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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

The Mike McFadden "Solution" To Health Care

Category: Health Care
Posted: 09/27/14 10:34

by Dave Mindeman

Did you see Mike McFadden's health care "ideas"? A magical 6 pages (which you could fit onto one if you wanted to) of health care fixes. Oh why did we not do this before?

Truth is....we have tried all of this before....and it doesn't work.

Where do I begin.

He begins with a cost critique of Obamacare. His sources for the data come from the Manhattan Institute and the Freedom Foundation...both are right wing think tanks with slanted data.

He criticizes quality and lack of access by citing the New Hampshire exchange which had only one insurer - Anthem Blue Cross - in its network. But he doesn't mention that for next year, New Hampshire already has 5 carriers signed up and that all of the hospitals in the state will be involved with at least 3 of the 5 carriers.

Then he starts citing the old memes. He says 164,000 Minnesotans lost their health insurance. Again, let me repeat, all of those people got new insurance and it was better insurance. The bogus plans that were health care insurance in name only, had to be scrapped because they weren't close to the minimum standards required in Obamacare. Sure, the plans were cheap -IT WAS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T COVER ANYTHING!

And I like this one.

"According to officials, 7.3 million people have enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges, a number far short of the 53 million uninsured prior to Obamacare."

You could put it another way. The uninsured population dropped 13% in one year with Obamacare. And let's be real factual and note that nearly 6 million more people could have been covered if Republican governors had just accepted the Medicare expansion!

Then we get the "plan" to lower health care costs....

1) Expand Health Care Savings Accts - Essentially this is making health care purchases tax exempt. You are still paying for it yourself, but you do get to use tax free money. McFadden thinks if he makes you purchase more of your own health care this way, then he can allow the insurance companies to cover less (like contraceptives). This was tried prior to Obamacare and costs were still escalating.

2) Increase Price Transparency - So, it is going to help that you can see the actual costs of things you could never pay for without insurance? I don't think we have to go deeper on that one.

3) Allow Small Business Pooling - Actually Obamacare addressed that but the implementation has been delayed. It is complicated to create a pool for this purpose and the same problems that have delayed it with Obamacare, would be a problem for McFadden. (He just doesn't know enough about it yet to understand that). And his assertion that small business owners with no employees (he says 78% of small business) need to have their own pool is odd. They HAVE their own pool - it is called the Obamacare Exchange.

4) Allow Individuals to Purchase Across State Lines - It's funny. One of the main assertions for McFadden's critique of health care is that the states should have more control. States do have control - they control the criteria for minimum standards that their own citizens have for health care. I could purchase much cheaper insurance in Mississippi, but it wouldn't have the same mandatory coverage or network access that I have in Minnesota. The Republicans put this option out there all the time without ever explaining the problems with that kind of implementation or the reasons that it is not allowed in the first place.

5) Reform The Tort System - A Republican favorite. Protect corporations from the trial lawyers. Actually, I cannot imagine putting limits on tort liability in the health care industry. Countless health care best practices have come from public lawsuits that pointed out the problem. Sure, it might save a little money on malpractice insurance for providers, but would that benefit the general public? Nope.

And then there is McFadden's attempt to take the popular aspects of Obamacare and just add them to the healthcare mix - AFTER he gets Obamacare repealed.


Covering Pre-Existing conditions. Children on parents insurance to age 26. Keep the ban on lifetime limits. Make subsidies optional state by state. Make oral contraceptives available over the counter.

McFadden waves his magic wand and all of that can happen. Wow.

There is a reason that those options were not part of health care prior to Obamacare. The insurance industry had to use them to keep their premium costs down. It was the only way to keep the sickest people off the roles.

The only way to implement those "benefits" was to incorporate them into a larger plan (Obamacare) that would absorb the costs and allow the system as a whole to make it all work together. Obamacare did all of that and still lowered the general cost to the consumer.

But McFadden thinks it is easy-peasy to just say "Poof!", let's do it.

And let me say something about over the counter birth control, because that seems to be the new Republican solution to appease their "religious objectors".

Yes, you could probably switch oral contraceptives to an OTC status. It has been discussed before Hobby Lobby and was probably going to happen at some point. But here are some things to consider:

- 15% of women take oral contraceptives for other medical reasons. OC's can regulate a troublesome menstrual cycle and ease painful cramping during that cycle. In these cases, oral contraceptives are medically necessary and should be a covered medical expense.

- Over the counter purchases are still purchases. They will cost less when they are OTC but it will still be a very significant cost. Retail prices can vary from $10 to $15 a month for uncomplicated generics, up to $120 to $200 per month for specialty brand products. Under Obamacare, they would be 100% covered. No cost to the consumer. McFadden's "solution" just cost you more money.

So, again, when you hear Republicans talk about health care "solutions", please realize that they really aren't solutions to anything. They are just more corporation protecting, higher out of pocket, band-aids which should never see the light of day after an election.

Health care does NOT, I repeat NOT, have a market based solution. And as McFadden always says - he's a business guy.

Don't let Mike McFadden give you the "business".
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The Spotlight Is Coming For You John Kline

Category: John Kline
Posted: 09/27/14 02:06

by Dave Mindeman

On Bill Maher's Real Time show, Maher once again had a segment about John Kline. This time he had Alexandra Pelosi take a trip to the 2nd District with the Nuns On The Bus crew.

Pelosi did some random interviews and was amazed at how many ill informed voters she came across. One guy was a proud Republican but didn't know that John Kline was his representative - just needed an (R) by his name. Another guy who admitted he was on food stamps had no plans to vote....not realizing that John Kline has voted to cut the program that keeps him going. And another woman wasn't going to vote because she really didn't care. Pelosi had a tough time finding anyone with any kind of voting enthusiasm.

