Some of Us are Terrified that SCOTUS Will Strike Down ‘Obamacare’

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Thirty-three days ago, my 22-year-old daughter had an eight-hour open heart surgery at one of the top cardiac care facilities in the world. On my employer’s health insurance.

Thank you, President Obama.

Her Pandora’s Box of problems began opening in September 2010. She worked full time, went to college part time. She was doing all the “get ahead” go-go-go moves conservatives love to laud—paying taxes, working, going to school—all the while keeping her regular cardiology check-ups. With a heart pumping in reverse, a pacemaker, strong beta-blockers, an internal cardio-defibrillator, and a terrific cardiologist specializing in adults with congenital heart defects, she was able to function at a level that made her indistinguishable on the surface from any other young adult.

But then a cascade began, a not uncommon one with her correction. Tachycardia, fibrillation, fatigue, dizziness. Treadmill tests, catheterizations, ablations, electo-physiological studies. A couple of months were spent trying to pin down what turned out to be two separate issues. Months and months ensued of failed mild interventions, further diagnostics, tweaks, all trying to avoid a risky open heart surgery that would remove all the device leads that had become embedded over the years in her heart wall tissue and her mitral valve, obstructing flow and triggering heart rhythms in excess of 250 beats per minute. Multiple firings of her ICD left her shaky and weak with one foot planted in the land of PTSD.

While she was insured as an adult through work, it was not an ideal plan for someone with her condition—high deductibles, high co-pays, high out-of-pocket on a salary set right at living wage. Her employer hires lots of young, healthy adults and for those workers, it serves. For my daughter, not so much. Until Obamacare, it was the best she could do. My employer, on the other hand, had a great insurance plan. The moment adult children under 26 became eligible, I moved her onto my insurance, and with zest and thankful prayers, I paid the extra premium. Just in time, as it turns out, for the downward spiral of hospitalizations.

You want to know what it’s like to hear your daughter is at high risk for something called sudden cardiac death syndrome? No, you don’t. Really.

Now send that article to everyone you know.

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Monday Evening Open Thread: American Select

Because it’s never a bad time to point out what a horrible idea Americans Elect is, here’s Gail Collins on “the worst new trend of the political season“:

…Perhaps you have not yet focused on Americans Elect. It’s a new-generation political movement that aims to rise above the petty forces of partisan bickering and choose a presidential candidate, along with a running mate from a different party, at an online convention in June. As a reward, the winning team will receive a presidential ballot line in every state, along with some very cool online technology with which to run their campaign. It’s similar to “Project Runway” except for the most-powerful-job-on-the-globe part…
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[T]he whole Americans Elect concept is delusional, in a deeply flattering way: We the people are good and pure, and if only we were allowed to just pick the best person, everything else would fall into place. And, of course, the best person cannot be the choice of one of the parties, since the parties are … the problem.
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Getting a presidential ballot line in 50 states is really, really difficult. To do so, Americans Elect has already collected nearly 2.5 million signatures around the country, using the deeply American tactic of paying people to do it.
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The source of the money is a little murky. Some names have been made public. Some haven’t. Byrd says that’s not a problem because “the candidates don’t know who the donors are and the donors don’t know who the candidate is going to be.”
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If the Americans Elect candidate does make a big splash in November, we will have discovered yet another part of the presidential elections process that loopy billionaires could purchase out of their petty cash. Tired of financing right-wing contenders for the Republican nomination? Buy your own ballot line…
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The thing that makes our current politics particularly awful isn’t procedural. It’s that the Republican Party has become over-the-top extreme. You can try to fix that by working from within to groom a more sensible pack of future candidates, or from without by voting against the Republicans’ nominees until they agree to shape up.
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Otherwise, no Web site in the world will cure what ails us.

Apart from the political shenanigans of people with more money than sense, what’s on this evening’s agenda?



Bully For You, America

Reasonoid Nick Gillespie takes to the WSJ to let America know there’s no such thing as a bullying crisis in schools and neighborhoods as he rips into the new film “Bully”.

