The (oxymoronic) “Center for Reproductive Rights” and other abortionists have filed suit to prevent two of the provisions of Texas’ new requirements on doctors who perform abortions – not on the management or owners of the abortion facilities. The new law becomes effective October 29, 2013 and was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
From the on-line, liberal Texas Tribune:
The next stage in abortion rights advocates’ efforts to block implementation of strict new regulations on the procedure in Texas began on Friday, as the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of abortion providers across the state filed a lawsuit in federal court.
Everyone in Texas politics has been waiting for the lawsuit(s) challenging this summer’s hotly debated legislation. Surprisingly, the abortionists aren’t asking the Courts to stop the prohibition on elective abortions after 5 months or on the requirement that abortion facilities meet requirements for Ambulatory Surgical Centers. Instead, only two parts are challenged and both are requirements on the State-licensed doctors, not on the facilities.
The dispute is over the requirement that doctors personally hand the pills for medical abortions to their patients, rather than delegating the dispensing to a nurse or med tech or sending the woman home to take the pill. Doctors must also have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the office or facility where they perform abortions, so that they are able to admit their patients and care for any complications that might arise from the abortions they perform.
The agreement that doctors sign with the company that makes Mifeprex (also known as RU486 or mifepristone) was reaffirmed a year ago by the FDA. By signing the contract with the manufacturer, the doctors pledge that they will dispense the pills themselves. State law now requires them to keep their word.
As to the requirement that the doctors performing surgical and medical abortions maintain hospital privileges: It’s standard of care to expect doctors to care for complications of any intervention they perform – whether it’s setting a broken bone, cleaning an abcess or performing some outpatient surgery such as removing a mole or ingrown toenail. To fail to provide timely follow-up and/or call coverage for after-hours care is abandonment. Why should it be different for Doctors intervening to perform an abortion? When I delivered babies, those of us who were on call for Obstetrics had to be able to physically show up at the hospital (and patients’ bedside) within 30 minutes in order to maintain hospital privileges. My Family Medicine privileges (without OB) required me to be able to respond (if not appear at the hospital) within a certain time. (I can’t remember the specifics, but believe it was similar.)
We’ll see if the Austin-area federal judges think it’s appropriate for the State to regulate the physicians we license. I’m especially looking forward to hearing why the State is “unconstitutional” by holding physicians to a contract they’ve already signed.
I love what Senator Ted Cruz is doing to fight ObamaCare and the Democrats, and totally agree with his stated goal, but strongly dislike one aspect of how he’s doing it.
Unfortunately, Senator Cruz – who was absolutely correct and exactly on target 99% of the time in his 20+ hour stand in the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday – leads his crowd in attacking fellow conservative Republicans who support the House Bill that would fully fund the Federal government except for ObamaCare. This, in spite of the fact that Cruz has said that the fight against ObamaCare is “multistaged,” praised the Bill and House Republicans for their action and even joined in Wednesday’s unanimous Senate vote to consider the Bill in the Senate.
Most people either love or hate Ted Cruz, his agenda and his Senate tactics. There doesn’t seem to be any room for distinction between the Senator, his politics, and his actions. John McCain called him a “wacko bird.” Harry Reid called Cruz an “anarchist” – along with everyone in the Tea Party. Even Dorothy Rabinowitz, of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, went overboard contrasting Cruz and Senator Mike Lee with the “sane” wing of the Republican party. Bloggers and editors, as well as politicians focus more on Cruz’ “self regard,” his certainty that he’s right and everyone else is wrong and his lack of humility, than on the fight to stem the tide of Federal overspending and government interference in our lives. (See Wednesday’s Senate floor rants of Harry Reid And Dick Durbin, with the classic propaganda technique – or possibly, classic psychological projection – of accusing your opponent of doing the worst thing that you’re doing.)
At the same time, Cruz’ supporters have gone out of their way to call any of the Republicans who didn’t “#StandWithTed,” “traitors” and “RINO’s.” They make no distinction between McCain (who is a “RINO” in my opinion), and Texas’ Senior Senator, John Cornyn, promising to “primary” the latter in 2014.
I urge Senator Cruz and all conservatives to work to build up, not tear down. Do not join the Dems in emotional attacks and accusations. Most of all, don’t turn this into a 3-sided fight between the Dems, the Republicans, and the other Republicans.
Edited to add link to article on John Cornyn. BBN
If you only read the headlines and first paragraphs of – or the inflamed comments on – the media coverage of the debate over the Federal budget, you might believe that Republican leaders in the Senate are caving to the Democrats on funding Obamacare. In fact, Senators Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Senate Republicans recognize and support the House Continuing Resolution which fully funds the Federal government while defunding Obamacare.
