Posts tagged: Obamacare
Comments from U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers about the future of the Affordable Care Act published last week have incited a firestorm of criticism among right-leaning media outlets suggesting surrender by the GOP. In an unrecorded interview with a reporter, two opinion-page editors and the publisher of The Spokesman-Review on Thursday, McMorris Rodgers was asked whether the news that 600,000 Washington residents had signed up for new health care plans through the state exchange signaled that “Obamacare” was here to stay. “Probably,” the five-term congresswoman and chairwoman of the House Republican Conference said. She then laid out ways in which those exchanges could be reformed in order to provide what she called greater choice for consumers, many of which would require major reforms to President Barack Obama’s signature health care law/Kip Hill, SR. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Do you think that deep down in their hearts that the Tea-publicans know that McMorris Rodgers is right — that Obamacare isn't going to be repealed?
The numbers are in from the YourHealthIdaho insurance exchange open enrollment period, and it turns out that 76,061 Idahoans signed up for health insurance plans through the exchange, nearly double the expected number. The federal government’s target for Idaho was 40,000 during the six-month open enrollment period. “We have significantly exceeded those estimated targets,” said Amy Dowd, executive director of the exchange. “It’s very exciting, very, very encouraging that we are on the right path. Idahoans are interested in getting insurance for themselves and their families.” The YourHealthIdaho board has voted to keep fees at 1.5 percent of plan costs through the end of calendar year 2015; that’s compared to the fee on federally operated insurance exchanges of 3.5 percent. Exchange officials are estimating that Idahoans are saving $4.4 million on their health insurance due to the lower fee for the state exchange/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: What does the average Idahoan know about the state health exchange that the average Idaho GOP legislator doesn't?
Republican candidates in Idaho’s primary are being surveyed to gauge their fealty to the state GOP’s platform, which includes a call to repeal Obamacare and resist implementation. But party officials should take their cue from the realists among them. While they may not like the law, they see that the battle is over and further resistance is counterproductive. “It is the law, so I’m trying to work in that context,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told USA Today. U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, pictured, told the S-R editorial board much the same on Thursday, saying the law is likely here to stay and the focus should be on reforming the exchanges to offer more choices and ensure that the newly covered can gain access to doctors. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who wisely refused to sign the loyalty oath, doesn’t like Obamacare either, but he knows when it’s time to stop debating and start governing. He has supported the state Legislature’s decision to establish its own exchange/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Do you suppose that all the uber-con GOP legislative candidates lined up to fight Obamacare in Idaho realize that their fight is futile — that they're just trying to score points with followers? Or do they really think they have a chance to torpedo the Supreme Court-approved law?
Item: Government shutdown begins over health care feud/Associated Press
More Info: Congress plunged the nation into a partial government shutdown Tuesday as a protracted dispute over President Barack Obama’s signature health care law reached a boiling point, forcing some 800,000 federal workers off the job. Obama readied a midday statement to the nation as Democrats and Republicans maintained a blame-each-other duel on Capitol Hill. Even as Obama prepared to meet with citizens signing up for his health care program and then make a lunch-hour speech in the Rose Garden, the White House cut back to a skeletal staff. The U.S. Capitol canceled tours not personally led by Congress members.
Question: How long do you think the Republicans and Democrats are going to play chicken with the government shutdown?
WASHINGTON — Compromise elusive, Republicans and Democrats engaged in finger-pointing Monday just hours before the first government shutdown in 17 years, driven by an intractable budget dispute over President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
“This law is not ready for prime time,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who insisted that the Democratic-controlled Senate act quickly and accept a House measure that would avert a shutdown — but only by delaying further implementation of the health care law for a year.
“Where, oh where, has the Senate gone?” asked Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
House Democrats soundly rejected the GOP alternative and pleaded for an end to the fighting. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., implored Boehner to be “the leader of this body” — Democrats and Republicans.
The Senate returns shortly after 2 p.m. EDT — just 10 hours before a threatened shutdown — and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his Democrats have made it clear that they want a straightforward bill to keep the government operating and won’t accept any GOP-crafted legislation that delays or unravels the 3-year-old health care law. Full story.
How likely do you think it is that the government will shut down and how concerned about it are you?
