Posts Tagged ‘healthcare reform legislation’

Lie of the Year: Reform Equals a Government Takeover of Healthcare

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

The most egregious lie of the year, according to PolitiFact.com, is the suggestion that President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law is a “government takeover of healthcare.” This is the opinion of PolitiFact.com,  the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website.  In early 2009, Republican strategist Frank Luntz urged GOP legislators to call the bill a “government takeover.”  According to Luntz, “Takeovers are like coups.  They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”  PolitiFact’s runner-up lie was Representative Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) statement that President Obama’s trip to India would cost taxpayer $200 million a day.

Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said “The label ‘government takeover’ has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in healthcare as a ‘takeover’.”  Although the new law increases government oversight of health insurance companies, it relies on private companies and the free market.

Others are in agreement with PolitiFact’s stance.  The online magazine Slate said “the proposed healthcare reform does not take over the system in any sense.”  Princeton University professor Uwe Reinhardt, a healthcare economics expert, wrote in the New York Times that “Yes, there would be a substantial government-mandated reorganization of this relatively small corner of the private health insurance market (that serves people who have been buying individual policies).  But that hardly constitutes a government takeover of American healthcare.”

When a spokesman for incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was asked about Republicans’ insistence on using the phrase – even now that it’s been thoroughly debunked – the response was “We believe that the job-killing ObamaCare law will result in a government takeover of healthcare.  That’s why we have pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs.”

Healthcare Reform Has $159.1 Million to Train Geriatric Workers

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

New grants totaling $159.1 million were announced recently by the Obama administration with the goal of training nurses and geriatric specialists.  The grants also seek to recruit students from minority groups whose presence in geriatrics is under-represented.  The grants contain new and continuing funding and are designed to build on multimillion dollar investments provided for in the healthcare reform law.  The goal is to address a shorting of primary-care workers, especially acure as the population ages.

According to a 2008 report by the Council on Physician and Nurse Supply, schools need to graduate 30,000 nurses every year to make up for a coming mass retirement.  Currently, 45 percent of nurses are 50 or older.  Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, said the grants will be used in several ways, including offsetting students’ tuition and other expenses, creating curricula, training teachers and funding research.

Washington, D.C., universities – such as Howard University – were among the recipients.  Howard received the single largest grant in the nation’s capital at more than $1 million for a “Center of Excellence” program that will increase minority participation in the healthcare profession and to better serve minority patients.

Healthcare Reform Passage a Boon to the Development Industry

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Healthcare reform could mean 60 million SF of new ambulatory healthcare facilities.  With the narrow 219 – 212 passage of healthcare reform legislation by the House of Representatives, its positive impact on commercial real estate is becoming clear. Jeffrey H. Cooper, an international investment banker who specializes in healthcare facilities with Savills, believes that the potential exists to develop more than 60 million SF of new medical office buildings.

Cooper believes that passage of the healthcare reform bill will impact four areas:

  • With 30 million new insured Americans seeking healthcare, the need for medical facilities to serve them will expand.
  • By using the standard multiplier that calculates that each new outpatient requires 1.9 SF of medical office space, 30 million newly insured individuals will require that approximately 57 million SF be constructed.
  • As reimbursements for inpatient treatment are reduced, there will be a simultaneous need for the development of new ambulatory treatment facilities and medical office buildings.
  • As the demand for new capital projects grows, hospitals will seek out third-party financing and ownership.  This is particularly true in cases where tax-exempt bond financing is not available.

With more than 30 years of real estate investment banking experience, Cooper is likely on the right track here.

Healthcare Reform Expands Pharmacists’ Role

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Healthcare reform enhances community pharmacists’ ability to advance patients’ outcomes.  The recently passed healthcare reform legislation includes provisions designed to enhance community pharmacists’ ability to advance patients’ outcomes.  http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100322/Pharmacy-provisions-in-health-care-reform-bill-will-help-pharmacists-improve-patient-outcomes-NCPA.aspx The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) notes that the most significant provisions scale back radical cuts in reimbursement for Medicaid generic prescription drugs; call for limited disclosure from pharmacy benefits managers operating in the exchanges to reduce costs; and exempt the majority of pharmacies from Medicare Part B Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics and Supplies accreditation.

