Morning in America Delivered by Democrats

Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.

Source:AlterNet

Author: Leo Gerard

Emphasis Mine

Nine years after the Great Recession began during the tax- and regulation-slashing Bush administration, some startlingly good economic news arrived from Washington, D.C., last week.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2 percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession, and the largest, in percentage terms, ever recorded by the Census Bureau. In addition, the poverty rate fell 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968.  Also smaller were the numbers of Americans without health insurance and suffering food insecurity.

That sounds good, right? Especially after all it took to pull out of the Bush recession. During the month Bush left office, 818,000 Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment increased to 10 percent before President Obama’s stimulus programs started ratcheting it down to the current 4.9 percent. Now, wages are beginning to rise again. It seems like an event that Ronald Reagan might call morning in America. But not the current Republican nominee. Trump says, “This country is a hellhole, and we’re going down fast.”

To hoist America up out of that bogus hellhole, Trump proposes the same tired-and-untrue tax- and regulation-cutting formula that Bush did. The one that actually did drop the country into a hellhole – the Wall Street collapse, massive foreclosures and high unemployment.

Trump offered yet another tax plan last week – the third of his campaign. This one, just like Bush’s, lavishes tax cuts on the rich. He would hack the 35 percent business tax rate to 15 percent. He would eliminate the estate tax paid only by the nation’s richest 0.2 percent. So, basically, Trump would cut taxes for himself – a 10 billionaire.

In Trump’s previous tax plan, low-income people, those in the lowest taxbracket, would have paid 10 percent, but now Trump makes them pay more. They’ll have to cough up 12 percent.

At the same time, Trump said, he’d eliminate all that pesky government regulation that’s getting in the way of business doing whatever it wants. So, for example, he’d abolish that annoying regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That’s the one that just fined Wells Fargo $100 million, part of a total of $185 million in penalties, for issuing credit cards and opening accounts without customers’ consent, sham accounts that customers learned about only after they started accumulating fees and damaging credit. Republicans like Trump have tried to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the day Democrats created it.

By cutting taxes on the rich and letting businesses run roughshod over consumers, Trump claims he would create 25 million jobs over a decade. This is Reagan and Bush trickle-down economics. It worked great for the rich. They got richer and richer. It never worked for the rest. The rest always do better when there’s a Democrat in the White House, as there is now. The Census report issued last week showing progress on wages is testament to that. But there’s more. Far more.

Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found in 2013 that since World War II, the economy performed significantly better under Democratic presidents, regardless of the measurement used. For example, Democratic presidents average 4.35 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Under Republicans, it was 2.54 percent.

Democratic presidents presided over higher stock market returns and corporate profits, greater compensation growth and productivity increases.

Economist Steven Stoft analyzed 72 years of jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, during which Democrats controlled the White House for 36 years and Republicans for 36 years. He found that 58 million jobs were created under Democrats and 26 million under Republicans. That means Democratic presidents created more than twice as many jobs.

Significantly, because Trump is telling African-Americans how horrible their lives and their communities and their schools are, and how great he would be as a Republican president for them, a study published by the American Political Science Association found that that over 35 years of Republican presidents, black unemployment rose 13.7 percent. On the other hand, over 22 years of  Democratic presidents, black unemployment fell 7.9 percent.

And here’s another noteworthy fact as Trump runs around claiming he’s going to bring manufacturing back, even though he manufactures his own signature suits and ties and shirts offshore in places like China and Mexico and Bangladesh: Democrats create manufacturing jobs; Republicans destroy them.

Bloomberg news service analyzed data from the past eight decades and found manufacturing jobs increased under each of the seven Democrats and decreased under the six Republican presidents.

Even as employment expanded, manufacturing jobs declined under Republican presidents. The largest losses occurred under Reagan and the two Bushes – an average of 9 percent.

Republicans are bad for jobs. They’re bad for manufacturing. They’re bad for the GDP in general. Trump’s 25 million job promise? Malarkey.

Moody’s Analytics looked at his tax, trade and immigration policies and projected they’d cause a recession and eliminate 3.5 million jobs. That was before he changed his mind on taxes again and released the third plan this week, but it’s virtually unchanged from the previous two, other than costing low-income people more.

