Heller’s High (or should I say Low) Water on Healthcare

In case you haven’t heard, Senator Dean Heller supports MASSIVE cuts to Medicaid.  In fact, Senator Heller has drug the proverbial tea and has expressed his support for PHASING OUT the Medicaid expansion over the next 7 years.

After weeks of denying, fudging and wriggling, Heller is finally admitting he’s ready to end the Medicaid expansion covering more than 138,000 Nevadans—including children—since Obamacare became law.  THAT is unacceptable. Senator Heller was elected to look out for Nevadans, but he’s instead ripping the rug out from those who count on Medicaid.

“I support seven, I support seven,” Heller told reporters on his way into a healthcare working group meeting in the Capitol. “So do a number of us, including [Sen. Rob] Portman [R-Ohio] and others who have been working on this.”

Full story here.

Apparently Heller figures blame won’t fall back on him if they just “slowly” take Medicaid away from over 130,000 Nevadans and millions across the U.S.  … over a 7 year time frame. What folks need to understand is, that without Federal “matching funds” which enable States to open up the Medicaid insurance program to those whose incomes are below or just above the poverty line, it will be detrimentally consequential. Thirty-one states chose to expand Medicaid, and, as a result, 11 million to 12 million newly eligible people were finally able to obtain health insurance.  If federal matching funds are withdrawn, most states will likely return to the more restrictive eligibility rules for Medicaid eligibility ― effectively wiping out the coverage gains, leaving millions of low-income Americans with worse access to health care and more exposure to crushing medical bills.  In other words, it’s the equivalent of legislating a “death panel” where access is denied or expensive procedures/surgeries are denied as funding will not be available and people WILL die.

At a time when the Nevada Legislature is seriously considering a “Medicaid for All” healthcare delivery model that would let Nevadans buy into a “public” delivery system to assure Nevadans can more effectively access healthcare coverage, it appears that Senator Heller has chosen to throw his constituents under the first bus he can find.  Even Governor Brian Sandoval, a Republican who doesn’t support blocking healthcare coverage access for so many Nevadans, has shared his concern about rolling back the Medicaid expansion.

We can’t let Heller and his spokespeople get away with playing loose with the truth, calling this “fake news,” and blaming it on Democrats.  He made the comment and it’s on tape!

We must defeat Senator Heller in 2018. Nevadans can’t afford to lose the Medicaid expansion.

Related posts:

Know What You’d be Giving Up—or What the GOP is Trying to Take Away

What is The Affordable Care Act? — The Affordable Care Act (ACA), officially titled The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and sometimes called ObamaCare (a nickname popularized by the GOP), is a US law that reformed both the healthcare and health insurance industries throughout America.  It was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012 and has overcome many GOP repeal attempts as well as a few other major court cases. While the law is not ‘perfect,’ in the years since the PPACA become a law, it has provided healthcare protection to more than 100 million Americans and has helped to reduce the uninsured rate nationally.

It came into existence as a first attempt to remedy a number of abusive issues within the insurance industry that created some serious access and financial issues for individuals and families across our nation.  As enacted, the PPACA:

Under the PPACA, all plans must offer a specified minimum level of TEN essential benefits that apply to employer plans, exchange plans, Medicaid and Medicare  (Note: There were a number of grandfathered plans that may not have included all of these 10 essential benefits, but those were permitted to continue unchanged under the PPACA only until 2015.)

