Posts Tagged - ‘President Obama’

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Obama Didn’t Realize Affordable Health Insurance Reform Would Be So Hard

Monday, November 8th, 2010

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After his party’s drubbing in the midterm elections, President Obama is Monday-morning quarterbacking. In an exclusive interview with 60 Minutes, he admitted that he didn’t expect the passage and implementation of affordable health insurance reform to have such a high political cost.

Many would consider this view naive, given that presidents have struggled with the complex system for decades. Also, there are many interest groups heavily involved, with a major stake in the issue.

According to Obama, he assumed that his incorporation of proposals previously advanced by Republicans such as Mitt Romney would help bring about some compromise with the GOP. As it turns out, the final product ended up pleasing few: progressive Democrats wanted more, while conservatives wanted far less.

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Should Obama Use Executive Orders To Ban Health Insurance Plans From Increasing Rates?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

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In preparation for healthcare reform regulations that will end up cutting into their profits, insurers are sharply increasing rates while they still can. While Department of Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius has criticized their opportunism–which allegedly goes beyond the actual rise of health care costs–right now, her words have no teeth.

The increases are lowering already shaky public support for the law. What can the Obama administration do? A consumer watchdog group is recommending that the President issue an executive order to freeze health insurance plans‘ premiums until the rate review provisions go into effect in the next plan year.

According to the Supreme Court, presidents are allowed to do so. However, taking that course of action would be politically risky–many already believe that his administration is taking too much control over the health insurance industry.

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What will happen in 2014 with Health Bill

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

(Image: Zef Delgadillo under CC 3.0)

The sweeping healthcare bill is going to impact nearly all Americans. Some changes will take effect immediately, others will happen in 2014. Here are highlights of provisions that won’t impact people right away.

Health Insurance Exchanges will be created to make it easier for small businesses, uninsured and self employed to buy affordable health insurance. Once the insurance exchanges open health insurance companies will no longer be able to charge hike up the prices of premiums or deny sick people coverage.

Mandated Coverage will be implemented if the Senate approves the bill. Those who don’t get health insurance by 2014 will face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of their income whichever one is higher. The plan however exempts poorer families, and subsidies will be provided to families in need.

Medicaid Expansion will go into effect and will help childless adults living near poverty.

Tax breaks will be provided to families for healthcare depending on their annual income.

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What the Health Bill Means for Young Adults

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

(Image: Zef Delgadillo under CC 3.0)

People between ages 19 and 29 are more likely to be uninsured than most other groups. Young adults are also more likely to visit the Emergency Room than many other groups. No one should start out their adult life under a mountain of medical bills. Even a basic individual health insurance plan will limit exposure to unexpected medical costs. Individual health insurance plans for adults ages 18-24 can be as low as $100/month, or less. A health plan can save you thousands of dollars in the event you need emergency care.

What’s more, the health bill extends specific provisions that reach out to young adults. Effective immediately, the legislation allows those through age 26 who do not have medical insurance to remain on their parents’ policies at their parents’ discretion. Currently, states regulate the age at which children are kicked off their parents’ insurance policies. Generally, it’s around 18 years old. Plans will be much more affordable for young adults under the new bill.

There is also immediate help for uninsured individuals with pre-existing conditions. This applies to young adults and all other Americans. The health bill includes a $5 billion fund to finance an immediate, temporary insurance program for those who are uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions.

If you need help finding coverage, health insurance agents will help you compare the costs of various plans at no additional charge.

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Health Bill will Pay for Itself?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

(Image: Zef Delgadillo under CC 3.0)

Democrats are elated about the financial report released by the Congressional Budget Office. It estimated the health bill would reduce projected federal budget deficits by $138 billion over the next decade, with additional tax revenue and Medicare savings.

The report is already helping move the legislation forward. Representative Bart Gordon and Representative Betsy Markey had a change of heart on the healthcare bill. Both Democrats cited the budget report as the deciding factor. Many Senators had expressed concern about the cost of the health bill and were convinced the country just couldn’t afford it.

White House officials are now touting the budget report which they say proves the health care plan will not only save lives, but will also pay for itself in the long run.

The federal government would spend $940 billion over the next 10 years to provide medical coverage to 32 million people who would otherwise be uninsured. More low income individuals will be covered and other families will receive subsidies on behalf of the government to purchase health insurance.

President Obama still needs the support of about six more Democrats to reach the 216 votes needed to pass the affordable health insurance bill. Senators are slated to vote on the health bill this weekend.

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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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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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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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