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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Truth about Health Bill

Despite the lockstep mentality so prevalent in Washington for the last few decades, the newly elected Congressmen and Senators are making themselves heard. And well they should for they comprise a considerable percentage of both legislative bodies.

One of the Republican mantras has been ‘repeal Obamacare’, a mantra not shared by many of the newly elected. From what I’ve been able to discern by listening to them and reading their opinions, they are indeed in favor of health reform, but not the government-controlled reform engendered by the recently passed conglomeration they call a health bill.

That’s why last week, we talked about eight or nine of the health care claims and promises made by the administration and its supporters, pointing out the truth in cold hard facts, not with their pie in the sky assurance made with a lick and a promise.

Another promise made by the proponents of this bill was that it employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.

The truth is, the bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure including: Public Option; Medicare buy-in; Drug reimportation; Medicare drug price negotiation; and a shorter pathway to generic biologics (some doubt the cost-saving effectives of generic substitutes for biologic drugs).

Then they promise us that the bill will require big companies like WalMart to provide insurance for their employees.

Are you ready for this? The bill was written so that most WalMart employees will qualify for subsidies to pay for their insurance, and the U.S. taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.

I can’t count the number of times I heard the remark, “the bill “bends the cost curve” on health care.”

No, no, no. According to watchdog group, Firedoglake, the bill ignored proven ways to cut health care costs and still leaves 24 million people uninsured, all while slightly raising total annual costs by $234 million in 2019.“Bends the cost curve” is a misleading and trivial claim, as the US would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.

In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP. In 2019, the cost of health care in 2019 will be 20.9% of the GDP.

A great deal has been made about uninsured for pre-existing condition. The bill claims immediate access to the uninsured because of a pre-existing condition.

Sad to say, but access to the “high risk pool” is limited, and despite the astronomical premiums, the pool is underfunded. It will cover few people, and it will run out of money in 2011 or 2012. On top of that, only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high risk pool.

You cannot be dropped in individual plans from coverage when you get sick.

The bill does not include a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they’re sick.

Many states have laws prohibiting people from being dropped when they’re sick, but they have no agency to enforce the laws. Without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.

The bill does say consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions. The “internal appeals process” is in the hands of the insurance companies. The “external” one is up to each state.

Internal appeals simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And each state is to provide an external appeals process. There is no funding or regulatory agency at the federal level.

Time and again we heard proponents claim this bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30%-40% per year.

Another lie. The bill does not limit insurance company rate hikes. Private insurers continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws, and are free to raise rates without fear of competition in many areas of the country.

The claim that the bill creates that much ballyhooed pathway for single payer(a concept that could possibly help relieve our deficit) is hard to believe.

You see, the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor. That being the case, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the laws of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974..

The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.

If you know someone who filed bankruptcy for medical purposes, you’ll find they probably had insurance. That’s the case with most. Out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.

In 2009, 62% of bankruptcies were medically related, and according to Firedoglake, three-quarters of those had health insurance.

And now, to add a little fuel to the fire, did you know that the Obama administration has granted over 740 healthcare-reform waivers to unions, corporations, and nonprofits in order to stave off massive policy cancellations and rate hikes affecting 1.5 million workers? And that information comes straight from documents posted online by the Department of Health and Human Services.

What I'd like to know is when do I get my waiver?

1 comment:

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yeah, I'd like a waiver too. Don't even get me started on that bill.

PS. Thanks for the congrats on my sale. :)