  • Ambulatory patient services (Outpatient care). Care you receive without being admitted to a hospital, such as at a doctor’s office, clinic or same-day (“outpatient”) surgery center. Also included in this category are home health services and hospice care (note: some plans may limit coverage to no more than 45 days).
  • Emergency Services (Trips to the emergency room). Care you receive for conditions that could lead to serious disability or death if not immediately treated, such as accidents or sudden illness. Typically, this is a trip to the emergency room and includes transport by ambulance. You cannot be penalized for going out-of-network or for not having prior authorization.
  • Hospitalization (Treatment in the hospital for inpatient care). Care you receive as a hospital patient, including care from doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, laboratory and other tests, medications you receive during your hospital stay, and room and board. Hospitalization coverage also includes surgeries, transplants and care received in a skilled nursing facility, such as a nursing home that specializes in the care of the elderly (note: some plans may limit skilled nursing facility coverage to no more than 45 days).
  • Maternity and newborn care. Care that women receive during pregnancy (prenatal care), throughout labor, delivery, and post-delivery, and care for newborn babies.
  • Mental health services and addiction treatment. Inpatient and outpatient care provided to evaluate, diagnose and treat a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder. This includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy. (NOTE: some plans may limit coverage to 20 days each year. Limits must comply with state or federal parity laws. Read this document for more information on mental health benefits and the Affordable Care Act).
  • Prescription drugs. Medications that are prescribed by a doctor to treat an illness or condition. Examples include prescription antibiotics to treat an infection or medication used to treat an ongoing condition, such as high cholesterol. At least one prescription drug must be covered for each category and classification of federally approved drugs; however, limitations do apply. Some prescription drugs can be excluded. “Over the counter” drugs are usually not covered even if a doctor writes you a prescription for them. Insurers may limit drugs they will cover, covering only generic versions of drugs where generics are available. Some medicines are excluded where a cheaper equally effective medicine is available, or the insurer may impose “Step” requirements (expensive drugs can only be prescribed if a doctor has tried a cheaper alternative and found that it was not effective). Some expensive drugs will need special approval.
  • Rehabilitative services and devices – Rehabilitative services (help recovering skills, like speech therapy after a stroke) and habilitative services (help developing skills, like speech therapy for children) and devices to help you gain or recover mental and physical skills lost to injury, disability or a chronic condition (this also includes devices needed for “habilitative reasons”). Plans have to provide 30 visits each year for either physical or occupational therapy, or visits to the chiropractor. Plans must also cover 30 visits for speech therapy as well as 30 visits for cardiac or pulmonary rehab.
  • Laboratory services. Testing provided to help a doctor diagnose an injury, illness or condition, or to monitor the effectiveness of a particular treatment. Some preventive screenings, such as breast cancer screenings and prostrate exams, are provided free of charge.
  • Preventive services, wellness services, and chronic disease treatment. This includes counseling, preventive care, such as physicals, immunizations, and screenings, like cancer screenings, designed to prevent or detect certain medical conditions. Also, care for chronic conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
  • Pediatric services. Care provided to infants and children, including well-child visits and recommended vaccines and immunizations. Dental and vision care must be offered to children younger than 19. This includes two routine dental exams, an eye exam and corrective lenses each year.

Prior to the passage of the PPACA, many plans offered sub-par coverage as a way to keep premium costs down. This would seem attractive until one needed care. Provisions like this led to many cases of Americans paying for plans for years and then finding that they did not have access to the care they needed or they hit a dollar limit and were denied treatment when they needed it most. Today, under PPACA, all plans cover essential health benefits to ensure that we all get the care we need.

Depending on the plan you may have selected some Essential Benefits include no out-of-pocket costs (no cost sharing), but all Essential Benefits offer no annual or lifetime limits and have minimum cost sharing limits.

  • No Cost Sharing on Some Preventive Services — Essential Health Benefits include annual wellness visits and many types of preventive services including immunizations and screenings at no out of pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act has a major focus on wellness and prevention to help increase early detection and catch sickness before it starts increasing wellness and decreasing the need for costly treatments. Note: For preventive care to have no out-of-pocket expense it must be delivered by a network provider.
  • No Annual Limits on Essential Health Benefits — There are no dollar limits on Essential Benefits. Before annual and lifetime limits were enacted, over 60% of bankruptcies in the US were medical bankruptcies. Eliminating dollar limits on essential care ensures that patients won’t have to stop treatment or go broke when they reach their dollar limit.
  • A Minimum Actuarial Value on All Coverage — The PPACA places a cap on out-of-pocket costs on all plans that cover Essential Benefits. Plans offering Essential Benefits must cover at least 60% of covered out-of-pocket expenses, on average, and must have reasonable out-of-pocket maximums.  Some plans may also have what’s called a “stop-loss” provision such that once they reach the plan’s stated out-of-pocket maximums, the plan pays 100% of their extra costs.  (Note: Stop-Loss limits never include your premium, balance-billed charges, or health care your health insurance or plan doesn’t cover. However, all cost-sharing you’re charged for Essential Benefits does count toward your out-of-pocket stop-loss limit.)
    • Bronze plans cover 60% on average of covered out-of-pocket expenses,
    • Silver plans generally cover 70% of covered out-of-pocket expenses,
    • Gold plans generally cover 80% of covered out-of-pocket expenses, and
    • Platinum plans generally cover 90% of covered out-of-pocket expenses.

