We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

Most People Like Obamacare when...

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John Eyster
Monday, July 9, 2012

Most People Like Obamacare!

I realize that some readers will post comments attacking this post immediately without reading the whole post. Sad, but too true! I DARE YOU – each and every person accessing this blog post – to READ THE WHOLE POST before you comment. This post is based on the very informative AlterNet feature by Joshua Holland, an editor and senior writer at AlterNet, who is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America, “10 Reasons Most People Like Obamacare Once They Know What's Really In It.” Read and see what YOU really do KNOW and THINK!

As YOU read the comments on this post, I wonder how many comments YOU will identify which are OFF THE TOP reactions written based on the title and NOT the content of this post? Time will tell, but from previous posts, we KNOW there will be several comments which are NOT based on reading the whole post!

This post is based on the very informative AlterNet feature by Joshua Holland, an editor and senior writer at AlterNet, who is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America, “10 Reasons Most People Like Obamacare Once They Know What's Really In It.”

I want to alert you to 2 sources on health care reform in WI and then I'll come back to the Holland article. I read thoroughly with MUCH APPRECIATION the weekly edition of our MILTON COURIER which is published on Thursdays. Last Thursday, July 5, the Courier had 2 features in its “People’s Forum” section which I want to call to your attention.

While I am not able to access online at the Courier’s website, I can share the link to Thomas W. Still’s column for the Wisconsin Technology Council with recommendation that you read his column, “Inside WI: Supreme Court ruling or no, health care reform well under way in America.”

I encourage you to review the trends which Still cites which are changing the face of health care in America: Demographics, Technology – I am sure you all know about Epic Systems in Verona and Consumers - He touts John Torinus’ book, “The Company That Solved Health Care” suggesting that it provides a model for business.

Important information with valuable perspectives. READ IT!

And then, the Courier published Senator Tim Cullen’s letter to Governor Walker re. setting up health insurance exchanges in WI in its regular feature, “Wisconsin Legislative Update.” I am not able to link to the Milton Courier's "Wisconsin Legislative Update" feature. I am able to link to the original letter to the Governor via Senator Cullen's Senate website, "Letter to Governor Walker." The letter focused on the development a WI-specific health insurance exchange. It is published on p. 20 of the July 5, 2012 issue of the Milton Courier.

Noting Senator Cullen’s unusual expertise in health care, I would hope that Governor Walker really gives thoughtful attention to Cullen’s recommendations. Remember: Senator Cullen retired from WI Blue Cross/Blue Shield when it was reorganized in 2007. He retired as Senior Vice President as he completed his career at WI Blue Cross/Blue Shield which started in 1988 when he was hired away from Governor Tommy Thompson’s first cabinet in which he had been Secretary of the largest state department – the Department of Health and Social Services. Governor Thompson had recruited Cullen from his leadership position as Majority Leader of our WI State Senate. Cullen served in our WI State Senate from 1974 until joining Thompson’s cabinet. He was the Majority Leader serving the Democratic majority in the sessions of 1981, 1983 and 1985. When Senator Judy Robson retired from the Senate, Cullen ran for the 15th Senate District and was reelected to the Senate in 2010.
I believe that Senator Cullen has expertise and experience to be a valuable advisor to Governor Walker and our WI State Government on effective health care reform in WI. What do YOU think?

Back to the national perspective articulated by the Holland article. As I have studied the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, I know the truth of Holland’s assertion, “There are two Affordable Care Acts. There's the legislation passed by Congress in 2009, and then there's the mythical Affordable Care Act – the perfidious “government takeover” decried and demagogued by so many conservatives (and quite a few liberals). The former is quite popular, the latter gets decidedly mixed reviews.”

Consider the report summarized by Holland, “A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Americans split down the middle, with 41 percent approving of the law, and 40 percent saying they didn't like it. But then Kaiser asked about 12 specific provisions in the legislation, and found that, on average, 63 percent of respondents approved of the nuts and bolts of Obamacare. Of the 12 measures they tested, only one – the controversial mandate to carry health insurance or pay a penalty – received the approval of less than half of Americans (35 percent).”

Consider too his alert, “And here's the kicker: Kaiser found that the most popular parts of the law were also the ones most Americans weren't aware of, and vice-versa. Almost everyone knows about the mandate, which most people don't like, but fewer than half of those polled knew about the law's tax credits for small businesses that offer their employees coverage, a provision that eight out of 10 people liked when they heard about it.”

