Friday, August 28, 2009

Fan Fiction

The YouTube video of Mike Rogers' opening statement on health care has been popping up on quite a few conservative blogs lately, as posters excitedly swoon over his "common sense" stance on health care reform.

There's no question that Mr. Rogers is a persuasive speaker. He has a friendly demeanor and an ordinary-guy style; he's known for his use of heart-tugging emotional anecdotes to make a point.

The only problem? All that emotion camouflages a lot of bad information.

Mr. Rogers is openly skeptical of government's role in health care
The very innovation of who we are is what got us here, and it wasn't the federal government and it wasn't Washington, D.C.
Where is the "here" that this swell innovation has brought us? "Here" is where an American Journal of Medicine study found that 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were caused by medical problems. Three-quarters of those declaring bankruptcy for medical reasons had health insurance. Most were well-educated home owners with middle-class occupations.

Yet Mr. Rogers continues to rail against the dark results of government involvement:
They can actually go in and unenroll individuals -- unprecedented power... They can rip you off your own invididual plan. They can disenroll your whole company off a certain plan.
That sounds pretty awful... until you realize that private insurance companies already unenroll individuals and companies without their consent.

This is called rescission, and it is still legal for private insurers to unenroll members without warning.

Rescinding thousands of policyholders a year enabled California insurers to save millions of dollars. Health Net Inc., for example, figured that it avoided $35 million in medical expenses over six years. The loss of coverage left individuals awash in medical bills and without healthcare when they needed it most, and it left many hospitals and physicians with uncollectable debt. (emphasis added)

Mr. Rogers has spoken openly about being diagnosed with bladder cancer as a teenager, and firmly asserts that he wouldn't be alive today if cost-conscious bureaucrats had interfered with his treatment.

He's apparently unaware of the interference already being run by bureaucrats in the insurance industry. This year, the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report on the problems faced by cancer patients who are covered by private insurance.

For these patients, having private health insurance at the time of their cancer diagnosis did not protect them from high out-of-pocket costs – leaving them with large debts to cover their treatment costs and forcing some to skip or delay necessary treatments.

“The stories of people with cancer in this study and video documentary show what our earlier survey work found: that the insurance system often fails people when they need it most, when they get really sick,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman, Ph.D.

“Cancer patients too often find out that their insurance doesn't protect them when they need care the most,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., national chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “High out-of-pocket costs coupled with the high cost of insurance premiums can force cancer patients to incur huge debt, and to delay or forgo life-saving treatments."

The crazy thing is that Mr. Rogers, a beneficiary of generous government health coverage for most of his life, is a staunch defender of the health care status quo.

Wonder if it has anything to do with the money he and his PAC have received from health-related industries?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Funnies

Quite some time ago, a Neighbor signed up for "Mike Rogers" GoogleAlerts.

Now, a vast number of men share this name; the Neighbor thought it was kind of funny to read about the New Zealand rugby club manager, the California skateboarder and the Virginia police chief (not to mention the rather famous blogger). So many guys named Mike Rogers are thoughtful, productive members of their communities.

This amusing little GoogleAlert arrived late today:
Rhino Assembly Corporation has announced that Mr. Mike Rogers has joined their team as Material Handling Manager.
Why is this amusing, you ask?

Because the Neighbor was doing too many things at once when the Google Alert came in. Glancing at the headline, she mis-read "Rhino" as "RINO" and thought it was just a PR hack's way of rewriting the story of Michigan Mike Rogers chairing the NRCC Incumbent Retention committee (yay, Patriots!).

Reading the story, it became pretty clear that it was a real story about a real materials manager at a real company... but since it's Friday, the Neighbor started musing on the joke possibilities:
  • The NRCC assembles candidates
  • Mike Rogers has been hired to handle them
  • The company is impressed with his handling experience
  • Mike Rogers hopes to contribute to their expanding market.
Best wishes to the Rhino Assembly Corporation and their new manager, not-a-politician Mike Rogers, as they run a successful business in a very tough economic climate.

Can't really say the same to the NRCC and Michigan's flip-flopping, definitely-a-politician Mike Rogers, as they play games with health care and national security.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

With apologies to MacBeth, Mike Rogers is doing a good job of turning national security into "a tale told by an idiot."

Stop by DailyKos for the full discussion.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hamster Wheel

Mr. Rogers has certainly earned his month-long (paid) summer vacation! He was running full-tilt on the D.C. hamster wheel, squeaking about health care, fiscal responsibility and Wall Street compensation.

A few weeks ago, Mr. Rogers wasn't sure he'd even bother offering an amendment to the health care bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. He persevered, though, and managed to stick a snake-oil provision into the final version of the E&C bill (Hey, he doesn't use evidence to make decisions, so why should doctors?). Then he voted against the bill -- even though it would have helped families, seniors and thousands of small businesses in the 8th Congressional District.

Mr. Rogers also voted against the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2009, which requires new tax and mandatory spending to be budget-neutral.

Then, he voted against the Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act of 2009. This bill amends the SEC Act of 1934, giving shareholders an advisory vote on golden parachutes and other megabucks types of executive compensation, and "preventing perverse incentives in the compensation practices of financial institutions." (Don't know about you, but if I was a BoA shareholder, I'd think this was a REALLY good idea.)

Mr. Rogers is also squeaking about extending unemployment benefits. He thinks it's a good idea, but he's said that before and then voted against it.

Now that he's home for vacation, it sounds as though he's made time to see the new Harry Potter movie: when asked about the idea of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Standish, he noted that among those prisoners are "some pretty bad actors" trained in "black arts." Who knew that Draco Malfoy would want to hang out in Arenac County?

Seriously, though, Mr. Rogers doesn't represent the people of Standish. The prison is an economic mainstay of the city, providing badly-needed jobs and tax revenue. He's shown zero interest in helping create jobs here in the 8th Congressional District, though he has spent quite a bit of time on employment security for incumbent GOP Congressmen.

Yep, Mr. Rogers is putting in some serious time on the hamster wheel. The only problem with hamster wheels? You can run as hard as you want, but you don't actually go anywhere. And you make a lot of noise in the process.