Welcome Nevada Governor Sandoval to the Republican manufactured poutrage factory. [Sibelius] Oh, the horror! The Affordable Care Act is taking full effect, complete with health care insurance exchanges on which individuals who don’t have employer sponsored health insurance policies can find insurance in a private market. That’s right — a selection of plans offered by private health care insurance corporations. Thus much for the “demise of the free market” argument. Oh! But there’s More… people are having their policies cancelled.
Wait, take a breath. We’ll have another round of hyperbole compliments of a media circus and traveling show that is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). The next road show will in all probability follow the talking points suggestions in the latest GOP memo in which Representatives are called upon to:
1. Collect stories from constituents. They want to hear from people whose policies have been cancelled, who have received notices of increased premiums, school districts facing upgrades in their insurance plans, and small business owners. They do not want to hear about the actual statistics describing the health care insurance market in this country.
“…the truth is that only a small percentage of Americans will have their health insurance choices narrowed because of the ACA. Approximately 15 million Americans who currently buy health insurance on the open market will see substantial changes to their choices of plans for 2014. Such changes are common on the individual market, but the new health care law will lead to an increase.” [Time]
About 30% of Americans have health insurance coverage via Medicare and Medicaid; another 50% or more have employer sponsored health insurance plans. That leaves approximately 15 million who purchase insurance in the individual market. [Time]
Yes, Virginia, the insurance market in America is still governed by the health care insurance corporations. So, why all the “problems?”
(a) Some health care insurance corporations issued Junk Policies which do not meet the requirements of the ACA for comprehensive policies. Not only are these policies being cancelled, they should be. The Republican representatives would love to hear stories about cancelled policies, but they’d be less likely to want to hear this one from the holder of one of those junk policies.
“I was aware that it wasn’t a great plan, but I wasn’t concerned because I wasn’t sick,” she says. But in July 2011 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, at which point the policy’s annual limits of $1,000 a year for outpatient treatment and $2,000 for hospitalization became a huge problem. Facing a $30,000 hospital bill, she delayed treatment. “Finally my surgeon said, ‘Judy, you can’t wait anymore.’ While I was waiting my tumor became larger. It was 3 centimeters when they found it and 9 centimeters when they took it out.” After a double mastectomy, radiation treatments, and reconstructive surgery, Goss is taking the drug tamoxifen to prevent recurrence.” [Consumer Reports]
(b) And then there are those increased premiums. ‘Scuse me but when I was briefly in the private health insurance market I had to budget for periodic policy premium increases; from $244 per month at the outset and ending up with costs of approximately $400+ from the only health insurance corporation offering individual policies in this region when I was fortunate to live long enough to enroll in the Medicare program. So, whose stories are the most likely to be welcomed by Issa Express? The Washington Post explains:
“If the poor, sick and uninsured are the winners under the Affordable Care Act, the losers appear to include some relatively healthy middle-income small-business owners, consultants, lawyers and other self-employed workers who buy their own insurance. Many make too much to qualify for new federal subsidies provided by the law but not enough to absorb the rising costs without hardship. Some are too old to go without insurance because they have children or have minor health issues, but they are too young for Medicare.” [WaPo]
They are “relatively wealthy, healthy, independent and self-employed, ” too old to be comfortable without health care insurance and too young for Medicare. In short, they are not the sum total of the American people, they’re actually a relatively small segment of it.
2. Issue a BOLO for identity theft. Good idea, the Republicans have a point here — but so does a porcupine’s back-end. We should all be looking out for identity theft especially as we enter the 2013 rendition on online shopping season. When the National Institute of Justice looked at the problem and their research reported:
“Although anyone is potentially vulnerable to identity theft (particularly theft of credit card-related information), individuals are more likely to be victimized by persons who have access to their identifying information, such as family members and persons with whom they share living quarters.” [NIJ]
Ouch. There are more recent studies, and the ITAC offers its results:
“The personal information lost in data breaches are frequently used to commit fraud. While credit card numbers remain the most popular item revealed in a data breach, in reality other information can be more useful to fraudsters. Personal information such as online banking login, user name and password were compromised in 10 percent of incidents and 16 percent of incidents included Social Security numbers. Recipients need to take data breach letters seriously and protect themselves by enrolling in identity protection services and taking other steps.”
In other words, thieves do want those Social Security numbers, but good old-fashioned credit card information is still the most popular form of thievery. The best remedy is perhaps one of the oldest ones. Don’t give out any sensitive information to anyone unless you make the call and you know who you’re dealing with. Look for those little “locks” on your computer screen bars and if they aren’t there — or are “unlocked” — go elsewhere.
