Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Indiana Nursing Homes, Pitiful

The Indianapolis Star rates the 510 nursing homes in Indiana by two federal agencies which are pitiful.

We get what we pay for, folks.

If we don't want to pay workers enough so that they can support their families, they will work second and third jobs. If you ever must be taken care of in a nursing home, do you want a tired, exhausted aid looking after you?

Imagine being thirsty and unable to tell anyone. Nursing homes are understaffed and the workers are working for peanuts.

Let's demand better for our seniors. You can find the article here.
Shame Shame on Indiana. Here are some Shameful Facts

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coburn is as bad as they get

The Party of “No” gets ready to strike once more against working families.

As Congress considers much-needed relief for America’s jobless workers and debates proposals to jump-start the economy, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) blocked a stopgap bill to extend jobless benefits, saying its $9 billion cost should not be added to the national debt. Coburn’s block means the Senate, which goes on a two-week recess today, won’t consider helping jobless workers until at least April 12.

This is the same Senator that addressed the Senate a few weeks ago and said that most of the tests that he prescribes for his patients are for him and not for the benefit of the patients.

No physician better ever let me know that any test he's prescribed for me was for his benefit and not mine.

I think this Senator is a crook.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What health insurance reform means for USW members, retirees right now

President Obama has signed historic health insurance reform legislation, a major bill that will help most Americans have health care.

We've put together a fact sheet to help lay out the facts and explain the immediate and longer-term impact. We'll pass along more information as soon as we get it.

Many members are reporting that employers or insurance companies are threatening workers with rate hikes, plan changes and other things because of reform. DON'T LET THEM BULLY YOU. Arm yourself with the facts and stay in touch with your union.

Here are some highlights of what reform means right now for union-negotiated plans and VEBAs:

  • You will NOT lose your union-negotiated private health insurance plans because of reform. Nothing in this bill changes our right to collectively bargain health plans and employers cannot drop existing plans because of reform.
  • Current collectively bargained plans are grandfathered, meaning much of the new law does not apply to those plans until after they expire.
  • We will NOT let employers or insurance companies use reform as an excuse to bully us into unnecessarily expensive premium hikes. Don't let them threaten or intimidate and keep our members informed to combat this.
  • NO high-cost benefits will be taxed under provisions in the Senate reconciliation or "fixes" bill until at least 2018, and the impact of the tax on insurers should be lessened through a variety of changes and exemptions. That bill is expected to be passed by this weekend.
Source: USW Website

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Workers, Retirees Urge Swift Action by Senate

Contact: Connie Mabin, 412-562-2616, cmabin@usw.org
USW Applauds Historic Step for Health Care Reform

Workers, Retirees Urge Swift Action by Senate

Pittsburgh – The United Steelworkers (USW) today applauded the historic vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to pass health insurance reform and called on the Senate to act swiftly on the corrections legislation that will help millions of Americans.

“Today’s historic vote was a huge step in the right direction. Reform will help get our economy back on track by lowering skyrocketing health care costs, saving jobs and relieving working families and businesses from the crushing medical bills that are causing bankruptcy and heartache,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the USW.

“It not only makes sense economically, but it’s morally the right thing to do. Our union has fought for a long time for health care for all. We consider it a basic human right. These reforms are desperately needed and move us a huge step towards that goal. We urge the Senate to act quickly to pass the corrections bill and move this historic legislation to President Obama’s desk,” Gerard said.

The legislation would extend coverage to an estimated 32 million uninsured, bar insurers from denying coverage on the basis of existing medical conditions and cut federal deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

“The bill isn’t perfect, but it makes progress,” Gerard said. “We appreciate so much the members of the House who had the courage to stand up against the right wing and the insurance special interests and stand up for working families, and we look forward to the Senate doing the same.”

The legislation would:
• Extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured persons, assuring coverage for 95 percent of Americans;
• Ensure that coverage is affordable by providing substantial subsidies for middle income families;
• Implement insurance market reforms to outlaw abusive practices by insurance companies, such as denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions;
• Provide assistance to employers and VEBAs to encourage them to continue coverage for pre-Medicare retirees;
• Close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” that costs our seniors hundreds or even thousands of dollars in prescription drug costs; and
• Reduce costs for individuals and businesses by eliminating most uncompensated care, reforming the delivery and provider payment systems, and creating exchanges to facilitate coverage in a cost-effective manner.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. For more information: www.usw.org/

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SOAR President Says:


After a long and difficult fight, together, we made history. I want to thank all of you for everything you’ve done as part of this incredible movement for change in America. You have responded to our every call. You wrote letters, made phone calls, participated in rallies and sit-ins across the country to deliver health care reform to a nation in crisis.

