Category Archives: Obamacare

The price tag on universal health care in California is bigger than state’s budget

government solve all problems

Shocker, not.

From Sacramento Bee: The pricetag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal health care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag.

The cost analysis is seen as the biggest hurdle to create a universal system, proposed by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

It remains a longshot bid. Steep projected costs have derailed efforts over the past two decades to establish such a health care system in California. The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending for the budget year beginning July 1.

Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.

“Health care spending is growing faster than the overall economy…yet we do not have better health outcomes and we cover fewer people,” Lara said at Monday’s appropriations hearing. “Given this picture of increasing costs, health care inefficiencies and the uncertainty created by Congress, it is critical that California chart our own path.”

The idea behind Senate Bill 562 is to overhaul California’s insurance marketplace, reduce overall health care costs and expand coverage to everyone in the state regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Instead of private insurers, state government would be the “single payer” for everyone’s health care through a new payroll taxing structure, similar to the way Medicare operates.

Lara and Atkins say they are driven by the belief that health care is a human right and should be guaranteed to everyone similar to public services like safe roads and clean drinking water. They seek to rein in rising health care costs by lowering administrative expenses, reducing expensive emergency room visits and eliminating insurance company profits and executive salaries.

In addition to covering undocumented people illegal aliens, Lara said the goal is to expand health access to people who, even with insurance, may skip doctor visits or stretch out medications due to high co-pays and deductibles.  “Doctors and hospitals would no longer need to negotiate rates and deal with insurance companies to seek reimbursement,” Lara said.

Insurance groups, health plans and Kaiser Permanente are against the bill. Industry representatives say California should focus on improving the Affordable Care Act. Business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, have deemed the bill a “job-killer.”

“A single-payer system is massively, if not prohibitively expensive,” said Nick Louizos, vice president of legislative affairs for the California Association of Health Plans. “It will cost employers and taxpayers billions of dollars and result in significant loss of jobs in the state,” the Chamber of Commerce said in its opposition letter.

Underlying the debate is uncertainty at the federal level over what President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will do with Obamacare. The House Republican bill advanced earlier this month would dismantle it by removing its foundation – the individual mandate that requires everyone to have coverage or pay a tax penalty.

Republican-led efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare is fueling political support for the bill, Atkins said at a universal health care rally this past weekend in Sacramento hosted by the California Nurses Association, a co-sponsor.

“This is a high-ticket expense…We have to figure out how to cover everyone and work on addressing the costs in the long-term — that’s our challenge,” Atkins said. “I’m optimistic.”

The bill has to get approval on the Senate floor by June 2 to advance to the Assembly. A financing plan is underway, which could suggest diverting money employers pay for worker’s compensation insurance to a state-run coverage system.

Lara said he believes California can and should play a prominent role in improving people’s lives. “We can do better,” he said.

DCG

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Aetna drops last 2 state markets under Affordable Care Act

Obama_laughing

Obamacare going as planned. Let’s hope we can get rid of this monstrosity.

From Yahoo: While Republicans rewrite the Affordable Care Act in Washington, the future of the current law has grown hazier with the nation’s third-largest health insurer completely divorcing itself from state-based insurance markets.

Aetna said late Wednesday that it won’t sell individual coverage next year in its two remaining states — Nebraska and Delaware — after projecting a $200 million loss this year. It had already dropped Iowa and Virginia for next year. The insurer once sold the coverage in 15 states, but slashed that to four after losing about $450 million in 2016.

The government-backed marketplaces are a pillar of the Obama-era federal law because they allow millions of people to buy health insurance with help from income-based tax credits. But insurers like Humana, and now Aetna, have been fleeing that market, and the remaining coverage options are growing thin. Other companies like the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem say they are wary of returning without a guarantee that the government will provide cost-sharing subsidies that reduce expenses like co-payments. Those are separate from the tax credits that help pay premiums.

The White House has assured lawmakers it will continue paying the subsidies, but it has offered no long-term guarantee.

About 12 million people bought coverage for this year on the exchanges, and every market had at least one insurer offering coverage. But a growing number were down to one.

Companies are in the middle of figuring out their prices and coverage plans for next year, and insurance experts expect some holes to develop in those marketplaces.

“All it takes is one insurance company to exit, and that can create panic for other insurers and they pull out too,” said Cynthia Cox, a health insurance expert for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care. “Insurers don’t want to be the last one holding the bag.”

The federal law prevents insurers from rejecting patients based on their health, so if competitors pull out, the last insurer may be left covering all the high-cost patients in that market.

Metropolitan or highly populated areas are still expected to draw several insurers. But rural areas may not be attractive to insurers looking to cut losses. They generally have a smaller, older population.

Ultimately, insurers with the most common brand in health insurance, Blue Cross-Blue Shield, will decide the fate of the marketplaces. Many of those plans specialize in individual insurance and have a long-standing presence in their markets. They also are the only remaining option on exchanges in nearly a third of the nation’s more than 3,100 counties.

