Tag Archives: health insurance

Trump needs to fire some staff – especially Bannon

But first …

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By Steven R. Maher

In the wake of the disastrous end of his “repeal and replace” Obamacare legislation, President Donald J. Trump should fire some of his staff. It’s what a smart businessman usually does after such a debacle.

After he withdrew the legislation, Trump said he wanted to work with Democrats in the future on health care. He also clearly wants to work with the “Freedom Caucus,” the successor to the “Tea Party” – a group that thought throwing 24 million Americans off their health insurance didn’t go far enough.

The website “Business Insider” reported on Saturday March 25, 2017, that White House Chief Strategist Steven Bannon said to Freedom Caucus members: “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

The New York Times reported Saturday that Bannon and Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short wanted a vote on Trump’s health care bill because they would be able to compile an “enemies list” of Republican Congressman to take revenge on.

“You know, the last time someone ordered me to do something, I was 18 years old,” one Freedom Caucus member was quoted as saying. “And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

Trump also supposedly said during one meeting that he was not going to negotiate further on his insurance program, and Trump wanted their votes.

Not private sector

This “take it or leave it” approach might work in the private sector where everyone works for the boss, but it can be fatal in ego driven Washington, where Trump needs the votes of independently elected representatives.

Trump has two choices: If Trump expects to win enough Republican votes to pass his legislation on every major issue, he will be turning veto power on his Presidency over to a group of conservative extremists who will not compromise on issues that cry out for bi-partisan support. If he wants to find common ground with the Democrats, Trump will be writing off the Freedom Caucus.

Either way, Trump should clean house. A first good step would be to fire Bannon and Short. Both have alienated the Freedom Caucus. The Democrats despise Bannon for his involvement in Breitbart and see him as the evil genius manipulating Trump for his own obscure goals. Getting rid of Bannon would demonstrate that Trump is serious about changing his approach and would make it easier for Trump to reach out to either the Freedom Caucus or the Democrats.

Bannon feuds with Ryan

The one to watch is White House Chief of Staff Rence Priebus. Priebus reportedly urged Trump to work on his health plan first. He is a close ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, with whom Bannon has also been feuding. This is another reason for Trump to fire Bannon. Not only is Bannon alienating the Freedom Caucus, he is straining the relationship between Trump and Ryan. If Trump fires Priebus, Washington insiders would take this as a victory of Bannon over Ryan.

Trump will undoubtedly find many scapegoats for his defeat on health care. Whether he learns the harsh lessons Washington taught him on March 24, 2017, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, Trump faces two upcoming issues on which he is also likely to be opposed by the Freedom Caucus. As the New York Times reported Saturday: “Mr. Ryan repeatedly counseled the president to avoid seeking vengeance – at least until he has passed spending bills and a debt-ceiling increase needed to keep the government running. In the end, the president decided to back down.”

“Trumpcare” – NOT in style!!!😱😱😱

But first …

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REPUBLICANS SUSCEPTIBLE TO “OVERPROMISING” POLS

By Steven R. Maher

“If you’re going to live a good life, you’ve got to live within your income.” – President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Treasury Secretary George Humphrey

“Through his time in office, he [Humphrey] insisted that the government do just that. He fought profligate spending, irritating liberals and imprudent tax cuts, to the annoyance of conservatives.” – From “Eisenhower: The White House Years,” by Jim Newton.

Recently, I was watching a talk show and heard one Republican pundit say that Trump “overpromised” on health insurance during his candidacy for the Presidency.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald J. Trump repeatedly promised that his replacement for Obamacare (some call it “Trumpcare”) would allow everyone to choose their own doctor and medical plan; would cost less money; increase benefits and make available universal coverage to all Americans.

How was such a miracle to be accomplished?

Basically, through the miracle of the marketplace. Trump vowed he would make insurance rates go down and make health insurance benefits go up by increasing competition of insurance companies by allowing insurers to sell their policies across state lines.

“Believe me,” Trump would say after promising how much better a program than Obamacare, Trumpcare would be.

Trump later backed off from these pledges, saying health care was more “complicated” than he had anticipated.

Susceptible to this?

Why did so many of Trump’s supporters believe this?

