Rebooting MOMocrats Radio: Here’s MOMochat

Nov 10, 2010 by

The MOMocrats have been busy at work putting together a new project… or rather, relaunching one that was put to rest following the 2008 election: our MOMocrats Radio Show.

MOMocrats Radio 2.0 is more of a reboot than a recreation. It’s lighter… chattier… but (we hope!) just as illuminating as our first series. Plus, this one will run in a regular weekday time slot: Every Wednesday morning at 9:00 A.M. Pacific Time (12:00 for those of you on the East Coast). We’re hoping this is a time that makes sense for busy parents, like us.

Because we weren’t sure how it was going to go, we did not publicize this morning’s pilot episode — and there were plenty of glitches (mostly “technical difficulties” and inarticulate moments on my part!) However, our MOMocrat panel of Cynematic, Meghan Schuster Harvey and Melissa Schober rocked, as did our special surprise guest, Gina Cooper (founder of Netroots Nation).

We talked about everything from the impending chocolate shortage (and the environmental and fair trade issues associated with it) to new/old California Governor Jerry Brown and health care in Texas, should Governor Rick Perry make good on his threat to cease offering Medicaid to the citizens of his state.

So – vanity aside – we’ve decided to go ahead and make the pilot available to our audience, via the widget below. You can also subscribe to MOMochat as a podcast on iTunes (click on the icon on the player below).

Listen to internet radio with MOMocratson Blog Talk Radio

Stay tuned for an announcement about next week’s MOMochat show.

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MOMocrats Guest Contributor/Former West Virginian Roxane Dover: In Memory of Sen. Robert C. Byrd

Jun 28, 2010 by


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Living in Silicon Valley while penning this tribute to my late West Virginian Senator, I note that part of my appreciation for him parallels my appreciation for living here, in this land of start-ups where you can screw up and start again.  This is the land of opportunity and of momentum, of forward-thinking and of constant change.  In my view, the late Senator Byrd modeled all of those things that make Silicon Valley great.  He had some reprehensible moments in his younger life, but he asked (and found) forgiveness for it; and he modeled a commitment to the greater good that many of today’s politician’s lack.  Like me, a child of a coal miner, Senator Robert C. Byrd cared deeply about poverty in America, and his legacy of good works will be long-lasting.  Here is my humble tribute:

Growing up in West Virginia, I could be assured of two things: church on Sunday and Robert Byrd in the Senate.  First elected in 1959 when my mother was only 12, Senator Byrd was elected to his ninth term in the Senate three years ago despite his advanced age (he died at 92).  This spoke volumes about West Virginia’s commitment to the man dubbed “The King of Pork,” a term that will offend all but West Virginians.  Byrd had some despicable things in his past – I’ll write about those in a moment – but, above all, Byrd had a commitment to improving the lives of my fellow West Virginians.  He called it what it was: poverty. And he did everything in his power to make life a little less poor for West Virginians, spearheading the pouring of Congressional appropriations into the state — which, to this day, has the best roads in the nation.  Why? Highway repair and improvement creates jobs, and Senator Byrd knew that; he brought billions of dollars to West Virginia though a myriad of federal projects.  West Virginia scored the FBI fingerprinting lab among other top-dollar projects because of his hard-lobbying for our poor little state.  Bluntly, West Virginia will be set back decades without him.  It took that long, at least, for him to wield the power that he did to direct money to our state.  And frankly, Jay Rockefeller (also D-WV), the state’s other long-term Senator, doesn’t hold the same sway despite his prominent family name.  (Perhaps this is because he is not “from” West Virginia but, rather, carpet-bagged from New York.)  For a state that has little to offer other than its coal and an equally-steady export of people – for there are no jobs – harder times are ahead.
Doing the right thing for others became Senator Byrd’s most pressing concern, perhaps to offset the dark side to his life in a state that’s about 95% white; that’s where the Senator’s “albatross” (as he described it) bears mention.  He joined the Ku Klux Klan in 1942, and his date of exit remains unclear.  While he claims he left after only a year, his writings for some years afterward reflect continued allegiance; and then, in 1964, he joined with other Southern Senators to filibuster the Civil Rights Act.  He offended many when he spoke on race relations in 1991 and chose to use the term “white nigger.”  Over and over, he apologized for his early life; he claims that he regretted his affiliation with the Klan, regretted his stance against Civil Rights, and regretted his choice of words.  Put simply, he changed his mind.  How often today do we hear a leader say, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry?”  (Not often enough IMHO!)  Most seemed to believe the Senator’s contrition, and, at the end of the day, flawed as he was, his actions spoke louder than his words – and he delivered for West Virginia and for the nation. It is noteworthy that, of his 17,000+ votes in the Senate, his self-proclaimed proudest moment came in his vote against the war in Iraq.  Hailing from a state with among the highest number of veterans, that vote couldn’t have been easy to cast; his re-election despite that vote was especially poignant.  He also spoke against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Despite Senator Byrd’s work in securing so much federal money for my beloved home state, West Virginia still ranks among the poorest, has among the worst education systems, and boasts residents in among the poorest health with among the highest rates of obesity and tobacco use in the country.  West Virginia’s is a labor-driven, not a knowledge-driven, economy, with dwindling jobs and not a whole lot of hope for better beyond what Byrd brought its way.  With his death, I am left with but one question: who will care for impoverished West Virginia – and care as well for our nation — now?

