Sept. 30, 2012: President Obama departs the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House to board Marine One. Chief of Staff Jack Lew, left, and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling are pictured in the foreground (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
NYT Editorial: Dawn of a Revolution in Health Care
The United States is embarking on a truly historic journey toward near-universal health care coverage this week. Starting Tuesday, the federal government will make it possible for millions of uninsured Americans who can’t get health insurance, or can’t afford it, to obtain coverage with the aid of government subsidies. It is a striking example of what government can do to help people in trouble.
The health care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, requires the creation in every state of new health insurance exchanges on which people can shop for health plans. Insurers selling plans on exchanges will have to provide a set of “essential benefits” and virtually anyone will be allowed to buy on exchanges (except undocumented immigrants), though few people who are covered by employer health plans or by public programs like Medicare and Medicaid are likely to switch.
For the first time last week, federal officials reported what health insurance will probably cost in the 36 states where the federal government will fully or partly run the exchanges. The prospects are promising. It looks as if most uninsured people, including young people whose participation is crucial, will be able to find very affordable coverage with the help of government subsidies.
…. After decades of debate and bitter political battles, millions of uninsured Americans will soon be able to get health coverage they can afford, a right that has long been universal in other advanced nations.
On This Day: President Barack Obama, with Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Mona Sutphen, talks on the phone with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, while in the motorcade during a trip to Richmond, Va., Sept. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The Week Ahead:
Today: The President has no public events scheduled
Monday: The President will host Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House.
Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Wednesday: The President will deliver remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 36th Annual Awards Gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The First Lady will also attend.
Thursday and Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.
Saturday: The President will depart on his trip to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Government at work
I'm not over exaggerating when I say I can smell the booze wafting from members as they walk off the floor.
Steve Benen: House Republicans Embrace Government-Shutdown Plan
…. House Republicans, apparently acting at Sen. Ted Cruz’s behest, have demanded a temporary spending bill that would (a) delay implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year; (b) repeal the health care law’s medical device tax, which means Republicans hope to add over $100 billion to the deficit over the next decade; and (c) provide funds to U.S. troops in the event Republicans shut down the federal government.
And if Democrats fail to accept this offer, Republicans will, of course, have shut down the government, just as they did in 1995, and just as they said they wouldn’t do if given power again.
Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) reportedly told his fellow conservative colleagues, “I said, like 9/11, ‘let’s roll!’”
You see, in the deluded minds of unhinged lawmakers, they’re the heroes, vowing to shut down the federal government unless Democrats start taking away health care benefits from working families…..
ThinkProgress: The Complete Guide To The GOP’s Three-Year Campaign To Shut Down The Government
As the nation races toward another budgetary crisis, Republican leaders are using the prospect of a government shutdown and the need to raise the nation’s debt ceiling as leverage points to undermine the Affordable Care Act — just days before uninsured Americans are expected to sign up for health care coverage — and extract additional cuts to government programs.
Past Congresses have used the debt ceiling as a “vehicle for other legislative matters” or nongermane amendments, but as the timeline below demonstrates, the Republicans that came to power after the 2010 midterm elections demanded something entirely different: they threatened to push the nation into default and shut down the government unless Congress approves deep structural budget cuts during a period of economic recession.
ThinkProgress: Senator Bashes House Republicans: ‘They Hate Government. They Don’t Want Government To Work.’
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) tore into House Republicans on Saturday for roadblocking passage of government funding, saying that “they hate the government,” and are “holding the entire United States hostage” because they “don’t believe government can or should work.”
….”there is a pernicious inner logic to what these characters are doing. They hate government. They don’t want government to work. They don’t believe government can or should work. Crashing the economy, crashing the government, is a kind of weird success and it’s very hard to reach agreement with people who don’t share a kind of basic appreciation of the institution. This is dangerous. We’ve never been here before.”
Noam Scheiber: The House GOP Wants To Throw A Temper Tantrum, And Boehner Can’t Stop Them
Here’s the question to ask yourself while watching the government shutdown/debt-limit insanity play out these next few days: Is the congressional GOP a global menace, bent on destruction of an epic scale, or merely a goofy, intermittently-competent-at-best, primarily self-destructive force?
