Category Archives: health care

In Some States, a Push to Ban Mandate on Insurance

ST. PAUL — In more than a dozen statehouses across the country, a small but growing group of lawmakers is pressing for state constitutional amendments that would outlaw a crucial element of the health care plans under discussion in Washington: the requirement that everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty.

“All I’m trying to do is protect the individual’s right to make health care decisions,” said State Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota. “I just don’t want the government getting between my decisions with my doctors.”

“All I’m trying to do is protect the individual’s right to make health care decisions,” said State Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota. “I just don’t want the government getting between my decisions with my doctors.”

Approval of the measures, the lawmakers suggest, would set off a legal battle over the rights of states versus the reach of federal power — an issue that is, for some, central to the current health care debate but also one that has tentacles stretching into a broad range of other matters, including education and drug policy.

Opponents of the measures and some constitutional scholars say the proposals are mostly symbolic, intended to send a message of political protest, and have little chance of succeeding in court over the long run. But they acknowledge the measures could create legal collisions that would be both costly and cause delays to health care changes, and could be a rallying point for opponents in the increasingly tense debate.

“This does head us for a legal showdown,” said Christie Herrera, an official at the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group in Washington that advocates limited government and free markets, and which on Sept. 16 offered guidance to lawmakers in more than a dozen states during a conference call on the state amendments.

So far, the notion has been presented in at least 10 states (though it has already been rejected or left behind in committees in some of them), and lawmakers in four other states have said they will soon offer similar measures in what has grown into a coordinated effort at resistance. (Arizona, which has placed the amendment on its ballot in 2010, seems the furthest along)

Here in Minnesota, like in many of the other states, the move to amend the State Constitution is being driven by a handful of Republican lawmakers.

“All I’m trying to do is protect the individual’s right to make health care decisions,” said State Representative Tom Emmer, a Republican. “I just don’t want the government getting between my decisions with my doctors.”

The first efforts actually predate the Obama administration and the current federal health care debate. Proposed constitutional amendments began cropping up after 2006, when Massachusetts passed a sweeping state law meant to create nearly universal health coverage for residents. Elsewhere, some leaders — opposed to the possibility of insurance mandates, government-run systems or rules barring people from paying for their health care procedures — began suggesting constitutional amendments to block such measures from their own states.

In Arizona, with help from Dr. Eric Novack — an orthopedic surgeon who says his intent was not “some grand secessionist plot” but merely a health care overhaul with protections for individuals’ rights — an amendment first went before voters in 2008. The idea lost, but by fewer than 9,000 votes among more than two million cast. This year, Arizona’s Legislature, dominated by Republicans in both chambers, voted to send the question back to the ballot in 2010.

Few in the public seemed focused on health care a year ago, those involved in Arizona’s ballot question said, but the recent debate over a federal overhaul has changed all that, and proponents of the amendment believe that will improve its chances both in Arizona and in other states, where similar efforts have taken root.

The federal proposals, though, have also changed the potential fallout if such amendments were to pass.

Clint Bolick, litigation director at the Goldwater Institute, a conservative research group based in Arizona that favors free enterprise, and who has helped lead Arizona’s efforts, said he believed the inevitable “legal clash” — if the federal government adopts a health care law and if states change their constitutions — was winnable for the states.

Although the Constitution’s supremacy clause ordinarily allows federal law to, in essence, trump a state law that conflicts with it, Mr. Bolick said that was not always the case, depending on “the strength of the state interest.” Mr. Bolick said he viewed two recentSupreme Court cases, related to an education question in Arizona and a utility district in Texas as indications that the current court might be open to such a state claim.

But several other legal experts said they saw little room for such a challenge. “States can no more nullify a federal law like this than they could nullify the civil rights laws by adopting constitutional amendments,” said Timothy Stoltzfus Jost, a health law expert at Washington & Lee University School of Law.

