Last night I was at dinner in someone’s home and the following is the abridged version of a portion of dinner conversation. I say abridged because I was so mad that one, the guest had the audacity to discuss politics in a room of people this person had never met, save one, and two I […]
Category Archives: Healtlhcare Reform
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The Supreme Court is gearing up to hear challenges to The Affordable Care Act soon. Access to affordable healthcare is an issue that impacts virtually every person in this country and one we should all be concerned about, whether you’re already covered under a plan or are uninsured. There are so many people in dire […]
Repealing the Affordable Care Act will Hurt Women in Louisiana
The Affordable Care Act makes important advances for women’s health. The new law protects women in Louisiana from discriminatory health insurance practices, makes health coverage more affordable and easier for them to obtain, and improves access to many of the health services they need. Repealing this important law will hurt women in Louisiana by returning to the days of a health care system that did not work for women.
Insurance Industry Practices that are Harmful to Women Would Continue
In addition to the prohibition on sex discrimination in health care, the new health care law explicitly prohibits discriminatory insurance practices. These important protections will prohibit insurers from treating women like a pre-existing condition. Here are a few of the important insurance protections women will lose if the law is repealed:
A ban on gender rating for individuals and small businesses. Under the new law, by 2014 (at the latest) insurers in Louisiana would no longer be allowed to charge individual women and small employers with a predominately-female workforce more for coverage.
Prohibitions on coverage denials and exclusions for women with “pre-existing conditions” such as pregnancy; having had a C-section, breast, or cervical cancer; or having received medical treatment for domestic or sexual violence. By 2014 (at the latest) insurers in Louisiana will be required to accept all applicants for coverage regardless of their medical history, and will no longer be able to issue coverage with pre-existing condition exclusions. For children, the prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions began in September 2010.
Uninsured women in Louisiana who were uninsured due to a pre-existing condition will lose access to coverage through the pre-existing condition insurance plan – or “high-risk pool” – that is available on a temporary basis, until the new insurance rules are in effect in 2014.
A ban on lifetime and annual limits, which prohibits health plans from placing dollar limits on covered services, giving women the security of knowing that their plan benefits won’t run out when they need them the most. Lifetime limits were banned for all health plans starting in September 2010. Annual limits are also strictly regulated and will be banned entirely for all new health plans and existing group plans in 2014.
Obtaining Insurance will be Harder and More Expensive if the Affordable Care Act is Repealed.
Women in Louisiana are poorer (on average) than men and have more trouble affording health care. For instance, nearly a quarter of all women in the state report not visiting a doctor due to high costs.1 The new health care law would expand access to affordable coverage in several ways by 2014, but if the law is repealed women will lose opportunities to obtain the affordable coverage they need. For example:
Up to 97,500 uninsured, low-income women in Louisiana would not become eligible for Medicaid, which by 2014 would be expanded to those up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL), or roughly $29,000 a year for a family of four. 2
Women would not see the benefits of a new Health Insurance Exchange that would be established in Louisiana to serve as an easy-to-use “insurance shopping center” where women can compare and choose the high-quality health plan that best fits their needs.
Approximately 176,000 women in Louisiana would not receive health insurance subsidies to help towards premiums and out-of-pocket costs of Exchange-based health plans; subsidies would be available to those with family incomes up to 400% of the FPL, or roughly $88,000 a year for a family of four. 3
Women Would Lose Coverage of Many of the Important Health Care Services They Need.
All new health plans issued on or after September 23, 2010 are required to cover recommended preventive care at no cost. Repealing the new law would mean women would lose no-cost access to important preventive screenings such as mammograms and pap smears.
Starting in 2014, health plans sold to individuals and small businesses must cover a broad range of health services. If the law is repealed, plans will not be federally required to cover many services important to women including maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health care.
There Are Many Additional Provisions of the New Law That Will Improve the Health and Well-Being of Louisiana Women and Their Families- Which Women Will Lose with Repeal.
Additional benefits of the new health care law that women will lose with repeal include (but are certainly not limited to):
Tax Credits for Small Business: Women are more likely than men to work for small businesses that don’t offer health insurance, and will benefit from the new tax credits to help small businesses provide coverage to their employees (available for the 2010 tax year), as well as unprecedented access to affordable small group health coverage through the Exchanges.
