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Friday, April 20, 2007

Get a Load of this Dream Ticket Crap

My dream ticket Crapo/Akaka

ht The Poor Man

I apologize to the esteemed conscript fathers and Solons who are not responsible for their names or my extreme immaturity.

It just seems to me that to defeat the Islamofascists we got to get our shit together.

update: Well they are polite a dream ticket writing me

Dear Robert,

Thank you for selecting your Dream Ticket for the Unity08 presidential and vice presidential ticket in November 2008.

Here's the link to your Dream Ticket.

If you haven't already asked your friends to name their own Dream Tickets please visit Our country needs as many good ideas as possible.

Are you a Delegate yet? Why not? Only those registered as Delegates will be able to participate in the real nominating process at the ONLINE UNITY08 NOMINATING CONVENTION in June, 2008. Signing up is easy and free. And you don't have to leave your party to be a Unity08 Delegate. Just visit

Again, thank you for helping make history. And don't forget, you can see a selection of other Dream Tickets at


Doug Bailey
Founders' Council

P.S. The Rules Committee of Unity08 has just published our Draft Rules for qualifying candidates. To review and comment on them please visit

I haven't checked the rules, but I bet I broke them.


Anonymous said...

Too bad they don't let us combine Crapo and Brownback (both Goopers!)

Anonymous said...

April 20, 2007

Paul Krugman: The Plot Against Medicare
Edited by Mark Thoma

Paul Krugman says the plot against Medicare is moving forward, aided and abetted by some surprising allies:

NY Times: The plot against Social Security failed: President Bush's attempt to privatize the system crashed and burned when the public realized what he was up to. But the plot against Medicare is faring better: the stealth privatization embedded in the Medicare Modernization Act, which Congress literally passed in the dead of night back in 2003, is proceeding apace.

Worse yet, the forces behind privatization not only continue to have the G.O.P. in their pocket, but they have also been finding useful idiots within the newly powerful Democratic coalition. ... There's no nice way to say it: the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens have become patsies for the insurance industry.

To appreciate what's going on, you need to know what has been happening to Medicare in the last few years. ...

Medicare, Part D isn't provided directly by the government. Instead, you can get it only through a private drug plan, provided by an insurance company. At the same time, the bill sharply increased payments to Medicare Advantage plans, which also funnel Medicare funds through insurance companies.

As a result, Medicare — originally a system in which the government paid people's medical bills — is becoming, instead, a system in which the government pays the insurance industry to provide coverage. And a lot of the money never makes it to the people Medicare is supposed to help.

In the case of the drug benefit, the private drug plans add an extra, costly layer of bureaucracy. Worse yet, they have much less ability to bargain for lower drug prices than government programs like Medicaid and the Veterans Health Administration. ...

Meanwhile, those Medicare Advantage plans cost taxpayers 12 percent more per recipient than standard Medicare. In the next five years ... more than $50 billion — about what it would cost to provide all children in America with health insurance. ...

With the Democratic victory..., you might have expected these things to change. But the political news over the last few days has been grim.

First, the Senate failed to end debate on a bill — in effect, killing it — that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate over drug prices. ...[I]n spite of overwhelming public support for price negotiation, 42 senators, all Republicans, voted no on allowing the bill to go forward.

If we can't even establish the principle of negotiation, a true repair of the damage done in 2003 ... seems politically far out of reach.

At the same time, attempts to rein in those Medicare Advantage payments seem to be running aground. Everyone knew that reducing payments would be politically tough. What comes as a bitter surprise is the fact that minority advocacy groups are now part of the problem, with both the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens sending letters to Congressional leaders opposing plans to scale back the subsidy.

What seems to have happened is that both groups have been taken in by insurance industry disinformation, which falsely claims that minorities benefit disproportionately from this subsidy. It's a claim that has been thoroughly debunked...— but apparently the truth isn't getting through.

Public opinion is strongly in favor of universal health care, and for good reason: fear of losing health insurance has become a constant anxiety of the middle class. Yet even as we talk about guaranteeing insurance to all, privatization is undermining Medicare — and people who should know better are aiding and abetting the process.


Anonymous said...

