Global Media Insights – March 23, 2017 – Volume 1, Edition 6
H.R. 1628 – American Health Care Act
I find myself, yet again, writing about the Republican health care act. This ongoing saga just seems to get better and better. The Congressional Republicans are mostly excited, happy and seemingly content with taking health care coverage away from 24 million people. Why? I really DON’T have a good answer for that at all. As of 7:36 pm PST, the U.S. national debt was approaching $19.9 trillion. Without the affordable care act, we would be even higher, with no end in site. One notable aspect of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is the beneficial deficit reduction and slower growth of health care spending. Let’s look at some numbers so you can become better acclimated with the positive impacts:
- “In 2015, U.S. health care spending increased 5.8 percent to reach $3.2 trillion, or $9,990 per person (Source).”
- “The slower health care spending also means that the ACA is expected to cost the U.S. government much less than previously estimated. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2010, after the passage of the ACA, that the gross cost of all ACA coverage provisions from 2014 to 2019 would cost $938 billion. That forecast has now dropped to $686 billion in the 2015 forecast, a reduction of 26.9% (Source).”
- “In 2015, most people (90.9 percent) had health insurance coverage at some point during the calendar year, with more people having private health insurance (67.2 percent) than government coverage (37.1 percent) (Source).”
Now, lets review the negative impacts of the affordable care act:
- “prescription drug spending in the United States was about $457 billion in 2015, or 16.7 percent of overall personal health care services (Source).”
A March 2016 report from the federal government estimated total prescription drug spending in the U.S. at $457 billion in 2015, representing 16.7% of all health care service expenditures. In 2012, by contrast, total drug spending was measured at $367 billion, for 15.4% of all health care service dollars. (Interestingly, in 2009, when $354 billion was spent on prescription drugs, they accounted for 16.7% of all health care spending, the same proportion as in 2015—only overall health spending was much lower in 2009.) Some of the increase in drug spending is attributable simply to population growth, and to more prescriptions per patient being doled out by doctors. But old-fashioned price hikes bear much of the responsibility for higher drug spending (Source).”
- Premium increases, in some places, up to 145% (Source)
Two things about the “negative” items above. First, the drug companies are simply out of control.
- “Americans pay nearly 50% more for comparable prescriptions in the United States than they would in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and a host of other developed nations (Source).”
Did you know that the average cost for medications related to people who are HIV Positive is anywhere from $7,200 – $32,920 per year in the United States (Source)? I know a great many people who are HIV Positive and to be honest, this is disgraceful. Government funded programs mostly support the cost of these life-saving medications; but without them, a lot of my friends would not even be alive today. When the Pharmaceutical industry is able to rake in almost half-a-trillion dollars in one year alone, it’s time to realize where the real expense is and put better price controls in place to prevent it. The Medicare Part D Prescription drug plan (PDP) passed December 8, 2003 (Source):
MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG, IMPROVEMENT, AND MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2003
‘‘(i) NONINTERFERENCE.—In order to promote competition under this part and in carrying out this part, the Secretary— ‘‘(1) may not interfere with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and PDP sponsors”
Notice what it say’s in this paragraph? “NONINTERFERENCE…may not interference with negotiation…”; who the hell in their right mind as an elected official would even vote for this in good conscious? This is part of the reason health care costs are so high and your deductibles are through the roof.
The other part is the rapid increase in premiums. But, there is a great misunderstanding about how the premium subsidies even work. The ACA is short for “Affordable Care Act”. So, if your purchasing insurance from the private market, your adjusted gross income comes out to be $47,520. You are single. This would put you at 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Now, your expected contribution for the year is 9.69% or $4,605 ($383.72 per month). Let’s assume for a minute you live in Arizona where premiums went up 145% from $6,000 per year to $14,700. Your contribution is $4,605. Your subsidy will be $10,095 (the amount you do NOT pay out of your own pocket).
This is the way the ACA is setup. It’s based on income level which determines how much of a subsidy is provided. Each state has to receive approval from the Department of Health and Human Services for price increases above a certain threshold. But, that does not change the fact that you still get a very generous subsidy to cover the increase. Tell me again what the issue is here? If anything, the subsidies should be doubled, not eliminated completely (Source).