This bill isn’t perfect, but it is a major step in the right direction. It provides us an opportunity to bring much needed health care coverage to all.

Because of your hard work and dedication to this cause, over 32 million uninsured Americans will have access to affordable, quality health care coverage:

The legislation that passed the House would:

  • Extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured persons, assuring coverage for 95 percent of Americans;
  • Ensure that coverage is affordable by providing substantial subsidies for middle income families;
  • Implement insurance market reforms to outlaw abusive practices by insurance companies, such as denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions;
  • Provide assistance to employers and VEBAs to encourage them to continue coverage for pre-Medicare retirees;
  • Eliminate co-pays for preventive screenings to help older Americans more quickly and affordably identify and treat diseases such as diabetes;
  • Cut wasteful spending to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund so seniors can better afford premiums which have doubled over the past eight years;
  • Reduce costly health problems by assisting pre-Medicare retirees with insurance costs and banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions;
  • Close the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” that costs our seniors hundreds or even thousands of dollars in prescription drug costs; and
  • Reduce costs for individuals and businesses by eliminating most uncompensated care, reforming the delivery and provider payment systems, and creating exchanges to facilitate coverage in a cost-effective manner.

Our work is not done; we must call on the Senate to act quickly on the corrections legislation that will make this landmark legislation a reality.

Connie Entrekin

Monday, March 22, 2010

Retirees Praise Historic Health Reform Vote

8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor Washington, D.C. 20006 (202) 637-5399 www.retiredamericans.org

For Immediate Release Contact: David Blank (202) 637-5275
March 21, 2010 dblank@retiredamericans.org

Retirees Praise Historic Health Reform Vote

Will Help Seniors Afford to See a Doctor, Fill a Prescription

The following statement was issued by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to today’s health care vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Today’s historic vote is a bold step toward helping our nation’s retirees enjoy longer, healthier lives. It will help seniors better afford to see a doctor and get a prescription filled.

“This landmark act will help current and future retirees in several specific ways:

• Closing the Medicare “doughnut hole” coverage gap so seniors will no longer have to cut dangerous corners on their medications;
• Eliminating co-pays for preventive screenings to help older Americans more quickly and affordably identify and treat diseases such as cancer and diabetes;
• Cutting wasteful spending to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund so seniors can better afford premiums which have doubled over the past eight years; and
• Reducing costly health problems by assisting pre-Medicare retirees with insurance costs and banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

“This was not an easy vote for some House members. Retirees owe a debt of gratitude to those who displayed political courage by standing up to an insurance industry willing to pay any price to protect its record profits.

“Our work is not done. Today’s milestone is not the final step in the legislative process, and I urge Congress to complete its work on health reform as quickly as possible. Retirees are struggling to get by and cannot afford to wait any longer.

“On behalf of the 4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans, I want to thank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her leadership in bringing us to this historic moment in health care reform.”

# # #

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Video for Joe Donnelly - Catholic

A No Vote Should Mean No More Insurance For Congress

Any member of the US House of Representatives that votes against health care reform should immediately be stripped of his government subsidized health care plan and required to purchase a different plan and be subject to any exclusion for any pre existing condition that member may have.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Joe Donnelly Will Vote YES on Health Care Reform

The U.S. House of Representatives will soon vote on health care reform legislation. This legislation will make health care affordable for the middle class, provide security for seniors, and guarantee access to health insurance for the uninsured – while reducing the federal deficit by over $100 billion over the next decade. This analysis examines the benefits of the legislation in the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, which is represented by Rep. Joe Donnelly.

In Rep. Donnelly’s district, the health care reform bill will:

  • Improve coverage for 412,000 residents with health insurance.
  • Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 181,000 families and 13,500 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
  • Improve Medicare for 108,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 64,500 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 12,900 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Protect 1,800 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
  • Allow 53,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
  • Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 7 community health centers.
  • Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $57 million annually.

