Obama’s health care problem

President Barack Obama: More problems with health care (AP)

President Barack Obama once told Democratic lawmakers they’d be proud to campaign on historic health care legislation. Six months later, the only Democrats running ads about it are the ones who voted “no.”

Now, with crucial midterm elections approaching, the White House is preparing to use the law’s six-month anniversary to reintroduce it to skeptical voters and trumpet new reforms that are taking effect, such as new coverage for preventive care and young adults and a ban on canceling insurance for someone who falls ill.

Democrats are packaging the provisions, which kick in Thursday, as a “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” and Obama is advertising them Wednesday at an event in Virginia with beneficiaries.

Even supporters acknowledge there’s probably not enough time to turn around public opinion on the health care issue before November elections that are expected to punish Democrats. But in a campaign season dominated by jobs and the economy, Democrats hope to remind voters of some tangible benefits the health care overhaul will bring and move to undercut GOP arguments against it.

“When people better understand the Affordable Care Act, they’ll understand, I think, that this isn’t something being done to them but is something that’s really going to be valuable to them,” Obama told community and religious leaders on a conference call Tuesday in which he urged them to spread the word. “The debate in Washington is over. The Affordable Care Act is now law.”

The debate on the campaign trail, however, is just heating up. With every House seat and a third of the Senate up for re-election six weeks from now, there are plenty of candidates who are being called to account for their vote in March on the health care legislation. And in almost every case the ones on the defensive are Democrats who supported the bill that the GOP branded as a budget-busting government takeover, not Republicans who opposed it.

In Ohio, GOP hopeful Jim Renacci takes aim at freshman Democrat Rep. John Boccieri, among the Democrats elected in Republican-friendly districts now targeted by the GOP. “Boccieri voted for Obama’s health care bill, packed full of job-killing taxes,” a Renacci ad says in an accusation echoed in GOP campaigns across the country.

Boccieri’s ads don’t mention his health care vote; none of the 219 House Democrats who support the legislation are talking about it in campaign ads. But several of the 34 Democrats who voted “no” can now boast of that vote, casting it as a sign of their fiscal responsibility or independence from Obama and party leaders.

In Virginia, an ad for Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye has him “voting against the health care bill, because it cost too much.”

“The health care bill is playing a significant role in a number of campaigns across the country,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “The legislation has alienated key demographic groups like seniors and independent voters.”

Democrats and the White House play down the significance of the health bill as a campaign issue.

“Health care will play a role in individual campaigns, but this is not an election about health care,” Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, said in an interview. “This is an election about jobs and the economy.”

A new AP poll finds just 30 percent of people in favor of and 40 percent opposed to the 10-year, nearly $1 trillion bill to extend health coverage to 32 million uninsured. Another 30 percent were neither in favor nor opposed. But Democrats contend that the numbers have shown gradual improvement and that the Republican message of repeal is losing steam. And they argue that candidates can see political benefit if they focus on individual provisions of the bill that are popular.

“We need to continue to focus on the strong elements of the bill,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It’s very clear it’s taken some time to focus on the consumer rights and patient protections.”

Among benefits taking effect this week:

_Young adults can remain on their family’s health plan until they turn 26.

_Free immunizations for kids.

_Free preventive care, like mammograms and cholesterol screenings.

_No more lifetime coverage limits, and annual limits start to phase out.

_Plans can’t cancel coverage for people who get sick.

_No denial of coverage to kids with pre-existing health conditions.

Most of the big changes, such as the new purchasing pools and requirement for everyone to carry insurance, don’t kick in until 2014, but Democrats hope that the more voters learn of the benefits, the more they’ll like the bill.

Ultimately, Democrats argue, health care will be a political winner.

Just maybe not this year.

