Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Health Care Myth - Forced Euthanasia

Did you ever notice how the sides of any issue can stretch the truth and come out with blatant lies? Then, those lies are put into emails and every small minded person passes them on until they suddenly become "truth". People will actually believe the lies without checking them. Part of this, I think, is just laziness on the part of small minded people. They don't feel like doing the research and the email all ready states what they want to believe anyway, so they send it off. Part of this is stupidity, well, it has an important sounding name or whatever, so it must be true, because you can't send anything that isn't true, right?
It is annoying if these untruths only appeared in email, but because you know who your intellectually light friends and relatives are, you can ignore those emails, it isn't so bad. But, then some of these lie spreaders are just your cousin Todd from Buffalo, some of them are allowed to spread their lies on radio shows and TV shows. And, then it is nearly impossible to stop the spread.
Well, today, I'm going to try to stop one of these lies from going any farther.
Former lieutenant governor of New York Betsy McCaughey is going around claiming that the health care bill - H.R. 3200 (this is the bill that is in the House) - is "a vicious assault on elderly people" that will "cut your life short."1 Between her and Palin's lie spreading, it is a wonder that the truth ever gets told.
There is a provision in H.R. 3200 for end of life counseling that would be paid for by medicare.


H.R. 3200, page 425: Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the term ‘advance care planning consultation’ means a consultation between the individual and a practitioner described in paragraph (2) regarding advance care planning, if, subject to paragraph (3), the individual involved has not had such a consultation within the last 5 years. Such consultation shall include the following:

(A) An explanation by the practitioner of advance care planning, including key questions and considerations, important steps, and suggested people to talk to.

(B) An explanation by the practitioner of advance directives, including living wills and durable powers of attorney, and their uses.

(C) An explanation by the practitioner of the role and responsibilities of a health care proxy.

(D) The provision by the practitioner of a list of national and State-specific resources to assist consumers and their families with advance care planning … .

(E) An explanation by the practitioner of the continuum of end-of-life services and supports available, including palliative care and hospice, and benefits for such services and supports that are available under this title.

(F)(i) Subject to clause (ii), an explanation of orders regarding life sustaining treatment or similar orders2



I do not read anything in there that states someone is going to put you down because you are no longer deemed worthy to live, as McCaughey and Palin have been claiming.

I can tell you from personal experience that the end of life decision made for a loved one is the most difficult decision ever made. I hope throughout the rest of my life that I never have to make that decision again. It is heartbreaking and one of those moments on which you look back upon and wonder - Did I do the right thing?

Having said that, I feel strongly that every one should have an end of life directive - if your wish is to be kept alive on machines - it should be followed. If your wish is no heroics, that should be followed as well.

The making / writing / drawing up of these directives should not be taken lightly. I support the health care plan to pay for counseling sessions. In fact, I think if you attend one of these sessions, you should bring along your loved ones. Your wishes should be well known in advance.

When you come to the end of your journey in this life and you sent to the afterlife to, hopefully, be in God's presence, you really have the easy part. Those of us left waiting behind to live another day, to carry out your wishes - whatever they may be - have the hard part. It is easier to lie in the bed and be sick, than to stand beside it and watch a loved one suffer.

That is why end of life counseling is so important. You need to make your wishes known, whatever they may be. You need to assist your family to know what kinds of decisions you want made. It is the least thing any one of us can do for our family members. Cheryl and I have had these conversations of what one of us would want many times. I don't want to make the decision for her anymore than she would want to make the decision for me, but the two of us know what the other one wants.

Allow me to go just slightly off course for a moment. I remember when I was a kid that Republicans didn't want any government interference with anything. Individual rights were king and that was all right by me, but now, the right wing has taken it upon themselves to turn their back on these ideals. It is NOT the business of the government to decide if you live or if you die. It is YOUR choice, but the right wing wants you only to make the decision to live. They want to take away your CHOICE. But, they are claiming to be on YOUR side. It would be a joke, if it wasn't so serious.

Let's stop the craziness. Let us only pass on truth to each other. And, let us get the entire nation covered in health care.

God Bless

1http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/08/13/2009-08-13_former_lt_gov_mccaughey_leads_death_panel_charge_writing_up_talking_points_on_he.html#ixzz0PldQYmhD
2 FactCheck.org - Accessed 8/31/2009

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Strong Like Bull -- And, I have the Numbers to Prove It

Around this time of year, my company conducts a health assessment. We fill out a form -- either online or hardcopy -- allow some travelling nurse to prick our finger and the company pays us $20.00. In a few weeks, we all receive a nice health assessment booklet from our insurance company. This is one of the reasons I believe that health insurance costs need to be shared by companies. My company, I'm sure, receives some sort of discount on their premimums by having their employees take the assessment. This is a good thing.

