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Mark Fernald: Trumpcare Hurts The Granite State

What Trumpcare Means for New Hampshire:  Thousands lose their health insurance, hospitals take a financial hit, and the wealthy get a tax cut.

The Congressional Budget Office has now officially ‘scored’ Trumpcare and has estimated that 23 million will lose their health insurance.

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has made it possible for nearly 50,000 citizens of New Hampshire to get health insurance. The vast majority of these newly insured are the working poor.  Their employers offer no health insurance, and they could not afford health insurance on the private market.  People making $18,000 a year could not afford a $6,000 health insurance policy before the Affordable Care Act.

If the Republican healthcare plan becomes law, nearly all of the newly insured will lose their coverage.

The expansion of Medicaid in New Hampshire has brought over $100 million per year into New Hampshire.  That new money has flowed to the bottom line of our healthcare providers, primarily our hospitals, which bear huge burdens providing free care for people without health insurance.  One study concluded that Medicaid expansion has cut the cost of uncompensated care over 40% in those states that expanded Medicaid.

Under Trumpcare, New Hampshire healthcare providers would lose hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade, jeopardizing the financial health of some of our hospitals.

At the heart of Trumpcare is a big tax cut for the wealthy.  The Affordable Care Act included the Net Investment Income Tax, a new 3.8% tax on unearned income (such as interest, dividends, and capital gains) received by couples with incomes over $250,000 a year.  Trumpcare would repeal this tax.

The Net Investment Income Tax corrected a flaw in the original financing of Medicare:  the system is funded by a payroll tax on the wages of working Americans, rather than by a tax on the incomes of all Americans.  Part of our paychecks supported Medicare, but dividends, interest, and capital gains did not.

The importance of this flaw cannot be overstated.  Medicare is a program that benefits Americans who reach the age of 65.  It makes sense to pay for it the way we pay for the rest of the federal government—based on our incomes, not just on our W-2 earnings.

(Social Security is different.  It is paid for with a payroll tax, and the benefits you receive depend upon how much you pay in.  With Medicare, your benefits are not based on the Medicare taxes you have paid.)

Warren Bufffet is paid a modest salary by his company. The vast majority of his income is dividends and capital gains that are not subject to the Medicare payroll tax.  Year after year, before the Affordable Care Act, Warren Buffett paid less in Medicare tax than many wage-earning Americans.

To his credit, Warren Buffet has spoken out against Trumpcare as a tax cut for people like him who do not need it.  According to Buffett, repealing the Affordable Care Act—and the Net Investment Income Tax—would have saved him about $680,000 in 2016.

Repealing the Net Investment Income Tax will cost the federal government about $60 billion a year.  Trumpcare offsets that revenue loss with huge cuts to healthcare spending.  Medicaid expansion would be phased out, while health insurance subsidies for the working poor would be eliminated.

Here in New Hampshire, if Trumpcare becomes law, the health of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens will decline as they lose their health insurance.  The financial health of our hospitals will also decline, as the number of uninsured people increases.

Republicans have spent years railing against “Obama tax hikes” without mentioning that the target of their wrath is a tax that corrected one of the great inequities in our tax system.  The health of millions will be harmed to benefit the wealthy few.

The Republican plan is now in the Senate, where it is being revised in secret. Most senators pay the Net Investment Income Tax, as they have large stock portfolios, and family incomes over $250,000.  We will see which senators vote to give themselves a tax cut—while taking health insurance away from millions—and which senators will vote against a personal tax cut and for affordable healthcare.

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor.  He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Alliance for Retired Americans: House Health Care Vote is Appalling for Retirees, Older Americans

Raid of Medicare, cuts to Medicaid among the most problematic parts of the AHCA

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, in response to the House vote today to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act.

“Retirees and older Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare are simply appalled by today’s American Health Care Act vote.

“This bill decimates Medicaid, with more than $800 billion in cuts. Medicaid pays for the nursing home care of millions of seniors and health care for people with disabilities. The $8 billion that the GOP added to their plan at the last minute is a mere drop in the bucket compared to their cuts.

