Friday, May 4, 2012

OBAMACARE WORKS: New Health Care Options for Uninsured Marylanders // PLUS: Gov. O'Malley on Health Care Reform


Help Marylanders get the healthcare they deserve. If you or a friend is uninsured, see if you qualify:

REMEMBER: ObamaCare was never sold as a deficit-reduction measure. It is about saving lives and reducing pain.

GOV. O'MALLEY DEFENDS OBAMACARE: Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday had an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun defending President Barack Obama's universal health care plan (aka Obamacare). With the Supreme Court taking up legal challenges to the new law, Gov. O'Malley hopes to highlight benefits of Obamacare in Maryland (see excerpt below):
MARTIN O'MALLEY: With the Supreme Court reviewing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is no shortage of legal analysis to handicap the decision. But unfortunately, not enough attention has been paid to the real value this law provides to millions of American families and businesses.

As governor, I have heard from families unable to purchase coverage at any price because of pre-existing illness, from seniors forced to choose between medications and energy bills and from businesses required to drop employee coverage to stay afloat. These stories represent failures that reach far beyond the individual people harmed. They put us all at risk, for a health care system that supports a healthy workforce at reasonable cost is essential for job growth and our success in the global economy....

Thus, the ACA provides states with a vital toolbox made effective by the support and resources of the federal government.

At the top of the toolbox: key insurance protections. Chronically ill children can no longer be denied coverage in the private market because of pre-existing conditions. More than 50,000 young Maryland adults have joined 2.5 million across the country to benefit from the new provision permitting them to stay on their parents' coverage until age 26. The law's ban on insurance companies' practice of imposing arbitrary limits on coverage has already given this real protection to more than 2 million Americans.

Recently, Maryland's bipartisan health reform council heard from a young woman with a rare kidney disease who lost her job and insurance in the economic downturn. No carrier in the private insurance market would offer her coverage. She found insurance through a high-risk pool authorized and funded by the ACA — a program that now supports more than 50,000 Americans.

WE LOVE OBAMACARE // NEW COVERAGE OPTION FOR UNINSURED MARYLANDERS: Maryland Juice finds it amusing that Republicans have taken to using Obamacare as a pejorative term. I think we should just co-opt the term and take full credit for expanding health coverage in the United States. See below for an example of one clear result of Obamacare in Maryland. We received an email from the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP) about a new option for uninsured Marylanders. Maryland Juice took the opportunity to ask a few questions about the plan, and we received useful responses, which we provide below. If you or someone you know lacks health coverage due to a pre-existing condition, please read the information below:
MARYLAND HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN: In Maryland, 720,000 people are uninsured. That's nearly 1 in 10 people who might not have access to the medical care they need or deserve, and many of these are simply because they had a condition that major medical insurance companies won't cover. I am writing on behalf of the Maryland Health Insurance Plan (MHIP Federal) in hopes that you will join forces with us to get the word out about our program. Thanks to legislation recently passed, MHIP Federal provides quality health insurance and restores quality of life to Marylanders who have been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition.
MHIP Federal did emerge from Obama's health care reform package. In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act established a federal high risk pool for US citizens and lawful Maryland residents who have pre-existing medical conditions and have been without health insurance coverage for at least six months. MHIP is contracted with the US department of Health and Human Services to operate the federal high risk pool for Maryland (MHIP Federal).

MHIP Federal and MHIP Standard (the Maryland-specific program) are the only insurance programs in the state specifically for those who are uninsured due to a pre-existing condition. MHIP Federal is indeed often a "last resort" for members who, due to a pre-existing condition, were denied by other medical insurance companies, or were only offered coverage at an astronomical cost because of their condition. However, any Maryland resident who has a qualifying medical condition and has been uninsured for at least six months can get coverage with MHIP Federal - they do not have to have been denied. In terms of coverage, MHIP Federal has partnered with CareFirst to provide insurance that is comparable in both coverage and cost to the insurance available on the market.
This year, our team is increasing our efforts more than ever to make sure that everyone knows about this option for affordable, comprehensive medical coverage in Maryland. That's why we just launched a brand new website,, which I hope you'll check out. We were also particularly excited to be featured in The Baltimore Sun recently: We would be very grateful for your partnership in spreading the word any way that you can!
MHIP Federal/@MHIP_Federal helps Marylanders get the healthcare they deserve. If you or a friend is uninsured, see if you qualify:

A NEW SILENT MAJORITY? - Maryland Juice has always wondered whether Americans really think health care is a privilege and not a right. The media coverage of rightwing activists ranting about universal health care and death panels has always seemed unrepresentative to me. But, in truth, I've been waiting for the rest of America (ie: not Tea Party) to wake up and start countering the madness. Now that the GOP Presidential candidates have spent months advertising their Party's insanity to the world, I think it is about time for Democrats and ordinary Americans to fight back.

In the late 1960's, Republican President Richard Nixon spoke with disdain about Americans who protested against the Vietnam War at the time. He called those who did not participate in the counterculture of the time "the silent majority." The term has since become quite popular in our national political culture. Wikipedia notes:
WIKIPEDIA: The silent majority is an unspecified large majority of people in a country or group who do not express their opinions publicly. The term was popularized (though not first used) by U.S. President Richard Nixon in a November 3, 1969, speech in which he said, "And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support." In this usage it referred to those Americans who did not join in the large demonstrations against the Vietnam War at the time, who did not join in the counterculture, and who did not participate in public discourse. Nixon along with many others saw this group of Middle Americans as being overshadowed in the media by the more vocal minority.

THE REPUBLICANS ARE THE PROBLEM: The current political counterculture right now is not on the left. Most of the high-profile activity we are seeing is on the right (ie: from Ron Paul to Sarah Palin to Rick Santorum). Maryland Juice believes that with the collapse of the modern Republican Party, we are witnessing the formation of a new silent majority -- and it consists of people who think the GOP has gone insane. The ranting from the Tea Party against ObamaCare should've been their first warning. But now even conservative scholars are blaming the Republicans for the drift. The bi-partisan think tank duo of Norm Ornstein (AEI) and Thomas Mann (Brookings) recently penned an op-ed in The Washington Post that has been widely circulated among politicos. It is a worthwhile read (excerpt below):
Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem

By Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein

Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates.

It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted.

We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

“Both sides do it” or “There is plenty of blame to go around” are the traditional refuges for an American news media intent on proving its lack of bias, while political scientists prefer generality and neutrality when discussing partisan polarization. Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct.

The post-McGovern Democratic Party, by contrast, while losing the bulk of its conservative Dixiecrat contingent in the decades after the civil rights revolution, has retained a more diverse base. Since the Clinton presidency, it has hewed to the center-left on issues from welfare reform to fiscal policy. While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post....

The GOP’s evolution has become too much for some longtime Republicans. Former senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska called his party “irresponsible” in an interview with the Financial Times in August, at the height of the debt-ceiling battle. “I think the Republican Party is captive to political movements that are very ideological, that are very narrow,” he said. “I’ve never seen so much intolerance as I see today in American politics.”

And Mike Lofgren, a veteran Republican congressional staffer, wrote an anguished diatribe last year about why he was ending his career on the Hill after nearly three decades. “The Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe,” he wrote on the Truthout Web site....

We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality....


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