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Joining the conversation will be Dr Muhamad Tareq al-Darraji who authored the report Prohibited Weapons Crisis about the impact of the US military assault on the Falluja population, and Dahr Jamail, an American journalist who reported extensively from Iraq on the US invasion and its aftermath.
Doctors in the Iraqi city of Falluja are handling up to 15 times as many birth defects as they were one year ago.
The chronic deformities include multiple tumours, heart problems, nervous system anomalies and eye deficiencies.
Residents of the city blame the surge in chronic deformities on controversial weapons used by US forces against Sunni fighters in 2004.
White phosphorus and depleted uranium shells were allegedly among the munitions used.
Most doctors are unsure about the reasons for the surge in birth deformities over the past year but say it could be a result of the chemicals left over from the fighting.
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The US military has dismissed those allegations. Read more.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich Takes on Democratic Leaders with Insistence on Public Option, Call for Afghan Withdrawal
Rep. Dennis Kucinich Takes on Democratic Leaders with Insistence on Public Option, Call for Afghan Withdrawal
Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich joins us to discuss two House debates in which he’s played a central role this week. The Ohio Democrat is threatening to vote against his party’s healthcare reform package because it does not contain a robust public option. Meanwhile, Kucinich’s bill to force the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan was taken up on Wednesday. After a rare three-and-a-half-hour debate on the war, the majority of House Democrats joined with Republicans to defeat the measure. [includes rush transcript]
Senator Sanders' Office Published Links to Various Articles About Health Care Reform
Health Care President Obama is pushing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to strip the final health care reform bill of narrow deals aimed at appeasing specific senators. "We have defended it, and we will defend it," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose state picked up $600 million in extra Medicaid funding, Politico reported. LINK
Single Payer Sanders outlined a strategy for single payer that some liberals might want to think about, Ezra Klein blogged for The Washington Post. "The way we move to single payer in this country is to let one state like California go first," Sanders told a conference of progressive journalists. LINK
Public Option Prominent Senate liberals told Roll Call they are determined to put the public option question to the test when reconciliation comes to the floor. Sen. Sanders said he believes supporters will have the votes when the amendment comes up. LINK
Public Option Sen. Sanders chalked up the difficulty Democrats have had passing health care to a mistaken belief about party unity, according to Talking Points Memo. He told the progressive media conference that Senate Democrats do have 50 votes to pass a public option, Firedoglake added. LINK and LINK
Republican Obstructionists Senators frustrated at procedural roadblocks by Republicans met Wednesday with Majority Leader Reid. "We're working on a strategy to become more aggressive to combat that obstructionism," Sen. Bernie Sanders told Politico. LINK
Missed Opportunity The Senate's leading progressives expressed concern that President Obama squandered the transformational political coalition that propelled him into office. Sen. Sanders called it a "tragic mistake" that the White House fruitlessly chased Republican votes on health care rather than pass legislation, The Huffington Post reported. LINK
Sanders: White House Finally Gets It Sen. Sanders assailed the White House for purportedly wasting a year vying for Republican votes on health care reform, alleging that the protracted debate weakened the bill and damaged the party's standing among progressives, according to Raw Story. LINK
Progressive Pundits Some of the pundits at a Progressive Media Summit on Capitol Hill, including MSNBC's Ed Schultz, treated it as a forum to tell senators what they are doing wrong. Schultz complained that Democratic leadership avoids the Sunday shows. Sen. Sanders said Democrats forget "Rush Limbaugh was campaigning 365 days a year." LINK
Democrats, White House Close in on Health Bill A final agreement nearly in hand, President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are about to embark on one last sales job that will determine the outcome of the president's signature health care overhaul, The Associated Press reported. LINK
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama is out and abroad stumping like mad for his embattled health insurance “reform” plan, claiming now that his administration will “crack down” on $100 billion in annual “waste and fraud” in the Medicare and Medicaid systems.
This new tough rhetoric is meant to win over some of the conservative opposition that sees all government programs as inherently wasteful, inefficient and corrupt.
But the claim itself is bogus.
The figure comes from a study done annually by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and that study makes it clear that it is not looking at fraud, but at errors. And there are two things that can be said about those errors, most of which appear to involve problems like illegible signatures on doctors’ orders, or lost paperwork needed to document that a treatment being billed for actually happened.
By Katie Robbins, Healthcare Now
On Tuesday, the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) coalition performed a “citizen’s arrest” of the insurance industry at a meeting of Americas Health Insurance Plans, the private health insurance industry’s leading lobbying group, in Washington, DC.
Thousands came out to support this action, and rightfully so. There is no other place we need to be than in the streets in protest of the egregious crimes of the insurance companies. Advocates of Medicare for All agree that the private insurance industry must be held accountable for its crimes, and that it should be put out of business…permanently.
Healthcare Is A Right -- Not A Privilege
On eve of national health care vote...
Labor for Single Payer www.laborforsinglepayer.org March 10, 2010
Grassroots labor leaders vow stronger, long-term campaign to support "Medicare for All" approach to health care reform
Over 125 activists from across U.S. plot strategy for coordinated grassroots campaign to win single payer healthcare
Silver Spring, MD - More than 125 union leaders and activists from 25 states gathered at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD last weekend to strategize about next steps at the state and national level to win comprehensive health care reform. The group is promoting a "single-payer" reform plan that would work like the Medicare program, except improved and expanded to cover everyone.
Rep. Eliot Engel Says Fix This Corporate Health Insurance Bill, Or You Don't Get My Vote -- THANK HIM
Fix health bill or lose my vote
BY Eliot Engel
CALL AND THANK HIM! (202) 225-2464
On March 9, 2010, around noon, about 14 pro-Healthcare Reform activists were arrested at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in down town Washington, D.C. They attempted to cross a police line set up at an entrance to the hotel, where the Fat Cats of the Health Insurance Industry were holding a conference. Earlier, the protesters had convened at Dupont Circle for a rally. Then, they paraded down to the hotel, about ten blocks away. The crowd was estimated at about 5,500. The event was staged by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), along with more than 50 major Labor, grassroots and religious leaders. Background here.
The D.C. police decided, for their own reasons, not to place criminal charge against the parties that were detained at the hotel. Four of the 14 reportedly arrested were: an official from the SEIU union; Jonathan Tasini, Democratic candidate for U. S. Senate in NY; Jeff Blum of US Action and Sean Dobson of Progressive Maryland. The crowd shouted chants, like: 'Healthcare, now!' and 'Arrest the real criminals!"
Party Time: Where Your Healthcare and Jobs Dollars are Going
By Ralph Lopez | Daily Kos
Rep. Dennis Kucinich is currently asking for a flood of calls to trigger a debate on war spending, through "yes" votes on his resolution now on the floor calling for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of the year. A 3 hour debate and vote will take place tomorrow.
Just happened across a startling piece, even for me, by the Nation's Jeremy Scahill which details how Afghanistan has become U.S. private contractor piggy land even by Bush administration standards.
"In Afghanistan, the Obama administration blows the Bush administration out of the privatized water. According to a memo [PDF] released by [Sen. Claire] McCaskill’s staff, "From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000." Read more.
On March 9, 2010, a rally was held in Washington, D.C. championing Healthcare Reform. The spirted demonstration began at Dupont Circle, at 10: 30 AM, and then moved south, about 10 blocks to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Fat Cats from the Healthcare Insurance Industry were holding a conference at that site. The protest action was organized by Health Care for America Now (HCAN), along with more than 50 major Labor, grassroots and religious leaders. For background go here. Featured in this video are: Billionaires for Wealthcare; David Patterson, the youngest delegate to the DNC; and the Rhythm Workers Union. The latter group has been at just about every rally/protest action worthy of the name in the Washington, D.C. area going back at least to October, 2002.
That's the question, and there's no answer here, and aparently no serious effort anywhere to get one. But there is some good outlining of what will happen if he does sign it: READ MORE.
Campaign Announced for California’s Single Payer Health Care Reform Legislation -- Santa Barbara Event
Massive Netroots, Grassroots Campaign
Features New 30-second TV Ad Each Day for Year
The California OneCare coalition launches their ambitious campaign to pass a new health care plan this year for all residents. Celebrities, political leaders, health care activists and victims are featured in a 365-day TV Ad campaign for single-payer legislation, Senate Bill 810, authored by Senator Mark Leno.
From NewsOne: Not sure if Dan Rather is racist, inconsiderate or just used bad phrasing. Here’s what he said on the Chris Matthews show Sunday. “ Listen he just hasn’t been, look at the health care bill. It was his number one priority. It took him forever to get it through and he had to compromise it to death. Listen he’s a nice person, he’s very articulate but he couldn’t sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic.”
The interview with Rep. Kucinich starts about 4 minutes into the 10 minute video. Rep. Kucinich clearly outlines his position on health care reform, saying that the bill should include a "robust" public option, as it's defined here and here. A "robust" public option would offer all Americans, regardless of their state residency, the option to opt into a single payer system, like Medicare for all.
In addition, Rep. Kucinich reinforced his position that the health care reform bill shouldn't prohibit states from doing their own "single-payer" systems through the "ERISA exemptions," as noted by Rep. Tammy Baldwin, in 2007:
"Clearly, on the subject of health care for all, we're not at a loss for words or ideas, but we still haven't figured out how to get the job done," she said. "But where we are seeing the job get done is at the state level. Innovative proposals in states such as Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Oregon, California and Wisconsin demonstrate a clear desire on the part of the states to reach an agreement and move forward," she noted. She added, though, that states are constrained by federal laws and regulations.
By Dave Lindorff
From Extra!, January 2010
In mid-October, hundreds of thousands of Vietnam-era veterans got some good if grim news: The Veterans Administration announced it was adding three more diseases to the 11 others it automatically presumes to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange, the dioxin-laced herbicide spread by the U.S. military across much of South Vietnam to deny crops and cover to North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters during the war.
Newspapers and radio and TV news programs across America ran stories announcing that veterans of the jungle war who now suffer or may eventually suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, ischemic heart disease or a type of cancer called hairy-cell leukemia will henceforth automatically be offered free medical care by the VA if they’d spent at least one day in uniform on the ground in Vietnam.
Rep. Kucinich still manages to get his points across despite Neil Cavuto's talk overs and Massa-baiting.
By the way, how would you like to give $5 to RealNews.com without having to, you know, give up $5. In fact you can give somebody else's $5 to the Real News by texting the word 'news' to 85944. Try it!
ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2010) — When people say they "had sex," what transpired is anyone's guess. A new study from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University found that no uniform consensus existed when a representative sample of 18- to 96-year-olds was asked what the term meant to them.
Is oral sex considered sex? It wasn't to around 30 percent of the study participants. How about anal sex? For around 20 percent of the participants, no. A surprising number of older men did not consider penile-vaginal intercourse to be sex. More than idle gossip, the answers to questions about sex can inform -- or misinform-- research, medical advice and health education efforts.
With the real possibility that a handful of lawmakers -- or even a single vote -- in the House of Representatives could end up deciding the fate of health care reform, advocates are suddenly targeting the chamber's most progressive holdout.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio.) has firmly staked out his opposition to health care reform's passage, citing the timidity of the legislative language and, specifically, the unwillingness of lawmakers to seriously consider a single payer system.
For months, leadership had assumed his position was unalterable. But with an "all hands on deck" whip operation now in progress, Kucinich is getting a burst of attention. Read more.
Marty looks to future with single-payer bill
By Lori Sturdevant | Star Tribune
The possibility that Americans would join hands and buy health care all together has found no traction in Washington. But at the DFL-controlled Minnesota Legislature, the idea has been quietly marching through committees, three in the Senate, one in the House.
The Minnesota Health Plan is propelled in the Senate by former and current DFL gubernatorial candidate John Marty, a seven-term legislator from Roseville. Marty recognizes that with GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty in office, a single-payer health plan has no chance to become law this year.
But health care politics will change rapidly in the next few years as the status quo becomes increasingly untenable, the senator predicted. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
I’m with Marcia Angell, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. The Obama plan for health care “reform”, as well as the two versions passed by the House and the Senate, are all devious disasters that do nothing to solve the nation’s burgeoning health care crisis, and in fact, will make it worse.
The only thing to do at this point is to take the whole stinking pile of paper and put it in the compost heap. Kill it.
This whole effort was never about reform from the day last March when the new president called on Congress to begin deliberations on health care reform. It was about catering to the wishes of the big players in the Medical Industrial Complex--the big pharmaceutical multinationals, the hospital companies, the physicians and, most of all, the insurance industry. People and their health care needs had little or nothing to do with this.
...you can save thousands by hiring a medical billing advocate to find and fight hospital billing errors for you. Eighty percent of hospital bills contain errors, according to Medical Billing Advocates of America.
Millions of Americans...have health insurance plans that charge "coinsurance" rather than a flat co-pay. Coinsurance means you are charged a percentage of your medical care. The most common cost-sharing arrangement is an 80/20 plan, where the insurance company pays 80 percent of your bill and you pay the other 20 percent. Twenty percent of a big bill for a major hospitalization is a lot of money.
Insurance policies have maximum lifetime limits that they will pay out. Often, those lifetime limits are not as generous as they should be, and you may have no choice if you are insured through your employer and not given many options. Therefore, you want to keep your costs down as much as possible to stay away from that lifetime limit on coverage. Read more.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 4, 2010) — A recent report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) confirmed that 3.5 to 5.3 million people (1-2 % of the U.S. population) have chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Despite efforts by federal, state and local government agencies to control and prevent these diseases, they remain a serious public health concern. The major factor impeding efforts to control HBV and HCV is lack of knowledge and awareness among health care providers, social service professionals, members of the public, and policy-makers.
End-of-Life Warning at $618,616 Makes Me Wonder Was It Worth It
By Amanda Bennett | Bloomberg
Along with my colleague Charles Babcock, I spent months poring over some 4,750 pages of documents collected from six hospitals, four insurers, Medicare, three oncologists, and a surgeon. Those papers tell the story of a system filled with people doing their best. And they raise complex questions about a health-care system that consumes 17 percent of the economy.
Days to Decipher
As I leafed through the stack of documents, it was easy to see why 31 percent of the money spent on health care goes to paperwork and administration, according to research published in 2003 by the New England Journal of Medicine. That number has either stayed the same or grown, said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the study cited by the journal. Some bills took days to decipher. What did “opd patins t” or “bal xfr ded” mean? How could I tell if the dose charged was the same as the dose prescribed?
The documents revealed an economic system in which the sellers don’t set and the buyers don’t know the prices. The University of Pennsylvania hospital charged more than 12 times what Medicare at the time reimbursed for a chest scan. One insurer paid a hospital for 80 percent of the $3,232 price of a scan, while another covered 24 percent. Insurance companies negotiated their own rates, and neither my employers nor I paid the difference between the sticker and discounted prices.
‘It’s Completely Insane’
In this economic system, prices of goods and services bear little relation to the demand for them or their cost to make -- or, as it turns out, the good or harm they do. Read more.