Playing Doctor with Americans’ Lives

3Doctors400Republicans, in both the House and the Senate, are currently colluding to gut Healthcare Reform and deny actual healthcare to millions of women across our nation using a process called Reconciliation.  Reconciliation is an expedited budgetary process that offers some procedural advantages: it needs only the support of a simple majority in the Senate, and cannot be filibustered. The bill they intend pass via reconciliation is HR3762, inappropriately named, “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act” … it should be named “Butchering All Hope of Being Able to Afford Effective Healthcare Act.”

This reconciliation bill includes language to repeal key parts of Obamacare: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the medical device tax and the ‘Cadillac tax.’ There are press posts saying that it will also end the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), but I can’t find such a provision in the bill.In addition, it would defund Planned Parenthood for one year

Defunding Planned Parenthood for a Year—

Here’s the section which specifically codifies the vilification of Planned Parenthood as a “Prohibited Entity” that just happens to provide “essential” healthcare for millions of women across our nation:

SEC. 202. FEDERAL PAYMENT TO STATES.
(a) In General.—Notwithstanding section 504(a), 1902(a)(23), 2002, 2005(a)(4), 2102(a)(7), or 2105(a)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 704(a), 1396b(a)(23), 1397a, 1397d(a)(4), 1397bb(a)(2), 1397ee(a)(1)), or the terms of any Medicaid waiver in effect on the date of enactment of this Act that is approved under section 1115 or 1915 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1315, 1396n), for the 1-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act no Federal funds may be made available to a State for payments to a prohibited entity, whether made directly to the prohibited entity or through a managed care organization under contract with the State.

(b) Definition Of Prohibited Entity.—In this section, the term “prohibited entity” means an entity, including its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics—

(1) that, as of the date of enactment of this Act—

(A) is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code;

(B) is an essential community provider described in section 156.235 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, that is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and

(C) provides for abortions, other than an abortion—

(i) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or

(ii) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself; and

(2) for which the total amount of Federal and State expenditures under the Medicaid program under title XIX of the Social Security Act in fiscal year 2014 made directly to the entity and to any affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics of the entity, or made to the entity and to any affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, or clinics of the entity as part of a nationwide health care provider network, exceeded $350,000,000.

[Emphasis mine]

Please note that the provisions to completely eliminate any funds for Planned Parenthood were proposed and recommended by the Ways and Means Committee currently led by Rep. Paul Ryan, that same Paul Ryan who will is expected to be elected as Speaker of the House next Wednesday — that is, unless the right wing extremists of the Republican Freedom Caucus renege and cast their votes for their beloved Rep. Daniel Webster instead.

Repealing the Individual and Employer Mandates —

Repealing individual mandate provisions are likely to increase, rather than decrease, the number of U.S. residents without health coverage, thus eliminating the progress that has been made in holding people responsible for their healthcare.  If the CBO forecasts are correct, the H.R. 3762 mandate repeal provisions could increase the number of uninsured U.S. residents by 55 percent to 65 percent. But, that’s okay with Republicans because for each person who doesn’t buy health insurance, the government doesn’t have to shell out $760-$815.  But they took it one step further.  To help their corporate benefactors, they also plan on repealing the mandates on employers to provide medical coverage.  Thus, ordinary Americans seeking to access affordable healthcare coverage for themselves and their families are going to rapidly find themselves up the proverbial creak, with no paddle, a leaky boat and no pail with which to bail out their boat.

The house voted on passage of HR3762 on Friday.  The vote was 240-189 with 5 Democrats not voting.  One Democrat (Peterson) voted for passage and ALL THREE of Nevada’s Congressional Republicans voted ‘AYE’ for passage! The bill is now off to the Senate, where it can be considered without a 60-vote cloture requirement (assuming the package passes muster with the Senate “Byrd Rule.”).