Mark A. Hall, a law professor at Wake Forest who has studied the constitutionality of mandates that people buy health insurance, said, “There is no way this challenge will succeed in court,” adding that the state measures seemed more “sort of an act of defiance, a form of civil disobedience if you will.”

Even Randy E. Barnett, a Georgetown Law professor who has written about what he views as legitimate constitutional questions about health insurance mandates, seemed doubtful.

“While using federal power to force individuals to buy private insurance raises serious constitutional questions, I just don’t see what these state resolutions add to the constitutional objections to this expansion of federal power,” Professor Barnett said.

In Minnesota, even before the prospect of a court clash, Mr. Emmer appears to have an uphill battle ahead. Before voters can consider amending the state’s constitution, Mr. Emmer needs approval from the Legislature, which is dominated by Democrats. He has offered the Health Care Freedom Act in years past, but it has never made its way to a vote, and Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the Democratic speaker of the House who is also among the wide field of candidates for governor, said last week that she doubted it stood much of a chance this time either.

“Most legislators are interested in improving the health of Minnesotans, and how to do more health care reform,” Ms. Kelliher said. “No one thinks the answer is a states’ right movement.”

Still, Mr. Emmer, who is a candidate for governor, says he is hopeful. He emphasizes that such an amendment — regardless of court battles over a federal plan — would certainly spare Minnesotans from the potential downsides of some future state health care plan.

And this whole amendment notion, he said, would not prevent anyone from taking part in a federal health program; it would merely block people from being forced to do so.

Of legal experts who discount the states’ chances of trumping a federal plan, Mr. Emmer seemed unconvinced.

“They’re essentially saying that state constitutions are meaningless, and I disagree,” he said. “And tell me where in the U.S. Constitution it says the federal government has the right to provide health care? This is the essence of the debate.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/us/29states.html?_r=2&8au&emc=au

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Ranking the U.S. Health-Care System

It is curious that the United States ranked below Europe in the World Health Organization’s 2000 World Health Report, which rated 191 countries’ medical systems. In his documentary Sicko, socialist Michael Moore makes hay out of the fact that the United States placed 37th, behind even Morocco, Cyprus, and Costa Rica. This ranking is used to “prove” that state-controlled health care is superior to the “free market.”

This ranking is curious because the actual life expectancy of the average American differs very little from that of the average European. At birth, average life expectancy in the European Union is 78.7. For the average American it is 78. And this doesn’t adjust for factors that can affect the averages which are unrelated to health care, such as lifestyle choices, accident rates, crime rates, and immigration. Health isn’t entirely about longevity but it certainly is a major component.

What is not mentioned by Moore, or others citing the WHO report, are the measures being used to rate the various countries and who is doing the measuring. There are many ways to nudge ratings in one direction or another that are not directly related to the actual item being measured.

For instance, one might produce a study on transportation. The purpose of transportation is to get people from where they are to where they wish to be. You might rate how quickly people can move, how cheaply they can move relative to their income, how conveniently they can move, and how free they are to move.

You would think the United States would rate high in such a study. Americans tend to be wealthier than the rest of the world. There is widespread ownership of cars. Gasoline prices are lower than in most other countries. On average, the typical American can travel quicker, cheaper, and more conveniently than people in most parts of the world. But what if this index included other factors as well? For instance, if a major component was the percentage of commuters who use public transportation, that would push the United States far down in the ranking. A larger percentage of the people in other countries have no other option but public transportation.

In 2000, when the report was issued, WHO was run by Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former prime minister of Norway and a socialist. She doesn’t think the results of a health system alone are important. Rather, she wants to know if the system is “fair.” In introducing the WHO report she wrote that while the goal of a health system “is to improve and protect health,” it also has “other intrinsic goals [that] are concerned with fairness in the way people pay for health care.” She is clear about the ideological factors she thinks are important: “Where health and responsiveness are concerned, achieving a high average level is not good enough: the goals of a health system must also include reducing inequalities, in ways that improve the situation of the worst-off. In this report attainment in relation to these goals provides the basis for measuring the performance of health systems.”

