Monday, June 29, 2009

Re: OP-ED: The non-competition health plan | Dr. Stark

Doctor Stark,

I'd like to make a few comments about your opinion piece.

You said: "118 million will be forced to join after opting out or losing their private coverage." I don't understand something about this. If people's health insurance is so good, why would people choose to switch over to the public option? I'm an advocate for Single Payer, and I believe that the reason is because private businesses who are tired of competing with companies in other industrialized countries who don't have to pay for their employees health care would decide to stop providing that benefit altogether. So people wouldn't have a "choice". They would be pushed, by their current employers' decisions, to move to the public option.

You also said: "Medicare was passed in 1965, and by 1970, no private market existed, except for co-pays and deductibles, for the elderly in the United States." This is not true. Plenty of private health insurance exists for people over the age of 65. If people want to pay the premiums, health care insurance companies would be more than welcome to provide them with coverage. Nobody can afford it, but that's not the issue. They would exist if there was a market for it. And the only reason why there is not a market is because private insurance cannot compete with Medicare on a level playing field. People can complain all they want about how bad the coverage is, but the fact remains true that those complaints have not created a way for private health insurance to compete with the Medicare system. And if there are problems with Medicare, we know what to do about it. Get our representatives to fix it, or vote them out of office. Have you been able to successfully lobby the Board of Directors of Blue Cross?

Personally, I believe that a Public Option or Single Payer is something we cannot afford NOT to do. You're right about the unfunded liabilities in the Medicare system. Estimates I have seen say that at the peak of the Baby Boomer retirement in the 2020's, the system will have $77 Trillion Dollars to deal with. I'm not going to deny that. But I just don't believe that private health insurance, which has a mandate to make profits instead of providing care to people, would be able to handle that load any better than any other system, and with enough pressure brought to bear by the people depending on the system for their very lives, a publicly funded system might even be persuaded to do it better and cheaper.

I've seen the estimates that say Medicare only reimburses 70-80 percent of the private rates. And I agree that's a problem. So let's increase that to Market Rate and see how many doctors suddenly decide that it's worth accepting Medicare patients again.

I don't think Canada should be the only foreign system that we look at. Have you looked at the French system? There is a vibrant and healthy private, non-profit, health insurance sector built on top of the national insurance available to everyone. 85% of the people of France are covered by both, and they are very happy with it. We could do that. We could do even better, I'm sure.

Let's put market competition at work providing health care services instead of paying health care CEO's and stockholders, and we'll see a healthier America and a brighter future.

Chad Lupkes

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gasp! Dow's a Democrat?!

NW Digest has a post up about Dow Constantine being willing to say out loud in public that he is a Democrat. Gasp! How Shocking!

So, I decided to comment, and wrote this:

When did it become partisan to want to build a strong economy with good paying jobs? When did it become partisan to want a healthy natural world for our children to show to their children? When did it become partisan to want cheaper alternative methods of transportation that get us from place to place faster? When did it become partisan to want an efficient government that is responsive, responsible and representative? When did it become partisan to want to protect Human Rights, or Animal rights? These are just the issues on Dow’s issue page.

Non-partisanship does not mean that candidates have to hide their values. By saying that he is a Democrat, Dow is simply identifying which set of values he tries to live by. A strong community, fair markets, fair taxation, better government and traditional american values of peace, opportunity and justice for all.

If that drives people away, maybe they’re listening to conservative talk radio too much.

And when I hit submit, it told me that my comment was awaiting moderation... So, better to be safe than sorry. I posted it here as well.

Comments welcome! And unmoderated, I might add...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sean Salazar is too dangerous to be in the US Senate

I got home from a wonderful Father's Day, and checked my Twitter account for updates. found these:

seanforsenate: The older generation was decimated during the ten year Iraq war…

seanforsenate: 70% of the population of IRAN is under 40 and they are PRO AMERICA….!

seanforsenate: I support complete overthrow in Iran…NOW!

seanforsenate: The U.S Govt. failed to see the generational uprising in Iran. I predicted it over a year ago

Oh, my, frickin', G-d.

First, "seanforsenate" is the campaign Twitter account for Sean Salazar, GOP candidate for US Senate in Washington for the 2010 election cycle.

I'll go through these in the order that they were posted.

