Monday, August 03, 2009

Health care: but what's in it for me?

Hi everyone,

For those of us in the 5th Congressional District of Wisconsin here's the sampler from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce:

America’s Affordable Health Choices Act would provide significant benefits in the 5th Congressional District of Wisconsin: up to 17,400 small businesses could receive tax credits to provide coverage to their employees; 12,300 seniors would avoid the donut hole in Medicare Part D; 1,300 families could escape bankruptcy each year due to unaffordable health care costs; health care providers would receive payment for $92 million in uncompensated care each year; and 22,000 uninsured individuals would gain access to high-quality, affordable health insurance. Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. represents the district.

• Help for small businesses. Under the legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 17,400 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits.

• Help for seniors with drug costs in the Part D donut hole. Each year, 12,300 seniors in the district hit the donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. The legislation would provide them with immediate relief, cutting brand name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and ultimately eliminate the donut hole.

• Health care and financial security. There were 1,300 health care-related bankruptcies in the district in 2008, caused primarily by the health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill provides health insurance for almost every American and caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $10,000 per year, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.

• Relieving the burden of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers. In 2008, health care providers in the district provided $92 million worth of uncompensated care, care that was provided to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care would be virtually eliminated.

• Coverage of the uninsured. There are 43,000 uninsured individuals in the district, 6% of the district. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nationwide, 97% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 22,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.

• No deficit spending. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surtax on the income of the wealthiest individuals. This surtax would affect only 7,580 households in the district. The surtax would not affect 97.9% of taxpayers in the district.

For the rest of the country, please click here to find your district.



Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Mpeterson said...


PaulyW said...


I am troubled by the dependance on our government to handle this in anyway similar to the Social Security System, Medicare, Medicade and now add this uncontrolled Cash for Clunkers program. We can't balance our budget, tax revenue is down, and we have record deficit projected. I want to address some of your points:
1)Providing tax credits to small business will reduce revenue. How is that going to help pay the cost?
2)Covering the un-insured has a cost. Why should we cover illegal aliens? The cost associated is tremendous.

3) Some of the drugs they are now paying for may not be allowed under the public plan as the cost associated are tremendous. I think seniors would rather choose to buy the drug than die.

4) Bankruptcy - can't disagree. Set up a plan that covers catastrophic injuries just like car insurance for when you total the car and the people in it. It would place a cap on expenditures and it would cost less that the whole plan as proposed.

The plan has major flaws and there is no reason to pass it without everybody getting a chance to discuss and talk about a plan we can afford. This is being fast tracked without proper review.

Some other things to concider:

The CBO has stated that the Health Care bill will cost more that expected. Do you dispute that?

Are you comfortable with making private insurance illegal? Obama said he would allow people to keep private insurance, but page 16 of the House bill disputes that.

I do hope you or I do not get old, because you may not get assistance. SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION Page 425. Are you comfortable with that?

What are we supposed to believe? Obama, while running for president said it may take time, but he wanted to get to a single payer system, eliminate private plans, yet daily he says no, thats not what he meant? Do you dispute that he has said this?

Mark, not everybody wants this quickly krafted bill. Everybody needs some form of healthcare. Why not pick up those that don't (exclude illegals) and find a way to get people to manage the system better. There is no need to use insurance to go get an oil change for your why not apply some of those principles to health insurance.

Anonymous said...

Wow, good info, so much so that it would be worth disrupting town hall meetings to get the real news out. Or wait maybe if we sat and listened reasonably at the meetings the news would get out. Keep it coming, and let everyone know how to contact their reps so their voices can be heard over the unruly mobs.


Mpeterson said...

Oh, don't misinterpret my comments, although it'd be easy to do I now notice.

I like what they've done in general, but as you'll note from my column last week, I've already said that this bill has been compromised terribly -- to perpetuate the same growing lethal mess we have now.

Here's what's certain no matter where you land -- we have to change this sooner than later or the fat will really hit the fan. So to speak.

Mpeterson said...

On the other hand, the CBO has also produced findings that suggest we can pay for most all of it simply by eliminating waste in the system. If that's true, I'm for it. If that's not true, then I'm not.

I don't believe in not paying for stuff as we go along. Neither does Mr. Obama. What the Congress does is their affair.

PaulyW said...

We can't afford what is being spent right now. Government is the most inefficient provider of services and this will be no different. Do you really think Social Security will be there in 5-10 years?
You failed to answer why Obama claims to let everybody keep private insurance, yet in 2007 he says it is his goal to eliminate all private insurance. Also, do you think we should have end of life counceling?