I support taking the test, even though on a yearly basis, since I turned 35 my doctor has been running the very same lap tests on me. Here's why: First, I like saving my company money -- no really. I'm serious. A company that can save money on health care costs can put more money in my pocket -- or at least in theory. Second, I know there's a lot of people in my company who probably don't visit the doctor on a regular basis and don't get regular checkups. This way, they have the numbers. The nurses explain what all of the numbers mean and, hopefully, co-workers with bad numbers can follow up with their doctors and head off serious issues. Finally, I happen to like the little booklet. I do. I keep last year's booklet and the new booklet will have the previous years' results and I can compare just how healthy I'm getting.

So, now for the numbers. If you know me, then you know I'm a big gal. And, being big doesn't bother me, except when someone assumes because I'm big, I'm somehow destroying the earth with my largeness. And, being big and beautiful -- as I am -- doesn't mean I'm not healthy.

My blood pressure was a little high today: 125/75. That's still normal, but my bp had been going down to the low 120's. I should note, that's the blood pressure I had when I was 21 and wearing a size 16.

My total cholesterol was 177 -- not as good as it has been, but still under that bad number of 200.

My HDL is 47 -- I've had it as high as 50, so it's lower than it's been, but still above 40 -- like it needs to be.

My LDL was slightly elevated at 112. I'll have to work on that.

Now, for the drum roll, my Triglycerides is 91 -- WAY BELOW the borderline high level. YES!

My glucose was 106 -- slightly high, but I had forgotten about the test and drank some apple juice before coming into work, so it wasn't a true fasting test.

So, I'm a big gal and I know I have friends and family that worry about my health. But, my heart test proved negative -- negative for issues, I do have one! My numbers are all where they are supposed to be, so it looks like -- if I keep this up -- I'll be around to see my grandchildren's children.

Hmmm, guess my step-children won't be happy. I won't die early enough to leave them any money. LOL!

God Bless

Oh, and keeping with my daily promise -- down with Van Hollen. He shouldn't be Wisconsin's Attorney General and I'm healthy enough to see him voted out of office. :-)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Healthcare Plan

