Obamacare– what’s in it for us?

My sense of why the Affordable Care Act failed to inspire the majority of the public is this–
America is hungry for a sane, decent health care system.
The Democrats say to America, “Here’s a nice plate of Spam. It’s a nutritious mix of things kind of mushed together into something you can eat.”
America says, “Yuck.”

The Republicans say, “Here’s a nice plate of smashed light bulbs. They’re the incandescent kind, that Grandma used. Eat up, it builds character. What? You can’t eat broken glass? Then here’s a big plate of nothing– you free-market dropout!”

We’d all rather have steak. I’d rather have a single-payer health care system yesterday, but the Affordable Care Act is a huge step forward toward building a real, sane and adequate health care system that protects Americans from financial ruin if they have accident or illness, and rewards doctors for helping their patients stay healthy. Incidentally– making it harder to profiteer off other people’s misfortune.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to keep administrative costs down and put the premiums into health services.

I was out with Mr.Green at Hope St. Pizza tonight and heard a bunch of guys at the next table talking about the Supremes. One of them was a nurse. I called out to them and did the fist pump and we all cheered.

My Mom listens to crazy radio. I’m waiting to hear her take on this. The ACA has benefits for people on Medicare that will save her from some co-pays and medication expenses. But she’ll tell me it’s a bad thing. Because Death Panels.

My sister-in-law is wondering if there’s going to be part-time Death Panel positions open. She’s a teacher, uses the Glare of Death to cow her students and has some time to pick up a summer job.

I am hugely relieved that we are not back to square one. My family benefits from the provision of the ACA that lets young adults stay on their parent’s insurance. I have been at meetings at the Department of Health where a blueprint for insuring all Rhode Islanders is being drawn up, and the ACA is crucial. It’s way better to be sitting comfortably inside our beautiful Statehouse, than to be standing out on the lawn waving a sign. I’ve done enough of that the past three years. I wish Dave St.Germain were alive to see this day.

Mother Jones has a list of ten things you get now that Obamacare is upheld…

1) Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime coverage limits on your insurance. Never again will you face the risk of getting really sick and then, a few months in, having your insurer tell you, “Sorry, you’ve ‘run out’ of coverage.” Almost everyone I’ve met knows someone who had insurance but got really, really sick (or had a kid get really sick) and ran into a lifetime cap.

See the other nine here.

You’ll say, “Well, duh. Any reasonable society would take these things for granted.”

But we came within a whisker of never getting the ACA passed in Congress, and the Supremes passed it in a 5-4. This is a day in History.

[the writer means no disrespect to Spam, or any of Hormel’s fine canned meat products.]

An Argument for Health Care as an Economic Driver

By 2014, if all goes well, we should have something that resembles national health care.  This may mean that millions of people who have suffered in the pool of 17.7% of Americans in the United States without health insurance, may suddenly be seeking care for everything from anxiety to obesity and beyond.

In Rhode Island, this would be a welcome relief from the recent trends in health care in terms of numbers of people with insurance.  The recent trends, according to the Rhode Island Health Commissioner’s office, are that between 2005 and 2010, the number of insured people in Rhode Island dropped by 65,000.  In 2005, there were about 620,000 people insured by the three big insurers, BCBSRI, United, and Tufts, and in 2010 this number had dropped to about 555,000.  During that same time, there was a modest increase in the number of people receiving either Rite Care and Rite Share.  If you look at the study cited below issued in January of 2011 from the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, you will see that in 2009 and 2010, there was a significant amount of stimulus money that was used to cover the costs of the growing Rite Care and Rite Share programs — $35.2 million in 2009, $56.8 million in 2010, and $56.5 million in 2011.

Now, let’s give it some thought.  Let’s just say Obamacare goes through.  Could it be possible that part of the growing economy can be the growing health care provisions that are made for those nearly 50 million people who are newly insured?  Could neighborhoods in South Providence, downtown Woonsocket, and Eden Park Cranston all begin to flourish with new health care providers serving the throngs of people flocking in for health care?  Statistically, the uninsured are more likely to be obese, smokers, and drinkers, so there are plenty of preventative care issues that could be addressed with could treatment plans.

