health insurance

A Little Bit of Good News

Transgender pride

“We’re pushing for equality for all, not just the G’s and L’s.”

Selim Ariturk, GLIFAA

The news isn’t always bad. Joe Davidson brings the good news via The Washington Post:

The State Department, which has been on the leading edge of policies affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal employees, is eliminating the “transgender exclusion” from the agency’s largest health insurance program.Seal of the U.S. Department of State

Insurance policies under the Federal Employees Health Benefits program generally exclude services “related to sex reassignment.”

In practice, this transgender exclusion “denies coverage to transgender people for the same treatments available to non-transgender policy holders, without regard to medical necessity,” the State Department said in a statement. “Insurance companies often view this exclusion in the broadest possible terms, excluding care that clearly has no relationship to gender status such as cancer treatment and routine preventive care.”

But starting in January, the exclusions will no longer be part of the department’s largest health insurance plan, the one provided by the American Foreign Service Protective Association.

And then we might also offer a note for those who think this is somehow terrible news: Really? Does being transgender mean you shouldn’t have insurance coverage for vaccinations, or, say, broken bones as the result of a workplace accident? And if your answer is somehow affirmative, the next question is: What is wrong with you?

____________________

Davidson, Joe. “State Department ends transgender exclusion from health plan”. The Washington Post. 13 October 2014.

A Toxic Troika? A Note on ‘Optics’ and ‘Metrics’

Jeb Bush, left, speaking Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C., in support of Thom Tillis, a Republican candidate for the Senate. Credit Chuck Burton/Associated Press

When studying the Castor and Pollux of politics and punditry it might help to bear in mind that many of the buzzwords are intended to sound quasi-scientific in order to hide the fact that the terms describe artistic results. A metric, for instance, is simply an abstract measurement in unknown units compared to a presupposed psychomoral idyll that may or may not be available for examination and should never be trusted in the first place, anyway. The metrics of a situation are whatever the pundit wishes to describe in order to make his or her own narrative sound that much more compelling.

But then there are the optics of a situation, and this is a fairly easy explanation. Political optics are, quite literally, nothing more than appearances within a frame described by a pundit’s metrics.

In one of his first public appearances of the 2014 campaign, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had a vivid preview Wednesday of the challenges he would face with his party’s conservative base should he seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Standing alongside Thom Tillis, the North Carolina House speaker and Republican Senate candidate, Mr. Bush outlined his views on two of the issues he cares most passionately about: immigration policy and education standards. But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate.

(Martin)

Ah, optics!

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The Unfortunate State of Things

Jen Sorensen undertook the obvious point in the wake of the Supreme Court’s quixotic disaster otherwise known as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. And, yes, she wins the race on style.

Still, though, a question arises. To the one, we are Americans, and everyone knows just how undignified it would be if people actually acted like those depicted in the cartoon. To the other, we are Americans, and everyone knows just how undignified it is to behave that way unless one is a patriot using a gun to menace locals in the name of the Second Amendment, or shouting at, threatening, and assaulting women.

Savage JusticeThe truth is that no matter how much Justice Scalia might need to be tomatosmacked upside the head, it would be inappropriate to actually start chucking table vegetables.

Meanwhile, the question arises, looms, persists: Then what does it take?

The explanation for this is simple enough under a general psychoanalysis of history: We judge women’s humanity as a reflection of manhood.

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The Deal With Deal?

AJC-file-NathanDeal-detail-bwThere comes a point when the political discourse achieves such stupidity that, well … er … right.

Steve Benen explains the (ahem!) deal down in Georgia:

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has a problem: rural hospitals keep closing, overwhelmed by financial troubles they can’t solve on their own. The obvious solution – accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act – is the one thing Deal refuses to even consider.

There is no great mystery here as to why the rural hospitals can’t keep their doors open. These facilities have routinely covered low-income Georgians who don’t have insurance, leading to facilities that can’t pay their bills. Medicaid expansion would “help rural hospitals by turning many of their uninsured patients into paying patients,” but the governor and GOP state policymakers won’t budge.

But don’t worry, Deal is ready to think outside the box.

So what’s the deal with Deal? The Georgia Republican has decided he has a problem with the 1986 EMTLA—Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act—which formalized hospital obligations to care provision. In other words, the deal is that Gov. Deal wants hospitals to stop treating the poor.

Yes, really. Sigh.

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Another FOX Flameout

Can we just file this, please, as (ahem!) “one of those things”?

No? Damn. Okay … so … right. Let us start with two words: Fox News.

Aye. You know this one is going to be silly:

I may be a doctor, but I play an asshole on television.A Fox News medical expert on Tuesday argued that President Barack Obama’s administration was wrong to force gender equality for health insurance rates because men “only have the prostate,” while women “have the breasts, they have the ovaries.”

“Look, it’s not bias, I’m not saying this as a man,” Fox News Medical A-Team contributor Dr. David Samadi told the hosts of Fox & Friends. “They go through a lot of preventive screenings, they give birth, they have the whole mammogram, the Pap smear. Guys, we don’t like to go to doctors, right? Seventy percent of health care decisions are made by women. In my own practice, I see it’s the women who bring the guys, who say, go get screened.”

“Yeah, but shouldn’t that earn us a discount?” Fox News host Gretchen Carlson interrupted. “Basic fact that we are responsible for getting our men to come to the doctor? And what about the fact that women, because they do all this preventative care, maybe their health issues end up costing less than men’s, who don’t go to the doctor until it’s a crisis and a big deal.”

And … well … it sort of just goes downhill from there. Dr. Samadi, a renowned urologist, argued that while pregnancy is, indeed, a shared responsibility, “in my field, we only have the prostate”. Well, right. He’s a urologist. And, as the renowned urologist explained, “Women have the breasts, they have the ovaries, they have the uterus.”

No, really. Thanks for the insight, Doc.

A Quote: So It Comes to This

Bishop R. Walker Nickless, of the Diocese of Sioux City, on health insurance access to birth control for women:

The Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux CityThe power of evil is going to try any way that it can to get a hook into our world and the values we hold as so dear and so important as believing people. And the power of evil, the Devil, can certainly look—is looking—everywhere to find places where they can, where the power of evil can make a difference. To tear us apart. To get us to look at just the worldy values and forget about, you know, that there is something more important than just the values of the world. And that’s why we’ve got to stand up and violently oppose this. We cannot let Darkness overshadow us. We’ve got to be men and women who proclaim the Light. And we’ve got to tell the truth. And we’ve got to be transparent. And we’ve got to say that government cannot do this to us.