Helping the Working Poor — A Practical Defense of PPACA 3

The Health Care Bill, more often than not, raises the ire of both conservatives and progressives. They’ve teamed up to spread as much misinformation about the bill as possible. Why? I am not sure, because this bill goes a long way to get more people access to health care.

I think it all began with a guy named Howard Dean and some comments he made In December of 2009.  Dean was very angry that the public option was eliminated from the Senate bill. The target of Dean’s rant was Joe Lieberman, ( I)CT, he was pretty pissed at Lieberman and he seemed to feel no bill would be better than this bill now. He was angry at the process. And his anger is not unfounded. This Senate has become a branch of our government that is immovable, ideologically entrenched, almost completely unable to pass any worthwhile legislation. Dr. Dean was pretty pissed about that, as we all should be. However, instead of directing his anger at the improbable 60 vote requirement to pass any legislation of substance, he decided it would be time to just let Republicans win by killing the bill. That didn’t happen of course, but that was an extreme reaction, one Republicans were relying upon, this is where they were able to begin to sow the seeds of discontent among voters, they have filled the air with misinformation, with the help of people who are otherwise quite progressive. All that discontent, and the Executive Branches unbelievable inability to fight back against the propaganda has left people with a sour taste in their mouths when it comes to their thoughts about PPACA.

A number of people jumped on Dr. Dean’s bandwagon, Keith Olbermann went on the air to loudly proclaim why the Senate Bill should not be passed. Two days after Dean’s rant against the bill, a number of left leaning organizations and people banded together to help kill the bill:

Dave Linderhoff of The Public Record
Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake
Markos Moulitsas; Daily Kos Founder
Darcy Bruner; a past candidate for Congress

Lying about ACA has become something of a cottage industry. But don’t believe the hype, the reforms already implemented have brought down insurance costs, added more people to insurance rolls, new benefits for senior citizens, implemented necessary regulations regarding pre-existing conditions and an 80% requirement that premiums be spend on the consumers health care costs, with 20 mandated for administrative costs.

People who will benefit most from the bill:

  1. Those without any insurance.
  2. Those who have paid for expensive individual policies on their own.
  3. Employees of small businesses that have trouble affording the cost of joining a group plan.
  4. Low income Medicare participants who are left paying for whatever is not covered by Medicare for their medical bills and prescriptions.

Who is without access to health insurance? Some of those people are the working poor. It has been a long struggle to get federal legislation dealing with this problem, the estimates are there are some 45 million people without access to basic heath care.  In the past, some states attempted to solve this problem on their own by setting up their own state run “group” for people who didn’t qualify for Medicaid. When the boom of the 1990’s ran its course, those programs began to be cut severely because of the expense of running the programs and because states don’t have as much revenue since the economic downturn and they are having to make tough choices.  Many states of course never attempted such things. Washington State has such a program, but its funding has been cut in the past few years so although people may qualify by their income, there are no slots open to take them as customers, in fact the plan has had to disenroll people because of a lack of funding, in total 17,000 members were disenrolled.

However the results of PPACA have been positive.

  • More young adults have coverage
  • Requires beginning this year, insurers must spend 80% – 85% of premiums in actually delivering care
  • Premiums decreasing even for state employees.
  • Our health insurance plans now have to justify their premium rate increases to the State and pass an approval process before they can raise prices.
  • Because of the ACA, young adults can now stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.
  • New York has something called “community rating,” which means that health insurers can’t charge you higher rates simply because of your age, gender, or health history.
  • Because of the ACA, we no longer have to pay co-pays for many preventative care services.
  • Because of the ACA, people with pre-existing conditions now have choices for coverage, one example the NY Bridge Plan.
  • Because of the ACA, seniors who hit the Medicare “donut hole” are now getting help with their prescription drug costs.
  • States like New York have a law in place called “guaranteed issue,” which means that insurers have to offer health insurance to everyone, even if they have a pre-existing condition (even though they have waiting periods for coverage related to that condition.  But thanks to the ACA - those waiting periods will soon be a thing of the past!). 
  • More changes to Pre-existing condition plans by states, here is a preview, premiums have decreased.
  • Premium and Cost sharing subsidies to individuals: the mechanism provides refundable and advanceable premium credits to eligible individuals and families who fall between 133% and 400% of FPL (Federal Poverty Level) to purchase insurance through state created health exchanges.
  • Provide Costsharing subsidies to eligible individuals and families. Cost-sharing credits reduce the cost sharing amounts and annual cost-sharing limits and have the effect of increasing the actuarial value of basic benefit plan to the following percentages of the full value of the plan:
    • 100 – 150% FPL  94%
    • 150 – 200% FPL  87%
    • 200 – 250% FPL  73%
    • 250 – 400% FPL  70%

Health Exchanges: a few examples

  • Vermont : passed legislation to build a single payer plan for the state of Vermont and in October  of this year, (2011) that plan got one step closer to implementation.

