Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Having Insurance 'Going to be Like Christmas'

Durham, N.C. — Uninsured Triangle residents said Monday that they eagerly await the overhaul of the nation's health care system.
"It's just going to be like Christmas," said DeCarlo Flythe, who lost health coverage for his family when he was laid off almost three years ago. "It's going to be great. You know, no worries (about) the bills. We are going to go ahead and pay our co-pay and be alright."

Obama is going to pay for my Gas

Job losses left many people uninsured
Flythe, a diabetic, said he checked into buying a policy for his family, but he couldn't afford it. He recently landed another job, but the new benefits haven't kicked in yet.
"I worry day to day, honestly," he said. "I pray to make sure my child or my wife don't' get sick because, if they go to the hospital, we are looking at a couple of thousand (dollars in bills)."
Flythe was among the patients Monday at the Walltown Clinic, a joint program of Duke University and Lincoln Community Health Center that serves the low-income neighborhoods near Duke's campus. The clinic serves 3,000 to 4,000 patients a year – 80 percent don't have health insurance – and charges co-pays based on what patients can afford.  "People will come in and say, 'I suddenly don't have a job. I've lost my insurance. Can you help me?'" said Kaity Granda, a physician's assistant at the clinic.Norman Rucker said he hasn't had health insurance in almost 10 years because his employers haven't offered it.
"I'm not a person who gets sick a lot, so I didn't think I'd need any medicine," said Rucker, who racked up about $100,000 in hospital bills over that period by going to the emergency room whenever he needed care. "I'm trying to pay them off. Collection agencies call me all the time.
Rucker's wife has insurance, but the couple couldn't afford to put him on the policy. Now, he's excited he may also have coverage because of health care reform.
"It'll make the world better. It'll make us all better, actually," he said.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pelosi is loosing IT!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not accustomed to the word she’s been hearing far more frequently in recent days: “no.” Over the past two weeks, Pelosi has faced a series of subtle but significant challenges to her authority — revolts from Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Blue Dog Coalition and politically vulnerable first- and second-term members.
The dynamic stems from an “every man for himself” attitude developing in the Democratic Caucus rather than a loss of respect for Pelosi, according to a senior Democratic aide. But it’s making Pelosi’s life — and efforts to maintain Democratic unity — harder. And it’s noteworthy, in part, because Pelosi’s signature strength has been a firmer hand than past Democratic leaders — an aptitude for wielding raw power in a consensus-minded caucus. But her inability — or unwillingness — to dictate when Rep. Charles Rangel would resign his Ways and Means Committee chairmanship and who would replace him is one sign that she is commanding the caucus with less authority. Although he would give up his gavel the next day, Rangel defiantly pronounced he was still chairman after leaving a come-to-Jesus meeting last Tuesday night in Pelosi’s ceremonial office next to the House floor. Her first choice to succeed him, Pete Stark of California, was rejected by the Ways and Means Committee members, as was her plan to split power on the committee between Stark and Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan. Pelosi’s backers said that what she really wanted was to avoid a fight for the gavel — and that she succeeded by refusing to apply a heavy hand. But a veteran Democratic lawmaker told POLITICO the denouement was “an indication that things aren’t all hunky-dory.”
That episode came immediately on the heels of Pelosi’s 180-degree turn on Rangel. After the ethics committee admonished him for breaking House gift rules, Pelosi issued a public message that she would stand by Rangel until the committee completed its look at other allegations against him.

“We’ll just see what happens next and what comes out of the ethics committee,” she said then.

But politically vulnerable Democrats sent a message right back: They would dump him if she didn’t.
Before leaders could gather last Tuesday to plan their week, politically imperiled Democratic lawmakers from around the country were making clear that they would vote with Republicans to strip Rangel of his chairmanship if Pelosi didn’t avert a floor vote by getting him to step down.
Even on legislative matters, Pelosi has been subject to low-grade insurrections. She was unable to send a $15 billion Senate-passed jobs bill directly to the president because members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the conservative Blue Dog Coalition and the Transportation Committee objected to some items that were in the bill and some that were absent.
CBC members said the measure shouldn’t even be called a “jobs bill” because, in their view, it would do little to create jobs.
Pelosi satisfied enough recalcitrant Democrats to amend the bill and send it back to the Senate last week — but not before 38 defections from the ranks of conservatives and CBC members put the measure in jeopardy on a procedural vote.
“Nancy Pelosi is a little bit like a Forest Service warden during a particularly dry summer in which there are little blazes springing up all over the place. Some of them can be easily contained, and others could grow into pretty serious forest fires,” said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Baker said Pelosi is not weaker than before but that the dynamics have shifted for her in short order.
“Her grasp is somewhat more tentative,” Baker said. “The obstacles that face her are just much more imposing than they were as recently as two years ago.”
Those obstacles include a tough election cycle and House Democrats’ desire to retaliate against the Senate for moving too slowly or too far to the middle. But when they vote no — whether they’re angry at Pelosi, the Democratic-controlled Senate or President Barack Obama — it is Pelosi’s tally that suffers.
There’s little room for the speaker to brook challenges on the controversial overhaul of the nation’s health care system, but her spokesman, Brendan Daly, said he’s not worried about residual effects of the Ways and Means Committee shake-up.
“I don’t think any of this was a challenge. As [Pelosi] said, now that’s behind us, and we’re going to move ahead,” Daly said. “We’re on the cusp of historic health reform, and she’s going to work very hard in the next few weeks to make sure that happens.”
Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, said it’s hard to say Pelosi’s grip is slipping, because she never ruled with an iron fist.
“Pelosi’s strength has always been her ability to understand the diversity within her caucus and to figure out a way to bring [people] together when the tough votes come down,” Mann said. “I don’t see any change in her standing. She never had the capacity to issue orders.”
To be sure, Pelosi has pooled an immense reservoir of goodwill over the years, first as a talented rank-and-file Democrat and later as the leader who positioned Democrats to win, and then expand, a majority. Even in tough times, most of her fellow Democrats believe Pelosi is on their side.
“People know that her heart is right,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
But that hasn’t stopped even some of Pelosi’s allies from bucking her in recent weeks.
In insisting that his resignation of the Ways and Means Committee chairmanship was only temporary — even though there is no such provision in House rules — Rangel said, “I wrote the letter and I wrote what I meant, and I said what I meant. If there’s anyone that needs clarification, it’s the speaker, not you.”