Wednesday, December 30, 2009

RIPPING APART THE RATIONALIZATIONS FOR PASSING THE CURRENT HEALTH ‘CARE’ BILL INTO LAW

An unsigned editorial in today’s NY Times set about to list the reasons why we should pass health care reform legislation. Below, I refute their points, one-by-one.

THE HEALTH OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS The fact that 46 million people in this country have no health insurance should be intolerable.


Wrong. The fact that people in this country cannot afford HEALTH CARE should be intolerable. I know it is hard to think outside of the box, but if we don’t, we end up rewarding the very people who have created this problem. Insurance companies, doctors associations, hospital associations, pharmaceutical corporations and medical supply companies, AMONG OTHERS, have colluded to create a system of ever-rising costs for the consumer. Real reform would cut the waste and fraud from this system. No bill that is currently being considered would begin to do that. It’s not about HEALTH INSURANCE, It’s about HEALTH CARE. Please think about that. It’s important if you want real change instead of a giant corporate giveaway at taxpayer’s expense to stop assuming that we need insurance in order to pay for health care. Other countries don’t.

We consider it a moral obligation and sound policy to provide health insurance to as many people as possible. While the pending bills would fall short of complete coverage, by 2019, the Senate bill would cover 31 million people and the House bill 36 million who would otherwise be uninsured under current trends.


Wrong again. If you look at the bill and the way it intends to go about “covering the uninsured,” it is doing so mainly by forcing people who cannot now afford insurance to purchase insurance. Except that they still can’t afford it. So they aren’t going to buy it. This mandatory insurance clause is based on a premise that the uninsured have the money to buy insurance but are just being irresponsible and not buying it. Even if people who work at places that don’t currently provide insurance for their employees are given the benefit by their employers, it will most likely mean that they have to pay for it somehow. Congress just can’t seem to get it through their heads that PEOPLE CAN’T AFFORD IT.

The argument is that the government will provide SUBSIDIES for people. What is being suggested currently is that the government would subsidize the policies of people making 150% of poverty level according to federal guidelines. Let’s look at those guidelines, shall we?

POVERTY GUIDELINES


The 2009 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia*

Persons in family / Poverty guideline
1 / $10,830
2 / 14,570
3 / 18,310
4 / 22,050
5 / 25,790
6 / 29,530
7 / 33,270
8 / 37,010
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,740 for each additional person.
* Guidelines for Alaska and Hawaii average two to three thousand dollars more per category. SOURCE: Federal Register, Vol. 74, No. 14, January 23, 2009, pp. 4199–4201

So, using these numbers, those that would qualify for subsidies would be those who made less than the following amounts in the following categories (again, the numbers are slightly different in Alaska and Hawaii):
150% of Poverty income for 1 = $16,245.
150% of Poverty income for 2 = $21,885.
150% of Poverty income for 3 = $27, 465.
150% of Poverty income for 4 = $33,075.

The government would have to pay 100% of the premiums for these people in order for them to be able to have insurance because a family of three could simply not afford a penny of insurance if it was trying to live off of $27,465 per year. And what about a family of four that makes $24,000 per year? No subsidies for them? How will they afford the premiums? THEY CAN’T and that doesn’t change under the legislation. So, those folks get to pay a fine. Great; they can’t afford to out-of-control, sky-rocketing health insurance premiums, so now they have to pay a fine. Increasing the burdens on an already overburdened working class; that really solves the problem, doesn’t it?

MORE SECURITY FOR ALL Horror stories abound of people — mainly those who buy individual policies — who were charged exorbitant premiums or rejected because of pre-existing conditions or paid out for years and then had their policies rescinded when they got sick.
Such practices would be prohibited completely in three or four years under the reform bills. Before that, insurers would be barred from rescinding policies retroactively and the bills would establish temporary high-risk pools to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
If reform legislation is approved, employees enrolled in group coverage at work would also be more secure. If workers are laid off — an all too common occurrence these days — and need to buy policies on their own, insurers would be barred from denying them coverage or charging exorbitant premiums for health reasons.


But no mention of how much is “exorbitant.” Where in the bill is the language that defines how much the insurance companies CAN charge these people? Could someone find that language for me??? Probably not because the government is mandating that the insurance companies can’t deny anyone coverage, but they aren’t regulating what the greedy buggers can charge. Oh, yes, THAT’S helpful. Without a government-run program, who will ensure that the premiums for these high-risk pools will be affordable? Does anyone remember that one of the problems that we are trying to solve with this so-called reform is that people won’t have to bankrupt themselves in order to afford the care they need? Where is the guarantee in this legislation that people with pre-existing conditions will be able to afford the insurance that the insurance companies are “being forced” to sell them? There is none. What a relief!

And a brief word about portability of coverage. So you get laid off from work and you no longer have insurance coverage. Well, don’t be sad; you can buy your own and the bad old insurance companies can’t charge you “exorbitant” (a term that is never defined) rates. Lucky you! Except, you don’t have the same income you had before but you still have the same bills. How the hell can you afford to buy insurance?? Ooopps. Guess Congress wasn’t thinking about that one. (My husband and I found ourselves in this very situation just three years ago. COBRA would have cost me over $1000 per month. With both of us laid off, it was a challenge just to pay the bills we had in order to not lose everything we had)

CUTTING COSTS Americans are justifiably concerned about the rising cost of health insurance and of the medical care it covers. The reform bills won’t solve these problems quickly, but they would make a good start.
Despite overheated Republican claims that the reforms would drive up premiums, the Congressional Budget Office projected that under the Senate bill the vast majority of Americans (those covered by employer policies) would see little or no change in their average premiums or even a slight decline. Those who buy their own policies would pay somewhat more — but for greatly improved coverage.


