Archive for Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New report shows 228,000 Kansans would gain health coverage by 2019 under Senate bill

December 16, 2009


About 228,000 Kansans would gain health coverage by 2019 under the Senate reform bill being debated in Congress.

If the bill fails to pass, it is estimated that 59,000 more Kansans would lose coverage in the next 10 years, increasing the number of uninsured residents by 17 percent from an average of 338,000 in 2007 and 2008 to 397,000.

The figures were released Wednesday in a report by Families USA, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for health care consumers.

“The consequences of inaction are very severe for people across the country,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “If the Senate fails to act, Americans will continue to struggle and a growing number of them will face the devastating effects of going without coverage. The Senate has an opportunity to provide peace of mind to families by providing and extending health coverage to virtually everyone.”

The report “At a Crossroads: Is Health Coverage Ahead for America?” used figures provided by the Congressional Budget Office.

Nationally, the report estimates that 31 million people would gain health coverage under the bill by 2019, and if the bill doesn’t pass, another 8 million individuals would lose coverage. Currently, it is estimated that 46 million Americans are without health coverage.

Research shows that each year, the deaths of at least 22,000 people between the ages of 25 and 64 can be attributed to lack of health insurance. The uninsured also are more likely to live sicker and die earlier than those with coverage.

Extending coverage

Pollack said there are three ways that health care reform would extend coverage to more people. Those are:

• The Senate bill would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and would prohibit them from charging higher premiums based on health status.

“Insurance companies charge discriminatory premiums and that will come to an end. It also means for women who have to pay considerable more in premiums, they no longer will be faced with discrimination in the premium cost.”

• The bill would expand eligibility for Medicaid. Federal law requires states to cover all low-income children; however, eligibilty levels for parents vary widely across the nation. The national median eligibility for parents is 67 percent of the federal poverty guideline or $14,770 in annual income for a family of four.

“For people who do not have dependent children, in 43 states, you can literally be penniless and you are ineligible for the Medicaid safety net.”

The Senate bill would make all individuals who have incomes below 133 percent of the poverty guideline — or $29,330 for a family of four — eligible for Medicaid.

• For middle-class families who can’t afford premiums but don’t qualify for Medicaid, the bill creates a new health marketplace, also known as a health insurance exchange, where people can purchase more affordable insurance. In addition, subsidies will be available to families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level or $88,200 for a family of four.

“For many people who are shut out of the system, it is going to mean that they are no longer shut out of the system, and through these subsidies I think it will make it more attractive for people to buy in,” Pollack said.

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He said many states are concerned about how the Medicaid increase would affect budgets. But, Pollack said the funding formula would be different under the Senate bill.

Today, he said the federal government pays an average of 56 cents per dollar and states kick in the remaining 44 cents. These percentages vary state to state.

Under the bill, the federal government would pick up 100 percent of the costs for the first few years and then states would pick up a “much lower” portion of the bill than they are paying now.

Cost-cutting measures

Pollack said health reform also would benefit those who already have health coverage through lower premiums.

He said the insured are paying “hidden health taxes” that are passed along by hospitals who are forced to care for the uninsured.

“When you have lots of people who are uninsured and when they go to a hospital and get care, often they can’t pay the full bill and of course, the hospital has to get its costs covered,” Pollack said. “So, what do they do? They shift costs to all of us who have health insurance and that results in higher premiums that all of us have to pay.”

According to a report released by Families USA in September, the “hidden health” tax increased premiums for family health coverage by an average of $1,017.

So far, Pollack said Congressional Budget Office estimates are showing that the Senate bill would reduce the federal deficit during the next 10 years.

He said such a reduction is possible mainly because of a more efficient Medicare system.

For example, he said the bill would eliminate the windfall payments that are provided to private insurance companies in the Medicare Advantage program. The program has been reviewed by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which found the plan was overpaid by 14 percent.

Families USA projects that new payment systems for hospitals will save $150 billion over 10 years.

“There are a lot of times that people go to a hospital and then they have to be readmitted at a later time because they didn’t get the appropriate care,” Pollack said. “The payment systems for hospitals will reward quality and not quantity.”

