Oppose Senate Finance Committee Health Care Bill

NOW Action Bulletin

Baucus Bill is Profit-Driven Insurance Industry Dream

Your voice is urgently required!

The long-awaited Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill unveiled this week has many deficient and undesirable provisions and it must be opposed. First and most important, the legislation does NOT contain a public option — and, as a result, there is no effective mechanism to stimulate competition and control escalating health care costs. There is no mandate for employers to provide health insurance. Everyone will be required to get their own costly insurance and, failing that, they will be assessed a stiff penalty. Essentially, the same factors that have caused health care costs to rise at four times the rate of wages are left in place. This is not reform!

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For those reasons and many other burdensome and costly features (detailed in the Background section), as well as ideology-driven restrictions on women’s reproductive health care, the Senate Finance Committee bill must be stopped. Send a message to your senators right away to oppose this legislation.


In an attempt to write a bipartisan health care reform bill, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has produced a bill that fails to effectively solve problems in our dysfunctional health care system and is unlikely to overcome strident right-wing opposition, anyway. The Baucus bill would require everyone to buy insurance, thus handing over 30 million new customers to profit-driven insurance companies. It would fail to bring health care costs under control, allow insurers to increase costs as we age, and tax high-cost insurance plans (over $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families — this would include plans that are higher cost because of chronic or severe illness, as older persons often have). Instead of authorizing a public option, the bill advances the flawed approach of health care co-operatives — which have shown little success in controlling rising costs.

In brief, the bill fails to make insurance truly affordable for low- and moderate-income families; it fails to assure broad access to a full range of reproductive health services for women (that’s discrimination, clear and outrageous); it fails to provide equal access to insurance coverage for “legal” immigrants; it allows insurance companies to charge older persons five times as much as younger persons; and it imposes a mandate that everyone buy health insurance and imposes stiff penalties if they don’t, while requiring premium payments higher than either the Senate HELP Committee bill or the House bill (H.R. 3200).

In every respect, it looks as though insurance companies wrote the bill themselves, as there is no employer mandate to provide health insurance, and it can be reasonably speculated that many companies may be dropping their group plans and leaving everything up to their unfortunate employees. Under this bill, a costly burden would be placed on individuals and families. For instance, a family of three with an annual income of $55,000 would be expected to pay $7,100 a year for insurance premiums — more than either of the other major reform bills would allow. And that doesn’t even cover out-of-pocket expenses for co-pays and deductibles.

Tax subsidies would be available for low-income and modest-income persons, but eligibility is more restrictive than in other reform bills, and the subsidies are less generous. Businesses with more than 50 employees would have to reimburse the government for some or all of the cost of the subsidies provided to employees who buy insurance on their own. This approach provides an incentive to businesses not to hire poor or disadvantaged workers, and the tax on higher-cost plans will discourage the hiring and retention of older or less healthy employees. There are many other intended and unintended bad outcomes that can be expected if this legislation is adopted.

The legislation would expand Medicaid to cover millions more uninsured low-income persons, with an additional cost of $287 billion over 10 years. Whether financially-challenged state budgets can pay the required match for the Medicaid expansion is a serious question. The subsidies to low- and moderate-income individuals and families amount to $463 billion over 10 years, and tax credits for small businesses to help them buy insurance would total $24 billion.

Keep in mind that your tax dollars would pay for all the subsidies flowing to those same profit-driven insurance companies that have denied as many as one in five doctor-prescribed services, excluded cancer and other critically-ill patients when they most needed help, and paid huge executive salaries. The 20 to 30 percent private insurance administrative costs, which are a significant part of our country’s comparably higher health care expenditures, would continue.

The Baucus bill will not result in universal coverage: the Congressional Budget office estimates that as many as 25 million persons will be left out. Of that number, about a third will be immigrants. Excluding undocumented immigrants and making legal immigrants wait and show documentation for health care services is bad public health policy.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the price tag for the Baucus plan at $774 billion over 10 years. The lower cost is achieved because projected income from the unfortunate tax on the higher cost plans is used to offset costs. Additionally, Medicare costs will be squeezed to wring out more revenue to pay for this insurance industry subsidy plan. There are other sleights-of-hand in the legislation that make unrealistic assumptions about how these costs will be covered. We cannot let Democrats be pressured into supporting the Baucus bill because it supposedly has a lighter fiscal impact.

Take action by writing to your senators NOW!

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US – Treating transsexual kids: wait for, then delay puberty to treat… [2009-09-17 LA Times]

Perish the thought these kids should have the same teenage life as  normborns, that would negate so many of the womyn born womyn gender feminist arguments.


Booster Shots


Treating transsexual kids: wait for, then delay puberty to treat

September 17, 2009 1:33 pm

The nation’s oldest and largest organization of endocrinologists has recommended that physicians treating children with gender identity disorder intervene to delay puberty at its first signs and wait until a child is at least 16 before offering hormonal therapy that would begin his or her gender transition.

