UnionMaine

Trust me, I work for the Government

How Many Candidates for MSEA Vice Pres Job?

As of today there are a possible five candidates for the MSEA Vice President position. Ginette Rivard the current V.P. is running for reelection. Penny Whitney-Asdourian and other unconfirmed candidates. The Stater will have all of the candidates that made the cut off of September 4…….BUT…..

There is at least one candidate who won’t be listed in the Stater as his nomination was not final until today. Me.

A friend and an Executive Board member requested me to run for V.P.. I have always told members that your elected officials should do what they are asked to do by the members and since I was asked I agreed to run and I have been nominated by the Eichel-Crinion chapter out of Augusta.

Second round of the French presidential electi...Image via Wikipedia

I am not running against any other candidate and no one will hear me say anything against another candidate.

I believe I have something of value to offer as your Vice President and that is what I offer, not attacks on my brothers and sisters.

The whole slate of current and possible Veeps have all done good things for our Union, it is my position that if you like the way things have gone the last few years then who you should vote for is clear.

If you want to see change, open government, more member involvement, more information about how our Union is run and to have someone who will have no secret agenda then I will be that person.

I already have a well developed plan to make bargaining more efficient, more representative and open. I have a resolution for convention this October to create a Bargaining Senate that will allow every chapter a voice in bargaining.

There is much more we can do, the focus must be on more than bargaining, more than any one issue. We must change the direction and control of our Union. I will follow this short announcement with details and I am open to have you ask me questions.

I don’t promise answers for everything, if I knew everything I would have picked a better lottery ticket a long time ago. I do promise the truth as I know it. I will give you a clear idea of what I plan to do and how I plan to do it.

All candidates for any elected office in MSEA are offered the opportunity to post on this site, with no editing, just what they want to say. I believe in transparency in the process. As a candidate promising an open Union I think you deserves as much information about all of the candidates as possible so you can make the best decision for us all.

If you have any questions for me, please email me at Tom@UnionMaine.Org

This is the first in a continuing series of informational posts.

Thank you for your consideration
Thomas Maher

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September 11th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | MSEA ELECTIONS, MSEASEIU, Union, union vice president | no comments

Health Care not Insurance company Care.


I found this at Dirigo Blue where Gerald takes on the health care industry, and many more of the hypocrites that infest our airwaves with greed and hate. Yes, that does apply to Glen Goebbels Beck, and Rush to idiocy Limbaugh.

I only give you a preview, go to DirigoBlue for the “rest of the story”. To go directly to DirigoBlue click the title link below.

Reform without a public option is simply giving more money to insurance companies

by: Gerald Weinand

Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 07:05:39 AM EDT

It is pretty simple to understand, which is why it is so frustrating.

If America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200) is to be enacted in anything like its current form, but without a public option, it will only increase the cost of premiums while not providing more health care.

Or, in other words, a windfall for insurers.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
And in Sec. 301. Individual responsibility, every American is required to purchase and maintain “acceptable coverage,”
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

So why are Republicans and those Democrats that are beholden to corporations that donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to them willing to impose this system?

Money.

We can use Medicare Part D as an example ………………………………………………………………………

Part D led to increases in overall pharmacy spending among all beneficiaries,”

“These increases were offset by decreases in spending on other medical care services in those with little or no drug coverage before they enrolled in Medicare Part D,…………………………………………….

Medicare Part D specifically banned the Fed from bargaining with pharmaceutical companies to obtain lower prices. ……………………………………………………………………

Since private insurers would now be required to cover more claims, they will demand ever increasing premiums, and Americans will have no choice but to pay – insurance coverage is mandated.

Think Enron, but on a nationwide scale.

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September 9th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Shut Down Day at the Hampden Rest Area

September 4 members of MSEA handed out leaflets and spoke to the public at the Hampden Rest Area.

We told the Public that we wanted to be working for them, making Maine a better place to live and to visit.

Many members of the public stopped your brothers and sisters to ask why the jobs had been outsourced when there were people who already had the jobs and could do the work.

We had nothing to tell them except that politicians wanted to claim lay offs, never mind the cost. Your brothers and sisters were there and we told people that while we were laid off for the day the State was still paying contractors to do the jobs. No money saved, only political cover.

We do good work, we are less expensive than contractors, we are getting the message out. This is what your Union is all about. Join us when you can.

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September 6th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Does Congress think Public Option Is Too Good For the Public?

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medica...Image via Wikipedia

President Johnson Signing the Medicare Bill


This is an open letter to our Federal representatives from Maine.