There aren’t just two sides to the story. In fact, the media reports obscure that there are three factions: Harry Reid’s Dems, Republicans who support for the House continuing resolution, and t In fact, there are three factions: Harry Reid’s Dems, the Republicans who are garnering support for the House continuing resolution, and the Republican efforts led by Senator Ted Cruz to block even the House Bill by filibuster. Hopefully, Senator Cruz will acknowledge that the House CR makes his filibuster unnecessary.
The House Continuing Resolution is a good Bill, allowing the continuation of the Federal government into December. It’s true that the whole budget debate will continue — but wouldn’t it any way?
“. . . graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, get married and stay married.”
Common sense, right? Okay, it’s not as easy as 1-2-3, and association doesn’t equal causation, but who would argue, right?
“Politifact Texas” would. The Politifact.com website claims to fact check political news and news makers’ comments, and has a Texas Edition. In my opinion, they tend to hit such comments from the Left of center. In this case, they seem to go out of their way to prove Texas Rail Road Commissioner Barry Smitherman wrong, but – even by stressing the importance of the economy in the equation – they prove him right.
Take a few steps, Barry Smitherman said, and you won’t live in poverty. Smitherman, seeking the 2014 Republican nomination for Texas attorney general, put his point this way in prepared remarks for an Aug. 26, 2013, appearance before the Texas Alliance for Life: “Several years ago, the Economist magazine published a piece which said that you only have to do three things to guarantee that you will live above the poverty line—graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, get married and stay married.”
The rest of the article traces the history of the publications that make the claims to which Commissioner Smitherman refers.
Bookmark this page: “Choosing Wisely: Lists.”
Whether you are seeing your doctor for a cold, a routine physical or a “new patient visit,” or when you suspect that he’s offering you the
famous notorious “blue pill or red pill,” how do you as a layman know whether a medical test or procedure is needed? Will it lead to a treatment decision or just more tests? Does it help? Or does it actually cause harm?
Or politically, will ObamaCare cost cuts and rationing deny you a procedure, test, or treatment that would be helpful?
The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation asked the various physician sub-specialty organizations in the US to list tests, treatments and procedures that don’t help or might actually hurt patients. The lists are published on the “Choosing Wisely” website.
Remember, there’s a difference between screening tests that look for something you might have, and diagnostic tests to explain a symptom from your history or chief complaint, a finding on an exam or to determine whether a treatment is working or harming. And there’s certainly a difference between starting a treatment, doing a procedure or ordering a test that leads to more risk than the disease or condition we’re treating just because . . . of money, out-of-date knowledge, or patient desire. Or because we can.
Whatever health care problem or concern you have, take a look at the list from the medical specialty for the pertinent body part or organ system. Which tests and procedure do you need, and which have you had that are on these lists?
I don’t quite agree with all the items on all the lists. After all, patient care is not a recipe from a given cookbook – and besides, patients’ bodies can’t read the books to follow the recipes.
Let’s talk! Ask me questions and/or let me translate the jargon.
Nothing in the world is free, but we’re being told that a lot of expensive health care will be, thanks to ObamaCare. Why would anyone think that this time, government interference will result in anything different?
The savings talked about in this article aren’t an option for anyone eligible for Medicare, because few doctors and virtually no surgical facilities are willing to take their cash since any “provider” who enters into these cash-pay contracts must “opt out” of Medicare for two years.
Jeffrey Singer writes about the benefits of self-pay medicine and the hazards of involving a third party in the Wall Street Journal:
This process taught us a few things. First, most people these days don’t have health “insurance.” They have prepaid health plans. They pay premiums to take advantage of a pre-negotiated fee schedule arranged for and administered by a third party. My patient, on the other hand, had insurance.
Second, even with the markdown for upfront “cash-pay” patients, none of the providers was losing money on my patient. Otherwise they wouldn’t have agreed to the prices. With the third-party payer taken out of the picture, we got a better idea of the market prices for the services. It is the third-party payment system that interferes with true price competition, so “market clearing prices” can’t develop.
Take the examples of Lasik eye surgery or cosmetic surgery. These services are not covered by insurance. Providers compete on the basis of quality, outcomes and price. And prices have continually dropped as quality and services have improved—unlike the rest of health care.
When my patient returned for his post-op visit we discussed the experience. It was clear to both of us that the only way to make health care more affordable is to diminish the role of third-party payers. Let consumers and providers interact through market forces to drive down prices and drive up quality, like we do when we buy groceries, clothing, cars, computers, etc. Drop the focus on prepaid health plans and return to the days of real health insurance—that covers major, unforeseen events, leaving the everyday expenses to the consumer—just like auto and homeowners’ insurance.
