Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Legislator Snapshot: Jo Ann Emerson R-Cape Girardeau

There is a post on Gone Mild about the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Eighth District, Jo Ann Emerson, and her antics last weekend during the debate on health care reform legislation. When I reached the end of the post, I noticed that Dan had failed to provide any links to support his opinion, which is not like him, so I decided to see what I could find.

The Perry Bacon, Jr. piece at WaPo is is probably the most widely circulated report on Rep. Emerson's role as an active cheerleader for the protesters. It includes the reports of the ugly incidents that occurred on Saturday. Bill Lambrecht's stltoday.com report confirms Rep. Emerson helped lead the crowd's chants of "Kill the Bill". While the picture at the top of this post does not include Rep. Emerson, it is likely the same vantage point from which she rallied the troops.

After the reports on the ugliness that ensued on Saturday, there is no indication that Rep. Emerson publicly denounced those actions before going out help stoke the crowd further. Interestingly, Rep. Emerson generally communicates in measured tones and refrains from participating in the Republican's crazy reindeer games.

Last summer, she participated in some events with Emanuel Cleaver.

Back in March 2009, she praised Barack Obama for his "passion on the [health care reform] issue" and declared health care reform had been a passion of hers for 13 years.

Back in 2007, she was one of four Republican members of the House who supported legislation that would have required U.S. troops to be withdrawn from Iraq within one year.

Her criticism of the HCR legislation has generally been specific to the policies, if not always accurate. In this audio interview she gives these objections to the HCR legislation:

  • $500 Million in Cuts in Medicare

  • Insufficient reimbursements for Doctors in rural areas

  • Sweetheart deal for Big Pharma

  • Boon for Insurance Companies

  • Prefers a Bi-Partisan approach: Claims Republicans not included whatsoever.

  • I share Rep. Emerson's objections to bullet points three and four. I am ignorant about physician reimbursements in rural areas. That leaves the first and last points. The first one is accurate but misleading, since the plan reduces the payments to private insurers providing Medicare Advantage coverage which is subsidized by regular Medicare recipients. If Rep. Emerson really doesn't like government policies that are a "boon for insurance companies" she should support this aspect of the HCR legislation.

    The last bullet point is balderdash. From the the web site of the Republicans on the House Energy Committee, which crafted the initial legislation, here is a list of Republican amendments that were approved by the committee (including one from Rep. Greg Walden which would benefit her rural constituents):

    Cliff Stearns, R-FL., would prohibit the Government plan from receiving a 'bailout' from taxpayer funds.
    Anna Eshoo, D-CA., Jay Inslee, D-WA., and Joe Barton, R-TX., would create a pathway for non-pioneer drug companies to manufacture 'follow-on' biologics.
    Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., would prevent the new "Center for Quality Improvement" created under this bill from developing methodologies for rationing care.
    Phil Gingrey, R-GA.,would prevent government bureaucrats at the new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (CCER)from dictating to physicians what treatments they can or can't offer.
    Rogers, R-MI., would prevent the Federal government and private insurers from using Federal comparative effectiveness research for care rationing or limiting reimbursement levels. T
    Tim Murphy, R-PA., would require the new Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research and the new Health Choices Commission to consult with the specialty colleges and academies of medicine in determining any official recommendation or standards for best practices.
    John Sullivan, R-OK., would require the HHS Secretary to eliminate duplicative government programs, reducing waste and inefficiency in the realm of government healthcare.
    Michael Burgess, R-TX., would authorize States to create an option under Medicaid to allow individuals already on Medicaid that have annual prescription drug costs of over $200,000 to hold employment and be productive members of society.
    Anna Eshoo, D-CA., and Mike Rogers, R-MI., allows the primary physicians, under section 1301 of the bill, to be eligible regardless of specialty.
    Michael Burgess, R-TX., would ensure that all qualified health plans (including the public plan) under the bill will have a reasonable and accessible utilization review and appeals process so that insurance companies (or the public plan) aren't allowed to deny needed care and step in-between a patient and their doctor.
    Ed Whitfield, R-KY., would place a moratorium on the reimbursement cuts to 10 of the top 11 procedures performed by interventional pain physicians in an Ambulatory Surgical Setting.
    Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR., offered two amendments en bloc.
    The first amendment would help ensure that the demographics of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) more accurately represent the demographics of Medicare recipients.
    The second amendment would help ensure that the new "Health Benefits Advisory Committee" established in the Democratic legislation accurately represents the interests of rural Americans. Currently 21 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Mr. Walden's amendment would ensure that at least one quarter of the Committee's members be practitioners who have legitimate experience practicing in a rural area for at least a five-year period preceding their appointment. .
    Rep. Steve Buyer, R-IN., offered two amendments en bloc to protect veterans' access to health insurance
    One amendment would allow the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to retain sole authority over their respective health care systems.
    The other amendment would allow veterans enrolled in the VA health care system to obtain coverage through the new Health Insurance Exchange in addition to their VA coverage.
    Shimkus, R-IL., would add language to the bill ensuring that there is no religious discrimination for patients seeking spiritual care under plans in the new Health Insurance Exchange.

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