ATLP’s first project: Term Limits for the Massachusetts House Speaker
Three consecutive Mass House Speakers were convicted of felony charges in recent years. After former Speaker Salvatore DiMasi was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in federal prison in 2009, public outrage resulted in the House imposing a three term limit on the Speaker’s job.
After serving three terms as Speaker, representative Bob DeLeo pushed through a rules change to give himself unlimited terms. ATLP is gathering volunteers to collect over 25,000 certified voter signatures to begin the process of reinstalling term limits on this very powerful government position. YOU can make this project a success by collecting signatures from your relatives and friends. Please contact us.
As former members of the Democratic and Republican parties, we founded the American Term Limits Party in the belief that Congressional and Supreme Court term limits will create real change by transfering political power from well financed special interest groups to ordinary people.
Special interest money flows to the two major parties, enriches them and enables their incumbents to stay in office for decades. That is why the Democratic and Republican parties vigorously fight against term limits behind the scenes, even though favored by 75-85% of Americans, as revealed in several polls.
Term limits will have benefits beyond reducing the power of special interest money. Congressional officeholders will be less distracted by endless fundraising and therefore have time to focus on the work that needs to be done. They will spend less time forging links to special interests and have more time for their constituents. There will be less corruption.
One example of the benefit of term limits: ATLP submits that unaffordable health care costs, now 18% of GDP, are due to special interest legislation. Those costs can be reduced 50%. Read ATLP’s plan to lower health care costs. That plan will benefit individuals who pay for their own health care, taxpayers who pay for the health insurance for millions of government employees, Medicare and Medicaid and companies that buy insurance for their employees.
ATLP will also work for a constitutional amendment to restore political balance by eliminating SuperPacs and Corporations donating to political parties and candidates for elected office. The Supreme Court has wrongfully ruled that special interests can spend unlimited amounts to advertise political “free speech” and thereby control primaries and elections.
Best Congress that Money Can Buy
The Sentinel and Enterprise editorial of Aug 2 regarding the U.S. Congress was indeed a home run. You stated that a Gallup Poll showed only 7 percent of Americans have a great deal of confidence in Congress.
Have you noticed all those partisan congressional votes? How strange it is. Every member of the Democratic Party votes one way, and every member of the Republican Party votes the other way. Obviously the parties dictate how to vote! In turn, the lobbyists dictate what the parties must do. To hell with campaign promises-the little guy does not have a chance.
Yes, congressional campaigns were held and promises were made, but the political mess in Congress goes on and on. What is the problem? In a nutshell, elections do not change the lobbyists, who control the Democratic and Republican parties. Nothing will change unless the parties are forced to change.
The parties roll in dough from lobbyists. That is why we do not have campaign finance reform. That is why there are so many loopholes in the tax code that enables mega-corporations to avoid taxes. That is why we do not have congressional term limits, which 70-75 percent of the voters have wanted for decades.
How can you get real political reform? Support a new political party that will truly fight for campaign finance reform and close mega-corporation tax loopholes.
Let’s get rid of the Best Congress that Money Can Buy and get a Congress that Represents You. Please join ATLP.
Joe Cronin, Vice Chairperson
American Term Limits Party
A Vehicle for Political Reform, ATLP
Many Americans are unhappy with our dysfunctional government and the inability to change bad legislation. Elections do not change the direction of our country. To many of us, the factor limiting change is money in politics. Lobbyists provide money to both parties, control both parties and therefore our government. Let’s look at the proof which abounds in the legislative record.
The Glass Steagall Act was enacted after the Great Depression to prevent another banking collapse. Wall Street bank lobbyists spent $300 million to repeal it. The repeal process was started by President H.W. Bush and completed by President Clinton in 1999. In 2008, just nine years later, Lehman Brothers crashed and set off a great worldwide financial crisis requiring taxpayer bailouts in many countries for “banks too big to fail”. In addition to taxpayer costs, many people lost their jobs and homes.
The North American Free Trade Act, NAFTA, was first negotiated by President H.W. Bush in 1992 and later enacted by President Clinton in 1999. It induced the transfer of manufacturing plants to Mexico and cost many Americans their jobs. NAFTA has been helpful to international corporations, but hurtful to American workers in manufacturing industries. As Michelle Alexander points out in her book, The New Jim Crow, African Americans were disproportionally hurt by the loss of industrial jobs. NAFTA legislation was passed with the support of both parties.