April 6, 2007

Paul Krugman: Children Versus Insurers
Edited by Mark Thoma

Since resources are limited and choices must be made, what types of health care programs should the government support?:

NY Times: Consider the choice between two government programs.

Program A would provide essential health care to the eight million uninsured children in this country.

Program B would subsidize insurance companies, who would in turn spend much of the money on marketing and paperwork, and also siphon off a substantial fraction ... as profits. With what's left, the insurers would provide additional benefits, over and above basic Medicare coverage, to some older Americans.

Which program would you choose? If money is no object, you might go for both. But if you can only have one, it's hard to see how anyone could, in good conscience, fail to choose Program A. I mean, even conservatives claim to believe in equal opportunity — and it's hard to say that our society offers equal opportunity to children whose ... families can't afford proper medical care.

And here's the thing: The question isn't hypothetical..., but the choice between A and B is playing out right now.

Program A is the proposal by Senator Hillary Clinton and Representative John Dingell to cover all children by expanding the highly successful State Children's Health Insurance Program. To pay for that expansion, Democrats are talking about ... shutting down Program B, the huge subsidy to private insurance plans ... so-called Medicare Advantage plans — created by the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act. The numbers for that trade-off add up, with a little room to spare. ...

Now, nobody is proposing that Medicare ban private plans — all that's on the table is requiring that they compete with traditional Medicare ... on a fair basis. And that's not what's happening now. ...Medicare Advantage plans now cost taxpayers an average of 12 percent more per enrollee than traditional Medicare. Private fee-for-service plans, the fastest-growing type, cost 19 percent extra.

[T]he Bush administration ... is adamantly opposed both to any attempt to expand the children's health insurance program — in fact, the administration wants to cut its reach — and to any attempt to reduce Medicare Advantage payments.

The official reasons given for this position are evasive and dishonest.

Explaining the administration's opposition to expanding the children's program, Michael Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said the program "should not be the vehicle by which we insure every adult and every child in America." But that isn't what the Democrats are proposing.

As for why the administration wants to keep subsidizing insurance companies, Mr. Leavitt says, "The president and I are for competition." But nobody is against competition — it's subsidized competition that's the problem. Mr. Leavitt added that "the marketplace beats the government at controlling costs and delivering value" — but he's not willing to put that assertion to the test by requiring that private insurers compete on a level playing field.

Lately, both the insurance lobby and the administration have also started playing the race card, claiming that Medicare Advantage offers special benefits to the poor and to minority groups. ... But a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities thoroughly debunks these claims...

Clearly, the real reasons for the administration's position ... are ... political, having to do with the long-term battle over the future of the welfare state.

But that's a subject for another day. For now, the choice is between A and B — health care for children, or subsidies for insurance companies. Which will it be?


Anonymous said...

April 19, 2007

Senate Bars Medicare Talks for Lower Drug Prices

WASHINGTON — A pillar of the Democrats' program tumbled on Wednesday when the Senate blocked a proposal to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices for millions of older Americans, a practice now forbidden by law.

Democrats could not muster the 60 votes needed to take up the measure in the face of staunch opposition from Republicans. The opponents said private insurers and their agents, known as pharmacy benefit managers, were already negotiating large discounts for Medicare beneficiaries.

Fifty-five senators, including six Republicans, supported a Democratic motion to limit debate and proceed to consideration of the bill; 42 senators voted against it. The Senate had a brief debate on the merits of the bill, which is a priority for the new Democratic majority in Congress.

Republicans framed the issue as a choice between government-run health care and a benefit managed by the private sector. The benefit is delivered and administered by private insurers under Medicare contracts....


Anonymous said...

April 3, 2007

Low-Income and Minority Beneficiaries Do Not Rely Disproportionately on Medicare Advantages Plans: Industry Campaign to Protect Billions in Overpayments Rests on Distortions
By Edwin Park and Robert Greenstein

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), Congress' expert advisory body on Medicare payments, reported this month that Medicare is losing billions of dollars each year because of excessive payments to private insurance plans through the Medicare Advantage program. (Under that program, Medicare beneficiaries may elect coverage through private "Medicare Advantage" plans rather than through traditional fee-for-service Medicare.) Although private plans ostensibly were brought into Medicare to introduce competition and reduce costs, MedPAC has found that, on average, the federal government is paying the private plans 12 percent more than it costs to treat comparable beneficiaries through traditional Medicare.

In testimony before Congress, MedPAC chairman Glenn Hackbarth warned that these overpayments are driving up Medicare costs substantially and making the task of sustaining Medicare more difficult. Hackbarth stated that Medicare faces "a very clear and imminent risk from this overpayment that will put this country in an untenable position."


Anonymous said...

Much to the continual regret of Republicans Social Security and Medicare have been immensely successful, popular and efficient since inception. That has not precluded a continual attempt to undermine each program. The programs transformed the lives of older Americans, making them immeasurably more secure. Fortunately the programs have been protected till this combination of Republican Administration and Congress, and the need is to understand and limit the current dangers. Even now, Democrats are not able to set aside a Republican block on negotiating Medicare drug prices which I find a disgraceful block.

The worry of Republicans who will battle against health care reform is the Medicare can be used as a comparative health care program along with private insurers. Of course, that would be a delight for the rest of us.


Anonymous said...

"There’s no nice way to say it: the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens have become patsies for the insurance industry."

Notice, importantly, and sadly, AARP has decided to become a prime private health care insurance company. So, suddenly we have completely lost the use of AARP as an independent lobbying agent on behalf of our parents and grandparents. AARP is now Aetna or Aetna is AARP.


Anonymous said...

We have a health care plan from John Edwards and we need a plan that parallels from Barack Obama and fast. We have no national health care plan however even from the Warrior Princess, remarkably enough.


Anonymous said...

Suppose there is no lobbying pressure on either Obama or Clinton to propose a specific health care plan, what then? Can Democrats rely on any lobbying group to act in the public interest anymore?


Anonymous said...

April 20, 2007

Forthcoming Medicare Trustees' Report May Contain Dubious "Medicare Funding Warning"
By Robert Greenstein and James Horney

While Medicare faces a serious long-term financing problem that must be addressed, the annual report of the Social Security and Medicare trustees to be released on April 23 may contain a dubious "Medicare Funding Warning" that is based on a deeply misleading measure of the program's health.

Under a last-minute provision slipped into the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the Medicare trustees are required to estimate in their annual report on the program's financial status whether general fund revenues will pay for more than 45 percent of total Medicare expenditures in any of the next six years.[1] The law also requires that if two consecutive trustees' reports estimate that the 45-percent threshold will be exceeded, a "Medicare Funding Warning" must be issued and the President must submit, and Congress must consider, proposals to prevent the threshold from being reached.

Last year's Trustees' report contained a projection that the threshold would be exceeded in 2012. If this year's report projects the threshold will be exceeded in any year through 2013, this "trigger" will be pulled.

Unfortunately, the 45-percent threshold misdefines the basic challenge facing Medicare — which is how much the program is projected to cost, not what share of that cost comes from any given revenue source....


Anonymous said...

We can hope the warning above is wrong, for we do not need this to be yet another attack on Medicare. Darn.

Anonymous said...


The Social Security and Medicare Trustees report may project, for the second year in a row, that general revenues will make up more than 45 percent of Medicare funding within six years. Under a provision of the 2003 prescription drug law, this would trigger a requirement that the President submit, and Congress consider, proposals to keep that threshold from being exceeded.

The 45-percent threshold is not a meaningful measure of the health of Medicare. Medicare's basic problem is its large projected cost, not what share of that cost comes from general revenues rather than payroll taxes.

The threshold also makes it harder to address Medicare's fiscal problems fairly. It rules out increases in progressive taxes as part of Medicare reform but allows increases in regressive payroll taxes and beneficiary premiums, as well as cuts in Medicare benefits.


Anonymous said...

Notice then how Congressional Republicans in 2003 were setting up Medicare to fail. Yes; Republicans and even so I am startled at the trickery and meanness. Even Oliver Conure is grouchy at the thought.

Anonymous said...

[Note, the blog is loading very slowly with the words erros on page at the bottom until finally it loads, but I never understand such things.]