My View: Sins in Obamacare war |

My View: Sins in Obamacare war

Even after the web site was fixed and Pres. Obama apologized for misspeaking, , the GOP's war against Obamacare (ACA) rages on blithely spreading misinformation. While the GOP gleefully called the President a liar for promising those individually insured could keep their insurance if they liked it, the current Republican campaign against Obamacare is full of sins of omission and commission. It is the GOP's turn to apologize. Mitch McConnell, GOP Senate Minority Leader, flat fibbed when he misrepresented a report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He wrongfully claimed it meant that 2.5 million jobs would be lost thanks to Obamacare. Jobs would not disappear, but the CBO estimated that 2.5 million who had jobs would leave of their own choice, but not by employers killing job positions. GOP ads are already promoting their twisted version of the CBO report. Prior to Obamacare some were locked into their jobs because they needed employer provided insurance since that was the only way to get pre-existing conditions covered or to be able to afford coverage for their families. Obamacare frees them to retire early, start their own business, go part time, or stay home to care for their parents or young children. The GOP countered that such choice is bad because it would encourage people to stop working, reduce the workforce, and thus harm the economy. The CBO report indeed predicted there would be workforce reduction by 2024 by 2.5 million. That is about 1.5 percent of the total workforce, not exactly earthshaking and not because Obamacare killed jobs. A recent anti ACA ad omits so much information, it borders on deceptive advertising. Five million individually insured got letters from insurers discontinuing their substandard policies. To continue beating war drums that the President lied about their keeping insurance, an outside conservative group is running a commercial in our market that features a lupus sufferer who complains her $50 per month insurance now is $325, her deductibles are too high, she has to take on a second job, and she has to change doctors. She should be asked some hard questions. Did she apply for a subsidized health policy in the ACA exchanges? Was her annual income too high to qualify for a subsidy? What was her prior deductible with such low ball coverage of her old policy? The health care exchanges include a wide variety of insurance providers. Was her current physician participating in any of them? An estimated 60 percent of those receiving the letters can qualify for premium subsidies in the exchanges, or hardship exemptions, with access to better catastrophic insurance. Some GOP senators are pitching a replacement to Obamacare that buries a critical downside in small print. Their proposal would relieve employers, health care and device providers, individuals, and insurers from mandates and being taxed or getting fines for not providing or getting insurance. Good for them but bad for most everyone else. It would replace the funding to subsidize premiums with raising taxes on the 60 percent of Americans who get insurance through employers. The plan would declare most health insurance benefits taxable income. Forbes estimated that would be a tax increase of $1345 a year for a family of four in the 25 percent bracket, Families making between 300 percent to 400 percent above the poverty line would lose Obamacare insurance subsidies. For more, visit

My View: Shameless, deceptive ads flood Colorado

Indeed, an anti-Sen. Mark Udall ad running in our market says Obamacare (ACA) is "about people," but the" people" referenced in the ad are not about the 7.1 million who signed up for private insurance through federal and state ACA exchange — or in Colorado 277,149 — who signed up as of March 31 for either commercial health insurance or Medicaid's expanded version. This anti-Udall ad shamelessly exaggerates the numbers who could not sign up after their insurance policies were cancelled. Shamelss, too, is the message of the ads: "repeal Obamacare," which means that coverage would be taken away from those people for whom it worked to get covered, especially nasty for those who never had health insurance before. The ads running in Colorado, tying Udall to Obamacare (ACA), attempt to bring attention to the fewer who drew the short stick instead of the more who benefitted. One sponsored by the Koch Brothers was truly misleading. That one featured an angry woman who lost her individual insurance and was suffering, though alternatives were never suggested or tried, and fact-checkers blew holes in that ad. The "about people ad" was about those who got cancellation notices. It a good example of hyping the ACA shortcomings, claiming "millions and millions" lost their insurance and could not get a replacement. Per a recent survey by the Rand Corporation, fewer than a million people who had health plans cancellations in 2013 are now uninsured. "We are talking about a very small fraction of the country" who lost coverage, said Katherine Carman, a Rand economist who oversaw the survey. While certainly a negative for those in that predicament, they are not the "millions and millions" the ad claims. Most deceptive in that 'about people ad" was that Obamacare forced persons to pay more for less coverage. The reason those who had individually purchased catastrophic policies got the discontinue notices was because it did not offer enough coverage Obamacare deemed basic. It is such a shame hospitals will see cuts to government subsidies, whines another ad, implying reduction in Medicare services to your parents and grandparents. Here is why that line is so deceptive: so many more will now have health insurance, uncompensated charity-care hospitals must cover less, and hospitals will be held to higher standards. In fact, The Congressional Budget Office projects that a decade has been added to the life of Medicare due to the cost-saving measures. Even Medicare Advantage serving 28 percent of seniors is projected to continue. Expect future ads to claim Obamacare "is" not working now because "in the future" premiums will soar as insurance companies drop out for lack of customers or not enough healthy sign up, causing a "death spiral." Those are scare tactics. The Congressional Budget office estimates it will take three years for all qualified to sign up. Even if young, invincibles fail to constitute 40 percent of the sign-ups, there should be enough for the "death spiral" not to happen, per the Kaiser Family Foundation. For links to sources on which the column was based, visit

