Weekly Pulse: White House Takes Offensive Against Health Care Repeal

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

This week, House Republicans will hold a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill is expected to pass the House, where the GOP holds a majority, but stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate. In the meantime, the symbolic vote is giving both Republicans and Democrats a pretext to publicly rehash their views on the legislation.

At AlterNet, Faiz Shakir and colleagues point out that repealing health care reform would cost the federal government an additional $320 billion over the next decade, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The authors also note that despite Republican campaign promises to “repeal and replace” the law, their bill contains no replacement plan. Health care reform protects Americans with preexisting conditions from some forms discrimination by insurers. At least half of all Americans under the age of 65 could be construed as having a preexisting condition. No wonder only 1 in 4 Americans support repeal, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released on Monday.

Perhaps that explains, as Paul Waldman reports at TAPPED, why the White House is vigorously defending health care reform. The Obama administration is making full use of the aforementioned statistics from The Department Health and Human Services on the percentage of Americans who have preexisting conditions:

As the House prepares to vote on the “Repeal the Puppy-Strangling Job-Vivisecting O-Commie-Care Act,” or whatever they’re now calling it, the White House and its allies actually seem to have their act together when it comes to fighting this war for public opinion. The latest is an analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services on just how many people have pre-existing conditions, and thus will be protected from denials of health insurance when the Affordable Care Act goes fully into effect in 2014

Republicans are fuming that Democrats are “politicizing” a policy debate by bringing up the uncomfortable fact that, if the GOP’s repeal plan became law, millions of people could lose their health insurance. As Waldman points out, the high incidence of preexisting conditions is an argument for a universal mandate. It’s impossible to insure people with known health problems at an affordable cost unless they share the risk with healthier policy-holders. Hence the need for a mandate.

Anti-choice at the end of life

In The Nation, Ann Neumann explains how anti-choice leaders fought to re-eliminate free end-of-life counseling for seniors under Medicare. The provision was taken out of the health care reform bill but briefly reinstated by Department of Health and Social Services before being rescinded again by HHS amid false allegations by anti-choice groups, including The Family Research Council, that the government was promulgating euthanasia for the elderly.

As seen on TV

The Kansas-based anti-choice group Operation Rescue is lashing out at the Iowa Board of Medicine for dismissing their complaint against Dr. Linda Haskell, Lynda Waddington reports in The Iowa Independent. Dr. Haskell attracted the ire of anti-choicers for using telemedicine to help doctors provide abortion care. The board investigated Operation Rescue’s allegations, which it cannot discuss or even acknowledge, but found no basis for sanctions against Haskell. Iowa medical authorities said they were still deliberating about the rules for telemedicine in general.

Salon retracts RFK vaccine story

Online news magazine Salon.com has retracted a 2005 article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. alleging a link between childhood vaccines and autism, Kristina Chew reports at Care2. The article leaned heavily on now discredited research by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. His research had been discredited for some time, but only recently did an investigative journalist reveal that Wakefield skewed his data as part of an elaborate scam to profit from a lawsuit against vaccine makers.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Pulse: Rotten Eggs, Drowsy Doctors, and Expensive Insurance

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Tainted egg shell game

The Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club is pushing state regulators to investigate two factory farms and a feed mill linked to this summer’s massive recall of salmonella-tainted eggs, Lynda Waddington reports in the Iowa Independent. The Sierra Club sent a strongly-worded letter to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller urging him to investigate Wright County Egg, Hillandale Farms and the Quality Egg LLC feed mill. All three firms were linked to the salmonella outbreak that sickened an estimated 1200 people; and all three firms are linked to agro-baron Austin “Jack” DeCoster.

Tom Philpott of Grist calls DeCoster a “habitual” environmental offender and “one of the most reviled names in industrial agriculture.” In 1996, the Department of Labor fined DeCoster Eggs $3.6 million for what the then-Secretary of Labor described as “running an agricultural sweatshop” and “treating its employees like animals.” Over the years, DeCoster enterprises racked up additional fines in other states. A previous Attorney General of Iowa dubbed DeCoster a habitual offender for water pollution. In 2002, five female employees at the DeCoster’s Wright County egg operation alleged that their supervisors had raped them and threatened to kill them if they reported the crime. The company paid $1.5 million to settle the lawsuit.

Drowsy doctors

A coalition of public health activists is pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to regulate the work hours of doctors in training. New proposed guidelines would limit the shifts of first-year residents to 16 hours, but more senior trainees could be forced to work shifts up to 28 hours. The group, which includes the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, the American Medical Student Association, and Public Citizen, says that’s not good enough to protect doctors or the public. As I explain in Working In These Times, research shows that sleep deprivation is a major preventable cause of medical errors, which is why the coalition wants to see shifts for all residents capped at 16 hours.

