MN Republicans Awarded For Healthcare Leadership – Medicare Reform Up Next

QUERY : How much is a picture worth ?

Congresswoman Bachmann

April 26, 2012 – The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition of leaders of the nation’s premier health care companies and organizations, today honored Congresswoman Michele Bachmann as a “Champion of Healthcare Innovation”. HLC president Mary R. Grealy. “We’re grateful for Congresswoman Bachmann’s leadership, dedication and hard work in advancing the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of American healthcare.”

Congressman Cravaack

May 1, 2012 – The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition of leaders of the nation’s premier health care companies and organizations, honored U.S. Representative Chip Cravaack (MN) as “Champion of Healthcare Innovation” at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C. HLC president Mary R. Grealy. “We’re grateful for Congressman Cravaack’s leadership, dedication and hard work in advancing the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of American healthcare.”


Congressman Paulsen

May 1, 2012 – Erik Paulsen TWITTER – I was honored to receive the Healthcare Leadership Council’s “Champion of Healthcare Innovation” award.

The trio of Republicans must be proud of their recognition such that they issued press releases and tweets … but failed to tell their constituents who HLC is, and what HLC envisions.

HLC lobbies for relatively dramatic changes to the health care system, and they support Medicare reform proposals that increase the private sector’s role.
In September 2011 the Healthcare Leadership Council announced in a press release a plan that would lead the U.S. toward a complete corporate takeover of the Medicare program. The plan would gradually move Medicare beneficiaries into a privatized system by, in the words of the press release, creating“a new ‘Medicare Exchange’ in which private plans would compete on the basis of cost, quality and value.”
A former insurance industry PR executive-turned-consumer-advocate warned that the program was essentially Paul Ryan’s health care plan utilizing a voucher system, but executed in a slower fashion.

HLC is not a new player in the political world. HLC shares its vision for quality healthcare with Congress, through HLC staff briefings and events such as the HLC Innovations health fair which are well attended by Members (where they receive “awards”.)

And for those that do not get an “award“, HLC employs lobbyists who have been known to hold a fundraising event … for example to honor John Kline.

In 2009, at the height of the health care reform discussion that led up to the Affordable Care Act, Grealy’s organization spent $1.1 million on lobbying efforts. In the first four months of 2012, they spent $220,000.

Regarding the Medicare reform agenda, David Lipschutz, a policy attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, expressed a concern that the amount given to beneficiaries in the form of vouchers will not keep up with the costs of health care and health care inflation. In effect, health care costs will be passed on to the beneficiary.
Lipschutz also believes that claims that Medicare is bankrupt are grossly exaggerated.
It’s true that Medicare costs are increasing, because of the growing Medicare population, but the whole notion of Medicare going bankrupt is pretty misleading,” Lipschutz said. “Right now when people talk about bankruptcy and solvency, they’re talking about Medicare Part A, the Hospital Fund. It’s pretty healthy compared to where it’s been over the past decades.”
Lipschutz said that the projected date of insolvency has fluctuated anywhere between three years to 20 years, based on the health of the economy at the time the Medicare trustees release their annual report. Most recently, the trustees’ 2012 report projected that the exhaustion date (when the program won’t have enough money to pay all of its obligations) is 2024.
The important point to make is, say if everything stays the way it is now, at the point the trust fund can’t pay 100 percent of the costs, it will be paying something like 87 percent. It’s still covering the vast majority of the cost,” Lipschutz said. “The dangers are being overstated. There are things that can be done that would have much less impact on Medicare beneficiaries.”
Lipschutz said the organizations pushing premium support should let the Affordable Care Act show its full potential before resorting to measures that he said would harm beneficiaries.

Grealy said having the discussion about reform will probably be set aside until after the 2012 presidential election … but that does not mean that the HLC has not advocated strongly on repealing ObamaCare … most recently supporting Eric Paulsen’s Medical Device Tax Repeal.
On that issue, all four Minnesota Republicans voted for the repeal.

Although those pictures holding the “paper awards” may look nice on the wall, it’s the CASH that comes into the election campaigns that Minnesota Representatives may not want you to see them holding those campaign check… but, the Sunlight Foundation asks the question: Guess who’s giving to lawmaker trying to repeal tax on medical devices?

