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November 8, 2009

Health Care Reform: House Vote Brings Us One Step Closer To Success

us-congress-building  This morning, we are one step closer to achieving health care reform in the United States of America.  Can I get a “hip, hip!”

Nancy Pelosi and The House voted 220-215 on Saturday night on health care legislation that would provide way past due relief to Americans struggling to buy or hold on to health insurance.  One Republican, Representative Anh “Joseph” Cao of Louisiana voted with the Democrats.

Some Democrats said they voted for the legislation so they could seek improvements in it. “This bill will get better in the Senate,” said Representative Jim Cooper, D-Tennessee who has been outspoken in his criticism of some provisions of the bill but decided to support it. “If we kill it here, it won’t have a chance to get better.”  “Our plan is not perfect, but it is a good start toward providing affordable health care to all Americans,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio D-Oregon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and The Senate still have to bring their health care plan to the floor for debate. Once their decision is made then the House and Senate will bargain and hopefully reach a deal on a final bill that will go to President Obama for signing.

The health care legislature passed last night will be paid for through new fees and taxes along with strategic cuts to Medicare.  The plan will extend coverage to 36 million people now without insurance while creating a government health insurance program. It would end insurance company practices like not covering pre-existing conditions or dropping people when they become ill.  Most employers would have to provide coverage or pay a tax penalty of up to 8 percent of their payroll. The bill would significantly expand Medicaid and would offer subsidies to help moderate-income people buy insurance from private companies or from a government insurance plan. It would also set up a national insurance exchange where people could shop for coverage.

“We did what we promised the American people we would do,” said Representative Steny Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, but he also warned, “Much work remains.”

The successful vote came after President Obama traveled to Capitol Hill to make a personal appeal for lawmakers to “answer the call of history” and support the bill.

During the private meeting with Democrats in the Cannon Caucus Room, the President acknowledged the political difficulty of supporting major legislation in the face of unanimous Republican opposition and tough criticism from conservatives.

Lawmakers credited President Obama with converting a final few holdouts during his appearance at a closed-door meeting with Democrats just hours before the vote. Democratic officials said that the President’s conversation Saturday with Representative Michael H. Michaud, D-Maine, was crucial in winning one final vote.

After the vote, Mr. Obama issued a statement praising the House and calling on the Senate to follow suit. “I am absolutely confident it will and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.”

But don’t forget, there’s lots of work still to be done.  We will have to make calls, send letters and send emails to our Senators in the upcoming weeks so that they will pass a health care plan.

November 4, 2009

I’ve Got The Seasonal Flu…Yeah?!

Cough and Sneeze

It started way early this year. Walking around coughing. Runny nose. Deep congestion. Unsettled stomach.  Waking up at 3am and not being able to fall back asleep.  Despite the make-up I was wearing, I looked sick but I didn’t have a severe fever.  Yes I had muscle aches and chills and went from hot to cold in a nanosecond and a temperature higher than 98.6 but I didn’t have a severe fever.

I live in Florida so usually the flu doesn’t hit us until February – not this year; the flu came early.

Everyone who looked at me, and saw me blowing my nose, or coughing, probably thought I had the swine flu. I stopped at a local pharmacy and bought cough drops, aspirin and two different types of flu and cold medicine, as well as a large carton of orange juice. As the cashier saw me approaching, her eyes got big. She began to hesitate — as if she didn’t want me to approach her register. I could tell she thought I had the swine flu.

I tried to comfort her — telling her it was simply a pre-emptive strike. I said I was fine, but simply had a sore throat. I said I wanted to start drinking orange juice early just to play it safe. I doubt she fell for anything I said.

It seems like the different viruses, colds and other bad bug strains out there may be packing a little bit more punch this year. Most folks who get sick now automatically assume they’ve got the swine flu. I did, and it was kind of scary. I even went to the ATM machine and took out money — fearing I could end up in the hospital in a matter of hours.  Don’t ask the logic behind that thinking.

Since we don’t usually see a full blown outbreak of the seasonal flu in Florida until February health officials believe most of the influenza activity we are seeing right now is H1N1, and not the seasonal flu. So we could be looking at a double dose of flu activity this year. Swine flu now and seasonal flu later this winter. Hopefully that won’t be the case, but things are certainly off to a bad start.

It’s starting to look like we are in for a long and rough flu season. I’ve got my hand sanitizer ready. I’m sick now and I have no desire to get sick again.

The 2009 virus circulating the world isn’t strictly swine flu; rather, it’s a mix of swine, avian and human influenza that has never been seen before in humans. In the upcoming months, we’ll be dealt the double whammy of seasonal flu season and a potential second wave of swine flu.

