Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
MARCH 17, 2010 12:24PM

Kucinich says "yea," Jane Hamsher still screaming "nay."

Rate: 11 Flag

So, health care reform seems a little closer to passage now, thanks in part to the switch to yes by liberal Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (as ably reported by Heather Michon). Kucinich said today:

I know I have to make a decision, not on the bill as I would like to see it, but the bill as it is. My criticisms of the legislation have been well reported. I do not retract them. I incorporate them in this statement. They still stand as legitimate and cautionary. I still have doubts about the bill. I do not think it is a first step toward anything I have supported in the past. This is not the bill I wanted to support, even as I continue efforts until the last minute to modify the bill.

However after careful discussions with the President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Elizabeth my wife and close friends, I have decided to cast a vote in favor of the legislation. If my vote is to be counted, let it now count for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform.

For this, we must thank... not progressives? 

I remain baffled by the Kill the Bill campaign being spearheaded by FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher. Ezra Klein ably took down her 10 reasons to kill it back in December, but that kind of logic doesn't really seem to work on FDL. Instead, Hamsher is angry with Dennis Kucinch for reversing his position on the health care bill. I'd like to hear her, or anyone from FireDogLake, explain how passing the current bill is unfair to the 8,400 people in Kucinich's district that will be extended coverage despite pre-existing conditions, or to the 30,500 people who currently don't have health care but will be eligible for it. Maybe she could also explain the unfairness to the 163,000 families and 14,000 small businesses who will receive government assistance to pay for health care.

Or, you know, she could focus on making people afraid of government health care. That seems excellent and progressive. Congrats, you have Patrick Ruffini on your side.

I was reminded today that FDL was behind a poll that probably pushed Arkansas's Vic Snyder into retirement by showing that voting for health care would make him more likely to lose. The poll asked questions that made it sound like everyone will end up paying money out of pocket for health insurance or be fined at least 2 percent of their income if they don't participate.

That's push polling, and it's also misleading. Yes, if you don't get health insurance, you might have to pay up to 2.5 percent of your income as a penalty -- however, the bill promises hardship and religious waivers, and it's going to offer government subsidies for those making three times the national poverty guideline.

Vic Snyder has probably been a mismatch in his Arkansas district for a while, having voting against the Iraq war and the Federal Marriage Amendment. He recently pushed for the Treasury Department to "give banks more authority to restructure existing loans for farmers." You don't get much more progressive than fighting for farm reform.

Yet Snyder's potential yes-vote on Health Care made him an enemy of FireDogLake. Clearly, this was someone that needed to be encouraged to retire, not someone who should have earned the respect and support of liberals and perhaps some pledges to his campaign.

Or he could retire, handing his seat to a scandal-plagued Republican. That sounds good for the country.

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Thanks for the analysis. Now when I get a free minute I just gotta track down somewhere that says why Kucinich changed. (Or why he said he changed, which might not be the same.) You seem to have explained why it was good he did, but that's not necessarily the same...
Here's the text of his speech: "Why I'm Voting Yes." Essentially, he's not ecstatic with the bill, but he says it represents a step forward. He also said he's worried that not voting for it -- not passing it -- would de-legitimize Obama's presidency, which is really interesting.
I can count on you for excellent analysis every time. I used to like Jane Hamsher, but somewhere her logic or I should say lack of it, lost me. Hell, she doesn't get a vote, so who really cares what she thinks?!
I don't.
hear hear. thanks for the excellent analysis and reporting.
I still think she has good points on some issues, but this is coloring my entire view of her writing, Fay.
This is by no means a perfect bill, but it is a start. If this doesn't pass it will be the death knell of America's middle class. Sure, I want a public option, but something has to be done to keep the greedy, profit-driven health insurance companies in check.
Ok, Dennis caved and changed his longstanding "nay" to a "yea". Now can we move on and address the 27 or so Dems who are the true roadblocks to passage of this bill. Why do we not know the names of the Representatives that voted for the original bill but now secretly voice their opposition to the Senate bill? Why are their names and faces not plastered on the nightly cable "news" programs and blogs? Why are these people allowed to hide in the shadows while Mr. Kucinich is paraded around as a sacrificial scapegoat?

