Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Integrity, you out there? Is Honesty with you? Gonna be Gone Long?

Yesterday morning I heard Dick Armey tell Kiran Chetry and John Roberts three of the biggest, bald-faced lies I ever heard and when he was finished, I heard Kiran and John thank him for coming, and off he went, lies intact and embedded nicely, no questions asked.  This is what he said:

Lie #1:
"Nearly every important office in DC is occupied by someone with an aggressive dislike for our heritage, our freedom, our history and our constitution"

Kiran Chetney (to her credit):  "Do you really believe that?"

Lie #2:

"Absolutely.  I don't have a doubt about it.  I've lived with liberals all my life.  Liberals simply don't have appreciation and respect for America."

Lie #3:
 "Today if you are a Christian Scientist and you do not sign up for Medicare you lose your Social Security.  Nobody put that into law.  Where did that come from?  It came from their pure audacity and their need to be in charge.  So you take a person who, by religious conviction, has never attended a physician in his entire life and will never intend to do so, and you say you must sign up for this government program and if you don't you lose your life savings which you were forced to put into a bad program in the first place. Now are you telling me that's respect for our freedom?  That is an audacity of control."

The first two are flat out lies, the third is a blatant fudging of the truth, formulated and propagated by Freedom Works, the anti-government Tea Party headquarters.   Their leader monologued it long enough that either Kiran or John would have had plenty of time to step in--ala Maddow--and ask where the hell that was coming from.  But they didn't.  They smiled---rather uncomfortably, I'll give them that--and let the lie go on to live another day. 

 The truth is this:  Medicare rules have not changed since they were enacted in 1965.    Everyone on Social Security has to sign up for Medicare when they turn 65.  Armey is right about that.  But he would like us to believe this is something new and audacious.  It's suddenly "Obamacare".   It's not.  It's not new to Christian Scientists, either.  They know all about Medicare and offer clear guidelines on their website for applying for and using it.  The government-run program is accepted in most of their facilities.  Christian Scientists pay into and take advantage of Medicare just like almost everyone else.  Their people get old, too--and without Medicare (or government paid Cadillac plans) they would be up a creek--or out on an ice floe along with the rest of us.

Why is Dick Armey so opposed to important government programs like Social Security and Medicare?  Why is he making such a case for shutting them down when so many people in this country benefit from them?  Last year he even went so far as to attempt to sue the government for "forcing" him to accept Medicare.  In an article published in the the Washington Examiner, May 22, 2009, he said (emphasis mine),

"Medicare and Social Security trustees on May 12 painted a grim, but not surprising picture of the failing financial health of two entitlement programs.  Social Security will be insolvent by 2016, a year earlier than predicted just last year; Medicare by 2017, two years earlier than last year’s forecast.

So why are the Department of Health and Human Services and Social Security Administration fighting tooth and nail to prevent a handful of seniors – including yours truly – from opting out of Medicare Part A, the costly hospital insurance program?

Having some percentage of seniors pay for their own hospitalization coverage would seem like a gift to the cash-strapped Medicare program. From a financial standpoint, the more seniors who choose this option the better.

But the government will have no part of it. Why?  Perhaps because doing so could undermine the push for universal health care.

If the government allows us to exercise our legal right to pay privately for medical care, Washington also will have to allow other seniors to decide whether they want Part A coverage or private coverage. And this is the exact opposite of the direction the administration wants to go."
So, fine.  A handful of seniors want to pay their own darned way, thank you very much!  Why that is, nobody seems to know, when they've already paid into Social Security and Medicare, and when they're assured of a certain amount of paid coverage, but if Armey and his little army want to do it, I say--let 'em.

But shouldn't somebody let his straggling army know WHY they're fighting so hard against Medicare?  Do they know who their leader really is?  A former lobbyist for pharmaceutical companies.  A fine gent whose company, DLA Piper, raked in upwards of 6 million dollars from medical interests from 2005 to 2009.  An upstanding citizen whose company lobbies for a dizzying number of dubious interests not particularly keen on cozying up to the government or helping out the little guy.  That's who Dick Armey is.

Today I watched a video clip showing some of Dick Armey's fine, upstanding Tea Partiers harassing a man sitting on the ground.  The man has Parkinson's Disease, but is out there working hard for health care for everybody.  They had to bend down to get in his face.  One of the white-shirts threw dollar bills at him. Someone in the background shouted "Communist!"   He sat quietly throughout it all, not because he knows his place, but because he knows he's right.

