As Number Of Insured Americans Decreases, Affordable Care Act Will Provide More Coverage Options - The number of Americans who received health insurance from their employer dropped again in 2011, continuing a three-year decline. According to a Gallup survey, 44.6 percent were insured through their employers in 2011, compared to 45.8 percent in 2010 and 49.2 percent in 2008. And at the same time, the number of Americans without insurance has increased, growing from 14.8 percent in 2008 to 17.1 percent last year.
WHO BENEFITS? - The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes two primary mechanisms for helping people afford health coverage. Starting in 2014, people with family incomes up to 138% of the poverty level ($31,809 for a family of four and $15,415 for a single person in 2012) will generally be eligible for the Medicaid program. […] On average, an estimated 17% of the non-elderly population nationwide would benefit from the Medicaid expansion and tax credits. In parts of Florida, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and California, 36-40% of population could benefit. In areas of Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, and Connecticut – states that generally have high levels of employer-provided health insurance or have already implemented reforms to make insurance more accessible and affordable – 2-4% of the non-elderly could benefit from the coverage expansions in the ACA.
Medicaid waivers pave way for reform - Medicaid waivers aren’t new. Nor were they created by President Barack Obama’s health law. But the waivers, which allow states some flexibility in how they deliver health care to the poor, can help the states prepare for the roughly 16 million people who will be newly eligible for Medicaid in 2014 under ACA. And the health care law did give states the opportunity to expand their Medicaid rolls early. The administration has granted waivers to states that have embraced the law, like California, and those that detest it, like Texas. Both of those states are getting billions, with the caveat that they undertake quality reforms, which happen to coincide with the goals of the ACA. […] Waivers must be “budget neutral,” meaning the state must create savings equal to any new federal spending. But the health care reform law provides states with new incentives and tools to create savings, enabling them to draw down more federal dollars.
Romney will not enroll in Medicare - According toBuzzFeed, Romney, who has advocated for the wealthiest Americans to take lower public insurance benefits, announced through his campaign that he would not be apart of the entitlement program. The former Massachusetts governor and his team haverepeatedly stated inaccurate information on Medicare throughout the course of the campaign, including claiming Medicare is going “bankrupt” and accusing President Obama of cutting benefits for seniors through the Affordable Care Act. Romney wants to raise the Medicare’s eligibility age up from 65 by one month per year and eventually tie the age to life expectancy.
Can such a system work? It’s already working! Massachusetts enacted a very similar reform six years ago — yes, while Mitt Romney was governor. Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who played a key role in developing both the local and the national reforms (and has published an illustrated guide to reform) has surveyed the results — and finds that Romneycare is working pretty much as advertised. The number of people without insurance has dropped sharply, the quality of care hasn’t suffered, and the program’s cost has been very close to initial projections. Oh, and the budgetary cost per newly insured resident of Massachusetts was actually lower than the projected cost per American insured by the Affordable Care Act. Given this evidence, what’s a virulent opponent of reform to do? The answer is, make stuff up. We all know how the act’s proposal that Medicare evaluate medical procedures for effectiveness became, in the fevered imagination of the right, an evil plan to create death panels. And rest assured, this lie will be back in force once the general election campaign is in full swing. For now, however, most of the disinformation involves claims about costs…
This morning begins three days of arguments in the most significant Supreme Court case in decades. The central question: Will the Affordable Care Act stand?
Solicitor General warns of ‘grave’ consequences if Supreme Court overturns health reform – Q:) What is at stake in this hearing? A:) If the Supreme Court struck this down, I think that it wouldn’t just be about health care. It would be the Supreme Court saying: ‘Look, we’ve got the power to really take decisions, move them off of the table of the American people, even in a democracy. And so it could imperil a number of reforms in the New Deal that are designed to help people against big corporations and against, indeed, big governments. The challengers are saying that this law is unconstitutional, which means even if 95 percent of Americans want this law, they can’t have it. And that’s a really profound thing for an unelected court to say. Q:) What are the possible outcomes? A:) The two main outcomes that one can predict — the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate as unconstitutional because it’s unprecedented or it upholds it and says it is part of Congress power over commerce and over taxation. The latter is far more likely because it is such a grave thing for unelected judges to take a decision of such a magnitude for American people. I expect the Supreme Court’s ruling at the end of its current term, June 30. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone else was surprised in this case, and the court didn’t reach a standard 5-to-4 judgment with the five Republican justices — those nominated by Republican presidents on one side, and the four nominated by Democratic presidents on the other.
