Governors, District Attorneys in Arizona and Tennessee Tangle Over Suits To Overturn Health Care Law


Posted on 8th April 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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 There are now two more cases, drawn along party lines, of state governors locking horns with their attorney generals over lawsuits challenging President Obama’s health care reform.

Arizona, like 15 other states, said Tuesday that it is filing suit challenging the constitutionality of the nation’s new health care law, despite the objections of the state’s Attorney General. In Tennessee, the state Attorney General has also balked at filing such a challenge.

Rather conveniently, Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill April 1 that allows her to get around Attorney General Terry Goddard, a Democrat, and file the anti-health care reform lawsuit.

In Arizona, Republicans claim that the new health care law violates the Constitution because it mandates that people buy private health insurance. Goddard argues that the suit is frivolous and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

So now Brewer’s general counsel, Joseph Kanefield, will handle the suit for the governor and the state.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper claims that his state Legislature’s bid to try to throw out the federal health care legislation is most likely unconstitutional, so he can’t enforce its efforts.

 Cooper on Tuesday offered his legal opinion that if the Legislature wants to take on Obama’s new health care law, it will have to get its own lawyer to do it.

 The attorney general contends that U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to pre-empt state law.


Georgia Attorney General Faces Possible Impeachment For Refusing Go File Suit Over Health Care Reform


Posted on 1st April 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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More on the politics of no. The Republicans continue to think that if they can continue to paint meaningful health care reform as some breed of anarchy, socialism and treason, that no one will bother to look as to how much better the country will be with fair rules governing health insurance. The old axim of never letting the facts get in the way of a good story, sure seems to apply to this one.

When I studied Constitutional law in 1977, the basic rule was that the Federal government had the power to regulate anything that involved interstate commerce. Well there might be some “commerce” that isn’t interstate, but it is clearly not health care, one of the biggest and most comprehensive industries in our society. If it is constitutional for the federal government to tax working people for retired people’s Medicare, it is legal to require everyone be insured.

Yet, if the Republicans believe there is some political advantage to calling the new Health Care law bad, so they keep doing it. The louder they say it, the more votes they believe they will get. Let us hope that by November, the majority of the country will see that all that they stand for is nothing.

In Georgia Republicans are calling for the impeachment of the state Attorney General, because he has refused to file suit over the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care overhaul.

In the Georgia state Legislature 31 Republicans Tuesday signed a resolution seeking the impeachment of Democrat Thurbert Baker. Baker is also a candidate in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, where incumbent Republican Sonny Perdue can’t seek a third term under the law.

Fourteen states have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the new health care reform, according to The New York Times. But Perdue has charged that this litigation is frivolous and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Perdue has indicated that to get around Baker, he will appoint a “special attorney general,” a lawyer or legal team to file suit on Georgia’s behalf.

To be approved, the impeachment resolution would need the support of the majority of the Republican controlled, 180-member Georgia House.

Then there would have to be a trial in the state Senate, and Baker could be found guilty if two-thirds of the 56 senators went against him. But it would be tough for Baker to lose that vote, because the Republicans control just 60 percent of the Senate seats.

Wisconsin Democrats Nix Attorney General’s Plan To Sue Over Federal Health-Care Reform


Posted on 26th March 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Wisconsin Democrats have derailed Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s plan to file suit against the federal government over the new health-insurance reform.

If Van Hollen had succeeded, Wisconsin would have joined more than a dozen attorney generals across the nation that are suing to challenge the constitutionality of the health-care reform that’s been approved by Congress.

But Van Hollen couldn’t proceed with a suit unless he had approval from Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle or one of the houses of the state Legislature, which are controlled by Democrats. Neither the governor or legislative leaders would give Van Hollen authorization.

In arguing in favor of the lawsuit, Van Hollen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “This is an issue of the federal government overreaching beyond what constitutional powers they have, which is an assault on (the Legislature’s) powers.”

But Doyle shot right back in a letter to Van Hollen.

“The lawsuit you suggest is a frivolous and political attempt to thwart the action of Congress and the law of the country,” Doyle wrote. “The State of Wisconsin will not enter into litigation intended to deny health care for tens of thousands of residents.”

Primary Care Reimbursement Under Health Care Reform


Posted on 28th December 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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We have heard much about the size of the new Health Care Reform Act, something nearly 2,000 pages. We have heard very little about what is inside of it except that it will cover more people, provide coverage for those with preexisting conditions and expand the coverage by as much as 30 million people. But how is it going to cut costs? And how will it assure that low income people truly have access to medical care?

One of the provisions included in the Senate plan is to increase the reimbursement rate of primary care doctors who are seeing Medicaid patients. See Health Care Business News at In that article they explain:
A key objective of the bill is to bolster the ranks of the primary care workforce. The legislation includes a raft or new funding and measures aimed to encourage doctors to move into primary care . And in a measure to help increase transparency, the legislation requires HHS to develop a “Physician Compare” web site where Medicare beneficiaries can compare measures of physician quality and a patient’s perception of care.
This is an important part of the plan. Primary care doctors are in my opinion, the most important doctors in our system and sadly the lowest paid. See

Our current medical system is built around the concept of a gatekeeper, the primary care or family practice doctor. If you have a problem, it is only through treatment by the family care doctor or referral to a specialist from the primary care doctor that you get treated. Thus it is the gatekeeper who plays the most important role in diagnosis of disease. It is also the gatekeeper who must retain the most overall knowledge of medicine as he must be able to spot a problem across the entire spectrum of medical diagnosis. People think that because they are less specialized they have lower skills. For our system to work properly, that can’t be the case. As capitalist, if we want to attract our best doctors to this role, we have to pay them like our best doctors.