The PPACA did define some limits and exceptions.  Those are:

  • Insurance companies can still put a yearly dollar limit and a lifetime dollar limit on spending for health care services that are not considered essential health benefits.
  • Some health insurance plans may have received a temporary waiver from the rules on yearly dollar limits. Yearly limit waivers end with plan or policy years beginning in 2015 (2014 in some States).
  • All non-grandfathered health plan must limit the total out-of-pocket costs enrollees pay for in-network.
  • Health plans can still set limits on the number of times you can receive a certain treatment.
  • Large Group (employer) markets and self-funded (ASOs) don’t need to offer Essential Benefits.

Quick Facts about Essential Benefits defined under the PPACA (Obamacare):/

  • Cost sharing (co-pays and amounts you’re required to pay) for Essential Health Benefits count towards your maximums.
  • Aside from the Essential Health Benefits, one or more of the plans from which you’re able to select may offer a number of additional benefits.
  • Some plans may offer better cost-sharing options on benefits subject to out-of-pocket cost-sharing. Generally speaking, the more valuable the ‘metal’ (bronze, silver, gold, platinum), a higher the percentage of out-of-pocket costs will be covered by your insurer.
  • Essential Health Benefits include the most commonly used health services like preventive services and annual wellness visits with no cost sharing (co-pays).
  • Essential Health Benefits include preventive care and treatments you need should you get sick. This includes ongoing treatment for common serious sicknesses like cancer.
  • Before the PPACA over 60% of all bankruptcies in the US were medical related, many due to the cost of treatment exceeding annual and lifetime dollar limits.Under the PPACA, there are NO annual or lifetime limits on Essential Health Benefits.
  • The annual cost to society of substance use disorders alone is approximately $200 billion, yet only a fraction ($15 billion) is spent on treatment. The PPACA included parity treatment mental health and substance use disorders services is projected to balance these numbers and reduce healthcare costs.
  • Plans offered by large employers are required to offer only “Minimum Essential Coverage” without the act defining what that looks like. This has caused some companies to adopt “skinny plans” with very limited coverage. There are no requirements for limits on out-of-pocket cost for services not covered under such employer plans.

Want to know more?  Obamacarefacts.com has a wealth of information about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that you can glean through at your leisure.

Ummm — That’s How “Insurance” is Supposed to Work!

I find it depressing that Speaker Ryan actually said: “The whole idea of Obamacare is … the people who are healthy pay for the … sick. It’s not working, and that’s why it’s in a death spiral.”

Ummm … that’s the way Insurance is supposed to work! Maybe someone should ask the GOP’s jihadist Speaker “WHY then does government mandate that we by car insurance?”  The same principle applies, but instead of sick and not sick, it’s good driver and bad driver. Insurance is a “pool” where we all contribute to assure we can each get the care we need when we get sick and need treatment.  It may be me this month, but you the next.  Where just one of us may not be able to pony up the full cost for breast cancer treatment, but the pool can.  We all don’t get breast cancer or prostate cancer or have a heart attack all at the same time.

The orchestrated “Death Spiral” is being created by actions taken by the Gang of Predators to orchestrate the demise of the Affordable Care Act.  Here’s the actual timeline of events published on the Speaker’s website detailing the activities they have taken over the last year to take down the accessibility to insurance for ordinary Americans.

Here’s some food for thought as to Ryan’s point #5:  A federal judge has ruled that Aetna was NOT being truthful when the health insurer said last summer that its decision to pull out of most Obamacare exchanges was strictly a business decision triggered by mounting losses.  U.S. District Judge John Bates concluded this week that Aetna’s real motivation for dropping Obamacare coverage in several states was “specifically to evade judicial scrutiny” over its merger with Humana.  Aetna’s temper tantrum to pull out of Obamacare exchanges in 11 states last August, including 17 counties in Florida, Georgia and Missouri where the Department of Justice argued the merger would wipe out competition and blocked Aetna’s $34 billion merger with Humana on antitrust grounds.

Please note that in #6, the Speaker rales about how premiums spiked … uh … might their budgetary activities that continually cut Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH)  financial support to hospitals that serve the nation’s most vulnerable populations – Medicaid beneficiaries, low-income Medicare beneficiaries, the uninsured and under-insured.  I in 2013 alone, hospitals provided $46 billion of uncompensated (DSH) care.  Facilities have to be maintained. Supplies need to be purchased. Doctors and nurses need to get paid for their services.  The money for that just doesn’t get picked off of some magical tree planted on the Hospital front lawn.  It gets charged to the rest of us in the form of higher rates for services rendered, which in turn gets transformed into HIGHER insurance premiums to be able to pay for such services.

