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The Hidden Cost of Inadequate Health Coverage

The fuss over ObamaCare produces confusion and obscures some important realities that deserve our attention. Much of the political debate creates a polarizing force like a centrifuge, splitting the pros and the cons into opposing camps that line up behind positional opinions about whether healthcare is a right or not. For those opposed to the taxpayer shouldering the financial burden of providing healthcare to those without insurance coverage, the less the taxpayers must fork out to subsidize the uninsured the better. All the while, there is an implied assumption on the part of the entitlement crowd that just providing insurance coverage for the uninsured is the end game. In my opinion, we are all laboring under serious misunderstandings of the reality of the healthcare system and the way the costs are absorbed by society. I was looking for some solid research about the cost of the uninsured, and I came across a powerful and highly useful study from way back in 2003 when the early debate about universal coverage was just beginning. The approach they took to analyzing the problem still has significant value today, and what it says helps shed light on the misunderstandings referenced above. In a preface to the third chapter of the book Hidden Cost, Value Lost*, there is this revealing assertion from their research: The health care services received by uninsured individuals that they do not pay for themselves are picked up or “absorbed” by a number of parties, including:... Read More

 

LA Care CEO Statement on the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

L.A. Care is strongly opposed to the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, which is worse for L.A. Care members – and all of California – than the Repeal and Replace bill passed by the House in May and the bill that was defeated in the Senate in August. What is it?* The Graham-Cassidy bill is a last ditch effort by several Republican Senators that lumps Medicaid and the subsidies for the Exchange into block grants in 2020, leaving it to the states to decide how to allocate funding between Medicaid and the Exchange. It moves the funding formula for the block grants to a method that penalizes the states that expanded Medicaid, like California. Due to these changes, the Medicaid expansion population would be essentially eliminated by 2027. It also eliminates the mandate for individuals to have health insurance – a move that could destabilize the Exchange. This bill will fundamentally alter the federal/state partnership that has been in place since Medicaid’s inception since 1965. These changes will not only impact those who gained coverage through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but also for mothers, children, developmentally disabled and elderly in nursing homes – all who have limited incomes. According to a recent Avelere study, California would be the hardest hit under this proposal, with a reduction in federal funding between $50 billion to $78 billion by 2027.... Read More

 

Where to Now? True North Again

By Kevin Mowll, Executive Director of the RISE Association The failure of the Republicans to repeal, replace, or wreck ObamaCare is a wakeup call for everyone, not just Republicans. While the RISE Association steers away from purely political commentary, the lesson of this protracted political mess needs to be called out for the sake of putting our priorities straight around public policy regarding healthcare reform. In the attached Wall Street Journal article, which suggests that bipartisan solutions are the only remaining way forward, the author proffers hope that the blistering truth will be obvious to all the participants in the 7-year-long fracas around repeal and replace. The bloodied players may still brood in frustration that their political wills were not enough to win, but the author wonders if cooler heads will prevail. I, for one, am not so sanguine; yet I can only hope. https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-search-for-answers-can-they-find-any-across-the-aisle-1501259286 The lesson I take away from the many years of wrangling is that the ObamaCare political football games demonstrates that political wills are not the way forward. They lose sight of the True North issue at hand. Rather, the failures of both political parties in arriving at a bipartisan solution signals the fact that what is good for America is good healthcare policy, not political prowess over rivals. Governing from the fringe is not sustainable in a democracy. ... Read More

 

It’s not Obamacare anymore. It’s our national health-care system.

By Drew Altman and Larry Levitt July 29 Drew Altman is president and chief executive of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Larry Levitt is senior vice president of the Kaiser Foundation. Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act early Friday because of divisions within their own ranks, and because they tried not only to repeal and replace the ACA but also to cut and cap the Medicaid program, generating opposition from many red-state governors and their senators. But most of all, they failed because they built their various plans on the false claim — busted by the Congressional Budget Office — that they could maintain the same coverage levels as the ACA and lower premiums and deductibles, while at the same time slashing about a trillion dollars from Medicaid and ACA subsidies and softening the ACA’s consumer protection regulations. Had they succeeded, they would have won a big short-term victory with their base, which strongly supports repeal, but suffered the consequences in subsequent elections as the same voters lost coverage or were hit with higher premiums and deductibles. ... Read More

 

Unraveled: Prescriptions to Repair a Broken Health Care System

A book review by Kevin Mowll, Executive Director, The RISE Association Drs. Willam Weeks and James Weinstein authored a book whose stories come straight from the office practice histories of two seasoned and concerned physicians. The anecdotes serve to make concrete the doctors’ illustrations of what is currently wrong with the U.S. healthcare system. These stories anchor the analysis and recommendations in human and empathetic terms, making it clear what gets lost in “wonkish” policy debates, and instead, bring it down to real people: patients, families, doctors, and caregivers. In this story-telling mode, nothing is lost in the acute description of the malfunctioning system, outdated incentives, perverse outcomes, and holistic view of what needs to be done to put things back on track. The insights captured in this book were acquired at a high personal cost. In some cases, the painful experiences were borne by the authors themselves. Yet their eyes remained focused on arriving at powerful diagnoses of the systemic ... Read More