A little history: Before I went to Medical school, my husband and I felt lucky to have major medical insurance, to cover hospital bills and some procedures. We paid cash for office visits – less than we pay for co-pays now. My first childbirth wasn’t covered by insurance, but we paid less than $1000, including the hospital and the $300 to the doc. Twenty years ago, I received $1100 (Medicaid) to $1800 (Insurance) for pregnancy and delivery Obstetrical care and the hospital charged about the same. Today, the total is $20,000 or more. (In Texas, 55% of those babies are paid for by you, the taxpayer, through Medicaid.)
While some people think our National problems began back when employers first started offering insurance, at least that was insurance and medical costs remained fairly stable until the late 1960′s. The real problems began when Medicare allowed Congress to collect taxes with a promise of a (hospital, Part A) safety net for those over 65, but spent all the money by “loaning” it to the general budget. From the beginning, Medicare inflated costs by encouraging doctors to raise their fees 10% a year. Private health care costs followed or leaped ahead.
Less than 10 years later, the Democrat Congress invented HMO’s in a failed attempt to control costs – but they still didn’t stop spending Medicare and Social Security dollars. A few years later, there was the very mistaken attempt to limit training to cut the numbers of doctors. The Hill-Burton Act, Stark laws, HIPPA, and on and on, further increased the actual costs, the hassle factors, and government ownership of medical care, while promising more by adding outpatient and drug coverage. Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno not only armed Donna Shalala’s Health and Human Services Inspectors, she threatened to prosecute Medicare-eligible patients for contracting private pay agreements with their doctors. She and Shalala held “fraud rallies” in football stadiums with the Director of the FBI, to teach Medicare patients how to turn in their doctors for fraud.
If there is to be a government “solution” (short of getting out of the way), future laws should support innovations like “Direct Primary Care” combined with patient-owned major medical *insurance,* rather than pre-paid health care. For those who truly need help, give tax credits similar to the child credit or even the earned income credit.
Just in case you thought we were exaggerating:
The missed deadlines have pushed the government’s decision on whether information technology security is up to snuff to exactly one day before that crucial date, the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said in a report.
As a result, experts say, the exchanges might open with security flaws or, possibly but less likely, be delayed.
When people try to enroll in health insurance starting on October 1 for insurance plans taking effect in 2014, their identity, income and other information they furnish with their application will be funneled through a federal “data hub.”
The hub is like a traffic circle for data. It does not itself store information, but instead has digital spokes connecting to the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies that will allow it to verify information people provide. Opponents of Obamacare have repeatedly raised concerns that sensitive personal information could be stolen.
Hat Tip to Congressman Michael Burgess and today’s “TMA Member Physician’s Daily”
From the Greg Abbott Campaign website:
Communications Director Matt Hirsch speaks with Dr. Beverly Nuckols on location at The Texas Mailhouse in Austin about the negative impact ObamaCare is having on small businesses and the health care industry, while U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services tries to sell an unworkable, expensive healthcare takeover in Texas.
(I’m a doctor, not an audio/visual expert. And I certainly can’t afford one. Since I can’t get the podcast to embed, so please go to the site. While you’re there, volunteer, donate, help out!)
From the USAToday, August 8, 2013:
When California announced that individual premiums in its health insurance exchange could be 29% lower than expected, President Obama cheered. When Indiana announced premiums might be 72% higher than before, state officials predicted doom. So who is right? Are health insurance premiums going up or down?
We don’t know, at least in part, because both sides are playing with the numbers. To be sure, natural variation exists in how state insurance markets will be affected, but consumers should also be aware of how premium comparisons are twisted to reach predetermined results. Here are five ways they have been slanted: . . .
read more via ObamaCare’s effects difficult to measure: Column.
Edited 8-9-13 – Changed the title and post to make it more clear that this is from the USAToday, not my own writing. BBN
Peggy Fikac once again proves that she’s not a reporter, and most certainly not anything like a fair and balanced media representative.
From the Houston Chronicle’s coverage of events in Austin, today:
“Obamacare is the wrong prescription for American health care, and I will never stop fighting against it,” Abbott said, joined by small business people and a doctor who also oppose the law at a company, the Texas Mailhouse.
One reason that Abbott gave for fighting the law came in response to a doctor who asked him from the audience about what Texas could do to keep the federal law from interfering with doctors’ judgment about the best way to treat their patients.
“You’re raising one of the more challenging components of Obamacare, and a hidden component in a way, and that is government is stepping in between the doctor-patient relationship and trying to tell you what you can and cannot do, interfering with both your conscience and your medical oath to take care of your patient,” said Abbott, who is campaigning to succeed Gov. Rick Perry.
That is similar to arguments raised against tighter abortion restrictions approved in special session, including a ban on the procedure at 20 weeks, along with stricter regulations on clinics and abortion-inducing drugs.
I am that doctor from the audience. Ms. Fikac is correct that I voiced concern over the Federal interference between the patient and the doctor. She’s flat wrong about Texas regulation of medicine by bring abortionists up to standards being equivalent to the
I prefaced the question by noting that it is the State of Texas that properly regulates Texas Doctors and medicine. At the State level, patients and doctors have more influence on our elected officials and the people they appoint to write regulations and enforce the law than we do on the Federal level.
