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House Bill Raises, Not Lowers, Health Care Costs

The Chief Actuary in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama Health and Human Services department issued a memorandum late yesterday looking at the potential impact of the House health reform legislation (H.R. 3200). As the Associated Press and other media outlets have been reporting, the study shows that- among other things- the legislation would, as President Obama promised, bend the health care cost curve … but  in the wrong direction.

healthcostcurve

The findings suggest that if the House legislation were enacted, President Obama would be breaking his long standing promise that reform would reduce rapidly growing health care costs. Although the President has continually argued that Americans spend too much on health care, and that under reform they would spend less, the new HHS report finds the opposite is likely to occur under the House legislation. Here are some key findings from the HHS memorandum:

  • The legislation would increase total national health expenditures in the U.S. by about 2.1 percent during the period between 2010 and 2019.
  • As a share of gross domestic product (GDP) health care spending would grow to 21.3 percent compared to 20.8 estimated under current law.
  • The bill carries a price tag of about $1 trillion dollars (from 2013 to 2019), which does not even represent a full 10-year cost estimate.
  • The measure is likely to deliver only small savings despite the many provisions intended to reduce the growth in health care costs.
  • While the proposal might cover 34 million uninsured it would still leave 23 million people without coverage, including as many as 18 million Americans who would remain uninsured and face a new tax penalty.
  • More than 50 percent of the new coverage gains under the bill (18 million out of 34 million) would come from expansions in the Medicaid program.
  • 40 percent of those obtaining coverage through a newly established health insurance exchange could be enrolled in the public option.
  • Cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program for seniors could have the effect of reducing enrollment by 64 percent, with projected enrollment in 2014 falling from 13.2 million to only 4.7 million seniors.
  • And, all told, the plan puts new strains on health care providers which could lead to price increases, increased cost-shifting onto the privately insured, and/or compromised access to high quality care.

In sum, the findings in the report aren’t pretty. Let’s just hope the White House and Democrats in Congress got the memo.

Source: Greg D’Angelo, "House Bill Raises, Not Lowers, Health Care Costs," Heritage Foundation, October 22, 2009.

Its Been Happening For Years – It’s Nothing New

Ronal Reagan knew what’s been happening.

 

 

Nothing has changed!  Call, write or fax your Congress people. Stop this new attempt at Socialism now!

 

Freedom Finder

Is This What You Want?

Excerpts from the “Life Insurance selling Magazine” article, “To your good health: Of TV shows and children’s games”, by

Published 7/1/2009

Included in the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” (aka “The Stimulus Bill”) was $1.1 billion to fund The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. When he was at The Brookings Institute, Obama budget director Peter Orszag became interested in a Dartmouth study indicating that despite wide regional disparities in payments for similar conditions, there was no corresponding improvement in outcomes. Additional fuel for the Council came from Senator Tom Daschle’s book, Critical: What We Can Do About The Health-Care Crisis, where he argues for a council similar to the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which goes by the acronym “NICE.”

If the Federal Council in the stimulus bill is the beginning of this idea, NICE is the realization of what it could — and most likely will — become. A group of presidential appointees will begin reviewing treatments to decide which are more — or less — effective. This sounds innocuous and like the biggest no-brainer in the history of the universe, doesn’t it? A frequently-cited example of the type of review that the Council might undertake would be to determine whether drugs and “watchful waiting” are a better treatment than surgery for back-related issues. Who could argue that expensive and risk-laden surgeries should only be done if they can be proven to be more effective than non-invasive treatments?

A discussion of how the Council’s work might be brought into practice quickly leads to concern. For the moment, ignore those who, rightly in my view, believe that giving government access to our electronic personal health records in tandem with this Council’s guidelines will ultimately create the medical equivalent of Big Brother. We need only look at NICE to see the likely outcome.

NICE guidelines center on cost effectiveness, not around quality of care. How long will it take for Americans to realize that our version of NICE will likely mirror our cousins across the pond? To help everyone along, I suggest that you invest eight minutes of your time to watch a video clip about my friend Beth Ashmore. Some of you know Beth as a former president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, though you may not know her mother’s story. It is a shocking, firsthand account of what could be in store for us if we project the path of our current initiatives.   Watch the video here:

Critics in the medical community are becoming concerned about the Council’s effect on their ability to practice medicine and the potential effect on their physician-patient relationships. Their concern centers on the research from the Council leading to a “one-treatment-fits-all” set of rules and that the government would become the third party in the exam room, so to speak.

Many of us recall the admonitions made nearly two decades ago about “accountants at HMOs making medical decisions.” Absent a discussion of “medical necessity,” the HMOs were excoriated for enforcing the terms of a voluntary contract between employers and the HMO — terms which were known in advance. We’ve all heard the arguments about employees being the ones in that particular crossfire, and to a great extent that is true.

This is not the whole article. You can read the entire article here, at the Life Insurance Selling magazine.

The Democrats Still Don’t Like HMOs

Obama, Reid take dead aim at Medicare HMOs

By Jeffrey Young

Posted: 01/14/09 07:00 PM [ET]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had no qualms expressing his low opinion of private health insurance plans in Medicare.

“Medicare Advantage is gone,” Reid said last week during an interview with The Hill.

He didn’t mean that literally, his press office later clarified. But Reid, like his fellow congressional Democrats and President-elect Obama, wants to scale back the program through which HMOs and other health plans provide benefits to more than 10 million people, or almost one-fourth of the 45 million people on Medicare.

Likewise, Obama singled out Medicare Advantage as an example of “programs that don’t work” during an appearance on ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday.

The Democrats Don’t Like HMOs

Democrats Continue Heavy Push for HMO Reform

By Helen Dewar and Michael Grunwald
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, June 24, 1999; Page A8

Democrats yesterday intensified efforts in both houses of Congress to grab the offensive on legislation to regulate health maintenance organizations — an issue that both parties see as critical for next year’s elections.

Senate Democrats halted action in their chamber for a second day to force Republicans to schedule votes, while House Democrats started circulating a petition to bring their bill to a vote over the objection of GOP leaders.

"We’ll get votes," vowed Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.). "It is either that or we’ll sit on the Senate floor looking at each other."

As of late yesterday, Republicans and Democrats were still at odds over procedures to schedule votes in the Senate. And, in the House, the Education and the Workforce Committee postponed action on a GOP managed-care bill because Republicans could not agree on its provisions.

Both parties have bills aimed at providing new protections for patients in managed-care plans, including new processes for review of patient grievances. But they differ in critical details, including the extent of government regulation and whether patients or survivors should be able to sue their health plans. Democrats generally favor more regulation than Republicans and want to expand access to lawsuits, while most Republicans would curtail them.

For their first vote, Senate Democrats want to focus on another key difference: who decides a patient’s treatment. They are pushing for immediate action on a proposal to require that doctors, rather than health plan officials, be empowered to decide what is "medically necessary" for a patient. The Senate Republicans’ bill is silent on that point, although it allows appeals to health professionals when treatment is in dispute. Critics argue that the Democrats’ proposal could drive up costs and threaten the financial viability of HMOs.

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