Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

I notice that our dear friend Amazona asks, “Just curious—does anyone know what impact losing state funding has had on Planned Parenthood activity in Texas?” Well, since you asked…

Before answering her question, we should probably clear up one thing. She seems to be under the impression that Texas defunded Planned Parenthood clinics only since October 2015. Ergo, the span of four months is not long enough to demonstrate any effect on pregancies since it takes longer than that to make a human baby. Of course, she’s wrong again. Not about gestation, but about when Planned Parenthood clinics began to lose funding in Texas.

The fact is, Since Texas slashed funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011, more than half the state’s abortion clinics have shuttered — and data show births among poor women have surged.

You see, Amazona? It was 2011, not October 2015. And some folks have actually studied the situation, as opposed to making up suppositions off the top of their heads to support their ideology. You should try it sometime.

Since Texas slashed funding to Planned Parenthood in 2011, more than half the state’s abortion clinics have shuttered — and data show births among poor women have surged.

Researchers looked at fertility trends among women who qualified for birth control through the state’s public family planning programs in the two years before and after Texas lawmakers booted Planned Parenthood from its payroll. Each woman lived in a county that lost a Planned Parenthood clinic and had, at some point, received an injectable contraceptive from an affiliate before it closed.

The group’s birth rate shot up.

Between 2011 and 2014, the number of these births, covered by Medicaid, climbed 27 percent, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. (Medicaid coverage for healthy pregnancies — prenatal care, labor and delivery — typically costs at least $8,000 per baby.)

The birth increase coincided with a 36-percent drop in claims for long-acting contraceptives, including implants and intrauterine devices — meaning significantly fewer women started using what gynecologists consider the most effective form of birth control. Claims for injectable contraceptives fell 31 percent. No significant change emerged in women obtaining birth control pills and contraceptive rings.

Joseph Potter, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin who co-authored the study, said there’s no way to prove the Planned Parenthood closures sparked a baby boom.

Perhaps more women simply decided, at higher-than-previous rates, to have babies. Or perhaps they couldn’t find or fund another contraceptive shot, which need to be taken every three months to stay effective. Perhaps they simply lost access to reliable birth control, in general.

“You’ve got a very strong signal that there was an impact of [the Texas exclusion of Planned Parenthood],” Potter said. “The thing about this study, it more or less contradicts the claim you can’t implement that policy at no cost, without hurting people.”

The study, which comes as the national debate over abortion rages on and Planned Parenthood stays firmly in the spotlight, received funding from the Susan T. Buffett Foundation, a Planned Parenthood supporter. Potter said the foundation wasn’t involved in the research and did not ask to see the study.

In 2011, Texas became the first state to block funding to Planned Parenthood, cutting its family-planning funds by 66 percent and redirecting the rest to general health-care providers. After excluding Planned Parenthood, a qualified provider under federal law, the state lost all federal funding for its women’s health program. The new, entirely state-run Texas Women’s Health Program bars funds from clinics that offer abortions.

In 2013, former Gov. Rick Perry pushed harder to quash abortion access in Texas, signing a law requiring all providers to meet ambulatory surgical center standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The move delivered another financial blow to women’s health clinics across the state, forcing many to close their doors. From 2012 to 2014, the number of abortion providers in Texas shrank from 42 to 18.

“To be clear, my goal, and the goal of many of those joining me here today, is to make abortion, at any stage, a thing of the past,” Perry said of the policy.

Proponents of the regulations under House Bill 2 say they wanted to protect women’s health. Abortion rights supporters, however, say the mandates are unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights. Some Texas women now have to drive 250 miles to get the procedure.

The Supreme Court is slated to review the law this year, with a hearing scheduled for March.

The trend Texas started carries national implications, Potter said. Alabama, Arkansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Louisiana and Utah have also taken steps to block public money from Planned Parenthood clinics. Ohio is now considering similar action.

The Congressional Budget Office said in a report last year that cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal money would increase public spending by an estimated $130 million over 10 years. The clinics serve more than 40 percent of women who receive birth control from safety-net providers in 18 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health advocacy organization, and more than half of such women in 11 states.

