OP-ED

What Republicans Want to Take Away

The fight is on — again. Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and Republicans across this country are doubling down against President Obama’s health care reform law. Now that the Supreme Court has said that most of the new law passes constitutional muster, the Republicans are running for office pledging to repeal every aspect of the health care reforms.

For millions of people this isn’t a political issue, it’s a personal one. Their health depends on it.

Massachusetts has led the country in health care reform. Most of us — 98 percent — have health care coverage, and our state leads the country in tackling head-on the ever-growing costs of health care. That is why President Obama used our law as a model for health care reform. But the national Affordable Care Act adds some important elements that improve care even here in Massachusetts.

For seniors, health care reform means expanding Medicare coverage to pick up the costs of prescription drugs. As the donut hole closes, the average Massachusetts senior has so far saved about $650. But Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and their fellow Republicans want to take that away.

For young people, health care reform means staying on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26. So far, more than 20,000 young people here in Massachusetts have taken advantage of this. But Romney, Brown, and their fellow Republicans want to take that away.

For everyone, health care reform means access to preventive care like colonoscopies or mammograms without co-pays. Early detection can save both lives and money. In Massachusetts, 780,000 individuals have received such services. But Republicans want to take that away.

For anyone who develops cancer, a chronic illness, or any medical condition that can cost a staggering amount of money, health care reform means that their insurance company can’t set some arbitrary limit on lifetime coverage. Because of that, countless families will have more secure and stable health care. But Republicans want to take that away.

For small business owners who are struggling with rising health care costs, the federal reforms give tax breaks on insurance coverage. But Republicans want to take away that tax break for small businesses.

The Affordable Care Act is already helping families in the Commonwealth. Together, these reforms make families safer. Better health care coverage means more people will get preventive care — and that means catching serious problems earlier when outcomes are better and treatments are cheaper. Better health care coverage also means that when someone receives a bad diagnosis, the family won’t be crushed financially. And helping small businesses pay for health care premiums also means that they can compete against bigger businesses on a more level playing field.

But now, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and their fellow Republicans propose to repeal every single one of these provisions. And if they get their way, then what? They don’t have any better proposal. It’s just back to square one and more battles over health care.

It’s time to move forward.

It’s time to focus on building a future. It’s time to create jobs, to improve education, to invest in roads and bridges, water, power and all the infrastructure that businesses need to get their goods to market and help people get to work — the things that create the right conditions for opportunities to flourish.

And yes, it’s time to make the health care system better. We need to reduce health care costs, not by shifting those expenses to families, but by developing innovation in health care delivery and research that will cut costs by improving health outcomes. Massachusetts is already at the frontier of these innovations. Our hospitals receive the most NIH funding to discover new breakthroughs. Our businesses are at the fore of designing new medical devices and curing diseases through biotechnology. And our doctors, administrators, insurers, and others all across our health care system are working toward a shared future of better health and lower costs for everyone. They deserve our support, not more years of fighting.

Now that the Supreme Court has resolved the last challenge to health care reforms, we have a real opportunity to move ahead, to concentrate on strengthening our economy and giving hard working families a chance to build real security. It’s time to move forward.

Elizabeth Warren is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

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6 replies »

  1. Doesn’t every business seek more if a third party is assisting with the funding? Think about your car. Think about any claim of any kind.

    If it’s free people will always take more than they need. People need to be responsible for them. Eliminating deductibles and increasing premiums and taxes is a rouse that will cost us more.

    Finally, eliminating insurance companies from routine services will significantly simplify the industry and re-open the doors to private practice which is currently extinct in many parts of the country.

    Thank for you interest and comments. I welcome questions.

    I’m not a politician, just an employer. I did spend fifteen years in the insurance industry as a broker working with small business owners on all commercial lines. I did run for office once.

  2. not fair to discredit him simply because he is a politician. he does bring up some excellent points. but i do think the doctor making $374k/yr is not completely candid….he didn’t take into account any overhead/employees.

    i think his theory is more on personal responsibility and cutting out “middlemen” where they might not be needed. i understand(and kinda agree with) your point of people skimping if they have to pay themselves….but then, the privately insured are doing that already with co-pays. $40 vs. $60….is that really what is needed to keep people going to doctors to take care of themselves($20).

    all other things being equal, office visits would certainly be cheaper if the doctors didn’t have to hire people to bill insurance and manage collections.

  3. I employ 55 people. I hope to be able ot buy through an exchange and lower my costs.

    ” Reduce the roll of Insurance companies in our daily lives. A rollback of the definition of covered medical services to eliminate the use of insurance on routine office visits, coupled with expanded use of health savings accounts (HSA’s). Insurance was originally established to guard against risk of financial devastation resulting from accidents and debilitating diseases such as cancer. Routine office visits are not a risk; they are a common event, a certainty.”

    Trivial savings, if it works. Most health care spending is on outpatient procedures, inpatient care and drugs. It is not clear if it would work, as we have evidence that people will often skimp on needed care and costs will be higher in the long run.

    Back on topic, still not sure why politicians would be posted here. Few have any real expertise on health care and you end up with pretty biased presentations.

