Tag Archives: Health Care

Votes to “Repeal” Health Care Law Cost Taxpayers Tens of Millions

Friday marked the fortieth (40th!) time the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I spoke with a friend about the vote yesterday.

“I wonder,” he said, “what these votes are costing taxpayers.”

Strap yourselves in, readers; you’re about to learn what these votes headed by “fiscal conservatives” are costing the American people.

Last year, CBS News calculated that the first thirty-three votes to repeal the ACA took eighty hours of floor time at the House or about two full work weeks. According to the Congressional Research Service, it costs about $24 million to run the House for a week, so it cost about $48 million for just the first thirty-three votes. (I can’t believe I said “just the first thirty-three votes.” This is ridiculous.) That translates to about $1.45 million per vote.

Based on that number, it has cost the American taxpayer a total of $58 million for the Republicans to make their symbolic votes against the ACA.

In addition, the Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that repeal of the bill would add $109 billion to the deficit over the next decade.

Via CBS Miami.

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Baby Girl Born with HIV Cured

Via AIDS.gov.

Researchers announced today that a Mississippi girl born with HIV has been cured after very early treatment.

The girl’s story is the first account of a “functional cure,” a rare event in which a person achieves remission without the need for drugs.

When the girl was born in July 2010, her mother had just learned that she was HIV-positive. HIV-positive mothers are typically given drugs to cut the chance of transmission to their children. Without this option available to them, doctors began treating the Mississippi girl with a cocktail of three drugs commonly used to treat HIV within just thirty hours of her birth.

More testing must be done to see if the treatment will have the same effect on other children.

Via Yahoo!

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Pop Five: Ways Americans Would Be Hurt if Health Care Reform Were Repealed

5. Millions of Americans could lose access to preventive services, including cancer screenings, blood pressure tests, and flu shots. [HHS]

4. Insurance companies could deny coverage to up to 129 million people with pre-existing conditions if they try to buy insurance on their own. [HealthCare.gov]

3. Young people could be kicked off their parents’ insurance when they turn eighteen or graduate from college, instead of when they are twenty-six. [HHS]

2. Americans who fall into the Medicare “doughnut hole” would lose crucial discounts on prescriptions. [HHS]

1. Insurance companies could go back to spending as much as 40% of premiums on administrative overhead like CEO salaries and marketing. [Healthcare.gov]

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Romney Vows to “Get Rid” of Planned Parenthood

I Stand With Planned Parenthood

I Stand With Planned Parenthood (Photo credit: WeNews)

Think Mitt Romney is the Republican Party’s “moderate” choice? Think again. If elected, Mr. Romney will shut down Planned Parenthood.

The Republican Party’s war on women has reached the danger zone. Planned Parenthood gives needed medical care to almost 5 million people each year. If Republicans win, women won’t get the care they need, and women will die. Period.

Click here to join with me in supporting Planned Parenthood.

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It’s Not about Birth Control: How “Moral Conscience” Objections Endanger Women’s Lives

Ectopic pregnancy by R. de Graaf in the monogr...

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There has been a lot of discussion about the contraception coverage mandate. Much of the talk has focused on women’s sex lives and the types of birth control that doctors prescribe for women, as well as on the separation of church and state and the mandate’s infringement on religious freedom. There has been less talk about women’s health, women’s rights, and the use of birth control pills to treat medical conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis. Both of these conditions can cause severe pain and lead to other health problems. The Institute of Medicine, a non-profit advisory panel, recommended the contraception coverage because “those services are basic to individual health.”

Many Americans think that contraceptive coverage arebasic.  Catholic bishops, however, believe that contraceptive coverage and some hospital services are in conflict with the church’s “moral conscience.” The bishops contend that the church has the right to deny certain types of health insurance coverage for women who work for Catholic institutions. The church’s position is that all female employees of Catholic institutions should be denied access to all forms of contraceptives and not be provided medical insurance that would cover the cost of certain medical procedures. The bishops also believe that certain types of treatment and procedures should not be provided to women at Catholic hospitals.