Hamilton: Unusable insurance: The Obamacare illusion (column)

In the Court of Public Opinion, even the most well-thought-out replacement for Obamacare faces an uphill battle. Here is why: Many of the previously uninsured thought they gained "free" or low-cost health-care insurance under Obamacare. But did they really? Or, had they merely gained "fake" health-care insurance? For example, what good is an Obamacare policy if the deductibles are set so high you cannot afford to use Obamacare to pay medical bills? What good is an Obamacare policy if the premiums rise so high that, even with taxpayer subsidies, you can no longer afford the premiums? We ask. You decide. Actually, the title: The Affordable Health Care Act (AKA Obamacare) was misleading from the beginning. The act was not about health care. America already possessed the world's best health care. The act was about health insurance. The act was a scheme designed to force (mandate) young, healthy Americans to patronize the major health-insurance companies. But Obamacare was doomed to fail for at least two reasons: 1. Obamacare mandated a one-size-fits-all health-insurance policy which, among other things, demanded that celibates pay for birth control pills and that those opposed to infanticide pay for abortions. 2. Obamacare prevented free market competition from bringing down the cost of health-insurance premiums and it allowed deductibles to rise so high that low-income people could not afford to use it. When Obamacare was first proposed, the prospect of gaining about 20 million young, healthy premium payers attracted some of the major health-insurance companies. The young were a lot less likely to be sick than their older policy holders who were needing more and more medical procedures and were draining the coffers of the health insurance providers. But too many of the young chose to pay the mandated tax (fine) rather than enroll in Obamacare. Or, they lived with their parents or found some other way to game the system and not buy health insurance. Many employers who, prior to Obamacare, provided their employees with health-insurance plans took advantage of Obamacare's 50-employee-threshold provision. They reduced their work forces to 49 or less, leaving previously insured employees to fend for themselves. Many employees, working less than 30-hours-per-week, no longer had the benefit of employer-provided health insurance. Result: hundreds of thousands saw their work hours reduced from full-time employment to part-time jobs. Or, they lost their jobs entirely. Ouch! Finding Obamacare unprofitable, the major health-insurance companies are bailing out. The states that opted for state-run insurance exchanges are dropping their exchanges like soiled surgical bandages. So, whether Obamacare was intended for good or ill, the result for millions has been ill. The collapse of Obamacare is so imminent that even a Democrat-controlled Congress and White House would be compelled to overhaul Obamacare in line with a free market able to sell health insurance across state lines. Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Congress and White House face a daunting task. Even if the current regime comes up with the perfect replacement for Obamacare, the unwitting millions who actually had "fake" Obamacare health-insurance policies are going to scream bloody murder. The anti-Trump myth-stream media won't mention that much of Obamacare was illusory and will join in the screams, hoping for the Democrats to take back the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections of 2018. Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.