In a new clinical practice guideline unveiled today, the Endocrine Society < http://www.endo-society.org/ > tackled some of the most ethically sensitive decisions endocrinologists face in the treatment of those who are born of one gender, but identify themselves strongly with the opposite gender. Indeed, the society urges that its physicians rely on a mental health professional to render a diagnosis of transsexualism, which is termed gender identity disorder in the psychiatric profession’s current diagnostic manual.

The new practice guidelines also recommend that no action be taken to intervene in the hormonal balance of a young child who identifies as the opposite gender of his or her birth. “A diagnosis of transsexualism in a child who has not gone through puberty cannot be made with certainty,” the group concluded.

At the first signs of puberty, however, the new guidelines recommend that physicians use hormone therapy strictly for the purpose of suppressing pubertal changes until an adolescent has reached the age of 16. At that point, the group concluded, “cross-sex hormones may be given.”

Those guidelines come at a time when many of those with “gender dysphoria”–persistent distress over one’s gender at birth–are asking to begin gender reassignment hormonal therapy and/or surgery at an earlier and earlier age. While surgeons have been reluctant to do gender reassignment surgery on a patient under 18, endocrinologists often face pressure from would-be transsexuals to offer earlier, interim treatment. The new guidelines are likely to set a standard that many endocrinologists will follow in such cases.

“Transsexual persons experiencing the confusion and stress associated with feeling ‘trapped’ in the wrong body look to endocrinologists for treatment that can bring relief and resolution to their profound discomfort,” said Dr. Wylie Hembree, a Columbia University endocrinologist who chaired the committee drafting the guidelines. The new guidelines, he added in a news release, are intended to provide “science-based recommendations” for practitioners to provide “safe and effective treatment” to those diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder.

The transgender community has advocated for changes < http://www.gidreform.org/dsm5.html > in the psychiatry’s approach to the diagnosis of gender identity disorder, which is now being revisited in drafting sessions for the profession’s diagnostic manual. Among the transgender community’s concerns: that current definitions of Gender Identity Disorder lump the diagnosis under “paraphilias,” contribute to stigmatization, and fail to support the goals of gender transition and access to surgical and hormonal therapies in treatment of GID.

The new practice guidelines are published in the September issue of the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism < http://jcem.endojournals.org/ >. For a somewhat dated discussion of the ethical issues involved, check out this < http://www.antijen.org/Articles/Ina/Ina.html > article from Salon. And if you feel you were born into a body of the wrong gender, here< http://www.glnh.org/index2.html >‘s a place to seek help and support.

— Melissa Healy

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Britain – Hormone ‘blockers’ could be offered to under-16s seeking sex change… [2009-09-20 Independent on Sunday]

Don’t you just love the misogynistic experts?  Why fucking hormone blockers instead of actual hormones and castration so that these little transkids actually get to grow-up and enter female puberty at the same time as their assigned female at birth peers?

Oh I freaking forgot Dr. Richard Green and the mind fucking reaparative therapists think there is still a chance to torture these kids into being normal cis-sexual/cis-genders.  So cave to the Taliban Christers and other religionists rather than do the right thing.

Kids know before they can articulate it, the idea of waiting until 16 is cruelty and ignorance at best.  Giving them hormone blockers instead of actual hormones reflects nothing more than the combination of ignorance and arrogance.


Hormone ‘blockers’ could be offered to under-16s seeking sex change

By Victoria Richards

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sex-change experts are considering reviews to current UK guidelines that could see treatment with “hormone blockers” extended to under-16s and transgender surgery to under-18s.

The moves, if approved, would be taken as a positive response to campaigning led by Kim Petras, currently the world’s youngest transsexual, who at 16 succeeded in lobbying the German government to allow her to undergo a sex change.

The British Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes has said it is looking at its rules, after it was revealed that a 12-year-old British boy hopes to become the world’s youngest gender reassignment patient.

Born “Tim”, the German teen said her birth as a boy in Cologne in 1992 was an “accident of nature”. She won the right to become a woman last November.

But she is aware of how hard the fight for gender reassignment is. “I was bullied, especially by people who I didn’t know or from other schools. I had to fight to be myself for my entire life.”

However successful, her story is likely to be scant consolation for the two British children who were “outed” last week by their schools as suffering from “gender dysphoria” – feeling trapped in the wrong body.

One, aged 12, from West Sussex, attempted to make the transition from primary to secondary school while going from schoolboy to schoolgirl, before being recognised by former classmates.

Another, only nine years old, was presented to peers as a “new girl”, having returned to school after the holidays in girl’s uniform and with a long ponytail.

Copyright 2009 Independent News and Media Limited

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Obama Fuels Battle Over Funds for Abortion

From Women’s E-News

By Molly M. Ginty – WeNews correspondent

(WOMENSENEWS)–The words rang like gunshots in many women’s ears.

“Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions,” President Obama told a joint session of Congress in a televised speech about health care reform on September 9.

His pledge is fueling the fight over women’s access to abortion under any form of government insurance that might survive lawmakers’ protracted and intense battles over health care reform.

