Category: Federal Legislature


Rest in Peace Robert Byrd

His family and friends have our condolences and prayers. We may not have agreed with his politics, but he was a huge “fan” of the Constitution, carried a copy with him always, and got September 17th declared National Constitution Day.

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RIP John Murtha

I didn’t agree with his politics and I supported his opponent in the last election (although I couldn’t vote in that election as I live in Illinois) but that doesn’t make his death a sad event. My condolences go out to his family and friends and my prayers for him and his family as well.

He shared my birthday, June 17th, along with Barry Manilow, Joe Piscopo, Newt Gingrich, MC Escher, former IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei, former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and others.

He died of complications from gall bladder surgery.

Critical Care

That’s the name of a Star Trek: Voyager episode first aired November 1, 2000, right before the election.

It was recently rerun on Spike TV and it’s quite interesting in this day and age.

The Doctor’s Holographic Emitter that allows him to interact outside the sickbay or holodeck is stolen and sold to the administrator of an alien hospital. The Doctor is activated on Level Red, a dark, crowded level with many patients and few doctors. Many of these patients are dying for want of medication, but The Allocator – a computer program that decides who gets what – found that the Red Patient’s TC (treatment coefficient) was too low.

The Doctor did what he could for the patients on Level Red, so well that The Allocator reassigned him to Level Blue, where the TC per patient was much higher (Government workers vs laborers) and the doctor/patient ratio was one to one. These patients were more valuable don’t you know.

The Level Blue patients were being given a medication to slow arterial aging. Totally unnecessary to their health, was just supposed to help extend the life of the Level Blue patient. Kind of like a Botox injection for purely cosmetic reasons versus a Botox injection that would kill a tumor and save a life. Only there’s only so many injections and The Allocator has decided that the Level Blue people are more worthy than the Level Red people.

Of course the Doctor steals some of the medication from Level Blue and brings it to Level Red to treat the patients there and the hospital administrator comes down to chew him out. The doctor infects the Administrator with the disease so as to blackmail him into getting medication for those who really need it on Level Red.

This is where we are headed people. Because the government won’t be able to fund full health care for everyone, the government will have to find its own version of “The Allocator” that will use some kind of extremely complicated formula to determine who gets the necessary surgeries and who gets to take an aspirin, who gets medication and who will just have to do without.

Those were the first words out of Hubby’s mouth when the staffer in Melissa Bean’s Washington office answered the phone (she’s our representative… )

That was also the third call placed, the first two didn’t go through because of busy signals. The call was made immediately after the video embedded below ends.

From the Miami Herald:

The committee bill would create so-called “resolution authority,” allowing the federal government to dismantle such huge financial firms, which it was unable to do when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008.

Bean voted for the bill, but was one of a few dems voting against an amendment by Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.). The amendment passed however, and will be part of the bill brought to the floor next week.

Bean explains why she thinks that the federal government should be able to preemptively take more control over financial firms if they feel it’s necessary. Judge Andrew Napolitano had just been on with Neil explaining that the bill is unconstitutional in three areas, violates three sections of the constitution. Bean honestly thinks that the government needs to be ready to step in and take control so that the cost doesn’t devolve onto the taxpayers. It wouldn’t if the government would just keep its sticky fingers out of the business pie and let the markets take their courses. Let bankruptcy and other mechanisms currently in place do what they were meant to do. Let failure occur.

Profits

Last night President Obama said:

But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers.

Excuse me, but profits come after overhead.

This is what happens when one’s only experience with budgeting is non-profit.

With a non-profit budget, if one doesn’t spend all of the money in the budget, one may face a decrease in the amount of next year’s budget. Non-profit and governmental budgeting seems to actually discourage cutting waste and saving money. People feel that they’ll lose in the future if they save today.

For-profit businesses only gain from cutting waste and saving money. There’s more profit to reinvest in the business, more profit to share out with stakeholders.

President Obama put profit at the head of the “overhead” list.

Melissa, Are You Hiding?