I also noted that because of the increasing interference over the years by Medicare, I am concerned about the reach that this new set of regulations will have, including ever-invasive micro-reporting of patient’s private medical conditions. (I named the upcoming move to the ICD-10, which will be a nightmare, requiring doctors to make distinctions between medical conditions, out to five (5) decimal places.
As bad as the bureaucracy of the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been in the past, I don’t look forward to the additional layer of IRS income verification, audits and enforcement.
We could stick closer to home, with the Texas Health and Human Services, the Texas Medical Board, and the Texas Insurance Commission!
Conscience? More “Trust me, I’ll violate my conscience” news:
Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.
Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.
The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals–and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.
Here’s an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:
“Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.
“Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age.”
While I don’t believe that Plan B is an abortifacient, I do believe it’s a powerful drug and that adolescents shouldn’t be able to buy it over the counter. I also find it hard to trust someone who will agree to go against their conscience!
A real-life, real medicine tale of the risk that doctors face – and are willing to face – when taking care of our patients under arbitrary and often outdated Medicare regulations. It will only get worse under ObamaCare and the IRS.
He was a slender-framed man, mid- to late-sixties, with a kind of ridden-hard-put-away-wet complexion. It was clear the years had not always been good to him, but being the kind soul that he was, he had plenty of friends. It was a beautiful summer day to spend with friends for a barbecue, but he arrived feeling puzzled why he collapsed at home earlier in the day.
He stopped at the keg and poured himself a beer in a red solo cup, and as he approached his friends with a smile, he did it again, this time which such gusto that his beer went flying and the thud he made when he hit the ground made everyone gasp. He laid motionless for a moment face down on the ground while his friends rushed to his aid. An ambulance was summoned as others rolled him over onto his back. He began to move – slowly at first – then more purposefully. As sirens approached, he asked his friends, “What just happened?’
Read the rest of the story here.
The author’s comments:
It is becoming abundantly clear that conflicts between the [sanctity] of human life will confront the government’s unwillingness to pay for procedures. No where is this more clear than with approval of payment for the implantation of an ICD, which might run in excess of $200K for the procedure at some instituions. As a result, doctors who strive to provide state-of-the-art care to their patients will continue to confront similar ethical dilemmas that risk their legal standing (and credentials) as they care for their sickest arrhythmia patients.
By publishing this case scenario, my hope was to draw attention to these ethical dilemmas that are becoming increasingly prevalent in medicine as a result of these outdated, inconsistent, and incomplete coverage decisions, guidelines for care, and “appropriateness use” criteria. Further, the potential for legal action against physicians y imposes real fear for do
ctors if they stray at all from these outdated decisions. This fear is to the point where it might do actual harm – and even cause death – to patients who are left without appropriate treatment as a result.
In spite of repetitive fraud, in spite of Texas’ laws prohibiting sending money to affiliates of abortionists, in spite of all our work.
Planned Parenthood clinics could be facing a legal fight that could keep them from receiving funding for impoverished Medicaid patients.
When the state passed the Women’s Health Program in 2005, legislators said the intent was to provide more family planning services, but not abortions, to low-income Medicaid patients.
State Sen. Bob Deuell said due to a loophole in the law, Planned Parenthood is part of the program, but thinks they shouldn’t be. As such, he has requested the attorney general clear up the matter.
While Sen. Deuell admits he isn’t in favor of Planned Parenthood, he said his “goal is to provide comprehensive care and — abortion issue aside — the Planned Parenthood clinics don’t provide comprehensive care.”
It could take Attorney General Greg Abbott months to give his opinion.
In a brief HHSC officials sent to Abbott, they told him if the agency limits providers based on the way the law currently reads, the state risks violating Medicaid rules. State health officials said that could result in a loss of federal funding for the program.
It’s possible that I can be bought, and no one’s come up with the right amount of money (or pens or pizzas), yet.
Or maybe, just maybe, I’m honest. Of course not!
I’m assumed to be guilty (where’s the opportunity to prove innocence, much less their duty to prove me guilty?) of all sorts of fraud by authors of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act included in the thousands of pages of PPACA – otherwise known as Obamacare:
From now on, companies must keep track of virtually every payment and gift bestowed on each clinician and report them to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which will report them to the world.
This accounting exercise stems from a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that seeks to expose the financial dealings between industry and physicians and discourage conflicts of interest for the latter that might skew education, research, and clinical decision-making. Under the ACA provision, called the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, drug and device makers must report any “transfer of value” of $10 or more made to a physician. Transfers of value under $10 — a cup of coffee, say — aren’t reportable unless they add up to more than $100 in a year. Companies also must disclose whether physicians have any ownership stake in them.
