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US Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

Filed under: Health Care

obamaThe BBC reports that the Supreme Court has just upheld a key portion of Obama’s healthcare law.

Click here to read the full decision.

 

 

UPDATE: Here’s the White House Statement…

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2015

FACT SHEET: The Supreme Court Upholds Critical Part of the Affordable Care Act
What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act

After nearly a century of work, after decades of trying, after a year of sustained debate, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. Since then, health reform has become the law of the land and after more than five years under the law, it has been woven into the fabric of an improved American health care system, on which Americans can rely throughout life. And it’s probably impacting your life in ways you do not realize. Young adults can stay on their family’s plan. People losing jobs, changing jobs, or breaking out on their own no longer have to worry about whether they can get health insurance. Having a pre-existing condition or being a woman no longer means you pay for more coverage. And, affordability has improved – from insurance that is there for you when you need it to discounts on prescription drugs in Medicare.

Here are examples of how the law has already made the health care system better and is providing all Americans with the peace of mind that comes with health security:

· Better benefits and consumer protections: More than 137 million Americans now have guaranteed access to preventive care, including immunizations, well child visits, certain cancer screenings, and contraceptive services, with no additional out-of-pocket costs as well as no more annual caps on essential benefit coverage and new annual limits on out-of-pocket costs.

· Dramatic decline in the uninsured, including more young adults covered: We’ve seen the largest decline in the uninsured rate since the early 1970s, and the uninsured rate is now at the lowest level recorded across five decades of data. Since several of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions took effect, more than 16 million uninsured people have gained health insurance coverage. Over 4 million young adults have gained coverage, many through the Affordable Care Act’s provision allowing young adults to remain on a parent’s plan to age 26 and its broader expansion of coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces and Medicaid. By the second quarter of 2014, the uninsured rate among young adults had dropped by more than 40 percent. And a recent study found that over 85 percent of individuals newly covered by the ACA like their insurance.

· Safer hospital stays: From 2010 to 2013, an estimated 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and approximately $12 billion in health care costs were saved as a result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions and hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions, a 17 percent decline over the three year period. The Affordable Care Act also improves care received through incentives that promote quality of care and time spent between patients and doctors.

· Savings for seniors: More than 9 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved an average of $1,600 per person on their prescription medicine, over $15 billion in all since the Affordable Care Act became law.

· Numerous affordable coverage options: About 85 percent of those who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (about 8.7 million individuals) qualified for an average tax credit of $272 per month. About 8 in 10 of individuals signing up for qualified health plans this year had the option of selecting a plan with a premium of $100 or less after tax credits. And there are more insurance plan options in many areas of the country.

· More covered by Medicaid: As of April 2015, 12.3 million additional Americans were covered under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program compared to the start of October 2013, when the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment began. To date, 28 States and DC have expanded Medicaid.

· Savings for hospitals: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, hospitals saved an estimated $7.4 billion in 2014 because of less uncompensated care, with about two-thirds of the total savings going to hospitals in States that have expanded Medicaid. Reduced hospital uncompensated care means less of a “hidden tax” for insured Americans.

President Obama’s health care policies have even broader and more transformative implications for the U.S. economy. The ability to buy affordable plans through a competitive Marketplace will allow countless Americans to move, start businesses, and dream big American dreams – without worrying if an illness will bankrupt them. And, slowing health care costs have reduced the Federal budget deficit and enabled businesses to invest in jobs and a growing American economy.

While progress has been made, we will continue to work to make health care even better, starting with making sure people understand and benefit from the law. We will continue to work toward a health care system that results in better care, smarter spending, and healthier people, with an empowered, educated and engaged consumers in the center. This includes promoting preventive care, securing coverage for all Americans, and further driving down the cost of care to keep our economy strong. And we’ll continue to work with the 22 States who have not yet taken advantage of Federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility to over 4 million Americans in need.


Hobby Lobby & The New Age of Slut-Shaming

Filed under: Health Care
Tags: , ,

Here are the wrong opinions I’ve seen in the earlier Hobby Lobby thread, rebutted. 

