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Monday, October 24, 2016

Barring a Christmas miracle that saves Sen. Mary Landrieu’s job, the Democratic disappearing act in the South is about to claim another casualty. The Republican tide, expected to net a new senator in Louisiana’s runoff election this weekend, brings to mind Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s rueful remark after he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “We have lost the South for a generation,” he reportedly said.

Johnson was right and then some. He forged ahead anyway, signing the Voting Rights Act the following year. But if Sen. Charles Schumer had been advising him, he might have called the whole thing off.

“To aim such a huge change … at such a small percentage of the electorate [makes] no political sense,” the New York Democrat might have told Johnson. “The average middle-class person” will think that “the Democrats are not paying attention to me.” Better to focus on jobs and wages, build a “permission structure,” and then get around to civil rights … sometime.

Those phrases are lifted from Schumer’s retrospective critique of the 2010 Affordable Care Act last month at the National Press Club. “We put all of our focus on the wrong problem,” he said last month. This is the crux of a years-long argument I’ve been having with a colleague who believes the ACA locked the Democrats into a lost political decade. It also echoes a conversation I had recently with pollster David Winston, a strategist for House and Senate Republicans, about immigration reform. It’s important, he said, but “given all the problems facing the country, is this what the public wants people here to be focused on?”

Let’s face it, there is never a good political moment to do anything that relatively few people care about, no matter how obvious or deep the need. The laws Johnson signed held direct benefits for only about 1 in 10 Americans — the black population at the time — while alienating many whites. The consequences included Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” tailored to the interests and biases of white Southerners, and a steady Democratic decline in the region. All 22 senators from the South in 1961-62 were Democrats. Now that number is six and appears likely to dip next year to three, all from the atypical Southern states of Florida and Virginia.

The Affordable Care Act has certainly contributed to Democratic misfortunes, in part by fueling Tea Party grievances. Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy in early 2010 in large part by pledging to block passage of the ACA. At town halls that year, angry constituents accosted members of Congress about socialism and death panels. Democrats were decimated at every level in 2010, just in time for GOP-run states to lock in new House district maps that maximized their grip on Congress until the 2020 Census. Obama’s approval rating sagged and Democrats endured another across-the-board wipeout in 2014.

But is it fair to blame the ACA for all of that? In 2009, more than a year before its passage, Tea Party activists were already staging protests against the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the bank bailout signed by George W. Bush, and the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package signed by President Obama. In 2010, at a nominating convention in Salt Lake City held after passage of both the stimulus and the ACA, they ousted conservative Republican Sen. Bob Bennett over his vote for TARP.

The larger picture also came into play. Obama took office just when government had to grow in response to the financial collapse, both automatically through entitlement programs like food stamps and unemployment benefits, and proactively with measures like the auto bailout (initiated by Bush, enlarged by Obama) and the stimulus. All of this was anathema to small-government partisans.

In short, there was plenty to incite the Tea Party before the ACA made the scene. Schumer in fact undercut his political case against the ACA and for more stimulus-type bills by noting that Republicans — ignoring tax cuts and many other middle-class benefits in the stimulus — focused on about 5 percent of the money that went to pet projects. They framed the whole thing as “a taxpayer-funded giveaway to special interests,” he said.

Conservatives demonized health reform the same way, painting it as a job-killing socialist giveaway to the poor. Yet the law, with its protections against insurance company abuses and medical bankruptcy, and the freedom it gives people to change jobs, is a largely unrecognized boon to the middle class. For those previously uncovered, especially poor and low-income adults, it’s improving lives and even saving some.

Democrats have dreamed of mending the health care hole in the nation’s safety net for more than a half-century. They finally mustered the votes and will to get it done, and millions are better off for it. Some sacrifices are worth the pain.

Follow Jill Lawrence on Twitter @JillDLawrence. To find out more about Jill Lawrence and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a group of business leaders at the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C. on December 3, 2014. (AFP/Nicholas Kamm)

  • Lynda Groom

    Like any and all large government programs there is a start up phase that does not run perfectly. The ACA is no exception. Millions are now covered that rarely, if ever, had health care insurance. That has been made somehow into a bad thing by some. Clearly those are not the same folks who have benefited from the new insurance assistance program. For us there has been little change if any. We’ve had compliant insurance for decades and been paying into the system since the early 60’s. Like all of us I seen a landslide of articles and opinion pieces about the horrors of the ACA. However, we never actually met anyone who has been hurt by the new program. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson have been covered for the last year with a Gold Plan in California. That plan was the first one they could afford since the 90’s. It has lived up to their desires and expectations, and importantly is still affordable. I won’t pretend that our families experience is the norm, but for our extended family the administration won’t be getting any hate mail.

