United States. Mandatory Health Care leaves 31 million people without medical treatment
By Les Blough. Axis of Logic
WSWS. Axis of Logic
Saturday, Oct 5, 2013
The concept and enactment of "Mandatory Health Care (MHC)," the centerpiece of "Obama Care" or the "Affordable Care Act (ACA)" was first executed in Massachusetts in 2006 by Mitt Romney who was governor at the time. It was a windfall for the health insurance corporations, hospital adminstrations and medical doctors.
The MHC concept was patterned after mandatory car insurance and was sold with similar cynicism to the public. Those with health insurance were told that they were being robbed - that those without health care should not be allowed to receive free treatment in hospitals and other public institutions, funded by their tax dollars. The car insurance lobby got mandatory car insurance passed - playing on the fear of having a car accident with an uninsured motorist. It forced everyone, regardless of their income to purchase car insurance, relieved the insurer of having to pay for the accident unless they received premiums from everyone involved and guaranteed more revenue and profits for $billion(s) dollar car insurance companies like Liberty Mutual.
Before MHC came to Massachusetts medical services were provided to the poor who had no health insurance, free of charge. For example, Boston City Hospital had been a public institution that was required to provide full health care for the 500,000 poor who were uninsured. But in 1996 Boston City Hospital was sold to Boston University, a private university, as a precursor to Romney's MHC and all residents of Massachussets are now legally required to pay for their own medical insurance and many people simply cannot afford it.
In 2007, the state government began penalizing people who filed personal income tax (required by law of course) but could not afford to enroll in the MHC program. The penalty took their $219 personal income tax exemption; in other words, they were forced to pay for it through the tax system. In 1998 the penalty, through the state income tax system was raised to 50% of the lowest monthly insurance premium available. As a result, many people are forced to pay for health insurance before paying rent and buying food, clothing, heating oil, electricity and other daily needs for their families.
According to the Kaiser Foundation, in 2010 Massachusetts had the highest health insurance in the US with individual policies costing over $400 per person per month.
For those who are still employed across the United States today, with the employer picking up part of the cost of health insurance, about $380 a month is taken out of their paychecks. The Kaiser Foundation reports:
|"Annual premiums for
employer-sponsored family health coverage
reached $16,351 this year, up 4 percent from last year, with workers on
average paying $4,565 toward the cost of their coverage" - October 1,
Mitt Romney's Mandatory Health Care system became a model for "Obamacare," the much touted "Affordable" Care Act - for the entire nation, leaving 31 million people in the United States without medical treatment. What do people do without the health care once provided by public institutions like Boston City Hospital? They go without it and the resulting suffering and death is immeasurable.
According to Forbes, in 2013 (so far) the value of the health insurance index has gained 43%. CIGNA shares are up 63%, Wellpoint 47% and United Health Care corporation up 28%. Obamacare has allowed public companies to raise their premiums, multiply their profits and increase the value of their common stocks by 200%-300%.
Insurance giant CIGNA sells health and life insurance. Reuters reports that their revenue rose from $7.42 billion to $7.98 billion and their net profits rose to $505 million from $380 million a year earlier. They took in $5.69 billion in premiums and fees in their global health care division and they plan to drop about 3 percent of it's 440,000 members because of the government's cuts to Medicare Advantage funding in 2014. CIGNA is also planning to sell insurance on the stock exchanges in five states - a move which is part of U.S. President Barack Obama's "Affordable" Care Act (ACA).
If the Federal Reserve, a private corporation, can print US dollars as they want to bail out Wall Street, the private investment banks and failing capitalist corporations, they can print dollars to pay for quality health care for all people living in the United States. Health care like clean air and water, decent housing,
food and quality education is a Human Right - not a thing to be bought
and sold for corporate profits.
A true national health care system has been systematically blocked in the United States using another fear bandied by the insurance lobbies and corporate media - the trumped up fear of socialism.
In Venezuela's New Socialism of the 21st Century, the people's own natural resources, most prominently PDVSA, the national petroleum industry pay for health care and other human rights for all people whether citizens of the country or not. The only reason the government of the richest country in the world is not taking care of its own people is because of corruption, corporate graft and robbing of the US National Treasury.
The people of the United States must finally rise up and rebel against this economic fascism by taking to the streets. March on Washington and shut the city and government down for a week, just to get their attention if nothing more. Better to do it now and face police batons than to wait until it's too late and die a slow death with the corporations sucking off everything we hold dear. The power is in the hands of the people and in their numbers.