“Freebies”

No one is getting anything for free. Hobby Lobby offered employer-based health insurance coverage through private health insurance companies. The employees were free to choose to purchase that coverage. In the end, it was the employee – not Hobby Lobby – who was the contracting party and policyholder.  Hobby Lobby won the right to interfere with a private, legal contract between two contracting parties, neither of whom was Hobby Lobby.  By paying her health insurance premium, the employee received coverage for which she contracted, and this included coverage for certain contraceptives that require a physician’s prescription.  So, on top of the contraceptives not being free, but bought pursuant to a paid-for health insurance contract, this is Hobby Lobby interfering with the doctor-patient relationship.  

“Religious Freedom”

This case was about the extension of a legal fiction – corporate personhood – into human personhood. All of a sudden, corporate entities can have “faith” – something that is impossible, because a corporation doesn’t physically exist. Hobby Lobby’s founders are free to exercise their religion however they want. They are free to reject the contraceptives they find objectionable. They’re even free to use no contraceptives at all. No one infringed on that in any way, shape, or form. But by choosing to participate in the non-faith-based for-profit marketplace, Hobby Lobby should be treated as any other corporate entity. If Hobby Lobby wants to be a church and enjoy the exemptions from laws of general application that offend its founders, then it should have done so. The slope here is ridiculously slippery. 

“1st Amendment” or “Constitution”

This was not a constitutional case. It interpreted a federal regulation as being violative of a 1993 federal statute, which was passed to protect American Indians and their exercise of religion. From the opening of the majority opinion: 

We must decide in these cases whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 107 Stat. 1488 , 42 U.S.C. §2000bb et seq., permits the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to demand that three closely held corporations provide health-insurance coverage for methods of contraception that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of the companies’ owners.

and

Our decision on that statutory [RFRA] question makes it unnecessary to reach the First Amendment claim.” The decision is not based on the First Amendment.

and

Any First Amendment Free Exercise Clause claim Hobby Lobby or Conestoga might assert is foreclosed by this Court’s decision in Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U. S. 872 (1990).

So, no. This was not a Constitutional case, and nothing was declared unconstitutional. 

“They can buy it themselves”

Yes, they could, but they bought health insurance so that it would be covered.  Health insurance policies cost money, and they routinely cover these drugs and devices. Hobby Lobby subsidizes the premium, but it is not a contracting party. As such, it should have no say over what drugs are prescribed and covered, just like it should have no say over which doctor an employee can see, or what diseases the Bible supposedly says are real or not. The women who work for Hobby Lobby are now treated differently from other women working for other corporate entities, and their options for health insurance prescription coverage are more limited than the policies dictate. Hobby Lobby has now opened the door to businesses micromanaging the terms of other people’s contracts for them, when Hobby Lobby is not a party to the contract. 

“These drugs are objectionable; cause abortions”

No, they’re not. Now, we’re not only legally acknowledging that a legal entity can hold “faith”, but we are buying into that company’s false pseudoscience. The drugs and devices to which Hobby Lobby objected – some IUDs and the morning after / week after pills – are not abortifacients. You might believe they are, but they scientifically are not. The Supreme Court did not only rule that Hobby Lobby’s alleged “faith” overrules federal law, but also succumbed to a faith-based opinion that is rebutted by objective fact. If Hobby Lobby sincerely believes that, e.g., SSRIs are forged by Satan in the hellfire, presumably the SCOTUS would just take that without argument and allow Hobby Lobby to interfere with their employees’ health insurance contracts and forbid them from being covered under the prescription coverage provisions of the policies. Sorry, folks! Hobby Lobby’s God wants you to just buck up and live with your anxiety and depression! 

“This is limited to just this one case”. 

