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Roskam claims health care plan

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

I’m posting this not only to give y’all a chance to pick it apart, but because I’m wondering if other Republican congressional candidates and incumbents will be using the same template.

Sixth District Congressional candidate Senator Peter Roskam outlined a 4 point health care agenda focusing on more choices, greater quality and reducing costs for suburban families and businesses. […]

“As the brother of 5 doctors, I am a natural advocate for finding innovative ways to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for suburban families and businesses,” said Roskam. “I believe Congress needs to give families and businesses more control over their own
health care decisions. I will work to provide healthcare consumers more choices and greater quality while reducing the cost of health care” […]

Roskam 4 Point Health Care Agenda for Businesses and Families

Step 1: Enact legislation to create Small Business Health Plans

Roskam will support legislation creating “Small Business Health Plans” which provide small businesses the opportunity
to band together to enjoy greater bargaining power and administrative efficiency.

* According to the Small Business Administration, 99% of all employers are small businesses and would benefit from these plans.

* Specifically, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that small businesses would see an average premium reduction of 13-25% under Small Business Health Plans (CBO, January 2000).

* This represents a real cost savings of $450 - $1,250 per employee. Most importantly, according to CONSAD Research Corporation, as many as 8.5 million previously uninsured workers would receive coverage thanks to Small Business Health Plans.

Step 2: Expand Tax Free Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s)

Roskam supports legislation expanding Health Savings Accounts by increasing contribution limits allowing families and businesses to contribute the maximum amount under their Health Savings Account.

* Co-Sponsor H.R. 5262, the “Tax-Free Health Savings Act.”

* Under this legislation, HSA’s would allow existing plans such as Flexible Savings Accounts to roll into HSA’s so they can take advantage of the additional benefits of this plan.

* HSA’s offer triple tax savings: 1) tax deductions when you or your employer contributes to your account, 2) tax-free earnings through
investment, 3) tax-free withdrawals for qualified medical expenses (U.S. Treasury Department, April 2005).

* In addition to healthcare cost savings, HSA’s have helped to combat the rising number of uninsured. According to the America’s Health Insurance Plan Trade Organization, 30% of individual HSA purchasers were previously uninsured. While critics seek to paint HSA’s as an option “for the rich only”, Assurant Health data indicates that 50% of purchasers have family incomes of less than $50,000.

Step 3: Promote healthcare efficiency and effectiveness with Health Information Technology

Roskam supports legislation to implement electronic health care records and health information technology.

* Researchers from RAND have concluded that effective health information technology and electronic health record implementation could save more than $81 billion per year, in addition to countless lives.

* Recently, the Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2005 passed the House with 58 cosponsors and bipartisan support (H.R. 4157). Peter Roskam wholeheartedly supports this effort to provide quality healthcare at an affordable cost.

* Specifically, H.I.T. can reduce the rate of serious medical error by 55% and decrease the rate of potential adverse drug events by 84% (The Center for Health Transformation).

* Electronic Health Records offer a secure, portable way to maintain and share patient information between healthcare providers. These records have shown to reduce the rate of adverse drug events by 34%, decrease unnecessary lab utilization by 9%, and save over $44 billion per year (The Center for Health Transformation).

Step 4: Medicare

Roskam will work to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse and crack-down on those who abuse Medicare.

* The corrupt Medicare practices that are costing taxpayers as much as $54.5 million a day.

* According to the HHS Inspector General, waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments drained as much as $19.9 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund in 2004 alone.

* Support the “Medicare Fraud Prevention Bill” sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Biggert which would reduce erroneous payments and strengthen law enforcement powers relating to Medicare abuse.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


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Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

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Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

What are your impressions of Sen. Barack Obama’s trip to Africa?

- Posted by Rich Miller   62 Comments      


Bad news for IDOT leaders - Updated x1

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

[Bumped up because it was posted so late yesterday.]

Have a look at this. [pdf file - fixed link] IDOT Secretary Tim Martin and two of his deputies appear to be royally screwed.

Martin, Mike Stout and Scott Doubet were sued by several former IDOT employees who claimed their firings were politically motivated.