"The U.S Govt. failed to see the generational uprising in Iran. I predicted it over a year ago" - Um, as little as I think about how the Bush Administration destroyed foreign relations between our country and the rest of the world, I have real trouble believing that they were THAT STUPID. Give me a break. Anyone with a brain should have been able to see this coming for at least two decades. That it took until last year for Mr. Salazar to see it doesn't bode well for his ability.

"I support complete overthrow in Iran…NOW!" - Really!?! A candidate for the US Senate is advocating for the overthrow of a foreign government? There's a big difference between our people supporting their people as they try to wrestle with the problems of getting fair representation and fair treatment by their government, and actually calling for them to do something this drastic. We should NOT be advocating for violence, and that's exactly what this is no matter how you try to spin the words.

"70% of the population of IRAN is under 40 and they are PRO AMERICA….!" - How do we know that? Show me the polling data. The United States President responded to candle-light vigils in the streets of Tehran after September 11th, 2001 by naming them a member of the "Axis of Evil". We boosted the power of Iran by taking out their biggest boogyman in the region, Saddam Hussein. But that power did not go to the people, it is held by their government. The government that is now shooting at them. That's a really complicated situation over there, Mr. Salazar. Can we please let the professionals, or at least the ADULTS, articulate US Foreign Policy?

"The older generation was decimated during the ten year Iraq war…" - Decimated by WHAT WEAPONS sold to Iraq by WHAT COUNTRY?! Hello?! And yet the people of Iran whose parents were "decimated" by US weapons sold to Iraq are supposed to be 70% in our favor?! In what Michael Steele fantasy world are you living in? Oh, hey, nice picture on your website...

I want all of the violence to stop in Iran. I want the people of Iran to see that the United States is turning away from stupid statements that claim that we in the States have the authority to declare how their government should be designed and how it should function. I want them to believe that when they get through this period, they will have open arms waiting for an opportunity to help them build a positive future for themselves and their children as we move into the future together. That's foreign policy, Mr. Salazar. Not bravado statements that make me want to play "Pin the Brain on the Elephant."

Friday, June 19, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the Endorsement

The Primary Endorsement Meeting of the 46th District Democrats was held last night, and it was not what was expected or hoped for by a lot of people, including me. This is my perspective and memory of what happened, written the "morning after". It's not a historical record, but a record of what I can remember of my actions, my thoughts and my feelings. Being human, that's all I can do.

The meeting room was packed. Probably 175 people total, although I realize now that I never called for a credentials report. The way we do endorsement votes is with paper ballots, and only voting members and/or PCO's get those ballots so it's pretty secure. It would have been nice to have the number, though. The number of people in the room raised the pressure a bit, and the temperature didn't help. I want to thank Rep. Scott White, who was very familiar with the facility and took it upon himself to contact the custodian so we could get the air conditioning turned on. Thanks, Scott!

I went through the 'Chair's Report' quickly, highlighting the Mothers March for Health Care that both my son and I marched in on May 30th. I mentioned the upcoming Seattle Pride Parade and July 11th Summer Holiday Party. I also mentioned that our August meeting was going to be on the regular schedule of the 3rd Thursday at Olympic View Church instead of the Elementary School. This is because the school is closed in August and it would cost us about $150 more to use the School.

We approved the endorsement rules, which had been changed a bit since the January meeting where we considered and endorsed Sherill Huff for King County Elections Director. Before approval, I went over the changes and highlighted the specific rule on how to Suspend the rules for any particular race. I anticipated needing to use that, and I wanted to make sure that campaigns that would otherwise only be considered in September knew that they could, and should, request a suspension of the rules in order for us to consider their race that night.

The first race we considered was Seattle Mayor. Nominations went smoothly, with all the candidates speaking to a body eager to hear from them. The first vote was called, and sent to the Tally Committee. This was where I made my first mistake, and caused the cascade of mistakes that I worked for the rest of the night to wrestle with.

Our Endorsement Rules state that "No Endorsement" is always an option on the first ballot. I had forgotten that, and did not ask Kathryn to include the option on the screen at the front of the room. When the vote came back, someone had evidently remembered because there were 3 votes for "No Endorsement". But, because I had forgotten to include it on the first vote, I asked her to add it to the screen. Then my second mistake hit the fan. I allowed a vote for "No Endorsement" on the second ballot.

What this did, and because nobody had caught it and either challenged it or corrected me (Note to district, please keep an eye on what I'm doing and how I'm following the rules. If you see something odd or wrong, hesitation to speak out... causes problems. I depend on everyone in the body, not just the Eboard members or trained parliamentarians to keep the rules flowing so we can avoid mixups.), is it allowed 9 people to vote for "No Endorsement" instead of either Joe Mallahan or Greg Nickels on the second ballot.