I want that man on the ground to know how much I appreciate what he's doing.  I want him to know that the video of his harassment is going to go as viral as the video of the Tienanmen Square student facing down the tanks.

And I want him to know I found integrity and honesty.  They were sitting on the ground beside him.




  1. Ramona....I think you missed the 1993 rule (tightened even further in 2002 by the Bush administration)

    HI 00801.002 Waiver of HI Entitlement by Monthly Beneficiary

    Some individuals entitled to monthly benefits have asked to waive their HI entitlement because of religious or philosophical reasons or because they prefer other health insurance.

    Individuals entitled to monthly benefits which confer eligibility for HI may not waive HI entitlement. The only way to avoid HI entitlement is through withdrawal of the monthly benefit application. Withdrawal requires repayment of all RSDI and HI benefit payments made.

  2. Anon, thanks for the info. I found the public documents about the Armey, et al lawsuit, but I'm not sure how it disputes what I said. ( My point is not about Armey's lawsuit but more about his trying to scare seniors into believing Medicare should be avoided. That's dishonest. He may have his own gripes based on his own philosophical or religious differences, and he and his group may even be right about the restrictions on Medicare, but that's his problem. There are millions of seniors who are perfectly happy with having Medicare as their primary care. It's interesting that Armey had already been collecting SS for several years and was also signed up with Medicare for a few years before he joined the lawsuit.
    I'm on Medicare and yes, it's my primary care program but I can pick up any secondary care program I like and get the best care my money can buy. So can they. They're making a case for privacy issues, but it pretty much falls apart when they've already been enrolled into the programs for years before they suddenly wake up and decide their privacy is somehow being invaded. Interesting, too, that Armey has been enrolled in a government health program all of his public life. Privacy issues didn't seem to matter until now. Wonder why that is?

  3. Armey is just a warped and frustrated old man. His sole purpose seems to make sure that everybody knows his way is the only "American Way". He's crazy and should just be ignored. Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. He's a squeaker, I'll give him that.
    Thanks for posting this. It's brilliant as always.

  4. Hi Stan. The problem with Armey and others like him is just as you say--the squeaky wheel. But isn't it odd that the squeaky wheels for the common good are routinely ignored? They can pull in people to their Tea Party movement more easily when it appears their message is universal, and giving them airtime gives them undeserved ligitimacy.

    They'll spread those "80% of the American people are satisfied with their insurance" and "the government wants to take over your lives" lies, fully confident that enough people will believe it and become followers. Sadly, they're right.

  5. Ramona, a marvelous post. How I love stopping by to see what you've cooked up for consumption.:)

    Conservatives know that most people will not bother to check facts, corroborate evidence with statements, or cross reference information. They count on that, as you say. It makes it very tough to fight the conservative message(horde, look back, take care of yourself) and even tougher to get people to see the progressive message(distribute evenly, move forward, take care of each other).

    I can only hope that our efforts to shed light on their media noise has effect and that our efforts as progressives prove to be fruitful, whether people like it or not.

  6. I wish I had know of your writing regarding what I have found to unfair in the Medicare law. I am 68, self employed, and have my own private high deductible health insurane plan. I am very happy with the plan. When I turned 65 if rejected part B of Medicare but was told I could not reject part A. After some research I was told that I could reject part A but would no longer be able to receive my Social Security Retirment income and would have to pay any and all SS payment back to the govenmernt should I reject part A. To add insult to injury, I was also excluded from funding my Health Savings Account. I cant imagine why our government would not allow me to opt out of a program that they state is in financial peril. Instead they require me to stay in the program, with no benefits because of my primary private health insurance, and also disallow me to continue my HSA. What a disaster. I am working hard with my congressman to right what I think is a wrong in the law as written. Would appreciate comments. J from Texas

  7. John, I have to say I've never heard from anyone else who wanted to opt out of Medicare. I don't know why anyone would want to, but if that's the case, I agree that you should be able to do it without having to give up your SS, or having to pay Medicare premiums. (But it's my understanding that if you only use Part A you don't pay premiums anyway.)

    I see that you're in the insurance business, so I'm assuming you're able to provide your own insurance. Lucky you. Not everyone can do that, so thank God for Medicare.

    I doubt you will get many people to go along with your quest to do away with Medicare, but good luck.


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