Amodei Just Can’t Seem To Stop Himself

Amodei RedactedRepresentative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is positively jubilant over his vote to shut down the government of these United States of America unless the President dismantles the Affordable Care Act.

“Today the House did its job. It passed a bill to control spending, prevent a government shutdown, and protect Americans from the higher premiums, limited choices, and job-destruction caused by  the ACA,” said Amodei. “It is now the Senate’s turn to act. The coming 10 days will give the American people a clear view on who stands with the middle class, small business owners, and  seniors, among others, in opposition to the implementation of the ACA and ongoing fiscal practices that undermine the economy.”  [Amodei Press Release]

Control spending?  How often do we need to look at the following graphic from Forbes magazine before Representative Amodei gets the message?

Slowest Spending in Decades

Protect American from higher premiums?  The Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses its attention on health care in this country just shot this one out of the water.

“While premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are  generally lower than expected. For example, we estimate that the  latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level,  suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal  budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.”

Limited Choices?  This one has been long discarded.

“In fact, in 2012 just one or two different insurance companies  dominated the individual insurance market in most states — in 29  states, one insurer covered more than 50% of all enrollees in the  individual insurance market.  In 11 states, the largest two issuers
covered 85% or more of the individual market. […]  unlike the current market – where people are often locked into a health plan due to their pre-existing conditions – starting in 2014,  anyone can switch plans and, through the Marketplace, shop based on price and the level of coverage that fits their budget and needs. Individuals will also be able to learn, with a single application, whether they qualify for financial assistance such as a  new kind of tax credit that lowers monthly premiums right away.”

Job destruction?  The Republicans have been fond of reciting numbers from a CBO study — except they just aren’t explaining them. The report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation does a better job –

On the CBO study: “The relatively small reduction in labor supply  does not represent jobs lost as a result of ACA, but decisions  made by those no longer locked into employment situations as a  consequence of their need for health insurance. Plus, any reduction in labor supply the ACA causes would occur over an extended period of time as the exchanges come online and new options and incentives become clear to workers.”
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation   (pdf)

Who stands with Small Business owners?  It’s pretty clear it’s NOT Representative Amodei and the House Republicans.

Here are five key ways the Affordable Care Act can benefit small employers and their workers:

” SHOP Marketplaces: Currently, small businesses face premiums that are on average 18% higher than large businesses. On October 1, 2013, the new Small Business Health Insurance Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces will be open for businesses, and small employers in every state will be able to shop for health coverage on a competitive marketplace, that brings unprecedented transparency to the market and gives small businesses the same purchasing clout as big businesses.

Reducing Administrative Complexity: SHOP Marketplaces  include web portals that provide standardized, easy-to-understand information that will make comparing and purchasing coverage easier, and will simplify the administrative challenges that businesses often face when offering plans. Visit http://www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about the SHOP  Marketplace and to get ready for open enrollment.

New Tax Credits: The small business tax credit helps small businesses afford the cost of healthcare coverage for their employees, and is already helping qualifying small businesses offset the cost of insurance by up to 35%. In 2014, this tax credit goes up to 50% and is available to qualified small businesses who obtain coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.

Improved Risk Pooling: The new SHOP Marketplaces will allow small groups to pool risks and reduce administrative complexity, thereby increasing their purchasing power and reducing costs for small businesses that want to provide coverage to their workers. Business can enroll starting on October 1, 2013, through their brokers, or directly through the SHOP Marketplace.

Workplace Wellness:  The Affordable Care Act creates new incentives to promote workplace wellness programs and encourages employers to take more opportunities to support healthier workplaces. Effective for plan years after January 1, 2014, final rules allow the maximum reward to employers using a health-contingent wellness program to increase from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage, and the maximum reward for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use will be as much as 50 percent.”

Protecting Senior Citizens? Protecting them from what — their own self interests?  Here’s what Senior Citizens will be missing should Representative Amodei and his Republican cohorts have their way:

“Medicare Benefits Expanded:   “Under the ACA, Medicare benefits will not be reduced or taken away, but rather are expanding. Medicare beneficiaries will save, on average, about $4,200 over the next 10 years due to lower drug costs, free preventive services and reductions in the growth of health spending. Since passage of the ACA in 2010, more than 6.6 million people with Medicare saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs.

Private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are not going away. Between 2010 and 2012, the number of seniors who joined MA plans increased by 17 percent and premiums fell by 16 percent.

Medicare beneficiaries are eligible to receive many preventive services with no out-of pocket costs. These include flu shots, tobacco use cessation counseling, as well as no-cost screenings for cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Seniors can also get an annual wellness visit so they can talk to their doctor about any health concerns. More than 32.5 million seniors have received at least one of these preventive services with no out-of-pocket costs since 2010. In the first six months of 2013, 16.5 million people with traditional Medicare took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

Lower prescription costs: Because successful reforms in the Affordable Care Act are making Medicare more efficient and reducing costs, the Medicare Part B premium for 2012 was $99.90, $6.70 lower than the amount projected, and only a few dollars more than the premium that most beneficiaries had been paying. In addition, the Part B annual deductible decreased by $22 to $140, the first time in Medicare’s history when the deductible was lower than the previous year. The 2013 Part B monthly premium – $104.90 – is also lower than previously projected by the Medicare trustees.

 No more do-nut hole: For the Medicare Part D prescription drug program, Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the coverage gap, known as the “donut hole,” automatically receive a discount on prescription drugs. Each year, beneficiaries pay a reduced cost for brand name and generic drugs in the coverage gap. In 2020, the donut hole will be closed.    In 2013, Medicare beneficiaries in the donut hole will receive a 52.5 percent discount on brand-name drugs and a 21 percent discount on generic drugs. Seniors who reached the donut hole will save, on average, about $1,061 per beneficiary.  Nearly four million people with Medicare who were in the donut hole in 2010 received a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate from Medicare to help pay for prescription drug costs.

Protecting premium dollars in Medicare Advantage policies: Starting in 2014, the health care law provides additional protections for Medicare Advantage plan members by taking strong steps that limit the amount these plans spend on administrative costs, insurance company profits and items other than health care to 15 percent of their Medicare payments.”

Yess’r ladies and gentlemen, the House did a job — on Americans who can expect lower premiums from health insurance corporations when the corporations actually have to COMPETE for their business; on Americans who want more choices among more health insurance plans; on American business owners who want to offer group insurance plans but don’t have the clout of the Big Corporations; on American business owners who could assist with group plans but need some tax credits to do so; on American senior citizens who don’t want to get caught in the infamous do-nut hole, and who may need preventative and screening appointments with their physicians…

Oh, and by the way… it isn’t the White House that’s threatening to shut down the government.  If I have a weapon at your throat, and threaten to use it unless you give me the contents of your house — my threat isn’t your fault.

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