HHS offers California health reform talking points

The story I wrote earlier this week about Rep. Barbara Lee’s health-care reform discussion forum Monday in Oakland brought a lot of varied responses from readers. For example, here are two e-mails I received within a few minutes of each other yesterday:

Thank you for a great article. The only solution to the Healthcare problem is a single payer plan. It cannot and should not be dismissed. The naysayer Republicans have no alternative plan to get the 47 million plus people healthcare coverage. The question should be how do we get healthcare for all rather than how do we get healthcare for all without hurting the profit of the Insurance Industry.

Now is the time for real change. They should never have been allowed to take single payer plan off the table. Many feel that we will be lucky if we get a public plan but that should not even be a question.


Can you send me some of the kool aide these people must be drinking?

Everyone quotes the number of people without health care at 46million, but the report this comes from states that it is more likely in the area of 38 million, looking at the actual number of people without heath care at any one point in time. If you consider non-Americans, you can take out another 20%. And if you consider the number of people earning over $75k a year and who just don’t want to be bothered, you actally end up with a really small number of people lacking insurance.

Anyway, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this morning released a series of state-by-state reports on the health care status quo in order to highlight the need for health reform.

“In states across the country, health care costs are going up and families are struggling to get the quality care they need and deserve,” Sebelius said in her news release. “We cannot wait to pass reform that protects what works about health care and fixes what’s broken.”

“The American people have been calling for reform, and they should not have to wait any longer. Health reform will assure quality affordable health care for all Americans, lower costs, and give more Americans the choices they deserve. The time for reform is now.”

Read the report on California, after the jump…
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Pelosi issues statement on Tauscher

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out this statement about the confirmation of Rep. Ellen Tauscher as undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security:

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on the Senate vote to confirm Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of California as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

“On behalf of all Members of Congress, I congratulate our friend and colleague, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, on her new role as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.  The House will certainly miss Congresswoman Tauscher’s leadership, but the entire nation will continue to benefit from her expertise, talent, and experience.

“Congresswoman Tauscher has long been a leader on issues of national security and a great advocate on behalf of our veterans.  With her selection to serve in the Obama Administration and her confirmation by the Senate, she has brought great pride to Congress and to California.  All of in the Congress wish her well in her new role.”


Chevron counsel targeted for alleged torture role

The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, a liberal political and social justice nonprofit, yesterday delivered more than 100 complaints against former Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes – now chief corporate counsel for San Ramon-based oil giant Chevron – to the California State Bar’s offices in San Francisco.

The guild says the complaints came from ordinary Americans demanding that the State Bar thoroughly investigate and issue a written decision on Haynes’ actions and inactions at the Defense Department regarding the legal framework for indefinite detentions, military tribunals and “enhanced interrogation” – which many since have deemed torture – of terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay. Complaints came mostly from California residents but also from as far away as Maine and Washington D.C., the guild said, and still are arriving by mail to the guild’s offices, all eventually to be forwarded to the State Bar.

“This campaign is appropriate because William Haynes was one of the lawyers shaping policy that harmed so many prisoners and put all of us in greater danger,” NLGSF Executive Director Carlos Villarreal said in a news release. “Anyone can file a complaint against a California lawyer, and while the process should never be abused, the process ought to be available to anyone and everyone when a lawyer commits wrongdoing from a position of power in our government resulting in such a devastating and widespread effect.”

The State Bar closed without prejudice – meaning, allowing the right to re-file – a more detailed complaint filed by the NLGSF in March; the NLGSF intends to ask for a formal review of that decision next week.

“The State Bar investigates and disciplines far less powerful attorneys who have committed far less egregious acts,” NLGSF Executive Board Member Sharon Adams of Berkeley said in the release. “It was surprising that they would close our complaint without even initiating an investigation. It seems to contradict one of the most important functions of the State Bar – to protect the public.”

“Haynes is still in a position to do great harm, undoubtedly shaping the actions of a major corporation that has committed human rights abuses around the world and had a major impact on our environment,” she added. “There is no doubt that the public needs to be proactive when a lawyer like Haynes is still granted the privilege of practicing law and crafting policies that will continue to have an enormous impact on people.”


Tauscher to vote on cap and trade bill

The Washington Post reports that Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, will hold off before she takes her new job as undersecretary of Arms Control and International Security in order to vote on the controversial cap and trade bill. Tauscher was confirmed to the post late Thursday.

As of this minute (about 9:50 a.m.), Tauscher is chairing the House as it discusses the bill.


Tauscher is confirmed

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, was confirmed just minutes ago on the floor of the U.S. Senate as Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security in the State Department.

Her official resignation will come in the next day or so and she is scheduled to speak on Friday morning from the floor of the House of Representatives.

After she resigns, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will name a date for a special election to select her replacement.