Ted Cruz Baits American People on ObamaCare, and Fails Miserably

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In a well-timed but poorly executed effort to attack the Affordable Care Act, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) took to his Facebook to sarcastically ask people whether or not they were better off since the inception of Obamacare.

Unexpectedly – at least for Sen. Cruz – an overwhelming number of people replied with a resounding YES.

One woman noted that her sister, a cancer survivor, will no longer be denied coverage and more than a few people mentioned the positive effects the ACA has had on whole families.

You can view more comments on Senator Cruz’s Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Kent Williams via Flickr.

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Affordable Care Act Is Really Working

The Affordable Care Act has been a true boon to the health and well-being of everyday Americans, and the benefits of it just keep growing. Just in case anyone you know has been wondering why we need the Affordable Care Act, Working America members have answers:

My husband was a truck driver, but his diabetes prevented him from being able to pass the physical exam he needed to keep his job, and he consequently lost his position and the healthcare insurance that went with it. He found another job, and he is now working as an independent courier. He works 7 days a week, 9 – 12 hours a day, but receives no healthcare benefits whatsoever. Because he has no insurance, the dental work that he needs would cost us $16,000 out-of-pocket. This dental work is extremely important for managing his diabetes, but we cannot afford it, especially since we already have to pay $475/month for his medicine.

Another man I know is going without healthcare as well. He was laid off from his good manufacturing job, and now makes $9.50/hr: less than half of what he formerly made. And he receives no healthcare benefits. AdultBasic (a program that provided health coverage for low-income adults) possibly could have helped him, but it was cut.

It is extremely apparent that the Affordable Care Act is necessary, especially since healthcare is so hard to afford and access during a jobs crisis and an era of Draconian cuts.

- C. Frye, wife and mother

I’ve always been employed, and I’ve almost always had healthcare. I am really thankful to have always had it, because my life would have been extremely different without it.

I know neighbors, local artists, and wait staff that lack healthcare. When they can access it, they have to pay a tremendous amount of money between the premiums and the deductibles, and they’re not exactly working in lucrative fields.

People shouldn’t live in fear of getting sick and their entire worlds imploding over something they may or may not have any control over.

Being able to take care of your health is essential, and it’s a right.

- E. Quigley, HR Staff

Making coverage broader, more accessible, and more affordable will prevent people from waiting to go to the hospital until illnesses are so severe that they’re dangerous and expensive to treat.

- M. Karscig, BSN RN

My brother is diabetic and has an array of other health problems. His health expenses are so extreme that he has to move in part because of them. His healthcare is not guaranteed, and has not been continuous. The strain of trying to ensure that he can get the care he needs has been overwhelming. This uncertainty about whether or not he can continue to function and exist has detrimentally impacted his mental health. He’s just one small piece of the picture, because very few of us have permanently guaranteed healthcare. Healthcare is largely tied to our jobs, and we’re in the midst of a jobs crisis.

Because of all this, I am relieved that the Affordable Care Act exists and is being implemented. It is a life-saving step in the right direction.

I attend a church here in the Pittsburgh area, and my assistant pastor, a former RN, also expressed her gratitude for the Affordable Care Act. As a person of faith, she wants to see those around her get the care they need.

I am lucky because, as a veteran, I can access the healthcare I need. I want to see the same for everyone.

- J. Bond, Licensed Practical Nurse

Want more info on how the Affordable Care Act helps the 99%? Want to know how Working America members helped to make the Affordable Care Act a reality? Find out more here.

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Two Years After Passage, Affordable Care Act Having a Positive Impact

It was two years ago today that President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, after months of heated political conflict and decades of attempts to build a health care system that ensured everyone had access to care.

While much of the bill has yet to be implemented, the numbers are already impressive: 5.1 million seniors paying less for prescription drugs, 2.5 million more young people able to stay on their parents’ plan if they don’t have coverage of their own, broader access to preventative care and the end of discrimination against women in insurance pricing.

These aren’t just points on a graph—they’re real people, people like the Josephson family of Jacksonville, Florida, who were surprised they were able to get coverage for their two-year-old son’s eye condition. As the Huffington Post’s Jeffrey Young reports:

Two years later, health care reform has had real and profound effects on some Americans. Insurance companies can’t deny coverage to sick children, young adults can stay on parents’ workplace plans until they turn 26, people with pre-existing medical conditions now have a fallback plan when they can’t find insurance anywhere else, and senior citizens are paying less for prescription drugs.

