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May 05 2010

Second Opinion: States Across the Country Refuse to Run Insurance Pools for Americans with Preexisting Conditions

Administration Says Government Should Act Now, Ask Questions Later About Costs of Program

Americans with pre-existing conditions remain as confused as ever about how the new health care law will impact their lives and their wallets.

USA Today reported recently that “200,000 Americans whose illnesses have kept them from getting regular health insurance will not be allowed to enroll this summer in a new lower cost federal program for people like them because they already buy pricey state plans.”

And the Washington Post recently reported, “eighteen states have said they will not administer a stopgap program to provide insurance coverage to people whose preexisting conditions have left them uninsured, forcing the federal government to do the work.”

States have not been given guidance from Washington on how to run these pools and who will pay the bill if federal funding runs dry.  The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a Health and Human Services (HHS) spokeswoman declined to say whether the U.S. would cover losses if the program ran out of money.  Instead she said:

“I think we need to get the programs up and running before we start speculating.”

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke about this issue on the Senate floor.  Excerpts include:

“So we have 200,000 Americans with preexisting conditions who have been playing by the rules, who have been doing what is right, and what happens? They are not going to have any access to the benefit that the President and the Democrats in this Congress promised would be available to them.

“So this week all 50 states were given the opportunity to tell the administration whether they wanted to run their brand-new, high-risk pool for individuals with preexisting conditions.

“Eighteen states said to Washington, ‘no, thank you.’  Eighteen states have refused to participate. Why? Well, mainly because they don't know if and when the federal money runs out…how it's going to be paid for.

“Well, Americans and governors across our country have serious questions about this new high-risk insurance program, how much will it cost the states, how much will it cost the taxpayers, and why won't all American patients with preexisting conditions have access to the immediate benefits that they were promised?

“Unfortunately, Washington’s lack of answers clearly demonstrates that this administration doesn't have its act together. The administration has not delivered on the President's promise to help all Americans who have preexisting conditions have access to the same affordable health insurance coverage.”




Apr 27 2010


Law Breaks President’s Promises to the American people

A month after the health care bill was signed into law, Americans continue to learn the impacts of this bad legislation.   

On April 22, 2010, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report that confirms that the law will increase health care costs, raise federal spending, threaten access to care for our seniors and result in higher premiums for Americans. 

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke about this report on the Senate floor.  Excerpts include:

“And in a rush by this body to pass a bill that to me was irresponsible, they've missed the things that now the Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services has outlined in a very thorough report to the American people.

“Fundamentally, this says that health care costs are going to be higher, access to care is going to go down, the spending is unsustainable.  It's fascinating because this is in light of a speech by President Obama in June of 2009 when he said ‘if any bill, any bill arrives from Congress to his desk that is not controlling costs, that is not a bill that I can support.’

“Between 2010 and 2019, the national spending on health care is going to go up by $311 billion (page 4 of report). The President said he wanted a bill that was actually going to get the cost of care down and the spending on health care down.

“The President said that he wants to make sure that if you have care that you like, you can keep it. You can keep the care that you like. We all heard that. We heard it time and time again. But yet page 7 of this report by the President's agency says, about 14 million people will lose their employer coverage by 2019.

“Let's turn to page 8. An estimated 23 million people will remain uninsured by 2019. This is at a time when the President said he wanted to provide coverage for all of these people, but even 10 years out, 23 million people will still remain uninsured.

“What does it say about Medicare? They talk about the cuts to providers, to the people that take care of the patients on Medicare. They're expecting many providers, medical professionals it says to ‘end their participation in the program.’  This is going to jeopardize access to patient care.

“The President last year said he expects to lower the health care premiums for the average family in this country by $2,500.  What this says on page 17 of the report from the Actuary is that the new laws, fees and excise taxes, higher drug prices, device prices, this is all going to result in higher insurance premiums for American families.  The exact opposite of what the President promised.

“There are things that will work to get down the cost of care. There are things that will work to provide additional treatment for more people in America, more patients, better care. But they're not in this health care bill that passed the House, passed the Senate, signed into law by the President.”






With Obamacare, will Americans have to wait eighteen weeks for an operation?

In the aftermath of the new health care law, many Americans are wondering how the law will impact their coverage and their ability to receive high quality health care.

On April 16, 2010, Tom Shales of the Washington Post reported on the recent Prime Minister debate in the United Kingdom.  He specifically highlighted Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s campaign pledge regarding the quality of care received by British residents through their country’s government-run National Health Service:

“Questions about the National Health Service contained details that could well give the jitters to Americans already worried about recently approved health-care reform. Brown vowed that henceforth, all necessary operations would be performed within 18 weeks of diagnosis, which didn't sound very speedy and made one wonder how long the wait is now.”



Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke about this issue on the Senate floor.  Excerpts include:

“So here you are, you've had your opportunity to see a cancer doctor, you've had your test, you have your diagnosis, and what is the best that the people of England are being promised by their Prime Minister? The best that they can expect is to have an operation within 18 weeks.

“The question here is, how many Americans, how many members in this body, how many people across this country are going to see that as satisfactory?

“Because that's where we're heading with this health care bill that's now signed into law. How many people want that? 

“This story once again demonstrates that coverage does not equal care, because everyone in Britain has coverage. But they sure can't get care. Then you ask yourself: does it really matter? Does 4 1/2 months, 18 weeks of waiting for your cancer surgery really matter?

“American cancer patients have a higher survival rate for every major form of cancer than patients in Canada and in Britain. American women have a 35% better chance of surviving colon cancer than British women. American men have an 80% better survival rate for prostate cancer. American survival rates are also better than France. And you can go on and on with this, Mr. President, but it is imminently clear, imminently clear, that the timing on when one gets their care is critical.”