Affordable High-Quality Health Care for the Middle Class

Essential health insurance reforms. Approximately 61% of the district (412,000 residents) receives health care coverage from an employer or through policies purchased on the individual market. Under the legislation, individuals with insurance can keep the coverage they have now, and it will get better. The insurance reforms in the bill prohibit annual and lifetime limits, eliminate rescissions for individuals who become ill while insured, ban coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, and reduce the cost of preventive care. To rein in soaring insurance costs, the reforms also limit the amount insurance companies can spend on administrative expenses, profits, and other overhead.

Historic health care tax cuts. Those who do not receive health care coverage through their employer will be able to purchase coverage at group rates through the new health insurance exchange. To make this insurance affordable, the legislation contains the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history, providing middle class families with incomes up to $88,000 for a family of four with tax credits to help pay for coverage in the exchange. For a family of four making $50,000, the average tax credit will be approximately $5,800. There are 181,000 households in the district that could qualify for these credits if they purchase health insurance through the exchange or, in the case of households with incomes below 133% of poverty, receive coverage through Medicaid.

Coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. There are 12,900 uninsured individuals in the district who have pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Under the bill’s insurance reforms, they cannot be denied affordable coverage.

Financial security for families. There were 1,800 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $6,200 for individuals and $12,400 for families who purchase insurance through the exchange or who are insured by small businesses. It also eliminates annual and lifetime limits on all insurance coverage. These reforms ensure that no family will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.

Security for Seniors

Improving Medicare. There are 108,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the district. The legislation improves their benefits by providing free preventive and wellness care, improving primary and coordinated care, and enhancing nursing home care. The bill also strengthens the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its solvency from 2017 to 2026.

Closing the Part D donut hole. Each year, 10,200 Medicare beneficiaries in the district enter the Part D donut hole and are forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs. Under the bill, these beneficiaries will receive a $250 rebate in 2010, 50% discounts on brand name drugs beginning in 2011, and complete closure of the donut hole within a decade. A typical beneficiary who enters the donut hole will see savings of over $700 in 2011 and over $3,000 by 2020.

New Coverage Options for Young Adults

New lower-cost health care options for young adults. The legislation will allow young adults to remain on their parents’ policies until they turn 26. There are 53,000 young adults in the district who could benefit from this option. For individuals under age 30, the bill creates new, inexpensive policies that allow them to obtain protection from catastrophic health care costs.

Helping Small Businesses

Helping small businesses obtain health insurance. Under the legislation, small businesses with 100 employees or less will be able to join the health insurance exchange, benefiting from group rates and a greater choice of insurers. There are 15,600 small businesses in the district that could benefit from this provision.

Tax credits for small businesses. Small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $50,000 will qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 13,500 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits.

Covering the Uninsured

Coverage of the uninsured. The legislation would extend coverage to 95% of all Americans. If this level of coverage is reached in the district, 64,500 residents who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.

Relieving the burden of uncompensated care. In 2008, health care providers in the district provided uncompensated care to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care will be reduced by $57 million.

Supporting community health centers. There are 7 community health centers in the district that provide health care to the poor and medically underserved. Nationwide, the legislation would provide $11 billion in new funding for these centers. If the community health centers in the district receive the average level of support, the 7 centers will receive $9.1 million in new assistance.

Deficit Responsibility

No deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for, in large part by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and excessive profits for private insurers. The legislation will reduce the deficit by over $100 billion over the next ten years and by about $1 trillion over the second decade.

This analysis is based upon the following sources: the U.S. Census (data on insurance rates, small businesses, and young adult population); the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (data on Medicare and Part D enrollment); the Department of Health and Human Services (data on health care- related bankruptcies, uncompensated care, and pre-existing conditions); the Health Resources and Services Administration (data on community health centers); and the Congressional Budget Office (estimates of the percentage of citizens with health insurance coverage under health care reform legislation).

Congressman Kucinich Does the Right Thing

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich did the right thing by coming down on the side of working families and retirees by saying yes to the healthcare overhaul legislation.

Kucinich has always been a friend of workers and seniors. He was holding out in the hopes that members of congress would accept something better such as Medicare for all. Republicans simply wouldn't deny their insurance company pals.

Thank you Dennis Kucinich. You are a champion for Americans.

Now, it's time for my own Congressman Joe Donnelly to also come down on the side of those who put him into office.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Consequences of Inaction

from The Women of Steel

· Rising health care costs are crushing families and businesses, forcing small business owners to choose between health care and hiring and forcing families to make hard spending choices because of rising out of pocket health care costs.