So instead of giving $75 million to Curt Schilling and betting on the idea that we need another MMOG video game on the internet where people will waste time being sedentary and eating junk food while they try to climb inane hierarchies, perhaps we should think about ways that government can promote health care businesses that will likely be in great demand in the very near future.

Link to the report on Privately Insured Rhode Islanders

Link to report on RITE Care and RITE Share Insured Rhode Islanders

God’s Agents on Earth

Today my Facebook has a post from the tireless blogger, Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend. MSNBC host, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is getting flamed for pointing out the obvious truth that citizens bear a collective responsibility for the welfare of our children. Even if they are not our own family, we don’t tell them to go play in traffic. Well, maybe the grouchy guy who listens to Rush Limbaugh does, but we don’t call him an expert.

I replied to Pam–
Rush Limbaugh is childless despite 4 marriages. Glenn Beck has a daughter, Mary, with a disability. Maybe he never has taken any state or federal benefits for her care so far, but if the wealth ever runs out over the course of her life it will be the community that steps up. The same goes for Trig Palin. Are these people so sure their own children will never need the safety net they are tearing apart?

In honor of the gummint entitlements that make possible benefits such as Meeting Street School, Hasbro Children’s Hospital and public education for all children regardless of their medical condition, I’m re-running this post from 2009…

Recently I got an email from Jim Wallis at Sojourners, a progressive Christian organization.

Glenn Beck has received a lot of attention for his inflammatory rhetoric lately. Recently, he shared a personal story about his daughter who has cerebral palsy, which gets to the heart of his fears about health-care reform:

They [the government] will say exactly what doctors said about my 21-year-old daughter: “She may not really have a quality of life. She may not walk or talk or feed herself. But then again miracles happen.” The “then again, miracles happen” part of that will be left out of the conversation. And I will not be able to see my daughter’s 21st birthday, where I can reflect with her how miracles do happen. Because really, as I was told at the beginning of her life: Well, what kind of quality of life is she going to really have? I don’t know, but that’s for God to decide, not the government. -The Glenn Beck Program, 8/6/2009

I hope everything is well with Glenn Beck’s daughter, Mary, and I can’t argue with faith. I can understand the Beck family praying for a miracle, and I hope it was granted. But in the world of meeting material needs, petitioning God directly doesn’t usually produce a check out of thin air. For that, Glenn Beck would petition his insurance company.

He has faith that the insurance company will be there for him. And that is fortunate. Because if he discovered in his time of need that the insurance he chose wasn’t adequate, he’d have a very tough time getting a new insurance policy for his family, with a newborn needing medical care. If his insurance company stalled on paying, who would he look to? The law, and the government.

So the question is not ‘who will you trust, God or the Government?’– the question is how much you trust your insurance company. Because when you or your family have a serious health problem you will be in no shape to go shopping on the free market.

God helps those who help themselves, they say, and maybe God blesses us when we help each other. I don’t know how long private insurance covers a child with cerebral palsy, but there are Government programs to help people with disabilities. It’s possible that Mary is benefiting from one of these programs. They exist because private insurance was not willing to meet the need, so a public option was created.

God loves us all, but insurance companies have to collect more money than they disburse, and they maximize profits by denying care. They don’t get into philosophical arguments about quality of life, they just refuse to pay the bills. Then you have to appeal to the Government. So it’s in our best interests to keep our Government strong and regulate our insurance providers, so that they have to uphold a standard of care.

Glenn Beck has faith in God, but who are God’s agents? Blue Cross, Tenet and Cigna? It’s not a debate about God vs Government– it’s how much you trust private insurance. If your trust is not blind, you’ll want the Government on your side.

UPDATE: The passage of the Affordable Care Act, nicknamed ‘Obamacare’, provides protection for people with disabilities, like Mary Beck, who cannot now be denied insurance due to a pre-existing condition. As wealthy as her family is, she most likely will need the support of a government program, such as Medicare D, at some point in her life. Health care reform is beginning to change the focus of private insurance from paying for procedures to maintaining wellness. Ordinary working Americans cannot meet all the needs of a child with a disability without government assistance. I’m skeptical that even the Becks, with their millions, are immune from the contingencies we all face.