Blue Dog Cong. Altmire Defends Senate Insurance Bailout at Beaver-Lawrence Labor Council Meeting – AFL-CIO Calls for Action

by Randy Shannon

Treasurer, PA 4th CD Chapter, Progressive Democrats of America

At the last monthly meeting of the Central Labor Council of Beaver-Lawrence Counties in 2009 a sharp difference was drawn between the corporate and labor views of healthcare reform. On Monday December 21st at 7:35pm, the meeting was called to order by President Dennis Bloom and the regular business was conducted.

Then Labor Council members and guests invited for Holiday festivities after the meeting were addressed by Frank Snyder, the AFL-CIO Representative to Pennsylvania. He brought members up to date on labor’s role and outlook in the battle for healthcare reform. He also passed out a Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Health Care Bill released on Dec. 17, 2009.

The statement says: “The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care reform and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance industry has brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate.”

The statement pointed to three changes in the Senate bill that were necessary. A public health insurance option is needed to break the insurance companies’ stranglehold over consumers. Employers must pay their fair share. And taxing the insurance benefits of workers is not the way to pay for reform.

AFL-CIO President Trumka’s statement ends with: “The House bill is the model for genuine health care reform.”

As AFL-CIO Representative Frank Snyder finished speaking, Congressman Jason Altmire came into the meeting. Altmire took the floor and said: “The House health care bill is dead.” He said that the Senate bill is much better than the House bill and that he would like to vote for a health care bill that is more like the Senate bill.

Continue reading Blue Dog Cong. Altmire Defends Senate Insurance Bailout at Beaver-Lawrence Labor Council Meeting – AFL-CIO Calls for Action

Vigil for Peace on Earth at Beaver Courthouse Saturday 12/26 at 1:00pm

Dear Friends,

As the year draws to a close and we enjoy the holidays with family and friends, let us not forget our countrymen overseas, fighting and dying to further the dreams of empire of a wealthy elite. And let us remember the vast deprivation and horrible suffering of so many victims of this ambition.

This Christmas will mark the sixth year that our peace vigil has called upon our country to turn to peaceful coexistence with the other nations of our small planet, to bring our soldiers home, to expend our treasure to lift our people and others out of poverty, fear, and austerity.

Christmas is a special time at the vigil because it is the season of peace.

Please join us this Saturday, the 26th 1:00pm at the Beaver County Courthouse to affirm your commitment to peace on Earth and good will to all. If you can bring your own sign that says “Peace on Earth” please do.

After the vigil there will be a Holiday party with a home made lunch at our home in New Brighton. We look forward to breaking bread with you at this special time.

Physicians: Senate Healthcare Bill ‘would bring more harm than good’

Oliver Fein, M.D.

Legislation ‘would bring more harm than good,’ group says

For Immediate Release
Dec. 22, 2009

David Himmelstein, M.D.
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.
Oliver Fein, M.D.
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006,

A national organization of 17,000 physicians who favor a single-payer health care system called on the U.S. Senate today to defeat the health care legislation presently before it and to immediately consider the adoption of an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program.

Continue reading Physicians: Senate Healthcare Bill ‘would bring more harm than good’

National Nurses Union: 10 Significant Flaws in the Healthcare Bill

Karen Higgins, R.N.

The 150,000 member National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in the U.S., today criticized the healthcare bill now advancing in the U.S. Senate saying it is deeply flawed and grants too much power to the giant insurers.
“It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the healthcare crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry,” said NNU co-president Karen Higgins, RN.

NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, RN challenged arguments of legislation proponents that the bill should still be passed because of expanded coverage, new regulations on insurers, and the hope that it will be improved in the House-Senate conference committee or future years.

Continue reading National Nurses Union: 10 Significant Flaws in the Healthcare Bill

PDA and Cong. John Conyers: Senate Healthcare Bill must be altered

 Representative Conyers Reminds the Senate that
They Work for the People

The Senate voted to end debate on their healthcare legislation to move the process toward reconciling the Senate’s and House’s healthcare bills. Rep. John Conyers issued a statement in response to the Senate’s vote. Key portions of his statement follow:

Last night’s vote in the Senate should be applauded for what it was: an affirmative statement by that body that comprehensive health care reform legislation should not be held captive any longer by a select few. . [However, w]ithout material changes, this legislation will be reform in name only. .

I supported the House bill because it included serious provisions aimed at helping individuals who currently cannot afford to purchase health care by providing subsidies and expanding Medicaid to 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The Senate bill passed last night does not ensure this same level of affordability ..

Similarly, I supported the House bill because I believe that it is immoral to continue to allow the private health insurance industry to operate without any real checks on its ability to charge unaffordable premiums and deny needed care. That is why I believe competition, as provided through a national Medicare-like public health insurance option and the repeal of the industry’s antitrust exemption, is a necessary component of true reform.