Now that schools are peanut-free, latex-free and soda-free, parents, administrators and teachers have got to worry about something. Since most kids now have access to cable TV, the Internet, unlimited talk and texting, college and a world of opportunities that was unimaginable even 20 years ago, it seems that adults have responded by becoming ever more overprotective and thin-skinned.

Kids might be fatter than they used to be, but by most standards they are safer and better-behaved than they were when I was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s. Infant and adolescent mortality, accidents, sex and drug use—all are down from their levels of a few decades ago. Acceptance of homosexuality is up, especially among younger Americans. But given today’s rhetoric about bullying, you could be forgiven for thinking that kids today are not simply reading and watching grim, postapocalyptic fantasies like “The Hunger Games” but actually inhabiting such terrifying terrain, a world where “Lord of the Flies” meets “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” presided over by Voldemort.

Stop whining.  Life is Darwinian.  Deal with it, you little ferrets.

When it comes to bullying numbers, long-term trends are less clear. The makers of “Bully” say that “over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year,” and estimates of the percentage of students who are bullied in a given year range from 20% to 70%. NCES changed the way it tabulated bullying incidents in 2005 and cautions against using earlier data. Its biennial reports find that 28% of students ages 12-18 reported being bullied in 2005; that percentage rose to 32% in 2007, before dropping back to 28% in 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available). Such numbers strongly suggest that there is no epidemic afoot (though one wonders if the new anti-bullying laws and media campaigns might lead to more reports going forward).

The most common bullying behaviors reported include being “made fun of, called names, or insulted” (reported by about 19% of victims in 2009) and being made the “subject of rumors” (16%). Nine percent of victims reported being “pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on,” and 6% reported being “threatened with harm.” Though it may not be surprising that bullying mostly happens during the school day, it is stunning to learn that the most common locations for bullying are inside classrooms, in hallways and stairwells, and on playgrounds—areas ostensibly patrolled by teachers and administrators.

Everything’s fine.  You know, except for the kids driven to suicide for being gay or fat or different or getting shot for walking down the street with an iced tea and a bag of candy, that is.  Jesus launch the helicarrier.  It’s funny how these guys believe in the free market so much until it comes to the flash mobs actually getting called on ruining a kid’s life, but I guess that’s just culling the weak, right?



The Rock Biter Theory Of Health Care Reform Legislation

“So,” they said.  “We don’t think SCOTUS will repeal the entire health care reform law, or gut the law and effectively end it, because that would put all the pressure on the GOP to replace it with something.  There would be a hole in one-sixth of the US economy.  They’d have do something about it.”

And as anyone who is familiar with The Neverending Story can tell you, the GOP is all about embracing the Nothing as far as health care reform (and with it, government itself).  As the Rock Biter said when asked what was destroying his peoples’ lands and what was left as a result:

A hole would be something. No, it was…Nothing.

Steve Benen points out that the GOP is perfectly okay with the HCR Nothing taking over. Repeal and Replace is now just Repeal and The Nothing.

When the debate over health care reform got underway in earnest in 2009, Frank Luntz and other GOP pollsters/strategists warned the party that Americans expected improvements to the dysfunctional system, and Republicans couldn’t simply say “no” to everything.

Three years later, that’s effectively where the party has ended up: wanting to go back to the mess “Obamacare” is cleaning up.

But what about McConnell’s main idea? It’s one of the GOP’s favorite talking points: we don’t need real reform; we just need to let consumers buy across state lines. President Obama and the Affordable Care Act allow this, but set minimum standards that states must abide by. McConnell and his party want to go further, removing, or at least severely weakening, those standards.

This is generally called the “race to the bottom.” Under McConnell’s vision, state policymakers would tell insurers that if they were to set up shop in their state the rules would be written in the industry’s favor. The industry would go with the state that offered the sweetest deal — which is to say, the most lax oversight with the fewest restrictions — and before long, it would be consumers’ only choice. Why? Because every insurer would move to that state, leaving Americans with no other coverage to buy.

That’s exactly what happened with the credit card industry, and it’s a model to be avoided, not followed.