My View: The incredible shrinking Obamacare issue

The Obamacare (Affordable Care Act, ACA) controversy has been rolled into reforming entitlements as part of the dealing with the White House on raising the debt ceiling.and deficit reduction. However, the GOP's rationale for defunding, repealing, delaying or sabotaging the ACA because it would increase the deficit is bogus. In fact, the GOP proposals would add to the deficit. The GOP House of Representatives has reduced its conditions to ending the shutdown or raising the debt ceiling from defunding the ACA to delaying it a year to just removing the tax on medical devices, or removing the penalty on individuals who fail to sign up for insurance by March 31. Rep. Paul Ryan did not even mention the ACA in an op-ed in the New York Times as he tried to move the GOP goal to reforming all entitlements as a debt ceiling and deficit reducing bargaining chip. Tea Party diehards still want to include the ACA in the entitlement discussion. To tie the ACA to deficit negotiations is nonsensical. The Congressional Budget Office said the ACA would decrease the deficit by $109 billion over 10 years and that the ACA added 12 years to the life of Medicare. The ACA has a "pay for" built in through a variety of mechanisms: reducing the overpayment to insurers for coverage and holding them to no more than 20 percent of premiums for overhead; reducing payments to hospitals because they no longer have to absorb the costs of treating uninsured patients who could not pay their bills. The previously uninsured now have affordable access to insurance. Competition within the marketplace exchanges are resulting in premiums which are even 16 percent lower than original predictions. Unnecessary but expensive subsidies to Medicare Advantage private insurer administrators have ended. Some taxes and penalties will also produce revenue. Some fear that increasing the debt limit is a go-ahead to go into debt more in the future. Lifting the debt limit does not approve more expenditures than Congress has already approved. There are those that contend that if the debt limit increase is not approved, nothing will happen. There is no one in the business community or at Wall Street or the prime funders of the Tea Party movement, the Koch Brothers, who agree with that. The GOP advocates could make the deficit worse. For example, removing the tax on medical devices could add to the deficit by at least $29 billion in lost revenue over 10 years. Another "pay for" should be included in any deal to maintain the ACA's contribution to deficit reduction. Some deal is likely since the President says it is not a "core" part of the ACA. Another GOP proposal, to delay the penalties associated with the mandate for young people to sign up is a "core" attack on the ACA. Not bringing the younger and healthy into the insurance pool would sabotage the affordability of covering pre-existing conditions because that is what makes that part of the ACA affordable. The GOP argues the President let large businesses off the hook for a year from being fined for not having health insurance for their employees. The difference is the impact on the cost of the ACA. Only a very small percent of large businesses do not already provide employee insurance. Using computer glitches in the federal website as a reason to delay is a weak argument since computer software can be fixed and administrators have until March 31, 2014 . Fourteen states like Colorado that opted to run their own systems have better results than the states who relied on the federal system. Sign-up by computer Is not the only method to enroll. Marketplace exchanges provide telephone and in-person enrollment as alternatives to online sign-ups. For more, visit www.

