Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Nobody who isn’t comatose thinks President Trump and former President Obama are similar. The only thing that they have in common is that they’ve both been called Mr. President. I wrote this post because Rachel Maddow actually said something worthwhile when she said President Trump’s inaugural speech “was militant and it was dark. The crime, the gangs, the drugs, this ‘American carnage,’ disrepair, decay. You can’t imagine the outgoing president giving a speech like that.'”

She’s right. Former President Obama would’ve papered over the problems. Let’s correct that. For 8 years, he papered over the nation’s problems. Obamacare wasn’t the solution to a problem. It was the Democrats’ holy grail, the thing that no other Democrat had achieved.

President Obama left office personally popular. President Trump enters office being personally unpopular. That isn’t the only difference. President Obama’s policies were rejected each time President Obama’s name wasn’t on the ballot. By contrast, many of President Trump’s policy initiatives are highly popular. Tax reform is one of those initiatives. Another thing that’s popular, except with Democrats, is enforcing existing immigration laws. Still another Trump initiative that’s popular where it’s applicable is reining in the EPA and other environmental regulatory agencies.

President Trump isn’t the great orator that President Obama was. The thing about Obama, though, was that he never moved the needle in terms of support for his policies. In the weeks ahead, President Trump will move votes on his initiatives because they’re solutions to things that are broken.

Though this isn’t entirely on point, another major difference between these presidents is that President Trump has actually run big things before taking office. When his VA secretary is confirmed and sworn in, rest assured that VA administrators’ heads will roll. Trump is a man of action. Obama was a talker who didn’t get things done.

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Tina Liebling’s most recent e-letter update is a portrait of the DFL’s hysteria. I first noticed Rep. Liebling’s hysteria when I spotted this hysterical tweet, which said “House GOP passed plan to let insurance companies sell junk insurance w/o coverage for things like cancer, Lyme disease, autism.”

Rep. Liebling didn’t like it when I challenged her by saying “We’ll determine what’s junk & what isn’t if you don’t mind. Your record of predicting what’s good for us isn’t exactly inspiring.” Rep. Liebling’s reply to my initial tweet said “If you get cancer and your insurance policy doesn’t cover cancer, it’s junk.” I followed that up by saying “Why think that people, consulting with their physicians, can’t figure this out? Catastrophic policies are great for young people. Your thinking seems based on the theory that people can’t figure these things out. Shame on you for thinking that!”

Rep. Liebling’s I-know-what’s-best-for-you thinking continued in her e-letter update:

Republican legislators are also taking the opportunity to help corporate insurance companies. They are proposing sweeping and risky changes to the insurance system–including allowing for-profit health insurance companies to operate in Minnesota. Changes to the insurance system could potentially cause even more instability and rate increases next year, but the GOP in both House and Senate have rushed them through committees. They refuse to pass relief for consumers without their other proposals. This is holding hostage the over 100,000 Minnesotans who need insurance in place before the end of open enrollment–January 31.

Republican legislators have said that they’re tying reforms to the relief because they don’t want to have to revisit this DFL-created crisis next year. This is what Speaker Daudt said in this statement:

“Our plan provides emergency premium aid while preserving access for life-saving care for thousands of Minnesotans struggling under the effects of Obamacare,” said House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “Minnesotans know we need to start fixing this problem now so we don’t find ourselves in the same situation next year. Republicans have and will continue to lead on this issue and offer concrete solutions to fix the health care mess Democrats created.”

It’s clear that Rep. Liebling just wants to spend money without fixing this crisis. Speaker Daudt has put a higher priority on fixing this DFL-created crisis.

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It’s apparent that Democrats are overplaying the CBO’s report on repealing the ACA. It’s apparent after reading this Washington Post article.

That’s apparent based on the opening paragraph of their article, which says “At least 18 million people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan, estimates a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.”

The first telling part is when CBO says 18,000,000 “people would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan.” That sentence alone nullifies the importance of the CBO’s analysis. That’s because Republicans have consistently said that they’d pass the repeal and replace in the same piece of legislation. They’ve also promised to not let anyone get left hanging while transitioning from Obamacare to the new and improved health care system.

This doom and gloom is helping Democrats overplay their hand:

The number of people without insurance would grow to about 32 million within the first decade if congressional Republicans follow a 2015 plan to repeal the health-care law without an alternative, the new report says. It also estimates that health insurance premiums for people buying individual non-group coverage would double within a decade, further complicating GOP promises that people will not lose coverage under their plan.

