mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Obamacare Expansion In The Offing?”: Republicans Crying About People Losing Junk Insurance Should Expand The ACA

Every few days, a new poster child for the horror of Obamacare comes along, the person who just loves their insurance plan but has been told it’s being cancelled. Pretty much every time, their story turns out to be full of holes—the plan they’re on is junk insurance, they’d be able to get better and cheaper coverage through the exchanges, and so on (here’s the latest). But without a doubt, this small group of people (and not, say, the millions who are getting free or low-cost coverage for the first time) have become the momentary face of the Affordable Care Act, at least in the mainstream news media’s eyes.

So now the administration is scrambling to deal with this political problem, and here’s the latest twist:

The most popular idea for a fix on the Hill is legislation that would entitle someone who purchases health insurance coverage through the end of this year to keep that coverage. Other legislative responses may include extending the health exchange enrollment deadline or or delaying the penalty for not purchasing coverage.

Obama is also considering a different approach.

According to the administration source, the White House is “looking at an administrative fix for the population of people in the individual market who may have an increase in premiums, but don’t get subsidies.”

Such a fix would address the issue of “sticker shock” that has been popping up across the country, as individuals are losing their coverage and finding only higher-cost alternatives. Under the ACA, there are tax subsidies to help individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent above the poverty level purchase insurance. Those with incomes higher than 400 percent above poverty get no such assistance. The proposed administrative fix would address this group.

Allowing the junk insurance plans to continue is a terrible idea, no less terrible because it’s being pushed by some Democrats. But giving more subsidies? That’s got some promise. As a big-government liberal, I’m all for the government helping as many people as possible afford coverage. I’m also very skeptical that the administration can just take this move administratively without an act of Congress, but let’s talk about it. Since for the first time in history Republicans are suddenly so very concerned about people not being able to afford health insurance, perhaps they can be pressured into signing on with something that puts their money where their mouths are.

Fat chance, I know. But as long as we’re going to start proposing fixes, how about we let everyone who got a threatening letter from an insurance company buy in to Medicare? If Republicans are going to take the opportunity to demagogue the issue, why not take the opportunity to expand our extremely popular socialized medicine program?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, November 8, 2013

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Vets We Reject And Ignore”: Leave No Fallen Comrade Behind Applies At Home And To All Veterans, Regardless Of “Bad Paper”

Today, we honor the nation’s 22 million veterans, including more than 2.5 million who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war against Al Qaeda. But we are turning our backs on hundreds of thousands of veterans who were discharged “under conditions other than honorable” and so do not qualify as veterans under federal law.

Their discharges, which include overly broad categories encompassing everything from administrative discharges for minor misconduct to dishonorable discharges following a court-martial, nevertheless make them ineligible for the health care, employment, housing and education benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Because of the “bad paper” they carry in the form of their discharge certificates, many of these veterans struggle upon leaving the military. And when they falter, the burden for supporting them falls heavily on their local communities because federal agencies cannot, by law, help them.

No federal agency publishes the numbers of bad paper discharges. But historical studies suggest that at least several hundred thousand veterans fall into this category. Approximately 260,000 of the 8.7 million Vietnam-era veterans were pushed out of the service with bad paper. More recently, according to documents separately obtained by the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Army discharged 76,165 soldiers between 2006 and 2012 with bad paper. Of these recent Army discharges, only one in seven were kicked out following a criminal conviction for a serious offense. The rest were discharged for smaller breaches of military discipline like missing duty or abusing alcohol or drugs. For many of them, their misconduct was likely related to the stresses of war.

Instead of showing compassion for these troops who were carrying the invisible wounds of war, their commanders kicked them out. These troops’ getting pushed out under such circumstances would be enough of a blow, but these commanders compounded the injury by giving them bad paper, instead of merely administratively separating them from the service.

While assessing the needs of veterans in the Western United States, my research team met with community leaders and nonprofit agency staff members in seven cities with the largest populations of veterans, and interviewed others in outlying cities and rural areas as well. Across these communities, veterans with bad paper were believed to be significantly overrepresented in the at-risk veterans populations. All too frequently these veterans become part of the nation’s chronically homeless or incarcerated populations.

When they end up in distress or on the streets, their communities must bear this burden alone.

We have a moral obligation to those who serve, especially those who serve us in combat. At times, the military must discharge those who can’t perform or conform. However, commanders should exercise far greater discretion and compassion in trimming the ranks. Bad discharges indelibly mark veterans as damaged goods and cost society a great deal too.

Congress should also allow the V.A. to more broadly provide mental health care, homelessness support and other forms of crisis intervention to veterans with bad paper. The V.A. has case-by-case authority to do so now, but that does not help veterans with bad paper who have acute needs. A more compassionate policy would not diminish the military’s ability to maintain discipline, nor would it cheapen the valor of those who have served honorably.

The military has a process to fix bad paper, but that process takes too much time, and veterans often need legal help to prevail in an incredibly bureaucratic and difficult process.

The story of John Shepherd Jr., who earned a Bronze Star for valor in Vietnam but was kicked out after disobeying an order to return to combat after developing severe post-traumatic stress disorder, shows how difficult these cases can be. Mr. Shepherd went without V.A. support for 40 years until a team of students and lawyers at Yale Law School helped him correct his record this month.

Excellent programs exist to help veterans in such cases, but they deserve more resources. Small investments in pro bono legal services can help unlock a lifetime of access to the V.A. and help the neediest veterans with bad paper move on with their lives.

Finally, the veterans community should do more to lift up those veterans who have been discharged with bad paper, particularly in those cases where combat experience lies at the heart of the bad discharge. The American military ethos calls on all of us to leave no fallen comrade behind. That applies at home, too, and to all veterans, regardless of whether they carry bad paper.

By: Phillip Carter, Op-Ed Contributor, Opinion Pages, The New York Times, November 10, 2013

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Veterans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: