Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A broad view of Obamacare

By now most of you reading this have received information about some of the draconian provisions of the Obama and Democrats bill that would irreversibly change the health care we are able to get in the United States now but won’t if they succeed in rushing through their “healthcare reform” through congress. Democrats like to say that the final bill is not yet written and there are several different ones on the table, therefore it is unfair to criticize the bills now. However it is clear that the bills all contain provisions that most Americans don’t want and that will destroy the best medical care and treatment in the world. If you don’t think we have the best medical care in the world, then explain why people come here for medical care and no Americans go elsewhere for theirs.

One of the criticisms of the present healthcare system is the cost. However what these critics want us to ignore is that our healthcare system embodies the most advanced medical devices and scientific equipment designed to diagnose and treat medical problems and which extend the lives of Americans. Statistics show, for example, that survival rates from cancer far exceed those in other countries, and in particular countries with government run health care systems.

Another criticism Obama and Democrats like to advertise is that there are form 47 to 50 million (depending upon the degree of exaggeration they choose) “uninsured “ in the United States and this condition must be corrected. There are two fallacies in this argument: (1) there are not millions of people as alleged who are unable to get health insurance if the wish, the number includes illegal aliens and many people are only temporarily uninsured (usually because they are between jobs), and (2) being without health insurance does not mean they are unable to receive health care.

There are over 1,000 pages in the most discussed House health care bill and virtually all representatives admit they haven’t read the bill, including the strongest advocates. All the information about the bill crossing the internet comment on the first 500 pages of the bill leaving another 500 pages or so un-reviewed. I’m not sure why that is except it may have to do with reader fatigue. Anyone wanting these details can readily find them if they haven’t already received e-mails describing them. However, if you are someone not on e-mail distribution lists, send me an e-mail (gioia@gte.net) and I will send it to you.

I believe it is important to understand how Obama and Democrats want to change the medical care we receive today and the way we receive the medical care, and how they are going about trying to inflict these changes on Americans.

Democrats and Obama’s health-care sales pitch obfuscates who is likely to get hurt by their “reform.” For example at a recent press conference Obama was asked “specifically what kind of pain and sacrifice” he would ask of patients in order to achieve the cost savings he promises. Obama insisted he “won’t reduce Medicare benefits” but instead would “make delivery more efficient.” The most Mr. Obama would concede is that some people will have to “give up paying for things that don’t make you healthier.” That is simply not true or credible.

Of course most Democrats dispute claims that individuals will lose their existing coverage under their reform plans but on other issues many Democrats privately acknowledge some people will indeed get hit to pay for government health care.

With the help of the Democrat house organs known as the “news media” Democrats have brilliantly kept knowledge about their healthcare bills and the pain and sacrifice the would entail from the public, except for the blogosphere, talk radio and conservative columnists who continue to inform the public wherever possible. One way they have done this is to convince health-care industry groups not to run the kind of “Harry and Louise” type of ads that helped sink HillaryCare in 1993. Senator Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) says the pressure not to run ads has been “intense, bordering on extortion.” Newt Gingrich said “Groups were told if they [ran these ads] did they’d give up their seat at the table. What they weren’t told is that they’d be at the table as lunch.”

Taking a broad look of what would happen if Obamacare becomes law, here are some of the groups that will be affected:

If the government successfully mandates that everyone must have health insurance, healthy young people will have to buy policies that don’t reflect the low risk they have of getting sick. According to John Fund: “The House and Senate bills do let insurers set premiums based on age, but only up to a 2-to-1 ratio, versus a real-world ratio of 5 to 1. This means lower prices for older (and wealthier) folks, but high prices for the young. ‘They’ll have sticker shock,’ says Rep. Paul Ryan, ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.”

Employers who don’t provide coverage will be required to pay a tax up to 8% of their payroll. However even those who do provide coverage also have to pay the tax—if the law says their coverage is not “adequate.” Amazingly, even if a small business provides adequate insurance but its employees choose coverage in another plan offered through the government, the employer still must pay.

According to the Treasury Department eight million Americans are covered by plans with low-cost premiums and high deductibles that are designed for large, unexpected medical costs. Money is also set aside in a HSA savings account to cover the deductibles, and whatever isn’t spent in one year can build up tax-free. Nearly a third of new HSA users, according to Treasury figures, previously had no insurance or bought coverage on their own.

Obamacare will severely limit this ability. According to the Senate plan a policy deemed “acceptable” must have insurance (rather than the individual) pay out at least 76% of the benefits. The House plan sets the “acceptable” limit at 70%. Roy Ramthun who implemented the HAS regulations at the Treasury Department in 2003 says that’s not the way these plans are set up to work. And the new regulations would be crippling. In a recent interview Ramthun says “Companies tell me they could be forced to take products off the market.”

Medicare Advantage programs most Medicare-qualified individuals have will be severely cut back if not virtually destroyed. Obama and Congressional Democrats want to cut back medical care provided by private companies and subsidized by the government. Medicare Advantage grew by 15% last year; 10.5 million seniors, or 22% of all Medicare patients, are now enrolled.

Medicare Advantage plans tend to provide better coordinated and preventive care, and richer prescription drug coverage. But Democrats dislike Medicare Advantage’s private-sector nature. Obama told the Washington Post that the program was “a prime example” of his efforts to cut Medicare spending, because he claims people “aren’t getting good value” from it but millions of people disagree or they wouldn’t be paying and subscribing for these plans. Statistics show that 54% of Hispanics on Medicare have chosen Medicare Advantage, as have 40% of African-Americans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.

At least one Democrat governor also disagrees with this aspect of Obamacare; Oregon’s Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski wrote the Obama administration expressing his concern about its efforts “to scale back Medicare Advantage” because the plans “play an important role in providing affordable health coverage.” He noted that 39% of Oregon’s Medicare patients had chosen Medicare Advantage, and that in “some of our Medicare Advantage plans . . . with proper chronic disease management for such conditions as heart disease, asthma and diabetes, hospitalization admission rates have declined.”

Obamacare will cut $156 billion in Medicare Advantage over the next decade which will force many seniors to go back to traditional Medicare at greater expense and less coverage.

The Florida Association of Health Plans found that because Medicare Advantage plans have greater benefits and lower deductibles and co-payments than traditional Medicare, seniors in that state would face dramatically higher payments if forced to give up their Medicare Advantage plans. Cost increases would range from $2,214 a year in Jacksonville to $3,714 a year in Miami.

Even some Democrat senators, so-called Blue Dog Democrats, are leery of plans to affect Medicare Advantage programs because they know that their reelection can be at risk when seniors learn how the Democrat health “reform” will affect them. Yet the only way the House and Senate health plans can pass is if they can impose costs on seniors and other vulnerable segments of the population.

1 comment:

brain said...

Here's a funny music video making fun of Obamacare, and the progressive view of their "New America:"