Tag: Keith Olbermann

To Keith Olbermann: Let’s All Take Credit for “Medicare Part E” and Get It Done Already

I was listening to Countdown this evening listening to Keith Olbermann pat himself on the back for calling for a "rebranding" of the term "public option." Olbermann suggested calling the alternative to for-profit health insurance "Medicare Part E — ‘E’ for ‘Everyone.’ "

That’s a great idea, but Keith is hardly the first to name the new plan. For that, I credit Thom Hartmann, who wrote on September 9, 2009:

The President this morning admitted on national television that he lost control of the message with health care. It’s time to reboot – and use a very, very, very simple message so all Americans can understand it.

Let’s use Medicare, which nearly every American understands. Just create “Medicare Part E” where the “E” represents “everybody.” Just let any citizen in the US buy into Medicare.

It would be so easy. No need to reinvent the wheel with this so-called “public option” that’s a whole new program from the ground up. Medicare already exists. It works. Some people will like it, others won’t – just like the Post Office versus FedEx analogy the President is so comfortable with.

Just pass a simple bill – it could probably be just a few lines, like when Medicare was expanded to include disabled people – that says that any American citizen can buy into the program at a rate to be set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which reflects the actual cost for us to buy into it.

Thus, Medicare Part E would be revenue neutral!

To make it available to people of low income, Congress could raise the rates slightly for all currently non-eligible people (like me – under 65) to cover the cost of below-200%-of-poverty people. Revenue neutral again.

This blows up all the rumors about death panels and grandma and everything else: everybody knows what Medicare is. Those who scorn it can go with United Healthcare and it’s $100 million/year CEO. Those who like Medicare can buy into Part E. Simplicity itself.

And there’s more. Hartmann’s analysis also appeared in CommonDreams.org.

I don’t want to detract from Mr. Olbermann. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn thanked Keith publicly this evening on Countdown, saying he heard the term first from Mr. Olbermann, and at least one Blue Dog Democrat has thrown his support behind Medicare Part E. Medicare Part E would not be single payer. Since everyone is taking credit, I’ll pat myself on the back also for writing this on August 7, 2009. However, I only wrote that after I heard the term "Medicare Part E" first on Thom Hartmann’s radio program, at least a month before he wrote his analysis. And, to be honest, my call was for a single-payer system. “Medicare Part E” would be an opt-in insurance program, entirely optional. Do you like your for-profit health insurance company? Well, you’ll be allowed to keep it.

Olbermann’s commentary is from his special commentary on October 7, nearly a month after Thom Hartmann:

Once you said "Medicare For Everybody," there would be just as much to explain. If you were under 65 you’d be paying for it. You wouldn’t have to buy it. You wouldn’t have to change from whatever you have now. There are just as many caveats.

Still, the intent of all this would be clearer. Much of the criticism of health care reform is coming from those who have or are about to get Medicare and, in confusion, in fear, in the kind of indescribable realization that we are far closer to the end than to the beginning, they are suddenly mortally afraid that health care reform will take it away from them. "Medicare For Everybody," might not be literally true, but instead of terrifying, it would be reassuring. And the explanations and the caveats would be listened to, and not shouted down, as anger and fear — fear, remember, of death – swell up inside.

Thom Hartmann has been on Countdown before. Keith, invite him back and give him credit as well. After all, the best ideas always happen when no one cares who gets the credit.

I’m cautiously optimistic that this will actually happen.

Keith deserves credit for his incredible commentary. Thom Hartmann deserves credit as well. Let’s all take credit for the concept, the name, and make "Medicare Part E for Everyone" finally happen.

Pappy Bush Loses It, Calls Olbermann and Maddow ‘Sick Puppies’

Yes, you heard right. It’s true. Former President George H.W. Bush actually lowered himself to take a shot at MSNBC news anchors Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow “sick puppies.” The nation’s forty-first president made these remarks in an interview with CBS radio purportedly as a means of explaining why there is a lack of civility in politics today.

"I don’t like it," Bush said. "I think the cables have a lot to do with it. I’ll take you back to when I was president we got tons of criticism but didn’t seem day in and day out quite as personal as some of these talk show people."

"And it’s not just the right," Bush 41 continued, "There’s plenty of people on the left. If you want me to name a couple of names I’ll be glad to do that for you."

"Go ahead," the CBS reporter says.

"Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow," Bush said. "I mean here are a couple of sick puppies."

"And the way they treat my son and treat anybody that’s opposed to their point of view is just horrible."

Reached by phone, Karl Rove said, "Irony is dead."

