Posts by Author - Lenneice

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New Move for Health Bill?

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010


The White House is working hard to pass the health bill in its final crucial stage. President Obama has said Congress will give an up-or-down vote on the bill for medical insurance this week. However, Democrats are said to be about 11 votes shy of what is needed to pass the bill, and it’s unclear whether they will gain the votes from several apprehensive Democrats.

Another approach is taking form among lead Democrats that would allow the bill to take form without a vote. House Democrats would approve a package of changes to the Senate bill in a budget reconciliation bill. The Senate bill would be “deemed passed” if and when the House adopts rules for debate on the reconciliation bill — or perhaps when the House passes that reconciliation bill.

Republicans are speaking out against the move. GOP leaders believe it is a sneaky tactic to push the bill through without a vote. Representative Ted Poe said Democrats should stop avoiding a fair up-or-down vote.

White House officials believe Republicans are opposing the process to try and stop the bill that would make health insurance more affordable for Americans. Democrat leaders say they still expect to take full vote on the healthcare bill by this weekend.

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Small County Helps Workers Get Healthcare

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010


One small restaurant is not waiting for the White House to solve the healthcare dilemma. In downtown Pueblo, Colo., a restaurant called Gold Dust Saloon is helping its employees buy affordable health insurance.

The company is one of 30 participating in a county program to provide low-cost coverage to employees of small businesses. The program is called the “three share”. The cost of insurance is split three ways; cooks and waitresses from the restaurant pay a portion, and the worker and the community cover the remaining balance. In Pueblo, two local hospitals pay the community portion.

The program is the only way such employees can afford medical coverage. Many small businesses have stopped offering workers group health insurance due to skyrocketing premiums. The three share program is helpful but only reaches out to a small group. Millions of others still have no one to help cover their insurance costs.

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Health Bill is Not in the Bag

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010


President Obama is working on a final push for the health bill, and it seems he still has quite a bit of work to do.

The President says he is confident they will get the votes needed to pass the health bill this week. However, a new CNN analysis shows that opposition in the House of Representatives to the Senate health care plan has reached 200 members. That figure is 16 votes shy of the 216 needed to prevent President Obama from scoring a major victory on his top domestic priority.

Some Democrats oppose the bill saying it is to costly, does not adequately address rising medical costs and skyrocketing insurance premiums, Other Liberal Democrats aren’t backing Obama’s plan because it does not include a government run health insurance option.

Mr. Obama doesn’t seem discouraged by such responses. He is making stops campaign style working to convince Americans of his health plan. The President expressed the urgency of the bill in a speech centered around a woman forced to drop her health insurance due to rising premiums. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with Leukemia and stuck with no medical insurance. Health insurance companies will likely deny her affordable coverage with the pre-existing condition. President Obama said she was a prime example of the problem with the current healthcare system, and is pushing Democrats to pass the bill while there is still a chance.

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Obama’s Future in the Hands of Health Bill

Monday, March 15th, 2010

President Obama is on his final push for the health bill. If Obama’s plan does pass, healthcare in America will never be the same again. Millions left without medical insurance will receive financial help to get coverage, others will be offered lower and more stable premiums, and insurance companies will be forced to follow tighter regulations.

Mr. Obama, himself, has much to gain from passage of the health bill. The President’s reputation will be strengthened. He has struggled for more than a year of his term to overhaul the healthcare system. During that time, some Americans have lost faith in the president’s leadership, and others believe the political system is broken. The President has poured his all into this bill. It would certainly damage his credibility as a leader for months if Democrats do not support and pass his legislation.

If President Obama and the Democrats succeed, the challenge over the next eight months will be to convince the public that the program is better than polls suggest they think it is. Health bill supporters will need to prove to Americans that health insurance for all is best for everyone. And while parts of Obama’s plan would take effect right away other provisions would take time.

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Millions Spent on Healthcare Bill

Monday, March 15th, 2010

The health care bill is coming to its final days and millions of dollars are being spent on the issue. Groups who are opposing the health bill have already spent $11 million on advertising against Obama’s plan. They are expected to spend more in the coming days. The business coalition, Employers for a Healthy Economy, is targeting Democratic lawmakers, carrying the message that the bill would cause job losses. The ads are being funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations that represent a broad swath of industry, from health insurers and manufacturers to construction, retail and distribution companies.

Those who are backing the healthcare plan are matching that spending with the help of pharmaceutical companies who made a $12 million investment for a final advertising push.

