Open Phones: Health Care Press Conference

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tonight President Obama is holding a prime-time press conference in which he is expected to make his case for health care reform. If you could ask the President a question about health care, what would it be? Comment below! During the Obama Press Conference Tonight, Brian Will Be Hosting An Online Chat. Find Out How to Participate Here!

Comments [39]

Alison from 10034

I know this is late...wish I could join the chat tonight, but no internet access at home :(

Here are a few question from someone who will fit into one of the subsidized tiers (income below 400% Federal Poverty Limit...)

1. Why is "affordability" for either "creditable" employer-provided health care, or other approved private plans calculated WITHOUT reference to out-of-pocket expenses, only premiums? For a 2-person family, the $10,000 OOP limit would represent MORE THAN 50% of gross income at 133% FPL! For me, a $5,000 individual limit would be nearly 23% of my total income.

2. For those 300% of FPL and above, cost-sharing is capped between 22-30% of what they call "actuarial value" of the coverage. (Note on actuarial value: A typical NYC unionized employee plan with Rx is worth $6600 per couple. Medicare w/o Rx is about $5620).
Translation: deductibles around $2000 per year. Combined with premiums, which are capped for these tiers at 10-11% of total income, someone could pay as much as $4000 a year BEFORE THE PLAN COVERS ANY CARE--except preventive. Why so high? Standard plans for Federal employees usually have 13-15% cost-sharing.

In short, in this bill the uninsured who happen to be working poor are to be the jam for the insurance companies, coating the bitter pill of reforming their Medicare and Medicaid billing practices. Basically, we are being thrown under the bus, so the government can gain control over runaway spending in these programs.

The only hope in saving this bill would be STRONG language allowing "modified adjusted gross income" to include deductions for mortgage, rent, education costs, etc...

Otherwise with the mandate to buy coverage, it is simply a tax on the poor.

Jul. 22 2009 05:55 PM
hjs from 11211

when one makes crazy statements one should give a source, not tell others to go look to prove his crazy ideas are real and not because he forgot to take his pills today.

Jul. 22 2009 12:52 PM

-- what is the incentive for private sector health insurance companies to provide quality service?

in most businesses companies treat their customers well to get repeat business. if i'm unhappy with hertz i'll go to avis next time. but if health care customers tend to get more expensive as they age does that make them less desirable customers? do health insurance firms want their repeat business or are they happy to collect premiums until customers start getting expensive and hope they take their business elsewhere?

if this is in fact a problem, can the incentives be changed?

Jul. 22 2009 12:46 PM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA


Did you go to those you-tube items? What do you think? Have you googled the issue? Did you know that for generations Hawaii (as a territory and a state) has been a major sieve for illegal aliens and other illegal imports, used by individuals like Obama’s Mom, criminals and even our Gov’t for such?

As to Sotomayor, her many racist and sexist comments are available on the web and now in the Senate’s records for YOU to look up, for yourself. Liberals -- unencumbered by doing work. LOL.

Jul. 22 2009 12:36 PM

-- would reforms to the insurance industry in general such as higher reserve requirements or reinsurance requirments tend to improve the the medical insurance industry in particular?

Jul. 22 2009 12:30 PM
BL Moderator from Varick St. Studios

[[BL Moderator Writes: Folks, please keep in mind the WNYC posting policy, which asks that you remain civil and, most of all, productive to the discussion taking place on the air.
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Jul. 22 2009 12:16 PM
Jennifer from Jersey City

The defensive medicine argument is a red herring. It's an excuse for doctors who see medicine as a handy income stream, and who take advantage of the vulnerabilities of patients who trust them implicitly. I work in health care and see these abuses all the time--excessive ordering of tests that have nothing to do with accepted standards of practice (so skipping those tests wouldn't indicate deficient practice), but just help these ethically challenged physicians pay their mortgages, their lexus payments, and put their kids through school. The sense of entitlement and greed drives the excessive testing as much or more than defensive medicine does--not every case involves a high likelihood of getting sued. And for patients who suffer serious adverse effects from poor treatment (usually at the hands of just the type of lousy doctors I've described here) shouldnt they have a right to compensation that reflects the true impact upon their lives rather than some arbitrary sum suggested by the AMA, that monument to self-interest?

Look at Texas, certain regions have caps on malpractice settlements, and still have the highest cost of care just about anywhere. Mayo Clinic has a very successful model, with doctors on salary, not fee-for-service. Want to lower costs, stop abusive practices, AND decrease lawsuits (because the care there actually has better outcomes than elsewhere in the country), then why don't we talk more about adopting their model? I guess that would make too much sense.

Jul. 22 2009 12:14 PM
David Morrison from Ossining, NY

1.Why have we not set sought out the help of other countries whom already have working systems in place? would you consider asking the Heads of foreign health care systems to weigh in and give us Help in finding a solution for our country.

2.Why do you think there can be any equity in service given to a patient when someone is making a profit? would it not be favorable to all the Patient (the Citizens of this country) to find a Non-Profit (government run, single payer) solution so that health care workers dont have to worry about making money, and can focus on treating patients.