“I think most of my colleagues on our side of the aisle, whether they voice it publicly or not, certainly see the health care vote as a historic vote and something that will be seen in the future as a courageous and correct vote,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. “That doesn’t mean it will be rewarded in this cycle. And that’s the pain of this situation.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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9 Responses to "Obama’s health care problem"

  1. Guardhouse lawyer  September 22, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    This week’s quiz:

    According to the column above:

    Among benefits taking effect this week:

    _Young adults can remain on their family’s health plan until they turn 26.

    _Free immunizations for kids.

    _Free preventive care, like mammograms and cholesterol screenings.

    _No more lifetime coverage limits, and annual limits start to phase out.

    _Plans can’t cancel coverage for people who get sick.

    _No denial of coverage to kids with pre-existing health conditions.

    Many of you believe this legislation is bad for the country. Some of you believe it is evil. This quiz is for those of you who oppose the legislation:

    Look at each of the new rules going into effect tomorrow. Please explain which of these provisions you oppose. Why? Extra points awarded if the reasons are logical and without reference to any emotional words or issues.

  2. Almandine  September 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Govt control… central planning… cradle to grave dependence… all paid for by someone else…

    What’s to be emotional about, unless the loss of freedom and liberty mean something to you?

  3. woody188  September 23, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Nice try GhL, but one way the Internet is better than TV and radio is that you can’t frame the debate and limit it to just the supposed positives of the law.

    Where’s my freedom to choose to not carry health coverage should I so desire?

    Premiums for a young family like mine are supposed to double under this new law as previously we were grouped with healthy young families and now we’ll be forced to cover older families and the terminally ill. How is it fair that I have to suffer for someone else that is going to die with or without treatment? Is it supposed to be consolation that I can screw over some poor young family to pay for my care when I’m dying?

    Never mind the law doesn’t address the rising cost of health care despite it’s name. It’s an insurance bonanza, not health care reform. It doubles premium costs for the vast majority of people.

    But I’ll humor you some with the help of The Heritage Foundation:

    _Young adults can remain on their family’s health plan until they turn 26.
    _No more lifetime coverage limits, and annual limits start to phase out.

    These provisions are already taking effect, and they raise the cost of providing insurance. Several insurers have attributed a portion of their annual rate hikes for this year to provisions in Obamacare. Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Oregon is attributing 3.4 percent of its 17.1 percent rate increase to Obamacare, while Celtic Insurance Company in Wisconsin and North Carolina is attributing 9 percent of its 18 percent rate increase to Obamacare.

    _Free preventive care, like mammograms and cholesterol screenings.
    _Free immunizations for kids.

    Preventive services are more likely to increase costs than reduce costs. A recent article in the journal Health Affairs notes that 80 percent of preventative care services increase costs instead of saving costs. By requiring more preventive services, costs will rise as health care consumption increases.

    _Plans can’t cancel coverage for people who get sick.
    _No denial of coverage to kids with pre-existing health conditions.

    In order to charge individuals a fair premium, insurers in the individual market engage in underwriting to determine applicant risk. That is, healthy individuals are less of a risk and thus enjoy lower premiums, the same way good drivers get discounts on their auto insurance. Obamacare bans this type of underwriting to rate premiums. The result will be higher premiums for the vast majority of individuals who are relatively healthy.

    So while the law extends health insurance to 32 million more people, it does nothing to make it affordable and in fact only increases premiums and costs. Hope we can make it the 4 years to the part of the law that supposedly makes all this affordable. Lot of good that does us now.

    • Guardhouse lawyer  September 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

      You are NOT always going to be young and healthy. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. If you get hit by a bus, it would be OK for the insurance company to cancel your policy because you are sick (injured)? I will point out that you only get the good rates for auto insurance by continuing to be a good driver, so that analogy is, at best, suspect.

      For the record, the rate increases referred to above have not happened yet. They are rate increases requested by the insurance companies and have not been approved by state regulators. A request for a rate increase does not necessarily result in approval of the rate increase. The insurance companies are going to have to work to prove that the increases are justified.