· This problem isn’t going away unless we do right by the American people and fix it. Just yesterday we learned from a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute that if we fail to pass reform, families could see their spending on premiums and out-of-pocket health care costs jump 34 percent by 2015 and 79 percent by 2020.

· Premiums will become increasingly expensive for employers and their workers. Premiums for both single and family policies could more than double by 2020, increasing from $4,800 to $10,300 for single policies, and from $12,100 to $25,600 for family policies.

· And employers could see large increases in premium costs, from $430 billion in 2010 to $851 billion in 2020, a 98 percent increase.

· With premiums nearly doubling, small and medium-sized businesses could be forced to drop their employees’ coverage; the number of small businesses offering health insurance will continue to drop so that less than a quarter may provide coverage in 2020; and offers from medium-sized businesses could drop from 90 percent in 2010 to 75 percent in 2020.

· If we do nothing, the health care system will continue to work better for insurance companies than it does for the American people. And that’s why the President has put forward a plan that will give American families and small business owners more control over their own health care by giving them more consumer protections and shifting power away from the insurance companies.

· Inaction is simply not an option, because we know what that future will look like. Insurance premiums will continue to skyrocket, families and small business will continue to be priced out of coverage, and health care cost growth will continue to increase, putting an unsustainable burden on our fiscal deficit.

· But if we pass health insurance reform, then we know families and businesses will have control of their health care, the insurance industry will be prohibited from continuing its worst practices like denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and we will cut the deficit by up to $1 trillion over the next two decades.

· The stakes are too high for the millions of Americans across the country who are hurting because of the way our current health care system works. They deserve an up or down vote on this issue.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pass the Public Option

Joe Donnelly, Will he or Won't he?

This week, healthcare reform is expected to be voted on in the US House of Representatives.

They will be voting on the bill that was passed in the US Senate and then are expected to follow up with a legislation to make it even better.

My Congressman, Joe Donnelly, has stated that he will not vote for the Senate Bill as it is written.

My bet is that Donnelly will vote yes for the Senate version knowing that is will be followed up with a fix.

According to Families USA, nine people in Indiana die each year due to lack of the unaffordable health insurance.

Joe Donnelly, I'm convinced, will do the right thing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Final March For Reform

The President's Plan For Health Reform

“At this moment, we are being called upon to fulfill our duty to the citizens of this nation
and to future generations... I don’t know how passing health care will play politically, but
I do know that it’s the right thing to do. It’s right for our families. It’s right for our
businesses. It’s right for the United States of America.”



Americans across this country agree that our health care system is broken: Unaccountable
insurance companies ration care, soaring premiums cripple the budgets of our businesses and
families, and vital care remains out of reach for far too many. The time for change has come.

President Obama’s final proposal incorporates the best ideas from both parties to put
Americans in control of our own health care.



  • You will never be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions
  • You will never be hit with arbitrary premium hikes
  • You will never see your coverage revoked just when you get sick or injured
  • You will never face unlimited out-of-pocket expenses for your care

  • If you like your current doctor and you like your current plan, you keep them
  • Uninsured individuals and small business owners will become part of a powerful negotiating pool, just like members of Congress and other federal employees, lowering prices and increasing choice
  • Struggling middle-class families will receive a tax credit to make coverage even more affordable – the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history
  • We’ll save billions of dollars every year by reducing waste and abuse in our current system
  • We’ll save and create millions of jobs, raise wages and strengthen the economy
  • We’ll cut the deficit by nearly $1 trillion over two decades

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Adios Rush

As I understand it, Rush Limbaugh said that if healthcare reform passes, he will move to Costa Rica.

Just think of it---30 million more Americans get healthcare and we get rid of Limbaugh at the same time.

Oh, by the way, Costa Rica has national healthcare.

United Methodist Church on Health Care

United Methodist Church on Health Care

Health care is a basic human right … Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes to all, a responsibility government ignores at its peril. In Ezekiel 34:4a, God points out the failures of the leadership of Israel to care for the weak: “You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured.” As a result all suffer. Like police and fire protection, health care is best funded through the government’s ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities … It is unjust to construct or perpetuate barriers to physical or mental wholeness or full participation in community. We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care. — United Methodist Book of Discipline, Social Principles, ¶162V. “Health Care”

Monday, March 08, 2010

Shame Shame on Indiana

Shameful Facts

Indiana has 52 poorly performing nursing homes, the most of any state in the nation!