The next step in the rules after the second vote was to consider a motion for a dual endorsement. Someone, and my memory tells me it was Jason Sawatzki, stated that the language of the rules don't specify which candidates need to be considered eligible for a dual endorsement, and that it was within the rules to consider a motion for a dual endorsement of Mallahan and Michael McGinn. That really threw me. I declared that the intention of the rules was to conduct the Second and Third ballots as a run-off election from the first ballot, but I did not specifically rule that this was the only way that I would consider a motion. I probably would have, but I was saved by John Webber who made a motion to dual endorse Mallahan and Nickels. Thank you, John!

We did the vote for the dual endorsement by show of hands, and it did not receive the required 2/3rds majority. Then things got stranger. There was a lot of people talking around the sign-in table, and one of them was Matthew. He raised his hand to be recognized, and said something about trying to raise a concern about moving on before we had taken the Dual Endorsement vote. His concern was about continuing on when a mistake had been made in the ballot process, and he thought that we should consider reconsidering our consideration of the second ballot. However, there were objections raised by some people about revisiting a consideration after the fact, and then someone mentioned that it was already 9pm. That also threw me. Time flies when you're having fun, I guess. Anyway, I kept us going. Which caused more problems.

See, what Matthew was trying to do is a Challenge of the Chair. He was trying to get the body to reconsider the vote, but he wasn't clear enough for me to recognize it, nor even recognize or remember when he had raised his hand. Was it before we started voting on the Second Ballot? Was it after those results had been known? I honestly did not know. I thought and considered (and yes, I'm using that word too much), and did what I thought was right. I told Matthew and Larry Smith to answer this question: "What does Roberts Rules say about when a Challenge of the Chair can be considered?" I had a copy of RRO and there were a few others floating around the room, including the copy in David McDonald's head. The answer was that Roberts was silent on when a challenge may be considered. So, I told Matthew to talk to both campaigns affected, and get their input and thoughts on whether they wanted the body to reconsider the second ballot. The answer came back that they did want it brought up again. Ok. We can do that.

I thought about it too long. A few more races went by while I was wrestling with all of this, and I got poked by a few people who were watching people leave because it was getting late. So at the next opportunity, I told everyone what I was thinking, that after the Primary Races were done I would sustain the challenge. This was to prevent any more people who really wanted to vote on the Mayor's race from leaving. I think this was about 9:45.

We finished all of the Primary races at 10:15. I asked Kathryn to bring the Mayor's race back up on the screen, and talked about what I had heard and what I wanted to do. The ruling that I had made, ok at least the way that I had thought about it at the time, was that the 9 people who had voted for "No Endorsement" would have split their vote and the 2/3rds requirement would not have been met. So my ruling was that the result was No Endorsement and that we needed to move on with the Agenda. I asked the body to tell me whether I was right to move on. And I was supported 52 - 29. But we had to take that vote.

Lessons learned. We need to adjust the language in the rules so that they are more specific about the intent of the run-off election and who is eligible for a dual endorsement. My feeling is that the two candidates considered on the second ballot should be the ones we can consider for a dual. Others might have a different view. We'll talk about it. Also, I need more practice at this. I guess you have to learn by doing, and I hope my decisions and actions are more understandable now that I've written all of this down. Please feel free to comment on either Blogspot or Facebook. I did my best, and did what I thought was the right thing to do.

I want to thank Scott White for giving me the advice to make a ruling that could be challenged. It helped me get my feet back under me. I want to thank David McDonald for his depth and breath of experience. I want to thank Joe Mallahan and Senator Jacobsen (supporting Greg Nickels) for being so willing to help me work through the process of reconsideration. And I want to thank the hecklers who made me think and rethink. It's not fun to be declared "a failure of leadership", but when you get nearly a standing ovation when I asked for forgiveness for being human, it really means something.

Finally, I want to thank the Conlin, Ginsberg, Carr and Holmes campaigns for getting together and deciding together that asking for a suspension of the rules for a consideration (there's that word again) of their race was beyond what the district could deal with at 10:30 at night. To thank them, I announced that we would consider those two races, and those two races ONLY, at our August meeting. I hope we'll see everyone there.