Health Care Repeal Is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires

If Obama’s health law is reversed, taxes will go down for the rich and up for the poor, while millions lose coverage.

— by Josh Hoxie

Josh_HoxieGreat magicians are masters of diversion. They attract our attention with one hand while using the other to trick us into thinking a supernatural act is taking place.

But even the best street performers could learn a lesson from the folks in Congress who are trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

When we talk about repealing Obamacare, we almost never talk about the windfall payday it would bring to multi-millionaires and billionaires. In fact, this massive tax cut is the proverbial card hiding in the sleeve of lawmakers pushing repeal.

A new study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows the 400 richest Americans, a group whose average annual income tops $300 million each, would get a combined annual tax cut of $2.8 billion if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

In other words, people who already have more money than they could spend in a dozen lifetimes would get a massive pile of cash.

tax-breaks-corporations
Tracy O/Flickr

Meanwhile, those who make less than $200,000 per year — also known as “the rest of us” — would see no benefit. That’s because the two taxes that funded the expansion in health care coverage included as part of Obamacare don’t extend to these moderate-income households.

And many of us would do worse.

In fact, about 7 million low-income people would actually see their taxes go up if the law’s repealed, since they’d lose insurance premium tax credits that were enacted as part of the bill.

So, to be perfectly clear on this point, repealing Obamacare equals payday for the wealthiest households and higher taxes for the poorest households — millions of whom would also lose their health coverage.

Remember the story of Robin Hood? It’s just like that, but backwards.

Poll after poll shows Americans have no idea how concentrated wealth inequality is today — it’s far worse than most suspect.

A report I co-authored last year looked at the 400 wealthiest individuals in the country. This group together owns more wealth than the entire GDP of India, a country with over a billion people.

The report also showed this great concentration of wealth splits largely, although not exclusively, along racial lines. The 100 wealthiest Americans, none of whom are black, today own more wealth than the entire African-American population combined.

Unsurprisingly, most of us would like to live in a much more egalitarian society. If we can’t swing it, economist and author Thomas Piketty warns, we’re heading towards a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power, where the children of today’s billionaires will dominate our economy and our government.

As we look back at the Obama legacy, we see a number of efforts aimed at beginning to bridge that massive wealth divide. From expanding opportunities for low-income children and families to asking the ultra-wealthy to pay their fair share, progress has been made on this front in the past eight years.

The Affordable Care Act was one of these efforts, and it touched directly on issues of life and death.

Don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of today’s illusionists: Repealing it will directly counteract this progress. It will further concentrate wealth into fewer hands and strip low-income families of what little resources they have.


Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Taxation and Opportunity at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org

Got the BIG-C? You Need to Pay Attention!

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan made it clear during his CNN healthcare town hall that his plan to reduce healthcare costs involving moving cancer patients and other seriously ill people to high-risk pools that will be run by the states (if they can manage to afford to implement such plans) with benefits capped. In other words, cancer patients and other seriously ill people will be given less healthcare and lower odds of survival.

If you didn’t pay close attention to what Speaker Ryan is saying.  He just blamed anybody with Cancer or some serious medical condition for the high rates everybody else is paying for insurance premiums, not that insurance companies and gougers like Martin Skhreli are raising prices through the ceiling, but that because you’re sick, you’re to blame.  He also thinks you should be relegated to State High Risk pools of sick people with extremely high rates, astronomical co-pays and overall caps on what they have to pay out.  The kicker is, if you don’t make that kind of money and don’t have enough equity in your home or can’t sell absolutely everything you own to get well … YOU are a dead person walking, simple as that.

What Speaker Ryan is NOT proposing something BETTER than the Affordable Care Act.  If you’re sick or get sick like around 2.4 million high-risk patients and people with pre-existing conditions they don’t want to cover, he proposes to relegate you to RUC —Republican Unaffordable Care … in other words … the Republican equivalent of a Death Panel.  On the other hand, if you’re healthy, they’ll take your health care premiums for their profit and pay out little if nothing at all after you made a bet you’d get sick and didn’t.

Further Reading:

Statement: Introduction of Obamacare Repeal Resolution

Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement after the Obamacare repeal resolution was introduced in the Senate:

“This is the first step toward relief for Americans struggling under Obamacare. This resolution sets the stage for repeal followed by a stable transition to a better health care system. Our goal is to ensure that patients will be in control of their health care and have greater access to quality, affordable coverage. Today we begin to deliver on our promise to the American people.”