Muftic: Why people love to hate Obamacare

There are millions who are giving thanks this season for Obamacare (ACA). A recent Gallup poll disclosed that 70 percent of those who signed up for it like it, few plan to drop it. By the end of 2015 around a total of over 17 million will have subscribed to it, even discounting a 400,000 recently reported 2014 miscount and updated forecasts. Yet the law is still more unpopular than popular. Why? One reason is that only 16.5 percent of Americans could not afford or qualify for health insurance before Obamacare. The rest of us with employer insurance, or Medicare or Medicaid, or individual private market insurance had to be convinced that either we were not harmed or we benefited from the law. The administration did not help its popularity when it bungled the roll out and made some misrepresentations that if the 3 million individuals with substandard policies liked their insurance or doctor, they could keep them. The GOP raised a ruckus. However, when it comes to the many millions who signed up for Obamacare, the GOP is raising no ruckus about those they would leave high and dry without insurance. They still plan a vote to repeal Obamacare while not offering another way to provide similar benefits to the same numbers. The GOP also used fear mongering and flat out lies to turn people against Obamacare. Remember "death panels" and "death spirals" or costs bankrupting the country or Medicare being robbed to pay for the ACA? Remember when the GOP told us exchange premiums would soar so high that Obamacare would collapse in a financially unsustainable "death spiral"? It is not happening. For 2015 exchange premiums have risen only 1 percent on average nationwide. No government panel has told anyone to pull the plug on Grandma. The GOP inferred that the ACA would take away Medicare benefits. Instead, the savings in the law added 14 years to the life of Medicare per the non-partisan independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and no traditional benefits have been lost. The challenge for the administration was to convince the public that even those who had insurance were now protected from abuse from anti-consumer practices of insurance companies. Most consumers did not even know they were victims until they faced bankruptcy because of their inadequate policies. Employees' human resources departments provided them with limited choices and left buried in fine print caps on coverage, dumping the sick, not covering some pre-existing conditions, discrimination against women, and using premiums for over inflated overhead instead of covering medical services . The GOP wants employees to return to "those good ole 'days" by removing mandates on employers to provide insurance. The CBO originally concluded the ACA would reduce the deficit over 10 years. Those forecasts have changed relatively little compared to the size of the deficit. Simply repealing the ACA, per the CBO, would run up the deficit. Chipping away at income streams, taxes, mandate fines without finding other "pay fors" as the GOP wants to do, would also rack up the deficit. For data sources, visit

Health Coverage Guides assist citizens with insurance

For the past several years American citizens have been compelled by the federal healthcare legislation the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, to purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Citizens can enroll to receive health insurance coverage during a specific period of time each year known as Open Enrollment, running from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31. Open Enrollment, and the requirement to obtain health insurance coverage, is a direct result of the ACA and the individual health insurance mandate contained within the legislation. Prior to the adoption of the ACA insurance companies had open enrollment periods but obtaining health insurance was not mandatory. Because the process of obtaining health insurance through open enrollment can be complicated and confusing the local non-profit Grand County Rural Health Network (GCRHN) provides two Health Coverage Guides to assist citizens in the process. The Health Coverage Guides help folks navigate the complex maze of legal requirements, insurance offerings, financial hurdles and bureaucratic institutions that can complicate and potentially impede a citizen's ability to enroll. For the GCRHN Kim Long and Julie Kestell serve as Health Coverage Guides. The pair have been in the thick of things since Nov. 1 and are working furiously as the end of the year approaches to help shepherd clients through the process. "I am a Health Coverage Guide," stated Long. "I am a proponent of The Affordable Care Act, and have the privilege of assisting individuals and families seeking health coverage. My work also allows for navigating those less capable of helping themselves in obtaining benefits and services." Long pointed out that as a Health Coverage Guide he does not sell any products or services to those who utilize the services of the GCRHN nor does he receive any form of commission or bonuses for his assistance to clients. "We are like a caddy," Long said. "We try to keep you in the fairway and out of the bad areas." The deadline to obtain coverage by the first of the year is Dec. 15, so if you haven't already worked out your health insurance you may not be able to get the process completed by the end of the year. Open Enrollment officially runs through Jan. 31 but according to Long anyone who attempts to begin the process in late Dec. or later will likely not be able to obtain coverage until Feb. or possibly even March. Any citizen who does not have health insurance coverage for nine out of 12 months of the year must pay the tax penalty assessed for failing to obtain coverage, so if you only have coverage for six-months of the year you will pay both your premiums and the tax penalty. Long pointed out that some folks opt to simply pay the tax penalty assessed through the ACA rather than purchasing health insurance. "For some people in our region the fines are less expensive than the premiums," Long said. But he cautioned, "it is a gamble", he said. If a person were to get sick or injured they would need to pay the tax penalty as well as the full cost of their healthcare expenses. If citizens do opt to not purchase health insurance and instead decide to pay the tax penalty know that the tax penalty is not assessed until you submit your taxes for the year you did not obtain coverage. The Open Enrollment period for 2016 is for health insurance coverage in 2017. If you do not obtain coverage your tax penalty would be assessed on the taxes you file in the spring of 2018 for income in 2017. After this year's Presidential election changes are coming. Where and how those changes will play out is yet to be known but President-elect Trump has already made clear the ACA is on his agenda. With Republicans controlling both the US House and Senate and with congressional leaders declaring their intentions to repeal and replace the ACA it is hard to know what the future has in store. But make no mistake folks the election of 2016 doesn't change the insurance requirements for 2017. According to Long, "Even if his (President-elect Trump) first act were to repeal and replace it (the ACA) it will not affect next year's requirement. By all indications 2017 will not be affected." Any taxpaying Colorado resident is eligible to receive assistance from Health Coverage Guides through the GCRHN, though Long pointed out that some of the programs and forms of assistance the Health Coverage Guides can direct citizens to are only for residents of Grand County. If you are looking for assistance in enrolling in health insurance you can contact Kim Long or Julie Kestell with the GCRHN at 970-531-4769 and 970-531-4511 respectively. You can also reach them at their email addresses: and Additionally the GCRHN Guides make the rounds in Grand County, setting up shop in regional towns to make getting to an appointment easier for our local citizens. They are in Kremmling on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, Fraser on Wednesdays, Granby on Thursdays and some select Saturdays and in Grand Lake on select Thursdays. You will still need to call to set up an appointment with the Coverage Guides.

