Susan G. Komen’s Epic Fail 11

The Susan G. Komen foundation hours ago pulled the money they grant to Planned Parenthood to provide mammograms citing a congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood. I predict this is going to turn into an epic failure on the part of the Foundation.

What do you think will happen? Deciding to pull funding for a program that helps low income women receive mammograms, seems like you might be penalizing the people who most need these services . Women are going to be completely outraged at your actions, as once again our health care needs are subject to politicization, and now an organization that once helped is assisting those who would hold our needs hostage.   I am dumbfounded at your reprehensible decision that jeopardizes the health of poor women.  You know you going to have to reverse this horrendous decision, right, you have to know this, because the announcement has caused what now appears to be a mini-firestorm, but by tomorrow will be totally out of control. The longer this goes on the worse your publicity, and the more money the Foundation loses. But it isn’t just money that the Foundation is set to lose here, it has also suddenly lost the air of non-partisanship, and the appearance of a willingness to participate in the politicization of reproductive health, and in doing so, you were willing to sacrifice those who can’t fight back.

Your excuse for pulling this funding is beyond insulting to anyone who is in a semi-conscious state, seriously, “planned parenthood is under congressional investigation” is pretty lame.

Let’s unpack this excuse, so aside from the fact that Republican congresses have been investigating Planned Parenthood since the 1980’s, what makes this time so different? Are the charges more serious this time? No of course they are not. The investigation is being conducted by  Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, Republican of course, and it seems to be the run of the mill investigation that every Republican Congress conducts, you know the one I am talking about,  the one where congress tries to find evidence that PP is using federal funds to conduct abortion services. Every investigation is merely a ruse to pull all funding from Planned Parenthood services.

Why on earth would a Foundation that does so much good let politics seep into their decisions, I think this decision is going to deeply damage the Foundation. The only question is, will they ever be able to rebuild their once stellar reputation.

CrossPosted @ DAGBlog

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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

GOP Debate IX: Herman Cain 2

Herb Cain has a 9-9-9 plan and he became target numero uno at the GOP debate, Cowboy Style. You knew the group would be all in on going after Herb’s 9-9-9 plan. Cain’s plan has been all the rage as of late with the punditry crowd and the blogging world.  These are the people, (yes like me) who keep Herb in the spotlight.  Although his 15 minutes may be up quickly or maybe not.

The debate begins with a weird commercial about the legendary western United States. It was cool, but it was pretty, well, um, weird.  From there we sing the national anthem and then move right to introductions, where the debaters seemed to be running to their podiums as though they were the quarterbacks of our favorite football teams,  I half expected them to raise both their arms in the sky and scream “Team” “Woo”. And so began debate IX – Cowboy edition.

Herb did get some time in the first 33 minutes of the debate, not a good deal of time, but he did get some time. At the 33 minute mark we get our first sponsored by ad… sponsored by Coal.

Let me draw your attention to my video, before we go into the 9-9-9 apples and oranges montage, we have to talk about Lawrence O’Donnell, the other evening he did a short montage to what Herb Cain knows about his 9-9-9 plan, it was so brilliant I did happen to record it, so I have spliced it together with the highlights of Herb Cain’s debate performance last night. It plays very well with his act, which I now believe is and act to sell his new book, and nothing more. I applaud him for using these debates to enrich himself even more, it is a Republicans dream scenario to become even wealthier doing little or no work something we all know as the “Limbaugh Economic Model or self Aggrandizement=$$$$$$$”, it works too, so I don’t blame him for doing it if it is his goal. So here we are, we are on to Apples and Oranges this becomes Cain’s response to the criticism of his plan.. apples and oranges, apples and oranges. He is an applies and oranges kind of guy. As Lawrence pointed out so well, Herman Cain aka Herb Cain has no idea how his tax plan will work and it isn’t as if he cares if it works. He only cares for the attention he grabs while he gets his 15 minute in the spotlight.

Even though he doesn’t know really how his own program works, he wants to throw out the current tax code and start with his plan, 9-9-9. His plan will liberate American workers and businesses and he definitely wants people to do the math on their own, even though he doesn’t offer any metrics to do so, because he doesn’t know, he just won’t say he doesn’t know.

