Saturday, January 16, 2010

Australia: Health bureaucrats send police after a "disobedient" pregnant mother

A rough public hospital adds insult to injury. The same hospital killed a pregnant mother a couple of years ago. Their attitudes have obviously not changed

A HOSPITAL that wants a mother to have her baby induced sent police to her home after she failed to keep an appointment yesterday. Rochelle Allan, who is reluctant to be induced even though her baby is 12 days overdue, was told by the hospital they intended to go ahead with the procedure when she came in.

But after speaking to her midwife following a visit to the hospital the day before, and being assured her baby was fine, she decided not to attend the hospital the next day.

Now Ms Allan is furious after the two police officers arrived on her doorstep after they were called by Bathurst Hospital. Wanting a home birth, Ms Allan, 24, has been under the care of a private midwife and had been attending the hospital daily to monitor the baby's health. "I couldn't believe it when I saw the police officers at my door," Ms Allan said. "They told me they had been asked by the hospital to check on my welfare because I had not attended. "The hospital knew I did not want to be induced and they gave me no medical reason why I should be." Throughout her pregnancy, Ms Allan and her partner Daniel Jones have been regularly attending the hospital's antenatal clinic for mandatory tests and scans to monitor the baby's progress.

A hospital spokeswoman confirmed police were sent to Ms Allan's house to conduct a "welfare check". The spokeswoman said doctors were worried about the mother as she had previously complied with all appointments.

Ms Allan said that she had decided on having a home birth after a "horrific experience" at the same hospital two years ago when their son Bailey was born. "I was induced and I spent 48 hours in labour," she said. "I don't want to go through with that again."

Ms Allan is not against medical intervention and said she would not hesitate to deliver at the hospital if her baby's life was threatened. "If they had told me that my baby was in danger then I would have the baby in hospital," she said. "But they could give me no reason and all the tests show that there are no problems." By late yesterday, Ms Allan had started labour at home and was in the care of her midwife.

The incident comes as the debate over the safety of homebirths continues, with the Federal Government under pressure to change the law to allow midwives insurance if they attend a home birth. Homebirths Australia secretary Justine Caines said the case demonstrated how women "are too often treated during pregnancy and birth very poorly".

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Ted Weaver said women were usually induced 14 days after their due date. "If the mum did not want to be induced after 14 days then you would conduct extra tests," he said. "The reason people get worried about going overdue is because there's a slight chance that the baby could die suddenly in utero for no reason."


Congress Should Say "No" Now to the Health Care Penalty Tax

Emerging from his closed door, backroom meetings with top union bosses, Barack Obama has come up with his most unique proposal yet for providing what he terms "quality health care": impose sky-high tax penalties on those who need and use health care most. And then force non-union workers to foot the bill for his new Health Care Tax Penalty.

Specifically, the new Obama proposal calls for adopting a Senate plan that would force insurance companies to pay a 40 percent excise tax on all policies above the limits of $8,500 for an individual and $23,000 for a family plan -- knowing all the while that the massive increase would be passed on to already strapped health insurance customers.

While its proponents call the proposal a "Cadillac Tax," the Congressional Budget Office has revealed that the massive cost increase will hit one in five Americans within the next three years. Within six years, it would reach a fifth of all households earning as little as $50,000 annually. And it would hit especially hard the elderly and chronically ill, whose insurance premiums often already top the Administration’s proposed taxable limits.

To make matters worse, the Obama White House and the bill’s supporters in the Senate and House make it clear that one of the primary reasons for the new Health Care Tax Penalty is to force Americans to seek less health care. As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes, “Proponents see this as a terrific way to hold down health care costs. If policyholders have to pay more out of their own pockets, they will be more careful — that is to say, more reluctant — to access health services.”

He then adds ominously, “On the other hand, people with very serious illnesses will be saddled with much higher out-of-pocket costs. And a reluctance to seek treatment for something that might seem relatively minor at first could well have terrible (and terribly expensive) consequences in the long run.”

