Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Quiet Triumph of Obama Care

By Harold Pollack and Greg Anrig

... surprising even to many advocates of health care reform, evidence is emerging that the ACA is already improving life for millions of average Americans. It is promoting long-overdue fundamental changes in our dysfunctional medical system. Moreover, because those reforms are starting to directly address heightened economic insecurities of average families - the personal financial conditions that will largely determine this year’s election outcomes - President Obama would be wise to more forcefully and more specifically explain how his health care bill is already helping millions of vulnerable families and the country as a whole.

Sure, financially-pressured families will celebrate the derring-do of Seal Team Six. They should directly appreciate the immediate impact of improved insurance coverage and reduced medical costs. Here are five concrete realms in which the Affordable Care Act, which won’t even take full effect until 2014, has already had an impact:

The Affordable Care Act brings greater fairness, transparency, and integrity to private insurance. The ACA changes the basic business model of private insurance. Firms will no longer prosper by cherry-picking healthy consumers or denying coverage for basic care. The federal government now partners with states in scrutinizing large insurance plan rate increases. Such heightened public exposure and regulatory scrutiny has already induced major plans to moderate or to reverse large rate increases. Patients also are now entitled to greater due process, including external review, when their health plan fails to cover medical therapies. Because of “medical loss ratio” regulations, insurers are now required to devote the lion’s share of their premium dollars to patient care.

President Obama’s health care reform has radically transformed the status quo and provoked such bitter political battles with moneyed interests. His political advisers and pollsters can be forgiven if they feel some skittishness about attracting further controversy related to the ACA. They understandably and rightly wish to focus on issues of jobs and economic security. Yet secure access to affordable health care is intimately related to these latter economic concerns. The ACA’s full benefits won’t be felt until 2014. Yet the measures now in place are proving more important and more valuable than even many ACA supporters realize.

Health reform has already improved the humanity and effectiveness of our health care system. President Obama is entitled, and obliged, to embrace his own signature domestic policy accomplishment.

see also:
Iconic skier's death points out U.S. health gap
"The irony is that had the accident occurred in Canada… her care would have been covered because, unlike the U.S., Canada has a system of universal coverage," wrote Wendell Potter, an insurance executive-turned-whistleblower who writes for iWatch at the Center for Public Integrity. "No one in Canada finds themselves in that predicament, nor do they face losing their homes as many Americans do when they become critically ill or suffer an injury..."

An estimated 700,000 American families file for bankruptcy every year because of medical debt, Potter said.

White House Proves GOP Wrong - Health Care Law Saved Medicare Money
The Obama administration announced Wednesday that the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to receive health coverage through a private insurer, is enjoying lower costs and more customers as a result of the health care reform law.

Medicare Advantage enrollment has risen 10 percent over the last year while average premiums have fallen by 7 percent, said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. She also pointed out that similar improvements were seen the previous year.

The figures bolster President Obama’s defense of his signature achievement, and for Democrats it has the added bonus of refuting earlier Republican warnings that “Obamacare” would gravely undermine the choice provisions in Medicare.

“At the time the Affordable Care Act was passed, Republicans in Congress said the bill would virtually end the Medicare Advantage program,” declared senior White House staffer Nancy-Ann DeParle. “Those predictions turned out to be wrong. Medicare Advantage is stronger than ever — offering more seniors better benefits, higher quality care and lower costs.” http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/did-health-care-reform-hurt-medicare-advantage-apparently-not.php?ref=fpa

Just the Facts: Churches and the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate


Health care reform saves Michigan Medicare recipients $49M on prescriptions
More than 84,000 Michigan residents receiving Medicare benefits saved nearly $49 million on prescriptions in 2011 under health care reform, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said Thursday.
Health care reform provided seniors with Medicare a 7 percent discount on covered generic medications when they hit the prescription drug coverage gap called the donut hole. This year, health care reform provides Medicare recipients a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescriptions and a 14 percent discount on generics.
"The Affordable Care Act is already saving money for millions of Americans with Medicare," Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary, in a statement. "As we move forward, we will close the donut hole completely and save even more money for everyone with Medicare."
Last year, Michigan residents who hit the donut hole saved an average of $582 on prescriptions, and nationally 3.6 million Americans with Medicare saved $2.1 billion on prescriptions, according to the federal government.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How Is President Obama Doing On Job Creation?