“During the first months of tenure as governor, Rod Blagojevich publicly announced plans to fire employees that he associated with high-ranking members of the prior Republican administration on allegations that they participated in personnel transactions that would protect their continued employment,” states the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield.

It also says that Blagojevich directed the hiring of people on contract “for the purpose of identifying employees in State agencies that could be targeted for firing based on alleged affiliation” with the administration of former GOP Gov. George Ryan.

The attorney general originally appointed Jenner & Block to handle the case, but J&B backed out and IDOT’s top lawyer ordered the firm not to turn over any documents to AG Lisa Madigan’s office.

The dispute went to court, and a judge ruled today in favor of Lisa Madigan, ordering J&B to turn over the files.

This is a lose-lose-lose for the defendants, who claimed that Madigan wasn’t representing their best interests. That’s pretty obviously happening, as Madigan appears to be representing the state’s best interests and not necessarily the three individual defendants. They have complained bitterly of this in various pleadings.

[As I just wrote in comments, it seems clear to me that Madigan believes or at least suspects that the defendants acted outside the scope of their employment or she wouldnt have done things like order three IDOT employees to turn over subpoenas and threaten them with contempt of court against the defendants’ wishes.]

[Parenthetical update: I just lost half this post after attempting to update on my Treo. From here on out is a recreation.]

The judge also ruled that they could not hire their own attorney unless they gave up indemnification, which isn’t much of a choice.

The Defendants, in their individual capacities, may always forego indemnification by the state and hire their own attorneys to represent them. If they do so, the Attorney General will still represent them in their official capacities since those claims are against the state of Illinois.

And in a final blow, the judge ruled that Mary Lee Leahy had to answer questions and was not protected by attorney client privilege. The plaintiffs and AG Madigan wanted Leahy to be deposed (which gives you another idea where Madigan is going with this.) Leahy had advised the governor’s office after Blagojevich was sworn in, and had met with top IDOT officials, apparently about the case in question.

Thus, the dispute about Leahy’s deposition is, once again, a strategic one about how to conduct the defense. The Defendants consented to the Attorney General conducting the defense and agreed to cooperate. The Defendants, therefore, gave the Attorney General the authority to make these types of strategic decisions. Again, the Defendants do not assert that the substance of Leahy’s testimony will be adverse to their interests. The Attorney General’s strategic decision to let Leahy be deposed, therefore, is not adverse to them and, so, does not create a conflict of interest between the Attorney General and them.

The Sun-Times wrote about this back in May in a story entitled “Gov muzzles his clout-buster.”

At his first press conference as governor, Rod Blagojevich announced he was bringing in a clout-busting lawyer to help take politics out of state hiring. But now the governor doesn’t want her talking about what she did. His lawyers are keeping attorney Mary Lee Leahy from answering questions about whether 17 state employees were bounced in 2004 because of their political ties. […]

Attorneys for the laid-off workers say the administration is muzzling Leahy because it broke rules designed to make sure politics is not a factor in the overwhelming majority of state jobs. The federal government has been investigating state hiring since last fall, when a wave of subpoenas hit the administration.

UPDATE: The AP has a story up now. Not much different than what I have posted, but go see it for yourself.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


No respect should be expected

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

Political scientists make the expected predictions.

A third-party candidate for Illinois governor will find out Thursday whether he’ll be on the ballot in November.

But even if the Illinois State Board of Elections rules in Rich Whitney’s favor, analysts say the Green Party candidate’s effect on the results of the election will be negligible.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of impact,” said Chris Mooney, a political scientist at the University of Illinois-Springfield. […]

“He may siphon off a couple of thousand votes, but it’s not going to mean anything,” said Roosevelt University political scientist Paul Green.

The most likely scenario is that Whitney will pull votes away from Blagojevich, said John Jackson, an analyst with the Paul Simon Public Policy Center at Southern Illinois University.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Radio Network has turned thumbs down on inviting Rich Whitney to participate in the governor’s debate.

Jim Anderson of the Illinois Radio Network has told candidate for Illinois governor Rich Whitney that he will not be allowed to join the Oct. 2 debate with Gov. Blagojevich and Treasurer Topinka.

That’s not unexpected. The IRN hired burly security guards for a debate a few years ago to prevent an uninvited third party candidate from crashing.