- "Nursing Homes: CMS's Special Focus Facility Methodology Should Better Target the Most Poorly Performing Homes, Which Tended to Be Chain Affiliated and For-Profit,"
United States Government Accountability Office, August 2009.

  • Indiana among 10 worst states
  • About half of Indiana's roughly 500 nursing homes offered a 'below-average' standard of care.
  • Nearly 60% have below-average staffing levels.
-Hoosier nursing homes score low: Study, citing too few on staff, rates Indiana among 10 worst states,"
Indianapolis Star, January 6, 2009

"...quality of care and level of staffing have gone down while administrative costs rose 10 percent and owners' equity and facilities' cash balances each rose 30 percent."
-Faith Laird, Indiana division of Aging Director, as quoted by the Associated Press, September 30, 2009

To Help End the Shame

Friday, March 05, 2010

Retirees Despondent After Senate’s Refusal of $250 Payment to Seniors


8815 16th Street, NW, 4th Floor ¨ Washington, D.C. 20006 ¨ (202) 637-5399 ¨ www.retiredamericans.org

For Immediate Release

March 5, 2010

Would Have Helped Many Struggling in Recession with Life-saving Medications

The following statement was issued today by Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in reaction to the Senate’s failure to pass a $250 Economic Recovery payment for seniors, veterans, and persons with disabilities.

“Retirees are frustrated and despondent after both President Obama’s and Sen. Bernie Sanders’ calls for a $250 payment to help those struggling in this recession have so far fallen on deaf ears. This proposed act of compassion, had it passed, would have helped 49 million Social Security recipients, many of whom have seen their retirement savings and home values badly shaken by this economic crisis. This helping hand would have made a real difference in seniors’ lives.

“It was bad enough when retirees were told they would not be receiving a Social Security Cost-of-Living-Adjustment in 2010. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, it is unbelievable that Congress has shoveled hundreds of billions of dollars to Wall Street Robber Barons, yet the Senate has denied seniors a $250 check. That amount would not even cover dinner for one of Wall Street’s fat cats!

“The purchasing needs of seniors are unique, and often include medications needed to stay alive. We insist that the Senate realize the importance of this $250 payment to struggling retirees.”

“Alliance members demand that seniors not be ignored, and will continue their grassroots lobbying in support of this payment.”

The Alliance for Retired Americans is a national organization that advocates for the rights and well being of over 4 million retirees and their families.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Whirlpool Keep it Made in America

By SOAR member, Dave Kobiela

We headed out for Evansville about 8:30 am, almost a 6 hr. drive. When we arrived at Whirlpool, the police were just beginning to set up barricades, and forming a line across the office lawn. Four lanes of traffic in front of the plant, and they blocked off the nearest lane to give us a safety zone along the roadside. Local PD plus lots of ISP, there were no problems with them at all.

Local news had reported possibly 1500 to attend, but the opinion page said “no way will there be anything close to 1500 people showing up…” Well they were right. The police estimate was 5500! Virtually every Union and Trade was in attendance, many with signs, banners and American flags. A Whirlpool refrigerator was delivered and was taken through the police line to the main office doors, but we were not invited in. 70,000 petitions were in the frig, along with 50,000 that had been faxed or emailed the previous day.

The Company officials on the roof who were videotaping us kind of reminded me of my visit to Korea and the DMZ, (but the North Koreans had machine guns pointed as well as cameras!) Demonstrators came from Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as all over Indiana. Coverage from the media appeared quite extensive, and support from passersby, especially semis who slowed to about 10 mph and laid on the air horn, was very positive.

The press conference was at IUE-CWA local 808, and included the Evansville mayor as well as city council and county officials. Also present were NAACP, CLC, and State representatives, as well as a small business owner and a 19-yr. employee, who shared personal stories. A highlight of course were the comments from President Trumka, who assured Whirlpool and everyone else that ” this fight has just begun…”. He also reported that the AFL-CIO had issued a national appeal, and as he spoke, Whirlpool HQ was receiving one phone call every 19 seconds, average length 2:38!

The weather got bad around Anderson coming home, but it was beautiful blue skies and about 45 deg. in Evansville, with a nice breeze to keep all those flags flying proudly. Of course no one knows what effect this will have on Whirlpools’s decision, but notice has definitely been served to them and anyone else who plans to take the money and run.

By the way, the Evansville plant was top rated for quality, safety and efficiency. Jobs in Mexico to pay $3.85/hr, with no benefits! Please Buy American.