Okay, I just made up that last quote.

I now present Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann in “The Response”:

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Olbermann: Insurer Ends Health Program, Calls High-Cost Patients “Dogs”

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Here’s the beginning of the story from the Washington Times:

Ian Pearl has fought for his life every day of his 37 years. Confined to a wheelchair and hooked to a breathing tube, the muscular dystrophy victim refuses to give up.

But his insurance company already has.

Legally barred from discriminating against individuals who submit large claims, the New York-based insurer simply canceled lines of coverage altogether in entire states to avoid paying high-cost claims like Mr. Pearl’s.

In an e-mail, one Guardian Life Insurance Co. executive called high-cost patients such as Mr. Pearl "dogs" that the company could "get rid of."

A federal court quickly ruled that the company’s actions were legal, so on Dec. 1, barring an order by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Pearl will lose his benefits.

His medical treatment costs $1 million a year.

Most of that is for ’round the clock, in-home nursing care – for operation of his ventilator, hourly breathing treatments and continuous intravenous medication.

(Corrected paragraph:) A Guardian spokesman said policies such as Mr. Pearl’s – which offered unlimited home nursing – had simply become too expensive for new small-business customers to buy, and that even Medicaid and Medicare do not cover 24-hour home nursing. His parents, Warren and Susan Pearl of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said their health insurance premiums had risen over the years to $3,700 a month.

You can contact Guardian Life Insurance Company here.

And now for your moment of Zen…

President & CEO Dennis J. Manning touts Guardian Life’s financial strength on the company’s Web site:

Two Rating Upgrades 
Guardian earned upgrades from two major credit rating organizations in 2008, a distinction that no other major life insurer can claim. We were one of only five life insurers upgraded by Standard & Poor’s, which raised our rating to AA+ (Very Strong). Additionally, noting Guardian’s “superior capitalization,” “successful execution of key strategic initiatives,” and our “comprehensive risk management strategy,” A.M. Best Company awarded us its highest rating, A++ (Superior). Only six other life insurers received ratings upgrades from A.M. Best last year.

Operating on Firm Financial Footing 
Guardian generated good financial results last year, in spite of challenging economic conditions. Pre-tax statutory income – the primary way we build capital and surplus – was $267 million. Capital, which serves to cushion potential adverse events and functions as a source of continuing future income, was $4.3 billion at year end. And our capitalization ratio, a standard industry measure of capital strength, was 14.7%. We believe this ratio is among the highest in the life insurance industry.

Record Dividend Payout
Guardian’s solid financial results, supported by a prudent investment strategy, allowed us to avoid many of the losses suffered by so many other companies and put us in a strong competitive position, which we leveraged to benefit policyholders. We declared the largest ever dividend payout in our 149-year history, paying a record $723 million dividend to policyholders in 2009, $60 million more than we did in 2008.

Good for them.

Remember 37-year-old Ian Pearl on December 1, 2009,

Keith Olbermann’s Closing Commentary on Health Care Reform

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If you missed Countdown tonight, at least watch the last 11 minutes of tonight’s show, which was dedicated in its entirety to a call for health care reform.

I was expecting a rant.  Instead, Keith personalized the issue by talking about his father. This was no rant.

Olbermann’s right.  We need the medical community on our side.

Go to MSNBC to watch the entire show.

GOP, Conservative Media Trying To Scare Granny to Death

The GOP and conservative media are falling all over each other trying to save the for-profit health insurance industry from having to compete with a modestly-run government health insurance program similar to Medicare.  Their efforts will no doubt become even more frantic in response to a just-released New York Times/CBS News poll:

Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll found that most Americans would be willing to pay higher taxes so everyone could have health insuranceand that they said the government could do a better job of holding down health-care costs than the private sector.

Yet the survey also revealed considerable unease about the impact of heightened government involvement, on both the economy and the quality of the respondents’ own medical care. While 85 percent of respondents said the health care system needed to be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt, 77 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their own care.

That paradox was skillfully exploited by opponents of the last failed attempt at overhauling the health system, during former President Bill Clinton’s first term. Sixteen years later, it underscores the tricky task facing lawmakers andPresident Obama as they try to address the health system’s substantial problems without igniting fears that people could lose what they like.

Across a number of questions, the poll detected substantial support for a greater government role in health care, a position generally identified with the Democratic Party. When asked which party was more likely to improve health care, only 18 percent of respondents said the Republicans, compared with 57 percent who picked the Democrats. Even one of four Republicans said the Democrats would do better.

