Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And By the Way...

While much of my objection to the current incarnations of the House and Senate "Health Care Reform" bills has been on affordability grounds, let's just get this up front: there is nothing in either bill that would reduce the bureaucracy and storms of pointless, redundant paperwork, or that would actually reduce the costs of premiums in toto. Here's a chart by Nate Silver. I have problems with how he breaks down the amount of money the family in question will have to pay out-of-pocket, but that's not my concern here. My concern is that in comparing the various costs his family will have to pay in 2016, the total prices charged by the insurance company are essentially the same. As Matt Taibbi pointed out, allowing insurance companies, Pharma, and medical providers to continue doing business as usual was not supposed to be the goal of this reform effort. And for this, this big fucking humbug, we have the privilege of being forced to enrich the coffers of the already well-to-do.

To recap my ongoing argument with Kevin Drum (who is an inveterate optimist on this matter) in his comments:
Medicare buy-in is also now bye-byes. The plan is going to end up being a fat wet kiss to insurance and Pharma, and a financial burden to people with incomes under 100k and more than 40k. AND there is a good likelihood that after 9 long freaking years, we'll still be looking at 24 million people uninsured into 2019, so there goes your "universal". This is turning into a months long exercise in utter humiliation for liberals, and the only thing we are getting out of it is another administration pandering to the right and flipping the bird to progressive frustration. Kevin, it sucks, and speaking on behalf of all the people who do NOT make a shitload of money in this country, it's a millionaire's idea of affordability, given the imprimatur of affordability by media millionaires nodding and grunting their approval. The recent DHS report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says this about the affordability of this great plan:

"The (Senate bill) specifies maximum out of pocket limits in 2014 equal to the corresponding maximums as defined by the Internal Revenue Code for high-deductible health plans. We estimate that these limits would be $6,645 for an individual and $13, 290 for a family with qualified creditable coverage (including employer-sponsored health insurance). For future years, the limits are indexed to the growth in the average health insurance premium in the U.S. Under this approach, the proportion of health care costs above the out-of-pocket maximum would be relatively stable over time. For the basic 'bronze' benefit plan for individuals, with an actuarial value of 60%, we estimate that the cost-sharing percentage applicable before the out-of-pocket maximum is reached would be about 76% in 2014 and later. The corresponding cost-sharing rate for family coverage is 64%...

We also considered the required penalty associated with the individual mandate if they chose to remain uninsured...Our model indicated that roughly 65% of those eligible for the Exchanges would choose to take such coverage, with the principal incentive being the level of premium assistance available....individuals or families for whom the 'bronze' plan premium level (reduced by the refundable premium assistance tax credit, if applicable) would exceed 8% of income would not be subject to penalty if they chose not to enroll in the Exchange plan. We estimate that this provision would exempt...about 16% of the non-aged population.""

Fuck that shit.
And this:
Millions WILL Remain Uninsured. There is NOTHING in this bill that will do that. They will continue to stick it to consumers because there is nothing in this bill that amounts to any kind of protection for affordability. Maybe in your world it is affordable to pay almost $14,000 a year for insurance plus co-pays on the order of 30% until you've spent $10K out of pocket. In my world, and the world of the people I know, this is not in any way affordable. Who's living in a dream world, Kevin?

As for losing a chance that may not come again for 40 years, if the Right gets back in charge down the road, there is nothing to stop them from gutting or rescinding any bill that passes anyway, so why not try for something worth fighting for? This bill as Lieberman wants it amounts to the government holding us for ransom on behalf of corporate profit.
Finally, my comment at the NYTimes on the fallout for Joe Lieberman after his shameful display of cupidity this week:
“I don’t feel like a spoiler,” Mr. Lieberman said.

That's because you couldn't feel with both hands and a feeling-hand dog to guide you, you disgraceful egomaniac. You haven't had a human feeling for years, as exemplified by your present inability to care one whit about the thousands who are dying while you grandstand and preen in the spotlight.

And this is the man all the Democrats are shaking in their boots over. Oh, Mary, pleeeze.
Yes, it's going to be a fine season of goodwill toward men.

No comments: