Yet Another Reason To Vote Straight Democratic Ticket
While we don’t hear nearly as much from Republicans about destroying the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) as we used to, make no mistake that destroying the ACA is still at the top of their ‘must do’ list. At a recent Chuck Grassley town hall meeting in Columbus Junction a member of the audience urged congress to pass a bill to defund the ACA on a daily basis. Grassley did not respond.
Republicans in congress generally are no longer talking out loud about ending the ACA. That does not mean they are no longer at war with the ACA and by extension those who get their insurance through the ACA. This year there are around 13 million Americans who get their health care through the exchanges. This does not include others who do not use the exchanges, but would have been denied health care under previous rules who are now able to get insurance because of the ACA. Nor does this include many new Americans now covered by new Medicaid rules.
Yet there still exists a huge gap of people who are not covered by any insurance in this country, a true shame for the richest country on earth.
Plus the whole system of having private insurance companies whose main focus and goal is profit, profit, profit as one of the main substructures of this system that resembles a Rube Goldberg machine could easily lead to collapse. The private insurance companies know this well. They understand that if they pull their substructure from this system the system collapses.
Thus when Aetna announced it would be pulling out of most of the states where it currently offers coverage under the ACA you could hear the structure creaking and see it swaying. Aetna isn’t the first. They are joining United Health and Humana who also announced previous cutbacks. Since the ACA passed there has been major consolidation in the health insurance business and those three are the big players. Therefore when they announce they would be leaving many exchanges the system really creaked.
But for many, the real kick in the ass was the reason Aetna left. While they claimed major losses the truth came to light Tuesday when an internal memo within Aetna came to light thanks to the Huffington Post:
Bertolini responded bluntly. Aetna supported the law’s goal to expand coverage and planned to increase its exchange offerings next year, in the hopes that the exchanges would stabilize as enrollment grew, he wrote.
But if the Justice Department were to block the merger, Bertolini warned, Aetna could no longer sustain the losses from its exchange business, forcing it to sharply change direction:
[I]f the deal were challenged and/or blocked we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses. Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint …. [I]nstead of expanding to 20 states next year, we would reduce our presence to no more than 10 states .… [I]t is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely and plan for additional business efficiencies should our deal ultimately be blocked. By contrast, if the deal proceeds without the diverted time and energy associated with litigation, we would explore how to devote a portion of the additional synergies … to supporting even more public exchange coverage over the next few years.
To Obamacare critics, Aetna’s retreat is proof the law is failing. To supporters, it shows the company was using its participation in Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative as a bargaining chip in order to secure approval of a controversial business deal.
Given that due to consolidation in the health insurance industry insurance companies now have an out of proportion determination on whether Americans will be able to access health care or not, it is once more time for access to health care for all Americans to once more come to the forefront as an issue.
It is time that at a minimum a public option become part of the ACA so that insurance companies can not ruin health care for millions on the whim of their CEOs.
A Public Option should be the minimal response to this outrage. Moving into the modern world and creating a single payer health care system like every other major country on this earth has is the right answer.
The only way to make that happen is elect Democrats. If you vote for republican candidates at any level there is a risk that they may be part of a movement to destroy or chip away at the fragile ACA. That includes from the state house to the White House.
If you remember the role Chuck Grassley had in attempting to stop the ACA from ever getting passed it should be hard to vote for him today knowing that destroying the ACA is always on his mind.
Need a reason to vote for Democrats? How does being able to still access health are sound? Think it won’t happen to you. Millions have thought that and been wrong.
My apologies if this is similar to yesterday’s post. The potential destruction of the ACA by an unelected body is an issue of monumental consequence.
There is about a month before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will be hearing arguments concerning whether or not a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act would render the very fabric of the law moot. Did Congress really mean to make the ACA only offer subsidies to states that had their own exchanges (note: Iowa does not)? Or was there simply an error in drafting the law that was not by congress? Even as major of an opponent of the ACA and one of the senators most involved in writing the law as our own Chuck Grassley said such a challenge is “ridiculous.”
So what happens if SCOTUS rules in favor of the challengers? Simply stated, millions of Americans (including around 40,000 Iowans) would lose their subsidy and thus health care would most likely be unaffordable. Therefore, the affordable part of ACA changes and most likely millions will need to drop their health care. Not sure what that would do to the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance. If the subsidy is not available, then is the requirement therefore no longer in effect except in states that have their own exchanges? That is one of the possibilities.