“It also robs the Medicare Trust Fund to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. That transfer of wealth from the sick to the wealthy is unconscionable.

“The House leadership’s decision to rush the floor action means that lawmakers voted on the bill without even obtaining updated figures from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“CBO estimated that the original bill would leave 24 million more Americans without health insurance after a decade, due to repeal of the subsidies and the rollback of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in states that adopted it. We cannot rule out the possibility that more than 24 million people would lose coverage under this version of the bill.

“Despite the wheeling and dealing and vote trading, the GOP repeal bill still drops the coverage guarantee for people with pre-existing conditions, strips coverage from millions and drives up costs for millions more.

“Among people ages 55 to 64, 84 percent had at least one pre-existing condition in 2014. That has not changed since the last vote.

“It is difficult to say what the cruelest aspect of this vote is, but raiding Medicare and cutting Medicaid surely remain at the top of the list.”

Senator Hassan Joins Colleagues in Calling on President Trump to Protect Granite Staters from Higher Health Care Costs

Senator Urges President Trump to Protect Cost-Sharing Subsidies that Help Lower Health Care Costs for Hard-Working Granite Staters 

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan joined fellow members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), including Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in calling on President Trump to stop efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to help stabilize the insurance market by protecting the cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act that help lower health care costs for hard-working Granite Staters and Americans.

“As we have said, we stand ready to work on improvements to the law that would reduce costs for individuals and improve the stability of the market. But, we cannot work together on commonsense reforms without a strong commitment from your Administration to do no further harm and to halt efforts that have already begun to undermine access to affordable coverage,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you, again, to take action to protect and continue this vital financial assistance for our constituents and all of the health benefits that our families rely on today.” 

More than 6 million Americans enrolled in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act receive cost-sharing subsidies to help reduce their out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. 

A lawsuit brought by Congressional Republicans, House v. Price (formerly House v. Burwell), seeks to stop ACA cost-sharing subsidies and raise out of pocket costs for hard-working American families. Instead of committing to protect the payments, President Trump and House Republicans further delayed action on this lawsuit – prolonging uncertainty for consumers and insurers – until May 22, 2017. President Trump could take action to halt these subsidy payments, which would force families to lose critical financial assistance and create instability for insurers that could result in plan cancellations.

“Failing to take immediate action to oppose the lawsuit or direct House Republicans to forgo this effort will increase instability in the insurance market, as insurers may choose not to participate in the marketplace in 2018,” the Senators added. “Most importantly, if your Administration stops these payments, it would immediately expose our families to higher insurance costs and could force them to forgo needed care.” 

Last week, Senator Hassan and Senator Shaheen joined their colleagues in urging President Trump and his administration to abandon efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that they can work together in a bipartisan fashion to improve the law and lower the cost of health care for all Granite Staters and Americans. 

The full text of the Senators’ letter available here and below.

Letter to Trump Re Cost Sharing

 

As President Trump & Republican Leadership Move Forward With Repeal, Shaheen Seeks ACA Stories From Granite Staters

In a video published on social media, Senator Shaheen urges Granite Staters to send-in their stories to HowACAHelpedMe@shaheen.senate.gov

*Watch on Youtube*

(Washington, DC)—This morning in a video published on social media, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked Granite Staters who have been helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to send-in their stories as part of her effort to show President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress that the people who could be harmed by repealing this law are more than just statistics. Senator Shaheen setup a special email address for Granite Staters to send-in their stories: HowACAHelpedMe@shaheen.senate.gov.  

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement would recklessly endanger healthcare coverage for nearly 120,000 Granite Staters,” says Shaheen in the video. “But I want to show my colleagues that this isn’t just a number – it is individuals and families whose lives would be disrupted if their health insurance was pulled out from under them. That’s where we need your help. I want to hear your story. What has the Affordable Care Act done for you?…We need to show Republican leadership in Washington what their actions to repeal healthcare coverage will mean to Granite Staters and their families.”

