The Health Care Hot Potato

In what appears to be a shining example of passing the buck, it seems that the House really just passed the hot potato of health care to the Senate. It does not appear that the House even made the effort of coming up with a real plan that the Senate could conceivably pass and instead forwarded an un-passable bill, because apparently House members have better things to do than to actually read a bill that would lead to at least 24 million Americans losing health insurance coverage immediately with an estimated 52 million losing coverage by 2020. Here’s How Every Member Voted on the House Health Care Bill.

The updated Congressional Budget Office score on the AHCA is expected to be released the week of May 22nd.  This does not make any of this better, however, it should be reassuring in knowing that the American Health Care Act will not in the words of Paul Ryan, become “The Law of The Land”.  There are many words for the AHCA, however “Law of the Land” are not among them.

What the Senate really needs to do is work on a solution to health care costs. The bottom line is that GOP senators can cut Obamacare taxes or preserve coverage for millions — but probably not both .  Unless, as mentioned in a “A Health Insurance Roadmap“,  moving to legitimate pricing in health care would result in annual savings of 33% or $1 Trillion Dollars, because our current Health care costs are bankrupting us. With that said, here’s How the Affordable Care Act Drove Down Personal Bankruptcy, Expanded health insurance helped cut the number of filings by half, so the ACA is helping in this area.

For a comprehensive comparison of the AHCA and the ACA, you can compare proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation.  It does seem as though the Senate is serious about actually putting some thought into their actions as the Senate Moves ACA Change Bill to Slow Lane After House Vote which makes this a good time to tell the Senate what you want by signing the petition to introduce a practical and fair health insurance solution.

The biggest issue that we have to face as a nation is that of pre-existing conditions.  This is the core of why there was a need for the Affordable Care Act in the first place.  The ACA allowed any person to obtain health insurance regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 27 percent of adults under age 65 have health conditions that would likely leave them uninsurable under practices that existed before the health care overhaul.  As Jimmy Kimmel reiterated this week on the Response to Emotional Monologue About Baby & Health Care Debate, there is no reason why someone who gets a bad roll of the genetic dice should be unable to have health insurance. The GOP’s Obamacare replacement bill would protect just 5 percent of people with pre-existing conditions with the bottom line of the $23 billion in funding to cover those deemed uninsurable would be sufficient to cover just 110,000 Americans which is roughly 5% of the 2.2 million current enrollees with some type of pre-existing conditions.  And even if the states were to add in the entire $100 billion of the AHCA’s Patient and State Stability Fund, this would still only be sufficient to cover a total of 600,000 people with pre-existing conditions (30%). And if your lucky enough to be part of that 5-30%, you’ll get to pay a higher premium since insurance companies will be able to charge more potentially if you let your coverage lapse.  But wait, even if you randomly drew the good health card, The House Health Plan Makes Your Genes a Preexisting Condition and while this is not a certainty in these uncharted waters, you may end up being uninsurable even if you are the pinnacle of good health.

No one is safe under the AHCA as it does seem to be an equal opportunity health insurance destroyer. The G.O.P. Bill Could Affect Employer Health Coverage, Too (about half of all Americans have health insurance through their employer).  In an estimate by the C.B.O. of the earlier version of the AHCA, seven million fewer Americans would have insurance through work since employers would be freed from the current ACA penalties having their insurance meet a certain affordability standard which in other words, also means that employers could have workers pay a larger share of insurance premiums.   As noted in “A Health Insurance Roadmap“, the better solution is in keeping the ACA and removing the employer tax deduction which create a $450 million annual savings.  If you like this, sign the petition to key Senators to introduce a practical and fair health insurance solution.

As the ACA does currently remain the law of the land, the current uncertainty as to what cost-sharing subsidies will be funded by Congress and the White House is causing insurance companies to reconsider their participation in the Marketplaces.  Aetna to Obamacare: We’re outta here  joining Humana who completely abandoned the individual market for 2018 and United Health Care which has pulled out of multiple states. BlueCross Blue Shield is stepping up in Tennessee to fill a potential void in Knoxville, Tennessee (Go Blue!) while Anthem has turned a record profit.  And with other good news on this front, So Much For Obamacare’s ‘Death Spiral’ As Insurers Look To Expand. The U.S. House has stated that “Government Doesn’t Owe Health Insurers: House to Court” even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promised full risk corridors payments, insurers say.

Though the good news is that if you are wealthy, you’ll be receiving a nice tax cut in the long term as Warren Buffett says Donald Trump’s Obamacare replacement is ‘a huge tax cut for guys like me’.  The Oracle of Omaha stated that health care costs are eating away at the U.S. economy like a tapeworm and that the AHCA would have reduced his federal income taxes by 17% if the law had been in effect then.  These are not just words, as the fourth richest man in the world has vowed to donate the majority of his fortune to charity.  It seems that the Republicans have taken a page from Marie Antoinette’s playbook by effectively saying “Let them eat cake”,  and we all know what happened to her (hint, it was not covered by her health insurance). Here are the 4 ways the Republican health care bill will benefit the rich.

In news that would make Cheech & Chong smile, a new estimate shows Medical marijuana use may result in less Medicaid prescriptions to the tune of $1.01 billion nationally in spending on prescriptions in fee for service medicaid.  Yes, this is another way to save a Billion with the ACA. Perhaps, this may explain why President Trump stated on Twitter that “Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do –everybody does. ObamaCare is dead! But our healthcare will soon be great.” No, seriously, he said this to Australian Prime Minister Trumbull after the AHCA was passed after his White House celebration with GOP leaders. To which Senator Bernie Sanders replied “Thank you Mr. Trump for admitting that universal health care is the better way to go.  I’ll be sure to quote you on the floor of the Senate” (great video).

Of course, now writing about health insurance is becoming dangerous as Health secretary Tom Price praises police for arresting reporter for asking questions about pre-existing conditions.  Seriously, this no laughing matter as at Jeff Sessions hearing: Activist’s giggle leads to conviction.  And because, I can’t resist, I don’t have details of how the Russian Health Care system works and cannot comment on this being a model for the U.S. health insurance market. If you are curious, you can find out more about Russian healthcare: The Russian healthcare system explained.  And no, these are not headlines from The Onion.

If you, a family member, a friend, an associate or anyone else you know has a pre-existing medical condition or has health insurance through the ACA, and is tired of expensive insulin, $600 epi-pens and so on, now is the time to make your voice heard.  Sign the petition to Senator Lamar Alexander (and other key Senators) to introduce a practical and fair health insurance solution and then share it.  Talk is cheap, this is the time for action and your support is needed, we can make a difference if we join our voices.  If you don’t make your voice heard on this and you wind up with no health insurance, lesser benefits or higher premiums, you have no one else to blame but yourself.  Please join me and those who’ve signed the petition to introduce a practical and fair health insurance solution.  And a huge thank you to those who’ve already signed the petition and shared it.

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