Friday, October 16, 2009

It's time to take action on the health care bill

Here is detailed political analysis from Dr Marty McCaffrey, neonatalogist at UNC Chapel Hill. Pictured here with his daughter in pink and Jeanne Bolewitz, my Facebook friend and her family.
He attended the "Healthcare for Gunner" press conference with me and Kristen Hawkins last month, bringing his lovely nine year old daughter with Down syndrome. We traveled the halls of Congres lobbying against a health care bill which would endanger our children. You can see the official film of our press conference here.

It's wonderful to have such strong, knowlegable leadership against abortion in health care reform from the academic and medical communities. Please contact the sentators below. You can be sure that Senator Lieberman, whose office I visited with Marty on September 15, will be hearing from me again. And again with this message;
"you want me to go away? Get abortion and euthanasia out of the healthcare plan!"

His email is below with my comments in red.

The Baucus Bill passed out of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. A battle lost, but one that would have been difficult to win. Vote was on party lines with one Republican, Olympia Snowe, defecting to support the bill.
The fight to prevent a federal takeover of healthcare intensifies and remains in the Senate. Now the fun begins for sausage makers Harry Reid, Max Baucus and Chris Dodd. They are crafting a final bill for full Senate consideration. This bill will be a merging of the HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chaired by Dodd) and the Baucus bill. There will continue to be no Republican input on the “merged bill” developed, unless Harry decides he can buy some Republicans willing to roll over and claim they exerted influential moderating leadership in developing the “merged bill”. Before the bill can be brought to the floor for consideration, and amendments, it must receive 60 votes. This is cloture and represents a majority that cannot be filibustered.

There will be two cloture votes related to the “merged bill,” created essentially by three people, with no doubt the “mentorship” of the White House in the person of Rahmbo Emmanuel. These four people will decide the fate of the nation’s healthcare, unless we do something about it. This is disappointing to those of us who thought we lived in a representative republic, but statism and tyranny has been on the march in this nation for some time. Alexander de Toqueville wrote, “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.” By de Toqueville’s measure our nation is in serious need of healthcare reform, but not that being prescribed by Liberal snake oil salesman.

By far the most important cloture vote is the first one. The first will, if passed, allow debate on the "merged bill" to begin. Once a "merged bill" is on the floor, the process towards the radical and destructive overhaul of American medicine becomes much more difficult to stop.

A second cloture vote will be necessary to bring the debate to a close on whatever the floor amendment process produces.

Things could get complicated if the Majority Leader fears certain defeat on the initial effort at cloture. This could be reality if we all work to make it so. In that case he might opt to use “reconciliation”, a legislative fast track vehicle inserted by the Democrats into this years budget resolution. This vehicle relates specifically to healthcare and was created as a Plan B in case Democrats could not broker a deal with Senate Republicans, and in case they couldn’t hold all of their own caucus together. This would allow the Leader to bring a reconciled healthcare bill to the floor for approval without cloture. Reid can craft this bill however he likes as long as it reduces the deficit by a net of $1 billion over the next five years. As long as he remains close to the intent of the HELP and Finance bills, Sen. Reid has nearly complete freedom to draft a merged bill (now a substitute amendment) any way he likes. Approval would require only a straight majority of 51 votes. this is a very dangerous, nuclear option but you won't hear about it in the mainstream media.

This will not be as easy as it sounds. Dems will have to be willing to admit that they are passing a bill that circumvents the regular rules of the Senate, using a process created just for this bill and this purpose. In addition all elements of the substitute amendment would have to meet the standards of the Byrd rule. This may be too much “inside baseball” but at this point in our history, and we are in the midst of amazing history which calls us to action, citizens should appreciate the scheming of their legislators.

The Byrd rule states:

1. If a provision has no effect on spending or revenues, then it’s extraneous and violates the Byrd rule
Unless it is a necessary term or condition of another provision
that does affect spending or revenues.