Some people already have enough trouble determining if they have a cold or the flu; the symptoms are similar, although the flu’s symptoms are a bit more intense. But it may be especially difficult to know if you have swine flu or seasonal flu, since the symptoms are extremely similar. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Swine flu patients also report diarrhea and vomiting, not usually present in seasonal flu.

A laboratory test is the only way to confirm a case of swine flu, but few tests have been done as most swine flu cases thus far look like a bout with seasonal flu. Many people recover without needing any medication or hospitalization, and some might not even know they’re ill. The mild nature of swine flu has led some to question why there needs to be any worry, as deaths have been far less than those attributable to seasonal flu.

However, because the current H1N1 influenza is completely new and no one has immunity, public health officials warn that swine flu could eventually cause more complications than seasonal flu does. Not only will there be more complications, they’ll likely be more serious. So far, doctors have reported that swine flu is more likely to result in viral pneumonia, as opposed to bacterial pneumonia often seen in seasonal flu cases; the bacterial version is much easier to treat than the viral kind.

Even if you don’t know if you have swine flu or seasonal flu, head to the doctor if you start to experience symptoms that aren’t part of a typical flu experience; these may be the warning signs of serious swine flu complications. That means everyone needs to remain vigilant about their health in the coming months.

Because swine flu and seasonal flu are transmitted in the same way, everyone should be on watch when it comes to prevention. Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often, stop touching other people’s stuff in the office, don’t touch that door handle, stop talking in other people’s face and stay home when you’re sick. Whether you have seasonal or swine flu, you’ll be doing everyone around you a favor.

I’m GLAD that I don’t have the ‘swine’ — just a bad case of the good old seasonal flu which takes about five to ten days to shake — according to the doctor.

September 1, 2009

Republican Solution For Healthcare: Ask Your Neighbor For Help

It’s really sad, the Republicans are completely irrational and are without compassion.

I don’t know about you, but, if I have traumatic brain injury, heart disease, cancer, influenza, pneumonia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic liver disease, cirrhosis or even a toothache I’m surely not going to my neighbor Bob for a cure – but that’s what the Republicans want Americans to do according to Senator Tom Coburn.

So I guess if you’re OK with getting your medical and dental care from Bob the Builder or Joe the Plumber the Republican solution will work just fine for you.

But, if you live in the greatest country in the world, in the new millennium and believe that in America all things are possible and that here in America we should have the best medical and dental care possible, with proper and adequate regulations in place, then I guess Healthcare reform is for you.

Call your elected officials and let them know that you want Healthcare Reform with a public option. Get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight!

 

 

 

August 5, 2009

Republicans LOVE Their Government Run Healthcare

Millions of middle-class families across the country are one illness away from financial ruin including me, maybe you as well; but we can prevent that from happening.

The Healthcare Reform that President Obama wants to sign is pretty easy to understand — it is designed in such a way that it will enable Americans who have coverage to keep it and Americans who need coverage to purchase it. It is designed to build on the healthcare system we have today by getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse.

Opponents of healthcare reform are making outrageous claims about healthcare, twisting words and facts to scare many non-thinking Americans.  Republicans are even claiming that healthcare reform will kill seniors?! W.T.H!  Does anyone exist in America who really believes that absurdity?  That ludicrousness?  That joke?  Really, does anyone believe that healthcare reform will kill seniors!?

Last week was the 44th anniversary of another landmark moment in our nation’s health-care system. President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law 44 years ago but before the bill was signed he was taunted, criticized and ridiculed by political hecklers of health-care reform who claimed that Johnson and our government would takeover healthcare and create a socialist healthcare system and it would be the worst possible healthcare system in the world.  We are in the middle of what seems like déjà vu.

Forty-four years later our 44th President is hearing the same ‘echo’ from Republicans who have AND ENJOY a government run healthcare system similar to Medicare for themselves and their families.  How hypocritical.

1.  Medicare ensures that our parents and grandparents have access to affordable health care.

2.  Medicare protects seniors and their families from backbreaking health expenses.

3.  Medicare operates more efficiently than any other health care coverage – public or private – in our country.

4.  Medicare is a government run healthcare system.

President Lyndon Johnson’s Medicare experience with Republicans taught us that progress does not come easily – especially in the face of big-name campaign contributions and big-dollar ad campaigns.  

President Lyndon Johnson’s Medicare experience also taught us that progress is not always a function of bipartisanship.

Of the key congressional votes on Medicare 44 years ago only 13 Republican senators and only 70 House Republicans joined the overwhelming Democratic majorities to vote for it.

We’re seeing the same kind of opposition today as we fight for healthcare reform. Republicans in Congress are claiming that defeating healthcare reform would break President Obama; that a defeat on this issue will be Obama’s Waterloo.

