Archive for Monday, November 23, 2009

Sebelius outlines benefits of health reform for Kansans

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is shown with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is shown with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

November 23, 2009, 11:45 a.m. Updated November 23, 2009, 2:27 p.m.


Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced the release of a new report highlighting the benefits of health insurance reform.

“In my home state of Kansas, we estimate some very beneficial things will happen with health insurance reform,” she said during a teleconference call.

The report provides specific details on the benefits of the bill that will be debated by the Senate. Under health insurance reform in Kansas:

• 360,000 residents who do not currently have insurance and 183,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.

• 197,000 residents could qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage.

• 416,000 seniors would receive free preventive services.

• 73,900 seniors would have their brand-name drug costs in the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” halved.

• 43,000 small businesses could be helped by a small business tax credit to make premiums more affordable.

“We know there are some benefits that are hard to quantify, but we know they come along with this like the peace of mind of knowing that no matter what happens, you and your family will always be able to get health coverage,” she said.

The report also notes that if we do nothing, by 2019 the number of uninsured people will grow by at least 10 percent in every state.

Additionally, some businesses will see their premiums more than double and fewer people will have coverage through an employer if the status quo continues.

“We know that from the study done by the Business Roundtable, that employer-based health costs are scheduled to triple from around $10,000 a year to almost $30,000 by 2019. With reform, that same study shows that the costs actually decrease by $3,000,” Sebelius said. “So 10 years more of doing nothing means a pretty bleak picture. That’s why I am heartened by the progress made in Congress.”

The Senate cleared the way Saturday for debate on legislation unveiled by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The bill, a compromise between two committee-passed versions, could undergo significant changes as senators amend it during weeks of debate ahead.

Sebelius warned consumers to be cautious about what they hear.

“Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to see more misinformation and lots more lobbyists hired to be up on Capitol Hill, trying to stop the progress that’s been made,” she said.

On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour along with 14 other Republican governors denounced Democratic efforts to reform health care and said that states will bear the financial burden if enacted.

“Sen. Reid’s bill, like the House bill, guts Medicare and is a huge cost shift that will have to be borne by states,” Barbour said, according to a CNN article.

In response, Sebelius — the former Kansas governor — said “to assume that this population is currently free to states, I think, is one of the misnomers.”

She said states are picking up the costs through charity care and providing state dollars for hospitals and providers.

“They put a lot of money on the table for the uncompensated care — millions and millions of dollars are currently delivered,” she said. “So, this would put a system in place where at least two-thirds, and for the first couple of years 100 percent, of the expanded population would actually be borne by the federal government and greatly reduce the kind of state dollars that are being spent year in and year out.”

According to the report, Kansas health providers lose $802 million in uncompensated care each year, which the state subsidizes at least in part.


fan4kufootball 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes - we need health care reform but NOT what is currently being presented in the Senate. The government cannot and should not be a party to health insurance coverage. The government has proven over and over again they are very poor administrators of our money.

Also - everyone has different opinions on abortion and/or pro-life. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for that kind of decision.

verity 8 years, 2 months ago

I am really tired of hearing "Also - everyone has different opinions on abortion and/or pro-life. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for that kind of decision," or some version of "I don't believe in abortion, so I shouldn't have to pay for it." By that reasoning I should not have to pay for the wars our country is currently fighting, abstinence only sex education programs, tax money given to supposedly faith-based programs of any kind and any number of other things.

verity 8 years, 2 months ago

"The government has proven over and over again they are very poor administrators of our money."

And the private sector is so much better at efficiency. I've worked for both government and in the private sector in a number of different states---they both suck when it comes to wasting money and resources.

avoice 8 years, 2 months ago

verity: Very well-said, in both posts!

yankeevet 8 years, 2 months ago

Why are these congress people so well paid; when they do nothing?

JHOK32 8 years, 2 months ago

At least people are beginning to admit & see that change is needed, that in itself is a victory. The status quo (i.e. the insurance companies) should not be dictating what we can or cannot do regarding our own health. I know a lot of people in the insurance biz that have done extremely well financially by making others suffer from inadequate (or no) healthcare. It's time to do something right, the American people deserve better.

ksdivakat 8 years, 2 months ago

nice that Kathy is in the pic with our illustrious treasure secretary...ya know, the one who cant run the cash for clunkers program, the one who lied and cheated on his taxes, and the same one ironically that congress (not just repubs) but also dems, have asked him to step down and he said go boy! It just shows that if you are scandelious enough, and your boss is clueless as to what you do then your in like flinn, running Americas checkbook....sounds like a plan to me.

