Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More on Health Care

A few semi-related health care / insurance items.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has an interesting post today that says in part:

The Fix laid our hands on a new polling memo from Democratic survey guy John Anzalone that details the results of a health care poll conducted in a whopping 92 Democratic districts -- a mix of top Republican targets, moderate/conservative Blue Dogs and rural seats -- and funded by several labor groups.

The main points of the Anzalone memo:

* Nearly six in ten (59 percent) of voters in these districts support the idea of reforming the health care system and roughly that same number believe that the changes need to be made now.

* While 42 percent of voters in these districts initially support the health care bill that number jumps to 51 percent "after hearing about some of the benefits of the plan."

* The best message arguments for Democrats to make in the wake of passage are: 1) the coverage of pre-existing conditions and 2) the fact that for the first time ever average people will be able to have the same health care plan as Members of Congress.

Some of the districts polled are in Pennsylvania, PA-10, PA-17, PA-03, PA-04, PA-08.

Congressman Patrick Murphy, who represents the 8th district held a conference call today with reporters and following that his office issued this release:
Today, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D, 8th-District) announced that he will support comprehensive health insurance reform to provide the largest middle class healthcare tax cut in history- $500 billion dollars for families and small businesses- and to end, once and for all, the abusive insurance practices that the industry has gotten away with for decades.

Murphy was joined on a reporter conference call by Barbara Stakes, a Bucks County resident who lost her insurance- along with her job of 40 years- at the age of 60, and overnight faced premium costs of $1250 a month. Unable to afford coverage, Barbara hopes that her seizures stay in remission and that she does not get seriously ill before she is old enough to qualify for Medicare. Murphy was also joined by Patrick Kenny, President of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, and by Dick Woodruff of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, to discuss why health insurance reform will curb skyrocketing premiums, expand access to care, and save lives.

After careful consideration and having met with and listened to thousands of constituents, doctors, patients, and healthcare providers, Murphy will vote to improve access to coverage for middle-class families, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and get the United States ’ spiraling healthcare spending under control and on a deficit-reducing path. Health insurance reform is supported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Nurses Association, and the American Cancer Society, as well nearly 300 other organizations, and will make critical and long-overdue improvements to the nation’s health insurance system.

“I’m proud to support the largest middle-class healthcare tax cut in history for 8th District families and small businesses, and to fight against special interests to end the abusive practices insurance companies have gotten away with for decades, like denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions or kicking people off their plans when they get sick,” said Rep. Patrick Murphy. “The need for these protections hits home when a parent is laid off and the family loses their insurance, a child graduates from college but is unable to find a job that offers benefits, or a loved one can’t get coverage because of a pre-existing condition like asthma, diabetes, or cancer.”

“I worked hard my entire life, but lost my health insurance when I lost my job. Overnight, I was facing huge out-of-pocket costs for treatment and medications for my seizures, a pre-existing condition,” said Barbara Stakes of Feasterville. “I want to thank Patrick Murphy for courageously stepping forward to support meaningful reform that will prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of other hardworking Americans who have played by the rules.”

Congressman Murphy has been guided by 8th District constituents’ experiences within the health insurance system- small business owners struggling to do right by their employees in the face of skyrocketing healthcare costs; Bucks County residents denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy, asthma, high blood pressure, and cancer; seniors failing to make ends meet and lacking access to vital prescription drugs as they fall into the Medicare Part D “donut hole” every year.

Healthcare reform will address these issues by extending tax credits to middle class families and small businesses to make health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible, ending denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and ensuring that consumers who already have coverage cannot be kicked off their plan for becoming “too expensive,” and closing the “donut hole”. Reform would end insurance companies’ abusive practices, putting Americans- not insurance company CEOs- back in the driver’s seat. Reform will empower patient and physician decision making. In addition to closing the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” health insurance reform will strengthen and improve benefits for seniors. Seniors will have access to lower-cost prescription drugs. Medicare beneficiaries will also have access to free preventive care services to help them stay healthy and active.

Importantly, healthcare reform cracks down on Medicare fraud that drains nearly $60 billion in taxpayer money from the system each year. It includes a bipartisan bill Congressman Murphy introduced with the former head of the RNC, then-Senator Mel Martinez . The IMPROVE Act will close a major loophole that allows for billions of dollars in Medicare fraud each year. This legislation finally gives law enforcement the tools they need to track down scammers and protect taxpayer dollars.

Health insurance reform is deficit-reducing, a condition that Congressman Murphy, as a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, stressed was critical to his support for any health insurance reform measures. In fact, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office, all of the current legislative proposals reduce the deficit. Pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and other industry groups, who will see millions of new customers under this legislation, are contributing hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for insurance reform.

On the call the congressman said that of the $500 billion tax break, $450 billion would be for families, $50 billion for small businesses.

Another of the districts polled, the 3rd, is represented by Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper. According to a blog post by Roberta Biros posted on the PAWaterCooler Dahlkemper's proposed legislation to allow parents to keep adult children on their insurance until the age of 26 was referred to on "Forbes on Fox" as a "slacker mandate." I know a lot of people with children who have graduated from high school or college and have not yet been able to find jobs that provide insurance. Being able to keep those adult children on their coverage would bring them into the risk pool and also provide insurance if health problems or injuries relating to accidents occurred. Name calling really doesn't help here.

Personally, as is probably apparent by this and previous posts, I hope the legislation passes. As a union member I've been fortunate to have good insurance but a number of friends and family have been uninsured or had to pay enormous sums for insurance. I know people who stayed in jobs they did not like because a child's illness would count as a pre-existing condition and so they could not take other job offers. One of my college teachers limped because he had been injured and did not have insurance and thus did not receive the care needed to fully heal an injury. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the health care bill would not add to the deficit and would in fact save money.

1 comment:

vanessa said...

One aspect of the health care reform debate that hasn't been discussed much is how increasing the ranks of the insured will place increased demand on the health care industry, which is already experiencing worker shortages. Julian Alssid with the Workforce Strategy Center has an interesting article in Huffington Post about the issue...