You have all received a request for some public information about Health care.

So far your offices refuse to divulge what benefits I pay for as a tax payer. I am asking again in this letter and proving my reasons for asking.


I am not a lobbyist. I am not a CEO.
Will you answer me?

You, our Representatives have “Public Option” , choices provided by the Government, and run by private insurers. If this is so bad why won’t your offices provide the information requested on your plans? Why are some of you against a Public option for us, not just for you?

I called, and emailed your offices requesting help. I want to have some facts on health care to help me make up my mind.

My questions to your offices were few. I requested a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan each Congressional representative has chosen. What is covered? How much does it cost? Who pays and how much? Do I continue to pay for your plan when you retire?
Update 10:50 AM Thursday 9-3-09 I just got a call from Congressman Michaud’s office whose staff has promised to try to get the documents requested. Should take over a week” was the quote.

I already know you have no limits and unlike the insurance your constituents have you are never afraid your plan will be canceled simply because you became sick and needed the benefits.

I have heard health care reform called socialized medicine and when Medicare, Veterans care, and more were pointed out as Government run programs many members of Congress sat by quietly either not supporting health care reform or trying to ignore taking a stand.

You and all members of Congress have a public option plan. One of the best plans available with choices that allow you to choose the plan that fits your stage of life, your family and your budget.
Some Republicans and some Democrats are willing to avoid this truth and refuse to let the rest of
America share in the same health care you receive the moment you are sworn in.

We already have a public option for health care. Why can’t I join up? What is it we are asking for?
The public wants what you are reserving for yourself, as a Federal employee, with a public option
How many choices does the public have? If you work for a private employer you are normally limited to whatever they offer and what ever changes they make you can like it or lump it. Federal Employees, Congress included, have the largest selection of plans in the country.

Don’t like your plan? Kids leave home? Married? Want a high deductible plan or a plan that covers everything? Every year a Federal employee, Congress included, can change their health insurance.

You can not be denied coverage even if you have a pre-existing condition.
Is there choice when using a public option? Federal employees are able to choose from Blue Cross, Humana, Aetna, United HealthCare and several more.

A member of Congress can choose:
Health Plan Choices for Congress. Too many, too confusing, too affordable for the public?
TYPES OF PLANS
Fee-for-service plans and health maintenance organizations (HMOs).
Fee-for-Service Plans
You may choose your own physician, hospital, and other health care providers.
Fee-for-service plans include:
  • The Government wide Service Benefit Plan, administered by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association on behalf of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, and is open to everyone eligible to enroll under the FEHB Program.
  • Plans sponsored by unions and employee organizations. Some of these plans are open to all Federal employees who hold full or associate memberships in the organizations that sponsor the plans; others are restricted to employees in certain occupational groups and/or agencies. Generally, the employee organization requires a membership fee or dues paid directly to the employee organization, in addition to the premium. This fee is set by the employee organization and is not negotiated with OPM.
Several Health Maintenance Organizations
Your physician is responsible for obtaining any pre-certification required for inpatient admissions or other procedures.
Three types of HMOs are:
  • Group Practice Plans.
  • Individual Practice Plans.
  • Mixed Model Plans.
Point of Service
High Deductible Health Plans
Your health plan establishes for you either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA).
Consumer-Driven Health Plans
A consumer-driven plan provides you with freedom in spending health care dollars the way you want. The typical plan has common features: member responsibility for certain up-front medical costs, an employer-funded account that you may use to pay these up front costs, and catastrophic coverage with a high deductible. You and your family receive full coverage of in-network preventive care.
Choices, choices, choices. Do you think this is just too confusing for the public?

As a State Employee I have health care. My health care costs nearly $6000.00 a year for family coverage.

Then I have deductibles, then I have co-pays, then I have the Republican party attacking the benefits I have as “golden” while Congress continues to reserve the public option for the select few.
What do you pay Representative? What are your benefits and Co-pays?

I asked your offices and been blown off, ignored, and told to go find it my self. Are you afraid of the truth? Who do you represent, Mainers or the health insurance industry?
Some Federal employees pay under $100.00 per month for single coverage. Congress has the same choices as other Federal employees, so what does it cost? How much is the tax payer paying for you?
I keep hearing “the government will control your doctor, and ration your care.”
Is this true now? When you seek medical care, do you deal with with a government agent or do you make health choices between you and your doctor?
Congress makes the laws, if you didn’t like your health care you would have changed it in the same way the Senate made the hard choice to refuse to raise the minimum wage for years while providing themselves a $30,000.00 a year raise. The Congressional plan you have is the same plan some call “government run”.
The public option is the same plan Congress has and wants to keep for itself. The members of Congress who are violently against a public option view Americans as stupid, lazy, and gullible.
If Congress blocks a public option, then the insurance industry will continue to grow richer. The millions of uninsured will not be able to afford effective insurance just because you pass a mandate.

