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Things that make you go hmmmmmmm…

From the LA Times:

The lead plaintiff challenging the Affordable Car Act says she should not be forced to buy health insurance. She apparently doesn’t need health insurance because she doesn’t have any intention of paying for health care to begin with. Why pay for something you can get for free? Turns out, as part of a bankruptcy she filed along with her husband, she managed to avoid paying $4,500 in medical bills last fall, including $2,140 to Bay Medical Center in Panama City.

“This is a very common problem. We cover $30 million in charity and uncompensated care every year,” said Christa Hild, a spokeswoman for the hospital center. “If it’s a bad debt, we have to absorb it.”

So she bankrupts the medical bills, causing the hospital to absorb the bad debt, which the hospital most likely passes on to us in the form of higher prices. No wonder she doesn’t want anyone to make her pay for health insurance.

Who loses if the Affordable Care Act is Struck Down?

Soon, the Supreme Court will decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act. But it’s important to remember that there are millions of individuals who have already benefited from its enactment.  Old and young people, people we work with, people we worship with and people in our circle of friends who now have affordable healthcare could see it suddenly taken away.

There are roughly 2.5 million young adults around the nation under the age of 26 that can stay on their parent’s health insurance plans thanks to the ACA. This allows them to have health insurance even if they are not being offered plans at work.  These young people will lose their coverage if the ACA is struck down.

Millions of older Americans who were unable to afford their prescription drugs once they entered the Medicare donut hole received millions of dollars back to reimburse them for medications.  Thanks to the ACA, they get medications at a lower cost.  Medicare patients also receive preventive care screenings for free.  These older people will lose their coverage if the ACA is struck down.

South Carolina children are protected through the continued funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  This expanded Medicaid program will cover over 70,000 of our state’s children starting in July of 2012.  It also guarantees that no child can be turned down for health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition. These young people will lose their coverage if the ACA is struck down.

Small businesses owners receive a tax credit when they make health insurance coverage available for their employees. Hundreds of thousands of businesses have been able to take advantage of this help.  These people we work with will lose their coverage if the ACA is struck down.

Tens of thousands of Americans who were previously uninsured because of medical conditions now have affordable health insurance through the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plans administrated by the states or federal government.  These people in our circle of friends who have finally secured affordable insurance coverage could lose it and go back to the status of uninsured if the ACA is repealed.

Finally, thousands of very ill patients who previously lost their insurance because they reached the lifetime cap get coverage under the ACA. But they will once again find themselves uninsured and facing either financial ruin or death. These people we worship with will lose their coverage if the ACA is struck down.

Who loses if the ACA is struck down?  All of us.  This includes those who are now fortunate enough to feel the benefits, and those of us who would have benefited through affordable coverage and knowing our healthcare needs will be met.

While we wait for the court to decide, we must take inventory of what we have and what we will lose if the ACA is struck down.  This is our chance to ensure affordable, quality healthcare for all. We cannot go backwards!

The Ryan Budget = Less Health Care, More Taxes for Poor

So Paul Ryan is back with another budget. It’s a doozy. In it, he proposes repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely, cutting Medicaid and Medicare, cutting food stamps, welfare, federal pensions and assistance to farmers. WOW, you must be thinking, that must put us into budget surplus! Surely, this will reduce our debt!

Well…no. In addition to slashing assistance and health care for the poor, Ryan proposes 4.3 TRILLION dollars in tax cuts, which he claims would be offset somewhat by closing loopholes. According to Deborah Weinstein, at the Coalition on Human Needs:

“Congress would need to end the deductions for mortgage interest, charitable giving, state and local taxes, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, the business breaks for accelerated depreciation and research and development, and the deferred taxes on 401(K) investments in order to pay for the new tax cuts.”

Now, Congressman Ryan did not specify these loopholes as his targets. In fact, he punted that hard question to the House Ways and Means Committee. But cutting these tax breaks which mostly help the poor and middle class would certainly “broaden the tax base.”

Healthcare Reform Already Reveals Positive Effects

From Think Progress:

By Igor Volsky— Jul 28, 2011 at 9:01 am

A new report from the Medicare Office of the Actuary estimates that “health spending will grow by an average of 5.8 percent a year through 2020, compared to 5.7 percent without the health overhaul.” As a result, the nation is expected to spend “$4.6 trillion on health care in 2020, nearly double the $2.6 trillion spent last year”:

In 2014, when the major coverage expansions of the health law begin to take effect, national health spending is expected to grow 8.3 percent, according to the new analysis. But spending growth should return to its 6 percent historical average from 2015 to 2020 as some employers drop coverage and the so called “Cadillac tax” on high-cost insurance plans takes effect in 2018. “The effect is likely to be a slowdown in the growth of health services, health insurance premiums and health spending overall,” the study said.


Continue reading

Free Birth Control Rule Meets Harsh Criticism

From CBS News:


August 1, 2011 8:43 AM

The federal Department of Health and Human Services was to announce historic women’s healthcare guidelines Monday that would require insurance companies to cover women’s preventive services, including birth control, for what amounts to no cost.

