One Day Later…

To say I am shocked is an understatement. Last night was the wildest election I have followed since I started voting. I am absolutely stunned. Some good, mostly bad, but completely and absolutely stunned. I just don’t understand what was going through the voters’ heads.

The mission of our local TEA Party organization was to educate the voters, and it’s clear the local TEA parties had absolutely no effect on the outcome of this election. While I think they had a profound effect on the message during the campaign, they had no effect on the voters decision when choosing candidates.

A few candidates won on name recognition alone, and others who busted their ass, won 98% of the straw polls statewide, and gave it everything they had, ended up being kicked to the curb prematurely.

It’s clear that the Republican voters of Georgia did not pick the best candidate to run against Roy Barnes in November. Sure, we still have a run-off on August 10th, but neither Karen Handel nor Nathan Deal are the best candidate for the job. Both of them are better alternatives than Roy Barnes, but they don’t hold a candle to others where liberty and fiscal conservatism are concerned.

With the governors race we have a surrogate showdown between Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Gingrich has endorsed Deal and Palin has endorsed Handel. This makes the perfect “career politician” surrogate showdown, with actual career politicians in the candidate as well as endorsing positions.

Doesn’t this make you feel like their way of telling you to “assume the position”?

With the availability of information on the internet, there is no excuse for not researching the best candidate. People have really proven how lazy they are, because voter turn out was extremely low too.

Ten percent of the people have determined the course of the general election for the remainder of the population. I would have thought that conservatives (and independents) across the state would have stepped up to make their voices heard last night, and all we got was the sound of the dedicated few who support incumbents and career politicians.

Republicans in Georgia had a chance to prove they had evolved into a better political party with a mindset on liberty, smaller government, and a return to the values of our founding fathers, but instead they handed the primary election over to the career politicians who got us in this mess in the first place.

Disgusted doesn’t even begin to explain what I am feeling.

Conservatives in general have evolved, but those who just call themselves conservatives are still taking the easy road by listening to one particular talking head at a time and ignoring the issues that matter most.

Yeah, to say I am disgusted is definitely an understatement. 😉

Health Care In America: The Republican Alternative

Before I begin the review of the Republican alternative to HR 3962, let me just say one thing.

It was so nice reading a piece of legislation that actually made sense the first time I read it. I didn’t have to cross reference hundreds of different pieces of legislation to figure out what the bill actually said, and I didn’t feel like the text of this amendment was running me in circles.

The Republican alternative to HR 3962 is actually an amendment to the bill. The key being “an amendment in the nature of a substitute”.

Now, before anyone starts stomping their feet and having a hissy fit, I think we all know that Nanny State Nancy will never allow this amendment to come up for a vote, even if she has the votes to defeat it. The last thing she wants is to have this 219 page amendment read on the House floor.

Why? Because it actually makes sense. It isn’t bloated with hundreds of tax hikes, it has no hidden agenda. It simply does (and is) what the title says, “Common Sense Health Care Reform and Affordability Act “. As far as I can tell after reading the bill, it is common sense, it does reform health care, and according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, it does reduce the deficit.

Let’s begin the review.

Division A

Section 101 begins on page 4 and establishes universal access programs for every State and ensures that all Americans, even those in the “high risk” pool have affordable access to health care.

IN GENERAL. – A qualifying State high risk pool described in this subsection means a current section 2745 qualified high risk pool that meets the following requirements:

(A) The pool must provide at least two coverage options, one of which must be a high deductible health plan coupled with a health savings account.

(B) The pool must be funded with a stable funding source.

(C) The pool must eliminate any waiting lists so that all eligible residents who are seek­ing coverage through the pool should be allowed to receive coverage through the pool.

(D) The pool must allow for coverage of individuals who, but for the 24-month disability waiting period under section 226(b) of the Social Security Act, would be eligible for Medicare during the period of such waiting period.

(E) The pool must limit the pool premiums to no more than 150 percent of the average premium for applicable standard risk rates in that State.

(F) The pool must conduct education and outreach initiatives so that residents and brokers understand that the pool is available to eligible residents.

(G) The pool must provide coverage for preventive services and disease management for chronic diseases.

This section concluded within seven pages. I had to read hundreds of pages in Nancy Pelosi’s HR3962 before I could ascertain that the bill specifically allowed waiting lines.

Section 102 eliminates certain requirements for guaranteed availability in individual markets by extending existing HIPAA protections and improving protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Section 103 prohibits any health insurance plan from setting arbitrary annual or lifetime spending caps, which will help those with chronic diseases or some sort of catastrophic medical emergency.

Section 104 prohibits health insurance companies from unlawfully canceling health insurance coverage. HR3692 has no such guarantee. In fact, the only time HR3962 mentions the word cancellation is in reference to loan cancellations.