Looks like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right, and the Courts are now going to be overwhelmed with awful corporate entities suing to not have to provide any contraceptive coverage at all

Business owners who don’t want to pay for their employees’ birth control are ending that coverage after the Supreme Court said they could choose on grounds of religious belief not to comply with part of the health care law. Some owners are already in touch with their brokers in the wake of Monday’s ruling. Triune Health Group Ltd. wants to know how soon it can change its coverage to stop paying for all contraceptives, said Mary Anne Yep, co-owner of the Oak Brook, Ill., company that provides medical management services. “We were ready to go when we heard the decision,” she said. Triune had filed lawsuits against the U.S. government and the state of Illinois because of requirements that they pay for contraception.

So, there you go. Women’s health comes second to a corporate entity’s alleged “faith”. As the American right continues its lurch backwards into what they envision as some pre-Roosevelt golden age, women find their status being relegated to that of a second-class citizens. After all, I don’t see Triune or Hobby Lobby demanding that health insurance contracts for male employees exclude Viagra, which can be used to commit sins. 

Slut-shaming. It’s as American as apple pie, and now endorsed by five males on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. 


Artvoice Was Right—Lomeo Can’t Lead Two Different Hospitals

Former ECMC CEO/current Kaleida and Great Lakes Health CEO, Jody Lomeo

Former ECMC CEO and current Kaleida Health CEO and current Great Lakes Health CEO, Jody Lomeo

It’s amazing what you can learn by reading your free weekly alternative newspaper. If you read this article back on February 6, then you knew we suspected that Jody Lomeo couldn’t legally serve as CEO of both ECMC, a Public Benefit Corporation, and Kaleida Health, a not-for-profit.

We were the only media outlet asking the question then, and this morning our suspicion was confirmed when we received word that Lomeo is now the new CEO of Kaleida on a permanent basis. Here’s the catch, however, according to the press release:

          In addition to being named president and CEO of Kaleida Health and Great Lakes Health, Lomeo has  stepped down as CEO of ECMCC. That move is intended to accelerate progress toward integration in the most compliant and efficient manner in accordance with New York Public Authority Law. (emphasis added)

This morning, an ECMC spokesperson clarified things this way:

“From the very beginning of this process, the lawyers were looking at what could and could not be done. It became clear, through the process, and in consulting with the State that—because we’re a public organization—he couldn’t hold both positions.”

Imagine that.

Think of the time they’d have saved—not to mention all the billable lawyer hours— if they’d simply taken our word for it on February 6, when we wrote:

A lawyer from the New York State Joint Commission of Public Ethics (JCOPE) told Artvoice that Lomeo—as a public employee making $700,000 per year—would need to have such an appointment approved by JCOPE. He pointed to part 932 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, which states, in part: “No covered individual shall engage in any outside activity which interferes or is conflict with the proper and effective discharge of such individual’s official duties or responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, over the past three months while this “process” has been playing itself out, Lomeo has, in fact, been the CEO of two distinctly separate hospitals. One public, one private.

As of today, ECMC’s COO Richard C. Cleland is at the helm of the public hospital.

The question still remains: What is this Great Lakes Health System of Western New York? Under what authority does it exist? The entity never bothered to register as a 501(c)(3)—the type of not-for-profit it claims to be. It has never filed a tax return, as such charities are required to do.

As evidence of its authenticity, we are offered this Restated Binding Agreement, dated September 14, 2012—but the document is only signed by Great Lakes Board Chair Robert Gioia, former Kaleida CEO James Kaskie, former ECMC CEO Lomeo, and ECMC Counsel Anthony Colucci—who approved it as to form. No sign of any approval from the State, or any level of government, for that matter. Just what sorts of “collaborations” can a Public Benefit Corporation enter into without public approval? So many questions.

Like, how much of a raise did Lomeo receive when he resigned from ECMC—where he was making $700,000/year according to State records—in order to take the gig at the private Kaleida? We’re waiting to hear back on that question. Since tax forms for private 501(c)(3) charitable organizations generally don’t become public for 2-3 years, we may as well sit back and make ourselves comfortable. Former Kaleida CEO Kaskie had been paid $2.3 million in 2009, $2.4 million in 2010, and $1.5 million in 2011, and a measly $1.3 million in 2012—as the hospital system’s fortunes were falling.

