“Feedback Friday” Letter to White House generated form letter response June 15, 2012 on Healthcare (part 8)

I have been writing President Obama letters and have not received a personal response yet.  (He reads 10 letters a day personally and responds to each of them.) However, I did receive a form letter in the form of an email on June 15, 2012. I don’t know which letter of mine generated this response so I have linked several of the letters I sent to him below with the email that I received. (May have been  these listed below 84.5, 84.8, 85, 85.2, 85.3, or 85.4) However, I think it was probably this one below:

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

I see a few problems with Obamacare. Although you promised that it would cover everyone,  Obamacare will not give everyone coverage!!! Also there are religious values that Obamacare would trangress. For instance, you promised Ben Nelson and other prolife members of Congress that these healthcare plans would not cover abortion.

I also anticipate a  drop in quality we will be seeing and it seems stupid to shove millions into an already bankrupt Medicaid system that will bankrupt Arkansas’ state government.

The real question is how efficient is the government versus the private market. Take your $50 lightbulb.

I’ve written about the government’s war on consumer-friendly light bulbs (and also similar attacks on working toilets and washing machines that actually clean), so I’m generally not surprised by bureaucratic nonsense.

But even I’m shocked the federal government gave an affordability award for a light bulb that costs $50. I’m not making this up. Here’s a blurb from ABC News.

The U.S. government has awarded appliance-maker Philips $10 million for devising an “affordable” alternative to today’s standard 60-watt incandescent bulb. That standard bulb sells for around $1. The Philips alternative sells for $50. Of course, the award-winner is no ordinary bulb. It uses only one-sixth the energy of an incandescent. And it lasts 30,000 hours–about 30 times as long. In fact, if you don’t drop it, it may last 10 years or more. But only the U.S. Government (in this case, the Department of Energy) could view a $50 bulb as cheap.

Isn’t that wonderful? My tax dollars were used to reward a company that produced a light bulb I can’t afford.

Lisa Benson has a very good cartoon about this light bulb, as well as the less-than-shocking news that Obamacare will be more costly than originally forecast.

If you like Lisa’s work, there are some other good examples here and here.

Obamacare, Two Years Later

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Added to cato.org on March 21, 2012

This article appeared in National Review Online on March 21, 2012.

This week marks two years since of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and if the Obama administration has chosen to all but ignore the second anniversary of Obamacare, the rest of us should pause and reflect on just what a monumental failure of policy the health-care-reform law has been.

What’s more, it has been a failure on its own terms. After all, when health-care reform was passed, we were promised that it would do three things: 1) provide health-insurance coverage for all Americans; 2) reduce insurance costs for individuals, businesses, and government; and 3) increase the quality of health care and the value received for each dollar of health-care spending. At the same time, the president and the law’s supporters in Congress promised that the legislation would not increase the federal-budget deficit or unduly burden the economy. And it would do all these things while letting those of us who were happy with our current health insurance keep it unchanged. Two years in, we can see that none of these things is true.

Obamacare is a costly and dangerous failure.

For example, we now know that, contrary to claims made when the bill passed, the law will not come close to achieving universal coverage. In fact, as time goes by, it looks as if the bill will cover fewer and fewer people than advertised. According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office released last week, Obamacare will leave 27 million Americans uninsured by 2022. This represents an increase of 2–4 million uninsured over previous reports. Moreover, it should be noted that, of the 23 million Americans who will gain coverage under Obamacare, 17 million will not be covered by real insurance, but will simply be dumped into the Medicaid system, with all its problems of access and quality. Thus, only about 20 million Americans will receive actual insurance coverage under Obamacare. That’s certainly an improvement over the status quo, but it’s also a far cry from universal coverage — and not much bang for the buck, given Obamacare’s ever-rising cost.

At the same time, the legislation is a major failure when it comes to controlling costs. While we were once told that health-care reform would “bend the cost curve down,” we now know that Obamacare will actually increase U.S. health-care spending. This should come as no surprise: If you are going to provide more benefits to more people, it is going to cost you more money. The law contained few efforts to actually contain health-care costs, and the CBO now reports that many of the programs it did contain, such as disease management and care coordination, will not actually reduce costs. As the CBO noted, “in nearly every program involving disease management and care coordination, spending was either unchanged or increased relative to the spending that would have occurred in the absence of the program, when the fees paid to the participating organization were considered.”

This failure to control costs means that the law will add significantly to the already-crushing burden of government spending, taxes, and debt. According to the CBO, Obamacare will cost $1.76 trillion by 2022. To be fair, some media outlets misreported this new estimate as a doubling of the law’s originally estimated cost of $940 billion. In reality, most of the increased cost estimate is the result, not of increased programmatic costs, but of an extra two years of implementation. Still, many observers warned at the time that the original $940 million estimate was misleading because it included only six years of actual expenditures, with the ten-year budget window. The new estimate is, therefore, a more accurate measure of how expensive this law will be. Yet even this estimate covers only eight years of implementation. And it leaves out more than $115 billion in important implementation costs, as well as costs of the so-called doc fix. It also double-counts Social Security taxes and Medicare savings. Some studies suggest a better estimate of Obamacare’s real ten-year cost could run as high as $2.7–3 trillion. And this does not even include the over $4.3 trillion in costs shifted to businesses, individuals, and state governments.