Of course lawmakers assume that we’re being bribed – that’s what they do! Why aren’t the limits at least as high as those our Senators and Representatives are allowed? Like Democrat Senator Harry Reid, can we form a “Friends of Dr. Practice” and get more, as long as we don’t accept donations at our office?
BTW, there’s an app available to help doctors keep up with the bribes.
The $1.4 Million previously reported was the part that Texas will receive, not the total. Can you guess how the (very few) media reports (if you can find them) are playing the story?
From the July 30, Houston Chronicle:
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Tuesday settled a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleged the Houston nonprofit engaged in fraudulent Medicaid billing for $4.3 million – nearly $3 million more than was announced last week by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Yes, Planned Parenthood is quoted as claiming that the settlement for the AG’s finding that they are guilty of over $30M in fraud is “baseless” and simply a way to end harassment and to avoid turning over the (altered) medical records of patients. But the spin on the story is that Texas’ Attorney General, Greg Abbott, didn’t report the total and sent out his announcement before the settlement was signed by all parties.
My news search yields some op-eds and stories by Texas’ newspapers and a few more on pro-life sites.
In the meantime, doctors who still accept Medicare (not hospitals or other “providers”) are facing decreased payments and increased hassles.
As President Barack Obama’s health care law moves from theory to reality in the coming months, its success may hinge on whether the best minds in advertising can reach one of the hardest-to-find parts of the population: people without health coverage.
The campaign won’t come cheap: The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled The Associated Press from federal and state sources.
Brain drain? In DC? Oxymoron?
Now that the time to sign up for exchange coverage is nearing, a Democratic member, Rep. John Larson (D., Conn.), is saying that “this is simply not fair” – as key staff members head for the exits to avoid Obamacare.
Politico reports that “many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain” and notes that “[t]he problem is far more acute in the House, where lawmakers and aides are generally younger and less wealthy.
I wrote this to the San Antonio Express News, in response to an “Other Views” Commentary a couple of weeks ago that claimed our pro-life HB2 violated the “separation of church and state.” It was rife with errors, easily corrected:
1. Abortion isn’t “private.” It is performed by licensed doctors in licensed abortion facilities, under laws regulating the practice of medicine passed by the elected Legislature of the state of Texas.
2. Women’s health and family planning clinics that offer federal and state funded health and cancer screenings and contraception are prohibited by both state and federal law from performing elective abortion. These clinics aren’t licensed abortion facilities and aren’t affected by HB2.
3. After Pennsylvania, Virginia and Missouri passed laws requiring safety standards similar to those in HB2, most abortion facilities in those states remained open.
4. Abortion facilities are allowed 16 months to come up to standard. If abortion facilities close, it will be because business owners decide not to invest in their facilities.
5. HB2, like earlier Texas laws, protects the mother if her life is endangered by continuing the pregnancy.
6. HB2 doesn’t create any criminal charges for the mother, only for physicians who perform illegal abortions after five months.
HB2 does require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in case their patients have complications requiring hospitalization and abortion facilities to meet building standards known to improve patient safety.
More, including some philosophy, via Protect the right to life – San Antonio Express-News.
#Stand4Life: As only a woman with first-hand experience can tell us:
If a woman tells her doctor she wants to have a double mastectomy, the doctor won’t assume she’s made a sound decision. He or she will want to review her health history, get a detailed family history, find out if the woman has tested positive for the gene that will put her at increased risk, and so forth.
Similarly, when a woman expresses her desire to have an abortion, the health care provider should not assume she’s making a sound decision. It is their duty to make sure she understands her Carbaby’s development, including a way for her to see an image of her baby. And if that’s not possible, at least an image of a baby at the same developmental stage. Pregnant women deserve exposure to as much information as possible. I would argue that there is no more serious matter than the creation of a new life, save the destruction of it. This is no time to withhold vital information and resources.
As a point of comparison, several years ago my routine screening mammogram showed something abnormal. The immediate follow up diagnostic mammogram confirmed an abnormal mass. The radiologist brought me into her office to discuss the images with me. She showed me the area of concern. Explained the difference in color and shadow and what that meant. She also discussed why the image suggested a mass that was hard, and why that added to her concern. She recommended we move forward with an ultrasound and a fine needle aspiration. Throughout the entire discussion she checked in to make sure I understood everything. She invited questions. During the fine needle aspiration, she showed me the image on the monitor as she was guided with the needle to the area in question. When she withdrew the contents of the mass, she showed it to me and explained, to our great relief, that it appeared that I had nothing more than a benign cyst.
Looking back, I now realize that I knew more about the cyst in my breast than the 3-month old baby who once grew inside me. And that is dreadfully wrong. Not because I knew too much about the cyst. But because I knew too little about my baby.
Edited – title for typo – 8/1/13 at 7:45 AM — BBN
Oh! What a tangled web we weave . . .