Click here to open a PDF of Kaleida’s 2012 990 tax form, and scroll to pages 13 & 14 to see just how much money administrators can continue to earn while presiding over a financially troubled not-for-profit health care institution. Four former employees split over $1.4 million!

Isn’t it amazing?

 

 


Community Invited to Medical Campus Forum

The Fruit Belt/McCarley Gardens Housing Task force have announced a public forum concerning the Medical Campus Community Benefits Agreement. Panelists will include former city councilman George K. Arthur, Duane Diggs of Voice Buffalo, Micaela Shapiro Shellaby of Coalition for Economic Justice, and Josh Cerretti, UB Graduate Student Global Gender Studies.  

The event takes place on Thursday, March 20, 6:30pm at the Moot Center (292 High Street).

Click here for more information.


GreenWatch -Huntley Conversations

 

GreenWatch         Huntley Generating Plant Conversations

IMG_2905

Clean Air Coalition Community Assembly

Tonight  (3/6)  -6p.m. Northwest Community Center, 155 Lawn Avenue,

 March 13 -6p.m. Tonawanda City Hall, 200 Niagara Street, Tonawanda

 

 

This past January, a report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) that says that the NRG owned Huntley power plant, located on the Niagara River in the Town of Tonawanda, does not appear to be financially viable. The report, requested by the Clean Air Coalition of WNY urged the community to begin to think through the economic consequences of closing the plant including the potential loss of 70 jobs, $16 million in annual tax revenue including 5.9% of the Ken-Ton School district budget.

 http://www.ieefa.org/press-release/

 Artvoice partner Dan Telvock of the Investigative Post reported  it here: http://www.investigativepost.org/2014/01/28/nrg-huntley-plant-belching-red-ink/

 The Huntley plant is one of three coal fired power plants in WNY that are in the top 10 greenhouse gas polluters in NYS.

http://www.investigativepost.org/2013/07/25/western-ny-has-three-top-greenhouse-gas-polluters/

 Options being discussed include keeping the plant open using coal, transitioning the plant to natural gas (as has been planned in Dunkirk), transitioning to other sources of power such as solar or wind, or repurposing the building and the site entirely such as creating a recreational facility and naturalized shoreline. 

 The Clean Air Coalition is using these assemblies to help inform citizens that a major change is coming and that people need to become engaged in making decisions about the areas future. It is clear that operating as usual, or any changes ranging from power source production transitions to retirement of the plant presents a costly future.

 One of the rarely discussed costs of the current coal fired plant has to do with the real economic costs of environmental degradation and subsequent human health costs of pollution. Much of those costs are considered as “external” to the measured economic benefit. In other words, the real economic costs of pollution are born by a wider society and not directly by the profit taker or factored into the political/economic measurements of success and growth. Richard Stockton, a University at Buffalo Biomedical and Environmental scientist wrote us the following:

  “Almost daily the public media warn us of the unaffordable costs of protecting our environment from the ravages of habitat destruction, climate change, toxic pollution, etc. Rarely, however, is there a considered discussion of the “true” costs of degrading the biosphere. Economists call these costs “externalities” as if they should not be considered as part of the calculus of a particular issue.  The current discussion of the closure of the coal-burning Huntley power plant is a case in point. The discussion and local media has been focusing upon loss of jobs and tax revenues. But those easily calculated costs pale in comparison to the real costs of respiratory disease caused by emitted particulates, neurological impairment due to mercury and other heavy metal intoxications, ground water contamination from fly ash, multiple social and environmental impacts from mountain top removal of the source coal.  According to that calculus, the Huntley and other coal burning facilities impose an unaffordable cost upon us all and should be closed down immediately. Davis Suzuki reminds us that it is the BIOSPHERE that is the bottom line.”