Americans should reject Trump’s Republican trickle-down promises that have done nothing for workers in the past but swipe their cash and flood it up in torrents to billionaires like Trump.

Americans who want a job, a raise, improved GDP, more American manufacturing, better health insurance – just improved security in general – should look to the Democrats. They’ve got a long track record of actually delivering on those promises.

Leo W. Gerard is president of the United Steelworkers union. President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations. Follow him on Twitter @USWBlogger.

See:http://www.alternet.org/labor/morning-america-delivered-democrats?akid=14668.123424.ZC9-4u&rd=1&src=newsletter1064138&t=20

The Moral Challenge Bernie Sanders Brought to the House Falwell Built

Source:ourfuture

Author:Issah J. Poole

Emphasis Mine

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday went to a pillar of the religious right – Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. – to make the case that fighting for economic justice is as moral an undertaking as such cornerstone issues for Christian conservatives as opposing abortion.

“It would, I think, be hard for anyone in this room to make the case that the United States today is a just society or anything close to a just society,” he said in his speech to packed convocation at the school founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, known for forming the Moral Majority political organization and leading its fervent crusades against gay rights, reproductive choice and other progressive positions on social issues. “There is no justice when the top one-tenth of 1 percent own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent. There is no justice when all over this country people are working longer hours for lower wages, while 58 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.”

Nor is there justice, he said, when “low-income and working-class mothers are forced to be separated from their new babies one or two weeks after giving birth” because “the United States is the only major country on earth that does not provide paid family and medical leave,” or when “thousands of people in this country die each year because they don’t have health insurance and don’t get to a doctor when they should.”

I am not a theologian or an expert on the Bible or a Catholic,” he said at one point. “I am just a U.S. senator from the small state of Vermont. But I agree with Pope Francis when he says, ‘The current financial crisis… originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.’”

Sanders early in his address quoted the words of Jesus Christ in the gospel of Matthew (as rendered in the New International Version, a Bible translation popular with conservatives): “So in everything, do to others what you would have them to do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” He closed with a challenge to students seeking to discern how to apply that scripture and other themes of the Gospel to their political engagement: “I would hope very much that as part of that discussion and part of that learning process, some of you will conclude that, if we are honest in striving to be a moral and just society, it is imperative that we have the courage to stand with the poor, to stand with working people, and when necessary, take on very powerful and wealthy people whose greed, in my view, is doing this country enormous harm.”

In a question-and-answer session afterward, Liberty University Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser sought to show common ground with Sanders on making eradicating the vestiges of racism and racial inequality from the society a top priority. But when Nasser quoted presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in saying that racism “is a sin problem, not a skin problem,” Sanders reminded him that it took a Supreme Court, a civil rights movement and “public policy” to end segregation and lay the groundwork for improved race relations.

Sanders also challenged people who fight for “the protection of the unborn” to join him in the fight against threats to the already-born as a result of budget decisions being made by Republicans in Congress, such as proposals that he said would cause 27 million people to lose access to health care, cut billions of dollars in foods assistance to low-income families and cut funding for college aid for low-income students by $90 billion – while giving $250 billion in tax relief over the next 10 years to the top 0.2 percent of wealth holders.

“I don’t think that’s a moral budget,” he said.

See: http://ourfuture.org/20150914/the-moral-challenge-bernie-sanders-brought-to-the-house-falwell-built

Where Government Excels

Sgt._Pepper's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_BandSource: NY Times

Author: Paul Krugman

Emphasis Mine 

As Republican presidential hopefuls trot out their policy agendas — which always involve cutting taxes on the rich while slashing benefits for the poor and middle class — some real new thinking is happening on the other side of the aisle. Suddenly, it seems, many Democrats have decided to break with Beltway orthodoxy, which always calls for cuts in “entitlements.” Instead, they’re proposing that Social Security benefits actually be expanded.

This is a welcome development in two ways. First, the specific case for expanding Social Security is quite good. Second, and more fundamentally, Democrats finally seem to be standing up to antigovernment propaganda and recognizing the reality that there are some things the government does better than the private sector.

