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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
The OBAMACARE Hustle
Democrats would rather save the president’s legacy than fix the law Bryan Rotella
“It takes brass balls to sell real estate.” So says Alec Baldwin, challenging the salesman of “exclusive” cold-sell real estate opportunities in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” The same message apparently has been sent to politicians remarkably still pushing the virtues of Obamacare.
Remember how it started back in 2009? Beautiful, affordable, coverage for all, pitched in “light” reading of 2,700-plus pages to fed-up American consumers of the less-than-perfect, privately run health care system. Now three separate elections have come and gone since passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), and politicians who supported the law have taken massive losses at the state and federal level. Undeterred, the surviving sellers pitch on.
News recently broke that executive actions are being put in place to start unwinding Obamacare. President-elect Donald Trump and his team are preparing for pullback of the health care bill starting on Day One. Like a penny-stock boiler room, you can picture the legions of Obamacare-touting politicians aligning their fear sell. Cue the panic.
Former House Speaker and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called this plan “cowardice.” Others have said this will take away from working families. And, of course, the favorite line pointing to uninsured Americans: “If the ACA were to be repealed, tens of millions of Americans lose their coverage,” says House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “And tens of millions of others will see their health care costs skyrocket.”
Come on, American consumers. Now we know better. Or do we?
These irreverent Democrats should remember what happened when Obamacare was implemented. To sum it up: The hypocrisy is strong.
Putting it mildly, Obamacare made some changes to insurance coverage on its way in. Post-Obamacare, every insurance policy had to offer maternity coverage, prescription drug coverage and mental health coverage, along with many others. These changes are now known as “essential benefits.” With these new standards, all insurance companies had to get rid of plans that didn’t fit the criteria. Meaning that insurance companies had to cancel any coverage that didn’t hold up. (Hint: These plans covered 7-12 million people.)
But didn’t the president pitch, “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it”? Oops.
Still, even with this clear falsehood, Obamacare’s new draconian minimum insurance requirements didn’t leave people stranded on the streets.
Folks, let’s clear the smoke. An insurance cancellation doesn’t mean going uninsured — it just means change. Thanks to President Bill Clinton, the Democrats can safely put their worries about “millions of uninsured Americans” to rest. To be clear, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed by Mr. Clinton stipulates what happens when insurance companies cancel insurance plans.
In order to cancel a plan, insurance companies must give 90 days notice, and give an option to purchase any other individual health insurance coverage currently being offered by the issuer for individuals in that market.
In today’s market, not only would people have insurance coverage, they would have insurance options. Big insurance companies that previously had to pull out of the exchanges due to million-dollar losses undoubtedly would come back into the picture to compete for this business. Small, new competitors emboldened by much less regulation will also be knocking at the door.
But none of this mixes with the sales pitch. Rather, we’ve been told repeal will instantly “make America sick again,” along with Obamacare defenders implying that if you don’t sign up now, you won’t have health care come Jan. 20.
Nope. Millions of Americans will still remain rightfully, if not properly, insured at the point of repeal. Let’s cross that reason off the list.
So what is it that is causing Democrats to desperately claw at a law that just didn’t work? It has skyrocketed premiums and deductibles, limited options and forced coverage.
When we hear the last minute exalting of Obamacare, you start to wonder — is this about preserving a legacy?
One thing is certain, many doctors don’t feel it has anything to do with better patient care. Gerard Gianoli, thought leader and founder of the innovative noninsurance, cash-only Ear and Balance Institute, sees a profit motive buried in the law’s “fine type”: “Particularly perverse, is the ACA’s incentives for hospitals and doctors to bundle patients together stripping down the individuality of a patient’s condition in the name of saving costs.”
Legacy and profits? What a hustle. Stalling the repeal of Obamacare is just stalling a much bigger problem, certainly one that would grow come exchange openings in 2017.
As soon as Obamacare is repealed, President Trump can start replacing it with market-focused options offering more competition, lower premiums and better coverage. Let’s let the real real-estate mogul have his shot. Because fixing health care is for closers.