These new federal policies are working. I think this is good. There seems to be a small, but loud coalition of people on both sides of the ideological aisle who would have you believe PPACA is a complete failure, but the evidence says otherwise. Let’s stop letting them get away with their propaganda war against delivering health care to those who would not otherwise have access. Let’s fight back with the facts at hand, because the facts indicate the legislation is working.

Crossposted at DAGBlog

Watching Maine 3

While most people spent election night watching the outcome of SB5 Ohio, I watched the election happenings in Maine. 1980 was a big year for me personally. It was the first time I’d lived in the United States since I was a small child.  I went to boarding school for my senior year of high school; my parents really thought I should know what it is like to be in America, to go to school in America and to learn to be an American. Boarding school… well that is a whole other story, but yes I ended up in Maine in boarding school and it was my first taste of living in the US for many years, I’d always been an expatriate, I was about to be something else.

I turned 18 in near the end of September in 1980. I’d wanted to exercise my vote since my dad handed me All the Presidents Men, in September of 1974, when we were flying back to the PI from the US at the end of our summer vacation. Reading that book on the plane trip over, back then it took much longer, with a layover in Guam. One time, and it could have been this particular trip our layover was on Wake Island because a large typhoon developed in the flight path and the pilots weren’t going to be in the air, so I remember I read the book in one flight, we had to layover on Wake Island for 8 hours in the tiny little airport and I finished the book before we landed in Manila.

I was taking the required class, American Government, which was not a required class in my school,  but I was quite interested to take it, I’d taken World Governments as our required class. I was interested in learning about how the American form of government differed from where I had come, where I’d lived through Martial Law, a military dictatorship, curfews, suspended elections, and other things that seemed the opposite of everything I’d ever read about the United States, where the will of the people was decided through mostly fair elections.

I was kind of over the top thrilled, going from a place where I could never discuss politics to the US where I could even participate in an election, openly talk about candidates, argue about beliefs and ideologies, Anderson was all the rage among many of the politically active students on campus that fall, and have no fear of any kind of retribution. It was pretty freeing.  I’d learned in our government class that if you were going to be 18, even the day of the election, in Maine you could register to vote the day of your birthday and vote in the election that year.  Sept. 23, 1980, a friend in school took me down to the city offices and I registered to vote.  I am so glad that Mainers voted to reinstate that law.

Unfortunately, in America more people don’t vote than do vote. The proof of course is in the numbers. The question has to be asked, why don’t more people vote? Is it because it is getting harder and harder to exercise that right? Currently legislative actions that will disenfranchise millions of voters are being proposed by multiple state legislatures. It is pretty obvious that legislatures are seeking to disenfranchise those voters with least protections, which are poor people everywhere, who by and large vote for Democrats.

I think you should look at the numbers, here is a link to the original spreadsheet I obtained at the US Census Bureau.  This attachment includes the workbook I built out of the data from the department and I made a simple graphs of the downward trend in voting among all groups, socio-economic or otherwise, but in particular a steep downward trend among the poor and undereducated.

Graph 1:

This is a very interesting graph.  The Northeast steeply dropped in eligible voters exercising their right to vote, which is kind of interesting to me, and it makes me wonder exactly what happened, did people just give up and decided it isn’t a worthwhile activity any longer?  No conclusions can be drawn from this data, all this data does is mark the downward trend in voting, what we do see it eligible voters in the Midwest are consistently voting in higher numbers than other regions.

Graph 2: Voters by Educational Status:

This graph doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, there is a very steep drop in those people voting who have no high school diploma. In earlier years that group voted with a much greater frequency, lower than the rest but certainly better than the under 10% today, in comparison to the 40% in 1968.

Graph 3: Voters by Labor Status

As a nation we really need to begin to understand why people aren’t voting with the frequency they once did.

Restrictive Voter Registration Laws

Current Restrictive Voter Registration Laws

Brennan Center for Justice, millions of voters could be disenfranchised.

http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/11/03/house-democrats-warn-states-on-changes-to-voting-laws/

http://mediamatters.org/research/201111020005

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2chambers/post/house-dems-urge-secretaries-of-state-to-protect-voting-rights/2011/11/03/gIQAPzsWjM_blog.html

If voting weren’t so important, why are so many Republicans tying to make sure fewer and fewer people will have the right to vote.

Thanks to MagicLoveHorse for the excellent graphic.

Crossposted @ DAGBlog