Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

by jhwygirl

That’s from television host Jay Leno.

When mainstream network television is saying that in prime time…well, I’d have to say that those teabagger and anti-health reformers got problems.

That’s all.

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by JC

scofflaws
I’ve known that it would eventually come to this. Us single payer advocates liked the simplicity of the system: auto enrollment for all citizens. You get sick, or have an accident and need health care, you just go to the doctor or ER and get it. If you hadn’t signed up for the plan yet, that was no problem. You could do it at the point of health care delivery.

Now that single payer is no longer on the table, universal health care (or 94% universal in the Baucus plan) can only be achieved through coercion. Buy insurance–either private or through some nebulous, and yet to be contrived public option or coop–or pay a fine. Penalty. Whatever.

So we have been asked to accept the regressive notion of mandates, necessary to maintain the status quo of corporatism in private health care insurance monopolies, in order to (almost, kinda, sorta) achieve the progressive goal of universal health care.

This is where the libertarian streak in many of us progressives really starts to jump out, and to join forces with conservatives to question just what in the hell are democrats turning into?

You see, I’m against a mandate that is enforced through the IRS. Always have been–since I first read about it last year in Baucus’ white paper–and always will be. And I don’t like the government mechanism to assist those who can’t afford a private or public plan relying on the use of tax credits. There are far better ways of doing it.

Lower and middle income people with any sort of tax offset will never get the tax credits needed to buy the insurance–unless mandaters come up with a mechanism to bypass offsets, which I’ve never heard of the IRS doing. And I have yet to see a mechanism by which Baucus’ plan will guarantee credits to those with offsets.

Of course, there are those that will say that people with IRS offsets aren’t worthy enough to qualify for subsidies to help pay for insurance. A new “Uniquely American™” tale of two cities.

Basically, I’m against the IRS getting involved in health care in any fashion. Just doesn’t make sense, even when mandaters propose “exceptions.” See, there are going to be at least 6% uninsured in the faux nuevo universal care system that is being proposed and marked up as we read.

Are all 6% going to be given exemptions? Will the rest who are mandated, but unexempted be subject to fines? What will happen to non filers? Homeless and/or mentally ill? Round ’em up and ship them off to scofflaw and debtor jail-camps? Tattoo a “Need Not Apply” disclaimer on the arms of those living under bridges, or who have defaulted on student loans, have unpaid back taxes, or missed child support payments?

Dude, better get straight with the IRS quick, or they’ll have another way to strong-arm you into compliance.

In some ways I read into Baucus’ proposal a carrot-and-stick approach to bolstering IRS and tax law compliance. Health care being the carrot, and penalty, fine and jail being the stick. All hail the mighty IRS health care compliance cops. Let’s build an even more unjust system of haves and have nots. Piss off the IRS in any way, and you’ll just have to suffer the consequences of unaffordable, unsubsidized health insurance. Take that! Off with you!

In an exchange on George Stephanopolous’ “This Week” between Senator Chuck Grassley, Baucus, and Joint Committee on Taxation chief of staff, Thomas Barthold, we discover that the penalty for not submitting to mandation is in effect a penalty excise tax, enforceable under current IRS tax laws.

Grassley: It gets back to something that President Obama was speaking about on the Sunday talk shows, trying to say that it’s not true that the penalty for not getting insurance is a tax, referring to the individual mandate.

The mark before us makes it pretty clear that the penalty is a tax, it looks like the tax is now up to about $2,000 dollars a year, so Mr. Barthold, isn’t the penalty here an excise tax and won’t it affect people making under $250,000 dollars a year?

Barthold: Senator Grassley, the penalty proposed in the Chairman’s mark, is as you observed, it’s structured as a penalty excise tax, we have other penalty excise taxes in the internal revenue code…

We have not done a combined distribution analyses across income to specifically answer your question but to the extent that yes we think that some people would be subject to the penalty excise tax when everything shakes out we would expect that some would have incomes less than $200,000 dollars.

Baucus: Let me just say on that point, that’s an interesting question. This is really a penalty that’s being collected by the Internal Revenue Service…

And of course, if you flout those laws and don’t–or can’t–pay the penalty, you are subject to an up to $25,000 dollar fine, and 1 year in prison. To further illuminate this problem, Senator Ensign specifically asked Barthold about the penalty for not having insurance, the potential fine for not paying it, and ultimately jail time:

Under questioning from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Barthold said the IRS would “take you to court and undertake normal collection proceedings.”

And to underscore his point, Barthold provided Ensign with a hand written note to that effect, that I posted above.

On the bright side, I hear that you get free health care while in prison.

On the down side, it is so odd that I find myself siding with Senator’s Grassley and Ensign on this matter. How democrats ever wound up accepting such a regressive compromise as Baucus’ IRS mandated non-universal health care system, when one with auto enrollment made so much more sense is beyond me. Well, beyond me until I read Baucus’ campaign finance reports, that is.

I hope that some fine progressives in the House find a way to do away with the regressive nature of this system, and work to fix it. Otherwise, the feds are going to have to figure out a way to pay for and provide lots of free health care via the government run federal penitentiary system–a true single payer system, if ever there was one. And I guess you get a hot meal and place to sleep with that, too.

by Pete Talbot

I was relieved when I heard that Dustin Frost had come out of his coma. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll know that Dustin was the most seriously injured in a boating accident earlier this month. Also injured in the crash were Rep. Denny Rehberg, another of Rehberg’s staff (besides Dustin), the boat’s driver (State Senator Greg Barkus) and Barkus’ wife.

Recovery from a head injury can be a long and arduous process. How does a family cover the costs? This, from the Montana Kaimin story:

… the creation of “Team Ginger” attire to raise money for the “Family and Friends of Dustin Frost Fund,” which will assist with medical expenses …

I’m not sure what the “Team Ginger” alludes to. Maybe someone can explain this in the comments. The “Team Ginger” refers to Dustin’s red hair. Apparently its usage comes from South Park television episodes. A “Team Ginger” logo is on merchandise available to the public at this website.

Here’s the irony — at least for me. Rehberg is fighting any meaningful health care reform tooth-and-nail. He likes things the way they are. And this status quo? It means you have to sell t-shirts, baseball caps and other paraphernalia to pay your medical bills.

Now I’m sure Rehberg’s most excellent, taxpayer-subsidized health care will cover the majority of the costs related to his injury. Regular folks, however, face financial ruin when suffering a serious injury or other health problems. Or I guess they can sell t-shirts to help make ends meet.

by jhwygirl

Lotsa links, and looks to be what appears a comprehensive summary of the current amendments.