Three days after Obama’s speech, tens of thousands of protestors swarmed the U.S. capital in a rally that organizers touted as the largest-ever outpouring of political conservatives. Many carried anti-choice placards and chanted slogans that blasted the inclusion of abortion services in the public plan.

Pro-choice activism is also revved up.

Last weekend, the New-York based Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health sent 18 doctors to Capitol Hill to talk to lawmakers about abortion’s prevalence and the need to cover it in a public insurance plan. One million U.S. women need abortions each year, and one-third require this procedure at some point in their lives, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute.

Via their Web sites, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, both with large presences in Washington D.C., are enabling supporters to circulate petitions; to pen letters to the editors of local newspapers; and to lobby their Congressional representatives.

Eliminating Field of Battle

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) threatened to short-circuit the skirmish by eliminating the entire field of battle. On September 16, he introduced a spinoff of the Obama-favored plan that excludes a government program and the abortion politics that go along with it.

Pro-choice supporters argue that covering abortion is necessary to maintain women’s health and women’s rights and is already part of current government policy.

Many point to a July opinion poll by the Washington-based National Women’s Law Center, which indicated that 71 percent of voters favor including reproductive services in health care reform.

Abortion is permitted by law as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and is a standard part of insurance coverage in 80 percent of employer-sponsored health plans, according to the Web site Polifact.com.

Under the 1985 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, laid-off workers can remain on their former employer’s group health plans for 18 months. Federal funding supports COBRA coverage, including abortion services.

“When the President made this announcement, he traded many women’s futures away,” said Stephanie Poggi, executive director of the Boston-based National Network of Abortion Funds. “The poorest women must scrape and skimp–forgoing food, electricity and even risking eviction by delaying rent–to afford abortion services. And now, the President is recommending that we expand this inequality to millions more women.”

Under the 1976 Hyde Amendment, Medicaid (the government’s health plan for low-income Americans) does not pay for elective abortions, but does pay for them in the cases of rape, incest and medical concerns that threaten the mother’s life.

Changing the Hyde Amendment

“We would love it if all poor women were able to get abortions, which would require repealing or changing the Hyde Amendment,” said Dr. Suzanne Poppema, chair of the board for Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. “That’s one of pro-choice advocates’ longer-term goals. But right now, we’re fighting to ensure that the reform bill provides access for women’s health care and that it does not roll back coverage for the reproductive health services that many women already have.”

In his speech, Obama noted that private insurance is three times as expensive as employer-sponsored insurance; that premiums have gone up three times faster than wages; and that 14,000 Americans lose the coverage they need every day due to unemployment and rising health care costs.

To address these problems, Obama recommends creating a public insurance plan that would coexist and compete with private insurers, in the same way that public colleges and universities share their market with private schools.

Americans who could not afford his plan would get need-based tax credits so they could buy coverage.

Obama’s proposal is outlined in H.R. 3200 (America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009)–one of a dozen health-reform proposals now before Congress, and the one with the most support. Legislators may vote on the bill this month.

Though Obama appeared in his speech to soften a long-held pro-choice position, reproductive rights activists are encouraged by the August amendment proposed by Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.). This legislation, absorbed into the official text of H.R. 3200, protects public-option abortion services by cordoning them off from federal funding.

Instead of coming from tax dollars, the money would come from the premiums that individuals pay to join the public plan.

Striking Common Ground

In another pro-choice feature, the amendment says that elective abortion in the public plan could be funded at the discretion of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Current Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has a long-standing pro-choice record.

But the amendment strikes common ground by requiring every state to offer two types of public plans: one that provides abortion coverage and one that does not.

Since Capps introduced her amendment, anti-choice groups have ramped up their media activism.

The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group based in Washington, D.C., ran ads in five states. The ad showed a couple sitting at a kitchen table and grimly commiserating over the man’s inability to get needed surgery through his public Medicare plan while “Planned Parenthood is included in the government-run health plan and spending tax dollars on abortions.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, which supports anti-choice female candidates and is headquartered in Arlington, Va., launched ads in Nevada, home of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, attacking him for “pushing a massive government-run health care system requiring taxpayer funding for abortions.”

Students for Life of America, also in Arlington, asked high school students to wear white T-shirts with the slogan “Abortion is not health care,” while Priests for Life, based in New York, asked people to “pray that the current health care reform bills being debated in Congress do not result in an expansion of abortion.”

Taking effect in 2013 and costing $900 billion over 10 years, H.R. 3200 would necessitate that every citizen carry health insurance and would require companies to cover their employees. The bill would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions and prohibit them from dropping policyholders when they became ill.

The bill would also create an insurance exchange in which individuals and businesses can shop for coverage at competitive prices.

“The exchange would work much like Orbitz or other travel Web sites,” said Tait Sye, a spokesperson for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which is the largest provider of abortion services in the United States. “People shopping for insurance would be able to review the listings in the exchange and then approach representatives from private insurers or the public plan to get details about signing up.”

Molly M. Ginty is a freelance writer based in New York City