I thought Obamacare was designed to give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and reduce health care costs? Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
From MyNorthwest.com: Washington state’s road to universal health care continues, following the introduction of a bill in the state Legislature that would establish a fact-finding group.
If passed, SB-5822 would establish a “work group,” comprised of “a broad range of stakeholders with expertise in the health care financing and delivery system.”
That would include businesses with experience in group insurance models, health care providers and facilities, state agencies, and consumers.
The group would be tasked to “study and make recommendations to the Legislature on a universal health care system, that includes publicly funded, privately delivered health care that is sustainable and affordable to all Washington residents.”
The bill cites data claiming that as of 2017, 400,000 Washington residents remained uninsured due to growing health care costs.
“Health care is a human right and it is in the public interest that all residents have access to health care, that improves health outcomes, contains health care costs for the state and its residents, and reduces health disparities,” it reads.
The group would be required to present its findings and recommendations to the Legislature by Nov. 15, 2020. The bill is scheduled for public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health and Long Term Care on Feb. 18, at 8 a.m.
This comes not long after a bill introduced by State Senator Bob Hasegawa in early-February, that would create something called the Whole Washington Health Trust.
Seems the proggies received the same memo (see my previous two posts).
Residents in Washington state already have “access to affordable health care” via free and low cost clinics. In my search of seven counties throughout Washington (out of 39 total counties) I came across 159 clinics. That fact won’t stop the TDS-infected governor from implementing another bureaucratic/big government program.
As reported by MyNorthwest.com: Governor Jay Inslee introduced Cascade Care Tuesday morning, a plan to provide a state-run healthcare system akin to “Medicare for all.”
“We believe it is a just thing to do for all of our citizens to have access to affordable health care,” Inslee said at a press conference Tuesday. “…Today I am pleased to announce that we will be proposing a public option in the State of Washington, to take yet another significant step in the goal of universal coverage in the State of Washington.”
Inslee announced his proposal flanked by a variety of lawmakers at the King County Downtown Seattle Public Health Clinic Tuesday morning. He was joined by King County Executive Dow Constantine, State Rep. Eileen Cody, State Sen. David Frockt, State Senator Karen Keiser, and the state’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.
According to Inslee, the proposed Cascade Care bill will direct the state’s healthcare authority to provide coverage across Washington by contracting with one or more healthcare carriers. That coverage will begin in 2021.
That coverage will be available to anyone in the individual market. It will also set reimbursement rates consistent with Medicare. Using the service will be voluntary and patients will spend no more than 10 percent of their income on premiums.
Officials said Tuesday that it will cost the state $500,000 to set up the new system and accept bids from carriers. Costs beyond that weren’t specified.
Sen. Keiser noted that Washington once had an “incredibly popular” basic healthcare program between the late 1980s until the Great Recession. Implementing the Affordable Care Act eventually became a priority instead of restarting that program. “We have done this before, and we can do it again,” she said. “….Now it’s time to come back to the public option and include it in our array of healthcare services.”
Inslee, and other lawmakers present, pointed a finger of blame at the Trump administration, saying that it has worked to remove healthcare protections provided by the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Inslee said that there are 14 counties in the state that are on the verge of losing healthcare coverage altogether.
“We are on the knife’s edge,” Inslee said. “And we need to give a solid foundation of support to every county and every citizen in the State of Washington because that is a moral imperative.”
The governor also noted the work that has already been done to provide healthcare in Washington over the past few years, primarily through the state’s exchange: More than 800,000 Washingtonians have gained access to healthcare; Provided coverage to 30,000 cancer survivors in the state; and Provided 90,000 people with substance abuse treatment.
“But we need to take the next step,” Inslee said. “That’s why I’m glad we have put the dollars in my proposed budget that will allow us to set up this public option in the State of Washington.”
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From Fox News: Shortly after he took office on Monday, California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom unearthed an unprecedented new health care agenda for his state, aimed at offering dramatically more benefits to illegal immigrants and protecting the embattled Affordable Care Act, which a federal judge recently struck down as unconstitutional.
The sweeping proposal appeared destined to push California — already one of the nation’s most liberal states — even further to the left, as progressive Democrats there won a veto-proof supermajority in the state legislature in November and control all statewide offices.
“People’s lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe — they all hang in the balance,” Newsom, 51, told supporters Monday in a tent outside the state Capitol building, as he discussed his plans to address issues from homelessness to criminal justice and the environment. “The country is watching us, the world is watching us. The future depends on us, and we will seize this moment.”