Under a wrinkle that dates back to enactment of the law, members of Congress and thousands of their aides are required to get their coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.
But the law does not provide any obvious way for the federal government to continue paying its share of the premiums for the comprehensive coverage.
(Or, how I ensure that I never run for office in San Antonio.)
For the last few months, the San Antonio City Council has been considering a “Non-discrimination ordinance” in which they pretty much discriminate against the First Amendment rights of free speech or free exercise of religion. If passed, it would prevent anyone in the City of San Antonio from running for office or being appointed to a citizens’ committee – or from holding office if elected – who advocates for traditional marriage or speaks or writes about their religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. It also looks like a great way to slide into a San Francisco-style attempt to give out same sex marriage licenses.
Sec. 2-552. – Appointed Officials, Boards and Commissions.
(a) Appointments to Boards and Commissions.
When making appointments to boards and commissions, the City shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or handicap disability.
(b) Prior Discriminatory Acts.
No person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or handicap disability.
(c) Discrimination by Appointed Officials – Malfeasance.
(1) No appointed official or member of a board or commission shall engage in discrimination or demonstrate a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group of persons, or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or handicap disability, while serving in such public position.
(2) Violation of this standard shall be considered malfeasance in office, and the City Council shall be authorized to take action as provided by law to remove the offending person from office.
Once the City tramples on the First Amendment, it’s not so hard to take (more) control of what should be private property and the free citizen’s means to make a living.
Property owners in San Antonio are no different from those in most cities. They don’t really own their property. They merely pay rent in the form of taxes and fees for the right to use it until a majority of their neighbors – or their elected representatives – decide to take control of a portion of it. If you don’t believe me, just try to build a home 1 foot higher than City ordinance allows or buy a house across the street from Schlitterbahn in my town of New Braunfels with the intention of renting it by the night or week to tourists.
But the new San Antonio ordinance goes a little farther. It doesn’t just prohibit action – it forces action by creating a new Class C misdemeanor for discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. So, everyone who sells their home, rents their property or makes a living as a wedding photographer would now be forced to rent or sell to, or work for people engaged in activities that goes against their religion.
SECTION 10. Discriminatory practices in the provision of public accommodations and housing shall be a Class C misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punishable in accordance with Chapter 1, Section 1-5 of the City Code. The penalties contained herein are non-exclusive and the City shall have any and all remedies to which it may be entitled in law or in equity. The exercise of any penalty or remedy by City shall not be deemed as a waiver of any other remedy to which the CITY may be entitled.
City Council member Diego Bernal has said he plans to take out the section about bias. However, nothing’s official, yet. If you would like to let the Council know how you feel before they consider the ordinance on August 2, you can read the actual ordinance, here. That link also has the names of Council members and their phone numbers.
Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune only sees the political debate behind both HB2′s restrictions on abortion and Medicaid expansion.
The state didn’t expand its Medicaid program, and you’ll still find legislators across the spectrum thinking about the consequences, good or bad.
This summer’s debate on abortion restrictions turned entirely on politics. It wasn’t about the money.
Lay aside the silliness that any Conservative considers abortion simply about the money or politics. Let’s look at the Medicaid debate. Rather than the TT’s simplistic view of “9 Federal dollars for every 1 dollar the State spends,” remember that the operative word in “Medicaid expansion” is “expansion.”
Under the expansion, the only criteria would be income. Any asset test or obligation to look for work would be forbidden by Federal law.
Healthy men and women who choose not to work, not those on disability – and even those whose employers offer some sort of health insurance would have come under the State’s Medicaid. Many more would find it “cheaper” to quit work or avoid work and go under Medicaid and other benefits.(Back when I was delivering babies, I had several two-income families who found it better for mom to quit work after she became pregnant, since Medicaid picked up the cost of insurance and co-pays for her and the kids.)
I remember a tall, healthy-appearing (I’m qualified to judge, BTW) 30-year-old man who testified against HB2 and all its precursors. He not only showed up for repeated Committee meetings, he was there every time there for the House and Senate hearings. He loudly claimed to be a Texas law school graduate who is (STILL!) unemployed – and criticized and ranted at our Legislators for not “giving” him a job and benefits. Who wants to pay his Medicaid?
The expansion wouldn’t significantly cut the oft-quoted high rate of uninsured in Texas, even according to TT’s own numbers. Over 1/2 of Texas’ uninsured make too much money for Medicaid, and 1/3 make more than $50,000 a year. Lawbreaking immigrants (someone’s bound to be insulted if I use the term “illegal immigrants”) make up 1/4 of the uninsured, but they wouldn’t be covered without breaking a few more laws. The disabled, low-income mothers and children and the elderly in nursing homes would have continued to be covered under current programs – at least as long as the money holds out.
A question for @GregAbbott_Tx: When will charges be filed?