    • mike

      By 2024 there will still be 30 million without coverage. 42 changes, 24 by president, 16 by congress, 2 supreme court, before one person signed up.
      No, it is a disaster. There have been many people hurt by this law, sure there are some who love it, but why not? They are getting it for free. We still don’t know what is coming in 2015 with small businesses and all those parts of ACA pushed back to 2016-18.
      It was passed by lies and deception by one party who few even knew what was in it.
      And the country continues to grow at a very slow rate.

      • Dominick Vila

        It takes a lot of nerve for a member of the party responsible for a GDP growth rate of -0.3% in 2008, to say that a GDP that grew at 4.6% during the second quarter, and 3.9% during the third quarter of this year, to claim that the country is growing at a slow rate. If this is slow, what do you call the economic disaster President Obama inherited in January 2009?

        • mike

          It takes a lot of nerve for the member of the party that has given us 21 quarters of poor to slow growth to try to use the last 2 quarters to make a point. Year end could still be below 3%, and should know until we see 5% to 6% growth each year we are just treading water. We will wait and see.
          If the economy was so great what happen to the democratic base in 2014 mid-terms. It was the economy, stupid!!!!
          And after 2 decent quarters the American people feel it in their pocket books and now feel the country heading in right direction, Right?? Wrong, last poll now shows only 25% feel country going in right direction.
          Save your fake outrage for another day.
          Even Harkin and Schumer said democrats didn’t put the middle class as the top priority in 2009.

          • Dominick Vila

            Using the years it took us to recover from the economic malaise that President Obama inherited when he was inaugurated in 2009, aptly described by none other than George W. Bush who described it as “the U.S. economy is on the verge of collapse in 2008” is a sign of desperation on your part. Describing the current economic growth as slow, and that it should be above 5%, is beyond desperation, especially when we consider that the average GDP growth between 1947 and 2014 has been 3.27%.
            I got news for you, the latest survey indicates 53% of Americans now believe the U.S. economy is on the right track.
            What side of the fence are you going to be on when the GOP claims within the next few months that the economy is doing wonderfully thanks to them being in control of Congress?

          • mike

            Desperation!!!! Really!!! I don’t think so, hell I know I am not desperate.

            The desperation we are witnessing is the Democratic leadership waking up to the dilemma they face over the next 2 years and how they will position themselves for 2016 after making a mess of the last 6 years.

            Past recession recoveries have averaged 5%(except 2001), and that was my point. The higher the recovery the quicker we move forward on all areas.

            Try this:


            Real clear politics on Obama and economy 53.9 disapprove. I know you can show the poll you are using for your number.

            On the side when this country can breathe a sigh of relief from this nightmare.

            PS: growth is slow! I know you can show that this post recession is equal or better than those of the post. 2 quarters of good growth are meaningless in the overall picture.

          • Dominick Vila

            None of the recessions we had since the Great Depression was as deep as the one caused by irresponsible Republican fiscal and economic policies and, to the best of my knowledge, no President had to admit publicly that the U.S. economy was on the verge of collapse before George W. Bush had to do that to get the funding needed to bail out Wall Street and prevent the collapse of capitalism.
            The claim about 53% of Americans now believing that the U.S. economy is moving in the right direction was made by CNN.

          • GraceAdams830

            In the 1800s it was considered normal to have inflation and deflation around wars average out to 0 and for interest rates to be between 2% and 3% and for there to be growth because we were still in the process of settling newly conquered (from the Indians) territory. From when I came of age in the 1960’s, it seemed our government was juggling growth and inflation against each other trying to get at least somewhat more growth than inflation. The 1980s we had stagflation with growth somewhat lagging inflation. I am leary of the Fed putting too much cash into the economy for fear of inflation. I guess what led to the housing bubble bursting in 2006 was too much loosening of banking regulations. Bank of America, J P Morgan Chase, and the insurance firm AIG all got into trouble taking too much risk (gambling) with money belonging to depositors rather than the bank. Most smaller banks had less hubris and more good common sense and stayed out of trouble. Even before 2006, I tried to avoid big banks and stick with small banks because I feel small banks have somewhat more patience with small customers and big banks would rather have only big customers and despise small customers.

          • Dominick Vila

            I agree. The only thing I would add is that home buyers also contributed to the housing debacle we finally left behind. Deregulation was, indeed, the main culprit, but people have to learn to act responsibly and live within their means.

