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Jun 13

Obamacare May Cause 1.1 Million People to Lose Their Insurance Later This Year

Here we have Exhibit #25899907564A which once again reaffirms the maxim that government intervention creates unintended consequences. In this situation described below, it is the exact opposite of what the purported intentions of Obamacare were. That is, to “provide” health insurance coverage for more people.

According to the report, over 1 million people may lose coverage later this year due to the inherent rules of the Obamacare legislation.

And the lies and deceptions continue to be exposed…

Health law could ban low-cost plans
Jennifer Haberkorn   June 8, 2010

Part of the health care overhaul due to kick in this September could strip more than 1 million people of their insurance coverage, violating a key goal of President Barack Obama’s reforms.

Under the provision, insurance companies will no longer be able to apply broad annual caps on the amount of money they pay out on health policies. Employer groups say the ban could essentially wipe out a niche insurance market that many part-time workers and retail and restaurant employees have come to rely on.

This market’s limited-benefit plans, also called mini-med plans, are priced low because they can, among other things, restrict the number of covered doctor visits or impose a maximum on insurance payouts in a year. The plans are commonly offered by retail or restaurant companies to low-wage workers who cannot afford more expensive, comprehensive coverage.

Depending on how strictly the administration implements the provision, the ban could in effect outlaw the plans or make them so restrictive that insurance companies would raise rates to the point they become unaffordable.

A cadre of employers and trade associations, including 7-Eleven, Lowe’s, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have asked the administration to allow the plans — at least through 2014, when the insurance exchanges are set up and tax credits become available for low-wage workers.

The struggle over the provision highlights the importance of the new law’s implementation timetable and the way its parts interlock with one another. The legislation was front-loaded with consumer-friendly reforms, such as the ban on most annual limits, in hopes the law would become more popular. Polls show the legislation is supported by about half the public.

But many of the more comprehensive features of the overhaul, such as the insurance exchanges and tax credits that would help cover those who use limited-benefit plans, don’t come into play until 2014.

That means, for nearly three years, the effect of the ban on annual limits could be costly for the low-wage, seasonal or temporary workers who most often use limited-benefit plans. The full effect won’t be known until the administration releases regulations that detail how the provision will be implemented.

The ban on annual caps is designed to improve the quality of all health coverage. It will prevent patients from “maxing out” of their health coverage if they are diagnosed with catastrophic illnesses or sustain costly injuries.

If the ban is strictly implemented, “this population would likely be left with no coverage until 2014,” employer groups wrote last week in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.
“While it surely was not the intent of Congress or the administration to increase the number of uninsured, this provision will likely produce exactly this result for some of the most vulnerable of our population, e.g., lower-wage, part-time, seasonal and temporary workers who can only obtain and afford limited-benefit medical insurance coverage.”

The letter was signed by nearly three dozen organizations, including many trade groups that did not support the Democrats’ legislation. Industry groups estimate that about 1.4 million people use these plans.

HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo said that the department was considering input from “all stakeholders” as it develops the rules surrounding the ban on annual caps and that everyone will see improvements in quality from provisions of the overhaul implemented this year.

“Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of small businesses and their employees will see a significant decrease in the cost of health insurance and will have access to higher-quality-coverage options. In the short term, employers will benefit from administrative simplification and greater insurer accountability on their overhead and rate increases,” Santillo said. “And starting this year, an estimated 4 million small businesses who offer health coverage for employees will see immediate relief through a small-business tax credit.”

Once the exchanges open and the tax credits become available in 2014, many of the low- and middle-income people who use limited-benefit plans are likely to qualify for the credits. But that’s after three years of limbo.

Employers admit the plans aren’t comprehensive but say they offer them because their employees can afford them.

“It’s not top-notch coverage by any stretch, but it is better than no coverage,” said Neil Trautwein, a health care lobbyist at the National Retail Federation. “There’s slight irony, given the president’s repeated assertion that if you enjoy your coverage you can keep it, that this would take the coverage away from part-time employees until 2014.”

Rules to implement the provision could be written to allow the limited-benefit plans until just 2014 or, with some flexibility, longer.