Like all advanced nations, America mainly relies on private markets and private initiatives to provide its citizens with the things they want and need, and hardly anyone in our political discourse would propose changing that. The days when it sounded like a good idea to have the government directly run large parts of the economy are long past.

Yet we also know that some things more or less must be done by government. Every economics textbooks talks about “public goods” like national defense and air traffic control that can’t be made available to anyone without being made available to everyone, and which profit-seeking firms, therefore, have no incentive to provide. But are public goods the only area where the government outperforms the private sector? By no means.

 

One classic example of government doing it better is health insurance. Yes, conservatives constantly agitate for more privatization — in particular, they want to convert Medicare into nothing more than vouchers for the purchase of private insurance — but all the evidence says this would move us in precisely the wrong direction. Medicare and Medicaid are substantially cheaper and more efficient than private insurance; they even involve less bureaucracy. Internationally, the American health system is unique in the extent to which it relies on the private sector, and it’s also unique in its incredible inefficiency and high costs.

And there’s another major example of government superiority: providing retirement security.  

Maybe we wouldn’t need Social Security if ordinary people really were the perfectly rational, farsighted agents economists like to assume in their models (and right-wingers like to assume in their propaganda). In an idealized world, 25-year-old workers would base their decisions about how much to save on a realistic assessment of what they will need to live comfortably when they’re in their 70s. They’d also be smart and sophisticated in how they invested those savings, carefully seeking the best trade-offs between risk and return.

In the real world, however, many and arguably most working Americans are saving much too little for their retirement. They’re also investing these savings badly. For example, a recent White House report found that Americans are losing billions each year thanks to investment advisers trying to maximize their own fees rather than their clients’ welfare.

You might be tempted to say that if workers save too little and invest badly, it’s their own fault. But people have jobs and children, and they must cope with all the crises of life. It’s unfair to expect them to be expert investors, too. In any case, the economy is supposed to work for real people leading real lives; it shouldn’t be an obstacle course only a few can navigate.

And in the real world of retirement, Social Security is a shining example of a system that works. It’s simple and clean, with low operating costs and minimal bureaucracy. It provides older Americans who worked hard all their lives with a chance of living decently in retirement, without requiring that they show an inhuman ability to think decades ahead and be investment whizzes as well. The only problem is that the decline of private pensions, and their replacement with inadequate 401(k)-type plans, has left a gap that Social Security isn’t currently big enough to fill. So why not make it bigger?

Needless to say, suggestions along these lines are already provoking near-hysterical reactions, not just from the right, but from self-proclaimed centrists. As I wrote some years ago, calling for cuts to Social Security has long been seen inside the Beltway as a “badge of seriousness, a way of showing how statesmanlike and tough-minded you are.” And it’s only a decade since former President George W. Bush tried to privatize the program, with a lot of centrist support.

But true seriousness means looking at what works and what doesn’t. Privatized retirement schemes work very badly; Social Security works very well. And we should build on that success.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/opinion/paul-krugman-where-government-excels.html?_r=0

The ACA (‘obamacare’) works!!

Source: Gallup

Author: Jena Levi

Emphasis Mine

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The uninsured rate among U.S. adults for the fourth quarter of 2014 averaged 12.9%. This is down slightly from 13.4% in the third quarter of 2014 and down significantly from 17.1% a year ago. The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect one year ago.

010515Q4Uninsured_1_FINAL

The uninsured rate declined sharply in the first and second quarters last year as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state exchanges. After the open enrollment period closed in mid-April, the rate leveled off at around 13%. The 12.9% who lacked health insurance in the fourth quarter is the lowest Gallup and Healthways have recorded since beginning to track the measure daily in 2008. The 2015 open enrollment period began in the fourth quarter on Nov. 15 and will close on Feb. 15.

The fourth-quarter results are based on more than 43,000 interviews with U.S. adults from Oct. 1 to Dec. 30, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Gallup and Healthways ask 500 U.S. adults each day whether they have health insurance, allowing for precise and ongoing measurement of the percentage of Americans who lack health insurance.

Uninsured Rate Drops Most Among Blacks, Low-Income

While the uninsured rate has declined across nearly all key demographic groups since the Affordable Care Act went into effect a year ago, it has plunged most among blacks and lower-income Americans. The uninsured rate among blacks dropped seven points over the past year, while the rate among Americans earning less than $36,000 in annual household income dropped 6.9 points.

