Monday, July 20, 2009

ALG Calls for End to Congressional Exemption from Obama Health Care

Americans for Limited Government president, Bill Wilson, today called upon members of the House of Representatives to adopt a resolution (H. Res. 615) stating that "Members who vote in favor of the establishment of a public, Federal Government run health insurance option are urged to forgo their right to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) and agree to enroll under that public option."

The measure is sponsored by Congressman John Fleming and currently has 42 cosponsors. On his website, Fleming writes, "Under the current draft of the Democrat healthcare legislation, members of Congress are curiously exempt from the government-run health care option, keeping their existing health plans and services on Capitol Hill. If Members of Congress believe so strongly that government-run health care is the best solution for hard working American families, I think it only fitting that Americans see them lead the way."

"What's good for the goose is good for the gander," said ALG's Wilson. "If members of the House are expecting everyone to be a part of this government-run system, then they should be taken off the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan and put on to this so-called public 'option' since they like it so much."

Currently, members of the House and Senate are covered by a health care plan offering a wide variety of options, including private coverage, according to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan website, "Federal employees, retirees and their survivors enjoy the widest selection of health plans in the country."

As participants, members of Congress can choose from "Consumer-Driven and High Deductible plans that offer catastrophic risk protection with higher deductibles, health savings/reimbursable accounts and lower premiums, or Fee-for-Service (FFS) plans, and their Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) if you live (or sometimes if you work) within the area serviced by the plan."

"It's time for Washington to stop acting like an aristocracy, where Congress treats itself to luxuries and forces everybody else into convoluted, inefficient, and low-quality so-called 'options,'" said Wilson.

"Members of Congress know that the system they are proposing will be much, much worse than the health options they currently have," Wilson added. "What they need to acknowledge is that it will also be much, much worse than the options the American people currently have."

Wilson also called upon the House Committees on Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce to adopt a binding measure that would require all members of Congress to enroll in the government-run health insurance option if lawmakers adopt one.

A similar provision, proposed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), has already been adopted in the Senate version of the bill. In order for it to be included in the House version, the "three-in-one" committee currently considering the legislation needs to add it in.

The Coburn amendment passed by a vote of 12-11 in committee with Senators Chris Dodd (D-Conn) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) voting with Senators John McCain (R-Ariz), Orrin G Hatch (R-Utah), Richard Burr (R-NC), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), Tom Coburn (R-Okla), Pat Roberts (R-Kan), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo) in favor.

In committee, Senator Coburn said, "Let's demonstrate leadership—and confidence in the system—by requiring that every member of Congress go into it." 11 Democratic members voted no, including Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who said, "I don't know why we should require ourselves to participate in a plan that no one else needs to participate in."

"Senator Bingaman is still sticking to the big lie that the public 'option' will at all be optional," said Wilson. "The unfortunate impact of this government-run health care proposal will be to crowd out private options, leaving Americans in the end with no other option but to use the Orwellian, abominable, government-run plan that will burden taxpayers with an insurmountable level of debt. This will be the largest government entitlement in human history, and it will break the public treasury," Wilson concluded.

The above is a press release from Americans for Limited Government. Contact Alex Rosenwald at (703)383-0880 or at for further information


Congressional plans to fund a massive health-care overhaul could have a job-killing effect on New York, creating a tax rate of nearly 60 percent for the state's top earners and possibly pressuring small-business owners to shed workers. New York's top income bracket could reach as high as 57 percent -- rates not seen in three decades -- to pay for the massive health coverage proposed by House Democrats this week.

The top rate in New York City, home to many of the state's wealthiest people, would be 58.68 percent, the Washington-based Tax Foundation said in a report yesterday. That means New York's top earners, small-business owners and most dynamic entrepreneurs will be facing new fees and penalties. The $544 billion tax hike would violate one of President Obama's ironclad campaign promises: No family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s.

Under the bill, three new tax brackets would be created for high earners, with a top rate of 45 percent for families making more than $1 million. That would be the highest income-tax rate since 1986, when the top rate was 50 percent. The legislation is especially onerous for business owners, in part because it penalizes employers with a payroll bigger than $400,000 some 8 percent of wages if they don't offer health care. But the cost of the buy-in to the program may be so prohibitive that it will dissuade owners from growing their businesses -- a scary prospect in the midst of a recession.

Obama took to the airwaves yesterday with ads and TV interviews promoting the need to reform health care. As a Senate health committee passed a different version of a health-care reform bill - a milestone for the issue - Obama said on NBC, "The American people have to realize that there's no such thing as a free lunch." And in a Rose Garden speech, he said the "status quo" on health care is "threatening the financial stability of families, of businesses, and of government. It's unsustainable, and it has to change."

Asked if Obama supports the surtax on wealthiest Americans even though it would break a campaign pledge, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said only, "It's a process that we're watching."

Republicans in Washington and small-business defenders in New York said the House legislation would effectively place a stranglehold on businesses while running off top earners. "Placing a big tax burden on the small-business community would rob them of the resources they need to create the jobs that will lead us out of the recession," said Tom Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce. "If there's one sure way to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, this is it."

Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist for small stores and businesses in New York City, warned that "in the middle of a recession, it's a very strange way to legislate." "According to what we've read, the House health-insurance plan would have a job-crippling impact on neighborhood stores and other small businesses because they put mandates on these businesses that would prevent them from hiring people because of the cost of the plan," Lipsky said.