Roxane Dover chronicles her family’s antics on Rox and Roll (http://www.roxandroll.com) and will soon launch Rox on a Soapbox (http://www.roxonasoapbox.com), a punditry blog that will cover political issues of pressing concern to families.

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Step Into Karoli’s HCR Complaint Department

Mar 23, 2010 by

Update: The following complaints actually come from Investors’ Business Daily, the same organization that lied to everyone back in July before the disastrous town hall meetings.

While I expect wailing and gnashing of teeth from the right wingers, I do get frustrated with it from the left side of the fence, mostly because that’s the side I sit on. I got a list of complaints tonight that reads like a list of right wing talking points, so I decided to open the complaint department for questions, answers and debunks. There were so many in one post it would take a small book to address them all, so I’ll start with the ones that seem to be causing migraines in fellow liberals.

The Mandate

You are young and don’t want health insurance? You are starting up a small business and need to minimize expenses, and one way to do that is to forego health insurance? Tough. You have to pay $750 annually for the “privilege.” (Section 1501)

Here is a fact: The only way you have universal coverage is to require everyone to have coverage. The only reason this bill isn’t universal? Republicans said undocumented workers did not have the right to purchase insurance with their own money through the exchange, and you get to opt out if you choose to pay a penalty instead.

Sorry, young ‘un, but there is no such thing as health insurance, per se. There are “risk pools”. Risk pools represent a group of people – healthy and unhealthy – who all throw money in the kitty and then take it out when they need it. Insurance companies turn a healthy profit by cherry-picking individual pools for the healthiest in the bunch and booting the rest out. That’s how you end up with stories about people getting sick and being tossed off their policies (like I was) or simply being denied altogether.

This bill, above all else, says people in this country are equal, and deserve to have equal access to affordable health insurance. To that end, the bill has been set up so the guy just setting up his business gets a 50% tax credit in 2014 to offset the cost of buying health insurance. That’s not so bad, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is this: It makes that guy’s small business competitive with the bigger business down the street that offers health insurance benefits.

What exactly was it you expected from health insurance reform? Single payer? Here’s a news flash: Single payer carries a mandate, too, and it would be substantially more than $750 per year to pay for it. For all the positives, a Medicare buy-in for older people was estimated to be around $600/month, as opposed to the $1200 or so a year that a low-income person will likely pay for family insurance.