This article, from the Washington Post, is quite lengthy, but it does a great job of trying to quantify the actual costs of health care – the costs that seem to be lost on many. It uses the Kaiser Foundation’s 2009 Employer Benefits Survey as its basis. Most people recognize the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation as a well-respected, non-partisan source for health insurance and health industry analysis.

The Kaiser Health News is a daily must-read for me, and I’ve had a link up over there under “Citizen’s Info” for quite some time.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has proposed a five-member Health Care Services Commission and an Office of the Forum for Quality and Effectiveness in Health Care (how’s that for panels, folks?), which would be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

What do you think is meant to happen when those panels and commissions come to the conclusion that certain things aren’t covered, or aren’t reimbursed enough?

Coburn’s proposal mirrors what happened in the House for HB3200 – Republicans offered up amendments at the speed of sound that added cost and expanded both coverage and oversight.

That’s what people call “making sausage.” Now the key is to keep track of what’s going in – and as one person I know recently noted – keep the pig’s ears and other undesirable parts (he used other words) out.

Of course – he was saying that they already went in to the Baucus bill and it’s hard to get ’em out….

by JC

A new study published online yesterday by the American Journal of Public Health brings to the fore the stark reality of undertaking underwriting in America. Modern insurance corporation underwriting has become the de novo death panel of the 21st century.

While tea baggers spent the month of August crying about how health care reform was going to pull the plug on grandma, and Sarah Palin breathed life into lies about government death panels, almost 4,000 Americans died prematurely because of lack of health care stemming from no health insurance. I have before, and will continue to lay the blame at the feet of those who fight against true health care reform.

It is unforgivable that this nation continues to struggle to provide the basic human necessity of health care to its citizens. While insurance reforms may, if successful, lead to a lowering of this number, that will be cold comfort to the hundreds of thousands of families that will have had to bury their loved ones before their time.

According to HarvardScience:

The study, conducted at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance, found that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts, up from a 25 percent excess death rate found in 1993.

“The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health,” said lead author Andrew Wilper, M.D., who currently teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We doctors have many new ways to prevent deaths from hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease — but only if patients can get into our offices and afford their medications.”

The study, which analyzed data from national surveys carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), assessed death rates after taking into account education, income, and many other factors, including smoking, drinking, and obesity. It estimated that lack of health insurance causes 44,789 excess deaths annually…

Deaths associated with lack of health insurance now exceed those caused by many common killers such as kidney disease. An increase in the number of uninsured and an eroding medical safety net for the disadvantaged likely explain the substantial increase in the number of deaths, as the uninsured are more likely to go without needed care. Another factor contributing to the widening gap in the risk of death between those who have insurance and those who do not is the improved quality of care for those who can get it.

“Historically, every other developed nation has achieved universal health care through some form of nonprofit national health insurance. Our failure to do so means that all Americans pay higher health care costs, and 45,000 pay with their lives.” — Steffie Woolhandler, study co-author, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a primary care physician at Cambridge Health Alliance

by JC

bride of baucus

It was only a matter of time till Baucus heeded the deadlines that President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reed set out, and dumped his bill into the Finance Committee. In an 18 page press release (didn’t anybody ever teach these guys PR 101), Max outlined the framework of his bill. You also can read the Chairman’s Mark, if you are so inclined to sift through the 223 page Mark.

I’ve often said that Max Baucus positions himself in the middle of a legislative battle in such a way that he gauges the success of his compromising by the degree to which he offends the most people on both sides of his position. To that end, I’d say that Max must be celebrating a huge victory tonight, as it seems that he has not been able to garner any positive political support from either democrats or republicans.

But I think that a good place to begin the debate over Baucus’ efforts comes from HCAN, Health Care for America Now!, a “a national grassroots campaign of more than 1,000 organizations in 46 states representing 30 million people dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care.”

What did HCAN! have to say about Baucus’ bill today?

“The Baucus bill is a gift to the insurance industry that fails to meet the most basic promise of health care reform: a guarantee that Americans will have good health care that they can afford. The Baucus bill would give a government-subsidized monopoly to the private insurance industry to sell their most profitable plans – high-deductible insurance – without having to face competition from a public health insurer.

Under the Baucus bill, employers would have no responsibility to help pay for their workers’ coverage and would be given incentives to have workers pay more for barebones insurance. Americans who don’t get health benefits through work would still not be able to get good, affordable coverage.

We urge Senators on the Finance Committee to replace the Baucus plan with legislation that will do what the Senate HELP Committee and three House committees have done: guarantee that Americans have good health insurance that they can afford with the choice of a strong national public health insurance option.”

So now that Max has failed at appeasing the GOP in an attempt to secure at least one vote (after he had crowed about getting 75-80 senators to sign on to his efforts), it appears that his bill will have to undergo a severe transplant in order to make it out of the Senate Finance Committee, and for the Senate to move forward.

In other news, the stock market took kindly to the Baucus/Wellpoint bill with a 3% surge in health insurer stocks on news of the bill’s release.

insurer profits

Quid pro quo at its worst.

by jhwygirl

This one comes via problembear’s goddamnedindependents – who I might add had this news up a full 24 hours or more before the regular media even whispered it.

And whisper it they did – I mean, how many of you have heard this story, even now?

Crystal Lee Sutton, 68 – the woman who inspired the movie Norma Raepassed away September 11th from brain cancer.

Sutton had been diagnosed with meniginoma, which is typically a slow-growing cancer that is coupled with benign tumors. That was not the case, unfortunately, for Sutton, as she was denied possible life-saving treatment for two months.

Sutton had been a union organizer and woman right’s activist in the 70’s, who was harassed and jailed for her humanitarian efforts. Sadly, she ended up also having to fight to expose the abuses of the health insurance industries when she was denied coverage.

“How in the world can it take so long to find out (whether they would cover the medicine or not) when it could be a matter of life or death,” she said. “It is almost like, in a way, committing murder.”

This is no isolated incident – and one might even deduce that the only reason Ms. Sutton got her medication because the AFL-CIO brought attention to her plight.

One of the harder things, I think, that this health insurance reform issue faces is bringing these stories forward. All the crazy racist vile teabaggers make it even worse – it’s hard enough to lay open your vulnerabilities, yet alone to have to face situations like this. Or this.