Pharmaceutical companies spent $900 million lobbying Congress over 10 years. Legislation was quietly passed prohibiting the administrators of Medicare D from negotiating discounts on brand name medication. People sent their prescriptions to Canada, but within a year another law was passed making it illegal to get brand name medications from Canadian pharmacies. Consequently Americans spend a whopping $300 billion on medication yearly. Healthcare costs are an astounding $2.7 trillion a year. They were a major issue during the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections. However, candidates from both parties were largely silent about these laws that are crushing Americans with the highest healthcare costs in the world. They were silent because it was difficult to criticize laws endorsed by their own parties, the syndicates.
Such pharmaceutical laws contradict government responsibility for consumer protection and promotion of competition. Such laws expose the hypocrisy of syndicate incumbents who voted for these laws and yet claim they want to cut government regulation, promote free trade and provide affordable healthcare. Remember also, the taxpayer pays for prescription medication for teachers, firemen, policemen and all other city, county, state and federal employees. These laws not only increase consumer costs, but they either increase government budget deficits or cause higher taxes.
The point to be made is that voting out one party did not change legislative outcome in any of the above examples. Both syndicates are controlled by the same lobbyists.
Another factor causing misrepresentative government is that Wall Street banks are no longer American banks. They are international banks concerned about their investments in Asia, South America and elsewhere. When American manufacturing plants are relocated overseas, these banks invest overseas. It is not their concern that American workers must compete with workers in emerging countries who work 16 hours a day, six days a week with poor wages and benefits. The lesson is that what is good for Wall Street banks is not necessarily good for American businesses or workers. In addition, what is good for Wall Street banks is not good for the bailout squad, we the taxpayers!
Wall Street banks and other massive international corporations have bought almost total legislative control by bankrolling the Democratic and Republican parties. Defeat the sell-outs of one syndicate and we get the sell-outs of the other syndicate.
There is an obvious solution to this problem, create a new political party not indebted to international corporations. Create that party while keeping in mind the words of Alexander Hamilton:
“The security intended to the general liberty consists in the frequent election and in the rotation of the members of Congress.”
The American Term Limits Party, ATLP, is a political designation founded in Massachusetts in 2012. We are governed by a diverse unpaid executive committee. We are pro-business in order to generate wealth and jobs in America and thereby cut the cost of supporting the unemployed. Our first priorities are America’s long term problems such as joblessness and the national debt which is a threat to Social Security and Medicare funding and even financial stability.
It is not enough to just debate issues such as the Glass Steagall Act, NAFTA, and costly healthcare legislation. We can win the debates but lose the legislative battles because of the sell-outs. We need a lasting strong organization, a new vehicle such as ATLP to mobilize and maintain support and to win legislative battles against ever present lobbyists.
Our goal is to establish a national political party and to have candidates not indebted to international corporations. Establishing term limits of 12 years or less for Congressional Senate and House members will reduce dependence on money from lobbyists. Members of our party will not have ATLP support if they try to stay in office for more than 12 years whether term limits are enacted or not.
ATLP is different as a political party because we depend on unpaid activists and relatively small financial contributions. We are focused on expanding meaningful political representation to a broad array of Americans. Join and work with other Americans who are determined to do away with “The Best Congress That Money Can Buy”.
Americans spend $300 Billion every year for medication. A 50% reduction would save consumers and taxpayers $1 Trillion in 7 years. Here is how:
Repeal federal legislation banning importation of less expensive FDA approved brand name medication from Canadian pharmacies.
Repeal federal legislation making it illegal for Medicare D to negotiate discounts from drug manufacturers. Medicare D is the largest purchaser of medication in the world. It is a prescription med plan for Seniors and, believe it or not, Congress passed legislation that increases consumer prices and taxes by increasing medication costs for Medicare D.
American pharmaceutical costs are by far the highest in the world (link to OECD data). Republicans and Democrats have placed their political interests and the profits of international pharmaceutical corporations ahead of their own constituents. American taxpayers pay for health insurance of federal, state and local government employees. American businesses pay for the health insurance of their employees. Americans with health issues pay for medication insurance or pay out of pocket. The Rs and Ds have placed the profits of international pharmaceutical companies ahead Americans.
Repeal federal legislation making it illegal for Medicare to negotiate discounts on $15 billion of durable equipment purchased each year. Equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, diabetic test strips, home oxygen and so on.
Develop gatekeeping to prevent abuses by a significant minority of consumers who utilize medical services excessively.
Develop effective antifraud measures to deal with abuse of government funded health care.
Reduce exorbitant compensation at non-profit hospitals and non-profit health insurance companies. That legislation is presented on the ATLP LEGISLATION page.
