Are you having chest pain, a possible miscarriage, shortness of breath or abdominal pain? You should head into the emergency room and get that checked out.
Well, unless you are poor.
In an effort to cut back on Medicaid costs, the state of Washington is proposing a new set of “non-emergent” conditions that are no longer are covered if you go into the emergency room too many times in one year. Among those new “not an emergency” symptoms are excessive bleeding due to possible miscarriage, pain that could indicate severe appendicitis or organ failure or the tell-tale signs of the beginnings of a heart attack.
Under the new system, if you are a Medicaid patient you are allowed three “non-emergent” visits to an emergency room each year, otherwise, you need to either see your primary care provider (whenever you can manage to make an appointment with him or her) or you can have your claim denied and be forced to cover the full costs out of pocket.
But don’t worry, the system isn’t totally heartless. There are a few exceptions to the “three visits then you’re done” rule. If you happen to die in the E.R., they won’t turn down your final claim.
Look, don’t be distracted by the shell game. Obama the Kenyan Socialist still intends to cut Medicare and Medicaid in order to make Wall Street happy, and the best possible outcome would be for the super committee to be deadlocked — thus making the military cutbacks kick in. It would be a good idea to call your congress critters and tell them that:
But President Obama was still compromising with the Tea Party right when he delivered his remarks on Monday. Indeed, he proposed $580 billion in cuts to health and welfare programs, with $248 billion coming from Medicare and $72 billion from Medicaid.
The president would have us believe that the cuts can be made by addressing “waste, fraud and abuse.” The reality is that cutting a quarter-trillion dollars from Medicare will undermine the quality of care for seniors and the disabled. The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care estimates that Obama’s approach would lead to $42 billion in cuts for post-acute care providers “placing patients, our workforce and local facilities at risk.”
The proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will put new stress on the economy by making it harder to maintain hiring levels at the skilled nursing facilities that have been some of the real job creators in a period of layoffs and rising unemployment rates.
The proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts place new stresses on working families, many of which are already struggling to care for elderly and disabled relatives.
And the proposed Medicare and Medicaid cuts will cause aging workers to think twice about retiring, thus reducing the number of openings for young workers.
Medicare and Medicaid are efficient programs. They are not perfect, but they have been pressured on “waste, fraud and abuse” issues for years; meaning that there is no chance that the cuts Obama proposes will be painless.
They will, in fact, be painful, for retired people and the disabled, for families, for workers and their unions, for communities and for the broader economy.
It is for this reason that FamiliesUSA, the progressive health policy group, is warning that proposed changes to Medicaid “shifts the burden to states and ultimately onto the shoulders of seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families who depend on the program as their lifeline.”
Trying not to think about a political system that rewards politicians for executing the innocent.
ARLINGTON, Va. — A recently-formed judicial “academy” funded by industry groups and conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is offering members of Congress and their staff free meals and trips in order to “educate” the lawmakers on controversial pro-business reforms.
The group is the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy (CCJCA), launched earlier this year by theLaw and Economics Center (LEC) at George Mason University’s School of Law. Despite being part of the university, the right-leaning LEC depends entirely on specially-designated donations which come from acore group of about 50 corporations and foundations, including The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Merck, Exxon, Eli Lilly, Altria, Wal-Mart, and the conservative Bradley Foundation.
You just knew there weren’t going to be any liberal groups involved, didn’t you?
Unlike similar LEC programs for judges and attorneys, however, the CCJC academy is connected to Congress via the Congressional Civil Justice Caucus. The two groups share the same goals, but are separate entities. Formed in February of this year, the caucus is made up of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats committed to promoting “a civil justice system that … advances job creation and economic growth.” For co-chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), that means a justice system wiped clean of “excessive and frivolous litigation” and “inefficient rules.” Goodlatte’s caucus co-chair is retiring Democrat Dan Boren (Okla.), who is joined by Republican House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (Texas) as well as GOP Reps. Randy Forbes (Va.), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) and Lee Terry (Neb.). On the Democratic side are Utah’s Jim Matheson, Minnesota’s Colin Peterson, Nick Rayhall of West Virginia and Loretta Sanchez of California.
According to promotional materials, the caucus academy aims to provide “rigorous and balanced education programs on a range of civil justice issues for the benefit of the general public and members of the U.S. Congress and their staff.”
Thus far, however, the academy has fallen short of this goal.
During the past three months, the CCJC academy has organized a closed symposium on Capitol Hill and a lavish, invitation-only gala dinner for legislative branch staff at the impressive Reagan International Trade Center, both of which were free for attendees. Next up is a three-day getaway — no cost to attend — for senior congressional staff in colonial Williamsburg.