True to her ideological roots, Brundtland prefers socialized medicine over private care. Drawing her first conclusion about what makes a good medical system, she declares: “Ultimate responsibility for the performance of a country’s health system lies with government. The careful and responsible management of the well-being of the population—stewardship—is the very essence of good government. The health of people is always a national priority: government responsibility for it is continuous and permanent.”

One WHO discussion paper states, regarding “fairness” in financing, “we consider only the distribution, not the level, as there is no consensus on what the level of health spending should be.” Equal results, not necessarily good results, are the focus.

When Moore or others refer to the WHO index as proof that private health care doesn’t work, they aren’t being totally honest because they fail to disclose that the index lowers the scores of systems that don’t satisfy socialist presumptions.

A Second Rigged Study

The New York Times in August editorialized that American health care “lags well behind other advanced nations.” The newspaper relied in part on the WHO rankings as proof. For the rest, it relied on a more recent study by the Commonwealth Fund. But that study, which compared the United States to five other wealthy countries, has weaknesses similar to the WHO study.

The Commonwealth Fund marked down the United States partly because “All other major industrialized nations provide universal health coverage, and most of them have comprehensive benefits packages with no cost-sharing by the patients.” Again the American system loses points because it doesn’t provide socialized medicine. And the Times neglected to note that “no cost-sharing” means the people have paid through taxes whether they receive the care or not.

Non-Emergency Visits

The United States also was penalized because seeing a physician for non-emergency reasons is harder to do on nights and weekends than in the other five nations. The Fund said “many report having to wait six days or more for an appointment with their own doctors.”

The survey didn’t look at the treatment of serious conditions. Waiting weeks or months for chemotherapy is not held against a health-care system, but waiting a few days to have a check up is. Waiting time for “elective” surgery is counted (the United States was a close second to Germany), but waiting time for non-elective, serious surgery did not count, though that is precisely where socialist systems do the worst.

This issue is not unknown to the Commonwealth Fund. In 1999 it published The Elderly’s Experiences with Health Care in Five Nations, which found significant delays for “serious surgery.” Only 4 percent of the American seniors reported long waits for serious surgery. The rate was 11 percent in Canada and 13 percent in Britain. For non-serious surgery the differences were more obvious: 7 percent in the United States, 40 percent in Canada, and 51 percent in Britain.

In the latest survey, the United States came in dead last for health “safety,” but many of the scores were only a few points apart. For instance, 15 percent of American patients said they “believed a medical mistake” had been made in their treatment within the last two years. Notice this is merely patient perception and nothing objective. But the best score was in Britain, where 12 percent said this.

The United States is also marked down because 23 percent of patients report delayed or incorrect results on medical tests they took. That is far worse than the best country, Germany, at 9 percent. But what constitutes a delay? If a result is expected in a week but takes two, that is a delay. But if it is expected in three weeks and arrives then, that isn’t a delay. Thus what constitutes a delay depends on expectations, leading to counter-intuitive results.

The United States also lost credit because fewer Americans report having a regular doctor for five years or more. But Americans are more mobile than many other people. CNN reports that Americans move every five years on average. In comparison, Britain has a moving rate of 10 percent a year, or an average of once a decade. And 60 percent of those move about three miles.

Freer to Change Doctors

Americans are also freer to change doctors if they wish. Britain requires patients to sign up with physicians, and once they do so, they are pretty much stuck unless they want to end up on the waiting list of another physician. Patients often have to wait to get on the books of a physician and only then can they be treated; that is, they wait to get on a wait list. This is true even for heart transplants. The inevitable waiting is a disincentive to change doctors.

Another measure used by the Commonwealth Fund is centralization of medical records. If a country has a system that allows doctors anywhere to tap into the patients’ records, it is rated higher. The United States has no centralized database and so is rated lower. Many Americans may prefer to have their records private and dispersed. When the Clinton plan was proposed in 1993, one of the rallying points that helped defeat it was the centralization of health records.

