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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Conservatives Won't Tell You - But The ACA Is Doing The Job

Category: Health Care
Posted: 04/18/14 00:24

by Dave Mindeman

The ACA hit 8 million sign-ups.

Actually it is over that figure, but the 8 million is a good announcement figure. Except you won't hear much about it from conservative media. Fox News front page had a single small link which actually appeared in the Fox Business section, not the main page.

The main page, of course, had to blair the headline....

REID: Bundy Supporters Are Terrorists

The Minnesota conservative blog aggregate is Look True North. Not one single post about the ACA milestone - even to criticize it.

Everything about the ACA is starting to fall into place-- as it was designed to do. The numbers surpassed projections. The 18-34 group makes up about 28% of the total - a little low, but it has been steadily climbing and will probably be a bigger share in the 2015 sign up period.

Polls indicate that the number of uninsured is dropping -- much more in the states that accepted the Medicaid expansion. Numbers are beginning to show that over 5 million people are being DENIED the opportunity to sign up in the "red" states that refused the expansion.

The number of paid premiums is in the 85 to 90% range.

Even the persistent critique about "keeping your plan if you like it" has a snag to it. Obamacare has 10 certain requirements that make an insurance plan offer true complete insurance. I think it is worth noting what those 10 items are:

1. Ambulatory Health Services. This is basically outpatient care and most insurance coverages had this.

2. Prescription Drug Coverage. Most insurance plans would offer this ONLY with an additional cost. With the ACA, some form of this must be offered in the original plan.

3. Emergency Room Visits. Most plans had this but the ACA did away with coverage denial because it lacked "pre-authorization". Some plans would still write that into their policies - now they cannot.

4. Mental Health Services. Few insurance plans would write this into their policies. They must have it with the ACA although they can charge up to $40 as a copay.

5. Hospitalization. Plans usually covered this but with all sorts of different variables. The ACA requires coverage - although up to 20% copayment may be needed within deductible limits.

6. Rehabilitative and Habilitative Services. A lot of insurance plans would cover rehab - but the ACA requires habilitative service which are therapies to help overcome long-term disabilities, such as those that accompany a disease like multiple sclerosis. Insurance plans tried to opt out of a long term commitment.

7. Preventive and Wellness Services. The ACA instructs insurers to provide all of the 50 preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force at no extra cost. Prior to the ACA, insurance would only cover things they knew could save THEM money in the long run. Others would ignore all of it and take their chances if the contract was short term. Many believe that this part of the ACA will be the biggest cost saver in the law.

8. Laboratory Services. Although most lab test were always covered, the ACA makes it a standard. Insurance companies can't pick and choose which test can be in their plan.

9. Pediatric Care. The ACA adds some preventative dental and vision coverage as mandatory.

10. Maternity and Newborn Care. Yeah - men don't need this, but their significant others might in family coverage. Some of this care, like prenatal nutrition and care and some parts of childbirth were left out of regular insurance coverage. Up to 2/3's of plans did not meet the new ACA requirements in this area.

When you look at these standard coverages in the new law, you can see how many of the "junk" plans would have to be scrapped and new policies issued. Yes, a lot of people lost the plan they "liked"....they were just fortunate enough not to need it.

A lot of the insurance horror stories and coverage nightmares that have become part of media coverage over the years will be ending.

Reliable, affordable health care is here to stay. The conservatives will continue to complain about whatever they can...they have to, it has become their only political plan for this election cycle. But the ACA is working and has gone beyond the threshold of viability.

We can now move on to improve the law where needed and health care can be a bipartisan priority.

At least I can dream.....
comments (4) permalink

Yes, MNsure Was A Disaster - But People Still Got Healthcare

Category: Health Care
Posted: 04/08/14 20:15

by Dave Mindeman

I fully understand the frustration Governor Dayton must feel. The plethora of Republican candidates looking to take his job are falling all over themselves to find an issue against him.