READ MORE ABOUT WHAT THE GOP LEADERSHIP BELIEVES TO BE TRUE:

  1. Repeal Is Relief
  2. Obamacare Has Failed the American People
  3. How Obamacare Is Getting Worse
  4. The Tools It Takes to Repeal Obamacare
  5. A Stable Transition to a Better Health Care System

Please keep in mind the GOP-led Congress intends ONLY to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.  They intend to wait, at a minimum, at least 2-3 years before considering any form of “replacement” — IF they deem it necessary. There solution is to let you open up a Health Savings Account, let employers negotiate whatever cut rate plan they can cheaply buy to minimally cover their employees, and let everybody buy insurance from across state lines (stomping the crap out of the States’ Rights mantra they’ve shoved down our throats for eons). THAT is not going to fix the problems Americans have with accessing adequate health care.

But, just so you know, should they be successful this go around in their repeal effort, they’ll be dumping a whole lot of people across this nation out of the insurance market and onto their “hurry up and die” plan.  Here’s what repeal means just to Nevadans:

Buckle up folks! Privatization of Medicare and Social Security are next on their list of things to loot!

Don’t take Trump literally, take him symbolically? … Surprise!

Trump supporters who don’t think Trump meant what he said

For all those middle class voters who “wanted a change” and “someone to shake up the system,” they’re about to get what they wished for.  The only problem is that now that the Republicans have complete control of government, they’re getting ready to take down programs Trump literally swore he wouldn’t touch.  Their first priority is doing a complete repeal of “Obamacare” … something Trump voters love and thought that what he was saying was just bluster and that it would never happen.  Well …….. surprise!

According to  Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), in his press release today —

Obamacare is hurting families, and before things get worse, we will act to repeal it so that we can bring relief as soon as possible.

Once Obamacare is repealed, we will make sure there is a stable transition period so that people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them. One key to ensuring a smooth transition is getting House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Working together, we will focus on delivering relief and a better system for people struggling under Obamacare.

Instead of a government-centered system like Obamacare, our goal is a patient-centered system that gives every American access to quality, affordable health care.

What does that look like? Well, last spring, as part of the Better Way agenda, House Republicans offered a unified health care plan to show the American people what we would do differently. It included a number of common-sense ideas and principles, such as:

  • Moving health care decisions away from Washington to patients, families, and doctors,
  • Giving patients the right tools, like Health Savings Accounts, to make health insurance more portable and affordable,
  • Breaking down barriers that restrict choices and prevent Americans from picking the plan that is best for them and their family,
  • Real protections and peace of mind—regardless of age, income, medical conditions, or circumstances,
  • Empowering small businesses to provide the kind of affordable health coverage that meets your needs.

Here’s what some experts and editorial boards had to say about these ideas when we put them forward earlier in the year:

  • The overriding theme of the plan’s many reforms is consumer-directed health care. The ACA moved substantial power and authority over the insurance marketplace and the care delivery process to the federal government. The House GOP wants to reverse this shift of authority by giving consumers and states more control over important decisions in the health sector.” (James Capretta and Joseph Antos, AEI)
  •  “…shows that Republicans understand that a better health care system requires the repeal of Obamacare. Admirably, it proposes a number of patient-centered reforms to the employer and individual market…” (Michael Needham, Heritage Action)
  •  “…it is better economic policy because it makes the health sector look like the rest of the economy — built on competition, rewarding quality and low-costs, and evolving flexibly to meet the needs of the customer base. It is a far cry from the top-down, industrial-age Obamacare spigot of federal dollars and regulations.” (Douglas Holtz-Eakin, American Action Forum)
  •  “…builds on successful reforms of the past and points us toward a more market-oriented, consumer-driven model, while addressing many of the complaints and fears that Americans have about their health-care system.” (National Review)
  •  “…their vision in broad terms of how to deliver quality health care for Americans without entangling them in red tape and federal mandates. …would help Americans get insurance without handing over all control to the federal government.” (Chicago Tribune)

The American people know the status quo is unsustainable: 80% want some kind of major changes. We will act to bring relief to people struggling under Obamacare.

This is the fifth piece in an ongoing series.
Part 1: Repeal Is Relief
Part 2: Obamacare Has Failed
Part 3: How Obamacare Is Getting Worse
Part 4: The Tools It Takes to Repeal Obamacare

I ask you, after reading Mr. Ryan’s vague description of what he thinks is wrong and how to help ordinary Americans, what planet does he go home to each evening?  He certainly does NOT live in a community such as those in which most Americans life.