Out-of-pocket expenses were counted against a system as well. In socialized health care these expenses are zero or very low but are replaced with taxes. Taxes, however, don’t lower a country’s score because the care “is free.”

Countries were also judged on the number of patient complaints. But different cultures have different attitudes toward complaining. Jeremy Laurance wrote in the Belfast Telegraph recently that the National Health Service needs “a healthy dose of American belligerence.”

Finally, the United States is ranked last among the six nations surveyed  in infant mortality. What is not discussed is that nations define infant mortality differently. Any infant, regardless of size or weight or premature status, who shows sign of life is counted as a live birth in the United States. Germany, which ranks number one in the Commonwealth Fund survey, doesn’t count as a live birth any infant with a birth weight under 500 grams (one pound). How valuable is a comparison under those circumstances?

One could easily design a survey that would rank American health care high and other nations low. But this does not mean the American system is what it should be. Its successes and innovation can be attributed to the vestiges of freedom, but government has saddled the system with so much intervention that it is far from market oriented. Instead of worrying about irrelevant international rankings, we should be working toward freeing the medical market.

http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/ranking-the-us-health-care-system/

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Breaking: Man’s finger bitten off in fight at Los Angeles health care rally

Yesterday at a health care reform rally outside of Los Angeles, in Thousand Oaks California, A senior citizen had his finger bitten off by an Obama supporter during a fight.

The local station KTLA-TV reported the incidence and that it occurred where two opposing sides of the demonstration met.  One side of the group was sponsored by MoveOn.org and the other was a grassroots non organized gathering of American citizens concerned about the government’s implementation of  the massive liberty constricting bill.

Fox News reported that a man was wading through the counter-protest to get to the MoveOn side, when the 65 year old confronted the Obama supporter; he bit off the older man’s finger.

And KTLA-TV said that, “the elderly man took his detached finger to a local hospital for medical attention.”  But today on the Rush Limbaugh program, where Mark Stein was sitting in for the host, a caller spoke on the air and claimed that he was in the middle of it as well.  The caller said that he saw the elderly man’s finger get bitten off by the self-proclaimed pro-reformer.  The caller then helped the senior locate his finger and also helped to usher him from the crowd.

The left is losing this battle of truthful words, so it’s time to resort to violence.  We are witnessing more bussed in SEIU, and HCAN (ACORN, SEIU, and Congressional Black Caucus), Obama supporters and seeing evidence of highly organized HCAN, ACORN and MoveOn.org disruptors to muddy the water and intimidate the concerned American people.

For health care reform supporters such as HCAN a MoveOn.org is, the real question is, can they shout louder than the truth of the actual language in the legislation?

http://www.examiner.com/x-8817-Pittsburgh-Conservative-Examiner~y2009m9d3-Breaking-Mans-finger-bitten-off-in-fight-at-Los-Angeles-health-care-rally#

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CDC States H1N1 Vaccine May Maim and Kill 30,000 Americans, FDA Requires Minimal Efficacy

CDC says to assume 1 in every 100,000 vaccine recipients will suffer serious side effects, FDA only requires vaccine be effective.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially stated that there will be as many as 30,000 serious, potentially lethal adverse reactions to the novel H1N1 vaccine, while the FDA guidelines for the novel H1N1 vaccine only require that it work in 3 out of every 10 recipients.

Last Saturday, I attended one of 10 “public engagement” meetings the CDC is holding across the country, utilizing a new model of public engagement designed to provide a public viewpoint or societal perspective on the topic at hand (mass vaccination) to the sponsor (in this case, the CDC).

Part of the process entails the sponsor (CDC) providing the following: “Information on the many sides of an issue is provided to the participants in a fair and balanced manner so that all participants become well-informed, and the overall group process is convened and managed in a neutral, respectful fashion.”

This requirement is met by providing an oral presentation in easy to understand language, a booklet summarizing the key facts needed and a discussion guide summarizing the choices faced.

