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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Another Assessment of Health Care

Category: Health Care
Posted: 06/30/12 16:32

by Alan Anderson

Much has been said about the recent Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, ObamaCare. The discussion has focused on Chief Justice Roberts participation in the majority to uphold the law, partly by suggesting the mandate was enforceable by a "tax", but also saying the Commerce Clause didn't apply in this case and further suggesting that the states could not coerced by the federal government to withhold all Medicaid funding if the state decided to opt out of the law. Missing in the discussion was any reasonable attempt to justify the need for the law or the serious consequences for people, especially poor people, if the law is implemented as approved by the Court.

Consider this. Brutal dictator Bashar Al-Assad of Syria has murdered more than 10,000 of his people in recent months, attempting to suppress a public uprising against his rule. He has had his soldiers literally gun down men, women, and children, as well as kill people with artillery and tanks, to maintain his power. More than 10,000 in a year.

In the United States it is reported that thousands of people die each year because they don't have access to affordable health care. Almost 50 million people are without health insurance, many of them poor or middle class. A 2009 report from Harvard (Wilper, 2009) suggested that almost 45,000 people die unnecessarily because they don't have access to health insurance. Testimony before Congress on health suggested:

Uninsured Americans frequently delay or forgo doctors? visits, prescription medications, and other effective treatments, even when they have serious disease or life-threatening conditions. ? Because uninsured adults seek health care less often than insured adults, they are often unaware of health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or early-stage cancer. Uninsured adults are also much less likely to receive vaccinations, cancer screening services such as mammography and colonoscopy, and other effective preventive services.

The latest report by Harvard researchers, using more recent data than previous studies, found that the uninsured are 40 percent more likely to die prematurely. And it expanded the age group a bit, estimating that among adults age 18 to 64, there were 35,327 deaths linked to a lack of insurance in 2005. Calculating the estimate without a breakdown by age group increased the figure to 44,789.

While there is some debate about the actual number who die, there is little question that thousands of Americans who don't have access to health care have a much higher percentage of risk of dying prematurely and unnecessarily.

If this is the case, then the debate about health care should be about helping people, mostly poor people, to have a fair chance of survival. Often those who want the Affordable Care Act repealed have a strong moral commitment to being prolife and against abortions. They suggest that life is precious, even the life of a fetus. If a fetus has a right to life, then certainly live, functioning adults in our society have that same right.

Thus, the debate about the Affordable Care Act should be refocused on the original purpose of the law, to provide access to health care for most Americans, no matter what their employment or personal wealth situation is all about.

All Americans have a right to life and denying individuals access to a health system to preserve that right is tantamount to killing them with policy. It may not be as heinous an act as shooting them dead in the street, but the end result is the same. They die. The inability of the Congress to enact reasonable legislation in the past 20 years has literally caused more than 500,000 people to die prematurely.....deaths that could have been prevented with affordable access by all Americans to health insurance.

Hopefully, the recent decision on the Affordable Care Act will reenergize our political system to stop delaying serious health care policies and end this needless loss of life. Politicians need to realize that they can't criticize a horrible tyrant from killing his people when they are doing the same thing with their inaction. Death by bullets and death by lack of access to health care have the same common feature...they end the lives of citizens, young and old. We are better than Bashar Al-Assad....let's show the world that we can work to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
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ACA Truth: Deficit Reduction and Paying the Bills

Category: Health Care
Posted: 06/29/12 17:39

by Dave Mindeman

Let's start with the hyperbole:

?President Obama and Democrats in Congress have unleashed a massive expansion of government that will harm our economy every day until it is repealed. Obamacare contains at least 20 taxes totaling hundreds of billions of dollars that will smother the economy. Add to that the mandates, regulations, bureaucracy and massive costs and this bill will prove itself to be an unworkable disaster of proportions only government can create.

?Look no further than Minnesota?s medical device industry for how Obamacare will slam our economy and kill jobs. Innovative companies that employ highly-skilled workers in well-paying jobs will now be socked with a tax increase for their efforts. We are never going to reach our full economic potential when Democrats punish success in order to expand government.?

--Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers

The amount of hyperbole and misinformation that has been unleashed after this ACA decision from the Supreme Court is staggering. I listen to it and am just stunned by the level of distortion that gets pushed forward.

Above, you see the press release statement from Kurt Zellers. I am going to try to use that as a guide to discuss this...with a few digressions along the way.

