Thanks Congressman Moore
Today Congressman Dennis Moore (D-KS) generously gave Eric Kirkendall and me time to discuss health care reform with him. We expressed our concerns about the public option as it is framed in HR 3962, The Affordable Health Care for Americans Act. With only 2 billion dollars in seed money and a clause that excludes a “bailout” if the program cannot sustain solvency, the public program may be set up for failure. Due to negotiated “fee-for-service” reimbursement to providers, a likelihood of higher risk customers, and competition with private insurance conglomerates, the public option will have an uphill battle as is.
Also, the public option will not provide insurance until 2014 (as the bill is written). In the meantime, the uninsured will still need to buy insurance in a high risk pool. What will that cost? A healthy middle aged staff member for the Congressman said that she would have to pay $500 per month with a $5000 deductible. In other words, she would be paying $500 per month for nothing, unless she was unlucky to suffer a catastrophic illness. A woman who has just opened up a small business in Lawrence told me she was denied insurance due to some minor surgery for endometriosis. She was told that she would not be able to buy insurance, outside of the risk pool, unless and until she had a hysterectomy. Her female organs, being a perceived risk for insurance companies, had to go. She refused to do that and is buying insurance in the risk pool for $350 per month with a $10,000 deductible (per year). Essentially, she is handing over $350 a month to an insurance company for nothing.
The language in HR 3962 regarding state risk pools is vague. We don’t know what will be available to the uninsured until the public option kicks in. If a few U.S. Senators in our party (Democrats, with the exception of Joe Lieberman), succeed in destroying the public option altogether and, therefore, any meaningful health care reform, all of this will be a moot question. However, if a public option like the one included in HR 3962 comes out of Congress in the final analysis and is signed into law, we will need to intensify our lobbying. I think the Congressman is in a position to help us out. We need to maintain communication with him and his staff.
Keep lobbying at the local level and push back on K Street.