It’s clear that the new plan to replace the ACA will be significantly different than anything that’s been used before. Further, Democrats are setting themselves up for failure. The only way that the Democrats’ strategy will work is if Republicans totally drop the ball. The chances of that happening with President Trump, Vice President Pence, HHS Secretary Price, Speaker Ryan and Sen. John Barrasso leading the push is virtually nonexistent.

Rest assured that President Trump’s first State of the Union Address will include details of what the replace plan will include. I’d expect that legislation will have been submitted by then. Further, I wouldn’t be surprised if the legislation will gotten its first hearings by then. Once President Trump blasts this information out to the nation, the Democrats’ handwringing and demagoguery will put them in God’s little acre — between a rock and a hard place.

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If there’s anything more disheartening than the Democrats’ dishonesty about the Anything But Affordable Care Act, I can’t find it. Elizabeth Warren’s op-ed is the latest in a lengthy list of dishonest anti-Republican diatribes.

In the opening paragraph of her diatribe, Sen. Warren, aka Pocahontas (according to President-Elect Trump), she said “For eight years, Republicans in Congress have complained about health care in America, heaping most of the blame on President Obama. Meanwhile, they’ve hung out on the sidelines making doomsday predictions and cheering every stumble, but refusing to lift a finger to actually improve our health care system.”

It must be nice to be able to outright lie and never worry that the Corrupt Media will expose you as a liar. The man who will soon be the US HHS Secretary, Tom Price, has introduced the Empowering Patients First Act “in the 111th, 112th and 113th Congresses.” Sen. Pocahontas can criticize Dr. Price’s plan. That’s fair game. She can’t say it doesn’t exist. That’s lying, which isn’t tolerated at LFR.

This is laughable:

Many Massachusetts families are watching this play out, worried about what will happen, including thousands from across the Commonwealth that I joined at Faneuil Hall on Sunday to rally in support of the ACA. Hospitals and insurers are watching too, concerned that repealing the ACA will create chaos in the health insurance market and send costs spiraling out of control.

It’s frightening to think that a US senator is either too blind to see that health insurance premium prices are already spiraling out of control or too dishonest to admit that the ACA, aka Obamacare, has caused health insurance premiums and deductibles to skyrocket.

Why won’t Sen. Pocahontas admit that “Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming will have only one insurance company offering plans through the Obamacare health insurance exchange in 2017, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation”? Sen. Warren said that the Republicans’ plan is “repeal and run”, which is catchy. Meanwhile, the Democrats’ plan for passing the ACA was to hide the product until the final product was voted on. Does Sen. Pocahontas remember this infamous quote?

I don’t have a clever slogan for the Democrats’ strategy. I’m just left with the responsibility of telling people how Democrats ignored them while shoving terrible legislation down our throats.

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Yesterday, I got my weekly e-letter update from my state representative, Jim Knoblach. Jim wrote “The 2017 Health Care Emergency Aid and Access bill is on track to soon reach the House floor for a full vote of the body after Democrats delayed passage last week. While the governor’s proposal provides immediate relief, House Republicans offer a plan that not only provides short-term aid, but includes reform to improve the long-term outlook. The House Republican position is that both relief and reform are necessary. As important as it is to lessen the burden now, it also is crucial to make sure we don’t end up in this same unfortunate situation next year.”

Last night, I attended the SD-14 fundraiser, which Jim attended, too. We talked briefly about what he’d written in his e-letter update. Basically, Jim explained that the bill Republicans are pushing includes premium relief but it also includes other features, too. For instance, it provides the ability for a person receiving life-saving care from a hospital or clinic to stay with that clinic until that treatment is finished.

I told Jim that that’s the right thing to do. People suffering through a life-threatening situation don’t need the disruption of changing health care providers.

Other legislators attended the fundraiser, too. Most of them were hopeful that Gov. Dayton would sign the bill once it got put together in conference committee.

This article parrots Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel’s talking point that high risk pools “are prohibitively expensive.”

Bob Bryan wrote that “Ryan said Republicans planned to replace Obamacare with high-risk pools, which had been used by states before the ACA was passed, so that Jeans and others could continue to get coverage. Health-policy experts have been wary of this plan because of the low enrollment and prohibitively high costs in previous state-level pools.”

First, the “health policy experts” Bryan is talking about are from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a wildly pro-ACA organization. Trusting them isn’t entirely like trusting a used car salesman but I can’t say that I’d recommend trusting them without tons of verified information. Further, KFF apparently relies more on surveys than on research.

Second, Minnesota had a high risk pool before it was destroyed by the ACA. It wasn’t wildly expensive. It kept health insurance prices down for people who didn’t have pre-existing conditions. Finally, it helped Minnesota achieve an insured rate of 93% in 2007.