Today I went to Opencongress.org to check on my Representative, Melissa Bean (D-IL, 8th) and under the News and Blogs tab I saw an article from The Northwest Herald that said:

Local legislators, with the exception of state Rep. Jack Franks and U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean, gathered Tuesday morning at Woodstock North High School for the McHenry County Economic Development Corp. annual Legislative Breakfast.

With the exception of state Rep. Jack Franks and U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean. An annual Legislative Breakfast. I called Ms. Bean’s office to find out about her schedule, again. I had called her office either right before or at the beginning of the recess as well. I was given the same story this time as then, that they were still “finalizing her schedule”, that they could take my information and let me know when they had the schedule finalized. I told them they already had my information and that I was looking forward to their answer.

Then my friend Mr. Right emailed me with a post from Michelle Malkin about my Representative participating in a Chamber of Commerce breakfast/town hall meeting. I went to the site to sign up for the breakfast and found that the event has been disabled.

beaneventdisabled

I can understand a charge for this particular meeting, it’s the Chamber of Commerce and breakfast is included. But why can’t she publish a schedule? If they haven’t finalized all the appearances, why can’t they publish those that they have?

At her House website, she lists previous appearances under the “Congress In Your Corner” banner. And those appearances are from last year. Nothing since July of 2008. Ms. Bean, I really don’t care where you’ve been, I’d like to know where you’ll be. And you really should update your site. There’s nothing about appearances in this Congress at all.

I met her once, at a local grocery store appearance. She wasn’t there very long and had to leave for another appearance somewhere else. My son was happy to get some booklets including a Pocket Constitution from her though.

On Saturday, I [cref letter-to-representative-melissa-bean posted a letter] I had written to Rep. Bean regarding health care/insurance reform.

Just now, I received a reply (actually I am impressed that I received a reply this soon. In the past I have received replies weeks or even months after writing – but that’s all I’m impressed about). This reply is certainly a boilerplate form letter sent to everyone who writes to her and uses the ‘health care’ option in the drop down box.

Update: Several weeks ago, my husband wrote to Ms. Bean and said that he was disappointed in receiving a form letter in reply to his concerns about the Cap and Trade legislation and was therefore wary of communicating his views on health/insurance reform legislation.  He said, “I am confident at this point that I will receive another meaningless form letter expressing your appreciation of my views while you march lockstep with leader Pelosi down a very destructive path for our nation.”

Guess what? He got the exact same letter reproduced below. Word for word. The only difference was that his was addressed to Mr. while mine was addressed to Mrs. He received his today as well. I guess today was ‘Send the health care form letter day”.

Update 2: This letter, from the second paragraph to the end is exactly what is posted at the redirect of house.gov/bean/healthcare. The first paragraph is her standard opening paragraph when responding to emails and by snail mail to phone calls to either her local or Washington DC office.

The subject line is: Responding to your message

Thank you for contacting me about health insurance reform.  I am honored to represent you, and I appreciate your active participation in our legislative process.  Your involvement makes democracy work better by helping me more effectively represent you and Illinois’ Eighth District.

I appreciate the President’s recognition of the need for health insurance reform.  I support his priorities to ensure quality care, preserve what works for Americans who are satisfied with the coverage they have, expand and protect affordable coverage, and contain unsustainable cost increases for American families, businesses, and government.  The U.S. spends roughly twice as much, as a percentage of GDP, than other industrialized nations on health care.  At the same time, we leave over 45 million people uncovered by health insurance, and rank 37th in terms of quality outcomes.  

Even before I was elected to Congress, the rising cost of health care coverage was a top concern for families, their employers, and the under or uninsured of the Eighth District.  I came to Congress to address their concerns, and it is with their stories and uncertainties in mind that I’m approaching health care reform today. 