Tea Party to rally against health care law: “‘We want our freedom back,’ former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain told hundreds of ralliers standing in the rain in Upper Senate Park, a few hundred yards from the steps of the Supreme Court. … The rally largely marks the big return to Washington for the Tea Party, a loose organization of grassroots groups that helped conservative Republicans take over the House in the 2010 wave election.” [Fox News]
Why the ’80/20 rule’ matters – Over the summer, 16 million Americans are going to get some nice checks in the mail from their insurance company, due entirely to the fact that the much-derided health care law is looking out for consumers, not insurers. As the segment explained, folks like getting unexpected money in the mail. When they realize it’s because of Obamacare, maybe the law will start to look a little better in those consumers’ eyes. That checks will hit mailboxes a few months before the election probably doesn’t hurt Obama’s potential benefit, either. It’s also worth keeping in mind these rebate checks will disappear if/when Republicans kill the entirety of the law, replacing it with nothing: “Some House and Senate Republicans are now admitting what’s been obvious from the start: that the Republican vow to ‘repeal and replace’ Obama’s health law has always been a bait-and-switch.” — Steve Benen
Romney Takes Conservative Fire For Top Aide Michael Leavitt’s Support Of Obamacare Exchanges – The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Leavitt “strenuously backed the core piece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law and urged the states to move forward together in adopting health insurance exchanges.” And his stance hasn’t changed: “We believe that the exchanges are the solution to small business insurance market and that’s gotten us sideways with some conservatives,” Leavitt’s top aide Rich McKeown told Politico. “We’re troubled by it,” Dean Clancy, who runs health care advocacy for the Dick Armey-led conservative group FreedomWorks, told TPM Monday via email. “We’re very concerned. The tea party grassroots have always feared that Gov. Romney would be a weak standard bearer because of RomneyCare. This choice only reinforces those doubts. Tapping a high-profile ObamaCare profiteer is disturbing, there’s no way around it. … The tea party has been fighting exchanges in state after state.” – TPM
The Daily Beast: Clinton says that if the Supreme Court decides to invalidate the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act there will be consequences which aren’t being reported:
Changing the health-care delivery system has already produced two years in a row of 4 percent inflation in health-care costs. This is the first time in 50 years that health-care costs have gone up so little. Killing the Affordable Care Act would let inflation loose again.
Some 2.6 million people ages 21 to 26, who now have insurance coverage for the first time because they can be carried under their parents’ policy, would lose it.
$1.3 billion dollars in insurance refunds have already been paid to businesses and individuals because now the law says 85 percent of your premium has to go to health care and not to profits and promotion. (California hasn’t reported yet, but will likely increase that figure to more than $1.5 billion.) Refunds would shrink.
If Republicans succeed in persuading the Supreme Court to repeal the individual mandate, somewhere between 12 million and 16 million Americans will be unable to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions.
“Clinton predicted that if the law is declared unconstitutional, Republicans will suffer a backlash when millions of Americans calculate what they have lost. Before the Affordable Care Act passed, two thirds of all the applications for bankruptcy were because of health-care emergencies, a consequence likely to return if health care inflation again rises precipitously.”
Political Wire: A new AP/GfK poll finds that just a third of Americans back President Obama’s health care law on which the Supreme Court is about to pass judgment, but more than three quarters want Congress and the president to begin work on a new bill if the court strikes down the 2-year-old law.
Bob Cesca writes about a major conflict in perception or messaging (thanks GOP!) over health care reform, since Americans hate Obamacare while loving everything about it. He says, “The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll results about the ACA are embarrassing and incomprehensible.”
Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform even though they strongly support most of its provisions, Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday, with the Supreme Court set to rule within days on whether the law should stand.
“In other words, Americans hate the law, but they love everything in it. While 56 percent of Americans hate the law, while a plurality of 45 percent of Americans will vote for a candidate who wants to repeal the law, a full 82 percent love the law’s “pre-existing conditions” language. 61 percent support the section of the law that allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26. 72 percent support requiring corporations to cover employees. And so forth.”
Cesca goes on to respond to those people who base all their objections to the law on the individual mandate: “You can’t have roads without taxes, and you can’t have affordable healthcare without requiring that everyone be involved. Besides, only a tenth of the population is uninsured anyway, so only a tenth of the population will be subject to the mandate. One out of every 10 citizens will be required to buy health insurance with significant government subsidies to make it affordable — or free, depending on income level. And you know what? Tough noogies. If you have moral objections to buying corporate health insurance, then pay the ridiculously low tax penalty. If you don’t want to pay the tax penalty, there’s no enforcement mechanism in the law, so you’ll get away with it. It’s unethical, but you’re the one who has to sleep at night. The secret is this: the mandate isn’t really a mandate.”
The bottom line is that Americans have been conditioned to dislike “Obamacare,” — and it would seem they’re more than happy to go along with The Program, even if it hurts them personally in the long run.
Buzzfeed’s own McKay Coppins is terribly excited that no matter what the Supreme Court decides with Affordable Care, it’s going to be great news for Mitt Romney (a “win/win” as he titled his piece):
“If the law is overturned, Romney will spend the rest of the election casting Obama as an abject failure — an economic lightweight who wasted his time and energy on a misguided policy initiative, only to see it immediately dismantled by the Courts. The president has other accomplishments to run on, of course — the auto bailout, Dodd-Frank, etc. — but this was by far the most high-profile.”
“If the law is upheld, on the other hand, Romney will continue promising from the stump that, if elected, he’ll be the guy to repeal Obamacare. Polls indicate that a solid majority of Americans say they oppose the Affordable Care Act, though individual aspects of the legislation tend to poll better when separated from the polarizing legislation. Romney will take advantage of the unpopularity of “Obamacare,” as a political term, and continue his crusade to get rid of it.”
Maybe you’re wondering, like I did, who is McKay Coppins, this “reporter” who’s eager to call the president an ‘abject failure‘ through Mitt Romney? Here, I think this explains everything (about both Buzzfeed politics and Coppins).
Think Progress: Thousands of federal firefighters are battling massive wildfires inColorado and Utah. But because most of these firefighters are temporary employees of the Forest Service, they do not receive health benefits under federal regulations. Bill Dougan, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said health insurance is unaffordable for many unless “they have a spouse that might be able to get coverage under an employer. In some places that’s not an option.” The Affordable Care Act, on which the Supreme Court will rule tomorrow, could help them by guaranteeing coverage if they have a pre-existing condition from smoke inhalation and by offering subsidies to help cover insurance premiums. But if the Supreme Court overturns the law, as Wonkblog’s Sarah Kliff writes, “the firefighters stay in the same situation they’ve been in all along: Working a dangerous job and unable to afford coverage.”