I'm saddened that he gave in. But I don't blame him for not wanting to be the posterboy of killing healthcare.
They're getting some attention in the mainstream media, Charles, if you consider the New York Times mainstream: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/16/us/politics/20100316-health-care-dems.html?hp
Hit return too soon. I think Kucinich got a lot of attention because he's been out for a lot of attention for a long time. He ran for President. He consistently takes positions on issues that are both earnest and so completely outside the mainstream that he's something of a known quantity in the country. So -- yeah, he got singled out, but in part because he's made himself a lightning rod.
From my understanding of this bill, it will still leave the advantages with the racketeers known as insurance companies.

My out-of-pocket costs for meds alone is in the neighborhood of $130,000 per year. If an insurance company refuses to insure me based on my pre-existing condition then they pay a fine of $100 per day in accordance with the new bill. That equates to roughly $36,000 per year in fines which saves them almost $100,000 by refusing me coverage. Their plus column would tally even higher with every hospital stay I experience.

What does this bill do about rescission, one of the most lucrative practices of the insurance sector? And the attempts to tie this in with Medicaid don't mean a lot when greater numbers of health practitioners are refusing Medicaid patients.

I'm just very, very skeptical of this and Kucinich's about face seems directed more at keeping a Republican from the White House in 2012 than most anything else. Ironically, Romney looks to be the Repub shaping up best for that run right now and he brought a similar version of this healthcare plan to Massachusetts during governorship.
Kevin, my understanding is that there's language prohibiting rescission with major fines for companies that do it, and possibly a California-style waiting period. You're right, though, that it doesn't now and still won't after HCR passage make financial sense for an insurance company to take on your medication bills, and maybe they will opt to pay the fines. It will leave advantages with the big insurers, but it will also do something to lessen the advantage. Cold comfort -- perhaps not comfort at all -- but still worth passing. Once it's on the books, there can be further discussions of amendments and additions, one would hope, just as Kucinich said.

Romney... I think he's run pretty far away from that position since then, hasn't he? Republicans even deny that Masscare is anything like this bill, hoping to shield him.
He should have stuck to his guns. Forcing people to buy insurance is unconstitutional. It's not even a direct tax, it's forcing people to give insurance companies business. And the plan will cost a trillion dollars to boot. Paris Hilton could write a better health bill.
I go to Cracker Barrel and the world turns, and I miss it. Thanks to you and Heather for updating.
There's a lesson there about going to Cracker Barrel and not bringing me back a biscuit. :)
Jane is the perfect that is the enemy of the good -- well, in this case the not so good.

While I hold out little hope for this bill reducing costs, and while it will surely INCREASE profits for health insurers, and while it is fraught with danger because if it fails to achieve most of its promises, which sad to say is likely, it will end as far as I can see into the future any chance of real reform -- despite all that, I can only ask Jane. FDL and unlikely ally the FCR (Frozen Chosen Republicans) what's the alternative? The status quo? The status quo is a delusion of so-called conservative who do not understand the simplest facts of life -- one of them being, nothing remains the same.

Without reform things WILL change, and not for the better. So unwelcome as this change may be -- and for me it certainly is unwelcome -- it is by far the lesser of evils. And that is the same sad conclusion Kucinich came to -- the same conclusion any thoughtful person must reluctantly come to.

To Jane and her kind I can only say, et tu?
"Forcing people to buy insurance is unconstitutional. "

I take it you ride the bus, then? E-freakin-nuff already with this "unconstitutional" business every time people don't like something.
Beautifully rendered, Saturn. I don't know that I'd heard about Vic Snyder. What a shame. Thanks for this.
"Forcing people to buy insurance is unconstitutional. "

I take it you ride the bus, then? E-freakin-nuff already with this "unconstitutional" business every time people don't like something.
RickyB
March 17, 2010 05:54


Maybe you should try reading the Constitution. Then come back and explain it all to us.
RickyB

The car insurance rebuttal is the most lame thing I've ever heard.

You are not required to buy car insurance. You are not even, in most states, required to buy car insurance to drive a car. In a lot of states you can prove that you have the financial means to cover costs in the event of an wreck. You can post cash, you can buy a bond, you can put up your Soros size financial statement. However, most people just buy insurance or they don't drive. I don't have car insurance.

On the other hand, if you draw a breath, you have to buy health insurance. No way around it unless you have religious beliefs against it. Wait, didn't they just put a child's parent's in jail because he died because they prayed for him instead of taking him to the doctor? Let's think about that one.

