Let's Wonk On CAP's Public Option Thingy!

If Medicare For All doesn't float your boat, how about this?

Yr Wonkette is generally in favor of single payer healthcare of some sort -- there are a bunch of different models used around the world, and they all manage to cover more people at lower cost than the patchwork of systems the US has. But if the electorate isn't able to bring itself to embrace Medicare for All in 2020, the Center for American Progress has an alternative proposal, "Medicare Extra," that would achieve the goal of universal coverage while allowing private insurance to continue. Think of it as a Really Big Public Option. The CAP is betting its alternative would prove so popular that employer-provided private plans would, over time, gradually fade away as more people go with Medicare Extra. Let's get wonky on it!

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Trump Fails To Gag Planned Parenthood

Guess some people and women's health organizations can't be bribed!

This past February, the Trump administration instituted a gag rule banning any organization that receives Title X funds from having anything to do with performing abortions or counseling patients about abortion. This means that if you are one of the four million low-income people who receive reproductive health care through Title X funds, you cannot discuss the option of abortion with your own doctor. That is pretty messed up!

Planned Parenthood agrees. Now that a judge has allowed the rule to go into effect while it is being challenged by Planned Parenthood, the American Medical Association, and several other groups, Planned Parenthood says it will stop taking federal funding. Time to get our our checkbooks, America!

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'Pro-Lifers' Don't Think Veterans Deserve In Vitro Treatments, Because 'Pro-Life'

Guess they hate the troops!

If there is anything the Right loves to talk about, it is how much they love fetuses and also the troops. They just can't get enough of them, they say, which perhaps explains why they keep dragging us all into unnecessary wars and opposing sex education in schools.

Thus, it may surprise you to learn that congressional Democrats are having a hell of a time trying to make permanent a federal program meant to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization for veterans whose injuries in combat have rendered them infertile. And yet they are! Why? Because many forced birth enthusiasts oppose IVF treatment, on account of the fact that (unless someone wants to go full Octomom) it requires the destruction of fertilized embryos.

I will give you a moment to try and process the mental gymnastics one would need to do in order to be more concerned about the destruction of embryos than they are about war, which so often results in the destruction of non-embryonic people.

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Cops Behaving Badly

Trump Idiots Know Who To Blame For Trump's Baby Jails: DEMOCRATS!

We watch the Sunday shows so you don't have to!

After Mother Nature pissed all over Trump's wannabe-dictator attempted hijacking of the Fourth of July, the Sunday shows got back to discussing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Not the influx of asylum seekers fleeing from horrible conditions in Central America (made worse by Trump cutting off aid to them), but the way our country has decided to cage them in concentration camps internment camps ... um ..."happy fun time summer camps"? After a visit by a congressional delegation and the Trump Administration's own DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) report provided video/photographic/written evidence of the deplorable conditions occurring in our name, it was time for Trump officials to deal with the real culprits: Democrats!

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2020 Congressional Elections

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally Can Win Election If She Just Can Avoid 'Opponents'

She's freaking out over the makeup guy.

Martha McSally is worried. Everything was coming up Martha when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey picked her to fill the late John McCain's Senate seat. But now the junior senator has to hold that seat in 2020, and actual elections are where she has her troubles. Kyrsten Sinema, she of the fierce wardrobe, defeated McSally last year when they were running against each other for Jeff Flake's old seat. Arizona hadn't elected a Democratic senator since 1988.

McSally's likely challenger next year is Mark Kelly, who's a goddamn astronaut. We appreciate her service as an Air Force pilot but really, Kelly's been in space, where the Klingons are. Kelly's identical twin is also an astronaut. McSally has four siblings and none of them are astronauts or even her twin. She can't win this.

Besides, this is Kelly's campaign announcement video. When his awesome wife, Gabby Giffords, shows up, we just lose it. Why are we even bothering with an election?

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Peggy Noonan Watched Chuck Todd's Trump Interview, Thinks That Trump Kid's Got MOXIE!

It's Mad Libs from HELL.