If you mandate coverage with no public option insurance companies will simply offer a product guaranteed to cover them, not us and we will be paying tithes to companies and receiving no benefits in return.
Why should you be concerned?
The health care debate won’t affect
your coverage and your family will never go without needed care.
Congress will keep their government “Public Option” health care no matter what happens to us.

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September 3rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Health Policy, Healthcare reform, MSEA, MSEA ELECTIONS, Medicare, Thomas Maher | no comments

What does Senator Snowe want for her Vote for Health Care?

WASHINGTON - MARCH 31:  Senate Finance Committ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

August 30, 2009

WASHINGTON – As Congress and the Democratic Majority run up against the clock. The public is demanding action and the Democrats are risking being laughed out of office if the majority folds to the Republicans on the most important legislation in decades.

Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine may be the deciding vote on Health Care. With Ted Kennedy gone her vote from the ignored upper right hand corner of the nation becomes pivotal.

As a member of the gang of six her swing vote could put her in an unwanted spotlight.

When asked if she could be the only Republican voting with Senate Democrats “I certainly hope not,” was Senator Snowe’s quick answer.

Ms. Snowe and two Republicans, Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Michael Enzi of Wyoming, have been the Republican half of the Gang of Six, a nearly secret committee trying to reach a compromise on health care.

Senator Enzi today made his no compromises stance more clear as he said Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country’s “finances sicker without saving you money.

As time goes on the Republicans have made it clear they will accept no legislation that change their positions aganist any approach to health care that cuts into insurance agency profits or attempts to provide true consumer protections.

The amount of behind the scenes talk and open speculation about the amount of leverage held by Senator Snowe is causing Democrats and her constituents, some of the poorest in New England, What does Olympia Snowe want?

Unlike some Senators Olympia Snowe is respected by both sides for her principled stand, and careful deal making on issues. Don’t expect to see two new airbases open or a bridge built from Portland to Bangor.

Senator Snowe has broken with her party on other issues but expressed the need for the Democrats to to scale back their health care plans.

While Senator Snowe won’t take bribes she will do what she thinks is best for the people of Maine. How much are the Democrats willing to offer and how much will she turn down for her State just to hew to the Republican line?

Sounding almost like a Democrat Senator Snowe about health care that even those who are satisfied with their current coverage will not stay satisfied, with the rapidly rising costs and steadily shrinking benefits.

Senator Snowe, ignoring Republican cries to toe the line, been willing to show some interest in a public option on a national scale, option, but prefers a “trigger” that would not put the public option in place unless the private insurers fail to lower costs on existing or new plans.

She also favors a reinsurance program that would have the federal government protect insurance company profits by having taxpayers cover the costs of catastrophic health care costs, in the name of lowering private premiums.

Some have said this is only a way to raise private insurers profits, not lower costs to the public.
This plan would most likely only allow insurance companies to further pad their profits by continuing to insure only the health while dropping the sick when they most need coverage.

Senator Snowe, with her history of compromise,her seat on Finance Committee, and her position representing a poor State, along with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy makes Senator Snowe the primary Democratic target.

Democrats a now one vote short of the 60 needed
to overcome a Republican filibuster and the Democratic need, for the moment, for at least one Republican ally has become critical.

Senator Snowe must also consider that Democrats are facing pressure at home to drop bipartisanship as a failed attempt. There is nearly no hope on the left that the Republicans would fund a band aid, never mind a health care plan.

Expecting help from Senator Snow is not simply a dream, she is one of three Republicans that voted with Democrats to pass the stimulus spending.

In the past Senator Snowe has not reflexively supported all tax cuts and has tried to rein in a rising federal deficit while demonstrating the ability to split from Republicans and vote with Democrats when she agrees with the principles.

Republicans see Senator Snowe as turncoat, and they are painting her as a dupe, claiming the Democrats are using her participation as an excuse to claim any bill passed as a bipartisan effort.

Rush Limbaugh and even some sane Republicans have called Olympia Snowe a RINO, meaning a Republican I Name Only.