In the following article Kate Randall explains more about the 31 million people left without health care - left out of Obamacare in the US.
5 October 2013
Obamacare to leave 31 million uninsured
by Kate Randall
The insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) opened for business this week. Many people attempting to log in were unable to do so or faced long waits. This was especially true for the exchange operated by the federal government at HealthCare.gov, the web site providing service for people living in states that have not established their own exchanges.
Technical glitches aside, a glaring reality about Obamacare is coming more clearly into focus with the opening of the exchanges. The health care “reform” that was touted five years ago by presidential candidate Barack Obama as one that would extend quality, affordable health coverage to nearly all of the uninsured will leave a staggering 31 million people without coverage by 2023.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the 31 million uninsured people will include those left out because their resident states are not expanding Medicaid, those excluded because they are undocumented immigrants, those who cannot receive ACA subsidies due to a “family glitch” related to employer coverage, and those who choose not to purchase coverage because they cannot afford it.
A large proportion of those projected to remain insured are very poor people living in states that are not expanding Medicaid to cover them. The US Supreme Court ruled the ACA constitutional in June 2012, but also ruled that states could not be mandated to comply with a provision of the law that would extend Medicaid to those currently not covered in many states.
The ACA provides subsidies to purchase insurance for individuals and families whose incomes are between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level on a sliding scale. It was assumed that those below this level would be covered by Medicaid. But without the Medicaid expansion in many states, some of the poorest people will be left out in the cold.
In Virginia, a state that has chosen not to expand its Medicaid program, a single, childless man making below the official poverty level—an abysmal $11,490 for an individual in 2013—will not qualify for Medicaid because Virginia offers the program only to single, childless men if they are disabled.
A recent New York Times analysis of US Census data found that two-thirds of single mothers and poor African Americans and half of the low-wage workers who are currently uninsured will be left without coverage due to the effect of this Medicaid no-man’s land. About two-thirds of the nation’s poor uninsured African Americans and single mothers, and about 60 percent of the uninsured working poor, live in the 26 states that are not planning to expand Medicaid.
The 26 states not expanding Medicaid—mainly located in the Deep South and Mountain West, and predominantly Republican ruled—are citing the funding mechanism under the ACA to justify their decision not to expand the program for the poor. The ACA stipulates that the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs for the first three years, drop to 95 percent in 2017, and remain at 90 percent after 2020. The state governments argue that they cannot afford any percentage of the expansion costs.
Obamacare supporters and opponents are trading barbs over who is responsible for leaving this very poor section of the population uninsured. The reality is that the health care overhaul as a whole is skewed toward creating an even more heavily class-based health care system than that which presently exists—one in which working families and the poor will receive inadequate care or none at all, while private insurance companies reap bigger profits than ever before.
After five years of political wrangling and lobbying by the health care industry, any nominally progressive features of the legislation have long since been stripped away, leaving behind a contorted patchwork of regulations. Individuals and families will be forced to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, while employers will face only nominal penalties for not providing coverage or be let off the hook entirely.
The people who will remain uninsured due to the Medicaid loophole are the victims of legislation that from its inception was geared toward slashing costs for the government and boosting corporate profits. Congressional Republicans now cynically posturing in the government shutdown as champions of the rights of ordinary Americans have no disagreement with the health care law’s overall big-business bent.
Another segment of the population left out by Obamacare consists of the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents, who are explicitly ineligible. Lawfully permitted residents who have lived in the country for less than five years are also excluded. So-called DREAMers—young undocumented people who, beginning in 2012, were allowed to remain in the US for a minimum of two years while working toward citizenship—are also ineligible, with certain exceptions for victims of abuse or human trafficking.
The undocumented parents of children who are US citizens face another dilemma. If they enroll their children for coverage through the Obama exchanges, they risk revealing their undocumented status and possible deportation. Conversely, since all members of a family purchasing insurance on the exchanges must have a Social Security number, a legally documented parent cannot purchase insurance for his or her undocumented child.
Still another major category of people falling through the Obamacare cracks are the victims of the “family glitch.” Under the law, companies with 50 or more workers must provide adequate plans (covering at least 60 percent of health care costs) that are affordable (costing no more than 9.5 percent of an employee’s taxable income). But in a sop to big business, companies are judged only on the basis of the coverage they offer to their individual employee, not his or her family. Thus, family members are ineligible for subsidies to purchase coverage on the exchanges if the company provides “adequate” and “affordable” coverage to the individual employee.
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