A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bush Wipes Hand On Clinton's Shirt

In this video it seems as if former President, George W. Bush is trying to clean his hands on Bill Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with a Haitian man on their trip for earthquake relief.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When health care reform will affect you

President Obama signed sweeping health care reform into law Tuesday. The Senate must now pass a package of changes that will reconcile the differences between Senate and House bills. If those changes are worked out, here is how health care reforms will affect you:

Within the first year
• Young adults will be able stay on their parents' insurance until their 27th birthday.

• Seniors will get a $250 rebate to help fill the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug coverage, which falls between the $2,700 initial limit and when catastrophic coverage kicks in at $6,154.

• Insurers will be barred from imposing exclusions on children with pre-existing conditions. Pools will cover those with pre-existing health conditions until health care coverage exchanges are operational.

• Insurers will not be able to rescind policies to avoid paying medical bills when a person becomes ill.

• Lifetime limits on benefits and restrictive annual limits will be prohibited.

• New plans must provide coverage for preventive services without co-pays. All plans must comply by 2018.

• A temporary reinsurance program will help offset costs of coverage for companies that provide early retiree health benefits for those ages 55 to 64.

• New plans will be required to implement an appeals process for coverage determinations and claims.

• Adoption tax credit and assistance exclusion will increase by $1,000. The bill makes the credit refundable and extends it through 2011.

• A 10 percent tax will be imposed on amounts paid for indoor tanning services on or after July 1.

• Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will get tax credits covering 35 percent of their health care premiums, increasing to 50 percent by 2014.


• Medicare will provide free annual wellness visits and personalized prevention plans. New plans will be required to cover preventive services with no co-pay.

• States can offer home- and community-based services to the disabled through Medicaid rather than institutional care beginning October 1.

• A 50 percent discount will be provided on brand-name drugs for Prescription Drug Plan or Medicare Advantage enrollees. Additional discounts on brand-name and generic drugs will be phased in to completely close the "doughnut hole" by 2020.

• Additional tax for health savings account withdrawals before age 65 for nonqualified medical expenses will increase from 10 percent to 20 percent. Additional tax for Archer medical savings account withdrawals not used for qualified medical expenses will increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.

• A plan to provide a vehicle for small businesses to offer tax-free benefits will be created. This would ease the small employer's administrative burden of sponsoring a cafeteria plan.

• The Medicare payroll tax will increase from 1.45 percent to 2.35 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married filing jointly above $250,000.


• Health plans must implement uniform standards for electronic exchange of health information to reduce paperwork and administrative costs.
• Contributions to flexible savings accounts will be limited to $2,500 per year, indexed by the Consumer Price Index in subsequent years.
• The Employer Medicare Part D subsidy deduction will be eliminated. Employers will lose the tax deduction for subsidizing prescription drug plans for Medicare Part D-eligible retirees.
• There will be increases to the income threshold from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of adjusted gross income. Those older than 65 can claim the 7.5 percent deduction through 2016.
• The hospital insurance tax will increase 0.9 percentage points for those earning more than $200,000 ($250,000 for married filing jointly), and it includes net investment income.
• A 2.9 percent excise tax on the first sale of medical devices will be established. Excepted are eyeglasses, contact lenses, hearing aids or other items for individual use.

• Citizens will be required to have acceptable coverage or pay a penalty of $95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, $695 (or up to 2.5 percent of income) in 2016. Families will pay half the amount for children, up to a cap of $2,250 per family. After 2016, penalties are indexed to Consumer Price Index.
• Workers who are exempt from individual responsibility for coverage but don't qualify for tax credits can take their employer contribution and join an exchange plan.
• Companies with 50 or more employees must offer coverage to employees or pay a $2,000 penalty per employee after their first 30 if at least one of their employees receives a tax credit. Waiting periods before insurance takes effect is limited to 90 days. Employers who offer coverage but whose employees receive tax credits will pay $3,000 for each worker receiving a tax credit.
• Insurers can no longer refuse to sell or renew policies because of an individual's health status. Health plans can no longer exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Insurers can't charge higher rates because of heath status, gender or other factors.
• Health plans will be prohibited from imposing annual limits on coverage.
• Health insurance exchanges will open in each state to individuals and small employers to comparison shop for standardized health packages.
• Credits will be available through exchanges for those whose income is above Medicaid eligibility and below 400 percent of poverty level who are not eligible for or offered other acceptable coverage.
• Medicaid eligibility will increase to 133 percent of poverty for all nonelderly individuals to ensure that people obtain affordable health care in the most efficient and appropriate manner. States will receive increased federal funding to cover these new populations.
• An annual health insurance provider fee will be Imposed across the health insurance sector according to insurers' market share to companies whose total premiums exceed $25 million.

• 2018 Taxing "Cadillac" plans: An excise tax will be imposed on high-cost, employer-provided health plans beyond $27,500 for family coverage and $10,200 for single coverage; it will increase to $30,950 for families and $11,850 for individuals, retirees and employees in high-risk professions.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Health Reform

Rachel Maddow reviews the aggressive tactics used by health reform opponents at town hall meetings around the country to intimidate politicians and the overt strategizing behind the orchestrated outrage to suppress support for reform.