In January 2011, the National Women’s Law Center issued a report about women’s lives being at risk at some hospitals because of religious restrictions. The NWLC report includes an analysis of its study, which focused on Catholic-affiliated hospitals’ treatment of women with pregnancy complications.

From the National Women’s Law Center:

The Center’s report, Below the Radar: Ibis Study Shows that Health Care Providers’ Religious Refusals Can Endanger Pregnant Women’s Lives and Health, demonstrates that certain hospitals, because of their religious beliefs, deny emergency care, the standard of care and adequate information to make treatment decisions to patients experiencing miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. The study and report focused on cases where no medical intervention was possible that would allow the patient to continue her pregnancy and where delaying treatment would endanger the woman’s health or even life. These hospital treatment practices violate federal laws and regulations that are intended to protect patients and ensure the delivery of quality health care services at hospitals receiving Medicare funds…

“Most women assume that when they go to a hospital they will be offered the best medical treatment options for their diagnosis,” said NWLC Co-President Marcia D. Greenberger. “But this report paints a chilling picture of women with ectopic pregnancies or suffering miscarriages who are not offered the full spectrum of medically appropriate treatment options because they have gone to a hospital whose religious affiliation conflicts with the provision of those options. To make matters worse, women denied certain medical options may never even be told that these options could, for example, improve their chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the future. Women who fail to receive appropriate treatment or to be informed that preferable options would be provided in another hospital can suffer serious harm with long-term adverse consequences to their lives and health.”

The reports highlight stark cases where doctors noted a discrepancy between the medically-accepted standard of care for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and the treatment provided by hospitals due to their religious affiliation. For example, while the standard of care for certain ectopic pregnancies requires patients to receive the medication methotrexate, doctors in the study reported that their hospitals forbade the use of the drug. Instead, patients were either transferred to another hospital or required to undergo unnecessary and invasive surgery to resolve their condition, thereby being denied the standard of care.

One doctor in the study reported several instances of potentially fatal tubal ruptures in patients with ectopic pregnancies at her Catholic-affiliated hospital. She said that her hospital subjected patients with ectopic pregnancies to unnecessary delays in treatment, despite patients’ exhibiting serious symptoms indicating that a tubal rupture was possible. These patients, therefore, were denied emergency care to which they were legally entitled.

In some of the miscarriage cases described in the Ibis Study, the standard of care also required immediate treatment. Yet doctors practicing at Catholic-affiliated hospitals were forced to delay treatment while performing medically unnecessary tests. Even though these miscarriages were inevitable, and no medical treatment was available to save the fetus, some patients were transferred because doctors were required to wait until there was no longer a fetal heartbeat to provide the needed medical care. This delay subjected these patients to further risks of hemorrhage and infection and could have violated their right to receive emergency medical treatment under federal law.

Early last year, the NWLC filed a complaint with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in which it identified violations of health care provider obligations “under the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) resulting from these practices.” The complaint urged “HHS to issue a notification reminding hospitals that they are bound by all CoPs; to require hospitals to institute policies and procedures to protect patients’ legally enforceable rights; to investigate the failure of hospitals to provide standard of care and informed consent, and to take corrective action to prevent further violations.”

Jill Morrison, Senior Counsel for NWLC, said that religious dictates should not “trump bedrock legal protections that entitle patients to the standard of care and informed consent in the American medical system.” She claimed that hospitals have disregarded their obligation “to prioritize women’s health and lives” for too long.

It is of great import for women to read the study. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “Catholic health care facilities form the largest not-for-profit health service sector in the United States, caring for nearly one-sixth of all U.S. hospital patients each year.”

In his article in the March/April 2011 issue of The Humanist, Rob Boston wrote about Catholic Hospitals’ usurpation of patients’ rights:

Healthcare has been in the news a lot lately, but much of the discussion has centered on the bill backed by President Barack Obama that Republicans in Congress are trying to repeal. Americans obviously have different opinions about that legislation. We can hope, however, that most Americans don’t support medical decisions being made subservient to religious dogma.

Yet about a fifth of all U.S. hospitals abide by a series of directives promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The directives ban abortions for any reason, forbid distribution of birth control (often including “morning after” pills for rape victims), deny sterilization operations such as vasectomies and tubal ligations, and nullify advanced directives and “living wills” that conflict with Catholic doctrine.