Yes, yes, we really will get to the 912 craziest things President Brokebrain said to Chuck Todd in just a second. But the old codger was demented yesterday, he's demented today, and tomorrow's forecast calls for ... oh, hey, demented with a chance of senility! Anyway, we got distracted because Todd aired the interview in studio for a distinguished panel, and Dame Peggy had #Thoughts.

PEGGY NOONAN: Do you remember, on The Ed Sullivan Show, when we were little children, there was a guy who came and balanced plates? There'd be a stick. He'd put a plate up. He'd get it going.

TODD: Sure.

In point of fact, the last episode of The Ed Sullivan show aired before Chuck Todd or any of the other panelists were born. But, please, Madame, go on with this extremely apt analogy.

NOONAN: He'd get another, get another. And then he'd run back and forth, just trying to keep them all up. Balancing plates is part of the tone of this administration and of this president. Look, it's nonstop harum-scarum. Even something that, in the past, might've been as cleanly, logically handled as the Iran thing became nonstop harum-scarum. "It has this meaning. No, it has this meaning. I did it for this reason." He is exhausting. I think a threat for the president is that he tends to exhaust, not into submission, but into ultimate aversion. Many people in the middle, who'd like to, you know, be sympathetic towards him but just think, "Oh, my goodness. This is too much."

There you have it. Donald Trump is like a novelty act from the late '60s, all spinning plates and chaos. And you look for rhyme or reason, but there is none, because it's just a pointless distraction that grabs your attention briefly before it all comes clattering down and you're left standing there in a pile of broken crockery.

Sadly, Peggy Noonan got closest of all to acknowledging, in her own particular argot, the plain truth that Donald Trump is a mountebank, a card sharper, a flimflam man. He's an illiterate bullshitter who has flown by the seat of his pants his entire miserable life and can't string together a single coherent sentence. Forget NO CLOTHES -- the emperor is naked in a puddle of his own filth, eating belly button lint and babbling incoherently about people who left office years ago.

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Trump Wants To Run On Healthcare In 2020. Well, If He Insists!

Nonexistent plan upgraded from 'terrific' to 'phenomenal'!

It's been a bit over two months since the last time Donald Trump said he was fixing to roll out a new healthcare plan, which went nowhere, so -- right on schedule! -- Trump is talking about rolling out a new healthcare plan that will also go nowhere, because he's just that smart. You see, Trump figures that since a lot of Democrats got elected to the House last year on a promise of protecting healthcare from his administration, it only makes sense to offer a real alternative to Obamacare, one even better than Medicare For All, by promising even more impressively positive adjectives without getting bogged down in details.

Still, maybe this time it'll be different, since Trump took at least one very definite action on health last week. Get ready for the very new, surprisingly cost-effective Don't Cough Around MeCare plan.

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Julián Castro: GET THE LEAD OUT!

Eat lead, jerks!

Suddenly, America is swimming in news about lead, that fun neurotoxin that's poisoned our children since the early 20th century, all for the sake of shiny home paints and no-knock gasoline. Prosecutors in Michigan shocked residents of Flint by abruptly dropping all charges against officials whose actions resulted in that city's water crisis; Bloomberg Politics ran a major editorial on the slow-rolling public health crisis; and presidential candidate Julián Castro unveiled a brand-new policy proposal to finally clean up lead nationwide, and to help those victimized by nearly a century of neglect. So let's dive in, no HAZMAT suit necessary. But just to be on the safe side, please refrain from licking your screen, OK?

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New York Decides Religion Is Not A Good Enough Reason To Spread Measles

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs bill eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.

Once upon a time, in the year 2000, the CDC declared measles "eliminated" — thanks to vaccines. Of course, that was seven whole years before the the former co-host of MTV's Singled Out decided to start going around telling everyone that those same vaccines caused her kid's autism. Since then, we've had more than a few measles outbreaks, but this year has been the worst so far. In the United States this year, there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases, more than half of them in New York alone.