Lawsuits, ignorance threaten Obamacare

There is a great deal of confusion over the recent appeals courts' decisions about Obamacare (ACA) in the Halbig suit. At issue is whether the law permits those who got Obamacare through the federal exchanges to get their premiums subsidized by taxpayers to make them affordable. One three-person panel appeals court dominated by Republicans ruled against the ACA subsidies of federal exchange-issued policies, and the other with more Democrats ruled in support of the subsidies. The administration is appealing the anti-ACA decision to have a ruling of the full bench of justices. The issue could still go to the Supreme Court. What sort of a reaction could we expect if the Supreme Court rules against Obamacare subsidies? There will not be much impact in Colorado because Colorado and 14 other states set up their own exchanges and can clearly subsidize premiums. Colorado has also expanded Medicaid to the near-poor. Ten million people would lose their tax credits, and the ACA would be eliminated in 24 states, per the Kaiser Family Foundation, Aug. 4, Wall Street Journal blog, because they have refused both to expand Medicaid and to set up their own state-run exchanges. Twelve states expanded Medicaid but did not set up state exchanges, so those who signed up through the federal exchanges would lose affordable subsidies. For those 4.7 million (of a potential total over three years of 9.5 million) who would lose their affordable insurance they already obtained, the reaction would be an angry one. The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 9, noted "that 87 percent of the people signing up for coverage in the federal marketplace qualify for income-based premium subsidies that lower their average premium from $346 per month to $82, a reduction of 76 percent." Many would not be angry. About 60 percent polled recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) said they had not been affected by the law, yet the majority still disapprove of the law. Approval of the ACA is about 38 percent, though approval or disapproval mostly depends on party affiliation. Still 60 percent did not want it repealed but improved instead. The ACA's acceptance has been slow because experience with it has been short, and partisanship and ignorance influence public opinion. Per KFF polls, more than 6 out of 10 did not even know or were not sure they had a choice of private plans, the basic feature of the ACA. Nearly 40 percent of enrollees in federal Obamacare exchanges did not even know they were getting federal subsidies. Those receiving insurance from employers may not realize Obamacare has stopped insurance companies from overcharging (resulting in refunds to consumers), or charging higher premiums for women and setting lifetime caps or that the ACA is responsible for covering cancer screenings without copays. Those advantages will only be fully appreciated and understood when consumers experience them or if the GOP repeals the ACA and takes these benefits away. For more, visit

