The Shame in Ryan’s Plan or How the GOP Wants to Stick it to Seniors.

Regarding the Ryan/GOP plan to privatize Medicare, from Talking Points Memo today:

Under the House Republican plan, the government holds fixed the amount of money it’s willing to pay per patient per year, and leaves the residual costs for seniors to sort out with private insurers. Because private insurers are smaller, profit-driven, and less efficient than Medicare, those out-of-pocket costs will be significantly higher than they are now. And they’d grow much, much faster. Over the course of the program’s 75 year planning period, the difference would amount to $34 trillion.

And while they are trying to take away the Medicare you paid for all your working lives, the GOP is still trying to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, where the new health care laws were put into place to stop the health insurance industry from some of its more pernicious acts against sick people.

The GOP wants to get rid of the new health care law with its consumer protections; high risk pool for those with pre-existing conditions, relief for seniors who hit the donut hole, allowing your children to remain on your policy until they are 26 years old, eliminating yearly and lifetime caps on your benefits, to name but a few of its many benefits.

See how your Congressional rep voted on the Ryan Plan here with an interactive map from the New York Times.

Want to know Paul Ryan’s net worth–and all members of Congress as well? Go to Open Secrets and find out. You can search by individual and even download the list of all members of Congress–the ones you pay to represent you. From Open Secrets:

About 1 percent of all Americans are millionaires. In Congress, that number regularly hovers between 40 percent and 50 percent, meaning elected leaders generally need not worry about the economic pressures many Americans face – from securing gainful employment to grappling with keeping a family financially afloat. Decide for yourself if these congressional millionaires are adequately representing your financial interests.

If the deficit really matters, then it’s time for Medicare for Everyone.

From Ezra Klein’s article in the Washington Post today:

Back during the health-care reform fight, the Congressional Budget Office looked at the likely effect of adding a public option that paid Medicare rates. “In total, a public plan based on Medicare rates would save $110 billion over 10 years,” the agency concluded. Importantly, the savings would come because premiums would be lower. The basic mechanism here is not complicated: Just as you get better deals by shopping at a mega-retailer like Wal-Mart, you get better deals by working with a mega-insurer like Medicare. Size matters.

As for Ryan’s plan, CBO’s take was just the opposite. “Under the proposal,” they said, “most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.” That is to say, health-care costs go up.

Your Congressional Representatives who voted to Abolish Medicare aka The Ryan Plan

Erratum: In the original posting below, I stated that under the Ryan plan, seniors would receive $6,000 voucher to help with purchasing insurance. This is incorrect. The correct figure is $8,000 for the year or roughly $666 per month to pay your premiums, co-pays and pharmacy charges.

Link to full map of all Congressional reps who voted on the Ryan plan below. List of California reps who voted to abolish Medicare at bottom of posting.

As this Foundation has noted before, Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan calls for abolishing Medicare to all those under the age of 55 and handing your taxpayer money over to private corporations. What happens to all the money you have been paying into Medicare for the past 30+ years of your working lives? Answer is you get nothing in return.

This Foundation began in part because of the way my husband, who has Progressive-Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis, was treated by his insurance carrier, CIGNA, a private, for-profit corporation with a long and terrible history of denying claims to their sick, premium paying customers–one such denial resulted in the death of 17 year old Nataline Sarkisyan.

Rep. Ryan and all his GOP friends want to hand you a voucher for $6,000 and tell you to go and find a company, like CIGNA, who will insure you at the age of 65, for that amount of money–while at the same time they, the GOP, are trying to undo the Affordable Care Act that will prevent insurance companies from denying your claims. Doesn’t make one bit of sense, does it?

If you have Multiple Sclerosis or any other life-altering disease, you know how far $6,000 will get you. If you have MS, that’s the cost of your disease modifying drugs for just one month!

Call your representative if they voted to abolish Medicare. Tell them forget trying to get re-elected since they don’t seem to be serving the American public but their corporate paymasters instead. Contact information is embedded in each link and the full map of how Congress voted can be found at the New York Times. It’s time this country went to a single payer system. Medicare for Everyone, cradle to grave.

Call and be heard. It’s your money that pays for Medicare and pays for Congressional salaries. Remember, they work for us.

