt joe friday…(subbing for problembear)

max baucus’s ex-top aide lobbies for health care provider GE Healthcare…. ..

sen ted kennedy’s position paper on health care….

kennedy and baucus do not see eye to eye on health care reform…

baucus and kennedy try to work out their differences…

 check back for more facts after wednesday’s baucus meeting with single payer advocates….this is the city. missoula montana. i work here…i carry a badge. it was a windy day in missoula and the natives were restless. we were working congressional bunko….

GANNON: just one thing bothers me though, joe….

FRIDAY: yeah? what’s that?

GANNON : this problembear. are you sure we can trust him?

FRIDAY:what do you mean?

GANNON: well, he keeps his identity hidden.

FRIDAY: uh, huh…

GANNON: seems to get pretty worked up about stuff..

FRIDAY: uh, huh…

GANNON: what’s his beef with baucus? and what does he get out of all this?

FRIDAY: why don’t we ask him?

PROBLEMBEAR: hey, what’s all the commotion about?

FRIDAY: just a few questions. what’s with this health care caper? why all the histrionics?

PROBLEMBEAR:  “a lot of people’s lives are at stake here. we need to make sure that real reform really happens….You just don’t understand.”
FRIDAY: Maybe we do, son. Don’t think you have a corner on all the virtue vision in the country or that everyone else is fat and selfish and yours is the first generation to come along that’s felt dissatisfied–they all have, you know, about different things; and most of them didn’t have the opportunity and freedoms that you have.
“Let’s talk poverty. In most parts of the world, that’s not a problem, it’s a way of life. And rights? They’re liable to give you a blank stare because they may not know what you’re talking about.
“The fact is, more people are living better right here than anyone else ever before in history. So don’t expect us to roll over and play dead when you say you’re dissatisfied. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great deal better than when we grew up: a hundred men standing in the street hoping for one job; selling apples on the street corner– that’s one of the things we were dissatisfied about; and you don’t see that much anymore…”
GANNON: “You’re taller, stronger, healthier, and you live longer than the last generation; and we don’t think that’s altogether bad. You’ve probably never seen a ‘Quarantine’ sign on a neighbor’s door. Diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough–probably none of your classmates are crippled with polio. You don’t see many mastoid scars anymore.
“We’ve done quite a bit of fighting all around the world. Whether you think it was moral or not a lot of people are free to make their own mistakes today because of it. And that may just include you.”
FRIDAY: “I don’t know; maybe part of it’s the fact that you’re in a hurry. You’ve grown up on instant orange juice. Flip a dial–instant entertainment. Dial seven digits–instant communication. Turn a key–push a pedal-instant transportation. Flash a card–instant money. Shove in a problem–push a few buttons–instant answers.
“But some problems you can’t get quick answers for, no matter how much you want them.

                                                to be continued…..


by jhwygirl

Supermontanareporter John Adams writes in his newest blog out there on blogspot (called, aptly, The Lowdown) that Senator Baucus will be meeting in Washington on Wednesday with single-payer health care advocates.

Now – Baucus has met with single-payer advocates, but up until now, not high-profile. He not only left them off the table at a May 12th round table discussion, he had 5 protesters arrested. Now, even as I write that, it would be grossly negligent to point out that Senator Baucus has openly said that single-payer is off the table. He doesn’t – or didn’t – want to waste his time:

“We’ve got to reform our system fairly quickly, and to be candid with you, very few members of the House and Senate advocate single-pay. The vast, vast majority do not,” Baucus said in an interview Friday. “It tells me that if I go down that road, it’s not going to be successful — it’s not going to pass the Congress.”

Supermontana Great Falls reporter John S. Adams has hit this story numerous times (here, here, and here – at least) – as has Mike Dennison of Lee Newspapers (here). Vince Devlin, of the Missoulian, did a nice piece of coverage on the Senate Finance Committee’s public hearing in Pablo.

I’m sure there’s other stuff out there – and anything I’ve missed, please add a link in the comments below.

With Baucus at the forefront of health care reform, Adams and Dennison’s coverage is important. Columbia University’s Columbia Journalism Review points out that Montana reporters are leading the way to help bring single-payer advocates to the table in congressional discussions on health care reform.

