What Does Harry Reid’s Retirement Mean?

While I watched Harry Reid’s video, in which he announced that he would not be seeking re-election to the senate in 2016, I caught myself remembering all the complaints that I have heard, about “Obamacare”, during the last two Annual Election Periods.

Rather than the since of loss that most retirement announcements create, I became a little giddy.  I thought about what Winston Churchill said after the battle of El Alamein.  On November 10, 1942 he said, ” Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Although Barack Obama has been the public face of the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), Harry Reid was the one who wrote it.

By way of a small history lesson, it is important to remember that in the autum of 2009 there was a bi-partisan group of senators, 3 from each political party, meeting behind closed doors to draft “Health Care Reform” legislation.  They were called the “Gang of Six”.

When the Gang of Six was not able to reach agreement, Harry Reid disbanded the committee and drafted, what became the PPACA, himself.  He then, as Senate Majority Leader, forced the passage of that bill through the senate during the week of Christmas in 2009.  Three months later, his fellow Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, forced the passage of his bill, word-for-word, in the House of Representatives, along party lines.

The American population showed their disagreement with what was done in the polls the following fall, but it was too late.  On March 23, 2010 president Barack Obama signed Harry Reid’s legislation into law.

It is easy, and possibly correct, to blame Mr. Obama for his endorsement of Harry Reid’s legislation.  However, it would be incorrect to lay all the blame for its stupidity on Mr. Obama.  Mr. Reid, as author, shares some of the blame for high health insurance premiums.

After-all, most states already have laws that require insurance companies to collect enough money, each year, to pay for the expected medical care for their clients.

I am willing to concede that Mr. Reid honestly thought he was doing good for the people of America.  (The other option would be that I would suspect him of being in the pockets of liberal lobbyists who paid him to write a stupid law.)

There are many good ideas included in the 900 plus pages that he wrote.  However, there are 5 things that he proposed that I find stupid.

INDIVIDUAL MANDATE

I grew up in a country in which, except for paying taxes, a citizen was free to purchase, or not purchase, products that he/she felt was the best use of their money.  Mr. Reid’s PPACA requires all Americans to purchase a government approved health insurance plan, or pay a tax called the, “Shared Responsibility Payment.”  (When Mr. Reid wrote it he called it the “Penalty.”  Mr. Obama changed the name, two years later, because he thought it would be less provocative.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the Individual Mandate was constitutional as long as Americans were given the choice of buying approved health insurance or paying a tax.

ESSENTIAL BENEFITS

Mr. Reid proposes, in his legislation, that the government has the right to dictate what insurance benefits are “essential” to all Americans.  He goes on to list 10 required benefits that must be covered by all government approved plans, but he leaves room for the Secretary of Health and Human services to add more required benefits in the future, even though that individual is not elected but appointed by the president.

To me, the word, “essential” means that something must be included.  Of his list of 10 “Essential Benefits” I find that only 7 are MUST HAVES for all Americans.  In my opinion, there are three that do not belong in a list of “Essential Benefits” and should be optional.

MATERNITY BENEFITS

Mr. Reid’s PPACA requires men and post-menopausal women to purchase health insurance that includes maternity benefits, or pay a penalty.  In other words, those individuals are forced to pay for health care that they will never use since there is no natural way for them to become pregnant.

The curious thing is that when Maternity benefits were optional, health insurance premiums, without maternity costs were approximately 40% lower than those with maternity benefits.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Mr. Reid requires government approved health insurance to cover the cost of treating an addict.  In my mind, it is just wrong to require a sober individual, or social drinker, to pay for health insurance so that those who abuse drugs or alcohol, can stay in a rehab center.

PEDIATRIC DENTAL INSURANCE

Mr. Reid’s law also requires parents to pay extra for dental insurance for their children.  Under the law, parents with new born children and/or toddlers, who still use diapers and have no permanent teeth, must pay for pediatric dental insurance.

In my opinion, once Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid are gone, America needs a new Health Care Reform law, written by someone who has some common sense, regardless of who is elected president or what political party controls what branch of government.