The assembled group of 80 participants was shown a video, given a brief oral presentation and a printed discussion guide. We were asked to accept several assumptions in considering the topic. We were asked to assume that the severity would be similar to what had already been observed in the spring of 2009; we were told to assume that the vaccination program would be voluntary, not mandatory; we were told to assume that initial vaccine supplies will be available in October but supply would be limited through February 2010.

The most disturbing assumption we were asked to accept dealt with the safety of the novel H1N1 vaccine. In the video, the CDC spokesperson explained that during the 1976 mass vaccination campaign, 1 in every 100,000 recipients of the vaccine developed Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system often leading to paralysis and death. There is no known cure for GBS.

In 1976 roughly 40 million Americans received the vaccine and some 4,000 developed GBS.

The printed material that was distributed reiterated these horrific statistics and we were asked to accept the assumption that, “the estimated risk for more serious reactions (e.g. Guillain Barré syndrome) is between 1-10 per million persons vaccinated”.

This is a less direct way of stating that the risk is about the same as existed during the 1976 mass vaccination attempt and that as many as 1 in every 100,000 recipients will develop GBS or some other serious adverse reaction. The CDC is setting up a new intensive surveillance system with which to monitor and track GBS cases that result from the novel H1N1 vaccine.

Merriam-Webster defines assumption as a fact or statement taken for granted and assumed to be true. If we accept the documented assumption presented by the CDC, we are to consider it a fact that 1 in every 100,000 vaccine recipients will suffer a serious adverse effect such as GBS.

This means that if the entire U.S. population is vaccinated (a stated goal of the CDC), we are to assume as a fact that 30,000 Americans will suffer debilitating or lethal side effects. Apparently the CDC considers this an acceptable level of collateral damage.

As unthinkable as this is (destroying or ending the lives of as many as 30,000 Americans), that is only part of the story.

The novel H1N1 vaccine being developed must adhere to guidelines set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has announced that a vaccine will be accepted if it creates antibodies in 4 out of 10 recipients (40%), with at least 70 percent of those 4 achieving an antibody level believed to provide benefit. This means that an acceptable vaccine candidate would provide “protection” for 28% of vaccine recipients (70% of the 40%), or less than 3 in 10 recipients. The requirement drops to 18% efficacy for those over 65 years of age (60% of 30%).

So here are the facts, as documented by the CDC and the FDA:

As many as 30,000 Americans will be harmed by the novel H1N1 vaccine.

The vaccine may be ineffective in more than 7 out of 10 recipients.

And in case you think I am alone in my concerns, here is what several vaccine experts associated with the CDC and the U.S. government say on the subject.

“I am very skeptical of finishing vaccine before we know the appropriate dose to be included in each inoculation, before immunogenicity studies are complete, or before safety assessments have been finished,” William Schaffner, MD, Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University and a member of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), wrote in an recent e-mail.

“We have assured both the profession and the public that the H1N1 vaccine will be evaluated with the same rigor that is applied to seasonal vaccine. We should NOT make vaccine available before the trials are complete and the results carefully assessed.”

Others are worried about a repeat of the last swine flu “pandemic,” now regarded as a public health and public relations debacle.

“I fear that a rush towards vaccinating the population without completing trials risks leading to the harmful outcome that we witnessed during the 1976 swine flu scare, where the government advocated rapid production and vaccination of the population without adequate safeguards, which led to an unexplained increase in cases of Guillain Barré syndrome (GBS), amongst other complications, and massive liability for the government,” wrote Amir Afkhami, MD, PhD, of George Washington University, an international expert on the 1918 Influenza pandemic and an advisor to the U.S. State Department, the U.S. military, and the World Bank on issues pertaining to infectious diseases, public health and, mental health.

“I think in this regard, we must learn from lessons of the past and be mindful of not jumping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire by putting people’s health at risk without adequate production and safety monitoring of the vaccines.”

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14950

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VA won’t pay benefits to Marine whose injuries came from vaccine

WASHINGTON — It wasn’t a bullet or roadside bomb that felled Lance Cpl. Josef Lopez three years ago after nine days in Iraq.

