Monday, March 22, 2010

We Are Screwed (Myths and Facts About the Bill)

I got the following email from an old friend last night, "Maxine on Health Care." I think this pretty much says it all, don't you?

Let me get this straight......we're trying to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a president that also hasn't read it and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.

What could possibly go wrong????

(Disclaimer - I do not know the origins of this email, nor if permission was given by the artist who created "Maxine.")

Uh, yeah - except they DID pass it. Legislation that will affect fully 1/6th of our economy on a purely partisan vote, one that benefits exactly TWO industries the most. Wanna guess which ones? I'll tell you - Big Pharmaceutical companies who will be able to keep pushing their expensive name-brand drugs for 12 more years before they have to allow generics, pushing the generic drugs on the back burner, and insurance companies, for whom it was ruled that insurance rates CANNOT be fixed by the government. Add to that the shell games with money, and you see how screwed we are.

But these two industries are only the beginning of the story of what is a ruse, and what is real, in this bill. A big H/t to regular NQ reader, FrenchNail, for this informative, infuriating article:
Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill

The Firedoglake health care team has been covering the debate in congress since it began last year. The health care bill will come up for a vote in the House on Sunday, and as Nancy Pelosi works to wrangle votes, we've been running a detailed whip count on where every member of Congress stands, updated throughout the day.

We've also taken a detailed look at the bill, and have come up with 18 often stated myths about this health care reform bill.

Real health care reform is the thing we've fought for from the start. It is desperately needed. But this bill falls short on many levels, and hurts many people more than it helps them.

While details are limited, there is apparently a "Plan B" alternative that the White House was considering as recently as two weeks ago, which would evidently expand existing programs -- Medicaid and SCHIP. It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not force an unbearable financial burden to those who are already struggling to get by.

Congress may be too far down the road with this bill to change course. But before Democrats cast this vote which could turn "ban the mandate" into "gay marriage" for the GOP in 2010, they should consider the first rule of patient safety: first, do no harm.

Myth 1: This is a universal health care bill.

Fact: The bill is neither universal health care nor universal health insurance. According to the Congressional Budget Office:

* Total uninsured in 2019 with no bill: 54 million

* Total uninsured in 2019 with Senate bill: 24 million

Myth 2: Insurance companies hate this bill.

Fact: This bill is almost identical to the plan written by AHIP, the insurance company trade association, in 2009.
The original Senate Finance Committee bill was authored by a former Wellpoint vice president. Since Congress released the first of its health care bills on October 30, 2009, health care stocks have risen 28.35%.

Myth 3: The bill will significantly bring down insurance premiums for most Americans.

Fact: The bill will not bring down premiums significantly, and certainly not the $2,500/year that President Obama promised during his campaign.

Annual premiums in 2016: status quo / with bill:
Small group market, single: $7,800 / $7,800
Small group market, family: $19,3oo / $19,200
Large Group market, single: $7,400 / $7,300
Large group market, family: $21,100 / $21,300
Individual market, single: $5,500 / $5,800
Individual market, family: $13,100 / $15,200

(The cost of premiums in the individual market goes up somewhat due to subsidies and mandates of better coverage. The CBO assumes that cost of individual policies goes down 7-10%, and that people will buy more generous policies.)

Myth 4: The bill will make health care affordable for middle class Americans.

Fact: The bill will impose a financial hardship on middle class Americans who will be forced to buy a product that they can't afford to use.

A family of four making $66,370 will be forced to pay $5,243 per year for insurance. After basic necessities, this leaves them with $8,307 in discretionary income -- out of which they would have to cover clothing, credit card and other debt, child care and education costs, in addition to $5,882 in annual out-of-pocket medical expenses for which families will be responsible.

Myth 5: This plan is similar to the Massachusetts plan, which makes health care affordable.

