Posts Tagged - ‘republicans’

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Should Republicans Drop Their Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance?

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The GOP believes that the federal government should stay out of health care. Some liberal union groups are calling their bluff, and challenging Republican politicians to opt out of the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plan.

While the strategy is appealing, there are significant pitfalls. Most strikingly, the FEHBP is at its core an employer-sponsored health insurance plan–the employer just happens to be in the public sector. The GOP has never expressed opposition for that type of coverage.

A handful of representatives and senators may take up the challenge, however, to score political points. Some are independently wealthy and can easily afford individual coverage.

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Health Insurance Companies Spent $86 Million on Anti-Healthcare Reform Lobbying

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Image: DonkeyHotey under CC 3.0

Some people may worry that this is what at least a portion of their health insurance premiums has been paying for: according to Bloomberg’s examination of major insurers’ tax records, they spent a total of $86 million on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s campaign to defeat the Obama administration’s healthcare reform legislation in 2009.

These expenses–public rallies and events, media advertisements, and sponsored polling meant to sway opinion–would probably not qualify as falling under the medical loss ratio guidelines, which say that a certain percentage of customer premiums should be spent on providing care through their health insurance plans, as opposed to administrative and other expenses. Cigna and United HealthCare were among the biggest givers. In addition, the Chamber of Commerce is only one of the myriad interest groups opposing the law.

Was it a worthwhile investment? The bill passed early this year, so maybe not. However, they appear to have successfully swayed the views of a significant portion of the American public. The Republicans now taking over Congress will do their best to weaken the law, if not repeal it entirely.

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Congress’ Health Insurance Coverage Takes Time to Kick In

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Image: SourceWatch

Elected officials tend to enjoy generous health insurance benefits, fully paid for by the government. Members of Congress are no different. However, in one way they aren’t different from you and me: their employer-sponsored health coverage doesn’t kick in immediately.

Newly hired (or elected) representatives and senators must wait 28 days before they can take advantage of the federal health insurance plan. Rep.-elect Andy Harris of Maryland is currently protesting this waiting period, and expressed his problem during freshman orientation earlier this week. It may raise the eyebrows of some that Harris is a Republican who largely ran (and won) on his opposition to healthcare reform and the Obama administration’s increased involvement. He has vowed that he will seek to repeal the law as a member of the House of Representatives.

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Texas Medicaid Health Insurance in Danger

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Image: jpo under CC 3.0

Across the country, states are struggling to balance their budgets. (Unlike the federal government, they don’t have the luxury of running a deficit.) This generally requires some combination of raising revenue through taxes and cutting spending programs.

The Republicans that triumphed in the midterm elections are adamant about only using the former. In Texas, they are even considering cutting the affordable health insurance program for the poor, Medicaid. Although the program itself is largely run by the federal government, state governments contribute.

According to supporters of the withdrawal, Texas would launch its own health plan for the impoverished. Many aren’t holding their breath. There is also speculation that the proposal is at least partially intended to spite the Obama administration in Washington for getting involved in individual Texas health insurance matters.

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First Step for GOP: Repealing Health Insurance Reform?

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Image: Gage Skidmore under CC 3.0

After a mostly triumphant Tuesday, Republicans are gearing up to take on several legislative centerpieces of the Obama administration. Most significantly, they are looking to say sayonara to healthcare reform by repealing what they refer to as “Obamacare”.

On CBS’ Face the Nation, current Senate Minority Leader (the Democrats retained control of the Senate) Mitch McConnell stated that the GOP was given a wide mandate by independent voters to repeal healthcare reform. According to them, they owe it to the American people to do better and come up with another way of making health insurance plans more accessible.

For their part, Dems are skeptical that the law can actually be reversed so easily. Those looking for it to happen as soon as the new congresspersons are sworn in in January will be disappointed. For one thing, Obama is sure to veto any such legislation that reaches his desk.

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

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Image: Beverly & Pack under CC 3.0

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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Oklahoma Passes Ban On Health Insurance Plan Mandate

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Image: KB35 under CC 3.0

The big story involving last week’s elections is the resurgence of Republicans; they took over the House, and made up lost ground in the Senate. That will surely impact several policy priorities, including healthcare reform repeal.

Voters in Oklahoma also spoke out by passing an amendment to their state constitution that prohibits the federal government from forcing residents to purchase a health insurance plan, in response to the unpopular mandate provision.

Two thirds of voters in the state sent a message that the Obama administration should not become involved in Oklahoma health insurance matters. However, the amendment will probably have little actual impact on the federal government’s actions.

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IRS’ Affordable Health Insurance Reform Implementation in Danger

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Image: numberstumper under CC 3.0

Understandably, most people aren’t huge fans of the IRS. For the most part, Americans communicate with them when they’re taking money out of their pockets during tax season. However, a provision of the new healthcare reform law has the Internal Revenue Service actually attempting to give money back!

The law is meant to make affordable health insurance more widely available through tax credits to small businesses that provide coverage to their employees. Doing so will require more manpower and resources for implementation and enforcement of the program. Some Republican candidates are considering defunding the IRS and other agencies involved to stifle healthcare reform, since it is predicted to take $5 to $10 billion for each agency to fully implement it.

Congress has the power to do so, and does not require President Obama to sign off on a repeal he would be guaranteed to veto. Ironically, one of the most business-friendly provisions may suffer as a result.

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Can Healthcare Reform “Repeal and Replace” Promises Be Trusted?

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Image: Keven Law under CC 3.0

The Republican party is staunchly against the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law. So much so, that its politicians promise that if they regain the majority in Congress, one of their first tasks will be to repeal “Obamacare”. Then, they promise that they will replace it with a more moderate, business-friendly solution.

What they promote sounds like a good idea–retaining the popular measures, such as making it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to buy a health insurance plan; while dropping the potentially troublesome elements like the individual mandate.

However, history may make some skeptical of the GOP’s pledge. After helping to torpedo President Bill Clinton’s health insurance reform proposal in the early 1990s, they basically ignored the issue for over a decade of controlling the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the meantime, the issue became more pressing–and may need more drastic solutions than it did back then.

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Carter: Ted Kennedy Killed Affordable Health Insurance Reform

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Image: Mitchell Weinstock under CC 3.0

Saying that the late Ted Kennedy stood in the way of comprehensive healthcare reform seems strange: the liberal Democrat took on that issue for decades before his death last year. But that’s what former President Jimmy Carter claims.

Specifically, Carter accuses Kennedy of shooting progressives’ cause in the foot because he opposed a Carter administration proposal in 1978. Kennedy supported a single-payer national health insurance system and considered it a civil right, similar to the “public option” touted in recent years. Labor unions also funded the Campaign for National Health Insurance, which convinced Kennedy to back out of a compromise proposal with Republican Gerald Ford in 1975 due to the potential for soon having a Democrat in office. However, Carter was more moderate than they expected.

In retrospect, it may have made more sense to accept the affordable health insurance reform Carter offered–which would have been effect for decades by now. Washington, D.C. has only become more conservative and polarized since then, and subsequent policy proposals were even more narrow.

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