Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health Care in Autumn

"September" artist Judith Tager

At 8:09PM my time (PST) last night the Autumnal equinox occurred, which means the the tilt of the Earth's axis matched that of the Sun's center, or our equator aligned itself with the orbital plane our planet travels in around the sun, which means both hemispheres, the northern and southern, were receiving the same amount of energy from our star, and the days and nights are about the same length of time.
This only happens for a little while, and only twice a year. In last night's instance the equinox marked the end of summer and the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere. And not a moment too soon as far as me and my dear sister are concerned (she lives in the desert and needs it to start cooling down real bad).
It was a painless transition. I happened to be in my box, kicking back, watching "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome," and didn't feel a thing.
For our Republican friends however, it was, and will remain an excruciating experience. And when the Republicans are in pain you can be certain that something good is happening for the middle class of America, and those who hope to be in the middle class someday (44 million Americans in poverty in 2009. Thank you President Bush! Yes, I said Bush, not Obama. We'll be cleaning up Bush's mess for a long time to come, unless of course we're dumb enough to put the Republicans back in power, which would just make everything worse)
Provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and related Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, enacted by Congress in March 2010 go into effect today, September 23, 2010. What does that mean?
It means that health care in the United States of America changes in the following ways:
1. Children under 19 can no longer be rejected from health care plans due to pre-existing conditions.
"No Discrimination Against Children With Pre-Existing Conditions. The new law includes new rules to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions." -
2. New plans cannot exclude anyone from coverage for a pre-existing condition.
"Prohibits Insurance Companies from Dropping Coverage. In the past, insurance companies could search for an error on a customer's application or other technical mistake and use this error to stop covering the person when he or she got sick. The new law makes this illegal and after media reports cited incidents of breast cancer patients losing coverage, insurance companies agreed to end this practice immediately." -
3. Young adults can stay on their parents' health plan until age 26.
"Extending Coverage for Young Adults. Under the new law, young adults will be allowed to stay on their parents' plan until they turn 26 years old unless they are offered insurance at work. While the provision takes effect in September, most insurance companies have already implemented this new practice. Check with your insurance company or employer to see if you qualify."
4. Insurers can no longer limit the amount of coverage someone can receive over their lifetime.
"Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage. Under the new law, insurance companies will be prohibited from imposing lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits, like hospital stays." (Note: This only includes new plans, not those already in effect when the healthcare reform law passed.)
5. "Regulating Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage. Under the new law, insurance companies' use of annual dollar limits on the amount of insurance coverage a patient may receive is sharply restricted. In 2014, the use of annual dollar limits on essential benefits like hospital stays will be banned for new plans in the individual market and all group plans."
6. "Appealing Insurance Company Decisions: Consumers will have two ways to appeal coverage decisions or claims: through their insurer or through an independent decision-maker." (Note: This only includes new plans, not those already in effect when the healthcare reform law passed.) -Medscape Today
7. "Free Preventive Care. All new plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance." (Note: This only includes new plans, not those already in effect when the healthcare reform law passed.) _
8. Cracking Down on Health Care Fraud. Current efforts to fight fraud have returned more than $2.5 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund in FY 2009 alone. The new law invests new resources and requires new screening procedures for health care providers to boost these efforts and reduce fraud and waste in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP.
Other provisions will kick in automatically beginning on New Years Day 2011, through 2018, with the majority taking effect on the first of January, 2014.
It seems to me that these measures are badly needed in this country, and that practically everyone benefits from their implementation, except the insurance companies.