Senators Snowe and Collins have become the some of the last survivors of a vanishing breed, Republican in New England, by sharp politics, not by blowing in the wind.

Senator Snowe still hopes for a successful plan to be developed by the Gang of six, but her leverage may be coming to an end. The Republican inability to compromise as the party of NO may be forcing the Democrats to turn to a plan that only requires 51 votes to pass.

Senator Snowe has to very careful of her timing and her demands or her influence will wane and Maine will have trouble getting Congress to fund snow shovels in January. So,,,,What does Olympia Snowe want, and will she wait too long and lose the leverage she has to gain an advantage for Maine? What does Senator Snowe want for her vote for Health Care with a Public Option?

First, I know she doesn’t want health care for herself, she has the best health care tax money can buy. In a continuing series on this site Senator Snowe’s office continues to ignore requests for copies of her health plan and the costs to the taxpayer.

As Congress and the Democratic Majority are running up against the clock. The timer is running out for them to do something instead of running from the Republicans.

The public that elected them and can elect them again is demanding action and the Democrats are risking being laughed out of office if the majority folds to the Republicans on the most important legislation in decades. Democratic office holders should remember that apathy for Republican candidates by Republican voters played a large part in the GOP defeat in 2008.

Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine may be the deciding vote on Health Care. With Ted Kennedy gone her vote from the ignored upper right hand corner of the nation becomes pivotal.

As a member of the gang of six her swing vote could put her in an unwanted spotlight.

When asked if she could be the only Republican voting with Senate Democrats “I certainly hope not,” was Senator Snowe’s quick answer.

Ms. Snowe and two Republicans, Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Michael Enzi of Wyoming, have been the Republican half of the Gang of Six, a nearly secret committee trying to reach a compromise on health care.

SenatorEnzi today made his no compromises stance more clear as he said Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country’s “finances sicker without saving you money.

As time goes on the Republicans have made it clear they will accept no legislation that change their positions aganist any approach to health care that cuts into insurance agency profits or attempts to provide true consumer protections.

The amount of behind the scenes talk and open speculation about the amount of leverage held by Senator Snowe is causing Democrats and her constituents, some of the poorest in New England, What does Olympia Snowe want?

Unlike some Senators Olympia Snowe is respected by both sides for her principled stand, and careful deal making on issues. Don’t expect to see two new airbases open or a bridge built from Portland to Bangor.

Senator Snowe has broken with her party on other issues but expressed the need for the Democrats to to scale back their health care plans.

While Senator Snowe won’t take bribes she will do what she thinks is best for the people of Maine. How much are the Democrats willing to offer and how much will she turn down for her State just to hew to the Republican line?

Sounding almost like a Democrat Senator Snowe about health care that even those who are satisfied with their current coverage will not stay satisfied, with the rapidly rising costs and steadily shrinking benefits.

Senator Snowe, ignoring Republican cries to toe the line, been willing to show some interest in a public option on a national scale, option, but prefers a “trigger” that would not put the public option in place unless the private insurers fail to lower costs on existing or new plans.

She also favors a reinsurance program that would have the federal government protect insurance company profits by having taxpayers cover the costs of catastrophic health care costs, in the name of lowering private premiums.

Some have said this is only a way to raise private insurers profits, not lower costs to the public.
This plan would most likely only allow insurance companies to further pad their profits by continuing to insure only the health while dropping the sick when they most need coverage.

Senator Snowe, with her history of compromise,her seat on Finance Committee, and her position representing a poor State, along with the death of Senator Edward Kennedy makes Senator Snowe the primary Democratic target.

Democrats a now one vote short of the 60 needed
to overcome a Republican filibuster and the Democratic need, for the moment, for at least one Republican ally has become critical.

Senator Snowe must also consider that Democrats are facing pressure at home to drop bipartisanship as a failed attempt. There is nearly no hope on the left that the Republicans would fund a bandaid, never mind a health care plan.

Expecting help from Senator Snow is not simply a dream, she is one of three Republicans that voted with Democrats to pass the stimulus spending.

In the past Senator Snowe has not reflexively supported all tax cuts and has tried to rein in a rising federal deficit while demonstrating the ability to split from Republicans and vote with Democrats when she agrees with the principles.

Republicans see Senator Snowe as turncoat, and they are painting her as a dupe, claiming the Democrats are using her participation as an excuse to claim any bill passed as a bipartisan effort.

Rush Limbaugh and even some sane Republicans have called Olympia Snowe a RINO, meaning a Republican I Name Only.