Bruce T. Roberts RPh, NCPA executive vice president and CEO, issued the following statement:  “The pharmacy provisions in the healthcare bill passed by the House of Representatives are welcome steps towards improving the delivery of prescription drug services to patients across America.  Once the bill becomes law, many community pharmacies can continue serving Medicaid patients as well as offering Medicare beneficiaries’ essential medical supplies, like diabetes testing strips.”

Roberts points out that “Throughout this entire healthcare reform process, community pharmacists have offered constructive solutions.  The effective and efficient delivery of prescription drug services can produce considerable benefits. Other challenges remain and the implementation process will require our input to ensure the transition is a smooth one.”

Congress Prepares to Sell Healthcare Reform on the Homefront

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Lawmakers going on the road to sell healthcare reform in their home districts.  The Obama administration will work hand-in-hand with House Democrats to sell healthcare reform legislation to a wary public once members of Congress return to their home districts over the summer break.  Nancy-Ann DeParle, the White House’s healthcare reform czar, assured the legislators that the Obama administration will help them explain the ins and outs of the new law.  DeParle and other officials clarified precisely what the new law will change immediately, such as an expansion of health insurance and tax credits for small business.

Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said “They’re certainly focused on both implementation and doing that well, and in communicating with Americans about the benefits they will see.”  Schwartz noted that many lawmakers are presently answering constituents’ questions; this is expected to increase during the Congressional break and in the lead-up to the 2010 mid-term elections.

Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI) wants to see a joint effort between Congress and President Barack Obama to sell the new law, saying “The No. 1 spokesman for this lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and he can do a great job of it.”

Congress members who voted against healthcare reform are jumping on the bandwagon now that the law is starting to take effect.  One of the former antis is Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL), who said “I’ll make sure people are aware of things that are available.  I’ve always said that there are some good things in the bill and I want to make sure that people are able to take advantage of those.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger Breaks With Republicans to Support Healthcare Reform

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Schwarzenegger breaks with Republicans to support healthcare reform.  “The Terminator” has changed his mind.  Although he originally opposed healthcare reform as the legislation moved through Congress, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now fully supports the new federal law.  In a speech at the University of California at Davis Medical Center, the governor – who cannot run for re-election because of term limits — broke rank with his fellow Republicans, many of whom have announced their intention to sue the federal government to overturn the law.

“California is not part of this fight, and I’ll tell you why,” according to Schwarzenegger.  “When you don’t have health insurance and you go to the hospital, you are forcing other people to pay for your healthcare.”  Twenty percent of California residents lack healthcare insurance, a situation that Schwarzenegger says is a crisis that requires resolution.  “The bottom line is the plan is not without flaws, but it is a good law,” he said.  To fill the void, California is launching a temporary high-risk insurance pool to cover the uninsured that will be funded by $761 million in Department of Health and Human Services money through 2014.

Schwarzenegger also vowed to enforce the law, to the point of making certain that the state’s insurers comply with bans on lifetime spending caps.  If necessary, he will call the state Legislature into a special session to make statutory changes to comply with the act’s provisions.  “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work with the federal government to get this done,” the governor said.

Sebelius Warns Healthcare Insurers to Stop Looking for Loopholes

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Healthcare insurers’ hunt for loopholes could result in the addition of a public option to reform legislation. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has warned insurance companies to stop hunting for loopholes as a way to get around complying with healthcare reform.  Additionally, Sebelius intends to write regulations to assure that all insurers cover children with pre-existing conditions, even though some companies are adamant that this is not one of the new law’s requirements.

“The American people debated and discussed health insurance reform for more than a year.  Congress and the President have acted.  Now is not the time to search for non-existent loopholes that preserve a broken system,” Sebelius wrote in a letter to insurance industry lobbyist Karen Ignagni.

President Obama stressed the ban on denying children with pre-existing conditions as a focus of his argument during the reform fight.  His position is that children should be protected almost immediately after the bill becomes law – in this case, next September.  The insurance companies claim they don’t have to cover children with pre-existing conditions until 2014.

The insurers’ revolt over this presumed loophole could mean that progressive Democrats will reconsider adding a robust public option to the law.  The insurance companies’ threat to turn down sick kids makes the case to include a public option significantly more credible.