Senator Shaheen has been urging President Trump and Republican leadership in Congress to work across the aisle to improve the law, rather than repeal. In 2015, Senator Shaheen successfully improved the Affordable Care Act to help small businesses by passing bipartisan legislation. The Pace Act remains one of the few successful and non-controversial efforts to change the healthcare reform law. 

Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report on the Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The report estimated that by repealing the ACA without a replacement, 32 million people would lose healthcare coverage by 2026, with nearly 18 million Americans losing coverage in the first year of enactment. Premiums in individual markets would about double by 2026. The same day the CBO report was released, Senators Shaheen and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) hosted a roundtable discussion with healthcare providers and policy leaders to assess the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act on New Hampshire. These experts warned that this could have dire consequences for the tens of thousands of Granite Staters who now have coverage thanks to the healthcare reform law. They drew attention to the expanded coverage provided for mental health and substance misuse treatment, which has been vital as the state combats the opioid epidemic, as well as for the management of diabetes and other diseases. Providers also highlighted the harmful effects of repeal, which hospital administrators have already factored into investments for the future of their practices. Repealing the ACA and the corresponding compensation structure would disrupt hospitals and healthcare providers’ ability to plan ahead. 

Key Facts on the ACA in New Hampshire:

– 43%: uninsured rate in NH has fallen since the ACA was enacted in 2010 citation

– 63,000: Granite Staters who gained healthcare coverage under the ACA citation

– 3x: Estimated increase in uninsured rate if the ACA were repealed citation

– 118,000: Granite Staters who would lose health care coverage by 2019 under ACA repeal citation

– 48,000: Medicaid claims submitted in 2015 for vital substance use disorder treatment

– 9,000: Young adults who have benefited from the ACA provision that allows kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance up to age 26 citation

– 690,524: Granite Staters who benefitted from free preventative care and services such as flu shots, cancer screenings & contraception citation

– 74%: Seniors enrolled in Medicare Part B who took advantage of at least one free preventive service citation

– 13,000: Number jobs lost in NH if the ACA were repealed citation

– 2%: average premium increase on NH’s exchange from 2016 to 2017, the second lowest increase in the nation citations here and here

 

ACA Repeal & Opioid Epidemic:

– 50%: Increase in treatment gap under ACA repeal for Americans suffering from the opioid epidemic citation

– $5.5 billion: Amount of money lost per year under ACA repeal for treatment for mental and substance use disorders citation

– 2.8 million: Americans with a substance use disorder, of whom about 222,000 have an opioid use disorder, would lose some or all of their insurance coverage citation

 

After Billions of $$$ to Stockholders, UnitedHealth Claims Poverty Due To Obamacare

By LaurMG, used by CreativeCommons license via Wikimedia Commons

By LaurMG, used by CreativeCommons license via Wikimedia Commons

SMH.

Yesterday’s 24/7WallSt article about UnitedHealth said that an “earnings warning” issued by the corporation “could be a serious blow to at least part of ACA/Obamacare.”

UnitedHealth’s latest advice to investors is that the corporation now expects slightly lower 2015 profits.  (Can’t help noticing: that recalculation includes a write-off of “$275 million related to the advance recognition of 2016 losses.” Nevermind that we haven’t actually gotten to 2016 yet; UnitedHealth is already calculating losses.)

Apparently, that press release was worth the headline “UnitedHealth Warning Creates Huge Spillover, With Big Implications Ahead.”

Just a month ago, 27/7WallSt was writing happier news about UnitedHealth. Quarterly earnings per share were better than expected, and better than 2014. Premiums were up 9.87% over last year. The company was adding about 100,000 new subscribers a month (1.7 million new people a year). And for the first three quarters of 2015, things were so rosy that UnitedHealth spent $1.1 billion buying back its own stock.

Plus, UnitedHealth paid out another $1.3 billion to shareholders in dividends, just in the first three quarters of 2015.

So… $2.4 billion paid out to shareholders in the first nine months of this yearand now suddenly there’s supposed to be some sort of crisis?  Wow.

