Sunday, November 22, 2009

George LeMieux And Republican Party Of NO Try to Stop Discussion of Health Insurance Reform In Senate

Today, Senator George LeMieux voted against continuing discussion of health insurance reform legislation in the Senate. Instead of standing with his constituents, Senator LeMieux has decided to stand with the Republican 'Party of NO," which is offering no real alternatives and no real solutions. Senator LeMieux's unwillingness to even discuss the issue of health insurance in our country--which has been on the minds of Floridians for many years--shows that neither he nor Governor Charlie Crist are interested in fixing our broken health insurance system and are only interested in seeing Democrats and President Obama fail.

Floridians have made it clear that the status quo is no longer sustainable. Families, businesses and governments can no longer bear the burden of skyrocketing premiums and unfair insurance industry practices.

"Today, Senator LeMieux chose to put health insurance companies ahead of the people of Floridians. By voting to stop debate on health insurance reform legislation, Senator LeMieux has proven that he is more interested in playing politics than coming up with solutions for Florida," said Florida Democratic Party Spokesman Eric Jotkoff. "Floridians can no longer bear the burden of our broken health insurance system, and we need reform now. Despite Senator LeMieux's vote, Democrats look forward to having an honest debate about how best to put an end to decades of unfair insurance company practices and skyrocketing premiums."

Fact Check LeMieux: Siding With Insurance Companies

From the DNC:

Please see below for a fact check responding to Senator George LeMieux's hypocritical attack on the Senate floor today on the bill's provision to end wasteful subsidies to health insurers under Medicare Advantage and force them to compete for patients through competitive bidding. Sen. LeMieux's comments today prove that he is willing to side with the insurance companies and against the American people despite the fact that ending such subsidies has support even from members of his own party.

LeMieux Defended Wasteful Subsidies To Health Insurance Companies Through Medicare Advantage. Senator George LeMieux: "I think I understand that you're saying that states that have these folks that are on Medicare Advantage now are going to have big reductions in the benefits that they receive. ... You'll hear some say medicare benefits aren't being cut by these proposals. That is a real stretch. But when you look at medicare advantage, it's an outright misrepresentation. Because the benefits they get are vision benefits, dental benefits, the kinds of preventive medicine and the tests and the other types of things that we have found now help you to dramatically increase your health if you pursue these kinds of preventive medicine options are the ones that will be deprived through these benefits." [Senate Floor, 11/20/09]


Medicare Advantage Provides Extra Perks, Like Free Gym Memberships, That Are Subsidized By The Government And The High Costs Of The Plans Are Passed On To Seniors. "Seniors in this Sun Belt retirement haven and across the country revel in the free perks that private insurance companies bundle with legally mandated benefits to entice people 65 and older to forgo traditional Medicare and sign up for private Medicare Advantage policies. The trouble is, the extra benefits are not exactly free; they are subsidized by the government. And some of the plans pass their costs on to seniors, who pay higher co-pays and additional fees to get care. ... In a health-care debate defined by big numbers and confusing details, the prospect of losing benefits such as a free gym membership through the Silver Sneakers program is tangible, and it has spooked some seniors, who are the nation's most reliable voters and have been most skeptical about reform." [Washington Post, 10/15/09

GOP Opposition To Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding Is Interesting: “Republicans Have Mounted A Ferocious Defense Of The Market’s Right To Continue Burning Through Taxpayer Dollars.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein commented on Republican anger at the prospect of competitive bidding to lower overpayments to Medicare Advantage programs: “[i]t is also an interesting moment of insight into the conservative philosophy on these matters. The problem with government programs, we're often told, is that they are expensive and wasteful, and the private market could do better. But faced with an instance where the government program proved relatively lean and efficient, and the private market expensive and wasteful, Republicans have mounted a ferocious defense of the market's right to continue burning through taxpayer dollars.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 9/24/09]


Health Insurance Reform Would Reduce The Difference In Costs Between Medicare And Medicare Advantage Through A Competitive Bidding System. “Federal subsidies to private Medicare plans average about 14 percent higher than those involved in fee-for-service coverage. The health care bills pending in Congress would reduce or eliminate the difference in part by introducing a competitive bidding system to pay the plans. ‘Health insurance reform will strengthen Medicare for seniors, not diminish it,’ said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. ‘Even under the competitive bidding proposal in the legislation, Medicare Advantage plans will still be paid more than traditional Medicare plans. Yes, they'll need to compete, and they'll need to be more efficient, but they'll still have more money to work with than traditional Medicare.’” [AP, 9/22/09]

AARP Lead Lobbyist On Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding: “We Think The Proposals Actually Will Improve Access And Quality,” Not Cut Benefits. The Boston Globe reported that, “[t]he $120 billion cut to Medicare Advantage is part of spending reductions in Medicare totaling $460 billion to $540 billion over 10 years that have been proposed by Democrats. The cuts would fall on the government reimbursement rates for a broad variety of providers such as hospitals and home health agencies, which could probably absorb them without affecting the services elderly Americans receive, many specialists said in interviews. Though some industry groups complain the spending reductions are too severe, adjustments could be made if problems arose because they would be phased in gradually. Most are aimed at making the programs more efficient. ‘We think the proposals actually will improve access and quality,’ John Rother, a leading lobbyist for the AARP, the large lobbying organization for senior citizens, said in an e-mail.” [Boston Globe, 9/24/09]

Senate Republicans Introduced an Alternative Health Care Reform Bill that Included Similar Provisions to the Finance Committee Bill to Introduce Competitive Bidding into Medicare Advantage to Eliminate Inefficiencies. Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would include competitive bidding in Medicare Advantage to eliminate inefficiencies and increasing choice. The bill was sponsored by Senator Coburn, and co-sponsored by Senators Alexander, Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Graham, Inhofe and Isakson. [S. 1099, Introduced 5/20/09, Title V, Subtitle A.]

We Stand Corrected And Apologize...

From FDP: anyone who may have been offended by our understated approach to this matter. We would like to be clear that the Florida Democratic Party continues to be disappointed in Charlie Crist, and what increasing looks like Blagojevich-esq deal struck between Crist and LeMieux as it relates to fundraising.

Orlando Sentinel: A few slugs, a hug — and a little ugh
Scott Maxwell
Orlando Sentinel
November 19, 2009

• An ugh to the Florida Democratic Party for its (non-)news release about U.S. Sen. George LeMieux helping raise money for Charlie Crist. The Dems urged the media to look into this, saying, "Questions remain about the legitimacy of LeMieux's appointment and the cronyism that led to it." Questions remain? Are you kidding me? No, they don't. There are no questions about the legitimacy of LeMieux's appointment. We know it was cronyism. That's what LeMieux was — Charlie's crony. That's why he appointed him. That's why people were irritated — including Republicans who wanted a more respected and experienced statesman to get the job. And all that has been pretty widely documented by the press and everyone else. What's next, Dems? You going to suggest that top-secret sources have suggested Charlie likes to see himself on TV? Stop the presses!

Read Scott Maxwell’s entire column here:,0,988667.column

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scary Brown People

I hate Marco Rubio, but this ad is reprehensible:

Crist's "Great Moment" in Political History

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

C.W. Bill Young among lawmakers named in House investigation

From the Buzz:

U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, is among a group of lawmakers under scrutiny by House ethics investigators looking at ties between defense appropriators and lobbyists, the Washington Post reported late Thursday.

The story is based on a confidential document posted online by a House staffer who has been fired. It shows investigators have been probing the relationship between seven members of the defense appropriations subcommittee and PMA, a lobbying firm founded by Paul Magliocchetti that has been under criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

But the chair of the House ethics committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, issued a statement that said many lawmakers may be under review by the committee at any point in time. "No inference to any misconduct can be made from the fact that a matter is simply before the committee," she said in her statement.

Contribution records show Young has received $460,000 from PMA Group and its clients, according to
Young's ties to lobbyists recently came under scrutiny in another context -- for former staffers of his that now work for defense contractors. (background here) Young has faulted the report for insinuating impropriety.

And Young this summer tried to put some distance between himself and a St. Petersburg contractor, Conax Florida Corp, by withdrawing earmark requests after the company's offices were raided by the FBI. That investigation continues.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From the Blogs


The latest stories from the Florida blogs (and beyond) about Congressional Republicans.

Tally: Lessons for FL from Tuesday's Elections

Smooth Like Remy: The Abyss Comes To Florida

Incertus: RedState, Come On Down!

Saint Petersblog 2.0: Crist raises $125K in Mich. (with Greer in tow) as report shows he's off 10 weeks a year

Trish Ponder: Crist Losing Ground in Senate Race