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The House Votes on Health Care Repeal Today

category_bug_politics.gif The vote on Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act, HR 2 (full text here) takes place in the House of Representatives today.

According to most pundits and some members of the House themselves, the bill will fail. Even if it succeeds in the House, they say, the Senate will defeat it and if somehow it squeaks through the upper chamber, President Barack Obama will veto it.

I have no reason to doubt this is so and I'm not going to ask you to email or call your Congress person because I'll be doing a lot of that in the future and it wouldn't affect the vote of most Republicans and those 80-odd, newly-elected tea partiers. Hating Obamacare is a bedrock belief of theirs even if they know the vote is only symbolic. This time.

Instead, I want to remind us all that although Obamacare is a disappointment in many respects, the improvements that are contained in it are important to many Americans of all ages. Among the new provisions:

FOR PEOPLE TOO YOUNG FOR MEDICARE
• No lifetime cap on essential medical benefits

• Annual spending caps are now restricted and will be eliminated in 2014

• Insurers may no longer drop policyholders when they get sick

• Children can remain on their parents' policies until age 26

• Except in some grandfathered categories, children under age 19 may no longer be excluded for pre-existing conditions. Adults will be added to this provision in 2014.

• No copays or deductibles may be applied to Level A and B preventive care and medical screenings in new policies

Really now, what can account for anyone wanting to repeal these rules? First, they are the moral and right thing to do. Second, they ought always to have been part of the bargain we make with insurance companies.

Insurance of any kind, by definition, is a gamble. I have never liked that I'm betting against myself but better to pay than lose my home, car or my health care with no recourse.

And the gamble on the insurance companies' part is only fair. Sometimes they win and make a lot of money (so far in life, I've paid out many times over what I've collected), and sometimes they lose.

What is not fair, as we have lived with for decades, is stacking the deck against insureds with, I might add, the consent of government. Obamacare just levels the odds, if only a little, and prevents some of what can only be called cheating by the insurance industry.

FOR MEDICARE RECIPIENTS
• Copays and deductibles for preventive services and some screenings are eliminated

• A free, annual health examination has been added

• Some relief for people who fall into the “donut hole” in Part D, prescription drug coverage reducing costs to individuals up to $1800 a year

• Certain primary care physicians will receive a 10 percent increase in payment for services to Medicare patients

There are more detailed explanations of these changes at this post.

Here's what bothers me about this bill being voted on in the House today: it's just nasty. What kind of person wants children (or anyone) to be denied health care because they can't afford it? At least two people in Arizona have died recently because that state eliminated payment for organ transplants to Medicaid beneficiaries. Two people who, likely, would otherwise still be living.

What kind of person would have a physician say to a patient, “Well, we're halfway through your cancer treatment, but we are stopping now because your insurance company will not pay anymore”?

What kind of person thinks it is a good idea – or even legal (let alone moral) - to allow an insurance company to not pay its gambling debt by canceling a policy when an insured gets sick? That's not allowed even in a Las Vegas casino.

Are these really the kind of people we want representing us in Washington? Apparently so for a lot voters.

As measured by standard medical benchmarks, somehow all other developed countries provide better health care to all their citizens for approximately half the cost per person as the U.S. spends.

That “somehow” is simple to explain: in those countries, everyone – from birth to death – is covered in the same risk pool. Some people make it from cradle to grave with hardly any health care costs. Others use a lot of the system. It balances out.

There is a reason Medicare costs are soaring; the risk pool contains only the oldest and, therefore, more of the sickest people in the country. Medicare for All would solve this problem.

There is a reason we don't have Medicare for All; the government is controlled by big business, in this case the entire medical community of insurance, pharmaceutical and medical device companies who take home astronomical profits each year.

We don't have a health care problem in the U.S. We have a business/government problem. Until the billions of business money is removed from elections, reasonable health care hasn't a chance in our nation.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vicki E. Jones: Grizzly: The Making of a Champion Show Dog

Comments

Pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies--In the past few decades, the money hungry behavior of these companies have made a very good argument against free market capitalism. And I don't care what line we were fed in school.

"Nasty" defines today's version of Tea-partiers...to a T.

My feeling (and hope) is any political movement built upon paranoia and hate can never rule the day or at least not for very long.

America needs "builders",not pessimistic angry mobs who think the answer to today's problems is to don retro-vision goggles and regress to some "wonderful" past where America was somehow better. (And better for whom, I might ask, though we all know the answer.)

Yes, it is folly to forget the past, but you can't build a better America on old visions.

One more thought: America seems to want to find an "Arthur" - someone who will be this bigger-than-life beacon of light and wisdom and guide us through the night.

Truth is, we are ALL that light - America's beauty and strength has always been her average Joe and Jane.