Back to 24/7WallSt: “What has been interesting to see here is that UnitedHealth actually has seen its shares soar under ACA/Obamacare.”  Yes, that’s what happened.  The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.  Here’s what UnitedHealth’s stock price history looks like:UNH stock chart

Looks like UnitedHealth’s profits are up since Obamacare, too.  Here’s what their quarterly earnings-per-share history looks like:Am I the only one having a hard time seeing how this is a problem for UnitedHealth?

Back to 24/7WallSt. The headline from last month’s article: Are UnitedHealth Earnings Enough for Investors?

Hmmn.  Is investor greed the real crisis for Obamacare?

— — — —

insuranceYep, there’s more.

As of yesterday, the corporation’s new profit expectations “reflect a continuing deterioration in individual exchange-compliant product performance.”  Yep, they’re talking about policies sold to individuals through ACA exchanges, which apparently are not “performing” very well.  From the press release: “UnitedHealthcare has pulled back on its marketing efforts for individual exchange products in 2016. The Company is evaluating the viability of the insurance exchange product segment and will determine during the first half of 2016 to what extent it can continue to serve the public exchange markets in 2017.”

In other words: individual policies aren’t “performing” very well, from the corporation’s perspective.  So UnitedHealthcare may stop selling them.

UnitedHealth is currently the largest health insurance provider in America. Other large health insurance providers – Anthem and Cigna, Humana and Aetna – have plans to merge, which “could shrink the number of major companies in the health insurance industry from five to just three. And that could mean fewer options and higher rates for consumers and the employers that provide health insurance.”

And according to yesterday’s 24/7WallSt article, UnitedHealth’s (newest) earnings forecast “could be used by the companies to support those pending health insurance mergers.”  Apparently on the theory that the four other insurers are too small to compete in the individual policy “product segment.”  (Even though Centene Corp. and Kaiser Permanente seem to be doing just fine.)

Am I the only one wondering why UnitedHealth’s latest earnings warning would justify the mergers of its largest competitors?  Given the corporation’s “soaring” stock price.  Given the corporation’s growth in earnings-per-share.  Given the fact that the UnitedHealth paid out $2.4 billion to shareholders just in the first nine months of this year…?

Am I the only who remembers that Obamacare was intended to rein in profiteering by insurance companies?

Remember what it was like, back then?  “In the midst of a deep economic recession, America’s health insurance companies increased their profits by 56 percent in 2009, a year that saw 2.7 million people lose their private coverage.  The nation’s five largest for-profit insurers closed 2009 with a combined profit of $12.2 billion.”

So, yeah, I suppose someone could “blame” Obamacare for UnitedHealth’s current financial situation.  And the fact that UnitedHealth’s per-share profit (EPS) is 75% higher now than it was in 2009.

But if anybody’s going to start passing blame around, now that “the 2016 presidential election has brought the health care argument up more times than can easily be counted”…

I think we should also be talking about whether Obamacare managed to stop the corporate profiteering, like it was supposed to.

— — — —

Can’t help noticing…

Yesterday’s headlines were fueled by the sudden drop in UnitedHealth’s stock price, which followed its revised earnings statement.

But that was yesterday.  So far today, the stock price has recovered more than half of yesterday’s decline.

Which still leaves the stock trading at about four times its price in 2009.

— — — —

Read more NHLN coverage of stock buybacks here.

Information for NH Residents on 2016 Health Insurance Marketplace

NH Insurance Department Issues Consumer Guidance as Open Enrollment Begins 

CONCORD, NH – As open enrollment through the state’s federally facilitated Health Insurance Marketplace (www.HealthCare.gov) begins, the New Hampshire Insurance Department offers information to state residents who plan to purchase health insurance in the individual market for 2016.

“As many New Hampshire residents begin the process of choosing a health insurance plan, I am pleased to note that they have choices: five health insurance companies to choose from, many plans and health care provider networks, and a range of price points,” said New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “And I want the people of this state to know that the Insurance Department is here as a resource: Our Consumer Services staff is available to assist with issues that arise after people are enrolled in coverage.”