The CBO, a nonpartisan watchdog, asserted that defunding Planned Parenthood, which counts roughly 2.6 million women as clients, would lead to more unplanned births as patients lost access to birth control.

Though Republicans in Texas and across the country have long spoken out against Planned Parenthood, their efforts to defund the organization found new energy last year after anti-abortion activists released video of Planned Parenthood employees discussing the cost of donating fetal tissue.

David Daleiden, the filmmaker behind the videos, claimed the organization was selling fetal tissue for profit – a charge the organization has denied.

Eleven states opened investigations into Planned Parenthood. None found evidence of wrongdoing – and last week, in a surprise move, a Texas grand jury indicted Daleiden on felony charges related to creating a fake ID and trying to buy human tissue. He turned himself over to authorities on Thursday.

Just took a look at the comments on the Blogs For Victory “Never Again” post, in which Leo Pusateri insanely equates Planned Parenthood with the Nazi Germany genocide of European jews. Apparently poor Leo is completely unaware that real genocide actually has occurred in the intervening years since World War II ended. But I don’t want to talk about Leo as the comments thread is much more interesting than his original post. And I guess the moderator is on vacation because rusty’s comments haven’t been deleted, leaving a nonsensical half-a-thread in its wake. Nice to see some actual give and take. It’s all been pretty civil, except of course for tiredoflibbs. Good ol’ tired is nothing, if not consistent. Always the first–and in this case, the only poster–to resort to name calling. Attaboy, tired! Have a treat!

Regarding rusty’s point that the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics would, in many places, result in decreased family planning and contraceptive services, thereby leading to increased instances of pregnancies and abortions, one can look at the experience in Texas.

In 2011, Texas legislators excluded Planned Parenthood from taxpayer funding. The state has yet to make up for the loss.

The number of women served by clinics within the Texas Women’s Health Program dropped significantly between Fiscal Years 2011 and 2013, when the funding changes took effect. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission study, there was an average 25 percent drop statewide, with two of 11 HHSC regions reporting more than 50 percent drops.

As a result of this change, some Texas patients had trouble finding alternate sources of family planning and women’s health, in part because other providers in their area had not previously been providing specialized family planning services and had to first get expensive, time-consuming training in those areas.

“That high quality family planning is very difficult to integrate into primary care without specific programs to do that,” Dr. Janet Realini, the chair of the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, a coalition of organizations working to assure access to preventive women’s care.

Realini did praise the state government, however, for “stepping up” and trying to compensate for the lost Medicaid funds.

Rep. Jim Keffer, a Republican state senator in Texas who worked on the defunding measures, also acknowledged that the state is still working to address lost provider capacity, including recently introducing a new website to help women access family planning programs.

“As Planned Parenthood has been going through their spiral here, we have been bolstering what Texas can offer through this other network,” Keffer said. “You can’t just close it off and wipe your hands of the situation because comprehensive women’s health care has to still be provided.”

A related issue is that some women might not go to a general practitioner — even one that introduced family planning into their practice — because they prefer going to a specialist.

“Some women prefer to go to dedicated family planning providers to get dedicated contraceptive services,” said Amanda Stevenson, a researcher at the University of Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project working on the impact of excluding Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program in Texas.

Stevenson noted a 2013 review from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy group, which found that women say they prefer going to specialists for this care because of “the respectful, confidential, affordable and high-quality care they receive from them.”

I know it’s hard for the Bob Eisenhowers of the world to believe, but according to those who have actually studied the situation, some women prefer going to dedicated family planning providers instead of their primary care physicians–assuming they have a primary care physician. But then Bob Eisenhower has probably never had to worry about his health care ever. In fact, it would not surprise me to find out that Bob was a life-long civil service employee like so many conservatives who can’t conceive of life without guaranteed health care. (At least, this is my direct experience with conservatives; their entire lifestyle–including their healthcare–has been funded on the taxpayer dime. I know some might view this as anecdotal, but apparently that is all it takes to make a definitive judgement about the entire lot of ’em.)

The other fact that Bob Eisenhower ignores is that 20 states–all of them governed by conservatives like Bob–rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, leaving an estimated 6.5 million Americans still without health insurance, and mostly without access to healthcare except in dire emergencies. It’s simple to sit back in your easy chair and pontificate about how easy it is for anyone–anyone!–to access health care whenever they need it, but that’s just not the case. And either Bob Eisenhower knows this and is being a tad deceitful, or he is woefully ignorant.