I don’t care about Obama’s Waterloo (I hope he never gets one though); I care about millions and millions of Americans having access to healthcare that is affordable and healthcare that will make us healthier.  I believe that’s what thinking Americans want.

The drug industry and the health insurance industry are spending millions of dollars to influence Congress. The health insurance industry is camping out at the Capitol and spending lots and lots and lots of money to organize non-thinking Americans to go to town hall meetings and scream and shout and ‘protest’  healthcare reform and the public insurance option.

These non-thinking Americans fail to realize that private insurers will have to cut premiums and increase the quality of healthcare if there is a public insurance option since Americans will have a choice and can decide who we want to give our business to.

Despite being mocked by Republicans 44 years ago, Medicare has proved itself.

1.  Medicare has pulled millions of seniors out of poverty.

2.  Medicare has helped retirees live long and healthy lives.

3.  Medicare has helped to fuel our economy.

4.  Medicare has proved just how important health insurance is.

5.  Medicare works.

And healthcare reform will work.

1.  Healthcare reform will cut healthcare costs for millions of middle class families and small businesses across the country.

2.  Healthcare reform will end uncertainty about health coverage because both private and public insurance will always be available.

3.  Healthcare reform will confront the needless red tape, medical errors, and fraud and abuse that inflate health-care costs and compromise health-care quality.

4.  Healthcare reform will prevent insurance companies from covering you when you’re healthy and dropping you when you’re sick, and from denying you coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

5.  Healthcare reform will keep the insurance industry honest and will make Americans healthier.

We have work to do to get healthcare reform signed and we must do it together.  Inaction doesn’t protect your health coverage or push healthcare costs down.

We must take action to turn things around. Special interests, worn-out cynical politicians, and insane talking heads are going to pull out all the stops to freeze our health-care system in time.

Don’t let them win; fight for your right to have a good healthcare system with a public option.

Go to http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml and contact your Senators and Congresspersons.

Let your elected officials know that you want healthcare reform with a public option.

Watch Rachel Maddow take on the hypocritical Republicans:

June 23, 2009

We Want Health Care Reform!!!

Healthcare

Just like Kanye West chanted “we want pre-nup” in ‘Gold-digger’, I am chanting and we should all be chanting “we want health care reform!”

President Obama won the general elections and when he won one of the things that we Americans voted for was health care.  Like President Obama has rightfully said, “we won”.  Why would Congress have the impudence to not vote and pass President Obama’s health care reform bill?  Well, I don’t care what congress’ political reasons are, “I want health care reform!”

I am willing to organize family, friends and neighbors, call members of Congress and the Senate and cajole and pressure our elected officials so they do what the ‘people’ want.  I hope you’re ready to organize and make calls as well. 

Here is why we need health care reform.  Simply put families need to be able to get the care they need, from a physician of their choice, at a price they can afford.

Many families’ wages have been stagnant for years and our budgets have been undermined by the rising cost of living and health care. We have a dysfunctional and unsustainable health insurance system and families need Congressional action to assure quality and affordable care. We wanted health care reform twenty years ago; today we NEED it desperately!

Excessively high health care costs are a drag on our economic recovery since working families are putting more and more money into health care instead of buying things from retailers or what have you and helping the economy.

Hard working people like me and you are falling further and further behind in bills and too many people have filed for bankruptcy just because they got sick.  It is sick that the number one reason for personal bankruptcy in the United States is a major health care crisis.  That is ridiculous and inexcusable; this is THE United States of America – the greatest country in the world – shouldn’t we have health care for all our citizens?

At the same time small businesses and companies that provide satisfactory employee health care benefits are at a severe economical disadvantage against companies that do not provide adequate coverage to their employees and that’s not right; companies doing the right thing should not be penalized financially.

Our current system is utterly unaffordable. Health care costs Americans $2.3 TRILLION a year and 50 million people aren’t even covered.  Lower health care costs will help to expand access to more people and at the same time take some financial pressure off even those of us with insurance.

Health care providers have to also do their part to eliminate the imbalance in health care and all employers must be required to pay their fair share.

Changing the way we pay for health care must also be a part of the solution. We cannot continue to pay for expensive technology and treatments that have no evidence of effectiveness. Health care providers should be compensated for the quality – and not the quantity – of health care they deliver.

We must streamline and modernize the way we access medical records and eliminate inefficiencies and flaws in the system that cost money and cost lives.

Despite protests by those who offer NO solutions, it is clear that our government must have a role in controlling costs and regulating private insurance. We need a quality public insurance plan option that will end the dominance and price gouging of private insurers.