Insurance premiums soar

A new report from the Kaiser Foundation Family shows that health insurance premiums continued to climb with employers shifting an ever-greater share of the burden onto employees. A family health insurance policy costs about $14,000 a year, with employees shouldering 30% of that cost. Michelle Chen reports in ColorLines that families that manage to hang onto their health insurance can’t expect relief through health care reform any time soon. The major reforms don’t go into effect until 2014 and the biggest early beneficiaries will be those who are currently uninsured rather than those who are already paying through the nose for lousy coverage. The ultimate goal of comprehensive health care reform is to reshape the health care and health insurance systems to bring costs down across the board, but that’s small consolation to workers who are struggling to stay on top of their premiums right now.

 

 

IA-Gov News roundup

I've been posting less often at MyDD lately because Iowa campaign news is keeping me busy at my home blog, Bleeding Heartland. From time to time I will keep MyDDers up to date on our highest-profile races: Roxanne Conlin's bid against five-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democratic Governor Chet Culver's re-election campaign against four-term former Governor Terry Branstad.

After the jump you'll find lots links on the Iowa governor's race since Branstad won the June 8 primary with about 50 percent of the vote to 41 percent for Bob Vander Plaats and 9 percent for Rod Roberts.

There's more...

Good news for marriage equality in Iowa

It was overshadowed by competitive races for governor and other statewide offices, but a critical Democratic primary contest in Iowa House district 66 produced a big victory for marriage equality advocates yesterday. Elder Clair Rudison, a socially conservative pastor, challenged two-term State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad (a longtime community activist who is usually known as "Ako"). Rudison had the backing of the right-wing Iowa Family Policy Center. He sent out at least five direct-mail pieces attacking Ako's record, two of which mentioned gay marriage. I posted the images at Bleeding Heartland. One piece said marriage is a "building block of our community," noting that Clair Rudison wants to "let the people vote" while Ako Abdul-Samad "has consistently voted against allowing the Iowa House to bring this matter to the people."

Rudison's direct mail implied that "a majority of Iowans" oppose Ako's stance on marriage equality, but the latest Research 2000 Iowa poll for KCCI-TV suggests a majority favor same-sex marriage rights. Iowa House district 66 contains some of the most gay-friendly neighborhoods in Des Moines (Drake area, Sherman Hill, "East Village"), so it's far-fetched to portray Ako as out of step with his constituents. Rudison made other ridiculous charges too, like accusing Ako of facilitating racial profiling because he voted for a law to ban texting while driving.

Most Iowa politics-watchers were confident Ako would win this primary, but in a low-turnout environment anything can happen, so I was relieved to see that Ako won 75 percent of the vote yesterday. The result is important because the only Iowa House Democrat who has consistently worked with Republicans to bring a constitutional amendment on marriage to a vote is retiring this year. If Rudison had won the primary, Republicans would be able to continue to claim bipartisan support for their battle against equality and reproductive rights.

That Research 2000 Iowa poll for KCCI-TV should be a warning to Republicans who think bashing gay marriage will be their winning ticket in November. About 53 percent of respondents said they favored marriage rights for same-sex couples, while only 41 percent opposed them. Support for equality is stronger among women (57-36) than among men (49-46). The same poll showed independents supporting same-sex marriage rights by 58-31, closer to the Democratic numbers of 81-17 than to the Republican respondents, who oppose marriage equality by 83-14.

The latest Des Moines Register Iowa poll by Selzer and Co asked likely Republican primary voters several questions about gay marriage. While 77 percent of them agreed that "Iowans should have a chance to vote on changing the constitution to specifically ban gay marriage," I was surprised to see that 20 percent of likely Republican voters disagreed with that statement.

Meanwhile, only 50 percent of likely GOP primary voters agreed that "Iowans should vote to remove current Supreme Court justices from their office because of their decision on gay marriage." An amazing (to me) 45 percent disagreed with that statement. Regarding the statement, "Some Iowans have overreacted to this issue, and having gay marriage in Iowa is just not that big a deal," 35 percent of likely Republican primary voters agreed, while 62 percent disagreed.

Humiliation for the NRCC in Iowa

Washington Republicans have been talking up their chances of retaking the House of Representatives for months, and the National Republican Congressional Committee claims many recruiting successes in competitive House districts. However, before this week Republican primary voters had already rejected NRCC favorites in ID-01, KY-03, PA-04 and AL-05.

After last night we can add IA-02 and IA-03 to the list of districts where the NRCC sure doesn't know how to pick 'em.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads