Fear Mongering Aside, Jason Lewis Wants To Own Healthcare Reform

Minnesota’s Second District Congressman Jason Lewis has responded to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis warning to “Minnesota’s Republican House Members (including me) that they would have ‘ownership’ of any ill-fated plans to overturn Obamacare” concluding that his position may “not please a few editorial writers on the left, but it’s one that puts my constituents first and that I’m happy to “own.”

The Lewis OpEd includes an attack on “Senate’s capitulation” forced by a “few wayward Republicans” –hmmm … hey, if the Senate isn’t doing it’s job, then why doesn’t Jason Lewis challenge Amy Klobuchar in 2018 and become the next “Giant of the Senate” ? Heck, he’s already got his campaign slogan — “If there’s anything the health care debate tells us, it’s that Washington is still dysfunctional”.
Gosh, should he have said “it’s that Republicans are still dysfunctional”?

Congressman Lewis warns of a “dangerous drift towards a government-run health single-payer system.”
Adding just a little bit of fear mongering

According to a recent survey of 800,000 in Britain, wait times under the National Health Service are so long that an estimated one million patients per week cannot get in to see their GP.

Hmmm … one million patients per week … that is a big number … heck, let’s just call that a scary number … its more people than live in the Second District.

But let’s put that into perspective … the population that the UK NHS cares for is an estimated 64.6 million as the NHS deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours.

The NHS survey findings :

As the NHS treats more patients than ever before, a new nationwide survey shows the majority of people are positive about their GP care – with almost 85 per cent rating their overall experience of their GP surgery as good.

The GP Patient Survey 2017 compiled responses from more than 800,000 people across the country on their experience of healthcare services provided by GP surgeries, including access to GPs, making appointments, the quality of care received from GPs and practice nurses, satisfaction with opening hours and out-of-hours NHS services.

The majority of patients (84.3%) say they were able to get an appointment the last time they tried

Funny thing is that Congressman Lewis does not cite any source for the “one million patients per week” assertion … but it is not easily found in the report — but let’s remember he did say “an estimated one million patients”.

Yet, let’s accept the assertion and ask : why is there a wait time problem ?
Simple answer … like in America, the UK has an ageing population where there are one million more people over the age of 65 than five years ago.

And according to Dr Arvind Madan, director of primary care for NHS England, said: “General practice is the foundation of the NHS and this survey shows patients appreciate the fantastic job GPs and the wider primary care work force are doing in times of real pressure with more patients having increasingly complex conditions.
Access to GPs is already expanding with 17 million people now able to get an appointment in the evening and at weekends, and everyone will be able to by March 2019.”

Hmmm … so they are addressing it … but how does America compare to the UK ?

In comparison with the healthcare systems of ten other countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and USA) the UK NHS was found to be the most impressive overall by the Commonwealth Fund in 2017.
Current health expenditure in the UK was 9.75 per cent of GDP in 2016. This compares to 17.21 per cent in America.
Current expenditure per capita (using the purchasing power parity) for the UK was $4,192 in 2016. This can be compared to $9,892 in the USA.
Life expectancy for English men in 2013-15 is 79.4 years; in 2014, life expectancy for American men was 76.4.
Life expectancy for English women in 2013-15: 83.1 years; life expectancy for American women was 81.2.

Gosh, Congressman Lewis fails to demand that America needs to do better.

Yeah, we got problems … but is the solution to go backwards ?

Congressman Lewis goes on to bemoan that “markets continue to deteriorate, health care costs continue their climb”.

Remember how it was before ObamaCare … clearly there were problems … and trending the wrong way …. uninsured adults were more likely than the insured to delay — or forego — needed medical care (and prescription drugs) due to cost. During 2004–2014, uninsured adults were 4–5 times more likely than those with private coverage, and 1½–3 times more likely than those with Medicaid, to report medical care and prescription access problems.
Between 2004 and 2014, the percentage of the population under age 65 with private health insurance obtained through the workplace declined from 64.0% to 56.8%.
ObamaCare brought value to insurance plans with essential health benefits, a focus on preventative care, and assurances that pre-existing conditions would not result in a denial by the insurance industry.
ObamaCare also impacted many employer plans with a focus on essential health benefits.
As far as the cost goes, let’s look at the employer pool (since the exchanges have subsidies which impacts the payments the policyholder makes.) In the decade before ObamaCare became law, their premiums rose at an average of 7.1 percent per year. And a July 1, 2017 post on The National Conference of State Legislature reports that “Annual premiums are up 3 percent from 2015“.
Hmmm … better value and premiums not rising as fast.

Will LewisCare make things better ?
Will emergency rooms usage increase ?
Will uncompensated care cause hospitals to charge more ?
Will insurance companies increase their profit margins ?
Will access in rural areas improve ?
Will you pay more ?

Lot’s of questions … and Jason Lewis wants to “own” it.

And he may continue to fear monger … but always remember to question his “facts” … because they may be true (or slanted).
For example, Congressman Lewis warns not to trust CBO numbers–“calculations that were off the mark by over 10 million in ACA coverage predictions”.
True … but selective … CBO predicting that the number of newly insured who would get their coverage by purchasing private insurance through the new exchanges would be 23 million while the actual is that 12.2 million people signed up for ObamaCare for 2017.
Congressman Lewis is correct … but selective … CBO predicted that millions of people would gain coverage, and millions did. CBO predicted that the number of nonelderly (under age 65) people lacking insurance would drop to 30 million in 2016. And that turned out to be pretty close. The actual number was 27.9 million during the first nine months of last year, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey. That’s a decline of 20.3 million since 2010. In percentage terms, CBO predicted 89 percent of the nonelderly would be covered by last year. CDC put the actual percentage at 89.7 percent.
Yes, the CBO “calculations that were off the mark by over 10 million” in ACA exchange participation but they were correct that people would gain coverage … so does that mean that more people were covered by employers or in policies outside of the exchanges ?

Perspective matters … for example, have you heard about the “bare” counties … the ones where insurance companies have pulled out.
Yep, it’s scary if you live in one of those counties … and true … yet based on the latest data, most of the 12 million people who got health insurance through Obamacare’s individual marketplaces will have the same number of companies to choose among next year as they did in 2017. Further, most marketplace enrollees had multiple insurance companies to choose for the 2017 plan year, and most will again in 2018. Yet there are about 12,000 people currently enrolled in marketplace plans in “bare” counties. Yes, 12,000 is a good size number … but that is spread across the entire 50 states … like Wisconsin which has one “bare” county — Menominee, and its 47 enrollees, who will be without marketplace options next year if no other insurer files there … which is the same situation for Ohio’s only “bare” county — Paulding County, which had 334 enrollees this year.
So, is it a surprise that an insurance company does not want to sell its product when the number of potential customers is so low ? Gosh, sure sounds like the problem that rural counties have in obtaining high-speed broadband doesn’t it (funny thing is that the Trump Administration wants to include high-speed broadband in their infrastructure program – wonder if Congressman Lewis will support that?)
[Quick question : If insurance companies will not enter certain counties, how does Congressman Lewis think that allowing insurance companies to sell across state borders will help those counties?]
Yes, perspective matters … but what is Congressman Lewis solution ?
Wanna bet that it is not H.R.676 – Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act.

OK … let’s summarize it … Congressman Lewis wants to “own” a plan that President Trump says the Republicans will not “own” … and President Trump, in a private meeting with Senate Republicans, called the Lewis-backed bill that the House passed “mean” … and apparently a “few wayward Republicans” must have agreed with President Trump.
Congressman Lewis warns his constituents not to trust the CBO while asserting that a British National Health Service study says one million patients per week cannot see their GP … except that figure can not be found in the report which actually states that the English people are generally satisfied — after all, they live longer and experience lower costs than we do … and they are expanding service hours and working on adding more medical professionals.
Congressman Lewis warns that markets continue to deteriorate, health care costs continue their climb … but that needs perspective.
At least he didn’t bring up that old talking point that “ObamaCare is a job killer” now that President Trump is claiming lower unemployment.

Yep, Congressman Lewis wants to “own” it … and he means it because he “puts my constituents first” … after all, the Lewis creed is straightforward — “I actually believe this stuff. I write things, I say things because I hold them near and dear.”

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