It was an injection into his arm before his unit left the states.

The then 20-year-old Marine from Springfield, Mo., suffered a rare adverse reaction to the smallpox vaccine. While the vaccine isn’t mandatory, the military strongly encourages troops to take it.

However, it left Lopez in a coma, unable for a time to breathe on his own and paralyzed for weeks. Now he can walk, but with a limp. He has to wear a urine bag constantly, has short-term memory loss and must swallow 15 pills daily to control leg spasms and other ailments.

And even though his medical problems wouldn’t have occurred if he hadn’t been deployed, Lopez doesn’t qualify for a special government benefit of as much as $100,000 for troops who suffer traumatic injuries.

The hangup? His injuries were caused by the vaccine.

“I could have easily died, or not been able to walk because of that,” Lopez said. “It destroyed my world. It was pretty traumatic to me.”

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees the benefit program, said they’re following what the agency has determined to be Congress’ intent.

“It’s for traumatic injury, not disease; not illness; not preventive medicine,” said Stephen Wurtz, deputy assistant director for insurance at the VA. “It has nothing to do with not believing these people deserve some compensation for their losses.”

The VA was unable to say how many claims have been rejected because of vaccine-related injuries. Wurtz and others familiar with the program said it probably wasn’t a large amount.

As of July 1, the traumatic injury program has granted nearly 6,700 claims, a 63 percent approval rate, and paid $394 million in compensation, Wurtz said.

A representative for the Military Vaccine Agency, which oversees the vaccination of troops for smallpox, anthrax and other diseases, couldn’t be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat and a member of the Armed Services Committee, drafted a bill named after Lopez to widen the program to include vaccine-related injuries.

She became aware of his plight when he and his mother stopped in her Senate office last year looking for help. Lopez had come to Washington to compete in the wheelchair portion of the Marine Corps Marathon.

“The program was created with a broad mandate to provide financial assistance to folks with serious injuries and given to VA to determine the outlines,” said Stephen Hedger, McCaskill’s legislative director and an Army veteran of Iraq. The VA “took a narrower approach and defined in greater detail what injuries and illnesses qualified for payment. Our view is it was way too narrow.”

Lopez’s health insurance through the military has covered all his medical expenses. The VA has paid for his medical costs since he was discharged in June.

What he didn’t get were benefits from a program called TSGLI, or Traumatic Servicemember Group Life Insurance. Congress created it in 2005 to provide short-term financial help to severely injured service members until their disability benefits could kick in. The compensation is retroactive to injuries suffered since Oct. 1, 2001.

It’s intended to cover expenses such as the costs of having a family member temporarily relocate while an injured service member receives treatment at a military hospital. Another might be the costs of retrofitting a service member’s home to accommodate a wheelchair or other medical equipment.

The injuries don’t have be the result of combat, however. Service members could be eligible because of a car accident on the way to the grocery store. The fee is an additional $1 each month on top of their regular military life insurance premium.

Lopez seemed to fit the profile. His injuries affected his normal daily activities, one of the criteria to obtain coverage. His family also met another: financial hardship.

His mother, Barbara Lopez, took a leave from her job as a high school secretary to move to Maryland to be with him while he spent six weeks at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda. She also had to give up her second job, a part-time position as a cashier.

They’d to build a ramp and widen a door to accommodate his wheelchair at her home in Springfield, where he spent his recovery.

Barbara Lopez said she heard about TSGLI from families of other injured troops at Bethesda. Yet unlike many of them, whose wounds were obvious, her son’s application was turned down. She still can’t fathom it.

“In his spinal column, he has quite a bit of permanent scarring,” Barbara Lopez said. “He takes medication to help his legs. He can walk unassisted, but never far, and he can’t stand for very long. I kind of feel Joe was out there fighting the same fight they were. He should be just as eligible.”