Let me come clean and tell you which plan was written by whom:
Plan A is the House Democratic Bill. Plan B is the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's Bill. Plan C is a plan under discussion by a bipartisan group of six senators on the Finance Committee. Plan D is the House Republican proposal. All of these can be found here: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090813/NEWS/90813006/-1/NEWS04 It is the news site where I found them.
Now, I try to stay positive about all of the plans, but I have to say I'm highly disappointed in Plan D – the House Republican proposal. It pretty much leaves things as they are and that bothers me. I know Republicans don't want a government run plan. I know Republicans think that government interference is a bad thing and I can understand that. But, what I can't understand is how they can just continue to ignore the fact that the system is broken. 47 million American citizens have no health insurance. That is 13% of the population. It is a high enough number to swing an election. On top of that, those 47 million Americans leave the rest of us paying a much higher price. Hospitals, when they provide care and aren't reimbursed, have to make up the money loss somewhere and that means charging more for the care those of us who are insured receive. Which means the insurance companies pay more and the premiums go up and so on and so on. We all suffer.
Now, I'm not saying I'm extremely happy with any one of the four plans, but I think combining them might not be a bad idea.
First, the who is covered: the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill aims to cover 97% of Americans, as does the bipartisan, Finance Committee's plan. This is very important. The whole point is to get as many people covered as possible.
Second, the cost: I think the Senate plan at being only $650 million over ten years and covering 97% of the people is a little unrealistic. I think the $1 trillion mark sounds about right. This doesn't mean I think we should spend that much, but that it is a reasonable to believe the healthcare plan will cost that much over ten years.
Third, how's it paid for: Let's face it, a plan with this much coverage is going to cost us some dough. The Republican plan, which didn't even offer a proposed cost, states no new taxes. Boy, that sounds good. The plan implies that by reducing Medicare and Medicaid fraud, the plan would be paid for. Unfortunately, I don't have the numbers for the amount of money lost due to Medicare and Medicaid fraud, but I'm thinking it probably isn't enough to pay for any plan. Now, I would be interested in hearing or reading someone's idea on how it could. I wrote Paul Ryan regarding his plan and I still don't have an answer. (Which I'm very disappointed, he is usually right on the ball.)
I think a combination of all four plans might be the answer to how to pay for this. Raising taxes on singles who earn more than $280,000 a year seems reasonable to me. Most of the people I know don't come anywhere near that figure. Raising taxes on families that earn more than $350,000 isn't a bad idea either. The highest tax bracket in this country is 33%. We jump from 15% to 25%, but after 25%, the jumps are much smaller. Trust me, a single person earning $280,000 a year will be able to afford a two percent tax raise. I'm also for raising the taxes on other items, such as cigarettes or liquor, but I think I'm alone in that regard.
I'm not for cutting Medicare nor am I for cutting Medicaid. No cuts. The elderly have enough problems. No cuts, but rooting out fraud -- that's a good idea.
Further – charging companies a portion of the insurance costs the government pays is a terrific idea. I think that it is only fair. Companies benefit from their workers' hard work. More and more companies are expecting more from their employees – especially salary employees – without offering raises. Being penalize if they allow employees and employees' children to be on a government program is a good thing. Penalizing companies such as, oh, I don't know, Wal-Mart, could help pay a great deal toward the program.
I think the combination of rooting out Medicare and Medicaid fraud, a small tax raise on the wealthy and penalizing large companies for not providing affordable health insurance should be able to pay for the plan. I think not purchasing the F-22 from Lockheed, which has cost us the taxpayers over $351 million in overruns is an example of government waste we could cut and use to help pay for the plan.i
Fourth, the mandates: I know the government mandates a lot of different things and that's not always a good thing, but the only way any healthcare plan will work is if we all have insurance. The healthcare costs of those people who are uninsured are staggering. This is not to say that we all have to have fancy group coverage. The bare minimum should be catastrophe insurance, along with a pre-taxed Health Savings Plan. I know that some people say, well, rich people don't need health insurance, so they shouldn't be forced to carry it, but even a rich person could have their entire wealth wiped out by the cost of cancer treatments.
To support my argument further, let's consider this: everyone of us who has care insurance has coverage that includes uninsured and under-insured motorists. And, why do we do that? So, we can still be protected if someone that doesn't have insurance slams into our car. Hospitals will need the same protection. There are some people out there who can cover $3200 out of pocket expense for a cardio-test, but I'm not one of them. Had I had to pay for the test myself, I'd still be making payments. And, the hospital would still be waiting for their money, which is one of the reasons hospitals have to charge so much. If everyone is covered by health insurance, hospitals wouldn't to write off unpaid bills, thus reducing their overhead. Of course, I'm notoriously cheap and I probably wouldn't get the test. I would be the type of person who would take chances with her healthcare. In interest of full disclosure, in this case, I would be okay without the test. My heart is strong, like bull.
Fifth, how to choose the health insurance plan. I like the exchange idea, but I was just reading an articleii that in Massachusetts the exchange isn't working. That being noted, I think if the Massachusetts plan isn't working, we use it to take what does work and throw away what doesn't. I, also, like the idea that the exchange is state run, with Federal standards. Each state should know what its citizens need and is better prepared to make changes for what doesn't work more quickly than the Feds.
Sixth, for the benefits, I like the Democratic plan, so I just copied it verbatim: “A committee would recommend an "essential benefits package" including preventive services, mental health services, oral heath and vision for children; out-of pocket costs would be capped. The new benefit package would be the basic benefit package offered in the exchange and over time would become the minimum quality standard for employer plans. Insurers wouldn't be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.”iii
Finally, the government run plan, I like the idea of a government run plan to a point that competes with private insurers. I think private insurers deserve a little unfair competition. However; I think it should be limited to cover those who don't qualify for any other plan or subsidy. Let's not create a huge fiasco here. Also, I like the part in the Senate where the plan would “would pay doctors and hospitals based on what private insurers now pay.”iv
Okay, that's it. That's my plan in a nutshell. I think it works better and is better for all of us than the four plans.
This is a pretty long blog post, but I wanted to include as much as I could. I'm posting this as a PDF, as well, so you can print it out and share it. If you like my idea, please feel free to post it on your own blog – as long as you link back to mine. Further, send it to your representative and say you support it. I'm sending it to mine. We need to improve healthcare in this country, but none of those four plans mentioned are going to cut it. If you don't like what I've outlined, I'd love to hear why and I encourage you to come up with your own plan. I, also, encourage you to make sure you write your representative. Healthcare is too important to leave up to the politicians and lobbyists.
God Bless
iMother Jones September / October 2009, page 41
iihttp://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/08/obamas-insurance-plan-comes-right-wing-think-tank
iiihttp://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090813/NEWS/90813006/-1/NEWS04
ivibid

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I am Blessed...

This morning in my email there was a notice that a subscriber to my blog has unsubscribed. This is always a sad thing for a blogger to lose a reader. Broke my heart a little to thing that someone in this big old world doesn't think I'm worth reading anymore. But, then I saw the reason, which was Content no longer relevant and I had to chuckle a little. The reader's email ended in au, which I think stands for Australia and considering all I've been writing about lately has been the health care debate in America, I can see his or her point.

Anyway, this set to me thinking about health care. I've seen some articles and comments on blogs where people are complaining about the protesters outside of the townhall meetings held by various members of the government and I think they're dead wrong. It's okay to protest. It's okay to disagree with our government. It's okay to disagree with each other. The very thought of making changes to our health care system scares the hell out of a lot of people. I don't blame them -- it scares the hell out of me, too. I can understand how someone doesn't want the status quo to change -- especially if they have company provided health care. There's a part of me that doesn't want change. It's a "I've got mine, the hell with you" attitude. And, I can understand it, because I feel that way, too. I have to be honest here. I don't want my health insurance benefits taxed. I don't think that's fair. I've come too far to have to pay taxes on something I've earned.
And, that has led me to thing about this...
In 1994, I earned - roughly - $16,000. I didn't have health care. I didn't see doctors for routine medical care. I was involved in a car accident that year where I hurt my back and bruised a kidney. It wasn't my fault. The other driver turned left in front of me and although I tried to avoid her, first by changing lanes when I thought she had stopped turning and then by slamming on my brakes, I slammed into the side of her Ford Escort in my Dodge Dakota Truck at 30 miles an hour. Up to that point in my life, it was the scariest thing to ever happen to me while I was behind the wheel of my truck.
I had no health care insurance. I supported myself and, despite doctor's orders to the contrary, I returned to work the following day. I didn't sue her and, since I felt I had to take care of myself and no one could help, I didn't even ride to the hospital in an ambulance -- like I should've. If my insurance agent, a man named Marty, hadn't told me I was covered, I wouldn't have gone to the hospital at all. I had so little money back then, I couldn't afford to fill the pain prescription I was given. Good thing I have a high tolerance for pain.
Now, I don't tell you all of this to have you feel sorry for me, because you shouldn't. My kidney healed and my back is strong. My truck managed to run for another seven years until the engine blew and it is fifteen years later and I make almost four times as much as I did that year. And, I have health insurance. If that same accident happened again today, I would ride to the hospital in an ambulance and, more importantly, I would listen to my doctor. I have disability insurance, both personal and via work, so I wouldn't worry about not being able to pay my bills.
And -- this is important -- I feel lucky. That's right, lucky. I've put in years of hard work and study to become the person I am today. I worked full time and went to school part time. I busted my butt to graduate and I work hard at my profession to be the best I can be. And, I'm lucky. I'm lucky because when it was too hard and I wanted to quit, Cheryl would drag me kicking and screaming to my homework. And, she did all the housework, so I could study. (Truth be told, she still does most of the housework.) And, when I would cry at night that this was just too hard and I wasn't smart enough or good enough to see it through, she would hold me and tell me I was. She was a big pain in my ass when I needed a swift kick to my ass and she was a soft shoulder on which to cry when I just needed a place to fall. And, I couldn't have gone from the living over a bar from paycheck to paycheck to owning a home and installing new kitchen and bathroom floors if I hadn't had her pushing me.
And, I know that I am blessed.
And, then I think, there's a lot of 28 year olds out there who don't have a Cheryl in their lives. For that matter, there are a lot of people who don't have anyone pushing and fighting for them. They just go to work and do the best they can do and they are who I used to be. They have just enough to get by and they can't see past next week, because they can't afford to dream. They clean our waste baskets, they ring us out at the grocery store, they wash our car and they bring us our dinner whenever we eat out. They're the 47 million Americans who can't afford health insurance. And, then I think how lucky I am that I never caught a disease I couldn't pay for. Never needed medicine where I would have to make a choice between the medicine or eating. (Once, when I was uninsured, my asthma medicine cost $75.00 for a one month supply. That was nearly a quarter of one of my paychecks and a huge chunk of take home pay. If I hadn't had Cheryl, I might've forgone the medicine.)
And, I think about those people and how lucky I am I'm not one of them - for by the Grace of God go I - and I realize, we do need to make some changes and we're all going to have to sacrifice a little for the good of everyone.
God Bess

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Healthcare Plan D

Here's the second summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

WHO'S COVERED: The House GOP's plan, in outline form for now, says it aims to make insurance affordable and accessible to all. There aren't estimates about how many additional people would be covered.

COST: Unknown.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: No new taxes are proposed, but Republicans say they want to reduce Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: No mandates.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: No mandates; small business tax credits are offered. Employers are encouraged to move to "opt-out" rather than "opt-in" rules for offering health coverage.

SUBSIDIES: Tax credits are offered to "low- and modest-income" Americans. People who aren't covered through their employers but buy their own insurance are allowed to take a tax deduction. Low-income retirees younger than 65 (the eligibility age for Medicare) would be offered assistance.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: Insurers would have to allow children to stay on their parents' plan through age 25.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: No public plan.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: No new purchasing exchange or marketplace is proposed. Health savings accounts and flexible spending plans would be strengthened.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: People eligible for Medicaid would be allowed to use the value of their benefit to purchase a private plan.

Labels: , , ,

Healthcare Plan C

Here's the third summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

WHO'S COVERED: Around 97 percent of Americans. Illegal immigrants would not receive coverage.

COST: Around $1 trillion over 10 years.

HOW'S IT PAID FOR: Possible sources include cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; a tax as high as 35 percent on very high cost health insurance policies; a requirement for employers to pay into the Treasury for their employees who get their insurance through public programs or receive government subsidies to help pay premiums. Looking to raise $90 billion by taxing health insurance companies as much as 35 percent on policies valued at $25,000 or more.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Expected to include a requirement for individuals to get coverage.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: In lieu of requiring employers to provide coverage, lawmakers are considering a "free rider" penalty based on how much the government ends up paying for workers' coverage.

SUBSIDIES: No higher than 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four).

BENEFIT PACKAGE: The government doesn't mandate benefits but sets four benefit categories — ranging from coverage of around 65 percent of medical costs to about 90 percent — and insurers would be required to offer coverage in at least two categories. No denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: Unlike the other proposals the Finance Committee's will likely be bipartisan. With Republicans opposed to a government-run plan, the committee is looking at a compromise that would instead create nonprofit member-owned co-ops to compete with private insurers.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: State-based exchanges.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: Everyone at 100 percent of poverty would be eligible. Between 100 and 133 percent, states or individuals have the choice between coverage under Medicaid or a 100 percent subsidy in the exchange. The expansion would be delayed until 2013, a late change to save money — the start date had been 2011.

Labels: , , ,

Healthcare Plan B

Here's the second summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

WHO'S COVERED: Aims to cover 97 percent of Americans.

COST: About $615 billion over 10 years, but it's only one piece of a larger Senate bill.

HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Another panel — the Senate Finance Committee — is responsible for figuring out how to cover costs.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals will have to have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers.

REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers who don't offer coverage will pay a penalty of $750 a year for each full-time worker. Businesses with 25 or fewer workers are exempt.

SUBSIDIES: Available up to 400 percent poverty level, or $88,000 for a family of four.

BENEFITS PACKAGE: Health plans must offer a package of essential benefits recommended by a new Medical Advisory Council. No denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A robust new public plan to compete with private insurers. The plan would be run by the government but would pay doctors and hospitals based on what private insurers now pay.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Individuals and small businesses could purchase insurance through state-based purchasing pools called American Health Benefit Gateways.

OTHER PROVISIONS: Creates a new voluntary insurance program that would provide a modest daily cash benefit to help disabled people stay in their own homes instead of going into nursing homes.

Labels: , , ,

Healthcare Plan A

Here's the first summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn't find it.

Plan A

WHO'S COVERED: Around 94 percent of non-elderly residents (those not covered by Medicare, which kicks in at age 65) would be covered — compared with 81 percent today. Nearly half the 17 million non-elderly residents who remain uninsured would be illegal immigrants.

COST: About $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Revenue-raisers include $544 billion over the next decade from new income taxes on single people making more than $280,000 a year and couples making more than $350,000; $37 billion in business tax increases; about $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; sizable penalties paid by individuals and employers who don't obtain coverage.

REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals must have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers. The penalty is 2.5 percent of income.
REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Companies with payroll under $250,000 annually are exempt. That level could rise to $500,000 under a deal between House leaders and fiscal conservatives.