Zellers tells us that Obama and the Democrats have unleased a massive expansion of government with ACA. With health care already at 18% of GDP, it is hard to believe that Zellers can add the ACA into it and count that high.

The Affordable Care Act tries to reign in all the disparate programs and structures involved with health care and bring with it more efficiencies and better preventative programs.

The United State already spends 3 times more per capita on health care than the next highest nation spender....and almost all of the ones below us provide health care for every citizen. We leave millions off the roles.

And yet, Zellers wants to go back. Back to an insurance run program that tries to keep the sick off the roles. That is first and foremost a profit oriented system with multi-levels of profit takers. Back to inefficient, fee for service, poor outcome health care that leaves those in most need wanting.

Zellers and the GOP will be outlining all the "tax implications" of this program. So let me discuss that in real terms.

How does government pay for what it does? How? TAXES. The government isn't a business with profits. It doesn't have a savings account. A 401K. And since we have pretty much gutted estate taxes down to nothing, it gets no inheritance.

Yet, we want services. We want mass transit. We want roads that are in good condition. We want sewers and street lights and and curbs and a traffic system that moves and police and fire protection and clean air and pure water and this and that and the other thing.

We want all of it but for some unknown, incredible reason, we have been told that none of this is our financial responsibility.

Health care has 20 different taxes....probably correct. But it is because we don't want to continue to add to the deficit. The ACA tries to reign in costs so that we are paying for these services. The taxes may be new, but a lot of it is shifted savings that we will get and see in a tangible way.

The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scored the ACA as reducing the deficit over the 10 year period scored. That is reducing it (capital r).

CBO and JCT estimate that enacting both pieces of legislation?H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal?would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over the 2010?2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenues.?

So no matter how many times the Republicans trash all of this as the "highest tax increase in US history" - (actually it seems like they say that about every tax that somehow gets through the Congressional gauntlet, don't they?), no matter how many times they say it, it is still comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. And the CBO says it is good.

And Zellers puts in an extra ding by noting the "poor" medical device industry will get picked on by the ACA with a 2.3% tax.

Please read my rebuttal on that here.... (as well as Mac Hall's excellent comments on the subject).

The war of words is just beginning, but it is time that Democrats called taxes for what it truly is - revenue to pay for things.

Our Republican friends won't allow taxes....no they prefer gimmicks and borrowing and shifting and trade offs. Never actual payment.

Unfortunately, you can only go so long without paying the piper. He's here to collect.
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Friday Local: South Metro Politics 6/29/12

Posted: 06/29/12 01:22, Edited: 04/24/13 15:28

by Dave Mindeman

This week's south metro local....

Pawn America Up to Something?
One of the biggest Republican donors in this area is Brad Rixmann, owner of Pawn America. Rixmann's operation is big into PayDay lending...short term cash loans with pretty high interest rates. Takes advantage of people with short term money problems....or provides a service as he would probably put it.

Well, what is curious is that Rixmann is staffing up with people who probably don't have a lot of savvy in evaluating pawn items, but they do have a great deal of experience in lobbying. Darron Van Heldon, the former head of the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce has quit the Chamber and signed on with Pawn America. And he is not alone; Dan Kealey, a Burnsville City Councilman is also on board with the position - Director of New Business Development and Community Affairs .

Sounds like the workings of a major lobbying group....Rixmann's money + lobbying expertise = major political player.

Swan Song for the Independence Party?

The IP is not fielding any major candidates for the state wide offices, but they did decide to concentrate on legislative races. Something I think they should have started years ago. However, they seem to have fumbled that as well. They only have 13 legislative candidates (11 House and 2 Senate), and none of them look to be any major threat.

Rep. Jim Abeler is in one of those districts which will now have a three way contest, but he doesn't seem worried.....

But in general, Abeler questions the politically vitality of the IP. ?I don?t think the IP has any political faction anymore at this point,? he said.

Unfortunately, I have to agree.

Mike Obermueller Is Seeing Real DCCC Help

It sounds like 2nd Congressional District's DFLer Mike Obermueller is seeing some tangible evidence of DCCC help. I understand that 3 staffer/interns are full time with him. And more help will be forthcoming.

His big hurdle will be the first fundraising reporting period. Money totals at this stage mean a lot and I have heard plenty of evidence that Mike is making the calls. I got one recently....and a friend of mine said, "Jeez, he calls every week!"

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