The military began the smallpox vaccination program in 2003 because of post-9/11 fears that terrorists might attack the U.S. with germ warfare. Plans for the invasion of Iraq were also under way. The military was concerned that Saddam Hussein might use biological weapons against American troops.

Smallpox is contagious and can be fatal. It has no known cure. However, on rare occasions, as in Lopez’s case, the vaccine can be as dangerous as the disease. Side effects can range from a simple rash to swelling around the brain and heart, and even death.

Like the inoculation for anthrax, another pre-combat injection, troops are supposed to be informed of the side effects and told that taking the vaccine was optional. Many have said that it was made abundantly clear that refusing wasn’t a good idea.

“No one said ‘No,'” Lopez said. “I had no qualms. I had no reason not to.”

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/74566.html

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Public Option Sports

What a great satirical article!!! LOL

We are about to get a public option on health care, an idea so incontrovertibly great that it ought to be extended to other fields. The government simply provides more choice and more competition.

There are already public options for mail delivery and mass transit – the United States Postal Service and Amtrak. Sure, those entities do under-perform the private alternatives, such as FedEx and Greyhound. But at least the public option is supported by monopolistic laws preventing direct competition! No private party can deliver regular mail or run trains, even if they could do it for cheaper. We want public options to have some advantages, don’t we? If they didn’t have any legal advantages over private competitors and were intended to be self-sustaining, we might as well offer them as another private option! That’s just silly.

America has a long and proud tradition of public options. Did you know that one of the first states, Connecticut, used to have a public option in religion?

From 1636 till 1818, the Congregational Church was the state’s established church. By default, you attended and tithed to that public church, but it was not always mandatory. You could opt out of the Congregational Church. Under the Act of Toleration of 1708, you just had to declare yourself a member of a different religion and then you could attend the other church. Did you still have to pay to support Congregational Church ministers? Well, sure! It was a public option, you know, and we all pay our fair share for the public option – just like the public option on education. You can send your kids to any school you like, but we all must pay our share for public schools.

Over time, Connecticut even granted certain exceptions. Episcopalians could opt out of paying taxes to support the Congregational Church starting in 1727. Baptists and Quakers could do so in 1729. As long as you were on the short list of approved alternate religions, and you could prove you were supporting other ministers, you could opt out of the religious public option. Easy.

You might have noticed what you assumed was a typo above. A state church in 1818 – when the Bill of Rights, whose very first amendment separated church and state, had already been in effect for nearly three decades?

That is no typo. The Bill of Rights, like the rest of the Constitution, serves as a guideline and a goal, not as a blind, mindless restriction on the government’s ability to provide for the well-being of its citizens!

With enough time to properly plan a transition, in 1818 Connecticut removed the public option and moved closer to compliance with the First Amendment by issuing a new state constitution. Sure, it still explicitly favored Christianity, but it was a step in the right direction. By 1843, Connecticut had even recognized that Jews have a right to worship. Talk about progress!

The only conclusion one can reach from all this is public options are of course a great idea. They should also be applied to sports.

Sports and health care? Are the two even comparable in terms of impact on the economy?

They are. We pay about as much for health insurance as we do for sports. Health insurance companies had total revenue of $405 billion in 2007, according to the Highline Data Health Industry Aggregate. Total sports revenue, including the NBA, NFL, NHL, MBA and golf, are now around $400 billion a year, according to Plunkett Research, Ltd.

And not just revenue, but the same arguments about rising costs of health care apply to sports. Just try to get Knicks tickets for the whole family without selling a kidney.

Sure, fans currently have a choice about which team to follow, but why not offer a government-funded one, just as an extra option? Consider the Federal Bureaucrats as a new NBA team.

The ‘Crats would offer equal NBA access to all. Your grandmother could play point guard and your toddler could play center. The coach would be a former Goldman Sachs partner and only the top lobbyists and political fundraisers would be allowed in the locker room.