The state Green Party opened its southern Illinois office this week.

Music, food, speeches and a dancing chicken named “Gov. Cluck-o-vich,” are all needed for a successful Green Party headquarters opening. The Greens, lead by gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney, opened the doors to their Carbondale office Saturday afternoon.

Cluck-o-vich?

- Posted by Rich Miller   27 Comments      


Weller

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

This is classic DC politics.

Rep. Jerry Weller, a sixth-term Republican who grew up on a family farm, represents a district in rural Illinois that’s a far cry from the sandy beaches of the Caribbean.

But in the past three years Weller has become Capitol Hill’s go-to guy for issues dear to the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico, from getting more federal money for its hospitals to lowering a manufacturing tax that business interests say prevents U.S. companies from locating there. […]

Weller’s 11th Congressional District has hardly any Puerto Ricans, according to a 2005 U.S. Census Bureau survey that estimated of its roughly 698,000 residents, only 677 to 3,569 are likely to fall into that category — less than 1 percent of the total.

In addition to the manufacturing bill, Weller has also co-sponsored legislation to increase Medicare reimbursements for hospitals in Puerto Rico that advocates say could bring the island by tens of millions of dollars annually and another bill that would let Puerto Ricans vote on whether they want to continue as a U.S. territory.

Meanwhile, back in his actual district

Today’s celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor authorization is bittersweet.

Sweet because, through the years, the canal has become a backyard haven for tourists, history buffs, and outdoor enthusiasts, plus has sparked new commerce and jobs in communities along the 96-mile historic artery from Chicago to La Salle.

Bitter, because the U.S. Senate today has still not authorized $10 million in funding for the corridor in the federal government’s 2007 fiscal budget, noted Ana Koval, president and CEO of the non-profit Canal Corridor Association, which operates the NHC. […]

Koval said Congressman Jerry Weller, R-Morris, who authored the measure in the House, said this was agreed-upon legislation he thought the Senate would pass a couple days later.

“But, the Senate went home without doing it. Until the legislation is actually passed, it doesn’t put the canal in line to be added to the budget,” said Koval.

“Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. Next to our name now on the appropriations list is a big fat zero. The deadlines for requests is long gone - it’s far along in the budget process.”

And the Chicago Reader had a cover story last week on the Congressman’s marriage to the daughter of a former Guatemalan dictator. The two recently had a baby, and the child was born in Guatemala.

I’ve known Jerry Weller a long time. He’s a natural politician and a great campaigner. With a litany like I’ve just laid out, and with a district that just barely leans GOP, those skills are undoubtedly the main reason he’s not on any political target lists this year. At least, not yet.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Morning shorts

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006

· “The Fix” moves Illinois into play.

15. Illinois: Even Democrats acknowlege that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) is vulnerable this fall. A cloud of ethical problems hovers over his administration and could counter the prevailing Democratic winds nationally. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka (R) is far from a world-beater but the race is likely to be focused almost entirely on the incumbent. Topinka has struggled to stay within financial range of Blagojevich — a trend that if it continues will make it tough for her to push her change message. (Previous ranking: N/A)

· Study: Ill. tollways lease could mean toll increases for drivers

· ‘Sweetheart‘ deal given to gov donor slammed

· Editorial: The Cook County jobs machine

· Shakman goes after county hiring

· Alleged ghost worker gets pension

· “Chicago politicians rarely get the chance to lecture others about honest government, and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama took advantage of the opportunity Monday when he urged Kenyans to fight against public corruption.”

· Hanania: Reversing Vote Is Not Answer To Big Box Crisis

· Apparently, the governor is in southern Illinois.

· “Patti Blagojevich laughed and said the DuQuoin State Fair is a place where kids can be kids. ‘This fair is cozier and more comfortable for parents with children,” Blagojevich said. “But still it has everything you can find in Springfield.’”

· State’s crime rate drops

· Jeff Trigg moves to the National Taxpayers United of Illinois.

· Chapman: The wrong road to fuels of the future

· Gov’s administration settles union dispute for $1 mil.

· “Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean and Republican challenger David McSweeney clashed on stem cell research and tax cuts but fundamentally agreed on the Iraq war and immigration reform at a Monday debate in Waukegan.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


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