I’m beginning to believe that Republican voters are particularly susceptible to demagogic appeals. We saw this with “Supply Side” economics. Under this highfalutin theory, Congress could cut taxes, increase military spending and balance the budget – all at the same time. Try doing this with your personal life. You will find yourself in bankruptcy court. Granted, you will live high off the hog, eating caviar, filet mignon and lobster to your heart’s content – right up to the point where you run out of credit cards and the bondholders decide to cut you off.

Unfortunately – or rather fortunately, given who is in the White House – there is no Chapter 11 under which nations can default on their debt.

Someday the United States will have to balance its budget. Better that we do it now ourselves, rather than wait until America’s creditors force us to do it.

Republicans used to be the party of fiscal rectitude, wearing the old green shade accounting hats as they counted beans. They threw away those sensibilities when they adopted the fraud known as “Supply Side” economics. Now they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater with Trumpcare.

The Republicans won’t be the party of common-sense economics, like Dwight Eisenhower, until they give up “supply side” economics and “Trumpcare.”

Congressman Jim McGovern Pledges to Fight GOP Repeal of Affordable Care Act

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From Jim’s office:

Today Congressman Jim McGovern, a senior House Democrat, led debate for Democrats against S.Con.Res. 3, the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Resolution, the House Republican bill to begin the process of repealing of the Affordable Care Act.

“For nearly seven years my Republican friends have railed against the Affordable Care Act. Their well-funded allies have spent billions of dollars distorting the ACA and lying to the American people about what it actually does. And for nearly seven years, there has not been a single comprehensive health care bill brought to the floor by Republicans as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Not one!

“We have voted over 60 times to repeal the ACA on the House Floor. I’d be the first to admit the ACA is not perfect. We want to work in a bipartisan way to strengthen it, to make it better. But my colleagues don’t want to do that. They are determined to just vote for an outright repeal and that is going to hurt countless people in this country.”

“The Donald Trumps of the world certainly don’t have to worry about health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. If someone in their family gets really sick – they’ll just sell some stocks or close down another American factory, or not pay their workers – as our President-elect has been known to do on many, many occasions.

“As someone who represents Massachusetts, this is especially personal because Medicaid is one of the best tools we have in the fight against opioid addiction, providing real care for the addiction and the underlying conditions that drive the opioid epidemic in our communities. Repealing Medicaid expansion under the ACA would rip coverage away from an estimated 1.6 million newly insured individuals with substance use disorders.

In Congressman McGovern’s closing remarks, he spoke directly to Republicans, “It is a cruel thing to do to take away people’s health care. We believe that health care ought to be a right, I know you don’t. We believe health care protections ought to be in law, you believe they ought to be up to the insurance companies. But this is a lousy thing to do. We’re gonna fight you on this. This is a fight worth having. Protecting people’s health care is something we should all be dedicated to and we’re going to fight you on this.”

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Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Floor Speech:

“For nearly seven years my Republican friends have railed against the Affordable Care Act. Their well-funded allies have spent billions of dollars distorting the ACA and lying to the American people about what it actually does. And for nearly seven years, there has not been a single comprehensive health care bill brought to the floor by Republicans as a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Not one!

“We have voted over 60 times to repeal the ACA on the House Floor! I’d be the first to admit the ACA is not perfect. But rather than work together to tweak it, to make it better, all we get from them are repeal bills, repeal bills, repeal bills. And let me again point out – not once, not once was a replacement bill offered.

“Not only do Republicans not have a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act and protect access to health care for more than 20 million Americans who gained coverage, they can’t even agree on a timeline for when they’ll pass their replacement.

· President-elect Trump says repeal and replace will be done on the same day and he wants it to happen now.

· Rep. Steve Scalise said Republicans will replace the ACA over the course of the next few months.

· Sen. John Thune said it could take two or three years for the replacement to be implemented.

· Rep. Chris Collins said Republicans have six months to work out the replacement plan.

· Sen. Mitch McConnell refused to even give a timeline, just saying it would happen.

“While Republicans fight for each other over timelines, I think it’s appropriate to ask: If they did have a replacement, what would that replacement be?

“And what, specifically, would they replace the ACA with?

“Well, President-elect Donald Trump has the answer! When asked what we should replace Obamacare with he said, and I quote, “Something terrific.” When pressed for details and more specificity, he said “Something that people will really, really, really like.”

“You can’t make this stuff up! It would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.

“It’s tragic because what Republicans are trying to do is take health care protections away from millions and millions of families.