George Lippencott 8 years, 2 months ago

JHOK32 (Anonymous) says…

So you would rather have the government limit health care??

Lets discontinue coverage for mammograms because a small government appointed group not composed of health experts says so and they are soon to be on autopilot to change Medicare without any appeals mechanism (except maybe our former governor)????

What planet do you live on??

verity 8 years, 2 months ago

George, I think you're jumping to some unwarranted conclusions. Nobody recommended that mammograms be discontinued. They did recommend having less, but from what I read, nobody is jumping on board for that one.

More unsubstantiated scare tactics.

wastewatcher 8 years, 2 months ago

Sebelius is at it again. Note the lack of specifics when it comes to "affordable health insurance". When was the last time she paid for her health insurance, she has been on the government program for so long that she has no clue as to what is affordable. I would like to see her and Obama answer the claims about the costs and the medicare reductions. While they are at it why not start today by rooting out the graft and corruption that they say is there. If they know about it why wait to fix it?

notajayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

"43,000 small businesses could be helped by a small business tax credit to make premiums more affordable."

Ah, the Democratic version of math: 'We're going to force you to assume new costs, but we'll help you pay for part of them, and somehow that's going to save you money.'

"Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to see more misinformation and lots more lobbyists hired to be up on Capitol Hill, trying to stop the progress that’s been made"

Whereas the president sent his lobbyist (and Secretary of Healthcare Propaganda) directly to Kansas.

JHOK32 (Anonymous) says…

"At least people are beginning to admit & see that change is needed, that in itself is a victory."

Yuk yuk, you're a hoot, joker, it's so hard to figure out when you're joking and when you're just demonstrating your ignorance.

The polls have shown all along that people wanted reform, not THIS version of so-called reform. It's only the narrow-minded, blindly dogmatic Democrats who have ever said it was an all-or-nothing, this-plan-or-keep-the-status-quo choice.The fact that most of us are smart enough to understand this plan is not the solution does not mean, and never has meant, that we want no change at all.

Tom McCune 8 years, 2 months ago


Insurance provided by: private companies Insured can shop for and choose carrier: yes Denial for pre-existing conditions: prohibited by law Cancellation for getting sick: prohibited by law “Amenity upgrade” plans: available at additional cost Population covered: 100% Insuror profitability: non-profit by law Life expectancy: 11th in the world National total cost: 10.8% of GDP

United States of America Insurance provided by: patchwork of government agencies and private companies Insured can shop for and choose carrier: yes Denial for pre-existing conditions: commonplace Cancellation for getting sick: commonplace, although technically illegal in some states; insurors commonly lie and cheat to cancel policies “Amenity upgrade” plans: available at additional cost Population covered: 85%, but with many under-insured Life expectancy: 50th in the world Insuror profitability: very high National total cost: 16% of GDP

leedavid 8 years, 2 months ago

Verity: Taxpayers should not pay for elective abortion. It is against the law and if it remains in this healthcare bill, the whole thing fails....again.

Shardwurm 8 years, 2 months ago

Pretty sure I have no interest in anything Sebelius has to say.

Also pretty sure those in favor of this health care reform are at the bottom-end of the income spectrum and thus are used to having freebies handed to them anyway.

Whatever. We have a bottomless pit of money to throw at this thing. Just look at our state budget as a shining example that we have money to burn. I can't wait until I'm paying 70 percent of my income to taxes to that people get what they 'deserve.'

jmadison 8 years, 2 months ago

Lets all move to Switzerland. Oh wait--

Residence permits for third-country nationals To submit an application for a residence permit, you usually need to show proof of potential employment in Switzerland. Applications are normally submitted by the future employer to the cantonal immigration or labour authorities. Entry to Switzerland is only possible once the cantonal agency issues a confirmation of the residence permit.

Does the US have similar requirements for migration to the US from other countries?