          • GraceAdams830

            Some of the home buyers were lied to by banks about their credit worthiness for buying a home. Most of the poor did not get a decent education in K12, and so can not understand consumer credit issues. And lets face it, the poor usually have less on the ball than those better off. Yes, everybody should learn to live within their means. But it is far from easy for anyone to live on much less than a so-called living wage. Back in 1776 when Adam Smith wrote Wealth of Nations, he believed that the natural minimum wage was what a man needed to support a wife and two children barely adequately. These days, two full time (40-hour week, 2,000 hour work year) jobs are barely enough to support two adults and two children. One full time job is NOT enough to support a single person household. That means that single minimum wage earners need to pair off as room mates to share expenses in order to stand any chance of managing on the minimum wage. And forget about single mothers trying to raise even one child on a minimum wage job.
            I told a man recently told a man retired from being head of the Windham Housing Authority (managing low-income housing owned by the town) about the Knights of Malta lobbying the Connecticut state legislature for prison reform. They want to replace fixed length prison sentences with indeterminate sentences such that a convict has to: 1) accept treatment for any mental health or substance abuse issues, (they want to remodel one prison into a public psychiatric hospital, one into a public treatment center for alcoholics, one into a public treatment center for drug addicts), 2) prove that they are both literate and numerate at 5th grade level, 3) prepare for and pass the GED exam, 4) complete a vocational training course leading to a minimum wage job to which they will be bused 5 days a week, 5) live in halfway house while being bused to the job they got trained for, with 1/3 of wages to go for room 1/3 for board, 1/3 to first pay off whatever debt they are in and then to build up a nest egg for when they can get their own housing. He said that it sounded like what we had in the late 1800s and early 1900s complete with a poorhouse and that it would be considerable improvement over what we have now. For many of those in the bottom half economically, living in a poorhouse or halfway house like that would be an improvement. I also told one of the clients of the No Freeze shelter (open only from 8pm to 8am and only from November 1 to March 31) about what the Knights of Malta are lobbying for. He also thought it was an improvement over his experience. He had been in prison over a drug conviction (as addict NOT pusher).

          • bckrd1

            Not to mention the loans they were put in were predatory and were designed to fail by the bank.

          • mike

            My contention is and always has been that the economy was not Obama’s top priority, and it has cost his party dearly.
            Come on Dom, you make these statements but when asked to produce the poll, you give nothing. I checked the CNN polls and there is nothing as you claim.
            Produce the poll and shut me up.

          • bckrd1

            They are already backdating the evidence of the miraculous improvement to Nov. 5th 2014. Just knowing they were in charge made the economy pop.

          • Dominick Vila

            The real reason they are toning down the rhetoric on the economy is because shortly after they assume full control of Congress they will take credit for the economic growth and stability that should be evident to everyone. I expect them to claim some mysterious changes that prevented to slide to socialism and turned the economy is the right direction. Will people remember that the DOW Index is approaching an all time record of 18,000 points? That our GDP is as solid as it has ever been? That unemployment is steadily going down, and that good paying jobs are being created? That credit is being extended, inflation is low, interest rates are low, consumer confidence and spending are up, and the deficits have been reduced by two thirds among other positive economic indicators? I doubt it. They will listen to whatever the GOP misinformation strategists tell them, and will vote against their interests once again, unless the DNC wakes up and starts highlighting the contrast between the horrendous GOP record and the realities of today.

          • bckrd1

            How do you make with typing these ridiculous comments with such “facts”? You get get from Faux Lies? I pity your willful ignorance.

            Tell you what though. I will be a generous spirit and wish you get all you think you have coming. I hope you personally get everything you so deserve from the upcoming GOP congress. You have truly earned it.

          • mike

            Lying?? Really!!! Ignorance!!! How funny!!
            The lackluster average annual gain of the GDP since Obama took office has been near 2%. that is a fact. The 1st quarter for 2014 was -2.1%, 2nd 4.6%, 3rd 3.9%., and you think that economy is robust.
            Yes, we had good employment numbers for November and I hope it continues, but to say the economy is strong is plain baloney. It is still weak and we will see if these numbers hold. And if they continue, well it’s about time!!!!
            And you probably believe that the unemployment number 5.8% is a good number, Right??? LOL!!!!

      • Lynda Groom

        Again like any large ‘new’ program there are bugs that require fixing. There is no valid reason why our Congress could not be fixing the obivous problems. There is nothing that keeps Congress from expanding the program to include many of the 30 million you are so concerned about. Well of course politically driven agenda is holdling back progress on the front.

        However, before claiming that the ACA is a disaster a few facts should be taken into account. One: Where is the soaring health care cost that was suppose to happen under the ACA? The growth of increase in health care spending was 3.6%–the lowest annual growth rate since 1960.

        ‘On Wednesday, actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their annual estimate of national health expenditures–that is, all the money that Americans spent on medical care last year, whether directly or thourgh insurance plans and government programs like Medicare…In 2013, CMS announced, national health speding was 17.4% of GDP. What’s important is how that fraction of change. CMS now believes that health care has held steady at that same level (17.4% of GDP) for five years.’

        In the first two weeks of open enrollment, the DHS said Wednesday ‘out of the total applications submitted, about 750K plans have already been picked.’

        The rate of uninsured non-elderly has dropped by more than 10 million since the launch of the state and federal exchanges last year, according to the Urban Institututes Health Reform Monitoring Survey..

