Obama-care Off to a Slow Start
Both the Deseret News (here) and the Salt Lake Tribune (here) carried the Associated Press story about the slow start for the featured Obama-care program of starting a risk pool for people with pre-existing conditions. Here are some excerpts:
It’s a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable.
But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own “high-risk pools” have pointed out potential problems.
California, which has money for about 20,000 people, has received fewer than 450 applications, according to a state official. The program in Texas had enrolled about 200 by early September, an official in that state said. In Wisconsin, Goldman said they’ve received fewer than 300 applications so far, with room for about 8,000 people in the program.
That’s not how it was supposed to work. Government economists projected as recently as April that 375,000 people would gain coverage this year, and they questioned whether $5 billion allocated to the program would be enough.
Federal officials won’t provide enrollment figures, saying several large states have yet to get going.
What happens with the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is important because it could foreshadow problems with major changes under the law that are still a few years away.
Expectations for Obama-care in Utah are very low, anyway. Take, for instance, the recent editorial about the 6 month old legislation published in the Provo Daily Herald (find it here) under the title "Obamacare Horror Begins". Makes it sound like a Halloween disaster. All hyperbole aside, however, the Affordable Care Act, as the friends of the legislation are inclined to call it, may help a few selected individuals and businesses temporarily, but it can not solve the nation's real health policy problems. Every year we waste $1 trillion through health system inefficiency and poor quality. That waste also has an opportunity cost which directly threatens our national economy. Our public budgets are threatened by this massive siphoning of state and federal funds. Health system waste makes it increasingly difficult to educate our children. American businesses which pay for health benefits can not invest what is needed into improving products. Pres. Obama did not create our health system problems, but the legislation he signed does not solve any of them either. Ultimately, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will not protect any patients or be affordable because it is not really about patient care at all. It is a massive bail-out for the health insurance industry.
We must move on to real reform
Dr. Joe Jarvis