Obamacare: Fact vs Fiction

This blog was suggested by a form letter from a United States Senator that contained so many lies, misconceptions and misleading statements that I felt someone had to respond. I guess I am that someone. The form letter came from that paragon of Alzheimer’s, Senator Rockefeller (D)WV. I guess I should show you the letter in its entirety:

Dear ******,

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts about the repeal of the health care reform law. I know there are a lot of questions about this new law, and I appreciate this opportunity to be in touch.

In March 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, comprehensive health reform legislation that will reduce health care costs, improve access to care, and stop health insurance companies from denying coverage to people with per-existing health conditions. The Affordable Care Act provides tax credits to small businesses that provide coverage to their employees, makes prescription drugs more affordable for seniors, and beginning in 2014, provides millions of dollars in premium tax credits to help individuals and working families in West Virginia buy coverage through a competitive new Health Insurance Marketplace. Additionally, the health reform law adds eight years to the life of the Medicare trust fund. According to the most recent estimate by the independent Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the federal deficit by $210 billion over the next 10 years.

My vote for comprehensive health reform came after years and years of listening to West Virginians who could not afford the health care they needed – with devastating health and financial consequences.  I truly believe that no state has more to gain from health reform than West Virginia, and I will continue to closely monitor its implementation and make it work for our state and our people.

Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the House of Representatives has voted to repeal it completely, or in part, more than 30 times – while offering no alternative plan. These efforts were continued in the Senate by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. On February 2, 2011, Minority Leader McConnell brought the repeal vote to the Senate floor through an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (S. 223). The health reform repeal vote in the Senate failed by a vote 47 to 51. I voted against the McConnell amendment.

The health reform law is not perfect – no law is – and it does not address every concern. We can and must monitor health care reform carefully, listen to American families and businesses, and fix whatever doesn’t work. But wholesale repeal of health care reform would take away important benefits for West Virginians.

According to the most recent estimate by the independent Congressional Budget Office, repealing the health reform law would add $109 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years, while keeping it in place would reduce the deficit by $210 billion over 10 years. Repeal would reduce the life of the Medicare trust fund by 8 years, making it insolvent by 2016. Repeal would also raise seniors’ prescription drug costs, deny health care to sick people, take away tax breaks for small businesses, and put health insurance companies back in charge of decisions that should be made by doctors and patients. The stakes are too high – for every patient, for every family, for every business struggling with health care costs – not to move forward.

I have attached a fact sheet for your reference on what repeal of the health care law would mean for West Virginians. To learn more about the new health reform law, please visit http://www.healthcare.gov.  If you do not have a computer in your home, you may access the Internet at your local public library, free of charge.

As we continue implementation of this new law, your views and experiences will be critically important to me. Thank you again for contacting me. I wish you the very best.

With Warm Regards,
Jay Rockefeller

I will attempt to address each of the highlighted areas with both my own thoughts and those of officials both in and outside the beltway.

The first of these: ”legislation that will reduce health care costs, improve access to care “ Let me tell you of some friends of mine that live a good life on the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. Once Obamacare was passed their insurance tripled! Tripled! Two people, no children and their insurance premiums tripled! Obama and the Democrats promised that insurance rates for the average American family would decrease by $2500.00 when in fact, according to the GAO those same families are facing an average increase of $2585.00 per year. More of an increase than the promised decrease was supposed to be. Then there are the over three million Americans whose insurance has been canceled, including an estimated 10,500 right in the Senator’s home state of West Virginia. I personally have had three physicians refuse to accept medicare and medicaid because of the new regulations. Yet this man has the audacity to claim it “will reduce health care costs,improve access to care.” He doesn’t seem to live in the same world I do.

Next: provides millions of dollars in premium tax credits to help individuals and working families in West Virginia buy coverage through a competitive new Health Insurance Marketplace. Yes, there is a provision to grant tax credit to certain FEW that qualify. One thing though – the tax credit does not cover the increased costs they are facing. And then there are all of the people that simply don’t qualify for the tax credits, but do qualify for the fee of “the greater of $750.00 or 2% of their income” starting in 2014 if you do not sign up for Obamacare. And as we know, many people simply can’t sign up. A decent living wage in these times might be $50,000. 2% of that is $1,000.00 so there aren’t many that would be charged only $750.00 and those that are, certainly can’t afford to pay it, yet the cost of insurance under this law is even more with the so called tax credits.

