Archive for health insurance

Is America politically mature enough for single payer healthcare?


single payer smaller

Back in 2011, I wrote Single payer to replace Obama health care plan in Vermont? Possibly. In a post of 2012, Rep. Jim McDermott's legislation may enable states to offer single payer healthcare, the L.A. Times ticked off reason after reason why such a plan would be superior to what we have now. Then our own Sherry Howarth asked this back in April: Are the Green Mountain Progressives Going to Pull Off Single Payer?

And now, one of my faves, Michael Hiltzik, has written another thoughtful column for the Los Angeles Times. This one asks if America has the "political maturity" to support single payer healthcare, especially after the dreadful Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Corp. Justices.

Hiltzik narrows it all down to the perpetual fight over abortion being the real obstacle to a single payer system. Once we stop our bitter squabbling and resolve that issue (not an easy task), it would open the door to enacting the same successful system so many countries around the world currently use. As Hiltzik notes, "That's not a permanent condition -- sooner or later, the gridlock will have to give, because the public won't stand for total inaction forever."

The entire column is worth a read, so please link over. He begins by responding to something Ezra Klein wrote. He ends this way:

[O]nly a mature system will be able to enact single-payer, so it's pointless to worry about it being hampered by childishness once it's in place.

Let's think again about abortion. There's no point in worrying that a single-payer program would bar abortion -- the thing to worry about is that the abortion debate will be an obstacle to enacting a single-payer plan at all. So clearly, the abortion issue will have to be resolved first.

Ezra Klein is right. Single-payer does have many virtues, and it does have some problems.

But under our current system post-Hobby Lobby, scientifically uninformed employers can interfere in the medical decisions of thousands of their workers. Obviously, that's the worst of all possible worlds.

Single-payer's problems, however, are either resolvable or conjectural, while its virtues are manifest. We should keep our eye on those, and worry about the problems when the time comes.

As we say on Google Plus: +1.

sign single payer health care smaller


GOP health care proposal "should be shunned like a bad disease."


obamacare health care cartoon by Dave Granlund

Before I get into Michael Hiltzik's consistently excellent health care columns over at the Los Angeles Times (this time regarding the Affordable Care Act), you must, must, must link over to this post by The Rude Pundit. It's about the new CBO report and the usual GOP willfully misleading spin. He totally skewers the right wing talking points like nobody else can. Go. Now. Yes, that's an order. I'll wait.

*tapping foot, looking at watch* Oh good, you're back. It was worth the trip over, wasn't it? Lee kicked major GOP ass while being informative in an easy-to-understand way that even conservatives can follow. Well, at least some of the less mentally deficient ones.

But back to Hiltzik. He continues where Rude left off in a new column here. Please give that a read, too.

Meantime, since we're on the subject of how Republicans gleefully lie and misinform America about the Affordable Care Act, Michael Hiltzik rips into the GOP health care plan, describing it as offering "less coverage, less choice, less access." I'm sorry, did I refer to it as a health care plan? My bad.

Here are some excerpts, but they're not going to do Hiltzik's column justice, so hop over and read it all here:

The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act ("CARE") bears the names of Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah). It preserves some of the things people like about the Affordable Care Act--insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, for example--but does so in a way that's guaranteed to fail most of those affected. Among other things, it eliminates minimum coverage standards written into the ACA, including items like maternity coverage, which will inevitably make insurance more expensive for women relative to men.

Oh those sly Republicans, going out of their way to alienate women again. They can't seem to grasp the concept of, you know, outreach.

And did you catch their tried and true use of a word that means the opposite of what their measure (it's not even a bill yet) represents? "CARE". Seriously?

Moving on:

[T]wo provisions perpetuate two issues with the Affordable Care Act most often cited by its critics: people discovering they can't see their previous doctors or go to their choice of hospitals; and older enrollees being confronted with sticker shock at the premiums on exchange-issued individual plans. The CARE Act acknowledges that narrow provider networks are a fact of life in the healthcare market, and allows higher premiums for older consumers than the ACA.

What's that word again? Oh yeah:

oopsie cat

The GOP plan cuts off premium subsidies at 300% of the poverty line, compared to 400% for the ACA. That means millions of Americans would be left without financial assistance provided by Obamacare. The Republicans would exclude all non-citizens from financial assistance, even those here legally; since nearly 20% of the uninsured are non-citizens, that's another huge exclusion.

And wait until you see what they do to the extremely popular part of President Obama's health care plan that covers pre-existing conditions.

Doesn't all this sound swell? Apparently Burr, Coburn, and Hatch think so.

In sum, the CARE Act is a bill of rights for health insurers and an unaffordable invoice for millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans. The analysis by the Center for Health and Economy says that by 2023 it would cover 244 million people; but the Congressional Budget office says the ACA will cover 256 million.

From the GOP standpoint, the bill's virtue lies in those words "choice," "responsibility" and "empowerment," which are Republican shibboleths. But it undermines the affordability and accessibility of health insurance in countless ways, and it should be shunned like a bad disease.

Bad disease, indeed. There's only one way we can inoculate ourselves against that: Vote Republicans out of office, stat!


GOP Healthcare Plan Recalled - They Discover Their Plan Raises Taxes, Lowers Coverage


egg on your face

Oops. Who's got egg on their face now, GOP?

So it's not quite as easy as the Republicans thought it would be to find a better working, comprehensive, healthcare plan than Obamacare.

The GOP revealed their healthcare plan earlier this week to drumrolls and coronets -- trumpeting the Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act. They were proud to point out they solved all the problems with the current ACA. They had it, as Tom Coburn said, "all worked out." They'd fixed all the harmful elements of Obamacare and now they could put it forth for a vote. This long awaited, well-thought out plan was going to replace Obamacare and still provide additional coverage to the many who are/were uninsured.

President Obama, in his State of the Union Speech the other night said he'd welcome changes if they were going to help. But he cautioned, they had to be improvements, not just changes.

Well, one or two of the Republicans heard this warning and took a look at their new bill. Lo and behold, their bill wasn't paid for. It would call for increased taxes.

tax increase

What? Republicans increasing taxes? Yup, that's what their bill would have done. That wasn't going to fly. So they quickly recalled their bill.

According to TPM:

It appears that the Senate Republicans who put forward their own alternative to Obamacare have quietly refined their proposal, undoing what would have been a significant tax increase on most Americans.

But the devil is in the details. The original eight-page proposal released by the Senate Republicans -- Richard Burr of North Carolina, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Orrin Hatch of Utah -- said that the new cap would be "65 percent of an average plan's costs." Health policy experts told TPM that this would likely result in a big tax increase on most Americans and some would probably lose their insurance.

Well, now, seems the GOP stalwarts and obstructionists found out providing healthcare to the uninsured isn't all that easy. Voting to repeal is a no brainer. But substituting a comprehensive and cost efficient plan ain't so easy. Now these Tea Party and conservative blowhards have a bit of egg on their faces. They've had to recall their bill. Gee, now isn't that something?

Here's what the new, now recalled plan would have done:

The Congressional Budget Office recently analyzed a similar, though not identical, proposal and estimated that it would raise $613 billion in revenue over nine years, while six million people would lose their employer coverage in the five years after it took effect. Under the GOP's plan as originally proposed, if you had an average health plan, you'd pay taxes on 35 percent of its costs.

The GOP fights for tax loopholes and benefits for the rich, but now they want to tax the health plans of the middle and lower class? How un-American.

Sometimes it's best to leave things alone for a bit, find out how they're running in their early stages, then come up with fixes. Tossing out the baby with the bathwater, then making public fools of themselves touting the Republican fix, then finding out it's a fraud is not the way to win elections. Then again, who wants the Republicans to win elections and further ruin our country? Let them run on their new healthcare plan which insures fewer people AND RAISES TAXES on the middle class and poor. Let's see how far that gets them in non-gerrymandered districts and in statewide senatorial campaigns.


Video- Fox's Siegel: "Too Many People Have" Health Insurance


Yeah, THAT'S the problem. Via MM.


Video- Fox's Huckabee Compares Insurance For Pre-Existing Conditions To Insurance For Burnt-Down House, Totalled Car


Yeah, exactly the same Mikey. Via MM.


Hey, Anthem Blue Cross: "Nothing else I purchase increases in cost this much."


Because I will be using #My2K to pay for my second double-digit Anthem Blue Cross premium increase (25%), I felt compelled to post this L.A. Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Anthem plans average rate hike of 18%," Business, Nov. 28

Anthem Blue Cross' spokesman may blame his company's rising costs on the economic downturn, which he says causes people to avoid buying insurance. But as a longtime Anthem policyholder, that's not the reason I've thought about dropping coverage. Plain and simple, it's Anthem's double-digit rate increases. Nothing else I purchase increases in cost this much.

Not too long ago, I received a tiny refund check because Anthem failed to meet the minimum requirement that 80% of premiums go toward medical costs. Maybe Anthem should start getting more efficient before blaming everyone else for why policyholders are leaving.

Steven Coker

Los Angeles


New Hampshire tea party member: "I hope the (5 Supremes) get colon cancer."


Hey GOP, if you think you're the party of "family values" and "pro life", you might want to take a harder look at yourselves and at what the Merrimack Patch is reporting about one of your New Hampshire tea bagger pals:

Former Town Councilor Mike Malzone, the founder of the Merrimack Tea Party, said Thursday in a Facebook post reacting to the Supreme Court ruling on health care, "I hope the (5 supremes) get colon cancer."

A day after posting the message, Malzone said he stands by what he said. He clarified that he doesn't want anyone to die, and the cancer reference was more to make a point that he wants them to feel the pain being inflicted on Americans being overburdened by taxes.

“I didn't wish for anyone to die, but I said I do wish for them to feel our pain,” he said. “No one cares about me, they all make their promises and then go do what they goddamn feel.”

Sure, that makes sense... because the pain and suffering from colon cancer is identical to paying a penalty fee of  $95.

He posted that message on the Merrimack Tea Facebook page.

At the end of his post, he apologized to his followers for the strong language he used, but several people who responded told him no apology was necessary.

Apologies are never necessary when offensive language is directed at those with whom you disagree. Of course, had someone wished him terminal illness, Malzone would be on his soap box screaming bloody murder, demanding retribution!

Okay now, think... think... who was it that came up with this individual mandate/tax penalty health care plan in the first place? Oh that's right, one Willard M. Romney did. What does Malzone wish on him?

Oh, but hey, let's be fair, I'm sure he's really, really sorry, right?

“I apologized to the people that do follow me, for my language. To the people that have done this to us, I don't apologize. But I do apologize to the people who follow me if I offended them.”

As Think Progress notes, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined the majority opinion, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and had pancreatic cancer ten years later."

Will he apologize to Justice Ginsburg "if" he offended her? And yes, that was rhetorical.