In the “hypocrite accountability” files: a letter is circulating around the House suggesting that Republicans who want to cut health care should reject their own government-funded health care, too. Drafted by New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the letter points out that Republican calls for health care repeal are a sham:
“If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk,” Crowley writes in a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Read more
Posted on Thursday, November 18, 2010 @ 07:51 AM
Igor Volsky – 35 Economists File Brief In Health Reform Challenge: Individual Mandate Is ‘Necessary’ And ‘Appropriate’
From the Wonk Room:
Thirty-five economists have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Florida-led multi-sate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The Florida case alleges that the law’s minimum coverage requirement — also known as the individual mandate — represents an “unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of individuals living in the Plaintiffs’ respective states” and violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. “The Act is directed to a lack of or failure to engage in activity that is driven by the choices of individual Americans. Such inactivity by its nature cannot be deemed to be in commerce or to have any substantial effect on commerce, whether interstate or otherwise,” the suit contends. “As a result, the Act cannot be upheld under the Commerce Clause, Const. art. I, § 8.” In October, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson dismissed three of the Plaintiff’s claims, but allowed their challenge to the law’s minimum coverage provision and a separate complaint about the law’s Medicaid expansion provision to move forward.
From Kaiser health News:
Less than 24 hours after Republicans won control of the House, soon-to-be-speaker John Boehner denounced the new health care law, saying it would “kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the world, and bankrupt our country” — and renewed his vow to try to repeal it. Kaiser Health News asked people around the country to answer the following question: “If you ended up in an elevator with Rep. Boehner, what single thing would you urge him to do about health care in this country? (Kaiser Health News).
Source: Why It’s Time to Panic
From The Commonwealth Fund:
October 7, 2010
Using 30 years of cross-national data on the 15-year survival rates of men and women, this study sought to determine whether poor health care system performance or other risk factors, such as obesity or smoking, account for the lower relative gains in life expectancy in the United States compared with those of other industrialized countries. The researchers found that even though the U.S. has achieved gains in 15-year survival rates over three decades, life expectancy has declined relative to other wealthy nations, which have experienced even greater gains. This suggests that the U.S. health care system is in part to blame for relatively lower life expectancy.
From Kaiser Health News:
[Oct 07, 2010]
In this Kaiser Health News column, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who has a new book about the health care debate, writes: “Six months after the passage of health care reform, it is easy to forget how far we have come in such a short time. With the daily drumbeat of attacks on the law, full of distortions and appeals to people’s fears, it is no wonder that many Americans still have serious doubts about whether they will be better off. So this is a good time to remind ourselves of what has gone right with the law — and how much better our health care will be in the coming years if we give the new law a chance and work together to make it a success” (10/4). Read the entire column.
[Oct 07, 2010]
The Obama administration has granted “dozens” of waivers that will allow insurers and companies – most notably McDonald’s – to continue offering health benefits that do not meet new health law requirements in an effort “to stave off threats by some health insurers to abandon markets, drop out of the business altogether or refuse to sell certain policies,” The New York Times reports. “To date, the administration has given about 30 insurers, employers and union plans, responsible for covering about one million people, one-year waivers on the new rules that phase out annual limits on coverage for limited-benefit plans, also known as ‘mini-meds.’ Applicants said their premiums would increase significantly, in some cases doubling or more.” Insurers have also threatened to withdraw from the market for children-only health plans because of a new requirement that they cover kids regardless of health conditions (Abelson, 10/6).
“Companies like Jack in the Box Inc., McDonald’s, the United Agricultural Benefit Trust and the United Federation of Teachers Welfare Fund, were allowed to maintain their current levels” of coverage, CongressDaily reports. “An HHS spokesperson said the waiver program was designed to ensure continuous coverage for the workers until 2014, when they can apply for tax credits to obtain insurance through the exchanges. The companies had to prove that without the waiver their employee premiums would increase significantly or they would drop coverage” (Fung, 10/6).
Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Most health insurers in Minnesota have yet to write new individual policies for sick children, despite requirements under the new federal health care law that aimed to start such coverage two weeks ago. The policies for children — one of the few uncontroversial areas of the new law — were supposed to be available starting Sept. 23. But rather than offer individual plans that might attract mostly kids who are already sick, and thus expensive to cover, insurers have cut off or reduced their offerings of individual policies” (Yee, 10/6).
Separately, CongressDaily reports: “The nation’s largest health insurance industry lobbying group says it supports the creation of state insurance exchanges under the healthcare overhaul law, but fault lines are showing between how much regulatory authority the industry believes exchanges should have and what Congress intended in the law.” They believe existing insurance departments should remain separate from the exchanges (McCarthy, 10/6).
What could Republicans do about these and other aspects of the law if they reclaim the House? Reuters reports, “Republicans could keep their promises to stop healthcare reform even if they cannot repeal it, simply by blocking legislation needed to pay for it, one expert argued on Wednesday” (Fox, 10/6).
Earlier, related KHN story: GOP Plan To Change Or Repeal Health Law Could Bring New Complications (Carey, 9/20)
From the Health Beat Blog:
Summary: A report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that came out last week spurred a flurry of headlines suggesting that fat people are responsible for the high cost of health care in America. “CBO– Obesity Will Decimate Future Health Costs and Care,” blared one headline. The story began: “While our nation’s obesity problem has trashed health care and insurance rates, the worst is yet to come.” In other words: forget about reform. Folks who eat too much will wipe out any savings.
It is true that obesity has become epidemic. As the CBO study points out, “From 1987 to 2007 the share of adult Americans who are obese has more than doubled –from 13 percent to 28 percent.” Over the same span, the amount that we spend on health problems associated with obesity has soared: “health care spending per adult grew substantially in all weight categories between 1987 and 2007,” the researchers write, but “the rate of growth was much more rapid among the obese. Spending per capita for obese adults exceeded spending for adults of normal weight by about 8 percent in 1987 and by about 38% in 2007.”
It is easy to assume this means that the rise in the percentage of Americans who sport a body-mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 30, accounts for roughly one-third of the rise in health care spending. But that is not what the report says.