Since Republicans took over the House in early 2011, my assumption has been Choice A, “global menace,” despite some pretty chronic displays of goofiness. Among other things, this has been the basis for my view that our best hope for avoiding a debt default is for John Boehner to shut down the government by holding fast to conservative demands on defunding health care reform, thereby engineering enough political blowback to demonstrate how isolated his lunatics really are, and forcing them to sober up in time to raise the debt limit by the mid-October deadline. In this view, Boehner is a Hurt Locker-esque bomb disabler who must navigate around improvised explosives that will detonate with a single false move.
There are times, however, when the alternative rings far truer – when the clownishness becomes so laughably self-sabotaging you struggle to take these guys seriously.
NBC: Quitting For Obamacare: Trapped Workers May seek Relief In New Health Exchanges
As millions of Americans wait to see how the federal health exchanges shake out, some who’ve been hanging onto their jobs just for the insurance say Obamacare gives them a new reason to bid their old employers goodbye.
One Arizona couple, Claudia and Joseph Schulz, just quit their jobs, in fact, and launched a husband-and-wife real estate team, largely because they can sign up this week for health insurance not tethered to any position.
“That was the fear before. We felt too much on our own,” says Claudia Schulz, 33, of Phoenix. “Now, if we’re able to make our dream come true of owning our own business, or at least giving it a shot, it’s worth it.”
Jonathan Cohn: ObamaCare Is About To Go Live. Here’s Why It Was Worth The Wait
Obamacare’s new insurance marketplaces are scheduled to open for business on October 1, just a few days from now. For all the attention that date has received, it is less important than it might seem. Because new coverage won’t actually begin until January 1, most people looking to get insurance on their own won’t start shopping until the end of the year. But October 1 is still a milestone.
Probably the most surprising news about Obamacare is about medical costs: All of a sudden, they are rising more slowly than at any time in recent history. And while that reflects many factors, including the recession, there are signs that Obamacare is starting to have an influence, too. One intriguing piece of evidence comes from statistics on hospital readmissions. Under the health care law, Medicare now penalizes hospitals when re-admit certain kinds of patients.
The idea is that hospitals will better prepare patients for what happens after discharge—and maybe even monitor their progress—if money is on the line. Sure enough, readmissions are down. And some hospitals have started innovative programs for follow-up care, like sending visiting nurses to check on patients after they’ve gone home. It’s just one development, andfar from clear-cut. But many experts see a trend. At the very least, the fact that medical inflation has slowed undermines one common argument against Obamacare—that it would cause health care spending to spiral out of control.
Lee Fang: Tea Party Lawmaker Letter On Med Device Tax Repeal Authored By Lobby Group
Today, House Republicans pushed one more step towards a government shut down by coalescing around a continuing resolution that delays the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year, while permanently repealing one of the primary funding mechanisms for the law, a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device companies. The medical device industry, led by AdvaMed, a trade association that spends $29 million a year, has pushed aggressively to ensure that medical device companies contribute nothing to the financing of the Affordable Care Act.
After the Tea Party catapulted House Republicans into the majority, seventy-five right-wing lawmakers wrote a letter to Speaker Boehner demanding that a vote to repeal the device tax occur “as soon as possible.” The metadata of the letter shows that it was authored by Ryan Strandlund, a member of AdvaMed’s government affairs team
House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill. The so-called “conscience clause” would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. That prominently includes birth control, which most insurers are required to provide for free under current Obamacare rules.
With this move, House Republican leaders would give any employer or group health plan the ability to opt out of contraception coverage for the next year. That time frame syncs up with the larger measure in which this is included: a one-year delay of Obamacare provisions not yet in effect.
“Barring some last-minute deal, which gets less likely with each passing moment, the federal government will shut down on Tuesday because of the House and Senate’s inability to pass a spending bill that resolves their deep and persistent differences over Obamacare,” Politico reports.
“But Tuesday is also the day that Obamacare’s new health insurance marketplaces — some run by the states, many run by the feds — are scheduled to start signing up customers. And President Barack Obama has made it clear that, even if the government closes, the health care show will go on.”
Sept. 29, 2011 – Pete Souza: “When a White House staff member leaves their job, the President usually invites the staff member and his family to the Oval Office for a family photo to thank them for their service. Here the President walks with William Jones, son of departing aide Luke Jones, before a family photo.”
President Barack Obama gives Make-a-Wish child, Chase Kerr, a high-five during a greeting with Chase and his family in the Oval Office, Sept. 29, 2009. (Pete Souza)