Except that I overheard a closed meeting of interested parties behind the scenes of this health care legislation discussing the “fact” that knowledgeable sources are predicting a rise in the rates of health care premiums over the next three years in advance of this legislation going into effect and some are predicting they could double in that time. How is that handled in the legislation? Congress kindly provides the insurance industry with enough time to rape us all real good before the changes go into effect. Now that’s Change you can believe in!

Most people who would be buying their own policies would qualify for tax subsidies to help pay their premiums, which could reduce their costs by thousands of dollars a year. And small businesses would qualify for tax credits to defray the cost of covering their workers.


Wait—tax subsidies??!! Does that mean that people have to come up with $500 per month for insurance premiums for their family (and I am being conservative with that estimate because I am paying $800 for my employer-sponsored plan) and the government will pay them back at tax time?!! HELLO, CONGRESS? POOR PEOPLE DON’T HAVE $500 PER MONTH TO SPEND ON ANYTHING THAT DOESN’T FEED, CLOTHE, OR HOUSE THEM. Do you understand what it means to be poor? Obviously not. Ditto for small employers-the costs of covering employees could force layoffs or complete shut downs in order to keep cash flow in the black.

The inexorably rising cost of hospital and medical care is the underlying factor that drives up premiums, deductibles and co-payments. No one yet has an answer to the problem.


Oh, so you’re saying that this bill does nothing to solve the biggest problem facing us where health care is concerned—rising costs?? You know, you are right. I can’t argue with you, there, New York Times unnamed editor. The bill could have addressed rising costs by setting allowable costs, but the doctors associations and hospital associations that helped to write the bill didn’t see that as advantageous to their bottom line, so those ideas were scuttled. The “inexorable costs” are rising in order for the shareholders to get a larger profit share at the end of each quarter. Are you telling me that there is no way to fix that problem? Other countries have it licked already.

THE TIME HAS COME For decades, presidents from both parties have tried in vain to reform the health care system and cover the uninsured…If this chance is squandered and Republicans gain seats, as expected, in the midterm elections, it could be a decade or more before reformers have another opportunity. Americans shouldn’t have to wait any longer.


This is the weakest argument of all for passing this lousy legislation that does nothing to solve the problems that were stated at the outset as the reason for reform. The legislation was written by special interests. It is written to benefit them, not to solve any problems that the consumer is having. If all are covered, health insurance companies will see increased business. Good for them. If all are covered, Hospitals and Doctors will be assured payment for their services, no matter how exorbitant those charges may be. Good for them. This bill does nothing to lower the price of medicine, so Pharmaceutical companies are happy. And this bill does nothing to regulate costs for any service or product, so everyone involved with profiting from your illness is happy. Good for them. And it has the added benefit of not solving the problem of unaffordable insurance and health care costs for the working poor of this country, not solving the problem of unaffordable insurance premiums for those with pre-existing conditions and not solving the problem of exponentially-increasing health care costs in the future.

Unnamed New York Times Editor is saying that it’s broke, and although we could have fixed it, this bill doesn’t, but we should support it anyway because it's all we're going to get. That makes no sense at all. And then there is the lingering threat of “pass this bill now or you will get nothing anytime soon.” There is no reason to pass a crappy bill that only benefits the special interests and doesn’t solve the problems because of the possibility that Congress won’t be able to go back to the drawing board and come up with something better. It’s their job and it is up to the American people to force them to do it. If unnamed New York Times Editor wants to be defeatist, that doesn’t mean the rest of us should go along with this charade.

The truth is, since this bill was written by the special interests and has been negotiated all along on a daily basis by and among those special interests, there was never any intent by Congress to fix the problems of the consumer. They only meant to hand more power and money to the people who are plaguing us.

And that is one good reason to NOT vote for or support this fraud.

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3 comments:

Tango daddy said...

KS This your best researched and best written post to date.The passion and intelligence of your argument leaves me speechless.
The final word has not been spoken and it is with a ray of hope that when the President does weigh in on recocilliation that some of these inequities may be addressed. I have said many times in the past that I cannot wrap my head around your eight hundred dollar a month insurance cost.and it seems you may be lucky at that.
Once again a most excellent posting on the most important piece of legislation the American people are going to see in this next seven years, please continue to help get it done right.
And may 2010 be the best for you and yours and all America

ksliberal said...

Thank you Tango Daddy. I posted this over at DailyKos and got pounced on by the progressive defenders of the status quo. They are of the mind that it is better to have whatever crappy bill the Congress decides to create (nevermind that it is created in order to enrich the corporate powers instead of to fix the problems of the consumer) than it is to actually address the problems that they stated as the reason for reform. I guess when you have so much invested in the party politics, it is hard to step away and see how bad the system is screwing things up for the little guy.

Thanks for the well wishes and Happy New Year to you and yours up in the Great White North!! (We are getting some Canadian-type temperatures around here this year so I am thinking it must be bitter up there. Stay WARM!)

Abigail Bukai said...
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