        The uninsured rate nationwide was 12.4% in Sept, down roughtly 30% from 17.5% a year earlier. In non-expansion states, the unisured rate has dropped from 20.1% to 15.1% over last year. In Medicaid adopted expansion states, the uninsured rate dropped from 15% to 10.2% since the launch of the exchanges.

        Lastly you’ve tried to conflate the economic growth of the country to the ACA. It must be pointed out that America, as well as the rest of the world, is still in recovery from the 2nd worst economic collapse in a century. As compared to the rest of our economic competitor nations, and allies, we’ve done very well. Europe is a basket case along with Japan and others. Our numbers are growing. Indeed not as much as we would all like…but going in the correct direction.

        • mike

          What you seem to miss is that the 30 million was the original CBO numbers when the law was passed. CBO Feb. 2014 page 107. Titled: Budget and economic outlook 2014-2024 reaffirms this.

          ACA premiums, co pays, out of pocket have gone up. You have selective memory about Obama’s $2500 savings. The bill was passed on lies and deception and no choice(one size fits all).
          HHS head said that 7.1 million had signed up in 2014 but that included Dental, so once again the “most transparent administration ever” has cooked the books again.
          Yes, more are being covered but the majority are signing up under medicaid-free.
          We now see EEOC has law suits against corporations because they were trying to conform to ACA.
          No, it is a poorly written, poorly implemented, and will increase debt in long run. When has a govt. program ever cost less?? Just look at VA to see what we are in store for.
          If ACA is so great why has govt. lowered the projected enrollment for 2015 by 30%?
          What about SCOTUS and its decision on subsidies? We will wait and see.

          • Lynda Groom

            You are correct. The administration should not have counted the 700K who signed up for dental plans as part of ObamaCare. That still leaves about 6 million plus who did. So you believe that is not a good thing? Oh my.

      • Allan Richardson

        The states in which the largest part of the population NEEDS the benefits of insurance coverage are actively FIGHTING the expansion of coverage for ideological reasons: the ideology which says if you are poor you do not have the right to be helped to stay alive and have a healthy, fulfilling life.

        The only “job killing” is in the FUNERAL industry. But the police seem to be working on filling the gap in demand and saving those jobs.

        • mike

          As usual, your remarks show the ignorance, stupidity, and identity of a real ideologue. Such horse manure.

        • Dominick Vila

          Bear in mind that some of the Republicans that are fighting Obamacare are doing it because they prefer the Emergency Room communist freebies! Who knows, maybe that’s why they call themselves reds…

      • bckrd1

        you sound like a Koch shill.

        • mike

          And you sound like a Soros shill!!!
          What you can’t prove is that I am wrong.

  • Dominick Vila

    Obamacare did hurt us politically, but it made us stronger as a nation. The former healthcare program was unsustainable, both in terms of cost and because of insurance company clauses that went as far as denying American citizens medical care because of pre-existing conditions, and forced millions to sell everything they had to stay alive.
    Like every other social program, the initial version of the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect. Changes must be made to make it more efficient and cost effective, as we learn more about its strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, its worst problem, the fact that it is administered by for profit insurance companies, is not going to go away, and will remain a burden on a program that is desperately needed and that is already helping millions of Americans get preventive medical care, often for the first time in their lives.
    The Republican efforts to repeal it have more to do with the need to deny President Obama his legacy, and score political points by exploiting the naivete of the American public, than ideology. Let’s not forget that the ACA concept is the brainchild of The Heritage Foundation, one of the most conservative think tanks in the country, and that the ACA structure is designed to benefit insurance companies by increasing their customer pool, and transferring public funds to the private sector. The claims of socialism, when applied to a government program run by for profit insurance companies, private practice medical professionals, and for profit hospitals and labs, is classic Republican campaign disinformation…and it proved to be a very effective strategy this midterm election.

    • mike

      “Stronger nation”, Baloney!!!
      The problem is it was passed by representatives that did not know what was in the bill. The Administration lied and used deception to get it passed. Yes, there are a few redeeming parts to it but overall it is a disaster. It was going to cost less, saving money for all, access to existing care, lower the debt/deficit, which all turned out to be wrong. The lies about total enrollment has now been uncovered. The rolling out of it proved to the American people that big govt. is not their friend.
      Dom, ACA is not like that proposed by Heritage Foundation and you know it. So stop the lying. Nice try with “concept”.
      Obama’s legacy is already tarnished by his actions. He is no longer trusted, admired by the majority of people. His poll numbers and past election make that quite evident.
      If you remember ACA was barely mentioned during the mid-term, it was accumulation of Obama policies and actions that caused the continued massive loses over the 2010 and 2014 mid-terms.
      No, it was a poorly written law, poorly implemented. Perfect example of this is the EEOC lawsuits against corporations and their wellness programs under ACA.
      We now see Sen.Harkin(ret) is in agreement with Schumer.
      This country is not stronger and actually reeling under this Administration. We now find that the IRS turned over to the WH thousands of pages of documents on private citizens, but there isn’t a smidgen of corruption in the IRS or his administration.