“If the limits are too restrictive, these products are not going to be able to be in the marketplace because that’s what makes them affordable,” said Jessica Waltman, senior vice president of government affairs at the National Association of Health Underwriters, which represents insurance agents and brokers.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0610/38219.html

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Feb 17

Constructive Republican Ideas For Healthcare Reform

Obama, Pelosi, Reid and a litany of Democratic politicians as well as a majority of the news media disingenuously claim that when it comes to healthcare, the Republicans are a party of “No”. They maliciously denounce them as obstructionists of Obamacare or any healthcare reform, further but falsely claiming that they have no plan of their own.

These are also the same people who adhere to the belief that the American public is too stupid to understand Obamacare but if they did, they would like it! In fact, Obama has stated that maybe he and Congress have not done a good enough job explaining the legislation to the people.

Hello!!

The American public fully understands the overall effects and implications of this insanely expensive and unaffordable government takeover of the healthcare system and that is precisely why they oppose the bill by at least a two to one ratio.

Up until now, the Republicans have been shut out of the healthcare debate by Pelosi, Reid, et. al. because the Democrats had a supermajority and they could. Despite attempts to share their recommendations and ideas, the Republicans were legislatively thwarted. They do have many concrete suggestions, some which have been implemented either on a limited basis previously or at a state level, that have been shown to be quite cost effective.

Ten GOP Health Ideas for Obama
We don't need to study lawsuit reform for one minute longer.
By Newt Gingrich and John C. Goodman

'If you have a better idea, show it to me." That was President Barack Obama's challenge two weeks ago to House Republicans regarding health-care reform. He has since called for a bipartisan forum, not to start over on health reform but to "move forward" on the "best ideas that are out there."

The best ideas out there are not those that were passed by the House and Senate last year, which consist of more spending, more regulations and more bureaucracy. If the president is serious about building a system that delivers more quality choices at lower cost for every American, here's where he should start:

• Make insurance affordable. The current taxation of health insurance is arbitrary and unfair, giving lavish subsidies to some, like those who get Cadillac coverage from their employers, and almost no relief to people who have to buy their own. More equitable tax treatment would lower costs for individuals and families. Many health economists conclude that tax relief for health insurance should be a fixed-dollar amount, independent of the amount of insurance purchased. A step in the right direction would be to give Americans the choice of a generous tax credit or the ability to deduct the value of their health insurance up to a certain amount.

• Make health insurance portable. The first step toward genuine portability—and the best way of solving the problems of pre-existing conditions—is to change federal policy. Employers should be encouraged to provide employees with insurance that travels with them from job to job and in and out of the labor market. Also, individuals should have the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines. When insurers compete for consumers, prices will fall and quality will improve.

• Meet the needs of the chronically ill. Most individuals with chronic diseases want to be in charge of their own care. The mother of an asthmatic child, for example, should have a device at home that measures the child's peak airflow and should be taught when to change his medication, rather than going to the doctor each time.

Having the ability to obtain and manage more health dollars in Health Savings Accounts is a start. A good model for self-management is the Cash and Counseling program for the homebound disabled under Medicaid. Individuals in this program are able to manage their own budgets and hire and fire the people who provide them with custodial services and medical care. Satisfaction rates approach 100%, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

We should also encourage health plans to specialize in managing chronic diseases instead of demanding that every plan must be all things to all people. For example, special-needs plans in Medicare Advantage actively compete to enroll and cover the sickest Medicare beneficiaries, and stay in business by meeting their needs. This is the alternative to forcing insurers to take high-cost patients for cut-rate premiums, which guarantees that these patients will be unwanted.

• Allow doctors and patients to control costs. Doctors and patients are currently trapped by government-imposed payment rates. Under Medicare, doctors are not paid if they communicate with their patients by phone or e-mail. Medicare pays by task—there is a list of about 7,500—but doctors do not get paid to advise patients on how to lower their drug costs or how to comparison shop on the Web. In short, they get paid when people are sick, not to keep them healthy.

So long as total cost to the government does not rise and quality of care does not suffer, doctors should have the freedom to repackage and reprice their services. And payment should take into account the quality of the care that is delivered. Once physicians are liberated under Medicare, private insurers will follow.

• Don't cut Medicare. The reform bills passed by the House and Senate cut Medicare by approximately $500 billion. This is wrong. There is no question that Medicare is on an unsustainable course; the government has promised far more than it can deliver. But this problem will not be solved by cutting Medicare in order to create new unfunded liabilities for young people.