Federal assistance based on income level:

While you can buy a plan off the Marketplace — through an insurance agent or directly from an insurance company — you’ll need to go through HealthCare.gov if you want to receive financial assistance. Depending on your income level, you may qualify for financial assistance for a health insurance plan through the federal Marketplace or for no-cost or very low-cost coverage under the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. By visiting www.HealthCare.gov  and viewing New Hampshire plans, you’ll be prompted to enter your household and financial information; you’ll be notified if you qualify either for federal assistance for a Marketplace plan or for coverage through the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. If you are already enrolled in the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, you should have received information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services about how to pick a plan for 2016.

 

Health insurance plans:

In 2016, five insurance companies will offer plans on the New Hampshire Marketplace: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Ambetter from New Hampshire Healthy Families, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Maine Community Health Options, and Minuteman Health.

“I urge New Hampshire residents to check their options for 2016, even if they are already covered,” said Commissioner Sevigny. “Open enrollment is your opportunity to check the Marketplace to see whether there is a new plan that costs less, has a more suitable network, or has better cost sharing or prescription drug coverage.”

For 2016 individual plans, open enrollment begins November 1, 2015, and ends January 31, 2016. New Hampshire residents buying individual plans will not be able to buy 2016 coverage or change their 2016 plans after January 31, 2016, unless they have a change in circumstances, such as changing jobs, getting married, or having a baby.

There are five categories, or “metal levels,” of coverage in the Marketplace. Plans in each category pay different amounts of the total costs of an average person’s care and feature different deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. The actual percentage you’ll pay in total or per service will depend on the services you use during the year.

  • Bronze: Your health plan pays 60%, on average. You pay about 40%.
  • Silver: Your health plan pays 70%, on average. You pay about 30%. (Note: if you qualify for cost-sharing assistance, you will pay less than 30%, but only if you choose a Silver plan. Your cost-sharing could be as low as 6%, depending on your income.)
  • Gold: Your health plan pays 80%, on average. You pay about 20%.
  • Platinum: Your health plan pays 90%, on average. You pay about 10%.
  • Catastrophic: Catastrophic coverage plans pay less than 60% of the total average cost of care on average. They are available to people who are under 30 years old or who have a hardship exemption.

When choosing a plan category, think about your health care needs. Gold and platinum plans often have lower cost sharing — meaning the plan pays more and you pay less –when you need care. Bronze and silver plans tend to come with less expensive monthly premiums, but they tend to pay less of your costs when you need care.

More information

The New Hampshire Insurance Department Can Help

Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your insurance coverage at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-1406, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov. If you wish to file a grievance, you may call, email, or submit a complaint electronically or by mail or fax: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/consumers/complaints.htm.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance.

Senator Kelly Ayotte Is An Abysmal Failure On Women’s Health

Dont Take Away My Breast Exams - Image by Charlotte Cooper FLIKR CC

Dont Take Away My Breast Exams – Image by Charlotte Cooper FLIKR CC

Sen Kelly Ayotte Tries To Fool Us Into Believing She Supports Women’s Health

Today Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) tried to whitewash her dismal record on women’s health issues in an op-ed in the Concord Monitor, “My Turn: In breast cancer fight, early detection is crucial.”

Yes, we can all agree that women should regularly see a doctor for routine breast exams, pap smears, and other reproductive health issues, however this editorial focuses specifically on the need for women to get breast exams and mammograms for early detection of breast cancer.

“I’ve heard from many women in New Hampshire between ages 40 and 49 whose lives were saved because a mammogram successfully detected the presence of breast cancer before it was too late.

…I’m also supporting bipartisan legislation to make sure women and breast cancer patients have the information they need to make informed decisions about their health care,” wrote Ayotte.

That all sounds great except Senator Ayotte does not have a leg to stand on when it comes to supporting women’s health.  She has voted three times to defund Planned Parenthood, who provided over 3,500 breast cancer screening in 2013 and provided thousands of Granite State women.

