A conservative group funded by the Koch brothers is pushing for high-risk pools and a freeze on Medicaid expansions as lawmakers try to coalesce around a replacement for ObamaCare.
Freedom Partners began circulating a memo on Capitol Hill Monday with specific reforms it thinks should be included in the healthcare law’s replacement, including: the creation of high-risk pools at the state level to cover people with pre-existing conditions; the elimination of the ObamaCare mandate, which required everyone buy insurance or pay a penalty; and the expansion of access to health savings accounts, so people can save and pay for healthcare with pre-tax dollars.
The recommendations fall in line with what top Republicans in Congress have indicated they support.
Poor Americans in states that have expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act are going to the doctor more often and having less trouble paying for it, new research finds.
At the same time, two years of experience with the expansion offer additional indications that the improved access to care will ultimately improve patients’ health, a key goal of 2010 law, often called Obamacare.
John Nolte writes in a posting for Breitbart (online, Oct. 6) that in a recent “appearance before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich offered to buy Bibles for those of us who don’t agree with his decision to increase the welfare state.”
Some may recall it was Kasich who acquiesced to the Affordable Care Act’s Ohio Medicaid expansion. At the Chamber of Commerce gathering, Kasich retorted (for the benefit of his healthcare adversaries), “Look at Medicaid expansion. Do you know how many people are yelling at me? I go out to events where people yell at me. You know what I tell ‘em? . . . I say, there’s a book. It’s got a new part and an old part; they put it together, it’s a remarkable book. If you don’t have one, I’ll buy you one. It talks about how we treat the poor. Sometimes you just have to lead.”
Nolte’s Breitbart article poses this food for thought, “I don’t mean to argue with Brother Kasich, but I must have missed the part where the Christian thing to do is to use the punitive power of The State to force your personal Christian values on others.”
According to a recent report by Jason Hart in Florida Watchdog.org (online, 5/11) one hope the Obama administration had about Affordable Care Act implantation was that states would fall right into line, at least when it came to Medicaid expansion.
But, as the FloridaWatchdog.org account also says, “combined with nationwide spending and emergency room data, threats to existing Medicaid waivers are solidifying Obamacare opposition.” The result is a backfire on the Obama administration.
Christie Herrera, who is a senior fellow at Florida’s Free-Market Foundation for Government Accountability, is quoted by Watdog.org, as saying: “I think people are starting to see that it’s not the little guy pushing Obamacare in Florida. It’s big hospitals, big business, big insurance companies.”
One result, according to Florida Watcdog.org, is Florida gov. Rick Scott having filed suit against the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That suit is over “plans to stop funding the state’s Low Income Pool program, which compensates hospitals for seeing uninsured patients,” according to Hart’s Watchdog report.
Others suing HHS include Gov. Greg Abbott, R.-Texas, and Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
According to new report on OhioWatchdog.org (Apr. 29) the Buckeye States’ governor, John Kasich, is expected rack up ACA expansion costs surpassing $4 billion by the end of June, 2015. Holding the governor’s feet to the budgetary fire (and to account) are two state legislators, State Rep. Paul Zeltwanger, and State Rep. Nino Vitale – notably, both Republicans (as is Kasich). Jason Hart writing in OhioWatchdog.org describes the latest expansion efforts for the ACA as being “So far, not so great.”
More Obamacare news from The Sunshine State. Republicans are huddling in there – in the state’s capital, Tallahassee – as they gear up to oppose Medicaid Expansion full throttle. Meanwhile, Florida State Senators have held a “public workshop,” according to the Orlando Sentinel – in a report (online, by Gray Rohrer, Apr. 22).
Indicative of the depths of feelings over the Obamacare issue in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel report elaborates, “Members of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, group of leaders from multiple faiths, added to that pressure Tuesday [Apr. 21]. They met with [Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando] to thank him for pushing for the Medicaid expansion plan, after first praying for the House to come around on the issue.”
Meanwhile Florida state senators have also “pushed for Medicaid expansion as a replacement for care for the poor and uninsured.” Additionally, according to the Orlando Sentinel, one plan supported by Gardiner, “requires the 800,000 newly eligible Medicaid recipients to pay co-pays and premiums and be employed or looking for work.”