Your car insurance/health insurance comparison holds as much water as a colander.
Nah, it's not that simple. There are at least three ways to be exempt from paying for health care under the current proposal. If you can show you have health care insurance (similar to showing the means to pay outright with car insurance), you're excused. If you can show you don't have the means to have health care, you're excused from paying. If you have religious objections, you're excused. If you qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, you're excused.

But sure, the car insurance comparison has some holes. I still say amen to RickyB's comment that there's been enough of the unconstitutional argument. Health Care Reform isn't unconstitutional anymore than Medicare is.
Because I had hernia surgery to repair an in-line hernia from a previous surgery 20 years ago when I gave my sister a kidney all the major carriers refused to insure me when we lost our coverage which cost about 10,000 per year. The quote for open enrollment was 18,000 per year with a 10,000 dollar deductible. No office visits, no drug coverage. So in order to even see a benefit I have to spend 28,000 out of pocket plus any drugs before the insurance would kick in. Any carry over to the next year starts the 28,000 clock. Sure the insurance company will insure you under the new plan, but there is no prevision for how much they will charge.

This bill does nothing to reform the monopoly insurance companies, the out billions of surplus the non-profit hospitals are making (4.3 billion last year) and the over charging of non insured patients.

My wife and I take care of ourselves and pay for our medical out of pocket which comes to less than 3,000 per year. If I am forced to pay 18,000 plus the out of pocket that means money for retirement will be gone. For what so the insurance companies and hospitals can reap billions more from the tax payer.

Being self employed already means I pay about 15% for SS, add the forced insurance cost and I will officially be working for the government because they will take the majority of my earnings.

This bill is a step forward like the war in Iraq is a step forward for world peace.
Blackflon and Catnlion, we live in a society with a social contract. Libertarianism makes sense if we were lone wolves, but the human species tends toward groups. We require marriage licenses if we're to marry, garage sale permits if we're to sell old clothes, a liquor license if we're to sell liquor. We also have to attend school until we're 18. The point is, as a society we've agreed on several requirements. As the right wingers were so famous for saying to the left during the last eight years: You can always go elsewhere.
Saturn, I checked out the 38 wavering Congressmen on the NYT website. Surprised to see Marcy Kaptur on the list. She breathed fire in Capitalism a Love Story. And Scott Murphy (he took over Kirstin Gillibrand's seat)--I worked for him. Guess I regret that. Jane Hamsher is almost entirely a force for good so I'm all for giving her a pass on this issue, it's quite understandable that someone could be very pissed off about this bill.
M Todd, as the Ezra Klein article points out, this is much, much more likely to help you with what sounds like a particularly terrible situation than it is to make it worse. I'll just quote: 1) Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations -- whether you want to or not.
For the 85 percent of the country already covered by health-care insurance, it doesn't force "you" to do anything at all. People on Medicare are not going to be paying money to private insurance. People with employer-based care will not see their situation change.

For the nearly 50 million Americans caught in the ranks of the uninsured, here's the deal: The bill expands Medicaid, a public program, to cover about 20 million of, uh, "you." Private insurance gets nothing. If you make more than 133 percent of the poverty line, but less than 400 percent, there's a huge system of new subsidies to help you afford private coverage. There are also new regulations on insurers forcing them to spend between 80 percent and 85 percent of every premium dollar on medical care, barring them from rejecting you or charging you higher premiums due to preexisting conditions, ensuring they can't place any annual caps on insurance benefits, and more.


I can't see how this would be worse than having to pay out of pocket in case of a catastrophe.
It's not a perfect bill by any means. But.... I think we've GOT to get this passed, for our sakes and to get any kind of handle on health care costs. To end up with nothing after a century of waiting and a year of all this sturm und drang would be the ultimate disaster. Once we get it passed we can continue to agitate to make it better. over time. It's a start, not be all and end all this is what you get forever
This gave a clear perspective on some things I had questions about.

Thank you for the effort.

rated. favorited.
Saturn it will not help me because of income level will provide government subsidy so I pay the full boat. And despite the PR BS about how great this new bill is, it will most likely destroy this country so I guess I should not worry about retirement. The government can't stay in budget now, adding one trillion dollars may be the magic number that will do it. Of course right now they are saying the savings will pay for themselves, but it was not to long ago Bush said the Iraq war would pay for itself and that was 1.4 trillion dollars ago.

Or maybe since I will be forced to pay 9.5 percent of my income to a corrupt insurance and hospital industry with little or no benefit I will screw the low fat diet and exercise and hope to have a major medical bill just to fuck them.

