Thursday, September 30

Are Dems Doomed in November?

Things are not looking good. Democrats continue to refuse to press any advantage they might have on any issue - like tax cuts for the Rich - even when they're enormously popular. They DON'T SAY THE TRUTH!

For example Health Care has begun to kick in, but Dems won't take credit for it because they feel they'll get hit upside the head with stuff like this...

But all they have to do - is FIGHT BACK.

Right now says the Democrats are likely to retain control of the Senate by 1 Seat, but lose the House by 3 giving Republicans a 220 to 215 majority.

This despite the fact that the so-called "Pledge To America" that the GOP House just released contains seven items that are already included in the Health Care Bill and are now part of the law. Via Thinkprogress

Affordable Care Act GOP’s ‘Pledge To America’
Insurance Across State Lines Allows for the creation of State Health Insurance Compacts – permits states to enter into agreements to allow for the sale of insurance across state lines. (SEC. 1333; p. 100-101) “We will allow individuals to buy health care coverage outside of the state in which they live. ” (p. 15)
High-Risk Insurance Pools The states and the federal government have already established high-risk insurance pools to provide temporary coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions until 2014. (SEC. 1101; p. 30-33) “We will expand state high-­‐risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage” (p. 15)
Pre-Existing Conditions Children cannot be denied coverage starting today, but beginning in 204, insurers must accept everyone who applies. (SEC. 2702-2705; p. 46-51) “We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-­‐existing condition.” (p. 15)
Lifetime and Annual Caps A health insurer cannot impose lifetime limits and will be prohibited from placing annual limits on plans beginning in 2014. (SEC. 2711; p. 14) “[E]liminate annual and lifetime spending caps” (p.15)
Recissions A health insurance issuer cannot rescind a policy except for in cases of fraud. (SEC. 2712; p. 14) “[P]revent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick.” (p.15)
State Innovation States can receive waives from certain requirements if they can cover the uninsured and lower health costs in a more innovative manner. (SEC. 1332; p. 98-100) “We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.” (p.15)
Conscience Protections The law does not affect existing conscience protections or discriminate “on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.” (SEC. 1303; p. 67) “We will also enact into law conscience protections for health care providers, including doctors, nurses, and hospitals.” (p.15)

So not only are the Dems for Covering Children with Pre-existing Conditions - the Republicans are For it Too - or at least they say they are on paper. Yet in the clip Amy Holmes argues that...

Holmes: Some Insurers are already dropping their coverage of sick kids because of Obamacare...

And on this she is correct, some Insurers now refuse to offer "Child-Only" policies. It's not that they dropped coverage just for sick kids, they're dropping it for ALL KIDS so they don't have to cover the ones who are sick. Still, few people who report on this seems to also report that parents with group and family plans now have to accept children at least until those children are 26 years-old, no matter whether their already sick or not. Although you can't get children individual coverage - you can add them to your coverage.

Also this coverage gap created by greedy, heartless health insurance companies would now make nearly all of those children eligible for SCHIP which has been greatly expanded, and State-based High-Risk Poll Insurance which are already coming online at fairly affordable rates. So far enrollment rates for these pools has been low, but then that might be because NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THEM!

Certainly not Democrats.

Breitbart argues that ..

Obamacare was done at a tremendous cost...

He spouts this lie, another in his long string of them, even when the CBO says that Repealing the PPACA would increase the Deficit by $455 Billion.

On balance, the two laws’ health care and revenue provisions are estimated to reduce the projected deficit in 2020 by $28 billion, and the education provisions of the Reconciliation Act are estimated to reduce the projected deficit in 2020 by $2 billion. [...]

Finally, you asked what the net deficit impact would be if certain provisions of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act that were estimated to generate net savings were eliminated—specifically, those which were originally estimated to generate a net reduction in mandatory outlays of $455 billion over the 2010–2019 period. The estimate of $455 billion mentioned in your letter represents the net effects of many provisions. Some of those provisions generated savings for Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and some generated costs. If those provisions were repealed, CBO estimates that there would be an increase in deficits similar to its original estimate of $455 billion in net savings over that period.

