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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

Sen. Olympia Snowe has the vote that could swing the debate on Health Care. How will she vote?

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 10:  U.S Sen. Olympia Sno...Image by Getty Images via Daylife


She has raked in over $1 million in contributions from the health care industry.

Senator Snowe may end up the deciding vote on one of the issues that brought Democrats into power. The overhaul of the health care system so the system provides health care instead of profits to a few is a priority among many liberal voters. A public plan for insurance coverage is the only viable choice against the smoke screen of compromises floated by the right.

Olympia has been around a long time and knows how to be a power broker; hers was the only GOP signature missing among members of the Senate Finance Committee missing from a letter sent to the White House week opposing a public option. The downside is that she is pushing her own “trigger” compromise that would still effectively kill any meaningful bill.

All I need to know is that insurance companies support the bill.

How will Senator Snow vote?

She has a strong record of support for women and the disadvantaged.

Received over $400,000 from the insurance industry.

$400,000 from “health professionals”.

$135,000 from hospitals and nursing homes.

$100,000 from pharmaceutical and health products companies.

Over $60,000 from health services and HMOs.

See: records from the open-government group.

Donors include the PACS for the American Medical Association , Aetna Inc , and the American Hospital Association.

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June 16th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Aetna, American Hospital Association, Health, Health care, Insurance, Olympia Snowe, Republican, White House, public h | no comments

Who needs Big Government?


I found this at the DailyKos. Is smaller government better? Would it give you more money in your pocket? I needed something light today after listening to Olympia Snowe smack down a right wing talk show host on WVOM when he asked her about the stimulus leading to the dreaded Universal Health care. The scary thing is she sounded like someone I could vote for. I need to sit down and take it easy for a while.

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February 12th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Employee Free Choice Act, MSEA-SEIU, MSEASEIU, Maine State Employees, Olympia Snowe | no comments

Chellie Pingree Candidate for Congress

Chellie Pingree, candidate for Congress in Maine’s First Congressional District sent in her Biography and the candidate, through her campaign office has agreed to answer questions from readers. What do you want to ask? Sign up for this site, and then place your questions in the comments. We will accept questions until until December 21 but let’s give the candidate a break and not look for answers until after Christmas. I really didn’t know enough about the candidate until I read her biography found here. The record is impressive. The real measure of a candidate is not what they promise but who they are and what they have done. I have written to our two Republican Congressional representatives and they have never bothered to answer. The one time I requested help for a State violation of the Federal Fair Labor Standards act, Snowe’s office finally sent me a message saying it was a State matter. What part of “Federal Fair Labor Standards Act” didn’t she want to understand?
Since the last Congressional election cycle the voters know they can regain control of their country. Please read the candidate’s Biography and check out her voting record. Andy Stern should be hoping she wins.
A couple of excerpts.

Chellie Pingree’s Labor Record

1992 – 2000: Knox County Senator and Senate Majority Leader

…State Senator, including four years as Senate Majority Leader….Chellie demonstrated her strength as a lead and fighter for workers’ rights and the labor movement……She also was a strong supporter of expanding workers’ benefits……Chellie voted…to allow workers to sue their employers and to limit mandatory overtime…she also supported legislation to ban professional strikebreakers. ..note how many battles Chellie fought with labor by her side and vice versa. From corporate accountability to fair pricing of prescription drugs, Chellie’s relationship with labor runs deep and has produced some remarkable victories for the people of Maine.

Pingree’s AFL-CIO COPE Rating

1994:

90%

1996:

93%

1998:

100%

1999:

100%

2000:

100%

Pingree on the Issues 1998-2000

Corporate Accountability: Pingree

sponsored Legislation….so the (State)…could get money back from companies that move jobs out of state. In 1998, Pingree worked with workers and union leaders to pass LD 2243 …….If a company doesn’t comply with the standards laid forth in the Act or fails to create or maintain the jobs as promised in its incentive package, the…provision of the Act kicks in and mandates that the violating company must return all money back to the state. [LD 2243,1999] (Editor: Imagine that, if the company lies, they have to give back the money. I LIKE it!)

Living wage: ….. “We shouldn’t subsidize businesses with economic development incentives and then have to subsidize those workers to get off of food stamps and Medicaid,”


Organizing: Pingree voted to allow legislative workers to join unions. (LD 2096, 4/7/98)

Family and Medical Leave: Pingree voted to expand family and medical leave. (LD 406, 5/6/93)

Permanent Replacement Workers: Pingree voted to prohibit hiring permanent replacement workers. (LD 66, 4/29/97)

Strikebreakers: Pingree voted to prohibit professional strikebreakers. (LD 113, 5/5/97)

Pingree as a Leader for Working Families

Chellie Pin gree fought to keep jobs in Maine. According to the Bangor Daily News, “The workers at Van Baalen [a subsidiary of Nautica] in Rockland will never forget the state senator from North Haven.” ……when the plant announced it would close…….Pingree…worked with company officials to cancel the move..(and)..assisted…with a 330,000-square-foot expansion of the facility that boosted the work force to more than 300 employees.

Nautica Chairman Announcement Business Would Remain in Maine. A few months later, “Our business will remain in Maine,” Nautica Chairman Harvey Sanders said. Van Baalen, a subsidiary of Nautica, is a clothing firm with 135 -1 50 employees and a $3 million payroll, which has been in Rockland since 1939. Because of unprecedented business expansion, the company has outgrown its 200,000 -square-foot building in the city industrial park.

…..Althea Leach of Union, a Van Baalen employee. “She not only talked the talk. She walked the walk,’ Leach said.” [Bangor Daily News, 6/07/0 1]

Pingree on the Issues 2002-2007

Chellie ran a…campaign against….Susan Collins in……2002. (With)….the support and endorsement of virtually all labor unions, and thousands of supporters across the state of Maine, her campaign was considered strong even if it was not a good year from Democrats, in Maine or across the country.

In 2003,Chellie was….national president of the government watchdog organization Common Cause…..she fought for fair elections and “counting every vote,”……Under Pingree’s watch, Common Cause…helped to expose the corrupt ethics and practices of leaders such as Tom Delay and Duke Cunningham.

Pingree continued to be an outspoken and forceful advocate for workers…. At Common Cause she helped…..(fight) the Bush administration from undermining workers rights…..by developing a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Pingree also led efforts in Washington to fight against no-bid contracts given to companies like Haliburton with little or no oversite and cost controls.

Chellie Pingree on current legislation

If Chellie Pingree were in Congress today, she would be an ally to working people: Pingree supports H.R. 800, The Employee Free Choice Act


Pingree supports H.R. 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act

Pingree would not support additional “free trade” agreements; would push for the reexamination of existing trade agreements,…….

Appointments, Awards and Union Membership

Pingree is a proud member of the National Writers’ Union/UAW Local 1981.

Pingree serves on the board of the national organization, Wal-Mart Watch, and previously served on the board of Families USA, which advocates for universal health care.


Editor: As long as this list of accomplishments is, this is only a heavily edited distillation of the record of Chellie Pingree. Read her record, ask yourself “What would Dick Cheney do?” and you will know we should find out all we can about Chellie Pingree.

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December 15th, 2007 Posted by narsbars | Chellie Pingree, MSEA, MSEA-SEIU, Maine State Employees, Olympia Snowe, SEIU 1989, Susan Collins, TECHNORATI, UNION CANDIDATES, UNIONMAINE, msea maine, turnmaineblue | 3 comments