An almost certain effect will earlier deaths for those who will lose their insurance. Joan McCarter at dailykos took a brief look at what how many might be given an early death sentence should the SCOTUS decide to rule in favor of the challenge in this case. In her article she quotes the American Public Health Association estimates that as many as 10,000 will die early.
Not that this is any big deal to the right. In a editorial for the Washington Post, American Enterprise Institute(AEI) “scholar” Michael Strain claimed that more Americans dying is OK in service to achieving certain ends. That is the old “ends justify the means” argument that is a never ending controversy. Allowing people to suffer and die to achieve some undefinable goal of freedom seems like a strange concept.
With John Roberts having been the swing vote on the SCOTUS’ previous decisions on the ACA we may expect that he would once more be in that position once again. With the criticism he took last time over his decision to let at least part of the ACA to go into effect one might think Roberts would feel some need to make amends to the Republican base on the ACA with this decision. With this as a background it is not hard to feel very concerned when the SCOTUS hears this case in March and rules on it in June.
This is where John Boehner comes in. Boehner has led his chamber in some 56 assaults on the ACA without ever having any hope of success. He has continued his crusade while in place of doing any work on what he apparently believes are much lesser issues such as jobs, infrastructure, outrageous student loans, immigration and many other pressing issues. Should the SCOTUS rule that suddenly a major portion of the ACA is no longer valid, then it should fall into Boehner’s lap to lead his colleagues to deal with the problem.
As anyone who has followed Republicans (actually Tea Baggers) in congress recently knows that party is really split 3 ways. One of the issues they are split on is health care. Therefore Republicans have never articulated any plan to replace the ACA despite their constant attempts to get rid of it. Their focus is on killing the ACA only. The SCOTUS may fulfill Boehner’s fondest dream without him having to even getting his hands dirty. Since they have been preaching “repeal and replace” for years and with the SCOTUS doing the repeal portion for them, what will Republicans do to replace?
Since Joni Ernst used that trite phrase over and over in her campaign, I called her office for some enlightenment a couple of weeks ago. There is nothing being worked on.
It is looking more and more that if a portion is repealed then the emphasis will be on killing the rest of it as quickly as possible, not replacing anything. I expect that the replacement pieces they will offer will be the two old standbys that they have floated for decades:
1) limit awards in torts which they claim will lower liability insurance costs and thus lower charges to patients. This has been shown over and over again to be false. Here is one such study.
2) Allow people in one state to buy health insurance across state lines. What this will do is allow states with few regulations to sell essentially worthless policies for low prices. While there are some guarantees of payment in the ACA, those would no doubt be attacked through the court system also.
If the SCOTUS rules for the challenge in King vs. Burwell it could surely be a really bad day not just for poor Americans who will probably lose their health insurance, it will be a bad day for all Americans who will still be depending on a ridiculous insurance system to ameliorate medical costs.
Single payer, single payer single payer. I can’t say it enough.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) announced her co-sponsorship of S.339 to repeal the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” also known as ObamaCare. The Iowa Senator is among 47 original cosponsors to the bill, introduced by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), which authorizes full repeal 180 days after enactment in order to allow a six-month window to replace ObamaCare with patient centered, affordable, quality solutions.
“Too many Iowa families and businesses have been hurt by the painful effects of ObamaCare – from rising costs, to losing access to doctors, to hampering businesses’ abilities to hire new employees. We must start over by repealing and replacing this disastrous law in order to craft and implement real solutions for affordable, patient centered alternatives,” said Senator Ernst.
As we pass Independence Day and inch closer to the heavy political season (it never stops anymore) we need to get ready for the real job of a democracy. The past two years in particular have resulted in gridlock caused by Republican politicians at all levels. This is not what government is about. If those Republican politicians want our vote, they need to answer some questions. Here are some I would love to hear asked and answered honestly, especially by the four Republican candidates for the US House.
1) Do you agree with John Boehner’s action to sue the President?
– Will you join in the lawsuit if elected?
– What are the specific issues (be specific, not “he acts like a king”) for which Mr. Obama should be sued?
– Will you push for impeachment? On what specific grounds?
2) Do you support the SCOTUS ruling in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius?
– If so, what other issues do you believe should be brought to the SCOTUS on religious grounds?
– Should discrimination against gays based on religious beliefs be allowed for closely held public businesses?
3) What specific legislation will you push to address the inequality in pay and conditions for women?
– Please cite Republican legislative action to address this issue in the past?
4) What specific action or legislation will you propose to address income inequality in this country. Please be ready to explain exactly how your proposal will directly affect the working class poor.