Senators Snowe and Collins have become the some of the last survivors of a vanishing breed, Republican in New England, by sharp politics, not by blowing in the wind.

Senator Snowe still hopes for a successful plan to be developed by the Gang of six, but her leverage may be coming to an end. The Republican inability to compromise as the party of NO may be forcing the Democrats to turn to a plan that only requires 51 votes to pass.

Senator Snowe has to very careful of her timing and her demands or her influence will wane and Maine will have trouble getting Congress to fund snow shovels in January. So,,,,What does Olympia Snowe want, and will she wait too long and lose the leverage she has to gain an advantage for Maine?

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August 30th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Health care, Insurance, Mike Enzi, Olympia Snowe, rush limbaugh | no comments

Chellie Pingree Pulls Ahead, First Congress person to Respond

SMP 2008 chellie pingreeImage by samm4mrox via Flickr

This is the third part of a series testing how our elected officials in Maine respond to a question from a Citizen about their federal health care plans.

Recap: Senators Snowe and Collins, Representatives Michaud, and Pingree were asked for copies of their health care policies and what the costs are to the public and to them.
They were also asked how much of those health care benefits will carry into retirement if they become vested.

Remember, this is public information, hard to find but public. You and me and your neighbors pay their salaries. We pay for their benefits, or at least some part of those benefits.

Snowe’s office refused Collins office very politely said, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Michaud’s office, also politely gave me the brush off.

Congress Woman Pingree’s office sent a response, and then a follow up response when I pointed out that they may have misunderstood my question.

The response is coming later in this post. One out of three elected officials, two answers and one of them advice to “go find it yourself”. The other answer a polite follow up along with an a second follow up, without the information, but seriously leaving the door open to belief that we have at least one Congressional representative that cares about the people of Maine.

In all fairness I will copy the three posts on this topic, forward them to the Congressional offices involved in case I just hit one day of bad customer service in three cases.

Thank you, Congress woman Pingree and thank you Mr. Ritch for the emails.


Dear Tom,

Let me see if I can dig up that information for you.

Willy

On 8/25/09 8:47 PM, “NarsBars” <NarsBars@UnionMaine.Org> wrote:

Mr. Ritch,
Thank you but my question was more specific. I would like a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan Congresswoman Pingree elected and a break down of the costs for that plan allocated to the Congresswoman and the taxpayer. I realize this is public information but my intent is more than health care, it is to measure and demonstrate the help or lack of help each federal office holder in Maine is willing to provide to the public as opposed to a lobbyist.
I am afraid my contributions to Congresswoman Pingree will not get me an invitation to chat on the phone.

I look forward to that information, as Senator Snowe’s office has told me to “go look it up” . I am publishing all of the answers I receive or the lack of them in a continuing series on my blog Http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com <http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com/>

Thank you,
Thomas Maher


From: Willy Ritch [mailto:willy.ritch@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:45 AM
To: narsbars@unionmaine.org
Subject:


Hi Tom,

I understand you had a question about health care benefits that Members of Congress are eligible for. They actually have a choice of a bunch of plans, and I think this LA Times article describes it pretty well:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-congress-benefits2-2009aug02,0,7524121.story

Let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,

Willy

Willy Ritch
Communications Director
Policy Advisor
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
willy.ritch@mail.house.gov


P.S. Check out Congresswoman Pingree’s web site.

Here is a summary of Congresswoman Pingree’s stance on health care during 2002.


Allow states to negotiate lower drug prices

Pingree will push to increase the bargaining power of states. Maine has led the way in attempting to lower drug costs for all residents by negotiating with drug companies for lower prices. However, states need more flexibility from the federal government to negotiate lower prices through the federally funded, state-administered Medicaid program. The creative work done in the states should not be tied up at every turn by this powerful industry. States should be allowed more flexibility under the law to seek creative solutions. Any state should be able to negotiate for lower prices from drug companies that provide drugs to the state’s Medicaid program — and pass those discounts on to anyone who lacks prescription drug coverage, not just those on Medicaid.

Source: Campaign website, www.PingreeForSenate.com, “Health Care” Sep 26, 2002

Fight drug companies to make generic drugs available

Pingree will push to make lower priced, quality generic drugs available to consumers. Many people could save enormous amounts of money by buying high-quality, lower priced generic drugs, which often cost 25-60% less than expensive name-brand drugs. However, pharmaceutical companies use their influence to keep quality generic drugs off the market,. National drug policies should lower the barriers erected by the big drug companies and make quality generic drugs available to consumers.