Jul. 22 2009 12:13 PM
hjs from 11211

yes it's because they vote and congress fears them

Jul. 22 2009 12:04 PM
Jennifer from Jersey City

Why do we always seem to think the cost of healthcare to seniors is the most important thing? Is it because they vote in larger numbers than my age group? For those of us in the middle, age-wise and income-wise, where do these agreements with pharmaceutical companies leave us? Do you really think those companies are going to willingly cut their profits by simply making drugs more affordable for seniors? What is in place to prevent their passing the expense on to the rest of us?

Jul. 22 2009 11:58 AM
hjs from 11211

to add to what ericf said
the assets of medicare medicaid and the VA could be combined. that's were my national healthcare plan would start.

Jul. 22 2009 11:37 AM

-- Has anyone studied the likely effects of using Medicare as the "Public Option" rather than creating a new, partially redundant institution? If a significant portion of those currently uninsured are young and healthy might bringing them into Medicare shift Medicare's demographics in an economically attractive way?

Jul. 22 2009 11:32 AM
hjs from 11211

u wouldn't care if an illegal alien was president. what kind of american are u?!

Jul. 22 2009 11:26 AM
hjs from 11211

the only thing that is clear is that people like u are crazy. where is your proof to make these claims. like ur rants about sotomayor u offer no proof. but keep them coming because they taint the rest of your postions.

Jul. 22 2009 11:24 AM
hjs from 11211

and what about bad doctors who are aloud to still practice, protected by other doctors on medical review boards

Jul. 22 2009 11:19 AM
Cristina Daian from Long Island, New York

How does Mr. President see the fact that the insurance plans are FOR PROFIT organizations and in the time of economical crisis United Health Care is doing very well?
If the insurance companies raise the premiums and co-pays for the patients and decrease the reimbursements fore the doctors, it is only a way to make more profit, driving the costs of health care higher and the quality of care lower. The insurance companies should be NON-PROFIT and that will automatically save the current system enough to cover everybody in US.

Jul. 22 2009 11:18 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA


I wouldn't care if Obama was an illegal alien, which he is, if he was a decent guy and a good President, but because of his upbringing among American radicals and people overseas who don't like America, he clearly grew up hating America and is an awful President who deliberately trying to destroy America.

Jul. 22 2009 11:17 AM

-- as private carriers tend to try to cherry pick their customers, is the public option likely to become a dumping ground for supposedly undesirable patients? if so, what are the cost implications?

-- given the size of total annual US medical expenditures including those of the states and the private sector does the revenue neutral requirement make sense if total savings throughout the economy are to be significantly greater than the cost to the federal government?

-- not all serious medical errors amount to malpractice, but we currently have no system for addressing medical errors short of a malpractice suit which probably results in more litigation than necessary. do any of the current proposals suggest methods or institutions for arriving at remedies for medical errors without malpractice suits?

-- do any of the current proposals contain incentives for medical services providers to implement and/or improve quality assurance programs?

Jul. 22 2009 11:15 AM

if it's not too late to discuss, how does Medicaid and Medicare fit into the government insurance program? does it stay in place, or is it rolled into the new plan?

Jul. 22 2009 11:05 AM
J.G. from NYC

Why are you not addressing malpractice related TORT REFORM?

MDs must practice defensively not efficiently. Fix this broken link in the medical care chain and put an end to wasteful tests and imperatives that cripple the system. Scandinavian system regarding this is a good reference.

Jul. 22 2009 11:04 AM
hjs from 11211


also the Earth is 3000 years old and other fictions.

Jul. 22 2009 10:51 AM
Amy from Manhattan

How would your plan help freelance & part-time workers, who don't get health insurance through work? I'm on the board on the Editorial Freelancers Association, & we're having a harder & harder time offering our members health coverage. In some areas of the US, we can't find insurance coverage at all, & where we can, we've had providers pull out of states or raise premiums by as much as 25% (& in 1 case nearly 50%!). For people whose income isn't constant--& even less so these days--this is a major hardship.

Jul. 22 2009 10:50 AM
Doug from New Jersey

From a 5th grade teacher who finds students are less skeptical than ever, but more cynical.

Maybe this is a softball question, but I’m concerned about the attitude Americans have that we can’t do anything right. While it’s good to be skeptical and demand answers, it’s paralyzing to be cynical.

Here’s the softball:

Why is it that politicians and people on the right are so cynical about America’s potential to improve healthcare? Is there any way to fight this cynicism?

Jul. 22 2009 10:50 AM
Mitch from NY city

Why not make lowering the cost of health care and expanding primary care the main focus of your legislation?