Pollack said the report’s figures wouldn’t change under any of the controversial issues, such as the public option plan, abortion issue or Medicare expansion, being debated in Congress.

He strongly hopes that the debates don’t deter legislators from passing health care reform.

“It is enormously beneficial,” he said.


Bobo Fleming 8 years, 1 month ago

Here is the deal. I have a nephew that is 26 and doesnt have insurance. He doesnt think he needs it. When he finds out that he has to buy insurance under the plan starting in 2011. But that the insurance wont take effect for four years he is going to be angry. He doesnt vote now but he will when this happens to him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

Yea, the bill as it now stands will be a minor improvement over the status quo, but forcing people to buy insurance from private insurers whose primary purpose is accumulating profits for its stockholders and overpaid executives, not providing healthcare, is not going to sit well with lots of people.

I think the people who are going to be most pissed off are those running small businesses, and the greatest pressure for real reform, such as single-payer, very well may come from them.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

The alternate headline would be "New Report shows all people paying federal income tax would be paying much higher taxes if Reid & Pelosi's wretched mess should somehow become law". Hopenchange.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

But on the bright side, at least all those extra taxes will be going to the good Republicans who run the insurance industry, snap.

tomatogrower 8 years, 1 month ago

Your nephew is playing Russian Roullete. If something happens to him then we will be saddled with taking care of him anyway. Also I read the article, and couldn't find anything about paying for insurance for 4 years, before you get any benefits. Is this another lie that's been going around, like the death squad lies?

Isn't Brownback praying really hard, so these Kansas won't have coverage and can just die when they get sick? Sure, make sure that every embryo wanted or not is brought to full term, but screw them after that. If you're a good Christian you would never be laid off from your job and lose your insurance. Everyone knows you've made God mad, and he is making your life miserable, so just live with it, or rather, die with it, because good, conservative "real" Christians just want you to die. You've obviously done something horrible to god to deserve your fate.

Bobo Fleming 8 years, 1 month ago

tomatogrower- its not a lie. Both house and senate versions call for a period of payments into the plan before the insurance is effective. They vary on the length of time but both versions have the pay before the insurance becomes effective.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

I predict that if coverage doesn't go into effect immediately after the forced payments begin, there will be massive non-compliance.

MyName 8 years, 1 month ago


Which is why not having insurance is good for his nephew, but it still raises medical costs for everyone else to cover the unpaid costs for treatment.

David Albertson 8 years, 1 month ago

When are you people going to realize that life isn't all about me, me, me. We will all be better off when everyone is covered. What kind of world would we have if these right wing idiots ran everything. Oh wait, we just had 8 years of it. Damn, I need a job.

Godot 8 years, 1 month ago

Obama tipped his hand today in his last-ditch, fear mongering effort to ram his cultural revolution through Congress. He claimed that the US will be bankrupt if his health care reform is not passed.

Here is the low down on his claim. The US is bankrupt, right now. No matter what. US is insolvent. Thank you, Bush, Paulsen, Bernanke, Geithner, Pelosi, Reid, and, ultimately, Obama.

If Obamacare passes, taxes will be increased by billions of dollars for at least 4 years before Obamacare benefits take effect; during that time, Obama and the profligate and intemperate Congress led by Pelosi and Reid will have the billions of dollars to play their shell game of taking money from Treasury to transfer to the Fed to lend to Big Banks at zero percent, to be paid back to Treasury with money borrowed from Fed, while Big Banks earn big fees and lend money to us the taxpayers at 29.9 percent.

Is there anyone who believes that the billions and billions of tax dollars that Obamacare begins to collect in 2010 and "save" for future use will actually still be there to pay for our care in 2014?

If you do, I would like to introduce you to my dear friend and investment advisor, Bernie Madoff.

Obamacare is a ruse, a sleight of hand.

Just as there never was a "social security lockbox," the money collected, in advance, to pay for Obamacare, will not be there when it comes time to pay the bill.

It is theft, generational theft, and a humongous power grab by the executive branch.