“No one in Congress has to worry about health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. And the Donald Trumps of the world certainly don’t have to worry about health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. If someone in their family gets really sick – they’ll just sell some stocks or close down another American factory, or not pay their workers – as our President-elect has been known to do on many, many occasions.

“But for millions of Americans it will be a different story. Repealing the ACA would mean over 30 million Americans would lose coverage, including nearly 4 million children; more than 52 million individuals with pre-existing conditions could have coverage rescinded or see their premiums dramatically increased; millions of young adults would be unable to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26; over 14 million individuals enrolled in Medicaid under the expansion would lose coverage; and nearly 140 million individuals with private insurance would lose access to preventive services without co-pays or deductibles.

“And millions of seniors would see their prescription drug prices increase because it would re-open the so-called doughnut hole that the ACA has begun to close.

“Republicans want to slash Medicaid, a health care program that does a lot of good and enables mothers to work their way out of poverty by providing affordable coverage for their children.

“And as someone who represents Massachusetts, this is especially personal because Medicaid is one of the best tools we have in the fight against opioid addiction, providing real care for the addiction and the underlying conditions that drive the opioid epidemic in our communities. Repealing Medicaid expansion under the ACA would rip coverage away from an estimated 1.6 million newly insured individuals with substance use disorders.

“That’s what’s at stake – and that’s what my Republican colleagues are so happy, so giddy, and so excited to do. It is sad. It is pathetic.

“But – they’re moving forward anyway – with no replacement in sight. I suppose they can roll out their oldies but goodies – like health savings accounts or their other healthcare prescription – take two tax breaks and call me in the morning.

“But that doesn’t do it.

“We have a complicated health care system, no doubt. I wish it were simpler. That’s why I’ve always favored a single-payer system and that is why I favor a public option.

“But the problem with our system before Obamacare was that it left all the decisions up to the insurance companies. Do you remember the days when insurance companies could charge women more for health insurance because they said “being a woman was a pre-existing condition?”

“They can’t do that anymore. Why? Not because of my Republican friends. They can’t do it anymore because we passed the ACA.

“It is a cruel thing to do to take away people’s health care. I will say to my Republican colleagues that they need to know that we will fight you every step of the way on this. There are some battles on behalf of the American people that are worth having and worth fighting and this is one of them, making sure that their health care protections remain intact. I came to Congress to help people, not make their lives more miserable.”

“This is a sad day because what we are doing here by voting for this budget is setting in motion a process to deny millions of people health care protections. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that.

Is the Affordable Care Act perfect? No. We’re the first to admit that and we want to work in a bipartisan way to strengthen it, to make it better. But my colleagues don’t want to do that. They are determined to just vote for an outright repeal and that is going to hurt countless people in this country. People who have benefitted from no pre-existing conditions. People who have benefitted by being able to keep their kids on their insurance until they are 26. Senior citizens who have benefitted from closing the doughnut hole. I could go on and on and on. All of that is about to be eliminated.

We’re told that there will be a replacement. Someday. Somehow. For six years, over six years, you have been talking about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replacement and you haven’t brought one bill to the floor. Not one.

“Now, we believe that health care ought to be a right, I know you don’t. We believe health care protections ought to be in law, you believe they ought to be up to the insurance companies. But this is a lousy thing to do. And as I said in my opening statement, we’re gonna fight you on this. This is a fight worth having. Protecting people’s health care is something we should all be dedicated to and we’re going to fight you on this.”

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pic: R.T.

Peter Stefan of Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home in Main South often helps seniors pay for their prescription meds. Our system is broken! Americans deserve single-payer health care! An expanded version of Medicare is the ticket to a healthier U.S.A! – R. Tirella

Worcester news you can use!

In Piedmont

Family Health Center

Queen Street

Are you uninsured? Do you have questions about health insurance?

We can help!

Talk with one of our Health Benefits Advisors today.
 
Health Benefits Advisors are available at:

26 Queen Street in Worcester
Monday‐Friday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

and at 32 Orchard Street in Southbridge Monday‐Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

No appointment needed!

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YouthWorks – JOBS FOR WORCESTER YOUTH

DOWNTOWN

Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board

44 Front Street, Suite 300

We will be receiving state funding again this year to support the YouthWorks Year-Round jobs program for low-income out-of-school youth ages 17-21 in Worcester. 

It is anticipated that the program will serve 43 youth, divided into two groups with the first session starting January 12, 2015. 

The program will run seven weeks, including an initial week of work-readiness training.
 
