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not so grim

Not happy news yesterday, but something positive. I found a letter from my health insurance company and it informed me that the plan my employer is part of had failed to meet the PPACA’s requirement that 85% of healthcare premiums go to health improving medical expenditures. The plan had only spent 83.7% of the premiums collected, so a rebate of 1.3% was issued to my employer. The company can now decide whether to use that rebate towards next year’s insurance plan, or issue a rebate to the employees, or use that rebate to reduce our co-pays.

– For people who buy insurance through their employers, those rebates won’t come directly in the mail. They’ll first go to the employer, which decides how to distribute it. Employers who offer insurance can either send out individual checks to their employees, or put those rebates toward lowering future premium costs.

The employer could also use the rebates as a lump-sum reimbursement to the accounts that pay premiums, or spend it in other ways that “benefits its employees,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.  This can include lowering copays or adjusting cost-sharing to cut group insurance costs.

This is one of the smart things that the PPACA does.  Instead of that money disappearing into the insurance company ether and being used, say, for some guy’s swimming pool, the money comes back to the consumers, so we can use it for our own needs. It’s smart because this is what we should be looking to do to help improve healthcare in America, that money being spent towards coverage is being spent on health coverage. It is something that almost every other advanced first world nation has already been doing, whether by having the government involved directly in how the money is spent or by regulating the insurance companies which are doing business. But for a long time now, we haven’t had any real sort of efficiency check like that upon the health insurance companies — they were nearly opaque boxes that we tossed money into and had no substantive glimpse into what was happening with that money.

Meanwhile, for a bit of mind-bending cognitive wtf dissonance, consider Mitt Romney, the presidential candidate vowing to repeal Obamacare. Of course, Romney was the governor of Massachusetts when Romneycare was enacted into law, a law which mandates that Massachusetts residents buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Yeah, basically the PPACA was modeled after Romneycare, there are some differences in scale and scope, but they are basically the same. Romneycare was supposed to be Romney’s signature accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts, now he is running for president and threatening to repeal the legislation he helped to garner support for in Massachusetts.

But in today’s America, and to today’s Republicans, Obamacare is evil and must be repealed. And Mitt Romney, who has never met a principle he couldn’t waver on except for the principle of stuffing more money into his own pockets, now is opposed to Obamacare and opposed to his own gubernatorial legacy. Yet, on Romney’s bizarre foreign tour, he went to Israel and gave a speech where he praised the Israeli healthcare system — a system which mandates that all Israeli citizens should have healthcare coverage. Now it’s a week later and he’ll be back in the US, and telling us how we should get rid of a law that will bring coverage to 30 million Americans who currently don’t have coverage.  But remember, Mitt Romney is a guy who has no principles to stand upon except those which enrich his pockets. Mitt Romney is the guy whose horses have better healthcare than 30 million uninsured Americans and many insured Americans. Mitt Romney is the guy who extracts money out of American companies, carves them up like a butcher and sends the profits off to his overseas accounts where that money sits and does nothing for America.

And you know what? Do we really want a guy who did that being put in charge of the American government? The government of America is not venture capital firm or a business. Its job is not to generate profit, its job is to take care of the American people, our society, our infrastructure, to protect the rights of citizens, to promote the general welfare (not promote the welfare of the elite wealthy). A dystopic novel written about Romney as president would see him offshoring Americans to other countries to work in places without employee protections or minimum wages. He would probably sell off governmental departments to the highest bidder. He could do all that because it wouldn’t affect him in the slightest. He would still be fabulously wealthy and not have a single worry about bills to pay, about whether or not a doctor can see him about his health concerns.  He has no concept of everyday life in America, he doesn’t know it and he doesn’t care about it. All he’s cared about is pandering enough to a nearly insane Republican base that only loves themselves and consider well over half the country to not be American enough.
Rant over. I suppose it’s shit like this that weighs heavily on my mood these days. There’s lots of personal stuff too, but the political landscape of America is bizarre and frightening. The Republican party has spent 40 years courting the crazy bloc, and the crazy bloc is taking over. It’s hard to sleep at night knowing that they might have some chance of winning in November.

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