Category Archives: health care

Politikal Culture


Here’s my latest venture. A unique forum to discuss politics and culture.  It’s also the official home of the Monster Militia, dedicated to the fun radio stations of Real Radio 104.1 in Orlando. A fun place to be you…join us at POLITIKAL CULTURE!

 

It’s Now A War on Contraception


In the aftermath of the stunning reaction of extremist Catholic Bishops (you know…the guys who’ve taken an oath of celibacy) to President Obama’s recent rules regarding contraception, nothing rings more true than the fact that the Class Warfare initiated by the Republican Party and it’s increasingly effective off-shoot, the Tea Party, have a strong and hate-filled contingent of those waging not only a War on the Poor and Middle Class, but a War on Women.

First there was the fiasco that nearly (and may still) bring the once-honorable Susan G. Komen Foundation to it’s knees in submission thanks to a political agenda set forth by Republican and staunch opponent of Planned Parenthood, Karen Handel, who weaseled her way into the hierarchy of that group. What came out of the bloody fray was a once proud Foundation whose name will from now on connote the seedy side of political posturing and influence.

Next was the recent contraception policy set forth by the Administration that precipitated a manufactured outrage from the religious right, Constitutionalists, and the Catholic Church in particular.

Failing to realize the issue had less to do with a constitutional freedom of religion issue and more to do with the right of the individual, regardless of employer or religion, to seek contraception in pursuit of their own health, financial status, and well-being, the religious right used the issue to return to their heyday of the 1980’s, that of the so-called Moral Majority – of which they are neither.

The issue should have been a non-sequitur following the President’s compromise making the issue one between the patient and the patient’s insurer, which it always should have been. With support from the Catholic Health Organization, who’s Director, Sister Carol Keehan stated the resolution “protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions”,  while the Catholic United issued a statement of support stating that President Obama “has shown [them] that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic Institutions”.

Other groups and institutions praising the President’s compromise include:

Catholic Charities: “Catholic Charities USA welcomes the Administration’s attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community and we look forward to reviewing the final language. We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and are committed to continuing our work to ensure that our religious institutions will continue to be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs, while also being committed to providing access to quality healthcare for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country.”

Rev. John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame” “We applaud the willingness of the administration to work with religious organizations to find a solution acceptable to all parties.”

Broad Coalition of Faith Community Leaders: “Today the Obama administration announced an important regulation that will protect the conscience rights of religious organizations and ensure that all women have access to contraception without a co-payment. We applaud the White House for listening carefully to the concerns raised by religious leaders on an issue that has provoked heated and often misinformed debate. This ruling is a major victory for religious liberty and women’s health. President Obama has demonstrated that these core values do not have to be in conflict.”

That should have brought an end to the consternation. But no! The Catholic Bishops (you know – those guys who’ve taken an oath of celibacy) still aren’t happy!

President Obama’s effort to accommodate the Catholic Church by altering his administration’s rule on birth control coverage has not appeased the church, congressional Republicans or GOP candidates trying to take his job next year.

Their continued anger over a requirement that nearly all employers offer free insurance coverage for contraception — even with changes Obama announced Friday (Feb. 10) for faith-based institutions that object on religious grounds — guarantees that the issue will percolate throughout the presidential election season.

Nor are the politicians who, on any other day, oppose telling others what to do:

Republican leaders in Congress stuck by their plans to overturn the requirement with legislation. The issue “will not go away until the administration backs down,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on CBS’ ”Face the Nation.”

Three of Obama’s potential opponents in November — Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich — thundered against funding birth control under Medicaid or through employer subsidies, calling it a radical overreach by government.

Where will this go? Who will win The War on Contraception? We now have politicians introducing “Personhood” legislation at both the State and National level. We have one State Senator introducing a bill granting “Personhood” not only to embryos, but to sperm!

“However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”

Will the misogynistic actions of the religious right devolve even further into banning not only contraceptives, but condoms?

Will we be arresting men who masturbate into socks and charge them with murder? 

Let’s hope not. But – considering the insanity we’re seeing today – could it happen?

Another question: What if this craziness actually does result in the banning of contraceptives and condoms? Who will be charged with raising the millions of unwanted children born to mothers who don’t want them?

Catholic Charities?

The Rape of Florida Medicaid


The other day, in my post Without a Doctor, I claimed that the Medicare system here in Florida had been raped by the gubernatorial administrations of Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist; thus decimating their effectiveness as originally envisioned.

In the comments section of The VSJ, in ekg’s post They Really Will Stop at Nothing…our sparring partner lilMike, in a reply to me, asked:

Medicaid in Florida is trashed because Republicans have ruined it?

The short answer: YES! ABSOLUTELY!

In 1965, President Johnson signed the law establishing Medicare and Medicaid. The original purpose of the Medicaid program was:

The Medicaid program, authorized under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, was enacted to provide health care services to low-income children deprived of parental support, their caretaker relatives, the elderly, the blind, and individuals with disabilities.

Going way back to the days of Gov. Claude Kirk (whom I had the pleasure to know personally, regardless of his political leanings), Medicaid has been a prime target of Republican Death Squads.

Gov. Bob Martinez (whom I worked under while with the Florida Board of Nursing) cut, sliced, and pared Medicaid at an alarming rate, especially with regards to our elderly.

But it wasn’t until the reign of Jeb Bush (for whom I billed Medicaid and Medicare at a home health agency) that Medicaid in this state went under the greatest change.