If a provision has a small budget effect that is merely incidental to its broader non-budgetary
policy effect, then it is extraneous and violates the Byrd rule.

Byrd rule challenges to sections such as the public option or creation of insurance exchanges could be defeated by Democrats, but would require 60 votes. At the end of the day a reconciliation substitute amendment could look like Swiss cheese. If we get that far, we can only hope so.

So, if we are of a mind to heed a call to action, how to stop this madness? The key Senators in this process are listed. Bayh, Lincoln, Lieberman and Ben Nelson are critical, Bayh and Lincoln especially so. They are both up for re-election in 2010. These folks are the keymasters for the next several weeks. Please call and e-mail them and the others listed below. Commit to contacting all these Senators at least once over the next several weeks. Contact more than once if possible. Enclosed is a template for comments to Senators. It’s a brief statement of my view of things, just a starting point, edit at will. Urge a no vote on cloture unless and until the bill is altered to remedy its many devastating consequences for American medicine. Dissuade elected officials from considering the “reconciliation” option (Sen Reid does have some sense of irony) to pursue political by circumventing traditional Congressional requirements. In order of importance, visits, personal letters, calls and emails are required. If you are able, seriously consider visiting Senators state or DC offices.

While we have the best healthcare system in the world, this whole discussion is not about healthcare. A quick test to determine if you are talking to someone who is serious about healthcare, form a physician’s view. Defensive medicine may account for as much as 10-12% of healthcare costs in this nation. That is not chump change even by Harry Reid standards. No one who is serious about further improving medical care in this country can do so without a serious discussion of tort reform. This phrase never issues from the mouths of Dem political leaders.

The urgency for healthcare reform derives from the desire of statist liberals to engineer a government takeover of 1/6 of the GDP the government doesn’t already own. The true issue here is not healthcare; it is voluntary servitude to a government “sugar daddy” who promises everything. (here's where Dr Marty nails the real issue!) Some fondly envision and welcome the state as a parent. It is at best a pathologic parent, a mommy or daddy dearest, determined not to help us grow to be strong, independent individuals but to keep us in a state of perpetual childlike dependency.

The words of Thomas Paine are as applicable now as they were in 1776. “These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph."

beautiful quote, this, I can feel my heart burning within me!

Burn up the phone lines, melt the servers, crowd their waiting rooms! To the barricades.

Senate General Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Sen. Blanche Lincoln
DC Phone: (202) 224-4843
Local Phone: Dumas (870) 382-1023, Fayetteville (479) 251-1224, Little Rock (501) 375-2993, Jonesboro (870) 910-6896, Texarkana (870) 774-3106
Sen. Mark Pryor
DC Phone: (202) 224-2353
Local Phone: Little Rock (501) 324-6336
link to email

Sen. Michael Bennet
DC Phone: 202) 224-5444
Local Phone:
Denver Metro Office: (303) 455-7600 Toll Free: (866) 455-9866 Fax: (303) 455-8851
Colorado Springs Office: Phone: (719) 328-1100
link to email

Sen. Joe Lieberman
DC Phone: (202) 224-4041
Local Phone: (860) 549-8463
Link to email
Senator Lieberman, you'll learn my name in the next few weeks! I just sent him my first email with the comments below.

Sen. Bill Nelson

DC Phone: (202) 224-5274
Local Phone: Orlando (407) 872-7161, Miami-Dade (305) 536-5999, Tampa (813) 225-7040, West Palm Beach (561) 514-0189, Tallahassee (850) 942-8415, Jacksonville (904) 346-4500, Broward (954) 693-4851, Fort Meyers (239) 334-7760
link to email

Sen. Evan Bayh

DC Phone: (202) 224-5623
Local Phone: Evansville (812) 465-6500, Fort Wayne (260) 426-3151, Hammond (219) 852-2763, Indianapolis (317) 554-0750, Jeffersonville (812) 218-2317, Southbend (574) 236-8302
link to email

