Thursday, October 3, 2013

Congressman Henry Waxman's Take on Obamacare -- and the Truth

Congressman Henry Waxman released another email in preparation for his 2014 run for Congress. Should the ill effects of Obamacare continue, Waxman will face a harder time convincing voters throughout the 33rd Congressional District to turn out and vote for him, since he does not have the Obama campaign bringing in votes for him, as he did last year (and Romney will not be depressing the Conservative vote).

Dear Friends,

Republicans have voted more than forty times to defund, delay, or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  They have shut down the government and are threatening to default on our federal debt if they don’t get their way.  But as these machinations play out in Washington, DC, the ACA’s health marketplaces launched as scheduled in all fifty states. 

The broken Medicare exchanges have failed Americans throughout the country.

Waxman’s blatant lie that the Republicans have shut down the government cannot go unchecked, uncorrected. The Democratic Party Leaders in Congress shoved the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the American People through backroom deals, budgetary shenanigans, and irascible reconciliation efforts. Democrats in the House, who wanted to stay in office in swing-states and red-state districts, resisted this law.

One Democrat remarked that losing his seat in Congress for Obamacare was worth it, only to trot out every empty argument for the law, all of which have ended up not measuring up the expectations laid out by President Obama. The comments on the same page reveal the true sentiments of his constituents: they were glad to get rid of him.

The Republican Majority, with help from a growing caucus of moderate and sensible Democrats, has voted again and again to continue funding the government, yet at the same time to delay the individual mandate and to repeal the medical device tax hurting businesses all over the country. House Reps want to fund veterans’ affairs, national parks, and the City of Washington D.C., but Democrats continued to reject these appropriations on the floor of the House or in the US Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has shot down any negotiations to end the shut-down between President Obama and the Republicans in both chambers.

California consumers can visit California’s marketplace at Covered California and compare plans and prices from a menu of health insurance options.  They can also determine whether they are eligible for financial assistance to make their coverage more affordable.  

No they cannot. The LA Times recently reported that the paper overestimated the number of people who visited Covered California. Glitches and hick-ups along the way have prevented many people from getting insurance, while those who had insurance plans claim that their premiums have increased.

As a member of a local union, I received a letter from the health insurance work-fund which informed me that my health insurance premiums will be increasing in the next year. I thought that Obamacare was originally known as “the Affordable Care Act”. What gives?

Covered California should be “Cover-up in California”, as in the number of health insurance companies which have left the California Medicare exchanges because of the prohibitive costs.

According to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), individuals across the country will be able to choose from an average of 53 plans from eight different health insurance issuers, which far exceeds the options available in the current individual health insurance marketplace.

The Department of Health and Human Services is the government institution dead-set on dressing up Obamacare as a caring and compassionate program. Of course they will advertise that people “will be able” to choose. Promises, promises. The department is facing lawsuits from religious groups, has already issued exemptions to a law touted as “great”, and is wasting millions of dollars trying to convince people to join.

 This competition is resulting in lower prices, with the average plan premium coming in 16% below the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates even before taking into account the new financial assistance available to lower income households.  Simply put, consumers will find choice, competition, and value as they shop for their 2014 health insurance.

No it isn’t. I have spoken with constituents, I have heard from business owners, and I have learned from health care professionals that whatever pretended competition was expected from this law has not created the lower costs anticipated by the Obama Administration.

As you know, a number of benefits in the ACA are already in effect, including provisions that prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions, eliminate lifetime limits on coverage, allow young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents' health insurance plan, and provide seniors with prescription drug discounts, free annual wellness check-ups, and preventive care without copays and deductibles.  

This classic line to justify individual, small business, and employer mandates is losing salience, seriousness, and relevance. Parents are losing their health insurance, so what good is it to provide the children coverage until their twenty-six anyway? Young people leaving college want jobs, and they want to purchase their own health insurance. One gentleman at a local seminar on Obamacare asked how the IRS is going to assess his coverage through his parents if he is no longer a dependent on their tax returns? Good question!

In California’s 33rd Congressional District, more than 12,000 seniors have already received prescription drug discounts of more than $17.5 million; 236,000 individuals now get preventive services without co-pays, premiums or deductibles; 7,500 young adults have health insurance coverage on their parents' plans; and 31,000 children cannot be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

I would like to see the statistics which justify these assertions, as I am sure would many voters in the Santa Monica Bay. Insurers in Beverly Hills, nurses in Redondo Beach, and health care professionals throughout the South Bay would differ on the actual benefits of this law.

As with any new large program, the launch of the ACA will have some initial snags that will have to be worked through.  I am optimistic that California’s experience will be smoother than many areas around the nation because our State has embraced, not fought, the law and it has worked methodically to implement it. 

Those glitches and snags have given way to frustration and delays across the country.

The United States now joins every other advanced nation in making health care a right, not a privilege.

What advanced nations is the Congressman referring to? In Great Britain, rationing and long lines have become the norm for health care. In Canada, residents will seek out black-market health care clinics just to get help. In most cases, individuals suffer in long lines, meeting with one bureaucrat after another, assuming that resources are available. Towns often hold a lottery, and the lucky winner’s prize is to meet with a family doctor.


Henry A. Waxman

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