Talking Points We’re Going To Hear Endlessly Repeated
- Premiums are increasing.
- Millions of Americans will lose the policies they have and like.
- Obamacare is hurting job creation.
- There will be billions of dollars in tax hikes.
- Fewer people will get health insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act
- Millions more Americans will be uninsured.
About the first two items on the list: OK, premiums will increase — for some people, perhaps most for those who purchased that junk insurance. There are usually a couple of crucial points left out when this talking point is applied. First, most people will be eligible for the subsidy which will make the sticker price for the policy affordable. Secondly, since when did premiums stay the same over long period of time?
We ought to have figured it out by now. If any legislation proposed or enacted seeks to help people rather than corporations, the Republicans will full-throatedly bellow — It hurts job creation. The popular figure from the House Ways and Means Committee is that “70% of small businesses cite Obamacare as an obstacle to job creation.”
About that 70% study — it’s from a July 2012 U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey taken of 1,225 business executives who have firms with less than $25 million in annual revenue, and less than 500 employees. The pertinent part:
“The vast majority said they would be less likely to hire or that their workforce would stay the same size. When asked directly what the impact would be, 72% said that the health care law will make it harder for their business to hire.” [Harris pdf]
So, let’s make the statement from the House Ways and Means Committee a bit more accurate: It is the opinion of 72% of small business (< $25 million, < 500 employees) owners surveyed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in July 2012 that the Affordable Care Act would impinge on hiring decisions.
Let’s compare the opinions expressed in the July 2012 survey with what’s been happening in terms of small business hiring lately. Business Insider posted the reports from the National Federation of Independent Business’s 2013 survey on hiring — hint: Look for the number in yellow.
What does that number in yellow mean? Business Insider explains:
“The latest survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses came out yesterday, and mostly it was pretty meh. These surveys have shown pretty consistent dissatisfaction with the economy since the end of the recession, and nothing much changed. But one number looked really good. There was a huge surge in companies saying they intended to hire more people.” (emphasis added)
We might reasonably conclude that whatever the business executives said in July 2012, when it came down to actual hiring decisions and personnel planning that good old First Law of Human Relations kicked in. The only reason to hire or fire anyone is that you have too many or too few employed to deliver an acceptable level of service to your customers. Period.
Who’s paying those taxes? The Republicans make it sound like you, and only you will be paying increased taxes to cover ACA expenditures. There is another side to the story:
“While a few of the changes directly affect the average American, tax increases primarily affect high earners (those making over $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 as a family), large businesses (those making over $250,000), and the health care industry, while tax credits primarily affect low-to-middle income Americans and small businesses.” [ACA facts]
For a full list and explication of the taxes associated with the Affordable Care Act click here.
Millions of people will lose their health insurance! No. This story comes to us from a misreading of the Congressional Budget Office study of the Affordable Care Act. CNN did a bit of fact checking:
“The story, which is more than a year old, cites a Congressional Budget Office study that estimates that as many as 20 million workers could lose their employer-based health insurance by 2019 because of Obamacare. But, the study goes on to say that this is the worst case scenario the CBO has looked at, and that it is equally possible that the number of people on company-based plans might increase by 3 million over that time period because of the new health care law.
A more recent study by the Stanford School of Medicine and published this week estimate that 37 million people may dump their employer-based coverage and buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges because they could get a better deal.” [CNN 9/27/13]
Millions will be without health care insurance! No. And there’s no reason to replicate the fact-checking done already on the various employment myths out there concerning the Affordable Care Act when Fact Check.Org has done the job for all to see on this segment of the subject.
The Way Off Broadway Opening
Meanwhile back on the Campaign Against Americans Tour — the Republicans scheduled a stop in Gastonia, North Carolina. A bit of background — there’s a hot Senate race in NC, wherein the local GOP would like to unseat incumbent Senator Kay Hagan. How warm?
“Last month, the conservative Americans for Prosperity launched a $1.6million TV ad campaign criticizing Hagan over her support of the law. This month The Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group, went up with ads defending Hagan.” [Charlotte Observer]
Anyone who believes that the “townhall” in Gastonia is anything other than a campaign stop for the four Republican candidates who are vying for the chance to oppose Hagan in the next round of elections should take a quick dose of Reality.
Meanwhile, please expect your cable news outlets to provide Congressional Republicans an almost endless amount of air time to repeat, and repeat, and repeat, the same talking points they’ve outlined in their anti-Affordable Care Act campaign. And, prepare to watch as Nevada Governor Sandoval runs as fast as he can to catch back up with the Poutrage Express powered by the right wing of his party. Far be it from that party which has ceremonially voted over 40 times to repeal the law to actually pitch in and help make it work.