Tom McCune 8 years, 2 months ago


I completely agree. Illegal aliens should be completely disqualified and should be first jailed and then deported. Legal immigration to the USA should be strictly controlled.

notajayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Newell_Post (Anonymous) says…

"Life expectancy: 50th in the world"

Doesn't anyone ever get tired of dragging out such useless statistics?

Does Switzerland have the same prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction? Drive-by shootings? Car accidents? How about industrial accidents? Toxic waste dumps?

The average height in Sweden is three inches taller than in the United States, Newell. If we adapt their healthcare system, will you get taller?

But back to Switzerland:

You have your choice of insurers, but only from companies approved by the government.

There is no such thing as family coverage - each person has to have their own individual plan.

Premiums are set according to a personal risk profile, just like ours, and NOT like the proposed healthcare 'reform' rules.

"Denial for pre-existing conditions: prohibited by law" - only true to a point. About 40% of the Swiss pay more for optional coverage - not only "amenity upgrades" for more comfortable accomodations, but for availability of additional treatments not covered by basic insurance. And insurers can - and do - deny or limit coverage for premium insurance.

Strange, but I was unable to find the term "amenity upgrade" on either of the Wiki sites you linked to. It would be interesting to see what the Swiss consider an 'amenity' - since apparently it applies to any treatment not covered by basic insurance. When is the last time you were given the option of declining an 'amenity' in this country, Newell? Did you get to decline the two-person room in favor of a four-person room? Did you get to choose a room without a flat screen TV and DVD player, and the whirpool tub?

In any case, Newell, why bother citing Wiki for anything? When the first paragraph ends with "Medical debt is the principal cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States", repeating that propaganda from PNHP, it pretty much makes everything else in the article pointless to consider.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 2 months ago

While WE taxpayers provide "Mercedes Benz" health insurance coverage for the elected officials on both sides of the aisle who have millions invested in a variety of health care stocks.

It is stunning to realize how many out here in public taxpayer land are against saving thousands of dollars a year on medical insurance.

All legislators protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world are INCREASING YOUR COST of living.

National Health Insurance and ONLY National Health Insurance will reduce the cost of medical insurance by billions through eliminating the RECKLESS spending habits of the medical insurance industry.

National Health Insurance eliminates: • industry bureaucracy which increases YOUR cost • industry profits that increase YOUR cost • industry high corporate salaries that increase YOUR cost • industry advertising that increases YOUR cost * industry over charges that increase YOUR cost • industry sales commissions that increase YOUR cost • industry Shareholders which are the primary clients of for-profit insurance companies that which increase YOUR cost • industry Special interest campaign dollars that increase YOUR cost • industry Golden parachutes that increase YOUR cost

Go To:

All legislators protecting the most expensive medical insurance in the world are INCREASING YOUR COST of living.

This is something to never forget. It is the private medical insurance industry that cancels YOUR medical insurance AFTER taking YOUR MONEY for years.

Smart National Insurance for All will not only improve our quality of life but also our wallets.

Yes we would have more expendable cash for birthdays,Christmas, vacations and investments.

Smart National Health Insurance for All cannot be cancelled!

zzgoeb 8 years, 2 months ago

So...let's get this straight; anyone posting here AGAINST the reform bill is also ready to kill Medicare tomorrow right? Oh, oops, now mom and dad and grandma will have to move in with you all, as they won't have money to pay for meds, care, etc...yeah, Medicare has been such a failure! Oh, and don't talk about fraud in Medicare as that is coming from the providers, not the government or the clients...

overthemoon 8 years, 2 months ago

Here is an exhaustive list of fact checking of the health care debate. Yes, it is from the DNC, which will give some narrow minded uni-thought folks the heebie jeebies, but it cites references for further consideration, many from traditionally 'conservative' sources. It's long, but you can check you pet peeves against reality. Let's get down to the facts and quit arguing about rumors and lies. Knee-jerk responses will be disregarded. There are a lot of shades of gray in reality, time to open up your eyes and see them.

BTW, Merrill provides a lot of information for those will to open up their heads a bit and think on both sides of the issue.

overthemoon 8 years, 2 months ago

For the record, here are some issues I don't think are addressed in the current health care bill or that have not been thoroughly addressed, to my knowledge, at all in the debate.