We stand united with our allies at Planned Parenthood, champions of quality healthcare and a cornerstone of vital services to millions of Americans for decades. One in five women will rely on Planned Parenthood for health care in her lifetime,” Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The outrageous attacks on Planned Parenthood are nothing more than extremists’ attempts to advance their political agenda with complete disregard for the potential impacts on the health and well-being of the 2.7 million women, men and young people who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic preventive care,” added Henry.

Without quality healthcare routine preventative exams, like breast cancer screenings, are routinely pushed aside to save money.The good thing is that now, in part to the Affordable Care Act, many preventative exams are fully covered by your insurance. That must be why Sen. Kelly Ayotte is so supportive of the Affordable Care Act, which provides healthcare to 50,000 Granite Staters through Medicaid Expansion. Oh wait that’s right she wants to repeal the ACA leaving thousands of women without any healthcare at all!

Limiting access to healthcare, limits preventative care for all women.

It’s clear that when Ayotte talks about making ‘women’s health a priority’ she only means “some” women,” said Jenifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.  

Kelly Ayotte seems to forget that access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings and mammography go hand in hand with access to health insurance. This is clear in her unapologetic crusade against the Affordable Care Act —  which has allowed thousands of New Hampshire women the ability to afford health care for the first time — and her efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides thousands of breast exams in our state,” added Frizzell.  

The added irony is that Kelly Ayotte introduced “legislation that would mint commemorative coins to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts to fight breast cancer.”   The Republicans in Congress have forced deep cuts to the federal budget which mandated cuts to hundreds of research programs. How much money was cut from the very program Senator Ayotte is now trying to fund with commemorative coins?

Protecting women’s health takes more than a commemorative coin. If Kelly Ayotte were serious about saving lives and making women’s health a priority, she would stop insulting New Hampshire women by pink-washing her record and support meaningful policies to improve health care in the Granite State,” said Frizzell.

No matter what Kelly Ayotte says, her record on women’s health issues is crystal clear. A abysmal failure.


 

See also: VIDEO: Planned Parenthood Wants New Hampshire  to #AskAyotte About Her Record on Women’s Health


 

Jeb’s Plan To Repeal Obamacare Would Have “Severe Consequences To Working Families”

In typical Republican fashion, Jeb Bush announced his plan to (wait for it) Repeal the Affordable Care Act!

Like a broken record, repealing the ACA has been a GOP staple since the 2010 elections, despite the facts that the ACA is actually helping people.

Repealing the ACA would have “severe consequences to working families in New Hampshire and across the country,” said State Representative Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua.

Dr. Tom Sherman, a practicing physician and NH State Representative,  told reporters today that because of the ACA, he is “seeing patients who have not been to the doctor in a decade.” Dr. Sherman noted that because of the ACA, preventative care is provided at no additional cost.

In New Hampshire alone over 41,000 get healthcare through the states expanded Medicaid program and another 50,000 through the ACA exchange.

Dr. Sherman noted that there are 5 things that people look at when they are evaluating insurance plans.

  • Quality of care
  • Availability or Accessibility to care
  • Cost of premiums (annual costs)
  • Cost sharing (how much you have to pay out of pocket)
  • Cost of prescriptions

The ACA has improved every single one of these categories.

People are actually going to their own doctor now for routine visits instead of going to the Emergency Room for a one time fix. The quality of care goes up dramatically when you see the same doctor regularly over whichever doctor is “on call.”

The ACA put limitation on the amount of money that insurance companies can take in profits, reducing premiums and slowing the rate of premium increases. Families saw an average of $162 refund through profit limitations enacted by the ACA.

The ACA also closed the “donut hole” in Medicare part D reducing the cost of prescriptions for millions of seniors.

Dr. Sherman admits that the ACA is not perfect, but when you institute a program of this size there are going to be bumps in the road and improvements need to be made. “We need revisions, not repeal,” added Sherman.

So what would Jeb Bush’s plan of repealing the ACA do?

“Jeb’s plan would take us back to the days of skyrocketing healthcare costs,” said Rosenwald. “Jeb’s plan would take us back to the days when insurance companies could drop you when you get sick, or charge you more just for being a women.”

