from June/July 2009.
- John Syrett Lobster Bake announced for Sunday, August 16th. Sign up as a sponsor by July 22 to get your name included in the written materials for our annual fundraiser honoring an old friend. Details here... and sign up for sponsorship or tickets here (courtesy of ActBlue).
- Our next KCDC meeting is Tuesday, August 11, at Stella Maris House in Rockland. Potluck supper at 6:00 p.m., business meeting 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The agenda is here.
- Card Check dies in Senate. NYTimes 07/17 reported that key senators dropped support for the "card check" provision of the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560).
- Why you didn't want Congress to own the auto companies. House Votes to Prevent Closing of Auto Dealers (NYTimes 07/17).
Sarah Palin hasn't graced our site in a while. Click the image to enjoy this Ann Telnaes animation (WashPost 07/28).
- More required reading on Health Care, recommended by our own Stu Thro. Paul Krugman writes of An Incoherent Truth (NYTimes 07/27), where conservative Democrats (our guys!), the so-called Blue Dogs,
...face their moment of truth. For they can't extract major concessions on the shape of health care reform without dooming the whole project: knock away any of the four main pillars of reform, and the whole thing will collapse...
As long as you're reading Krugman, see this note in his blog and you'll be better equipped to argue with your Republican friends who see the market as a cure for all ills (ha!).
If my head explodes from trying to understand this health care stuff, does my insurance cover it? (Heard on Michael Feldman's Whad'ya Know, MPR 07/25.)
- David Brooks is the adult commentator in the conservative camp. His warning on a Liberal Suicide March (NYTimes 07/21/09) is required reading:
It was interesting to watch the Republican Party lose touch with America.
...It's not that interesting to watch the Democrats lose touch with America. That’s because the plotline is exactly the same. The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts, who neither understand nor sympathize with moderates.
... Approval of Obama’s handling of health care, for example, has slid from 57 percent to 49 percent since April. Disapproval has risen from 29 percent to 44 percent. As recently as June, voters earning more than $50,000 preferred Obama to the Republicans on health care by a 21-point margin. Now those voters are evenly split.
Most independents now disapprove of Obama’s health care strategy. In March, only 32 percent of Americans thought Obama was an old-style, tax-and-spend liberal. Now 43 percent do.
- KCDC Officer Resignations: At the July meeting, Mary Forristall (Chair) and Richard Ogle (Treasurer) announced their resignations due to the demands of their businesses. A nominating committee (Hugh Magbie, Kathie Johnson and Bonnie Post) has begun the search for their replacements. Mary's letter to the membership is here. Thank you Mary and Richard for your dedication and service in what are often difficult and thankless jobs.
Portland Healthcare Rally. Saturday, 18 July, 1:00 p.m. Free bus from Rockland at 9:00 am.m. Details on our Calendar.
- QALY? What's that? To find out, you'll have to read the Peter Singer piece in the NYTimes Magazine (07/15). In addition to wrestling universal health care's ethical issues, the article includes interesting stuff like:
...The extension of Medicare [to everyone] could be financed by a small income-tax levy, for those who pay income tax — in Australia the levy is 1.5 percent of taxable income. (There's an extra 1 percent surcharge for those with high incomes and no private insurance. Those who earn too little to pay income tax would be carried at no cost to themselves.) Those who want to be sure of receiving every treatment that their own privately chosen physicians recommend, regardless of cost, would be free to opt out of Medicare for All as long as they can demonstrate that they have sufficient private health insurance to avoid becoming a burden on the community if they fall ill...,
On a blog on Fox News earlier this year, the conservative writer John Lott wrote, "Americans should ask Canadians and Brits — people who have long suffered from rationing — how happy they are with central government decisions on eliminating 'unnecessary' health care."
... as it happens, last year the Gallup organization did ask Canadians and Brits, and people in many different countries, if they have confidence in 'health care or medical systems' in their country. In Canada, 73 percent answered this question affirmatively. Coincidentally, an identical percentage of Britons gave the same answer. In the United States, despite spending much more, per person, on health care, the figure was only 56 percent.
- Health care: Antibiotics.
The Obama administration announced Monday that it would seek to ban many routine uses of antibiotics in farm animals in hopes of reducing the spread of dangerous bacteria in humans...
More on this from the NYTimes (07/13). The article goes on to say that defeat of the bill by the pork producers' lobby is likely, but at least this important issue is getting much-needed Congressional air.