      • Lynda Groom

        Indeed the Heritage Foundation and what finally became Romney/ObamaCare programs have differences. For one Heritiage’s was not a bill, but a working model being proposed as a possible solution.

        Stuart Butler in the Foundation back in 1989 ‘Assuring Affordable Health Care Insurance for All Americans. In part; ‘the fundamental defects of the existing system and the serious flaws in most solutions to the problem of uninsurance has led The Heritage Foundation to propose a national health system based on very different foundations. Development in detail in a new monograph. A National Health System for America, the Heritage plan aims at achieving four related objectives.’

        ‘All citizens should be guaranteed universal access to affordable health care.’ A couple of pages down in continues:

        2) ‘Mandate all households to obtain adequate insurance.’

        ‘Many states now required passengers in automobiles to wear seat belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state required all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serior accident or illness. Under the Heritiage plan, there would be such requirements.

        ‘The mandate is based on two important principles. First, that health care protection is a responsibility of individuals, not businesses. Thus to the extent that anybody should be required to provide coverage to a family, the household mandate assumes that it is the family that carries the first responsibility. Second, it assumes that there is an implicit contract between household and society, based on the notion that health insurance is not like other forms of insurance protection. If a young man weeks his Porsche and has not had the foresight to obtain insurance, we may commiserate but society feels no obligation to repair his car. But health care is different. If a man is struck down by a heart attack in the street, Americans will care for him whether or not he has insurance. If we find that he has spent his money on other things rather than insurance, we may be angry but we will not deny his services–even if that means more prudent citizens end up paying the tab.’

        ‘A mandate on individuals recognizes this implicit contract. Society does feel a moral obligation to insure that its citizens do not suffer from the unavilability of health care. But on the other hand, each household has the obligation, to the extent it is able, to avoid placing demands on society by protecting itself.’

        It is also a good idea to look to 1993 when Senator Chafee, a republican from Rhode Island who was point man on a bill he introduced ‘Health Equity and Access Reform Today.’ Here are some of the features Chafee’s bill included.

        ‘An individual mandate; creation of purchasing pools, standardized benefits, vouchers for the poor to buy insurance and a ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition.’

        Agreed the Republican plan did not expand Medicaid as the ACA does, but surely you seen the seeds that became Romney/ObamaCare programs in the next decades.

        • mike

          I never said it was a bill!!! But the left always uses as their talking point that “gee, this is a republican idea”. Idea yes but nothing like this massive take over of the health system.

          As to Romneycare, what is not talked about is the 1/2 trillion that Kennedy got from the Fed. govt.. for the state.

          You conveniently leave out insurance across state lines in the heritage idea. Less competition, lower cost.

          I seems you ignore the tort reform, more than one bill by republicans in house and senate, Chafees bill never became a full blown bill or was voted on, which you conveniently ignore.

          Since you love Butler as a source, enjoy this one.

          • Lynda Groom

            You are certainly not well informed about tort reform. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that Texas passed a form of it in 2003. So far there is zippo evidence that it lowered the cost of health care in that state. BTW, here is a list of the many states that have passed limits on non-economic damages ranging from $250k to $750K.

            New Mexico
            North Dakota
            South Dakota
            West Virgina

          • mike

            So if it is not necessary, why have the democrats refused to include it in the law. Pretty simple question for you to answer. Let me help you, Trial lawyers!!!
            You gave me 24, where are the other 26 states?? Since 26 states are missing you would think it would have been included. Also, how many states have had their laws challenged for its constitutionality?
            You also didn’t designate which states have passed a umbrella cap on all forms of compensation in medical malpractice cases.
            Again, why not have it in the law? Oh, could it be the millions in campaigns contributions the trial lawyers have given the democrats.

            Read the whole article. Especially the paragraph about page 892 in the law. Nice try though!!!



          • Lynda Groom

            The fact that 26 states have yet to pass such legislation is not the question now is it. The problem with tort reform is that it is just a low flying canard designed to distract the ill informed of the reality and reason for the attempts of implementation. The medical malpractice problem is on operating tables, not in court rooms. The Senate bill proposes to deal with this in Section 6801, which encourages states to develop new malpractice systems and sugges that Congress fund the most promising experiments. The GOP expressed a preference for letting states ‘create their own innovative reforms that lower health care costs.’ The problem that has presented itself is that so-called tort reform has had no measurable effect upon health care costs….certainly it has not lowered cost, which is one of the often hyped selling points.

          • Lynda Groom

            Sorry you asked a good question that I did not address in my previous remarks. You ask ‘again, why not have it in the law?’ That was concerning tort reform not being in the ACA. I will let the words of Tom Baker, professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and author of ‘The Medical Malpractice Myth’ reply for me. He has made it clear that making the legal system less receptive to medical malpractice lawsuits will not significantly affect the cost of medical care.