Planned Parenthood has been found to be guilty of Medicaid fraud including altering medical records and even making taxpayers pay for abortions! History from California in 2004, New York in 2008, others in New Jersey and Washington state. And now, a settlement for $1.4 Million in 2013 in Texas.
“[W]hat are we to make of a consistent pattern of overbilling and fraud across several states, involving millions upon millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money? Given the impenitent attitude of the Texas affiliates and the Planned Parenthood central command, perhaps it is time to inform Cecile Richards & Co. that orange is the new black.”
“Success in life comes not from the ability to choose between the four presented answers, but from the rather more difficult and painfully acquired ability to formulate the questions.” Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (p. 28). Sentinel Trade. Kindle Edition.
I’m reading “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” by David Mamet. Those of you who follow me on FaceBook or Twitter have probably seen a few quotes that I’ve shared.
I’m afraid that I might be indulging in the same thing Mr. Mamet accuses the Liberal Left of doing: surrounding myself with like-minded thinkers and writers. If so, Mr. Mamet at least expresses himself differently than most of the Conservative writers I read.
As an example, I was struck by his description of the new love story, in which two people who don’t even like each other are thrown together by fate and somehow decide they are meant for each other. This is in contrast to the traditional love story in which a couple first falls in love but are separated by outside forces, finally triumphing by their will to be together. (Compare “Sleepless in Seattle” with the movie it references, “An Affair to Remember.”) The difference is subtle, but one of fatalism vs. making a deliberate, conscious choice.
Mr. Mamet is critical of Liberal Arts education, socialism, “change” and “hope.” He explains why Conservatism is better than Liberalism in phrases that go far beyond sound bites and the bumper sticker he sometimes refers to.
“The Good Causes of the Left may generally be compared to NASCAR; they offer the diversion of watching things go excitingly around in a circle, getting nowhere.”
“The essence of socialism is for Party A to get Party B to give something to Party C.”
“. . . Wrights, Cyrus McCormick, Henry Ford, Tesla, Tom Edison, Meg Whitman, Bill Gates, Burt Rutan, and Steve Jobs. How would they and American Industry have fared had Government gotten its hands upon them at the outset—if it had taxed away the capital necessary to provide a market for their wares; if it had taxed away the wealth, which, existing as gambling money, had taken a chance on these various visionaries? One need not wonder, but merely look around at the various businesses Government has aided.”
“Government itself, where waste is the end product.”
Mr. Mamet’s central point is that culture is the unconscious and pre-verbal adaptation of people that creates predictability, allowing us to get along with one another. When we throw out our culture and try to create a new one, the “change” leads us to uncertainty and the necessity to weigh each new stimulus because we don’t know what it means under the new conditions.
“The tool of culture is the capacity to predict the operation of the social environment—a property right little different from a right in land or wealth. This cultural right exists not limitlessly—for any property right is limited, by chance, death, inflation, erosion, theft, laws, confiscation, etc. but, as with a material property right, founded upon an abstract concept: predictability, which differs from omniscience, but is of immeasurably greater worth than ignorance. Culture exists and evolves to relegate to habit categories of interactions the constant conscious reference to which would make human interaction impossible.”
(Mamet, David (2011-06-02). The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture (pp. 12-13). Sentinel Trade. Kindle Edition.)
He compares the new situation to “The First Night in A New Home,” where each creak or thump is unfamiliar, and could mean danger or nothing. No one gets any rest, many will get angry, and far too many will simply stop evaluating those noises for themselves. In societies, those who stop questioning and wish only for peace, end up ceding their will and ability to innovate and create to the herd.
Kindle will let you read the first chapter, free. (I don’t profit from promoting the book.)
Louisiana has many of the same restrictions on the books, but they passed with few significant fights in the Legislature and none of the massive protests. The state has added nearly any legal limit it can find on abortion — and several that courts have said weren’t legal.
As they have added new statutes, the bills passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support and with Louisiana lawmakers acknowledging that they hope to lower the number of abortions with each restriction.
Unlike in Texas, Louisiana’s debates don’t showcase a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats. A handful of Democrats oppose the abortion restrictions, but often far more of Louisiana’s Democrats vote to support the measures. A few individuals show up to committee hearings to complain about the latest proposed abortion restrictions, but the bills don’t attract widespread outrage.
What is PP doing with the $13 Million grant that the Obama Administration awarded them? Last March, the spokeswoman for the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas was crowing about the future use of the funds.
One thing it’s not doing is funding services in Bryan/College Station, Huntsville, and Lufkin, Texas.