Jeb’s plan is take the federal government out and give control back to the states, because that worked so well before the ACA. Even under the ACA only 31 states have chosen to expand Medicaid and provide healthcare to millions of people in their states.

“Jeb’s record on healthcare was a disaster in Florida,” said Rosenwald. “He gave more control to the insurance companies and took away consumer protections.”

In Florida alone there are over 1.2 million people who would benefit from the Medicaid expansion, if they actually enacted the program. That is over million people, who without the expansion, do not currently have, and probably will never get healthcare.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, repealing the ACA would “add $353 billion dollars to the deficit over the next 10 years,” and kick 24 million people off of their existing healthcare plans.

The Affordable Care Act is working and it is saving working families money and making people healthier. Jeb Bush, and all the Republicans, want to take us backwards and kick millions of people off of their current healthcare plans. This is just unacceptable.

The GOP In The US House Make Changes To The 30 Hr Work Week In ACA. They Could Not Be More Wrong

Image from NObamaNoMas on Flickr

Image from NObamaNoMas on Flickr

This week marked the six-month anniversary of the Healthcare.Gov and healthcare exchanges going live.  The anniversary also marks the closing of the first open enrollment period for people to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.  To the surprise of everyone, the healthcare exchanges signed up over 7.1 million people.  Including the millions of young adults who now have continuing healthcare coverage under their parents plan, the White House estimates that the ACA has helped nearly 10 million people gain quality affordable healthcare.

Aside from the great news about the ACA, the GOP is going full bore in their attempts to derail the ACA.  This week the US House voted for the 55th time to repeal key provisions of the law in an attempt to dismantle it piece by piece. Not to mention that the 55 different attempts to repeal the ACA has cost us the taxpayers over $50 million dollars.

This week, House Republicans voted to change the ‘full time work’ provision of the ACA.  Under the ACA employers must provide access to health insurance to all employees who work full time, or more than 30 hours a week.  The new bill that House GOP passed, mostly along party lines, changes the definition of full time to those who work 40 hours a week or more.

This is in response to GOP legislators, like NH congressional candidate Gary Lambert who told a group of college students at Plymouth State University, that the ACA is “killing the 40 hour work week.”  They claim that by forcing employers to offer healthcare coverage to employees that work 30 hours a week, employers have reduced employee work hours to less than 30 hours.  Corporations are doing anything they can to avoid offering healthcare to their employees.

It is not Obamacare that decides how much somebody works, it’s the person who runs the company,” Rep. James McDermott (D-Wash.) told the Washington Post Thursday.

The GOP is bowing down to their corporate masters by changing the law to allow corporations to have employees work full time, and still not be required to offer employees healthcare.

The Washington Post also reported that President Obama has already issued a veto threat to this bill – which has a snowballs chance in hell of getting through the Senate – due the fact that over 1 million people would loose healthcare coverage from their employers pushing the number of uninsured Americans up another 500,000 if this bill passed.

This move by House Republicans’ is exactly the opposite of what we needs to be done.  If they are afraid that workers are going to loose their full time status because the ACA says full time is 30 hours a week, they should remove the provision completely.  They should pass a law that requires employers to offer healthcare to all employees, not just those that are ‘full time’.

This is exactly what the AFL-CIO has been calling for since the law was first passed, and reaffirmed their position in a convention resolution passed in 2013.

The labor movement has pushed for a requirement in the ACA that all employers assume responsibility for contributing toward the cost of health care for their employees….

We all know full well that the corporate lobbyists in Washington would never agree to this, and that means the GOP would never entertain an idea to make access to healthcare a requirement.

House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law….” stated Speaker John Boehner in a recent press release.

Mark my words, the GOP is going to use the Affordable Care Act as the major theme in their mid-term campaign strategy. Just like they did in 2012, they are going to stump around telling people if they are elected they will repeal the ACA.

It has already begun. “On April 1st Gary Lambert made a trip to Plymouth State University to meet with students,” said Brandon Lemay a student from PSU who attended Lambert’s meet and greet. “When discussing why he should replace Representative Anne Kuster, he cited his opposition to Obamacare as a great reason to remove her.”