            He was asked after the appearance of Senators Orrin Hatch and John Kerry on ‘This Week with George Stephanopoulos’ back in August of 2009 questions regarding the comments of the Senators.

            Question: ‘A lot of people seem to have taken up the cause of tort reform. Why isn’t it included in the health care legislation pending on Capitol Hill?

            ‘Because it’s a red herring. It’s become a talking point for those who want to obstruct change. But (tort reform) doesn’t accomplish the goal of bringing down costs’ said Mr. Baker.

            Also of interest is the letter from the CBO dated October 9, 2009 to Senator Orrin Hatch that explained their scoring of ‘tort-reform.’ Entitled ‘The Effects of Tort Reform on Total Health Care Spending and the Federal Budget.’

            ‘CBO now estimates, on the basis of a analysis incorporating the results of recent research, that if a package of proposals as those describe above (the GOP tort idea) was enacted, it would reduce total national health care spending by 0.5%.’ The letter was signed by Douglas Elmendorf, Director of CBO.

            It is pretty clear that all the hype about tort-reform reducing measurably health care cost is just a red herring to use the words of Mr. Baker. There are certainly far better proposals that will actually bring about cost controls and the lowering of the cost curve. Perhaps we should be looking into those and putting aside those proven to not accomplish their claimed objective.

          • mike

            My my you are so busy!!!
            Will reply tomorrow, headed to Christmas party.
            Have a good evening.

          • mike

            I have responded to you but it seem NM has put it and 7 other post in pending mode. Not sure this one you will see either. I have contacted NM twice, one on the first 6 and now this one. I don’t want to accuse them of controlling speech but this has been going on now for 2 years.
            We will wait and see.

          • Lynda Groom

            I see no reason to continue with this exchange. I’m sorry that you seem to be having trouble with your latest attempt. Let it go.

            It is obvious that we see things from a different point of view and that’s fine. There was a great quote from Edmund Wilson in the The Indianapolis Star newspaper that sums up our exchanges very well.

            ‘No two persons ever read the same book.’ I believe the idea contained within those words applies here. I hope you and yours enjoy the holiday season.

          • mike

            And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!!!
            I am surprised at your comment because you seemed to keep things in perspective better than most on this site, so if that is your wish that is fine. Quite frankly I am not surprised that the left only wants to hear themselves and only themselves.
            Last night I realized I had missed your response on “across state lines” while trying to figure out why no response from you, so this morning I was ready to respond by showing it is very possible with just a little tweaking. SImplified: One half US population is subject to federal in lieu of state regulations, such as PPACA, HIPAA, ERISA, so to start the possibility of across state lines all that is required is reform at the federal level. Will it be easy? probably not, but it is possible. Oh, there’s more, but I abide by your decision.
            Wilson also said: “Marxism is the opium of the intellectuals. ”
            Merry Christmas!!!!

          • bckrd1

            It is a red herring the GOP likes to use. It only harms innocent people and lets the perp off the hook and back to business harming someone else.

          • Lynda Groom

            If you wish to discuss the selling of insurance over state lines perhaps you should look into the ACA itself.

            Back during process of crafting the ACA the Senate health-care bill included a compromise with the conservatives for insurance regulation. It was contained in Section 1333, which allows the formation of interstate compacts. Under the provision, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Idaho (as example) could agree to allow insurers based in any of those states to sell plans in all. The catch would be that each state would have to comfortable with the regulations of the others. Note, even Rep Ryan believes that the policies have to have a minimum level of benefits.

            What restricts insurers from selling policies across their own state lines? States have regulatory authority over insurance. The result being, insurers are allowed to sell policies where they are licensed to do so. Most of them obtain licenses in multiple states. States have different laws regulating benefits, consumer protection and solvency requirement.

            It is a fact that the new health care law allows sales of insurance across state lines, but it happens only if insurers adhere to stricter regulation. According to the Urban Institute, a think tank, the law requires that all states to comply with a minimum level of insurance regulation, and cross state sales would not be permitted in a state unless that state joined a compact with one or more states. That is indeed part of the ACA.

            States have the policies that they think they need. The states want to have an insurance market based upon what is perceived to be in the best interest of their citizens. The business savy insurers find ways to comply with the demands of the states, and find a way to be profitable in each market. It is the American way of doing business. Adapt or die!

            Right now there is nothing stopping any company from selling policies in every state. The just have to create policies within each state that comply with local laws. Unless of course you don’t believe that a state should have the right to decide for themselves what they can regulate. If so, you are telling the states ‘they can’t set any standards for themselves.’

            Back in 2005 the CBO was asked to ‘score’ the possibility that an insurer in a state with weak laws could sell their inferior product elsewhere ,and what would be the effect. They found that perhaps such legislation would lower the cost of health insurance by 5%, but with significant problems.

