Doctors group: House GOP health plan is re-branded and far meaner version of ACA


From                 March 8, 2017

The 'American Health Care Act' perpetuates the basic structure of the Affordable Care Act, including the subsidization of the private health insurance industry, while cutting benefits to the poor and middle class, and giving hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the rich,

Physicians for a National Health Program decries the recently released Republican Obamacare replacement bill, the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA). That plan would constitute a major backward step in health policy, compounding the problems of uninsurance and underinsurance while handing over hundreds of billions of dollars to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Proposed as a replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the AHCA would maintain its basic structure. The bill would: 

•        Continue to channel billions of taxpayer dollars through wasteful private insurers;

•         Sharply reduce the ACA’s subsidies (or “tax credits”) available to lower-income persons, particularly older adults, to purchase coverage;

•         End the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies for copayments and deductibles, increasing the cost of care for those with chronic medical conditions; 

•         Replace the ACA’s “individual mandate” penalty on the uninsured with a 30 percent surcharge on insurance premiums for those who experienced a lapse in insurance coverage;

•         Slash federal funding for the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020, and move towards a “per capita” cap on Medicaid spending that would squeeze state Medicaid budgets and push millions of enrollees out of the program;

•         Increase the tax-favored status of Health Savings Accounts, which mostly benefit people in high income brackets;

•         Reduce taxes on pharmaceutical, medical device and health insurance companies;

•         Offer tax reductions totaling $274.6 billion over 10 years to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

These and other provisions would take the nation in the wrong direction. Even with the ACA in place, 29 million remained uninsured in 2015; the ACHA would only push that number higher. And today, even many Americans with coverage face bankrupting medical bills for copayments, deductibles and uncovered services. By lowering the standards of private insurance plans and ending cost sharing subsidies, the ACHA would only intensify the problem of “underinsurance.”

The ACHA would replace the ACA with a worse, more regressive version of the original bill. This is not what Americans want or need. PNHP instead urges Congress to replace the ACA with a single-payer national health care program. Unlike the ACA or the ACHA, single-payer, Medicare for All reform could effectively control costs while creating a right to high-quality healthcare for everyone in America.


Five Health Care Buzz Phrases

Adapted from Julie Chinitz

When you are at an event or meeting with your member of Congress, protect yourself against the misinformation with this decoder for Republican policy buzz phrases.

1. “Block grant for Medicaid”
What it is: Waiting lists and stripped-down coverage. 
Right now anyone who is eligible for Medicaid anywhere in the country can enroll and get care. Turning that program into a fixed block grant that states are left to manage ends that guarantee. There will be cuts of $1 trillion to a program covering almost one quarter of the country. The result: anything from waiting lists to stripped-down coverage. Less care for everyone from children to nursing home residents. 

2. “Health savings accounts”
What it is: High deductibles for us; tax shelters for the rich. 
This favorite conservative trope — that struggling families should somehow squirrel away enough money to deal with health care expenses — really means a tax shelter for the rich and a rip-off for everyone else. These accounts are tied to high-deductible insurance plans with minimum deductibles of $2,600 for family coverage. Deductibles could be as high as $10,000 or even $20,000. They are a big source of profit for insurance corporations. Even people enrolled in them don’t recommend them.

 3. “High-risk pools”
What it is: Premiums above $1,000 a month. 
High-risk pools are segregated insurance for people with preexisting conditions. They’ve been tried in 35 states and have failed. Premiums in these pools run upwards of $1,000 a month. There’s been a history of premiums hitting $20,000 a year or more, and deductibles have been as high as to $25,000. And imagine needing medical treatments costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, while stuck with a high-risk policy with a lifetime cap as low as $75,000.

 4. “Per-capita caps for Medicaid”
What it is: Arbitrary limits on your health care. 
This is the sibling of the Medicaid block grant. What it means is politicians impose an arbitrary limit on your health care. It means no more guarantee that Medicaid will pay for as much covered care as you need. It could mean high deductibles, high premiums, elimination of benefits like prescription drugs or maternity care, and more.

