Rick Santorum: ‘Millions of Americans’ with pre-existing conditions are stealing health care

Rick Santorum

CNN contributor Rick Santorum suggested on Sunday that it was a mistake to guarantee health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions because “millions” of them were scamming insurance companies. During a panel discussion about health care reform, Santorum argued that President Barack Obama’s health care reform law had damaged the health care system to the… Continue Reading →

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Me and the animals

Wheatley in green bow tie

I’m allergic to most animals. If I pet a dog or cat, then forget and rub my eye without washing my hands, my eye swells up and gets weepy. And I have about a half-hour or so in a house with pets before the sinus headaches kick in. So when I’m around animals, I try not to encourage any contact.

You can guess how this turns out, right? Every time I’m around animals, they make a beeline for me. The shocked owners always say, “He never goes to strangers! Never!”

I was thinking of this yesterday when I was at a friend’s house, whose big old tomcat kept rubbing up against my leg, purring. “Listen, I really wish I could pet you, but I’m really attached to breathing,” I told him.

He came back, again and again. “I wonder why that happens,” my friend said.

“I imagine they sense my utter indifference,” I said. (Which isn’t really true, but it’s a good line. I grew up with dogs and cats, I even had them as a grownup. I don’t remember exactly when I started to develop allergies, but oh well.)

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Freedom and responsibility

To keep peace with Trump, Paul Ryan looks to new chief of staff

The next time Speaker Paul Ryan starts talking about “freedom and personal responsibility” instead of the ACA, or any other politician rails about “government-run, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance,” remember this:

The federal government subsidizes between 72% and 75% of a congress member’s health insurance plan, which is purchased through the ACA marketplace known as DC SHOP. They are limited to the Gold tier, which currently offers 57 plans.

Unlike state ACA exchanges, which vary premiums based on age, geography, or tobacco use, the DC SHOP varies only by age.

Current members also receive (allegedly) limited services from the Office of the Attending Physician in the U.S. Capitol for an annual fee. Services include routine exams, consultations, and certain diagnostic tests. The office does not provide vision or dental care, and prescriptions can be written but not dispensed.

According to the OAP internal website, the office provides staff with emergency treatment, first aid, immunizations, flu vaccinations and physician referrals. But members of Congress can enroll in “additional services” by paying an annual fee of about $600.

A 2001 Congressional Research Service report on the OAP noted that members of Congress who enroll in those additional services or “routine care” are also provided “laboratory, X-ray, physical therapy, and electrocardiographic services, as well as 24-hour assistance and referral.” (No referrals. No trip to a far-off facility because they take your insurance. My current insurance requires a $30 co-pay for each physical therapy visit — or $90 a week.)

The service is supposed to serve as urgent care, not primary care. But it seems like it doesn’t work that way.

They operate 10 clinics the size of small community hospitals, including in the Capitol, House, and Senate buildings. Isn’t that handy?

From a 2009 story done by ABC News:

They described a culture centered on meeting the needs and whims of members of Congress, with almost no concern for cost.

Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.

Last year, Congress appropriated more than $3 million to reimburse the Navy for staff salaries at the office. Next year’s budget allocates $3.8 million for the office, including more than half a million dollars to upgrade the Office’s radiology suite. Sources said additional money to operate the office is included in the Navy’s annual budget.

In 2008, 240 members paid the annual fee, though some sources say congressmen who didn’t pay the fee were rarely prevented from using OAP services.

Oopsies! The same people who block school lunches for kids who haven’t paid still get concierge health care they haven’t paid even this minimal amount for!

Oh, and no appointments. Walk-in service, because they’re so important and busy.

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‘Entitlements’

No tax cut for the rich, says Steve Mnuchin, Trump's Treasury pick

Nothing pisses me off more than a Republican calling the social safety net “entitlements,” but I guess we’d better get used to it. At least we’re okay for now — until Ryan gets his Holy Grail:

Donald Trump’s first budget proposal will spare big social welfare programs such as social security and Medicare from cuts, the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Mnuchin said Trump would use his first address to Congress on Tuesday night to preview some elements of his sweeping plans to cut taxes for the middle class, simplify the tax system and make American companies more globally competitive with lower rates and changes to encourage manufacturing.

Speaking on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, Mnuchin, who has acknowledged that tax reform is his top policy priority, said the budget plan would not seek cuts to federal benefits programs known as “entitlements”.

“We are not touching those now. So don’t expect to see that as part of this budget, OK,” Mnuchin said of the programs. “We are very focused on other aspects and that’s what’s very important to us. And that’s the president’s priority.”

Everyone keeps says how focused Trump is about delivering on his campaign promises, but what his voters didn’t get is that the one about “saving and protecting” Social Security and Medicare is just typical wingnut talk for “slashing and burning” under the guise of maintaining the programs’ long term stability. But you knew that already, right?

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