Thursday, October 27, 2016

Obamacare: Progress Worth Fighting For

You might have heard on the news recently that Obamacare “isn’t working”.

Put simply: that’s not true.

For the first time, more than 90% of Americans have healthcare.
For the first time, 20 million who didn’t have insurance before now have it.
For the first time, those with preexisting conditions can shop for affordable insurance.

And although premiums in 2017 are scheduled to increase, this is a normal – however unfortunate and inconvenient – part of market dynamics. It is also important to note that what premiums are doing is different from what people are actually paying.

While premiums might be going up in the short term, so are the tax credits available to consumers. In fact, thanks to these tax credits, nearly 80% of those who either sign up for the first time in the marketplace or change plans in the marketplace will only end up paying between $50-100 a month for insurance.

For those who get coverage through their employers (like most Americans), they will now be getting better quality of care, as insurance companies can no longer deny coverage, must include maternity care and preventative care at no additional costs, cannot place lifetime caps on your coverage, and must spend 80% of your premiums on actual care. That’s more bang for their buck.

Plus, in the long-term, once the market balances out and healthier people get enrolled – economies of scale will kick in. Costs will lower for everyone because people will get healthier, make less ER visits (that taxpayers pay for), and have more free-market competition between insurance companies.

Market dynamics take time. That is exactly why we cannot talk about “repealing Obamacare”. Instead, we need to talk about “improving Obamacare” by:

1. Ensuring that healthier, younger people get enrolled in the Marketplace to balance the risk pool.
  • If you have not already, I would recommend that, at the least, you take a look at It's very consumer-centered and user-friendly. You can shop around multiple issuers and multiple plans to see if there's a viable option for you. Most people can also find up to 30 different plans and use tax credits to reduce any potential financial burdens. Open Enrollment goes from Nov.1-Jan.31.
2. Ensuring that we expand Medicaid to ensure premiums decrease for consumers.
  • Specifically, there are 19 Republican Governors that have refused to expand Medicaid in their states, thus denying affordable healthcare to an estimated 4 million Americans. This is partisanship we cannot afford, as marketplace premiums in those states are about 7% higher than in states that have expanded Medicaid.
3. Making Medicare more sustainable.  
  • Medicare spending comes at a great cost to taxpayers. So shouldn’t we make sure that our taxpaying dollars are being spent wisely? Shouldn’t we ensure that we are not paying twice to fix the same medical conditions?
  • That means making sure that each dollar is spent on improving quality of care, not quantity.
  • If you have ever visited the hospital for a medical procedure, you will notice that – often times – there can be significant overlap in services. You might have to see several different clinicians, who might order duplicate x-rays or blood tests. This drives up healthcare costs, results in fragmented care, and creates minimal coordination between clinicians. Obamacare begins to fix this problem.
  • Also thanks to Obamacare, less of our taxpaying dollars will go to those hospitals that have a high remittance rate (i.e. patients who return within 30 days of discharge for the same condition). This free-market approach ensures that clinicians get paid for what they provide and reach certain health requirements to get reimbursed. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this will save taxpayers $7 billion over 10 years. It will also lead to greater collaboration among healthcare professionals, thus better quality of healthcare.

Obamacare might not be a perfect law, but it is a significant improvement from the system we had before.

That is progress worth fighting for.
That is progress worth voting for.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Letter to the RNC

To: The RNC and all those who suddenly now support Mr. Trump
From: A Concerned Citizen

This past week, I got the sense that you’re a little frustrated. Things definitely do not seem to be going your way. But why is there a notion that America is not already “Great Again”?

Why do you feel that liberal talk of "love is love", or "decreased unemployment rates", or "decreased uninsured rates", or "reduced deficits", or "reduced veteran homelessness", or "diplomacy before war" would be this country's downfall?

Why do you hate the Department of Health and Human Services until you get sick; hate Department of Labor until you lose your job; hate Department of Housing and Urban Development until you lose your home; hate Department of Justice until you feel discriminated against; hate Department of Transportation until you hit a pothole; hate Department of Commerce until you're denied a loan; hate Department of Agriculture until you get food poisoning; and hate Department of Homeland Security until you feel threatened?

Why do you want smaller government until you’re asking for stimulus money in your state; asking for relief after a natural disaster; or asking to ban gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose?

Why do you focus so much on using the words “Islamic Extremists”, instead of focusing on how to defeat them? (By the way, in case you’re wondering – the best way to defeat "Islamic Extremists" is to do the thing they hate most about us - LOVE all those who are different. Part of that is understanding that an "Islamic Extremist" is to Islam what the KKK is to Christianity. Bad people do not define any religion, and we should not support leaders who do.)

Why do you think that appreciating the unique struggles of people of color (i.e. "Black Lives Matter") somehow insults or diminishes the value and unique privilege of non-minorities? Of course "All Lives Matter". But so do the lives of unarmed and peaceful black citizens, Syrian refugees, children of undocumented immigrants (i.e. “Dreamers”), women who earn less than their male counterparts for doing the same work, and the LGBTQ couple that wants to make their love official.

Democrats have a significant advantage this fall – they have a great record to run on and an even better candidate to carry that record forward.

Maybe you should revisit the “Growth and Opportunity Project” you started after Governor Romney lost the 2012 election. You remember? The one that stressed the importance of inclusion to Americans who might not have been on board with all your party’s policies.


Friday, February 26, 2016

My Open Letter to the GOP

Dear GOP –
Hello, it’s me. From the other side.
While you may be shocked at the rise of Donald Trump, I advise you to take a deeper look at the other leaders within your party.
Donald Trump is not a “GOP extremist”. Instead, he is only representing what a majority of the people in your party are advocating for, and what other Republican Presidential Candidates have alluded to. After all, there is a reason why Trump has been leading almost every GOP poll and your most recently contested primaries.
The issue is not simply an “anti-establishment” sentiment, but more-so a feeling among your base and party leadership that traditional values are at jeopardy.
That is why, for years, many in your party have criticized the current President for being divisive, partisan, and unconstitutional. They argue he has forsaken traditional American values, and forced our nation to abandon conservative values.  
But what is conservative about doubting the loyalty and citizenship of the President of the United States? What is conservative about discriminating against Muslims or the LGBT community? What is conservative about claiming that we should only allow “Christian immigrants” to migrate to this country? What is conservative about denying climate change? What is conservative about boldly and proudly advocating for “less compromise” with another political party? What is conservative about denying a President his constitutional authority to nominate a Supreme Court justice?
Donald Trump is not the only leader you should be concerned about. He is only reflecting what a majority in your party are claiming and advocating for. He just does it with more swag.
Yours truly,
An American Citizen