  1. Individual families, not the Federal Government,  make their own decisions about where to seek care and from which companies to buy their insurance, from those insurance companies/doctors/pharmacies/etc., that provide services in their communities.
  2. The problem is the cost and the fact that wages have been pretty much flat or declining for a decade or more, while prices for services and drugs have skyrocketed.  How is a health savings account going to remedy that?  The major “barrier” most Americans have in selecting the “best” plan for them and their family is not that it’s offered in a state three states away, but that they can’t afford to buy that “best” plan and all too frequently end up settling for a plan that oft times bankrupts their budget when a serious injury or disease strikes a member of their family.
  3. How the hell is repealing the ACA without replacement going to provide “real protections and peace of mind”?  That’s what the ACA attempted to do by setting a minimum standard for what insurance plans must carry and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage. As an example under the ACA, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to a new born infant who was covered from the instant of conception until birth because they have some mysterious pre-existing (?) condition.
  4. Consumer-directed health care?  What does that even mean? Employers don’t offer a wide variety of insurance plans from which their employees can be “consumer-directed.”  Mr. Ryan and his caucus want employers to continue to be the means via which employees would access insurance coverage (which continues to tether the employee to the employer). The only “consumer-driven” control over what is or is not available to meet his/her and family needs would continue to be to find another employer who’s negotiated better policies and premium rates, and hope he/she and the family won’t be denied coverage under the next employer because of some insurance-company-declared “pre-existing condition.”
  5. The change that Mr Ryan refers to, that “80% of Americans” want, is not to return to what we didn’t have before enactment of the ACA, but improvements to the ACA to make healthcare options even more accessible and affordable.

Please note, the only thing Republicans are still talking about is “repeal.”  We have yet to see any form of comprehensive bill to “replace” the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  What we have seen is a bill to restrict how much an injured party can sue for as compensation (tort reform) for that doctor’s malpractice, restricting compensational sums to amounts that may not allow injured individuals to fully recover from their loss.  Another Republican bill proposes to stomp the crap out of states rights by opening up markets and allowign insurance policies to be sold across state lines (meaning good luck getting any help from your state’s insurance commissioner if you bought an out of state policy that’s underperforming).  Lastly, they’ve proposed that individuals should just take responsibility for their own health care using healthcare savings accounts through their employer (if even offered by their employer and which aren’t currently portable from one employer to no employer to a next employer).

None of the proposals by the Republican leadership address the root causes of the out of control costs Americans face for healthcare across our nation. In reality, what would truly help control the costs are what other nations are doing — regulating the costs of services and pharmaceuticals — but given the free market enthusiasm of the Republican corporatists in Congress, and that they hold majorities in both Houses and hold the office of the president, you can expect charges for services/pharmaceuticals to continue to rise at astronomical rates, unabated.  They should also be taking a serious look at medical/pharmaceutical patent abuse to prevent drug prices from being jacked up 5000% when some punk hedge fund CEO buys the rights to a drug decides it would be a great little money maker for him (e.g., Martin Shkreli, the hedge fund manager and drug company CEO who became a poster boy for Wall Street greed when he raised the cost of a life-saving pill from $13.50 to $750).

Stay tuned to this one.  Repeal (without replacement) of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will be the Republican Congress’ #1 priority when the 115th Congress convenes.

Catherine Cortez Masto is the Progressive Nevada Needs in the Senate

Endorsement by UNLV Rebel Yell

There is a monumental political fight raging on right now. In certain ways, this fight is just as important as the one to keep the racist, dangerous demagogue Donald Trump out of the White House.

Our Congress has been overrun by the antiquated and ineffective Republican party, and it’s time for Democrats to reclaim the majority. Right here in Nevada, this critical battle it is being led by former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto.

Cortez Masto is a progressive Democrat running to fill Harry Reid’s seat in the Senate, and she is taking on her reactionary Republican opponent, Joe Heck, and his corrupt corporate backers.

Being a popular candidate amongst college students, it was quite exciting when Cortez Masto agreed to speak with the Rebel Yell about her campaign.

“[My campaign] is about fighting for working families, and families in general,” Cortez Masto explained. “I always felt it was important to fight for the people most vulnerable. Our economy is moving in the right direction, we came out of the worst recession we’ve ever seen, but there are still a lot of families unfortunately struggling.”

As a native Nevadan who spent eight years as Attorney General, she has seen first-hand the struggle that many people in our state have gone through, and knows what measures must be taken.