On his Facebook wall last night, Councilman MikeK posts: “
Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador blamed a potential federal government shutdown next month on what he sees as President Barack Obama's unwillingness to delay the health care reform law's further implementation. With a shutdown, there “wouldn't be a significant change” visible to most Americans, the Republican said Tuesday in an interview with The Press editorial board. A shutdown is possible at the end of this month because the U.S. House and Senate can't agree on a budget bill for continued government funding. The two houses are battling over funding for the Affordable Care Act, known commonly as Obamacare. A recent House version of a proposed stopgap budget, known as a “continuing resolution,” includes an item that would defund Obamacare. That won't go anywhere in the Democratic controlled Senate. So if the Senate strips the defunding provision out of the House budget, Labrador said a delay of Obamacare would be a great compromise/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Do you think the 1st District supports Congressman Labrador's continuing fight against Obamacare, even if it means a shutdown of the federal government?
The GOP-controlled House voted Friday to cripple President Barack Obama’s health care law as part of a risky ploy that threatens a government shutdown in a week and a half. The fight is coming on a stopgap funding measure required to keep the government fully running after the Oct. 1 start of the new budget year. Typically, such measures advance with sweeping bipartisan support, but tea party activists forced GOP leaders — against their better judgment — to add a provision to cripple the health care law that’s the signature accomplishment of Obama’s first term. The 230-189 vote sets the stage for a confrontation with the Democratic-led Senate, which promises to strip the health care provision from the bill next week and challenge the House to pass it as a simple, straightforward funding bill that President Barack Obama will sign/Andrew Taylor, AP. More here.
Question: Do you support/oppose this vote by the U.S. House of Representatives?
WASHINGTON – American workers and their employers saw another rise in health insurance premiums this year as the total cost of employer-provided health benefits ticked up 4 percent for family plans and 5 percent for individual plans, according to a closely watched national survey.
The 2013 increases are lower than in many previous years, undercutting claims by critics of President Barack Obama’s health care law that the 2010 legislation is dramatically driving up costs.
Nor is there much evidence that many employers are dropping coverage – 57 percent of firms with at least three employees offered health benefits in 2013, according to the report by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. More here.
Have you seen an increase in your health insurance premiums?
Your Health Idaho ( www.yourhealthidaho.org) is attractive, easy to navigate and informative. It looks like Idaho. This is not a site that will intimidate the wary, nor incite those who remain steadfastly opposed to Obamacare. Unfortunately, what it does not yet have is a matrix of the plans and rates the insurance companies will be selling; that information is now available in every surrounding state with the possible exception of Utah, where the individual and small business markets are split. With just 40 days and some hours and minutes to go, Idahoans anxious to sign up will not have much time for buying a policy. Under the best of circumstances, everyone knows how complicated a process buying the right coverage can be. The calculations will be further complicated by a separate determination of how much premium assistance will be available, depending on household income. Consumer Connectors, the designated helpers in Idaho, has a steep learning curve ahead/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.
Obamacare is coming, even to Idaho. While other states including Washington have worked for years to implement it, and now are unveiling comprehensive health coverage options for the uninsured, Idaho’s Republican-controlled state government tried for years to fight it. The long fight left a legacy: Tens of thousands of the poorest of Idaho’s poor will still be without affordable care under the Affordable Care Act.
On Oct. 1 the 222,533 Idahoans who have no health insurance will be able to go to a website and seek more comprehensive, affordable coverage than was available in the past. Federal law requires it, and federal taxes will pay for it.
But adults with incomes between 26 percent and 100 percent of the poverty level will be out of luck; no assistance will be available. Read more. John Webster, SR
Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, critics have piled on the scary warnings about how federal mandates would mean death panels, individuals would be dragged off to jail because they couldn’t afford government-mandated insurance and small businesses would be boarded up all along Main Street. As the provisions of the act finally begin to take effect, Obamacare is turning out to be a pretty good deal for small businesses like Express Publishing, Inc., which publishes this newspaper. Obamacare requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums collected on patient care. That includes premiums paid by companies like the Express, which began providing health care coverage for employees in 1980. It turns out that our insurance provider, among many, missed that target this year. So this week, it sent us a substantial refund/Idaho Mountain Express, Sun Valley. More here.
Question: Still convinced Obamacare is no good for Idaho?
What will Obamacare cost, and who will it help? In Washington state, where final rates emerged this week, it will cost less, cover more people, and provide more comprehensive benefits than consumers get today. On Thursday, the office of state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced its final decisions on the rates and policies to be offered for sale on Washington’s new insurance-selling website, the Health Plan Finder. Located at http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org, the site is already running. The new rates are not on it yet, however, and insurance sales will not begin until Oct. 1. The policies it sells will take effect starting Jan. 1/John Webster, SR. More here. (SR illustration)
Question: Is it possible that Republicans are wrong about Obamacare? Less cost? More covered? Hmm.