Norma Rae

Norma Rae fought the good fight. God Rest Her Beautiful Soul.

by jhwygirl

Rehberg’s hypocrisy never ends. We lefties in the blogosphere have been making sure for years that ya’all stay painfully awash in Denny Rehberg’s hypocrisy. Left in the West has pulled out scores of examples over the years. Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, too, has scores of posts on Rehberg, including this one on his drunken sailor spending.

Drunken sailor. LOL. Damned Pogie – you’re good.

And of course, we here at 4&20 love ol’ Denny Rehberg too – most recently pointing out how he loves the free market until he doesn’t love it.

But today? Lord. What a friggin’ hypocrite.

How soon is November 2, 2010?

Just over a year ago, in the beginning of August, Rep. Denny Rehberg headed back to Washington D.C., along with a bunch of fellow Joe Wilsons, demanding that Nancy Pelosis call back congress and allow votes to open the U.S. coastlines to drilling.

Drill baby Drill! Remember that?

Well – Rehberg took the train back to D.C. this time and has apparently decided that in order to get something done about health insurance reform what needs to be done is for congress to go into another 30-day recess.

Yep. In August 2008 it was Drill baby, drill. NOW.

Health Care Now? That can wait until October 2009.

~~~~~~~
Maybe Rehberg saw the numbers after Obama’s speech last night. In this focus group support for reform jumped by 50%. The number of those that support Obama’s initiative to reform health care? 53% before the speech – 67% after. That’s a 26% increase.

Of those that did NOT support reform before Obama’s “game-changing” speech? That number dropped from 36% before the speech to 29% after the speech. That’s a 20% loss in teabaggers.

Those numbers from the fabulous Keith Olbermann

Amazing what a little truth and sunshine can do in such a short amount of time, isn’t it?

by jhwygirl

I missed 3/4 of it. My dog up and tried to kill himself, which involved 2 doctors, some hydrogen peroxide and plenty of reassurance that “he’ll probably just be real drowzy” and “keep him away from beer.”

So anything ya’ll add will be more than what I saw.

I hear he called for a public option.

I hear Joe Wilson loudly yelled “liar” from the seats – there’s pics of that – http://twitpic.com/h5hgo and http://twitpic.com/h5hef

Anyway…if you’d be so kind, I’ll be grateful.

by JC

Consumer Watchdog calls the Baucus/Wellpoint Plan “Deregulation of State Consumer Protection Laws”

It seems that Senator Max Baucus’ “Wellpoint Plan” has hit a snag as his framework was released yesterday, in a last ditch effort to recapture the limelight and lead on health care reform.

Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake moved this story down the field a bit by picking up where we left off and discovering a connection between the Wellpoint Plan and the plan Blue Dog Mike Ross offered up on Co-ops back in July, when supposedly nobody knew what was up:

If Fowler did indeed write the draft plan, then how did the same framework and language find its way into an amendment submitted by Blue Dog Mike Ross in July?

Jon Walker finds that “the two documents are almost identical and and sometimes use the exact same wording”…

Walker goes on to note that “at the time Ross’ amendment was submitted many Democratic senators and congressmen were both concerned and confused by Conrad’s co-ops idea. It seemed that Conrad was not sharing with most of his own party what his idea of co-ops would really be, but some how Rep. Ross was provided the document.”

Jane puts together an excellent timeline showing how the behind-the-scenes charade was conducted.

Daily Kos then extends the story by showing how Baucus’ Wellpoint Plan will gut state-level insurance industry regulations:

Max Baucus’ plan had the name of Liz Fowler, a former WellPoint VP who now works for the Finance Committee, in the metadata. When you have WellPoint personnel instrumental in writing the laws, you get little provisions like this:

Interstate Sale of Insurance. Starting in 2015, states may form “health care choice compacts” to allow for the purchase of non-group health insurance across state lines. Such compacts may exist between two or more states. Once compacts have been formed, insurers would be allowed to sell policies in any state participating in the compact. Insurers selling policies through a compact would only be subject to the laws and regulations of the state where the policy is written or issued.

This is something that conservatives have been begging to do for years. Even the most outgunned conservative on a talking head debate can vomit up “let people take their insurance across state lines to increase competition!” It sounds reasonable. But there’s a very good reason why it would quickly turn into a nightmare, and you can see it in the examples of Delaware and South Dakota.

Both of those states have essentially no regulations on credit card companies. When legislation passed allowing banks to issue credit cards across state lines, some states started wildly deregulating their credit card markets in a race to the bottom. South Dakota and Delaware won. And now practically all credit cards are issued from those two states.

So not only is Max doing Wellpoint’s dirty work, he is giving the republicans a dearly sought-after concession. And just what has he gotten from republicans for that bone? As far as I can tell, nothing. Not even one single republican agreeing to sign on to his framework.

Moving on, Consumer Watchdog released a report today criticizing Wellpoint’s Baucus Plan as being a defacto “deregulation of state consumer protection laws”:

A “framework plan” released today by the so-called “Group of Six” Senators negotiating a health reform bill headed by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) would open the door to gutting state laws. The plan would result in a “race to the bottom” in health care regulation by allowing insurance companies that participate in “health care compacts” to choose the weakest state law to govern all their policies, regardless of which state the policies are sold in. Currently, insurance companies must abide by the state laws of any state where they sell insurance. The Baucus plan resembles an industry proposal carried by Mike Enzi (R-WY) in 2006…

I’m sure we’ll have more details as this story unfolds in Baucus’ haste to sell out become relevant again.

by JC

In case you don’t understand what Max is saying, here is a transcript. Read along!:

“I’m just hopeful that when the president gives his statement tomorrow night that that’s going to help move the ball forward, and very expeditiously. Because we, the rubber is starting to meet the road here. We’re gonna have to start fishing or cut the bait pretty soon and I made that very, very clear to the group. And, um, so, on the one hand I want to work get a solution, and on the other hand I want to make it clear that we’re just not going to dally, we’re not going to dawdle…”

Hope that’s all crystal clear.

And this is the guy who was supposed to reform our health care system?

by JC

“The reason that I have a lot of friends is ’cause I got to give away money.”

Taxpayer money, that is.

Well, it was only a matter of time until the truth outs. The above quote is from Liz Fowler, one time Baucus staffer, then Wellpoint VP, whom Baucus hired on last year as “Senior Counsel to the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee.”

For those who may not recognize Wellpoint, they are the Blue Cross overlord for over 35 million people–the larget insurer in America. Here’s the outing:

Take a look at the document properties of the pdf that ew links to above. The author is Liz Fowler. The Liz Fowler who was vice president for public policy and external affairs for Wellpoint, the nation’s second-largest health-insurance company, until she re-joined Baucus’ staff in Feb. 2008. She had done an earlier stint with Baucus from 2000-2005.