    Steve

  4. if this bill is passed it is because special interests will benefit (in fact they wrote it not congress). it had nothing to do with health care. that was ruse. by the way the cost for this forced coverage by insurance companies will literally put many off of coverage as many will not be able to afford higher preimiums. second many insurance companies will just shut down or move their business off shore (as in offshore on paper) to avoid the laws. if they really care about people they would stop trying to control the market for the benefit of a few at the top including themselves. they would start doing what they promised to do, obey the constitituion of not interfereing with the exercise of people’s rights. there is nothing there that forces the gov to fund the poor for anything. the states on local level can handle that. besides the increase in jobs and prosperity will take care of that. taxes never do solve problems but that might not be the real motivation, but rather to destroy a country not to help it. to use peoples’ fears and greed against them.

    rose

  5. Dear Elizabeth Warren,

    No where in your post do you reference the cost of Obama care. You reference procedures “without co-pays” (free) and you ignore the fact that the cost which are unaffordable by both business and individuals is in the premiums. You fail to acknowedge the fact that the costs of benefit programs are the primary driver behind the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs. Instead of reducing the cost of health care you have expanded it and reallocated it.

    There are three choices with health care:

    1. Obama-care: Can a government who can’t control their own spending really believe that they can manage health care. In addition, Government is going to expand the benefits (“with out co-pays”) and expand the number of people that are currently covered. This sounds like a diet where you can eat more and weigh less. Our health care system is already too fat
    2. Do nothing: This not really an option, after all the cost of health care is the primary driver of out sourcing jobs. In 2009, my business paid $1,550.00 (per month, per family) for family coverage. That is $9 per hour or $18,000 per year. Even when I split this with my employees they still can afford family coverage.
    3. Reduce the roll of Insurance companies in our daily lives. A rollback of the definition of covered medical services to eliminate the use of insurance on routine office visits, coupled with expanded use of health savings accounts (HSA’s). Insurance was originally established to guard against risk of financial devastation resulting from accidents and debilitating diseases such as cancer. Routine office visits are not a risk; they are a common event, a certainty.

    “To fund office visits through insurance premiums is simply a more expensive way to pay for them. With so many Americans using high co-pays and HSA’s to pay for routine care it is not a big leap to simply exclude these services from insurance reimbursement.

    By excluding this routine care from being eligible for insurance reimbursement we eliminate a layer of administrative service and expense both for the insurance carrier and the physician’s office. A reduction in administration would have an immediate and dramatic impact on the cost of health care, as 25% of every dollar that currently flows through an insurance company is eaten up in administrative cost.” (www.Mikesplan.net).

    Ask yourself the following:
    1. Should I need insurance in order to be able to afford seeing a doctor for a common cold?
    2. How many patients can a doctor see in a day? How many patients does a doctor need to see in order to make a good living? If a doctor sees 3 patients per hour and the cost of an office visit is $60.00: that is $374,000 per year.
    3. What is the average co-pay for those who work in private sector? If the average co-pay is $40 and office visit is only $60, and if the insurance companies cost of administration is 25% then why do I need an insurance company for this level of service? I suspect that the average co-pay for person employed in the private sector is substantially more than $40.00
    4. Without insurance what would the cost of my office visit decrease by 25%
    5. Do health information systems make it easier or more difficult for small private practices to get stated? Doesn’t all of the Obama-care red tape make it impossible for private practices to”start up”?

    Elizabeth Warren, you are hurting this country!

    Sincerely

    Michael Vallerie

    P.S. I employ 13 persons. The tax breaks in the federal reform are misguided. My tax break is less than $500.00. My personal deduction for health care is greater than $500.00. I can not take both deductions; therefore the tax break under Obama-care is worthless!

  6. This opinion column by Professor. Warren is full of signifcantly misleading statements on many health care insurance subjects. Just taking one about which I have personal knowledge because I am a Medicare beneficiary, it is totally untrue that

    “As the donut hole closes, the average Massachusetts senior has so far saved about $650. ”

    It’s pretty hard for anyone — especially a Harvard professor — to make four errors in a 15-word sentence but Professor. Warren has done it: The errors:

    1. The average Massachusetts Medicare beneficiary (not senior, not everyone on Medicare is a senior)…
    2. “Saved” about $8 (not $650 — Warren failed to read the Obama propaganda correctly that explained the savings — see third paragraph in http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/release.asp?Counter=4388&intNumPerPage=10&checkDate=&checkKey=&srchType=1&numDays=3500&srchOpt=0&srchData=&keywordType=All&chkNewsType=1%2C+2%2C+3%2C+4%2C+5&intPage=&showAll=&pYear=&year=&desc=&cboOrder=date)…
    3. So far in 2012 (she didn’t quantify the time period)…
    4. Because drug dealers are giving a very small portion of middle and upper income Massachusetts seniors a 50% discount on brandname drugs as part of a backroom White House deal in 2009 (not because the donut hole is closing; it isn’t)

    The signficant qualifier that Ms. Warren missed (or that she purposely lied about) is that relatively few seniors (6% to 8% depending on whose statistics you use) come anywhere near the donut hole. And less than 1% go far into or through the donut hole.

    For poor seniors there is no donut hole (and our premiums are paid for free and we have nominal co-pays).

    In Massachusetts, there is additional assistance such that no one making up to as much as around $55,000 (I know that doesn’t sound like much to you thirty somethings but that’s a pretty good retirement income) should ever pay more than $3250 out of pocket for drugs (that is would only barely be exposed to the donut hole and would never spend enough to save $650). There are similar savings for couples making up to $75,000 or so. Professor Warren would not be aware of this program because she does not come from Massachusetts.

    High middle and high income seniors in Massachusetts can get hit with some significant drug bills if they have some chronic or other unfortunate medical condition requiring an expensive drug therapy. It is probably little comfort but they are still better off financially than before the Republicans implemented Part D in 2006, a bill that Professor. Warren’s party opposed. For example, in 2005 a typical RA drug regimen cost $24,000 (in 2012 dollars); this year it would cost about $6000.

    So again, with four errors in 15 words, consider how many there are in the whole opinion piece.

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