5) On immigration, particularly from Latin American countries. Some in your party have described such immigrants as “drug mules with cantaloupe calves.” Do you agree with this assessment?
– What is your proposal to practically deal with undocumented immigrants? What are the ramifications of your proposal?
6) The cost of college has skyrocketed while government support has fallen to all time lows. Thus the cost of college is out of reach for more and more Americans. Soon America will not have the human resources to maintain its lead in many economic categories. Does the cost of post-secondary education feel about right to you?
– Do you have a proposal to alleviate the crushing burden of debt for students? Please be specific on details and ramifications.
7) If elected will you support the House continuing to bring up legislation to end the ACA?
– If so, what would you propose to replace the ACA? Please be specific on coverage and on how the costs will be covered, especially for the poor.
8) Finally, many Republicans are coming to believe climate change is happening. What is your belief in this area?
– Please give specific documented sources for your supporting arguments.
That is a good start. I would really much rather know what an representative believes before I vote. Don’t you?
First let me thank you once more for the help you gave me last month in getting coverage with Coventry.
Once I got covered I began to go to a provider that was told they were set up with Coventry for the ACA. I went for two visits. I was surprised, no shocked, to find a bill in the mail that I owed $150. After another two hours with various customer service people (being passed around like a skunk at a picnic), I was told that my provider was not “in network.” My provider had assured me that they were prior to my ever first going up there. They (the provider) was also quite surprised they were not “in network.”
I also had a lot of medical insurance jargon thrown at me. I had to stop people several time to explain I was not familiar with the insurance terms as I am an insurance outsider. How many of your customers would be familiar with the insiders terms and acronyms?
The outcome was that it was my fault because I had trusted the provider (who was misinformed) and I had not looked it up on a list of providers. This is the first time I had ever heard of a list of providers and the website it was on. They sure made me feel like an idiot not knowing information I never had a clue existed.
If there was real competition in this field I would be looking very hard right now. As it is I have no recourse. I have but 6 months to go to Medicare. Hopefully I can survive until then. I live in fear that if I do have an illness or injury I will fail some proscribed method that Coventry has set forth. Not having all the rules readily at hand all the time, I will no doubt assume that something logical would be the answer and it may not.
I have called my congressman’s office. I am fairly sure that this is not what they expected insurance companies to be doing with the ACA.
My provider was also shocked since they were told they were “in network.” The “in network” designation was supposed to mean that patients that were covered by Coventry could go to them for the stated “in network” costs. After a week of calls they found out that they were “in network” but not for my “plan.” There was a list of providers subsequently sent me that showed me that the “in network” providers for my plan mostly practice in Cedar Rapids, just 50 short miles away.
When I talked with the secretary at my provider’s office she told me that the Coventry person she talked with said the phones have been ringing off the wall with angry customers and bewildered providers. This sure seems like a bait and switch to me, but it would be hard to prove. From what I heard on the Stephanie Miller show from Jackie Sheckner, an expert who has been involved with the ACA from the beginning, every insurance company is doing this.
Once more insurance companies are thumbing their noses at us. While I back the ACA, there are some major problems with it. These problems will not be addressed let alone solved if Republicans are in charge of either house of Congress. We need Democrats to fix the ACA so it works. Better yet we need Democrats to do the right thing and make single payer health care the law of the land
Senator Tom Harkin
The deadline for enrolling in quality, affordable health care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is today, March 31, 2014!
More than six million Americans have enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage through the federal and state Marketplaces created under the ACA. In order to take advantage of these benefits, Iowans must enroll by March 31, 2014. They can do so by visiting Healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.
“These enrollment numbers show us that the promise of the Affordable Care Act—expanding quality, comprehensive coverage to millions of Americans, many of whom previously had no access to health insurance—is becoming a reality,” Harkin said. “In addition to the six million Americans who have gained access through the federal and state Marketplaces, millions of Americans have also gained health coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, and more than three million young adults have gained coverage by staying on their parents’ plans.
Iowans seeking health insurance coverage for 2014 can review their options available through our state’s Marketplace—and sign up—by visiting Healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.”
Listen to a public service announcement Harkin recorded to help spread the word in Iowa about enrolling for health coverage through the ACA by clicking here.
To learn more about the benefits of the ACA, please visit Senator Harkin’s website at http://harkin.senate.gov/, or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tomharkin or Twitter https://twitter.com/SenatorHarkin.
