What if some day the Supreme Court didn’t support Corporations over Citizens?
What if some day the Senate and the House put our country first and the lobbyists a distant tenth?
What if all Billionaires begged the government to tax them at the same rates that Ronald Reagan did?
What if ALL workers, teachers, firemen, police officers, public employees and salespeople were encouraged to join Unions by receiving significant tax perqs?
What if everyone in government believed they were working “in service” to America and not to themselves?
- Thomas’s ongoing ethics problem, and Chris Murphy’s potential solution (dailykos.com)
- Stepping Toward Single Payer in the Green Mountain State (hcfama.org)
- Why Daydreamers May Become Visionaries (eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com)
- Another Useless Friday Daydream (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com)
This article, reproduced here in full, is from Firedoglake. Read it and see why I don’t like Max Baucus:
How Libby, Montana, Got Medicare for All
By Kay Tillow
In 2009 when the Washington beltway was tied up with the health care reform tussle, Montana Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the all powerful Senate Finance Committee, said everything was on the table–except for single payer. When doctors, nurses and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, Baucus had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, “We need more police.”
Yet when Senator Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in Libby, Montana, and surrounding Lincoln County, he turned to the nation’s single payer healthcare system, Medicare, to solve the problem.
Baucus’ problem was caused by a vermiculite mine that had spread deadly airborne asbestos killing hundreds and sickening thousands in Libby and northwest Montana. The W. R. Grace Company that owned the mine denied its connection to the massive levels of mesothelioma and asbestosis and dodged responsibility for this environmental and health disaster. When all law
suits and legal avenues failed, Baucus turned to our country’s single payer plan, Medicare.
The single payer plan that Baucus kept off the table is now very much on the table in Libby. Unknown to most of the public, Baucus inserted a section into the health reform bill that covers the suffering people of Libby, Montana, not just the former miners but the whole community—all covered by Medicare.
They don’t have to be 65 years old or more.
They don’t have to wait until 2014 for the state exchanges.
No ten year roll out—it’s immediate.
They don’t have to purchase a plan—this is not a buy-in to Medicare—it’s
They don’t have to be disabled for two years before they apply.
They don’t have to go without care for three years until Medicaid expands.
They don’t have to meet income tests.
They don’t have to apply for a subsidy.
They don’t have to pay a fine for failure to buy insurance.
They don’t have to hope that the market will make a plan affordable.
They don’t have to hide their pre-existing conditions.
They don’t have to find a job that provides coverage.
Baucus inserted a clause in the Affordable Care Act to make special arrangements for them in Medicare, and he didn’t wait for any
Congressional Budget Office scoring to do it.
Less than two months after the passage of the health reform bill on March 23, 2010, Nancy Berryhill of the Social Security Administration in Denver joined personally in
setting up an office in Libby to sign up these newly eligible people. “This is a new thing,” Berryhill told the Missoulian. “No other group like this has ever been selected to receive Medicare.” Berryhill issued a nationwide alert to inform anyone who had lived or stayed in Lincoln County of their eligibility. She opened a storefront in Libby at the old downtown city hall where she signed up 60 people on the first day. She plastered the towns of Whitefish and Eureka with pamphlets explaining the program and added three new staffers to the office in Kalispell.
Berryhill said she did not know how much the care would cost. That kind of analysis was beyond her directive to sign the people up. There have been no reports of competition from the private for-profit Medicare Advantage plans. The sick are not profitable.
No one should begrudge the people of Lincoln County. The mine wastes were used as soil additives, home insulation, and even spread on the running tracks at local schools. Miners brought the carcinogens home on their clothes. The W. R. Grace Company dumped much of the clean up costs onto the federal government. A June 17, 2009, order by the Environmental
Protection Agency, the first of its kind, declared Lincoln County a public health disaster. The Libby Medicare provision in the health reform law is based on the area covered by that EPA order.
Baucus gave his reasons to the New York Times for its only story on this unique benefit: “The People of Libby have been poisoned and have been dying for a decade. New residents continue to get sick all the time. Public health tragedies like this could happen in any town in America. We need this type of mechanism to help people when they need it most.”