The Minnesota congressman leading the charge to repeal a medical device excise tax that is meant to generate a big chunk of funding for the health care reform law has taken the most campaign money from medical device manufacturers this election cycle.
Paulsen’s take so far this election cycle from the industry is more than double what he raised in his first race for Congress in 2008, which was nearly $26,000. Overall, since then, he’s collected more than $121,000.The congressman has hailed the legislation as a job-saving measure, meant to keep companies from laying off workers or “worse yet, close their doors altogether.”

Paulsen’s claims are bunk … purely political fear mongering.

Recognizing that no politicians on either side of the aisle want to be accused of being job killers, AdvaMed and its members have framed the push to repeal the device tax as a jobs and economic growth issue.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Harold Furchtgott-Roth wrote the report that Paulsen cites as a basis for job losses …yet Paulsen fails to promote that the report was paid for by the Medical Device industry.

Did anyone read the report ?
If so, then this statement should have caused a pause :
“It is impossible to predict exactly where losses in the medical device industry would occur as a result of the excise tax.”

Yet, they “suggest” a few possibilities:

Table 9 describes : “The tax would likely increase the after-tax prices to American consumers between .02% and 2.1% with most price increases around 1%.
Medical device demand would decline between $0.67 and $6.7 billion annually.
Industry employment should decline between 2,300 and 23,000
.”

Other possibilities :
if 15% of production were to migrate offshore as a result of the excise tax, U.S. industry employment would decline between 63,000 and 85,000″
But if 30% of production were to migrate offshore as a result of the excise tax, U.S. industry employment would decline between 125,052 and 146,218

That all presumes that there is some loss of demand … yet, with increased insurance coverage, isn’t it more likely that demand will increase ? (Think about it … you are a 50 year old whose high school football days are long behind and Medicare coverage is years away, would you be more likely to opt for a knee replacement surgery now if you had coverage through ObamaCare ?)

Somehow, the authors of the report conclude :
Under reasonable assumptions, the tax could result in job losses in excess of 43,000 and employment compensation losses in excess of $3.5 billion.”
That’s the fear mongering that Paulsen has used.

IMO, the author’s “Under reasonable assumptions” should be questioned which The Center for Budget Priorities did in their analysis
while Bloomberg did a review and found it to be questionable.

And even some companies acknowledge it is no big deal and when ObamaCare was originally enacted, Wanda Moebius, vice president of policy communications for the Advanced Medical Technology Assn. (AdvaMed), said. “While no tax is ideal, as passed in the House reconciliation legislation the device tax is now estimated at $20 billion, begins in 2013, is deductible from corporate taxes and is structured as a predictable excise tax.”
[Note : the tax dollars is over ten years … or essentially about $2 billion a year and represents the entire industry.]

A side comment : Remember that the healthcare reform legislation included a 10% tax on tanning bed salons which went into effect in 2010 for indoor tanning customers. and that was to be a “job killer” … have you walked by tanning salons and noticed empty waiting rooms … not me, everytime I walk by, it is full with folks going in and out all day. Despite the efforts from both the medical community and the federal government, tanning is as popular as ever. Three-fourths of salon owners say business has been steady despite the tax.
Now, if people are willing to pay a 10% tax to use a tanning bed, which I would describe as a personal choice without medical necessity … Now remember that the guy that played high school football and that “old knee” needs to be replaced at age 50, my guess is that he will be glad to pay an additional 2.3% for his Zimmer knee replacement (the tax is only on the device … not the doctor’s fee or hospital stay) now that ObamaCare will allow for him to get the operation now.

Lastly, Paulsen fails to acknowledge in the AdvaMed report that most manufactures will be passing this excise tax onto the customers, so there is no reason to think that there will be any job losses.

Now, the industry has found a number of politicians to give “awards” to … after the repeal of the Medicare Device Tax, these politicians will be moving on to reforming Medicare … we can only wonder what tales these politicians will be spreading during the November campaign … will they be looking out to help You or Corporate interests ?

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