The Hispanic population remains a key target of the healthcare law’s marketing efforts, as it continues to be the subgroup with the highest uninsured rate, at 32.4%. Still, the percentage of uninsured Hispanics is down 6.3 points since the end of 2013.

Across age groups, the uninsured rate dropped the most among 18- to 25-year-olds, falling 6.1 points from a year ago. The rate fell 5.6 points for 26- to 34-year-olds, and 5.2 points for 35- to 64-year-olds. The percentage of uninsured Americans aged 65 and older has not changed over the past year, likely because most were already covered through Medicare.

010515Q4Uninsured_3

Two in Five Americans Under 65 Have Employer-Based Coverage

The uninsured rate among 18- to- 64-year-olds dropped to 15.5% from 20.8% a year ago, with most of the dip reflecting Americans gaining coverage through self-funded plans, Medicaid and Medicare. Those aged 65 and older are excluded from this analysis of health insurance type because most are covered through Medicare.

The 20.6% of U.S. adults under the age of 65 who say they are covered by a self-funded plan is up three points since the fourth quarter of 2013. This is likely because more Americans purchased individual plans through a federal or state health insurance exchange.

The percentage of 18- to 64-year-olds with Medicaid (8.6%) has also increased slightly over the past year, which is not surprising because many states expanded Medicaid eligibility so that more lower-income and lower-middle-income Americans could get affordable insurance. There was also a slight increase over the past year in the percentage of those under 65 with Medicare insurance.

The percentage who get their insurance through a current or former employer declined in the first quarter of 2014, but recovered throughout the year.

Type of Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S. Among 18- 64-Year-OldsThe percentage who get their insurance through a current or former employer declined in the first quarter of 2014, but recovered throughout the year.

Implications

The Affordable Care Act has accomplished one of its goals: increasing the percentage of Americans who have health insurance coverage. The uninsured rate as measured by Gallup has dropped 4.2 points since the requirement to have health insurance or pay a fine went into effect. It will likely drop further as plans purchased during the current open enrollment period take effect. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that 6.5 million Americans either selected new plans or were automatically re-enrolled into a plan via HealthCare.gov as of Dec. 26, 2014. Prior to this year’s open enrollment period, Gallup found that more than half of those who were uninsured planned to sign up, a positive sign. Gallup also found that most newly insured Americans planned to renew their policy or get a different policy elsewhere.

Furthermore, the uninsured rate may drop because the healthcare law’s provision requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to provide health insurance to 70% of their workers took effect on Jan. 1. In 2016, companies with 50 or more employees will be required to provide health insurance to 95% of their workers.

Other signs also point to the uninsured rate falling more after this open enrollment period ends. HHS continues to focus on the financial assistance available to enrollees and increasing the fine for not having health insurance: currently $325 per person or 2% of an individual’s yearly household income, whichever is greater. Gallup previously found that higher fines would compel more uninsured Americans to sign up.

The uninsured rate could also fall further as more states expand Medicaid. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia implemented Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act in 2014, which Gallup found to be a major factor in declining uninsured rates. Pennsylvania expanded Medicaid as of Jan. 1, and Arkansas, Iowa and Michigan approved Section 1115 waivers for expansion, giving the secretary of HHS authority to approve experimental, pilot or demonstration projects that promote the objectives of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

However, closing the health insurance gap may be more challenging this year than last, as those who did not sign up last year may be harder to reach or more reluctant to get health insurance. Additionally, the open enrollment period will be nearly two months shorter in 2015 than in 2014.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 1-Dec. 30, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey, with a random sample of 43,016 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index works.

 

See: http://www.gallup.com/poll/180425/uninsured-rate-sinks.aspx

Obamacare’s real danger for the GOP is that it will succeed

Source: Washington Post

Author: Eugene Robinson

” To understand the crisis in Washington, tune out the histrionics and look at the big picture: Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government — and perhaps even refuse to let the Treasury pay its creditors — in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to keep millions of Americans from getting health insurance.