The Byrd Rule is a Senate rule that amends the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to allow Senators, during the Reconciliation Process, to block a piece of legislation if it purports significantly to increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term or is otherwise an “extraneous matter” as set forth in the Budget Act.  It is named after West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessed the effects of HR3762 on long-term deficits and direct spending as follows:

  • Including macroeconomic feedback, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would increase net direct spending as well as on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in one or more of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.
  • Excluding macroeconomic feedback, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending by more than $5 billion in either of the first two consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026; however, the agencies are not able to determine whether enacting the legislation would increase net direct spending by more than $5 billion in the third or fourth 10-year period.
  • Excluding macroeconomic feedback, CBO and JCT estimate that enacting the legislation would increase on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in one or more of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.

And because enacting the legislation would affect direct spending and revenues, ‘pay-as-you-go procedures‘ apply.

The President is then expected to veto, setting up the need for a veto-override vote in Congress.  In a statement promising Obama’s veto, the White House said the GOP measure “would take away critical benefits and health care coverage from hard-working middle-class families.”

However, a conservative revolt could derail the bill’s progress, as some conservative groups are opposing because the bill leaves some parts of ObamaCare intact


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Time is Money and the GOP is Throwing It Away

Earlier this week, the Republicans in Congress (including NV2’s Mark Amodei) voted for passage of yet another bill limiting a woman’s reproductive rights.  It not only would shorten the time frame during which a woman could choose to end a pregnancy, but would also require rape/incest victims to report that assault to authorities to be able to exercise that choice.  That bill would be HR1797.  That’s right, despite not having passed a single jobs bill, the REPUBLIBAN brethren in Congress would rather waste time and our taxpayer dollars on a bill the President has already promised to veto. Their actions are shameful and out of touch with what our country needs.

Available legislative time on the agenda is finite.  That means if the folks in charge of the House of Representatives, that would be the REPUBLIBAN brethren, choose to use their time to debate and process crap bills like this, the alternative cost is that there is NO TIME to devote to meaningful actions necessary to say, pass a jobs bill, pass comprehensive immigration reform, fix the still lingering foreclosure problems still facing many families, or ensure that students will be able to secure reasonable loan interest rates such that they don’t become mere indentured servants to the mighty megabanks.

Just looking at the time wasted on HR1797, here’s what’s shown on Thomas:

4/26/2013: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

4/26/2013: Referred to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (41 members)
4/26/2013: Referred to House Judiciary Committee (40 members)

5/23/2013: Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. (15 members)
5/23/2013: Referred to the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. (12 members)

5/23/2013: Subcommittee Hearings Held.
6/04/2013: Subcommittee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
6/04/2013: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 6 – 4 .

6/12/2013: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.
6/12/2013: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by the Yeas and Nays: 20 – 12.
6/14/2013 10:09pm: Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Judiciary. H. Rept. 113-109, Part I.

6/14/2013 10:09pm: Committee on Oversight and Government discharged.

6/14/2013 10:10pm: Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 77.

6/17/2013 7:32pm: Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 266 Reported to House. The resolution provides for one hour of debate on H.R. 1947 and provides for consideration of H.R. 1797 with one hour of debate and one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

6/18/2013 4:41pm: Considered under the provisions of rule H. Res. 266. (consideration: CR H3730-3743)

6/18/2013 4:41pm: The resolution provides for one hour of debate on H.R. 1947 and provides for consideration of H.R. 1797 with one hour of debate and one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

6/18/2013 4:41pm: DEBATE – The House proceeded with one hour of debate on H.R. 1797.

6/18/2013 6:01pm: The previous question was ordered pursuant to the rule. (consideration: CR H3743)

6/18/2013 6:01pm: POSTPONED PROCEEDINGS – At the conclusion of debate on H.R. 1797, the Chair put the question on passage and, by voice vote, announced that the ayes had prevailed. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen demanded the yeas and nays and the Chair postponed further proceedings on the question of passage until later in the legislative day.

6/18/2013 6:15pm: Considered as unfinished business. (consideration: CR H3743-3744)

6/18/2013 6:45pm: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 228 – 196 (Roll no. 251). (text: CR H3730-3731)

6/18/2013 6:45pm: Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.