As in the past, we are seeking partners to assist us in participant recruitment and retention support, as well as employer host sites (some partners may serve as both). 

If your organization wishes to serve as both a recruitment/retention support partner and host the youth within your organization, you need to complete a partner request form (it has a section of questions for partners who are hosting youth).
 
We are holding an information session about this year’s Year-Round program, as well as a debrief regarding this past summer’s program, next Wednesday (November 5)  at 3 pm, here at the CMWIB office on Front Street.

PLEASE participate! Young people need jobs!

For more information, please call:(508)799-1509

The New America

By Jack Hoffman

As unemployment grows, the poverty statistics grow with it. And the anger becomes greater. One wonders: When will the people take to the streets again?

Recently, on his radio talk show, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned “that if the national jobs crisis doesn’t end soon, the United States will soon see riots in the streets.”

Call it what you want, but the warnings of riots and revolution have been echoed all over the country in magazines, newspapers and talk on the radio and TV shows. Professor Thomas Kochan at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, certainly no bastion of liberalism, not only agrees with Mayor Bloomberg, but also was surprised there aren’t more visible signs of public anger/protests.

The real unemployment figure for the US has now reached a staggering 20%. And just how much is the real under-employment, meaning the figures on those who are now working a bare minimum of what they used to work and earn not so long ago. The figures I have used – and will use – are based on the US Dept. of Labor statistics. Recently, the job crisis has been inflamed with the new reports of poverty in America. That last statement is an obvious fact. If people are out of a job and working at a bare minimal wage – in many homes hamburger is now stretched thin with the addition of a crappy helper and in some cases dog food – they are POOR.

We here in the Bay State are fortunate compared to states like California, Nevada and parts of the Midwest that have double-digit unemployment. Places like Detroit and Milwaukee are almost wastelands compared to what they were 20 years ago. Here in Massachusetts we are more fortunate. Our unemployment figure for the past month has dipped from 7 ¾% to 7 ½%. In a recent Globe article is a listing of 15 town and cities where housing values have actually begun to rise.

I’m sure you all have heard the stories from neighbors, friends and within your own family. Take Bill Rickers of Hartford, Maine: In 1980 he fell through some boards while doing some carpentry work. He has since been unable to do any carpentry work. He has two college degrees. As a young man, Rickers worked as an electronics repairman, a pastor and a TV cameraman. He and his first wife had seven children. Now he receives food stamps, gets donations from a local food pantry store, and drives an 18-year-old car with 189,000 miles on it. About once every two months, as a treat, he goes out to lunch at a nearby lunch café.

After his accident Rickers was not able to tend to a three-unit apartment house he and his wife owned. They sold it, and bought a used trailer from the proceeds. If you think this is bad, he has serious back and shoulder injuries, his hands shake, he has congestive heart problems, asthma and arthritis. The stories go on and on.

That’s why I wasn’t so shocked when at a recent Republican debate Ron Paul was asked what do we do with folks like Ricker, who have no insurance — or any extra money Ricker has which is very little he uses for food. Mr. Paul’s answer was (in so many words): If he can’t get into a hospital he will just have to die.

At that moment there was a few dumb asses out there who actually applauded. I imagine some of the Tea Party/Fox TV crowd. I wasn’t surprised. Most likely the yelp and cheers came from the ones who love to raise the American flag on every holiday and consider themselves proud patriots.

Let the new figures speak for themselves:

Three out of four below the poverty line work; half have full-time jobs. One quarter work part-time. Only one quarter don’t work at all. So don’t give me that BS line “They should get a job.” 25% of all children, that’s 16.7 million, are living below the poverty line. 52% of all Americans, by the time they reach 65, will live in poverty. In one year, poverty has gone to 15% from 14.3%

Today there are 42 million Americans living in poverty. It has been more than 50 years since Edward R. Murrow telecast one of the most shocking and profound TV documentaries, A Harvest of Shame (poverty in America). That was a long time ago, and since then things have gotten worse.

Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien – Part 2

By Rosalie Tirella

After I wrote yesterday’s blog, I remembered this: You would think Mayor Joseph O’Brien has scored a few points with some of his detractors. After all, he is asking the city’s public school teachers to pay 25% of their health insurance premiums. (Good!) While a friend of labor, O’Brien knows that everyone – including our unions – needs to give a little these days, and Worcesterties will balk at paying higher taxes if they feel their money is simply going to the unions’ sky rocketing benefit packages. Going to pay 80% of our teachers’ health insurance! Worcester taxpayers are especially annoyed when folks in the private sector pay as much as 50% of their health insurance premiums – and our teachers are whining about paying only 25%. Worcester biz folks and rersidents balk at paying higher taxes when they have to listen to our teachers – most of whom make at least $70,000/year and many of whom pull down a salary of around $90,000 – think they are taking the moral high ground when they refuse to accept a 5% increase in their health insurance premiums.

Pathetic.

So, of course, the Worcester Public School teachers union is giving O’Brien a hard time.

Then there is O’Brien’s support of Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Melinda Boone. Worcester is a provincial place – filled with people who accept no one outside their circles of trust (family, church, political groups, ethnic enclaves). This narrowmindedness is a black mark on Worcester because civic life doesn’t run that way in places like Hartford or Springfield or Lowell. These cities’ civic lives are actually enriched by all the new and varied voices! But here, in Wormtown, newcomers like Boone, will be dragged through the mud by yappers like Gary Rosen, Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick, etc. The Goddard School MCAS test brouhaha was reason enough for Novick – who wants all of Worcester to know she is such a good Catholic – to lead a racially tinged witch hunt.

Mayor O’Brien has backed Boone with passion and grit. Kudos to him!

And finally, Mayor O’Brien has taken a bit of a shelacking from neighborhood activist and InCity Times pal Gary Vecchio. Gary (usually a very nice guy) is not behaving too sweetly these days. He will not let O’Brien forget that during campaign season O’Brien said he was for the lowest residential tax rate – Gary’s hobby horse. This past year, however, after meeting weith biz folks and carefuly considering the city’s future, O’Brien along with a majority of the Worcester City Council, voted to raise Worcesterites’ property taxes a teeny bit. Old people are exempt, really poor people are exempt. But if you are middle class, it means an increase of about 100 bucks or so for you. Some how this has put Gary Veccio over the edge – he won’t let O’Brien forget that HE WENT BACK ON HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE. I wish Gary, who is a great guy, would lighten up and see O’Brien’s move for what it was: a desire to keep Worcester running smoothly during a nasty recession.

So, I guess, Gary and all the blue collar home owners in Worcester are now pissed at O’Brien – or that’s what Gary wants us to think.

Why not think this: O’Brien is not, as the Sunday Telegram stated in its headline, “an enigma.” Mayor Joe O’Brien is TRYING TO LEAD our city in very shaky times. He is asking ALL of us – residents, biz folks, municipal unions – to do our part to keep Worcester great.

Let’s rise to the occasion!

Don’t be fooled by “statistics”

By John J. Foley, Jr.

In a recent issue of InCity Times, Congressman Jim McGovern and Jack Hoffman presented their cases for a radical overhaul of our health-care system. I do not deny that we need some reforms to the system. My main objection to both of their articles is the intellectual dishonesty running through their arguments.

I have long ago ceased to expect anything akin to objectivity or fairness from Mr Hoffman, but we have a right to hold a public official to higher standards. Continue reading Don’t be fooled by “statistics”

Can President Obama deliver the goods?

By Jack Hoffman

At first glance I got the feeling I was at some local Odd Fellows group. The difference being the audience was not made up of worshipers singing Onward Christian Soldiers. These people were the soldiers of peace and social change. These folks were the veterans, the vanguard of change that drove in freedom buses through the South in the 1960s, registering black voters, marching in the main streets of America protesting an illegal war. And in a last bit of breath they marched again against an invasion of Iraq. We were gathered to hear the words of famous anti-Iraq War protester Cindy Sheehan, an inspirational leader of the movement that refuses to give up the good fight. The big difference was that at this lecture, there were only three people out of 150 under the age of 25. Continue reading Can President Obama deliver the goods?

Know your health insurance rights when switching jobs

By Steven R. Maher

Health insurance is a big issue when switching jobs. The story of Mike is instructive when dealing with insurance companies.

Mike (not his real name) started a new job in September 2007, moving from a large corporation to a larger corporation, both companies having the same health insurer. In his early fifties, Mike was in good health except for soreness in the arms brought on by aggressive weight lifting, which had been diagnosed prior to starting his new job. Mike started physical therapy for this condition shortly after his new employer’s health insurance kicked in. It was then that Mike received the letter.

Continue reading Know your health insurance rights when switching jobs