I will admit that there are many positive things in the Affordable Care Act that Harry Reid wrote.  I will also admit that their are some idiotic things that need to be corrected.

Apparently, I am not alone, in expressing that feeling. It was his failure to specify that tax-credits would be made available to all Americans, whether they purchased their health insurance through a state-based exchange or an exchange operated by the federal government, that was argued in the Supreme Court earlier this month.

If the Supreme Court rules that the letter of the law, as written, means more than the Spirit of the Law, as spun by the Obama administration, millions of innocent Americans can lose their federal “subsidies” to help pay for their Essential Benefit plans this summer when the Supreme Court’s ruling is made public.

If the government in D.C., that is elected in 2016, does not completely repeal “Obamacare” I hope that they, at least, will write legislation that changes the definition of the three benefits that I mentioned from “essential” to “optional.”

 

Can We Admit That “Obamacare” Has Room For Improvement?

nerd-155841_1280Unfortunately, what is sound insurance policy for one set of Americans, can be the blueprint for bankruptcy for another.

“Obamacare” should be a lesson for all Americans, but Americans are so caught up in petty, partisan debates that they are not willing to see what is really happening.

I know that it is asking a great deal from people, but please take off your Republican, or Democrat, colored glasses and take a non-biased look at “Obamacare”.

Ask yourself, “Is this law fair for everyone?”

Favoritism

There is no question that “Obamacare” has been wonderful for some people.

  • Doctors and hospitals have benefited under the new law.  Much of their Accounts Receivable problems have been solved.  Instead of having to “hound” low-income patients to pay for their expensive medical treatments, they can just over-bill an insurance company.
  • Low wage earners, who do not have group health insurance, are not required to pay the full cost for their health care.  Under “Obamacare” low-income households qualify for “subsidies” to help pay their health insurance premiums.  If their income is low enough, the government will also help pay for the bills, from their doctor or hospital, that health insurance does not pay.
  • Politicians who count on being able to transfer wealth from the haves to the have-nots, in order to secure the votes of America’s low-income earners, so they can remain in a position of power

However, there are people who have been harmed by “Obamacare.”

  • Self-employed Americans, earning over 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, must pay the full premium, that is charged by health insurance companies.  They are not eligible for IRS subsidies.
  • Employees of small businesses, earning over 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, are equally penalized for earning a livable wage.  They are also ineligible for any IRS subsidy to help with their higher health insurance and must pay the full premium out of their income.
  • Dependents of employees with group health insurance are not eligible for IRS subsidies if they are eligible for coverage through the group.  (The determining factor is not if they accept the coverage, but if they are eligible.)
  • Employers, not the IRS, are required to pay, at least 50%, of the premium for health insurance for each full-time employee if they offer group health insurance.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There is no debate that some of the changes made by “Obamacare” have been positive.

  • Preventive Service exams with no deductibles or co-insurance
  • No Pre-existing Condition discrimination
  • No Cancellation of insurance just because an individual gets sick, unless the insurance was obtained fraudulently.

However, some of the new rules are just stupid.  They drive up the price of health insurance premiums for benefits that will never be used.

  • Males, and post-menopausal women must pay for maternity benefits
  • Tea-totallers must pay for insurance to help addicts get sober
  • Parents must pay for dental insurance for new-born babies and toddlers

The bottom-line is that something had to be done about the problem of the escalating cost of health-care in the nation.  However, analytical, non-partisan minds wonder if the plan that was forced on America for political reasons, was/is the right plan for the entire population.

It is obvious that as long as Mr. Obama is president, this will remain the law of the land.  However, Mr. Obama’s rule is about to end.  He only has a year, or so, before he becomes a “lame duck”.

Regardless of who is elected president in 2016, one thing is certain.  “Obamacare”, as we know it, will be changed. The new president will want to add his, or her, agenda to the rules through his, or her, new Secretary of Health and Human Services.  When choosing a president, in 2016, it will not be a question of “IF” the health insurance rules will change, but “WHAT” changes will be made.