It was kind of depressing.

But John Kline keeps going back to Congress, essentially for that very reason.


(Kline sitting with all the voters who know who he is)

Kline decides policy on student debt - but doesn't talk about it.

Kline decides education policy - but has no press releases.

Kline votes against food stamps - but declines comment on his vote.

Kline voted against equal pay for women - but pretends it doesn't matter.

He avoids the limelight. He preaches to the choir. He is unavailable for the protester. He is a one topic interview.

John Kline serves quietly, unobtrusively, a back bencher who chairs a committee. All the while he is working to dismantle the middle class, saddle the next generation with debt, and gut the social security contract with our seniors.

Yes, John Kline's only outrage is, not that Bill Maher wants to flip his district....no, it is that Bill Maher is trying to shine a spotlight on him. Kline likes the anonymity. He likes the back of the room.

In the light of day, John Kline doesn't look like a person who truly represents his district. The truth is that John Kline is a corporate shill.

And he likes his donor money under the table and not for public scrutiny.

Too late Congressman - the circus is coming to town.
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An Open Letter To Young People - Your Voice Needs To Be Heard

Category: Society
Posted: 09/26/14 10:26

by Dave Mindeman

Hey. All you students, young people, millenials. Drop that iPad or iPhone; Take off those earbuds, headphones, and that bluetooth for just a second.

We need to talk.

Its time you confronted the GOP War on all of you. Yeah, I know the term war gets overused. It almost blends into the scenery these days. Its a war on everything. But you are seriously at risk.

While you study for that exam or check out the new clothes at the mall, the GOP is stealing your future.

Let's look at the list:

1) Student Debt. While you work hard to prepare yourself for a career, the money you earn in the future is being eroded. The amount of student debt that is piling up is nothing short of catastrophic. Cumulatively, it hit $1.2 trillion this year. That is money you need in the future. But Republicans and especially Congressman John Kline are financing the present against that future debt load. Gosh, even the Star Tribune Editorial Board is figuring it out:

It's about time that politicians -- and other Americans -- recognize that a debt load that heavy does not burden recent college grads alone. The whole economy is affected when the purchasing power of that many aspiring young adults is pinched. That consequence should have been discussed more widely as governments in Washington, St. Paul and other state capitols squeezed higher ed funding in the past decade.

Trouble is, we are not addressing this problem. Congressman John Kline has even raised the student loan rates and mortgaged more of your future earnings. And in addition, he has subjected many of you to the predatory practices of For Profit College institutions by protecting their recruitment of students and the resulting defaults - which is skyrocketing as we speak. All of this in return for campaign finance donations from these colleges to his campaign. It is shameful.

2) Climate Change. You know this is happening. You are not denying the science. You get it. But many Republicans refuse to acknowledge it because it would cause too much economic change. You see, the current GOP and their billionaire donors want to keep making big money in the short term. Climate change is your problem. It is not going to affect them. So they intend to make you deal with it. For short term gain, they are going to risk your entire future. Not just monetarily, but your entire way of life.

3) National Debt. This current generation could eliminate its debt. The money is there. It's in Exxon's tax protected profits. It's in Medtronic's tax evasive Irish ploy. It's in the Cayman Islands. It's in those unnecessary oil and gas subsidies. It is all there, but the people controlling that money do not want to pay for the debt that is accumulating because it would mean using those protected finances. Again, it is your problem. Our debt is borrowed money from your future. So, we are going to make you deal with our debt as well as your own.

4) Environment. Let's look at a Minnesota example. Polymet. Republicans think that the jobs (a few hundred) involved in approval of this mining operation (skip the EPA regulations) are enough short term gain to offset the decades long clean up that is acknowledged by all parties. Jobs now - clean up later. And of course, "later" means your problem. You get to deal with the water contamination. You get to deal with effects on the BWCA. You get to pay for the aftermath. It is simple for the Republican thought proces because they only think about right now. The future is your problem.

You should know that the Democratic Party is doing their best to look out for you. They have proposed fixes and help. The MN House Democrats have proposed another tuition freeze if they are re-elected. And the MN House Democrats are proposing something else; from the Star Tribune:

House DFLers also floated an intriguing policy idea -- partial loan forgiveness for some Minnesota college grads. The idea, touted by Speaker Paul Thissen as he campaigned on campuses this week, would write down debt amounts of up to $3,000 per year for grads in two categories -- those who take jobs in "vital fields" in Greater Minnesota, and those who spend a year in community service through ServeMinnesota, the state's AmeriCorps program.

Some people call it a "reverse GI bill". That could help business as well.

Senate Democrats proposed a student refinancing bill which would lower the current interest rate, but it was blocked by a GOP filibuster.

Democrats have repeatedly tried to put Climate Change higher on the agenda....but again, filibusters and the House Republican majority have stood in the way.

The GOP complains incessantly about the National Debt but won't increase taxes on this generation and wants to keep cutting programs that help your generation and stimulate the economy. Unfortunately, Congressman John Kline thinks that making $51 billion off of your student loan problem is part of the answer.

And, of course, the opening of the Polymet mine in Minnesota, right now, full speed ahead, damn the regulations, is the MN Republican answer to Minnesota's future. Your future. And your future liability.

That is what is at stake in this election. And, yes, there is an election this year - 2014. And it is up to you to begin the process of letting your voice be heard. One of the reasons that Republicans can exploit your future is that they are convinced you are not a threat. They say that you won't vote. You won't have an impact.

Well, its time that you end that assumption. After all, it is your future that is affected by all of these issues. And your voice will never rise above the din of Republican largesse, unless you VOTE.

Your future....your time....your voice. Do it.
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