Coverage for Young Women Up to Age 26: Young women—who are more likely to be uninsured than women in any other age group—will benefit from a new rule that took effect September 2010 which allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy as a dependent until age 26. 4
Closing the Medicare Drug Coverage Gap: Older women will benefit from a provision which closes the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” or the coverage gap that currently requires seniors to spend a considerable amount out-of-pocket for prescription drugs. In 2007, 64% of the Medicare beneficiaries that were affected by the “donut hole” were women.5
New Long Term Care Insurance Options: A new national, voluntary insurance program known as CLASS will be established as early as 2011 to provide long-term services and supports to individuals with functional limitations. This program will alleviate burdens on family caregivers, who are most often women.6
Time for Nursing Moms to Express Breast Milk at Work: Nursing mothers and their infants will gain from a requirement that employers provide a reasonable break time and location to express breast milk (effective immediately).7,8
“Direct Access” to Obstetrical and Gynecological Care: As of September 2010, all new health plans are prohibited from requiring authorization or prior approval when women seek this type of health care.9
For more detailed information on how women will benefit from Affordable Care Act, visit the National Women’s Law Center website: www.nwlc.org/reformmatters
1 Kaiser Family Foundation, Putting Women’s Health Disparities on the Map (2009), http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemapreport.jsp?rep=31&cat=15
2 National Women’s Law Center calculations based on health insurance data for women ages 18-64 from the Current Population Survey’s 2008 Annual Social and Economic Supplement, using CPS Table Creator, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstc/cps_table_creator.html
3 Ibid. Includes an estimated 102,000 uninsured women and 51,000 women who currently purchase coverage from the individual health insurance market.
4 At least thirty states already have laws that extend dependent coverage to young adult children, regardless of enrollment in school. Many of these state laws are more restrictive than the new federal law, and none apply to self-insured or ERISA plans (as the federal law does). The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a list of states’ dependent coverage laws at: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14497
5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Strengthening the Health Insurance System: How Health Insurance Reform Will Help America’s Older and Senior Women, http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/seniorwomen/index.html, Last Accessed on April 26, 2010.
6 Kaiser Family Foundation, Women and Health Care: A National Profile (July 2005), http://www.kff.org/womenshealth/upload/Women-and-Health-Care-A-National-Profile-Key-Findings-from-the-Kaiser-Women-s-Health-Survey.pdf
7 This provision applies to all employers, though employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt if they demonstrate that the requirements impose an “undue hardship” on their business.
8 At least twenty-four states already have laws related to expressing breast milk in the workplace. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides a list of these states and summaries of their laws at: http://www.ncsl.org/IssuesResearch/Health/BreastfeedingLaws/tabid/14389/Default.aspx
9 Thirty-six states and DC already have direct access laws that managed care companies and group health plans must comply with. However, the new health reform law is broader in scope, since it requires all new health plans (i.e. for individuals and groups of all sizes, including self-insured health plans) to comply. The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a list of existing direct access laws at: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=493&cat=10
I enjoy reading my Sunday paper – I am one of those that actually looks at the ads floating around on the inner pages, those entities hawking their goods. One particular ad caught my eye this morning – a small ad at the bottom of page A-22 beginning NULLIFY Obama Care, and below requesting a joint resolution [that the] Louisiana Legislature MUST pass now. Then underneath was the “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag, which I’ll bet whose creators would be appalled that today’s tea baggers have adopted as their standard bearer.
Here is the ad
So I then checked out the website and was pretty shocked at the fringe group promoting this. I went on to read the Bios and concluded that the ad is probably financed by a couple of pretty wealthy individuals, not to mention the silent supporters fueling their money train. One can only imagine what sort of freaks this would attract: just take one look at the home page and all the stars and bars floating across the page and draw your own conclusions.
Two things scary about this: Folks reading this ad, without internet connections to see what these two yahoos are all about, would contact their Louisiana legislators and demand a resolution for Louisiana to repeal health care reform. Our play-along attorney general has begun the process, but all it would take would be for a large group of constituents to contact their lawmakers demanding Louisiana opt out of healthcare. Second is that the Times Picayune is allowing entities such as this to purchase ad space – are they THAT desperate for dollars?
This is just one example of the subterfuge we are in store for over the next few months, until Baton Rouge empties on June 21 and we can take a breath from the required vigil over the lunacy that seems to transpire 65 miles upriver. Watch your newspaper and televisions closely. Write down the numbers of bills that seem completely out of whack and don’t hesitate to call, write or e-mail your representative to voice your opinion on any bill filed, easily found and tracked here.
This image is on the RNC’s brand-spanking new website, firenancypelosi.com. I’m surprised it doesn’t say “Jezebel” or some such inflammatory slogan underneath considering the hell-fire and brimstone background.
“It’s personal for women. After we pass this bill, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing medical condition.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, March 21, 2010
Nancy has my hearty congratulations for her perseverance in getting the National Healthcare Reform bill passed last night.