Seriously. That’s what all the yelling and screaming is about. As my grandmother used to say, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

The GOP has tried its best to make Obamacare a synonym for bogeyman and convince people that it’s coming in the night to snatch the children. In fact, and I know this comes as a shock to some, Obamacare is not a mythical creature. It is a law, incorporating what were originally Republican ideas, that will make it possible for up to 30 million people now lacking health insurance to obtain it.Officially, the law in question is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Republicans intended the term “Obamacare” to be mocking, which is perhaps why President Obama started using it with pride.It is, indeed, an achievement of which the nation can be proud. About 48 million individuals in this country lacked health insurance in 2012, according to the Census Bureau, representing about 15 percent of the population. Other industrialized nations provide universal health care — and wonder if this is what we mean when we talk about American exceptionalism.

About 25 percent of people in households with annual incomes below $25,000 are uninsured, compared with just 8 percent in households earning more than $75,000. Do the working poor not deserve to have their chronic medical conditions treated as punishment for not making enough money?

Other rich countries provide truly universal care through single-payer systems of various kinds. Obama chose instead to model the Affordable Care Act after a program implemented on the state level by the Republican governor who became Obama’s opponent in the 2012 presidential election. Yes, before Obamacare there was Romneycare, a private-sector, free-market solution designed to be in accord with the GOP’s most hallowed principles.

But in the years between Mitt Romney’s tenure in Massachusetts and his presidential run, the Republican Party lost its way, or perhaps its mind.

The party shows no serious interest in finding a GOP-friendly way to provide the uninsured with access to health care. Rather, it pursues two goals at any cost: opposing Obama no matter what he does, and making people see Obamacare as a failure.

For the radical far right, making health care more widely available through the existing network of insurers, most of them for-profit companies, is a giant leap toward godless socialism. These extremists hold outsize power in the GOP — enough to make sane Republican officials fear, with some reason, that anything short of massive resistance to Obamacare could lead to a primary challenge and a shortened career.

Some of Obamacare’s provisions are already in force and seem to be having the intended effect. For example, young adults are now allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurancepolicies until age 26. In 2009, 29.8 percent of those 19 through 25 were uninsured; in 2012, 27.2 percent lacked insurance, a modest but significant decline.

Now the central provisions of the Affordable Care Act are set to come into effect — the individual mandate, the insurance exchanges, the guarantee of coverage for those with preexisting conditions. Republicans scream that Obamacare is sure to fail. But what they really fear is that it will succeed.

That’s the reason for all the desperation. Republicans are afraid that Obamacare will not prove to be a bureaucratic nightmare — that Americans, in fact, will find they actually like it. The GOP fears that Obamacare will even be credited with slowing the rise of health-care costs to a more manageable rate. There are signs, in fact, that this “bending of the curve” is already taking place: Medical costs are still rising much faster than inflation but at the slowest rate in decades.

Keeping premiums under control will require persuading lots of young, healthy people to buy insurance — and thus, in effect, subsidize those who are older and sicker. That is why a group called Generation Opportunity, funded by the ultraconservative Koch brothers, plans to tour college campuses with disgusting ads in which a creepy Uncle Sam subjects a young woman to a pelvic examination.

The GOP message: Whatever you do, don’t buy health insurance. It may be — shudder — good for you.”

Read more from Eugene Robinson’s archivefollow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. You can also join him Tuesdays at 1 p.m. for a live Q&A.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-obamacare-the-gop-nightmare/2013/09/23/fd29187a-246a-11e3-b75d-5b7f66349852_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions

Proof That Obamacare ‘Rate Shock’ Is An Ugly Insurance Company Deception

Source: Forbes

Author: Rick Ungar

“Over the past few months, the nation’s largest health insurance companies have been hard at work selling a narrative claiming that the Affordable Care Act is about to result in dramatically larger premium costs for a significant number of Americans. Indeed, the warnings have become so worrisome that the massive increases they are predicting have taken on a frightening descriptor all its own—rate shock.

At the heart of the health insurers’ retelling of the Chicken Little story is a regulation promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services a few months back limiting what a health insurer can charge a 64 year old to three times what they charge a 21 year old. Currently, the average bump for older participants is typically five times that of the younger customers—although there are examples where the increase can reach ten times what is paid by the young immortals buying coverage.