It seems that the pdf that Baucus just released with his 18 page framework for health insurance ‘reform’ lists Liz Fowler as the author.

Liz Fowler, as some know, was the staffer that left Baucus’ office in 2005 to pursue a stint at Wellpoint. Whereupon she returned and was tasked with pushing current reform efforts through the Senate Finance committee.

This is an egregious example of the revolving door in D.C. that is emblematic of the corrupt, corporate, big money morass that has become known as our current Congress. Not only does our senior Senator wash himself in corporate and lobbyist health care dollars, he takes on one of their own to write his legislation for him, and to assist with a backdoor PR campaign to push Congress in his direction.

fowler
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread

James Conner of the Flathead Memo writes of a loophole in the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2009. It’s an interesting read, in case any of you missed it.

Imagine No Cars, a Missoula blog, recently celebrated its 100th post.

Billings Blog and The Button Valley Bugle have been kicking blog butt on healthcare: here, here, here, and here.

Frankly – there is so much good stuff over at both of those places, I get lost on the intertubes for hours when I start over there.

I’m rarely shocked – but a study which shows that 90% of all U.S. currency is tainted with cocaine sticks out for the high numbers. What city is higher? A few are right up there at 100%, but Washington D.C.? 95%.

These numbers might be a surprise too: Montana numbers on health care reform, Baucus, and his re-election potential.

Feral Cat brings us the news that Mad As Hell Doctors will be coming through both Missoula and Helena this upcoming week….on Thursday, September 10th. Be sure to follow these single-payer doctors from Portland on twitter.

OK, howz about some authoritative outrage over something else that deserves the wrath….

Robert Reich rants on how banking and investment oversight and reform is being proactively ignored by the Treasury department.

Amen, brother.

On that note, The Center for Public Integrity has released its investigative study into the subprime mess. 25 main lenders, who are collectively responsible for nearly a trillion in subprime lending from 2005 – 2007, are now being stabilized by Wall Street banks that are receiving bailout funds.

The super-rich are becoming poorer for the first time in decades.

Doug sums it up well over at The Montana Misanthrope: FWP took a huge crap on Montanans with its handling of a poaching investigation. I have to admit, I didn’t understand the why so many were so upset, afterall, undercover agents sometimes have to commit some crimes to catch the criminals – but when I read author Allen M. Jones’ take on the killing over at NewWest, I found myself disgusted.

The Beaverhead County Democratic Party has been updating its website, and its looking great. They’ve added a page for our infamous congressional Representative Denny Rehberg.

Finally? You really must read this: Recession Resistant Jobs, from the Missoula Independent. HI-larious. Just what are recession resistant jobs? Nurses (check – everyone’s still gonna get sick)….pot dealers (check – people are gonna want their pot, just like their gonna want their beer)…and morticians (yep – the recession isn’t going to stave on dyin’, that’s for sure). There’s more….don’t miss it.

Just one local observation: I was heading out to I-90 the other day, taking the evil Reserve Street exit. Noticed that there is a new (?) Sean Kelly’s Pub up there. Looks like a significant remodel, in the least. How long’s that been open? I don’t remember even hearing about it and I’m sure it didn’t sprout up over night.

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone. Enjoy, be safe…be kind. Peace.

by JC

Last week on Bill Maher’s Real Time, Bill Moyers, in a special “The Conscience of a Nation” edition, laid out a beautiful progressive’s analysis of the Obama administration’s struggling efforts to reconcile its legislative health care efforts with the progressive base’s demands. I think that Moyers’ words speak for themselves, so I’ll leave it up to you to watch, with but one comment. I want to offer up a quote about fighting principled battles, as it seems to be a recurring theme of debate:

“You Have to Lose Sometimes, in Order to Win”

What he was referring to was Truman’s losing battle for Medicare in 1948. But because he lost what Moyers termed “a principled victory” the nation was able to eventually move forward years later to do the right thing: get the whole loaf instead of just a half loaf, which he asserts is not enough to feed everybody. Medicare was born.

The analogy to today’s fight for universal health care was unmistakeable. Without coming right out and saying it, he intimated that progressives must hold fast to their principles. That if you hold your progressive values, that by losing the battle, you will have won a principled victory, and that eventually a better solution will prevail. If you want true universal health care, or single payer, then don’t settle for what we currently are being sold through our corporatist legislative process.

Enjoy the words of one of today’s most eloquent progressives.

This is part one. Moyers’ comments about principled progressive victories comes just after the 9:00 mark. You can watch part 2 and part 3 via the YouTubifier. The whole thing is definitely worth watching, if at all you are interested in a true progressive’s perspective on fighting great national policy battles.

by jhwygirl

Who hasn’t seen this?

convenience store health insurance

America has the best health care system in the world?

I think not.

by jhwygirl

I should just start calling them fascists – after all, they’re advocating that U.S. government prop up and protect the health insurance industry at the expense of the citizens of the United States…but I digress.

First up, we have a wheelchair bound woman in Red Bank, New Jersey trying – vallantly, I might add – to speak in support of health reform at a public meeting held by New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone. She explains that she has been diagnosed with two auto-immune deficiency diseases..that she’s worked hard all her life..and that she is afraid that she won’t be able to pay her property taxes and will lose her home. She sits in the wheelchair, attempting to speak over the jeers of the crowd, holding the hand of a male friend.

NJ.com has the video.

Remember – a similar incident occurred here in Hamilton Montana recently, when Rep. Denny Rehberg allowed the crowd of tea-baggers heckle a wheelchair-bound woman who was merely holding a sign in support of reform.

Second up we have Kansas Representative Lynn Jenkins, who – at her town hall meeting just the other day – laughed off a 27 year-old waitress who, standing just feet from her, spoke of not being able to afford a doctor for her 2 1/2 year-old son.

Afterward, Smith said her son hasn’t been to a doctor in 21 months, except for emergency room visits for ear infections, because she can’t afford either insurance or a doctor’s visit.

“I am frustrated,” she said. “In a functioning, civil society, people take care of each other.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Heres the thing, Sen. Jon Tester and Sen. Max Baucus – you don’t negotiate with people like this. Whether they dress in suits, like Sen. Chuck Grassley and say things like “The Obama Plan has death panels” or whether they hold signs at public meetings calling pro-reformers communists. As Congressman Barney Frank said: You might as well be talking to table.

Someone needs to sit these people down and tell them that if they can’t be nice and quit telling lies, they won’t be part of the conversation.