There is quite a bit riding on the health bill. If passed, people without health insurance will get help by way of government subsidies to purchase coverage. Others who are underinsured due to cost will have the opportunity to purchase more affordable health plans. President Obama plans to stop unpopular insurance industry practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging women more.

It’s unclear which way the swing Democrat votes will go. A few Democrats have been offered dispensations, including Representative Artur Davis of Alabama, who is no longer being pushed to vote for the bill because he is running for governor and the medical insurance measure is not popular in Alabama. Other Democrats voting against the bill also have been taken off the target list, party officials said, to save money for lawmakers who are more apt to be won over.

The health bill vote is expected to take place this week.

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Historical Health Bill Vote Nearing?

Friday, March 12th, 2010

President Obama is making a final push for his overhaul healthcare plan. White House say they will call for a vote as soon as next week. Some Republicans say the President has missed a number of deadlines for the healthcare bill, and aren’t convinced he will meet the current one. But, if by chance the legislation is passed it will be a historic moment that will change the lives of many Americans who can’t afford medical insurance.

Here is a list of highlights as posted by the Washington Post.

-HOW MANY COVERED: 31 million uninsured Americans.

-INSURANCE MANDATE: Like the bills approved last year by the House and Senate, the proposal would require almost everyone to be insured or pay a fine. There is an exemption for low-income people.

-INSURANCE MARKET REFORMS: Stops unpopular insurance industry practices such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging women more. In response to recent insurance premium rate increases, including increases as high as 39 percent by Anthem Blue Cross in California, the legislation adopts an Obama proposal to give the federal government the authority to block rate hikes, roll back premium prices and force insurance companies to give rebates to consumers.
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-MEDICAID: The legislation would expand the federal-state Medicaid insurance program for the poor to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, $29,327 a year for a family of four. The federal government would pick up more of the tab, paying 100 percent of the cost for newly eligible individuals through 2017. A special deal that would have given Nebraska 100 percent federal financing for newly eligible Medicaid recipients in perpetuity has been eliminated. A different, one-time deal negotiated by Sen. Mary Landrieu for her state, Louisiana, worth as much as $300 million, remained.

-TAXES: The legislation would scale back a Senate-passed tax on high-cost insurance plans that was opposed by House Democrats and labor unions. The tax would be delayed from 2013 until 2018 and the thresholds at which it is imposed would be moved up from policies worth $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families, to $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. Those changes mean $120 billion in lost revenue over 10 years that would be replaced mostly by applying an increased Medicare payroll tax to investment income as well as wages for individuals making more than $200,000, or married couples above $250,000. The Senate bill had applied the tax only to wage income.

-PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: The proposal would close the “doughnut hole” coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit that kicks in once seniors have spent $2,830. The Senate bill would have provided a 50 percent discount on the cost of brand-name drugs in the doughnut hole but Obama would close the gap entirely by 2020. The added cost, which Democrats have not yet disclosed, would be paid for in part by an additional $10 billion in fees on the drug industry.

-EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITY: The legislation keeps the approach in the Senate bill, which doesn’t require businesses to offer coverage but charges fees to companies with more than 50 employees if the government subsidizes employees’ coverage. The proposal increases the fees to $2,000 per worker instead of $750, but grants companies an allowance that was not part of the original Senate plan. The proposal includes part-time workers in the calculations, counting two part-time workers as one full-time worker.

-SUBSIDIES: The proposal provides more generous subsidies for purchasing insurance than the Senate bill did. The aid is available for households making up to four times the federal poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four).

-HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Small businesses, the self-employed and the uninsured could pick a plan offered through new state-based purchasing pools called exchanges. People working for big companies would not see major changes.

-GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: The proposal does not include the government-run insurance plan sought by liberals and approved by the House. It takes the Senate approach, which gives Americans purchasing coverage through new insurance exchanges the option of signing up for national plans overseen by the federal office that manages the government health plan available to members of Congress. Those plans would be private, but one would have to be nonprofit.

-ABORTION: The proposal does not change the abortion provision in the Senate bill, which is opposed by anti-abortion groups that say it allows federal financing of abortion. The bill tries to maintain a strict separation between taxpayer dollars and private premiums that would pay for abortion coverage.

No health plan would be required to offer coverage for the procedure. In plans that do cover abortion, beneficiaries would have to pay for it separately, and that money would have to be kept in a separate account from taxpayer money. States could ban abortion coverage in plans offered through the exchange. Exceptions would be made for cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother.
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Healthcare Spending is No Easy Fix

Friday, March 12th, 2010


The healthcare debate has lawmakers at odds, and if you are wondering why Congress can’t seem to get a hold on the issue of medical insurance the simple answer is: it’s not easy. A large part of the healthcare debate is spending, and lawmakers must predict how much money the country’s health system will need in the future.

