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And so the ‘working together’ era begins … November 3, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in 2010 Election, Healthcare, Politics.
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will talk with the choir Thursday at the Heritage Foundation. And it seems he has little interest in finding common ground with President Obama.

The only important thing, it seems, is to make him disappear two long years from now. This from the AP:

The Senate’s Republican leader says congressional lawmakers can and should vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, repeatedly if necessary. If Obama should veto laws repealing the health care overhaul, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says, the House should cancel funding for its programs. As for the Senate, he says that senators should vote against what he calls the law’s “most egregious provisions.” In remarks prepared for a speech Thursday to the conservative Heritage Foundation, McConnell says it’s all part of the effort to deny Obama a second term in the White House in 2012.Tuesday’s election gave Republicans at least 46 Senate seats next year, making McConnell the leader of a strengthened minority.

I like that. It’s all part of the effort to deny Obama a second term.

Not part of an effort to do what’s right in terms of fixing our wasteful, inefficient and incredibly costly healthcare system.

Just a stepping stone to full power.

Not part of the solution June 12, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Healthcare, Justice, Obama, Politics.
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The healthcare reform measures now are part of the laws of the land, although a great many of the details, rules and ramification offsets are yet to be devised. Part of that process has begun with the release of a draft set of regulations governing how some aspects of the new law will apply to the many, huge employer-provided self-insurance plans out there that operate outside the state insurance regulation system. These are set up under a federal law that goes by the shorthand ERISA and cover more than half of the workers in the country.

The new law “grandfathers” most of these existing plans from most of the new regulations — unless the plans are changed so radically from one year to the next that they effectively become “new” plans. The draft regulations put out for comment are designed to draw a whole bunch of lines to determine what’s a continuing plan with some legitimate annual revisions and what’s brand new.

Most people covered by such a plan — I am one — know that your “coverage” changes quite significantly just about every year, as employers struggle to cope with rapid escalation in the cost of care. Premium share, deductibles, co-pays, lifetime claim caps, insured procedures and many other aspects rarely are the same one year as they were the previous year.

Which is why this Associated Press story pushed my buttons this morning. The whole focus on whether this aspect of the law makes a liar out of President Obama, who pledged many times that the reform bill would not prevent people from “keeping the plan they have now.”

Most people understood that to mean the law would not force anyone to get coverage other than what was provided by their employer, or to choose a different plan among options offered by their employer — in other words, would not force them to get “government” insurance or go out and shop all on their own.

And the law keeps that “promise.”

But it does not guarantee that the plan offered next year by employers will be the “same” as the one offered this year, because most of that decision still rests 100% with the employer.  And there are certain mandates that the law enacted across the board for all plans that must be absorbed into all plans — like covering kids until age 26 and not rejecting for pre-existing conditions. And those things may add some cost, though not a lot because kids 18-26 are pretty healthy members of any self-insured risk pool and costs normally are adjusted based on that risk pool’s real-world spending on claims the prior year.

But none of that stopped the Republican leadership in Congress  and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the GOP’s “private-sector” mouthpiece — from jumping out and claiming this all makes Obama a liar and the reform bill a failure.

I say “mouthpiece” because the Chamber has become nothing more than a radical-Red slogan factory from the sidelines, exacerbating most public policy discussions with “same-old” unproductive crapola that just keeps us all from coming up with a workable solution. In this story, this role is clear: The Chamber spouts nonsense while the Business Roundtable, a hands-on group of business leaders, digs in and works to help create a set of regulations that will work to the greatest benefit of employers, employees and taxpayers.

Here’s a sampling of the all-politics whining from the GOP and chamber:

“What we are getting here is a clear indication that most plans will have to change,” said James Gelfand, health policy director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “From an employer’s point of view that’s a bad thing. These changes, whether or not they’re good for consumers, are most certainly accompanied by a cost.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said it showed that Obama’s assurance that Americans would be able to keep the plans they currently have was “a myth” all along.

“Since its passage, Republican arguments against the bill have been repeatedly vindicated, even as the administration’s many promises about the bill have been called into question again and again,” McConnell said. “So Democrats may have passed this bill, but the debate is far from over.”

Mr. Gelfand: You and I both know that every plan offered by employers is going to “change” Jan. 1 — with or without this new law. No one out there was going to offer “the same plan” with not a word, a clause, an iota altered. So just shut up and go away, because you, sir, are part of the problem.

Sen. McConnell: The only “myth” involved in what Obama said is the fairy tale version of  “keep your plan” spun up by you and the Redlegs in your tent — a first-class Straw Man set up so you can get up on the stage again and again and try to deflect a worthy debate about what should be done to improve health insurance and healthcare. All you want to do is win more seats in November and the White House in 2012 and that “winning” strategy is now your only moral compass. So you go away too.

President Obama did not lie then and he is not lying now.

You two, however, are doing your level best to mislead to advance your own personal positions.

Fixing this — and doing it right — is hard enough without fraud artists.