Kindergarten teachers do it everyday. Maybe we need to send a few out to Washington D.C. to teach them how it’s done.

Bring in the clowns!

by Jay Stevens

Whoa! As if to underscore how friggin’ out there intellectual support for anti-reform is, enter Paul Hsieh:

Hence, if Bill makes more money than Joe and can purchase a $500 MRI scan that Joe can’t, then Bill deserves it. That’s not rationing, that’s justice — just as it’s not rationing if Bill can afford a house while Joe must live in an apartment, or if Bill can afford steak whereas Joe eats hamburgers.

Of course, neither living in apartment or eating burgers may directly lead to Joe’s death…but hey! Income level is a true measure of a person’s inherent value, right?…Right?

Damn! And this guy is a doctor!

by Jay Stevens

Here’s an op-ed from last week, from Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s Democratic Party candidate for Prime Minister, that’s worth taking a look at:

The economic order in any country is built up over long years and reflects the influence of traditions, habits and national lifestyles. But globalism has progressed without any regard for non-economic values, or for environmental issues or problems of resource restriction.

If we look back on the changes in Japanese society since the end of the Cold War, I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the global economy has damaged traditional economic activities and destroyed local communities.

In terms of market theory, people are simply personnel expenses. But in the real world people support the fabric of the local community and are the physical embodiment of its lifestyle, traditions and culture. An individual gains respect as a person by acquiring a job and a role within the local community and being able to maintain his family’s livelihood.

Under the principle of fraternity, we would not implement policies that leave areas relating to human lives and safety — such as agriculture, the environment and medicine — to the mercy of globalism.

Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our attention on those non-economic values that have been thrown aside by the march of globalism. We must work on policies that regenerate the ties that bring people together, that take greater account of nature and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child-rearing support, and that address wealth disparities.

Hatoyama’s concern is foreign policy, and urges the United States to abandon its recent desire to set itself up at the center of a “free market” capitalistic and global hegemony – and putting itself at odds with a multi-polar block of midsize countries looking to retain their own national identities and avoid getting crushed by runaway globalization. I like the advice, but whatever.

But what Hatoyama describes as conflicting forces – unbridled global corporate capitalism set against communities – seems spot on and vitally important. And it seems to me the real division in American politics, a division that spans political party – although offhand I can’t think of any national-level Republicans that oppose this destructive form of global greed – forms around the forces described by Hatoyama. Healthcare reform, climate change legislation, credit card reform, etc & co, are all issues that pit large corporate interests against the health and well-being of everyday citizens and the viability of our communities.

And pro-corporate unfettered market capitalism has subsumed the Republican party and its base, and stripped it of any meaning or usefulness. Check out this interview with Sam Tanenhaus on the death of conservatism as a “vital, contributive force.” Tanenhaus – quite rightly, IMHO – calls the contemporary conservative movement the “politics of resentment, anger, and revenge”; today’s dominant conservative force is one that has no notion of the use of government for the benefit of society. In short, it’s completely devoid of any positive vision and utilized solely as an opposition movement to block any meaningful policies that oppose corporate dominance. The only conservative intellectual basis for corporate control – fiscal libertarianism – is a kind of rhetorical moebius strip that views people – with all of their cultures and traditions and illogical nature of contentment – as inconvenient and unwanted contaminants in their otherwise perfect economic theories.

All that’s left for discourse from the right are Obama Hitler posters.

You object? Read this blog post from Eric Ethridge about the state of our “meritocracy.” Here’s a quote pulled from it that originated with the AmPro’s Adam Serwer:

Last week, Greg Mankiw wrote a post casually asserting that people with “good genes” make lots of money and pass their intelligence off to their kids who then get high SAT scores. John Sides and Brad DeLong demolished Mankiw’s argument, but I think Mankiw’s assumption is informative here: The right doesn’t mind privilege being retained, by whatever means, within those groups that already have it, because it proves their theories about meritocracy. But when someone like Sonia Sotomayor goes from the South Bronx to Princeton valedictorian to the Supreme Court, it forces the question of how much people of privilege depend on their circumstances — their financial and social advantages — to succeed rather than their ability or intelligence. That’s uncomfortable for some people to think about, and it’s part of why Sonia Sotomayor provokes outrage over “merit,” while glaring examples of preferential treatment for the privileged do not.

And it’s conservative rhetoric and activism that opposes any reforms that make our society more egalitarian, that batter down the economic and social obstacles to success, that protect communities from the unthinking love of profit.

Not that I think middle- and working-class supporters of conservatism view themselves as privileged or elite – nor are they. I think they see things like affirmative action or funding of the Indian Health Service or single-payer health insurance as a drag on their own fragile domestic economies and an unfair additional obstacle to their own well-being. Of course, they miss the holistic benefits of these policies – cheaper health insurance, say, or less taxpayer money spent on severe health problems endemic to reservations. I also think the years of civil rights struggles for women, racial minorities, gays, etc. have caused blue collar whites to believe (helpfully pushed by GOP politicos) that progressive policies are intended to benefit someone else, at their expense.

I ramble. The point here is that we are at a crucial period of American political history, and we need to seize this time to make crucial reform. Healthcare reform is the first – and it needs to affect everyone positively, or else it’ll reaffirm fears that progressives and liberals care only about someone else.

And, honestly? I’m not doing all this writing and advocacy and activism for someone else. I’m doing it for me. I need health insurance reform. I need cheaper bills, and I need my insurers to honor their obligations, and I need to know that, if my children have a medical emergency, it won’t bankrupt the family.

by jhwygirl

Anti-health insurance reformers have repeated, in comments to posts on this blog a number of versions of “Get a job!” as if everyone supporting reform isn’t holding down a full-time job.

I have trouble fathoming the utter ignorance to the very world/community that these live within. Do they think that all – and I mean all – employers pay employees enough to buy insurance on the market? Or do they believe that by and large employers provide health insurance? I mean, I’m really having trouble understanding comments like this.

Beyond that – are they completely unaware of the exponentially rising cost of health care? Do they consider how long that their own employers will be able to maintain real health care coverage? Not huge deductibles that render a policy to catastrophic coverage?