Obamacare is Posercare. It is a scam. It must be stopped.

notajayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

"About 228,000 Kansans would gain health coverage by 2019 under the Senate reform bill being debated in Congress."

Isn't that nice.

Of course, if the population of Kansas continues to grow at the slow but rather constant rate it has for decades, there will be approximately 142,000 more Kansans than there are now in 2019.

Even if the population did not increase at all, there would still be 110,000 currently uninsured Kansans who see no benefit from this legislation.

While all you fine liberals are patting each other on the back, what have you gained if the current legislation passes (which won't happen this year, and is still not a certainty at all), exactly?

The public option is dead. D-E-A-D. Everyone is being forced to buy insurance - from private companies. That is, unless the courts overturn that provision, as they should.

Insurance companies will be forced to insure those with pre-existing conditions. No problem with that. But the fact that they won't be able to charge more means all of us - ALL of us - will see our premiums rise even more sharply than they are now to pick up the difference.

The bill does nothing, AB-SO-LUTE-LY NO-THING, to contain costs. Healthcare expenses will continue to spiral out of control, costs picked up by ALL of us in out-of-pocket expenses, premium payments, and/or taxes.

All those teary-eyed sob stories that people have to choose between health insurance and feeding their kids? Congratulations - the government will be forcing that choice upon them.

Their kids didn't win.

bartstop (Anonymous) says…

"When are you people going to realize that life isn't all about me, me, me. We will all be better off when everyone is covered."

How, exactly?

"Damn, I need a job."

Of course this bill makes sense when you'll be one of the takers, not the payers.

texburgh 8 years, 1 month ago

This is alarming! We must act now to protect those 287,000 Kansans from health insurance! Where is Mary Pilcher-Cook? Where is Brenda Landwehr? Do they know that passage of health care reform will help 228,000 uninsured Kansans get health care? Do they know that passage of health care reform will prevent 59,000 Kansans from losing health care? We MUST stop this! We all know only the wealthy deserve health care. (And legislators like Pilcher-Cook and Landwehr.)

Centerville 8 years, 1 month ago

Would it be too much to ask that the reporter actually find out how much it will cost Kansas taxpayers to obey this federal mandate. The Medicaid program is already busting our budget. Pretending that it's all a free lunch isn't's shilling.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

If Congress doesn't pass crap & raid, Kansas will be underwater by 2019! We're all gonna die!

Ricky_Vaughn 8 years, 1 month ago

Conservatives would rather go bankrupt blowing up sand and rocks halfway across the world than to actually get something in return for the money the government is spending.

Makes sense to me! (sarcasm)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

It's not the left that is melting down, kubacker. It's the world's environment and our entire political and economic system, and only the left (and that includes considerably less than half the Democrats in Congress) seems to be concerned about that.

Meanwhile, the right is just happy that the inevitable results of decades of corrupt right-wing politics aren't coming home to roost on a Republican watch.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

“ “There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits…and investing in job creation and economic growth,” President Obama said last week. “This is a false choice.” During the same speech, he asked his audience to “let me just be clear” that his administration, having racked up the biggest budget deficits ever, is embracing fiscal responsibility, as reflected in his vow that “health insurance reform” will not increase the deficit “by one dime.” For connoisseurs of Obama-speak, the address featured a trifecta, combining three of his favorite rhetorical tropes. There was the vague reference to “those who” question his agenda, the “false choice” they use to deceive the public, and the determination to “be clear” and forthright, in contrast with those dishonest naysayers. These devices are useful as signals that the president is about to mislead us.”

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

"Meanwhile, the right is just happy that the inevitable results of decades of corrupt right-wing politics aren't coming home to roost on a Republican watch."

And snap is a prime example of that.

Bud Stagg 8 years, 1 month ago

I won't argue with the fact that we need coverage for everyone. But can't we find a better way than to let the government run it? The Government has shown it's lack of ability to run anything well. The IRS, Welfare, Medicare, defense contracts, etc are all the worst run systems in the world. People who work for the government generally accept average productivity and average results. The private sector usually expects and achieves much more.

America has a great system. Let's not screw it up with a bunch of socialist, government run programs. Those of you who want bigger government can go live in a 2nd world country like Canada or England or Sweden.