The top concerns for families in the Eighth District are the affordability and portability of healthcare coverage.  A preexisting medical condition of a family member can limit career options, or put a family in the category of “uninsurable.”  Families with insurance are seeing their premiums increasing while their benefits shrink.  Underinsurance is a predicament many Americans don’t realize they are in until it’s too late.  The U.S. has the unenviable distinction of being the only country to see increasing numbers of health-care-related bankruptcies from individuals with and without insurance.  What kind of system allows American families who’ve worked, saved, and paid their premiums to be wiped out by the uncovered costs incurred by a family health crisis?

The growing population of uninsured is unconscionable and unaffordable.  Everyone currently pays for those without health care coverage.  A rational system could make coverage affordable so that medical charges can reflect actual care instead of subsidizing uncovered charges elsewhere.

American employers, and particularly small businesses, have limited access to affordable coverage for themselves and their employees.  U.S. employers are also competitively disadvantaged in a global marketplace, because double-digit increases in healthcare expenses are not something foreign competitors have to include in their costs.  Their challenges to provide affordable health care benefits are exacerbated by the economic downturn, leaving many businesses struggling just to cover payroll and operations.

At a time when our nation’s debt exceeds $11 trillion, the status quo for our health care system is unacceptable.  The government’s health care costs represent the fastest-growing portion of our national debt.  At the current rate of increase, the government will be spending $2.2 trillion per year on health care by 2018.  Health insurance reform is as important to America’s fiscal health as it is to our physical health. 

Clearly, I don’t agree with those who suggest we should wait to reform our health care system.  Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are working on multiple versions of a health care reform bill.  I will be evaluating legislative options against key criteria that reflect the concerns of my constituents, including, but not limited to, the promotion of: 

  • Coordinated care for measurable quality outcomes. 
  • Stability of existing plans. 
  • Expanded options for affordable coverage for small businesses and families.
  • Coverage and/or portability for those with pre-existing conditions. 
  • Shared responsibility for the cost of reform, without unduly burdening families and small businesses.
  • Patient choice in terms of plan benefits and doctors.
  • Course of care determined by doctors, not bureaucrats.
  • Measurable reduction in cost increases.
  • Cost sharing for all covered participants. 
  • Personal responsibility in prevention and wellness efforts towards a healthier America.

 
Thank you again for contacting me about health care.  I will update you as this important issue progresses.  I am proud to serve Illinois’ Eighth District, and I am committed to working hard for you.  For further information on various proposals currently under consideration, please go to my website: www.house.gov/bean/healthcare.

 Sincerely,

Melissa L. Bean

Member of Congress

Dear Representative Bean,

Last April, my mother went in for a colonoscopy. Her doctor recommended it because she was presenting with anemia and having some gastro-intestinal discomfort. She’ll be 70 years old next month.

The colonoscopy revealed cancer near the cecum (at the appendix end of the lower intestine). The doctor said that it seemed small and looked like it could be resolved with surgery. Mom would need a CT scan to determine the extent of the cancer as the colonoscopy can only show the inside of the colon. She was able to get the CT scan scheduled within a couple of weeks. The CT scan indicated that the cancer was contained within the colon and surgery was scheduled for May 11th.

The surgery was a great success. Because the surgery was laproscopically assisted, Mom was in the hospital only from Monday to Thursday. She had only three small incisions above and below her belly button and a small 3 inch incision on the right side, under her ribs. Friday, the doctor called at home and told us that he had removed all the cancer and tests showed that Mom would not need chemotherapy or radiation. She was cured.

My sister, who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, had already scheduled a colonoscopy and endoscopy for May 1st. As a result of Mom’s cancer, I scheduled a colonoscopy for myself for May 6th. Both of us were clear, but with the history we have of gastro-intestinal issues, with the history of my father succumbing to esophageal cancer in 2002, and now Mom’s cancer, we need to be checked out more frequently than the usual 10 years between colonoscopies.

I worry that under plans currently being considered in congress we may not have had such a good outcome. I worry that some of this testing may not have happened, or not happened as timely as it did. Mom was having issues, doctor ordered tests which found a very early stage 1 cancer. Surgery resolved the issue.

