Tag Archives: preventative health care

As You Head Out From These Hallowed Halls, We Republicans Have A Message For You

June approaches and House Republicans, perhaps like Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) or Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2), will be out on the graduation speaker circuit?  Whatever will they talk about?  Maybe they’d like to tell us they “voted in favor of reducing the costs of student loans for college?”  Cue the Boo Birds.

Back on March 29, 2012 both Republican Representatives from the state of Nevada voted in favor of the Romney/Ryan Budget H.Con.Res. 112 which included a permanent increase in the rate of student loans to 6.8% interest. [roll call 151]

Then on April 19, 2012 both Republican Representatives from the state of Nevada voted in favor of H.R. 9, the so-called “small business tax cut” act.  [roll call 173] There were NO offsets, NO “payfors” in this $46 billion tax windfall for the 1%.   What were those loopholes for the rich if not famous?

50% of the benefits of this bill go to millionaires, and NOT to the average small business owner.  A “small business” was defined as a company employing fewer than 500 employees — including Paris Hilton Entertainment, Inc., the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Donald Trump Tower Sales and Leasing Inc.  Some beneficiaries of Congressional Compassion would include highly profitable  Washington, D. C. lobby shops that employ fewer than 500.  Major law firms with 500 or less on the payroll …  Hmmm, not exactly your local neighborhood Able Heating Contractors, or Baker’s Dozen Deli, or even Charlie’s Sports Bar and Grill.

There is no provision in the bill to induce companies to hire domestically. “Under the Cantor bill there is no requirement that a business owner use the extra cash from the tax cut to reinvest in his or her business, as opposed to spending it on personal consumption or simply putting it in the bank. Businesses that do not create jobs—and even those that lay off employees—are still eligible for the deduction,…”  [CAP] (emphasis added)

Worse still, H.R. 9 was a “windfall” and not an incentive for domestic investment or hiring.  Again, the CAP explains:

“For most business owners H.R. 9 would be a pure windfall with no effect on investment or job creation. Business owners make investments and hire people not because they have extra cash lying around but because those investments and hires will increase revenues by more than their cost. And because labor costs are deductible, a reduction in tax rates on business profits, which is essentially what H.R. 9 offers, does not change marginal incentives for hiring.”

And, how do we pay for these tax windfalls?  We don’t. The entire tax cut/windfall is “paid for” with BORROWED MONEY.  Well, thus much for the Deficit Hawks in the audience.

Now, on April 27, 2012 the House Republicans, Representatives Amodei and Heck included, voted in favor of H.R. 4648 to reduce the interest rates for Stafford Student Loans.   [roll call 195] But wait! There’s a catch.  This has to be “paid for” — we supposedly can’t afford to “borrow” money to pay for this — “think of our grandchildren….”

How did the House GOP membership propose to pay for the bill? By raiding the preventative health care funding from the Affordable Care Act.  And, what were those funds supposed to be used for?

The preventative health care funds included money for federal, state, and local agencies to address smoking cessation programs, childhood obesity issues, nutrition education, and funding for federal, state, and local health care infrastructure improvements in information technology, workforce training, and improvements to state and local health departments so as to improve public detection and responses to epidemics. [HHS]

What does this have to do with Nevada? “Nevada is receiving $5,916,502 from the Prevention Fund this year to reduce disease rates in the state and help ensure today’s children are not the first generation in U.S. history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parent.” [TFAH]

The message is reasonably clear — if we are speaking of giving more than half of $46 billion to “small businesses,” in H.R. 9 it’s perfectly OK to borrow the money to pay for that approximately $23 billion bill for the 1%’ers.  However, if we are speaking of reducing the costs of Stafford Student Loans then, by the lights of Representatives Amodei and Heck, we have to raid the fund that would have allowed Nevada to pay for the use of non-lighted athletic fields by youth groups promoting sports and healthy lifestyles, or allowed Nevada to help support school district efforts to reduce trans-fats in school lunch menus, or to supporting the hiring and training of epidemiologists, health information specialists, and lab scientists for our public health system.  (Remember that Hepatitis C thing in Clark County?)

Perhaps our commencement speaker would like to say, “The message is clear, the vision is certain, there are choices we must make in life, and if you are RICH we will reward you, even if we have to borrow the money to do it; but, if you are not then you must choose between better health care services in your state and community, or getting a reduction in your student loan interest rate.”