President Obama inherited the greatest economic black-hole since Herbert Hoover gifted the Great Depression to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. And in spite of a historically obstructionist Republican Congress his bubble up economic policies have produced one of the greatest turn-arounds in history.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Kennedy Christmas Story: the gift my mother never forgot

It's Christmas eve and like many folks of a certain age, I miss my mother. She was really my grandmother. I was adopted. This is important to understand the time span. Born in 1915, she lived in western Palm Beach county with her family until the hurricane in 1928 when she and her sisters were left orphaned by the storm.

At 13 she went to live in foster care where the orphans worked as "the help" in the mansions in Palm Beach, and every Christmas the aristocrats gave them presents labeled "boy" or "girl." Everyone except the Kennedys.

Rose Kennedy took the time to learn all the children's names and presented them with a gift addressed specifically to them. So, this year, after losing her family, and feeling quite lost and alone, Rose Kennedy handed my mother a little box with the name "Olivette" on the tag. It was a hairbrush and mirror set.

Mother told this story dozens of times and it never changed. Except, as she got older, and more frail...and, as the world become more difficult and unforgiving for her, her telling of the story changed. Whereas she used to tell the story with a glint in her eye that indicated something like, "and that's how Democrats roll," she came to a point when she could barely finish the story without weeping. It touched her so deeply that someone of such high status -- a Kennedy -- bothered to know her name, at a time when no one else felt it was necessary to pay attention to a dirty little orphan with nothing. No family, no home, no money, no bright shiny future.

But, she had a name. And this, I think, taught her something that she never forgot: that she mattered. She treasured that memory. It was central to who she was. She had long lost the hairbrush, but the lesson stayed with her for the rest of her life. That, she was a real person with a real name, and she mattered. And conversely, that the smallest acts of kindness and dignity can echo for a lifetime.

Merry Christmas, ya'll. You matter. Each and every one.
-reprinted with permission from Nashville Brook-

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shocking New Graph That Shines Light On What's Wrong With Our Economy


That flat, light green line is the average income for the bottom 99% of Americans. It was $31,073.00 in 1970. Today is stands at $30,091.00, a decline of 3%.

The bright green line represents the upper 1%. In 1970 the average income for those folks was $318,659.00. Today it stands at $905,570.00, an increase of 284%.

And remember in November, todays entire slate of Republican candidates want to give further breaks to the upper 1% at the expense of the 99%.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If Corporations Are People, Then Mitt Romney's A Serial Killer


Watch this video from the Stephen Colbert's Super PAC. It's a great piece of political satire, humor, and truth all rolled up into one short clip. Forward it frequently.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Axelrod on Romney: He's Not A Job Creator, He's A Corporate Raider

By Susie Madrak:

David Axelrod appeared on ABC News “This Week with George Stephanopoulos" to defend the president's record against attacks by Republican nominees at last night's debate. First, he argues that the president has done a good job on the economy:

STEPHANOPOULOS: It is good to be back. Boy, you saw right [out] of the box, Mitt Romney last night walking that tightrope on the economy, welcoming the good news, but saying President Obama doesn't deserve any credit for it. He's made things worse. That's going to be the key debate of this campaign.
AXELROD: He ought to ask 1.5 million auto workers and people who work in the auto industry who are working today because the president intervened when Mitt Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt.....

[Romney] has a lot of arguments, none of them are supported by facts. If you look at the history of this, the president came to office. The quarter before he got to office, the country, the economy shrunk by 9 percent. The first month he was there, the country lost 750,000 jobs. We have had 22 months of private-sector job growth now. It's been a climb up. And there are a series of -- manufacturing up for the first time in decades....

let's talk about Bain and let's talk about what it was and what he did. His partner said in The L.A. Times, our job was not to create jobs, our job was to create wealth for our partners. And here's what they did. They closed down more than 1,000 plant stores and offices. They outsourced tens of thousands of jobs, and they took 12 companies to bankruptcy. And on those bankruptcies, he and his partners made hundreds of millions of dollars. He says this is the real economy, this is the model for the country. I don't think those are the values that people want to animate our economy. He's not a job creator, he's a corporate raider.
Those aren't the values that we want to lead our economy....

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