Source: Campaign website, www.PingreeForSenate.com, “Health Care” Sep 26, 2002

Patient’s Rights to protect privacy

Pingree called for passage of a National Patients Bill of Rights that includes additional privacy protections for patients. “Keeping your medical records protected from the marketing departments of the pharmaceutical companies is a basic right that patients deserve,” said Pingree. “A National Patients Bill of Rights that includes privacy protections will ensure that doctors and heath care professionals — not big drug or insurance companies — make important heath care decisions.”

Source: Campaign website, PingreeForSenate.com, “Patients Rights” Aug 28, 2002

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August 29th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Dear Tom, Health care, Maine, Olympia Snowe, United States Congress, United States House of Representatives | no comments

Health Care Reform. Part two. They don’t get it.

Chellie PingreeImage via Wikipedia

In part one of health care reform, I asked Senators Collins, Snowe, Michaud, and Pingree, for copies of their insurance policies and what the real costs and benefits are. How good are the plans, how much do they cost you and me?

Snowe’s office told me to go find it myself, they refused to talk.
Michaud sent and answer, but while polite it didn’t say anything.

Collins office, roughly translated said we’ll get back to you.

Pingree’s office sent a response tonight. I include the response, which answered none of my questions and my return to her office.




From: Willy Ritch [mailto:willy.ritch@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 9:45 AM
To: narsbars@unionmaine.org
Subject:


Hi Tom,

I understand you had a question about health care benefits that Members of Congress are eligible for. They actually have a choice of a bunch of plans, and I think this LA Times article describes it pretty well:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-congress-benefits2-2009aug02,0,7524121.story

Let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,

Willy


Willy Ritch
Communications Director
Policy Advisor
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
207-774-5019 (Maine)
202-225-6116 (Washington)
willy.ritch@mail.house.gov

Mr. Ritch,

Thank you but my question was more specific. I would like a copy of the explanation of benefits for the plan Congresswoman Pingree elected and a break down of the costs for that plan allocated to the Congresswoman and the taxpayer. I realize this is public information but my intent is more than health care, it is to measure and demonstrate the help or lack of help each federal office holder in Maine is willing to provide to the public as opposed to a lobbyist.

I am afraid my contributions to Congresswoman Pingree do will not get me an invitation to chat on the phone.

I look forward to that information, as Senator Snowe’s office has told me to “go look it up” . I am publishing all of the answers I receive or the lack of them in a continuing series on my blog Http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com

Thank you,

Thomas Maher


The following was not in the letter, it is just my feelings.


We elected Democrats and if even they won’t tell us how much we are paying them, what next? This is my money! I want to know what you are being paid!

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August 25th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, Healthcare reform, Olympia Snowe | no comments

You think so, do you? Don’t think about it alone, let everyone hear it.


Marine Bumper StickersImage by JasonTromm via Flickr

Go ahead, click on the link at the bottom of the post. Trust me, I work for the Government.


You won’t win a mysterious lottery, start or stop growing hair. Healthcare, do you care? The latest State Employee Contract…..like it or hate
http://unionmaine.informe.com/

Loyal AMG reader? Left Wing tree hugger? Click the link and be the first to start your own topic.

Bumper sticker car parked in Santa Cruz, Calif...Image via Wikipedia


http://unionmaine.informe.com/

Go ahead, if you don’t like what happens you will be in the right spot to do something about it.

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August 23rd, 2009 Posted by narsbars | As Maine Goes, Health, Left-wing politics, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, public option | no comments

Will Our Representatives Help a Mainer Who is Not Rich or a Lobbyist? Will They Even Answer Questions?

BalanceImage via Wikipedia

Unionmaine is taking on both the Democrats and the Republicans that represent Maine on the health care debate. There are a lot of rumors going around, the “Obama will kill your grandmother” and “it’s unfair to health insurance companies” buzz so I have decided to get some facts.

Continue reading at the bottom, I will update this post as answers or lack of answers show up. The first answer is from Congressman Michaud.

The first thing I would like to give our representatives a chance to tell the whole truth about is their so called “Golden Health Care”. Do they pay all of it? Do they pay some of it? Does Congress get a lot more than the regular citizen?

I don’t know so I called their offices to ask.

We will get a chance to see how well our representatives respond to a member of the public. On Wednesday, August 19, I called Senator Snowe, Senator Collins, and representatives Michaud, and Pingree. I made two statements and asked a question. I said I was strongly in favor of a public option for any health care plan and second, that I was also a blogger. I further said that the reason for my call was to judge the responsiveness of our representatives to a request for information!