And if Shaquille O’Neal finds himself with a decided advantage over a two-year-old, or Kobe Bryant keeps swiping the ball from Grandma, that’s where we call foul, and that’s where the true advantage of a public option comes into play:

We own the referees.

http://lewrockwell.com/orig10/maymin3.1.1.html

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Elizabeth Edwards: Please Don’t Advocate Health Reform Until You Stop Lying About John

i really thought that this was a great article from the Huffington Post.  This is pretty much how I feels about this situation:

I don’t understand why Elizabeth keeps making statements that she knows to be lies about John Edwards, the woman he fell in love with and the baby they conceived together. For the sake of everyone involved and because health care reform matters so much, I wish she would stop.

It’s a bad, profoundly selfish idea to put oneself out as an advocate for health reform while at the same time lying to national TV audience. But there was Elizabeth Edwards Wednesday night on Larry King Live, doing both.

King asked her about DNA tests and her husband and she said, “My expectation is that, at some point, something happens. I hope for the sake of this child that it happens, you know, in a quiet way.”

But something has already happened and Elizabeth is well aware of it.

Almost exactly a year ago, I laid out where the Edwards story was headed including the fact that Rielle Hunter’s baby’s father is John Edwards. In past couple of weeks, The National Enquirer started reporting that DNA tests had taken place, Edwards is the father and Hunter is looking for a house in North Carolina to be nearer to Edwards. Anyone who follows this story knows that The Enquirer is the paper of record and has been consistently correct on the facts.

So Elizabeth Edward is lying. Again. Shamelessly. Same as back in May of this year when said told Oprah Winfrey, “I’ve seen a picture of the baby. I have no idea. It doesn’t look like my children but I don’t have any idea.”

The same way she lied to her rapt audience at DailyKos in 2007 and said that “because of a picture falsely suggesting that John was spending time with a child it wrongly alleged he had fathered outside our marriage, our private matter could no longer be wholly private.”

Is this a private matter for the Edwardses? Hardly.

There are so many people whose lives were touched by the Edwards’s pattern of deception that it can’t be considered private. A short list includes people like Andrew Young, who Edwards paid off to claim paternity. Young is married. And has kids. Young is working on a book now.

There’s the late Fred Baron, who spent the last few months of his life paying for Rielle Hunter and the Youngs to live together in Santa Barbara. There are supporters and staffers who were lied to personally. And I amstill banned from DailyKos.

No, it’s not just private. And along the way Elizabeth Edwards moved herself from victim to conspirator.

Does Elizabeth Edwards have some masochistic drive to seek publicity about her husband’s affair? Why appear on Larry King NOW — when her husband has made the cover of theEnquirer for the last two weeks? Ironically, it seems like Elizabeth’s painful-to-witness book tour a few months ago is at least partially responsible for Hunter’s decision to stop suffering in silence and demand that John Edwards step up and act responsibly.

As much as Rielle Hunter gets castigated as ‘a gold digger’ and worse, getting on the bad side of a rich, powerful, sympathetic but ruthless public figure like Elizabeth Edwards couldn’t have been easy. Elizabeth has been able to fib and obfuscate her way through softball interviewers like Larry and Oprah and drip contempt for Hunter while not allowing interviewers to mention her by name.

For someone like Elizabeth Edwards, who’s considered an advocate for women, to play the ‘slutty stalker’ card against Hunter over and over must have been infuriating. Elizabeth was able to toss out lines like “This person is very different from me and really very different from him. We’re basically old-fashioned people.”

And Elizabeth dished to Oprah, “John went to dinner at a nearby restaurant, and when he walked back to the hotel she was standing in front of the hotel. She said to him, ‘You are so hot.'” knowing that it was unlikely that Oprah would ask her what John’s old-fashioned response was.

John and Elizabeth Edwards could have been great advocates for progressive causes. Maybe someday they will be. But not now. They have shown nothing but contempt for their supporters, the press and the truth. While they don’t owe the public the whole truth, they can’t advocate issues effectively when they simply will not stop lying.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-stranahan/elizabeth-edwards-please_b_264634.html

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