NB Politicus

SCOTUS Upholds ACA And Ted Kennedy’s Goal

Posted in Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on June 28, 2012

Today’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision validating the Affordable Care Act (ACA) staved off a right-wing rear guard action to upend the law. John Roberts, making the right decision for the wrong reason, essentially saved the Supreme Court’s credibility for preserving constitutional law and common sense.
At its best the law is a modest reform that is a far cry from the less costly and more equitable single-payer options (Medicare for All) that would more efficiently insure the uninsured. 
The ACA springs from Republican reform proposals despite what Mitt Romney says now. 

As of now the law stands to save more lives of individuals who might otherwise not have coverage for that pre-existing condition or be denied coverage in a system where health care is a privilege, not a right.

When I heard a woman caller on NPR after the decision explaining her ongoing cancerous eye problem, the human impact of this ruling was clear. She broke down in tears of relief knowing she’d be covered now. 

The ACA is a work in progress and a step in the right direction, affirming the late Ted Kennedy’s hopes expressed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.
And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

10 Ways A Supreme Court Decision Against The Affordable Health Care Act Will Hurt

Posted in health insurance by nbpoliticus on June 25, 2012

If the Supreme Court strikes down all or a part of the Affordable Care Act here’s what will be lost:

1) Access to health insurance for 30 million Americans and lower premiums. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will find coverage under the law. Middle-class families who buy health care coverage through the exchanges will be eligible for refundable and advanceable premium credits and cost-sharing subsidies to ensure that the coverage they have is affordable.
2) The ability of businesses and individuals to purchase comprehensive coverage from a regulated marketplace. The law creates new marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to compare and purchase comprehensive coverage. Insurers will have to meet quality measures to ensure that Americans can access comprehensive coverage when they need it.
3) Insurers’ inability to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Beginning in 2014, insurers can no longer deny insurance to families or individuals with pre-existing conditions. Insurers are also prohibited from placing lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage and rescinding insurers except in cases of fraud. Insurers are already prohibited from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions.
4) Tax credits for small businesses that offer insurance. Small employers that purchase health insurance for employees are already receiving tax credits to encourage them to continue providing coverage.
5) Assistance for businesses that provide health benefits to early retirees.The law created a temporary reinsurance program for employers providing health insurance coverage to retirees over age 55 who are not eligible for Medicare, reimbursing employers or insurers for 80% of retiree claims. The program has offered at least $4.73 billion in reinsurance paymentsto more than 2,800 employers and other sponsors of retiree plans, with an average cumulative reimbursement per plan sponsor of approximately $189,700.
6) Affordable health care for lower-income Americans. Obamacare extends Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty line, guaranteeing that the nation’ most vulnerable population has access to affordable, comprehensive coverage.
7) Investments in women’s health. Obamacare prohibits insurers from charging women substantially more than men and requires insurers to offer preventive services — including contraception — at no additional cost.
8) Young adults’ ability to stay on their parents’ health care plans. More than 3.1 millionyoung people have already benefited from dependent coverage, which allows children up to age 26 to remain insured on their parents’ plans.
9) Discounts for seniors on brand-name drugs. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to provide a 50% discount on prescriptions filled in the Medicare Part D coverage gap. Seniors have already saved $3.5 billion on prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act provision.
10) Temporary coverage for the sickest Americans. The law established temporary national high-risk pools that are providing health coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who cannot find insurance on the individual market. In 2014, they will be able to enroll in insurance through the exchanges. 67,482 individuals have already benefited from the program.

The Republicans are playing with the fire by shooting down this moderate piece of reform; next up will be single payer or Medicare for All.

Board of Ed Should Consider CT Health Partnership; "Significant" Savings To Support Services Possible

Posted in health insurance, municipal budget, property tax, public education by nbpoliticus on June 11, 2012

When State Comptroller Kevin Lembo talked with city officials last winter he came bearing potential good news that the city could gain hundreds of thousands of dollars for its municipal and schools’ budgets without a new tax or cut to services.

It may sound too good to be true but it is real and obtainable as the city grapples with the threat of cuts and layoffs and the need to adequately fund public education.  There is a way for cash-strapped New Britain government to realize significant dollars it doesn’t have now.

The new money — potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars — wouldn’t be part of  state aid allocations but would come from savings of the CT Partnership Plan,  a new state law that allows cities and boards of education to join the state health plan effective July 1, 2012.  In effect in more than 20 states throughout the country,  the partnership plan, adopted after a three-year legislative effort by House Speaker Chris Donovan, utilizes the power of pooling employee groups to lower insurance premium costs, which have been a rising cost item for City Halls and Boards of Education in recent years.

In rolling out the CT Health Partnership in March,  Lembo said his analysis found that 50 municipalities, including New Britain, would receive lower premium rates under the partnership for health insurance. “Over 50 municipal employers analyzed so far would receive lower premium rates under the CT Partnership Plan — 30 percent of those with rate reductions greater than five percent,” declared Lembo who prior to being elected Comptroller in 2010 was the State Health Advocate.

Opponents of the partnership, including former Mayor Stewart and former Ald. Lou Salvio, have complained that adoption of the health partnership would be a state takeover — a false and ridiculous claim that distorts the issue and continues a status quo of rising health premiums.  The partnership takes over nothing, but restructures good health coverage in a way the reduces the costs.

“Our initial analysis of more than 50 municipal employers revealed significant savings of five to eight percent in some cases — real money for municipalities seeking local property tax relief,” stated Lembo.

The O’Brien Administration and the city’s labor unions are apparently on board with the idea and ready to implement it.  To date the the Board of Education has yet to commit to the idea.

To achieve the savings in the partnership plan both school and municipal labor force need to be part of it. The Board of Education needs to give the idea fair and serious consideration.

LTE from Billy Mac: Don’t Trash Talk New Britain

Posted in Hard Hittin' New Britain by nbpoliticus on June 6, 2012

In a letter to the Hartford Courant, former six-term Mayor William McNamara upbraids a wise-cracking reader who posted a not -so-nice put down of his city:

Shame on The Courant for allowing a comedian from East Hampton to ridicule the city of New Britain. In the Caption Contest of June 3, the cartoon shows two people sitting on a bench, waiting for a bus, wondering “Once we get to New Britain what do we do?”
I am sure all 26 or so elected officials, and the scores of appointed officials from New Britain have already written The Courant, defending the city’s honor and objecting to this low-brow sense of humor. I would, however, suggest the following:
1. Visit the American Museum of American Art (the oldest and perhaps the best museum of American art in the country).
2. Enjoy a Class AA Rock Cats baseball game at New Britain Stadium (you will probably see a future Major Leaguer). As an enticement, I am sure I can arrange to get you a free bag of peanuts.
3. Visit New Britain s Industrial Museum. You will learn that New Britain was known as the Hardware City of the World. In fact, you probably have at least one Stanley tool in your home!
4. Enjoy a concert by the New Britain Symphony Orchestra.
5. Stop by the admission’s office at Central Connecticut State University; perhaps you can make arrangements to get your G.E.D. there.
6. Take in a play presented by the Repertory Theater of New Britain.
Oh yes, a question: The contest winner’s hometown, East Hampton, is known for what?

Way to go Billy Mac