Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Health Care: Sharron Angle & Joe Heck Just Don't Get It

Yesterday, I attended the health care reform forum just up the street from my house in Henderson. Reps. Dina Titus (D-Henderson) and Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) were there to discuss why they voted for health care reform, and two local constituents shared their compelling personal stories that made me realize why we had to get the ball rolling on this.

Las Vegas resident Jeff Walters said during the event that he supported the federal health care overhaul. He said his son, 4-year-old Preston, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and was treated at a Tucson hospital, where he received a stem cell transplant.

Because his insurance only covered $100,000 of the transplant costs, he said his family had to come up with $20,000. The $100,000 cap is a lifetime cap, Walters said, which means any other transplant would be paid out-of-pocket.

“There’s a high chance of relapse,” said Paula Walters, while holding her son.

Neuroblastoma can be a very frightening nerve cancer for young ones. And even with treatment, it can still reoccur. $100,000 may seem like "a lot of money", but when it comes to treating cancer, it may not be enough... Especially if it ever reoccurs.

Under the new Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer set lifetime coverage caps. Annual coverage limits are also starting to be phased out. Hopefully, this means we won't have to hear more stories like the Walters'.

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And we won't have to hear more stories like the Kosters'...

Preston is doing fine today, and even attended the forum. But that wasn’t the case for Kelly Kosters‘s sister, [Christy]. [Christy Annett] beat leukemia more than a decade ago, only to have a re-lapse and see her new insurance company refuse to cover her, claiming she’d lied on her application. She struggled to get care, only to see a bone marrow transplant performed at the City of Hope facility fail. A final blow: The decision by UMC managers to close the outpatient cancer treatment center at the valley’s only public hospital.

[Christy Annett] died in January 2009, just shy of her 31st birthday.

Christy Annett had already run past her lifetime limit with her previous insurer. And even though she told about her past leukemia bout and the insurance company didn't raise a stink then, they later denied her coverage when she relapsed and the leukemia came back. That led to the desperate search for someone, anyone, who could help, then the failed City of Hope bone marrow transplant, then being shut out of everywhere but UMC, then that final blow of UMC shutting down its outpatient cancer treatment center due to budget cuts. (And we'll talk about that issue later!)

Kelly Kosters' sister died, and the insurance industry yet again had blood on its hands.

And she's not alone.

And there are many more stories like theirs throughout Nevada and across America. That's why the Affordable Care Act was passed, to allow for third party appeals, so that the same insurance company bureaucrats can't keep denying people the care they need. Of course, there's far more in the Affordable Care Act that's now going into effect that helps consumers.

Here's Dina Titus explaining it (back in March):

And in case you want it in writing, here's the rundown of what we're starting to see.

Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents’ policy until their 27th birthday

Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions

No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage

Free preventative care for all

Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online.

While these will not be cheap, they’re still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insureds.

Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50% of what they pay for employees’ health insurance.

The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.

Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.

Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders’ amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay.

AND no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can't lose your insurance because you get sick.

However, the Republicans running for Congress here in Nevada are promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And not just that, they want to coddle the insurance industry even more than they had been before health care reform passed!

After all, Sharron Angle considers all of us "special interests"!

And one of the problems is unfunded, well they are unfunded, but these mandates on insurance companies to provide coverage for things that people don’t even really need! And what we need to do is get rid of those mandates, let you provide a comprehensive coverage that takes care of what people need and allows them to buy them the things that they have to have, not things that are mandated by the government. A similar policy, as the things that people write for car insurance, and life insurance, you know you write something that fits the need of a person rather than fitting what the government has done for some politically correct special interest and that’s how we got those mandates.” [emphasis mine]

Oh yes, that's right. She called me a "special interest". She called you a "special interest". She called pregnant women "special interests". She called cancer survivors "special interests". And of course, she (again!) called autistic kids "special interests".

Angle: Insurance mandates are product of government bowing to “politically correct special interest” [...]

Such as Big Autism or Big Colonoscopies or Big Pregnant Women, perhaps?

That last one may be politically incorrect, but it is political correctness Angle cited last month in a speech to the Association of Health Underwriters on August 10 in explaining her opposition to mandates on insurance companies.

Recent revelations about Angle's disdain for mandates -- her vote against including colon cancer screenings and her deriding autism coverage -- reflect a consistent belief that government should not tell insurance companies what they have to cover. I suppose, on the day that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is here promoting health care reform, that opposition would include mandating insurers not boot folks for having pre-existing conditions.

After all, how could we ever forget this?

Or this!

Or this!

Joe Heck, the teabagger darling running against Dina Titus, was all too often the insurance industry's best friend in the legislature. Just like Angle, he often opposed requiring insurance companies to cover such basic preventive care as prostate cancer screenings and vaccination to prevent HPV and cervical cancer!

Because their big corporate buddies at "Tea Party, Inc." are supporting them, Angle and Heck do as they're told... Including denying much needed health care to Nevada's working families if the "Tea Party, Inc." powers that be think it's "too much".

We've talked before about Joe Heck's uncanny resemblance to Sharron Angle...

But in case anyone was still wondering just how alike their views are and just how dangerous their teabagger approved agenda is, this confirms it. Neither cares one bit about the many benefits Nevadans will see from health care reform, and both have no problem picking big corporate profits over what's best for us. And neither one gets it.

But you know who does? Dina Titus does. She held numerous town halls throughout the district last year. She listened to us the constituents and what we needed out of health care reform. And despite the corporate lobby spending $1.3 million to intimidate her, she did the right thing and made sure reform worked for Nevadans.

And of course, health care reform wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Harry Reid making it happen in Congress! And of course, he made it happen so that more Nevadans can access quality, affordable care.

Unlike Angle getting her marching orders from some big money California Republican consultants, Reid takes his queues from real Nevadans.

That's why he and Dina Titus get it.

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