What seems to be an ongoing and pervasive approach in the current Republican Congress is making people “think” they are being hurt, when in fact they are not. The entire motive behind the repeal bill is to cut taxes. That’s it, it’s not because of all the creative and colorful talking points about how people are struggling. On the contrary, the majority of people are doing better than they have in years, maybe even decades. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll was conducted that asked:
“As you may know, a health reform bill was signed into law in 2010. Given what you know about the health reform law, do you have a generally favorable or generally unfavorable opinion of it? (Source)”
As of March, 2017:
- Age 18 – 29 have a 58% favorable (34% unfavorable) response
- Age 30 – 49 have a 48% favorable (46% unfavorable) response
- Age 50 – 64 have a 44% favorable (50% unfavorable) response
The population of each age group just mentioned above is as follows:
- Age 18 – 29; 65,000,000 (U.S. Census Est.)
- [37.7 million have favorable opinion]
- [22.1 million have unfavorable opinion]
- Age 30 – 49; 84,000,000 (U.S. Census Est.)
- [40.32 million have favorable opinion]
- [38.64 million have unfavorable opinion]
- Age 50 – 64; 59,000,000 (U.S. Census Est.)
- [25.96 million have favorable opinion]
- [29.5 million have unfavorable opinion]
TOTAL FAVORABLE – 103.98 million
TOTAL UNFAVORABLE – 90.24 million
Here’s my argument, if you have more people viewing something favorable than unfavorable, wouldn’t that be enough indication that you should be working on increasing the favorable rating instead of creating more unfavorable ones?
Let me preface this part by saying that yes, I did read the entire “PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT HEALTH-RELATED PORTIONS OF THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2010 (Read It Here).” I did it knowing that this would likely be the most contentious piece of legislation of my generation. Thus far that is proving to be true.
The affordable care act was a fantastic starting point. Unfortunately with years of obstruction to undermine the viability of the law, its no wonder we have a number of issues with it. I can assure you, the new proposal doesn’t even come CLOSE to addressing the underlying issues. Let me just show you the first 2 page’s of the legislation:
The word “Repeal” appears on the FIRST two pages 19 different times. That’s because they are literally repealing every single possible structure established by the health care law passed in 2010. This is NOT what a serious piece of legislation looks like. President Barack Obama won two terms in the White House; his agenda was decided, and now the Republicans want to essentially wipe out settled policy. We are not living in a country where this can or should be tolerated.
Men v. Women
For the life of me I just can’t fully understand why men continue to try and dictate what a woman can do with her own body. Let’s regulate Viagra and see the outrage from men. I say this because the Republican health care law has a provision tucked away:
“SEC. 103. FEDERAL PAYMENTS TO STATES. (b) DEFINITIONS.—In this section: (1) PROHIBITED ENTITY. (ii) is an essential community provider described in section 156.235 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act), that is primarily engaged in family planning services, reproductive health, and related medical care; and (iii) provides for abortions, other than an abortion—(I) if the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest; or (II) in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself”
Here’s a recent photo of lawmakers deciding women’s health care options (Source):
Does ANYONE else have a problem with this? I am truly and utterly disgusted by the deliberate attack on the right of women to make their own, individual, personal health care choices. I can’t really say this in any other way except for the way I’m about to; if you can’t even keep your dick in your pants, why the fuck should women listen to you at all?
I’m truly beyond a place of respect for the current Congress. Between the language in the bill and the picture above, it just makes me downright sad, angry and dismayed to see such blatant disregard for everyone, but especially for women.
The United States spends more on health care than any other country on the planet (Source):
What we need to do is provide people with universal health care coverage that is affordable, fully equipped to handle any and all potential issues and at a zero deductible or co-payment.
The current law is a disgrace, it undermines 7 years of progress and success stories. We cannot and should not allow this to pass. Not only because of the lack of morality associated with it, but also because of the incomprehensible results that will come from this bill.
Here’s one last thought I will leave you with:
Things More Popular Than Congress
3. Dog Poop
5. Toenail Fungus
It would seem, pretty clearly, Congress doesn’t understand just how unpopular they really are. This is a pretty good indication and should be a wake up call for the entire Republican Party to rationalize and NOT repeal the Affordable Care Act. They are LITERALLY less popular than dog shit. Give them credit, they worked very hard to get such low ratings.
Ryan A. Starzyk, Author
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