He loves mixing apples and oranges, no wait, he doesn’t like mixing apples and oranges. According to Cain there are 5 invisible taxes on all products, he doesn’t say what they are, and his tax will replace those invisible taxes. It is a sales tax, but not a VAT tax.

But then Herb turns to Health Care and it sounds like he supports the President’s plan, even though he says he doesn’t. So here is the video of what good old Herman says about Health Care for American’s and as Herb points out some of those things included in ACA were propose by Republicans, yes but they cannot say they support ACA they just support what is in ACA up to and including having to purchase your own insurance.

Next up, Ron Paul’s Greatest Hits

Crossposted at DAGBlog

ACA: The Slow Dance of Reform 4

There is positive news about  ACA, and an indication so far things are moving in the right direction. But you won’t hear about it on the front page of any newspaper or on an evening news cast, no it is information you must seek out yourself. Whether you believe in insurance or not, a Public Option was merely an insurance company run by the government, meaning it is fully regulated by the government, in essence this will be no different, when ACA is fully implemented, insurance companies will be heavily regulated by the Federal Government. There is very little difference between this and a program run by the federal government. Each is a middle man who pays health care providers through premiums collected.

There are some positive results happening and they are a direct result of the legislation.

1.  As reported June 6th, in the Washington Post, some health insurance premiums are going down.

“In May, insurer Aetna received approval from Connecticut regulators of its request to reduce premiums on individual policies by an average 10 percent, starting in September. Yes, you read that right: reduce the premium. The decrease, which affects some 15,000 consumers, will save those policyholders $259 annually, on average.”

I think most people know, but maybe not, under the new law, insurers must spend 80% of what they receive in premiums on medical claims or quality improvement efforts. Administrative costs and profits must be 20% or less of a premiums collected.  According to the Post what Aetna did is a preemptive strike, so that they will not be responsible for rebates to consumers, because they’ve already lowered individual premiums.  Effectively, this caps administrative costs. For consumers this is a positive sign.

2. Implementation of a National Prevention Strategy, the goal of the strategy will move us from being a system of sick care to one that is based on wellness and prevention. Preventative care is what the uninsured lack, of course many people who are uninsured eventually end up in an emergency room to treat a problem, but this system lacks  long term care and prevention.

3. 5.5 million seniors have taken advantage of  free preventive services. One aspect of medicare many people who are not on medicare don’t understand, it a yearly check up was not covered before the implementation of ACA, it is currently mandated in the reform. This of course plays right into the National Prevention Strategy

4. Affordable Care Act helps fight unreasonable health insurance premium increases because as of May 19th, the HHS.

HHS has issued a final regulation to ensure that large health insurance premium increases will be thoroughly reviewed, and consumers will have access to clear information about those increases. Combined with other important protections from the Affordable Care Act, these new rules will help lower insurance costs by moderating premium hikes and provide consumers with greater value for their premium dollar. In 2011, this will mean rate increases of 10-percent or more must be reviewed by state or federal officials.

The average premium increases imposed on individual plans were nearly 20%, with no rhyme or reason as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Patients were essentially left with three Hobson choices: lose coverage altogether, pay the premium increase, or switch to a plan that covered less. None good, each with dire consequences. This is why rate review is so important.  Rate review does has two important goals,  scrutinizing directing some sunlight premium increases. and mandating the insurance companies justify the increases with information and data.

5.  One result has been the California Assembly has voted to crack down on insurance rates. This was a major step taken by the Assembly to overhaul the way health insurance companies are regulated by the state. AB 52 allows the California State Insurance Commissioner to and the California Dept of Managed Care to block any premium increases. and it would require Insurers to get permission to raise rates.

These are all positive achievements of ACA so far. There will be more. Let’s not allow the Republicans and others with an agenda to continue to claim ACA has no benefits for Americans. We can’t allow Republicans to pull grants that will allow many other people to obtain health insurance. It might not be the bill you want, but it is a positive step in the correct direction.

There are some excellent blogs out there that cover this issue. One is a blog called Heath Care Reform Updates. It’s good, take a gander.

Crossposted at DAGblog