US Politics

Republicans Make the Case for the Affordable Care Act

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As we move closer to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans and their corporate masters are trotting out horror stories of the “suffering” corporations will endure as a result of the implementation of the law. Along the way, they’re making an excellent case that Obamacare is pretty damn affordable–and that corporations should probably be doing more to ensure that workers have access to healthcare.

The Red State blog is circulating a a letterDelta demonstrating the nightmare that Delta will face as a result of the ACA: an increased cost of $100 million dollars per year! Senator John Cornyn, always willing to traffic in whatever nonsense a rightwing blog puts out, promptly tweeted his concern this morning:

cornyn

You can almost imagine Cornyn using his Dr. Evil voice as he intones $100 million there, but he might be missing a few crucial pieces of context.

First, Delta will probably be alright, as its CEO noted just a month ago:

Delta reported a net income of $685 million, or 80 cents per share. That was in stark contrast to a $168 million loss during the same period last year when it had to deal with losses on fuel-price bets.

“We expect 2013 will be one of Delta’s most profitable years ever,” Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive officer, said in a conference call with investors.

Perhaps even more significantly, Delta is scheduled to have 116 million passengers in 2013, meaning that the costs to implement the tyrannical, business-crushing mandates of Obamacare work out to less than $1.00 per passenger flight.

I suspect almost every passenger in America would be willing to pay even a whole dollar per flight to ensure that those who suffer pre-existing conditions can receive decent medical care and be insured. Hell, on-board WiFi and a cardboard package of snacks cost far more than the cost of Obamacare implementation.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

26 Comments

  • “corporations should probably be doing more to ensure that workers have access to healthcare.”

    I think you’d perhaps be better advised to deal with the specifics of Oamacare itself, as it has very little to do with access to health care, and a whole lot to do with forcing people to pay a ransom to private insurers for the right to be under-insured.

    Insurers in Colorado are eliminating coverage of office visits from their policies, in effect converting them to hospitalization policies. I would bet this trend to be nationwide, as there are so many untreated conditions, so many people with unaddressed healt problems, that insurers have seen fit to bar the door. It is understood that people already stressed financially and who are now forced to pay insurance premiums will not also take on the additional cost of an office visit that would lead to further uncovered procedures.

    As to Delta, who cares. Setting up a corporate boogeyman should not take the place of a realistic analysis of ACA. It’s a very well-written law, but unfortunately, it was not written for you and me, but rather for the benefit of HIP and PhRMA. Always, always follow the money.

  • Yes, you have cleverly pointed out that the ACA has deep flaws, but it’s far better than the former arrangement and more productive than wailing in the wilderness that it’s insufficiently radical.

    Passage of the ACA is an incremental step towards real health care reform. And Republicans and corporations are lying about its impact on corporate profits and health.

    • I must disagree, Don. A gratuitous gift to the insurance is not a step in the right direction in my opinion. I think that it will prove to do more harm than good. In fact, that has actually been suggested. It has been suggested that ACA will be SO bad, that people will clamor for single payer. Heckuva job, Browny Baucus!

    • I’ve seen no evidence to assure me that the Democrats in passing ACA were involved in a gradual process. The argument relies on Democrats ever again having control of both houses of the legislature and the presidency at once. Sure, it could happen, but even with such power in hand, they did not score many points.

      As to it being better than the former arrangement, it’s a specious argument,IMHO, as the former situation was so fraught with problems that even a minor item like setting a minimum medical loss payout ratio for insurers would satisfy your requirements. You are offering us lowered expectations and asking us to be happy with very little in accepting ACA as something good. It’s OK in some ways, very bad in others. By far the worst of the “bad” is the immense subsidy to AHIP, which will make them even more powerful and thereby negate your notion that it’s an “incremental step.”

      One good thing: In 2021, as I understand it, states will be allowed to adopt their own systems. This would open the door to SP, which came so close to passage in California last decade. If one state goes that way, the rest will fall like dominoes. Ergo, I see that as the big fight down the road, and hope Democrats are for us rather than with AHIP, again.

  • ACA or single payer is really any difference? Both have governmental intrusions into your care/well being.

    I say bring it. While you wait in line (think vehicle license bureau) my fellow well-to-doers will be traveling to new and exotic lands for hip and knee replacements.

