Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tea Party's Health Care Compact

UPDATE: Are the insurers writing the health reform regulations for the Affordable Care Act? I guess we'll have to wait and see, and then just follow the money.

The Tea Party asked me in a newsletter that I received today: "Do you believe that the federal government should be involved in your health decisions?"

I thought to myself: " I lost my job and can longer work, so I will have to rely on Medicaid because I no longer have employer-related healthcare insurance. I can't afford the high premiums that the insurance companies charge, so the answer is YES, I need the federal government to be involved."

And even if I weren't disabled, in 10 more years I would have been at retirement age anyway and would need Medicare (a federal government program). I know many older people with health issues that would like to retire, but can't afford to until they are at least 65 and can qualify for Medicare (they couldn't afford the high cost of insurance premiums). If they had federal health care insurance (such as "Obamacare") they could have retired years earlier. One used to retire at 65 and the Republicans want to raise the age for Social Security to 70 and above - and eliminate Medicare entirely.

The Social Security Act was drafted during Roosevelt's first term and passed by Congress as part of the New Deal. The act was an attempt to limit the dangers in the modern capitalistic American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children (Tea Party radical Paul Ryan collected Social Security death benefits when his father passed away and used the money to put himself through college, even though his family had the means).

Medicare and Medicaid were added in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" program. 

In 2011 the Republicans are trying to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and the Tea Party is actively promoting a Health Care Compact* (HCC), saying "It will be up to each state legislature and governor to implement the sort of system that their constituents demand. It is a real and constitutional mechanism for removing the federal government entirely from the realm of health care." (* The chairman of HCC is also the CEO of the Sam Adams Alliance, another radical Tea Party group.)

...that their constituents demand? I'm not demanding it. And why remove the federal government entirely from the realm of health care? Medicare works great, even the front-line Tea Party protesters had advocated for Medicare (a federal program) when "Obamacare" was being legislated. The reason is, the rich and the large corporations don't want to pay for it (they don't want to pay for roads, bridges, or anything else that this country needs either). They would rather SIT on the money they hoard rather than help humanity or their fellow countrymen who made them rich buying their products.

The newsletter goes on to say that "The Tea Party's Health Care Compact (HCC) effectively builds a regulatory shield around the member states, protecting them from all federal regulation of health care." ("Shield" and "protect" are code words for "evade", as in the rich and large corporations paying taxes to pay for another's healthcare policy - just like they don't want to pay for teachers, roads, or bridges.)

The Tea Party asks in their newsletter: "You know all those thousands of pages of Obamacare? Or, how about the thousands of pages of regulations that have yet to be written by Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius?"

Did anyone in the Tea Party ever actually read the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? I doubt it. They probably didn't even read the Wikipage. But the Tea Party keeps rambling on and on about...what? Even they don't know. Somebody else (i.e. Koch brothers, etc.) is pulling their strings.

Really, what it all comes down to is this: Rich people and large corporations don't want to pay for healthcare for people who can't afford to. And the insurers and pharmaceutical companies don't want any additional costs taken from their record profits, salaries, and bonuses. That's all there is to it. They would like to eliminate the frivolous lawsuits, but they would also like to eliminate the prospect of taking one red dime out of their fat wallets too. It has nothing to do with the U.S. Constitution, Big Government, or unfair taxes on anyone earning less that $200,000 a year. The Tea Party is just another corporation that advocates for other corporations that are funded by those large corporations to save them, and their CEOs, more money on the backs of the middle-class and poor. 

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Effective by January 1, 2011 - Insurers will be required to spend 85% of large-group and 80% of small-group and individual plan premiums (with certain adjustments) on healthcare or to improve healthcare quality, or return the difference to the customer as a rebate.

Effective by January 1, 2012 - New tax reporting changes were to come in effect to prevent tax evasion by corporations and individuals. However, in April 2011 President Barack Obama signed a bill repealing this provision, because it was burdensome to small businesses. But from December 31, 2011 the requirements were going to be changed so that payments to corporations and individuals must also be reported.

Effective by January 1, 2013 - Self-employment and wages of individuals above $200,000 annually (or of families above $250,000 annually) will be subject to an additional tax of 0.5% (Do you earn over $200,000 a year? And if you did, would a 0.5% tax be over-burdensome after having the Bush Tax Cuts for the last 10 years?)

Effective by January 1, 2014 - Insurers are prohibited from discriminating against or charging higher rates for any individuals based on pre-existing medical conditions. And Insurers are prohibited from establishing annual spending caps. Expand Medicaid eligibility; individuals with income up to 133% of the poverty line qualify for coverage, including adults without dependent children. The poverty line is $10, 830 for a single person, so this raises the eligibility level to those less fortunate among us - - - such as someone trying to pay rent, heat, and food - - - like a disabled person, a war veteran, or a retiree on Social Security.

THE MANDATE: This is what scares most people (this, and the supposed "death panels"). Impose an annual penalty of $95, or up to 1% of income, whichever is greater, on individuals who do not secure insurance; this will rise to $695, or 2.5% of income, by 2016. This is an individual limit; families have a limit of $2,085. Exemptions to the fine in cases of financial hardship or religious beliefs are permitted. This is very inexpensive healthcare insurance. And if you are ever in doubt as to your federal coverage, you can always pay for additional catastrophic coverage if you're not covered under another plan. Families in the upper-middle-class income level have a limit of $2,085...that's a third of what Paul Ryan wants to offer as a Medicare voucher to old people on Social Security...and we all know THAT sucks!

What corporations don't want to pay: Impose a $2,000 per employee tax penalty on employers with more than 50 employees who do not offer health insurance to their full-time workers.

Effective by 2018 - All existing health insurance plans must cover approved preventive care and checkups without co-payment. A new 40% excise tax on high cost ("Cadillac") insurance plans is introduced.

The Tea Party says: "A HCC simply states that member states are free from federal health care regulations, if they so choose. Very basically, it allows states to receive health care funding with zero strings attached. No more costly, intrusive, and unconstitutional mandates." Are they kidding? The states can't pay their bills as it could they provide healthcare? The Tea Party is trying to protect corporations from having to report and pay premiums. "Intrusive" is a code word for "impose taxes on the rich".

After all their whining about income taxes (the lowest rate the rich have enjoyed in many years), and even though many corporations pay no taxes at all, they don't want to pay for ANYTHING that they themselves wouldn't personally benefit from. I paid taxes too, but didn't want our soldiers being sent to Iraq either.

The fact is, the Republicans and the Tea Party wants to kill any program that might cost the rich and corporations for programs that benefits most us - such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security (and now the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act).

While although I didn't read the 2,000+ pages of the bill that was written in legalese, if the Republicans had really wanted to help draft the bill, they would have worked with the Democrats, and made REAL proposals, instead of JUST protecting the rich and corporate interests. It's become common knowledge who the Republicans represent, and it's not common people. It's almost gotten to the point where if the GOP opposes something, I automatically know that it's something I could benefit from, and something that the rich and large corporations can use to further duck taxes and gouge the American consumer.

Currently, there are roughly 119 million people 45 and older who make up 51 percent of the voting-age population, with Americans 55 and older representing a large bulk of that group. Older boomers ages 55-64 were the fastest-growing group since 2000, jumping 43 percent to approximately 35 million.

William H. Frey, a demographer at Brookings Institution who did a broad analysis of available census data, said: "Boomers have now crossed the line between thinking about Medicare and Social Security as an issue for their parents, to being worried about it for themselves." 

I'll assume that MOST Americans will need Social Security and healthcare...something the Tea Party and the Republicans don't want to pay for (like unemployment benefits). They would rather advocate lower taxes on the rich and corporations...that's all they care about, they don't give a damn about you.

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