Expose monopolist practices and contracts between non-profit health insurance companies and non-profit hospitals that drive economic competition out of the health care market. For example, have you noticed that independently owned, low cost Urgent Care Centers have closed. Have you noticed that emergency room utilization has soared for minor medical problems. Emergency room care costs at least 10 times more that the cost of primary physician office care. In the ER everyone gets a CT head for a bump on the head. Costly, yes. And what about the radiation? Is this decent medical care?
It can be done. Reduce total health care expenditures from the highest in the world to Germany’s level, 47 % lower (link to OECD data). Improve our below average medical quality as compared to other countries. For example the US ranks 31st out of 41 countries in infant mortality; we certainly can do better (link to OECD data)
Capitation is a common type of payment system for primary care physicians (pcps) introduced by HMOs and encouraged by the federal government. It is one of the causes of the decline of medical care convenience, quality and affordability, as explained below.
Under the capitation system a family doctor receives a set amount of money each month from the insurance company for each patient with that insurance, whether the patient is seen or not. A pcp gets paid regardless of whether any work is done — so why work? When a patient calls with a problem, capitation enables avoidance of work when the pcp sends the patient to the ER. No loss of income to the pcp but the patient wastes time in the waiting room, sees an unfamiliar doctor and gets a much larger co-pay.
Capitatation is why your local ER is so packed with patients and it takes a long time to be seen. Capitation raises the cost of medical care by a huge factor because the ER physicians do not know the patients and have to order many expensive tests.
Capitation is part of the reason most pcps no longer attend their patients in the hospital, but turn over care to hospitalists. Capitated contracts for pcps may pay little extra for hospital work. So why would a pcp do in-patient work at the hospital, especially given the requirement of night, weekend and Holiday coverage? Easier to sign out at 5 pm.
The irony is that even with capitation abuses by some pcps, primary care physicians are at the bottom of the reimbursement pay scale. Few medical school graduates want to go into primary care at present. If the trend continues and pcps are difficult to find, the ER will become even more overburdened. Costs will continue to go up. Is there a solution that will reduce costs and bring back primary care? Yes and the solution is very simple. Pay pcps extra to keep their office open in the evening and on weekends. The ER should care for emergencies and not every day minor health problems.
ATLP will work to ban capitated contracts and reestablish reasonable fee for service. A payment schedule to attact young primary care physicians must be developed in a manner that also benefits patient care. Quality and convenience can improve while costs are reduced.
When discussing excessive ordering of tests in the ER, it should also be mentioned that malpractice must be must be reevaluated to preserve patient safety but reformed to prevent expensive malpractice cases that arise out of anger or greed and not true malpractice. ATLP is studying tribunal systems to initially review cases before expensive litigation starts. As is well known, even when a physician wins the case, the legal fees can be huge. Those fees are eventually paid for by the consumer.
ATLP’s goal is to bring costs down to the same level as Germany, a 33% reduction at the least. IT CAN BE DONE.
Register as an ATLP member and get the job done sooner.
Did you know that non-profit hospital employees in Massachusetts make up to $2,100,000 yeary? Go to SUPPORT our Legislation page for documentation and review our legislation to roll back excessive compensation.
Did you know that non-profit health insurance company executives have retirement packages up to $16,400,000. Todd Wallack discusses Van Faasen’s lump sum payout by Blue Cross. Wallack, Boston Globe, 3/15/10.
Did you know that Governor Duval Patrick was quoted as saying, ” I’m not going to get into managing individual compensation” . Governor Patrick must know that non-profit hospitals and health insurance companies pay no federal or state income taxes. Therefore the taxpayer is entitled to government oversight of these huge salaries. Kevin Cullen puts the issue into the light of day. Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe, 3/7/11.
Perhaps Governor Patrick did not want to “manage individual compensation” because some CEOs at non-profit health care corporations were Democratic party insiders. They were major contributors to the Democratic Party, Governor Patrick and other Democrats such as Attorney General Martha Coakley. See this Globe article by Joan Vennochi.
Did you know that a Blue Cross director defended part time directors’ salaries and said the money given to part time directors’ work is like “pennies a year”? Those part time jobs pay up to $84,463 per year. Read Levenson and Weisman in another great Globe article.
President Obama had his health care plan passed and it only shifted costs around. The problem is that it did not reduce costs. Obama was a Senator when legislation was passed to ban Canadian pharmacy imports and President when the ban was incorporated into his health care plan. ATLP party members know as a fact that letters were written to him complaining about the ban. Governor Patrick has a health care plan that is more of the same. Universal access to health care should not mean turning a blind eye to spiraling costs.
If you like the status quo, stay with the peas in a pod. If you want to create an organized voice to fight health care costs and corporate greed, join the ATLP today.