Little wonder that AFL-CIO union health care lobbying chief Gerald Shea has observed, “People are going to see this as a huge middle-class tax hit.” And that is why his Big Labor bosses have reached a backroom deal with Barack Obama to have the nation’s 8 percent of union workers exempted from the staggering fees the remaining 92 percent of workers will be forced to pay.

Unless the members of the Senate and House – especially those from Right to Work states – block the Obama-union deal, the Health Care Tax Penalty will become law. And Barack Obama will have paid back the union bosses for the tens of millions of dollars (including $67 million from SEIU boss Andy Stern alone) in union campaign contributions he received in 2008.

Middle-class Americans should not be penalized with higher taxes and rising premiums for seeking quality health care. Independent workers should not be punished for choosing to remain free of union restrictions in merit shops. And Barack Obama should not pay off his debts to union bosses by selling out the American people in tawdry, backroom deals.

The Health Care Tax Penalty (“Cadillac Tax”) should be removed from the Obama health care bill before the measure is given any further consideration. And no one, union or non-union alike, should be forced by Washington to pay higher insurance premiums for lower quality care.


Another Special Interest Gets Sweetheart Deal in Health Care Bill

After a long-week of negotiations, unions have won an exemption from the excise tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health insurance plans. The excise tax would fall on health insurance plans that cost more than $8,500 for individuals and $23,00 for families (the union deal reportedly slightly increases these thresholds) starting in 2013. It is one of the many tax hikes proposed by Congress to partially offset the cost of its take over of the health care system.

Under the terms of the deal cut between Congressional negotiators, union leadership and the White House, union members would not have to pay the tax until 2018 – although this could be extended in the future and further delay union members from paying the tax. This latest deal for a special interest further demonstrates that the push for health care reform has always been about politics – not the best policy for the American people.

If it had been about setting the right policy, Congress would have capped the unlimited income tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. A cap would have been the right decision from both a health care and tax policy perspective, but President Obama assailed it during the campaign. The excise tax is an inferior, roundabout way of capping the exclusion without explicitly doing so.

Excluding union members from the excise tax is grossly unfair for non-union workers left paying it. For instance, two workers at the same company, one in the union and one not, that have identical health insurance plans would end up paying significantly different amounts of tax. The tax is 40 percent on the value of health plans in excess of the levels described above. The union worker would not pay this hefty tax, but the non-unionized worker would. There is no policy justification for exempting the union worker. They would get the exemption because they have powerful representation in Washington. Non-unionized workers would pay it because they don’t.

The tax code is already monstrously complex and the union carve-out from the tax will only make it worse. Tax authorities, taxpayers and employers will need to determine which workers are subject to the tax and which get a free pass based on union membership. They will also have to strip out the portions of the plans that cover dental and vision benefits since the new deal exempts them from the tax. This will add a new set of complicated paperwork for everyone to deal with.

Their exclusion from the tax means that Congress will need to find additional revenue to replace the revenue the tax would have raise had it applied to union members. This most likely means a further increase of the payroll tax, and applying it to investment income for the first time, for taxpayers earning more than $250,000 a year. This tax increase will hurt those that earn much less by lowering investment. Lower investment will mean businesses will create fewer jobs and wages will be lower for workers.

The backroom deal to exempt unions from the excise tax is a bad deal for any taxpayer that is not in a union. And not only will union members not have to pay the tax, but unions will get an extra benefit because they will have a new selling point to pitch potential members and help swell their ranks: join the union – get a tax cut.

This latest backroom, sweetheart deal for a special interest should anger all taxpayers. Even if they aren’t impacted by this particular deal, unless they have powerful friends at the negotiating table, they could be on the chopping block next. Business as usual in Washington.


Pelosi: Health care reform bill will be posted online for 72 hours before vote for review

In this Jan. 6, 2010, file photo House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seen with House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., left, and House Education and Labor Chairman Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., right, speaks to media outside the West Wing of the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that the final health care bill will be posted online for the public to view for 72 hours before the chamber votes on it.