Former Senator Lambert is no different than the hundreds of Republicans in Washington who do not want make incremental changes to the ACA and make it better; they only want to repeal it.  Over 55 times, the House GOP has voted to repeal the ACA.   By repealing the law they want to kick the 10 million people off their new health insurance, allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people when they get sick, take away the option for young adults to stay on their parents’ plan, take away the mandate for insurance companies to fully cover preventative care, and remove the cap on insurance companies profits.

Do we really want to go back to the way it was before? No of course not, but the GOP is obsessed with moving our country backwards, rather than pushing forward. The GOP believes that voters are stupid. We know that if they were elected that they couldn’t repeal the ACA, and we also know that repealing the law would hurt millions of Americans.

“I think the recent comments by Senator Lambert, and many of those in the GOP, about the ACA, show just how out of touch they are with real Granite Staters,” said Brandon Lemay.

This repeal Obamacare campaign strategy works great, just ask Mitt Romney.

Granite State Rumblings: Thousands Of Granite Staters Flock To Healthcare.Gov Before March 31 Deadline

The website Healthcare.gov has been the butt of a lot jokes the past few months. In fact, President Obama, himself, joked about it last week on the web series, “Between Two Ferns.” That viral video had a lot of people talking and a lot more heading to the Healthcare.gov website to sign up. And that is exactly what the administration was looking to have happen.

Nationally, young adults account for slightly less than one-fourth of the Americans who signed up for health plans during the initial three months of federal and state insurance marketplaces — fewer than the government has said will be needed to make the economics of the new exchanges work – which is why the President took to the comic webwaves.

Under the ACA, everyone must have health insurance this year or pay a penalty. The penalty is at least $95 but potentially much more, depending on income.

Those who fail to sign up by March 31 will have to wait until November for another chance to buy health insurance through the marketplaces.

But here in New Hampshire not everyone is waiting. As Todd Bookman reported for NHPR a few days ago, more than 21,000 New Hampshire residents have signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released by the federal government.

Here are the New Hampshire numbers:

  • In February, 4,715 enrolled in coverage, bringing the total since October above the federal government’s estimate of 19,000 total sign-ups for the state.
  • Women account for 55% of enrollees,
  • Nearly 3-in-4 residents qualified for some level of financial assistance.

Nationally, the numbers look like this:

  • More than 4.2 million (4,242,300) people selected Marketplace plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Mar. 1, 2014, including 1.6 million in the State Based Marketplaces and 2.6 million in the Federally-facilitated Marketplace. About 943,000 people enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace plans in the February reporting period, which concluded March 1, 2014.
  • Of the more than 4.2 million:
    • 55 percent are female and 45 percent are male;
    • 31 percent are age 34 and under;
    • 25 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34;
    • 63 percent selected a Silver plan (up one percentage point over the prior reporting period), while 18 percent selected a Bronze plan (down one point); and
    • 83 percent selected a plan and are eligible to receive Financial Assistance (up one point).

If you live in New Hampshire and don’t have insurance, aren’t happy with your current coverage, or are looking for a more affordable plan, the new Health Insurance Marketplace provides you with new options to find health coverage that fits your budget. You can search and compare plans online, and quickly see if there’s a plan that works for you, by visiting the Covering New Hampshire website.

Whether you need health coverage or already have it, the new health care law offers new rights and protections that make coverage fairer and easier to understand. If you already have an individual insurance plan and want to change it, you can use the Marketplace to explore your options and enroll in a new plan. But even if you don’t want to change plans, the health care law protects you by:

  • Requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Holding insurance companies accountable for rate increases.
  • Preventing insurance companies from canceling your coverage just because you get sick.
  • Ends lifetime and yearly dollar limits on coverage of essential health benefits, including emergency rooms visits, prescription drugs, preventive care, and many others.

If you or someone you know needs health insurance, please check it out today, so you won’t miss the March 31st deadline.

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