So you say, the mandate sucks. I say, then don’t opt out. Get something for your money. Hell, the government is covering part of the cost, and there are some serious cost controls built in. The opt-out is silly. You’re betting against inevitability.

Ok, on to the next.

How risk pooling works

You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status? Tough. You’ll have to pay for premiums that cover not only you, but also the guy who smokes three packs a day, drink a gallon of whiskey and eats chicken fat off the floor. That’s because insurance companies will no longer be able to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. (Section 2701).

Boo hoo. Haven’t you been paying attention over the past year? Insurance companies would *love* to underwrite on the basis of a person’s health status. Imagine a slightly different scenario that looks like this:

You are young and healthy and want to pay for insurance that reflects that status. You pay next to nothing for your insurance. One day you come down with what seems like the flu, but it doesn’t go away. You spend the next 2 months trying to find out what is causing your weight loss, fatigue, and stomach pain. Finally, you get a diagnosis: Ulcerative colitis and emergent type I diabetes. You are 20 years old.

That’s a real scenario, my friends. That’s what happened to my son. He didn’t drink a six-pack, eat particularly badly, was athletic and active when he was hit like a ton of bricks. This is the reality: you don’t know when you might get sick, and illness is not always related to lifestyle. That beer-drinking smoker might live to be 95. The odds are not in his favor, but he might. Conversely, you, the young and the healthy, could find yourself needing a whole lot of that pooled kitty long before your time. God forbid, but it happens every day.

Memo to the young: You are no more immortal than anyone else.

What? Unlimited coverage?

You would like to pay less in premiums by buying insurance with lifetime or annual limits on coverage? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer such policies, even if that is what customers prefer. (Section 2711).

Yes. This is true. Are you willing to put a maximum price on your life? What should it be? 10 million? 1 million? 3.5 milion? Have you priced medical care lately? The whole point here is to actually NOT put a price on life, but to make sure all citizens in this country have the care they need when they need it. This is somehow a bad thing?

Aw, gee. You have to actually get value for what you pay for.

I call the next group the “I live for me and no one else” group. This is the attitude that wants to deny the reality of pooling risk by claiming blazing individualism. Sorry. Repeat after me: Health insurance is really pooled risk. Repeat it again. Then remind yourself that prevention saves money by — remember this one now — reducing overall risk.

Think you’d like a policy that is cheaper because it doesn’t cover preventive care or requires cost-sharing for such care? Tough. Health insurers will no longer be able to offer policies that do not cover preventive services or offer them with cost-sharing, even if that’s what the customer wants. (Section 2712).

News flash: Preventative care saves lives and money. It makes the risk pool carry less risk. It’s the right thing to do. It SAVES money. SAVES. Why would you want to make the costs higher?

You are an employer and you would like to offer coverage that doesn’t allow your employers’ slacker children to stay on the policy until age 26? Tough. (Section 2714).

Wow. Got kids? Mine work for a living, only I have one who is uninsurable. Those slacker kids make things cheaper for everyone as a rule. Some don’t, like one of mine. My other one does, though. The more youngers you keep in the pool, the cheaper it is for EVERYONE. Everyone. Insurance 101, friends.

Do you want a plan with lots of cost-sharing and low premiums? Well, the best you can do is a “Bronze plan,” which has benefits that provide benefits that are actuarially equivalent to 60% of the full actuarial value of the benefits provided under the plan. Anything lower than that, tough. (Section 1302 (d)(1)(A)).

That’s right, because it’s been proven over and over again that anything lower than that is worthless underfunded insurance causing people to declare bankruptcy and lose their homes when they can’t make up the difference. This fixes one of the biggest problems we have today: underinsurance.

Enough with the whining about buying stuff you don’t know you’ll need

You must buy a policy that covers ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment; prescription drugs; rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; laboratory services; preventive and wellness services; chronic disease management; and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

Um, yeah. Because you just never know when you might want to get married, have kids, and need a psychiatrist, not necessarily in that order. Are you starting to really understand insurance 101 here? You pay ahead of when you need. Easy as that. No one — not even young, invincible young people — know when fate, love, or catastrophe will strike. No one. And not one of us is immortal.