Some choice, some message…

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Filed under 2012 election, Amodei, education, Heck, Nevada politics

A Healthy Choice

The race for the Senate seat currently held by appointed Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) should be one of the clearest contests between Wall Street and Main Street in the 2012 election.  Challenger Rep. Shelley Berkley summed it up:

“Instead of focusing on job creation and getting our economy back on track, Washington Republicans like Dean Heller are spending their time pushing a radical social agenda that restricts access to basic women’s preventative health services,” said Berkley.  “Voters will have a clear choice this election between my commitment to putting Nevadans back to work and Dean Heller’s attacks on women’s healthcare and pro-Wall Street agenda.”  [WashoeDems]

Big Pharma  The only quibble with Berkley’s assessment might be that it isn’t just women’s health care that’s gotten short shrift from Senator Heller.  Climbing into the Not-So-Wayback-Machine to January 12, 2007 we find then Representative Heller voting against H.R. 4, a bill which would have allowed the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate for prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical corporations.   It really doesn’t do to decry “out of control government spending” on one hand, and then vote against measures which would decrease spending on the other.  Representative Berkley (D-NV1) voted in favor of the cost reduction measure. [PVS]

Picking Up The SCHIPS  Senator Heller’s opposition to  SCHIP shouldn’t be forgotten either.  Heller voted against H.R. 3162 on August 1, 2007, a bill to reauthorize the popular children’s health care program.   When the topic came up again on September 25, 2007 (H.R. 976) then Representative Heller voted against it one more time.   Heller found it acceptable to vote against a federal contribution of $2.10 for every dollar Nevada appropriated for its Check Up and Medicaid programs, and against $373 million for children’s health care coverage in a five year period. This might not have been problematic except that in 2007 Nevada had 106,244 uninsured children, 2/3rds of whom would have been eligible for the program.  [Families USA pdf] Representative Berkley voted in favor of reauthorizing the SCHIP program on August 1, and again on September 25th.  [PVS]  When it came time to vote to over-ride the Bush White House veto of H.R. 976 Representative Heller voted with the administration, Representative Berkley voted to over-ride the veto. [October 18, 2007]

The question of providing health care for children bounced back again on October 25, 2007 in the form of H.R. 3963, and again Representative Heller voted against it.  The bill passed the House on a 265-142 vote, with Representative Berkley voting in favor of the reauthorization.   Once again Congress reauthorized the program and one again President Bush vetoed it.  Representative Heller voted to sustain the veto on January 23, 2008.  Representative Berkley voted to over-ride.

The SCHIP subject re-emerged on January 14, 2009, again Representative Heller voted against reauthorizing the children’s health care program, and again Representative Berkley voted in favor. [H.R. 2] Representative Heller’s stalwart position against reauthorizing a program to assist families with children who have serious medical issues should be crystal clear.  Heller joined those House Republicans who argued that the SCHIP program was an unnecessary tax burden on cigarette manufacturers, and would cause families to forgo the purchase of health insurance coverage for their children.  [DB 1/2008] Representative Berkley’s support for helping a family of four (earning about $46,000 annually) with medical expenses should be equally clear.

Mental One portion of H.R. 1424 stated: “States that group health insurance plans offering mental health and substance abuse treatment must offer such coverage with financial requirements and treatment limitations that are no more restrictive than those associated with the medical and surgical coverage provided by the plan.”  In short, group health plans should cover treatment for mental health problems.  On March 5, 2008 Representative Heller voted “no” while Representative Berkley voted “yes.”

Health Care Reform  Senator Heller has made no secret of his opposition to the health care reforms enacted in the Affordable Care Act, and Representative Berkley has made no secret of her support for the following provisions:

# Health care insurance corporations must provide preventive health care services at no cost in the plans they market to customers. (Mammograms, prostate cancer screening, etc.)

# Health insurance corporations may no longer deny coverage to youngsters under the age of 19 for “pre-existing” conditions.

# Health insurance corporations may no longer rescind coverage because a person made an honest mistake on an application.

# We have the right to choose the doctor we want from our plan’s network or seek emergency care at a hospital outside of our health plan’s network.

# Health insurance corporations may no longer offer plans with lifetime limits on coverage.

# The reforms require that health care insurance corporations spend at least 80% of their premium dollars on actual health care.

# The law requires that health care insurance providers be able to justify any rate increase of more than 10%.

Representative Berkley is being entirely too kind.  Senator Heller doesn’t merely object to women’s preventative health care services — he objects to more affordable health care for the elderly taking expensive prescription drugs, for children in middle class families who have serious medical conditions, for families trying to cope with the expenses for a member with mental health concerns, for people denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, for people whose coverage was dropped when they became ill, for people who have long-term medical needs because of accident or illness.

Nevada voters may well have a choice in 2012 between accepting highly generalized complaints about “socialized medicine” (read: pro-insurance corporation positions) from Senator Heller, and specific health care measures designed to support middle class families and their health care needs as advocated by Representative Berkley.

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Filed under 2012 election, Berkley, Health Care, Heller, SCHIP