Republican/Corporate Strategy On Health Care

Insurance corporations are going to make Obamacare terrible, while Republicans work to kill it. Here’s how they’re going to do it.

Insurers have found a loophole in the health care law. Low-cost plans will restrict the doctors patients can visit, and there will be extreme expenses for patients who go outside the network.

NY Times: Lower Health Insurance Premiums to Come at Cost of Fewer Choices,

From California to Illinois to New Hampshire, and in many states in between, insurers are driving down premiums by restricting the number of providers who will treat patients in their new health plans.

[. . .] “That can be positive for consumers if it holds down premiums and drives people to higher-quality providers,” Mr. Linker said. “But there is also a risk because, under some health plans, consumers can end up with astronomical costs if they go to providers outside the network.”

And it is intentional:

Peter L. Gosline, the chief executive of Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, N.H., said his hospital had been excluded from the network without any discussions or negotiations.

“Many consumers will have to drive 30 minutes to an hour to reach other doctors and hospitals,” Mr. Gosline said. “It’s very inconvenient for patients, and at times it’s a hardship.”

Martin Luther King’s Dream Of Jobs And Freedom

Martin Luther King Jr. outlined his dream 50 years ago this weekend. We made much of it happen. Let’s dream some more. Let’s dream about what we could do in the next 50 years.

Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and famously told the country “I have a dream.” Fifty years later there is progress and there are setbacks. We no longer have segregation — separate schools and bathrooms and the rest. Many states finally allow everyone to marry the person they love, but at the same time many states are returning to apartheid-era restrictions of voting rights.

One huge part of the “Jobs and Freedom” Dream that still evades us is the goal of full employment or an income until a job becomes available.

On August 16, 1967 King delivered a speech titled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” addressing the need for everyone to have a job or an income,

…our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available. In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote in Progress and Poverty:

The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves driven to their tasks either by the, that of a taskmaster or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who somehow find a form of work that brings a security for its own sake and a state of society where want is abolished.

A Country Based On A Dream

Our country was founded on the dream that We the People can do things for each other instead of depending on the rich and powerful to throw us scraps.

If you look at our Constitution you see that our country is supposed to be for We the People. And I mean just look at it, not read it. The only words you see from any distance are the words “We the People.” The Founders were making a point.

The Constitution told the world about a dream that “We the People” would build a country that protects and empowers us, where together we do things for the common good, to make our lives better. And for a while we did that.

We have lost sight of that dream. We no longer seem to recognize who our country is for. We no longer talk about the common good.

Who is our country for? Who is our economy for? Certainly a We the People economy would at the very least guarantee that We the People have jobs and an income until a job is available.

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If We Lower The Social Security Age To 55

millions of jobs would open up. The newly-employed would be paying taxes and would not be receiving Food Stamps, etc. More people employed would mean wages in general would rise, which would mean the economy would boom, tax revenue would rise, etc.

And if we lower the Medicare age to 55 all the new people in the program would cost MUCH less because people between 55 and 64 use far less health care services than people 65 and over. AND the people 55 and over are the most expensive people on private insurance, so the cost of private policies would go way down.

How to pay for this? This is about priorities. How do we pay over a trillion a year for military? How did we pay for Iraq? How did we pay for the bank bailouts? How do we pay for tax cuts for the rich? How do we pay for letting corporations stash money in tax havens to evade (defer) taxes? How do we pay for giving subsidies to oil companies?

Who is our economy and country FOR?

Republicans Moving From Obstruction To Outright Sabotage

During the first years of the Obama administration the Republican strategy was to obstruct efforts to improve the economy and crate more jobs. Then, at election time they went to the public saying, “Obama hasn’t made things better.” But now they are moving into outright sabotage of  things that government does for people, like the new health care law, with election plans to campaign on the failure of government to do things for people.

Public Not Aware Of Health Care Law

Most of the new health care law goes into effect next year, with the “exchanges” beginning at the end of this year. But the public has little, if any, understanding of what is coming and what it means to them.

An April Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll found that only 40% of the public even knows that the health care law has been upheld by the courts and not repealed by Congress. “Also about half the public says they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family, a share that rises among the uninsured and low-income households.”

And less than 10% report hearing anything good about the new law.

Republicans Threaten Sports Leagues

The government is beginning (really, really late in the game) to try to get information to the public. Among other efforts, the Dept. of Health and Human Services had been talking to sports leagues about ways they can help educate the public. Republicans immediately moved to nip that in the bud.

TPM: GOP Leaders Warn Pro Sports Leagues Not To Promote Obamacare

Senate Republican leaders have sent letters warning six professional sports leagues not to provide the Obama administration any assistance in promoting Obamacare.

The letters, dated June 27, warn the chiefs of the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Professional Golf Association and NASCAR that partnering with the administration to publicize the benefits of the health care law would damage their reputations.

It worked: CNN, NFL has ‘no plans’ to promote Obamacare.

The reason Republicans went after the sports leagues is because in a past public-information effort sports turned out to be a good way to get information out to the public. In 2007 the Boston Red Sox assisted then-Gov Romney in promoting the new Massachusetts health care law. This helped spread public knowledge and understanding of the new law.

But public knowledge and understanding is to Republicans like garlic is to vampires. Increased public knowledge and understanding get in the way of their agenda.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Fix Budget Problems With Medicare-For-All

(Post title changed…)

Nate Silver has a much-discussed post today in the NY Times, What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending?. Silver goes over the numbers and writes,

To clarify: all of the major categories of government spending have been increasing relative to inflation. But essentially all of the increase in spending relative to economic growth, and the potential tax base, has come from entitlement programs, and about half of that has come from health care entitlements specifically.