Employers could apply for a two-year exemption from the mandate if they can prove the requirements would result in job losses that would negatively affect their communities.

SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) would get sliding-scale subsidies to help them buy coverage. The subsidies would begin in 2013.

HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Through a new Health Insurance Exchange open to individuals and, initially, small employers; it could be expanded to large employers over time. States could opt to operate their own exchanges in place of the national exchange if they follow federal rules.

BENEFIT PACKAGE: A committee would recommend an "essential benefits package" including preventive services, mental health services, oral heath and vision for children; out-of pocket costs would be capped. The new benefit package would be the basic benefit package offered in the exchange and over time would become the minimum quality standard for employer plans. Insurers wouldn't be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A new public plan available through the insurance exchanges would be set up and run by the secretary of Health and Human Services. Democrats originally designed the plan to pay Medicare rates plus 5 percent to doctors, but under Wednesday's deal with the fiscal conservatives the HHS secretary would instead negotiate rates with providers.

CHANGES TO MEDICAID: The federal-state insurance program for the poor would be expanded starting in 2013 to cover all non-elderly individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,404).

DRUGS: Grants 12 years of market protection to high-tech drugs used to combat cancer, Parkinson's and other deadly diseases.

I want to hear what you think.

God Bless

Labels: , , ,

Four Healthcare Plans...

Good morning, Gentle Readers,

Here's what I'm going to be doing today...

I will use the information I found from the Associated Press to Outline the four different plans. The only change I'm going to make is to change their names to A, B, C, D. There's no reason to choose a plan because the Democrats created it or to reject a plan because it is created by Republicans. What I want is for everyone who reads the plans, to comment on the one they like or comment on the ones you don't like. And, don't just say, that sucks. Be specific. I'd like to know which healthcare plan really resonants with my readers.

God Bless

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Healthcare Email From the White House...

I received an email from David Axelrod Senior Adviser to President Obama. He included 8 facts about the President's Healthcare Plan, as well as 8 myths. I am copying these 16 points, without any comment, into this blog. I want you to come to your own conclusions.

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage
1. Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
2. Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
3. Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
4. Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
5. Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
6. Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
7. Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
8. Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.


8 common myths about health insurance reform

1. Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
2. We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
3. Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
4. Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
5. Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
6. Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
7. You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
8. No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.


Okay, come to your own conclusions. Watch this space tomorrow. I'm posting summaries of the four plans. I found them at the Associated Press. Read them all and come to your own conclusions. Before the end of the weekend, I'll post my opinions.

God Bless

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Healthcare - Stop Now

    I know I'm about to sound like a raving, right-wing lunatic, but we have to stop Congress from making any changes to healthcare and we have to stop them right now. They have lost their collective minds. I was just reading in this week's Business Week how happy insurance companies are. They're going to come out winners, especially if there is no public option to the plan. According to the article, there are limits as to what the insurance companies will have to cover to take on 47 million new customers. And, since health insurance is going to be manatory, that's 47 million new paying customers who will have insurance policies that aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

    So, let's not rush into a bad marriage with the insurance companies. We don't need their fly-by-night plans with low coverage. We all ready have that -- the 47 million Americans have access to healthcare, just not health insurance. Any plan before Congress that doesn't make American Businesses a partner in this is not a plan this country needs.

    While I'm speaking of businesses, think about it -- Wal-Mart is supporting a government plan. Wonder why? Because it let's them off the hook for responsibility.

    Oh and according to the article the idea of taxing white collar workers' benefits is back -- again. I really resent that, because my dad has been a blue collar worker all his life and he made a lot more money than some white collar workers I know, including me.

    We need Congress to come up with something better. We don't need 1000 pages of crap. We have enough of that all ready.

    One last thing, what makes me truly different from a real raving, right-wing lunatic is I have a plan and I've written about it.

    God Bless

    Labels: , , , ,

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    Palin on Healthcare Reform...

    Now, I'm not sure on how much of the Obama Healthcare plan I actually support. I am not even sure the government is on the right track on how to fix healthcare, but at least I'm not spouting lies on my Facebook page about it.

    According to
    CNN, Sarah Palin posted the following on her facebook page: "And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" she wrote. "The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

    But, what about the system we have right now, where 47million Americans have no access or cannot afford health insurance? Many of those 47 million Americans probably couldn't afford the proper care for a Down Syndrome baby. Some, when faced with that decision, might have aborted the child rather than have him. Which leads to the same euthanasia former Governor Palin claims the Obama Healthcare plan will cause.


    Admittedly, I don't know a lot about the great state of Alaska, but if they have a great healthcare system that was supported by former Governor Sarah Palin, I'd like to hear about it. Otherwise, just shut up. Attacking a system on grounds that outrageous and unsupportive is just crazy. If you can't offer constructive critism, then shut up. But, unfortunately, the Republican Party and their loonies -- such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck -- haven't offered a constructive thought in more than twenty years.

    So, is it me or have all the intelligent Republicans just given up? I know they're out there. Those Republicans who admire Theodore Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln, where have those guys gone? Richard Nixon was a President who did a great deal for this country (yeah, but only if you exclude Watergate). The man was intelligent, but not this band of so-called Conservatives. They talk about energizing their base, but their base -- white, lower middle class or even poor, right wing, uneducated Christians -- is a shrinking group and if they continue this pandering, they're truly not going to be a great party. Someday, I'll be telling my grandsons about what a Republican was.

    At least, the history books will have pictures of Roosevelt and Lincoln.

    God Bless

    Labels: , , ,

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Congressman Ryan's Healthcare Idea

    Congressman Ryan sent out a flyer regarding his healthcare plan. He wants to give everyone a $5700 tax credit -- not a deduction, you receive this credit whether you paid money in or not -- to everyone in order to buy healthcare. The tax credit works out to $475.00 per month, which sounds like a lot of money for health insurance, until you realize that group plans can cost that much and trying to buy insurance as an individual is very expensive.
    There are some questions I want answered and I'm sending an email to him to get them:
    • From where are Americans supposed to buy this insurance? Are we going to be able to get the kind of coverage we currently have with our employers and at the group rate?
    • From where is the government going to get the money for the tax credit? I pay for my employer insurance pre-tax, so I am not paying taxes on my health insurance. My pre-tax premium is way less than the $5700 tax credit and $5700 will practically wipe out my tax obligation and the tax obligation for a lot of Americans, so where is the government going to get the extra money?
    • Will I have to prove that I purchased healthcare insurance or put the money into a health savings account in order to collect? How can we be certain that people use the credit for that which it was intended? If there are no guarantees in place, we could end up spending a lot of government money without covering a significant portion of Americans.
    • What will this do to company policies? Won't this encourage companies to just dump their healthcare plans and let individuals do it on their own?
    • Who is going to educate those who don't understand anything about insurance? I have a college degree and insurance policies confuse me. Who is going to make sure the American public is well informed?
    • Won't this just encourage fly by night insurance companies? How can we be sure people won't be scammed into policies that really aren't worth the paper their printed on?
    It is something to think about. Contact your Congressman to find out more information.
    God Bless

    Labels: , , ,

    Sunday, July 05, 2009

    Healthcare - The numbers

    I know I've been droning on and on and on about Healthcare, but the reforms that are about to pass the House and Senate are really scaring me. First, the news always reports that there are 45 million Americans without healthcare or health insurance. Anyone know from where this number comes?
    Now, yesterday, I read a blog (and I'm sorry I don't remember which one) that disputed this by making a blanket statement that 20 million of those Americans are either college students or people making over $75,000 a year who choose not to take healthcare. Anyone know from where that number comes? Anybody? Because I remember when my daughter was in college that she was still on Cheryl's insurance. So, I think most students would remain on their parents' policies. Anyone know of a recent college student who wasn't covered on their parents' policies?
    Does anyone know of someone who makes $75,000 a year who opts not to have health insurance? I don't, but I'm sure there's someone out there who does.
    Over the next few days and, perhaps, weeks, I'm going to try to track down these numbers and pass them on. Healthcare in America is way too important to just make a rash decision on.
    God Bless

    Labels: ,

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Open Letter to President Obama