The guidelines, under the new healthcare law, would force insurance companies to not only cover the costs, but to eliminate co-pays and deductibles, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

Birth control has been controversial in the U.S. from the moment Margaret Sanger opened the country’s first family planning clinic in 1916 — and was promptly sent to prison for it.

While many have hailed contraception as the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, others argue that abstinence education is the way to go.

In a statement, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the new guidelines, saying, “Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.” Continue reading

Supreme Court Will Rule On Healthcare Reform Act

From Business Insider:

Abigail Caplovitz Field–Jul. 29, 2011

If the act is upheld as constitutional, federal regulations will transform the industry. For example, regulations will dictate how much of each premium can pay for overhead and profit, change insurers’ ability to decide what kind of coverage to offer, and who can purchase it.

The stakes go way beyond the insurance industry, however, and not just because all types of businesses will be buying the revamped health insurance. The crucial legal issue in the case before the court is deciding how much power the federal government has to regulate. The US Constitution’s Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to ‘regulate Commerce…among the several States,’ however, what is not clear is whether it gives Congress the power to regulate ‘the decision to not engage in commercial or economic activity.’

The Supreme Court will now decide to review whether the Health Care Reform Act’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance or face penalties is constitutional. Opponents of the law, including the judges who have voted to strike it down, argue that if the individual mandate stands, nothing will be off limits to congressional regulation. Continue reading

A Hazy Future For Medicare

From Politico:

Democrats had been counting on  taking aim at Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.

By DAVID NATHER | 7/31/11 11:25 PM EDT

President Barack Obama’s health care law has high negative ratings, and they’re not getting any better. But House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan has high negatives, too — and they’re not healing either.

It’s almost enough to suggest that the two plans will just cancel each other out as liabilities in 2012, with the Democrats and Republicans fighting to a draw as they try to scare voters to their side. The big health care question of the election would be: Whose albatross is bigger?

In all likelihood, though, the Ryan plan may be more damaging to the Republicans than the health reform law is to the Democrats. That’s because voters have more of a history of switching their votes over Medicare than they do over health care in general, according to independent health care experts.

That’s why Democrats are so nervous about what might happen to Medicare as a result of the debt ceiling crisis. In their eyes, the Ryan plan had completely turned the tables for 2012. It was going to be about Ryancare, not Obamacare. Continue reading

CMS Report: Healthcare Reform To Increase Spending

Seniors listen to a round table discussion on the benefits of the Affordable  Care Act.

By BRETT NORMAN | 7/28/11 8:36 AM EDT

The Affordable Care Act will drive health care spending up slightly, to nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by 2020, while extending insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans, a new report from CMS projects.

But health care’s hefty share of the country’s economic output is reached through an average annual growth in medical spending of 5.8 percent over the next decade — just 0.1 percent more than would have been spent without the health reform law, the report claims.

CMS published its findings this morning in Health Affairs. The report also projects that once all the data are in, health spending in 2010 will have grown a historically low 3.9 percent — slightly lower than the previous record low growth of 4 percent in 2009.

That’s an aftershock of the recession, which cost millions of people their jobs and, consequently, their health insurance, slowing medical spending. Continue reading

Small Biz Skeptical of ACA, But Still To Offer Coverage

From The Hill:

By Sam Baker – 07/25/11 01:00 PM ET

House Republicans leapt on a new report Monday that suggests small businesses might scale back their healthcare benefits in the wake of the reform law.

The survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), found that small businesses don’t have much faith in the new law’s power to control healthcare costs, but they don’t necessarily expect to quit offering coverage as a result.

According to NFIB, the number of small businesses offering health insurance isn’t likely to change much over the next year. Companies that don’t offer it aren’t likely to start, and companies that do aren’t likely to quit. Continue reading

Inefficiencies Of “One Size Fits All” Health Care Reform

From Market Watch:


Press Release–July 21, 2011, 2:00 p.m. EDT

ORANGE, Calif., Jul 21, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — A panel of industry experts has advised states on alternative strategies to comply with federal health reform focusing on each state’s “unique demographic, business and cultural characteristics.” The discussion was part of a podcast conducted by CHOICE Administrators Exchange Services; ACS, A Xerox Company; and Benefitfocus. The three companies are working together to deliver health insurance exchange solutions to states throughout the country. The podcast was an outgrowth of a white paper — “State-Based Health Reform: A 7-Step Strategy” — issued last month by CHOICE Administrators.

Panelists included Kevin Counihan, president of CHOICE Administrators Exchange Services and author of the white paper; Ron Goldstein, president and CEO of CHOICE Administrators, which manages the country’s longest-standing, state-approved exchange — CaliforniaChoice; Kevin Walsh, vice president of healthcare eligibility and exchange services at ACS, a Xerox Company; and John Emge, government programs manager at Benefitfocus, which helped launch the Maryland Virtual Compare Portal. Continue reading