From the Government Accounting Office, 2001:
Small businesses, with fewer than 50 employess, make up 3/4 of America’s private establishments and 1/3 of the private sector workforce

In 1998, 96% of employers with more than 50 employees provided health coverage while only 71% of employers with 10 – 49 employees provide coverage. Employers with less than 10 employees only provide insurance 36% of the time.

Now – think about that. That’s 1998. But think about this: How many businesses do you deal with in any given week that employee less than, say, 20 employees. The coffee shop – the Thai restaurant – the towing company. A small non-chain convenience store/gas station. Maybe a small non-profit? The chances of them offering health care to those employees? Those employees you chat up…those working-40-hours-a-week people?

The likelihood – and this is a 1998 statistic, mind you – of those businesses offering health insurance hangs down there around 40%.

And what about that 71% figure for those employing 10 to 49 employees? What are they doing? Much the same as that 4% leftover from the large (50+ employees) business: Making sure that their employees are working no more than 32 hours per week so that they can avoid offering them benefits.

There’s the “contracting” bit that beauty salons, barber shops, and wholesale distributors use…

Yeah – it’s a funny world out there.

More from the 2001 GAO report:
Employees and employers, of both large and small businesses pay basically the same for health insurance….with small employers paying slightly more (keeping in mind, again – 1998 figures – but

Small employers get less insurance for their investment, and employees of these small employers must contribute more via higher out-of-pocket expenses.

So, small employers – when they do provide health insurance (remember, only about 40% do – will pay more for what they provide with less benefits and coverage, and their employees will pay higher deductibles.

The assumptive insult by naysayers that someone needs to get ‘a real job’ to get health care is completely ignorant to the realities and needs of people employed across rural towns coast to coast.

People that you deal with every day. People that – if you ask – don’t have health care. You might be shocked if you asked.

by Jay Stevens

From Salish Kootenai chair James Steele’s excellent op-ed on health care reform:

My other interest relates to a recent visit by a Fox News reporter to an Indian reservation in South Dakota. He made the argument that if the IHS couldn’t provide decent health care there, how could the federal government do so nationally? This is the first I had heard of Fox News being concerned about the health of the American Indian people. The crocodile tears they shed were not only disingenuous but a continuation of their misleading attacks on anything Obama. They were comparing apples to oranges. On the reservations they visited, the federal government, through the IHS, is providing direct care with federally employed doctors and nurses.

If the debate in Washington was over the question of whether we should have nationalized health care then comparisons to the IHS might be interesting and educational. That is not what is on the table and Fox knows better. What is pending is legislation that would, among its other positive components, prohibit insurance companies from cancelling policies when their customers get sick. Isn’t that something we would all want to see?

Although Steele didn’t say it, I will: if we had nationalized health care for everyone, including Anglos, we wouldn’t be talking about a lack of funding…

Anyway, read the whole thing. Steel makes an excellent argument on why we need health care reform, and why we need it this session of Congress…

by Jay Stevens

You won’t believe the latest from Bozeman’s PERC. Un-frickin’-believable. In it, Terry Anderson roasts the Indian Health Service:

Unfortunately, Indians are not getting healthier under the federal system. In 2007, rates of infant mortality among Native Americans across the country were 1.4 times higher than non-Hispanic whites and rates of heart disease were 1.2 times higher. HIV/AIDS rates were 30% higher, and rates of liver cancer and inflammatory bowel disease were two times higher. Diabetes-related death rates were four times higher. On average, life expectancy is four years shorter for Native Americans than the population as a whole….

Anderson rags on IHS for another four paragraphs – higher disease rates on reservations, personal stories of medical malpractice in IHS clinics, wasted equipment, etc & co.

You know, a lot of this criticism is valid.

Here’s the kicker, though. Anderson points to “tribal contracting” as a possible panacea to IHS’ woes, and ends his op-ed with this line:

At a time when Americans are debating whether to give the government in Washington more control over their health care, some of the nation’s first inhabitants are moving in the opposite direction.

A. The IHS is socialized health care. There’s no socialized health care in the proposed Congressional reform. Comparing IHS to the proposed reform is like comparing apples to math. It’s dumb. Or it’s deliberately misleading. Choose your poison.

B. PERC – another Bozeman “free market” “think tank” – just touted replacing one socialized health care system with another…that still uses federal dollars. Is Anderson’s point here that we should have socialized medicine for all, funded by federal dollars, but run by local government? Really? I suspect Anderson’s just using this op-ed to trash any federal involvement in health care, and going a roundabout way of promoting privatized health care systems. But…

C. The problems that plague IHS are much more complicated than simply that the federal government is involved. Why, read this June AP report from Clare Jalonick – which, apparently, Anderson liberally cribbed from for his WSJ op-ed – on the state of IHS, which points to a whole bunch of reasons for IHS’ failures that stem largely around funding. IHS simply is not funded well enough to do its job. (According to this AP report, IHS is only half-funded.)

And there are reasons. Native Americans, historically with little political clout, see their programs get cut first. Many Western reservations are in rural areas and suffer the same problems that all rural areas do: few doctors and staff to work at clinics. Rural medicine is also less efficient because of the distance patients have to travel to be treated – or sent by ambulance to be treated by hospitals that IHS contracts out to.

The point here is that it’s not federal bureaucracy that’s the only, or even leading, problem. Imagine, if you will, how healthcare treatment would work if the IHS were privatized, and Native Americans responsible for their own insurance and health care – when the poverty rate is triple that of the rest of the United States, and treatment would have to be more expensive in order to fully staff clinics. Oh, and private insurers’ administrative costs triple that of government insurance programs, and with pay-for-service medicine at private hospitals driving up health care costs. Sure, the IHS is working poorly – but does anyone believe a private system would be better funded and produce better results for Native Americans?

Or, as Gwen Florio writes of Anderson’s piece, “These arguments make us a little queasy because they’ll inevitably be used as support to continued underfunding of IHS.”

Indeed.

Jay Stevens

Jhwygirl brought up tort reform yesterday as a possible salve for rising health care costs, and quoted Governor Dean as saying it wasn’t in the bill because reformists didn’t want to fight too many enemies, including trial lawyers.

Probably what’s more likely is that Dean knows tort reform is bogus, but acted friendly towards it because the rising cost of malpractice insurance p*sses off doctors. But here’s the deal: high payouts aren’t the culprits for rising malpractice insurance costs, it’s (surprise!) private insurers who are to blame.