 5. “Medicare privatization” or “premium support”
What it is: Throwing seniors to insurance corporations. 
A key goal of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, the man picked by Donald Trump to oversee health policy, this would turn the popular Medicare program over to insurance corporations. Instead of guaranteed coverage, you will get a voucher you would use to shop for private insurance. There is no guarantee the voucher would be enough for the same level coverage — or any coverage at all. The bottom line: worse coverage at a higher price. And this from the same people who want to reduce regulations on insurance companies as seniors are being placed at their mercy.

Slippery Language and Broken Promises
As a candidate, President Donald Trump insisted he’d allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. But he recently turned his back on that promise after meeting with drug corporation lobbyists. His new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, is a drug corporation insider, so the backtracking is no surprise.


Now is The Time Film Tour Proposes a Timely Replacement for Obamacare

From the Lund Report,

When former Oregon-resident filmmakers Laurie Simons and Terry Sterrenberg began shooting Now is the Time- Healthcare for Everybody, they had no idea the U.S. healthcare system was about to be thrown into disarray by the new administration’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, potentially causing millions of Americans to lose their healthcare access. But the threat of impending major changes to the healthcare system makes their film even more timely.

Now is the time.png

Playing in a premiere Oregon tour February 18-23, Now is the Time- Healthcare for Everybody captures the drama of the growing nationwide movement to achieve the type of universal, publicly funded healthcare enjoyed by all the other advanced industrialized nations in the world. The film features interviews of national figures in the movement including Representative John Conyers of Michigan, author of HR 676, the Improved Medicare for All Act; Margaret Flowers, a physician activist who was arrested lobbying for universal health care at the Obamacare hearings; Deb Richter, a leader in Vermont’s effort to pass single-payer legislation; and Gerald Friedman, University of Massachusetts Amherst economist and author of state and national studies on financing universal health care. It explores the spectrum and recent history of the movement to provide health care for everyone.

But for Laurie and Terry, the film is also a personal journey. Facing the expense, complexity and frustrations of the U.S. healthcare system after having lived in Canada under its universal and comprehensive system (Laurie is Canadian, Terry from the US), they share details of Laurie’s bout with cancer treatment and Terry’s encounter with high emergency room expenses. The film is much more personal than their first filmThe Healthcare Movie, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland, which explored the 100-year history of advocacy for national healthcare in America. It also includes updates on many of the more than 25 state campaigns for single payer, including Oregon’s.

The goal for Mid-Valley Health Care Advocates is to establish a publicly funded, sustainable health care system for all people in Oregon and in the U.S.  An affiliate member of Health Care for All - Oregon, MVHCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Based in Corvallis, MVHCA currently represents more than 2000 advocates in the mid-valley.

Feb 8 2017

Care for the Vulnerable vs. Cash for the Powerful -- Trump's Pick for HHS

From the New England Journal of Medicine Sherry A. Glied, Ph.D., and Richard G. Frank, Ph.D.
Representative Tom Price of Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon, will be President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services (HHS). In the 63-year history of the HHS Department and its predecessor, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, only two previous secretaries have been physicians.

Tom Price represents a different tradition. Ostensibly, he emphasizes the importance of making our health care system “more responsive and affordable to meet the needs of America’s patients and those who care for them.”4 But as compared with his predecessors’ actions, Price’s record demonstrates less concern for the sick, the poor, and the health of the public and much greater concern for the economic well-being of their physician caregivers.

Price has sponsored legislation that supports making armor-piercing bullets more accessible and opposing regulations on cigars, and he has voted against regulating tobacco as a drug. His voting record shows long-standing opposition to policies aimed at improving access to care for the most vulnerable Americans.


PNHP's Don McCanne Comments on the RAND Study of How to Cover All Oregonians

By Don McCanne, M.D.

This study can be very helpful to those who are considering comprehensive health care reform on a state level. RAND has shown that a single payer system would cover everyone without increasing total health care spending; private health insurance for the nonelderly plus Medicare for seniors and the disabled would cover everyone but would increase total spending; and providing a state-run health plan (public option) would have only a negligible impact on coverage and spending.
Full article here.

Corvallis Inaugurate Social Justice March

On January 20, MVHCA joined many other groups from Oregon State University and Corvallis to demonstrate for social justice. As many as 1,000 people (many of them OSU students) marched from campus to the riverfront park. The highlight for MVHCA was at the end of the march when the entire crowd chanted "Everybody In, Nobody Out!" over and over.

Thank you Dick Behan for being our photographer at the march.