Why am I writing about this? Because the Democrats are like me, they don't self promote! Unlike me they are running for reelection in a little more than a month, an election with drastic consequences for the nation if they should lose their majority positions in either the House or the Senate. These guys, including the folks at the White House, should be in front of TV cameras 24/7 until November 2nd, shouting out the many accomplishments, the historical accomplishments, of the Obama administration, and not letting the Republicans dominate the airwaves and cable networks as is currently the case ("More than half of Americans mistakenly believe the [health care] overhaul will raise taxes for most people this year, an Associated Press poll finds. But that would be true only if most people were devoted to indoor tanning, which got hit with a sales tax.. Many who wanted the health care system to be overhauled don't realize that some provisions they cared about actually did make it in. And about a quarter of supporters don't understand that something hardly anyone wanted didn't make it: They mistakenly say the law will set up panels of bureaucrats to make decisions about people's care — what critics labeled "death panels." -Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar & Trevor Tompson of AP) Why is the Democratic base supposedly so unenthusiastic? Because the Democrats are not getting them excited, that's why. Watching the Democrats on TV is like watching freaking paint dry. The Democrats who voted for health reform are acting as is they are ashamed of that vote, and not mentioning it in their re-election campaigns, when they should be shouting from the rooftops, defending the law and their vote, extolling the virtues and benefits of this new health care (for that matter, why aren't the Democrats pointing out the fact that the Republicans have refused to allow a vote on a bill funding our troops during a time of war, as was the case Tuesday when they shot down the Defense Appropriations Bill (the first time in 48 years) which included a provision lifting a ban on gays in the military? Why aren't the Dems shouting out "Why do the Republicans hate our troops?!" You can bet your buttons that The Republicans would be if the positions were reversed). But they are letting the Republicans frame the debate, again and again they do this with the same disastrous results. They lose elections. Republicans are using the health care law as a bludgeon to crash over the heads of their opponents, when the opposite should be happening. They aren't stupid people, so I don't see why the DNC doesn't hire some freaking PR people who will get their clients out there where they can be seen, so the Democrats can frame the debate, so the Democrats can tell the people what is really happening, and so the Democrats can point out in no uncertain terms what will happen if the Republicans get back in power.
Hey America! You all upset about unemployment now, about federal spending, and the economy? Just wait until the Republicans take over the House to see how much worse it can get!
And health care? The Republicans position on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is that it will ruin the country some how. They don't say how, or if they do they lie about it. And they offer no alternatives of their own, but their position is based on repealing the law at any cost. They liked it just the way it was, with the big insurance interests able to rip us off at will, deny coverage to those who need it, and increase premiums any time they wanted to, while calling the system "the best health care in the world." They lie and lie and lie. It makes me want to vomit!
Good thing I now have health care!
The Republican dream of repealing the health care reform laws are unlikely to come to fruition since President Obama can veto any attempt they may make if they regain one or both Houses of Congress (and not only the health care laws. They want to get rid of all of the Obama accomplishments, like financial reform. From Thom Hartmann's blog: "Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has announced that if Republicans regain control over Congress, they will destroy the sweeping Wall Street reform and shred the newly created consumer protection bureau. Shelby said, 'The bill is so sweeping and such a game changer in many ways that it's incumbent upon us to revisit it.' Translation to English: 'if Republicans get power they're going to hand our economy and our money back to their Wall Street masters.'), so they openly state they'll attempt to defund any and every part of it they can, which amounts to further obstructionism, which has been their entire game plan since Obama took office.
See some of the other things the Republicans will do if we let them back at the site below:
It's time for Democrats, progressives, and the left wing base to quit crying about how bad things are and realize how bad things could have been if John McCain had won they election. Instead of standing in an unemployment line trying to get a job while receiving unemployment benefits, they'd probably be in a bread line trying to get a scrap to eat. As the President said a few days ago, it took Bush eight years to screw things up to the point that he did when he left office. Despite our country's Internet and cable TV attention deficit disorder, and spoiled attitudes of "I want it, and I want it now, and if I can't get it now I'm going to have a tantrum and screw things up even worse," it will still take time to repair the damage. That's reality. It isn't always easy, lord knows, but that is all we have to work with.

Line for free dinner. 1932

President Obama is not perfect. He's made mistakes. He needs to spend more federal money to stimulate the economy and increase employment opportunities, not less like the Republicans would have it.
So we need to give him more time, we need to give him more tools, and we need to try to understand his vision for this country.
For he's the best chance we have. We put him in office. Let's let him do the job he was elected to do.

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