  1. Health care should not be tied to employment. Employers could, as a perk, provide compensation or payroll deductions for health care costs, but the insurance coverage should be the choice of the employee. As it stands now, small businesses and the self employed take the brunt of health care costs as they do not have the bargaining power of the big corporations. Every year, costs go up for less coverage. The pool needs to be larger, as is the plan with the health care exchange to which everyone should have free access without restrictions based on where they work.

  2. Family plan costs should reflect the number of children on the plan. I have always wondered why my one child costs me the same in health insurance premiums as my colleague with 3 or 5 children. We all subsidize large families. Maybe if people had to pay additional insurance for every little one, they'd think twice about contributing to overpopulation.

  3. Getting shareholders out of the health care delivery/payment mix is important to reining in costs. Health care should not be a gambling game--excuse me, an investment option-- for those who would like to capitalize on grandma's hernia. A competitive option is critical to getting the insurance companies to rein in their greed. This could be a medicare based government managed entity, or non-profit private insurance companies...isn't blue/cross supposed such a company? Getting shareholders out of the health care delivery/payment mix is important to reining in costs.

  4. I know this is highly controversial, but its the elephant in the corner. We give doctors a highly privileged status in our culture. I do not begrudge hardworking doctors their just compensation and I do realize that the costs of education must be met. However, I don't see how huge houses, expensive cars, and sidelines as real estate moguls are in any way related to quality care or education expenses. I personally know one dental specialist who clears 3/4 of a million every year. His education expenses were paid off in the first couple of years of practice and now he's on the gravy train and loving it. Everyone needs to give a little. I heard a news report on the transition to public care in Germany. All doctors were expected to take a 10% cut in income. There was a lot of complaint about this, but in the end, years later, they were all quite satisfied and still made quite handsome income.

George Lippencott 8 years, 2 months ago

verity (Anonymous) says…

I went all the way to coverage discontinuance - a very big leap. I am not trying to scare anyone.

I am scared as it is my coverage that has been cut by 500-600 billion dollars. It is my supplement that will increase to cover the new mandates.

Are you one of the young ones who will benefit??

straightforward 8 years, 2 months ago

Kathy says that if nothing is done, healthcare premiums will continue to increase... well the CBO says the senate bill does nothing to control costs. The senate bill just shifts those costs to the taxpayers as a whole instead of the individual insurance purchaser. Maybe if our former insurance commissioner had opened the doors for to more insurance companies in Kansas, competition would be higher and premiums would be lower. Let's see, now who was that insurance commissioner... ?

What Kathy fails to acknowledge is that this healthcare bill doesn't address the primary healthcare concern in Kansas. Kansas' largest problem is that people in rural areas have limited healthcare access. This bill limits that access even more because the same number of doctors will be taking on more patients for less money. These people in rural communities will be the victims of the rationing that will occur.

It's just another reason why the federal government should not be doing this. This is a states rights issue that individual states are better equipped to handle because every state has different healthcare needs. If 50 different states solve this problem 50 different ways, we will see which strategies actually work best. Then any state that wishes to do so can adopt similar laws.

Tom McCune 8 years, 2 months ago


I bring up Switzerland because when you mention health insurance reform, most people here think of the UK and Canada. I have lived under the UK system, and I would not want to live under the Canadian system due to the extremely long waiting times, lack of advanced technology, and unavailability of specialists. However, I am also uneasy living under our current system, due to denial for pre-existing conditions and cancellation for getting sick, both of which I have personally seen many times.

We're the United States of America for heaven's sake. The richest country in the world. Can't we figure out something that provides the BEST of our current system (advanced technology, choice of providers, rapid service) with the BEST of the other systems (no pre-existing conditions nonsense, no cancellation for getting sick, lower total cost)?

There is no perfect system, and the Swiss system isn't perfect either. However, it seems like a compromise that uses an element of private-sector competition to bring in some of the best aspects of both systems. If you know of another model that is better, I would like to know about it. But holding out the USA model as the best in the world isn't credible to me. I have personally known too many people here who have had too many problems that would never have happened even under the (poor quality) UK model.

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