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Newsletter, What's Going On, April 19, 2011

Donald Trump: “"We must have universal health care. I'm a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one…The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. If the program were in place in Massachusetts in 1999, it would have reduced administrative costs by $2.5 million. We need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.”  From The America We Deserve, written by Donald Trump, published in 2000.  Ezra Klein, quoting David Weigel in Slate.

In advance of the President’s speech last week, Robert Reich posted a blog: Mr. President: Why Medicare Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution.  His post has been very widely quoted and admired. 

But let me be absolutely clear:  I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society.  I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs.  I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves.  We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.

The President

After the speech, the White House released a fact sheet on the health care section of President Obama’s deficit reduction proposal.  Kaiser Family Foundation; Ann Molison, One Payer States Google Group.    Ezra Klein’s summary

An exceptionally fine editorial cartoon.

The Wonkbook: The House voted to repeal a section of health care reform, reports Felicia Sonmez: "The House on Wednesday approved a measure that would repeal the national health care law’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, an account that provides $15 billion over the next decade to state- and community-based preventive health care services. The measure, H.R. 1217, passed on a 236-to-183 vote, with four Democrats joining all Republicans present to vote in favor. The bill is not likely to progress much further, however. President Obama earlier Wednesday issued a threat to veto the measure. 'The bill neither advances the key objectives of the Affordable Care Act of better and more affordable care nor offers alternative solutions for meeting these important objectives,' the White House statement reads."

POLITICO Pulse. CMS ENDS MEDICAL HOME DEMO- An eight-state demo to test the patient-centered medical home delivery system model was quietly canceled by CMS last week. Primary care groups lobbied hard to get the demo authorized in a 2006 law, but offered muted reactions to its cancellation, which was tucked into the bottom of a posting on the CMS website.

 Congressman Paul Ryan proposes to end Medicare as we know it and to replace it with vouchers that permit, but don’t require, elderly people to buy health insurance.  Kevin Drum, at Mother Jones, blogs why this is a bad idea.  Hint: if Grandma chooses not to buy health insurance, then breaks her hip, guess who’s going to pay for her care? 

Kaiser Health News: Bloomberg: Cuccinelli Makes Long-Shot Court Bid To Overturn Obama's Health Care Law Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia attorney general challenging President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, is quick to agree that his request for fast-track review by the U.S. Supreme Court is a long shot. "It is," Cuccinelli said. "But there's so much money at stake for the states and for the private sector and there's so much uncertainty produced in the economy because of this legislation that it was worth the ask." Cuccinelli's bid, which asks the justices to consider the law's constitutionality without waiting for an appeals court to rule, marks the first time a state challenge to the law has reached the nation's highest court. (Stohr, 4/18).  Late note: the Supreme Court was expected to issue a ruling yesterday.  While it issued rulings on other motions, it did not mention Cuccinelli’s.  Multiple possible explanations.

Health Wonk Review: A couple weeks ago CMS released draft rules for Accountable Care Organizations. Several bloggers weighed in on that development:  “On a more downbeat note, The Road to Health concludes, ‘Dr. Berwick and his colleagues at CMS appear to have taken the ACO concept and made it into a financial program that only delusional practice administrators, or physician organizations bent on financial self-destruction, could love.’”  And: The Covert Rationing Blog –always good for a lighthearted pick me up– “asserts that we are one giant step closer to the day when it will become illegal for all Americans to spend their own money on their own healthcare.”

Paul Krugman: “So, people are always asking what I would do about health care costs. One answer is that I would do all the things that are in the Affordable Care Act, and more.  But if you want a really radical proposal — but one that, unlike privatization, actually has strong evidence on its side — why not add a true public option to Medicare?  What do I mean by that? I mean creating a network of hospitals and clinics actually run by the government — a civilian VA, as Phillip Longman puts it — and giving Medicare recipients the option of using that system.”  more

James Fallows of The Atlantic Magazine has a thoughtful column, “Undoing Medicare: the Real Death Tax.”  Joan McCarter, of Daily Kos, comments on it.

There will be a hearing May 3 on Maine’s proposed single-payer legislation. John Newton jwjnewton@gmail.com  One Payer States Google Group.

Washington Post: Massachusetts, pioneer of universal health care, now may try new approach to costs.  Chris Retan

NECM: Vermont’s single-payer health care bill cleared that state’s Senate Health Committee.  It is scheduled for a vote in their full Senate tomorrow.   The Senate version of the bill is stronger than the version passed in the House, at least to this point, but skillful and well-funded opposition to the bill remains.  POLITICO Pulse and Dr. Deb Richter.  The Greenfield Daily Reporter noted one potentially lethal amendment added by the Vermont Senate committee. More on amendments that made passage by the committee possible, but that may be problematic. 

Kaiser Health News: People Who Donate Organs For Transplants Can Have Difficulty Getting Insurance

Peter Van Vranken: Wall Street Journal’s Crusade Against Health Care rewarded with Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.  POLITICO Pulse adds: “--Of course, some health reform supporters may not necessarily agree with the Pulitzer board's take on the WSJ editorials. In fact, one supporter erupted into a profanity-laced invective when discussing the news with PULSE. We're a family publication so we can't repeat it here.”

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Thursday, April 21, 2011.  @5:30 PM.  Third Thursday happy hour (social gathering), at the Preve lounge, upstairs at Monaco, 370 The Bridge Street (6782 Old Madison Pike), Huntsville.  Rob Kilpatrick would appreciate knowing you’re coming.  rob2020@mac.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011. Please join NAHA (North Alabama Healthcare for All), for a fun lunch with no agenda, just some good discussion.
 Jamos Café, 413 Jordan Lane NW, Huntsville, AL..  Wednesday before each monthly meeting.

Thursday, April 28, 2011. 8 PM. CST   PNHP Leader/Activist Conference Call.  Call me for the number and access code. 

Sunday, May 1.  2011  7PM CDT. Healthcare-NOW monthly activist phone call. Please use this Dial-in Number 1-218-862-1300 and Conference Code 441086. To mute and unmute the line, please hit *4.

Monday, May 2, 2011  5:30 PM.  North Alabama Healthcare for All Monthly Meeting —Huntsville/Madison County Public Library, 901 Monroe Street  (downtown).  The meeting is in Room AB, on the first floor. After you enter the library’s front door, turn right towards the auditorium. 

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