Rohrer’s report also notes, “Americans for Prosperity, a free-market advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, is running ads across the state attacking senators from supporting Medicaid expansion.”
“Government overreach” frequently sparks lively debates about the proper role of federal, state and municipal ruling bodies. A report in The Washington Examiner (online Apr. 20, by Paige Winfield Cunningham) says, “The two biggest states to reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion are accusing the administration of trying to force them into it.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, recently voiced his advocacy for a lawsuit filed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Scott initiated the litigation against the Obama White House “over ending federal funds to pay hospitals for caring for the uninsured,” according to The Washington Examiner.
The Feds have are saying they will stop such funding unless the Sunshine State grows its Medicaid program under the auspices of the Affordable Care Act. The Examiner report additionally explains, some U.S. states have “funding pools.” These reimburse hospitals – who would otherwise receive no monies for care dispensed. Yet as Cunningham’s article points out, Medicaid expansion, “would reduce the need for such funds.”
Gov. Abbott (speaking for Florida) is quoted by Cunningham as saying, “Florida’s approach should be determined by Floridians, not coerced by federal bureaucrats.”
Back in 1998, the Wall Street Journal featured an article about the then widely publicized practice of telecommunications slamming. Simply put, long-distance consumers were routinely “slammed” to new long-distance providers – – without prior consent. Now, Dr. Jeffrey A. Singer, also in the Wall Street Journal (online Oct. 20, 2014) reports several of his patients who had have been funding their own individual health insurance plans, have been ejected from those plans, then finding themselves Medicaid placed. This occurred, according to Dr. Singer, when those persons signed up for health insurance on HelalthCare.gov. Dr. Singer adds, those patients are, “Knocked out of private insurance, they are forced to settle for longer waits and worse care.” Dr. Singer elaborates, “Even if my patients save money by no longer paying premiums, they suffer in the long run by being trapped in a subpar health-care system. A Medicaid card does not translate into quality medical care. In some cases, it does not translate into medical care at all.” The recent Wall Street report cites a new polling study conducted by the healthcare company Merritt Hawkins, which says, “Only 45 percent of doctors currently accept new Medicaid patients, and that number has declined from 55 percent in the past five years.”
Medicaid patients are more likely to die, following major surgery, while still hospital-bound. This is according to 2010 study by the University of Virginia, so says the Wall Street Journal.
In advance of the midterm elections, Democrats are latching onto the issue of Medicaid expansion as one way to attack the Affordable Care Act’s opponents. This may be an attempt at aiding incumbent Democrats in conservative-leaning states who are at-risk of losing their seat. While U.S. Democratic governors are consistently in favor of Medicaid expansion under the umbrella of Obamacare, Republican governors are in disharmony over their own ACA support or lack of it.
According to a report in Tuesday’s The Hill, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) is seeking documents from Republican Gov. Rick Perry requesting specific information on why healthcare for the poor was rejected in the governor’s home state of Texas.
The inquiry also seeks information on how much healthcare funding Perry and other governors might turn down over the next decade, the cost of coverage for those who are Medicaid-ineligible, and the total number of those without added coverage.
Opponents of state-level Medicaid expansion generally deem the program as too costly. This is in spite of the fact that reducing the numbers of the uninsured can actually benefit a state. According to Think Progress (July 7) generous federal funding is available to those states open
to Medicaid growth. For example, were it to climb on board, Tennessee would receive over $ 9.4 billion in revenue starting this year and into 2019. Tennessee’s refusal of such funds is now grounds for divorce for one elderly couple.
Think Progress tells the story of Larry and Linda Drain who were married for 33 years. They live apart, because they have no other way to ensure that Linda can get the medical care she needs for her epilepsy. Tennessee lawmakers have thus far refused to implement Obamacare. Linda Drain is jobless and unemployable due to her condition. Without health insurance she can’t get the medication she needs. The Drains also fall into what’s known as the “coverage gap”: they make too much money to qualify for TennCare, Tennessee’s public insurance program. They also make too little to receive federal subsidies to buy a plan on Obamacare’s new private marketplace.