NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Children's Health Care Rant
This healthcare debate has me all riled up. All riled up. And you know how I get when I am all riled up – verbose. So let me just tell you, I have spent all day gathering everything you need to take action on this issue. Confused about SCHIP? I got your facts. Unsure how to counter the right-wing spin? I got your answers. Don’t know what to do to help? I got your action plan. Read on, folks, we have work to do.


In an age where many voters think there are no real differences between the parties we couldn’t make up an example to more starkly demonstrate the substantive differences in our values. For the love of God, the issue is literally whether or not we’re going to protect our most vulnerable – our children – by providing them basic healthcare.

(Side note: For a more amusing and less overwrought frame on this issue, check out Jon Stewart’s clip from Friday. He spends 7 minutes filleting Bush and his deluded congressional lackeys for their inexplicable position on this bill. Jon frames it as “taking money from cigarettes and giving it to poor sick children.” Which Bush vetoes. Jon says, “you know, I thought something like that could only be done by cartoon villains. Mr. President, you’re slowly going from Nixon to Mr. Burns. That’s not good.” Classic Daily Show – check it out.)

But, back to your melodramatic president: I for one am not going to let this override vote go by without a fight. I don’t care whether or not we can use this vote against vulnerable Republicans next year – how many kids have to face illness and even death for us to decide this is enough. This is where the line is. We do not accept it. It ends here.

Are you with me? ARE YOU WITH ME?


There are two calls to make in Georgia. Rep. Jim Marshall (DINO, 8th District) voted against the House bill. That’s right. Democrat. From Georgia. Voted against health care for kids. Make the call.

He may not represent you directly, but he is standing in the way of funding to help all of Georgia’s children. And, chances are, you helped campaign for him last year. Chances are, you wrote a check for him last year. Chances are, you celebrated his victory last year. Chances are, if his vote stands, he will get NOTHING from metro area Dems next year.

Second, I suggest that you also call Senator Saxby Chambliss. There is next to no chance he’ll change his vote, but by God he *does* represent you and he is up for re-election in 15 months. Let him know you’re watching.

In addition to the Georgia politicians, there are a handful of Republicans currently being targeted by the House leadership as possible switchers – mostly due to being vulnerable next year rather than possbile ideological kinship. A call from you to their Washington office couldn’t hurt. Just tell them they are standing in the way of healthcare for kids in the US and that you hold them accountable. Maybe you can’t vote for or against them, but you can exercise your First Amendment right to send money to their opponent, and a vote against health care for sick kids will force your hand.

Here’s the list of targeted Republicans linked to their contact information:
Steve Chabot (R, Ohio 1st)
Thelma Drake (R, Virginia 2nd)
Tom Feeney (R, Florida 24th)
Sam Graves (R, Missouri, 6th)
Randy Kuhl, (R, New York, 29th)
Jim Saxton (R, New Jersey, 3rd)
Tim Walberg (R, Michigan 7th)

Same message to the Democrats who voted against the issue (can anyone explain why Dennis Kucinich is on here? Anyone? Asking for real…)
Dan Boren (D, Oklahoma 2nd)
Kathy Castor (D, Florida, 11th)
Bob Etheridge (D, North Carolina, 2nd)
Baron Hill (D, Indiana 9th) (scroll to bottom of page)
Dennis Kucinich (D, Ohio 10th)
Mike McIntyre (D, North Carolina 7th)
Gene Taylor (D, Mississippi 4th)


I’ve been reading all afternoon, and what you think is basically true. SCHIP good. President bad.
To read an excellent summary of SCHIP policy, including summaries of the original House and Senate reauthorization bills, and the Administration ‘guidance’ on the issue, read the Kaiser Family Foundation briefing.

To read a summary of the impact of the SCHIP legislation on PeachCare and Georgia’s children, check out the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute briefing and don’t forget to make a donation to the gbpi while you’re there.


But no one's dealing in facts, so how do you handle the myths?

First, let’s handle this immigration one. Cause I think this is probably big in Georgia.