Cortez Masto supports raising the minimum wage, equal-work-for-equal-pay, comprehensive immigration reform, protecting social security and making college affordable. She has publicly opposed the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows uncapped political expenditures by nonprofit organizations.

Cortez Masto also opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a huge multi-national trade agreement that was negotiated in complete secrecy and gives greater freedom to businesses and corporations to move jobs overseas.

“I learned from my parents that when you have certain opportunities and you’re blessed, you give back. You continue to fight for your neighbors and friends,” she said.

Cortez Masto is more than just talk. All one needs to do is look at her record in politics to find that she has been a champion for these issues. As attorney general, she prioritized the rights of women and children.

Her monumental successes against sex-trafficking and abuse will no doubt be at the forefront of her legacy in our state. One of her proudest accomplishments was the bill she introduced to criminalize sex trafficking.

“It passed our legislature unanimously, and was signed by the governor. It really strengthened our laws against pimping, but it was also important because it started putting victims on the path to becoming survivors,” Cortez Masto said.

Protection of the disenfranchised should be a priority of the government, not just a platitude spoken by career politicians.

This is the type of common sense Cortez Masto utilizes in her approach to legislation.

“We have to find ways to approach violence with common sense. Expanding background checks is common sense. Not letting somebody buy a gun on the internet is common sense!”

Giving beneficiaries of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAMers) a pathway to citizenship, taking dark money out of politics and helping college students get their degrees without falling into crippling debt are all common sense measures Cortez Masto fights for.

Heck has been leading a fight of his own. His fight is against civil liberties, equality, education and the environment..

“There are stark contrasts between the two of us,” Cortez Masto seemed happy to explain to me. “You just have to look at Joe Heck’s voting record in Congress. If we’re talking about just education, he voted to cut pell grants and wouldn’t even lock in an interest rate [on loans].

He has fought to defund Planned Parenthood 10 times, voted against equal pay three times, he is opposed to increasing the minimum wage. He actually signed onto a bill to criminalize abortion.

“I think he is more interested in protecting big corporations,” Cortez Masto concluded.

The claim that Heck is a puppet for corporate interests is not a difficult conclusion to arrive at when one considers that the oil business magnates, the Koch Brothers, have spent millions of dollars trying to get him elected.

Heck was also an admirer of Donald Trump until he rescinded his support in a cowardly act to save his own political career after Trump’s sexual assault comments were leaked.

Though Cortez Masto received endorsements from Bernie Sanders, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, and is running against a backwards opponent, she is still locked in a dead tie.

Cortez Masto cannot win unless we all vote on election day. Nevada’s seat in the Senate is too valuable of a position to ignore, and she needs our vote to take the progressive cause to Washington.

“This particular seat alone is enough for the Democrats to take back the majority, and if we really want to get something done, we need to elect progressive Democrats who will fight for the things Bernie talked about,” Masto said.

Catherine Cortez Masto is that progressive, and I endorse her to be our next Senator. I hope you will join me in casting your vote for her on or before election day.

Key points:

Cortez Masto is a progressive Democrat running to fill Harry Reid’s seat in the Senate, and she is taking on her reactionary Republican opponent, Joe Heck, and his corrupt corporate backers.

[…]

As a native Nevadan who spent eight years as Attorney General, she has seen first-hand the struggle that many people in our state have gone through, and knows what measures must be taken…Cortez Masto is more than just talk. All one needs to do is look at her record in politics to find that she has been a champion for these issues. As attorney general, she prioritized the rights of women and children.

[…]

Heck has been leading a fight of his own. His fight is against civil liberties, equality, education and the environment.

Heck has fought to defund Planned Parenthood 10 times, voted against equal pay 3 times, he is opposed to increasing the minimum wage. He actually signed onto a bill to criminalize abortion. “I think he is more interested in protecting big corporations,” Cortez Masto concluded.

The claim that Heck is a puppet for corporate interests is not a difficult conclusion to arrive at when one considers that the oil business magnates, the Koch Brothers, have spent millions of dollars trying to get him elected.

Heck was also an admirer of Donald Trump until he rescinded his support in a cowardly act to save his own political career after Trump’s sexual assault comments were leaked.

[…]

Cortez Masto cannot win unless we all vote by election day. Nevada’s seat in the Senate is too valuable of a position to ignore, and she needs our vote to take the progressive cause to Washington.