Sen. Mary Landrieu

DC Phone: (202) 224-5824
Local Phone: Baton Rouge (225) 389-0395, Lake Charles (337) 436-6650, New Orleans (504) 589-2427, Shreveport (318) 676-3085
link to email

Sen. Jon Tester
DC Phone: (202) 224-2644
Local Phone: Billings (406) 252-0550, Bozeman (406) 586-4450, Butte (406) 723-3277, Glendive (406) 365-2391, Great Falls (406) 452-9585, Helena (406) 449-5401, Kalispell (406) 257-3360, Missoula (406) 728-3003
link to email

Sen. Ben Nelson

DC Phone: (202) 224-6551
Local Phone: Omaha (402) 391-3411, Lincoln (402) 441-4600, Scottsbluff (308) 631-7614, Kearney (308) 293-5818, South Sioux City (402) 209-3595
link to email

North Dakota
Sen. Kent Conrad

DC Phone: (202) 224-2043
Local Phone: Bismarck (701) 258-4648, Fargo (701) 232-8030, Grand Forks (701) 775-9601, Minot (701) 852-0703
link to email

Sen. Byron Dorgan
DC Phone: (202) 224-2551
Local Phone: Bismarck (701) 250-4618, Fargo (701) 239-5389, Minot (701) 852-0703, Grand Forks (701) 746-8972
link to email

South Dakota
Sen. Tim Johnson

DC Phone: (202) 224-5842
Local Phone: Aberdeen (605) 226-3440, Sioux Falls (605) 332-8896, Rapid City (605) 341-3990

Sen. James Webb
(202) 224-4024

West Virginia
Sen. Robert C. Byrd

DC Phone: (202) 224-3954
Local Phone: Charlestown (304) 342-5855, Eastern Panhandle (304) 264-4626

Dr Marty's suggested talking points:


I ask you to vote no on cloture and refuse to support current Senate healthcare reform bills which will wreak untold havoc on our nation. These bills, and whatever a merged bill looks like, are a massive intrusion into a market that the government has already proven it cannot manage. Medicare, Mediciad, the VA, Tricare and Indian Health Services would be bankrupt and defunct without a continuous infusion of our tax dollars. The Bills will require rationing, starting with enormous cuts in Medicare services. The bills completely overstep any Congressional authority in mandating federal insurance exchanges. All bills mandate support for women’s services including abortion through accounting mechanisms which sidestep the Hyde amendment. Lastly, these bills, any of them, will bankrupt our nation.

The Senate has refused any transparency on these bills. Senator Reid and a handful of others now have the fate of American healthcare in their hands. Senator Baucus reported that it would “take too long”, perhaps two weeks, to get his bill on line. Why would we want politicians who can’t figure out how to post the text of the bill on the internet running our healthcare system? The fact is Democratic leadership and the President don’t want us to see these bills. In fact they will be voted on without being fully written. The Baucus bill has not been made available to the public in its legal language, leaving a “select” group of Senators the power to determine the true details and actual cost of the Bill. The CBO reports that its cost is uncertain.

A real discussion on restructuring American healthcare requires national discussion that includes a tax breaks for insurance purchase, delinking employment and insurance, real tort reform, and a release of the death grip government currently has on healthcare via price fixing and mandates. We have the best healthcare system in the country. If we wish to serve the 10-15,000,000 who actually need it much more effectively, lets honestly do so.

Do not destroy what no other country has achieved, especially under the yoke of an enormous underclass created by previous government misadventures, in order to abet the power addiction of a misguided administration.

The consideration of “reconciliation” to pass a merged bill, or portions of it, that circumvents the ever diminishing restraints on the majority in Congress will be a clear sign to the nation that a number in Congress have sold their souls and no longer feel an obligation to serve the people they supposedly represent. Supporters of these treacherous "reforms" beware, 2010 is not far away.
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