As said in an article by The New England Journal of Medicine, no one can accurately predict what health care expenditures will be 10 years from now, because they will depend on many factors, every one of which is unpredictable. For instance, what health problems will the country face in 2020? No one knows what the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and other major objects of health care spending will be 10 years from now. The prevalence of obesity may continue to increase or reverse its course. New infectious diseases may appear and become widespread. Equally important, and equally difficult to predict, are advances in medicine, or in economic terms, changes in medical technology. New drugs, new devices, new imaging techniques, and new surgical procedures have had a huge impact on health care expenditures in the past and probably will in the future as well.

And then there is the cost of medical advancements. Some advancements are proven to be cost effective while others are seen as wasteful. But how can Congressional leaders know exactly which interventions to invest in?

Healthcare spending becomes a matter of how much a life is worth. It’s a difficult principle to quantify and even more challenging for lawmakers to govern. So as lawmakers struggle to come to common ground on how to make health insurance more affordable, remember, it’s no easy fix.

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Insurers Testing Out Controversial Health Plan

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A new type of medical insurance will soon be available to workers in Portland, Ore. Here is how it works: Participating health insurance plans will offer free health care for certain illnesses such as diabetes or depression. Sounds to good to be true, and maybe it is. There are selected treatments that will cost you pretty big. The insurers have singled out selected treatments that are often overused, including knee replacements, hysterectomies, and heart bypass surgery.

The new insurance is an attempt to control medical spending that continues to rise and impact health insurance premiums.

“We’re trying to make people better consumers,” says John Worcester, head of benefits at Evraz Oregon Steel, the sole employer to sign up since the plans began coming on the market earlier this year.

Workers who choose the option over a more traditional plan next year could see their costs drop sharply if they have one of six chronic conditions but might pay hundreds more in deductibles and co-payments if they need a hip replacement or a heart stent.

Those who support the new plan feel it will improve health and reduce medical costs. However, critics warn the plan will limit access to certain medical services. People who are advised to have one of the overused treatments will be discouraged from them due to the high costs. The plan could have an adverse affect of hurting individuals instead of helping them.

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Why is Media Pushing Obama’s Deadline?

Thursday, March 11th, 2010


Some Republicans are trying to figure out why the media is pushing Obama’s deadline for passing the healthcare bill.

In an article on conservative website FOX News, critics say journalist are falling for Obama deadline to pass healthcare by March 18th.

Republicans say President Obama has been fighting and losing the health care reform battle since he first took office. In fact, his only major legislative victory was the passage of the $787 billion stimulus bill. After that, the American people were more afraid of his passes than they had been of Bill Clinton’s. Voters wouldn’t let him pass anything and it showed. His popularity dropped. The Democratic Congress’s popularity dropped even further and health care reform went from blockbuster to disaster flick.

But, the fact that journalists are pushing the March 18th deadline may be an indication of their support for the health bill. Perhaps it is a way of expressing hope for passage of Obama’s plan. And while Republicans feel Americans are not backing healthcare reform this probably isn’t the case. Many Americans have been mislead by opposition and are confused about Obama’s plan for affordable medical insurance, but they are not against it.

Those without good health insurance want the President to fix the system and those with healthcare want to keep their good health insurance and pay cheaper rates. The truth is most Americans want a healthcare industry that doesn’t cherry pick who it ensures. Generally speaking, people want a healthcare system that cares for the sick, eliminates special interest and money hungry health insurance executives.

So when the president — and the media — and the uninsured tell us health care reform must happen right now, it’s fair to wonder why many Congressional leaders– have not answered.

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Obama Working Student Loan Reform

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010


Student loan reform may work its way into the healthcare bill. President Obama has proposed student loan reforms, which would slash subsidies the government gives loan companies like Sallie Mae, would save the government billions of dollars — a critical point given the health care debate has largely come down to arguments over cost savings.

Republicans and Conservative Democrats have expressed concern over the costs of the health bill. Some Democrat leaders who are on the fence about the bill are waiting to see how much money the bill will save businesses, insured, and the government. Leaders are now putting together a compromise version that should make health insurance more affordable. However, details on cost savings are still being worked out.

If President Obama is able to provide medical insurance to millions of Americans and at the same time pass student loan reform, it could give Democrats a clear political victory to pass reforms that would help the uninsured and also thousands of students across the country who last week protested rising higher education costs.

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