Sunday, January 12, 2014

GOP should try to make health insurance cheaper for consumers, not more expensive

Assuming the GOP drops the  “repeal Obamacare”  slogan and instead tries  to repair  the Affordable Care  Act , what could they offer?  They should  make all health insurance  cheaper for consumers instead of taking away its benefits, quit proposing implementation delays, and stopping a campaign to scare would be participants away. .  
 Every time  those with squeaky wheels   get  greased by an exemption or delay,  insurance companies warn that reducing the pool of healthy participants  would shift more costs to everyone else who gets insurance. They understand  why any more opt out provisions  and fewer  people covered  only ring up the costs.

Obamacarescaring has been part and parcel of GOP strategy to whack health care reform at the knees, and  their newest attack is to claim the federal site is not secure. Their proposed legislation to notify you of security breaches  is a proposal the administration claims fixes something that” ain’t broke” and is already handled  by other laws. The GOP disagrees. Needed or not, such legislation does not alter Obamacare and would not be the first redundant legislation cluttering law books.


What the GOP is  doing is  playing  on  recent news about  security failures in Target and Nieman Marcus’ credit cards and information to scare you from going on line to sign up for health insurance.


The GOP has attempted mightily to make Obamacare look like a failure before it even got implemented.  Scaring away potential customers  is not the only tactic the GOP has used  to self fulfill their prophesies. The GOP  has tried to  cripple  access to the system by blocking local navigators signing up people, refusing to expand Medicaid, claiming it  will be too expensive, will not give you a choice of doctors, or is  too complicated to access or is not secure. They cherry pick stories that dramatize  the few who find such is true, and ignore the ever increasing and overwhelming numbers who find it is good enough for them, their friends, co-workers, and relatives.
We can expect the GOP to come up with more ideas to replace and repair Obamacare, but beware their  bearing gifts inside  Trojan horses. Any “repairs” should  not yank the popularly supported requirements of covering pre-existing conditions or young adults on their parents’ insurance, or reinstating lifetime caps on the amount of coverage, or removing the gender and  mental health parity standards. Removjng co-pay free  cancer screenings, or annual checkups, or certain reduced drug benefits from the health care act provisions would not make health care more  affordable to anyone or make  any of us  likely to care for their own health.
GOP “ repairs” should keep the ACA’s  costs reducing provisions. Cost savings measures required of providers  and “pay-fors” built  into the Affordable Care Act, per the Congressional Budget Office, echoed by Simpson-Bowles proposals,    will save  the deficit by  $ 109 billion   over the next ten years  and added twelve years   to the Medicare fund.  
GOP’s replacement proposals  to date  sound nice, but do little.    Health savings accounts only benefit those with jobs and  who do not live pay check to pay check.  Cross state insurance sales and mal practice reform are ideas evaluated four years ago  by the Congressional Budget Office as having minimal effect on consumers’ insurance  rates or do not  result in covering most of the previously uninsured.

Footnotes: updated information:

Rand researchers found that allowing anyone to buy a noncompliant plan would have a far more detrimental effect, raising  exchange premiums as much as 10 percent and decreasing enrollment by 3.2 million, or 26 percent.  By allowing those who got notices that their policies were being cancelled as non-compliant and to keep them for a year would have an effect of  increasing policies offered on the exchanges by less than 1%, “minimal effect”.

Re: security of ACA federal exchange websites.  "

Jan 16, 2014 11:58am
Nearly three months after its launch, underwent end-to-end security testing and passed with flying colors, the top cybersecurity official overseeing the website told Congress today.
Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the House Oversight Committee that results from the tests have alleviated her earlier concerns about risks of cyberattacks and theft of consumers’ personal information.
“This security control assessment met all industry standards, was an end-to-end test and was conducted in a stable environment that allowed for testing to be completed in the allotted time,” Fryer told the panel. The assessment was completed Dec. 18, she said.
Fryer had expressed opposition to launching the site on Oct. 1 without proper security testing, but the administration proceeded with the launch against her advice.  She also revealed in testimony last month that several “high-findings” of security risk had been flagged and resolved during intermediate testing in November and December.
Fryer told lawmakers today there have been no successful attacks on the website since Oct. 1, and that mitigation strategies to limit risks to cybersecurity have been effective.
“The protections that we have put in place have successfully prevented attacks,” she said. “There have been no successful security attacks on the FFM [federal marketplace], and no person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information.


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