. [T]he excise tax levied on certain “Cadillac” employer-based health care plans in the Senate legislation must be altered. For years, many workers chose to forgo wage increases in exchange for helping their employers offer comprehensive health care plans. . I strongly support the House’s approach to financing health care: an excise tax on the incomes of extremely wealthy Americans.

I look forward to working with the Senate and House Leadership to ensure that the final health care bill address[es] these core principles of affordability, competition, and progressive financing. .

Representative Conyers has again shown that his priorities lie with the American people.

In solidarity,

Tim Carpenter, National Director

Progressive Democrats of America is a grassroots PAC that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. Our goal in 2009: Work with and increase the progressive majority in Congress as we build on our 2008 electoral successes. PDA’s advisory board includes seven members of Congress and activist leaders such as Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Thom Hartmann, Jim Hightower, and Rev. Lennox Yearwood.

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It is Unconstitutional for Congress to Compel a Citizen to Buy a Commodity

The Individual Mandate: An Unconstitutional Exercise of Congressional Power

By Sheldon H. Laskin

It is generally agreed, by both proponents and opponents of the Administration’s health reform bill, that the lynchpin of the legislation is the individual mandate requiring uninsured Americans to obtain health insurance, or pay a penalty on their tax return for failing to do so. Without the mandate, even the Administration’s wildly exaggerated cost savings estimates simply cannot work. The whole plan is predicated on enlarging the risk pool by bringing in younger, healthier people who currently lack the means or the incentive – or both – to purchase health insurance.

Continue reading It is Unconstitutional for Congress to Compel a Citizen to Buy a Commodity

Unions Urge Passage of Senate Healthcare Bill – Look to House-Senate Conference for Improvement

For Immediate Release                                                                                                 Contact: Jacki Schechner (HCAN) 202-454-6196

December 17, 2009                                                                                                           Tiffany Ricci (AFSCME) 202-429-1145

                                                                                                                                                  Lori Lodes (SEIU) 202-730-7680


Nearly 50 events in 31 states remind Congress if the insurance companies win, we lose

 Washington, DC – Health care reform supporters from SEIU, AFSCME, Change that Works, AFL-CIO, and other Health Care for America Now (HCAN) partners held nearly 50 different rallies and events in more than 30 states today to tell Congress it’s time to make sure health care reform gets done and gets done right. As the holidays approach and the Senate gets closer to passing health care legislation, families and businesses across the country can no longer wait for good health care they can afford.  Pro-reform advocates and organizers are calling on their elected officials to help see the process through and make essential improvements so everyone can celebrate health care reform in the New Year.

Continue reading Unions Urge Passage of Senate Healthcare Bill – Look to House-Senate Conference for Improvement

Sign Petition to Sen. Sanders to Stand Firm against Senate Healthcare Monstrosity

Sen. Bernie Sanders

 The latest Senate health care bill has no public option. No expansion of Medicare. And it does too little to guarantee that uninsured Americans will actually be able afford the coverage they’ll be required to purchase.

But it’s not too late to fix the bill. And as Joe Lieberman has shown, just one senator willing to stand in the way can force legislation to be changed dramatically.

Senator Bernie Sanders has already made clear that he’s opposed to the legislation in its current form. I just signed a petition urging him and other progressives to block it until it’s fixed. Will you join me?

Senate Bill Allows Insurance Companies to sell insurance across state lines without meeting state regulations

They Are Called “Nationwide Plans,” And They Do Gut State Regulations

By: Jon Walker Friday December 18, 2009 11:51 am

The Senate bill would allow for things called “nationwide plans.” These plans would be based in one state, and could sell in any other state, while ignoring those other state’s regulations. To quote the bill section 1333:

(b) Authority for Nationwide Plans-
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (2), if an issuer (including a group of health insurance issuers affiliated either by common ownership and control or by the common use of a nationally licensed service mark) of a qualified health plan in the individual or small group market meets the requirements of this subsection (in this subsection a `nationwide qualified health plan’)–
(A) the issuer of the plan may offer the nationwide qualified health plan in the individual or small group market in more than 1 State; and
(B) with respect to State laws mandating benefit coverage by a health plan, only the State laws of the State in which such plan is written or issued shall apply to the nationwide qualified health plan.

It clearly says right there in the bill that Aetna could set up shop in Indiana and sell insurance in New York that only meets Indiana’s lower standards. This could produce a race to the bottom. The worst part is that it is an “opt-out” and not an “opt-in” program. States would not be able to act in time to prevent their regulations from effectively being gutted by “nationwide plans.” Nationwide plans nullify state laws regulating what kinds of health insurance must be sold in their state.