Catholic hospitals impose these narrow doctrinal views—which are so strict that even most American Catholics don’t support them—while receiving a windfall of public support through direct government subsidies and participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Americans are increasingly finding that medical services they took for granted have evaporated as a spate of hospital mergers across the country has subjected many people to the bishops’ directives. Why is this? Because when Catholic hospitals merge with non-Catholic institutions, the latter are required to accept the directives as part of the deal.

Women’s rights groups and advocates of reproductive freedom have been speaking out, but too often their complaints fall on deaf ears. In Montgomery County, Maryland—an affluent suburb of Washington, DC, with a well educated population that leans toward progressive politics—state regulators recently ruled that a Catholic hospital group could build the county’s first new hospital in thirty years. In making this decision, the board bypassed a rival proposal from a group run by the Seventh-day Adventists. Although both groups are religious, the Adventists had promised to provide the full range of reproductive services.

Asked about the lack of reproductive healthcare at the new facility, one hospital regulator blithely said that people who needed those services could go elsewhere.

Excerpted from Jonathan Turley’s wonderful blog.

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Blunt Amendment Faces Vote Today

The Blunt amendment vote is today in the Senate.


The amendment would reverse the Obama administration’s policies that gave women access to no-cost birth control, but it is so broadly written, it could allow any employer to deny health care coverage, for any reason. It could cost 20 million women care.


If this amendment passes (Republicans are trying to tack it to a transportation bill), your employer can deny any aspect of your health care coverage by claiming they are morally opposed. Your boss will, essentially, decide what kind of coverage you receive.


Join One Million Strong for Women to demand that this backward amendment fails.



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Santorum: Don’t Complain about Drug Costs as Long as Other People Can Afford iPads

, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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While campaigning in Woodland Park, Colorado, Rick Santorum told a sick child and his mother that they shouldn’t complain about the exorbitant cost of his medication because some people spend $900 on iPads.

The candidate also said that the parent and child unjustly felt entitled to get life-saving care at an affordable rate:

People have no problem paying $900 for an iPad, but paying $900 for a drug they have a problem with — it keeps you alive. Why? Because you’ve been conditioned to think health care is something you can get without having to pay for it.

The mother said the boy was on the drug Abilify, used to treat schizophrenia, and that, on paper, its costs would exceed $1 million each year.

Mr. Santorum said drugs take years to develop and cost millions of dollars to produce, and manufacturers need to turn a profit or they would stop developing new drugs.

He then lectured the mother and said that she should be grateful to the drug companies for saving her son’s life. “He’s alive today because drug companies provide care,” Mr. Santorum said. “And if they didn’t think they could make money providing that drug, that drug wouldn’t be here.” He also claimed it would “freeze innovation” if pharmaceutical companies were required to offer their drugs at a reasonable price.

Via ThinkProgress.

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Six Presidential Hopefuls Faced Tough Questions at Saturday’s Forum

Six Republican Presidential candidates faced questions on their ideological bona fides during a policy-heavy forum on Fox News Channel on Saturday night.

Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, was pressed on how conservatives can “trust that a President Gingrich will not advance these sorts of big government approaches” that he advocated in the past, including his support for a mandate that citizens get health insurance.

Representative Michele Bachmann was asked how she would carry out her call to remove all illegal immigrants in the United States or pay the $135 billion to do so.

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was asked questions about his health care overhaul there, and what he would say to President Obama if the President were to note during a general election debate its similarities to the federal health care law.

The candidates faced these questions from a roster of attorneys general who filed legal cases against the 2009 health care law: Pam Bondi of Florida, who brought the suit the Supreme Court agreed to hear; Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia, a spokesman for legal action against the law; and Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma. They were gathered by the Fox News host Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas.

It was one of the more substantive events in the Republican contest. The candidates faced the panel solo and did not interact, leaving intraparty politics largely out of it, except for Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who urged the audience to give him “a second look,” a tacit acknowledgment of his drop in polls and a new opportunity after Herman Cain’s decision to suspend his campaign.