      As to the Health Affairs Journal, there is this:

      Greater Use Of Preventive Services In U.S. Health Care Could Save Lives At Little Or No Cost

      http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/abstract/29/9/1656?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=preventive&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT It. is dated September 10, 2010

      The synopsis states:

      There is broad debate over whether preventive health services save money or represent a good investment. This paper analyzes the estimated cost of adopting a package of twenty proven preventive services—including tobacco cessation screening, alcohol abuse screening, and daily aspirin use—against the estimated savings that could be generated. We find that greater use of proven clinical preventive services in the United States could avert the loss of more than two million life-years annually. What’s more, increasing the use of these services from current levels to 90 percent in 2006 would result in total savings of $3.7 billion, or 0.2 percent of U.S. personal health care spending. These findings suggest that policy makers should pursue options that move the nation toward greater use of proven preventive services.

      This does seem about 180 degrees removed from what you said above, but it was the only recent article I could find. I found it by going to the home page of Heatlhaffairs.org and searching the word preventive. Feel free to duplicate this research if you would like. I also searched using the term “preventive care services” and came up with the same result.

      Would you be so kind as to cite the reference whence you got the 80 percent figure above?

      You also said “Premiums for a young family like mine are supposed to double . . . .” I notice that you did not provide a citation to that figure. Can you cite a reference for this?

      • woody188  September 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm

        It’s all on the link provided above in my original post.

        Look, I understand I won’t always be young and healthy. I carry insurance now even being young and healthy. But if I didn’t I’d have substantial savings each year. But what I’m saying is you had the choice not to do so, and you are denying me that same choice and that’s not right.

  4. NC-Tom  September 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    To woody188

    “Premiums for a young family like mine are supposed to double under this new law as previously we were grouped with healthy young families and now we’ll be forced to cover older families and the terminally ill.”

    First, with or without this bill, health care costs are rising much faster than inflation and more and more families and individuals will be priced out of the market. The current business model of private health insurance simply does not work. But don’t worry, nothing will be done to really fix it because we are Americans and even we are absolutely, positively dead wrong we will never admit it, and so will never change.

    Second, as far as you not wanting to pay extra premiums to help other citizens of your country, all I can say is anyone reading woody’s comment, really think about that if you are contemplating going into the military to fight for this country, or having your kids fight for this country. We have devolved into a nation of self centered, selfish individuals, who don’t want to lift a finger to help one another.

    Seriously think about. People in this country would not want to pay a little extra to help pay for the health care of sick parents who’s children are fighting and dying in wars for this country.

    Here’s one for you woody, I used to make pretty good money, and one year I hit the social security max on my salary and they stopped taking SS out of my pay. You know what my reaction was? Did I go, good for me, I get to keep more of my money? No, I was shocked and pissed that somebody that was making a lot of money like me should not keep paying into the fund to help keep it solvent for others. I bet your mind cant even wrap itself around a selfless thought like that.

    I know this comment will do NOTHING to make selfish, self centered people reconsider their ways, but sometimes one just has to speak up against such selfishness before it gets even more entrenched that it already is.

    Im done with this site. While I usually like to hear other peoples views of things, because I think it makes me a better person, some of the comments I read here really disgust me, so I’m out of here.

    Good luck woody, hopefully you and your family will never have a catastrophe in your life and need help from others, because this is Amerika and you are on your own baby!

    • woody188  September 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      You are right, the bill does nothing to address rising costs and they will only continue to increase.

      It isn’t selfish or self centered to want to keep the money that I worked and labored for night and day. It’s selfish and self centered to think you deserve “free” or subsidized health care that takes from the young and healthy. That’s the worst part. We’ll shell out all this cash, and still not have a “free” system like Canada or Britain. This law solves nothing but guarantees insurance revenue.

      Pay a little extra? 100% increase is just a little? Should I be forced to go on food stamps so I can pay that increase? Should my kids have to lose a college education so I can pay for someone’s terminal disease?

      Yeah, let’s destroy our shared future by prolonging the lives of the folks that brought us the decade of decadence. Talk about selfish!