You’re a single guy without children? Tough, your policy must cover pediatric services. You’re a woman who can’t have children? Tough, your policy must cover maternity services. You’re a teetotaler? Tough, your policy must cover substance abuse treatment. (Add your own violation of personal freedom here.) (Section 1302).

See my note above. Maybe you’re not married now but you might be tomorrow. Maybe you can’t have children but you have high blood pressure. Maybe you don’t drink or do drugs, but you have a problem with obesity. We are all in this life together. We all carry risk. All.

That’s it for this edition of the Complaint Department. I’ll be back with more, I’m sure. Honestly, I’m surprised to see these complaints coming from people calling themselves liberals. It feels a little more like right wing talking points than issues liberals would have, and that’s because they ARE right-wing talking points that didn’t come from liberals. But hey…now you know a little more about insurance pools than you did yesterday, and tomorrow you’ll know even more.

Office hours are 9-5. Post your complaints and questions here, and I’ll do my best to debunk, answer or refer you to someone who can answer them.

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Sen. Kyl, Family Research Council: Flip-Floppers on Families

Sep 25, 2009 by

We all know that Republicans are pro-family, right? After all, whenever there are cameras on they’re more than willing to beat their breasts and wail loudly to anyone who will listen over the modern decline of ‘the family’, especially when they can blame progressives.

As Senator Kyl proved in today’s markup session on the Baucus health care reform proposal, all their support for families evaporates rapidly when it bumps into influence, lobbying, and a little help from the extremists over at the Family Research Council.

From today’s session, this tasty tidbit:

KYL: I don’t need maternity care, and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don’t need and will make the policy more expensive.

STABENOW: If I could just interject once with my colleague — I think your mom probably did. (LAUGHTER)

KYL: Over 60 years ago my mom did. (LAUGHTER) You notice I wasn’t too specific with regard to that.

I had to listen twice to what Sen. Kyl actually said. Here it is, so we’re clear. He said that because he is a man and doesn’t get pregnant, he doesn’t need maternity care, so requiring that to be a basic benefit in a policy will drive up costs. Of course! Because we all know that women get pregnant all by themselves and can always rely on their men to pay the costs for prenatal and delivery costs. Right?Let’s have a look at Senator Kyl’s record when it comes to families. The Family Research Council (FRC), James Dobson‘s political strongarm, gives Senator Kyl a score of 100% for “supporting the values of the American Family Association”. I’m singling out the FRC specifically, because as recently as last week, Michigan BlueDog Democrat Bart Stupak was hailed at the Values Voter Summit for blocking health care reform under Bill Clinton, and for standing as an obstacle to it once again under President Obama.

Any way you look at this, it would appear that the ultra-right wing Christian lobby is applauding discrimination against the family, which is interesting, given that as recently as Monday and Tuesday of this week, Dobson’s podcast concerned the topic of “Removing Excuses from the Bedroom“.

Forgive the cognitive disconnect. Am I REALLY hearing MEN unanimously smacking down health care reform, and specifically health care reform that benefits women? The amazing arrogance is only eclipsed by the hypocrisy. ThinkProgress expands:

Maternity care, in fact, is a perfect example of why Kyl’s amendment is so bad. Most individual health insurance markets don’t cover maternity care. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 14 stateshave a requirement for such coverage, and the number of plans without maternity coverage continues to rise dramatically. Anthem Blue Cross — which has been actively fighting health care reform — considers pregnancy optional and therefore not necessary to insure:

“The point of insurance is to insure against catastrophic care costs. That’s what you’re trying to aggregate and pool for such things as heart attacks and cancer,” said an Anthem Blue Cross spokesman. “Having a child is a matter of choice. Dealing with an adult onset illness, such as diabetes, heart disease breast or prostate cancer, is not a matter of choice.”