In his latest Cheers & Jeers column, Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune give jeers …
” … to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and Congressman Raul Labrador, both R-Idaho. The latest D.C. twaddle has Republicans threatening to shut down the federal government to force an Obamacare repeal. Risch is among 11 GOP senators who have signed Utah Republican Mike Lee's threat. Labrador is among 66 Republicans who have endorsed a similar effort in the House from North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows. Whatever Risch and Labrador are up to here, it's entirely self-serving: Playing to the GOP's fringe is a certain winner in the all-important closed primary. Risch and Labrador are betting President Obama and the Democratic Senate so fear a shutdown that they'll defund Obamacare.” Full Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Do you agree/disagree with this Jeer?
Could it possibly be a coincidence that Barack Obama has illegally postponed the imposition of Obamacare until after the next round of congressional elections? Even though the execrable Nancy Pelosi tried to make the case that we should celebrate Obamacare on the Fourth of July (Dependence Day?), congressional Democrats (other than Pelosi) understand full well that the implementation of Obamacare will cost many of them their jobs. The damage that just the anticipation of Obamacare has already done to the economy is easily quantified. Many employers have elected to reduce the hours that their employees may work to below 30 hours per week to escape the mandatory coverage provisions for full-time employees. Other small businesses have laid off employees or refused to grow beyond 49 workers to escape the mandate/Michael Costello, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Why do you think President Obama postponed imposition of a key provision of Obamacare for a year?
Amber Williams has joined the ranks of working moms. Williams, whose daughter, Isabelle, is 4 months old, recently returned to her job as manager of a Spokane bank, where she takes short breaks throughout the workday to express breast milk for her daughter. Many moms like her stand to benefit from a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires insurers to cover the costs of renting or purchasing breastfeeding supplies, plus support and counseling. Williams’ insurance covered her double electric pump, which would have cost hundreds of dollars out of pocket. “It was huge,” she said. “It was a big relief and, of course, it freed up money to buy the other big things that insurance doesn’t pay for”/Chelsea Bannach, SR. More here. (Colin Mulvany SR photo: Amber Williams, with her daughter, Isabelle, prepares her breast milk to be stored in the freezer for later feedings)
If cleverness is a disease in politics, it’s endemic with some of the folks involved in implementing Gov. Butch Otter and Barrack Obama’s health insurance exchange. Exhibit A: The insurance exchange law passed by the Legislature and signed by Otter says “the exchange shall be financially self-supporting and shall not request any financial support from the state and shall not have the power to tax or encumber state assets.” So, you might wonder, how is it that the state Department of Health and Welfare managed to give nearly $400,000 to the insurance exchange to begin operating? Well, the key word, it seems, is “request.” The exchange didn’t “request” money (at least, perhaps, through official channels)/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Does Wayne Hoffman have a good point here?
Concerns about the Affordable Care Act being unaffordable for those purchasing policies through health care exchanges were understandable, because the law didn’t do enough to contain costs. But the worry that people would be priced out of the market looks to be overblown. Washington, Oregon and California have released the prices of policies on their exchanges, and the results are encouraging. Transparency and competition have served to keep prices below forecasted levels. California’s prices, which were released Friday, beat the 2009 Congressional Budget Office’s projection by a fairly comfortable margin, according to the Washington Post. CBO pegged the monthly premiums for a silver plan (70 percent coverage) at $520. A more recent estimate from the consulting firm Milliman put the price at $450. But the actual cost for a Los Angeles County resident ranges from $225 to $325, depending on which of the 13 insurance company plans are selected/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.
Question: Do you still oppose Obamacare?
Idaho’s new state-based health insurance exchange board gathered for its first meeting today, and each of its 19 members had already received a somewhat surprising welcome – an anonymous call threatening a lawsuit. “I got a call from a guy who did not want to identify what firm he worked for,” said Stephen Weeg, the board’s interim chairman. “He just wanted to give us all a notice that within three months’ time we would all be sued for being on this board – I think he called everybody on this board, just to let us know that we were already in trouble.” Weeg said his first reaction was, “Wait a minute – we’re just doing what the law requires”/Betsy Russell, SR. More here.
Question: Are you ready for the state health exchange?