 

Getting It Right: True North in Healthcare Reform

The movement to repeal and replace "ObamaCare" created so much political noise that clear thinking has been hard to come by. The 2010 legislation that created the marketplace for individuals and small business (the Affordable Care Act or ACA), has almost evolved into a political Rorschach test. The more that politicized options and alternatives to repealing, replacing, or repairing it were discussed, the harder it was to put into focus the original problems the legislation was designed to address. Nevertheless, the rancorous divisions over what needs to happen to fix problems in the individual insurance market remain a distraction from the real issue at hand: the cost of healthcare weighing down the economy and what we need to do to fix it. With all the intense debates swirling around this topic, an impression emerges that “solving the ObamaCare issues” is something that must be accomplished as an isolated matter, discrete and independent of other problems. The heated debates concentrate on the mechanics and tactics required to solve the "uninsured problem", the "under-insured problem", and for some, the federal budget problems created by the subsidies for low-income enrollees in these plans. This single-issue mono-vision obscures a reality that must be addressed. This perspective completely misses the fact that something is going on that is far more corrosive to the wellbeing of all of us as consumers of health care, as taxpayers, and as a nation: something that overshadows the tug ‘o war over ObamaCare. The critical and overlooked issue is that health care expenditures in the U.S are at least twice as expensive as other nations, which consume so much of the national economy... Read More

 

Repealing Obamacare Isn't Top Priority for Americans

House Republicans plan to hold a vote today on the Trump administration's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare (ACA). Having apparently won the support of more senators, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was confident they now had the 216 yes votes required to pass the bill, saying: "Do we have the votes? Yes. Will we pass it? Yes.” Although a win for the Republicans here would be seen a great triumph for President Trump - delivering on one of his campaign's main promises - recent figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggest that for the American public, repealing the ACA isn't actually such a high priority. When asked how they would rate a number of health care issues in terms of importance, the most pressing matter for respondents was revealed to be 'lowering the amount individuals pay'. As the infographic below shows, in comparison to the 63 percent of respondents in support of putting lower personal costs at the top of Trump's health care agenda, repealing Obamacare is seen as being far less important, with a total of 32 percent. This chart shows the health care issues the U.S. public think President Trump should prioritise.... Read More

 

Repeal the ACA? Not So Easy to Do

Here is an interactive article posted by the New York Times on December 3, 2016. It does a nice job of succintly telling the story with visual, interactive cards. It begins... Republicans plan to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as Obamacare. But the law’s parts are interdependent, and removing some aspects while keeping others will be very difficult.... Read More

 

Has Healthcare Reform Failed?

October 25, 2016 By Kevin Mowll, Executive Director, The RISE Association News articles announce retreats of large insurance companies from the public health insurance exchange markets, leaving many geographic areas served by only one insurance company option, and ask whether "Obamacare" is coming unraveled. Other postings point to the financial losses that these companies have suffered.... Read More

 

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The Hidden Cost of Inadequate Health Coverage

The fuss over ObamaCare produces confusion and obscures some important realities that deserve our attention. Much of the political debate creates a polarizing force like a centrifuge, splitting the pros and the cons into opposing camps that line up behind positional opinions about whether healthcare is a right or not. For those opposed to the taxpayer shouldering the financial burden of providing healthcare to those without insurance coverage, the less the taxpayers must fork out to subsidize the uninsured the better. All the while, there is an implied assumption on the part of the entitlement crowd that just providing insurance coverage for the uninsured is the end game. In my opinion, we are all laboring under serious misunderstandings of the reality of the healthcare system and the way the costs are absorbed by society. I was looking for some solid research about the cost of the uninsured, and I came across a powerful and highly useful study from way back in 2003 when the early debate about universal coverage was just beginning. The approach they took to analyzing the problem still has significant value today, and what it says helps shed light on the misunderstandings referenced above. In a preface to the third chapter of the book Hidden Cost, Value Lost*, there is this revealing assertion from their research: The health care services received by uninsured individuals that they do not pay for themselves are picked up or “absorbed” by a number of parties, including:...
Read More

LA Care CEO Statement on the Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill

L.A. Care is strongly opposed to the Graham-Cassidy health care bill, which is worse for L.A. Care members – and all of California – than the Repeal and Replace bill passed by the House in May and the bill that was defeated in the Senate in August. What is it?* The Graham-Cassidy bill is a last ditch effort by several Republican Senators that lumps Medicaid and the subsidies for the Exchange into block grants in 2020, leaving it to the states to decide how to allocate funding between Medicaid and the Exchange. It moves the funding formula for the block grants to a method that penalizes the states that expanded Medicaid, like California. Due to these changes, the Medicaid expansion population would be essentially eliminated by 2027. It also eliminates the mandate for individuals to have health insurance – a move that could destabilize the Exchange. This bill will fundamentally alter the federal/state partnership that has been in place since Medicaid’s inception since 1965. These changes will not only impact those who gained coverage through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but also for mothers, children, developmentally disabled and elderly in nursing homes – all who have limited incomes. According to a recent Avelere study, California would be the hardest hit under this proposal, with a reduction in federal funding between $50 billion to $78 billion by 2027....
Read More

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