Monday, October 17, 2011

The Critical Role that Obama Played in Health Reform

As a result of some recent events, I have been reflecting on Obama’s role on health reform.  I am well aware that his presidency has had its limitations, especially since the Republicans took over the House.  I am also sensitive to some of the criticisms of the health reform bill. However, I feel that this bill is an outstanding bill that is the best that we could have gotten out of any Congress and the forces that effect their decisions.  There are so many positive features and there are so many potentials features to still unfold that the public has not been able to appreciate.  Obama played a key role in passing this bill as he outlined the main points he wanted to see in the bill, but allowed Congress to take the lead as that is a lesson he learned from the Clinton administration which had taken too much of the lead. 
Below is a summary of what I see as the elevator talk that one can give on the bill and a somewhat more detailed summary that I have prepared.  Unfortunately, the Republicans have sold the public a bunch of myths that are not true.  For instance, it is not a government takeover.  Partly because of the myths, many in the public turned against the bill and voted the Republicans and the tea party into power in the House.  Part of this is an overreaction to the idea of too much government and loss of freedom, part of this is resentment against government support for poor people.  Poor people deserve to suffer in this view. Obama is the first president in 100 years to get health reform passed. This is a tremendous accomplishment and we cannot allow this to be repealed by a Republican President.
We need to figure out how to turn this around. I still feel that we need to do a better job of selling this bill.  We need to take advantage of research that shows how to convince folks of the positive features of the bill and to eliminate the myths/misconceptions about the bill. 
We need to ensure bill is fully implemented rather than repealed by a Republican president. 

Below are key highlights and a brief summary of the bill, myths, and reasons why we need to retain this very important bill.  I just used these in a presentation on Health Reform. 

The Affordable Care Act

·       By 2014, 32 million will have health insurance who now do not  
·        The Affordable Care is not a Federal government run program as it will expand access to private insurance.
·       The non partisan Congressional Budget Office says the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit.
·        There are no death panels, and the Federal government is not paying for any abortion services. 
·       As of 2011
o   children  can stay on their parents insurance plan until the age of 26.
o   Children cannot be denied health insurance coverage.
o   seniors will have expanded preventive care 
o   seniors who have prescription drug plans will have reduced drug costs
o   small businesses will get a 35% tax credit to cover employees
·       In 2014, there will be a wider range of insurance choices with better coverage at better costs.


I.                  What are some of the key benefits of the Affordable Care Act

The law is already benefiting many Americans:

·       o Children can stay on their parents' health plan until they turn 26 .
·       o Insurance companies cannot deny or cancel children’s coverage for current or previous medical problems
o    Insurers can no longer put a dollar maximum on health insurance coverage or cancel a plan if a person gets sick 
o   Seniors who have Medicare prescription drug plans and have high prescription drug costs now will pay less for these drugs, and by 2019 all prescription drug costs will be covered 
o   All 46 million seniors with Medicare will get coverage for several preventive services, such as yearly checkups and mammograms.
o  Small businesses get a 35% tax credit to help pay for employees' coverage. 
o    CLASS:  Community living assistance services and supports.  This is a long term care insurance program for nonmedical services.  However, the Secretary of HHS has just indicated that they cannot ensure that it is fiscally sound and will not implement.

Additional benefits and savings in 2014, when the law is fully in place:
o   32 million people who are currently uninsured will get health insurance 
o   Insurance companies won't be able to deny anyone coverage for medical conditions or place a limit on your coverage.  Now only kids cannot be denied.
·       o People who don't get health coverage at work will choose among a number of health plans, in a new marketplace run by state governments.  These will be better health insurance plans than now available, and people will pay based on their income and other financial criteria.
·       o The Act will also improve quality, make health care more efficient, and reduce the deficit.

II.                  Myths: Is there any misleading information being said about the law?
o       Charge: The law creates death panels
+ This is a totally false charge.
o       Charge: The Federal government will pay for abortions
+ The bill specifically states that no Federal funds can be used for abortion services.
o       Charge:  The law covers undocumented or illegal immigrants
+ This is a totally false charge.
o       Charge: This is program run by the Federal Government.
+ The bill specifically states that the Federal Government will not operate any new insurance programs. 
o       Charge: the law increase deficits
+ The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which has always been regarded by both parties until now as a unbiased scorekeeper says the law will reduce the deficit by a trillion in 20 years.  This is the only time that Republicans have questioned the Congressional Budget Office. 

III.                What is the impact on businesses?
o                   Small businesses get tax credit in 2011
o                   Small businesses employees under 100 can get insurance thru exchanges in 2014
o                   Need to reduce rate of health care inflation, which is twice as high as rest of developed world, seriously hurting small and large businesses
o                   Better health care makes more productive employees which is good both for the employees and their families
o                   More health care jobs

IV.           What about the individual mandate and court challenges?

o       This is the main issue being challenged in court 
o    Requires everyone to have insurance,  same as auto insurance
·       o If a person gets sick, avoids doctors, and ends up in the emergency room, this costs everyone more money
·       o With everyone insured, it spreads the costs to everyone, and makes it cheaper for all of us
·       o If a person chooses not to get insurance, why should we bear the burden when they gets sick.
·       o As indicated the main court challenge is on the individual mandate, we won’t know until supreme court rules
·       o Congress can revise the law if the mandate is rejected

V.               What if the law is repealed?
o       Then 32 million will not have health insurance  and will have trouble getting health care. This is morally wrong, everyone is entitled to education and to health care, it is a basic right
o      Insurance companies will be able to deny if person has had previous medical condition or to set lifetime limits
o       We will have a much greater deficit, poorer quality, and less efficient care. 
We can’t let this happen

1 comment:

  1. I have just received material from the herndon Alliance that I think will be useful in addressing some of this. See me for the material.