Here is what we can expect to happen this year as a result:
*Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.
*Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.
*Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.
*A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.
*Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the “doughnut hole” coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.
*A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
*A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.
Read this article on Factbox for more factual info about what we can expect. No fire and brimstone required.
Though the Anderson family no longer feel shame in their decision, they do hope to shield their family from further harassment and requested that their last name be changed as a condition of publication of their story.
Pulling up to the home of Gail and Robert Anderson, a large statute of the Virgin Mary sits in the yard welcoming guests into the home, while protecting the family that lives there. Next to the statute of Mary, inside of labyrinth of daisies, daffodils, tulips and roses is a stone engraved with the word grace. For the Anderson’s grace is not just a word or a concept taught through their strong Catholic faith, but the name of the daughter their hopes and dreams hung onto. It is the name of the daughter they said goodbye to in the Kansas office of a man named Dr. George Tiller.
Both coming from large families with faith deeply-rooted in the Catholic church, the Andersons looked forward to starting their own family with great anticipation, eagerly awaiting pregnancy test results each month in hopes that they would discover they were to become parents. The April morning that their hopes were realized is described by Robert as being one of the best days of his life. After breakfast, they went to the local bookstore together to purchase books on pregnancy, for him and for her, and celebrated by inviting their parents to dinner, sharing their news between the the gumbo and the dessert.
“We were the first of our families to marry and were the first in our families to have children. With our parents around the table, we celebrated a generation being added – being first time parents and first time grandparents. It was a moment of love, hope and joy,” Gail says, thinking back to the day that was to change their lives forever, unknowing exactly how much would change.
Their world was now filled with routine doctor visits, baby name books and trying to decide what color to paint the nursery. With no complications known to them, the Andersons enjoyed their last moments together as husband and wife before they would also become mother and father.
It was during a routine ultrasound, Gail’s first, when concern was raised over the development of the child. Told by their doctors that there was no cause for alarm, the Andersons were referred to specialists who referred them to another set of specialists. Finally, at 27 weeks, a doctor out of Baton Rogue gave them the honesty they had needed, informing them with regret that cystic masses were covering the child’s left lung, forcing pressure on a heart that had not fully developed. Gail would be forced to deliver her child through c-section, as the stress of a traditional birth would be too much for their baby’s body to handle. Their baby would need to be on life support machines for months until able to have the surgeries required that could repair the damage of the child’s suffocated heart and remove the masses from the undeveloped lung. As painful was it was for the Andersons to hear that this child they wanted so badly may not live even after the surgeries intended to repair damage, they were forced to make a decision that not only challenged their personal strength, but where they fit into their Catholic faith.
After a frank discussion with their specialist, they decided that not only did the quality of life of their unborn child need to be questioned, but the life expectancy even if surgeries were successful. There were no guarantees and one day, one month or one year could be added to the life of their child, but not much more than that. After discussing every option available to them, the decision to visit Dr. George Tiller’s office in Kansas to have a late-term abortion was made. Both the Andersons sunk into a depression, feeling as if they were losing both their child and their religion.
“We are catholic. We are supposed to be against abortion, but the church teaches mercy as well. The church examines quality of life. It isn’t a black and white issue as so many like to make it, ” Robert says, looking away while fondling with his fingers the golden crucifix he work around his neck.
As they packed their car to travel to Wichita, Kansas, members of their parish came, trying to talk them out of their decision. Unable to deal with the confrontation, Gail admits she almost called the trip off at the last minute, unsure of how she would be able to sit next to these women in mass. This group was the same women she had gathered with outside of a clinic that performed abortions in Metarie, Louisiana, once a month coming together, praying for the souls of the unborn babies; for the souls of those making this choice. They traveled in silence, both trying to come to terms with their own perceived failures in the choice they were making.
“It was the longest car ride I had ever been on. I didn’t know what to say to my wife. I didn’t know what to think for myself, ” says Robert, recalling the trip that led them from Louisiana to Kansas, finally reaching the one-story, beige Women’s Health Care Services building where Dr. Tiller practiced.
“Dr. Tiller was a very gentle man to my husband and I. He wasn’t the villain that people, me included, had often painted him. He was soft-spoken. He held our hands while we mourned our loss. He even prayed with us.”
Explaining the procedure to the Andersons and the efforts the clinic would make to help them memorialize their child, Dr. Tiller showed the Andersons the compassion and support they so badly wished they had received from their neighbors and friends.