One of Jeb’s first actions upon taking office was to kill his predecessor’s, Lawton Chiles (the only Florida governor in recent history to actually care about health care for children, the disabled and the poor) health care initiative for individuals and small businesses, the Florida Health Care Purchasing Alliance.

But that wasn’t Jeb’s first foray into the rape of Medicaid. In 2003:

Governor Bush is proposing to drop health care and long-term care coverage for about 26,000 seniors and people with disabilities, although they would retain prescription drug coverage.  The governor also is proposing steep increases in co-payments for prescription drugs, which likely would make it harder for some poor patients to afford their medications.  The state already implemented modest cuts in the Medicaid eligibility of elderly and disabled people last year.

In 2005, Jeb had the bright idea (not!) to be among the first to follow his brother George’s edict to make state Medicaid coverage over modeling it like (get this!) a health insurance company, complete with limits on coverage:

Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, both Republicans, have proposed radical changes intended to inject market forces and competition into Medicaid. Under their proposals, the state would give Medicaid recipients a fixed amount of money to buy health care or private insurance.

Under Governor Bush’s proposal, Florida would contribute a fixed amount toward coverage for each Medicaid beneficiary. Patients could use the money to “opt out of Medicaid altogether and purchase health care insurance in the private market,” Mr. Bush said.

(Ironically, today Jeb is on the board of Tenet Healthcare, the same company required to repay the government over 900 million dollars in Medicare and Medicaid overpayments and is plagued by scandal after scandal.)

Even today, Jeb Bush’s failed Medicaid managed care decisions are affecting the State negatively:

”We’ve done the experiment. It has failed,” said Durell Peaden, the Senate’s health care budget chief. “The reports are unsettling. People couldn’t get to specialists, couldn’t get adequate care. And they couldn’t do it cheaply.”

I’m sure Lawton Chiles, the only Florida governor in 40 years to care about it’s citizens, is rolling in his grave right now
 
The son of Gov. Lawton Chiles said today Gov. Charlie Crist has “betrayed” needy children and old people by raiding a tobacco-funded trust fund for $700 million needed to balance Florida’s budget.
 

Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?


Is it a right? Are the American people guaranteed good health?

That’s a question I’ve seen a lot over the past year or so. Many of those opposed to health care reform often cite the Constitution; usually with the rally cry,

WE THE PEOPLE

Perhaps they should read a little further…

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Here’s the definition of “Welfare” from Merriam Webster: “of, relating to, or concerned with welfare and especially with improvement of the welfare of disadvantaged social groups…”

From The Free Dictionary: “Health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being.”

We The People, Indeed!

Compassionate Conservatives?


Yesterday, over at the VSJ, my friend ekg stated:

They really will stop at nothing…

She’s right. This, my friends, is the Republican Party/Tea Baggers response to Americans in need:

Meanwhile, the right wing front group for the health insurers, Americans for Prosperity, has this commercial running in the district of Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, (D) PA:

Obviously it’s false and indicative of the mass of lies we’ll be seeing in the next few days.

The truth? From PolitiFact:

A new TV ad from Americans for Prosperity, a group opposing the health reform bill, suggests that screening mammograms for women under 50 would be in jeopardy if the health reform bill passes…There’s an awful lot of misinformation and distortion packed into to these few sentences, and we’ll have to take them one at a time.

More from PolitiFact…

From Rep. Dahlkemper:

These attacks from a Washington-based front group are false, tasteless, and shameful,… “In the past month, I’ve lost both my parents to cancer. It’s truly disgraceful for outside groups to then attack me for not being tough enough on cancer.

Like millions of Americans, my family and I have lost loved ones to this horrible disease. This is personal for me; I’ve been a strong proponent of the Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation and the work they are doing to find a cure, and I’ve encouraged more cancer screenings, particularly for women. My record and dedication are clear.

Without a Doctor?


(The following commentary of mine was published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal today.)

There’s been a lot of talk in our state about health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid and so on. There’s one side who believes health care is a right, and another believes government intervention in health care is wrong.

We are seeing the penultimate example of why health care reform is so urgently needed in our country. For six years, I witnessed first-hand the rape of Medicaid and Ryan White funding at the hands of Florida’s Republican governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist. What were once viable programs providing health care to people in need became bureaucratic jungles of unpaid claims and unmanageable care based upon rigid guidelines designed not to provide the best health care possible, but to deny payment for health care.

Faced with decreasing payments caused by further cuts to these programs, physicians have been forced to quit seeing patients they care for, thanks to political appointees bogging down the system to “save taxpayers money.”

Ten years ago, this area had five physicians handling HIV patients. Today there are none. Now that Dr. Daniel J. Warner has been booted as “the area’s only certified HIV doctor,” can someone out there explain where the hundreds of patients he’s seen over the years are supposed to go? Many of these patients lack the funds and transportation to go out of our area to see a capable physician. Will they have to see a physician who (most likely) is overwhelmed already? A physician untrained in the complex and ever-changing scope of care these patients need? How does the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida plan on ensuring proper care for these patients?

Here’s a message to Jim L. Mayo, chairman of the Health Planning Council: Instead of donating money to Republican political candidates and health insurance PACs, how about spearheading real reform to health care by supporting our president? Or will Mayo be content with the knowledge that his actions might very well lead to the death of so many patients?