Get the Facts About Obamacare

I recently attended a presentation about the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act at a hospital in the medical center here in Houston. The speaker, a physician, was explaining to other physicians how various provisions of the law would affect patient referrals, patient care, and reimbursement for hospitals.

He told the audience, “If you think you’re against ‘Obamacare,’ look at the individual provisions of the act and consider which ones you’re really against.”

We should do the same thing. Consider the provisions of the law, and ask yourself if you really want politicians or activist judges to do away with them:

Effective in 2010:
•Prohibiting Insurance Companies from Denying Coverage of Children Based on Pre-Existing Conditions.
•Prohibiting Insurance Companies from Rescinding Coverage.
•Eliminating Lifetime Limits on Insurance Coverage.
•Allowing Patients to Appeal Insurance Company Decisions.  
•Providing Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credits.
•Offering Relief for 4 Million Seniors Who Hit the Medicare Prescription Drug “Donut Hole.”
•Providing Access to Insurance for Uninsured Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.
•Extending Coverage for Young Adults up to Age 26.
•Expanding Coverage for Early Retirees.
•Increasing Payments for Rural Health Care Providers.  
•Strengthening Community Health Centers.

Effective in 2011:
• Prescription Drug Discounts for Seniors.
•Providing Free Preventive Care for Seniors.

Effective in 2012:
•Linking Payment to Quality Outcomes.
•Using Electronic Health Records to Reduce Paperwork and Administrative Costs.
•Providing New, Voluntary Options for Long-Term Care Insurance for Disabled Adults.

Effective in 2013:
•Expanding Preventive Health Coverage.
•Increasing Medicaid Payments for Primary Care Doctors.  
•Providing Additional Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Effective in 2014:
•Prohibiting Discrimination by Insurance Companies Due to Pre-Existing Conditions or Gender. •Eliminating Annual Limits on Insurance Coverage.
•Ensuring Coverage for Individuals Participating in Clinical Trials.
•Tax Credits to Make Insurance Affordable for Middle Class Americans.
•Establishing Affordable Insurance Exchanges.
•Increasing the Small Business Tax Credit.
•Increasing Access to Medicaid
•Requiring Individuals who are Able to Take Responsibility by Purchasing Insurance.

Effective in 2015:
•Paying Physicians Based on Value Not Volume.


Conservatism Lacks Compassion

When George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, I was attracted to his candidacy because he described himself as a “compassionate conservative.” Most Americans agree, at least in general, with the conservative principles of free markets and that the government should not be wasteful, and most Americans are compassionate in that they do not want others to do without food or medical care.

The problem with the current conservative movement is its lack of compassion. A prime example of this lack of concern for the public good is Texas Governor Rick Perry’s opposition to setting up an insurance exchange that would benefit many people here in Texas.

Yahoo News reported:
But when Republican state Rep. John Zerwas tried to move legislation to set up an insurance purchasing pool required by the national overhaul, he ran into a veto threat from Perry.

The purchasing pools — called exchanges — are one of the key features of Obama's law. Close to 4 million Texans stand to gain coverage under the law, nearly half of them through exchanges.

Run by the states, exchanges would let consumers buy coverage from a choice of private plans. Most individuals and families participating would be eligible for federal tax credits to lower their premiums.

Exchanges are supposed to open in 2014. If a state doesn't act in advance, the law authorizes the federal government to set up and run its exchange. And since the Texas legislature meets only every other year, this past session was seen as perhaps the state's only opportunity.

But Zerwas said Perry told him he was concerned that moving ahead with the exchange legislation would undermine a multistate lawsuit against the federal overhaul that Texas is part of, not to mention creating other political problems. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the law's requirement that Americans obtain health insurance — the so-called individual mandate — an issue on which lower courts have split. …

"The position (Perry) was taking veers into some political considerations," said Zerwas. "He felt it would not ring well with some of the constituents and grassroots out there, and frankly, he was concerned it could potentially weaken the arguments in the lawsuit." (

 I’m not sure whether Perry’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act is truly ideological or merely political, but a compassionate person would value people’s health more than either of those concerns.

We, the Corporations

Mitt Romney recently made headlines with his statement, “Corporations are people.” This reflects the Republican Party’s staunch defense of tax breaks for corporations and the 2010 ruling by the Republican-dominated Supreme Court that corporate campaign donations should be considered free speech.

In keeping with the Republican Party’s current preference of corporations to flesh-and-blood citizens, I’ve taken the liberty of updating a few quotes from the great Republican leaders of the past:

Abraham Lincoln: “Government of the people corporations, by the people corporations for thepeople corporations, shall not perish from the earth.”

Theodore Roosevelt: “We have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people corporations."

Dwight Eisenhower: “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people corporations and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.”

Ronald Reagan: This idea that government was beholden to the people corporations, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man.

Where the Religious Right Is Wrong

Texas Governor Rick Perry is attending a prayer meeting this week at Reliant Stadium in Houston along with several right-wing religious leaders, including Tony Perkins and James Dobson.

Please note that I use the term “religious leaders” rather than “Christian leaders” or “ministers.” I make this distinction because—while I would never question the faith of a fellow Christian—the leadership provided by Dobson and his ilk is anything but Christian.

Instead of encouraging followers to follow Jesus’ teaching (see Matthew 22:37-39), they focus their energy on opposing gay marriage or on trivial issues like school prayer.

Likewise, right-wing politicians consistently support tax cuts for the rich and oppose programs to help the poor.

Consider the following Bible verses—all from Christ himself—and then consider the actions of right-wing politicians and religious leaders like Perry and Dobson.

…Sell everything you have and give to the poor…
-Luke 18:22

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed,
because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
-Luke 14:13-14

You cannot serve both God and Money.
-Matthew 6:24

They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.
-Mark 12:39-41