The attorneys general, new to Presidential politics, did not let their own general ideological agreement with the candidates get in the way of tough questions about how they would carry out their proposals.

They seemed to give Mr. Gingrich the hardest time. He was grilled on calls he has made to abolish federal courts whose rulings he disagrees with. It is a position that invariably wins applause from conservative audiences, but the attorneys general, conservative Republicans all, seemed to raise a collective eyebrow.

Mr. Cuccinelli had big disagreements with Mr. Gingrich, asking him how he would assure conservatives that his less ideologically pure positions would not trickle into his White House. Mr. Gingrich said he would introduce a “very clearly philosophically driven program” that would train his appointees and tell them “this is where this administration is going.”

Mr. Romney parried questions about the Massachusetts health care law, repeating that his policy was less ambitious and did not seek to upend the health care system the way he said Pres. Obama had hoped the federal law would.

Mr. Cuccinelli stayed with his line of questioning. “You would agree, wouldn’t you,” he said, “what you did in that bill in Massachusetts in 2006 affected the entire industry. Correct?”

Mr. Romney said that “for the 92% of us that were already insured, nothing changed.”

Mr. Cuccinelli asked Rep. Bachmann how she would handle environmental disagreements across state lines if she were to end the Environmental Protection Agency. When Ms. Bachmann answered that “a lot of these cases would be negotiated,” he pressed, “You cannot just negotiate without a legal foundation and thereby compel both sides to participate.”

Ms. Bondi asked former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania which environmental regulations he would allow. Mr. Santorum said the problem was that environmental laws that have been on the books for decades were overly broad, allowing regulators to craft many rules. He promised to have Congress rewrite the laws to be much narrower.

Mr. Pruitt asked Representative Ron Paul of Texas about his opposition to the PATRIOT Act. Mr. Paul responded by saying, “Are you going to put cameras in every household or whatever? I don’t think it’s a lack of laws that are our problem.”

Via The New York Times.

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Filed under Economy, Environment, Health, Law, National, Politics, Science Schmience

Virginia Legislators Jump Aboard Personhood Train

Pro life legislators in Virginia think it would be a dandy idea to declare that life begins at conception and that fertilized eggs are people.

Undaunted by the Personhood Movement’s overreach in Mississippi, Republican delegate to the Virginia legislature Bob Marshall introduced a bill to the assembly that would redefine life as beginning at conception. The law reads, in part,

unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the commonwealth.

As with other personhood laws (like the one that failed in Mississippi in November and the one introduced in Wisconsin), Virginia’s proposed measure would make all abortion illegal and threaten birth control and some methods of IVF. Unlike the other measures, which were introduced as constitutional amendments, this one is a bill in the legislature, which means the people have no say in whether it becomes law.

This law looks like it has a good chance of passing; Virginia’s legislative branch is heavily Republican.

Even if it does pass, it’s unlikely the law will take effect. Someone will file a lawsuit challenging it, a judge will issue an injunction barring enforcement of the law until the trial, the verdict will be appealed no matter what the outcome, and this will continue until some court refuses to hear it or the law is repealed by a new set of legislators.

When all is said and done, Virginia will spend a ton of money on something that amounts to a source for sound bytes for politicians who want to show their pro-life constituents that they love pre-babies so much and they’re willing to prove it.

Via Jezebel.

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President Obama Is “Fit at 50″

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

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President Obama is “tobacco free,” the President’s doctor said in reporting the results of the president’s second physical since he took office.

In a two-page report, Dr. Jeffrey C. Kuhlman gave the President a strong bill of health, saying he was a physically active fifty-year-old who eats a healthy diet, stays at a healthy weight and “on occasion drinks alcohol,” in moderation.

Dr. Kuhlman praised Mr. Obama as “fit at 50” and “staying healthy at 50+.” He said Mr. Obama was current on all age-appropriate screening tests.

Mr. Obama underwent the physical at the White House last week. According to the report, the President has a “well-healed lower lip laceration,” which apparently refers to an injury during a basketball game when he was inadvertently hit by the elbow of Rey Decerega, director of programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Mr. Obama’s last physical was in February 2010, and the doctor said his next one could come after the election, in December 2012.

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