They are good places to live, but why do the most successful of their people end up in America? Because it is the best! I want to live in the best country, the one who leads the rest of the world. Please, don't make our country like theirs.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

"The Government has shown it's lack of ability to run anything well. The IRS, Welfare, Medicare, defense contracts, etc are all the worst run systems in the world."

Sorry, but it's explicit Republican policy to make sure that government doesn't run well, and pointing out success in their self-fulfillihng prophesies isn't a convincing argument against government--- just bad government.

"The private sector usually expects and achieves much more."

Well, that's the myth, but the healthcare system is prime evidence of its fallacy.

Bud Stagg 8 years, 1 month ago

Bozo, Did I say anything about Rebublicans or Democrats? Has any government program ever run well? Under republican or democratic control? I wouldn't call it successful with either party in control. There are very few government programs that I would call efficient or effective. The reason being, they can always go back to the source of funding to get more if they miss budget or are not productive with the money they get.

Private sector usually does not have that ability, until recently. (The bailout is a sham, Those corporations and banks should have been allowed to fail, to place the blame where it belongs, on the executives running the companies, but that is another topic.)

I find most politicians to be poor managers. All hat and no cattle. Therefore, the less control government has, the better.

georgiahawk 8 years, 1 month ago

The private sector has not proven they can run health care, they need to either step up or get out of the way. I would rather see the private sector step up, but their time is running out and there is no indication that they will do anything other than line their pockets in fear of government intervention! I don't know which is worse, greed or incompetence, either way we get the short end of the stick!

Kirk Larson 8 years, 1 month ago

Senegal-Your nephew is an idiot and he will cost the rest of us more money by his idiocy. I know because when I was 24 I thought I did not need insurance until I had an accident that required ER services and surgery. It took about 20 years to pay off loans I had to scrape up from family members who could not well afford them. All my misadventure did was cost premium payers more money and take money from my family's hands. My employer offered no insurance and individual policies were (and still are ) exorbitantly priced. We need reform with a strong public option!

100Ways 8 years, 1 month ago

I work for a major retailer as a cashier earning $ 8.50 per hour with no benefits available for one year through my employer for one year from my date of hire as most associates are hired (32 hours per week). I have worked for this company since October, am college educated, but have found few prospects that offer full-time employment and am Medicaid eligible for now. Unfortunately if medicaid decides I am no longer eligible for benefits under their guidelines, I will have one of two alternatives - 1. Quit my job - becoming even more of a burden to taxpayers or 2. seeking assistance from drug companies for my prescriptions that would cost me more than $1000 per month with no insurance. Everyone has different ideas about healthcare reform and what should be done and I am not looking for a political fight. If you have something constructive to share, feel free. I feel my employer should be required to offer affordable healthcare benefits to their associates - as it is clear they are milking people to gain an unfair profit advantage that is costing taxpayers. This retailer has two stores in Lawrence with many locations nationwide. For the record, I am a Democrat.

notajayhawk 8 years, 1 month ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Sorry, but it's explicit Republican policy to make sure that government doesn't run well, and pointing out success in their self-fulfillihng prophesies isn't a convincing argument against government– just bad government."

Uh, right, Herr Klowne, 'cause there haven't been ANY Democrats in charge in the entire history of the IRS, Medicare, the Postal Service ...

100Ways (Anonymous) says…

"For the record, I am a Democrat. "

No kiddin'. Wouldn't have guessed.

You really think a retailer should pay their cashiers $8.50/hr AND pay for their healthcare, their profitability be damned? Brilliant.

At least, after they have to close their unprofitable doors, you'll get your wish of continued eligibility for Medicaid.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 1 month ago

notajayhawk- This illustrates why we need single-payer preferably, but public option if nothing better. Foreign businesses and manufacturers are out-competeing us because they don't have to pay for health care; people are stuck in jobs they hate because they can't afford to lose their health care; the person with the next great small business idea won't go for the brass ring because individual health plans cost too much. The private heath insurance market has failed and is stifling the economy. We need reform!

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