• Protect early retirees. More than 80% of the 78 million baby boomers will likely retire before they become eligible for Medicare. This is often the most difficult time for individuals and families to find affordable insurance. A viable bridge to Medicare can be built by allowing employers to obtain individually owned insurance for their retirees at group rates; allowing them to deposit some or all of the premium amount for post-retirement insurance into a retiree's Health Savings Account; and giving employers and younger employees the ability to save tax-free for post-retirement health.

• Inform consumers. Patients need to have clear, reliable data about cost and quality before they make decisions about their care. But finding such information is virtually impossible. Sources like Medicare claims data (stripped of patient information) can help consumers answer important questions about their care. Government data—paid for by the taxpayers—can answer these questions and should be made public.

• Eliminate junk lawsuits. Last year the president pledged to consider civil justice reform. We do not need to study or test medical malpractice any longer: The current system is broken. States across the country—Texas in particular—have already implemented key reforms including liability protection for using health information technology or following clinical standards of care; caps on non-economic damages; loser pays laws; and new alternative dispute resolution where patients get compensated for unexpected, adverse medical outcomes without lawyers, courtrooms, judges and juries.

• Stop health-care fraud. Every year up to $120 billion is stolen by criminals who defraud public programs like Medicare and Medicaid, according to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association. We can help prevent this by using responsible approaches such as enhanced coordination of benefits, third-party liability verification, and electronic payment.

• Make medical breakthroughs accessible to patients. Breakthrough drugs, innovative devices and new therapies to treat rare, complex diseases as well as chronic conditions should be sped to the market. We can do this by cutting red tape before and during review by the Food and Drug Administration and by deploying information technology to monitor the quality of drugs and devices once they reach the marketplace.

The solutions presented here can be the foundation for a patient-centered system. Let's hope the president has the courage to embrace them.

Mr. Gingrich is former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and founder of the Center for Health Transformation. Mr. Goodman is president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

URL   http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704820904575055190217079952.html

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Jan 1

Obamanocare: Severe Restrictions of Rights and Choices And Almost No Way Out Of It

Instead of having options to tailor your health insurance plan to you specific needs, under the Obamanocare legislation it will be essentially one plan fits all. You are a 62 year old man but guess what? You will be forced to pay for maternity coverage.

No need for mental health coverage or physical therapy? Too bad! Once again you will be unnecessarily paying for it - and subsidizing the benefits of others.

Your rights to choose regarding your healthcare will be severely restricted. You will ultimately be paying far more in insurance premiums and taxes yet receiving fewer benefits, limited choices for treatments, and have to wait longer and not necessarily see the doctor of your choice.

And these are just a few of the myriad disastrous issues that we will be facing.

ObamaCare: No exit
By Scott Gottlieb                       December 21, 2009

Perhaps the most common question I'm asked about ObamaCare is: "Will I be able to buy my way out of it?" The answer is: "Not unless you're very rich."

The plan before the Senate creates a set of 50 state-based insurance "exchanges" that are established as markets for health plans. Consumers must buy policies from their employers or through the exchanges — but, either way, their choice of coverage is limited to one of four basic insurance plans that the government sanctions.

Private insurers will still compete to offer policies but must model their coverage on one of these four templates. In short, the Senate bill explicitly standardizes health benefits and then establishes elaborate mechanisms (including subsidies and penalties) to pay for them.

Here's the rub: While these four plans vary from low- to high-cost options, the benefits offered under them are pretty much the same. The difference between the cheaper and pricier plans is mostly the amount of cost sharing (e.g., you pay less for insurance if your co-pays are higher).

In effect, the plan creates a single national health-insurance policy. Consumers' only real option is to trade higher co-pays for lower premiums. But we'll all get the same package of benefits established by a series of new agencies and an "insurance czar" seated in Washington.

Once the exchanges are in place, the individual market — the ability to go directly to an insurer and buy a health-care policy — will disappear. You'll have only two places to buy insurance, in the exchanges or through your workplace.