As a result of the lower premium prices that will be paid by older participant, the expectation—one created by the large insurance companies—is that the youngest participants will have to pay significantly more to make up the difference.

Now, The Urban Institute—an organization so clearly bi-partisan that even the most suspicious partisan would encounter extreme difficulty making a case for bias—is out with a study that states that the ‘rate shock’ argument is “unfounded”, particularly when applied to the millions of Americans in the individual market.

As noted in the report summary:

“Overall, we find that loosening the rate bands from 3:1
to 5:1 would have very little impact on out-of-pocket
rates paid by the youngest nongroup purchasers, once subsidies are taken into account. This is not only the case for all likely purchasers, but also for two populations of particular concern: the 10 million 21-27 year olds who are currently uninsured and the 3 million who currently have nongroup coverage.”

By suggesting that the insurance company claims are merely ‘unfounded’, The Urban Institute is being quite kind as I would suggest a far harsher explanation for their scare tactics.

What the insurance industry is not telling you—as revealed by The Urban Institute study—is that the overwhelming majority of young people who would be charged a higher premium to make up for the lower premiums to be paid by their elders will either be covered by the premium subsidies offered via the insurance exchanges or eligible for Medicaid under the expansion of the program extending health coverage to those earning 133 percent above the federal poverty line.

Therefore, as clearly stated by the report, the lowered premium costs to the oldest participants in an insurance plan would have very little impact on out-of-pocket rates paid by the youngest nongroup purchasers.” 

According to the study, here are the estimates:

  • 92 percent of people ages 21 to 27 projected to buy an individual plan in an exchange in 2017 are expected to have incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty line, so they would be eligible either for Medicaid (if their state expands it) or for substantial subsidies to help pay premiums in the exchange.
  • Similarly, 88 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds projected to buy a plan in the exchange are expected to be eligible for premium subsidies or Medicaid.

In addition to the above statistics, The Urban Institute study highlights the fact that of the 961,000 young adults between the age of 21 and 27 who currently buy their own health insurance as an individual and make too much money to qualify for premium subsidies or Medicaid, a full two-thirds are 26 years old or younger and are in families receiving employer coverage. Accordingly, these kids can receive health insurance coverage under their parent’s employment policy as Obamacare requires that insurers allow parents to add their kids who are under 26 to their employment based health care plan.

While any new law as significant as the Affordable Care Act creates questions and concerns, the false campaign being waged by the health insurance companies is a prime example of an industry using fear as a tool to get the government to change a regulation that they don’t like.

There remain questions as to the impact the rate band limitations will have on businesses that provide health insurance to employees—particularly those with a younger employee base. However, the expectation is that—given the reality that businesses tend to have a ‘spread’ in the age of employees—things should average out. Under the current structure, businesses are paying less in premium contributions for younger employees but considerably more for older employees. Under Obamacare, the prices will rise at the younger end of the scale but decrease significantly for older workers.

For this reason, the primary concern has been focused on what the changes will mean for younger health insurance customers who purchase individual policies.

As The Urban institute study makes crystal clear, the ‘rate shock’ controversy has far more to do with insurance company lobbying efforts and far less to do with the reality of what health insurance will cost for millions of young Americans.

Contact Rick at thepolicypage@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter andFacebook.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/03/26/proof-that-obamacare-rate-shock-is-an-ugly-insurance-company-deception/

 

Happy Birthday Medicare!

Medicare

What is Medicare?

Medicare is a national social insurance program, (like Social Security) administered by the U.S. federal government since 1965, that guarantees access to health insurance for Americans ages 65 and older and younger people with disabilities as well as people with end stage renal disease. As a social insurance program, Medicare spreads the financial risk associated with illness across society to protect everyone, and thus has a somewhat different social role from private insurers, which must manage their risk portfolio to guarantee their own profit – if not solvency.

A brief history.

In 1965, Congress created Medicare under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide health insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history. Before Medicare’s creation, only half of older adults had health insurance, with coverage often unavailable or unaffordable to the other half. Older adults had half as much income as younger people and paid nearly three times as much for health insurance. (Medicare also spurred the integration of thousands of waiting rooms, hospital floors, and physician practices by making payments to health care providers conditional on desegregation.)

