Daily Archives: July 20, 2009

Healthcare: Change the Debate Support a Real Public Option

Hat tip goes to Blue Jersey for beating me to the posting of the following article I saw on the Daily Kos Thursday but didn’t have time to post myself:

by Dennis Kucinich
Wed Jul 15, 2009 at 08:38:08 PM PDT

Dear Friends,

In mid-May, in an effort to reach consensus, President Obama secured a deal with the health insurance companies to trim 1.5% of their costs each year for ten years saving a total of $2 trillion dollars, which would be reprogrammed into healthcare. Just two days after the announcement at the White House the insurance companies reneged on the deal which was designed to protect and increase their revenue at least 35%

The insurance companies reneged on the deal because they refuse any restraint on increasing premiums, copays and deductibles – core to their profits. No wonder a recent USA Today poll found that only four percent of Americans trust insurance companies. This is within the margin of error, which means it is possible that NO ONE TRUSTS insurance companies.

Then why does Congress trust the insurance companies? Yesterday HR 3200 “America’s Affordable Health Choices Act,” a 1000 page bill was delivered to members. The title of the bill raises a question: “Affordable” for whom?.

Of $2.4 trillion spent annually for health care in America, fully $800 billion goes for the activities of the for-profit insurer-based system. This means one of every three health care dollars is siphoned off for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing and the cost of paper work, (which can be anywhere between 15 – 35% in the private sector as compared to Medicare, the single payer plan which has only 3% administrative costs).

50 million Americans are uninsured and another 50 million are under insured while for-profit insurance companies divert precious health care dollars to non-health care purposes. Eliminate the for-profit health care system and its extraordinary overhead, put the money into healthcare and everyone will be covered, everyone will be able to afford health care.

Today three committees will begin marking up and amending HR3200. In this, one of the most momentous public policy debates in the past 70 years, single payer, the only viable “public option,” the one that makes sound business sense, controls costs and covers everyone was taken off the table.

In contrast to HR3200 … HR676 calls for a universal single-payer health care system in the United States, Medicare for All. It has over 85 co-sponsors in Congress with the support of millions of Americans and countless physicians and nurses. How does HR-676 control costs and cover everyone? It cuts out the for-profit middle men and delivers care directly to consumers and Medicare acts as the single payer of bills. It also recognizes that under the current system for-profit insurance companies make money NOT providing health care.

This week is the time to break the hold which the insurance companies have on our political process. Tell Congress to stand up to the insurance companies. Ask members to sign on to the only real public option, HR 676, a single-payer healthcare system.

Hundreds of local labor unions, thousands of physicians and millions of Americans are standing behind us. With a draft of HR3200 now circulating, It is up to each and every one of us to organize and rally for the cause of single-payer healthcare. Change the debate. Now is the time.

The time to act is now!

Sincerely Yours,

Dennis Kucinich
United States Congressman

Contact us at feedback@kucinich.us or visit us online at http://www.kucinich.us

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Filed under Blue Jersey, Daily Kos, Dennis Kucinich, Healthcare, HR676, Single-Payer

Tony "the Fibber" Fiore Suggests That The Only Place Left In Budget To Cut Is Police For Savings

Last week Middletown special financial consultant Bob Roth re-introduced the FY 2009 budget to the Township Committee. The budget, which seems as though it was put together by the use of smoke and a mirror will be voted on and approved tonight.

The budget relays on 1 shot gimmicks such as reducing the surplus reserve for uncollected taxes and deferring a portion of the townships pension obligation, so instead of a 9.2% tax increase that was proposed back in April the new tax increase to the municipal rate will be 5.8%, and we have the State to thank for it.

After months of telling the public how hard and how tirelessly they were working on the budget, meeting department heads over and over again to ensure that their budgets fell in line with township priorities, the Republicans on the Township Committee lead by Mayor Brightbill and Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger left the decision making to the state because they could not find any budget cuts or savings themselves!

The junior Committeeman, Republican Tony ”the Fibber” Fiore went as far as saying that the only area in the budget left open to the Committee in which to cut costs, was emergency services and to lay-off or furlough police officers and staff.

What a stupid thing to say!!

How could you possible say that the only place left in the budget in which to cut costs would be to trim the police department? Fiore’s statement from the dais last week was not only a head shaker, but also an outrageously gross attempt to place blame on others for the Republican’s failures to produce a budget that was inline with the realities of the day.

There were and are numerous areas and line items throughout the FY 2009 budget that could have been cut or trimmed in order to lessen the financial impact on residents if the Republicans truly wished.

Fiore, for all of his efforts and work that he put into the budget could not even implement any of his infamous ideas from the 8-point plan that he introduced back on February 2nd. Other than the suspension of the township committee’s yearly stipend, none of his ideas listed below were worthy enough for consideration:

1. Suspend the entire Township Committee’s salaries.
2. Freeze all non-essential hiring not required by law.
3. Freeze all union and non-union salaries.
4. Evaluate all non-essential, non-revenue generating programs for elimination.
5. Seek out additional shared service arrangements.
6. Sell surplus township property and assets.
7. Eliminate all non-essential Township subscriptions and dues payments.
8. Eliminate all conference and travel expenses unless required by law for continuing education requirements.

Now, how can someone have the nerve to sit in front of others and say with a straight face that the only remaining area in the budget in which to cut or reduce would be police manpower? Were the other 7 out of 8 recommendations that Tony Fiore proposed deemed to essential by his fellow Republicans and therefore taken off the table?

I have a several budget savings ideas, in no particular order, that I would like to recommend to Tony Fiore and his Republican colleagues to consider before the next time they infer that the only option left open to the Township Committee is to cut the budget by reducing the size of Middletown’s police force:

1. Privatize the Cultural Arts Center or change its mission to allow for-profit organizations to rent and utilize the building.
2. Reduce the number of township supplied employee cars.
3. Reduce the operating hours for the Kanes lane recycling facility.
4. Privatize a portion of public works.
5. Fund Middletown Matters by sell advertisments instead of by tax payer dollars.
6. Consolidating purchases, printing and advertising.

Based on the horrible outcome of this year’s budget process to the residents of Middletown, it is essential that the Township Committee establish a Budget/Finance Committee that would interact with township personnel well before the end of the calendar year and make specific recommendations to the Township Committee on budget matters. To leave important budget issues up to the State, like was done with this years budget, is irresponsible.

And to suggest that the only option left to the Committee to reduce spending is to lay-off township police officers, is just plain stupid.

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, Finance Committee, Gerry Scharfenberger, Lay offs, Middletown, Pamela Brightbill, staff reductions, tax increase, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

Orszag Sets The Record Straight "No Rationing Of Health Care"

Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked OMB Director Peter Orszag this morning if the administration will be “rationing” health care by establishing a commission of doctors and medical experts to oversee medical practices. Orszag, thankfully, called this a “canard” and pointed to the status quo.

“The fact of the matter is, right now, politicians and insurance companies are making decisions,” Orszag explained. “We’re saying, we want doctors to be making decisions.”

Wallace said once these physicians start “making decisions,” they’ll be in the business of telling consumers which medical treatments they can and cannot have. So, Orszag turned the question around: “Do you think that politicians are currently rationing care? Or insurance companies are currently rationing care? There are no set of decisions that this commission would have that is not currently resting with either members of Congress or insurance companies.”
The Washington Monthly, Steve Benen

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Filed under Chris Wallace, Fox News, Media Matters, Office of Managament and Budget, Peter Orszag, The Washington Monthly