Saturday, December 19, 2009

AP Tries to Sell Congressional Health Care Plan: Fails Miserably

This is going to be a lengthy post, but what else do you have to do on a Saturday while you are waiting for the arrival of Jolly Ole St. Nick.

AP has an article today and in it they use five examples of Americans and how the proposed health care package, which nobody has seen and nobody knows what is in it or not, may benefit them. They are touching stories that tug at your heart strings and attempt to make the case that nationalized health insurance will be the answer to all of your problems. I decided to read the cases and see just how great and glorious the AP thinks this legislation will be.

First case
Age: 28

Employment: Student, working part time, receiving unemployment benefits.

Household income: about $15,000.

Coverage: Insured, but struggling to afford it.

Solution: The health care overhaul taking shape in Congress would require her to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. She could pick a plan offered through new state-based insurance exchanges and she would qualify for a subsidy to help pay her premiums because she makes less than 400 percent of the poverty level ($43,320 for an individual in 2009). But all those benefits wouldn't kick in until 2013 in the House bill (2014 in the Senate legislation). Because of her medical problem, she may be able to qualify for coverage during the transition period by going through high-risk insurance pools called for in the legislation.
That's right, honey. Hang in there until 2013 or 2014, help is on the way. The simpler solution of course is to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines. No taxpayer dollars involved. So no immediate help for this individual is available.

Second case:
Age: 60

Employment: Consultant to nonprofit groups.

Household income: $55,000, including wife's earnings.

Coverage: Uninsured since COBRA expired in May. He has been turned away by insurance companies because of pre-existing medical conditions he has.

Solution: The Medicare buy-in proposal considered in the Senate could have helped Nishimura get insurance, as would portions of both the House and Senate bills that would ban denials for pre-existing conditions. But opposition from moderates and a few liberals is forcing Senate Democratic leaders to scrap the idea of a buy-in to get a bill completed.
The simple solution is to eliminate the pre-existing conditions clause. This is somewhat of a red herring, by the way, since under current law if you are covered by medical insurance and you lose your coverage because of losing work you must be allowed to purchase another insurance policy regardless of pre-existing conditions, provided you had coverage in the previous 12 months. But once again simply doing away with the restrictions on pre-existing conditions wouldn't cost the taxpayers a thing; however, it would probably raise everyone's premiums as the insurance companies take on these people.

Case three:
Age: 47

Employment: Owner of BrownPartners, an advertising and marketing agency. Seven employees. $336,000 in annual wages paid.

Household income: $150,000, including wife's earnings.

Coverage: Provides health, dental and vision coverage to employees.

Solution: Both bills provide tax credits to help small companies with average wages of less than $40,000 provide health insurance. But pay levels in Brown's agency are above that cutoff.
So, sorry, this bill does nothing for you. Of course you could cut the salaries of your employees to get assistance. Try that and let me know how it works.

Case four:
Age: 58

Employment: vendor, Real Change street newspaper.

Household income: $12,000, including tips.

Coverage: Uninsured.

Problem: Hansen used to work selling beer and peanuts at Seattle's now-demolished Kingdome. "Age caught up to me, running up and down the stairs, the physical labor," said the 58-year-old Seattle native.

Hansen has been homeless since 1994. A top-selling vendor of a weekly newspaper called Real Change, he makes about $1,000 a month. He eats his evening meal and finds a bed at a Catholic Community Services shelter.

Solution: In the leading Senate proposal, people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,404 for an individual in 2009) could enroll in Medicaid. The House bill makes the cutoff 150 percent of the poverty level ($16,245 for an individual in 2009).
First, let's start with person in question. He has been homeless since 1994 when he lost his job selling beer at the Kingdome. You mean to tell me that in 15 years this man has been unable to find any sort of meaningful employment? That's your first problem. Second off, once again this proposal wouldn't take effect until 2013 or 2014, and lastly, somebody needs to check into what kind of welfare state they have in Washington that allows what appears to be an otherwise able-bodied individual to live off of the taxpayer teats for so long. His story is a prime example of somebody who has learned it is easier to be a sponge then a productive citizen, and now that he needs something he is once again turning to the producers in this country to continue his slovenly lifestyle. Work is for chumps appears to be his motto.

Last case:
Age: 68

Employment: Retired payroll coordinator

Household income: About $39,000 from Social Security and some earnings by husband as mattress salesman.

Coverage: Medicare Advantage policy administered by AvMed Health Plan

Problem: Congressional legislation is designed to do away with the Medicare Advantage plans.

Solution: McKenna and her husband, Morty, who turns 78 on Sunday, are in private Medicare Advantage plans, which many Democrats have called wasteful and which have been made a prime target for major cuts. But Morty McKenna also falls in the coverage gap in Medicare's prescription drug program — the "doughnut hole" — that the health bills have promised to close. More than 3 million Medicare beneficiaries a year hit this gap and start paying the full cost of their drugs until they qualify for catastrophic coverage.
Well, actually, the Democrats don't have a solution for you. In fact, they plan on punishing you. Sorry, you are over the age of 65, here is your wonderful parting gift.

So in the five cases cited by the AP two of them can be addressed by simple legislation that would be at no additional cost to the taxpayers and does not require a government-administrated health care plan. One is an example of a case that is covered by current law, but one which is not widely known in regards to pre-existing conditions and continuing insurance coverage. One is an example of somebody who has gamed the system for 15 years and wants yet more freebies from the government and the last in which the people would actually be punished.

None of the Congressional answers offer any immediate relief.

Gee, AP, I think you just made the argument for the Republicans.

Sorry AARP.

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