Though it isn’t in this video, Speaker Ryan told a townhall audience that President Obama and Democrats should’ve fixed the parts that were broken and left alone the parts that were working:

Instead, driven by partisan ideology, President Obama and the Democrats destroyed a health care system that 85% of the people liked and thought was working. While shoving this 2,700-page monstrosity down our throats, they didn’t have the decency to let the American people, or Republican representatives, read the bill. Only a handful of Democrats knew what was in the bill when it was passed. Now we’re supposed to trust Democrats when they tell us what won’t work?

That’s insulting and I won’t tolerate it.

One of the major highlights of CNN’s townhall meeting with Speaker Ryan at George Washington University came during the question of the night. That’s when Speaker Ryan announced that the House would repeal the ACA and pass the Republican replacement “at the same time, and in some cases in the same bill.” Speaker Ryan continued, saying “So we want to advance repealing this law with its replacement at the same time.”

The first person to ask a question of Speaker Ryan was a small business owner named Jeff Jeans, who identified himself as a former Republican and a cancer survivor. Jeans told Speaker Ryan “Just like you, I was opposed to the Affordable Care Act. When it was passed, I told my wife we would close our business before I’d comply with this law. Then, at 49, I was given 6 weeks to live and with a very curable type of cancer. We offered 3 times the cost of my treatments, which was rejected. They required an insurance card. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I’m standing here alive. Being both a small business person and a person with pre-existing conditions, I rely on the Affordable Care Act to purchase my own insurance. Why would you repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement?”

Ryan replied “We wouldn’t do that. We want to replace it with something better. … We believe that state high risk pools are a smarter way of guaranteeing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. We had a really good one in Wisconsin. Utah had a really great one. I was talking with a congresswoman from Washington today who was telling me how good their high risk pool is. What I mean when I say this is that about 8% of all the people less than 65 years of age have that type of pre-existing condition. … We don’t want people to go poor or go bankrupt because this thing happens to them so we obviously want a system where they can get affordable coverage without going bankrupt when they get sick. But we can do that without destroying the rest of the health care system for everybody else. That’s the point I’m trying to make. What we should have done is fix what was broken in health care without breaking what was working with health care and that’s what Obamacare unfortunately did.”

Here’s the video of that exchange:

It’s worth noting that Minnesota had a high risk pool, too, which was also working well until the ACA destroyed it. In 2007, before then-Sen. Obama was elected president, Minnesota boasted that 92.8% of its citizens were insured. Of those that didn’t have health insurance, more than half were eligible for some sort of taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. Had those people gotten signed up, Minnesota’s insured rate would’ve exceeded 97%, which would’ve been better than anything that the ACA could ever hope to accomplish.

What’s particularly insulting and infuriating is the fact that Democrats know the Republicans’ plans. It’s infuriating because Ryan’s plan has been out there for months. If there’s anything certain about Speaker Ryan, it’s that he’s a policy junkie in the best sense of the word. He lives to write great legislation.

Speaker Ryan said that he didn’t have a specific date that he’d put on repealing and replacing the ACA, though he told Jake Tapper that he thinks it will happen in President Trump’s first 100 days.

If that happens, you’ll see the economy take off because Obamacare is sucking the incentive out of growing small businesses. Watch the entire video. It’s educational and enlightening.

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John Croman’s article reads like a DFL propaganda piece. That’s mostly because that’s what it is. The article starts by saying “Minnesota’s top budget official warned Monday that the Republican health insurance premium relief plan will significantly delay aid payments to those facing sharp increases in 2017. Commissioner Myron Frans, who heads the Minnesota Management and Budget department, said the rebate program envisioned in the GOP legislation would required creating an apparatus to receive and vet applications for aid, which could involve hiring an additional 100 staff in his agency. ‘Our first take is that this is going to cost a lot of money and it’s going to take a lot of time. And if we’re going to go down that road it’s going to make it very difficult to get this implemented in 2017,’ Commissioner Frans told reporters.”

My first question for Commissioner Frans would be why this wouldn’t apply to Gov. Dayton’s plan. Wouldn’t they need to verify that applicants’ income is truthful? Or would Gov. Dayton’s system run on the honor system?

The Republican plan, by contrast, calls for people to apply to the state for aid. The state would review the applications and issue State checks directly to the insurance customers. The Legislative Auditor would conduct the audits, if this plan passes and is signed into law.

I don’t know that that’s true but let’s stipulate that it is for this conversation. Couldn’t the DFL offer an amendment to change that part of the legislation?