WE, the People. Say, that has a nice ring to it!

We have a really nasty political problem that doesn't take into account how the folks out here really feel.

I thought this battle was won, but here we go again. The Republicans just can't stand to let Obama have a victory.

Instead of trying to solve the serious problems of the country they are grandstanding and wasting time playing to their base.

I can't remember when I have been as thoroughly disgusted with politicians (and that includes some Democrats) as I am now. I vacillate between being furious and depressed.

Thanks for the timely reminder Ronni on how important this "imperfect" bill is. Sadly I live in the red state of Texas but I hound my Senate and House congressional members anyway, pushing for legislation like affordable health care that serves the public's needs.

I did send my House representative the following e-mail this morning after I had already called his Washington office yesterday:

Dear Congressman Burgess,

If you’re really serious about serving your constituents, all the people in your district that is, you will not vote to repeal the health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There is too much the bill has of value for you to outright reject this bill without offering something of substance to supplant it. Your belief that free-market practices will lower health care costs has been proven to be naive.

In the event that you do decide to follow through with your intent to repeal the ACA the following letter will go out to every newspaper in your district:

In his attempt to send a message to his base Mr. Burgess has engaged in a fruitless exercise of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since it will surely be rejected in the Senate or by the President.

With much to lose and little to gain other than appeasing a segment of his base Mr. Burgess has informed ALL of his constituents that he:

has no intention to support efforts that enable citizens to purchase affordable health insurance that is absent the policy caveat that can reject people for a pre-existing condition

doesn’t support incentives to help small businesses provide insurance for their employees through tax credits

seems indifferent to the need of parents to keep their college age children on their policies until they graduate and can afford it for themselves
is disregarding the need to improve the health care delivery in this country after experiencing the tragedy that saw a mentally unstable person kill 6 people in Tucson and seriously wounding a colleague of his, Gabbi Giffords.

Mr. Burgess is a credit to his true constituency in this case - the health insurance industry

Please don’t force me to submit this letter to the editors of local newspapers Congressman.

Sincerely
Larry Beck

Side note: The Affordable Care Act, that is now being considered for repeal by Republicans in Congress, attempts to mollify the crisis with our mental health care delivery system by preventing insurers to regard substance abuse or mental illness as a condition to deny coverage as a “pre-existing condition”; nor will they be able to use those conditions to raise premiums.

Furthermore, Under the existing ACA, “mental health and substance use disorder services will be part of the essential benefits package, a set of health care service categories that must be covered by certain plans, including all insurance policies that will be offered through the Exchanges, and Medicaid.”

Well... Today I went to the physician I've been seeing for 25 years. His name was on the preferred list for the new government pre-existing insurance plan that I just got this month -- at the cost of $600.00 each month.

Imagine my shock when the insurance clerk said they wouldn't "accept" the insurance!? She said, "Just because we're on the list doesn't mean we have to accept it."

I could hardly speak, just turned and walked out. Of course, this is Alabama...but what does it mean? I am going to do some research and see if this is a pattern here or not.

I'm furious!

Larry - a Texan with liberal leanings has learned long ago about living with a virtual bulls-eye painted on his/her shirt...no?

I totally understand your frustration.

The repeal effort is politics at its most ridiculous. Just filling political squares by the tea party representatives, who will just go on to attempt some actually stupid and dangerous fixes like selling insurance across state lines.

Ronnie,

I appreciate and agree with your comments vis-a-vis what's going on in the House. However, may I respectfully request that you not refer to the ACA as "Obamacare" which is a perjorative term coined by the right? These are the same people who brought us "death panels" and the "job-killing" act? Let's call it by it's rightful name, please? Thanks!

Karen

Big business doesn't care about any of us except to the extent that we can contribute to their profitability. Since there are always more consumers in the pipeline, a certain percentage of those already here--perhaps the older and sicker (?)--may be viewed as expendable. With healthcare dominated by insurance companies (e.g., Big Business) should we be surprised?

What's really the epitome of hypocrisy is the religious right's puffed-up indignation over so-called "death panels". What do they think is taking place right now? Healthcare is doled out based largely on insurance coverage or personal wealth--"rationing by dollars"--and often the patient has little or no voice.

Healthcare shouldn't be in the hands of Big Business, but unfortunately for all of us, it is!

Could we go back to calling this health care reform? I think Obamacare is a derogatory term.

I disagree with Karen and Hattie. Obamacare is pejorative only if you think the bill stinks. I would have preferred single payer, so I'm not wild about the outcome, but it is without question exactly what Obama bargained for. So why not Obamacare?

Note that his morning (Friday), NYT has an article describing the recent results of a poll that shows 2/3 of those responding (including the wealthy) do not want cuts to Social Security or Medicare.

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