DCG

Candlelight vigils and funerals are being planned to highlight those who, activists say, will die under Trumpcare

hyperbole

From Vocativ: Activists are planning several protests around the country — at elected representatives’ offices and places of worship — to mourn for those they say will die if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Protesters are holding candlelight vigils, symbolic funerals, and die-in demonstrations to protest President Trump and the Republican Party’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with a new bill, called the American Health Care Act or AHCA. The first vote by the House of Representatives on the measure is scheduled for Thursday.

One of the more grim protests being planned will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, in front of Republican Congressman David Young’s office. Organizers say the event is “a vigil to mourn the deaths of the Iowans and Americans that will die if Trumpcare is passed. Almost 200 Iowans are projected to die each year, 2000 total over the next decade. We need to make sure David Young knows what he would be voting for.”

Organizing For Action, the political advocacy group that grew out of President Obama’s first presidential campaign, is planning a funeral procession in New York’s Staten Island with an effigy of Trump as the grim reaper. The protest, planned for Thursday, will march to Representative Dan Donovan’s office.

Indivisible, an organization made up of former Congressional staffers, is also organizing a series of candlelight vigils for the estimated 24,000 people who will die yearly if the GOP plan is passed as it currently stands. One demonstration, to be held at a San Diego church, will “pray for mercy for the sick and suffering in San Diego and across America.”

In Cincinnati, nearly 100 people have said they will attend a “die-in” protest on Wednesday. Each participant is instructed to lie down on the ground while holding a sign stating their hypothetical cause of death. Among the suggestions are “I died from a bacterial infection because I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor” and “My cervical cancer wasn’t discovered in time because I couldn’t go to Planned Parenthood.”

The American Health Care Act is scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives on March 23. President Trump and his administration have reportedly held a series of phone calls and meeting intended to pressure Republicans opposed to the bill to fall in line.  Several Republican lawmakers have come out against the bill, which they say fails to live up to promises of a full Obamacare repeal.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, some 24 million Americans are estimated to lose health insurance over the next decade if the plan goes through.

DCG

UN warned Trump that ObamaCare repeal could violate international law

United Nations

From Fox News: The United Nations warned the Trump administration earlier this year that repealing ObamaCare without providing an adequate replacement would be a violation of multiple international laws, according to a new report.

Though the Trump administration is likely to ignore the U.N. warning, The Washington Post reported the Office of the U.N. High Commission on Human Rights in Geneva sent an “urgent appeal” on Feb 2.

The Post reported that the confidential, five-page memo cautioned that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would put the U.S. “at odds with its international obligations.”

The warning was sent to the State Department and reportedly said the U.N. expressed “serious concern” about the prospective loss of health coverage for 30 million people, that in turn could violate “the right to social security of the people in the United States.”

Congressional Republicans failed in March to pass an ObamaCare replacement bill. A new proposal is emerging on Capitol Hill, but it’s unclear when it might be considered and how sweeping it may be.

A spokesman for the U.N.’s human rights office in Geneva confirmed the authenticity of the letter, which was sent by Dainius Puras, a Lithuanian doctor who serves the U.N. as “Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

Xabier Celaya, a spokesman for the U.N., said Puras cannot comment on his ObamaCare letter until it becomes public in June.

Though the report calls out the Trump administration, there’s very little the U.N. can actually do. 

According to the report, the letter sent to the Trump administration also was supposed to be shared with the majority and minority leaders in both houses of Congress — but that did not happen.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer’s office said they never received the letter, as did officials in House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. The letter from Puras did make its way to the Department of Health and Human Services, where an unnamed employee supposedly leaked it.

DCG

Poll: Most young people say gov’t should pay for health care

time-magazine-millennials_500

The public education indoctrination system has succeeded.

From Seattle Times: Most young Americans want any health care overhaul under President Donald Trump to look a lot like the Affordable Care Act signed into law by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

But there’s one big exception: A majority of young Americans dislike “Obamacare’s” requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a fine.

A GenForward poll says a majority of people ages 18 to 30 think the federal government should be responsible for making sure Americans have health insurance. It suggests most young Americans won’t be content with a law offering “access” to coverage, as Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed in doomed legislation they dropped March 24. The Trump administration is talking this week of somehow reviving the legislation.

Conducted Feb. 16 through March 6, before the collapse of the GOP bill, the poll shows that 63 percent of young Americans approve of the Obama-era health care law. It did not measure reactions to the Republican proposal.

The most popular element of the law is allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, which is favored by 75 percent of 18-30 year olds. It’s not just that they personally benefit — an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in January found that provision was equally popular among all adults. That proposal was included in the failed GOP overhaul.

But the Republican plan also contained provisions that most young Americans — the racially diverse electorate of the future — do not support, according to the poll. Two-thirds of young people agree with a smaller majority of Americans overall that the government should make sure people have health care coverage. And they understand that will cost more: Sixty-three percent want the government to increase spending to help people afford insurance.

Those feelings cut across racial lines and include most whites, who formed the base of Trump’s political support in the presidential election. “I do believe the government should offer it because we pay taxes,” said Rachel Haney, 27, of Tempe, Arizona. “I do feel like it’s a right.”