Newsom unveiled his new health-care plan hours after a protester interrupted his swearing-in ceremony to protest the murder of police Cpl. Ronil Singh shortly after Christmas Day. The suspect in Singh’s killing is an illegal immigrant with several prior arrests, and Republicans have charged that so-called “sanctuary state” policies, like the ones Newsom has championed, contributed to the murder by prohibiting state police from cooperating with federal immigration officials.
As one of his first orders of business, Newsom — who also on Monday requested that the Trump administration cooperate in the state’s efforts to convert to a single-payer system, even as he bashed the White House as corrupt and immoral — declared his intent to reinstate the ObamaCare individual mandate at the state level.
The mandate forces individuals to purchase health care coverage or pay a fee that the Supreme Court described in 2012 as a “tax,” rather than a “penalty” that would have run afoul of Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Last month, though, a federal judge in Texas ruled the individual mandate no longer was a constitutional exercise of Congress’ taxing power because Republicans had passed legislation eliminating the tax entirely — a move, the judge said, that rendered the entire health-care law unworkable.
As that ruling works its way to what analysts say will be an inevitable Supreme Court showdown, Newsom said he would reimpose it in order to subsidize state health care.
Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program, now will let illegal immigrants remain on the rolls until they are 26, according to Newsom’s new agenda. The previous age cutoff was 19, as The Sacramento Bee reported.
Additionally, Newsom announced he would sign an executive order dramatically expanding the state’s Department of Health Care Services authority to negotiate drug prices, in the hopes of lowering prescription drug costs.
In his inaugural remarks, Newsom hinted that he intended to abandon the relative fiscal restraint that marked the most recent tenure of his predecessor, Jerry Brown, from 2011 to 2019. Brown sometimes rebuked progressive efforts to spend big on various social programs.
“For eight years, California has built a foundation of rock,” Newsom said. “Our job now is not to rest on that foundation. It is to build our house upon it.”
Newsom added that California will not have “one house for the rich and one for the poor, or one for the native-born and one for the rest.”
In a statement, the California Immigrant Policy Center backed Newsom’s agenda.
“Making sure healthcare is affordable and accessible for every Californian, including undocumented community members whom the federal government has unjustly shut out of care, is essential to reaching that vision for our future,” the organization said. “Today’s announcement is an historic step on the road toward health justice(First time I’ve heard of “health justice.” Liberals always love to distort language.) for all.”
When the “Affordable” Care Act was passed, it expanded tax-payer funded health coverage through Medicaid. States that agreed to participate and expand eligibility would be reimbursed by the federal government at 100% of the costs with those reimbursement costs declining by 2020.
As Nasdaq reported in 2016, states would take a hit to their budgets once the reimbursements were reduced. From their report:
“At this point, many states have seen dramatic increases in their Medicaid enrollment levels beyond original expectations, which may pose serious fiscal consequences.
While this growth speaks volumes about the progress toward meeting the federal government’s goal of increasing the number of Americans with health insurance, it arguably falls short in addressing the financial burden to state governments.
With federal reimbursement levels declining in a few years, states have largely focused on the most economical and efficient delivery methods (e.g., health maintenance organizations) to help alleviate fiscal costs going forward. Still, budgetary pressures are likely to persist. Enrollment projections were wrong and costs have exceeded expectations.That is why more than 20 states, mostly conservative, Republican-dominated states, opted out of joining the ACA program and are now enjoying an “I told you so” moment after analyzing the program’s fiscal costs.”
Oregon Live reported on Tuesday that the state’s general fund and lottery revenues could total $23.6 billion from 2019 to 2021, a 5 percent increase from the current budget, yet the state could still go $623 million in the red, according to a tentative budget overview from the Legislative Fiscal Office and Department of Administrative Services.
And the main cause of this deficit? Rising costs for the state’s Medicaid program. From their report:
“Under the Affordable Care Act, states such as Oregon that expanded Medicaid must pick up a greater share of the cost over time. Existing taxes that fund the program are also set to wind down.”
Adding to that deficit is education costs that will increase due to the passage of Measure 98 in 2016. That will result in an increase in spending on the programs by $147 million annually.
How’s that “big f*cking deal” working out for you now, demorats?
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“However, a new study from the well-respected and non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research (and published by Brookings Institution), overcomes the limitations of these prior studies by examining what happened to premiums in the entire non-group market. The bottom line? In 2014, premiums in the non-group market grew by 24.4% compared to what they would have been without Obamacare. Of equal importance, this careful state-by-state assessment showed that premiums rose in all but 6 states (including Washington DC).”
