A report on the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act featuring Paul Paez

One of the reasons this foundation started was to fight against health insurance injustices. Part of that was, and is, fighting to keep the Affordable Care Act in place and build to make it even stronger.

While I will not address the various arguments and downright lies against the law, suffice to say, they have no merit and proof of that is the report Health Access dot org put together to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Health Access was founded in 1987, and is the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition advocating for quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

Here is the report: ACA One Year Report 3-23-11

My husband, Paul, is featured in the report to highlight the need for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Pool or high risk pool. Paul has Multiple Sclerosis. Paul was ousted from his job at Fidelity Investments just after he finished chemotherapy.

A year without income left us unable to afford our COBRA payments. Paul is without insurance.

Going without insurance when you are sick is what happens in this country. It kills people and burdens our system. Paul has been without care for five months now, was turned down for coverage by Blue of California and must wait one more month before he can even apply to the new high risk pool.

Yes, there is a bizarre and draconian provision in the new law (thanks to the Senate Finance Committee) that states applicants to the pool must go without insurance for six months prior to applying for coverage. It does not make any sense at all and we have been doing everything we can to call attention to this issue and have asked our lawmakers to simply change this.

Truthout dot org ran a story on this very issue and called on our lawmakers to rid the law of this provision. But our lawmakers are too busy trying to do things like undermine public school teachers and defund NPR to pay attention to real matters–like the economy, health care and jobs. That would be the GOP portion of our lawmakers. When presented with facts like these below, the GOP all put their collective heads in the sand and cry something about taxes. Shameful as real Americans face real problems. Please read the report and know that we still have a long way to go, but this is a start.

During those six months, these individuals could become too sick to work. They may never return to work or pay taxes again, leaving them on the unemployment and disability rolls, or they may go bankrupt or have foreclosed homes: three problems that we know are already bedeviling our economy. These are very real possibilities, because an astounding 62 percent of bankruptcies and 23 percent of foreclosures in this country are due to medical bills.

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Make no mistake about it, GOP’s Rep. Paul Ryan wants to take your money and give you nothing in return.

Part of the efforts of this Foundation include the push for Medicare for Everyone in this country, from cradle to grave. But Rep. Paul Ryan wants to take away the system that seniors have paid for all their working lives, Medicare.

The private, for-profit system of health insurance has gone unchecked in our country for 60 years now and we have nothing but skyrocketing costs and a system that is ranked 37th in the world.

Medicare has kept costs lower than the private system and “…Medicare outperforms private sector plans in terms of patients’ satisfaction with quality of care, access to care, and overall insurance ratings.”

The Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s much demonized by the GOP plan, has been the only thing to come along and attempt to make the private health insurance companies pay when you get sick; not rescind your policy, not tell you that your cancer treatment is too expensive, not deny you a transplant, actually pay your medical bills since they collect your premium dollars.

And we all get sick, some more than others, like waking up one day as my husband did and not being able to feel his legs.

And now along comes GOP congressman, Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. Rep. Ryan has been in Congress since 1998. If you are curious as to his pension and benefits (he does hail from Wisconsin) Ryan became fully vested after a mere five years of service (it’s one of the perks of being a freely elected member of Congress) and Rep. Ryan will leave Congress with a taxpayer funded pension–we do pay his salary as he is a public servant! Rep. Ryan’s net worth can be found at Open Secrets dot org and here is the link.

But I don’t see Rep. Ryan going on about his own pension, just things like Medicare and Social Security, two programs seniors in our country have 1. paid for, 2. need for their own retirement and 3. are programs indicative of a civilized society. Keep reading.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program the morning of Feb. 17, 2011, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., defended Walker’s efforts to force public employees to pay more in pension and health care costs to solve the state’s budget deficit.

“It’s not asking a lot,” said Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and one of the stars of the new GOP House majority. “It’s still about half of what private sector pensions do and health care packages do.”

That’s interesting as Rep. Ryan is in public (not private) service himself and we the people will be paying his pension. Period. We pay our public servants’ salaries, subsidize their wonderful health benefits program and pay their pensions when they retire. It was created under the Reagan presidency and is called the Federal Employees Retirement System.