FACT CHECK: Heck on Healthcare

factcheckheck

 

Joe Heck would take away healthcare from 300,000 Nevadans while Catherine Cortez Masto wants to fix what needs to be fixed with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  • Congressman Heck voted 37 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and even voted to shut down the government to take away healthcare from nearly 300,000 Nevadans
  • Congressman Heck voted to take away protections that:
    • Prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions
    • Prohibit insurance companies from charging women more than men for the same policy
    • Created no-cost preventive care
    • Allowed young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance plan.
  • Congressman Heck voted to prohibit any government funding of healthcare provided by Planned Parenthood

Alternatively:

  • Catherine Cortez Masto wants to keep what’s working with the Affordable Care Act and fix what’s not, like repealing the Cadillac tax on employer health plans.

Background

  1. Las Vegas Sun: Heck Voted To Repeal The Affordable Care Act At Least 37 Times And Was An “Outspoken Critic.” [Las Vegas Sun,  6/12/15]
  2. Heck Voted For GOP Budget Pushed By House Conservatives To See Through Their “War On The Health Care Law” That Resulted In Government Shutdown. [New York Times, 9/30/13; H.J. Res 59, Vote 504, 9/30/13]
  3. 208,774 Nevadans Have Gained Medicaid Or CHIP Coverage Because Of Medicaid Expansion. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care – Nevada, 11/2/15]
  4. Nevada Health Link: 88,145 Nevadans Gained Health Care Coverage Through ACA Exchange. [Nevada Health Link Press Release, 2/5/16]
  5. Under The Affordable Care Act, Health Insurance Companies Are Banned From Discriminating Against People With Pre-Existing Conditions – As Many As 1,157,045 Non-Elderly Nevadans Have Some Type Of Pre-Existing Health Condition, Including 162,452 [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care – Nevada,  11/2/15]
  6. Under Healthcare Reform, Insurance Companies Cannot Charge Women More Than Men. [PolitiFact, 10/6/13]
  7. Under The Affordable Care Act, 633,000 Nevadans, Including 222,000 Women, Gained Preventive Service Coverage With No Cost-Sharing. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care – Nevada, 3/23/15]
  8. Under The Affordable Care Act, Young People Can Stay On Their Parents’ Health Insurance Until Age 26, Which Has Benefitted More Than 2.6 Million Who Would Otherwise Have Been Uninsured. “ [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Care – Nevada,  11/2/15]
  9. Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 [HR 3134Roll 114-505, 9/18/2015, Aye]
  10. Repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund [HR1217, Roll 111-264, 4/13/2011, Aye]; Continuing Appropriations Act of 2016 which contains a provision to prohibit for 1 year, federal funds from being provided to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates or clinics, for any purpose unless the entities certify that they will not perform abortions or provide funds to any entity that performs an abortion during the period. Includes exceptions for rape, incest, or a physical condition that endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed, and to seek repayment of federal assistance received by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any affiliate or clinic, if it violates the terms of the required certification [HConRes 79, Roll 114-527, 9/30/2015, Aye]; Budget for fiscal year 2016 (vetoed by the President and failure to override by Congress) which includes a provision that restricts for one year, the availability of federal funding to a state for payments to an entity such as Planned Parenthood [HR3762, Roll 114-568, 10-23-2015, Aye]

Joe Heck Attempting to Hide His Record of Working to Take Away Nevadans’ Healthcare

In Congress, Dr. Joe Heck introduced legislation to “fully repeal” (without any replacement) what he claims is “the unsustainable ACA.” He also voted 37 times to eliminate the Affordable Care Act altogether.

Congressman Joe Heck recently met with the Reno Gazette Journal’s Editorial Board, where, in addition to reminding Nevadans of his loyalty to his climate-change denying benefactors, the Koch brothers, he tried to hide his record of working to take away health insurance from thousands of Nevadans. Just 5 months ago, Congressman Heck was touting that he “introduced and cosponsored legislation…to fully repeal the unsustainable ACA,” a perfect complement to his 37 votes to repeal the law. Yet today, Heck made a blatant attempt to muddy the waters saying that he doesn’t think a full repeal is possible. Say what?

“As he’s shown us throughout this entire campaign, Joe Heck has perfected the art of speaking out of both sides of his mouth and trying to have it both ways,” said Mairead Lynn, spokesperson for the Nevada Democratic Party. “But for Joe Heck, the votes don’t lie. He voted 37 times with his Party to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and introduced legislation that would fully repeal the law. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean insurance companies could deny health insurance to people with pre-existing conditions, women would lose access to preventative screenings, and almost 300,000 Nevadans would be stranded without health insurance. This is just another example of how wrong Joe Heck is for Nevada.”