After the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, I saw my health insurance premiums rise each year while my coverage DECREASED to catastrophic-level coverage. My health insurance plan started out at $380/year and rose to $620/year (while my deductible rose to over $8,000/year and double that for out-of-network coverage).
In 2019, some consumers will experience a decrease yet premiums and deductible are still high. From Consumer Reports:
“If you’re shopping for health insurance through Affordable Care Act exchanges, the time to enroll for next year has arrived. After a few years of big price increases, some consumers will see relief.
Still, what you end up paying will vary significantly depending on where you live. Rates will be lower in 19 states, and eight of those will see drops of 10 percent or more. But six states have double-digit premium increases. The variation reflects how differently states are trying to rein in the cost of health insurance.
Premiums and deductibles are still high, of course, which means you’ll need to shop carefully and compare plans to find the best fit.”
Many, many people experienced the same consequences of having to “pass the bill to find out what is in it.”
Reduce gun deaths:
Progressives want to reduce gun deaths via the hash tag of #guncontrolnow. “
Yet many cities and states have some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation and for some reason, their gun death statistics are the highest. See the following demorat-government run examples:
This, of course, doesn’t include defending the Second Amendment.
And the Constitution should be defended, as long as it meets liberals’ standards. For many years, progressives have stated that our Constitution is “outdated” and needs to be updated. See the following examples:
This is rich. Many progressive-run cities and states blatantly ignore the law and have proclaimed themselves to be a “sanctuary” for illegal aliens. Why cooperate with the federal government when you can choose to ignore federal immigration laws? See the following examples:
This is one point I do agree that demorats do want: To count all votes, including those of illegal aliens and dead people. And if the process has to ignore a federal court order, so be it. Demorats will find a way to win. See the following examples:
From NBC: The Trump administration announced a proposed rule Saturday that would make it harder to obtain visas or green cards for immigrants already in the U.S. legally, as well as those seeking to enter, if they have ever been dependent on certain public benefits, like Medicaid, food stamps or public housing.
The proposal, which can become a rule after a public comment period, rewrites a 1999 rule that limited green cards for immigrants who were dependent on cash benefits, but did not take into consideration health care or other non-monetary benefits.
Originally, the rule known as “public charge” began in the 1800s as a way for the U.S. to deny entry to immigrants who were likely to become a drain on the economy.
“This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
As NBC News previously reported, earlier versions of the proposal included more draconian measures, such as limiting green cards and citizenship for immigrants who had used Obamacare or certain tax credits.
“The [disqualifying] benefits generally represent the largest federal programs for low-income people by total expenditure that address basic living needs such as income, housing, food, and medical care,” a spokeswoman for DHS said in a written briefing.
But, but…I thought Obamacare was suppose to reduce the cost of health care?
From Sacramento Bee: California’s government would set prices for hospital stays, doctor visits and other health care services under legislation introduced Monday, vastly remaking the industry in a bid to lower health care costs.
The proposal, which drew swift opposition from the health care industry, comes amid a fierce debate in California as activists on the left push aggressively for a system that would provide government-funded insurance for everyone in the state. Across the country, rising health care costs have put the industry, lawmaker and employers and consumers at odds.
The proposal in California would affect private health plans, including those offered by employers and purchased by individuals. A nine-member commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders would set prices for everything from a physical exam to an allergy test to heart bypass surgery. No other state has such a requirement.
“If we do not act now, I’m concerned that health care prices will become unsustainable,” Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a freshman Democrat from San Jose who wrote the legislation, said in a news conference in Sacramento.
The measure faces an uphill battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are generally cautious about making drastic changes to the health care system and are already juggling a wide range of ambitious proposals. The proposal is backed by influential unions including the Service Employees International Union, Unite Here and the Teamsters. The unions are frustrated that health care costs are gobbling an increasing share of employee compensation.
“Every dollar that we spend on rising health care prices is a dollar that comes out of a worker’s pocket,” said Sara Flocks, policy coordinator for the California Labor Federation, a union coalition. “This is something that is eating up our wages and it is increasing income inequality. This is a fundamental question of fairness.”
Health care providers say price controls would encourage doctors to move out of state or retire, making it harder for people to see a physician when they’re sick, and force hospitals to lay off staff or, in some cases, close their doors.
The California Medical Association, which represents physicians, called the proposal “radical” and warned that it would reduce choices for consumers. “No state in America has ever attempted such an unproven policy of inflexible, government-managed price caps across every health care service,” Dr. Theodore Mazer, the CMA president, said in a statement.