Felicia Muftic:Oklahoma and Obamacare

Oklahoma is an ornery cuss. I do not mean just their legendary football teams. I mean their attitudes: non-cooperative with whatever is going on in Washington. I believe I can pick on them with some authority, having been born and raised in that iconic Okie town … Muskogee. Oklahoma has a history of thumbing its nose at anything federal. It is not a sentiment that is exclusive to their state; they take it to the extreme. One of the last states to remain dry, I recall that the boot-leggers’ stills of the night were held in esteem and federal “revenuers” were the enemy. Anti-federal sentiment is just part of their DNA. That is why I was also not surprised to read in the New York Times on July 29 that Oklahoma planned to thumb its nose at the mandate to require all states to participate in Obamacare. It did so by turning down a $54 million dollar grant to administer the program. Oklahoma was also the first state taking advantage of the ability provided by the Supreme Court decision to opt out of federally paid extension of Medicaid. The Times held Oklahoma up as the pioneer of the rejectionist position. Since then some other states, mostly those with Republican governors, followed Oklahoma’s lead. There is a provision in Obamacare that does not let such states off the hook. If they do not set up their own systems statewide per federal guidelines, the feds can step in and do it for them. Some states hoped the Supreme Court would overturn Obamacare. That did not happen. Then many states besides Oklahoma also gambled the GOP would win in November so that Obamacare would be repealed. They lost that bet. Elections do have consequences, and keeping Obamacare is a big one. States with Republican-dominated governments are faced with a dilemma: Either let the federal government take over their health care system or partner with them. It is a particularly uncomfortable position for GOP governors in swing states that voted Democratic. Wisconsin this week opted to let the feds take over; Ohio will take the partner route; Florida is mulling over the partnering. States have until Dec. 14 to announce their intentions, but not providing Obamacare to their citizens is no longer an option. Fortunately, 15 state legislatures, such as Colorado’s, had the foresight to set up their own state-based structure to administer Obamacare, to determine the private sector participants, and to keep health care control local and tailor made for specific state needs. Beginning October 2013, currently uninsured Colorado citizens will have the ability to choose among a large number of private insurance plans that meet certain standards and to be charged according to their income level. Actual coverage begins January 2014. A colleague of mine from Texas loudly proclaimed at a social gathering post-election that Obamacare would bring down our economy and destroy jobs. She must not have gotten the message: The Congressional Budget Office on July 25 scored repealing Obamacare as adding more to the federal deficit than keeping it would. The Simpson Bowles Commission concluded that Obamacare was a contributor to reducing the deficit because Obamacare provides some very important cost savings that impact federal Medicare and Medicaid costs. A major reason is that continuing to dump uninsured into emergency rooms is a very expensive way to provide health care. The GOP’s “Obamascare” tactics of wrongly implying the savings to the Medicare system would reduce benefits or their touting vouchers to save Medicare had less of an effect than Republicans had hoped. Those who already have insurance can also be thankful to Obamacare this Thanksgiving that their 18-25 year olds can remain on parents’ insurance and pre-existing conditions will no longer be an excuse to deny coverage. Visit ,

Muftic: GOP still tilts at Obamacare windmills

I constantly ask myself why there are so many determined to deprive people of their health insurance? For the 56th time, the GOP-dominated House voted to repeal the ACA (Obamacare) last week. It was a futile exercise because President Obama still has veto power. Do they just not care that insurance was unaffordable for millions before the ACA, or are there other reasons? I can speculate on the answers. Ideology plays a big role. I often hear expressed fear of federal government taking over. Small government is always better. States' rights should prevail. Private enterprise should always do it instead. There are those who do not want any government to mandate them to do anything, much less help anyone else to be able to afford health insurance. The old status quo was tolerable, say some. Emergency rooms are good enough care; preventative care is not that important. So what if charity care and unpaid medical bills hike everyone else's premiums. It is OK those stuck with unaffordable medical bills lose their homes or go bankrupt. Deficit hawks care more than anything that the ACA will run up the deficit in the next 10 years. At least that is how Senate Republicans interpret a recent government report. Prior year reports showed it would reduce the deficit. Next year could show something different. Legislative tweaks with pay-for strategies and tackling entitlements are tougher to do. However, the reason for Obamacare in the first place was private sector insurers had already failed to cover so many and states other than Massachusetts were unwilling to provide a solution. So far the GOP has failed to agree among themselves on a comparably effective replacement. And then there are partisan loyalists and Obama haters whose main motivation is to cripple President Obama. There is a lawsuit now before the Supreme Court, which could rule that insurance premium subsidies issued through the federal website were illegal; subsidies could only be provided through state exchanges. The chief plaintiff bringing the suit, David M. King, thinks the president is an "idiot" and has posted altered images of the first lady in Middle Eastern clothing. A court ruling against Obamacare would mean 80 percent of the 9 million beneficiaries of the ACA who receive those subsidies through the federal exchanges would be unable to afford their health insurance premiums. That the 35 states refusing to set up state exchanges would reverse themselves is slim since they have state houses controlled by Republicans hostile to Obamacare. Obamacare is a failure? In spite of reparable computer glitches, the ACA is doing what it was designed to do even part of the way to full implementation. By the end of 2016, 24 million fewer Americans will lack insurance, per the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Independent concluded premiums for employed and individuals have risen at a much lower rate than in the Bush years even accounting for the recession's effect, nor will the ACA cost thousands for everyone insured. Fewer adults reported medical bill problems. Destroying Obamacare would reverse those gains. To see sources tapped for column, visit