The responsiveness to a citizen is my real motive, I used the health care question because it is in the news, I am interested, and our representatives have had months to prepare for any kind of question from the public.

Will they give an answer? Remember, everything I asked for is public information, I only asked for help as a citizen for information that could help to decide which way I should continue to feel about a public option.

I asked each office for a copy of the explanation of benefits for the health care plan the Senator or representative had had elected to participate in and a financial statement for how much the tax payer paid and how much the representative paid.

Senator Snowe’s office was simply rude. I was told that it is public information, go look it up. I asked for a link to the information and again I was refused. I asked for an email, and got a big NO. Senator Snowe’s office would not even agree to send me an email with a refusal. I was told they don’t do email.

So much for Senator Snowe.

Senator Collins Office took my request and said they would “look into it”. While it sounded like a brush off we will see.

Representative Michaud’s office, while polite gave much the same answer.

Representative Pingree’s office asked questions about what I was doing, what I wanted and the woman who took the call was both polite and professional without giving any promises, except that whatever decision was reached, they would let me know.

I was not seeking detailed financial records from our representatives. I would think they would have been prepared for questions like these already. This investigation into ”responsiveness and effectiveness” in our federal representatives will let us know how they feel not so much on health care, but about us. If they send the information, good and if they will or they won’t Mainer find public information that will show what level of respect they have or do not have for the voters.

I asked for the following:

  • A listing of the total cost for each representative and Senator for the health care plan they have enrolled in.
  • A listing of the tax payer contribution to the plans.
  • Their personal costs for their health care plans.
  • A copy of their explanation of benefits from their plan to include deductibles, limitations, drug benefits etc.

  • How long do they have to work for the Federal Government before they are vested in their health care plans and do they continue to receive those plans upon retirement?
  • Do they pay for their plans in retirement?

Either the information or the refusal to help will become public–just as the debate in the House and Senate picks up. Senators and representatives might think a little differently about how and who they represent. If the public sees Congress receiving a golden plan far better than the one they are willing to pass for us, or if we see a plan just like any Wal-Mart employee could buy it will help us to understand how our representatives view us and our needs for care.

If it is a great plan we will have to ask Congress to stop obstructing reform may change their commitment from obstruction to progress pretty quickly

August 21 Congressman Michaud

This is my reply, read on for the Congress critter’s answer.


Congressman Michaud,

Thank you. My request was for a copy of your explanation of benefits booklet for your federal insurance and a financial breakdown of how much you pay, how much the tax payer pays and whether your insurance will continue when you retire.

Please see my article at http://www.unionmaine.blogspot.com/2009/08/will-our-representatives-help-mainer.html where I have published my request to the whole Maine delegation. This form letter addresses very little of my request.

Please let me know if you intend to provide the information. Senator Snowe has already refused although her office agreed it was public information.

Thank you,

Thomas Maher



From: me02@housemail.house.gov [mailto:me02@housemail.house.gov]
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2009 5:28 PM
To: NarsBars@TDS.net
Subject: A Message from Congressman Michaud


August 21, 2009

Mr. Thomas Maher


Dear Thomas:

Thank you for contacting me regarding healthcare reform in the United States. One of the most important parts of my job is to hear the many perspectives from the people I represent. That’s why I come back to Maine almost every single weekend – so I can stay in touch with what’s on the minds of the people of Maine’s Second Congressional District.

It is clear that our health care system is broken. Premiums have doubled in nine years and have grown three times faster than wages, which is squeezing everyone’s ability to make ends meet. Average American families already pay an extra $1,100 per year in premiums to support a broken system with 46 million Americans uninsured. Soaring costs harm the competitiveness of American businesses in the global economy and eat up a larger chunk of our gross domestic product every year. We have the most expensive health care system in the world with our country spending almost 50% more per person on health care than the next most costly nation. But we’re no healthier for it. As such, if we do nothing, in a decade, we’ll be spending $1 of every $5 on health care. In 30 years, it will be $1 of every $3.

