U.S. Health Care Bill – Perhaps the biggest social justice issue ever

It’s law.  Or at least it’s been agreed to by the House of Representatives after having been approved by the Senate in December.  So now the health care bill goes to the President to sign.

Here’s a bit of news coverage to bring you up to speed here:

CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/03/22/health.care.main/index.html?hpt=T1

Foxnews: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/03/21/house-leaders-make-impassioned-pleas-final-health-care-vote/

On both the Democrat and the Republican side there were many facts and many non-facts.  We’ve got some reading for you to hopefully steer your way through the morass of fogginess at FactCheck.org Among their findings:

  • Premiums? Some health care premiums will increase and some will decrease.  Basically, for those who get insurance through their employer, it does not appear as though it will change; for those who can afford to buy their own insurance, it may change 10 to 13%
  • Government  Run? When the BBC asked a Republican House Member today on an interview if this was in fact a Government  takeover for the U.S. Healthcare he said, “well, it’s about where we are going with healthcare”.   So what is the deal?   Well it is not government run nor aimed in that way.  And that fact made alot of liberal Democrats angry as a caffeine addict being served de-caff coffee here at Beck’s Cafe.   See Fact Check for the straight perk.
  • You Can Keep Your Old Plan? Well President Obama really didn’t give it to us straight on that one.  Under this plan employers may drop employees and plans (as they can today anyway by the way); but there’s a safety net here that let’s people dropped from their employers roles buy their own plans.  See Fact Check for the inforama.
  • Some plans are taxed: And what is up with THAT?  Well here’s the scoop – there’s a 40 percent tax on the value of plans above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families, starting in 2018. The tax falls on insurers, but would be passed along to policyholders one way or another.  The tax would affect mainly nonunion workers, according to an analysis partly authored by a former Bush adviser.”  See Fact Check for the full report on this one.

Here is the link to Fact Check’s coverage:  A Final Weekend of Whoppers? Health care legislation coverage.

There’s alot we need to sit down and understand over way more coffee than this.  What about women’s reproductive rights?  What about breast cancer screening?  Are trans-persons helped or at least not-hindered by this legislation?  Lots of questions and we’ll have some follow up in the coming days.

2 responses to “U.S. Health Care Bill – Perhaps the biggest social justice issue ever”

  1. Dave Burton says :

    FactCheck.org has gotten a lot less reliable over the years, unfortunately. This page of theirs is not accurate at all:
    http://www.factcheck.org/2010/03/a-final-weekend-of-whoppers/

    First, FactCheck says that, “Obama has repeatedly made this claim, and it’s true for the most part,” that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.

    That’s dead wrong. Obama’s claim is a blatant lie, and here’s why.

    The bill prohibits issuing new coverage that is not a “qualified plan,” and anyone who knows anything about insurance knows that the key to economic viability is a steady influx of new subscribers. (Most current plans won’t qualify as “qualified plans,” BTW.)

    By banning new subscribers to current “non-qualified” plans, the bill effectively outlaws the plans, though over a few year transition period. Eventually there will be no non-qualified plans, which means that if you like your current non-qualified plan you cannot keep it indefinitely. Eventually, you will lose it.

    FactCheck.org is also dead wrong in their pooh-poohing of the characterization of the bill as “it’s government-run health care.”

    It is true that it isn’t a “pure government-run system,” but that’s a straw-man, since nobody ever claimed that it was. Rather, the bill asserts dictatorial federal control over doctors, labs, clinics, etc., by:
    1) Requiring that all newly-issued insurance be “qualified plans,” and
    2) Requiring everyone to buy insurance, which means that eventually everyone will have a “qualified plan,” and
    3) Requiring that routine “preventive” care be paid for by insurance under qualified plans, which will put out of business the cheap providers (like my doc) who cut their costs by shutting out the insurance middlemen, and
    4) Forbidding qualified insurance plans from contracting with health care providers unless those providers comply with any and all regulations issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

    Here’s a quote from the bill, as passed by Congress:

    “Beginning on January 1, 2015, a qualified health plan may contract with… (B) a health care provider only if such provider implements such mechanisms to improve health care quality as the Secretary [of HHS] may by regulation require.”