My View 7/18/12

The futile attempt by the House Republicans to repeal Obamacare last week prolonged the debate and kept it a hot topic. President Obama got a gift, a second chance to sell his health care reform law and to shoot down some urban myths. Health care reform issues are extremely important to the more than 20 percent of Grand County residents who cannot afford health insurance now. Those of us who are already insured, including those on Medicare, should also sit up and take note of the impact on us if Obamacare is repealed and not replaced. The greatest urban myth concerns costs and the deficit. While Obamacare indeed costs trillions, the GOP has deceptively made an issue of only the cost side of the balance sheet, ignoring the sheet’s other side, the savings and revenue offsetting federal expenditures Obamacare (aka ACA) requires. According to the Congressional Budget Office on March 13, 2012, “… the ACA will, on net, reduce budget deficits over the 2012-2021 period.” The Simpson-Bowles bipartisan deficit reduction commission examined the relationship of Obamacare to the deficit and recommended “Controlling health care costs by maintaining the Medicare cost controls associated with the recent health care reform legislation.” Other urban myths: The GOP litany, that Obamacare would not give consumers choice of plans, doctors, or hospitals, or cut Medicare benefits is, horsefeathers. Nothing changes the choice employees have if their employers provide insurance. States have been given the option of setting up their own market exchanges to cover the uninsured. Colorado’s exchange will give currently uninsured Grand County residents a choice of as many as 12 affordable private plans and will subsidize the cost based on their ability to pay. For those insured, if Obamacare were repealed, closing the senior drug donut hole would be lost, covering pre-existing conditions for children and adults would be lost, keeping young adults on parents’ insurance policies, eliminating co-pays for mammograms and other tests, or requiring insurers to spend greater percent of your premiums on actual health care services – all lost. There would be no protection against lifetime caps, outrageous co-pays or kicking a patient that got sick off their insurance. Mitt Romney has departed a little from his House Republican brethren by proposing “common sense” alternatives, paying lip service to both the concept of covering pre-existing conditions and admitting that the uninsured should have more affordable access to health care. He may talk in fiery terms that he will repeal Obamacare day one – a difficult task unless he controls both houses of Congress – but he must also propose a way to fund the same popular benefits as some of the Obamacare provisions. So far he has come up nearly empty on the “how to” part. The problem is Romney’s “common sense” replacements, cross state insurance sales and malpractice reform, just add up to too few cents. They have already been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. They found that those measures would lower the cost of health insurance, but only enough for 3 million more to afford insurance, leaving 27 million still seeking health care in the ER and shifting the costs on to the rest of us. He has been silent on closing the Medicare donut hole. Romney’s proposal to cover high risk patients by setting up state pools, as Colorado has done, is already funded by Obamacare until the law is in full effect in 2014. The cost of providing the subsidies is extremely high and unaffordable to consumers who cannot afford any kind of health insurance now. The mandate makes possible pooling high-risk patients with healthier insured so that the system is cost effective for all. In short, Romney’s replacement plan is just another urban myth. For more, go to and