The main question that hasn’t gotten asked is why Gov. Dayton and the DFL haven’t offered a plan to fix all the things that are wrong with Minnesota’s Obamacare health care system. Why haven’t the media asked Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk or Rep. Hortman where their comprehensive health care reform legislation is?

Does the Twin Cities media think, like Gov. Dayton and the DFL, that these skyrocketing health insurance premiums are a one-time thing? If they aren’t a one-time thing but are caused by systemic flaws, why haven’t the DFL written legislation that would fix that situation?

Commissioner Frans can complain all he wants about not getting the rebate fixed but the truth is that Minnesotans are worried about other parts of Minnesota’s health care system. Further, if Gov. Dayton vetoes premium relief, the DFL will wear that like a cement block during the 2018 campaign.

If she doesn’t watch it, Patty Murray will explode. According to this article, Murray went on a diatribe of epic proportions, saying “If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, it’s women, kids, seniors, patients with serious illnesses, and people with disabilities who will bear the burden. Premiums will skyrocket. Out-of-pocket prescription drug costs will rise. And overall health care costs will increase. It’s a perfect storm to make America sick again — and absolutely the wrong direction for families and for our economy.”

In other words, Sen. Murray insists that repealing the ACA will do what the ACA is already doing. The ACA is already driving up health care premiums. The ACA is already bankrupting states, many of whom are opting out of the exchanges they created. The ACA is already driving up out-of-pocket expenses for families.

Whenever Democrats pretend these things aren’t already happening, they demolish their credibility. It isn’t like people haven’t noticed. If the ACA wasn’t expensive, Republicans wouldn’t have flipped the Minnesota Senate. If the ACA was affordable, the Democratic Party wouldn’t be a shrinking national party.

Democrats are living in fantasyland if they haven’t noticed the mess they’re in.

I’m getting tired of having to factcheck professional ‘factcheckers’. The worst ‘factchecker’ is Politifact but others are ‘gaining ground’ on them. Shortly after my computer returned from the shop, I saw this factcheck, which is critical of Donald Trump’s tweets about the ACA.

In Factcheck’s article, they cite this tweet from Gov. Dayton where he said “The ACA has provided quality healthcare to +20M Americans. Its problems could’ve been corrected if GOP had tried to improve, not destroy it.” That’s a myth that’s being peddled by Democrats in their propaganda battle to prevent the repeal of the ACA.

Betsey McCaughey, one of the foremost experts on health care, highlighted the reality in an op-ed that I wrote about in this post. McCaughey explained “Will 20 million lose coverage? Not even close. Sixteen million of those who gained coverage are enrolled in Medicaid, the public program for low-income residents. Obamacare allowed states to expand who could sign up for Medicaid, with the federal government covering the tab. Repeal could result in less federal funding. But no one is pushing to abolish the nation’s health safety net. And states that just expanded Medicaid are unlikely to do a 180 and shrink it. The 16 million are likely safe.”

Any factchecking organization that doesn’t do basic research like that isn’t trustworthy. That doesn’t mean that they might not occasionally stumble into the truth. I’m just saying they can’t be relied on to consistently be accurate factcheckers. Finally, factchecking tweets, then saying that they pulled quotes “on ACA Out of Context” is a bit absurd. It’s impossible to provide detailed context in 140 characters.

Here’s the transcript of what Gov. Dayton said about the ACA:

Gov. Dayton insists that Republicans took him out of context but here’s what he said:

But ultimately, I’m not trying to pass the buck here, but the reality is the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable to increasing numbers of people. And Congress, which has been totally deadlocked in terms of making any necessary changes or improvements, is going to have to step into this in January with the next administration, and make the kind of changes such as, if … the federal government [provided] for catastrophic health care occurrences – you’d bring the rates down very significantly. …

And the subsidies that the federal government provides, the tax credits, are going to need to be increased and expanded to, again, reduce the cost burden on those who are buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

So I mean, there are a number of things that need to be done, federal, and there are some things we can do at the state. But the magnitude of this problem, Minnesota is not alone in this. There are many other states that have experienced significant increases, our increases are higher on a percentage basis because our base rates were lower, previously – but still very drastic increases and there are other states where providers, like in our case Blue Cross Blue Shield, have left the market entirely.

In other words, the ACA is affordable … if the federal government provides massive subsidies to 90% of the people. Gov. Dayton later said that “there are a number of things that need to be done.” That’s proof that President-Elect Trump’s tweet didn’t mislead with Gov. Dayton’s statement.