Always. Some days, the moral bankruptcy of the right wing is really too much to take in:
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and their respective number twos sent an extraordinary letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. “It is our understanding that the Board Members of the Federal Reserve will meet later this week to consider additional monetary stimulus proposals,” they say. “We write to express our reservations about any such measures.”
It is not intrinsically illegitimate for congressional leadership to convey its preferences to the Federal Reserve. The Fed is protected from political interference, not from the opinions of politicians. But it is quite unusual for the leaders of a major political party to make a public, unified request of the chairman, and to ask that their request “be shared with each Member of the Board.”
And let’s be honest. The implication of this letter is that Ben Bernanke backs off or political interference comes next. As Bernanke knows, Boehner and McConnell have a posse. Gov. Rick Perry has threatened to “treat him pretty ugly” if he engages in further monetary easing, and Gov. Rick Perry may soon be President Rick Perry. John Taylor, the most popular monetary economist on the right, is writing op-eds saying the Fed should be stripped of its dual mandate. Rep. Ron Paul, who wants to “end the Fed,” was put in charge of the House Subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve.
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Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, former President Bill Clinton blasted the Republican Party for supporting denial of climate science. “The best thing you could do is make it politically unacceptable to engage in denial,” Clinton told a questioner about what Americans can do to fight climate change. “We look like a joke,” he continued. “You can’t win the nomination of one of our parties if you admit that the scientists are right. It’s really tragic. We need the debate between people who are a little bit to the left and a little bit to the right what’s the best way is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We can’t have this conversation because we’ve got to deny it?”
This just gets better and better. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy — except maybe Paul Ryan:
When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker took a phone call that he thought was from billionaire campaign donor David Koch, he described the secret meeting of his cabinet at which he outlined the “budget repair bill” that stripped collective bargaining protections from public employees and teachers, replaced civil servants with political cronies and made it possible to sell off public utilities in no-bid deals with out-of-state corporations.
Walker was talking himself up as a new Ronald Reagan, in hopes of impressing one of the primary funders of conservative projects in the United States. But his comments revealed the previously unknown details regarding the political machinations behind a piece of legislation so controversial that it would provoke mass demonstrations, court battles and legislative recall elections.
“This is an exciting time,” the governor told “Koch“ in late February. “This is, you know, I told my cabinet, I had a dinner the Sunday, excuse me, Monday right after the 6th, came home from the Super Bowl where the Packer’s won, that Monday night, I had all my cabinet over to the residence for dinner. Talked about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, we had already kind of doped plans up, but it was kind of a last hurrah, before we dropped the bomb and I stood up and I pulled out a, a picture of Ronald Reagan and I said you know this may seem a little melodramatic but 30 years ago Ronald Reagan whose 100th birthday we just celebrated the day before um had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers and uh I said to me that moment was more important than just for labor relations and or even the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward the Soviets and the communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover and uh, I said this may not have as broad a world implications but in Wisconsin’s history—little did I know how big it would be nationally, in Wisconsin’s history, I said, this is our moment, this is our time to change the course of history and this is why it’s so important that they were all there.”
E-mails obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy reveal that the cabinet was indeed present for the meeting. The secretaries and gubernatorial aides who were present are listed. But so, too, is one other key player in the administration: the individual identified in e-mails from key players in the Walker administration as the “point person” for the governor’s push to radically restructure labor relations and state government—a project so significant to Walker that he declared, “This is our moment.”
That person? Cynthia Archer, the subject of last week’s FBI raid, which removed a crate of documents from her Madison home, collected her computer’s hard drive and revealed to most Wisconsinites that a “Joe Doe” probe has targeted key aides to Walker during his service as county executive and governor. The probe remains secret, but leaks associated with it suggest that the focus is political wrongdoing and corruption. One top donor to Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign has already been put on probation after admitting to felony violations of campaign finance and money laundering rules.
The governor says he does not know anything about the inquiry beyond what he has read “in the press.” But Walker’s campaign, which remains a going endeavor, has hired a former US attorney—with extensive experience dealing with federal investigations—to respond to his a subpoena related to the “John Doe” probe for email and other records. And that attorney’s firm has, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, been paid more than $60,000.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal has this interesting nugget:
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen was asked months ago to assist in a growing secret investigation of former and current aides to Gov. Scott Walker, but Van Hollen’s office declined, sources familiar with the request said Tuesday.
Van Hollen’s agency assisted with at least one previous John Doe investigation run by the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office, lending a hand during the probe of then Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee. State Department of Justice officials would not say why they chose not to assist with the investigation of Walker’s former county staffers.
Sources said the request was made around the time of the November 2010 election.
Also on Tuesday, state attorneys filed a motion to withdraw an affidavit by Walker aide Cindy Archer in a major federal case – less than one week after FBI agents and other law enforcement officers raided her Madison home.
State officials wouldn’t say if the motion was filed as a result of the raid.
Will Bunch on big media’s reluctance to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests.