Monday, March 29, 2010

Ben Stein Takes on the Bureaucrats

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Reform | What Happens First

What are the day-to-day effects of the new health care law? See if you find anything that pertains to you in this list out today from Nancy-Ann DeParle, the Director of the White House Office of Health Reform...

  • This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. Once the new health insurance exchanges begin in the coming years, pre-existing condition discrimination will become a thing of the past for everyone.
  • This year, health care plans will allow young people to remain on their parents' insurance policy up until their 26th birthday.
  • This year, insurance companies will be banned from dropping people from coverage when they get sick, and they will be banned from implementing lifetime caps on coverage. This year, restrictive annual limits on coverage will be banned for certain plans. Under health insurance reform, Americans will be ensured access to the care they need.
  • This year, adults who are uninsured because of pre-existing conditions will have access to affordable insurance through a temporary subsidized high-risk pool.
  • In the next fiscal year, the bill increases funding for community health centers, so they can treat nearly double the number of patients over the next five years.
  • This year, we'll also establish an independent commission to advise on how best to build the health care workforce and increase the number of nurses, doctors and other professionals to meet our country's needs.  Going forward, we will provide $1.5 billion in funding to support the next generation of doctors, nurses and other primary care practitioners -- on top of a $500 million investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Health insurance reform will also curb some of the worst insurance industry practices and strengthen consumer protections:
  • This year, this bill creates a new, independent appeals process that ensures consumers in new private plans have access to an effective process to appeal decisions made by their insurer.
  • This year, discrimination based on salary will be outlawed. New group health plans will be prohibited from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that discriminate in favor of higher-wage employees.
  • Beginning this fiscal year, this bill provides funding to states to help establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance in order to help individuals in the process of filing complaints or appeals against insurance companies.
  • Starting January 1, 2011, insurers in the individual and small group market will be required to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Insurers in the large group market will be required to spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Any insurers who don't meet those thresholds will be required to provide rebates to their policyholders.
  • Starting in 2011, this bill helps states require insurance companies to submit justification for requested premium increases. Any company with excessive or unjustified premium increases may not be able to participate in the new health insurance exchanges.
Reform immediately begins to lower health care costs for American families and small businesses:
  • This year, small businesses that choose to offer coverage will begin to receive tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to help make employee coverage more affordable.
  • This year, new private plans will be required to provide free preventive care: no co-payments and no deductibles for preventive services. And beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare will do the same.
  • This year, this bill will provide help for early retirees by creating a temporary re-insurance program to help offset the costs of expensive premiums for employers and retirees age 55-64.
  • This year, this bill starts to close the Medicare Part D 'donut hole' by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. And beginning in 2011, the bill institutes a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the 'donut hole.'

Monday, March 22, 2010

10 Things About Health Care Reform

1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured. [2]

2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick. [3]

3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums. [4]

4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years. [5]

5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans. [6]

6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage. [7]

7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade. [8]

8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people. [9]

9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26. [10]

10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. [11]

My US Representative, Brian Bilbray, voted against all this. [1]


1. Final vote results on motion to concur in Senate amendments to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, March 21, 2010

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Summary," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010

4. "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed March 22, 2010

5. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Revenue Provisions," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010

8. "New Jobs Through Better Health Care," Center for American Progress, January 8, 2010

9, 10. "Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill," The New York Times, March 22, 2010

11. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Addressing Health and Health Care Disparities," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 20, 2010

Research courtesy

Friday, March 19, 2010

Health Care News: The Sky May Not Be Falling

If you can spare 12 minutes to consider the upside of the health care reform bill, you may be less apt to panic when someone who claims special knowledge tells you this is the end of the world as we know it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reconciliation + Lies

Here's something you will hear opponents of health care reform say this week:

They will say no significant legislation has been passed using the reconciliation process.

One of two things is true of people who say this:
  1. They have been misled. 
  2. They are misleading you.
When the majority party in Congress thinks something is important enough, they may resort to reconciliation to overcome obstructions by the minority party. For example:
  • In 1985 a split Congress (Republicans controlled the Senate, Democrats controlled the House) thought uninterrupted health coverage was important enough to pass the COBRA legislation through reconciliation and President Ronald Reagan thought it was important enough to sign it (in spite of a number of flaws, at least some of which were made right in subsequent legislation).
  • Majority Republicans thought passing tax cuts was important enough to override the objections of the minority Democrats using reconciliation three times from 2001 to 2008. A big chunk of the current deficit resulted from that level of commitment in the Republican-controlled Congress and President George W. Bush's willingness to sign those bills into law.
  • A Democratic-controlled Congress agreed that making college-level education affordable—including regulating abuses in the college loan industry—was important enough to pass the College Cost Reduction and Access Act through reconciliation in 2007? The Republican president agree and signed the bill into law. 
Just as they passed a suite of tax cuts through reconciliation no matter how many Americans would be hurt, in the present circumstance, minority Republicans have made it clear in a year of negotiations that they will obstruct health care reform no matter how many Americans will be helped, no matter how much the reform will reduce the federal deficit, no matter how sharp a competitive edge the measure provides to US businesses large and small.

It's about priorities. The Democratic congress and president think these benefits are worth refining and passing in reconciliation for the common good. 

Don't let the ignorant or devious mislead you about this.

image from peterme

Saturday, March 06, 2010

What Robust Health Care Reform Will Mean

  1. Ending the worst insurance company practices and outlawing discrimination against Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  2. Reducing costs for people with insurance and making coverage more affordable for people without it today.
  3. Setting up a new competitive insurance marketplace where small business owners and families can shop for the insurance plan that works best for them, giving them the same buying power and insurance choices as members of Congress.