Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Obamacare uphled, Rural America benefits PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 02 July 2012 14:35

By John Crabtree, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Center for Rural Affairs has said from the beginning, the Affordable Care Act is a perfectly legal response to the health care and health insurance challenges facing millions of Americans and rural Americans in particular. The Supreme Court’s ruling will continue the already existing benefits and protections helping young adults, Medicare beneficiaries, children, and every one of us from unreasonable health insurance rate increases.

The Supreme Court decision also authorizes states to implement the system that allows Americans to purchase affordable, comprehensive health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. For those of us living in rural America, where we are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured, and where local economies are even more dependent on self-employment and small business, this ruling is a true victory.

It is now time to move forward in implementing the Affordable Care Act and the federal Department of Health and Human Services as well as the states should take action to fully implement the Act and immediately establish health insurance marketplaces with serious consumer protections and a robust governing board. Congress should also continue investing in access to medical professionals in medically underserved rural areas and maintaining rural hospitals.

Now that the legal wrangling is complete, it’s time to bind up the nation’s political wounds and get about the business of resolving the health care challenges facing the nation and its people.

Health Care Coalition Supporters Tell Governor Quinn: "The Waiting is Over - The Supreme Court has spoken." PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jim Duffett   
Monday, 02 July 2012 14:32
Urge Governor to Sign Executive Order Implementing Illinois’ Insurance Marketplace (Exchange)
Champaign, IL – The Campaign for Better Health Care today sent a letter signed by 109 diverse organizations throughout the state, representing over 2.5 million Illinoisans, to Governor Quinn calling on him to sign an Executive Order to implement Illinois’ health insurance marketplace (exchange) immediately.  Illinois small businesses and Illinois families are tired of you waiting.  Illinois needs a state insurance exchange not a federal exchange.
“Now that the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare, it is time for Governor Quinn to take action, and for the rest of political establishment get on board and work to make the Illinois Insurance Exchange the best one in the nation. We are tired of continuous political posturing in Springfield,” commented Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care.
Duffett continues, "the people of illinois have waited for two years for the General Assembly to take action in establishing an Illinois Insurance Exchange - they failed.  Now it is up to you to show the people of Illinois that your walk across Northern IL was not done in vain.  You must stand with small businesses and the consumers and not the insurance industry.  Any further delay will play in the hands of the insurance industry".
A major provision of Obamacare is that states must develop a competitive health care marketplace, or insurance exchange.  In Illinois, this marketplace will eventually enroll over 1 million Illinoisans.  Those that already have insurance they like and want to keep may never need to use the marketplace - but for those that do need to purchase insurance, the marketplace website will be fast and easy to use, and will let consumers make honest comparisons among plans to choose the ones that best fit their needs and budgets.  This marketplace will be a lifesaver for small businesses, sole proprietors, and the uninsured.
“Unfortunately, the Illinois General Assembly has chosen not to take legislative action this past legislative session, letting down  hundreds of thousands of uninsured Illinoisans, small businesses, and individuals, and jeopardizing their peace of mind,” commented Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care, the organization sponsoring the letter initiative.  Duffett continued, “This marketplace will provide access to health care - in turn providing security for families and strengthening the middle class.  Governor Quinn needs to show leadership and take action now.”
Unless action is taken, Illinois will be unable to access over $200 million in federal funds available for the development and implementation of the new Illinois marketplace.
The letter states, “We believe Governor’s Quinn’s Executive Order must have built-in, well-defined principles and standards protecting Illinois consumers and small businesses.  This marketplace must serve the interest of the uninsured, small businesses, and consumers and not the financial interest of the insurance industry.  So much is on the line for making sure that the new Marketplace Governing Board is independent and free of conflict of interest.  Specifically:
  1. No insurance industry representatives on the governing board of the new marketplace, so as to avoid undue influence on the development or following of the rules for operating it;
  2. The board must have the right to negotiate with insurers and develop real cost containment measures;
  3. The insurance industry stands to gain over a million new customers from the development of the marketplace. Since they will profit from it, the financing of the marketplace should come from their massive reserves of over $30 BILLION dollars – not from taxing the small businesses and consumers.
"Health care reform has already proven to be morally, financially, and spiritually successful for millions of Illinoisans already.  The Illinois Marketplace will begin to provide health care access to a million other Illinoisans, a moral imperative.  The delay in moving forward is unacceptable.  We call upon Governor Quinn to show his moral committment to the people of Illinois by signing an Executive Order to establish Illinois' marketplace," said Rev. Dr. Moss III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy.  Like all Illinoisans, we are working hard to keep our heads above water in this sluggish economy.  The cost of health care or lack there of is a major cost factor for us. We are anxiously awaiting the establishment of the marketplace, as it will have a strong positive impact on businesses and consumers. But we cannot wait until next session for the Illinois General Assembly to take action.  That is why we are urging Governor Quinn to sign an Executive Order now establishing Illinois' marketplace," stated Dan Callahan, owner of a small business, Gregg Florist in Peoria.
Once an Executive Order is in place, Illinois can begin moving forward and then the Illinois General Assembly will need to codify components of the Executive Order during the Fall Veto Session, after the November election.
Due to legislative roadblocks, the governors of both Rhode Island and New York have already issued Executive Orders to create the competitive health care marketplace in their states.  "We believe Illinois needs to follow these examples in putting our state on the right track towards ensuring access to quality, affordable health care for all Illinoisans," concluded Duffett.
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About the Campaign for Better Health Care
We believe that accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for ALL people.  The Campaign for Better Health Care is the state’s largest coalition representing over 300 diverse organizations, organizing to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system for all.  For more information, visit