In a long, comprehensive piece, Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff points out that there’s another aspect to the Affordable Care Act that’s already underway: a major reform in how health care gets delivered so that costs are lower and quality is higher.

It includes 45 changes to how doctors deliver health care — and how patients pay for it. These reforms, if successful, will move the country’s health system away from one that pays for volume and toward one that pays for value. The White House wants to see providers behave more like Baptist Health Systems, rewarding health care that is both less costly and more effective.

Over the next two years, we’ll see even more benefits of the Affordable Care Act kick in.

Working America members have long pointed to access to health care as one of their top priorities, and they worked hard across the country to get the Affordable Care Act passed. Through phone calls, rallies, letters, and Congressional visits, we managed to overcome the multi-million dollar lobbying campaigns and get the Affordable Care Act passed. It’s important to keep up the effort to make sure politicians don’t neglect or undermine our health care.

Next week, the Supreme Court will consider challenges to the law. For millions of uninsured people, this will be a decision of historic importance. We’ll be watching closely, too see if the major progress we’ve made in the past two years gets reversed—or whether we can move forward with the promise of making affordable, quality health care available to everyone.

Photo from Creative Commons, via Talk Radio News Service on Flickr.

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Affordable Care Act Helps Real People in Real Ways

by Barbara Doherty – Reposted from the AFL-CIO NOW Blog

Republican presidential campaign pyrotechnics can’t hide the record of a party that has turned its back on ordinary Americans. It’s worth remembering how, a year ago, the Republican-majority House of Representatives tried to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

What would have happened if they had succeeded?

  • 2.5 million young adults would have no health insurance.
  • 2.65 million seniors would have paid $1.5 billion more for prescription drugs.
  • 24.2 million seniors would pay for preventative services they are getting for free.

And that’s just the beginning. A short report from the White House highlights how the Affordable Care Act is making insurance more available and affordable for millions of Americans.

It’s good reading at a time when the Affordable Care Act repeal is still a GOP battle cry, with all the presidential hopefuls and most Republicans in Congress vowing to overthrow the law—and trying to scare voters in the process.

Check out the Center for American Progress’ animated video (above) explaining the benefits of reform. The video was developed by MIT economist Jon Gruber, an adviser on both the Affordable Care Act and the Massachusetts health care reform program.

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Doing More vs. Doing Nothing

A lot of news stories make it out that a lot of people want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and get government out of health care. By contrast:

A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.

Surprised?

The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.

The AP poll was conducted by Stanford University with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Overall, 30 percent favored the legislation, while 40 percent opposed it, and another 30 percent remained neutral.
Those numbers are no endorsement for Obama’s plan, but the survey also found a deep-seated desire for change that could pose a problem for Republicans. Only 25 percent in the poll said minimal tinkering would suffice for the health care system.

Why haven’t we heard this before? I’d suggest two reasons, though I’m sure there are more. One is that we only hear it if pollsters ask about it, and relatively few polls have gone into detail like that, allowing people the opportunity to say that they wish health care reform had gone further. The second is the fear factor. People have had a number of months now for the all-out, facts-by-the-wayside Republican assault to fade from their minds. While most people probably never bought into nonsense about “death panels,” having more chance to think about their real health care needs and the way the system is or is not working for them, without that constant barrage of misinformation, should be providing a clearer picture by now.

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Insurance Options for YOU

If you want to know how the health care reform law affects you, Healthcare.gov is one of the best places to go. And now they’ve made it possible to look up coverage options for your situation and your location. Check it out:

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Already Getting Better

We’ve already covered much of this, but a New York Times editorial sums it up:

Americans are already starting to see the benefits of health care reform. The new law requires health insurance companies — starting in September — to end their most indefensible practice: rescinding coverage after a policyholder gets sick. In recent days insurers and their trade association have rushed to announce that they will end rescissions immediately.

-snip-

The insurers were wise to short-circuit the criticisms and end rescissions now. This follows a recent agreement by many companies to start letting dependents stay on their parents’ policies until age 26, which isn’t required until September. Under pressure from the White House, the industry has also agreed to cover children with pre-existing medical conditions as soon as new rules are issued.