The Pre-Obamacare Trainwreck

Obamacare-symbolSome of my friends are conservatives. Shocking, I know. They occasionally post things to social media that are critical of people whom I support, and policies with which I agree. Occasionally, I will argue or even troll, but once in a blue moon, I will try to present a reasonable counterargument that is factual and not particularly argumentative. Rare, but it happens. 

On Tuesday, I saw a post linking to this article. My Facebook friend annotated his post by declaring that “progressives…really do all suck”.  I read the article, which detailed the travails of a single mom trying to buy insurance on the Washington State exchange, and having problems with bad advice and equally bad results. I feel horrible for her and anyone else similarly situated. The new insurance mandate, and the fact that the policies have to maintain a minimum standard of coverage means that some people are paying more, and the subsidy schemes are complicated. 

But it’s the “Affordable” Care Act. Not “inexpensive”, not “cheaper”, not “free” – affordable. But once you argue the semantics, you’ve lost. People’s perception is that everyone’s cost would go down, and whenever this proves not to be the case, it gets blown up into a scandal. 

So, let’s take a step back for a second. The Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – is not what I think is best or perfect for this country, but it’s 1,000x better than the utter trainwreck that preceded it. Here’s what I posted as a comment to my friend’s Facebook indictment of “progressives” in general and Obamacare in particular: 

At some point between 1990 – 2009, the Republican Party decided that universal health care coverage was no longer a societal goal, regardless of how it was to be implemented. When “HillaryCare” was proposed, conservatives pushed as an alternative the model now known as RomneyCare and ObamaCare – a regulated and partially subsidized marketplace of private insurance policies that you are (a) mandated to participate in if you have no employer-based coverage; and (b) meets some minimum standard of what qualifies as “insurance”. 

Now that we have Obamacare, which is a regulated individual marketplace of policies, different in each state, conservatives have not just refused to go along with it, but have actively and passively worked to sabotage it. 

Big laws that do big things aren’t going to be perfect in an imperfect world. Under normal circumstances, we would at least have consensus on “everyone should be insured” as a societal goal. We don’t even have that starting point, so everything else must fail. But even if, hypothetically, Republicans did agree that we should all have decent health coverage, under normal circumstances and in a responsive representative democracy, they would work to help fix problems that arise. This, too, we don’t have. That’s why things that have come up as problematic now have to be amended through regulation and executive rulemaking. 

If the right wanted to present an alternative to Obamacare – which is itself the alternative to HillaryCare – then they should have done so. They never, ever did. All they’ve done is try to block it, then sabotage it when they weren’t done repealing it. Oh, sure they bleat on about “tort reform” and the anti-federalist notion that policies should be one-size-fits-all across the country to enhance “competition”, just like the Telecom act of 1996 enhanced cable TV “competition” and the breakup of Ma Bell enhanced telephone “competition”. Just like the merger of Exxon and Mobil or United and Continental enhanced “competition”. 

In the end, government exists, in part, to fill in the holes that private industry can’t – or won’t – fill. Our private health insurance system in this country is unique in its user-dissatisfaction, physician time-sucking, inefficiency, and waste. It has proven to be almost completely unworkable in contemporary society, and its problems are underscored by the fact that no other country in the world sees fit to implement anything resembling it. 

By the same token, the German, Swiss, French, British, and Canadian models are also imperfect. They do, however, produce better results for far less money – and they do it in a way that satisfies the health care consumer. 

ObamaCare’s lack of situational perfection doesn’t take away from the fact that you no longer face lifetime policy maximums; you can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition; insurers can no longer arbitrarily drop you when you get sick and use your coverage; preventive care and immunizations will be free of charge with no co-pay or deductibles; females are treated equally now; myriad consumer protections are put in place to help people appeal adverse insurance decisions. All of these changes are significant – so much so that it’s disgusting that these sorts of things were not implemented before. 

But, you know, glitchy website. 