WSJ fails to disclose conflict of interest in health care op-ed

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by radiologist Mark E. Klein criticizing President Obama over the Medicare board's decision not to cover virtual colonoscopies. But Klein performs virtual colonoscopies at his Washington, D.C.-area practice, and the Journal did not disclose his interest in whether Medicaid covers them. Read More

Conservative media cast Democrats as "suicide bombers" in push for health care reform

Reacting to progress on health care reform legislation, conservative media figures have repeatedly referred to President Obama and Democratic officials as "health care suicide bombers" and characterized their efforts to pass a bill as "a kamizake mission" and "political suicide missions." Read More
EXCLUSIVE: Rove distorts Senate report to claim Bush didn't "lie us into war"

In his forthcoming book, which Media Matters obtained in advance of its release date, Karl Rove misrepresents a Senate report to argue that President Bush did not "lie us into war" and that Bush's attempts to link Iraq to Al Qaeda were supported by available intelligence. The report actually found that Bush made statements about Iraq and Al Qaeda that were not supported -- and were even "contradicted" -- by intelligence. Read More

Going Rove: Courage and Consequence is full of falsehoods

Karl Rove's forthcoming memoir Courage and Consequence purports to respond to critics by "putting the record straight," but Media Matters has found that Rove's book is full of falsehoods. Below is an ongoing list of Rove's misinformation in the book, which Media Matters obtained in advance of its scheduled release. Read More

Monday, March 1, 2010

Democrats pounced on both Bunning and his party for "obstructionist politics."

Bunning, of Kentucky , told Democratic colleagues "tough s---" on Thursday when they tried to get him to change his mind about blocking the programs' extension, according to several Senate insiders who spoke only on condition of anonymity.  The Department of Transportation said Monday that Republican Sen. Jim Bunning's blockage of legislation designed to keep a host of federal programs operating forced the agency to furlough nearly 2,000 employees without pay, temporarily shut down highway reimbursements to states worth hundreds of millions of dollars and stalled multi-million dollar construction projects across the country.  Read More.

Friday afternoon, Bunning's regional offices in Hazard and Louisville received bomb threats, according to the Kentucky State Police . Police evacuated the premises and searched the area with dogs but found nothing.  Bunning isn't running for a third term. Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo , a Democratic candidate for Bunning's seat, pledged to hold a protest rally if unemployment benefits are not restored. Mongiardo also encouraged Kentuckians to call Bunning's offices to complain.  During the 2004 campaign, Bunning said Mongiardo, looked "like one of Saddam Hussein's sons." Mongiardo is an Italian-American. Bunning later apologized for the statement.

The impact of Jim Bunning's decision:

1.  Unemployment benefits for 400,000 Americans allowed to elapse.
2.  Triggered the furlough Monday (03/01) of 2,000 transportation workers.
3.  Shut down multi-million dollar construction projects across the country.
4.  Cut Medicare reimbursements to doctors by 21 percent.
5.  Lose access to local televison stations because a copyright law expired Sunday night.


"Jim Bunning has done more to draw attention to the procedural abuses in the Senate than ever before," Van Hollen said. Compared with Sen. Richard Shelby's (R-AL) short-lived "blanket hold" last month, Van Hollen said Bunning's action has done far more to make the Democrats' point that the GOP is holding up the works in Washington.  "This is part of the wake up call for Americans that Republicans are abusing the rules in the Senate," Van Hollen said.  Klobochar agreed. "To see that one Senator could hold up what pretty much everyone thinks would go through," she said, sounding exasperated at Bunning's move, "well, that just makes no sense."  Clyburn continued the theme of the call, stating that how Bunning could do what he did "is beyond me."


Orrin Hatch defends senator's block on unemployment benefits.  Hatch and Bennett voted against the final bill.

Maddow Slams Orrin Hatch For Lying, Washington Post For Printing It (VIDEO)

Senators who stand against the America people -- will stand alone for reelection.


Bill Halter is a solid Democrat, an Arkansas progressive, and a populist leader. He's fought for working men and women and delivered real change for Arkansas. His track record as Lt. Governor proves it.  "Washington is broken. Bailing out Wall Street, with no strings attached while leaving middle-class Arkansas taxpayers with the bill. Protecting insurance company profits instead of patients and lowering health costs. Gridlock, bickering and partisan games while unemployment is at a 25-year high. Enough is enough." -- Bill Halter announcement, March 1, 2010.  Bill Halter gets it. 

Opponent - Blanch Lincoln must go.  Blanche Lincoln is a Wall Street puppet for the insurance industry that has contributed over $2 million to her campaign. While over 56% of Arkansas voters wanted the choice of a public option, Lincoln vowed on the Senate floor she'd filibuster healthcare reform unless the public option was stripped from the bill.


Robin Carnahan is an American politician, daughter of Missouri politicians Mel and Jean Carnahan and the current Missouri Secretary of State. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Carnahan has announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2010, to replace retiring Republican Sen. Kit Bond.