Fact: Many Massachusetts residents forgo health care because they can't afford it. A 2009 study by the state of Massachusetts found that:

* 21% of residents forgo medical treatment because they can't afford it, including 12% of children

* 18% have health insurance but can't afford to use it

Myth 6: This bill provides health care to 31 million people who are currently uninsured.

Fact: This bill will mandate that millions of people who are currently uninsured purchase insurance from private companies, or the IRS will collect up to 2% of their annual income in penalties. Some will be assisted with government subsidies.

Myth 7: You can keep the insurance you have if you like it.

Fact: The excise tax will result in employers switching to plans with higher co-pays and fewer covered services.
Older, less healthy employees with employer-based health care will be forced to pay much more in out-of-pocket expenses than they do now.

So, how sick are you feeling NOW? Yeah, me, too. But wait, there's more:
Myth 8: The "excise tax" will encourage employers to reduce the scope of health care benefits, and they will pass the savings on to employees in the form of higher wages.

Fact: There is insufficient evidence that employers pass savings from reduced benefits on to employees.

Myth 9: This bill employs nearly every cost control idea available to bring down costs.

Fact: This bill does not bring down costs and leaves out nearly every key cost control measure, including:

* Public Option ($25-$110 billion)

* Medicare buy-in

* Drug re-importation ($19 billion)

* Medicare drug price negotiation ($300 billion)

* Shorter pathway to generic biologics ($71 billion)

Myth 10: The bill will require big companies like Wal-Mart to provide insurance for their employees.

Fact: The bill was written so that most Wal-Mart employees will qualify for subsidies, and taxpayers will pick up a large portion of the cost of their coverage.

Myth 11: The bill "bends the cost curve" on health care.

Fact: "Bends the cost curve" is a misleading and trivial claim, as the U.S. would still spend far more for care than other advanced countries.

* In 2009, health care costs were 17.3% of GDP.

* Annual cost of health care in 2019, status quo: $4,670.6 billion (20.8% of GDP)

* Annual cost of health care in 2019, Senate bill: $4,693.5 billion (20.9% of GDP)

Myth 12: The bill will provide immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition.

Fact: Access to the "high risk pool" is limited and the pool is underfunded. Only those who have been uninsured for more than six months will qualify for the high-risk pool. Only 0.7% of those without insurance now will get coverage, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report estimates it will run out of funding by 2011 or 2012.

Myth 13: The bill prohibits dropping people in individual plans from coverage when they get sick.

Fact: The bill does not empower a regulatory body to keep people from being dropped when they're sick. There are already many states that have laws on the books prohibiting people from being dropped when they're sick, but without an enforcement mechanism, there is little to hold the insurance companies in check.

How's THAT for some good news?? Aren't you SO proud of the Democratic leadership, under Nancy Pelosi's iron glove, for passing this last night? Right. Still more:
Myth 14: The bill ensures consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to challenge new insurance plan decisions.

Fact: The "internal appeals process" is in the hands of the insurance companies themselves, and the "external" one is up to each state.

Ensuring that consumers have access to "internal appeals" simply means the insurance companies have to review their own decisions. And it is the responsibility of each state to provide an "external appeals process," as there is neither funding nor a regulatory mechanism for enforcement at the federal level.

Myth 15: This bill will stop insurance companies from hiking rates 30%-40% per year.

Fact: This 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.

Myth 16: When the bill passes, people will begin receiving benefits under this bill immediately

Fact: Most provisions in this bill, such as an end to the ban on pre-existing conditions for adults, do not take effect until 2014.

Six months from the date of passage, children could not be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, though insurance companies could charge more to cover them. Children would also be allowed to stay on their parents' plans until age 26. There will be an elimination of lifetime coverage limits, a high risk pool for those who have been uninsured for more than 6 months, and community health centers will start receiving money.

Myth 17: The bill creates a pathway for single payer.

Fact: Bernie Sanders' provision in the Senate bill does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, so no, it doesn't create a pathway for single payer.