I believe this makes Holland’s article very valuable to inform WE THE PEOPLE of the US as to the specifics of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare. Here are the key points he cites – YOU need to read the explications for each.

1 - People Will Be Getting Checks - Call it a crazy hunch, but my guess is that the law will look a lot less tyrannical when people start getting checks in the mail to help pay for their insurance.

2 - The Richest Americans Are Going to Pay More Taxes - Wealthy investors are outraged, but most people probably don't know that a 3.8% surcharge on investment income – dividends and capital gains -- kicks in this January for everyone with an adjusted gross income of over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers). So those currently enjoying the lowest rate on investments in our nation's history will pay for a decent chunk of the bill.

3 - Insurers' Overhead – and Profit Margins -- Are Limited

4 - Much Ado About the Mandate - With the Supreme Court's ruling last week, the mandate is gone, but the penalty for not carrying insurance remains. If there's one thing Democrats, Republicans and independents agree on, it's that they don't like it.

I would add here my suggestion that you read the Wisconsin State Journal’s editorial published yesterday, “Time to slow soaring health care costs.”

I agree with the gist of the editorial that it is NOT tax, penalty or fee that is KEY to the reform of health care in the US. The KEY is: “…containing cost, so the quality — rather than quantity — of care is rewarded.”

The editorial asserts, “The word games aren’t important. What’s crucial is controlling cost. And having near-universal insurance coverage should save money by encouraging more preventive care and fewer trips to emergency rooms.”

For WE THE PEOPLE of WI, the editorial reminds us that we NEED to move ahead NOW to prepare for reasonable and healthy health care reform.

I agree with the editorial's heads up to Gov. Walker, “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he intends to delay implementation of the federal health care law at the state level until after the fall elections. But November’s vote is unlikely to change much, regardless of who wins the White House. That’s because neither party is likely to have the political power or credibility necessary to adopt or repeal much of anything without help from the other side.

“So Walker better have a plan for implementation ready to go.” Do YOU agree?

5 - And Nobody Ever Talks About the Employer Mandate - Starting in 2014, companies with 50 or more full-time workers (two part-timers count as one full-timer for this purpose) will have to pay penalties if they don't cover their employees' health insurance.

6 - Shaves the Deficit – While Mitt Romnney says,“Obamacare adds trillions to our deficits and to our national debt, and pushes those obligations onto coming generations,” the non-partisan, well respected Congressional Budget Office calculates that the law will reduce the projected deficit by $210 billion over the next decade.

7 - Chicks Will Dig This - Many people are aware of the regulation requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. It's one of the most popular parts of the whole. But fewer know that, beginning in 2014, insurers won't be able to charge women higher premiums than men.” I myself think that the prohibition on lifetime coverage limits which is already in place with the ban on ANNUAL LIMITS starting in 2014 are VERY significant.

8 - New Dollars for Community Health Centers - Community health centers (CHCs) now serve the primary care needs of about 20 million Americans, and they have a proven track record. But the system is strained and underfunded. The expansion of Medicaid will help alleviate some of the pressure, and the healthcare law also allocates $11 billion over a five-year period to build new CHCs and upgrade existing infrastructure. Most of the dollars will end up in poorer communities.”

9 - Essential Benefits - Starting in 2014, in order for insurers to sell coverage through state-based exchanges (this is a feature which Gov. Walker NEEDS to take seriously and proceed to have a WI exchange ready to go… whether or not the Affordable Care Act is tweaked or repealed, this is a FEATURE which is NEEDED in WISCONCIN! I urge, DO IT NOW! WHY NOT?! What do YOU think?

10 - It's Not So Easy to Repeal - There is no doubt that we'll hear lots of Republicans blustering about how they'll repeal Obamacare on day one if they win the White House and the Senate, but it's a lot less clear that they'd actually follow through.

I agree with the conclusion of Holland’s article, “The takeaway to all of this is that the healthcare law is only going to get more popular as it's provisions kick in. People will see some tangible benefits, and the fearmongering will prove unfounded.” Do YOU agree?

Here we go...

Mr. E.

Last updated: 10:32 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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