            It found that such policies sold ‘across state lines’ that companies would swoop in to ‘cherry-pick’ the healthest customers in other states with cheeper policies, leaving higher-cost customers to buy from in-state providers. That in turn would jack up th cost of the in-state policies forcing many other to turn to Medicaid instead, increasing the number of folks relying government provided insurance.

            BTW, what makes you believe that having ‘less competition’ would result in ‘lower costs’ with the allowing of selling across state lines? Economic usually shows more competition leads to lower costs.

  • GraceAdams830

    I feel the ACA would be improved by just giving insurance firms a flat 10% commission for signing people up for insurance and having the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services run the rest of it–do all the claims handling etc. That way the insurance firms would get their money with hardly any risk and health care providers would have only the CMS to deal with for claims handling. Statistical analysis of all the records in the national electronic health care record system could mostly take care of post-approval follow-up on new drugs etc. Both doctor and drugstore should have matching records of any drugs prescribed.

    • Dominick Vila

      Letting the CMS administer the ACA is a great idea, which would result in large savings and greater efficiency, but I don’t think handing 10% to the insurance industry in exchange for them finding new ACA customers is a viable solution. The Federal government has to do a better job at advertising the many benefits of the ACA, from affordability to inclusiveness.

      • GraceAdams830

        It is impossible to cut off the too big to fail health insurance firms for the same reason they had to be included in the ACA to begin with. They are RULING CLASS and need to be showered with MONEY because they are RULING CLASS. The USA is a Fascist state and a plutocracy. Fat cats rule. Scrawny cats do not like going hungry much of the time because the fat cats made off with their pittance, but those fat cats are RULING CLASS and must be catered to.

        • Dominick Vila

          What the fact cats don’t know, or ignore, is that without the scrawny cats they would go out of business.

          • GraceAdams830

            Unfortunately, our ruling class seem to believe they would be better off if the bottom half of the socioeconomic heap were exterminated. The ruling class is more like 0.1% than 1%, but they would like more space and American labor replaced by less-developed nation labor and robots as much as possible and more upscale products to consume themselves and or sell to the remaining top half of the socioeconomic heap. I am poor enough that I got Medicaid for my supplementary insurance to Medicare out of the ACA. With the bottom half exterminated, the ruling class would prey on those now between median income and 75% percentile rank instead of the bottom 50%. The ACA actually is an improvement for most of those in the bottom half and even for those in the middle half, but still tribute must be paid to the ruling class.

          • Dominick Vila

            Nobody has expressed that sentiment more eloquently than Mitt Romney, who acknowledged that he was not planning to waste his valuable time on the problems afflicting 47% of Americans! Incredibly, millions of Americans, including many of those he dismissed as “takers” voted for him! Is it ignorance, extreme ideology, or masochism?

          • GraceAdams830

            In my case, it is that I agree with Machiavelli that it is better to see the world as it is than to assume that it is the way it is supposed to be. I have done some back office clerical work for an anti-poverty non-profit and got at least a second hand look at the poor and their problems. I sympathize with the poor and wish it were possible improve the lot of the bottom 20%–more than I sympathize with the Occupy Willimantic members who temporarily lost their middle class status in the 2008 crash (they lost jobs rather than losing money in the stock market crash). I voted for Jill Stein in 2012 because I was a bit sore at Obama over global warming–but I was glad Obama won because he was a lesser evil than Mitt Romney and Jill Stein as a third party candidate had no chance of winning. I was born to middle class parents (my father taught microbiology at NYU Medical School). I did not find out that I have Asperger’s until I was in my early 60s, but suspect it probably has a lot to do with why I have NOT been successful at earning a living. My best job was a half-time clerical job as a Senior Aide in the Senior Community Service Employment Program funded by the federal government and administered by Easter Seals where I was placed doing back office clerical work for an anti-poverty agency.

  • HowardBrazee

    It’s never been about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act, which was written by Big Business, and isn’t very different from what Romney supported. It’s always been about the Republicans vs. President Obama.

    • howa4x

      It is a republican plan

  • howa4x

    If democrats stood their ground and fought the tea party from the start instead of running away. The ACA wouldn’t have been an issue.
    They got no support because of their weakness

  • Whatmeworry

    The tea party would have been far less a factor if only the Dem’s had taken on their main contributors in passing the ACA. Rather than eliminating trial lawyers from looting HC premiums Dem’s did nothing why? because trial lawyers are the single largest group that give to dem candidates.
    The $400B saved could have been used to reduce every ones premiums and make the system more responsive to real health needs

  • bckrd1

    The current health care cost before the ACA, was taking up to 18% of GDP and climbing very fast with less and less benefit to the insured. Should one actually need to use it they were denied and left to fight with the insurance company while fighting to stay alive.

    The real death panels of the Insurance companies was exactly why Obama got elected the 1st time. He promised to do something. He and the American people got thwarted by the politics and that is the biggest shame.