Obama told Dennis Kucinich that the Ohio Representative's amendment is similar to Bernie Sanders' provision in the Senate bill, and creates a pathway to single payer. Since the waiver does not start until 2017, and does not cover the Department of Labor, it is nearly impossible to see how it gets around the ERISA laws that stand in the way of any practical state single payer system.

Myth 18: The bill will end medical bankruptcy and provide all Americans with peace of mind.

Fact: Most people with medical bankruptcies already have insurance, and out-of-pocket expenses will continue to be a burden on the middle class.

* In 2009, 1.5 million Americans declared bankruptcy

* Of those, 62% were medically related

* Three-quarters of those had health insurance

* The Obama bill leaves 24 million without insurance

* The maximum yearly out-of-pocket limit for a family will be $11,900 (PDF) on top of premiums

* A family with serious medical problems that last for a few years could easily be financially crushed by medical costs

Wow. And the Democrats and Obama were so high on this bill, WHY, exactly?? Jon Kraushar has the answer to that:
"Obama to America -- I Win, You Lose."

With his health care holy war, President Obama is sending America at least 10 messages since taking office:

1. I win; you lose.
2. My will; not the will of the people.
3. Government of Obama, by Obama, for Obama; not government of the people, by the people, for the people.
4. Corrupt House rules and autocracy; not play by the rules and democracy.
5. “I’ll tread on you” now steps on “Don’t tread on me.”
6. “I, the president”; not “We, the People.”
7. “All men are created equal” but I am more equal than others.
8. “The dissent of the president” overrules “the consent of the governed.”
9. “Give me tyranny and give me debt” replaces “Give me liberty or give me death.”
10. “That government is best which governs most” supersedes “That government is best which governs least.”

Can't say as I disagree with the man, especially after this horrible bill rammed down our throats.

How about you? Are you, like me, hoping that Nancy Pelosi joins the ranks of the unemployed come January, or at the very least, losing her position as Speaker of the House? I hasten to add, ordinarily, I abhor the thought of more people going losing their jobs, but for some of these Democrats, especially Pelosi and Clyburn, I would be all too happy for them to have to go back home. Heck, I'm about ready to pull out my check book and send money to a bunch of challengers (like the one challenger to Jim Clyburn), people who actually care about the will of the people, and the Constitution. Because Obama and Pelosi most certainly do not.

Okay, you Attorneys General in 38 States lining up against this bill claiming it is un-Constitutional - better get busy!!


Anonymous said...

You're right, Rev, we are screwed. Royally. It's not over yet, though. Doesn't the Senate now get to live up to its promises to the House and amend certain parts of the bill? And if the bill is changed at all, then it goes back to the House for another vote? I wonder what would happen if the Senate votes on the bill as is and makes NONE of the changes they promised. I'd like a front seat at the explosion in the House if THAT happens.

On Facebook, I saw comments like "yes we can!" and "thank you, Mr. President and Democrats". Blech. Bunch of blind idiots. I guarantee you not a one of them actually read the bill or really knows what's in it.

I can only hope that Pelosi loses, at the least, her Speaker position, preferably her seat. You know I'll be voting against her & Boxer & Feinstein.

And, I hope California passes legislation protecting us from the mandate. Although we'll ALL still be stuck with the increase in taxes and the ramifications of the increase in our national debt.

The Tea Partiers - actually, all of us - will need to make sure over the next 8 months, that NO ONE forgets this attack both on our constitution and the people of this country. Come November, I want to see a Republican Congress. And come 2012, I won't give a flying rat's ass what happens because I intend to be comfortably and happily living in Montserrat by then. Although I'd be very happy to watch The Socialist In Chief go down in flames from afar.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, SF - yes, royally screwed indeed.

Most people don't realize that we are going to start PAYING for this bill this year, but not have ACCESS to it until 2014! What the hell kind of logic is THAT?? The Democratic kind, apparently.