The Columbia Journalism Review? That is a big WOW in the journalism world. Real big WOW.

Now – it’s hard living in Montana to understand the perspective out there in the rest of the U.S. with regards to single-payer, especially when our Senator is front-and-center – but when the Bill Moyers Journal is spending a full show addressing the issue, you gotta assume it’s taking notice.

Left in the West has wonkishly written extensively on the subject of health care reform. Substantive meat-and-potato stuff. Single-payer has been shown to have the largest amount of public support, but it is also said to be by most policy wonks and influential members in both the House and the Senate to be impossible to pass. I don’t know about that – I’m not a mind reader, nor do I play one on TV – but I do know that if you want to be taken seriously, you have to educate and inform yourself on the subject.

I got to thinking last week that Montanans have probably some of the most comprehensive access to influencing health care policy and reform as it moves forward. A call on Friday to a Senate Finance Committee staffer (via a helpful staffer at Baucus’ office in D.C.) has gone unreturned (but my call was Friday and it is only Monday), and I’ve no doubt that the guy is pretty busy. All I was looking for was a list of the public meetings held by other senators on the Senate Finance Committee in other states, but my verbal question was returned with a “I’m not aware that other senators have held any meetings.”

So, consider that folks: Your voice is helping to shape health care reform. It’s quite possible that your voice has had more of a forum than that of other citizens simply by nature of the public meetings that have been held in Montana over the last 5 or 6 months or so. St. Pat’s here in Missoula has hosted 2 or 3 at this point.

It’s important to be polite and civil. That’s not just advice about talking about health care – remember the adage ‘You get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar’? – but about life. Whether your are negotiating with the upstairs apartment across the street at 11 p.m. about turning down the music or you are telling your senators that you prefer single-payer, being nice about it goes a long way.

A while back I wrote about snark and its usefulness and how it can destroy. In a bad way. I certainly am not immune to writing some snarky post, and often I use a snarky headline just to grab attention in hopes I might get someone to read the fruits of my labor – but I do take quite the effort to be respectful, and to consider that I might one day be meeting with the people I write about (as has been the case). That doesn’t mean I won’t disagree – anyone who knows me knows that I’m not shy about disagreeing with them face-to-face – but it does mean I won’t be calling you an asshole. Or at least not likely. You really got to push the buttons several times for me to call you out.

I can hear Wulfgar! here thinking “Aww – come one – sometime people are assholes and you gotta tell ’em so,” and he’s right. Which makes me glad that Wulfgar! is around to balance the sanguine nature I sometimes work too hard at keeping front-and-center.

A while back Matt Singer posted up the newest reports out of the Senate Finance Committee on health care. It’s heavy reading – as he notes – and I’ve yet to get at it. What it all comes down to is cost, and that is the heart of the issue, and why it is sitting in Senate Finance.

I have said that I don’t really have a problem with a strong public option, where there is a government option on the board with which private insurers can compete against. While I get the single-payer advocates, certainly, and I’ve read truckloads on single-payer, one short statement from a someone I respect immensely has me questioning myself:

Mark my words, a public-private “balanced” plan will fail. The public plan will be inundated with low-income, elderly, sick, etc. people who can’t afford a private option. it’ll be a massive drain on the treasury, and the right-wingnuts will point to it and say, “See.”

Now – aside from the defeatist sense that might be taken from the statement, he may be right. Maybe we should be going all out single-payer. I’m pretty sure the math will show that the above statement is correct. Any actuaries out there would probably back that statement up.

Two articles popped up on the NYTimes over the weekend which illustrate the affect that single-payer advocates are having on the health care debate. This one writes to Senator Edward Kennedy’s counter proposal on health care which is described as a “robust public health care plan, a government-sponsored entity that would compete with private insurers,” while this brief post notes that it is likely that Senator Kennedy’s proposal and Senator Baucus’ proposal will likely merge at some point.

Single-payer advocates might want to take note. While writing letters, they might want to consider writing Senator Kennedy – who heads up the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – and they also might want to write letters to the editor to national papers like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Peace, my friends. Happy June!

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