    The main purpose of giving the Secretary of HHS such broad, dictatorial control is to empower the government to impose cost controls — i.e., rationing.

    FactCheck.org is also wrong about how much premiums will increase.

    For instance, I am self-employed, and I have an HSA + HDHP. When I switched from a bare-bones BlueCross major medical plan to my Celtic HDHP, it cut my premiums almost exactly in half.

    But the new law will not “qualify” plans like mine. It will require expensive first-dollar coverage of routine “preventive” care, such as physicals, which will make the insurance similar to my old major medical plan. That presumably means I’ll pay premiums like BlueCross charges for a bare-bones major medical plan, which implies an ~100% increase in premiums for me, not just 10-13%.

    FactCheck also calls former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s warning that seniors can be deemed “too old” to qualify for artificial joints and pacemakers in the U.K. an “outrageous assertion.” But Koop is exactly right.

    FactCheck makes this lame attempt at a rebuttal to Koop: “The majority of those getting joint replacements and pacemakers in the U.K. are, not surprisingly, seniors.”

    So what? Koop never said that all seniors are deemed too old. But the fact is that Brits don’t get nearly as many such devices as Americans do, and they wait a lot longer for them — and some of them die waiting.

    It’s a form of rationing, where they calculate life expectancy vs. cost and decide whether you’re worth the cost of the treatment, and how you’ll be prioritized in the queue for treatment. The older you get, the lower your priority. If you are too old, you’ll never get to the front of the queue.

    Obama supports that sort of rationing, and said so; you can hear him here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-dQfb8Wqvo

    The rationing will be necessary, in part, to make up for the increased costs incurred by the big new federal bureaucracy, and also due to the new law’s destruction of President Bush’s market-based health care reforms, which are the only reforms that actually have a proven track record of cutting costs and making the system more efficient, while helping rather than hurting patients.

    As the years go by, government-imposed health care rationing tends to get worse and worse. The waits get longer, and the cutoffs get lower.

    On Saturday, I had a lengthy chat with an expatriate Canadian now living in Tennessee. He told me that both of his parents would have lived longer in the USA. He had a seemingly endless series of horror stories about Canadian medicine and horrific waiting times. I recall he told me of someone who needed a sleep apnea test — the appointment was for TEN MONTHS later. (In the USA it wouldn’t have been 10 DAYS later.)

    But he also told me that in the 1970s Canadian medicine was excellent. They got socialized medicine in the 1960s, but it took awhile for it to get bad. By the 1980s the rot was setting in, and it just gets worse and worse.

    That’s the road that the Democrats have set us upon.

    • Rebecca says :

      Hi Dave,

      First, thank you for such a detailed contribution to the discussion. Talk about putting alot of time into a comment! Seriously, thank you for your meticulous documentation that helps to inform our caffeine jolted readers. Without trying to defend factcheck.org themselves here, my intent was to try and offer both sides of the debate, CNN for liberal-ish reporting. FoxNews for conservative-ish reporting and then factcheck.org to try and keep the field balanced. Perhaps factcheck has indeed grown unreliable over the years. That’s a shame frankly with balanced reporting outlets appearing to have ended. Today the watchword in reporting and commenting is hard polarization, beligerence towards others and posturing vs. reasonable and polite discourse. That’s a problem for our country. Hopefully citizens such as us can help create peaceful, dignified and factual discourse.

      I wanted to note a couple of points in your comment. First, regarding your comment about who controls medicine. Having talked to my physician about the bill he said, “I’m already controlled by the insurance companies”. He’s only a sample of one and his frustration was evident so maybe he’s a bad example. Perhaps tort reform and cross-state line competition would solve the issue but I’m not sure. I know for a fact that markets migrate to big players over time and economic forces work to create two or three big players in all markets. Would my doctor be less frustrated and all of us patients really be better of with just two massive insurance companies duking it out? I’m not so sure.

      Regarding Canadians and their single payer health care. I have worked for a very large Canadian company for a number of years. My Canadian colleagues were often split on their view of Canadian health care with some happy with it, some hating it, and others driving to Buffalo to get their services. Most hated the high taxes of course. I certainly hope we don’t end up having to drive to Mexico City for our health care!

      Thank you again Dave, I appreciate your comment!

      ~*Becki*~

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