Under Kalra’s bill, prices would be tied to Medicare’s rate for a particular service or procedure, with that price as a floor. There would be a process for doctors or hospitals to argue that their unique circumstances warrant payments higher than the state’s standard rate.
Paying hospitals 125 percent of Medicare’s rate would cut $18 billion in revenue and force them to trim nurses and other support staff, said Dietmar Grellman, senior vice president of the California Hospital Association. Private insurers make up for the low payments from government-funded health care, which doesn’t cover the full cost of care, he said.
“That’s why their bill is such an empty promise,” Grellman said. “They take money out of the system with rate regulation, but then they don’t address the huge gaping hole that’s created by Medicare and Medicaid.”
In recent decades health care spending has risen faster than inflation and wages while employers and health plans have shifted more of the costs onto consumers through higher premiums, deductibles and copays. Americans spend more per capita on health care than other developed countries.
Meanwhile, a wave of consolidation by hospitals, physician groups and insurance companies has given industry players more power to demand higher rates.
From CNN Money: California signed up an estimated 450,000 people under Medicaid expansion who may not have been eligible for coverage, according to a report by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ chief watchdog.
In a Feb. 21 report, the HHS’ inspector general estimated that California spent $738.2 million on 366,078 expansion beneficiaries who were ineligible. It spent an additional $416.5 million for 79,055 expansion enrollees who were “potentially” ineligible, auditors found. Auditors said nearly 90% of the $1.15 billion in questionable payments involved federal money, while the rest came from the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal. They examined a six-month period from Oct. 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015, when Medicaid payments of $6.2 billion were made related to 1.9 million newly eligible enrollees.
There were limitations to the California review, however. The audit extrapolated from a sample of 150 beneficiaries. The authors reported a 90% confidence level in their results — whereas 95% would be more common. That meant that the number of those ineligible could have been as low as 260,000 or as high as 630,000.
“If HHS has a strong reason to believe that California is systematically making enrollment errors, it would be helpful to show that in a more robust analysis,” said Ben Ippolito, a health care economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “The federal government should ensure that states are being good stewards of federal money.”
Nonetheless, the audit highlighted weaknesses in California’s Medicaid program, the largest in the nation with 13.4 million enrollees and an annual budget topping $100 billion, counting federal and state money. Medicaid covers one in three Californians. The inspector general found deficiencies in the state’s computer system for verifying eligibility and discovered errors by caseworkers. The Medicaid payments cited in the report covered people in the state’s fee-for-service system, managed-care plans, drug treatment programs and those receiving mental health services.
California’s Department of Health Care Services, which runs Medi-Cal, said in a statement that it agreed with nearly all of the auditors’ recommendations and that the agency “has taken steps to address all of the findings.”
In a written response to the inspector general, California officials said several computer upgrades were made after the audit period and before publication of the report that should improve the accuracy of eligibility decisions.
Among the 150 expansion enrollees analyzed in detail, 75%, or 112, were deemed eligible for the Medicaid program in California. Auditors discovered a variety of problems with the other 38 enrollees.
During the audit period, 12 enrollees in the sample group had incomes above 138% of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible financially for public assistance, according to the report.
In other instances, beneficiaries were already enrolled in Medicare, the federal health insurance for people 65 and older or who have severe disabilities, and did not qualify for Medi-Cal. Onewoman indicated she didn’t want Medi-Cal but was enrolled anyway.
In 2014, the state struggled to clear a massive backlog of Medi-Cal applications, which reached about 900,000 at one point. Many people complained about being mistakenly rejected for coverage, or their applications were lost in the state or county computer systems. California was one of 31 states to expand Medicaid under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The health law established a higher federal reimbursement for these newly eligible patients, primarily low-income adults without children. After expansion started in 2014, the HHS inspector general’s office began reviewing whether states were determining eligibility correctly and spending taxpayer dollars appropriately.
Read the rest of the story here.
Because apparently this process – when election day is, how to register to vote, and who the candidates are – is too complicated for some people to figure out. Shouldn’t the public education system have taught millennials how this whole election thing works?
Hint: If millennials can’t access the internet to figure out the election process, maybe they shouldn’t be voting.
From Hollyweird Reporter: Funny or Die has commissioned Billy Eichner and other big-name comedians to encourage millennials to vote during the Nov. 6 midterm elections with the launch of the “Glam Up the Midterms” campaign. “I had a dream last night that several small town Americans called me and were begging me to have more TV and film personalities lecture them about politics,“ Eichner said of the campaign. “So I’m here to answer their prayers!