What if she’d had to wait months or longer for the colonoscopy? What if, after waiting for a colonoscopy she had to wait again to schedule surgery? Her cancer may not have been caught as early as it was. It may not have been as easy to excise the cancer. The cancer may have spread to lymph nodes or other organs as well. She may have needed radiation and chemotherapy as well as the surgery. All that would have cost a lot more than a colonoscopy, a CT scan, and a quick and effective surgery.  And that’s just the monetary cost. Just imagine the pain and suffering Mom may have had to endure had she had to wait. Add to that the radiation and chemo side effects.

By being able to get these services in a timely manner, all that was avoided and she is cancer free. This is what we need. Not a single-payer option, not a ‘public’ option.

I understand that Congress will not avail itself of the public option should that be included in the final markup of a health care reform bill. How about you open up the insurance choices that Congress has to the public? Allow us to have the same choices you have. Wouldn’t your premiums go down too, if there’s a larger pool of people paying in?

Another problem I have with the options that are being considered has to do with my daughter. She is 18 years old and special needs. She has epilepsy, is developmentally delayed, has a moderate hearing impairment, and a few years ago she was also diagnosed with lupus. She is on medications for her chronic conditions. Because of her developmental delays, she is more like a five-year-old. except that her verbal skills are not even at that level. She can make her needs known somewhat, but cannot communicate even like a normal three-year-old. She can dress herself, use the bathroom, and feed herself. She needs help showering, she cannot cook or make a sandwich or use the microwave. She cannot cut food. She needs assistance at a certain time of the month. She can swallow her medications with water, but she is incapable of determining which medications, in what dosages, and at what time she needs them.

She knows how to put a DVD or CD into the built in DVD player in her TV. When she’s playing a CD she calls it her ‘radio’. She can put puzzles together. One with large pieces she actually puts together upside down, so all the pieces are white. She loves music and movies. She loves Barney and Dora and Blue. She calls Ice Age “elephant”, Ice Age II: The Meltdown is ‘elephant in the water’. She tries hard to say Ice Age and Ice Age 2. We’re waiting for Ice Age 3 to come out on DVD so she can have the whole trilogy. She loves going to Six Flags and riding all the rides. She isn’t afraid of any of them.

I am concerned that someday, somebody will decide that resources are being wasted on her. That perhaps she doesn’t need this medication or that medication because of the cost. What on earth will happen to her after I’m gone? She’ll never be a “productive’ member of society. I hate to think that someday in the future someone may decide that she needs ‘end of life counseling’. She’ll say yes to a lot of things because she doesn’t quite understand.

She’s a loving girl. She loves listening to music. She’s concerned when she thinks someone is sick or in pain. She’s been known to ask people in wheelchairs if they are okay. Most see that she is special and take her concern as it is intended and tell her that yes, they are okay. We went to my cousin’s wedding and she called the bride “princess”. She also called Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln (a re-enactor at the annual Civil War Days at Lakewood Forest Preserve in your district)  ‘princess’ because of her long dress. We bought her a pioneer type bonnet there and she calls that her princess hat. She would touch the hat and say ‘princess’ and I’d say yes and she’d say, ‘me?’ I’d tell her that yes, she is a princess.

We’ll be seeing a lot of ‘princesses’ at the Bristol Renaissance Faire tomorrow as well. We can get her a pointed princess hat with ribbons so she can be even more of a princess. She is our princess and we don’t want to see her treated as anything less.

Let’s make sure we think everything through before we make a law regarding health care. Let’s make sure that by “fixing” parts of it we don’t “break” other parts. Let’s try not to regulate it to death.

Open up insurance. Get rid of the ties to employment. Let employers pay employees more and let employees purchase health insurance like they do auto insurance, homeowners/renters insurance, life insurance. COBRA was mandated by congress years ago as a bridge for people between jobs. I’ve been given the choice of COBRA. I have never availed myself of it. I think most people decline. It’s way too expensive. If insurance isn’t tied to employment, one would know exactly how much it costs and be able to budget for it while between jobs just as they do their auto and homeowner’s/renter’s insurance. Open up insurance so people can buy a policy from any state.