I am demanding it.  The public is demanding it.  76% of Americans are demanding a quality public health care option and WE must be prepared to fight Congress to get it. 

I hope you’re ready to fight!

May 11, 2009

Healthcare: Insurers Offer President Obama $2 TRILLION In Healthcare Savings!

This news is hotter than a Times Square Rolex!

Healthcare reform is a top priority of the Obama administration and the Obama administration wants to provide healthcare for the 46 million American citizens who do not have healthcare.  It seems that President Obama has been working on the healthcare problem even though we haven’t heard anything about it and we now know that there is a viable plan to finally get Americans a civilized healthcare system.

Some of America’s largest private healthcare providers plan to voluntarily tell President Obama that they will reduce the spending growth rate of healthcare by 1.5 percentage points per year.  Hospitals, drug makers and doctors, among others, wrote a letter to President Obama outlining their plan. The letter didn’t have many details but suggests savings could come from simplified billing, restructuring the way hospitals are paid and using more information technology, among other steps.  Several of these same industry groups — including insurers, whose lobbying group signed the letter — played central roles in defeating earlier efforts to reshape the American healthcare system — including the Clinton administration’s push in the mid-1990s.

If their plan works it could translate into significant savings for families — up to as much as $2,500 a year for a family of four by the fifth year of the program!  And the federal government could see savings as well — as much as $2 trillion during the next decade.

These momentous saving in health care could potentially reduce the growth of the federal budget deficit when similar savings are passed on to federal programs such as Medicare!

White House officials have said that representatives from six healthcare groups including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Medical Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the California Hospital Association signed the letter and came to them with the offer without any quid pro quo – without giving up something in exchange for something else.

Leaders of these groups have been working behind closed doors for weeks and could lose some money if healthcare spending were substantially slowed.

It seems to me that these healthcare groups realize that President Obama means business and they don’t want him to put their backs against the wall or for him to put them in a business choke-hold so they have decided to work among themselves and come up with a more balanced plan that has some give and take that will benefit Americans. It seems to me that because of the way President Obama has been efficiently taking care of business, healthcare companies have felt some pressure and have finally decided that they want to be part of the solution.

White House officials have indicated that some of the savings would come from simple things such as common claims forms that would reduce administrative costs or a universal explanation of benefits. The groups were expected to come to the White House with concrete proposals.

The steps the healthcare industry will need to take will depend on healthcare reform, for example, under current law providers are penalized if they are more efficient.  The Obama administration wants to remove the bureaucracy that stops efficiency and clear the path for a more stream line, modern, straightforward and less expensive healthcare system. 

White House officials estimate that right now healthcare expenses are growing at about a 7 percent annually. If the companies succeed with their plan, by the fifth year, there would be a zero growth rate. By the 10th year the savings would be equal to 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) or $700 billion – a figure close to the economic stimulus package that was enacted in January!

These are funds that could be used to pay down our debts or invested in education or other economic priorities.

Our next assignment as American citizens is to support President Obama by putting pressure on Congress when his plan his ready so that we can get a healthcare bill passed.

April 22, 2009

April 22: Happy Earth Day!

earth-day-logo1

Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. Toxins like radon, carbon monoxide, mold, and gasoline shuffled in on shoes are all guilty culprits.

But an unbelievable fact is that “cleaning products” are amongst the worst toxins! According to the Clean Water Fund, the average U.S. household uses 40 pounds of harmful cleaning products each year which can cause allergies, headaches and more!

Ironically, cleaning products aren’t required to disclose their ingredients, but those big, bold “danger”, “warning” and “caution” labels might say enough. To be safe, it’s best to switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. Thanks to the boom in “green” living, there are now a number of great products on the market. Here are a few:

earth-day-bon-ami Bon Ami, an earth friendly cleaning powder and polishing powder, is celebrating its 120th year anniversary. The polishing cleanser, which works magic on stove tops, is made from calcite & feldspar mineral abrasives, and biodegradable detergent. It does not contain chlorine, perfume, or dye. The cleaning powder, which will make your tub sparkle, is recommended by allergists because it is gentle. This product is safe to use almost everywhere in your home.

earth-dat-ecover-glass-cleaner  Ecover, founded in Belgium in 1980, makes its earth-friendly cleaning products in a factory with a grass roof for insulation, wooden beams from a sustainable forest, and bricks made from coal mine waste. This glass and surface cleaner has a light floral scent and leaves mirrors completely streak free and clean of residue.

earth-day-7th-gen-shower-cleaner  Seventh Generation Natural Green Mandarin and Leaf Shower Cleaner has real mandarin and spearmint essential oils that masks the odor of hydrogen peroxide — a safe bacteria and fungus killing agent — that also removes stains and impressively whitens bathtubs. (more…)

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