Chad Lupkes,
Chair, 46th District Democrats

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Re: Frustrated

Dear Maria,

I served in the US Navy from 1988 to 1994. While serving, I had good coverage. When I got out, I had none.

I opened a small business in Everett, Washington, and spent 3 years trying to figure out how to make it work. I had to get a job outside of my business so I could get coverage and pay the rest of my bills. My business failed because I couldn't put the time into it that I needed to.

In 1997, my wife at the time became pregnant with my son, and I scrambled to find a job while I was closing my business, and found one at Nordstrom. My son was born in March of 1998, fully covered. Then I left my job to move to Florida and moved back when my wife and I split up. I spent about a year working for Temp agencies with no coverage.

I was lucky. My current wife, whom I had just moved in with back at the end of 2000 asked me why I was working Temp with no benefits or coverage when there was a Nordstrom next door. I got another job with Nordstrom in 2001, and I've been here ever since. Why is this lucky? Because I was diagnosed with Cancer in May of 2003.

Without my health coverage through my employer, I would have been $50,000+ in debt, probably requiring us to sell our home and struggle for the rest of our careers. The way it played out, my coverage paid for just about everything, and I'm now healthy and active.

I'm most active trying to make sure that NOBODY lives under a cloud of fear like I did. Not everyone is as lucky. As appreciative of my insurance coverage as I am, I know not everyone can get it through private insurance. I would switch to a National Health Insurance Program in a heartbeat if it meant that my premiums would help pay for coverage for the 50 million people who are currently not covered. I personally believe that Single Payer is the only solution to the current mess. I would not object to having supplemental insurance available for people who can afford it, but the foundation needs to be a national system that provides basic and catastrophic coverage for everyone in this country. And any supplemental insurance must be provided by non-profit organizations. Nobody should EVER make themselves rich by denying health insurance claims. That is so wrong, it should be a Felony.

I hope you will listen to the feedback you get. And I hope that any feedback you get from people is posted publicly so that we can see the stories that you get and share with each other. Keeping messages in your office is not transparency.

Thanks for being willing to listen. And I hope that you will sign onto Senator Sanders bill, S.703.

Chad Lupkes

Share your own stories, ideas and thoughts with Senator Cantwell about the Health Care issue in the US here:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Re: This is why

Barack --

I supported your campaign after the Washington Caucuses because your supporters on February 9th, 2008 asked me. Your positions on the issues during the campaign were close enough to my own for me to feel comfortable with supporting you and voting for you.

However, your position on the Health Care debate is not where I would want. I want Single Payer. I don't want a Public Option to be the end-all and be-all of the debate. Single Payer. Supplementary insurance on top of Single Payer is ok, as long as it is non-profit, but START with Single Payer.

Your position on torture is ok, as in "we should stop". But I want George W. Bush and Richard Cheney in Federal Prison for the war crimes that they have committed, and you don't seem to agree.

I appreciated the need to create a government stimulus package, but I don't believe that what you did is going to be strong enough or big enough to really make a difference in time. The United States is slowing down in our slide towards the economic abyss, but we're still falling. Balance the budget this year. How? I want the top marginal tax rate restored to what it was under Jimmy Carter. 70% - 90%. You don't. You seem to believe that the super-rich are entitled to our national wealth. I don't.

You may be the best President in a generation. However, because the generation we are both part of seems to be the "gimme mine generation", you are not showing yourself to be the Progressive President that we need.

Good luck, and I'm going to fight as hard as I possibly can for what I believe in.

Chad Lupkes

Thursday, June 11, 2009

HR 676: The video series

Found this on YouTube

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday, June 08, 2009

Dear Senator Murray,

The only long term solution to the Health Care Crisis in the United States is for the Government to establish a single payer insurance system where everyone is in the same risk pool. You stated in your speech on May 30th that people should be able to keep their current health insurance if they wish. I have health insurance through my employer, and they helped me fight and beat cancer in 2003. As good as it is, I still believe that private, for-profit businesses should not be in the health insurance business. I don't want anyone making a profit based on denying claims.

A public option is a good first step, but it MUST NOT be considered a solution. The ONLY solution is Single Payer.

Thank you for your consideration of my views.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Chase Online Banking

I've been using an online service to track all of my accounts, and the move from WAMU to Chase has been really frustrating.

Transactions, especially POS transactions, remain in "pending" status for days. This makes it very difficult to accurately keep track of the account balances in any third party software.

I'm looking at local credit unions to see what they have to offer. Should have started there in the first place.