The New Republic:
Republicans made a lot of arguments against the Affordable Care Act. But perhaps none were as effective, or as seemingly plausible, as their contention that their new law would cripple Medicare Advantage.
New evidence suggests -- surprise! -- that the argument was wrong.
Medicare Advantage is the program that gives seniors the option of enrolling in private insurance rather than the traditional, government-run program. The government pays the insurers a flat fee, per enrollee; in return, the insurers provide coverage, sometimes including benefits that traditional Medicare does not. Overall, about one in four seniors belongs to such plans.
The policy rationale for Medicare Advantage is two-fold: To give seniors more options and to introduce some private-sector competition. The idea is that private insurers might be able to be more innovative or offer certain combinations of services that some seniors would prefer. But, for much of its history, the program (formerly known as Medicare-plus-choice) was also a form of corporate welfare.
Non-partisan studies, by the likes of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, suggested that the government was paying the insurers too much.
The architects of the Affordable Care Act decided, quite sensibly, to reduce those extra subsidies and use the money to offset part of the law’s cost. That’s when the Republicans, and their allies, pounced. Taking money away from the insurers, they claimed, would force insurers to charge more, limit their offerings, or pull out of the market altogether.
It was a reasonable proposition; that’s more or less what happened back in the late 1990s, the first time government reduced the overpayments. (I argued, and still believe, such a trade-off would be worthwhile.) But new information, just released from the administration, suggests those predictions haven’t come true.
On the contrary, the Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that premiums for the plans are down and enrollment is up, well above the official projections. As the Kaiser Family Foundation has reported, this is actually the second year in a row premiums have declined. (According to HHS, premiums in 2012 will be 11.5 percent below what they were in 2010.) Meanwhile, all Medicare beneficiaries can now get preventative care without co-payments. And their exposure to prescription drug bills have declined, because the new health law is closing the infamous “donut hole” in coverage.
So, in short, Medicare Advantage plans are becoming cheaper, slightly more people are enrolling in them, and everybody on Medicare -- even seniors in the traditional government-run program -- has better coverage than they did before.
And don't forget that the many of the most important, and positive changes, have not even taken place yet.
For instance check out what is in store in 2014:
NEW CONSUMER PROTECTIONS
Prohibiting Discrimination Due to Pre-Existing Conditions or Gender. The law implements strong reforms that prohibit insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage or renew policies because of an individual’s pre-existing conditions. Also, in the individual and small group market, the law eliminates the ability of insurance companies to charge higher rates due to gender or health status. Effective January 1, 2014. Learn more about protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Eliminating Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage. The law prohibits new plans and existing group plans from imposing annual dollar limits on the amount of coverage an individual may receive. Effective January 1, 2014. Learn how the law will phase out annual limits by 2014.
Ensuring Coverage for Individuals Participating in Clinical Trials. Insurers will be prohibited from dropping or limiting coverage because an individual chooses to participate in a clinical trial. Applies to all clinical trials that treat cancer or other life-threatening diseases. Effective January 1, 2014.
You keep this in mind at all times. The Republicans do not attack "Obamacare" because it will NOT work. They attack it because they are terrified that it WILL work.
If you always remember that it will give you the tools you will need to out argue any neo-con piece of garbage that tries to convince you that your President is not working to BETTER the lives of Americans.
And if you are unconvinced of that yourself then perhaps you need to read about this Des Moines couple's experience.
Before I close this post let me leave with a portion lifted from the last eye opening paragraph from the article cited above:
But by the time the next president is sworn in, enough people will have experienced the protections and benefits it offers that no elected official would risk his or her standing by rescinding it.