The move comes after Senate and House Democratic leaders have been criticized for not allowing the media and television to view their intense negotiations to produce a final bill.

Democrats have been huddled for days behind closed doors both in Congress and at the White House, with sporadic press conferences and press releases intended to make the talks appear more open, although no real details have been disclosed.

"The House Democratic Leadership is committed to having the final health insurance reform legislation online for 72 hours before the House votes, for all Members and the American people to review," Pelosi said in a statement released jointly with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "We will continue the transparent process this landmark legislation has had for months."

No word yet from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on whether he plans to follow the House on the 72-house public viewing.


Governors Blast Health Care Debacle

With the immoral and intrusive Obama health care plan on the verge of passing both houses of the U.S. Congress, twenty Republican governors and governors-elect sent a letter to the House and Senate leaders urging them to pass “meaningful health care reform, not hastily prepared partisan legislation which omits reform and saddles American taxpayers for generations to come.”

“Governors of both parties have said for months how bad this bill is for the states and our nation,” said Republican Governors Association chairman Haley Barbour. ”Now is the time for leaders in Congress to finally listen and restart this process so they can get health care reform right.”

The RGA blasted the lack of transparency in the legislative process and called the current health care bills “a lost opportunity to improve the lives of Americans, create a sustainable system of health care and help stabilize both our state and national economies.”

The governors assert that the House and Senate bills fail to fix the broken Medicaid and Medicare systems and instead entitle 15-20 million more people to Medicaid. The net result of this expansion “will be a significant cost shift to those privately insured around the country” and will further damage already hurting state budgets.

The RGA also criticized the inflexibility forced upon states in the current bills. The governors write that the current proposals would eliminate the ability of states to negotiate Medicaid-provider rates and force the states into a one-size-fits-all, federally-designed health insurance exchange.

While the mainstream news media continue to hype President Barack Obama’s health care aspirations in the midst of a dismal, economic picture in the United States, more and more states are debating the prospect of declaring sovereignty.

According to political experts such as strategist Mike Baker, Americans are becoming disenchanted with the federal government’s lack of perspective on issues of great concern — especially health care — while intruding into the private lives of citizens with federal laws and other intrusions.

“Many [citizens] are angry at federal government intrusion into their lives and into matters that were intended by our Founding Fathers to be relegated to the individual states,” said Baker.

“Take, for instance, the police power. Since the beginning of our republic, police and law enforcement was considered a function of each state in the union. Now we have federal law enforcement agencies who are taking away police powers from states. Why does an agency -- the ATF -- created to oversee issues related to alcohol, tobacco and firearms need to have SWAT teams?” asks the conservative political strategist.

Not only does the US Constitution provide for the sovereignty, the US Supreme Court also ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states.

In Washington State, House and Senate bill HJM-4009 declares:

“The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States specifically provides that, [T]he powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people; and the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being those powers specifically granted to it by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and… [F]ederalism is the constitutional division of powers between the national and state governments and is widely regarded as one of America’s most valuable contributions to political science….”

In the Northeast, long considered a bastion of liberal politics, New Hampshire has joined the fray. HCR-6 is a resolution “affirming States’ rights based on Jeffersonian principles.”

The bill states: “[T]he Constitution of the State of New Hampshire… declares that the people of this State have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right, pertaining thereto, which is not, or may not hereafter be, by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in congress assembled; and… the Constitution of the State… declares that the people inhabiting the territory formerly called the province of New Hampshire, do hereby solemnly and mutually agree with each other, to form themselves into a free, sovereign and independent body-politic, or State, by the name of The State of New Hampshire….”

The government health care threat posed by the Democrat Party's deceptive and destructive legislation and tactics may well be the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Hopefully, it will lead to a return to Reagan conservative principles that have all but been abandoned by the Grand Old Party.


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