But tossing us all into The Nothing is what the GOP wants. They “want to give the power to the states” because it’s FREEDOM and junk, and instead we’ll get the same awful abuses that the credit card industry has been perpetrating on consumers for years, only far worse because this time it will involve health insurance and health care itself. The cheapest, meanest policies that cover the least in health care and have massive deductibles will be the only ones left for the vast majority of Americans and the insurance industry will pocket the difference.  Can’t afford it?  There’s Nothing you can do about it.  Keen observers will note that the Nothing applies to any social government functions:  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and retirement, environmental protections, education, food safety, financial products, everything.  You can’t provide it yourself because you can’t afford it?  You get Nothing.

So no, I don’t believe for a second that the GOP will have to replace HCR with something. That would be something, after all. What they want is Nothing.

[UPDATE]  And the folks that are expecting single payer to rise from the ashes should HCR get mauled?  With a GOP House?  No.  the rocks must be delicious in your world, but single payer ain’t happening until there’s a seismic shift in the red/blue ratio.  Unless you think this particular SCOTUS is going to rewrite the universe and declare that Congress has to pass a single payer law, in which case the rocks are delicious in your world and they’re made of 100% unicorn poop.



CONTEST: Drift Giveaway, Thread Two


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UPDATE: You guys are dedicated! Since my desktop won’t let me read threads that go over 500 comments, I’m going to shut down the first Giveaway thread and re-number all comments on this one to start at # 441.

DO NOT re-enter if you’ve already got a comment in the first thread; you’ve still got exactly the same chance of winning as anyone on this new thread. It’s just another FYWP artifact…

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Thanks to the generosity of Crown Publishing, I have a signed hardback of Dr. Maddow’s new book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power for some fortunate member of the BJ commentor community.

Your comment here will be your entry. Only one entry per commentor, please, because if you post more than one I’ll have to eliminate you from the pool. Doesn’t have to be a “good” comment — Pick me or Mine or Yes is fine, if you’re not feeling inspired. Newbies welcome (although, as per usual, if you haven’t commented here before WordPress will hold your comment for ‘moderation’ until one of the frontpagers approves it, so do NOT disqualify yourself with a string of why?why?why! follow-ups).

Around 7:30pm EDT Tuesday evening, I’ll use a random-number generator, and the person whose comment matches that random number wins the book.

Any questions, you can either put them in your ONE comment, or email me at AnneLaurie @ verizon.net (click on my name in the ‘Contact’ list to the right for a direct link).

Good luck, and — GO!



CONTEST: Rachel Maddow’s Drift Giveaway


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Thanks to the generosity of Crown Publishing, I have a signed hardback of Dr. Maddow’s new book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power for some fortunate member of the BJ commentor community.

Your comment here will be your entry. Only one entry per commentor, please, because if you post more than one I’ll have to eliminate you from the pool. Doesn’t have to be a “good” comment — Pick me or Mine or Yes is fine, if you’re not feeling inspired. Newbies welcome (although, as per usual, if you haven’t commented here before WordPress will hold your comment for ‘moderation’ until one of the frontpagers approves it, so do NOT disqualify yourself with a string of why?why?why! follow-ups).

Around this time tomorrow evening, Tuesday, I’ll use a random-number generator, and the person whose comment matches that random number wins the book.

Any questions, you can either put them in your ONE comment, or email me at AnneLaurie @ verizon.net (click on my name in the ‘Contact’ list to the right for a direct link).

Good luck, and — GO!



REPOST: Rachel Maddow’s Drift Giveaway

As I said last night, thanks to Crown Publishing’s generosity, I have a signed hardback copy of Rachel’s book waiting for a lucky Balloon Juice reader.

I’ve updated the giveaway parameters slightly, at the suggestion of commentor Warren Terra and some others: WordPress willing, I’ll put up a third post this evening shortly after 7pm EDT, titled “CONTEST: Drift Giveaway“. Everybody who’s interested gets one entry, one comment. (Duplicate comments will get you eliminated.) The contest will stay open until Tuesday evening, so everyone should have a chance to enter. Then I’ll use a random number generator (my technical advisor, aka the Spousal Unit, has one he wrote for FRP gaming) to pick the number of the winning comment. (And many thanks to Cole and the website builder for rebuilding the comment-number function so you don’t have to trust my hand-counting!)

Looking forward to this evening…