MYTH: SCHIP will let illegal immigrants get free health care.
FACT: SCHIP is not available to illegal immigrants. SCHIP is not even available to LEGAL immigrants. During the conference committee discussions, Republicans successfully re-instated the current five year waiting period for *legal* immigrants.

So why are they claiming that it will be open to illegal immigrants? The claim is, apparently, based on a change in the way that applicants will prove their citizenship because the existing method doesn’t work. But bottom line, it’s race-baiting. Illegal immigrants are NOT eligible.

What about this claim that “upper middle class” families will be covered?

MYTH: Families making up to $83,000 will be covered by SCHIP.
FACT: Bullshit, bunkum, nonsense. This number is based on a single cherry-picked instance of a waiver request from a single state in the entire ten years of the program. And the request was turned down.

And I will tell you what else is bullshit. The Administration has come out with “Poor kids first” as their tri-syllabic talking point on this. The Administration proposal says that if a state wanted to go above 250% of poverty, they would have to first prove that 95% of the kids in the 100-200% range were covered first. Now, this MAY sound reasonable on the face of it – of course you want to make sure your resources go the most needy kids, but it’s actually not reasonable, and they know it. Achieving a 95% participation rate – they might as well say the kids have to fly to the moon, or perform their own bone marrow transplants. SCHIP is a voluntary program. Even Medicare Part B only achieves 93% participation, and that is an “opt-out” plan, meaning you have got it by default unless you specifically say you don’t want it. 95% is a bullshit number. He just wants to make it impossible to go above 250%. Asshole.

So, we’ve been race-baited and lied to….why not throw in red-baiting too…

MYTH: This is a step towards “Socialized” medicine. (Oh! My! God!)
FACT: Wait, first of all, what does that even MEAN? What is the fear? There are a couple of responses here.

1) Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley may have answered this best. Here is what he had to say (read it yourself here) "The bill is not a government takeover of health care. The bill is not socialized medicine. Screaming `socialized medicine' during a health care debate is like shouting `fire' in a crowded theater. It is intended to cause hysteria that diverts people from looking at the facts. To those of you who make such outlandish accusations, I say, go shout `fire' somewhere else. Serious people are trying to get real work done. Now's the time to get this done." Well said, well said. Are you paying attention, Ms. Pelosi? That’s how you tell the President to jump in a lake.
2) But here’s another response… “No it’s not:” if what you mean is a program administered by the government. The VA – now that’s socialized medicine. But SCHIP is the government contracting with private insurance plans, just like a private employer. Insurance companies run the plan and private providers give the care. This is not a government-run plan. But I might add…
3) A third response: “It might be:” if what you fear is the government paying for some of it. But what’s wrong with that? Think the kids’ parents are freeloading? Well, almost no one pays for their own health insurance by themselves. The American model has been that employers pay the bulk of it – and you pay a little. Emphasis on a little. In SCHIP, many families pay into the program just like I do at work, and they have copays, too. So they are paying about what they would IF they had a job with decent benefits – they are not freeloading any more than any of us who depend on our employers to pay. So, the collective “we” pays to defray insurance costs for the community either through taxes or through higher prices on goods and services that those companies pass on to us. Who cares? ALSO note: the President, the Vice President, the entire cabinet, and the entire congress have government-sponsored health insurance. And so do our senior citizens through Medicare. Why do we begrudge the kids?
4) But you know what? Maybe we should just say “bring it on.” If what this means to you is that expanding SCHIP is a step towards universal healthcare, I say, You’re damn right it is, and about time. Our current system doesn’t work – kids, seniors, adults – too many are uninsured, many more are underinsured, and nearly all of us are struggling with an out-of-control system that doesn’t meet our needs. Our system is arbitrary, unfair, and immoral. And the collective “we” pays more for uninsured and underinsured than we would if we just covered everyone with a single payer system. So there is some sort of Phyrric victory if what you want is to make sure no lazy welfare recipient gets a free ride – congratu-fucking-lations. So we’re cutting off our nose to spite our face and meanwhile, our American companies are at a competitive disadvantage, groaning under the pressure of providing care, cutting benefits to the bone and limiting coverage to fewer and fewer employees. Foreign companies are opting to locate plants and branches in places where the government provides health care, like the Toyota plant in Canada. And insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank while they squeeze us all – declining benefits we thought we had, forcing us through bureaucratic hoops to trump up reasons to deny coverage. It’s a broken embarrassment of a mess and yes, people are literally dying because of it. If this is the best we can manage – covering 2-4 million kids when there are millions and millions more that need help. If this is the best we can manage, I’ll take it as a feeble start. God bless America.