All this spending means that we will pay much more in debt and taxes. But we will also pay more in insurance premiums. Once upon a time, the president promised us that health-care reform would lower our insurance premiums by $2,500 per year. That claim has long since been abandoned. Insurance premiums are continuing to rise at record rates. And, while there are many factors driving premiums up, Obamacare itself is one of them. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, insurance premiums had been rising at roughly 5 percent per year pre-Obamacare. That jumped to 9 percent last year. And roughly half that four-percentage-point increase can be directly attributed to Obamacare. Even Jonathan Gruber of MIT, one of the architects of both Obamacare and Romneycare, now admits that many individuals will end up paying more for insurance than they would have without the reform — even after taking into account government subsidies — and that those increases will be substantial. According to Gruber, “after the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent.”

Finally, if the past two years should have taught us anything, it is that we may not be able to keep our current insurance, even if we are happy with it. The CBO suggests that as many as 20 million workers could lose their employer-provided health insurance as a result of Obamacare. Instead, they will be dumped into government-run insurance exchanges. And, the recent dust-up over insurance coverage for contraceptives is a clear illustration of how the government will now be designing insurance plans for all of us. Regardless of how one feels about the contraceptive mandate itself, it is just the tip of the iceberg as government mandates tell employers what insurance they must provide, and tell us what insurance we must buy, even if that insurance is more expensive, contains benefits we don’t want, or violates our consciences.

Next week, Obamacare will slouch its way to the Supreme Court. How the justices decide will be based on questions of constitutional law. Their decision will set a crucial precedent in setting the boundaries between government power and individual rights. But regardless of whether the Court upholds Obamacare or strikes it down, in whole or in part, we should understand that, simply as a matter of health-care reform, Obamacare is a costly and dangerous failure.

____________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Michael Cannon on Medicare and Healthcare

__________

The White House, Washington
 

 

June 15, 2012

Dear Everette:

Thank you for writing.  I have heard from many Americans regarding our health care system and the Affordable Care Act, and I appreciate your perspective.

The Affordable Care Act gives hard-working, middle-class families the security they deserve with more control over their health care than ever before.  Today, over 2 years after we passed this historic legislation, more young adults have insurance, more seniors are saving money on their prescription drugs, and more Americans can rest easy knowing they will not be dropped from their insurance plans if they get sick.  This legislation forces insurance companies to play by the rules, offers increased consumer protection and choice, keeps our promises to seniors on Medicare, strengthens small businesses, and cuts the deficit to help secure a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.

The law has already made a difference for millions of Americans.  Because of the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young people up to age 26 now have health insurance because they can stay on their parents’ insurance policies.  And 54 million additional Americans now receive recommended preventive services like wellness visits, cancer screenings, and other crucial care without co-pays or deductibles.

These reforms strengthen Medicare by not only preserving but also expanding benefits for Americans who depend on Medicare every day.  In 2010 and 2011, over 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare saved over $3.2 billion on prescription drugs thanks to the law.  These savings include a one-time $250 rebate check to eligible seniors who fell into the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” in 2010.  And more than 32 million seniors have already received one or more free preventive services, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.  To learn about help available through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, visit www.CMS.gov.

The Affordable Care Act also ends some of the worst abuses of the health insurance industry, and it will continue to hold insurance companies accountable in the future.  Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to more than 17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions, including everything from asthma to high blood pressure to cancer.  In 2014, insurance companies will be banned from denying coverage to anyone because of pre-existing conditions.  To protect Americans now, the Affordable Care Act includes the temporary Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which has helped more than 50,000 uninsured Americans with a pre-existing condition gain affordable coverage.  Insurance companies can no longer place lifetime or restrictive annual limits on the amount of care patients receive—helping 105 million Americans who no longer have a lifetime dollar limit on their insurance policies.

Because of the new 80/20 rule, insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of your premium dollars on your health care or improvements to care rather than excessive marketing costs or CEO bonuses.  If they fail to do so, they are required to provide a rebate to their customers.  And, for the first time ever, insurance companies must publicly justify rate increases of 10 percent or more.

To help America’s small businesses, who have long paid a higher price for health insurance—often 18 percent more than larger employers—the Affordable Care Act provides tax credits for small businesses to help pay for their employees’ health insurance.  An estimated 2 million workers get their insurance from the 360,000 small employers that will receive the credit for 2011.  In 2014, small business owners will get more relief with tax credits and affordable insurance choices in the new Affordable Insurance Exchanges in every state.  For the first time, they will have a marketplace where they can see and compare their health plan options in one place, and insurers will have to actively compete for their business.

Thanks to the new health care law, American workers and families can feel more secure knowing that neither illness nor accident will endanger their pursuit of the American dream.  To learn more about the content of this legislation and how it affects you, visit www.HealthCare.gov or www.WhiteHouse.gov/HealthReform.  For more information on resources that may be available to you, please visit www.HealthFinder.gov/FindServices.

Thank you, again, for writing.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Visit WhiteHouse.gov

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