According to an NBC news poll, only 12 percent of millennials voted in the last midterm election, something that Eichner wants to change by bringing various stars to districts across the country. Comedians participating in the campaign include James Corden, Sarah Silverman, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Robin Thede, Andy Cohen and Chelsea Handler.
In all seriousness, I have certainly skipped more than a few midterm elections in my day — and now I deeply regret it,” the Emmy-winning actor said. “So, after years of shouting at people on Billy on the Street, I’ve decided it’s time to use my voice to do some good and to encourage young people all across the country not to make the same mistakes I did. Say what you will about me, I have a lot of energy and I can’t wait to use it to help get out the vote and help ‘Glam Up The Midterms’ on Nov 6th!”
During former president Barack Obama’s term, Funny or Die helped raise awareness about Obamacare with the president’s appearance on Zach Galifianakis’ Between Two Ferns. Funny or Die indicated that Trump wasn’t as game as Obama or even former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who sat for a Between Two Ferns interview.
“Sadly, the former host of Celebrity Apprentice won’t return our phone calls,” Funny or Die DC’s head writer David Litt joked of Trump. “But we’ll be working with artists across the country to increase the number of Americans – especially young people – who vote in 2018.” The campaign will work to convince voters under the age of 40 to fight for democracy and take the time to vote in November.
The “Glam Up the Midterms” portion starts at the 2:41 mark in the above video.
Their out-of-pocket medical expenses are too high? In 2015 my health insurance cost $380/month. This year it went up to $550/month. Next year it will cost me $702/month and my deductible is going up from $6,800 to $8,550 (and I pay everything out-of-pocket because my plan covers nothing until I meet my deductible). Welcome to my world!
From Seattle Times: Olivia Moore sees the same kids every day on the yellow school bus she drives to and from Seattle’s Montlake Elementary and Washington Middle schools. She and her riders are close. One girl is mercilessly bullied, and eagerly tells Moore if she’s had a good day or not when she steps on the bus. When Moore was diagnosed with basal- cell carcinoma, another young girl gave her a card. Moore, 26, doesn’t qualify for the health-care plan offered by First Student, the bus contractor for Seattle Public Schools, because she can’t get enough hours. So instead, she makes appointments at community health centers.
She cited her health as one reason she joined the picketing Wednesday for the one-day strike called by Teamsters Local 174, the union that represents 400 Seattle school-bus drivers. The Teamsters announced the strike Tuesday after contract talks with First Student stalled.
“I want to get this (cancer) taken care of so I can be there for my kids, whom I love to death, and I want to make sure they get to school safely and they have someone they can approach if they ever have any issues,” said Moore.
First Student “supports and cares deeply about employees,” a First Student representative said in a prepared statement sent Wednesday afternoon. He added that the company offers competitive pay and benefits. But on the picket line outside a bus lot in South Park, bus drivers told stories of having to declare bankruptcy, pay for expensive medication out of pocket or live paycheck to paycheck.
They say First Student promised last year to negotiate health care and retirement plans, but has not. The two sides appear far from an agreement.
Meanwhile, families of about 12,000 Seattle students scrambled to get their children to school without their usual yellow-bus service.
First Student is in the first year of a three-year contract with the school district, which is worth at least $27 million a year. Bus drivers are paid between $18 and $25 an hour, and drivers who work 30 hours a week or more are eligible for health- care benefits.
Moore said she works just under 30 hours a week. Hours are based on seniority, and she’s only driven for two school years, so she’s low on the list. Her annual income is too high for her to qualify for Obamacare. Some drivers who do qualify for the health-care plan said they still can’t afford it, and those who can said it doesn’t provide much beyond a doctor’s office visit.
Dana Bland, 63, has driven buses in the Seattle area for 30 years. First Student, he said, has had the worst medical plan of the several contractors he’s worked for — but he wants to work in Seattle, and that means working for First Student. But his health-care costs have gone way up. In the early 1990s, he said, he paid only $250 for a weekslong hospital stay when he worked for Laidlaw Education Services. (Seattle contracted with Laidlaw for 30 years, until 2002, when it went with First Student and Durham to save money; both were nonunion operators at the time.)
In 2013, while working for First Student, Bland had to file for bankruptcy because he couldn’t afford his medical bills after a four-day hospital stay. Earl Johnson, 65, qualifies for the First Student medical plan but said the deductible is more than $6,000, so he pays out of pocket instead.
Read the rest of the story here.