So, there it is. If you want more, here are two great sources I found to help you debunk the myths.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities “Myths” Brief

Post from Wide Open – Political Blog in Ohio

I apologize for the crazy-long post. But clearly if you had time to get through all of this, you have time to place a few calls. Let’s get this done. Let’s get mad, let’s stand up to the crazy man. We can override this veto – we need this bill.

Go get ‘em.
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posted by Emily Schunior at 10/07/2007 07:05:00 PM


Blogger Aaron Karp said...

I'm constantly amazed by the states of both health care and health care debate in this country. I don't understand how essentially everyone who doesn't work for an insurance or pharmaceutical company can agree that the system is totally broken, yet real discussion (not action, mind you - just discussion) remains apparently impossible. As you said, so many are without any insurance, and those of us lucky enough to have it continually find that the coverage it provides is being ratcheted down while the costs are being ratcheted up. Unfortunately, the whole thing ends up just like so many other elements of the Bush legacy - we've ventured so far into the absurd and mind-bendingly wrong that we can't even begin to frame a reasonable discussion of options.

10/09/2007 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger GeorgiaValues said...

I am proud to see our Senators, the President, and Jim Marshall standing up for fiscal restraint and for Georgia taxpayers.

This bill is simply a massive increase in government entitlements. It needs to be stopped.

Saxby has a video on YouTube where he talks about his position on the issue. Check it out...


10/09/2007 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Aaron Karp said...

georgiavalues - Thanks for posting the link to Chambliss's explanation, but I have to note that Emily's post addressed his objections to start with.

10/09/2007 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger GeorgiaValues said...

You're welcome Aaron, glad to be able to help.

Remember, the Democrats are in control here. They should simply push for a reauthorization of the bill, instead of calling for a massive expansion of the program and for a massive tax increase.

Reid and Pelosi are in charge and they should address this problem in a constructive manner instead of grandstanding and saying Republicans are against poor children. People aren't stupid.

10/09/2007 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

It bewilders me how the Democratic spin machine is at work here trying to frame the debate.

The expansion of this program puts a huge burden on taxpayers and the already stretched healthcare system.

10/09/2007 01:18:00 PM  
Blogger Aaron Karp said...

georgiavalues - "Grandstanding" is a tricky thing. As you can see from Emily's post, this is an issue about which we Democrats feel very strongly (well, most of us, as some of our own voted against the bill), so our reaction to the veto is quite strong and passionate. Passionate argument for anything can seem unseemly, and I know that I have called Republican passion "grandstanding" in the past, so I understand where you're coming from.

As to a simple reauthorization of the bill, I disagree that that's the right way to go. The goal is to insure more of the uninsured. The program is successful, and the money needed to deliver its benefits to more who need them will be delivered via a tax on cigarettes, a major contributor to health problems. I don't see the harm there. Admittedly, though, I'm not a smoker.

Chris - I don't understand the burden this places on the health care system. Uninsured people tend to use the emergency room for primary care, which is typically cited as one of the major problems facing the health care system today. By insuring kids, it would seem (to me, at least) that we're making their care more manageable and preventing a lot of future problems by giving them access to proper preventative care.

To the notion (also raised by Chris) that this constitutes a massive tax increase, it would be callous of me to say "only to smokers." Still, as I mentioned before, smoking is a major cause of health problems, and using it to provide better access to health care simply doesn't bother me.

10/09/2007 02:17:00 PM  

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