When I look at brain injury diagnosis, I see the enormous role that family doctors have to play. In my model, each concussed person would go back to the Emergency Room the day after his or her injury to be seen by the same doctors who saw them on the day of concussion, to determine if there was continuing or worsening symptoms. That is not what is happening in our current system. What happens in our current system is that the concussed patient is told to follow-up with their family doctor, if they get worse. If the family doctor does not know more about diagnosing a concussion than the average neurologist, then the diagnosis and the documentation of symptomotology that is so important will be missed. The reason that second day documentation is so significant is that without it, it becomes extremely difficult to sort out the issue of whether the symptoms that come later are related to brain injury.

My pet project – had I a lobbyist in my pocket for concussion care reform – would be to require the follow-up visit to the ER. Since I don’t have those kind of connections, this provision to increase access (and compensation to family doctors) is a step in the right direction. Now we must do what we can to educate the primary care doctor that testing for amnesia in the days after the accident will tell us more about the severity of injury and potential for disability than all of the scans that have been or will ever be invented.

Health Care Reform Now Awaits Reconciliation


Posted on 27th December 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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The New York Times is the world’s best newspaper. I learned that in Journalism school almost 40 years ago. It is still true today. Like all newspapers, it is at risk of failure because of the revolutionary shift in advertising revenues caused by the rise in the internet. I never subscribed to the New York Times, because I was a Midwesterner and it just didn’t seem practical. Well the NY Times is now part of my daily reading, because they have perhaps the best online newspaper: I sure hopes the webpage helps the newspaper survive.

I was newly impressed with the NY Times this morning when I read their analysis of the two health care proposals in our Congress, the House version and the Senate version. I think it is a must read for anyone concerned about the health care debate, or about the health of brain injured people. That article is here: If you are required to register to get to this page, by all means, register. In fact, make the your home page, I did.

This article has the most comprehensive explanation of the two bills in Congress and a simple and reasoned explanation of which aspects of each bill should be retained. We hope that our Senators are capable of seeing the big picture and allowing small compromises to get this historic legislation passed. We hope our progressive colleagues in the House don’t blow up the coalition on Health Care Reform over a liberal agenda that can wait for another day.

Read the details. This comes under the category of things you need to know as a citizen.

Health Care Reform Gets Over its Biggest Hurdle


Posted on 24th December 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Congratulations to Harry Reid for getting a health care reform bill thru the Senate. After 50 years of effort, the Democrats have almost done it. The next step is reconciliation with the House version and even though the outcome isn’t perfect, it is a huge step. While President Barack Obama has gotten criticism from every direction in the process, he must get high grades for this achievement. When he signs a Health Care Reform bill into law, it will be a moment in history as historic as his election.

I admit that there have been times in the last few weeks when I wondered if the special interest control of our legislatures might ultimately mean that the American system of making laws was broken. But Obama, Reid and Pelosi have found a way to get this done. The found a way to get it done despite the most intensive lobbying effort in history and a complete blockade of legislative cooperation by the Republicans.

Is this the bill that would have best for me? Of course not. I would have preferred the Medicare buy in at 55 because of course, I am 56. Is it the bill that would have been best for all Americans? Probably not. But is it a tremendous step towards coverage for all? Yes it is. After 50 years of nothing, after the collapse of the last major attempt led by two of the great politicians of the last 50 years, Bill and Hillary Clinton, to get this bill out of the Senate is remarkable.

There is some sausage making left over, but when it is done, millions will have health coverage that didn’t, and even though it isn’t everyone, it is still millions whose will have access to medical care.

Medical Malpractice – Consumers versus Corporate Interests


Posted on 15th September 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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In my previous blog I asked the question: Are Republican’s immune from Medical Malpractice? Of course they are not. Are consumers immune to big business and its institutional greed and corruption? Sadly not. Yet the Republican’s are all about the politics of converting the interests of Big Business into scare tactics aimed at average people.

Let us take an average person. Francisco Torres was a retired assembly line worked with a cancerous tumor on his left kidney. Sounds like the kind of person the anti-health care reform lobby has been courting. Fear of death panels. Cuts to medicare. A year ago, Mr. Torres would have probably thought that tort reform was good for the country and would lower his medical costs.

Not any longer. When Mr. Torres went in for surgery to remove the diseased kidney, the doctor cut out his healthy one. See the Press Enterprise News: According to the
A retired assembly line worker is suing a Riverside hospital and doctor, claiming that they removed his healthy kidney instead of the diseased one. He has to endure dialysis every three days to stay alive.

On July 14, Dr. H. Erik Wahlstrom, who was performing surgery at Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center, was to remove Francisco Torres’ left kidney, Torres’ lawsuit states. Instead, Wahlstrom removed Torres’ healthy right kidney before realizing the mistake, said Shirley Watkins, Torres’ Los Angeles attorney.

Shortly after surgery, Wahlstrom told Torres’ daughter what he had done, Watkins said. Torres said through an interpreter that Wahlstrom apologized to him. But Torres, who does not speak or read English, said he was still groggy from the surgery and has little recollection of what was said.
Guess what? The hospital is now denying all claims in the civil suit. According to “Hospital officials have denied responsibility. Neither Wahlstrom nor representatives from Parkview Community Hospital returned telephone calls made Tuesday and Wednesday.” If there is anything about medical malpractice claims that drives up the cost of medical bills, which almost all studies have disproved, it is the cost of frivilous and obstructionist defenses to those claims.

When you listen to the outraged rhetoric about how trial lawyers are ruining the country, you don’t hear the stories of people like Mr. Torres. Thus, in my upcoming blogs, I will tell some of those stories. You the reader get to choose. Protect Big Business from the predator trial lawyers, or protect you from the abuses of neglect and greed.