Under the House plan, businesses with payrolls of $400,000 or more would pay an 8 percent penalty for uninsured workers, while companies with payrolls between $250,000 and $400,000 would pay slightly smaller penalties. Adding to this burden, said Michael Moran of the State Business Council of New York, is that New York is already a high-tax state. "Any additional taxes make New York even less competitive," he said. New York would become the third-most-hostile place for top earners to live under the proposed new surtaxes supported by House Democrats and championed by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).

Also hit would be individuals earning $280,000 annually and families making $350,000 a year. The profits from small businesses would also be taxed on the back end. Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, an umbrella organization representing the city's major businesses, said that the estimated top marginal tax rate of 57 percent for New York actually underestimates the potential impact on businesses. That's because it doesn't include the city's burdensome unincorporated-business tax, which snares many entrepreneurs. "It could be between 62 and 63 percent," she said.

If the House plan passes, Wylde said, "There literally, at this point, is very strong reason to relocate your family and your business outside New York." A lot of small businesses would be hit with the penalties for not insuring workers and get hit with the surtaxes, Moran warned. "Many small businesses file their business taxes under personal income," he said. "That's the way the tax law is written. Small business, which is really where most of the job creation takes place, could be hit hard.

According to the city's Department for Small Business Services, there are some 220,000 small businesses in the five boroughs. The agency does not keep track of how many offer health insurance. "It's something that's going to kill jobs. That's the result," said Stephanie Cathcart, spokeswoman for the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Among the most egregious provisions of the House proposal, she said, is a requirement that businesses pay the cost of 72.4 percent of individual health plans and 65 percent of family plans. Those that don't hit the mark would face the payroll tax penalty.


NHS heart treatment ‘among worst in West

TREATMENT for heart disease in Britain is worse than almost anywhere else in the western world, despite pledges by Labour to improve services. A new study reveals that fewer NHS patients have access to defibrillators, pacemakers and heart surgery than in most neighbouring nations. In some parts of Britain, such as the northwest, up to a third of patients are failing to receive life-saving operations.

Doctors are demanding a public debate on how to tackle the growing pressure on heart services. One in three people in Britain are destined to suffer from heart disease.

The study, Access to Cardiac Care, has been commissioned by the British Heart Foundation, the British Cardiovascular Society and a coalition of 41 charities and voluntary groups. The report predicts that demand for heart treatment will double by 2020, yet there is no clear indication that funds will be available to pay for it.

The forecast is in stark contrast to the ambition shown 10 years ago by Alan Milburn, then the health secretary, when heart disease claimed 140,000 lives annually. In a newspaper article at the time, Milburn said: “Tackling heart disease is one of the keys not only to a healthier nation but to a fairer nation.” However, the number dying from heart disease has since increased to 198,000, with one in three victims under 75.

The study, carried out by Oxford Healthcare Associates, showed startling regional variations in cardiac services, with “overprovision” of treatment in affluent cities and the shires.

Roger Boyle, the heart czar, said heart operations had increased by 59% since 2000 and that deaths from cardiovascular disease had fallen by 44% in the past decade.


Australian public hospital clown caused fatal catastrophic bleeding, court told

There was blood everywhere in theatre and what did the clown prescribe? Blood THINNERS -- thus worsening the bleeding. He was already under scrutiny for incompetence but they didn't act soon enough to stop him. I blogged on this back in 2006. I am glad he is finally facing the music. There is a picture of him below, sitting up like Jackie, quite proud of himself

A Brisbane doctor has faced court accused of killing one of his patients when he allegedly improperly inserted a surgical drain which later caused extensive blood loss and multiple organ failure. Mother of two Nadia Annette Cvitic was 30-years-old when she died in 2002 following a radical hysterectomy performed by Dr Bruce Gordon Ward, a specialist in gynaecology oncology.

Mrs Cvitic underwent the surgery due to cervical cancer on February 11 but died in Brisbane's Mater Hospital on February 21. The cause of her death was determined as multiple organ failure caused by inadequate blood flow to vital organs as a consequence of blood loss.

On the first day of a trial in the Queensland Supreme Court in Brisbane, Dr Ward pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. Crown prosecutor David Meredith, in his opening to the jury, said Dr Ward was accused of criminal negligence when he operated on Mrs Cvitic and when he failed to take competent post-operative care of her.

Mr Meredith said post-surgery, on 14 February, a surgical drain which had been inserted into Mrs Cvitic's pelvic area was removed and this caused "catastrophic bleeding." This happened because it had been inserted in such a way that the drain's exit point damaged a vein and blood vessels at the top of her leg, he said. "The prosecution says it was dangerous for the life and health of the patient to finish an operation with a drain in that manner," he said.

Using a medical mannequin and several tubes, Mr Meredith demonstrated how and where the drain was inserted into Mrs Cvitic. Mr Meredith said another element of Dr Ward's negligence was that he did not order blood tests which would have revealed a drop in haemoglobin levels which may have alerted medical staff there was internal bleeding. "No such tests were done," he said.

The trial is set to continue for eight weeks with dozens of medical staff to be called to give evidence. Three reserve jurors have been empanelled in the case, which is being heard by Justice Henry Fryberg.


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