The next day as they arrived to the clinic, they found themselves surrounded by protesters chanting, begging the Andersons to change their mind and children holding a pro-life model of a fetus while calling the Andersons murderers, telling the Andersons that God would not save their souls for taking away the life of another. What was already a traumatic experience, was now infused with guilt, panic and fear.
“The staff was respectful and allowed me to have a little bit of dignity where I didn’t think I had any left. It made me sad that I didn’t get that from my friends or my religious community, but from strangers in a hospital setting. To this day, I am bitter about that,” Gail confessed.
On the wall of their living room, next to a crucifix and a painting of the Virgin Mary and St. Brigid of Ireland is a plague that holds on it two tiny foot prints.
“They do not just look at this as being abortion mills – the staff,” Robert says, looking up at the footprints of their baby Grace.
“She was real. They made her real for us. Those footprints was Dr. Tiller’s idea. He wasn’t a man with crazed-eyes anticipating the kill like some anti-abortion activists would like you to picture. He understood the difficult position we were in. He allowed us to still have a piece of the family we wanted. He even called the baby be her name, by Grace.”
It was very difficult for the Anderson family to learn of the murder of Dr. Tiller. Because he was one of the few individuals that showed them understanding, he became an unofficial member of their family, the quiet uncle that sits in the corner, observing, quiet except for a few pieces of sage advice.
“The people that praised Dr. Tiller’s murder - they are the real monsters.”
The Andersons have not left the Catholic church, still strong in their faith, believing that the church has begun to rely too much on the word of man rather than church teachings, becoming dangerously involved in politics and losing sight that the world simply is not black and white. They continue forward, despite for some calling of their removal from the church, because they know that they are not alone. They move forward because it is their hope that other Catholics faced with similar situations will realize that they are not alone. They move forward by the Grace of their daughter. They move forward, with two beautiful boys, ages five and four, who send kisses to their sister in heaven each night, their head held high, believing their only crime was showing mercy to the meek.
Huge thanks to National Association of Free Clinics. You Rock!
From Earth Tiimes:
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ — Organizers of a free health clinic for uninsured residents of Louisiana are pleased with its success today. Not only did the clinic see 1,000 patients, it may have saved the lives of some sick individuals. Many of the patients had not seen a physician since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.
Volunteer physicians and other medical providers tended to the health care needs of over 1,000 patients who attended the C.A.R.E. (Communities Are Responding Everyday) Clinic at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The clinic was organized by the National Association of Free Clinics and Louisiana Free Clinic Association (NAFC).
“We saw a number of very sick patients today who have not had medical care for many years,” Doctor Corey Hebert, a New Orleans physician and one of the clinic’s medical directors said. “This clinic was a life saver for many people who have no way to pay for their healthcare needs.”
Corey went on to say, “It is important that this is the same facility where people were dying four years ago and today we are giving them life.” His remarks were in reference to the aftermath of Katrina and the human crisis that occurred at convention center.
“It was wonderful to provide free care to so many people in one day,” Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the NAFC, said. “But it also was important that we were able to connect a large number of these patients with free clinics and other health care providers who can provide them with care on a day-to-day basis.”
The NAFC and the Louisiana Free Clinic Association sponsored the event. The 727 volunteers who participated included physicians, nurses, other medical providers and non-medical individuals.
“I am very moved by all the physicians and other medical providers who volunteered to make this C.A.R.E. Clinic such a success,” Dr. Rani Whitfield, M.D., said. Whitfield, a Baton Rouge physician, served as co-medical director for the clinic. “The dedication to helping those need help was moving.”
The clinic operated from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. today at no cost to patients or taxpayers. Most of the patients registered before the event, but walk-ins were seen on a first-come-first-served basis.
“We did good work today,” Whitfield added. “It was good to connect many people in need of medical care with doctors, nurses and others who can help them on an ongoing basis.”
This was the second massive free clinic the NAFC has sponsored. Over 1,700 patients received treatment at the first one, which was held in Houston in September. Two more C.A.R.E. Clinics are planned in Little Rock on Nov. 21 and Kansas City on Dec. 9-10.
“I’m looking forward to building on the successes in Houston and New Orleans to help even more people,” NAFC President Sheri Wood, who is based in Kansas City, said.
More information about the NAFC and the Little Rock and Kansas City events is available online at: http://freeclinics.us.
New Orleans CARE Clinic Preliminary Numbers
* 68% of patients seen seek medical care in the emergency room or do not seek care when ill
* 53% of those seen have not seen a doctor in more than one year with many not seeing a doctor since Katrina
* 90% of patients seen have more than one diagnosis
o Hypertension and diabetes being the most prevalent
* 55% of those seen were women and 45% were men
SOURCE National Association of Free Clinics