After years and years of claiming they were working on a plan to replace Obamacare–but never actually coming up with one–conservatives have finally come forth with their “plan.”

Actually, it took Donald Trump to finally articulated it. Leave it to Trump, the man who gets things done, to present a plan so concise that it embodies everything we love about the modern Republican party.

Yes, The Donald was on CNN today, where he declared, “It’s gotta go. Repeal and replace with something terrific.”

That’s the plan! Replace it with “something terrific”! It perfectly describes the Republican plan for, well, pretty much everything. No details, just an empty promise that it’ll be “something terrific.”

I can’t wait for the debate next week.

The Supreme Court affirms the right of same sex couples to marry, just like heterosexual couples. Conservatives pitch a hissy fit because they can no longer deny other people the same right that they enjoy. And for good measure, Justice Scalia once again demonstrates what an awful person he is.

The Supreme Court rejects the cynical argument that the Affordable Care Act was written in such a way as to destroy itself. The only reason this case was brought to court was to damage the Obama presidency. The plaintiffs didn’t really care about how it would affect them. As I said, cynical. But that’s conservatism in the twenty-first century.

Bristol Palin, paid abstinence spokesperson, is again pregnant out of wedlock. She doesn’t seem too happy about it, and asks that no one lecture her. If only she had taken her own advice instead of, well, spending years lecturing other people, she might find a more sympathetic audience. Instead, she’s just another conservative hypocrite.

Sarah Palin no longer has a job at Fox News. May we never hear from her again.

Donald Trump refuses to release his birth certificate. Another conservative hypocrite. Oh my God, though, the 2016 Republican presidential contest is going to be fun. Talk about a clown car! I think they all take turns driving it, though The Donald no doubt thinks he’s the only one who can possibly drive it correctly.

A black woman is arrested for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house grounds.

May was the hottest May on record; 2015 on track to be hottest year on record. But nothing to see here.

Over at B4V, Cluster–our dear friend and former blogging colleague (until he couldn’t tolerate dissenting comments about his posts and retreated to a safe haven in which his views are never challenged)–writes in the comments that he is “FUCKING tired of tired of progressives and their penchant to use every damn issue under the sun to hate on white conservatives and divide this country.” He then uses as his sole example a New York Times article titled “White Terrorism Is as Old as America.” The article’s lede?

My grandmother used to speak of Klansmen riding through Louisiana at night, how she could see their white robes shimmering in the dark, how black people hid in bayous to escape them. Before her time, during Reconstruction, Ku Klux Klan members believed they could scare superstitious black people out of their newly won freedom. They wore terrifying costumes but were not exactly hiding — many former slaves recognized bosses and neighbors under their white sheets. They were haunting in masks, a seen yet unseen terror. In addition to killing and beating black people, they often claimed to be the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers.

Yes, an article that describes the ugly history of terrorism perpetrated by white Americans–namely the Ku Klux Klan–upon Black Americans is equated by Cluster as “hating on conservatives.” Glad we got that one straight.

Did I miss anything else?

P.S. I have to say, it is a bit sad to see conservatives so unhinged that they can no longer even bring themselves to talk to people with whom they disagree. Oh, also, nothing but 107+ degree weather on Cluster’s porch for the foreseeable future. Better get the golfing in early, my friend!

As 2014 comes to an end, Republicans around the country should be rejoicing in the amazing track record of President Obama, who has accomplished the 2012 Republican presidential candidates’ agendas far faster than they themselves promised they would have!

From Steven Benen:

* The Romney Standard: Mitt Romney said during the 2012 campaign that if Americans elect him, he’d get the unemployment rate down to 6% by 2016. Obama won anyway and the unemployment rate dropped below 6% two years faster.

* The Gingrich Standard: Newt Gingrich said during the 2012 campaign that if Americans re-elected the president, gas prices would reach $10 per gallon, while Gingrich would push gas down to $2.50 a gallon. As of this morning, the national average at the pump is a little under $2.38.