        • You’d do well to define either typical, or European, lest someone believe you, Mark. As we noted before, while insurance companies will be be making more revenue, they are also in many states being forced to slash overhead. Will overall profits rise? Quite possibly. But when coverage is extended to millions who could not hope for it before, you’ll find its very hard to go backwards and take it from them. If in a decade or so health care costs are still out of line with results, the precedent for further squeezing insurance company overhead will already have been set, and I imagine that will be the direction of future reform. Single payer is nigh unthinkable right now, but it does seem quite possible that we can get a system like the Swiss, wherein insurance companies are required to offer a basic plan on which they make no profit. There’s still the waste inherent in a multi-payer system, but it’d be much better off than what we have now!

          • Wow. Just wow. Spoken like someone who already HAS health insurance through the workplace. Oh wait, you do!

            You see, it’s just so damn easy to make decisions for others when those decisions DON’T affect you!

            Mark is absolutely right. This is a gift to the insurance industry. The sick peoples’ lobby is at LEAST as strong as the insurance industry lobby, right?

            Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors.

                • So I betcha he would be pretty pissed you using his song to help the republicans in any way shape or message.

                  Like Cat stevens, or Jackson Browne, Burt wont even let them use his songs in GOP functions.

                  Try and use republican songs writers like Ted Nugent, or Kid Rocks from now on. and see where that gets your message!

            • It is a gift to the insurance industry in exchange for a pretty substantial gain – health coverage for millions of Americans who lack it right now. Its very easy to compare the ACA to an ideal system that doesn’t currently exist. But the majority of Americans don’t want that system (though its possible a plurality do), and certainly a majority of Senators don’t want that system. If you’re using the ACA to evaluate the decision making of those involved with it, comparing to to single payer is useless. The only Democrat who could have given the public option a better fighting chance is Baucus, and I think his failure to do so has much to do with him not running for re-election. For the rest of the pack, Senate Dems and Obama included, the choice was between the ACA or nothing. And nothing is frankly an immoral decision. (of course, the Heritage Foundation/American Enterprise Institute, the GOP leadership, or the conservative media establishment could have easily made the public option a potential alternative, but they did not and there’s little we can do about it now.

              • Comparing Obamacar to what it replaced is a valid assessment. So is comparing it to the single payer gold standard. The backwards comparison reveals how far we come, the comparison with the gold standard reveals how far we have to go.

                Obamacare improves the existing system of private health insurance for those under 65. There’s no question about that. But even when fully implemented, if ever it is, it will leave tens of millions without health insurance.Moreover, it is hideously complicated. I think it is unsustainable, and believe the question is whether it will prove a bridge to a single payer system, which is sustainable, or come crashing down, reverting health care in the U.S. to the status quo ante.

                On balance, I suppose Obamacare is a small step forward, but only a small step, and an uncertain step, and while we can be grateful for small steps, we should not be too grateful or too pround given how far we have to go, and how much we have stumbled just to get to where we are.

                • I disagree that single payer is the only sustainable system, though it is as you say the gold standard. Criticizing Obama or Tester for not getting it is like criticizing Mendel for not theorizing evolution. (Baucus is the exception – he had the most cards of anyone in the situation, and played them very poorly. Or, viewed differently, very lucratively!) The key is going to be limiting the profits per plan of insurers. This can be done by limiting the overhead allowed, as is done currently, but this needs to be done more vigorously.

              • Sorry, dude. Guess that you had to be there. The evil done after our coup will never be atoned for in our lifetimes. But please understand that my hatred for the Nazi bastards running/ruining the country comes legitimately. They are pure evil.

          • If insurance companies write the legislation, as was done , PW, I can only ask what planet you live on. What hope is there in a system where they write the law, and your people, supposedly our elected leaders, are mere sock puppets? Are you daft?

            Don’t forget to vote.

            • You are criticizing here the process, not the outcome. We already talked about this – insurance companies throughout the US have been forced to slash overhead in ways Wall Street would never have let them before. Now, will they be able to prevent these screws from being tightened in the future? Perhaps. But at least the screws are there now, and a real public upwelling in favor of taking healthcare to the next step, particularly in those states that are over-represented in the Senate, will be hard to resist, especially now that a system of sorts is in place (the strongest opposing arguments, after all, were against on a purely hypothetical system)

        • Mark, how rich are the French feeling these days? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/world/europe/a-proud-nation-ponders-how-to-halt-its-slow-decline.html?pagewanted=all

          But in a more competitive world economy, the question is not whether the French social model is a good one, but whether the French can continue to afford it. Based on current trends, the answer is clearly no, not without significant structural changes — in pensions, in taxes, in social benefits, in work rules and in expectations.

          But Mr. Hollande’s Socialist Party and the harder French left have not seemed to grasp the famous insight of the prince in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s renowned novel of social upheaval, “The Leopard,” that “everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same.” Sometimes, talking to French politicians and workers, one has the feeling that they all consider themselves communards and revolutionaries, fighters on the left — but at the same time, like the far right, they wish to lock into place the comfort of the known.

          In May 1968, students at the University of Paris in Nanterre began what they thought was a revolution. French students in neckties and bobby socks threw cobblestones at the police and demanded that the sclerotic postwar system must change.

          Today, at Nanterre, students worried about finding jobs and losing state benefits are demanding that nothing change at all. For Raphaël Glucksmann, who led his own first strike in high school in 1995, members of his generation have nostalgia for their rebellious fathers but no stomach for a fight in hard economic times.

          “The young people march now to reject all reforms,” he said. “We see no alternatives. We’re a generation without bearings.”

          • How’s the US working out?

            Despite spending more per person on health care than any other country in the developed world, no so well:
            http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries.html

            In the United States:

            There are fewer physicians per person than in most other OECD countries. In 2010, for instance, the U.S. had 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 people — well below below the OECD average of 3.1.

            The number of hospital beds in the U.S. was 2.6 per 1,000 population in 2009, lower than the OECD average of 3.4 beds.

            Life expectancy at birth increased by almost nine years between 1960 and 2010, but that’s less than the increase of over 15 years in Japan and over 11 years on average in OECD countries. The average American now lives 78.7 years in 2010, more than one year below the average of 79.8 years.

            We spend FAR more than France, the UK, and the rest of Europe, for worse results.

    • Um, could you be just a wee bit more specific? You’re not very clear in what you’re attempting to argue.

  • I believe Obamacare is not the perfect answer, but it is a big step in the right direction. All the Bullshit Marks is spouting about being under insured is absolutely trash. If you had nothing before and youre getting free preventive tests and conversations with doctors now….. Attention, that’s a step up not a step down. and than one only has to be careful to get a plan with co-pays, not Coinsurance which is the insurance companies again fucking with us.

    From Michael Bihari, MD:

    “Copayments
    A copayment (or copay) is a fixed-dollar amount that you pay each time for certain services. Most commonly, you will be responsible for a copayment each time you have a doctor’s visit and for each prescription medication you fill. For example, with my health insurance, I pay a $15 copayment for each primary care physician visit, $25 copayment for a specialist visit, and $20 for each brand-name prescription.

    Coinsurance
    Coinsurance is a percent of the cost of your care. You are responsible for paying the co-insurance amount. For example, if a doctor’s visit is $100 and you have a 20% coinsurance, you will pay the doctor $20 and your health plan will pay the doctor $80.

    Copayments are most often used in HMOs and for services you receive from a network provider in a PPO. Coinsurance is often used when you get services from an out-of-network provider in a PPO. This can be quite costly, especially if you use an out-of-network hospital for a surgical procedure.”

    Lastly the newest bullshit story from the gop about doctors leaving medicare and therfore Obamacare is just that Bullshit.

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services aspe.hhs.gov Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation says primarily that the federal government said the percentage of all “office-based physicians” accepting Medicare patients hasn’t changed significantly between 2005 and 2012.

    Meanwhile, the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is “slightly higher” than the percentage of doctors seeing private-insured patients. In all, the government said the number of physicians “who have agreed to accept Medicare” rose to 735,041 in 2013 from 705,568 in 2012.

    Good luck, republicans with your untruthful rhetoric! In My Opinion, the only reason I see you going after the very laws you created years ago is because a black president re-introduced them and got them passed when you couldn’t pass your own plan, and you have nothing better to offer, should they be taken away!

    The GOP doesn’t care about regular people, and really don’t even plan to even discuss to pass single payer because it takes too many dollars out of the very insurance corporations, they lobby for. less money for their masters, less money for their own pockets.

  • In the discussion on the ACA I find it hard to get an accurate picture. There seems to be so much politics and position taking it is difficult to see through what impact it will actually have.

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