Thursday, August 13, 2009
Dear America: Get Well Soon
I got a fascinating e-mail from Michael Steele that claims to debunk healthcare reform myths coming from that Dastardly Socialist Kenyan Death Panelist-in-Chief:
- Rhetoric: President Obama Promises Americans Can Keep Their Current Health Care Coverage. "You know, the interesting thing is we've actually been very clear on what we want. I've said I want to make sure if you have health care you are going to keep it..." (PBS's "The Newshour With Jim Lehrer," 7/20/09)
FACT: Analysis Shows Over 88 Million People To Lose Current Insurance Under Government Health Care Takeover.
"Under current law, there will be about 158.1 million people who are
covered under an employer plan as workers, dependents or early retirees
in 2011. If the act were fully implemented in that year, about 88.1
million workers would shift from private employer insurance to the
public plan." (John Shelis, Vice President, Lewin Group, "Analysis Of The July 15 Draft Of The American Affordable Health Choices Act Of 2009," 7/17/09)
- It's quite an amazing linguistic contortion to go from "shift" coverage to "lose" coverage. In fact, if you read the linked research document you'll find that it's estimated the vast majority of EMPLOYERS will opt for the public plan because of its lower premiums. Generally employers don't ask their employees what plans they want, so unless all of a sudden you don't trust American Business, Mr Steele, I think giving them an option for cheaper insurance is a fairly decent selling point.
- Indeed, if you look further into this analysis you'll find Americans will be paying average premiums that are 75-80% of what they pay now. When you make the choice of saving money, that's not losing anything. That's what a public option is. Options, see, are kinda like choices. We'll work on the vocabulary lesson more during Recess.
- Rhetoric: President Obama Pledges Americans Can Keep Their Doctor. "If you like your plan and you like your doctor, you won't have to do a thing. You keep your plan. You keep your doctor...We're not going to mess with it." (President Barack Obama, Remarks At White House Press Conference, The White House, 6/23/09)
FACT: Mayo Clinic Says Government-Run Health Care Will Force Doctors To Drop Patients.
'[L]awmakers are on track to approve across-the-board federal payment
reductions of $155 billion over 10 years for hospitals ... Mayo and
similar health systems object to the sweeping cuts. 'Across-the-board
cuts will be harmful to everyone and we think it is particularly bad to
penalize the high-value organizations,' said Jeff Korsmo, executive
director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. 'We will have to
violate our values in order to stay in business and reduce our access
to government patients.'" (Phil Galewitz, "'Model' Health Systems Press
Case For Medicare Fix In Reform," Kaiser Health News, 7/20/09)
- From the Lewin Group analysis used in the first "fact": Several of these changes are designed to encourage improved quality and efficiency such as bundled payments and quality related payments such as pay-for-performance.
- From the Kaiser article cited: Mayo and others say that "global" or "bundled" payments would prod all hospitals and doctors to improve and streamline their care...For example, the government would pay a single fee for a patient’s hip replacement to cover the hospital stay, surgery and rehabilitation at home or in a nursing home. The fee would be higher for providers who delivered better care at lower cost.
- Mayo's "threat" of not caring for patients is the problem of Mayo, not reform, particularly when you recall that there have been calls for cuts without reform to "save Medicare". What's more, reform will encourage the very type of efficient and improved integrated health services Mayo provides.
- Of course, the whole point of the "you won't lose your doctor" thing is that Obama isn't going to tell you that you can't see your current provider. That's what the insurance companies do ("My doctor isn't 'in-network'? WTF?").
FACT: Democrats' Plan Imposes 2.5% Tax On Uninsured Individuals.
"The penalty assessed on people who would be subject to the mandate but
did not obtain insurance would equal 2.5 percent of the difference
between their adjusted gross income (modified to include tax-exempt
interest and certain other sources of income) and the tax filing
threshold ..." (Douglas W. Elmendorf, "Preliminary Analysis Of The
Insurance Coverage Specifications Provided By The House Tri-Committee
Group," Letter To Chairman Rangel, 7/17/09) [NB: the link should actually be to this letter]
- What middle-class person in their right mind would refuse employer-provided healthcare? Those people make up almost 80% of the expected insured population and thus won't be penalized for not obtaining coverage.
- Of the 47M uninsured and 25M underinsured today, how many of them are rugged individualists who just never get sick or hurt, never anticipate getting sick or hurt, and if they do they'll take care of themselves with herbal remedies and a bone needle with thread made of silk they gathered from their own silkworms? That's right, roughly none, and the rest will finally get covered since they couldn't afford it before.
- So the very small population that is most likely making more than $250K and decides they can self-insure will get penalized a tiny amount that would not exceed the average premium Americans pay (currently about $11K), most likely offset by their medical care deductions on their itemized tax returns. And that money pays into a system that invests in prevention and wellness (Sec 3121) that benefits all Americans (the rich are not immune to the swine flu their staff will bring through their wrought iron front gate).
Shocking: just more lies from the GOP that should be sent to the Death Panel.
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You know--as does Michael Steel, although I don't expect him to acknowledge it--that the "Levin Group" is a front organization for BigHealthInsurance, right?
so if that's the worst they can come up with, chances are very good that calculations from a truly unbiased (or even, gasp, prejudiced in favor of interests other than BigHealthIns) source would be a great deal more favorable.
But what the hell, I've gotten along without healthcare for 15 years now since the last husband died. Only 9 more and I get Socialized Medicine & My Own Personal Death Panel! Yay! :)
Posted by: Xan | Aug 13, 2009 10:23:07 AM
Absolutely, and their analysis was done for Heritage. The whole report is surprisingly unoffensive and even-keeled, though, so as you say if this is the most damaging stuff they could push, our reality must be very good indeed.
Posted by: NTodd | Aug 13, 2009 10:31:45 AM