U.S. Set to Sponsor Health Insurance
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will soon take on a new role as the sponsor of at least two nationwide health insurance plans to be operated under contract with the federal government and offered to consumers in every state.
These multistate plans were included in President Obama’s health care law as a substitute for a pure government-run health insurance program — the public option sought by many liberal Democrats and reviled by Republicans. Supporters of the national plans say they will increase competition in state health insurance markets, many of which are dominated by a handful of companies.
The national plans will compete directly with other private insurers and may have some significant advantages, including a federal seal of approval. Premiums and benefits for the multistate insurance plans will be negotiated by the United States Office of Personnel Management, the agency that arranges health benefits for federal employees.
Walton J. Francis, the author of a consumer guide to health plans for federal employees, said the personnel agency had been “extraordinarily successful” in managing that program, which has more than 200 health plans, including about 20 offered nationwide. The personnel agency has earned high marks for its ability to secure good terms for federal workers through negotiation rather than heavy-handed regulation of insurers.
John J. O’Brien, the director of health care and insurance at the agency, said the new plans would be offered to individuals and small employers through the insurance exchanges being set up in every state under the 2010 health care law.
NEW YORK, Sept 10 (Reuters) – The 70,000 surviving firefighters, police officers and other first responders who raced to the World Trade Center after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 will be entitled to free monitoring and treatment for some 50 forms of cancer.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health announced on Monday that responders as well as survivors exposed to toxic compounds from the wreckage, which smoldered for three months, will be covered for cancer under the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.
The act, which also covers responders and survivors of the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon outside Washington, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Jan. 2, 2011.
The decision addresses concerns over the rising health toll for emergency workers in the wake of the attacks, when aircraft slammed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York and the U.S. military command center in northern Virginia.
It “marks an important step in the effort to provide needed treatment and care to 9/11 responders and survivors,” said Dr. John Howard, administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program established by the Zadroga law. …
Illnesses related to the Sept. 11 attacks have caused an estimated 1,000 deaths. Last week, the New York City Fire Department etched nine more names into a memorial wall honoring firefighters who died from illnesses after their work at Ground Zero, bringing the total to 64.
Does Conservatism Have to Be Synonymous With Ignorance? …
But it is Mr. Santorum whose vehement opposition involves not only emerging reproductive technology but also almost any form of medical intervention in reproduction, positive or negative. It would be tempting to chalk up Mr. Santorum’s medieval views to a devout Catholic fundamentalism, but that is unfair to Catholicism. Mr. Santorum instead represents the very epitome of many among the modern breed of conservative Republicans: Ignorant and proud of it.
Mr. Santorum has steadfastly maintained throughout his career an almost perfect record of opposing the well-known evidence of empirical reality. When he was a political footnote this fact was at best amusing. Now that he has managed to win so many primaries, the more general question of why Republicans are so willing to take a giant step backward in the face of modern science to support such ignorance is of more concern. …
More recently, however, his divergence from reality has expanded to include the claim that all forms of contraception are unhealthy. In doing so, he made no comment on either the strain on women’s bodies of repeated childbirth, much less the effects on the mental health of both mother and child. Perhaps most important, in the context of global considerations of the future, he ignored the deleterious effects of our ever-increasing world population on the health of the planet.
If that were not enough, he next spoke out against pre-natal medical care, one of the most important recent modern medical advances to help ensure the birth of healthy and fully functioning infants, as promoting abortion rather than the health of mother and child. He managed to follow that up with the remarkable oxymoronic claim that birth control actually produces more abortions. …
Choosing to censor or distort knowledge rather than risk the possibility that such knowledge, or the technologies that result from it, might challenge faith or confront preexisting ideological biases is a something that should better characterize the Taliban or al Qaeda rather than the Republican Party.
Lawrence M. Krauss on Huffington Post
Oddly and sadly suited to these times.
In yesterday’s New York Times:
Centrist Women Tell of Disenchantment With G.O.P. …
But somewhere between the baby name game and the gifts, what had been light conversation took a sharp turn toward the personal and political — specifically, the battle over access to birth control and other women’s health issues that have sprung to life on the Republican campaign trail in recent weeks.
“We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago,” said Ms. Russell, 57, a retired teacher from Iowa City who describes herself as an evangelical Christian and “old school” Republican of the moderate mold. Until the baby shower, just two weeks ago, she had favored Mitt Romney for president.
Not anymore. She said she might vote for President Obama now. “I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations,” Ms. Russell said. As for the Republican presidential candidates, she added: “If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.” …
“I’m looking for a candidate that will be honest, that will come out and say, ‘Yes, I support women, I want you advanced and not trampled upon,’ ” said Ms. Stevens, 63, who lives near Myrtle Beach, S.C. “I want answers desperately. I want candidates to tell me, ‘I’m not overturning Roe v. Wade.’ It’s there. Leave it there.”
Ms. Russell, who changed her political views at the baby shower, said she was impressed with how Mr. Obama handled his administration’s compromise over the much-debated birth control policy, saying, “I think he’s more of a women’s candidate.”
Mr. Romney’s reaction to Mr. Limbaugh’s statements about the Georgetown student cemented a negative view of him. “I expected him to have the guts to stand up and say what Rush did was wrong,” she said. “Wrong, wrong, wrong in every sense of the word wrong.”
Over the weekend, Sen. Lisa Murkowski learned the hard way not to get between women and birth control.
Back from Washington, D.C., for the start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the senator kept running into female voters who wrote in her name in the last election — moderate women who did not always vote Democrat or Republican. These women were coming unglued.
The reason: Murkowski’s support for a measure that would have allowed not just religious employers, but any employer, to opt out of providing birth control or other health insurance coverage required by the 2010 health-care law for moral reasons. …
We talked for 45 minutes. What Lisa Murkowski told me I already suspected. She’s a moderate. She supports abortion rights and contraception coverage. She also doesn’t line up completely with the Catholic Church when it comes to birth control. She regretted her recent vote.
“I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,” she said.
President Obama said on Tuesday that he called the Georgetown law student maligned by radio host Rush Limbaugh because he wants to make sure his two daughters live in a democracy where different views are expressed without debate becoming vile.
“I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way,” Mr Obama told reporters when asked about the controversy at his first formal press conference of the year.
“I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens,” Mr. Obama said.
The president said he did not want to judge whether Limbaugh’s apology is sincere, nor did he want to say whether advertisers should continue their flight from his radio program after Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” …
“What I can comment on is the fact that all decent folks can agree that the remarks that were made don’t have any place in the public discourse,” he said. …
“We want to send a message to all our young people that being part of democracy involves arguments and disagreements and debate and we want you to be engaged,” Mr. Obama said, adding “There is a way to do it that doesn’t involving you being demeaned and insulted.”
Transcript of press conference on following page.