Many of these cases have been concentrated in Orthodox Jewish communities, where the issue is not so much "autism," but rather the belief that vaccines violate Jewish law in some capacity. This belief is disputed by the Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union, both of which strongly encourage parents to get their kids vaccinated. Of course, there are also a lot of people who only pretend to have "sincere religious objections" but in fact just believe in the ridiculous autism conspiracy theories.

In response to this outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill yesterday eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.

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Jessica Biel Apparently Not Medical Doctor We All Thought She Was

Well that's a shame.

The WTF media moment of the week was this tweet from the supposed "top experts" in health at the "Today" show:

Jessica Biel played "bad girl" Mary Camden -- she drank and smoked pot -- on the WB show "7th Heaven." Biel later went on to enjoy a mediocre film career, including such gems as I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry and The A-Team. According to IMDB, she's still making movies. Who knew? She's also married to Justin Timberlake, whom people used to think was cool. Nowhere in this impressive resume do we see anything about having a medical degree. So how is Biel "reigniting" a debate over an issue that should be settled already?

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How Are We Treating Women Shooting Small Aliens Out Of Their Vaginas Or Stomachs Today?

Canadian researchers studied the US. We probably did not surprise them eh.

A major nationwide study of women's experiences during pregnancy and childbirth finds that about one in six pregnant women experience some sort of mistreatment by healthcare professionals, and that women of color are much more likely to get yelled at or scolded. Other factors that lead to poor treatment include disagreeing with a doctor or midwife about the best course of treatment and having a partner who's black -- regardless of the woman's own race. While the study doesn't correlate the shabby treatment with actual maternal or infant health outcomes, it sure seems of a piece with last year's ProPublica/NPR series that reported on the appallingly high maternal death rate for black women, which is four times higher than mortality for white mothers. That public health crisis is finally getting attention from Congress, too.

The "Giving Voice to Mothers" study, focusing on "inequity and mistreatment during pregnancy and childbirth in the United States," was published in the journal Reproductive Health Tuesday, by a team of researchers led by Saraswathi Vedam, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, which would explain why the authors keep typing "women of colour." The team developed its questionnaire -- with input from patients -- using seven categories of mistreatment of pregnant women identified in a 2015 study by the World Health Organization. Of the 2,700 women surveyed, the researchers found:

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Arizona Supreme Court Stops Harshing Medical Marijuana's Mellow

Sad Yavapai County Attorney can't keep throwing people in prison for legally possessing pot.

In 2010, Arizona voters legalized medical marijuana. Since then, one local prosecutor has made it her life's mission to throw legal medical marijuana cardholders in prison.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk took it upon herself to decide that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), which defines marijuana as "all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant," meant that medical cardholders could only have pot flowers, leaves, and seeds. Not edibles, not extracts, not hash, not vape juice, not topical ointments — despite the fact that all of these things come from cannabis resin, which is undeniably a part of the plant.

Based on the arguments she makes against marijuana, it seems like Sheila Polk's main source of information is Reefer Madness. Or maybe Jeff Sessions.

Despite her crusade to keep sick people from their medication because pot is icky and bad, Polk has refused to state publicly whether she has ever smoked pot. We're sure she refuses to answer that question because she has totally never hit a joint.

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State/Local Politics

Civil Rights Leader Rev. William Barber Finally, Uh, Brought To Justice

Guess he's learned his lesson!

Reverend William Barber was convicted of trespassing Thursday, bringing to an end an epic legal saga that hardly anybody knew was happening. The civil rights leader was found guilty on a second-degree misdemeanor for leading a protest inside the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017. Surely now that he's got a criminal record he'll think twice before daring to lead a protest or do any of that civil disobedience stuff.

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California Doing SEXY MEDI-CAL STUFF, Oooh, Like That!

*Serge Gainsbourg riff here*

With the Trump administration still trying to drown Obamacare in a Supreme Court-shaped bathtub, the state of California is busily passing a ton of bills to improve healthcare coverage for its residents, because Cali is just contrary that way. Let's take a look at some of the dozen or so healthcare bills California's lege has passed so far, which will improve both the state's Obamacare exchanges -- "Covered California" -- and its Medicaid, "Medi-Cal."

