- Health care costs rising
- Employers will opt out of providing health insurance benefits
- Employees will ante up more for health insurance.
- Unemployment, mortgage defaults and the number of the uninsured will all rise
- Insurance companies such as California's Anthem Blue Cross will try to raise rates by 39 percent
- States will find Medicaid patient rosters growing astronomically and will cut eligibility
- Yesterday Nicholas Kristof's op-ed in The New York Times was titled Do We Really Want the Status Quo on Health Care? (Yes, Nic, we do. It is the only way for the flames to grow to the point where folks in Congress are ready to abandon entrenched positions paid for by lobbyists. When your pants are on fire, most everyone looks for water rather than debating the flammability of the material.)
- Today Paul Krugman writes about California's Death Spiral referring to how insurance company rate increases are inevitable without reform.
Here's why the pressure on Medicaid might ultimately bring about reform:
- Medicaid enrollment is up by 3.3 million, a surge not seen since the earliest days of Medicaid in the late 1960s and it is going to get worse. This reflects unemployment; indeed it lags behind unemployment.
- States are cutting Medicaid coverage from everything from adult day care to the numbers of diapers supplied to the incontinent.
- States will slash further what Medicaid reimburses physicians; more and more physicians will opt out of Medicaid because it already means losing money. We'll have fewer primary care physicians to see Medicaid patients.
- More patients will wind up in emergency rooms which is the most expensive kind of primary care.
- The stimulus package Medicaid money which kept a band-aid on this crisis is running out.
Then comes President' Obamas Bipartisan Health Summit on February 25th--the timing could not be better! Mind you, this crisis has been brewing since before Nixon, but it will have reached a new height on February 25th (an easy prediction since the problem keeps growing every day).
I do have one suggestion Mr. President; just before your meeting on Feb 25th, make an executive decision to do away with the television cameras. (Really, we have heard enough from everyone at this point). Lock the doors. Get down to business. Don't let anyone out till you have a solution.
If you won't do that, then do nothing.
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