    That is why we need to continue to fix it. The insurance companies are
    still playing games. We need single payer sooner rather than later. As long as the GOP is in the Congress we will never get this addressed without blood on the streets. Theirs.

    Schumer should talk about the unprecedented GOP obstruction and name what was obstructed. The infrastructure, the ACA, extended long term benefits for the unemployed, food assistance, mortgage assistance, job training, renewable and alternative subsidies investments, equal rights under the law, equal pay, you name it they obstructed. The list is quite long. The GOP has done nothing for any working person except to make their lives a struggle. They are also about to get a bigger dose and oh, just in case you were too tired trying to survive, the GOP also killed a bill curtailing the militarization of our police forces all over the country. Isn’t that great? We can all have a Ferguson.

  • Carole Bradshaw

    Obama lied on March 6, 2010 when he claimed that his regime would not get in the way of the relationship between a families and doctors.

    • Independent1

      Absolutely NOT TRUE. It was the Health Insurance Companies that LIED!!

      When ACA was being developed, more than 1/2 a dozen CEOS from the leading Health Insurers met with Obama to talk about health care reform. After the meeting, not only the CEOs, but the head of the agency which coordinates all Health Insurers, promised Obama that they would do everything they could to comply with the new ACA legislation.

      Well guess what?? They LIED!! Obama made the comment about “if you like your insurance plan and doctor you can keep them” for at least 2 reasons) 1) because he took these CEOs on their word – and obvious mistake and 2) because ACA does in fact include a clause that GRANDFATHERS existing policies into ACA: MEANING that there was no reason for insurance companies to cancel their existing plans and to commit fraud by trying to con their insureds into buying new, more expensive policies which may not maintain the same doctors.. Which is EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID!!

      Not only did insurers INTENTIONALLY cancel existing policies THEY DIDN’T HAVE TO; in the process, the majority of them INTENTIONALLY neglected to point out to their insureds TWO THINGS; 1) you don’t need to change your policy, under ACA you could keep it if you like and 2) they neglected to let millions of insureds know that instead of being conned into buying this more expensive policy from them – they could go on an ACA exchange and find a new cheaper policy.

      SORRY!! BUT OBAMA DID NOT LIE!! Actually, he did pretty well in not OUTING THESE CEOS AS BEING THE ACTUAL LIARS!!!!!!

    • Independent1

      Seeing as how you seem upset by what you think was Obama lying, I’m assuming you’re not an Obamacare, ACA fan.

      So here’s a news article that may help you like it:

      From Kaiser Permanente:

      More Competition Helps Restrain Premiums In Federal Health Marketplace

      By Jordan Rau and Julie Appleby December 1, 2014

      A surge in health insurer competition appears to be helping restrain premium increases in hundreds of counties next year, with prices dropping in many places where newcomers are offering the least expensive plans, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of federal premium records.

      “They are moving in where they see an overpriced area,” said Gerard Anderson, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University.

      In the federal marketplaces, the average county premium for the cheapest silver plan is rising 3 percent, from $266 to $273. But it is the inverse in counties where a new carrier is offering the cheapest plan. In those counties, premiums had been high, averaging $284, but they are dropping by an average of 3 percent, bringing them in line with the national average, the analysis found.

      In Clark and Harrison counties in southern Indiana, where only one insurer offered coverage this year, four more are jumping in. Monthly premiums for the cheapest silver plan are decreasing by 25 percent, with 40-year-olds paying $197 for the Ambetter plan from a Medicaid-managed care company, MHS.

      KHN looked at premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan for a 40-year-old in 34 states where the federal government is running marketplaces for people who do not get coverage through their employers. Consumers have until Feb. 15 to enroll for coverage in 2015, the marketplace’s second year.

      The number of insurers offering silver plans, the most popular type of plan in 2014, is increasing in two-thirds of counties, according to the analysis. In counties that are adding at least one insurer next year, premiums for the least expensive silver plan are rising 1 percent on average. Where the number of insurers is not changing, premiums are growing 7 percent on average.

      If you’re interested in more on this, here’s the link:

    • Independent1

      And maybe the fact that Obamacare has already saved about 50,000 lives will help you feel a little bit less bad about it:

      Obama’s plan to reduce hospital errors is working — and it’s saved 50,000 lives

      Hospitals are meant to save lives — but they can too often be deadly places to spend time.

      From the infections patients get when they stay in the hospital (which kill about 75,000 peopleannually) to medical mistakes (surgeons left an impressive 4,857 items in patients over the last two decades), hospitals are places where lots can go wrong.

      But hospitals are, just slightly, starting to get better at getting things right. A new federal report shows that improvements in hospital care saved 50,000 lives between 2010 and 2013, all by doing better at not making patients sick.

      It’s quite a good article on how reducing readmission rates is really helping save lives across America (especially in states that are promoting ACA. Here’s the link:

  • Real Flavors

    Why do democrats insist on forcing Americans to buy something?