Wednesday, December 11, 2013

John Kline, Obamacare and Bah! Hum bug!

John Kline, below right ,
and as his
Dickensian alter ego,
Ebeneezer Scrooge
(actually actor
Reginald Owen
as Scrooge)

Verklempt, too choked up/cramped up in the throat, with emotion, to speak; a good yiddish word to describe Congressman Kline's mute response to the growing success of Obamacare.  The opposite of schadenfreude, joy in the failure of someone - or something.

I have to own a little schadenfreude that the radical right and the weekly sheep-like establishment GOP are experiencing such obvious distress over the success of Obamacare, nationally and at the state level.  Both parties are substantially pinning their political hopes on either the success or falure of Obamacare for the 2014 and 2016 election cycle.  Success for Obamacare is not good for the right, the party of no progress, no hope, no change, and no dollars either, unless you are a special interest or the 1% (which, I suppose, is redundant).

Kline doesn't get verklempt over people being sick who are unable to get health care. Kline doesn't get verklempt over people dying in the United States from lack of health care. Kline doesn't get verklempt over children going without health care. Kline doesn't get verklempt over people having to file bankruptcy because of having junk insurance, insurance with caps, insurance with excessive deductibles, insurance that denies coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Kline doesn't get verklempt over people in some areas, due to lack of health insurance, literally dying 20 years SOONER than someone affluent.

But let Obamacare succeed, and Kline goes mute - and not due to any medical condition like laryngitis. When it comes to top quality medical care and the best possible insurance, Kline has his, and the hell with the rest of the American people.

Kline and his fellow Conservatives are verklempt, because Obamacare is doing well, because that is bad news for him and his political tribe of savages, skinflints and scrooges.

As noted by Americans United for :
Kline, Fellow Republicans Cried Crocodile Tears Over Health Law’s Rocky Enrollment Rollout Despite Voting Nearly 50 Times to Sabotage the Law … But They’re Always M.I.A. When Faced With News of Americans Benefiting

Washington D.C. – Republicans in Congress knew the risks they ran of rooting for the Affordable Care Act to fail since day one: that they would look like schmucks when it works.  That did not stop from Congressman John Kline (MN-02) and fellow Republicans from crowing over early website glitches and problems Americans had getting connected with plans on the insurance exchanges that fit their budgets. That did not stop them from holding hearings to vent phony ‘concerns’ with the growing pains of a law that they voted over 40 times to undermine, scrap, and defund without offering any replacement aside from making legal again the worst insurance company practices that bankrupted families for decades. And so it is not surprising that the same crowd sticks their heads in the sand every time good news about Americans benefiting from the law emerges, like this:   
  • New York Times, Dec. 10: Health Care Exchange Is Vastly Improved, Users Say : For the most part, though, the news for the beleaguered online exchange, which serves 36 states, is improving. Since early December, the federal exchange website has run without crashing, officials said. In the first week of December, about 112,000 people selected plans — compared with about 100,000 in all of November and only 27,000 in October. Last week, more than half a million people created accounts on the federal website, according to people familiar with the health care project.   

Of course, tens of millions of Americans have been benefitting from the Affordable Care Act’s new benefits and consumer protections for some time now, but you’d never know it listening to Republicans like John Kline.  Here’s the Top 5 Benefits of the ACA that John Kline would undo today if he could:

1)      71 Million Americans Enjoying New Preventative Care: The ACA requires most private insurance plans to provide coverage for and eliminate cost-sharing on certain recommended preventive health services. As a result, approximately 71 million Americans with private insurance received expanded coverage of one or more preventive services in 2011 and 2012, according to analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.The health care law also puts women in control of their health care decisions by requiring insurance plans to cover contraception at no additional cost.  Individuals with Medicare also now have access to free, recommended preventive services such as an annual wellness visit, bone mass measurements, cervical cancer screening, cholesterol and other cardiovascular screenings, and mammograms. See the full list of services here.  About 34 million Americans on Medicare have already received at least one preventive service at no out of pocket cost because of the health care law.

2)      Pre-Existing Conditions No Longer a Deal Breaker for 129 Million Americans.  If Republicans had their way and we went back to the way things were before the ACA, up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied health coverage or charged higher premiums just because of their health status when they shop in the individual market. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, in the vast majority of States, insurance companies in the individual and small group markets could deny coverage, charge higher premiums, and/or limit benefits to individuals based on pre-existing conditions like heart disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure. In 2010, thanks to the health care law, up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health coverage or charged higher premiums because of their health. This critical, often save-saving protection extends to adults beginning in January 2014.

3)      Enhanced Mental Health Services: Because of the health care law, for the first time insurance companies in the individual and small group market are required to cover mental health and substance use disorder services as one of ten categories of essential health benefits. Altogether, the Affordable Care Act expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections for approximately 60 million Americans.  The health care law also requires most health plans to cover recommended preventive services like depression screenings for adults and behavioral assessments for children at no cost to consumers. Approximately one in five adults experiences a mental illness in any given year, and young people are affected at a similar rate. While most mental illnesses are treatable, those with mental illness often struggle to get needed treatment if they do not have health insurance that covers mental health services.

4)      Better Prescription Drug Benefits: The ACA helps make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors by closing the Medicare prescription drug "donut" hole. Thanks to the law, more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs, an average of $1,061. The ACA also limits out-of-pocket spending to $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family in 2014. That means you won't have to pay more than that amount even if you have expensive prescriptions.

5)      Slowing Healthcare Costs: Consumers have saved $5 billion over the past two years due to a new requirement that insurance companies have to spend at least 80% of premium dollars on care for patients (at least 85% for large group insurers). If they don’t, they must send consumers a rebate. In 2013, 8.5 million enrollees will receive a total of $500 million in rebates (average of $100 per family).  Insurance companies must submit premium increases of 10% or more for review by experts. In 2012, 6.8 million Americans received an estimated $1.2 billion on health insurance premiums after their insurers cut back on planned increases as a result of this process. Health care price inflation is at its lowest level in 50 years, and, according to the most recent projections, health care spending grew at the slowest rate on record over the last three years. The Affordable Care Act is contributing to this progress through provisions that reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare. 


  1. Let us remember that John Kline voted YES for the unfunded Medicare Part D which created the donut hole. (Surely, David Gerson will be reminding delegates that Kline's vote was a political vote to expand the Republican base to include people who want big government.)

    That said, it should also be stated what John Kline is for ... well, let's not say that he is for himself, but he has opted not have his medical insurance provided through TRICARE. TRICARE is available to military veterans ... and DoD wants to lower the cost of the program. The Pentagon reduced the availability of the Tricare Prime managed-care program to locations within 40 miles of an active or former military base on Oct 1, forcing 171,000 retirees and family members to switch to Tricare Standard, a traditional fee-for-service health care program with higher out-of-pocket costs than Prime.

    The Pentagon said shrinking Prime will save the government $45 million to $65 million a year, based on estimates that DoD pays an average of $600 more per year to provide Prime to a beneficiary than Standard.

    John Kline is leading the charge to reverse the Pentagon's cost saving measure ... regardless of the impact to the national debt.

    Much like Prescription Part D, politics can be a driving force for Mr. Kline's votes.

  2. It's just my lack of attentiveness, I'm sure, but I don't remember these guys getting all that bent out of shape about Medicare Part D or, in my own experience, glitches in the VA's "MyHealthyVet" website (which is a model for what advanced social healthcare networks should look like). I'm sure that they were all trumpeting their rage against the adminis--wait, what's that, most of that happened from 2001 to 2009? Sorry, as you were, move along, move along, nothing to see here.