After all, the economy is great. The budget is in surplus. Minimum wage is going up. Property taxes are going down. Business is getting more tax breaks. The school shift has been repaid. On and on and on. What's a Republican to do? Well, they think they have a winner in MNsure.

And yes, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

It is noted that the legislative committees involved want to press on for hearings to find out what the problems were....especially after the Star Tribune published a time line of problems prior to the exchange going live.

Now, it's not like Gov. Dayton hasn't taken responsibility for the problems. He is ultimately in charge and he has said so. But I think he has gotten frustrated by the unrelenting discussions about what happened. Especially in light of the fact that nobody is talking about the solutions or the fact that 175,000 people DID get insurance.

So, I think Dayton is allowed a moment of venting...

During a news conference Tuesday, Dayton said Republicans are "making a mockery of the word oversight" and engaging in a "propaganda campaign" aimed at destroying MNsure.

"It is really irresponsible," Dayton said. "The fact that they can pretend this is part of the oversight process is just ludicrous. They want to trash MNsure. ... They want MNsure to fail."

I think that after thinking about all of this for a bit of reflection, Governor Dayton will reassess and give the committee access to his staff and let the testimony go forward.

We do need to understand what happened at MNsure. It was a huge problem and the citizens of Minnesota deserve to know why they were left on hold for hours and why applications were bungled - especially in the early going.

I think it is also time that April Todd-Malmlov starts talking....

Legislative Auditor James Nobles, who is conducting a review of MNsure, said Todd-Malmlov has so far declined to discuss her stewardship of the agency. Nobles said he will take the unusual step of issuing a subpoena and using the courts to compel her testimony if she does not come in voluntarily for an interview. Nobles will ask legislators today to to approve his request to broaden the scope of his MNsure investigation.

The Star Tribune article seems to come back to Todd-Malmlov often. She withheld vital information. Did not keep the board informed. She did not understand or look into here alternatives. From the Tribune article, I think it is fair to say that she botched it. Maybe leaving the post was enough at the time, but with all the new information, she needs to explain. Really explain.

Nobles and the legislative committees need to subpoena her and compel her to testify. All information leads to her and she cannot wash her hands of the responsibility.

But let's also remember the other side of this:

The problems were in the technology. The law itself was fine. The law itself did its job. People got healthcare. They got affordable health care. Now that this initial phase is over and the crush of people have gotten through to make the applications and select their plans - we can safely say that MNsure, the law - worked.

People were frustrated but they do have health care. People were annoyed but they do have health care. People deserved better in the implementation but they do have health care.

So - if our Republican ideologues can look at this with some perspective, then by all means - hold your hearings and find out what the problems were.

And then let's move on and let the Governor get back to the excellent job he is doing for the state of Minnesota.
comments (0) permalink

The Moral Hypocrisy Of Hobby Lobby

Category: Health Care
Posted: 04/02/14 14:53, Edited: 04/02/14 14:54

by Dave Mindeman

In the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case about contraceptive in health care plans, it is somewhat a foregone conclusion that the Majority Five will strike down the Obamacare contraceptive initiative.

But it looks like Hobby Lobby itself is standing on moral ground made of quick sand.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor in December of 2012 show that the company's 401(k) employee retirement fund is invested in firms that manufacture the very drugs that Hobby Lobby's founding family, the Greens, are trying to keep out of their employees' hands.

So Hobby Lobby feels a moral obligation to keep contraceptives away from their employees in health care.....while investing their retirement money in the companies that make actual abortion inducing products. It is an interesting list:

These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.

Some of the listed products above ARE actually used in abortions. And none of these would be involved in a contraception mandate. The Hobby Lobby investments are far closer to supporting abortion than any kind of contraception mandate could ever come.

Women would use birth control pills so that they can prevent the use of the listed investment products. Now, I certainly wouldn't accuse Hobby Lobby of that sort of conflict of interest - but if they are going to be so careful to follow their religious beliefs in their health care plan, how can they justify that kind of monetary support.

The hypocrisy reeks - and the Supreme Court ignores the contradictions.
comments (0) permalink
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