The Truth about ObamaCare

obamacare-passed-what-means-you_w654

The government shutdown began with cries to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The shutdown ended with a political assault on ACA’s website malfunctions. Now reports are that the President lied when he promised insurance policies would not be cancelled if you liked your current plan.

In Florida, 300,000 people are being informed they cannot keep their current insurance option. Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Executive Patrick J. Geragthy summed it up like this, consumers may find new and better options with new benefits and government subsidies available to low- and middle- class people.

What is the truth?

Companies like Florida’s Blue Cross are letting their customers know that they cannot keep their current option because the ACA requires insurers to provide “essential benefits” in the plans they offer. Politifact, says that “while letters were going out to hundreds of thousands in the form of cancelation letters to those who buy their own coverage, that “consumers will have ‘continuous health care coverage’ and will insurers will assign them a particular plan, or gave them the option to contact Florida Blue and choose another plan.”

Here is why. Many of the plans purchased by individuals before the ACA didn’t cover essential benefits required now by law in the ACA. Now all insurance plans must cover:
1. Outpatient care without being admitted to a hospital
2. Emergency room visits
3. Hospital inpatient treatment
4. Pre- and Post-natal care
5. Mental health and substance use disorder (behavioral treatment, counseling, & psychotherapy)
6. Prescription drugs
7. Medical services and devices after suffering an injury or for a disability or chronic condition. (Includes physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, psychiatric rehabilitation, and more.)
8. Lab tests
9. Preventive services including counseling, screenings, and vaccines to keep you healthy and care for managing a chronic disease.
10. Pediatric services including dental care and vision care for kids

Experts at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute say “Under the ACA, beginning January 1, 2014, insurers must renew their policyholders into policies that cover a minimum set of essential health benefits and provide a minimum level of protection from catastrophic out-of-pocket costs. They are also no longer allowed to increase premiums based on a policyholder’s health status.

As a result, many insurers are discontinuing old policies that do not comply with these new consumer protection standards. And the underlying federal law has not changed. If they discontinue a policy, they must provide policyholders with 90 days notice and they must offer them the option to enroll in an alternative policy.

But, for the first time, most consumers have a new option – they can shop for a plan on their state’s health insurance marketplace. For most people shopping on the marketplace, the policies available there will be a better value than anything they have been able to buy on the individual market.”

So there, the President didn’t lie, he just didn’t fully explain and people didn’t learn that their plans may not be the same. They actually may in some instances provide better services that insurance companies must cover. The term “cancellation” of a policy does not mean loss of coverage.

• Many insurance companies will automatically enroll consumers in a recommended health plan.
• And consumers who lack affordable coverage can shop the Marketplace and choose from an array of health plans.

Further:
• A majority of Americans have employer-based health insurance that fit the ACA’s requirement of essential benefits;
• The ACA strengthens not weakens employer-based health insurance and provides for newer protections in your health insurance plan available in the individual marketplace;
• Prevents companies from charging more for a pre-existing condition;
• Requires insurance companies to provide 10 essential benefits;
• If your plans already had these protections when the law was passed you will keep it as it will be grandfathered out of these changes.

The letters people are receiving from insurance companies are in large part, because their plans are changing or being upgraded to include new benefits. As insurers have made clear – they aren’t dropping people.

A majority of people in the individual market today qualify for discounted or free health coverage when signing up for coverage through the Marketplace. One study found that 48 percent of people who buy insurance through the individual market will get a tax credit that averages at over $5,500. An additional 1 million in the individual market today will qualify for Medicaid in states that choose to expand it next year.

Although the law allows people to stay in plans they had when it passed with no changes “grandfathered plans” many insurance companies have started upgrading their plans to improve the quality of coverage.

Nothing in the ACA makes insurers force people out of plans that consumers were enrolled in before the law passed – but it does require insurance companies that didn’t provide the essential benefits to upgrade these plans.

Almost half of those buying in the individual marketplace will find they are eligible for tax credits that will lower their premium and should visit http://www.healthcare.gov to learn more.

The law provides millions with better coverage they choose. Most in the individual market today can get that coverage through their same insurance company.

A few simple but important things to know about the ACA:
• 43% of Americans in the individual insurance marketplace can no longer be discriminated for having a pre-existing condition.
• Children can stay on their parents plans now until they are 26 years of age.
• 8.7 million women who buy insurance in the individual marketplace can no longer be charged nearly double for the same plan as men;
• No annual dollar limits on benefits or dropping folks when they get sick;
• 34% of enrollees lacked mental health coverage, 9 % lacked prescription drug coverage, and 625 lacked maternity coverage, these basic benefits like mental health, prescription drug, and maternity coverage are now covered.

Republicans YOU Are To Blame! Get Over It

gop16_500

As a Republican, I say, YOU are too blame! Get over it and stop keeping the nation from moving FORWARD! I am disenchanted with the words coming from the Party. To hold American salaries hostage is immoral. To shut down the government and hold the debt ceiling as a negotiation ploy is immoral. To blame the President for wanting 100% of the Affordable Care Act is immoral. To keep 40,000,000 Americans from having affordable access to healthcare is immoral!!

I agree with you on some things. One is we have too many entitlement programs. Like the ones that provide billions in corporate tax breaks. And the ones that provide subsidies to oil companies and farmers.

What I believe and what others in the Party used to believe is, we have a moral obligation to help all those in need. That means we are obligated to help the every day working American who was affected during The Great Recession. YOU use terms like, we need to do this and that to cut programs that help the poor and disadvantaged. Is that American exceptionalism?

I don’t know what your brand of American exceptionalism is? Is it American exceptionalism to take food out of the mouths of hungry children by cutting food lunch programs and SNAP. Is it American exceptionalism to cut funding for Meals on Wheels programs that feed the elderly who are stuck in their homes?

Is it American exceptionalism to forget more than 8,000,000 Americans who lost their homes during the Great Recession? The unemployment rate increased dramatically! Is it exceptionalism when you don’t vote or pass a Jobs Bill?

It was exceptional that our nation saved the auto, banking and housing industries. Further that it also bailed out Wall Street after its irresponsible reckless behavior came close to crippling ours and the global economy.

In the process, everyday working Americans lost their jobs. Five years later, many are still trying to get back on their feet! Yet you want to cut funding to programs that are helping them stay at the water line, not even afloat?

You want to cut funding to small children, small businesses and many others who have served this nation. You want to take the food out of their mouths, the roof from over their heads? Is this your brand of American exceptionalism?

This argument about healthcare is sad! It shouldn’t be part of the discussion. The Individual Mandate that YOU want to extend for a year, is a smoke screen!! In order for the ACA to work the uninsured must be on the insurance roll! But YOU wont say that YOU are in bed with the insurance companies. This is deeper than wanting to extend the mandate. Say what it is! It is about fighting progress.

The Party lost its way a long time ago. I hope this self inflicted implosion makes the Party refocus and move it to the center. If it doesn’t, it will be the minority party, not just in the Senate or in the House of Reps, but also in the Presidency.

Your action is a play from yesterday, that no longer works!! YOU see, when President Obama was elected, CHANGE happened. Those who voted for the President did it again in 2012. They reaffirmed what many in this nation want to deny. We the People, moved FORWARD! It is time for YOU, the Republican Party to do the same, or be left further BEHIND!

Do The Right Thing!

IMG_1231 
DC streets are empty as the #GovernmentShutdown enters Week 2.  If you ever saw the movie S.W.A.T., you may remember Samuel L. Jackson saying,”Sometimes doing the right thing, ain’t doing the right thing.” With that in mind, what if federal employees after the shutdown ends refused for days to go back to work? Would elected officials think two or three times before ever considering shutting government down again?

The President and the Democrats are right to stand firm on their position. What I offer here is a personal assessment. That is that Democrats should call out Republicans and in particular Speaker John Boehner. They should paint Republicans refusing to vote on a clean Continuing Resolution (CR) to get the government running, as “unpatriotic” and “un-American.”

Instead of going through the litany of accusations, Dems should say over and over, that keeping the government closed, weakens our national security. That it morally fails to protect poor children. That shutting down the government impacts good American families and is un-American.

This would raise the volume in the Republican echo chamber. We would hear people like Senator Rand Paul crying with statements like this one he made yesterday, on Meet the Press.  “President Obama is unwilling to negotiate.  He wants 100% of ObamaCare. He doesn’t want to give up on anything. It is his way or the highway.”

Senator Paul stop whining, stop crying! You’re as responsible as anyone for this #governmentshutdown. You want more than 100% of a number of things. That isn’t negotiation. You are holding the American economy, American worker and country hostage.

Dems should ask Senator Paul, how keeping health care to 40 million uninsured Americans is unpatriotic. How pushing reforms for preventive care that positively impacts all Americans is un-American.

Dems should ask questions like Vanessa Guthrie did hosting Meet the Press yesterday to Senator Paul, “if you think the Dems want to keep the government shutdown whey would you fall into their trap?”  Paul’s response was weak, because there isn’t a good answer.  Just like there isn’t a good answer supporting keeping the #governmentshutdown.

FEMA employees were called in over the weekend because of a storm hitting the east coast.  After the danger subsides they will be furloughed again. These are additional and unnecessary costs that impact the economy?

Employees at FEMA are an example of how good American people strengthen not weaken our nation. The budget sequester and the shutdown should never have happened. Both weaken our economy, strain American families directly and indirectly.  Where is the patriotism in this? How does it promote American values.

That is why Speaker Boehner, you can demonstrate your patriotism by putting a clean CR to a vote. Even if it means losing your position as Speaker of the House.  Sometimes doing the right thing ain’t doing the right thing. Because doing the right thing for one or some, isn’t the doing the right thing for all.

Have the courage! Do the right thing!  Call for a vote and let Congress vote it’s conscious. Hold a vote on the debt ceiling and stop tying this to a law that’s already been passed. Do the right thing!

Frederick Douglass a Republican said “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, it never will.  Find out what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both.  The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Speaker Boehner you are losing power. The course you are on, will lead to losses now and in 2014.

You can no longer secure power protecting just a few.  The right thing to do, is the right for the country. There is nothing to negotiate Mr. Speaker. Let none of us forget that “arguing with a fool, only means there are two.” Stop arguing with the Tea Party. Stop letting this small faction of the Party try to govern the country. Mr. Speaker, “Do the right thing!” for America.

How We Got Here: The Path to America’s 2013 Government Shutdown

The government is shutdown, and the world is watching how America treats its citizens in a battle of wills.  As Ezra Klein said, before the clock struck midnight starting the shutdown, “This is all about stopping a law that increases taxes on rich people and reduces subsidies to private insurers in Medicare in order to help low-income Americans buy health insurance. That’s it. That’s why the Republican Party might shut down the government and default on the debt.”

Below is info on the path to the shutdown.  Thank you to the budget expert with experience at the White House Budget Office and U.S. Senate for sharing information used below.

Here is what happened.

  • House and Senate have been fighting about the overall spending levels for months.
  • The Republican controlled House wanted the 2014 budget level at $967 billion for discretionary spending.
  • The Democratic controlled Senate wanted the level at $1,058 billion (to include a plan that replaces sequestration responsibly).
  • Democrats agreed to a level at $986 billion, which is the level of the continuing resolution (CR) that was under debate.
  • Democrats took the compromise even though it is below the desired level, thinking they would have a clean CR without any crazy ideological riders.

Fast forward to this past week.

  • The House passed a CR with a provision defunding the Affordable Care Act – (A law passed four years ago and a law tested by an election and the Supreme Court.)
  • The Senate voted against the CR
  • Senator Ted Cruz held his personal version of a filibuster.
  • The Senate voted, stripping out the ideological riders the House put in and sent a clean CR back to the House.
  • The House did not take up the Senate bill.
  • The House in turn attached more riders that are unacceptable to Senate Democrats.
  • The Senate voted and tabled those amendments, sending a third clean bill back to the House.
  • After more back-and-forth, the House asked to appoint conferees to work out an agreement and negotiate.
  • Leading up to this shutdown for six months, the Senate asked 18 times to appoint conferees for a budget conference.  Every time Republicans objected.
  • Not once has the House voted on a clean CR – which the Senate sent to the House.  Meanwhile, the Senate along with the President made it clear that anything other than a clean CR would not pass the Senate and if it was it would be vetoed by the President.

When the House declined to vote on a clean CR passed by the Senate before midnight Tuesday, the fiscal year ended.  Appropriations lapsed and the government shut down.

So now we wait!

What’s the Fuss About?

The Shutdown arrived at midnight. 

Republican House and Democratic Senate voted on a spending measure that continues to pay military service women and men.  But today, 800,000 federal workers went to work to change voicemails, turn off computers, printers and the lights on the government until Congress agrees on a budget or continuing resolution to keep the government running. 

Republicans and Democrats are far apart on agreeing to a budget or a continuing budget resolution to keep the government working.  Here is where we are.

What Republicans Want or Offer

  • Push ObamaCare “individual mandate” implementation to one year from now.
  • A conference committee between the Senate and the House to negotiate a budget.
  • Separate votes in the House to fund specific entities like veterans, the District of Columbia and veterans affairs.
  • End federally provided health care for the president, members of Congress and their staff while funding the government for 11 weeks.
  • Remove the tax on medical devices that is estimated to raise 30 billion over 10 years to help fund ObamaCare.
  • Anti-ObamaCare amendments.

Tea Party Wants

  • Total elimination of ObamaCare.
  • Not to negotiate with Democrats.