* The Pawlenty Standard: Tim Pawlenty said trillions of dollars in tax breaks would boost economic growth to 5% GDP. Obama actually raised taxes on the wealthy and GDP growth reached 5% anyway.

Fantastic job, Mr. President!

Of course, sadly for Republicans, their own agenda was achieved via some, er, um, unorthodox methods (at least to them). I mean, President Obama and Congress allowed most of the Bush tax cuts to expire, and taxes even increased for the very richest among us.

Republican members of Congress spent much of the beginning of 1993 warning that raising taxes on the rich would destroy the economy.

“It will kill jobs, kill businesses, and yes, kill even the higher tax revenues that these suicidal tax increasers hope to gain,” Rep. Christopher Cox said.

And cut to the best job growth of the century — over 22 million jobs — and the first budget surplus in generations.

Of course, the nineties were an anomaly, with the end of the Cold War and the government’s decades-long investment in the internet suddenly paying off exponential returns. You can’t expect those kinds of returns again.

Cut to 2013, when President Obama’s re-election allowed most of the Bush tax breaks to expire with Republicans making similar warnings.

The result? Well, it wasn’t the best job creation of the century – yet. The 2,331,000 jobs created in 2013 was shy of 2005’s 2,506,000, which was fueled by the tens of billions of dollars the Bush Administrations flushed into defense and Homeland Security. I’d argue that 2013’s job growth could have beaten 2005 if not for Congress allowing a payroll tax to expire as the sequester went into effect. And don’t forget the how the GOP shut down the government for no discernible purpose.

In 2014, taxes again went up on those in the top percentiles to fund the Affordable Care Act. And with that money we were able to help 10 million Americans gain health insurance.

The result? According to the Labor Department, 2014 has already surpassed 2005 as the best year of job growth this century with 2,650,000 jobs projected to have been created through November.

Democratic policies that ask the rich to invest in our economy is the only way we ever created middle class jobs and it pays off for the rich.

“The U.S. economy not only grows faster, according to real GDP and other measures, during Democratic versus Republican presidencies, it also produces more jobs, lowers the unemployment rate, generates higher corporate profits and investment, and turns in higher stock market returns,” Princeton University professors Mark W. Watson and Alan Blinder have found. “Indeed, it outperforms under almost all standard macroeconomic metrics.”

Then there’s the terrible reality that the economy is growing despite the fact that millions of Americans are obtaining health care for the first time. In fact, I have conservative relatives who hate ObamaCare so much that they complain about the bureaucratic hoops they had to jump through to obtain the subsidies that allowed them to actually afford health care. The horror!

And let’s not even get started with all those “job killing” regulations that Americans are swimming in. Yes, we would all have been better off letting the Republican president slow things down in the name of ideology.

UPDATE

And let’s not forget the stock market. The Dow passed 18,000 a few days ago, which brings to mind the words of former George W. Bush adviser Michael Boskin, who on Mar. 6, 2009 penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing the Dow.” As Matt O’Brian writes in the Washington Post:

Boskin, though, didn’t think that this once-in-three-generations financial crisis was to blame for the market meltdown. Instead, he blamed it on Obama for … talking about raising taxes? “It’s hard not to see the continued sell-off on Wall Street and the growing fear on Main Street,” Boskin philosophized, “as a product, at least in part, of the realization that our new president’s policies are designed to radically re-engineer the market-based U.S. economy.” What followed was the usual conservative jeremiad against higher taxes on the rich, lower taxes on the poor, and deficit spending. Obama’s trying to turn us into Europe, and that’s why markets are pricing in the possibility of a Great Depression—not the dying economy he inherited.

Stocks bottomed on March 9, three days after the op-ed, as the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying and the Treasury’s stress tests restored confidence in the financial system. Then the stimulus started to kick in, putting enough of a floor under the economy that it began growing again that summer. It’s been a nasty, brutish, and long recovery, but unemployment is finally back under 6 percent and the economy is now growing at its fastest pace in over a decade.

Add it all up, and Obama’s radicalism has killed the Dow to the tune of a 171 percent return since Boskin’s op-ed.

Let’s Try This Again… Tweet Of The Day

Posted: October 24, 2014 by watsonthethird in Health Care, Tweet Of The Day
Tags: ,

There. That’s more like it.