The remainder of Division A covers topics which will make it easier for consumers to find and compare health insurance plans, make it easier for States to cut health care costs, and to reduce the amount of forms and transactions in health care administration.

Division B

The first few sections of Division B begin by cutting the costs and expanding the access of health insurance for small businesses. Section 201 sets the rules for governing association health plans, Section 202 clarifies single employer arrangements, and sections 203-205 establish the enforcement provisions of those plans and stakes out the cooperation between Federal and State authorities regarding association plans.

Section 211 requires all health care plans to extend coverage of dependents up to age 25, Section 212 allows for automatic enrollment in employer health care plans but it does not require the employee to accept it, and Section 221 is the coup de grace of the Republican alternative. It opens up the health insurance market across state lines.

(1) PRIMARY STATE. – The term ‘primary State’ means, with respect to individual health insur­ance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, the State designated by the issuer as the State whose covered laws shall govern the health insurance issuer in the sale of such coverage under this part. An issuer, with respect to a particular policy, may only designate one such State as its primary State with respect to all such coverage it offers. Such an issuer may not change the designated primary State with respect to individual health insurance coverage once the policy is issued, except that such a change may be made upon renewal of the policy. With re­spect to such designated State, the issuer is deemed to be doing business in that State.

(2) SECONDARY STATE. – The term ‘secondary State’ means, with respect to individual health insurance coverage offered by a health insurance issuer, any State that is not the primary State. In the case of a health insurance issuer that is selling a policy in, or to a resident of, a secondary State, the issuer is deemed to be doing business in that secondary State.

This section alone will reduce the cost of many health insurance plans across the nation. Before I was laid off in January, my employer was based in Maryland, and because we live here in Georgia our health insurance costs for the employer based plan was extremely inflated. I’m sure this provision alone will save the American public (and their employers) billions of dollars each year.

Section 231 and 232 expand current tax credits for IRAs and 401Ks to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and allow for premium payments from those HSAs under certain conditions.

Division C

The sections in Division C deal with medical liability reform by setting a statute of limitations for claims, capping non-economic damages to $250,000, limits punitive damages, and protects States with existing medical liability laws. No provision within this division of the bill limits the economic damages a claimant may receive. In fact, Section 302 makes sure of that.

In any health care lawsuit, nothing in this title shall limit a claimant’s recovery of the full amount of the available economic damages, notwithstanding the limitation in subsection (b).

Subsection B of Section 302 sets the non-economic limit of damages to $250,000. Remember, the largest component of many liability cases are the economic damages.

Division D

This division explicitly prohibits the federal government from intervening with the treatment process.

Section 401 states,

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship or the practice of med­icine.

Section 402 repeals section 804 (the Federal Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research) of the American Recovery and Reinvestment act to prevent any possibility that the federal government could ration health care based on costs.

Division E

Section 501 provides monetary incentives for prevention and wellness programs. In other words, if employees participated in standards-based wellness programs, employers could offer specific discounts of up to 50% on their health care plan premiums.

Division F

Section 601 increases funding for the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General and the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program.

Section 602 explicitly prohibits any federal funding from being used to pay for abortions,

No funds authorized or appropriated by federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law, shall be ex­pended for any abortion.

and it also prohibits funding for health benefits plans that cover abortion.

None of the funds authorized or appropriated by federal law, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are authorized or appropriated by federal law shall be expended for a health benefits plan that includes coverage of abortion.

This section does remove that limitation in a couple of specific cases,

(1) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or

(2) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is per­formed, including a life-endangering physical condi­tion caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.

and explicitly allows States to offer a supplemental plan which could cover abortion.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as prohibiting any individual, entity, or State or locality from purchasing separate supplemental abortion plan or coverage that includes abortion so long as such plan or cov­erage is paid for entirely using only funds not authorized or appropriated by federal law and such plan or coverage shall not be purchased using matching funds required for a federally subsidized program, including a State’s or locality’s contribution of Medicaid matching funds.

This section also prohibits government discrimination against individual and institutional health care providers.

(a) IN GENERAL. – No funds authorized or appropriated by federal law may be made available to a Federal agency or program, or to a State or local government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any institu­tional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

(b) HEALTH CARE ENTITY DEFINED. – For purposes of this section, the term ‘health care entity’ includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.

In other words, if a doctor has a moral or religious objection to providing abortion services, he cannot be discriminated against at the federal, state, local level.

I have one question with this section. Are pharmacists covered as “health care professionals”?

Sections 603 and 604 improve enforcement of Medicare payment provisions and strengthen Medicare provider enrollment standards.