Some facts.

First of all, tort reform has had no effect on so-called “defensive medicine,” the over-treating of a patient (with loads o’ unnecessary procedures) to avoid malpractice suits:

A team at the University of Alabama looked into this last year. Their survey of studies related to malpractice insurance, defensive medicine and consumer health insurance premiums looked at 27 states with limits on non-economic damages, including Texas.

Their conclusion – “Tort reforms have not led to health care cost savings for consumers” – was published in the December issue of Health Sciences Review.
“It’s had a really small effect, or else it doesn’t seem to change defensive medicine,” said Michael Morrisey, a professor of health economics and health insurance and the director of the university’s Lister Hill Center for Health Policy.

(Update: A reader emailed and noted that periodical carrying the U of Alabama report was in “Health Services Research.” Here’s the citation:

Morrisey, M.A., Kilgore, M.L., and Nelson, L.J., “Medical Malpractice Reform and Employer Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums,” Health Services Research 43[6]:2124-2142 [December 2008])

(One possible answer as to why “defensive medicine” still proceeds can be found in Atul Gawande’s oft-cited piece, “The Cost Conundrum.” It’s the private hospitals seeking profit spurring on their doctors to pursue expensive treatments.)

Secondly, tort reform has no effect on the cost of malpractice insurance. Even insurance-friendly studies show variable outcomes in capping non-economic damages in malpractice cases. But nowhere is there evidence these lowered malpractice rates translate into lower healthcare costs, just higher profits for insurers and healthcare providers.

And getting away from economics, what kind of effect does tort reform have on patient care? According to Matt Jerzyk, quoting The Journal of the American Medical Association, “medical errors are the THIRD leading cause of death in the United States.” This problem is so serious and pervasive – yet rarely discussed – that Hearst newspaper reporters banded together to create “Dead by Mistake,” a website dedicated to medical errors and promoting better medical reporting procedures to help identify and avoid common mistakes.

Nowhere in this site do reporters advocate giving health care providers a disincentive to offer good patient care. If anything, the incentive for doctors to treat patients with procedures instead of patient care likely contributes to medical malpractice. That is, it’s likely the “free market” principles of private hospitals contributes to poor patient care.

As the evidence piles up, it’s readily apparent tort reform achieves only limited benefits, and none for you or me:

It’s apparent that tort reform has limited benefits, and only for certain parties: Tort reform serves Republican political interests by taking money out of trial lawyers’ pockets – traditional supporters of the Democratic party. Tort reform servers private insurers by increasing their profits without any corresponding increase in service, and protecting insurers and healthcare providers from the people they have wronged, often fatally.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Civil suits are the last recourse individual citizens have to punish large corporations for wrongdoing. Laws protect the big fish. Regulatory legislation is riddled with loopholes for corporate lawyers to steer their massive ships-of-commerce through. Big industry can afford almost exclusive access to our lawmakers (as evidenced by our current state of health care reform). Crack down on lawsuits and you take the last legal protections for the little guy against corporate America.

Tort reform = bad.

by jhwygirl

Tort reform seems to be a topic of discussion. It should be, and that’s what Howard Dean said to a person who asked “There’s $200 million over 10 years in savings if we had tort reform and nobody loses but the lawyers. Why have we not even considered that tonight in the discussion sir?”

“This is the answer from a doctor and a politician,” said Dean. “Here is why tort reform is not in the bill. When you go to pass a really enormous bill like that the more stuff you put in, the more enemies you make, right? And the reason why tort reform is not in the bill is because the people who wrote it did not want to take on the trial lawyers in addition to everybody else they were taking on, and that is the plain and simple truth. Now, that’s the truth.”

We should be discussing everything but the kitchen sink. Not all of it’s gonna stick, but if I’m going to be taxed or penalties are going to be assessed people or employers or laws are going to be passed regarding pre-existing conditions or exemptions are going to be granted, or anything and everything else they’ve been talking about, then maybe we should talk about tort reform at least a teeny tiny little bit?

I also don’t know the validity of the $200 bmillion figure either. But somewhere in there’s a truth.

Look. Doctors aren’t God. We all make mistakes – only their mistakes have bigger impacts sometimes. Still doesn’t mean that they have to be treated like every mistake is intentional and premeditated or some sort of monstrous evidence of utter ineptitude.

Politico has the larger reporting of the event, and that’s worth the read to get a fuller picture of the environment.

by JC

“If the votes aren’t there, you’ll have to say you did the best you could and then you move on,” said Tester.

Just move on, huh. What a leader. If you have half the Senate looking at each other, saying the votes aren’t there, expecting the next guy to stand up and take a stand, well then you’re just being a defeatist. Not hardly what we elected you for, Jon.

“If the votes aren’t there” is just a euphemism for “my vote’s not there.” Politicians love to talk in passive terms because it allows them to not commit to a position publicly until they actually have to vote.

I call it the eternal finger pointing of the Senate: “if there is an uncommitted block of votes in the Senate, then I don’t have to take a stand either.” So what you get is a bunch of uncommitted Senators looking at each other and blaming the other for their own inability to take a stand–or have principles, for that matter.

What, you afraid to tell the “pull the plug on Granny” deather/birther crowds they’re whack? You know how to bust an ornery bull upside the head with a two-by-four. How about a few choice words for the bull the republicans have let out of the chute?

The AP’s Matt Gouras reported yesterday on Tester’s stand on the public option.

Tester said Wednesday he could envision voting for a health care reform bill with or without the option that would let the uninsured buy into a Medicare-type government program.

“I don’t need it either way,” Tester told the Associated Press between meetings with constituents. “I could either support it or not support it.”

With or without, support it or not. Talk about taking a stand! Must have been taking some Gumby lessons from the senior Senator. Even after dumbing down health care reform to a tepid pot of left-overs, Tester still misses the point.

Tester said he like such insurance reform as preventing companies from banning pre-existing injuries, canceling insurance when disease strikes and others that could rein in the double-digit cost increase of medical bills.

“Is that meaningful change?” Tester said. “If you have a pre-existing condition and you can’t get insured, that’s a meaningful change.”

About half of the country gets it’s health care from private insurers. So i guess he’s only really proposing “meaningful change” masquerading as insurance reform for the haves. Let’s treat the middle class to a little cost savings and call it “reform.”