Jul. 22 2009 10:42 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Democracy Now interviewed Obama's former personal doctor who spoke about all of the unnecessary tests we have heard about and he explained that most of these are a result of the need to practice 'defensive medicine' to avoid lawsuits

Jul. 22 2009 10:41 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from Langley, VA

Questions for President Obama a/k/a Soetoro: Does one have to be a US citizen or legal resident to receive health care benefits or are you asking the American taxpayer to pay for millions of illegal aliens, like your Aunt in Mass. who are felons? If yes, then can you please produce a hard copy of a valid birth certificate to be a role model for your subjects? No, you can’t, quel surprise!
1- Kenyan Ambassador admits Obama born in Kenya
Kenyan Ambassador admits Obama born in Kenya on The Mike In The Morning show on WRIF radio, in Detroit, Michigan, called the Kenyan Embassy, and spoke to the Kenyan Ambassador to the United States, Peter Ogego, who admitted that it is a well known fact [in Kenya] that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and plans are underway to build a memorial at the site of his birth. The entire phone call can be heard here:
2 - Affidavit and Tape of interview with Paternal Grandmother Prove that Obama Born in Kenya
This is part of the evidence submitted to the Supreme Court. I had a computer voice read the affidavit that was submitted with the tape, to the Court.
The tape is recorded off a mobile phone so it sounds like a single sidband transmission. Sarah Obama admitted that she was present when Barack Obama was born in Kenya. You can hear her voice near the end of the tape say "Obama Mombassa" when asked where he was born.
3 - Obama Campaign Birth Certificate is a fraud
More on the Obama Birth Certificate. More evidence of forgery on his Birth Certificate that is posted on his web-site. Could his possible adoption to Lolo Soetoro in Indonesia as a child be the reason Obama refuses to release his "Vault" long form?

Jul. 22 2009 10:41 AM

One no brainer reform:

When you present your insurance card at the doctors, require that the entire bill, including all costs, be signed for. This will at least present some modicum of transparency. If the same tests done for your annual checkup is rising every year for example by 30% you could do something about it and nudge your doctor to take action as well.

Jul. 22 2009 10:40 AM
EM from out there

If the general public can't have the plan Congress has, then why shouldn't Congress give up their plan and go on the plan(s) available to the general public? That way Congress would be more in tune with the rest of the population!

Jul. 22 2009 10:39 AM
hjs from 11211

i want to know how much insurance company executives take home. my death and illness is their profit

Jul. 22 2009 10:38 AM
Marissa from Manhattan, NY

What incentives will be included in public-provided health care to reduce the overall long-term costs?

Jul. 22 2009 10:38 AM
Tammy from Manhattan

The debate about health care reform should be more accurately called the debate on insurance reform. I understand that insurers will not be able to deny coverage based on existing conditions, but there is no discussion about what health insurance will actually cover. How many times can I see my GP? Do I need a referral for a specialist? Are the medications I can take limited by the insurers? How much say do they have in my health care? What should my expected cost be, in addition to insurance, for copays, etc.

I expected Obama to identify a goal- "what should the health status of individuals be"- before attempting reform. Insurance alone does nothing to improve the quality of care delivered nor does it guarantee access in any significant way, except statistically.

Jul. 22 2009 10:38 AM
Jim Ford from Brooklyn

Here's how to remember the two programs:
Medi-CARE for the Elderly and Medic-AID for the poor.

Jul. 22 2009 10:38 AM
Scott Smith

Have you had any contact with the benefits managers of this countries major corporations as to what are their concerns as the major payers for healthcare today?

Jul. 22 2009 10:37 AM
Seth from Croton on Hudson, NY

Would you consider including tax or other incentives to encourage annual primary care visits (for patients using either public or private plans)?

Jul. 22 2009 10:36 AM
your mother from pa

why can't we have the plan the congress
gave it self

health care for life

Jul. 22 2009 10:32 AM
Vic from Brooklyn

As a candidate you stated that health care is a human right. Research has shown that the system that goes furthest toward realizing that right is a single payer system, which many Americans support.

Why have you chosen a plan that continues to treat health care as a commodity, will not cover everyone, and won't contain costs? Why do we not examine other countries' systems and model a new system on the ones that work best, rather than clinging to old "American" ideas?

Jul. 22 2009 10:26 AM
Frederick Cohen from Manhattan

Will Obama's health care bill limit access to the Canadian pharmaceutical market? If so, U.S. drug manufacturers should be required to offer their products to Americans at the same price they are available from Canada.

Jul. 22 2009 10:20 AM
Susan Schneider from Chatham NJ

How can we be sure the comparative effectiveness study will not keep us from having access to drug or device treatments that may be less effective for most people but very appropriate and needed for a few? How will we be sure that this study and approach, as well as Advamed rules, will not stifle innovation?

Jul. 22 2009 10:12 AM
Hugh from Brooklyn, NY

Here are some questions for Obama:

1. In the case of health care, will you cave to big business the way you did on the Wall Street bailout and are as we speak on the Employee Free Choice Act?

2. How credible is your promise to seek the best solution when you *begin* the 'debate' (note scare quotes) by ruling out a single-payer option and systematically exclude single-payer advocates from your discussions?

Jul. 22 2009 10:06 AM

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