For starters, the legislature voted this week to expand Medi-Cal coverage to include a large portion of the state's undocumented population. In 2016, California extended Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented kids, meaning that about 250,000 children now have healthcare. This year, coverage for undocumented adults will be expanded, with Medi-Cal covering young adults aged 19 to 25, and all seniors over 65, regardless of immigration status. Because federal Medicaid funds are only allowed to go to citizens and permanent residents, California will have to pick up the cost of the coverage expansion, but that's a cost they're willing to cover, because 1) hospitals cover emergency Medicaid care at higher costs, so why not cover more people with basic care for less money, and B) damn it, healthcare is a human right. The state Assembly's version of the bill originally called for covering all undocumented adults, but Gov. Gavin Newsom wouldn't support the $3.4 billion price tag, so instead the Senate's more limited coverage was passed. Still room for improvement, but that's what future sessions are for. And not only will Californians be healthier, it'll piss off Fox News. We approve.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elijah Cummings, Activists Beat Big Pharma Over The Head With Generic PReP

A Nice Time!

The pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences, Inc. -- heck of a name for these times -- recently announced US sales of a generic version of its HIV prevention drug Truvada would begin a year earlier than originally planned. The stepped-up schedule for the generic was at least in part the result of pressure from activists, who have made a lot of noise about the fact that Gilead's huge revenues from Truvada -- about $3 billion annually -- came only after the basic research for the drug was done at taxpayer expense, largely through grants from the Centers for Disease Control, which holds the patent on the drug.

At a House Oversight Committee hearing last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez let one of the witnesses, Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day, know she wasn't personally blaming him or his greed for the high cost of the drug, which prevents the spread of HIV through "pre-exposure prophylaxis" (PrEP). No, that's all a result of the terrible incentives that come from the fact that the US, alone among developed countries, treats healthcare as a commodity, not a right for all. Which is why a monthly supply of Truvada costs nearly $1800 here, and roughly eight dollars in Australia.

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Alabama Republicans Too Stupid To Know Infanticide Is Already Illegal

Related: Alabama has the second worst education system in the country.

Just this past week, US News ranked Alabama 49th in the nation for education, with the lowest overall reading and math scores. They probably would have ranked 50th, but there was no data for their high school graduation rates.

The five states ranked best in the country for education were Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut, in that order.

Also, this week, the Alabama House passed a bill that would make it a punishable crime for doctors to refuse to treat babies "born alive" after abortion.

HB 491 reads:

If a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion, the physician who performed the abortion or attempted the abortion shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious physician would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age. Failure to do so is a Class 23 B felony and is punishable by not less than 20 years in state prison and a fine of not less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).

More than 90 percent of abortions occur before 13 weeks. Only 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks. The current law in Alabama -- not the horrorshow that just passed -- prohibits abortion after 23 weeks. Premature births at 22 weeks have a 0-3 percent survival rate, and premature "births" at 21 weeks have a survival rate of 0 percent.

There are not babies being "born alive" after abortions and then left to die because no one wants them. That's not a damn thing, and even when pressed, Alabama Republicans could not come up with a single example of this having happened. They just feel in their hearts that it does.

What can happen, rarely, is a medical situation where doctors must induce labor because the mother's life is at risk. In these cases, the children are wanted, but do not always survive because -- as mentioned just one paragraph ago -- the survival rates on premature babies are not great. That being said, federal law states that as soon as someone is born, they're a person, and therefore entitled to all rights thereof. One of those rights is that no one can kill you, legally. Doctors have an obligation to save lives, but when there is a situation—regardless of how old the person is!!!—where the patient has no chance of survival, the next of kin is given the option to continue or not continue with life-saving efforts. That is how things work.

It's almost as if there is some kind of connection between passing a law this stupid and having the worst reading comprehension skills in the nation.

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