Framing the Dialogue

News Briefs – Volume XIX It’s All About Healthcare Baby

News briefs are a collection of interesting news stories and this edition is all about Obamacare…

Brief 1:  Many seasoned citizens were shocked at AARP’s support of the Obamacare legislation which contained a significant cuts to doctor’s fees and cuts in allowable payments to hospitals.  The fear, of course, is that many provider would simply stop accepting Medicare patienst, a majority of which are the aforementioned senior citizens.  One had to wonder who the AARP, a membership organization, was actually lobbying for?  Just recently the AARP had announced that their employees will see a rise in their health care costs in a statement from an AARP spokesperson;

“”Most plan co-pays and deductibles have been modified.  Plan value changes were necessary not only from a cost management standpoint but also to ensure that AARP’s plans fall below the threshold for high-cost group plans under health care reform.”

I guess that they can “keep their plan if they like it” and if they can afford it.

Brief 2:  The White House surprised many people by supporting fast-food giant McDonalds.  No they are not going to approve of their food, but they did grant a waiver so that McDonalds did not have to spend 80-85 percent of premiums on medical benefits as required by Obamacare.  McDonalds offers some health care coverage for their lower earning employees and that would is now threatened by Obamacare.  McDonalds is not the only corporation that sought and received the waiver.  It is interesting to note that waivers are at the discretion of the HHS Secretary, were granted a month before the critical mid-term elections, and were only for one year.  My prediction is that since there are no critical elections in 2011 there will be no waivers.

Brief 3:  I would like to refer to this Obamacare story as due to “unintended consequences,” but I no longer believe that the progressives who wrote this bill had anything but bad intentions for America.  The Wall Street Journal reported that;

“This week [Sept. 2010] , almost every big insurance company in America—including Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, Humana, Coventry, some Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates and others—stopped writing “child-only” policies in the individual market. This is a niche product that parents typically buy when their employer health plan doesn’t cover dependents. The exact plans vary company to company and state to state, and the insurers will still offer family policies and make good on the child-only policies that they’ve already sold. But most won’t be writing new ones.”

This is estimated to impact one million children who will not longer be able to get coverage.  Perhaps Obama should have said, “If you like your plan, and it’s still available, you can keep it.”

Brief 4:  In September the White House got tough with health insurance providers by denying them rate increases and/or coverage decreases.  I’ll give you twenty guesses on how providers will respond to this (and the first nineteen don’t count).  If you cannot make money at a business you will not stay in business for very long.  Set the same economic conditions on a gas station.  They cannot raise their price and cannot give you less fuel for that price and their costs are increasing.  How long to you think they will stay open?  Again “you can keep your health plan if you like it and it’s available and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that it is no longer available.”

Brief 5:  We are now deep into the season where our companies have their open enrollment windows to choose health care insurance plans.  The Wall Street Journal reported that “almost 60% of employers plan to significantly or moderately change their health-care plans in 2011 and 67% plan to do so in 2012, according to a September survey by consulting firm Towers Watson of more than 460 health-care benefits professionals from companies with more than 15,000 employees on average.”  In order to comply with Obamacare plan costs are expected to rise, co-pays are expected to rise, deductibles are expected to rise, and you’ll also be expected to participate in some sort of wellness plan.  I have had diabetes for over eight years and had to discuss my managed disease every six months with a different nurse who told me the same thing that the previous nurse told me.  It was tedious listening to someone read what I imagined was a card/computer screen listing the diabetes talking points…many of which did not apply to my case.  You can keep your plan if you like it unless it becomes so cumbersome that you no longer want it.

Brief 6:  A number of Democrats made a lot of noise about Obamacare NOT providing coverage for abortions.  Perhaps Pelosi described it best that we need to pass the bill in order to see what is in it.  Well the Associated Press confirmed that Obamacare will, in fact, pay for abortions.  I can see why Democrats favor abortions as the children would only be a drain on the system. 

Brief 7:  This one is more of a good news – bad news story.  The good news is that Obamacare will allow/subsidize coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.  It is great that these folks will have health insurance available.  The bad news is that the premiums are going to be so high that even with huge government subsidies people are unlikely to be able to afford them.  So I can have my cake, but not eat it.

Brief 8:  The first two paragraphs from this AP story says everything;

“The new health care law wasn’t supposed to undercut employer plans that have provided most people in the U.S. with coverage for generations.  But last week a leading manufacturer told workers their costs will jump partly because of the law. Also, a Democratic governor laid out a scheme for employers to get out of health care by shifting workers into taxpayer-subsidized insurance markets that open in 2014.  While it’s too early to proclaim the demise of job-based coverage, corporate number crunchers are looking at options that could lead to major changes. Gov. Phil Bredesen, D-Tenn., said the economics of dropping coverage are “about to become very attractive to many employers, both public and private.”

Brief 9:  In news that should really tick you off now that Obamacare is law the Congressional Budget Office feels free to show the real numbers behind this behemoth.  Rather than use only the framework provided by Democrats the CBO can now include a more realistic scenario due to “the unlikelihood that cost-containment strategies included in the new law will ever come to fruition.”   The Heritage Foundation reports that;

“What this report ultimately comes down to is the fact that after increasing taxes, increasing spending, and extending the reach of the federal government into the lives of Americans, Obamacare will do little, if anything, to reduce America’ s health care costs. CBO makes the point that, in spite of the new law, in the future, “making appropriate changes in financial incentives will probably be critical in developing successful policies to restrain spending growth. In many cases, the current health care system does not provide incentives for doctors, hospitals, and other providers of health care—or their patients—to control costs.”

Is there really anyone out there who doesn’t see that this White House is actively trying to destroy the health insurance industry?  Their actions will force them out of business and we will be left without coverage.  Any chance that progressives like Obama will be more than glad to step in and provide government health care?  Isn’t it crystal clear that this is where they are dragging us?

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