October 27, 2009

Oh you've just got to love this. As Rachel notes, right in the middle of a health care crisis with the swine flu, Republicans are playing politics with a Surgeon General appointment to get even with the Democrats for wanting to investigate a health insurance company. Isn't that special?

Maddow: Next up—remember when President Obama nominated a new Surgeon General? If you don’t remember that it’s because it happened a really long time ago, way back on July 13th when the President announced that Regina Benjamin, a family physician from Alabama who’s going to be his pick. Dr. Benjamin was finally and unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education and Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this month, but she hasn’t received a full vote in the Senate.

Senate Republicans are holding up her nomination as a favor to the health insurance industry. As we reported on this show last month the health insurance company Humana sent out a mailer targeting seniors that was designed to scare them about health reform. The mailer said in part “millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many … important benefits and services”. This is not only quite in poor taste and factually dubious, but quite possibly in violation of the marketing rules that Humana has to follow as a provider of part of Medicare.

Rules designed so that Medicare patients won’t be confused about who’s sending them information about their benefits—confused about whether it’s the insurance companies or the government.

Well Democratic Senator Max Baucus responded to that mailer from Humana by urging the Department of Health and Human Services to take action, which they did in the form of starting an investigation into Humana’s mailer. It is still ongoing and as Roll Call newspaper now reports it is because of that investigation that Senate Republicans are holding up the nomination of Dr. Regina Benjamin to the Surgeon General of the United States.

So the time where there have been a thousand deaths from swine flu and the President has declared a national emergency, we as a country don’t need deserve a Surgeon General because Republicans want the health insurance industry to be left alone to scare old people about health reform.

Country first?

No Rachel, I think that would be insurance lobbyist first.

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