The growth in health care expenditures, for better or worse, is not just a government problem: private spending on health care is increasing at broadly the same rates and is eating up a larger and larger share of economic activity. It’s an immensely complicated problem, but the arithmetic is simple: if we can’t slow the rate of growth in health care expenditures, we’ll either have to raise taxes, cut other government spending or continue to run huge deficits. Or we could hope to grow our way out of the problem, but health care expenditures may be impeding private-sector growth as well.

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Romney, Tobacco and Kids

Somehow no surprise: Mitt Romney’s Bain Helped Philip Morris Get U.S. High Schoolers Hooked On Cigarettes,

When Mitt Romney served as CEO of Bain & Co., his consulting firm helped tobacco giant Philip Morris develop a groundbreaking sales strategy that researchers say has been linked to an unprecedented spike in youth smoking.
… Philip Morris stunned Wall Street and tobacco experts by the slashing price on its flagship Marlboro brand by 40 cents a pack, to $1.80. It was a landmark day for the tobacco industry, one that became known as “Marlboro Friday” to public health experts.
… A year later, Philip Morris stock had fully recovered, and continued to make steady gains over the coming four years. Marlboro Friday ultimately proved to be the tobacco industry’s most successful effort to increase domestic profit in the face of heavier regulations.
The profit was the result of soaring sales that coincided with an unprecedented jump in smoking among high school- aged youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, found that the portion of young people who had smoked at least one cigarette in the previous month rose nearly 20 percent from 1993 to 1997. Youth smoking increased in all categories from that occasional user to the regular user.

Obamacare Ignorance

How many misconceptions can you spot in this letter to the editor from July 2 Readers’ letters – San Jose Mercury News?

Roberts shouldn’t have imposed another tax
Thank you, Chief Justice John Roberts, for imposing another tax on the American populace. I have health insurance — it costs me the princely sum of over $1,300 a month. I have no choice (due to pre-existing conditions); but to pay the piper every month and am unable to qualify for any other health coverage.
I have to wonder what we, the taxpayers (and believe me, my husband and I pay taxes — in proportions that are sickening) are indirectly billed for your guaranteed and unfettered health care coverage. Please allow me to add, that neither my husband or I are employed. We have been “involuntarily” retired.
You crossed the line and you know it. Shame on you. And here I thought you were a solid and steady captain in the rocky Supreme Court waters.

This is what Republicans depend on. Everything this person has been led to believe is wrong. And the news media of course does nothing to help, they just report who is “winning” and “both sides are to blame.”
The cost of this person’t health insurance is about to go WAY down, possibly to zero since they are unemployed. She can’t get any other insurance because of a pre-existing condition, and that restriction is about to go away.
But she thinks that on top of what they pay now they are going to have to pay a huge tax.
The newspaper of course does nothing to provide readers with the correct information, they just publish the letter.

m4s0n501

7 Ways Obama Lied About Your Health Coverage

President Obama promised that if you have health insurance now, it won’t change. Here are 7 ways he lied:
1) Under the new law your insurer can’t drop your coverage after you get sick. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.
2) Your children can continue to be insured under your plan until they are 26. (Click and read this.) This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.
3) New coverage is added, including preventative care like mammograms and colonoscopies with no “out of pocket” like charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance. This is a change in the insurance you already have. Obama lied.
4) If you pay for your own insurance and your income is below a certain level, you will receive subsidies to help pay for your insurance. Even if you earn four times the federal poverty rate, or currently about $93,000 for a family of four, you will have to pay no more than 9.5 percent of your income. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.
5) The law prohibits insurance companies from placing a “lifetime cap” on the amount of coverage you have. Many people were discovering that they reached this cap right when they needed insurance the most. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.
6) The cost of your insurance will be lower than it would be without this law. There are several ways the new law will lower the cost of your insurance. First, by requiring people to have insurance, people can’t “free load” by showing up at the emergency room without insurance. Currently when this happens hospitals charge more to everyone else. So the new law’s “mandate” stops the “free loaders” — the cause of these extra charges — from running up your insurance cost. Also, the new law’s “80/20 Rule” says insurers have to use 80% of their revenue for health care. This even means you might get a rebate. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.
7) Insurers won/’t be able to keep you from getting insurance or charge you more based on a pre-existing condition. This is a change in the coverage you already have. Obama lied.

Therefore

So President Obama lied when he said that if you already have health coverage you don’t have to worry about changes! Therefore we need to get rid of the law so insurers can cut you off after you get sick, charge you for preventative care, cut your children off from having insurance, keep you from getting insurance if you have a pre-existing condition, place a lifetime “cap” on your coverage and make you pay more! It’s time to put some teeth into “let him die!”
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Health Care

I’m curious what could lead anyone to think the Supreme Court isn’t going to strike down the health care law, probably with the usual 5-4?
Seriously, we know Thomas will vote to strike it down, because his wife is being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by its opponents. That one is a given, and has nothing to do with the Constitution, law or ethics.
We know Roberts, Scalia and Alito will vote to strike it down because they come out of the conservative movement, and the conservative movement sees killing it as a strategic step against Obama. That one is also a given, and also has nothing to do with the Constitution, law or ethics.
So on the right side of the court it comes down to Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan. He will vote to strike it down.
But don’t bet that the “liberal” minority will vote to keep this law. Many non-right-wingers might be boxed into reflexively hoping the court upholds this law, but don’t forget what this law does. This law orders all of us to purchase insurance from the giant insurance near-monopolies. It was the “corporate/centrist” solution to keeping us from getting Medicare-For-All, and preserving private corporate health insurance. We shouldn’t be hoping the “liberals” vote to confirm that is OK.
Private health care has been proven to not work without the government ordering us to buy it. So if the Court strikes down the law, the only alternative left is Medicare-For-All. Hope for that.