“A well defined minimum benefits package would compel health insurers to provide basic services to all Americans,” adds Volsky. “The Kyl amendment, which ultimately failed, would have allowed the industry tocontinue profiting from discriminatory practices.”

Earlier this week I joined the BlogHer conference call with Senator Amy Klobucharabout health care reform. At the very beginning, she laid down her reasons for being so committed to true reform: When her daughter was born, she was very sick. Yet Senator Klobuchar was summarily released from the hospital within 24 hours of birth, despite the illness of her daughter, her daughter’s need to bond with her mother despite her illness, and the danger to her own health.

This is what health care reform is all about and why it’s so necessary. Right now, women are discriminated against all the way around. Maternity benefits not covered, pregnancy considered a pre-existing condition, alongside domestic violence as another. Birth control pills not covered by prescription benefits while Viagra is considered a formulary benefit.

In the eyes of the extremists like James Dobson and his machine as spoken through the whored right wing of our Senate, women should spread ’em when called upon by their men, accept pregnancy as a ‘gift from god’, and prepare to pay whatever costs there are associated with that.

In case I forgot to mention it, Senator Kyl and his campaign committee have received…wait for it…

$1,302,608

…in campaign contributions from 2005-2010 from health professionals, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, nursing homes and the insurance industry. Over 1.3 million births a lot of babies. And bad health care policy.

Call Senator Kyl and let him know that women and families are worth more than lip service. Any reform bill cannot discriminate against women, no matter how big his payoff from the industry. Here’s his number: 202-224-4521.

While you’re at it, remind him that more than 28,000 infants under the age of 1 die each year in the United States. Remind Dobson, too. They should be aware that with prenatal care and monitoring, some of those babies wouldn’t be dead. 2/3rds of infant deaths are due to babies born early, many between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation. Yes, we ALL need maternity care to be a basic benefit.

After all, it’s for the children, but it seems that Senator Kyl and his groomers at Family Research Council are only for children when they don’t have to pay for it.

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Health care is a human right, and to quote a nice, elderly man from my hippie church “We all need to get off our asses and make sure this thing passes!”

Aug 30, 2009 by

Healthcare_theme1 It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on MOMocrats, the blog I started along with Glennia and Beth because, after 8 years of Bush “leading” our country, there was no way we were going to allow a Republican to become president.

After the election of Barack Obama, I was completely burned out. So much of my time, effort, brain space, and blogging was devoted to getting a Democrat elected that I needed a break. I just didn’t expect that it would last 9 months.

I can’t remember the last time I watched Olbermann. I don’t hit refresh on Huffington Post or Politico or factcheck.org multiple times a day like I used to. My papers stacked up so I finally canceled my subscriptions. I have been content to focus on other aspects of my life feeling as if now, our country is finally in good hands. And it mostly is.

Except that over the last month or so, as I have watched the people who are working so hard to reform our failing healthcare system and to pass HR676 having to do battle against a well-funded, lie-spreading machine, I have gotten angrier and angrier. How people like Sarah Palin are STILL being so careless with their words. Death panels and socialized medicine? And people believe it.

How members of congress who have accepted hundreds or millions of dollars in donations from insurance and pharmaceutical companies are allowed time on the floor.

How Democratic members of congress (I’m looking at you, Feinstein) can say, “I am not for a public option.”

And the guns.  Don’t even get me started on the guns.

As I sat in my beloved hippie church today, listening to our speaker, Lynn Huidekoper, one of the founders of the Single Payer Coalition, share information on this landmark healthcare decision—a reform that could finally bring the United States in line with the other 27 highly developed nations of the world—I knew that it was time. Healthcare reform was my path back to MOMocrats. I know that my sisters here have been carrying on the healthcare fight for months now, but now is the time that I need to step up and do my part.