Section 605 establishes an expansion of the Medicare and Medicaid databases to track banned providers across state lines. Many providers, when they get into trouble in one state, simply move to another state to avoid the mess. This would no longer be possible under this provision of the Republican alternative to HR3962.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall provide for increased coordination between the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (in this section referred to as ”CMS”) and its regional offices to ensure that pro­viders of services and suppliers that have operated in one State and are excluded from participation in the Medicare program are unable to begin operation and participation in the Medicare program in another State.

Division G

The remaining sections of the amendment cover the FDA approval process and expedites the way in which biosimilar drugs will be available on the market when an innovator’s product’s term of patent expires. This will allow quicker access to affordable medications and lower the cost of every health insurance plan that makes them available.

And with that, my review of the 219 page Republican amendment in the nature of a substitution to HR 3962 is complete. It’s short, it’s blunt, and it would do exactly what it says it will do, if it ever got the chance of reaching the House floor.

While many people will be disappointed that this amendment does not raise everyone’s taxes and it doesn’t place their children in a life of servitude to pay the costs of providing health care, this amendment does take some simple, positive steps to true health care reform in our country.

We don’t need a total overhaul of our health system (or our tax system for that matter), but our system does need a few tweaks. The items listed in the Republican amendment tweak our current system by reducing health coverage costs for every American, while reducing the federal deficit by doing so.

You can follow the progress of the Republican amendment (and read some scary reports on HR3962) at the GOP Health Care website.

Finally, we get a real start to the solution for health care reform, and Nancy Pelosi is going to bury it.

Five Thoughts Until Midnight

We were all feeling a bit better today, which is a relief after the week we’ve had around here. No piggy tails though, which is even better.

Thought #1

As I stated a couple nights ago, if President Bush was responsible for the shortage of seasonal flu vaccine a couple years ago, then why isn’t mainstream media asking the same questions or making the same accusations against Barack Obama?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that production of the vaccine is slower than expected. While the CDC had hoped for 40 million doses by the end of October, the real numbers will be about 30 million doses because of manufacturing delays, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC’s director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Could the CDC have been guessing the actual number of swine flu cases rather than reporting the true numbers? It sure sounds like it to me.

Thought #2

For the past several month, while following the health care debate, I have heard many accusations about “profiteering” at health insurance companies. We are told, almost continuously, by the mainstream media that the insurance companies are evil, that they are raking in tons of money while “bodies pile up”.

Well, someone in the media (at the Associated Press no less), did some homework, and it seems those corrupt insurance companies aren’t quite as corrupt as Democrats and their allies would like us to believe.

Health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent, give or take a point or two. That’s anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries, even some beleaguered ones.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she was pleased they will be talking about the “immoral” profits made by the insurance industry.

She actually called insurance companies immoral for making a 6% profit margin while railroads brought in 12.6 percent, network and communications equipment makers raked in 20.4 percent, and Tupperware brought in 7.5%. Clorox, Molson Coors Brewing, and Yum Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell) all brought in more than 8 percent profits.

Shame on those insurance companies for attempting to stay in business. Nanny State Nancy will have none of that!!!

On a quick sidenote, isn’t it ironic? Railroads brought in 12.6% yet Amtrak loses money every year. The same people who run Amtrak, the Post Office, Social Security, and the IRS want to control your health care. Does this make sense, morally or economically?

When has the government made anything more cost efficient, competitive, or affordable? Which brings me to my next thought.

Thought #3

It looks like Nanny State Nancy and her gang of thugs are going to try and re-brand the term “public option” by calling it the “consumer option” or the “competitive option”, both of which are oxymorons much like Nanny State Nancy herself.

We already have a consumer option, it’s called the free market, and there is no competitive option when it comes to government controlling anything. Think Amtrak, the Postal Service, Social Security, and the IRS.

Thought #3

Why is the presidential pooch eating veal? Who’s paying for that?

Bo, a Portuguese water dog, feasted on a cake shaped like a dog house that was made out of veal.

I wonder if the millions of people out work, who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits would like to feast on veal? I bet they could care less about the presidential pooch. I bet they would just like to be working again. Maybe we could focus on actually creating jobs for a while?

Thought #4

There is speculation that the health care bill being negotiated behind closed doors in the Senate could quadruple the payroll tax, and Harry Reid announced today that the Senate version of the bill will indeed contain a “public option”.

Wonderful.

Thought #5

And finally… There is a war raging in New York’s 23rd House District. I am not going to link to any of the hoopla directly because, frankly, I’m sick of it all.

For those of you who don’t follow politics too closely, there is a Republican candidate running who seems to be farther left than many Democrats. An independent who just happens to be conservative is also running for the seat. Many prominent politicians are supporting the independent candidate, while some more “stalwart” Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, are supporting the local party (which backs the RINO).

As an independent conservative, you know who I would be backing, that is, if I lived in NY 23. But I don’t, and neither do any of those prominent politicians backing the candidates and trying to throw their weight around up there in New York.

