Weatherford Democrat

February 20, 2013

Letter to the Editor - Feb. 20, 2013

Weatherford Democrat

— Giving credit where it’s due

Dear Editor,

Mr. Picou’s Sunday, Feb. 17, attempt to discredit my column, which was extracted from an earlier article in the Star-Telegram, failed to give credit to the real author of that article.

The evaluation of the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) was a summary of publications by AARP, National Associations of Insurance providers, associations of doctors, nurses, hospitals and consumer protection organizations.

Mr. Picou’s principal objection seems to be the law is not supported by a majority of Americans, which is sort of true. The problem is the people who disagree with the new law have differing views. About 15 percent of the people who dislike Obamacare complain it does not offer a national single payer option, such as Medicare. If these people were counted with the Americans who like Obamacare the survey would show a majority of Americans want greater government involvement in health insurance. Primarily because for the last fifty years the insurance industry and states have failed to provide adequate coverage with stable rates.

Mr. Picou’s second objection seems to be its cost. He quotes long-discredited sources and ignores current projections by neutral sources. He ignores the reductions already realized in the rate of increase for private insurance, and the Health and Human Resources revised estimates of savings in Medicare and Medicaid.

Mr. Picou says insurance premiums “spiked” 9.5 percent the year the law was passed. Beside the fact that the law does not start until January 2014, he completely ignores that the 9.5 percent increase is actually about two thirds of previous annual increases. His statement that insurance premiums for young people will triple is absolute fabrication.

His comments as to how the law will affect Medicare are not shared by AARP or any organization representing retirees. The reduction in federal premiums support for Medicare Advantage policies is more than compensated for by increased coverage and benefits in conventional Medicare.

Mr. Picou’s attempt to include Medicaid (not Medicare) in his tirade is illogical. He says the states will have to pick up an increase of $118 billion in new Medicaid funding, without mentioning that the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost for new enrollees.

His last attempt to discredit the law is his statement that 1,231 companies have applied for and received waivers from parts of the new law. But again he fails to explain why the waivers were granted. The main reason is that the companies that applied for waivers already have private insurance plans that equal or exceed the law’s requirements.

The only somewhat factual statement I can find is that around 16,000 new Internal Revenue Service “auditors” will be needed, although this numerical requirement is not in the law. Nor is the projected huge decrease in insurance company auditors that will be realized when carriers can no longer search medical records, credit reports and previous policies for reasons to deny coverage or disapprove claims.

Mr. Picou’s statements are nothing new. Essentially identical statements can be read on countless right wing sites and publications. It is notable that opponents of the Affordable Healthcare Law long ago stopped using Mr. Picou’s references because fact-checking organizations tore them to pieces.

But perhaps Mr. Picou and I should wait until the law actually starts next year before we predict its effect on healthcare.

We really won’t know for years what its true impact will be. The people will decide. That’s called democracy.


Dennis Tilly, Weatherford