Let people pick and choose which coverages they want. Let the young, single, career woman choose insurance that will cover annual women’s wellness exams and birth control should she so choose. Let the post menopausal woman drop the coverage for childbirth. Go ahead and mandate a minimum catastrophic insurance like states already do for auto insurance.

Increase and promote Health Savings Accounts. Allow rollover of these accounts. Currently, if I don’t spend what’s in my Health Savings Account this year, I lose anything left over. Ours is currently used for prescription co-pays. At the beginning of the year I had to estimate what my costs would be and set a monthly amount to go to the account. No changes are allowed. One of my sons was on a medication that did not have a generic equivalent. The co-pay for that one was $50 a month. Halfway through the year the medication became available in generic form. That dropped the co-pay to $10. So now I have to find something that will be approved for payment from the Health Savings Account in the amount of $40 per month or I lose that money. $240-$280 that I will lose if I don’t use it by December 31st.

 Health Savings Accounts are a really great idea, but only if they roll over year to year and one doesn’t lose the money one doesn’t spend in a particular year. The 25 year-old single guy who takes the minimum catastrophic plan could put some money into an HSA every month. Then, when he gets bronchitis, he has the funds to pay for a regular doctor visit and the medications prescribed. If he doesn’t get sick that year, the funds roll over to the next year when he sprains his ankle and needs x-rays, pain meds, crutches…

Please take the time to read the legislation that comes out of this process. Please insist that it is published online and allow time for public debate before laws that affect something as important as health insurance are voted on. Health insurance is a very personal matter to most of us. Let us have some input.

William Jefferson has been found guilty of 11 of 16 charges in the bribery case against him.

From Reuters:

In a search of his residence, FBI agents said they had found the $90,000 in a freezer.

Jefferson faces up to 150 years in prison and could face forfeiture of payments totaling $456,000, plus stock certificates, according a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia, where Jefferson was tried. Jefferson can appeal his conviction.

The former congressman was not taken into custody.

I hope this doesn’t end up with just a slap on the wrist. Corruption needs to be punished.

The Cap and Tax Bill

Hubby and I called and emailed our representative prior to the vote on the bill to tell her that we wanted her to vote no. Hubby had called, and I had emailed. Then Friday, Hubby emailed her again. She still voted yes. Following is the text of the email that Hubby sent:

Madam Congresswoman,

I left a message yesterday regarding my desire for you to vote no on two legislative matters, National Energy Tax Bill (Cap and Trade) now under discussion and Healthcare reform coming up soon.

With the healthcare measure I am concerned with the strong possibility that we are revisiting the mistakes of the “Great Society”  which gave us generations of welfare and the corresponding debt to the nation and damage to the family structure it created. Government participation/control will most definitely lead to a single payer system creating the same damage to the nation. Perhaps Congress should consider tort reform so doctors are relieved of the need to order unnecessary testing to cover their backsides and possibly reducing their malpractice liability costs.

With regard to Cap and Trade, I am watching C-Span at this moment and I am appalled at the behavior of your colleagues. A bill is not present on the floor containing at least 300 pages added in the middle of the night. What I am seeing is a food fight by individuals unworthy of the role of dog catcher, much less responsible for crafting laws that will ultimately impact everyday Americans.

Please do the responsible thing and save myself and the rest of your constituents the crippling tax and living expense increase to obtain a dubious .01 degree reduction in temperature in the next 91 years. We see this argument day in and day out, and to be frank, the data driving the debate is a statistical outlier when taken in context of the age of this planet. One century of data is insufficient to predict global patterns that typically span thousands to tens of thousands of years.

I welcome your feedback and trust your vote will reflect the will of your constituents and the ideological path of your colleagues.

Best Regards,

I don’t know how much writing and calling our Senators will do. We’re stuck with Dick Durbin and Roland Burris…