Health tragedies are happening in every town. Over 51 million have no insurance. Over 45,000 uninsured people die needlessly each year. Employers are cutting coverage and dropping plans. States in economic crisis are slashing both Medicaid and their employees’ plans. Nothing in last year’s reform law will mitigate the skyrocketing costs. Most insurance is threadbare and doesn’t cover. More than 50% of us now go without necessary care. As Baucus said of Medicare, “We need this mechanism to help people when they need it most.” We all need it now.
Bill Clinton recently stated that the U. S. could give coverage to all for one trillion dollars a year less than we now pay if we adopted the system of any other advanced nation. (Unfortunately, he did not say this when it would have mattered most during the 1993 and 2009 health care reform debates.)
Other industrialized countries have found that to cover everyone for less they must remove the profit-making insurance companies. Congressman John Conyers has reintroduced HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which does exactly that. There are 60 cosponsors. It would cover all medically necessary care for everyone including dental and drugs by cutting out the 30% waste and profits caused by the private insurers.
So as the Ryan Republicans try to destroy Medicare and far too many Democrats use the deficit excuse to suggest cuts in its benefits, let us counter with the Libby prescription to clean up the whole mess. Only a single payer, improved Medicare for All, can save and protect Medicare, rein in the costs, and give us universal coverage.
Medicare will celebrate its 46th birthday on July 30, 2011, and all are invited to join in the festivities. Medicare was passed in 1965 and implemented within less than a year. When we pass HR 676, this single payer bill, we can all be enrolled in the twinkling of an eye.
So write and call your Reps and Senators and the President and tell them to get insurance companies out of healthcare and get us all on Medicare. We’ll save money (government AND the people), we’ll have a healthier nation, and we’ll join the rest of the civilized world in the 21st Century.
- Considering a single payer model for health reform (kevinmd.com)
- Sexy Wilde for Single-Payer (foxnews.com)
- Actually Sen. Lieberman, We Should Be Expanding Medicare (fdlaction.firedoglake.com)
- Both Ryan and Obama cut Medicare (sfgate.com)
- Medicare for all? Q&A with Ohio’s leading single-payer physician advocate (medcitynews.com)
- Private Insurers Fail at Keeping Prices Down in Massachusetts (fdlaction.firedoglake.com)
- Yes, Medicare Is Sustainable In Its Current Form (krugman.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Some Medicare Ideas Worth Considering (swampland.time.com)
- Joe Lieberman’s Cruel Plan To Make Medicare Truly Awful (crooksandliars.com)
Looks like another hot day in Shepherdstown as we wait for the rain (30% chance this afternoon, 50% tonight, 60% tomorrow). Yesterday it was up to 95° and felt like it was going up to 100° when I was out walking the dogs.
Elly will spend time out in the gardens today with her wide brimmed straw hat looking like a lady farmer. I think she enjoys the heat.
The coming weekend has more for me to do… Tomorrow morning, on WSHC, John and I have Delegate Doyle coming in to the show and a friend of John’s calling in from Vermont to talk about their new single-payer health care system. If you can tune in locally, we’re at 89.7 FM. If you are farther out (anywhere in the world, actually) you can get us at http://www.897wshc.org. 7:30 to 9:00 AM.
Friday night there is a meeting to throw ideas around for the Rube Carnival that G. Bradley Sanders is throwing at The Folly in August. This is my first time meeting with the group (Bradley and I had coffee at Mellow Moods the other day) and I’m looking forward to it.
Saturday morning is Morgan’s Grove Market and I’ll be wandering around… probably settling down over at the Four Seasons Bookstore booth. If you see m there, say Hi.
Then, on Sunday, Elly and I are taking two of our grandsons, John and Jason, to DC to go to the Air and Space Museum. So it looks like the Weekend plans are complete.
- What is Wrong With you People? (wdednh.wordpress.com)
- Tommy Doulgas takes Vermont (macleans.ca)
- Economix: Vermont’s Move Toward Single-Payer Health Insurance (economix.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Yea! Vermont Passes Single Payer Health Care Bill (iflizwerequeen.com)
- Blue Skies Spring Look (brooklynagriculture.wordpress.com)
- Professional Earth Eternal Gold Seller Told What Y – Changzhou, China (travelpod.com)