Branstad signs Executive Order 78 establishing state workers may voluntarily pay 20 percent of health care insurance premiums PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Tim Albrecht   
Monday, 02 July 2012 12:51

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad today signed Executive Order 78, which allows state workers to voluntarily pay 20 percent of their health care insurance premium.

According to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), 88 percent of state workers do not contribute anything toward their health insurance premium, and in total, Iowa taxpayers fund 97 cents of every one dollar spent on health care premiums.

The Executive Order is found here:

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Most Americans Support What Obamacare Does, Even Those Who Oppose The Law Itself PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jessamyn Coughenour   
Monday, 02 July 2012 12:50

A  Reuters/Ipsos poll found that when you remove the controversial individual mandate from the equation , strong majorities favor most of what’s  actually in the new law:

·  61 percent of respondents favored allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.

·  72 percent of respondents wish to maintain the requirement that companies with more than 50 workers provide health insurance for their employees.

·  82 percent of respondents favored banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

In recent weeks, some Republicans have come out in support of the most popular and successful Obamacare provisions, attempting to whitewash their longstanding blanket opposition. Insurance companies have also pledged to maintain key Obamacare measures regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Supreme Court decision on Medicaid PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 02 July 2012 09:59

Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Response to Supreme Court Decision on Medicaid

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mr. President, the Supreme Court yesterday overturned the mandatory Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act.

As of yesterday, the states now have a choice to expand or not expand coverage to the poorest people in society without being subjected to harsh federal penalties.

Mr. President, I’d like to draw attention to a speech I gave on the Senate floor on December 2011 on the subject of the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion.  I expressed my concerns then about the potential impact of a Supreme Court decision on Medicaid expansion.

I said on the floor that day, “… A Supreme Court ruling in favor of the States in this case could not only jeopardize the mandated Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act but could challenge the fundamental structure of Medicaid and have broader implications outside health care.”

The concerns I expressed then have, to a degree, come true.

Reading from a Washington Post editorial this morning about the Court ruling on Medicaid, “ … this restriction of federal authority may have greater ramifications than the court’s limiting of the Commerce Clause. One can imagine challenges to federal conditions across a wide spectrum of programs, including but not limited to the environment, education and transportation.”

This decision overturns the mandatory expansion of the Medicaid program.  And while I realize most of the focus is on the decision related to the tax mandate, we should spend a moment talking about the consequence of the Medicaid decision.

Mr. President, one of the goals of health care reform was to provide coverage for people in need.

I would argue the people most in need of coverage are people without a job, people without an income, the poorest of the poor.

The Affordable Care Act required states to cover people below poverty through Medicaid.

States were mandated to expand to cover people below poverty.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory expansion unconstitutional.  Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts said, “ … Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that States accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.”

With this decision, states now have the option to expand Medicaid to cover people below poverty.

Mr. President, the states had that option before the Affordable Care Act was passed.  So what does this decision mean in real terms?

It will be up to the states to determine if they will cover the poorest of the poor.  The federal government cannot guarantee coverage.

So now people with jobs will have to purchase insurance under the tax mandate.  People without an income, people who are below poverty are dependent upon the state in which they reside.

Now I know some people will believe that the choice is perfunctory, that Medicaid expansion will move forward because the federal government has offered to pay for more than 90 percent of the expansion.

But if you were a state, would you really trust a promise from a federal government that is $15 trillion in debt?

If you were a state, would you really trust an Obama Administration that proposed eliminating that special federal payment rate through a proposal known as the blended rate?

States will very reasonably be risk adverse.

States can now expand if they choose or not at all.

No one should assume for a second all states will expand to cover as much as was mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, you might think people below poverty could still get health care through tax credits, but the people who wrote this bill made people below poverty ineligible for tax credits.

That’s right … ineligible.

It’s all or nothing for the poor with Medicaid.

With today’s ruling, the answer is nothing.

On December 15, 2011, I said on the Senate floor that the expansion of Medicaid and the coverage of poor people was in jeopardy because, “… the White House and the Democratic majority put their partisan goals ahead of collaboration with Republicans and States to build legitimate public policy.”

Today, that is the outcome.

When people with income, people with jobs are mandated to purchase health insurance and face a tax penalty if they don’t, while the poorest people in society, those without job or income have a guarantee of nothing, I think victory laps are premature.

After this decision, a person in a family with an income of more than $80,000 a year would be guaranteed access to a subsidy to buy private insurance, while a person in a family with no income would be guaranteed nothing.

When people below poverty, the people who least can afford coverage or the consequence of not having coverage are left with nothing, that sounds like a failure to me.

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