Single payer systems in Canada and UK will become our system. We will be lacking proper healthcare if that happens.

Mpeterson said...

Well, maybe, but HMO's spend as much as 31% on administrative overhead while Medicare spends only 5% or so. In Canada it's less.

Plus, you don't think Canadian health care is any good? 1) it's better than what even I have now and 2) Canadians live 2 years longer than we do. So, how would that be a bad thing? Plus, they've got great beer!

James Dionne said...

Canadians live two years longer due to the genetic make up of their population (mostly of European and Asian desents), diet, risk factors, and culture (big wine drinkers!). There are many factors involved in determining statistical life expectancies not just for the single payer healthcare plan that they have been on in the last 20 years. Also the big gorilla in the room is why does our health care cost so much now? A big part is due to massive malpractice lawsuits and malpractice insurance cost increases. But you won't see a word about tort reform in this plan from the Dems, they gotta protect the trial lawyers.
I'd like to point out that when a single provider of a service is in a market, innovation and customer service suffers. Look at your phone service when Ma Bell ruled. But what happened when competition was introduced by splitting the monopoly up? A revolution in the telecommunications industry. Healthcare needs a competitive system to innovate and keep costs down, and most importantly, keep customer service up. Change is needed, but we should think this one through before we get a system that we all despise.

Brian said...

James -

You brought up some very good points. I'm on the same boat as you with this single-payer system. I just don't see it working like everyone wants it to.

The competition part of the argument isn't something I've thought about yet.


PaulyW said...

I have a different theory why they live longer....they are relaxed. Kind of like that northern WI mentality.

Medicare has less overhead, but the service stinks. And they want to remove the Med Advantage which people can buy. It's no wonder seniors are so set against this. They see what is really happening.

Doctors supplying Medicare services get told how much they can charge. And that un-paid overhead has to get pushed somewhere. Medicare is not the model for this change. Doctors will get sparce when fewer students try to go into medicine, and eventually you have rationed care and shortage of doctors.

PaulyW said...

So people voicing their opinion at a Town Hall meeting is a "unruly" mob? Is not Code Pink an unruly protest group? If you really think a elected member of congress will listen, then you lack the wisdom to see what they are really about....themselves.
They have already decided or have been told how they will vote prior to coming home. How come the majority of the congress people have to get talking points from the leadership? When asked the tough questions about the bill, they don't have the answers. Some even refused to reply. Some have admitted they have to split it up and read it. They should read it themselves.
You would get angry too if you were refused the decientcy of an answer to legitimate questions. This is about our lives moving forward. There is no reason to run it through without the over 1000 pages being read and understood by everybody. This should not be about the agenda, but what is best for ALL Americans.

And now the left wing strong-arm tactics will start as the President sends out e-mails to organize his supporters on the issue. Who is putting on the pressure now?

Mpeterson said...

I guess we could always argue that Americans live less healthy lives because of black magic. That makes it happily impossible to change anything -- which is great for your profit margins if you're an HMO CEO.

The gorilla in the room, however, is not malpractice insurance. It's hospital and insurance company profits.

Mpeterson said...

Well, to those of you opposed to a public health plan -- I'm thrilled to know that you won't be accepting any Medicare or Medicaid when you get older! That should help us balance the budget brilliantly.

Seriously Pauly, do you like the care you get now?

-- to the other Anonymous: I'm also always happy to admit when I'm wrong about something. All you have to do is give me an argument that's better than the one I'm using. That's how we roll in Philosophy. :^)

PaulyW said...

Yes, I like the care I get now for myself and my family. I like my doctor, and if I want to go see him, I call.

If nothing changes, I will have to go on Medicare in the future but I may not like it. It is a government run program.

And you opened up a can of worms when you deny the fact that the trial lawyers would howl if they put limits on law suits. Mark, the trial lawyers are the greedy slimy big business types that you despise. They are behind most all business dealings. They are the facilitators. Everything you do in life is touched by a lawyer. Remove outragious doctors malpractice insurance and watch the costs drop in the HMO and private insurance.

James Dionne said...

The Dems fatal flaw was not telling the American people what was in the bill before trying to "Rahm" it through. Heck, half of congress didn't know what was in the bill. And immaturely calling your constituents corporate Nazi's for asking questions does nothing but make them work harder to defeat you. Now, they will get nothing passed and we are probably worse off for it.

Mpeterson said...


Are you talking about this health care bill or the Patriot Act?