In the meantime, everyone who is worried about low cost or free birth control and family planning should check into the Texas Women’s Health Program. For the most accurate and largest number of TWHP qualified doctors and clinics in your area, Texas’ Department of Health and Human Services has a search engine available here. More information, here. Use the “Advanced Search,” then choose Plan type:”Traditional Medicaid,” Provider type: “Specialist” (although this will actually bring up family physicians and other primary care docs). If you qualified at PP, you should qualify under this program, even if you don’t qualify for Medicaid. These docs give a 6 month or 12 month prescription, and the State will pay for screening, family planning.
File under “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Officers simply gave visitors the choice to throw away their goods and come in or to take them away and leave, he said. No arrests were made, and no jars were confiscated.
Similarly, most of the people who were detained before the night of July 12th were released by police at the Capitol exit door, and allowed re-entry. At least 5 who were arrested for disrupting a House session on July 10th, were released without charges and within 5 hours, according to the Houston Chronicle, when the Magistrate found “insufficient probable cause.” What does that say about Austin/Travis County justice system, that a DPS can arrest a woman, that there are videos all over the ‘Net, and yet the Magistrate can’t find “probable cause?”
Update: one of those women arrested on July 12th was one of the 5 released on the 10th, also according to the Houston Chronicle.
“At what point do humans become human enough to have the right not to be killed? How should society balance protection for women who choose to abort their children with the burden imposed by that protection?
“While 62 percent of Texasi and 59 percent of U.S. votersii support a ban after 20 weeks, opponents of the bill stormed the Capitol, disrupted hearings and threatened lawsuits that will likely decide whether the law is enforced. In the middle of the noise, both sides told legislators painful stories about the effect of abortion on their lives.
“Texas’ new law bans abortion after 20 weeks, based on the possibility that the fetus can feel pain at the lower limit of viability since the lower brain structures are in place, the thalamo-cortical connections are developing and primitive memory and learning have begun.iii There are exceptions for life and permanent injury for the mother and severe fetal anomalies. The law also requires that abortion facilities meet guidelines required of facilities that do similar procedures like D&Cs. Doctors performing abortions must obtain hospital privileges within 30 miles of the facility and follow FDA guidelines for medical abortions.
“Christian doctors are in a unique position to guide the public conversation toward one of ethics, rather than popular opinion, science or law. We must also demonstrate Christ’s healing love and forgiveness to those who are in pain because of abortion.”
. . . [A] Washington Post editorial protests that providing such basic safeguards will mean that “all but one of the clinics probably would close because of the associated costs.”
Such protests tell a lot about a low level of health and safety at those abortion clinics.
Unfortunately, the Gosnell (and, possibly Texas’ Karpen) case tell us more about the effects of not monitoring State laws that are in existence.
But we do have evidence that the current standards are too low for health and safety. Over the last few months, as Texas’ Legislature considered new laws concerning abortion safety, we heard testimony from women who were required to stand in lines in narrow halls while waiting for their abortion, who were forced to walk out of the facility while hemorrhaging, and who were denied privacy. Most of all, we heard that the much touted claim that abortion is between a woman and “her doctor” is often meaningless, since the doctor doesn’t offer continuing care after the procedure.
Evidently, there were men who tried to enter the Senate Gallery ith tampons. Sounds suspicious to me!
“The possession of these and other items is not a crime, and therefore, there was no basis to arrest and detain visitors who possessed such items; however, they were denied access unless they discarded the items,” McCraw wrote. “The Department never took possession of these items and had no justification to do so.”
No officer questioned by the San Antonio Express-News or the Texas Tribune could confirm they had confiscated feces or urine or that they had any knowledge of such items being in the Capitol.
McCraw explained the basis for which officers did not allow feminine hygiene products including tampons and sanitary napkins into the gallery.
“The arbitrary prohibition of feminine hygiene products, for example, on its face would seem absurd,” McCraw wrote. “However, the Department received reports that some visitors planned to throw feminine hygiene products onto the Senate floor. One woman attempted to enter the Senate gallery with approximately 100 feminine hygiene products and she was denied access, as were two men who possessed approximately 50 feminine hygiene products each.”
He also said names of visitors with “suspicious jars or other items” were not documented because they did not commit a crime by possessing them and ”it would be unreasonable to document names of visitors based on what they might or might not do.”
Howard responded to McCraw’s with “disappointment with the lack of clarity that he provides.”
“At the end of the day, we are still left with unsubstantiated claims, allegations of suspicious jars but no actual evidence,” she said. “The lack of onsite documentation or eyewitnesses — either from officers or members of the public — seems to undercut the assertions laid out in DPS’ original press release and now their response letter. To be frank, it doesn’t pass the smell test. ”
McCraw added to the list of items that were confiscated and discarded by police including ”paint, confetti, glitter, bottles of bubbles, bags of balloons (not inflated), handheld air horns, a bag full of tomatoes” and two bricks, which were being used to prop doors open and were not going to be used as projectiles, he said.
The Express-News has requested records from the Department of Public Safety regarding the July 12 searches and items discarded.