As for health plans offered by employers, "no health-insurance policies could be issued (other than grandfathered plans) that don't meet the actuarial standards set for these plans" sold in the exchanges. The government will "define the essential health benefits" that all plans must eventually offer, not only those sold in the exchanges but also plans offered by employers. But like other elements of today's private coverage, the grandfathered plans also disappear in short time. While the bill allows some employer plans to continue as they are today, that's only so long as the policy doesn't change — and natural market forces will ensure that most such policies must change within a few years after the bill becomes law.

All of which brings us to the question of whether you'll be able to spend extra money to add benefits that exceed the government's basic package or opt out of that plan entirely. The bill doesn't address this question directly — yet I can say with great confidence that it will be costly and in some cases impossible.

The bill leaves these issues in the hands of the bureaucracies that will write the law's enabling regulations. And it's clear both what the spirit of the Obama plan and the habits of these bureaucracies will produce.

The overriding goal of this reform is to turn health insurance into a more "egalitarian" benefit that's the same for everyone, regardless of income, personal preference or need. So rules written under President Obama to implement the Obama plan are a sure bet to intentionally curtail anyone's ability to wrap around this national coverage with a supplemental policy or to contract privately with doctors to pay your way out of its limitations.

This is exactly what the bureaucracy's done with Medicare. Doctors accepting Medicare can't contract privately with Medicare patients to bill for services that Medicare doesn't cover. Nor can patients buy added coverage to help plug Medicare's gaps. (The "Medigap" that many seniors now buy are tightly regulated by the government to limit how much they expand on Medicare's basic benefits; they mostly just help defray co-pays.)

In short, beneficiaries are trapped inside the Medicare insurance scheme, just as they'll soon be trapped inside the ObamaCare exchanges. Doctors can't offer benefits not covered by the government plans, and patients can't buy extra insurance to make up for many gaps.

These restrictions were designed into Medicare for a reason: Progressives don't want it to be easy for rich seniors to buy their out; they fear that if the well-off can leave the federal plan, it will become a lower-end benefit. That is, it will wind up like Medicaid, whose enormous problems are largely ignored by politicians because poor Americans don't have the political power to force improvements.

The very rich, of course, will be able to buy their way out of ObamaCare. Many of the best doctors will go cash only, opting entirely out of the Obama program, to cater to a wealthy clientele. But only the truly affluent will have the cash to escape.

The vast rest of us will be locked inside the new system — stuck with the same collection of government-decreed medical benefits.

URL    http://www.nypost.com/f/print/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/obamacare_no_exit_l9njng7Izk9KYNuzdvOeOP

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Nov 25

Dealing With “Pre-Existing” Isn’t So Straightforward

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Nov 13

Massive Tax Increases Necessary To Partially Pay For Obamanocare

The healthcare reform legislation, AKA Obamanocare or Pelosicare, is disastrous no matter which way it is assessed – cost, quality, delivery, rationing, disorganization, corruption, effects on medical research, etc. The ultimate reality based astronomical price tag will bankrupt our country and obliterate the standard of living for years to come as a consequence. The massive and oppressive tax hikes that Congressional Democrats disingenuously claims will pay for the government takeover of healthcare will not cover the costs but will most assuredly crush and destroy our economy.

“Congress has barely finished blowing the ink dry on its bill, but already its central fiscal premise is being convincingly challenged.

While Democrats have claimed the overhaul will cost $900 billion, the Congressional Budget Office puts the real cost at $1.1 trillion. The Associated Press, citing unnamed Democratic sources, comes up with $1.2 trillion; Republicans say it'll cost $1.3 trillion or more; others say it's more like $1.8 trillion.”

Read: Unhealthy Taxes

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Oct 30

An Ever More Powerful and Corrupt Government Now Attacking Health Insurance Companies

“The latest villain in the politicians' demagogic fantasyland is private health insurance. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused private insurers of making "immoral profits." And they're a prime target for taxes to pay for the health care revolution Congress and the White House have planned.

But in fact, as we pointed out recently in these pages, this is an industry that actually lags many others in the U.S. economy. Plenty of other sectors of private industry are doing far better.

And some of the things Washington has planned — in particular a "public option" — would leave private insurers bankrupt.”

The following editorial exposes the fallacy of the belief that insurance companies are reaping exorbitant profits. It also should serve as a warning that no dissenting or politically out of favor individual, group or industry is exempt from the demagoguery and the vicious, punitive and morally corrupt attacks by an ever more powerful neo-fascist government.

Read: Insuring Doom

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