    Dear President Obama;
    I've sent comments to you on healthcare, but the box only takes 500 characters and I am much more long winded than that. Also, I haven't received any response. But, I'm not writing this to complain, but to help people take notice.
    First and foremost, we shouldn't rush any of this. Theodore Roosevelt wanted national healthcare at the beginning of the last century and we've lived this long without it. Let's take our time. I know there's a feeling of urgency what with the economy trying to climb out of the toliet and the American public supporting you by 65%, but let's not make hasty decisions.
    Second, any plan that adds yet another tax onto the backs of the middle class is not a plan worthy of mention. Those of us in the middle class pay enough taxes as it is. Right now, between Federal and State taxes, Social Security and Medicare, 1/3 of my paycheck is gone and I haven't even walked out of the building. Let's find the money some other way. (I'm for stopping farm substidies to large corporations and weekend farmers. The substidies weren't supposed to be paid out for more than five years when they started. It's just ridiculous that people like Sam Donaldson gets farm substidies, but I digress.) I'm pretty sure that at some point in the next few years, our taxes are going to have to go up, but let's not tax one of the few benefits we enjoy.
    Now, having said # 2, let me mention #3: Let's give HUGE tax breaks to companies that cover at least 75% of an employee's healthcare and even bigger tax breaks to companies that cover 90%. Let's not make them pay taxes on any money spent on healthcare for employees' dependents. A lot of the uninsured are children and by giving employers the push to do the right thing, we might be able to knock more than half of the uninsured off the list.
    Four, and this is big, let's not have national healthcare, but a national standard. And, here's why; we don't want to give companies a break on taxes and then have them use some shoddy fly by night insurance company that doesn't cover the basics. A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure, after all. We need wellness visits and mammograms, etc. to be covered. And, the standards set must be followed whether the company is self-insured or not. I spoke with a company representative where I work and she insisted that they didn't have to follow the minimums set by Illinois because they were self-insured. I couldn't find an answer on whether or not she was lying, so let's just get that part out of the way. If you follow at least the minimums, you get the tax break, if not, you don't. He who pays the band gets to pick the music, so companies shouldn't expect breaks, if they don't want to have the minimums.
    Finally, whatever healthcare plan we pick or whatever minimums we set; Congress should be set at the same standard. If they had to live with our healthcare, the healthcare system wouldn't be broken.
    I hope you see this, President Obama.
    God Bless
    A Concerned Citizen

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Taxing Healthcare Benefits

    Okay, if you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that one of the three reasons I didn't vote for McCain was that he wanted to put a tax on my healthcare benefits. Yesterday, a co-worker of mine mentioned that he hoped I was happy now that Obama was going to start taxing healthcare benefits. I was more than a little stunned, especially since 1/3 of my reasons for voting for Obama was that he was against this idea. So, this morning, I have set out on a mission to see if I can find the justification for my co-worker's remark. I have found one article, but then my router went down and I discovered that my archives weren't working, so I haven't finished reading the article, but trust me, I will get to the bottom of this and I will be calling Feingold, Kohl and Ryan to let them know the taxing of healthcare benefits is wrong.
    One quick thought before I'm off:
    The
    article I'm reading states "The wealthy enjoy the biggest boon from the policy, with their better jobs and richer perks. Still, Obama and many lawmakers are reluctant to embrace a tax." Well, I don't think I would be considered among the wealthy of the country, so there might be hope. I wouldn't be opposed to paying taxes on the healthcare if, say, they had to earn a certain amount, like $100,000 for a single person and $200,000 for a married person -- that, my dear friends, would leave most of us out of it.
    Anyway, I would like to formulate a better thought on this, but I want to do my research -- just like I did when McCain first proposed this idea.
    Oh, I almost forgot, according to my co-worker, this taxing of healthcare is Hillary's idea and it was part of the "deal" she made with Obama last year. Where is that coming from? Anyone know?
    God Bless

    Labels: , , , , , , ,

    Tuesday, March 03, 2009

    Health Insurance

    If you've been paying attention, I just had knee surgery. (I'm doing fine, thanks for asking.) After being off work for a little more than two weeks, I went back yesterday -- much to the surprise of my boss and co-workers who all thought I'd be back today. Yesterday, I received my explanation of benefits on how much the surgery cost and how much the insurance company will pay.
    The doctor billed over $3200. The insurance company disallowed roughly $2200, leaving $1000. Since I had all ready made my deductible of $650 this year, my insurance company is going to pay 90%, leaving me a bill of $100.
    Now, a lot of people say we don't need everyone covered by health insurance because I could just save that $1000 and put it in a pre-tax account and pay it out of my own pocket. But, here's the thing, if I didn't have insurance, I would've paid the full $3200 - not the negotiated $1000.
    So, what we really need in this country is not so much health insurance, but a way that if you're not insured, you can still get this negotiated price. We need it for everything. Then, I'd sign on that we don't need health insurance.
    But, I don't think the government is that good to do the negotiating and if we use a private company to do it for us, we're just going to end up right where we are now.
    Anyone got any good suggestions?

    God Bless

    Labels: , , , ,