Photo: Gilda Deferrari, PDA member in Hopewell Township, sends Altmire a message to change course on health care
Health Care ‘Street Heat’
On the Rise at Altmire’s
By Carl Davidson Beaver County Blue
Nov. 12, 2009 – The ongoing battle over health care reform hit the streets of Aliquippa, Pa on this mild and sunny fall afternoon, as nearly 50 Beaver County residents chanted slogans and heard searing speeches over their lunch hour at the local offices of 4th CD Congressman, Jason Altmire. At the close of the rally, they marched into the building and packed the office vestibule, leaving written statements and petitions.
The message was loud and clear. The health care crisis, expanding costs and shrinking coverage, was taking a heavy toll on the working class and retirees of this entire economically distressed Ohio River Valley region. The gathering here was angry with Altmire’s ‘No’ vote on the current health care reform package in the Congress, and demanded that he change course. Continue reading ‘Health Care for All’ Advocates Dig In for Long Fight→
Employer-based health coverage is disappearing faster in Pennsylvania than it is in any other state except Michigan, according to a study released by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center and the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute. Since the turn of the century, there are 694,471 fewer people who receive their coverage from their employers across the state. The survey compared 2000 and 2001 to 2007 and 2008. Also, 201,425 fewer children are on their parents’ benefits packages than there were seven years earlier, the study found.
In light of these facts here are the thoughts of two concerned people in the PA 4th CD whose seat in the House is occupied by former corporate lobbyist Jason Altmire. The first is an email communication from Joel Brown of Espyville that tells about the suffering of our people who do not have access to healthcare. The second is an open letter to Cong. Altmire from Dr. Joe Talarico of Zelienople in response to his vote against healthcare reform.
Congressman Altmire’s 4th CD is the home of many veterans. He has offered legislation that affects veterans. On his website he states: “Altmire has consistently worked to help our nation’s veterans obtain good paying jobs when they return home. “
The problem that many veterans and their families face is that these jobs do not offer healthcare coverage. Altmire’s lobbying against meaningful healthcare reform shows that his support for veterans does not go very deep. Healthcare reform would help veterans, their parents, their spouses, their children, and their neighbors. Cong. Altmire has chosen to support the insurance companies when it comes to healthcare reform, not the veterans.
First Posted: 11-10-09 06:38 PM According to a study released by the Harvard Medical School, 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year as a result of not having health insurance. Researchers emphasize that “that figure is more than 14 times the number of deaths (155) suffered by U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2008, and more than twice as many as have died (911 as of Oct. 31) since the war began in 2001.”
California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee
Of all the torrent of words that followed House passage of its version of healthcare reform legislation in early November, perhaps the most misleading were those comparing it to enactment of Social Security and Medicare.
Sadly no. Social Security and Medicare were both federal programs guaranteeing respectively pensions and health care for our nation’s seniors, paid for and administered by the federal government with public oversight and public accountability.
While the House bill, and its Senate counterpart, do have several important reform components, along with many weaknesses, neither one comes close to the guarantees and the expansion of health and income security provided by Social Security or Medicare.
By contrast, if the central premise of Social Security and Medicare was a federal guarantee of health and retirement security, the main provision of the bills in Congress is a mandate requiring most Americans without health coverage to buy private insurance.
In other words, the principle beneficiary is not Americans’ health, but the bottom line of the insurance industry which stands to harvest tens of billions of dollars in additional profits ordered by the federal government. Or as Rep. Eric Massa of New York put it on the eve of the House vote, “at the highest level, this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry, period.”
The CARTOON page contains timely topical cartoons from the mass media.
The QUOTE page contains timely quotations on issues of the day.
The OPINION page contains letters to the editor or short articles submitted to Beaver County Blue by you, subject to editing. Send your letter or article by clicking on “Click here to email us” near the top of the right column.
Cleveland area Congressman Dennis Kucinich has long been one of the strongest voices for health care for all but was one of 36 Democrats who voted no on H.R. 3962 the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Kucinich explained his “no” vote on his website that read: <!– [more] –>
After voting against H.R. 3962—Affordable Health Care for America Act, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:
“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.
“Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.
With the House health bill passed, Congress moves a step closer to making the biggest changes to the health system in more than four decades. Here’s a look at what the bill would mean for various groups:
The uninsured: They’re the biggest winners under the bill. Starting in 2013, it gives government subsidies to a chunk of low- and middle-income Americans and expands Medicaid to cover a greater swath of the poor. At the lowest income level, the subsidy would keep a family of four earning just over $29,000 a year from paying more than 1.5% of their income on insurance premiums. It reaches as far up as a family of four earning about $88,000 a year, so they would pay no more than 12% of their income toward insurance. <!– [more] –>
Shopping for insurance would probably get easier since the bill creates new exchanges designed to allow consumers who buy their own policies to compare plans side by side. One of those plans would be a government-run insurance plan, also known as the “public option.”
Obtaining coverage would get easier because the bill prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people over pre-existing health conditions.
But for those who don’t want insurance, there’s a downside. Once these changes take effect, people who choose to go uncovered would generally have to pay a penalty equal to as much as 2.5% of their income.
Dear Healthcare-NOW! Supporter:On the eve of what could have been the first vote on single-payer legislation in our nation’s history, we have just learned that because of last minute developments, the vote and debate on Congressman Weiner’s single-payer amendment will not happen.
Speaker Pelosi received a statement from Rep. Kucinich and Rep. Conyers, the co-authors of HR 676, that they do not think that this is the right time for a vote on national single-payer legislation. They made this statement despite the extensive mobilization in support of this vote across the country. In addition, Speaker Pelosi felt that offering a single-payer amendment would open the floodgates to amendments proposed to limit abortion funds, restrict immigrant access to healthcare, and other regressive legislation.
The Weiner single payer amendment has been withdrawn. Cong. Weiner is meeting with President Obama today. Congressmen Kucinich and Conyers have asked healthcare reform advocates to stand down on single payer lobbying until further notice. The Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare, which is the coalition of national unions and grass-roots organizations including PDA that support universal single payer Medicare for All, will release more information soon.
Below is a communication from the Physicians for a National Healthcare Program and a communication from PDA: