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Mad as Hell Doctor, Dr. Paul Hochfeld, discusses how congress is being manipulated by industry to create policy that serves the interests of corporate America. We are getting policy that is more about profits than public good.
More videos below the fold. Click "Read more." Check the schedule for dates, times and locations here.
Congressman Grijalva Statement on President Obama's Address on Health Care Reform | Press Release
I am pleased that President Obama made the right choice to recognize the importance of a public option as part of the health care reform legislation.
A public option is the most effective way to achieve our goals of controlling costs, eliminating abuses of patients by insurance company abuses, and providing quality health care to all.
However, the President needs to be more direct on what the public option means and what it will do for the American people.
President Obama was elected to bring change and progress. I fear that if my party and the President do not appreciate the mandate the American people have given us, the people will lose confidence in the idea that they can vote for change and get what they voted for.
Over 70 Labor Organizations Call on AFL-CIO Convention to Endorse HR 676
By Kay Tillow | UnionsForSinglePayerHR676 | Press Release | Physicians for National Health Program
More than seventy labor organizations have submitted resolutions to the AFL-CIO Convention calling for the labor federation to endorse HR 676, single payer healthcare legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).
Resolutions were submitted by five national and international unions including the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), the International Alliance of Theatrical & Stage Employees (IATSE), the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), California School Employees Association (CSEA), and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE).
Seven state AFL-CIO Federations submitted resolutions including Wisconsin, South Carolina, Maine, Michigan, Kentucky, California and Vermont.
The remaining resolutions were submitted by Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations in twenty states.
All resolutions, including one expected to be submitted by the Executive Council, will be referred to the Convention’s Legislative Policy Committee which is chaired by Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers.
Healthcare is expected to be discussed on Tuesday September 15th after President Obama addresses the Convention.
HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.
HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.
HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.
In the current Congress, HR 676 has 86 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced SB 703, a single payer bill in the Senate.
HR 676 has been endorsed by 566 union organizations in 49 states including 134 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state AFL-CIO’s (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO, MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI, MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).
For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample endorsement resolution, contact:
- The writ alleges that the CIA has blocked defense counsel's attempts to explore Binalshibh's treatment when he was in the agency's custody and the effects of that treatment on his mental health.
Two military psychiatrists found that Binalshibh has a "delusional disorder," and he has been given psychotropic medicines at the military prison, according to court papers. The writ also alleges that the government has arbitrarily denied Binalshibh's attorneys expert assistance and access to medical records. The lawyers also quote one of the military judges in the case, who said in a ruling that the military commission is part of a system "in which uncertainty is the norm and where the rules appear random and indiscriminate."
Military attorneys for Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks, have filed an emergency writ with a federal court in an attempt to stop hearings in their client's case at a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
In a sweeping brief filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Navy lawyers asked that the commission be found unconstitutional, arguing that "nothing about this case bears any resemblance to the orderly and regular criminal process that occurs in federal and state courts."
Attorneys for Binalshibh acknowledged that the motion was unusual and the prospects for success uncertain, but they said they felt compelled to act to draw attention to the fact that hearings continue at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite President Obama's order that proceedings at the military base be temporarily halted. Obama has vowed to close the military base by January. Read more.
Problems Defending Palestinians in Israeli Courts
By Stephen Lendman
Established in 1992, the Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association provides support for Palestinian prisoners and works to end torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, other forms of abuse, and unjust and unequal treatment in Israel's criminal justice system that handles Jews one way and Palestinians another.
In January 2007, it published a report titled "Defending Palestinian Prisoners: A Report on the Status of Defense Lawyers in Israeli Courts" in which it explained obstacles lawyers face in representing Palestinians in military and civil courts. They're hampered by military orders, Israeli laws, and prison procedures that prevent them from adequately helping clients - from their time of arrest through detention, trial, imprisonment, appeal, and other constraints against justice.
Yet international law is clear and unequivocal. Article 2, section 3(b)(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
....persons "shall have (the) right (to effective remedy through a) competent judicial, administrative or legislative (authority), or by any other competent authority provided for the legal system of the State (to) ensure that the competent authorities shall enforce (judicial) remed(ies)."
Article 14, section 1 states:
"All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals (and) shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law." They shall "be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law."
They're also entitled to competent counsel, may meet with them in confidence, and censorship of their written and oral communications is prohibited.
Listen to Peter Gamble, Publisher and Bill Fletcher, Executive Editor, both of Black Commentator.com, analyze President Obama's speech to the joint session of Congress. Bill Fletcher made some key points: that Obama was more forceful than in the past; that he wouldn't play games with those who caricature positions he elaborated in his health care plan; whether or not Obama delivered the speech he needed to deliver; where progressives should concentrate their efforts, and the part Congress will play in negotiating the health care legislation. Listen here.
In the fear that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Americans were told that defeating Al Qaeda would require us to ``take off the gloves.'' As a former commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and a retired commander-in-chief of U.S. Central Command, we knew that was a recipe for disaster.
But we never imagined that we would feel duty-bound to publicly denounce a vice president of the United States, a man who has served our country for many years. In light of the irresponsible statements recently made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, however, we feel we must repudiate his dangerous ideas -- and his scare tactics.
We have seen how ill-conceived policies that ignored military law on the treatment of enemy prisoners hindered our ability to defeat al Qaeda. We have seen American troops die at the hands of foreign fighters recruited with stories about tortured Muslim detainees at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. And yet Cheney and others who orchestrated America's disastrous trip to ``the dark side'' continue to assert -- against all evidence -- that torture ``worked'' and that our country is better off for having gone there.
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Cheney applauded the ``enhanced interrogation techniques'' -- what we used to call ``war crimes'' because they violated the Geneva Conventions, which the United States instigated and has followed for 60 years. Cheney insisted the abusive techniques were ``absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks against the United States.'' He claimed they were ``directly responsible for the fact that for eight years, we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States. It was good policy . . . It worked very, very well.''
Repeating these assertions doesn't make them true. We now see that the best intelligence, which led to the capture of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was produced by professional interrogations using noncoercive techniques. When the abuse began, prisoners told interrogators whatever they thought would make it stop. Read more.
Debbie Sumner prefaces a note from Granny D:
You may know Granny D (Dennis Kucinich does), Any way you can
help her get the word out about public funding legislation? This was
recently sent out through her group PACE (Public Action for Clean
I'm now reading your book Daybreak, and I agree with John Nichols
that you are our modern day Thomas Paine. Thank you for making sure
we're aware of what's been happening and that we need to keep pushing
Congress to fulfill its responsibilities. Granny is still pushing at
P. O. Box 492
Dublin, NH 03444
September 4, 2009
In September the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. will try again to decide
if corporations are persons and, if so, would have all the rights of a
person; and could send as much cash as they consider effective to
candidates running for office. I HOPE THEY DECIDE AGAINST CHANGING
OUR LAWS FORBIDDING CORPORATIONS FROM USING THEIR HUGE TREASURIES TO
INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS.
Kucinich Responds To Obama's Address To Congress
Tomorrow, September 11
Idaho Falls, Idaho Mad As Hell Doctors Town Hall
Mad As Hell Doctors Keeping up the Good Fight
Hosted by: Mad As Hell Doctors
Type: Causes - Rally
Where: Sam Bennion Student Union Multipurpose Room, Idaho State Univ., 1784 Science Center Drive, 83402
When: Tomorrow from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Saturday, September 12
Pocatello, Idaho Mad As Hell Doctors Soapbox Stop
Clean out the old system, we need single payer health care now!
Hosted by: Mad As Hell Doctors
Type: Causes - Rally
Where: Holt Arena Park (S. 18th & E. Bonneville),
When: Saturday, September 12 from 8:30 am to 9:30 am
A number of new articles highlight evidence of illegal human experimentation on U.S.-held “terrorism” prisoners undergoing torture. The articles follow the release of a “white paper” by Physicians for Human Rights [PHR], Aiding Torture: Health Professionals’ Ethics and Human Rights Violations Demonstrated in the May 2004 Inspector General’s Report.
This article looks at those recent charges, and reveals that experiments by a CIA researcher on human subjects undergoing SERE training went unreported in the legal memos the Bush administration drafted to approve their torture program. It will also connect major military and intelligence figures to the SERE experiments, and tie some of them to major science and “experimental” directorates at the CIA and Special Operations Command.
An article by veteran journalist William Fisher, looking at PHR’s white paper, asks, “Did physicians and psychologists help the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency develop a new research protocol to assess and refine the use of waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques?”
“We Need a Better Change in this Country”–Mom of 17-YO Girl Who Died After Private Insurance Denied Claim for Liver Transplant
...we had insurance. We were covered. We thought we had insurance. So it’s like having insurance and not having insurance is the same thing. People who have insurance and don’t have it, they get the same care. But having insurance and knowing that you do have it, and you are recommended to a certain hospital, because the insurance company only pays if you go to that hospital, you go to that hospital, which in our case was UCLA. We were transferred there. By the way, that’s our fourth hospital within, I would say, three years, because they were jumping us around. And finally, you go there. My son gave her the perfect bone marrow transplant, perfect match. And my daughter needed a liver transplant. And so many requests, so many requests, and they were—the doctors were denied. We were denied, until the California Nurses Association stepped in, helped us out.
We had to get out and go to their headquarters in Glendale, make a scene with our family, the Armenian Youth Federation, our church. Why do we have to do that? I’m a mother who should have been next to my daughter. Only if I knew she was going to die that same day, you think I would have that energy to go out there and do that? I could have been holding my daughter’s hand and praying with her. This is not right.
We speak with Hilda Sarkisyan, the mother of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died two years ago at the age of seventeen after the insurance giant CIGNA denied her claim for a liver transplant. “We need a better change in this country, and I’m willing to help the President to do that…I want to meet him. I want him to feel how it feels not to have a daughter. He has two girls; he should know,” says Hilda Sarkisyan. “If we don’t stop this now, every family is going to have my story in their family.” [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
...in California alone, 45 million claims since 2002, and in the first half of this year alone, their rates continue to skyrocket. Some of these rates ranged as high as 40 percent for UnitedHealthcare’s PacifiCare. And other large, giant insurers like Blue Cross, Health Net, CIGNA, Kaiser were all in the range of 30 percent. So it shows a clear pattern of very high denials by the very insurance companies that people depend upon to assure that they get care they need when they need it.
President Obama begins his final drive for healthcare reform tonight with a nationally televised prime-time address to a joint session of Congress. His speech comes after an explosive August recess consumed by raucous town halls and talk of government-run “death panels.” We take a look at California’s “real death panels.” That’s what the nation’s largest nurses group is calling private insurers, as new data reveals they denied one of every five claims over the past seven years. We speak with Charles Idelson of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. [includes rush transcript and video] Read more.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who is leading a group of six senators negotiating for a bipartisan approach to the health care bill, told reporters today he thinks a government-run, public option "cannot pass the Senate." It's the strongest language Baucus has used yet, though others (notably, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.) have been saying it for months.
The public option has been a major sticking point between Democrats and Republicans.
President Obama, who will address a joint session of Congress on health care at 8 ET tonight, has supported the public option as a way to provide competition in the insurance market and "keep private insurance companies honest." Politco reports here that Obama plans to give a strong endorsement of the idea during the speech tonight, but not make an ultimatum. Read more.
On September 8, 2009 a group of dedicated Oregon physicians will take the message of Universal Health Care "on the road" in a wrapped and branded Motor Home headed for Washington D.C. Our cross-country mission: to stop in big cities and whistle stops alike, conducting pre-booked, local and national media appearances for a curious press. Every move we make along the way will be recorded on camera and then edited and uploaded to the internet that same day. This will allow our Mad As Hell Doctors Tour to leverage the edited video segments on social networking web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, et al. In this way, our effort becomes an unprecedented hybrid of reality television and political activism that offers people the opportunity to follow us, in real time, as our story unfolds. The message will be unmistakable: caravan with us to Washington and help make a public demonstration of support for Single Payer Health Care that will be heard around the world.
Thousands of cars pulling into the nation's capital for a protest on the White House lawn. The sidewalks are filled with supporters carrying signs in support of the Mad As Hell Doctors who have captured the imagination and the ignited the passion of their fellow citizens. We wave and honk at the camera crews, as do the endless line of cars behind us, as we wend our way toward the White House. On every antenna, on the backside of every car, and flapping like flags from sidewalk supporters, is the symbol of this new movement: the White Ribbon.
A New Movement: Health Care as a Civil Right: A Message From Rep. Dennis Kucinich
There is only one true health care public option: Single payer. It covers everyone, all basic health care needs, with doctor of choice. No more premiums, co-pays or deductibles. All health care assets in America would become not-for-profit. The bill already exists. It is HR 676. Congressman John Conyers and I wrote the bill. Our bill has the support of 85 co-sponsors in the House. And it is backed by a growing national movement of labor, doctors, and nurses. The movement needs you. Please join me for tomorrow’s national conference call at 10:00pm EDT. Please call toll-free 1-800-230-1096. Please RSVP here so sufficient phone lines can be reserved.
A U.N.-backed commission found "convincing evidence" of fraud Tuesday in Afghanistan's presidential election and ordered a recount of suspect ballots in at least three provinces, a process that could take months.
At the same time, Afghan officials released new returns that give President Hamid Karzai 54 percent of the vote with nearly all ballots tallied, enough to avoid a run-off unless large numbers of tainted ballots are ultimately thrown out.
The separate announcements from the complaints commission, which is dominated by U.N.-appointed Westerners, and the election commission, which is filled with Karzai appointees, could set the stage for a showdown.
The image of a crooked Afghan president rigging the vote threatens to discredit the entire U.S.-led mission here at a time when NATO casualties are mounting and American, European and Canadian voters are fatigued and disenchanted with the war. Read more.
Learn how Iraqi labor unions are trying to re-build Iraq
Remember this past Spring, when IVAW members Aaron Hughes and T.J. Buonomo went to Iraq for the First International Iraq Labor Conference? There they met with union leaders representing all sectors of the economy from across Iraq. Well, this month, IVAW is excited to host five of those same leaders in an East Coast tour as they head to the AFL-CIO National Convention in Pittsburgh. We kick off this tour today in Washington, D.C., then on to New York City, and Philadelphia.
[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me express my awe. The Tuesday before Labor Day weekend, I posted a striking piece by organizer and activist David Swanson, "Bush's Third Term, You're Living It." It was the day his new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, was published. Somehow, he organized websites, blogs, admirers, and friends into a campaign to buy the book at Amazon on that day and it soared to the #1 spot in nonfiction, knocking Glenn Beck's bestseller briefly off its perch. Now, that's organizing for you!
Also a reminder: If you click on any book link (or book-cover image) at TomDispatch and then buy anything at Amazon, TD takes home a tiny percentage of the purchase. So, if you're going to buy there anyway, consider doing it through this website. Also many thanks to those readers who have continued to contribute directly to TomDispatch, some of you, amazingly enough, via recurring donations. You're helping us upgrade the site, get a little extra help, pay a little more to young writers, and generally get by. Many thanks! Tom]
Here may be the single strangest fact of our American world: that at least three administrations -- Ronald Reagan's, George W. Bush's, and now Barack Obama's -- drew the U.S. "defense" perimeter at the Hindu Kush; that is, in the rugged, mountainous lands of Afghanistan. Put another way, while Americans argue feverishly and angrily over what kind of money, if any, to put into health care, or decaying infrastructure, or other key places of need, until recently just about no one in the mainstream raised a peep about the fact that, for nearly eight years (not to say much of the last three decades), we've been pouring billions of dollars, American military know-how, and American lives into a black hole in Afghanistan that is, at least in significant part, of our own creation.
Imagine for a moment, as you read this post, what might have happened if Americans had decided to sink the same sort of money -- $228 billion and rising fast -- the same "civilian surges," the same planning, thought, and effort (but not the same staggering ineffectiveness) into reclaiming New Orleans or Detroit, or into planning an American future here at home. Imagine, for a moment, when you read about the multi-millions going into further construction at Bagram Air Base, or to the mercenary company that provides "Lord of the Flies" hire-a-gun guards for American diplomats in massive super-embassies, or about the half-a-billion dollars sunk into a corrupt and fraudulent Afghan election, what a similar investment in our own country might have meant. Read more.
Help for Obama Speech Wednesday Evening
By Ray McGovern
The President, I believe, can use all the input he can get. My draft includes suggestions about how to save billions for healthcare reform by putting a timely end to wasteful spending on the feckless foreign adventures launched by his predecessor. Here is my unsolicited draft. I no longer have access to he White House. If you do, please pass this along.
DRAFT: President Obama’s Address to Congress, September 9, 2009
Good evening, both to you members of Congress assembled here, and to fellow Americans in our wider TV and radio audience.
I plan to talk first about health care reform. Then I will make some fresh proposals regarding how to pay for it, since this is a legitimate concern.
A new strategy will kill two birds with one stone. It finds the money for health care reform by curbing wasteful, self-defeating spending on military adventures abroad—adventures that are making us less, not more, safe. Stay tuned.
First, Health Care:
Last year I promised to do all I could to ensure that all of you—that is, every single American—would be able to get affordable health care. I urged you to just elect me president and then hold me accountable.
You did your part. This evening I will give you a preliminary accounting.
But, first a question. How many of you members of Congress do not have affordable health care?
I’m serious. And the nation is curious.
Okay, let’s do it this way. Any Senator or Representative who does not have affordable health care, please rise.
No one is standing up.