What Democrats Want

  • No Conference committee because they believe it will undermine ObamaCare
  • Keep the medical device tax that Republicans are against.  The tax is expected to provide over 30 billion dollars to help fund ObamaCare.
  • A clean budget that excludes any provision to defund ObamaCare

What We Know

  • 533 Congressional members in the House and Senate continue to be paid during the shutdown. (The 27th amendment prevents Congress from changing its pay.) 
  • The President continues to receive his salary because it is considered mandatory pay.
  • If shutdown goes to late October, disability and pension checks could stop for elderly and ill veterans.
  • 3.3 million injured military veterans could be affected.
  • The Federal Government is the nation’s largest employer.
  • Democrats and Republicans say a spending bill that doesn’t contain ObamaCare stands a good chance of passing with support from moderate Republicans and the Democratic minority.
  • Stock market hasn’t panicked yet.

What We Don’t Know

  • Perhaps the biggest thing we don’t know is, how long this will last.
  • The long term implications to the country’s economic growth.

What this means for the American economy? and how this will impact the World

  • America is the largest economy in the world.  America activity impacts world markets and economies.
  • The Government ran out of money on October 1.
  • It will default October 17th without an agreement, as the nation reaches its debt ceiling (credit limit).  
  • 800,000 federal employees furloughed equaling 1 billion dollars a week in salary.
  • The billion dollars is the pay that goes to federal employees.  That is money that helps drive the economy.  Brian Kessler, economist with Moody’s Analytics predicts, The economic impact could be 10 times greater than the simple calculation of wages lost by federal workers.  His firm estimates that a three to four week shutdown will cost the economy about $55 billion.

    That would mean that the economic impact from a month-long shutdown would be roughly equal to the combined disruption caused by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, not counting the property damage that accompanied those storms. http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/30/news/economy/shutdown-economic-impact/index.html

  • The Federal Reserve has been operating with low interest rates, the shutdown may mean raising interest rates.  This would be bad for both the American and global economies.

“Showdown to A Government Shutdown”

progress

Today, minutes wind down on the “showdown to a government shutdown.” The clock ticks as elected officials in Washington guide us toward a rock that could sink the ship.

People like Ted Cruz from the Tea Party took the helm last week to bring attention to defunding ObamaCare. Cruz reminded me of a Harry Belafonte speech I heard a few years ago. In it he said, “Don’t worry about the Tea Party, because you know what happens when you put a tea bag in water?…It sinks!”

The Tea Party is sinking the ship. What many don’t accept is that ObamaCare and raising the country’s credit limit called the debt ceiling is good for Americans and the world economy.

To call ObamaCare immoral is wrong. To lead the country to a shutdown or a to default on the debt ceiling is as immoral as purposely guiding a ship toward a dangerous rock. A ship that responsible elected officials keep trying to guide to smooth waters that will allow the country to strengthen the economy.

Congress has allowed a budget sequester to go too long. Government workers who have been furloughed several days a month, now may not receive any pay at all. If the shutdown occurs what is immoral is that they also may not receive back pay after it ends.

What is immoral is, if we have a shutdown, 800,000 Americans will not receive a paycheck. It means 1.3 million servicemen and women and thousands of essential government workers will work but will not receive a paycheck until the shutdown ends.

As the minutes tick toward midnight, Republicans and Tea Party Republicans have the future of the American people in their hands.

So now we wait!

ObamaCare: What Part Are You Against?

obamacare-supreme-court-ruling-decision-cartoon3

After the Great Depression we got the New Deal. During President Lyndon Johnson”s Administration we got the Great Society and his War on Poverty that yielded Medicare (Medical Care). Now after the Great Recession, we have the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Here are a few questions you can ask those who oppose the law. And to those who are unaware of some of the simple things the law provides, tell me which of these are you for or against?

Do you think Insurance companies should be able to deny an individual or a child/baby health insurance for a pre-existing condition?

After the Great Recession many young people coming out of college and even today have had difficulty (more than any other living generation) finding a job. Should they be denied access to health insurance based on actions of those that came before them. Isn’t it a good thing they can stay on their parents insurance until their twenty six?

Should women, the head of many households and the one that keeps many more stabilized be penalized simply for being a woman. Shouldn’t mammograms and other preventative care measures be free to those who bring us into the world?

Do you want health insurance companies to spend more money on bonuses and executive salaries than on your health?

If you say you are against any of these, please tell us why? And if you’re going to say the cost of health care premiums, then think about this. Across the country we are seeing premiums in most states decreasing. And in those states where it goes up, lets see what happens after year one and two. If they cannot show they are paying their fair share in health care vs salaries as bonuses they will be penalized.

What you got?