GenForward is a survey of adults age 18 to 30 by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the AP-NORC Center. The poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

Only about a quarter of young people want “Obamacare” repealed. That includes 16 percent of young adults who want it repealed and replaced as Trump has vowed and another 10 percent who want it repealed without a replacement. Just over a third of young whites want to see the law repealed, making them more likely than those of other racial and ethnic groups to say so.

“He just wants to protect us from al-Qaida, and terrorism,” said Kervin Dorsainvil, 18, a computer technician from Port Charlotte, Florida. “I feel like health care should be much higher on the list. I feel like we have the resources, the medical technology and everything in place to provide the health care to the people. So why wouldn’t we do that?”

Young people are more likely than Americans overall to say the government should make sure people have health care. A recent AP-NORC poll of U.S. adults, conducted during and after the collapse of the GOP proposal, found just 52 percent called it a federal government responsibility to make sure all Americans have coverage.

Despite their overall approval of “Obamacare,” young Americans’ views on the law aren’t all rosy. Just a third say the law is working relatively well, while another third think the health care policy has serious problems. About 2 in 10 consider the law to be fatally flawed.

The law’s requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a fine is opposed by 54 percent of young people and favored by just 28 percent.

On the other hand, 71 percent favor the law’s Medicaid expansion, 66 percent of young adults favor the prohibition on denying people coverage because of a person’s medical history, 65 percent favor requiring insurance plans to cover the full cost of birth control, 63 percent favor requiring most employers to pay a fine if they don’t offer insurance and 53 percent favor paying for benefit increases with higher payroll taxes for higher earners.

About a quarter of young adults say they personally have insurance through their parents, while another 1 in 10 have purchased insurance through an exchange.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

60% of online defenders of Obamacare are paid trolls

Paul Bedard reports for Washington Examiner that according to digital expert Michael Brown, social media is used to manipulate opinion, which is proven in the last presidential election, and that a majority of online and social media defenders of Obamacare are paid professionals.

By social media, Brown means Facebook pages, as well as the comment sections in every major newspaper.

Brown’s shocking analysis was revealed on “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson,” which was broadcast on Sinclair stations and streamed live on February 19, 2017.

Brown evaluated 226,000 pro-Obamacare posts made by 40,000 Facebook profiles, and discovered that “60% of all the posts were made from 100 profiles, posting between the hours of 9 and 5 Pacific Time.” This means that the posters “were paid to post.” These “Digital activists are paid employees; their purpose is to attack anyone who’s posting something contrary to the view of the page owner wants expressed.”

Brown calls these “zombie posts” — “a fake, purchased, or rented Facebook profile that’s expressing the views of an organization as if it was his or her own. But, when in reality, the comment being expressed is done on software and written by generally one or two people. So, the zombie posts will go out on a schedule and then they are supported by zombie likes.”

See also “Get ready for a $1M army of social media trolls for Hillary”.

~Eowyn

Planned Parenthood rejects Trump proposal to stop abortion services

Planned Parenthood Shasta

Vital to the mission…

From CNN: Planned Parenthood swiftly rejected Monday a proposal by President Donald Trump that would have pledged his support for federal funding for the women’s health organization if it ceased providing abortion services.

White House officials recently floated the idea in private conversations, a White House official said, but it was dismissed by the women’s health organization, which receives about a $500 million annually in federal funds.

Taxpayer dollars do not fund abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood, which provides a range of reproductive health services and preventative screenings through clinics nationwide.

Trump confirmed his support for the proposal in a statement provided by the White House, noting that he is both opposed to abortion and “deeply committed to investing in women’s health.”

“As I said throughout the campaign, I am pro-life and I am deeply committed to investing in women’s health and plan to significantly increase federal funding in support of non-abortion services such as cancer screenings,” Trump said in a statement. “There is an opportunity for organizations to continue the important work they do in support of women’s health, while not providing abortion services.”

The debate over Planned Parenthood funding could play a role in Congress’ ability to repeal and replace Obamacare, with House Republicans seeking to cut off monies and some Senate Republicans standing in opposition of such a move. Trump’s proposal may reflect an understanding of those fraught politics.

Many conservatives have consistently advocated defunding Planned Parenthood and during his 2016 campaign Trump said he supported the effort.

“Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion — a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards tweeted in response to the proposal.

“The White House proposal that Planned Parenthood stop providing abortion is the same demand opponents of women’s health have been pushing for decades, as a part of their longstanding effort to end women’s access to safe, legal abortion,” Richards said in a statement provided by Planned Parenthood.

Richards added that her organization is “glad that the White House understands that taking away the preventive care Planned Parenthood provides is deeply unpopular and would be a disaster for women’s health care.”

While Trump on the campaign trail joined GOP calls to defund Planned Parenthood over its abortion services — and even said he would support a government shutdown to cut off federal funds to the group — he has also at times talked approvingly on the campaign trail about the vital women’s health services the group provides.

DCG