Honestly, do conservatives take delight in trying to out-stupid each other? Good grief.

This just in: House Republicans are still working on a plan to replace ObamaCare. Just thought you’d want to know.

Four years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans still haven’t come up with their plan to replace it, despite unceasing opposition to the bill. Today, House Speaker John Boehner said, “You know, the discussions about Obamacare and what the replacement bill would look like continue. We’re trying to build consensus around one plan. Not there yet.”

Continue? That’s all they do: Continue to talk. (Actually, I’m pretty sure they’re not even doing that, but just saying so in order to put the best face on a group that doesn’t know what it’s doing.)

Now, I admit that this is not particularly newsworthy because he’s been saying pretty much the same thing since 2010. Are House Republicans the most incompetent lot of Congressmen we’ve ever seen? I mean, they detest ObamaCare with every fiber of their body and yet they can’t figure out what they would do in its place. Of course, two days ago Boehner said the law is “completely unworkable” and “It cannot be fixed.” Meanwhile, millions of American are, you know, using the law to get health care. Republicans just hate that. You’d really think that he’d have a ready answer for this. But he doesn’t. Because House Republicans are incapable of governing. Because the only thing they agree on is that Obama is bad. Oh, and Benghazi.

Earlier today, the wingnuts thought they had scored a victory in their battle to deny poor Americans affordable health insurance with a ruling from the DC Appeals Court. Even the mainstream news and liberal websites were using apocalyptic language to describe the ruling, but it turns out to mean just a little less than jack shit. Two Republican judges on a three-judge panel ruled that the federal government can’t provide subsidies to people who sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange. Their ruling is based on ignoring the precedent that an ambiguous law must be interpreted by looking at the legislative intent and that deference is given to the manner in which the regulatory agency interprets the law. The ruling isn’t surprising, since one of the Republican judges previously said the ACA was an “unmitigated disaster” and that premium cost have sky-rocketed. Both of these claims fly directly in the face of the facts, so we shouldn’t be shocked when this judge proves to not be an impartial trier of facts. The dissenting judge, however, plainly states what this case is all about, a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” the ACA.

So when the story broke, the wingnuts began their celebration, going so far as to call it a “deathknell” for the ACA. Reports of the ACA’s demise have been greatly exaggerated for several reasons.

First, this ruling is by a three-judge panel of the DC Appeals Court. The government will file for a hearing before the full court, which will rule in the government’s favor since it isn’t dominated by conservative ideologues wanting to take away people’s health insurance. Second, another court, the 4th Circuit Court, also ruled today on ACA subsidies and found them to be legal. Third, there is a good chance the Supreme Court will not even hear an appeal. When the full DC Circuit Court rules in the government’s favor, the score will be 2-0 against the wingnuts. The Supreme Court will not have conflicting lower court opinions to resolve and could easily choose not to hear any appeals and let the lower courts’ rulings stand. At that point it is game over for those who want to force poor people out of their health insurance.

So, as is usually the case, don’t take the headlines and initial reports at face value. They generally turn out to be wrong, and in this case, much ado about nothing.

P.S. In other news that will depress the wingnuts, an estimated 20 million people have received health insurance through the ACA.

UPDATE: In the extreme unlikelihood that this purely partisan opinion is validated by the Supreme Court in the future, there is a rather simple way to negate it. A state only has to pass a one-line bill saying that for all purposes the federal exchange is the state’s exchange.

Regardless of what the Teahadists say, the ACA is working and people are satisfied with what they’re getting; even Republicans:

Overall, 73 percent of people who bought health plans and 87 percent of those who signed up for Medicaid said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their new health insurance. Seventy-four percent of newly insured Republicans liked their plans. Even 77 percent of people who had insurance before — including members of the much-publicized group whose plans got canceled last year — were happy with their new coverage.

This is typical of the extremist Republicans. They will wail about how something is the end of the world as we know it, but when people start to actually feel the effects those people realize it’s not so bad. In most cases, it turns out pretty good. The good news for us is that there will be some of those Republicans who will wake up and realize they were being lied to by their Party leaders and reconsider if they really want to support those kinds of people in upcoming elections.