Labor Day Weekend Links

Here’s some of the stuff I’m reading this weekend:

Health Law Myths: Outside The Realm Of Reality via NPR

National Debt For Beginners via NPR

The Current Flat-Tax Rate: 40% via MSN Money

Making Social Security Less Generous Isn’t The Answer via Washington Post

Where’s My Free Health Care Coverage?

Customers flooded ehealthinsurance’s 800 line with questions about healthcare reform in March. Thousands of customers asked when their free Obamacare coverage started. Um… that was called “single-payer” and/or “the public option” and the Republicans turned both those systems into Satan-on-Earth, baby-killing, socialist-fascist-Hitler-grannie-killing, red herrings.

And I am left to wonder: Are people in this country truly that out of touch? Did the Republicans seriously obfuscate the issue such that people thought it was a single-payer takeover of healthcare? And that now that Obamacare has passed, those disillusioned people are wondering where their single-payer coverage is? If so, then the Republicans won on multiple accounts:

First, they fanned the fascist flames and killed the truest, strongest elements of reform. And second, by convincing the public that the remaining weakened reform bill was still a government takeover of health care, they have a pissed off populace that expects single-payer coverage that doesn’t exist. Damn! They are good.


Caption: Senator Clinton congratulating Barack Obama on the passage of health care legislation before a meeting in the Situation Room.


Health Care Reform: What and When?

How does health care reform play out? Who does it affect? When does it take effect? Here’s a great chronological list of the changes. Some pretty impressive immediate changes. (Source, WaPo)

– Sets up a high-risk health insurance pool to provide affordable coverage for uninsured people with medical problems.
– Starting six months after enactment, requires all health insurance plans to maintain dependent coverage for children until they turn 26; prohibits insurers from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing health problems.
– Bars insurance companies from putting lifetime dollar limits on coverage, and canceling policies except for fraud.
– Provides tax credits to help small businesses with up to 25 employees get and keep coverage for their employees.
– Begins narrowing the Medicare prescription coverage gap by providing a $250 rebate to seniors in the gap, which starts this year once they have spent $2,830. It would be fully closed by 2020.
– Reduces projected Medicare payments to hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices and other providers.
– Imposes 10 percent sales tax on indoor tanning.

– Creates a voluntary long-term care insurance program to provide a modest cash benefit helping disabled people stay in their homes, or cover nursing home costs. Benefits can begin five years after people start paying a fee for the coverage.
– Provides Medicare recipients in the prescription coverage gap with a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs; begins phasing in additional drug discounts to close the gap by 2020.
– Provides 10 percent Medicare bonus to primary care doctors and general surgeons practicing in underserved areas, such as inner cities and rural communities; improves preventive coverage.
– Freezes payments to Medicare Advantage plans, the first step in reducing payments to the private insurers who serve about one-fourth of seniors. The reductions would be phased in over three to seven years.
– Boosts funding for community health centers, which provide basic care for many low-income and uninsured people.
– Requires employers to report the value of health care benefits on employees’ W-2 tax statements.
– Imposes $2.3 billion annual fee on drugmakers, increasing over time.

– Sets up program to create nonprofit insurance co-ops that would compete with commercial insurers.
– Initiates Medicare payment reforms by encouraging hospitals and doctors to band together in quality-driven “accountable care organizations” along the lines of the Mayo Clinic. Sets up a pilot program to test more efficient ways of paying hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other providers who care for Medicare patients from admission through discharge. Successful experiments would be widely adopted.
– Penalizes hospitals with high rates of preventable readmissions by reducing Medicare payments.
Keep reading for 2013 and beyond

Healthcare Reform Bill and “Fixes” Bill Both Pass House

Via Democratic Strategist:

“So at 10:43 EDT, the 216th vote was cast for the Senate’s health care bill, which means, no matter what happens on the reconciliation bill later tonight in the House or later in the year in the Senate, the largest health reform legislation since the enactment of Medicare in 1965. The final vote was 219-212, or three votes more than the minimum necessary.”

That bill will immediately go to President Obama’s desk for his signature. A few minutes after the original bill passed, the House passed the bill containing “fixes” that will then go to the Senate via reconciliation. The Senate says they have the 51 votes necessary to pass that bill and send it to President Obama.

Two words: FUCK YEAH!

10 Immediate Benefits of HCR

I’m not a huge fan of the healthcare reform that is about to pass Congress. Without a public option, it’s just a huge handout to medical corporate interests (via the individual mandate) with a sprinkling of good stuff for the little guys (citizens). It seems now that we progressives begrudgingly support it only to hold on to a slight majority in both houses of Congress so that we might live to fight another day on other important topics (fat chance!).

That being said, one of the things that has irked me the most about the proposed healthcare bill is the delayed effect of the most important provisions by two, four, and six years. So, I was glad to see this today from Rep. John Larson, listing the Top 10 Immediate Benefits of Health Care Reform:

* Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
* Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;

* Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;

* Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;

* Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;

* Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;

* Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;

* Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;

* Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;

* Require premium rebates to enrolees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

As the Democratic Strategist notes:

The immediate benefits Larson cites are so good, so light-years ahead of where we are now. that memorizing just five of them and sharing the information with uncommitted voters should impress many of them enough to win their support. Emphasizing them to uncommitted House members can’t hurt either.

Sen. Orrin Hatch Gets Pwned

Start watching at about the 8:30 mark. WaPo columnist E. J. Dionne totally pwns Senator Hatch about reconciliation. Sweet.

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Nancy Pelosi, You Rock!

She reminds the summit that the public option would save 120 billion, that it is already law to not publicly fun abortion, and points out many other important key factual inaccuracies. Give ’em hell, Nancy!!

Republicans Preemptively Strike: The Blair House Project

In advance of the Health Care Summit tomorrow held at The Blair House, the NRCC launched this ad. I give them points for creativity. But, with “teabaggers” and now this quote, “They’re going to ram it down our throats,” I just can’t help but feel that a bunch of horny Republicans need to get laid and relax a little.

Rep. John Shadegg (R) on Loss of Public Option

Man, this guy makes a lot of sense. The Dems are idiots for losing the public option.

If Air Travel Was Like Health Care

Horribly Injured Americans Against Obamacare

US Healthcare Costs Compared to Other Countries

Via Boing Boing:

Four graphs created by the International Federation of Health Plans that compare how much US residents and people in other countries pay for health care. As Jay Livingston of the Montclair SocioBlog says, “Our Lipitor must be four to ten times a good as the Lipitor that Canadians take.”


Sen. Graham: The Govt. Would Be too Good to Compete With

“I think most people believe that if the government goes into the insurance business that the private insurers will fold because nobody can compete with the government. Politicians will write these policies very generous. They’ll never raise premiums, and eventually people in the private sector will give way to the government plan. Which is their goal, by the way.” -Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on FOX.

Um, so the government can do something better than the private sector and therefore they shouldn’t do it? That is freaking hilarious. What Senator Graham is suggesting is that Americans should settle for less; settle for a mediocre health care system because that’s the best that the private sector can provide. And, if we as a people can create a more effective and efficient system, we shouldn’t do it because what we create would be too good. Wow. Graham’s line of reasoning is just absurd. But maybe he’s right: Americans should settle for corporate mediocrity because that’s free market capitalism at its best. Hm. Fascinating.

Rachel Maddow Summarizes Health Care Options

A very succinct explanation of the types of healthcare systems and just how conservative the public option is. Thanks Rachel!

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