Success

While the USA does not have good results (compared to other industrialized nations) in measures such as average life expectancy and infant mortality, we rank well in the measure of those who reach 65 living until 85.

Medicare administrative overhead costs (2%) are well below the overhead of large companies that are self-insured (5-10%), health insurers offering coverage to small employers (25-27%), and individual insurance (40%). Insurers offering coverage in “Medicare Advantage” plans spend up to 16.7% on profit and overhead.

Who is eligible?

As above, Americans ages 65 and older (who have been legal residents of the United States for at least 5 years ) and younger people with disabilities as well as people with end stage renal disease.

What is covered?

There are four parts to Medicare: types A, B, C, and D.

Part A (hospital insurance) covers inpatient hospital stays (at least overnight), including semiprivate room, food, and tests, and brief stays for convalescence in a skilled nursing facility if certain criteria are met.

Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for some services and products not covered by Part A, generally on an outpatient basis, e.g. doctor visits.

Part C With the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Medicare beneficiaries were given the option to receive their Medicare benefits through private health insurance plans, instead of through the original Medicare plan (Parts A and B). As Part C cost the government about 14% more than traditional Medicare, it is being phased out, as per the ACA.

Part D (prescription drug plans)went into effect on January 1, 2006. Anyone with Part A or B is eligible for Part D. Part D is not ‘human friendly’ because it covers prescriptions up to a cost point, then no long covers them until another cost point is reached (the coverage gap or ‘donut hole’). Part D did not allow for negotiation of prescription prices, but this and the coverage gap are addressed in the ACA.

Who benefits from Medicare?

Those eligible above, and their children and/or other family members, as the latter do not have to bear the cost for the care!

How is it funded?

Medicare has several sources of financing. Part A largely is funded by revenue from a 2.9 percent [payroll tax] levied on employers and workers (each pay 1.45 percent). Until December 31, 1993, the law provided a maximum amount of compensation on which the Medicare tax could be imposed each year. Beginning January 1, 1994, the compensation limit was removed. Part B is funded in part by premiums paid by the recipient (about $100/month).

Changes under the ACA.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) of 2010 made a number of changes to the Medicare program. Several provisions of the law were designed to reduce the cost of Medicare. Congress reduced payments to privately managed Medicare Advantage plans to align more closely with rates paid for comparable care under traditional Medicare. Congress also slightly reduced annual increases in payments to physicians and to hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients. Along with other minor adjustments, these changes reduced Medicare’s projected cost over the next decade by $455 billion.

Due to the passage of the ACA Medicare’s unfunded obligation over the next 75 years declined from $13.4 trillion to $3 trillion.

The ACA also made some changes to Medicare enrollee’s’ benefits. By 2020, it will close the so-called “donut hole” between Part D plans’ coverage limits and the catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket spending, reducing a Part D enrollee’s’ exposure to the cost of prescription drugs by an average of $2,000 a year.  Limits were also placed on out-of-pocket costs for in-network care for Medicare Advantage enrollees.  Meanwhile, Medicare Part B and D premiums were restructured in ways that reduced costs for most people while raising contributions from the wealthiest people with Medicare. The law also expanded coverage of preventive services.

What does Medicare Cost us as a nation?

As a share of GDP, Medicare cost is expected to increase from 3.6 percent in 2010 to 5.6 percent in 2035 and to 6.2 percent by 2080. That is, a mere 4% – 6 % to provide health care for our old and disabled citizens.

Why is Medicare Under attack?

This is not an easy point to address from a non-partisian standpoint! If one has as a dogma that no government program can be successful, then counter examples of very successful programs such as Medicare and Social Security are a threat. If one believes that Medicare is a major drain on our finances (it isn’t), then one might view it as an opportunity to cut spending. It revisits the failed privatize Social Security efforts of the last decade. The major causes of our current debut are the reduced tax rates on high incomes, and two wars.

From Politifact:

Barack Obama has slashed Medicare by $500 billion. Mitt Romney and House Republicans want to end Medicare. And a new board is going to ration care so Washington can waste more money. 

Believe any of that? You shouldn’t.” (Politifact)

Information from many sources, including:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_(United_States)