Now a more important question: How many of you Senators and Representatives will stand up for legislation that will give ALL Americans essentially the same access to health care that you enjoy?
I’m dead serious. Let’s admit that you and I and the families of members of Congress can get all the health care we need, while millions of Americans cannot.
Again, please rise if you want everyone to have equal access to quality medical care. Rise if you believe it is wrong to consider some Americans, like us, more equal than others.
Thank you. I invite those of you now standing to sit down.
As President Obama prepares to address the nation about his vision for health care reform, we should not overlook the last, best truly transformative change to our health care system: Medicare. We have been staring so intently at the lessons of 1993 that we may have forgotten the universal rule of successful lawmaking: "keep it simple."
During the eleven town hall meetings I've held around my district, I've had some direct experience with the anxiety this debate has produced. Much of the fear comes from two groups: those who have Medicare and don't want it changed and those who have never had a government-run reimbursement system like Medicare and are worried about the impact it will have on their quality of care.
In both cases, a calm, reasoned and vigorous defense of the American single-payer plan is just what the doctor ordered.
The truth is that the United States already uses single-payer systems to cover over 47% of all medical bills through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Understanding that these single-payer health programs are already a major part of our overall health care system should help us visualize what an actual public plan would look like. These institutions also provide health care to millions of satisfied customers in every community who would heartily agree that the government can build and run programs that work quite well. Read more.
Dennis Kucinich isn't among the optimists who believe a legislative fix for the nation's troubled health-care system is right around the corner.
Informal health care reform discussions at dozens of community events last month led the Cleveland Democratic congressman to conclude that debate on the issue is only getting started.
"The idea that there is going to be a massive change in health care brought about in a matter of a couple of months in a bill that keeps changing is not well thought-out," says Kucinich, who wants a government-run health care system to serve the entire nation and is disappointed none of the reform proposals under debate include that idea. "You really have to prepare people for this discussion. You can't shove something down people's throats."
After taking their constituents' temperatures on health-care reform during a month-long recess, Kucinich and his colleagues in Congress return to Washington this week to draft a health-care reform prescription that President Barack Obama calls one of his top priorities. Kucinich will add fuel to the debate by holding a subcommittee hearing next week on how health insurance companies decide which procedures to cover. His Democratic colleagues in Northeast Ohio are more optimistic about the chances to pass some form of health care reform this year.
"Ohio, it's time to act and get this thing done," Obama told a Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic on Monday. "I want a health insurance system that works as well for the American people as it does for the insurance industry." Read more.
Health Care vs. Warfare: The Future Costs of the Afghanistan War
By Jeff Leys | Voices for Creative Non-Violence
On Wednesday, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on health care. Later this year he will decide whether to deploy additional troops to the war in Afghanistan, on top of the 69,000 troops already deployed. The struggle for health care and the struggle to end warfare are inextricably linked. The cost for substantive (though imperfect) health care reform as envisioned in the House of Representatives approach (with the public option) is projected to average $100 billion per year for the next 10 years. The cost to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are projected to cost anywhere from $55 to $100 billion a year. With a few modest reductions to the baseline military budget and the difference is paid.
The choice is clear: health care or warfare; the Common Good or Common Destruction.
Bending the cost curve: Regulating healthcare middlemen
By David Balto | The Hill
One of the most prominent and urgent goals of health care reform is to reduce costs. At each point of service in the health care industry, middlemen like health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) reap enormous profits. Frequently they make the claim that they offer a unique service in their ability to negotiate lower costs, and that health care costs would rise unfettered without them. The facts show us, though, that the exact opposite is true: while the profits of major health insurers and PBMs have skyrocketed over the past few years and premiums continue to rise, our country is in an undeniable health care crisis. The largely unregulated health care industry costs us about one-sixth of our GDP, and this number is only projected to grow until it surpasses even the size of the federal budget.
We clearly need to take action. Nowhere better to start than the PBM industry, which has a long history of deception and fraud and has cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. PBMs are middlemen that use the purchasing power of their members and large scale to negotiate rebates on drug purchases and, in theory, lower costs for enrollees. By managing formularies and making use of their bargaining power, PBMs have the potential to negotiate significant savings. This potential is unfulfilled, however, because of a lack of competition and transparency. PBMs represent the most rapidly growing segment of health care spending, and yet they are the only part of the health care market that is still unregulated. Without regulation and oversight, PBMs do not provide the service corporations, unions, governments and other plan sponsors hire them to do: to secure the lowest drug costs possible for plan sponsors. Read more.