Lawmakers with less service qualify for full pension benefits starting at age 62. The retirement package includes automatic inflation adjustments and guaranteed access to post-retirement private medical insurance in addition to Medicare protection provided all Americans.

Barely 20 percent of the American workforce has pensions comparable to congressional pensions, according to the independent Employee Benefit Research Institute. Almost no one in the private sector has the kind of cost-of-living escalators that keep Capitol Hill pensions moving upward.

That is in total disagreement with what Rep. Ryan said about private sector pensions and is what he will receive when he retires. I find that hypocritical, at best and completely uninformed of him.

Now let’s look at Rep. Ryan’s campaign donors. From OpenSecrets.org we find that Rep. Ryan’s top contributor was the faux industry called Retired. This is not the AARP, who if you recall, were in favor of The Affordable Care Act. This Retired industry is something entirely different. These are high net worth individuals. His other top donors were insurance companies, money movers like Harris Associates, Big Pharma and of course, Koch Industries.

So what does Rep. Ryan want to do to “balance the budget?” Let’s face it, we have money in this country. We printed it to bail out the banks (Rep. Ryan voted for TARP) and we are in two incredibly expensive wars (Rep. Ryan voted yes to invade Iraq but won’t put military budget cuts on the table but will cut veteran’s benefits), so tell me why would we have to undermine our own well-being?

Because people like Rep. Ryan are beholden to their corporate paymasters. Rep. Ryan’s less than stellar voting record is here. No to health care, no to unemployment benefits extension, no to fund Planned Parenthood (unwanted pregnancies can be avoided with contraception, Paul), no to aid to states for Medicaid and teachers and no to food safety regulations. He’s a regular GOP No to everything kind of guy–except when it comes to attempting to take your money away from you and handing it over to his buddies.

Rep. Ryan wants to take your money and give it to his corporate friends. He wants to privatize Medicare. That’s your money. Medicare works beautifully as it is (although there is always room for improvement) and you pay into it–it’s your money–and he wants to hand it over to who? The private health insurance companies? Those same upstanding corporate citizens who denied 5 year old Kyler Van Nocker his cancer treatment? Kyler never saw his 6th birthday.

And he wants to raise the retirement age (while undermining your health care) and give out vouchers for your Social Security dollars, so you can give them to the reckless fools (his campaign donors) who got us into this financial mess in the first place: Wall Street.

Ryan has been calling for big changes to the social safety net for years. Known as “the roadmap,” his approach calls for individuals to take on more of the financial responsibility for retirement, including the costs of health care. The government would provide a floor of protection for everyone, particularly the poor and those in failing health, but middle-class people who desire more than a basic plan would have to pay extra.

He’s also proposed allowing younger workers to divert part of their Social Security taxes to personal investment accounts, an idea that’s lost currency among other Republicans given President George W. Bush’s failed 2005 Social Security overhaul and the recent swoon in the stock market.

The plan Ryan rolled out last year for Social Security would gradually increase the full retirement age, from 67 to 70. It would also reduce initial benefits for middle- and high-income retirees.

“Give me a cocktail napkin and I can write you a plan on the back of it,” Ryan said. “It’s not that hard.”

Under the roadmap, Medicare would be converted into a voucher system that offers seniors a fixed payment to pick their coverage from a range of private insurance plans overseen by the government. Today’s Medicare recipients and those nearing retirement would remain under the current system, in which the government determines what’s covered and sets payments for providers.

We cannot stand by and allow our money, our tax dollars, to be given to private corporations who pay little or no taxes themselves. This kind of power grab will ultimately make us, as a country, less stable and less healthy. Our social safety nets are ones we pay for and to give away our tax money to companies who have no other interest than their bottom lines (much like the for-profit health insurance industry) will be our undoing. They will give us less and less for each dollar we give them.

It’s a power grab to attempt to take away our government and create a large corporate bureaucracy where We the People will have no say in how our lives, our health and our money are handled.

Here is Rep. Ryan’s contact information. Tell him to stop the power grab. Tell Wisconsin voters we don’t agree.