6/18/2013 6:45pm: The title of the measure was amended. Agreed to without objection.

6/19/2013: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

So, what kind of alternative costs are we talking about?  Well, let’s start with the annual salary of a U.S. Representative to Congress.  That would be $174,000/yr.  Now, let’s look at the number of legislative days each of our Representatives will work this year. That would be 126 days (out of 365 calendar days).  Given that they’re only scheduled to be in DC for 4 consecutive days in any calendar week, I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt and say they work 10 hour days.  That means available legislative hours =  126 days x 10 hrs/day =1260 hrs.  That means that the cost for each legislative hour for each representative = $174,000 /1260 hrs =$138.10/hr.

So, for each subcommittee and each committee, and then the House as a whole spent only an hour dealing with this bill what did that cost us as taxpayers (you know, the folks who pay their salaries)?

Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations
Hearing/Markup: 15 members x 3 hr x $138.10/hr = $6214.50

 Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice
Hearing/Markup:12 members x 3 hr x $138.10/hr = $4971.60

Full Judiciary Committee
Amendment/Vote of Yeas & Nays:  40 mbrs x 2 hrs x $138.10 = $11,048.00

Full House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
Vote of Yeas & Nays:  41 mbrs x 1 hr x $138.10 = $5662.10

Full House of Representatives (424 Voting/10 Not Voting)
Debate & Votes:  424 Mbrs x 2 hrs x 138.10/hr = $117,108.80

And none of these figures include the monies paid to that folks in the background, the clerks on the floor of the house, any payments made to those who testified for their travel (etc.), the webmasters who need to post information about the hearings, markups, debates, and votes.  But as you can see, the nominal cost of just the Representatives themselves for consideration of this onerous bill amounts to:

$6214.50 + $4971.60 + 11,048.00 + $5662.10 + $117,108.80 = $145,005.00

Just for reference sake, the average U.S. per capita personal income in 2012 was $42,693.  Thus, the alternative costs the Speaker Boehner and his REPUBLIBAN brethren chose to waste would have basically employed 3.4 individuals (3 full time jobs + 1 part-time job) for a year!  In Nevada, the 2012 per capita Income was only $37, 361 … so in Nevada, that same wasted money, on just that one bill, could have employed 3.9 individuals!

Defending Reproductive Rights

Earlier this week, Personhood USA spokesperson Walter Hoye finally admitted what we’ve long known about Mississippi’s “personhood” amendment:

If it passes, abortion would be outlawed, and so would widely used forms of birth control.

Mississippi voters will decide whether the state’s constitution should consider a fertilized egg a person next Tuesday—and we cannot allow this attack on women’s health to succeed.

Pledge to stand with Mississippi women and against this assault on health and constitutional rights!

When NPR’s Diane Rehm asked Hoye about the extent of the amendment, he said: “Any birth control that ends the life of a human being will be impacted by this measure.”

And because the language of this amendment defines a fertilized egg as a human being, the ban would include IUDs, all forms of emergency contraception, the birth control shot, and some forms of the pill. As if that were not enough, the amendment would go much further:

  • Putting doctors and women at risk of criminal prosecution for doing nothing more than engaging in routine OB-GYN care.
  • Potentially halting many forms of infertility treatment—including IVF.
  • Opening women to potential criminal prosecution for suffering miscarriages.

Doctors and medical associations across the state of Mississippi and beyond are united in opposing this measure because of the grave danger it poses to women’s health. Anyone concerned with protecting our constitutional rights against erosion at the hands of an extremist minority should be united in opposition as well.

Pledge to stand with Mississippi voters TODAY by saying NO to “Initiative 26.”

Plain and simple, the Mississippi personhood amendment is a direct assault not only on women’s health, but also on the constitutional rights we are all guaranteed.

But you can take heart in this: We will challenge this amendment in court if it passes, and we will defend the rights of women across the state of Mississippi and beyond.

the Center for Reproductive Rights