I live in the 11th District of Georgia, and when it comes to voting in my local elections, I vote for the candidate I think will do the best job, regardless of party, regardless of what other politicians on the national stage might think.

I vote for the best candidate, I vote my concious, I don’t care about party affiliation. I care about what’s best for my family, my community, and my country. Therein lies the reason why I am not a registered member of either party. If I had a letter after my name it would be (I).

(I) vote for the people who will best represent my family in Congress.

(I) vote my concious when it comes to the important questions facing me.

(I) vote for the people who will put our country first, rather than their interests, their wallets, or their egos.

Anyone who votes a straight ticket just to vote for all the (R) or (D) candidates on the ballet is doing more harm than good. Believe it or not, not all Democrats are liberal, and not all Republicans are conservative. It’s time to put country above party, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs an (M), for moron, after their name.

You Shouldn’t Compromise Your Principles

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the $15 billion automaker bailout earlier this week, I was disappointed, but not nearly as disappointed as I was that Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) voted for the bailout. To say I was shocked is an understatement.

Before I get too far into this post, let me make a few statements. I understand that Thaddeus McCotter is from Michigan, a state that has been hit hard by this economic downturn because of their ties to the automotive industry. I understand he is an elected representative, whose job is to represent the constituents who live in his district. And, I understand that many of his constituents probably support the bailout effort and demand that he do so as well.

Rep. McCotter has made no secret of his support of this bailout, yet he adamantly fought against other bailout efforts in the past. Apparently, supporting taxpayer funded programs to prop up failing U.S. businesses is only correct if it happens to involve businesses that have a direct impact on your own district. It’s a shame too, because unlike many other members of Congress, I really didn’t think Rep. McCotter was a hypocrite. I thought he was one of those elected officials we could believe in. You know, someone who we could actually trust and who would stand up on their principles and do the right thing for our country.

It seems I, like many other people, was mistaken.

Continue reading

When Conflict Of Interest Is Ignored

Imagine for a moment that a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives sitting on the House Banking Committee which had jurisdiction over Fannie Mae had a wife who served in a high level positon at Fannie Mae.

Would the shit hit the fan or what? Democrats would be calling for him to step down from the banking committee and calling for a a probe into his ethical conduct while serving on that committee.

But what if the same thing happened, but it was Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) involved with the executive at Fannie Mae?

Unqualified home buyers were not the only ones who benefitted from Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank’s efforts to deregulate Fannie Mae throughout the 1990s.

So did Frank’s partner, a Fannie Mae executive at the forefront of the agency’s push to relax lending restrictions.

Now that Fannie Mae is at the epicenter of a financial meltdown that threatens the U.S. economy, some are raising new questions about Frank’s relationship with Herb Moses, who was Fannie’s assistant director for product initiatives. Moses worked at the government-sponsored enterprise from 1991 to 1998, while Frank was on the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie.

Both Frank and Moses assured the Wall Street Journal in 1992 that they took pains to avoid any conflicts of interest. Critics, however, remain skeptical.

“It’s absolutely a conflict,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of the Business & Media Institute. “He was voting on Fannie Mae at a time when he was involved with a Fannie Mae executive. How is that not germane?

That’s right. Nothing was done. Nothing at all. Read the entire article to read how Frank blocked all attempts at imposing new regulation on Fannie while his lover was working there. Read the entire article to read how far Frank’s fingers are into this entire mess facing us today.

The Blame Game

As you know by now, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the $700 billion bailout yesterday.

In the House, a simple majority rules. Bills can pass by a one vote margin. The Democratic Party has the majority in the House which is comprised of 435 members. 235 are Democrats, 199 are Republican, and 1 seat is vacant. In order to pass this bill today, the Democrats simply needed 218 votes.

Since the vote failed earlier today in a vote of 205-228 (1 member did not vote), I have heard talk from all of the major news outlets that the Republicans were responsible for the failure of this bill.

How did the Republicans kill this bill? That argument just isn’t logical at all.

Sixty-five Republicans voted FOR the measure. Because of those 65 votes, the Democrats simply needed 153 votes from their own party, yet only 140 of them thought voting for the measure was a good idea. Along with 133 Republicans, 95 Democrats voted to kill the bill.

Without any help from Republicans, Nancy Pelosi needed 92.7% of her colleagues to vote for the bill. Because of the number of Republicans that voted for the bill, that number lowered to 65.1%. She ended up with 59.6%. Forty percent of her own caucus voted against her. This vote was an epic fail for the Speaker of the House and it showed the true measure of her leadership.

The American people did not want this bill and I commend the 228 Representatives who stood their ground and actually represented the people.

Visit the U.S. House website to see how your Representative voted.