Now about that “competitive new Health Insurance Marketplace” – we have all seen the news about the vast number of insurance companies that are refusing to enter it. Note the 3 plus million canceled policies. Competitive marketplace indeed.

Next: “the health reform law adds eight years to the life of the Medicare trust fund. “ This one is, at least in part, true. It is done in a very simple manner. They gutted medicare. It has nothing to do with Obamacare other than as a way to slow the deficit created by it. Know anybody on SSI? They are having their benefits cut over the next few years to help pay for Obamacare. Remember the fact that medicare benefits have decreased already. Well, unless you are an illegal.

Next: “According to the most recent estimate by the independent Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the federal deficit by $210 billion over the next 10 years.”

The first point here is the reference to the so called “independent Congressional Budget Office is the budget office congresspeople like to site when the Government Accounting Office (GAO) doesn’t give the information the way they want it. Remember the old adage that figures don’t lie but liars figure? The GAO takes into account more of the actual costs of implementing and maintaining the AFA and they are estimating that the budget will increase by somewhere in the neighborhood of one trillion dollars over the next ten years because of Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act. Reduce the deficit indeed.

Next: Repeal would also raise seniors’ prescription drug costs, deny health care to sick people, take away tax breaks for small businesses, and put health insurance companies back in charge of decisions that should be made by doctors and patients.

There four parts to this one. The first regards seniors drug costs. Yep they would go up! About double! And that is an example of liars figuring. The cost for a generic prescription would, possibly, go from $2.00 to $4.00. True statement. I am on medicare and have the requisite prescription coverage and my costs are accurately reflected in the above statement.

The second is the denying of health care to sick people. Under Obamacare more people are denied health care than ever before. Just take a glance at your local news show every day. (If it isn’t one of the mainstream liberal stations. They tend to ignore all negative Obamacare news.) Third is tax breaks for small businesses. This one sounds like the used car dealer that raises his prices then puts the cars on sale. Let’s see now… how many new taxes did Obamacare create? I lost count around a dozen so I don’t really have an answer for you, but I have a hunch that if Obamacare were repealed we would all save on taxes, not just small businesses.

The last is putting health care decisions in the hands of insurance companies. OK. Some HMOs were guilty of this one for a while, but soon learned that was not a profitable way to do business. The attorneys and all those law suits might have had something to do with it.

All of the ills with the old health care could be fixed with two new laws. Insurance companies have no power to make health decisions for its clients by denying coverage for medically necessary procedures and they must grant coverage for pre-existing conditions. This last would cause a slight rise in rates, but spread over all of the insured that rise should be relatively painless, unlike the rate increases caused by Obamacare.

The last two I will take only a short paragraph for my response. The so-called Fact sheet from the senate Democrats I will deal with in a separate blog. Believe me that one deserves a blog all by its self.

 

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5 thoughts on “Obamacare: Fact vs Fiction

  1. For the most part, I agree with you…but, regarding highlight #1. The determination of whether or not the law “will reduce health care costs and improve access to care” must be based on the total number of all citizens it affects. The fact that you know someone whose premiums tripled is entirely irrelevant, if fifty others simultaneously got access who never had it before. If fewer lose overall, and more succeed, then the law is an improvement over the previous system.
    Thank you very much for the comment. They keep me honest!

    1. Mikey, I agree that one example does not a trend make so let me quote another Senator, Senator Johnson of South Dakota who responded to this for the minority:”…Contrary to the promises by the president, the average family has had their insurance premiums increase by $2,583.00 since the enactment of this law and 3.5 million have had their health insurance cancelled as a result of the law.” Might be a tend in there.

      1. I’m not trying to find fault unfairly, but Tim Johnson represents South Dakota, one of the states most opposed to the PPACA. His motives (and numbers) are suspect. It’s pretty incredible to see how much negative attitude SD is still trying to throw at the feds, as opposed to offering solutions for people who need insurance. Here’s their health care exchange portal: http://federalhealthreform.sd.gov/

        To try and look at a more scientific analysis of overall costs, here’s a link to the Kaiser Family Foundations summary of state-by-state cost stats, based on different scenarios (whether they expand Medicaid etc.) : http://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/8384_es.pdf In short, their conclusion is that some states will incur small, reasonable costs to expand coverage to the uninsured, but that other states will see reductions in both costs and premiums. They aren’t taking sides about it politically as much as trying to analyze and organize available data.

        I live in Washington State. Our premiums are going down at the moment, and the cancellation rates appear to be unchanged from before the law’s implementation. Folks get cancelled mostly for the same reasons they used to. Kids get too old to be on their parent’s policies, people move out of range of their coverage networks, and in a few cases clients are dumped for having high-deductible/low coverage policies that don’t meet the minimum standard of care now required. I realize in other states people are having real problems, and experiencing negative effects. I’m still trying to learn why the law works better in some places than others. My current hypothesis is that it’s more cost effective (and more effective in getting people insured) for a state to run their own health care exchange than to have to use a “one size fits all” approach under healthcare.gov. WA runs its own exchange, the site had 4-6 hours of glitches the very first day, and has run well since.

        I work as an imaging tech at an Urgent Care (with Primary Care) in a town of 9,000. We don’t accept Medicaid, do accept Medicare, insured and cash patients. We’ve seen a 30% increase in patients over the past year. Most are telling us it’s because they couldn’t get insurance previously, so they avoided going to the doctor, or went to the ER.

      2. Mikey, I was originally going to just let this stand as is and approve the comment, but then I got curious and started digging. It took several hours, but I did discover that the Kaiser Foundation is funded by a very liberal mix of political activists and therefore are to me, suspect. In checking some of their figures it would appear that they are skewed in a liberal bias. Can’t actually say for sure, but that is how it appears to me.
        I think one of your difficulties is not following more than one source for your news. There actually have been over 3.5 million people cnacelled because of OBAMACARE restrictions nd no other reason. United Health is one of the largest health insurance companies in the world. Their sole conxcern is the bottom line and they have almost completely dropped out of providing care in California. Yes that gives weight to your state by state approach. I have a business contact in Seattle that is the CEO of a medium sized company (a few million a year in revenue) that was litterally forced to put over half of their hourly employes on part time because of the increased costs of healthcare mandated by your state exchange and the federal law.
        Senator Johnson is an aquaintance of mine. I know him to be a concervative, but very honest person and when he was asked to write a white paper on Obamacare he and his staff did the research. I will stand by his comments. You are welcome to reply again and in fact I encourage it; however’ I think I have made all of the points needed by me.

  2. Thanks for your updated response. I didn’t want to be impolite and go hog wild providing a long list of links. But I certainly don’t get my news from a single source, or even a few sources. Before I began working in health care, I was a professional reader at Allen’s Press Clipping Bureau, founded by Mark Twain, in Los Angeles. I read 60 publications a day on 12,000 topics, doing paid research on behalf of 5,000 clients. Multiple source research is a very old habit. Kaiser’s paper was just a well-organized example summary. Every insurer has put out a similar paper, with similar numbers. No Senator who isn’t a scientist or doctor is equal in expertise to medical and insurance professionals. I will accept Senator Johnson’s sincerity, but his expertise is in banking and law, not health care.

    When I began in health care, I was a senior Administrative Medical Assistant at several clinics in Los Angeles County, the guy whose job it was to wrestle the insurance companies in order to get approvals for procedures. I dealt with United at least 10,000 times. They may be “big”, but they are also one of the most avaricious, uncooperative, duplicitous companies I’ve ever encountered. Each time I got a different person (or level) within their hive, the criteria for “medical necessity” (in order to approve) would change. This kind of shell game simply did not occur at Aetna, Blue Cross, Medicare, Workers Comp or elsewhere. I frankly hope they get driven out of every state, or are forced to change their behavior like AT&E was.

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