We MOMocrats did so much good before sharing our thoughts and combating lies and getting the right person elected president, that it’s time to do it again. Healthcare needs to be our change we can believe in. If you believe that our current system is broken and that healthcare is a basic human right—that access to good healthcare is something that all people should have—then you, too, regardless of your political or religious affiliation, must take up this fight. It is only through the efforts of a very passionate and vocal grassroots effort that we are going to get HR676 passed.

So what can you do?

First, let’s counteract the lies and untruths with what Huidekoper calls, “no-brainers.” These are the simple facts that you can copy and paste and include in an email to all your family and friends, and they are:

1. Healthcare is a human right.
2. We are not starting from scratch–we are taking an existing program, Medicare, and expanding it.
3. Medicare is a single payer program for those 65 and older. (We know what it is.)
4. Single payer means expanding Medicare to cover all. (Take something we are already doing and make it cover all Americans, not just those 65 and older.)
5. 5% overhead instead of 30% (Think about how much insurance and pharamaceutical companies spend on advertising. I never saw ads for erectile dysfuction, eyelash lengtheners, overactive bladder, or hyperactive leg syndrome on TV 10 or 15 years ago.)
6. It will cost less.
7. Everyone is covered, no denials, no preexisting conditions.
8. It is NOT free.
9. Employees and Employers pay into the system. Look at your pay stub, we already know how to do it.
10. Business will be paying 4.75% payroll instead of 16%.
11. A rich benefit package will be available to all.
12. All will have long term care, vision and dental covered (individual state plans right now may not, but federal will).
13. No more bankruptcies due to health care bills.
14. It is NOT socialized medicine. Socialized medicine is where government owns the hospitals, doctors, and everything in it. There are only a handful of truly socialist medicine systems in the world and guess what?  One of them is in the United States: it’s called the VA.
15. Health care delivery remains private. Under HR676 patients continue to see private doctors in private hospitals. Government claims will be processed by private insurance companies not government agencies. See #14: It is NOT socialized medicine.
16. Total choice of health care provider. Under single payer you can go to any doctor, not just the ones in your plan. HMOs are more restrictive NOW.
17. More money will go to health care.
18. No more middle man between doctor and patient, contrary to what opponents say. The middle men are the insurance companies who currently tell doctors what tests and medications they will and will not allow.
19. Doctors will regain control of healthcare–which is why 60% of doctors support single payer.
20. No more deaths due to uninsurance or denial of care. Twenty thousand people a year die yearly because they are not insured, are under insured, or have been denied care.  That is an outrage.
21. No more obscene salaries for insurance CEOs.
22. No more inhumane waits in ERs for primary care.
23 We will join all the other industrialized nations in covering EVERYONE.

Second, you must contact your congressmember and to tell to vote yes on:

1. Anthony Weiner’s amendment to HR 3200 about single payer when it comes up for a vote on the House floor in September and
2. Dennis Kucinich’s amendment which waives ERISA requirements so that states can pursue single payer legislation.

Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your member’s office.

Third, you must call the Senate Finance Commitee Members NOW to demand a public option on their bill:

Max Bauchus D-MT (ranking member) 202-224-2651
John D. Rockefeller, IV  D-WV 202-224-6472
Kent Conrad D-ND 202-224-2043
James M. Jeffords I-VT 202-224-5141
Jeff Bingaman D-NM 202-224-5521
John F. Kerry D-MA 202-224-2742
Blanche Lambert Lincoln D-AR 202-224-4843
Ron Wyden D-OR 202-224-5244
Charles Shumer D-NY 202-224-6542

The rest of the committee is here.

Californians can also call:

Sen. Barbara Boxer 202-224-3553/415-403-0100
Sen. Dianne Feinstein 202-224-3841/415-393-0707

Fourth, look for Single Payer Healthcare Coalition meetings in your area. More information can be found at Healthcare-NOW.

Now, let’s get off our asses like the nice man at church said, and git ‘er done!

Healthcare now, for all Americans.

—Stefania Pomponi Butler

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