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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why Do Blue Dogs Want You and I to Pay Three Times More Than They Do for Health Care?

The Blue Dog negotiating list for health reform has been floating around for days now. Here's the list:
--Effectively bend the cost curve
-- Realign incentives to reward high quality, efficient health care; include value-based purchasing, value index, innovation center for Medicare and Medicaid, and other delivery system reforms
--Increase small business exemption and adjust for inflation
--Address end-of-life care
--Adjust the value and cost of subsidy levels
-- Provide affordability credits on a sliding scale from 100-300 percent FPL
-- Public option must negotiate rates with providers, provide greater clarity on opt out, compete on a level playing field, and be available as a fallback
--Establish consumer-driven, state-based co-ops
--Create state-based exchanges with a federal fallback
--Maintain current state-federal partnership with Medicaid, while implementing reforms that increase its value and effectiveness
I've emphasized the two in the middle, because those are the two we hear are highest on the Blue Dog list right now. They are also the ones that cut to the heart of health reform. In short, the Blue Dogs want to keep health care unaffordable for you and your family.
Right now, the House bill protects families up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The Blue Dogs want to cut that back to 300%. That would cut millions of people out and leave them on their own, paying full price for health care.
What's full price?
The average family health care plan costs $12,680 per year, which comes out to $1,056 per month. For someone making 350% FPL, that's 16% of their income going to health care costs. Meanwhile, Blue Dogs -- who get health care paid for by you and me through the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plan -- pay an average of just $357 per month [pdf] for health care, or $4,284 per year. They pay three times less, and they make $174,000 per year.
That's just not fair, and more importantly, Blue Dogs want to weaken the main goal of health care reform -- to make it truly affordable to families.
Instead of asking families to pay huge portions of their income for health care costs, they should agree with leaders in the House and ask those in our society who can most afford it -- those families making over $350,000 per year -- to chip in their fair share by starting to roll back the tax breaks the wealthy got under George Bush.
To do any less would be to deny the crisis going on Blue Dog districts, where health care is unaffordable and uninsurance rates are sky high. It would be a dereliction of duty, it would keep health care out of reach for millions of families, and it would be shockingly unfair. LinkHere
Waxman: Blue Dogs Must Relent On Health Care Reform
Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) says there is "no alternative" but to have healthcare legislation bypass his Energy and Commerce Committee if Blue Dog Democrats don't accept a deal worked out Friday.
Waxman is now playing a game of legislative chicken with the Blue Dogs. He's hoping the inclusion of a study on Medicare reimbursement rates in the healthcare overhaul will be enough to placate the centrist Democrats, who say the government program short-changes hospitals and physicians in their rural districts.
If that’s not, the seven Blue Dogs could join with the committee's Republicans to "eviscerate" healthcare reform, and that’s something Waxman will not tolerate.
"I won't allow them to hand over control of our committee to Republicans," Waxman told reporters.
"I don’t see what other alternative we have, because we're not going to let them empower Republicans on the committee."
The reimbursement rates are important to the healthcare bill, because the government-run "public option" would be based on Medicare. LinkHere


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