Of course the idea of actual reforming the insurance industry or the hospital industry is out of the question because they already have their deals with the Government, just like the military contractors, banks and oil companies.

Think about it if the AMA, hospital association, and insurance companies support this bill do you really think it has the best interest of the average American at heart?
It's a crap bill that does almost nothing to address the real problems with health care in this country; I'm with Jane Hamsher. The honest truth is that there isn't much difference these days between Dems and "scandal-plagued Republicans." Both sides are little better than whores for corporate interests.
The bill is deeply flawed. But it can be fixed -- and it must be. That's Jane's point. This bill reforms nothing. It merely includes more individuals in the iron jaws of the healthcare industry.

Sadly, the bill will not be fixed, which means that a very different type of fix is in.

This bill...

• Institutionalizes the de facto overthrow of Roe v. Wade via prohibitions on use of healthcare insurance for elective abortions.

• Does nothing to cut healthcare costs, and so will provide a handy target for Republicans playing on people's fears about budget deficits while we wait four years for the positive aspect to cut in.

• Permits the insurance companies to raise premiums to make up for virtually any reason they can concoct and pass muster before what will inevitably become a captive federal overseer.

• Kills any chance for fundamental, serious reform because the healthcare industries, obeying the Supreme Court's new dictate on corporate political giving, from now on will be able to elect a Congress totally to their liking -- which Congress will bend the new law so that it is useless.

• Will be seen as the swan song of the Democratic Party in Congress and probably the Presidency.

The ragging on Jane Hamsher is entirely too nasty, kind of giddy and kind of cruel.

Let's face it, what this article and the comments that follow it demonstrate is that sellouts on the healthcare issue, having won through realpolitik, and Democrats who never exercised a muscle for healthcare reform (though they yammered a lot) now want to demean those who would call them out for their weakness. That's real calumny. No wonder the Party is in tatters.
PS Oh yeah. Remember the Public Option? Competition? An escape hatch for those -- which will be the majority of Americans, mark my words -- find no relief? How conveniently we forget this basic betrayal. Will the Senate put it into the bill, now that the House has kissed it off? Why don't we just turn around and invite the healthcare industry kick us all in the butts in the interest of political comity? Saps.
Saturn Smith remaked that Kucinich had made it clear that, among the reasons he decided to vote for the bill, is because he saw that by not doing so he would have delegitimized Obama. Smith went on to state how interesting was Kucinich's observation. It was more than interesting, it was simultaneously baffling and revelatory. Kucinich was telling us, that he saw no legitmacy in Obama, but, nevertheless, felt sorry for him. Though, until this moment, I've always admired Kucinich, I've always had the feeling that he was a little soft in the head. This view that a nay vote would have revealed Obama's lack of substance and legitimacy, is proof positive. In other words, Kucinich is voting to support a unlegitmate president. Since his earlier, and seemingly unrelenting opposition to the bill was a principled one, he's made a fool of himself, while revealing Obama for the charlatan he is. Kucinich may have "principles," but they're not strong enough to set him adrift without a party to support him and give him credibility. Kucinich, with this one decision, has destroyed any honor and distinction he had.
Fascinating and revealing.

I'm so curious about both Kucinich and Howard Dean - who were exhorting against this bill - and who are now both "for" it.

And yes, we've lost a statesman of integrity in Vic Snyder. Anybody with ability is running away from D.C.
I don´t know.... I´m still not voting for any comprehensive Health Care Bill as I as a retired American living off shore am still not eligible for benefits under US Social health coverage. So what am I talking about ?

I understand that due to Private American Interests there won´t be anything like all Europeans enjoy but that´s beside the point.... The point is that thousands of uneligible for one reason or another people now get insurance... and I wish them luck with the favor....
From the GripeVine.... & Donah..//
I have read up on this a bit more, as my rescission stats were still fuzzy between all the bills. The point is not so much the fines that are faced, but the illegality. Fortis was found guilty of rescission last year, before it was even in violation of the law, and they've had to pay $10 million to the person whose insurance they rescinded. This would allow legal remedies beyond the fines; a pattern of breaking the law could allow a company to lose its certification, which has never been true in cases of rescission before (though perhaps in California).
Why not vote for it? The president has made it clear that it is not going to go away and this means that will be held over every representative's head (Both Parties) as an example of legislative inertia for as long as the current administration is in office.