Yes, I’m disappointed that ObamaCare isn’t perfect. But that disappointment is tempered by my disgust with the pre-ObamaCare status quo. I would much prefer a hybrid NHS single payer system that had public care with private sur-care policies. This will not happen in this country in my lifetime unless it’s proposed by a nominal conservative. In the meantime, have fun pointing out the problems that 1/300,000,000th of the population has with an individual policy under a state-run scheme and not only indict the federal program, but anyone who supports it, as horrible.


The Trainwreck

Obamacare. What a trainwreck. The website is a disaster, and now we learn that 137,000 WNY health insurance policies are going to be canceled. This is why the complete government takeover of healthcare in this country – the socialization of medicine – is such a Kenyan/Mohammedan/Indonesian catastrophe. 

This is what the people who shut down the government say, and want you to think. These are the opinions held by the people who threatened default on our sovereign debt and have worked tirelessly for three years to sabotage health insurance reform in this country. 

The Buffalo News’ Washington correspondent Jerry Zremski wrote an article appearing today, outlining that 137,000 WNY health insurance policies are going to be canceled, in direct contravention of President Obama’s promise that, “if you like your insurance, you can keep it”. 

Cancellations! When you buy a policy on the individual market, you’re buying a 12-month contract, and if the policy doesn’t meet  Obamacare’s bare minimum standards, the insurance company is compelled to cancel it. It can offer you a new policy, or you go to the New York health insurance exchange and shop around for something else

Obamacare’s promise omitted a detail affecting a fraction of the 5% of Americans who buy individual policies – you can keep your insurance if you like it, and it meets the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Not all policies do. Furthermore, the types of policies being canceled are exclusively ones sold to individuals, not groups. This represents 5% of all health insurance policies sold in the United States, and of those perhaps 65 – 70% of policies cannot exist after January 1st because they don’t meet the bare minimum of what constitutes an insurance policy. 

There’s a reason group policies offer more coverage than individual ones. Volume gives you more for less. Starting January 1st, health insurance policies need to cover pre-existing conditions; if it doesn’t, it’s going to be canceled. Starting January 1st, health insurance policies can’t have a lifetime cap and need to cover lots of things that cut-rate rip-off policies didn’t. 

Now, your policy has to cover preventive care with no co-pay; policies that don’t will be canceled. Now, your policy has to cover maternity care; policies that don’t will be canceled. Now, your policy has to cover mental health care, substance abuse care, lab services, prescription drugs, pediatric oral and vision care, hospitalization, and emergency care; policies that don’t will be canceled. 

That’s the story – that Obamacare finally protects the health insurance consumer from cut-rate insurance, and because of the mandate, all individual policies are treated like group policies. 

Trainwreck? 

The federal exchange website was so bad that only six people signed up the first day. At first glance, that seems horrible. But six people is six more than Republicans wanted to see signed up – that’s infinity percent more. That doesn’t apply in New York, which has its own website, which had its own short-lived problems, but is now working about as well as any high-volume site. Socialization and government takeover of care? That must be why the policies sold in New York under Obamacare come from the same private insurance corporations that sell policies now. 

Jerry Zremski’s article contains salient details about why policies are being canceled, but whoever wrote the headline is deliberately misleading people. Scaring people sells papers

At least 137,000 people in the eight counties of Western New York have received, or will soon receive, a notice that President Obama said they would never get: a notice that their health insurance is being discontinued, and that they’ll have to shop for another plan.

That’s the number of people who get insurance from Buffalo’s three major insurers who are destined to get the government-mandated letter, a jargon-filled tome that one local insurance executive called “a 14-page packet-o-whacket.”

But one line of one version of the letter, which is being sent to people all around the country, is clear.

“Your current plan will cease upon your anniversary date,” said a letter sent to one subscriber in Washington, D.C.

Contrast that line with the words of the president.

“If you like your insurance plan, you will keep it,” Obama said shortly after the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care reform law, was passed in 2010. “No one will be able to take that away from you. It hasn’t happened yet. It won’t happen in the future.”

It’s happening, though, to approximately 12.5 percent of those at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health and Univera Healthcare, according to numbers the three insurers provided to The Buffalo News.

