An Economically Created Health Care Disaster
“Medicaid rolls are surging, by unprecedented rates in some states, as the recession tightens its grip on the economy and Americans lose their employer-sponsored health coverage along with their jobs.” In many states, Medicaid rolls grew by 5 to 10 percent in the last year, often double the growth the previous year. Congress is likely to extend Medicaid aid to states in the upcoming stimulus package.
And, as early as March, Obama will be moving forward on health care reform, according to the Politico:
The move signals Obama’s intent to keep one of the most ambitious and politically crucial campaign promises at the top of his agenda. On the campaign trail, Obama pledged to provide universal health care by the end of his first term, but the severity of the economic downturn has raised doubts about how quickly he can deliver on that promise. Obama and his point person on health care, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, have staffed up like they plan to push forward with it, lining up a roster of communications and policy strategists to assist in the effort.
I wrote last week on a Tom Daschle statement that could be taken as a signal of which way Obama wants him to go:
Be still my single payer heart...
Via DCblogger at Corrente and emphasis mine:
Daschle, the point man for Obama's campaign to revamp the health care system, supports the concept of "a government-run insurance program modeled after Medicare." It would, he says, give consumers, especially the uninsured, an alternative to commercial insurance offered by companies like Aetna, Humana and WellPoint.
But the proposal is anathema to many insurers, employers and Republicans. They say the government plan would have unfair advantages, like the ability to impose lower fees, and could eventually attract so many customers that private insurers would be driven from the market. "The public plan option is a terrible idea — one of our top concerns in the health reform debate," said James Gelfand, senior manager of health policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Why would employers object to a public plan that would be better and cheaper for their workers?
Here, not only do we have the right wing Chamber of Commerce health care Czar telling you flat out that the for profit health care providers can not compete in a free market with Medicare, a government run single payer program... But the fact that it starts with a Tom Daschle hint of things to come that damn near made me have a heart attack.
If this is the starting point of the health care debate than it is already over... (And, for a change of pace from the last 8 years, America wins!)
Anok, over at identitycheck, expanded on what this looked like to herself. And President Obama has this up at the White House website:
On health care reform, the American people are too often offered two extremes -- government-run health care with higher taxes or letting the insurance companies operate without rules. President Obama and Vice President Biden believe both of these extremes are wrong, and that’s why they’ve proposed a plan that strengthens employer coverage, makes insurance companies accountable and ensures patient choice of doctor and care without government interference.
The Obama-Biden plan provides affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, builds on the existing health care system, and uses existing providers, doctors, and plans. Under the Obama-Biden plan, patients will be able to make health care decisions with their doctors, instead of being blocked by insurance company bureaucrats.
Under the plan, if you like your current health insurance, nothing changes, except your costs will go down by as much as $2,500 per year. If you don’t have health insurance, you will have a choice of new, affordable health insurance options.
Make Health Insurance Work for People and Businesses -- Not Just Insurance and Drug Companies.
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
- Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
- Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
- Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
- Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees' health care.
- Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
- Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.
Reduce Costs and Save a Typical American Family up to $2,500 as reforms phase in:
- Lower drug costs by allowing the importation of safe medicines from other developed countries, increasing the use of generic drugs in public programs, and taking on drug companies that block cheaper generic medicines from the market.
- Require hospitals to collect and report health care cost and quality data.
- Reduce the costs of catastrophic illnesses for employers and their employees.
- Reform the insurance market to increase competition by taking on anticompetitive activity that drives up prices without improving quality of care.
The Obama-Biden plan will promote public health. It will require coverage of preventive services, including cancer screenings, and increase state and local preparedness for terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
A Commitment to Fiscal Responsibility: Barack Obama will pay for his $50 - $65 billion health care reform effort by rolling back the Bush tax cuts for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year and retaining the estate tax at its 2009 level.
In the above part the key part of the plan is the opening up of the plan available to Congress members. The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) offers many different choices for people that all include prescription drug benefits. While wildly varying in co-pay costs depending on the plan, the FEHBP offers no savings over a plan such as Medicare.
Another problem is the fact that NOWHERE does Obama's plan address the serious issues with private plans that create "Death by Spreadsheet", clearly the most immoral aspect of private plans.
- No indication of how they would address insurance workers being paid bonuses for depriving clients - patients - of services that they have paid for in their premiums. Some have suffered for long periods of time battling for their rightful services to be paid for. Other people have died under these scenarios. That is a fact.
- No indication of addressing caps on services - either over single delivery of a service, a short period of time (a month? a year?) or over a lifetime. I.E.: Last year I had some dental surgery done. That one procedure maxed out my benefits allotted for the year for surgical procedures. I have had to wait for January to roll around in order to schedule work that I needed done because I could not afford the costs out of pocket above the severely low maximum.
A "maximum annual cap" on a health insurance policy is actually the total amount that the insurer will pay during a year. If you see this on your policy benefits sheet, you'll want to pay attention; a low maximum annual cap makes the policy nearly worthless. After all, the idea of insurance is to protect someone from high medical costs.
The black ink in the ledgers is being balanced by the red blood of those that die in the name of profitability.
I discussed Daschle's previous statement that would, IMHO, begin the end of private health plans that prey on its victims through their various uses of "Death by Spreadsheet." It is the long road plan to single payer and will expose the fact that the for-profit plans can not compete on a level playing field with any single payer program in the free market. The far right wing knows this and, considering the fact that 65% of Americans want single payer health care, the rest of America knows this as well.
Sixty-five percent of those polled said the United States should adopt universal health insurance that covers everyone under a program such as Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers. Fifty-four percent went where politicians dare not tread, saying they supported a "single-payer" health system whereby all Americans would get their health coverage from a single government plan financed by taxpayers.
To be clear, Medicare is a form of a single payer program.
But the republicans have so polluted discourse on this subject in the past that some Americans think that Single Payer is socialist. A blatant lie that the majority has seen through as they became better educated on this issue. Hell... There is even a Republican group for single payer, now. That is how mainstream this demand is becoming.
Let me explain where we are right now, it is like 1989 in Moscow. Glasnost is in effect, the old regime has lost what ever legitimacy it ever had and ordinary people are losing their fear. It still looks very formidable, but it is about to crumble.
That is where we are with health care. Everyone is still refighting 1994 without noticing that the entire political landscape has shifted. We didn't have anything like HealthCare-Now, Physicians for a National Health Plan, or California Nurses in 1994. We didn't have a National Day of Action with picketing in cities across the country. Single payer activists are playing the same role dissidents played in the fall of the Soviet Union. We are saying the unsayable and we keep saying it until it becomes obvious.
Specifically how do we get a bill passed? Given our support in the House of Representatives, I am confident that we can get a bill to pass. So how do we win the Senate? Well, to switch historical analogies, we need a Republican Senator to play de Klerk to Conyers Mandela. Someone needs to break ranks, and if we maintain pressure, someone will do so.
Which Republican Senators do you think we have the best shot of winning over?
The people want single payer and we need a strategy on how we can go about getting them one or two Republican Senators to support a plan like H.R. 676. The most popular single payer health care solution and one that will be a direct route to the holy grail of health care and eliminating the need to wait for the free market to prove what everyone already knows and aknowledges on all sides, as evident even by the other sides arguments.
It is all the cover the Democratic party needs to pass single payer and that is what it may come down to if we want to get what we deserve.
Which Republican Senator is really bi-partisan or, at least, bi-partisan enough to walk away from the insurance company Astroturf groups and the far right wing corporatists to support what the vast majority of Americans want and really do need if we are going to weather the shitpile created economic shitstorm?
Arlen Specter and the women on the Republican side of the aisle have shown a more reasonable record of supporting women's rights issues (Equal Pay - Pro-Choice) in the recent and distant past. Is it possible to exploit this for our important issue? I honestly don't know if the statistics of women's support for single payer would make this a feasible avenue to explore?
A good healthy portion of the information linked here is unashamedly and liberally taken from Corrente, though, this piece is written/assembled by myself (blockquoted text excepted) for my Blog and to share in ePpluribus Media's ongoing health care discussions - I believe that Corrente deserves a lot of props for the great work they are doing FOR YOU right now. You could thank them by financially supporting their efforts. Or even just stopping by their site and saying thanks. We need to kick the tires on all of the proposed health care solutions so we know what, exactly, they are trying to sell us.
Previous ePluribus Media pieces:
by Carol White:
by Connecticut Man1:
- Be Still My Single Payer Heart
- How do you know Obama's health plan is bad for YOU?, Tue, 01/13/2009
- All That I Want..., Wed, 12/24/2008
- Single Payer Health Care Would Help Auto Industry, Tue, 11/18/2008
And a MUST-MUST read by DrSteveB:
- The Most Complete & Honest Comparison of Health Proposals...so far, Tue, 01/13/2009