Many of the other major provisions of reform don’t kick in until 2014, but it is already changing the behavior of insurers. That means more security for many Americans who might otherwise find insurance unaffordable or unavailable.

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A Graduation Present

Good news for college seniors and their parents:

This year’s crop of college graduates may have trouble finding a job, given the state of the economy. But some of them will have a much easier time keeping health insurance while they look.

Insurance giant United HealthCare said it would implement, as of today, a requirement of the new health care law that allows young adults who are no longer full-time students to remain on their parent’s health plans until they reach the age of 26. WellPoint, too, announced it would do the same thing, effective June 1.

Since this provision of the new health care law doesn’t go into effect until September, this is significant:

United figures the change in policy could help at least 150,000 graduating seniors and their families from having to find temporary coverage between this spring and the time the new requirement becomes effective.

(This is an effective and meaningful move by United and Wellpoint. But insurance companies, by definition, still care more about profit than about your wellbeing.)

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Good News on Student Loan and Health Insurance Reform

President Obama signed legislation that will dramatically change the federal student loan program.

The new law will eliminate fees paid to private banks to act as intermediaries in providing loans to college students and use much of the nearly $68 billion in savings over 11 years to expand Pell grants and make it easier for students to repay outstanding loans after graduating. The law also invests $2 billion in community colleges over the next four years to provide education and career training programs to workers eligible for trade adjustment aid after dislocation in their industries.

The law will increase Pell grants along with inflation in the next few years, which should raise the maximum grant to $5,975 from $5,550 by 2017, according to the White House, and it will also provide 820,000 more grants by 2020.

Eliminating the middle man (the banks) means more help will be available, which will ease the financial burden of families who want to send their kids to college. It also means that repayment terms are a little kinder:

Students who borrow money starting in July 2014 will be allowed to cap repayments at 10 percent of income above a basic living allowance, instead of 15 percent. Moreover, if they keep up payments, their balances will be forgiven after 20 years instead of 25 years — or after 10 years if they are in public service, like teaching, nursing or serving in the military.

A disability rights activist sent me a link to Disability Scoop:

When health insurance reform was signed into law just last week, Democratic lawmakers said that coverage of children with pre-existing conditions would be one of the most immediate effects. But within days, insurers argued a detailed reading of the new legislation allowed them to continue cutting-off kids with conditions like Down syndrome and cerebral palsy in certain circumstances until 2014.

The good news is – that insurance companies quickly thought the better of that. From The NY Times (same day):

“Health plans recognize the significant hardship that a family faces when they are unable to obtain coverage for a child with a pre-existing condition,” said Karen M. Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade group. Accordingly, she said, “we await and will fully comply with” the rules.

Ms. Ignagni made the commitment in a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, who had said she feared that some insurers might exploit a possible ambiguity in the new health care law to deny coverage to some sick children.

Apparently it didn’t take any time at all for the insurance companies to realize that refusing to cover kids with Down Syndrome wasn’t a good PR move.

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Medicare Part E?

Another part of health care reform:

The Class Act, a legacy of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (whose widow and son were on hand for the signing), sets up the first national government-run long-term care insurance program, which will be offered primarily through employers.

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The Class Act does not require screening of applicants for health problems, so people who might not qualify for private long-term care insurance can enroll. Participants will pay monthly premiums; after a five-year vesting period, they receive benefits if they need care, whether they are 28-year-olds hurt in snowboard accidents or 88-year-olds with Parkinson’s disease.

You pay premiums, and after you’ve been doing that for years, if you get sick or injured, you get some help with your daily care, with tasks that will help people stay out of nursing homes.

Naturally, the private insurance industry is against this. They’d rather keep collecting high premiums from people with no other choices—surprise! According to the executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (i.e. a spokesman for private insurance):

“Inevitably, Class will morph into an entitlement program that’s a mandatory tax on all individuals,” he said. He calls it “Medicare Part E.”

By using the words “entitlement” and “mandatory tax,” this private insurer spokesman is trying to paint the program as inevitably unpopular. But “Medicare Part E” gets closer to the truth. Because Medicare is popular, remember? And if there’s one thing private insurers don’t want, it’s popular programs doing what they do without the uncertainty and abusive price hikes.

“Medicare Part E,” may sound scary to the insurance companies, but to most of us, it sounds pretty good.

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