“Families in Iowa and across the country are seeing the benefits of the health reform law. For the first time, virtually all Americans are guaranteed strong consumer protections and access to health coverage, regardless of a preexisting condition. In addition, because of the ACA, covered individuals receive preventive care, including vital services for women, without co-pays or deductibles, as well as coverage of essential health benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs, and mental health services. Above all, the Affordable Care Act is about the promise of the health and financial security that insurance coverage brings.
Harkin, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, played a pivotal role in the passage of the ACA. He authored the prevention and wellness measures that are part of the law—including the provision that requires health insurance companies to cover recommended preventive screenings with no copays or deductibles—and created the Public Health and Prevention Fund (PHPF). These initiatives help rein in costs across the full health care spectrum and create incentives to prevent chronic disease. Harkin also serves as Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), which allocates funding for implementation of the health reform law. Link
Should this be The Permanent Democratic Platform?
from January 11,1944 but still fresh and still not fulfilled. When the next war ends…..
Seeing The Light
note to Matt Schultz: It is just as true here as in Wisconsin!
In Memory Of Maggie Thatcher
The anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s death is about two weeks away. Last year I marked her death with about 50 playings of this song.
Here it is one more time for old time’s sake:
Fifth Anniversary Coming
Believe it or not it is nearly five years since the Varnum v. Brien decision. On April 3, 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that gay people had as much right to marry who they love just as much as heterosexuals did under the equal protection clause of the Iowa constitution. Since then some of the justices lost their jobs by being voted out.
Those judges were then awarded (deservedly so, I believe) the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award. Iowa was the beginning for what has become yet another round of civil rights. Many other states have followed suit to the point where nearly half of the US states accepts same sex marriage. The Attorney General of Kentucky said the other day that there was no sense in him spending state money to defend the Kentucky anti-gay marriage amendment because it would lose in court.
Look What Scott Brown Ran Into Last Week
a big hat tip to EarlG at democraticunderground!
Note To My Democratic Friends:
RUN ON THE ACA. It is the largest advance in social legislation since Medicare and the civil rights legislation. It is not done, but it has
at long last started!
Since I had written a post telling of my fun with the insurance company I was trying to sign up with through the ACA, I thought I would follow up with a short update.
I now have a card and have actually been to a health care provider a couple of times. Like many I have some blood pressure problems. Nothing too dire, but needs attention. Since I will soon be eligible for Medicare, other tests and treatments can be delayed for a bit.
While the ACA has been a tremendous positive for America, based on my recent experience it is still a bit early to trust insurance companies to fully comply with the ACA. I have an option that others don’t have which is to wait for Medicare.
The ACA is definitely a step in the right direction. I remember full well the nights I would lay in bed trying to decide if that pain or this sensation was worth a trip to the doctor. Since my “insurance” at the time had a high deductible plus the old “pre-existing condition” clause, I could pretty much figure that every visit would be on my nickel. Since doctors post no fee schedules, I may as well as just given them my checkbook. It is not as if I could make a guess as to what the fees and other services might cost.
For five years or more I had to endure what may have been warning signs of a heart attack, sprained ankles, a shoulder that was so painful that I would cry and many various ailments just hoping and hoping it was nothing really serious. I am out of that hell now. Now thanks to President Obama, I do not have to lie in bed wondering if I am dying – wondering if I take a chance at bankruptcy to get treatment. I know I am far from alone with what I went through.
Of course I blame the Republican congress and Charles Grassley for the hell I went through unnecessarily. I saw the hearings and I read the stories.
Republicans and in particular Grassley were resolute in stopping bringing our health care system into the modern age. Not just during Obama’s presidency but since the presidency of FDR. For that reason alone I would never vote for any Republican.
What is really sad is that the power behind the Republican party is still fighting hard to return us to those dark days. And they are fighting hard to end Medicare and Medicaid. Why would I ever want someone who hates America’s citizens so much that they would bring back this form of personalized terror to our country.
I truly thank President Obama and Congressmen Loebsack and Braley and Senator Harkin for standing up for us. You can not imagine how much relief I feel every day knowing that if I have a medical problem I do not have to sit in fear and try to decide between dying or going bankrupt. It wasn’t funny folks, it was reality in my life and many, many others for a long time.
Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Congressman Loebsack. Thank You, Congressman Braley. Thank you, Senator Harkin. Believe me, it almost makes me cry to be covered for medical finally.
BUT – now we need to improve the ACA. Really, we need single payer. And we need the citizens to call for it. Loudly