Your California Congressional Representatives who voted to abolish Medicare and hand your money over to private corporations:

1.  Rep. Herger, Walter [R-CA2] voted to abolish Medicare.

2.  Rep. Lungren, Daniel [R-CA3] voted to abolish Medicare.

3.  Rep. McClintock, Tom [R-CA4] voted to abolish Medicare.

4.  Rep. Denham, Jeff [R-CA19] voted to abolish Medicare.

5.  Rep. Nunes, Devin [R-CA21] voted to abolish Medicare.

6.  Rep. McCarthy, Kevin [R-CA22] voted to abolish Medicare.

7.  Rep. Gallegly, Elton [R-CA24] voted to abolish Medicare.

8.  Rep. McKeon, Howard [R-CA25] voted to abolish Medicare.

9.  Rep. Dreier, David [R-CA26] voted to abolish Medicare.

10. Rep. Royce, Edward [R-CA40] voted to abolish Medicare.

11. Rep. Lewis, Jerry [R-CA41] voted to abolish Medicare.

12. Rep. Miller, Gary [R-CA42] voted to abolish Medicare.

13. Rep. Calvert, Ken [R-CA44] voted to abolish Medicare.

14. Rep. Bono Mack, Mary [R-CA45] voted to abolish Medicare.

15. Rep. Rohrabacher, Dana [R-CA46] voted to abolish Medicare.

16. Rep. Campbell, John [R-CA48] voted to abolish Medicare.

17. Rep. Issa, Darrell [R-CA49] voted to abolish Medicare.

18. Rep. Bilbray, Brian [R-CA50] voted to abolish Medicare.

19. Rep. Hunter, Duncan [R-CA52] voted to abolish Medicare.

 

The GOP using states’ rights to repeal health care reform. What about ERISA?

The GOP loves big business more than they care about those constituents who elect them. Even thought the GOP uses states’ rights as a big rallying cry for repealing health care reform, they have been totally against amending the federal law that strips the states of their rights–when it comes to health insurance.

Let me explain.

ERISA laws or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 set standards for pension plans so that when employees retired (and retire even though 401k plans have replaced most pension plans) they can breathe some sigh of relief that their employers did not raid their pension plans leaving them penniless for retirement. That’s one of the things it does, but it does a lot of other things as well. It covers employer-based health insurance plans, 401k plans and some severance plans.

The unintended consequences of having a federal law cover these things, especially health benefits, are that these federal laws pre-empt state laws.

The law limits the abilities of state legislatures to regulate many types of health insurance, it restricts the kinds of remedies that states can authorize (such as a patient’s right to independent appeal of denials or to see specialists) and it can limit the ability of states to experiment with novel ideas for health care solutions.

Two real-life examples of how our state laws and consumer protections are meaningless if we have been abused by our health insurers: The first one is in the Michael Moore movie, Sicko, and features a child named Annette Noe. This is also brought up in Wendell Potter’s book, Deadly Spin. Annette needed cochlear implants in both her ears but CIGNA only paid for one, calling implants in both ears, “too experimental.”

Think Progress featured another child in November of last year, Madison Leuchtmann, who CIGNA also refused to pay for her cochlear implants with the knowledge that this child may remain deaf the rest of her life if she did not receive the implants:

Unfortunately, the Leuchtmann’s family insurer, Cigna, has issued “one denial after another,” flatly refusing to cover the $20,000 bill for the implant. In a written statement to the local news station Fox 2, Cigna explained, “It is not unusual for commercial benefit plans to exclude hearing assisted devices,” prompting Dr. Clary to angrily respond, “This is obviously medically necessary. You have a child that has no ear canals!” Dr. Clary also told Fox 2 that he sees these sort of denials “on a weekly basis.” Watch Fox 2′s report:

Now in Annette Noe’s case, her father used the power of Michael Moore’s movie to get Annette her implants. I have no follow up news for Madison. But more importantly here, could Madison’s parents sue CIGNA to make them pay for her implants? The answer is no. And that’s because of ERISA.

And why is that? Let’s turn to an ERISA expert, an attorney, Richard Johnston and his blog, The Problem is ERISA:

As of now we have a situation where the law tells insurers they face no meaningful consequences if they deny care improperly or even commit outright fraud. As one federal judge has commented, “if an HMO wrongly denies a participant’s claim even in bad faith, the greatest cost it could face is being compelled to cover the procedure, the very cost it would have faced had it acted in good faith. Any rational HMO will recognize that if it acts in good faith, it will pay for far more procedures than if it acts otherwise, and punitive damages, which might otherwise guard against such profiteering, are no obstacle at all.” Insurance companies, of course, are not charities, but corporations; their boards are subject to a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value. If it is possible to accomplish this by mistreating insureds, then it follows insurers will do precisely that (and believe me, they do).

There is no incentive, financially speaking, to pay for benefits and these include treatments, transplants and disability benefits that are all covered under the ERISA umbrella.

Where does that leave the GOP who are so “anti-big government but pro-states’ rights? They side with those who would keep these laws in tact every time: The Health Insurance Industry. Disturbing about both groups is their love of thumbing their noses to the new (unconstitutional, as they say) federal law while remaining steadfast on guarding another federal law that hurts the common good. I guess it’s only unconstitutional when it hurts the corporate common good.

Every time ERISA has come up in Congress for some tweaking, guess what has happened? AHIP hires lobbyists, front groups (like this National Coalition on Benefits, they are a real gem) and this group; they all go into action and We, the People, are left in serfdom at the corrupt feet of the Insurance Lords.