Repealing Obamacare would cost Tax Payers almost a Half $Billion, But Democrats don't say it.

Amy comes back again with this gem...

Holmes: What is the morality of passing legislation that is now keeping business from hiring new employees?

First of all, Obama always said "If you like your current insurance - you can keep it and it won't change". He never intended to drastically change the existing Employee-based system, only to add minor fixes - such as the pre-existing condition ban - and to gradually create some alternatives to it for those who can't even get or afford insurance. Plus the ridiculous rate increases the insurance companies have been piling on the backs of business aren't anything new. Remember just last year when Anthem Blue Cross tried to raise their rates by 39 percent in California? Ultimately a rate hike was approved by State Regulators, but for less than half that amount.

Insurance companies have been blaming their rate increases on "Obamacare" requirements but that is simply bogus, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has begun to call them out for it.

It has come to my attention that several insurance carriers have sent out letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the (Health Care Bill)


According to our analysis and some academic and industry experts, any potential premium impact from consumer protections and increased quality improvements should be minimal. We estimate that the effect will be no more than one or two percent.


Already my department has provided 46 states with information to strengthen the review and transparency of proposed premiums. Later this fall we will issue a regulation requiring state or federal review of all unreasonable rate increases.

State regulators already have the power to restrict and reduce these rate hikes by requiring that insurers justify them, HHS is moving to help strengthen their hand in this area to continue to prevent consumer gouging. Also even prior to the Exchanges coming online in 2014, insurers that gouge customers NOW, can be barred from participating in the exchanges and lose access to 32 Million additional customers and $Billions in government subsidies.

But Democrats Don't Talk About it.

Also millions of small businesses (those with less that 50 employees) already have access to a 35% tax credit for their health insurance which can directly offset even the highest proposed cost increase.

Small businesses will receive $40 billion in new tax credits to help cover the cost of health coverage for their employees. The tax credit is designed to both support those small businesses that provide coverage today as well as new businesses who decide to provide coverage. Effective immediately, the tax credit is worth up to 35 percent of the premiums a business pays to cover its workers and in 2014, the value of the credit will increase to 50 percent. An estimated 4 million small businesses will be eligible to receive these tax credits.

But Democrats don't talk about it.

Instead they swallow the line that this is all somehow "Obama's Fault".

Notice how quiet Seth McFarland is during this entire exchange, and finally when he does speak he only mentions one thing - The Public Option.

Once we lost the Public Option - Obama essentially lost his Democratic Base, those who frankly really wanted either Single-Payer, or at least making all health insurers into Non-Profits in order to limit the kind of price gouging and coverage restrictions, all done to increase profits, that we've seen for over a decade.

No, we didn't get the Public Option - however, what we did get is just as good. As a replacement for the PO, a Non-Profit Option will be offered by the Office of Personnel Management. The only real difference between the Public Option and this one, is that instead of being run by Federal employees directly, it's run by a Federal Contractor - but the Director of OPM would have broad control and oversight of that contractor. This is the Directors Authority over that Non-Profit Agency.

SEC 1332 (3) NON-PROFIT ENTITIES.—In entering into contracts under paragraph (1), the Director shall ensure that at least one contract is entered into with a non-profit entity.
(4) ADMINISTRATION.—The Director shall implement this subsection in a manner similar to the manner in which the Director implements the contracting provisions with respect to carriers under the Federal employees health benefit program under chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, including
(through negotiating with each multi-state plan)—
(A) a medical loss ratio;
(B) a profit margin;
(C) the premiums to be charged; and

(D) such other terms and conditions of coverage as are
in the interests of enrollees in such plans.
(5) AUTHORITY TO PROTECT CONSUMERS.—The Director may prohibit the offering of any multi-State health plan that does not meet the terms and conditions defined by the Director with respect to the elements described in subparagraphs (A)
through (D) of paragraph (4).

