With Wednesday’s repeat vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act (yawn) despite its growing public popularity and so closely following the Supreme Court’s decision to largely uphold the law, it is becoming abundantly clear that the real issue here is not constitutionality of the law or any moral objections to its lifesaving provisions. Rather, it is simply a moral objection to the party and president behind the law.
Putting politics over people is nothing new. But progressing beyond the point where it becomes blatantly obvious is a big political risk. Did I mention that all 8 Republican Members of Congress from New York voted on Wednesday in favor of repealing the ACA? The presidential election is now looming just a few months away, so only time will tell how the public will react to this proverbial beating of a dead horse.
In the meantime, why not let our fearless leaders know what we think about them risking our own health and well-being for the sake of saving face in front of party leaders. HCFANY members Citizen Action of NY have put together a nifty petition to make this easy to do. Take a minute right now to sign the petition to New York’s Republican Congressional Delegation, telling them to stop playing games with people’s lives.
Have you seen this? There is a letter circulating from Michele Bachmann and 72 other tea party members of Congress urging all 50 state governors not to establish health insurance Exchanges.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions of course. Basically, the main argument used is that states should not implement health insurance exchanges because it will raise the cost of doing business there.
The letter states that “the law’s employer mandate assesses penalties – up to $3,000 per employee – only to businesses who don’t satisfy federally-approved health insurance standards and whose employees receive ‘premium assistance’ through the exchanges.” That’s their italics on that one, not mine. So, by their reasoning, not implementing an Exchange means that folks who need help buying insurance won’t be able to get premium assistance, which opens up a loophole for large employers not to have to pay the penalty.
I know what you’re thinking: “But won’t consumers still get premium assistance under a federal exchange then?” Yes, of course. But the good Congress-folks brush that off by claiming it violates the language of the ACA (no problems reading that 2,000 page bill these days, but let’s save this one for another day).
This argument really depends on how you look at it and what your priorities are. Technically speaking, only large employers (with more than 50 employees) are subject to any penalties. If they don’t offer insurance at all, and have at least one full-time employee who gets premium assistance on the exchange, then they will have to pay $2,000 per full-time employee per year (excluding the first 30 employees). If they do offer health insurance, but it’s crappy or too expensive and they have at least one full-time employee who gets premium assistance on the exchange, then they will have to pay the lesser of $3,000 per employee who is getting premium assistance, or $2,000 per full-time employee. So, it’s not exactly a bank-breaker for big businesses here. And small businesses actually get tax credits to help them pay for the cost of providing insurance.
But, on a moral level, good grief! Are they saying that a couple of little blips on big business profit margins are worth sacrificing the health and well-being of millions of working families? Really??? Well, if it’s sweatshops the tea party is looking to attract to our states then I suspect they may be fishing in the wrong pond.
Still, it brought to mind a recent article I read in the Onion where the Republican party teamed up with Leukemia (yes, the deadly form of cancer itself) to repeal the health care law. Being the Onion it was of course a silly article. But, after reading this letter, it made me think it may not be such a far cry after all…
The Exchange bill is in New York’s proposed Executive Budget, but there are no guarantees that the State Senate will decide to support New York’s struggling working families and small businesses and pass the bill this time around.
So, us folks on the ground need to ramp up our efforts to get out the word on all of the great things the Exchange will do for our state! To help get this started, HCFANY is hosting two conference calls this week for advocates and organizers. These calls will basically fill folks in on what is happening and why, what needs to happen, and how to get involved.
Calls will take place on:
Tuesday March 6th at 12 PM Noon
Wednesday March 7th at 9:30 AM
If you’re interested (or know someone else who might be), you can register on the link below for one of the two calls (they will both cover the same topics) to get the call-in information sent to you. We hope you will be able to join us!
A few weeks ago I noted that the healthcare stories that make it into the media are always in favor of health reform. But, it turns out I was wrong!
Perhaps someone at the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation read my post, because they have now recently come out with their own series of anti-“Obamacare” consumer stories intended on proving the negative impact that health reform will have on folks. I just took a gander at them and, when you take out the screenshots of numbers and statements that Heritage inserted in each of the videos, you basically have the following:
- An IHOP franchise owner who worries that Obamacare will make IHOP go out of business if it has to offer insurance to all of its employees.
- A senior with Medicare who has had no problem getting the care she needs with Medicare and seems very happy. Her neurologist however, worries if he will be able to afford to keep seeing Medicare patients.
- A small-business owner who worries that Obamacare is sending a message to his kids that they aren’t competent enough to take care of themselves.
- A urologist who talks at length about how terrible Medicaid is and how low Medicare reimbursement rates are, but does not actually comment on Obamacare.
- Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) talking about how Obamacare doesn’t go far enough to reform the current system, and touting his own “Healthy Indiana Program” where he claims that giving poor people Health Savings Accounts instead of enrolling them in managed care plans makes them learn personal wellness and responsiblity and made them smarter, better consumers overall.
Okay, so previously I had said that there are no stories from the other side because there are no compelling stories against health reform. I see now that yes, there are indeed stories. But I wholeheartedly stand by my statement that these are not compelling!!
The two year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act is quickly approaching and plenty of reforms have already happened. Everyday the media is filled with stories around the state and around the country of people who have been helped. Millions more stand to gain once we have health insurance Exchanges. So, it’s really not that surprising that these were the only things they were able to come up with.