Health care reform is too big of an issue to rush, and it’s important that Mainers know what it consists of before Congress votes on it. That’s why I recently sent a letter with my colleagues that asked congressional leaders to promote an open and bipartisan process that allows Members of Congress and the American people sufficient time to review the bill and add their input. Our letter also requested that Congress live up to the President’s goals of passing comprehensive reform that is deficit-neutral and that lowers costs for our families and businesses, increases the quality of care provided, and expands access for every American. In addition, we urged congressional leaders to make sure that small businesses and rural areas are treated fairly in any reform efforts. My signing of this letter was in no way an attempt to disrupt the process or water down a public insurance option, but rather a request for thoughtful consideration of the most important public policy issue of our time – with probably only one chance for us to get it right.

H.R.3200, America’s Affordable Health Choice Act, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14, 2009. By preserving choice of doctors, hospitals, and health plans, this legislation would uphold President Obama’s promise that anyone who is satisfied with their current health insurance plan should be allowed to keep it. Additionally, H.R.3200 would make investments to promote prevention and public health programs, reduce waste and fraud, and expand the health care workforce. Medicaid coverage would be expanded to all individuals with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Finally, H.R.3200 would create a self-sustaining public health insurance option, providing an affordable option to the millions of Americans without coverage.

I support a public insurance option, but I also believe that it is important that it be affordable and properly structured to address the needs of rural states like Maine. One such very serious concern with the current draft of the bill is that using Medicare-like rates for a public option would have a grave effect on Maine. Currently, the formula used to reimburse physicians and hospitals through Medicare puts rural states at a disadvantage by undercutting payments to our health care providers and contributing to higher health care premiums in Maine. Making matters worse, there is a severe shortage of health care providers in our state, and this number will continue to decrease unless we can develop a reimbursement system that will not drive our providers out of business and, ultimately, out of Maine altogether.

I strongly believe that we need to pass a fiscally responsible reform plan that fixes what is wrong with our healthcare system while preserving what works. Individuals that are satisfied with a private health insurance plan should be allowed to keep it. Furthermore, I do not support proposals to tax current health care benefits to finance reform or any measure that will place an excessive burden on small business owners. President Obama and the U.S. Congress must work together in a bipartisan fashion to deliver a plan that considers the many positive aspects of the American health care system and includes the best elements of the plans put forward so far.

Over the next few weeks, three House committees will work to merge their versions of health care reform into one package. The Senate is also working on a bipartisan way forward. Recent agreements reached in the House are likely to improve the legislation, making reform work better for Mainers and our small businesses. Current information, as well as the full text of the legislation, is available by going to http://www.michaud.house.gov and clicking on “Health Care Reform.” I remain hopeful that this process will produce strong legislation that will lower costs, expand coverage and improve quality for all Americans.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. In addition, I also provide occasional email updates on a range of issues affecting people in Maine. If you would like to receive this information, please visit my website at http://www.michaud.house.gov/enewsletter and sign up for my email newsletter. I appreciate the opportunity to represent you.

With warmest regards,

Michael H. Michaud

Member of Congress

Stay tuned, I really want to see what healthcare Congress carries and why you and I should not have access to the same plan.


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August 21st, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments

Health Care Reform. They don’t care who dies.

great hedImage by Esthr via Flickr


Health Care Reform, Lies and Lies. They don’t care who dies.

The Republicans said Obama will come to your house at night and kill your grandmother.

Half trained idiots led by the real death panel supporters are trying to shout down the voice of reason in town meetings while claiming their rights are being violated.

I heard a woman call a talk show, saying that her husband had health care from the military, she was old enough for Medicare and she damn well didn’t want anyone to start any kind of government run health care.
What she had worked, and she did not want the government involved.

Every time they tell another lie and get caught they just want to tell more. I don’t understand the stupidity of people with no health care or lousy health care defending the right of insurance companies to have death panels while demanding that no one cut into the billions of dollars in profits the companies make.

Some of the Real facts:
The U.S.A. does not have the worlds best heath care…….unless you are rich.
The U.S.A. does not have the worlds best child mortality rate………unless you are rich.
The U.S.A. has some of the worst preventive medicine in the major industrialized countries.

The U.S.A. spends twice as much on health care as the rest of the major industrialized nations and receives less, and worse care.

If you don’t believe any of this, research it, cross check it. It is hard to lose your pride but that is what the likes of Limbaugh are selling.

You can be a proud American, get sick and die, but you will die proud………and ignorant.

An emergency room will fix your broken arm, but if you need therapy to keep from being paralyzed, that is not covered.

Do your kids need braces to keep from looking like Horace the horse? I did, and without a good health care plan I hope your kid likes sugar cubes

The Repulicans said that AARP did not support health care reform. Watch the ad and decide for your self.

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August 18th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Uncategorized | no comments