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance policies that existed as of March 2010 could be “grandfathered” into Obamacare, so long as they didn’t change significantly in substance and cost; hence, “you can keep your policy if you like it”. But if your policy is being canceled, blame the private insurer. They changed something

And it’s happening for a reason, Obama said in a speech last week in Boston. The law now prevents insurers from offering “substandard” plans, he said.

“One of the things health reform was designed to do was to help not only the uninsured, but also the underinsured,” Obama said.

Zremski’s article goes on to explain the following: 

  • – Healthy NY is changing and adding coverages to comply with the law. People affected will be able to sign up via the NY State of Health program, where people may qualify for generous federal subsidies or even expanded Medicaid coverage. 
  • – Some smaller group policies have to change and add coverages to comply with the law. 

Why, even Chris Collins – who is a multimillionaire Congressman who just a month ago helped to shut the government down in a failed effort to halt Obamacare – complains that his companies can no longer offer cut-rate insurance to its employees. Now, these employees have a right to insurance that includes hospitalization, prescription coverage, emergency services, and mental health coverage. Lashing out at the President, Collins does his best impression of “noblesse oblige”, complaining about how his company is going to manage to offer these new coverages

The cancellation notices are a feature of the Affordable Care Act, not a bug. The idea was to make insurance coverage more robust — and that means cancelling policies that offer less thorough coverage…

…The whole idea of the insurance expansion isn’t to get Americans to purchase anything called “insurance.” It’s to get them to purchase a specific kind of insurance, a plan that is relatively comprehensive and helps protect against financial ruin. If Americans were going to be required to buy a product, the reasoning goes, it should be one that can actually do some good.

Look at the pre-Obamacare individual insurance market this way

The average monthly premiums of the five cheapest plans [in Irvine, California] is $114. So I took the middle plan, HealthNet’s IFP PPO Value 4500. It’s got a $4,500 deductible, a $2,500 deductible for brand-name medications, huge co-pays and a little “bestseller” icon next to it. And it’s only $109 a month — if they’ll sell it to you for that price.

That’s the catch, and it’s a big one. Click to buy the plan and eventually you’ll have to answer pages and pages of questions about your health history. Ever had cancer? How about an ulcer? How about a headache? Do you feel sad when it rains? When it doesn’t rain? Is there a history of cardiovascular disease in your family? Have you ever known anyone who had the flu? The actual cost of the plan will depend on how you answer those questions.

According to HealthCare.gov, 14 percent of people who try to buy that plan are turned away outright. Another 12 percent are told they’ll have to pay more than $109. So a quarter of the people who try to buy this insurance product for $109 a month are told they can’t. Those are the people who need insurance most — they are sick, or were sick, or are likely to get sick. So, again, is $109 really the price of this plan?

Obamacare doesn’t take pre-existing conditions or family medical history into account – everyone gets coverage. If your policy was cheap because it only accepted healthy people, it’s going away. 

This 137,000 number is going to be used as a sword against Democrats and the President for a few years. It’s regrettable, because the Obamacare exchanges in New York are going to offer many people better coverage at an affordable rate – oftentimes subsidized. When the scaremongering dies down, people will find that they enjoy having a policy that covers that unexpected hospitalization rather than trying to pay out-of-pocket. People will find that paying for insurance is better than medical bankruptcy, just like having 3rd party bodily injury coverage on your mandated auto plan is better than hiring your own lawyer and selling your house to pay a judgment. 

The story? 137,000 western New Yorkers to get better coverage through a new plan at affordable rates. 


American Health Care: Higher Cost, Worse Outcomes

I usually don’t click on videos that people post to Facebook, but in this case I thought that it was an interesting topic – why is health care so expensive in the US and what can we do about it?  This isn’t a paean to Obamacare. On the contrary, one could argue that it sets out the argument in favor of a single payer system, rather than an expansion and maintenance of our horribly inefficient and redundant private insurance scheme. In any event, it’s worth a look. 




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