The ruling ultra-conservative wing of the GOP is doing everything possible to scare seniors to death over the proposals.


A campaign on conservative talk radio, fueled by President Obama’s calls to control exorbitant medical bills, has sparked fear among senior citizens that the health-care bill moving through Congress will lead to end-of-life “rationing” and even “euthanasia.”

The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary (emphasis added).

But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as “guiding you in how to die,” “an ORDER from the Government to end your life,” promoting “death care” and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to “kill Granny.”

Note again, “The counseling sessions would be voluntary.”

I’m lucky, my doctor also teaches other doctors.  He loves to talk and teach.  Many physicians charge for advice.  These sessions offer simple counseling about end-of-life options that no one likes to think about in advance, but we all know it’s wise to do so.  A Living Will is a good thing.  Right now Medicare does not cover this counseling.

Why would Republicans and the conservative media want to deny Granny and Grandpa the ability to receive counseling from the professionals uniquely qualified to offer such advice? Rachel Maddow calls this malicious crowd the “deathers.”

Granny and Grandpa can relax. And change the channel: turn off FOX Noise, shut off Rush. Watch Rachel and Keith.

They might also want to call their congressman and tell them to back health care reform.  This plan is a huge step forward for all Americans.

Gail Collins on Sarah Palin’s Implosion

Once again, the best I can say is I have no idea why Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska.  Why show you’re not a quitter by quitting?  Why leave the highest office you’ve ever held?

Nothing about this move makes sense.

Gail Collins shares her thoughts at the New York Times.  Collins quotes from Palin’s rambling press conference:

“And a problem in our country today is apathy,” she said on Friday as she announced that she would resign as governor of Alaska at the end of the month. “It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow.’ Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow.’ No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time … to BUILD UP.”

Basically, the point was that Palin is quitting as governor because she’s not a quitter. Or a deceased salmon.

Sarah Barracuda made her big announcement Friday afternoon on the lawn of her home to an audience that appeared to include only Todd, the kids and the next-door neighbors. Smiling manically, she looked like a parody of the woman who knocked the Republicans dead at their convention. She babbled about her parents’ refrigerator magnet, which apparently had a lot of wise advice. And she recalled her visit with the troops in Kosovo, whose dedication and determination inspired her to … resign.

“Life is about choices!” declared the nation’s most anti-choice politician.

Is this a brilliant move (as Mary Matalin asserts)  for a rising star launching her run for the White House?  Collins comments:

So if she’s starting to run, it will be as the same reporter-avoiding, generalization-spouting underachiever that she was last time around.

Now we know she not only doesn’t have the concentration to read a policy paper, she can’t focus long enough to finish the job she was hired to do.

I want to hear George Will try to spin this one.

And you betcha I’m looking forward to commentary from Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and David Letterman.

Mancow Gets Waterboarded, Admits It’s Torture

Friday morning, WLS radio show host Erich “Mancow” Muller agreed to be waterboarded on his show.  He wanted to find out for himself if it was torture.  He didn’t think it was.

He lasted all of six or seven seconds before finally “throwing in the cow” and giving up.

From NBC 5 Chicago:

“I want to find out if it’s torture,” Mancow told his listeners Friday morning, adding that he hoped his on-air test would help prove that waterboarding did not, in fact, constitute torture.

The debate over whether waterboarding constitutes torture reached a fever pitch this week as re-ignited claims that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew as early as 2002 about waterboarding techniques being used, and former Vice President Dick Cheney and President Barack Obama gave “dueling speeches” Thursday.

Listeners had the chance to decide whether Mancow himself or his co-host, Chicago radio personality Pat Cassidy, would undergo the interrogation method during the broadcast.  The voters ultimately decided Mancow would be the one donning the soaked towel and shackles, and at about 8:40 a.m., he entered a small storage room next to his studio that was compared to a “dungeon” by Cassidy.  “The average person can take this for 14 seconds,” Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, “He’s going to wiggle, he’s going to scream, he’s going to wish he never did this.”

With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand,  Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.

Turns out the stunt wasn’t so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop.  He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke, “Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child.  “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back… It was instantaneous…and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.”

Next up: George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Sean Hannity.  Hannity still has to make good on his promise to be waterboarded.  Keith Olbermann has offered to do the honors — for charity.

What’s the problem, Hannity?  Gonna let Mancow show you up?

Olbermann to Cheney: “You’re Lying”

Keith Olbermann at his best, taking Dick Cheney to task over his recent absurd remarks criticizingthe Obama administration.

Great line: “Mr. Cheney, which orifice are you pulling these numbers from?”