  5. griff  September 23, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Here is a story. Three stories, actually.

    I have been studying natural cures, homeopathy and naturopathic medicine for about ten years now. At 42 years of age, i personally have no pressing health problems or ailments. All of the minor health issues I did have melted away soon after I started taking care of myself in terms of eating organic food, taking whole food supplements, and employing other means of cleansing and purifying.

    I know a woman in her mid-40′s who was diagnosed with breast and colon cancer five years ago. Her doctor immedialtely wanted to start aggressively attacking this deadly “scourge” (remember, scurvy was a deadly scourge before they found that the cure is an orange) with the best that modern medicine has to offer, i.e. chemo- and radiation therapy.

    The thought of these arcane, midieval torture treatments didn’t appeal to her, so she started doing some reading. Lots of reading. Long story, short, she ended up borrowing $12,000 against her retirement plan (she said there was no sense in leaving it there if she was going to die) and flew to a clinic in Ecuador to treat this “aggressive and deadly” cancer.

    The clinic, by the way, is run by an American doctor who was run out of the U.S. to avoid prosecution for, well, doing what doctors are supposed to do – make their patients well. But that’s another story entirely.

    So she went through six weeks of natural, non-invasive, side-effect free (unless you consider restored health and vitality a side-effect) treatments such as vitamin IV’s, chelation therapy and herbal treatments.

    As a side note, the treatment takes six weeks because, apart from the brain, the body replaces its cells every four weeks.

    To this day she is cancer-free, and all she does in terms of follow-up treatment is a yearly blood test on top of regular doctor visits.

    Another woman I know, who happens to be friends with this woman, was in a similar predicament not long after. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and was recommended a mastectomy and the requisite traditional AMA-approved “treatments.”

    This woman was not so courageous, and depsite pleas from the other woman, decided to have the mastectomy, but chose the same natural route for her post-op treatments. Five years now, and cancer-free.

    These stories are not unique in any way.

    Which brings me to this last one. This woman, 39 years old, happens to be my current girlfriend. I’m actually in the process of divorcing my miserable, cheating whore of a wife of 18 years at the moment. But that’s another story, too, I guess. Ha.

    I’ll call her Lucy. Lucy started playing volleyball on one of my teams last summer (best setter in the league). We were nothing more than teammates and friends until a couple of weeks into this year’s season.

    Back in early June, after our match and a few too many Molsons, she pulled me aside and confided in me that she had a cancerous tumor removed from her cervix two weeks prior and was undergoing chemotherapy. I was the only one she told, because she didn’t want any one to treat her any differently.

    I really didn’t know her that well even at this point, but we started talking daily about what was going on, and I quickly found that she was not at all happy with her doctor or her treatment. She’s very smart and takes care of herself, so I started to urge her to get away from the doctor and pursue more natural ways of healing.

    The doctor first told her he woould administer two local chemo treatments and gauge the results, but every week that she returned she was met with a needle. This went on for five more weeks before she finally said goodbye to “Mengele,” as we came to call him.

    I had her start taking vitamin and mineral supplements, apricot seeds, papaya enzymes, and a few other cancer-fighting remedies, as well as starting her on an all-vegetarian diet.

    It’s been a few months now, and her health is good. There has been no return of the cancer, and the only thing we’re dealing with now are the lingering effects of the chemotherapy. She started a cleansing regime last week that should take care of that.

    All of this for less than $60.00 a week. Of course, if we had to employ other methods such as chelation and other therapies you can’t do at home, the costs would have risen some.

    So go ahead America, beg your government to force you into a system, at your own skyrocketing expense, that is only interested in draining you of your money and your life. And not necessarily in that order.

    • woody188  September 24, 2010 at 1:15 am

      Sorry to hear about your divorce. My wife did the same roughly a year and a half ago. We’re still slugging it out, and still together. Marriage is hard. If the doctors don’t kill you, the wife will! :)

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