“Obamacare” Equals Socialism: Monica Crowley

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Conservative Monica Crowley says healthcare reform is a ploy to remake America as a socialist state.  Conservative Monica Crowley – known for her Washington Times columns, Fox News commentary and as a panelist on The McLaughlin Group – is anything but a fan of the recently passed healthcare reform legislation.  In a Washington Times column, Crowley writes that “…the American people have been shackled by a new set of chains. What the Democrats did was not just pass a horrendously expensive, corrupt and destructive healthcare bill.  They took a big chunk out of our exceptionalism.  They are turning us rather quickly into France.  Or Great Britain.”

According to Crowley, “He (President Obama) is accomplishing this by expanding government in unprecedented ways.  By expanding government into every nook and cranny of your life – through healthcare, cap-and-trade and education policy – he will exponentially grow the base of people dependent on the federal government.  By doing that, he will create a permanent Democratic majority.”

Crowley goes on to suggest that President Obama’s real goal is to establish a socialist state.  “The objective:  a massive welfare state, a la France and Greece – both of which, by the way, are sinking fast under their monstrous debts.  By transferring millions more Americans to the public dole through healthcare entitlements, he is growing our debt to levels that will bring about the end of the dollar as the exceptional cornerstone of the world’s monetary structure,” Crowley opines.

“This is why most Americans are not going to settle for less than the fully monty:  absolute and total repeal of Obamacare.  Healthcare ‘reform’ was never about healthcare.  It was about expanding government into every part of your life as an excuse to confiscate more of your private property, strip you of your constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and remake America into a two-bit, second-rate, debt-laden European socialist backwater.”

Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act Would Not Pass in the Present Political Environment

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Now that President Barack Obama’s historic healthcare reform initiative has been passed by a sharply divided Congress, the struggle to approve the most ambitious expansion of the social safety net in a generation has revealed the difficulty of passing landmark legislation in a partisan environment.Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act would not pass in the present political environment.

Writing in the New York Times, Timothy Egan makes the point that “None of the great bipartisanship triumphs of the past – Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act — would have a prayer in the present environment.  That’s not how we do politics in 2010.  We talk, loudly, only to like-minded partisans, and everyone else be damned.  If (Congressman) Kucinich had gone ahead as promised with a ‘no’ vote, it would not have an asterisk next to it. It would simply be another no, putting him in league with Michele Bachmann, John Boehner and other congressional defenders of the costliest, most inefficient and least accessible healthcare system in the Western world.”

Egan expands on his point, noting that “Reality is always a problem for purists.  On the liberal side, many fail to comprehend that they are a distinct minority, stuck for years at around 19 percent of the public.  When a liberal like Obama gets elected, he has to govern as a centrist for the simple reason that four-fifths of the country does not share his basic political outlook.  Smart liberals understand this.”

Student Loan Legislation May Be Attached to Healthcare Reform

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Adding student loan bill to healthcare reform legislation could hand President Obama two major domestic victories.  Senate Democrats may tack an overhaul of the student loan program onto the healthcare reform bill, potentially handing President Barack Obama with a double victory on two of his top domestic priorities.  According to Senator Dick Durbin, Majority Whip (D-IL), “There was a stronger feeling for including” the education proposal, although he admitted that a final decision has not yet been made.  The proposal would shift subsidies that currently support private lenders to other student assistance programs, including Pell Grants for families who struggle to pay college tuition.  “Some of the things accomplished here are really going to help a lot of people across American” Durbin said.

The leadership in both the House of Representatives and the Senate seemed to be on the verge of attaching the student loan bill to a package of fixes to the healthcare legislation.  House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA), who is a proponent of combining the two measures, said “Senators have a simple choice here.  They can either choose to continue sending tens of billions of wasteful subsidies to lenders, or they can invest that money directly in students and families.  It’s critical.  People have made it very clear that they want to take this home.”

The Congressional Budget Office said the Senate healthcare bill will cost $875 billion over 10 years and cut the deficit by $118 billion.  President Obama’s proposal, which contains negotiated provisions from the House bill, could add an additional $100 billion to the ultimate cost.  The Senate’s parliamentarian has ruled that combining the bills will work, assuming legislators reach the right balance on the final price tag.