For the have nots? Most people who have pre-existings cannot get insurance for a variety of reasons, cost being one of them. What’s the cost going to be for somebody trying to get a plan with cancer? Affordable? Subsidies for those who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, yet can’t afford a plan? Mandates and IRS penalties?

How you going to control costs and minimize cost shifting without universality?

“I trust Max” Tester said.

And just what has Max done to earn your trust, Senator? Set you up with some nice campaign financing deals with his buddies?

The Democrat said he has spent little time looking at more liberal legislation out of the House because he doesn’t think it will make it to the Senate floor.

If you haven’t looked at the House legislation, Jon, how can you come to a conclusion that it won’t make it to the Senate floor? Trusting what your buddy Max has to say?

I’d say this is a little closed-minded of you. And it sets you up for a battle to come to logger-heads with House progressives who say they won’t vote on a conference report that doesn’t include a public option. So what you going to do?

“Say you did the best you could and then you move on.”

Right… You might just have a block of progressive voters who will help you do just that, Senator. Just not the sort of “move on” that you had in mind. Hows about moo…ve on back to the farm?

In other health reform news, TPM reports on the list of 13 dem senators who haven’t committed to a public option. You might call them the “Gang of 13”:

One thing that’s striking about this the list is how reluctant senators are to take a firm position. Compare that to the situation in the House, where dozens of liberals have vowed that they’ll oppose any health care bill without a public option, and it casts some doubt on the conventional wisdom that health care reform will pass without a public option after the Congressional Progressive Caucus caves to pressure from Democratic leadership and conservatives in their own party.

“The immovable object meets the unstoppable force…”

Politics and corporations win and the people lose.
“C’est la vie”

by jhwygirl

…are becoming increasingly clear for some, including Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM).

Bingham is a member of what has been called The Gang of Six, the six members of the Senate Finance Committee that is headed up by our Sen. Baucus. The senators who are actually writing the piece of health care legislation that everyone is talking about but no one has seen.

Wanna understand the power of The Gang of Six? Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress does that quite well.

Baucus recently spoke publicly about his support for public option. I think that is great. If Grassley can be tweeting that ‘we don’t need any public option’, then Baucus shouldn’t feel a need to hold back on his personal preferences for a public option.

In fact, I hope that our Senator Baucus speaks more about why a public option is important. As the man who has been working on this very issue for years, Baucus’ support of a public option is something everyone who truly supports reform (everyone – left and right) should want to understand.

by Pete Talbot

Sen. Jon Tester was in town Tuesday to listen to doctors and administrators from our two hospitals. What was the main complaint from these health care providers? Tort reform.

Not public option or affordability or access for their patients but the high premiums they have to pay for malpractice insurance.

And while I agree that the high cost of malpractice insurance needs to be part of the mix in reforming health care, should it be these doctors’ overriding concern? Seems a little self serving to me. I don’t recall ever seeing any impoverished physicians here in Missoula.

My sources on this opinion post are Betsy Cohen’s Missoulian story and KECI’s evening news.

by jhwygirl

Honestly, I am so busy lately that I barely have time for the news. That’s why I’m grateful for Twitter – at the least, I can grab headlines from sources I choose. KPAX reports that Sen. Jon Tester was in town this morning to meet with St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center. There’s a nifty raw video of an interview with Tester, who talks about the real need for reform, the need for setting timelines and how he looks forward to having a bill hit the floor. He exudes confidence.

Thank you, Jon.

Meanwhile, Representative Denny Rehberg – who’s poll numbers are slipping, BTW – will be meeting with officials of Community Medical Center, St. Patrick Hospital and Health Sciences Center, and the Watson Children’s Center on Wednesday.

It’d be nice if he’d meet with us regular ole’ Missoulians…..

Rehberg’s been having his meetings around the state (he’s held 14), most recently in Hamilton last Friday.

None in Missoula on health care….

Rehberg’s meeting in Hamilton – like most health care insurance reform meetings anywhere – are ripe with people with strong opinions. That’s fine. People need to be civil.

Apparently, though, Rehberg did little to promote civility, the pinnacle of his lack of promoting control coming when calling out a wheelchair bound woman who was holding a sign saying 83 percent of Americans favor a public option. “Not according to the polls I’ve seen,” he shouted out…prompting some to heckle the woman.

Really? Our Montana Congressman calls out in disagreement – in a public meeting – to a woman holding a sign opposing his viewpoint?

Rehberg then stood and allowed the crowd to heckle.

“Not according to the polls I’ve seen,” he says? Well, soon-not-to-be Congressman Rehberg, what polls do you read? I mean – are you reading Cato Institute polls, or is your answer Palinesque, as in the faux “I’ve read ’em all” sort of read? Because shouting out “Not according to the polls I’ve seen,” in a smart-ass kind of way – and then standing there watching the crowd descend – isn’t really an answer.

Not only that, Rehberg used – for the upteenth time that day – the crowd to answer opposing viewpoints (i.e., pro-reform).

Read that? Rehberg never answered pro-reform questions. He allowed hecklers to do it for him.

Amazing tactic if it works.

Hamilton resident Denelle Pappier details her experience and analysis of Rep. Rehberg’s visit in a guest editorial.

Her editorial mentions the experience of a woman – a Missoula woman, actually – who asked Rep. Rehberg what it was – specifically – that he could support in a health care bill. When that woman posed that question to Rehberg, again a shout came from the audience, calling the woman a ‘nazi sympathizer’, and it wasn’t until loud boos came from the crowd that Rehberg held his hands up quieting the crowd.

Rehberg never answered her question.

Two things strike me about the Ravalli Republic article and Ms. Pappier’s editorial – one being that it’s a bit of a surprise that Rehberg would be met with any opposition in Ravalli County. Ravalli County’s changing – and elected and neighbors alike down there are going to have to start to deal. Hostile public meetings where elected stand by and allow (and promote) uncivil behavior needs to stop.

Secondly, the other thing was the first-hand report of Rehberg’s uncensored departure from the event. It wasn’t the use of a swear word that draws my attention, it was his personal acknowledgment of an event not gone fabulously and his utter contempt for criticism.

Must be a lot of criticism you’re getting there, Representative Rehberg.

Seems Billings health care professionals weren’t too keen on Rehberg’s point of view when he visited with them yesterday.

Ouch!!

Call Rehberg and let him know what you think about health care reform. You can also email him too.

Maybe remind him, too, that here in Montana we expect our elected officials to not only promote civility, but to answer questions when asked.




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