- Ethics Inside Washington: The Bill Moyers article on the Washington Post's recently busted Insider Get-Togethers begins:
...Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of The Washington Post -- one of the most powerful people in DC -- invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the story.
But CEO's and lobbyists from the health care industry were invited, too, provided they forked over $25,000 a head -- or up to a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy get-togethers. And what is the inducement offered? Nothing less, the invitation read, than 'an exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will get it done'...
Follow this link to read the whole article.
Our July KCDC meeting was Tuesday, 14 July, at the Rockland Public Library, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The meeting agenda is here.
Lots of fun at the Thomaston 4th! Parade, Viking ship, Vikings, politcal booth, food booth, dough boys and more! Click the pic of Chellie and Ed to see the gallery. (Add your pictures by emailing the webmaster.)
July 4th Thomaston Parade:
Please join us for a parade of Democrats, including Chellie Pingree!
We have a great "float" which is a Viking boat replica (complete with oars) mounted on a trailer and pulled by a truck. The theme of the parade is "the town that went to sea." So thanks to our loan friend we are well on our way to maybe even winning the contest.
We will push "moving forward together" as our theme in support of President Obama. Walk for health, just to name a few.
You can walk or ride if desired. Bring kids, family, friends--the more the merrier. WE always have fun.
Please join us for a fun way to show our support for OUR President. Altho it is not a campaign year, it's still very important to rally together to display our pride.
Parade starts at 11:00 and will take an hour, but you need to be in parking lot behind Georges Valley HS by 9:30 due to traffic. Call Amy Fischer (236-0616) with any questions.
Equality Knox is gearing up for the Equality Maine Marriage Campaign. Greg Lawrence, our Knox County Organizer, is asking for volunteers:
Our calendar has the dates of several events.
Equality Knox is an all-volunteer organization in association with Equality Maine's current marriage campaign. The organization is looking for volunteers for several actions in Knox County. If interested in volunteering, please contact Greg Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or (207)596-0036 ext 5; Rick at (207)347-9709 or Lucie at 236-4734.
Our June KCDC meeting was Tuesday, 9 June, at the Rockland Public Library.
The meeting featured a series of presentations on heath care reform (agenda and speakers here), but there was no time for questions or discussion among the attendees.
Sue Fisher, a single-payer advocate, outlined our current situation and provided the statistics. PDF handout here.
- Current health care costs over $7,000 per person.
- 50 million people under-insured, in addition to the 46 million uninsured.
- 30% administrative overhead by health insurance companies.
Marianne von Norbeck, a labor union representative, discussed the messy political details and timeline for pushing health care through congress this year.
- Three House committees to vote out bills by July 31.
- Two Senate committees to vote out bills by August 8.
- Reconciliation bill to the President by October 15.
- Our Senator Snowe wanting to kick the can down the road with a 7-year "trigger plan."
Dr. Phil Caper was an aid to Senator Ted Kennedy in 1971 when Richard Nixon's national health care plan failed. Dr. Caper, an advocate for single-payer health care, made the following points:
- As a nation, we have no agreement on the idea of a universal right to health care.
- Insurance companies are financial service companies, not health care providers.
- Currently, health care providers are money-driven, not mission-driven.
- To move to a mission-driven health care system, we must move away from paying providers on a fee-for-service basis.
- We can't get it done in an election year.
Dr. Caper cited the recent must-read New Yorker article by Atul Gawande illustrating how a money-driven culture drives up costs without improving outcomes.
Dr. Caper provided several PDF handouts: Briefing paper, Commission Report, and a palm card.
Julian Federle, a spokesman for the Obama administration, offered some remarks as the meeting closed, together with these links:
(01/18/14 note: the originally cited page, http://www.healthreform.gov, has been replaced by https://www.healthcare.gov/) and http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/health-care-action-center/?source=feature#story
More on health care reform:
Internist Geoff Berg reinforces Dr. Caper's remarks in a letter to the NYTimes (06/09). He summarizes this cost issue succinctly,
...The problem with fee-for-service is not merely that it pays providers to provide service; it pays them to create service as well [our emphasis]. It is this almost limitless ability of doctors to create service that makes our per capita health care costs twice that of any other developed country...
If you're optimistic about the chances for serious health care reform in this session of Congress, get your feet back on the ground. Read David Broder's Washington Post column (06/07) on the political realities, and consider that the AMA has come out against Obama's Public Insurance option NYTimes 06/10.