I never thought I would be so disgusted by the Democratic Party, but their morphing into the Obama Party, begun in 2008, is now complete. I cannot WAIT for them to get voted out of office. I'm serious - I am going to go make a donation to the guy (who is also a Dem) who is running against Jim Clyburn, that backstabbing jackass. His mug was all over the front page of our paper today - BLECH.

People really do not realize what the Dems have done with this bill, they really don't. It is not a big comeuppance to the ins. industry, as Obama led them to believe, or to the drug companies, either. It plays right into their hands. But they are so blinded by the Hopium smoke in their eyes, they just cannot/will not see it.

I just hope all of these states are going to be able to plead their cases successfully, and get this horrible bill tossed out...

And yes - I would be perfectly happy to watch the ouster of the worst president we have ever had in the warmth and beauty of Montserrat! Sounds like a perfect plan to me.

Logistics Monster said...

Ladies - the passage of this bill and the tax increases without any benefits is a revenue stream to keep the government afloat for just a bit longer. I am now very leery of anything that comes out of any politician's mouth, but Mike Pence stated at CPAC that there are whisperings in the Obama administration that they are "managing the decline". This bill proves it. There will be no access to anything in 2014, as the economy will have totally tanked by then.

Montserrat is looking pretty attractive right now, can I come with?

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hell yes, you can come to Montserrat with us!! I guarantee you the housing is cheaper there than Hawaii! :-)

You are really onto something, LM. Companies will not be able to employ more people now while having to pay all of this money for FOUR years, thus there will not be a huge bounce in employment, and on and on.

Sheesh. This is so frustrating, I can barely stand it. It has made the transaction from the Democratic Party to the Obama Party complete, however, the process begun in 2008. This is ALL the Democrats - no way in hell they can blame it on ANYONE else but themselves. Heck, even the Iraq invasion, which I opposed, had bipartisan support. But this monstrosity with its bribes, paybacks, and threats? Yeah, no...

Montserrat in 2012 - I am sure we will all be very happy there!! :-D

Mary Ellen said...

Amy- I don't know where Montserrat is, but I'll be happy to join you. I hope they have tequila there...and hot looking...uh...rosaries.

Thanks for putting up this post because there was all kinds of stuff that I wasn't aware of. I knew that everything Obama was saying was a lie, but it's nice to have verification and ammunition to hit my husband over the head with.

Which reminds me...Obots aren't allowed in Montserrat are they? Please tell me they aren't!

(uh-oh...word verification: caution. I think God is trying to tell me something. Ok...I'll bring my husband with me. Dang!)

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL, hell yes, you're coming, ME!! We were already counting you in! :-D

Here's a link of the place: It has it all - an active volcano (won't that make you feel at home, LM??), ocean, mtns, good restaurants (from what I read), affordable housing (unbelievably so), English speaking (it's a British Territory), and moderate weather - every day. What could be better?? I'll send you the link to the house I am coveting (and SF will be there, too!). You won't believe the price!

Maybe your husband could come...VISIT?? Ahahahahah! Just kidding! Seriously - but that would probably end the "No Obot Zone," but hey...

My pleasure. It really is remarkable what this plan will do. I can't decide what my fave part is - the 16,000 "civilian police force," aka, the IRS agents (someone at NQ mentioned that), or paying on t for 4 years before there is any real benefit, or paying so much for it, or all of the payoffs that are STILL in there, or...Sigh.

Happy to give you ammo - and love the word verification!

Road trip!

Logistics Monster said...

I said months ago that the only thing you pay for before you use it is a burial plot. Alot of similarities to this bill.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LM, you are absolutely right. Though that would be more useful to most people...

Anonymous said...

Here's another fun site, with lots of different links, for all future Montserratians:

Obots only allowed if they belong to a Non-bot, and if they promise to behave, do their chores without a fuss, and speak only when spoken to.


Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL, LM - thank you! And GREAT parameter, too. That sounds perfect!

Thanks for the link!