(b) ELIGIBILITY.—A health insurance issuer shall be eligible to enter into a contract under subsection (a)(1) if such issuer—
(1) agrees to offer a multi-State qualified health plan that meets the requirements of subsection (c) in each Exchange in each State;

Over and above the new 85% medical loss ration which allows only 15% overhead and profit for any insurer who wishes to participate in the exchange, this option can be negotiated by the OPM Director to an even higher MLR. The Director can set their premium rates and their profit margin, which being by definition "Non-Profit" could essentially be Zero. Current Pseudo Non-Profits like Anthem/Blue Shield are not likely to qualify.

The CBO analysis of costs of operating this option when contrasted with the Public Option were essentially nil, and with other changes includes actually saved about $2 Billion more than it had previously.

This estimate incorporates the effects of the manager’s amendment, which would make a number of changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as originally proposed. The changes with the largest budgetary effects include: expanding eligibility for a small business tax credit; increasing penalties on certain uninsured people; replacing a "public plan" that would be run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with "multi-state" plans that would be offered under contract with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); deleting provisions that would increase payment rates for physicians under Medicare; and increasing the payroll tax on higher-income individuals and families. Of the total deficit reduction of $132 billion projected to result from the legislation, the manager’s amendment accounts for about $2 billion, and the act as originally proposed accounts for the remaining $130 billion.

The Public Option wasn't simply deleted, it was Replaced by something that from a deficit and premium controlling standpoint - is just as effective!

But Democrats don't say it.

Lastly as of now... Preventive Care is Free. Insurers are prohibited from charging co-pays or deductibles for mammograms or other cancer screenings.

Effective for health plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010

All new plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.

But Democrats don't say it.

Maher: I don't know how Democrats can keep losing the argument about sick kids, they lost that one this week. They can't even mention health care because it "doesn't poll well". Well maybe if you'd mention it - IT WOULD POLL WELL! Maybe if you brag about what you did for people, it wouldn't poll badly...

This admittedly received the biggest applause of the segment, and it should have - because he's dead right.

It's not guaranteed, but maybe if Democrats DID mention that much of "The Pledge" is simply trying to steal their thunder by laying claim to things the Democrats already did without any Republican support, and maybe if they mentioned that ridiculous rate hikes of 32% can be blocked, and that even if insurers refuse to offer child-only policies - they still have to let now kids on their parents policies, and maybe if they mentioned that there are now state run low-cost high-risk insurance pools for people with pre-existing conditions or who have simply been without coverage for six months, that repealing "Obamacare" would add almost half a $billion to the deficit, that millions of small businesses now have a 35% tax credit for health insurance that will increase to 50% in 2014, that HHS is cracking down on price gouging by insurers and can block them from the Exchanges in 2014 if they gouge now, that Preventive Care is now FREE, and that although we didn't get the "Public Option" we got something that does the same exact thing just as well, if we simply bothered to mention some of this - at least once in a while - we might keep control of both the Senate and the House.

I understand we didn't get everything we might have hoped for, and that there are still loopholes in the law that these private insurers are trying to squirm and slither through. That's always going to be the case.

Yeah, but maybe if Democrats - not just those in Washington - but all of us talked about this stuff more, while admitting things aren't perfect, we might start seeing better polling numbers, and possibly electoral prospects in November.

Maybe... but one thing is certain, if we don't start pushing back on all these memes, distortions and out-and-out lies - and I mean agressively - we can pretty much guarantee what's going to happen in less than 40 days.

Right now all we need to do is keep two or three seats in the House. That could be Alan Grayson's seat (since he's currently trailing). That's all we need to keep Grayson and one or two more... his seat is worth a bit of laryngitis isn't it?


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